No Movie, No Chinese Food

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

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

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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

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

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

IMG_0700 rain on the roof

The TV was on in the family room as the noon news began. The lead story&#185:

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!

&#185 – Yeah, I know. This entry’s title says “lede”, but this sentence says “lead.” There’s no explanation. It just is!