Tue, 31 January 2012
I haven't ever had a reason to visit a podiatrist (which is what we call a foot doctor), until recently. I don't have any problem with my feet, thankfully. I suppose, over the years, the shoes that I have worn have been good enough to keep me out of the clinics. My feet rarely complain, so I ignore them most of the time. However, my son Cass, who is twelve, has been complaining for a while of heel, ankle, and arch pain. I reasoned that he is growing fast at this stage, and that growing pains of all sorts are quite common. He does play a lot of sports, and so, any problem or tenderness* can get worse. As he practices basketball twice a week, and has to do lots of running, I researched a little on the internet the ways I could ease his pains. You know I love to Google; well, I also love to find tutorials on You-tube. It's a wealth of information! In an instant, I found a video clip that demonstrates how to wrap your feet before you take part in any sporting activity. It was surprisingly simple, and really made sense. It started by showing a 3-D image of the inside of a foot. I thought it looked freaky!* The visual* made it very clear how the foot works, and why a person might experience pain. So, I wrapped Cass's feet, and he told me after practice that it had really helped. I also made an appointment for him to see a podiatrist. It was just a few days later that we went to see Dr. Hoover, a softly spoken, straightforward man. After looking at Cass' feet and his shoes, he came to the conclusion that stress from sports, and the wrong shoes, have brought about the problem. Cass normally wears Adidas shoes. They are fine for walking, but they don't provide a lot of arch support, and the basketball shoes bend in the wrong place. Apparently, a good sports shoe bends where your foot does, basically at the toe area. If it bends in the middle, it puts stress on the joint that we have in the middle of our foot, because this joint is very limited, and is not supposed to move much at all. So, after he gave us a brief lesson on how the foot works, and a list of recommended* shoes and shoe inserts*, Cass had an xray. It turns out that he has normal feet, and just needs some good support during sports. That was a relief for me; I didn't have to worry about anything serious. The next day I bought him two kinds of inserts, and different basketball shoes. These things have made all the difference. He's much happier now after practice, and no longer has stiff, tender feet in the morning. How wonderful that we have such quick access to information that can educate us, and help us avoid making mistakes with our health.
Related vocabulary:tenderness, freaky, a visual, recommended:
1. When a part of your body is injured, the area around the injury can feel tender, sensitive to pain.
2. That Halloween costume is freaky! It's one of the wierdest and scariest I've seen.
3. It's much easier to study if you have a visual, because, as Shakespeare said, "A picture paints a thousand words."
4. That hotel is recommended; it has everything we need. However, the one next door isn't recommended at all.
*JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK, AT Anna from A cup of English.
Sat, 28 January 2012
It was Friday night, and we had tickets for a special event. Our local Town Toyota Center was going to host a dirtbike show. We had six tickets, so there were enough for me, the kids, and my brother. I had never been to a dirt bike night at the arena, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But I do like motorbikes; I took a riding course many years ago, and my husband had several, so they are an area of interest for me. We had been told that a company in town had been asked to bring in ton(nes) of earth (soil) to make a course for the bikes. "That must mean that there are some jumps!" I said to my kids, who got very excited at the thought of it. And there certainly was a lot of earth. The view from our box showed a racing course that was made entirely of soil, with about seven hills for jumping. The arena slowly filled with spectators, while a giant monster truck revved* its engine, and gave people a short ride, forwards and backwards along the length of the course. It was an enormous vehicle that was perfect for the show, but I can't imagine using it in day to day life; it wouldn't fit anywhere. The announcer stepped forward, introduced himself and the sponsors of the show, and then called forward the first set of *bikers. They were semi-professional, looked like they were in their mid twenties, and they were all riding three to four hundred cc bikes. Ten of them lined up and revved their engines. There would be money for the winner, and you could tell that they were eager.*The flag signalled go, the line dropped, and they were off with a loud, drilling machine noise from their engines, and soil flying from their back tires. They rounded the corner, and came up to the a set of bumps in the course. They had to slow down substantially to get over them without falling off. Then there was another sharper bend, and two large jumps. One by one, they flew through the air, their colors blurring* with their speed. Two more lengths of the course and they were finished with the first round. Five rounds in total and they finished. One lucky one received five hundred dollars, but the rest went home empty-handed. There followed about nine more performances from different age groups and categories, ranging from five year olds (believe it or not), to professionals. Funnily enough, the shortest session, was that of the over fourties category. They looked heavier than the first lot, but just as enthusiastic. However, when they rounded the first corner, three of them fell over, two quite badly, and that was the end of that! Two of them limped off, injured, and none of the others completed the course. My brother and I looked at eachother and shook our heads. We're both in our fourties, and we both understand that people our age don't bounce like rubber anymore. Well, by the time each category had run the course, the arena was full of exhaust fumes, and we were more than ready to go home. It had been entertaining, though quite noisy. Actually, the noisiest part was the announcer, who felt like he had to shout through the entire evening for some reason. I was glad to get in my car, in the relative quiet, and drive easily and safely home, no bumps, and no falls.
Related vocabulary and expressions: a set of, eager, blurry, to rev the engine.
1. I bought a set of storage boxes and a set of flower pots that were on sale.
2. After swimming in the sea, my eyes were all blurry; I couldn't see clearly at all.
3. My neighbor was making such a noise revving his engine; does he think that he's a race car driver?
Wed, 25 January 2012
Here at last.
There has been a scraping sound in Wenatchee for about a week. It's the sound of snow shovels. Finally, the snow is here. And there isn't just a little of it. Out of the blue*, a storm moved in, just as we were getting used to a snowless Winter. It took us all by surprise*, and it has had its usual impact on everything. Our lives have adjusted by becoming slower. You can't rush around if you are walking or driving on snow and ice. You can't afford* to be a little late, because by the time you get to where you planned on going, you will be very, very late. One of my kids told me yesterday, that one of her classmates was late for school because her front and back doors were frozen shut! There are inconveniences everywhere, and you just have to get used to them. On my way to the grocery store, there was a hold up* in the traffic. One car had slid into the snow bank that was in the middle of the road. It was stuck, and sticking out*, right in the way of the traffic. People were looking out of their windows, honking their horns, and generally looking impatient. Finally, a hero turned up to rescue the stranded person. It was a policeman. He walked slowly over to the stranded driver who was desperately spinning his wheels, assessed the situation*, got back in his car, and literally pushed the car out of the way with his police car. It worked; problem solved. One thing about living in this area is that you become more flexible in the Winter. I think you become more understanding. Everyone has things to do; we are all in a hurry, but there is a white obstacle out there, in the streets and driveways, that slows us all down, and sometimes causes accidents. So what does all of this mean? It means we have to be more thoughtful. One of our neighbor's boys cleared the snow from my friend's driveway because she's in her late seventies, and lives alone. You'll often see people snow blow their own driveways and walkways, and then continue on to the neighbor's. I'll be going over to my mother's house today to clear her walkway while she's at work because she's terrified of slipping and falling. To avoid an accident, she wears attachable*, rubber crampons, believe it or not. They keep her stable and safe. Whoever sells those should be making some good money this time of year.
Related vocabulary and expressions: out of the blue, to be taken by surprise, you can't afford to, to stick out.
Thu, 12 January 2012
Something has grown in my mother's kitchen this Winter. It is tall, beautiful, and bright red. If you're in the room, you can't help but * look at it. It's an amaryllis. It was given to her as a Christmas present, and she has been growing it from a bulb since then. They are originally from South Africa, a member of the lily family. As there are no plants growing here in the Winter, it is common to give the gift of an amaryllis bulb in a pretty pot, as a plant to be grown inside the house. Once planted, it will quickly grow tall, and produce a stunning flower. It's the kind of plant that you want to photograph up close. Its stamen are a contrasting yellow, and hold a lot of pollen. It's similar to some of the orchids that my mother has grown through the years; they also have a very fleshy*, waxy feel to them, and have very rich colors. The other day when I visited her, I was reminded that I also have bulbs at home that need to be planted. Actually, in the Autumn, I bought three bags of bulbs, to be planted that season in the garden. Let's just say that I put them 'out of sight'*, and they are still in the bags. They have actually started to sprout, even though they are not in soil. Apparently, even though I missed the season, I can still plant them in pots and keep them in the house where they will slowly grow. Then, in the Spring, I can transplant them outside. It's a bit like the potatoes that I buy for making chips, baked potatoes or mashed potatoes. If don't use them in time, they will have sprouted all sorts of roots and become inedible. Plants are programmed to grow, and they will do it, whether or not we are taking care of them. A friend of mine told me that one year she planted too many zucchini plants (they are also called courgets). They had a car parked next to the vegetable patch that was not used much. Before anyone knew it*, the zucchini vine had grown all over and inside the car! All this talk of plants is making me yearn* for the Spring. First things first though; I need to find those bags of bulbs and get them planted!
Related vocabulary: you can't help but..., fleshy, out of sight, before you know it.
1. You can't help but admire him. Everybody thinks he is brilliant.
2. These apricots are so fleshy. They have a lot of body, and are filling.
3. He didn't really clean the houe. He just put everything away, out of sight, in the cupboard.
4. You'll have a child, and, before you know it, he will have grown, and will be leaving for college.
Wed, 11 January 2012
It's been such a mild Winter. There has been no sign of snow for weeks and weeks, which is very odd. Christmas didn't feel very Christmasy because of it. But there is an up side* to this strange weather. Everyone has been able to go for walks. Normally, when there is so much snow and ice around, you don't see people walking on the street at all. They stay in their cars, nice and warm, if they want to go anywhere. But this year, people are still walking and jogging on the streets. The parks are almost as busy with people as they are in the Spring or Autumn. Walking in the countryside is something that I love to do. It gets the heart pumping, the circulation going*, and clears the mind. So, a couple of days ago, my brother and I went up into the hills that are nearby. We followed a road called Horselake, up to a rough, primitive road, that took us winding up, away from the town. It was a cold day, with mist sitting on the tops of the hills. The grasses and bushes up there were all different hues* of brown, blonde, and pale greens, - very gentle on the eyes. We were hoping to see some wildlife: perhaps a coyote, or a deer. My brother noticed all kinds of foot prints in the mud. Some were definitely those of dogs, but a few looked as though they could have been cougar prints. We do have them in the area; we've even had a couple in town in recent years. Yikes!* I don't like the sound of that! Well, we walked upwards, following a ridge. On one side of it we could see a valley with the Wenatchee river cutting through it, and on the other side, a steep slope down into a ravine*. It was hard work, but worth it. The view was great. We ended up walking down onto the road because from there, we could access some sandstone caves. I had been up this way before, but had never seen the caves. They blend into the side of the hill, so they are very hard to see. We scrambled* down to reach them, and then spent some time exploring. It was fun. It reminded me of rock climbing in England when I was young, though I'm not as brave now as I was then. We crawled up to the biggest ones, and took photos, and looked for signs of animals. The wind and water had carved out fascinating shapes, mini bridges and arches, and little places that would be perfect for small animals. There was evidence of birds staying there: droppings*. After taking photos and having a good look around, we headed back to the car. There was still no sign of coyotes, but, then again, they are very smart animals, and had probably been observing us the whole time.
Related vocabulary: an up side to something, get the circulation going, a hue, yikes.
1. This weather is terribly wet. Mind you, the up side is that the garden is getting plenty of water.
2. That aerobics class is hard. It really gets the circulation in the body going.
3. She painted her whole house in different hues of yellow.
4. Yikes! I wouldn't want to hold that rattlesnake!
Sun, 1 January 2012
There was a special day to celebrate, back in November. A friend of mine was graduating from a nursing program(me) which she had been in for two years. Normally, as a young student, two years of study isn't that much. However, she is in her forties, married, and has two boys, so it was quite a challenge. Mijung, is my very good friend from Korea. We have known eachother for about seven years. Infact, our boys went to the same preschool, and it was there that we met eachother. We got together once after preschool and had lunch while the children played, and our friendship took off* from there. Mijung is both compassionate and intelligent, so I think that she has the right qualities to make an effective nurse. I actually haven't seen her much for the past two years because of her busy schedule*. Knowing how much effort she had put into her studies, and how difficult it had been to maintain a balance between studying full time, and also having a family, I was determined to go to her graduation ceremony to show my support. It took place in the gymnasium of the college that she studied at, here in Wenatchee. By the time I found a parking spot and ran into the building, it was packed with people, and the teachers were giving their speeches. It was warm in the gym. Families, dressed elegantly, were sitting in groups, holding flowers, and looking very proud. There was a surprisingly large number of children running around (girls in pretty dresses, boys in smart suits) unaware of the formality* of the occasion. They must have enjoyed the spacious feel of the room, and the shiny floors. A few mothers got up and told their kids not to roll around on the floor, and they did their best to wipe off their children's now not-so-clean clothes. Finally, the time came to give out the graduation badges. I took off my coat, got out my camera, and squeezed past* a few people so I could see my friend clearly enough to take a good photo. "We will hand out the badges in alphabetical order," announced the speaker. "Oh, great! Mijung's last name begins with 'W'; I'm going to be waiting for a while," I thought to myself. It was a school day, and I had just over an hour before having to pick the kids up. The graduates approached the podium* to say a few words and receive their badges. Most of them were tearful and happy; they thanked their family members for supporting them, and those with children said a big thankyou for everyone's patience. I actually grew impatient, listening to all of the mini-speeches. I didn't want to leave without seeing Mijung. I couldn't quite get to the perfect spot to photograph her: if I moved to the left, a flower arrangement blocked her face. If I moved to the right the podium was in the way. Finally, a little frustrated, I just walked out in front of the first row of seats and started to take pictures. Her name was called. She got up quickly and joined her family at the podium. She hugged her family and everyone applauded. She was one of the few students who received the extra honor of graduating with straight 'A's': Magna cum laude, I think it's called. During the applause, I managed to catch Mijung's eye, and I waved and blew her a kiss. What an accomplishment! She deserves to feel proud. I'm sure she'll make a positive impact on people who need physical help. It was such a happy moment for so many students. Even the very young children who were running around and sliding on the floor, clapped as if they knew what was going on. I checked my watch, and I was glad that I did, because I only had five minutes left before I had to leave. I fumbled* to get my camera back in the bag, I quickly handed a present for Mijung to her husband, and waved goodbye.
Related vocabulary:to take off, busy schedule, formality, to squeeze (past)
1. The business took off as soon as it opened. It has done really well since then.
2. I have to change my busy schedule; it's too much. I'm so busy that it's not even practical!
3. You must understand the formality of the occasion; the correct dress and etiquette should be used.
4. She squeezed through the crowd to get a better look at the pop singer.