What’s Coo5king?

What’s cooking?The Cooking Pot

The question reminds me of an emergent reading book that I’ve used with my young students. Mrs. Spot, Mrs. Spot, what have you got in your cooking pot?

Just one week after committing to working on my big writing project,–the memoir–for ten minutes daily–just ten minutes each day–I’ve got something else cooking. A couple of something elses, actually.

The memoir is, therefore, being returned to the back burner–its default position it seems–where it can simmer quietly while I focus on the front burners, one of which is heating up real quickly and needs my immediate attention and the other which will require occasional stirring over the next eight months while its contents slowly thicken.

So, what’s cooking now, you ask?

Without much effort on my part, I have found myself chairing a committee to put on a 5k race. The PTA at my school started kicking the idea around last fall. I happened to mention, at one of the meetings, that I was on the board of the local running club and could find out a lot of good information for us about timing runners, insurance, advertising, choosing a date that didn’t conflict with other races in the community, and other considerations.

Shortly after my kind offer, I was holding a large pot and a recipe card with nothing on it except 5k, preparation time three months, actual cooking time two hours.

And, though the starting gun just went off, I can already feel the heat of a burner set to high.

You see, the 5k is happening in April. That gives us just three months to bring this concoction to fruition.

I must say that I did take the pot willingly. Though I have plenty going on in my life, organizing a 5k race sounds like a lot of fun. A small race like this is all about the kids, the joy of exercising, and building community. How could it not be fun?

(I say that now.)

So, yes, I gladly took the pot when it was offered.

Since we’ve never held an event like this at our school and since I’ve never been involved in planning a race, let alone taking the lead, this 5k will be produced (almost) from scratch. I say almost because my experience with running a few 5k’s will help tremendously in thinking through the hosting of one. The first night that I felt the heat, I awoke at 1:30 a.m., realizing I needed to start listing my ingredients. Now. The burner is on high, already, the blue flame visible, licking the air, in my face, because the pot is not yet on the burner, not yet on the burner because there’s nothing in it, nothing in it because I hardly know, at this point, what’s required, nothing in it because I’m just toeing the line, toeing the line of a long list of preparations, a long list that does not yet exist.

By 2:30 a.m., I had a three-page planning chart.

Me? Cooking from scratch? Who’d a thunk. What I know at this point is that I want my 5k to turn out better than most of my cooking endeavors have. Thank goodness for the great team of ancillary cooks–fellow teachers and parents–that will be in the kitchen with me.

potsOn my other front burner, I have a less demanding recipe, but something that, nonetheless, needs my attention as well. Over here I’m whipping up some French cuisine. This dish requires reading and researching and learning as much as I can about the country of France, which is where my daughter is going for her Rotary Youth Exchange experience, which will start in August or September.

So the 5k is on high, the French cuisine on medium, and my memoir? Well, it is once again on the back burner, on low, back to low priority status. But here’s the thing with the back burner. As long as there’s a pot on it, and as long as that burner is on, even if it’s just on low, I’ll tend to it. Perhaps not in the sense that I’m adding any more ingredients or even stirring it all that often. But I’ll be continuously breathing it in, mulling it over, as it wafts through my kitchen, in and out of my thoughts. I’ll consider next steps, once it takes its place again at the front of the stove.

So, that’s what’s cooking. That’s what Mrs. Spot has in her cooking pot–planning a big event from scratch, slowly thickening her knowledge of France and the youth exchange experience, and, always, stirring ideas for the memoir.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bpangie
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 14:07:20

    Haha. Sucker. Good luck. I’m getting anxiety about putting on a free race. Can’t imagine putting on something where folks expect something…

    Reply

    • randee
      Jan 18, 2014 @ 16:25:41

      Didja have to remind me? If they pay money, I’m going to be hearing complaints. The good thing is, a few other schools do 5k’s around here and most everyone understands that they’re more for the kids/community than for the big time racers. I still want to put on a great event though!

      Reply

  2. Billybuc
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 14:20:56

    Been, there, done that…and good luck! I’m sure you will host a fine race.

    Reply

  3. theclocktowersunset
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 23:49:07

    Sounds like a lot of fun, but very busy. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll get things knocked out.

    Reply

  4. Deborah
    Jan 25, 2014 @ 08:04:45

    Best of luck with organizing the race! I’m sure it will be great. I love the analogy of cooking, and the back burner, and how to keep a few things simmering at once. A few things on the stove is much better than too many plates in the air. I admire your balance. :-)

    Reply

    • randee
      Jan 27, 2014 @ 12:45:50

      Oh, I think I could easily describe it as plates in the air rather than pots on the stove. Easily. :)

      Reply

      • Deborah
        Jan 27, 2014 @ 17:11:36

        Maybe I’m blind, but you seem to have better control over the number of pots, limited by the burners on the stove, or something? I can’t seem to limit myself. But maybe you’re good at hiding things in the oven that we don’t know about. ;-)

      • randee
        Jan 28, 2014 @ 04:50:03

        Yes, that must be it! Plenty of side dishes in the oven. Have you heard of eustress (good stress)? Actually, it’s the positive response we get to stress. I’ve noticed over the years that when I am slightly stressed I will add one more plate, pot, whatever, and it actually calms me down a bit. It’s exactly what I need to take me to the next level of energy and time commitment, the level I need to be at to enjoy my projects and do the best I can with them.

      • Deborah
        Jan 28, 2014 @ 05:41:12

        I’ve heard of eustress, but if I added one more thing, the plate spinner might shoot me on the spot. What DOES work for me is something I just did a couple hours ago. Gather up the project that has me stifled and take myself off to a neighborhood coffee shop. Without any other plates vying for attention, I almost always have significant breakthroughs. I end the session with a very specific to-do list that emerged from the process, and voila! I am back on track. Either that, or it was extra good caffeine! ;-) I like the side dishes in the oven idea! We are so inventive!

      • randee
        Jan 28, 2014 @ 21:10:59

        You’re wonderful. That’s all I can say.

      • Deborah
        Jan 28, 2014 @ 21:26:39

        You’re a great cheerleader! :-D I need that today!

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