Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gang aft agley, epilogue

Rest in peace, friend. You are irreplaceable.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gang aft agley,

The plan was to tell you about what a wonderful weekend I just had. How Miniwether danced upon the stage saturday, glowing with joy at her second ballet performance. How Sunday was spent in a wonderful 500-mile mad dash up to Dallas and back to teach two edible plant classes and still be home to say goodnight to my girls...

Instead of writing about all that, I think I'm going to sit out on the back porch and drink.

I lost a friend today. More than a friend, he was a father-figure, a mentor, a co-conspirator, a co-worker, a drinking buddy, and a fricken mechanical genius. This morning as he rode his motorcycle into work the driver in front of him decided to slam on his/her truck's brakes.

I'm told my friend died instantly. I choose to believe that.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey into which I shall crawl.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Radio Record!

According to people behind the scenes over at Houston Public Radio KUHF, my interview on urban foraging in Houston may have set a new record for most web-hits of any story! Ain't that cool!
You can hear this interview here.

Merriwether and HPR reporter Wendy Siegle.

So, could y'all started calling KUHF and requesting I be given a weekly radio show? Wouldn't that just rock, er, educate?!

Adventure! Excitement! Fame!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another World

If you knew what this was you'd be really impressed.

Life, the Universe, and Zombies

So, this weekend I finally reached the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything...which comes in handy when fighting zombies. Helps keep everything in perspective, don't ya know.

ZSC014 heading into action.
Destination: The Last Organic Outpost

A lot has been going on at the Outpost lately, including an increase in Zombie attacks. As word of the Outpost's existence and mission grows (ha ha ha, get it?) more and more volunteers have been showing up to help this also means more zombies. And, being zombies, they break things.

Luckily, ZS member BabaBrad is REALLY good at fixing things.

CleaverJim (not a zombie) putting up barbwire where an over-zealous volunteer drove the above-pictured tractor through the barricade.

When dealing with an apocalypse, you just have to make due with what you've got. People this far in to the end of the world as we know it are dang good at modifying stuff to fit there needs. Case in point: the Prius Pickup Truck!
Riding green in the post-apocalyptic world.

It not just manning the barricades and fighting zombies down at the Last Organic Outpost. We also sell food! Along with the usual garden-fresh veggies you can see being picked we've also joined up with Gunter Farms to bring you the best in heirloom seedlings for your own garden. We are entering prime melon-planting season here in Houston, so swing by and buy the best!

Gunter's selection.

The Gunters and happy customers.

Of course, if you like your food free you can check out my wild edibles demo beds. This one is in what used to be a hearse...

Eat these or end up in one of these.

Baba Brad got the tractor's bucket controls fixed, so it returned to work, much to the joy of the local children. Then he and I turned to our continued battle with Japanese honeysuckle that is trying to take over the southeast section of the Outpost. I've been hacking at it for several weeks but it grows back almost as fast as it gets cut down. I'm hoping for a raining weekend when I can bring my flamethrower and just burn the stuff out. I'm pretty sure fire is considered an organic farming tool...

Just another picture of the farm.

Adventure! Excitement! Birthday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Going nano.

What I did today at work.

Adventure! Excitement! DearGodPleaseLetThisWork!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Foraging at Cielito Ranch


Weeks ago I received an e-mail from the wonderful owners of Cielito Ranch Bed & Breakfast asking if I could come out and give them a private class on wild edibles. Due to my amazing popularity I wasn't able to meet with them until this morning. Wow, was I missing someplace awesome! Had I known how nice it was out there I would have brought the whole family. They could of hung out by the pool, gone fishing, rode horses, played on the great playground, feed the assorted animals, or hiked the miles of trails along the Brazos river.

Okay, maybe not that last one. :-)

The ranch is outside of Brookshire, Texas, which is off I-10 just past Katy, Texas. In fact, it's just downriver a few miles from Stephen F. Austin State Park where Clark and I had gone adventuring last week. Basically a 45 minute drive from downtown Houston...depending on traffic.

Their land was filled with wild edibles, which surprised them. Just standing on the driveway I pointed out mallow neglecta, henbit, wood sorrel, and curled dock. Five steps off the driveway brought us to hawksbeard, stinging nettle (love that stuff!), shepherd's purse, sow thistle...and it just got better from there. My personal favorite, greenbriar, was all over and I snagged a lot of it to munch on as we wandered past. Excitingly, they had two toothache trees near their house! Well it's exciting if you like rendering your mouth numb by chewing on a nasty-tasting leaf. Maybe that's just a me thing.

And don't forget slippery elm!

I was there a little over two hours and according to my field notes, I found 27 different wild edibles. It was kind of hard to leave there and half an hour later as I sat not moving in Houston traffic for AN HOUR I had to think really hard as to why I left.

This sucks.

Ah, yes. This is why I always return home!

Sidenote: be very careful when you give your wife permission to buy any homeschooling stuff she wants. Turns out there's a bunch of homeschooling apps available for the iPhone...so she bought an iPhone.

Sidenote #2: The owners of Cielito Ranch have neither asked me or given me anything in return for writing about their bed & breakfast. I just really liked it and when I like something I tell others about it.

Sidenote #3: Coke Zero Vanilla...not so good.

Adventure! Excitement! A Place To Go When The Zombies Come!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sew anyway, Easter wasn't all bad...

The last few nights Misseswether has been hiding out in her sewing room. Actually, she spends a lot of evenings in her sewing room, but Saturday night she didn't crawl into bed until 2am, knowing that she needed to get up in less than five hours to get to Easter mass. However, the result was that as Mini and Mambo searched for candy this morning they also found beautiful Easter dresses.

Making stuff like this is what Misseswether does for fun.

Since the dresses cost only about $5, they wouldn't have another occasion to wear them after church, and they felt like beautiful princesses with them on there did not seem to be any reason they couldn't wear the dresses all day long.

I'll build my own castle, thank you very much say the Princess Engineer.

Pretty in pink picking pretty pink primroses.

Unrelated, here is a picture I took of an offshore oil rig's life pod I saw being hauled down I-10 yesterday.
Those are really cool, uh, assuming you don't actually need to use it.

Adventure! Excitement! Royalty!

Too far from home.

Our answering machine was flashing with multiple messages when we got home from church this morning. They were from my dad and my brother letting me know my uncle (mom's) brother had passed away sometime last night.

He was a good man and a good uncle. You never knew when he'd toss you a silver dollar (real ones from the 20's and 30's!) just for the heck of it. It doesn't look like I'll make the funeral. Life has a way of getting in the way of death...which I guess in a way is what it's all about.

I'm trying to look at it as a time for celebration. On this holiest and most magnificent of days God has brought home one of His flock. May God give finally give him peace and comfort.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Stephen F. Austin State Park: A Review

Hmmm, the park looks nothing like Steve Austin...

Saturday Clark and I finally had a chance to get some much needed wild time. After discussing different options we settled on trying out the Stephen F. Austin State Park. It seemed a bit on the small side but being just a little past Katy, TX it was close by and neither of use had been there, so off we went.

The park seemed to be very popular with many families happily camping away their Easter weekend in brightly colored tents. This particular park also seemed to be extremely popular with bike rides as the hard-packed dirt trails swarmed with these silent, two-wheels speed-demons. I was not so wild about that.

Assorted campers.

The trails themselves were nice when not forced off them by cyclers. One needs to be careful when stepping of the trail as poison ivy is everywhere. However, wild onions, cleaver, chickweeds, and assorted other wild yummy plants are also everywhere. It's a bummer they can't legally be picked.

An average section of trail.

The "River Access Trail" is very step and about as far away from any parking lot as you can get. I don't think it is meant to be used as a canoe/kayak/boat launch. Bummer as the Brazos river looked like a great place to paddle.

The Brazos River. I like it.

Me liking the Brazos River.

Clark liking the Brazos River.

Wild onions.

Wild grape vines.

We didn't see much large wildlife other than one deer. However, the grounds were crawling with hundreds of pillbugs (they popped like Rice Crispies when accidently stepped upon), giant millipedes, huge land snails, and industrious leaf-cutter ants. The bugs were pretty cool and Miniwether would have loved them.

Giant millipede.

Leaf-cutter ants. How cool.

Tracks of something.

Clark and I covered pretty much all the trails at the park in a little over three hours. It's really not a hiking place. They do have assorted amenities for camping families, though.

An amphitheater.

A wildlife viewing area. On the other side of the fence were assorted feeders.

There was a golf course, playgrounds, bathrooms, showers, Coke machines, etc.. if that is the sort of thing you like. We also saw several families playing badminton at their campsites.

So my thoughts on the park? It seemed like a nice place for people starting to do the family camping thing or for people who really like to camp in comfort. If you want to ride your bike easily through the woods this is the place for you! Clark and I prefer much more primitive locations but there really aren't any close to Houston so proximity outweighs quality.

Adventure! Excitement! Woods!