Friday, March 16, 2018

Our 127 Hours were a little Different

Our journey to a sparkling clean pool began on Thursday March 8, 2018 at approximately 6 in the evening. As I type this sentence, our journey comes to a close, on Wednesday March 14, 2018 at approximately 3 in the afternoon.

Six days at twenty-four hours a day is 144 hours.

Back out the three hours today (shy of twenty-four), six random hours (turned off for showers and laundry), eight hours last night (turned off to avoid overflow), and eight hours on Saturday night.

That one was due to fear. But I’ll get back to that in a minute (in the pictures).

We paused on suck and/or flow for a total of twenty-five hours. Meaning, this watery experience lasted us just under five full days of commitment to liquid. Or, 119 hours.

And, may I just say, I’m glad we only have to do this activity every five or so years.

It all started on the day we moved into the house, just shy of six years ago. Our house was a short sale and, sadly, the gal who owned it before we got here wasn’t in the best financial shape. So the pool was an interesting shade of greenish from day one.

We cleaned it up, shocked the water, got all the chemicals balanced, brushed religiously, replaced the burned out pump, changed the filter sand, did all the things a person needs to do to keep their pool in proper working order.

Why, many of you might be asking, would we want to deal with all of that maintenance?

Uh, have you seen the temperatures in Phoenix? We try to swim as much as possible from April to October. It’s the one thing neither of us would compromise on when buying a house. And we sacrifice on other things to make sure we can afford to have that place of respite.

That is, until a couple years ago. No matter what we seemed to add, subtract, or do to the pool, Matt just couldn’t get the chemical balance to maintain.

Ph too high. Too low. Chlorine off the charts. Something green this way grows.

It sucked, but we had other priorities for projects to complete inside anyway. So, we did the best we could to keep it not green, but swimming wasn’t as high a priority.

Matt started tossing out the phrase “our water has gone bad.” Then everyone seemed to agree, “bad water” is in fact a thing.

That, here in the desert, we have to “change” our water every few years. Chemicals don’t do the job anymore. You know, because of the dissolved solids.

Dissolved solids? That’s a freaking oxymoron.

Needless to say, I was skeptical.

I argued, if water evaporates and we then refill the pool a few inches at a time won’t the new water eventually entirely replace the “bad water” that floated off into the ether?

In short, yes. But it still doesn’t matter. Because of those dissolved solids.

See, we have extraordinarily hard water here in Arizona. That water, even filtered contains a whole bunch of crap like calcium, magnesium, salt, and other stuff that sort of dissolves. The thing about those solids though, they never evaporate.

They’re heavier than water so they stick around after the water is gone.

So, for example, after a snowstorm, rock salt might be used to melt the remaining snow and ice after shoveling or plowing. That stuff will leave a ring of salt once the water dries up. Now, picture that ring in a 23,000 gallon pool with water that has probably evaporated and been replaced for at least ten years. Likely more.

All that sediment attaches to the pebble walls and even the best vacuum in the world won’t make a difference. The filter only traps so much. And those particles are nano.


Dissolved solids.

Oxy. Moron.

Me, I’m the moron. In case that wasn’t clear.

Because, Matt had been trying to tell me why we needed to drain, clean, and refill the pool with fresh water for about three years.

But I’m cheap and didn’t want to spend the money to drain and refill.

But he’s not a magician and was pretty sick of trying to keep unbalanceable pool chemicals balanced.

Hence, the 119 hours.

Now, I feel like the pictures tell the whole story better than I really can, but I need to preface that portion with a disclaimer. No. This did not happen in one day despite the fact Matt is wearing the same clothes in every picture. Which I mentioned on the final day and chuckled.

His exact response was, “It’s a work outfit.”

And work he did.

The only part I didn’t capture on film was trying to replace the underwater light (which still doesn’t work unfortunately) because that took both of our strength. Mine, physical and with two hands. Matt’s, physical as well as the last shred of his mental concentration for this project.

Light got installed and the filling began.

Here’s my photos. Enjoy. Because we will not do this again anytime soon. If we can help it.

This all started back in January with the rebuilding of the equipment surround.

Matt hard at work leveling the new post.

Last board goes up.

Posts cut to length. I designed, we shopped, Matt installed. Go team!

It begins...6:15PM Thursday

Friday morning around 8AM. Keep in mind how little it drained overnight.

Noon...light almost exposed.

Friday around 6PM...24 hours in and the light is finally free. Also, note how little drained in 10 hours.

Right before bed and we can finally stand in the empty shallow end. Yea!
Hmm, seeing as how little drained we should turn it off overnight, right?
It'll DEFINITELY finish in a few hours tomorrow morning. Right?

Saturday around 3PM. Oh Phoenix, you and your rain. You thought you'd kill our spirit. Ha!

Saturday around 11PM...finally done.
About 16 hours after we turned the pump back on in the morning.
Gee, good thing we turned it off overnight.
All joking aside, timing worked out perfectly for cleaning Sunday.

Sunday just before lunch...first time my feet have ever touched the bottom of the deep end!

Getting going on power washing after lunch.

Final step. (Sadly, it popped the breaker after refilling so we shut it off to figure out another time.)

Sunday 6PM...Shons, start your refill!

First dissolved-solid-lite water!

8AM Mon...overnight success!

Noon Monday...Look at that water color! So Psyched!

Tuesday around 9PM...Shutting down for the night.

Wednesday about 3:05...done!

I mean, look at that WATER COLOR!
All we need now are fruity drinks and about 20 degrees warmer water.
Matt was right all along. And I'm woman enough to admit that.

Come back in a couple weeks to see what I worked on inside while Matt took our pool game to a whole new level.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Defending an Entertainer’s Right to run their Mouth

This past weekend we tucked into the sofa with dinner and Oscar. It’s my favorite time of year, awards season!

Only, something seems different now. When I was younger, awards shows were the thing to watch. To talk about at work the next day. To obsess over for weeks leading up to the air date. Salivating to see what the ladies would wear, who would win best picture or album of the year.

And then, there seemed to be a collective flip of the switch in the eyes of the public.

Suddenly it wasn’t cool to care about movie, pop stars, athletes anymore. Winning an award or trophy just proved the person in question had sold out. Got too big for their britches or something. Commercial success and celebrity weren’t revered. Weren’t something to strive toward. They were put on blast. As were the things said star vocalized when they won said award.

Don’t forget to thank the voting body. Ugh, his stupid speech went on forever. Please, she didn’t deserve that award. Just shut up and dance for us, monkey. Throw the ball. Pretend to be in love for the camera.

Oh, but don’t do it like that.

It’s even worse if the star in question happened to use their acceptance speech as a way to further a message. Any message. Be perfect. Be what everyone wants or doesn’t want you to be.

Just don’t do it like that.

At some point the collective decided that entertainers weren’t people with thoughts, feelings, a life outside of their job. That it was okay for the rest of us to have opinions, support causes, speak out about or against anything we want, but the moment a star did the same they were an overpaid moron who should keep their mouths shut unless they were delivering lines.

Um, I get it that stars make the big bucks but there are plenty of professions that produce a host of rich, visible people and I don’t see daily flogging of them for speaking their mind, supporting a charity, whatever. Using their platform to reach a wide audience.

So I can’t help but ask, why do we marginalize awards shows and the people involved?

I’m seriously asking that question because I’m an entertainer of a sort and as of yet I haven’t been told by a random stranger on the internet to keep my fat mouth shut because of my personal opinion that they don’t agree with. Operative word, yet.

But, then, I’m basically a nobody so I’m still entitled to an opinion. Right? Isn’t that the only way to know you have really arrived these days anyway? When the world clamors to be involved in everything you do but rejects everything you say?

As far as I’m concerned, entertainment is the thing that keeps us enjoying a tiny speck of sanity in a world filled with chaos. Escape. That’s why I listen to music, watch movies, sports. Why I write fiction. So maybe someone out there who feels like me can get a minute or two of diversion from the cruel reality by reading something I wrote.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to say things other than what my work is about. Does it?

True, like I said, I’m not a big known entertainer so I guess I can’t really speak to what that means. But I know for 100% fact that, no matter how widely my name is known (or not), I will never please all the people. I won’t intentionally belittle anyone, marginalize anyone, but there’s no doubt someone out there could take offense to something I believe when I say/write it out loud.

And then that’s where the public will focus their flame thrower.

Belittling. Begrudging. Judging. Trying to take away my voice.

Movie stars are people, CEOs are people, athletes are people, artists are people. And this country affords all of us equal opportunity to speak our minds. Some people hate that other people have a voice so they use their own to tear the first person down. Aren't we all entitled to a moment of escape?

I believe the answer is yes. I better. Otherwise, I picked the wrong career.

I have aspirations to reach a larger audience with my work, and fully support other weirdos like me who strive for the same thing. Which is why I love watching awards shows, whether for sports, music, movies. Those people worked their fricking asses off to reach that level. And I don’t see anything wrong with them having an opinion in addition to a trophy.

Seriously, who cares? I don’t agree with everything a celebrity type says, align with all of their messages, but definitely don’t begrudge them using their voice.

Their voice.

The one thing they stayed true to that got them to where they are is the very thing we seem to crucify them for having once they get there.

Well, I don’t care what the public at large has to say about awards shows. I’ll watch and be super excited about all of the outfits, performances, displays of personal opinions because I refuse to be an entertainer who tears down other entertainers just because they reached a higher level of success than me.

And, if I get what I really dream of, one day I might even join some of them, walking in a fancy dress on a red carpet. Of course, I’m only a writer. It’s unlikely anyone will even notice me on that carpet. Nobody talks about writers.


• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Fall Back

Another Friday, another week that flew by way too fast. Right now, I’m standing in the office in the middle of the day, trying to come up with something creative to write about. Again.

Actually, most of my creative pursuits have felt stagnant for the entire beginning to this year. It isn’t just about this blog. Books, articles, press, are all feeling forced.

I don’t get it really. Coming off the three-book and NaNoWriMo wins of 2017, I looked forward to making 2018 my bitch, too.

But I’m soooooooooooo feeling like an angsty teen.

I don’t wanna. Pout.

Then the adult inside says I better get with the program because words don’t write themselves.

So, instead of stressing and rambling on like this for 800 words, I’m giving myself a mini-pass this week. I’ll get a blog out of a meme I saw floating around Facebook a few months ago.

This is what I do here. Sometimes you get deep, dark, light, breezy, life, career updates that I spend two days writing, sourcing images for, and editing. Crafted, creative non-fiction that reads like I wrote it in two minutes.

Sometimes you get a meme I copied and pasted into a notepad on my phone knowing I’d have at least one week this year I just wasn’t feeling a blog. (Despite my commitment to write every week, I know me way better than that.)

See? I’m so damn proactive I even plan for my desire for a total lack of adulting.

Without further ado…

1. Do you make your bed every day?
I make my bed, max, once a month. Matt usually makes it even though he’s not the one home all day.

2. What's your favorite number?
11 (No, this is not because of Stranger Things, I have loved the number since I was at least 11 years old.)

3. What is your job title?
Collector of information from the world at large, or, 10 times published author.

4. If you could, would you go back to school?
Tried college 3 times already, still haven’t finished, don’t plan to, so, no. And, if they mean any school year prior to college, then that’s a hell no. I'm not Billy Madison.

5. Can you parallel park?
When I worked in Somerville/Cambridge the city required us to move our cars every 2 hours or get a ticket. I had to parallel park for 2+ years, 5 days a week, at least 4 times a day. I can parallel park in my sleep.

6. Name a job you had which people would be shocked to know you had.
Back up dancer for JLo. It isn't true, but I bet some of you were shocked!

7. Do you think aliens exist?
Of course otherwise the universe is just a sad joke.

8. Can you drive a stick shift?
No. Let's just leave it at that.

9. Guilty pleasure?
None. Because I don't feel guilty about the things I like. Loud and proud baby!

10. Favorite childhood game?
Pushing the boundaries of my family's patience.

11. Do you talk to yourself?
All the time, I work alone at home I mean...

12. Do you like doing puzzles?
No. Word, piece, or otherwise I'm not a fan.

13. Favorite music?
Yes. All of it. Generally something with lyrics but I pretty much love all styles. Though my true love is rock.

14. Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning. Tea usually only when I’m sick.

15. First thing you remember you wanted to be when you grew up?
The person who drives the street sweeper. Seriously. I thought that looked like the coolest job in the world.

16. Favorite Season?
Summer. But ask me again in August.

17. Truck or Car?
I have a small, square car but I have always wanted a big, bad-ass, black truck with chrome roll-bars, lights, and tinted windows. #environmentaldisaster

18. Steak or salad?
Yes, and can I get a bowl of blue cheese on the side?

19. Cat or dog?
No. Too much responsibility. I can barely manage to write a blog post every Friday. No chance I could handle the needs of another living thing.

20. The most influential person from your childhood?
My Creative Writing teacher, senior year of high school, who first insisted I publish something I'd written.

21. Crafty or all thumbs?
Depends on the day and the craft in question.

22. Biggest fear?
Becoming rich and famous. The good news is, I hear the best way to overcome your fears is to face them...

23. Pessimist or optimist?
Depends on the day and the situation. I like to look for silver linings but sometimes shit is just fucked.

24. Favorite Holiday?
My birthday. What? You didn’t say it had to be a national/international holiday.

25. Mountains or Ocean?
Ocean. The fact I'm not there right now (read: All. The. Time.) makes me sad.

26. People person?
Studying them for future character development, yes. Interacting with them in the larger sense, usually no. There are people I love and cherish and I actually enjoy meeting new people. But “people” are the ones taking the Tide Pod and hot coil challenge too so take that for what it’s worth.

27. White, Milk or Dark chocolate?
The darker the better.

28. Do you like to cook?
Ah hahahaha! I like to eat but loathe cooking.

29. Night owl or morning person?
Ugh, my natural clock leans toward night but I've been conditioned to a corporate clock over the years. Still, never a morning person. See question 14 for how I get around this.

30. Flannel sheets in winter?
Flannel, no. Too static-y. T-shirt material, yes. All year.

Hey, if nothing else, at least the thing was fun. For me, anyway.

And I promise I’ll be back next week with something of a little more substance.

Or not. Writers are weird like that.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.