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Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Trailing Spouse Becomes The Pool Boy
Lulu loves to swim. Her dream has always been to live in Florida and have a swimming pool in her back yard. I like to think that she wants to re-create the scene from 1969 when we met . I was the life guard up in the chair and she was the pretty teenager in a bikini. So when I retired and FSU came a courtin' - the first home that the realtor showed us with a pool won Lulu's heart.
I used to like to swim - but after many years of life guarding - I got sick of it. A perfect day to Lulu is lying on a beach - be it Alligator Point or South Beach Miami - all slathered up with lotion and just watching the waves. I can take that for about 20 minutes - then I must find do something - even if it is only installing aluminum siding.
So we bought this house with the dream pool - way to big for the yard. It is 20 x 40 - with an 8 feet diving well - surrounded by a screen enclosure to keep the tons of pine needles and live oak leaves out. The pool has a gas heater - that we seldom use. Lulu had visions of heating the pool all year - after all we were living the high life in Florida now.
We moved into the Florida pool house in March of 2004. The water temperature was 60 degrees. After checking the gas meter - I flipped on the pool heater. A blast of hot air came out of the top of the heater - that smelled like money. So we went to bed with visions of the Australian crawl dancing in Lulu's head. All night long I had nightmares of dollar bills flying out of the pool. In the morning - the pool was a toasty 80 degrees. Lulu was living her dream all the way up to the my screams coming from the side of the house as I read the gas meter. It had cost me $50 for that one little 60 to 80 degree one-day episode. Probably the most expensive swim we ever had. When Lulu tried to get out of the pool - I yelled - get back in there - it is the warmest place in Florida.
Since then the reality of pool ownership has hit me. Just turning 60 - I have a desire to make less work for me - less things to maintain - less fees to pay for upkeep. My new motto is, "Less is more."
I have suffered through 4 years of pool vacuuming - pool chemicals - pool makeup water - pool filter flushing - pool screen pressure washing - pool sidewalk scrubbing - and watching out for the dreaded yellow algae.
If I had my way - I would fill the pool with dirt and plant corn. Maybe I could do like Nixon in the White House and put a bowling alley over the pool.
The liner in our pool is old - the pool was installed in 1991 - and the liner is probably the charter member. Two times we have had leaks in the liner. First time - the pool guy came and used a little electric thing to detect the hole. Last time - he could not find the leak - but was sure a new liner would fix it. So right now the pool is empty. We are deciding its fate.
If it were up to me - the pool would be gone. But Lulu makes more money than I do - so she gets more votes. The Plaza Tower Condos are looking better and better every day - especially the apartment on the 7th floor - southwest corner. But getting that past Lulu seems impossible - that and the terrible status of real estate sales in Florida.
Lulu wants to just get a new liner - and keep all of the same problems. That causes a stiffening in my chest.
On the other hand - I would like to cut down on upkeep. In a perfect world - I would have a concrete gunite pool - about 3.5 feet deep with a flat bottom. It would be easier to clean - use less water - less chemical - less upkeep. The water would warmup quicker due to it being shallower and having less volume. We also could play volleyball and basketball in the pool - rather than just sit there and look at it. But the lowest quote I could get for that solution is $15,000. My laziness for cleaning the pool is only eclipsed by the faces I make when I have to open up the deep pockets of my wallet.
A compromise would be to have the pool filled in part way by sand - and have a new liner made to my shallower specs. Lulu would still have her pool - and I would have less water that would be easier to care for - easier to vacuum - and would stay warmer. And maybe - just maybe - some day I would flip on that switch to the gas pool heater without having an anxiety attack.
What do you think? Any ideas would be appreciated? Can this marriage be saved? Send advice to - firstname.lastname@example.org