Saw the Play “Diary of Anne Franke”

Last night my folks, husband and I witnessed the intensity of living in an upstairs room, maybe attic of an Amsterdam business.  Ken and I have walked by this place and so it was easy for me to imagine what they could see out their windows when they referred to the channel next to their place. The sound effects also could be the goose step sounds of the Nazi soldiers marching down the narrow streets next to their building.  Apparently Mr. Otto Frank was a very highly respected man, in whatever profession he had been in before he and his wife and two daughters went into hiding.  Then you see the Von Daan family joined them because the father of Peter Von Daan had helped Mr. Frank move into the Netherlands.

The Frank family had originally lived and had come from Frankfurt, Germany. When escaping their home in a rush, Mr. Frank had purposely put an address in the wastebasket for Zurich, Switzerland so that had thrown the enemy off thinking that is where they had escaped to.  Instead, they were in Amsterdam and holed up in the one place without going outside for over a year and a half.

The eight people were fed by kind people who were downstairs with an office, Mr. Kaler and a lady named Miep.  They had added on a Mr. Dussel who was NOT a likeable character at all. Food became short and tempers became shorter. On Sept. 4, 1944, the Green Police stormed into their attic and they had five minutes to bring their belongings with them where the women were separated.  Otto went to Auschwitz and Anne and her sister Margot went to Bergen Belsen where they may have died of typhus six months after their capture in Feb. or March of 1945. Apparently their mother had stayed behind and died of starvation.  Otto Frank was in the concentration camp that was liberated and he returned to Amsterdam to find out about his family’s fate.

He found Anne’s diary and did all he could to preserve her memory of what she captured from her 13-15 year old perspective of life in hiding.  Otto Frank died in 1980.  An estimated 30,000 Dutch Jews stayed in hiding in the Netherlands but 100,000 perished in the Nazi death camps.  I would tell my writing students that writing our memories down in whatever format is important for posterity’s sake.  What an evening it was and now my day will begin with a 5K walk and then birthday brunch with my husband then a birthday party at the Carnegie and then finally this evening we will have a jazz band concert/dance at the Carnegie.  Better get ready for the day!!!!!!

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April Fools in the NEW Movie just out!

I taught my composition classes this morning and then left the university to go home to pick up my husband so we would go shopping about 25 miles from our place.  I had THREE, no four things I needed to get…music for violin and flute duets.  Check. Tablecloth for the Carnegie to match the other three that I had already gotten last year. Check. Bins for our wash sink basin. Check. Finally, running (walking) shoes and I LOVE Saucony shoes. Check!

Then my husband wanted to go to a movie that had JUST come out today…God’s NOT Dead Part II. It was very well done and I was emotionally connected to it on many different levels.  I teach at a university and so I know the age group that this was set for.  The family dynamics for the one girl was very messy. The teacher was brought to court because she had quoted a passage from Scripture and one evil attorney wanted to ruin her. He was very clever but the teacher’s attorney who represented her in front of a judge and jury outfoxed the guy.  I was totally taken in by the plot and when the credits rolled at the end, they showed the number of court cases that have already happened where Christian teachers have had lawsuits filed against them by ACLU types. There must have been about 25-30 that have happened all over our nation. Sickening.  April Fools Day was an appropriate day to have the first day showing of this movie…it showed who the REAL fools were!

There were other plots intertwined with this as well. The song group Newsboys was on this show as well as Lee Stroebel and Mike Huckabee. Others were in this movie but I didn’t know them since we don’t watch t.v.  Anyway, I’m glad we had our date together. Then we stopped by unannounced to a friend’s place and we talked and caught up. He has recently published another book about Germans from Russia and what he has found out in his five years of writing and researching this.  We went out for supper together and then came home.

Once home, I got my violin out and practiced every song in the two song books that I had bought.  Some will work better than others…now to just make photo copies of some of these songs and practice together with the flute player.  Good day for being April Fools day!

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The latest from the classroom

Another Gray Comp ClassI have some great composition students this semester. One class is a bit slower but steady…another is more awake and doing better. I like them all.  We are in the last leg of the course and they are all invested in a topic of their choice. There were those that I had eliminated because *I* do not want to read about abortion, death penalty, GMOs, legalization of drugs, global warming, etc.  They have a wide array of things to choose from and some will be very interesting.

One Korean gal is going to write about the Veri-chip which I know nothing about.  Another will write about the Green Revolution, again, I’ll learn from my student on that.  I always have my college athletes who write about how college football players should be paid.  I might have another who will want to persuade others that college tuition should be free. Someone did that last year and found out that they was quite a reaction amongst her peers.  I always have them look at each other’s chosen topics and give feedback anonymously about each one.  So, they could end up with other views or thoughts from 25 of their classmates.  This proves helpful when they are writing on the other side for their persuasive essay. I want to make sure that they allow for another opinion instead of launching off about how they are right, the sources they found are accurate and if you don’t believe it, you are an idiot sort of persuasion.

These students will be giving their papers in powerpoint form to their classmates and I usually invite outsiders to come and critique and give their opinion about what they have come up with.  It is a win-win because it prepares the students to be more formal and not so casual as if they are only doing this presentation just for their peers. They have to keep in mind that there are outsiders who come in and don’t know everything on the topic they are reporting on.  I have someone talking about bee-keeping and someone else about hunting of wolves.  They have to find at least 5-6 sources from academic journals that can back them up. They are NOT allowed to use first person pronouns.  I tell them they need to find experts that can cover their back.  This means they are not in high school anymore where they can spout off whatever they find from doing a google search, they have to discover the research databases that our university provides.

Yes, we are ALL ready for summer and the end of this school year. We have had unseasonably warm days already which fools us into thinking that spring is really, really here.  Maybe it is, we have all the birds gathered around our bird feeder and also drinking and bathing in the water of our bird bath.  I’ve lived in Minnesota long enough to know that we could STILL have a winter like blizzard, even up to May.  So we are all bracing ourselves for that inevitable event…for now we are enjoying the warm spring temps.

Gray Comp Class

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Saw first robin yesterday – spring is officially here!


western horizon with wet fields from melt

I was doing the usual yard work that one does when the snow is gone and the temps are in the 60s.  Yesterday evening in the shelter belt of trees where we have wild raspberries growing, I was raking out the extra dead branches and other old leaves.  I could hear birds chirping and that was a welcome sound.  Then as I was bringing bigger limbs of trees that I had cut last fall to the burn pile, I saw a skinny robin.  That IS a welcome sight because that can mean only one thing, spring is officially here!  There have been vast V-formations of geese flying north so that is another sign of spring.

We did the “Seven Last Words” by Theodore Dubois on Sunday and there were about 35 of us singers with the four soloists, an organist and pianist.  That too is another sign of spring and I am NOW ready for Easter after having practiced those words set to music.  I captured some recent sunsets and during the spring when the air is clear is a good time to do that.  So, without much else to write about…I am attaching some photos.


shelter belt trees close to the wild raspberries

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Another sunrise shot with Jack Frost at the window


Sunrise with Jack Frost peering in

We survived the caucuses the other night and now we are on for eight more months of political talk and (lies).  I think the American public is fed up with this and so that is why looking at sunrises, skyscapes and sunsets seem to be a nice break from it all.  I think too there is someone from Canada who really liked looking at my blog yesterday, there were almost 300 hits and I’m used to have just 75 to 100 hits per day even though I don’t write much any more about Kazakhstan.  All very interesting.


Shelter belt shot

A GOP debate tonight will be missed again by us, purposefully.  We did watch the 20 minute spiel by Mitt Romney this morning when he was looking very statesman like and talked about the con man who is running a charade.  We had a governor in Minnesota who was obviously not a politician but rather a show man, he knew how to con the votes out of Republicans and Democrats and ran as an independent.  Well, the state of Minnesota had enough of Jesse V. and so we will not stomach another with Donny T.  We voted on Super Tuesday for Rubio instead. He was not my choice but then the guy who won Texas and Oklahoma was.  We shall see on March 15th what happens with the remaining delegates…all very interesting.  We are at a crossroads.


Looking into the prairie horizon

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Mid-February sundogs!!!


southern sundog with sunrise


northern sundog with early morning sunrise

These sunrise photos were quite the hit with people on my Facebook hometown page. I just took it with my simple camera that does NOT have a wide angle lens which would have been helpful to catch BOTH sundogs at the same time.  I also showed the photos to my students and asked if they knew what sundogs were. A few did but many others didn’t. That particular morning was about 10 degrees BELOW Fahrenheit and that is when this phenomenon happens, when it is extremely cold.  I asked if they had ever seen moondogs, fewer had seen that.

Anyway, when there is nothing much else to report, mid-February sundogs seem appropriate.  I just went to a Professional Development workshop yesterday…all day.  It was somewhat helpful about doing “active teaching.”  Something that I already do with my composition students. I WANT them to be actively engaged in what they are learning.  We had a concurrent session in the afternoon, after a nice buffet lunch, that was about relieving stress, what to do about it.  We were asked to eat a chocolate covered potato chip. I have NEVER eaten one so slowly, usually those chippers go down very quickly.  They are hand made by our local candy store, one chip at a time. No factory or mechanization involved and they are very popular for those long winter nights.

I said that singing helps with stress even though I recognized that not everyone in the group is musical.  The moderators agreed that singing is a GOOD thing to promote in order to take the burdens off.  I led in worship on Sunday and that was not as stressful because I had other singers who supported me and we were able to pull it off.  It was a last minute request of me the night before. It would have been stressful for me but I chose songs that *I* liked and that I knew other people knew.  For Valentines day and my husband gave me three, beautiful red roses.  I gave him some bulky Smartwool socks.  I go for beauty, he goes for functionality.

Another good thing that happened already in February was that our fireproof vault has shelves.  They are ready to have the brown packaged newspapers put on them.  We have old newspapers from the 1880s and up to the 1980s.  Not just of our town but all the towns that had newspapers in our county.  That is a LOT of archival material that we already have on microfilm.  That will be for a project in March that I will work on moving things over to the vault from where they are stored right now.  In the meantime, I am doing this blog because I have almost 30 papers to grade for my composition classes and I don’t want to do them.  Blogging is a stress reliever!



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Monday, Monday, so good to me


our sunset at 5:30 p.m.

I guess that is a song, or the start of one.  I’m glad it was a good Monday of classes and then meeting up with people at noon and then office hours.  I have much to be thankful for especially after a very warm weekend where my husband and I could get much work done with moving things around at the Carnegie.  We need the carpenters to start work on the fire proof vault to have the old newspapers stored there.  Archives with newspapers that are as old as 1880s and 1890s.  They have all been scanned on microfilm. I don’t think we have the money to get them digitized.

My husband and I also went to the movie theater across the street from the Carnegie to see the movie “13 Hours” which is about Benghazi and what happened to people trapped there.  Grueling two hours watching how the brave ones did all they could to hold their ground, it was like a little Alamo with the acreage they had to cover.  They were ready and one of the stars of the team did get hit and died.  The movie makers knew how to go back and forth with these fierce men battle ready but they also had families they had been talking to by Skype or whatever when the bullets were not flying.

All in all, I would recommend the movie to show the lead up of why Libya messed up as a nation and how it affected many people on the ground.  What we were doing over there is a bit baffling, there had been too many years of dictatorship for the warring factions to have any kind of decorum about them.  They were heavily armed and were willing to use it against Americans.  Most of them got out alive but the ambassador Christopher Stevens did not fare so well. He had been in country only a couple of days before 9/11 and things were sealed off in anticipation of something happening. There were people giving those who were trained to defend the “Stand down” order.  That is also very, very perplexing.

So, I told my students about it and maybe a few will go. I told them that I held my husband’s hand the whole time as we watched the movie. Especially difficult was the aftermath as they were picking up the pieces, dead bodies and trying to get their lives back together.  Yes, on a Monday evening, I have a LOT to be thankful for because of what others before us have sacrificed for our freedoms.  I do NOT take that for granted.

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