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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Accurate Estimating

In ten weeks, we will be furiously packing the last few things in our suitcases, saying the last goodbyes, and cleaning the last bits of food out of our cupboards.  Right now our things are scattered through every single square foot of our 5,500 square foot house, we haven't even thought of any goodbye, and the cupboards are just as full as ever of food.

But the storage spaces are (finally) starting to look a little bare.  Last week I put the last marinated artichoke heart on my pizza and marked it off the mental list of available pizza toppings.  I used unsweetened baking chocolate (status: overabundance) instead of semisweet chocolate chips (status: threatened) in my chocolate cake this week.  And when we have pizza with the children, it's all Fanta all the time (root beer status: endangered).  But whenever we have ice cream, I encourage the children to have as many sprinkles as they want.  It turns out that seven pounds of sprinkles is a whole lot of sprinkles.

We have run into the end-of-tour time I like to call Feast and Famine This is the time when we start eating pumpkin everything while hoarding that one last can of Coco Lopez for the time when you really, really need a piƱa colada.

We weren't worried about extra weight when leaving Baku, so anything left over just got hauled with us to Dushanbe (including a 25-pound pail of split green peas that I bought ten years ago.  Those aren't leaving Tajikistan).  But this time we aren't taking any food with us and so all of the food in our house will either have to be 1. eaten, 2. sold, or 3, given away.  I have (mostly) resigned myself to giving away a lot of food.  Moving every two or three years is not for skinflints; I still try to avoid thinking about how much money we lose every time we have to get rid of everything in our cupboards just to buy it all over again in two months' time.  However, I really would like to eat as much as possible.

So that leads to Pumpkin Everything and 1.5 lbs/week consumption of pinto beans (which got old pretty fast and now I'm just giving the things away for free) and sprinkles on everything (how about sprinkle oatmeal?).  The children alternately love (sprinkles!!!) and hate (pinto beans again?!?) this part of our tour.  Brandon just feels a sense of moral uprightness as the shelves get emptier.  This is the man who likes turkey noodle soups because it uses up the last possible consumable part of a turkey.

Of course once we eat it all, then it's just gone until our next consumable shipment shows up in Tashkent (I'm talking to you, coconut milk).  Various meals get marked off the menu as their necessary ingredients get used up.  Special treat snacks get replaced by much less special Tajik substitutes (Sun Chips - you just can't get them here).  Chocolate chip is no longer one of the cookie options.

But then there are those few things that can't be replaced or given up, and those things give me heartburn.  How many pounds of oatmeal do we use in a week?  Will that be enough, or we will run out during the last month and I'll have to pay an arm and a leg for the whole time we're here?  What if I order too much brown sugar?  I know it's only a dollar a pound, but I don't want to just give the stuff away, do I?  Do I need one more tin of baking powder?  How much do I actually use in ten weeks???  Four pounds more of black beans should be enough.  And if not, oh well.  There's definitely nothing that can be done about it.

My favorite category of things is those that get used up right as we are leaving.  I have one more seven-pound bag of powdered sugar, which should be just enough to get through two more doughnut nights and that's it.  We will most likely have the exact number of cans of wheat needed to see us through forty-two months of living in Tajikistan.  I won't have to find anyone who wants a mostly used bucket of lard because it will just be an empty one.  Moments like that when I have the best estimating skills ever make me want to go an high-five someone, but nobody else in my family cares (or even notices) so I just give myself a high-five.

One day when I am much older than I am now, I will move to America and never leave again.  When I am out of kalimata olives, I will go to the store and buy another jar (or more likely ten just out of habit) and never worry about using it up before I move again.  I'll stop keeping track of usage on my phone and not want to throttle children who opened up a shampoo bottle without telling me.  By then I'll probably not have children at home to open up shampoo bottles anyway.

Until then, I'll be keeping lists and weighing how much brown sugar we use every morning.  Just another part of this glamorous life!

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