Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A Good Time Thirty-Six Years In The Making!

So the old GE dishwasher that was here when we moved in seven years ago, has lately decided to allow icky water to sneak back into the machine. Icky water that would then build its very own, very special, stink. The fact that it wasn't doing it all the time, and would take a couple of days before your nose alerted you that something down there was VERY wrong, was just a muttered-swear-word-inducing bonus.

Okay, so off I go to the Internet, where surprisingly enough, I find a straightforward, well-made tutorial on how to repair a non-draining dishwasher, starring my exact machine! While this is handy, it also inspires dread--is my machine somehow famous for breakdowns...?

The video tells me that the part that allows the machine to drain is a 'flapper valve', located at the bottom of the sump--now, anything called a 'sump' cannot be a good thing in this scenario, and I am NOT looking forward to visiting it, much less sticking my finger down there to make sure it is working properly, as the video instructs. Doesn't matter tho, because I've gotta take that sucker apart and find out what's wrong.

No guts, no glory. I'm goin' in. Armed with several dishwasher-threatening tools, I remove the racks and arms--this part I've done before two years ago, taking the machine part-way apart to clean it. That's when I found all kinds of dog hair and broken glass lodged in the apray arms, which afterwards worked adequately...as could be expected in a 30+ year-old machine, I believed. I know, I know--what I really need to do is replace the machine, as it is old and inefficient. But since my washing machine, lawnmower and BOTH cars have recently ALL decided to die at the same time, it's just not in the budget right now.

I manage to get the upper spray arms out without breaking anything, and now it's time to delve into the guts of Dante's Dishwasher Inferno. The lower spray arm is first. This is what the bottom of my dishwasher is supposed to look like. In mine that big lower screen is metal, but otherwise identical--minus the gunk.

The lower spray arm...mind you, I've done the baking soda and vinegar thing several times since moving in, so everything you see from here on out is the cleanest I could get it until today. FAIR WARNING: this gets unutterably nasty, really fast.
There was this weird gray...fuzz on everything. Almost as if someone had stuffed a roll of paper towels in the dishwasher back in the misty dawn of time and hit 'Start'. For clarity's sake, let me just say that I am one of those people who washes their dishes BEFORE loading the dishwasher, I know this machine has no garbage disposal capability. I use the machine primarily to de-grease, sterilise and dry; and never load food-covered dishes in there.

Weird gray fuzz has attained...chunkiness. Removing it requires some old dental instruments I have and more muttered swears.

We've reached the first filter and the hub nut cover. Inexplicably, this filter is all one unit and cannot be taken apart to remove the gray chunkiness within.

Hub nut cover, top and bottom. As seems to be required, covered with weird gray fuzz, which is getting thicker...

By now I am POSITIVE that the previous homeowners never once took this machine apart to clean it properly.
Time to remove the first filter! First look at the hub, and isn't IT pretty! Gray chunky has given way to a layer of gray...skin. Charming.

The underside of the non-cleanable filter is everything I expected it to be.
The gunk...the gunk is SO VERY THICK. The gunk has thickness. Actual heft and weight. The toothbrush I armed myself with to clean the dishwasher with, is inadequate. I need a bigger scrub brush.

The hub nut. I'm not sure what level of Dante's Dishwasher Inferno we are at here, but let me just say whimper...
 I keep rewatching the how-to video, hoping I'm nearing the end. No such luck.

The gray gunk as achieved sliminess now, as well...and the smell...OH GOD, THE SMELL.

The hub nut is removed...

The underside...

Wait...what IS that in the center...?!

Dunno, but it's metal. Appears to be some kind of worn-through washer of some sort. Is it important? WHO KNOWS, WHEE!

But now I can see into the depths of the next Ring of Hell. That rectangular sump cover is next. Oh God now I have to remove something called a 'sump cover'. THAT MEANS THAT WHAT LIES BENEATH CAN ONLY BE A SUMP. *more pathetic whimpering*

As a little aside: just a little shout-out and a kick in the nuts to the person who designed this thing. When you are short, reaching the back of things is a real challenge...
This means that when you have to remove a screw from the BACK of the machine you must fully commit and stick the entire upper half of your body into an ancient, grody dishwasher. I experience similar joy when cleaning my oven.

Sump cover off...

Even though I thought I was ready to see what was under it...I was wrong. Also, my hands aren't strong enough to get the nasty sump basket out, even with muttering 'Fuck it!' and attacking the thing with heavy tools and fed-up determination. Husband is at work, daughter is asleep. Whoever sticks their nose in the kitchen next loses, and gets to horse that thing out.

I think there may well be something alive lurking down there, like the garbage-masher monster in the original Star Wars movie.

Husband lost, he appeared first. Probably a good thing, since it took all his strength to get that sump basket out...and that man could crack coconuts with his hands.

Just for the sake of reference, this is what the sump basket is supposed to look like. See all the little drain holes?


My camera refused to focus on the interior of the basket, I figure out of sheer disgust. I don't blame it at all. Let's just say there was at LEAST an inch of gunk down there.

The gunk is well on its way to fossilization.

The round part is supposed to be a drain that is NOT halfway blocked with gunk. I think we may have found the problem!

Because no quest is complete without the final Big Boss battle, it is now time to remove the metal screen on the bottom of the machine.

...and then I get to go spelunking down there, sticking my finger in to check and make sure the flapper valve is working. And unhappily, that is the ONLY way to check it, I'VE GOT TO STICK MY FINGER DOWN THERE.

I remove the big metal screen and flip it over...
...and I am all out of $2 cuss words for the previous homeowners at this point and have to repeat myself. I heap imprecations on their offspring, neighbors, co-workers and pets as well while I'm at it.

This thing is supposed to be flat.

Seriously, who shoots themselves in the foot and does this to their own major appliance?!

But all the fun cannot be had just here, and distracting myself isn't going to get that damned sump cleaned out. I have disgusting, stinky, standing water to bail, after all.

Water removed, with the aid of a rag and flowery, exotic, elaborate cussing.
Even after scooping out several inches of gray gunk from The Pit of Despair, I cannot see the bottom of the sump. Gonna close my eyes and think happy thoughts when I go exploring in there.

Welp, the sump and little flapper valve that was the finish to this disgusting quest was every bit as foul as could be hoped. Enough nightmare fodder to last several weeks.

But--hallelujah, brothers, the flapper valve is working! What's more, I FOUND an evil object stuck in the valve and holding it open, causing the problem--surprisingly, it was NOT the 30+ years of gunk, it was this:

A wooden toothpick, snarled up with a twist-tie. I held it up in one triumphant fist ala Lion King, shook it at the sky, and roared 'AH-HA!'

I hope I never have to do anything like this again. Seems I keep saying that, in this house...and I have no doubt that I will, at some point.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why Humans Suck, Reason #2856

So we've been having a pretty relentless heat wave, and the chickens are suffering. That means in addition to making giant chicken popsicles of raw fruits and vegetables for them to peck at, we go out about every two hours during the worst part of the day to hose off their surroundings--and them. They hate being sprinkled, but it cools them off and keeps them alive.

The kid and I were cleaning out the garage this week and ran across an old yard sprinkler, and thought the chickens could get some use out of it.

So out in the chicken yard it went!

OF COURSE it's a weird thing--this is US, remember.
It's a flamingo that energetically flaps its 'wings' when the water goes through it, spraying water everywhere. It used to be a summer toy for the kid, but if it helps cool off the chickens and keeps them alive, they should be grateful...right?

They ALL immediately high-tailed it over to the extreme far side of the yard, just as far away from Pink Flailing Terror Bird as they could get. In this case, they hunkered down next to the feed shed, which has always protected them and loved them and given them food. No amount of us telling them that this was just another version of Club Flamingo, or calling in sweet, soothing tones could induce them to go near the thing.

Notice the pointed, searing stare of blame they are laying squarely on ME. They know who is responsible for this, it's just another stupid, sucky human thing the stupid, sucky humans do.

When chickens are really POed at you they will turn their backs on you and pretend you don't exist, effectively shunning you. This technique works for your return after a two week vacation (because to chickens, you gone = you DEAD and gone and they will be righteously angry at you for scaring them like that), when you offend them in some way...or when you place chicken-frightening, weirdo spasmodic objects in their yard.
It's an all-purpose, group punishment that works for anything, really. Chickens HATE change and will chastise you accordingly.

Even Chonk disapproves, and voices her displeasure at her Brahma dignity being so ruffled LOUDLY.

Meanwhile, I can't really say that I blame them. Look at the smug little grin on that smart-ass.

After a while The Pink Terror toppled over--no doubt felled by the flock's group-think mind-kill powers--and we shut the hose off. Only after it stopped flailing did they approach to begrudgingly play in the mud puddle it made.
After all, a mud puddle on a hot day IS a wonderful thing, after all...

Excuse me, I gotta go make some Chicken Apology Popsicles now.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Chickam 2019 Chicks Are Two Months Old!

And you know what that means...they are getting the boot to the great outdoors.

But first, picture time!
It is not an exaggeration to say that ALL 16 of the chicks were little buttheads during picture time. Plaintive chirps, anxious escape attempts, sinking down into a puddle and having to be held up, facing ANY direction but the camera...you name it, they did it.

So these aren't the best pictures, just the best I could get. With the added bonus of gunk from the corn on the cob they'd been eating fouling their face feathers, yay. We plan on rehoming the rooboys and keeping our pick of the hens.

In order of hatch, oldest to youngest:

Brick, who is hopefully a hen. Mother likely Strychnine, Luna or Cluckadorkle, father Cam. Brick is pathologically friendly and wants to sit in your lap 24/7. Oh, and as long as you're there, turn on the TV for her.

Alphonso the Love Squirrel, a rooster. Alphonso is VERY into crowing, along with all five of his brothers, at 4:30AM, God help us. I'm guessing Sprinkles for mom, Milton for dad. Kentucky could be his sister.

Khufu, a rooster. Khufu won the chicken lottery and got all the vulture hocks. ALL of them. A slight assist to his hatch due to an overly-thick membrane on his egg. Mother likely Skillet, Bruce or Fries, daddy Milton.

Darling, a hen. The first egg to pip, but at the wrong end of the egg, she was an assisted hatch. Mother is--surprise! Wiggles, our half-blind, 7 year old Blue Mottle Belgian d'Uccle hen, daddy is likely Milton. Darling is a drama QUEEN, and hollered during picture time.

Oy the Chicky Chumbler, a rooster. Mama is likely Snakefast, Daddy likely Milton. Only one picture of Oy, as he was being a BIG drama monster butthead during picture time.

Beauregard the Bueano, a hen. Mama is likely Olivia, daddy likely Cam.

Cheerio, a hen. Mom likely Star, daddy Cam.

Pixy, a rooster. Mama likely Pickle or Alice, daddy likely Cam.

Wooster, a rooster. Mama likely Jimmy, Pickle or Popcorn, daddy likely Milton.

Sir Fluffington von Bonesaw, III, a hen. Bonesaw started out a black chick and morphed into a bit of a surprise! Mama likely Peepers, dad Milton.

Kentucky, a hen. Could have Sprinkles for mom, likely Cam for dad. Alphonso could be her brother.

Basil D'Oliveira, a hen. Gumball mom, daddy likely Milton.

Satan, a rooster. I love Satan because he is clean-legged, and easy to tell from the absolute HORDE of black, feather-legged chicks this year. Mama likely Olivia, daddy Groot.

Paprika, a hen. Mama likely Tingle or Sprinkles, daddy Cam.

Marbles, a hen. Mama likely Bowie, Bubbles or Kotori, daddy Milton.

Mothball, a hen. Likely Tater Tot for mom, Milton as dad.

That's everyone for this year!