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Sunday, September 27, 2015

All in a Monday

Monday started out pretty well.  School started on time and everyone worked steadily enough that I got done with teaching forty-five minutes before lunch time.  Instead of scrolling through Facebook, as I wanted to, I decided to be responsible and went to print out some school charts I had been working on.

Our printer has been having problems with its black ink ever since we made the foolish mistake of shipping it to Dushanbe.  In this lifestyle, printers really are a consumable item.  They were never meant to be shipped via airplane (or really at all), where there is plenty of variable air pressure and restful time to dry all of the little nozzles out and get them clogged.  I was smart enough to take out the ink cartridges - it only takes one printer box dripping in ink to learn that lesson.  After cleaning out the print head and going through a whole set of cartridges to clean the nozzles, I finally narrowed down the problem and ordered a new black cartridge (I use refillable cartridges).

The cartridge had come a few days earlier in the mail, and I set about removing the ink from the old cartridge - waste not, want not - and putting it into the new one.  Although the process is simple - syringe out ink from the bottle, squirt it into the hole in the cartridge - I always manage to stain my hands with ink no matter how hard I try.

I marched back to the computer with my new cartridge and printed a test.  The result was better than before, but still blurry.  Time to clean the print nozzles.  But first, time to refill the other black cartridge.  Okay, new test print.  Now the yellow is out.  Back to the bathroom, more ink on the fingers.  Put the yellow in, start another round of cleaning.  Oh, now the magenta is out.  Back to the bathroom to add pink to every other color staining my hands.  One more test print.  Nothing has changed.  Time to get serious.

A few YouTube videos later (why is always foreign nationals who make those helpful videos?), some failed screw-drivering, and I had the print head out and back in the bathroom.  Now all of the colors could stain my hands at once.  Sophia enjoyed the lovely spray pattern, and I hoped that this would fix my problem.  With the print head back in the printer and ready for another cleaning, I returned to the bathroom to fill the blue ink cartridge.  I started to think seriously about time versus money and just ordering Canon cartridges, who cares about cost and environmental waste.

I crossed my fingers as the test patterns spat out of the printer, praying that my problem would be fixed.  It wasn't.  I sighed and debated a whole new printer versus just the print head.  Both cost just about the same.

Dinner that night was black bean soup.  As Sophia pulled out the cornmeal for muffins, she announced that there definitely wasn't a cup left.  I sighed.  There never is a convenient time for grinding because you never know you're out until you're cooking - and cooking is never a leisure time activity.  It's time to cook because people are hungry and hungry people aren't patient people.

Thankfully I don't have to run up two flights of stairs for popcorn anymore, so it wasn't long before the kitchen sounded like a small airplane was taking off.  I've had my wheat grinder longer than I've had most of my children, and the whole time it has worked much better and with much less complaining than they have.  It's only gotten more useful in places where cornmeal costs three dollars for a half pound bag and whole wheat flour is something entirely unheard of.

I poured the bag of popcorn in, and turned to chopping carrots for the soup.  And then the grinding stopped, with a disconcerting thump and grinding of a frustrated motor.  I cut the power, waited for a second, and tried the first move of optimists.  It still grrrred in frustration, so I shut it off again.

My second move was the internet, which offered no hope in the first three pages.  I tried different search terms and still came up with nothing.  Quotes weren't any more helpful.  According to everything and everyone, NutriMills don't jam.  Until, of course, they do.

I sat and reviewed my options.  No NutriMill service centers on the continent.  Maybe I could take it to a local repairman.  That would require knowing one.  Order a new one, and borrow my friend's for the next month.  I looked for screws, found some, and went searching for my screwdriver.

By the time Brandon was home for dinner, the machine had been broken down to its motor and grinding plate.  I couldn't find any more screws to address and the twelve or so I had already removed lay scattered in mounds of popcorn and cornmeal.  I showed my problem to Brandon and he took over while I finished dinner half an hour late.

He succeeded where I had failed, and found the problem - a tooth in the grinding plate had sheared off and jammed the two plates.  We put the whole thing back together - I had had enough common sense to remember where the grounding wires hooked up - after finding all of the screws, and plugged it in.  Even with a missing tooth, it still made popcorn into cornmeal.  Three hundred dollars saved for another day.

Then we turned to our last task of the day, and started the children up to bed.  Joseph had been complaining of an upset stomach for the last few hours so he got put down first, with a bowl for good measure.  I've learned the hard way the fine line between imagined and real nausea.  Always err on the side of caution.  A three year-old has to have pretty strong imagination to turn down a fresh cornbread muffin.

A few minutes later and deep into the dinner dishes, Joseph showed up at the kitchen door.  "Mom!  I threw up!  But I got it in your toilet.  I got it in your toilet!"  I sighed and stripped his vomit-spattered shirt and pants.  "Let's get you a drink of water.  Then get some new pajamas."  Then I went upstairs to see where hope and reality met.

The smell spoke of hope and my feet confirmed that Joseph had only gotten some of the vomit in my toilet.  The rest was on my carpet.  I sighed again and went for paper towels.  Only recently have I learned that paper towels don't have to be washed out in a bucket.  They can be thrown away and the wet rags can be saved for the part that doesn't involve chunks.  Brandon sighed, louder than me, and went for the carpet cleaner.

Five passes later the smell still overpowered anyone standing five feet from the door.  We considered sleeping in the guest bedroom, but that would mean making another bed when ours was already made, and put a fan on the carpet instead and left the bedroom door open.  It still reeked by morning.

I went to bed that night, happy that Monday comes only once a week.  It hadn't been a bad Monday - nobody got hurt, nothing too expensive got ruined, and we were still in Dushanbe and together.  It was just an intensely irritating Monday.  And I was happy to be done with it.  And happy to have another seven days before Monday came round again.

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