August 29, 2010

Settling in and getting ready (not!) for the first day of school

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - So, rather than preparing the first set of lectures for this week's classes, it seemed infinitely more advisable to tap out another blog entry about the last few days here in Sacramento.

The lectures will come to me Monday, when classes start, I'm sure.

We have almost completely moved into our new digs in an area known in Sacramento as the Fabulous 40s, not because everyone who lives there is, well, in their fab 40s, but because the houses are well-maintained, most often huge and generally, very cool casas.

Dr Pam's house in Sacramento
Dr. Pam's casa - and now ours, too, until December

It is the type of neighborhood where our Lexus (safely stored in New York) would be a better fit than my 1990 Nissan pickup truck (parked out front in the photo above). But it's a very friendly group of people living in the area, and early in the morning, you have to step lively to not bump into all the people walking their pooches around, or get run over by a jogger listening to music on an IPod.

Until the late 1990s, Admiral Fox and I lived about 12 blocks from our current living space and so moving back into the neighborhood is a return to old times.

We walked by our old house Saturday and were shocked at the growth of a two-feet high tree planted out front when Dustin (now 30) was about 14 or 15. When we left it was about 8 feet tall. And we were told the tree would grow fast.

Jack and the Beanstalk would be proud of how fast this tree shot up.

Sylvia with Dustin's tree
The Admiral with the tree planted by Dustin

But perhaps the highlight of the past week was going out for lunch with daughter Anne and granddaughter Kami. Kami is about to turn three years old. And we already have some birthday presents in hand for her soiree next week.

But we did give her a magic wand, a light stick and a ballerina outfit when we saw her. And, of course, she entertained the entire restaurant.

Kami with Grandma Sylvia
Kami modeling Grandma Sylvia's glasses

Kami as ballerina
Dressed in her tutu

We hope to catch up with our other, more elusive, granddaughter, Samantha, in the next few days, though with her school and sports schedule, we will likely end up at one of her softball practice sessions.

And that would be fun, too.

August 28, 2010

Back in Sacramento where classes - and teaching - loom for Monday

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The summer went by waaaaaaaay too fast. We arrived in the U.S. April 28, and here it is August 28. And school starts Monday.

(Where the hell are my long pants and dress shoes?)

Even though it went by too fast, it was a fabulous summer. We had three weddings (Marion and Peter, Jen and Carl, and Brett and Jesse), visits from Dan & Lorraine Olsen and son Dustin, as well as numerous trips and social forays out and about New York.

And Eric and Tina Hazlitt were kind enough to lend us a 19-foot sailboat for a few weeks while the Spirit of Louise pontoon boat was in the shop getting repaired.

It was arguably the warmest - and least rainy - summer in many years.

When our first cabin renters arrived July 1, the weather turned gorgeous and until the eve of the Peachy Dandy Party (August 13), it held steady. I swam nearly every day - sometimes two or three times. Seneca Lake warmed up to the mid 70s, warmer than anytime the year before. And even on windy days, the air temperature stayed well above 70.

But the day before the Peachy Dandy party the wind cranked up - really cranked up - and the next day the sailboat race was eventually canceled, when it was so windy many racers couldn't get their boats out of their boat lifts.

The weather never really went back to warm summer days, though I hear reports that it has warmed up again.

Despite the lack of an actual sailboat race, the Peachy Dandy Party roared on all afternoon with Admiral Fox and several of her musical colleagues providing some of the music for the afternoon.

Many Peachy Dandies were consumed and even with the wind, there were plenty of swimmers and other boating activities.

I had a Peachy or two myself, concocted by party host Tina Hazlitt just as the party got started. The reason I can't say for sure if it was one or two, is because the first one was industrial strength.  Amazing how intoxicating fresh peaches can be. I should eat more fruit.

a cold swim
Back from swimming

Barney on the grill
Barney on the grill

The littlest peach
The littlest Peach at the Peachy Dandy

We were successful this summer in launching (after a fashion) the Valois Point Yacht Club, in name anyway. It was sad to unbolt the bar off the dock and remove the sun shade. But it will make set up much easier next summer when we hope to install a couple of moorings for visitors so they will not need to tie directly to the dock.

We have a roster of members now - anyone who showed up by boat was granted membership as founding members: Roger & Nancy Beardslee, Ruth Bills, Brad Phillips, Barney, Marcia & Kristen Van Horn, Eric and Tina Hazlitt, and, of course, former neighbors Beth & Boomer.

I might have missed someone in that list, but I'll catch them next summer.

No internet
Stages of Internet withdrawal

The Admiral and I have moved into a very comfortable mother-in-law unit attached to the house of friends, within easy walking distance to the university.

But as part of the settling-in process, we have had to go without easy Internet access, except when sitting in our university offices. Monday afternoon we will be up and running with a rocket-fast connection, I am told. And that means our internet phone will be back on line, too.

(The exception to this, is the Admiral's new smart phone which, besides Internet access, does everything except pour her tea in the morning. And there is probably a new app for that.)

More on all that after Monday.

And by Monday or Tuesday, I might be up to writing about out legal wrangling in Mexico with a developer who took over the entire Tenacatita area. He evicted 800 Mexican citizens and has started tearing down houses, restaurants and hotels, essentially make the historically popular area a private beach. The area is protected by police and private security guards.

No rollo de mar lunches for me this winter, it seems.

If you haven't been following the saga, you can catch up with it in a blog written by the Admiral two weeks ago. Not much as changed, except for a flurry of lawsuits filed in federal court in Mexico.

  • Tenacatita Beach taken over by force
  • August 1, 2010

    A not-so-quiet Sunday in August at Seneca Lake

    VALOIS, New York, USA - All of the outdoor-related fun of the lake - and the hours spent at the  Hector Fireman's Fair - caught up with Admiral Fox and I today.

    Instead of catapulting out this morning on some new adventure, we went to the local Dandy Mart and bought a New York Times. We settled in for a couple of hours, reading some generally depressing news - a fitting introduction to our upcoming reentry into the classroom this fall to teach newswriting and other journalistic pursuits.

    I'm going to stop thinking about that right now.

    By 1 p.m., we decided to head to Watkins Glen and Village Marina for lunch, in good part because cousin Brett Beardslee was scheduled to be playing outside on the patio. And by 1 p.m., I was ready to have a cold beer. Really ready.

    Brett with van in background
    Cousin Brett with his signature VW van in the background

    The entire town was buzzing because of the three-day Italian Festival (which concludes tonight), though the Village Marina was just starting to come alive as our lunch arrived.

    Unfortunately, as my Magic Hat beer and french fries made it to the table, so did a rolling rainstorm that drove all the fans - and Brett - diving for cover. It turned out to be the first in a series of nasty thunderstorms that have been hitting up and down the lake for the afternoon.

    Electric guitars and rainstorms mix very poorly.

    August 1, 2010 weather map
    The red areas usually have lightning - and lots of rain

    Brett's latest CD (Uncle Bumpy's Big Banana Blowout) is selling pretty well through ITunes and other places- though most of the songs carry a label that says "explicit."

    Some of the songs probably deserve the label, some don't. But they are all pretty hysterical. I hope to have a few memorized with chords for the ukulele by the time I get back to Mexico for open mic night at Palapa Joes.

    Brett's CD cover
    Uncle Bumpy's CD cover

    Here's a short video of Brett performing - just before the rain whooshed in and sent us all scrambling.