Focus!

Photo courtesy of Edmunds

So… Thursday night, I headed out of town to a conference.   My trusty, beloved car decided to have issues, so on the outskirts of town, I had to turn around, head home, and then the Knight drove me to the airport to get a rental car.  He selected a Ford Focus for me, since we were operating on the League’s dime.  I admired his fiscal awareness, but was NOT amused.

Mea culpa – both to the Knight and to Ford.  No, I wasn’t so taken with the little red ride that I’m ready to downsize, but I can say it definitely exceeded my expectations.  

  • It was roomier than I thought a “compact” would be.
  • The firm, flat, vinyl seats weren’t too uncomfortable — and were heated! 
  • It handled well.
  • The sound system was greatly appreciated on the ride up – when I was alone.
  • I’m still shocked that ANY fuel tank can be filled (albeit from about 3/4 of a tank?) for $35, and that’s all I used for the whole trip.

I also have to give a shout-out to the local Avis place at the airport.  Both women I spoke with were pleasant, the rates were more than fair, and frankly, I was shocked the Knight found a rental car in podunk, even at the airport, after 9pm.  Customer service is not dead after all!

How was your weekend?  Did you have any pleasant surprises?  I’ll tell you more about the rest of my trip another day…

 

 

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Chief for the Day

We had such a full weekend!  Friday evening, we had terrible storms, complete with hail and some wind sheer.  Luckily, the only damage at our house was to my roses, and the Knight isn’t sure whether the badly bent branch will make it or not.  

Well, okay, there are a few branches down, or as is the cases here, not quite down.  This one is dangling over the dog pen, so I hope it falls while the fur-girls are inside    not in the pen.  There is a lot more damage around the area though, so we were lucky.

I did a quick update on the girls’ blog, but thank you for checking on Sissy and wishing her well.   I think the prednisone is working, but she’s sure not my happy-go-lucky girl…

Saturday morning, we had fun with a little chief for the day and her family.   I’d forgotten how much fun it is to introduce youngsters to the firehouse for the first time!  

From there on, Saturday was just jammed-packed.  We went to lunch, bought fruit, and I had just enough time to cut up all the fruit for a fruit salad to take to the afternoon birthday party for a friend.  Then, errands and dinner and some moonlight car window-shopping. 

What do y’all think about station wagons?  We’re trying to live greener, but we still need cargo room for our trips to the beach, and I don’t want to give up my elevated driving position.  Some wagons will allow for all of that AND better gas mileage.   The Subaru Outback is high on my list, but are there other wagons out there you know and love?

How was your weekend?

Round … what number?

We never really stopped looking for another vehicle for me, but I did stop obsessing about it.  At the moment, we’re in negotiations.  You see, we both love the Knight’s personal truck.  Scratch that; all four of us love the truck.  The girls have more room in his back seat than mine, although they still wad up in the middle.  (Can you believe I don’t have a photo of them sleeping together in the car?!)

OBX 2-09 ... pretend it's the backseat of my car

Anyway, what with the chiefmobile and his work truck, his personal truck sits undercover, unloved, so we’ve declared it our travel vehicle, at least until gasoline prices top $4 again.  That opens up a new world of car shopping for me, because it means I don’t have to give a second thought to cargo room.   

Mugsy and the Knight on the big green tractor ~ 2005

Now, I could be really practical and go sedan, as the Knight would like, but I don’t like cars.  I’m a country girl, born and raised, and since I can’t toodle around on a big ol’ tractor, and since I do have enough decorum to realize dresses, heels and pick-ups don’t mix well, that still leaves me with SUVs, or preferably, a cross-over.

Now…  here’s where I need your input.  We’re having a premium fuel debate in The Woods.   The Knight says it’s not a big deal, especially since many manufacturers “recommend” premium fuel but don’t require it.  I say if they think we should use it, we should, and it gripes me to pay more for premium fuel if I’m not getting something out of it.   (And we’re not looking for performance.  I would rather have better fuel mileage.)

Am I being hard to get along with?  I know a few of you have Subarus, which I think of as wonderful, practical cars, and they take premium fuel, so educate me here!

(Now, since it’s taken two hours to type this much, I’m going to publish.  Some of it is because the girls wanted to go walk in the sunshine, and some of it is because of a customer, so I’m not REALLY complaining…)

Epidemic

Wool + summer heat x humidity = on hold

Wool + summer heat x humidity = on hold

Startitis makes its way around to most of us who knit or crochet or sew or… at some point or another.  I’d been doing reasonably well, with a tobegiftedbefore Christmas gift on the needles waiting for it to cool down some, a lace project that I lost interest in but want to finish, another gift whose deadline won’t be met, and a sock that’s just too complicated for me right now (and will likely be frogged) in the works. 

I was making progress on the gift I want to finish, but it is just complicated enough that it won’t make a good travel project, so I cast on TWO travel projects last night.  You know, because I’d had THREE FOs in the past five days?  Some of you understand that logic, and the rest of you just have far more discipline than I do.  I only like algebra and calculus in the math world, so don’t try adding and subtracting; it won’t come out right, but trust me…  I actually got an “A” in logic and in ethics (both ironically required subjects for a philosophy major), so somehow, it does work in knitters math.

The sock that probably wont be...

The sock that probably won't be...

My sock mojo has wandered away again, and has been replaced by have cloth, will travel mojo.  I’ve never really enjoyed cloths asides from their instant gratification abilities, but here lately, I’m liking them more and more.  Crazy that, huh?  I know some of you always have cloths on the needles, but I have historically been a travel sock or simple lace wrap kind of girl.

Now, I’m sure that in time, the cotton will be too hard on my hands and I’ll move on to something else, but in the meantime, I’ll knock out several little gifts, since y’all  have been good enough to send cloths to stock my linen closet (um, well, linen basket, because I think I’ve already confessed that my main linen closet became my fiber arts library, right?) for the Knight.  Thank you, thank you, because that also means I’m under no pressure at all and can quit on the cloths whenever I want without sentencing the Knight to commercial terry cloths.   (The  horrors!)

What did I cast on?  Well, I don’t have photos, and my fellow Rav-stalkers already know, but I couldn’t resist the Muguets Cloth (scroll down to Expert, click, and then scroll down for the English version), which will go with some nice soap as a belated gift to my mother. 

Anita also reminded me yesterday that there’s a baby due in about five weeks for whom I need to get knitting.  Big brother to this little one got a blankie and a hat, so I need to knit on!  I chose  Savta’s Shell Pattern Afghan, in part because of the sweet story, and because I think it works up nicely in a variegated yarn.   Ann helped me select some Berroco Comfort for the project, because with this being the second baby in less than two years, my girlfriend doesn’t need to worry about special care for handknits, even though I know she and her darling  husband thoroughly appreciate them.

Almost all grown up

Almost all grown up

I also failed earlier to note that our baby girl is almost not a baby anymore, although I called Mugsy my baby right up through his death.  Today is Lady Gretchen Greer’s 11-month birthday.  (No, that’s not her registered name, but I sure wish it was.)  Never has there been a better, more delightful puppy, ever.  While we needed Sissy’s silly, wild antics to combat our grief (upon grief , one death after another), Gretchen’s bubbly but always polite mannerisms continue to warm our hearts too. 

Zoom-zoomies outside!

Zoom-zoomies outside!

I just have to caution everyone who doesn’t know many Jack Russell Terriers or Parson Terriers (AKC), because she isn’t the norm.   She is very high energy, but she will let her “zoomies” carry her through the house, lap after lap (with MUCH bigger Sissy at her heels) if she has excess energy built up, whereas at her age, Mugsy often had me in tears and I took up running again just to make him a happy, almost well-behaved dog.  She has plenty of that terrier spunk, but she’s just so sweet about expressing it.  

Sissy says she still loves Lexi-Beastie

Sissy says she still loves Lexi-Beastie

While I’m babbling away and eating up your blog-reading time, I should also report that the car shopping is over.  No, there’s no purchase to announce.  I realized yesterday that I am stressing myself and the Knight out with my rather manic, OCD approach to shopping.  Around the same moment, it suddenly dawned on me that some friends from my childhood own and operate a service center that is a certified Lexus repair center, so tomorrow, Beastie goes to the doctor.  Not so long ago, we loved Beastie (aka: Lexi).  Maybe if we can correct a few of her issues for a reasonable price, we can continue on with the plan to see her to at least 100,000 miles.   In the meantime, we can casually explore auto options in as non-psycho of a fashion as I can manage.  I’ve heard rumors that some of you actually enjoy test driving vehicles and even do so when you aren’t IN the midst of a hunt for the next ride!

Phew.  That almost catches us up.  I still have a new FO to share and I completely overlooked the last shipment of the shared Wollmeise sock club, but we’ll save those for another day.

Birth-month winding down

I’d just like to thank my dear friends and family for humoring me with my efforts to celebrate my birthday all month long.  I’m quite lucky to have such generous, thoughtful friends!

Ann gave me all kinds of beautiful goodies, including another bag.  It’s from Longaberger.  Isn’t it pretty?!

She also gave me a cute keyring a friend of hers made.  I love the colors, and the bags.  It’s going to be pressed into duty tonight with my office keys for the League office.

She also gave me another pair of her earrings.  I love the color; in real life (as opposed to whatever your monitor is showing), it’s a beautiful not true red, hot pink that can be worn with everything.   You too can have your own earrings in the colors of your choice.  Just contact Ann via her blog and let her know you need a pair.

There was more too, but I’m way behind today, so there are the highlights.  Thank you Ann!  MJ also wants to know when HRH is coming back for another visit.

We’ve pretty much made a decision on the car search, but we still need to test drive one equipped at least similarly to what we want.  Then, we’ll need to decide if we want to order one or just try to find one that’s “close enough” to what we want.  However, after the Acura fiasco, I think I’ll sit on this option until we’ve nailed something down for sure.

lemons

What?  I didn’t tell you about the Acura mess, did I?  We were so sure it was going to be a perfect fit, but it wasn’t.  The seats weren’t comfortable, the trip computer was showing 9.6 MPG, and with a premium fuel requirement, that just isn’t good enough.   Add in that the salesman who waited on me earlier in the week wasn’t around, the one who was waiting on us Saturday couldn’t find the keys, and then there was no one to wait on us when we returned from the very upsetting test drive, and there’s no way I’ll do business with that dealership.  Luckily for them, I’m an honest sort, and I just dumped the key and the paperwork on a desk and walked away.

And WHY do all the American (including Toyota) car companies think that just because I want leather and cargo room, I want second row bucket seats?  That’s my serious grump, because it eliminates almost everything.

How goes your Monday?

Peeking through windows

That’s actually our favorite way to car shop.  Neither the Knight nor I like pushy salespeople, so around here, the best way to shop unmolested is on Sundays or any other time the dealerships are closed.  (No offense to any sales people or their kin…)

We spent a lot of time over the weekend peering into windows and driving through lots.   Interestingly, there’s not much we agree upon, and to refresh memories, yes the Knight has a big stake in this purchase, because he’ll drive it as much as I do, since it will be our road trip mobile as well.

Chevy HHR

Chevy HHR

THAT was my “Are you kidding me!?” moment.  The Knight seriously thought perhaps I would at least give it a test drive.  Hello?   It’s too low to the ground for starters, it’s too narrow, and it lacks cargo room, much less the ADDITIONAL cargo room I thought WE were seeking.   Now, the color’s great, but clearly the man got carried away with his  the idea that we’d prefer better fuel economy in the next ride.

2010 Chevy Equinox

2010 Chevy Equinox

THIS was seriously considered, despite its narrow size and the slight loss in cargo space (as compared to the Beastie.)  The seats are comfortable and that greatly improved MPG is hard to resist, but I just don’t think we can do narrower and a loss of cargo. 

Hyundai Veracruz

Hyundai Veracruz

I was VERY impressed with the Hyundai Veracruz, but with a touch of irony, there were none available to test drive in my area.  The local dealership has two 2008 demos, but one was on the showroom floor and the other was in the shop, having just been surrendered from its life as a demonstrator.  The salesman was also way too coy when I tried to get a better idea of just HOW much they were willing to deal since it was a demonstrator and lacked a couple of features we really wanted, but could probably live without, if our palms were properly greased.   (He’s lucky the Knight wasn’t along at that point; the Knight doesn’t do well with smart answers and slick salesmanship.)  There ends the Veracruz’s chance of coming to live at Haddon Woods.

Subaru Tribeca

Subaru Tribeca

The Subaru Tribeca remains high on my list, but the Knight wouldn’t even get out at look at it, so I’m not sure what that means.

Infiiniti FX45

Infiiniti FX45

I truly had a few minutes  hours of car lust, after we parked next to an Infiniti FX45 at dinner.  It eliminated itself via my trusty Blackberry’s happy search while we tromped through Home Depot, the Knight shopping and me whispering longingly about the beautiful java-colored leather interior I’d spied.  I didn’t really care that its fuel mileage is worse than that of most of the Knight’s big ol’ trucks, nor did I care that it wouldn’t even hold all of the loot from a big run to the grocery store.  Luckily, the Knight is immune to my whims and held firm.

Lexux RX350

Lexux RX350

Sunday evening, we also checked out several other vehicles and went home thinking that perhaps we should just suck it up and look at a newer version of Beastie.   That’s still definitely an option, but *I* still want more cargo room, and the newer models only add very small bit of cargo room and about one MPG of improved fuel economy.

Still with me?  Let me backtrack and note I eliminated the VW Touareg on sight.  It was my favorite in photos, but in person, we didn’t hit it off, and we can’t afford the TDI (diesel) option to provide even decent fuel mileage.  The Knight ditched the Honda Pilot as too wide, since I keep insisting we don’t need another full sized vehicle.

Two more hurdles, and this car update will be done.

Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9

We wanted to check out the Mazda crossovers,  but they didn’t have a CX-9 in stock, and the CX-7 is way too small.  I’m still not sure this is off the table, but as with many of these manufacturers, the features we want require a fully-loaded vehicle, which often includes features we don’t need or want.  Used is ALWAYS an option;  I like letting someone else take the depreciation hit when they drive off the lot.

Acura MDX

Acura MDX

While there, we also saw a used Acura MDX, which interestingly enough, is the vehicle that lead us to the lot where we ended up buying Beastie.   I need to wrap up this post and call and see which model it is, and whether or not it has the features we want.  Of course, I’m also going to ask about the CX-9… 

Interestingly, the Knight has decided the Ford Edge offers no extra room with extra exterior width.  I can’t decide whether I like the nose on it or not, so I think the current list looks like this (in no particular order):

  1. Subaru Tribeca, whether the Knight likes it or not.  (Of course, if he’d just SAY he doesn’t like it, that would end it, but silence means I can still consider it, right?)
  2. Another Lexus, most likely a used 330.
  3. Acura MDX
  4. Mazda CX-9

I don’t like that there are no American companies on there  (or does Mazda count?), but I haven’t checked to see where these vehicles are assembled.  It won’t be a deal-maker or breaker, but I do feel a bit guilty.

As always, I appreciate your comments and input.   I do have to note that the VW/Audi salesman was willing to check with his manager when I joked about the strange, recessed bottom cushion in the center of their Q7’s back seat, to see if I could test drive with the dogs.  (Now YOU and I know that’s out of my price range, but still…  Brownie points for not just laughing at me when I gasped over the design.)

I also have to point out that I expect this vehicle to last close to 10 years, so once you schlep through this painful process with me, hopefully we won’t do it again ANY time soon!

Steppin’ it up

… the car search, that is.  My current vehicle – aka: Beastie – is having issues more and more often.  Last night, on my way home from a late meeting, I had to stop by the firehouse and the Knight and Pissy had to slam doors repeatedly.  The interior smells like WD40, and the door sensors – for both the dome light and my auto-headlights – aren’t working much at all.  They say they’ll just “pop off the door panel and…” while I say that the trade-in value will sharply drop when I pull in with the passenger’s door panel in the floorboard.  Not to mention the fact that we buy vehicles as a team, so the driver will be up front and the other person (me, because the Knight likes to drive) will be in the back seat.

So, I need your help!  It seems the Knight has been dilgently searching and researching on his own, and he’s suggested test driving the following:

Honda Pilot – I’ve not seen it in person, but the Knight and Neighbor Guy have.  (It’s Best Thing’s dream ride.)  Great cargo room, especially with the third row down, which is how we’d use any of these vehicles 99% of the time.

Subaru Tribeca – Another I’ve not seen in person, and we’re having difficulty locating one with what we want, just to test drive.   Sadly, it’s the only Subaru that has what we’re looking for.

Volkswagen Touareg 2 – Another we can’t find locally to drive.   I like the idea of having something that’s not parked in all of my friend’s driveways though, and I believe it is the only one that is even available with ALL the options I want.  (The passkey thingee is hard to find.)

 

Ford Edge – I think this is the front-runner for the Knight, if for no other reason than the fact that the dealership is down the road, and we happen to be pretty tight with at least one of the mechanics at said dealership.  I’m fickle about the exterior styling on this one; one day I like it, the next day, I think it looks like it is just hovering over the wheels.

The Knight found one with TWO sunroofs, and that really made him happy.  I think the girls would enjoy their own place in the sun, but would it warm the car up considerably?   And then there’s Sync, which I was very impressed with HERE.

I’d welcome your input.  We’ve never owned a Honda, Subarau or Volkswagen.  VW and Ford have dealerships very near work, so that’s a plus.  The Subaru dealership we’d use offers free loaners, so that’s a plus too. 

I do know a few people with Pilots and they love ’em, but honestly?  I don’t like the new model’s “nose.”  I think it’s too square and harsh.  Frankly though, none of these vehicles are head-turners, in my opinion; that’s not important to me. 

In case you are keeping score, I have indeed put off an FO report yet again.  Soon, along with a review of one of my birthday presents that I think several of you will enjoy, right Stacey

So, what are your weekend plans?  We’ll likely test drive at least one of these beasts in between a couple of social commitments, a book signing, and a meeting.

Whatever you do, enjoy!