I mentioned that Elizabeth is very keen on cars at the moment. She likes to push anything with wheels but little toy cars are a particular favourite ever since our Ford dealer gave her a Tonka truck to play with while they tried to convince us to buy an SUV.
We've had a Ford Focus Wagon or hatchback for nearly a decade but Ford's decision to stop selling the non-sedan version of the Focus in North America coupled with their exit from the leasing business for vehicles in our price range ultimately outweighed our liking for our dealership.
We now have a brand new Volkswagen Golf Wagon (gas not diesel for those who might care). In many ways it reminds us of our first car (the Ford Focus Wagon). Wagons are really a very practical design. You get amazing amounts of space in the back for whatever you may be hauling around without the extra weight of an SUV. In our case comparing the Ford Escape compact SUV with the VW Golf Wagon you get about the same engine in both but the Escape drags itself around whereas the Golf feels like it could take off if you're not careful (170 hp - our first wagon had 110). Now given that the two differ by only a few liters in terms of cargo capacity it really is quite easy to pick one over the other if you care at all about having a little fun while you are out for a drive.
Once we got over the majority of the emotional trauma of switching brands we discovered that a lot has changed since our last car. Our last three cars have basically been identical and had very little in the way of improvements over each other. Bessie's new coat makes up for this lack of change and then some. Two pixel based digital displays (one is a touch screen), funky fading lights, USB, SDHC and iPod music connectors, compass, temperature, tire pressure monitoring, low washer fluid, bluetooth handsfree phone support and the coolest ever ellectronic stability control system. During the test drive the sales guy took us down an 80 km road, pulled over so that two wheels were on the gravel shoulder, said "don't try this in any other car" and jammed on the brakes. After a brief moment of "great the sales guy is going to kill us here" we realized that the car had just come to a stop in a straight line without so much as a wiggle. After that there were lots of other cool things that he showed us but it didn't really matter because we were sold.
Oh and Elizabeth screamed less in the VW than the Ford during the test drives (despite, or perhaps because of, the crazy moves).
Elizabeth's second cousin Lindsay was baptized today. Holding Elizabeth during the service was like trying to hang onto a wet water slider toy or like trying to prevent quicksilver from sliding through your fingers. So wiggly!
She did stay in for most of the service, until she decided she had to go to the washroom, but Mommy and Daddy were slightly distracted...
After the service we went back to Lauren and Donna's for a lovely lunch.
I've been to an auction once before, but it must have been the better part of two decades ago so I don't remember much beyond thinking that auction patter is pretty cool.
The auctioneers at my grandparents' sale were a father-son team and obviously had done this many times before. Despite an ER trip the day before, both grandparents came to the sale. My grandmother stayed in the car, but that didn't cramp her style. Many people came to visit with her, catch up and generally hang out. Grandpa hopped into his golf cart for one last ride and went zooming around to all the action.
The clerks registered over 300 people for bidding (we were number 176). I'm told that around 150 is considered good. So there were a lot of people. My grandparents' church youth group sold hamburgers, hotdogs, donuts and fruit kebabs at the sale to raise money. They ended up making more than a thousand dollars in profit!
The sale itself would have been awesome if it wasn't for all the memories walking out the door.
Every person who wanted to bid registered for a number at the desk. When you wanted to bid, you raised your number at the auctioneer. The professionals just put their numbers in their shirt pockets and nodded, but Janice and I took no chances, waving our cardboard wildly in the air when we wanted to bid. We learned early on that it was important not to be the first person to bid. If you were the only bidder, you could get some pretty good deals, provided that you let the price go down first! My Grandmother's good china went for only a few dollars. The cuckoo clock for $45. I bid on it but couldn't talk myself into paying more than fifty dollars. I'm still a bit sad about that. Other things went for a lot more. The old glass Texaco globe that was on top of my grandpa's gas pump back when he owned the garage fetched $500. An engine that he'd paid $20 for went for $1600. If you listen to the auction patter of the son in the video below, you'll notice that he says what sounds like "potato potato". According to wikipedia auctioneers often use a filler word to distinguish between the current bid and the next suggested bid, so that's my best guess as to why.
We also learned that people collect the craziest things. One guy actually came ahead of time to scope out my grandpa's yard sticks. To the right person, yard sticks can sell for $25 a piece. Who knew???
Antique dealers are strange too. My Aunt Mary said that one came to the house "about the old wardrobe". When asked which one, he said he'd look at the oldest first. This was a neat piece of furniture that I had never noticed before, apparently owned by Jakob B, my great-great grandfather. It predated rods in the closet; instead there were hooks for your clothes. It also was designed to come apart really easily without tools. They went downstairs together and he measured everything, muttering about every ding and missing piece of wood. He eventually bought it for $4600. But when she took him to see wardrobe number two he took one glance at it. "Not interested", he announced and marched out of the house.
My maternal grandparents recently moved into assisted living. The house and all contents were auctioned off this weekend, so Uncle Dave, Auntie Karen, Auntie Janice, Brendan, Elizabeth and I made the trip down to Crosshill to mark the occasion.
Brendan and I decided to leave at bedtime on Thursday night to see whether Elizabeth would sleep the whole way. This more or less worked, though we did have to pull over somewhere around Belleville to change her diaper, let her nurse and provide a tasty snack for about half a million mosquitoes. We stopped at my Aunt Muriel's in Toronto overnight.
The original plan was to take my grandparents out for lunch, but unfortunately my grandma fell and cracked her head right open before we arrived. A few staples later and she was all patched up. By the time we arrived she was even able to joke about the nurse practitioner in training who didn't put the staples in deep enough the first time, causing the doctor to pull them all out and start over! After a nice visit with my grandparents we headed off to the old house where we were able to appreciate the magnitude of the work my aunts and uncles have put in over the last two months. Just moving the scrap metal from the sheds to the back must have been exhausting!
It was quite amazing to see so many treasures, some of which were new to me. For instance, I had no idea that my grandmother is a very talented artist. Or that my grandfather owned an airplane propeller...
When we arrived everyone was very busy cleaning. I helped make a parking sign but I think we spent more time getting in the way! Elizabeth took a last ride in the rocking horse made by her great-great-grandpa and had way too much fun with Great-grandpa's golf cart.
We bought Elizabeth her first pair of sunglasses at our recent trip to MEC because she seemed very bothered by the sun in her eyes. She squints, screws up her face and whines pitifully, often with one tear rolling down her cheek. Her right eye seems particularly prone to watering. As an experiment, we bought the smallest pair they had, which luckily came in a cheap, relatively indestructible and pink variety. Guess who picked the colour?
So far it seems to be working because she leaves them on unless she's in the shade. Like her paternal grandfather, she even wears them inside sometimes!