with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

More Crazies and I’ve Been Shot

I’ve actually found ten minutes to add something to let you know how we are doing and what we are doing. First, we’re doing fine. If you believe that, I’m sure there is some property somewhere along the Gulf Coast of the US that we can convince you to buy – it’s a clear-it-and-build-it-yourself kinda deal.

What are we doing? Hell if I know.

Brent didn’t go to work yesterday and so we spent the day fighting, fixing, hugging, and fixing, and fighting, and fixing. Our nerves are on edge and news of two new hurricanes building up in the Atlantic doesn’t help. I found out this morning that they aren’t coming near us, but the fact that they have names still freaks us out. Zelda is getting closer and closer to getting use as a hurricane name.

We have been near to empty in the refrigerator for almost a week, so I jumped out early to the grocery store to get food and came back to Brent finally setting up the permanent sewer drain system for the trailer. Upon our return more than three weeks ago, we planted the trailer 3 inches short of our fixed PVC pipe sewer hose and had to order new parts and pieces to extend it, since we didn’t want to move the trailer, again. The new addition contains a flexible hose (my idea) so we can have a little more fidgeting room when it comes to parking the trailer. We’ve been hauling around 30 feet of accordion style flexible hose for the past three weeks every three days when we have to dump the tanks. What a pain.

In the process, Brent tried to stand up too soon from under the slide out and caught the corner in his lower back, punching a big hole in his back. Furious, since this isn’t the first time and he knew better, he yelled at me to get alcohol to wipe it down. I took a look and went and got hydrogen peroxide, knowing that was the better solution since the skin wasn’t torn open, just indented with a minor abrasion. When I came out with the peroxide, he threw one of his rare fits, and with a lot of stomping and yelling, stormed into the trailer and grabbed the alcohol and tried to rub it on himself. It opened up the little protective skin layer and now he has a huge hole in his back that will take longer to heal and maybe even scar. Men.

After he stomped off his anger, he apologized, but explained that he had first aid training in the scouts and from his mom and alcohol was used on everything. I reminded him that I had years of medical training in the hospital emergency room and more advanced medical training than his scout stuff or his mother – trump. Besides, you don’t use a crowbar on everything. You use the right tool for the right job and in this case, he made it worse by using the wrong tool. I checked it this morning and while there is no sign of infection, it’s pretty nasty and will start to bruise up today.

This is just another sign of how tense things are. This would have been a non-event. We’re used to things breaking down and cutting and pinching ourselves as part of the work. But the frustrations around us are catching up with our nerves, what is left of that last one.

After fixing the sewer connection, and trying to track down the leak under the kitchen sink from the connections to the new hot water heater, and trying to figure out what is going on with our electrical system that keeps going out, Brent deal with the other sewer problem we’ve been having. He climbed on the roof and put a metal “snake”, a twisted metal cord, down the air vent for the black tank (sewer storage tank) to try to knock down whatever was in there that was blocking the air flow. When we flush our toilet, smelly sewer air comes back into the bathroom, no matter how fast we open and close the valve.

He dug around with the drain snake to scrap out anything that might be blocking the air tube for a few minutes. I was getting ready to get in the shower to clean up from all the sweaty work and had to flush. I heard a gag and a thump on the roof.

I yelled out through the shower ceiling fan vent asking if he was okay.

Brent hollered back that he’d just been hit with a face full of sewer gas.

“Well, looks like you cleaned out the vent then.”

He didn’t laugh.

I came out of the shower and took one look at the living/kitchen/dining/office area of our trailer and wanted to scream. I’d just cleaned everything up two days ago when I had a few minutes free between jobs and problems. Now, everything was a shambles. Many people think that living in a tiny space means it’s easier to clean. It is but it’s easier to mess up. Live in a big house and you have more space to spread your mess. In a little tin box like what we live in, a paper clip on the floor takes up the whole floor.

I had to head up to the office, so I did one of my famous “screw it” comments and left.

The insanity continued up in the campground office. People needed this and that and more help on their computers and questions and then a woman came in to pay for three nights, even though her husband and their new trailer wouldn’t arrive for three more hours. Would that be okay?

I told her that I would be here and help with whatever they needed. She told me 14 times how they were totally new at this and didn’t have a clue what they were doing. First ever camper and first ever time to do anything like this.

No problem, I assured her. Charlie laughed. “She’s a veteran. You’re in good hands!”

The woman stared and giggled. Yes, little ole me is a veteran of all things trailer, camper, and tent. I’ve done just about all of them and a few in between.

When she and her husband returned, he confirmed their newness and inexperience, though he had driven big rigs and horse trailers, so driving this thing and parking wasn’t a problem. Figuring out how to set it up and make it all work was.

Then I saw it.

Most people work their way up to big rigs. They start with campers, travel trailers, and slowly move into fifth wheels and eventually into the much more expensive but easier to use motor homes. Their first purchase is a 37 foot, 4 slide out fifth wheel. A monster of a trailer. It’s like a mobile home on wheels. Huge, heavy, and built like a house.

He parked it fine, and then late in the night with the rain pouring down, I went through the whole procedure of how to set it up. They didn’t know where the buttons were, didn’t have the right equipment, but managed to pull it together. I’ll write more later on what they should have done to help others in the same situation, but it ended up that an hour and a half later I’m in their brand new (new car smelling) trailer helping them put together a shopping list of things they needed to get tomorrow, after they catch up on some much needed sleep.


I returned to the office and another typical Abbot and Costello routine was just getting started. Who needs to pay for entertainment? Helping out in the campground, I get it for free.

Brent and I learned to see through the veneer of most Israelis over the years to see past the tough, arrogant, asshole surface to the family-oriented, extraordinarily generous, brilliant humans below. In many ways, we’ve missed that cocky arrogance. A week ago, a young man I would have sworn was Israeli arrived under the guise of studying to be an insurance adjuster. We’re not sure what he is doing, but Charlie and others are really sick of his arrogant attitude. For me, though, it was just a taste of what I’d been missing. I still wanted to slap him, but I knew where it was coming from. Overconfident insecurity.

We’d had our little ego go around last week and he’d stayed shy of me, realizing that I’d seen past his BS. He wasn’t comfortable with people knowing his game. That was fine with me, but there he was sitting in one of the big “man” chairs in the mobile home that serves as the campground office.

The television was still twisted over in my direction where, hours ago, I’d been trying to find out about the two new hurricanes boiling up in the Atlantic. He’d changed the channel to some football game. The volume was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think. I was exhausted, so I just started to pack up my untouched laptop and head home. Then I realized that he could barely see the television, but he wasn’t moving it.

I went over and asked him, talking over the television, if he had eye trouble. He asked why. “Because you are watching the side of the television and not the front.”

He mumbled something politely that I was able to partially hear that basically said that if I had been watching a show, he didn’t want to interrupt and that he’d let me switch it back. I didn’t buy it, but let it go and switched the television around so he could see it. He sat back with a little hazy grin on his face, his mental masturbation of legal violence in front of him.

Just as I made my last pass through the rooms, locking doors and turning off the lights, another camper came in and sat down to watch the television. They spoke for a moment and then he asked, “Do you have a hearing problem?”

The kid replied no.

“Then turn the damn thing down.”

I just laughed to myself and headed out the door, leaving Abbot and Costello to their testosterone.

I swear, when I got back into the trailer, the mess was even bigger than it had been. Brent told me he’d thought he’d fixed the leak under the sink, but that there was still more water and he couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. He’d given up. I was a sweaty mess so I showered and fell into bed.

I was up early the next morning, cleaned up, checked Brent’s bandage, and then headed up to the campground to cover while Charlie and Diane headed off to church. From the moment I arrived, more insanity. The crew to clear out the tree debris alongside the road finally arrived. WEEEE. But their cranes and trucks were blocking the road. Shady Acres Campground is on a peninsula so once you turn down the street, there is only back, no thru. Campers heading out couldn’t get out through the workers equipment, and traffic piled up in the campground driveways as they waited for the equipment to be cleared.

Another newbie, this one in a very expensive motor home, showed up, didn’t listen to directions, and ended up in a bit of a tangle. When I got him straightened out on where to go, I waited for him to go through the neighborhood and come around. Already I’m having nightmares of losing another camper in the neighborhood, so I jog down the street and finally see the huge motor home make the turn towards me, so I race back to my position to direct him down to his camping spot. I find out that the tree workers were also down in that part of the neighborhood culling dead trees off power wires and out of trees hanging dangerously over the road, and their tree cutting and cleaning equipment blocked that circular road, too.

I returned to the campground office into more questions and problems. I ran around here and there, covering the entire campground in an hour, sweat pouring off me, even though the morning was cool for a change. So much for a quiet Sunday morning. Charlie and Diane arrived back with their Sunday donuts from Krispy Cremes, and I chatted for a bit and then headed back home.

The trailer was no cleaner than the night before, unfortunately. Brent had headed off to his second job for the day and Kohav sat on my desk chair demanding attention. I paused for a moment, dreamed of bathtubs, long soaks, and lovely smelling herbal aroma therapy soap. Then stripped to my underwear and put on rubber gloves and started cleaning.

In the process of cleaning things out of the fridge and restocking our root beer supply, I started to close the door when I heard a small explosion. Instinctively, I twisted away but something smacked me on my lower shoulder blade. I looked down and saw a cap had shot off one of the root beer bottles. I was pissed and opened the fridge and grabbed the bottle before it could spill sticky root beer all over the fridge. I dumped it in the sink and reached down to pick up the metal bottle cap. As I pitched it in the garbage, it bit me.

I looked down and blood poured off my hand between my thumb and finger. I stuck it under water and cleaned it off to find a good cut, but not serious, on my hand. Crap. I picked up the bottle and found that part of the glass neck had actually broken off. A glance in the garbage found that about an inch of the glass neck was still attached to the cap. Then I started thinking about where it hit me.

I ran in the bathroom. The mirror is really high and I usually have to stand on my toes to see my neck. I twisted around and could only see the top of blood on my back. I called Charlie, and then my brain kicked into gear. While Charlie was a fireman for his entire life, and he’s seen just about everything, the last thing I needed was for him to rescue me in my underwear. It might be nothing, or it could be something worse, but I still had this creeping inhibition that I thought I’d lost a long time ago. So I asked for Diane to come down here and help me.

She came running and once she cleaned it up, she told me that it wasn’t more than a deep scratch. Like the cat had caught me sliding down my back. She cleaned it and bandaged it, and then fixed my hand. We laughed over the fact that I’d been shot by a root beer bottle. Got to watch those root beer bottles. They are a dangerous group. Nuts.

So now both Brent and I are walking wounded on our backs. We get zits in the same place, when his knees hurt, mine hurt in sympathy, when I get a stomach ache, he gets indigestion, we’re like twins or clones. Now, we both have cuts on our back. What a team.

So how are we doing? Fine. Still interested in that property along the Gulf? It’s got a water view – but only every few years or so.

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