Summer Fun? | The Story of Our Pool

My family is about as far from the idea of “wealthy” as you can get. We’re not necessarily struggling now, but we haven’t ever had much excess. We’ve always rented, and we don’t have AC in our current home. As my mom has gotten older, she’s gotten more and more dependent on having a pool to cool her down on hot, humid days.

The thing is, we live in the upper Midwest. That means there are nearly as many hot days in the summer as there are cold days in the winter. (And about a month in between for spring and fall, of course.) The battle for heat regulation is a steep one around here.

Arguments arise often about heating choices in the winter, and, surprise surprise, cooling choices in the summer. However, each year that we’ve lived here, we’ve gotten by with a half dozen box fans and a small rectangular kiddie pool.

Original Small Pool
This was the type of pool that we used before, they were around a foot and a half deep. Known affectionately as the Bathtub by Mom and I, they were simply big enough to fit us both and cool us down when necessary.

Something that also comes along with living in a rickety old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere is stray cats. They come through in small packs, rotating from one house to the next ever nonchalantly. They keep the mice away, and we live in peace. However, this also means that they are in search of water to keep hydrated in the summer heat.

And so, every single one of my mom’s poor little inflatable kiddie pools had fallen victim to the sharp claws of these strays after a few weeks. The little kitties jump up on the edge of the pool, bend down, and drink, using their claws when they lose balance, of course. It didn’t take more than a few hours for the pools to deflate after that. These pools were simply water, no chemicals to be worried about, and small and cheap enough that we didn’t bother to cover them. It just wasn’t an issue we wanted to address until they were finally popped.

We have seven pools in our garage, all flat as British pancakes, from the seven years we’ve gotten them since moving here eight years ago. They’re in the garage because of good intentions. An intention of, “We’re going to spend hours patching that up to use next summer” that never comes to fruition. Basically, Mom just goes out and gets another $25 kiddie pool, and the stack continues to build.

However, by the time we hit about a four pool stack, Mom started getting wise to the situation. Thinking, “I’ve spent over $100 on all of these pools, not to mention the water from emptying it every few days because we don’t use chlorine. Why don’t we just get a better one to use for more than a year?!” Well, this was not good by J, my beloved yet commandeering stepfather. And some of his complaints were valid, sure, the pump requires electricity. Another day, another dollar. It’s chill. I get it.

And so, a three year back and forth has occurred between them on whether or not to get a larger above ground pool. And in that span we’ve added another three to the stack, another nearly $90 down the drain. And the back and forth nagging and contemplation and frustration about the whole situation.

Until my stepdad decided to just go out and get a pool. A real pool for us. He used the excuse of Mom’s birthday, and spent the afternoon putting it up. That’s definitely telling of the balance we’ve got going on here, but it’s fine. It all worked out.

And let me say, the setting up was a whole ‘nother experience in itself. From the leveling process (see sand under pool), the fight over using chemicals or not, the fight over using the filter or not, blah blah blah. Mom and I didn’t even get to get in it until the day after, so I think it made the experience seem every more drawn out. It was just a long day in general.

Our pool! Very closely framed because J was dancing behind it with the skimmer.

…I hate to admit it, but I think it was worth it. The pool isn’t fancy, it definitely wasn’t expensive, but in my mind it symbolizes something more. An ability to compromise, to grow past one’s predetermined volition for someone else’s comfort. An ability that I wasn’t sure my family even had. And no, I’m not just blowing smoke out of my ass, I mean it.

By the way, the cats haven’t touched the thing so far. I think it’s a combination of having it covered with a debris cover when we’re not in it and my homemade cat repellent. It’s really done the trick. They know that they can’t get any water out anyways because of the cover, and the smell reinforces that it isn’t a safe watering hole. I simply spray some vinegar on the sides, as the acid is mild enough that the vinyl on our pool isn’t damaged by it. Then I spray a little lemon and lime juice on the ground around the base of the pool. Cats absolutely abhor both citrus and white vinegar. It’s worked so far, I reapplied once after it rained and it worked like a charm.

So *knock on wood* we’re hoping that the pool will last at least through the summer, and possibly onto next summer. Woo!

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Current Music Pick // Oats in the Water by Ben Howard

This song was featured on season 4 of The Walking Dead, and that’s of course how I discovered it. It’s the most well known of Hershel’s themes and I really love it so much. Hershel is a great character with amazing growth, strength, and… he evolves into one of the best people on the show from one of the most unliked characters ever. The tragedy of his own and the overall Greene family arc is simply beautiful. And sad. So very sad…

The song itself is unique. It has a bit of an indie trill to the vocals that can be a bit distracting or add to the listening experience depending on when you listen to it. It has some smoothing warmth to it, and is somehow occasionally gritty? The tone is an uneasy building up to an impassioned version of the chorus that is just gorgeous. The guitar solo is impressive yet not overdone, and definitely throws back to some of the strong 80s rock that I grew up with. I tweeted about it when I found it, but man I only like it more now. It’s been on repeat for days.

My Music Playlist


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