Wednesday, August 31, 2011

right as rain

In a few months, the skies will subject their storehouses to being silently emptied. For now, the sound of heavenly cascades is more than enough to put all activity on pause and spend a few minutes just listening.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

tricks of the trade

I looked at the raw chicken sitting in my refrigerator the other day and remembered my Wycliffe cookbook that I purchased a few years ago. It contains recipes and cooking anecdotes from those who serve worldwide. I decided to see what I could find inspiring.

Instead, I discovered things like this. How did I get through the last 34 years of my life without knowing this stuff?

Place cottage cheese container upside down to keep twice as long.

To make fluffier omelets, add a pinch of cornstarch before beating.

To remove excess fat from soup, add lettuce leaves for a few minutes and remove before serving or add ice cubes and remove them immediately.

For too much garlic, add a small bunch of parsley for 10 minutes.

To remove unpleasant odors from the interior of the refrigerator, wipe with damp cloth sprinkled with vanilla flavoring.

To deter ants coming in through doors and windows, plant peppermint at entrances. The crushed leaves release the mint oils that drive ants away.

To keep granulated sugar from lumping, place a couple of saltine crackers in the container and cover tightly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That says it all.

Favorite mangled t-shirt English of the day:


Monday, August 22, 2011

Back in Black

Even in a city of seven million, 3 a.m. is a quiet time. So quiet, in fact, that I can hear crickets from 16 stories below. They have no idea that their serenades are broken only by intermittent crunches of Crispix mix coming from apartment 1604. My sleep has been dictated by circadian rhythm; after going to bed around 7 pm, I woke up and soon found that I was thinking and planning – a sign that my body is ready to expel some energy. I'll likely be up a few hours and will assimilate to a regular sleeping cycle before the sun comes up. Not bad.

Most of the students have returned. Classes resume on Monday, August 22, with only the freshmen being exempt because of mandatory military training that will last for at least two weeks. Since all of my classes are first-year students, that means I don't start teaching until after most of my colleagues do. I also finish later, but with international flights and an apartment yearning for some overdue dusting, I prefer to have the shifted semester. Plus, freshmen crack me up, and I gladly teach them despite the different schedule and the commute across town to get to their campus.

My arrival at the airport on Saturday night was celebrated by two friends, one being a local taxi driver and the other being a former student whose English name has been affectionately altered by my team to always begin with “Terrific.” Within minutes of stepping into my familiar little dorm apartment, I had to decide if I wanted to go to bed with or without a shower. With my water heater being unplugged for the summer, it was an easy choice. No hot water = no shower. I washed my face, brushed my teeth and unfolded some mismatched sheets.

Within the few minutes of settling down for some needed sleep, I received two messages. One was from Foster. He was already in the dorm of my lobby. I explained to him that I looked and felt like an extra off of “Tales from the Crypt,” and asked for a 24 hour delay. He understood. The second message was from a friend whom we met through our fellowship. He said that he had reserved a karaoke room for us after the service on Sunday, if I was up for it. I laughed out loud. Who else in their right mind would be ready for karaoke less than a day after being awake for 30 hours? I graciously declined, and he was as gracious in accepting my reply. But soon, very very soon....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's comin' back around...

1. I just placed an order for another pair of boots to take with me back to Harbin. I've worn more boots in the last three years than perhaps in the last decade. If you move to sub-Siberia, winter boots (moreover, well made winter boots) are indispensable.

2. I worked on a newsletter into the late hours of last night. If revisions are minimal, it should be printed and mailed out by August 20.

3. I wake up at 4:00 a.m. on Friday to drive to Atlanta, where I will pick up a dear friend who is traveling for five hours to see me. I met him during my first weekend in Harbin, so it seems only appropriate that I spend my last weekend at home showing him around.

4. I return to China on August 19, landing on August 20.