I have a microwave oven in the kitchen manufactured by Montgomery Wards.
It was my grandmotherís. I strongly suspect it was the original. Itís not far detached from a Navy shipís radar array. I think if you could operate it with the door open, birds would fall smoking from the sky for a mile around, and my DNA would be twisted into a pretzel.
I remember when my grandmother got it. It was the first microwave oven any of us had ever seen. Itís a big appliance, heavy as the dickens, but you could cook a 20 pound turkey in that baby. The lights in the house dim momentarily when I turn it on.
There used to be a set of cards for it that, if you poked them into a little slot on the front, would program the thing for recipes. Youíd get a card that said "20 Pound Turkey" and stick it in the little slot, turn it on, and the thing would do all the work for you. Itís got a heavy glass shelf in the middle, too, which is convenient. I donít know what happened to the cards. I probably threw them away when I discovered there was not a card for "gumbo."
Iím very attached to the old thing. I will cry when it goes belly-up. I donít like those dinky new microwaves, the ones the size of a hatbox. What can you do with that? Roast a Cornish hen, at best. Granted, my electricity bill may go down by 30 percent, but what the hey?
My grandparents were also the first in the family to have a color television and the first refrigerator with ice water and ice cube dispensers on the front door. I loved that fridge when I was a kid, and drank so much cold, iced water I spent a lot of time in the bathroom.
The color television was a treat, too. We didnít get a color set at home until I was in my teens. But we had an old Catalina that had a stereo console built in, which amounted to a radio and a turntable. I used to play my records on it, and my father would complain about "that damn noise" but he let me play it. Heíd just retreat to the shop while I did.
Also in the kitchen is a gas stove. I canít cook on an electric stove. Ruin supper every time. Itís not a fancy one, by any stretch. In fact, when I went to buy it, I searched high and low for a gas stove that looked sorta old fashioned. I had spent considerable time and effort making my kitchen kinda woodsy, you know, like a cottage or a cabin. I wasnít about to put some new-fangled, black-glassed thing with a digital display and touch-contact buttons in there. I found one that has no buttons at all, and it has Ė brace yourself Ė knobs! I like knobs, not buttons. Buttons are for calculators and computers. Knobs are for stoves, forever and ever, amen.
If theyíd put a snooze button on a walnut grandfather clock, Iíd have one of those, instead of my little digital clock-radio on my nightstand.
Under the kitchen cabinet is a can opener that I canít seem to operate correctly all the time. Sometimes I stick a can under it and it makes a perfect, automatic cut around the rim. Other times I fight it, and struggle with it and cuss it, and I end up with the top looking like Popeyeís spinach can after he used his pipe as a blow torch to open it.
Not long ago my trusty coffee pot bit the dust, so I went to get another. I donít like it. The coffee doesnít taste as good, and the design was obviously concocted by a complete moron. You have to lift the entire top to pour the water in and put the coffee filter and grinds in. It wonít clear the kitchen cabinet when I open it, so I have to pull it to the edge of the counter top and turn it sideways to fix coffee. Aggravating. It also does not have an automatic shut off like my other pot did, so I have to be careful about remembering to turn it off before I leave for work in the morning. Frustrating. Iím thinking on getting a percolator. Now that was a coffee pot! Drip coffee is pseudo-coffee anyway. My grandmother on my momís side, Eremise, would hand-drip her coffee. The aroma was heavenly.
Donít get me wrong. Iím not a Neanderthal. I donít rip 14-foot cypress planks with a handsaw, I use my table saw. I donít cross-cut lumber with a handsaw, either, and I donít sand by hand unless I have to. But if I had my druthers, Iíd plow up the back yard and grow tobacco, cocoa and coffee beans. I would then make my own cigars, chocolate bars and coffee.
Some modern conveniences are nice. Iím near-blind enough now that I am grateful for big television screens. I donít know what Iíd do without a cordless drill. How in the world did we handymen get anything done with a corded drill, for Peteís sake? I just donít recall it. And to put a Phillips head bit on a cordless drill to drive screws makes you thank your lucky stars that you donít have to use a screwdriver anymore.
My carpenterís calculator is the greatest thing. I was always terrible at math, and donít even think of throwing fractions at me. To this day I canít do long division. But with my carpenterís calculator I can actually divide fractional feet and inches on a base of 12, and if I want, convert the result to meters or decimals. But I still have to measure thrice and cut twice.
I do like audio electronics, though. I love CDs and receivers and speakers. While I prefer quiet and solitude, I have to admit that Bostonís Long Time on my living room stereo is a cathartic experience.
Guess Iím kind of a hybrid old-fogey. Pass the remote, please. I wanna go watch This Old House.