with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Working Weekend

The list of chores and things to do and fix on the trailer seem overwhelming. But we got up early and started plugging away at them. Brent will probably be working Saturdays any moment now, and I was thankful to have him for two days to help get the heavy stuff done.

Over the week, we’ve been working on fixing the leaks for the hoses. Leaks cost money, so having the connectors and water filters water tight is critical. Unfortunately, the washers were all dried up and hardened, and a couple of the hoses were rotten from exposure to the elements. So we replaced what we could and worked in the dark with head lamps to track down the leaks and replace the connectors. But we needed more. So it was off to Home Depot to get more parts and pieces.

During the week, we’d made an evening run to WalMart to buy a short 10 foot hose and a water regulator, which reduces the water pressure before going into the trailer, protecting our flimsy plumbing. A day later, we can’t find the bag with the hose and regulator. I spent the next two digging through the remains of everything, keeping an eye out for it. Nothing. So we had to make another trip back to WalMart to get another one. We can’t figure out where it went. The trailer is only 30 feet (about 10 meters) long and a few feet wide. There aren’t that many places to lose things in.

Anyway, Saturday was spent tearing apart one of the bedroom windows and the back “kitchen” window to replace the window cranks. We raced over to two RV shops Saturday morning to pick up the parts and a few other things we needed, a pain since they are only open from 8-5 during the week and from 8-1:30 on Saturday. Not decent hours in any way shape or form. Bad business, folks.

The window cranks are a bitch to get off. Called “window operators”, these things were not designed for easy removal. They are a small metal crank box with a small gear shaft. A long metal pole is braced across the window and you turn the small crank to rotate the window out or in. The metal pole is put in using a combination of screws and rivets, so you have to cut the rivets off (and replace them with what, we’re not sure) to get the pole out. You can’t get the crank out until the pole is out. Brent fought for hours with the bedroom window (his father and I had worked on it for a couple of hours in Tulsa, too) and finally got it fixed, thank god for the Dremel.

He decided to completely remove the back window from the trailer, so for most of the day I had a completely unrestricted view outside into the trailer park. I told him I wanted it replaced with a bay window so I could put my plants in there. He laughed. Weakly. Just what we need, another three feet or so hanging off the back of the trailer.

I worked on running the cable and telephone lines to the trailer, in preparation for the upcoming hook ups. And I spent hours trapped in the hallway sorting through suitcases of clothing and odds and ends, trying to figure out what to keep and toss and what to put away, since winter isn’t high on the agenda here in Mobile. Though it is supposed to get cold, maybe even to freezing in the next few days. I believe it when I see it, as I wipe sweat from my eyes.

I also worked on laying away and sorting the bathroom stuff. We had added cotton balls and cotton swabs to our shopping list earlier in the week, stocking up, and I found a plastic sealed container of each back in the deep recesses of the bottom cabinet. Damn. They were tightly sealed and in the dark, so they are still good. One of the few things we can still use in the trailer after five years of weather and exposure. I also brought the bug repellents to the front of the cabinet after digging and scratching at the four mosquito bites I already have since arriving. Ugh.

Finally the window was put back on, though we will need to run to the hardware store again to get some new screws. Most of the screws Brent removed from the window were so rusted, they broke off or were unusable. Not a good sign.

So he decided to take a look at the water system. He replaced all the connections with new ones and put it all back together, and then turned on the outdoor shower to clean himself off (and the outdoor shower, which was covered with mildew) only to find the thing leaking like a water fountain. “Tomorrow,” he informed me, and went to work on other projects.

Sunday, I pumped up the bike tires and test drove them around the campground. It feels strange and wonderful to be back on a bike again. Love it. I look forward to doing some rides around here, though I’m not sure where, it is a lot safer than our campground in Greensboro.

We worked on tons of projects, inside out, and by evening, Brent had another list of things he needed from Lowes, so off we went. We were in Lowes Hardware for at least two hours, hunting and searching to fill our list. Brent obsessed over the parts and pieces for the shower while I wandered over getting new light bulbs and other odds and ends we needed. I passed by the bird feeders, thrilled to look at the new models (National Geographic has come out with a new line of bird feeders – very cool), and paused to over hear a young couple with a child deciding on a cutesy little bird feeder, more ornamental than useful.

“I wonder what kind of birds would use this?” The wife asked.

“I don’t know but it’s cute,” the husband tried to be helpful.

I couldn’t resist. That’s just me. I have to jump in when ignorance reigns.

“Actually, this style of bird house will feed the squirrels faster than the birds.”

“What do you mean?”

“See how the roof lifts up with this flimsy catch. Squirrels will figure that out in a minute and lift it up and eat the seeds. Birds aren’t very fond of house looking bird feeders, either, especially without good landing pads. Only the smallest birds will maybe use this. It’s to look pretty in the garden rather than to feed the birds. Do you want pretty or do you want to feed the birds?”

“Oh,” the wife grins, thankful for my help, or just being nice. “We want to feed the birds.”

“Good choice.”

“But we don’t want to encourage the squirrels.”

I looked through their inventory. “Then I recommend this one with the cage around the outside of it. The birds can get through, specifically the small birds, and the squirrels have a tough time. Or,” I climbed the nearby ladder and handed down a larger one. “This one is actually better. My mother has one of these and it works great. When the squirrel gets on it, its weight pulls down the outside casing, closing off the holes. It reopens when the weight is released. A bird’s weight don’t bring down the gates.”

“But its so expensive!”

I looked at the tags. “Yes, it is, but remember, you aren’t buying this for a few months or even a year. You are buying this for years to come and enjoy. My mother has had hers for six or seven years. Forty dollars over five years is eight dollars a year to enjoy. Just clean it once or twice a year since the seeds can dry and catch in the mechanism.”

They thanked me profusely and I was on my way, leaving them to debate. They told me I should work there. No, thanks, but nice thought. Later I saw them heading to the check out with that bird feeder in hand and a nice metal cane pole to hang the feeder on. I do hope they enjoy it for a long time. We’re destroying the habitat for birds, so I love it when people invite birds into their home.

Brent finally decided on the correct o-rings and washers for the shower and we headed home just before they closed. But it was too late to work on the shower, so he’ll get to that tomorrow night after work.

I’m so exhausted I can hardly move my arms and legs, let alone my fingers, but I wanted to update you on some of our hard work. There are still stacks of boxes and stuff but they are shrinking and slowly being put away. We have definitely lightened the load in the trailer, through technology as well as by giving up on some of the pleasures we felt compelled to enjoy that just weighed too much. All my crafting stuff, fabric, and arts and crafts are in storage or tossed. Most of our books are in storage except for a few regional books to help us explore the area and Brent’s bird book collection to help him identify what he finds around here. Our music collection of CDS is in storage and most of them are in MP3 format. I have only a few exercise videos and the movies are all in storage, too. I’ve also scanned tons of paper, receipts, warranties, and instruction manuals, except for the most critical, and those are all in storage.

It’s a lot of work and there is still more to do. Wake me when its over.
Mobile, Alabama

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