Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: A Christmas artist and a cyber safari

My attempts at adornment layouts come across as being colorfully sculptured landfills

After the days orbiting Thanksgiving waddled into hibernation for another year, things became more laidback around our cabin. The chilled air was quiet except for random challenges from roaming gangs of pheasants cackling uncouth lineage inferences at our slightly schizoid and wannabee warrior mutt, Luna, during her escorted walks.

My wife enjoys a tranquil outing while she escorts the dog to “duty land” and gives short shrift to cacophonous interruptions especially when she’s trying to plan how she’ll decorate for the yuletide holidays. Thus, it takes her just two words to shut the squabbling down.

First, she snaps, “enough!” at our diminutive yapper accompanied by a stare that would freeze Godzilla in place. Her second shot, “Rotisserie!” instantly quells the bird bull as they rocket for a safer sanctuary in the middle of the Sterling Highway.

As I have mentioned before, she is a master at turning our home into a wonderland centered by a Christmas tree so stunning that it seems to glow without its lights on.

Each year, she introduces such beautiful artistic innovations into her holiday themes that Saint Nick leaves her an assortment of snack cheeses encircling a box of white Zinfandel with hopes that she’ll give her hubby a crack at the goodies when the game comes on.

I contribute to the massive project by denoting any anomalies in the ornament layout of tree such as candy cane crookedness, proper ornament visibility and advanced dog defenses.

It is also at her behest that I remain in the shadows during her favorite project of the year because she learned early in our marriage that her idea of sculpted Christmas arrangements and décor don’t run parallel with mine.

My attempts at adornment layouts come across as being colorfully sculptured landfills.

As a kid, I was verboten from getting anywhere near a tree with a fist full of tinsel.

My idea of properly distributing the silvery strings was to fade back and launch a high pass on the theory that the tinsel would separate evenly to serenely float down to cover the green limbs in a glowing veneer.

The resultant glob hanging from the angel’s wing did not impress either parent so I was relegated to holiday litter patrol and snow shovel engineer.

Things have improved. Now, at least, by bride seeks my advice as to if the angel gracing the apex of the tree is askew. I was also recently appointed to investigate any interesting specials featured during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday offerings.

It was quite a trip through the online peddling centers.

The first product catching my eye was a cool compact rig called the HALO Bolt Ultimate Cell Phone-n-Laptop Charger, Car Battery Jump with AC Outlet and Car Converter. I was jazzed and added it my cart.

That’s when the dreaded red warnings went off stating they can’t ship here, nor Hawaii. Why would someone in Hawaii want one? They can wind surf to work or paste miniature solar panels on everything they need to charge. We have problems tracking down a suitable sunbeam this time of the year. I moved on.

My prepaid flip phone provider, AT&T, recently jacked up their fee from 10 cents a minute to 35 and now utilize customer service techs located on some remote island where English is a second language. They must figure that setting their fee on “gouge” will urge me into ponying up for one of those rigs that have enough apps to design and launch satellites. All I need is something to yelp for help or call the wife to remind me of what she sent me to store for in the first place so I’m still checking for specials.

All in all, the cyber shopping expedition was enlightening.

I found that I could either purchase an 85” hi-tech TV or fill up my truck. Plus, there were portable ovens that did everything from air fry, air roast, bake, broil, toast, dehydrate, reheat, bug zap and call the dog for dinner, all in one powerful 1800-watt appliance.

All kinds of fashions claimed to be on bargain basement sale. Not really surprising when some the gear looked like it was a wearable warning that the person sporting it was off their meds.

Then came the cooking ware hawkers constantly talking over each other while angling for better personal exposure shots on camera. Many of them were still wearing the clothing or jewelry they had been pitching 10 minutes earlier and looked as though they were in desperate need of a pure caffeine infusion. One gentleman accidently launched a miniature drone when he tried to run a cooking video. The lady standing beside the little chopper must have had to change her leopard spots onesie because she disappeared and showed up in pj’s when the researchable battery candles came on sale.

And, so it went.

The mad marathon of bargains resulted in Jane getting a warp speed laptop with so much of the latest technology that it did a background check on her to make sure she was worthy enough to turn it on.

Hopefully, she’ll let me use it once in a while. I’m getting tired of Cortona swearing back at me from our senior citizen Dell.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t pleading his case to have her new ‘puter run a worthiness check on him without Cortona finding out.

More in Life

Powerful truth of resurrection reverberates even today

Don’t let the resurrection of Jesus become old news

Nell and Homer Crosby were early homesteaders in Happy Valley. Although they had left the area by the early 1950s, they sold two acres on their southern line to Rex Hanks. (Photo courtesy of Katie Matthews)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 1

The main action of this story takes place in Happy Valley, located between Anchor Point and Ninilchik on the southern Kenai Peninsula

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Chloe Jacko, Ada Bon and Emerson Kapp rehearse “Clue” at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska, on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Whodunit? ‘Clue’ to keep audiences guessing

Soldotna High School drama department puts on show with multiple endings and divergent casts

Leora McCaughey, Maggie Grenier and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Singing, dancing and a lot of ABBA

Nikiski Theater puts on jukebox musical ‘Mamma Mia!’

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A tasty project to fill the quiet hours

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer

Minister’s Message: How to grow old and not waste your life

At its core, the Bible speaks a great deal about the time allotted for one’s life

Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson appear in “Civil War.” (Promotional photo courtesy A24)
Review: An unexpected battle for empathy in ‘Civil War’

Garland’s new film comments on political and personal divisions through a unique lens of conflict on American soil

What are almost certainly members of the Grönroos family pose in front of their Anchor Point home in this undated photograph courtesy of William Wade Carroll. The cabin was built in about 1903-04 just north of the mouth of the Anchor River.
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story— Part 2

The five-member Grönroos family immigrated from Finland to Alaska in 1903 and 1904

Aurora Bukac is Alice in a rehearsal of Seward High School Theatre Collective’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward in ‘Wonderland’

Seward High School Theatre Collective celebrates resurgence of theater on Eastern Kenai Peninsula

Most Read