Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Parasites, Trees, and Hobbies!

It has been forever, I know.  I’ll spare you my excuses and pick up where I left off... something about me living in the south.  This has been extremely apparent to me lately as I experience my second summer here in Parsons.  Last summer I was busy with my first year of marriage, dealing with my mom’s illness, trying to make some sort of friendships here in a new place.  This summer, I feel a little more free to actually live and experience new things.  And here are some new, “southern” things I have experienced this summer:  midges and giant ticks.  Midges are something I encountered for the first time on Monday.  I decided to take the dogs for a biking adventure at Big Hill lake.  When I got there, I discovered they don’t allow biking, so I had to hit the trail on foot.  I was instantly attacked by these obnoxious creatures. They look like a cross between a moth, a fly, and a mosquito...and they’re horribly annoying.  Apparently they’re usually in the swampier lands in the south, but sometimes they find themselves up here, annoying the heck out of people like me.  Giant ticks are also frustrating, but for a more disgusting reason.  We had ticks in NW Kansas when I was a kid, but they rarely got very large.  When it stopped raining out there, the ticks disappeared.  We went on a week trip to Colorado for a friend’s wedding in the beginning of June and left the dogs with Sam’s parents.  They love it out there.  They run and go completely native and come back with several of these pests embedded in their skin.  One day after we had returned, I was cleaning and saw something smeared on the floor. It looked like chocolate at first, but on further examination, I realized it was blood. I quickly checked Huckleberry for cuts and gashes, but found nothing.  A while later, there was more blood on the ground and I began to moderately freak out.  I checked Huckleberry again and again found nothing.  As I was cleaning up the blood, I swept something out of the way. It looked like a grey paintball after having all the paint squeezed out.  Then I noticed the legs. Ugh!  It was a tick that had fallen off of one of the dogs and then had been squashed!  I was so disgusted! It was the size of a dime and had been on my dog!  Over the course of the next few days, we found several more ticks on the dogs, including another dime-sized tick.  
Okay, enough of pests and parasites.  Let’s move on to storms!  The last week in May, we got hit with a decent storm.  Some time in the middle of the night I heard a huge thud that woke me up and seemed to shake the house. I assumed it sounded worse than it was because I was asleep.  I dismissed it and went back to sleep.  The next morning, we found this in our front yard:   

About one half of the neighbor’s tree broke off and slammed into our roof on its way down.  It really could have been a lot worse than it was, so we’ll consider ourselves lucky.  We are still dealing with insurance people and contractors to get the damage to our roof fixed.  We knew we needed a new roof anyway, so we may get one a couple of years earlier than we were expecting.
This next story isn’t really about living in the south.  It’s more about living on Earth, I think.  Anywhere you go, you’re bound to run into some interesting characters.  Granted, Parsons may have more than its fair share of these people, but everywhere has them. The other day, we were short on club soda at work, so they sent me to the store to buy some more.  I purchased every bottle they had and was lugging them back to my pickup when this interesting thing happened:  A couple left the store a minute before me and were each carrying a bag or two.  They looked pretty rough, but not too bad.  The guy was sporting a decent mohawk and the girl was wearing cut-off jean shorts and ratty hair.  As I made my way to my pickup, she handed the man the bag she was carrying and ducked behind a pickup.  She was blocked from my view, but the street had a clear shot of her, from what I remember.  She kind of shimmied, ducked down, and then a stream of water started pouring down onto the pavement.  This lasted several seconds.  She shimmied again while standing up, looked around, and ran to grab a bag from the man’s hands.  Now, either she was dumping an invisible bottle of water on the ground or she peed in the parking lot!  I was completely shocked.  To make things even better, as I’m getting into my pickup with about eleven 1 litre bottles of water, I accidently honk the horn.  They both whipped their heads around with startled looks on their faces, laughed, and kept walking.  I’m pretty sure she peed in the parking lot.  
Okay, enough gross/weird stories for the day.  I’ll change the subject.  Sam and I have been watching a lot of Cake Boss recently, which means all I want to do is make cakes now.  Luckily, a few of my friends/relatives have been paying me to do just that!  Here are a few of the cakes I’ve done recently:

I did this one for my Uncle Steve’s 54th birthday.  He loves the KC Chiefs and hates the Broncos, so my friend Stephen helped me out by making a scoreboard for my football field cake.  I filled this chocolate cake with whipped ganache.  I loved it!  I’ll be using that again.

Jodeci is a girl I worked with at Ernestos.  She decided to move to Texas for college so our friend Jordan ordered this cake.  It was a three-layer texas sheet cake in the shape of Texas, decorated with the Texas flag.  It was really fun to make!  And really fun to eat the leftover pieces I had to cut off.

I made this cupcake cake for my birthday at work. The decoration isn’t that great, but I had just got the awesome decorating tip to make grass and wanted to try it out.  And everyone at work loves cupcakes.

I made this several months ago for my cousin’s son’s birthday.  Sam and I are Atticus’ godparents. The blocks are a square version of the cake balls that are so popular right now.  They were good, but reeeeeally rich!

I made this cake for my friends Dawson and Sarah’s wedding.  The bottom layer was chocolate, the middle was white and the top was lemon poppyseed. This was my first multi-tiered cake.  It was scary and fun to make, and it was a great learning experience!

Other than dealing with those interesting things and making fun cakes, I’ve been working quite a bit and hanging out with people I like.  Last summer the natives assured me that it was abnormally hot and wouldn’t normally be like that.  This summer is just as hot, but somehow it seems a little better.  Maybe it’s the fact that we got a new air conditioner and our living room stays a comfy 72-74 degrees all the time now, or maybe I’m just getting used to being a southerner. Either way, I like life right now.