Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: July 2011

Catching a Wave

Have you ever spent hours in the ocean trying to body surf the perfect wave? Time ticks by as you wait with quiet anticipation for that deep pull on your legs that signals the coming of a big one that will send you speeding like a dolphin toward the soft sandy shore?
As I sat staring at the bright blue-green waters of South Padre last week I suddenly realized that catching a wave is exactly like waiting for cell reception on the country.
Cell reception was not too much of a problem when we bought the property. If we stood at the high point of the land we could usually snag a few bars and call the civilized world.
That was February.
By July, as the house was taking shape, you practically had to stand on the newly framed roof to order a pizza. The difference a few months makes?
Leaves.
February means naked trees while July presents the pillars of glory fully dressed and interfering with those invisible waves connecting me to the cell tower. And while I greatly appreciate the well watered spring we had, the trees this July are fuller and stretching taller than last year.
Great for the view, bad for communication.
Nowadays you might find me walking slowly through the house or on one of the porches, then suddenly freezing to raise a cell phone to my ear. Like a cat stalking a field mouse, I stalk signal bars. I have seriously given thought to climbing our tower just to make a phone call.
My friends and family think I avoid them, or worse hang up on them when disconnected. Because like those fish-filled swells racing toward the beach, cell signals around here come and go, usually leaving me stranded twenty feet from the shore.
So to all of those of you who have not received a call back, or those of you who cursed my rudeness for hanging up on you, I can only say that we are working on it. My techie husband has been brainstorming contraptions that will eventually have our farm looking like a FEMA station, but we WILL have cell reception! 
I know what you’re thinking, “just get a land-line!” I did bring that up with Andy but the look on his face said, “antiquated… who are you woman?!”
It really could be a new reality show…

Ten techies stranded in the middle of nowhere will test all of their skill and powers of invention to regain communication with the outside world. Who will prevail?

Swimming Hole

Have you ever uttered the words “What a redneck!”?
Well I have discovered why there are so many rednecks in the country…it is a contagious disease.
An ancient virus that lurks far below the surface of the earth in the pockets of water known as aquifers. Those are the same aquifers that country folk depend on for water in the way-out-yonder.
And I have become infected.
I walk out to the stock tank in my shorts and boots. I hang my clothes outside to dry. And now the biggest sign that one is a redneck graces our side yard.
An above-ground pool.
At first I fought it, I promised myself that it would only be temporary. That someday, we would rejoin the more civilized society and pay way too much for an in-ground pool. I dreamed of far reaching patios and flaming tiki torches on sultry summer nights.
But my husband assured me it would be no problem for us to build the unsightly structure, promised there were Youtube videos proving the ease of installation. So I grudgingly agreed and we began gathering the many parts required to turn sheets of metal and vinyl into a swimming pool.
Andy worked for weeks leveling the ground upon which the pool would stand. Apparently placing a pool on a hill is ill-advised. He even built a water level to span the 18 feet to ensure a flat spot on our strangely hilly land.
The day finally arrived when everything was ready and friends came to lend extra hands. Everyone had viewed the installation video and was prepared to swim in a few hours.
The video had shown two people, a man and a woman, quickly build the physics-defying contraption in six easy steps and no sweat required. If two people could do it so easily, nine would be way more than enough.
Seven hours and four newly invented curse words later, the pool was filling up with water. Seven hours of standing with our arms spread wide holding the metal walls while being scorched by the sun. Seven hours of yelling at the kids if they scratched their nose. Seven hours of no bathroom breaks. Seven hours of plotting our own installation video for Youtube. A video that would have to be rated R for the amount of expletives uttered by the, no less than twelve, people needed to stand in a horribly uncomfortable position for fear of a slight breeze would turn the pool walls into a giant sail.
Even after all of that anguish, I love that pool. A swimming hole, on top of the ground, is the best place to cool off after working on the ranch during a blistering Texas summer. A wonderful place to talk of big dreams with the kids while they float in the crystal blue water.
My favorite thing about the pool?
That it is above ground. The hordes of animals that call our place home can’t seem to navigate the ladder for a dip. We are now plotting an extensive porch structure connecting the upper porch on the back of the house to our pool down below just so we no longer have to race in the black of night to the house all while praying nothing with sharp teeth is standing between us and the safety of the garage. The peace of floating under the stars in the black of night makes running the gauntlet worth it.
I wish I had pictures of the installation itself, but I would have been flogged by my husband for abandoning my post…

Is it ready yet?

Now?

  Is it ready NOW?

Swimming may commence!