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Idioms that make me laugh May 17, 2010

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.
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Sometimes I say things that make people laugh…which can be a good thing if I am trying to make them laugh. But sometimes I am not trying, but the idioms I say sound ridiculous to someone who speaks another language.

For example, my mom always said, “I am fit to be tied.” That meant she was mad.

What exactly is an idiom? Well, the dictionary says it is the language that is unique to a specific group of people or to a district, community or class of people. It also says it is an expression in a language that is peculiar to itself and the meaning cannot be derived from the words used.

Below are a few idioms that may be fun to learn and use.

Give me a break or Cut me some slack – means the person wants you to be patient with them. 

Wrap it up – means to finish a project or a telephone call or what ever you are doing.

Scarf it up – means to eat very fast.

Vegg out – means to be lazy, to sit and not doing anything.

Pick up the pace – means to work a little faster.

Stock up – means to buy a lot of any item so you will have extra.

A1 – means a person or thing is really wonderful, the best.

Pooped out – means to be very tired.

A long row to hoe –  means to have a difficult task to do.

Flap your jaws – means to gossip.

A day late and a dollar short – means you do not have enough time or money to do something.

Pig out – means to eat so much you are overly full.

Bag of bones – means to be too thin.

Barking up the wrong tree – means you are looking for the answer in the wrong place.

A little bird told me – means you do not want to tell someone where you got the information you have.

A penny for your thoughts – means you want to know what that person is thinking about.

A steal – means something is so cheap it seems like it is a mistake.

Back to square one – to have to start all over again.

An ace up your sleeve – means you have an unfair advantage over someone else.

Add fuel to the fire – means to make a difficult situation worse.

All ears – means you give someone all of your attention to listen to them.

Bad apple – someone who is bad and who encourages other people to be bad.

Bats in the belfry – means you are a little crazy.

And below is a picture of my daughters trying to make me laugh…and it worked!

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Man’s best friend – his dog May 12, 2010

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.
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Have you ever heard the expression, “Man’s best friend?” It refers to a  dog being the best friend a person can ever have.

Here in Ukraine, you see these “best friends” running loose everywhere. Very few of the dogs you see are at the end of a leash or are someone’s pet. Most dogs and cats you see on the streets are homeless, stays that live off the kindness of strangers or by hunting through garbage for their meals. It seems very sad to me that so many dogs and cats do not have a loving home and someone to pet them and take care of them.

Having so many stray dogs and cats living on the streets is very different from America. It is something I had to get accustomed to seeing. I also had to remember not to try to pet them because they may not be friendly and bite if they are approached.

In America, every city has an animal shelter – a place where stray dogs and cats are taken if they are found loose on the street. If someone sees an animal running around their neighborhood, they call the Dog Warden, who is an elected official who manages the city’s Animal Shelter.  The Dog Warden will send one of the Shelter’s deputies  to pick up the stray dog or cat and take them to the animal shelter.

Sometimes, peoples’ pets get lose or escape from their yard. These animals are also picked up and taken to the animal shelter if someone sees them running around.  If they have on a collar with a license, the owner receives a call to come and pick them up from the Animal Shelter. If there is no collar or license, the animal is kept for a certain number of weeks. They are treated by a veterinarian and put up for adoption.

Many people who want a pet will go to their local Animal Shelter and adopt a dog or cat. If no one adopts a stray animal that has been at the shelter for a long time, the Dog Warden may decide to put the animal to sleep, which means they are given a drug that makes their heart stop and they die.  There is not specific amount of time a dog or cat may be kept at the Animal Shelter. Keeping them there or putting them to sleep is often determined by the animals health, their temperament and if the Shelter has enough room to keep them.

Putting an animal to sleep seems like a terrible thing to do, and it makes me sad to think about it. But it is the way stray animals are kept off the streets and people protected from getting bitten.

About 6 to 8 million dogs and cats are picked up and taken to Animal Shelters each year in the United States. of that amount, 3 to 4 million are put to sleep.

There is an organization in America that tries to prevent animals from being put to sleep. It is called the Humane Society.

The Humane Society is different from an Animal Shelter because it is not managed by the government. It does not receive government money; all expenses are from donations made by people who do not want to see animals put to sleep. And that is one of the main differences between an Animal Shelter and the Humane Society – the Humane Society will not put an animal to sleep unless they have a terminal illness.

When my youngest daughter, Darcie, asked to have a dog we went to the Animal Shelter to adopt one. She wanted a big dog, not a puppy, and one that would be very loving and calm. She also wanted a dog that needed a home, one that may not get adopted easily. We did not find her a dog on our first trip to the Animal Shelter. We gave them our phone number and asked that they call us if they found a dog that really needed a home. A few days later they called.

Darcie adopted a wonderful dog that she named Maggie. Maggie’s owner had left her and several other dogs alone for a week in his yard without food or water. Maggie had just had puppies about a month before, and she was very weak and very skinny. She was timid, kind of scared of people but we could tell she would be very loving.

It took 6 months for Maggie to put on enough weight so you could not see her rib cage. Her fur had been falling out due to malnutrition, and that stopped after a few weeks. And when she first came home with us, Maggie did not know how to play…it was a though no one had ever played with her! After a few months, when she got stronger, she learned to run after the ball we would throw for her.

Darcie and I love Maggie very much. We are grateful to the Dog Warden for picking her up. I wish all the stray dogs in Ukraine could have a home like Maggie does now. Below are some pictures of Maggie taken last Christmas. The last photo is Maggie with my youngest daughter Darcie and her boyfriend Mark.

Perspective – what does it mean? May 11, 2010

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.
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If two people look at a field of sunflowers, they may see two very different things. One person may see the beauty of nature, the miracle of colorful flowers sprouting from the earth. Another person may see the field only as a crop that can produce sunflower oil and sunflower seeds. 

That is perspective – how each of us view things through our own eyes and mind, through our own ability to understand it.

The dictionary describes the word, “perspective” as meaning as the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed or the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. 

I had an interesting experience with my perspective recently at one of my Talk Labs.

I meet with some adults and university students each Saturday at the Oblast Library. We call the meeting a Talk Lab because everyone speaks English well and wants to practice and talk with other English speakers. One day, our conversation was about World War II and the German occupation of Ukraine.

Most of the books I read about  World War II talked about how badly people were treated by the Germans, how so many people were killed or beaten and robbed by soldiers. From my perspective, the German soldiers were people to be feared. Several of the people at my Talk Lab had a different perspective.

One person told the story of how he met German soldiers close to the end of the War. He was a little boy, maybe five or six years old and his brothers were just a little older. The soldiers came to his house in the village to rest and eat. His parents let them in and gave them water to drink.

After the soldiers drank, they opened their packs, took out bread and butter and spread the butter on the bread. Then they handed the bread to the boys who were sitting in the corner watching them with fear. The boys were very hungary because there was so little food to eat during the war. They were very grateful.

That is not at all how I would have expected German soldiers to treat Ukrainians. From my perspective, I would have expected them to be mean. The perspective of the man at my Talk Lab was that the German soldiers were just men doing their jobs, following orders and extending some kindness when they could.

It is funny how two people can think about history, remember an event, talk about an experience very differently – all because we see things through our own perspectives. I guess that is what makes each of us so unique!

Below is a photo of my Talk Lab.