Your Letters: Nettles, Ukuleles, El Capitan

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Guest host Alison Stewart reads emails from listeners about cooking stinging nettles, playing the ukulele and climbing El Capitan.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typewriter and music)

STEWART: First, an update. Two weeks ago, Scott Simon spoke with British Army Major Phil Packer, who lost the use of his legs after a rocket attack in Basra, Iraq. Since that incident, Major Packer has gone on to finish the London marathon and to row the English Channel. When we spoke to him, he was preparing to climb El Capitan, a sheer rock face in Yosemite National Park, using his arms to pull himself up rope lines set by his teammates.

We are happy to report that Major Packer did reach El Cap Summit doing the equivalent of about 4,000 pull-ups over the course of four days.

Scott's essay last week about the shooting of security officer Stephen Johns at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Washington prompted a lot of response.

Jesse Meckling(ph) of East Orleans, Massachusetts wrote: Thank you for giving listeners the opportunity to learn about the guard who tragically lost his life. I was saddened by the news of the shooting, but even more saddened when all I saw on the Internet was news about the shooter. Thank you for taking the time to mention the guard, his family, and talk about the man who we really should hear about.

A surprising number of you had a lot to say on the meddlesome issue of stinging nettles - specifically the consumption of said plant. Last week, in anticipation of the World Stinging Nettle Eating Championship in Dorset, England, Scott spoke to the reigning world champ, Simon Sleigh, who in 2002 consumed 76 feet of stinging nettles.

Carol Pinninger(ph) or Portland, Oregon pooh-poohed Scott's naivety on the topic. Yes, nettles sting when eaten raw. However, I want you to know that eaten steamed, nettles have a great nutty flavor. When I was in college, my roommates and I donned gloves and picked nettle from the five acres we lived on, steamed a bunch, and had a great side dish at dinnertime.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: Finally, some ukulele aficionados in the audience took issue with Scott's wisecrack at the end of Kyle Norris's story last week from Michigan about the increase in sales of the instrument, even in these tough economic times.

Janet Wellington wrote: I listened with delight to this morning's ukulele story; that is, until you added something like: you can listen to more ukulele music on our Web site, if you really want to. I live in a town of about 8,000 on the coast of Oregon, where the Florence Ukulele Club, the Flukes, formed at the beginning of the year. We have over 40 members already. So Scott, a little more respect for the little instrument that most everyone can learn to start playing in a few minutes, lighting one's heart and nourishing one's soul.

Well, you can listen to more ukulele music on our Web site, NPR.org. It's also where you can send us your comments. Click on Contact Us. You can also reach us on Twitter. Our username is NPRWeekend - that's all one word.

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