November 28, 2007

An night of Irish music at a real pub - in Sacramento

FOX & GOOSE PUBLIK HOUSE, Sacramento, Calif., USA - The Admiral and I passed a pleasant - if all too quick - evening at a local pub last night where local musicians gather to play some Irish music.

The Admiral has attended this gathering a few times and this time I went along to check it out.

Any place where a gorgeous Irish woman bartender smiles and says: What can I git for ya darlin' ? gets my vote.

There was great music, great food, great beer (Harp's, of course) and great company.

I didn't drag along my newest musical acquisition - an eight-string ukulele with a small amplifier. I can't play any Irish tunes yet and I didn't think a rousing chorus of Chuck Berry's My Ding-A-Ling would fit in.

November 23, 2007

Preparing the sailing dinghy for a return to Mexico

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - My much loved - and much-used - sailing dinghy was in the Land Park boatyard & repair shop today, getting fixed so it will be ready to challenge the waters of Tenacatita Bay in only about a month.

The 10-foot craft, nicknamed the Captain's Gig when it was a tender to Sabbatical in our cruising days, was badly banged up on the trip back from Puerto Vallarta two years ago. The damage was sufficient enough that a local fiberglass repair shop told me to simply buy a new hull and forget about repairs.

The manufacturer, however, said that was pure poppycock and that it should be repaired. (Actually, I believe they said it was total bullshit, but did not offer to repair it themselves.)

So today Sabbatical's retired Chief Engineer, Scott Noble, came over with sanders, cutters, vacuums, air compressors and other instruments of mass construction and began the restoration project.

I did a lot of watching, punctuated by mixing up fiberglass to put into the various cracks and crevices through which copious amounts of water most certainly would come in without the repairs.

The whole job will take a few days with the drying time needed for the fiberglass, sanding, and eventually, a coat of paint. Now that I've seen how the Chief Engineer did it, I'll attempt to fix a couple of other areas that are less critical.

When it's done, the repaired Captain's Gig should look like this.

Captain's Gig
A sistership under sail in Puget Sound

In between mixing resin and activator - and handing tools to Scott - I shot the video below:

November 22, 2007

A day of Thanksgiving, even without Manhattans

LAND PARK, Sacramento, Calif., USA - What was looking like an extremely quiet Thanksgiving broke wide open mid-morning with the arrival of son Dylan today - and then nephew Alex Schwartz, shortly thereafter.

The Admiral and I had planned on it being just the two of us - both quite immersed in packing and getting ready for our Mexico sojourn - when Dylan called from his Berkeley digs and said he would like to join the family fete.

And because he is heavy into cycling now, he called his cousin Alex (who lives in Davis, Calif. a half-dozen miles away) so they could do a Turkey Day bicycle ride. Alex could not stay for dinner - he and his lady friend were hosting her father... but we almost talked him into it.

All the years I was growing up in Lakewood, New York, the unmistakeable signal of Thanksgiving was the appearance of pitchers of Manhattan cocktails, concocted by my Uncle, Howie McAvoy. These lethal drinks were sooooo potent that one was plenty, two had you singing Good Night Irene at the top of your lungs and three, well, three usually meant lots of aspirin the next day.

For Howie, more than one meant a reoccurence of his gout.

Everyone in the family had a least a sip of a drink - sometimes more. It was one of the few times of the year that my grandmother would wear a big grin on her face.

Manhattan, served straight up

Howie's recipe was 3 parts blended whiskey, two parts sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and a few drops of Maraschino cherry juice. The ingredients were mixed together in a pitcher, poured over ice, and then poured into a stylish cocktail glass.

What a drink.

I've laid off the things for nearly 20 years, preferring wine. But one of these Thanksgivings, I think I'll break out the bottle of Four Roses whiskey and some sweet vermouth and toast to Uncle Howie and the hundreds of others I have introduced to the McAvoy Manhattan over the years.

Might be worth risking some gout.

Here's today's video episode of the cycling adventures and our modest dinner:

November 21, 2007

Bicycles, violins and ukuleles all in one day

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - In the countdown to Turkey Day, we had Anne, Samantha and Kamryn visit today for lunch and the surprise of the day (maybe month) was the just the day before, Samantha had taken her first solo on her bicycle.

And today she couldn't wait to grab ahold of the bike we keep at our Land Park casa.

After a bit of inflation for both tires, she hopped on and rode back and forth to show off her newfound skill.

I'll bet next summer she doesn't wait around for her Mom to take her to visit friends.

But right after that bit of transportation-related excitement, Admiral Fox and I transited to the studio where our music teacher, Bill Trainor, put us through an hour's worth of lessons on how to make the violin and ukulele sound good together.

It might take more than one hour's worth of lessons.

Still, it was fun and with even the little bit of instruction and suggestions, it looks like we will be able to stand up at open mic night in Mexico at Palapa Joes and not embarrass ourselves.

Not too much anyway.

One issue that arose immediately is that my ukulele just doesn't have the horsepower to play very loud, at least compared to a violin. So tomorrow I will be in search of a new ukulele (possibly an eight-string) that is wired for an amplier. And, of course, that means the purchase of an amplifier, too - a small one, but still - an amp!

Our Mexico-bound travel trailer is starting to fill up quick.

November 15, 2007

A musical day with daughter and two granddaughters

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif., USA - With a pile of student papers to be graded just above my knees - and a 'to-do' list that rivals in number of items on the list Dwight D. Eisenhower had the week preceding June 6, 1944 - I opted to do the only sane thing I could think of today: Go have lunch with daughter Anne and new granddaughter Kamryn Lynn Allen.

Kamryn doesn't talk much yet. OK, she doesn't talk at all. But she can be very expressive.

Very expressive.

The bonus was that Granddaughter No. 1 got out of school early today and so on our way back from a lunch at a local restaurant, we picked her up and headed back to daughter Anne's casa where Samantha quickly dragged out her flute and put on a concert.

It was amazing to watch the same fingers that are so proficient at winging a softball through the air work so delicately on the flute.

We hope that next week - when Samantha is off school completely - she will come over to our house and we can have a jam session. At least as much of a jam session as you can have with a flute, a violin and a ukulele.

I wonder if Samantha knows "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" by Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffet?

Today's concert

We found crew for our voyage to Mexico in December

LAND PARK, Sacramento, Calif., USA - It's a long way from our driveway here in Land Park to Tenacatita (about 1650 miles, I guesstimate) but the Admiral found the perfect crew member & pet to take along with us on our trek south and east.

He should also be relatively amusing - and/or annoying - once we hit the beach in Mexico, especially once his Spanish improves.

November 10, 2007

Procrastination Version 11.10.2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - I will blame it on the rain, though there is plenty to do here inside the house.

But after attending an all-day conference yesterday - on how to better teach our undergrads to learn about new media and technology - well, I am sort of worn out.

Too much input.

So, instead of working on my writing today, grading, packing, or, or, or... I did managed to slap together a quick compendium from last weekend, starting with leaving to take the trailer into the shop for wheel bearings and brakes and ending with, well, you'll have to look at the video for that scene.


My only regret is that I didn't take any video of Scott Noble and I taste-testing some margaritas last week. They were dy-no-mite.

November 2, 2007

A day 'off' the list - is this what retirement could be?

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The day began by hightailing it over the trailer shop with the new Aerolite trailer in tow, getting there in time for the service guys to grab it for a full safety checkup. (I also learned how to dump the poop tank - muy importante, amigos, muy importante...)

All of my night-before worries about driving through traffic - and whether Troupey the Isuzu Trooper's had the ability to stop the 2,800 pound payload at stoplights were unnecessary. In downtown traffic, I found people moved over (waaaay over, thank you very much) as I appoached, some moved over faster than others, particularly if they were driving a really expensive car.

The trailer now gets to live in the shop for a few days while the brakes and bearings are gone over quite thoroughly. I'll be about $700 poorer sometime next week when I go pick it up, but happy to know that it will have electric brakes that actually, well, work.

It didn't have any brakes to speak of, according to Dan the mechanic.

But the best part of the day was completely ignoring my todo list. (OK, I confess, taking the trailer out to the shop was item No. 1. but that was it, honest!) Instead, I went about the day like, well, a retiree, spending my time having lunch with my daughter and two granddaughters (video is below, of course), dropping by the Post Office, a quick stop at Trader Joes (for medicinal and ceremonial wine) capped by nearly two hours on the computer searching for ukulele music.

Granddaughter Samantha is learning to play the flute and so I madly grabbed songs that I thought she might like to learn to play, with me doing a comedy act on my uke. Plus, I found a handful of songs that the Admiral and I can probably play together, too.

The Admiral, by the way, has launched her own blog - not content to let my missives stand as the only record of what we are up to.

Here's the link - and she's already posting video!

  • Admiral's Log

  • Here's a short video of the lunch bunch at a local Applebee's restaurant:

    November 1, 2007

    New travel trailer leaves the space dock for first voyage

    LAND PARK, SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The lights were working, the electric brakes still offline, but the new travel trailer - which could end up as the Tenacatita Bay Yacht Club's first building in just two months - left the driveway today for the first time, proudly dragged behind Troupey, our Isuzu Trooper bought last summer.

    The first dicey moment came when I realized that I didn't have a bolt small enough to slide through the locking mechanism of the trailer hitch. Good thing I have spent the last 45 years working with lines on boats. I tied a tight hitch across the mechanism and called it good. (I also made sure the safety chains were on tight, too...)

    The driveway posed a challenge going out (and in) because the jackstand hangs down slightly, managing to dig up a little concrete as it passed over. But the trailer pulled out easily and for about a half-hour, we tooled around the neighborhood, down onto a couple of main streets and then back home for the real test - getting back into the narrow driveway.

    I didn't get any applause when I finally got the trailer back in, but I did get several thumbs up from neighbors who were out raking leaves and watching me go back and forth, back and forth, trying to get the trailer lined up perfectly in the narrow driveway.

    With the maiden voyage behind me, I'll be a little more confident tomorrow morning when I take the trailer out to a service center to get the wheel bearings and trailer brakes checked out. Oh, and I'll be buying a couple of new batteries, too. The golf cart batteries that power the lights and water pump are the originals that came with the trailer when it was first sold 10 years ago.

    It's a tribute to the Trojan Battery Company that these old T-105, 6-volt batteries still have any power left at all.

    Here's a short video of the voyage: