Pool Demo Update

Last week:  a sadly neglected but reasonably intact swimming pool.  Obviously, pool maintenance is not one of my passions.  Some good memories from years past, but life changes.

Before B

Day 1: Empty (and a call from my back fence neighbor making sure I didn’t have a broken pipe).  Happily, there was nothing down there but a few broken pool cleaning tools.  And a lot of mud.

Day 1 B

Day 2: There’s a small tractor with a flat tire in my back yard.  They had to take down a fence to get it back there (and then they put it back up for the duration — surely tractor theft isn’t a serious threat?).

Day 2 B

Day 3: Making progress.  There was more rebar in the bowl than I realized.  Most of the deck is still intact at this point.

Day 3 B

Day 4: Nothing left of the walls, and as far as I can see the deck is gone, too.  I think now we’re waiting for the dirt delivery.

Day 4 B

The initial plan was to be finished tomorrow (Day 5), but I’m not counting on it.  I suspect the flat tire on Saturday and scheduling the dirt delivery may have slowed the job down.  Who knows, if the dirt turns up in the morning, the rest of the job may go faster than I would imagine.  But I’ll be happy if they finish this week.


Farewell to the Pool

When Jack and I moved into this house in 1976, the swimming pool in the backyard was lagniappe.  We loved the house, and it came with a pool, so there we were.  Even though we moved here from Florida, neither of us had ever owned a pool, or we might have kept on house hunting.

It was a nice little pool, tucked on one side of our fairly large lot, kidney-shaped and no more than five feet deep, with a concrete deck and steps at the shallow end.  We enjoyed sitting in it, paddling around, swimming a little bit, although it was never really well suited for actual laps.  Albert, the basset hound who owned us in those days, knew his legs were not meant for swimming and refused to join us in the water, but he was happy to sit on the deck and attempt to lick us dry when we got out.  Among the many quirky things about the house was the half bath meant to serve the pool.  It had a sink and a shower.  No toilet.  That is not my idea of a bathroom, half or whole, and it has long since been converted to a storage closet.

Somehow I was in charge of pool maintenance, a job I hated passionately.  Cleaning the pool, running the pump, trekking to the pool supply store with the water sample bottle, battling algae.  Never my idea of fun, but a pool service was financially out of our reach.  One memorable summer a mallard hen with a limp got tired of migrating and settled in the pool.  Ducks have no respect for sanitary arrangements.  They will poop on anything, anywhere.  And the poor creature fell in love with Albert, a passion she expressed by nipping at his toes.  The poor dog would stick his head out the back door and look for her before he ventured out, until we finally caught her and took her over to an established flock on Galveston Bay where she was last seen limping valiantly away from several interested drakes.

A few years after we settled here, my parents moved from south Florida to a nearby neighborhood, and my dad loved the pool.  I’d hear a car door slam in the driveway and look out the kitchen window to see him in an open shirt and his favorite (and hideously ugly) harlequin patterned knit swim trunks.  He was the one who tried covering the pool for the winter, succeeding mainly in trapping water and leaves on the tarp and fooling poor Albert into stepping off the edge of the pool onto what looked like a solid surface.  (No dogs were ever harmed in this pool, but in Albert’s case it was a near thing.)  My mother, as far as I remember, never put so much as a toe in the water, not even when she lived with us for a couple of years after my dad passed away.

Albert the basset hound eventually crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and we were claimed by Fred the pit lab (the offspring of a smallish labrador retriever and an unidentified traveling sales dog), whose two favorite things in the world were tennis balls and the swimming pool.  Combine the two and you got a dog who would chase a ball from one end of the pool to the other until he could barely crawl up the steps and out of the water, exhausted but happy.  Evenings in the pool with Jack and Fred made the maintenance work worthwhile.

But over the years the pool, built sometime in the 1960s, began to deteriorate.  I kept it up as best I could even after Jack passed away, although Sandy the scruff terrier, Fred’s successor, refused to join me in the water.  Keeping it clean became ever more a battle, thanks to leaky plumbing and a faltering filter system.

Shortly before this area was hit by Hurricane Ike in the fall of 2008, the technicians refilling the filter tank damaged the electrical line to the pump; one morning I realized it was smoking.  By this time the plumbing was so unreliable that I never knew where I’d find water in the yard, and the deck was cracked and tilted.  And then the hurricane hit, and I said to myself, I’ll have it fixed next spring.

Or the next spring.  Or the next.

So I’ve known for years that the pool was doomed.  A habitat for mosquitoes, frogs, and the occasional heron doesn’t really belong in the suburbs.  I wavered between rehab and removal, and finally decided I never wanted to deal with pool maintenance again.  But pool removal is expensive, and I put it off until my insurance carrier finally gave me an ultimatum.

Demolition begins tomorrow morning.

Open, Sesame–or Garage Door

My garage door opener stopped working a couple of weeks ago.  It turned out to be a simple problem, but it was only resolved after I called four different garage door companies.  Good thing it wasn’t an emergency.

Jack and I bought the house where I live in 1976.  It came with a heavy wooden garage door dating from the 1950s.  The door featured a lock (but no key) and a row of perennially dirty windows, and a small round unidentified hole in one panel.  It never occurred to either of us to lock it, and we never had a second thought about opening and closing it by hand.

A few years after Jack died, I had surgery and was told not to lift anything heavier that a milk jug for several weeks.  That certainly ruled out the garage door (heck, it ruled out the fully loaded leather purse I’d been carrying), so I simply left the door open until I finally got around to having an electric garage door opener installed.  The man who put it in said, “Before long you won’t know how you got along without it,” and he was right.  I was thoroughly spoiled in no time.

A couple of years later, a cable broke, and the old door came crashing down, narrowly missing me and trapping my car in the garage.  On Friday evening of Labor Day Weekend.  That was an emergency.  I hunted down the company that had installed the opener, and someone came the next morning, jury-rigged a cable and got the door open (“Wow, lady,” he said, “I haven’t seen a door like this in years!”).  The next week he came back with a new door, light-weight but with no windows, and, I noticed much later, no handles.  On the (fortunately) rare occasions when the power was off, I could disconnect the door from the opener and open and close it with relative ease.

So when the opener suddenly refused to move more than a foot without reversing itself and returning to its locked and upright position, it wasn’t an emergency, just an inconvenience.  (And true to form, this time it happened on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.)  I just left the door open, until my neighbor (a night owl) called and woke me up to ask “Did you know your garage door is open?”

When I called the outfit that installed the opener and the door, I got a phone company recording offering to find me a similar business, since the number I was calling was no longer in service.  I wasn’t surprised; I hadn’t been able to find them in the phone book, and the on-line references to the company were years old.  I tried calling two local companies: one gave me voice mail, and the other didn’t answer the phone.  But it was Memorial Day, after all.

I called the voice-mail number later in the week and left a message.  When the owner called me back, it was to share with me a five-minute rant against my local police, claiming that they had “harassed and extorted” him and he refused to work in my neighborhood.  Translation: he had turned onto my street at 30 miles per hour, passing the fire station, two 20 MPH speed limit signs, and the police station, and got a speeding ticket.  After listening to his story, I can only imagine what he said to the cop who stopped him.  The local police are the reason that my street is safe and I can leave my garage door open if I need to, and I think they may have saved me from spending time in the garage with a man wearing a tin foil hat.

Last week I had tree trimmers in and out of my yard, so I didn’t bother with the garage door.  Around Thursday I tried company number three again, and they still weren’t answering the phone.  I left a voice mail message with company number four, and we played phone tag for a couple of days.  Over the weekend it rained, and I remembered why I like opening and closing my garage door with a remote push button.

Yesterday morning Larry, the technician from company number four, took one look at the sensors near the bottom of the door tracks and pronounced them the worst installation job he’d ever seen (which may explain why company number one went out of business).  One of the sensors was broken, so the opener was not receiving the signal that it was safe to close.  Larry had the broken sensor replaced, both sensors remounted properly, and the garage door working perfectly in fifteen minutes.

Or two weeks, depending on how you look at it.

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