Stormed out today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe snow is falling, light and fluffy and with a LOT of it as promised it will be wonderful for x-country skiing.  However, we are supposed to get 30 mph winds so that will make it a virtual white out.  I hope to get most of my classwork ready for Tuesday classes and then I’ll go out in this winter wonderland.  However, we might be blocked in with too much snow.

Fortunately, we have good neighbors 1 1/2 miles down the road that bring their big tractor to push the snow out of our driveways.  I gave a rose bouquet to the wife of the wonderful neighbor since it was Valentine’s day that he did it.  Before he showed up, I had asked my husband to snowblow our yard as a Valentine’s present.  Then, the tractor came.  My husband brought me to a nice Sweetheart dinner in town before we went to a jazz band concert.

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Stormy out means we are socked in for the day.  We went into town for church but it had been canceled.  The highways were not plowed out but we could still navigate okay.  Someone else had come in from 30 miles away and got back home safely.  We had our adventure, best to stay inside where it is warm.

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More skating in Astana, Kazakhstan

four countriesI suppose many people are watching the Winter Olympics in Korea, some amazing talent there!  Not sure who took this photo of four nations represented but we were skating on a frozen solid river in Astana, Kazakhstan.  On the left is a former Kazakh student, then Wilma from Netherlands, a guy from U.K. who liked to travel everywhere and me.  Seven years ago I was teaching and living in Astana, the coldest capital in the world, second to Ulan Baatar in Mongolia.  Yes, when the winds swept through the northern plains to Kazakhstan you wondered what the weather was like north of us, in Russia.

Didn’t matter the temp or the wind chill, an expat friend of mine from U.K. would cross country ski every day along the river in Astana.  I thought she might have been crazy or part Norwegian but this was her usual thing to do while her husband had some kind of government job.  Wonderful couple, I wonder where they are or if Wilma is back in Holland.  I keep up with most of my former students from NAU through FB.

I’m amazed that I had so many visitors to this blog yesterday, must have been something I wrote or the pictures I put up.  I used to have over a 100 a day when I was actually living in Kazakhstan and talking about the culture and people.  Now I just put up occasional pictures of my life back in Minnesota.  The following is something I see a LOT of on our northern plains.

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Life may be cold here, as it is in Astana, but the hearts are warm and we have memories to go on.  I doubt that I’ll ever get back to Central Asia after having lived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for 1 1/2 years and Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan for 2 1/2 years, over four years.

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Skating in Astana

Seven years ago I was crazy enough to go skating on the small river that weaves through Astana. It was very frozen…no worries there of falling through.  Probably it had been frozen sinc November and would not melt until the following April or May.  Anyway, it was fun to skate with a woman from Holland and with a former Kazakh student of mine.  I’m not sure where I got the ice skates, probably from another ex-pat who had left them behind.

Skating in Astana

There had been some winter activity in Astana where Bota, as a volunteer, had an actual uniform and name tag for one of the ice arenas.  She skated fairly well, my friend from the Netherlands was a good skater and the ice was smooth enough to go backwards or forwards.  I have not skated since seven years ago when this picture was taken.

I understand that Astana has recently had some incredibly cold temps and high winds, I hear from people who I know who live and teach at Nazarbayev University.  One American and another British guy are teachers at NU.  Also, not only have I heard about the cold weather in Astana but the very, very strong winds. I saw photos of how people were standing on the sidewalk and just pushed along by the wind or how dangerous it was for even cars to drive.

As for me, I’m in cold Minnesota and we just have to worry about negative temps and some strong winds with blowing snows but nothing as horrific as what Astana experiences. Here’s a photo of our country that is very flat looking outside our second story window.

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Another photo shows our winter when it is beautiful and pure white, when all is still.

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when all is still

 

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More snow and cold with x-country skiing

I realize that when one has cold and wind combined it makes for a dreary winter.  But when the sun comes out and the temps warm with only a slight breeze then one’s idea about living so far north and in the cold climates changes.

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I adventured out today on my x-country skis and it was a glorious hour of breaking trail and hiding behind the tree rows to be protected from the wind that had a chill to it.  I also saw the fox had been out on the snow earlier.  They were probably hunting down the rabbits.

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The tracks of the prowling animal shows claws so I suspect that it is a fox, but it could be a coyote too.  What do you think?

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I went back to the house after going around in the tree rows and getting the HUGE drifts in our north shelterbelt.  There were more tracks going in that direction too.

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What a good day it was to be out in the fresh air, I came back into the house with VERY red cheeks after getting such good exercise skiing!

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Aftermath of full blown blizzard

Wow, what a difference it makes to have the sun out again after being cooped up in the house for a whole day because of a blizzard.  The photos below are showing what it looked like in the morning, it didn’t change until the winds died down and the sun came out the next day, today.

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See how the surroundings looked the next day, what a difference the sun makes.

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Of course, a little Jack Frost thrown in for good measure on our eastern window doesn’t hurt.  After last week and 30-40 mph winds from the south blew in snirt and snow, the past few days was a fresh layer of snow blown in from the north at 30 mph.  We have promise of about three more months of this weather.  May as well enjoy the scenes while inside a warm house.

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I understand from my friends in Kazakhstan that they have been having some low temps and fierce winds. I remember those days of having 60 mph winds push you past the crosswalk where you thought you were planted solidly until the traffic light signaled for you to cross safely as a pedestrian.  Nothing like that here where I live.

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More photos of China from 1986-88

cranes in Qiqihar

These cranes were up in Qiqihar, northern China, north of Harbin. They are considered good luck among the Chinese, they also live to be 100 years old.  They are big birds and have the red part on their head.  Magnificent birds!

making noodles 1987

Back in town, you could see vendors making noodles by just swinging around dough in a circle like a jump rope…then they would separate out into noodles to eat.  Pretty amazing to watch your lunch go from dough to be boiled up as a noodle to eat with other dishes.

Darrell Parr, photographer

Above is Darrell Parr who was the photographer of all these photos I’ve been showing. I can’t take the credit for them.  Darrell is about to turn 90 and his son transferred all his slides to digital and so I have gone through the 100s that were made available to show on this blog.

Pick a bike, any bike

This bike rack is just down the main street in Harbin, Heilongjiang where off to the left you can see the Quilin department store that was built by the Russians earlier.  Whenever we would go to buy something at this store, it was always like Christmas every day.  The people trying to buy things were 3 deep and to try and get the clerk’s attention to get what was under the glass display case was always a trial.  They were not too cooperative as they didn’t seem to care about the customer.  Different from our American motto: “The customer is always right.”

Things have really changed in China since these days of photos taken by Darrell from 1986-88.

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My time in China photos

Chinese wagonI lived and taught English at H.I.T. in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China from 1986-88.  These are photos taken from slides and transferred digitally.  Amazing what I saw back then and what I have forgotten over 30 years later.  I DO remember going to a restricted city in NE China and going on a steam engine train.  Here’s a train looking like it is full of steam.  What was memorable about the one I rode was that it would stop every 15-20 minutes to fill up at the next water station.  I didn’t sleep well for that whole night ride.  China train

There were the church bells and other European buildings in Harbin that I observed. Someone on my team was REALLY into the history of the area and learned a lot from the members of the Orthodox church.  How I wish I would have written down what Rich said about the Polish and Russian worshippers who continued having services in the old churches built a century ago.  Chinese bell monument

Orthodox church in Harbin

I’ll share more photos of old time China tomorrow.  Fun to review what was part of that era and how much China has changed since the 1980s.

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