English practice for beginners and advanced, that will inspire and refresh the anxious language student. Download the text and grammar notes for a complete language experience. You really can learn English well with this clearly spoken and delightful course.
Ten Thousand Dahlias.
"I had no idea that there are so many!" I said to the lady in the garden who was busy cutting off dry flower heads. "Oh yes!" she said excitedly. "There are at least 10,000 kinds of dahlias now, and new varieties are found each year," her wide eyes showed her enthusiasm. I had walked past the rows of dahlias earlier as I had hurried into the clinic without paying much attention. However, when I was walking back to my car, checking my phone messages, the kaleidoscope of colors caught my eye. I had to have a look. The look was more like a long, satisfying gaze. I walked slowly up and down each aisle, shaking my head in wonderment at how many varieties of the same flower were all in one place. And such unexpected petal shapes! Some flower heads were like huge dinner plates in size and full of frilly, rolled up petals. Others had the quintessential daisy look: seven or nine oval petals, but painted masterfully with colors blending into eachother. The pistils, or centers, were like bright a
18/09/2023 • 4 minutes 33 seconds
Shocking isn't it? If you can see this photo, I'm sure you will be thinking, "What a mess! What has Anna been up to?" It's renovation time, people. Everything is becoming new! Well, I have quite a long way to go, actually. My two bedroom condo is being transformed into a four bedroom one. Now how could I do that with a little condominium, you might ask? My answer is: "With the help of an architect, an engineer, and some very skilled builders, electricians, plumbers, and carpenters." Honestly, there are some very talented people involved in this relatively little project. When I say relatively, I am talking about the overall size of the place. With the help of some friends, I have managed to strip the place down to its bare bones: no sheet rock, just the wood that is holding up the roof! It has been a fun but dusty, messy time of smashing and crashing, and then throwing everything into the back patio. Thankfully, most of the demolition is over. Now comes the reshaping of the place. My p
13/08/2023 • 4 minutes 44 seconds
A Winter Return.
As I looked out of the kitchen window this morning, I was shocked but partly pleased to see a sheet of ice on the entryway to the back door. I say 'shocked' because the rain and warmer temperatures of last night were supposed to have melted the existing heavy snow and ice. The reason I was pleased, though it sounds silly, was that the ice was quite beautiful. It formed a quintessential, frosty, crystal pattern across the ground. My hope is that that beauty will soon melt away so I don't have to worry about slipping on the way to work! You have probably heard the news about the arctic blast the US has received recently. Even places like Florida and Texas have been hit. So what happened this year to make the usual winter weather so much worse? Apparently, frigid air from the North, the Arctic, expanded and moved southward because of air currents. It's what is called a Polar Vortex that has spread. I can only imagine what some people are having to deal with at the moment. I am very fortun
28/12/2022 • 4 minutes 41 seconds
An Inspiring Day Out.
A week ago I went on a drive to explore an area of Eastern Washington that I'm not familiar with at all. It was the rolling countryside north of where I live, near the little town of Manson. The geography here is dry like Wenatchee, but lower, wider, and full of rolling hills. These stretch miles into the distance towards the East. It seems like a very rural, mainly uninhabited area, but actually, as you explore, you quickly realize that there are houses even in the most remote looking areas, little pockets of human life here and there. I think that they type of people who live in these areas are either retired, work remotely from home, or really need the peace and energy that the quiet countryside can give. Driving up a lonely, winding road, suddenly there was a flash of color above that passed over the car. Of all things it was a peacock. What on earth was it doing in this remote area. It seemed really out of place. It flew from one side of the road to the hill on the other, joining
30/03/2022 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
The New York City Marathon.
Hello happy podcast listeners, I've missed you! However, I have resurfaced, as I have done in the past, with exciting news. I am going to run the New York City Marathon in November. I am both nervous and excited. I'm not actually a long distance runner; this is a new endeavor. I used to sprint, which means fast, short runs. At this point in my life, though, I would like to attempt something very special, and the New York Marathon is definitely that. It happens to be the 50th anniversary of the run, so the size and atmosphere of the race will be above average. It's a bucket list item, you could say. I am hoping that my 50 year old joints will cope with the impact of running 26 miles, especially as I have a little hip injury. So wish me luck while I get prepared. If any of you run, I would love to hear some good advice; I am all ears! One other reason why I am very excited about participating in this historical event, is that I'm doing it to raise money for The World Wild Life Fund. This
29/10/2021 • 5 minutes 8 seconds
A Lunch Break.
What do you do on your lunch break? Some people barely have one; they have to quickly grab a snack, eat for a few minutes, and then continue working. This summer, as my teaching job is over, I have been working as a medical interpreter in a local hospital, in rehab. I love it there. This job is such a contrast to teaching, and, of course, the environment is completely different! The day is divided up into 45 minute blocks of time when different therapists each visit the patients and work with them. Some of these patients only speak Spanish, so that is where I come in. I'm the interpreter in the middle, trying to be as accurate as possible. Most of these patients are recent stroke victims. Our task is to get their mobility and speech back to as normal as possible. The encouraging thing about the rehab department is that we see tremendous recovery every day. But the work is intense, even the interpreting. So a good lunch break is welcome, believe me. Thankfully, I have an hour! The hospi
19/07/2021 • 3 minutes 54 seconds
A vaccination for teachers.
Since my last podcast, I have started working full-time at a middle school. I am an eighth grade ELA and Social Studies teacher. ELA means English Language Arts, and is basically all about essay writing and critical thinking. Of course I feel very privileged to have this job, especially (1)in this climate of high unemployment! It's not (2)all smooth sailing, however. The hybrid system of teaching in person part of the time and via zoom the rest of the time is still evolving, so the curriculum is something we are having to develop from week to week. This might not sound like a problem, but, believe me it is a real headache. Also, we only have half of the students in school at a time. I cannot complain, though. (3)I am more than happy to be back in a teaching environment, and am slowly bonding with the students. There is talk now about the whole student body coming back to school full-time. We will find out in a week or two if that will happen. It seems that, as more people are vaccinat
04/04/2021 • 8 minutes 31 seconds
Frost and flowers.
Winter is a special time. I suppose all of the seasons are. I find winter to be a struggle with disappointment which is relieved by exciting and meaningful moments. The main reason for this is the climate I live in. Wenatchee is a semi-desert region, so it is very dry. However, in the winter we get a lot of snow. The surrounding mountains give us the opportunity to play! Skiing it all its variety is available, and many people take advantage of it. I, at the moment, am really enjoying skate skiing. I plan to do some downhill skiing as well, that is, if I can find the time. So what did I mean when I said that winter is a struggle with disappointment? Well, sometimes there is no snow, and therefore no skiing. At times, we just get the cold, dreary, grey weather, and none of the white, fun stuff. When it does fall from the sky, however, it is magical. It transforms everything that you see outside into another world. The celebrations during winter also create moments that are very special.
29/01/2021 • 5 minutes 2 seconds
The frosty days of early winter are here, so most people are staying indoors. Covid, of course, has made that worse. However, everywhere I see people making an effort to get out of doors at some point so they can exercise. Our days are short now: at five o'clock it is dark. So, if you want to exercise in the daylight, you need to go earlier in the day, otherwise you won't get any rays at all! For a few days, I got up and actually went for a run. Now, that sounds impressive. It wasn't. I basically managed about twenty minutes to half an hour around the nearby neighborhoods. I felt great afterwards! As I stretched my hips and thighs I felt very proud of myself for doing something so crazy, especially as the mornings were frosty. There were other benefits that I found from jogging as well. I discovered a couple of lovely streets: Dogwood lane, and Castleview drive. These are very neat, elegant residential areas that have attractive homes, nice front yards, and mature trees. No all streets
07/12/2020 • 4 minutes 36 seconds
Saddle rock is the name of one of the hills that overlooks Wenatchee. It's name comes from the fact that, from a distance, it looks like a horse's saddle. It is a popular hike for locals and visitors, and offers a wonderful view of the town, and the Columbia river flowing down from the North. I hiked up to its rocky crown a week ago, and sat for a while taking in the view. I only saw one other person, a lady hiking down the very steep trail, trying not to fall. The soil is loose and sandy, so it is easy to slip and slide(1), particularly when you are coming downhill. It's quite magical when you have the whole trail to yourself; it's as if it belongs to you. The Saturday that I hiked it was a perfectly still, autumn day at first. As I got to the top, the weather changed, the clouds moved, and I got rained on. By then, I was hot from the uphill (2)walk, so the rain didn't bother me at all; it was quite refreshing. The local authorities maintain the trails each year by fixing any erosion.
20/10/2020 • 10 minutes 19 seconds
Nurse's Assistant Clinicals.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish my nurse's assistant training this summer because of Covid. The last part of the course was going to be 40 hours of work in a care center for the elderly in the little town of Cashmere. "How am I going to finish my course?" was really on my mind. A few weeks ago, however, I received an email from our teacher telling us that there was no more Covid in the center, and that we could go there to do our clinicals. We were assigned in pairs to work with one particular patient, to help in any and every way needed. The first morning, when I arrived at 5:55am, I was nervous and excited. I am not from the medical field, so this was all going to be new for me. Our teacher showed us around, gave us as much advice as we needed, I think, and let us get to work. My partner and I were assigned to a lady I will call 'J'. She had several chronic illnesses and required total care. She could feed herself, but other than that, the rest was up to us. Our duties in
09/09/2020 • 10 minutes 41 seconds
Washington State Bird.
The Goldfinch is the Washington State bird. I learned this from my enthusiastic mother-in-law, who was trying to encourage me to get a specific birdfeeder. She has one that attracts mainly Goldfinches, and has spent many hours sitting and watching these yellow, social animals fly in and out of the area, fighting for a space on the birdfeeder. I didn't buy the bird feeder, but Margo turned up one day with it in hand, as well as a bag of seeds, and a laminated poster about Washington State birds. She was obviously adamant that(1) we have all the equipment. The birdfeeder is just outside of the kitchen window next to some trees. We have another one a few feet away for the general population, and a hummingbird feeder next to the sunnier side of our deck. So we are all set up to birdwatch! Well, you know what happens when you're ready to photograph animals, - nothing. Days went by and I didn't see a bird at all anywhere near the feeder. It wasn't until Margo came by several days later, that
20/08/2020 • 11 minutes 26 seconds
Assistant Nurse's Training.
I've been busy for a few weeks, as you might have noticed. I didn't mean to abandon you, but I had to for a short while. As you can see from the photo, I have been spending time with a boney friend. He has helped me learn about the body, and understand more about all of the body systems. I was really ignorant about these before I started the Nurse's Assistant course. I went to the local college for about a month, twice a week, to practice serving ill and elderly people. The other days of the week, we had classes via Zoom, to keep a social distance. It all worked very smoothly, and I believe we all passed. However, we were supposed to have two weeks of clinicals in a local retirement center, to get real, practical experience of working with patients. The Coronavirus interrupted that, unfortunately. As many residents suddenly got infected, the clinicals were postponed. Never mind! Washington State government is allowing us to do our clinicals while we work, that is(1), if we manage to ge
02/08/2020 • 12 minutes 8 seconds
Spring is notorious(1) for changeable weather. Over the past month that is certainly what we have been experiencing. We have had hot, still days, rainy, cool ones, and even a huge wind storm. It's the latter(2) that is worth writing about because it caused so much destruction! It happened in the evening when I had gone out with my husband to a friend's house. He and his wife happen to live on a hillside that overlooks the town. It is a great spot to sit and enjoy the view while having a beer or a glass of wine. We all knew that a storm had been forecast, so we decided to remain outside for as long as possible to watch it pass over the valley. Normally, here, storms involve thunder and lightening, so that is what we were expecting. As we talked, the wind picked up. It plummeted(3) down the hill, thrashing the trees around, and pounded against the windows. We could see that no one was outside in the valley; that would have been unsafe. And the storm went on and on. We eventually had to
11/06/2020 • 11 minutes 26 seconds
A Dog Day.
Mother's Day in the U.S. is May 9th. It's supposed to be a day when people show their appreciation for their mothers in different ways. Some people will take their mothers out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner, others will buy them gifts, or perhaps have a special celebration at home. At my home, my family organized a special day for me. My oldest son turned up from university unexpectedly just for the day. We were going to go on a hike, but it would have been a hard one, and I really didn't fancy making a lot of effort. So I said, "Change of plans everyone, let's just go for a walk in the park, and take the dogs to the dog park." Walla Walla park is right next to the river, and has wonderful walkways with some lovely shady areas of mature trees. It was the perfect amount of 'effort' for me for Mother's Day. The walkway goes past new apartment complexes, Pybus Market, and pleasantly landscaped office buildings. Then the terrain changes a bit, and gets drier as you walk past a more
21/05/2020 • 10 minutes 34 seconds
Online group chats have become so common in the recent few months. And is it any surprise? With so many people staying at home, and travel paralyzed, the only way to do any group work or meetings of any kind is by using online platforms(1). People I know have told me about Zoom, but there are many others: Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, EZ Talks, Gotomeeting, and the grandfather of these platforms, Skype. And of course we can also use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp on our phones. We have never been so connected. I have a friend who is very 'techy' which means that she is proficient in her use of computers and their software. She happens to be a teacher, and for many years has incorporated online work into her lessons. Now that students are at home, and school is online, she has transitioned effortlessly into teaching from home. Other teachers have not found the change comfortable at all. I suppose it depends on what you teach as well. Imagine being a woodwork and metalwork teacher. How
12/05/2020 • 10 minutes 4 seconds
A Dogwood Trail.
One of the great distractions of this time of year are the dogwood trees. Like many other kinds of flowering trees, their display is brief but stunning. I have four in my garden that keep me company while I'm working outside. They look like pretty ladies showing off their new dresses. The traditional dogwoods in this part of the world are fairly round, with masses of medium sized white or pink flowers. The Korean dogwood, of which I have one, is upright, and has huge, creamy white flowers that come to a point. The climate here in Wenatchee seems to suit these trees. They put up with the dry climate and the heat, and seem not to suffer because of the cold winters. That's just as well, because I can't imagine my garden, or the town without them. Many people take photos of them; they create a great background for selfies or family photos. As I was driving my daughter to pick up one of her friends, I kept pulling over to video the trees whenever I would come upon a particularly perfect loo
30/04/2020 • 5 minutes 45 seconds
Thoughts on the stay-at-home mandate.
Here are some of my thoughts on the stay-at-home mandate because of the Coronavirus, and how I have been feeling about it. First of all, I must say that I am really thankful that the virus hasn't impacted my family, apart from a cousin in Madrid who is now recovering. The demographic here is spread out, and small and rural, so the infection rate has not been high. This is unlike many areas around the world where it is densely populated, and people are therefore more at risk. I'm also thankful that we are now in spring. If the virus had hit us as we approached winter, it would have been twice as difficult and depressing. However, we have glorious colors of flowers, trees, the blue sky, and the sun to comfort us. And to be honest, I think we all need comfort right now. Every morning the world seems so different, and we don't really know what to expect. I am very fortunate that my husband still has work. Mine has disappeared completely, and I find myself floating with no routine. Sometime
21/04/2020 • 7 minutes 27 seconds
Staying close to home to exercise is one of the mandates that we have to follow to combat Covid-19. I see people biking, jogging, and walking, trying to de-stress, and stay healthy. For the most part, they are sticking to(1) social distancing (staying at least 6ft apart). I have also noticed that everybody who has dogs, seems to be walking them. Those dogs have probably never been walked as much in their lives as they are now! I took Rosie, our 11 year old boarder terrier, for a walk yesterday, up the hill, around the cemetery, and back home. She is old, so I walked slowly, and let her sniff and pee wherever she wanted to. "Well, I don't have to rush home for any reason," I thought to myself. I have practically no work, everyone at home can cook for themselves, and there are obviously no plans to go out anywhere, so I decided to let Rosie dictate the walk: how slow it would be, and every direction or change of direction. Well, that is easier said than done(2)! The first thing she wante
30/03/2020 • 14 minutes 30 seconds
A mental health break.
With all that is going on around the world with the Coronavirus, I have felt overwhelmed recently, probably you are too. If you are following a mandate to stay at home, like I am, then the challenge becomes what to do with one's time, and how to occupy the mind. I am so fortunate to have a large back garden. Normally, during March, I am thinking to myself, "How will I find the time to tidy up this huge garden, and get it ready for the spring?" With plenty of work outside of the home, it is always difficult to get projects at home finished. Well, all of that has changed now. With just a tiny trickle of work left, I now have no excuses but to finish everything I haven't at home. So, at the moment the garden is my focus. Working in it is like a mental health break for me. It's exercise, fresh air, sunshine, birds singing, and seeing progress. All of these things combat anxiety. I don't tend to be anxious normally, but we are living at the moment in a stressful situation globally, and quit
26/03/2020 • 6 minutes 59 seconds
A new kind of empty.
My son was flying home. Thank Goodness! He was coming back from Sevilla, Spain where he had been studying. "I'm really sad to be leaving, mum," he texted. He had had such an amazing time, even though it had been cut short. His flight from Sevilla to London went according to schedule. However, once he got to London, things got chaotic. His flight was cancelled last minute. He ended up staying in a hotel, and I scrambled to get him another flight. Actually, from my end here in the States, it was almost impossible to talk to any airline sales assistants, or even the travel agency. "We are experiencing a higher than normal amount of calls, so if you are not flying in the next 72 hours, please call back," the recorded messages would say, and then they would hang up! A second flight was booked, but during the night that was also cancelled. I was getting stressed! Suddenly, though, I received a text from my son telling me that he had found a ticket and immediately bought it. He was on his
22/03/2020 • 8 minutes 22 seconds
Words of Encouragement.
As I work in the schools in Wenatchee, I see, on a regular basis, all kinds of posters in the classrooms. They are designed to encourage the students to be positive and responsible. They're also attractive. I have been impressed over the years with the choice of posters that teachers make. Some of the sayings quoted are from well-known, historical personalities who have made an impact on society. For example, I saw one by Benjamin Franklin that said, "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." I like that. It really resonates with me. And what about this quote from Coco Chanel, "Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable."(1) I suspect that only the oldest students in the High School will appreciate such quotes, but I could be wrong(2). I know that the teachers certainly appreciate the encouragement that they see on the walls. It can be a good practice to surround ourselves at work with positive words, so we remember our goals
06/03/2020 • 8 minutes 29 seconds
As I looked through my photos today of my recent holiday, I came across one of a bar in Sevilla. I hadn't gone inside, but I certainly did look in from the pavement for a long time. It was a gorgeous, very old rock building with wooden beams, hanging lamps, and bulls heads mounted on the walls. It had incredible atmosphere, and was very elegant. It was a restaurant and tapas bar. Tapas, if you don't know, are small portions of various, tasty dishes that are served in Spain to accompany drinks, like beer or wine. It helps to have a little something to eat at lunchtime when you drink alcohol, especially if you are going back to work afterwards; the effects of the alcohol are less. The food is so good, however, that many people have tapas for dinner. They order a variety of dishes, and simply share them. Olives, are a like a staple in Spain. Often you don't even pay anything for them when you have them with a drink. Tapas, however, are quite special, and chefs take pride in making high qu
24/02/2020 • 5 minutes 53 seconds
The news is full, these days, of reports about the Coronavirus, now called COVID-19. There is a sense of panic in the reports, as we hear about more and more people getting infected. But what is it, and what are the risks? Well, apparently, there are many coronaviruses which are similar to the cold or flu viruses. Most people in the United States, for example, will have had a coronavirus at one time in their lives. These viruses are spread from person to person by inhaling droplets that someone has coughed or sneezed, or by touching a doorknob or a tap that an infected person has touched. Once the germs have been touched, they can enter the body if that person rubs his eyes, or touches his mouth or nose. The symptoms you get from COVID-19 affect your upper respiratory area: your nose and throat, and usually the infected person will have a fever. As with other viruses, rest, lots of fluids, and anti-viral medications which can shorten the duration of the virus, are all recommended. Th
13/02/2020 • 6 minutes 39 seconds
Christopher Columbus, really?
A couple of weeks ago, I took my son to Sevilla in Spain. He is staying there to study Spanish and the culture. What a place! I had been there a long time ago, and it was so marvelous to return. Of course, it was almost the perfect time of year: 70 degrees during the day, and the streets filled with orange trees full of fruit. Before we met my son's host family, we stayed spent the night right in the old center, next to the cathedral. We were offered a free upgrade to our room; another room with a balcony overlooking the cathedral was available, so of course I said yes. It was so special. As I gazed over the magnificent building that was all illuminated, I thought, "I cannot leave Sevilla without seeing inside." So, the next day, after meeting Cass' host mother, we wandered around the center, and went back to the cathedral. One thing I hadn't done was read about it. I had done no research at that point about its history, or the art inside the building. That lack of research lead me t
07/02/2020 • 6 minutes 56 seconds
Scared of airports?
Have you ever met anyone who is afraid of airports? If you have, he or she is probably a person who is not familiar with them. It takes a while to get used to moving through an airport, and finding your way. Children for example can be intimidated such a large space. I think parents can be equally intimidated because children can get lost easily in such a huge building, so they must be over protective. The solution for everyone is basic training on how to use airports properly. Because I have regularly used airports for many years, and I have also been a nervous parent, I would say one of the most important rules is just to look up. All the information a person needs is up high. Do you need to know which direction to go in? Just look up. Where is security for the check in area? Are you hungry or thirsty? Do you need to use the toilet? Again, you just need to look up and find the signs. Children find the experience very exciting when you can point out and explain to them what everyth
25/01/2020 • 5 minutes 34 seconds
Have you ever heard of the word ‘tacky’? This a word that I love. It’s actually more of an American term than an English one. I thought about this word yesterday as I was driving with my daughter. She was driving and I was looking out of the window at the different buildings and building signs. Here in the United States, business signs can tend to be very big, very tall, and very brightly colored. We had stopped at a traffic light, and on my right, I saw a hotel sign that said Super Eight. This is a chain of popular, cheap hotels here in the US. The sign was very high, very large, and bright yellow with red letters. I thought to myself, “How tacky!” Now tacky means two things. The first and original meaning is sticky. The second meaning is cheap, and bad taste. I decided to look into the etymology of the word, meaning it’s history. Interestingly enough, it was originally used to describe a weak horse. Perhaps there is a connection between a weak horse and the word tacky because of the
14/01/2020 • 6 minutes 49 seconds
When I walked into my mothers house yesterday I smelled something wonderful. “What is that smell mom?” I asked. “Well you know what that is,” she said. “They are the cloved oranges that I’ve been making, you remember!” The smell was coming from oranges covered in cloves, an artistic tradition that my mother has followed for many years. And believe me the oranges and the cloves make the whole house smell delicious. In England cloved oranges have been made since the Elizabethan times. “Well everyone was so smelly back then,” joked my mother. In her kitchen on two metal stands, oranges dotted with cloves were sitting looking very pretty. It is an incredibly simple art project that many people enjoy in the winter in the UK. The more cloves you use, the longer the oranges are preserved. My mother actually has an orange that is completely covered with cloves which is many years old. When you finish putting the cloves in the orange skin you can thread a pretty ribbon through the
13/01/2020 • 4 minutes 45 seconds
Have you heard of the phrase, "Small talk"? Can you guess what it is? I have been thinking about it for a few days, as my oldest son sent me a video all about it. He dislikes it, but realized, after watching the video, that it might be more worthwhile than he had previously thought. So what is it? It is superficial, pleasant conversation that is not controversial in the slightest. It's the sort of conversation we have at a party when we have just met someone, or perhaps if you are sitting next to someone on the underground or the bus. It is non-threatening, and is supposed to be a pleasant, non-judgmental exchange of words. Some people do it a lot. I do, actually; I small talk in the grocery store, in line at the bank, with neighbors who I don't know very well, and on public transport. However, some people hate it. They see it as an unnecessary job, a burden even. "If I'm not going to talk about something that is important to me, or something that I'm really interested in, then why bot
09/01/2020 • 8 minutes 6 seconds
New Year's Eve in the U.S.
New Year's Eve and New Year’s Day are the biggest times of celebration in the United States. New Year’s Eve iin particular is a time of parties, fireworks, and getting together.The 31st of December is the last day in the Gregorian calendar, and so it is considered the last day of the year in most non-Asian countries. Most people will get together in houses, restaurants, or public places to enjoy food, drink, and perhaps dancing. When you think of The New Year's celebration in the United States you think of Times Square in New York city. Each year tens of thousands of people crowd into the square to listen to live music and to watch celebrations in other parts of the country on large screens. Often famous television presenters or comedians host the show, adding details and memories of the past year. The Times Square celebration is famous for the large illuminated ball that drops to the count of 10, as everyone counts down the last 10 seconds of December 31st. At this point everybody
01/01/2020 • 5 minutes 56 seconds
A Christmas Adoption grammar points.
Well, here are the grammar points for the podcast about me resisting the temptation to buy a cat. 1. To drag your feet. This gives a great visual of being unenthusiastic about doing something, taking a long time to do it. a. I'm dragging my feet to paint the house; it'll be such a big job! b. He's dragging his feet about studying for his finals. I'm afraid he's going to run out of time! 2. Fair enough. This means, "Ok, that's reasonable," or "Ok, I agree." It can also mean that you have been almost convinced by someone's argument but not 100%. Perhaps someone is insisting on something and you agree just to keep the peace, or with some conditions. a. "I'll do your homework if you wash my car." Answer: "Fair enough." b. "I don't think its right for me to make dinner and clean up every night after work. Why don't you do it a few nights a week?" Answer: "Fair enough." c. If you're making the rules around here, fair enough, but you'll be responsible for making sure they are followed. 3. T
20/12/2019 • 7 minutes 56 seconds
A Christmas Adoption
There are only eight days to go until Christmas including today, so people are rushing around trying to get the last few things organized. Most people here who celebrate Christmas, have their tree up and decorated, perhaps a few lights decorating their house outside, and most of the presents bought and wrapped. This year I have been dragging my feet for some reason(1). I am usually a real enthusiast, and have the place looking festive and special. This year, however, I'm doing the minimum. And that is probably because I'm busy with work. Fair enough(2). My family can 'take up the slack'(3), and do what I don't manage to get done. Now, when it comes to presents, I was very tempted the other day to buy something that I know we absolutely don't need: another cat. It was a kitten to be specific. I had gone to the pet shop with my daughter to get our snake some frozen mice to eat. It's unfortunate, but true; after all, the snake has to eat something, right? And apparently mice is what they
20/12/2019 • 6 minutes 38 seconds
A flu fighter grammar points.
Here are some super useful grammar points from the last podcast. 1. A few ......... apart. This can be used with different measurements: time or distance. a. My first two sons were born 13 months apart. b. My two surgeries were only a few weeks apart. c. We planted the trees 10ft apart. 2. Skin conditions: scratch cut bruise burn blister boil rash - breakout scar 3. "I would choose to have it anyway, even if I didn't work." Other examples of conditional plus negative subjunctive: a. We would still want to jog, even if we weren't training for a race. b. They would still have to sell their house, even if they got better jobs. c. You would re-paint the house a different color, even if your husband didn't like it.
10/12/2019 • 10 minutes 11 seconds
Be a flu fighter.
"Ow!" I said to myself, as the pharmacist put the needle in my upper arm. I hadn't expected the vaccination to hurt. It wasn't a regular one, you know, like the flu. This was the shingles shot. In order to avoid the shingles, you must have a series of two, a few months apart. I'm so relieved that I have had my second injection, so I don't have to be concerned about getting the virus. Well, when I say 'I don't have to be concerned about getting the virus' I don't exactly mean that. Let me explain. I already have the virus. I had an illness when I was little, called chicken pox. It is very common, and normally not serious. Your symptoms are usually: a fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, headache, and an unusual rash. The rash that can end up covering all of your body, even your eyelids, is a blister rash. A blister is a thin lump of skin that is filled with fluid. Sometimes we get blisters after walking with either new shoes, or badly fitting shoes. The blisters from the chicken pox itch
06/12/2019 • 7 minutes 41 seconds
I love stones, rocks, and crystals. I always have. I wouldn't say that I am a student of geology, but nevertheless, that subject does fascinate me. Perhaps one day, when I have more time, I will learn about geology. I have a few rocks and crystals around the house that I have gathered over the years. Some are just smooth river rocks that caught my eye, and others are geodes which I bought for my children. The geodes look like plain, round, light brown rocks. However, if you break them open, inside you'll find a pocket of white crystals that sparkle. My mother knows all about precious and semi-precious stones, as she makes jewelry. She sells most of what she makes, but some things are just too pretty to give away. Recently, as she and I were looking around some shops, we came across a jewelry stand that was full of stones of different kinds. I was immediately drawn to(1) three smooth, dark ones. They were multi-colored: black, brown, tan, and white. They appeared to have circles and sp
21/11/2019 • 8 minutes 36 seconds
Grammar notes for Youtube channel.
1. 'To put your toe in the water' means to test something, to very carefully have a look, or try something out. a. When I first started my podcast, I put my toe in the water of internet projects, and slowly realized that I can do this! b. It was his first teaching job; he taught three days a week. So as he put his toe in the water and got experience, he decided that he enjoyed the career. 2. 'To show off' is to brag, to proudly display yourself or something you have or you can do. a. The little boy showed off his new toy car to his friends; they all thought it was very special. b. Don't show off! It's irritating! So you can walk on your hands, big deal! I can walk on my feet. 3. 'I can't read your mind' means that you should communicate clearly. It can also be a direct translation instead of an idiomatic phrase. a. When you ask me to get you something to eat, can you be more specific? I can't read your mind, you know. b. It's weird, she knows what I'm going to say before I say it. It's
19/11/2019 • 5 minutes 17 seconds
My Youtube Channel.
Well, I've done it. I have waited long enough. You could say, "It's about time!" So, I finally decided to put my toe in the water and try it out. Am I making any sense? Did you notice that I am using several idiomatic phrases? I'm just showing off. I'm talking about my new Youtube channel called A Cup Of English. And the reason I'm using idiomatic phrases now is because I have a new, short video series on just that. To tell you the truth, starting a channel was a bit scary. I knew that I didn't want to show my face like most people do, so my videos would be animated, or with video clips and photos. So I downloaded a few apps to help me do that. That sounds easy, but believe me it isn't. It all takes much longer than it should. Things go wrong. However, when I have completely finished a video and uploaded it, it is very satisfying. Some of the other videos that I've made are quite long. I focus on pronunciation, so I speak fairly slowly, so everything is clear. I also have all of the wo
14/11/2019 • 5 minutes 32 seconds
One American tradition that I have experienced is Powder Puff. It has a strange name, I know. It is a high school tradition, and is centered around(1) a flag football game played by young women. It has been around since 1930's, and is a fund raiser for charity, or for a high school event, like a dance. It usually takes place in October, before Homecoming which is another, even better known U.S tradition. Now, do you know what 'flag football' is? It has the same rules as American football, but no contact is allowed, and instead of stealing the ball, you try to steal a flag or a belt from the waist of the members of the opposing team. It is fast, nerve wracking(2), and great fun. Even though it is for charity, team members do get very competitive, and things can get a little rough. Penalties are common because it becomes increasingly more difficult to have no contact. In fact, the last Powder Puff I watched seemed more like a rugby match than a girls' flag football game! There were bodie
08/11/2019 • 7 minutes 42 seconds
An October Garden
Come with me, for a walk around my October garden. This day has a touch of magic, so I must be in it; I don't want to miss it. For a few minutes we can put the busyness aside(1), and step out into a world of calm and color. While we have been so occupied with the things of life, the worries, the obligations, the plans, the world of plants and creatures has been turning. It turns with the seasons. It submits in the Winter, shuts down, stands still. All is white, quiet, buried. Then the Spring, with its warmth, its hope, its energy, bursting everywhere. Youth rushes in on the wind and paints the land. Summer comes, and with her beaming smile gets our attention. She touches our skin, even through a window, and all is green and color. But there is a fourth sister, the season born between Summer and Winter. She is Autumn, mild, and mysterious. It is her time now. She has been here, I can see her footprints. She left a trail of frost this morning, and hung a chill in the air. But then she wi
30/10/2019 • 10 minutes 15 seconds
Is there a certain food that makes your mouth water? A few of my favorites are: curry, lasagne, pad Thai, and sushi. We are lucky enough to have a few sushi restaurants here in Wenatchee now. It took a while to get them! They are proving to be really popular. To satisfy the American palate(1), they serve hot food as well as sushi. I suppose, in a place that has cold, snowy winters, it is nice to have a hot food alternative. Like many people, though, my family and I love the sushi. Have you tried it? And what is it, exactly? Well, its Japanese, and it has a base of sticky rice that is prepared with a little vinegar, salt, and sugar. This is usually rolled up with seaweed, raw fish of different kinds, vegetables, and sometimes sauces. It is a very tasty, clean food experience. Sushi restaurants have the reputation of being extremely clean. The raw fish is deep frozen in order to kill any small worms that might be in the fish meat. And generally, the chefs prepare the food where everyon
21/10/2019 • 10 minutes 27 seconds
A Small Climate Strike.
The phrases: climate strike, greenhouse gases, and global warming should be familiar with anyone who listens to the news. And now with the help of social media, young people are becoming aware of the science behind how human activity affects the world. "Mum, can you excuse me from P.E please? I want to take part in the strike,' my daughter told me over the phone a few weeks ago. "Strike?" I thought to myself. Usually a strike at school would be for the teachers to get decent pay, or something like that. I received a text reminder from my daughter later that it was one of the hundreds of thousands of climate strikes by children all over the world. They were taking time out of school to draw attention to their need for a clean, healthy planet. They are too young too vote, or to control politics, or industry, but they have a voice, and they want it to be heard. So, I read about the movement, about Greta Thurnberg from Sweden, and I quickly got up-to-date with this very organized global i
10/10/2019 • 6 minutes 10 seconds
English Medical Language (blood pressure and appendicitis).
For all of you nurses, nurses' assistants, doctors, and anyone else who is interested in, or involved in the medical profession, this podcast is for you. A subscriber to my Youtube channel , Maria, recently asked me to go over the nursing reading and practice that she needs as a nurse. As my job is medical interpreting, I am familiar with a lot of medical language. So, today I will start with some essential, medical basics. The following is a conversation between a nurse, the doctor, and the patient. Afterwards, I will repeat the essential medical terms, and then we will listen to the dialogue a second time. Nurse Winters: Hello Mr. Smith. What brings you to the clinic today? Mr. Smith: Well, I feel terrible. Nurse Winters: Can you describe how you feel? Mr. Smith: I feel weak and hot and shaky. Nurse Winters: Let me take your vital signs: temperature, blood pressure, height, and weight. Could you take your shoes off and stand on the scale please? Ok, 192lbs. Now I will measure your he
20/09/2019 • 19 minutes 32 seconds
A Beach in Seattle.
About one week ago, I found myself on a beach in Seattle called Alki Beach. I had gone there with my husband for a couple of days, just to get a way from it all(1). As we have been to Seattle on many occasions, we decided to do something different. For years, we have stayed downtown, gone shopping, and eaten in nice restaurants. Enough of that! We both love natural environments, and needed a refreshing break, so we googled the parks and beaches, and came up with(2) Alki. It is situated in West Seattle on a peninsular which is called Alki Point. The area is actually quite historic. The first white settlers arrived here in 1851. Apparently, Chief Seattle and his tribe greeted them and helped them build a cabin for shelter. When we were there, it was full of activity. The sandy beach stretches for miles, so families and friends can hang out and do all kinds of beachy activities, like sunbathing, building sand castles, swimming, and playing frisbee. From where we were, the view of the Oly
20/09/2019 • 7 minutes 17 seconds
Imagine being in a tiny, coastal(1) village in Scotland in the summer. The air here is pure: a mix of ocean and forest smells, as the village is sandwiched between both. The area of Dumfries and Galloway, in the South West, has intense sunlight during this season, even though there is intermittent rain and a fair amount of wind. It's when the wind stops, you feel the warmth of the sun, and everything around you glows: the forests and fields, the oh so blue sky, and the colorful houses that sit in a happy row, taking in(2) the view. As you walk along the main road, you go past a couple of hotels and tea shops on your left, a gift shop with local art, and holiday homes, of course. There is a bus stop, then the road narrows(3) to a single track that winds along the coast, with pretty hedges and private drives all the way. You see a glow of yellow coming from your right, through the vegetation. As you investigate and move a little closer, you realize th
28/08/2019 • 7 minutes 4 seconds
A Colorful Secret.
It was the first day out in a few months that my mum had had, when we came across a hidden treasure. I had expected simply to take my mother for a drive, stop somewhere for lunch, and find a place she had told me about that sells plants. She is an avid(1) gardener; she can make anything grow, and has an elephant's memory for plants and how to propagate them. This would be a welcome break for her, as she had been stuck at home, recovering from an illness, with only short trips chauffeured by me here and there. This trip would take at least half a day and give her a sense of really being out of town. We drove past extensive orchards on both sides of the highway. This otherwise very dry, semi-desert valley, has large patches of green throughout its area, thanks to the Columbia River. It looks like a quilt. (2)After a while I realized that I had driven for too long; we must have already passed the place my mum was looking for. I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a ple
26/07/2019 • 11 minutes 48 seconds
Another Furry Friend.
They're furry, flexible, and playful. They have sharp teeth, and will nip (1) you if you are not careful. They are highly energetic, but will sleep for 16 hours. Like cats, they groom themselves, but they apparently have an 'odor'... Like dogs, they can be trained, but their attention span is short when it comes to 'lessons'.They prefer to be in groups because they are highly social, and love to curl up and snuggle(2) with their owners. Yes, I'm talking about a kind of animal. Can you guess which one I'm thinking about? It's a ferret. We don't have any, yet, but they are potentially our next pets. I'm not really sure why I am even considering more animals; we already have two dogs, a cat, and a snake. It is my daughter who is strong-arming(3) me into considering getting them. She can be very persuasive. However, I have had my experience with house pets, and what I've found is that usually it is me who takes care of them. It is always 'mum' who takes the littl
24/06/2019 • 8 minutes 27 seconds
Spring sports in our local school district have almost come to an end. This seems to be such a short season! The weather is also now closer to summer than spring. Those windy, mild days have changed into still, hot days. The blossoms on the trees are drying up, and the bees are buzzing. The school kids are buzzing also, with all kinds of activities. Track is a collection of sports that is very popular with kids of all ages. It includes sprinting(1), long distance running, the hurdles, shot put, javelin, discus, long jump, and high jump. My son Robert has been doing the throwing sports: shot put, javelin, and discus. He loves them. It's a complete change for him from his winter basketball. The track team is also a very relaxed and sociable group. There must be about 40 students or more involved, each doing one or two events(2) of choice. They compete with other high schools, which means traveling by bus. These trips are often a couple of hours away, and so by the time they finish all th
08/05/2019 • 9 minutes 37 seconds
Grammar Points from 'Jungle'.
As promised, today I will go over the grammar points from my last podcast, 'Jungle'. As you will remember, I danced the night away to the music of this British band. And all that dancing brought to mind some useful phrases. 1. Winter had been 'extraordinarily' long. We lose the sound of the first 'a'. Extraordinary - adjective Extraordinarily - adverb. a. The little boy was 'extraordinarily' descriptive about his day. b. The cat was extraordinarily brave; it fought the dog and won! 2. It's just as well that we spent the night, as the concert finished at midnight. It is similar in meaning to 'it's a good job that'. a. It is just as well that I checked my calendar. I have a dentist appointment in 10 minutes! b. It's pouring! I'm glad you insisted on bringing umbrellas. It's just as well (that) you did! 3. Their lyrics are clean, which for me 'is a (huge) plus'. a. I like going with you to places because you always bring snacks in your car. That's a huge plus. b. Spending time with love
10/04/2019 • 7 minutes 15 seconds
About a month ago, a friend and I went to Seattle to do something that we don't normally do. We went to a concert. Winter had been extraordinarily(1) long here, so I decided that I needed to get away and do something fun. Thankfully my friend, Sandra, wanted to do the same thing. As she likes to shop, she suggested that we spend the night after the concert, and then spend money the next day in the shops! It is just as well that(2) we spent the night, actually, as the concert finished at midnight. I didn't fancy driving for three hours and getting home at 3am or later. So, which group did we see? Jungle is their name. They are a British band, and their genre of music is funk/soul/electronic. They have a very American sound when they sing, almost as if they had a motown base. I love their music, and their lyrics. In fact, their lyrics are clean which for me is a huge plus(3). I get so tired of hearing wonderful dance music, only to then realize that the lyrics ar
04/04/2019 • 6 minutes 37 seconds
If you haven't heard of the shingles, then today I will teach you something both interesting and important for your health. The shingles is actually a virus. It is one of the herpes viruses. I have had close contact with it recently, as my mother has it. Don't let the pretty sound of the word fool you; shingles sounds like jingles, a happy ringing of bells. Well, its quite the opposite. It is horrendous. I think it should be renamed to something like, 'The dark knife', or 'The burning storm'. It is actually the chicken pox virus. That is an illness that we tend to have as children. Nowadays there are vaccines for chicken pox, so children can at least be protected against a bad dose of the illness. If you have had it, the virus will continue to live in your body. It basically stays dormant in a nerve of its choice. Later in life, when your immune system is weak, it flares up(1), producing a burning rash and a lot of nerve pain. The nerves can actually be permanently damaged and painfu
13/03/2019 • 8 minutes 20 seconds
A Good Start.
Does your mind ever wander? Mine does, all the time. I find that I am constantly thinking about things. My brain rarely(1) seems to keep quiet. In Tai Chi we call this 'The Jumping Monkey' which is a wonderful image. I suppose our brains are supposed to always be thinking, but sometimes it's really distracting. Shopping, for example, is a time when you want to have a clear plan of action with no distraction. If you don't, you could end up wasting time or money, or both. So many times I've come home from shopping with a car full of groceries, only to realize that I forgot the most needed items, like toilet paper or toothpaste. Or I get into the store and I realize that I left my shopping list at home. Perhaps its a fault in my genes; I can blame it on my parents. You can blame most things on your parents. But that doesn't help; it's the behavior that needs to change. So, I've figured out a solution to the shopping list problem: I either write it on my hand, or I s
31/01/2019 • 8 minutes 9 seconds
We've lucked out this year (1). We're lucky because the winter has not been too hard. Yes we've had snow, and some freezing conditions, but it really hasn't been bad at all. I've been able to walk the dogs without falling on the ice, and my daughter has been able to practice her soccer moves on a more or less snow-free lawn. Everyone is back into a work or school routine, and Christmas seems like it was a long time ago. There are a few traces of decorations left around the house, but I'm not going to put them away for a few months. They keep a little bit of brightness and cheer in the house. Another thing that does, is the very colorful and very unusual present that Domini got this year. It's a snake, a corn snake to be exact(2). It's orange with yellow and white spots, only about 12 inches long, and is quite calm. Corn snakes are native to the U.S, and beneficial to humans as they eat rodents like rats and mice. They are not poisonous (of cour
15/01/2019 • 7 minutes 44 seconds
Things are changing fast in my household. My third boy, Robert, is now driving. He's only 16, and that to me seems far too young to be 'behind the wheel'. Thankfully, he doesn't drive very far, so the chances of(1) him getting into an accident are not high. As soon as he passed his driver's test, he bought a few things for his vehicle so he could look like and be a proper driver. Tissues, chapstick, hand sanitizer, phone charger, and gum, are of course essentials to have in the car. Then there was the lanyard. When he first mentioned it, I didn't know what he was talking about. It sounded like some boating equipment. So I looked it up.(2) Actually, it is a kind of cord or rope used to secure equipment on ships, and also used in the military. In general, however, it is a cord you put around your neck or shoulder, for your keys or ID. It seems that all high school students have these long, often colorful straps that hang out of a pocket with their car keys attached. It's a sign of bei
17/12/2018 • 7 minutes 49 seconds
Halloween was fairly uneventful this year. It is a huge day of celebration here in the U.S, but as my children are teenagers now, we are less involved in the 'trick or treat' tradition of dressing up and visiting houses. Also, we don't tend to get many visitors in our neighborhood because it is actually quite spooky: no street lamps, no side walks, and a dark orchard with derelict buildings immediately as you turn into the area. It doesn't surprise me that parents don't drop their kids off to let them trick or treat. I wouldn't. The tradition now for my kids, as well as for their friends, is to watch the scariest movie they can find in the cinema. Apparently, its 'the thing' to do. I can't stand scary movies, though decades ago, when I was a teenager, I too would watch them whenever I could. There was just something thrilling about screaming together. It must have been a way to bond. After Halloween, we visited my son Cass in Washington State University. The university's American footb
07/11/2018 • 7 minutes 34 seconds
Ed Sheeran in Concert.
There's nothing like(1) being in a crowd of 60,000 people. There's nothing like it, if they are all happy and dancing to the same music. Yes, you guessed it; I went to a concert with 59, 997 temporary friends. We were all happy to be together. I took my daughter and a friend of hers, and I was as excited as they were. Ed Sheeran was the main singer of the evening. I pride myself in(2) being a sort of up-to-date mum, so I was already familiar with some of his songs, and what he looks like. And he's English, so that was a plus for me. He actually chatted a lot in between songs, and came across as a very friendly, intelligent person. As far as his performance goes, he was dynamic, and gave a good rendition of all of his most popular songs. I was impressed with the fact that he was by himself on stage. He used a 'loop' machine to create his music by instantaneous recording of himself. It worked really well. How clever! The girls and I were unfortunately up in what we call 'the n
17/09/2018 • 8 minutes 8 seconds
Snake Skin Surprise.
Snakes are creatures that I rarely see. Actually, I have no desire to see them. They're not really my cup of tea. My sister, however, used to have a very large corn snake. It was yellow and white, and its very long body filled its glass cage where it would only occasionally move. Once a week Suzy would feed it a mouse which, in a flash, would disappear down the snakes throat, and then it would go back to its rather boring existence. It was, you could say, the easiest of pets. Here, where I live, there are some native snakes that people do run into every now and then. We have the garter snake that is black and white which can swim, and gives birth to live babies, no need for eggs. Then there is the harmless bull snake that is brownish grey that kills rattle snakes. And then the rattlers. They are the ones to watch out for. I suppose, the humans around here have respect for and fear of these stripy, unpredictable animals. I have heard many stories of people finding a rattler in their
14/08/2018 • 4 minutes 31 seconds
The 4th at the lake.
We spent the 4th of July at Lake Chelan for the first time just a couple of days ago. As you know, the 4th is the national holiday celebrating the independence of the U.S from England. It is a day off for everyone, and usually involves a huge fireworks display. My sister-in-law owns a cabin that is right on the lake, a perfect holiday home, and an exciting place to get together and enjoy the water and the celebrations. I must say that the fireworks were definitely not the highlight of the evening. The cabin is located down the lake, far away from the spot where the fireworks take off. In fact, we were so far away, that they looked like a tiny display coming from someones backyard! A bit of an anticlimax really. However, we had had a wonderful time with our friends, and making new ones. I have never lived by water. When I was a child, I would spend summers in Mallorca, and go to the beach every day. But, actually living on the water, especially a lake, would be a very different experien
07/07/2018 • 4 minutes 30 seconds
To Stumble Upon.
Summer is a busy time, though some people think that it isn't. "So, what are you doing with all your time off, now that you don't have to drive here and there for school?" people have asked me. I smile politely, but think, "You have no idea." Yes, summer is busy. Mind you(1), that is partly my own fault. I am a project maniac. For some reason I feel compelled to constantly take on new projects. One of this season's tasks is to go through the whole house and garden. The aim is to minimalize and tidy. To reduce the clutter in a house, apparently you need a system of three boxes: one for items to throw away, one for donation, and the last for items to sell. So I am applying this system, and beginning to feel liberated. The garden, however, is the battleground for me. I have avoided it up until now(2) because of the heat, but everyday I look out of the window and see the growing need. Weeds, and lots of them. Right around my vegetable boxes, there is a mass of happy weeds, enjoying the
30/06/2018 • 10 minutes 22 seconds
When my husband and I visited China, I must say that we weren't very organized. My husband was focused on work, but I hadn't done enough research into making our finances(1) work in China. Though I had notified my credit card companies that I would be using the cards in China, I failed to get a pin to withdraw cash. I also was completely unaware of Alipay. And Alipay is everywhere. If you are not yet familiar with it, you soon will be. It is a financial organization, owned by Alibaba, which provides 3rd party(2) on-line payments, with no fees. That means that like using PayPal, you can pay for almost anything without cash or credit cards. Every transaction is done over your smart phone. And let me tell you, the transactions are fast. There is no need for fumbling(3) around with passwords that you might have forgotten, or waiting for confirmation numbers. No, this is lightening speed, and I didn't have it. On a few occasions, I couldn't actually go into places because they only took Ali
09/06/2018 • 10 minutes 11 seconds
Impressions of Shanghai.
I never thought that I would get here, but here I am. China, that is. I'm so excited that I'm sure even my sentences will have grammatical errors. This was an unexpected(1) trip, an opportunity that suddenly came my way. I would have been an idiot to not take advantage of my good fortune. Of course, I could have(2) stayed at home for the week, and done the usual things, you know: work, cooking, laundry, walk the dogs. However, as I have my mother and in-laws available to help, I jumped at the chance to come here, to China, instead. So, this is my first day, in Shanghai. My husband is in a business meeting, and as I write, I am hanging out in the hotel room which has an incredible view of the city. We are up on the 59th floor; I'm surprised that it doesn't make me feel dizzy. My first surprise when I arrived was to see how many trees there are in the city. There are more trees than in Seattle! Even the highway is bordered by either a line of deciduous trees, or indeed a forest. In fa
09/05/2018 • 8 minutes 42 seconds
Coffee is very important to people in the U.S. Washington State is the birthplace of Starbucks, and the city where the first one of them opened is Seattle. You could say that the subject of coffee there is as natural as breathing. If you are lucky enough to visit that splendid, green, innovative(1) city, you will easily find your way to Pike Place Market where the famous coffee shop is located. There is always a long line of people waiting to buy a drink, and that line fills the standing space in the cafe, and continues out of the door and down the street. But why is Starbucks such an important place in the U.S? The answer, in part, is that it is indeed a place, not just a company. The founders, Baldwin, Siegl, and Bowker, had a vision of providing high quality coffee in comfortable places where people could linger. And 'linger' is the significant word here. The U.S culture, as far as I can see, has very little to do with lingering, spending time being in the moment(2), enjoying a meal
13/04/2018 • 9 minutes 15 seconds
The Hoxton, London.
It has been many years since I've lived in a big city. I used to live in London, and part of me is still there, I think(1). If you follow my podcasts, you will know that I go back whenever I can, even if it is just for an hour's lunch with one of my girlfriends before I fly home. There is just something about the city vibe(2) that I love. It's intense, a showcase of human creativity. Samuel Johnson, a famous English writer from 1700's said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." This is an old English way of saying that there is all that you can experience/learn/admire in that city. To a large extent, I agree with him. There would never be any excuse to be bored in London, nor in any capital city. My good friend Sarah took me to a popular bar/grill/restaurant that is close to where she works, in an area called Shoreditch. Shoreditch is in East London, a very trendy, artsy place full of young energy, businesses, and develop
22/03/2018 • 8 minutes 46 seconds
Just about the time that I consider giving up sugar, I visit Belgium(1). It wasn't good timing! I wouldn't have missed my day in Brussels for anything, of course. However, as I walked around the shops near Grand Place, everywhere I looked, I was tempted. The Belgians like their desserts, and desserts are made with sugar. Belgian chocolate is known all over the world for being one of the best. I expected to see some elegant displays of chocolates, but what I didn't expect was the amount of shops that were bursting with sweet treats. It was like edible art. Chocolates, pastries, and the famous macaroons were arranged beautifully to draw visitors in to buy. I ended up being one of those visitors. How could I not go in?(2) I only had one day in Brussels, so I had to experience all that I could while I had the time. Thankfully my pancreas works well, so I decided that that day would be my day of cheating. Sugar would still be my friend for one more day. I had sheltered in a coffee shop in
27/02/2018 • 11 minutes 6 seconds
After my trip to Paris this January, I decided that I would spend one day in Brussels. I had never been to Belgium before, and I longed to(1) go to a place I had never visited. Brussels was the obvious choice for me, as the train journey from Paris is less than two hours. After saying goodbye to my son, I headed to Gare du Nord. Talk about(2) a busy station! I went through security quickly, and found my seat. I was relieved to be on a train and on my way. I was tired; jet lag and saying goodbye to my son were both heavy weights on my shoulders. I hoped to fall asleep during the trip, but that didn't happen. I was too curious. I watched the misty countryside fly by as the train rocked oh so slightly back and forth; it was comforting. We reached Gare du Midi in no time at all. I grabbed my only roller suitcase, turned on the data for my phone, and googled my way to my Airbnb. How efficient! The place I had booked for the night was delightful. It was a ten minute walk from the station, an
06/02/2018 • 9 minutes 46 seconds
A Blink of Paris.
During my recent travels, I had the opportunity to go to Paris. I was only there for a few days with my son Hudson. I went there to get him settled in school, and to make sure that he seemed happy with his arrangements. "Mum, I love this place," he said to me at one point. He was amazed by the city. There is so much history, art, and spectacular architecture that you can be pleasantly distracted for years. I hadn't been to Paris for decades, and only had vague(1) memories of certain places. One of my good friends, Lorraine, joined us for the weekend which was a special treat for me. She lives near London, and so caught the Eurostar train to Paris, a journey that only took two hours. I loved being back in Europe again, and having the chance to experience this intense city. Winter, I suppose, is not the best time to go to Paris to study; however, as Spring gets closer, the days get longer, there is less rain and more sun, my son will find himself in a city that is like a painted masterpi
22/01/2018 • 9 minutes 42 seconds
A Home At Last?
In your country, do you have a Humane Society? By that I mean an organization that looks after unwanted animals. The U.S does; it is a charity that works for the good of animals. Here, in each state, you can find these places under the actual title of The Humane Society. The animals that are rescued from bad situations, or found on the streets, are housed in buildings where they get the food and medical attention they need to be healthy. It mainly serves dogs and cats, as they are prolific, and unfortunately sometimes end up homeless, but occasionally other needy animals can be found there. Each dog has its own small room with a bed, a water dish, and a toy to chew. They are taken for a walk each day so they get strong and well, and so they can burn off some nervous energy. The cats, on the other hand, don't go outside because it is more difficult to control them. They can, though, share a roomy cat house that often has 2 or 3 small rooms. They're allowed into a room for their exercise
15/12/2017 • 10 minutes 30 seconds
Enter at your own risk!
I am becoming a minimalist. It's a slow process, but it is definitely happening. For many years I haven't practiced giving or throwing things away, neither has my husband. It is so easy to put things that we no longer need in cupboards and closets, and then to conveniently forget about them. So, the result has been an accumulation of stuff. But, the season has changed, the tide has turned (1), and I'm in motion to do what I should do. There are many charity shops here where you can donate unwanted but good quality clothing and household goods(2). I often shop at some of these places because you can find great bargains. Some things, however, must be thrown away or recycled. That was the case with five, large, steel canisters that I had stored in our garage. Some of them had been there for years. They had been helium containers, for blowing up balloons. They were too big to recycle locally, and it is not permitted to put them in the garbage. I did an internet search(3) to find out where
21/11/2017 • 12 minutes 11 seconds
The Autumn Blaze.
It's already the end of October, and everywhere there are signs of magic. There is no debate that this season, at least in this part of the world, is the most magical of the year. Over the space of just a few weeks, summer has melted into Autumn. Even though the temperature is cooler, the colors are warmer. Supermarkets have rows and rows of large orange pumpkins outside. The seasonal fruits and vegetables have changed from corn and zucchini, to squash and rosy apples. Shorts and t-shirts have disappeared and been replaced with long-sleeved, warmer tops, and long pants, with the occasional wooly scarf or cute wooly hat. All this change and preparation is like getting ready for a performance on stage (1): the scenery and the costumes. And of course, I can't forget to mention(2) the backdrop of all of this: the trees. We are fortunate in Wenatchee to have many of them, and a large percentage of what we have are deciduous. Orange, yellow, pink, and red are everywhere you look, and the pre
25/10/2017 • 9 minutes 13 seconds
I have recently updated my app. Some of you will be thinking, "Thank Goodness!" It was overdue (1), to say the least. Some people think that I'm quite 'techie'(2) because I have an app for smart phones and iPads, but I'm not at all. I simply supply the material, and someone else puts the app together. In fact, I wasn't even aware that an app producer needs to update the product. So how did I realize that this needed to happen? The answer is that my own app on my phone wouldn't work. "What on earth is the problem?" was my response. I would push the display button to be led only to a dark screen where my podcasts were barely visible. Well, problem solved! Frustration over! I submitted some new artwork of different dimensions, and the experts and software took care of everything else (3). So I am now pleased to be able to say that my own app works on my phone, and therefore on everyone else's. If you open the app and start to listen to a podcast, you will see five small, blue symbols belo
28/09/2017 • 8 minutes 2 seconds
An Eagle Owl.
Monreith Animal World is a small petting zoo that is just down the road from my father's house in Scotland. When I was visiting him in August, we decided to go there for a day out. My daughter is an animal-lover, so she jumped at the chance(1) to go. It was a beautiful, breezy, sunny day, so the animals were visible and active. My father and step-mother chatted with the owner when we first arrived, so Domini and I ran ahead, down the allotted(2) path that took us past all of the cages, pens, and ponds where the animals live. The petting zoo has rare species including animals which are endangered. The tour begins with unusual rabbits, chickens, and ducks, eventually leading to bigger animals like alpaca and miniature donkeys and ponies. We were able to stroke the donkeys on their long snouts, but the alpacas didn't look very friendly, so we stayed away from them. As we circled back to the entry, we went past bizarre looking turkeys and chickens, and then we saw him, - a magnificent eagl
19/09/2017 • 9 minutes 12 seconds
Face Mask Instructions.
"Very unhealthy" reads the daily smoke report on the internet for our area. I've been checking this website each day for the past week, as the smoke from state wild fires has surrounded and filled our valley. The AQI is what I look at: the air quality index. I've only just (1)found out what that means. It is a number generated by measuring the levels of four things: carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, particles, and ground ozone. Each day a new number is generated several times, so the public can know if it is safe to go out or not. The situation is very frustrating because there is nothing you can do to change it. I had planned on getting some big projects done in the garden which involved digging and mixing concrete, you know, the heavy work. So, how on earth can I get that done in a garden full of smoke? The answer is a good quality face mask. It's big, and makes me look like an astronaut, but it's worth it because it filters out 97.9 percent of airborne contaminants(2), plus the filt
07/09/2017 • 13 minutes 6 seconds
Intelligent Design 2.
From my last podcast you already heard how impressed I was with Amsterdam. What I didn't talk about was how(1) much fun it was. Another point of its 'intelligent design' enabled me to feel like a kid again: the bicycle lanes. These run parallel to regular traffic, but are totally separate. Cyclists have their own lanes and even their own traffic lights. Everybody seems to give way to the cyclists, even the pedestrians(2)! Both cars and bicycles share the road in only a few places, other than that cyclists are totally safe, riding even without helmets. There are apparently one million bicycles in Amsterdam; young and old and everyone in between use them on a daily basis. Let me tell you(3), it was so much fun! I love riding a bicycle, but it's been decades since I rode without a helmet! It was so refreshing to whizz along the beautiful canal roads, over the bridges, and past the architecture that spans from 13th to 17th century. For two days, my daughter and I rode from morning until ni
26/08/2017 • 9 minutes 19 seconds
I'm back from a trip; you might have noticed that I was gone for a few weeks. I apologize for the liberty; I do tend to(1) disappear once a year without warning my listeners. It's something that I need to do. I go in search of adventure and inspiration, so when I come back, I have interesting things to podcast about. It also makes me mysterious, don't you think? If you've been following my podcasts, you probably already know that I go back to the UK to see my family each year, and that is exactly what I did. However, this time, I took a detour and visited Amsterdam. I have always wanted to go there, and you know, from England, it is a very short flight. I took my daughter too. She is twelve, and at the perfect age, I think, to really start taking in the sights and sounds(2) of other places. So, you could say that it was a girls' trip, no boys this time. And if you ask my daughter what she liked most about the trip, she will immediately answer, "Amsterdam!" My first impression of the ci
21/08/2017 • 8 minutes 22 seconds
A Bowling Party.
Bowling is, I think, an underestimated sport. It's often just considered entertainment. The nearest bowling alley to us is across the river, and is a place for both serious entertainment and serious sport. Half of the day is devoted to parties, and includes bowling for an hour, pizza, and a huge amount of pepsi or root beer. That all comes as part of a package that you can buy online. If a member of your family, or a friend, has a birthday, for example, you can arrange the party on your computer, invite your friends, bring a cake, and have the party at the bowling alley. The other half of the day is serious bowling: High School groups or semi-professional bowlers. The professional bowlers in this country can earn between 100 and 150 thousand a year. So what might have started out as a hobby, occasionally ends up as a career! I've never met a professional bowler, and if we ever go bowling it's just for fun. My son Robert took a group of his best buddies (1)bowling a few weeks ago. They
22/07/2017 • 7 minutes 59 seconds
A Day at the Lake.
So what do you do when it is too hot outside to garden or play? If you're smart, you will call some friends, jump in the car, and go to the nearest lake. Lucky for me (1), there is a lake 45 minutes away called Lake Chelan. It is huge. It's actually 50 miles long and 1,486 ft deep (at its deepest point). There are lots of little beaches around the edge of the lake, some of which have become camping grounds. As the water comes from the mountains during the spring, it is clean and cold. Some people fish for the salmon and trout that can be found. There are always boats, including speed boats, and skidoos that whizz around. Friday was the day that we went. I invited my friend Natalia, and my daughter and her friend also came. We brought all sorts of equipment so we would be comfortable. As the temperatures here increase dramatically during the summer days, I took a four legged canopy (2) so we could have plenty of shade. Nataliya brought inflatable beds, and both of us brought a picnic. I
09/07/2017 • 8 minutes 54 seconds
Tarantula in the Garage.
Ok, I've got your attention with the title. Not everybody has a tarantula in their garage. I don't, actually. It is a temporary resident at my mother's place. She, of all people (1), does not appreciate this unwelcome visitor. She doesn't tolerate insects in general, unless of course they are ladybirds that are good for her flowers. I have memories from my childhood of hearing her yell, and then would come the sound of 'thump, thump' as she would use a shoe to squash some poor, unsuspecting(2) insect that had made the mistake of crawling into the same room as her. Bugs don't bother me that much really, the big ones do though. I once challenged myself in England to pick up a really big, black spider with my bare hands, and to throw it outside. "Look Anna," I said to myself, "it's only a spider. It's probably terrified of you. Look how much bigger you are than it!" I sort of convinced myself, even though my stomach wasn't in agreement. So I picked it off of the wall, and holding it i
28/06/2017 • 10 minutes 41 seconds
A Time For Instruments.
In the U.S, most school-aged children have a very long summer vacation indeed: two and a half months! Can you imagine? It's actually a huge relief for most of them, and an opportunity to try some activities that they haven't before. I'm a big believer in music and the benefits of playing a musical instrument. I have made a poor attempt(1) myself over the years of playing the violin; however, it is still on my list of things to accomplish. Work takes up so much time that I can't always devote time to practicing. When it comes to my children though, they have more time, and more choices. My second son, Cass, plays the piano beautifully, and simply does it because he loves it. So that leaves the other three. Domini, my daughter, bought a Ukelele yesterday and has already consulted some tutorials on Youtube. I will certainly sign her up for some classes, and hopefully get her into a routine where she can experience some success. And one of the good things about the Ukelele is that even if
20/06/2017 • 9 minutes 39 seconds
A French Addition.
I was at Pybus market a few weeks ago. It was a Saturday and the place was packed. I had gone with my mother and friend to a conference that was held in a multi-purpose(1) back room. We broke for lunch, and had an hour to do whatever we wanted to. As Pybus is basically an indoor market with restaurants and cafes, we decided to stay there for lunch and to try out a new restaurant, Pybus Bistro. We sat at the bar and chatted while the chefs prepared our food right in front of us. The place is mainly a large kitchen with a bar, and a few small tables on the periphery(2). It was both fascinating and entertaining watching the cooks fully focus on their individual activities. I love open-plan kitchens, as you can see exactly what is going on, and the cooks know that they're being watched. There was no doubt that(3) these were professionals. They were extremely clean, and worked efficiently and independently. Our food was served to us right from the pot and the chopping board, hot and fresh.
15/06/2017 • 7 minutes 46 seconds
Rattle Snake Land.
If you drive for about two hours South of Wenatchee, you come to a city called Yakima. It is another place that carries the name of the Native American Indian tribe that used to dominate that area. The journey to this city can go two ways: one is a mountain pass that is full of forest; another is a long, dry journey that seems to never end. I used both highways two weeks ago to take my daughter to a soccer tournament. Approaching Yakima, there is a wide stretch of dry land that is covered in sage brush, the bushes that grow in very dry areas. We stopped to use the bathrooms, and as I pulled up in the car, and parked in a spot that overlooked the valley, I realized that there was a sign right in front of the car that said, 'Watch for rattlesnakes.' It was like a scene out of a film, as the sun was going down to the right of the sign, and the shadows on the land were long. "We wouldn't find a sign like that in England!" I said to my daughter. The heat of Spring brings the snakes out from
01/06/2017 • 7 minutes 39 seconds
Strength and balance.
Have any of you ever rock climbed? It's not the most common activity, but(1) its popularity is growing, I think. Recently, an indoor rock climbing wall was built in Wenatchee. It is right next to a major park, and has a workout room in it, and a cafe. I went there for a coffee last week with my friend Jody. The coffee drinkers can either sit outside, or they can be at tables that are next to a large window that overlooks the climbing room. The climbing wall was busy that day, and it brought back good memories(2) to watch all the people trying hard to climb up the wall like spiders. The activity requires some strength, of course. But actually, you don't need to be very muscley. In fact, the lighter you are the better. The people who have the best physical advantage for rock climbing are those who are medium height or short, light, thin, but athletic. Flexibility also helps, as you have to reach out with your limbs to find the perfect foot hold or hand hold. The room is very attractive,
19/05/2017 • 6 minutes 33 seconds
Fresh Eggs and Goat's Milk.
Across the river from where we live is a place called 'Annie's Fun Farm'. I have written about it before, as you might remember(1). It is a corn and pumpkin farm that has entertainment, and is open to the public. My two oldest sons have worked there. In fact, a friend of my husband owns the farm. He has had it for a few years, and each year he adds new items of interest to draw in the public. This year he is introducing animals: a family of goats, turkeys, and chickens. This new addition will make the farm into what we call a 'Petting Zoo', which means a place where people can come and feed and pet the animals. My son Cass worked there on Saturday and brought home eggs and goats milk. "Mum, I even got to(2) milk the goat!" He handed me a container of the milk and I inspected it carefully. It was white, and there were no unidentifiable(3)things floating in it, so I said, "Ok, let's try it!" "Are you sure?" he asked. "Of course, " I replied, "I trust in my healthy immune system and stro
11/05/2017 • 6 minutes 8 seconds
People Watching at the Carnival.
People watching is something that I love to do whenever I can. There are only certain places where it is appropriate to do so, I suppose. Looking at other people could be seen as insensitive; after all who likes to be stared at? The places where you can get away with it without bothering people tend to be very busy, like airports or shopping centers. Carnivals are also perfect for this strange pastime. I took my daughter and her friend to the Apple Blossom carnival so they could go on the rides. It was packed with people. All the different rides added color and movement, and of course there was lots of noise, mainly screaming. As the big metal machines whizzed(1a) around dangerously, the expressions on people's faces changed from happy to terrified. Hair that normally obeys the laws of gravity stood up vertically as bodies went zooming(1b) towards the ground. Even those who weren't on the rides were very entertaining to watch. They were tall, short, fat, thin, dark, light, well-dresse
08/05/2017 • 9 minutes 43 seconds
April, - The Month for Children.
I learned recently that April here in the States is the national child abuse prevention month. I had no idea that this was the case, until I saw a lady putting hundreds of blue pinwheels on the grass in a local park. The blue pinwheel has come to represent the commitment of legislation and the community to encourage educated and compassionate treatment of children. This is close to my heart(1), as I have four children. As I read through the literature on this movement, I was happy to find that since 1974, the government has passed laws and created funding to protect children. One of the most progressive ways is, of course, educating young people who have newborns. Often, teenagers lack the knowledge of how to look after a baby physically and emotionally. They might not understand the signals or 'cues'(2) that a baby gives that communicate its needs. One solution that offers tremendous support for the young parent is home visitation by parenting professionals. They can observe, encourag
27/04/2017 • 7 minutes 51 seconds
A budding photographer.
For my podcasts I usually always add a photograph, to show what I am talking about. For years I carried around a cheap little camera with me, on the off-chance(1) of seeing something worth photographing. Now, I use my iPhone. Of course it's very convenient to have a phone and a camera all in one device. Recently, I have realized that my 12 year old daughter is a very good photographer, much better than me. I will often take a photo and then say, "Domini could you take one so I can use it on my blog?" She is proud that I defer(2) to her to get the best result. She seems to have 'the eye' for the job. If I take a photo of a flower, for example, she will improve upon(3) it by taking the same photo but from a different angle. She notices what is in the background, the foreground, and the light. She also very quickly chooses filters on the phone that bring out the best of the subject. And then she finishes off by cropping the photo, to cut out anything that is unnecessary. I suppose she has
24/04/2017 • 6 minutes 58 seconds
The Great Bagel.
While my family and I were spending time in Seattle, we went to a bagel company for brunch. The company is called , and they are based in Redmond. We weren't sure what to expect; we were simply hoping for some good food. We pulled the car into a small area of businesses near the circus tent where we had been the night before. The building was very basic, in fact, when I walked in, it reminded me of a warehouse(1), rather than a bakery. Its walls were made of corrugated iron(2), and its seating arrangement was basic and understated. But, as you know, first impressions can easily be wrong; you can't judge a book by its cover(3). The bakers in this place were definitely bagel experts. Not only did the whole building smell like fresh, yummy bread, but there were dozens of different kinds of bagels to choose from, all within reach. They had sesame, egg, pumpernickel, cranberry orange, and even snickerdoodle, which is traditionally a sugar-cinnamon cookie. There were many others as well, a h
17/04/2017 • 8 minutes 17 seconds
Cirque du Soleil
Last week was vacation for the whole school district. It's a time we call Spring Break. It is a much needed rest for students, teachers, and principals. I had wanted to do something special with the family; I have always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, so I thought perhaps that would be a feasible(1) trip. Unfortunately, I lost track of time and was too late to make any arrangements. Also, my oldest son, Hudson, goes to the local junior college and didn't have the same vacation schedule. So, it looked like the only way we could have a family trip would be to spend the weekend away somewhere. I got online and looked for special events. It just so happened(2) that the Cirque du Soleil was going to be in Redmond which is in the Seattle area. I booked the tickets, and before we knew it we were there, under a big tent that was packed with people. In front of the crowd was a circular stage, above which hung all sorts of equipment. The lights were dimmed, and some characters came out dresse
12/04/2017 • 7 minutes 45 seconds
I was in Seattle last week visiting colleges with my oldest son, Hudson. We happened to be quite near the Space Needle, in an area of the city that is now nicknamed Amazonia because of the amount of buildings there that belong to the company Amazon. I love looking at architecture and analyzing structures, but it's not every day that(1) I get to photograph round, glass buildings. Well, there were three of them contrasting elegantly with the tall dark buildings around them. When they are finished in 2018, they will be 65,000 square feet of biosphere, filled with about 3000 plants, 300 of which are endangered species. This oasis of sorts(2) will not, however, be open to the public. It will be Amazon's gift to its employees. It is well known that plants in any room reduce stress, improve air quality, and increase a person's creativity. Studies in England and Australia have also demonstrated that offices that have plants increase productivity by 15% and creativity by 45%. So these biosphere
01/04/2017 • 7 minutes 56 seconds
I have discovered a place where I like to spend time. It's a strange, little cafe called Bella Bistro. I come here as often as I can to write my podcasts, and to work on my other projects. They have food, of course, and some of the best coffee in town. I called it 'a strange' cafe because it is shaped like a triangle, hemmed in(1) my three roads, and still has large metal garage doors, as it used to be a mechanic's workshop. I think those characteristics make it appealing. It buzzes with activity as people of all ages come here to meet their friends or work on their laptops. Usually when I write, I need peace and quiet. I find it hard to concentrate at home when my dogs are playing and people are coming and going(2). However, for some reason I can really focus at Bella Bistro, even with the human activity and background music. The design is simple: rustic with lots of windows. It has a great internet connection, and the ladies who own it and serve the food are fast and energetic. It a
23/03/2017 • 8 minutes 51 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #45 + Interactive English.
Olma: Liz, a package arrived for you today. Liz: Oh thanks. Let me see. Oh it's from England, from my friend Steve in York. I think I know what it is. Olma: What is it? I'm dying to know! Liz: Do you remember me talking to you about him studying archeology in York, and all the things he has found? Olma: Oh, Steve, yes! He's so lucky, going on all those archeological digs! Liz: I know. There are so many artifacts in York and the surrounding area that he promised that he would send me something. And here it is. It's small and wrapped up really well. Olma: Oh hurry up! I can't wait to see what it is. Liz: Beads. And his card says that they are Roman beads found at an excavation site. I feel really honored! You've seen a lot of ancient artifacts haven't you Olma. Olma: Yes, Mexico is full of them, as you can imagine. Our ancient peoples, the Maya, the Aztec, and others, were very inventive and left artifacts all over the place, not just in the famous pyramids! Try for convenient English
14/03/2017 • 11 minutes 54 seconds
I have made multiple trips to the supermarket over the past two months to buy glue, shaving foam, liquid starch, and food coloring. Multiple. It's because of a hobby that my daughter has adopted: she makes slime. Slime, I suppose, is the general term used for a moist, gelatinous paste that is made simply to play with. There are many kinds of slime, which is something that I have learned by watching my daughter while she is mixing the ingredients and chatting to me about their consistencies and names. Slime is used just for fun, to squeeze, mould, or even throw at people. It makes a mess most of the time, unless it is a 'fluffy' slime which though appears wet and gooey, is actually fairly dry to touch. When she first discovered slime on Youtube, her mixing sessions in the kitchen were a disaster and chaotic. I would find slime in various places, open containers, and a sink full of used bowls and pots. However, thankfully she has become more responsible about cleaning up. She also has de
10/03/2017 • 9 minutes 28 seconds
The Kennewick Man.
Two and a half hours drive from where I live is a small city called Kennewick. It is similar to other towns in Washington State that are east of the Cascade mountains; it is dry, flat, and has a climate that is close to that of a desert. In this area, at a park next to the Columbia river, two men came across an intact(1) skull just ten feet from the shore. The whole skeleton was excavated soon afterwards. As scientists studied it, they found that it was the most intact and well preserved skeleton of any ancient tribesman of the Americas. But who was this man, and which tribe had he belonged to? Five Native American tribes claimed that he belonged to one of them, and therefore legally the skeleton needed to be returned to his land of origin and given a proper burial. These tribes are: the Colville, Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce, and Wanapum. A court case developed because of this. The man had been found on federal land, and so the 'Kennewick man', as he was named, became the property of t
07/03/2017 • 8 minutes 11 seconds
Handymen and Handywomen.
I consider myself fortunate to have my mother living in the same town. Her home is just five minutes away from mine by car. Every now and then she asks me to help her with something, and as I like to think of myself as a 'handy woman', I will quickly say "yes", grab my tools, and drive over to her house. So she decided that because she likes to read in bed, she wanted to mount(1) two lamps to her bedroom wall, one on either side of the bed. Thankfully there wasn't any complicated electrical work to worry about. The lamps would actually plug into the socket(2/3), and their electrical wires would run neatly down the wall, hidden inside a tube. Simple. So I turned up, full of enthusiasm, ready to figure it all out. As I laid out all the different parts of the lamps on her bed, I realized that the job would take longer than I had expected. The end of each wire had no plug. I would have to attach a very simple, flimsy version that came in a plastic bag, and hope for the best. "Where's the d
02/03/2017 • 10 minutes 39 seconds
A Salon Rescue.
I'm recovering. It was a shock, you know. I'm talking about my experience at the hair dresser's. Okay, I'll give you some background. I have naturally very dark brown hair, fine, medium length. So, last year, as I realized that I had a few white hairs announcing themselves quite loudly from amongst the dark hairs, I decided to have some highlights. I happened to be in Seattle at the time, and I had a few hours to kill, so I walked into a salon and walked out two hours later with gorgeous, natural looking highlights. The story is great so far. The trouble with highlights, or any kind of hair coloring, is that it grows out in a few months. Now, a smart person is supposed to realize this, take it into account(1), and therefore make an appointment two or three months ahead to get new coloring. I didn't. I don't know what I was thinking. Perhaps I assumed that an angel would appear in my hour of need and give me some divine highlights, just like that. Well, the angel was late, so I went int
28/02/2017 • 12 minutes 46 seconds
They say that America runs on coffee. It is the drink that gets people awake and focused for another day of work. I personally have two cups each morning. Of course, most of the coffee consumed in the U.S is grown in Columbia and Brazil. In recent years, coffee drinking has become fashionable amongst young people. Chains of coffee shops have sprung up(1) all over the country, each with their own style and marketing. One of the American chains that has gone global is Starbucks. I have seen it evolve from a Seattle based coffee shop to the largest coffeehouse company in the world. It seems almost unbelievable(2) that it is in 62 countries and is still growing. So why is it so popular? It's appeal lies in(3) its quality roast and its elegant surroundings. It is a place where it is pleasant to linger. The muted, earthy colors of its decor, and relaxing selection of music draw people to not only relax and chat over coffee, but also to do work on their laptops, or even to have small busines
20/02/2017 • 8 minutes 4 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #44 + Interactive English.
Liz: Hi Mum. Mother: Hello darling, how are you? Liz: Fine thanks, and you? Mother: Oh, really well thanks. How is your class selection going? Liz: Fine. I met with my school counselor, and he showed me which classes I have to complete by the end of the year, and which ones I can choose as electives. Mother: Anything interesting? (1)Liz: Well, yes. Even though I'm in a psychology program, I can still take an elective or two. (2)History of art really appeals to me; it might even help with my major. Mother: Yes, it'll help you understand how thoughts and attitudes have developed in society. It'll also give you a break from so much heavy thinking! I would certainly do it. You'll probably learn a lot more from it than you realize. Liz: Yes, that's how I feel about it too. I still have a week to make my final choices. I'll let you know once I've made them. 1a. Subject 'he' + 'a business man', + verb 'to continue' + with his hobbies. b. Subject 'they' + past + science, + time to paint. 2.
16/02/2017 • 10 minutes 10 seconds
A Spring Princess.
It's the time of year when everyone is thinking about the Spring. As the big machines pile up the remaining snow into huge piles in the parking areas, we find ourselves longing for(1) a more pleasant season, and greenery and flowers. Preparations are being made for life beyond the snow. Bulbs and seeds can be found again in the home centers, new Spring fashions are appearing in the shops, and soccer clubs are starting their practices in whichever gyms are available(2). Even though we still have a couple of months of winter weather, we know what is coming next, and we are waiting anxiously for it to come. As we celebrate the blossoming of apple trees in Spring, we also choose three young ladies to represent the Wenatchee Valley. They are from High School, and have to compete to be voted for. It is like an election campaign. They are judged on their character, intellect, community involvement, and future goals. It is quite different from a beauty contest, thankfully. It isn't just the(3)
14/02/2017 • 6 minutes 42 seconds
Mathematics is one of the foundations of education, with some people being inclined towards(1) it, and others finding it quite difficult. My sons seem to have a natural ability, including my youngest, Robert, who is in middle school. He has just started an online Algebra 1 course. Even though they do offer Algebra 1 in his school, he missed the admittance grade by one point. He was so disappointed, as he knew that he was capable of learning Algebra. As he had expressed his disappointment to me several times, I asked him if he would like to sign up for a course. "You will have to do the work at home, right? You do realize(2) that it's your responsibility?" I asked him. He answered "yes" to all of my questions, so before I knew it, I had found a recommended site, paid, and received the curriculum. "Things are certainly different nowadays," I thought to myself. And it's true; our children have so many options that weren't available when I was young(3). At the High School meeting I went to
09/02/2017 • 8 minutes 17 seconds
There is so much good news around that we often don't hear. Very soon, for only the second time in history, a human infectious disease will be eradicated: Polio. I remember receiving my oral vaccination for this disease when I was in secondary school, but, at the time, I had no idea what it was, nor(1) had I ever been around anyone who had suffered from it's symptoms. Being infected with this disease at a young age can result in paralysis, and it is also highly contagious. However, without most of us knowing, 155 countries have been working together in a monumental effort(2) to vaccinate all children. They have done such a good job that over the past 30 years, the cases have dropped 99.9%, with the actual number last year being about 40. There is a risk of recontamination, however, if some children are not immunized and left undetected in rural communities. Therefore, the World Health Organization, Rotary International, Unicef, and their partners have mobilized an army of volunteers, s
01/02/2017 • 9 minutes 17 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #43 + 'th' practice.
Emilie: Liz, this packing is exhausting! Liz: I know. I didn't realize that I had so much stuff! Look at all of these boxes. Those over there are so heavy. I'm getting quite thirsty with all of this packing and lifting, my thigh muscles are getting a good workout! Emilie: This will be the third time that we've loaded up the car. It was so thoughtful of Peter to give us all of these cardboard boxes. Liz: I know. Hopefully there'll be just one more trip. Emilie: This box is really heavy. Do you need all of these books? They're nothing to do with your course. What do we have here? There's a book on the theater, one on theology, and a thin one on therapies of different kinds. Liz: You know, I'm such a hoarder. I don't like to get rid of anything! Thinking about it, I could donate those three because I'll never read them again. Emilie: Alright! Liz is becoming a minimalist, finally! Liz: Oh no, think again lady; I definitely like my stuff. Hey, after we load up the car, I'll invite you to a
27/01/2017 • 14 minutes 11 seconds
Culture, - acculturation.
When I first came to live in Wenatchee, the town was very small. That was 25 years ago. I had just moved over here, and I was in shock, as I had lived in London for 3 years and was totally comfortable there. You could describe me at that time as being 'a fish out of water'. I experienced a major culture shock. Although I found the people here friendly, they seemed to be unaware of a lot of the world. Not many people from this town traveled anywhere else, unless they had to. As the town had started with fruit orchards, the people here had been tied to(1) the land, and as a result had stayed locally for the most part(2). London, on the other hand, was and still is(3) the vast, multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan hub of England, with a constant flow of people into and out of the city. I remember walking along one of the streets in Wenatchee feeling stripped of everything that was comfortable: architecture, history, greenery, and a mix of ethnicities. In fact, people were staring at me from their c
26/01/2017 • 10 minutes 28 seconds
Visitors from all continents.
A market that is in the center of Wenatchee and that is popular with both locals and tourists is Pybus Market. It is open 362 days a year, and is an indoor mixture of open fresh fruit and meet stalls, gift shops, and restaurants. There is also regular musical entertainment, and even dance lessons! During the nice weather, it has an open market in the parking area, where local growers sell fruit, vegetables, flowers, and baked goods. It is a great place to go to in the winter as well, as you can walk around inside, keep warm, eat, and get some entertainment. I had no idea, however, how well known it actually is. You know when you live somewhere, in a way, you take it for granted(1). I have my perspective about Wenatchee, but I am a local(2) (and a foreign transplant). I am not aware of the numbers of tourists who come here each year. There is a display area(3) in Pybus Market that has large maps of each continent. Each map has many different colored pins in various places that have been
25/01/2017 • 8 minutes 10 seconds
Today was an important, historic day here in the U.S. Today the President-elect, Donald Trump, was inaugurated. This means that a ceremony was performed at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, where he took an oath (made a promise) to serve the country as its president. This ceremony is the beginning of his presidency, the beginning of his 4 year term in office. The word 'inauguration' comes from the Latin word 'inaugurare' which means to install or consecrate when omens are good. Omens, as you might know, are signs that we see in the natural world that are supposed to reflect luck or good fortune. So, the inauguration is a tradition of promises, rituals, and hope for the future. The person who leads the new President through his oath is the Chief Justice who is the head of the nine Supreme Justices or judges of the Supreme Court which is the highest court in the country. Among the people watching the ceremony are previous presidents, obviously Barack Obama, and also a few others. A
20/01/2017 • 5 minutes 40 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #42 + Interactive English.
Peter's cell phone rings: "Hello." "Peter, it's Liz" "Oh, hi Liz, you don't usually call me. What's up?" "Actually, I really need your help. My car broke down. Thankfully I'm in the parking lot of a highway cafe. I stopped to get gas, and when I tried to start the car, nothing happened." "Have you asked anyone to jump the battery?" "I would have but there's no one here! It's just me." (1)"How about you text me your location. How far do you think you are from the college?" "Only three miles. (2)I'm sorry to ask you, but I didn't know who else to call." "No problem; never hesitate to call me if you need help." "Thanks Peter, I really appreciate it. (3)I was beginning to worry as it's so late." "Look, just stay in the car, keep warm, and I'll be there soon. I'm leaving right now." Try now for live English practice with a native teacher.
19/01/2017 • 12 minutes 25 seconds
A Vegan Option.
Vegetarianism is growing in the U.S at a dramatic rate. It is estimated that 16 million, out of the population of 320 million people, are now vegetarian, and the number is probably much higher as not all of them have been counted. Half of those vegetarians are vegans who eat no animal products whatsoever(1). This is an unusual, counter-culture trend(2) for this country, as so much of the general culture's diet includes meat and animal products. As you probably know, there is a health crisis here in the States. Obesity, cancer, and diabetes are accepted as normal. Most of this stems from(3) a huge consumption of sugar and a stressed and sedentary lifestyle. However, there is also more information available to people, and many are taking control and making healthier choices. Even the schools are trying to reduce the amount of sugar that they serve the children, and are also including more vegetables in their lunches. There is much work to be done and a long way to go before the young ge
17/01/2017 • 9 minutes 19 seconds
An Awkward Phone Call.
In your country, do you have many telemarketers? You know, the people you don't know who call you on the phone and try to convince you to buy something. Well, in this country they are like a plague (no offense intended if you are one!). Most people I know will tell me of difficult experiences that they've had with telemarketers who are pushy, or over enthusiastic to the point of being bizarre. It must be a difficult job, I think, to approach a stranger by phone, often while he's at home, and to try and sell him something. I'm not a natural salesperson, and being pushy is not me at all. I don't think I would be very good at it. I have, however, had a lot of experience of awkward telephone conversations with telemarketers. As an English person, I try to be polite. That's not to say(1) that all English are polite. But in general, our society does train us to offer politeness on a daily basis to strangers and to people we know. I think it comes from a general desire to avoid conflict and t
13/01/2017 • 10 minutes 18 seconds
What have you never experienced?
The title question for this podcast might seem unusual. A more normal question would be, "What have you experienced?" My choice of words was inspired by a conversation that I had with a friend of mine from Bangladesh, Suman. He told me that because his country is warm and tropical, that he and his countrymen have no experience of snow. A friend of his now lives in Japan, and was able to describe to him how amazing and beautiful this white phenomenon is. Having never experienced(1) it before, it was a surprising and pleasant shock. I searched online to find out how many people, similarly, have never experienced snow. Well, I only came up with(2) a rough estimate, as nobody can be absolutely sure of the number. About 40% of the world's population has never seen snow in person. The areas that get no snow are equatorial South America and Africa, and the desert areas of the Middle East. This made me think of natural phenomena that I have never experienced. Coming from England, a green, cool
10/01/2017 • 9 minutes 18 seconds
Sleeping Lady Skating.
"Anna, do you want to go cross country skiing in Leavenworth tomorrow?" was the text I received from my friend Nataliya on Sunday. I thought about it for a few minutes. The lazy part of my brain thought, "Oh, just stay at home. It's cold, and you only have one day left of vacation." However, the better part of my brain thought, "You must go. It'll be fun, you'll spend time with your friend, and who knows when you will have another opportunity like this?" So I texted back, "Yes!" As Leavenworth is only twenty five minutes away, it's really not a hassle to get there. I had my skis, poles, boots, and warm clothes ready in the car when Nataliya turned up at seven the next morning. It was still dark. The neighborhood was perfectly silent, and my outside Christmas lights twinkled against the snow on the trees. I felt as though I was escaping! We arrived at The Sleeping Lady resort and parked in the skiing area. The pathways and ski tracks had been freshly groomed(1). I brought my skate skis,
04/01/2017 • 9 minutes 27 seconds
The Best Santa Ever?
Every year, at about this time, I start to put away the Christmas decorations little by little. The whole process usually takes me about two months. Yes, two months. Why? Well, it's because I deliberately(1) delay it. I don't like saying goodbye to the Christmas period, nor do I like going back to a plain looking house that's no longer full of color and sparkle. Once I actually left our plastic tree up until March which was, admittedly, ridiculous. The winters are long and quite dark, and I try to compensate for(2) that by having cheerful lights and decorations for as long as possible. Also, I'm full of nostalgia during the winter months and so I try to extend that feeling of winter wonder for as long as possible. So I was sorting through my Christmas photos at the kitchen table, deciding which ones I should use for my podcasts, when I came across one of a happy, fat man dressed in red. Yes, you guessed, it was Santa. He was one of the hundreds of thousands of hired Santas that you fin
04/01/2017 • 10 minutes 9 seconds
A Sudden Freeze.
Recently the landscape here turned into a winter wonderland(1). It snowed for two days in a row, and transformed the whole area into a white fairytale. During my coffee break, I walked out of the school and found that the sun was shining brightly while the snow was still falling. How was that possible? Everybody seemed happy. The school children were excited, and even the teachers were more lively than usual. It was quite magical. Well, that lasted for a day. Today was a different situation altogether(2). It was dull and freezing, -5 degrees C. And what made it worse was that the wind was blowing. Ouch that felt icy on my face! Later I noticed in town that some people were well prepared for the weather. They were bundled up in winter clothes, lots of woolens, and their heads, necks, and hands were wrapped up. Some people, however, had been caught out(3). They were the ones who were walking quickly with their heads down trying to avoid the wind. Their skinny jackets offered no protectio
14/12/2016 • 8 minutes 57 seconds
An Unknown Artist.
'Never judge a book by its cover' is a saying that we have in English that you can apply to so many areas. If you think about it, in order to judge a book, you have to open it and read it, not just look at the cover. If you make an assumption about the book based on what it looks like, your judgment is likely(1) to be wrong. I was guilty of this when I went to an estate sale. First of all, let me explain that an estate sale is different from a yard sale. It is the selling of the entire contents of a house because either the owner is going to move, or has died. There was one of these sales last weekend very close to my house. I was in two minds about going; there always seems to be something else that I could be doing. But, I felt like looking for treasure for a few minutes, so I went. As I approached the house my expectations lowered. It was a small, run down place that had peeling paint, a rotten carpet on the porch steps, and a dingy(2) garage which, though it was open, was as dark a
24/11/2016 • 10 minutes 44 seconds
London, The Lovers' Statue.
On my recent trip to London, I met up with a dear friend of mine who I hadn't seen for at least three years, Sarah. We met in university and have been close ever since. Since she lives in London, and I was passing through on my way to Spain, we decided to meet up at King's Cross station and find a place to have dinner. The weather had turned really cold that day, and I wound my scarf around my neck to keep out the cold while I waited for her outside of the station. There were the usual London crowds of all sizes, shapes, colors, and humors which I love to be part of, so I lost myself in 'people watching'(1) when suddenly I heard a voice say, "Anna!" We threw our arms around each other and giggled like college girls again. It was so good to see her. She suggested that we eat in St. Pancras station. I had actually not been there since the big renovation 9 years ago. It is a massive place that is used by 50 million travelers each year. There is a lower floor that is filled with elegant sh
23/11/2016 • 9 minutes 17 seconds
Sue's Creative Cooking.
"I love to cook," said Sue as she passed me my plate. It was early evening, and the Scottish farmhouse kitchen was filled with delicious smells of fresh seafood with a hint(1) of spice. We were warm, tired, but content after a day spent walking on a hidden beach with the colors of Autumn looking over us from the adjacent forest. I was ready for this meal, and I knew that it would be good. What I hadn't expected was its presentation. "What?" I exclaimed as I saw the huge oyster shell stuffed with shrimp and mussels in a creamy sauce, with garden herbs and a flower on top. "Good grief, this is gormet," I commented, a little unsure of whether or not(2) I should actually eat it; it looked too pretty. Sue does love to cook, and every time I come and visit my father and step-mother, she quickly throws together flavors and textures of food that are satisfying, memorable, and as colorful as her oil paintings. "I always cook what I like," she said, emphasizing the "I". "And it's just as well(3)
07/11/2016 • 8 minutes 53 seconds
Do you tangle with Zen?
Have you ever wondered around Youtube, looking for inspiration? I did a few years ago, and I stumbled upon(1) an activity called Zentangle. It is an art form that really suits everybody. Let me explain. A 'tangle' is a pattern that doesn't have to look like anything in particular(2); it is a simple pattern, repeated over the paper. It's similar to 'doodling' which is when a person draws any random shapes, connected or not, as a way of relaxing. There are no expectations of drawing a particular object or scene, just shapes. Well, a Zentangle is a collection of several different patterns on a small paper (usually 3.5 inches squared). The 'Zen' part of this practice is that a person is completely free to choose the patterns, style, and combinations, and to simply enjoy the process. There is no stress involved, no expectations of artistry or perfection. In fact, it has been proven that tangling reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and increases focus and happiness. Amazing! It seems to w
28/10/2016 • 10 minutes 33 seconds
Photos by the river.
The Riverfront Park is a great asset(1)that we enjoy in our community. It opened about the same year that I came to live here. It’s focus, as you can tell by the name, is the Columbia river. This wide and deep body of water starts in Canada, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It travels about 1,200 miles, through to Washington State and Oregon and then it flows into the Pacific Ocean. So, Wenatchee is actually one of the many towns that it flows through. It is very pleasant to walk or bike next to the river, especially during the Autumn. Often in the morning, there is a slight mist rising from the surface of the water before the day heats up. The leaves on the deciduous trees have changed to yellow, orange, red, pink, or brown. You could say that it’s a perfect spot for photography. And that is probably why I received a phone call two weeks ago from the High School Photography teacher, asking if I could accompany a group of students to the Riverfront Park. Their field trip(2) was plan
20/10/2016 • 11 minutes 7 seconds
Rules and expectations.
As I work in the schools in Wenatchee, I notice lots of things about the school culture. Each school here has its own mascot. Foothills Middle School, for example, has the Falcons. Any child who represents the school in any way, whether in sports, mathematics, art or anything else, is called a Falcon. Other mascots in the area are: The Wenatchee High School Panthers, the Eastmont Wild Cats, and the Pioneer Middle School Bears. Mascots help to create a sense of belonging to a group in each school. Another thing that helps children feel like they belong to a school is a set of guidelines, or rules. Recently, the school district has adopted(1) a framework of positive ideas about behavior at school. Each school uses this framework to make up its own expectations in the form of a mnemonic. An example from Foothills is: S - solve problems O - opt for excellence A - always make good decisions R - respect self, others, and environment So, I suppose, you could say that each school tries to est
03/10/2016 • 8 minutes 51 seconds
Oh yoga, yoga, yoga! It's such a passion of mine. And I started doing yoga only recently. I have found it to be so beneficial in so many ways: it gets rid of my stress, it loosens my joints, and it strengthens me, but gently. Why didn't I start it years ago? I sometimes turn on Youtube and do yoga in my lounge. However, my favorite place to do yoga, so far, is the WRAC, which stands for Wenatchee Racket and Athletic Club. It's a friendly gym with a host of different classes, and very experienced teachers. You can do anything from tennis, squash, swimming, and aerobics, to yoga, dance, and tai chi(1). I love it. Sometimes I will use some exercise equipment like a treadmill for an aerobic exercise, and then I'll finish my session by lifting weights. My favorite activity though is yoga. Now, for a few weeks, there have been renovations taking place throughout the building. A whole new exercise equipment room has been built, and the construction continues. When I walked into the yoga room
20/09/2016 • 10 minutes 49 seconds
A Country Party.
The end of summer is one of the best times to have a party, especially if it's in the evening. The hot summer days give way to slightly cooler but long summer nights. You can linger(1) outside, barbecue, or even dance. And if you want to do what a friend of mine did, you can have a big country party. Kim and her boyfriend Casey both turned(2) 50 this year, so they decided to have a big 'bash'. They have a house with a large front garden where they usually ride a 4-wheeler for fun. They converted this place over a two week period into a cowboy-style venue for their celebration. Kim bought hay bales to put here and there for people to sit on. They built a dance floor out of apple pallets (which are strong, flat wooden boxes used in the apple industry). They strung lights all over the dance floor, the trees, and the fence. And then, they hired some caterers(3) to cook and serve a barbecue style meal, plus a birthday cake. The band they hired was actually very good; they played a lot of Am
13/09/2016 • 8 minutes 8 seconds
WSU Vet Hospital.
Washington State University veterinary hospital is a place that is renowned throughout the state for being the best place to treat animals who have diseases. It is located in a small town called Pullman, in rolling, tree covered hills. All around it, however, are miles and miles of dry wheat fields, and so the town forms a kind of oasis. We went to Pullman two weeks ago because our rottweiler needed an operation. It was a first experience for me in many ways. First of all, I had no idea that Pullman was so famous, or that it was a three hour drive. Secondly, I am not used to having rottweilers. I love our dog, Chucho. He is well behaved and getting well trained. However, I was not prepared for his reaction to the hospital or the staff. We arrived at about 10:30, having left at 6am. Chucho didn't sleep all the way; he just panted, and wanted to put his head out of the window. He wasn't allowed to eat anything either, so by the time we arrived, he was obviously feeling anxious. He went i
05/09/2016 • 8 minutes 26 seconds
Boeing: The Future of Flight 2.
The tour of Boeing started with us being bussed to the building where the seven hundred series of planes are made, particularly the 747s. It is the largest building in the world, measuring 13,385,378 cubic meters. It has several entrances, several floors, and, of course, huge double doors through which the new planes can be rolled out. Our guide told us so many facts that I actually stopped listening; I just wanted to watch the men and women working on these huge planes. I did, however, pick up some information. The wings of the 747, for example, can hold up to 57,000 gallons of fuel. I saw that every piece of large equipment either had wheels or hung from the ceiling. This was because as the planes develop and get bigger, equipment needs to move out of the way. And, the day that a new plane leaves, a clear path must be made for it to get out of the building. The Boeing plant is in Everett which is to the north of Seattle. It has been there since 1943, the giant factory being planned
22/08/2016 • 7 minutes 17 seconds
Boeing: The Future of Flight 1.
I found myself in Seattle for the third or fourth time this summer on Monday. It was time to take my cousin to the airport for his flight back to Mallorca. He had asked to go to the Boeing plant to see the planes being made. "Sounds like a good idea," I replied, remembering that, years ago, I had visited the second, smaller Boeing plant in the south of Seattle. We arrived at 4pm, early enough to look around the Museum of Flight. It is an impressive, modern display of the science behind flight, and how it is continually developing and improving. There were displays that people could interact with which demonstrated the physics of flying. Airplanes hung from the ceiling. A part of one plane was sliced open to show all the components of a typical plane. There was even a Lamborghini, yes a Lambourghini. It was there to demonstrate the need for aerodynamics in cars as well as planes. It also showed the advances in materials like carbon fiber. My cousin, my daughter, and her friend climbed i
19/08/2016 • 7 minutes 54 seconds
Let's go with Pokemon Go!
Did you know that the First Lady of the U.S, Michelle Obama, has been trying for years to get people exercising? Over a third of people in the U.S, including children, are obese. This is an epidemic, and a huge national problem which leads to all sorts of medical complications and expense. However, something has taken the nation by storm(1) which is getting people of all shapes and sizes outside walking, running, skateboarding, and biking. It's Pokemon Go. It has become a craze. The most unlikely(2) people, those who would normally be at home sitting in front of a computer, are out walking along the streets, or moving around in parks looking for Pokemon creatures. The game came out in July, and had 80 million downloads in the first week. It is a free game that is location based and uses augmented reality, which means a view of the real world with a touch of fantasy added to it. Players download the game on to their phones, they create an account with a personalized avatar, and then the
03/08/2016 • 8 minutes 34 seconds
An Interview at Scalar Learning.
I look through my emails each day to see if anyone who listens to my podcasts has written to me. I was doing that last week when I came across an email that took me by surprise(1). It was an invitation to be a guest speaker on an educational podcast called Scalar Learning. I immediately looked up the website, and found a very professional, mathematics focused site that offers both tutoring and regular podcasts. Well, how could I say "no"? I was intrigued and flattered(2). I sent an email back to say that I would love to be interviewed. We went back and forth(3) until we agreed upon a day and time. I told all of my children, "Now, this is very important, so I need you all to be quiet for half an hour. Is that possible?" They nodded. "I'll be up in the bedroom, so it will be nice and quiet. You can play or watch television, but please, I don't want banging or crashing or dogs barking, ok?" I think they got the message(4). The time for the interview came, and I was quite nervous. Huzefa,
28/07/2016 • 9 minutes 15 seconds
A Visiting Student.
The number of people in my house has grown from six to seven recently. A young man from Spain has come to spend six weeks with us. He is no ordinary young man; he's actually my second cousin, and is here to spend time with this side of the family, and of course, to learn English. Thankfully, he is the same age as my youngest son, and is very fun-loving. I'm sure that he will pick up(1) a lot of English while he plays with my kids. That was actually how I picked up a lot of Spanish when I was a child. My mother would take me to Mallorca in Spain, to spend about a month in the summers. Because children play so much, and are less inhibited than adults, they absorb language like little sponges. Well, that's what happened to me, and I'm very thankful for the experience. So far(2), we have taken my cousin to Seattle for a couple of days, and down to a local river to look for gold. Today, I plan on taking him to the museum in the town of Cashmere which is excellent. He will get his first view
13/07/2016 • 8 minutes 12 seconds
A better way to waste.
With the fire season approaching, we have been preparing our back garden. My husband trimmed off some old, dead branches from our pine trees. These trees are notorious for(1) burning easily because they are both dry and oily. Most of the horrendous fires that make international news are those of pine or fir forests which are both conifers. We have seen this kind of devastation in Canada recently, in Alberta. To avoid as many fires as possible, it is always best to clear forest floors of dead wood, dry bushes, and diseased trees. There is a new community effort in Wenatchee to do the same in as many places as possible to avoid the problems that we had last year. So, the garden is clear, but what do we do with the huge pile of branches and pine needles? "Take everything down to Stemilt Organic Recycling Center on Columbia street" my husband texted me early in the morning. I didn't even know that this place existed. I've lived here for over twenty years, and I'm still discovering things a
01/07/2016 • 10 minutes 36 seconds
Brexit or Pumpkin Cake?
I'm a little nervous today. It is a very important day for the UK, as it is the Brexit referendum. Most informed people will know that UK citizens will vote today to either leave the European Union or to remain in it. This isn't a small issue(1). The country is divided on the subject. I have been reading about it and watching videos, some that are for leaving and others that are against it. To be quite honest(2), my head is spinning with all the information. I find it difficult to get on with other activities like cooking and cleaning, because I really want to know the result, and have a clear idea about the consequences of leaving or staying. I had planned to make a pumpkin cake yesterday. I had the ingredients on the kitchen counter, and the recipe. It would be a simple treat to make for my family, but every time I approached the cans of pumpkins, I would immediately turn around and surf the internet for more information about Brexit. How can I think about pumpkin cake now, when the
23/06/2016 • 8 minutes 55 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #41 + Interactive English.
Peter: Hi Liz. What are you looking at? Liz: Oh, hi Peter. I'm looking through some information about cars. It's about time I bought one, but I'm quite fussy. I don't want to spend a lot of money, but there are certain things that I definitely want. Peter: What kind are you after? Liz: Well, I'd like a hybrid. Eventually when I'm working, I don't want to spend a fortune on gas. Other than that, I'd like a medium size, four-door that is reliable and safe. Peter: Why don't I go with you to some dealerships and we can have a look? I know a lot about cars, you know. Liz: Ha! Why is it that men know so much more than women (do) about cars? Peter: It's probably because we're really interested in them....Anyway, I can protect you from the greedy salesmen who want you to spend too much money. Liz: Yes, protect me, please!
18/06/2016 • 12 minutes 11 seconds
The most popular sport in the world is seen everywhere these days in Wenatchee. As you drive around the town, most days of the week, you can see colorful teams of players running around the parks practicing and competing. The goals are dragged into position, bright orange cones are set up in lines for the players to zig-zag(1) through with the ball. Parents, like myself, either drop the kids off and go and run errands(2), or stay and chat with each other during the practice. Game day transforms the parks with team after team competing. Yells and cheers ring out(3), and there is applause from the multitude of parents and grandparents who sit in their fold-up chairs. The U.S has quickly gone from a country that had little to do with football (the real name), to one that has embraced it. Even young children in this town have the opportunity to do year-round soccer. During the snowy months, it simply takes place indoors. And the sport seems to be transforming children from overweight, sede
16/06/2016 • 8 minutes 13 seconds
Cowboys and cowgirls.
I had always heard about cowboys before I came to the U.S, but I had never met any. I suppose I had seen many in typical Western films, so I had some idea of what they looked like. I wasn't sure, however, that the style of cowboys I had seen still existed. I thought that perhaps in our modern day, there would be less need for them, or perhaps there was a more modernized version of a cowboy. Well, since I have lived in Wenatchee, I have met plenty of real cowboys and cowgirls. One of my husband's cousins is a rancher who owns many cows, is himself a cowboy, and employs quite a few cowboys as well. There are also cowgirls who live on farms and who help to take care of the cattle. Now, there is some debate(1) about 'real' cowboys. Some people dress like cowboys and listen to country music, but certainly are not the real thing. A cowboy or girl is a person who rides a horse and takes care of cattle. Simple. And, in case you didn't know, the first cowboys were Mexicans who worked with the c
07/06/2016 • 8 minutes 41 seconds
Apple Blossom Heat.
May in Wenatchee is the month when Apple Blossom is held. It's an annual festival that starts with a parade. There is also a food fair, a classic car show, and a medieval fair. A spin-off (1)of all these activities, is a 3 on 3 basketball competition at the local college. Students of all ages compete in teams of only three people, so the games are intense and exhausting. You're never really sure what the weather will be like in May either; sometimes it's windy and cool, but other times it's quite the opposite(2). This year, it was very hot indeed. I watched some of the games, and felt quite sorry for the players. As the day went on, I moved from one patch of(3) shade to another, trying to keep cool. There was lots of huffing and puffing, gasping, and calling out like, "Here, I'm open, pass, pass!" The crowds were kept happy with a DJ and food and drinks. Watching the athletes made me feel quite lazy, as I was perfectly relaxed, but they were fighting hard to win. Most of the young peop
13/05/2016 • 6 minutes 55 seconds
I have been working in a middle school for the past couple of weeks in the place of a teacher who is taking paternity leave. His wife has just had their second child, and so he is taking 5 weeks off of(1) work to be at home. So, I am teaching 13 to 14 year olds each day about essay writing and poetry. I usually only work a couple of days a week in the school district, so adjusting to(2) working every day has been a challenge. For the first week, after school, I would go home, sit down with my cup of tea, and fall asleep! Now that I am in my second week, however, I have toughened up(3). This week also happens to be 'Teacher Appreciation Week'. Parents and other volunteers organize a nice lunch, or small gifts for the teachers to show that they are appreciated. Teaching, after all, is not the easiest job. It can be stressful working with students of different levels of ability and motivation. However, there is satisfaction when you see your students learn, and also feel happy and relaxed
05/05/2016 • 7 minutes 26 seconds
Username and password.
The world of usernames and
passwords is quite simple for some people. Choose both, and stick
to them(1); don't change them unless you have to, and your life
will be easy peasy. Most people I know, however, have a love-hate
relationship(2) with the two words. First of all, it's easy to
forget a password, especially if you haven't written it down
somewhere, or if you've forgotten where you wrote it! Secondly, to
reset(3) your password often requires a process of getting into a
secondary email, which, again you need a password for. Now this
isn't really difficult, until you find that some on-line
companies require a password with letters, numbers, and
special characters, like an exclamation mark, or a comma, but other
companies don't require a special character. So, what do you do?
Your ingenious plan of having the same password for all of
your on-line activities is ruined. One or two of them will have to
be slightly different. Will you remember which accounts they are?
Perhaps you can m
28/04/2016 • 6 minutes 59 seconds
You want to join the circus?
My daughter wants to join everything. She loves football, gymnastics, basketball, swimming, acting, dancing, and almost anything else. I don't know where she gets her energy from. Of course, I'm glad that she's energetic; its a sign of being healthy. Her friend, Lilly, has been involved with the Wenatchee Youth Circus for four years, and is a rope performer. She twists and turns (1) on two ropes that have a bar of wood joining them, like a seat. She hangs from the bar, spins, and does all kinds of acrobatics. For an eleven year old, she is very strong indeed (2). She spent the weekend with us, and as she had practice, my daughter went with her. The practice was two and a half hours long! When I went to pick them up, I expected to find two very exhausted girls, but they were still full of beans (3). Domini begged me to let her join the circus, "I'll think about it, Domini," was my reply. "It's not very likely though," I said. "You can't possibly do everything, you know," she gave me tho
18/04/2016 • 8 minutes 44 seconds
My house is almost surrounded by orchards of pears and cherries. On the west side, beyond my neighbor's house is the pear orchard, and to the north is the cherry orchard. It makes us feel as though we live deep(1)in the country. This time of year, the orchards are full of life. Of course, they are in bloom, but also there is a lot of human activity going on(2) inside the orchards. Tractors rumble away(3), along the lines of trees, spreading fertilizer, or spraying the branches and flowers. There is no time to waste! If the farmers want healthy, good looking fruit, they have to feed the trees important nutrients, and they need to find a way to keep harmful insects away. I have learned a few things about fruit trees since I have lived here. One interesting thing is that the trees are given a large dose of calcium, both in the form of spray, and also on the ground. This helps the fruit last longer, and it also helps to prevent diseases. There are lots of preparations to be made in order f
11/04/2016 • 8 minutes 3 seconds
A shopping center called 'Whaler's village' was very close to where we stayed in Maui. At its entrance was a very elegant, metal statue of a mother humpback whale and her baby. You might know(1) that the water right next to Maui is the one place where humpbacks breed. The ocean here is called the Au'au channel; it is, remarkably, only 300ft deep at the most. Its name in Hawaiian means 'to take a bath', and that makes sense because the channel forms a circular area, with 3 islands around it, so it is sheltered as well as warm and shallow. These conditions make it perfect for the humpback whales who migrate all the way from Alaska where they have been feeding. They spend the winter here, mate or give birth, feed their babies, and then make the 3,500 mile journey back to Alaska. A very special event for anyone who happens to be(2) on Maui between November and April is the breaching of the whales which is their jumping. The mothers teach their babies how to do this. With one flip of their
29/03/2016 • 8 minutes 6 seconds
The Banyan Tree.
I'm back in Wenatchee, and already missing Maui. We had such a wonderful vacation, and there were so many highlights(1). Some of you will know that I am into plants and trees, so it won't surprise you that a highlight for me was meeting the Banyan tree in the little town of Lahaina. I say "meeting" because it felt as special as meeting a person. It is about 150 years old, and was imported from India. It is from the fig family, and produces a little red berry that is not that good to eat. What is impressive about the tree is that it has spread through its aerial roots, and has become many trees. Its limbs(2) are massive, and it looks as though many trees have joined together. When we first went to the park, children were playing underneath the huge limbs, and running through the natural arches that the Banyan tree had made. The aerial roots are long and thin, growing from upper branches. They eventually touch the ground and attach themselves. These attached roots quickly get thicker, al
25/03/2016 • 7 minutes 27 seconds
The fresh, warm morning air blew gently against my face as I looked out towards the nearest island. The sand between my toes was clean and soft, not irritating at all. As I let it fall through my fingers, it occurred to me that I was looking at the Pacific ocean. Now, that is something that I don't always do. It was still early; there were only a few people here and there, some jogging, some like me, experiencing the beach in the quiet of the morning. The birds up in the palm trees, however, were anything but quiet. They chirped and chatted noisily, arguing with their neighbors. The waves lapped softly on the shore; they were also waking up. I knew that later on the wind and the waves would grow, and soon become quite intimidating. But in this paradise, how could anything be intimidating? As I looked over at a hedge blooming with tropical hibiscus flowers, I couldn't imagine anything on this island being anything but beautiful and relaxed. I was soon to find out that there was a lot mo
15/03/2016 • 5 minutes 32 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #40 + Interactive English.
Dentist: Hello Liz. What seems to be the problem?
Liz: One of my small molars has been aching for a while. I was waiting, and hoping that the pain would go away, but it hasn't.
Dentist: You are due to have an x-ray, so let's do that and then talk about all your teeth.
Dentist: Ah, yes, you have quite a large cavity in the side of a molar. The hole in the enamel is small but deep. I'm afraid the pain won't go away until you have a filling.
Liz: Oh, ok. I'm so disappointed. I brush and floss my teeth twice a day, and I avoid sugary food.
Dentist: I know you have good dental hygiene. Well, because you have a brace, it is hard to clean in between your teeth. And some people have cavities, root canals, abscesses, and even gingivitis, while other people , don't have many problems.
Liz: That seems unfair.
Dentist: It's to do with the level of bacteria in your mouth which is affected by hygiene, diet, genetics, and even stress. I know that you have good dental hygiene because y
04/03/2016 • 13 minutes 38 seconds
Dentist or Orthodontist?
Every six months, my family members and I are supposed to go to the dentist for a check-up. I say "supposed to" because we don't rush to get there. Sometimes it's several months later that we have our appointments. I don't have a problem with going(1) to the dentist; I don't have tooth problems, and I like looking after my teeth. My children, however, have needed more of a push to take care of their teeth. Through the years, I have become familiar with the phrases and vocabulary related to dental hygiene: floss, cavities, fillings, molars, x-rays, enamel, and root canals. The dentist office is a scary place, if you think about it. Perhaps that's why the staff is so friendly, almost over-the-top friendly. Everybody smiles so much that it makes me nervous. Anyway, my son and I went to a different kind of dentist: an orthodontist. He is a person who corrects crooked teeth, an overbite, or an underbite. He doesn't pull teeth out, fill them, give injections, or fix any surface problems. Rat
01/03/2016 • 7 minutes 33 seconds
Advertising to Children.
Advertising is everywhere nowadays. Most of us are used to seeing advertisements every day. Having coffee with one of my friends a week ago, I saw an amusing advertisement for the coffee shop. It wasn't pushy(1), or overly dramatic, but just funny. It's actually the photo for today's podcast. It made me think of a unit of study that I was helping to teach recently. The students were learning about the science of advertising to children in the U.S. Apparently, there are no regulations(2) to protect children from the influences of adverts. Psychologists and child development experts are also employed by advertising agencies to make sure that advertisements for children are irresistible(3) to them. We watched a video series about the subject, and then the students and I had a discussion. So often, it seems, advertising is not accurate. And here there is an overwhelming amount of advertising, especially on television. We recently cancelled our television contract, so now, we don't have reg
24/02/2016 • 7 minutes 36 seconds
The Transplanting Battle,
“Mum, what are all those scratches on your arms?” my daughter asked me with a look of fright. I laughed and told her that I had got into a fight with a bush. She frowned and looked at me with questioning eyes. “I transplanted a giant bush from Barbara’s garden into ours. It was a struggle, and I had forgotten to put on my long sleeve top(1), so my arms got scratched,” I explained. It had been quite a battle. Barbara moved a year ago into her home, and has been wanting to get rid of some of the plants since then(2). The very early Spring is, of course, the best time to transplant, just before the growing season. In the winter it would have been impossible to dig up the plants because the ground is frozen at least a few inches deep. Now that most of the snow in town has melted, the ground is much softer, so people like me can start working again in their gardens. My body is still aching a little from the effort! The bush was about five feet tall, round, and prickly. It was also right nex
19/02/2016 • 9 minutes 36 seconds
In an effort to(1) get my children away from computers and the television, we play games. Mostly we play cards, but we also have a cupboard full of games of different kinds. One of them is called Suspend. It requires calculation and a sense of balance. The main point of the game is to hang as many colored, plastic sticks as you can from a metal hook without any of them falling. This sounds easy, but its not. The sticks are long and wavy. Each stick has to go in a different place, so the places you can hang your stick become more and more limited(2). The metal hook is at the end of a long, straight metal stick that has a wide wooden base, and two stabilizers. There is also a spinner ( an arrow that spins around on a card that has choices). Each person must spin the spinner to see which choice it lands(3) on. For example: it might land on red 2, which means that you have to suspend two red sticks somewhere. It might also land on -2 which means that you have to remove two sticks. The winn
19/02/2016 • 9 minutes 47 seconds
Isn't it fun when you stumble across(1) something interesting or worthwhile in a very unlikely place? Perhaps you have gone for a walk through a forest, and along the way you find a beautiful stone statue. Or you are at the beach, and you find a small cave with hieroglyphics in it. These are exciting things to find. My daughter and I found the largest party store in the whole of the U.S in a small town called Moses Lake. Ok, it's not historic, or beautiful, but it is fascinating. If you heard my previous podcast, about Moses Lake, you will know that it is really in the middle of nowhere. And it isn't even a very populated town. So why would the company called Party Central decide to build their biggest store in this out-of-the-way(2) place? My answer is really that I don't know, but I'm assuming(3) that the company has a good reason. Domini had finished a weekend of basketball and wanted to have a quick look in some shops. This store looked entertaining so we walked in. From the outsid
13/02/2016 • 8 minutes 55 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #39 + Interactive English.
Liz gets pulled over for speeding by a policeman.
Liz: Hello Officer. What seems to be the problem?
Officer: Well, Miss, you were going eleven miles per hour over the speed limit. Can I see your driver's license please?
Liz: Yes, of course. Here it is.
Officer: Also, I need to see your car insurance card.
Liz:Ok, let me find it. I think that its mixed in with all of my papers. Ah yes, here it is. Gosh, I didn't realize that I was going so fast; I must have been distracted by the music on the radio....
Officer: Please stay in your car. I need to go back to mine to radio-in this information.
Liz: Ok Officer.
Officer: Well, it looks like you have a clean record, no outstanding fines. I will, however, have to give you a ticket for speeding. This is a fast highway, and speeding makes it more dangerous.
Liz: $70? Wow. This will teach me not to get distracted.
Officer: That's the one good thing about fines, they make you think. And if we think, then we become safer drivers.
11/02/2016 • 17 minutes 12 seconds
Moses Lake is a town that is situated about an hour and a half from where I live. I don't usually choose to go there; however, in the winter, my children will often have basketball tournaments there once or twice. The journey there takes you through flat farmland, and then through miles of dry open areas of, well, nothing really. The type of land is called 'scabland' where there is very little rainfall(1), and a bush called 'sagebrush' grows everywhere. Geologically speaking, it's part of the largest lava plateau(2) in the world, and it stretches for miles and miles and miles. Part of the road to Moses Lake travels along side the Columbia river which is impressive. But as the road turns away from the river, the land stretches out for miles with no sign of trees or houses. Moses Lake has, of course, a very large lake which initially provided fish for the inhabitants of the town. It was named after Chief Moses, the leader of the Sinkiuse tribe, who had to negotiate with the U.S governmen
09/02/2016 • 8 minutes 23 seconds
Sniff The Dessert.
Have you ever walked into a house when someone has just made a delicious dessert? What is it that most people do in that situation? Yes, they sniff. I know that when my family comes home from school or work, they are hungry(1). So, when they walk in the house and smell some good food that is ready, I know that it brings a smile to their faces(2). One such dish that smells really good is baked apples. It is a super easy, and healthy alternative to other desserts. The key is to choose the right kind of apples. When apples cook, they go soft and a lot of their juice comes out. Therefore, its important to choose apples that are not too juicy, otherwise, after cooking, you will be left with a very small dessert, and a lot of juice!
After washing the fruit, you have to remove the core, which is tricky(3). The typical kitchen vegetable peeler works well for this job because it has a rounded end that helps you dig out the flesh from the middle of the apple. It is only a small kitchen tool, bu
07/02/2016 • 8 minutes 25 seconds
In our modern societies, its quite normal to coexist quite happily with other species: dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, and many other kinds of pets. I have seen people take their animals into shops, take them into restaurants, and even travel with them on planes. I think it is becoming more common. Being a pet owner myself, I understand the strong attachment that some people have to their animals. However, there are some places where you don't expect to find animals of any kind. I picked up my daughter from the cinema the other day, and found that her friend's teenage sister who had accompanied them had secretly taken her pets as well. She reached in her pocket and brought out two very colorful geckos. I was shocked. First of all I was surprised that they hadn't escaped, as I know that they can move very quickly. If they had, it would have been a disaster, because the cinema is huge and it would have been impossible to find them. Just imagine them running around on the floor of the dark v
02/02/2016 • 8 minutes
Leavenworth Winter Sports.
I have written on several occasions about Leavenworth. It's about 30 minutes by car from where I live, and a very popular destination for tourists. Because of its mountainous landscape(1), it receives more snow than we do, and stays a few degrees colder. There is a skiing area in Leavenworth that is busy each winter. It offers regular downhill skiing, tubing, nordic skiing like cross country and skate skiing, and also a ski jump. We usually go tubing there. It's the easiest of all the activities because it just involves sitting down! You sit on an inner tube, which is the inside rubber tube of a wheel. An assistant hooks you onto a pulley that pulls you up the hill where you are detached, and then you slip down the hill very quickly indeed. It's great fun, and even young children can do it safely. The other skiing activities are spread out over(2) three different locations: on the ski hill itself, along the river, on a golf course, and in the central park. In fact, when there is enough
28/01/2016 • 9 minutes 6 seconds
'To do' in all its forms.
Mr. Brown: "Did you want to see me, sir?"
Principal Stevens: "Ah yes, Mr. Brown, do come in, please."
Mr. Brown: "Do you want me to close the door?"
Principal Stevens: "Yes, if you would. Don't worry about the broken handle; it doesn't work. The custodian was going to fix it, but he didn't. I don't know what he does with all of his time... Make yourself comfortable; you can take your coat off. I'll get the secretary to bring us some coffee."
Mr. Brown: "Thank you. I'll keep my coat on; its a bit chilly."
Principal Stevens: "It does feel cold in here, doesn't it? Don't tell me the heating isn't working now! I'll have to see what the custodian can do about that as well."
Mr. Brown: "Do you need a copy of the class grades? If you do, I have extras."
Principal Stevens: "No, don't worry. I have it all on my computer. I'll get to the point, Mr. Brown. The counselor has told me that she doesn't have any concerns about the girls in your class, but she does about the boys. We expected th
22/01/2016 • 8 minutes 18 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #38 + Interactive English
Liz calls Barbara on the phone:
Liz: Hi Barbara, are you up for yoga tomorrow at 7?(1) I know its a bit early, but it'll be worth it.
Barbara: I'm really sorry Liz, but I can't go. (2)I threw my back out yesterday, and I'm really miserable.
Liz: Oh, you poor thing! How on earth did you do that?
Barbara: You know I work in the library on Wednesday's. Well, I had to carry boxes of books from the storage room and stack them on the shelves. I overdid it, of course. That kind of thing always throws my back out.
Liz: Do you need to see a doctor or a chiropractor?
Barbara: Not really. I'm taking meds for the pain because I think that the injury is just muscular. When my muscles finally relax, I'm sure the pain will go away.
Liz: What have you been doing to help it?
Barbara: Apart from the pain killers, I have been lying flat on my back with my head on a small pillow and my knees up a little. I've also iced my back. Last night I wrote my essay lying down. I probably looked ridiculous!
21/01/2016 • 14 minutes 42 seconds
Sushi or sashimi?
My husband and I have developed an addiction to Japanese food. We are so happy that a few Japanese restaurants have finally opened in our town. Though we don't often have the opportunity to go out to dinner alone, when we do, we choose to eat at one of those restaurants. For a long time, we have enjoyed shushi, with its mixture of sticky rice, vegetables and a small amount of raw fish. It has been our only experience of eating uncooked fish, as I am British, and my husband is American, we are accustomed to(1) only cooked meat and fish. However, we have come to really appreciate the extremely clean taste and soft texture of the raw fish. Also, after eating shushi, our stomachs always feel satisfied but not bloated at all. So, the other day, when we went to Iwa's restaurant, all we wanted was raw fish(2). We ordered a plate for two people which had a variety of different fish. When the waitress gave us our plate, I was impressed. It was beautifully presented, and looked artistic and colo
20/01/2016 • 9 minutes 18 seconds
Last Tuesday, I had an impromptu trip(1) to Olympia, the capital of Washington State. I have been taking exams to become a medical interpreter in Spanish and English, but those exams can't be taken in Wenatchee. If you want to take the test, you have to sign up online when a spot(2) becomes available, and that doesn't happen very often. You usually have to wait for at least three months. I have become impatient with the whole sign up process, and all the waiting involved, so when I found an opening(3), I immediately signed up. I had only a week to prepare, and then a three and a half hour drive to get there. The drive was easy enough as I drove on main roads the whole way. I also took the opportunity to record a lot of vocabulary and sentences to listen to in the car. As I approached Olympia it poured with rain. I could tell that the area receives a lot of rain each year as the trees are covered with moss. This was quite a contrast to where I live now.
I arrived in plenty of time to
19/01/2016 • 8 minutes 29 seconds
Winter vocabulary, a story.
The old man woke to the sound of his dog barking. He knew that his companion could smell the deer outside, so he slipped his winter boots on, and opened the door to let him out. The biting cold wind blew on him; he shivered and closed the door. Thunder, his Karakachan Bear dog, could be heard in the distance barking at the deer. He didn't feel the cold because he was so fluffy, a true winter dog. It could be far below zero(1), and he would still want to play and run in the snow.
The old man stoked up(2) the fire and looked out of the window. Icicles hung from the roof blocking his view of the mountain road. He looked through the evergreen forest to the distant glacier that always seemed to look back at him, another wilderness companion. His son and family were coming to visit; they did so often. They loved to go snowshoeing together and build an army of snowmen. But today was bitterly cold, and the road was probably blocked. "I'd better snowplow down to the main road, or they'll neve
08/01/2016 • 7 minutes 39 seconds
One to One Hundred Birds.
Two days ago, we were hit hard(1) by snow. It snowed all night, leaving a thick blanket that seemed to insulate everything. The entryway, driveway, and neighborhood road looked like they had been carpeted with white. The back garden has got deeper and deeper with snow, as we don't clear it. There is nothing to do in the garden now that it is winter, nothing other than playing and building snowmen. There is, however, one place in the back that I have to keep clear of snow. That is the bird feeding area. Because we live in the country, and our neighborhood has many trees, there is a huge variety of birds that live here. The ones who stay in the winter need food, and that is where I come in(2). I like to help them a little, even though I know that they are very capable of helping themselves. I put a couple of dishes of bird seed out for them, and then I made frozen balls of bacon fat and seed. I hung these balls from the trees, and hurried back into the kitchen to watch from a comfortable
05/01/2016 • 8 minutes 50 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #37 + Interactive English.
Barbara: Hi Liz, sorry to bother you. I know you're busy studying, I just wanted to double-check(1) the time that we're going to the basketball game.
Liz: Uh, let's leave at about six thirty. It starts at seven thirty, but it'll be packed, so we'll need time to park and find seats.
Barbara: Ok. Oh, I love what you've done(2) with the Christmas cards!
Liz: Thanks. I like to arrange them on the wall and save them for at least a month. Look, I got several from my friends in York. This one is made from photos. See how snowy it is? And those are my three friends: Suzy, Jeff, and Peter. They took a selfie next to the(3) statue of Emperor Constantine. They look so goofy!
Barbara: Oh that's great! That is definitely worth keeping!
Click the link for the Android app
29/12/2015 • 13 minutes 9 seconds
Fancy That App.
I hear almost every day about useful apps. I have many already on my iPhone that make my life easier and more productive. One of the most practical that I have found is Google Maps. It has saved me so much time and frustration. It is essentially a map with a voice that guides you, step by step, to your destination. Hurray for that! For those of us who love languages, there are hundreds of language learning apps. A friend of mine from Iran recently told me about an extremely popular app that can be used for anything from teaching languages, business communication, sharing of files, or simply messaging and friendly chats. It's called Telegram. I have read quite a lot about it, and will continue to do so because it sounds very useful indeed. It was developed by the Durov brothers from Russia, but has its head quarters in Berlin. And the founders have covered all the costs(1), so it is free, and there is no advertising at all. Hamed, my friend from Iran, is an experienced English teacher w
28/12/2015 • 7 minutes 53 seconds
Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University. I have been lucky enough to be a student there twice. The building was constructed in the late 1800's, and makes a lovely center piece for the town. The town is quite small really; there are only about 18,000 residents. It is odd, actually, to think of such a large university being in a small town. This happened because, in the 19th century, Ellensburg made a bid(1) to be the political capital of the state, but lost. As a consolation(2), the university was built. The rest of the town is agricultural and fairly modern, with a few historical buildings here and there. I have a soft spot(3) for both the town and the university because of my good memories of being a student. Now I have another reason for visiting the town. Two of my children play AAU basketball, which is a non-school league. Last weekend their teams played in the university gym, so we spent the whole weekend there. Just outside of the gymnasium is a very large statue
15/12/2015 • 8 minutes 31 seconds
The Turkey Run.
Thanksgiving was on 26th of November. It is always on the fourth Thursday of that month. It is a day that everyone looks forward to. It is a welcomed break for school children and anyone who works. And, of course, there is a big meal to share with family, friends, or both if you are lucky. This year, I decided to try something different. Each Thanksgiving morning here in Wenatchee, there is The Turkey Run. It is a 5km run or walk that is organized to raise money for charity. Participants(1)need to pay a certain amount to receive an official number in the race. Then, all you need is a good pair of running shoes, and some warm clothes. I had got(2) up early that morning to go to the supermarket. It was freezing cold. "Uh!" I thought to myself, "The race will be miserable if it stays this cold." Thankfully, by the time my daughter and I were ready, the sun had come out, and it was a few degrees warmer. At the starting line, there were hundreds of people of all ages, all dressed in winter
08/12/2015 • 6 minutes 53 seconds
A Winter's List.
"Wake up! Look at the frosty morning!" I said to my children on Monday. I knew that they wouldn't want to get out of bed; after all, it was a school day. But something about the beginning of winter makes the morning more interesting for them. I opened the curtains in the rooms of my two youngest, who normally moan and complain when they have to get up. "Wow, look at all the crunchy frost," my daughter said. She was right. As we looked out on the back garden, there seemed to be a sheet of sparkling powdered glass laying on everything. It twinkled(1) in the morning light. "I'll make some hot chocolate," I said, still trying to coax(2) them into coming downstairs. I had their winter clothes laid out on the lounge floor:coats, boots, gloves, hats, and scarves. While they ate their porridge, I spoke to my oldest sons. "Now, its best to leave early, so you don't have to hurry. Keep your distance when you drive because its icy." They both nodded in agreement, and gave me that look, the look t
30/11/2015 • 7 minutes 39 seconds
The Redwood Forest.
The Redwood forest is located on the west coast, from the south of Oregon to the south of California. There isn't just one forest; there are several along and near the coast. Together they cover 133,000 acres. In the 1800's many people went to the west coast to mine gold. Of course, a lot of people didn't find any, and so logging became a second option. At that time there were 2,000,000 acres of redwoods. The trees were quickly chopped down and used for buildings in the San Francisco area. In 1920 a movement started to preserve the remaining trees, but it wasn't until(1) the 1960's that they were finally safe. And I'm so glad that they are. I was lucky enough to take my family there this summer, and we were amazed at their size and beauty. Their age was just as astonishing(2). We came across a slice of a massive tree that was around(3) before the Vikings came to the Americas. Some trees had fallen over, and their root systems were the size of houses! We walked around the forest, strain
18/11/2015 • 8 minutes 43 seconds
American football is an autumn sport here in the U.S. The season goes from September until December approximately. Out of my three sons, only my youngest likes to play it; infact, he loves it. His last game was a couple of weeks ago, as middle schoolers have a short season. We went to the local High School stadium, and sat with a small crowd to watch the game. It was a chilly day, so most people had brought blankets and warm coats. I am more accustomed to football (soccer) and rugby, and so, it has taken me a while(1) to get used to the stopping and starting that take place in American football. The sport was based on rugby when it was first invented, but evolved during the 1870's into what it is today. Here, in the U.S, it is called 'football'; they call 'football' 'soccer' to distinguish between(2) the two. In order for a team to win it has to, first, have possession of the ball, and then advance into the opposing team's end zone. A 'touchdown' is the term used for a 'goal', just as
09/11/2015 • 8 minutes 5 seconds
A Thousand Dalias.
On one of my many walks on the Apple Capital Loop Trail, I came across an amazing patch of flowers. On a corner of land, next to an indoor market(1), a garden of only one kind of flower had been planted. They were dahlias. I happened to have my iPhone with me, so I climbed in amongst (2)the tall plants, and tried to find the perfect angles for the photos. So what is so special about dahlias? Their variety and sizes are quite incredible. There are 42 species, and many hybrids, so the colors, shapes, and sizes vary tremendously(3). I grew just a few this year for the first time. One was a huge, yellow dahlia called a 'dinner plate'. You can imagine how big the flower head is! The dahlia also has an interesting history. It is the national flower of Mexico, and used to be grown by the Aztecs for its tubers (which are like bulbs) which they would eat. One of the dahlias I photographed was a red and cream stripy flower with a very large head. I played around with the photo for this blog, and
05/11/2015 • 6 minutes 52 seconds
A Park for the People.
Walla Walla park is right next to the river in Wenatchee. When I first came here twenty three years ago, it had just opened. Now, twenty three years later, the trees are so much bigger, and the park is well used by the locals. Its biking and walking paths run(1) for about five miles along the Columbia river. Then they continue over a bridge to the north, follow the other side of the river south, and finally, cross over the southern bridge to form an oval, or what we call The Apple Capital Loop Trail. It actually gets very busy as the walkers and bikers share the same paths. There is a courtesy rule(2) that as a biker approaches people walking in front of him, he must call out, “On your left!” That way, the walkers can move over to the right and let the biker pass safely. Safety is, of course, very important when lots of people are using the same place for sport. The water sports, such as kayaking and fishing, also need safety precautions. The local council has supplied life jackets for
04/11/2015 • 8 minutes 31 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #36 + Interactive English.
1.Barbara: Liz! How are you? I'm so glad you're back. We all missed you!
2.Liz: Oh, thanks. I can't believe that the six months have been and gone!
3.Barbara: So, you must be super-fluent in English now, right? It sounds like the language course in York was really thorough.
4.Liz: My English really is so much better! Well, when you live around it everyday, it has to get better, right? The people in York are so friendly and chatty. And the city is amazing.
5.Barbara: We have to go to our favorite coffee shop, so you can tell me all about it. And don't forget your photos!
6.Liz: That's a great idea. But gosh, I have so much to tell; I don't know where to start!
Click the link for the Android app
29/10/2015 • 15 minutes 2 seconds
The Sea, the Sunset, and the Ocean Crab.
They walk sideways on their ten, bony legs. They are hard, and seem unfriendly. They run away from humans. Some people have them as pets, but I wouldn't! Their world is water, rivers, oceans, where they live with other cold-blooded animals. They are experts at hiding. And if you catch one, watch out! Your fingers will be pinched if you're not careful. You've probably guessed that I'm talking about the crab. It's a wild, sea creature, though some of them live in rivers. And it is unusual, compared with(1) most animals. It doesn't have any fur or feathers, and it doesn't seem to show emotion. It even wears its skeleton on the outside! One thing that it really does have is a good taste. It was that delicious flavor that prompted (2) my family and some friends to go to . The place is 100 miles north of Seattle, and about 35 miles south of Canada. It is a beautiful, wide bay, that is surrounded by forest. Our friends had a boat, crabbing pots, and all the equipment needed to trap our dinner
26/10/2015 • 9 minutes 54 seconds
Di Caprio, real or wax?
Marie Tussaud was a French woman who became famous for her wax models. She was born in Strasbourg in 1761, and developed her hobby by watching the doctor who her mother worked for. He taught her the difficult art of wax modeling. When she was older, she travelled around Great Britain, showing many of her creations, and eventually settled in London, opening up her famous wax museum. There are actually many Madame Tussauds. One that I went to this summer was in San Francisco. It was the first time that we had been to that city, and as (1)we were there for only a couple of days, we wanted to see all the main tourist attractions. We had a great time in the museum, and really laughed a lot. I was surprised when I learned that you are allowed to touch the wax models. When we learned that, there was no stopping us(2). We hugged them, kissed them, pulled faces near them, and copied their poses. When I spotted Leonardo di Caprio, I had to pose with him. He is one of my favorite actors. I preten
23/10/2015 • 10 minutes 41 seconds
A museum that is close to my house is the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village. Cashmere is a little town that is just eight miles away. It is a very small, country town surrounded by hills, and is known for(1) two things: a candy factory, and the museum. As my aunt was visiting from Spain, and is very interested in history, I thought that it would be nice to take her and my mother there for a day out. The museum had a lot of Indian artifacts and photos, and by Indian, I mean Native American Indian. There was an impressive amount of tools, baskets, and ceremonial instruments. This area is rich in Native American history. Outside of the museum building, however, was a collection of original pioneer houses. They were wooden cabins, and had been collected from a forty mile radius(2). They were arranged in a square, and together formed a perfect little village. There was a school, a few shops, a jail, a saloon, a church, and a couple of private houses. They had all been built around the 188
20/10/2015 • 7 minutes 35 seconds
Annie's Fun Farm.
Did you know that there are over 30 different varieties of pumpkins? They are grown on every continent apart from Antarctica, and they are used for cooking, for livestock(1), and for decoration. They have been around for a very long time. The oldest recorded evidence of pumpkins dates back 7000 years to Mexico. Although it grows like a vegetable, it is actually a fruit. And what a pretty fruit it is! A friend of ours has recently opened a special pumpkin patch(2), that is a few acres in size. It is called Annie's Fun Farm, and is open to the public for family entertainment. Paths lined with pumpkins have been made, as well as an area to throw apples with giant elastic ropes. There's an inflatable castle, a corn maze(3), and rides on a tractor and trailer. It is a perfect place to take family or friends to have some fun, and to choose that special collection of pumpkins, if that's what you like to do. I filled up a little shopping cart with pumpkins of different shapes, sizes, and color
20/10/2015 • 7 minutes 49 seconds
One of the benefits of growing your own flowers is picking them and bringing them into the house. Bouquets, after all(1), are expensive in the shops. They bring color, and light, and cheer to an entryway or a kitchen table, but I hate to pay ten dollars for something that I can grow for just pennies. It's not just the cost, however. My biggest thrill in gardening is growing plants from seeds. There is something magical about seeing a little piece of nothing sprout, and then eventually produce a flower. So, with scissors in my hand, and a vase full of water, I walk around my back yard and snip(2) here and snip there until the vase is full. But now it's October, and the summer blooms are coming to an end(3). However, you can extend the season a little by doing two things: you cut off the dead heads, and you fertilize. It's a little trick that I learned from my mother who is also a gardening fanatic. This way, you can double the amount of flowers that you get in one season. It's really wo
16/10/2015 • 7 minutes 18 seconds
New Life From Ashes.
The hills of Wenatchee are an unusual color for this time of year. They are usually a sandy brown, due to the dry climate. The brief green of the spring quickly changes into tan(1) as the sun gets hotter and hotter, and the rain stops. The hills are a popular place for hikers and bikers. We walked up one of the many trails a few weeks ago, and experienced a very different hike than normal. The whole area, reaching up to the top of the highest hill, was black. The fires that we had this summer completely consumed the grass, and left nothing but ash. And that's not to mention(2) the houses that also burned. It was a disaster. But now, as the cooler weather is here, there is a stream of(3) people walking at the weekends. As we headed up to a summit, we came across a sign that read, "Keep on the trails; give the plants a chance." What that meant was that we should not walk off the path because plants are beginning to grow again. And sure enough, as I looked around, here and there I saw gre
16/10/2015 • 8 minutes 13 seconds
Glass beach is an interesting place that we visited this summer. It is on the coast of California, to the North. The town is not spectacular; it's the beach that draws(1) the tourists. I had never been to a California beach, and I suppose I was expecting it to be hot and sandy. However, it was cool and foggy for the first day. And there were many beaches. They were small, rocky coves(2), that had caves, and sandy cliffs. Seagulls and seals were here and there. It was the perfect place for exploring. My children climbed and jumped around like monkeys that had been let out of the zoo. There were many rock pools where sea water had become trapped; these are the perfect places to look for crabs, fish, and other sea creatures. We spent hours walking around and searching for treasure; not gold and silver, but glass. As its name suggests, Glass beach is full of old glass that has been broken and made smooth by the waves. For years, the tides (3)and the waves have tumbled bottles of different
04/09/2015 • 7 minutes 9 seconds
A Creative Summer.
Summer can be such a relaxing time. If you're a teacher, it's your turn for a long vacation. However, if you have kids at home, sometimes that summer can become downright (1)stressful. "Mum, Jenna can't come over, and I'm so bored!" said my daughter to me with a look of pain on her face. Her friends are everything to her, and life is just not as colorful(2)when they're not around. I didn't say it, but I thought of something my mother used to say to me whenever I was bored, "Only boring people get bored," she used to say. Well, I decided not to use that phrase; it wasn't very helpful. "Do you want to use my laptop?" I asked, knowing that it would help her get some ideas. "Ok," she half-protested(3). Later, my son Robert came into the kitchen and also complained about being bored, again as if he was in pain. "How about your bike?" I suggested. He went into the garage and didn't come back. "Oh good," I thought to myself, "he must be riding his bike."
09/08/2015 • 9 minutes 26 seconds
Those of you who listen regularly to my podcast will know that I am a gardener. However, you might not know that gardening can be a challenge. This year I have come to realise(1) that I need to learn more about bugs because they can make the garden a success or a failure. Some of my most prized(2) vegetables and flowers get infested at times, and I am left scratching my head, wondering(3) what to do. Bugs are everywhere, and they all serve a purpose, but if I choose to have certain plants in my garden, I must understand what their strengths and weaknesses(4) are, and which bugs either attack them or help them. So, what do you do if you need about 3000 beneficial(5) bugs? Well, you order them online. And that's just what I did about a week ago. Before I knew it, the box arrived on my doorstep. It was a strange experience opening a package, and finding a bag full of bugs inside. I had to follow some instructions before putting them in the garden: wait until it was dark, mist the infected
30/07/2015 • 9 minutes 32 seconds
The U.S Open
In June, I went to the U.S golf Open with my husband for two days. It was at a place called Chambers Bay in Seattle in a very interesting location that overlooked the beautiful Puget Sound. Let me explain: the Puget Sound is an area on the coast where there are many islands. The golf course was built on an old sand and gravel(1) quarry. It is unusually dry compared to most U.S golf courses, but it has its own unique charm, and what a fabulous view of the ocean and the islands. We traveled to the golf course from Wenatchee with friends, and then split up(2), and walked around from 'hole' to hole. It was a hot day, and quite humid. There were crowds of golfing fans(3) everywhere, and funnily enough, a lot of them looked the same. Most of them were big men, in shorts, wearing baseball hats. I'm not a golfer, but I could certainly appreciate their excitement. It must have been a thrill for many of them to get close to the professionals. At one point, I came close to Ryo Ishikawa of Japan (
21/07/2015 • 12 minutes 28 seconds
A Change of Plans.
A few weeks ago, I had just answered an email from one of my listeners. "When are you going to write another podcast?" was her question. And it was a good question, as I have been absent for some time. My plan was to write one the next day. In the afternoon, however, as I drove my kids to the swimming pool, I looked to my right, across the river and up to the hills, and saw a huge column of dark smoke. "Oh, no!" I said to myself, and my heart sank(1). "Not again!" This dry, windy climate is prone to fires in the summer, and there are often more than one. I swam briefly in the swimming pool, and then sat on a lawn chair and tried to read, but I was preoccupied with the smoke. As I turned the pages of my Harry Potter, I noticed some flakes of ash(2) on my black swimming suit. "Ok kids, we're going home," I announced. I had a bad feeling; the wind was picking up(3), and that only meant one thing: a big fire.
Within a few hours the view from our house was all smoke. Our dogs wouldn't sta
17/07/2015 • 11 minutes 15 seconds
Addicted to Pinterest.
I remember when the internet became available in the 1990's. It was a revolution! It was, as they say, 'the next big thing'(1). Since then, different applications and social media have given us access(2) to huge amounts of information, ideas, and connections with people. One that I discovered recently was Pinterest. My mother had told me about it a year ago, but I didn't pay any attention until a couple of weeks ago. It is a collection of information, projects, photographs, and videos that you can select and collect. Selecting something that you like is called 'pinning' it. You pin what you have found onto what is called a board. It is just like in an office, when you pin a poster onto a notice board(3). You name your board, and you pin more items. My boards are: 'gardening', 'recipes', and 'fun projects'. Every day I add more pins to my boards. Two days ago I used one of the recipes: tender, juicy, barbecued chicken. I followed the instructions, and it turned out wonderfully tender. L
26/02/2015 • 8 minutes 16 seconds
50 words for snow.
Chelan is a town here in Washington State that is famous for its huge lake. Its a forty five minute drive from where we live, and about 500 ft higher. To get to Chelan, we travel right along the Columbia river, and then wind up through some steep hills, before dropping down towards the lake. Many of these hills are wild, and still covered in snow. Last weekend I went up with my husband to one of these places, called Bear Mountain. As my husband is a hunter, he wanted to put out some apples and salt blocks for the deer. So, we loaded up(1) our little four wheeler, and headed up a dirt track. I drove while my husband looked around for deer, but for a while, there was no sign of them. What we did see was lots and lots of snow. It was like a Christmas scene from a chocolate box. We found the group of trees where we needed to dump(2) the apples and salt, and headed back. Well, that was the plan. We tried to head back. What we hadn't realized was that we had parked in deep snow. We were stuc
16/02/2015 • 12 minutes 29 seconds
Parks are a breath of fresh air, especially when they are in cities. I found that when we visited London in the summer, we really needed to escape into the parks at least once a day. Children can only take a certain amount of (1)site seeing, and then they need to run and play, and be around trees and grass. The parks in London are wonderful, my favorite being St. James's which is central, right near Buckingham Palace. It is one of the oldest in the city, and has a lake, and many kinds of birds. These animals are used to being around people; they seemed quite tame. We fed the ducks, geese, and swans with some of the sandwiches from our picnics, and we soon found that we were surrounded by pigeons as well. Deeper into the park, we came across another surprisingly comfortable creature: a squirrel. In fact, there were lots of them all over the place. I spotted a man who was feeding one of them nuts from his hand. "Wow!" we all said, as we watched him. He had the right 'touch'(2) with these
29/12/2014 • 12 minutes 28 seconds
It all started just before Thanksgiving. My daughter had a temperature of 103 and a bad cough. I had kept her home from school, and didn't plan on her going back for a while. The next day, as the twenty-two guests arrived for lunch, I noticed that one of the cousins had a similar cough, but I was really too busy to be thinking about illness. Well, Thanksgiving came and went; the plates and cutlery were washed, the tables were put away, and everything was back to normal. But then I noticed that one of the guests hadn't left. He had actually not even been invited. He was a most unwelcome(1) guest, and his name was 'The Flu'. I opened the front door and asked him to leave, but he he just smiled at me. He was comfortable, and obviously planned on staying.
Before I knew it, everyone was ill: coughs, temperatures, weakness, and stomach problems. Most of our relatives who had been with us were also miserably sick. I, at that point, wasn't. Usually, I take care of everyone else, and I'm fine
08/12/2014 • 8 minutes 15 seconds
An Indian Cooking Class.
I love to learn, especially when what I'm learning is practical and meaningful. And, also, being from England, I love Indian food. Most people who are not from England think of English food as boring, or that we only eat fish and chips, or roast beef. Tut-tut. Oh, those stereotypes can be so wrong. For a very long time, our national dish in England has been curry, which, yes, is absolutely Indian. In fact, there are more than 10,000 Indian restaurants in England. We're crazy about the spicy, rich food. And if you know your history(1), you will know that the English-Indian connection comes from the days when India was a British colony. Well, a few weeks ago, when I was having dinner in the only Indian restaurant in Wenatchee, I saw a poster there advertising Indian cooking classes. I quickly signed up. So, yesterday, I and about fifteen other people turned up at the house of the restaurant owners. We were each given a booklet(2) of recipes. Deedee, the master chef, did all of the cookin
10/11/2014 • 7 minutes 40 seconds
How does he do that?
I'm sure that many of you who are listening to this podcast have been to Trafalgar Square. It is one of the most famous places in downtown London. In fact, if you visit London, you will find that all the major landmarks(1) are concentrated in the central area of the city. When I went there this summer with my children, we caught the bus every day to Trafalgar Square. The bus terminated(2) there which was perfect for us. So, the first day that we were there, we got off the bus and proceded to sightsee. My children were quite impressed when they looked around: the statues, the fountains, the great circle of architecture around the square, and of course, the lions. Everybody climbs on the lions to have their photo taken; it's a tradition. Another great thing about the square is the street entertainment. There is always someone doing something, either dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, or doing something extraordinary(3). On this particular day, we found a man dressed in a sil
08/11/2014 • 6 minutes 28 seconds
Catching Fish in Scotland.
This summer we went to visit my father in Scotland. He lives about 3 hours from Glasgow, but had arranged for us to meet him in the Highlands, a little place called Acharacle, near Fort William. We drove up from Yorkshire where I had visited my sister, spent the night in Glasgow, and continued our journey the following day. Acharacle is a very remote, beautiful area. It's a tiny village, with houses hidden all around it in the trees. It is very close to the sea, so that is where we spent most of our time. Several beaches there are unspoilt(1), and all of them are so clean. I took Robert and Domini with me to one of the smaller beaches to play in the white sand. As soon as we got there, they ran over to a rock pool and discovered a school(2) of trapped fish. It was as if they had discovered treasure. They could scoop up(3) handfuls of them with delight. I even did. They stayed in this rock pool for what seemed like ages, until their sleeves were wet and they started to get cold. Then we
24/10/2014 • 6 minutes 7 seconds
Back to school.
I appologize for not releasing a podcast last week. There was good reason for my absence. I have started a university course which teaches and qualifies me to instruct English language learners. I have been buried in books(1) for a week! I started the course late, actually, as there was some sort of mix up(2) in my application. Well, that was all sorted out, and I was accepted as a student. Thankfully, all of the classes are online, which makes it very convenient for me. I have to keep track of(3) the reading requirements and the homework. The professor from Central Washington University is very friendly and knowledgeable. We have even had a live, online session where we have met everyone in the course, and have given presentations. I love it! I thought at first, that the lessons might be a little dry and boring. But, I'm happy to say that they are not at all. We are learning at the moment about educational theories and the psychologists that created them, and also what works best in a
20/10/2014 • 7 minutes 44 seconds
Photos of Washington State, 1.
The photo for today's podcast, comes from a calendar of Washington State that I bought yesterday. The photographer is Rick Schafer, well known and loved for his landscape photography of the Pacific Northwest. Though he lives in Oregon, much of his work is about Washington State. And he has his photos in well-known magazines, such as: Conde Nast Golf, Alaska Airlines, and National Park publications. One of my listeners had asked me a long time ago to show scenes of Washington State, as this is where I live. However, my photos are scattered throughout the house, and limited. So, when I found this calendar, I immediately knew that I needed to borrow these beautiful scenes (and of course, I give Rick Schafer all the credit). This is the first of 12 scenes in the calendar, and it's actually taken from the month of July. The photo is of the Columbia River Gorge, which is close to where I live. The two flowers you can see are typically found in these dry, semi-desert areas in spring and summe
09/10/2014 • 3 minutes 42 seconds
St. Joe's Harvest Fundraiser.
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 looke
30/09/2014 • 7 minutes 7 seconds
The Scottish Referendum.
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.
25/09/2014 • 8 minutes 26 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #35 + Interactive English.
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!
Click the link for the Android app
22/09/2014 • 17 minutes 51 seconds
Soccer rivals and friends.
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
18/09/2014 • 7 minutes 11 seconds
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
15/09/2014 • 8 minutes 12 seconds
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
12/09/2014 • 7 minutes 28 seconds
Number 5 of A London View + Extras
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
05/09/2014 • 6 minutes 25 seconds
A London View.
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 the
04/09/2014 • 8 minutes 51 seconds
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 t
28/06/2014 • 7 minutes 32 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #34 + Interactive English.
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!
Click the link for the Android app
23/06/2014 • 16 minutes 45 seconds
I laughed when I saw the cartoon scene from this podcast, of a boy talking to his teacher, and giving a very weak excuse as to(1) why he hadn't done his homework. I remember telling a similar tale(2) to the principal of my elementary school. However, all those years ago, we didn't have computers, and we certainly had never heard of technology viruses. I told him that my mother had burned my homework. "She burned it?" he exclaimed, looking at me with judging eyes. Of course, he knew that I was lying, and I knew that he knew. Why did I even try to lie to my principal? I suppose I was scared of his anger; I didn't expect him to be ok with me not doing(3) the homework. Plus it's always easy to blame your mother when she's not around. I come across similar situations with my children, "Robert, why didn't you clean up your mess?" An answer to that is often, "Domini didn't clean up hers either." In English we call it 'pointing the finger'. We mention someone else's fault to make ourselves loo
19/06/2014 • 7 minutes 41 seconds
While substitute teaching in a local school for an art teacher, I came across junk art. I had heard of it(1), but I had never really looked into it. Actually, elementary school art often involves items that are for recycling, like boxes, bottles, or packages. However, there is a difference between using recycled objects for art projects, and junk art. In junk art, the object used is not disguised by colors, shapes, or textures. Pablo Picasso was the first well-known artist to include junk in one of his pictures, in fact, he stuck a piece of a chair onto a painting. Later, junk art was practiced and perfected by(2) Marcel Duchamp. As I looked around the art room where I was teaching, a red glow caught my eye. The color was coming from(3) a string of fairy lights that had been placed inside empty, red cartridges that had been used in a shot gun. Usually, these are just thrown away. However, someone must have had the idea of saving them for a creative reason. I think that the idea of usi
12/06/2014 • 7 minutes 3 seconds
A snake in my hand.
Our recent camping trip turned out to be more interesting than I had expected. My family and I drove up to a remote forest area near Lake Chelan. There were no houses nearby, and only a few signs of human life(1). We set up our campsite next to a dirt path, overlooking a spectacular view of some distant mountains. It is very dry this time of year, but there are enough trees to offer some welcome shade(2). We rode our dirt bikes, built a campfire, the boys did some target practice with their BB guns, and we generally relaxed and explored. Some friends also joined us, one of whom is a hunter, and a bit of an animal expert. When he arrived, before he even said, "Hello," he presented us with a snake that he had just found on the property. "It's a kind of Boa," he explained. We all leaned forward to have a better look. It was small and green, and seemed to be a very gentle creature. It doesn't eat, bite, or sting humans, so I was quite happy to hold it. My daughter, who is an animal lover,
06/06/2014 • 7 minutes 15 seconds
My First Book.
For the past five weeks, I've been working on a very exciting project. It is something that I've wanted to do for years and years, but have not got around to doing it.(1) I have written my first ebook. It's called , and is free for one month at Smashwords.com. The book is for older children or young adults, and is a silly, funny story about a substitute teacher who gets involved in an adventure when she goes to work at a certain school. The story actually came to me(2) when I was substitute teaching in a local elementary school here in Wenatchee. The language level is perfect for English language learners, as it is not too complicated. The process of writing the book, formatting it for online reading, and finding an artist for the front cover, was long and exhausting. However, I'm so happy that it's finished and available to anyone. My family was surprised when I told them about it. My husband said, "That explains why you haven't been doing much housework recently." Yes, the laundry ha
29/05/2014 • 6 minutes 9 seconds
An App For Android.
Do you find waiting frustrating at times? I do, especially when I'm waiting for someone else to complete their work, so that a project can be finished. Waiting for emails, paperwork, for someone to make his or her(1) mind up, or waiting for a telephone call, can all be exasperating(2). When I think about it, I realize that I always have a project going on. It's either one thing or another. I love projects; I love having an idea, doing some work, and seeing that idea become a reality. In my garden, it's simple. It's all up to me. I get the idea, I plan, I work, and I finish. However, when other people are involved, it's not that simple. Immigration papers are a perfect example. When I was trying to get my mother's immigration papers for the U.S approved, it was as painful as pulling teeth out. We had to wait. We had to make phone calls. We had to fill out more papers. And we had to wait again, for months and months. I can't complain, because, in the end she got her green card. The proje
21/05/2014 • 7 minutes 4 seconds
The Brilliant Bee.
If you can see the photo of the bee that I recently took in my garden, you will see that it is right in the middle of a big flower. It is sitting on its target(1), working to get the pollen and the nectar. Bees are determined(2) little creatures that always make me feel lazy when I compare myself to them. I assumed that there were a few different kinds of bees, but I had no idea that there are 20,000 different kinds. Some live in communities, and some live alone. Some produce honey by gathering nectar and pollen, and others spend their time stealing those two things, instead of getting their own. We get honey and beeswax from them, but, more importantly, they are the pollinators of the world. They actually have an electrostatic charge(3), which makes pollen stick to their furry bodies, so, as they go from flower to flower, they pollinate without even realising. As well as a furry body, they have a long proboscis which is like a tongue, and two pairs of wings. Not all bees sting. The h
16/05/2014 • 7 minutes 52 seconds
Shapes and mosaics.
Have you ever seen a diamond made up of circles? Or a mosaic(1) made up(2) of straight lines? Art that is based on geometric shapes can be fascinating. In Seatac airport near Seattle, I discovered a picture that uses only geometric shapes. It actually wasn't a painting; it was a panel of lights, each one having a color and shape in front. The main shape was a diamond or a rhombus, made up of multiple lines. Each line was a different color, and made up of many circles. The combination of colors was very striking. But what I liked more than that was its imperfection. The lines were not perfectly straight. The circles had tiny shapes inside of them, sometimes triangles, sometimes stars, but these were irregular. The art work reminded me of a picture I have at home by an artist called Paul Klee. It's called Cityscape, and is made up of squares, rectangles, triangles, parallelograms(3), trapezoids(4), and one large circle, representing the sun. I don't know why I find the combination of sha
12/05/2014 • 7 minutes 24 seconds
I have been in and out of the sporting goods store recently, as my children are all involved in sports. I had to get some soccer shoes for my daughter, and some shin pads(1), so we made another visit to the place. I don't particularly like to shop; I have to do it more than I would like to(2). My daughter, however, adores shopping. It's always a problem taking her to any clothes shop, as she sees many things that she loves and wants to have. I usually move around the shop as fast as I can, buy what I need, and leave, before she can fall in love with trousers, t-shirts, shoes, and hats. "What's the rush, mum?" she'll ask me. "I just have a lot to do at home, darling," will be my reply, as I drag(3) her out of the shop. When we went to get her shoes, though, I took my time, gazing(4) at the latest Nike soccer shoes. They were so attractive and impressive. Bright colors are in fashion now, on the soccer field, so I had to photograph a row of beautiful Nike shoes. The company has a knack f
29/04/2014 • 8 minutes 33 seconds
Birds in Spring.
As I was cleaning the kitchen sink yesterday, I saw something move outside. There is a red leaved tree right outside the kitchen window, so the movement could have been one of the leaves. I looked carefully, and through the shadows, the lines of lights, and the leaves that were rising and falling(1), I saw a bird. It was hopping about on a branch, and looking at me. In its mouth was a white feather, which contrasted with its own dark brown color. "It's nesting," I thought to myself. All of the birds in my back garden are doing the same thing. They are busy, and noisy, and aggressive at the moment; they have a very important job to do, and a short time in which to do it. The eggs will be coming soon, and then the chicks, so their home has to be ready, and just right. Last year, I noticed another bird building a nest in the bird house that is also just outside of the kitchen. It was trying to get into the bird house, through the small, round hole. However, in its mouth were some long pie
25/04/2014 • 7 minutes 9 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #33 + Interactive English.
1. Peter: Hi Liz, hey great jacket.
2. Liz: Thanks Peter. It's new. What do you think? Does it suit me?
3. Peter: Yes, its the perfect color for you.
4. Liz: I decided that it's time for a new coat. My other clothes are for the winter, and I end up getting too hot, now that it is spring.
5. Peter: I know what you mean. The weather changes a lot; sometimes the wind is quite cold, and then the next thing you know, it's sunny.
6. Liz: Exactly. That's why I bought this jacket. It's a wind blocker, and it's light. I can have more layers of clothing underneath.
Peter: I didn't know you were so fashionable, Liz!
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24/04/2014 • 14 minutes 1 second
An Easter Wish.
On Saturday, I scrambled(1) to buy as much chocolate as I could. It had to be really good chocolate, Swiss. I had a project in mind(2), and I only had a few hours to finish it. I had decided to make an English style chocolate Easter egg for my children. Traditionally, in England, that is the gift that we give on Easter Sunday. The egg represents new life, and new hope; it's one of the main symbols of Easter. And you wouldn't believe the sizes of some of the chocolate eggs that you can find in the shops in the U.K. Over here, a very different tradition takes place. People boil eggs, and then color them. They will then hide them all over the garden, or in a park, and children have to find them. The Easter bunny is also a well-loved(3) Easter character, but really a commercial one. It has taken me a very long time to get used to boiled eggs instead of chocolate ones. Honestly, I still haven't got used to that. So, I set about(4) making the Easter egg. I unwrapped several bars of chocolate
21/04/2014 • 11 minutes 55 seconds
The Grey Dove.
There is a bird in my back garden that has a special meaning for me. Here they call it a dove; in England its name is a wood pigeon. It isn't spectacular to look at, in fact it's quite difficult to see because it is mainly grey. Its looks vary from country to country. Here it is totally light grey, whereas in England, it has a blue-green head, and some pink on its belly. Both, however, make a haunting(1) sound that takes me back to my childhood. As I grew up in a small, rural town, surrounded by farms and woods, I heard the call of the wood pigeon most of the year. I used to climb trees a lot, and sit and daydream(2) in them, so I became familiar with the sounds of all the different birds. The wood pigeon sounds like an owl; it hoots or coos(3) five times in a row. The sound is soothing(4). Now that I live in the country, after spending years in cities, I have found wood pigeons again, and it feels like I'm back, as a little girl, sitting in my tree daydreaming. They are a strong bird
15/04/2014 • 9 minutes 58 seconds
A Way To Save.
Today, as I drove my oldest son to High School, we got stuck in traffic. The road where we were stuck isn't usually a busy one. It is a windy road that goes through a residential area. The people in the traffic jam were not adults going to work; they were highschoolers. Here in the U.S, most students who are 16 years old or older have cars. Often they work after school to pay for the gas and insurance, and perhaps also to make the monthly car payment(1). They spend a lot of time working, so they can afford to have a car. Of course, it's not necessary when there are buses; however, it's an expectation. As I sat in the traffic jam, I thought about how wasteful the situation is. If only half of the students had cars, a lot of people would save money and time. Two people could travel to school in each car, instead of just one per car. There could be a car pooling(2) system, so a car owner could receive a little money for giving other students a lift. That would help him to pay for the gas,
08/04/2014 • 10 minutes 37 seconds
On Sunday, we had a family picnic. It was one of the rare days(1) when the children didn't have any sports tournaments, and the weather was perfect. We quickly made plans to go down to a local river to spend a few hours. The river was quite high because it is early spring, and there is a lot of snow melting(2) in the mountains, filling the rivers and streams. We walked along the riverbank until we found a flat, beach area where we set up our chairs, food, and equipment. When I say equipment, I mean specifically our metal detector, and our gold panning (3)tools. There is gold in the Wenatchee Valley; a gold mine was quite profitable for many years. And now, you can find small deposits (4)here and there, especially in river banks. After we ate, we immediately started digging up the muddy sand, putting it in the sieve(5), and rinsing it in the river. As the fine mud washed away, small rocks and bits and pieces were left behind. It was so exciting whenever we would find a shiny, yellow fla
25/03/2014 • 9 minutes 43 seconds
An eye exam and parts of the eye.
At this time of year, the schools have tests of all kinds for the children. Reading and writing tests, math skills tests, and tomorrow, there will be hearing and vision tests for the whole school. If you think about it, the two last mentioned tests are fundamental; if a child cannot hear or see properly, he will have a very hard time in school. My youngest son had a vision test today with an eye specialist. He had had a reading test the other day that raised a few questions about his eyes. His eyes are very sensitive to the white and black contrast of the print and the paper. It was found that when a blue plastic sheet was put on top of a text, then he could see the words clearly and read properly. This is considered a syndrome of the eye called Scotopic Sensitivity. I had never heard of it. It is a newly found syndrome, apparently. It is so new that some eye specialists don't take it seriously. Well, I bought some blue plastic to help my son read without getting frustrated, and I also
18/03/2014 • 7 minutes 25 seconds
The Science of Spring.
Primulas are one of the first spring flowers to appear in this area. I was thrilled to see them this morning. Most people I know are excited about the spring, and hoping that the snow will not come back, and that the cold conditions will wait for next Winter. It seems miraculous and surprising when you spot a flower in an area where there are still dead leaves from the previous autumn, and when there are patches of ice still around. So, how is it that plants know when to grow? The science behind it is interesting. During the autumn, a hormone that brings on dormancy(1) builds up(2) in the plant. It makes the plant ‘sleep’ during the coldest months, so the plant is protected from winter damage. The cold of the winter slowly destroys this hormone, and produces a growth hormone which builds up in the plant. Trees and bushes store food in their roots. The warmer temperatures of spring help this food to flow up to the buds. But what about light? We all know that it is essential(3) for plant
10/03/2014 • 7 minutes 32 seconds
The Dining Room.
It has been some time since we had an episode of A Tour of Homes, so today we will take a close look at the dining room. It, like the kitchen and lounge, is a focal point of family life. A lot of good things happen here, and it is a place where we celebrate special occasions. This room centers around a table and chairs. Here in Western society, there are often more than four chairs around a table. When there is a special occasion, often friends and family come to celebrate, so more chairs are needed. The table is 'laid' (what we say in England), or 'set' (which is what we say in the U.S.) To do this, we need cutlery, crockery, glasses, sometimes a table cloth or a 'runner' which is a much skinnier version of a table cloth, and a salt and pepper shaker, and perhaps some candles. Don't forget serviettes, or napkins as they call them here in the U.S. For special times, the table can be decorated with candles, flowers, or some craft type arrangement. Here in the North West, it is very popu
06/03/2014 • 8 minutes 5 seconds
Recently, we gave our dog, Foxy, to another family. It was a difficult decision, but a necessary one. She is a working dog, very intelligent and very active, and she needs a job. The family that has adopted her has other dogs of her breed, a lot of land, and horses. She is in a much better situation, and is able to run over acres and acres every day. Now, my other dog, Rosie, has become more of a spoiled house dog. She has a very different personality, and it seems, her instincts are focused on eating, sleeping, and being petted. Leave the exercise to the athletes! Her life has also changed for the better, but now she has a different challenge: the cat. Lilly, my miniature tiger, owns the house, or at least she thinks she does. She and Rosie don't tolerate each other; they have different ideologies. But, are they really natural enemies? Research will tell you how similar they are: they both walk on four legs, they are carnivores, they have super senses of smell and hearing, and they ar
04/03/2014 • 7 minutes 32 seconds
A Volcanic Project.
"Mum, I want to make a volcano," said my son Cass on Sunday morning. "You know, the kind that we can make out of paper," he added. That is an unusual request for a Sunday morning. Papier mache is what he was talking about. I remember making heads and masks out of papier mache in school. We would blow up balloons, and then cover them with a mixture of torn up newspapers, flour, and water, and then leave them to dry for a couple of days. Then, the balloons would be popped and removed, and we would paint and decorate the project. Sounds like fun. This would be a bit more special because, in its center, we would put a plastic container, into which vinegar and baking soda could be poured, in order to get the bubbling, lava-like reaction. We sat and brainstormed for a while: what its base would be, did we have enough newspaper, how to make the lava realistic, could we put model villages at the base of the volcano, etc etc. Our imaginations took off. After we came to a consensus, we made the
27/02/2014 • 7 minutes 41 seconds
U.S. Health Care.
You have probably heard that President Barack Obama signed into law his medical reform bill. 'Obama Care' is its nick name. Some people are very excited about this new development, and other people are not. The question of whether the U.S. needs universal health care has been debated for months. The government has been split about the idea. Democrats, in general, are in favor of it, but Republicans have not wanted it. The main problem is cost. The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. There are lots of federal programs that help people receive health care. The two biggest ones are Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare supplies low-cost health insurance to the elderly and disabled, while Medicaid is for the poor. All of these programs are very expensive to run, and yet not everybody is covered. There are millions who have no health care coverage. Even those who can afford health insurance are not guaranteed help for all of their needs; some who have a pre-existing condition
26/02/2014 • 8 minutes 27 seconds
Part 2 of Basic Pronunciation Practice #32 + Interactive English.
Liz: I came as soon as I found out. How is she?
Parent: Thank you, Liz. She went straight into the operating theater when she got to the hospital, and now she's sleeping. She'll recover, but it'll take a while.
Liz: Car accidents are so scary.
Parent: I know. We're just so happy that she's alright. The person who hit her was busy texting, not even watching the road. He's also in this hospital, but not much happened to him.
Liz: Oh my gosh! Everyone should ignore their phones while they're driving.
Parent: I agree. I suppose it's easier said than done.
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25/02/2014 • 12 minutes 14 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #32 + Interactive English.
Liz: I came as soon as I found out. How is she?
Parent: Thank you, Liz. She went straight into the operating theater when she got to the hospital, and now she's sleeping. She'll recover, but it'll take a while.
Liz: Car accidents are so scary.
Parent: I know. We're just so happy that she's alright. The person who hit her was busy texting, not even watching the road. He's also in this hospital, but not much happened to him.
Liz: Oh my gosh! Everyone should ignore their phones while they're driving.
Parent: I agree. I suppose it's easier said than done.
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25/02/2014 • 12 minutes 7 seconds
Strawberries and Cream.
Easter Sunday, a day of family, celebration, and fun. Today, after church, my family and I got together with my in-laws in the East Wenatchee Country Club for lunch. The club is actually for golf, but even if you don't golf, you can go to the restaurant which is really very good. For special occasions, their kitchen puts on quite a spread. Today they had lamb, ham, and chicken with mushrooms. Often they will serve prime rib beef which just melts in your mouth. And for those of you who are vegetarians, they also have a variety of egg and bean dishes with lots of fruits and vegetables. We dressed up a little more than usual for this lunch; it's a tradition, I suppose. While we ate, the children had an Easter egg hunt on the golf course. It was so cute to see little girls running around in their pretty dresses carrying baskets, and the boys dressed up like little men, all searching for the plastic eggs that had been hidden by the club staff. As we ate, we chatted away, and finished up wit
21/02/2014 • 9 minutes
Leavenworth is fast becoming my favorite local place to have lunch. I took my mother up there today for a yummy trip to Pav's restaurant as an early Mother's Day gift. It was a perfect day, sunny and cool. Actually, they had had a heavy snowfall a few days previously which everyone thought was a bit crazy, but considering that it is a mountainous region, it's not that surprising. We wandered around the main streets a little and window shopped, until we got hungry enough for lunch. Pav's opens at eleven thirty, and we got there bang on time. We were the first ones there, so we chose the very best spot to sit. After we had ordered, we chatted, both admiring the surroundings at the same time. The metalwork on the walls caught our attention, and as we commented on it, the waitress told us that they had bought it all from Haiti. Each piece was for sale, she said, but they weren't sure if they would ever get any more, because of the situation in Haiti at the moment. "They are made out of oil
20/02/2014 • 7 minutes 46 seconds
Strength and Flexibility.
I was just listening to a Swiss podcast about health. The presenters were talking about free radicals and how to fight them. They first of all listed all the situations in life that cause free radicals to be produced in our bodies: emotional and physical stress, pollution, medicines, a poor diet, alcohol, smoking and more. Jokingly, one of the presenters asked, "What doesn't produce free radicals?" because it seems that everything does. A discussion developed about a healthy life style, the importance of eating right, and how physical activity is crucial to general good health. So, what are good forms of exercise? Walking and swimming are probably the two best; you get the most movement with the least strain. Then there is cycling, running, weight training, ball sports, types of skiing, and yoga. Really, anything that moves your body, uses your muscles, and increases your heart rate is good. There are different benefits to different types of exercise. Some will build muscle, while othe
18/02/2014 • 8 minutes 39 seconds
I heard today that eating nuts helps to lower bad cholesterol. That's good news because I love nuts of all kinds. I always have a stash of almonds and walnuts in the fridge. Apparently, in order to have the full benefits of these nuts, they should be plain: not salted, not sugared, and obviously not roasted. There are some naturally occurring chemicals in nuts that counteract the LDL (or low-density lipoprotein which is the actual name of the bad cholesterol). You probably all know that here in the U.S there is quite a cholesterol problem. Obesity is on the rise, and of course, all of the related diseases as well. As I was thinking about this today, I remembered a sign that I saw in the recent carnival a few weeks ago. It was a list of some fast food items that were particularly high in saturated fat, sugar, refined flour, and all of those dangerous foods. If you check out the blog you will see the photo of the list. The worst item, I think, was the 'deep fried candy bar'. Wow! Just im
12/02/2014 • 7 minutes 37 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice part 2 + Interactive English.
Liz: Thank you guys for all your help. I couldn't have organized this event without you!
Mary and Peter: You're welcome.
Mary: There's no way that one person could do all the work, and get it done on time.
Peter: It's a pleasure to help. I really think that the concert will be a success.
Mary: Yep. I've heard that the community is buying a lot of tickets. The way things are going, we'll be able to raise all the money we need for our health and safety campaign.
Liz: Let's hope so. We've tied up the loose ends, so that's it! I can't believe the concert is in two days!
Peter: Me neither. Talking on the radio and to the newspapers made all the difference, Liz. Well done for that!
Liz: I think so too. I'm looking forward to seeing the money come in, so we can afford a great health campaign.
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11/02/2014 • 11 minutes 41 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #31 + Interactive English.
Liz: Thank you guys for all your help. I couldn't have organized this event without you!
Mary and Peter: You're welcome.
Mary: There's no way that one person could do all the work, and get it done on time.
Peter: It's a pleasure to help. I really think that the concert will be a success.
Mary: Yep. I've heard that the community is buying a lot of tickets. The way things are going, we'll be able to raise all the money we need for our health and safety campaign.
Liz: Let's hope so. We've tied up the loose ends, so that's it! I can't believe the concert is in two days!
Peter: Me neither. Talking on the radio and to the newspapers made all the difference, Liz. Well done for that!
Liz: I think so too. I'm looking forward to seeing the money come in, so we can afford a great health campaign.
Join me on my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish.
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10/02/2014 • 12 minutes 37 seconds
What's for breakfast?
What do you feel like eating in the morning? Are you a breakfast eater, or do you just have a coffee or tea? There are so many things to choose from when it comes to the first meal of the day. Traditionally, in England, we have what is called the 'great British breakfast'. It is a substantial meal; if you happen to miss lunch, it doesn't matter because you will still be full with breakfast. Normally it includes: bacon (meaty not fatty), eggs, toast, stewed, skinless tomatoes, sausages, sometimes some black pudding (or blood sausage), orange juice, and coffee or tea. It's perfect if you are going to do lots of physical labor all day. Personally, I can't eat very much straight away after waking up. My stomach isn't ready. I need to be awake a good hour before having a heavy breakfast. A lighter, sweeter kind of breakfast would be french toast or waffles. They are two of my children's favorites. And, nowadays waffles are very conveniently found in the frozen breakfast aisle, in the superm
05/02/2014 • 8 minutes 44 seconds
As I was going to the recycling center today, I passed the postman (or, the mail man in U.S). He was sitting in his cute little mail van, next to the mail boxes where he was inserting all of the letters, cards, and junk mail. I pulled over and asked him for our mail which he very kindly gave me. Back in the car, I had a quick look through the collection of things that he had given me, and I found two official looking envelopes from the U.S Department of State, - the place where you get important documents. "I don't believe it," I said to myself, "they've arrived!" The passports that I had sent off for, for my two youngest children, had been issued. When I sent in the applications, I was told that it would take six weeks. It had taken only three, so I was amazed to see them in my hands. It's a miracle! Government paperwork has been completed early! This is one for the history books! Okay, I won't go on. I opened the envelopes and found two, brand new, dark blue U.S passports. Of course
04/02/2014 • 7 minutes 21 seconds
Do it yourself and win $5000.
Do-it-yourself is more than a hobby in this town. It is more like a craze. When a job needs to be done around the house, a lot of people will do it themselves, instead of hiring someone else. You don't always need to be an expert to fix a pipe, to paint a wall, to hang a door, or to replace a window. You just need to know how to do it, and you also need the right tools. There are a couple of stores where I live that supply those two things. They have employees who are very knowledgeable about all 'fix it' possibilities. And they have aisle after aisle of tools and equipment which will help you get the job done. As you might have guessed, these stores are huge. They are the biggest shops in the whole town, and they are always busy. They have a gardening section, a lawn care area, a lighting area, a lumber yard (which is where different kinds of wood sheets are available), doors, bathroom and kitchen appliances, floor coverings, paint, and tools. Phew! You could be in there for weeks wit
31/01/2014 • 9 minutes 1 second
A Tree House.
My children have begged my husband for years to build them a tree house. He has said "No," for a long time, but in 2013, for some reason(1), he changed his mind. I always agreed with the kids, because secretly, I think it would be very exciting to have a tree house. So, when he told us that he wanted our ideas about the project, we were all surprised and excited. The kids drew all sorts of designs, some realistic, and some pure fantasy. As Tom and the boys were going to do all of the building, the plans had to be very clear and simple. Each person had to know what his job was(2). Also, Tom decided to cut the cost(3) by using unwanted wood and fallen trees from land owned by relatives. So off he and the boys would go in the truck to search for wood. They would come back a few hours later, with the trailer full off tree trunks. One by one they would carry them to the back garden. It was heavy, hard work for the boys, but they're all big and strong, and if they wanted a tree house, they h
27/01/2014 • 8 minutes 51 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #30 + Interactive English.
At the radio station.
Greg: Today we have a special guest from the university who is here to talk to us about the Student Union, and some of its important activities. Welcome, Liz.
Liz: Hello Greg, thanks for having me.
Greg: Congratulations on becoming the Student Union President. What are your goals for the students for this year?
Liz: Three things really. I'm working with the other elected students to increase safety on campus; we'll have visiting speakers from the community who will educate us about safety issues: not walking alone late at night, reporting suspicious behaviors, and keeping personal property safe.
Greg: Good, because crime on campus should be unacceptable, don't you think?
Liz: Absolutely. We're also organizing a big concert to raise money for a health outreach. Some students deal with depression, drug addiction, bullying. So we want to spend that money on speakers, counselors, and workshops. We're also working with the universituy to see if students can get c
24/01/2014 • 18 minutes 14 seconds
A Photo Shoot.
I'm happy to tell you that I'm building a website that will soon replace the blog for A Cup Of English. I'm very excited about the change, and I hope that soon I will have it finished. One thing that I did a few days ago for the website, was to have a personal photo shoot. I have had the podcast for over five years, and have only shown my voice. However, the website will be a little bit more personal, so there will be a page about me, Anna, with a few photos. So you will be able to connect a real human being to the voice that you hear in the podcasts. I normally take photos; I don't usually have them taken of me. So, I'm more comfortable behind a camera, instead of infront of one. I had an idea of what I wanted: relaxed, casual photos of me looking fabulous but professional at the same time. Well, was that too much to ask? The cameraman seemed really nice, but was young and very quiet. He sat me at a desk that was very low, on a chair that was too high, told me to sit up straight, but
23/01/2014 • 7 minutes 27 seconds
Drug addiction in High School.
I made the mistake, last night, of turning up to the High School too early to pick up my son. He was in basketball practice, and still had almost an hour left(1). "Oh, silly me!" I thought to myself. There was no point driving back home and then returning later, so I decided to check my emails on my iPhone. Well, most of them were advertising or spam, and after deleting all that I could, I looked around for something to do. The hallway, where I was waiting, was covered in posters that High Schoolers had made. As I started to read them, I could see that they were all about drug addiction. This is a real problem in High Schools. Somehow drugs make their way(2) into the schools, and have become big business. Often students who are depressed or who have family problems, will start taking drugs as an escape. There is pressure also to look 'cool'(3), and to do what others are doing. I think that having informative posters on the walls about common drugs like LSD, Morphine, Crack, and Marujua
22/01/2014 • 7 minutes 18 seconds
Last year, for the first time, I got involved in(1) a political campaign. A friend of mine decided to run for a position(2) on the local School Board. She is a busy mother of four, and running for that position would take a lot of time and energy, so a group of us decided to help her. The campaign was like many others; she had to get her name out(3) into the community, talk on the radio, go to public events, and attend lots of meetings. It just so happens that(4) those are the sort of things that she does anyway; she is a natural politician. Where I had to help was handing out information flyers on her, and waving banners on the street corners. For years, I have seen other people do that. They stand in small groups, near busy roads, and wave banners that say, "Vote John Brown for Council," or "Vote Judy Green for Mayor". These people generally face the traffic, show the banners, and wave. I could never imagine myself doing that(5). However, when I found out that my friend Jennifer want
17/01/2014 • 10 minutes 37 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #29 + Interactive English.
Liz: Excuse me Professor Cameron.
Prof: Yes Liz.
Liz: I just wanted to hand in my essay today. I know it's due tomorrow, but I won't be here, and I don't want it to be late.
Prof: Ok. What are you up to tomorrow?
Liz: Actually, I'm having an interview for the city newspaper.
Prof: Really? About what?
Liz: Well, I was just voted the President of the Student Union.
Liz: Thanks. So I will be talking to them about my goals, raising money, and student activities this year.
Prof: I had no idea that you were political, Liz. I look forward to reading the article.
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16/01/2014 • 12 minutes 43 seconds
Just a trifle.
When it's a special time of year, most cultures celebrate, among other ways(1), with traditional food. In England, we have lots of special food, both savory and sweet, that we enjoy during Christmas and the New Year. I have started my own tradition of making English trifle during the winters. It is a very well-known dish that can be enjoyed any time, really. But for me, because it is my favorite, I keep it for the winter holiday season. One reason for that is that it is creamy. In the long, cold winter months, most people I know feel like eating heavier food. Instead of salads and other light dishes, we feel like rich food, lots of calories, things like meat, potatoes, cheeses, and cream. Well, I'm a fan of cream, but it has to be respected: don't use too much, and don't make it too sweet. I make trifle from scratch(2), and cream makes it extra special. The base of a trifle is custard: a mixture of milk, eggs, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla. My secret ingredient is evaporated milk whi
11/01/2014 • 9 minutes 21 seconds
Angel of the New Year.
I can't believe it's January, 2014. We say that Christmas 'came and went', which means that it was over very quickly, in the blink of an eye. I know that all around the world, people celebrate New Year's Eve with big parties, and in many different ways. Usually, we have a quiet, family time at home.We typically buy food like smoked salmon, cheeses and wines, and chocolates. As it's cold and dark outside, we always light a fire. And then we watch the New Year being celebrated around the world on telelvision. It's a quiet, lazy evening for us. However, this year was quite different. We were invited to the house of a couple who always have a big celebration on New Year's Eve. They have what we call an 'open house'. It means that anyone can turn up. Their house is really decorated with Christmas lights outside; it looks like something out of Disney Land. They have won awards for their decorations, and often you will see cars slow down as they drive by, so the people in the cars can have a
06/01/2014 • 9 minutes 59 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #28 + Interactive English.
Jennifer: Hi Liz, I just thought I'd come by to say "Hi", and "Happy New Year."
Liz: Happy New Year to you too Jennifer. Did you have a nice time with your family?
Jennifer: Yes, we just had a quiet and relaxing time. A few friends came over and we had dinner. How about you?
Liz: I had an amazing time. A large group of us went to China Town for the celebrations. I was amazed at how exciting and lively they were. We usually have a quiet New Year's Eve, so I was really surprised at the difference.
Jennifer: So what did you all do?
Liz: Well, first of all we had dinner: fish and dumplings, delicious! You know how much I love fish! Then we walked through the center of China Town to see all the decorations; there were lanterns and red paper art everywhere. I bought an upside down 'Fu' and 'Dui Lian' to hang in my room, for future good luck and prosperity. Then the fireworks started. Oh my goodness, they went on all night. Infact, the celebrations go on for about two weeks! We actually
06/01/2014 • 15 minutes 18 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #27 + Interactive English.
Peter: Are you going home for the holidays?
Liz: Yes I am. We're going to have a big, family get-together. It'll be fun, but there's loads to do. I think my mother is already stressed.
Peter: Stressed? Why get stressed at such a fun time of year?
Liz: She doesn't choose to get stressed. It's just what often happens. She has most of the responsibility for the get-together, so there is a lot to think about.
Peter: I can't see what the fuss is all about. She just has to do the cooking, right?
Liz: No, there's much more to organize. She has to make the sleeping arrangements for all the visitors, including buying more bedding. We can't have eighty year old aunt Betty sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag. Then there's the food. I don't think we have enough chairs, so where will everyone sit for dinner? My job will be to make a huge grocery list, buy everything, and then put it all away neatly. My Dad and I will drive to the airport to pick everyone up, but they're all arriving at dif
16/12/2013 • 13 minutes 56 seconds
Little Eiffel Tower.
A few weeks ago, I went to pick up my son from High School. Usually I park away from the heavy traffic, on the right side of the parking lot, and he meets me there. I usually sit waiting for a few minutes, and catch up with(1) my emails while I wait. This particular day though, I suddenly heard the back of the car open, and a voice say, "Hey Mom, can you help me with this?" I looked back and saw an enormous, brown, wooden tower. Hudson was carrying it, and it was so large that I couldn't even see him. "Wow!" I said, as I jumped out of the car(2). "Let me put the back seats down for you(3), otherwise, it won't fit in the back." I lowered the two back seats of the car, and helped Hudson put his creation from his art lesson in carefully. As we drove home he showed me the gift certificate(4) that he and his team mates had won for building this mini- Eiffel Tower. "Well done, darling," I said. "It's quite a work of art." The night before, he had asked me if I had any extra Christmas lights
06/12/2013 • 11 minutes 7 seconds
A Glowing 'Starpath'.
'Luminous', 'glowing', 'radiating' are the words which came to my mind(1) after reading an article about a very special, new technology. It's called 'Starpath', an earth-friendly(2), inexpensive, and efficient way to light our streets. A company in England called Pro-Teq Surfacing, has developed a material made out of ultraviolet particles. These particles are spread onto a path, where they absorb sunlight during the day, and then they glow(3) blue at night. The first public demonstration of this took place in the city of Cambridge. I found a photograph of the path in the newspaper called 'The Telegraph', and it does show the path glowing at night. This is a very exciting development in lighting because it is clean, sustainable(4), and very cheap. I can imagine the cost of lighting our streets with traditional street lamps. However, this Starpath technology could cut our national lighting costs by hundreds of millions each year. We certainly cannot do without(5) light at night, to keep
02/12/2013 • 9 minutes 15 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #26 + Interactive English.
Brian: "What are all these boxes doing out in the hall?"
Liz: "I decided that it was finally time for me to get organized?"
Brian: "You? Organized?"
Liz: "I'm not that bad, am I?"
Brian: "Well, I don't know anyone else who loses her keys everyday, or her phone, or her bag."
Liz: "That's called being normal."
Brian: "Well, I don't lose my things everyday."
Liz: "That's because you're not normal, ha, ha! I've made a resolution: I will be more organized. I'll use my iPhone calendar. I'll get rid of my junk, and become more efficient."
Brian: "Wow! God help us all! An efficient Liz is hard to imagine."
Liz: "That's because overly organized people like you lack imagination."
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12/11/2013 • 10 minutes 37 seconds
A Creepy Education.
Recently, when I was substitute teaching in a local school, I came across a very unusual creature. It was an Austrian leaf bug. It was in the elementary classroom, along with(1) other animals such as a corn snake, a hampster, and an old display of tarantulas, moths, and beetles. This particular(2) insect didn't catch my eye at all at first because it was perfectly camouflaged. It was hanging from a raspberry branch, but it was so still, and looked so much like a dry leaf, that I thought there were no creatures in the cage at all. I asked the students about their classroom pets, and they had lots to say. They called the bugs, "gross", "wierd", "freaky", and even "boring". "They don't do much," said one boy. "They just hang there all day. They eat, and they poop, and that's all." I took a video of one of them and then looked them up on the internet. I found out that they are not as boring as they seem(3). They live a long time: 18 months for females, and about 6 months for males. The fem
04/11/2013 • 8 minutes 39 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice + Interactive English #25.
John: Hi Liz, are you still playing with that thing?
Liz: Oh yes, hi John. I'm still getting used to my new iPhone. I'm getting to know the apps really well.
John: I can see that. I was standing next to you for 5 minutes before you looked up.
Liz: Oh gosh, sorry! It's just so fascinating. I actually missed the bus yesterday because I wasn't paying attention.
John: Well, at least you weren't waiting to catch a plane!
Liz: Ha! Yes! It's absorbing a lot of my time at the moment. But, once I get used to it, I'm sure I'll be back to normal.
John: Sure, it takes a while to get used to new technology. How are you liking the bigger bill?
Liz: Not much. But I suppose you get what you pay for. Why do they make cell phone bills so complicated: data, minutes, plans, taxes, surcharges? It's more confusing than my Science teacher!
John: I know. I just pay the bill, and hope that they're being honest.
Would you like to join my FACEBOOK page? It's called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Just send m
18/10/2013 • 13 minutes 30 seconds
In the United States, young men and women are allowed to start driving lessons when they are fifteen. They apply for an 'Initial Permit', take lessons, and have the opportunity to drive the family car. They have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian(1) who is over 21 and who has a proper(2) driver's license. After a year of good driving, on their sixteenth birthday, they can get their driver's license. None of this meant anything to me until my oldest son, Hudson, asked me if he could apply for his initial permit. "What!" I said to myself. "This is crazy! He's only fifteen! His brain isn't fully developed yet!" When I had calmed down, I realised that everybody starts young over here. And, the best way to keep my son safe, is to allow him to get proper training, and lots of experience. So, even though(3) I would like to say "No", I haven't. I am actually the one who sits next to him when he is driving around. Thankfully, he is very careful. It's nerve wracking(4), however, as a pare
15/10/2013 • 10 minutes 27 seconds
As I look at the calendar, I realise that I have about five weeks left, five weeks before the snow 'flies'(1). There are lots of things to do before the beautiful, white blanket of snow covers our town. I'm a gardener, a self-proclaimed (2)addict. But that's not a bad thing. As I sit here typing, looking out at the back garden, or 'yard' as they say here, I see a transformation slowly evolving. There is a long, raised bed(3) of soil, two trees, and one, two, three bushes. Soon, I hope, that amount will be multiplied by four. So what is my goal? It's a mini-forest that will have a seating area in the middle, accessed only by two windy(4) paths. It will also hide the neighbor's ugly white barn that looks over my garden. To take on a project like this, you have to have a vision. And my vision has helped me to continue working hard. When the soil or 'dirt' was delivered, I thought, "Gosh, that's a lot of soil. Will I really be able to transport all of it from the front garden to the back g
10/10/2013 • 10 minutes 38 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice + Interactive English # 24.
John: What have you got there?
Liz: Oh, it's a new cell phone.
John: Nice. Is it a smart phone?
Liz: Yep. I decided that it was about time for me to get one.
John: What kind is it?
Liz: An iPhone 4S; it's quite basic really. There are newer models, but this is all I need.
John: Well, you've got internet access and a camera. I think those are so useful.
Liz: And don't forget the apps. They really make life easier. My favorite is Google Maps. It's free, and there is a pleasant voice that tells me exactly where to go and when. I never get lost!
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04/10/2013 • 11 minutes 16 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #23 + Interactive English.
Sam: So Liz, are you going to go to the doctor, or do I have to take you myself?
Liz: Yes, yes, I'm planning on going. You don't have to force me; believe me, I feel terrible.
Sam: Well, you look terrible.
Liz: Oh thanks! That makes me feel better.
Sam: You know what I mean. Look, you've had a temperature for two days, you have a sore throat, and you have no energy. If I were you, I would go immediately.
Liz: Yes, I suppose you're right. It's just that....
Liz: I hate hospitals, and clinics, and needles, and pills....
Sam: So do I. I don't even like smell of hospitals, but what choice do you have? If you delay seeing a doctor, you might end up with an infection. And you know what that means.
Liz: Yes, antibiotics. Okay, you've convinced me. I'll call and make an appointment.
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19/09/2013 • 13 minutes 42 seconds
Messing about on the river.
These September days are glorious. They are still extremely sunny, but there is a coolness in the air which makes it easier(1) to be outside. On Sunday, we took a trip to Leavenworth, a nearby town. I often go there for a change of scenery. It is very mountainous and well kept(2). The town has been deliberately made to look German, and the calendar in Leavenworth is full of special German-style(3) celebrations. The reason we went, was to go to the park. What makes it special, is that part of it is an island, called Black Bird Island. It is surrounded by the Wenatchee River, and accessible from one bridge. As you cross the bridge, you enter into a gentle forest that has a maze(4) of pathways. We walked until we could see the river through the trees, went down an embankment, and chose a spot on one of the rocky, sandy beaches. I found a shady area to sit and take photos, while my kids took off their socks and shoes and got straight into the water. They became hunters, hunters of fish and
12/09/2013 • 7 minutes 45 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #22 + Interactive English.
Samantha: Hello Liz!
Liz: Hi Samantha! How are you?
Samantha: Really well thanks. I'm calling because I have a question.
Liz: Oh, go ahead.
Samantha: Do you want to join us for the protest tomorrow?
Liz: What protest?
Samantha: Haven't you heard? The teachers' salaries are going to be cut by 30%, and the cost of tuition is going up.
Liz: Oh my gosh! No, I hadn't heard. When will the changes take effect?
Samantha: In a month. So, tomorrow, at noon, the teachers and some students are going to walk from the university to the governor's building in protest. We've got some banners to carry; it'll only take about two hours.
Liz: There won't be any trouble, will there?
Samantha: Oh of course not; it'll be totally peaceful. Nobody wants to cause any trouble. But something has to be said about the cuts, those poor teachers!
Liz: I agree. And students can't afford another rise in tuition. That's crazy! Well, count me in. I will definitely be there.
Samantha: Excellent. We'll meet a
09/09/2013 • 14 minutes 35 seconds
Those of you who have followed my podcasts for a few years, will know that (1) I love trees. One of my dreams is to have a tree farm. Another, more ambitious dream, is to take back (2)deserts by planting heat tolerant trees. At the moment, I can't do any of that, but instead, I spend time in my large garden. I have plans this autumn to (3) plant quite a few trees to create a mini forest, a place of shade and comfort. One tree that I learned about this summer is the Mimosa. It is actually called the Persian Silk Tree, though it originates from China. It has a beautiful, round shape, with many thin leaves, and huge pink flowers that look like collections of feathers. It's also associated with sleep. It's Persian modern name is 'shabkhosh' which means 'sleeping tree', and in Japan its name is 'nemunoki' which means the same. Its leaves slowly close each night and bow down, and that is why it is associated with sleep. I came across this tree at a wedding. The event took place in a large, b
22/08/2013 • 9 minutes 33 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #21+ Interactive English.
Liz: Come on you two, we need to get going.
Mother: I thought we didn't have to leave for another half hour.
Liz: We don't really. I want us to have extra time though, just in case there is a traffic problem.
Father: Good idea Liz. There's nothing worse than rushing to an airport. It's such a hassle!
Liz: Well, is this all your luggage? Tickets? Handbags? Let me help you.
Mother: How about you lock the door and Henry will press the button for the elevator?
Mother: I can't believe that we're leaving already.
Father: Yes, the time has really flown. Great, there's the taxi; come on.
Liz: Mum, are you sure you have your passports? I have a feeling that we're missing something.
Mother: Yes darling, they're right......oh, hang on....they were here. Gosh,I must have left them in the bedrooom!
Liz: Oh great! Tell the taxi to wait. I'll run back up and get them. It's a good job we have some extra time!
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01/08/2013 • 15 minutes 45 seconds
I'll Borrow Your Pitbull.
'There is an animal that helps to fight crime, is therapeutic(1)to be around, and is a good companion. However, this animal is also used for fighting and guarding illegal drugs. It's a Pitbull. It's a dog with a reputation. Over the past few centuries, this dog has been used as a tool and a weapon. When immigrants first came to North America, they brought this mixed breed(2) for defense and hunting. The English had crossed(3) bulldogs with terriers, and the result was an animal that had the best characteristics of both. Bulldogs are very strong and athletic, while terriers have a 'never-give-up' attitude. That combination makes a naturally dominant breed of dog. In fact, pitbulls, along with german shepards and rotweillers, are the three notorious(4) breeds that have been involved in attacks on humans. But there is no concensus about this. Some studies show that it is bad training, no training, and poor conditions that lead these dogs to violence. It's a bit like trying to drive a tank
29/07/2013 • 9 minutes 1 second
Basic Pronunciation Practice 20 + Interactive English.
Liz: It's nice to get back and put our feet up.
Mother: You're telling me! My feet are killing me. But we had such a lovely day, dear.
Father: I had no idea that there were such wonderful museums in this city.
Mother: I could have spent all day in the art gallery.
Liz: Me too Mum; and I was thrilled that there was an exhibition of Paul Klee. I love his work.
Father: No, that's not my cup of tea, - too many squares and rectangles.
Liz: Oh Dad. It's expressionism. There's a world of expression and depth in all his shapes.
Father: Well, there's nothing quite like a Rafael Santi's battle scene.
Liz: That's not my cup of tea, thank you very much. I'm a pacifist.
Mother: Oh, they're all splendid in their own ways. Today was just the ticket. We're so fortunate to have access to great art.
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16/07/2013 • 12 minutes 49 seconds
"It's the best place in Wenatchee," I said to my husband, as I described the new Pybus Market. This all-year-round(1) shopping center and farmer's market is the latest addition(2) to Wenatchee. It is a real step forward for this town which, up until now, hasn't had a substantial farmer's market. Also, because our climate has very cold, snowy winters, and very hot summers, we need a place indoors where shoppers can find fresh produce and locally made goods. But it's not only about food. There is a certain amount of art in Pybus. Past the rows of fruit shops, cafes, and a bistro, is a side door that leads to a very different space. The first thing you see is a huge, unfinished clay(3) statue of Mr. Pybus, the English immigrant who built the steel(4) building that now houses this market. Beyond him, is a very hot and colorful corner of activity: glass blowing. It's the first I've ever seen in Wenatchee. There is a long, glass display cabinet full of large, ornaments of all colors of the r
11/07/2013 • 8 minutes 42 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice #19 plus Interactive English.
Liz: I hope the food gets here soon; I'm starving!
Father: Yes, sorry I slept for so long, I just couldn't seem to wake up.
Liz: That's alright Dad. It's better that you sleep than be grumpy all day.....
Father: Me? Grumpy? Never!
Liz: So, after breakfast what would you two like to do first? Art museum or park?
Mother: Well, we should do the park first while it's still cool, don't you think? Then, when it's hotter we can go to the art museum.
Father: Good thinking dear. But if I don't eat soon I'll pass out and you'll have to carry me. Where are my eggs and bacon?
Liz: Yes, they are taking a long time. I wonder what the problem is.
Father: It sounds like they're still gathering the eggs from the chickens and chasing the pigs!
Liz: Oh, so you're never grumpy, eh?
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03/07/2013 • 11 minutes 23 seconds
Nik Wallenda's wife.
Well, you've probably all heard about Nik Walenda, the man who recently walked 1,500 ft above the Gran Canyon on a two inch thick wire, with no protection, and no net. I watched him 'live' as he took every step, and every breath. I actually found myself(1) holding my breath while he walked and balanced and prayed. Judging by(2) his facial expression, he was more relaxed than I was. I was so nervous; my hands were sweaty, and my fingers were tingling. And then I remembered to breathe. "Oh, that's right. He's doing it, not me." It was too much for any normal person to see comfortably. And the "Thank you Jesus", and "Halleluyah" that he repeated, which I'm sure helped his performance, made it worse for me, because I kept on(3) imagining one of those Halleluyahs turning into a "Halleluyah!" His wife and three children and a group of friends and family were watching him from the other side of the Canyon. I couldn't decide if that was good or bad. Of course his family wanted to support him b
27/06/2013 • 11 minutes
Basic Pronunciation Practice 18 + Interactive English.
It's so good to see you both again; I can't believe it's been almost 3 months!
That's what your father and I were saying darling. Time flies, but especially for you.
Yes, it's been a busy two and a half months. Lots of ups and downs, but mainly ups.
I'm glad. It's such an exciting time of your life.
Well Mum, I was thinking that as soon as Dad wakes up, we'll go to my favorite cafe for breakfast.
Oh, that sounds lovely. Frank does get jet-lagged quite badly, much more than me. I'm sure it's because he insists on drinking wine on the plane. It gets you so dehydrated, you know.
Yes, he would be better off drinking water on the plane. But hey, he's on vacation!
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20/06/2013 • 11 minutes 3 seconds
"A change is as good as a rest" is a common saying in England. And that's what I've been having. It's summer, the children are out of school, our routine is up in the air(1), and we've been getting out of town. Have you noticed? I haven't been talking into my little snowball microphone recently because I've been going here and there(2). The place I've been to most recently is Lake Chelan. It's only a forty-five minute drive(3) from Wenatchee, but it feels as if you are in another state. Obviously, there is a lake there, and it's a huge one. It's actually the 26th deepest lake in the world, at 1,486 ft. It's name, Chelan, is taken from the Native American word 'Tsillan' which means 'deep waters'. It's also very long: 55 miles total. It's a popular place for boating, water skiing, and fishing. There are many species of salmon, trout, and bass in the lake. The salmon, called the Chinook, can get up to 30lbs in weight, with the average weighing between 9 and 16lbs. It's very exciting fish
18/06/2013 • 9 minutes 45 seconds
A slimy surprise.
A poet called Robert Southey who lived in the late 1700's and early 1800's wrote:
What are boys made of?
Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails.
That's what boys are made of.
What are girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice.
That's what girls are made of.
I think that there is some truth to this poem. I know we can't always generalize, but I have noticed some differences between my boys and my girl and her girlfriends. The boys take more risks as far as physical danger, whereas the girls seem to be careful. The girls are very interested in social situations and 'playing' like adults, but the boys are more interested in adventure, survival-type situations, and the wilderness. And finally, boys seem to bring the outside world into the house a lot more than girls do(1).
My boys went to a large pond to fish with their father, and came back happy and tired. They had managed to catch creyfish. They talked about their trip, put their gear(2) away, and then didn't really say anythin
04/06/2013 • 9 minutes 58 seconds
Scenes of Spokane.
Last week we had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Spokane. It's a city of about 210,000 people, making it the second largest city in Washington State. It's about a three hour drive for us, but it's only 90 miles from the Canadian border. It's name is taken from the Native American Indian tribe that used to live in that area; Spokane meaning 'Children of the sun'. The reason we went there was for a basketball tournament. My son Cass had four games to play, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday. We set off early on Saturday morning, with everybody yawning and dozing(1) in the car. We checked into our hotel, and then made our way(2) to the High School where the basketball games were going to be played. When the second game was over, we decided to go downtown(3) and look around, as we are not familiar with the city. The center has a very large park with a river running through it that becomes Spokane Falls. This is a huge waterfall that tumbles(4) under a wide bridge. The river was hig
22/05/2013 • 9 minutes 14 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 17 + Interactive English.
Liz (on the phone): Hi Mum, are you all packed and ready for your visit?
Mother: Yes darling; we're so excited to see you again.
Liz: Me too. But there's been a change of plans.
Mother: Oh, yes?
Liz: I've booked you into a hotel that is opposite my appartment.
Mother: Why? Don't you want us to stay with you?
Liz: It's not that, Mum. It's just that the appartment is tiny. You and Dad would have to squeeze into my bed or the sofa. That's not going to work.
Mother: Oh, I hadn't thought about that. Mmm, well, whatever you think is best is fine with us darling.
Liz: Your room has a King size bed; it's non-smoking, and has internet access.
Mother: Perfect. It sounds lovely dear. We'll see you in a couple of days!
You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; just send me a friend request. Comments, questions, need Skype lessons, email me at [email protected].
15/05/2013 • 10 minutes 27 seconds
Get it built.
I volunteered this year to build my mother an arbor in her back garden. She has a small patio at the back of her house with three borders(1) for planting. Because it gets so hot from late spring to the middle of autumn, she decided that she'd like a cover of some kind. Parasols are not big enough to cover the whole area, and the housing rules(2) do not allow her to attach anything to the house itself for extra shade. So, the only option is to build a 'free standing' arbor, or one that stands alone. Now, I actually like building things, believe it or not. I have slowly accumulated some experience of cutting and shaping wood, using power tools, digging holes, measuring and leveling(3), and mixing and pouring concrete. It's hard work, but it's so satisfying to see the finished product. To make my mum's arbor safe, I have to use 10 ft poles(4) that go into 2ft holes, and sit in concrete(5). Then, the lateral beams(6) will be screwed across the length and width(7) of the patio on both sides
07/05/2013 • 11 minutes 42 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 16 + Interactive English.
Peter: Hi Liz, I see your cast is off.
Liz: Yes, finally! Life is so much easier without one.
Peter: You had some bad luck breaking your arm.
Liz: Yes I had two lots of bad luck: breaking my arm and losing my job.
Peter: Wait a minute. You lost your job?
Liz: Yes, well not exactly. I quit.
Peter: Because of the lady you were working with.
Liz: Yep. I told the boss that I was doing my work, and most of hers.
Peter: And what did she say?
Liz: She told me that the woman denied it. What could I do? I hate confrontation, and I don't like complaining, but I couldn't take it any more.
Peter: That's too bad.
Liz: Well, never mind. I'll take some time off before looking for another job. My parents are going to visit soon, so I'll job hunt after they leave.
Join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Need an app of the podcast? Find my app in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Questions or comments? Email me at .
03/05/2013 • 9 minutes 42 seconds
Table of Knowledge.
It's 8:45 at Tom, Dick, and Harry's. The coffee's hot, the door's unlocked, and that corner table - the one by the jukebox(1), is gathering a familiar crowd. They're retired farmers, contractors, businessmen, a few old law enforcement guys(2), a former postmaster(3) and more. There are about 17 in all, with ages ranging(4) from the early 70's to 90. They meet daily, but show up(5) in greatest numbers on Fridays, when they take turns(6) bringing doughnuts. They've been around the block once or twice(7), and they love talking about it. In fact, they love talking in general, about everything from football, to politics, to how best to plant tomato seeds. "Sometimes there are three or four stories going on at once and you can't hear anything," says Kenny. "Put it this way," adds Bill, "when I started coming here I didn't have hearing aids(8). Now I do." Another of them adds, "We enjoy each other's company. We don't always agree, but we don't get too annoyed at each other." There is a real d
02/05/2013 • 15 minutes 6 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 15.
At the clinic:
Doctor: So, how have you been getting along with this arm?
Liz: Fine. I can get around alright, but it has definitely slowed me down.
Doctor: Have you had any pain?
Liz: At first I had some at night, but that only lasted a few days.
Doctor: We'll take the cast off today, so you will be almost back to normal. I need to take an X-ray first, to make sure that the bone has healed completely.
Liz: Will my arm be back to normal once the cast comes off?
Doctor: Not immediately. If you have no pain, and a good range of motion, you can slowly start to use the arm, but you have to take it easy. You might have some swelling, or loss of muscle.
Liz: Okay, I'll make sure I'm careful with the arm.
30/04/2013 • 9 minutes 14 seconds
Analysis Time - Social Activities Prolong Life.
In a study in The Harvard University Gazette called 'Social Activities Found to Prolong Life', scientists talk about the great importance of socializing as we get older. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the foundations of good health, but scientists now say that socializing is just as important. Thomas Glass, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health says, "Social and productive activities that involve(1) little or no physical fitness lower the risk of all causes of death as much as exercise does." So, how did the scientists reach this conclusion(2)? They studied 2,761 elderly(3) men and women for 13 years. Activites such as going to church, restaurants, and sports events, taking short trips, playing cards, gardening, cooking for others, community work, and paid employment can all impact a person very positively. Ideally, the elderly would also exercise, preferably(4) with friends or in small groups. That way they would get double the benefits(5). It is best
29/04/2013 • 11 minutes 35 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 14.
Hi Liz, what happened to your arm?
Oh, you won't believe it. I was coming out of the cellular phone store the other day, and I slipped on something and landed on my arm. It's broken in two places!
No, I wouldn't joke about something like this. It's a pain!
What did the doctor say about the break?
Well, he said it's a bad one, and it'll take about two months to recover.
Is that your writing hand?
So, what will you do for writing?
The professors all said that I can dictate my essays, or type with my other hand. That'll be interesting!
Hey, if you need help typing, I can do it for you.
That's really sweet of you. I might just ask you for some help. Thanks.
25/04/2013 • 10 minutes 19 seconds
My Wonderful Snowball.
I listen to podcasts nearly every day. Not only do I love the fact that I am learning each time I hear one, but I also(1) love the fact that they are free and accessible. It's interesting to consider(2) the differences between one podcast and another. What makes one better than another? What are the elements of a good podcast? One that I've been thinking about for a while is sound quality. For years, I have used a cheap, skinny microphone that is really basic. It has done a reasonable(3) job, but you can't expect very much from a cheapo(4) product. At times I have been editing, and have realised that the microphone records not only my voice, but also the noise of my dog barking at the cat, my children arguing in the kitchen, or even the general creaking(5) of the house. So, I've upgraded. I went on-line and looked up(6) the company called 'Blue'. I had heard that they make quality microphones. And they do. I ordered a 'Snowball' which arrived just a few days later. I was so excited to
23/04/2013 • 10 minutes 43 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 13.
In the cellular phone store.
Customer service assistant: Hello ma'am, how can I help you today? Would you be interested in one of our 4G phones with voice command?
Liz: Oh, no thanks. Actually I came in because my phone isn't working. I dropped it in the sink, and I think the battery got wet.
C.S.A: Could I have a look?
C.S.A: I'll have to take it in the back and open it to see what I can do.
A few minutes later.
C.S.A: Here you are ma'am. It's working fine. We had to replace the battery, but I believe your insurance covers that.
Liz: Great! That's a relief!
C.S.A: You know, you've had this phone for two years, so you are entitled to a free upgrade. Would a smart phone interest you? You can access email, the web, and do word processing on it.
Liz: How much is it per month?
C.S.A: It depends on the model. Between thirty and a hundred dollars.
Liz: Well, I'll have to think about it.
C.S.A: Of course. Here's my card. Just give me a call if you're interested.
20/04/2013 • 9 minutes 47 seconds
The Blue Bees.
The Spring season brings all sorts of life and activity to this valley. You see people out on the streets, walking their dogs, in the parks with friends, and the school fields are full of sporting activities. For the first time, my daughter is in soccer. There was a big build up to this(1) as we had to register a long time ago, and she has been waiting, counting the days(2), for the sport to begin. It's also her first time playing a team sport. Previously, she has done swimming, gymnastics, and tennis. But her excitement for soccer is much greater than anything else. Being the youngest(3) in the family, she has watched her brothers play team sports for years, and has cheered for them. But now, finally, it's her turn. She made her debut(4) yesterday with her team, The Blue Bees. And gosh, are they cute! You can imagine a team of little eight year old girls, in a blue uniform, with their hair in ponytails(5), running around and trying to score goals. They played against a green team, and
18/04/2013 • 12 minutes 51 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 12.
Liz:How are you feeling today?
Maria:Oh, much better. Thanks so much for taking care of me. The soup you made, and the medicine you bought me really helped.
Liz: I'm glad.
Maria: Are you working today?
Liz: Yes, unfortunately.
Maria: What do you mean?
Liz: Well, I'm having some problems with the lady I work with.
Maria: Oh yeh? What's going on?
Liz: Well, I have to do my work, and some of hers, and she's started to leave early.
Maria: It sounds like you need to talk to the boss.
Liz: Yes, I do. I'll do it today.
15/04/2013 • 10 minutes 13 seconds
No podcasts this week.
Sorry everyone, I have finally caught my daughter's horrible cold, so I won't do podcasts this week. My voice is very difficult to understand, so it would be a waste of time! Hopefully I'll be 'back in business' next week. Have a great weekend!
10/04/2013 • 0
A Long Look At Wheels.
"Clunk, clunk. Clunk, clunk," it was time to have the wheels looked at(1) and the tires changed from winter tires to summer tires. For a few weeks I had felt something bump and rattle(2) under the car; it must be the wheels. So, I took the car down to 'Dick's tires' and left it there for an hour. I walked out of the office, and headed to the shops. As I left, something caught my eye. It was a huge pile of wheels, hundreds of them. They looked like they had already been used. I don't know if they were going to be reused, but they reminded me of dinosaur bones, big, dry, heavy things. I thought about wheels in general, how we take them for granted(3), and how old they are. They have been around for a long time, in their most basic form since the Paleolithic Era. Then came the clever Mesopotamians, or Iraqis. In around 3,500BC they made the first wheels for chariot transportation. Then the Egyptians and the Greeks improved upon the first models(4) for better and faster transportation with
08/04/2013 • 8 minutes 32 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 11.
In the supermarket, Liz is on the phone:
Liz: Maria, I'll get the stuff for the soup. I'm in the supermarket right now.
Maria: Oh, thanks Liz. But you really don't have to bother yourself.
Liz: Listen, you've got a really bad cold, so you need sleep, medicine, and some good soup. I'll be back at the appartment soon.
Maria: Okay, see you then. And thanks again.
Liz: Excuse me, can you tell me where the chicken stock is?
Assistant: It's on aisle five with the spices.
Liz(to herself): Okay, what's next on my list? Celery, garlic, chicken, and potatoes. There they are. This soup will be ready in no time.
Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. Questions? Comments? Do you want to have lessons on Skype? Email me at [email protected] and I'll email you back.
04/04/2013 • 10 minutes 1 second
I love to discover good places to eat. I know what it is to cook a lot, and clean up afterwards. So, if I stumble across(1) a place that can do all of that for me, and do it well, then I am happy. Sissy's diner(2) is just that kind of place. It is an American style diner, with decor from the '60's, and large, fresh portions. I discovered it a week ago after I left my car at the mechanic's(3); he was changing the tires, so I was without(4) a car for about an hour. I walked along the main street in Wenatchee and window shopped, until I became hungry. As I looked along the street, I could only see furniture, clothes, and appliance shops. But then, I noticed, right on the corner, a colorful building with 'Sissy's diner' written at an angle. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that it smelled really good, like fresh bread. At a glance(5), I could see that it was clean, and the people who were eating there were happily talking and eating at the same time.These were all good signs
03/04/2013 • 11 minutes 40 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 10.
Hey Peter, fancy meeting you here!
Hi Liz, I've come to book a holiday.
No, I'm only joking. I'm a poor student, remember? I can't afford a holiday yet. Carl told me that you work here, so I thought I'd pop in to see you.
What a lovely surprise!
So, how is the job so far?
So far so good. The people here are really nice, and helpful. I'm learning a lot.
It sounds like the perfect part-time job for a student.
I think so.
01/04/2013 • 11 minutes 12 seconds
Science at home.
As a parent(1), I think a lot about my children's education(2). Is it good or bad? Is it varied, hands-on(3), relevant? The only way to really(4) find out, is to look at their text books, go to their schools, and talk to their teachers. And then, we have to remember that each person is unique; each has different preferences, ways of learning, and abilities. Some people are comfortable with academics, and others are not(5). Some students are good at taking exams, and others prefer to demonstrate their knowledge in other ways. Recently, my son Robert has been at home with a bad cough. He has been bugging me to buy him an electrical circuit. So, we shopped around until we found the perfect 'kit'(6). It has batteries, a light, a motor that spins, sound devices, and connecting wires. There is also a booklet(7) that gives instructions and warnings, pictures, and general advice. So Robert has spent hours connecting, fiddling(8), and creating, and every minute that goes by he learns something.
29/03/2013 • 15 minutes 1 second
Basic Pronunciation Practice 9.
Hello Mrs Fontaine.
Oh, hello Liz. Welcome back to Fontaine's Travel Agency, and this time as an employee.
Thanks, I'm excited to start.
Well, we're glad to have you.
What would you like me to do first?
I think if you sit at Angie's desk, she'll tell you what to do. Just watch her use the computer system, and maybe you can help her with paper work.
That sounds like a good plan.
Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Feel free to email me questions and comments to . And if you're interested in Skyped lessons with me, let me know, and I'll send you the details.
27/03/2013 • 10 minutes 6 seconds
Housing Market Up.
Sales of low-priced(1) homes here continue to feed(2) a housing market that has buyers eager(3), sellers satisfied and some real estate agents scrambling(4) to keep up the pace."Put an entry-level home on the market and - wham! It’s gone in no time," said a broker in Wenatchee. "They go almost as fast as we can list them. Sure, we’d like to see prices rising and more sales of higher-end(5) homes, but these low-end sales can be a good thing— sell a lot of entry-level homes now and, down the road, you’ll likely have a lot of second-home buyers."
Looser credit and some of the lowest interest rates in recent history(6), this week at 3.875 percent, have juiced(7) sales and spurred activity across the market, regardless(8) of price. "We’re seeing more interest, more showings in the $400,000 range than we’ve seen in years.“ It’s welcome activity. "Buyers are also wiser in their preparations to buy a home," said Paine, another broker. "They come to the table with cleaner credit, higher incom
21/03/2013 • 11 minutes 35 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 8.
So, tell me about your job hunting.
Well, I needed something part-time. So, I tried several places.
And what did you end up with?
Believe it or not, I'm going to work on Saturdays in a travel agency.
Wow, that's interesting. You'll probably learn a lot.
Yes. I've done waitressing before, so I think this should make a nice change. Plus it leaves my week days free for studying.
21/03/2013 • 11 minutes 42 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 7.
How was your night out?
Great, thanks. We went to dinner and then went to a club called 'Shapiro's'. We danced for hours.
You look tired.
I am. It was really loud, but we had a great time. What have you been up to?
I've been looking for a part-time job.
Really? Had any luck?
Yes, I'll tell you about it after class.
18/03/2013 • 10 minutes 6 seconds
Those of you who have followed my podcast for a few years will know that I'm obsessed with gardening. Trees, bushes, flowers, vegetables, seeds, and even soil get me all excited. After a long, dull winter, it's time to spring into(1) life. People have been telling me, "Anna, it's too early to dig; the ground is still too cold," "you can't transplant anything now," "you have to wait to put (2)seeds in the ground." But, I've been doing all of that. I don't always 'go by the book'(3), sometimes feelings and instinct can be more accurate. Anyway, about one month ago, I got out the chainsaw. You know, a woman can have a wonderful time with a chainsaw. Using a chainsaw is usually the domain of men, like war, and boxing. However, as I told my husband, "It's not rocket science(4), you know." It really is quite simple, if you're careful. I cut down a large area of 30 year old bushes, then dug up(5) the huge roots. I've transplanted blueberry bushes there, and planted a lot of bulbs. My plan is
14/03/2013 • 10 minutes 36 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 6.
What did you find out about retakes?Oh, we can retake small tests, but not end of term finals.That makes sense.Thankfully, I did ok on the last test, so I won't need to.Yes, my result wasn't too bad; I got 85%.Good job! I got 80%.Are you going to the library later?No, I'm going to a club with friends; I need a break!
Thanks for joining me. You're all welcome to my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. Also my app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English.
13/03/2013 • 8 minutes 59 seconds
Time To Kill.
What do you do when you have time to kill? It's a bit of a violent phrase, isn't it? It really means to use up spare time, or extra time. That is just(1) what I was doing this weekend, while I was waiting for my son's basketball game to start. We had a break of three and a half hours in between(2) games which is a long time. My thoughts were(3): lunch, a walk, Facebook, and maybe a podcast. And surprisingly enough(4), I got all of those things done. Robert and I went down to the lake for a walk, and watched the ducks and geese land on and take off from the water. It was there that I found the fox statue. Later in the gym I searched the web for info(5) on the statue. Well, that wasn't so easy. You know how web searches go(6); often they take you all around the world, and you end up with unimaginable(7) results. I ended up reading about a famous German sculptor called Julian Voss-Andreae who does sculptures about physics. One of his sculptures called 'Quantum Man' is here in Moses Lake,
12/03/2013 • 12 minutes 47 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 5.
That test was really hard. How do you think you did?Alright, I suppose. I'm glad I studied all of the notes that the teacher gave us.Yes, me too.When do we get the results?Next Monday, I think.Can we retake it? I'm not sure. You'll have to ask the teacher. I know she let's us retake some of them. Let me know what she says.Sure, I will.
11/03/2013 • 11 minutes 9 seconds
Analysis Time - Detecting Explosives.
Technology being(1) developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could put(2) explosive-sniffing(3) dogs out of business. Just like dogs, the technology can 'sniff' the air to detect vapors from explosives. Unlike dogs, it doesn't need to be fed, exercised, rested, and given breaks(4). It also shows promise(5) to accurately detect minute(6) amounts of explosives. It takes in a sample of air from around an object and examines that air. An explosive called RDX does not easily vaporize, and so it is difficult for dogs to detect it. However, this new technology can detect vapors of RDX from a fingerprint when there are less than 25 parts per quadrillion. "This technology is more sensitive than anything out there(7) now," said a senior research scientist. The technology could be used to screen(8) passengers or luggage at airports or large containers at ports.
1. 'Technology being developed' is a shorter than 'technology that is being developed'. Both are accurate and work in the sente
07/03/2013 • 16 minutes
Basic Pronunciation Practice 4.
That was a really good lecture.
Yes, it was. That professor keeps it interesting.
Well, I have a lot to study for the next test.
Do you need a study partner?
That would be nice.
Okay, let's go to the library.
Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. If you have questions or comments, email me at . And remember that my app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English.
06/03/2013 • 10 minutes
Xylitol is a wood sugar that I've been using for a few years. It has many benefits. A dentist friend(1) told me that because its molecular structure(2) is different to normal sugar, plaque bacteria cannot absorb it; they try to, but they can't. Because of this, the plaque dies, and our teeth stay healthier. It might sound strange if you're unfamiliar with it. I'm impressed with it, and so I thought I would share(3) it's description as it is written on the packet that I buy.
Xyla has 40% fewer calories than processed sugar, and 75% less carbohydrate(4). Xyla is a natural sweetener derived(5) from 100% North American hardwood. With many benefits, it is a popular sweetener widely(6) used in Europe, Scandinavia, and many other countries for its similarity to sugar in taste and texture. It is a low-glycemic sugar, and is safe for diabetics or anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle. It is perfect for coffee, tea, and cereal. It doesn't promote(7) cavities, and it leaves no after taste, and di
05/03/2013 • 13 minutes 59 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice 3.
After you (holding the door)
Thank you, that's very kind.
Are you new to the class?
Yes, I'm starting late because I've just moved here.
Well, I'm sure you'll fit right in. It's a great class.
I hope so. So far, so good.
Thanks for joining me. Please send me your questions and comments to . You're all welcome to join me on my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish.
04/03/2013 • 6 minutes 33 seconds
Analysis Time - Science For The Young.
Science education has taken new life(1) with the opening, six months ago, of the Mobius Science Center in Spokane, Washington. A $14 million fund put the new Science Center into operation. It is operating along with(2) the Mobius Children's Museum which has been open for seven years. The museum, aimed at children up to 8 years old(3), has been a very successful part of downtown Spokane. The demands for better-informed(4) and trained people in science have led to support for both centers. The Mobius Science Center has 26,000 square feet of exhibition space. There are 65 hands-on(5), interactive science and technology exhibits, plus educational programs. Here, young people can experience the worlds of Robotics, Flight, Space, Optics, Earth Science, Math and many more. It's a lively place that curious minds of all ages(6) will love.
1. 'Science education has taken new life....' this is an unusual sentence, though we can understand the meaning. Another phrase that talks about new life is
28/02/2013 • 13 minutes 51 seconds
Basic Pronunciation Practice.
Excuse me, am I close to the college?
Yes, it's just around the corner. Which department do you need?
I need to go to the Science department.
Ok, that's on the fourth floor. Go through the main entrance, and on your left you'll find the stairs.
Thank you so much!
Questions or comments? Email them to me at and I promise to email you back. You are welcome to join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish.
27/02/2013 • 7 minutes 14 seconds
A Human Sandwich.
It's not often that(1) I find myself trapped, stuck in the middle of two things. However, I put myself in the middle of two things the other day deliberately(2). The two things were my dog and cat. The dog wanted to get the cat, and the cat wanted to test her young claws on the dog's nose. I have been training my little kitten. She is getting used to(3) the front garden, so when she's older, I can let her out by herself. I have a little harness(4) for her, (I call it her bra), which attaches around her chest. Then the leash(5) clips into it, so I can gently hold the leash and follow her while she explores. Perfect. Well, not really. My dog Foxy can jump over the gate and come to the front garden whenever she wants to(6). That's the problem. She is very, very smart. She approaches us, focusing on the cat. I tell her "no" and act like a confident boss. She responds by lying down and acting sweet. However, I can see in her eyes that she is just pretending for her stupid human owner. Reall
26/02/2013 • 17 minutes 26 seconds
Basic pronunciation practice.
Can I help you?
Yes please. Which way is it to the college?
You are on the right road. Keep going straight, and then take a right.
Is it far?
No, you're quite close. It'll take you about five minutes.
Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.
Join me on Monday's and Wednesday's for more basic pronunciation practice. My regular intermediate level podcasts are Tuesday's and Thursday's. I hope it helps! You are all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; just send me a friend request.
25/02/2013 • 7 minutes 38 seconds
A Rubbish Poem.
Throw it, chuck it(1), give it away!
All of this furniture can't possibly stay!
Every room, cupboard, and closet is filled to the brim(2),
But most of this stuff should be thrown in the bin!(3)
So off to(4) the dump with these old, broken possessions,
Chairs, tables, and computers that long ago were in fashion.
Just look at this old sofa; it's seen better days,(5)
Why do you think that keeping it pays?(6)
The mattress, pillows, and table are on their last legs,(7)
They're covered in stains, holes, scribbles, and bacon and eggs!(8)
The kids have used them as a castle, a playground, and even a hobbit's hole,
But to throw them all away is definitely my goal.
So, give away want you want, and don't forget to recycle,
Take our ornaments, broken kitchen appliances, records, toys, and bicycle.
The dump is a glorious place, with an unforgettable smell,
It's there we get rid of our trash, and feel free, and clean, and well.
At first sight it's quite scary, deep, and dark, with mold, dust, stick
21/02/2013 • 14 minutes 30 seconds
Memories on the wall.
Do you have photos around your house? Perhaps photos of family and friends? I have been in some people's houses where there are photos in every room. The fridge, in the kitchen, is a place where a lot of people place photos of loved ones or fond memories. I have had our family photos in a huge box for quite a few years. The project of sorting through them, putting some in chronological albums, and others in frames, has been a project that I have avoided for all this time. Am I lazy? I don't think so. It's just a really big job that requires a lot of time and concentration. I want to do the job right, after all. So, the other day, after buying some frames that were on sale, I decided to at least start the project. The photos I selected to put in the frames are our most recent family and individual photos. We had a professional photographer come to our house in the Autumn (Fall). It was the first time that we had hired anyone to take semi-formal pictures of us. It happened to be the perf
19/02/2013 • 0
These days(1) everybody seems to be trying to(2) save money. On the television, we hear about sales, discounts, and 'cash back'(3) on things that we buy. Most receipts now give opportunities to win money, or products. And the shops do the same. Have you noticed generic brands in your local shops? A generic brand is a line of products made for that shop, not a famous brand name. They are always cheaper than other brands. The question is, "Are they good quality, or of the same quality as(4) the brand name products?" Over the past few years, I have shopped almost exclusively(5) at Walmart, and I have got to know(6) some things about generic brands. Great Value is a brand name made for Walmart. The boxes, packets, and bottles(7) of products are simple to look at, and stand out from the rest. In my opinion, the basic products like detergents(8), paper products, and simple house items are worth buying. However, when it comes to eating, the cheaper product often doesn't taste as good. Pastas,
19/02/2013 • 16 minutes 18 seconds
Which language to choose?
Over the years I have collected books and cassettes to learn different languages. I have them lined up(1) on my desk, all in a row: Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian. Unfortunately I don't speak all of them, only Spanish and French. I learned a little Russian as well, but only a few sentences. I would love to know all of these languages, but I know that it would take me years and years to both study and practice(2) them. I pick up the books sometimes and look at the Chinese and Arabic characters. "Wow!" is usually what I say to myself as I look at these beautiful but unrecognizable(3) shapes. So, what are the steps to learning a language? First, decided which one you need to learn. That sounds obvious, but, if you're like me, you will want to learn several. Limit yourself because you need lots of time to learn a language. Perhaps you can plan to(4) listen to 2 podcasts a day, read a paragraph, and practice singing a song. If you did this five days a week, you would progress
14/02/2013 • 14 minutes 6 seconds
If You Have The Flu.
The subject of many people's conversations is the flu. Everybody is talking about it. The clinics and hospitals are full of people who have flu symptoms, and supermarkets have shelves full of medicines, tissues(1), and vitamin powders. I've been lucky so far(2); my children and my husband have had it, but not me(3). And I'm not going to, I keep telling myself. I'm using mind over matter(4). When I do go to the supermarket, I'll often hear a horrible cough in one direction, and a sneeze in another(5). So what do I do then? I get as far away as possible(6). I push my shopping cart to the opposite part of the store as quickly as possible. I bumped into a man I know the other day, and he said, "Anna, you are the fastest moving thing(7) in the store!" At home I've been moving fast as well. There is extra washing to do. I wipe the countertops with disinfecting wipes(8). I remind the kids to wash their hands with soap and water, and to drink lots of water and juice. And I open windows as much
12/02/2013 • 17 minutes 50 seconds
Teddy For You, Teddy For Me
It's been a rough couple of weeks(1). My three boys have had the flu, and one of them has had two different kinds. As a mother, I try to do all that I can to make them comfortable: medicine, liquids, blankets, and peace and quiet(2). I try to give them some extra attention, if they want it. At times(3) I have taken their temperatures, asked them how they feel, felt their foreheads, and given them popsicles(4) for their sore throats. Sometimes, however, they have wanted to be left alone(5). I can understand that. As a mother, you have to become a judge of who will want what and when(6). My daughter gave me a good suggestion today, to help Robert feel better: buy him a teddy. He is ten years old, almost too 'cool' to have teddies, but not quite. And, of course, there are teddies and teddies(7). The one she chose for him is a gorilla with a tie and a big smile. That's perfect for an 'almost too cool boy'. It's soft, cuddly(8), and funny, but it's also masculine looking, and it goes well w
07/02/2013 • 11 minutes 48 seconds
Analysis Time - A Chemical Ban.
Some state lawmakers are pushing to ban(1) potentially(2) cancer-causing(3) chemicals from children's products and sofas. The two flame retardant(4) chemicals are known as TCEP and TDCCP and are found in car seats, strollers(5), changing pads(6), other children's products, and furniture. Manufacturers often add the chemicals to foam(7), plastics and fabrics to prevent fires and to slow down fires if they have already started. The chemical industry says that flame retardants have been useful in reducing fires and saving lives. However, supporters(8) of the bill say there are better ways to protect against fires without the chemicals.
1. 'To ban' is the similar in meaning to 'to forbid', 'to stop', or 'to not allow'.
a. Certain weapons are banned for civilian use.
b. Chewing gum is banned from the schools.
2. 'Potentially' means 'having the power to' or 'possibly'. It is a powerful word to use in the right context.
a. The new flu virus could potentially affect all of us.
b. The recession
06/02/2013 • 14 minutes 15 seconds
Analysis Time - Wolf Debate.
Farmers, ranchers(1) and county officials(2) from Eastern Washington said a plan to manage(3) wolves as they are re-established in the state has good ideas but doesn't go far enough to cover their potential losses(4) or protect their property. Wolves are making a remarkable comeback(5) in Washington. A year ago there were five confirmed wolf packs in the state: now there are eight confirmed packs and three more suspected (6)packs. But wolves will remain protected under Washington's endangered species(7) law until there are at least 15 packs for three years. In the meantime(8), the department has developed a management plan with farmers, ranchers, wildlife experts and conservationists to minimize damage caused by wolves to livestock(9) and domestic animals. It's a combination of nonlethal techniques to keep wolves away and capture and relocate them, and includes killing them under certain circumstances. Senator John Smith said the state should be ready to list wolves as a big game(10) s
31/01/2013 • 13 minutes 46 seconds
An Elizabethan Collar.
Do you ever check your bills? It's a good practice(1), but sometimes seems unnecessary. If you do, however, you might find the occasional odd charge, or you might have a question about something on the bill that you don't recognize. That is exactly what happened to me last week when I took my dog, Rosie, to the vet. The poor thing had a skin infection of some kind. Apparently it was the result of an allergy. She obviously felt itchy because she would scratch herself all over. Well, the vet got to the bottom of (2)the problem, gave her a medicinal (3)bath and prescribed antibiotics and steroids. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked over(4) the bill and spotted(5) an item that immediately made me curious: an Elizabethan collar. I blinked because I thought I had misread(6) the words. An Elizabethan collar, no I wasn't mistaken; those were the words written, along with the pills, the bath, and the ear cleaning. A mental picture of Queen Elizabeth I came to my mind, with her wide, ruffled
29/01/2013 • 12 minutes 3 seconds
The Price Of Copper Theft.
Nationwide(1), metal theft has become a serious problem since about 2005, according to(2) a 2010 report on metal theft by the U.S. Department of Justice. That's when metal prices rose substantially(3). In 2002, for example, copper prices hit a record low(4), falling to 65 cents a pound. By 2006, it was worth $4 a pound, prompted mainly by the industrialization(5) of Asian countries. One figure(6) was available for copper losses. According to a survey, about $20 million worth of copper was stolen in(7) more than 50,000 incidents at U.S electric utilities in 2008. Another indicator comes from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which reports that claims(8) for metal theft are up significantly.
'Nationwide' is similar to 'nationally' or 'national'.
a. The program is being broadcast nationwide.
b. There will be educational improvements nationwide.
2. 'According to' is used in front of persons, organizations, or bodies of information, such as surveys or polls.
a. According to a recent su
25/01/2013 • 12 minutes 31 seconds
Playing with whales.
"Mum, can you put in your password?" is a question that I hear almost on a daily basis. My kids are into apps in a big way(1). We are slowly getting sucked(2) into the app market. I allow my daughter to play on my iPhone every now and then(3). That's fine. There are lots of fun, creative apps that you can download for free, so we do(4). After a few days, however, the credits, or ammunition, or points, or whatever currency it is that you need to play the game, run out. Then my children look around to find their saviour, me. They suddenly remember how much they love me. They become very polite and very sweet, as they ask me to solve their problem of a lack of (5)credits. They do this with one eye on me, and one eye on my purse. Ha, ha! I have their full attention, the power of an emperor. Will it be thumbs up or thumbs down(6)? Exactly how nice(7) can they be to me if they really need those credits? May be they can vacuum the lounge, or clean out the cat's litter box(8). Or maybe I'll ju
22/01/2013 • 13 minutes 54 seconds
Analysis Time - New Gun Laws.
Facing powerful opposition to new gun laws, President Barack Obama is considering(1) 19 steps that he could take through executive action(2). The steps could include punishing(3) people who lie on gun sale background checks(4), getting more complete records in the federal background check database(5), more federal research into gun use, ordering tougher(6) penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to improve safety. "My starting point is not to worry(7) about the politics," said the President. "My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, on what works." At the same time Obama said that he will not back off(8) of his support for sweeping(9) gun legislation that requires congressional support. There is, however, great opposition from the very influential gun lobby(10). "Will all of these (changes) get through Congress? I don't know," Obama said at a news conference on Monday.
1. 'To consider' is to think about before making a decision. The word 'considerin
17/01/2013 • 15 minutes 46 seconds
We have a new addition to our house. It's a furry, playful little thing that, at the moment, is fast asleep(1). Lilly is her name, but I'm not sure if it suits(2) her. Most of the time 'mini monster' would suit her, as she hides around the corners, waiting for us, and then jumps out and attacks our ankles. Thankfully, she doesn't use her claws very much, and she's not big enough to do any damage, though she seems to think that(3) she's as big as the local mountain lions. We bought her a few weeks ago from the humane society, or the pound(4). She was, what they call, a throw-away(5)cat. They have so many of them in the pound; they're often not wanted, and so they are very cheap. When Lilly's not dashing(6) around, or attacking us, she naps. Well, of course she naps, she's a kitten. And then, everybody fights over her. We all want her to be on our laps(7) because she is so cute and warm and cozy. It's surprising what a comforting influence a cat can be. Mind you, our dogs would disagree.
15/01/2013 • 11 minutes 56 seconds
Analysis time, - Quiet Books.
This following paragraph was taken from a home magazine that focuses on storage and using spaces well in the home.
It might seem, in this age of electronic books and computer tablets, that a library is an outdated (1)room to include in a home. But, it could be argued(2), that it is because we have so much noise and technology in our lives that we need a quiet room of books. Libraries are places of peace. When we are in them we need to whisper (3)and walk quietly. Sometimes they are the perfect place to go to when we want to be alone, or perhaps when we need time to think. In such moments(4), books are the perfect companions - not a TV and certainly not a computer. Books are silent and respectful(5) and their weight and even their smell can be comforting. Even though we are all attached to(6) e-books, most of us still have many real books in different parts of the house. Why not put them all in one place, and make that place special, cozy, and quiet. It would be a place to enjoy a new
10/01/2013 • 10 minutes 8 seconds
Start the year with light.
One of the great consolations(1) of the end of the year is a New Year's Eve party. We don't always go to a party on New Year's Eve. Sometimes we prefer to stay at home, by the fire, with good food and drink, family and maybe a few friends, and welcome the new year quietly. This December 31st, however, was different. We were invited to two parties, and we decided to go to both of them. The first was quiet and relaxed. A friend of mine, Barbara, was hosting(2) it, and she had decided that it should only be two hours long. It went from five o'clock until seven(3). She has two small children and wanted to be able to put them in bed by eight o'clock, which I understand. So, it was an unusual party, short and sweet(4). "The party will finish when it's New Year's in Sao Paolo" she joked. The next party was quite different. There were lots of people, lots of noise, food, music, drink, and games. This felt like a celebration. I bumped(5) into a few people I knew, and we caught up with eachoth
07/01/2013 • 11 minutes 54 seconds
Spin the wheel.
Now that the Christmas vacation is coming up, we will probably play some board(1) games in the evenings. We have so many of them! There is a big collection of them, stuffed(2) into a closet in the lounge. Monopoly, Axis and Allies, and Scrabble are three of the more well known ones. My favorite is probably Monopoly; I love games that lead you along a path to a destination, with question cards, and unexpected(3) opportunities or problems along the way. I was actually playing a similar game this morning on the computer, except it wasn't(4) about buying streets or buildings. It was an information game created by a company that deals with retirement. I'm not close to retiring, in fact, I'm probably still about twenty years away from it(5). But the reason I was playing the game, was to try a win the 1st place prize of $50,000. I probably don't stand a chance of(6) winning, but you know, the game turned out to be very interesting. You had to spin a wheel, walk up to 5 steps along the path, a
14/12/2012 • 13 minutes 8 seconds
Hunger in the U.S.
In a recent interview with Howard G. Buffet, farmer, philanthropist, and son of billionaire Warren Buffet, he commented on the relatively unknown problem of hunger in the U.S. Studies show that one in five children don't always know where their next meal will come from.
Interviewer:You've supported global(1) hunger relief for years; what made you turn your attention(2) to America?
Howard Buffet :Before, I never understood how difficult things were in this country, and how they were getting worse. In America, hunger is hidden; people are ashamed of it.The number of people who are living on the edge(3) has exploded. If you're choosing between medicine and food, or paying the electric bill and food, those are tough(4) choices, and they happen everyday. But there's no reason why we can't put hunger out of business(5) in this country. Farmers produce more food today than we did five years ago. People are hungry not because there aren't enough farmers or food, but because they can't afford
03/12/2012 • 15 minutes 49 seconds
A No-Joke Fruit Cake.
Recently, when I went back to England, I indulged in(1) something that I don't often get to indulge in; fruit cake. It might not seem very important, in fact, it might seem like a joke, depending on where you come from. Here in the U.S, for some reason, fruit cake is a joke. People joke about receiving a fruit cake at Christmas, and then trying to find a secret way of disposing of (2) it: put it in someone's mailbox, disguise it as a pet, or leave it in a basket outside a hospital......I've even heard of a book called 'One hundred and one ways to get rid of(3) a fruit cake.' Well, this is all a new experience for me. I love fruit cake. But, then again, there's fruit cake and there's fruit cake(4). Maybe the problem is that people here have never had a decent one. In England fruit cake is on the essential list when it comes to(5) baked goods. The recipe originates in Roman times, and was changed a little in the Middle Ages. Traditionally, it is made with wheat, and loaded with(6) dried
29/11/2012 • 14 minutes 40 seconds
Storm trooper, hands up!
When I travel I feel really alive. There is something about getting away from my daily routine that helps me see things from a different perspective. I find it exciting, refreshing, and inspiring(1). Even when I travel to familiar places, such as England, I'm open to learn, and I thoroughly(2) enjoy observing. Another thing that I love about traveling, is the unpredictability(3) of it. Sometimes the unexpected happens. Recently, I went back to England for a couple of weeks to visit my family. While I was there, I visited the historic town of York with my sister. I have been to this rural city many times, but I never get tired of going there. I think, for me, it is just about(4) a perfect place. First of all, it's beautiful. It's cathedral, fourteenth century buildings, and Roman wall, are both perfectly preserved, and fully used(5). It's very clean, very green, and also prosperous. It's a university town, so it has a culture of learning, and it is also very arty. By arty, I mean that t
21/11/2012 • 14 minutes 58 seconds
A House Of Fright.
Halloween is a time of screams and fright, horrible faces and hideous (1)costumes. It's a time when people who love to be scared can fill up on that experience(2). Those of us who don't like witches, skeletons, zombies, and Draculas hope that the day of Halloween passes quickly. Though the roots of this holiday are ancient, it has become a very modern celebration. By this, I mean that each year Halloween is updated. My almost daily(3) trips to Walmart showed me that that is very true. If you want to give your neighborhood a full Halloween night of fright, you have to jump into the world of shopping. It's no longer enough to carve out a pumpkin(4), put a candle in it, and leave it on your front door step. Your house has to undergo(5) a full theatrical production. While most houses in our town had not been decorated, there were some that should have received awards for their effort and creativity.
We took our two youngest children out to 'trick or treat', and we knew just where (6)to go
06/11/2012 • 14 minutes 55 seconds
My sons love anything to do with survival. I have often seen them playing in the garden, pretending(1) to be lost in a forest. They act out a story(2) of being three brothers, helping eachother to survive by building a cabin, finding water, catching fish, and making tools. Usually, in my garden, they only get as far as(3) digging a big hole in my vegetable area, and propping up(4) odd bits of(5) wood in it for the cabin walls. By the time they do that(6), they're hungry, so they come into the house to eat, and forget about any more surviving. Their half-made cabin usually falls over, and I clean up the mess. But, I understand their excitement about survival. It would be a challenge, and adventure. It would even be a little scary, but they would have eachother. It would be very different to their real lives. Thankfully, we have a big back garden. It is mainly grass, so the kids can run around and play. However, we do have a fire pit. It's a circular area that my husband built: he broug
22/10/2012 • 15 minutes 47 seconds
A good buy.
I have been trying to think of ways to save time recently. I even read a book once on how to save time, but that took too long. I really admire people who are efficient, can plan well, and can get lots of things done. It takes a lot of thought. My children and my husband have been telling me to get a smart phone for a long time. I don't know why, but for some reason I thought that more technology in my life would take up(1) more time. It wasn't until last Saturday that I realized that my family was right(2). It was the day that we had four baseball games. If you're not familiar with baseball, you might not understand how time consuming(3)it is. The games are two hours long, and the players have to warm up before the game for about forty five minutes. So, if you're any good at mathematics, you can calculate that we were in the park all day. I should have been prepared with books, and perhaps my iPod, but I wasn't. And in between games(4), I had to drive home to check on everyone else to
17/10/2012 • 13 minutes 44 seconds
"Practice makes perfect" is a saying that I've heard ever since (1)I was a little girl. To become good at something, you must practice. We all know that. Those of us who are naturally disciplined are quite happy with that saying. Those of us who are not find it annoying. Academics, hobbies, sports, and languages all require loads of (2)practice. Tonnes of practice(3). Here, a recent fashion has appeared that needs a lot of practice. It is the hobby of playing with a Kendama. A Kendama is a Japanese, wooden toy that has three cups of different sizes, a spike, and a ball attached by a string. Children of all ages are begging(4) their parents to buy them. They play with them individually or in groups before and after school. And of course, they compete. The idea, is to flip (5)the ball up so it can land in one of the cups, on the spike, or even balance between the spike and a cup. There are, apparently, 101 tricks that you can master with practice. It's refreshing (6)to see children usin
11/10/2012 • 14 minutes 19 seconds
How it all started.
It's time you had an update(1) on the fire situation here in Wenatchee, and the rest of Washington State. Most of the month, we have had smoke in the valley. We have been told that the air quality is hazardous(2). The local shops have been selling face masks for people who need to be outdoors. I actually bought a box of them the other day, and used one for the first time in my life. The smoke was really thick that particular day, and I found myself holding my breath as I went from the car into shops and out again. "This is ridiculous!" I thought to myself. "I have a box of brand new breathing filters at home; I should be wearing one!" We have got used to the situation now. It has become normal to see people walking around with filters or face masks on. It's also normal to receive emails each day of activities being canceled. It's funny how you quickly get used to a change in lifestyle when you have no choice. And this situation, like a natural disaster, has been ruling our lives. It al
05/10/2012 • 12 minutes 9 seconds
"Mum, please don't buy me any clothes. I just want to go shopping for clothes with Dad." This request was made by my almost thirteen year old, and echoed(1) by my fourteen year old. It was totally unexpected. In fact, I have never heard anything like that before(2). I've shopped for my children's clothes all of their lives, and now, suddenly, I've been told not to. Did their request hurt my feelings? Not really. I understand that my two oldest are adolescents; they have what we call a 'mental fog'(3) of hormones and changing feelings. I was the same. Perhaps they no longer like my style. Perhaps the brand names I buy are just not cool. Or perhaps they know something that I don't know about fashion. I have never really followed fashion; I just buy what I like. But fashion, for my boys, has suddenly become quite important. The reason they want to shop with their dad, is that he doesn't care about bargains, sales, or saving money. I, on the other hand, am always looking for a bargain. I s
19/09/2012 • 17 minutes 4 seconds
Fire to the West.
Do you remember a few episodes ago, a podcast called Smoke to the North? We learned how to say that something is going on in a particular direction. Well, recently, we have had very bad fires to the West which are still burning. The photo on the blog page was a late afternoon view from my back garden, unusually dark, with a beautiful but very unusual sun. That was taken a few days ago. Now the hillside is completely black, and the fire has swept up(1) to the forests and hills behind our valley. First of all, when the fire was small and confined to an area of empty, dry hillside, it seemed just interesting, and even a little exciting. You could hear the whining (2)of emergency sirens here and there, and of course, it was the main topic of conversation. But these fires have dragged on(3). For the past two mornings we have woken up to a valley full of smoke; you can't even see the hills anymore. The local school district has cancelled all outside sports and recesses, and sporting clubs h
11/09/2012 • 12 minutes 39 seconds
Back in business.
We're back in business! In fact, I'm back in business. This is an English expression, an idiom(1). And what does it mean? It means that things are working again as they should. I decided to call this podcast 'Back in business' because I am beginning to do my podcasts again, after missing several weeks. I do apologize for disappearing during the summer, but life became very hectic(2). Now that there is more of a routine in my home, I can take time to work on my podcasts, and enjoy bringing you the expressions and useful language that will make your English sound natural. It's good to be back in business. You will hear this expression in all English speaking countries. If, for example, your car has a flat battery(3), and you charge it, hoping that when it has enough power, you will be able to start your car. You finish the charging process, detach the cables(4), and turn the key. Suddenly, "Vroom!" it works; the battery is full of energy, and your motor is working. That is when you say w
06/09/2012 • 11 minutes 56 seconds
NBC Olympic frustration.
Oh, I'm frustrated. I haven't seen the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. I've been searching on the internet, but all I can find are a few highlights(1). NBC, here in the U.S. refused to show a live stream (2) of the event. They had their reasons. They said that, because of the time difference, not many people would watch it, plus they would make more money if they waited until prime time(3) the next day. Because they paid $1.3 billion for the rights to show the games, the National Broadcasting Company wanted to show the opening ceremony at a time when they would make the most money from advertizing. Unfortunately, the television network made the mistake of cutting out a lot of the event, and switching to studio commentary. I've heard many disappointed, and even angry comments about this. Danny Boyle, the film director who created and organized the ceremony, did so as a continuous production, like a play that needs to be watched completely, unlike a Superbowl intermissio
10/08/2012 • 11 minutes 46 seconds
Smoke to the north.
The view from the back of our house faces north, looking at the hills on either side of the Columbia river. They are brown this time of year, after a hot and dry summer. For a few days, the view was hard to see because there was smoke to the north(1). The bridge that crosses the Columbia from Wenatchee to East Wenatchee has a view that follows the river upstream(2) for a long way. As I drove across it the other day, I took a quick photo on my phone of the thick smoke that was now filling the valley. I know that I shouldn't really do that when I'm driving, but it was just a quick second snap, and I had the picture. A fire had started in a place called Chelan, and the smoke had blown in our direction. Thankfully, it cleared up(3) in a few days. If you are familiar with forest fires, you might know that they can last much longer, and the smoke can invade surrounding towns, bringing everything to a halt(4). Once, a long time ago, my husband and I left Wenatchee for the day because the sm
24/07/2012 • 12 minutes 57 seconds
King Tut - where's the mask?
Once in a while a fabulous opportunity comes along, an opportunity to experience something excellent and unusual, a wonder of the world, perhaps. I had just this kind of opportunity in Seattle this month. The Pacific Science Center has the collection of items found in King Tutenkhamun's tomb. My son's class had planned on making(1) a special trip to this exhibition as a final field trip. All year long, the school had been raising money for this special event by having bake sales(2). Everyone had bought and eaten cakes and cookies all year, and helped to pay for the museum visit. My job was to drive. I was lucky to go; in fact, once I had heard about the Egyptian exhibit, I was determined to find a way to go. A teacher, a parent, and an extra student came in my car, as well as my son. Each driver was given an itinerary and a map of the museum. Our schedule was going to be busy and packed. In the space of(2) five hours, we were going to go to the planetarium, see a laser show, see an Im
02/07/2012 • 10 minutes 58 seconds
Field trips are always fun for school children. The typical trips are to museums, parks, and science centers. Of course, it depends on where you live. You have an advantage if you live in a city because there is more variety and entertainment. In a rural area, a school may have to be more creative to keep their field trips interesting. One activity that my kids took part in recently was geocaching. It has very quickly become popular globally, even in this small, rural area. So, what is it? Geocaching is considered an outdoor sporting activity in which players use some kind of navigational device (1). Coordinates (2)of a certain place are given, and the participants have to find their way there. Once they reach the exact spot, they search and find a container of some sort(3). Inside are inexpensive items such as toys, nicknacks(4), or items of interest or meaning. These can be taken and kept by the person doing the geocaching, but it is expected that the finder replace these items with
05/06/2012 • 12 minutes 57 seconds
Money For Blondes.
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 blon
25/05/2012 • 12 minutes 48 seconds
A hanging head.
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 i
21/05/2012 • 11 minutes 7 seconds
A Time For Parades.
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
14/05/2012 • 8 minutes 43 seconds
Learning in the past.
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
03/05/2012 • 8 minutes 42 seconds
Water for Africa - analysis time.
Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on(1) a vast reservoir of groundwater. They say that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface. The British Geological Survey and the University College London team has produced the most detailed map yet(2) of the scale and potential of this hidden resource. Across Africa more than 300 million people are said to (3) not have access to safe drinking water, and the demand is growing because of population growth and the need for agriculture. "Where there is the greatest ground water storage is in northern Africa, in Libya, Algeria and Chad," said Helen Bonsor from the BGS. In fact, according to the studies, there are aquifers even across sub-Saharan Africa. Water, over many years, can collect in the spaces between rocks underground, and even in the tiny spaces inside sandstone. This watery, wet stone area is an aquifer. The water found in these reserves(4) is usually clea
30/04/2012 • 9 minutes 45 seconds
Today's podcast is going to test your knowledge of ethanol. What is it? How is it made? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of using it? I asked myself these questions recently, when I drove past a gas station that had a sign saying 'No ethanol in our gas'. I asked myself why it would be good to not have ethanol in petrol? I remember hearing about large amounts of the stuff being produced in this country, and how some people are for it, and others are against it. So, what exactly is ethanol, and what are the issues surrounding it(1)? Ethanol is a fuel that, for a long time has been produced from corn. In the U.S., the government subsidized (2)corn growers for many years specifically for the production of ethanol. But, why would they do this? First of all, a desire to be self sufficient was at the heart of this project. If you can produce your own energy, then there is no longer any need to rely(3) on other countries. Secondly, some believe that the cost would be less than pe
25/04/2012 • 11 minutes 48 seconds
When will she arrive?
Waiting, waiting, waiting. It's difficult to do sometimes. I found myself waiting a couple of weeks ago at Seattle International Airport. My sister and my two nephews were coming for a two week visit, so I made the three hour drive over the mountains to pick them up. I don't often go to Seattle, but I love to. It's a gorgeous place, if you like forests, the sea, and modern buildings. So, I take any opportunity I can to drive there. The airport is actually outside of Seattle, half way between Seattle and Tacoma, and is therefore called Sea-tac airport. It is a smart, modern facility that, believe it or not(1), smells of coffee. How wonderful! You might think that I'm joking, but it's true. You know that Seattle is where Starbucks started, and Seattle is known for being the coffee capital of the U.S. In fact, it has more coffee houses per 100,000 residents than the U.S. has overall(2). So, even the airport is fully equipped with coffee all over the place. While I waited for my sister to
17/04/2012 • 15 minutes 9 seconds
Science can be so exciting. I was listening to the BBC World Service the other day while I was driving in my car. Their series called Science in Action, which, by the way, comes out in podcast form, is a lively presentation of the most up-to-date science innovations(1). I don't always listen to it, but the other day I was on my way to pick up the kids from school, when I turned on the radio just at the right time. By the time I reached the Middle School, I was bursting to(2) tell my boys the latest scientific news. They were impressed. Since then, I have told everyone I have been around. Well, you shouldn't keep good news to yourself, should you? There were two main points that I managed to catch(3). The first discovery was made by an Australian scientist who has been involved in genetically engineering plants. He and his team have successfully managed to grow and harvest from a salt tolerant(4) wheat plant. It can grow in salty soil, which up until now has been impossible for many kin
05/04/2012 • 10 minutes 47 seconds
Yakima is a small city located an hour and a half's drive(1) from Wenatchee. It is a wide valley, famous for its grapes and apples. We were there last weekend for a baseball tournament, the first of the season(2). One interesting fact about Yakima is that its name is taken from the Yakama indians who are from this area. There are actually indian names in many areas of the state. When the baseball tournament was over and we were leaving Yakima, we drove past a barren(3), rocky few miles and crossed over a bridge. Immediately after the bridge, I saw a sign 'Umtanum Canyon'. The name sparked my interest(4). "Now, that must be an indian name," I thought to myself. When I got home, I looked up the name on the internet. I found quite a few pages about Umtanum, but no translation of its name. Reading about the canyon made me even more eager to find out its name, because the land is geographically interesting, and has a wealth(5) of wildlife. Hunters would love it because there are big horn sh
26/03/2012 • 13 minutes 41 seconds
Analysis time, reviving ancient flowers.
Because many of you have responded positively to my new series 'Analysis time', we will continue with a particularly interesting one today taken from an article about 'break-through' scientific technology. If you haven't come across the phrase 'break-through', you might be able to imagine its meaning. It is literally the idea of breaking through a wall of ignorance, and arriving at new knowledge and new technology. A break-through is positive and exciting, and it can be used in many different areas: science, medicine, even psychology. Infact, you can even use it on a personal basis
Ex: I had a break-through with my counselor yesterday; I realize that I must forgive my parents.
So, there will be many more examples coming up. Let's here the article.
A plant that was frozen in Siberian permafrost for about 30,000 years has been revived by a team of Russian scientists - and borne (1)fruit, to boot(2). Bacteria and other simple organisms had been known to survive in the ice for thousands of
20/03/2012 • 14 minutes 11 seconds
Analysis time, a Chinese revolt.
Today we will analyze part of a newspaper article in depth.
Wukan, China - The Chinese fishing village that went into open revolt(1) against government control last year held elections on Saturday, an event that(2) some local people said was the first time they'd been able to elect their leaders. After years of resentment(3) about real estate(4) deals (5)between local leaders and businessmen, villagers staged a series of demonstrations. "We will solve the land issue (6)step-by-step," said Lin, the newly elected chief of the village. If those efforts to reclaim land come up short(8), then the experience will have been an empty one, many said.
1. Open revolt is when people demonstrate, express disagreement, rally together, and do so in a very public and obvious way.
Ex: After the votes were counted, the people went to the town hall in open revolt at the result.
There has been open revolt in Greece over the government's plans to raise taxes and cut public spending.
2. The arrangement
07/03/2012 • 15 minutes 8 seconds
An intimidating meeting.
Last week, as some of you know, I met with the Superintendent of Wenatchee Schools. I was very nervous, for some reason. I had never met him before, though I had seen him a couple of times in School Board meetings. My intention was to encourage changes in the school district, changes that have been wanted and recommended for a long time but haven't taken place. But, as I stepped into the office, and sat down in the waiting area, I began to feel very small. For some reason, I started to doubt my right to be there. Was I informed enough to have a pertinent conversation with this very busy man, a man who obviously knows more about the school district than me? Would I forget what I had planned on saying half way through a sentence? Would I stutter, or burp, or trip and fall and smash something important, like his laptop? "Okay Anna, what's your problem? Are you losing your edge?" (1)I said to myself, "Whatever happened to the girl who did public speaking, or the rock climber, or the hitchh
05/03/2012 • 9 minutes 42 seconds
Analysis time - community colleges.
Community colleges still don't get the dollars of their four-year counterparts(1), but they're standing very much in the spotlight(2) these days. President Barack Obama made them the focus last week when he unveiled(3) his proposed budget. Why all the attention? One reason is that so-called(4) 'middle skill' jobs - requiring more than high school but less than a full college degree - look like the most promising source of fuel(5) for quickly revving(6) up an economic recovery. Federal data show they account for roughly(7) half of all jobs, and even when unemployment was over 10 percent, companies reported shortages(8) of qualified workers.
1. Counterpart is a very effective word for referring to a related item, especially if you want to avoid repetition. So, instead of saying : Community colleges still don't get the dollars of four-year colleges, you substitute in 'their four-year counterparts. We usually use a possessive adjective with counterpart(s) because it relates to the subject.
27/02/2012 • 13 minutes 15 seconds
Xephos and Honeydew, in Minecraft.
This title is the kind that gets attention, isn't it? I first heard about these two characters a few days ago. My three boys play an on-line game called Minecraft. It's actually quite fabulous. It is an unending arena, where you can discover and create different worlds made out of blocks. My sons' favorites are the survival worlds, where you have to find raw materials* such as wood, edible plants, animals, tools, and fire. In order to survive and prosper, you must build yourself a house, and be in it by nightfall*. The reason is that zombies, or 'creepers', come out at night and attack you if you are not safely hidden in your house. Every day, I hear of their new discoveries such as exotic animals, or useful tools of some kind, diamonds, gold, enemies, friends, and even lava. It is hugely popular and globally played and loved. I can see why. If you have a look at Minecraft, you will see that it is a perfect combination of computer game, interaction, creativity, and adventure. My boys t
23/02/2012 • 8 minutes 40 seconds
A swimming lesson.
Every Tuesday, I volunteer to drive several kids from school to the local swimming pool. They go once a week* for six weeks for a full hour*. It's actually a new experience for my children to be able to swim during school hours; usually, P.E., or Physical Education, doesn't involve getting wet. So, this is a real treat. The first week, the children were separated into swimmers and non-swimmers. Since then, the swimmers can spend half of their swimming session playing with beach balls on teams. They also are allowed to use various diving boards, while the non-swimmers have an intensive swimming lesson. You could call this their 'immersion' session, ha, ha, do you get the pun?* Anyway, for us, it's an unusual and exciting morning. Thankfully, at the swimming pool, there are comfortable seats near the pool, and even internet connection. Infact, I'm writing this as I watch the children swim. The pool is divided into three sections, so three different activities can take place at the same
21/02/2012 • 8 minutes 12 seconds
No words please.
What's one of the best ways to get refreshed? Exercise. I find, that I am a different person after I've exercised. What I mean by this is that I feel very positive, focused, and inspired when I have pushed myself physically. Mind you, it isn't just going to the gym that does it. Walks in the country are the very best for me. I think it's because, not only do I get all the physical benefits of exercise, but being in nature reminds me deeply of what's real and what's good. You could say that it's a scientifically proven huge dose of medicine. However, when I don't have the time to walk in the country, I'll go to the gym. The one I go to is just a few blocks away. It's one of those places that you can go to any time of the day or night. Each member has his or her own entry card that opens the locked doors automatically. This sounds very fancy, but it's actually just a safety precaution, so only members enter the gym at night. And because there are no staff members in the gym, the cards gu
16/02/2012 • 7 minutes 19 seconds
Some of my listeners have asked me to examine and explain English phrases and vocabulary in depth. I think that that is a great idea. In order to do this, I have selected a small paragraph from a magazine that is about wasting money. This will be the first in a series of 'Analysis time' that will, hopefully give you deeper understanding of certain, common vocabulary and phrases, so you will find them easier to use.
Stop wasting(1) food! With a little creativity(2), you can use commonly(3) trashed(4) items and save yourself some major(5) dough(6). Did you know that, on average, Americans throw out 25 percent of the food they bring home, worth(7) an astonishing(8) $2,200 per year. Think of what you could(9) do with that cash(10)!
1. Stop wasting...! It's a command. You could add various words at the end, such as, money, time, my time, the milk.
2. With a little creativity, a little thought, a little care, a little attention to detail. You're using your brain to think carefully.
10/02/2012 • 10 minutes 47 seconds
Ivar's of Seattle.
During Christmas vacation, we took a trip to Seattle to see the Nutcracker ballet, and to enjoy some time in the city. You might not know a lot about Seattle, but if you google it, you will see that it is a stunningly beautiful area, and a very cosmopolitan city. We stayed in a hotel, right downtown, and fortunately were on the thirtieth floor, so we had an impressive view of the city. After leaving our luggage in the hotel room, we decided to go for a walk around the center of town, and find a place to have lunch. We ended up choosing Ivar's restaurant, which is right on the water. It has been around for a long time, and is famous for its chowder. Chowder is a thick, creamy soup that has clams in it, though sometimes it can just have potatoes. Ivar's chowder is so popular, that it can be bought all over the Northwest in supermarkets. As Seattle is a prime spot* for seafood, we all had fish. While we were eating, our waiter gave the kids a mask each, called Ivar's diver. It goes with t
08/02/2012 • 6 minutes 27 seconds
Studies show that the favorite food in the U.S is Mexican. The traditional hot dog and hamburger have to take second and third places, because the tasty and sometimes spicy food found south of the U.S takes first place. When I first came to the U.S., I had very little idea of how much influence Mexico has, in general, on this country. As I am English, and England is very far away from Mexico, I had only ever been to one Mexican restaurant that was in London. I didn't know much about Mexico either. Now, twenty years on*, I'm sure that there are many more, up and down the country, especially the popular food chains like Taco Bell and Taco Time. So, during my first visit here, I ended up eating more Mexican food than I had expected. You could say that while I have lived here, I have learned not only about the U.S way of life, but also about Mexico, its food, its culture, and its people. I've been fortunate enough to* go to Mexico a few times, see its capital, explore some of its major hi
02/02/2012 • 7 minutes 7 seconds
The wrong shoes.
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
31/01/2012 • 6 minutes 28 seconds
Dirt bike night.
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 vehicl
28/01/2012 • 6 minutes 47 seconds
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
25/01/2012 • 5 minutes 50 seconds
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
12/01/2012 • 5 minutes 11 seconds
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 differ
11/01/2012 • 6 minutes 21 seconds
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 gradu
01/01/2012 • 7 minutes 42 seconds
Waiting to go South.
It's that time of year when a lot of people are waiting to go South. Normally, by now, we would have snow, lots of it, and icy roads. This year, however, has been very strange. We experience hard frosts at night, but sunny days. Everyone is talking about how strange the weather is. Children have their winter boots, gloves, and hats at the ready*. At the first sign of snow, they will frantically get dressed, and run outside to play in the glorious white stuff. But, it's just not happening. By now, also, most migrating birds have left to go to either California, Florida, Mexico, or some other sunny destination. But, even some of them are hanging around* the town still, waiting for the snow to come. I was coming out of Walmart the other day, when I saw a cloud of birds swirling around in the sky, 'practicing' moving as a group. They looked playful, and amazingly skilled*. They moved to and fro* effortlessly like hundreds of acrobats working in unison*. As I got closer to my car, I saw tha
17/12/2011 • 5 minutes 41 seconds
A surprise package.
My morning routine has ups and downs*. First thing in the morning, I find myself rushing around like a frantic woman, trying to get my children up out of bed, and off to school. I'm usually still in my pajamas (pyjamas)* when I drop the kids off, and I drive off quickly before anyone sees me. But, when I get home, I can slow down a little before I start the chores of the day, or run errands. I take my time over my morning coffee, stretch, pet the dogs, check my emails and Facebook, have a bit more coffee, and then plan my day. I was doing that this morning, when there was a knock at the door. A Federal Express delivery man handed me a package, a large box. I had to sign in order to receive it, and then he went on his way. I assumed that the package was for my husband, who buys a lot of cycling and hunting equipment on-line*. However, it was addressed to me! I was instantly awake, and opened the box quickly. The side of the box said 'Greenvale Scottish baby potatoes'. I knew that I hadn
12/12/2011 • 5 minutes 59 seconds
An unusual way to advertise.
Do you ever watch the programs (programmes) on television that show the funniest international advertisements? They generally come out about Christmas time, and provide an hour of side-splitting* entertainment. Advertising is to be scrutinized*. Even my children will comment on whether or not an advertisement is any good. Some are very clever, some are downright* annoying, and some are confusing. I've found that as my children's critical thinking develops, so do their comments about anything in the media. "That advertisement sucks," one of them will say. Obviously 'sucks' is slang for something being awful or of very poor quality. I will ask why it 'sucks', and the answer will be something like, "It's not convincing," or "there's no point to it," or perhaps even, "they're trying to be funny, but they're not." I suppose the whole point of advertising is to catch the attention of the public, and to convince us to buy something. So, everyone should be a critic, and we should use our own b
06/12/2011 • 5 minutes 56 seconds
Student of the month.
What kind of characteristics or behavior can get you the title of Student of the Month? What would you imagine them to be? Intelligent? Avid* reader? High scorer? Or, are there other qualities that can get you noticed by teachers and rewarded. It looks as if there are many traits* and behaviors that can get a student both noticed and appreciated. Recently, in my childrens' middle school, there was an awards ceremony for a group of students who had 'stood out'* as community builders. By community, I mean the student body*, and the overall atmosphere that it carries. When I received the letter from the school, that my son Cass, had been nominated by his teachers for a community award, I was intrigued. I assumed that he had done something for the community of Wenatchee, perhaps for a charity. When I asked him what it meant, he told me that he didn't really know. Knowing that the principal would give some kind of speech about the award, I decided to wait and see what he had to say. The cer
05/12/2011 • 6 minutes 23 seconds
Oh my Cannon!
Those of you who have been listening to my podcast for the past three years, will know that I have complained about my camera on quite a few occasions. Though it has been both useful and practical for my podcasts, and small enough to fit in my handbag, I have been frustrated with it most of the time. I've described it as a 'dinosaur' more than once. This is a term we often use for an out-of-date piece of technology, such as a computer, or an old cell phone. Well, my little camera is going to be handed down to one of my kids, recycled you could say, because I've got a new one. It's a Cannon, a birthday present from my husband. And, let me tell you, it was love at first sight!*I actually hadn't spent any time researching the best buy*, nor had I asked anyone for advice on the matter. However, I did have a mental list* of prerequisites*: 1. It should be compact enough to fit in my handbag (I'm more likely# to lose it if I have to carry it in a second bag), 2. It needs to take good quality
30/11/2011 • 7 minutes 2 seconds
Do you Skyrim?
The tenth of November was a day of great excitement for my son, Hudson. He had been waiting for months for a new video game to be released. Skyrim is a game of battling dragons, strange worlds lost in time, heroes, enemies, and lots of gore*! It was going to be released at midnight, so the very beginning of 11, 11, of 2011. Skyrim is one of a series of games called the Elder Scrolls, made by Bethesda. It's appeal is basically a concoction of everything that teenagers, and some adults, like in a game: knights, weapons, spells, fights, castles, and graphics guided by endless imagination. The music is awesome as well. You could say that it is epic and mythological. I'm actually a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so perhaps my son gets the love of such things from me. Well, it just so happened that all the schools in our area were going to be closed on Friday 12th because of Veterans Day. Perfect timing! Hudson could look forward to not only the whole weekend of playing his game,
18/11/2011 • 7 minutes 8 seconds
Please don't shoot!
Those of you have been following my podcasts over the past few months, will know that my husband has recently 'got into'*hunting. He is now fully licensed, fully equipped, and on his way to becoming an experienced hunter. Today, instead of leaving at six in the morning, as he usually does, to go to work, he spent the morning with me. He has taken a few days off to go with a friend to Minnesotta to hunt White Tail deer. He deserves a small vacation, so I have enthusiastically watched him pack all of his gear*, and listen to his plans for a successful hunt. Because he was ready ahead of time, he had a couple of hours to kill*, so we went up to the local shooting range to try out a couple of his rifles. I am a novice*, so I was quite happy to watch as he shot at the targets. It was freezing cold, and I had bundled myself up in three coats, a scarf, and a bobble hat: not exactly the right fashion sense for a tough shooter. The first rifle that Tom used was extremely loud; thankfully we bot
17/11/2011 • 6 minutes 56 seconds
A Round Robin Tea Party.
I had never heard of a Round Robin, until this past Sunday. My friend, Jody, invited me to a ladies' round robin in the town of Issaquah which is on the outskirts of Seattle. We left at about eight o'clock, stopped for coffee on the way, and reached the town of North Bend at about ten thirty. Jody had decided to expand our day trip to include an hour of shopping, and North Bend is a great place to do that. There is an open mall area that has many discount, name brand stores; we call them 'outlet'* shops. The items are new, but very reduced in price, possibly because they are a season or two old. I rarely* go there, but I know many women will make the two hour trip, just to get some bargains. My mind wasn't set on shopping; I was intrigued about the round robin coming up. I was also distracted by the beautiful countryside. Going over the Cascades towards Seattle from Wenatchee is awesome, if you love miles of dense forest, and high mountains. Of course, as you approach Seattle, there is
08/11/2011 • 7 minutes 14 seconds
Paying bills can be such a pain. It's a necessary evil. It's also something that keeps us honest: when we have to look at our true expenses in the face*, it makes us consider our life styles, and whether or not we are being responsible. But still, it's a pain. I have to have peace and quiet to do it properly: no one around, no music, no tv. Like other people, I have a system that helps me. Daily, I sort out the bills from the junk mail. The junk goes into the recycling bin, and the bills go in a neat pile on my desk. Then, later on, I'll open the bills and sort them out chronologically, so the ones that need to be paid soonest go on top of the pile. The system cuts down on paperwork, and it makes me feel as if the job is already half done. So, when I eventually sit down to pay the bills, I'm organised: I have stamps, stickers with my name and address, extra envelopes, and the bills. What else do I need*? Enthusiasm.... The bills that take up most of my time are from the credit card com
04/11/2011 • 6 minutes 21 seconds
The Skagit Valley is a beautifully dreamy green valley located between the Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound. It is very close to the border with Canada, and right next to the West Coast. I went there a few months ago with my husband, as he had a business meeting with some potato growers. We drove along miles of tree-lined coastal roads, and finally came to a large, flat, lush valley that is farmland. It was cooler and more moist than Wenatchee. There was a consistent breeze coming from the ocean, and everywhere you looked was green. As we drove along, I tried my best* to take photos of the shady lanes and coastal views with my cell phone, but as with many photos, they do not do the beauty of the landscape justice*. We finally arrived at Wallace Farms. It is located in a fairly remote part of the valley: there's not much else around other than potatoes and more potatoes. As this was a business meeting, I decided not to sit in with my husband and his fellow company workers, as I wou
02/11/2011 • 5 minutes 33 seconds
Rats in the house.
Halloween has become a bigger and more celebrated holiday over the past few years. I suspected that it would. There is something innately fun about being scared, and telling scary stories. Parties and dressing up appeal to the child in all of us, of course. But I've noticed just how the machine of materialism is driving these occasions. There are Halloween cards now in the shops, so the expectation will soon be that you must give your friends and family a 'Happy Halloween' card. The decorations for Halloween have also increased and become extremely varied. It's not just a pumpkin and a skeleton anymore. People are beginning to put up lights, as they do for Christmas. It's not a bad thing in itself; it does get dark early this time of year, so lights are a good thing. It's just that our actions tend to be driven by what is sold in the shops and what is seen on television. For example, if a large shop like Walmart advertises a cute Halloween scene on television in which we see lots of pu
26/10/2011 • 6 minutes 40 seconds
Old Man Rattlesnake and the salmon.
During my visit to the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery, there were several Native American displays. One was a story telling session, inside a large, colorful, inflated salmon. Two ladies from the Yakima Indian tribe sang songs and told a couple of stories. One was about salmon. As with many Native American stories, the main characters are animals with superpowers and human characteristics. It was an emotional story, told well by the ladies, wearing long skirts, and braided hair. It begins with the Creator giving humans the gift of salmon, along with instructions as to how to take care of them. They were never to be greedy or wasteful, only taking the amount of salmon that they needed to eat. For the first few generations, the people were obedient. However, their attitude changed and they became wasteful. Before long, there were no salmon left, and the people started to go hungry. Seeing that they had been disobedient, they were desperate to find a way to bring back the salmon to their river
21/10/2011 • 5 minutes 46 seconds
Delivering the Bobcat.
Yesterday, I had the most unusual thing to do. If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I could see myself doing what I did yesterday, I would have told you that you're insane. I delivered a Bobcat to a taxidermist. Take a while to chew on that sentence*. I will explain. My husband recently developed the hobby of shooting. He started by acquiring a rifle, a shot gun, and a pistol. Fine, I thought. Then, the passion took hold* more substantially. His gun safe became quite full, he learned the hobby of loading his own bullets (that will be a whole other podcast), and several full length camouflage suits can now be found hanging in his closet. His obsession has grown. I'll give you some background to this situation, so you can get a clear picture. First of all, in this area, hunting is a major sport. There is a wide variety of wild animals, including predatory animals, that you can legally hunt. This activity is controlled and monitored by the Fish and Wildlife department of Washingto
12/10/2011 • 7 minutes 5 seconds
Voices of the Colville Indians.
On my recent trip to Leavenworth, I had an unexpected opportunity to see a song and dance performance by the Colville Native American Indian tribe. As the salmon festival has expanded over the years, it now includes historical and cultural displays that are related to the salmon and wildlife of the Northwest. The Colville Indians, whose real name is the Shipwoyelpi, have a culture that is strongly tied* to salmon fishing. When European settlers came to this area, they gave the tribe the name of the river they were based by, the Colville. Salmon has always been an important part of their diet, and therefore, has deep cultural significance for them. I wasn't aware that any Indians at all would be at the festival. I walked around to see the different displays, taking with me a small group of children from the school that my son goes to. As we made our way* from one booth to another, we suddenly heard drums. We followed the sound until we came to a circular, sheltered area that was covered
04/10/2011 • 6 minutes 2 seconds
Raptors at the Salmon Festival.
It was field trip day last week for Robert who is in third grade. He was particularly excited because it wasn't going to be the ordinary kind of field trip that schools make, you know, to a park, or the fire station, or a bakery. It was to the town of Leavenworth which is about a half hours drive. Each year, among other celebrations, there is The Salmon Festival. On the outskirts of town, there is a salmon hatchery which opens its doors to the public. The salmon have returned from their long, long trip around the ocean, and have come back to spawn. It is an important part of the Northwest culture because the salmon are plentiful here, and huge. Because the Salmon Festival has been held for many years, it has expanded substantially. Now there are different sections that teach about other wildlife, and even Native American Indian history and tradition. Well, after our short trip on the bus, we got off, and walked to the Raptor section of the Festival. We sat in the shade of a pine tree,
03/10/2011 • 6 minutes 22 seconds
Figpickels Toy Emporium.
It was during this Summer vacation that my family and I came across the best toy shop that I have ever been to. It was in the town of Coeur d'Alene, in Idaho, the state that is to the east of Washington State, and next to Montana. As we were only on vacation for a few days, we had a very short time in this particular town, a few hours in fact. The town itself is very clean and organized, with lots of greenery, and right on a lake. It's a tourist attraction, and has a seaside feel to it. It's main street is called Sherman Avenue and is a quaint mix of cafes, restaurants, and specialty shops. It was a hot day, so we stayed on the shady side of the street. You could tell that it was Summer; there were people everywhere, especially in the outside seating areas of the cafes and restaurants. As we walked down towards the lake, I noticed several children a little further down, getting excited, pointing at one of the shops, and going in. My kids soon picked up on this*, and before I knew it,
21/09/2011 • 6 minutes 18 seconds
Friends From Estonia.
This past weekend was very special. We had friends to stay. What made the weekend special was that, at the beginning of their stay, we actually didn't even know them. This unusual situation started back in June. There was a knock at the door, and when I opened it I found a blonde, young man, with a shy smile, and an armful* of books. "Hello," he said in an accent that I couldn't exactly place. "My name is Mikhail. I wonder if you have five minutes for me to show you these books that I'm selling." I didn't want to buy any books, but neither was I in a hurry to do anything else, so I asked him to come in. It turns out that he is from Estonia, and has spent the Summer going from door to door, selling educational books made by a company called South Western. Mikhail was charming and friendly, and immediately attracted the attention of my children, who proceeded* to crowd around him and ask all kinds of questions. Well, he showed me the benefits of using these books during my children's sch
12/09/2011 • 6 minutes 27 seconds
Summer has been and gone, can you believe it? For me, it has flown*. I suppose you have been wondering, "Where on earth is Anna? Has she fallen off the planet? Has she given it all up*, moved to Nepal, and become a monk? Or is she just enjoying her Summer too much?" The latter is the correct answer. Yes, I have enjoyed my Summer. I've taken long breaks from the computer. But, you know, to tell you the truth, I have felt the pull back to podcasting. Something in me has missed doing it. I must admit, sometimes it's therapy for me! And the best part of all, is when I make connections with you listeners. One young man called Denis, emailed me from Russia recently. His English is very good, and he uses my podcasts for a little extra practice. Great! That's exactly what they're for. Good luck in Boston, Denis! Well, I have lots to tell about the Summer, but I'll start by telling you what I'm doing right now. I'm sitting in my favorite spot, which is the front door step. It's quiet and fresh;
08/09/2011 • 5 minutes 47 seconds
There is a simple principle that can be applied to all homes: if you don't do the chores, the place becomes like a pig pen. But, if you're wise, you can train the little pigs to do the chores. That is something that I have discovered recently. My four little piggies are starting to really help around the house. Now, when I refer to my children as piglets or piggies, it's not meant insultingly at all, though I am aware that in some cultures it may be so. The diminuitive form of the noun shows affection and endearment. However, if you call someone a big pig, or a big fat pig, that is completely different, and quite insulting. So, my little piggies are put to work every now and then. They only do what they are capable of, and actually not very much work. But, because there are four of them, their efforts add up to a substantial amount of help. My son Cass is big and strong, so I have him take out the garbage to the dumpster that is at the end of our driveway. My oldest son, Hudson, mows t
17/08/2011 • 5 minutes 49 seconds
All the tents in the backyard.
"We've got a bunch of poles missing," said my husband *in a huff, as he got in his car to go to a meeting. He had been looking in the storage area above our garage for tents, and all that goes with them. We needed the tents because nine boys had come over for a Summer party, and the expectation was, that they would camp out in the back yard. The weather was perfect for camping out, plus the thought of having an extra nine, *rowdy boys in my house at night, didn't appeal to me at all. So, camping it was. But you can't do any camping if you're missing any of the tent poles. Now, knowing that men aren't very good at finding things, (I know, that's a huge generalization, but *I'm sticking with it), I decided to go up to the storage room and look for the poles myself. The worst thing about our storage room, is that it isn't insulated, so this time of year it's boiling. We do have a couple of vents and a little fan, but when the temperature reaches over 100, they don't make much of a differe
01/08/2011 • 5 minutes 43 seconds
4000,000 boxes of cherries.
I learned a few things this past weekend about the fruit industry. My husband has been involved in national and international export of fruit for over twenty years, and right now, he is *up to his neck in this season's fruit: the cherry. Washington state is one of the major cherry producers, and July and August are the two months for harvesting and shipping. We happened to be in a town called Brewster which is about an hour and a half north of Wenatchee. As you head north, the landscape becomes dryer, and fascinatingly *moon-like. You travel right along the Columbia river all the way up North. At either side of the river are high, dry hills, that continue off into the distance for miles. There are countless *gullies and tucked-away areas where wildlife live, such as coyotes, deer, and even big horn sheep. Down at the river's edge is a different story. Because of the available water, communities have sprung up, including many lush parks, and, of course, the orchards. Ironically, the dry
26/07/2011 • 6 minutes 39 seconds
Tyler Farrar from Wenatchee.
For those of you who are following the Tour de France, you will recognize the name Tyler Farrar. He is from the town where I live, Wenatchee. The fact that he is not only in the Tour, but also doing well, has really created a buzz of excitement here. The local newspaper, The Wenatchee World, has a daily spot about the race so we can all keep up to date with how Tyler is doing. What we are holding our breath for, is the sprint into Paris. He will be against Mark Cavendish, the English missile, and other sprinters such as Thor Hushov and Alessandro Petacchi. My husband and I are amazingly addicted to the tour; we have it taped, and so, in the evenings, that's what we watch. Sorry kids, no cartoons. Tyler's father lives and works in Wenatchee; he is a surgeon, and is often seen biking in the local parks. Tyler must have been an unusual child for this area of the States. Most boys become deeply involved in baseball, basketball, or football. Now, soccer and hockey are also popular. However,
22/07/2011 • 5 minutes 39 seconds
*It's no secret that boys of a certain age like guns, even if they are *make-believe. I remember that before my boys ever had any plastic weapons, they would use other toys, or even sticks, and pretend that they were guns. Perhaps they were influenced by something that they had seen on television, or maybe in a book. Who knows? Even at snack time, they would hold up their carrots at eachother and pretend to shoot. Well, now that my boys are older, we have found a happy medium between play and reality. Air soft. These guns are fashioned to look exactly like the real thing, but often smaller in size. And what they shoot is harmless: bb's. These are small, plastic balls that come in various colors. We have white, orange, and fluorescent yellow ones. The boys *take their weapons quite seriously. They have already had a proper air soft battle with friends up in the forest where they camped out for the night. It was supervised, of course, by parents. Eye protection is a must, and nobody is a
18/07/2011 • 6 minutes 4 seconds
Oh, I haven't been getting much sleep recently. It seems as though* the whole world is noisy. It's summer, and every living thing is feeling fully alive, and therefore, making lots of noise. I often have to put our two dogs in the garage in the early hours of the morning because they have a barking fit* at who knows what*. There are racoon families in our neighborhood. At night they scurry* around, looking for food in the garbage cans. They need to feed their babies, so they are busy. And, of course, when the dogs pick up their scent in the air, it's barking time. Also, the birds are busy feeding their chicks. We have a bird house next to our deck, in our back yard, with three chicks in it. Very early in the morning you'll hear the chirp, chirp, peep, peep. It's adorable, even if it is at five in the morning. My children have asked me if we can feed them, but of course I told them "no", because who knows what they would give them to eat when I'm not looking..... I would probably find
07/07/2011 • 5 minutes 7 seconds
Preparation for a barbecue.
One of the things I like most about Summer is barbecuing. As a person who cooks all the time, it's so nice to have a break from the kitchen, and to do some rapid, easy clean-up cooking on the barby. Over here, it's often the men who are in charge of barbecuing the meat; it's like a tradition. However, because of its convenience, I take over often, and get everything prepared before anyone else turns up. The other day, when I went grocery shopping, I stocked up* on sauces that I can use for marinading different meats and fish to keep my barbecues interesting. I bought an Asian ginger sauce, a Teriaki, a smoky barbecue sauce, and an Indian marinade. That should keep meals interesting for a while. I also bought a packet of wooden skewers onto which I can put all sorts of vegetables. So, now I'm prepared, with a fridge full of meat and vegetables, and also the freezer. “What's for dinner?” no longer has to be an annoying question. Part of getting prepared is making sure that there is enou
06/07/2011 • 5 minutes 17 seconds
A Morning Routine.
A routine is a habit, often one that gives us comfort, or some sort of benefit. We say in English that we are 'creatures of habit'. Humans like to have a routine, a familiar way of living. I've noticed that even my children have developed their own routines: how they dress and take care of themselves, what they like to eat and when, and even how they play. A routine that I have in the morning that makes a positive impact on my day, is my coffee routine. A few years ago, my husband and I decided that it was time to get a decent coffee maker: an espresso machine. Espresso, and the whole mediterranean style cafes that are enjoyed so much here, have only really taken off over the past fifteen to twenty years. When I first came over here, Starbucks was very new indeed. They were the first company that brought the laid back, sit and have a coffee, culture to the states. And now there are many other such companies. So, when we decided to buy an espresso machine, Starbucks was the obvious choi
29/06/2011 • 6 minutes 11 seconds
Watermelon eating competition.
Are you enjoying your Summer? It is in full swing now. The clothes shops are full of swimming suits, bikinis, and barbecue equipment. Flowers are out, and most families find a swimming pool to enjoy. There were end of year celebrations for schools, held in parks around the area. We went to the end of year barbecue for the alternative school that two of my sons have been going to for about six months. It took place in a well manicured park that is next to our nearest dam, Rocky Reach Dam. There are covered seating areas with sinks, tables, and chairs, for picnickers. There is also a large playing area for younger children, to keep them occupied. Each family was asked to bring a plate or two of food to share, and if possible, watermelon. It was hot when we got there, and there were already lots of young people running around in swimming suits, having water fights. The atmosphere was generally laid back, with most people eventually sitting on the grass in groups, eating, and chatting. Whe
27/06/2011 • 5 minutes 59 seconds
Summer Camps Are Here.
This is the first week of Summer vacation. The first couple of days seemed a bit unreal; my two youngest kept on asking if they had school the next day. "Nope," I would reply,"it's the Summer, remember?" Thankfully, we are getting used to a slower pace. I don't have to drive as much, which is a relief. There are a few things that I have arranged for the children this Summer to keep them occupied and learning new things. My first and third sons have been attending a basketball Summer camp. It is only for three days, and is taught by seasoned coaches. It is held in the High School, which is exciting for them, because that is where the 'big boys' go. It's a place they don't go to very much, so there is a certain appeal about it. The turn out for the camp has been quite substantial. The morning session, for the younger kids, has about thirty five all together. They turn up at eight thirty, and finish at noon. Then it's home, lunch, and dropping off Hudson for his four and a half hours. The
22/06/2011 • 5 minutes 10 seconds
A Project of Renovation.
I have an excuse for not updating my podcast for a few days, honestly....I dove into a renovation project in my house. It's something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but something always seems to come up*, so the project gets put off. The powder room on the first floor of the house has had a face-lift. It was a sweet, little, room, but really quite out of date. Getting involved in this kind of project is tempting, but also dangerous. What you plan on taking a few days to do, can easily spread out to a week or two. And, wouldn't you know, that once I bought the paint, and made a mental note of my great plan, I suddenly needed to do other things. My daughter had to go to the hospital for an exploratory examination. Thankfully, that turned out fine, but it took the best part of the day, and all of my energy. Then, the car had to be taken in to be looked at because its front end has been making a sort of whining, yawning noise. So, that was another two hours spent in a waiting ro
14/06/2011 • 6 minutes 29 seconds
Eloy Flying at Kiwanis.
I bet if you have downloaded this podcast, you are wondering what on earth it is about. I know, the title is curious. Well, let me tell you. I'm in the city of Yakima at the moment, writing for you from a lounge chair, next to a pool, at the Oxford Inn hotel. It is situated right next to the river, in a lovely tree-lined area, quite close to the baseball park. And that is why we're here. Yes, you've heard about our involvement in this sport before. This summer, we have weekend tournaments just about every other week, and most are out of town. So, right now, we're relaxing after a long morning of driving here, and then sitting through two games. Our team, called the River Cats, actually won both games. We have more games tomorrow, and then drive home. In between games, I walked around the nearby area with my children, and took them to a play area of the Kiwanis park. Over a little shady hill, we discovered a large skateboarding park. Boys and young men were busily whooshing by on their
12/06/2011 • 4 minutes 47 seconds
I know a few people who have Stetsons. Infact, when my brother was visiting a few months ago, he bought himself a couple. They are good quality, and last for a long time. Where he lives is very sunny, so they are a charming, and unusual way to get shade in New Zealand. Stetson is an icon of American society. It's typically American, like baseball, and Elvis Presley. Close to the end of the 19th century, the Stetson Hat Company was the biggest in the world, producing over three million hats a year. Even in our little, downtown museum, we have a glass case that is dedicated to the Stetson company. I had no idea that women's hats were also made. John B. Stetson started his company in 1865. Initially, only men's hats were made. It wasn't until the 1930's that ladies hats were also made. The company is based in Garland, Texas, and is now one of the largest in the country. This success story is said to have started when John Stetson went to Colorado to prospect for gold. While he was there,
07/06/2011 • 5 minutes 19 seconds
The First Transpacific Flight.
Clyde Edward Pangborn, a stunt pilot, and flight instructor during the First World War, arrived in Wenatchee on October 5th, 1931, after 41 hours and 15 minutes of flighing. He and his partner, Hugh Herndon Jr., had just made a historic flight from Shabishiro, Japan, the first time the pacific had been flown across. What's exciting about that historical trip, is that they completed it in Wenatchee. They had been scheduled to land in Seattle, but couldn't do so because of bad weather. I had heard about this flight a long time ago when I first came here, but I didn't really think much about it until I went to the museum the other day. There was a free day for the public on Friday, so I took my children and another friend to explore. The children ran around like rats, going into all of the different rooms, the art display, the electric miniature railway room, and a real apple sorter from the last century. I followed them into the room that was dedicated to the transpacific flight, and rea
07/06/2011 • 5 minutes 15 seconds
I have noticed recently in the shops, a new season of toys on the shelves. When I say a season of toys, what I mean is a new set of toys for this warmer season. The Summer toys are here, and they have a very outdoorsy and watery theme. As you browse the aisles, you will find goggles and snorkeling gear, noodles which are made of styrofoam (also for swimming), buckets, spades, parasols, and slip 'n' slides. Let me explain what some of these are. A noodle is a piece of cheap styrofoam that looks like a giant noodle, but is usually a bright, primary color. It is perfect for hanging on to, or wrapping around oneself. You can even bash a friend on the head with it, without hurting anyone at all. It's a floatation device, of sorts. A slip 'n' slide, on the other hand, is a very long, and wide, sheet of plastic that sometimes has perforated hoses running down its length. The hoses wet the sheet, and you and your friends run as fast as you can, and jump stomach first onto the plastic sheet. Yo
01/06/2011 • 5 minutes 39 seconds
A Yard of Bubblegum.
We had an interesting weekend this past Memorial Day weekend. We went to the town of Monroe which is on the outskirts of Seattle. My son had a baseball tournament. It would have lasted for three days if they had won on both Saturday and Sunday. However, they didn't do so well on Sunday, so we were free to leave. There is a saying in England, 'A change is as good as a rest,' which I think applied to our weekend. We don't often get out of Wenatchee, and although Seattle is only three hours away, it is a totally different environment. The climate is much wetter, so the whole place is green, with trees everywhere. Being from England, it makes me feel quite at home. And it is obviously more populated than our small rural town, so there is a lot more to do. After the last baseball game, we headed into town to have lunch and do some shopping. There is a place that I always try and visit whenever I'm in Seattle. It's called World Plus Imports. The name gives away the theme of the store. It is
31/05/2011 • 5 minutes 6 seconds
Thanks for the million downloads.
This is a very special podcast because I have some thanking to do. Every now and then, I check on the statistics of my podcast, and yesterday I saw that I have had more than a million downloads all together. Thank you, to all of you who have listened to my short ramblings for the past two and a half years. I suppose one million downloads isn't really that much when it comes to the internet, but for me, it's a rare number, and one that I am very excited about. Now, I can tell my friends and family, "Hey, my podcast has been downloaded more than a million times!" It's a great way to show off. A million isn't really a number that I hear very much, apart from the occasional expression. 'One in a million' is a common expression which means something or someone very special. 'A million to one' is obviously a very low chance of something happening. For example, 'The chance of me getting that job is a million to one.' However, there has been a lot of talk recently using the word 'million' beca
27/05/2011 • 4 minutes 44 seconds
Security on wheels.
You can really feel that Summer is on its way. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork. People are actually walking on the streets. You don't often see that; it's usually empty sidewalks and everyone in cars. But now, there is plenty of reason to walk. The air just feels soooo good, and the sun is not yet too hot. As I was driving home the other day, I saw two very sporty men on bicycles. Now, there happen to be a lot of cyclists in this area. It's a cycling paradise actually, because of the nearby hills and trails. But, these men were different. You could tell that they weren't cycling for pleasure. They were policemen. And they were cycling up my road! I felt sorry for them actually; our road is very steep. By the time they got to the top, they would have been exhausted. They looked as if they were in really good shape, not the typical, overweight, doughnut eating policemen in patrol cars. If you love cycling, it would be an ideal job. You'd get paid for riding your bike all day. And
24/05/2011 • 4 minutes 21 seconds
The Instrument Zoo.
It's not very often that you get the opportunity to try out many kinds of instruments. Have you ever blown a bassoon? Have you ever strummed an electric guitar, or tried a set of drums? We had the chance to do that on Saturday. The Woodshouse Conservatory of Music was holding what they called an 'Instrument Zoo' for the public to come and enjoy. When we walked into the entryway, we were greeted by a face painter (for the kids) and we were given a map showing us which instruments were in which rooms. On the main floor, we walked into the room which is normally used as an office. A young man was there with a clarinet. Cool! My sister used to play one when she was little. I love its cool tones. He played a great piece from Pirates of the Caribbean. We are movie soundtrack buffs in our household, and that is a soundtrack that we are very familiar with. He caught our attention immediately. "Do you want a turn?" he asked. Of course I did, but I wanted to let my kids try it first. They all lo
23/05/2011 • 5 minutes 34 seconds
Who invented the Garp?
Like many good things, the Garp started out as an idea. A boy had been told by his Science teacher to make an instrument involving specific measurements and the number eight. Well, the idea moved around in the mind of the boy for a few days, changing its shape a little, becoming more real and more possible each day. A day before he had to produce the instrument, and show it to his teacher, the boy set to work. He sneaked into his father's workshop and looked around. Gosh, look at all those tools. "I can surely create something wonderful here," he thought. First, he picked out a piece of wood from the many that were there. He put it in the vice, and tightened it. Then, he very carefully marked in pencil the measurements that his Science teacher had given him. Then came the screws. He screwed them in at each point where he had marked the measurements. Finally, he chose eight elastic bands, stretched and looped each one around two screws, creating a stringed instrument. "Yes," he thought,
19/05/2011 • 5 minutes 54 seconds
A Food Drive?
What does a food drive mean? It's nothing to do with driving a car, that's for sure. You could also have a clothes drive, or a drive of something else. It is a call for donations, to put it simply. I received a plastic bag in the mail, placed there by the local postman himself. He, and many others like him, do a yearly food drive to help hungry people in our community. Everybody gets their mail, so everybody will have received the same bag. All the information that you need is written right there on the bag. It tells you what the drive is for, and that the National Association of Letter Carriers and the local Food Bank are working together to collect for the poor. 'Stamp out hunger', it says. To stamp out something is when you finish it, or do away with it completely. You will probably have heard the expression in other contexts such as: 'stamp out violence', 'stamp out bullying', 'stamp out racism'. To stamp out gives you a good visual for the meaning of the expression. I think that t
18/05/2011 • 4 minutes 41 seconds
No podcast today.
Hello everyone, no podcast today, I'm afraid. For a few days I have a lot of appointments lined up. So, I will podcast again on Wednesday. I'll let you know what I've been up to then.
17/05/2011 • 49 seconds
An up-to-date Morris Park.
Morris Park is loved by many people in Wenatchee. It is a little league baseball park that has been around for more than forty years. Up until recently, it was in desperate need of repair and renovation. There were electrical problems, no heating or air conditioning, and the toilets were unspeakable...so I won't say anything about them. The parking lot was also a disaster; people would park badly, taking up too much space. Everything needed to be changed and updated. Well, over the past few months, a team of very focused volunteers has managed to raise money, put in many hours of labor, and transform Morris Park. It is barely recognizable as the original little league park that has been used for so many years. But you know how it is; when a place changes completely, for the better, you soon get used to it, and even forget about its former appearance. That is the case now with Morris Park. Now, as you pull up in your car, you see a brand new parking lot, with freshly painted lines for e
16/05/2011 • 5 minutes 7 seconds
Native American Sculptures.
Art seems to be a very personal thing, as far as what a person does and doesn't like. You must have found that, at some point in time, you have been in a place where all of a sudden you come across a piece of art that you absolutely love. That happened to me on Saturday. When I was hanging around the ball park in Moses Lake, in between games, I noticed what looked like a statue outside one of the many non-descript buildings that were close by. I had nothing else to do, as the next baseball game wasn't going to start for another twenty minutes. So, I decided to walk over to the building and take a look. I'm glad that I brought my camera, and that the battery was charged, because I came across a beautiful work of art. It was a metal statue of a very defeated looking Native American Indian, on an exhausted looking horse. It was large, and very detailed. Partly, the surprise of finding such a soulful work in a really soulless collection of buildings drew me close to the sculpture. "Who on
13/05/2011 • 5 minutes 19 seconds
A Hole in Facebook.
You know, I'm getting better at learning about technology. I wouldn't say that I am totally ignorant about social media, but neither am I an expert. At least now I have a Twitter button on my blog page, in case anyone likes a blog and wants to send a Tweet about it. I also joined Facebook a while ago. For about a year I enjoyed my personal Facebook page; I reconnected with friends who I hadn't seen for a long time, and I quickly got up to date with what they had been up to over the years. That's the beauty of Facebook. Then, I thought, "Why don't I create a Facebook page for A Cup Of English?" So I did. It had a very positive reception, and many people joined it quickly. Someone then suggested that I create a group especially for my podcast followers. "Good idea!" I thought. That worked too. But then, everything went pear shaped (that's an English expression for things no longer being straight forward). I canceled my A Cup Of English page because some of my personal friends had joined,
12/05/2011 • 5 minutes 10 seconds
Clouds Over Quincy.
We drove home Saturday evening from a town called Moses Lake after watching baseball games all day. The boys were tired and we were quiet in the car, looking forward to being at home and out of the wind and cold. It had been a great day, with three wins all in a row. We stopped in a town called Quincy because we were starving, and didn't want to wait until we got home to eat. We ordered food in a sandwich shop, ate quickly, and then continued on our journey home. Quincy is an agricultural town, very flat for miles and miles. Farming is the life of the town which, itself, is very small indeed. Because the landscape is flat, the sky seems like a huge expanse. As I gazed out of the window sleepily, I suddenly realized that I was looking straight at the most beautiful cloud. It was enormous, and in the darkening sky it was still lit up by the last rays of sun. There were only patches of cloud around, but for some reason this cloud was huge. Streams of rain were coming from the bottom, and
10/05/2011 • 5 minutes 13 seconds
A Living Museum.
I received an email a couple of weeks ago from the part-time school that my oldest son attends. It was a reminder about a special evening presentation that they were going to have, 'a living museum'. At first, I actually ignored the email because I assumed that my son had nothing to do with it. It was a few days later that he asked me to help him get his costume ready for the event. Now, it just happens that we have been studying some ancient history at home: Roman, Greek, and Egyptian. At school, my son's History teacher had asked each student to choose a person from history to study. Hudson chose Emperor Augustus. His first choice was Alexander the Great, but someone else chose him before he had a chance to. So, he settled for his second choice, but someone equally influential and famous. Now, this is the sort of history that kids love to learn. What made this presentation even better was that they had to dress up. You could say that it was going to be a cross between drama and histo
09/05/2011 • 4 minutes 59 seconds
A Doll's House.
There's something in my daughter's bedroom that takes center stage when her friends come around to play. It's her doll's house. It's a typical girls' toy, but one of the best and most interesting. She got it as a birthday present a couple of years ago, and squealed with delight when she opened the box. I would have liked to have to got her a wooden one; they seem better designed, more traditional, and the type that you keep as an heirloom. However, the only decent one that was available was the plastic one from Walmart. So, that was the one that was chosen for her. The outside looks ornate, with Victorian style architectural elements. However, the fun starts when you open it. One side of the house is split in two, like a double door fridge. Inside the two parts that open up, are two rooms. A patio folds out, and there are three floors revealed in the main area of the house. Of course, you have to furnish the house. The manufacturers are very smart; they sell sets of furniture separatel
06/05/2011 • 5 minutes 51 seconds
A Championship Game.
It was a perfect Sunday. We had two games, one at eleven and one at three. We didn't have to worry about the wind coming down from the mountains today because the weather was calm. Sunscreen would have benefitted a lot of people who, by the end of the day, must have been a bit red and sore. I had brought my broad brimmed black hat and sunglasses because I wanted to focus on the games, and not have to squint and shield my eyes. The first baseball team that we faced was Wenatchee. Our team is called the River Cats. We usually get beaten by this team, but somehow, the River Cats played well as a team and beat them by four points. That was a confidence booster! And, when you go into the finals against a team from Seattle, you need all the confidence you can get. And so, the game began. Seattle quickly got into the lead. The team members were all good hitters. They had obviously practiced hard. Even so, our fielders did a good job of running and catching some of their balls. We cheered loud
03/05/2011 • 5 minutes 39 seconds
A Tour of Homes: The Tool Shed.
For the first time in about six months, I creaked open the tool shed that is at the bottom of our garden. Yesterday happened to be a beautiful Spring day, so I couldn't avoid getting into the garden. Everything is green again, and the blossoms on the trees are just about to fully open. I had been at baseball games all morning, until about three in the afternoon, so there was still plenty of daylight left for gardening. When I opened the shed, it was like saying hello to an old friend. I've been in and out of it so many times for years, that it is a very familiar place to be. It was actually too hot to do a lot of work, so I chose to transplant a perennial from one shady area to another. It's the kind of hardy plant that comes back each year, no matter what. It is a low growing plant with delicate leaves and white, spiral-shaped flowers. And it is already out, and almost fully on display. I hacked it in two, and dug up one half which I carried over to a path. I then continued to chop it
02/05/2011 • 5 minutes 55 seconds
Once a week, as part of his practice schedule, my son Cass has batting practice for baseball. It takes place in a sports complex called Sportsplex. The building actually used to be an ice skating rink, but has been converted into a place where you can play sports that don't involve ice. It is an old building that has a comfortable, used feeling about it. Cass usually has to go on Wednesday's for a an hour and a half. A small corner of the building has been reserved for any team that wishes to book in advance, and perfect the batters' swings. The boys put on their helmets, and face the pitcher. Thankfully, the pitcher is usually the coach, so the pitching is good and accurate. However, because the coach is an adult, there is no mercy when it comes to the speed. The boys have to be ready, with their eyes on the ball. Another piece of protection that the boys wear is the 'cup'. It's to protect their genitals, or as we say, their privates. It's a very necessary piece of equipment that olde
29/04/2011 • 5 minutes 9 seconds
A rocket launch.
It was a windy, sunny day. You certainly needed to have a jacket on, as the wind was blowing down from the snow-capped hills. The crowd had gathered in the park, as scheduled. Everyone was excited, and waiting for the teacher to appear. A few passersby looked over and wondered why this group of people was standing and waiting for something. Finally, a car pulled up, parked, and out stepped the teacher, with a big box in his arms. There were all sorts of smaller boxes and pointy things protruding from the larger box. Anyone watching would wonder what he was up to. A couple of the kids ran up to him, "Hey, Mr. Mugg. Do you want some help?" After putting the box down, the teacher set up two launch pads, or rather launch sticks, for the morning's event. Some of the younger kids jumped up and down with excitement, and giggled nervously. It was time for the first student to see what he could do. He got his rocket, that he had spent the last few weeks building, from the box, put it on the lau
28/04/2011 • 5 minutes 2 seconds
A bleating baby.
Those of you who follow my podcast probably remember that I live in a rural area. Our house is located towards the outskirts of a small community. Our neighbors tend to have lots of trees, vegetable gardens, and animals. Across the road from us is a horse. Around the corner are two mules (which are like donkeys), and right next door we have chickens and goats. So, you can imagine that in this neighborhood there are lots of interesting noises and smells. There is a new set of noises and smells now, to add to those that we are used to. A baby goat was born a few weeks ago, right next door. Cheri, the lady who breeds them, invited us over to take a look. She has always kept animals and bred them for shows, and as a general hobby. The goats live in a triangular shelter that has a heat lamp, and they have an area to run around in. They are black and white, plump and playful. We were all very excited to see this newborn. The children desperately wanted to hold it, but it was still a bit too
22/04/2011 • 5 minutes 54 seconds
Borrowing and returning.
Every now and then, I make a trip to the local library, sometimes by myself, and sometimes with my children. I love the quiet that you can experience there. It also reminds me of the fact that there is always something that you can learn; there is always something to read about. I've heard it said that it's good for children to become 'library rats'. That means that they should get used to going there; it should be familiar to them, as if they were rats who lived in its walls. Our local library has an upstairs children's section that has recently been renovated. It's a good idea to keep the kids separate from the rest of the place, so noise can be controlled. In their area, they have a castle-style entrance, all kinds of floor toys for youngsters, Legos and puzzles, puppets, and a fish tank. It's a really cozy place where kids can explore and do the things they enjoy. I also use another library that is in the part-time school that my two homeschooled children go to. It has some amazing
21/04/2011 • 5 minutes 40 seconds
As you study English, you will become familiar with question tags. A tag is a little something that is added on, just like the tag on your shirt that tells you the size and type of material. We use question tags all the time in English to add a brief question to the end of a sentence. Some examples are:
It isn't raining, is it?
He works in real estate, doesn't he?
You're okay, aren't you?
You might have noticed already, that there is a pattern that is followed when using question tags. Usually, when the sentence is positive, the tag is negative. And vice versa. Also, the same auxiliary verb should be used, though there are some exceptions to this rule. Listen to the following that use the verb to be:
This dress is too tight for me, isn't it?
The film is going to start, isn't it?
They're late, aren't they?
We're on time, aren't we?
She's our tour guide, isn't she?
You can see the pattern quite easily here. In the tag, the subject comes at the very end. Before that, you simply
20/04/2011 • 5 minutes 31 seconds
A Cougar in Town!
The local news the other day was just the kind of news that I don't want to hear. A cougar had wandered down from the nearby mountains and was found in a residential area of town. Now, I know that we live in an area that is close to wilderness. You don't have to travel far from here to encounter bears, cougars, coyotes, and now increasingly, wolves. I remember having a conversation with my brother about the wildernesses around here. He is in love with wild, out of the way places. I, on the other hand, quite like towns and cities, though I do appreciate the beauty of the wild. As he is a photographer, he tries to find a way to wildernesses whenever he can, to have encounters with wild animals, and take photos whenever possible. I, on the other hand, came here to marry my man who is only slightly wild. I have deep respect for all the predatory animals that surround us, and I enjoy the fact that they are up in the hills, and we are down in the towns. I hope it stays that way. But, instanc
19/04/2011 • 5 minutes 25 seconds
Have you ever wondered what a stereotype is, and why we have them? Do you, culturally, have certain stereotypes about certain people? Of course, all countries do. I'm sure that, in the past, I have judged people according to stereotypes I had learned, and been completely wrong about those individuals. One definition of a stereotype is an assumption about someone based on his looks, dress, job, age, and ethnicity. When I first came over to the U.S., everything was quite new to me. I had, up until then, only experienced the U.S. culture through television, and through some American friends who I had met in London. But, as they say, 'there's nothing quite like being there.' One day, while I was visiting for the first time, I walked into the lounge and saw Tom, the man I later married, and his father sitting on the sofa watching baseball on television, both wearing baseball hats. My immediate reaction was to laugh. It seemed, to my ignorant eye, that they had put their hats on out of enthu
18/04/2011 • 5 minutes 36 seconds
Oh, so you don't like phonics?
Hands up any of you who don't like English phonics. I can't see your hands, but it certainly sounded like a lot of them went up. Do you think English phonics are a pain? Well, do you know what I think? I agree with you; they are a pain. Believe me, as an English person, learning my own language was not that easy. Of course, speaking it came easily because I'm a native, but the writing part was much more problematic. I'm reminded now of the struggle that it can be to come to understand and remember all the different rules to English phonics. My second grader, who I homeschool, is climbing up the hill of phonics knowledge. He has almost got to the top, but still has a little way to go. It's extremely satisfying, as a mum, to see a child make progress with reading or writing, and to see how, once they know a rule, they can apply it. I'm looking forward to the day when he can read for pleasure. Today, in an effort to help my son get to the top of that reading and writing hill, I went to Th
15/04/2011 • 5 minutes 59 seconds
A new career in the making.
Confidence, it seems, can get you a long way in life. Confidence around other people can actually make those around you feel comfortable. I'm talking about the kind of confidence that lets you just be yourself; you don't have to prove anything or impress anyone. When I took my daughter with me to the hair dressers so I could get a hair cut, she charmed everyone there and made herself at home. As the hair stylist wet and combed my hair, I heard Domini chatting to a lady in a wheel chair who was waiting to have her hair cut. She openly asked her questions about her lack of mobility, and talked about all sorts of things, until both of them were smiling and laughing. The woman obviously felt at ease. Then Domini moved to someone else and chatted for a while, asking questions, and talking about her school and her friends. Finally, she jumped up on a seat next to me and got the attention of my hair dresser. I had hair in my eyes, so I couldn't see very well. I was concerned that the stylist
14/04/2011 • 5 minutes 21 seconds
A Manicure Fanatic.
My daughter is obsessed with fashion. She is only six, and it comes as a surprize to me that she is so fashion conscious. She is not so concerned with the seasons' colors or styles, but she does like to know the 'pop' fashion. I think it comes from her being very musical. When she hears a pop song, or sees artists sing on television, she really takes notice of what they are wearing, and their general style. Also, she is influenced by her girl friends at school. If so'n'so has a pretty, new jacket, she will want one that is similar. She won't necessarily get the jacket, but she will certainly talk about it a lot, and try her hardest to get what she wants. So, she started to become interested in makeup. You know, you can find little girls makeup sets that they play with at home, and with their friends. I went along with this, thinking that, as long as she keeps it at home, but washes it off before going out, then it was okay. However, sometimes we would be going out, and without me reali
13/04/2011 • 5 minutes 39 seconds
A Norman Conqueror at the bank.
You see the strangest people in the most unlikely places sometimes. I was at the bank the other day, making a deposit, when I heard a, "Clomp, clomp, clomp" to my side. I turned to look at the person next to me, and standing there was a Norman soldier. Yes, I'm not kidding! He was completely dressed and ready for battle. I recognized him as Norman because of his helmet which was very round, with a long nose piece. From his neck to t