Happy Mother’s Day

Okay, ONE hour left in Central time in the U.S. to wish mothers a very special day today. We went to church, I played two violin duets with a former Korean student and then to pick up my folks.  I had to give my Mom our lilac and plum blossom bouquet first.  Then I also had along a Campfire coleus that requires full sun. That’s unusual for coleus which requires little to NO sun.  Then I also gave her a Ukrainian beaded necklace I bought for her a month ago in Kyiv.  Hard to believe I was there for ten days just a month ago.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Glad I’m back to our beautiful spring and how everything is greening out so nicely in the tree lines.  Our plums have been wonderful, next up will be our crabapple tree out front.  We are starting to get lilacs and then the chokecherry blossoms should be out as well.  Ken hosted my folks and me to a nice buffet this afternoon after church and then we went for a drive to a very famous nursery, it was bustling with activity, lots of flowers, plants, bare root trees were going out the door.  The grounds itself will be planted with whatever is left over from what people don’t buy.

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Ken and I planted our garden that I had in our bay window for several weeks.  We put out brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers and 24 different tomatoes.  Some insect was already eating up the leaves of the cauliflower and cabbage so I put SEVIN on it.  Now tonight I discovered that our ever so industrious gopher took out one of our peppers because he is setting up his mounded home in OUR garden. Ken put out some “bait” for that critter.  I DO NOT LIKE gophers!!!

Tonight Ken and I went for a drive in the countryside to our favorite asparagus patches and found some surprises and other places that are late bloomers.  I will bring some of that to work to share with others and also some lilac bouquets.  We are blessed to be living out in the countryside although right now it is VERY dusty.  We could use some rain soon.

For this month of May, I thought I better get this post done so I have at least two postings for my blog this month. I was advertising this to a genealogy group I spoke to last week.  I used to post every day while I lived in Kazakhstan.  Now being away from it for so long, I only keep up with what I am doing while living back in the U.S.  I am glad I still have visitors that come to this site…many are from either the US and Canada or Kazakhstan. I’m surprised how many other countries are represented in looking up about what I experienced while I lived and taught in both Almaty and Astana for about four years.  Great country. I wonder if I will ever get back to Kazakhstan again?

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Semester is FINISHED!

Rejoicing in the fact that I survived another semester of grading papers of my students…they are also thrilled to be done. However, they would not dare show that kind of glee in front of me, that I’m sure of.  I had an interesting group in my one class, one student was from India, another from Japan, a girl from China and finally, one other from Mongolia.  The rest of the class were first year Americans and they were a great group.

The one from India was my top international student, he was wonderful…always a smile on his face, a very pleasant personality. The second one from Japan always wore a scarf around his neck with his parka. I wondered if he was hiding something around his throat.  The one thing I LOVED about him was his deep laugh.  I guess I’m not used to Japanese laughing and he is a fourth-year student so perhaps he picked up other deep throated laughs from his American peers. Anyway, it was always fun to hear his laugh, he too was a very good student

The second one from Japan always wore a scarf around his neck while wearing his winter parka. It kept me wondering if he was hiding something around his throat.  The one thing I LOVED about him was his deep laugh.  I guess I’m not used to Japanese laughing and he is a fourth-year student so perhaps he picked up other deep throated laughs from his American peers. Anyway, it was always fun to hear his laugh, he too was a very good student and giving me multiple copies of papers he kept improving.

My student from China I had failed last semester and she had me again this spring. Maybe that was her mistake but I don’t think there were many other options for her. Apparently, she has some family issues back home to deal with, maybe something that happened to her in her childhood.  She is a mystery, in any case, I was sad that she did not finish the course with pulling out of all her other classes too.

Finally, my one student from Mongolia was a special case all her own.  By all outward appearances, she is very demure, soft spoken and sweet looking.  However, there is something very ugly inside of her.  She may be very smart in math but her idea of writing was to copy from sources and claim as her own.  We have the Turnitin feature for our research papers.  The first paper, she had 51% that was copied.  Generally, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe let go papers that are 10% or lower.  I asked her to re-write the paper in her own words. She did not.

By the time the final, research paper was due, she had only 200 words out of the required 2,000 words.  I had helped her find sources with using better keywords for her topic on outsourcing.  I helped her with an outline that she could work with to show claim and counterclaim for this persuasive paper.  She did not hand in by Moodle her paper and so I called her into my office.  I told her she was failing the class.

She acted surprised at this information of her failing my class. (At mid-semester I had given her a C- which should have been a clue) I said that it would not be fair to pass her if she was not understanding how to do APA formatting style or even not completing assignments.  She had not even alphabetized her bibliography which is a basic thing for any kind of formatting of resources.  She asked how my other international students did in my class.  I told her that some excelled over and above my American students, some were average and some, like her, had to take the class again.

Imagine my surprise, after I had given her the option of DROPPING my class that she sent me a very disrespectful e-mail.  She had told me that she would not be able to handle the extra course financially if she had to take Composition I over again.  I told her that after 12 credits, she doesn’t have to pay any extra money.  I don’t think she felt ashamed with failing, I really think she did NOT care about writing. It perhaps is not part of her culture to read and write and she happens to be very good in her math skills.

Her e-mail directed to me was that I should NOT fail students and that I was a bad teacher. She was going to take this case to the top level…the president of our university. Then she ended it with the “firetruck” word in describing me.  I thought at first that someone else had written this inflammatory and accusatory e-mail.  Come to find out that she took full responsibility for the wording of this message, she said she was angry.

I talked about this case with my department head and he, in turn, talked with her. He told her that she should apologize to me for her negative e-mail which he also found offensive.  I got a second e-mail from her soon afterward that I also have not responded to. She more or less wrote that she was sorry that she worded her first e-mail that way but I have to understand her culture that they get very emotional. Therefore, she was just emoting and that I should allow for that.  Again, I didn’t see her being remorseful for her action of disrespect but I’ll let it go.  I pity the writing teacher who will get her next fall.  They will have to hold her to the deadlines and not allow for her to stream in late to class.  Seems she is on her own time schedule.

Okay, I got that all written out about what has transpired over the last week.  That seems to negate the other GREAT students that I had in this particular class.  It ended well for others with As and Bs and one C.  Two other Americans either dropped or got an F grade.  So, I will have two more classes next semester and that is about right for me. I have much work to do right now with writing MNopedia articles for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Actually, that is what I should be doing right now but this has been a convenient distraction!

 

 

 

 

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Back to Life as Normal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReturned from Kyiv, Ukraine four days ago and am getting my sleeping schedule back to normal.  The first night I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. and got up at 4:00 a.m. the next morning, not bad. I did not sleep so well the 8-9 days I was in Kyiv, having jetlag is never easy. I also can’t sleep on planes…usually. However, the trip home proved different in that I slept half of the time and only because I was so tired from all the activities we did in Kyiv.

We went to a Chinese restaurant the first two nights, then another night we went to a Ukrainian opera which was very good.  The singing, orchestra and costumes were phenomenal.  On Saturday we went pysanki painting of real eggs under an instructor. Then Sunday I went to two church services which was at the same place just across the street from our hotel.  In between that I went on a four hour tour of the city with some of the university students and my traveling companions.

yellow blossoms

It was a beautiful day in Kyiv and I took pictures of blossoming magnolia trees and blooming daffodils. We are about a month behind all of this but I came home to greened up grass in the lawns.  Kyiv was still ahead, they had longer grass and even dandelions. Soon enough we will be mowing our lawn here which I don’t want to push that. Last summer we went for a LONG fall and that meant more grass cutting.

Not much else to add except that I had a tea party with some of my friends and used cup holders that my friends in Kyiv gave to us.  It was fun to give some eggs away too in keeping with Easter that is coming up.

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Good day today, I’m thankful for my parents who are still able to do things.

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What day is it today?

My husband and I did not April Fool each other. It was a usual day for spring, overcast sometimes and then sunny. I enjoyed being outside and cutting down the cockleburrs with my hubby to put in the bonfire.  There were other branches that I assembled to put at the top of the heap. I had cut the grape vine and some other chokecherry bushes down earlier and so they got picked up to burn.

My Dad came out with the newer, better mower so that really means that it is spring and time to think about what happens when that first grass gets long enough to mow.  I am thinking of all the gardens that need tending and that takes time and energy. That’s something I don’t have much of lately.  I’m still nursing my runner’s knee and know I need to NOT overextend myself.  I did several weeks ago when moving my folks stuff from their place. They are fully moved into their two bedroom apartment but now to sell the house.  I think it will move quickly.

I leave tomorrow for a place that I used to teach at for 6-7 years. Some people are still living in Kyiv from the ten years ago when we were there.  I look forward to seeing my bosses from our former university where we taught. I think it will be a fun time of reconnecting with people again.

I’ve packed and am ready for bed.  This is my April Fools, I’m leaving on a jet plane and I DO know when I’ll be back again! I wish my husband were going with me just like old times. Packing for a week is different than packing for four months.  I have room in my two big suitcases that are supposed to weigh 50 pounds each.

The picture below is when I taught in China for two years, the rest are expat friends and we are showing off our “kitty kat” plates that students gave us. Wish I had one now, 35 years later.

kittykat plates 1988

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Series of Sunrise photos

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday morning I could see that there was going to be a beautiful sunrise.  If this were a time lapse sequence it would have taken about 10-15 minutes from the start of when I got my first picture to the last.  After that, it was a gloomy day while it rained almost two inches. We do NOT need the rain because it makes our gravel roads very sloppy.

I stayed home all day and got some things accomplished on my articles that I need to write, I’m actually getting paid for this.  I find many other things to distract me so that is why I am glad I didn’t go into town.  I need to get things organized before I go overseas for ten days starting next week.  Maybe during down time, in airports or on the planes while traveling, I can write what has been on my “to-do” list since last September. The deadline is this upcoming September but I want these six articles that are 700 words each to be done by May.

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So, kind of like a sunrise that takes time to happen, my writing is taking the same kind of time to evolve.  Mine isn’t like clockwork and it isn’t pretty like these shots are.  Also, I need to add something from the Expat Arrivals website…I hope this turns out after my last photo. Check out what I wrote about my time spent in Kazakhstan.  I’m far removed from that country now as of five years ago but I keep up with my Kazakh friends on Facebook.

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Delay and procrastinate…name of game

1954 Ameel with Ford pickup and presentsI took about three hours, maybe more to clean out my bay window of plants, clean the pots, transplant about four others that needed better planters and cleaned other things.  Now I have the debris out and I want to look at it from my table where I have my laptop set up.

However, I am delaying and procrastinating what clean up job needs to happen next.  I have my whole dining room table filled with pictures that I have sorted and also about 7-8 boxes worth of albums from both sides of the family waiting to be stored somewhere…Anywhere but where they are sitting now.

Unfortunately, that means I have to clean my upstairs closets in order to put these very old, vintage photos and pictures away.  I don’t have children to hand this down to so really I should have siblings with kids take on these pictures.  However, I LOVE old pictures and the stories they tell.  On Facebook I have different people looking at the cars and giving their opinions about the old type cars, never mind that they also show my dear grandpas from both sides.

After I do this blog, then I will turn to the inevitable and I will have the satisfying feeling of a clean, new room that is freshly cleaned and ready for company.  We will have some of my husband’s friends come in a month to visit him.  That means we have to get some of the newly inherited double beds up into the bedrooms upstairs that have a single bed and another small futon.

Domino affect, I have to clean out those closets in order to put the boxes I’m getting organized here in the dining room. NEVER ends!  Okay, that is why it is good to take a picture of the sunsets and that is what I did on the first day of spring. Many people on Facebook really liked one in particular.  1942 Glen on Trixie

Back to work…as much as I would love to continue with my delay and procrastinating ways.

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Spring forward to Day Light Savings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADifficult to get used to every spring where we LOSE an hour of precious sleep. I’m grateful that we were able to make it to church this morning. That’s despite my not finding my curling iron to curl my hair, however, in our flurry to leave, I DID find my makeup so that was good.  I had to lead worship so when I arrived, all was peaceful and calm and our practice went well.

I would have liked to have my sister and nephew join us but they were intent on getting home along with other brother enroute to Wisconsin and the other south of the Twin Cities.  So, this weekend was a “family affair” with helping my Dad to clear out his shop that is full of inventory and other various things.  We filled a dumpster rolloff with no problem in one day…I think it will take another 3-4 of these to purge the large place of all its contents.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can see by the photo what the building looks like, it is one of the older ones in our hometown. It used to be a brewery along the river. Many people are interested in it for different reasons. Some think of a classy restaurant, others think of a sports place for bikers or hikers or skiers in the winter time.  Whoever buys this place better have a LOT of money to put a new roof on and to also upgrade it for future customers.

In the meantime, we had a nice time working together as a family unit as my Dad was somewhat detached from it all.  He is almost 87 years old, afterall.  We have moved our folks to their new apartment and so now their house will be up for sale soon.  Many transitions.

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The major one for me this morning was to get myself put together after visiting with my siblings at a Mexican restaurant after a full day of work at the shop.  End of the first day of skipping an hour ahead.  The sun seemed to up sooner but our bodies felt like it was too early.  Tomorrow should be easier because we have a week off of teaching because of Spring Break!  Hurray!

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