Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: The Neanderthal and the procrastinator

On the eve of Christmas Eve, I received an annual phone call from a great friend.

On the eve of Christmas Eve, I received an annual phone call from a great friend, but mildly eccentric, vet buddy who dwells in the hinterlands of scarcely populated state where snow has the propensity to arrive in the form of airborne avalanches. Such inundations always seem to catch him by surprise and this time around, it launched him into orbit.

He burned serious minutes harping about how long it took to find and extricate his new hybrid from a snow berm the size of a beached blue whale only to discover his eco-ride frozen solid.

I haven’t heard him so jacked up since he discovered that his costly bottled water originated in the headwaters of a city water tap somewhere in Moot Point, Arkansas.

When his tirade eased off, he mumbled that it gets so frosty working outdoors that he’s afraid to bump into anything lest several of his extremely vital lower appendages shatter and abruptly terminate his chance of expanding the family’s lineage.

I offered my sympathies but said that I was a bit confused as to why he called because of a few feet of snow and a wounded wimp-mobile.

“A few feet of *&^%$#* snow?” He fumed. “I’m standing on my *&&^%$% roof to get a cell signal.”

“My, my, Mr. Church Elder, I’ll bet you don’t throw around expletives like that during your council meetings.”

“I apologize for stepping in it, but we’ve had this type of discussion before and I’m flat embarrassed to say that I forgot what you told me a couple of years ago when a storm buried our house.”

“I suggested that you gingerly stuff some hot packs into your Jockeys and stand around until you could sit down without snapping off any vital parts of your nether region and then make a call to set up reservations for a snorkeling safari in Fiji. That’s what I’d do but, as of now, I don’t see that happening. It was pretty mellow up here until we got hit with around two inches of snow last night.”

“What the #^+^?”

“Yep, and there may be another inch to come. Weird, huh? Just yesterday, we were giving some consideration to mowing the lawn because of the forty-degree weather.”

His incomprehensible response was something resembling a wolf being goosed mid howl.

“Yep, the conditions have been so mild that feral pheasant roosters are convinced that it’s spring and have been zipping around the deck challenging each other like they just pounded a gizzard sized serving of Viagra. It’s unseemly and an embarrassment to the male species.”

“If they keep up their randy shenanigans, they are going to be invited to the Super Bowl as diced hors d’oeuvres accompanying the cherrywood smoked salmon and stuffed mushrooms.”

“Sounds beyond delicious, wait…what do you mean plus forty degrees and horn- dog pheasants? Are you hammered? What’s going on up there?”

“Well, it has been somewhat lukewarm and wet for the last few months, although we did experience a small quantity of snow that stayed around long enough for some rigs to install plows big enough to clear major mountain passes. Why don’t you beat feet to the beach house your grandpa left you in Key West until your dream rig thaws out enough that you can at least activate its rotisserie option?”

“You know, you haven’t been much help. My wife was right. She said I wouldn’t get a straight answer out of you because you’re a Neanderthal and have the sophistication of an uneducated peasant when it comes to dealing with crucial issues.”

“Oh, come on now, I suggested the hot packs and you had plenty of warnings about what was headed your way. Why didn’t you have your wheels in the garage along with your bride’s vehicle?”

“She doesn’t have a car.”

“I was talking about her broom.”


I admit the conversation could have gone a bit smoother but my friend is the consummate procrastinator and invariably waits to track down his snowblower until his equipment shed is an outline in a snowdrift.

The man has lived in the same place for 11 years but always seems dumbfounded when Mother Nature suddenly whacks him with a mass of white so deep that he has to let his dogs out their second story window to pee.

Today, I called him back to wish him a forthcoming Happy New Year and advise him that the Weather Channel was declaring that his area should prepare for blizzard conditions including two to three feet of more snow.

Once we exchanged New Year wishes and he finally grasped the meaning of my warning, I detected a gurgle like someone was choking on a mouthful of lutefisk and then a muffled, background, argument about heading for Key West just before the phone went dead.

Next March, I’ll try to call him on his birthday. Hopefully, if his wife answers, she will have used the Rosetta Stone program I just sent her. Speaking Neanderthal is not that hard to learn.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t chasing libidinous roosters around the back forty again.

More in Life

Minister’s Message: Keep your faith focused on Jesus

Don’t let fear make you slip from faith

Hip-Hop students practice their routines for Forever Christmas on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, at Forever Dance in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Forever Dance rings in the holidays with variety show

The show serves as a fun holiday tradition and an opportunity to get on stage early in the season

Image courtesy 20th Century 
Ralph Fiennes is Chef Julien Slowik and Anya Taylor-Joy is Margot in “The Menu”
On the Screen: ‘The Menu’ serves up fun twists and earnest commentary

I was plenty interested in the film I saw in the trailers, but the one I saw at the theater was so much more

Golden Soup mixes cauliflower, onions and apples and can be made in one pot. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Golden soup offers a healthy reprieve after holiday indulgence

On the off days between the trips and celebrations I find it necessary to eat strategically

Photo courtesy of the National Archives 
This photo and information from a “prison book” at San Quentin state prison in California shows Arthur Vernon Watson when he entered the prison at age 23.
Justice wasn’t elementary, Watson, Part 2

Well before he shot and killed a man in Soldotna in 1961, Arthur Vernon Watson was considered trouble

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Thanksgiving

We at least have a good idea of what our political future looks like.

This is Arthur Vernon Watson at age 39, when he was transferred from the federal prison in Atlanta to the penitentiary on Alcatraz Island near San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)
Justice wasn’t elementary, Watson, Part 3

Anchorage probation officer Roy V. Norquist was monitoring Arthur’s movements and reported that he was pleased with what he saw

Cranberry sauce made from scratch with hand-picked berries makes a special holiday treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Foraging with love and gratitude

Gathered and prepared by hand, cranberries brighten a Thanksgiving feast

Minister’s Message: When the going gets tough…

Suffering as a Christian is not always a popular preaching topic.

Most Read