with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

The Transformation

Yesterday morning, I came back downstairs after a huge family breakfast at Terry and Lisa’s home. Brent’s mother asked, “What happened to the glamor lady?”

Looking down at my bleach stained, holey pants and grease smudged torn t-shirt, I explained, “I’m trailer trash now.”

It’s a funny comment, but it is the truth.

Our life is now on high speed transformation between looking good for the visiting relatives and racing out to the trailer to repair and replace almost everything in the trailer.

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday, giving time for those flying or driving into town to arrive and get a little settled. While we came from the furthest distance, Brent’s Uncle Gordon and Aunt Ruth came from Montana and others drove up from all parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Some of the youngest cousins Brent hadn’t seen since they were tiny babies, so it was a big shock for him. For me, most of these people were old acquaintances met along the way for the past 10 years, but almost all of them strangers I felt I was meeting for the first time. Some are thicker and thinner than they were, but for the most part, they seem a lot happier than I’ve seen them before, and this is a good thing.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent getting food ready for the Friday dinner, held at the church’s rentable halls, since few people’s homes could accommodate all that food and all those people, with area for the children to play basketball and chase each other around. There were 34 adults and 9 children. And food for days.

Brent made pumpkin pies from scratch that were heavenly (yes, I’ll get you the recipe) and I made a really good potato and pumpkin roasted veggie dish with garlic and rosemary. I also made Christmas Cookies from the new recipe I posted last week, and they all turned out great, but I turned out bad in the cookie decorating field. I had to put things away twice in the decorating process, which probably had a traumatic effect on my design skills and the frosting, but I declared them better than a four year old could do and just let them be as they were. I either obviously need more practice, or I’m hopeless in the cookie design business.

On the trailer, we finally got the water hooked up and put a little bleach into the system. As Brent went around checking things, I started to scrub out the kitchen sink with its little rusty stains and massive gunk. But the water pump kept running on and on, so we knew there was a leak somewhere. I finally found it in the “basement” near the pump. Brent went in with towels and a flashlight and discovered that the toilet was leaking fresh water. Eventually, the toilet came out (about 9PM after more back and forth between the house and the trailer and Thanksgiving family eating and events) and Brent figured out that we needed to replace a part rather than the whole toilet. So early Friday, he dashed to the RV shop and got the part, then back to pick me up and race to the church and Thanksgiving luncheon. Friday afternoon, after eating way too much food, though I was very good (Brent wasn’t), we were back in the trailer, out of our dress clothes and digging in the toilet to replace the broken part. Brent got the whole thing back in, only to discover 1) the toilet seat was broken, and 2) the damn thing was still leaking. He pulled it out again and found that the instructions weren’t specific regarding a tiny spring he’d found in the process that had come off, and without that little spring, the valve won’t stay closed. So he fixed the spring (guessing), and reinstalled the whole toilet again.

Brent struggles with the kitchen faucet in the messy trailerOnce that was working, we discovered that the kitchen sink faucet, the one still waiting after three days to be rinsed from the 30 second scrub I gave it, didn’t work. Brent took it apart, cursing, and eventually discovered that the water came into the faucet fine. It just didn’t come out the faucet. He blew on the faucet and water sprayed back out the open handle area, and poked and prodded, deciding that we had to buy a new faucet and pissed off because the kitchen cupboards are so small and narrow (and deep – wasted space) that he really can’t get into them to the faucet. It took almost 6 hours to install this one over 8 years ago, so he was not happy about wedging and twisting his even larger body into the tiny hole.

I asked him to put it back together and try again before buying a new one. He told me he had taken it apart and put it back together twice already with no result.

“Was that before or after you blew through the faucet and cleaned it out?”

“It doesn’t matter. It won’t work.”

“Was that before or after you blew through the faucet and cleaned it out?”

“It won’t work. I have to buy another.”

“Brent, answer the question. Was that before or after you blew through the faucet and cleaned it out?”

“Before. But it doesn’t matter. It won’t work.”

“Put it back together and try it again.”

“I’m wasting my time.”

“Good, because you are wasting mine. Wouldn’t it be easier to put it back together and try it again to see if it will work than spending money we don’t have on a new one and hours we don’t have to waste.”

“Fine, you think you’re so smart.”

He put it back together and it worked like a charm. Yes, there are times when I am “so smart”. Thankfully, I got a hug and kiss as a reward instead of a pout that I was right and he was wrong. He’s used to being wrong and having me be right…it’s easier that way.

The water pump went back on to test the system and I thought “yeah, I can finally clean the sink out!” and the pump kept clicking in over and over again.

Brent discovered that the bathroom sink was leaking now. He told me that all he needed to do was to get a new end screen piece for the bathroom sink and it would stop leaking. I shook my head and took the piece out of his hand. “And why would it stop leaking?”

“The end piece is filled with gunk and the water runs out sideways from the faucet.”

“And this has what to do with the end piece?”

“Well, it needs to be replaced.”

I blew out the small screened piece with my mouth, little bits of gravel blowing into the sink, and screwed it back in place.

“Let me see if I understand. The bathroom sink leaks because of this end piece, right? Yet, it leaks when the faucet is turned off and the end piece is off the faucet. I don’t see what the two pieces have to do with each other since the water is stopped by the knobs and not by the end piece.”

Brent squats in our tiny bathroom repairing the bathroom faucetHe stomped into the little bathroom and together we discovered that the seals around the handles were rotted. Now, we could have just replaced the seals, but we decided to just replace the faucet since we have hated it since day one. So off again to the hard ware store nearby.

We found a decent single handled faucet for USD$38. The next step up was $58 and I tried to get a salesman to help us understand the difference even though they were basically the same. But he was a slow talking southerner, telling stories along with selling, spending 20 minutes with each customer instead of 2 minutes. So I gave up waiting after the fourth story. We decided on the cheaper one.

At the trailer, we discovered that this one had been returned, so we had to go through, piece by piece, to make sure all the pieces were there. Two seemed to be missing, but there were others that looked similar enough, we felt it worth of trying. Unfortunately, after trying, Brent found a manufacturing flaw. The cold water inlet pipe was too close too the restraining mount screw and you couldn’t bolt it to the cabinet without bending and moving the copper inlet pipe away from the screw, something we didn’t have the equipment or the patience to do, since it would also mean realigning all the pipes under our tiny sink in a the tiny cupboard space.

Brent rebuilds the pipes in the bathroom to accomodate the new faucetHe packed it all up better than we got it and returned it. Found there was only one other box of the same faucet and it, too, had been returned with the same flaw. So he bought the more expensive version, which looked much better, and returned to the trailer to give it another go.

Four hours later, we had it installed after taking the entire sink out and making another trip to the hardware store. We needed to replace the putty that held the sink in place in the cabinet and found our RV putty was dried out. So Brent told the guy at Lowe’s hardware what he wanted and was doing, and the guy said, “I always use Plumbers Putty.” So for less than two dollars, Brent got the plumbers putty and back at the trailer, read the instructions which said, “Do not use on plastic.” Well, we have plastic pipes, plastic sink, and everything is plastic in that trailer. Brent just cleaned up what was already on the sink and made that work, since it was still good enough. Damn.

We got it all installed and then found leaks at the joints that send water from the inlet to the shower. These have a copper T going into plastic, a nasty combination once messed with from the original. It was just after nine at night so Brent called it quits. We’re going out this morning to hopefully finish this.

And my kitchen sink is still not rinsed. It should be REALLY clean after all this sitting for days on end, or all the enamel will have peeled off from the cleanser.

I’ve put away a lot of things, but more in piles than “away”. While Brent is working in the bathroom, I can’t get to the bedroom or hall closets. So I make piles on the couch of bathroom and bedroom storage stuff. I can’t put the kitchen stuff away because everything needs to be washed out and there isn’t any water. So it sits on the floor around the sink and fridge and table, waiting its turn in the process. Hopefully today the water will finally be working and I can start 8 hours of washing dishes and cupboards. Then most of the clutter can be put away.

I still have to go through the stuff we moved into the storage unit and clean that up and possibly bring that to the house. Brent wants the storage unit empty so our stuff from Israel can fill it first and then the rest of the storage stuff can go in. We also have to get our bikes out and into the trailer for transporting.

I have to pack up all the stuff here at the house and get it loaded and put away in the trailer. On Monday, Brent has to get the truck fixed (we have two gas tanks and the switch over valve isn’t working – probably clogged) and we are leaving on Tuesday. It is now Sunday. Think I will survive?

Lorelle
Tulsa, Oklahoma

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