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December 2006 Archives

Christmas In List Format

December 27, 2006

Because my sinus and my uterus have joined forces to swell to three times their size and gang up on me, reducing my concentration powers tremendously:

  • Not putting the car into any more ditches because I refused to drive it anywhere
  • Ditching my grandparents on Christmas Eve to go out to Caribou Lake with my brother
  • Refusing to fight with my father, which irked him to no end
  • Agreeing into driving a 14-year-old (whom I hadn't seen since she was 6) back to Anchorage with me, who talked non-stop
  • "When you go out with someone for a long time, you love them, you know? And six months is a really long time."
  • Family gossip
  • Getting my sister-in-law's snow machine stuck only once
  • Getting my brother in trouble with his wife by announcing to the whole family that we had to roll her machine to get it unstuck
  • Lacey unwrapping a present a day early and spreading nuts all over the floor while everyone was at church

2006 In Cities

December 25, 2006

A little better than last year's list, inspired by Kottke:

Fairbanks, AK
Anchor Point, AK
Homer, AK
Caribou Lake, AK (though technically not a town of any sort, I still spent a few nights)
Anchorage, AK
Tracey, CA
San Francisco, CA

Holiday Travel

December 23, 2006

The drive to Homer was mostly uneventful, and by that I mean "The Longest Drive To Homer In The History Of Drives To Homer Ever Amen."

Of the 300 people stupid enough to brave the Seward and Sterling highways today, 298 of them were travelling north behind two state plows. 290 of the vehicles travelling north were big pickups with 4-wheel-drive, and 8 were Subarus with all-wheel drive.

Then there was me and my front-wheel-drive neon with non-studded winter tires that have been driven on for two years straight, winters and summers alike. Behind me was one large pickup with four-wheel-drive that was unhappy with my chosen speed (slow), but not willing to go around me even when I slowed down to indicate my desire for him to go around me. Also headed south were no state plows of any sort ever.

There was terrible visibility for 90% of the drive even though my mother and oldest brother kept assuring me that "the sun is shining! right now! serious!" in Homer. The sun was shining, this is true. But it only shined for the ten miles north of Homer; the rest of the highway was snow-snow-snow.

I only went into the ditch once. But I called my dad and he came and rescued me. Just like he always does because I'm "the girl" and he "loves me better." Isn't that right, John?

It just happened to be in my parents' driveway.

I made it all the way from Anchorage to Homer through blizzards and quarter-mile visibility and lots of snow and ice on the roads only to get stuck in a ditch within sight of my parents' house.

This is going to be an awesome Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Internet

December 22, 2006

From my home to yours.

I'm Not Worried

December 22, 2006

The plan is to drive to Homer tomorrow morning. The plan, though noble and true, may be completely thrown out the window due to a wee bit of snow.

Granted, it's not like we weren't expecting it. This is December in Alaska, after all, and Alaska = snow. But the roads have been awful the last few days. Awful in the sense of driving home from work taking an hour. Awful in the sense of getting stuck two feet from my apartment driveway.

I could see the edge of the storm out over the ocean last night driving home as wind whipped down streets and snow dumped on the roads, and I was happy to see sky. But there is a rumor that another storm is due this weekend.

Christmas weekend. The weekend during which I am driving to Homer and back.

Awful in the sense of avalanches.

Don't worry, Mom, everything will be all clear with dry roads when I'm driving.

Update 9.20am 23 December

The question comes down to this: how difficult are "difficult driving conditions"?

I've driven in snow storms, in white outs, and it's true: they aren't that much fun. But I've survived. Stayed on the road and everything. Isn't driving in the winter in Alaska always difficult?

Maybe the real question is: How big of a heart attack would my mother have if I set off driving with a blizzard warning in effect? Even if the weather for most of the drive looks fine?

Update 11.10am 23 December

Alright, screw this waiting thing. Blizzard warnings have lifted, and I'm leaving for Homer.

Update 9.00pm 23 December

I made it safe and sound.

Wells Fargo, I'm Looking At You

December 20, 2006

The bank that holds the lien on my wonderful car? Not so much with the holiday spirit.

So much so that I can only make an online payment if I have a checking account with their bank.

And the automated system? The one that is designed to take my monthly payment in the form of blood and limbs and firstborns? The system that ate away my entire lunch break? Hung up on me four times yesterday. FOUR TIMES. While I was trying to give it money.

Please, would you take my money?
*dial tone*
Hi, remember me? I wanted to give you my money and you...
*dial tone*
Is it possible that you don't really want...
*dial tone*
Well you stupid piece of...
*dial tone*

When I finally got through to the place where I give it my money and it takes my money and won't repossess my puppy dog, I was informed that they don't take credit cards. At all. Ever. Not online, not over the phone, not in person, not with a mouse, not in a house.

The hell? Who doesn't take credit cards?

Whatever. Fine. Take it right from my jugular checking account. Oh, and please, do charge me a $5 fee for the privilege of hanging up on me five times. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

First of the year or so I'll be looking into refinancing with a bank that doesn't suck quite so hard.

Hopkin Lost Cheer

December 18, 2006

I found some holiday cheer this weekend. Has anybody misplaced some of theirs?

It's soft and bubbly and makes me wiggle my hips to Barenaked For The Holidays while making thousands of teeny rum balls.

I'm happy to give it a nice and warm place to stay for a bit -- a week or two -- but it really can't stay too long.

Caffeinated Birthday

December 12, 2006

It was Steveo's birthday this past weekend, and he who invited me to the poker game so I could completely clean out the table of their nickels and dimes. But to show that I wasn't out to take take take, I brought cake and ice cream.

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

½c brown sugar
½c chopped walnuts, toasted
1T ground cinnamon
1T unsweetened cocoa powder

1¼c white sugar
3c all purpose flour
1T baking powder
¾t salt

¾c unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs
1T vanilla extract
1c whole milk
2T vegetable oil

Preheat oven: 350°F. Butter and flour 10-inch diameter by 4-inch-deep angel food cake pan (or one of those fancy new silicone bunt pans that will totally require 25 extra minutes of baking and stick to the cake because you didn't think you needed to spray it with Pam).

Mix the brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and cocos in small bowl. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in white sugar, then eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with mile and oil.

Spoon 1/3 batter into pan, then sprinkle with half of walnut mixture. Another 1/3 of the batter, the rest of the walnut mixture, then the rest of the batter. Using a knife, cut through batter to swirl (don't over mix) walnut mixture.

Bake about 55 minutes (or nearly an hour and a half if using that fancy silicone bunt pan you've always wanted to try) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on rack.

Can be made a day in advance; cover pan with foil and store at room temperature.

Serve with cappuccino chip ice cream from the Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Win every poker hand because you not only aren't wearing underwear, but also because everyone is too distracted by all of the sugary goodness you brought.

Commando Lucky

December 11, 2006

I can't rightly talk about my dog's bingo gambling habits without also mentioning that I walked away from a poker table this weekend with more than double what I brought with me.

It was only a $10 table, but it still felt great to win something back. I need to make up for the two other times I played and lost most if not all of my original $10.

I learned how to play cards growing up on the boat. There was often an hour block or so of downtime while waiting for the seine to trick all of the fish in the ocean into jumping on deck, and my teenage brothers could only tolerate so many hands of Go Fish.

They and my father taught me how to play all kinds of card games. Cribbage was the game most frequently played on the boat, but I also learned draw poker and stud poker, both of the five- and seven-card varieties.

We bet with match sticks, and I seriously doubt I won a single hand ever. Being the little sister does have its disadvantages.

This holdem stuff seems very simple and luck-based until you're sitting at a table of strangers trying to bluff their way through crappy hands. It's all about the betting and trying to guess what Joe has and what he wants you to think he has.

I should start using my cleavage to my advantage, because I sure do stink at reading other people at the poker table. But after this weekend, I'm thinking it might not require heaving bosoms to win.

Not wearing panties, however? Required.

Birthdays and Gateway Drugs

December 9, 2006

My niece turned nine yesterday and I went over to John and Heidi's after work for the birthday party. Only when I showed up there were no screaming children, no wrapping paper torn asunder, and no plates full of sugar.

Naturally, I assumed I had gotten the date wrong (but then it isn't every day one's niece has a birthday and I'm not the terrible kind of aunt who forgets things like that) (I'm just the terrible kind of aunt who forgets to do anything about it). Turned out I was just early -- the Sargeant family showed up and chaos reigned.

One of the Sargeant kids kept trying to get everyone to play bingo with him -- what kind of kids toy is bingo, anyway? -- but everyone else was more interested in the ice skating rink in the back yard.

Instead, the persistent child decided Lacey would play bingo and, by golly, she would like it.

So he gave her a card, placing it gently on the arm of the couch right at her feet. As he dropped plastic bingo balls from the plastic bingo cage, he called out the plastic bingo number and congratulated Lacey whenever she got one.

"B7. B7! You have that one! Good job, Lacey!"

My dog? She won bingo against a 10-year-old. Next thing I know she'll be addicted to the game, setting up a collection of troll dolls and lighters. And then? Golf. Because everyone knows bingo is the gateway drug for golfing.

Won't somebody please think of the puppies?

2 Sisters

December 4, 2006

Beth and Becca, two very dear friends of mine in Fairbanks, are sooper talented in more ways than can be imagined. They each have more creative talent in their pinky fingers than I do in my entire body. They make beaded jewelry like nobody's business and they've started a blog to showcase some of their stuff: 2 Sisters Beadwork.

(Actually, they started a blog because someone (read: Valette) promised them work on an online store to showcase their things but then that someone up a moved her butt to Anchorage, leaving them high and dry and website-less.)

I have a bunch of their pieces because it's great payment for things like business cards and promotional postcards, and I love wearing each and every pieces I have. Their stuff really is beautiful, so go take a look and tell them how beautiful it all is even if you aren't able to buy anything.

Been in Anchorage just over a month

December 3, 2006

The ocean is right. There. I can't smell it because of all of the exhaust and gross city smells, but I can (sometimes) see it and I can drive five minutes to it. The absence of the ocean was the biggest thing I disliked about Fairbanks. Even though I won't be sticking my feet into it here like I would in Homer (because: ew) (really), I know it's there. And that makes me incredibly happy.

Rush hour oh my God. There is traffic here in Anchorage. And I mean real traffic. Not San Francisco traffic, not even by far, but really. Rush hour? In Fairbanks? Meant it took me five extra minutes to get across town. Meant there would be a line of six-plus cars at a light. But this twenty-to-thirty-minutes-to-get-downtown thing, this waiting-through-five-cycles-of-a-light thing, is just crazy.

Four libraries. Four! And that doesn't even count the one on campus that my card gets me into. Libraries with more than one floor of books. Libraries with quiet rooms bigger and cozier than my apartment.

Thrift stores here are for poor people. What gives? Thrift stores in Fairbanks are more for college students and hippies, which means the clothing is clean and hip-ish. And I have nevere been sniffed by a quite-probably-drunk man, Native or otherwise, while browsing in any Fairbanks thrift store.

I could use this right now

December 1, 2006
You know what I like? Double whammy: going to bed on freshly laundered sheets AFTER a nighttime shower WITH freshly shaved legs. That's like giving yourself a present.

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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