Hope that all of you out there in blogland (the American part, at least) had a happy Thanksgiving. For us, today had a deeper meaning: it was our fourth wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary, Shelby! I love you! Here's to many, many more to come.
(No, unlike people who get married on Valentines or New Year's or whatever, we didn't get married on Thanksgiving. But we got married near Thanksgiving; since it's a travelling holiday, the two dates bump into each other every few years.)
Tonight we had the usual Thanksgiving dinner at Shelby's aunt's house, along with a drop-in at my grandparents; we celebrated our anniversary last night with dinner at the Napa Rose. Fine dining on the grounds of the Disneyland Resort might seem like an contradiction in terms, but it's not; the Napa Rose deserves a little wine-and-food note of its own, to be written once I get a chance.
Shelby already wrote about the Beaujolais Nouveau party that her parents held last Thursday night. Fun! Fruity! Some other recent wine-related notes:
The case of Kosta Browne is a little simpler: they just make great Pinot Noir! We met Dave Kosta and Michael Browne at their winery back in 2003 during a trip to Sonoma. Back then, they were still building their reputation (and their winery); now, their reputation is firmly in place, as Wine Spectator has been giving them consistently high ratings including a 95 for their 2003 Sonoma Coast Pinot and a 96 for their 2003 Kanzler Vineyard Pinot, which are both sitting in our wine cellar right now. Hopefully we'll keep our spot on their mailing list for future years, but we're not exactly bulk purchasers, and the frenzy of those swayed by WS rankings is growing ... I'll be very interested to find out what these bottles are like once the time comes for us to get around to them.
|We quietly passed our one-year anniversary in this house last week. Yesterday, another important milestone came and went: our Disneyland Annual Passports expired!
So on Sunday night, we went over to the park to renew. Thanks to Shelby's being an audience member on the Dr. Phil show back in August, renewing for another year was a no-brainer, as the insane gift bag that everybody in the audience received included two annual-pass vouchers! (It was Dr. Phil's first show of the season; I guess that he wanted to impress everyone with a real blowout.)
As you can see, this year's pass incorporates a spiffy 50th-anniversary design.
After renewing our passes, we walked around the park for a little while. Everything's been decorated for Christmas; I'll have to come back to take some nighttime pictures before we're 'blacked out' for the holiday season. At Shelby's request, we rode the ride that everybody loves to hate, "it's a small world". (Going strong for almost forty years now the e.e. cummings-like lack of caps is the official spelling.) At Christmastime, the ride is transformed into "it's a small world holiday" in addition to the old familiar song, the cherubic dolls representing the children of many nations add "Jingle Bells" to their repertoire, and the ride is lavishly decorated for Christmas. It's very well done, but it's a little disconcerting to see the children of India or deepest Africa enthusiastically celebrating Christmas, singing about dashing through the snow.
On the outside, the facade is completely covered with Christmas lights and every fifteen minutes, they play a new-for-this-year (as far as I know) show: a bizarre-yet-highly entertaining video presentation, where they use the entire surface of the ride building as a projection screen for an increasingly-frenetic series of scenes from Disney holiday movies, intercut with flashes of pure color or patterns. It's set to music; no image lasts for more than a few seconds; the building's facade is divided into all kinds of squares, circles, and triangles, and each little shape gets its own unique image. It's totally mesmerizing, and, while it would undercut Disney's family-friendly image to admit it, rock-solid evidence that someone on Disney's imagineering staff spent a lot of time doing hard drugs. (And probably still does.) The little kid in line in front of us stood transfixed, staring slack-jawed at the show while his family moved fifty feet down the line; they came back and tried to prod him into motion, and had to pry him away from the handrail, screaming and crying.
(If you haven't seen the exterior of IASW before, see a picture here and scroll down for links to pictures taken inside the holiday version of the ride.)
Yesterday morning, I woke up at 4:45 so that I could go to work at the polls for our statewide special election. After a brief stop at our local donut shop for a dozen donuts (I asked my mom, who'd worked innumerable elections when I was a kid, if she had any advice, and she said "bring snacks"), I drove off to the Abbott residence in Yorba Linda.
My position for the day was 'Inspector' (versus the more lowly 'Clerk'), which meant that I was in charge of everything that went on at that polling place for the day I'd picked up the election materials the previous Saturday, would drop off the sealed results at a local police station at 9:30 that night, and inbetween was responsible for answering everybody's questions, telling my fellow workers what to do, and handling abnormal situations as they came up during the course of the day.
There wasn't much need for telling my fellow workers what to do, as they both fit snugly in the middle of the typical poll-worker demographic retired women who'd been doing this for years and years. While we had a pretty steady stream of voters throughout the day, things could get pretty slow outside of our rush periods (poll opening, poll closing, lunchtime, and I-just-got-off-of-work time), which left these women plenty of time to compare their various diseases and afflictions and when they ran out of those, their husbands' medical maladies, and then their sons' and daughters'. Woman A had suffered two strokes in the past year or so. Her husband had the tremors had the tremors real bad. Woman B had some kind of bone-wasting disease don't worry, it's under control now! that left her wearing a foot brace and walking with a cane. Her daughter had breast cancer but that was under control, too which left her in better shape than Woman B's indeterminate female relative, who had the liver cancer. Took her right away. Well, better that she went that way than suffered like Woman A's mother, who was fit and spry until the day she died at 94, but who had the dementia "we always said that it was such a shame that she was gone before she was gone".
And so forth. I swear that this went on for about an hour, by the end of which I was inventing imaginary diseases and afflictions for myself in my head, so that I could break into the discussion if need be perhaps I would discuss the gout that bothers me so much on those long cold winter evenings ("the doctors just don't know how to treat it anymore, you know ..."), that time I got scurvy back during the Peninsular Campaign in ought-six ("I still get a twinge whenever I run my tongue over where those teeth used to be, you know ..."), or the case of dropsy I contracted after I was bitten by a tse-tse fly during that stupid, stupid vacation trip we took to the Congo back in '54.
The election itself went pretty smoothly. Our biggest difficulty throughout the day came in talking senior citizens who weren't used to using computers and didn't like computers through the intricacies of using our computerized voting machines. Given that I couldn't touch a voter's voting machine or look at their ballot after they'd started to vote, this called for some adroit psychic powers on my part, trying to figure out exactly what it was that a voter was doing when confronted with statements like "I try to vote yes on this one, but everytime I try, it just jumps backwards to the very first one" stretching what could have been a thirty-second explanation if I just could have looked at the machine into a fifteen-minute melodrama.
Much to my surprise, we only had one person who, upon learning that you don't need to present an ID to vote, made a bitter comment about all those illegal immigrants who'd be coming to the polls. South County is slipping ...
For me, the day's tragedy was in the number of people who brought 'slate' postcards along with them to the polls. You know, the things that have been clogging up your mailbox for weeks paid glossy postcards in which a particular special interest group, through the use of appropriate political imagery and a deceptive title, tries to hook into your ideological leanings and con you into voting YES or NO for their particular proposition of interest.
|Ever stop to wonder about why this special election cost our fair state so much? I'll be that the answer must lie somewhere between this incredible piece of jewelry that each poll worker got (pin soon to be highly collectible, I'm sure) and the big money ($70!) that I was pulling down to be an Inspector ...|
But we watch that other Fox TV show set in Orange County, Arrested Development. Now that Six Feet Under has ended and The Simpsons has entered into the long twilight years of its decline, AD is, for me, the only thing on TV worth watching. If we had decent TV reception (or I wasn't too cheap to spring for satellite), we'd be watching the third season live right now; as it is, we're working our way through the DVDs of the second season.
I already knew that The OC isn't actually filmed in Orange County (an OC TV crew used the exterior of Shelby's mother's former employer in Rancho Palos Verdes as background material one day, temporarily changing their sign to make them look like a Newport Beach-based travel agent), but between my warm good feelings and fuzzy recall of local geography, I'd always assumed that Arrested Development's waterfront scenes were actually filmed in Balboa or Newport. Nope; those scenes are actually filmed in Marina Del Rey. The bulk of their other outdoor scenes seem to be filmed in Culver City, near their studios. An AD fan site has pictures from a fan's tour of filming locations: Part 1 and Part 2.
Betrayed! But I'll keep watching ...
While I have no problems with dense infill development here in Anaheim better that they build it here than sprawling into what's left of OC's open space, and I can't complain about anything that'll bring more tax revenue to the city without raising our taxes I've got to hope that our city fathers are getting better information than the sketchy tidbits that they've thrown out to the public. The few whizzy computer-rendered eye-in-the-sky movies on the A-Town website (click on the "Tour" link in the navbar) look like they were built inside SimCity. Two legs of the 'triangle' are the 5 and 57 freeways and the interchange where they come together (along with the 22 freeway) is already the 13th most congested in America. What'll happen there once the residents of multiple thirty-five-story residential towers choose drive to work, or all decide to head over to South Coast Plaza?
While out walking the dogs, I've come across some great examples of the housing bubble in action just a few streets over from our house:
We survived our first Halloween here in the house (remember, we moved in a year ago next week). Digory survived his first Halloween with us at first, he was shut up in our bedroom with me, barking and baying each time somebody rang the doorbell, but we later discovered he was perfectly quiet and content in Shelby's room (right next to the front porch), as long as he had a steady supply of pig's ears to chew on.
We had quite the crowd we almost ran out of candy after our first hour, and I ran to the grocery store to buy more. Of course, the rate of visitors fell off immediately after that, but we still had enough people come by that I was able to give away the stuff I didn't like (Runts and Laffy Taffy) while keeping the good stuff (Bottlecaps, Sweettarts, and Nerds) for myself.
Despite that, they must've liked the candy that we handed out, as I was picking empty wrappers off of our front sidewalk this morning.
And while we were impressed with our number of visitors, that was nothing compared to the influx of locusts that the 'heart' of our neighborhood (about a city block NW of our house) got correspondents on the Anaheim Colony mailing list reported 670 trick-or-treaters last night, and expressed thanks that they didn't live one block over, where the crowds were even heavier. Yikes! Let's give thanks that our little island was (relatively) overlooked ...
This weekend Shelby and I were walking through Downtown Disney (the shopping arcade adjacent to Disneyland) with Shelby's parents to find that Anne Geddes had just opened her brand-new flagship AG store there. We didn't go in, but just looking through the windows reminded me of just how bone-chillingly shiveringly creepy I find the body of Anne Geddes' work. The newborn babies shoved into twee costumes, the unnatural stilness of all the children, the contorted postures that either took hours of studio time or ten minutes of tranquilizers (and a copy of Photoshop) to achieve it's a 'celebration of life' that's so . . . not.
She's managed to top the brrrrrrrr factor of her photographs with even worse additions to her product line, however the entrance to her store is lined with these dolls. Is there anyone who can look at these pictures and not think "forest of dead babies!"?
(Some notes on the dogs ...)
Whoops -- it's been so long since I've written anything for my blog that the front page went blank with the steady passage of time (thanks to the automatic site rebuilds triggered by blog spammers leaving their comments about mortgages, Viagra, and porn). So I'd better finish up this half-written post I've had sitting around for a while, so that visitors will have something to contemplate besides the void.
|The corner of our coffee table.||One of our couch cushions.|
Now we have a new 'stretchy Beagle' (it has a long elastic band stitched into its floppy middle, so that it stretches during tug-of-war), and Digory is as happy as, well, a dog with a new toy. Digory goes absolutely ape over any toy you have to offer throw it, and I'll chase it! Just hold it there, and I'll play tug-of-war! If nobody else wants to play, he'll just grab a toy and run around the house with it on his own, occasionally throwing it up in the air to 'break' its 'neck'.
Scout has a much more standoffish relationship with toys. Sometimes she'll pick one up, frisky and ready to play. Other times, she'll drag a toy off to her lair so that she can hunker over it, growling at Digory if he comes close enough to take it away (which leaves Digory completely unfazed: he'll dart in and snatch the toy away, leaving Scout with a "what just happened there?" look). Mysteriously, when she does decide to play, Scout is much more tenacious with me than with Digory; in tug-of-war games with me, she tries to win, while with Digory, it just takes a few hard tugs before he trots off with his prize.
(And to finish, a random local pet food emporium recommendation: Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply, near the corner of N. Lemon & La Palma -- not only do you get the warm fuzzy of buying from a local business, they're generally cheaper than the nearby Petsmart behemoth.)