Friday, October 24, 2008

Another post about wild edibles.

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In real life these nut weevils are very small.

Don't worry, this post isn't about eating weird crawly things. It's actually about eating acorns. The maggoty things in the picture above just happened to be living in a number of acorns Mini and mambo had collected for me. Being rather short, they were limited to acorns which had already fallen from the tree. While a lot of these acorns were good, a fair number of them had already been invaded by these larvae, rendering them inedible.

However, the Wethergirls did find these critters to be quite entertaining. Mini wanted to build a little town for them out of bits of cardboard and straws, but Misseswether invoked her power of veto on that plan.

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Oh wow, look at how big they are!

Mambo hasn't quite figured out proper magnifying glass techniques, but under Miniwether's guidance I'm sure Mambowether will soon become a solar-powered wielder of flaming photonic death. Luckily compact fluorescent lights don't put out the energy of 1989100000000000000000000000000 kilograms of fusing hydrogen so the girls were limited to just looking at these critters and occasionally poking one with a broken toothpick. I figured they would enjoy this for a little while, but it kept them occupied for almost an hour! They raced them, they rolled them over to see their tummies, they discussed the mechanical aspects of their movement (Mini thought they bit the paper towel with their teeth then dragged themselves forward, Mambo mumbled something about squishy and carrots and eat...sometimes I worry about her).

But I digress, this post is supposed to be about turning acorns into a yummy, nutritious flour not the joy of two little girls and a handful of maggoty-things. So, how to make acorn flour:
Step 1. Grind up the shelled acorns
Step 2. Extract the tannins with with hot water
Step 3. Dry the mashed nuts
Step 4. Grind them more

Now if you want more details and informative instructions you really should sign up for my Edible Wild Plants class over at the Houston Arboretum on November 15th. There are still a few spots open so sign up now!

Um yeah, this whole post was just one big commercial for my class. But then again you did learn the mass of the sun so that made it educational, too.

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Too soon since the last goodbye

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Oz and Shine: Happier times.

Shine never got over the loss of Oz. They had been best buds forever, when Oz passed away earlier this year Shine stopped eating and would wander around the house yowling. We tried different foods but nothing helped. Trips to the vet gave no solution. He eventually wasted away to nothing but skin and bones. This damaged his kidneys.

I finally had to have him put down this evening. He's now buried next to his best buddy, Oz.

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Shine's last picture, regal to the end.

Shine was an interesting cat. Where Oz was fairly stand-offish and would only deal with people on his own very select terms, Shine was the social, party-animal cat. He was always in the thick of things no matter how rough things got. I've rescued him from the painful clutches of many a neighborhood kid and a second later he was going right back to them. This was the cat that you could dress up in doll clothes, place him in a stroller and push him around until you got bored.

Of course he was also the cat that would tear up the furniture, sleep on your head at night, and steal any food he could reach.

Funny Shine story: When the Nephewethers came for a visit the youngest one was constantly getting his food stolen by Shine. He eventually learned to hold his food over his head between bites to keep it safe. Well, one afternoon we went to Seawolf Park down in Galveston and had a picnic. The Nephewether took a bite of his sandwich then held it over his head. SWOOSH-NAB! A seagull swooped down and stole the sandwich!

I felt kind of bad for laughing but it was really funny. When we got home the Nephewether scolded Shine for making him hold his food up.

Of course, Shine's true claim to fame came from my attempt to rid him of fleas and the resulting infection. I get over 100 hits a day to this blog from those to posts. Hmmm, I make about $0.05 from the ads on this blog, so in only 7000 days I'll have earned enough money to pay the doctor's bill from his bite.

*sigh*

Shine must have been really hurting. He didn't fight the sedative the way Oz did when he waa put down. Shine gave into it immediately, like he wanted to be at peace. He's there now, hopefully back with his best friend.

I need a new computer. The screen on this once is all friggin blurry.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

He saved every one of us!


Spiro's hit, I'm going in after him!

I love this film.
-Merriwether

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am Joe.

I am Joe

I'm not rich, but I've always believed with hard, honest work I will be.
Someone wants to take that dream away from me. He wants to take the money that I worked my ASS off for and spread it around to others who haven't felt the need to work as hard.

No way.

-Merriwether (aka Joe)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Afternoon in the Park

It was going really well until the Houston Police Department highly armed robot malfunctioned.

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Mambowether, traumatized.

However, we got to see the Lifeflight helicopter land which was very cool.

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Joe was the pilot again. He's always very nice.

Oh, and the big street-legal Ronald McDonald Shoe was pretty neat...

No, I am not high.

No! Not drunk either.

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See? Big red shoe. I'm completely sober.

The third Sunday in October is a special weekend on the banks of Spring Creek out at Roy C. Burroughs Park. It is when/where Harris County Precinct 4 throws a big party to celebrate the tremendous park system that Harris County has created. Being a huge fan of these parks, I try and get to such events to show my support and thank the people involved. Plus, there's usually fun stuff to do.

Miniwether was reading the flyer for the event on the drive over. Two things immediately got placed on her "Must Do" list. The first was face painting, the second was fishing.

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So of course, she had a fish painted on her face.

I'm not sure what fires Miniwether's strange fascination with face painting. I'm guessing because it's the closest we come to letting her wear makeup. She's only five, but now days that's pretty much like being nineteen and away at college. Whenever she gets any stickers she carefully tears them into small pieces and puts them on her face/hands as eye shadow, lipstick, earrings and fingernail polish. She'll do the same with Play-Dough too, which leads to a very Tammy Faye Bakerish appearance...

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Mambo wasn't quite so keen on having paint applied to her face. Reading the MSDS to her didn't seem to help.

The event had all sorts of stuff to do. Arts and crafts, animal skins, pumpkin decorating, pretending to be arrested...it's just fun for the whole family! However, we were making a beeline for the fishing booth.

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After toads, fish are Miniwether's favorite critter. She LOVES to fish. So much that if I don't have a pole/line for her on our nature walks she'll sneak up on fish in the streams and catch them with her bare hands.

Seriously!

This time she stuck to using the cane pole supplied by Park volunteers. The volunteer was about to stick a worm on her hook when Miniwether cried out, "No! I want do it!" The volunteer looked at me with one eye cocked and started to hand Mini the worm.

"No! I want to pick my own worm!" Miniwether took the box of worms and began pulling worms out, examining them, then dropping them back into the box. Misseswether was standing next to her telling her to find a big, fat, wriggly one. Another mom nearby watched with her jaw hanging open, then asked in shock, "Is that safe?!"

Lord have mercy on her kids.

Miniwether eventually found a worm that met with her approval and watched intently as it was stuck on the hook (she's still a little young to play with fishhooks). Then it was down to the water's edge.

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Yes, Misseswether wears high heels while fishing. Meanwhile Mambowether kept trying to spear the fish with her pole, so we had to take it away from her.

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Success! It only took about five minutes for Miniwether to catch a fish. I took it off the hook for her, she kissed the boo-boo the hook made, and we released it back into the water. Mambo's fishing pole was returned to her and she fished until the small crappies stole her worm. She decided she'd had enough fishing and really wanted to check out the music blaring from a nearby pavillion.

The music was for a magician, but he didn't hold the girls' interests for very long. That's when I spied the HPD Copbot way off to one side. We thought it'd be fun to check it out.

Yeah, so now I'm up to #715

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The Darth Vader gloves should have been a warning.

So apparently this Copbot is supposed to be a "fun and entertaining way for the Houston PD to interact with kids". At least that's what the lady with the gun and badge said. Miniwether and Mambowether were a little scared of it, but she convinced them to stand by it so I could take a picture.

"Go over and stand by it." she said. "It hasn't been working right so it's not even turned on right now."

The Wethergirls were rather dubious, but eventually they crept up to the thing. They had their backs to it and had just begun posing when it swiveled around and lifted one arm.

Mambowether FREAKED OUT and ran to me screaming. This caused Miniwether to do the same, both of them ended up clinging to my legs and bawling their eyes out.

The cop who was on the phone had seen the girls getting ready to pose and decided the Copbot would look better facing directly towards the camera. He helpfully reached over to it's arm and swiveled it around, scaring the bejeebies out of the girls.

He felt really bad, though not bad enough to let Miniwether shoot the Copbot with his gun, even if she did display proper trigger-finger discipline.

By the time everyone was settled down again Misseswether and the Wethergirls were getting kind of wilted. I decided it'd be best if we went home, even though there was still some stuff I wanted to see. We took the hayride back to my truck and headed out. Judging from everyone's response, I think I had made a good choice both in going to the event and leaving when we did.
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Sleeping beauties.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time #714

Miniwether LOVES critters. Toads, lizards, beetles, moths, snakes...she has become an expert at capturing anything that moves. One of my proudest moments was when she held up a finger with a gecko hanging from it by it's mouth. Miniwether looked at me and said, "It's biting me but I'm dealing with it".

Mambowether? Not so much a fan of critters. If it isn't a mammal it scares her. She might look closely at something that Miniwether is holding, but she won't touch it.

Now this time of year it's getting dark early so that when we go for our nightly walk after supper, the sun has pretty much set. This means one thing: TOADS! Miniwether loves toads more than any other critter and every night she manages to find at least one toad, though often two. These are proudly carried home then smuggled past Misseswether to be released in our backyard.

Mambowether watches these events with guarded interest, but mainly with fear.

Well, last night Mambowether declared that if Miniwether catches a toad she (Mambo) will touch it. Off we went into the dark and soon Miniwether was holding two fat, squirmy toads. Mambowether lived up to her statement and took one from Mini. She held it for a minute until it twisted in her hand, startling her. She dropped the toad and grabbed my leg.

Now being the supportive dad that I am, I had been praising and complimenting Mambo on what a big and brave girl she was to hold the toad and how happy I was that she was such a big, brave girl. She beamed up at me, we hugged and I praised her some more about what a wonderful, brave, BIG girl she was.

It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.


In the middle of the night Mambowether had to poop. She doesn't normally poop during the night but we put her in a pull-up diaper in case of accidents. Well, since daddy had been telling her what a BIG girl she was, she decided she didn't need to ask for help. She could go to the potty, pull down her diaper and go poop like a big girl.

Good plan, poor execution.

When I got up this morning Miniwether proudly told me that she (Mini), "had cleaned up the floor".

"Um, what did you clean up?" I asked, noticing a rather bad smell...

"Oh, Mambo pooped a little on the floor. But I cleaned it up. Wasn't that good of me?"

"Yes, thank you very much. You are the greatest!" and I hugged her.

Actually, Miniwether had done a suprisingly good job of cleaning up the floor. However, it took me over fifteen minutes to clean up the wall, the stepstool, the toilet, and Mambowether. But the floor was quite clean. Mambo spent the whole time excitedly telling me about how she pooped like a BIG girl and wasn't that a good thing, wasn't I proud of her?!

"Yes Mambo, you are the greatest and I love you so very much!", and I hugged her.

And now for Merriwether's Useful Tip of the Week: Compliment your toddlers, but tell them to ask for help when pooping.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sorry

No post, there is sickness in the Wether-household. I'll try and get a link up to something unusual, funny and useful later this week.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Funniest. Thing. Ever.


Band montage!
I am not worthy.

-Merriwether

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Dinner with Superman

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Which is the strange visitor from distant planet?

Longtime readers of this blog know I'm an active member of the Equipped to Survive Forums. The forum is part of the Equipped to Survive Foundation, a group dedicated to saving lives by:
1. Raising awareness of potential survival emergencies.
2. Promoting preparedness as the key to surviving life-threatening circumstances.
3. Performing research and offering objective information to allow intelligent selection of effective survival and emergency preparedness equipment and supplies.
4. Providing education in practical survival and emergency preparedness techniques and procedures.
5. Encouraging development of new and improved survival and emergency preparedness equipment, supplies and techniques.


They work with equipment manufacturers, aviation and marine authorities, government agencies, and anyone else involved in keeping us alive to try and get the best survival techniques and gear into the hands and minds of you, the consumer. You know the safety spiel flight attendants do before take off? The Equipped to Survive Foundation helped write it. Those life rafts on cruise ships? They make sure the rafts will work. Emergency radios, flare guns, and PLBs get tested by the Equipped to Survive Foundation.

The head of all this is a guy named Doug Ritter. He looks like a normal guy but I'm pretty sure he's actually alien from the planet Krypton!

So why am I convinced Mr. Ritter is really Superman? Well, a quick read of his bio only touches on all he does and all he is trying to do. Not only fighting airplane manufactures and airlines to make planes safer, testing safety/survival equipment to make sure you can bet your life on it, and designing/marketing his own line of top rated survival gear, but also giving lectures, reviewing government safety plans, giving lectures, drumming up donations for the NON-PROFIT Equipped to Survive Foundation, but also many, many more things. He's the guy on the road over 40 weeks a year trying to keep you alive. Seems Supermanish to me.

Plus when I whacked him with my Red Kryptonite ring he turned all weird and violent, just like in the comic books!

Joking.

So what's a guy like him doing with a shmoe like me? Turns out he's been following my posts over on the Equipped to Survive Forum and being stuck in Houston a few days for a conference on airplane cabin safety he thought I'd be good for an evening's entertainment. He sent me an e-mail asking if I we could meet. To me this was just one step below Summer Glau showing up outside my tent and asking to come in and Misseswether saying, "Sure, come join us." with a mischievous smile...

Um, better not digress down that path.

Anyway, long story short Doug Ritter, Clark, Misseswether and I had supper together at Pappas BBQ at Peirce and San Jacinto. I'm giving you the location because I was rather disappointed in the joint. The pork was dry and the people behind the counter were not a very friendly or hard-working bunch.

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Trying to get Mr. Ritter to let us into the Justice League and not just so I could get Misseswether wearing spandex and high-heeled boots. I'm told she already does that whenever I go out of town.

Despite the food and hair-netted slackers the evening was wonderful. Stories were told , questions we answered, knives were compared (Mr. Ritter won hands down), and then the REAL fun began. As mentioned earlier, Mr. Ritter designs and markets a line of survival gear especially for adventurers. I've drooled over this stuff, both before and after purchasing several items. Turns out, I'll be needing to generate a lot more drool. Mr. Ritter began pulling soon to be released items out of his bag for us to examine. Unfortunately, we were sworn to silence on the stuff to prevent copycats from learning about the stuff. Let it be known though that even Misseswether, who is totally not a survival gear junkie (heck, she only carries two knives!), has demanded that several of the items end up in her Christmas stocking. The only other thing I can add is one of them may be coming with it's own custom Altoids tin (fellow ETSers will understand).

This of course lead to us showing him our EDC kits, though when I say "our" I mean "Clark and Misseswether". In a moment of absolute dunderheadedness I left my EDC kit at home so as to have room for a camera in my pocket. My theory was in case of TEOTWAWKI, my truck was only a few steps away. Once I got to that it'd take more than an apocalypse to stop me. Turns out though that while I came without EDC kit, I didn't leave without one. Mr. Ritter showered with assorted gear and even one of his coveted ETS caps!

In return I promised I'd start writing emergency preparedness articles and reviews for his foundation. Due to copyright issues I won't be able to reprint the articles here on my blog. Don't worry though, this site will still keep going with weekly tales of adventure, parenting, travel, and occasionally eating weird stuff. I love your attention too much to stop!

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether