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When visiting Mom's house, prepare for prehistoric appliances

Tammy Swift, Forum columnist.

The minute I saw the TV, I knew we were in trouble.

My mother has upgraded almost every television in her large bed-and-breakfast with modern flat-screens, save this one bedroom.

The room — located in the back of the house, decorated with oil paintings of pheasants and outfitted with extra-long twin beds — is a favorite of hunters during pheasant season. It is probably the most no-frills room in her B&B, and the men who stay there don't mind a bit.

After all, they aren't there for whirlpool baths and mints on their pillows. They're there for fresh air, the proverbial thrill of the hunt, a firm bed and a nice, hot, home-cooked breakfast.

And so it makes sense that the "Hunters' Room" has the oldest TV. The type of bulky, old-school television that redefines HDTV as Horribly Dated TV. The type of television that people leave out at the end of their driveway during cleanup week — and it stays there long after someone has picked up the broken-down mattress or the stained rug beside it.

And you know what? After that week had passed, the person who finally picked up that TV to haul it home would probably be my mother.

Mom is nothing if not thrifty. Long before it became trendy to recycle, restore and repurpose, my mother was saving wrapping paper and dishwashing sporks. She doesn't bother with expiration dates on food. Instead, she relies on the most powerful food-safety device in the modern world: her Mom Nose. Her perceptive proboscis can detect a milk about to curdle, a bacterium about to throw an orgy or a melon about to molder at 40 paces.

Although she's a masterful cook, she still uses utensils, Tupperware and dishes from the '70s. Her house includes several midcentury modern pieces — not because they are trendy again, but because she never got rid of the originals.

Our family likes to joke about the "Pink Chair of Death," a plush rocking chair that is dangerously tippy. In its colorful 15-year career, this instrument of torture has thrown more family members than a world-class bucking bronco.

When we bought mom a new chair in hopes she would replace it, Mom simply wedged the new recliner into their new space — right alongside the pink chair. Her explanation was simple: "Dad and I like that chair."

I kid her, but the fact is thrift has served her well. She was born into a large German-Russian farm family on the scuffed-up heels of the Depression, and so she learned to never waste. She managed to raise five children without breaking the bank precisely because she knew how to save and economize.

And so I felt a bit guilty when I judged her for her avocado-green Corelle or the TV purchased especially to watch the first-season finale of "American Idol."

Even so, as someone who is shamelessly spoiled on newfangled things like 4K resolution and Alexa voice control, it was difficult to return to old technology. For one thing, the appliance needed to be controlled with no fewer than three TV remotes, which were likely operated via a series of dippy birds and steam engines.

At least Mom had helpfully labeled the remotes. One was specifically to turn on the TV. The other was to turn the channel. And, most frustrating of all, none of the remotes controlled volume, so you had to get up and manually change the television anyway. With your legs and your arms, like some sort of HGTV-watching caveman.

Forget Alexa technology. At Mom's house, it's more like T. rexa technology.

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