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Each year for the past ten years, I have seen advertisements for St. Joe's harvest fundraiser(1) on the backs of cars. I have often found myself either driving or sitting at a red light behind one of these cars. Finally this Sunday, I actually went to the fundraiser. It took place on the playing field(2) that belongs to St. Joseph's Catholic school which is situated inside the church building of the same name. The fundraiser is for the school, to raise money for all its different needs. The organizers do a good job of advertising, and getting the word out(3) into the community. It was a glorious day, typical Autumn, sunny but slightly cool. There was already music playing when I arrived, even though it was only mid-morning. A little hispanic boy was singing 'Cielito lindo', and a crowd was gathering to watch him. I walked past the row of Mexican food stalls and stopped at one which was selling cups of sliced fruit. As I ate the mango, melon, and jicama slices, I walked around and looked at the rest of the fundraiser. There were giant bouncy areas for children, ceramic and craft stalls, jewelry, clothing, and a second-hand area that had a bit of everything. I rummaged (4)around in the household items, looking for something useful. "I'll make you a good deal, Ma'am," said the owner. "Make me an offer; I'm not fussy," he added. I didn't find anything really exciting. However, I did end up buying a red box with sequins on it for my daughter, just one dollar. "I can't go home without buying something," I thought to myself. The fundraiser was a great little event. Hopefully the school will receive the money it needs to keep its standards high.

1. 'Fundraiser'. This word is a combination of 2 nouns, and means an event at which money is raised for a cause. Fundraisers often take place for charities and medical research.

a. We made over $1000 at the fundraiser last night. That money will be well spent.

b. You can make more money from a fundraiser by involving celebrities.

c. Cancer research always needs more money, that's why there are so many fundraisers for that cause.

2. 'The playing field' is the area of grass that is used by a school for its outdoor activities and sports.

a. The annual Sports Day for the elementary school was held on the playing field yesterday.

b. That school is lucky to have such a large playing field.

3. 'To get the word out' means to 'spread the news', 'to advertise', or 'to inform the public.'

a. If you want to get a lot of business for your shop, you should get the word out.

b. The Performing Arts Center will have a ballet performance in December, so they are getting the word out now.

Remember to check out my short story 'The Golden Whisper' which is free on Smashwords.com!

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Direct download: St_Joes_Harvest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:21 PM
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You must have all heard about the recent Scottish referendum. Of course, I have to write a podcast about it; it is too important not to(1). So what was it all about? Scotland, England, and Wales have been united for over 300 years politically and economically. Some people in Scotland want total independence, and to no longer be part of that union. So they voted on it. The vote was 'close', meaning that the 'No' votes were only 10% greater than the 'Yes' votes. Now that the dust has settled(2) after the vote, the U.K government is considering making changes to its system, so each part of the union feels totally satisfied in how it is represented in parliament. 

Scotland is definitely different from England. Its' terrain is more mountainous. It has hundreds of islands. It's education system is said to be(3) much better than England's. The Scots have their own history, culture, and native language. And of course, they have their own successful industries, particularly the North Sea oil. However, the tax base for the Union comes mainly from England, as there are so many people there generating the taxes. Also, the military is paid mainly by English taxes. Splitting up would not be a simple matter. I, personally, would not want the Union to divide, as I think it has worked well for so long. My father who is English actually lives in Scotland. He loves it there, and didn't expect the Scots to vote for independence. However, we all want to govern ourselves, and why not? Perhaps it would work. So far, though, there isn't enough support in Scotland for independence. I'm proud to say that the democratic process was carried out peacefully, and fairly, with both sides accepting the result. And that's how it should be: ultimately the people's decision.

1. '..;..it is too important not to.' The end of the sentence is a shortcut. Instead of writing,' ...; it is too important to not write about the referendum,' I can simply put 'not to' after important. As long as the first part of the sentence is complete, and has a verb, you can use this shortcut.

a. We need to turn the air conditioner on; it is too hot not to.

b. He should apply for that job; he is too qualified not to.

c. They will travel there by plane; it's too far not to.

2. 'Now that the dust has settled/ when the dust settles' is a great phrase that points to the clarity that comes after an incident or event is over. When a bomb explodes, for a while, there is dust in the air, and you cannot see clearly. 'When the dust settles' you can see clearly, therefore you can make correct decisions or opinions.

a. When the fight is over, and the dust settles, we will see who was guilty and who was innocent.

b. The riot was caught on film. When the dust settles, we will see who caused it.

c. Now that the dust has settled after the divorce, and the anger and emotion are over, perhaps the man and woman will behave better.

3. '....is said to be' is similar to '..is known as'.

a. She is said to be stronger than any man.

b. The orangutan is said to be one of the most intelligent animals in the world.

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Direct download: Referendum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58 PM
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Barbara: Hi Peter, sorry to bother you, but do you know where Liz is?

Peter: Yes, she's actually in hospital.

Barbara: Hospital? Oh, no! Is she alright?

Peter: Yes, it's nothing serious. She had gone to her mother's surprise party, and when her mother walked in, Liz jumped forward and slipped on a slippery rug. She fell forward into a table, and broke her nose.

Barbara: Ouch! Oh, the poor thing! And at her mother's party too!

Peter: I know. I feel bad for her. She needed a small operation, but she should be home tomorrow, I think.

Barbara: I must go and take her some flowers. Thanks Peter, I'll see you later!

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Direct download: 35.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25 PM
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One of the things that I love about London is how multicultural it is. Every nation on the planet has some representation in London. So, living in a place that is so cosmopolitan, makes a person the same. You become totally at ease around people of all different ethnic groups. That's one of the things that I wanted to expose(1) my children to. As we live in a very rural and fairly isolated community, they don't get exposed to the rest of the world very much. So their trip to London was an 'eye-opener'(2) for them. As we travelled around on the number 9 bus, past shops, parks, monuments, and restaurants, we saw all sorts of things that we wouldn't normally see. Near Holland road, there was an Iranian restaurant with an Iranian shop next door. We first noticed the shop because it had a huge and luscious(3) looking fruit stand on display. "Wow, look at that fruit!" one of my boys said. The bus had stopped just opposite the shop, so I had time to get my camera out. But, what really caught my eye was the banner above the restaurant. It was wishing the best of luck to both the Iranian soccer team, and the English team during the World Cup. It said, "From Iranian UK." Seeing it made me happy. It was an expression of good will by people who themselves are in a foreign land. 

1. 'To expose' either means to uncover, or to bring something into contact with something else.

a. Our visitor from Mexico had never been exposed to a snowy winter before.

b. Keep your cut clean and covered; you don't want to expose it to germs.

c. Their trip to Japan was their first trip abroad. They had never been exposed to another culture before.

2. An 'eye-opener' is something that teaches you something new. It is implied that you are surprised or fascinated by the new information.

a. The first week of college was a real eye-opener for him.

b. I had heard the rumors about the case. However, it was a real eye-opener to sit down and read the facts.

3. 'Luscious' is a fabulous word that means 'juicy' and 'delicious'.

a. They call that actress 'Luscious lips' because she has full lips that are always painted red.

b. These mangoes are luscious; they are perfectly ripe!

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Direct download: Soccer_friends.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:50 PM
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Have you ever been on a long plane journey? It's quite an experience. Just getting on the plane takes a while. You have to arrive at the airport two hours before the flight. You have to check your luggage in, make your way through security, and have your passport checked and re-checked. Then you sit in the waiting room, and, well...wait. After lining up(1) with the other two hundred passengers, having your passport and boarding card checked again, and walking through the tunnel to the plane, you really need to sit down! Hopefully you can find a place in the overhead container for your carry-on(2) luggage. But be careful moving other people's bags around to make space for yours; you might get some suspicious looks or angry faces. Finally, you are sitting down and ready for the flight. You look to see who is sitting next to you. Hopefully it's someone nice, afterall(3), you have to sit next to him or her for the next 9 hours! You'd better introduce yourself and be pleasant; it helps. But then, what do you do for the next 9 hours? On the long, transcontinental flights, there is usually a television screen right in front of you, with a variety of films, programs, or music to choose from. It's called the 'inflight entertainment'. All the passengers are glued to the screens for most of the journey. As I don't like to sit down for very long, I get up and walk around, and stretch. It always fascinates me how so many people can sit down for so long. Their bottoms must really suffer! Mind you, if the in-flight entertainment is good, people forget about their bottoms, and their need to move, and they simply watch and watch. What else is there to do on a plane? I am always thankful for the screens when I fly with my children, because, for their generation, watching a screen is as normal as breathing. If there were no screens, they would feel as if a part of their bodies was missing. So thankyou to the airlines for our entertainment, and appologies to our bottoms.

1. 'To line up' means to form a line in order to wait for something. In England, we still use the verb 'to queue'.

a. We had to line up to get the tickets, and then line up to get it!

b. Some people are so impatient and find it difficult to line up.

2. 'Overhead container and carry-on luggage' are two nouns used all the time when you fly. The cupboard above your seat on the plane is called your 'overhead container' because it is over your head. 'Carry-on luggage' refers to the small bag that you are allowed to take into the cabin, or room where everyone sits.

a. The overhead container was full, so I had to squeeze my bag under the seat.

b. My carry-on luggage was too big, so I had to check it in.

3. 'Afterall' is a great word that is similar in meaning to: 'if you think about it', 'if you understand all the options'.

a. I can give you a lift to the university, afterall, we both need to be there at the same time, and I have a car.

b. I recommend you include fruits and vegetables in your cooking, afterall, it's for the health of your family.

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Direct download: Entertainment_inflight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18 PM
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When we stayed in London this summer, our apartment was on Holland Road. It was inside a row of typical London town houses: white with black window frames, and black iron fences. I love that simple, elegant style. However, this row of houses needed some TLC(1). New paint would have been good, a  bit of renovation as well. But, for our purposes, the apartment was fine. I asked the owner for his recommendation on getting to the center of town. He advised against using(2) the underground (the Tube), as in the summer it is packed with tourists. So, I got on-line, and found that the number 9 bus went from just around the corner, right to the center, to Trafalgar Square. It was comfortable, convenient, and cheap. We spent most of our time exploring London. Back at the apartment, we would have dinner and then go for a walk. Our street was very noisy, but just one street away everything became quiet, and the neighborhoods were much nicer. We stumbled upon a huge park, called Holland Park which had everything in it: large open areas, lots of trees and flowers, a play area for children, and even an opera house. It was a wonderful, green relief from a busy day in the city, a quiet place away from our noisy apartment.

1. TLC is short for 'tender-loving-care'. It can be applied to anything. We tend to use it when talking about inanimate objects, like houses. It means that the mentioned object needs to be cleaned up, repaired, or decorated.

a. The old house needs some TLC, so we'll start by replacing the roof.

b. That truck is in a terrible state. It needs some TLC.

2. 'To advise' can be used negatively or positively. When you advise someone to take action there are 2 ways of expressing it:

a. I advise you to talk to your teacher.

b. I advise talking to your teacher.

However, when you are advising someone to 'not' do something, the structure of the sentence is different:

a. I advise against you going to your teacher.

b. I advise against going to your teacher. * We don't say 'I advise you against going to your teacher.' It sounds bad; the against should come before 'you'.

If you don't want to use the word 'against', you can say:

c. I advise you not to go to your teacher

d. I advise you to not go to your teacher.

 

Any of these is correct.

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Direct download: 2_Holland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:44 AM
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Point number 5 from yesterday's podcast was missing! Sorry! So here it is, plus a couple of extra pieces of English that are worth learning.

5. In the podcast, I wrote that my children 'had had enough of being with their mother 24 hours a day.'

It sounds strange to say , 'had, had', but don't let it intimidate you. Remember, the verb I am using is 'to have enough of something' which means that you have been over exposed to something, or are tired of a situation or person.

So, in order to use the pluperfect tense I have to use 'my children had had enough...'. Here are some examples using different tenses. *Note, this verb is usually used in the past.

a. I left because I had had enough of his arguing.

b. She yawned because she had had enough of the boring lecture.

c. I have had enough of the bad weather; I need to go somewhere sunny! *Note, this is present perfect, not pluperfect.

 

I also would like to share one English idiom, and one new English phrase, both of which I found on the website, Learn English Today (highly recommended).

Idiom.

To be 'all ears' means to be very interested in what someone is about to tell you.

a. I can't believe that she's going to climb Mt. Everest. Tell me all about it; I'm all ears.

b. Are the rumors true? Tell me all the details; I'm all ears.

New Phrase

A 'Black Swan' is an unexpected event of great magnitude. It can be a sudden natural disaster, or a political event that was not expected.

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Direct download: 5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:51 PM
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This summer I disappeared for a while; you might have noticed(1). I left Wenatchee, with my children, on 22nd of July, and didn't return until 23rd of August(2). We escaped for a whole month! It was a trip that I had planned for a year, and what a trip it was!(3) We went to five places: London, Spain, Yorkshire, Scotland, and Iceland. I feel very privileged to have  traveled so much, and to have done it with my kids. It was very memorable, and inspiring. Before we left, I had been feeling like a deflated balloon, but now that I'm back, I am totally inflated again, full of adventures and things to write about. Probably the place that I found most exciting was Iceland, because I had never been there before. I will certainly write some podcasts about that mysterious country. It made a big impression on me, and I definitely would like to go back. By the last week, my children were moaning(4) to come home and play with their friends. They had had enough(5) of traveling and of being with their mother 24 hours a day! However, I think, for the most part, they had a really good attitude. As we look back at the photos of our trip, they have plenty to say. This photo of London is one of the best that we took. I was so happy to visit all the places that are familiar to me, to walk along the Thames as the sun was going down and the historical buildings were being illuminated. It was the first place we visited, and so I will have several podcasts about that great city for you to listen to soon.

1. 'You might have noticed' is like saying, 'Maybe you noticed.' The meaning is the same. Here are some more examples:

a. Your brother just left; you might have seem him leave.

b. The neighbors were having a party last night; you might have heard the noise.

c. The new teacher arrived today; you might have met him.

2. In this sentence I use the negative. I could have told you about my dates of departure and return positively though: I left on 22nd of July and returned on 23rd of August. So, why did I use the negative? I did it to add to the sense that I was gone for a long time: I didn't return until ..... adds to the idea that I was gone for quite a while. You can use this with the time, as well as with dates.

a. He didn't come home until 11:30pm. (The negative implies that he was late).

b. She didn't renew her driver's license until 10 years after its expiration date!

3. 'What a trip it was!' is an exclamation that needs no adjective, though you can have one in front of the noun if you like.

a. What an exciting trip it was! What a trip it was!

b. What a crazy party it was! What a party it was!

c. What a rude man he is! What a man he is!

4. 'My children were moaning to come home and play with their friends.' To moan is literally to make a complaining noise. We also use the verb to show that a person wants something.

a. He's moaning because he's hungry.

b. They've been moaning all day to go to their friend's house. 

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Direct download: View_London.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:16 PM
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The most delicious smell filled the house yesterday. My son, Cass had made bread. He has made it successfully many times, and I have had to go to the supermarket on many occasions just to get more flour. Of course, when he first started making bread, there were a few disasters. It took a while(1) to teach him to clean up after cooking, and to use the right ingredients and the right method of cooking and baking. However, with practice he has become an expert, and we all look forward to sampling(2) his baked goods. There was something extra special about yesterday's bread though. Cass had actually(3) grown the wheat, harvested it, and made it into flour for the bread. He's a purist, and like me, an avid gardener. He planted the wheat in the autumn, and waited patiently for it to grow. So far this summer, he has been checking it every day. When he saw that it was ready to harvest, he cut it all down, threshed it, and put the grain in a large bag. We have a grinding machine which he used to crush the grain into flour. So he went through the process from the very beginning to the end. He even cleaned the kitchen! It was a labor of love. 

1. 'A while', 'it took a while'. These phrases are commonly used in the same way as 'some time'. It's very non-specific, and good usage.

a. It'll take you a while to get used to those high heels.

b. It took me a while to learn French, several years actually.

c. He has been going to the gym for a while, ten years I think!

2. 'To sample' is to have a little bit of a larger item, often food. However, it can also be non-edible items like perfume, detergent, creams. The verb and noun are also used in science, when tiny pieces of substances are taken to be examined.

a. I sampled some unusual cheeses in the deli.

b. The sunscreen company sent me a sample in the mail.

c. The biologists took samples of the pond water and later examined them in the laboratory.

3. The use of 'actually'. It's a fabulous and common word. Here it's used as emphasis. We do this by putting it in front of the verb.

a. I couldn't believe that the two-year-old actually read the novel!

b. Everyone thought they would lose, but they actually won the race.

c. His friends were supposed to help him, but he actually did all the work himself.

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Direct download: Purist.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08 PM
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Peter: Hi Liz, are you just about ready?

Liz: Yep. Thanks again for giving me a ride. I appreciate all your help.

Peter: Oh, don't mention it. Anything for my friends!

Liz: You're so sweet.

Peter: So, your dad will pick you up at the train station?

Liz: Yes. She'll be in her aerobics class, so she won't know that I'm arriving. We'll pick up three more people, plus the birthday cake, and get back to the house before she comes home. Everyone else will be waiting there.

Peter: Oh, I love surprise parties.

Liz: Me too!

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Direct download: basic_34.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28 PM
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