if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life is what happens when your'e making other plans...

I want to write a book called "What Ive been doing instead of writing". It would be excellent reading to fellow procrastinators and cause throat clearing and critical eyebrow movement from academic superiors and checkbook monitoring spouses. Yesterday's chapter would be called "Improv Auction".
Having just gone to the library for my new study materials on Maori culture, I was happy with the variety of books Id gotten: cookbook, weaving, history and Waihine goddesses. I was navigating the gray city of New Lynn, which I am not very familiar, with when I was routed all over the place, due to road closure. I opted for a street that didn't have cars lined up in a detour route. Not knowing where I was going at all gave me the perfect orientation to go anywhere. This time it was the Green Bay Auction house. The building had panels of small windows and there were all kinds of things showing through. The doors were wide open and there was parking, so naturally I had to park and peek. As it turned out there was an auction that had just started in progress. I had the notion that I might find an under priced gas deck oven for my top secret plan to have a bootleg pizza operation a couple of nights a week. The Karekare community is itching to get together and the closest pizza is 35 minutes away (and the closest really decent pizza, over an hour away).
I got my orientation to auctions from providing catering services for the Funk and Junk auctions in the early days of my Katrina'srestaurant. There is a certain camaraderie that happens once the auctioneer starts swiftly moving through the items. I'm talking about miscellaneous gadgets, tools and collectibles here, not precious artworks. I remember Michael Adams as an auctioneer, how his wit crept out and made even the most hardened curmudgeon crack a smile by the time the affair was over. People are suspended in a balance between pointed interest and passive curiosity as they watch things get auctioned off. Ive bought plenty of things at auction that I never would have looked for otherwise. Some items are favorite tools that even got lugged all the way to New Zealand like the sturdy copper saucepan and lid from the Cliff House restaurant. It had a critical role in our camping days of the first four months in the New country. Sometimes it poached perfect eggs, sometimes it helped with Desmond's car sickness (thank god for the lid). It has seen all the facets if the Alexander-Stone family. I have bought both functioning and non functioning musical instruments. My advice is to decline purchases that include the thought "I could just get it fixed".

Yesterday, the crowd at the auction house was a mix of men of exotic ethnic origin and dress, congregating on the left side, and white women, over on the right. The men, mostly Middle Eastern and Asian bid on tools and office equipment and the odd waffle cone maker, while the white women had fierce bidding zeal for things like busts (of Beethoven?) and antique toy prams. I saw some screamin deals get made. I went to the food counter at the back, run by an old old woman. She was a dear and I absolutely had to get a slice of tender orange cake with pale orange frosting and a cup of instant coffee. In other circumstances, the cake would be easy to pass by as not worth the calories, but this scene legitimized it, somehow. I asked the woman about her offerings, "What are those desserts, there?" and she said: "Vegetable and Ham and egg". I took my cake and coffee over to the "men's side" and sat down. I thought about the school work calling, I thought about our two student budget, I checked out the drills, pressure washers, miscellaneous box lots and garden tools in a case. I chuckled at the auctioneer's wit and at some people severe faces. I ended up with a dandy office chair on wheels with up and down capacity and a box of Crown Lynn ceramic door knobs, which I think I can sell online. I spent $37.00. It was an hour or so departure from routine. Maybe it was fiction writing research. Yeah that's exactly what it was....

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