Honestly, when I left the tool catalog out on the kitchen table for my husband, Greg, to look at, I didn’t know there were swimming pool enclosures in the back pages! I didn’t even look at the front cover long enough to know what was shown on it, let alone delve into the one inch volume. I just knew he likes tool catalogs the way I like fashion magazines.
Later, when he called me over to look at them, he asked me if I wanted one for my birthday. The one he had been designing for me was still in its beginning stages. He could always use the PVC pipes for something else, and I could make patio chair cushions out of the remnant outdoor fabric we had bought. The canopy garage, or portable garage, would have a galvanized steel frame. He would still work on a plan to insulate it with the thick, mold-resistant building foam. It would cost almost twice as much as his estimate for a homemade one, but it would be done right away.
Part of the whole equation is that Greg is currently a 1.5 armed man, about to become a 1.0 armed man for several months while he recovers from having his torn rotator cuff repaired. It would take a load off of his mind not be be trying to finish the winter pool cover with one arm by next October. After double checking the measurements of our Tuff pool in a cement box, we ordered our 14 x 24 x 10 foot instant building.
It arrived in time to actually assemble it on my birthday. I tend to forget that these things don’t pop magically out of the box… There were hundreds of parts, large and small, which boggled my mind. The directions were not written for a helpless female, but Greg seemed to understand this and gave me very specific instructions for helping him, like, “put a screw in each of these holes,” while pointing.
We put together one small section of it, then carried it over to the pool to make sure it would fit. It did. However, there were multiple reasons to not assemble it over the swimming pool, not the least of which was that we were having trouble visualizing putting in the 10 foot high top center bars while walking on water. The other reasons hinged partly on Greg being a one armed man in the near future: 1) The weather has been moving steadily toward pleasant and I didn’t want to end up with my pool covered all summer, and 2) we have a car that he needs to work on that he might as well have some shade for in the meantime.
The frame was up in a couple of hours, but then we had to go for my birthday run. So, naturally, the next day it was pouring rain. But Greg wanted to attach the fabric cover. I think he is suffering from a pre-surgery “get-all-the-things-done” syndrome, so I humored him. He tried to humor me, too. Once I concluded there was nothing I could say to make him be more careful on the ladder or walking along the hood of the car, I went ahead and laughed at the buckets of water pouring down the back of his sweat shirt.
You see, the cover had to be pulled out of it’s folds and up over the top of the frame. Anytime a fold was present for more than a few minutes, it collected enough water for, well, a cold shower. My main job was to hold one corner so that the whole thing wouldn’t blow off again, and give a little pull once in a while where needed. I got to walk on the car hood once, too.
Then, there was a moment of calm. We had muscled the cover to the center top of the frame. Greg needed to move the ladder. I asked if we should tie anything down and he said, “I don’t think we need to.” The words were hardly out of my mouth when a huge gust blew the whole thing off again…
Fast forward to two nights later. The portable garage was all covered, but we hadn’t used the ground anchors. Greg had arrived home at 11 PM from a business trip and we were trying to sleep. But the wind was howling and Greg had said something about wondering if we needed to tie down the thing. About midnight I realized that I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I went out to do that, so I left him in bed, grabbed a flashlight, and headed out to the dark and deserted side yard.
It was easy enough to unzip the cover and get in out of the wind. The sound of the fabric slapping and popping with the pressure of the storm was disconcerting, but I managed to put it out of my mind. I found the end of one of the ropes that was holding the cover to the frame and picked it up. Images flashed through my mind of it at any moment turning into a windsail. Would I get a horrendous rope burn or be carried to parts unknown? I proceeded to tie the end of the rope to some large piece of metal behind a tire. I was very thoughtful about making several tight square knots. I stepped back to evaluate and briefly wondered if the car was heavy enough. There was about 8 feet of slack in the rope still. Then, I stepped outside and turned to zip up the door.
Something large moved beside me, causing me to emit a strangled gasp. Fortunately, it was just Greg, but I was still tempted to slug him just to relieve my tension. He thought I had heard him out there, going through the barn looking for sturdy rope. It turns out that it hadn’t taken him very long to be concerned about how I might tie the rope to the car.
I proudly showed him what I had figured out. He laughed and gently said, “It would be better if it was tied so that it didn’t turn into a kite.” His method was to tie the ropes (there was another I hadn’t noticed) to two different tires. Also, each connection had two or three sections, each pulled tight and retied to a part of the metal frame. The portable garage would only be moving now if the wind was strong enough to lift a Ford Taurus.
The bottom line is that he with his 1.5 arms is still worth about 10 of me with 2.0 arms. The portable garage/pool cover was still in place in the morning. I don’t think that he would have had as much fun out there at midnight if I hadn’t been there, though.