Las chucharas de medir (Measuring spoons)

I’m at an age when my back goes out more than I do.

Phyllis Diller

oven switch 2My birthday comes later this week and I had intended to have some people over for Margaritas, snacks, and dessert. The food and dessert I was going to make, and the dessert was to be Tres Leches Cake, which is something I adore so that I would marry it if it came in human form.

As an experienced cook I’m okay with guessing measurements for most cooking, but for baking, especially when using another’s recipe for the first time, I like to follow the recipe exactly. Also, I tried baking at this altitude once before using a prepared mix:  it was a disaster as my oven has no temperature gauge on its dial (pictured here). I’m also unacquainted with high-altitude baking and know I need to adjust proportions of ingredients, so I need a set of measuring spoons as well as an oven thermometer (horno termómetro). I’ve been able to find neither in San Miguel although I have been to a good grocery in El Centro (Bonanza, which I rely on for many hard-to-find items), Fussion (which carries a number of kitchen gadgets and which has meat thermometers, but not oven thermometers – it was where I found my French Press coffee pot), two big-box stores (Mega and Aurrera Bogega), and any number of tiendas and small stores. All to no avail. Yesterday a friend recommended a store unknown to me, but it is closed on Sundays.

Also, tonight I’m attending a circle cena (dinner) and need to take a dessert. I had hoped to make a Tres Leches Cake for that event as well, but I’ll now buy a dessert (my contribution) instead.

Other reasons slipped into my postponement of the birthday gathering. Apartment cleaning, shopping, cooking, decorating all seemed overwhelming and I wasn’t able – despite having made a schedule – to make it not seem overwhelming.  My ex- is visiting late in March (from California) and I thought the party would be more fun with her here (and she would get to meet the people I’ve told her about). I thought about folks having to ascend and descend the circular metal staircase to the apartment – would they be able to navigate it? Then the guest list:  who would enjoy whose company? I don’t actually know all that many people, too. Should it be all women (women in San Miguel already have plenty of opportunity to attend all-female gatherings)? Or a mix of men and women? While at church yesterday, when I saw people who I intended to invite, I couldn’t bring myself to hand them the invitations.

Then the real reason hit: my fear of commitment, to committing to San Miguel, to building deeper friendships, and to committing to not seeing my son and his family very often. When I encounter those whom I’ve met in San Miguel, feel them edging into my life, when I sense they’re trying to draw me into their lives, I feel a picket fence pop from below ground. I considered buying the dessert for tonight’s cena and dropping it off, feigning some thin excuse for not staying. So there will be no party this week.


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