Monday, June 28, 2010

On Chiggers and Birthday Cakes

The celebratory midweek of the year is complete and I gotta tell ya, I don't have much to show for it. It was a splendid, fantastic week, but now I have more to do than I did before. B took last Thursday and Friday off work for the anniversary and anytime that man is home for more than just a weekend, we get really, really slack and really, really messy. My house looks like a crashpad for a group of people who use too many cups and never brush their dogs. So, while it was awesome having him home and just lazing about relaxing, it's time to get back to work for both of us.

We weren't totally slack though. We got maybe two or three things accomplished. B cleared the area where the new chicken pen will go, we built a proper tomato trellis for one little section of wildly sprawling plants, and I did some canning. Saturday morning, I was in the kitchen, preparing to put up some turkey stock when B called me on the walkie-talkie (yeah, we have walkie-talkies. Shut it. They're awesome.). The conversation went something like this:

"Harken unto me, Goodwife. If it would please you, present yourself to me forthwith and cast your gaze upon the wondrous treasure I behold."

"What nonsense is this, husband of mine? What treasure hast thou discovered? And must I look upon it now? My kettle is nigh boiling."

"Dear wife, you must come now. 'Tis a treasure like none other and demandeth our attentions. I daresay your heart will burst with regret should you choose otherwise."

"Very well then. Allow me to don my slippers and I will be at your side."

Ok. The conversation really didn't go like that at all. It was like this:

"Hey baby, you gotta come see this!!"

"What? I'm busy."

"You just gotta see it. You won't believe it."

"Fine. Lemme get some shoes."

And I trudged down the hill wondering what had him all worked up. Then, what to my wondering eyes doth appear? The biggest, most insane, most prolific, crazy-fullest blackberry patch I've ever seen in my life. Seriously. Gigantor.

That's just one part of it. The pictures really don't do it justice. All the places where you can kinda see something red? Those are blackberries. There must be thousands. It's gotta be twenty feet tall in places, and at least ten or twelve feet deep. And it just kept going! I've never seen anything like it. We spent roughly 45 minutes or so picking berries and got three quarts. The canes are simply loaded with unripe berries that we'll get over the next few weeks.

There's B, wading in deep, defying thorns and bugs alike, risking
life and limb for a chance at the big ones in the back.

Now, because neither of us were planning on doing any berry picking, we were dressed wholly inappropriately. "K," you may ask, "how can you be dressed inappropriately for berry picking? Such a mundane thing surely requires no special attire." HA! We dubbed these "danger-berries" when we were deep in the thicket. We were both wearing shorts, and since I had been in the kitchen barefoot, I tossed on a pair of Birkenstocks before I went down, and now, now, dear people, my legs look like some crazy samurai took to them with a tiny little sword. B and I were both cut and scratched to the point of bleeding when we finally exhausted the thicket. And, let's not even talk about the chiggers.

Nah, let's talk about the chiggers. They are evil and I must besmirch them at every opportunity. I don't know how many of you are familiar with that particular pest, but chiggers are pretty much omnipresent down here in the south. They are tiny, little bugs, that actually burrow into your skin and do something atrocious when they get in there. I'm not sure what it is, but it itches like nothing else. And you get these huge, nasty welts. So, suffice it say, neither B nor myself will be in the running for foot modeling anytime soon.

But oh, the bounty!! This kind of discovery makes me glad that I suck at yard work and never cleared that bramble. I was going to, I just never got around to it. Ah, fortuitous procrastination! I put up eleven jars of blackberry jam and still have a quart of berries in the fridge to deal with today. The jam...well...the flavor is REALLY good, but it didn't jell appropriately, so it's more like blackberry syrup with chunks of fruit. But,whatever, syrup's good. And, since we have SO MANY BERRIES, I'll be able to practice my jam and jelly making until it's perfect and gift-worthy. So, I hope you all like blackberries, cause that's what you're getting for Christmas.

In other news, remember last week on my birthday, when I said I was making a cake? And it would be ugly? I did. And, it is. I'm posting a photo of it so you guys can all get a little chuckle.

I never learned how to ice a cake. And apparently three layers does not a tall cake make. But it was delicious. Devil's food with vanilla buttercream icing. Ugly food DOES taste better!

Now, so you all know that beautiful, amazing cakes are indeed possible at home, I give you this:

I know, right? My poor little cake feels so inadequate now! Sister in law Shell made this cake for niece's birthday. Herself. In her own kitchen. Herself. Ridiculous. While her cake straight up embarrasses my cake (I can hear it calling names and pointing fingers up the page), it gives me hope that one day, I might be able to get my icing to go on smoothly!


  1. Clear fingernail polish for the chigger bumps!

  2. All I have is purple sparkly :)

  3. So glad we don't have chiggers out here...I do NOT miss them. Still, we have tiny little black fly/no-see-um things that are just as bad. I'm jealous of your blackberries!

  4. chiggers are the WORST! no-see-ums close second. 2% hydrocortisone cream goes a long way. We used to wear 2 pairs of socks outside our pants and ductape them to the pants to try to prevent disaster when I worked in the field. You look like a dork but better than looking like you have some kind of biblical plague on your legs.

  5. I LOVE blackberries! I really do hope that's my Christmas present. :)

  6. Sars, you're gonna be easy for Christmas this year! Tomatoes and blackberries. My shopping is already half finished!!