The minute I laid eyes on the house my hubs and I call home, I knew it was mine. It was different — squat, brick bunker. Round in front and flat on top, it looked like a pilothouse on a laker ship.

A flat roof in northern Wisconsin? Not only exotic, but brave.

My little half-round cottage came with some very interesting features. I do not jest when I call it a bunker. I’m convinced that the builder and first owner was a survivalist. The well is beneath the concrete foundation with the pump in the laundry room — along with a functioning hand pump in case of power outages — presumably long power outages.

And the concrete and mortar? I’m not sure what builder guy used in his mix, but he should have a patent on it. I’m no stranger to demolition, and I’ve taken down a few brick fireplaces and half walls with a sledgehammer. But taking out a seven foot section of wall in this house, to open an archway into an addition, required jackhammers.

One feature that excited me was a backyard swimming pool, just an old, above ground model, but seemingly in good shape. It sat about 25 feet from the house until we built the addition and added a deck around the pool.

This pool dates back to the 1980s — a fact I discovered when we had to replace the liner the first time and found the top rails were so rusted underneath they fell apart as we moved them.

I found the name of the manufacturer on the filter outlet, searched out the company on the internet and called customer service.

“That pool is still standing. I’m sorry we don’t make replacement parts for it anymore.” This was in 2004 or so.

We’d purchased a new sand filter for it the year before, a sizable investment. Not to mention if we cut our losses and took the pool down, there was the 15-foot diameter hole in the deck to contend with.

So began the months’ long quest to find a substitute rail system. It ended with steel channel clips and pool noodles I slit down the middle and pressed over the top of the clips. Don’t laugh — it works, and the bright colors lend a nice topical flair.

Over nearly 20 years, we’ve cobbled the pool together many times in many ways, but this new liner is the last time. Standing in 2 feet of ice cold water, working (as in hard labor) the wrinkles out of the bottom and aligning the side walls is too much for this aging body.

When I was in high school, I told my friend I was going to be a famous author and live in a mansion with a pool. He could be my pool boy. I’d write late into the night and we’d enjoy cocktail hour and eat jumbo shrimp by the pool every afternoon.

As soon as I closed on my little brick ship house, I called my friend.

“I just bought a house with a pool in the backyard! Pack your bags.”

He wasn’t convinced he should quit his day job.

Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of “Sins Of The Fathers,” a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at