Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Event Review - Swimming Pool

Buying a swimming pool is like getting a part-time job, except that you have to pay to be there.

My wife and daughter have been pestering me to buy an above-ground pool for our back yard since the beginning of summer. Admittedly, it was a hot summer (though last summer was WAY worse), but I resisted. I know having a pool is a lot of work. I know it's hard to keep it from getting murky. I know it drains money like having a hole in your pocket. So all summer, I avoided buying a pool.

And then, the weekend before Labor Day, we found a huge pool at an insane discount on closeout at Target. And even though I was opposed to owning a pool on general principle, I broke down and bought it, because I have absolutely no will of any kind.

The first awesome part of buying an above-ground pool is having to drive it around until you can unload it. Getting the damned thing out of the car is an incredible amount of work, when you get one that is as big as the one we got. It weighed more than most people, and was ludicrously bulky, so I did what any sane parent does and made my kid get it out of the car. But it was so damned heavy that I had to help, and so managed to drop it on my foot. This was about as much fun as dropping a washing machine on my foot, except that washing machines are not as heavy.

Then we had to put it together. The pool came with an instructional video in which two beautiful people with a beautiful lawn that is perfectly level assemble the pool in three minutes flat and have absolutely no problems of any kind. These people were either magical creatures from a novel written for young adults, or they were lying. It is incredibly hard to assemble an above-ground pool. I recommend you hire someone to do it for you, so that you can drink lemonade on the porch and give life-affirming tips.

I did not do that. Instead, I spent my entire Labor Day weekend digging the yard flat, laying out the tarp, catching the tarp when the wind blew it away, cleaning the dirt out of my underpants where the flying tarp threw it, then placing bricks on the tarp to hold it down. Oh, and I put together the pool. Then I put water in it.

The pool promptly sank into the ground. It turns out, 15,000 gallons of water is heavy enough to dig straight down into Texas soil, even with the drought we've been enjoying turning the ground into concrete. And since some parts sank more than others, the pool was so far out of balance that I couldn't swim in it. So I drained it and started over.

After placing bricks under the legs of the pool and filling it again, I was finally able to swim. I love swimming. I grew up in California, and used to spend my entire summer at the beach. I'm having so much fun that I almost don't mind all the money I spent buying my pool, filling my pool, draining my pool, then filling my pool again. Almost, but not quite. Because I had to swim alone.

See, the pool ladder is so rickety that my wife cannot get into the pool. She tore all the ligaments in her leg a few years ago, and can't turn her knee. And since the ladder is so flimsy and narrow, she can't do the acrobatics necessary to flip around at the apex. Sure, she could have just allowed herself to fall into the pool once she was at the top, but that solution would not have worked in the case of exiting the pool, and so once she was in there, I would have had to bring her meals out to her.

So I got to spend more money. This time on lumber, which I used to build a proper wooden staircase level with the top of the pool, complete with broad steps and hand rails. Now my wife and I are enjoying swimming together, and having a lovely time.

Except that now the water is getting a little cloudy. I think I need to add more chlorine, or balance the bromide, or possibly I need a stronger pump. I don't know for sure. If you'll excuse me, I need to go spend more money and time solving yet another problem with my pool.

I'm sure I'll get this right, sooner or later. Of course, by the time I do, it will be winter. Anyone know how you winterize an above-ground pool?


Futza said...

Congratulations on becoming a pool owner! We've had ours for 12 ears now. Besides chlorine tablets in the skimmer, the only thing I add to the water is some baking soda. It never gets murky or green. Always crystal clear. Hope this helps!

MIK said...

This might be the first post of yours where I didn't rush out to buy whatever it was you were talking about! Good luck with it!

kcshaple said...

Another excellent blog but I think you're missing a trick. Isnt there a game called Pool Party that you could have reviewed whilst waiting for your swollen foot to recover?

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad to hear things went well despIte the set backs. I feel like you dispense great life lessons along wIth great revIews. I guess that makes you a real life version of Yoda.

Steve said...

...you let it turn into an ice rink. Problem solved.