shiny baubles

Shiny baubles

Out with the old, in with the new

Sometimes you just have to indulge yourself.

Earlier this summer, Consumer Reports published a report on gas grills, and one of the grills rated a "Best Buy" was from Lowes at what seemed a reasonable price. Now, I have been itching to replace the grill that came with the house (and therein lies a tale: see sidebar). It was old, grungy, didn't heat evenly, and grilled foods always seemed to be over-done or under-done, never just right. And it was small. On the other hand, the Best Buy grill was shiny and capacious.

old grill Old grill awaits its fate at the curb
new grill New grill, shiny and big

How could I resist? A day later the delivery truck pulled up at the curb and the Char-Broil was unloaded. A trip to the hardware store to replace the rusted fitting on the gas pipe later, it was ready to fire up. With four burners (five, counting the side burner), it's like having an outdoor kitchen for some serious grilling and chilling.

Then I got a most unusual letter from the Toyota dealer — they wanted to buy back my Prius and make me a sweet, sweet deal on a new car or truck of my choice. It seemed too good to be true, and I ignored the letter. Two weeks later, I got another letter — last chance! Besides, just for coming in, they would give me a gift card for the Cheesecake Factory. Well, it couldn't hurt to find out what this is all about, could it?

In a word, yes. I put on my game face and went in to see what this was all about. As I had figured out, it seems that with gas over $3 per gallon, everybody wants a Prius but not everybody can afford a new one, and there just aren't any used ones to be had. So, the idea was to create an inventory of used Priuses by offering sweetheart deals. After a great deal of hemming and hawing and trips to "see if my manager'll accept this" a deal was struck.

But a funny thing happened next. It seems that the car I drove and agreed to buy was already under a deposit from someone else who had not yet taken delivery. No problem, they said, we'll find one just like it! It'll only take a day or two at the most.... Ha! And the check is in the mail! Four days later it was time to yank some chains. We're still looking, they explained, none of the dealers has what you want. Just another couple of days....

Wednesday night I got a call, We have your car, you can come down and pick it up. At nine o'clock at night? Yes, we're here until ten.

Buying a car is a lot like buying a house with waivers and disclosures galore. And while it doesn't cost quite as much as a house, you could have bought a house not many years ago for what a new car costs today. After signing my life away, I bade farewell to Penelope and drove home in—

Cleopatra Cleopatra

My new silver Prius!

If you're thinking that my new Prius looks a lot like my old Prius, you're quite right. In fact, they are what my momma used to call "spittin' images" of each other. There are a lot of enhancements, but no dramatic style differences. The new one does have leather seats, and the navigation system is greatly improved. She now understands verbal commands much better. For example, if you say "Italian restaurants" she shows the icons for Italian restaurants instead of saying something bizarre like, "Now showing gas station icons." And you can even type names and phone numbers directly into the phone book (doh!) instead of having to transfer them from your cell phone.

Cautioning me every single time is still stupid — but now Cleo speaks three languages!

The gas gauge and gear indicator have swapped positions — why?
The maps are clearer and easier to read
New! Back-up camera — but "check surroundings for safety"

Finding a name was a challenge. Penelope really fit the voice, but you can't just keep naming your cars Penelope. I finally settled on Cleopatra, a real seductress and capable of making life miserable for those who got on her wrong side.