FL Snowbird Diary Entry 2: New Roles Waiting Patiently & Being a Handyman

As I said retirement is a distinct change in life, a redirection. Having worked for 27 years hard and fast, being laid back, having nothing but time is quite a drastic change for me. Mom used to say, “Sue Ellen is burning the candle at both ends, broken it in half and is now burning it in four directions!” I will testify I miss working, and being busy!

Now, helping family has become my charge in life and I am happy to oblige my mom who has always done lots and lots for me and my family. Today we thought the cable TV man was coming so we were up at 7:30 getting my fold-away bed out of the center of the living room so he would have room to work. After three hours of waiting and no cable guy, we called. The appointment, it turns out according to them, is tomorrow! Oh well, all we have is time! No rush – just no TV or Internet yet for any of us!

Thank goodness I have my handy, dandy iPhone – it has helped me keep busy with the long drive south and the intermittent waiting. Ask anyone who really knows me – I don’t sit around doing nothing at all very well! I am busy doing something even with a favorite TV show or movie on. I take after my MamaGrandma and my mom like that. Multi-tasking is our middle name!

During our wait on the cable guy mom discovered the black water handle was broken off and she could not open the plug to release the toilet water. Mom, having had Pennsylvania friend Denny near them for years, stopped carrying tools herself. Denny always took care of every little thing. Today we missed him a lot!! I asked mom to call him to come!! We surely wanted him to know how much we appreciate all he has done in the past!

So now, here we were and mom calls me to help her fix it! Have you ever seen the movie with Robin Williams, RV? He had a terrible time with the black waste water and as I came to Mom’s rescue & took over the job, horrors of his ordeal worried me just a tad!

Mom’s ONLY tool besides a screwdriver with multiple heads inside the handle was a pair of channel locks. I had on my newest white jeans but down on the ground I went, and under the RV slide-out to tackle this rather minor, yet potentially VERY hazardous job! Beginning my process of analyzing the problem prompted me to find another aid, a flashlight! That helped me see what we were up against.

The science, physics & engineering teacher came out in me I want to redesign that whole area of of the RV. The handle had come unscrewed from main value plug. The main valve plug was behind a 4×6 inch rubber facing. Mom had been trying to put the handle back on through the rubber flaps. I removed one of the screws holding the rubber cover in place and rotated the rubber around out of my work area. When I could see the main valve stem, inside a 2×3 cut into the metal wall of the RV, I discovered it was in the upper left corner located such that it was going to be very difficult to use tools there.

I attempted to grab the metal valve stem with Mom’s channel locks but it just was not going to work! As I worked I thought about Storey Musgrave, now retired NASA Astronaut from my home state of Kentucky. Storey once shared that his most helpful lessons in preparation for his space walk repair missions were under machinery on the farm in Kentucky. Today I felt like Storey, tried to think like Storey, and was thankful I was NOT out in space trying to do this repair like Storey had to do!

The channel locks and my hands were not going to work so we had to go buy some pliers that would allow me to pull straight outward. Thank goodness we bought a set of three! When I got back under there to work, i quickly learned that the regular pliers were too thick to use in that corner and have any leverage to pull forward. Using the needle-nosed pliers I finally got ahold of the valve and was able to pull the valve open letting the black water loose. Thank goodness everything held in place and my white jeans are still white!

Since I got the valve stem out I thought I would try to put the handle back in place. Several attempts left me convinced that enough of the screw rings were stripped that we have to have a new handle. We have an RV repairman called to come with a new handle. In the meantime, these valves are staying open to let all of our waste water move right directly into the sewer. Today was not a Robin Williams RV day for me and for that I am very glad!
Mom is happy I came and somehow I made it through my first ‘Handyman’ challenge!

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