Archive for the ‘food and garden’ Category

no place like home

Friday, April 17th, 2015

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i know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s home to me. haha, actually, it almost looks like i live in a nursing home, doesn’t it? oh well, i still miss it when i’m gone for a while.

sorry for the extra time between posts, it’s always a little rush-rush when i get back form a trip because i have to get my bearings and catch up a bit. plus we had a blanket club chapter to publish this week, which i hope everyone is enjoying.

when i prepared to go to new mexico, i packed the last of my two sweater projects in the hope that i would complete three remaining sleeves in the five days that i was to be away. HAHAHAHA.

but one can dream can’t one?
and it’s good to be prepared (remember, i got stuck in hurricane sandy and i was really REALLY happy to have extra knitting that week, though it probably damaged my sense of proportion for life.)

anyway, i didn’t get much done at all on my sleeves over last weekend. i don’t know why; they are the best travel knitting. but somehow i got distracted by my crescent shawl project (which has no deadline) and i couldn’t stop knitting on it.

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when i left my house i wasn’t quite done with the hem. i pulled it out in the airport lounge while waiting to board the first flight and that’s when it became my weekend knitting of choice.

by the time i got through my first day of classes, i was ready to begin the short row shaping section, so i got that set up in the quiet of my room that night. i did knit on my first sleeve a little bit, but not as much as i thought i would. ok, i got the cast on and two rows of ribbing done; that’s it.

you saw the progress i made on the crescent shawl throughout the weekend—i was all about knitting garter stitch in short rows, alright. plus stopping to admire the fabric—it’s SO darn squishy and soft. and pretty.

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when i boarded the plane to go home at holy-cow-o’clock on monday morning, i had just about ten rows to go—the longest ones, of course. but i was binding off as we landed in denver a short time later; all done, yay.

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it was a little bit of a relief actually. kind of like when you finish off that bag of delicious chocolates you can’t keep your hands off of—much as you enjoyed them, you’re sorta glad they are gone so they won’t tempt you any more. in fact, you may have even eaten the last ones in a bit of a rush to get there, without actually savoring them as you should.

or maybe you just enjoy the good stuff without overthinking everything the way i do, haha. that’s the smart way to live life . . .

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so anyway, once i had the shawl off my needles i got my first orange sleeve out and got down to business. i’ve got a deadline and i don’t miss deadlines, dammit.

my renewed energy for it stood me well because by the time i got off the plane in canton at mid-afternoon, i was all the way to the armhole bind off. since i was basically getting off the plane and continuing on to teach another class, i just kind of kept going and by supper time, i was done with that first sleeve. i’m enjoying the yarn no end—it’s briar rose joyful and i’m not sure what chris will name this colorway, but i will always think of it as orange you glad.

for the next couple of days my time was tied up with a range of projects—putting the chapter layout together and writing up some designer notes (we’d done all the video and photo work earlier in the month), completing edits on sweater pattern files and checking in with test knitters, blocking a couple of shawls (including the one i’d just finished—more on that in a minute), and in between all that, knitting on my sleeves. i had two left for the deadline cardigans and half a sleeve for the pullover. and here at week’s end, everything is shaping up nicely for a successful finish.

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the pullover sleeve is in a holding pattern just until i get the other ones completed. i know i can finish that in a matter of hours and on my own time. my second orange sleeve is well on its way to being done.

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i’m a few rows shy of the armhole bind off and from there, the sleeve cap is all downhill sailing. now that makes it sound as if the orange sweater is really far ahead of the blue one, which i have only to about the elbow.

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my last sleeve piece (spirit trail tayet in colorway midnight rendezvous) is woefully behind the orange one BUT—and it’s a big but—once it’s done, the sweater is fini; there isn’t much finishing work beyond stitching up seams. the orange cardigan however, will need seaming AND button bands and you know they always take longer than we think they will.

still, with no other deadlines in sight at the moment, i feel good about being done with all of it by the end of the weekend. i will finish at least one of these sleeves tonight, probably the orange one and there’s little enough there that if i do, i can block the sweater pieces as well. and when i sit down to watch TV later on, i can seam the shoulders and begin the button/neckbands.

that’s actually an excellent plan for this evening; let’s go with that.

tomorrow we have a wedding to attend in the afternoon but i bet we’ll be home early enough for me to finish the blue sleeve. i’m pretty anxious to block those sweater pieces and see what i’ve got; i’m just dying to see how that lapel/collar works out. the blocked fabric is so different from the knitted fabric, which has a little bit of a wiry feel. once its washed however, it gets much, much silkier.

i’ve allowed for that in what seems like a fair amount of extra fabric, but i don’t want it to look skimpy once it drapes properly. fingers crossed.

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and when all of that is done, i can get back to finishing up the last bit of the sleeve for my luscious pullover which i am anxious to wear, even if it’s just for one chilly day.

sometimes when i spend a lot of time in my desk chair during the day, i want to do something at some point that does not require sitting, so on two different mornings this week, i put a shawl in to soak after coffee that i could block later in the afternoon.

one was the reversible crescent shawl i finished on my trip—i had decided i wanted to gift it to a special friend for an Important Birthday.

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whaddaya think? it’s  a wonderfully versatile length, long enough to do a keyhole pull

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or to wrap around twice to show both sides.

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i like it; i hope she does (i think she will). now i need to take those numbers and measurements i wrote down and turn them into a pattern.

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i actually want to make one with the same hem that is triangular—i know everyone loves the crescent style, but my preference is for triangle—what can i say? i march to a different drummer. while i have it all in my head, i think i’ll cast on and knit another for myself.

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i’ve had my eye on this mocha shade for a while; it’s enchanting me with its glints of gold and undercurrents of gray. such complex, rich tones; i must knit with it.

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we had a lot of chilly rain when i first got home and i saw right away that nothing much had happened in the garden. but with warmer temperatures the last couple of days and sun today, we are catching up. the buds on the maple tree just outside my desk window seem to be growing and popping before my eyes.

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even against a gray and rainy sky ( or maybe especially so . . .) they are gorgeous.

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david has been working on the vegetable garden to prepare it for planting in a few weeks—we could even set out onions and greens over the weekend. i’ll have to see if i can pick some up tomorrow.

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the big news really is in the flowers, which are finally blooming and plentifully at that (i was getting a little worried it wouldn’t happen, to tell you the truth).

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my beloved tulips suddenly have big leaves, big buds, and flowers, yay!

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and the jonquils are opening, issuing their delicate scent.

the ground is still rather cold however and around back, the perennials were just barely waking up when i took a walk around the yard this morning.

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hosts are putting out very tentative nubs, but i know from experience that once they get going, we could practically watch them get taller by the hour.

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and our funny friend, the may apple is nosing out as well, enough to be seen in just one or two places, almost hidden. but we know that they will be endlessly entertaining in no time.

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nearby, the fiddleheads are still tightly coiled but beginning to stir.it’ll be a while for them, i think.

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surprisingly though, the lily of the valley has sprung and is taller than i expected, especially the ones close to the house foundation.

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and most have their little buds already, too. funny because these are a hosta and the other hostas are still so small.

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oh i could go on and on—as you know our yard is a bottomless treasure trove of plant life. i think i’ll end with the hydrangea though, another surprise. i feel like its early this year, though maybe not.

it’s time for us to go grocery shopping so i’m going to close with a hint of something else—something super special—i blocked yesterday.

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i’ll tell you about it next time .  .

so close

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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one week later, it’s definitely spring—one day up and one day down; you can’t predict. on friday, the daffodils were ready to burst open at the slightest nudge from mother nature, though it wasn’t to be that day.

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i met up at lunchtime with cathy and agnes (we missed you nancy!) to kick off the holiday weekend, which was always one of my favorites in the city because it is celebrated so widely and differently from one faith to the next.

after lunch i had a couple of errands to run in midtown, but since it was raining i hopped on the train instead of walking as i usually would. in just a few minutes i was at 34th street and close to my destination—M&J trimmings.

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the streets in midtown were literally thronged with people and the atmosphere was festive, despite the dark, drippy weather. swallowed by the crowd outside the subway, i instinctively turned myself into a bicycle wheel to thread my way through.

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inside the store i headed straight for the wall of buttons and quickly found what i came for—brown leather ones. there were several boxes with choices in fact, but only one had enough of the same, correct size for my sweater.

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i would have liked them just a tad darker, but i think i can doctor them with a bit of oil or shoe polish. i would also have liked to get four of them in a slightly smaller size for the button detail at the side seams, but they weren’t available. i’m hoping that something in my button box might match or come close.

sigh, sometimes even when you can choose from seemingly all the buttons in the world, there still aren’t enough, haha. i probably should have made the effort to go on to another button store, but the weather had turned ugly again by the time i left and i was getting anxious to go home. instead i ran by 5th avenue chocolatier to pick up a present for david and headed back to brooklyn to knit late into the night.

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i worked on the back piece for my triticum cardigan as long as i could, but with thick clouds darkening the sky, i had to switch projects fairly early in the evening.

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fortunately, i have the perfect thing for low light conditions—my bright orange cardigan, which you last saw as just a hem. i got busy with that and by the time i went to bed, i had knit to the underarm bind off and little beyond. i actually took this photo on saturday morning, allowing the sun to do it justice.

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the sky outside when i woke up was swirling in the most unusual way—those foreground clouds were moving to the right and the background clouds to left as the wind blew at 25 mph and higher. fortunately, they cleared off soon enough and while it remained windy, the sun shone to warm things up.

haha, it was blowing so hard in fact that running was impossible, the result being that i was pushed all over the place every time my feet left the ground. i had to settle for walking that day instead, which was fine—a good day for it, in fact.

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the farmers market was open on grand army plaza and i visited with my friend mary after lunch. the food offerings are not plentiful just now but non-food ones are abundant.

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forced bulbs and little potting plants provided much needed color, though i’m not sure they were so happy getting knocked about by the gusting winds that afternoon.

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everyone wants spring to take a leap forward and people were buying herb and flower plants by the box, though i couldn’t help but wonder how long they’d be able to keep them alive.

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these little seedlings seem awfully vulnerable, bent as they are in the wind. still, it was a lovely, lovely afternoon.

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back at the apartment, i finished up the back piece for the misters cardigan and got back to work on the one for the triticum cardigan, hoping to make good headway before evening.

before i knew it, i’d finished that one too, and started on the left front piece.

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i really got a lot of knitting done over this past weekend in fact—and it was sooo good to immerse myself in just knitting and making. my hands needed that—and it gave me so much time to think, too.

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i’m trying to decide about how to finish the front edges of this sweater. at first, i thought it would need an added edge of some sort and i planned to knit i-cord all around the front and neck edges as the finish.

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but i’ve been playing around with the four purl sts that lie next to the edge and at least for me, they look nice enough to allow a curled self-edging to form that is nearly identical to i-cord, but without the hassle. the final decision has to wait until i see what they look like after blocking, but if they are smooth and elegant, i don’t why they won’t do. i’m not sure adding an i-cord edge is necessarily, at least for my own knitting. i will probably keep the i-cord finish in the pattern, though for those knitters who are not happy with their curled edges and want more of a finish—knitter’s choice, so to speak.

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the moonrise on easter eve was nothing short of spectacular. with the sky completely cleared of clouds, it rose large and orange and full; just perfect.

the next morning was balmy and calm, so after some knitting and coffee, i headed out for a nice long run. i did a good eight-miler, and then walked around a bit to cool down. i was picking up a few items at the store when i ran into an old friend of ours.

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phyllis represents david’s mom and has a small art gallery in park slope; in fact she had a show of mary’s work on the walls at the moment and told me to come on over to take a look.

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i just wish i had taken more photos, darn it; we were taking a mile a minute and i didn’t end up getting the whole show. i hadn’t seen phyllis in years so this was a nice surprise and a good break. i’m so glad i went into that store—i almost didn’t!

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i spent the rest of the day knitting on the front piece for triticum—if it looks like i’m a woman hellbent on a mission, i sort of am; i want to get these two sweaters finished by the end of next week so they can be shipped out to the dyers to show at maryland sheep and wool.

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and i’m almost there—the week’s knitting retreat was a great success. just two full sleeves and one partial sleeve to go, plus seaming, button bands, and possibly an i-cord edging.

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on the plane last night i worked on my sleeve during the quick flight. this morning i knit on the triticum front while i watched the rain come down in torrents outside. they are each edging toward completion and i’m looking forward to the finishing work.

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and i still have to finish one last sleeve for the pullover version—i didn’t quite get that done before i left. always plenty to do . . .

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here at home, it was much to wet to go out and explore the garden, but i did notice a few crocuses blooming near the front walk—maybe daffodils are on the way?

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robins are puffing up their chests at one another outside; maybe that will lead to a nest we can watch.

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the yard is starting to come to life . . . at the next sunny day, we’ll get out and see what’s blooming or broken ground. spring is late, but it’s bound to appear any day now, haha.

it’s time . . .

Friday, March 20th, 2015

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old man winter is a sassy thing isn’t he? thinks he can get us down by thumbing his nose at us one last time as we show him out the door—HA.

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yes, we woke to quite a little scene this morning, after half a week of sunny, lovely weather.

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still, i can’t complain—spring is coming at me like a freight train all of a sudden. when we left town last thursday the yard was still covered in a deep layer of snow, but by the time we returned on sunday, it has disappeared. i noticed on my way into the house that garlic was sprouting in all directions from it’s hump in the garden.

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the weather has definitely broken for good—though we are still having nights in the 20s, i don’t think we’ll be seeing any more of those single digit temperatures, thank goodness. and though these photos look quite gray, we actually had some brilliant days this week.

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and even from the gray we get hints of something bright and cheerful; solomon’s seal is up. in fact, springy growth is pushing up out of the soil at an eager rate in every corner of the garden. i don’t know if we are quite ready to think about all that yet, but the warning has been issued—time to get things in order.

tulips, hosta tips, daffodils, and hyacinth are all making an appearance. did not see crocuses though; i wonder where they’ve gotten to?

and of course, training must pick up for spring races; i have been sluggish on getting back to my usual spring running routine. february really did a number on my schedule and i need to get back into my happy place with it.

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speaking of happy places and nice weather, we have organized a summer retreat for wooster weekend (memorial day weekend). classes and activities will take place here in canton (about a half hour from the show grounds) at the lovely mcKinley grand hotel—which has tons of space for a gigantic knitters gathering.

we have been having trouble with the signups page for a few days and we are working on it—thank you for your patience!! 

in the meantime, please don’t worry that you have missed out on getting a seat. if you are making plans and want to be sure, we will be happy to take your reservation and invoice you by email (davidATknitspotDOTcom or servicesATknitspotDOTcom). you may click here to read all the details; online signups will be available as soon as we can fix it!

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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david picked up some gorgeous orchids on sale during a trip to the home store over the holidays. they are blooming like gangbusters and we are managing to keep them alive—score one for the home team.

the white one is doing a spectacular job of putting out, but the purply pink one kind of stealing the show, despite having less blooms.

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this one is such a diva, though—it catches a chill easily and needs to be moved back and forth from window sill to island every day or two to keep it from wilting in the draft. i gladly accommodate its fussy nature, as this spot of color is a merry island in a sea of january white and gray.

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yeah, we got dumped on this week in a storm completely unrelated to the one hitting the east coast right now. here, i thought we were expecting snow from the outer reaches of that system and BAM—we got hit from behind instead.

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between snowstorms and holidays, i don’t think the kids have had school more than three days in a row since the first of january, haha.

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not all the white is a challenge though—look at what my friend susie brought to knitting class on monday. she knit this vine flower dress from the über-soft organic pakucho cotton worsted we have in our online shop in the baby’s breath shade. how adorable is that? this dress is an easy knit and such a nice gift for a little girl baby. it will grow with a child so that she can wear it as a dress for a couple of year and then use it as a top.

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inside, we stay warm by keeping the home fires burning under pots of stew and soup, interspersed with fiery skillets of stir fry. this italian vegetable stew has several ingredients from our garden, including tomatoes from the freezer, carrots and garlic from the cellar, and fresh dug potatoes which we are storing deep under mounds of dirt in the garden, where they grew. david digs those up in batches whenever we have a bit of a thaw.

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while i cook, i add a few rounds on my natty cap whenever i have to wait for  something to boil or for the mirepoix to sweat bit.

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this new batch of kent DK in the tide pool shade is SO squishy—it’s funny how different shades of the same yarns have their own special character, even in blends. this particular batch is very bouncy and is showing some great stitch definition; perfect for this fabric, with its knit/purl texture.

i also work on the hat while sipping my first cup of coffee in the morning—starting the day with a bit of knitting helps me to get my thoughts in order. when i get to my desk, i know what i need to get done and it’s easier to avoid the black hole of email.

right now, i’m getting several new sweater patterns organized and out to the tech editor, putting together materials for the first installment of our blanket statement club, and working on the script for my next craftsy class—this one’s about sweater construction, in case you have input—which will go into production at the end of february.

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by lunch time i’ve worked up quite a hunger, so i indulge in some local color—leftovers from a spicy stir fry dinner or a small bowl of thick soup. now that is good food for warming things up.

with secret club knitting on hiatus for a short while, i’m trying not to spread myself thin by working on too many projects at once, because i want to make headway on my cam cable pullover sweater and think about my next sweater to go on the needles.

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so far, this strategy is paying off—i’ve got two sleeves finished already. and in a raglan sweater, the sleeves represent a good chunk of knitting.

after binding off the second sleeve last night, i cast on for the front before heading to bed.

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i figured getting that out of the way would allow me to launch right into some good knitting time when i got back to work on it. and as soon as i finish up this post, that’s just what i’m going to do.

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remember laura’s woodcutters toque i showed you the other day? well she showed up at the office today with it all done. isn’t it cute? it still needed a bath but i’ve taken care of that now—we’ll get some nice photos of it later this week. the yarn (our chebris blend in worsted weight) is absolutely dreamy—so unbelievably soft and with an incredible fluffy halo that gives it an other-worldy haze. can’t wait til you all can feel it too.

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well, she’s going to need that that—temperatures are going down to zero and maybe below as we speak; we are pulling i the drawbridge and getting our blankets on tonight. see you next time.