Archive for February, 2008

Coast is clear – X-ray!!!

No damage to my foot but the technician said I have edema so must have ultrasound treatment for TWO weeks, that will supposedly speed up the healing.  The most painful part of yesterday’s visit to the clinic was the WAIT for over two hours just to get this good report.  First come, first served and I could see why there was a line up in the waiting room because the technician who pushed the buttons behind the glass was so precise in placing my foot just right on the film casing. The older woman before me had fudged hers up so they had to painstakingly set her up again.  So much else I could write about my three hour ordeal but suffice it to say, one should NEVER get hurt or sick in Kazakhstan.  Brilliant deduction but it is worth noting that if you do either of those two you had better have lots of time to get fixed up again. 

Time is what I don’t have today, my teaching schedule on Tuesdays are the worst.  I have two listening speaking classes to teach, meetings on either side of those 70 minute classes, then I teach another one hour class at World Exchange and then a 3 hour class with my TOEFL students.  Tomorrow morning I will start my ultrasound treatment which is a 15 minute walk away, to be done daily for two weeks.  Mama Mia!!!  I must be careful of the black ice while walking to and from this other clinic or I might sprain the other foot.  Such is life in Kazakhtan!!!

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“Mind the [Generation] Gap!”

I cancelled one big event from my schedule tonight so that gives me extra time and I WILL go and get an x-ray of my foot done today.  I discovered last night that I have entered into the generation gap along with the cultural barrier and language gap of not knowing Russian in this Kazakh culture.  The Kazakh students in preparation of tonight’s program were into Timberlake and Aerosmith songs, I was ready to show America with singing “Take me out to the Ballgame” and “This Land is Your Land.”  How painful to admit that you are not quite “with it” when it comes to the energy and zest of youth along with their desires to follow American pop culture.  However, I take solace in this poem that I took from the classic “Streams in the Desert.”

“They tell me I must bruise

The rose’s leaf,

Ere I can keep and use

Its fragrance brief. 

They tell me I must break

The skylark’s heart,

Ere her cage song will make

The silence start. 

They tell me love must bleed,

And friendship weep,

Ere in my deepest need

I touch that deep. 

Must it be always so

With precious things?

Must they be bruised and go

With beaten wings? 

Ah yes! By crushing days,

By caging nights, by scar

Of thorn and stony ways,

These blessings are!”

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Ultrasound and “furrow cut by pain”

ultrasound technicianThe dark brown mould’s upturned,

By the sharp-pointed plow;

And I’ve a lesson learned.

My life is but a field,

Stretched out beneath God’s sky,

Some harvest rich to yield.

Where grows the golden grain?

Where faith? Where sympathy?

 In a furrow cut by pain.

by Maltbie D. Babcock

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“If Band-AGE is Absent…”

Almost a month ago, on January 22, I wanted to get my exercise with an aerobic class joining a friend of mine who has taught this class for years.  I didn’t know the location at the complex and was running late so I finally showed up huffing and puffing.  I had already gotten my exercise just with my 15 minute walk to the bus and then walking another 5 minutes from the bus to the place where I was to get physically fit.  After replacing my boots with my brand new Saucony shoes, I was ready to run in place with the best of them.  However, I noticed I was on the wrong foot so I quickly tried to make amends.  I attempted to switch feet to be in time with the music and look the same in the mirrors with the other aerobic participants.  WHAM! 

Next thing I knew I was on the floor, not running in place anymore.  So much for warm up, so much for my new year’s resolution of taking off pounds sensible by exercising on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  To walk on the sidewalks of Almaty in the winter is out of the question with caked down snow that turns into slippery ice. 

I immediately knew I had sprained my ankle and so the logical thing was to fill a bag full of snow and watch the rest of the aerobics class jump around until the last beats were played out on the cd player.  I hobbled home and elevated and iced my left foot but had a rigorous schedule of interviewing IREX candidates for the next four days.  The hardest part of this sprain was every morning when getting my winter boot on because of the swelling.  Those boots stayed on the whole day, but I had it elevated for the most part.   

Finally, on Valentines Day, I allowed Ken to take me to the doctor at our university and the doctor pinched and poked at my foot, it was not painful on the external.  However, she was starting to make it feel painful with her firm pokes.  No, there is something internal that is wrong, especially when I walk too much.  Yesterday, I went to get my foot ultrasound and I knew I was in trouble when the technician didn’t know how to spell my name on the computerized document that would identify my foot.  She would type in “ai” instead of “y” and then she would type “aiai” instead of “y.”  A distinct communication gap. It crossed my mind, “And this woman is supposed to figure out what is wrong with my foot, she doesn’t even know how to spell?”  As she finally put the ultrasound wand against my foot, she matter-of-factly stated that she saw a “lake of blood.” I think she meant “pool” instead since I didn’t think it looked THAT big on the ultrasound. 

She spoke in Russian to another technician and his grasp of English was more precise, hers was good but haphazard.  I knew this when she was writing up my prescription of ointment and Ace bandage to buy.  She said, “if the bandage is absent, then go to the other Apteka [pharmacy].”  I knew what she meant, if the particular bandage didn’t exist, then try another place but it was that kind of communication that was going on throughout our ½ hour consultation with her.  She wanted me to get an x-ray at a NEW location on Monday and then to go and consult with her that afternoon.  Monday and Tuesday happen to be my busiest days.  I think I’ll re-think that scheduling snafu and go when *I* can make it, like Wednesday.  I have waited a month to find out that I have something internal going on. The pain that exists is dull but sporadically consistent so it DOES need to be checked out and will take some time to heal. 

I have gone to Ps. 51:8 more than once to figure out what else needs to heal as David so ably penned:  “Make me to hear joy and gladness. That the bones which You have broken may rejoice.”

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Editted Graffitti and Amaryllis Bloom

my valentineeditted graffittistudent angelsreal amaryllisCarl Larsson paintingYesterday I showed some graffitti on one wall of our apartment complex.  The photo with Anar in question about loving ??? has been editted out.  True love is fleeting when “names and faces are found in public places.”  Ken and I had lunch in the student cafeteria and there were several of his students outfitted with angel wings with real feathers.  My Mom sent me a photo of an amaryllis that is in FULL bloom that is a child of my plant.  I also took a photo of a print of Carl Larsson that has an amaryllis painted into the door.  Of course, I have to put in my TRUE valentine, we went out to eat at “Kristina” restaurant last night after I showed Pink Panther.  I’ll show the next part of it next Thursday evening.  The students enjoyed Steve Martin’s rendition of Inspector Clouseau.  All in all, it was a nice Valentine’s Day! 

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Happy St. Valentine’s Day in former Soviet Union!!!

servers at cafeteriaKen and serverValentine graffittiNotice the graffitti on the next building over from our aparment, wondering if Anar loves the author with the red spray paint???  Busy day today where I’ll have to help Ken, my favorite valentine, proctor a quiz for around 80 students in a big hall.  (This photo is taken with his favorite cook at the student cafeteria) Then I’ll go to my office cubicle and read and surf the Net.  Later I’ll have English Club where I will show a 10 minute movie called “Mutual Love Life” and show the first part of Pink Panther starring Steve Martin.  Should be a fun time tonight with 20 eager language learners.

So, I’m including a quote from C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity from “Dogma and the Universe” that I particularly like since I’m living in the former Soviet Union.  “It is not Christianity which need fear the giant universe.  It is those systems which place the whole meaning of existence in biological or social evolution on our own planet.  It is the creative evolutionist…or the Communist, who should tremble when he looks up at the night sky.  For he really is committed to a sinking ship.  He really is attempting to ignore the discovered nature of things, as though by concentrating on the possibly upward trend in a single planet he could make himself forget the inevitable downward trend in the universe as a whole, the trend to low temperatures and irrevocable disorganization.”

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Yesterday’s three jobs; One disruptive student

I am employed by three different employers as of yesterday.  I got myself fitted out with my cubicle in a big room with about ten other teachers and my own computer at the university (which will remain nameless) where Ken teaches.  Eventually, I hope to be getting some classes of my own but for now I will be helping with the Director of the Language Center who is burdened with many tasks such as committee work, research, etc.  Met and got re-acquainted with some of the Kazakh teachers I have gotten to know over the last four months.  I then left to prepare for my intermediate class with nine students that I’ve been teaching the last four months at World Exchange.  That was a fun group where they role played about being the employer and employee.  I told the nine students about my busy day with three jobs.   

After that class, I got the projector ready for my powerpoint for my new TOEFL class that I started last night which will go for eight weeks every Tuesday evening.  I had six students, well, really only five.  One girl came late, checked out with the “lights on but nobody home” look simply because she was so enamored with her cell phone.  I told her to put it away in her purse once I found out why she seemed so zoned out.  She did.  Then we had break and she did not come back as the others did after about five minutes, they all got their TOEFL textbooks at that time.  I found her in the hall talking to a friend and on the cell phone again.  I told her she needed to get into the classroom to take the 30 minute in-class writing pre-test.  She said she was talking on the phone to her father, she needed five more minutes. I said no, the writing test had already begun.  

Then one of the staff of “Administration” in the hallway told me when all six students were in the classroom writing quietly that this female student (let’s call her A. for short) was nervous about the class and also angry with me.  What?  I had told her to put her cell phone away?  Then I was told A. had to go to the airport to pick up someone.  When I went back into the classroom, she was being disruptive to the other students by talking on her cell phone again to “whomever.”  I told her to leave.  She did so gleefully.  Then when I went back to the reception area she was still talking and doing something more with the staff.  I wonder just how very urgent her errand was? 

When A. answered my initial 10 questions on a piece a paper like the other students in my effort to get to know them, she simply wrote down the questions on the first three and answered only briefly, if at all, on the other 7 questions.  I had asked what their strengths were and she wrote “speaking.”  Apparently so, she likes to talk in Russian to her friends on a cellphone and clearly she has rudimentary writing skills. 

A. is 18 years old and wants to go to Dubai but clearly she is demonstrating that she cannot participate in this class under a teacher’s direction.  The other five students were very eager to try out their blogs and I am having them do three journal entries a week.  They will be responding to the readings from the first section in the Reading chapter of the textbook.  All in all, the class went very well.  I will be checking on their writing samples today and I’ll know more about their level from that.   

Yes, all three jobs went very well for me yesterday.

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Photos of Evening Gown and Eagle Cake

Eagle cakeEvening gownPhotos of sister and brother and their big weekend will be the last I’ll show for a while of this special family.  When I first saw my niece in the evening gown, I honestly did not recognize her.  Amazing what curls, makeup, a smile and a $1,000 evening gown will do for one!  Actually they just rented it for the evening for $50 but you get the idea, she IS a knockout.  My little niece.  My “little” nephew, Elan, isn’t so little anymore, he is an Eagle Scout and has many symbols on his banner. Elan had to work hard to earn each one, some of those I recognize is a lifesaver ring, weather vane, skiing, hunting with bow and arrow, swimming, etc. Of course, the cake to help celebrate had an eagle on it. Congratulations to both of them!!!

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My Nephew Earns Eagle Scout Award

Niece in blueNephew makes speechNephew with parentsCongratulations to my nephew, Elan, who earned his Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts.  What a big week for my niece and nephew, these photos are from my folks who took it all in.  Elan wanted a license to be able to drive in the worst way.  My sister was wise to follow the counsel of another wise mother and the only way he would be able to drive a car would be to become an Eagle Scout first.  My niece had just been in the pageant the night before and looking good in blue, my nephew the next day had family and friends attend his big event.  Glad for digital cameras when one is half way around the world in Almaty, Kazakhstan but wanting to be a part of these milestone events together with my family. 

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My Niece won Non-Finalist Talent Award!!!

in her concert blackOf course, I didn’t find this out from any family members who attended last night’s extravaganza but I saw it on the website and so this information will have to do for now.  My niece’s photo is from the last competition she entered and she now knows NOT to use “concert black,” not her color at all!!!  I wonder if she will try out in future contests???  I had no idea that these beauties can go from suburb to suburb in the Twin Cities to compete even if they don’t live in that particular town.  Some of the same girls showed up to compete against each other in last night’s event and maybe they are older and good at knowing how to answer the interview questions with the judges.  Anyway, even though she didn’t make the top three spots, I’m still very happy that my niece placed in winning the Non-Finalist Talent Award!!!!

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