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Keith John Paul Horcasitas

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Pool Adventures
By Keith John Paul Horcasitas
Monday, January 04, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Short story about the joys of owning and maintaining a pool and a fun story about a neighborhood incident with kids and a raccoon.

Pool Adventures

As we have just entered the winter season and have even had our share of “cuddle alert” nights as Michael Graham used to note when he was the weather forecaster on channel 9 and the temps were dropping, I’m already looking forward to getting back to my swimming days in the backyard. I miss my once or twice daily swims that are such a stress relief and fun – especially related some memories of a neighborhood incident.

I cover our pool usually by early or mid October, since we have many trees in an adjoining property towards the back of our house, so I try to prevent as many as I can from getting into the pool. Another thing we’ve learned over the years is to plan JP’s swimming birthday party for early September instead of waiting till the end of the month when the water gets too cool.

I never really learned how to swim that well as a kid in New Orleans – even though we would usually go swimming frequently at the gigantic Olympic sized pool at Tulane University where my dad had graduated. Since we have been in this house with the first pool I ever had, I have finally begun to be able to free style swim normally.

When we first moved into this house, I had told my wife that we would have to get rid of the diving board, as I had been led to believe that would be such a liability. As is has turned out, with an almost 9 foot deep end, the diving board has been such a benefit. And there was no difference in the insurance with or without the board. One of the rules that I have been able to strictly enforce is that the only place that someone can dive into the pool is per the diving board. This helps me keep kids from jumping in from all over the pool.

And I learned an easy way to keep my pool clean without having to use those “Polaris” and other type of devices. Besides getting the pool treated weekly with just the chemicals by a company, I do a quick cleaning every few days as I go into the pool. I’ve found that it is very easy to use a hand held net when I go underwater that can collect the leaves and other debris. I also only need to run my filter about 5 hours a day.

After heavy winds or a storm like Gustav, it takes me quite awhile to clean out the pool. The cover I have is canvas like tarp material, so I only use it in the winter and do not set it up for storms. Anyway, I usually have to use my long nets to get out the leaves and have to manually remove any branches that come into the pool. Since my pool has a liner, I always hope that it doesn’t get ripped by any sharp objects.

Recently, one of my neighbors filled in her pool, so she gave me a generous supply of her chlorine tablets that she won’t need anymore. It was amazing to see how much dirt it took to fill in her pool. In addition, since she didn’t need the pump and other recently acquired equipment, she allowed me to take them, which will come in handy in the upcoming season as my filter was getting old and had sprung some leaks.

In the past summers, when our children were younger, we would usually invite their friends from the neighborhood for a swim with us. Occasionally, there would be situations where a teen or “tween” would have to be excluded from this swimming invitation per some minor altercation that may have recently occurred by them. We rarely had any “retaliation” or prank behaviors from these kids that may result in something like someone egging your house or toilet paper draping of your trees like I’ve seen done in other neighborhoods.

One morning, when I was going out to the pool, I saw something next to the pool steps that didn’t appear to belong in our backyard and was too large to have come from our former poodle, Raphie, after taking care of business to get a treat! The next day, I saw some more of this item but now it appeared in the pool on the steps.

I really have to admit that I thought that “Joe,” a teen who used to live in our neighborhood, had decided to make a statement about my having excluded him briefly from swimming at our house for some misbehaviors on his part – he had a reputation for being outlandish at times. I did think also that one of the rather large dogs could have possibly gotten into our yard to produce what I’d found, but that was less likely, since I keep the gates locked securely.

That night, as I have the habit of going out to do chin-ups every night using the swing set next to our pool, I happened to notice a raccoon standing in the pool at the first step and stopping over to drink water! I was stunned! It finally dawned on me who was the culprit for what I’d been thinking was a prank from Joe – the raccoon! Who said that raccoons couldn’t be domesticated?

I had never heard of those critters going in pools before then but then remembered about some other neighbors who had actually previously put out one of those baby pools in their backyard for the raccoon family that lived in the forest area behind our neighborhood.

While I can’t wait to get back into my swimming days again soon – usually by late April if the ground hog has failed to see his (or the raccoon’s) shadow – I hope that critter who left his marks on my pool and spurred me onto unfairly judging my neighbor has found some other swimming accommodations!
Keith John Paul Horcasitas, LCSW, MHA, 1133 Knollhaven Drive , BRLA 70810,, December 27, 2009.

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