Friday, September 2, 2016

Smiles and tears and hellos and goodbyes.

Once it was summer and I was seventeen years old.

Once we were wild and crazy. We piled bikes in the back of my daddy's red Ford truck and piled ourselves up front, ate ice cream bars, rolled the windows down and turned the music up loud.

The rodeo happened. Everybody for miles around put on their cowboy boots and hopped in their trucks (or their dorky Volvo, if your name is Anderson) and drove out to Rodeo City to sit on the bleachers under the lights and watch history being made in all its dust and glory. My sisters and I sat on those bleachers three times, cheering and screaming with the rest of the working-class America, going wild when the cowboy stayed on that bull for eight seconds, laughing with our cousins, enjoying the simple wonder of being a live on a starry August night.

The county fair happened. Some guy named Dustin Lynch took the stage and rocked it, with his cowboy hat and his white teeth, so shiny you could see them gleam all the way up in the grandstand. The girls left their seats and scurried down closer to get a better look, swooning when he sang 'Cowboys and Angels', laughing and singing along when he broke into 'I've Got Friends in Low Places' (even though the only words they knew were from the Tim Hawkins parody). I was one of those girls; we stood between the grandstand and the preferred seating, as far as we could go without being stopped by security (or until we were stopped by security) and danced like crazy girls while people walked by and spilled beer on us, but we didn't care because it was a hot summer night and the music was good and it was the time to let loose and be wild.

Once we went to the fair again and saw HUNTER HAYES. The sky burned pink and the fair lights glittered and he stood up on that stage with his blue guitar and he smiled that smile and sang all those songs I love so much and made us all feel like we'd been friends all our lives. He made us feel wanted. When he went over to the piano and sat down and started playing 'Invisible', I lost it all and started crying right there. I screamed and jumped up and down and sang along loud as I could and tried to snapshot the entire night in my mind, so I'd never forget one bit of it. I never will.

Once the six cousins climbed in the big red diesel and drove and hour to see Lee Brice. (Seriously, Dustin Lynch? Who is that guy?) We sat on the bleachers, all in a line, and proved that it is possible to dance just as crazy as the people down front when you're sitting way back in the grandstand and you're not drinking alcohol. He played 'Drinking Class' and we screamed. He sang 'I Don't Dance' and we wandered closer, to get a better look, and my cousin danced with me, and there was not one person there more drunk on love and happiness than I was.

Once I lost a bunny; once a kind person brought me two more to make me feel better. (I'll love him forever.) Once I let someone read my novel, and glory be she actually enjoyed it. Once I started writing a story that held all my sorrows and joys pent-up over the last year, my silly quirks and fond memories. I didn't finish it but I'm going to.

Once I mooned over Ram trucks. Once I rode the biggest ferris wheel I've ever seen in my life and didn't get scared. Once I started to not be afraid of waiting on customers anymore, and once I sold a lady a quart of nectarines for the price of a pint of plums.

Friends, this has been one heck of a summer. I've written it all down in long rambling journal entries, all of the inconsequential and maybe petty but so important things of my little seventeen-year-old life. Stupid things. Beautiful things. But they're what made my summer wonderful. All the late nights and early mornings and loud trucks and zinnias and bushels of beans, smiles and tears, hellos and goodbyes.

I learned some things this summer, thank goodness. I learned to let go of some things and hold tighter to others. I learned that when you're parking your dad's truck you should never underestimate the distance between the end of the gravel and the ditch beyond....I learned that I'm the most fickle person I know, and I learned that while there are nasty people in the world, there are still so many good ones and a bunch of those live right in my neighborhood. I learned that getting gas at the gas station is not actually that scary! Yay! Oh yeah, and I learned that if you pay for the gas, it gives you the right to take your parents' car on a long detour on a dirt road....but when you come home, you can't pretend you didn't, because the car's gonna be all dusty and everyone will know what you've been doing. Can't hide it.

I also learned that it's time for me to move on, in a lot of ways. I've gotta grow up sometime. I'll always have one foot stuck over in childhood, I think....but I'm not the same girl I used to be. I'm not the same girl I was when I started this blog three years ago. I'm learning to love that girl (even though she could be an idiot sometimes) but I don't want to go back. It's taken a long time for me to say that -- believe me. But I'm finally ready to put some things behind me and go forward with a smile on my face.

The other night my cousin left for college. We told him to drive by our farm on his way, and parked all our vehicles up close to the road with the lights on bright and we climbed up on the hoods and sat there and waited for him to drive by. When he did we waved our arms and cheered. I cried, because I love my cousin and I hate goodbyes.

When people ask me why I haven't been posting much this summer I've been saying it's because I'm "low on inspiration", but I realized I shouldn't be saying that because it's really not true. Inspiration is bursting my seams. I'm drowning in it. It's not inspiration that's the problem, it's me. My inspiration is running in different directions now. I don't have it in me to keep on with things here. This will be the last post on this blog, friends. For awhile at least. Maybe not forever. I can't say right now. I don't want this to be goodbye -- only see you later.

I wouldn't be here writing this if it weren't for you all. Writing my thoughts here has been SO much fun over the years, and I thank you all sincerely for joining the ride! I'll always keep these times in my heart. These were good times. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

photo credit: Molly
I hope y'all had a wonderful summer. :-) Till next time, friends.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

"Are we going to have tea, or not?"

highclere | More Downton Abbey photos here:

It's Downton Abbey Week!

That means allllll week you're going to be treated to a whole bunch of gushing and swooning and oohing and aahing and flailing fangirl fanatics from a certain community of bloggers, all orchestrated by the lovely and talented Naomi whom you may know, and if you don't, well then, I'm sorry about your life. (That was a nice way of saying get thee over to this blog.)

To start things off, she's got a lovely little tag which I am going to have fun answering, and I hope you likewise have fun reading it. ;-)  

1. Who introduced you to Downton Abbey?

One spring day in 2013, my mother brought home the first season from the grocery store. We'd heard about it from various friends/acquaintances and were all mildly interested, and my mom has this tendency to buy DVD's with very little provocation, so that was how it started. I wasn't completely convinced it would be good, because at fourteen I thought anything so popular would have to be beneath me. (I had issues when I was fourteen.) But like with most things, I realized as soon as I started watching it that I was wrong. Because it was and is amazing and those early days of Downton, when my sisters and I were first being swept away in the current of obsession, will always be some of my fondest memories.

2. What Season did you (or: do you think you would) enjoy the most?


Well, Season One maybe. Season One has such a raw, original classic-ness to it that wears off a little in the following seasons. But Season Two gives me CHILLS. You've got the War, and the whole hospital-deal, and Branson Being Naughty, and MARY AND MATTHEW....yeah. Season Two.

3. Who wore the prettiest wedding dress?

I like Mary's best. It's so sleek and lovely and so her.

4. What plot twist/ scene came most unexpected to you? (Or do you pre-read all the spoilers?)

I NEVER READ SPOILERS. (I know you do, Naomi.) Really, I try to avoid spoilers at all costs, but Pinterest sometimes backfires and I end up knowing something before I wanted to. That was how it happened with Matthew...that time, I knew what was coming (but that didn't make it any easier). And I knew Mary would end up with Henry, and I knew there was going to be a fire, but mostly I don't know what's going to happen. The thing that surprised me the MOST was Sybil's end. That, Julian Fellowes, I will always hate you a little bit for.

5. If you could save one character from dying, who would you save?

MatthewSybil. (Don't ask me impossible questions.)

6. Who is your favourite Downton Abbey footman?

William is a SWEETHEART and I love him and all, but...I actually really care about Thomas! Which is so ironic because at the beginning I hated Thomas and thought he was awful and ewwwwwww, but now that he's been through so much and we've been through so much with him and I know him more, I really have a soft spot for Thomas. He's not foul. He's not like you, Mr. Carson, but he's not foul.

7. What typo annoys you more? "Downtown Abbey" or "Downton Abby"?


This drives me CRAZY. They're both awful, but probably Downtown Abbey, because I see more people do it (and hear people say it allllll the time and it's like, really guys, this show has been going on for six years and you still haven't got it right?!)

8. Which character do you think developed the best throughout the seasons?

Mary. Or Thomas. Or Edith. Oh yes, Edith. I like her EVER SO MUCH better now than I did, and I'm so relieved she's finally happy!

9. Favourite Downton couple? (Okay, pick two, because there's too much cuteness to narrow down to one.)

Mary & Matthew and Sybil & Branson.

10. Which of Granny Grantham's one-liners is your favourite?

Talk about impossible's one of my favorites: "Do we think she's mad, ill, or working for the Russians?"

No guest should be admitted without the date of their departure settled. #DowntonAbbey

11. How do you react when you meet another DA-lover?

  I usually ask them what they thought of this or that, who's their favorite character, yadayadaya. It's always a lovely thing to meet a fellow fan and it should happen more often. :-)

12. Do you think the show should go on and on, or do you think it should have ended earlier?

   Part of me wishes it had ended before so many people died, but part of me loves the later seasons too much. I guess I'm fairly content with the way things turned out.

Rose and Atticus . Downton Abbey:

13. Which room in Downton Abbey is your favourite?

I love the big library/parlor/study room with the fireplace and all the books on the walls.

14. If you could be part of the story, would you rather be a person downstairs or upstairs?

Downtstairs. I like working more than sitting around writing letters and having tea. When we first started watching the show I yearned to be a maid like Anna and I took all the pictures off my bedroom walls so it would be plain like hers. 

15. Who would you rather spend an afternoon with, Mrs Patmore or Lady Grantham (Cora)?

What?! I don't know! They'd both be fun and I'd probably be in tears from laughing by the end. Let's say Mrs. Patmore. She could teach me how to make brownies properly. (ahem....)

16. Do you have any Downton Abbey inside jokes with someone?

I don't know, Naomi, you tell me. 

17. Describe the show in one word.

Say it with me guys: DRAMA.

Ethel and Charlie <<<<< NOOOO WHY DID I EVEN PIN THIS.:

18. On a scale of 1-10, how much of a fan do you consider yourself?

An 8. There are times I REALLY REALLY get into it, like when I'm watching the newest season with my mom and sisters, but overall in day-to-day life I don't watch/talk/think about it that much.

19. Do you sometimes forget who is who?

Nope. I don't think so. 

susannawolff:    collegehumor:    Downton Abbey Character Name Guide  Just jumping in to Downton Abbey? Or just bad at remembering people? Here’s the fastest, simplest character primer.    I hope this helps.:

20. Finally, who is your favourite character (okay, pick three favourites, but no more than three - NO MORE), and why do you love them? 

#1) Branson. He's Irish and he's a car mechanic. That alone would be enough, but he's so full of passion for his causes and even when he acts like an idiot, I still care about him. He's like my rascally child -- I want to slap him sometimes, but in the end I love him to pieces. I liked him waaaaay better when he was the scrappy revolutionary and I don't really like it how he calmed down so much and started hanging around the estate being everyone's motivational speaker, but still: I love him.

#2) Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Hughes is the BEST. She's the one you can count on, the one you can tell all your problems to and she'll make them better, the one you can trust. She's a true-blue friend.

#3) Anna (Smith) Bates, because she's so humble and kind, and she was my favorite right from the very beginning.

Anna and Mary:

Run along to Naomi's blog and see what else is cooking for this week!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Trucks on the Bridge

We've got a farm, see.

My folks do, that is. And we have a stand, where we sell the things we grow, a little white building with a blue tin roof that sit on the corner of two county roads.

     Every day at six o'clock we close up the stand for the night, and every day at six o'clock, that intersection is busy. From hither and yon the cars and trucks come, whizzing through the green light, screeching to a stop at the red, rumbling over the bridge where the road eventually leads to the Pennsylvania state line.

I'll be out front under the awning, packing up blueberries or carrying in tomatoes or something, and I'll hear the sound of a diesel engine and peek underneath the awning at the bridge where there sits a big ol' Ford truck on a lift-kit with smokestacks on the back and a nineteen-year-old kid at the wheel. And just the sight of that gets my heart to racing. Just the idea of it sparks a fuse in me that I sometimes wish I could blow out.

 It's just a truck.

A dirty old truck and some redneck kid driving it. It's not a big deal.

But it is a big deal because HE'S DRIVING A TRUCK AND HE'S WEARING A BALL CAP.

 I'm going to be honest with you folks: I'm a little redneck crazy.

When most people think of New York, they think of New York City. A lot of people don't think of NY as being much of an agricultural state. We have NYC, Broadway, West Point, Niagara Falls, stuff like that. You don't expect cow pastures and rural communities and tractors on the county roads slowing down traffic. But where I come from, that's the way we live.

Now that I've seen a lot of NY state, I can say a large part of it is rural. Where I live, on the edge of NY and PA, we have farms. Another thing we've got?


Who wear ball caps.

And fly 'Don't Tread On Me' flags.

And drive around big loud trucks.

Here's the Webster's Dictionary definition of a redneck: a white member of the working class in the South.

Here's my own definition of a redneck, personalized, localized, and elaborated: an individual who lives in NY or Pa, wears jeans and ball caps, listens to country music, hunts/fishes/rides horses, and drives around a big noisy truck. Usually male between the ages of 18 and 80, and usually really really attractive.

    I have a predicament, and my predicament is that I'm surrounded by hot redneck boys and I don't know what to do.

Being as I am a girl through and through, I'm a little boy crazy. Always have been, if I'm honest. I can't help myself. At seventeen I've never had a fella in any way, shape or form. The closest I've come to all that monkey business was last year at the county fair when a random boy came up to me and told me I was 'cute'. (Among the top Most Awkward Moments in my life to date. Right up there with driving my daddy's truck into a ditch.) In my own opinion, I'm still too young to mess with having a fella. I'm too immature and I'm too flighty and besides I wouldn't know what the heck to do with him if I had one anyway. I'm not ready. I don't want a boyfriend.

....But at the same time, I really want a boyfriend.

Especially when I listen to Luke Bryan (which you really shouldn't do, ladies, if you know what's good for you) and when I watch Clara and Robert Wheeler in Into the West and when I see hot redneck boys driving by in their souped-up trucks, with their diesel engines buzzing louder than kingdom come. That's when I start to falter and grow weak at the knees and drift down that path of dangerous wishing....

I wish I had one.

I don't know, but I think just maybe, if you're a girl like me, you know what I mean.

The truth, inconvenient though it may be, is that I'm ridiculously attracted to rednecks. This is a fact of life. The boys who drive big trucks and listen to loud music and love getting attention and chase after girls....Strange and confusing as it is, that kind of thing -- well, it turns me on.

But really, when I think about it, I probably won't marry somebody like that. Anybody I marry will likely not be so attention-drawing. Redneck boys are full of themselves. Just because I'm innately attracted to that doesn't mean it would last. After the excitement wore off, what would have to talk about? Trucks? Now, I can talk about trucks for a long time, but we're talking long-term here. We're talking serious, like, forever.

Guys, I'm a romantic. I also believe very strongly in God. And because of this, I believe there is one fella out there for me and one fella only. I'm going to find him one day. Or he's going to find me. Somehow it's going to happen that we're in the same place at the same time and then the spark's gonna hit the gunpowder.

There may be others before he comes. I'm not one of those people who believes you should only date one person for a definite amount of time and then marry them, just because that's what everybody wants you to do. But neither is it right to just fly off the handle and go through boyfriends/girlfriends like contact lenses or socks. Like I said, I still don't know. (And I'm sure not going to pretend I do.) But this is one thing I don't want to be practical about. I don't want to go through life and love with a road map and only take the turns I'm 'supposed' to. I don't want to look at it in a logical way. (Put aside the math and the logic of it.) I don't want to listen to statistics and jump over the puddles that come along...I want to wade through them. Love is too precious to handle with so much care sometimes. Love is wild. You can't put it in a neat and tidy box. You can try, but you'll lose something.

I'm learning that there are things in life that are better appreciated when you don't think about them too much. Love is one of them, especially when you're seventeen.

Stewing over this, I'm wondering what I should do. It's hard being a redneck crazy girl on the state line of New York and Pennsylvania. It's hard watching all those trucks whiz by, and when the ache sets in and that longing I can't really escape, it's hard to know how to feel. It's hard to know what to do with everything I feel.

But you know something?

It won't last forever.

 And someday, maybe soon, I'm going to find something that will.

These days only come once.

So I'm thinking I'll keep on keeping on. I'm thinking I'll bide my time and keep my fingers crossed and pray a blue streak. Because I'm seventeen and I'm a girl and girls are allowed to act silly over trucks because it don't hurt nobody. And I'll watch the people around me who know tons more about love than I do, and I'll write it all down, and I'll listen to Luke Bryan. Because youth is youth and it's a gift God gives us and it's like nothing else in this world.

And in the meantime, it can't hurt to keep my eyes out for those trucks that come barreling over the bridge every day at six o'clock.

(photo credit: Mary)

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