Monday, March 29, 2010

Ye gads!!

838 hits on my edible wild plants blog today! That blows away my previous high of 560.
I must finally be doing something right.

Adventure! Excitement! Popularity!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dreamtime

It always goes the same way...

I'm standing on a beach at night looking out over the rolling waves. The moon is up and very bright. Behind me is a boardwalk bustling with the sounds of happy people talking and the clink of silverware as they eat.

Then it suddenly changes. Instead of a clear night it is all gray. The sky is filled with fast scudding clouds and far out to sea I see dark, dark clouds coming this way. The waves no longer lap at the beach, the water has receded back out farther than I can see leaving behind puddles and mud. Then I realize the dark clouds out at the horizon are boiling above a wall of water coming this way.

Behind me the chatter on the boardwalk is gone. There are no longer any conversations or meals taking place. The only sound is some thing moaning or growling back away a block or more. I don't turn to look because I don't want to see what's back there.

The wind picks up in front of the wall of water rushing towards the beach. In the clouds above it things are moving.


At that point I wake up. It's usually about 2:39am. At 3:10am the big, nightly cargo jet passes over the house. At 5:59am I rest my hand on my alarm clock's shutoff so I can kill it right away so it doesn't wake Misseswether.

I don't sleep much anymore. There's too much I need to do before...well, before whatever is coming gets here.

Adventure! Excitement! Storms!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One step closer...

Or maybe two?

NatGuard
Left: member of Texas National Guard.
Right: reporter from local NPR radio.

It's been a intense day. I taught another edible plant class at Sedition Books this afternoon but before it I was interviewed by a reporter from the local National Public Radio affiliate KUHF. She had also sort of questions about foraging such as who does it, why has it become popular, where did I learn it, and what seemed like dozens of other questions. Luckily I enjoy talking so it was fun. She also interview a number of the people attending the class starting with the above pictured member of the Texas National Guard. Turns out he came to the class to discuss videotaping me as a training aid for guardsmen/women!! How cool would that be?!!

NPRInterview
Recording Merriwether!

I'll let y'all know when the interview is broadcast. Hopefully there will be a podcast of it available.

Adventure! Excitement! Climbing higher and higher!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In praise of $5 beer...

...by which I mean $5 per six pack of long necks.

Yeah, I'm sunburned, cut up, worn out, and smell of sweat, sand, and riverwater. What a great weekend! Not only did my new hat arrive, but Misseswether also picked up some beer for me! Isn't she awesome?

Lone Star Beer
Lone Star Beer, yes I drink it by choice. Why does everyone keep asking me that?

I was supposed to be teaching an emergency preparedness class at the arboretum next week but it was canceled due to lack of interest. Apparently Houston is blessed in that nothing bad ever happens here so only one person out of the over 4 million people in the great Houston area thought such information would be useful. I tell ya', it's comforting to know I live in such a safe area...

Anyway, my original plan for this weekend was to spend it in deep preparation for teaching preparedness but since the class was canceled I suddenly had free time. Woo hoo! And with the arrival of my new hat it was obvious the weekend was not meant to be spent in front of the computer.

NewHat
New hat. Not as good as the old hat.

Saturday morning Miniwether had to go to dance rehearsal for her upcoming ballet performance. That's a mommy-thing, which means it was a Daddy-Mambo Special Time morning! Even though I knew the answer, I asked her what she wanted to do. Yep, she wanted to go feed the ducks and play in the sand at Northshore Park. The ducks scare her but she still wants to feed them.

We got there early and the first hour(!) was spent pushing her on the swing. About 45-minutes into this I realized pushing a 4 yr old on a swing is kind of like doing pushups. Luckily she only demanded another 15 minutes of this before it was time to play in the sand. They have really good sand there.

Mambo loves to make sandcastles, so we made sandcastles. Then we enacted great dramas of kings and queens and bandits and heroes fighting great battles for the castles. A 4 yr old has no problem imagining sweetgum pods are kings/queens/bandits/heroes. The evil king & queen were overthrown by the bandits who themselves were wiped out by heroes. As the climactic battle finished I looked up to see a bunch of other parents sitting on the benches watching Mambo and me. Apparently a parent actually playing with their kid in the sand is an oddity...or maybe they were staring because the battles were soundtracked by me singing reworked version of songs from My Fair Lady. The reign of Spain ended bloody on the plain... I'm not big into musicals but for some reason I like that one.

Soon after that rehearsal ended and Misseswether & Miniwether joined us for a picnic lunch. Then Misseswether headed off to do some shopping (she got me beer!) and I took the girls down to the Last Organic Outpost to do more work on my edible plant demo beds. Joe and Marcella, the founders of the Last Organic Outpost, also have several adopted children from Nepal and China, the youngest being the same age as Miniwether. They are thick as thieves when together and pretty much take control of the whole farm...or at least any part that has dirt or mud to play in, things to climb on, veggies to eat, or people to talk to. The best toy for a kid is another kid. Meanwhile I spent several hours swinging my machete to prune a willow tree threatening my demo beds.

mustard
Wild mustard radishes at the Last Organic Outpost.

Sunday afternoon found Mambo and me fishing for white bass along the shores of Spring Creek along with another friend and several of his children. Miniwether was supposed to come too but due to a rather extreme display of bad behavior this morning she ended up grounded for the day. Misseswether had planned to spend the day happily locked away sewing some new dresses for herself but ended up having to deal with a wailing Miniwether so as not to spoil the day for Mambo.

Sewing
Misseswether's idea of a good day. Yes, she made the dress she's wearing.

Fun
Mambowether's idea of a good day. Yes, that is her happy face.

Alas, the white bass seem to no longer be running this section of Spring Creek so nothing was caught by me or anyone else. A little before 4pm I packed everything up and headed home to surprise Misseswether by returning early. And my plan would have worked too except for the change to Daylight Savings Time. Saturday night I changed all the clocks, but forgot my adventure watch...

Adventure! Excitement! Desperately Needing A Bouquet Of Flowers!

Monday, March 08, 2010

And I shall call it Tojaadots!

Tequila, orange juice, and a dash of Tabasco sauce is surprisingly good.

Adventure! Excitement! Ethanol!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Yeah, that's more like it...

For the last few weeks I've been running on three hours of sleep a night. It hasn't been pleasant. Too much to do, not enough time to do it, and bad things will happen if they don't get done. Stress levels in my life blasted through the roof and are currently somewhere in the vicinity of L5. To much work, not enough play makes Merriwether a boring blogger.

No, seriously. I can be very boring at times!

Luckily, today isn't one of them...though that might just be the large glass of juice box/tonic water/coconut rum sitting next to my mouse pad talking. I'll admit, that drink is as foul as it sounds, but it's all I could scrounge up. However, it's been making the movie on the tv behind me much more enjoyable, though any movie where a mutant shark pulls a helicopter out of the sky already has WIN stamped on it in my book.

Oh cool, the chef just blew up the shark with a slow motion explosion!!

But I digress. Without further ado my I present:

Launch
Merriwether's Men 2: Return of the Return to San Jacinto

I'm active on a number of different internet forums devoted to adventure, excitement, and emergency preparedness. Unlike many people on the internet though, I actually gather up my digital friends and take them off in adventures in the real world. OH CRAP THE SHARK IS STILL ALIVE!!!

Sorry.

This time it was a fellow blogger, a Hoodlum and son, fellow Zombie Squaders, and a few local readers of this blog. We met at Edgewater Park in Humble, then launched into the motionless waters of the San Jacinto river. The new MM were somewhat concerned about my plan to paddle four miles upstream against the current, but they quickly realized that I knew what I was doing. If it hasn't rained in a few days the San Jac pretty much turns into a long, skinny lake.

The first thing you do when heading upstream from Edgewater Park is pass under the Hwy 59 bridges. As we approached the bridge there was a crash on it. If you look closely at following picture you'll see a white SUV on the right side facing oncoming traffic. We aren't sure why it is facing oncoming traffic, but we all agreed our day was currently infinitely better.

crash
Crash.

spread
The best part of waking up in water under your keel. I don't know, I just thought that sounded rum, er, good.

The crash behind us and nothing but water, trees, and a day of adventuring ahead of us is a very good thing. I've been needing a very good thing.

WildcatAndDog
Wildcat and Wonderdog having a very good day.

NO, NOT THE REDHEAD!! WHY DID YOU DO THAT!! YOU KNEW THE SHARK WAS IN THERE!!!

Sorry.

As great as the San Jacinto is, we were seeking adventure which meant exploring the little tributaries that lead into the San Jac, which means occasionally hacking through deadfalls

break
A little hatcheting, a little kicking and we're through.

This particular tributary lead to a very large pond where alligator gar were frolicking. Alligator gars can grow to almost 300 lbs and six feet in length.

SmallGar
TXF managed to catch a baby one.

Eventually we left the gar and continued up the San Jac. Our goal was a sandbar far away from civilization. It's about four miles as the crow flies from our launch point, but with all the river bends we had to paddle a lot further than that.

shored
Totally worth it!

We left Edgewater Park a little before 10am and landed at the sandbar about 12:30pm. A fire was built, food was cooked, stories were told, and life was good.

Hoodlums
Life, being good.

Nap
Ditto.

Filter
Wildcat made a tripod to hold up his canteen cover which he was using to filter river water before boiling it for pine needle/yaupon holly tea.

COOL!! ANOTHER SLO-MO EXPLOSION!!

Meanwhile, I was looking for plants.

SawPalmetto
Saw palmetto heart.

PicklyAsh
Mature prickly ask/toothache tree.

Eventually it was time to douse the fire, collect the trash, and head back downstream. The bright sun had burnt a few of the less-appropriately hatted, so improvisations were made.

leaving
Trust us, we're the good guys.

The paddle back was peaceful and tinged with the usual melancholy. You know what, I think I'm going to stop this week's post here, still on the river. It's a good place.

HeadingHome
Where my mind is.

Adventure! Excitement! Men In Boats!