Posts tagged Telemark

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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Dana’s Victory Day story and more Astana billboards

The following is a shorter story from a Kazakh woman in Almaty who wrote about her family’s involvement with WWII or Great Patriotic War as it was called here in the former Soviet Union.

The Great Patriotic War affected every family in our Kazakhstan.  My father and four of his brothers were at war from the very beginning. My father and three of his brothers came home wounded at the end of the war. One of my uncles  – Baizildayev Duisen went missing. My dad was searching for his brother all his life without success.

My mother’s uncles also were at war.  I know that fathers and uncles of my colleagues were at war. Therefore, I think we all who are living now must remember the heroism of World War II soldiers.

Yesterday I watched almost three hours of “Andersonville” the Rebels prison camp near Atlanta, Georgia where the Yankee soldiers were detained while the Civil War raged on.  A place meant to house only 8,000 POWs, had over 33,000 men in the camp, a miserable place.  In the span of less than two years, there were over 45,000 men who were thrown in this hell hole.  About a 1/4 of them died due to starvation, dysentery, scurvy and other sad conditions due to little medical treatment for the war wounded.  Others were murdered by the Raiders who were in the camp but were not disciplined military but rather hoodlums.

The only reason I watched this movie was out of curiosity because many Norwegians who had just arrived to Minnesota and Wisconsin signed up to be a part of the North’s effort to liberate the blacks from slavery.  One of my distant relatives, Bjorn Aslakson, from Telemark kept his wits about him and wrote in a small diary the atrocities he saw.  He was able to survive and eventually got back to his family in Minnesota but this place had broken his health, he didn’t live long once he returned home.

This sad plight was true of many of the Kazakh war veterans, if they survived the POW camps or fighting, they may have returned home wounded and were haunted with the memories of what they witnessed during war.  Dana is right, we MUST remember the heroism of WWII soldiers.  That is why I am showing more of the Astana billboards I saw along the highway to the airport.

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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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