Unhinged Alaska: Holiday preps and mild chaos

The days orbiting Thanksgiving are usually as quiet as a puppy’s snore in our little patch of paradise. The only sounds drifting through our cabin are some soft instrumental jazz and the tinkling of ornaments as my wife prepares to decorate for the holidays.

She is a master at turning our log home into a wonderland so cool that Santa leaves her cookies and milk.

My job is to primarily stay out of the way and let her create her latest masterpieces from the kickoff turkey-n-things feast to a Christmas tree so stunning that it seems to glow without its lights plugged in.

I am not without responsibilities of course.

I contribute to the massive project by denoting any anomalies in the ornament layout of the tree such as crookedness, proper visibility and balancing in the lighting all while trying to keep up with football games with the mute button engaged.

Before some of you start with the gnarly snarks, chill. It is 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 themes and décor didn’t quite match mine. Hers could be classified as beautiful artistic innovations of a holiday theme. Mine? Even Mom and Dad considered my early attempts at adornment layouts as being deeply influenced by multihued landfills.

Back in the day, I was banned from getting anywhere near a tree with a hand full of tinsel. My idea of distributing the silvery strings was to fade back and launch a high pass on the theory that the tinsel would separate evenly then serenely float down to cover the green limbs in a glowing veneer and I could get back to a raging snowball fight outside.

The resultant glob hanging from the angle’s wing did not impress either parent so I was relegated to holiday litter patrol and snow shovel engineer much to the glee of my E-vile snitch empowered sister.

My festive season skills and responsibilities haven’t change much since then.

Last week, just as we were settling in from a sojourn north to complete my bride’s culinary requirements list and do a little pre-sales reconnaissance, Willie came roaring into the driveway in his latest version of an antique Tijuana taxi crossbred with a severely damaged Baja off road racer.

Turk was riding shotgun and was so pale I thought for a moment I could see through him. I figured he was either stone sick or had just experienced another out of body experience with Willie behind the wheel.

It turned out to be the latter.

As Turk stumbled around the yard trying to re establish his sense of balance and thwart feelings of pending doom, Willie jabbered at us like a seriously over caffeinated protester who couldn’t remember the cause of the day but kept babbling because cameras were rolling.

When he finally wound down to the stage of semi steamed and able to speak in tempered sentences, he confessed our “kinda” organic turkey experiment was history.

He and Turk had just returned from a backcountry off the wall ride trying to track down our communal bird that was suppose to have been the centerpiece for this upcoming Thanksgiving banquet.

‘Twas not to be.

It seems that the aviary Willie built took wing along with our main course when a wicked wind storm hurtled through the area leveling W’s wood shed along with the coop.

Just after Turk arrived to see if they could play a bit of Pick Up Sticks and piece the shed back together, W spotted the turkey when it gobbled and ruffled its wings. It was perched about 100 yards away in some alders on the edge of ravine. They should have it left it there.

Turk wanted to off the bird with his rifle but Willie wanted to get closer so they fired up his personally customized all terrain beater and launched.

I won’t go into what happened next because this column would turn into a novelette and highly annoy the editor. So let’s just say the great cross country hunting safari ended up with Willie driving a three and a half wheeler with no operable shocks and a passenger mumbling something about paybacks that may or may not have included neutering.

As for the turkey, Turk figures it’s still headed south and should be half way through Canada the way it was moving when W’s thunderous beast spitting parts and smoke was on its tail.

As for the intrepid hunters, the pursuit ended abruptly when rig’s engine died from a lack of gas leaving them with a six mile slog back and Turk in a mood that would’ve scared the bejeezus out of the grim reaper.

As for Thanksgiving dinner, the four of us will be enjoying a toasty tom with all of the trimmings because my wife is both an excellent hunter and gatherer.

She harvested enough while foraging in the market to nail a free 20-pound gobbler so we are set for the big day although I’m a bit worried about Willie.

The way Turk was glowering at him before they left, W may be enjoying his meal through a straw.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

More in Life

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: October is here again

The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder.

This John E. Thwaites photo shows the S.S. Dora near Sand Point, Alaska. Thwaites sailed as mail clerk on the Dora between at least 1905 and 1912. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 2

The S.S. Dora touched lives on and became part of the history of the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska.

Steller Sea Lions can be seen in an enclosure at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska SeaLife Center to Alaskans: We’re still here for you

You rallied and kept us alive. Today, we’re writing to say thank you.

A wood-carved whale hangs in the Nikiski Senior Center on Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Nikiski Senior Center)
Whale of a job

Nikiski Senior Center gets addition to dining room.

Tomato soup with grilled cheese. (Photo by Tressa Dale)
On the strawberry patch: The comfort of tomato soup

When I was very young, my mother would make me tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on days when I was feeling down.