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What I do for fun

Now that the big event of Syttende Mai is over with, I can relax. We made just over $500 with the 50-60 people who showed up. The speaker did a GREAT job of talking about Norway’s history and the significance of this event on May 17th.  What do I do for fun now?  I have been going to a neighboring field that was farmed by the Wastweet family. I asked my dad and also my 98 year old aunt to find out more about this family.  There is NOTHING left of the farm except metal pieces that I have been picking up.


Also, I have picked up quite a few porcelain pieces as well as large chunks of crock pieces.  The other night I found two marbles and tonight I found a Vick’s drops cobalt blue bottle about an inch and a half big.  That’s the first whole bottle I have found after all these years of tractors driving over the earth with all this stuff still in it.

Tonight I also found a piece of metal about 10 inches by 10 inches that maybe someone purposefully left there. It was old and looked like a flap for something.  It was heavy so I paced it out 275 feet from the gravel road and 25 paces to the grassy turn around place.  I wonder if it will be there by the end of the harvest.  I’m sure it would get caught in the machinery, all this metal.


The blue cylinders I will use as pedestals for planters.  I will use E6000 glue to stick down all the glass shards that make for a decorative piece.  I also have a barn red pedestal for a ceramic bird bath that I just purchased today.  This will be fun to figure out a design for these three things.

So, that is what I do for fun. On Thursday, I’ll go with a friend who is into this kind of hunt for the unknown to an old dump ground in our area which is close to the river, that has yielded some amazing things.  Anyway, just know this is my BEFORE photo of what I hope to turn into a work of art.

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All about the soil, gardening and shards


Finished up on grades, was part of the graduation ceremony, planting vegetable gardens, mowed for first time last week (needs to be done again) and getting ready for our Syttenden Mai celebration on Saturday at the Carnegie.


The latest find that makes me happy is going out to the nearby field and finding more glass shards from crocks and also fine dishes.  Last night I found an antique axehead, it was just laying right on the top of the ground.  Much other metal that I pick up.  Remnants of bricks where this farm used to be.  My Dad said that they would go by and pick up the neighbor kids to go to the country schoolhouse, so I KNEW there had been a place but now I know more where the location was. Their place was farther from the road and more into the field, like a football field away.

Anyway, I will start making some artsy things with the pretty glass I have uncovered, perhaps I have already maxed out on the other place I used to go to one mile from our house.  I should check for asparagus though.  The rhubarb is ready and I gave a whole bag to my Mom.  Life is good because I have good friends like Phyllis and a wonderful sister.  They listen to me when I am struggling and hurting.

The Chancellor the other day asked me about the reputations of universities in Almaty, Astana and Aktau, Kazakhstan.  I wrote a real quick, gut level reaction to her question about whether they were reputable.  I wonder what she thought of my analysis?  I mentioned what I knew while teaching at KIMEP in Almaty and NU in Astana. Reputation IS important.


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Bay Window Sun

This university spring semester is almost done, we have graduation this Saturday. I have to get my grades in before May 9th. I had my last class with my composition students last Thursday.  Since no more students will be on campus, the Greenhouse was selling plants that I need for my vegetable garden. I bought 32 tomato plants and then broccoli and cauliflower too.  I also bought many wave petunias, different colors, I must have gotten 36 of them and I have planted in pots half of that.


I also have coleus that I snipped off the tallest sprig and put them in water so that they root.  Overall, I have a LOT of work to do to get the gardens prepared for these plants. I dare not put them in for another month because it could still freeze by end of May. Supposedly the first week of June is the time to REALLY plant.


I went to an Arts Expo and I met the young woman who is Miss MN right now. She got her piano instruction from another woman who had another Miss MN get in about five years ago.  Talent on piano counts for something.  She asked people to find her in the crowds as she was the one wearing a sparkly hat.  Cute.  She is friends with my violin playing niece and knows my sister who is INTO creating music through technology.


How great to see all the talent that came together from seven counties for this Arts Expo event. I am now inspired to do more creative things with the broken glass I have found. First I have to grade my students research papers and THEN I’ll have a bit more free time. Ha!


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Winter is still here

Yesterday morning I went to work with about three inches of snow on the car and ground. I whisked off the back and front windows of the car and backed out.  Once I got to my building where I teach and after an hour, the temperatures were warm enough that there was no snow left on the top of the car. Being that it is April 13th, one would think that the winter snow would go away FOR GOOD!

One guy on social media showed a picture of his wearing a hat and down jacket, he wrote: “April 12 winter, I am wearing down.”  He let his readers know he made a play on words.  I wrote “I am weary too.”  When the weather is stuck on winter, you have to start getting creative and just laugh about it. Soon enough we will be mowing the lawns, but for right now, we are ALL tired of putting on our extra wraps and dealing with the snow.

Supt. living room pre 1900

The above picture is from the main dining room of the superintendent’s place at our campus. It shows the luxury of fine dining in the early 1900s.  It was anything but that for many of the early settlers.  Some of the things I have uncovered about early life on the prairie shows that the pioneers had to have a strong resolve to get through the long, tough winters.

The following is what I found out about early prairie living:  “I cannot remember that we ever had in our home the sacred precincts of a parlor—musty, dank, and revere, closed to everyone but the occasional guest—for we lived each day as best we could, using the entire house. We did not live in the kitchen as was usual with most pioneers.

“The kitchen was in the old part of the house and served as the dining room. Another room in this part was used as a shed or storeroom in winter and as a kitchen in summer. In one corner of the main kitchen stood a large iron cook stove at the back of which was a reservoir for heating water and for melting ice and snow. Wooden homemade cupboards stood against the walls, and in the center of the room was a walnut extension dining table covered with marbled, white oilcloth when not in use and with a red and white tablecloth, or, on occasions, a white one, at meal time. Heavy wooden chairs, painted brown with yellow stripes, were set around the edge of the room. The floor was made of wide, white pine boards, and it was kept scrupulously white and clean in spite of grease splashed from fried pork and dirt brought in by the men of the family on their shoepacks and overshoes. For lighting, we used kerosene lamps most of the time, but, had candles also. The majority of the farmers made much use of candles, employing kerosene only for lanterns.

“Many of the early settlers did not have the pretentious home, comparatively speaking, that we had. A large majority of the newcomers were young married couples with small children, so that a one-room shanty was all they required. A single room of small dimensions served as kitchen, bedroom and parlor all in one. All of the furniture, with the exception of the stove and a few chairs, was homemade. A pine table, benches, beds, a trunk or two, a couple of chairs, and a wooden cupboard comprised practically all the furniture. Sometimes a good-sized family lived in one of these small one-room shanties. Two beds, foot to foot, stood across one end of the room. Under the beds were stored during the day the bedding for two other beds to be made up on the floor, and in this way six, eight or ten persons slept in one small room. Sometimes there was a small attic, probably just high enough at the peak so that the average person could stand upright in it. A ladder led to the attic, where the boys and men slept. When I have visited some of the small homes occupied by large families, I have marveled how everyone was accommodated with sleeping quarters. At threshing time, the extra men slept in the straw pile barn, haystacks or granary.”

As my Grandma would often say, “We have so much to be thankful for.”  We do, even while we wait out these winter like days in April!

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Talented group of international students


My husband and I witnessed many different cultures tonight at the international dinner we attended.  What was fun to see was the talent that many of my former students displayed in song and dance.

Fun to see Indian dance and another student doing his dance from Nigeria. Also, percussion players did a great job.  Little did I know that my former student from Korea was a part of the puppet show, she was an ox and her boyfriend was the monkey.  Didn’t take too much practice to explain the origin of the Chinese 12 animals designated for each year.


The above picture shows the animals and the story explained why the cat was not included in the group of 12 animals. The following is from the percussion people.



Finally, here is the last picture of a fun evening.  The best was left until last.


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Canadian geese are back with spring

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other day I was walking our gravel road and I could see in the distance some geese that had landed in a field puddle of water. I knew that they would fly away when I got closer so I zoomed in with my camera on them.   Indeed, they took flight against the cold north wind to some other place where there was icy water.


This afternoon when I took my walk along the same gravel road, I could see the big fox or small coyote 1/4 of a mile away.  He bolted off over this same field and ran for all he was worth for about a half of a mile or more.  I was amazed at how fast it ran on the ice and snow.  I had seen him earlier in our woods the other morning, he has taken care of the rabbit population.  He doesn’t need to be afraid of me, I am happy we have less rabbits to eat our vegetable garden once that is planted and growing.

I saw my first robin the other day, so you KNOW it is spring but the temps have been only in the teens so not a good time for birds to be back yet.  The Canadian geese can handle it as they continue their travels to colder Canada…the woodpeckers and finches are waiting for more warmth. As are we…it doesn’t ever seem like we will EVER have summer. The forecast is for blizzard conditions on Easter Day.  My Mom refuses to believe it will happen. We will see what comes what may…perhaps it WILL be May when we have spring!

Happy Easter whether the SON shines or not!



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Update after this week

Ken at Koktobe

Not much going on that is unusual…I found a photo of my husband showing off an American hat from our US locality in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We were on Koktobe for a nice outing by using the cable car.  When I had first lived in Almaty, the cable car was not working in 1994 but by the time we went back to live and teach in 2007, it was working and bringing many people up to see the city of Almaty below.

Me in Almaty

During our time at KIMEP, as I wrote earlier, my husband and I went to an American football game where our students were playing against another team that had far better jerseys and equipment. I can’t remember what the score was or who won but it was inspiring to see that the Kazakh students who had lived in the US for a year or two under the FLEX program had been encouraged enough to replicate what they saw back in their own home country once back.  Even the girls got in the act with cheerleading.

NU Astana, Kazakhstan

After our 2-3 years of teaching at KIMEP, we ended up at NU in Astana when it first was getting started. That would almost be eight years ago now. You can see a model of what the whole campus is supposed to look like once all is finished.  The building itself where I taught is in the background.  What a HUGE undertaking this was to create this kind of “westernized” university in the capital city of Kazakhstan. I wish the students and teachers all well.


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I wonder if KIMEP still plays Am. football

I came across some photos I took back ten years ago in Almaty, Kazakhstan and these were of KIMEP football players versus another team from nearby. Not sure who they were representing. I wonder if they are still playing American football or if the equipment and jerseys are stored away with lack of interest or funding.

Ken w KZ flag

Peter is the player who lived in the U.S. and came back with the drive and energy to put a team together with like minded players. Granted some of them were probably soccer players who just put on the jerseys and pads but it was a game to witness.  Peter is holding the trophy representing KIMEP after their win.

KIMEP football

I had a notebook along with me to take notes or do something but it ended up being used by the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.  I do remember the game went longer than what you’d expect because I’m not sure a stop watch was being used.  One of the refs, an American who has passed on, was probably in charge of calling out penalties.

Bruce Taylor and showing downs

Cheerleaders even showed up with their cute outfits and they had adopted cheers they had learned from what they remembered in the U.S. Many of the girls had been on the FLEX program and somehow had clothes and pompoms to make it more believable.

football cheerleaders

When the game was all done, finally, then the two teams got together for a group picture. You would never see that in the U.S. but in Kazakhstan where the teams are so rare with knowing how to play American football, there was a camaraderie with the players.  Even those who had been injured and taken off the field were in the picture afterwards.

both teams together

I was supporting the blue and white team, but the maroon and white team probably had better equipment and jerseys. I remember that some of the defense and offence had to switch off their jersey every time they went on and off the field.

other football team

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Quiet winter morning sunrise

While U.K. is getting slammed with two feet of snow and the eastern part of the U.S. is getting pelted with rains and storms…we have a tranquil morning to enjoy. Not for long though because by Sunday and Monday we will be deluged with more snow and blizzard conditions. Such is life here on the open prairie.


I realize that most all of us are sick of winter but if you make a sport of it like x-country skiing, then it isn’t so bad.  The temps have been melting the snow so icicles are forming and the snow is not quite the right quality to ski on in the warm afternoons.  This morning might be a good time but I have other errands to run, it will have to wait.


I need to share what the skiing trails look like from our second floor window looking north. It really is wonderful to be out while the trees are all flocked with what the fog leaves behind from the night air.


For now I’ll leave my faithful readers of my blog with this sunup photo from this morning. Sometimes I have to wait for about 5-10 minutes to get it just right…but it is worth it!


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Our Winter whiteness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow nice to wake up to this winter wonderland of white frost on our trees.  We are believing in spring with the intensity of the sun, but there are setbacks where we have colder weather appropriate for February and March.

I have ONE more week with my students and then it is spring break where they will go hither and yon for the week they are free from classes.  For now, I am having them write an ethnography paper on the subculture of their research topic.  Should be interesting what papers I get next week. I will try to turn around and get the papers graded and back to them before they leave for the break.

Difficult for ME to stay focused as I want to be out x-country skiing on the fresh snow. We are so thankful for our neighbors who come to snowblow us out of the yard that gets socked in with drifts of snow, especially when winds are from the south.

Today when I was about to go ski, I heard what was a tractor.  Our wonderful neighbor was doing our front yard, then I saw him with his big John Deere tractor in our backyard. I waited until he was done in about 15 minutes and then he went to his sons’ yard that needed blowing out. We are fortunate that we are in between his place and where his sons have a house.


Here’s our front yard and you can see my ski tracks off to the left of the driveway. I am having a wonderful time going out in the woods, all is pristine and white.

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