Back in the Dark Ages

Prairie Wool

Helen Row Toews

Buying a new appliance is an important investment. Especially since there are so many choices these days. When I was a kid, back in the Dark Ages, we scrubbed clothes on a rock by the creek and stored our food in a subterranean pit — well, that’s a gross exaggeration, but appliances were a lot simpler then, than they are today.

As an example I must tell you that as I stood in a friend’s kitchen several months ago, admiring her new refrigerator and listening to all its capabilities, I realized with unhappy surprise that this glorified icebox had more skills than me.

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An eight-inch touch-screen displayed the current temperature and knew the upcoming forecast. The family’s favorite music echoed off the walls from its powerful sound system. She showed me a view of their front step where we saw her daughter petting the dog before my friend called the girl inside, all accomplished from the fridge door.

I saw pictures from the family’s photo album, not stuck there with a bunch of haphazard magnets like I have, but by using smart-screen technology. She flicked through a few TV shows, remotely looked in on the baby, and checked for emails – all from her flippin’ fridge.

I asked why their sofa hadn’t been hauled in front of this sturdy kitchen appliance, so the family could gather round the LED glow of the ice dispenser to spend quality time at the obvious center of their home, their refrigerator.

Looking at me with stiff disapproval for my mocking tone, she continued to say that since it was hooked up to Wi-Fi, she could tell it to look up recipes, create her weekly shopping list or, in fact, ask it any question she liked and receive an immediate reply. I mean, I’ve asked questions at my fridge door too, most often wondering aloud why I was standing there at all, but I sure as heck didn’t expect an answer, immediate or otherwise. My fridge doesn’t dabble in television programming or offer traffic updates. It just keeps stuff cold.

Next, I sat with my friend Esther who complained bitterly about her shiny new washing machine.

 “Naturally the old one quit while I was doing a load of towels,” she griped. “Had to wring every one out by hand, but still, I didn’t want something with all these stupid buttons. I don’t need to know how much my clothes weigh, start it remotely while I’m at the grocery store, or create a four digit PIN to use it — I just want to wash a few clothes. Is that too much to ask?”

I nodded sympathetically, but secretly wished I had the machine. My washer doesn’t know when to quit. A while back something went wrong with the shutoff valve and the water never stops flowing. If I don’t manually turn off the tap at the correct moment in time, I need hip waders to get across the kitchen to reach it. It takes a lot of liquid to float an oven I can assure you, but I’ve watched it happen. Many times I’ve sat bolt upright at 2 a.m., my heart racing as I try to remember if I turned the blasted water off. This sort of thing takes years off your life.

So, do your research, choose an appliance and enjoy all of the modern conveniences, folks. Guess I’ll have to stay back here in the Dark Ages.

Helen’s newly released books of her humorous anecdotes are available on Amazon as Prairie Wool Books or through her website  myprairiewool.com. Helen has lived on the family farm near Marshall much of her life. She works as a writer, EA and bus driver for her local school. This, along with her love of the Canadian prairies, travel and all things humorous, is what she draws from to write these tales.

 

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