Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Weekend O' Fun

My weekend sucked on the half-shell.

Of primary annoyance was the need to cover the swimming pool, followed closely by the fact that everyone was sick with some sort of cold-type inconvenience illness that precluded us joining our friends for their annual Halloween bash. Of secondary annoyance was the need to finish the set-dressing for our own Halloween display. Tertiary annoyances cropped up to fill any interstices of peace that inadvertently happened.

Saturday dawned and I leaped from my bed at the crack of noon to purchase a few more air pillows1. I had evolved a theory in which more air pillows would result in fewer pools of rancid sumac-leaf/rainwater infusion. Inflating these is a challenge since, for reasons only known to the manufacturers, the air fitting on them is not the kind found on airbeds, rafts and rings, but a huge thing intended to "enable" one to fill them using a vacuum cleaner.

It takes forever.

No sooner had I floated these three Sausages of Pool Cover Elevation on the cloudy, green-grey surface of the miasma our pool has become than hurricane Zelda sprang up and blew them all over the garden, eliciting some class three Words of Power from your humble scribe. I lashed them down by means of hairy string and departed for our local Home Despot to obtain some rope. I don't usually bother with our local Home Despot these days on account of they never have all the parts I need to do a job, but I thought they could be trusted to have thin nylon rope on their shelves.

The reason I was going to use rope and not the brand-new wire hawser I had bought to thread through the eyelets of the cover and tension with my pool wire tensioning thing is that I think I'll be lifting the cover for the next few days while I attempt to clarify the water. I can't see the bottom of the pool yet and I'm not supposed to mothball it with nasties in it even if I do plan on throwing out the soup and starting fresh (again) next year.

At least I know why the water has been so cloudy of late. The Pool Robot Of Extreme Uselessness has fished up a truly astounding amount of half-rotted sumac seed pods from the abyssal pool bed. I guess there must have been a storm one day that swept this crap onto the solar cover and then washed it into the pool. Nature (and the fact that my family cannot lift a finger to help when it comes to the pool unless the help involves lying about in it) had done the rest. The filter was getting jammed after only an hour or so of the PROEU being activated. If only I had access to one of those nifty electric pool robots that continually sweep the floor of debris while the filter deals with the floating crap. Oh well.

The hurricane put in another appearance when I attempted to pull the cover into place too.

As the wind attempted to tear the 15-foot diameter circular tarpaulin of pool leaf denial from my grasp I held on a screamed some manful things2. It looked for a while as though I might take to the air, but fortunately after several hours of struggle, man against the forces of nature, I managed to gain the upper hand and lash the cover down to the various scenic features in the immediate area. Then I started the pool robot.

Which ran for about five minutes before jamming.

When this happens there is nothing for it but to feed the hose that connects the robot to the filter pump through one's hands until the robot surfaces, at which point whatever is jamming it can be excised.

I should explain that the way the robot perambulates is that a heavy weight, hinged at one end, is wagged back and forth by the action of the water being sucked past it. It slams back and forth with a hearty CLACK-CLACK and on alternate clacks it inches forward, the water being sucked in under a circular rubber skirt that scrubs the floor, in theory. The problem is that leaves can be too large to pass the weight and then the whole thing jams and stops in its tracks.

The water, now almost at freezing point, was physically painful to touch, and within a few seconds I had lost all feeling in my fingers, which was to turn out to be a good thing. I inverted the robot, being careful to keep it submerged lest air get into the pump, and pried out the leafy stuff jamming up the clackety-gubbins.

A sad mistake.

As I reached in to remove yet another stalk, the weight suddenly took the initiative and began oscillating, CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK, each clack crushing the tips of my fingers quite nicely. Fortunately, as I said there was by now no feeling in them, so when I finally managed to extricate them they were mercifully numb. A good job too. The last time I had had fingertips that flat I had almost ruptured myself explaining it to the world.

Then I went and got my small compressor/vacuum and sucked all the fun out of the inflatable rings, tubes beds and whatnot. I have to use this device because the inflatables today have a safety valve that prevents air escaping of its own accord from the toys. It works surprisingly well, but forces some innovative solutions to the problem of getting the air out again. I've no room to store everything over the winter in its inflated state.

Over the course of the next few hours I managed to extract yet more pods and leaves from the pool, and the water seemed to be a tiny bit less cloudy. I went in for my dinner.

A short while after my meal, the heavens opened. I waited and waited, and finally announced my intention to go outside in the rain to check the pool and disconnect the robot (there are problems that can occur if it stops and restarts, caused by air collecting under the filter connector). Mrs Stevie suggested an umbrella, but I pointed out I only had two hands and would need them both.

As I opened the door the first flash of lightning sped across the sky. I dashed over to the pool as the heavens opened with a vengeance. As luck would have it, the rain had triggered the GFCI and thrown the breaker, disconnecting the pool motor. I returned to the safety and comfort of Chateau Stevie and resolved to turn it back on - on Sunday.

Sunday dawned and I got the pool robot started again, then went to finish up the Halloween display in the front garden, which is where I found the scat left for me by whatever it is that marks our lawn every bloody fall in this way. Whatever it is it has the world's worst diet, and it's leavings stink worse than anything else I've ever trodden in, including the half-rotted badger. I think it must be a possum. Some sort of scavenger, at any rate. Why it only comes around in the fall is a mystery. If I ever catch the bastard, it will regret the day its DNA zipped up I can tell you.

In due course I had hosed off every square inch of my shoes and the lawn (but still couldn't get rid of the stench) and installed the Eyes in the Alberta Spruces and the marching ghostly feet in the lawn. I'll try and get pictures, but honestly, I can never get them to do the scene justice. When it gets really dark, the effect is pretty spooky for your average six-year old (our target audience3). All that's left to do is lay out the gibbering heads on the porch and to set up the fog machine. Those we do on the day itself.

Then it was off to the Stevieling's confirmation ceremony, in which she was so busy reading the tract that the pastor actually had to knock on the altar rail several times to get her attention. Gotta love that kid. When did she grow up4? It seems like only yesterday I was holding her in the crook of my left arm, where she took up the space between my wrist and my elbow.

If I close my eyes I can still feel the weight of her resting there.

  1. The 8x4 inflatable pillows used to keep the pool cover afloat
  2. Indeed, so manful were the things I screamed that the neighbours sent round a deputation to complain, which made me scream some more manful things
  3. One time I put fake spider webs all over the place in such a way that the kids would have to tear their way in, then they would find themselves ambushed by four of us in costume on their way out. It was so spooky none of the kids would go in and all we had for our trouble was a damn good freezing as we crouched in our hiding place for three hours
  4. Lutheran indoctrination takes several years, and the average age of the young aspirants was 15

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