If you still have the manual, it should show you where to oil the machine.
If not, you mainly want to oil the bobbin innards and the main levers inside where all the movement goes on. You'll need to take out your bobbin case and remove the bottom from your machine.
I have a bottle of Singer oil which, unfortunately, can't get into the nooks and crannies of my machine - so I usually wiggle in there with a Qtip or a piece of paper towel rolled up into a quill. You only want a WEE BIT of oil on the moving parts, or else everything you sew will wind up a greasy and possibly flammable mess!
I am more than happy to provide more detailed descriptions and even a scan of my manual should anyone need it... good machines are like good relationships, well worth the upkeep!
Okay, kitschbitch. I believe you have a 385.12912 model there, which is one of the Janome-manufactured machines from within the last 10 years. (NOT part of the bad batch - those are the high-shankers. Yech.)
Also, while I couldn't find a pic of your exact model, I suspect your machine is a close cousin to mine. I had a very similar problem and here's how I fixed it:
1. UNPLUG the machine and remove the entire bobbin assembly - bobbin, case, shuttle, etc. Brush around in there and blow at it with an air can to make sure all debris is cleared away.
2. Put the bobbin shuttle back in EXACTLY as the manual shows. If your machine is like mine, as I suspect, this will be a little tricky. If anything is rattling or loose it's not in right. It helps to hold the shuttle parts with two fingers while you slide the clamps back into place with your other hand.
3. Leave the bobbin area open, put in a needle (or a stump of a broken needle) and rotate the flywheel TOWARDS you manually, so you can see where exactly in the process your needle is getting whacked.
4. (This is where I will freak experienced sewers out) In minute increments, rock the flywheel back and forth. This eventually wiggled my machine's timing mechanism back into the correct spot.
The timing mechanism is also controlled by a very small screw located in the back of the shuttle mechanism. You can try having your dad tinker with it if you feel brave. However, keeping in mind how much a Janome machine costs when you get it from the store (and how much a new Kenmore can cost... not as much as a Janome, but they ain't cheap) you might consider taking it to a general sewing machine repair center or your local Sears. While your average Sears sales clerk won't know a thing about sewing machines, once they get hold of the right person in the repair center they usually are very helpful in getting your problem solved.
Good luck! (And whatever you do, DON'T get a Walmart machine! Mishti isn't the only one plagued by their evil!)
I don't know the proper name, but have you ever seen those cushions for the bed that make a little seat? They have a square back and arms like an easy chair. Then for notes you could use a lap desk.
As far as thrift store furniture goes, I've never tried debugging anything that large, but I've dusted Borax laundry detergent all over my apartment and it kills damn near everything (except, thankfully, my cats.) It apparently suffocates them. So you could dust your furniture items with the Borax and leave them in a plastic bag for a few days... then perhaps have the rude parents try them out to test for bugs? (Sorry, but you think they'd have more respect for their own offspring's education! You poor thing. )
The Chick people showed up once at the Catholic Schools Conference when I was in highschool and pamphleted all us students... nice huh? Apparently Catholics, Pagans and Satanists are the same thing, in the Chick universe. Because I know so many Pagans that really, really like the Pope.
ROFLMPAO! (Rolling on the floor laughing my Papist ass off!)
Post yer model number. Most Kenmore machines are pretty good, but there was a batch a while ago that stank on ice. If it's that one, you might do well with another Kenmore that's a different model.
I've got an older one from the late 70's, I believe, and it works just fine. I did have a needle issue after I attempted to sew through about 30 layers of crap - I think I threw the timing off - but after some tinkering and swearing it works just fine now.
Definitely avoid the newer Singers and ANYTHING sold at Wal-de-mart - they are all plastic on the inside and break down if you look at them crosseyed. If I were in the market for another machine, I'd seriously get a used machine online or at a tag sale or something...
Oh lord, the flashbacks I got looking at your photo set - especially the "up-converted" commode. Your apartment looks much like mine did, except you have a kitchen (in my case, appliances had basically been squeezed into the genkan.)