Calvin and I had an interesting time getting the spa hooked up. We'd hired a person to do the cement work for the pad the spa and gazebo would rest on. Upon explaining to him what we were up to, he offered to run a trench from the corner of the house where the wiring resided, out the 50 feet or so to the spa. Trench dug, he ran piping and wiring along it, and re-buried it. So! Calvin and I figured we were all set.
The spa arrived, and Larry and his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl set it up in the back yard. They ended up having to pull a crane over to lift the spa from the roadway into our back yard. That is one experience I'd really rather not repeat. They came within a hair's breadth from smacking the neighbor's air conditioner right off their roof, and then they over corrected and nearly dropped the thing through our roof. All the while grinning like maniacs, thinking this was the greatest lark in the world. God. I couldn't watch, so I hid inside with the pillow over my head, anticipating at any moment a two-ton spa to drop in on my head.
No, not really. But I did leave Calvin to deal with them. Because I'm mean that way.
After they (somehow) set the spa in the backyard and lurched off again, Calvin got to work making the terminations on the electrical stuff. And here's where we ran into a snag. All ready to do the hook up, Calvin discovered that the neutral wire the guy ran through the trench was too small. So we took a trip to Home Depot to get wire (and you all remember how much I LOVE that place, right?), and came back home to snake the new wire through the conduit in place of the old. Fortunately, this is something Calvin does quite often at work, so it wasn't the nightmare we were fearing it would be. He attached the end of the wire inside the conduit to the end of the coil of new wire, then had me feed it through one end while he hauled on it on the other. It's very thick, unwieldy stuff, and he ended up making his hands quite sore before we were done. But, relatively speaking, it was a fairly easy deal and we went to bed on Wednesday night feeling optimistic that we'd have the thing running by the weekend.
Thursday the gazebo was built around the spa, which was the smoothest part of the whole deal. The gazebo builder guy (I don't know what to call him, a woodworker?) let himself into the yard, did his thing, and was done well before we got home from work. Now, that's a very fun part of hiring folks to do stuff to your house. You leave in the morning with the anticipation that something fun is waiting for you when you get home. Of course, as learned by the HIPFH(tm), not all of the surprises we received when we got home at the end of the day were good ones. But this guy did a good job, and I digress.
We discovered another wiring mistake during all of this, made possible by the World's Worst General Contractor, he of the golden HIPFH(tm) days of olde. He hadn't pulled all of the wires we requested from the breaker box at the front end of the house, to the small termination point we had installed at the back corner of the house. We had known all along that we were installing a spa at some point, and we wanted to be sure we had all the hook-ups necessary. Lo and behold, we were missing one of the connections. Or the existing one wasn't big enough. Or something. Calvin starts in with all the technical goo and I just get this blank, dur-hee look on my face.
So! This meant that Calvin had to drill holes in walls, run conduit, crawl around in the attics, and run wire from the front of the house to the back. The attic from the existing house isn't connected to the attic in the addition, so Calvin had to run a small amount of conduit on the outside of the house, on the roof, at the closest point to the two attics. Which meant that I got to climb up on the roof in order to receive the wire from hole drilled on one side, and feed it into the hole drilled into the other side.
Now, ladders and I aren't friendly with each other. It's not that I have a fear of heights, it's that I have a fear of falling from them. Healthy, I think. I made my way (gingerly!) up the ladder and onto the flat roof over our patio. Then up the steep slope next to the gabled windows looking into Marie's room. Then on my back, head stuck under the eves, and praying that a family of Brown Recluses didn't choose that particular area to next in. Calvin assured me there were probably several within a near proximity to my head. He's such a helpful fellow.
While I was waiting for Calvin to descend from one attic and ascend into the other, I had a chance to look around. The view from the roof reminded me of that scene on Mary Poppins. You know, the one where all the chimney sweeps are dancing around on the rooftops? Yea verily, I live in Suburbia with a capital SUBURBIA, and there were a sea of roofs surrounding me. I climbed higher, to the very point of the second story roof, and I could see mountains in the distance. I turned all the way around, and saw all the mountains surrounding the valley.
I looked down again, and saw the neighbor behind us come out and start up his grill for dinner. Cars passed on the street below. Kids went roller bladeing by. All of it seemed very distant. Like I was apart from everything around me, just an observer but not a part of the goings-on around my neighborhood. I watched various neighbors along my road coming and going, working in their yards or checking the mail. I actually felt a little guilty, watching them and knowing they didn't know. A voyeur I am not.
The angles of the roof lines appealed to me, somehow, and I wished that I'd brought the camera up with me to take some pictures. It's hard to describe it, but being up on the roof really appeals to me. It seems peaceful, somehow. And I know that part of it is the unobstructed view - a thing I took for granted in Maine, which is very rare in the neck of the woods (desert!) I live in now. I'm sure when the pioneers first settled one could see straight out to the horizon in some places. That's not the case now, when Maricopa County is growing by a million people a year. With all the houses to accommodate them.
I climbed back down the ladder again, and Calvin busted his ass until nearly eleven on Thursday night to get the rest of the hook-up done. Then we finally, finally filled the spa up with water and set it to heat up. Since the temperature was only climbing by a degree every half hour or so, we knew we'd have to wait until Friday night to get into it for the first time.
Let me just say that work on Friday sucked. It was all I could to do force myself to stay there until the minimum time I could get away with arrived (4:00). Then I had to stop at the store and get some groceries. Now, for some reason, I completely hate running errands after work. I just want to get home, get my damned bra off, get into some comfy clothes, sit down and have a beer. Unfortunately, the whole beer drinking fantasy was predicated on the purchase of said beer, so off to the store I went. And there were thirteen million and two people there. And two checkout stations open. And one of them was a new person. And the other one of them was a very, very old person. It was at her station that I positioned myself. She examined every barcode very closely, pausing to pull her glasses down to the tip of her nose and extending the item to the very extent of her reach, squinting furiously. I hopped from one foot to another, for all the world (I'm sure) looking like a four-year-old in desperate need of a potty break. However, my sense of urgency was not communicated to my venerable friend, and she took a good ten minutes to finally run my dozen items along.
Calvin and Marie beat me home (he was in fact turning down her school's street to pick her up, as I was pulling out at the light at AcronymCo, right across the street). Calvin was fussing with the spa when I dragged the groceries in. We'd read the directions the night before, and he was figuring out how to get the TV to work.
Because you realize, of course, that we simply had to break in the spa by watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in it.
Somehow, I actually made it until after 7:00 before we finally got in the damned thing. First Calvin wanted to let the chemicals settle out. Then he made a run to Radio Shack for a connector for the TV antenna. Then he actually wanted to eat dinner, of all things. I occupied myself by climbing back up onto the roof to take the pictures you see here (proof positive that I lurve you all - I risked my very neck for those pictures). A gaggle of Marie's friends stopped by, ran shrieking into the backyard to see the spa, ran shrieking back into the house, and shrieked their way off to the mall with Marie in tow. Calvin and I undressed, grabbed a couple of towels and some beer, and finally picked our way across the rocks to the gazebo.
Let me pause here for a heartfelt Oh My God. This thing is the GREATEST invention since the crock pot. There's a lounge seat with jets at the shoulders, the small of the back, all down the legs, and for the bottoms of the feet. I nearly cried with joy. All the other seats are bucket seats with different jet configurations, all of which are adjustable for angle and stream intensity. The stereo sound quality is excellent, and the picture on the TV is very sharp. We have a remote for the TV/VCR, although the spa place mixed some stuff up and neglected to send along the remote for the radio/CD player. Kenwood, I might add. But we can suffer adjusting it manually until they can mail us the remote.
We sat and snuggled and soaked, moving from station to station and exclaiming "Oh, you've got to sit here..." and "Check this one out!" And of course, we watched the Olympics. The opening ceremonies were very impressive, were they not? I thought they were beautifully choreographed, and whoever designed those floating animal puppets is a genius. The detailing, with the shadowing suggesting muscle and fur, was nothing short of amazing. My favorites were the horses, of course. The "Child of Light" smacked a bit too much of Harry Potter, but I thought the kid was pretty damned impressive. Especially since he comes from a local Salt Lake City 7th grade and couldn't brag about his role to his classmates until a couple of days before the ceremony, for security reasons. It must have been killing the poor kid.
I loved the pioneer children watching the fantasy animals while their parents "slept", and I loved the Indian dancing and country jamboree. All the lights in the audience during the finale was nothing short of phenomenal. The parade of athletes got me choked up as usual. And the Olympic Flame is just about the coolest contraption I've ever seen. Calvin uttered a horrified "Oh, no..." when it seemed at one moment that the fire had extinguished before it got all the way to the top, and we both cheered when the flame burst at the pinnacle. Really, I enjoyed the whole show so much that I wouldn't mind owning a recording of it. Calvin and I had to give up on the spa after about an hour in it, so we finished watching the rest of the ceremonies dry and cozy on the couch, de-pruning.
Marie and her friends got home a bit before eleven, and we all trooped out to the spa again to have another soak. My skin is completely fried, I'm sure, since we don't have the chlorine mix quite down yet.
Here it is Saturday night again. The TV is playing the pairs skating event in the background, and I've just finished dinner (grilled pork chops and roasted red potatoes). Calvin is snoozing on the bed and Marie just finished her science project so she could go off to the mall (again - it must be a fascinating place) with her friends. The same gaggle as last night, which means we'll probably be inheriting them to sleep over again tonight. Michael called earlier to chat, all excited about coming home next weekend for a few days.
All's right with my world, and I'm very, very happy. And I can sleep in tomorrow! Woo!
Calvin's niece was interviewed on the news last night. She competes in gymnastics and the media was at their event to get their perspective on being athletes and their desire to someday go to the Olympics themselves. She's one poised little girl, telling the interviewer that watching the Olympics motivates her to want to be just like them. It would be so fantastic if we looked back on that some years from now as we're watching *her* at the Olympics.
High: Need you even ask?
Low: Gotta do homework today.
Nuthin. I'm chillin.
Calvin's passed out on the bed, and his little mouth is all pouted out. He's so cute when he's asleep.
Nothing, listening to the Olympic pairs skating competition on TV.
A Year Ago
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An Ampersand contribution, plus a whole bunch of music purchases.
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