The temperature has been in the twenties here in the Houston area!! It's bitterly cold for us Texans, but it sure beats most of the rest of the country north of here. Amply warned by Weather Bug, we stopped at one of the local propane purveyors to top off Phannie's tank. The attendant, a long-haired teen with a several-day stubble on his face, ambled out of the small office a bit unsteadily, seeming to have just awakened from a nap. He didn't inspire us as being terribly interested in our business, but we watched as he jerked the filler hose away from the pump and up to Phannie's propane door. Opening the door, he dropped to his knees and attached the nozzle to the adapter on the tank and turned on the pump switch. Immediately from around the nozzle erupted a loud hissing sound and a cloud of vapor, as the propane was clearly leaking from around the fitting.
The kid, clearly rattled, said, "Something's messed up here!"
I started to say that he had a masterful grasp of the obvious, but I figured my sarcasm would just be wasted even if it were understood. He scratched his head a bit and looked at the hose nozzle and the adapter on the tank, finally saying that he didn't know what was wrong but that he couldn't fill my tank. I didn't argue because my confidence in this guy had pretty much reached zero. So, I just said thank you and drove to downtown Conroe and the facility of an old-line propane dealer who had probably been in business since propane was discovered.
Out from the office came a stern-faced older guy, striding swiftly toward Phannie. He was all business, approaching his task as though he were to begin fueling an Atlas rocket. Saying nothing, he swiftly attached the nozzle to the tank adapter and turned on the pump. The hissing sound immediately returned, along with the visible vapor all around the fitting. He muttered an expletive that wasn't quite discernible and immediately turned off the pump switch.
Okay, I thought...the kid with the stubble at the last place was at least correct in his assessment that something was wrong; I'll give him that. But the older guy here simply turned around and reached into a small cabinet above the pump, retrieving a black rubber washer about the size of a fifty-cent piece. Laying the hose on the pavement for a moment, he pressed the washer into the adapter on my tank and then spun the hose fitting into the aperture, almost in a single action. This guy had definitely been doing this for a while, I thought. Turning on the pump, the propane began flowing smoothly and silently into the tank without a hint of hissing or vapor.
I was impressed that this guy not only identified the problem, but that he also had at hand the part needed to fix it! I was reminded of an old French proverb that says, 'Take your dough to the baker, even if he steals half of it.' I've always thought this was a quaint way to advocate the use of a professional when possible. But the French are a little different, aren't they?
I was a little surprised that I hadn't previously heard of this kind of problem in all my years of RVing. Not wanting to be without one of these rubber washers in the future, I strode into the office and purchased two of them to keep on hand.
The cold weather seemed ideal for comfort food, so I trotted out the new small-sized pressure cooker that I had purchased on the recommendation of our friend Janice. The first was beans and ham that we served with hot water cornbread and then a pot of spicy pork chile verde the next day. These were both wonderful and really hit the spot during the cold snap.
The grandsons enjoyed a large Christmas, of course, and we were privileged to be on hand for that. In the photo below, grandpa has a good seat to watch the boys open their gifts. (This is about the only thing for which I would get up this early.)
We've been steadily working through our yearly visits to doctors and dentists. This has been an especially busy time for this activity, since I needed crowns on three teeth and a colonoscopy, not to mention some new arthritis issues that have been bugging me. Sandy needed new glasses, a teeth cleaning and changes to some of her meds. I have to confess that, since I've never gotten old before, I was a bit unprepared for the seemingly endless treks to health professionals that must be made in order to keep getting this carcass out of bed every morning. I'm not complaining, however; there are so many who don't get the privilege of getting old, much less leading the active lifestyle we enjoy. All I can say is, thank God for good health and good health insurance.
We also had a nice visit with good friends Chip and Diane, who are visiting relatives in The Woodlands this week. Here they are after a wonderful dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Palenque in Spring, Texas:
We will be leaving next week for Austin, where we will spend a couple of days with friends Steve and Jackie, then on to another Tiffin owners' rally in Marble Falls. We'll also spend a couple of days in Fredericksburg before returning here to Conroe to finish up the medical visits. Hopefully, we will not be seeing any more of this frigid weather for a while!
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life;
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it as I should each day.
I had rather see the world and own little than to own the world and see little of it. --Alexander Sattler