Ever since our temperatures got above 60 degrees and things started growing again (3-4 weeks ago), Ted and I have been busy working outside.  We have nearly all of the once-per-year work finished, and are down to planting some annuals.  Today, I saw this picture online, and it cracked me up.

When we had our backyard pool installed, we were told that the liner would last about 10 years.  Last summer (year 9) it looked badly faded, so we decided to replace it this spring.  When the pool was installed, I was at work on the day the men were scheduled to “drop the liner.”  That phrase has fascinated me ever since, so I made sure to be around to witness the liner replacement process (and to photo document it for my blog, of course).  I asked the men if they minded my watching and they said no, people do that all the time.  I enjoy watching professionals do a good job, so it was an interesting two-day process for me to observe.

Before the workers arrived, we needed to drain the pool.  That’s winter algae and dirt on the bottom.  Old pictures show this liner used to have a much deeper color.  We couldn’t drain the pool too far in advance because there’s a danger of the sides collapsing without water to hold them up.

Bruce and Dustin (B & D) are ready to make our backyard vacation a reality.

Ted and I were at Pilates when B & D cut out the old liner, so I missed that part of the process.  Poor Dustin (the apprentice) had the thrill of vacuuming every inch of the pool bottom to prepare it for the new liner.

Everything is ready to go.  You can see a little bit of the old liner where B & D cut the pool light out to remove it (right).  The cardboard box (upper right center) contains the new liner.  Check out how well I cleaned those steps so they’d look as new as the liner.

Because the vertical sides become pitted over time, B & D covered them with a layer of foam.  They cut it from a large roll, then sprayed the wall and the back side of the foam with adhesive before pressing it in place.

Bruce dampened the pool bottom and then spread a thin layer of pool-crete dust (softer than concrete) over it to fill small depressions / dents that developed over time.  The dampness wets the pool-crete dust enough to make it set up and harden.  Now we’ll have a completely smooth pool bottom again (until new dents form).

Meanwhile, Dustin located the positions of all the hardware and cut the foam to expose them.  He found the skimmer (left) and is working on the light.

All the hardware positions have been found and the bottom has a new coating of pool-crete, ready to harden overnight.  Bruce dampened the top surface of the pool-crete to assure it will all harden, leaving no loose dust (or possible dents) for tomorrow.

When B & D finished for the day, a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for our area, so they set up a sump pump and covered the pool-crete with a tarp to prevent rain splatters from marring the fresh surface.  The high wind (50-60 mph) and hard rain (0.5 inches) hit just as they were leaving our house.  Good timing!

Step One of “drop the liner” is to unpack and unroll it.  It’s important to begin with the liner in the correct position, so there are stickers on the back side indicating “deep end” and “shallow end.”

Bruce started tucking the liner into the edge to hold it in place while Dustin fed it to him, never allowing the liner to rub against the pool bottom.

When one side was partially anchored, B & D attached the other side.

Almost finished.  B & D left the open area across the steps for last.

Here’s the “shallow end” sticker at the stairs, verifying that the liner is in the correct position.

A red arrow sticker on each side of the liner indicates where the edge of the slant to the deep end begins.

The red arrows weren’t in the right places, so B & D shifted the liner around by sliding it along the groove where it’s attached.  B slid some slack ahead to D, then D held the bunched-up part while B re-fastened what they had moved.  They needed a 10-12 inch shift in position.  When they finished, both red arrows were dead-on with the edge at the top of the slant.

Once the liner was in place, a vacuum was inserted.  We had to keep that noisy thing running while we filled the pool so there wouldn’t be any air bubbles under the liner.

While the vacuum roared, Bruce started removing the wrinkles.  Option One was to kick the liner (gently, with soft shoes) toward the edge where the side meets the bottom.

Bruce “walked out” the remaining wrinkles in the center with (what else?) duct tape.  He used two rows of duct tape, releasing the far piece of tape on the side toward him while pulling the near piece toward himself to shift the wrinkle in his direction.  Then he fastened the near piece over the wrinkle and repeated the process a little farther toward the edge until he could finish by kicking it into the corner as in the photo above.  Slick trick!

All those hardware openings needed to be found again, this time in the liner.  Bruce started with the drains, . . .

. . . then the jets, . . .

. . . and finally, the light and skimmer–coming next on the left of the light.  You can see the top of the skimmer opening on the pool deck.

The jet hardware on the left is old; the one on the right is new.  The opening in the old one is bigger because it’s been worn away by the water shooting through it over the years.  Science lesson:  friction and water power in action!

Last, Bruce cut the liner so we can access the pool from the steps.

After cutting the liner away, B & D put the trim around the opening.  We have a salt system pool pump, so Bruce used salt bags (to be added to the water later) to hold the liner in place after removing the wrinkles.

Finally, we were told to start filling the pool.  Yippee!  We were directed to fill it only to the bottom of the first step so that B & D could smooth out any wrinkles that developed with the weight of the water in the liner.  They can’t do that if there is too much heavy water sitting on it.  After they took out the 5 or 6 new wrinkles, we were good to go to the top.  It took more than 14 hours with two hoses to fill the entire pool.

Today, a crew came to re-install the ladder and railings, to add the necessary chemicals to the fresh water, and to activate the pump and heater.  Houston, we are “go” to swim!

Last night, while Ted and I were eating dinner, we heard a very loud noise.  We looked outside to see what heavy thing might have fallen, but everything looked normal, so we finished eating and then decided to run an errand.  Unfortunately, the garage door wouldn’t open, although it worked fine an hour earlier when Ted put away the yardwork tools we’d been using.  While we were troubleshooting what might be wrong, we noticed something.

The door mechanism is supposed to have only one spring, not two.

 

It was weird how, just because we couldn’t get the cars out of the garage, we felt trapped–even though we didn’t really need to go anywhere.  The garage door guy came this afternoon and replaced the broken spring, so we’re free to roam again.  Whew!

Ted and I both loved Hawai’i.  We agree that, if there were only one more place that we could choose to visit, it would be Hawai’i.  While we were there, we toured a tropical flower nursery near Hana, Mau’i.  Ted apparently paid close attention to the fact that the nursery ships tropical flowers anywhere, because he ordered some for me for Mother’s Day.

This is what I found on the porch after the FedEx man left.

I opened the box and found a card wishing me Aloha and love from Ted from Hana.

Under the tissue and a layer of damp shredded newspaper, I found these flowers.

Removing more damp shredded paper revealed two more layers of flowers and leaves.

I wish I were more artistic so I could do justice to Ted’s gift, but this is my best effort.

 

We learned at the nursery that many tropical “flowers” are actually the leaves of the plants.  Because of that, they are very hardy (they feel almost like heavy wax) and last a long time.  I’m looking forward to many days of having a little part of Paradise in St. Peters.  Thank you, Ted.  I love you so much, and a gift as wonderful and thoughtful as this tells me the feeling is mutual.  We are richly blessed in so many ways, aren’t we?

When we were in Hawai’i in January, we bought two sculptures.  There were quite a few similar pieces to choose from and, because the artist created each one from hand-blown glass, no two were exactly alike.  It took repeated visits to the store to select the ones we liked best.  Recent pictures of the eruptions of Kilauea verify that the artist accurately envisioned his finished work.

Here’s an aerial view of Kilauea erupting from fissures.

Here’s our sculpture titled “Fissure.”

This is a photo of a fountain in an  eruption.

This is our sculpture titled “Eruption.”  Compare its shape to the fountain in the actual volcano.

Ted creates beauty in our yard, not only when he plants and cares for our landscaping, but even when he waters his newly seeded grass in the sunlight.

Thom took this picture of Julian flipping on the ski slopes at Stevens Pass.  Thom noted that onlookers were applauding.  Go, Julian!

You need a broad vocabulary and a good editor (not spell check) when you’re writing for print media.  I saw this in the newspaper after the Waffle House shooting.

Everyone knows you should never use a preposition to end a sentence with.  Where did that grammar rule come from?  (Grammar humor taking place.)

This preposition rule is based on Latin grammar and makes no sense in modern English.  Grammarly (and other high-ranking language professionals) tell us it’s now OK to use a preposition at the end of a sentence.  We no longer need that Latin rule to hide behind.  (Get it?)

We bought this patio furniture at least 15 years ago–probably longer.  The furniture got a lot of use until we put in the swimming pool nine years ago.  Now we usually sit in the pool area and rarely go to the trouble of putting the cushions on these pieces to sit on the patio.  We don’t remember using them at all during the past two summers, except when the kids came home and we needed extra seating outside.

We decided to get rid of the furniture, so we set it at the curb.  Less than ten minutes later, when we looked at the curb, the furniture was history at our house and on its way to a new home.

It’s time to sign up for our next Pilates session.  Imagine our surprise when we opened the website and saw a picture of us as the current example of what the class offers.

 

For the exercise in the photo, we have resistance bands (green) around our legs and we need to open and close our knees 40 times, keeping our feet and the rest of our bodies on the floor.  If you’re not in shape, your inner thighs will tell you within 2-3 hours.  Ted is in the front (red shirt) and I’m in the blue shirt.  The teacher is in the upper left.  There were more people in the class, but I guess they didn’t all fit in the picture.  We’d forgotten that we signed consents for this photo 1-2 years ago.

Finally–warm weather!  We’ve had highs in the upper 70s and 80s and no rain this week for more than 1-2 days in a row, and it feels so good!  Wherever you meet people, the talk is about how good it is to see the sun, how much more energetic we all feel, and what a treat it is to be above 50 degrees for a change.

“In the spring,” Tennyson wrote, “a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”  Love is a year-round (not a seasonal) thing for Ted and me, so in the spring, our thoughts turn to opening up the pool.  This week, we’ve been cleaning up the yard and the lawn furniture–since it’s finally warm enough to sit outside and enjoy ourselves.

The cover is off the pool, the furniture is out of the storage shed, and I’m ready to go with my trusty power washer.

There was a lot of rain in the past few months. The water level was at least 16 inches lower than this when we covered the pool last fall.

Everything is cleaned up and put in place.  I love seeing all the trees in bloom wherever I go.

 

This year, we’re going to have a new pool liner installed, so we don’t have to clean up the water.  A technician will be coming early next week to put the pump back in working order.  Then we’ll drain the pool and a crew will spend a day removing this liner and installing the new one.  The warm weather makes me eager to get back in the water to swim some laps.

 

For non-grammar nerds, the Oxford (serial) comma is the final comma in a list of things.  People either love or hate the Oxford comma, and style manuals are beginning to compromise by advocating use of the Oxford comma as an option when clarity is needed.  I always use it because it always provides clarity.

Without the Oxford comma:  I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

With the Oxford comma:  I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.

This week, Ted and I attended the St. Charles School District orchestra concert.  This is my favorite school concert of the year because it includes the entire string program in the six participating district schools:  elementary (5th-6th grades), intermediate (7th-8th grades), and high school (9th-12th grades).  In thanking the parents, community, and administration for their support, one of the teacher/directors mentioned that she is proud to be part of such a thriving string program (about 400 students) when many schools are eliminating similar programs due to budget cuts.

L -> R: elementary, intermediate, high school orchestras

 

The elementary school orchestra always plays first.  Their selections are short and simple (“Hot Cross Buns,” “Flintstones Theme,” etc.), and it’s amazing to hear their improvement since the fall concert.  Then the intermediate students play more difficult pieces (e.g., a simplified arrangement of Dvor├ík’s “Cavatina”).  You think the elementary orchestra sounds good until you hear how much better the musicians are with two more years of practice in intermediate school.  Finally, the high school orchestra performs and it sounds even better.  This year, one of their selections was a Disney medley arranged by a high school student musician.  The concert finale selections are played by all three orchestras together–a challenge for the teacher/directors, I’m sure.  Those pieces were my favorites of the evening.

Author’s note:  As a former band member (clarinet), I was amused at the way the directors kept the three orchestras on the same beat for the final pieces.  The elementary director (on the left) plays her violin along with her students and keeps time with her bow strokes.  The high school director (on the right) keeps his eyes on her to keep time with his hands.  The intermediate director (center and a little forward of the other two) watches the high school director and keeps time with him.  Teamwork! 

The intermediate orchestra takes its bow after its performance.  The arrows point at Sky (front) and Dylan (back).

 

When the concert is finished, cake and punch are provided for the students and guests.  The moment the musicians are excused after taking their final bow, there is a mad student rush for the gym door to get to the cake and punch!  (After all, it’s probably been nearly two hours since they had dinner.)  Yes, it’s always an enjoyable evening.  Next year, Teddy will be joining the elementary orchestra.

Cake!!!  The still photo doesn’t do justice to the speed at which these kids are heading for the door.