Julie Tarp

Julie Tarp
Born and bred in Texas. I'm a Screenwriter with a script currently in Development in La-La Land. Met and fell in love with my husband who is an actual cowboy. We have a 140 head cow/calf operation. He does the hard work, I just write about it.


MAY 2, 2009 2:49PM

The Continuing Education of a City Girl

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Growing up in my little bubble, I thought everyone had a pool.  Most of the people I knew had one.  My parents didn’t raise me to know we had money.  We just had stuff and I thought that’s the way it was.  Looking back, they might have prepared me a bit more for life beyond the shelter of daddy’s wallet.  There has been a pool in every single house or apartment I’ve ever lived in.  Well, except for when I moved to Carmel.  I suppose the Pacific should count for something though.   


Our pool really became father-daughter time.  When I was little and my dad was starting his company, he would come home for dinner and a swim with me, then return to his office.  I remember standing at the front door in my bathing suit every day, just waiting for him to get home.  He never disappointed.    


precursor to mardi gras2

  An apparent precursor to Mardi Gras 


Throughout the years, this became our thing – our special time together.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole family spent every weekend swimming, relaxing and laying-out – we were always outside.  It’s hot as hell in Texas after all.  We created the “Chapman Butt Dive” that was extra special.  I must warn, this is not to be done in adulthood, which I learned the hard way.    


 CBD1  CBD2 


The Chapman Butt Dive 


When I was in middle school, the tradition was still there – although I had a lot going on with extra-curricular activities and, of course, friends.  One Saturday, my dad was in the pool and I yelled down to him from my window.  A huge smile beamed across his face, knowing that I would be out in a minute.  He yelled, “Get your butt down here.”  A phrase I still hear even at this age.  I yelled back, “I can’t.  I have cheer practice.”  I told him I loved him, closed the window and was out the door.  Years ago, my mom told me this story and said when dad came inside he had tears in his eyes.  I was growing up.  He had lost me.   




Me and dad – yes, that’s a perm.  


On top of that, he gained clean-up duty from the neighborhood boys’ weekly antics.  





Shredded newspaper – somehow this is my fault? 


When Paul and I were looking for our first place, I had a ton of criteria that didn’t really say “ranch”.  One of those was a pool.  I wanted my children to enjoy one as much as I did.  To know that they are kids and are allowed to just play – without a freakin’ fence.  As you can imagine, I was asking a lot.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a pool snob.  Above-the-ground just isn’t for me.  And something that you blow up?  I fear that my lack of a pedicure on a regular basis could take that down in short order turning the lawn into the best Slip ‘N’ Slide ever – for about one minute. 


We found a couple that actually had pools, or so the listing said.  By pool, they meant pond.  Thanks for making me drive five hours to look at a dirt tank.  To be fair, I should have realized something when one listing said there were four pools.  You never know though.  Texans are known to be pretty ostentatious – there could have been four actual pools.


Not a pool2

    Not a pool.  (One of ours, but you get the idea.) 

After several of these, I finally grasped that a pool was one criterion that would need to be added later.  So, the conversation would go like this: 

Me:  Where will the pool go?  Over here? 

Paul:  That’s where the cows eat. 

Me:  They have 200 acres to eat.  Where will the pool go? 

Paul:  Where there isn’t any grass. 

This is where I scan my entire surroundings for anything not resembling grass.  Yeah, can’t find any.  Which is obviously a good thing when you are purchasing a property for a cattle ranch.  But I have to live here, you know.  The good ol’ boy realtor, already suspicious of me in my high heels and silk top, is beside himself with laughter.  I ask him to spell “cat”.  Nothing. 

After about seven months of searching, we found a gorgeous place in Oklahoma.  Old school ranch house – huge.  Two story, high ceilings, wrap-around porch.  Acres and acres of grass – good grass.  Corrals.  A tack house.  The one concern was that every inch of the interior of the house was pink.  We’re talking pink carpet, pink kitchen cabinets – Pepto didn’t utilize its own power and threw-up all over this place.  But, hey, I can buy a can of paint.   I picked out the perfect spot for my pool.   

The day we were going to set up the closing date, the lady backed out.  Backed out!?  Paul and I were absolutely devastated.  No words were uttered for at least two days.  Complete and total shock.   

We happened to find another property in the next county over.  Nice brick house – only seven years old.  170 acres.  And, you guessed it – a pool!  We’ll take it!  

  Pool1A   Pool1 

Pool and pool house  

Still have to see cows   

Before you start jealousing – don’t forget the view of the cows. 

It was the end of November when we closed and moved in.  I would just sit and stare at that pool.  It had to be the longest winter on record for the South.  As soon as March rolled around, I started up the heater – fancy, I know.  And then it began to rain.  And then we ran out of propane for the heater, which I promptly filled back up.  And then it rained some more.  And then we ran out of propane.  At this point, Paul fills me in that he keeps shutting the heater off.  Off!  So, once it was heated to a nice 75 degrees, he would shut it off and the temperature would plummet to 60 again.  I’m not in the Polar Bear Club – this is not fun for me.  After Waylon, the propane guy, laughed at us for calling the third time in a month and a half, we finally worked out the heater situation.  However, I’ve never fully understood why Paul shut it off to begin with. 

We’ve had crazy thunderstorms the past few weeks.  Tornadoes and hail and floods, oh my!  But, it’s hot.  Yesterday was no exception.  Hot, humid, sticky.  After Paul’s last trot through the cows, he thought we should go jump in the pool.  Absolutely!  See?  Aren’t you glad we have one?  And I have fresh mint for mojitos!  It’s a good day. 

Now, the pool is my responsibility.  I take care of it, because I needed it.  No big deal.  Except, well, I’ve been slacking.  It’s raining!  Can you picture me with a skim basket in the pouring rain?  Besides, that’s what the “monster” is for.  And filters.  And all kinds of crazy machinery that takes up an entire room in the pool house.  Shouldn’t that stuff do something?  Oh, yeah, Paul turned off the monster the day before to conserve energy.  “Every other day should be fine when we’re not using it all the time.”  I’ll buy that. 

Paul dove right in and swam back over to the steps where I was getting my feet wet.  “Hey!  Look at the little frog swimming around there.”  How cute.  I’m not unfamiliar with frogs in the pool.  It happens.   


But what happened next has proven to me that my resort-style pool on the ranch is not without drawbacks.  Paul turned on the monster and as soon as that thing swam away from its resting place, we found dinner.  

  Crawdad1   Crawdad2 



Crawdad Fight

  More fun than a cock fight. 

It appears I got that pond after all.

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Okay, I've found ducks in the pool, and frogs, and the occasional blind sheltie, but crawdads! Now that's something useful. Isn't Paul glad y'all got that pool now?
Fun story and well written and I am so glad you have our pool. I hope your dad has come over to use it.
A blind sheltie??? More please!

There were about 10 crawdads in there and I found a bunch of those hole things they make around the pool. Paul just scooped them out and went back to swimming.

He was just dripping with sweat it was so hot and wet yesterday. Better to have him outside in that condition than in. He's getting more use of it than I am right now!
Thanks Ariana. Dad hasn't been able to enjoy it yet, but soon. He's actually putting on in at his house "for the grandkids." It's nice to know it means as much to him as it does for me.
It's better than running the AC enough to cool him off.

And it was, like, January, and our ancient blind dog fell in the pool. I have no idea how long he was out out there, paddling in stupid little circles, occasionally bumping his nose into the side. When my mother got her next dog, for years it was a rite of spring: toss the dog into the pool to make sure she knows how to get out. The lesson she learned was never go into that part of the yard while anyone is outside. And if we're swimming, she's in the house.
Hey! That's how dad taught me to swim!
I was playing a gig in Yukon one time and the storms were perhaps the most intense I've experienced. Around this time of year, too. Will there be a crawfish gumbo recipe soon? Loved the old photos.
Hey Stacey - yeah, I've never seen the weather this crazy. As we speak (so to speak) I have been alerted that I need to prepare for nickel sized hail and poor Paul's out pitching hay to the horses.

We're going to get some traps for the ponds and then definitely we'll do a gumbo and a boil. Great, now you've made me hungry...
You talking about hail--I just checked the weather here. What a relief, thunderstorms, flash floods, and tornadoes, but no hail.

And scaredypuppy's in the bed. Scaredypuppy does not like thunder.
Yeah, and we all know what "nickel sized" is code for around here - quarter sized.

Now there's a tornado warning. Crap.
yeah, bad weather here too Julie, the Cowboys practice facility just collapsed on top of the rookies.

Are those crabs fighting the crawdads? You got crabs too?

Great story of finding your little piece of paradise.

I love reading about the lives of others. I was raised near the ocean, now my brother has a pool; his daughter, I hope, gains the wisdom I found in this post. --rated--
Crawdads! Love it!
Texas mudbugs! I love 'em. Fire up the bbq and ice down some longnecks. How about a crawdad boil, Texas style? Fried froglegs for appetizers. They're good bait for cat-fishin' also. I bet your hubby knew that one. Really nice pics.
Rated & Cheers!
Great story! My husbands aunt had a built-in pool and she had a Tiger salamander show up every year for 3 years until the husband took it home. Sam lived for 8 years after that!

I thought you lived in TX? Or are you from TX and now live in OK? Frankly, lounging by the pool watching the cattle graze sounds perfectly idylic!!!
Hehehe! Glad you found your paradise. When I find mine I won't have a pool. Everyone in Florica has a pool so I don't need one. We are in a three year drought and they tell us to not flush and only brush your teeth if absolutely necessary. Not to mention all the equipment extra water bill and electricity. I'll go to the beach or go jump in the neighbors pool. But, I am so glad you got your. Pollywogs and all!
Best post ever! I think people should transplant themselves on a regular basis just so they don't get too comfortable and complacent. Apparently this is a worldview shared by the crawdad. They look the size of lobsters for god's sake.
Hey Barry - I saw that! We got a total of 6" of rain from 2:00 pm until we checked again this morning - crazy! I can't remember the last time I heard a storm that ferocious. The power kept going off, so I finally gave up here and turned everything off.

Those claws do look like crabs! Hell, you never know what we're going to find around here...

Thanks for dropping by Mr. Mustard.

Helen - So weird. I don't mind them in the ponds - which I have no plans on swimming in - but the pool?

Harry - That was almost the title of this piece.

Bubba - Paul wants to stock one of the ponds with catfish. I've told him about the giant ones in Lake Whitney and he wants them here! They're like whales or something. Boys. Go figure. Salute!

Blue - I imagine when we have kids there will be tons of random pets we find around here.

I'm from Texas, but we bought our place in Oklahoma - for about half the price it would've cost at home. At least we're only just across the border so I don't feel too bad about it.

Yeah, not bad at all - until you've finally started to relax and then "MWAHH MWAHH". It's jolting.

Michael - That's the beauty of it - we didn't have to fill the sucker up! We've been trying to keep track of what is adds to the electric bill, it doesn't seem like much. But, we haven't been here that long to get a full grasp of the utilities.

Mom - Thanks! Boy do I have some stories! Fish out of water seems to put it a bit mildly. Every day I learn something new - whether I want to or not.

A couple of those crawdads were really big, but for the most part, it's just a macro zoom. But, if those are what will find their way to the pool - imagine what we have in the four ponds. Crawdad boil in the summer at Julie's!
Julie, nice to see your story about pools past and present! Back when I was younger my father, brother and I excavated and built our own pool which had a vinyl liner and was rectangular-shaped. We had many years of summer fun floating in truck innertubes with a game of trying to knock each other out of their innertube. These days I have an 18' round pool from Target that my sons, wife and I enjoy a lot, as well.

I can easily see why you would want a pool when you were looking for a house as they can't be beat for family fun and cooling off in the heat of the summer!
rated for crawdads!
D - We're so ready for it to heat up and really be able to use the pool and the patios more. Especially with all the rain we've been getting lately. Doldrums in the Spring? All in all not a bad deal on our first place!

JK - I could feel that sheet! Ah, memories...

Nah, we didn't eat them. Just watched them fight for a while.

I should have warned you about the showtunes. She thinks because she was once in some choir, she can sing. I have repeatedly tried to remind her that they let anyone in to those things. No avail.

Totally off here, but funny story about mom... She went to a guitar shop in Monterey to get strings for her ukelelee (I have no idea why she has one). She planned some sort of skit with my aunt. Straight-faced, she told the guy, "I need them for a gig." She said he about died - he didn't know what to do with her.

Yeah, that pink was crazy. Plus, there was wallpaper in every room!We would've had our hands full with that place for sure. i don't know - so many of the places we looked at were "countrified". If I saw another chicken "decoration", I was going to hurl. I do remind Paul from time to time how lucky he is that I don't want our walls to be pink and purple with flowers on everything.
Thanks voicegal!

JK - I really should do a few posts about mom ala T&D - she's hysterical.

I can't wait to see the post! I have to tell you Paul's incredibly jealous of any place that has trout.
Re: tornado warning.

That's why you need the tornado shelter/wine cellar.
You're assuming we can keep wine in the house for longer than a couple of weeks. But, I do like the shelter being a "cover" for something...maybe I can store all of my pretty shoes that I can't wear out here and visit them occasionally.
Y'all got grapevines. I saw them. I'm thinking y'all could have the first Chateau d'Tarp tasting in two years.
I think we're going the moonshine route. You know, when in Rome...
Just keep the cows out of the spa.
Ha! Missed you Laurel - I thought you might get a kick out of this. You know, there's only barbed wire seperating the cows and the spa - I'm thinking it could happen.
Man this is a fun post in many ways but also reminds me of critters I found in Oklahoma that scared the bejeezus out of me. Like when I found out my neighbors were tarantulas and scorpions. I could deal with coyotes and even the snakes weren't too bad but tarantulas and scorpions scared me. LOL I wouldn't DARE get in one of those ponds.
Crawdaddies! An excellent by the poolside apertif. ;)
JR - Right? I'm not really the share-my-space type. The creepy crawlies gross me out. The price we pay.

Oddette - We're buying traps for the ponds today! At the rate we're going around here, we should have a huge boil tomorrow.
Great Story Julie...
Great story, Julie, love the relationship with your dad, you waiting in your bathing suit, his tearing up when you left for cheer instead of swimming with him. I lived in Oklahoma for years, both Tulsa and Stillwater, and know that weather well. We used to float down the Arkansas River and swim in Boomer Lake since we had no pool. I can totally understand your desire to have one. And the crawdads? Awesome. Did you eat them? Yum.
Thanks guys - I thought y'all would get a kick out of it.

We didn't eat those - although if any more get in there, I think we can just use the pool to boil them - it's like a luke-warm bath right now.