Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

 

No Movie, No Chinese Food

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

stef-before-and-after

No one was surprised as we when our Irvine cousins gave us all Disneyland annual passes! Before they could change their minds, we joined them yesterday at the happiest place on Earth.

If you think Disneyland is crowded on Christmas Day when the sun is shining and the temperature is in the low 80s (record high), you’re right. And when I say crowded, I mean Tokyo subway crowded. Sardine can crowded!

We dropped Doppler off at the sitter, left Roxie to her own devices (good doggie) and headed north to Anaheim. It’s under 25 minutes from here.

“This is where they want you to get off,” said Michael, as we passed the official Disney exit on the “5.” Local knowledge is good.

Garage, tram, in! That was easy. We took a curbside spot on Main Street for the afternoon Christmas parade.

Disneyland is nearly sixty years old, but everything is bright, shiny and incredibly well maintained. And, obviously, they’ve learned a lot about organization over that time.

The parade was colorful. Perfectly picturesque. The human participants even lip synced to the music through their permasmiles.

Unfortunately for Stef, the parade was reinforcement of her biggest Disney disappointment. Piglet, her favorite character, is an in-person persona non grata. When asked, no Disney castmember we asked had ever even seen Piglet.

Contract dispute? Payback for some perceived slight? We’ll never know.

We stayed a full day, but only rode four rides. Wait times were nuts.

It’s A Small World (which I originally saw at the New York World’s Fair in 1964) had been closed in preparation for its Christmas changeover. It was worth it. The ride, which was feeling old and faded, has been refreshed. The Haunted Mansion has also been overhauled for the holidays, though not as thoroughly. Paul Frees iconic voice no longer does the narration. That’s the kind of thing I notice.

We also hit a Winnie the Pooh ride and Cars Land in Radiator Springs. We entered the ‘singles’ line for that one, meaning we were used as extras to fill rows, cutting the advertised wait by more than half.

We’ve got passes. We’ll be back. And it’s oh so close.

Christmas In California

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

christmas-in-californiaWe received some great gifts when we got married thirty years ago. Most are long gone. Some were quickly spent. At least one gift lives on.

Bob and Terry were our friends from Buffalo. They gave us the artwork that hangs today over the Christmas tree. It’s called “Christmas in California.”

In Hamden it hung prominently above the fireplace. Here in SoCal it’s in the loft, our family meeting space.

It represented a goal… or maybe a fantasy. This year it’s come true. We spend our first Christmas in California tomorrow.

I miss wearing my red hat and tracking Santa on TV. I miss working so others could have this holiday at home with their families. I don’t miss winter.

Christmas in California is just as the picture shows.

We’ll be spending this evening with our cousins, then living the tradition of a movie and Chinese food tomorrow.

Have a great holiday. I hope you get everything you want.

No Place Like Home

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

IMAG0351-w1400-h1400

Stef and Roxie just arrived. Our little family is together in the OC for a few days.

Even if you didn’t know Stef was expected, you’d know something was up based on the state of the kitchen this afternoon. Every pot was out. The sink was full. The aroma of fresh food was everywhere.

Homemade soup tonight. Pasta with a homemade sauce too. This is the good life.

We brought homemade cookies to our neighbors yesterday. Today they reciprocated. No wonder people complain about Christmas weight gain.

I was skinny when Helaine and I first met. Consider me living proof of her expertise in the kitchen.

Last year was tumultuous for us, culminating in a 2600+ mile move. Things have started to calm down. Home cooking and baking are signs of stability.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Friday, December 20th, 2013

There’s a hundred plus year old tradition at Newport Beach. Every year around Christmastime, dozens of brightly decorated boats cruise through Newport Harbor. Some are over-the-top!

Because Max is in the Sea Scouts, we joined our cousins at the Newport Beach Sea Base. They have a great location, on an inlet with Lido Island across the way.

There was lots of pre-parade traffic on the roads and inlet. PCH was jammed. On the water, lots of people were out for dinner and a cruise on huge multi-decked boats that could almost be called ships. Smaller boats darted back and forth.

Yes, we wore coats and gloves! Doppler came in her pink hooded sweater. My cousins supplied blankets. I had ear muffs, but they stayed pocketed.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There might not be anything quite like it! Dozens of boats, some very large, passing through the channel. All were lit up like (and decorated with) Christmas trees.

If you’re planning on being in SoCal, it runs Saturday and Sunday evening. It’s very cool.

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Darlene Love Alert

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Late Show with David Letterman Guests   CBS.comThis Friday marks David Letterman’s annual Christmas show, always featuring Darlene Love singing “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.” I wait for this performance every year. Last year, as the grateful guest of Matt Scott, I watched Darlene perform it live!

There is a formula followed year-after-year, which is why I’m currently worried.

First there’s Jay Thomas. He tells the story of the Lone Ranger at a car dealership. Then a guest with something to promote comes on. Last year the beautiful, but cold as a fish, Naomi Watts. Then (after an interminable production stop while the studio gets reconfigured) Darlene, full orchestra with strings and a choir.

I checked this year’s lineup. John McEnroe, Kristen Wiig, Darlene. No Jay Thomas!

Uh, oh. This isn’t good. I’ll keep my ear to the tracks to find out what’s happened, kimosabee.

Note: See the comments for more on Jay’s absence.

We’ve Got The Lede: It’s Raining

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

IMG_0700 rain on the roof

The TV was on in the family room as the noon news began. The lead story¹:

Rain!

How much?

Will it be gone by Christmas?

To an outsider this might seem a little overboard… maybe to insiders too. My suspicion is it’s a much more valid lead than first meets the eye.

Let me dismiss the hyperbole first. It’s the 19th. This storm will be a faint memory by Christmas. Has California ever even seen a storm lasting six days over one spot?

Rain does have an impact here. Because it rains so infrequently, roads often have a light surface coating of oil and grease. Roads get slippery in a hurry. Freeway traffic which normally buzzes by in the 70s has to slow down.

During our last ‘storm’ the embankment adjacent to a freeway in the San Fernando Valley gave way, flooding the road and blocking traffic for most of the day.

When it comes to rain, Southlanders (is that an actual word?) are fragile flowers. Rain storms do impact them.

Anywhere else this rain wouldn’t be a concern. But this isn’t anywhere else. In SoCal we’re just not used to weather!

¹ – Yeah, I know. This entry’s title says “lede”, but this sentence says “lead.” There’s no explanation. It just is!

The Movie We Didn’t See Tonight

Friday, December 13th, 2013

IMAG0327-w1400-h1400This story needs a setup. It is tradition with the Foxes and many other Jewish families, Christmas Day is spent at the movies followed by Chinese food. Go back in the blog to any December 25th entry and you’ll read about a movie and a meal!

This year, since we’re close to Stef, it’s likely she’ll join us. Neither Helaine, Stef nor I agree on which movie we should see.

OK. You’re caught up. The story continues…

Stef called this afternoon. Did I still want to see “Saving Mr. Banks,” with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson?

I knew I wanted to see this movie as soon as I watched the trailer. Hanks. Disney. Nostalgia. Hooked!

Stef wanted Helaine and me go. Goodness of her heart? Not tonight. Going removes one choice for Christmas.

“Mr. Banks” opens ‘wide’ next week, but Orange, CA (not far) is among the “selected cities” showing it now. Normally a 25 minute trip, Google suggested a back way which would take 28 minutes. The usual route, 45!

Christmas shopping I suppose. That and Kanye West playing at the Honda Center in Anaheim, under a mile from the theater.

We occupied Doppler with a treat and snuck out through the garage. By the time we were on our way, Google had changed its preferred route. We were still skipping the major roads. Still saving time.

The parking lot was jammed. I dropped Helaine at the box office and looked for an open space.

She was first in line when I caught up with her, but the news wasn’t good. “It’s not playing here,” she said.

Stef and then her father had searched correctly for the movie, but didn’t look closely enough at the result. When the movie wasn’t available tonight, Fandango just offered up the next showtime: December 20! The date was on the page, but I was expecting tonight’s movies, Fandango.

We ended up at Costco.

The Christmas Tree

Monday, December 9th, 2013

IMG_0283We have a Christmas tree. Just saying that sounds weird.

My sister disapproved.

My parents will disapprove when they read this.

I’m Jewish. We’re Jewish. Christmas isn’t our holiday. And yet, over the course of the year, there’s no more good spirited time than Christmas.

IMAG0302-w1400-h1400Christmas is unavoidable. And who wouldn’t want to embrace its warm, family oriented feel? So, after a quarter century of kvetching from my wife and daughter, I acquiesced.

Stef has given me permission to make her the heavy here.

“Write you did it because of me,” she said.

I did it because of Stef.

IMAG0304-w1400-h1400We drove to Johnson Brothers Christmas Tree Lot on Jeffrey Road. We were foreigners in a foreign land.

“We’ve never had a tree before,” Helaine told the guy helping us. “We’re Jewish,” she added¹.

I don’t think he had a snappy retort for that.

Helaine and Stef figured a five footer would be enough. One called out to me. It was five foot six. A noble fir.

“Too wide,” Stef said, but it was too late. Decision of the father is final. And, as it turned out, it fits just fine upstairs in the loft.

There’s an ornament for each of us and some small, white lights. We’re not going nuts.

To my Christian friends, thanks for letting us participate.

To my Jewish friends, cut us some slack.

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¹ – We had a coupon. We didn’t pay retail. Some things are sacred.

As The Models Turn

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

What was the phrase yesterday? Carved in chocolate pudding? That’s how these winter storms are always modeled. I recognize the Christmas Eve system from yesterday, but it’s not quite the same.

The 00z NAM is in. The 00z GFS is dribbling out, one three hour step at a time.

The NAM looks perfect if you’re dreaming of a… Just enough snow for Christmas morning without being a major pain!

Alas, I never depend on the NAM.

The 00z GFS is a little warmer. The 850mb 0°c line is right on the Connecticut shore. The NAM places it south of Long Island.

85mb 0°c (around 5,000 feet) is a good benchmark for the rain/snow line. That’s why it’s looked at

The Euro won’t be in for a while, but looking back at the 12z run it’s cold enough for snow, but there’s not enough to register on the maps I’m using which have an inch per three hour threshold.

So, where does this leave us? No forecast is ever 100%, but I’ll stick with yesterday’s call with some minor tweaks.

The precipitation arrives late Christmas Eve. It should be all snow inland with a few mixed periods on the shoreline.

Don’t expect much, maybe a few inches!

Don’t expect a long duration. The snow ends Christmas morning.

Oh… and that storm later in the week now looks like rain.

That’s the forecast from a guy in pajamas.

Thanks For Christmas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The Fox Family enjoys Christmas though it’s not our holiday.

Jews may have elevated Channukah to fill the gap, but it’s not the same. Christmas is “the” holiday bar none!

You probably don’t know what it’s like to watch Christmas from the outside. It was tough growing up. All the imagery depicts Christmas. It’s on every commercial, every show, every website.

Over the years we’ve come to embrace it. There’s a good feeling this time-of-year. Thanks for letting us enjoy it with you.

People claim there’s a “War on Christmas.” Seriously?

We have no tree. I could never take that step. We have stockings. Don’t ask.

SoCal Stefanie is coming home early Thursday after an overnight in-the-air. We’ve been out there, but it’s nearly two years since she was last in Connecticut.

Stef, it’s all where you left it.

Helaine and I went out a few nights ago looking at Christmas lights. Nice. Nothing too much. Nothing over-the-top.

There were some homes with minimal outdoor lighting but beautiful holiday decorating inside. Very nice.

Helaine is done with illuminated reindeer. For me it’s faux icicles.

When we first moved here there was a man in the southern end of Cheshire who had a huge yard full of lights and displays at Christmas. It was crazy! The traffic was crazy! I’m sure the neighbors tired quickly. No more.

I will be working Christmas Eve. That’s the right thing to do.

I’m going to track Santa. At one point I was worried I wouldn’t have the chance.

I’m looking forward to Christmas.