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Another suburban rite of passage

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Not wanting to endure the brain-cooking heat that is summer in Pemberton, we finally bit the bullet. The bullet is a 5,634-gallon bag of water known as the Dolfino Simple-Set pool. Unlike the backyard pools of old, the Simple-Set requires a patch of level ground and a mere 10 minutes to set-up, or so the instructional video had us believe.

Every summer, the Spousal Equivalent and I have the pool discussion, quickly dismissing the idea because of either cost, maintenance hassles or liability issues. However, this year’s first scorcher coincided with the first day of school vacation. Neither the threat of big bills, lost hours nor neighbours’ lawsuits seemed as horrible as having to referee two, hot, lethargic kids devoted to unhinging one other.

We pulled out the laptop and started shopping. There it was: 16’ in diameter and 42" high and on sale for the low, low price of $299. Giddy with anticipation, images of inflatable loungers with built-in beverage holders dancing in our heads, we pressed the "order" key. It was $200 to ship 50 miles!

The next morning I called the store where the Dolfino was waiting to inquire about its shipping weight and box size. Three phone calls later it was determined that said product could not be found in the warehouse, but probably weighed "between 150 and 180 pounds" and was shipped "in a medium-sized box". I called SE to voice my disappointment, as well as my suspicion that the clerk was probably surreptitiously playing on his GameBoy instead of checking the stockroom.

One call to the store’s manger and SE was on her way to pick up a bigger pool at a better price. That evening we admired the box with the picture of nine happy people frolicking in more than 20,000 litres of water. Soon we would be those happy people!

Installation day began with the challenge of finding that crucial patch of level ground. From the highest to the lowest point of anticipated aquatic area, there was a differential of nearly a foot – or six inches –depending on whom you asked.

After discussing physics theories half-learned 25 years ago and consulting with a friend who was sure to agree, we had a plan: Since water always rises level, all we had to do was compensate for the grade in the land, situate the pool to reflect the variations in the topography and fill as normal. We turned off the tap that evening when the water was nearly 3" in some places; we chose to simply ignore the fact that more than 50 per cent of the bottom was dry.

Day Two, the pool’s water-weighted side collapsed sending hundreds of gallons of water across the lawn. On the upside, the kids can now add "bailing" to their skill sets.

It was obvious we had no choice; we had to level the ground. Apparently, for a reason that remains unclear, we had to do this in 30 C-weather. After an hour and a half of shoveling, numerous snide remarks about spatial ability and the discovery that the topsoil was 1.5-inches deep, Number One remarked that we had what looked like a long jump pit. Clearly, this was a job for a professional.

What marks a professional is their ability not to laugh when they come to assess a job you’ve created with your profound lack of skills. Cam McIvor came over on Day Three, eye balled it, gave me a ballpark figure and the assurance that Terrane had equipment that could fit if we removed a panel in the fence, providing the neighbours didn’t mind a Bobcat and a dump truck moving across their lawn. We waited out the long weekend in anticipation.

Day Six: excavation day. In a mere two hours a slope that could rival some ski hills in Ontario, was replaced with a square of level sand. I almost wept.

On Day Seven, we covered the sand in neat blue tarps and began the installation. By nightfall three inches of water covered 90 per cent of the pool’s bottom. We rejoiced, albeit somewhat cautiously.

Day Eight, I discovered that the poorly fitted water filtration system allowed for substantial leaking. I also discovered that five hours spent in 9 C water adjusting hoses, tightening bolts, fashioning gaskets out of old bicycle tubing and vacuuming up gallons of water is like 40 hours of any other activity. Cotton string, wrapped like rope around portholes, finally did the trick.

That night we covered pool in the translucent blue vinyl "patented solar cover" and waited.

Day Ten, we ripped off the cover and four eager kids jumped into 16 C water. Ten minutes had stretched into 10 days but we had made it through another suburban rite of passage.

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