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July 2007 Archives

Ganging Up On Me

July 31, 2007

After surviving a horribly freezing near-death experience with camping and after surviving a terribly unexciting fishing excursion earlier this summer, Steve decided it would be a wonderful idea to combine the two into a camping-fishing weekend.

And I'm not talking gay camping which, honestly, sounds like a whole hell of a lot of fun. Maybe I should try to be gay for a bit.

But no, I'm talking the kind of camping where the only perk is a hand sanitizer dispenser in the outhouse -- which is a luxury. I'm talking gritty-unbathed-seven-day-campground-funk kind of camping. And I was only camping for one night.

Steve Annoying Ally

Camping would be more fun if I wore thermal underwears while convincing my small heater of a dog to stay in a mummy bag rated to -30°F all night long.

And if other campers took the 10pm quiet time as more of a "rule" and less of a "suggestion," "if you want," "but it's not like anyone's going to do anything if you stay up all night screaming."

And maybe if it were more like gay camping.

Even though everyone was catching their limits of 6 fish on Saturday and I was promised the river was bursting with fish that all want to jump into my arms and go home with me, but I guess they were all done with that by the time we got onto the river Sunday.

Practicing Rowing

Fishing would be more fun if I spent more time lying on the beach with a book. I did, however, manage to catch at least 10 rocks and a nasty sunburn.

On the way back to Anchorage we stopped in Girdwood for a slice of pizza and heard that there had been some accident further north backing up traffic. We didn't think too much of it until everything ground to a stop and this happened:

Long Line of Traffic - Back

Traffic jam! In Alaska! Crazy!

The only possible thing mentioned in the Monday paper was about a kayaker getting stuck in the mud flats. Which is an amazing story: people have died stuck in the flats. But he could have been more considerate and gotten stuck after I had passed by.

I Don't Get Out Much

July 26, 2007

While Steve was busy shouting at the last few chapters of Harry Potter, I decided it was high time my dog got a shave and a haircut.

Haircut: Before

You would have decided the same. She was three times as big as she should be, and the bad smells just clung to her fur, no matter how frequently I tortured her with a bath.

And you know that you love an animal when your nose is two inches away from her arse and she farts, but you refuse to let go of her feet because there's only two little tufts of hair on her tail remaining to be cut off.

Haircut: After

There's a reason I put off her haircuts for as long as possible.

Stack Poetry

July 24, 2007

I was going to make zucchini bread tonight (my mom sent my fresh zucchini from her greenhouse!), but then I cut my fingers on some chicken wire and couldn't quite work out how much blood to substitute for one egg.

Instead, I got inspired by the Dutch [via]:

Look at your bookshelf.
View every book title as a line of poetry.
Stack books.
Make poems.

Stack Poem 1

the dark tower
arc d'x
indie fonts
pandora's clock
10,000 dreams interpreted
seven types of ambiguity

Stack Poem 2

native son
ancient shores
time future
a clash of kings
the light fantastic

Stack Poem 3

the moon men
bikini planet
an alien affair
a matter for men
war of the worlds
the conquering sword of conan

Dental Crush

July 23, 2007

I had a dentist appointment first thing this morning, which is a great way to start off a Monday.

The dentist has never freaked me out. Only time I was ever a little skittish is when my dentist in Homer -- the one I had seen since I was 9 -- thought he could do "one quick filling" without anesthesia.

"It won't hardly hurt!"
Ha. Yeah, don't believe that EVER.

The last time I had seen a dentist was the summer of 2000. I got x-rays and a cleaning and requested I get my molars yanked out. The reason? I would soon be out from under my parents' dental insurance. The oral surgeon didn't appreciate my frank honesty about that, but he pulled the teeth anyway.

Seven years of no dental coverage, no dental care.

Seven years of brushing my teeth only when I showered (yes, I brush my teeth in the shower and yes, I know that it's weird, but it's efficient and otherwise I wouldn't brush at all so let's just leave it at that).

Seven years of only flossing when something got stuck between my teeth (usually a piece of fingernail) (oh man I chew my nails so much it's not even funny).

Seven years and I was expecting the worst.

Growing up we didn't have the most stringent of dental habits, and as such my first few dentist visits resulted in many (8? I think?) fillings. Which were no fun, but it never freaked me out.

But these last seven years? Have resulted in approximately zero cavities.

The hygienist cleaned all of my teeth and shoved so many metal tools in between them that they still, 12 hours later, feel like she attached traction weights to each and every one of them to pull them apart.

The dentist that saw me (not the one I made the appointment for because he had gotten stranded out of town due to the heavy wind and rain) was extremely attractive from the viewpoint of lying on my back (ahem). He told me that I had a very pretty smile and needed to floss more.

But honestly.
I think he says that to all the girls.

Glacier Burgers Cure Cancer

July 20, 2007

Oh my God, people.
The picture of that burger.
The one down below this post.
It just looks so good.

Yeah. Um. Anyone up for a quick road trip to Homer? The milkshake is on me.

While we're driving the four hours south (plus or minus) (usually minus) (hopefully minus-minus) (my car is fast, you see) (and my foot heavy), I'll take the opportunity to tell you all about the things I learned about my camera on this trip.

Namely: if I make a bunch of customized settings, things like ISO and white balance, namely, since I'm still not comfortable with going fully manual.

Because what if the shots don't come out and they're all blurry and I'm this giant failure and my mother doesn't love me any more? I might be a teensy tiny bit afraid of failing a giant burning death of failure. Which makes it difficult to do new things.

Blah blah blah introspection.
Anyway. My camera settings.

I tried to do an impromptu photo shoot with the dog on my old bed in my old room in my parents' basement. I upped the ISO and changed the white balance to Tungsten to counter the yellowy side lamp.

But the dog wouldn't cooperate and I left my tripod in Anchorage and, well, none of the photos came out.

However. I forgot to change settings back and everything from there on out had a lovely blue tint. I'm very glad I was shooting in RAW format all weekend; I was able to change the settings back the way they were supposed to be.

Moral of the story: if you can't make it, fake it.
- or -
A Glacier Burger will fix anything.

Going Home

July 18, 2007

My trip to Homer! Was so awesome! And I have pictures!

I drove the 220 miles south Friday after work, stopping by my apartment to pick up the dog and her new favorite squeaking squirrel toy. There were no problems on the drive besides tourists in RVs that were slowing down the whole highway OH MY GOD GET OFF THE ROAD.

Once there I chatted with my parents, showed off my new camera, and played with a cheap junk camera my dad got for the "price of a postage stamp," which was much less than the amount of pride he had received for getting a free camera. Which turned out to be so cheap and so junk that only one picture out of fifteen would download.

Saturday morning my mother and I played tourist on the end of The Spit, where we looked at three million pieces of touristy crap with "Alaska!" emblazoned on the side.

And then.
The real purpose of my visit.
The Glacier Drive-In.

With the Most Perfect Cheeseburger In The Whole Entire World. And the best chocolate peanut butter shake. Imagine chunks of peanut butter still stuck to the bottom of the cup and grease dripping from the burger's foil wrapper.

The love of my life

It's true love, people.

My brother Rodney called me the day that the Glacier Drive-In opened this summer (a summer business only) to brag that he was eating his first Glacier Burger of the year. I suppose siblings are meant to torture each other, but that was TOTALLY UNFAIR.

Saturday afternoon Lacey and I ran around on Bishop's Beach, where we learned two things:

1// Ocean water is not very yummy even though it's wet and little dogs get thirsty from chasing seagulls. And the water ten feet further down the beach, and even the water ten feet down from that, is still pretty yucky.

2// It's very difficult to take photos with my new camera (which requires both hands and my eye up to the viewfinder) while holding onto a dog leash, the other end of which contains a small dog intent on chasing down every last seagull to yell at them from being on her beach.

Grass at the beach


Not Dead, Despite All The Groaning

July 17, 2007

My mother just emailed me to let me know that my site is void of all posts.

Which: okay, fine. My priorities this summer haven't involved a lot of time on the computer at home. Not when there is sunshine and grass and fun to be had.

Case in point: the dog and I went to Homer this last weekend, just a quick trip. Two nights and two full days with my mother and my brother and his wife.

I had much fun and took a ton of pictures, pictures that I am in the middle of processing. Which I will get to, honest, there's just a few domestic things that have needed my attention first.

Like the soggy towels strewn all over the bathroom floor.
And the burgers that needed to be barbequed.
And three catch-up weeks of grocery shopping.
And how long have these dishes been "soaking" in the sink?

And dude, seriously. Are those security tags stuck all over the bathtub wall? What the heck? What did you do while I was gone, anyway? This is not how the apartment looked when I left.

But yes, photos will be coming, as will a rundown of All My Favorite Homer Activities.

Items of interest to look forward to: the burger I will one day marry, the time my 4 wheeler decided to climb a tree, and why it is not good to drink ocean water.

Ohhhh, the suspense!

Wherein Valette Conquers A Mountain And Then Loses Her Shit

July 8, 2007

I voluntarily accompanied John and Heidi up Flattop Mountain on Friday, which is definitely less flat-like and more mountain-like. I should write a letter to the State Parks Director.

There were people jogging up the mountain. People carrying small children and small dogs up the mountain. People climbing extra hills and rocks "for a better view." People carrying open cups of beer and taking their time to not spill any. People who never needed to stop and rest.

I was not one of those people.

Steve and Donny

Okay, yeah. I made it over the hilly bottom, up the 3 million wooden steps until muscles that had laid dormant my entire life screamed for death, and up the last rocky up-up-up. But I died every foot of the way.

Supposedly dots have been spray painted on the rocks to indicate the level of climbing difficulty: green for So Easy Even Valette Can Do It; yellow for Everyone Else; and red for Tell Your Mother You Love Her Before You Meet Your Maker. Soon the green and yellow dots looked more lime, and then rocks had both lime and red dots on them.

Conclusion: the dots lie. You will die on this mountain no matter what. Too bad there's no cell reception up here for you to call your mother.

But I did make it. Eventually. And standing on top of a mountain 3500 feet in the air, looking out over the city, Cook Inlet, and the Alaska Range, surrounded by peaks 4000 to 6000 feet high, one feels very small. Insignificant.

Foraker, Hunter, and McKinley from Flattop

And then the trouble started.


Three Point Holiday Update

July 4, 2007

1// Parade

What better way to love my new camera than to bring it on an outing on its first full day as a part of my family?

Steve and I shot downtown for the parade where he only pretended to drop my new camera, and then I pretended to kick him in the nuts.

I had begun feeling like this was Too Much Camera for me, but after shooting with it for an hour I'm really really rillyillyilly loving it.

If I had to choose between my camera and my dog, it would be a difficult choice. Choosing between Steve and my camera, however, would be a no-brainer (see kick-in-nuts reference above).


I only licked the camera three times in public.

2// Transformers

I didn't know anything about Transformers before seeing the movie, other than them being Those Dolls "Action Figures" Steve Plays With. I knew they were robots that turned into planes and cars and Steve yells at you if you break one.

And yet I still enjoyed the movie. It was really, really good. The theatre was packed by the time we arrived, even though we were 45 minutes early, but with the fun kind of audience that laughs at all the right places and claps when Optimus Prime appears.

Highly recommended. A+++ will see again.

3// Barbecue.

I don't care for red meat, or even pork. I don't have any moral objection to it, I just don't like its taste. But there's a special place set aside in my heart just for ribs and their consumption. Because, oh my. I can eat three animals' ribs. It was the perfect meal for a summer holiday.

Now I get to look forward to another short week at work before the weekend.
How was your Independence Day?

Oh My God

July 3, 2007


You Have No Idea

July 3, 2007

Oh my God oh my God.

(Refresh. Refresh.)

On the Kenai River

July 1, 2007

Yeah, I was dragged along fishing. With a pole, even: the most inefficient way to catch fish.

Seven things I did not do on my first fishing trip, although with some of them I came really, really close:

  • Photograph anyone catching a fish.
  • Push Steve into the river.
  • Drop my camera.
  • Cry.
  • Snag any part of someone's body with a hook.
  • Arrive with Hello Kitty fishing gear.
  • Catch a fish.

Pretending to fish

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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