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Salvage and spoilage

My dad is visiting from Serbia, and maybe I am getting old and less tolerant, or maybe not seeing him for two years has made me more sensitive to how he does things, but I have been noticing more and more an unusual tendency of his which I imagine to be the consequence of his post-WW2 1950s Yugoslavian childhood.

There is the habit to save everything: every scrap piece of lint, every empty container, every cardboard box. This, I can understand. We don’t necessarily have the space to set aside every octagonal glass jar or a quirky spice container he encounters — and I cannot begin to imagine the packing process for his flight back — but these are at least pretty and/or may have a future use.

But then there was a pile of broken kinder surprise toys waiting to be mended with a glue that will inevitably be more expensive than all the trinkets combined. Or the shattered $15 IKEA picture frame The frame in question is the RIBBA, which I am absolutely positive had cost less than the current $15 and had a glass front instead of the current plastic one. So it goes…, “because do you know how much this would have cost back home”. Or, back home, a bottle of white wine received as a gift from someone decades ago and saved for a special occasion only to turn to vinegar. And in parallel, the urge to never, ever use anything up to its last bit.

Chocolate? Leave last few squares in the foil until they turn white and inedible. Pot of coffee? Drink until there are about to fingers left, keep at room temperature overnight, then pour down the drain. Dinner? Purposefully eat around the best bits, then whether or not you are full place them in a glass container — preferably one you salvaged from the recycle bin — and leave in the deepest, darkest reaches of the refrigerator until other family members start wondering about the funny smell.

So to my list of standard Latin phrases I should add Ne quid nimis — nothing in excess — even when the excess is in saving.

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