Mail Call: May/June 2011

Mail Call May/June 2011, our letters-to-the-editor department, gives a look into the lives of our readers.

Bessie’s Loom

The article “Grandma’s Loom,” in the March/April issue, certainly hit home in our family, so I would like to let you know about our mom, Bessie Lindsey.

Mom is 97 years old and lives with my husband and me. She wove rag rugs for more than 50 years on an antique Union Model 36 loom. She sold rugs, made them for gifts, and wove them for church groups (the church women prepared the rags for Mom to weave into rugs and then they sold the rugs).

Mom was very particular – she didn’t want any “raw” edges showing in the rugs, so sometimes she resewed the rags the women had prepared. I am enclosing the little write-up she attached to each rug she sold.

Some of her bestsellers were those made from old blue jeans, I suppose because they were so utilitarian and could be used anywhere. It was unbelievable how much “stuff” was always coming her way to be used in rugs. All types of clothing, bedspreads, draperies, curtains, etc. She would take an article of clothing, carefully open every seam so not an inch of material would be wasted, and save every button, zipper, etc., from the clothing. I guess that is why I was never interested, because I don’t have that much patience. She also made beautiful rugs from plastic bread wrappers.

Each Christmas she would have the boys haul all the rugs made that year down from her “rug room” upstairs, and her children and grandchildren would pick out a rug. That was always something we really looked forward to. Sometimes it took us a long time to decide what color we wanted.

When it came time for Mom to give up her weaving, my niece, Linda Besecker, was the only granddaughter who was really interested in taking the loom. Enclosed is a photo of Linda learning to use the loom before it was disassembled and taken to her home in Lebanon, Ohio.

We love your magazine. It seems to get better and more interesting with every issue. 

Mary R. Klingerman
South Bend, Indiana 

Grateful Winner

My husband, Kurt, and I live on 34 acres and have five children. (Editor’s Note: Kriste won the Grit-Mother Earth News Ultimate Garden Giveaway.) We enjoy growing as much food as we can for our family, friends and local charities.

Our farm is not certified organic, but we grow without chemical pesticides. (Yes, we handpick all those bugs.) That way, I know our vegetables, chicken and beef are more nutritious.

I believe everyone should have access to these types of foods. With the children to help, we bagged one ton of potatoes to deliver to our local St. Vincent de Paul. Other vegetables and eggs we take to our local soup kitchen.

I hope to instill empathy in my children. Hard times can fall upon anyone. It is our duty to help all as much as we are able. Good things will also come to you in your time of need.

I feel winning the Garden Giveaway is God’s way of saying, “OK, let’s see what else you can do!”

A huge thank-you to Ogden Publica-tions; I’ve learned a lot of what I know from your magazines.

None of these pleasures in my life would be possible without all of you!

Kriste Misiak
Posen, Michigan 

Kriste, we could not think of a more fitting winner for our contest. Readers, for more on Kriste and her family, check out Caleb’s blog post at And be sure to enter our next big giveaway for a solar hot water heater system worth more than $10,000. To enter, visit – Editors

Friends & Neighbors

My dad is 83 and recently put a request in Grit for cockscomb seeds (Friends & Neighbors, November/December 2010). More than 50 people have sent him seeds free of charge, and he has cataloged every one. He is busy plowing up every bit of available space around his antique store to plant some of every batch he received. It is a testament to the generosity of rural Americans and an elderly gentleman trying to honor that generosity.

Jeff Grote
Mason, Texas 

Beaver Correction

The article entitled, “The American Beaver,” in the March/April issue was good, but the photograph on Page 77 is not of four beavers. Those are nutria, often confused with the beaver at first glance, but the tail will always give them away. Unlike the flat tail of the beaver, the nutria has a long, round, nearly hairless tail like a rat, as you can see if you look close in the photo. Love the magazine!

Jason Harris
Professional beaver trapper
Palestine, Texas 

You are correct, Jason. Multiple readers pointed this out, so we’ve gnawed well on this mistake! Thanks for lending your expertise. – Editors

CCD Contributor

Interesting article about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) in the January/February issue of Grit. Having been a hobby beekeeper for more than half a century, there is one observation that I have yet to see mentioned in any discussion about this terrible problem. It has to do with what migratory beekeepers are feeding their bees. Before all this mess showed up, it was pure cane sugar and water. But now it’s high-fructose corn syrup. This stuff is made from genetically modified plants and contains a nasty thing called BT. It does not disappear during processing, and if you feed it to honeybees (or anything else), you are going to have a problem. It may not be the entire problem, but it will have a very bad impact on a bee. This has been proven, but is ignored. It would be interesting to survey the migratory beekeepers and see if any are still feeding only sugar/water to their bees and if they are suffering the same loss as the ones who are using high-fructose corn syrup.

Lancy Burn
via e-mail 

Thanks for your interest, Lancy. While there’s not much, if any, of the Bt endotoxin in the fructose, you’re on to something. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that researchers have shown that bees fed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) do not activate the same genes as bees fed honey. Bees fed HFCS have less ability to fight off infection and don’t turn on the enzymes needed to break down pesticides. While there are probably multiple factors that contribute to CCD, many indications seem to point to commercial agriculture (use of HFCS and huge singular crop pro-duction) as a culprit in this disturbing trend. – Editors

Chicken Enthusiast

I look forward to your “chicken” issue. I’m a 68-year-old Okie who grew up tending chickens in the backyard. Granny Cantrell cooked every part of the chicken: partially developed eggs in hens, feet,
and even the head. I remember you had to peel that pebbly skin off the feet. I still love chicken!

Dr. Jim Rawdon
Lee’s Summit, Missouri 

Love the enthusiasm, Jim! Take a look at Page 63 for more on our latest Guide to Backyard Chickens. – Editors 

Bona Fide Country Folk

After watching Martha Stewart for years and reading Grit cover to cover for a few years, the time has come. I have managed to talk my sane husband into moving to 10 acres near Logan, Iowa, which is only an hour from where we are now. Here’s the thing: I am a bona fide city girl – never lived in the country, and been on a farm maybe twice. Of course, my husband thinks I am totally nuts! I am very excited.

I am also ready for the long haul, as this will most likely be our final home, since our children are grown. I’ve been reading books about chickens, gardening, sheds, and anything remotely related to what I will be experiencing or need to do. We even designed our own home – kind of scary not to see a model of it first, let me tell you. Anyway, we begin as soon as they can dig a hole. In the meantime, any advice? Just tell me I am not totally crazy. Oh, by the way, did I mention that my son and his wife are building at the same time right next to us? This ought to be interesting, huh? Thanks for an inspirational magazine.

Andrea Brunken
Omaha, Nebraska 

Way to go, Andrea, and no, you are not totally crazy. Enjoy the new experience. If you’d like to share your story, this sounds perfect for a blog on chronicling the adjustment to a new way of life we all love. Anyone with a similar story to tell who is interested in blogging for Grit, please send an e-mail to – Editors 

Longtime Fan

My parents introduced me to Grit as a boy (I’ll be 71 in July). I’ve followed and then subscribed to your publication from the original periodic “newspaper” to your current magazine format. I was raised in Rochelle, Illinois, a mostly farming community, and now live in Wheaton, a metropolitan suburb of Chicago. Through all my travels and various homes in other states and foreign countries, Grit still is comfortable and interesting. You do nothing except improve. Thank you for your continued excellence!

Bill Hackett
Wheaton, Illinois

  • Published on Apr 18, 2011
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