And other tidbits from my life at the end of September.

Perhaps I’m overstating the importance of this, but I’m certain those of you who’ve seen our garage interior will be suitably impressed when I tell you that I’ve cleaned the thing, and we are now storing both the 626 and the ES 300 in there. Cleaning the garage was neither easy nor quick, but I got it done over the weekend thanks to my parents’ willingness to come over and watch Jonah. We still have a lot of junk stored in the garage, but it’s neatly piled here and there. Since our garbage can is only so big, I’ll be carefully stuffing the living bejeezes out of it every week until we’ve got a little more room to maneuver.

Speaking of cars, does anyone else want to shoot the Volkswagon exec who names their autos? Toe-rag? Excuse me? You couldn’t come up with another something palatable to Americans like Beetle or Jetta? We didn’t have enough trouble with Cabriolet? Pretty name, but if you use the same French convention doesn’t that make the Passet passé? Has nobody at VW studied the case of the Merkur, a fine European auto name that was virtually unpronounceable for North Americans? (And whose flag ship was the XR4Ti, presenting consumers then a combination of unpronounceability and meaningless techno-babble.) I can already see the VW advertising company folks beating their heads against their desks when they heard the name of the Toe-rag. Why? Thump. Why? Thump. Why? Thump. Any time you see ad campaign where they’re having to educate consumers about how to pronounce the name of the product, you’re seeing a product starting with one foot in the grave. It’s worth noting that I’ve seen the VW ad several times, and I can’t tell you if the Toe-rag is a station wagon, minivan, SUV, sedan, or sports car. I think it’s an SUV, but I’ve been so distracted by the name thing that I can’t tell you squat about the vehicle. And yes, I know it’s pronounced Tour-egg. Not much of a step forward.

I tried out some Meguiar’s Endurance Tire Shine on the 626’s tires the other day. These are 100,000 mile Z100s with about 50,000 on them. They’re excellent (and recommended, btw). The Tire Shine stuff lives up to its billing. The things look like new. It’s only been a few days, but so far the results have been incredibly impressive, and I would guess that once-a-month treatment with this stuff would keep things looking spiffy. Check it out.

We’ve not even made our first car payment, but I’ve already refinanced our auto loan. USAA bent its rules to give us a 4.5 percent rate and since there’s no escrow account for them to screw up this time I figured it was worth saving the interest. Like every refi this is going to mean me juggling some money for the next month or so until we get into a regular payment schedule, but I seem to excel at such juggling, so lucky me. I’ll be happier once we’ve got the autopay running, things are being drafted from our checking account, and I can see exactly what our budget looks like. I’ve a good idea, but I like seeing the reality of it anyway.

Speaking of refinancing and escrow accounts, our Oregon property tax bill hits the fan next month. Depending upon the amount, our escrow shortfall will be somewhere between $2000 and $3000. I’m not keen on having to pay that out of pocket when our account is re-analyzed in early November, but I’m consoling myself by considering it an interest-free loan since USAA will be fronting all the necessary tax dollars in the interim. Also buoying my mood considerably is the loan itself. By my calculations we’ve got just 7.5 years to go before we own the house free-and-clear.

Turning to day-to-day news, Jonah continues to monopolize the headlines. He’s working on his eye-hand coordination a lot nowadays, and it’s starting to get to the point where you have to be a little careful what you put him in reach of. He’s smiling, laughing, and gabbing a fair amount. He’s started to get a little ticklish around the ribs. His head seems bigger to me, but then again, he’s not exactly shrinking elsewhere. We’re having a little trouble getting him off to sleep at nights, but barring perhaps one wake-up in the 10-11 PM range, he’s still out for the night. He’s eating like a horse, and keeping him fed is one of every day’s big activities. He travels in the car exceedingly well. He’s teething, with his two lower front teeth poking up. No more toothless grins!

Erin’s school year is off to an outstanding start. It can’t be easy, but she’s done an amazing job balancing work and home. Somewhere over the course of the last couple years she hit her stride as a teacher. At this point, she’s just great at what she does. Kids in her classes who are willing to work come away with a solid if not spectacular educational improvement. It’s early yet, but even with our responsibilities to Jonah, I think this has all the earmarks of another terrific year for her.

Running while providing primary care for Jonah has proved challenging. Thanks to my parents’ occasional help, I’ve been able to keep the business running without issue. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the tough thing for me has been recording music. I can (and do) play a lot of piano during the day, but getting down into the studio has proved near impossible. Maybe I’ll be able to swing it on a weekend or something. Presently I don’t have a plan, and I need to get one. But otherwise, life is grand, and I can hardly complain. Not with two cars in the garage.