3 Symptoms of Pool ec-SUN-tricity


My partner Sara says I have pool issues.

In fact, she blames my inability to tolerate intense heat as an adult on my easy access to swimming pools as a kid, pretty much insisting that a personal history of pool privilege has caused me to develop a myriad of sun-and-swim-related eccentricities.

Mind you, I use the word “swim” loosely, as recently my pool access has been reduced to this:

So, for your enlightenment and an opportunity to see if you, too, suffer from some form of this same sickness, I identify below the symptoms that most express my personal version of ec-SUN-tricity.

1.       A Maladaptive Obsession with Pool Placement

According to Sara, I’m overly obsessed with the relative position of my pool in our rather small backyard.  Though I may be more concerned than your average suburban lap swimmer that my pool be on a flat surface for an activity like dog bathing, this matters more than most might imagine.

Sara says any sane person would ask why, when bathing my dog, I get in the pool but leave Ralph standing on the stoop.  Yes, it may be odd to pursue canine cleanliness from a kiddy pool to begin with, but I want my pool sitting on a flat surface since sitting it on a slanted one, inevitably, causes water to pour over the edge of the pool’s down-hill side.

However, my primary concern about pool placement is the impact it has on sun exposure, since sun both warms water and, obviously, maximizes tanning opportunities.

Heck, it’s even important to place ones feet on the edge of the pool, so they, too, can tan.

God forbid, my feet fry unevenly.

2.       An Unusual, even Odd, Preoccupation with Time

If you’d like to perplex your partner as much as I do Sara, while simultaneously optimizing tanning opportunities, it’s important to remember that certain times of day enjoy more direct sunlight than others.  Schedule your sunbathing accordingly.

When we lived in Haiti, Sara said she found it strange how I would insist our Saturday grocery shopping not overlap with optimal sunbathing hours, especially since these outings were so important in Port-au-Prince, where, for my own safety, I was housebound much of the week.

However, Sara now says she finds it even weirder that after all my effort to perfect the details of tanning’s time and place, I rarely spend more than 30 minutes in the sun.  This, she insists, is the most bizarre of my already decidedly strange temporal preoccupations with the sun.

3.       A Hoarding of Sun Accessories

But the reason I spend so little time outside is because sunbathing is inevitably boring.  So to minimize this boredom and maximize the amount of time I can tolerate the inactivity associated with sunbathing, I gather a number of diversionary items and set them beside the pool.  These recreational alternatives to nail-biting and nose-picking, that I hope will  keep, at least, my mind occupied, while my body sits still, include, but are not limited to magazines, gum, smart phone, books, beach towel, tank top,, Kindle, Coke.

Sara mocks me mercilessly about these items, as she says it takes more time to gather and arrange them than I end up spending outside to begin with.

Worthy of mockery or not, I developed these ec-SUN-tricities, at least according to  my partner,  because I had the privilege of perpetual pool access during childhood  and, therefore, didn’t develop alternative means of coping with summer heat.  I, not surprisingly, however, look at these matters a bit differently.

I would argue that my behavior is based on a struggle with bipolar disorder, that. since light normalizes mood, I have developed these eccentricities as a way to enjoy the emotional benefits of sunshine while simultaneously avoiding the health related threats of heat stroke—a decidedly sane option.

However, to contextualize these issues historically and economically, in addition to psychologically, it’s important to remember that up until 40 years ago wealth and middle class privilege limited access to swimming pools in the US.  In fact, though public pools in this country no longer discriminate against people of color, we still see vestiges of segregation here in Kentucky, where swimmers at most suburban public pools are white and middle class, while children from poorer neighborhoods are forced to cool off in downtown fountains, where free fun is guaranteed.

Thoroughbred Park, downtown Lexington, Kentucky

So, though I may behave obsessive compulsively when it comes to summer sunshine, I suppose, I should be grateful to, at least, have a pool, of sorts, and, to not be swimming in a public fountain, one that local kids have probably peed to the temperature of bath water.

What ec-SUN-tricities do you use to handle summer heat?  Does classism still impact access to  swimming pools where you live?

88 thoughts on “3 Symptoms of Pool ec-SUN-tricity

  1. I totally get this! I pack a cooler even if I go out to the pool for 1/2 an hour. My pool bag includes: 50+ sunblock, books, reading glasses, sunglasses, gum, a water spritzer and my hat. My cooler contains: Ice, diet Dr. Pepper, water, watermelon and sometimes another snack like cheese or cucumbers.

    And, sadly, because of budget issues, many city pools are closed …

    I love your pool and how you make the most of it (positioning, etc).

    Enjoy! MJ

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  2. Love your little pool. Gotta cool off somehow, right?

    I love to laze in the sun. If I had my way (and someone to babysit the kids) I’d be laying on the grass in my front yard falling asleep. Being in the sun completely recharges me, I don’t need to bring anything outside, I just go and sit there to meditate. I try to soak up as much sun as possible because we have six month long winters here where you can’t even go outside.

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    • Oh, yes, those winters must be bad, indeed. No wonder you want sun while you can get it. I have no idea what it is about sun that rejuvenates, but it seems to do the trick. So sad it’s not good for our skin, right?

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  3. I just avoid summer. When it gets too hot in Australia I go to Italy and vice versa. I never sun bake.I fried myself when I was a child growing up at the beach and I have had several episodes with sun spots and I want no more. I want to keep what skin I have left.
    I love your pool!

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    • You have the best of both worlds, Deb! Wish I would manage such an arrangement for myself! I wonder why it is that some folks can tolerate heat and others can’t. I find it curious. Great to hear from you today!

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  4. I haven’t had the little pool in years, but I was in it all the time when I did. I’m sure I spent more time in the kiddie pool than my kids ever did. I’ve had an occasional pool fantasy this summer……..

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    • I think that may be the case more often than folks realize–that parents spend more time in the pool than the kids. It’s silly how little it takes to make me happy–a few inches of water and some sunshine! LOL

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  5. Air conditioning and gin, though your pool is very tempting.

    Of course, we still deal with the same segregational issues in Charleston, though the city’s public pool is very close to our place and is neither white nor middle class. My biggest gripe with Charleston policies right now is basketball courts. Below a certain street downtown, it is an unspoken policy that city courts only have one net, reducing them to half court games rather than full court games that might attract certain ‘undesirable’ elements into the more affluent neighborhood parks.

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    • I can imagine you might have issues like that in Charleston. But the half court thing is sad, isn’t it? Interesting that the public pool in your area is not all white. I suspect it has to do with where in the city the pool is located. Thanks for reading, ANdra!

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      • The half court thing makes me downright mad. It’s racism and elitism, pure and simple. And, you’re right about the pool. It is located near low income housing (also near where I live) and thus caters to the people in close proximity.

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  6. I’m very tempted to get one of those kiddie pools. I’d be joined by my dogs, however. It looks quite relaxing and I need more of that, not less. I’m heading out to battle the voles in my backyard soon, which entails digging trenches.

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    • Oh, no, digging got me into big trouble! If you look back 6 weeks or so on my blog, I have a post called “The Debaucle of Ditch Digging after 50.” You may need a pool after you tackle that job! Thanks so much for reading!

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  7. You forgot to mention how cute you are in the pool. I laughed out loud at all the things you gather for a 20 minute sun soak. Perhaps you should keep them in a wee basket and just have to pick up one article on your way to ‘the pool’!

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  8. I do try to get a certain amount of sun every day – for exactly the same reason as you. I’m less tempermental and bi-polar evil if I walk the dog twice a day. But I also lavish myself with sunblock if I’m going to be out more than ten minutes. I NEVER had to do this when we lived in Lexington. EVER. But down here, half an hour in the sun is a sunburn even for someone like me who NEVER burns. It’s amazing how 500 miles can change one’s behavior. Hell, when we were in Tennessee over the weekend, my Mom didn’t bring my niece’s sunblock, and the poor child scalded after an hour swimming. I do think your rituals could be misinterpreted as strange. But mostly, they make perfect sense to me.

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    • Oh, I’m sure they are downright stange! Let’s face it. But at least I can laugh at my own strangeness, right? I’m with you about the exercise, as well. It helps keep me moderately sane–though Sara might argue, not sane enough! LOL Here’s to sanity, my friend, right? (But it’s the SUN that’s evil, Jessie, not the bipolar you!)

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  9. This has nothing to do with bi-polar disorder…show this to Sara- SARA YOU ARE WRONG!!! 🙂 I have my own sun eccentricities. I will go out in the sun. I must wear my sunglasses otherwise my blue eyes. I will lay on a towel only because if I sit in a chair, I will get lines on my stomach and my shoulders will get too much sun. I must have something to do because I don’t want to sit there and sweat. I measure the mark of a good summer by the flip flop tan on my feet and if I have an earring and ring tan also. I tend to not go out for longer than 30 in my yard either. Kathy- rock on with your bad sun-worshipping (for only 30 min) self! I got your back!!!

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  10. OMGolly that was the BEST!!!! I am glad you are trying to keep your brain occupied to limit your nose picking time. I love the pictures. I laughed out loud (at work shhhhhh) when I saw them. Not that you look funny, no, really, you don’t. I love the color in your lives. I love the fun in the tormenting. Sun bathing is boring. Swimming and playing not so much. But I’m pretty sure your pool keeps swimming laps pretty dull. Thank you for making me laugh. 🙂

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    • Yeah–I try to keep my lap swimming to a minimum. Wonder why! So happy to hear you got a laugh–and even at work. Bad girl–but we won’t tell anyone will we? Truly–so happy you laughed, my friend! Yippee!

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  11. I go through a similar routine when sitting outside on my patio – the gathering of everything I could possibly EVER need! lol Then I last about an hour, for one reason or another, and end up hauling it all back inside again! I love the pics, Kathryn! Especially the last one of you! Simply adorable! And lastly, I think Sara, although charmingly (?) practical, does have some valid points! lol Love to both of you! xoxo Julia

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  12. Sun, we here get too much of it. We place our pools in the shade!!! and yes, we are particular about the spot! loved the post. And as someone here said…. you look really cute in the pool 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for your comment. I’m wondering where you’re from. And thanks for thinking I look cute. It’s got to be the fact that the pool is so insanely undersized. LOL Great to hear from you today. Hope you’ll come back soon.

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  13. Kathy, I am laughing hysterically! I could hardly finish reading your words; it was so funny. Such a tiny little pool. I thought you were going to share about your lovely condo pool or something…and we were all going to drool, wishing it was within our swimming toes. Loved this! Splashing in spirit with you, Kathy 2

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  14. Hi Kathy,
    I’m grieving my brother’s untimely death. Reading this post and viewing the images brought back many backyrad paddling pool memories. I too love the sun, and the kiddies pool I allow people to think is for my little dogs is actually for soaking my feet. lol 😀

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  15. Herein lies my beef with the Pacific Northwest- not enough sun. I had to turn the heat on in the car in July, couldn`t swim in all that water in Seattle without a wet suit, and was unable to wear shorts during the summer- I told Spouse this Southern girl was headed to warmer parts. ENJOY!

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  16. Reggie and I are jealous of your pool! It’s not easy to find access to pools here in NYC. There are plenty of public pools but they are overrun with kids from summer camp – not exactly my idea of lazing about for an afternoon in a refreshing pool. Enjoy your pool, and your very bloggy get together. Wish I could be a fly on the wall for that!

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  17. You and your little red toes! I admire that you are brave enough to swim in your little pool! I’ve often threatened to do it, and, truth be told, if I were thinner I would! I’m hoping in a couple of years to get a pool for the back yard because I am a water dog from way back! I’d be in there until I was pruned up through winter. My fair skinned, used-to-be-red-headed, freckled self can only handle moments of sun. 30 minutes would fry me like an egg. Could you imagine the kittens my PITA neighbor would have if I started swimming in a kiddie pool? LOL, talk about incentive!

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    • I love you and your comment, Sista! You totally crack me up. I bet Jim would bring one of those pools home for you! Shall I ask him for you? LOL At any rate, any chance you could come to KY next week? Tori and Lisa are coming on Tuesday for a Very Bloggy Get Together–can you join us, by any chance? AND check your mail. I sent you something!

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      • Oh how I wish I could come to KY! My oldest niece’s bday and my youngest niece’s baptism are next week. I may be murdered if I miss those, not to mention lose my aunt card. It sounds like so much fun, though! Have a great time! My mail? Email or snail?

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      • SNAIL–Defintely SNAIL. Sara and I figured you would be offline and need some good, old-fashioned mail–to make up for the online loss. Alas–you caved! Actually, I’m gald. Kind of missed your online presence. Sorry you have birthday-baptism obligations next week. Next time, my dear. Next time!

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      • YAY! I love snail mail! It always feels like Christmas! You will be getting some snail mail, hopefully soon. I’m just too slow at accomplishing things with my honey badgers under foot. I’m so excited! (Secretly, I’m five years old inside. Does it show?)

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      • OMG! I just got it! How awesome! Did you make it yourself? If so, share how you did it! That was so cool. Jim will probably frame it! You two have made my day!

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  18. Nothing I do over here can possibly top you bathing Ralph from the vantage point of a kiddie pool. I noticed Lucy wanted no part of the dog and Kathy show. Was she buttering up Sara in pursuit of extra treats?

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    • See, I’m the true mistress of lame adventures! Didn’t realize that, did you? No, I know you’ve been catching on for a while now. I do LAME better than most! So glad you got a laugh out of the photo of me bathing Ralph!

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  19. Growing up in Hawaii, I had ready access to the ocean. And to this day, I cannot tolerate heat. I’m trying to figure out whether those two facts are somehow related? Seems counterintuitive – you’d think I, of all people, would be quite comfortable frolicking about in the sun. Go figure.

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    • Oh, the ocean tops baby pool, doesn’t it? Talk about pulling out the big guns, Mark!

      I have NO idea what makes some folks able to tolerate heat. It’s a mystery to me. I’m the world’s biggest whimp in that arena. And to think I lived in both Vietnam and Haiti!

      Hope you’re getting along okay this week!

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      • You will not believe this … I found my purple inflatable foot bath and I filled it with cold water, and, AND a huge bag of ice! I have a bit of sunstroke and this is a big relief! 😉

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      • OMG–congratulations! That’s perfect–plus purple is my favorite color. Too bad the purple photo challenge is over. Thanks for sharing. I’m chillin’ with you here in Kentucky, my friend.

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  20. You are hilarious! The dog bathing method is the best part – I know there’s method to that madness, but I don’t expect to know what it is. I was allowed at the public pool and spent most of my childhood summers there. Maybe this is why I can’t tolerate the heat. Interesting.

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    • I suspect, just between the two of us (and we won’t tell Sara), that your inability to tolerate heat has more to do with being from Canada, than any pools you might have visited as a kid. Dare I suggest such heresy? LOL

      Great to hear from you, Rose. Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!

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  21. Funny stuff, Kathy! I was as befuddled as Sara (I love her!) until you mentioned mood. I know my sanity depends on regular exposure to daylight (though, unfortunately, my skin wasn’t designed for it.) Then all your rituals made a quirky-kind-of-Kathy sense (Except the dog dog-bathing process. I’m still dying to hear the logic behind that one.) and I enjoyed hearing about them, especially accompanied by your usual clever word-play and fun photos.
    Tori

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    • Gosh, I wish there was a logic behind bathing the dog with me in the pool and the dog outside. I suppose, it has to do with only bathing Ralph outside when it’s very, very hot, and wanting to stay cool myself while getting him clean. Plus, I then bath my smaller dog Lucy in the pool itself, and don’t want bathing Ralph to dirty the water, when it’s actually easier to rinse Ralph with the hose.

      Glad you appreciated the humor, Tori! Great to hear from you today!

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  22. LOL! I should show this to my husband who thinks it’s weird that I have to take a wide range of accessories with me when I go out to the deck (and the Scooby Doo kiddie pool for when I don’t want to swim in the pond). A book, something to write in, something cool to drink, a hat, a towel, a cover-up for when I’ve had enough sun, etc. Because I don’t like the heat and I have very fair skin, 30 minutes is enough for me too. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. 🙂

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  23. I certainly don’t blame you for wanting to have a plethora of things to do while outside soaking up some rays!! I remember when I was a teenager, I decided to try sunbathing (to see what all of the fuss was about), and I was BORED!! I felt like dinner cooking in the oven – plus, in Michigan, we have such awful humidity, I was extremely uncomfortable. So, I pretty much gave it up. I’m about as pale as they come… but hey….. that’s healthy for my skin, right?? 😉 Seeing your photo of kids playing in the water reminded me of one of my recent trips to Chicago, watching the kids run back and forth between the towers at the Crown Fountain, shrieking with laughter! It looked like so much fun!!

    BTW – LOVE your watch!! 😉

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    • Oh, thanks. Got that watch at a place called the People Tree in New Delhi, India. They have a website that I think might ship stuff to the US, but I’m not sure. And, yes, it is LOTS healthier for your skin! Great to hear from you today, Holly!

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  24. In case you haven’t figured out by now, I am catching up.

    I haven’t gone regularly to a pool since my kids stopped wanting to go years ago. I did enjoy those lazy days though.

    On beach vacations now, I stay in the shade as much as possible, but I do carry with me a large assortment of necessary items similar to yours. 😉

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    • Good for you on attempting to catch up. I’m afraid I have given up and only plan to keep up from here on out. Is that a cop-out? Probably, but I just read too many blogs. Oh well, wonderful of you to try. I commend you, and SOOOOO appreciate it, Christine!
      Hugs,
      Kathy

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      • Well, “catching up” might have been a little misleading. I scan through my google reader at post titles and pick and choose which ones I most want to read from each blogger. Then I mark the rest as “read,” clear the slate, and move on. I actually subscribe to your posts on my email, so I see them everyday and keep them there until I can read them. Just because you are such an interesting person, excellent writer, and loyal follower. 🙂

        (Have I laid it on too thick?)

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  25. Love that photo of you at the bottom of this post, Kathy! I used to spend a lot of time in the sun when I was younger, but now I do so begrudgingly. My job keeps me in the full-on sunshine for up to 14 hours a day, so now I relish every opportunity I get to stay in the shade (or even– gasp!– indoors!)

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