Keeping Up With the Amaya's

August 26, 1999

As previously reported, we went to a lovely BBQ/pool party at the Evaporation's a few weekends ago. As Steve has reported, they have added a lovely pool to their backyard. It's one of those above-ground jobbies.

For most of my life I have held above-ground pools in great disdain. Why would anyone want something like that in their backyard? Just get a real pool for goodness sake, I thought.

As an aside, after my parents divorced one of the many apartments my dad lived in was a brownstone that had once been a single family home then converted to apartments. This particular brownstone had been the home of the Gimbel's (of NY department store and Miracle on 34th Street fame).

The apartment, a basement flat, was a one bedroom, and completely unremarkable except for the fact that there was a swimming pool in the middle of the living room. Well, not in the middle, but at the back, on the side. The pool was about 15 feet long and about 10 feet wide built into the ground.

The kitchen backed up to this pool and had portholes so you could look from the kitchen into the pool. It was extremely cool.

The only bad thing was the apartment was always vaguely damp and had an underlying musty/mildewy and chlorine smell. He didn't stay there long but my sisters and I loved it.

When I bought my first house and it became abundantly clear that the only home I would be able to afford was going to be in the Valley I decided that the tradeoff would be that I must have a pool. Oh, and I wanted dirt too. Not just a huge expanse of cement with a hole in the middle filled with water. I wanted the pool, and ample room to garden. (I was in the middle of studying to be a landscape contractor/designer and wanted the space to apply my newfound skills.)

We found the house. More cement than I would have wanted, but also sufficient dirt, and a pool. A beautiful sort of kindey-shaped-but-not-quite-built-into-the-ground swimming pool. I loved that pool. The first summer we were in the house I would come home from work every night, strip my clothes off as I walked from the front door to the back, and dive directly in. We had pool parties and BBQ's. And lots of skinny dipping because the backyard was incredibly private.

Then Zoe came along. For almost the full first year of her life it was no problem. She couldn't walk so we felt no need to fence the pool.

At 10 1/2 months she started walking. And when she was outside she would make a beeline. Directly for the pool. Shortly thereafter the fence went up.

Over the course of the five years in the house with the pool, after that first summer I hardly ever went in it. The backyard is surrounded by trees. Great for privacy but not so great for getting some solar energy to heat the thing up. And let's face it--I'm a wuss. I like the pool to be warm as a bathtub.

Here's the thing about Zoe. She's a Pisces. And a friend who knows these kinds of things told me that her rising sign is also Pisces. Pisces is a water sign. Fish are the symbol of this particular sign. And never have I seen a truer Pisces.

Since almost the minute she was born, if she ever got the least bit upset or out of sorts into the bath I would put her and she would immediately calm down. I think she would live water if she could.

The pool was absolutely irresistible. The thing is, little babies and big pools do not mix. (Chuck has a journal entry about a terrifying story but his archives are so cumbersome I cannot find it.)

So, in addition to the huge in-ground pool, we got one of those little wading pools. Miss Zoe was as happy as could be. We could empty it every night for safety. She could splash around all day for fun.

Well...last summer we moved. The new digs are much more spacious but it lacks a critical ingredient for life in the San Fernando Valley in the summertime. A pool.

We have plenty of room for a pool. Shit, we have room for an Olympic-sized pool and plenty of dirt left over. But here's the thing...we don't have about $30,000 extra to build the pool. Then, as anyone who has a pool can tell you, this is just the beginning.

You can figure about $1.50 per day or about $45-$50 per month for electricity to run the pump/filter stuff. Another $50 (minimum) a month for a pool man every week. And about $60 a month for the water, because with all the water the pool takes you have to pay sewage which is 1:1 billing in this area, even though the water you use evaporates. Don't even talk about heating the pool. That can run upwards of $300/month. All told, a pool adds nearly $200 a month to the overhead. I don't really feel like throwing away $200 a month. Call me madcap but there it is.

So, last summer, our first summer in this house, we got another inflatable pool. Zoe was bigger so the inflatable pool got bigger. We got one that was about 6' X 12' and about 2 feet deep. Suki spent as much time in it as Zoe. A fun time was had by all.

I haven't really given the pool issue any more thought although periodically Chuck says he'd like to build one here. I'm in no rush (as outlined from the expenses above). Plus, we've been lucky and had an unusually cool summer so it wasn't an issue. We hadn't even set up last summer's inflatable which is folded up in the storage area.

Well, then we went to casa de Amaya. There was their pool. All sparkly and crystal clear. It was big enough to float around in. Small enough to be heated by the afternoon sun. I had to have one.

There are several areas in the backyard that would be the perfect spot. Since it was already mid-August and all you can find in the stores are winter things I had all but given up hope on finding a pool.

Well, the weather has taken a turn for the summer here.

Wednesday night we found ourselves at OSH. And there, right next to the display of Christmas lights and Halloween stuff was the pool. The last one left. The box was intact from the factory so it was very likely all the parts would be there. I found Chuck and told him I had to have it rightthisveryminute.

Himself was not all too thrilled with this turn of events. He had just had the gruesome toe surgery and was feeling kind of punk anyway and didn't want to be schlepping this enormously unwieldy and heavy box around. He tried everything. It won't fit in the car was his last ditch effort. I was relentless. I reminded him we were in the loaner (my car was in the shop) and who cared. It was like having a rental only better. Then Zoe chimed in. The man was powerless.

All the way home from the store Zoe wanted to know if she could go swimming when we got home. We told her she had to wait until the next day.

Yesterday, she walked in the front door after school, saw the pool still in its box by the front door and started in again on wanting to go swimming. Like at Amy's. I want to go in my pool like Amy's. Damn you Steve.

So, last night Chuck and I set the pool up. The box says it will take 30 minutes. OK, that's a lie, but after about 1 1/2 hours it was set up and filling. And it went together pretty easily.

Zoe was naked the entire time in anticipation of going in the pool.

When we got the first inch of water in the pool she went in. The water was freezing and it was nearly dark but she loved it.

After school today she enjoyed a quick dip too.

The little pump is humming away. I picked up a new raft for myself at the store this evening. I have been bribing my daughter for good behavior all day with threats of taking the pool down if she doesn't behave. She has been an angel.

I hope tomorrow is a scorcher. I know where I'll be all afternoon.

Until next time. . .