Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When it Rains, it Pours

Last night, the Captain came home and got to work on the washing machine. We've had an ongoing issue with the whole thing shutting down at the point where it should be draining. The Captain says the pump's wearing out. After 3 years of moderate use, followed by 5 years of heavy use (remember, I've been doing a dozen cloth diapers a day since Firstborn was a wee little thing. And not cleaning out the drain filter. Allegedly.), the poor washing machine is coming to the end of its lifespan.
Usually, turning it off and on again will fix the problem, and when it doesn't, there's a connection just underneath that we can wiggle. But yesterday, neither of those things worked. After some time (and some swearing), the Captain was ready to give up. In a moment of mild frustration, he gave the bottom of the machine a little kick. And voila! We have drainage again!
So, while we search out a deal on a new washing machine, we figure there are a few loads left in the old girl. And this would just be one of those things that happens from time to time if it wasn't for everything else.
And by everything else, I mean EVERYTHING else. I don't know what on earth is going on around here, but all of a sudden lately, everything is giving up the ghost.
Here's the lowdown:

The Vacuum Cleaner: We actually had two vacuum cleaners until just before Christmas. The Captain, in a rare mood to clean, decided to give the living room a once-over while he was home on leave. He plugged the old upright into an outlet we had not yet used (installed during the ill-fated kitchen renovation) and turned the thing on. It was immediately apparent from the screaming noise coming from the old vacuum that something was wrong. The Captain fiddled with it a bit and then shrugged his shoulders, concluding that it was ten years old and bound to die at some point. Luckily, we also had a Shop Vac. So, out to the workshop he went, brought that in, plugged it into the same outlet, to have the exact same thing happen. After some messing around with the electrical box downstairs, he realized that our new electrical outlet was wired up for way too much power. And now we were down two vacuum cleaners.
So, we waited for a sale and ordered another one. When it arrived, the Captain pulled it out and proceeded to set it up, only to find that a caster on the bottom was broken. We called Sears to see if we could get the part sent, but they determined that the better option was for us to box the whole darn thing back up and take it to our delivery place for a straight exchange. So, the vacuum is half in the box and we're just waiting for a call to say the new one is ready for pickup. It kind of seems like an awful lot of trouble for one broken wheel...

The Mixer Bowl: On Saturdays we have a little tradition we like to keep up. I make pizza and we watch the hockey game. Well, Rosemary's Baby broke our fourth TV antenna (yes, that's broken too!), and we're kind of holding out, in hopes he'll stop breaking things, before we buy another one. So, we really don't see too many games these days, but that's no reason to stop making pizza. This past weekend, I went about my usual pizza-making routine. The dough was happily kneading in the stand mixer, and I, for some inexplicable reason, decided I'd head into the bathroom to shine up a pair of boots. About 2 minutes into that, I heard an almighty crash and the Captain yelling some things I won't repeat. I ran back into the kitchen to find that the mixer had made its way to the front of the counter and toppled off, pulling the plug right out of the wall and bending the prongs. Miraculously, our extremely expensive mixer was fine. The bowl, not so much. There is a large, jagged crack from top to bottom and several chunks broken off the sides. A replacement will cost $60. Yes, I said $60. FOR A PLASTIC BOWL! In the meantime, I have electrical-taped it back together and I am now required to hold it in place while any mixing or kneading is happening. That's what I get for trying to multi-task.

The Car: We continue to be driving around with no front turn signals or daytime running lights. The less said on this, the better.

The Bathroom Light: This is not exactly broken, but when the weather warms up (or, here in Manitoba, milds up), it starts dripping condensation. Our house, built by a farmer in 1967, should really just be knocked down. One day I'll tell you all about the feminine hygiene products Thelma and I found inside the walls. No, I'm not kidding.

The Coffee Roaster: I think perhaps I've mentioned before the Captain's penchant for roasting and grinding his own coffee. While he was away this fall, the old roaster burned out. Since the Captain was in the States at the time, he found himself a good deal and ordered a new deluxe roaster. When he brought it home, it, too, was broken. Since then it's been a series of emails with the seller about how to fix it. Now we have a new one on its way. I hope. Because since November, I've been roasting half a cup of green coffee beans a day in a popcorn maker. If I cared about coffee, I might not mind. But every time I pull the air popper out and watch the mess of coffee-chaff cover my kitchen counter, hear the smoke detector go off from the blowing heat, and have to listen for insignificant cracking sounds to indicate my coffee is sufficiently roasted, I also have to restrain myself from running in here and blasting off a cranky email to the Captain at work asking why on earth we can't just buy ground coffee in a can like normal people?!

The Stove: This is one of those things where you get what you pay for. We bought our stove at the Calgary Sears Outlet. Who knows why it ended up there, but whatever was wrong with it, it never really got fixed. For years, we have been woken up at 3AM on the occasional random evening to hear it beeping. Sometimes we have to go downstairs and flip the breaker because it suddenly decides it isn't working. This always resets it and we go about our business as usual. This weekend, we discovered a strange phenomenon we've never encountered with it before. It's not exactly a problem, just a new weird quirk. On Sunday, I made oven fries. I set the temperature to 500 degrees fahrenheit. High heat in the oven does sometimes cause funny little twitches on the burners. Little beeps or unrelated lights going on and off at random. But this time, something new has happened. Something lasting. Our oven, all of a sudden, has switched from fahrenheit to celsius. We've had the thing for 5 years and we never had any idea it could recognize celsius. As far as I can remember, the instruction manual doesn't mention anything about this, so I have no idea how it happened. However, since we live in Canada, being able to convert fahrenheit to celsius is actually a handy skill to have, so I'll consider it one of those situations where I've been forced to learn something and leave it at that.

The TV: Well, this has been on its way out for a while. It still hasn't died completely, but we're just waiting for one big poof, and bye-bye TV. We have a small portable downstairs, and we actually watch most of our TV on the Captain's laptop these days, so the only people really affected when the old monstrosity finally gives out will be Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby, and they can just head downstairs to their playroom to watch the other one when it does happen. The Captain has proclaimed that there will be no expensive TV purchases made in this house until Rosemary's Baby stops trying to hug Barney through the screen. I'm inclined to agree with him on that one. It's amazing how fast you can get used to having no TV, or watching it on a tiny screen.

And I guess, for now, that's it. I've probably forgotten several things, but I'm starting to depress myself thinking about how much all of this is going to cost. The moral of the story is to live with as little as possible. That way, if it does all break at the same time there's not that much to replace. That said, living without say, a stove or washing machine is a bit primitive, even for us.
I'll let you know how I feel after I've had to spend 3 weeks washing all our clothes and diapers by hand in the kitchen sink.

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