Amanda Hopper Writes

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

Month: December 2012

Christmas Lights: Redneck Style

You know those hilarious videos that go viral? The ones depicting mundane tasks that go bad and become the things of legend?
Yeah, me neither. Because I’m too busy trying to survive incidents like those to watch them on the computer.
There are times I am pretty sure I am married to Clark Griswold. Thankfully, my husband’s crazy schemes usually succeed in the end, but the span of time between the idea and the end?
It’s the stuff of gray hair and frown lines.
Take an innocent chore like hanging Christmas lights. In normal families- I assume cause I don’t have one- the Hubs climbs the ladder and the Mrs. hands up the lights. Bada bing, bada boom, an hour later the strings have been strung and Christmas can commence.
My house? Well it’s built on a hill. So we must engineer blocks of wood in various sizes and thicknesses to place under the ladder legs to attempt a level surface. My job of holding the ladder becomes much more precarious when the possibility exists that I alone will have to save the only income earner in the family if the wind blows too hard.
And what happens when the wood blocks cannot level the uneven surface below the ladder? Hubs gets that evil twinkle in his eye, disappears for several minutes, and returns with this:

After many promises from Hubs that this is a perfectly safe option, I give in and hold the ladder while trying not to imagine the possible newspaper articles that this effort, gone awry, could produce in the local paper.
Little do I know that this is the easy bit.

Hubs: “Bob does this all the time.”   Me: “Are you talking about the guy down the road that only has two fingers?”

Well, once again my doubting nature is proved wrong. The ladder holds perfectly
and the lights look fabulous.
But these little victories usually serve to drive the Hubs toward more bizarre antics. Sure, today it’s the Christmas lights, but tomorrow?

Family Dinner

I have a confession. We rarely ate dinner together as a family before this Fall.
That fact gave me tremendous guilt for years. The Hubs usually didn’t get home until around 8 pm, the kids were always needing to be wrangled, then in later years wrangled and driven somewhere. But on September 17th of this year, things changed.
The Hubs started working from home.
Those of you who know my husband and I well are balking. You know that I, when not volunteering or cleaning, love being a hermit. I adore the quiet of the farm and find great joy in getting lost inside of stories, whether it be reading them or writing them.
Hubs on the other hand, well he is a social creature *rolls eyes with the absurdity of the understatement*. As a rule, he never goes longer than ten minutes without talking. And fake-listening is out, there is a precedent for pop quizzes…
So when my handsome-force-of-nature invaded my quiet paradise, there were casualties. The first month was rough, I’m not gonna lie, but the storm passed and we are once again speaking.
Just kidding.
He’s speaking. I’m listening…
But we weren’t the only ones who had to adjust. The boys had their routines and their dad had rarely been around to witness the mass chaos organized evenings of homework, cleaning and dinner preparation. Needless to say, things changed.
Like family dinners.
I don’t have much experience with this time-honored tradition but I’m pretty sure we’re doing it wrong. In my head, I picture well-dressed family members surrounding a table filled with serving platters, napkins and properly placed silverware.
Our table, on the other hand, has mismatched plates and varying lengths of paper towels serving as napkins. Youngest divys out the silverware and his motto is “You get what you get and don’t throw a fit.” While I have, on occasion, had to eat spaghetti with a spoon, I appreciate the effort.
I also appreciate that Youngest has an artistic slant and likes to arrange the fruit bowl in pretty colors for our dining pleasure. Sometimes, he even adorns the table with flowers in a mason jar. I have learned to smile through gritted teeth when it is a petaled-stem from one of my bushes.
I always pictured family dinners as somber affairs, with polite conversation mingling among the sounds of forks and knives on china. Not little boys chewing the middle out of their grilled cheese, and using peas to demonstrate how the event horizon created by a Stargate will most certainly vaporize people.
Or ceremoniously stabbing a knife into bread declaring, “The sword in the biscuit,” while each testosterone-gifted person takes turns trying to prove their kingly-ness by struggling to free the sword.
Or that inevitable moment that someone says something unbearably funny and milk spurts like a fountain across the table from a mouth, or worse, a nose.
What am I doing wrong?
As the only girl in the house, my answer is clear.
It’s the boys’ fault.

Hunting and Other Life Lessons

It’s deer season again in Texas, which means I only see Hubby and Oldest after dark. While they have not trenched plumbing and electrical lines out to the deer stand, they have put furniture and food out there. And no, the boys haven’t tagged a buck this year, but they did scare the furry pants off one that stood still for too long.
I vote for a hunting-with-truck season to be added to the calendar. With the males in rut, running around like hungry men in a bacon store, I could have bagged two already:)
Youngest has a hard time processing the concept of hunting. It’s one thing to learn the origins of the meat you eat, it’s another to see it. He will currently only eat chicken… “cause they’re annoying.”
I have had many first-grade-level discussions about the gift of hunting and the responsibility of using the animal to it’s fullest potential if you kill it. Which got me into a pickle the night my truck plowed over an armadillo that was running, much faster than I thought possible, across the road.
A horrible wail erupted in the back seat and I immediately tried to console Youngest with explanations of how there is no way I could have avoided the animal and that he died quickly.
“But now we have to EAT him!”
What?
I hit the brakes. “What are you talking about?”
“We have to eat the animals we kill.” More wailing.”I don’t like marmodillos, they’re too crunchy!”
*shaking with silent laughter into the steering wheel*
“You don’t *wipes tears from eyes* have to eat the ones *choking down giggles* you kill with your *not gonna make it* car, Sweetie.”
I didn’t make it. I couldn’t drive for five minutes. It was the kind of laughter that hurts, you know, when you can’t catch your breath and your ribs feel like they’re gonna burst.
Thankfully Youngest forgave my ity-bity murder with strict instructions that I never do it again. I just hope he told the marmodillos…

Picture courtesy of www.odditycentral.com.