Pyrotechnic Greetings

Filed under: Family Updates,Glimpses — Chamberlain @ 4:38 pm
No. 138

An exuberant 4th of July Greetings and family update to the Chamberfolk from the Kalish-Withers contingent.




Happy 4th of July !!!!!

the Kalish & Withers clan

We hope that this finds you healthy and in good spirits. 

Graham turned 22 in April, while his Semester at Sea® ship was docked in Capetown, South Africa.  On January 17th, the ship departed from Ensanada, Mexico and after visiting 13 ports of Call and with a  refueling stop in Singapore, the ship returned to the U.S. arriving on may 5th at Fort Lauderdale.  With 26,002 nautical miles under his belt,a lifetime of memories and a passel of new friends, Graham is ready to stay Stateside for a while. He began a summer internship with Build-a–Bear Workshop® on June 7th.  This will take him right up to the start of his Senior year at the University of Georgia, where he is majoring in marketing with a minor in sociology.   

Powell turned 25 in April, with a surprise party held at home.  He is working for
Hilliker Corporation, a commercial and industrial real estate company in St. Louis, working on a number  of deals.  In January, he moved into his two story condominium downtown loft, which he shares with one of his very best friends from high school and another friend whom he met during college.

Manning turned 28 in June,  He is a Captain in the Army, currently serving as Commanding Officer of HHC, 2-30 IN, 4 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Polk, LA.  He will commence Captains‘ Military Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, AZ in  mid-July. 

Eleanor continues volunteering with the St. Louis Convention & Visitor Commission,at the airport’s Terminal1 and Forest Park.  A permanent shift has become available with more to follow, hopefully. Her still very active  mother turned 90 in April with a quiet celebration. 

Ralph is finishing his two year position as President of  the Board of Central Institute for the Deaf and continues working on the Board of the Friends of St. Luke’s Hospital.  Ralph just made his first presentation as Branch Rickey at a birthday party for his sister, Karen,  at the end of May and completed a triathlon on Father’s Day.  

We all hope that you have a wonderful summer filled with laughter, liberty, good food, games outside, walks on a beach, swims in a lake, and beautiful sunsets. 

With love from Graham,Powell, Manning, Eleanor and Ralph 

July 4, 2010 



Thanks to Aunt Eleanor for including us in her update, and congratulations to all the K-W family – especially Great Aunt Alicia. More updates/kudos in the works !


In the Spotlight

Filed under: Drama,Entertainment,Family Updates,Glimpses — Chamberlain @ 1:56 pm

Drama aficionados, take note! Anne Dollimore will be playing in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, running from the 12 – 28th of March at the Muddy Waters Theater in midtown St Louis. Showings will be on Friday and Saturday at 8:00PM and Sundays at 2:00PM. If you haven’t been to the Kranzberg Arts Center (Grand and Olive), you can enjoy the talents of one of our own and at the same time experience one of the brightest new venues in the Grandel arts scene.

Here’s a synopsis from the Muddy Water web site:

Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms

March 12 – March 28 | Directed by Jerry McAdams

The setting is 1870’s New England. Widower Ephraim Cabot abandons his farm to his three sons. Eben, the youngest and brightest sibling, feels the farm is his birthright, as it originally belonged to his mother. He buys out his half-brothers’ shares of the farm with money stolen from his father, and Peter and Simeon head off to California to seek their fortune. Later, Ephraim returns with a new wife, the beautiful and headstrong Abbie, who enters into an adulterous affair with Eben. Soon after, Abbie bears Eben’s child, but lets Ephraim believe that the child is his, in the hopes of securing her future with the farm. The proud Ephraim is oblivious as his neighbors openly mock him as a cuckold. Abbie has fallen madly in love with Eben and becomes fearful it would become an obstacle to their relationship, Abbie commits a terrible crime. An enraged and distraught Eben turns Abbie over to the sheriff, but not before admitting to himself his responsibility.

With Prozac in hand, the combination of Anne Dollimore and a great venue will surely make for a memorable evening – kudos to Anne for landing a role in this production!

A Kitchen Garden Sketch

Filed under: Agriculture,Family Updates,Glimpses — Chamberlain @ 3:27 pm

To alleviate our winter doldrums – even though, officially, it’s only been winter for a couple of weeks – here is a superb and reinvigorating piece by Emily Gatch. This is an engaging educational article on the Southern Kitchen Garden. It was written a few years back by Emily for the Seeds of Change eNewsletter.

Kitchen Gardening in the South

by Emily Gatch

Emily in the garden with friendsWhen I first moved from the flatlands of central Iowa to the cotton country of west Tennessee, I acquainted myself with the new terrain by driving the back roads of Madison County, fixing to get lost. It wasn’t hard to do, and on one memorable Saturday in October I pulled off the road to figure out where I was. I had parked near an old house with a long porch hung with ferns. The divide between inside and outside seemed blurred; a few cars rusting in the yard looked like they might be about to head in for supper. I observed the late-summer remains of a vegetable garden nearby, with a row of okra that had been stripped up to nearly the top of the plants, leaving comical stalks with “hairdos” of okra pods. The bright yellow leaves of a tulip poplar in the yard demanded my admiring gaze, as did the kudzu vine slowly overtaking a telephone pole. As I assessed the scene, a thought occurred to me: this is my kind of landscape, so these must be my kind of people.

Where I grew up in Iowa, the influence of Germanic settlers and their reverence for tidiness can be observed in lawns and gardens that have been clipped and trimmed and mown into subservience. Hedge-trimmers and weed-whackers find their highest calling in the hands of my people. I hadn’t realized it, but my eyes were craving the disorderly whimsy so often on display in a true Southern garden—a hot, green jungle where the artistic possibilities of an old sink, discarded hubcaps, and even the common pink flamingo are explored. These elements provide an enchanting backdrop for the stars of the Southern garden: the vegetables (you’ll notice I’m biased). The following are some highlights of my encounters with kitchen gardens in the South, with a caveat: as my colleagues at the West Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station repeatedly reminded me, I am a Yankee outsider, and my opinions must therefore be considered somewhat suspect.

The Plants

interplanted varietiesPeas: A great place to start since we’ve just planted thirty varieties to trial at the Seeds of Change Research Farm. To non-southerners, there’s one basic kind of pea, or three if you’re really breaking it down: shell, snap, and snow peas. In the South, these would all be classified as “English” peas (Pisum sativum) to distinguish them from southern peas (Vigna unguiculata), which in some parts of the world are called cowpeas. Are you thoroughly confused? Southern peas are a warm-season crop that includes black-eyed peas, crowder peas, pink-eyed purple-hulled peas, lady or cream peas, and an older speckled variety referred to as “whipporwills.” Southern peas only vaguely resemble English peas in growth, appearance, and taste. They are planted later in the spring, usually in late May, and bear in the heat of mid to late summer. They have a low, sprawling growth habit and long, tough pods that must be split by hand or with a pea-sheller to yield fresh, tender peas that are boiled up with a bit of fat-back. We’re excited to trial two southern peas (a crowder pea and another called “Red Ripper”) this summer at our Seeds of Change Research Farm. Keep an eye out for them in future catalogs!

Greens: These are the accompaniment, in boiled format, to a wedge of fresh cornbread. This category includes turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and kale—all members of the same family (Brassicaceae) as broccoli and cabbage. Turnip greens are typically planted in late August, whereas collards, mustard greens, and kale are planted as spring crops in late March. The seed is sown in large beds rather than rows, and the leaves are harvested continuously throughout the cool spring or fall weather. Flea beetles are occasionally a problem, for which any commercial Neem oil product can be used as an organic control. An interesting note: the flavorful juice left over after boiling up a mess of greens is referred to as “pot liquor,” which is sopped up with cornbread and savored.

Common name Botanical name
Turnip Greens Brassica rapa
Mustard Greens Brassica juncea
Collard Greens Brassica oleracea
Kale Brassica oleracea

different heights add character to a row
Okra: The vegetable non-southerners love to hate, presumably for the mucilaginous nature it develops when cooked. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is truly a fascinating plant, brought over from Africa by slaves and cultivated in southern gardens ever since. A relative of cotton and hibiscus, okra looks like nothing else in the vegetable garden. It boasts attractive white flowers, large and deeply lobed leaves, and heights of six to seven feet. Okra may be direct seeded in warm climates, but should be started inside several weeks before the frost-free date in northern zones. Tiny, irritating spines make long-sleeves a necessity during harvest, which should occur when pods are about two inches in length. “Mammoth Spineless” is a variety to consider for an itch-free harvest, and “Red Velvet” for its stunning scarlet pods. Both varieties are available from Seeds of Change.

Watermelons: Nicely chilled on a hot August day, and a fixture of life below the Mason-Dixon Line; a cliché, in fact. Another African native (Citrullus lanatus), this relative of squash and melons requires a long, hot growing season, limited irrigation to heighten sweetness, and a willingness on behalf of the grower to sift through numerous theories and tales about when they’re ready for harvest. My personal favorite is that a watermelon is ready when the tendril next to the leaf closest to the melon shrivels and turns yellow. “Crimson Sweet” is a preferred southern variety (available through Seeds of Change). For novelty, we suggest the delightfully spotty heirloom “Moon and Stars,” it never fails to stop people in their tracks.

Sweet potatoes: Not just a Thanksgiving ritual but a beloved autumn treat. The potato we know best is called the “Irish” potato (Solanum tuberosum) to distinguish it from the sweet. Sweet potatoes are a relative of the common morning glory, with whom they share the genus Ipomoea and the same vigorous vining tendency. Sweet potatoes are planted as rooted stem cuttings called “slips,” and require a long growing season (up to 140 days), deep and preferably sandy soil, and minimal irrigation after initial establishment. They must be harvested before the first frost, so sweet-potato growers listen carefully to weather forecasts in October. The most common varieties are Beauregard, an early variety, Jewel, Centennial, and Vardaman, the latter displaying beautiful purple leaves.

The Design

In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Mayella Ewell lovingly tends several red geraniums in chipped-enamel slop jars in the middle of a junk-strewn yard. She’s as good a muse as any for considering the finer points of design in a Southern kitchen garden, one of which must certainly be that plant containers are everywhere, if you keep an open mind and eye. Hang on to those old bowling shoes; renowned Mississippi horticulturist Felder Rushing houses several sedum plants in his. Chicken feeders make an excellent trough-style planter, as do those brightly-colored 1960s-era suitcases found in every thrift shop. The possibilities are endless—just don’t forget to add drainage holes.
a garden from a distance

More Design Ideas:

  • Move beyond rows. As University of Tennessee landscape horticulturist Carol Reese explains, straight row planting is a relic of the days when mules were used to cultivate between rows in the garden. She comments, “I don’t have a mule. Do you?” Make rooms in your garden, with twisting paths and unexpected corners for that bed-spring sculpture. Make it a fun place to be, and you will spend more time out in it.
  • The bottle tree: surely deserving of its own mention. This is a deep-south folk-art tradition that I have happily co-opted. According to the lore, enslaved Africans in the South would place blue glass bottles on the branches of a dead cedar tree with the hope that ancestral or evil spirits would be attracted to the bottles and stay away from the house. Today bottle trees are created for their aesthetic rather than spiritual attributes, and are a whimsical and beautiful addition to a southern-style garden.
  • Flowers: zinnias, marigolds, hollyhocks, cosmos, sunflowers… Welcome them to the garden and they will reward you with their beauty and other fringe benefits, including the attraction of beneficial insects that will pollinate your vegetable crops and keep pests in check. Don’t worry about color schemes—those rules are for effete intellectuals. Mix it up, and bring on the funk.

Emily Gatch
Greenhouse Coordinator and Assistant Seed Cleaner

The Fruit and Vegetable Book series by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2002). These are fruit and vegetable growing guides published for Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Each book is an excellent reference with region-specific varietal and cultivation recommendations.

Photo caption: 1) Emily in the garden with friends 2 & 3) Interplanted varieties giving the garden character 4) wide angle view of the kitchen garden.

Old Granny and Aunt Delphine’s love of gardening has clearly taken root in the next generation. They would take great pleasure – as do we all – in Emily’s accomplishments.
What a delightful commentary. Thanks Emily!


TLC Vision VP

Filed under: Glimpses,Kudos — Chamberlain @ 2:59 pm

Our Glimpses series continues with a look at our fellow clansman Charlie Judy. Charlie was recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Shared Services for TLC Vision where he will lead the Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Multi-National/Multi-State Payroll, Legal, and Information Services functions while providing world-class talent management, corporate governance, risk management, and technology infrastructure in optimizing the performance of this publicly traded (NASDAQ & TSX) $300M, 1,200 employee eye care services organization operating throughout the US and Canada. Charlie joined TLC a year and a half ago as their VP of HR with 15 years of experience outside of the vision industry. Most of his career is based in a diversity of internal and external client service, project management, and operations support roles for Deloitte, one of the largest professional services firms in the world with 120,000 people. While there, he built and led a number of successful infrastructure ventures across the globe – including long-term assignments in India and Belgium. Not only is he an experienced HR executive, but he is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – a skill base which positions him to help TLC lead a variety of initiatives. He and his team of 30 will strive to support TLC’s internal constituents, field and operations teams so that they can focus on what they do best – serving their customers, patients, surgeons and partners.

TLC is in good hands – congratulations Charlie from the clan…


Generational ABC’s

Filed under: Glimpses,Kudos — Chamberlain @ 10:04 pm

William Cromie the Younger was recently in St Louis to participate in the Skinner Reunion at Moone Athy. Below he is seen astride the Arabian, Ali.
It was great fun to hear about his impressive work in cutting edge web marketing. Will is a co-founder as well as Chief Technology Officer of Nabbr, an online distributor of video/music entertainment content targeting especially Generation Y. Bill’s company advertises for and promotes entertainment talent in cleverly targeted social sites. This maximizes exposure for his clients which include movie studios, TV networks and top record labels, as well as international firms as diverse and reputable as Coca-Cola, Fox News, Honda, and Target, to mention but a few. After seeing what Bill and his firm can deliver it’s easy to understand why the news print industry is struggling. Check out this promotion for TheWhiteTieAffair. Amazing technology.

Here’s the Nabbr synopsis of their offering:

Nabbr is The Gen Y Online Video Network with exclusive video distribution on 400+ social networking “resource sites” 12-34 year olds use to customize their social network profile pages with apps, widgets, backgrounds, etc. Nabbr has 40 Million comScore unique visitors and delivers 300+ Million premium video entertainment content views/month to people actively looking to express themselves and enhance their digital personas. Nabbr delivers all the reach and engagement benefits of social networks with none of the concerns surrounding UGC* and personal pages.

*User generated content

The clan’s cyber presence is assured thanks to Will’s impressive marketing and computer programming talent.

Alphabet Generational concepts may require some remedial work on the part of clan elders. What exactly is Gen-Y? In trying to educate myself I discovered some fascinating family overlaps which you may also find of interest.

First though, a brief chronological primer.

  • Gen-Y (aka The Millenials or Echo Boomers) are generally considered those born between 1980 and 1995, and these are the folks Will Cromie is communicating with.
  • Generation X is that cohort born between 1961 and 1981.
  • Generation Jones – a subset of Generation X and The Baby Boomers. According to Wikipedia, “Generation Jones” (1954 -1969) was a term coined by American social commentator Jonathan Pontell. It implies a large anonymous generation preoccupied by “keeping up with the Joneses.” The term “jonesing” came to mean “craving” or yearning”. In the 70’s, Wikipedia suggests, the “Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the optimistic 1960s… and then confronted with a different reality as they came of age in the pessimistic 1970s, leaving them with a certain unrequited, jonesing quality.”
  • The Baby Boom Generation, of course, we recognize as those born during the post WW-II demographic boom.

One of the first writers to think in these generational terms was Landon Y Jones, a St Louisan, and a Princeton classmate of Lemoine Skinner III. He coined the term “Baby Boomers” in his book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation (1980, New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan). Jones went on to have a very successful career at Time Magazine and was considered responsible for considerable growth of it’s popular People Magazine. Another St Louisan, Post Dispatch reporter and friend of Lemoine Skinner Jr, Otto Fuerbringer, had been involved in the creation of People Magazine. They were of course members of The Greatest Generation


For the Infrequent Visitor

Filed under: Family Updates,Glimpses — Chamberlain @ 2:40 pm

Here’s an update on activities at The Farm for the infrequent visitor.

  • Round Pond
    The clearing of trees which were threatening the very old and substantial dam at Round Pond has been completed. As a result we have accrued quite a bit of excellent mulch, mostly cedar, available for gardeners. There are abundant fish (blue gill, bass) in the pond too. Have a look (or fish!) when you visit.
  • Farm House
    The dormers on the west elevation (above left) have been replaced, including new windows, siding, and headers. These windows are now operational making the second floor southern bedroom and hall much more comfortable and attractive. The main entry door and surrounding windows (above right) have been replaced. Old termite and ongoing water damage destroyed much of the framing around these structures and as a result there has been considerable settling. Appropriate repairs to structure are underway. Finally, as recommended by Susan Cromie, some of the the original, deteriorated siding has been removed for inspection. Severe underlying damage has been discovered (image on left – click on it for larger image). These areas will require repair which is ongoing now. By use of new materials recommended by Susan, we hope to preserve the spirit of the Defty design while avoiding its inherent susceptibility to water damage. Once these critical structural issues have been addressed we will be in a position take on the replacement of the remaining deteriorated siding/windows as well as consider suggestions that have been made about enhancing the overall space. Obviously our finances will dictate our pace and what is feasible. We anticipate the need to take these projects on piecemeal over the next few years.
  • Invasive Exotics
    Recently we made note (link here) of a new eco-friendly approach to clearing brush honeysuckle that has been implemented by Jay Deatherage on the property. Jay has had his 10 Boer doelings at work for the past three weeks, moving them across infested areas. There has already been remarkable improvement as the accompanying photo will show. The ground cover and lower tree arbors are left intact but the brush (poison ivy, honeysuckle, etc) is devoured. The result is akin to burning, but without fire, and of course we are spared the expense of the RoundUp. Meanwhile, the goats thrive and will be a source of lean meat. Again our thanks to Kathy Skinner for providing the reference book Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan) which described the Polyface Farm’s use of this sustainable farming approach
  • New Bridge
    Increasing volumes and speed of water in our intermittent creeks has resulted in deeper and steeper banks. This has hampered access to several areas on the property, especially Aunt Grizelda’s Pond. We have just completed a six month project to remedy this, a pedestrian bridge across the creek at the barn to access the stile at the foot of the Pond Pasture.
    Aided by the forestry skills of Conrado Marquez, two 40-50 foot white oaks were harvested from the woods near the Pond Pasture. He used a chain saw to plane two sides of these, and he and Neal Fuhr teamed up to move these giant timbers across the creek at the stile.
    Yours truly then added planking to create a walkway over the creek. Note: Rails have not been installed yet so children crossing will require adult supervision until these are in place. The big pond is now much more accessible.
  • Roads
    There are two ongoing challenges with our gravel roads. Pot holes will always be with us. Last month we re-graveled sections of the roads most in need. A more worrisome problem however is erosion from Brushy Fork Creek, which had been encroaching on the main entrance road. The Highway Dept has been extremely helpful in attacking this. Last summer they placed a giant revetment which should remedy this threat for the foreseeable future. The snapshot below shows this completed project. St Charles County did a marvelous job for us here.

We have had an exceptionally cool spring and the farm has never looked prettier. We close with a glimpse of Aunt Grizelda’s Pond….

A report on the Skinner Memorial Day Reunion to follow…


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