Sunday, October 30, 2011

Five Moons

And it's something quite peculiar,
Something that's shimmering and white.

-The Church "Under the Milky Way"

Four days worth of camping gear/food/water for just me.
TheWindow.jpg

Four days worth of camping gear for me, Misseswether, Miniwether, and Mambowether.
Loaded

It's been four days since we returned from the Texas Hoodlum's Fall campout and most of the gear has finally been cleaned up and put away. Keeping the girls happy comfortable in the wilds is no easy task. I guess when your plumbing precludes the use of trees, shrubs, or any other inviting target certain allowances must be made. Not to mention the lessons I've learned in the past make me sure to pack plenty of snacks and fruit juices!

As usual, the Hoodlum's campout was amazingly fantastic. I can't think of a better crew to hang with in the wilds. We arrived at the campout well after dark and set up our tent then joined the other Hoodlums around the campfire to chat, tell tall tales, and bond. Mambowether snugged in my lap and watched the campfire intently. I asked her if it was better than tv, she said "no".

Oh well.

Eventually the girls were tucked into their sleeping bags. The night air was crisp, Jupiter was bold and bright one one side of the sky while the Milky Way cut a band of light across the other side. On a whim I brought my old KMart Focal telescope along in hopes that being miles away from any light pollution would allow me to finally see something spectacular through it. Years ago when I was a young kid undergoing a bunch of really hideous operations Poppawether bought me this telescope so I could watch the world outside my hospital room. We didn't have any money then so dad was very limited in what he could get me. I loved that telescope and stared through it for hours. Thirty-some years later I still have it but it just sits on a shelf collecting dust.
It took me a while to focus it on Jupiter but eventually this giant planet was a tiny white dot of light in my field of view. I was hoping to see it's red spot, but there was no such detail visible. I started to feel disappointed but then I noticed something...there were five pinpoints of light around Jupiter...OMG! I was seeing several of Jupiter's moons!!! What an amazing rush!!

My telescope.
Telescope
It took me to Jupiter. I wish I could have taken a picture of Jupiter and it's moons through the telescope, but it didn't work out.

Along with the Milky Way (which I love) and Jupiter there was also a meteor shower going on, giving Misseswether and I a reason to kiss after each falling star. :-) It was a very good night.

Morning came after a good night's sleep and we finished setting up the rest of our camp. It's funny how if I can fit everything I need for four days in the woods in a backpack but if Misseswether and the Wethergirls are along I need a lot more stuff.

Camp
Setting up camp.

Camp2
Camp set up. We have the most elaborate setup of the Texas Hoodlums...which is more of a complaint than bragging.

The main point of Hoodlums campout is to learn and practice wildcraft skills. Classes in leatherworking, braiding, knife sharpening, wild edibles, and others were taught...and that was just Friday.

Leather
Misseswether in leatherworking class.

Misseswether's final product. Her leather pouch turned out way better than mine.
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Paracord braiding was another skill class.
Morebraiding
Misseswether and I braiding a bandolier for Miniwether.

Werner braiding a "tactical" dog leash for his German Shepherd, Klaus.
braiding

The class in knife sharpening was taught by a professional knife maker. Believe it or not, I had one of the smallest knives there.
DSCF3800

Mambowether got her first knife (actually, two knives) this time but they were already razor-sharp and so she just watched me sharpen mine.
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She perfered to spend most of her time climbing around a fallen tree.
Tree3

Actually, that was one of the favorite spots of most of the kids there.
Tree1

Tree2

Climbing trees...not just for kids!
Misseswether

The big pile of dirt by the pond was also very inviting to them
Dirt

Running wild and unsupervised was also a popular choice.
kids

Snakes? Yep?
snake

Mud? A little bit even with the drought.
Mud

Miniwether had a bit of a scare when she got caught in a stampede. Luckily it was only one cow and she was able to just sidestep out of it's path.

The rare Texas Cowapede.
Cowapede

While out wandering I discovered the carcass of a cow that had died months earlier. Sun, wind, and coyotes had left nothing but bones and patches of rock-hard skin. I brought the kids over to see it and they acted like I had just given them the keys to Santa's workshop! They spent a long, joyful time trying to reassemble the skeleton. Truly, most modern kids here in the USA don't get to play with enough dead things.

Best. Toy. Ever.
cow

As usual, my gig was teaching the local wild edible plants.
PlantClass1
PlantClass2
The barbecue tongs were for harvesting prickly pear fruit. The drought really cut down on the number of plants around, but at least one of the tastiest, winecup tubers, were still available!

Being a Hoodlums event, food was a priority. While the usual survival fare of bugs and wild plants were eaten we also saved room for some finer foods. The offers at the Saturday night potluck ranged from soup cooked with heated rocks inside a pumpkin to my fiery Dutch oven enchiladas with home-ground super-hot peppers. I was pretty surprised that the Chinese exchange student picked that as her favorite dish!

Mambowether snagging a snackcake for lunch.
Mambosnack

Cooking the enchiladas. One Dutch oven's worth isn't enough!
Dutchovens

Much other food.
supper1

Awesomest. People. Ever.
supper

After supper Miniwether cooked up bugs for anyone who wanted to try them. She introduced three new people to the culinary experience of eating insects!
Bugs

Scorpions taste like a cross between crawfish and cheese.
scorpion

Of course, marshmallows are also pretty good.
marshmallows

Alas, Sunday came far too soon. I got up before everyone else (as I usually do) and watched the sun come up.

Sunrise.
sunrise

The moon was still up and the darkside was faintly lit by light reflected off the Earth. I tried to get a picture of it but the bright side was to bright. Maybe taking the picture through sunglasses would help.
Moon

Four days, three nights of heaven. It was hard to leave and return to work. Things have been so busy at home between work, the girls' dance and piano lessons, my foraging classes, homeschooling stuff, and gardening (my beets, carrots, and kohlrabi are looking great!). This blog is falling by the wayside as I focus on other stuff. Still, I'll try to post exceptionally fun adventures when I can. :-)

Adventure! Excitement! Wild Girls!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Ravenscar Revisited

Ravenscar...that's a name for my oldest readers. My 70'x 30' suburban backyard converted into an oasis, my Fortress of Solitude...when Miniwether and Mambowether aren't running through it like screaming aborigines. It's been a long time since I wrote about it so I thought I'd give you a tour.

Flashback: 1999
Ravenscar-0

Ravenscar-00

Ravenscar-000

I honestly don't remember Ravenscar looking like this. Let's see it now...

West side entrance.
WestSide
Edibles: canna lilies, dollarweed, spiderwort, and goldenrod.

West side of patio.
EinShemerApple
Edibles: Ein Shemer apple tree, kumquat tree, elderberries, and a rain barrel.

East side of patio.
HerbSpiral
Herb spiral currently seeded with assorted winter salad greens.

Southeast side of patio.
HurricaneBoxes
Edible: yuca, wood sorrel, lavender, Mexican marigold, oregano, rosemary, sage.
Boxes were made from fence blown down in hurricane Ike.

South side of patio.
LemonGrass
Edibles: lemon grass, sage, yuca, assorted mints and onions in grow buckets.
Composters along fence.

West side of yard.
Fig
Edibles: fig tree.

Looking southwest.
Loquat
Edibles: loquat, elaeagnus, wild onions, orange tree.

South.
Mary
Mary among wild native peppers and turk's caps, under ligustrums.

To the southeast.
FirePit
Our firepit. It hasn't been used in a long time due to the drought.
Edibles: yaupon holly (tes), elaeagnus, turk's cap, American beautyberry.

On the east side.
Beets2
Edibles: apple tree, elaeagnus bushes, assorted beets, carrots, and kohlrabi planted last week. The carrots and beets have just sprouted.

East side looking south.
Beets
Another view of my beet patch. The yuca will be moved to the barren hill in the spring.

South side of house.
Grapes
Edibles: muscadine grapes and black nightshade.

Standing on the east side looking west towards the labyrinth.
Loquat2
Edibles: Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, mandarin orange and Mexican lime trees.

Looking east into the labyrinth.
Labyrinth
Edibles: asparagus, horseradish, amaranth, purslane, day lilies, Jerusalem artichokes, salsify, purple cow peas, hot peppers, prickly lettuce, wild violets, clover, pony's foot, heal's all.

East side of patio.
Asparagus
Edibles: lotus tub, prickly pear, birdhouse gourd, apple mint hyacinth bean, lemongrass,

Lotus tub.
LotusTub
I need to replace the Rubbermaid bin with a real pond container.

So that's what my sanctuary looks like. It's a good place to be when I need a break from trying to keep oil and gas flowing out of the ground, teaching wild edibles, developing a IRT hiking adventure game, being the technical expert for an upcoming apocalyptic graphic novel, blogging, working on the new mobile wild edibles website, doing interviews, raising Mini & Mambo, taking care of Misseswether, and all the normal day-to-day stuff of living in America.

Yeah, I still don't sleep much...

Adventure! Excitement! Plants!