Saturday, May 30, 2009

Storms a' coming

Hurricane season comes to Houston with June's heat. Low pressure systems are swirling off the west coast of Africa to cross the Atlantic. Growing as they cross the sun-warmed water, they become dark mindless angry beasts.

It's good to be prepared in advance if you live along the coast. Towards that end, Houston held a hurricane preparation workshop today at the George R. Brown convention center.

Wethergirls and hurricanes.

The conference center was filled with preparedness gear vendors, emergency services, and government agencies. I guess you have to take the good with the bad... Like every conference goodies were handed out. Pens, pamphlets, flashlights, blinky things, t-shirts, etc...

Wethergirls and treasure bags.

Hurricane-proof window films. I want this stuff.

Kids, stay in school or you'll be limited to jobs involving large foam costumes!

The Red Cross was passing out free MRE's and batteries, leading to a big line in to their booth.

By the time we got to the their booth all they had left were batteries. Tons and tons of batteries!

Of course Houston's CERT was there giving first aid seminars.

They had one section devoted to preparing kids. Each child was given a whistle. Wasn't that just...wonderful.

I'm not sure what the Houston Zoo has to do with hurricane preps...

...but they had snakes so my girls were happy.

So did the Nature Discovery Center.

The coolest thing was the portable Imax theater. The picture doesn't do it justice, this thing was huge! Inside the big, inflatable igloo-thingy was an Imax projector showing movies about tornadoes.

The Houston Arboretum was also there. As we walked up to the booth the lady working it let out a squeal and said, "It's you!".

Being famous rocks.

Turns out this blog is popular among the arboretum employees. She knew me and the Wethergirls from these scribblings and is hoping to attend my edible plant class there coming up on June 7th. We chatted for a while while the girls made bead snakes (of course).

By this time the girls were hungry. Thankfully Walmart was giving everyone a free hotdog, chips and a bottle of water.

This is not a product placement. However, I'd like to point out that I'm completely open to being paid for such a thing!

Mini and Mambo had a great time judging how they both fell asleep on the drive home. I'm not sure if they'll have another one of these this year but if they do y'all should go. Admission is free, though parking is a pain. If you aren't sure about what you should have on hand for hurricane season this workshop will fill you in and fill you up.

Adventure! Excitement! Hurricane Gear!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A gathering of like-minded folk.

So a few weeks ago I got an email from one of the owners of Two Wolves Outdoor, a seller of fine outdoors/adventure gear (hey Charlie, how about becoming a sponsor of this blog!). He invited me to the Texas Hoodlums Spring Thing up in the Texas Hill Country. Outdoor survival experts Ron and Karen Hood were going to be there along with the famed ethnobotonist T.R. Zimmerman. I've been a big fan of all these people for a long time and to be asked to join them for a long weekend of camping was a dream come true!

Misseswether and the Wethergirls came along, too. This required a bit more gear than my normal adventures.

The Hoodlums were camping out at the wonderful Oxford Ranch Camp near Llano, Texas. Yahoo maps said it was 4.5 hours away.

The truck flipped over on I-45 with it's trailer across three lanes added an extra 1.5 hours to the trip.

We left home at exactly noon and saw this sign at exactly 6pm. There was much rejoicing.

I belong to way too many internet forums about wilderness and survival and wilderness survival. I've come across the Hoodlums a few times but they always intimidated me. These men and women really know there stuff. Ron and Karen's videos are by far the best ones out there for learning you way around the woods. Basically, they are what I want to be someday. The rest of the people on their forum are just about as amazing.

And they asked me to join!

OMG! Me and the family with Ron and Karen Hood!

Quite a few Hoodlums were already there before us. Mr. and Mrs. Wolf came over to greets us and said if I needed anything just to give a yell. I thanked them then set up the Amazing Box o' Stuff to cook supper while Misseswether began setting up the tent. Suddenly five Hoodlums showed up, set up our tent, our shade screen (cheap piece of crap, don't buy one!), shook hands, played with the Wethergirls, then faded back into the woods.

Camp up and ready in under twenty minutes. Sidenote: our camp-potty is on the other side of the tent.

By Friday evening almost 100 Hoodlums were present. Many had only interacted via the internet so the first day/night was spent matching names to faces. There was some crossover between the Hoodlums, Equipped to Survive forums and Zombie Squad so we weren't adrift among total strangers.

Being well acquainted with the effects of whiskey, scotch, beer, and moonshine me and the girls went to bed early(ish) as Saturday was going to be a big day. Hoodlums don't just hang out in the woods chatting, they hang out in the woods chatting while teaching/learning stuff.

Saturday's Dutch oven class. Misseswether and Mambowether learned how to make bread and cobbler.

Mambo kneads the bread dough.

Misseswether's damn fine loaf of Dutch oven bread.

Mambowether and I learning about edible plants from T.R. Zimmerman.

Miniwether teaching the other kids how to catch grasshoppers for bait then how to catch fish.

Knot class.

Bronze casting

Hitting stuff with a big bone class.

Of course, it's not just classes, showing off and swapping gear, the Hubcap of Shame, etc... There's also EATING!

40 grilled rabbits, wild hog ham, beef brisket, venison fajitas and sausage, and so very much more!

Clark and I getting ready to have dueling campstoves. Yes, Clark and family came!

Yes, I showed people how to cook June bugs...

...and Miniwether showed people how to eat them. Seriously, she did.

Most of the time the Wethergirls and Clarkettes just ran free. There weren't any dangers other than cowpies and red ants, so they could roam.


Meanwhile, Misseswether and Mrs. Clark would take occasional nerd breaks. Yes, Misseswether was teaching herself the Python Programming Language and Mrs. Clark read her Kindle.

The site was a true slice of heaven. Daytime highs were in the low 80's and under the big oak trees it was much cooler than that. At night it dropped down into the 60's.


The camp.

The pond.

It did get some good rains both Saturday and Sunday but even this didn't put much of a damper on things.

Misseswether leading the kids in musical chairs during the rain.

Clark and I handled the rain our own way.

We spent four awesome days/three incredible nights camping out there. The nights were spent sitting around the bonfire with dozens of other Hoodlums swapping stories, telling jokes, or just sitting quietly watching the beautiful night sky. We were far, far from "civilization" so the sky was ablaze with slowly circling and occasionally falling stars.

Damn it was great.

We're home now, have been for several days. Most of the gear has been put away except for the tent. It still needs to be cleaned. The Hoodlums will have another big gathering in the Fall. It's going to be really hard to wait that long to do this again. The Hoodlums were easily the FINEST people I have EVER had the pleasure of meeting. I've told less than half of what all went on at this event. There was magic in those woods that long weekend.

You know what, I think a lot of you readers would fit in with the Hoodlums perfectly. I'd love to see you join the forum. I'm looking at you, Happy Texans, Lone Star Chris, BigDaddyTX, Dr. Zyme, kmat, Librarian, Wildman800, Wildcat, and all the rest of you who think the woods are a right and proper place to be! Izzy is already there. Don't y'all want to be as cool as him?

Adventure! Excitement! Misseswether spent the whole weekend in high heels!

Mobile Test II

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Mobile Test

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hanging with some hoodlums.

Carrying knives, starting fires, breaking bones, wearing high heels...
I hang with a tough crowd!


More to follow...

Adventure! Excitement! I'm married to Ginger!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden update

So not everything I eat grows wild...

The spinach is all done. Now our nightly salads are graced with home-grown carrots, cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and lamb's quarter. The beefsteak tomatoes will be ready soon while the okra and cowpeas are only still less than a foot high. The yellow squash and zucchini aren't much taller. I think I'm the only gardener on the planet who can't grow zucchini. The Indian corn ranges from dead to about two feet tall but I don't think I'll actually get anything from them. The ginger is doing great and yesterday the Jerusalem Artichokes sprouted. I'm really excited about those last ones. On Sunday I planted a bunch of wild onions that had collected out in the woods. Hopefully some of those will grow. The amarath, purslane, plantains, and elderberries are growing like weeds (ha ha ha!).

Adventure! Excitement! Agriculture!

Wow, +20,000!!

It seems people like my Edible Wild Plant Blog. I've had over 20,000 hits there since August of 2008. It took me something like three years to get that many hits on this blog!

Adventure! Excitement! Hits!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stalking Plants

So Saturday was spent teaching two edible wild plant classes along the banks of Spring Creek.

9:30am class. Mostly members of the local Vegan/Raw Foods group along with a few coworkers who know of my secret life...

2pm class. Readers of my blog and assorted fellow members of Zombie Squad.

I love teaching this class. My dream is to find about 12 acres of land somewhere on which I could set up school to teach about wild edibles, wilderness survival, and urban farming/permaculture. I suppose if I started charging for these classes maybe someday I'd earn enough money to maybe buy some land...

Note to self: start charging for these classes!

If you'd like to know what the class was like swing over to my long time readers the Happy Texans for an unbiased review: This man knows how to kill you with your own landscaping.

I had a great time in a great place with a bunch of great people. Everyone was still smiling at the end even after walking for two hours in the Texas summer heat and bugs. Luckily there was a bit of a breeze and some clouds to help a little with both. The afternoon class was threatened with rain but it held off until after the last car had driven off. The rain started falling soon after and I sat by the banks of Spring Creek, not quite ready to replace the peacefulness of a great day in the woods with the loving chaos I knew awaited me at home.

The Wethergirls latched on to me as I entered our house (and accidentally tracked in sand, mud, and leaves). Misseswether found a relatively clean/sweat-free spot on my lower arm and hugged it, then swept the floor while I showered. A clean Merriwether returned to the family for more hugs, then off we went for supper at a Chinese mega-buffet. The irony of this amused me.

Adventure! Excitement! Class in the Woods!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Misseswether Day!!

Hail Missesweher, mother of the Wethergirls, shuttle pilot of my adventures, bandager of my wounds, teacher of our the Wethergirls, and all around perfect lady! The following are some of my favorite pictures of her (well, blog-safe pictures anyway).

Young love!

Canoeing in Minnesota!

Stopping for a break somewhere on Hwy. 149.

Exploring the woods of Vermont. Note the high heels!

Snorkling in Peurto Rico.

Climbing the Great Wall of China outside Beijing.

Becoming a mommy! Miniwether becomes ours.

Which is very tiring!

But it has moments of absolute magic.

Adventure mommy!

And back to China for Mambowether.


Chicken for supper.

Mommy takes the girls to California by herself while I fight Hurricane Ike. I'm guessing I had the better time.

Yes, she fishes in high heels.

Just another great day with mommy.

Adventure! Excitement! Misseswether!