Saturday, June 06, 2009

Saturday Soliloquy-- Pool Packin' Mama

This is the time of year that proves I'm a true desert rat who happened to be born in the wrong state. I live in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, home of single-digit humidity, 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and sunlight so fierce you can get burned in well under five minutes.

I love summer.

I thrive in summer.

I lived here for fourteen years with no type of central air conditioning whatsoever except for my favorite: my swimming pool. It is without doubt my favorite place to read. One of these days, I'm going to heat the thing so I can sit in it and read no matter what the calendar or the weather forecast says.

The dedicated pool reader doesn't just put on a suit, grab a towel and a book and head out. Oh no. The dedicated pool reader should pack carefully. Here. Let me show you.

First of all, choose a sturdy tote bag that's washable, has at least one inside pocket, and is preferably in a bright-colored print. If you're a solo pool reader, you really don't need a tote big enough to haul a five-year-old child around. This is about the book and the pool and the basics. You're planning to be relatively unconnected for the next couple of hours, okay? And what was that about the bright-colored print? Just in case you're called out of the pool unexpectedly and you gaze longingly at it through the window hours later...the bright print will show up and remind you that you forgot to bring your tote inside.

Since I sit in the pool on a seat underneath the shade of an umbrella to read, I actually have to swim out to my perch; therefore, some sort of towel comes in handy for drying off the parts of you that will be touching the book. Water-damaged books are a no-no.

Once summer really gets cookin', there's not all that much bug activity around my pool. The sun kills 'em, and if I don't sound unhappy, it's because I'm not. I've never been a fan of having anything with more than four legs walking around on any part of my body. Once in a blue moon, I do have something that tries to hitch a ride on the back of my neck, so I pack a bottle of insect repellent to let them know that if they choose to hitch a ride on me, the fare is going to be pricey.

Arizona is one of the best places in the world to get skin cancer. I don't get out in the pool until about 2 PM because only "mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun." I sit in the shade, not only of an umbrella but of trees as well, use sunscreen, and I still wind up with a good tan by season's end. (No, not the type of tan that's going to make me look like a piece of badly cured leather in my old age!)

I always pack a flyswatter. You may think I have it in for bugs, but-- believe it or not-- I usually use this to bail out drowning insects. Or I wave it back and forth in front of my face to dissuade an inquisitive one. I'm of the Live and Let Live School. If they leave me alone, I'm more than happy to return the favor.

I might have a book that makes me lose track of reality, so I always take some sort of timepiece out with me. My timepiece of choice happens to be my cell phone. Not only can I program it to call me back to the real world, I can also use it to call my husband and ask him to stop at Subway on his way home. (The book might be very, very good, you know?)

Not much to say about these. The sun is super bright here, and I just gotta wear my shades!

Okay. I've protected my skin, my eyes, now it's time for my head and my hair. I hate wearing hats. The only times I've ever been persuaded to put one on is when it's either cold enough for my ears to snap off from frostbite, or when I can hear my brains sizzle in the heat of the sun. I live in sizzle country, so I wear a hat. Not only does it protect my brains, it also helps the L'Oreal last longer....

I'm the type of person who always has to have some sort of pen and paper close by in case inspiration strikes. may only be something to add to my grocery list, but at least I have something in my tote on which to write it! I've gotten some ideas for blog posts out in the pool, too. (See how the notepad coordinates with the tote? You gotta think of this things!)

This is what I call my Martha Stewart touch. I bought several terracotta saucers from a garden store and needlepointed inserts for them in bright colors. No matter how much condensation your drink container may have, the saucer will protect your surfaces, and if the needlepoint insert gets dirty, throw it in the washing machine and then let it air dry. I let the saucers stay poolside (unless there's a rare rainstorm) and just bring out the inserts to pretty them up.

Of course, if you're going to have a coaster, you've got to have something to put on the coaster, don't you? This desert climate calls for a good insulated container, your beverage of choice, and a chunk of ice. Reading can be thirsty work!

I'm always seeing interesting wildlife in my back garden, so I always put my camera in my tote. It never fails: the afternoon I don't put my camera in the bag is the afternoon a jaw-dropping guest stops by for a drink at one of the bird baths or fountains!

You've read this far and are probably convinced that I forgot the most essential ingredient. Yeah. Right. 'Course I'd do something like...forget to pack my book! Normally I only pack one, but if I'm almost finished with the book I'm reading, I'll also pack the next in line. On rare days, I'll pack 4-6 paperbacks that have been sitting on my TBR shelves so long they've got roots. Sitting out in the pool gets rid of a lot of little distractions, and I can conduct a "detesto test" of this group to see if some are going to be passed along to the next reader forthwith, or if I'm going to move any of them closer to the top of Mt. TBR.

I'm all packed now. Time to head out to the pool! What? You want to see my pool and my favorite reading spot?

That's going to have to wait for another Saturday!


  1. Can't wait to see your pool!!!

    Over here in the UK the sun just isn't out - it's grey and raining today.

  2. I don't have a pool, but I do have a shady deck. Great post. But move on over, cause I'm headed your way with tote back in hand.

  3. GREAT post! I feel more relaxed just reading it.

    And...I immediately noticed that the notebook matched the tote. I am coordinated like that :)

  4. My sister and I were going to go read at the park this afternoon, but it's cold and cloudy with threats of rain here, so that's out. Looking at your pool packing list made me insanely jealous though!

  5. Can I just say that this post actually makes me want to go out to the pool this summer, and I HATE getting wet? You've inspired me! Ha. :D

  6. What a cliffhanger you´ve written. A whole week of suspense!

  7. I'm with Dorte!

    We are officially in winter here on the east coast, so I am doing my cat thing: finding an indoor puddle of sunshine and curling up with my book.

    But now I'll definitely be looking at my pool for reading potential next summer.

  8. I want to live in Arizona!!!

    Its summer now in Denmark, and last weekend we had wonderfully high temps, blue skies and lots of sunshine, but then it went downhill and has been cold, rainy and windy since then. Arrrgghhh. Today is not much better, cloudy sky and windy.

    When I visit Egypt during summer, people always ask me if I am totally crazy, because its a hot place to be, but I also love the heat down there, and since Egypt is also a desert-country, the humidity is not bad and its possible to be outside even when its really hot :-)

    Looking forward to see your pool!

  9. I would think a pool is a must. Very cool pool bag and accessories, especially the coaster.

  10. I'm not a big pool person, but you make it sound like such fun! I love that the sun kills the mosquitoes, though. I could take the heat for that, I think.

  11. I like the pool, but I don't like wearing a bathing suit. I was hoping to see a picture of you sitting in your pool.

  12. Hope you got some reading done out in your spot! I'm not much for the heat which is why I'm so pale lol.

    Ha! I just got your title! Yeah, I'm a little slow today...

  13. Margaret--I had family from Milton Keynes visiting here for two weeks, and they spent hours out in the pool. The 11-year-old wants to move here!

    Beth--You'd be more than welcome!

    Molly--I'm glad I'm not the only one who coordinates! :)

    Kim--I certainly hope your weather has improved!

    birdbrainbb--Wow! I didn't know I could be that inspirational!

    Dorte--I imagine you'll deal with it quite well. You're a mystery lover after all!

    Louise--Not everyone loves the heat, sunlight and low humidity. But we both know we're not crazy!

    Jenny--I'm glad you like my coaster. :)

    Kathy--A photo of me in my bathing suit sitting in my pool? You are a comedian, girlfriend! ;)

    Jen--We all have days like that. (And I'm lucky if it's only one day!)

  14. I love this! haha! My tote of choice this year isn't very colorful (might have to buy a more colorful one now that I've ready your post) but it is from a bookstore and has a book on it.

    I love spending time in the pool during the summer, so happy I have one. I prefer to either read or nap. Oh can learn to nap on a raft and not fall off.

    While I don't want our filter to stop working (cost) it is 20 years old and a tiny (well..rather large actually) part of me hopes it dies soon so I can get a salt-water filter and solar heating panels. Life would be great with solar heating. In Missouri - I pretty much can only use the pool 3 months out of the year - I'm hoping to move that to at least 5.

  15. Kris--Oh yes, I'm very talented when it comes to sleeping on a raft and not falling off. I just try not to do it because I'll fry if I'm out in the sun very long. I have to think of a way to anchor my raft in the shade! LOL


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