Injera–Ethiopian bread–with a choice of split pea or meat sauce. The photo is from our class end-of-semester party.


In Ethiopia the bread is more of a purple color. This bread is from a Pakistani specialty store.

The bread looks exactly like rolled up ace bandages.

You start with two rolls. The first one is unrolled across your plate and holds the sauces. The second one is torn off bit by bit and used to scoop up the sauces with your hands.

The sauces are made by pretty much the same method.

Lamb sauce

In a pan:

One large onion, chopped
Oil, enough to cover onion
Powdered hot pepper
1/2 pound lamb, chopped in small pieces (about 1/4″)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 spoon salt

Bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer on low heat for 1/2 hour.
Serve on injera (Ethiopian bread).

Split Pea Sauce:

1/4 pound split peas
water to cover
simmer 1/2 hour

These look like yellow split peas and not the green ones we usually see. This dish is good for fast days. Ethiopian Christians fast from meat on Wednesday and Friday, but if you’re staying at a hotel that caters to westerners, as I did when my plane was delayed in Lalibela, you’ll have to do some fast talking to get them to bring you the fasting menu. Fortunately I was with an Ethiopian Harvard student who had just returned from a survey of the tragedy in Rwanda and could explain it to the maître d’ in Amharic quite convincingly.

Posted in Food. 5 Comments »

Sudan Watch: 101 days of prayer

From the Associated Press: “Hundreds gathered on a rainy morning in the southern capital of Juba to mark the launch of the prayer campaign.”

Sister Cecilia Sierra Salcido, left, and a member of her congregation prepare for the launch of the Catholic Archdiocese’s “101 Day of Prayer for Peace” at Kator Cathedral in Juba, sourthern Sudan, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. The Catholic Church is launching a country-wide peace campaign in Sudan amid political tensions 3½ months until a scheduled referendum on southern independence. Southern Sudan is scheduled to vote on independence Jan. 9, but preparations for the vote are behind schedule. The Obama administration has said it is “inevitable” the south will declare independence, but given the south’s substantial oil resources, many here worry the north may not accept an independent south. (AP Photo/Maggie Fick)

From Peacebuilding Program manager, Tom Purekal:

Just thought you would like to know more about the campaign we are running for “101 Days of Prayer Towards a Peaceful Referendum in Sudan”.  It is now international, with word racing throughout the US and Europe.  It is nice to know that Southern Sudan does not stand alone.

The campaign launches next Tuesday (Sept 21) on the UN’s International Day of Peace.  Just two days later (on Sept 23), US President Barak Obama will speak with the General Assembly of the United Nations on Sudan with President Salva Kir and some 30 other delegates from Southern Sudan in attendance.

I welcome and encourage you to help promote this prayer campaign…for peace…to help the next generation envision what a Sudan free from violent conflict might look like!

The slogan on the church in the background “Haec est domus dei”  (here is the house of the Lord) is from 1 Chronicles 22:1:

Then David said, “The house of the LORD God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”

…”here” in the biblical verse being here.

Juba in Arabic جبة I was once told was an old-fashioned word for a woman’s skirt.
There are also towns named Jubbah in both Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Posted in Elections, peace, Sudan. Comments Off on Sudan Watch: 101 days of prayer

Sudan watch

People remember the war in Darfur a few years ago, in the northern part of Sudan, but how many remember there was another war in the south?

There was to be a referendum to decide the possible independence of this area, and the time is getting closer.  The U.N. does promote humanitarian aid in Sudan, but it’s hard to find any specific information about conditions in the south, other than the fact that the U.N. is training the local police ahead of the January 9 referendum.

One group active in the area is the Catholic Church–the Catholic Relief Services page gives an overview of the situation with a clarity lacking on the U.N. pages. (The UMCOR page is disappointing–it clearly hasn’t been updated recently as it only talks about Darfur.) The Catholics say they can do “peacebuilding“.

Posted in peace. Comments Off on Sudan watch

More raw Lorca: “La monja gitana”

More Lorca from the closet:

A few weeks ago I was googling Lorca– I forget why—particularly this poem about the gypsy nun. I ‘m posting it here mostly because the introductory offer of Word 2007 that came with my netbook just ran out and this is the fastest way I can think of to get the text in a place where I can look at it.  The first part is in Spanish, the second part in English (courtesy of Google translate, hence the odd word choices) and the last part is my personal reaction, mostly just thinking out loud not done yet, but will probably be some photos of bees on clematis once WordPress fixes their current image editing problems. Mostly my thinking out loud stuff stays in the back room, but once I published one by mistake briefly and someone actually enjoyed it and was puzzled when I unpublished it again,  so FWIW, this one gets published.


A José Moreno Villa

Silencio de cal y mirto.
Malvas en las hierbas finas.
La monja borda alhelíes
sobre una tela pajiza.                    4

Vuelan en la araña gris
siete pájaros del prisma.
La iglesia gruñe a lo lejos
como un oso panza arriba.           8

¡Que bien borda! ¡Con qué gracia!
Sobre la tela pajiza
ella quisiera bordar
flores de su fantasía.                      12

¡Qué girasol! ¡Qué magnolia
de lentejuelas y cintas!
¡Qué azafranes y qué lunas,
en el mantel de la misa!                16

Cinco toronjas se endulzan
en la cercana cocina.
Las cinco llagas de Cristo
cortadas en Almería.                      20

Por los ojos de la monja
galopan dos caballistas.
Un rumor último y sordo
le despega la camisa,                       24

y al mirar nubes y montes
en las yertas lejanías,
se quiebra su corazón
de azúcar y yerbaluisa.                   28

¡Oh, qué llanura empinada
con veinte soles arriba!
¡Qué ríos puestos de pie
vislumbra su fantasía!                     32

Pero sigue con sus flores,
mientras que de pie, en la brisa,
la luz juega el ajedrez
alto de la celosía.                                 36


google translate:


José Moreno Villa

Silence of lime and myrtle.
Hollyhocks in the fresh herbs.
The nun embroiders thatched
wallflowers onto a canvas.                 4

Fly in the gray spider
seven birds of the prism.
The church growls in the distance
like a bear belly up.                              8

How good side! How funny!
On the straw-colored fabric
she would embroider
flowers of her fantasy.                      12

What a sunflower! What magnolia
sequins and ribbons!
What crocuses and what moons
on the tablecloth of the Mass!        16

Five sweetened grapefruit
in the nearby kitchen.
The five wounds of Christ
cut in Almeria.                                      20

Through the eyes of the nun
two horsemen gallop.
A rumor last and deaf
he takes off his shirt                            24

and looking at clouds and mountains
stiff in the distances,
your heart breaks
sugar and verbena.                              28

Oh, what a steep plateau
twenty soles up!
What rivers standing positions
sees its fantasy!                                     32

But still with her flowers
while standing in the breeze,
light plays chess
top of the lattice.                                  36


And now–two gratuitous bees:

Posted in Poetry. Comments Off on More raw Lorca: “La monja gitana”

Lorca raw: La casada infiel

This is a poem from Federico García Lorca’s Romancero Gitano–Gypsy Ballads–in Spanish, followed by a machine translation. I’m taking out of the drafts, where I have had it since June, and putting it up mostly so I can find it, but you never know who else might find it interesting.

[Some links, including Leonard Cohen, now added at the end.]

La casada infiel
A Lydia Cabrera y a su negrita

Y que yo me la llevé al río
creyendo que era mozuela,
pero tenía marido.

Fue la noche de Santiago
y casi por compromiso.

Se apagaron los faroles
y se encendieron los grillos.

En las últimas esquinas
toqué sus pechos dormidos,
y se me abrieron de pronto
como ramos de jacintos.

El almidón de su enagua
me sonaba en el oído,
como una pieza de seda
rasgada por diez cuchillos.

Sin luz de plata en sus copas
los árboles han crecido
y un horizonte de perros
ladra muy lejos del río.

Pasadas las zarzamoras,
los juncos y los espinos,
bajo su mata de pelo
hice un hoyo sobre el limo.

Yo me quité la corbata.
Ella se quitó el vestido.
Yo el cinturón con revólver.
Ella sus cuatro corpiños.

Ni nardos ni caracolas
tienen el cutis tan fino,
ni los cristales con luna
relumbran con ese brillo.
Sus muslos se me escapaban
como peces sorprendidos,
la mitad llenos de lumbre,
la mitad llenos de frío.

Aquella noche corrí
el mejor de los caminos,
montado en potra de nácar
sin bridas y sin estribos.

No quiero decir, por hombre,
las cosas que ella me dijo.
La luz del entendimiento
me hace ser muy comedido.

Sucia de besos y arena
yo me la llevé del río.
Con el aire se batían
las espadas de los lirios.

Me porté como quién soy.
Como un gitano legítimo.
La regalé un costurero
grande, de raso pajizo,
y no quise enamorarme
porque teniendo marido
me dijo que era mozuela
cuando la llevaba al río.

* * * * *
Via google translate, which doesn’t always get the grammatical forms, but doesn’t do too bad with the lexicon:

And I took her to the river
thinking that was a maiden,
but had a husband.

Santiago was the night of
by pledge.

The lanterns
and went on crickets.

In the last corner
I touched her sleeping breasts
and opened to me suddenly
like spikes of hyacinth.

The starch of her petticoat
sounded in my ear
as a piece of silk
rent by ten knives.

No silver light on their glasses
the trees have grown
and a horizon of dogs
far from the river barks.

Past the blackberries,
the reeds and the hawthorne
under his mop of hair
I made a hole in the earth.

I took off my tie.
She took off her dress.
I, the gun belt.
She, her four bodices.

Nor nard nor snail
have skin so fine
or glass with silver
shine with such brilliance.
Her thighs slipped away from me
like startled fish
half full of fire,
half full of cold.

That night I ran
the best of roads,
mounted on a nacre mare
without bridle stirrups.

I do not mean a man,
the things she told me.
The light of understanding
me more discreet.

Smeared with sand and kisses
I took her river.
Fought with the air
The swords of the iris.

I behaved like who I am.
As a gypsy.
I gave her a sewing
large satin straw
and did not want to fall in love
because they had a husband
I said it was a maiden¹
when the river was.


¹maiden, schmaiden:

mozuela [mo-thoo-ay’-lah]
1. A very young lass or woman: sometimes applied in contempt. (m & f)
2. A prostitute. (Vulgarism) (m & f)
1. Young, youthful. (m)

..and “wife” is esposa, casada is married person (f.)

Night of St. James must have been 24 July, the eve of the saint’s day on 25 July (not a lunar-calculated holiday, at least not now):

Fiesta de Santiago (Feast of St James). The famous Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage of thousands of people from all over Spain and many other parts of Europe to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela, takes place in the week leading up to St James’ Day, 25 July. The city also has its fiestas around this time. The streets are full of musicians and performers for two weeks of celebrations culminating in the Festival del Apóstol.

[Text and YouTube link.]
[text & tr. Stephen Spender and J.L. Gili]
[Leonard Cohen:

Here of all places I don’t have to explain how I fell in love with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. I was 15 years old and I was wandering through the bookstores of Montreal and I fell upon one of his books,and I opened it,and my eyes saw those lines “I want to pass through the Arches of Elvira,to see her thighs and begin weeping”. I thought “This is where I want to be”… I read alone “Green I want you green “I turned another page “The morning through fistfulls of ants in your face” I turned another page “Her thighs slipped away like school of silver minnows”. I knew that I have had come home. So it is with a great sense of gratitude that I am able to repay my debt to Federico Garcia, at least a corner, a fragment, a crumb, a hair, an electron of my debt by dedicating this song, this translation of his great poem “Little Viennese Waltz”, “Take This Waltz”….

It was a long time ago in a book store in Montreal I stumble on a book by a great Spanish poet. And in this book he invited me to enter a universe of ants and crystals and arches and minnows and thighs that slipped away like herds of tiny fish…

You know it was many years ago in the city of Montreal that I stumbled upon this volume. I opened it and I accepted the poet’s invitation to enter into this world where fistfuls of ants were thrown at the sun and crystals obscured the pine trees and there were the arches of Elvira to pass through and begin weeping and there were those thighs that slipped away like schools of silver minnows. That was the irresistible seductive invitation I could not resist. I slipped into that fist, I did, I lived among the ants and I learned their ways. I mastered the crystals. I healed many alcoholic gurus with my crystal powers. I passed through the arches of Elvira and I did, I began weeping. That’s nothing new. I saw those thighs glistening like hunting horns and I touched them, I did, I pulled my hand away and I slipped away like a school of silver minnows. I’ve never left that world….

There are two poems connected with Lorca in Book of Longing.

The Faithless Wife (after the poem by Lorca)

The Night of Santiago
And I was passing through
So I took her to the river
As any man would do

She said she was a virgin
That wasn’t what I’d heard
But I’m not the Inquisition
I took her at her word

And yes she lied about it all
Her children and her husband
You were meant to judge the world
Forgive me but I wasn’t

The lights went out behind us
The fireflies undressed
The broken sidewalk ended
I touched her sleeping breasts

They opened to me urgently
Like lilies from the dead
Behind a fine embroidery
Her nipples rose like bread

Her petticoat was starched and loud
And crushed between our legs
It thundered like a living cloud
Beset by rator blades

No silver light to plate their leaves
The trees grew wild and high
A file of dogs patrolled the beach
To keep the night alive

We passed the thorns and berry bush
The reeds and prickly pear
I made a hollow in the earth
To nest her dampened hair

Then I took off my necktie
And she took of her dress
My belt and pistol set aside
We tore away the rest

Her skin was oil and ointments
And brighter than a shell
Your gold and glass appointments
Will never shine so well

Her thights they slipped away from me
Like schools of startled fish
Though i’ve forgotten half my life
I still remember this

That night I ran the best of roads
Upon a mighty charger
But very soon I’m overthrown
And she’s become the rider

Now as a man I won’t repeat
The things she said aloud
Except for this my lips are sealed
Forever and for now

And soon there’s sand in every kiss
And soon the dawn is ready
And soon the night surrenders
To a daffodil machete

I gave her something pretty
And I waited ’til she laughed
I wasn’t born a gipsy
To make a woman sad

I didn’t fall in love. Of course
It’s never up to you
But she was walking back and forth
And I was passing through

When I took her to the river
In her virginal apparel
When I took her to the river
On the Night of Santiago

And yes she lied about her life
Her children and her husband
you were born to judge the world
Forgive me but I wasn’t

The Night of Santiago
And I was passing through
And I took her to the river
As any man would do


Posted in Poetry. Comments Off on Lorca raw: La casada infiel

Hibiscus and hyacinth

Locally this is called Rose of Sharon; the Latin name is hibiscus syriacus. In the language of flowers, hibiscus means “delicate beauty”.

And by moonlight? Maybe…

This is a hyacinth, but not the usual garden variety, like the grape hyacinth that blooms in the spring. By googling the beautiful and unusual black and white seeds, I have tracked it down as hyacinth bean vine, dolichos lablab or now lablab purpureus, also called Indian Bean and Egyptian Bean. It is grown in the tropics, especially Africa, for food. Are these the ramos de jacintos from Lorca’s La Casada Infiel?

Posted in photography. Comments Off on Hibiscus and hyacinth


Whenever I have more than six open windows on one subject, I like to start a post to keep track of the links. Sometimes I hit the publish button and sometimes I don’t.

These links on the Caló or Zincali or Cali language of the gypsies of Spain were acquired as a distraction from looking up Catalan. An as-yet-unexplored list of specialty dictionaries of Catalan, Spanish dialects, ancient and modern Romance languages, and esoteric specialty dictionaries like the Dictionnaires de mots croisés is here. I would add to that an online verb conjugator that includes Catalan.


Short Glossary: Caló. Idioma gitano. Lengua gitana (Romaní)

La lengua gitana (el Romaní) manifestación máxima de la cultura del pueblo, es una de las lenguas más antiguas del mundo. Tiene raíces sánscritas, y fueron los lingüistas de finales del siglo XVIII, Grelíman, Rúdiger, etc, los que pusieron las bases que apoyaban la afinidad entre el dialecto hablado por los gitanos y la lengua madre de la India….
De esta lengua surgieron otras…

De esta lengua Romaní, que actualmente hablan todos los gitanos del mundo, surgieron distintos dialectos Sinto, Kalderash, Lavará, Manúsh, Caló… y otros según los países en los cuales se iban asentando.

En España se habla el Caló, conserva un léxico básico de la lengua pero adoptando la estructura gramatical castellano….

[The gypsy tongue Romani is descended from Sanskrit in northern India. From this Romaní language are descended others from the various countries where the gypsies migrated: the separate dialects of Sinto, Kalderash, Lavará, Manúsh, Caló…. In Spain they speak Caló, which conserves their basic lexicon but adopts the Spanish grammatical structure. -Nijma]

Spanish-Gitano Glossary in PDF form VOCABULARIO CALÓ (gitano)- ESPAÑOL

Spanish Caló glossary with 1737 words Diccionario Romanó-Kaló creado por ROBER HEREDIA JIMENEZ (Lorca aficionados will notice the entries for Arañí,rañí-señora; Arañó,rañó-señor)

Dictionary of the Spanish Romani language from The Zincali – An Account of the Gypsies of Spain (google books full text), by George Borrow, a nineteenth century author

Diccionario Castellano-Caló; Vocabulario gitano. Calé (in HTML, with PDF and downloadable options) (notice here araña is rendered as arica “bee” !!!1!)

VOCABULARIO CALÓ ( A-G) (H-Z seems to be defunct, no wait, here it is. Both of these pages refused to load for me, yet when I returned and reopened them, there they were.)

Predecessors to George Barrow’s 1937 vocabularies that accompany the translation of Evangelio de San Lucas al caló and his pioneering book The Zincali (1841):

Vocabulario del Dialecto Jitano, Augusto Jimenez, Seville, 1846.
Vocabulario del dialecto gitano, Enrique Trujillo, 1844, (the first dictionary of the caló)

Universidades de Andalucía VOCABULARIO CALÓ (gitano)- ESPAÑOL (arañi here is translated as preñada–pregnant)
(my Oxford Spanish dictionary mentions the Chilean family usage of araña–[chandelier; zool. spider]–“to be a flirt”)

Posted in language. Comments Off on Calo

Nine flowers and two rather photogenic bees

Koran Burners-1, Islam-0

Hillary called it.

“…it’s regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get the world’s attention, but that’s the world we live in right now.”[Official State Department transcript]

It gets better.
The guy who is threatening to burn Korans on Sept 11, The Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., has

…fewer than 50 members in his church. He belongs to no denomination, has held no regional or national office for any church organization and has never held an academic position at a seminary or Bible college.

His church members don’t even support him.

And he was kicked out of his previous church:

A “climate of fear and control” had previously prevailed in the congregation, says one former member of the church who does not want to be named. Instead of free expression, “blind obedience” was demanded,…

In the meantime, the state department has issued a global travel alert, U.S. embassies have held Emergency Action Committee meetings, and U.S. Embassies in Algeria, Indonesia, Jordan and Syria have issued warden messages.

Because this is what is happening around the world, and no matter what else is happening, this is what the American public will see and this is what will shape the American view of Islam.

So what do you see? Bearded crazies threatening a tantrum?

So tell me again about Moderate Islam . Give me something to tell my old landlord who said to me this week “they just want to blow us up”.

This one right wing crackpot has succeeded in making Islam look idiotic.

And now another crackpot in Tennessee has decided to burn Korans.  You know what?  I think they should go ahead and burn the the Korans.  Burn some Bibles too, then throw in Moby Dick and Huckleburry Finn for good measure.

Becuase it will make absolutely no difference to anything at all.

What do they think–Allah is going to get too hot if a Koran is burned?  Does Allah live inside the Koran?  Can Allah be harmed by this action?

Does Allah even care?


Posted in Islam. Comments Off on Koran Burners-1, Islam-0

Eid Mubarak

Blessed Eid!

Eid will be celebrated in the U.S on Friday, but it is already Friday on some parts of the globe.

[Image courtesy of NASA.]

Posted in Islam. Comments Off on Eid Mubarak