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  • Canned Peaches

    January 29, 2007

    At what point in life do you start keeping canned peaches in the bathroom? And what does it mean?

    a) Collecting canned goods is my hobby
    b) I spend way too much time at the grocery store
    c) Sometimes I crave peaches at the mostly unlikely of times
    d) All of the above.

    On a recent visit to Tuna, I opened the linen closet in my father-in-law’s bathroom expecting to find, oh I don’t know, a washcloth or a towel or maybe even a Q-Tip. But no. Out rolled a #10 can of peaches onto my foot.

    Given that, I couldn’t resist the urge to snoop see what else might be lurking therein. Sure enough, there was a cache of Christmas presents dating back to 1998 (an impressive museum of Ronco gadgets, World’s Best Dad statues and soap on a rope) as well as a case of Allen’s green beans. It was like a little mini-convenience store. I almost expected to find a man named Apu and a Slurpee machine in the back.

    In the same way that life is about the journey and not the destination, and as hunting is about the thrill of the chase and not the catch, Papa George, my father-in-law, is not so much about the procurement of edibles, but about the bargain. And ladies, you yourself know that when you find a bargain, the first thing you want to do is burn up the phone lines to spread the good news. Papa George is no different. Except that for him it’s about canned goods and not shoes.

    AM: Hello.
    PG: Kroger got purple hull peas on three for 39.
    AM: Oh. Hi George. How ya doin’?
    PG: Smithfield bone-in ham, 99 cents a pound.
    AM: Oh me? I’m fine. My throat is a little sore. Thinking about seeing a doctor.
    PG: Allen green beans, the big cans, 49, usually 69.
    AM: Sean’s fine too. He’s at school today.
    PG: Love ya. Bye.
    AM: Love ya too Papa George. Bye.

    It’s Papa George’s own sort of love language. If he’s not calling to give you the market report, he doesn’t like you that much.

    But I digress. We were talking about peaches. It’s hard to imagine how one could wander off a topic as fascinating as that.

    Yes. So then. In case there is a quiz later, the answers to the original questions.

    From what I can surmise, the point in life at which one starts keeping peaches in the bathroom is about the same time the social security checks start rolling in. Now I know what you’re thinking – I would never keep peaches in my bathroom. Just wait until you get that AARP invitation before you start making judgements.

    And what does it mean? I don’t know. But, it’s really convenient when you get a hankerin’ for peaches while taking a bubble bath.

    Therapy With A Side Of Cold Cream

    November 29, 2006

    My mother-in-law, Cleo, has owned a cosmetics and clothing business on Main Street in downtown Tuna for more than 25 years. She has enjoyed a fair measure of success for a variety of reasons.

    One, she can flat out sell. That woman could sell the devil a Bible and then he would order a few more for gifts. Two, Papa George stands squarely behind her, encouraging her and supporting her every step of the way. Three, she understands that she is not selling clothes and cosmetics, but hope and dreams. And four, the good people of Tuna need some place where they can get therapy and a makeover at the same time.

    A bell tied to the front door, clinkles and clankles, announcing the arrival of each customer. She greets them by name. “Helloooow there! Come in!” she calls from behind the counter looking over the top of her rhinestone bifocals. She asks about their children, their grandchildren. She knows them.

    Usually the first customer of the day is some old farmer wearing bib overalls. That might seem odd if you were at the mall, but no one in downtown Tuna blinks an eye to see a farmer in a boutique. His wife has sent him in with an empty powder compact that he pulls out of the pocket on the front of his overalls. Cleo knows exactly what to replace it with without even looking at it. His wife has bought the same product in the same shade for the last 25 years.

    He pulls up a stool at the makeover counter to rest and chat. He leans on his cane and Cleo leans on the counter to hear the latest. His wife has cancer, but she is hanging in there he says. Cleo listens and offers him a piece of homemade fudge. There’s nothing that George’s fudge won’t make better. Cleo rings up the makeup and walks him to the door. “You hang in there now. We’re a’prayin’ for you,” she says as he makes his way out the door.

    Ever so often, some young gal will come in with her head hanging low. She’ll pull up a stool at the cosmetics counter and pour out her woes all over the eye shadow counter. Like a good bartender, Cleo listens. Her husband has left her. He took the dog. Cleo gives her a piece of homemade fudge and pats her arm.

    Fifteen minutes later, her woes have been replaced with a new face and a new blouse. When you’re living your life out in a country and western song, a bag of cosmetics and a new blouse will fix most all that ails you. She hugs Cleo as she leaves the store. “Keep your chin up gal!” Cleo calls to her. She has made a customer and she has made a friend.

    You can’t get that at the mall.

    The entire Tuna series can be found at the Best of Antique Mommy

    Your Personal Tuna Shopper

    November 28, 2006

    While I was in Tuna recently, as a service to my readers, I scoured the retail landscape looking for this year’s must-have holiday gift for that very special someone in your life who has everything. No need to thank me.

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Today’s featured item is this one of a kind hand crafted item made completely of seashells! Place him jauntily atop the washer or beside the sofa on the front porch to welcome visitors. Nothings says You Are Special like a seashell Collie. $17.50. Shipping not included.

    Check back throughout the season for more weird crap one of a kind hard to find speciality items shipped directly to your doorstep from downtown Tuna.

    Antique Mommy
    Your Personal Tuna Shopper

    It’s Not A Party Without Properly Cleaned Switchplates

    November 26, 2006

    If you’ve been reading this blog very long, you know that Antique Daddy and I are both kind of obsessive compulsive. He is an obsessive wiper downer and I’m obsessive about orderliness. It would probaby be okay if we just limited this brand of craziness to our own house, but we don’t. And that makes us delightful house guests. If you want your bathroom linen closet rearranged and wiped down.

    Over Thanksgiving we stayed with Aunt Jean who is in her mid-80s. Her schedule rivals that of Condoleeza Rice. The woman is busy and does not have time to be bothered with a misfolded towel or a water spot on the counter. Enter the Antiques.

    The day after Thanksgiving, Aunt Jean hosted the annual gathering of the cousins. About 35 people descended upon her house like a horde of pimento cheese-eating locusts. Since we were staying with her, we “helped” her get ready for the gathering. By helped I mean that I arranged the sandwich tray so that it was symmetrical and Antique Daddy wiped down everything.

    The next morning as we were eating breakfast, we basked in the glory of the success of the event. Aunt Jean agreed. “Yes indeed,” she said, “The party was a big success and I think we owe it all the fact that Antique Daddy unscrewed all the switch plates and wiped behind them.”

    Zing! Oh to be so quick and snarky. I bow at her feet and pray that my son might have inherited some of her DNA. And that just a smidge might rub off on me by proximity.

    Blackened Tuna

    While many of you were up at the bobo crack of dawn on Black Friday scoring iPods for $3.99 and flat screen TVs for $30, I was warm and cozy in my bed.  I was in Tuna and in Tuna the stores do not open before 10am for any reason. Whatsoever.

    On the other hand…

    When I got to the shopping district in downtown Tuna, I pretty much had the place to myself. And the merchandise, well, let’s just call it one-of-a-kind and leave it at that. 

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Who doesn’t want a Ronald McDonald head to accessorize that forgotten corner of the house?  I would suggest adding a cigarette to the the little screw coming out of his mouth for a bit of whimsey. 

    I did meet a nice family of mannequins (whom I may introduce another time, they were really quite lovely and eager to pose for pictures) and I scored a big bag of vintage linens and aprons for just a few dollars. No, I don’t collect vintage linens and aprons.  I have no idea why I bought them.  The mannequins talked me into it.

    Tuna Turkey

    November 22, 2006

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Over the river and through the woods to Memaw and Papa George’s house we go!

    We are off to Greater Tuna for Thanksgorging! I’ll be back here on Monday with more Tuna Tales. In the meantime, if you’ve missed the Tuna Chronicles, you can read them here.

    Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

    Antique Mommy

    Socializing In Tuna

    August 24, 2006

    The fifth installment in a series that looks at life in a small town in Texas.

    Never let it be said there is nothing to do in Tuna. Between the funerals and hospitalizations, the fun just never stops. Here’s a typical day:

    6am – Get up. Read newspaper and check obituaries.

    7am – Drive to Whataburger and drink coffee with the cronies. Talk about a) who died this week and b) who is in the hospital and fixin’ to die. Discuss what to eat for lunch. Describe in detail what you ate for dinner last night.

    9am – Go home and bake a cake to bring to the hospital for the people in group b.

    10am – Arrive at the hospital with cake. Joy ride in the hospitality golf cart. Try to get free medical advice from anyone wearing scrubs who happens to pass by.

    11am – Reconvene with Whataburger cronies in the hospital waiting room and enjoy cake and free hospital coffee.

    12am – Break for lunch at Aunt Clydes. Talk about what you would like to eat for dinner tonight. Round table discussion on what everyone ate for breakfast.

    1pm – Go home and put on funeral leisure suit with clip-on tie and dress cowboy boots.

    2pm – Attend funeral and post funeral feeding with cronies.

    4pm – Meet cronies for dinner at Furr’s Cafeteria. Discuss what to eat for breakfast in the morning. Reminisce about what you ate for lunch.

    6pm – Get home in time for Wheel of Fortune.

    7pm – Call all the cronies to make sure no one died since Wheel of Fortune.

    8pm – Go to bed.

    Partyanimals_3The Tuna Social Committee

    Hungy for more Tuna?  Check out Best of Antique Mommy.

    How To Be A Rock Star In Tuna

    August 1, 2006

    The fourth installment in a series that looks at life in a small town in Texas.

    If you ever find yourself in Texas, and you’re really hungry and you want good food and plenty of it, what you do is drive to the nearest small town, check the obituaries and then head to the church for the post funeral feeding. Wear an outdated and ill-fitting suit of clothes and look appropriately pitiful and you’ll blend right in. If you arouse any suspicion, you can always deflect it by complimenting the potato salad:

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I know you. How did you know Bubba Ray?”

    “This is the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten! Who made it?”

    “Whell! (sniff) Erleta Winslow made that, and it’s okay, if you like your potato salad dry and bland like that, bless her heart and all. You wait right here (calling over her shoulder). Let me get you some of my potato salad. I make mine with a pinch of dill. Can I bring you anything else? Refill your tea maybe? Some pie?”

    Before you know it, you’ll have four or five church ladies armed with bowls of potato salad fawning all over you. Small town people take their recipes very seriously and the church cookbook is the Who’s Who In Greater Tuna. The absolute worst social faux pas in Tuna is bringing store bought cookies to the church picnic. Your reputation would be forever sullied. Prayers like this would be offered up on your behalf in the ladies groups: Dear God, please bless poor Leona Fay. Either her oven or her mind is on the blink and we just ask that you restore her either way.

    George, my father-in-law, is a Tuna rock star. He’s got so many recipes in the First Avenue Church of Tuna cookbook that they finally set a limit. Sitting in his den the other day, he leaned forward in his recliner and beckoned me towards him. Then looking over each shoulder, he whispered to me in a low voice and confided that he had submitted some of his recipes in my mother-in-law’s name to get around the limit. I might have gasped and clapped my hand over my mouth if I had understood what a scandalous thing this was. It wasn’t scandalous that George was blatantly swan diving through a church cookbook committee loophole, but that my mother-in-law goes to The Second Avenue Church of Tuna. So in my ignorance I said, “Oh really?”

    Small town churches have a rivalry that goes far beyond that of Texas high school football, which is saying a lot, since both are considered religious activities. Being a Midwestern Catholic, I don’t really understand either. This became obvious when I attended the funeral of an elderly relative awhile back.

    After the funeral, the family gathered in the basement of the Second Avenue Church of Tuna for the post funeral feeding. One of the church ladies sashayed by my table to refill my tea and asked me how my meal was. I told her it was wonderful, especially the potato salad, and thank you so much for doing this. Instead of just shutting up like a normal person, I asked her if the recipe was from the First Avenue Church of Tuna cookbook (Antique Daddy, quit kicking me!) which is so good and has so many good recipes (would you please quit kicking me?) I’ll bet this good potato salad came from the good First Avenue Church cookbook (stop with the nudging and the kicking dude) and maybe I could buy one while I’m here. In fact, maybe I’ll buy several for gifts, they’re just that good!

    She stopped pouring the tea, slammed down the pitcher, looked me squarely in the eye and through gritted teeth hissed, “Whell! I wouldn’t know!” Then she spun around and marched off.

    I turned to Antique Daddy who was leaning on his elbows with his head in his hands. “What just happened here, dude?” I asked. “I just complimented the potato salad. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do?”

    He shook his head at my embarrassing blunder. “This is the Second Avenue Church of Tuna,” he said hanging his head. “We’re never going to get pie now.”

    * * *

    Hungry for more Tuna?  Go to the Best of Antique Mommy to see the whole series.

    Keeping Time In Tuna

    June 2, 2006

     
    100_4842a_2 I never hate Wal-Mart more than when I am in downtown Tuna.

    Across the country, small town Main Street has been decimated by the big hairy ape that is Wal-Mart and Tuna is no different. The old historic buildings that line Main Street, that once teemed with the life blood of the town — the Mom and Pop businesses — now stand as a silent, empty and decaying tribute to capitalism at it’s best, or worst, depending upon your point of view.

    One thing I really like about doing business on Main Street in downtown Tuna is that there is no one standing at the entrance of the store handing me a little yellow smiley face sticker if I come in with a bag. We all know what those smiley face stickers mean: We don’t trust you. In Tuna, trust is the currency and a handshake is your receipt.

    Awhile back, I had several watches (and by several I mean seven) that needed batteries replaced. What is more absurd than the fact that we have seven dead watches, is that neither Antique Daddy nor I even wear a watch most of the time, yet we feel that we need to have seven in working order in case there were to be some sort of wrist watch emergency.

    When I took my comatose watch collection to a local jeweler in the metroplex to have the batteries replaced, I was astonished by the degree to which they could over-promise and under-deliver a simple service. After several attempts and as many phone calls to get the jewelers to perform the requested service, I tired of their excuses. I finally retrieved the dead and dying watches and brought them home where they would be more comfortable and I could mourn them privately. I happened to mention this to George, my father-in-law, and he suggested that I bring them up to Tuna to the Main Street jeweler, whom he described as a “good ole’ Baptist boy.” So that’s what I did.

    When I walked into the Tuna Credit Jewelers, it was like stepping back into time 50 years. The hardwood floors creaked and dipped where countless feet had worn a path to the front counter over the course of more than 100 years. Behind the counter sat the owner, whose father and his father and his father before him had probably sat in the same cracked green leather chair. Most of the merchandise looked as though it had been there for at least that long.

    I told the man that George had sent me. “Oh, George, of course,” he said with almost no inflection. I explained to him that I had some watches that needed to have batteries replaced and I handed them over the counter to him. He peered at me over his bifocals, blinked a couple of times and then said, “Okay.” They say that a lot in Tuna and I like that.

    Then he asked me if I would like to wait. It was my turn to blink. I was thinking about the jewelers in the metroplex and how they kept my watches for a week and then another week and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to wait that long. Then I realized he meant wait, like for twenty minutes. I said, no I had to go see Floydine down at the bank and I would100_4851a_2 come back later. He nodded knowingly and again he said “Okay.” And then I waited for him to write me a receipt for my precious seven watches that I was entrusting to a complete stranger.

    We stared at each other for a few awkward seconds like a couple about to kiss for the first time. I stammered nervously and waved my hands in a gesture that made it appear as though I were waxing an invisible car.

     “Um, do you think, that maybe, I could have a receipt? For my. Um, you know. Seven. Uh. Watches? If it’s not…. toomuchtrouble.” He looked puzzled. Perhaps because all of a sudden English didn’t seem to be my first language.

    He quickly scribbled something on one of those generic pale green reciept pads, tore it off with great precision and handed it to me. I folded it twice and stuffed it into my pocket without even looking at it as a display of trust. I did not want to risk insulting the stranger now in possession of my seven stupid watches.

    As I headed down Main Street, I pulled the receipt out of my pocket and looked at it. On it was written “watches” punctuated with a little smiley face. I guess that’s about as official as a handshake and that’s good enough when doing business in Tuna.

    Eat Tuna

    May 23, 2006

    The second in series that takes a look at life in a small town in Texas.

    People tend to think there is no culture in a small town, that there are no restaurants, no theater. Well, there is. It just so happens that the live theater is in the restaurants. Just not in a dinner-theater sort of way. And not really on purpose.

    Once again, we find ourselves in Greater Tuna, where my in-laws live. There is a restaurant there that can probably best be described as a shed. Only not that nice. The tables are covered with well worn red and white checked oil cloth and none of the chairs match. The painted floor creeks and slopes slightly and a screen door bangs and then springs back to bang again as people come and go. A rickety ceiling fan whirs and rocks overhead. The cacophany of white noise all works together to create a certain ambience. It has a hand painted sign out front that reads “Aunt Clydes” and the place is run by Aunt Clyde herself. On any given weekday, the place is surrounded by cars and golf carts parked in all manner as people make their way from near and nearer for the local version of the power lunch, or what they call “shootin’ the breeze”.

    Aunt Clyde is a motherly black woman with a large presence and generous bosoms, which overflow the sides of her apron. The bib-overall wearing men can’t help but to steal glances at all this womanly glory and even the women take a second look. Aunt Clyde speaks as though she is about out of breath, in a kindly raspy voice, yet she has a natural air of authority about her. Make no mistake Aunt Clyde is in charge of the place, so don’t even think about acting a fool or she might come over and swat you upside the head with a menu and fire off a warning to “Stop actin’ like a fool!”

    Speaking of the menu, there is one, but Aunt Clyde doesn’t read or do math, so it doesn’t really matter. You just tell her what you want and she’ll tell you if you can have it or not. When you are finished eating, she’ll tell you what you owe, and that largely depends on her mood. Your meatloaf might cost you $3.29 whereas mine might be $4.48. Everyone pays whatever Aunt Clyde says they owe and no one forgets to tip. If you did, word would get around fast and let there be no doubt, small town people protect their own. If you like meat loaf, mashed potatoes, lemon pie, sweet tea and the like, there’s no better place to eat in any city of any size.

    You just can’t get that kind of dining experience at Chili’s.