Posts tagged Norway

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.

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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.

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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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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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Minnesota Blessing and Happy Trails

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go to Kazakhstan…seems like a familiar music refrain for me with all the travels I’ve done living 15 years outside of the U.S.  Many lists and much has been done, but I am glad that I have a little time to write something before I head out leaving on a jet plane. And yes, I DO know when I’ll be back again.

The following is what I found while I was cleaning house. I believe I need to document it on this blog, otherwise it will be lost forever to piles of important things:

Minnesota Blessing

May the ruts in the road fit your pickup

May the wind always be off the lake

May the sun shine warm upon your lefse

The snow fall soft upon your roof

And until we meet again, may God save you

from unnecessary Uff-das!

(You have to be from or near Minnesota to know what “Uffda” means. Even the Norwegians don’t use that word though its origin is supposedly from Norway.)

Happy trails to me…until we meet again.

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Waxing philosophical and not my x-country skis

I have had some very interesting conversations with my PDP students about what they hope will be achieved with first having the OSCE Summit conference in Astana, Kazakhstan last December of 2010 and now in February of 2011 there is the Asian Winter games.  The Opening Ceremony will be talked about for a long time by a lot by people all over Central Asia but especially in Kazakhstan where it was hosted.

It’s not over yet.  I have American friends that seem to be going to a lot of sporting events in Almaty.  If only we could take time off in Astana to see these competitions, but there is MUCH work to be done at our new university.  Apparently, the Kazakh organizers hope to snag the Olympic Winter Games for 2018.  We shall see if that will happen or not.

I was told yesterday by a few people that some foreigners did not arrive for several reasons.  First, some had their flights re-routed because of the bombing incident at the Moscow airport several weeks ago.  Maybe others were afraid of something like that happening here in peaceful Kazakhstan.  Another reason more foreign guests didn’t arrive is because supposedly the tickets were not printed up in time to be sold to foreign guests who were coming in from the outside.  I’m glad I have my ticket for Friday’s women’s ice skating event because that sporting event has been sold out.

Figure skating is a sport I will never tire of watching either live or on t.v. because I know just how hard it is to skate fast on ice and do all the amazing jumps and moves.  I also know from experience just how hard the ice is if you fall.  I will go skating again on the river this Sunday but I miss our skating rinks and arenas back in Minnesota.  When my siblings and I were growing up, we have our Dad to thank for flooding a patch of land at our farm where we would go out to skate in the winter time.  He would re-flood the top of the ice so it was nice and smooth.

Also, I had a great-grandpa from Norway who homesteaded in North Dakota in the late 1880s who was a highly medalled champion in ski jumps but he was also a good skater.  He was like a legend where he came from in Telemark, Norway.  I come from a rich heritage of skiing and skating since my Mom would ski to school from her farmhouse down to the town below.  Ah, those were the good old days.

But these days are good too, for Kazakhstan, they are in the glory with the big show that happened this past Sunday.  Please look at New Challenge’s blog because what she shows in pictures is worth MORE than 1,000 words.  Look at her photos here and here.

Happy Groundhog Day!

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Non-Bellicose Belarus Bear and more…

Not sure why the artist from Belarus chose a black cat behind a house, along with swans and tulips. It looks like the artwork of elementary school children or what you would find in a nursery. Cuba is unabashedly promoting their Cuban cigar industry, while New Zealand shows off their odd kiwi birds front and center.  See what you think of these bears, some may appear bellicose while others seem tame.

And now for something very different…I LOVE my country very much, as I’m sure most people do from their respective countries represented by the Buddy Bears.  Here’s the FIRST verse of the Star Spangled Banner which is sung at the beginning of all games of all sports, professional and amateur.  I believe it is a good tradition, with hand to the heart standing at quiet attention:

“Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?…

Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

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Visualize “Whirled Peas” Continues in Astana

Happy May 17th to Norway, this is their proud day of remembering their independence as a country.  I celebrated with my Norwegian relatives Stavanger in May of 1983 when I had just returned from my two year Peace Corps stint in the Philippines.  Difficult to go from third world experience to Norway’s first world. We were treated to so many nice meals and too much food (lefse – like bilini and gjetost – goat cheese) by our Norwegian hosts.  My dear grandma Dagny had so many Norwegian relatives she had kept up with from her childhood days, we had a rigorous schedule to keep to.  However, one day in this blurring whirlwind of activities, I just had to take a break from it all.  My head was in a spin about how one country had so much (Norway) while the Philippines had so little.

Yesterday I discussed with some friends the difference between cold cultures and warm cultures.  Norway by necessity has to produce and store food (think lutefisk – cod in lye) being in the northern climes while in the Philippines, closer to the equator, the Filipinos can pull off bananas and coconuts from trees year round.  Thus, efficiency and function is more important in cold cultures whereas in warm cultures, relations are the most important.  I’m living in a warm culture in Kazakhstan where relationship is most important even though winter in Astana can be bitterly cold. Go figure!!!

Some people may not have gotten the connection between Buddy Bears and their promotion of world peace with my title on yesterday’s blog of “whirled peas.”  At risk of being redundant but since I’m not feeling too creative today, I’ll continue to visualize world peace with more photos of the Buddy Bears.  I actually took more photos today, such an amazing display of color.

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Abstract art and Kazakhstan

I like rustic, realist kind of art that I’ve shown this past week with Philip R. Goodwin’s prints.  I also like abstract art and I just met an artist when I was in the Boston area last week who sells her meter by a meter artwork for about $4,000 a piece.  She has a LOT of inventory and if I could afford her work, I would buy from Kathleen Cammarata.  She likes doing earth tones and I like anything green.  This one reminds me of a satellite photo of the earth. I did capture this one painting in Kathleen’s studio with the okay from her husband Frank R. Thoms.  It was wonderful to see her vivid colors in abstract form.

Why do I like abstract art?  I did acrylics while I was in college and soon after I graduated, much in primary and secondary colors but I also loved to do oil paintings.  I LOVE the smell of oil maybe because it hearkens back to fond memories my grandpa on my Dad’s side.  In his waning years, he took up a paint brush after being a lumberman, carpenter and a farmer. When I was in grade school I would brag about how he was a famous artist, little knowing that he was just an amateur.  But back 100 years ago, you had to be a jack-of-all-trades by necessity.  My dear grandpa was all of that and a master of all!!!  That was the only way to survive in the hinterlands of northwestern Minnesota and in Canada where my grandpa spent much of his time.  He loved to fish and hunt too.

Why do I like both abstract and realist art?  Because I know that both styles take a lot of talent and much sweat equity.  When the economy tanks, the artists and musicians feel it.  So, I’m hoping that Kathleen can sell her huge inventory and I hope others like Kazakhstan’s artist Nelly Bube can have enduring art and still be rewarded monetarily.  I’ve written about the Kazakhstani artist Nelly Bube before, I’d like to get more of her paintings on this blog.  What was interesting to me was that a distant relative of mine in Telemark, Norway, Sigmund Groven who is a famous harmonica player sent me a Christmas card and it was a Nelly Bube painting.  Maybe since he has had an interest in Kazakhstan, he knew to send it to me.  In any case, I appreciate those in the artistic and music fields, they know how to express themselves.

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Former Student’s Comment and Best Blog Dart Thinker Awards

To be tagged as the Best Blog Dart Thinker Award is an honor and I must extend this prestigious award to other bloggers I know of.  When I read this announcement to my husband the other night, he thought he heard “Dark Thinker Award.”  He knows that I have chosen some rather dark themes to blog about such as the karlags and ALZHIR in Kazakhstan and the ominous politics at our university and anything else about our life here in Almaty.  No, I think Dart Thinker must have something to do with hitting the bullseye about how we perceive our world.  As an American guest in a country that has long been maligned, misunderstood, forgotten or NOT known about by westerners, I am trying to faithfully write about how GREAT this country is.  I suppose my friends in Ukraine would think I am a turncoat to my love of Ukraine but I believe living and teaching 7-8 years in Ukraine prepared me for living in Kazakhstan.  

 

I already mentioned in my last blog my American friend, Ukrainiac, who got me started on blogging two years ago but the next award goes to “The Sea Wave” a former Ukrainian student of mine who is studying in Honolulu now.  She has a very prophetic screen name for her blog and this is what she wrote on September 6, 2008 when she was first starting up her classes in an American university.

 

 The next class was Analyzing and Writing Arguments. And this is when I clearly remembered Mrs. KG) 8) Our professor is Polish but is very experienced in an American writing style, and this is what we are going to do in this class: write essays, make PowerPoint presentations, work on using citations, write a research paper, perform peer review and feedback (reading each others papers), and twice a week we will have to do something in the Internet (remember how we had to write blogs three times a week?). Dear Mrs. G, if you are reading this, thank you very much for your classes. Now I feel so prepared for all these.

 

Thrills me to read my former student’s comments and I have many good memories of my other Ukrainian students who started this blogging experiment with me over a year and a half ago at a westernized university in Kyiv, Ukraine.  They are Princess of Snow who was another blondie from Sevastopol and also Noire Swan who looked very Ukrainian and was prolific in her writings and comments of her classmates and my blog.

 

The next award goes to Eric Bergeson who is known as The Country Scribe and has written for many years on his blog about what life is like back in my neck of the woods in northwest Minnesota.  He has a history background, talented piano player, owns a very beautiful nursery and is a wonderful photographer.  If Ron Vossler had a blog, I’d award him as well, his politics are very different from Eric’s but he has the same research interests as Dr. J. Otto Pohl. 

 

Then there are two American teaching colleague friends of mine who need to be encouraged to write MORE on their blogs about life in Kazakhstan.  Dr. Nancy Burkhalter and also James who has a screen name of Molapse which stands for “Momentary Relapse of Reason.”   My next award goes to Asqat who is very Kazakh but looks Japanese at first glance, he has a blog that is in Kazakh language but ocassionally he slips into blogging in English.  I trust that what he writes is a good perspective on life in his country of Kazakhstan, it was pleasant to meet him last spring.  Another American blogger I’ve been following through tags on WordPress is a woman who went to Kostanai, Kazakhstan to adopt a baby.  I don’t know her name but have followed her travails and eventual victory on bringing her Kazakh baby home to the U.S.  She goes by the screen name of ByChance, she has her hands full with two other adopted children I believe. 

 

The only reason I knew about Kazakhstan back in 1992 when I applied for a Fulbright grant was hearing John Piper talk about Kazakhstan when I attended his church in Minneapolis in 1983-1990.  Thanks to him indirectly, I met my husband when I arrived in spring of 1993.  I believe Piper wrote his doctoral thesis in German.  There is a strong connection of Germany and Kazakhstan as is true with Germany and Ukraine, but that’s a whole history lesson by itself. 

 

History IS important because it helps explain why certain people ended up where they did.  Why did my Norwegian great grandfather, Sveinung Aslakson, leave his beautiful country to farm in North Dakota?  That reminds me about who started their blog back in 2000 and I read it faithfully back then.  My Montana cousin, PK Aslakson Madsen, also shares the same great grandfather.  PK, if you are still blogging, I’d give you an Best Blog Dart Thinker Award also. 8)

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“Ja Vi Elsker Dette Landet”…Happy Syttende Mai!!!

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Happy Norwegian Independence day on May 17th this very day!  At the turn of the 20th century the Norwegians were MORE than happy to be unshackled from an overpowering country such as Sweden.  Before Sweden’s domination, Norway had been under the authority of Denmark. I believe it was 1905 when Norway finally became a sovereign nation with their own rules, constitution and king. No wonder the early Norwegian pioneers who settled in the Midwest were very Republican (think Lincoln’s party) and so anti-slavery.  Many of the Norwegian soldiers from Minnesota died fighting the South in the Civil War.  Many of my relatives back in Telemark, Norway also put up a huge fight against the Nazi occupiers during WWII.

Maybe there is a streak in my Norwegian blood (I’m Swedish and Danish also) that revels in independence, my own as well as other countries’ independence.  That is why I continue to celebrate Kazakhstan’s new independence as of 16 years ago.  Noone likes to be under an oppressive government but unfortunately they still exist all over the world.  (I’m thinking of the countries of Myanmar and China with their recent tragedies) I’ve taught in a few of those countries where fear and suspicion dominates and lack of truth seems to prevail.  Apparently Myanmar’s government cares nothing for the suffering of those who survived their cyclone disaster.  Fortunately China cares enough about its world image for the sake of the Olympics this summer and are trying to get aid to those survivors in the Chengdu area and beyond where the earthquake continues to send shockwaves. 

Perennials and annual flowers always remind me of our brevity of life on this planet.  I took photos of the above irises several days ago and now they are withered away to just stalks.  However, the petunias like any good annual, will last throughout the summer yet they need to be planted anew every spring.  Countries come and go too, some become hybrids of another form of government, others become extinct.  Some countries seem to be perennial-like that bounce back every year, while other nations are like annuals that wither away under drought like conditions.  These last thoughts concerning countries and flowers are for future blog ponderings.

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