Fri, 25 May 2012
I came across some interesting information the other day, bizarre information, crazy information, that has led me on a journey of discovery. I was watching one of my sons run during a track meet (1). There were six middle schools all competing in the various track events, and the place was packed. I sat in the middle of the large crowd of parents who had come to cheer on (2) their children. A lady who I knew was talking to me about children growing up, entering high school, and applying for scholarships. “My oldest is a few years away from all of that,” I said. “But still (3), I should probably start looking into (4) scholarships.” She told me that she had already done so, as her son is older than mine. “There are all kinds of private scholarship funds out there. You won't believe it. There's even one for being blonde!” There was a long pause, as I frowned and thought about what she had said. “For being blonde?” I asked in disbelief(5). So many questions rushed into my head. “How blonde do you have to be?” “Could I bleach (6) my hair blonde to get a scholarship?” “And who decides if you qualify? Does a little old lady with a huge Madonna wig come to your house and check-out your hair?” This couldn't be true, I decided. How ridiculous. But, my friend told me that lots of rich individuals will leave money for people who have certain qualities. I had to investigate. So, back at home, I did some research on the internet. I came across a website called '45 of the weirdest college scholarships'. Well, I didn't find any scholarships for being blonde, even though there were many searches for 'scholarships for blondes'. But I did find a lot of other bizarre ones: if you are a male over 6' 2'' or a female over 5'10'', you could qualify for $1000 by writing an essay entitled 'What being tall means to me.' If you're a nudist, a vegetarian, if you wish to study fungi, if you enjoy duck calling, or if you like to watch the series 'Star Trek', then you can get money for college! Or if you can predict the future, play the bagpipes, or can design clothes for the prom (7) out of duct tape (sticky tape), then you are also eligible (8) for money. If only I had known about all of this 20 years ago! I could have joined all of those groups, and got a PhD for free! I could have been a duck calling, bagpipe playing, fungi studying, future predicting nudist vegetarian (well, perhaps not the nudist part) who could predict her own shining educational future..... and not even have to change from a brunette to a blonde.
1. 'Track' has several meanings. It can mean a small path created by man or animals. It can mean 'to follow', or it is a noun meaning the sporting events that are running based.
a. My son competed in the running long jump and did quite well.
b. The mile run was the last event in the track meet.
2. 'To cheer on' can also be expressed as 'to cheer for'. The first expression implies encouraging someone in their event, the second implies supporting an individual or group.
a. As the athletes ran, we cheered them on.
b. Though he was last, we cheered him on, and tried to encourage him to go faster.
3. 'But still' is often used like 'however' when you are using 2 slightly contrasting ideas.
a. They won't arrive until later, but still we should get the house ready now.
b. We have plenty of food in the fridge, but still we shouldn't be wasteful.
4. 'To look into' can mean to investigate.
a. We looked into getting a loan, but we didn't qualify.
b. They looked into scholarships and found one for bald people!
5. 'Disbelief' means 'not believing' and is usually preceded by 'in' or 'with'.
a. I looked at him in disbelief; I couldn't believe what he had just said.
b. He put his hand to his mouth in disbelief when he saw how beautiful she looked.
6. 'Bleach' is a powerful chemical cleaner that is used to remove color from hair. It can be used as a verb sometimes.
a. I used some bleach to clean out the garbage can. That should clean it!
b. The sun has bleached our patio chairs; they look so pale now!
7. The 'Prom' is a very important dance at High School.
a. Are you going to ask someone to go to the Prom with you?
b. Their Prom costume is very elegant, but if you look closely, you can see that it is made of duct tape!
8. 'Eligible' is when you satisfy characteristics for something, it could be age, gender, ethnicity, background etc.
a. He wants to run for President of the Student Body, but he is too young; he's not eligible.
b. At 65 years of age, you're eligible for a pension.
Mon, 21 May 2012
Recently I've had the strangest feeling when I've been alone at home. My husband is at work, and my children are at school, so I should be alone. I don't hear footsteps(1), or anyone moving around in the house. I don't hear talking or breathing in any of the rooms. But I sense that someone else is in the house, or something else. When I'm upstairs, folding laundry in the laundry room, I feel it less. But as I walk downstairs, I become aware(2)of a presence, gradually with each step. As I write this, I'm in the living room, where the feeling is strongest. It reminds(3) me of when I was a girl, and I would stare up at the ceiling at night, in my room, in the darkness. My imagination would make me see all sorts of things up there, or coming out of the walls. Shadows of toys would become people or creatures, fairies and figures. So, here I sit, and it feels as if a pair of (4)eyes is watching me. Something has made its place in here, silently. And, as I sit here writing, I can feel that it is directly above me. Should I turn and look? Am I brave enough to reach out to touch it? Yes, I will. And I do. My fingers immediately feel something very large, cool, and smooth. The more I touch, the bigger it appears. It's body goes up and up. It feels strong, and what's that? It's not skin, but fur(5), and lots of it. In fact, it's completely covered in fur. Up my hand goes to its face. A long snout, and big bulging eyes, those eyes that never close. I feel a small forehead. This creature has a small brain for such a big, strong body. Large, hairy ears are alert at the sides of the head, listening for danger. This creature is wanted. This creature was wanted. Its powerful legs weren't enough for it to get away. It was wanted for its crown; and what a magnificent crown it is, unique, impressive, a crown of battle. It was a guardian(6) of the forest. And now it is here, still a guardian, quiet, watchful, always alert. It was barely seen among the trees, a passing shadow. And here, it's barely noticed, until you are alone. Then, you hear a whisper from the forest, you read its story in its eyes, and you feel the glory of its crown.
Mon, 14 May 2012
There is a festival in this town that brings in thousands of visitors, and livens(1) the valley for over a week. It's called Apple Blossom. By the name, you can tell that it coincides with the blossoming of the many apple trees that grow here. The weather is still playing a tug-of-war(2) between cold, windy days, and hot ones, but usually, by Apple Blossom, the sun is winning. For a few weeks leading up to the festival, groups of people are busy building floats that have varying(3) themes. There is always one for the three Apple Blossom princesses who have been elected by the local high schools. Their float is often something to do with Spring, or flowers. They stand and wave and look pretty; it must be a very hard job. And then there are all the floats of schools, sports groups, charities, and some businesses. If you are involved in one of these organizations, you have the opportunity to walk next to the float. My daughter, who does gymnastics, was chosen with her friends to hold the sign of the gymnastics group, while other girls and boys did cartwheels(4) and flips all along the road. I walked with the proud parents and handed out water bottles. It was very exciting. I was tempted to do a flip, just like the children were doing. But then I realized that if I did do one, it would be the very last thing that I ever did. So, I took photographs instead. I waved a little, trying to mimic(5) the princesses (my wave was better than theirs). A few people I knew were standing along the road; they called to me and waved. I began to feel famous. In fact, other people waved enthusiastically and called to me, “Oh hi there..” but then used a name like Angela, or Rebecca, or Mary. But I was caught up in the enthusiasm, so I waved back and smiled. What lovely confusion! The parade was a big event. There were bands and schools from all over the state, and visitors from Japan. A carnival had been set up down by the river, and a food fare was crammed(6) into one of the down town parks. There are so many people in the center of town for the parade that it's impossible to find parking close by, so you need to park far away on a street in the residential area. Our parade finished, we rested and had icecream, and then Domini and I had a long, hot hike back to the car.
Thu, 3 May 2012
I was fortunate enough (1)the other day to go on a field trip with the school that my son attends. As his school doesn't have a bus, parent volunteers are needed to transport the kids here and there. I am one of them, and, you know, I benefit from volunteering in many ways. That particular day, I learned a lot about the Wenatchi Indians, and the pioneer days of this area. We visited a museum in the town of Cashmere which is about eight miles from here. It's a small building, but jam packed(2) with artifacts and donations. I had been to the museum before, but this time, we had a very knowledgeable (3)guide who happened to be a Native American Indian. As time went on, and he took us from one display area to another, I began to realize that he had deep knowledge and deep personal interest in the museum. He was half Cherokee and half Sioux, and knew not only about those Indian nations, but also a lot about the Wenatchi nation. He told us that the baskets that were made by Wenatchi women are worth thousands of dollars. He went into detail, telling us how they would gather(4) the grasses, chew them, dye them with berry juice, and then weave them. These baskets were made so well, that they could carry water. In fact, the Wenatchis would boil water in the baskets by placing boiling hot stones from a fire inside a basket full of water. That kind of information, and many other things that I learned, gave me new respect for the history of this local area. Then, we moved to the outside area of the museum where there's a collection of original pioneer (5)homes. There was a home, a jail, a hat shop, a print shop, a school, and a hotel. My son's class loved the school. It was obviously very basic, all wood, dark, it had a stove, small chalk boards for the students, and a metal bucket that everyone drank out of. The guide told us that school was only available for a few months a year; during Winter it was too cold, and, as all the children helped to farm, they couldn't go to school during planting or harvest seasons either. My son thought that that (6)was great, “Only a few months of school? Awesome!” he said. If children could basically learn to read and write, and do a little mathematics, then the main goal was accomplished. Their lives were agricultural and they were hard working, so school was considered a luxury. How different it is today!
5.'Pioneer' means the first person to do something, or to settle somewhere.
a. The pioneers in this area were the first Europeans to settle and farm here.
b. Santiago Ramon y Cajal was the great pioneer in the field of neurobiology.