The primordial ooze of summer fun

How many of us have considered taking the cheap route when it comes to a purchase? From simple household items like kitchen towels to major investments like furniture, electronics and (in my case) swimming pools; it is only logical, particularly at the moment, to try and save a buck.

Some of you may have read a previous tale of mine about the fun to be had in one’s backyard. You remember that I had mentioned an above-ground pool of which I was so proud? Little did we know of the folly that would follow…

Before buying this item, I had conducted a great deal of research on the Internet and there seemed to be overwhelmingly positive reviews about the model I was considering. It was nearly 98 per cent cheaper than an in-ground version and would take infinitely less time to set up and enjoy. Both pros were appealing, and so as we all know I handed over the money and within a few days I had a sparkling 3ft deep, 18ft wide beauty sitting ‘neath the Caribbean sun.

For the next week I was in that pool every day the minute I got home from work. I splashed, I cavorted, I cared not that my translucently white thighs were visible as there was no one to see them sticking out of my swimsuit circa 1986. Questions flooded my noggin. Why had I not considered this years before? Why would ANYONE buy “the real thing” when this was clearly perfect? So what if diving in from the ladder would crush my spine like an accordion? In the past I had been a fool living a pool-less life and now I saw what I had been missing.

The first important thing to know about the above is that unlike any woman in a Jackie Collins’ masterpiece, I did not have a pool boy. This meant having to keep a slew of chemicals on hand at all times, along with dipsticks reminiscent of Chemistry class in school days gone by and being ever-vigilant with the included vacuum. Every few days I had to measure chlorine and pH levels to make sure that everything was in correct balance so we wouldn’t have a visit from Mr. Algae. I had read horror stories online about those who had neglected their chlorine tab floatie, only to be greeted with dirty water within days. As each morning I looked out upon my clear, inviting marvel, I chortled at how simple it all was and how incapable a person would have to be to encounter any difficulties with such a thing.

The tides turned when I was going on vacation for a week about six weeks ago. I had seen something on the floor of the pool, but chalked it up to bits of leaf, which it collected on a daily basis. At the same time the inflatable ring around the top was looking a little depressed. I tried to cheer it up with a merry dance, but it made no difference, so instead I got my battery-powered pump and fed it some air. In moments it was back to its robust self and I went on with my day. That evening I noticed that the dimples in the material had already returned, indicating a loss of pressure, and there was a bit more of that stuff on the bottom. Hmmm…I had run out of floatie tablets a couple of days ago and had not managed to get around to purchasing more, but I was still being pretty good about adding other powders from time to time. Surely it couldn’t make that big a difference?

I had to fly out upon the morrow and visiting the pool supplies place was bottom of my list behind buying foreign currency and laundering bras. I was only going away until next weekend. I would deal with it upon my return.

After seven days in Toronto I was home again. I put down my suitcases, donned my flip-flops and went straight out the back doors to survey a dark green murky mass of water lurking beneath a now sorrowful looking ring with barely a breath of air in it. It could have been a thousand feet deep for all the visibility I had now and a collection of dead bees were floating along the top just to complete the picture.

Thus began the battle of Vicki vs. Pool. I’ll end the suspense by telling you right now that despite numerous circuits around the rim armed with a spray bottle full of soapy water, labouring under that unforgiving orb of fire in the sky, I have still to this day not discovered the leak in that &%$#*@ inflatable ring. I didn’t think the ring was that important until I realized that it served two valuable purposes. 1) It kept the water from spilling over in grouped gallons onto the lawn; and 2) It neatly held the filter skimmer in place which gathered debris and stopped it from clogging up the works. We were re-inflating the ring in six-hourly shifts, but once all had gone to bed the skimmer would inevitably lift out of the water, punctuating the night with loud sucking sounds as the filter pump struggled to survive, suddenly choking on large air pockets flying down the tubes.

The automatic skimmer was discarded, which meant being constantly on guard with the manual one. I was on a first name basis with the staff at Pool Patrol as I upped my weekly visits, purchasing enough chlorine shock to take the first layer of skin off anyone who might try to take a dip in the experiment being conducted at the back of the house. I washed the filter every morning and afternoon and then started to introduce algaecide into the mix. Keeping a baby bird alive was less work. It was in this period that my constant boasts about how cheap this pool had been were forever silenced. A fun addition to the property became an obsession and friends quietly backed away from the mad scientist who was running around in my clothes sporting a perpetual sunburn.

Finally, after nearly three weeks of cleaning, mixing and testing, we began to see definite improvements. The fake tiling at the bottom of the pool was more apparent and nearly all the green was gone. All in all it took about four weeks to go from gunge to glorious and I emerged an expert in pool maintenance.

We still have to re-inflate the ring every two-to-three days, but that’s fine for now. I’ll search for the leak again once the summer is over and I drain the water. In the meantime we are back to having a sparkling clean oasis that we’ve used once since I threw a fortune into it to bring it back to life.

Yessir…I bought myself a deal.