12/29/2008

Shouse Family Update


I went to see my friends, the Ester Shouse family, over the weekend. (I think I previously said they were in St. Clair County, they lived in Bates County, MO, in West Central MO, where I grew up). A couple of folks from our Friday night dinner group had given me checks to deliver to Ester and I wanted to see how she is doing. The lot where the house stood has been bulldozed and the old basement filled. The spot has been leveled and as soon as the ground settles enough, and the weather cooperates, the boys will be pouring a concrete slab. Radiant heat pipes are planned in the concrete for a circulating hot water heating system. The family decided that Ester doesn't need to be, (1) climbing stairs, thus no new basement (she had fallen twice in the past year on the old kitchen back steps and broken her arm) and (2) doesn't need to be filling a wood stove or furnace with wood. It's nice to see their progress and Ester said to say thank you to everyone who has sent checks. "We are so grateful. People have been so nice to us, please tell them thank you." I know for a fact they still need help with buying materials for construction, so if you feel like sending something, the address is posted on the previous posting about the fire. And thank you.

I just received this email from Dot in West VA, commenting on my article about Sumac in The Heirloom Gardener magazine and I just had to share it with you here:
Reading the article about zatar & sumac berries, I was reminded of the way our local 4-Hers use the berries to make
pink lemonade to sell at a local fair. It is always a very successful fund raiser! First, and very important: locate a wringer-type washing machine and clean thoroughly. Next, add a predetermined amount of sumac berry bunches, cleaned. Fill the tub with cold water and turn on the agitator. Let run until desired strength is obtained (usually several hours). Drain into clean containers and sweeten to taste. To my way of thinking, sumac lemonade is better than lemon lemonade! Plus, the kids have fun making it; they have a real sense of accomplishment and it doesn't cost a lot to do!"
Dot Montgillion, Owner,Smoke Camp Crafts, Past Pres WV Herb Assn.

And Marcia in North Carolina sent this, which I am anxious to try: "Try toasting the sumac berries like you would sesame seeds. They smell wonderful! Let me know what you think."

And the news from here is, I ordered my onion plants yesterday from Dixondale Farms. They are the only supplier of onion plants that will ship them to you when you want (instead of "shipped at the appropriate date for your area" which is useless for our area because they always ship 3 months too late). If you want great healthy plants, great selection and shipped when YOU want, try them.

The other news is Barbara brought along her AeroGarden for her stay here. I've not watched one in operation. It was her Christmas present from us last year and she says she's been enjoying growing herbs and lettuce. She planted lettuce seed 3 days ago and it is already 1/2 inch tall! It's an amazing machine, with a grow light on a timer, water and nutrients below and the lettuce grows in little pots that set just above the water. It is an an incredible system and she grows enough for her to have salads and lettuce on her sandwiches all winter long.

1 comment:

Grumpy Gardener said...

Jim,

I, too, am a fan of sumac lemonade, though I think we should call it sumac-ade. It's not easy to get people to try it. My brother has always been deathly allergic to poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), a totally different plant, but he lumps all sumacs together as evil plants that should be exterminated. When he saw me drink the sumac-ade, in his mind I might as well have been drinking kool-aid with Jim Jones. By the way, which sumac do you use? Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)?