Monday, October 3, 2016

Doing the Can Can in Richmond

I've always considered myself a can-do guy. True, I'm a bit more limited these days because of my cancer—due to calcium leaching, for example, I have to be careful about how much weight I lift—but I've recovered a great deal of functionality since being hospitalized last January and am getting around pretty good these days.

Thus, it was amusing last night to be eating at the Can Can Brasserie in Carytown, a tony urban retail strip along Cary St in the capital of Virginia, where the legacy of the Civil War (referred to here as the War of Northern Aggression) continues to simmer. Our brief journey to the restaurant, for example, took us right by a prominent well-lit monument to Stonewall Jackson. Hmm. I reckon it's a matter of perspective. To locals, Appomattox was barely 151 years ago; what's the hurry in getting over it?

History aside we had a lovely dinner. As you might guess, the Can Can featured French cuisine (though no petticoats). Marty and Dan raved about the pan-roasted grouper and Jenny seemed well pleased with the coq au vin. Unfortunately, my lamb chops (the Sunday special) were disappointing: stringy, undercooked, and the flavors not well blended with the polenta melange on which they were presented. Oh well, no restaurant can expect to ring the bell every time, and the meal ended on an up-tick when the four of us shared two high-calorie desserts.

For me the highlight of the evening was the company. I had not seen any of my dinner companions since before my cancer had been discovered and it was lovely having two hours of unstructured laughter and free-flowing conversation with them last night. They traveled over 90 minutes each way for the "privilege" of my company and we made the most of it.

On the way back to the car I confided in Jenny that my recent brush with mortality has helped me focus on the primacy of spending time with friends—further, I'm learning to not count on being able to do later things that I blithely pass up doing today.

Over fresh bread (and an oozing appetizer of baked brie, quince purée, raspberry compote, and candied walnuts—ooh-la-la), I caught up on the doings at Shannon Farm (Afton VA), where all three live. There is a proposal to bring fiber optic cable into the community, finally assuring residents of access to high-speed internet connections (welcome, Shannonies, to the late 20th Century!); and Marty's pod is about to hook up to a solar panel array that promises to significantly diminish the revolutions of the dial on his electric meter. Nice.

Both Dan (an independent insurance agent) and Jenny (one of three partners operating Heartwood Design, a well-established custom woodworking shop that focuses on up-scale kitchen remodels for the DC market) are wrestling with the same questions that Susan and I are: how best to segue into our retirement years, juggling:

A. The desire to keep active (though at a gradually decreasing level).

B. The desire to maintain a decent income flow (through a judicious combination of savings and current earnings).

C. The desire to have increasing control of one's time (where B is robust enough to cover what you'd like to do with C).

It's always interesting hearing how others are solving this equation, with each situation having unique characteristics to weigh.

Last night's social configuration is a precious artifact from my FIC days. Dan and I were part of the original group that founded the Fellowship in 1987. By the time that Dan was ready to step back (in the mid-90s) Jenny (his partner) had already made the transition from onlooker to imp (as we whimsically styled "implementers" back in the day) and I wound up working closely with her for nearly 20 years. Marty stepped into the circle in 1997 and continues on the FIC Board today. All of which is to say that I've been through many fires with these folks—both in service to community and in service to relationship.

Last evening it was a delight to stir the coals and bask in the considerable warmth of our mutual friendships—whether the South ever rises again, or not.

No comments: