Posts tagged Astana

More skating in Astana, Kazakhstan

four countriesI suppose many people are watching the Winter Olympics in Korea, some amazing talent there!  Not sure who took this photo of four nations represented but we were skating on a frozen solid river in Astana, Kazakhstan.  On the left is a former Kazakh student, then Wilma from Netherlands, a guy from U.K. who liked to travel everywhere and me.  Seven years ago I was teaching and living in Astana, the coldest capital in the world, second to Ulan Baatar in Mongolia.  Yes, when the winds swept through the northern plains to Kazakhstan you wondered what the weather was like north of us, in Russia.

Didn’t matter the temp or the wind chill, an expat friend of mine from U.K. would cross country ski every day along the river in Astana.  I thought she might have been crazy or part Norwegian but this was her usual thing to do while her husband had some kind of government job.  Wonderful couple, I wonder where they are or if Wilma is back in Holland.  I keep up with most of my former students from NAU through FB.

I’m amazed that I had so many visitors to this blog yesterday, must have been something I wrote or the pictures I put up.  I used to have over a 100 a day when I was actually living in Kazakhstan and talking about the culture and people.  Now I just put up occasional pictures of my life back in Minnesota.  The following is something I see a LOT of on our northern plains.

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Life may be cold here, as it is in Astana, but the hearts are warm and we have memories to go on.  I doubt that I’ll ever get back to Central Asia after having lived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for 1 1/2 years and Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan for 2 1/2 years, over four years.

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Skating in Astana

Seven years ago I was crazy enough to go skating on the small river that weaves through Astana. It was very frozen…no worries there of falling through.  Probably it had been frozen sinc November and would not melt until the following April or May.  Anyway, it was fun to skate with a woman from Holland and with a former Kazakh student of mine.  I’m not sure where I got the ice skates, probably from another ex-pat who had left them behind.

Skating in Astana

There had been some winter activity in Astana where Bota, as a volunteer, had an actual uniform and name tag for one of the ice arenas.  She skated fairly well, my friend from the Netherlands was a good skater and the ice was smooth enough to go backwards or forwards.  I have not skated since seven years ago when this picture was taken.

I understand that Astana has recently had some incredibly cold temps and high winds, I hear from people who I know who live and teach at Nazarbayev University.  One American and another British guy are teachers at NU.  Also, not only have I heard about the cold weather in Astana but the very, very strong winds. I saw photos of how people were standing on the sidewalk and just pushed along by the wind or how dangerous it was for even cars to drive.

As for me, I’m in cold Minnesota and we just have to worry about negative temps and some strong winds with blowing snows but nothing as horrific as what Astana experiences. Here’s a photo of our country that is very flat looking outside our second story window.

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Another photo shows our winter when it is beautiful and pure white, when all is still.

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when all is still

 

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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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What I remember of Astana, Kazakhstan, THEE coldest capital in the world…almost

Yes, we just experienced Astana cityscape

40 mph winds this past weekend and I was reminded what it was like living in Astana. It has the recognition of being the SECOND coldest capital in the world…after Ulan Bataar, Mongolia.  I thought it was THEE coldest some days I was out in it.  Wearing fur helped, having cuddle duds on under pants also provided the necessary warmth. Owning a good pair of boots that only Canadians know how to put together and wearing mittens instead of gloves was the key to staying warm in the onslaught of merciless winds.  In any case, as I listened to the wind howl around our house, I thought of those who live and work in Astana and what they have to put up with for almost 5-6 months.  I understand coming from Minnesota.

What most of us do is look at seed catalogs and think about our spring planting. We look at summer pictures with blue skies and green trees and grass. We tell ourselves that “soon and very soon, we will  have warmer temps again.”  The people on the East Coast from New York passed Washington D.C. just had about 2-3 feet of snow dumped on them.  They don’t know how to handle that sort of thing.  Best to just hunker down and do what I suggested above…or read a good book.

Anyway, green grass will be back soon and then there is the mowing of the lawns that happen all too frequently.  Enjoy each day no matter what the temperature or weather…it is a gift!

downtown

 

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What is going on in Kazakhstan?

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Today I saw there were severe mudslides in Almaty. I have a suspicion I know where this might have happened.  When we went up to the mountains towards the end of our stay in Almaty, we traversed some rugged roads where a LOT of the Kazakhs liked to go for a weekend out of town.  I had heard something of a dam and some disaster that had happened many years ago.

Then I also saw something about a sleeping sickness that leaves a mystery about why people are taken down and sleep. Different theories about that illness. The place where it is happening is north and northwest of Astana, the current capital.  I can’t recall the small village’s name where people have suffered from this sleeping sickness.  It was a long article about how one woman named Lubya had been stricken down about five years ago.

On another note, we had our 75-80 year old box elder tree come down. It just tipped over from its roots. We had to have three guys who are professional tree removers come and move it out of the back yard.  Now I put up some yard art to make it look more decorative.  Thus the photos. I have been busy with other things going on as well. I’m glad that I have two composition classes for next fall…at least that much, maybe there will be another class.

We are enjoying the GREEN of summer.

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Welcome to the GREAT new year of 2015!!!

I was too busy traveling yesterday to give out my new year’s greetings, so today will have to do.  On Facebook I have put up the obligatory photos from our two week trip to AZ to see the kids and grandkids.  Now it is back to the stark reality of living in the cold of Minnesota.  We are bracing ourselves for a bit of “weather” which is coming in later today, making travel near impossible if too much snow comes with it.  My task is to dismantle the Carnegie building of our latest traveling display exhibit called “Electrifying Minnesota.”  How about a new display titled “Heating Minnesota?”  We got back to the house and our temps outside were negative 4 and then 9 and then 10 and then back up to 7 and 8.  Inside, of course, we cranked up the heat to 68 and it started to warm up from the 54 that we had set the furnace at.

However, being in Arizona didn’t mean it was warm all the time. In fact, Prescott was cool and meant wearing jackets outside and Tucson was cool and meant wearing socks inside our RV trailer unit.  We felt blessed to be able to rent this unit for a week and have the pool and bubbling spa at 105 degrees just a half block away from our place.  There was a fitness center and also a library.  My friend Suzi helped us find out about this place because she and her husband have been staying at this RV park for many years.  They come from Oregon. What a great tourist way to bring in money for this area of Tucson.  There are MANY “snowbirds” from all over the US who come down to AZ in the winter, even those from Canada.  They stay for a few months and then go back to their homes when it becomes warmer.  My husband and I only can afford two weeks and then it is back to our reality or work in order to pay the bills.

I think Kazakhstan should try to have an industry like this. A good tourism industry is needed for those who are stuck in Astana or north of there to have places that people can go to for a few weeks or a month to get away from the brutality of the winter up north.  Almaty and along the border of Kyrgyzstan certainly have beautiful places for a vacation and it IS warmer, even in the winter.  I bet if Kazakhstan had enough people skilled or trained to facilitate that, then it could be a booming industy to bring in more international visitors as well.

Is it true that the winter Olympics might be in Kazakhstan and NOT Norway? I just heard that from a friend of ours who helped introduce my husband and me about 21 years ago.  He said that after Russia spent so much money on their winter Olympics, who wants to try to top that?  It might end up in Kazakhstan because they may want to host it for P.R. purposes. Then afterwards they could use those Olympic buildings for other purposes to make money.  I know that the Norwegians have a LONG memory about Medeo when there was some kind of international competition (not Olympics) that was held during the Soviet Union.  Seemingly the record times were changed and the Norwegians did not get their expected medals or awards. Perhaps the Soviet athletes won but on suspicious grounds.  I recall that some of the same things happened in Russia last year where top athletes spun out because the tracks were too treacherous or the snow quality not right.

Well, I’m not sure how I got into that but I have to steady my course here on the home front and get all the Christmas mail that has accumulated. AND to see how I can get the work done at the Carnegie before a big winter storm rages through these parts.  What a great culture shock for us, to have to be thinking about whether we will make it back home from town when we just flew three hours from AZ to MN and experienced about 60 degree temperature drop.

Happy New Years wherever you are, warm or cold!  Make 2015 a GREAT one!

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1,500 posts and last day of busy teaching

Two facts of posting 1,500 times in the last seven years and my last day of my busy teaching load  of 2014 go together.  I have had a whole semester of teaching five classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.  My Wednesdays are not as bad as having to wake up after a weekend of rest and teaching straight through on Mondays.  I’ve been more relaxed about posting on this blog since I don’t live in Kazakhstan any more but would like to just to visit some of the other amazing places that are in this BIG country.  I used to post every day and if I had nothing to write, I would put up photos of every day things that I saw in Almaty and Astana. It has been nice to have a following of faithful readers, people who still come back to my blog to see what life was like in Kazakhstan.

So, what am I doing in class today, all FIVE of them?  I am taking it easy there where it is my students’ responsibility to do their powerpoints based on their research paper they did this last month.  I have learned a LOT about different topics like swimming, hockey, horse therapy, horse slaughter houses, American Indian peaceful march, ACL prevention programs, artificial turf vs. grass turfs, aspartame, dance, sprinting, social media, Florida violence, war on terror, bond of brotherhood in military…the list goes on.  I have at least forty students who are showing off what they know from what they have researched.  I asked them to do a persuasive paper so they were required to show both sides of the issue they were presenting. Some are doing a better job than others.  Yesterday we learned about coyote hunting which was more of an informational talk than one that was well researched and persuasive.  Another talk yesterday was about child marriages where poor countries allow an older, rich man to marry child brides between the ages of 9 – 17.  Many of these girls have VVF as a result after having difficulty bearing their first child.  This was a good talk, the one about coyotes needed work.

Next semester, I wonder if I should have my students investigate Kazakhstan and I’m wondering what they would find.  It seems that there is so little good information out about this great land.  I know that there are photo journalists who regularly come to this blog, maybe some have used my photos though I don’t have a good quality camera so I doubt that.  My photos of Kazakhstan does give an idea about what to expect on the streets of Almaty or Astana. I took of the mountains in Almaty because that city was on a significant slant. I captured photos of the strange buildings in Astana because there was nothing very scenic to photograph in the capital.

I better get to my lesson planning for my other two composition labs.  I have had an annoying student who keeps insisting on her final grade of the semester for a one credit class.  I had to show her and her advisor that I have to work with percentages for self evaluations and 35% for grammar quizzes and finally 30% for the final self evaluation.  I had just given that last week and this irksome student asked if she could have an office visit with me to find out what her final grade is.  I told her I have 85 students, I have three comp classes that are 3 credits each and that I would not get to it until the end of the semester.  She is a weak student so I think she is hoping to get a good grade to buttress her GPA in her other classes.  She kept insisting and so I sent her and her advisor an e-mail saying that I would NOT have it done…just for her…until I have done all the classes at the END of the semester.

Most all of my other students are gems, I have really grown to love them.  Even the few other irksome ones.  They are freshmen and they want to do well.  Everything is new and exciting to them…except for those who are homesick and miss their families from far away. I had a student from Florida in my office yesterday working on his powerpoint.  He is going home for GOOD even though his presentation is about the violence there that is NOT talked about because that would hurt their tourism trade.  He is a good kid and I asked him if he would rather be where there is violence than our extreme cold weather in Minnesota.  Yep, he missed his family.  Sometimes we question why we put up with the “violence” of fighting the cold weather when it gets to be the middle of winter in January and February.

Happy 1,500 posts!  May there be many more to come…I don’t predict 1,500 more posts…unless I return to Kazakhstan to finish my story about it.

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