Home » Gate Guarding » Year in Review Part 8 – Port-A-Pot

Year in Review Part 8 – Port-A-Pot

The first week of February, 2011 was also the week the temperatures in Shiner dipped into the mid-teens. We set the furnace at 60, afraid we’d run out of propane since we weren’t very portable. Henry and I stayed swathed in blankets at night as the freezing air seeped in through invisible cracks and crevices. We coped pretty well for the first 2 days.

This was a record-breaking cold. Schools went from rolling brown-outs to closing all over southern Texas. Folks from across the nation worried that they wouldn’t able to make it to Dallas to claim their $4500 scalped tickets for the Super Bowl.

We had our own bowl issues. We’d disconnected the outside hose to our water supply since we knew it would freeze right away. We carefully monitored both sinks every 30 minutes, keeping a slow drip going. I had no idea how quickly slow dripping  can empty an entire RV water reservoir.

The third night, I unwound  from the blanket, paused the DVR, and then I heard it: the Sounds of Silence.  The kitchen faucet wasn’t dripping. My fear was confirmed when I couldn’t get any water from Bad, Bad Leroy Brown either. BBLB was the name of the bathroom sink. Heidi stuck a BAD label on it so I’d quit brushing my teeth with the non-drinkable, bad tasting and you don’t know where it’s been, potable water. I named the sink Bad, Bad Leroy Brown because I started humming the tune every time I reached for my toothbrush.

I didn’t name any of the appliances, although Mr. Coffee, which came named, was next on my list of problematic necessities. Coffee is my friend. On that cold, cold night, Mr Coffee began tripping breakers, no matter where I plugged it in: on the counter where it belongs, awkwardly placed under the dinette etc… I eventually disconnected the bell and perked a pot outside while watching for monster trucks and white pickups through the icy window.

Back to bowls: the real crisis was the toilet bowl. The automatic septic pump was no longer automated. Apparently there was bit of a dam somewhere in the sewer line so the restroom had to be closed for thawing.

The rest of the story remains a bit of a mystery to me. Of the two of us, I’m much, much more easily embarrassed than Heidi.  But for some reason, that I can no longer recall, (maybe I lost in Rock, Paper, Scissors – I never did really get that game) it was determined that I should go to the nearest Walmart (Gonzales) in search of a temporary solution. Heidi suggested I buy a 5 gallon bucket. The only 5 gallon bucket I could find included the cement, so I wandered the isles. I knew the blue plastic pail for $1.50 couldn’t possibly handle the stress. The bait buckets had holes. The trash cans looked sturdy enough but the logistics were insurmountable.

The store was teaming with frozen shoppers when I finally found my solution.

I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a fairly wide variety of acceptable planters.  I checked the bottom for holes and for weight restrictions, but all I found was a drowning warning. I felt confident there was no danger of falling in.

I’ve accidentally done a number of things that drew quite a lot of embarrassing attention to myself (fallen off the stage in front of hundreds of people, left the convention for the restroom with my cordless mike still on etc…). But that cold, cold day in southern Texas, I was a woman on a mission. I was shameless.

As shoppers streamed by, I lined the 5 most promising planters up in a row and plopped myself in each pot until I found just the right one.  The funny part was, no one paid any attention to me. It was as if they saw people sitting in the aisle in flower pots all the time!

In the Express line, the clerk smiled at me and said:
We’ve sold out of gloves and space heaters and drinking water today, but you’re the first one to buy a flower pot!
For some reason I felt compelled to explain my predicament.
She nodded and  smiled and said:
This surely is some crazy weather. We had to bring our chickens inside.
Oh gosh, how many chickens do you have?
Wow! That must be quite a cacophony!
She handed me my pot.
Sure is Sugar, especially with the 3 Chihuahuas!

That added some perspective. For almost two weeks, we didn’t have any water or bathroom facilities . We couldn’t shower or do dishes (the dirty dishes were moved to temporary storage in the shower) or keep the breakers from tripping. I didn’t have much heat at night and apparently even less pride, but I also didn’t have 25 chickens and 3 Chihuahuas!

My embarrassment was short-lived and limited to Walmart. Heidi, on the other hand (she must have lost Rock, Paper, Scissors the second time) had to carry the flower pot to the guys outside Port-a-Potty every day for 2 weeks to dump it.

When we bought the 5th wheel in September, a major criteria was The Arctic Package. It was interesting, explaining to our Iowa dealership why we needed an arctic package to live in Texas.

We still have the flower pot –  just in case –  it’s such a perfect fit!

21 thoughts on “Year in Review Part 8 – Port-A-Pot

  1. Pingback: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? « FORK IN THE ROAD

  2. We were in Shiner when it got that cold. Our refrig, went out. Rickey goes to Lowe’s and gets an apartment size refrig. Guess what it had to sit ourside until Rickey could get someone to help him move it inside. He also had to buy a saw as the hole was not big enough for the refrig. Got to remember i had hand surgery in Dec, and could not use my hand. So Rickey had a one handed helper. I had to write with the wrong hand and it looked worse then a 1st grader writing. I think i laugh everytime i wrote someone lic # down. It is Tue 5:00 p.m. we are in Arkansas headed back to Gonzales. Guess what ? It has been a while like maybe 2 yrs since i was sick, today i am sick as a dog. How sick is that, i don’t know. Have a good one, i think you two are potty trained by now.

    • Betty – LOL – that was witty – let’s hope so!
      Yikes sicker than a dog and making the long drive back must be miserable. I’m so sorry to hear it. Heidi and I have both had the flu forever. I think I got sick the 3rd day we were here, so it’s been over 2 weeks now. Just glad our pipes aren’t frozen – really not feeling like being potted! 😀

  3. My wife and I are hurting from all the laughing. Roland Martin wouldn’t stand a chance against you. Keep up the great writing. Rvnpapa & granny

    • Well, hello folks! To be fair to Roland Martin, I doubt if he had the material to work with that I have. 🙂 I take clumsy to a whole new level – plus we have had some interesting encounters here in the South!
      Thanks so much for reading and for laughing with me. I never know if a post is a hit or a miss. Are you folks gate guards? I’m guessing Rvn papa and granny means you’re full-timers with a sense of humor! 😀

  4. I like the bad sign. I hope you and Henry were warm enough.

    I told Don that we have to read your entire blog carefully before we decide to journey around the country in a(n) RV.

    Hilarious, scary and REALLY inconvenient! xoxoxo m

    • Melis – I couldn’t figure out why I kept getting sick… Turns out, there really was “something in the water’ – all kinds of somethings! 🙂
      I was determined to use the tap water to brush my teeth, even though we bought all our drinking water. Heidi finally put a stop to it with the BAD sign. 😀

  5. You never cease to amaze me Debbie. I never would have thought of the flower pot! When we had our class A gas rig we had freezing problems in central Texas. We even had freezing temps in Houston last winter.

    One thing for sure… you & Heidi have grit!

    • Vicky – Well, there were so many considerations: height and weight (both mine and the pot’s), ease of dumping, comfort, etc…
      In the end ;), the flower pot was the only thing I could find that met the criteria.
      We were trying hard to bloom where we seemed to be planted. 😀
      It was an interesting introduction to gate guarding.

    • Sue – For some reason, I even thought it was funny at the time… Maybe Heidi’s right – could have had a touch of brain freeze. 😀
      My only worry was that the pipes would burst, which, thankfully, they didn’t!

  6. I remember the first time I read this when you posted back then and it is still funny today. Maybe we won’t need the artic basments this winter(I Hope) Has Heidi posted on Bad Bad Leroy Brown in this one.

    • Luke – You and Jill are my long-timers! I’ll try to add some new things as I recap the rest of the year, but there are some experiences that bare 😉 retelling. I guess Heidi finally must have me trained, since we no longer have labels on the faucets. 😀
      I’m with you, I’m glad to have that arctic package, but I hope we don’t need it like we did last year. Wow that was cold. I felt so sorry for the guys on the rig.

  7. The picture of the toilet with the cord in it stumped me. I guess I repressed all this trauma. I used a utility light to help thaw the black tank. I’d forgotten. Don’t take this for a tip of how to thaw your tank should yours ever freeze. I can’t remember if it even worked! Adds new meaning to ‘brain freeze’!

    • Heidi – I think that light actually belongs to Jimbo. 😀
      Do you remember when he told us we were welcome to use the outhouse on site?
      I don’t know that the light really did help too much in the toilet but the one underneath was pretty good, I think. Those were interesting days, huh?

    • Diane – 😀 Heidi keeps saying “Well, we were a lot younger then…” Of course, this took place 10 months ago, so we weren’t THAT much younger!
      Hoping for a slightly warmer winter this year. I like the cold better than the heat, but not quite that cold.

  8. Sitting on a flower pot taking a dump singing Big Bad Leroy Brown – Could life get any better?? LOL I think this was the first blog post I ever read of yours. I liked it so much I went back and started from the beginning.

    • Jill – Wow! You and I go WAY back! 😀
      I did a little rewrite, but I didn’t change any of the facts. In retrospect, I’m just thankful I didn’t get stuck! Thanks for sticking with me! 😉

  9. Well it did say flower (pot). This is a fun one…

    I would have paid attention to you in Wal-Mart, would have asked what the heck you were doing. We would have struck up conversation about camping and became fast friends.

    Some day I will tell you about improper winterization of an RV hot water heater.


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