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.

Rain, and Other Things That Pass for Excitement around Here

You know when we are bordering on yet another drought around here when the grass starts to crunch under your feet when you walk across the fields. In the past week or so, even our relatively green pastures had started to get crunchy. Other parts of the state have it a lot worse (not to mention other parts of the US. But we here in scenic Milam County care about the Hermits’ Rest microclimate the most! Because of that, I was extra happy to hear drops falling onto the roof this morning.

A welcome sight.

I went out to feed the chickens (and would have fed Drew, but he ignored me) this morning and saw we’d gotten two tenths of an inch. Even that much made Lee happy. I was really hoping for more, since we hadn’t even gotten any puddles yet. I watched the forecast and tracked clouds on the radar. More was coming.

Thank you, clouds

April is a kind of weird month here. Sometimes we get hardly any rain and sometimes it’s a lot. This year has been on the scant side.

Today’s rain will make this month no longer the least rain since Lee has been measuring (and yes, the dates go right to left – thanks to Lee for the graphic).

Today has gone well, though listening to the steady rain makes me a little woozy. We are getting the good kind of rain, with no tornadoes, hail (far as I can tell), or other severe stuff. Just a nice rain that has finally filled up Lee’s “pond” and given the new gutters a workout. The fact that it’s up to a half inch is exciting for us!

Other things that pass for exciting are small. For example, I’ve had a pot that appeared to be a pot of dirt sitting on my porch for going on two months. I was beginning to think that Lowe’s had sold me a pot of dirt rather than some bulbs in dirt. At last, things have poked up and someday there will be calla lilies and caladiums in there.

At last, life appears. I am proud of myself for not digging in there and checking to see if anything was growing.

My nails also are exciting this week. I had been doing them in boring ways while some problem nails grew out, but this week I layered flowers over a nice turquoise color and got something that really goes well with my overly abundant rings. By the way, I am using the ColorStreet stuff. I find it works very well for me and lasts about ten days. I can even do nail repairs and it helps keep them looking fine. (I’m actually going to break down and do an MLM party for this stuff, just because some friends want to get some of the colors, and I could use some freebies.) I don’t like it (or anything) enough to sell it, but I can help some other woman make money, even though I am not a fan of MLM “small businesses” in general (here’s where I ranted about that once). The particular sales person I am using right now actually is a good marketer and has nail tips even I, a person who’s been doing her nails since 9th grade, didn’t know.

And that’s it for my blissfully rainy day. Oh, wait, one more thing. I got us more of the pool floats that we like so much. I call it my yacht. Kathleen has a much bigger yacht, but it likes to blow away. One of the man-folk in the family actually asked if I could get a bigger one for him, so I got one in XL. When they arrived I got a chuckle out of the stereotypical bathing-suit lady in the regular one and manly man in the XL (though he is not an XL man, in my opinion). At least they are racially ambiguous; they could be mixed, white, black, Latinx, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or maybe even Pacific Islander. That’s rather good. My favorite part of the packaging, though, is where they have one of those square things to scan. I found the fact that “scan me” is “scanne-moi” in French is pretty funny.

Like I said, it doesn’t take much to pass for excitement around here, and with all the other stuff going on, anything that brings a laugh is good with me.

Sunday Dinners Are BACK

It started out small and just kept growing. Our pre-pandemic tradition of Sunday dinners with our family and friends who’ve moved here from the Austin area has started up with the benefit of hot tub time!

Enjoying the hot tub’s eerie green light.

We welcomed Mike and Martha with real hugs, and were happy to have Kathleen and her spouse come in from their new in-town digs. Plus, joy of joys, Anita is here now, for her first gathering as a resident of Cameron!

Woo hoo! We are using our porch! And it’s GREEN outside.

Mike brought lots of really good pizza from the local pizza place. Wow, the veggie one rocked.

I wonder who shared pizza with the dogs?

We all enjoyed the new patios and all the chairs. It was so nice to have normal conversations with each other.

Pizza time!

The women all enjoyed the hot tub for a long time after dinner. That was my dream, to share the pool and hot tub with friends and family, often!

Men sat by the pool to chat.

I sure hope we can have more gatherings with neighbors, friends, and visitors this year. Small groups like this are just perfect for us hermits.

We will NOT make visitors get licked.

A highlight of the evening for me was that I realized my new phone lets me take photos of the stars! It’s quite cool. You have to hold still, and the phone fixes it up to where it sees more stars than you do!

I need to go into the bottom pasture where there are NO lights and get Milky Way photos when it’s visible. Maybe Jupiter’s moons will show up, too. I can see them with my binoculars. Way to go, iPhone 13!

It’s All Good Until You Start Feeding Dog Treats

What a beautiful day it was. I think we needed a reminder that Mother Nature is still doling out the beauty to at least briefly distract us from the things humans do to each other.

Glory, glory, peace on earth.

As a reward for doing my least favorite thing about work (Agile stuff, not vital to this story), I tidied up the pool area and gave my back some more hot water love. I heart the hot tub.

Day swimming. Wow.

Later, after feeding the precious horses, we checked out the trailer lights. Ooh. There’s even an interior light for night loading and unloading!

That’s cool.

I’m pretty excited to use the trailer. I was glad they checked out the lights and other safety features. So shiny.

It was a good evening to rest on our laurels and tell each other we appreciate our efforts. I think Lee even set up the auto-fill system on the pool! We’re really enjoying it. What else do we enjoy? Sunsets, of course. Tonight’s was cherry red at times. Thanks, Mother Nature.

All was well until I opened the monthly Bark Box. I handed out really cute chew toys, then opened a box of dog treats. I handed them out to each dog, which got them all excited. I realized Alfred hadn’t gotten one, so I reached over to give him one and Harvey jumped up to steal it. Unfortunately, he also got my thumb. Ow. It was an accident.

Got me right on the edge of my nail.

May the sun warm all our brothers and sisters who are afraid, worried, or suffering.

Fire in My Heart

And fire in my backyard, too! Bless that young man from the pool company for his perseverance! I spent a LONG time last night enjoying the fire pit and my new solar lights.

I’m in there, basking

It was warm and pleasant outside. I could even get out of the spa, relax in a chair, and get back in.

Nice lighting

The sunset was very pink, which made the clouds before the storms look more benign. It was so relaxing!

It’s not eternal, but it’s a flame!

All that relaxing was great preparation for some busy times coming up. I worked like crazy today and had plenty of energy to keep going. Hooray! The Pool of Dreams is a dream come true.

I even got my son to help me put my old rug from my knitting room in Austin on the porch to make more of an outdoor living room effect. It’s an indoor-outdoor rug so should be ok.

The highlight of the day today was getting more propane delivered. A lot. And since I’m apparently the family propane waster I’m now paying for it. Ka-ching. I’ll try to ration my fire pit use. But not the spa. I love it.

We are sort of battened down for a winter storm right now. Well, most of us are. Lee and the resident nephew went somewhere in east Texas to pick up a beautiful second-hand horse trailer and some mysterious “other stuff” that I can’t wait to see. I hope the weather is kind to them!

St. Bridget Would Approve

It’s Imbolc if you observe ye olde Celtic traditions. It’s been modernized to St. Bridget’s Day. I love this celebration of the first glimpses of light after a long winter. I always light candles and try to have a fire.

Candles, St. Bridget’s cross and a tree of life for today.

I’m not too big on organized religion, but I do enjoy honoring the changing seasons, the passage of time, and one’s cultural heritage. Lee and I enjoy our “wheel of the year” hanging calendar that lets you move through the year with the most recent observance on top.

How appropriate for a day that celebrates the keeper of an eternal flame than to finally get the fire pit working by the pool! Yes! We can sit in the hot tub and celebrate with our own flame tonight! However, fuel prices being what they are, our flame will not be eternal.

Flame on!

It was no easy task, but one can now light the fire like magic. Or the magic of propane.

And if that’s not enough light, I got some small solar lights for around the pool to make the steps and edges easier to see. I’m charging them up now, since it’s sunny and warm.

It’s hard to believe we are under a winter storm warning. Tomorrow may be another story. I’ll just enjoy today while it lasts.

Fine Workmanship on My Firepit

One thing is for sure: I can’t complain about the guys who did the stone work on the swimming pool. The two main masons came by today to fix the mess made by digging the ventilation holes in the fire pit.

Can I help?

They dug out a pretty big ugly hole and ended up with lots of missing stone. They were not sure they could fix it, since there was no extra stone laying around.

Making the hole.

They called the office, and the poor assistant had to drive all the way from Waco with some stone tile. It was not the same as ours, but it was the same rock. They said they would try to figure something out.

Lee said they were out there sawing the tile into smaller pieces. When I was done working they were gone. I found this.

Penney liked it.

They made a lovely grate that looks like it was there all along. It’s absolutely perfect. I was blown away. This was true craftsmanship. And it’s so good that no one will realize it was hard to achieve. Just wow!

That’s where the key will go when it’s set up.

Yep. All we need now is the mechanism to turn on the fire pit and instructions on using the vacuum robot. Sooo close. And tonight I’m getting in the hot tub. It’s cold but not so windy.

Have a good weekend.

I’m the Hero

Yes. Thanks to ME the pool dreams are coming true. The show of poop came to an end today, to much hilarity.

Cutting to the chase: we have fire.

Yes. Other than a minor adjustment, the pool is working. It is a miracle, sort of. First, the pool guys showed up bright and early with a new heater. This one worked and was not too bad to install. However, they’d been unable to find the missing mechanism for the fire pit. Bummer.

Glad to have this out of the way.

Then I worked a lot. Work, work, work, meet, meet, meet. Oh, did I mention we had our first “meal” with the kids at the cabin last night? Yes! Dairy Queen drive through! Official move-in date is this weekend.

Anyway, mid afternoon the propane guys came back. They got the heater hooked up, and now we’re cooking with gas. Yep.

Thrilled.

We were all sad that we could not get the fire pit going. They got more stuff attached, and we’re looking around at the inside of the pit. It was all dusty and full of plastic stuff that appeared to be trash.

Looks like trash.

Ha. That was not trash. I picked up a bag and there was some copper stuff in it. Hey, is this the thing you we’re looking for?

Yes.

Well. I was the hero of the day. In fact, everything they needed was under the dust from drilling the holes. Sheepishly, the guys set off to hook everything up. And soon, as you saw earlier, fire occurred.

Glorious reflection of fire pit, and Lee’s beloved vacuum hose.

So yes. The pool is a pool! Other than needing something to brace the fire pit mechanism against and covering the new holes, we are set. Just in time for a cold front. I do think we’ll get to try the hot tub, though.

Hot tub is heating!

I know the lady at the pool company got a good laugh out of me finding those parts. She no longer has to try to buy one and get it rushed here. As for me, even though I work 7 am to 8 pm tomorrow, I’m seeing nothing but blue skies. Quarantine with hot tub is way better than without.

Success!

Hot tub inaugurated. Still not hot and the cold front blew in!

What a Poop Show

We were all excited yesterday, because the propane people were supposed to come hook up the hot tub and fire pit, since our swimming pool is just a large water dish right now.

We love our water dish.

Let’s start with good news. The guy from DIRECTV showed up and stood the satellite dish back up so we can see television. He was unable to do anything about getting things set up so we can put a set in my office, because we have the COVID in the house. But, now he knows what we need, so he’ll be prepared in case we ever get the all-clear to participate in society again. This disease can make some people so sick. It’s horrible. Yes, that was the good news.

Standing tall again.

The rest of the stuff for the day did not go well for anyone involved. First, the pool company sent a young fellow out to “fix” our fire pit, because it apparently needed ventilation holes that they didn’t know about before. They’d started it last week, but not gotten very far.

Early in the drilling process

So, the young fella drilled and drilled, and repeatedly said, “Oh, snap!” which I thought was charming. Pretty soon, he’d burned out the drill, so he had to go all the way back to Waco to get another one. That thrilled him to no end.

Where’s the pool guy? (Even the dogs are looking)

Before he came back, the propane guys arrived. Let’s just say they weren’t thrilled to find out that a) the pool heater was not functional, so they couldn’t hook it up, and b) they were supposed to install a line to the fire pit, which they had not been informed about. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication going on around here.

Fine. We at least brought enough of this yellow stuff.

They went ahead and attached the gas line to the propane tank, which was the thing we were most concerned about, then grumbled a lot as they got pipe to the fire pit.

Hope nothing escapes that sewer line!

Speaking of grumbling, the nice pool kid returned with what had to be the biggest drill I ever saw. I think it’s an impact driver or something. He couldn’t even lift it! He also couldn’t change bits until our resident tool person showed him how in a rather graphic fashion that I will not share here.

The giant drill is on the ground. That’s our medium-sized drill he’s using. The young man has shed many layers.

I finally suggested that maybe we’d have a drill bigger than the first one and smaller than the second one, and sure enough, we did, and he finished after five endless hours of drilling and being complained to by the propane guys about sending them here with none of the stuff ready (like some vitally important key to turn the fire pit on and off, which I swear used to be there). None of these workers had a good day, though they were all perfectly pleasant to us, and we did get in a few laughs.

Waiting for something to hook up to.

I was told that a new heater was coming today and that they would get the hot tub going. It’s afternoon already and I see no workers of any sort. I’m not surprised, since the propane guys have other clients. But, where is the pool heater?

I’ll just sit here and wait, says Vlassic.

I pity the poor young woman who works for the pool company and had the bad timing to email me asking how the propane went. I told her. Many excuses later, and we still do not have a fire pit, a hot tub, or a covered trench. I think the Pool of Dreams will just have to remain a dream a while longer…another cold front is coming and the wind’s picked up again!

I’m sure glad I have all those horses to fill me with joy!

Poo on Pandemics

It’s been a rough week over at my house, with half the occupants down and out from the coronavirus, and the rest of us staying home, since we weren’t sure if we were asymptomatic but sick or not. It’s made me really glad we got some flowers last time I was at the grocery store, since I’ve needed the cheering up.

The peaceful tulips at full bloom

I’m glad there’s so much to see and do here, because it’s made things a little easier. We even have separate seating areas by the pool for the sick and the non sick. And to think I thought those areas were for basking in different angles of the sun.

Germs can’t go that far, I hope

I have some things I really want to do this weekend (outdoor things), so I went to get a COVID test yesterday at the Cameron Fire Station. So did most of the rest of the county. I’d say by the time I arrived, the line was half a mile long or more. It took about 2.75 hours to get through the line, which seems a lot longer when you have to pee, I assure you. Plus I got sunburn on my nose and arm! I had not planned ahead with sunscreen. If there is a next time, I will remember, but I hope my home tests arrive before the next time I need to test.

But, I did get in, finally, and endured the nasal swab thing. Ugh, now I see what people were talking about. That’s right, I hadn’t had a test before this, since I just stayed home the couple times I was exposed. The best news is that they called me less than 24 hours later to tell me I’m negative. Woo hoo. That probably explains why I feel fine. I guess we’ve done a good job separating ourselves, or my vaccinations worked. I’m relieved, in any case.

I am NOT the Germ Police in this neighborhood. Just the Coyote Patrol.

The book I’m reading, which is called Phosphorescence, talks about the importance of being in nature for your physical and mental health. I’m so glad to have so much woods and water to spend time in here at the ranch. (I was also lucky at my Austin house, since it was surrounded by greenbelts and had a view of the pool.)

Today the whole sitting around and looking at nature thing got a lot better, because we now have two lounge chairs with cushions on them, which makes sitting by the pool and blogging a heavenly experience. It helps that the temperature is perfect, in the low 70s. What could be better?

I’ll tell you what! It would be better if I had a hot tub to sit in (not while typing). And there’s good news on that front. I called the propane company myself and talked to the woman there (who was chatty and fun to talk to about heavy equipment we each own). That got us ON the schedule to get the hot tub all hooked up on MONDAY! It’s conceivable the pool will be completely finished by then.

Until then, I can just enjoy the animals. Vlassic and Gracie Lou look so cute together. Our small doggies deserve some time in the spotlight, or sunlight.

Lunch hour is over, so I have to drag myself back in and work on some training material. Then Drew gets to jump over jumps and have some fun. This is not a bad place to endure a pandemic at all, nope. Not at all.

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