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the idealist and the ice rink


Yesterday I got the bright idea to create an ice rink in our back yard.

I should explain that I am an idealist. My husband is a realist. We have documented proof of these labels. We're Catholic and when we took our "compatibility test" before we got married they scored us on a bunch of different topics. We were pretty much a 90 percent or better match on all categories except two: Money and Idealism vs. Realism.

So I'm the one who says, hey let's paint the kitchen this weekend. It'll be fun and we'll be done by Sunday morning. And he is the one who says, it's going to take a lot longer than that. We have to tape everything off, we have to move the refrigerator, the kids are going to get into everything, etc.

That's when I start painting a wall and quickly get bored and he finishes everything for me. We're a good team like that.

But back to my skating rink. My dad gave us a pair of my sister's old ice skates on Thursday for my oldest daughter who is really into ice skating. She can't actually skate, but she wears socks in the living room and glides across the hard wood floors. So she thinks she is a bonafide figure skater.

When I picked her up from school that day she saw the skates in the car and immediately whipped off her shoes and put the skates on. In the car. When we got home, she had me hold her hands so she could "skate" her way to the front door. We have a little bit of snow and ice on the ground right now, but the tips of the grass still show through sporadically on the lawn. She declared loudly for every neighbor in a three-block radius to hear, (mind you, as she's leaning on me for balance) "I'm skating! I'm skating!"

At that moment, she reminded me of Bill Murray in "What About Bob" when he's tied with rope to the mast of the sail boat and he yells, "I'm sailing! I'm sailing!"

So I decided we could make a skating rink in our own back yard with minimal effort. First I had to buy a plastic painter's tarp to put on the lawn so the water won't seep into the ground (even though I think it's probably frozen).


But then I realized a slight wind will make the tarp dance crazily in the back yard. I found a couple errant screws and one nail, grabbed a hammer and nailed/screwed it into the ground. (That's right; I used a hammer to pound a screw into the ground.)


Now comes the fun part. I forgot to bring the hose inside, so it was frozen. But that didn't stop me. I brought it in the basement and screwed it into the faucet of the laundry sink. Yes, in the process I brought a bunch of dried out leaves into the basement and created a new mess, but that's just a casualty of war. Now I had to figure out how to get the hose from inside the house out to the backyard. We have a glass block window with a screen directly above the faucet.

Check, baby. This is going to be easier than I thought.

However, the screen is screwed into the frame. From the outside. A minor set back, I'll just go outside and crawl under the deck to the window and assess the situation, I thought. Now the ground under the deck is uneven and covered with small white rocks. The height of the space under the deck, due to the uneven ground, is roughly two feet and at some spots just 1.5 feet high.

So I got on my hands and knees and struggled with the rocks digging into my knee caps. I made it to the window and saw that there are two screws, one on top and one on bottom, of the screen. I made note that they are Phillips screws and backed out from under the deck.


I retrieved the Phillips screw driver from the cabinet inside and contemplated the rocks that were digging into my knees. Then I remembered my middle kid was playing with the Princess knee pads that came with her helmet. I found the knee pads, strapped them on and crawled in comfort back under the deck. Yeah, I felt like a middle-aged motherly MacGuyver. And yes, I was proud of myself. I unscrewed the bottom screw and created a space for the hose to fit through the window.


Back inside to the sink. I threaded the hose through the screen and went back outside to retrieve the hose from the other side. I dropped the hose onto the tarp and went back inside to the sink. I turned on the hot water full blast and ran outside to the hose. Let the fun begin!


I stood there for about five minutes, looking inside the hose, trying to put my thumb over the end to create a spray with the non-existent water. Nothing. A couple more investigative looks into the end of the hose yielded nothing as well. I went inside to check out the faucet. Sure enough, the water is flowing and it's trying to forge its way through the frozen hose.

Yes, that's the key. The hose is frozen. That's why the steaming hot water is sputtering out of the top of the hose where I have screwed it into the faucet. Hmm. I let the hose run for half an hour to no avail.

Finally I admitted temporary defeat and turned off the water, pulled the hose into the basement, closed the window and returned to the comfort of the living room. Clearly the hose needs to thaw out.

Check in progress.

Now, between you and me, I want to be done with the Ice Rink Experiment. I gave it the college try, I invested an hour or two into this endeavor and it was more involved than I originally thought it would be. But my oldest kid is jacked beyond belief and this time my husband wants no part of the experiment.

I have concluded that it's time to step up and be a man, as it were. Today I will have my six-year-old crawl under the deck to thread the hose outside and I will spray a layer of water on the plastic tarp.

Never mind that the ten day weather forecast says we're going to hit 44 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow and 50 degrees on Wednesday.


2006-12-09 at 8:21 a.m.

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