Singing Birds and Vibrating Pockets

I stood near the pond this morning.  

Feet firmly planted on the ground, I had my morning meal.

Sharing a spoonful of oatmeal and peaches with my faithful sidekick, I watched as shadow and light painted its way across the pond.  Breezes hadn’t started yet, but there were waves on the surface.  Dragonflies hovered in for a drink and disturbed the millpond stillness of the morning creating ripples that echoed their presence on the surface of the otherwise still water.

In the distance floated a small bird, also still, also hardly moving.   It kept a still eye pointed at me watching me in my morning repast.

The birds sang over top of the distant sounds.  Their chattering accompanying the tapestry of the scene, enhancing the beauty of the morning.

On the ground there were small lizards warming themselves, recharging for their day.  Soon they would leave their station in the sun, sliding down leaves of the pineapple plant, leaping to the ground, and going on their business of creating and losing territory and dining on choice bits of insect life.

The gentle breezes were almost still at this time of day.  There was just enough wind to make the magenta and pink blossoms of the paper thin bougainvillea nod their heads in acquaintance, accepting you into their beauty and their presence.

This was framed by the thick tropical foliage around the small pond, deep greens offset by the scent of jasmine coming from their almost zinc oxide whiteness capturing the sun of the early morning.

The hustle and bustle of the semi-urban life seemingly brushed away by the chattering of the song birds came rushing in with one motion.   I shifted to lean on my right leg when I noticed that there was a vibrating in my pocket.  Reaching in I found the old phone that was sending off an alarm, this was the cause of the singing birds, and the vibration was the alarm clock on the phone that I just couldn’t bear to turn off.

Reverie broken, I readjusted my headphones to make sure that the noise canceling was turned on.  The amigos from Quintana Roo were next door with their blowers again, and I stepped away from the Kitchen window where my day dream was ended.  No longer standing by a tropical pond, I was instantly transported back to my house, in front of the kitchen sink, in the middle of 100 miles of human habitation.

But for a brief moment, all was peaceful, all was full of nature, and full of song birds and beauty.  I guess I really should cancel that alarm clock.

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Rack Meets The Pool

Having a swimming pool in the back yard, there’s one thing you have to consider.  Your Dog.

In my case, there’s an in-ground pool that has a deep end that I’ve been told is much more than usual these days.  More than my own 6’4″, it demands respect.

Since I have a dog, it is time to consider just how well he can swim.  The only way to find out is to get him in there.

Here’s the rub – some dogs love water and some hate it.  Mine seems indifferent to it.

But you do need to get him in there.

Now you can get your dog in the pool in many ways, the stereotype of a Labrador Retriever Puppy jumping in on their own is a stereotype for a reason.  On the other hand, a Bulldog might just sink like a stone.

The main thing is that you have to supervise them.  Letting your dog out in a back yard with a pool or a creek or some sort of water with you standing inside the house, well that’s simply stupid.

Our first time with Rack in the back yard had him walk out the door, sniff the pool, then walk away to the palm tree and lay down.  He claimed that as His Spot.

Great.  I’m safer knowing that he’s not going to dive in and I’ll have to perform CPR on a puppy.

Yes, I’m trained.
No, I prefer not to use my training.

We let that ride for a while.  Rack gained his curiosity and his confidence but never stepped in the pool.

Finally the wet season hit us as well as the normal Florida Warmth in early summer.   The pool water is a toasty 86 and I took the opportunity to do a little cool down after pulling some weeds.

My one neighbor thinks Virginia Creepers are pretty.  I disagree since they end up covering my hedges like a blanket.

After filling one trash can and making a dent in the second I got out of my shoes and T Shirt and “Accidentally Fell Into The Pool”.

Rack seemed intrigued but didn’t really want to take the step.  Fortunately I had some jerky treats that we put into a bowl and took out for this little plan.

Between my being in the pool and his own curiosity I was able to get in to stand over the water and get a snack.

Still I didn’t pull him in.   I didn’t want to make this a traumatic experience for him.   It took me about another 20 minutes until I realized that he had wandered to the fence and found a T Bone from the dog next door.

Not knowing how nasty that might be, I walked over and took the bone from him while lifting him up.  It was time, and I had the excuse.

Dropping the bone in the trash, I stepped into the shallow end.  Rack had no idea what was up, but didn’t like the idea of being in the pool.  I didn’t think he would.

He stood on my legs and acted fearful, which wasn’t a shock.  After all, he was known as The Shy Dog when I got him from The Dog Liberator almost three months ago.

But…

He didn’t completely freak out.

Knowing that this was going to be stressful, I didn’t keep him in the pool for long.  I moved, he slipped, and ended fully in the water.  That lasted all of about 15 seconds until he got his purchase and walked out of the pool using the steps.

I learned a couple things.

First, he can swim so the pressure is off.
Second, while this can be stressful to the dog, it needs to happen, eventually, and gently.
Third, slow and steady wins the race.  It happened so it doesn’t have to happen Every Single Day.  That could be a way to make a dog into a cowering mess if they’re not ready.

The most important thing is to do it gently and let the dog guide you with how much they are able to take.  Use treats to get them curious enough to get close.  Don’t let your own pride get in the way causing you to make a mistake and force the critter into the water.  After all, this is an initiation rite – they may actually enjoy it.

Finally, if they just hate the water, you have to learn to accept that and regroup.  It could be that you approached the process with the idea that you are going to force the dog into the pool – that’s absolutely the wrong idea.  They can read your energy better than you can in many cases. 

The process for me took 20 minutes of my dawdling and bobbing around in the full sun of the South Florida Afternoon.  Another 10 minutes and it was over and done with for the day.  But we’re safe.  He can swim so I won’t have a bad accident on my hands if I’m in the kitchen and my attention strays to what I’m making on the stove.

Besides, he’d much rather sit under that palm tree looking content like this.

Sea Monster in the Back Yard

Standing at the sink, stirring the coffee, and munching on a sesame bagel with cream cheese and lemon curd, I caught movement out of my left eye.

Seeing that I forgot and left the reading glasses on, I dismissed it. 

30 seconds later, I saw it again.  Air bubbles in the swimming pool.

It’s periodic.   It’s the breathing of the sea monster that lives out there. 

After finishing the other half of that bagel, I walked out, coffee in hand to the yard.  There are creatures out there.  At night it can be a constellation of little shiny eyes looking back at you wanting you to leave so they can go about their business.  They seem to dislike our presence out there after dark.  The snakes have gone to hide, lizards are sleeping in crevasses and have chased the geckos out for their night feed, and the raccoons and opossums may just be lurking.

So of course the first thing that came to mind is that we have a Sea Monster in the pool.  What else would there be?  Giant Green Monster of doom floating out there just below the surface ready to attack passers by.  It could be an iguana in that 72 degree winter chilled water, or maybe not.

As I stepped outside I realized that my headphones were still on playing some gentle “Uplifting Trance” tracks when it was interrupted by Joanna Lumley saying “You’ve got Post!”. 

Removing the headphones I realized that what sounds that replaced it was the usual background drone of life in the big city, and the filter pump for the pool.   It was on its normal morning cycle, and there was air in the lines. 

My Sea Monster was vanquished and I’ll have to remind someone to inspect the equipment.

Here I was hoping for some Sea Monster Brazed on the Grill for lunch, I guess I’ll settle for fish and chips instead!

Dry Pool Work Done

I guess you would call this the Reveal if you were watching this on HGTV. 

The work took two solid days and two men were in the pool all day yesterday.  There was no rain and it was a typically hot late spring day here in South Florida.   This picture was taken at 4pm, well after the heat of the day was done, and you can see how intense the sun was by the corner of the picture.  That isn’t white, that’s the pool.  

I went down into the dry pool to inspect their work and literally came out blinded when I went back into the house after 10 minutes out there.   It took about 15 minutes for my eyes to readjust to the indoor “gloom”.

But that having been said, they did an excellent job.  I’ll find out just exactly how well they did it by watching the water levels when the pool is filled, of course, but it looked complete. 

We were left with a pool with three of these Frankenstein’s Monster’s Scars through it.  They dug it out, put in 39 staples made out of rebar, epoxied them into place, then covered it with Gunite and some Diamondbrite.   This morning it isn’t terribly obvious that the patches are there since they did an excellent job of matching the colors. 

I can’t imagine doing this sort of job as a DIY Project.   Yes, it seems simple, but the sheer amount of work that they went through was punishing.  We will have to fill the pool over the weekend once we take a measurement of how much water we have used already, so we can estimate how much it will take to fill.  I’ve heard it is 22,000 gallons of water. 

Constance is probably right, a green back yard full of native flowers, trees, and butterflies is more ecologically sound, but when we go to sell this house in a couple decades, the next snowbirds who buy it will expect a pool. 

Just don’t fill it with ground water.   Too much iron in the water.

Rough Seas in a Pool

Monday Morning we had a line of storms come through the county. 

Starting at 8am until it passed there were a series of warnings sounded on the weather radio for Broward County.  This all struck me as somewhat on the dramatic side.  I come from an area where a big deal was when a line of thunderstorms would come through and you may have a bit of a need to go indoors until it passed.   Say what you will about the Philadelphia Area Weather, but it was much more gentle.

As I am sitting here going through the job boards and all the postings for Business Analyst, Sr Business Analyst, Project Manager, IT Manager, and anything else that my very broad resume may fit, I’m also hearing first a Tornado Warning, then a Marine Warning, and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning sound in the span of an hour and a half.

Not too much you can do about that, I’m indoors, the Satellite radio is playing Haydn and other classical favourites, and the power is still on so I can make coffee if I should want. 

The second warning, that Marine Warning got me to thinking.   I haven’t been on a boat in a very long time, so I’m not terribly knowledgeable about what that would do to a person out in it.  I’ll stay on Terra Semi Firma and try to keep my feet dry.  As that rain started to fall and the dog got very unnerved I was thinking about when I was a kid in South Jersey.  My sister and I had a pool in the back yard.  Four Feet Deep so nobody would get in over their head, smooth vinyl bottom so your feet wouldn’t be sanded down by rough concrete, we would have many hours floating about like children would.   I remember one day we got silly though.   My sister Pat and I were having a particularly good time of it in the pool and I had a large two man raft in there with us.  We learned that if we filled that raft up with water, it would still float but get warm and comfortable but very heavy.   Once in a while we’d do that because it takes a lot of time with children’s hands to fill up that volume. 

On the other hand just moving in the raft even a little bit would mean it would rock in the pool.  We thought that was particularly fun one day and after we got through jumping in the pool very close to the raft when the other was in it, we hit upon “Rough Seas”.  My sister liked to sit in the raft and get me to do Rough Seas once in a while which consisted of my pushing down on one side of the raft so that she’d be leaning to one side, but not so much as to flip her and then letting go.  All the while chanting in a bizarre voice “Rough Seas…. Rough Seas…”.  After a few pushes we could let the pool do it’s work because it would set up waves and she’d be rocking.   Since I was quite a bit larger, I didn’t get much of a chance to be in the boat rocking about, but I did get it enough to find out what it was like. 

Somehow I think that it wouldn’t be quite as fun if you were stuck out off the coast in this slop that is falling from the sky Monday morning, but I can hope that all will be well for those out there.

May your Rough Seas only be on a float in the pool and a safe harbour is only as far as standing up in the shallow end.