Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Running in circles

I feel like I'm chasing my own tail today. In trying to enter a story into my linguistic software, I got bogged down with the ongoing issues in formal word division that the current version of the orthography has. So, I stop to try to write something up detailing what morphemes are the ones that seem to be the most problematic. In the process of doing this, I see that the problematic morphemes are generally ones that do not have a comparable utterance position to Setswana. Furthermore, some of these morphemes occur in tiny clusters... or are they actually separate morphemes in their own right that just share syllables with other morphemes? I decide that I need to go through the available grammars to see what they say about the nature of these morphemes. I'm going to write a simplified grammar based on these more complex ones, then test with Shiyeyi speakers to see which of these should be written separately from the morphemes around them.

Time from sitting down and starting to type in the story to beginning the simplified grammar? Four hours! Half a day and I feel like I'm getting nowhere! And I still need to come up with some sort of Language learning activity for tomorrow morning's session. Aaagh!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Leaping lizards

Literally. Rob just heard a sound on top of the air conditioner. When he looked, he thought he saw a snake's head. Thankfully, it was just a lizard with a snakelike head. But when he tried to brush it off the air con and into a bucket, it leaped several feet across the room and onto the filing cabinet. Egads! I didn't know they could do that! He dealt with it with no help from me; I was in the bathroom, hiding out. He's my hero.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If you want it bad enough...

Have I mentioned before that true, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is not (to my knowledge) to be had in the country of Botswana? Yet, sometimes, it is just the thing. The combination of watching Top Chef All-Stars and a sudden craving yesterday resulted in this brain-child. It took me about 15 minutes to make, from the moment of walking into the kitchen, concept fully formed in my brain, to serving it up. Here goes, the recipe for feeding two people:

Stewing sauce:
1 small (~410g) can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp mixed "Italian herbs"
2 Tbsp red wine
freshly ground black pepper (I used about a 1/4 tsp)
salt to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp, Himalayan)

Combine in a pot that will have plenty of room for expanding dumplings; bring to a simmer. Let simmer while you grate cheese and mix dumplings.

On* Dumplings:
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 egg
1/4 cold water

Mix dry together; add wet. Drop by the sloppy spoonful into the simmering tomatoes to make a circle of dumplings.

mozzarella cheese - as much as you like (I did about 1/4 cup, when grated)

Immediately after putting in dumplings, sprinkle the cheese over them. Cover. Simmer without uncovering for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and eat.

I was floored by how well this satisfied the craving! Will definitely be doing this again and again. I may even introduce some favorite toppings in the future, maybe some sliced Kalamata olives, a little additional fresh basil. I hope that this brings many of you pizza-craving satisfaction, especially those who are living in places where great pizza is ne'er to be found.

* My only modification to the basic recipe that I know that I'll be trying next is to use a different dumpling recipe. I have two basic recipes, both of which I use and love. The only reason that I would choose one over the other is that one is designed to be cooked on top of a thick stew, the other is meant to be cooked in a soup. The On version is the one that I used this time - so you can use this dumpling recipe from above on top of any stew for beautiful fluffy dumplings every time, in just 3 minutes. But, as I noticed when dropping the dumplings, the tomatoes were really liquid enough that I should have used the In recipe, which is follows.

In Dumplings:
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup milk

Mix dry together; add wet. Drop by the mounded spoonful into simmering soup. Cover and simmer without removing the lid for 15 minutes.

Edit on January 21, 2012 - I take it back; I won't do the In dumplings in the future. I tried it last night and it was very similar to the On version. The primary difference is that the original On version was much faster and the melted cheese with the original recipe was more like melted cheese, less like a bubbly cheese-flavored foam. So, go for On!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Angel in the mophane trees

We were arriving at church this morning and got out of the car, as we always do, grabbing our hymnbook, Bibles and the drum. On the way to the front door, I noticed that the ground seemed to be shifting around. I quickly realized that there were little caterpillar-looking things everywhere. And I mean everywhere. We went into the church, all the while my brain belatedly realizing that the critters were inside as well, teeming across the church floor. I went to the front pew to sit as usual, kind of on auto-pilot, headed for the best place in church to hold and play a drum comfortably.

Sitting down, I saw that the were not only coming in the back door; they were crawling through the front door as well. I froze. They would get too close to my feet; I would try to scoot them away with the (thankfully) closed toe of my shoe. Jumping in to the first chorus and drumming meant that one actually made it up onto the bare top of my foot without me noticing until I set the drum down at chorus-end. Flicking it away in disgust, I handed the drum to Rob and sat with my feet elevated.

Long story short, after seeing that one had actually made it all the way up to the skin of drum without me noticing its progress, despite my vigilance, I fled. I squawked, grabbed the drum and my purse and fled. Off to the car I ran, where I skitted from one foot to another - they were all around the car as well - brushing them off the drum before placing it in the car, closing the door and fleeing across the parking lot.

I had to go almost all the way to the entrance of the parking lot to find a place to stand where they wouldn't be sneaking up onto my feet. I had lasted only 30 minutes in the service before running from the wee beasties. I was actually shaking. I couldn't believe that people were still in there, carrying on with the service like there weren't little worms wriggling everywhere! I was a little surprised that Rob didn't immediately follow me out, I don't mind saying - more on what he did do later.

While I was standing there in the late morning sun, trying to clear my head, calm down and figure out what I was going to do next, a car pulled up. It was Luise, a friend of mine who had decided to come visit our church for a look see. She had already attended the Methodist church that morning but had somehow felt compelled to come to my church as well. She saw how rattled I was and got out to talk to me. When I pointed out the swarm, she agreed that it might be best to visit on another occasion and offered to give me a lift home. It had been about 15 minutes since I had run out of the church building and Rob still hadn't followed me so I thankfully agreed to the lift. I sent Rob a quick text message and hastily got in her car; off we went. On our way out, Luise noticed a cabbage patch next to the church grounds. We hypothesized that perhaps some pesticide had been recently applied and they were all just looking for a new home, seeking sanctuary in the sanctuary, so to speak. Later, I discovered that this was a smaller variety of the phane worm that lives in mophane trees, the worm that some southern Africans eat for food. These small ones are a real problem right now, competing for food with the larger, edible worms.

She took me to her house first, to show me around her new digs. While there, I had a cup of sweet tea and regained my composure. We chatted for a while about our respective Christmas holidays and plans for a Bible study that we hoped to begin in the new year. About an hour later, she was dropping me off at my front door, in a much better state than she had found me. I still had a serious case of the willies for
a while but I'm OK now.

It was a rattling experience to see those critters crawling across the whole church, structure and members. Rob got my text message late and so had been there for about half an hour longer waiting for me to return to the pew. But he reported that while I was gone, he too had been distracted by the sight of them everywhere; on the altar, the pulpit, the guy sitting next to him. On the one hand, I felt like I was witnessing some kind of wholesale desecration of "the house of the Lord", made all the more surreal by the people around me who were continuing with liturgy as usual, just as if the place weren't infested. I seriously was incapable of thinking heavenly thoughts during the entire half hour I was in there and, truth be told, for some time afterward. I rather felt like the first person to be kicked off of Fear Factor for failing an insect-based challenge and was feeling rather sheepish about it. I mean, what kind of missionary am I?

On the other hand, the arrival of Luise – out of the blue and entirely unexpected – could have been accompanied by blasts on a trumpet, so palpable was my relief. I have no doubt that she was a God-send; she agrees. And so, she had the chance to be the love of Christ to me in the midst of my own tiny, embarrassing crisis.

And I'm OK with that. And I know what kind of missionary I am. I'm not the kind of missionary who believes that the desire to live the Fear Factor lifestyle is an essential component of being a missionary. I'm the kind of missionary who lives elsewhere only because that's what the job that I've been called to do requires of me. I don't look for trouble and when trouble finds me I'm likely to run screaming like a little girl. But I run to God, to the One who sent me here, even though He knows how I feel about creepy crawlies. I'm the kind of missionary to whom God - in His mercy and grace - will send an angel in the mophane trees.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Trying to make microblogging more macro

I've learned a new word this week: microblogging. That is the sharing of snippets of info and daily life via status updates, such as on Facebook or Twitter. And I've realized that microblogging is actually where I'm at these days, rather than standard blogging. Just read down this page, check out the dates; you'll see what I mean.

I've been doing the Facebook status update thing for several years now, at least once a day. I even found an app that allows me to share my thoughts on what I'm reading on Twitter with a few taps of the iPod screen. Now, I've discovered Paper.li and created The Exegette, my own media newspaper created from microblogging content. Look to the right of this post, in the sidebar - there it is!

So, even if I am not getting around to having anything more fleshy or pithy to say here on the Dancing Sni, folks can still read a little something-something without having to check all the different sites where I post stuff.

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