August 29, 2011

Peachy Dandy Party and sailboat race was, well, just dandy

HECTOR, New York, USA - The umpteenth annual Peachy Dandy Party on Seneca Lake came off without a hitch August 20.

After two disappointing years - one with no wind, the second with too much wind - the weather gods cooperated, providing perfect temperatures and enough breeze to push all boats all the way around a shortened course just off Hazlitt Beach.

As always, the Hazlitt family did a great job throwing the party - and racing their sailboats.

And the Peachy Dandy cocktails? As has been the case at every Peachy Dandy Race I have attended, they were intoxicatingly peachy.

Because the party came sooooo close to our departure date back to California, Adm. Fox and I sat out this year's sailing race. Instead, we were on the race course aboard the Spirit of Louise pontoon boat as what the Hazlitt's call the 'crash boat.'

While ensuring safety is supposedly the goal of the crash boat, we were also in charge of taking hydration supplies to the sailors if their coolers ran low.

At one point, at the request of Mike Schamel the younger, we went back to port and picked up a dozen Peachy Dandy cocktails to distribute, in addition to the mega-cooler full of beer we already carried on the bow of the boat.

Below is a short Fox-Fitzgerald rockumentary of the race and some of the party. It was a difficult event to shoot. One hand for the camera, one hand for the Peachy Dandy cocktail and one hand to steer the Spirit of Louise.

Yes, math has never been my strong suit.

August 20, 2011

Away all boats (on trailers, anyway) time to head to California

VALOIS, New York, USA - The last few days have been a flurry of activity, all aimed at closing down the waterfront at the Valois Point Yacht Club, closing up the cottage, and readying our Watkins Glen house for four months of non-residency.

This shutdown comes right as the whole Valois-Hector-Watkins scene is in the middle of the end-of-summer parties and other rituals.

Sign is up, but season is over
Today, for example, is the Peachy Dandy Party and Sailboat Regatta, an annual event on Hazlitt Beach. Two years ago we sailed the Red Rocket and the race was called for lack of wind. Last year there was soooo much wind, the race was called because it was too dangerous to be out on the water.

And although the VPYC has two sailboats in its fleet this season, both are safely stored already and won't be participating today.

Next year, next year!

But even though I won't be sailing, the Spirit of Louise pontoon craft will be pressed into service as a 'crash boat' to help anyone who gets into trouble. I'll also be taking along the big video camera. There could be a rockumentary in all this today.

Even with the shutdowns, close ups and assorted packing for our sojourn to California, we've been having a lot of fun.

Thursday, I closed up the dockside bar at the VPYC, but not before Joseph and Yvonne sailed up for one last bit of time there, a few beers, and to enjoy the still-warm water to swim in.

And no doubt there will be at least one more trip to Garcia's the new Mexican restaurant that just opened its doors in Watkins Glen. In very Mexican tradition - because they don't have a liquor license yet - the owners said it's fine to bring in beer and wine to have with meals there. There's a move afoot to expand that to include margaritas, pre-mixed to pour over ice.

Sailing in to the VPYC

 Here's a short video (made up of stills) from the 2009 Peachy Dandy race:

August 14, 2011

Countdown to shutdown: Closing up the VPYC and away all boats

VALOIS, New York, USA - Adm. Fox and I have slightly over a week left before we hop a US Airways jet from Elmira, NY to California, back for a our final foray into teaching at California State University, Sacramento.

On the trailer this week
And that flight means starting in on the house shut-down list: put boats on trailers, store solar lights, drain hot tub, put away garden tools, arrange for mail forwarding... The list is two pages single-spaced, so naturally I am writing this piece.

This season we have two houses to consider, the lake cottage and our casa in Watkins Glen. The cottage we have closed down for years now and it's almost routine.


We have a few quirks with the new house, especially now that will be our official permanent residence when we fly back in December 15.

Fly back in December? Yup, that's right, we will be coming back to Watkins Glen right as the winter cranks up to full cold & snow. What few possessions we have in storage in Calif. will be shipped east, along with my red Nissan truck (something I could have used here a dozen times this summer hauling cement, lumber...).

Shutting down the Watkins casa is pretty easy: turn the theromstat to 55 degrees, close the storm windows and make sure the lawn furniture is put away under cover. And we will have a new amiga staying in our attached apartment for the winter, so she will ensure the utilities are taken care of, etc.

When we get back in December, all we have to do (I hope) is turn up the thermostat and check the wine cellar to make sure the wine didn't freeze. (It shouldn't, the boiler for the heater system in the basement and seems to be a steady temperature year round.)

Sen. Schumer with Jim Hazlitt
The writing gig with the Finger Lakes Times newspaper will continue however, with my Friday column. I'll be reading the FLT electronic edition and getting the hard copy in the mail, just as I do now in Watkins Glen.

I'll miss some of the news story writing, though. Last week I covered a talk by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and got to chat with half of the politicians and assorted mucky-mucks from the county. Some of those folks expressed interest in having me do some videos for them, too.


But the time will fly in California.

Within a few days of arriving we will be getting together with cruising buddies Dan and Lorraine Olsen, trips are planned to Yosemite and other California landmarks, and, of course, we have granddaughters Samantha and Kami - and their mom Anne - to visit as much as possible. Perhaps even the elusive Dylan Fox will come leave the city limits of Berkeley for a visit - or we will head there.

And teaching?

Oh yes, teaching! We have our final semester of teaching set up. I have my usual four classes, which include a section each of magazine writing and column writing. I am still considering giving only one of two grades for all students: A or F.

They either get it, or don't get it.

But that decision can wait a couple of more weeks.

Time to take down the yacht club sign

August 7, 2011

Albert Brooks' book '2030' shows a hopeful - and real - future

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - Adm. Fox and I took a hiatus from Seneca Lake life this past week and spent most of our time at the North Glen Avenue house, catching up on 'city stuff.'

For me, that meant a lot of writing, but also reading several books that I have been wanting to spend some time with. The best was a first novel by actor/director Albert Brooks called 2030.

The fact that the weather was less-than-nice made our in-town chores easier. And reading Brooks novel showed me one vision for what life could be - not quite 20 years from now.

The book contains plenty of angst, action, and enough funny social moments to make it a fast read. It also is a relatively  hopeful vision of a future that could come to pass.

After weeks of debt limit shenanigans and outright lies by Tea Party (and other) wing nuts, a hopeful vision was definitely called for.

Parts of the novel might seem as if they were written by a first-time novelist. But the style is excellent, fast-paced and the storyline true right to the last page. Brooks is a scriptwriter, too, and I think 2030 would make a very interesting movie.

If you are anywhere near senior-citizen status, this book is a must read.

Here's a video of Brooks in May talking with Jon Stewart about 2030.

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August 1, 2011

Hector Fireman's Fair Parade - a festive festival, as always

HECTOR, New York, USA - We perched on the wall in front of Eric and Tina Hazlitt's house on Route 414 Friday night to watch the annual Hector Fireman's Fair parade. Eric and Tina throw a great party and it's the most comfortable spot along the parade route to watch everything.

There were the usual fire trucks - lots of fire trucks - a few political candidates, tons of children and enough music to keep things lively.

After-the-parade traffic moves slowly
The parade shuts down the section of the highway from the Dandy Mart (to the south) to the Hector Firehouse fields (to the north, where the fair is).

Traffic gets rerouted, though sometimes people don't take the advice and end up following the tail end of the parade when it's nearly over.

This year was no different.

Besides shooting still photos, I pulled out the big-gun Panasonic camera and shot some of the floats and marchers.

A lot of them were very cool.

Adm. Fox and I wandered over to the actual fair after the parade, had some French fries, a couple of beers from the beer tent, and called it a successful evening.

Here's a short video of the parade: