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… Five Cakes in 48 Hours

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cake #1: Typical Chilean (and Mexican– could I say Latin American?) white cake soaked in something sweet, layered with pineapples and cream and frosting.

At 9:30 on Friday, I got kicked out of my house in preparation for the “surprise” party.  I waited over at another teacher’s house, and when I arrived a few hours later, twelve people were crowded around my little kitchen, decorated with balloons and full to the brim with drinks and snacks, including empanadas (cheese, cheese and oregano, and meat).  I felt so special, so taken care of, and I had a great time.  I will add some party pictures when they get posted on facebook.  Out came the cake at midnight, and then as I have observed at other birthday parties, the cake got set aside, to be eaten later.  I’ll be bringing some to school tomorrow.  Oh right, and the last people left at 6:30 AM.

Cake #2: “Kuchin” with rasberries, German word for cake, here it means tart/cake with creamy center, fruit.

 I woke up to see this out my window:

That’s right folks, snow.  I called my parents, then settled into cleaning up the remains of a frat party the house, but honestly, I felt happy to know everyone had a great time, and given everything everyone had done, I was glad to contribute in this way.  Also Alice Skyped me!  Then, while I was still in my pajamas, a neighboor knocked on the door.  When I greeted her after putting on my jeans, she stopped by with a kuchin she had made for me.  We have gotten to know each other in my English class, and we are also both in the weaving class.  I was touched and tickled that she thought of me and came over.  Luckily, I brought the kuchin over to lunch with a few friends, where we had pasta with a sauce of avocado, cream and garlic (yum), and also non-instant coffee (yes).

Cake #3: Lightly sweet cake with raspberry jam and laced dough on top.  

After I got back to my house on Saturday afternoon, another woman came over with this treat!  She is teaching the weaving class, and I made a cake for her birthday last week.  Like the maker of the kuchin, this woman is the age of my mother, but I feel like we are beyond the obligatory/professional relationship.  We talked, ate, and drank mate (she served) for almost two hours. She also taught me another wood stove trick — how to open the top to push the logs to the front.  What a sweetheart.

Cake #4: Smitten Kitchen carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, writing in raisins.

After she left, I got busy making this confection for a joint birthday celebration I had planned for Sunday.  As I went out to buy ingredients, I leaked that it was my birthday to one of the store-owners, who came out from behind the counter to hug me.

A few people came by in the evening to pick up things they’d left the night before, but the centerpiece for me was soaking in all the greetings I had received from beloved gringolandia — facebook messages (including a video from my aunt and cousins!), emails, and so on.  I sat down to open the box my parents sent me, and it was full of just the right goodies, all wrapped with care.  I went to bed full of joy and especially, gratitude.

Cake #5: Crepe-like pancakes alternated with apple-sauce (pictured with #4 and boiled chestnuts).

This morning, Sunday, I went to the house of my good friend for a double-birthday lunch extravaganza.  We made a fabulous lasagna with tomato-zucchini sauce, white sauce, cheese and (canned) mushrooms.  The four of us (us plus her man and mother) sat at the table for hours, munching olives as we waited for one lasagna, then the next one out of the oven, the cakes, the chestnuts, and rounds and rounds of mate.  I’m such a Gemini, I thought: I loved the big crazy party on Friday, but I also loved this reflective, tender celebration.  Our long conversations always fill me with so much wonder, in the sense of questioning and also of amazement.  As the sun was setting (at 5:00 PM), we went out to feed the goats, and walk down to see the new fence they built.  I felt small against the vast, darkening green landscape, and said, “I’ve never lived with mountains before.”  “I can’t imagine what it would be like to live without mountains,” she responded.

That’s it for the cakes, but not the celebrations– I returned home to another “surprise”, my co-teacher and five high school English students (from my elective), ready with chips and snacks.  We chatted around my kitchen and I fed them cake.  I was actually incredibly saddened to hear them — the best students — talking about the various levels and techniques of cheating on tests, and I was also beginning to get anxious about my lack of lesson planning for the coming week.  I thought cynically to myself, “This week I’m going to be Chilean teacher– i.e. not plan!”  It’s not true, I’ll get it all sorted out tomorrow, but still.  And I also need to clean the floor (rainy night on Friday means it is filthy), get the speakers and platters from back to their owners, write English tests for the end of the semester, put up the recycled art exhibition this week, do my laundry…

But let’s not end there.  Instead, here’s this from my journal last night:

“Most importantly, what I’m really happy about today are the relationships I have, my good fortune to be here, to be so stimulated and excited by this life, and to feel like on this cold, rainy night by the fire, I have the best company– me.  And also, my good friend the rain.  We’re having another sleepover tonight!”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jane woodman permalink
    Monday, June 13, 2011 6:25 am

    Beautiful Meg! xoxo

  2. David Russell permalink
    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:44 pm

    Such a rich life you’ve developed for yourself, such touching connections, and your reflections are always penetrating. I hope getting back to work was OK, and I’m sure you are continuing your wonderful teaching. I’m grabbing a few minutes here as I’m about to be taken for my stent placement. XXOO

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