Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On a Pool Cover Part 1

We opened our backyard swimming pool for "business" this past weekend.

"Opening" our pool involves removing the pool cover, un-winterizing and starting up the pool pump, vacuuming the pool, and messing with the water itself (balancing the pH, adjusting chlorine levels and other items.)

Easy enough.

Other than the pool cover.

And removing and storing the pool cover isn't difficult per se, but the process is, well, awkward. It is one of those things that must be done, but I am not at all graceful in doing it. I've yet to contrive even a mediocre method of getting the cover off the pool and then cleaning, drying and folding/ rolling/ origamiing the cover into a package and ultimately putting it away for the season.

Getting the cover off the pool is OK - one advantage of a large number of children.

Cleaning the cover goes well - the beauty of a pressure washer.

And after it has dried I can fold the cover well enough.

But getting in and between these items, especially the drying part, is a lesson in how to provide endless humor to the rest of your family.

My wife's face should be photographed each year as she listens to my broken half sentence explanations of how I am going to "do" the pool cover each year. The resulting collage of pictures could be titled, "Studies in Incredulity" and subtitled "You are going to do What?"

Our pool cover is very good at covering the pool. But it doesn't fit well anywhere other than on top of the pool. It is large and heavy (a thick polyester type material reinforced with heavy nylon webbing.) And unless an experiment on mass mildew growing techniques is desired, the cover can't be folded and stored immediately after being taken off the pool, it must be cleaned and dried first. And to dry it needs to be somewhat up in the air. That is the trick: the entire pool cover held up in the air so all that all surfaces can dry.

This is my problem.

Did I mention the cover is heavy and large?

Each year of the cover's three year existence has seen a different method of solving this problem:

Year One, or "the Year of the Chairs:"

I scientifically arrayed several plastic 'outdoor' chairs along with six chairs from our patio set and miscellaneous items from my children's outdoor toy collection in an area of yard roughly the size of the pool cover. The idea was for the pool cover to dry, laying on top of my precisely engineered array of junk. After which I would remove the chairs, fold up the cover and store it away. Sounded good to me.

The cover is heavy...

We detached the cover from the pool, and quickly found out that one middle aged guy along with his beautiful wife and children did not have nearly the horsepower required to lift the cover up over and then set the cover down onto my array of chairs.

The best we could manage was to drag the cover off the pool, across the yard and then pull the front edge over and then onto the chair array. This study in gravity and friction toppled all the plastic chairs and toys and most of the patio chairs, dragging them along as we moved the cover into place.

I ended up hunched under the cover frantically resetting all the chairs and simultaneously transferring the wet sand and dirt the cover had acquired from the yard into my head and back.

When I was "done" the cover was suspended over the yard by my collection, except where it wasn't. The cover draping itself over my array of large bric-a-brac looked something like an upside down egg carton.

Washing it in this condition was a unintended experiment in how to form and drain mountain lakes and rivers. I was constantly pulling here or tugging there to try to drain the lakes and dry up the rivers. Eventually the cover was dry and I pulled my support structure out from under the cover and folded it up and heaved it onto a shelf in our shed.

Year Two, or "the Year of Spider Man:"

The spring of that year saw my dad and I build a sorely needed chain link fence around the pool.

Remembering the previous year's folly, I decided to not attempt to wash and dry the cover over the yard but instead to utilize the new fence and some rope to suspend the cover several feet above the pool itself. It made so much sense to me: I would be conserving space, not taking up any of the yard, and the pool is exactly the right size space for the pool cover. Explaining this particular scheme to my wife got (far and away) the academy award for "Best Utter Disbelief Facial Expression by a Person in a Supporting Role."

Also, in a flash of brilliance, I realized that I could wash the cover while it was still on the pool, rather than waiting until I removed the cover. Out came the pressure washer and the pool broom. In short order the cover top was clean.

Now to the lifting of the cover. The pool cover has a series of nylon webbing straps terminated with metal rings to secure the cover over the pool during the winter (picture a fat, flattened, dark green centepede with twenty or so short black legs.) I fastened a clothesline rope to a post in the fence. I then ran the rope through the cover's nearest nylon strap ring. Proceeding down the pool deck, I ran the rope around the pool fence top bar and then through the next ring in the cover. I wove a rope web between the pool cover and the fence. Every four or five loops I would terminate the rope at a fence post and start with a new rope. At the end of each rope I rigged two metal snap rings to form a rude pulley setup to aid in the lifting of the cover.

With my web woven, I worked my way around the pool deck (ducking in and around my web, tightening the rope pulleys. And roughly, slowly it worked! Gradually I had my entire pool cover suspended (yes, in the air!) above the pool. Although slightly droopy in the middle, the entire cover could now dry and not use up any of the yard, chairs, toys or anything! This was great!

And then my wife asked the (obvious) question: "So... how are you getting it off there?"


Sharon said...

I can't wait for Part 2. How DID you get it off your contraption?


Anna Naomi said...

This is funny! You have the great ability to turn seemingly ordinary events into hilarious stories! I'm eagerly awaiting part 2! Way too leave us on a cliff-hanger... ;-)

Teresa said...

What a sight this must be Rob. Perhaps you could plan a party with bigger people to assist you!

Rob said...

If I would actually take the time to plan (ahead) not just doing it on the fly I am sure it would make a big difference (but not nearly as good of a story.).. But having a pool cover party... Hmmm cream... Hmmmm ... The idea has merit.