Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dazed And Confused

It's been an odd 10 days since I last posted here. Not that it's been particularly bad, just really odd, and not nearly so productive as I had hoped. Actually, we have accomplished a bit, just not what I had planned.

Shortly after my last update, I had a restless night. Pa was snoring louder and longer than usual, which ultimately resulted in me moving out to the living room, and the couch for the night. Although the couch isn't quite so comfortable as the bed, it's definitely doable, and since we heat with wood, naturally the living room is a bit warmer than the bedroom, so once I settled in it wasn't all bad. My biggest problem at that point seemed to be the moon, which was shining oh so brightly that night.

The next day was not a good one for me. No matter how much coffee I poured down me I couldn't seem to fully wake up. I couldn't focus. I dared not pick up my knitting.

That night I took a "new to me" sleeping supplement, Melatonin. Since it was a first time use and I wasn't sure how it would affect me, I chose to skip the NyQuil for my cold symptoms. At some point in the night I awakened from a very strange, rather disturbing dream. My nose was stuffed up and my throat was burning. Hmmm. Maybe I should've taken the NyQuil after all.

I lay there and considered the situation. I noticed the time was right about 3:30. Awake, yet groggy, I attempted some mental math. NyQuil lasts for 6 hours. If I took a dose now, I would probably sleep in a bit, but still be able to manage a good day. I got up, headed into the kitchen and downed my rather late dose, following up with a Fisherman's Friend for more immediate throat relief. I glanced at the clock, noting it was now nearly 4 AM. Hmm. A bit late, but it still might be okay.

Shortly after 9 AM I awoke and headed out to join my family. I was not alert. My eyes couldn't seem to focus. No matter how I worked at cleaning my glasses everything seemed to be a bit blurry. Again, I spent the day in a fog. I glanced at my knitting a couple times, but I knew better. All was not lost though. If nothing else I did inadvertently provide my family with plenty of entertainment throughout the day.

That night, once again, I took my Melatonin. I also decided to take half a dose of my NyQuil. I may never know if it was the medication, or if my body and my mind were just so tuckered out that nothing could've kept me from the sleep I so desperately needed, but sleep I did. Of course at my age, after two such nights, it takes more than one night to fully recover, but eventually I did, and the week went on.

I did manage to get some knitting done on my latest project, spending close to whole days on it. I tried a couple variations on the project, which ended up with less than satisfactory results, but gave me some ideas for future experiments. In the meantime, I started over and am proceeding pretty much as it was originally written. There's a whole lot of knittin', as well as several other priorities gonna be happenin' in the next couple days.

There will be no updates to my blog this coming week, as we will be out of town.

Starting next weekend, I expect things to settle down a bit and return to a state which my little family constitutes as "normal ", at which time I expect to be resuming my more regularly scheduled blog updates. Naturally, I'm assuming you've figured out by now that "normal" is a relative thing around our Boondock home, so the "dazed and and confused" theme may well be repeated at some point ;-)

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

At some point during the last 2 weeks we received, via UPS our new multifunction printer, a reconditioned (by manufacturer) Canon Pixma MP600. Our old HP had served us well for many years, but it is not compatible with the new PC and it, like the old PC was showing signs of age, so it was time. I searched both locally, and on the Internet for 2 full days for a replacement for our old friend. I found several machines that had received rave reviews, and that seemed to have all the qualities we desired. Naturally, they were all more expensive than our budget allowed.

As I headed to bed the second evening I was mentally exhausted. I was near giving up. I included what seemed like a rather selfish request in my prayers that night. I requested what had become to feel like an impossible solution, a printer that would fulfill all my needs for a reasonable price. The next morning I resumed my search. For some reason I found myself searching a shop I had never considered, Sears. I was absolutely amazed when this particular printer, one I had seen reviewed and was impressed with, but it was no longer manufactured popped up for a mere fraction of the original price. This printer was not only within our budget, it was well below the price we had set as our limit! I jumped on it!

While the new printer is compatible with our new PC, and OS, it was manufactured prior to the release of our OS, therefore, we were unable to load the software and hook it up without an extra download. We went to the web site the instructions indicated, and found this particular model was not listed. Uh-oh! Now what?

I spent most of that day searching for a solution. I searched through every link provided on this website. Finally, late in the afternoon, I gave up on my DIY attempts, and called the 800# provided. Brenda, the gal who answered was quite helpful, and eventually led me to a different website which provided me with a list of downloads.

Now I had a different problem. There were probably half a dozen different downloads to choose from, and with my limited knowledge I was having a hard time choosing between them. I briefly considered just downloading all of them, but then I noticed the size of some of these downloads. I had a feeling I knew which one we needed, and naturally it was one of the larger ones. I hoped I was wrong. Again, I spent hours searching for information which might give me a clue as to which download I might need.

Once again, I had to admit defeat. I sent an email to the customer service folks. By the time I awoke the next morning, there was a response waiting for me in my inbox. Bobby sent me a very nice note, with the information I needed, as well as the option to contact Canon for a CD which would take care of all our problems should our ridiculously slow dial-up connection be unable to handle the download in a timely manner.

Approximately 2 hours later I had managed to download the files I needed and Pa began hooking our new machine up. I looked through the set up instructions and was rather nervous about the procedure. It seemed rather complicated. Upon running the largest of the downloads, the "driver" I was amazed at how quickly it proceeded, and was tickled to note it was actually much easier on our OS than the instructions indicated. It was almost too easy! That in itself made me nervous.

We got the new printer hooked up, placed the paper in the feeder, turned the machine on and ran the initial printing procedure. The machine hummed pleasantly, reassuringly. The lights flashed as the instructions said they should. So far so good. We waited, expectantly, nervously. The machine continued to hum but nothing seemed to be happening! I began peering at the machine, my face close to it's face, anxiously searching for an answer to the apparent delay, hoping it wasn't a malfunction. The kids inched closer as well.

All of a sudden a door in front opened down with a clang. I jumped and screamed. The kids jumped and laughed. There I was providing my family with entertainment again....The paper began moving. It moved forward, then backward, It moved up, and it dropped down. Then it repeated the process. Fascinated, we all watched each little movement, and cheered as it finally began emerging printed with little black and blue squares.

Once that process was finished we decided we needed to print something else. I found a picture in my "sample" picture file and selected "print". Once again I jumped and screamed when the little door dropped. Then I stared in amazement as the picture printed in what seemed like lightening fast speed. I picked up the printed page and was again amazed at the quality of the colors. Awesome!

We're quite happy with our new printer, as well as the customer support we received from Canon. Now we just need to find a camera that fulfills all our needs, and just happens to fit within our budget. Basically, we need something that would be perfectly happy taking pictures in a bar or tavern (indoor low light), as well as in the desert at high noon (outside, full sun), runs on AA batteries, both rechargeable and, in case of emergencies, your regular grocery store AAs, and will be happy loading into both our new printer and our PC. So, tell me, just what do you suppose the odds are we will be able to find something to fit all these requirements for less than $300? Perhaps it's a good thing I believe in miracles?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Resolution #1..Gotta Love A Challenge!

Perhaps a little late, but at least it is during the first week of the first month of the year, I have made my first New Years resolution. Not surprisingly, it is very closely related to last years resolution, which was to learn to knit sweaters, as well as at least begin to think about designing my own. Having accomplished both those goals, with various degrees of success, it seemed only natural to add another knitting goal for 2009.

As with the latter of my knitting goals for the previous year, designing a garment, I have found myself saddled with a challenge for which I just can't seem to find a satisfactory pattern anywhere!

After doing some rather extensive searching I gave up and decided I would create my own version of this product, hopefully based on a pattern for a related item. Upon reflection, and after several false starts I've come to the conclusion it may not be the best idea to attempt to create ones own version of a product without knitting up one of a design created by someone more knowledgeable than I, especially when it involves a technique I have never had the nerve to try before. Of course, the fact that I had never even heard of this type of product before may be a factor as well. Just the same, the challenge had been set before me, and it had to do with knitting. How could I not proceed?

And so I found myself at Joann's, poring over what seemed to me to be a rather skimpy selection of DPNs (for those non knitters out there, these are Double pointed needles, something commonly used for knitting socks). Having no idea what size I would ultimately end up needing for my project, I decided to grab several different sizes, just in case. I did spot one "bonus" set of 5 each of several small sizes, and grabbed that, as well as 2 sets of 4, in slightly larger sizes.

Yesterday, after getting my household chores done, I sat myself down on the couch and emptied out the "bonus" package. The first thing I noticed was this package had been opened and taped back together. Thinking this a red flag of sorts, I opened it very carefully and proceeded to count the contents. Hmmm. I was missing 2 needles. I then proceeded to carefully place all the needles back into their container, and placed them back in the bag, along with the receipt which, thankfully, I had somehow managed to retain.

I then grabbed the smaller of the 2 other sets I had purchased and set to work. As it turns out, I have a feeling that is the smallest of the sizes I may be able to get away with so that worked out okay. I proceeded to cast on, and knit my little triangle. It looked great. I took a little break then began picking up and knitting around the triangle, setting everything up on 3 DPNs. When I was finished with this step I held my work up to admire it. It looked wonderful! So cute and neat looking, on it's three needles so perfectly aligned. Then I noticed something seemed off. I stared at this piece, wondering how in the world I had managed to end up with my beginning stitch on the wrong end of the last needle, and how was I to deal with this?

Finally I came to the conclusion that when the pattern I was basing my project on said to pick up all the stitches around then knit them, it really meant what it said, and perhaps I shouldn't have second guessed them by choosing to pick up and knit each stitch in turn.

Alrighty then! First lesson learned! I can't help but wonder how many more lessons I'm going to learn with my newest knitting venture. In the meantime I went with a previously learned lesson from last spring. When the knitting gets frustrating,to the point you are tempted in the worse way to let loose with a primordial scream sure to cause an alarmed neighbor to call the authorities, calmly put it down, and immediately change your sensible dinner plans to the most comforting food available. I felt much better after consuming my comfort meal of choice, macaroni and cheese, with a liberal side of spinach to help allay the guilt :)

Today we are heading back to town for an appointment. Once we're done there we'll be heading back to Joann's, where I expect to be able to exchange my skimpy package of "bonus" needles for a full size package with relative ease. This evening, I cast on once again....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Year Of Blessings

And so it is, we find ourselves parked in a new year; A brand new year, full of possibilities, and wonder at what may be.

Although 2008, the year we leave behind certainly had it's challenges, and the news was far from all good, even the weather threw some pretty good right punches at us, somehow I find myself thinking it was a good year. Perhaps that is because I tend to enjoy challenges, so long as they are ultimately surmountable. Or, perhaps it is because, in looking back, I tend to dwell more on the good than the bad.

In 2008, we finally broke through the invisible barriers, and managed to get permits for gleaning wood from BLM lands. In the process of harvesting that wood, we discovered some pretty amazing places, and were truly impressed with BLM's logging practices. Beginning late fall of 2008, and continuing now, in early 2009, we are happily enjoying the fruits of our labor, keeping warm by the heat emanating from our wood stove.

2008 was also the year my amazingly trusty old washer finally gave up the ghost, leaving me with a pile of laundry that grew at a rather alarming rate. In the end though, I was rewarded with a great new washer, capable of things I never realized were possible!

The old trusty washer wasn't the only appliance to give up on me in 2008.The range we purchased in 2007, gave out as well. That resulted in some interesting purchases which led to discovery of some "new to me" styles of cooking. While I will admit those experiments provided me with plenty of entertainment I was more than happy when Pa was able to locate and order the needed part, as well as figure out how to replace it, putting me squarely back in the kitchen again.

2008 was a year of discoveries for our family, including some great frugal shopping options! We discovered the Grocery Outlet in our area and have found ourselves happily saving significant amounts by starting our shopping there each week. We also learned our local little store down the road, provided us with access to Costco savings. Naturally, we're taking full advantage of that source of savings!

As with every year, my children have insisted on growing taller, older, and, according to Nathan, wiser ;-) They have learned a lot this last year, and much of that learning has been on their own time. Nathan now knows more about gardening than I do, and more than once has informed Pa and me about useful things we had not been previously aware. Lindsay is learning to crochet, and is beginning to spread her wings in other directions, discovering new interests.

Knitting was where I made my biggest strides this year. I finally broke through the barrier that held me back, and pushed beyond the squares and triangles I had become so comfortable with. In early spring I knitted my first two sweaters, for my young'uns. They turned out so well that I was encouraged to forge ahead. I then knitted a summer top for my youngest, and then tried my hand at knitting an adult garment, a top I sent my older daughter for Christmas this year.

While I was quite pleased with those projects, I think my biggest knitting accomplishment this year was creating my first original pattern. Again, it was by necessity, a rather frustrating search for a pattern for a summer shirt for my son. I searched high and low and couldn't find a thing in his size. Finally, I gave up and decided if there were none to be had, then I'd just create my own. And so I did, and he was quite happy with the finished product :)

December of 2008 was when our young'uns lost their belief in Santa Claus(Actually, Lindsay's still on the fence). Although I was a bit saddened by their loss of the fantasy of the jolly old elf, I was pleased to note in that loss, they had gained the spirit of Saint Nick. They both wore bright smiles as they marched up to the bus in the Bi-Mart parking lot with their bags stuffed full of food, and a new Christmas gift for a less fortunate child.

Towards the end of 2008 I lost one more major appliance. My old DELL, which had served me so well, for so many years one day just sputtered, blinked, sputtered again and closed it's eyes one last time. Fortunately, I realized it was getting old, slowing down, even getting a bit cranky, and so, with some hugely appreciated assistance from Kimmi's SO, Nick, we were able to order, and set up a brand new DELL, prior to the demise of our old one. Unfortunately, I hadn't managed to transfer the files from the outgoing DELL, prior to it's demise, and I lost a lot of valuable, and memorable items. I am happy to note my blog came to the rescue on at least a few of those items, memories, both in text, and in photos.

Ah! My blog! Here we are, at Boondock Babble, another product of 2008! Although I've had my lapses, times when I didn't quite manage to update so often as I ought, for the most part I've kept up on my newest blog, the one that replaced my previous two blogs. I've had a lot of fun with my blog this year. I've learned how to post pictures (which I'll be relearning as soon as we acquire a new camera), how to make a few little changes within my blog, and most importantly made new friends, and gotten to know older friends a bit better.

Yes, 2008 was a great, memorable adventure. While I am able to look back fondly on that year, I find myself eagerly awaiting 2009, the next year on our journey into the great unknown...