Coffee heat rising

So How’d That Pool Update Go?

Ay-MAZING, that’s how it’s gone. As you may recall, as soon as the hot weather passed, SuperPoolDudes launched into a total replastering and partial rebuilding job. This was right about the time Cassie the Corgi came down with what may yet prove to be a terminal ailment.

Whereas Cassie is only marginally improved, the pool renovation has been astonishing.

Today — for the first time since they finished the job — I tossed the hose in to add an inch or two of water. Last time was about six weeks ago. And in fact a top-up does not have to be done just this minute: the level is right at the tile line that marks its ideal level. In fact, I like to keep a little more than that in there, in case something happens to me that I can’t be here to maintain the thing  (like another fun visit to the operating room). Before this, I had to add water about every two or three days.

It seemed like winter refills were more frequent than in the summer, but in fact, during the summer I would be in the pool with the hose, power-washing algae off the walls and steps. And also in summer you have to water potted plants every day; usually during that process I would end up dropping the hose into the water while I fooled with this, that, or the other chore, which would refill even though I wasn’t doing so deliberately.

What does this mean? Well, my guess is that it means there was a leak in the shell or plumbing that got fixed when they replumbed to move Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner to the valve he’s supposed to work on or when they replastered and sealed the crack on the south wall.

PoolDude didn’t think that crack was leaking water out of the pool, because there was no rust around that area. But…I don’t know what other explanation there could be.

This month the water bill dropped from $250 to $100.

Think of that… If whatever they did saves $100 a month (on average: evaporation obviously is higher in the summer), that replastering job will pay for itself in 6 years and 7 months. And since the product’s lifetime is 20 years…well…

There hasn’t been so much as a flicker of mustard algae since we restarted the system.

The chlorine level is still high, a week after the last routine application. Acid demand is very high, though, which is a bit of a concern. It has to do, I understand, with the chemistry of the Pebblesheen, as opposed to the chemistry of old-fashioned white plaster. Supposedly this will settle down after the plasteroid cures. I hope so. It’s not a big nuisance…but adding acid is just another chore. As is traipsing around the city to buy it.

But really: when PoolDude remarked that the upgraded system would drop maintenance to near-nil, he wasn’t kidding. I haven’t had to do anything to that pool, other than test the chemicals and adjust — a very simple chore.

We haven’t had a lot of storm activity, that must be said. So the filter baskets are not filling up with leaves and gunk at any noticeable rate.

The idea of buying an extra pump pot basket and alternating them was brilliant. Now instead of having to scrub and scour the basket with the hose every time I have to clean it out, all I have to do is lift out one basket, set it on the pool shelf, and drop the other one in. Let the wet basket dry out, and all the leaves just shake right out! Noooo scrubbing!!!

So I’m thinking I’ll also get a second skimmer basket. This collects leaves that float on the surface. Now that Harvey is attached to a dedicated line in the side of the pool rather than hogging the skimmer inlet, the skimmer can actually do its job: skim leaves off the surface. 🙂

While I’m up at Leslie’s snabbing one of those, I’d better try to remember to ask my favorite Manager Dude if he has anything to help keep the scale off the tilework. Incredibly, the PoolDudes managed to remove 14 years’ worth of white scale from the antique tilework, which they also repaired in places. If it weren’t mid-century modern in style, the tile would look brand new! I’d sure like to keep it that way.

Lordie, but that water is soooo cold just now. I cannot BELIEVE that I managed to survive leaping into the deep end, in February when it’s even colder, to rescue a decrepit German shepherd who’d fallen in. If you had any question that I’m crazy, you can disabuse yourself of that doubt. I’m not just crazy. I’m batshit raving nuts.

Pool Refill Day(s)

Gerardo is running on mañana time this morning. He was supposed to surface at 7 a.m.; it’s after 8. Hope he hasn’t had trouble with his truck or trailer. More likely, the trouble is getting the cousins (his employees) out of the rack and on the road. 😀 WhatEVER, this was not the best of all possible days for him to announce he’s coming to clean up the front-and-back 40: two hoses have been running all night to refill the pool, and will be all day. So his men will have to stumble around hoses stretched from the west side and the south side into the pool, and signs reading “por favor, no aqague el agua“: very likely a cryptic message, since it was disgorged by Google’s translator.

I have to leave in an hour or so. Since I likely won’t be here to direct the show, I decided to pull up the mound of dead Mexican primrose in the backyard. Exactly why this particular bed of plants decided to die just now escapes me. They’re sort of semi-perennial. They do die back….but not usually at this time of year. The whole hill of the things had melted down into a pile of hay.

At any rate, now I won’t have to argue with him — or physically be here — to be sure he doesn’t eradicate the other flowering plants and the bulbs that recently came up in that spot.

As I was pulling up dead plants, a thought occurred to me: Y’know…it’s hard to believe i’ve been here long enough that the pool actually needed to be replastered!

It’s kinda amazing that I’m here at all, after Tony the Romanian Landlord — known in FaM precincts as “the Perp” — terrorized my lawyers and a judge to such an extreme that they urged me to sell this house — like…three weeks after I’d purchased it in cash from the sale of my old house — and flee, brushing my tracks with palm fronds.

Even if I could have afforded to do that — I decidedly could not have — I’m not that easily scared. Truly, it was a matter of make my day, White Dude! If he’d come around while I was here, he wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale. And when his poor deluded son-in-law did try to come in the side gate, surprising a large German shepherd…well… Let me put it this way: a workman came by and told me there was a guy sitting in the driveway two houses down rocking himself and weeping.

Yes. Well. Sorry about that.

Later — years later — I learned that the people who sold me this house moved because they were afraid of Tony. Other neighbors nearby remained but have said they were afraid of him, too.  They think he’s some kind of Eastern European mafioso.

LOL! That glorifies the man a bit much. If you were a mafioso, a) you would not be sweeping the airport floors as your day job and b) you would not work anywhere near as hard as Tony works at his rental empire. You have to hand that to him: he’s one helluva hard-working man.

Tony was an air traffic controller in the Old Country. His English wasn’t good enough to get him a similar job here, so he ended up working as a janitor. At the airport. That notwithstanding, he engineered, by dint of some elaborate story-telling to various mortgage lenders, the purchase of half-a-dozen houses in our neighborhood, plus at least a couple more in the more downscale area north of Gangbanger’s Way, all of which he turned into rentals. He bought these before the run-up in real estate prices and then, apparently advised by a savvy investor, sold them at the very height of the Bubble. So he made a nice chunk of dough at the expense of the neighbors, whose property values (as you can imagine) were not helped by having every third house turned into a rental shack.

At any rate, as a result of a quarrel over the maintenance of these properties, Tony vandalized my pool to the tune of about 12 grand. The insurance covered the entire cost of replastering and repairing the pool equipment…so…thankyouverymuch, I got a brand-new plaster job and Tony got a threat of deportation from two of the biggest bruiser cops you’ve ever seen in your life. I don’t know what they really said to him (they claimed they calmly pointed out to him that if they chose to arrest him he would be enjoying early retirement back in Romania), but whatever it was, they put the fear of God into him. And Anna put the fear of Dog into his demented son-in-law, who since has moved out.

The plain white plaster I chose — because that was what the insurance would cover and because I’d been told PebbleTec is hard on your feet and your pool cleaner — was warranteed for 10 years. That was 15 years ago.

So the stuff has lasted a good long time!

This new stuff, a kinder gentler version of PebbleTec called “PebbleSheen,” supposedly lasts upwards of 20 years. By then I’ll either be dead and gone or moved to the old-folkerie, so barring any new squabbles with the local bully, it should be good for the rest of the time I’m in this house. If my son inherits the place, it should last him several years, too.

Water has been running into the pool from both the side and the back faucets since yesterday and it’s not half full. I’ll need to turn one of the spigots off and the other one down while I’m running around the city today (once you start, you can’t stop the water, lest you mark the new plaster with a permanent water line). So it probably will be tomorrow morning before the pool is filled back up to the tile border.

Though I surely would prefer not to have to spend 10 grand on the plastering job plus God Only Knows how much on the water to refill the thing, nevertheless I’m feeling pretty pleased with it. The blue stony stuff is going to look really nice. Plus the guys revamped the plumbing system so that Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner can be plugged into a pipe on the north wall, rather than having to be stuck into the strainer inlet. This means the strainer basket will be in place at all times, allowing the flowing water to direct floating debris into it, meaning I don’t have to take the filter basket apart every couple of days to clean it out. And rather little blown debris sinks to the bottom when Harvey isn’t occupying the strainer-basket inlet. It’ll be a lot easier to take care of — mostly just a matter of keeping the chemicals balanced, which is ludicrously easy.

Cassie is feeling well enough to bark(!!), probably signalling the arrival, in the distance, of Gerardo’s truck. And so, away!

Dog, Pool

Cassie the Corgi: still alive. Vet whose diagnosis I question thinks she has maybe another three months. Could be. She has her ups and downs…except…with each passing day she has more ups than she has downs.

She’s definitely not cured. Still coughing out of the blue…as just now: she’s just sitting there and hoff hoff. Yet before, she couldn’t bark without falling into a coughing frenzy. Now she barks, as before, constantly — and pretty much cough-free.

So I had this idea of tracking her ailment in Excel. Score symptoms on a scale of 1 (terrible) to 10 (back to normal). Observe result:

Hmmmm…. So what we have here starts on September 28 — about three weeks after this doggy ailment began, or at least after it registered as a serious problem in the human’s estimation. She’s really sick at that point and has been for awhile. About the 26th is when I take her off the fluconazole (the fungicidal Valley fever drug) that has made her very sick, indeed. By the 28th, she’s still incontinent, unable to eat, almost inert. Late in the day on the 29th, she revives. Then the next day she shows signs of a UTI…not just incontinence but blood in the urine. She has lost a lot of weight. I continue to dose her with Temaril-P, which contains prednisone; she continues incontinent. Incontinence is a side-effect of prednisone. But she starts to eat as the effects of the fluconozale wear off.

On the 4th I take her off the Temaril; on the 5th the new vet says the urinalysis shows the dog has a UTI; the original vet says the test doesn’t show anything very serious, but the new vet begs to differ, remarking that the numbers are as high as they can get. Vet 1 wants me to put her back on the drugs. I demur. She continues to cough and wheeze, but once regaining her appetite eats robustly. On the 7th I finally decide to cut back the Temaril and on the 8th have the idea of trying Benadryl. At that point she improves significantly, even attaining to a “10” a couple of times. I start the new vet’s doxycycline for the UTI on the 13th (it takes that long to get the results of the urine culture), and on the 14th she hits a “10.” She relapses on the 25th but then rebounds on the 26th. Today her condition has been mixed but never much below an “8.” That, I would suggest, is one helluva lot better than the scores of “1” that occurred on the 30th, the 3rd, and the 5th. She has a coughing spell at 4:00 this morning, but otherwise has been at the 8 to 10 level all day.

So…what? She seems to be trending better despite an occasional backslide. But does that mean anything? If it does, what does it mean?

Well, I guess all this comes under the heading of “we shall see.”

Meanwhile, pool guys have been in and out all week. They spent a full day jackhammering off the plaster. And the better part of half another day cleaning layers of calcium scale off the tiles….

A-N-N-N-N-D HOLY Shit!

Ruby just had a reverse sneeze episode while she was inhaling her doggy dinner and started choking on her food. I had to run to the kitchen (where she’s fed separately from Cassie to keep her from grabbing Cassie’s food) and for GODSAKE had to apply a Heimlich maneuver to save her little doggy life!

IS this EVER going to stop?????????

Well, she seems OK now. They’re both OK now. For the nonce.

Yes. So. The pool guys. The tiles look essentially brand new. I’m really glad I didn’t have them removed and replaced. They not only look great, of course they’re very mid-century modern. Perfect.

And to gild that lily, the guys who came in today succeeded in replacing and reviving the line that will allow me to attach Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner to a pipe in the wall, instead of having him occupy the skimmer inlet. This means that as leaves and flowers are blown into the pool and settle on the water’s surface, most of them will be sucked into the skimmer basket rather than falling to the bottom to be vacuumed up and inhaled into the filter. And that means the filter will stay cleaner a LOT longer and will run a LOT better.

In the course of chatting, I remarked to one of the men that I consider the pool very easy to care for. He said this will make it even easier to take care of. Most of the time, all I’ll have to do is keep the chemicals balanced.

Now that is an amazing concept.

Here’s how the giant bathtub looks at this stage:

And here’s how the not-yet-deceased damn-near-choked-to-death puppy looks just now…