Well, would you look at that!

…end of the year already!  Indeed, we have already turned the 2016 calendar to the last month of December and that will go into overdrive with all the activities that have to happen before the end of the year. I just started having my comp students do their powerpoint presentations today, four of them.  They were all good, however, two read from their note cards, one had good eye contact using a Prezi presentation and the last one did the best. However, I didn’t agree with his topic or the position he took. Just the same, he did an outstanding job, he is my top student in that class.

Then afterwards I met with a student who is failing and it would seem that she does NOT quite understand some of the important APA formatting rules that I had already gone over with her in Paper 3. I’m flummoxed by how some of these students seem like normal, nice kids but they do NOT seem to connect with key concepts.  I found out that I am not the only one experiencing this as a teacher to these freshmen students. Other teachers have commented on the same thing.  Okay, that means these students that were born just before the turn of the century have something else going on in their upbringing? Or is it their education?

We have students from all over the country and I have another class with mainly Korean and Chinese students.  My three Korean students are getting top grades and they understand the concepts I have given them.  Getting back to my one student who is failing, she may just give this class a drop and do it over again next fall.  In any case, she told me she is not doing well in her other classes either.  I think she needs to just focus on those classes so she doesn’t fail on all of them as well.

I have ONE more week of teaching and then I need to start working on my historical grant that I was awarded and write on things relevant to my region of the state. Not much is known about our farmers working the rich agricultural soil. Unfortunately, we are so out of the way for people 4-5 hours from us to the south. I kind of understand and can relate to what the people in Kazakhstan must feel like with the rest of the world. I know they are hyper sensitive to either being ignored or not given the respect they should have with their long traditions and rich history. In a small way, that is what it feels like to be from this area of the “fly-over” country where our voice is not heard or at least disregarded by those elites in a crowded city setting who are the “big shots” and seemingly call all the shots.

Okay, enough of my grousing, I should really turn in for the evening. I have Christmas cards that I am writing out. Today I mailed out about 35-40 and I have about 25 more to write.  My husband has about 60 of his own to write but he is on a different schedule than me.  I have packing and Christmas presents to put together.  At the end of the month we will drive with my folks to see my brother and his family in Wisconsin and celebrate his birthday on Dec. 31st.

More about my Christmas vacation plans later.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Spoons and rain

Okay, I realize I haven’t written for most of November but I do have my reasons.  First of all, I have been busy with student papers. Then next, I have been busy with music and practicing the piano and singing at the same time.  Quite an accomplishment for me since I learned to read notes and to sing and play simultaneously is a stretch.  Next, I started a new series in our local newspaper which puts added stress on me to get things written once a week. Also, I should be researching for the grant that I was awarded about history articles about our area of the state. Finally, we had guests over for Thanksgiving, my family from the Cities and also my folks.

I forgot to mention that we celebrated my parents’ 62 wedding anniversary and so that was part of Nov. 14th that we took them out to a local restaurant. Now I have had papers to grade that I handed back yesterday and today. They were all rough drafts but I needed to put my comments down about their doing APA formatting right or getting their thesis statement done concisely.  My students needed to show their claim about their chosen topic and then also the counterclaim.  Most of my American students didn’t get that concept, my Asian students did.

So, you may ask why am I doing another series for the newspaper? I just finished an 8 week series with my students writing about their grandparent. I had to put that all together but it was their writing and my doing a bit of editing or touchup.  I hear from people that they like to read what I write and that is affirming. However, when I write history, I want to get my facts right and sometimes that is what takes the extra time to get it right and yet keep in readable.

I talk to my students about their voice and about their reading audience. Now I will have them convert their research papers to a 10 minute powerpoint presentation and many of them have done it in their own language. It will be a challenge for some to talk in their second language of English. I’m not too worried about my international students. I think it is my native born American students who have entered our college and the standards from high school have been lowered. Therefore, they have some catching up to do. Some are getting it and writing perfect References pages, others seem to not care.

Well, it was good to have my family over for Thanksgiving during our break away from scholarly pursuits. My nephew, who was adopted about ten years ago from Russia, mentioned that we should play SPOONS. That was after we had eaten to our fill, the traditional turkey, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lefse, etc.  It was a good meal. We then passed out cards and proceeded to have spoons placed on the table minus one of the people sitting around the table.  Once the playing cards were passed after each had four cards to work with, then the fun began. Whoever got the first set of four cards would quietly grab a spoon and at that point then everyone else is grabbing for the spoons.

We downsized and got the table smaller for our next round after my one sister won. That may have been our first mistake because when we had another play 3 rounds later, that is when my brother overreached and broke our table. We all had a good laugh about that and then we realized that was the end of our night. Everyone had to take the VERY muddy roads that the rain had left us.  We played spoons and then my company left in the rain. I followed all three cards heading back into town and they made it through the mud at a much slower speed.

I am grateful to be alive and that my husband is living. Oh, I forgot to mention that this month involved his being in the hospital for three days with a blood clot in his lung. I think that would be ONE more reason why I haven’t written that much this month. I was happy to have him returned home after that scare.  Yes, I have a LOT to be thankful in the aftermath of this Thanksgiving season.



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Amazing November, Semester soon ending!


Sunrise on the plains, this was a murky morning. We are down to Week 12 out of 16 weeks and essentially, after our Thanksgiving in the end of November, then it is a downhill slide to the end of the semester. I’ll have my 35 composition students give their powerpoint presentations on their last research paper and then it is grading time and we are out of here!  The weather yesterday was 75 degrees which is unusual for November but it goes along with our remarkable summer and fall we experienced.  Technically we could be getting snow at any time and it would stay until March or April.  For now the grass is green and the sunsets have been magnificent.


The above is a sunset that I caught about 3-4 days ago. I got a LOT of responses on it from my FB friends. I guess I don’t realize how fortunate I am to capture these scenes in the sky that last almost a half hour. This one did and when I thought I was done taking pictures, I turned around and there were MORE photos to take.  The comments that I get from others is that they wish they could see these sunsets like I do or other “magnificent” or “spectacular” kinds of comments.  One would think people would get tired of these colorful sky photos but that is NOT the case, people seem to soak it up.


So, one thing I learned today was that the heavenlies are looking down to see what we do with the talents that we have been given.  I’m hoping that I can encourage my students tomorrow and let them know they are making great progress in learning how to format APA type research papers.  I just graded 17 of these papers and they are all over the board, not conforming to the rules of APA but I will get them there in about four weeks.

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October about to End

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI realize I should post something before November approaches in two days. Above you can see the horizon’s sunrise last week. Very tranquil  I have been busy this month with canning vegetables, going to Florida for three days, teaching two composition classes and whatever else is on my plate.  Oh, I have been working at the Carnegie lately because I have to write about 5-6 articles with this grant that I was awarded, along with two other researchers for a total of 15 articles.  My brother came up to visit us last weekend which was fun to sit and talk to him late into the night.  Late for me is 10:30 p.m. for him that is just the start of the evening…he is a night ow.

Tomorrow is Halloween and I am not doing anything in honor of that day. My husband and I plan to hunker down and not celebrate in any way. We don’t have young children coming around in their costumes to beg for trick or TREATS!  Good thing, we would only have apples or pumpkin pie to serve them.  I have been selling 2017 calendars in this past week and they have been going like hotcakes.  You have to get those calendars out to people before they get them for free or they buy them.  Our two calendars are with the Carnegie and also the museum.  They seem to be even as to what people want to buy, not one is winning over the other. Both are different in what they emphasize, the Carnegie is colorful with people shots and the interior of the Carnegie.  The other is from 12 different towns in our county, old vintage photos.

Today after church I did something I wouldn’t normally do.  I made Killer Cleaning paste with 1 cup of baking soda, 4 T. hydrogen peroxide and 20 drops of lemon Essential oil.  The other is Natural Laundry detergent with 1 bar of grated soap, 1 cup of washing soda, 1 cup of borax (or additional washing soda) and 20 drops of Essential oil.  You are supposed to store that in an airtight glass jar.  Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load of laundry.

Finally we made Fizzy Bath Bombs with 1/2 cup citric acid, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 c. corn starch, 1/4 cup olive oil, 4-5 drops of my favorite Essential oil. This all makes 1 1/2 cups.  You are supposed to let this sit for at least 24 hours in a Easter egg shell but putting it in a ball in a plastic works just as well.

Anyway, that is the latest I have to report of what I’ve been doing lately.  I should be preparing for tomorrow’s class but I’d rather write here instead.



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Birthday celebration with Sisters


My mom’s bouquet and my card with decorative gourds

It started out as a lark about 3 weeks ago and it became a reality several days ago. I’m glad I went to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday in Florida along with my two other sisters who live in Minnesota.  We all had different flight times for our arrival but the BIG day was Oct. 12th, Wed. and that is when we went to a nice restaurant that evening to celebrate with her family as well as us FOUR sisters!

What happened on the way down for me was that I had a plane change to make and I just wanted to sleep at the very beginning of my flights. My first flight was 5:00 a.m. in the morning!  That meant that my husband and I had to get up at 2:30 a.m. to get on the road by 3:00 a.m. to be at the airport by 4:00 a.m. to be leaving by 5:00 a.m.  I just had a carry on piece of luggage.

When I got to the bigger airport for a departure time of 9:00 a.m. I told them that I wanted a window seat so I could sleep.  That was accomplished and I was in the VERY back of the big plane that was loaded with over 200 people, no empty seats to Florida!  I heard that they were taking carry on luggage to be checked and I could get on the plane earlier.  That worked for me so I bolted forward to get my tag and make it to the end of the plane.  Apparently someone saw in the front rows, I’m not sure how she recognized me since I have NOT seen her in about 45 years.  People change!  I thought I had changed enough too.

The plane arrived in Florida and ordinarily I would have had my luggage with me but I had to go to the checked baggage area before I met up with my sister.  This person who knew me from high school was waiting for me to show up as her husband was retrieving their luggage.  I did NOT know who was calling my name.  She said her name and then of course I recognized her…she was a class below me. She told me she has read both my books on our hometown and loves to read my newspaper articles.  We gave each other hugs and I told her why I was down…to celebrate my sister’s birthday.


When in Florida you MUST have painted nails!

So even though I don’t make any money writing these articles and I barely get any royalty on the books I’ve written for Arcadia press, I do have a following.  That was nice to know and despite the fact that I had NO make up on and was ready to swim in my sister’s pool, this person recognized me.  Small world, right?


Birthday girl with her adoring sisters




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Sunrise and Harvest


Today’s sunrise, the usual amazing view from our front yard

This morning was beautiful to behold, the beet trucks weren’t hauling or running yet and the sun was just quietly rising. No wind made for a peaceful start of the day. I am also very happy that I bought a used bench that I put in the front of the house. Beside that on the front step are pumpkins from our garden. Also, we have decorative gourds that are called Gremlins.


Gremlin decorative gourds

My husband and I went to our university’s football game today, they lost yet again but they are not in the right division. They are playing schools with LARGE enrollments and large budgets. We have guys from TX, AZ, CA, HI and FL. These are young men who LOVE playing football and want to get a degree by the end of four years. We are there to support these players because they are far from their usual support group from home.

So, we had a nice meal when we got home just out of the crock pot and then we had different things to do before sun down. There are tomatoes to pick and I am still getting sweet peas. I’ll keep picking those until the first hard frost shuts them down.

For now, I will enjoy sitting on my front step bench and watching the sunrises.


Taking a selfie with my new bench to watch sunrises


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Interesting Historical Discovery

Evidence of ancient Christianity discovered in Kazakhstan

By Tom Davis on Sep 22, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following report is by the Tandy Institute for Archaeology’s Tom Davis, professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds at Southwestern Seminary as well as chair of its archaeology department.

The ancient city of Ilyn Balik, known from pilgrims’ travels and historical texts, has been discovered in Kazakhstan. Historians of Christianity along the Silk Road have known of travelers’ accounts of Christian communities in the region and in the ancient city of Ilyn Balik, but now, recent excavations at the village of Usharal, 60 kilometers from the Chinese border, have uncovered the ancient city as well as the site’s cemetery, where eight gravestones have been found.

This discovery is the first archaeological evidence for a Christian community in the borders of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This discovery supports the understanding of ancient Kazakhstan as a multi-cultural center between the East and West, with Muslims, Buddhists and Christians living among the local herdsmen and nomadic tribes.

A local resident of Usharal reported the discovery of an inscribed stone marked with a cross two years ago. The stone was recovered, but the original location of that stone is not known. The Kazakhstan government, cognizant of their multi-cultural history, has created the Center for Cultural Rapprochement under Karl Baipakov, Kazakhstan’s leading archaeologist and a world-renowned specialist on the Silk Road. Under Baipakov’s leadership, the Center has encouraged archaeological work focused on illuminating the varied cultural strains in Kazakhstan’s history and actively supports the joint teams’ efforts.

Baipakov encouraged the formation of a joint international team from Archaeological Expertise LLC based in Almaty, Kazakhstan (under Dimitri Voyakin), and the Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (under the joint direction of Steve Ortiz and Tom Davis), to investigate the discovery. The joint team began investigations of the site of Ilyn Balik, a medieval city never before excavated, within the boundaries of Usharal late this summer.

The team discovered seven inscribed gravestones clustered on the surface outside of the main area of settlement of the site. The suspected grave markers all have inscribed Nestorian-style crosses, and two of them have fragmentary inscriptions.

The new discoveries provide context for the previously discovered inscribed stone and most likely indicate an extra-mural cemetery and possibly an associated Christian community. One of the inscriptions in Old Syriac has been partially deciphered by the Tandy Institute’s epigrapher, Ryan Stokes, associate professor of Old Testament at Southwestern, and indicates a date of 1162 A.D.

The local Christian community has reacted with joy to the news of the new discoveries. One believer responded, “So nobody can tell me that I don’t have Christian roots.”

The Nestorian gravestones show that Christianity was present in Kazakhstan long before Western imperialism. It is, in fact, an element of historic Kazakh identity.

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