Archive for December, 2013

Kazakh “Marry” Christmas!

Who knew that 20 years ago I would meet the love of my life in Almaty, Kazakhstan!?  I had become at that point in my life decidedly single. I had trained to run the annual Twin Cities marathon, the fall of 1992 in Minneapolis to St. Paul as a kind of goodbye to my beloved Twin Cities.  I was in top physical shape and felt good.  Then I arrived to hot Almaty May 1st of 1993 and the next day I met my future husband. I didn’t know it at the time but HE did. He knew he was going to marry me and I put up quite a wall of resistance for about 8-9 months.  He kept asking me to marry him.  I’m glad Ken prevailed, he is stubborn in things like that.

We had a Christmas Eve wedding at my home church in Minneapolis and I brought over as guests a woman from Almaty, Tatyana Kazanina and a 16 year old Kyrgyz girl named Jyldyz.  Tanya was one of my bridesmaids and Jyldyz played piano and violin at our wedding ceremony and reception at Jax Café in north Minneapolis. It was a lovely day, I believe up in the 40s which is unusual for Minnesota in December.

I just wrote something on my Facebook about celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary and it was fun to get all the well wishes from friends from all over the world.  I especially liked what Nura wrote which I thought was so original, “Have a Marry Christmas!”  No one has ever used that play on words before with us.  I think it is brilliant and I told her so.  Leave it to a smart Kazakh to see that over native speakers of English!

Anyway, we are having guests over for Christmas day meal.  A Chinese guy with the Confucius Institute and his friend along with another family friend of ours.  I meant to have some of my former Korean students over along with my Japanese student.  She is already with her family in Japan and I didn’t get my act together to invite the Korean students. I suppose there is still time, I have five hours before the company arrives along with my folks.  I feel so blessed to have parents still they are very active in the community, my dad is 83 and my mom is 79.

Ken and I intended to watch our wedding video but I guess we deem it so valuable that we had forgotten that we had put it in our safety deposit box.  We will watch it on New Year’s Eve then.  Right now I have to keep working on my second book to satisfy the publishers by Jan. 2nd. So I can’t do too much holiday festivities.  I have the same word counts (350, 140 and 70 word captions) that are beastly, worse than deadlines.  When you combine the two, it means that I don’t have much of a vacation.  It also means I can’t go out x-country skiing in this beautiful snow.  Fortunately, it has been too cold so I haven’t missed out too much on that count.

In any case, I feel very blessed in our cozy home that my grandpa and great uncle built almost 100 years ago. I keep looking up all the facts about my hometown’s history that goes back about 130 years.  The turkey is baking in the oven, I need to make a pumpkin pie after I clean the floors and vacuum.  Yes, life is good on the Minnesota farm with cherished memories of Kazakhstan.  Right now that country, that is the 9th largest in the world, seems so far away.

Marry Christmas everyone!!!

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What if we were given word limits on our thoughts?

This morning my husband and I were talking about the word counts that I am working with on the next book I am writing on my hometown. I have to put 140 words there, then if more important characters come up I can go up to 400 words. Single captions that go with a picture can be anywhere from 50-70 words. Oy, to keep track of introductions to each chapter not being more than 350 words and limit of 10 chapters and, and…

That’s why I thought about word limits or quotas that we might have to use in every day life. Ever thought that we might have to give ourselves limits on what we think?! A message might bleep “Over capacity of thoughts, delete, delete!” or you have used up your quota for the day but someone drops by on you spontaneously. What to do? Use sign language? Write texts? What if your texts are monitored and you can’t do that in order to communicate.

I guess I was thinking about this because I played the game “MAO” with my nephews and niece over the Thanksgiving holiday. My nephew says there are three things that you need to know about this weird card game. 1) there are no rules 2) you have to figure them out as you go 3) Ever played Crazy Eight? No, it is not like that. So, it is rather frustrating when you don’t know what the rule is, the person who is in control of the game is annoying and you just want to throw your hands up with the cards with them and say, “forget it!” and let the cards fall wherever they will. You don’t do that because you are civilized but you really WANT to.

So, there is not much talking in this game because you are penalized for saying something. You also have to find out what the people who are “in the know” do and then follow their cues. I had a Japanese former student come to our place for Thanksgiving and she sat out the first round. She did very well the second round because she is a good observer.

Back to thinking about how word limits to our thoughts might not be all bad. It might show that there are people in this world who never reach their “thought limit” on a daily basis. Perish the thought!

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