Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Misseswether is the Keeper of the Family Calender, a multi-level creation that lives on our fridge. Only she is allowed to enter stuff on this schedule and it is rare that I can get something added at short notice. She however, has learned that sometimes it's best NOT to put certain things on it but rather surprise me with them.

For instance, this:

It turns out our homeschooling Pickwick group has been planning this Daughter-Daddy Dance for quite some time and the girls have been learning dances and proper etiquette for it. Misseswether knew such an event was not high on my list even though tucked in the closet was my elegant Pierre Cardin tuxedo from our days long ago as competition ballroom dancers a decade ago. So a week ago I learn I'll be spending Sunday night taking Mini and Mambo to a formal dance.


Of course I spent the day teaching about edible wild plants for five hours in 94F heat with 99% humidity but luckily I'm built for hot weather (lots of surface area, not much internal volume, basically I'm a giant rabbit's ear). Come home, shower, shave and decide what the heck, let's see if the tux still fits.

Yeah, it still fits!

Sidenote: Men, do not suggest that since twelve years later you still fit in your wedding suit that your wife should still be able to fit in her wedding dress. Any changes in her body in that time is due to the addition of muscle. Strong, vicious muscles capable of inflicting brutal pain to anyone foolish enough to say otherwise.

I couldn't find my bowtie, so on a whim I decided to wear a black silk Chinese tunic for the shirt. I'm bummed the pictures didn't turn out because quite honestly I was the most handsome, sharpest looking man there. That is a very rare occurrence!

After going through her wardrobe Sunday morning Misseswether decided none of her dresses were right for that evening's dance. So she did what any insane women would do in such a situation: She decided to make herself a dress for the ball!

Hey, I think I'll make a beautiful dress from scratch in six hours!

The lady is talented. That's a dang fine dress! Sidenote: No singing mice or birds assisted her in the sewing of this dress.

Readers of this blog may recognize the girls' dresses. Misseswether had originally made them for Easter mass, then tweaked them some for this dance.

Oh, Prêt-à-Porter? Darling, ours were custom made!

One little adjustment and then the music started.

I don't remember what the first dance was. The men were on the outside in a circle and the girls were inside. We'd dance a bit with each girl before they moved on to the next, thereby setting the pattern for their future lives.

A brief moment, then she was gone. Probably a lesson in that...

After that came a Virgina Reel which was a lot of fun though somewhat confusing.

Woo hoo!

Miniwether's favorite dance was the Waltz.
Underarm turns are so much fun when you are six...or forty-two!

Officially the dance was for 1st graders and older though younger siblings were invited to watch. Still, it was pretty easy to sneak Mambowether out on to the dance floor for another waltz.

Much easier on the back this way.

She liked the Macarena with mommy best, though. Sidenote: I don't do the Macarena but Misseswether does it beautifully!

The dance didn't end until 10pm, well past the girls' bedtimes. Mambowether was asleep before we were out of the parking lot, Miniwether managed to make it to the first stoplight before she succumbed to that dark peace. She was awakened by the sound of the garage door but Mambo ended up needing to be carried to bed.

Soon after getting home wife and daughters were fast asleep. I'm was (and still am) battling insomnia, but at least I had new, wonderful images to fill my brain with as the minutes then hours ticked by. I knew my girls love their ballet classes but until last night it never occurred to me that they'd like dancing with daddy even more. As big as their grins are up on the stage, they were even bigger as I swept them around the room, them in their beautiful pink dresses, me in my tux...

You know, I need to tell Misseswether she doesn't have to hide the next dance from me.

Adventure! Excitement! Daughters!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being awesome.

You are going to love this one.

Adventure! Excitement! So fine!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ah, family traditions...

Miniwether, Misseswether, and I watching Doctor Who on Saturday nights. Mambowether is usually with us, too but due to bad behavior she was put to bed early.

Adventure! Excitement! Inspiration!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Merriwether's World-Famous Super Easy Stickbread

Stickbread: it's like beer you can eat with your hands!

1 6.5oz package of pizza dough crust mix.
1/2 cup water.
1 tb. of mixed, dried Italian herbs.
1/2 tsp of garlic powder (though I usually go more on this).
1 gallon-sized freezer bag.
1 green stick (preferably maple) 1"-1.5" in diameter and about three feet long.

Place the contents of the pizza dough mix in the plastic freezer bag, then scoop out a teaspoon-full of this mix, return it to its original package and set it aside. Add in the Italian herbs and garlic then mix the stuff up to get it all evenly dispersed.

Next, begin heating your water near the fire. You don't want it boiling, just hot where putting your finger in it hurts some.

While the water is heating peel the bark off your roasting stick and then preheat it over the fire. You want it to be to be toasted-brown and hot when you wrap the dough around it.

When the water is hot add a little less than 1/2 cup of it to the mixture in the freezer bag then begin kneeding the outside of the bag to mix everything into a play-doey dough. If you put in too much water and it's a sticky, yucky mess then add the teaspoon of dough mix you pulled out at the beginning.

Let the dough sit in the bag while you heat up the roasting stick. The stick needs to be as hot as possible, but don't let it catch fire.

Once the stick is hot, dust your hands with any remaining dry pizza dough mix (hopefully you didn't need to add the stuff I had you pull out at the beginning), remove the doughball from the plastic freezer bag, and wrap it around the stick. Spread it out so that it is only about 1/2" thick. Some people spiral it on to the stick others just make a big glob. Either works as long as it isn't too thick.

Slowly turn the bread over the fire. The dough will puff up as it cooks and your camp will smell like a pizza parlor. Roast it to an even light-brown color. At that point it's ready to eat. It'll be hot so handle it carefully! A little olive oil drizzled on it before eating is good but unnecessary.

Adventure! Excitement! One for Mike!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring planting

I'm going to spend the next few weeks focused on updating my wild edible plant blogs. The mobile internet version is way behind my original version.

Recent updates:
New plants: Agarita, Milk Thistle, and Nasturtium.
Updated plants: Agave, Field Pennycress, Honey Locust, Honey Mesquite, Hop Clover, Loquat, Mallow, Spiderwort/Dayflower, Sumac, Yucca.

Adventure! Excitement! Greens!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Once more, with Hoodlums.

All work and no play makes Merriwether something something
-Note found on my computer by Misseswether

There comes a time when a desk-bound adventurer says "I'm outta here!" and heads off into the woods. If his insanity has progressed far enough he takes his wife and kids along.

Misseswether, along.

Luckily, Misseswether had help in soothing the wanderlust in my soul. Somewhere around 50 or so helpers, actually: The Texas Hoodlums!

Hoodlums. They are good people!

After months of planning it was time for the Hoodlums Spring Thing 2010. Four days camping in the Texas Hill Country with friends, family, food, guitars, ghost stories, shooting stars, assorted non-biting insects, dirt, ten million wild flowers and one inflatable sheep. It doesn't get any better than that!

Mambowether with wild flowers.

Wild flowers without Mambowether (not nearly as pretty).

Blue bonnets. Wow!

More flowers. It was a record year for wild flowers up in the Hill Country!

My job this year at the Spring Thing was to teach edible plant classes. Unlike previous years, this time there were more wild edibles than just a few cacti. The people were laughing at me because for the first hour of each plant class we stood in one spot as I talked about dozens of edible plants within reach of my excessively long arms!

Me teaching about the very rare "Thing" tree.

As usual, Miniwether amused herself with whatever multi-legged creature she could catch.

Later on they started racing caterpillars.

Another multi-legged critter. Yes, it's a black widow spider. Miniwether was very careful with it.

A scorpion. They are the best thing ever for practical jokes!! Tasty, too.

Mambowether preferred the donkey (also surprisingly tasty).

Minwether and the donkey. Not shown: Shrek.

Still not shown: Shrek (no comments Jennifer!).

Clark and family were there as was Wildcat and his two daughters.
Clarks (including my soon to be Godson!!) and Wildcat.

The Wethercamp. Note the potty-tent. It was for girls only...eight girls plus the occasional friend of Mini/Mambo/Clarkettes/WildKittens. Even though I never used it (it's good to be a man) it was my job to empty it and clean it. This had to be done several times a day. Yes, it was a disgusting job, but it got the Wethergirls out into the woods with me!

When I wasn't teaching, cleaning toilets, or taking pictures of wild flowers I was able to attend some of the other classes offered by fellow Hoodlums.

Fire making class. Apparently thermite is not considered a primitive method of making fire.

SUCCESS! I have now made fire by rubbing two sticks together!!

She made fire, too. (note: that's not Misseswether. Misseswether wears dresses and high heels even in the woods).

Leatherworking class.

Rope-making class.

Foraging class with Savage Knives (on right).

Hood gear for sale.

Misseswether attended a first aid class because...well, she's married to me. When not digging in the dirt, picking flowers, re-enacting scenes from "Lord of the Flies" or playing with critters, Miniwether and Mambowether squeezed in some fishing. which is something they love.

Going fishing (but didn't catch any fish).

...and back to digging. Mambo loves shovels!

Miniwether prefers flowers...ah, who am I kidding. She has a handful of grasshoppers in this picture.

Homeschooling in the woods.

Suppertime!! It's hard to see, but there were about six Dutch Ovens used in making this meal, along with numerous campfire delicacies.

What's a campfire without ghost stories? Ron Hood enthralled the kids with tales of bigfoot, cannibal mutants, and vampires!

And yet the girls slept peacefully. Considering the first night a windstorm tried to shred our tent and the second night coyotes howled until sunrise I'm a little amazed by who deeply they slept. I guess when you are running around outdoors all day long with a pack of other kids sleeping becomes very easy.

Though some did have rougher nights than others...

Alas, after three nights in the woods Sunday came. We had planned to stay until Monday, but all the other families with young kids left on Sunday. Faced with the prospect of having to entertain our kids ourselves, we chose to pack up and go home, too.

So now it's two days later. Everything has been unpacked but due to our dryer breaking down, the camping clothes have yet to be washed. Still, that okay. I don't mind the smell of smoke and adventure that still lingers on them.

And now a few more flower pictures...


Ripe thistle.

Unopened thistle.

Blanket flowers.

Adventure! Excitement! Waiting for the Hoodlums Fall Thing!!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Curry Therapy

Chickweed, curled dock, and field pennycress about to be chopped up for Sunday-night curry.

Yeah, short post. Give me a break, it's been a tough couple of weeks.

Adventure! Excitement! Near total collapse!