As it turned out, the dump trucks and the Caterpillar excavator rolled up around 7:30 A.M., so I got to see them break ground after all. Allyson and I were ecstatic, though I suppose our neighbors were not as enthusiastic about the constant drone of heavy engines and the beep-beep of the excavator when it backed up.
They started by uprooting the five tree stumps, which took about 15 to 20 minutes in all. They just dug around each stump a bit, then pressed the bucket against the stump until the whole root ball popped up out of the ground.
Allyson cried when I made her get in the car around 8:15, but she was back to her cheerful self before we got to the highway. After we left, the workers built the wooden forms, and then the excavator operator dug the hole from within the frame.
When we returned the next afternoon, I couldn't stop gawking at the giant hole in our backyard. "It seemed so much smaller when I was looking at your chalk outline!" I marveled.
"Yes," Bill agreed. "Isn't it cool?"
On Monday, the plumbers came. That evening, we all crawled down into the hole, and Lola jumped down and joined us.
Allyson had to show Lola how to get back out.
The next day, the rebar crew came to build the steel skeleton. Under the beating sun, they pounded the steel rods around a big metal tube conforming it to the contours of the wooden forms.
|Man in Blue Shirt is Standing on the "Bending Tube"|
Bill gazed wistfully at Allyson. "Man, I wish I didn't have to go to work today," he said. "I want to stay and watch."
"You are so cute!" I said, planting a kiss on his cheek. After he left, Allyson and I watched them for hours, mainly from our air conditioned kitchen. At last we could see exactly what the pool would look like:
See how much of it is above ground due to the slope of our yard? All of that will be a lovely rock wall, visible from our kitchen window.
We had to wait a few more days for the electrician and the city inspector, and then the big day arrived: Yesterday, it was finally time to blow in the gunite, a dry concrete mix that is injected with water just as it is blasted out of a big hose. We'd heard this was the most fascinating part, so Bill worked from home while he watched. It was very loud and very dusty; clouds of concrete dust billowed through the yard.
For four hours, the men took turns wielding the giant hose overhead, their teeth rattling in their jaws and sweat saturating their long-sleeved shirts.
At 7:00 last night, Bill did his first twice-daily watering. He'll have to do this for about a week while the concrete cures, and then the pool will be covered with plaster. He'd scarcely completed the watering when a thunderstorm rolled in, dumping about two inches of water in the bottom of the pool. Today, he used a broom to splash that water onto the walls.
Allyson, Lola, and I climbed down the steps to watch. I was quickly driven away by the heat radiating up from the concrete, but it didn't seem to bother Allyson at all.
And Lola was fascinated by the brackish water. I hope she's smart enough not to drink it.
Speaking of Lola...
I have yet another Lola story for you. Around 8:00 last night, while it was still pouring rain, I noticed some familiar, incessant barking that sounded like it was coming from the front yard. "Is that Lola?" I asked of no one in particular. Not surprisingly, no one answered.
It's probably someone else's dog, I reasoned. Or maybe it just sounds like it's out front because of the rain.
"Is that Lola, Bill?" I hollered, but again there was no answer. I put down my dish towel with a heavy sigh and stepped onto the front porch. The rain was falling in sheets, and thunder was crashing. Just as I started to holler Lola's name, I noticed a strange man in the grass.
"Is that your..." he asked, his voice trailing off.
"Is our dog out front?" I asked.
"A black lab?" he asked. I nodded, and he pointed at the driveway. "Over there."
I groaned and stepped out into the downpour. Sure enough, Lola was standing at the top of the driveway, barking her head off at the well-meaning stranger. I grabbed her soggy collar and dragged her, still barking and pretending to lunge at the intruder, to the gate. Headed back to his car, he was now far enough away that she could put on a show of bravery.
"Thank you so much! I really appreciate your stopping to check on her!" I called over my shoulder. "I'm sorry you got wet."
"I didn't want her to get lost," he answered.
"Well, thank you ag-" I broke off, slipping on the mud in front of the gate. I caught myself on the gate handle, which was loosely tied closed with a stretchy rubber cord. I yanked the gate open about eight inches and tried to force my wet dog through the opening. "Get back in there, Lola!" I spat out through gritted teeth, but she wouldn't budge, and I couldn't get any traction in my flip flops. I jerked in terror as a flash of lightning blinded me and the immediate crack of thunder vibrated in my chest.
Just then, Bill appeared on the other side of the gate. He untangled the rubber cord and yanked Lola through the gate. "Get in here, ya dumb dog!"
"Thank you!" I said, turning back toward the front door as another bolt of lightning lit up the sky. Bill locked Lola in her run and then brought me a towel--a hand towel, for Pete's sake!
As I stood there on the rug, cold rivulets of water coursing out of my drenched hair and down my back, I was surprised at how relieved I was that Lola hadn't run away. I think I must be falling in love at last.