Amanda Hopper Writes

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

Month: December 2011

Death by Marriage

I have always known that I would die someday. I guess everyone contemplates their mortality at some point or another. Strangely I have had to face mine a lot this last year and a half.
Probably because I am spending a lot more “quality” time with my husband.
By quality I mean rolling giant hay bales, chasing 1500 pound cows, throwing three cords of chopped pecan wood piece by piece to fill the wood pile, bracing the legs of deer stands while they are being hoisted over top of me, and inevitably finding myself holding something that my precious husband calmly tells me not to jostle for fear of explosion.
Well, this past weekend brought more “bonding” time…over a chainsaw.
After being summoned, I grudgingly pull on my boots and Andy hands me my leather gloves.
That should have been my first clue.
My leather gloves are only used while working with hay or barbed wire. I look around for more context clues before I respond to Andy’s question of, “Are you ready?” No wire stretcher, no wire cutters, no axes….only the sight of the tractor pulling an empty trailer.
Innocent enough.
So I nod and just as we step onto the grass he stops and says, “You should get some eye protection.”
Uh oh.
The trouble with eye protection? It only protects your EYES!
I cannot hide the grimace on my face as I slip the glasses over my baby blues. Right then, Grant walks past me with a look on his face that says good luck. Now I’m really worried. The only reason Grant would be banned from helping is if the activity had been deemed too hazardous.
A bad taste starts filling my mouth as I follow Andy, chainsaw in hand, out to the side of the house. I begin to relax as he walks up to a tree and starts trimming limbs. He just wants help loading the limbs in the trailer.
No big deal.
Until I notice that the said tree is a Honey Locust, a.k.a. Spiky-Tree-of-Death. I stare down at my clothes and wonder if I have enough protection from the thorns known to flatten backhoe tires.
Want a real glimpse into how ticked off God was when Eve ate the apple? Spend a few hours hacking down a locust tree. They literally fight back as you hoist the cut limbs into the trailer. Like trying to pry a little kid off a toy at Chuck E. Cheese in attempts to take them home. Or like that knock-down-drag-out you had during Black Friday two years ago as you pulled the last Tickle Me Elmo from the shelf. 
Curse words are cut in half by screams of oww as the six inch thorns snag your most vulnerable places.The more you move the more entangled you become. A true test of patience and strength of a marriage; you must hold perfectly still while being impaled and wait for your significant other to free you. Then they become impaled and tangled and you must work to free them.
Like a waltz… with a porcupine.
I am happy to report that both my clothes and my marriage survived the encounter. Not only did we murder the #%&@* thing, we found a small oak tree growing right in the middle of it. A few stakes later, the tree is now free to grow strong and old under big blue skies and breathtaking sunsets. And if I survive long enough, I will have a perfect view from the front porch rocker.

The War of the Pants

There has been no bloodshed yet…it’s more of a cold war.
The dawning of December has brought on the morning ritual of arguing with one little boy (Sam) about their choice of clothing.
Or lack thereof…
Children in Texas are accustomed to grilling Christmas dinner, keeping shorts in their drawers all year, and using hoodies as winter coats. But the new month brought cold weather, 40’s, and the fact that I am still seeing naked knees is killing me!
I have heard all of the excuses; the school is warm, the gym is hot, too rainy for outdoor recess, pants are dirty, and my favorite from their enabling father “He’s less likely to get sick if he stays a little cold.”
Guess that’s why we haven’t turned on the heater yet this year…but that’s for another blog.
The first few battles left me winded and traumatized. Now I dig in at the bottom of the stairs and wait for the approach…
Boom, Boom, Boom (the sound of feet running down the stairs)
“Go change.”
“But moooommmm…”
“No buts.”
“No. Mom. I have to tell you someth..”
“Authorization denied, go change. And you may no longer use the word no in negotiations.”
“Instead of…”
“No.”
Ian is now yelling that he needs milk; that he hasn’t had anything to drink for over a week and is dying.  
“However…”
“No.”
“Unlike…”
“No.”
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp (the sound of feet back up the stairs)
This is when I pack the lunches…
Boom. Boom. Boom (feet on second trip down the stairs)
“Those are just a different color of shorts!”
“My pants are dirty!”
Now Grant has decided that this very room has the perfect acoustics to practice his trumpet and we begin screaming to be heard over the sound of dying elephants.  
“There are clean ones on the dryer!”
“We are running in gym today.”
“Interesting. You know your legs still function when they are fully covered, right?”
“But my friend wears shorts everyday!”
“If all of your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?!”
“That depends. Are they being chased by a lion?”
“Samuel! You are crab-nuts-crazy if you think I am gonna let you leave this house with shorts on!”
“OK, I’ll just stay home today. Thanks mom!”
Thirty minutes later he walks into school wearing shorts….
I am the worst. soldier. ever.
But I’m cold and exhausted and outnumbered!
I need reinforcements! If only I had one of those matter-altering-laser guns. That way I could just send unmanned drones up the stairs for surprise attacks that leave him wondering how his shorts just morphed into fleece-lined denim jeans!
Maybe I’ll take another approach…
Law School.
I will now use all of this intense arguing as training for my son’s wealthy future. So the next time he fires up the guns I will repeat inwardly,  
Bring it on, momma needs a red jeep… 

A Parade for my Birthday

No, the kitten did not just walk over the keyboard as I was trying to type Prada. Our small town hosted a parade, with floats and the marching band, just for me!
And 2,000 other people….
The parade was originally suposed to take place the Saturday before but God intervened by sending wet weather and freezing temperatures so that it had to be rescheduled.
He’s so thoughtful.
As the boys and I stood at the edge of street, down the first leg of the parade route, I tried to explain to Ian that we were braving 40 degree temps for my personal parade. The look on his little face was priceless… he was so happy for me.
It took a full 14 seconds for him to say, “But I didn’t get a parade for my birthday.”
For those 14 seconds…I was the center of the universe.
A new record.
It’s not always easy being the only girl in a house of boys. If something pink arrives in the mail they look completely perplexed until one of them remembers, Of yeah! Momma’s a girl!
But when they do remember, it’s super sweet. A door held open, a heavy bag of groceries taken from my arms (Grant), party hats made out of wrapping paper (Ian), or homemade brownies to celebrate another year (Sam).
The greatest part is discovering which aspect of my personality each boy notices. Grant understands my love of loud music and deep connection to water. Sam appreciates my book fetish and how cooking makes me happy. Ian loves to dig in the dirt with me and shares my joy in finding caterpillars on the porch.
It’s nice to be loved. It’s comforting to be noticed. And it’s frightening to understand just how much they see….