I feel a cold coming on. I woke up three times last night – idiot dogs – and I had that thing, when you’ve sweated but now it cooled off. My throat hurts. I’ve just gotten over the chronic throat soreness, and here we go again. And my brain is fuzzy. I pulled out the big guns and took Advil Cold and Sinus. It should give me a few hours of jittery productivity before I crash.
Today is the dumpster day. Today the dumpster arrives and it marks two week deadline for packing and throwing things away.
I’m getting rid of my dishes. They are perfectly good dishes. I bought them when we moved in, seven years ago at Walmart. We needed dishes, we didn’t know where to shop, we saw a Walmart while driving around, I walked in, gave them $25, and walked out with the dishes. Boom, done.
They are a bit scratched up, nothing a bit of Barkeeper’s Friend won’t fix. The scratches are actually scuffs from silverware, and BF has oxalic acid in it, which dissolves mineral deposits. Yay, chemistry.
My father saw me cleaning them and became terribly excited that I remembered basic chemical reactions, and then told me the story of Niels Bohr for the one thousandth time. In 1940 the Nazis rolled into Copenhagen, and two scientists, Max von Laue and James Franck, knew their Nobel prizes, which were made of 23 Karat gold, would be confiscated. They sent them to Bohr, who was a known opponent of Nazism. Bohr realized that his institute would be searched and so he had a dilemma. How to hide the medals? Gold is a noble metal. It’s called so, because it’s mostly nonreactive. That’s why it can be found in the ground in a pure form. It doesn’t rust, it doesn’t react to anything, and if you throw most solvents on it, it just sits there and waves hi.
However, there is one special solution called aqua regia, the royal water, which is one part nitric acid to 3 parts hydrochloric acid, that dissolves noble metals. Gold takes forever to dissolve, but when the Nazis arrived and searched the institute, the medals were gone. The part my father loves the most is that after the WWII ended, Georgy de Hevesy, a chemist who worked with Bohr, managed to precipitate the gold and they sent it back to the Nobel Commission, which recast the medals and gave it back to their owners. That’s the end of the story, and Nazis are evil.
But back to the dishes. After my dad finished telling me the story, which I can recite from memory, as you can see, he asked me, “Ilona, why are the plates so big?”
Here is a pretty typical plate you can buy in Russia. It happens to be a French import, but this one has all the sizes, so we are going with that.
It’s 25 cm or 9.84 inches across. I measured the Wal-mart plate. It’s 11 inches across. There is an 11 inch plate in that particular set, but it’s what Russians call podstavnaya tarelka. Plate that goes under a deeper plate of soup during dinner, so you don’t make a mess. It never occurred to me, but we’ve been eating from under plates and you can fit a lot more food on the under-plate than on a regular size plate.
So I am using this move as an excuse to get rid of my $25 plate set and get a new one. Any recommendations for online retailers of the pretty and not giant plate set?