HCAYMAN

Seriously Irreverent Musings

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Disconnected. Sort Of.

I am sitting in front of a fire. Not a gas fire. Not an artificial fire. Not a wildfire. But a fire in our cabin at the Alisal Guest Ranch.

We are sitting in our room on a cold, blustery day in this little, yet well-known, guest ranch, helping our friends celebrate their daughter’s wedding. It is a magnificent place, nestled in the coastal hills of California about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara.

It is Saturday afternoon. It is freezing outside. We are killing time before we have to get ready for the wedding to begin. The Alisal is a rustic, yet real world, place. Our room does not have a TV nor does it have a phone. Having said that, it does have wireless.

Pam and I are TV freaks, or at least Pam is. I go to sleep every night with the TV and light on, as Pam watches whatever show du jour has captured her attention until she falls asleep. I like to use the TV as background noise while I read or work.

We got here yesterday, and last night after enjoying ourselves at a great rehearsal dinner, we went to sleep without the TV flickering behind our eyelids. I found it refreshing. Pam played about an hour of solitaire on her iPad.

This morning, we had a nice breakfast and chatted with friends. We went back to our cabin, and made a fire. We know very little about making fires. We sort of understand the concept of kindling and draft, but the reality is that without gas, we were somewhat uncertain as how to start,

My, how the times have changed. A generation ago, everyone knew how to make a roaring fire. Most homes had wood burning fireplaces that could be used on a daily basis. Today, burning wood in a fireplace is deemed worse than burning gas in an automobile. The country is replete with Spare The Air regulations, which limit when wood can be burned and prohibit wood burning fireplaces in new construction. It will not be long before the gasoline powered motors are prohibited in new automobiles.

I love the sound of my naturally aspirated, air-cooled flat six engine in my 1989 Carrera and the sound of my naturally aspirated, flat six water cooled engine in my 2015 Cayman. Both cars feature symphonic exhaust notes that tremendously enhance the driving experience, making it much more visceral. The same cannot be said for battery powered cars, despite their surreal acceleration, as their lack of sound detracts dramatically from the experience for me.

I feel the same way about gas fireplaces. Everybody has them now. Our daughter, Shelby, and her husband, Bryan, just installed one in their house. Pam is lobbying to put one into our fireplace, too. I sat in front of Shelby’s and Bryan’s fireplace on Christmas Day. It was pretty. It threw off heat. But something was missing. Sound.

Pam and I are sitting side by side in comfortable chairs in front of the fire in our room. A real fire in a wood burning fireplace. A fire we successfully started without gas. Pam has broken down and is watching Netflix on her iPad, while I peck at the keys on my keyboard. The fire is beautiful. The heat is palpable. The smell is amazing, though we may be wearing it to the wedding. Most important is the sound. The cracking and popping of the wood, the whoosh of the air as it goes up the chimney make the experience real, not sterile.

This is an unbelievable guilty pleasure. The weather has limited our activities, but I am thoroughly relaxed and comfortable. I could have gone to the Library at the Ranch to watch NFL Wildcard Weekend. Yet, I am so much happier here. I keep looking at the clock, wishing time would pass more slowly, enabling me to spend more time this way. This is something I never do. Something I wish I could do more of at home.

I am totally in the moment. Yes, it is not politically correct. Yes, it is indulgent. But it is so satisfying. I have not just parked myself in front of a fire for years. I feel the same sense of relaxation as when I am driving my Porsches over the backroads and twisties. There is no noise from the TV in the background. I am disconnected. Sort of. And, I like it.

When I’m Sixty-Four

I have been thinking about this song for 51 years, ever since the Beatles released it in 1967. It stamped sixty-four into my consciousness at a time when thirty was considered over the hill. Initially, it only lurked in the recesses of my mind and took a back seat to forty-five, which was my age in the year 2000. In my teens, twenties, thirties, and early forties I would focus on how old I would be when the new millennium arrived. Somehow that event held much more significance to me. Not anymore.

The millennium came and went. It was pretty much a big ado, like every other new year, about nothing. Even the computer systems took it in stride. Now it is just a distant, and mostly faded, memory. Not surprisingly, 2019, the year in which I turn sixty-four, took the place of the millennium in my mind.

Not for much longer, though. 2019 is upon us, making me just a couple of months shy of sixty-four. It also makes the song, or at least its chorus, way more important to me. Sixty-four is a pretty insignificant age, as far as ages go. Being sixty-four means I have been able to buy movie tickets at the senior citizen price for four years. It means I have been eligible to join AARP for 14 years. That’s about it.

Thanks to Messrs. Lennon and McCartney, though, sixty-four has always been a very significant age to me, at least psychologically. It is a veritable yardstick in my mind, one I need to measure myself against. It is a symbolic gate, a gate through which only old people pass. It marks the point at which QTR no longer refers to Qualified Tuition Reduction for me or my kids, but instead refers to Quality Time Remaining. It is the age in which I may have to start taking New Year’s resolutions seriously, at least the important ones. It is the age that is forcing me to ask myself if I am still needed and relevant.

Or not.

I am a happy, boring guy. I do not want to make any significant changes in my life, though change has a way of creeping up on all of us. I am content with where I am. With all due respect to Messrs. Wiseman and Nichols, I have no interest in going Rocky Mountain climbing, skydiving, or 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu, though a few track days in my Porsche would not be a bad idea. Most of my body parts still function. My wife, Pam, is a saint, and despite my more curmudgeon like tendencies, continues to keep me current and relevant. I have two great kids, who actually still seek my advice. I have great friends. I enjoy my work. I have hobbies. Heck, I even have a great dog.

So instead of letting the specter of sixty-four weigh on my mind any longer, I am planning to embrace it for what it is – much ado about nothing, hoping it will become as faded and distant a memory as the millennium. In essence, I plan to live like I am still sixty-three.

There is just one problem with that, though. Shelby, my older daughter, is pregnant. She is due in April. Sixty-four will now be marked indelibly in my mind as the age in which I became a grandfather, making it truly significant for me.

Happy New Year!

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