Thursday, January 15, 2009

#11 and #12 -- plates of grace

The English have a phrase for the disparate: chalk and cheese. And the combination of the material and the spiritual is just about as cheesy and chalky as I can get -- as I finish up this list of things to do.

I am often astounded at what will cause debates to break out amongst bloggers. But one of my most contentious posts was
going to pot, where I posed what I thought was a very innocent question: Should I bring my best pots and pans to Mexico? I may as well have asked would you rather have Bill Clinton or George W. Bush live next door to you?

The opinions ranged from: "bring nothing more than what fits in a suitcase" to "if you don't bring good pots, you will end up cooking in the equivalent to tin cans." I put aside the answers because I had the luxury of waiting to make that decision.

I no longer can stall. But waiting has helped to answer the question. The house where I will be staying has a wide range of pots and pans. However, I have been encouraged to bring good pieces along with me -- and I will. (Once again, this assumes that I will drive, rather than fly, down. If I fly, the cookery stays in Salem.)

Because I do a lot of stir fry (some with a Mexican touch), I will bring my cheap wok. I have looked in several stores in Mexico while visiting, and have never seen a wok. (That does not surprise me. After all I am moving to Melaque, not Macao.) I use my wok for cooking breakfast, dinner, and supper. I will also take along a few of my other good cooking pieces.

At this point, I hear
Jennifer Rose reminding me that I need to bring high quality sheets and towels. I remember chuckling to myself when she said that. I am the guy who sleeps on my couch wrapped in a rough wool blanket. Sheets are probably near the bottom of my life concerns.

But, she has properly pointed out that I will have guests, and most of them will not be inclined to live as Trappists. But, the house is well-stocked with sheets and towels. If I need them for future residences, I can always bring them back on future trips north. But not now.

And then there is the issue of DVDs and CDs. For about a year, I had lost almost all interest in film and music. My old passion has returned. Now, I need to figure out what to take with me. Nancy solved the problem by switching to an iPod and digitizing her collection.

I may do that in the future. With the few items I am taking to Mexico in April, I should be able to sort through my DVDs and CDs, and pick out what I think I will need for the first six or seven months in Mexico.

One thing I will miss is my powerful sound system. Music and films will not be the same without the big sound the system provides. Listening on the lap top is like hearing the world through the speaker from a 1953 Buick. But, it will suffice.

Those are the material decisions I must make. Now -- the spiritual.

The list is short, but complicated. I am currently the chair of our local Salvation Army Advisory Board, and an adult Sunday school teacher at the Salvation Army church. I need to transition a new chair into place, and I need to find a replacement teacher.

My two-year term as chair of the advisory board began in April 2007. I promised the board I would not leave until my term ended or until our local Kroc Center was completed. If not for that promise, I would have been in Mexico as of today.

In 2003, Joan Kroc, the widow of the founder of McDonald's died. In her will, she bequeathed $1.6 billion to the Salvation Army to build a series of centers throughout the United States, to provide underprivileged children the type of opportunity, education, recreation, and inspiration they would not otherwise receive. One of those 30 centers is being built in my home town: Salem.

I did not want to leave before the center is complete. Joan Kroc's dream was to provide children, who had no hope of developing their natural talents, to have the opportunity to live their dream as far as they could take it. I wanted to be part of all that before I left.

Unfortunately, the original completion date has now slipped to September. I cannot stay that long, but I will stay until my term ends in April.

This will be an easy transition. My successor has already served as chair and has worked with me on each of our pending projects. As far as I am concerned, this portion of the transition is almost complete.

Finding an adult Sunday school teacher will be a little more difficult. That position has given me more joy than any other over the past decade I have worked with the Salvation Army. But the position demands a level of commitment that most people are not willing to make. I usually spend 5 to 8 hours in preparation for a 45-minute class presentation.

But I am certain I will find the right person. If not, I will suggest merging my class with one of the other three adult classes. In the end, it will all work out just fine.

Here ends the lesson -- and the list. Looking back over the 12 items, and realizing what I have managed to complete this week, I feel quite good about being ready to leave in a few short weeks.

And, if something does not get done, such as my vaccinations, that will be fine, as well. But the check marks on the list are a real encouragement to me.

On to Mexico.


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve, I would put the vaccinations at the top of your list (next to Jiggs meds). If you don't have your health the other items will not matter much. Happy Birthday Week. Joan

Gary Denness said...

What to take and what to leave.....I think the decisions making process, what with different priorities et al, is a unique experience for everyone. When I came to Mexico, I had just two suitcases to pack stuff, which contained mostly clothing.

I went through all my belongings at home and seperated them into three piles. One was for things which I used regularly and would use again. The second contained sentimental items which all went into a box. Into the third pile went everything that I hadn't used in the last 12 months. I was merciless. It was ten times bigger than the other two piles combined.

And I sold the lot on eBay, Amazon and car boot sales.

Joanne said...

Don't waste space on the DVD's. We use and watch all the TV and movies we want through that.

Brenda said...

I too would put the vaccinations at the top of the list, along with the pots and pans lol.

Calypso said...

Bring the pans - cooking is Mexican pans can be likened to cooking in the can.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Steve!

when i lived in japan i bought a wok in thailand and took it in my suitcase. i still have that same wok, 27 years later. you can take some pots and pans in your suitcases although you'll probably want most of the room for clothes. however, let's think positive. mr. jiggs will still be around and you will be driving down.

i am going to visit cyntia and mike the last weekend in march if that time frame works out for them. maybe the 4 of us can get together for a meal. it would be like a mini bloggers/reader reunion. i would love to meet you and mr. jiggs.

take care and enjoy your special day!

Steve Cotton said...

Joan -- I am really not certain where to put vaccinations -- though, I know where I prefer taking them. I talk with my doctor next week.

Gary -- I started the pile method last January. Once I decided I was not going to sell the house, the onoly question was: take south or leave in the house? The take pile is tiny. I think I have more things for Jiggs than for myself.

Joanne -- Good idea. Every now and then, I like to take the laptop off somewhere and watch something. But I could probably skip that luxury.

Brenda -- It appears that some of you residents find more value in vaccinations than I would have guessed.

Calypso -- Pots are on their way.

Teresa -- I am now counting on driving down. Jiggs is doing much better. A mini-blogger meet sounds great.

Islagringo said...

I asked L about "chalk and cheese". He laughed and asked me where I bloody heard that!

I think the only vaccination you need worry about is Tetanus.

You probably don't have one in Melaque, but CostCo and Sam's Club both sell American quality pots and pans.

mycomitan said...


For music buy a MP3 radio then buy Logitech X-240 2.1 Speakers for iPod/PC/MP3 50watts of power out of your little player. Go to screamer radio record what you want to listen to then load it onto your MP3 player 2 Gig's will get your about 500 files of music.

Michael Dickson said...

Bring pots and pans and wok.

Steve Cotton said...

Michael -- My Escape is going to end up looking like the salesman's wagon in Oklahoma. But it is the right answer.

Anonymous said...

As someone who at least has audiophile tendencies, I would highly recommend a Bose Wave Radio. It sounds terrific, should qualify for customs purposes as a portable radio (duty-free), and can be squeezed into a large suitcase. Placed in a corner, it can do a remarkably good job as a stereo system in a pinch. Also, you can plug an iPod or other thing into it through the accessory jack.

And I'd definitely get the Hep A and B vaccinations.

Best of luck.

Kim G
Boston, MA
Where I bought my first (and only) house, and now wonder how I could ever move all the stuff I've accumulated since.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- I have an older Bose 901 system that I have modified for surround sound capability. I can easily hear movies on the system a half block away with the doors shut. And that is just on 30% power. I will miss the precision.

A Wave is a possibility. But it will probably make me miss the real thing even more.

I am talking with my doctor tomorrow. I may be too late on one of the Hep series.