Tag Archives: swimming pools

While waiting…

This boy is turning 17 exactly 10 years later.

“Murder postponed” was the first title I came up with for this post, but that is unnecessarily sensationalist for my usual taste. However, it probably does reveal the current tone of my meditations.

I’ve been thinking about why this swimming pool demolition project is proving to be more emotionally unnerving than I expected. I did fully expect that it would start today, which is why bright and early I was waiting and ready. Bright and early dear Mr. Bread was on hand as well, but we soon discovered that my lack of familiarity with the communication style of contractors had caused me to misunderstand a particularly misleading worker. The work will not proceed quite yet, so I have time to think about it all here on my blog..

I was until recently married, for most of my adult life, and I am trying to adjust to the ending of that earthly relationship. For more than half of my married life I was also a pool owner, so I had a sort of relationship with my pool, and that is ending, too, not by death or divorce, but by me murdering my pool.

baptism May 97 crp 2

I hope it is not dishonoring to my late husband to think about our marriage as being in any way similar to that concrete container; I am just contemplating the emotional strain of things changing. If my husband were here helping me change the backyard landscape, I would no doubt be comforting him, and probably not acknowledging my own angst, but now I have to comfort myself about one more change.

Kate wrote that she is trying not to be too emotional about what is a very logical decision. 25 years ago when we were house-shopping, we reluctantly settled on a house with a pool, having originally excluded that option from our plan. We had only expected to live here a couple of years anyway! Of course, our whole family became invested in that pool and enjoyed it, and many of our friends have written to tell of their important memories of swimming and baptisms.

But for me to go on here in this house and on this property, it is very helpful to be able to create an alternative physical space to go along with my new life. This pool has outlived its usefulness as a place for people to have fun, and now presents as only a big bathtub that needs to be kept clean. Not being a great one for that kind of chore, I’m thankful I have the resources to change it out for a living and breathing ecosystem that will be friendly to bees, butterflies, birds, children and tea parties.

FB pool P1020191(1) 6-07
This boy loved monitoring the pool sweep.

Once I didn’t have to stay around for the work that wasn’t happening this morning, I realized I could go to church after all and celebrate my priest’s name day with a warm and joyful church family brunch after Liturgy. It was encouraging to talk to people about my ongoing grief and projects; I am so thankful for this community that upholds me in so many ways.

I have some more time to finish my preparations for my first meeting with a landscape designer who specializes — and what California landscaper doesn’t? — in what we call waterwise gardening and irrigation. Yesterday I dug out the few plants I want to keep that were on the edge of the pool, so close that they might end up in the hole, and I put them in safe and moist places until we figure out where they will work into the new landscape.

I got so hot and tired in the middle of that task, and mused as I worked over the timing of my project: should I have waited another year, or at least a few more months, to begin? I concluded that it was right and good for me, being a gardener and naturally takingFB blue flowers 5-05 delight in planning a garden, researching about plants, and imagining a beautiful natural space. If I didn’t have this creative work to do, just what would I be doing right now?

I’d probably be feeling guilty about not doing all the sorting and cleaning that needs attention inside the house, much of it the kind of work that requires decision-making or skills that I’m not so good at, and that feel too formidable right now. Also I’d feel bad about putting water in the pool all summer long! Once I get through the next weeks and begin to see the unfolding of the vision, I will be less anxious. And for now, we can all take a little longer to say good-bye to the pool that we didn’t want, but were thankful for, and now don’t want again. Good-bye, Pool!


To be like that orchid.

This morning I helped make Communion bread at church. The only pictudough risen 8-4-15re I took this time was of the big bowl of dough before it was turned out and divided among us four bakers. It was just so symmetrically bulbous and gaseous.

When I came home I noticed the lovely rose, as I had noticed yesterday, too, and I thought I really must take a picture of it. But I forgot, and was eating my lunch when rain began to fall! It was only a few drops, and it didn’t spoil the roses. I went out even while it was still coming down and captured two roses. This may be the last season for that rosebush  – I don’t know that tea roses fit into my xeriscapic visions. (Just so you know, xeriscapic is not a legitimate word, but what form of the word could I use for the idea of “visions of xeriscape?”)


watered plants

Many more pretty and colorful flowers are blooming in the garden right now, though I must say I’m mostly noticing the unkempt parts. It’s less than a week now until the pool will be broken into pieces that will be dumped into its own hole. I had to call the mosquito control man to come and spray that little swamp at the bottom that the electric pump couldn’t extract.



Because I’ve had to mIMG_0273ove pots and firewood and steppingstones and all manner of things out of the way, the yard front and back is in great disarray in addition to being drought-stricken.

I’ve decided not to keep some plants, after I watered them for weeks with water from the pool; miniature roses in pots are also not waterwise gardening. But it feels like euthanizing old pets merely because they’re too much trouble. All of this upheaval is unsettling.

unwatered plants

The ornamental/cherry plum tree you can see sticking up purplish next to the house in the pool picture will be removed shortly after the pool, and the pine tree thinned out and shaped. My shady part of the garden will not be so shady anymore.

The wisteria is telling me  she has no idea that there even is a drought. And she keeps me busy cutting off those wild stems that weave in the breeze. If you don’t recognize her, she is the green frizzy mop on the arbor next to the purplish plum.


In the house, I can hardly believe it, this orchid is still blooming, a condolence/memorial gift from March. When I came home from the mountains one branch had wilted and dried, but after I watered it it revived completely. I’m sure I’ve posted its picture here before, but I can’t help sharing again, it’s so wonderful. I would like to be like that orchid.

On the table by the orchid is a little Jubilee tomato from my front yard. Those tomato plants do not like where they are planted, not one bit. The fruit is almost all small, tough, and/or tasteless. I now regret that day of tomato-hole digging, as I don’t really need any tomatoes at this time of my life anyway, but I did learn some things from the experience.

This week is lots of cookie-baking at church for our food festival in September, and also the the bright and blessing Feast of the Transfiguration. I’ve had house guests of the easiest sort coming and going, and a couple of them who I hope will stay a few weeks as they are on an errand of mercy. They are taking me out for dinner this evening, and I think I will end this mélange on that cheerful note.


After World War II my father took a two-year agricultural course at the Northern Branch of the College of Agriculture, later to become the University of California at Davis. My sister-in-law was a UC Davis professor for a long time and still lives in the town, and our daughter lived there for six years while getting an advanced degree from the school. So it’s a place with which our family has a long history.P1000561 sunflowers crp 2

Now my son-in-law Nate is employed by the university and that branch of the family is the latest to settle in. After living in Maryland for eleven years, just last week Pearl and the children completed their cross-country camping trip along with dog Jack, and returned to California where they had all been born (the humans, that is).


We’ve been anticipating this event for most of a year, and when school was out and they had set out on their journey, I followed their progress on paper maps with occasional text-message updates from the travelers. As soon as I got the message, “We’re here!” I began to calculate how soon I might make the drive over; I hadn’t seen most of the children for almost a year, since Kate’s wedding.

They arrived Thursday afternoon, and everyone seemed to be welcoming me to come, so two days later I pulled up in front of the house that previously I’d seen only in pictures, and as I got out of the car I caught the smells familiar to my childhood, which are always so comforting to me. Davis is in the Central Valley, where I also grew up, albeit 200+ miles to the south, and the warm air and the earth and fields of fast-growing corn or alfalfa or tomatoes all combine to make for a distinctive environment. P1000533crp

Even though I am back home now where we have that marine influence that makes for a very different climate, it seems I can almost get a whiff of the Valley air by seeing this picture taken from the balcony, looking east toward Sacramento over a plantation of sunflowers. A loaded lemon tree on the right and wisteria encroaching give a hint of how eager the plant life is.

I think I started on that first evening, to help Pearl unpack boxes that the movers had stacked all over the house. In any case, we spent hours on that task during my stay, and certainly didn’t finish it. Often I would unroll a sheaf of large papers that had encased some item, and I’d set the bowl or whatever on the kitchen counter for her to put away; then I would smooth out the paper and eventually add it to the growing stack in the entry. I brought home some of these papers, hoping to reuse them myself for starting fires or to place inDavis June IMG_0078 Maggie front of young children with crayons.

It was amusing to see what was in some of the packages. We took to guessing what was inside, by the shape and the weight. Often the contents of one bundle were more haphazard than could be accounted for, as with a barbeque fork packed with two pencils and a pen; some unbreakables were heavily protected with multiple layers. The most surprising find for me was wrapped up all by itself; a cereal bowl containing two dry Weetabix, covered in plastic wrap.

Their new house has a swimming pool, and the children were swimming every day. A screened patio is right off the pool, where we ate some meals in the style of Sunset Magazine. Monday afternoon I took pictures of Maggie doing water stunts for a while, and was pleased when I got warm enough that my desire to cool off overcame my usual inertia in regard to swimming. I was glad I’d brought my suit.

The pool is kept clean by a saltwater system, so there is not the destructive chlorine to rot one’s swimsuit or destroy hair. Several redwood trees shade one end of the pool and so far this keeps the water cool enough to be refreshing even on 100+° days such as occurred while I was there.

The last evening oIMG_0115moon lg dusk Davisf my stay, Pearl and I took a walk with a longtime friend and former roommate of Pippin, who still lives in the area. She introduced us to one of her favorite routes on the west side of town and we walked and talked for an hour. The light wasn’t good enough for most of my pictures to turn out well; on my next visit I’d like to do that walk in the morning. As it’s less than two hours away, I should be able to accomplish a visit another time or two while it’s still summer.