By Jim McCloskey
I feel as though I’ve just taken a big step into the Modern Age – and now I wonder why the heck it took me so long to get here.
Long story short, I was having a problem with one of the valves on our pool-equipment pad not long ago, gave up with fixing it myself and called in a service-technician friend of mine to have a look. He took care of the problem, then lectured me about still having a conventional pump driving the system.
“Look,” he said, “we can go buy a variable-speed pump today and get it installed, and in a couple months the utility company will send you a rebate that covers the cost of the pump and maybe even some of the installation costs. And on top of that, you’ll save at least $100 a month because the new pump is so much better than what you have now in terms of energy efficiency.
“I won’t say this is a no-brainer, but if you can afford to put some money up now,” he said, “you’ll never complain about my having twisted your arm a little bit.”
Of course this was something I’ve planned on doing for ages, but something always came up that let me push it off for another month – or, in this case, many months. Then came the clincher: “You remember the lawn-replacement rebate they offered last year and how suddenly it disappeared? With this one, it was supposed to expire on December 31, but they’ve extended it, which nobody really expected them to do. These opportunities,” he said ominously, “don’t last forever.”
Three days later, the pump was in place. I feel so up to date – and quite happy about saving a bit of energy and ongoing operating cost as well!
Another backyard project that has seen a steady flow of procrastination – emanating mostly from the comfortable confines of my hammock – is the small fountain project I’ve been planning for, oh, the last five or six years.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, we have a ceramic birdbath that, ever since it reached our backyard, I’ve wanted to plumb up as a modest burbling waterfeature. It was never a problem with figuring out how to get it done; rather, I’ve hesitated for all these years because I’ve been afraid of breaking the birdbath’s bowl in the course of drilling a hole through it to make way for a small nozzle.
The challenge is and always has been that my wife Judy absolutely loves the birdbath and will be more than a bit upset if I manage to shatter the bowl in the process. It’s a nice Talavera piece, very colorful – and I’ve done enough inquiring to know that it’s not the most stable or forgiving material.
Yet another summer is approaching, however, and I’m determined to get this project done before it starts. I’ve acquired the graduated set of masonry bits, set up a sand box to support the bowl while the hole is being cut and simply need the blaze of courage required to make it happen. My goal is to get it all done by June 1. Here’s hoping that, like my variable-frequency drive pump, this is another project I can finally put behind me!
I would’ve had the birdbath fountain done by now, I tell myself, if I had been home to work on it. And therein lies my big news for the month: In April, our daughter Simone delivered our second grandchild – a boy this time – and I have just returned from several weeks in Seattle during which I tried to keep my three-year-old granddaughter out of her exhausted mother’s hair. Judy would’ve been much better at this than I, but she couldn’t be away from her fourth-grade classroom for that long, so I volunteered.
It was a fairly severe test of my theory that I can perform all of my WaterShapes duties anywhere I can get good Internet and cell connections – and the proof of that possibility is now on your screen. Next time, however, I think I’ll go big and bug out to Hawaii, or maybe the Costa Brava or someplace in Argentina . . .
I’ll share some photographs soon – of the baby, not of exotic locales I won’t be visiting anytime soon!