Cheap thrills

I am finally over the hill and coasting in geezerdom. It’s real good. When I was a serious cyclist back in the late Cetaceous period, I loved hills, partly because of the challenge of getting to the top, partly for the ride on the backside. I don’t like challenges so much these days, so I choose them carefully.

First, the bulk-food challenge. One of the many new species we’ve encountered since moving to Chico—in addition to termites, opossums, and black widow spiders—is what’s sometimes referred to as the pantry moth. Clouds of pantry moths began to appear soon after we bought a house, and I’m sure they had a great time that first year. Then I learned that pantry moths thrive on various dried foods—beans, flours, meals, and pretty much anything they can get, like a lot of us.

I tend to buy dried food in bulk when practical, and usually had a lot of bags and other loosely closed containers in our cupboards with the aforementioned rice, granola, et cetera. Glass canning jars were an obvious solution.

If I buy, say, rolled oats, a little at a time, I do end up with more, but not enough to fill the jar, which means I have to buy rolled oats more often. As much as I like the co-op, I don’t go there for recreation so much as for food, so I try to buy at one time the most that makes sense, which is where the challenge comes in. Our cabinets have just about all the jars that’ll fit, so I don’t want to buy more than the rolled-oats jar can hold and have to use a second jar for the temporary overage or leave the extra in a bag, thus provisioning the pantry-moth cafeteria. The bulk-food challenge is to buy the exact volume of rolled oats that will fit in the rolled-oats jar with no leftovers.

First I have to estimate how much rolled oats it’ll take to fill the jar. Ditto for black-eyed peas, lentils, quinoa, and the rest. Then with no notes or other artificial aids, and based solely on what I can remember about my estimate of the required volumes, I fill the various bags to the precise level called for to achieve my objective. The mental power and focus needed for such a feat boggles my mind—not as easy to do as you might think—so my satisfaction when the last rolled oat just fits in the jar is stunning. I love cheap thrills.