Pool of Dreams or Nightmares?

Hey, do you remember that swimming pool we had built? The beautiful one with the hot tub and nice patio? Yeah. I remember it, too. We called it the Pool of Dreams, but lately it had been turning into a nightmare.

Note the color of the water.

We had been following the instructions the pool company gave us, which were minimal, to say it kindly. And our questions and phone calls had gone unanswered. Lee had been spending hours and hours trying to get this green stuff out of the pool, which we thought must be pollen, because it wasn’t sticking. But that’s not all. Here’s what else was going on with the Pool of Nightmares:

  • The remote control stopped letting us choose fun colors for the lights. Only by chance did I figure out a way to cycle through a few of the possible colors.
  • The pool would not turn on spa mode and spa heat mode together. You had to go over to the unit, where snakes live, to manually turn on the spa heater. Then, you had to check every hour or so to make sure it hadn’t switched to pool heat mode, which wastes my precious propane and only heats to 80 degrees. That was getting tedious.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to put in it, because adding salt wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. We finally got a clue when Lee found an owner’s manual to the unit online, which explained that the reason the pool beeped occasionally (the pool company guy had said “it just does that”) was because the salt cell wasn’t hooked up.
  • The salt cell wasn’t hooked up. They simply had not done it. That could explain a lot.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to add, because the pool dude just said to look at the readout on a strip and add the right chemicals. Okay, what are those exactly?
  • The spa jets would not stay in. So, half the spa outlets just spewed forth water in a big gush, rather than going around and around and being therapeutic. I was most annoyed.

As of last week, no one had returned our phone calls. So, Kathleen called around and found a pool maintenance person and asked him to come in. He explained to her that there was a chlorine-resistant algae going around, but hinted there may be other issues.

Pool guy at work. Note that one of our plants is blooming.

Yesterday, the pool dude showed up. Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know all the details, but suffice to say that he put in the right chemicals to re-balance the pool and get it under control. He will be returning weekly to do maintenance. This will make Lee’s life so much easier, since he was not happy to be having to go out and do pool stuff every day, even with Mr. Robotto going around and getting stuff out.

Look at that. The pool is blue, and all the algae that was on the beach area is gone. We are sure grateful Kathleen called for help!

Plus, finally someone called back about the pool from the company who sold it to us. They had gone radio silent since we made our last payment, to the point where we thought they must have gone out of business or something, until I checked their Facebook page, and saw that it was still posting things.

Check out that lack of algae, will you?

I am told that the actual owner of the company will be at the ranch on Monday. I’m sorta glad Lee isn’t there to give them a piece of his mind, but I am pretty sure he will get a piece of the other male resident of our family compound, instead. That may help turn the nightmare back into a dream.

I hope it does, because we have been enjoying the pool a lot, and it’s going to be hot, hot, hot in Texas next week.

Where we are, it’s still pretty pleasant. Lee and I got some really cool rocking hammock chairs and have been sitting on the balcony watching birds, planes, helicopters and more.

These are FUN. Look for them at Costco.

I’ve seen little wildlife, other than a cannonball jellyfish and some amorous pigeons.

But we did get to enjoy some kind of aerial show featuring a plane, some red skydiving stuff, and some parachutes in formation. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. And that’s it. Other than getting groceries, we stayed put and relaxed. That is a good thing, far as I’m concerned.

And kindness keeps happening. I bought myself some Mother’s Day flowers, knowing that’s the only way I’m going to get any, and the cashier couldn’t find the code to ring it up, so she whispered, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The thing is, I realize that I’m so unused to seeing people be nice to strangers that I get all teary-eyed when it happens. That’s sorta sad.

Happy Mother’s Day (US) to all who are mothers or who have mothered others, human, animal, or whatever.

At least here at the ole resort, everyone’s friendly and nice. A guy took my luggage cart downstairs for me, just to be nice! I’ve met a lot of nice people at the pool bar. Cute little kids keep saying hi. I’m keeping track of these little things, to counter all the negativity I see otherwise.

Family Fun, More Floods

At least today was a little different. It didn’t rain until around 5 pm, so I got to get some work done and do some fun things. The most fun was a visit from my son and his partner, who wanted to do some ranch stuff. My son wants to learn to ride horses, so we headed off to the horse pen to rescue Apache from his solitary confinement.

Horse wranglin’

So, I gave the two of them a lesson in what you do before you can ride a horse. I taught them about putting in the halter, the grooming steps, and hoof cleaning. Apache was so good!

Cowpoke from Austin.

I didn’t get pictures of it (I didn’t even take these pictures), but Fiona also got groomed. By the time R. got finished, she looked like a show donkey.

We appreciated the attention.

After that, my son got to walk Apache, stop him, and walk him in a circle. Apache really wanted to eat grass, but he begrudgingly complied. We were too hot to force things (oh, the humidity!).

Back at the house, I got some help with chickens. Barbara has a hurt foot, and she was getting badly pecked, so we decided to let the other pullets in with the big chickens and leave her to recover in the small enclosure. I didn’t get photos. Too busy distracting chickens.

Boring, but clean.

Earlier today, I’d cleaned the front porch and started repotting my Norfolk Island pine. I’m glad my son came, because he helped me with the potting soil. I hope the plant perks up.

I had to do something while it wasn’t raining! So I sweated, shined, and perked up the porch.

But, all good weather must come to an end. By the time we got back in the house, rain was back. We sat and talked while some really strong rain fell. Really strong.

But at least rain brings the bonus of golden rain lilies.

We managed to get out and have a nice Mexican dinner and some great conversation about music and comedy, then our guests went home, as did we. The rainwater had been busy while we were gone.

Oh no! The backup culvert is activated!

It was way more flooded than yesterday. The secondary drainage culvert hasn’t come into operation but one other time since Lee added it (prevents the driveway from overflow). The water was really rushing and high.

The water was even flowing across the road. Eek.

At least you can drive through it.

Of course we had to let the dogs play. Alfred, in particular, had a blast, pawing and biting at the rapids.

On his way to the next splash area.

Funny though, in the 20 minutes Lee and I walked around looking, the pond/tank crested and all these culverts did their job. By the time we left, it was already down a foot or so. Check out the pictures.

We will be fine, but we do wish we could send some rain to our friends and family in California.

Those trees in the tank are usually on the shore.

Who Hates Changing Email Addresses?

Um, that would be everyone, right? I’ve known I’ve needed to do it for quite a while, since we downsized our real estate work and parted (as good friends) from our Hermit Haus Redevelopment partners. Eventually all that internet stuff will get retired, though I need to figure out a way to archive our blog and photos of our work.

My reward for boring as heck work.

I’ve never liked using Gmail but it’s the best option for right now. My presence at Hearts Homes and Hands is very minimal, since I’m not beloved in all parts of our community. I’m no longer too concerned about it. Life at the ranch is good, and that’s what counts! Anyway, I’d only use that email account for business.

Speaking of the ranch, this will grow up to be the arch going over our cattle guard or second gate. It’s happening!

Still, it has boggled my mind when I realize how many logins, sign-ins and account names are tied to your email address! I spent hours this morning changing things, and I’m nowhere near finished. But, it had to be done, and I certainly don’t have many expanses of unbooked time at home!

After I at least got my major accounts and lists switched over, I tediously went through my Gmail account and deleted spam and ads from 2015 until today. 20,000 plus emails. Fun times. I didn’t want to delete them all, since there might be personal email in there. Yep, my sister, my friend Pamela, and two others had been sending me things I never saw.

I’d rather have been at the pool!

Actually, that’s what prompted moving at this exact time. My sister, who is the latest person to say they are going to the Farm in Yorktown for a weekend and not returned, texted me to “check email.” Nothing like a cryptic text to get me concerned, you know? But I couldn’t find anything on my work or personal accounts. Was something wrong? Did I mess something else up? Finally I looked at Gmail. Whew. There was a message there. I’d forgotten to send some money in our confusing travel stuff.

All, right, I said, it’s time to start using that account and phasing the other one out. Once I figured out how to delete everything from a particular sender, it was only slightly unbearable. And at least I could look out at the ocean while deleting. It was fun mass deleting email from presidential candidates who won one and l0st another election. Quite a trip through time.

I’d rather have been in the ocean. Yes I went in. No jellyfish got me.

Now I have that account organized and set up to store email right. Still, I have to figure out what stuff I get on Hermithaus I want to keep getting. And I have to figure out why the new signature I made refuses to show up. This is why I didn’t want to embark on this task. Ugh

But, I’m at the beach, in the shade, and drinking a drink out of a bucket. And my ranch family is busy planning a swimming pool.

Everyone is saying my obligations can wait, so today is just Beach Day. Hope you’re doing well and handling what can be a hard weekend for some of us.

Another Thanksgiving

Sure, weirdest Thanksgiving ever. But it’s an adventure. I’m making turkey and sides, but not dressing. I’m incapable of making small quantities of dressing. But it’s just me and Anita. Poor Declan can’t come, because there was an exposure at Rollie’s workplace. We will miss them.

Future cranberry sauce. Recipe.

Lee is at the ranch with his brother. My sister is alone at her house, but also cooking. And Kathleen and Chris are alone at the farm in Yorktown. Whee! But by gosh, we’re keeping our germs to ourselves!

Anita peels potatoes.

Hopefully after we eat we can visit neighbors in the cup-de-sac. That will be nice, even if it’s just us and Ruth next door. We have community!

And speaking of community, I’ve made a couple of calls to people I care about, as I said I’d do yesterday. And last night I went to a Zoom birthday party for my friend Mike’s mom. I laughed so hard at their Zoom confusion that my face hurt. But seeing the joy of the family getting together was worth it. Plus, I got to see the amazing cake her children got her.

All her passions are on the cake.

I hope you have things to keep you busy this holiday (or regular day if you’re outside the US). I’ve got that knitting.

It’s getting long!

And I have three new books. I’m so excited about the book about alphabetical order! But I’m reading the Obama book first. Wow, he is a good writer.

That’s it from me today. I’m grateful to have a blog and readers. And of course for having a healthy and safe family, which is quite extended. Virtual hugs to all of you.

Baby Steps to a Comfortable Life

Work Comfort

I’m realizing that my life is coming back, slowly. It’s different, but things I care about keep coming back. For example, going back to my Austin office has let me visit my tree friends in the courtyard (even if we can no longer see them from our desks).

Courtyard oaks.

I’ve known the trees since I moved to this area. We used to drive by them all the time while they were building my house. Then they were mottes of trees in beautiful meadows. Now they got saved when an office complex got built.

So restful.

I saw extra cool honey mushrooms in the rocky karst area.

Home Improvements

Our Bobcat Lair house has been stuck in February mode. The front tree has had Valentine decor, and there was a broken statue on the dining table for months. I was hardly ever home, and Anita stayed downstairs.

Farewell February!

But tonight Declan and Rollie came over and fixed that. We put up all the decorations we have, and Rollie really wanted orange lights, so we have them.

And we did the mantel. Yay.

It felt so good to be doing something together. I miss having the kids around. And they helped so much. We may have been wearing masks and keeping our distance, but we were doing fun seasonal stuff. Time has stopped freezing.

Spooky young people. They ARE smiling.

And we all walked the dogs together. That has always been my favorite family activity, ever since I was a kid. Traditions continue. Life goes on. Love can’t be stopped!

Sending air hugs to all.

Health Care. Does Anyone Actually Care?

If you are healthy the US health care system works just great, because you don’t have to deal with any insurance or bureaucrats.

If you are sick, your doctor is not in charge of your care. Oh no. Some company is going to second guess them, delay your authorization, or deny you.

At least they have lovely decorations.

And if you are on Medicare, good luck. Even if you go to the hospital ahead of time, meet with the people, schedule your necessary procedure, etc., you can end up just sitting around hoping your heart doesn’t give out before you are graciously granted your authorization.

At least they have free valet parking.

That’s where I am now. Waiting with my sister, who foolishly believed she had an appointment this morning. The numerous agencies that have to communicate about it seems to have missed talking to each other. Argh.

Really. The woman needs her procedure. We all wouldn’t have driven to Temple and camped out at a hospital full of germs if it weren’t necessary.

I don’t get it how anyone thinks the system where huge insurance companies control the lives of innocent people and you have to pay a third of your salary for the privilege.

Nope. I don’t like hospitals.

Doctors don’t like it either. Nurses don’t like it. They’d love to actually help people with health issues rather than coding and paperwork.

Rant over. I just want my sister to get treated, not get apologies about how badly the new system works. I know it’s hard to disappoint people. I don’t blame the staff.


Well. It turned out “someone” had sent her info to the wrong third-party processor. I do believe the hospital figured out they messed up, because approval came only a half hour later.

I’m all confident now, because the medical team seems great. We will have a healthier and happier family member soon!

Wine Room Accomplished!

You may recall that we started putting our wine cellar/shoe closet together a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the office area has been in a bit of disarray with lots and lots of bottles stashed here and there, plus pieces of IKEA furniture.

Masterfully installing a door.

So, yesterday, since I had to leave work early, I invited my strapping son, Declan, to drop by and pick up his next batch of treasures that I unpacked from the garage (lots of vintage albums and some 45s). While he and Riley were here, he was also kind enough to help me put the cabinet together properly. It helps, I think, to invite a non-drinker over to your furniture-building events.

Light shines from my son’s head as he expresses pride in his work.

I did assist by un-doing some of the things that we’d done haphazardly before, when we didn’t have all the parts, but Declan jumped right in there and started assembling like a pro. Wow, I gave birth to an assembler! He even got the fancy doors on the cabinets to do their fancy thing.

Continue reading “Wine Room Accomplished!”

Whirlwind Family Visit

It’s not even noon on Saturday, and we’ve already had a busy and fun weekend. This may be a long post, but it’s just nice to write about something that went right. I’m hoping we were able to be good to others and relieve a bit of stress for them.

Yesterday, Kathleen and Chris came by, with Lee’s brother Jim and Eva, who is usually the caregiver for Jim’s wife, but was along on this trip to help out with Jim. Also among the visitors was 14-year-old Joe, Eva’s son, who gets to do some heavy lifting and helping out.

The gang’s all here.
Rose Gold. It’s subtle.

We all had a nice lunch at Dutchtowne, of course, where I spent a bunch of time taking pictures of my hair, because the light was good. I did also take a picture of the group.

After the business reason for the trip, in which Lee, Jim, and I signed a bunch of papers and Mandi notarized them, the family ran off to do errands in Temple (Vlassic asked to go with them, so he did, that traveling fool), while I tried to work as people took down the ceiling in our offices. I was forced out due to dust. This will be a topic of the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog shortly.

Continue reading “Whirlwind Family Visit”

Leave Me Alone, Nighttime Patriarchy!

You know how your childhood issues, fears, and old patterns haunt you no matter how hard you try to move past them? (If you don’t, wow, you’re one exceptional human.) That’s certainly a struggle I’ve dealt with my whole life, or at least since I’ve realized you actually might be able to move past such things.

Spiders aren’t my childhood fear, but they make a good representation for scary things

I’ve made great progress in recent years with a lot of my “issues” (thanks to my fine therapist and Brene Brown books). I no longer blame everything that goes wrong in my life on my own shortcomings. I no longer hesitate to speak up when someone in authority makes a proclamation or judges someone in a way I know is wrong. I care much, much less about whether my personal appearance pleases anyone but me…and so on.

I’ve talked about it before, how I’ve managed to get the negative voices in my head to shut the heck up and say nice stuff instead (“Great work, me,” says my internal voice).

Bugs don’t bug me either

Working on Community

When we first moved to the ranch, I was worried that it would be isolating living so far out here. That’s what Lee, the hermit, wanted. I wanted to have a community to enjoy life with, as well as some peace and quiet. I’m happy to report we are well on our way to a real community out here.

We missed the storms that hit Austin last night, but got cool clouds.

We were relieved to find a place near our friends Sara and Ralph, who warmly welcomed us when we first got here and really helped us set things up. And what would I do without my horse riding companion? Life would not be the same without these folks. We’ve also been lucky to make friends with Cathy, who lived at the cabin when we first arrived, and Tyler, who lives there now and does my snake handling.

When we added Mandi and her family over at Rattlesnake, wow, we could have been happier. They are so helpful in so many ways. One son cares for the horses and hens when I’m in Austin, and another has been helping Ralph with his mowing. Grateful for them.

Continue reading “Working on Community”
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