David and I have two monsters in our lives with which we contend with every year. And it’s not crabgrass. We gave up on that years ago.

The warm weather season monster is the pool, and the cold weather season monster is the wood stove. Both have a voracious appetite of energy — David’s and mine — money and worry.

Right now we were in sort of a lull between the two of them.



The over-sized pool was here 32 years ago when my ex and I moved into the house with seven children, the youngest of which was 3 weeks old.

I have run into people throughout the years who have told me they went to awesome parties at the house, full of drugs and drinking, both of which ended when we signed the papers.

But we were thrilled to have a pool! So excited! So looking forward to lounging around it in the summer in a never-ending vacation of fun and frolic!

We were so deluded. It was, is and ever will be so, so much work. If it isn’t mustard algae, it’s wrinkles in the liner. If it’s not leaves on the top, it’s bubbles in the bottom. Every year presents some new problem to deal with.

The guy who repairs our pool when it needs it, just stands and shakes his head, looking down at it.

“You guys have the worst luck,” he says. “How do you have so many problems?”

It was fun when the children were home. Now it’s just work to keep it open for the occasional visitor. One family at church with seven children came often this summer. I’ve tried to get them to buy the house, but it’s too far from the dad’s work. They want to buy the pool, but we can’t figure out how to move it to their house.

After all, it’s just a big hole. A bottomless pit of time and money.

One of our friends, who works in construction, keeps suggesting we just fill it in.

“It would be 37,000 gallons of dirt,” I said. Who will want to buy a house in a few years with that much dirt in the backyard? I’ve consider making it into a penguin refuge, very large aquarium or an ice skating rink. David hasn’t agreed to any of these.

When we finally get the pool closed up, usually early in August, we have a lull before the second monster rears its head — the hungry wood stove.

Before we switch from pool care to stove care, there are usually four or five weeks when it’s too chilly for the pool to be open and too warm for the stove to be needed.

I love that time!

Then my toes tell me it’s chilly and we must descend to the downstairs and start feeding the stove, waiting with an open mouth. It’s like having a teenage boy in the house again, always starving and never quite able to take care of that need without me having to do something.

I think David enjoys taking care of the wood — hauling, splitting, stacking, bringing it in and listening to me complain that the wood we have isn’t burning right. Usually God has provided the wood by blowing a few trees down during storms in the summer.

I am the fire starter in the house and David is the fire maintainer. For some reason, I usually can get a fire going.

I try to pass on my ability to the future generations, but they aren’t buying it.

I tried to teach my Eagle Scout son-in-law Tim how to start a fire while they were living with us after his second Stanford degree and before he started a new job. I left him one day blowing on the tiny flame and came down a half an hour later to find him still blowing and the flame still tiny.

“Are you having trouble?” I said.

He responded, “Have we not as a civilization evolved beyond blowing on a little spark to get heat?”

I resumed my calling as the fire starter.

As I write this, the temperature is 63 degrees and too warm to need a fire — the perfect lull. But the pool seems to have a leak someplace and just had to have gallons and gallons of water put into it.

That water-filled monster is infringing upon my lull before the fire-breathing monster.

I can kill algae and I can build a fire. If you know a job that would make me a millionaire with those qualifications, ring me up.

Elzey is a freelance writer for the Register & Bee. She can be reached at susanelzey@yahoo.com or (434) 791-7991.

Elzey is a freelance writer for the Register & Bee. She can be reached at susanelzey@yahoo.com or (434) 791-7991.

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