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December 2005 Archives

Born. Eat. Shag. Die.

December 31, 2005

2005 in twenty-four words, a Mayfly Project

Ectopic pregnancy: pain
Local fame, peer-pressured family into blogging
Instant sex appeal without the glasses
Apartment troubles, and new place with pink carpet

Navel Gazing

December 30, 2005

Today also marks the one year anniversary of my using Proper Adult Capitalization on this here blog thing. Fascinating, I know.

Hey look, there's some lint in my belly button. Want to see?

Year Number Five

December 30, 2005

Rushing between classes, I sat perched on his desk chair in his dorm room writing him a note while he slept. I was on a crazy 18-credit schedule toward a never-obtained chemistry degree and was in class much more often than he was; I was jealous that he had the luxury of sleeping in.

I don't recall the content of the note, it was probably some mundane scheduling information, but as I wrote I heard him ask from his bed, "Why are you always so beautiful?"

A few weeks later he flew back home for Thanksgiving while I stayed in Fairbanks and drug a friend to turkey dinner at Damon's. The next night he proposed. Over the telephone.

It wasn't a question that took me by surprise; I had known it was coming for months and had even considered popping it myself instead of waiting for him to do it.

B & Valette in Hawaii

Happy fifth anniversary, love.

Evil Valette

December 29, 2005

I must have an evil twin in town, because four separate individuals have mistaken me for "someone else" in the past week.

A woman in line at the pharmacy went on and on about this "class" that I was "teaching" that night and wasn't swayed when I told her my evening plans included a bath and a nap, not teaching any class. One gentleman in the bakery even went so far as to throw something at me to get my attention (listening to the profuse apology was even more awkward than being hit with random objects).

I thought I had run Evil Valette out of town years ago. Did she think I wouldn't notice her back in town? That it wouldn't get back to me?

Because, oh, I know now. And she had better be on the look out, because if I find her... Pain. Lots of pain.

Best "Your Spouse Will Not Get This" Christmas Gift Of All Time

December 28, 2005

Stay Happy Paint

I thought my mom would faint
My dad mixed all this paint
The chicken coop was weathered bad
And we weren't being saints

While making quite a stink
We told him, "No not Pink"
We painted every wall but one
Then gave ourselves a wink

The chickens on the run
The mischief was so fun
We chased the little pluckers down
And painted every one

The writing on the wall thickens
Could have earned us lickens
Dad just gave a giggle
Stay happy paint chickens!

Chickens, Happy Paint, and poem courtesy John and Heidi

The Squeaking!

December 28, 2005

Why yes, Lacey loved opening her gifts Christmas morning, thank you for asking. The toys were promptly shredded, and then she continued to chase all of our discarded wrapping paper in hopes of more squeaking and more killing.

It's what she's best at, the killing. Schnauzers were bred to be ratters, and she displays this quality very nicely. She goes for the sweet spots on her toys -- the belly, the neck -- and once it is 'dead' she will chew on the eyes and ears. If I didn't have a heart I would get her some live playthings.

Note: this is not a suggestion for family members to send voles and rats to Lacey.

Yay for Moms

December 27, 2005

The search and rescue mission started out with noble intentions. There were gong-ho attitudes all around of completing the mission successfully until we arrived at our destination and, under a moonless sky, discovered that we had forgotten flashlights.

A thick Maglight would have been preferable in case it became necessary to pummel a rapist-murderer, but at that point any light would have done. Moments before I thought to abandon the mission I recalled a tiny pink plastic flashlight my mother forced me to carry in my car years ago after an engine oil incident.

As I swept the tiny beam from my flashlight back and forth before my feet, I wondered if the mission was worth it.

Though the tiny light was better than facing the pitch blackness of the unknown forest alone, I felt like an unsuspecting blonde girl in a horror movie: the buxom blonde is always the second to get killed after the minority girl, but at least the minority gets to keep her top on. And I had no minority to buffer me from certain death.

We went a quarter mile into the woods, my trusty plastic flashlight and I, until I heard the river. A few more turns and a few more steps before I found what I had been searching. I knew the likelihood of it still being where I had last seen it was slim, but there it was standing a solitary watch over the Tanana River. I collected it with a quick swoop of my arm and turned back toward the car, kicking myself for not leaving the headlights on.

If asked, I would say that I am not afraid of the dark. At least, not usually. But there's something about being miles away from civilization, miles away from the nearest porch light, in an unknown section of the great Alaskan wilderness that instills a fear of the dark.

The light was so faint that I could not see more than three feet ahead of me, and I imagined the battery flickering the bulb out once I was a quarter mile from the car. I would shake the flashlight, I would curse at it, and then I would hear a scraping noise from an indiscernible point within the woods around me. And then I would wake up tied in some guy's cellar.

And so, on my return trip to the car, staring at the small circle of light around me feet instead of the large expanse of black beyond the lit circle, I sang Sunday School songs. My God is so big / So strong and so mighty / No boogey man will kidnap me.

I arrived at the car in one piece with the flashlight's battery still operational and my trusty tripod safe in my mittened hand. We had conquered the darkness, my plastic flashlight and me.

The moral of the story: Do not roll your eyes when your mother insists on putting a dinky plastic flashlight in your glove box, for it will surely protect you from rapist-murderers and bears and lead you to your forgotten tripod by the river.

That Christmas Feeling

December 24, 2005

Our Christmas Eve was spent half at the laundromat (because the new washer didn't work [who installs a washer and not test it out immediately? my husband and landlord, apparently (meaning: men)]) fending off offers from unshowered men to help with the scarf I was making.

The other half was spent fending off the last-minute-hoards at department stores looking for a television with a picture tube. I hear picture tubes are very important to the extended weekend holiday.

There are no decorations up, though I did manage to wrap the dog's present, no matter how snooty that makes me sound. You too would laugh watching the dog discover that the paper wrapping SQUEAKS! And then it must DIE! The three minutes of hilarity before the squeaker is extracted, shredded, and digested is well worth appearing snooty to the internet.

I have so much food to prepare tomorrow for the two of us, it's just silly. Why does the store not sell whole turkeys smaller than 16 pounds? Anyone want to come over for Christmas dinner? There will be homemade biscuits! And pie!

Wishing your holiday is more Christmas-y than ours,
The Management and Staff

Building an Argument

December 23, 2005

My favorite part about the Celtic wedding by torchlight Wednesday night and it's corresponding party Thursday night is not the lack of a virgin sacrifice on the unity bonfire, losing face when I got the car stuck in the snow and having five beefy boys push me out, leaving my tripod by the river 40 miles out of town, forgetting the wasabi and gari at home to accompany my sushi, seeing the photos I took projected onto the wall for everyone and their grandmother to see, or even the brand new washer and dryer that were installed when I got home.

No, it was that I searched around the room at the reception for the source of that horrible burning smell only to find out that it was my hair that had caught on fire from one of the frou-frou candles. My hair, on fire.

It wasn't a huge pile of flames on my head -- surely I would have noticed that; nor was it a huge poof of smoke -- surely someone else would have noticed that. Just a horrible burning smell that everyone recognized but couldn't pinpoint.

Reason #3 I should cut my hair.

Murphy's Law of Sushi

December 22, 2005

The moment one lets another human being know that one makes sushi, loves to make sushi, loves to eat home made sushi, is the moment one is invited to every party and wedding reception so that one will bring sushi.

And one will invariably get full on sushi rice before the rolls are even cut, thereby ruining one's sushi dinner.

Exchange of Vows

December 22, 2005

The wedding last night was wonderful. It was very small, included just family and a few select friends caravaned by four vehicles to the Tanana River 40 miles out Chena Hot Springs Road.

I wore many layers and still forgot to grab my boots. My hands were warm enough slipping in and out of my beefy mittens (hard to hold the camera with beefy mittens let alone adjust the aperture), but my toes got a bit cold. A sacrifice made gladly for the bride and groom.

The ceremony was performed by the couple's pastor in a circle of torches, which had worried me initially. It's not easy to shoot a wedding lit only by torch.

Torch Thumbnail

I didn't get a lot of good pictures because of the larger shutter speeds and everyone refusing to stand like statues during the ceremony, but I am happy with what did come out. In one, the groom looks like he is breathing fire onto the pastor's wife. I hope they frame it.


December 21, 2005

I've found the best way to tackle an overwhelming To-Do list when there is only one coworker and one volunteer in the entire building is to crank up the non-work-sanctioned music and work on one's blog.

And lo, the search was delivered unto the sidebar. And it was greeted with much rejoicing.

Bad Idea

December 20, 2005

Can we all just agree that, while editing any HTML files in Word is not the Best Idea Ever even though it's easy for someone with no 1337 skillz, editing a lovingly and painstakingly hand-coded CSS and Javascript expanding and contracting menu in Word is an Extremely Bad Idea That Might Get Your IT Really Ticked Off At You And Start Making Plans To Sabotage Your Workstation And Possibly Even Your Career?

That would be great. Thanks.

Why Is Valette So Busy?

December 20, 2005

Valette is busy because it's the week before Christmas and people in our community are freezing and hungry with freezing and hungry children who cry a lot and there are other people with excess of everything who open their hearts and their checkbooks to try and make one little corner of the world a better place. And Valette gets to organize it with a paper trail. In triplicate.

Valette is busy because an awesome friend gave everyone ten days warning that she is getting married on solstice. Yes, that's right, tomorrow. There is a bachelorette party to attend tonight, the ceremony tomorrow night where Valette is expected to take photographs by the light of the moon and a huge bonfire plus there will be swords and guns and perhaps a virgin sacrifice, and the reception party Thursday night.

Valette is busy because she spent all weekend baking and the Christmas decorations are still not up.

Valette is busy because the landlord has yet to drop off the new stacking washer and dryer and she is out of socks. The girl who hates wearing socks has nary a clean sock to her name. Valette is considering hauling everything to the laundromat that she has not used in the last three years after the bachelorette party tonight.

Valette is so busy that she would love to curl up under her desk and sleep for days, but instead will continue to refer to herself in third person.

Sugar Blessings

December 20, 2005

Chocolate peanut butter balls.
Cupcakes with sprinkles.
Chocolate dipped brandy snaps.
Snowflake roll-out cookies.
Toffee bars.
Rum balls.

The weekend was productive and Betty Crocker would be proud of me. Now I need to find some unsuspecting soul on which to dump this sugar, because there is no way B and I will be able to finish it all ourselves.

Public Service Announcement

December 18, 2005

To the entire McLay and Ragland families (Do any of his family read this site? If so, why haven't you commented?):

My telephone is not working. If you need to contact us by telephone, use B's cell. If you do not know the cell number, call one of the moms because they know everything.

Choral Karaoke

December 17, 2005

I just got back from a Sing-It-Yourself Messiah. It's kinda like karaoke, but with middle-aged conservatives who know how to sing and read music. And who aren't drunk.

I drug along a friend so I wouldn't be the only one under 35 and wearing demin. We got there late and had to sit with the tenors. We did a thirty second warm-up (because everyone should be ready to sing the Messiah after thirty seconds of scales), and then the first hour was just practice, and we ran through a bunch of the more difficult songs.

And since I had never sang Handel's Messiah, I was grateful for the hour of sight-reading 64th notes. At least it got my voice warmed up enough for the high notes.

I sang in the church choir growing up, and in high school opted for playing percussion in the band instead of the choir. I could sing Soprano 1 if it was needed, and in church choir it was rarely needed. Now, after six years of singing along with the lower-keyed radio and alto harmonnies in a rock band, my soprano is sorely out of practice.

And I do mean sore, because those six years didn't stop me from trying to hit that high A again and again tonight. I don't think I hit it even once. The G I could get fine so long as the progression worked up to it, but the A was elusive. Every time I tried, my voice looked at me sideways like I was crazy and decided to completely shut down.

Maybe if I don't do any practising, next year will be better.

Betty Crocker's Altar

December 14, 2005

The staff is to bring fattening, sugary goodies to work on Monday in appreciation of our volunteer Board of Directors. Plus a birthday party for Jesus with the kids I teach at church on Sunday night, to which I am to bring a dozen cupcakes. Which means Saturday afternoon will be packed full with baking.

I love baking. It has to be so specific, the carefully measured ingredients adding up to form a chemical reaction that can have devastating effects if measured wrong. Making dinner is much less structured, and many wonderful meals can be created by throwing a mish-mash of ingredients and spices together. But not baking. Baking cannot be improvised. Baking has rules that must be followed.

How a scientist cannot love baking I will never know.

Because we moved over Thanksgiving and work has been busy busy busy, I haven't had time for Christmas this year. This time last year the presents were bought and in the mail. The personalized cards were printed, signed, and mailed. The decorations were up and twinkling. But this year? Nothing more than humming the tail end of some carol I caught on the radio.

I haven't even made so much as a pie, much to my husband's disappointment, so this weekend will be served at the altar of Betty Crocker. I'll probably make the standard Christmas-y goodies like chocolate peanut butter balls and fudge, maybe even some hard candy now that I bought a candy thermometer that actually works, but it would also be fun to make something new.

Russian tea cakes? Speculaas? One of everything from the Joy of Baking?

I can already see my weight chart start moving in the opposite direction.

Lose It

December 12, 2005

This whole losing weight thing is highly recommended.

Figure A: Weight over time. Δy = 20lb, Δt = 6mo

A+++++++ WILL DO BUSINESS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!1!!

Not worthy

December 11, 2005

Hey, did you hear that Richard Pryor died yesterday?
Who's that?
Who's that!? Only perhaps the funniest black stand-up comedian EVAR.

Squeegie Calendar

December 9, 2005

While I was in Anchorage and Homer at the beginning of November, Curt went on and on AND ON about how much he loves my photography and wanted to lick my feet and have my babies if only he could use a few of them for a 2006 calendar.

I'm pretty sure Damon put him up to it so that I would accept and love Curt, but mostly it made me uncomfortable what with all the feet-licking. Plus, it tickled. A lot.

Since Curt never got back to me about which photos he would like in a calendar, I decided to overlook any preferences he might have and create one from some of my favorites.

Apparently my favorites only come in the colors brown, red, and orange.

Now, I'm not making a bit of money off of this thing because it would take a whole lot of you buying this calendar before I would reach the $25 minimum and Cafépress would send me a check. And it's frightening to think of my mother buying 25 of them.

Bad Cold

December 9, 2005

You know it's a bad cold when you wake to your alarm and find that you have successfully held on to a wad of tissues all night long, and it's not even the same wad of tissues you were holding when you fell asleep.

I'm up waiting for 7:30 when I can call my supervisor at home because my sinuses are not going in to work today, and they have convinced me to do likewise.

Fairy Wonderland

December 8, 2005

The Laryngitis Fairy seems to be becoming downsized by the Sinus Infection Fairy. Which is cool; the Sinus Infection Fairy and I go way back.

It's like that kid that went through every year of school with you, Kindergarten through Senior year, and even though you never hung out or talked or cheated off each other in class, you still feel the need to acknowledge him/her with a smile and small wave or head nod when you see each other at the grocery store because it's still a familiar face, a face that shared your childhood, even though you may not even remember the name that goes with that face.

I don't remember where I was heading with that, if I even had a destination, because apparently the Sinus Infection Fairy brings tidings of great foggy forgetfulness.


December 8, 2005

I demand that you go give Steve-o some birthday spankings. Did you know that he used to be on Jackass?? Let him know how much you loved those thongs.

While you're there in Anchorage, you might as well swing on up to the Wasilla hospital and make fun of my brother breaking his arm stringing Christmas lights. I won't be able to make it, but you can go in my stead. He sure would appreciate being pointed and laughed at; in this family, if we don't pick on you, we don't love you.


December 7, 2005

Just wanted to let everyone publically know that I <3 my four brothers and all of their spouses, ex- or current, and I would totally kiss you all in front of the internet.

Well, not really with the kissing. But a hug? Sure, a hug.


December 6, 2005

I wouldn't recommend going to work despite feeling icky. I really wouldn't recommend getting sick during really super busy weeks at work, but it is highly likely that the reason for the sickiness is, indeed, the stressful business of work.

Multigrain Saltines are surprisingly as good as, or possibly better than, regular saltines. Saltines are still, and always will be, the perfect feeling-like-sick food. And whatever someone might say, they are proven (fact! I say) to find one's lost voice. We shall see if the mighty Saltine can hang on to my voice through the night.

While I can still speak, there's a bit of a discussion elsewhere about secret blogs that has piqued my interest.

I maintain a secret blog. I talk about topics that are very, very personal to me. Topics that should not be discussed in any public forum, topics that I really don't want you and every one of my sister-in-laws to know, but topics that I need to write about and get out of myself. I run it under nom de plume and on Blogspot disconnected from my original Blogger account.

How about you? Do you run a secret blog, or one that is only available to specific individuals? If you do, please, by all means, do not post a link to it (thereby defeating the 'secret' aspect, n'est pas?), but why do you run a secret blog?

Lost Voice

December 6, 2005

if I looking for voice
him name is hopkin green voice
I lost my voice
Love, Valette
P.S. I'll find my voice
Who took my voice?
Who found my voice?

Warmth or Photos

December 3, 2005

It's sunny outside and looks to be the perfect day for a walk with the dog and the camera. Except that it is -25°F.

Yes, I could wear my huge parka and a hat and gloves and a scarf and socks and even thermal wear, and the dog could wear her clashing sweater and fleece boots, and I could keep the camera in my pocket while not in use.

All that just seems like an awful lot of work for a short, brisk walk and a few spiffy pictures.

But then the amount of sunlight we are getting these days adds up to Not Much, and taking night photos requires a lot of standing and waiting for the camera to do its thing, hoping that it won't shut down and refuse to work at -25°F.

Maybe I could get all wrapped up, start the car, and take a short walk around our new neighborhood while the car is trying to warm up. Then a drive somewhere pretty where I can take pictures from the warm(ish) car.

What a grand idea. Thanks for talking me into it.


December 2, 2005

I need to stop telling supervisors that I have a friend who, until recently, worked for Intuit and just might know why Quickbooks is being a little punk. Or that I know someone, a few someones, actually, who work for Yahoo!. And this other guy? Yeah, he works for Adobe and could maybe get me some free software.

I'm getting a weird reputation, one that causes people's eyes to widen in awe as they back up a step to make room for my awesomeness. A reputation where my job description is appended again and again.

This whole networking thing is a scam.

How to Learn Linux by Gunpoint

December 1, 2005

Just over a year ago I knew only the basics of working with a command line, all learned when working with DOS. How to list a directory, change a directory, remove files, and so on. Basic command-line-for-dummies sort of stuff: I had never even looked at a *nix command line.

But then we got a Linux box at work to run our database, and I learned how to display and set the IP address, run patches, change the date and time, start the web server and MySQL, among a few other tidbits I had Googled that we needed to get us through the current crisis.

And now that MySQL threw a fun error 28 yesterday, I have learned a whole lot more.

And I find myself wanting to kiss JR and our Linux volunteer while, in turn, the staff wants to kiss me. It would all be quite awkward, yes, but if these people won't accept my choco chip cookies, what else could I offer?

Additional Content

Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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