Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Favorite Cary Grant Movies

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love old movies.  My favorite ones tend to be light and funny.  When I watch a movie, I want to feel happy!  This list is for my niece, Kelly.  She and I have watched some great old movies together over the years, but I was surprised today to find out how many of my favorite Cary Grant movies she's missed.  Cary is definitely one of my favorite actors.  I tend to like his lighthearted, comedy-romance movies best.  I have watched all of these many times.  Here are some of the best, in no particular order.  The descriptions are from Google.

My TOP Favorites

The Philadelphia Story 

This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her overly demanding nature. As Tracy prepares to wed the wealthy George Kittredge (John Howard), she crosses paths with both Dexter and prying reporter Macaulay Connor (James Stewart). Unclear about her feelings for all three men, Tracy must decide whom she truly loves.

The Awful Truth 

 Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy (Irene Dunne) are a married couple who doubt each other's fidelity: Jerry suspects Lucy and her music teacher (Alexander D'Arcy) of spending an evening together, and Lucy is convinced Jerry lied about a business trip. When the jealous pair file for divorce, both rush into new relationships, but quickly realize their love never died. The soon-to-be-divorced husband and wife then both scramble to spoil each other's chances for newfound romance.

My Favorite Wife

 After his wife, Ellen (Irene Dunne), disappears at sea, Nick Arden (Cary Grant) waits seven long years before finally marrying the lovely Bianca (Gail Patrick). As luck would have it, Ellen suddenly reappears in Nick's life during his honeymoon with Bianca and informs him that she's been shipwrecked on a desert island. Nick is overjoyed to see her, but becomes insane with jealousy when he learns of her only island companion -- the handsome Stephen Burkett (Randolph Scott).

The Bishop's Wife

 Dejected by his efforts to raise money to build a cathedral, Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) beseeches heaven for guidance, and is visited immediately by Dudley (Cary Grant), who claims to be an angel. Henry is skeptical, then annoyed when Dudley ingratiates himself into the household as his assistant -- and worse, wins the attentions of Henry's long-suffering and kindly wife (Loretta Young). When Dudley continues to intervene in Henry's struggles, the bishop decides to challenge heaven.


 George (Cary Grant) and Marion Kerby (Constance Bennett) are a young, happy-go-lucky couple who love to party. But after a car accident kills them both, they discover that they haven't done enough good deeds to earn a trip to heaven. To remedy this problem, they decide to help their old uptight boss, Cosmo Topper (Roland Young), live a little. While Topper begins to take their ghostly advice and enjoy life for a change, his controlling wife finds her husband's laid-back behavior infuriating.

Constance Bennet reminds me so much of Kelly's daughter, Eiligh! 


 Famous theater actress Anna Kalman (Ingrid Bergman) has resigned herself to her single life, believing that she has missed her chance at meeting a husband. Weary of socializing in Europe, she returns to her London flat, where her sister Margaret (Phyllis Calvert) and diplomat brother-in-law Alfred (Cecil Parker) invite her to a banquet. She demurs until Alfred's banker friend, Philip Adams (Cary Grant), arrives and a flirtation begins. Their romance blossoms -- but he's already married.

That Touch of Mink

 Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day) is en route to a job interview when a car transporting businessman Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) covers her in mud. He sends his assistant, Roger (Gig Young), to apologize, but upon meeting Cathy, Roger knows that she would be a suitable match for his boss. Despite their mutual attraction, Cathy and Philip want different things. Philip wants a fling, while Cathy wants a marriage. As they travel to exotic locales, their differing motivations are put to the test.

His Girl Friday

When hard-charging New York newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) discovers that his ex-wife, investigative reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), has gotten engaged to milquetoast insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), he unsuccessfully tries to lure her away from tame domestic life with a story about the impending execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams. But when Hildy discovers Williams may be innocent, her reporter instincts take over.

These are fun, too -

In Name Only
Every Girl Should Be Married
Arsenic and Old Lace
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer

Also noteworthy, because Rudy enjoyed them -

Bringing Up Baby
Monkey Business

More Cary Grant Classics

These are also very good.  They should be seen at least once.  Many of them are the more suspenseful movies he made with Hitchcock.  Excellent movies.
To Catch a Thief
North by Northwest
An Affair to Remember
Father Goose
Operation Petticoat

This is not a complete list of his movies.  There are plenty others, including some people may be surprised not to see here.  I recommend Googling Cary Grant to see more.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Freaky Widow Statistics and Building a Tribe

I just read an interesting article  geared to widows.  The article led with some statistics I find mind boggling.  According to the US Census, half of women over the age of 65 are widows.    HALF?  Are you kidding me?    Also significant, only 8% of widows in the 55 to 64 age range remarry.  Only 2% widowed over the age of 65 remarry.  Those stats set the stage for the main point of the article.  Widows of a certain age may not find romance, but we can still have a good life.

The article didn't focus on widows lamenting the loss of romance.  Instead, it talked about how many widows were instead finding incredible new interests and having loads of fun with friends.  There is a trend for widows to band together and have loads of fun.  They travel together.  Sometimes they share housing or live close by so that they can watch out for each other.  The article called them tribes of widows.  I like that!  It's usually a group of at least 3 or 4 good friends with a "shared sense of loss that often only other widows can understand."

Many widows don't even want to remarry.  I'm well aware of that point of view from reading so many widow blogs. They had a wonderful life with their husbands and since finding anyone half as good is next to impossible, they made the most of the freedom of living on their own.  One widow in the article made an interesting point, saying, "Marriage is a much better deal for men." That made me laugh.

You may be wondering how I feel about this whole subject on a more personal note...   Frankly, I can't even imagine dating and going through that whole tedious process.   I may find some fellows to hang out with as friends, but it seems pointless for me to worry about dating and possibly remarrying.  I'm not ruling it out (I've learned to never say never), but I'm not going to spend any energy being concerned or sad about it.

Instead, I think I'll focus on building my tribe and finding fun things to do, just like the article describes.  I really like that idea.  There's no reason this next chapter has to be dull.  I think with time, I will likely come to appreciate the benefits of living on my own.  There are pros and cons in any situation and since I'm now living on my own, I might as well figure out what makes that a good thing.  You know the drill - If life gives you lemons, make lemonade...

I would even welcome widowers to my tribe (as friends).  Ladies are much better at dealing with loneliness.  We band together with friends to get through it.  Widowers usually get scooped up (really fast - within the first year!) by single ladies bearing casseroles.   I wouldn't win any points for my casseroles, so  if I were trying to catch some vulnerable widower, this strategy would never work for me.    If guys don't choose to remarry, they often stay by themselves a bit more than is healthy.  They, too, could benefit from being part of a tribe.

You know, as I think on it, I already belong to a number of different tribes.  I get together with friends from high school and college, teacher friends, neighbors, family... I could stay really busy.  And yet, most of my friends are married.  I clearly need one more tribe - a tribe of widows.  The thing is, this is a tribe I don't wish any of my current friends to join.  I hope they won't be widowed for a long, long time.

I have so much fun with the friends I have now!
I refuse to end this post on a sad note.  So, here's something more - finding a tribe is just part of the equation. Finding interesting things to do is also important.  There are a number of activities I already do with friends - eating out, seeing shows, and my new fav, hiking...  But I want to expand that list.  I need more.  I just haven't figured out what.

If you see me trying out some odd things in the future, you'll know I'm just experimenting.  Since I no longer care for things I used to like, it seems logical that I might like things I was never interested in before.  Right?

Monday, March 7, 2016

10 Months Without Rudy

Being a widow is different than I expected.  Not that I actually thought I knew what to expect.   I knew being without Rudy would be lonely, but I assumed I would stay busy and muddle through.  Well, it has nothing at all to do with staying busy.  Staying busy is a distraction, but no matter how busy, no matter how many fun things I do, I can't escape the feeling that everything is horribly wrong.

I'm not feeling hopeless. I don't need my friends to swoop in and rescue me.  I suspect there are still good things to come in my life.  I am not bored.  I have plenty to do.  I am not needing or wanting a prescription fix.  I'm resourceful and strong.  I'll build a new life and if that life is on my own, I'll eventually figure out how to make that nice.  But right now, at 10 months, it just sucks.

If you knew Rudy, you'll understand (and probably smile) when I say he often drove me nuts.  What you might not understand is how that's one of the things I miss most.

This is one of the looks Rudy would get on his face when he was about to cause trouble.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Birthday Blues

Rudy would have turned 63 tomorrow.  I have been pondering the upcoming birthday for days.  Just as with all my memories of Rudy, my emotions are mixed, all over the place really.

I have photos of him scattered around the house.  I know they are all there and they mostly make me smile.  A couple of days ago, I found myself focusing on one unexpectedly.  A wave of feeling hit me.  The photo isn't that old.  He looks so healthy.  How could he possibly be gone?  That whole feeling is one I continue to struggle with.

I try to remind myself to focus on how lucky I was to have had him in my life as long as I did.  He was fun.  He took my breath away.  He made me cuss.  He made me laugh.  He was never dull.  I was never bored.  My life feels way too quiet now.  It's hard to get used to.

Rudy wasn't big on birthdays.  I threw him a few parties in our early years.  He finally made me promise not to do that anymore.  The photo below is from 1979.  Obviously, the party was a surprise.  Look how poor Rudy is dressed.  He'd been working all day and was tired and filthy.  Why did I think this was a good idea?  The guy in the white suit was from Eastern Onion.  He delivered a bizarre and embarrassing singing telegram.  I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea, either.  Apparently, I was just full of good ideas back then.  You can't tell from this photo, but there was a pretty good crowd of friends there, as well.

With time the parties ended and so did the whole gift thing.  If Rudy ever needed anything, he preferred to buy it.  He always knew exactly what he needed and wanted.  That worked fine for me, too.   We finally realized neither of us were big on surprises.

There was one thing, though, that Rudy always looked forward to on his birthday.  His sister, Nancy, would make him a birthday cake.  It was always topped with homemade chocolate icing.  The recipe was one that has been passed down through the family.  We know it as Mommy Effie's Chocolate Icing.  Mommy Effie was Rudy's wonderful grandmother.

The icing is a bit persnickety.  It requires the perfect temperature and time.  Humidity comes into play as well.  There's an art to it.  Sometimes, it turns out a bit runny.  Sometimes it hardens too much and is like fudge.  Nancy seems to have a knack for it, but with such variables the iced cake wasn't always photo worthy.  If anything, that made the whole experience more fun.  It never mattered anyway, because regardless of how it looked, it was always incredibly delicious.  There's nothing like homemade!

Nancy would bring the cake over and it would always have a big piece missing from it.  My brother-in-law, Mike, was the official taste tester.  He'd make sure it was good before Nancy packed it up.  I can't believe I never took a photo of one of those cakes.  I didn't realize that those cakes would be at the center of such treasured memories.  There's a lot I didn't realize, actually.

Effie’s Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • pinch salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Combine sugar, cocoa, and salt in iron skillet.
  2. Melt butter.  Add milk.
  3. When it begins to boil, add vanilla.
  4. Stir constantly!  Boil for 2 ½ to 3 minutes.  
  5. Let cool and frost.

Tip –
If it boils too little, it’ll be runny; too long and it’ll turn to fudge.
To test, drip a spoonful on plate.  If it gets hard quickly, it’s done.

UPDATE:  While cleaning out photo folders on my computer, I came across a photo of one of the cakes Nancy made for Rudy.  This is from 2009.


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