Article about Astana

This article about a faraway place was a surprise to read since I have been there, lived there, worked there…Astana, the new capital or Kazakhstan.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/kazakhstan/articles/astana-newest-city-break-expo/

If you think that this is a hot destination to go to, then be ready to have plenty of money to pay for all the extras.  Also, it is a blend of old Soviet in the old part of town with the new era that has unusual architecture.  The locals have their own names for some of these buildings…I’ve written about them in my earlier blogs.

For now, enjoy my artwork that I did that is on display with about 50 other artists.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Respect and Equality painting

which one is mineOn a whim I went to a free class for two hours to do a painting about Respect and Equality for all.  I knew what I wanted to do even before I saw the materials.  I wanted to paint black and white squares like a chessboard and then from the left moving right, the lines would be less rigid.  The idea behind that was to show that all different colors of people are involved in our world, it is NOT just a black and white issue.

In fact, I put two red pipe cleaners on the left to show that it is wrong to think in only those two colors.  Little did I know that there would be so many different things provided to add color and 3D look to my painting.  I used a LOT of buttons which you can’t tell by looking at these pictures, I also used a feather or two.

Other people visualized it differently and the result was good.  Someone took about 5 minutes to blob on different shades of brown.  I took the FULL two hours to do my painting. Some have no respect for what it takes to be artistic, time and patience.  I’m no artist but I have been feeling very artsy lately. I want to be creative.

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Can you tell which one is mine based on the clues I gave you? My husband and I will go tomorrow to see this gallery of about 60 paintings. I’m looking forward to it!

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Not on jury…this time… next week maybe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, I went to be on a jury at 9:15 a.m.and there were 49 other people there waiting for the inevitable. Some were busy farmers, others busy professionals or housewives.  I had asked for a deferment already so no time was convenient but better than when I am teaching during the school year.

It was a sad case of a rape that happened in 2008 and it is come to light now?  Well, the “innocent guy until proven guilty” was sitting in the room the whole time as we were asked questions of the judge, of the two lawyers and finally, I was part of the 20 people to be potential candidates. I was eliminated at 5:15, so it felt like a long process just to be rejected.

When I got home after picking asparagus in the ditches and picking flowers and watering other new plants, I went to pick more glass and enjoy the great outdoors.  I have a garden that is coming along and that needs tending.

Right now I am tired and want to go to bed. My family is coming up for the week to help my Dad de-clutter his shop…he has a LOT of inventory and he IS a hoarder.  As an 87 year old, he grew up as a Depression baby so he holds on to things…just in case.

Well, we will see how much we can fill a BIG dumpster with all the things he has in his shop.  I may post pictures of that later.  I should have gone out to pick gooseberries. I’ll have that for my nephew from Russia, he LOVES gooseberries!

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June’s busy days, picking shards and flowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I guess I got caught up with playing the violin in our string quartet and also with picking up shards of glass and picking our yard’s flowers.  Not to mention, planting and maintaining our vegetable gardens and mowing the lawn and general upkeep.  I’ll post photos of what we have been doing.  I have other things I have to attend to.

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The above shows what I did with the amber shards that I found in the field.  I also did a platter with ceramic and China dinnerware.  One underside was labeled Knowles China, another was from Westmeath or Alfred Meakin, made in England.  Happy to know it is from the 1880s and 1890s so I have shards that are antique.  Note the images below.

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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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