Square One (Fill 'Er Up)

"Your pool is turning brown."

This was from Stacy, the neighbor who volunteered to babysit it while we were in Hartford.

(Yes, our pools need babysitters, like the twins.)

He sounded this alarm by email near the end of our trip. And he wasn't kidding.

We arrived home from Connecticut to a very brown pool. The "whys" of this are complicated and not entirely clear. The "what next" took its own funny road. For those readers who have accused me of being too negative in these blogs, all I can say is you can't make this stuff up. The carnival that is Paradise goes on.

Mike spent our first afternoon home trying to rebalance the pool's chemicals. He added acid, subtracted bases, added water. Then we called it a day and resolved to try again manana.

The next morning Mike's first words to me were: "We have a new problem."

I took a deep breath and cursed. Why get out of bed at all. With our track record, it could be anything: leaking ceilings, water shortages, dog bites, malaria, flooding, power outages, flat tires, scorpions, tarantulas, hurricane-force winds, running out of diapers.

But this was a surprise problem: our pool was nearly empty. While we were sleeping, it had drained itself.

We were back to Square One. Our beautiful infinity pool no longer spilled silkily into the Caribbean horizon. It hadn't been an easy ride to get there, either. The pool's first "fill" was last year's Christmas present, occuring on December 23rd. It took 20 Honduran men working from 8am til nearly one the next morning to paint the final coat of concrete and sealer onto the pool's surface. Somewhere around midnight we served them Hawaiian Punch as a thank-you for the long day, and then we went to bed, with all these guys still prepping our pool. It took two more days to fill it up with water. And from then on, constant care and feeding.

So here are again, almost a year later, re-filling the pool. It would've been nice if this were a self-correcting problem; that is, that the water was back to being crystal clear blue. But it's rushing back in brown, a result of the high mineral content in the well water.

Actually, at this point, it's a greenish shade, thanks to Mike's sweeping and backwashing and chemical potions. He walks around with a plastic test kit full of vials that he mixes mysteriously and dumps in every few hours. Seems to be working, but every once in a while he confesses he has absolutely no idea what he's doing.

So we've concluded that pools are a heck of a lot of work and subject to their own tantrums. Just like our toddlers, who, by the way, can't understand why we haven't gone swimming this week.