Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but … Yes, it’s 2016!

So quickly it has happened, as we have seen the first month of 2016 pass by; events of last year are but a fading memory. As Margo and I entertained dear friends this month, Larry and Kathleen Lynch, we looked at each other over glasses of wine and realized, while time has been good to us so far, nevertheless, it’s inevitable that time will win out. Even as I page back to earlier posts made to this blog and revisit past experiences, sharing moments with Margo, it’s inevitable that talk turns to how future chapters of our lives will be written. Our aspirations continue to focus on where the next few months will take us, but as for the bigger picture, well, to quote lyrics from the song, He went to Paris, by Jimmy Buffett:

   Jimmy, some of it's magic, some of it's tragic
   But (we) had a good life all the way

Before I have you turning to other reading material, let me be very clear. We are excited by what we already know will happen in the next couple of months. Fortunately, we are off to Paris shortly, for the weekend. Unfortunately, it’s just Paris, Las Vegas. But having the opportunity to catch up with friends, Brian and Jan Kenny, from southern California, makes the trip well worth it.

This past year has had its moments, that’s without a doubt. Business has kept me very busy and the clients I now have are ones whose company I enjoy and whose products and solutions are ones that I can happily discuss ad nauseam. Completing the first quarter of my sixth year as a consultant focused on providing content for various media channels keeps me very alert as it does make me conscious too of not taking anything for granted.

Recently I have had the opportunity to not only write on topics that interest me but to participate in webinars on these very same topics and this is an aspect of business I am warming to – hope it develops further. But having said this, being gainfully employed is without doubt not without its routines and for someone who has shrugged off any form of discipline throughout his entire working career, this is perhaps the biggest surprise to me and I can only put down my success on this front to Margo. Without her sustained interest in all I write, and her editing every piece I produce, I wouldn’t be at my desk today, writing this post, as pleasurable a task as it is. 

Words about the company command center and indeed the trailer, both of which are in storage until spring, cannot really express how life-changing the ownership of such vehicles has been. On a moment’s notice we can pack up and be ready for business practically anywhere in North America.  However, in 2015, saw our first trip to the Diesel Emissions facility here in Longmont, Colorado. 

Letting their mechanic reverse our RV into the smallest hole in the wall premise I have ever seen left Margo and I a little anxious but there was no mishap and the RV passed its emissions tests without any worries. It goes without saying that we are enjoying the cheap diesel now on offer and having watched the price of diesel come down from over $4 per gallon when we purchased the RV to where today it’s readily available at prices beneath $2 per gallon well, we can now eat meat twice a day while out on America’s highways. On the other hand, running repairs continues as mastery of the company command center is still a long way off!

The biggest mishap we experienced came as a real surprise – the RV handles so well that we managed to round a tight corner with enough velocity to bring down the bathroom mirror, cause books and magazines to bust through a draw end plate and in general, produce havoc in every closet so yes, knowing this, we will need to back off our approaches to some turns. The option to simply hit the road and head for any business event in the Americas is a way, way, better option than standing endlessly in security lines waiting to board a flight. 

At this time of year it has been my practice to include a photo taken from inside of our garage. These have chronicled the changing vehicle line up as we trade one car or motorcycle for another. Clearly, with this year’s photo, the keen observer will notice that there is only one motorcycle; the Honda VTX 1800 is no longer with us.

Furthermore, our track car, just visible behind the Maserati, now occupies the furthest parking spot in the garage but even so, it’s still providing us with a lot of fun after more than a dozen years. Who would have guessed that it would be the lone survivor from when Margo and I split our time between two residences?
What really can’t be explained are the predominantly red colors for the cars, and while the yellow, so we have been told, denotes people who are confident in the choice of vehicles, maybe in 2016 we see another hue introduced into the garage.

Then again, perhaps not! As we are both conscious of the passage of time and of the love we have for travel and time with friends, our priorities are beginning to shift even if it isn’t entirely noticeable to others. On the other hand, our passion for driving isn’t showing any signs of lessening, so perhaps another yellow car may be in order? 

It was only a short time ago that we walked onto the showroom floor in total disbelieve. From a distance we thought we saw another yellow Maserati GT-S. Having been informed there were only a handful of yellow Maserati’s in the country, possibly as few as three, we had to go in and take a closer look. Unfortunately, the vehicle turned out to be an Aston Martin V8 Vantage but it was almost as a mirror image to our own car – powder coated brake caliper covers, black interior with yellow double stitching. Just those polished alloy rims looked out of place! With only a few miles on the odometer – would be a perfect addition to the color scheme, surely? But no, we walked away from the showroom bemused, of course, but with our hands firmly in our pockets, nowhere near our checkbook. But ahhh, it was so pretty!

The picture of the Vantage doesn’t do it justice as the color was almost a perfect match to the yellow Maserati. Even as it’s the middle of winter here in Boulder, following a good snow storm at Christmas, the weather has been very cold and no more of the fluffy white stuff has fallen. However, this is about to change and this morning, the last day of January, the first wave of a big snow storm deposited a smear overnight. The fortunate thing with there being a lack of snow along the front ranges for the past month has been the many days of sunshine that have allowed us to take the Maserati out for road trips and this picture, taken almost three years after we purchased it, depicts the Maser in front of a new condo complex that is one of many coming online of late.

It’s hard to sidestep the issue of passion when talking of cars. Margo and I share a passion for driving and will head to the garage to pick a car for a road trip on every occasion that arises – it takes very little to persuade us to head for the open road. It’s not uncommon for either of us to quote the well-known James Taylor lyrics from the song, Carolina on my Mind,

   I think I might have heard the highway calling

Should business ever call for us to visit the Carolina’s outer banks, there’s no question as to which car will be loaded on the trailer to be towed by the RV. The Cooper S Roadster by Mini most definitely as it’s a vehicle that today, even with snow on the ground, is providing more fun than we had ever imagined. Perhaps there’s a reason why we like red cars after all, and the Maser doesn’t need to consider having another yellow partner in crime. Yes, we hear the highway calling but even as it’s all too familiar siren call tempts us, as powerful a force as it may be, having a variety of options means no trip is ever the same as the last one.  

There’s no post on the New Year that would be complete without a reference to what transpired in the kitchen. A number of photos appeared on our Facebook pages as Margo prepared a number of new meals, mostly influenced by what we had come across on television cooking shows as well as in magazines. It’s a strange turn of events that while we spend time in the fitness center, walking on a treadmill, we more often than not will watch a cooking show featured on one of the monitors in front of us. Incongruous; definitely! However, as inappropriate as this may look on first reading, it’s actually become a great source for finding more nutritious meals and the meal depicted above, only includes a small serving of pork tenderloin. 

Before leaving the topic of meal preparation one of the most surprising meals Margo turned her hand to was the cooking of a vegetarian dish. According to the chef who came up with the recipe, it was the ultimate falafel patty melt, served in a lightly toasted flour tortilla topped with a number of spices, most of which were unfamiliar to me. Was it good? Well, it’s become a staple for late week meals when all we wanted to eat was something a little lighter. As for the photo below well, that’s a little more debatable nutrition-wise. It’s a classic sour cherry pie that Margo has baked more than once over the holiday season and with just the hint of whipped cream adoring the side of the plate, it becomes a more than tempting conclusion to any meal she prepares.  

Talk of the festive season wouldn’t be complete without recalling some of the great Christmas dinners of years past. Pushing aside a couple of papers I came across this photo of my father and me, deep in conversation, at my former home in the southern suburbs of Sydney. Note the light attire we are wearing as it was a typical, scorching hot day. Even though my father would never show up to any dinner table without a coat and tie, on this occasion he did elect to put the coat to one side. Christmas at the Buckle’s had been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember and as a child the Buckle clan would assemble for a luncheon at my parent's house.

I am the eldest son of the eldest son and so forth but with the clan now scattered to all corners of the earth, these times will not be repeated. As Margo and I looked back at the earlier posts in this blog and enjoyed recounting the experiences each post documented, we do wonder about the future chapters.

Will we find the time to return to the track and experience the fun of tackling demanding circuits? Will we find our path back into the national parks we so enjoy? Will there be a change of residence – will our home finally sell? As unnerving as it is for both of us, there’s an overarching sense that change is coming and that after three years, there will be parties interested in buying our home and in so doing, open new doors to chapters we haven’t even considered.   
But there is one more picture I am including here and it is of the Buckle clan assembled for a family celebration all the way back to when I was a small child. Thank you, cousin Lois for this photo and the memories it brought back to me. Yes, that is me, bow tie and all, on the left side of the photo and to my left is Lois with I believe it’s my sister Judy to her left. In the back I can see Aunties Pearl and Winifred but as for the other faces, memory fails me. Then again, the whole concept of families today is fluid as people enter into your circle of associates and true friendships develop.

For Margo and me, the concept of family has become a complex situation that only adds to the dynamics of what may happen as we begin further chapters in our lives. This year, unfortunately, saw the passing of a number of friends, colleagues and relatives but any tragedy that this represented was mitigated by the reentry into our lives of others we hadn't heard from in decades. Including some I have not corresponded with since high school!   

I opened with just a couple of lines from the song, He went to Paris. But looking at the complete verse, it hit home to me of just how some may think of me though perhaps with not quite the same sentiment Jimmy Buffett fosters in us. However, as holidays pass by and as anniversaries are celebrated, new chapters will obviously be fewer in number than what has already been written, but then again, would any of us want it any other way?

   He's writing his memoirs and losing his hearing
   But he don't care what most people say.
   Through eighty-six years of perpetual motion
   If he likes you he'll smile then he'll say
   Jimmy, some of it's magic, some of it's tragic
   But I had a good life all the way.