Thursday, December 31, 2009

She keeps doing that...

New improved Miniwether, now with pierced ears.

She keeps growing up and this kind of makes me sad. Here's the first picture of her that appeared on this blog:
She was so cute back then, which as her dad I find much more acceptable than her being beautiful.

Adventure! Excitement! Daddy needs a shotgun!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Huge update to edible wild plant guide.

I've spent all day adding new plants, pictures, and nutritional data to my Edible Wild Plant Guide. Now I have to do the same thing to my Edible Plant Guide for Mobile Internet Devices. It's a lot of work.

Sidenote: I back-date my wild edible plant blog posts so the same four articles are always shown on the home link. This means if you are set up to automatically get notified when I make a new post you won't actually be notified. The blogspot servers aren't smart enough to realize I'm back-dating my posts.

Adventure! Excitement! Destroying My Eyes!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What was found under the tree

The tree: a close-up.

We of the Wether household try not to go nuts with gifts for birthdays and holidays such as Christmas. Both Misseswether and I grew up in homes where "more" was not equal to "better".

Let's see what Santa brought us. Yes, I'll take Santa's credit even though Misseswether did all the shopping.

She didn't mind.

Mambo with her big box!

Cool, a purse (with a mirror, which she shows to EVERYONE) and fuzzy blue slippers.

Miniwether got the crown she asked Santa for. She also got cool fuzzy blue slippers. Trust me, she's really happy.

They both also got big dolls. Their uncles/aunts sent them clothes for these dolls and also a bunch of clothing sewing patterns for the dolls as Misseswether has started teaching them to sew. Sidenote: Misseswether sewed the red dress Miniwether's doll is wearing. It only took her a few hours. Since them she's made several more outfits, accesories, and a cloak for each that matches the girl's RenFest cloaks.

Actually, I'm starting to think Misseswether wanted the dolls for herself...

She does play with them a lot.

Misseswether does seem to like my gift to her, which is a relief. Most wives do not respond well when they get exercise equipment from their husband.

She seems to really love it. Yes, she and Miniwether have reindeer antlers attached to their helmets while Mambowether is sporting a Santa hat. They've been attracting a lot of attention as they peddle around the neighborhood!

A manly man's Christmas gifts!

I finally broke down and got an iPod. I chose the Nano as it is easier to hook to a tv to display pictures. I've been getting requests to talk about foraging at garden clubs, book stores, and other non-natural settings. I can hook this iPod to any tv or monitor and show pictures of edible plants to the audience while I talk. The two books are there to help me identify and cook wild edibles.
Last but not least is the C.O. Bigelow Shave Cream. This is the BEST EVER shaving cream for those of you old school gents who apply the lather with a badger brush and shave with a real razor rather than some multi-bladed piece of plastic and hype.

So that's it. Much love, minor amounts of packaging!

And now for something completely different. The neighborhood playground recently installed swings! And not just those painful straps of rubber, these are the Lazyboy version of swings!

Swing, lazy child, swing!

Warning: Consult your physician before using this equipment to determine if it is suitable for your child! Yes, the swing's warning label really does tell you to check with your doctor before using this bit of playground equipment. I weep for America...

Adventure! Excitement! Keeping Izzy happy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Fear not for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy...for on to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, Christ the Lord!

Adventure! Excitement! Joy!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Call for Cannas

These. We need them.

My work with Houston food security continues. In the last two weekends I've taught eight wild edible plant classes both at the Last Organic Outpost and down at Armand Bayou.

Trust me, I'm a doctor! Sidenote: I'm holding toxic nightshade. Don't eat it!
(photo by Mona Metzger of Houston Green Scene at the recent LOO anniversary party)

Schooling homeschoolers down at Armand Bayou (check out the awesome shots of me teaching here). Yes, I'm vain and egotistical. I have a blog, how could you think I'd be anything else?! :-)

Afternoon session at Armand Bayou. Remember, you too can invite me to teach!

What's with the canna lilies? Well, currently Houston Garden Centers are having their big 70% off sale, dropping the price of 1-gallon pot sized canna lilies to just $1.00! Cannas are an excellent source of starch calories and so as part of the grassroots Houston Food Security program we are trying to buy them all up for planting out at the Last Organic Outpost. You can help by purchasing canna lilies at your local Houston Garden Center and donating them to the not-for-profit LOO on Saturdays or Sundays. Seriously, this could make a world of difference for Houston.

It makes sense to pick up a few cannas for yourself, too. They can handle sun or shade, wet or dry conditions, and produce a plethora of calorie-filled tubers. Growing to six feet tall, they make an excellent summertime screen topped with beautiful flowers. Their only pest are leaf-rollers but these are easily destroyed. Frost will kill the above-ground portion but new shoots will come up from the tubers a few weeks later.

Full-grown canna lilies. Oh, they are pretty!

While out at Houston Garden Center you might consider also spending $5 on a Elaeagnus. This shrub produces sweet edible berries whose peanut-tasting seed can also be eaten. They grow to about six feet tall but can be pruned shorter. Elaeagnus can grow in either sun or shade and the soil does not need to be very fertile, just well drained. Allong with the edible fruit, this plant is also a nitrogen fixer which helps plants around it grow! Currently most Houston Garden Centers have rows of these on clearance. Why plant ligustrums, pittosporums, or red-tipped photinias when you can have food-producers instead?!

One of my new Elaeagnus. The copper-colored leaves are not dead, that's the natural color of the leaf bottoms.

Adventure! Excitement! Seven Fat Cows!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

MerriFairy caught!

I've been work late a lot lately and have been coming hour exhausted. Friday I got home a little before 7pm and was met at the door by a smiling Miniwether. She just stood there blocking the door and grinned a gap-toothed grin at me... D'oh! She had lost her first tooth!!!

She has TINY teeth!

According to Misseswether, Miniwether had spent the afternoon practicing how she would greet me at the door to show me her lost tooth. Mini can be somewhat of a perfectionist drama queen...

The lost tooth was only slightly larger than a grain of rice and I'm a little amazed that she hadn't already lost it in the carpet, outside, or any of the number of other treasure-eating locations she normally loses stuff. The knowledge that that night the tooth fairy would come and exchange the tooth under her pillow for money was enough of an incentive for her to keep close watch on said money-making tooth.

After I had been allowed to see the tooth Misseswether smartly suggested that it be placed ina ziploc baggie for placement under the pillow. Misseswether is really smart.

Miniwether spent the evening quizzing me on the tooth fairy. What does she look like, what does she do with the teeth, how much money will she leave, etc... I claimed I didn't know the answers having never been able to catch TF in the act and the current inflationary economic situation would make the amount brought to TF much different than what I got. This lead to a talk about inflation, economics, current federal polices...which lead to us pretending to be butterflies for some reason.

Eventually it was bedtime and the baggie was placed under her pillow, the lights were turned of, and I shut their bedroom door. Then I waited for them to fall asleep.

Yeah, two little girls waiting for a visit from a magical fairy does not lead to a quick falling asleep.

Finally well after midnight they seemed to be deep in sleep, it was time for the fairy to make her/my move! I turned off all the lights and quietly opened their door...which failed miserably because it squeaks really loudly. Miniwether raised her head but didn't see me standing motionless in the black hallway. She settled back down to sleep and I sneaked over to her bed....where she lay with with her hand under the pillow holding onto the baggie.

I carefully tried to slide the baggie out of her hand...which caused her to leap up excitedly and shout, "Did she come?! Did the tooth fairy come?!"

"Yep!" I responded holding up the baggie, "The bag is empty!" I cheerfully lied, hoping she wouldn't somehow see the tiny tooth in the dark. "Let's see how much money she gave you." I said sticking my other hand under her pillow and carefully dropping the two quarters I had palmed as Miniwether yanked the pillow away. She squealed with delight when she saw the coins. I was positive she saw me drop them but either she didn't see it or she didn't want to call me on it.

We spent a few more minutes talking about the tooth fairy. Miniwether told me about another little girl she knows who claims their is no tooth fairy. "She didn't get any money for her teeth" she solemnly declared. "But I believe in fairies!" she continued in a very very determined voice. "I believe in magic."

I take that to mean I'm doing my job right as a parent.

Adventure! Excitement! Next time I leave the bedroom door open!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Houston Food Security

On Saturday December 12th, 2009 I'll be down at the Last Organic Outpost talking about Houston's food security program and giving free guided edible weed tours. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've become involved with a grassroots (ha ha ha!) movement to feed Houston in case of some sort of economic or social disaster. I figured I'd use this post to explain a few things about why we are doing this.

Joe, Marcella, and I all have a strong belief that there are strong potential threats to America's current food distribution system. Most food travels hundreds and more often thousands of miles from where it is grown/raised to where it is eaten. Current estimates say Houston has less than three days of food on grocery store shelves, restaurant freezers, and assorted train and trucking distribution centers. Disruption of this unnatural food chain would lead to riots, destruction, and starvation.

What could cut this chain? One potential threat is from Iran shutting down the flow of oil in response to Western actions against it's nuclear bomb production facilities. No oil means all the trucks and trains stop, along with delivery of our food. It's estimated greater than 10% of the US's demand for petroleum goes towards growing and transporting food. That means we burn at least 755 MILLION barrels of oil each year to feed ourselves, most of that due to transporting the food from farm to market. Yowza!

Other threats include swine flu reaching pandemic levels, crippling food distribution or current economic policies plunging the USA into hyper-inflation and chaos.

And of course don't forget zombies!

Whereas food security is very important to me, I also have another reason for increasing the local production of food: doing so frees up farmland allowing it to return to a more wild state. Many cities have created parks and other "green zones" in attempts to keep wild areas available for native plants and animals. These green zones are nothing more than window dressing to make people think nature is alive and well around them. Separated by miles of urban environment, there is no dynamic transfer of species between these islands of undergrowth. Their diversity of life is nothing like that of real forests.

To truly invite wilderness back into the world requires huge swaths of land be allowed to go fallow. The only way to do this is to move food production into the towns and cities. Chinese cities are prime example of this. I was amazed while over there how food gardens were grown on every bit of available space in cities. Rows of cabbages line the roads, beans grow on balconies, squash hangs from roofs. The city of Shanghai has almost 20 million people yet manages to supply a majority of it's own food. Imagine Houston doing the same thing. Imagine all towns doing the same thing!

More to come...

Adventure! Excitement! I hate lawns!

Friday, December 04, 2009


Yes, this is my backyard.
Yes, it is in Houston.
Yes, it is SNOWING!!!