Fri, 27 November 2009
Black Friday is the name of the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of the month of November, and Black Friday is the following day. It is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Stores open at 5am, and some even open at midnight. Typically, the shops are packed with people. It is a stressful event, and often, in the newspaper the next day there are stories of conflicts and fights. Too many people in a limited space, all trying to get the same cheap products, is a recipe for disaster. But, for a lot of people, it is worth it. They get all of their Christmas shopping done in one day, and, they believe, they save a lot of money. What a good deal! Presents, Christmas cards, wrapping paper, stocking stuffers, and decorations, can all be found and purchased. You have to be a committed shopper to get up early and squeeze through all of the crowded shops, especially after Thanksgiving. After celebrating the night before with friends and family, all the food, and all the clean-up, it is quite exhausting to get up at four thirty in the morning, throw on some jeans, and head out into the frosty darkness. But, every year more and more people do it. You suffer for a day, and then it is over, mission accomplished.
Vocabulary: stocking stuffers, a good deal, crowded, conflict.
Stocking stuffers are the little presents that go in the Christmas stockings.
I bought those jeans at half price. What a good deal!
The shop was so crowded that I could hardly breathe.
I don't like conflict. I avoid it at all costs.
The first time I heard the name 'Black Friday' was a few days ago. I had never heard it before. A friend of mine explained to me that it is the official name for the shopping day after Thanksgiving. When I heard it, I was immediately reminded of 'The Black Death', when Europe suffered the effects of the Black Plague. Well, this is slightly different; okay, it's very different. It is a huge shopping day that designed to move shops financially from being in the red, to being in the black. That means that they will finish the year with a profit, and not a loss. Hence the word 'black'. The name started on the East Coast back in the 1960's in Philadelphia. There would be so much traffic on the streets that the name developed. There are well advertised incentives to bring shoppers in. Two of these are 'doorbuster' deals and 'loss leaders'. A doorbuster deal is a limited amount of very discounted items. After a certain time, the items will return to a regular price. Also a loss leader is a product that the shop sells at a loss in order to encourage shoppers. It could be something like ketchup, mayonnaise, light bulbs, or actually anything. Once the people are inside, they end up buying something else, and that way, the shop makes a profit. These good deals have a negative side to them aswell, though. People can go a bit crazy and get aggressive, even violent. There are cases of fights and even shootings on Black Friday. It's amazing what shopping will do to some people.
Related vocabulary: official, to remind, to suffer the effects, to be in the red/ black.
It's official. The divorce papers were signed yesterday.
That young man reminds me of his grandfather in his looks and actions.
The workers suffered the effects of the polluted air in the factory.
Previously the store was in the black, but this year it is in the red.
Practice of the ordinal adjectives:
First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, nineth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth.
Tue, 24 November 2009
Cold fingers, cold toes, chilly shoulders, and a cold nose. When the weather gets chilly, sometimes you feel as if the inside of your body is as cold as your extremities. Some how, putting on lots of clothes isn't enough. You long to get into a deep, hot bath. That is our plan this Winter. We bought ourselves a very early Christmas present that, I'm sure, we will enjoy for years and years. It's a hot tub. I wasn't familiar with hot tubs until I came to Wenatchee, and got in a few during the first two Winters. That was a long time ago. My first experience was that they were too hot; I couldn't stay in them for very long. However, you can personalize your experience by adjusting the temperature so it is exactly what you want. There is a huge variety of tubs on the market. Some are just like big, hot baths. Others are the Jacuzzi variety that have jets of water for massaging. That is the kind that we bought. My husband tends to get tension in his neck and upper back, so this is the perfect solution. There are other benefits aswell. Our hot tub focuses time on family. The whole family can get in and spend some relaxing time together with no distractions, - no tv, no computers, no video games. You can float around, relax, and chat. Another benefit is being outside and enjoying nature. The first time I got in the tub was at 7am on Saturday. The kids were still asleep, so my husband and I quietly sneaked outside and got in. It was raining softly, there was a little mist over the lawn, and it was perfectly fresh and quiet. Wow. We giggled like children as we sat back and relaxed. This could become a daily habit.
Related vocabulary: to personalize, to adjust, to tend to, a benefit.
He personalized his hat by having his name sewn on it.
I adjusted the oven temperature so the turkey wouldn't burn.
He tends to shout when he speaks, but his wife tends to whisper.
One of the benefits of exercise is improved circulation.
The hot tub that we know today was invented by an Italian family, the Jacuzzis, back in the sixties. They had immigrated to California and were responsible for inventing the first enclosed cabin monoplane. In the fifties, they invented the first hydrotherapy pump which sold to hospitals and schools. As engineering ran in their family, Roy, a third generation family member, invented the whirlpool in 1968. Those clever Italians. But we know that man's knowledge of the healing properties of water dates from pre-history. Early man utilized hot springs and pools. The ancient Egyptians used hot baths for therapy around 2000 BC, and about 600 B.C King Phraortes of ancient Persia built one of the first known hot tubs. Asian cultures from Japan to China celebrate water; the Japanese even have a saying that a person with a mind like water lives in harmony with the universe. The Greeks and Romans were known to place buildings around natural hot springs. In England, in the city of Bath, there are fully functioning Roman baths with multiple hot tubs and bathing areas. Infact, the first whirlpool was named 'Roman'. So, there you have it, lots of facts about the global appreciation of water. So, whether it's for an apres-ski warm-up, or just for relaxation, you can be sure that the hot tub is where you will find me.
Vocabulary and expressions: to be responsible for, enclosed, properties, to utilize.
On this tour, you are responsible for your own safety.
Her rose garden is a beautiful, enclosed, secret place.
One of the properties of milk is calcium.
The solar panels can be utilized every day.
Practice of the preterite:
To build: The Romans built cities all over their empire.
To sell: He sold newspapers on the street for forty(fourty) years.
To say: They said they would meet us at 3pm.
To date: They dated eachother for six months.
To get: It got cold very suddenly last night.
To hold: We held on to the rope for our lives.
Fri, 20 November 2009
We have a mouse in our garage. There might be more than one. The one I have seen is small, grey, and causes a lot of mess. As much as I love animals, I'm afraid we have to put down a mousetrap. My husband bought a box of traps a long time ago, some of which we have used. So, he prepared the trap, put some cheese in it, and put it on the floor of the garage. My youngest son, Robert, wanted to make his own trap. He went into the garage and bashed about for a while, moving things, and arranging his special trap. "Mum, come and see," he said after a few minutes. He had the lid of a metal cage propped up with a stick which was attached to a string. Under the lid was enough bird seed to feed a hundred mice. Ingenious! "I'm just going to wait here until the mouse comes, then I'll pull the string and trap it!" "Okay," I said, and walked back to the kitchen. About ten minutes later he came back into the house to watch cartoons. Waiting for a mouse is not that entertaining.
Related vocabulary and expressions: to prop up, some of which, I'm afraid.
The workmen propped up the fence posts before they secured them.
I bought five pounds of bananas, some of which are ripe and ready to eat.
I'm afraid we will have to cancel the barbecue; there is a storm coming.
The other day, I walked into our garage to put some cardboard boxes in the recycling bins, when I noticed a lot of bird seed on the floor. I looked up on the shelf above, and saw that a big bag of seed that we keep for the birds in the Winter, had a hole in it. As I looked around, I realized that the seed had been spread all over the shelf. This was not a case of an accidental tear in the bag; the hole had been made by an animal, a small one. My husband had warned me that as Autumn turns to Winter, small animals will try and get into the house, and will do so if we leave doors open for too long. This creature must be a mouse, and usually where there is a mouse, there are mice. The little thing must think that he is in heaven. He is in a nice, warm garage, and has a huge bag of bird seed all for himself and his family. My son, Robert, was very excited about seeing the mouse, so I picked him up, and very quietly and slowly walked into the garage, staring at the shelf. And would you know, we saw the little grey mouse running back and forth between the seed bag and a little hole in the wall. Robert and I looked at eachother and grinned with excitement. The mouse actually stood up on its hind legs and looked at us for a few seconds. It looked so tiny and cute. I actually wanted to let it live in the garage for the Winter, but I realize how unsanitary it is. I certainly didn't want to encourage mice to live in our house. That could end up being a real problem.
Vocabulary: a bin, to spread, to tear, unsanitary, hind leg.
A bin is a kind of container for different storage needs.
Don't spread too much jam on your toast.
Be careful that you don't tear your new poster.
This bathroom is really unsanitary. It needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
One of the dog's hind legs is broken. It will have to wear a cast for a while.
Tue, 17 November 2009
I drove around town today, looking for 'Hello Kitty' posters. I couldn't find any. I was so frustrated. I have a project going on at home that I really want to finish. Last week I painted my children's rooms, and now I am looking for accessories like pictures, lamps, and rugs to make the bedrooms comfortable. I don't actually like shopping because most of the time I'm in a hurry. But, I'm making a special effort to get things just right. Robert is into fishing, so I would like to get a poster of someone fly fishing in a mountain stream. My oldest two are into music, architecture, and mythology, so I'm sure there are some interesting elements that I could add to their rooms. Domini's room is actually in need of posters to break up all of the pink of the room. The color I chose is exceptionally pink; a little overpowering. She thinks it's great. It's her 'girly' get-a-way from the boys and their stuff. "No boys allowed," is her rule for her bedroom, and of course the "no girls allowed" rule applies to the other bedrooms. At night, though, when it gets dark, and they know that it's bedtime, you can guarantee that two or three of them will be sleeping in the same bedroom.
Vocabulary: accessories, to be in a hurry, element, a get-a-way.
Those pillows and pictures are perfect accessories for this room.
Gosh, I'm always in a hurry. I feel like a busy mouse!
The marriage scene was a necessary element in the film.
The spa was a perfect weekend get-a-way for both of us.
Don't ask me why I decided to spend a week painting the kids' bedrooms. The project doesn't sound too intimidating does it? Projects never do, though, do they? They just get more involved and trickier as time goes on. In retrospect, I can say that the rooms definitely look better; it was time that they had a fresh coat of paint. However, my back, my hands, and my patience are all the worse for wear. I had originally wanted to present new and improved bedrooms to my kids all at once, which would have meant getting all of the painting and decorating done in one day, - impossible. The 'extreme make-over' programs that we have on television inspired me too much. If I had made over four bedrooms in one day, I would have ended up in hospital! But, my kids know me. They know that I try my best, and they also know to not say anything if I give them 'the look'. You know, the look that means, "I'm exhausted, back off, you don't know what my day has been like, don't even think about moaning or asking me for anything ...etc...etc." Anyone who has had a mother will understand what 'the look' is. But, the worst is over; the work has been done, and is just about finished. I did some touch-ups today, and will probably do more tomorrow to make my little puppies proud.
Common expressions: in retrospect, to be the worse for wear, a fresh coat of paint, new and improved, back off, a touch-up.
In retrospect, we should never have bought that car!
After fixing the appliances in the kitchen, all of my tools were the worse for wear; they were worn out and bent.
You don't need to do much to your new house. A fresh coat of paint is really all it needs.
Behold my new and improved grandma. She's lost thirty pounds, had a facelift, dyed her hair red, and bleached her teeth.
Back off mister! Take one step closer, and I'll call the police!
I touched up the paint in the hall, then I touched up my makeup because I was going on a date.
Thu, 12 November 2009
It's my favorite time of year, Autumn. I love this season so much that I could burst into song about all the colors, the smells, the angle of the sun, the pumpkins etc etc, but I don't want to bore you, plus, I don't sing very well. I will tell you about two great things that you can do with leaves. You can rake together a big pile of leaves and jump into them, with or without friends. Or you can do something a bit more artistic. I did this a few years ago with my kids, and it turned out very well. You find some freshly fallen leaves, some that are quite wide, not skinny. You take them home and lightly wash them. Dry them carefully with a paper towel and leave them on the countertop in the kitchen. In a saucepan, on a very low heat, grate your favorite chocolate. Let it melt a little, then take it off the heat and stir until it is all soft. With your finger, rub a tiny amount of oil on the underside of the leaf, then spread the chocolate. Put the leaves on a plate and pop them into the fridge. After about 20 minutes or half an hour they will be ready. Simply peel off the leaves, and you have a perfect chocolatey replica, great for decorating a cake.
Vocabulary: a pile, to grate, a replica, to rub, to peel.
At work today, I had a huge pile of papers to read. It was so depressing!
Just before you serve the spaghetti, grate the parmesan cheese on top.
My grandma has a replica of the Sphinx in her lounge.
The boy fell out of the tree, and ran home crying and rubbing his elbow.
The mandarin oranges you can buy now are so easy to peel.
The other day I was pulling into the parking lot outside of the local library, when I looked over to the nearby park and saw a lot of activity. There were all sorts of people there, some of them working. It is the middle of Autumn, and you can be sure that anywhere that there are trees, there will be lots of leaves to clean up. The park is one of the oldest in Wenatchee, so the trees are some of the biggest. I got out of the car and walked past a huge pile of leaves.Ooo, it was so tempting to jump in them, but I didn't. There was a loud, whooshing noise in the air; it was the sound of the leaf-blowers. Three men, dressed in brown, were moving slowly through the park, blowing the leaves into piles which were then going to be bagged up and taken away. What would happen if the leaves weren't removed? They would eventually rot, forming a slimey layer on top of the grass. This wouldn't be a problem if they could dry out, crumble, and feed the ground. Soon, you see, we will get snow, and if a thick layer of snow sits on a layer of slimey leaves, the grass underneath will die. So, as part of the local council's cleaning machine, paid for by wonderful tax dollars, the group of happy men, spent the day blowing leaves all over the place.
Vocabulary: tax, council, layer, whoosh, to crumble.
Income tax is going up again. It is getting harder every year for the middle class.
The council has decided to spend more money on local parks.
She made a ten layer chocolate cake. There was cream in between each layer. It was magnificent.
Whoosh! went the rain and wind against the window. It was quite a storm.
Add some blue cheese to the salad. It crumbles easily and so is evenly distributed.
More verbs as adjectives:
The criminal was thrown into the van and taken away.
All the food is ready to be cooked: the potatoes and carrots have been peeled, the turkey has been stuffed, and the gravy has been seasoned.
The lamp post was smashed by the hooligans.
I was blown away by his comments!
The baby was fed, bathed, and dressed by her new nanny.
My neighbor was operated on yesterday.
Tue, 3 November 2009
There are signs of the financial crisis in different parts of the town where I live. We hear on the news about people losing their jobs and their houses. Certain shops have closed, and so the buidings are empty. But, in another way, there is growth in the town. There is a lot of new buildings that are almost finished. Just down the road from my house, a new hotel is almost ready. I drive past it most days when I bring my children home from school, and we comment on the progress. "Hey, mum, they've put in the windows! Cool." They have asked me if we can stay in the hotel one night when it is finished. "But darlings, I don't want to spend two hundred dollars to sleep in a hotel, if our house is just around the corner." I don't think they understand my reasoning. So, in some ways we see the effects of the credit crisis, and in other ways we don't. Other, more industrial parts of the country, have clearer signs of financial problems. Here, we live in a rural community that is actually growing, as more and more people are moving away from Los Angeles and other big cities. When businesses close, it is usually a quiet thing. The people lose their jobs, and the building is emptied. However, there is one business here that is advertising its closing. It is making money out of 'going out of business'.
Related vocabulary: financial, rural, growth, reasoning, progress.
I think he has financial difficulties; he has recently sold his business and his house.
This rural community was established by farmers.
That species of tree has rapid growth. In one year it will grow six feet!
We should finish painting the house, then go on holiday. My reasoning is that we will be able to totally relax after finishing the project. OR
There is no reasoning with him. He won't listen to anyone's opinion!
That little girl has made great progress in mathematics.
A few months ago, while I was driving around, I saw a person next to the main road, holding up a sign that read, "Going out of business. Everything must go!" followed by an address. I wondered if it was a business that I had gone to see a couple of years ago that was supposed to be going out of business. When I had gone in the buiding, which was poorly lit, like an old garage, I was immediately annoyed that I had taken the trip. Why had I bothered? It looked just like a yard sale, with cheap items badly arranged on shelves and on the floor. The advertising had caught my attention and made me curious, so I had taken the time to drive there. But this new 'going out of business' sign must be for a different business. I didn't think anything else about it, until, a couple of months ago, I saw the same sign, held up by a pretty young woman in the center of town. "Well, they haven't gone out of business yet!" I said to myself. Then, just a couple of days ago, another man, quite close to our street, was waving a sign that said the same thing. I wondered what the other passersby thought. Are they curious about the business? Will they be encouraged to go and find a bargain? And, more importantly, is the business going to close or not? I have a feeling that someone is making good money by pretending to be broke.
Related vocabulary: to arrange, shelves, a couple of, a passerby.
Use of the past participle as an adjective.
The lady took a long time to arrange the flowers in the vase.
The shelves in the supermarket were nearly bare.
A couple of months ago we bought a sofa. It wasn't delivered until a couple of days ago.
As I drank my coffee in the cafe, I watched the passersby outside.
The medal was presented to the first place athlete.
The swimming pool wasn't finished in time for the summer.
The egyptian tomb was emptied of its treasures.
The building is being meticulously planned.
The statue will be designed with national hero in mind.