Posts tagged Carnegie

Working as a “volunteer” all day

Carnegie Nov. 28 concertTypical Saturday and I spent most of it inside our Carnegie building getting it prepared for the next fundraising concert on Nov. 28th.  Time is of essence as there is MUCH to do to prepare both levels as opposed to just one! Now we will have our guests come in the back entrance and then take the internal stairs.  Usually, we have had everyone approach from the large west entrance.  But now we will be able to have the choirs risers right up against the doors as people would normally enter.  Instead of having to make sure that the stairs are snow and ice free we will have all people go around to the back.


THAT MEANS to have the back area that has been typically used as a place to put junk and get that to look nice for people to see and get in the Christmas mood of things. We will have Christmas caroling to begin with and then at 7:30 will be one of the choruses, either men’s or women’s.  We will also have the string orchestra (with me playing violin) and the university’s pop chorus.  It should be a very nice fundraiser.

HOWEVER, in the meantime, I have primed the walls that lead to the bathroom and up the stairs and there was a LOT of moving of heavy tables and doors and other things. It was a 2 or 3 person job in some cases.  I’ll go back tomorrow to keep working on things before we have a full crew coming to help next Sunday.


I should have taken a BEFORE photo of this because it really looked bad before this.  There were wooden tulips and cobwebs and it looked frightful!   I will show more photos later.

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End of an interesting but productive year

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I am less than two hours away from greeting in the new year of 2017. I’m reviewing in my mind what happened last January at the start of 2016. No doubt we had just come back from Arizona to see the kids and grandkids.  Then the spring semester started and it was a good crop of students where we met in a big classroom with about four screens that could turn on.  Then was graduation ceremonies and work at the Carnegie started in earnest.  The two guys were able to move the archived newspapers from the big room in the lower level to the fire proof vault.

I moved out all the files from what was in the vault and another smaller reference room into about 70 acid free boxes.  That was moved over to the museum grounds and then our wonderful volunteer went to work with painting the rooms, the hallway and staining the floor before varnishing it.  I went to get the wainscoting and he cut them in half so that I could stain that before he put them up on the walls of the bigger room. Then I varnished and we were ready for our annual town’s summer celebration in August.

We had painters come to the Carnegie who were local artists and we also had on display a photographer who does outdoor shots of what we see everyday off the highway. Old buildings, vintage equipment, scenic shots and that was on display for four days.  On Saturday we had a classical painter’s paintings shown from what people had bought from him in the 1970s when he had escaped with his family from Czechoslovakia. Turns out he died several years after coming to the U.S. but his daughter in law, Ruth Boubin came with four of her children to see their grandpa’s work.

That was probably the best part of the year to see all the beautiful, large paintings that Antonin Boubin had done in such a short time.  He had been a dentist but he was put in prison and the guards broke his fingers to he could not do dental work once out of prison. Then he was put in prison again, a total of about 2 1/2 years.  His wife and two boys came with him via Austria to New York but no one was their to receive them so they came to my hometown in Minnesota.

I don’t know that we can top that event but I’m hoping with the money donated that we will get the lower floor finished and then we can have people come to see that with art displays in the Carnegie for our August event.

Meanwhile I had a good semester with my students this fall but technology with laptop, projector, printers were not good.  I went to Plan B and then Plan C with this problems and the students rolled with it.  I do NOT want to have this same room next semester, I just want to have a normal time with what has never been an issue before.

I also have articles to write for a grant that I wrote, I have two other writers working alongside of me to accomplish 15 articles about our agricultural area of Minnesota. I think we will get them done before May so that we can get other work done at the Carnegie. In any case, it has been a very fruitful and productive year of fundraising. I need to get all my numbers put in order so that I can have another Carnegie restoration committee meeting with the others before our historical society board meeting.  Seems some people are either lazy or do NOT have the same passion to bring back the Carnegie to function for the community.

I am hoping that the year 2017 will be a very good one for my family and for my getting more done.  Happy New Year.


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Summer is two-thirds over…then what’s next?


Small room with new look


Looking out to hallway inside the small room

Last Friday I signed my contract to teach two more composition classes which starts up on Aug. 23rd.  That hardly gives me any breathing space to have a summer vacation after all speed ahead with our town’s annual event from Aug. 17-20th.  The big parade, which will change its route to go downtown again, will be the climax of a very busy but fun time at the Carnegie.  We have a LOT of activities to keep up with but we have some awesome volunteers as well.

Yesterday I stained the wainscoting paneling that will go up in the basement of the Carnegie which is where we all went for our children’s library back in the old days.  Memories run long for many who are from this area because we used to have an outdoor swimming pool right next to the library and there were also tennis courts down the hill. A very good hangout for many teenagers and young people which was centrally located in downtown.

Now, we don’t have as many kids and we have older people who can’t ably take the massive steps up to the main floor of the Carnegie. That is where we will have different art exhibits and also a photography display for all four days.  Along with that we will have a class competition to see which class can donate the most money to help with our restoring the Carnegie and the first night we will have people paint and take a canvas home after painting on their own canvas.

I tell people that I feel like one of those clowns who has plates that are spinning on top of poles and that you have to keep them all spinning simultaneously without them falling down. That’s what is going to be happening for FOUR days but there are many others who will be there to help. The only difference is that we will have both levels of the Carnegie in operation with the gift shop downstairs.

I’m showing some of the pictures of what has been happening lately. All good things. With 2/3rds of the summer gone, I’m wondering when I’ll get my summer vacation before I start teaching again.


what our stained wainscoting looks like


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Looking for a particular rock


My flower bed with begonias

I haven’t written on this blog for a week or so, I have either the Carnegie to work on or weeding the many gardens we have on the farm.  I’m not complaining and am grateful for the health and energy to do both.  When one sees vast improvement, that gives further motivation to keep going. The other day, however, I was working with several areas that we see out of kitchen window while doing dishes.  I asked my husband if he could tell the difference and he didn’t.  Oh well, *I* know that the quack grass that I had pulled several months ago was back covering over the cream colored bricks and it was also covering over the other bricks by the bird bath.  I wanted the big rocks to show that had been handled by my paternal grandpa, taken out of our rich, Red River Valley soil. I also have a couple of rocks from my mom’s side of the family that her dad, my grandpa would have handled and taken out of his field in North Dakota. The only thing is that they had to do yearly rock picking because there were rocks that kept emerging. Contrary to that, you have to go a LONG way on our fertile soil to find any kind of rock.

Speaking of rocks, several weeks ago I was using my power gloves to weed one of our vegetable gardens. My folks had come out to help. My dad does the spin trim around buildings or he goes out in the back woods and mows the tall grass down.  I DO remember when I was trying to yank my one left glove off, it was stuck and not moving.  I yanked some more and finally it gave way.  The funny thing is that I never looked to see why the glove wouldn’t give way. Instead, I kept working with pulling out the weeds or raking the ones I had already pulled or what my mom had pulled. I placed (rather threw down) my gloves on the lawn near the south edge of the garden. Later I picked them up again to do cutting of tall, nasty weeds south of one of our barns.  I was outside long past the time my folks went back into town. During these LONG summer nights, my usual time to come indoors is about 10:10 or 10:15 p.m.  The days are supposedly getting shorter, good thing, because that decreases my time to be out working!

I went to bed after a shower to get all the weed dust and dirt off of me.  At 3:15 a.m is when I reached down to my left hand to find that I was missing my diamond that Ken had given to me 23 years ago.  I went to the bathroom to see that only the four prongs were showing and at that moment realized that what my glove had been stuck on were one of the prongs. Thus, my diamond was somewhere in the vegetable garden perhaps covered up by snow peas, tomatoes, yellow beans or worse yet, in the grass nearby. At about 5:30 a.m. I went out with a flashlight to fruitlessly look around for any glint of diamond. I went back inside to write my first newspaper article that I had been struggling to write.  I had a kind of passion or empathy for the person I was trying to highlight due to my own loss.

When I had gotten back into bed I told my husband that I was missing my diamond. Maybe he was not fully awake but he said something to the effect that it was just a diamond and that it would get replaced.  I had that same feeling too…just a diamond that had been worth a LOT back when my husband had money to buy it.  Since I had been trying to write an article about an artist from Czechoslovakia who had been imprisoned for his rallying against communism, I compared my loss to his. For 3 1/2 years total he had been tortured, lost his dental practice, his health and almost his family of wife and two sons.  He got out soon after Prague Spring and ended up in New York jobless and then my hometown.  For almost as many years as he had been in prison, he lived in freedom and painted and painted for a livelihood.  So to compare my losing a diamond to the life he had gone through, that was my thought too, it was just a diamond.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t go out to weed and water my vegetable garden and look for that particular rock.  There are many rocks and broken pieces of glass in this particular place.  It could be that it was not even IN the glove at the time I struggled getting it off and that the prongs were there to resist.  No one had ever told me to get those prongs snug to the diamond but now I know to do that with the new diamond that my husband helped me pick out. I should be getting it any time in the next week or so.  It will have six prongs and I will wear it with pride.  I know I have a husband who loves me and my Mom and Dad do too.  They helped to pay for some of this particular rock.

Yes, lesson learned, I will have to take off this precious jewel whenever I am gardening because that is a lot of abuse it takes as I tug at the weeds that resolutely want to stay in my garden where they are NOT wanted.


Flatlands of rich soil that my dad mows down

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Teamwork makes progress, AFTER the committee meeting

We had our committee meeting last night with 8 of us in attendance at the Carnegie and then we got a LOT more done in the basement afterwards. Teamwork makes a difference. First we discussed security of the building. There’s been a broken window on east side which was fixed with a temporary board to cover the hole). The president of our organization will talk to the groundskeeper about the need for a security camera. We also need to hire someone to do the lawn mowing on the Carnegie property. Maintaining this 100+ year old building takes much consideration. If the electrical info does not come in time for the upcoming July $10,000 grant application, then there is enough info to write about getting the tin roof in north wing fixed.

We realized after the last choruses concert that we also need FOUR more shades in south wing and on the west side of the north wing. A temporary, cheaper fix like the three we already have should work.  Some shades can cost $300 each (we have ten BIG windows so that is $3,000 just for shades). That might be written into the bigger $100,000 grant for the windows. Another different size shade is needed for the kitchenette window on the east because that brings in a lot of hot air.

In anticipation of our city’s annual event, we will have a Bright Brushes fundraiser – I already paid deposit for two sessions ($175) we need 20 people to sign up for each session. We would get $20 for each person so that is $800 right there if we have all signed up. We discussed where the painting sessions would be located, upstairs in east wing or downstairs?

During our Ox Cart days we plan to have a Antonin Boubin art display on Saturday. We will ask people to bring their own Boubin art like they did last year for Stanley H. Walker’s art exhibition. I will also contact other local artists or photographers for the other two days. Hopefully we will have a good turnout to see the art displays. Simultaneous to this our Ox Cart Days Theme will be Pembina trails and Ox carts. We will use material and artifacts from the museum to show on the main floor. The museum’s president mentioned about using the Amfran oxcart for display out on the front lawn of the Carnegie.

We will have a Gift and Donation shop downstairs with all the other product we have for sale under glass, 1882 city’s etching, framed pictures from old books, etc. Someone mentioned that we should have a card that reads “Donated in memory of___person’s name___)” Also need to update the Carnegie brochure that we used last year.  Should have HUGE price tags hanging from different places throughout the Carnegie to show how much an estimate to restore would cost. (i.e. original dome lights or fixing tin roof ceiling)

We talked about how we cannot afford to pay musicians, they must be free-will. Instead of featuring talent, we would have different graduating classes compete about who can donate the most to the Carnegie cause. Also, have a kind of social hour for them to gather with light snacks.  For instance, Thursday night for those who graduated in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, then Friday night 1970s and 1980s. We would have all yearbooks on display for alumni to look at for the Mount and Central high schools. Then during Saturday would be all classes represented and announce which class donated the most and/or have the most number of donors.  The class(es) would be recognized on a kind of plaque perhaps.  We could have the donating contest on line. Those who come in person to donate, we would have the zip machine ready and handy to receive on-line donations.  Amy said that the historical society’s website could be set up to take in donations specifically for the Carnegie.

Once we know all the details, I will get a Poster done showing all these events to advertise our Carnegie events by mid-July – Bright Brushes fundraiser events on Wed. afternoon and evening. Show the different times and dates on Thurs. and Friday for the different graduating classes to come for their own reunions.

After the good meeting that lasted an hour, our teamwork went to the basement and the small middle room was completely emptied of file cases. It is ready for our expert construction guy to do his work of plastering, readying it for painting, then sanding down the softwood floor. We are making progress because of volunteer teamwork.


fixing the broken window


fireproof file cabinet


room is now ready for painting


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April Fools in the NEW Movie just out!

I taught my composition classes this morning and then left the university to go home to pick up my husband so we would go shopping about 25 miles from our place.  I had THREE, no four things I needed to get…music for violin and flute duets.  Check. Tablecloth for the Carnegie to match the other three that I had already gotten last year. Check. Bins for our wash sink basin. Check. Finally, running (walking) shoes and I LOVE Saucony shoes. Check!

Then my husband wanted to go to a movie that had JUST come out today…God’s NOT Dead Part II. It was very well done and I was emotionally connected to it on many different levels.  I teach at a university and so I know the age group that this was set for.  The family dynamics for the one girl was very messy. The teacher was brought to court because she had quoted a passage from Scripture and one evil attorney wanted to ruin her. He was very clever but the teacher’s attorney who represented her in front of a judge and jury outfoxed the guy.  I was totally taken in by the plot and when the credits rolled at the end, they showed the number of court cases that have already happened where Christian teachers have had lawsuits filed against them by ACLU types. There must have been about 25-30 that have happened all over our nation. Sickening.  April Fools Day was an appropriate day to have the first day showing of this movie…it showed who the REAL fools were!

There were other plots intertwined with this as well. The song group Newsboys was on this show as well as Lee Stroebel and Mike Huckabee. Others were in this movie but I didn’t know them since we don’t watch t.v.  Anyway, I’m glad we had our date together. Then we stopped by unannounced to a friend’s place and we talked and caught up. He has recently published another book about Germans from Russia and what he has found out in his five years of writing and researching this.  We went out for supper together and then came home.

Once home, I got my violin out and practiced every song in the two song books that I had bought.  Some will work better than others…now to just make photo copies of some of these songs and practice together with the flute player.  Good day for being April Fools day!

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Monday, Monday, so good to me


our sunset at 5:30 p.m.

I guess that is a song, or the start of one.  I’m glad it was a good Monday of classes and then meeting up with people at noon and then office hours.  I have much to be thankful for especially after a very warm weekend where my husband and I could get much work done with moving things around at the Carnegie.  We need the carpenters to start work on the fire proof vault to have the old newspapers stored there.  Archives with newspapers that are as old as 1880s and 1890s.  They have all been scanned on microfilm. I don’t think we have the money to get them digitized.

My husband and I also went to the movie theater across the street from the Carnegie to see the movie “13 Hours” which is about Benghazi and what happened to people trapped there.  Grueling two hours watching how the brave ones did all they could to hold their ground, it was like a little Alamo with the acreage they had to cover.  They were ready and one of the stars of the team did get hit and died.  The movie makers knew how to go back and forth with these fierce men battle ready but they also had families they had been talking to by Skype or whatever when the bullets were not flying.

All in all, I would recommend the movie to show the lead up of why Libya messed up as a nation and how it affected many people on the ground.  What we were doing over there is a bit baffling, there had been too many years of dictatorship for the warring factions to have any kind of decorum about them.  They were heavily armed and were willing to use it against Americans.  Most of them got out alive but the ambassador Christopher Stevens did not fare so well. He had been in country only a couple of days before 9/11 and things were sealed off in anticipation of something happening. There were people giving those who were trained to defend the “Stand down” order.  That is also very, very perplexing.

So, I told my students about it and maybe a few will go. I told them that I held my husband’s hand the whole time as we watched the movie. Especially difficult was the aftermath as they were picking up the pieces, dead bodies and trying to get their lives back together.  Yes, on a Monday evening, I have a LOT to be thankful for because of what others before us have sacrificed for our freedoms.  I do NOT take that for granted.

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