Monday, December 23, 2013

Little December Showers

Started off a very wet morning with a couple of animated specials. The Bear family is looking forward to a grand holiday in The Bernstein Bears' Christmas Tree. Papa wants to take the cubs to chop down a tree in the wilderness. Not only do the trees they choose house animals, but a snowstorm in the mountains makes their search even more difficult. When they come down to the valley, they're dismayed to discover that the local tree lot has sold out...but the animals whose homes they spared have a surprise waiting for them when they get back home.

Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales is an animated anthology of three original Looney Tunes holiday tales. The first story is a very condensed version of A Christmas Carol, with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, Bugs as Nephew Fred, Porky as Bob Cratchit, and Tweety as Tiny Tim. The second gives us some snow-in-the-desert antics with Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner as the "Supah Genius" tries to catch his Christmas dinner. Bugs returns for the third with his little nephew Clyde in tow, as the two await Santa. Neither of them are expecting Santa to be a Tasmanian Devil dressed in Santa's red suit and hoping to eat the two rabbits out of house, home, and presents.

A Walt Disney Christmas is a collection of popular Disney winter and Christmas themed theatrical shorts. Santa prepares for the big day and delivers toys in the Silly Symphonies "The Night Before Christmas" and "Santa's Workshop." Donald and his nephews start a snow war that gets out of hand in "Donald's Snow Fight." Two Victorian lovers have an adventure while skating in "Once Upon a Wintertime." Mickey finds himself and Pluto dealing with two unannounced house guests who wreck havoc on their holiday in "Pluto's Christmas Tree."

I called Mom during the cartoons. She was finishing up the last of her own baking. She made seven kinds of cookies this year, and like me, will be giving them away. Her favorite seems to be a shortbread recipe she got out of her old Betty Crocker cookbook that's so melt-in-your-mouth, she can only eat one a day...or she'll eat them all in one sitting. We discussed the football games yesterday (Mom is also a fan of the Redskins - they just barely lost to the Cowboys by one point, 24-23), the shopping she still has to do (Dad is very hard to shop for, which is why I usually just give him and Mom cookies), and the gifts I've received from my friends. She and Dad are absolutely coming up for Rose's Christmas Day brunch; Anny may join us, too.

It was still raining when I got off the phone with Mom. I still walked to the laundromat. There wasn't anything I could do about it. I don't have time to do the laundry any day but today. Despite the weather, the laundromat was really busy. I just barely got a washer, and it was one of the more expensive ones. I had an easier time getting a drier. There were people here, there, and everywhere. I guess I wasn't the only one who couldn't do their laundry any day but today. Thankfully, I didn't have a big load this time, and I picked a drier that worked. I was in and out in less than an hour.

When I got home, I put the laundry away as quickly as I could. Three shirts and one pair of socks had gotten damp walking home in the rain, but it could have been worse. At least I didn't have to hang up my whole load this time.

Ran The Bishop's Wife as I had leftovers for lunch, and later as I made Pumpkin Bread, the very last thing I have to bake. As with the Cranberry-Orange Bread, it's for Rose's Christmas Day brunch party. It came out beautifully, perfectly moist, and the apartment smelled great.

The wife in question in The Bishop's Wife is Julia (Loretta Young), who feels neglected while her husband (David Niven) tries to convince a rich older woman (Gladys Cooper) to fund a huge new cathedral that'll replace the rundown old parish. The bishop doesn't know what to think when an angel named Dudley (Cary Grant) appears in response to his prayers for guidance. Dudley proceeds to charm Julia, their daughter Debbie, their housemaid (Elsa Lancaster), their friend the Professor (Monty Wooley), and just about everyone around them. When the Bishop worries that Dudley may be trying to take Julia away, he finally begins to understand how much his gentle wife and child mean to him.

A lovely story with a fine cast. Both men do well as the frustrated bishop and suave angel, and Young is simply luminous as Julia. I haven't seen the remake The Preacher's Wife, but that also has a good cast, with Denzel Washington as Dudley, Don Cheadle as the bishop, and Whitney Houston as Julia. The original is gentle family fare or for nostalgic adults looking for something cozy to watch on Christmas Eve.

Did a few more cartoons as I got ready for work. Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey tells the tale of a little donkey with very long ears who is made fun of by everyone in the barnyard...until he's chosen by Joseph and Mary to take them on that fateful ride to Bethlehem. "Toy Tinkers" is a classic (and rather violent for Disney) Donald-Chip and Dale battle. Here, they're having a holiday war over Donald's bowls of nuts and candy.

Work, surprisingly, was only really crazy during rush hour. Otherwise, it was the same as yesterday, steady but not overwhelming. My relief was on time, and I was in and out with no problems. Even the weather cooperated. Both times, it was showering lightly when I left, but by the time I got where I was going, the rain had stopped.

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