Bucking the Universe – Part 2

September 10, 2018 10:44 am

In my last post, Bucking the Universe – Part 1, I talked about the decision Dennis and I made to fly in and out of Philadelphia on the same day, against my better judgement, to try a swim spa that I’ve wanted to buy for our home.

When we last left off in the story, I thought the worst of the trip was over. Claustrophobic me had just completed my first (and last!) flight in a small, 50 seat airplane. Not without challenges, I might add, but I did make it.

Philadelphia weather was perfect when we landed. A little on the warm, muggy side, but sunny and calm, perfect flying weather. On the shuttle ride to the car rental counter, I had a lovely conversation with two nuns, one of which was proclaiming the virtues of Wa-Wa.

What’s a Wa-Wa, you may ask? I know I did. A Wa-Wa, according to the nun, is a convenience store/gas station where you can, and I quote, “Get your entire life there.” Wow. That’s quite a claim. I decided Dennis and I were going to have to fit a Wa-Wa visit in our short time in Philly.

Once we landed, we had about five hours before we needed to be back at the airport for our flight home. The pool showroom is twenty minutes from the airport. I expected the visit to be brief, no more than a half hour or forty-five minutes tops. Just enough time to change, try the pool I was sure would work, change back and be on our way.

I thought we might even have enough to time to check out a defunct prison nearby for forty-five minutes or so. (Some people would make a beeline for the Liberty Bell, but not me. Old defunct prison’s are more my style. Alcatraz is my favorite part of visiting San Francisco.)

I figured we’d grab an authentic Philly Cheesesteak on the way to the prison. On the way back to airport, we could stop at a Wa-Wa and gas up the car before dropping it off. According to the nun, there were many of them in the area. Our schedule was tight, but not impossible.

The car rental place was very busy, and it took a bit longer than we expected, However, they gave us free soft, authentic Philly Pretzels while we waiting, so all was good. Once we got the car, the next stop was the pool showroom. And I use the word “showroom” very loosely.

The entrance of the showroom was very nice and professional with a receptionist who called the salesman we’ve been working with for the past three months. He gave us a tour of the pools they had set up and available to try. I was expecting a normal pool showroom, where each pool is setup next to another pool in a large open area. Not in this case. Not even close.

The “showroom” was, in essence, a working warehouse, where they installed pools in various locations. They had, at most, two pools in the same location. The locations of the pools, while they were in the same general area, were connected with rickety, narrow, wooden construction-site style stairs. In some cases, we had to cross the warehouse floor to get to the next pool.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I didn’t care because I was only trying the one pool. The moderately-priced pool that was advertised to be perfect for the “casual swimmer.” I’m fifty-two, and I haven’t done any serious swimming, or any other kind of exercise for that matter, for six years. I figured I’d be lucky if I could keep up with the swim current at it lowest setting.

After changing in a tiny little bathroom, which seemed huge at that point after the whole Lilliputian bathroom I dealt with on the plane, I donned my swim suit, my flip-flops and headed out to try my pool. Note, that I refer to the pool as “my pool” at this point. I was already sold on it. I almost bought it sight unseen, but Dennis thought I should try it first. So, as far as I was concerned, testing it out was just doing my due diligence for a few minutes before I could go tour my prison.

After changing, Dennis and I followed the salesman up one rickety flight of stairs and down another to get to my pool. Stairs are not great for my bad knee, which is one of the main reasons I want the pool, so I can strengthen it. Stairs in flip-flops are even worse on my bad knee. But it didn’t matter, I reasoned. I’m only using the stairs once. I’ll try the pool out, and be done. Bring on the cheesesteak and the prison.

I make my way up another set of rickety stairs to get into my pool, and once I’m in, I notice that it feels much roomier that the other pools I’ve tried. Good sign. I ask the salesman to turn the pool current to low. (I know from past experiences in testing out swim spa pools that if you start the current too high, it spits you back into the end of the pool.)

I put on my hideous black swim cap, don my swim goggles, and take the plunge, literally, and start swimming. I promptly touch the front of the pool, where the machine that generates the current is located, with my fingertips. I’m out swimming the speed of the current.

Okay, the low setting is too low for me. I ask the salesman to turn up the current a bit (he assured us prior to visiting, that this pool had a fully configurable current, not just a “low or high” setting.) He switches the current to high and informs us any further configuration for current speed needs to be done manually by moving two plastic discs in the pool. Which he can only accomplish by climbing up his own set of rickety stairs, plunging his arm almost to his shoulder into the pool, and spinning the flat plastic discs.

I’m leery of the sales guy at this point. As far as I’m concerned, he blatantly lied to us about the variable swim current. But, okay. I’m here. I’ll try it. If moving these discs changes the resistance, fine. I can move the discs.

I plunge in again and start swimming. And I touch the current generator at the front of the pool again. The current is still too slow. Turn ‘er up again, I say. Which he does. I try it again and still hit the front of the pool. How is this possible? I’m not in shape. I’m no where near in shape. I had to decide whether there was room for me turn around in a micro aisle of the plane a few hours earlier. There is no way I’m going to out swim a current that is meant for a casual swimmer.

But I did. At top speed, with the resistance disc’s fully opened, I swam comfortably in the current. If I pushed myself, which is kind of the point of getting a swim spa, I out swam the current and hit the front of the pool. I’m not sure who the company considers a “casual swimmer” if not an out-of-shape, fifty-two year old woman who considers exercise walking the dog to the corner and back.

Obviously, the pool I was sold on, my pool, the one in my price range, wasn’t going to work. I was disappointed and relieved that Dennis was wise enough to insist I try it before we bought it.

Now what do we do? Give up on the idea all together? Try other pools that cost more than I want to spend? Since we were there, Dennis and I decided to try the other pools they had available.

I tried out a total of six pools. Which meant I did flights of rickety wooden stairs five times that day in slippery, wet flip-flops. (Two pools were in the same area). In addition to the wooden stairs, there were the stairs I navigated up and down into the pools. And the time spent swimming in the pools – a minimum of three or four minutes each to make sure I could stay in the current while I swam.

I should mention at this point, that getting in these pools is a bit tricky. They aren’t like getting into an in-ground pool where you just jump in, or even an above ground pool where there’s a ladder to climb in and out of it. Nope. These swim spa’s resemble really large bathtubs — each one came up to my neck or higher. They require steps to lead up to them and there is one seat, about four feet down in the pool to step on to enter it. Traversing the top step on the outside of the pool to the seat four feet below inside the pool, requires a certain amount of grace and finesse’. Of which I possess neither.

I finally figured out that the safest way for me to get in the pool was to sit and balance myself on the 9″ ledge of the pool and swing my legs into the water, one at a time, until I was sitting with my feet dangling into the pool, at which time, I could drop down into the water. This was not the fluid one-step movement that you might expect it to be. This was a multi-step process for me, with stops at each step to make sure I was still balancing my way-larger-than-9-inch butt on the tiny railing.

At one point in this choreographed sequence, I was sitting, straddling the 9 inch ledge with one leg on the top of the stairs and the other dangling in the pool while in my swimming suit, hideous black swim cap and goggles. It was at this point, when several male warehouse workers passed us, brown bags in hand, while they went to lunch. They glanced over at me, and to their credit they were kind enough not to laugh. But I’m sure they wanted to. I was a sight to see.

Let me point out that three months ago, when I first tested a swim spa, I was self-conscious and I wore a full length cover up the entire time I was in the showroom, right up to the point where I entered the pool. I put it back on immediately after I came back out.

However, after three months of hauling my ass and thighs in and out of all these pools, I’ve become desensitized to the point that I can sit in my swimming suit, straddling the thin ledge of a pool, and not be freaked out by two random warehouse workers looking at me. I actually thought it was kind of funny, in that bizarre, you-can’t-make-shit-like-this-up category. I bet they had a good laugh over lunch.

During another test swim, another warehouse worker approached our salesman and asked if we were done testing one of the pools. Apparently, he wanted to go for a swim on his lunch. Ack! I despise public pools. That’s another reason I want to get a swim spa. Up to that point, I’d been comforting myself with the thought that there aren’t that many people that try out these swim spas so they’re not really public pools. Especially considering one has to  to fly to Philly to try them. I didn’t consider that the workers at the warehouse/showroom used them themselves. Cue the germaphobe paranoia.

I tried one more pool after that, and I called it quits for the day.  At that point, we’d been there for a little over two hours. I was tired, hungry and my knee was sore. The prison idea was shot. Not enough time left to fit that in. I thought my Philly cheesesteak and Wa-Wa were still a go.

I did find a pool I really liked. It’s quite a bit more than the original pool I went there for, but it’s considerably less than the pools I’ve looked at in Wisconsin. So maybe we could still make the swim pool idea work.

After Dennis and I got changed, and were ready to leave, the salesman led us into a room where he insisted on pricing out the exact pool we wanted. Fine, I suppose, although I didn’t intend to buy anything on spot.

The salesman was very focused on colors. What color lining did I want? What color edging? And he talked a lot, without saying anything. And I was getting annoyed with him. Finally, I told him as politely as I could manage, considering I was hungry (didn’t have anything except for 1/2 of the Philly pretzel from the car rental place all day), tired and I really wanted to get out of there, that I wasn’t buying today, so just put in any color combination for the quote and I would figure it out later.

Which he did. And then he offered to take a thousand off, but any more he’d have to talk to his sales manager. Aha! Now I understood. We’re dickering. Apparently, you can dicker on the price of a pool. I didn’t know that. I’m a good dickerer. Dennis and I have the routine down. He’s the “good” guy and wants to do the sale, and I’m the “bad” guy who won’t budge on the dollars.

We dickered for a few minutes, and got another couple thousand off the pool. Am I ready to sign? the salesman asked. No. But I’m ready for my cheesesteak.

We left the warehouse/showroom, with directions to a cheesesteak place the receptionist recommended and a quote on the pool. However, when we got to the car, and googled how long it would take to get to the restaurant, and we noticed how the time to get to the airport was increasing as it grew later in the afternoon, we realized the cheesesteak wasn’t going to happen either. We needed enough time to drop off the car at the rental place and take the shuttle back to the airport, so we opted for a drive through hamburger at a chain restaurant. There were no Wa-Wa’s that we could find in the area, so Dennis topped off the tank at the nearest station near the car rental place.

No moderately priced pool. No prison visit. No Philly cheesesteak. No Wa-wa. At least we were going home and I’d see my animals and sleep in my own bed tonight.  The weather was still warm and mostly clear. Our flight was on time. Things could be worse.

And they would be.

To be continued

12:03 PM

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I never did get my Philly Cheesesteak. That might not be such a bad thing considering I didn’t get my moderately priced pool, either.

 

 

 

 

Summer Solstice – The New Year’s Resolution for Commitment-phobes

12:42 pm 6/21/17

Today is the first day of summer. The summer solstice. The longest day of the year and the shortest night. The OCD in me likes the solstice’s; both summer and winter. I like the finite nature of them. It’s kind of cool to have a specific date that is the longest day of the year, or shortest.

The solstices seem like a good time to assess, take stock and plan what the next six months hold. It’s kind of like a New Year resolution for commitment-phobes. After all, there’s only a 6 month stint involved instead of a year.

I have the pie-in-the-sky goals like going back to the gym and swimming for an hour five times a week. That’s a good one. I’ve done it before and I feel better, and look bettter, for doing it. But it also involves a ton of time, and not just the hour of swimming, but the time driving to and from the gym, waiting for the showers and a lane to free up in the pool, and then getting redressed and ready for the day. Realistically, that’s probably not going to happen in the next six months.

What else? This blog. I’d like to continue it for six months. I will commit to a daily entry, in under hour, for the next six months. I can do that. I’m already noticing that planning ideas of what to write about is becoming part of my day to day life. Characters that I’ve written about in unfinished works are starting to whisper to me again, too. And that’s really cool. So, yes, I will definitely continue the blog.

Here’s a good one. Finish the first rough draft of a novel I started back in 2001. Seriously, 2001. I’ve been writing and rewriting the first half of it for the past 16 years. I could have practically raised a kid in that time! In keeping with the idea of letting go of my perfectionist ways, I’m going to work on moving forward and finally finishing it. It won’t be perfect, but that’s okay. I’ll decide after it’s done if it’s worth revising and trying to publish it or if it’s just something I had to get out of my system.

What else? I’m not sure. I feel like I need a third thing, because in writing strings of three are suggested. A list of two seems incomplete. A list of four or more is too much. Three is the magic number.

I could commit to getting another dog. Not sure that will make Dennis happy. I could commit to NOT getting another dog. I’m not sure that would make me or Sammy happy. I could commit to going on a vacation to a beach somewhere. Preferably someplace with gambling, like Aruba. But that’s cheating. A beach vacation is a wish not a goal.

I’ve got a good one. I enjoy all things creative, and in addition to enjoying to write, I also enjoy quilting. In fact, since I haven’t written at all in a few years, my creative outlet has been solely quilting. I’m probably not very good. I’m self-taught — or I should say Youtube-taught. My grandma tried to teach me to sew as a young girl, but I didn’t have the knack for it. I still don’t. I can piece together a quilt but I can’t sew a garment. I’m lucky I can hem pants when necessary…and truth be told, I often just use duct tape to do that!

Anyway, I digress. While my quilts are not perfect, they are very pretty. And very functional. I make them to be sturdy, so they can stand up to many washings. I want my quilts to be used, not stored away as a keepsake. I’ve given away a few quilts I’ve made to friends and family, but I’m always leery to do it, because they have mistakes in them. I figure friends and family will forgive my uneven stitching on my binding or my seams that don’t quite match up. All our animals have quilts they love to sleep on.

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This is the last quilt I finished. It was made for my sister-in-law. There’s a few mistakes on this one, but it’s a pattern I’ve made several times before, so it’s pretty good.

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This is one of the first large quilts I made. I gave it to my girlfriend. There’s tons of mistakes on it. I’ve known her since 7th grade, though, so I knew she’d overlook them. And I don’t think it’s fallen apart yet, or if it has, she’s had the grace not to tell me.

While I’ve given away quilts to friends and family, I’ve never donated a quilt to charity. I’ve always wanted to, though. There are many charities I would like to support that take quilts — some are for patients undergoing chemo, some are for children who are in the hospital, some are for war veterans. They’re all worthy causes and I have plenty of supplies to make a quilt for all of them. I just haven’t because I don’t think I’m good enough. These people don’t know me and they deserve a perfect quilt, not one that I’ve muddled my way through.

So, my third goal for these six months is to make and donate a quilt. It takes a long time to make a quilt so I won’t commit to donating more than one, but I will do one. Quilters are supposed to sign their names to their quilts. I’ve never done that either. I’ll have to see if I’m brave enough to do that. For now, I think the donation alone will be the goal.

What are your goals for the next six months? Can you come up with three? Post your goals in the comments section.

May you have a joyous and peaceful summer solstice.

1:35 pm 6/21/17.  I cut it a bit close this time!