30 November 2008
28 November 2008
Heritage turkey, hand-harvested and wood-parched wild rice, and winter squash were greatly enjoyed last evening.
All that business being through, today is the day to avoid car crashes near mall entrances, and instead stay home and work on the holiday plum pudding (a/k/a "famous flaming booze cake"). I am now soaking dried organic raisins and cherries in sherry in the fridge, and making some candied peel (since we didn't have the called-for citron).
Candied peel is easy to do, and you might enjoy having some around to snack on (or to give) this month, so give it a try!
I had homemade ginger syrup left over from this fantastic cocktail recipe, (danger, Will Robinson!) so I'm using that on the lemon and orange peels. I think it will add great flavor.
I also found that old recipe we used for liqueur for gifts. It's from a very old issue of Victoria magazine. This might be nice to make now and have on hand for Valentine's Day.
I would suggest you consider using organic fruit for anything calling for peel...
I made some caramels the other day, and they were delicious. Definitely a new favorite recipe. It's from the latest issue of MaryJane's Farm Magazine; it's a nice publication about organic living, "making do," crafting, cooking, and farmgirl attitude in the oughts. You may be able to find it at your local bookstore (Borders carries it here) or you can subscribe (or give a gift subscription!) online. If you'd like this holiday issue, you'd better give them a call before they're out of it.
All this cooking, and no time for fiberarts? I was determined to spend some time in my little hideaway today, as Miss Emma Dobermint encouraged me to do.
Some lovely new yarns arrived today, and I've swatching to do.
The pic below is Dream In Colors "Starry" from The Loopy Ewe. They sent a gift of a Loopy stitchmarker with my small order - how nice!
I saw an ad for this Sunday Knits scarf on Ravelry, and learned that it was made from "leftovers" from a mitten pattern Carol Sunday has in the current (Winter '08) Interweave Knits magazine. She offers the mitten yarns kitted up, with the scarf pattern included for a small extra charge. I love the colors and both designs, and have read good reviews of her yarns, so I made a little splurge. The kit arrived very quickly, beautifully wrapped, and was inside a free tote bag - cool!
I am this far on the February Lady Sweater:
Just trying to work the bodice long enough before I begin the lace pattern of the body. It's going well; the KnitPicks Swish worsted is splitty, though.
I was going to start my Drops shawl today, at Dixie's prompting, but just as I went to photograph it for you, I discovered that one of the five ungrateful wretches of our feline freeloaders had absconded with the silver Garnstudio Glitter which I'd wanted to strand along through this project. Blast!
Chef Jeff and I have hunted high and low for it, to no avail. It's probably been dropped through one of the air returns, or is buried in lint behind a piece of furniture. Oh well, good excuse to go in to town to Yellow Dog Knitting and pick up another spool... not that I need an excuse to visit and see what new goodies have recently arrived!
Miss Emma has grown tired of waiting for me to stop looking for that spool and just sit down to knit or spin.
Chef Jeff took Nellie (tractor) and Smelly (manure spreader) over to the neighbor's to help them clean out their sheep shed this afternoon.
I have to say, after just two years of farming (if you can call our inept attempts at keeping pet livestock "farming"), it is kind of nice to be called upon to assist with birthing a goat or a tractor task. We don't feel like such neophytes now. Of course, we're not so naive as to tell other farmers that our tractor actually has a name...
One very nice thing about this community is that when there is someone in need of assistance, there are always folks available to help out. Our neighbors helped us with the first goat birth here at Tuppinz Farm (when we couldn't even tell a buckling from a doeling yet!), and we'll forever be in their debt for helping us to keep alive those little kids born in the middle of a very cold January (Tulip's Samson and Delilah).
The neighbors are very different from us, and we don't see each other that often, but it's really nice to look across the fields on a dark night and see their safety light on; we know they're just a phone call away if there's any trouble. I hope they know they can count on us as well.
I'm Listening To...
...my favorite favorite winter music - consider downloading "The Holly and the Ivy" - especially if you have visions of Dickens and plum pudding floating around in your head at this time of year. It is my personal favorite rendition of a holiday carol!
Please remember to enter my CD drawing from yesterday's post - I'll pick a winner Sunday night! You can comment on either post.
27 November 2008
Happy Thanksgiving! May all who are celebrating this holiday have a relaxing, enjoyable weekend!
It seems the apple does not fall far from the tree. Falling under the "do as I say, not as I do," category, we started defrosting our turkey a little too late. Granted, it only weighs in at seven pounds, but we should have taken it out of the bag and removed the giblets yesterday, as our bird is still a bit frosty today.
No matter. Chef Jeff has just ditched me. Having seen several deer out in the pasture, he donned his blaze orange and is currently doing the hunter-gatherer-manly-man thing. The turkey will probably have ample time to defrost before he returns at dusk.
I have wanted to make the recipe in the pic below, from Spirit Of The Harvest, for years, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm thinking I'll adapt the ingredients for a side-dish for our turkey
dinner supper midnight after-hunting snack. Doesn't this just look awesome? Wish I had an extra pumpkin sitting around...
So, finding myself abandoned, and having exercised and fed the dogs (who are now napping by the fire), I have a moment to share some more favorites with you!
Michelle and I went to the cupcake shop yesterday only to find it closed. How disappointed we were. But I've found the solution - check out Bake It Pretty for fun cupcake kits! Michelle, now we can make them ourselves (or have your lovely daughter, the baker, do it!)
Here is an easy project that would make a nice gift, full of my favorite scents: a holiday potpourri made of dried oranges or lemons, star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and juniper berries.
I think it looks so nice on our Thanksgiving table.
Molly is not supposed to be gnawing on the firewood... See what happens when I'm distracted for even an instant?
Something that will appear on that table later is my favorite salad: romaine lettuce, Castle Rock blue cheese (you won't be able to find that as it's from the organic dairy down the road from us, so try Maytag instead), toasted pecans or walnuts, and Stonewall Kitchen's fabulous Balsamic Fig Dressing. It is amazing. So is their Orange Cranberry Marmalade (better than their Holiday Jam for sure).
Stonewall Kitchen usually sends extra samples of other goodies when we do a stock-up order; you can save 20% Friday through Sunday using the code Q01516R8 at checkout. Sometimes their site gets bogged down during a sale - try again if you get an error message.
I can tell you from experience that they box things very well, and even wrap gifts beautifully for a small fee. A package from Stonewall Kitchen is one that will go over well (even with your in-laws!)
Here is another place with gift baskets. We are having their wonderful wood-parched wild rice with our Turkey tonight - definitely one of my favorites. It is so different from any grocery store wild rice I've ever eaten, and a thousand times more flavorful. It also cooks up much faster, which I assume is from the parching.
I'm thankful for...
This view of the goats' barn and winter paddock, from my bedroom window:
This thoughtful gift that I received - sock yarn that is dyed with intention, in the colors of the Tibetan flag, and which includes the maker's mindfulness and compassion for all sentient beings. It's made by PippiKneeSocks, whose shop/blog I am unable to find - maybe you will have more luck. I'm thinking we've gotta keep this gal in business.
Or maybe this yarn will inspire you to create a mindful gift yourself. Check out Tara Jon Manning's Mindful Knitting for more on that subject.
I'm listening to...
Because I am thankful for you visiting me here, I have an extra copy of this CD to give away to someone who can tell me, "What's wrong with this picture?" in my comments:
Well, there's cooking to be done, and I'm wearing the chef's hat today. As the saying goes, I love to cook with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food!
Have a great weekend!
25 November 2008
My fellow Americans - is your turkey defrosting by now? My favorite, no-fail way to cook a turkey is thus:
Take your bird out of the fridge a few hours ahead of time, and bring it to room temperature. Rub it all over with butter. Stick a tiny amount of chopped onion, celery, and carrots in the cavity, along with salt and pepper and any other seasonings, and put a cheesecloth soaked in melted butter over the breast. Put the turkey a rack in a pan large enough so that air can circulate around it. Place more celery, carrots, and onions (diced - you can eventually grind them up for the gravy) around the turkey in the pan, with more butter.
I preheat my oven to 425° and then turn it down to 325-350° immediately after putting in the bird. I baste the turkey every 20 minutes (including the cheesecloth). I allow 20 minutes per pound but it usually is done sooner. Cooking this way, the bird comes out perfectly brown, every time.
Make sure you cover the bird with foil after taking it out of the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before cutting off even one piece! This makes it really juicy.
I make my stuffing separately, using purchased organic chicken stock (not broth) for the liquid. I put in fire-roasted chestnuts... preparing them keeps Chef Jeff busy with something and out of the kitchen while I get the bird going.
My mother never could cook a turkey in the allotted time frame, and Thanksgiving dinner invariably got pushed back from noon to about 4 p.m., by which time the side dishes were spoiled, and we were all crabby from starvation and not being allowed to "spoil our appetites" with a snack. The reasons for her turkey ineptitude were that she a) stuffed the turkey with dressing until it was fit to burst (and no air could circulate inside), and b) she cooked it right after taking it out of the fridge. I also think she may not have started thawing it until the day before Thanksgiving, so it was still partially frozen.
This year, we are having a heritage, rare breed turkey from Coon Creek Family Farm. We purchased two and I'm not sure what Chef Jeff has defrosting - it is either a Narragansett or a Bourbon Red. We had one of their birds last year and it was awesome! It had so much more flavor than a plain "homogenized" turkey - just like our own heritage breed Golden-Laced Wyandotte chickens taste better than "plain vanilla" birds from the store. It is amazing what was sacrificed when people decided to breed "improved" livestock for consumption - namely, flavor! Not to mention the fact that the "improved" breeds can't even reproduce naturally. Heritage breed poultry are so much more healthy, and able to forage on their own, and really thrive without human management. Give me a natural bird every time.
There are instructions for brining a turkey at the Coon Creek site, also, if you'd like to try that method.
I know our turkey spent the summer sunbathing in a low-stress, natural environment; ate healthy, organic food and grazed on a beautiful pasture; was treated respectfully and allowed to have a full life; did not have to receive antibiotics and chemicals to keep it healthy (as it wasn't raised in a compressed, confined area full of filth); and - most importantly to me - was processed humanely (the same butcher processes our own chickens for us), and purchasing it supports a small, organic, family-run farm. I know it is safe to bring this meat to room temperature before cooking because of how it lived and how it was processed. In short, if I was a turkey destined to be a Thanksgiving meal, I would want to live my life on the Coon Creek Family Farm!
Julie at Coon Creek sells some of my favorite goatsmilk soap - and she boxes it beautifully for gift-giving. Ask her about the soap with the skein of yarn imprinted on the top for your YarnArtist friends! Pop her an e-mail - she'll be glad to help you out.
One thing I am particularly grateful for this Thanksgiving is receiving an invitation to a family's holiday meal. For people to open their hearts and home to us, to think of including us, is something I will definitely be giving thanks for on Thursday.
In the past, Chef Jeff and I have made homemade liqueur to give at the holidays. It went over very well. Jayne has a recipe for Van der Hum tangerine liqueur on her blog and I think we may try it this year - perhaps with clementines?
If you see clementines in your grocery store, you must try them. Don't buy them after December, though - they will have lost much of their flavor. They are so easy to peel, and so sweet - the perfect winter afternoon snack! Another favorite at this time of year.
I will try to post another recipe for giving tomorrow, but must dash now - the farrier is on his way to attend to one of Tikki's toes.
Have a great day!
21 November 2008
Wow, this cold weather has knocked me for a loop. It's 24° (not taking into account the wind chill) for a high at 3:30 p.m.
right now when I started this missive. I thought my nose would shatter off of my face while I exercised the dogs today. How come they seem to love it when it's this temperature? I can't convince them to come in no matter how hard I beg and chase them around their pen (maybe that's part of the fun for them.) All my time seems to be spent trying to keep warm, do chores, and back up three years of digital photos to disks (argh!) but I thought I'd try extra hard to check in with you today.
One thing brightening my days as I tend to the livestock has been Gemma's CogKNITive podcast. I find the musings of this knitting prison psychologist absolutely hysterical. Gemma also offers up useful life skills tips, from a cognitive behavioral modification perspective. In other words, she reminds you to take a step back and think about what you're doing, and why, so that you don't react to everything in your life emotionally. I find this very helpful. Another podcast I've been enjoying is Knitting Rose.
I have been seeing, and been given, so many interesting things lately. I thought that with the holidays coming up I'd share some shopping resource links in case you're looking for gift ideas for your family and friends, and post some of my favorite pics to cheer you up during this busy season. So here's the first entry of "Stasia's Faves."
First I'll tell you about some of my favorite Etsy shops. I just received these beautiful olive oil lamps today. They were a custom order from the lovely Karen at One Wintry Night Pottery. It was great to work with Karen to have these made - they're just what I was looking for. The cool thing about olive oil "candles" is that they're non-allergenic, and the oil won't ignite if the lamp spills. Karen had the great idea to put a little rim underneath the lamps to prevent tippage. The glaze is a lovely khaki green with purple and blue inside the bowls. I can't wait to order from Karen again.
These adorable mugs were a gift from my dear friend Miss Kary. She had them custom made with my mammoth jackstock jennet (big donkey) Tikki on them. How cool is that?
They were so cute and sweet that I burst into tears when I saw them. They are by Memekiwii, who makes all sorts of wonderful creations.
The ornament above is from a local Scandinavian imports shop. It is a Nisse - a sort of farm elf who secretly helps with chores - on a goat. One is supposed to put a bowl of porridge with a pat of butter on it in the barn on Christmas Eve so you keep a helpful Nisse happy.
I love anything Scandinavian- or folksy-looking, as well as Scandinavian food (an upcoming post will feature Chef Jeff preparing venison according to a fantastic Scandinavian recipe from Andreas Viestad!) I love red jackets with pointy hoods and colorful trim such as the anoraks made by Wintergreen in Ely, MN.
Swedish Dala horses, Swedish clogs, Norwegian sweaters, books by Sigrid Undset... I'm just Scandinavian at heart. Perhaps some of my Russian ancestors mingled with the Finns?
My favorite yuletime holiday decorations are my little straw julbok - oh darn it, I found that link just to show you what they are, but it looks like I may have to do my part to support the economy in a minute, that's so cute! While we're on the subject of cookies thanks to that link, I stocked up on some cutters and deocrating sugars from FancyFlours.com and I can't recommend them highly enough - they ship really fast, and everything is wrapped beautifully in tissue, with a sugar cookie recipe included (Nannette H., don't even look; I sent the girls something from there today to keep them out of your hair while you're studying!) Check out their blog for some wonderful ideas. YarnArtists (my new word for knitters and crocheters, inspired by Cat Bordhi, who tells us in her CraftSanity interview that the distinction will soon blur beyond recognition) will love their sweater, cap, mitten, and stocking cookie cutters.
Back to elfwear. I love that Wintergreen clothing, and have a pair of mittens and a hat through which I feel absolutely no cold, even in the most bitter weather. If you're looking for something warm for a loved one, take a peek! The clothing is made very well, as one would expect from a small, hometown company formed by people who have been to the polar ice cap, and who run dogsledding vacations. But though I've lusted after one of their red, elfie anoraks for years, I couldn't justify getting one only to get donkey dirt and goatie hoofprints all over it. Lands' End had free shipping today so I got this practical coat instead, in manure brown so it won't show the dirt so much. ETA: Deer season opened today and I realize the stupidity of having purchased a brown jacket to work out in the pasture!
Maybe someday I will be able to dress like a Tomten. I could wear this skirt, and these clogs, with my hair done up like Mrs. Olsen from the Folger's commercials, or Kirsten of the American Girls.
On to current favorite foods. I told you about the cupcakes from Dessert First - I've been there twice more, and actually saved some cupcakes long enough to get a photo for you. I can assure you, they disappeared in less than five minutes of taking this shot. They were chocolate, pumpkin, and red velvet - yuuuuummmmmm... Barstow Street is my favorite street in Eau Claire, what with Yellow Dog Knitting, Dessert First, and the Scandinavian and Native American shops within easy walking distance.
I guess that won't help you if you're not in this neck of the woods, but perhaps there is a special bakery in your town which you haven't yet tried? Why not explore something new and get yourself a treat while you're shopping for everyone else?
Now my favorite current knit. Dixie from YDK (one of my favorite people!) is going to learn Norwegian so that she can converse with the manufacturer of her new yarn line, Garnstudio/Drops. I wonder if I could convince her to pack me in a suitcase and smuggle me aboard her flight if she goes over for a visit? The last time I was in her shop I purchased some wonderful Garnstudio alpaca yarn to make a shawl that Dixie had on display - I'll be casting on very soon. The pattern shows it in their Kid Silk, but mine will be in a denim blue alpaca with a tiny strand of silver Glitter carried along.
Of course, no list of my faves would be complete without my kids, so here are some shots to give you a smile. Our house doesn't get above 58° indoors in the winter (sometimes just 45° at night in the bedroom!), so the furbabies are usually found snuggling together for warmth, as Emma and Squeaky, Max, and Barley are doing above.
My last fave of the day is this picture of Molly as a baby. She still makes me smile every single time I see her, with her comical ways and quizzical looks.
OK, I've been working on this for five hours... time to go knit!
I'm Listening To...
06 November 2008
It was a drizzly day, but still unusually warm. I had a wonderful afternoon with Michelle and Dianne (RaveLink). We met at Yellow Dog Knitting and then went across the street to the Acoustic Cafe for soup. Michelle and I also stopped at Dessert First for their famous cupcakes (holey moley!!!)
The gals introduced me to Melissa at the shop (hi, Melissa!) She also keeps sheep. It's nice to live in a small town where everyone loves wool.
I was thrilled to find that Dixie (RaveLink) had set aside the latest Garnstudio Drops pattern booklet for me. I swear that lady must have ESP - I was on my way in to get it, and found that she'd saved the last copy with my name on it! Now that is service! (They are checking to see if they can get more copies in, as Michelle also wants this issue, so if you're interested, feel free to give them a call.)
After seeing a sample shawl (RaveLink) that Dixie had knit from the book (#108-47 on the Garnstudio page), I knew I had to make it. Dixie used the Garnstudio Alpaca yarn with a thin thread of soft, silver, sparkly stuff. It gives the impression of beading without the work, and doesn't alter the feel of the shawl in the least. So I purchased the yarn to shamelessly copy her efforts, as well as a skein of Kureyon sock yarn in greens and purples. I'm always a sucker for the Noro colors, and Cindi (RaveLink) said people are making nice little shawlettes with this, so I had no choice. Ahem.
I meant to take lots of pics but I was having so much fun gabbing that I forgot to take out my camera until I was on the way home and saw this leafless oak in a newly-harvested corn field. Hope that will give you a little taste of this fall day. I also intended to take a pic of my Turtle Turtle cupcake for you, but I ate it as soon as I got home - sorry.
The sun shone for a few moments today but for the most part, we had sprinkles, and then very high winds - I came home to find the lid of our grill blown clear across the yard, and many fallen branches (yay, kindling with no hard work.)
I also saw three redtail hawks gliding over the stubbly corn fields; no hiding places for rabbits, voles, and mice now that the stalks have been cut. And yesterday, I was lucky enough to see nine or ten wild turkeys in the field behind the donkeys' pasture; if you look closely you may be able to make them out behind Tikki.
The Annie Modesitt Silk Corset has been driving me bananas. Below is yet another attempt - see how far I got this time before I realized I was reading the chart wrong for the wrong side? I simply can't transpose lace charts when they use a "-" for purl on the right side, and the same symbol for knit on the wrong side - just can't wrap my brain around it being a symbol for two different stitches, though I completely understand the fabric construction. Doesn't make for "mindless" knitting (which I crave) at all.
Solution? Do it in the round! I should have listened to my instincts earlier and done it this way from the start.
Now we're in business. No more chart mistakes.
But I'm thinking the variegated yarn is looking splotchy. I haven't alternated two balls so far on this piece because I was having enough trouble with the pattern... I'm thinking I'll start alternating now to break the colors up a bit, but will the splotchiness of this neckline section bug me later on? I wonder if I should put a lifeline in? Then, if it does look wonky later, would I be able to rip this part out, pick up from the top of the next section I'm about to do, and re-knit this part backwards?
I think I think too much.
Yoda thinks I should just have a little more coffee. I think she's right. Nothing like friends, fiber, and a good cuppa' Joe on a blustery fall day.
04 November 2008
You Need Some Green in Your Life
Green will make you feel alive, renewed, and balanced. And with a little green, you will project an aura of peacefulness and harmony. If you want stability, you've got to get a little green in your life!
For extra punch, combine green with blue or purple. The downside of green is that it can promote jealousy in yourself or others.
The consequences of more green in your life? You will be drawn to a new life path. You will feel free to pursue new ideas and interests, no matter how strange. You will be released from the demands and concerns of others.
What Color Do You Need?
The guilt won out and I voted. I forgot that I had one more choice. What a country! But I didn't get cookies and I didn't get a sticker - I was bummed.
Thought I'd show you the one-room schoolhouse that serves as our voting place. One booth. Five nice ladies who remember who owned our farm 25 years ago. No line. No other voters! But it had apparently been a busy morning, with 36 people voting before we did at 8 a.m. We didn't have to present any identification - Otter Creek is a small community and as newbies, we kind of stand out (Jeff was voting in a suit in a community where most folks wear John Deere hats.)
Chef Jeff signed up to be a poll worker next year, as his company encourages employees to dedicate a day to volunteer work. The polling ladies were impressed with his Declaration of Independence Silk Tie.
Since there is only an old outhouse behind the "town hall" they have to rent a porta-potty for election day. Hee hee.
Another glorious day here in Wisconsin, so I took the dogs up to the playpen a little early and let them blow off some steam. If you need a quick dog pen, cattle panels and posts are inexpensive, and an easy way to go. I don't know what I would do without an area where they could all safely romp and get out their P&V. Daily exercise makes them so much more well-behaved indoors, and being youngsters (except for Valentine), they really need to work off some adrenaline every day.
Exercise is a better option, I believe, than crating a dog who suffers from boredom when its "parents" are away. A crate is great for giving a dog a den for a feeling of security, or for playing a role in housebreaking a puppy in-between letting it out every three hours... but it's no replacement for the daily workout that every healthy dog needs, and which will help prevent him from releasing his energy through chewing up your sofa cushions while you're at work.
That being said, if you have a young dog, expect some household losses; despite all of Molly and Emma's exercise, they still destroyed a recliner in a single afternoon. God made puppies cute directly in proportion to their penchant for mischief.
Our dogs beg to be taken to the playpen at a set time every day. They have some kind of internal alarm clock that goes off (and which has not changed despite the Daylight Savings Time switch, throwing me off), and suddenly they are all jostling me, trying to lick my face, and panting vigorously. One word - "Playpen?" - sets off a frenzy of excited barking, and we are on our way up the hill to the little run. It's shaded in summer by giant maple trees, and sunlit in winter, being on the south side of the apple orchard on the hill.
Want to see the Tuppinz Pups in action?
Molly is not supposed to dig in the pen but when she's worn out from playing tug-of-octopus with Emma, she resorts to excavating tree roots. Don't tell Chef Jeff, but I think it's funny when she does it. He's the one who fills in the holes so he doesn't find it quite as humorous.
What a wonderful fall day! Now that the trees are a bit bare and the fields have been harvested, I can show you the layout of the farm. I took a couple of pics on my way back from voting.
The photo above is a view of our farm from the south:
A - the house amongst the old maple trees
B - the brooder house (chicken coop)
C - the goats' barn
D - the "long barn"; it's falling down so only the upstairs is used for light storage
E - the "big barn" which is being repaired; it's a former dairy cow barn
F - the donkeys' and sheeps' current shelter (will eventually be the big barn)
G - Nellie The Tractor's garage
H - hay storage
I - two more hay storage buildings
J - the neighbor's cornfield
K - another neighbor's land; we call this area "Dr. Zhivago-land" because it's full of beatiful birch trees and looks like Russia.
In the picture above, A is Jazz, Tikki, and Eli; B is a Jacob sheep to the left of a little sheep shelter; C are the guinea fowl; and D is the "basement" of the chicken coop where the sheep have excavated a hole so that they can go under the building in the summer and stay cool. They have a large building and large trees in their pasture to provide shade, but apparently the walk is too far for them, or it is cooler lying next to the rock foundation. In any case, it's quite a scene when they all decide to pop out from underneath the coop at once.
The white building is an ugly garage with a roof that leaks; it's going to have to be torn down before it falls down. I will be glad when it is gone because it is hideous and useless, and blocks a beautiful view.
Right. Here we are looking towards the south. A is the road where I took the first photo, looking north. B marks two huge mounds of dirt - a new neighbor is putting up a tractor shed on that site, prior to building a house on that land. C is "Dr. Zhivago-land" along that same road, which curves east and then south from our property. And of course in front we have Tikki and Jazz.
The sumac berries are nice and red. The leaves are almost gone. I think this is the last day of Indian Summer. I'm off to enjoy the afternoon, and curiously await the outcome of the election tonight. Have a good one, and may the best candidate win!