20 December, 2010

Mel On Wheels?

It's official. I'm livin' in a camper. My home ... where I live ... full time ... has wheels on it, and is pretty tiny.

Things still aren't really finished. But, progress is being made. Since my last entry, I ran out of propane on one of the coldest nights of the season. That, of course, caused the camper to freeze. (The upside: I learned how my propane tank system works.) The freeze lead to a pipe bursting behind the toilet. I thought that all of the plumbing had been replaced with PEX piping. Rather, all of it except the pipes behind the toilet had been replaced. In order to replace those pipes the plumbers would have had to remove my shower, toilet and half of the sink unit to access them. So, when the water thawed following the freeze, I noticed a sudden gushing of water coming from behind the toilet. With an incredible sinking feeling, I turned off the main water valves and rushed to the campground office where I found Tom, and promptly begged his help. He obliged, thankfully. He sleuthed out the problem, found the source of the leak, and, with my permission, cut through some of the fiberglass behind the toilet to see where the pipes were actually located. Luckily, they were just behind a little storage compartment behind the toilet. That meant the plumbers should be able to cut through the back of the storage unit to reach all of the pipes, and could thread the new pipes in from under the sink. Genius! When the plumbers came out to replace this last section of pipes, I also had them install a new faucet for my shower with a new shower head. (The old one sprayed very softly and in many directions. The new one is aerated, has great water pressure, and sprays where it's supposed to spray. Yay!) I wasn't able to be present while the plumbers were here, but when I got back, I realized that they had installed my new kitchen faucet for me free of charge and without being asked. This was due to Jim being kind enough to talk his son (one of the plumbers) into doing this. It was such a generous gesture, it pretty much restored my faith in the kindness of people. (I'd had the faucet for about a week, but hadn't gotten around to installing it.) The only downside to that is that after using it a couple times, I am discovering that the faucet I chose has a spout that is too short to be of much use when washing dishes or filling pans. So ... I am thinking I am going to have to replace it again. However, I will put that faucet in the lavatory, so that all my faucets will be new and shiny. I'm going to try to find a kitchen faucet with a pull down sprayer so I can move it around as needed. But, at least I can use my kitchen faucet until I do all that.

Earlier this week, I had to make another trip to 'beyond Greensboro' to pick up the new shower hardware before the plumbers came. While there, I talked to the Airstream lock repairman. When I told him what was wrong with my door handle, he kind of grimaced and said that my issue was the most difficult and expensive one to fix. When I asked him what he would do in my situation, he suggested just buying a new handle/lock unit. He gave it to me on sale, but it was still almost $500. Yikes. What I thought was going to be a simple fix, turned out to be simple, but expensive. Oh well, at least I can open my camper without reaching through the window now. And I can lock it properly when I am away, and lock all the windows. So, I guess it was a good thing in the end. I picked up some curtain hardware while I was out there. The only kind available is the kind you sew into your curtains, but I am going to see if I can get creative and make some kind of tabs that attach to the track sliders so that I can easily change out my curtains should I want something different later. (For those of you who know me, you know how I like to rearrange my furniture every few months or so. Since I won't be able to do that in the camper, I figure I can at least change out my curtain fabrics!)

I spoke to my seamstress who graciously agreed to rework my cushions for me. I am still awaiting two of them, and then will have one more to drop off to her. That last one will be the one that I won't be using all the time. (It makes the spare bed.) So, once I get the two from her that she currently has, I will have all my finished cushions in the camper. I can't wait. I'm tired of having the ugly contact-papered plywood surface where the other cushion will go.

Still, things are taking shape, and I'm starting to feel really cozy in my Rosy.

I even think I have things stored in such a way that everything has a place and nothing feels squished. It's really nice being here. And I know that if I'm enjoying living here in the midst of all this chaos and disorganization, then I am sure to absolutely love it when it's all settled. What a way to ring in a new year, eh?

Happy holidays to all of you, whatever you choose to celebrate!
Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

06 December, 2010

Faith, Hope & Trick

So, I am inching ever nearer my move-in date. As of now, the furnace works, the plumbing plumbs, and the water heater heats water. As the repairman was finishing up his work on the furnace and water heater installation, he pointed out a little something that he noticed during his work. Turns out my kitchen faucet leaks. And it doesn't leak at the spout into the sink. It leaks at the base, so that the water then runs under the sink and drips down onto my baking pans (which would be the shelving had the pans not been there.) So ... I will need to replace my kitchen faucet before I can use it. Luckily, the plumbers put in individual shut-off valves for the faucets, so I am able to continue using the rest of the plumbing without causing water damage from this leak.

Other than that, I just need to repair the door latch and find some curtain hardware that will actually work in my rig, and I can move in for real! Hooray! I can't wait.

I am suspecting (and hoping) that the door latch will be relatively easy. I am also going to attempt to replace the faucet myself. I've done it before, and the repairman said I shouldn't have any problem doing it. I have to make another trip to beyond Greensboro to try to locate the appropriate curtain hardware. I had intended to go yesterday, but, lo and behold, it snowed! And here in the South, even! While it put an added delay on my moving, I couldn't really be too upset. I love the snow!

I am second guessing part of the slipcovers I commissioned for my cushions. I am going to see how much it will cost to have it changed. It is important to say, though, that this is no fault of the seamstress, but, rather, my not being able to see things pulled together until after they are created and in the space. I'll not go into too much detail on that now. Will reveal more once I hear back from the seamstress.

So, all in all, this labor of love is almost ready to embrace me back. Let's hope it doesn't smother me.


PS: 5 points to anyone who can decipher the reference of this entry's title. :)

01 December, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Rosy the Argosy

Well, I'm not quite sure where we last left off in our story of Rosy the Argosy. I think in the last episode Rosy had just been introduced, and placed in her new home. Well, much has been happening in her saga since then. Let's see if I can recap briefly ...

After much debating about how to get Rosy from her old home to her new home (due largely to the fact that I neither have a towing capable vehicle, nor do I know how to drive such a beastly duo yet), I agreed to pay the seller to tow it here for me. We agreed on a day, but he declined to set a specific time stating that he never knows when the mood will strike him to hit the road. I asked him to call me when he is about an hour away from the new campsite. He mentioned that he may get a wild hair and head out at 5am - which would put him here at about 9:00am at the earliest. I set my alarm for 7:00am. I was awakened at 6:00am by the seller saying he's already arrived at the campground. He had apparently called me an hour earlier, but I slept right through it. No one was there to let him park the rig. He called the owner of the campground, and had some kind of awkward conversation which lead both parties to divulge to me, later, a slight dislike for the other. I finally met him out there. We finally hooked up with the campground manager, Jim, who helped us get parked and settled. The seller went over a few minor pieces of information about the rig, got paid, and returned home.

After connecting the power, I checked all the outlets and all the lights. They all work. YAY! I connected the water, and, with the help of Jim, got all the sinks, the shower, and the toilet working. YAY! I did a round of cleaning with my sister, and left for the night. When I returned the next day, I noticed a sizable leak in the plumbing system. UH OH. I turned off the water until I could have someone take a look at it. It's old copper piping. The downside: Not many plumbers will work with copper. The upside: Jim's son works with a plumber who does. I made an appointment for them to come take a look.

Meanwhile, I had a guy come out to take a look at the furnace. The campground owner, Tom, had already taken a quick look at my water heater, and discovered that the pilot assembly was faulty. The repairman replaced the pilot assembly on the water heater. That's fixed. Then he removed the furnace ... after much elbow grease and moans and groans and some nice passive aggressive comments aimed at me for my ridiculous insistence at buying an old airstream-made rig. He took the furnace with him to see if it will work properly with a mere cleaning or if I will have to replace it. He says he thinks he can just clean it, but can't say for sure. I am really hoping he can. This was just before the Thanksgiving holiday, so I won't be hearing from him until later this week.

When the plumbers came out just before the holiday, they tried welding the piece of pipe that was leaking, but it wouldn't take. Copper pipes, for those of you who don't already know, can get swollen and bloated over time. Once that happens, they will no longer fit together. This is the case here. So, the entire plumbing system needs to be replaced. Rather than removing the old copper, though, they will just put in a new system made of PEX. Apparently, this PEX piping is wonderful in that it can get old and freeze and such, and still fit together beautifully. It's either this, or not have any water in my new home, so I agreed to the work. The silver lining is that the furnace is already removed, so they will have ready access to the plumbing.

Monday, the plumbers started work. They were supposed to start in the morning, and be finished in a day. However, they got caught up at another job in the morning, and weren't able to make it over until late afternoon. They came back and completed the job today. When they got it all finished and turned on the water - and I started getting all happy and thinking about how wonderful it would be to start really moving into my new home - we discovered that the water heater has major leakage. It needs to be replaced. That's right: The water heater that I just had repaired has to be completely replaced. Good times. (Apparently, they couldn't test it before with full water pressure since I didn't have the plumbing fixed, so no one noticed it was leaking.) Tom called up Camping World (a large camping supply store located just this side of Winston-Salem) to see if he could get me the campground's discount on a new water heater. He arranged for them to hold it for me, and I'm going there tomorrow to pick it up. He also called up the repairman who has my furnace and arranged for him to come remove the old water heater, and install the new one ... all at a lower price than the plumbers quoted. The repairman, Dave, will be coming out on Thursday or Friday to do this, and will have checked out my furnace in the meantime. So, when he comes, I will also know whether or not I have a working furnace, or need to get a new one installed.

You might think I'd be pulling my hair out by now, but I'm not. Not yet, anyway. I must admit that I am glad this is all happening now - before I get moved in, and while I still have money. Now, once I do move in, I can trust that all the big systems are going to be working well for a good, long time.

Yesterday I went to the fabric store to get the upholstery fabric. While there, I asked the lady helping me if she knew of anyone who made slipcovers for large cushions. Turns out, she does. She has her own side business, and does just the work I'm needing. She showed me some sample photos of her work, and she seemed to really know what she was talking about when I was asking her questions about the fabric, so ... later that day I brought my cushions to her. She's going to make removable slipcovers for them with corded trim. And she's going to try to get them to me as she gets each one done, so that I can have something to sleep on as soon as possible. (Of course, we arranged all this before I knew about the water heater situation.)

I also bought my outer curtain fabric yesterday. But I can't make curtains until I get the hardware for them. Lowe's didn't have any, so I'm just going to get them at Camping World while I'm there. I will also need to get two new propane tanks there. In addition to everything I just disclosed, I also learned last week that my propane tanks are so old they are actually illegal to fill now. (This really sucks since they seem to be in fine condition, and I hate to waste them, but I will need propane, so they will have to go.)

So ... that is the update for now. I realize it was not as brief as I had hoped. But, among all the trials and tribulations, I am still really excited about getting moved into my little camper. And it's even nicer knowing how well everything will work when I am finally able to do so.

Cheers for now!

PS: Please cross your fingers and send good vibes that everything else works like a dream on my camper. I am trying to stay positive about all this, but I am tired of forking out money on this b*tch. Thank you.

PPS: I'm typing this on my new computer. It rocks.