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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 have those, so it's refreshing when you come across some that do. So, it was on Brandi lane where I discovered a type of maple tree that still has not lost its leaves. That is very unusual for deciduous trees here; they are all bare now because of the cold, but not these. I am aching to find out what their names are, because they stand out and look fabulous. It was a joy to run past them, and under them, with their masses of red and pink leaves hanging overhead, glowing in the sun. Whoever planted these along the road either knew how they would add to the beauty of the neighborhood, or that person simply got lucky. Either way, until all their leaves fall and they become bare, Brandi lane will be a road that I jog through quite happily.
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. I noticed that on the way up, there were signs of closure of certain areas. This happens every now and then, so the plant and animal life can be undisturbed for a while and recuperate(3) from the busy hiking season of summer. The local school district has regular trips for school children up Saddlerock. It's considered a 'field trip', or an excursion. It's a great way to get out of the class, away from books and computer screens, and to exercise out in nature, and learn at the same time. Often the school children will do a unit of study on the local, natural environment, perhaps learning about the type of rock and soil, or a subject like erosion. Then, they will participate in their field trip and see a real life example of what they have just studied. It really validates what they have learned in the classroom. And then there are other groups who will hike up there too. A physical therapy patient I was working with, told me that his boss has been trying to get all of his employees fit, so they can stay healthy and not miss work. He created an incentive for them to hike up Saddle rock 10 times: those who chose to do it would get a $500 bicycle from him. What a clever idea! The hiking gets people in shape, and the cycling maintains their health. Everybody wins! I will certainly keep hiking up Saddle rock until the bad weather gets here, and hopefully I will be able to do it alone and at peace. 1. 'Slip and slide' we tend to put these two similar verbs together to emphasize the sense of losing your footing and your balance. a. I got out of my car and slipped and slid on the thin ice. b. Be cautious coming down the mountain and wear good shoes, otherwise you will slip and slide all the way down. 2. 'Uphill / downhill' these are obvious words to use when talking about hiking. They are often used figuratively. a. Biking downhill is easy, but remember to use the brakes! b. That class was an uphill struggle for me; I had to really focus and study so I wouldn't feel lost. 3. 'Recuperate' is a great verb that means 'to get better', or 'to return to normal health/ strength.' a. If she rests adequately and takes her medicine, she should recuperate from her accident. b. Sleep is a key to help us recuperate from illnesses, exercise, stress, and surgery.
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 included: getting her up, toileted, washed, dressed, lifted into her wheelchair, fed, and back to bed. We worked on a tight schedule(1). Another thing that we had to do was reposition her in bed every two hours. This is essential for patients who cannot move themselves because if they don't change position, their circulation will get cut off at certain points of their bodies, which could lead to infection and death. Another thing that we had to think about all of the time was infection control, keeping germs away from our patients and ourselves. So, needless to say(2), we were busy all day. It was exhausting but really rewarding because J was quite a character. She understood that we were there for her, and appreciated our help, but she was also very upfront, and quick to be sarcastic. I loved that! It's hard to sum up all of the learning experiences that you get in a clinical like ours. We had such close contact and communication with not only our patient, but also with many of the others who were in the longterm care ward. I actually feel privileged to have been there with these wonderful, fragile people. They each had so many stories to tell, but sadly most of them could either no longer speak or remember. So what now? I finished the course, but I still have to take the state exams in order to be registered as a nurse's assistant. Then, who knows? I definitely would like to work for a while in this capacity(3). It could very well lead to nursing, but as yet I'm not sure. Even if it doesn't, it was one of the most valuable courses I have taken, and has opened up a whole new area of human experience to me. 1. 'On a tight schedule' means that you have a lot to do in a given, limited amount of time. a. We need to feed all of the patients between 12 and 1pm; we're on a tight schedule. b. The builders of the cabin are on a tight schedule because it will snow soon. 2. 'Needless to say' is like saying 'this extra comment is obvious because of the context I have already given.' a. The dog got out, and needless to say, it chased the neighbor's cat. b. He was the most punctual and hardworking worker, needless to say, he was awarded 'employee of the month.' 3. 'Capacity' can mean one of three things: the potential for storage, a position/job, or an ability. a. The cinema was filled to capacity. b. He has the capacity to be a great doctor. c. She volunteered in her capacity as an interpreter, and really helped the project.
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 birds started to turn up. It was odd; as soon as she walked into the kitchen, three Goldfinches appeared and clung to(2) the feeder. We watched in amazement at their sudden appearance and their brightly colored feathers. Then as soon as she left, they did! She must be the Goldfinch woman.... Since that day, we have had a daily flock of them, mainly juveniles; they are so small! It's very satisfying to watch them. Not only are they beautiful, but they are so energetic and feisty! There is always a pecking order(3) in each crowd; someone always has to be the boss! This little bird only grows to about 5 inches long, with a wingspan of 8. It's unusual in that it molts twice a year, gaining new, bright yellow feathers just before the mating season, and again before Autumn. It only eats seeds, and loves sunflowers and thistles in particular. Thankfully, humans don't bother the birds. In fact, they are quite happy with us. Many eat and live in backyards, and also in cleared forests that have become fields, as they like open spaces. So what we have with the Goldfinch is a lovely, beneficial relationship. 1. 'To be adamant that + subjunctive' means to insist on something. a. They are adamant that their daughter break up with her boyfriend. b. The teacher is adamant that all her students read one book a week. 2. 'Clung' is the past of 'to cling' which means to hang on for dear life! a. I'm right here; you don't have to cling on to me! b. The cat clung on to the top of the curtain while the dogs barked at it underneath. 3. 'A pecking order' means a ranking, someone at the top who is most 'important' and then a descending order of others. a. The lion is the top of the pecking order in a pride. b. He would like to determine who is at the top of the office pecking order, but he doesn't have the authority.
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 get a job. That will be my next goal: to get a job. It's not the easiest job in the world at all; you have to be tough. But as I am a tough Brit, I think it will suit me. There are lots of people in retirement homes in this area who need good, kind care. My parents are elderly now, and I think that if I were(2) not available to help them, I would want them to have the best, efficient, and kind people to look after them. The course was taught by an excellent teacher called Tina. She has been a nurse for over 20 years, and has such insight into the job! I liked many things about the course. Firstly, getting to know the body on a level that I was unfamiliar with was very exciting. I don't have a science background, and I had never taken the time (3)to learn anything about anatomy. So, a new world opened up to me. Then came the practical application of the nursing process: observing patients, diagnosing problems, and forming a plan. Again, very exciting stuff. It's a tremendous responsibility to do these things with weak, ill people. They are so vulnerable. And then, at the end of the course, Tina worked her teaching magic, and made the knowledge we had gained very personal. We had to do a project, imagining ourselves as 87years old, living in a retirement center, and dealing with normal age related body changes. It was the perfect way to end the course, by developing empathy and understanding of patients. I will let you know if I get a job; I'm sure that will be quite an adventure. 1. 'That is..' is a little phrase that shows that we are going to restate something, or add pertinent detail, or a condition. a. I will find out what his plans are, that is, if he ever calls me! b. Economies should open up in a couple of months, that is, if everyone social distances in the mean time. 2. 'If I were not available to help them, I would want them to have the best.' This is subjunctive, right? Let's see some more: a. If they wore masks (if they were to wear masks), they would be safer. b. If he spoke that way to my mother, I would give him a piece of my mind! 3. 'To take the time + infinitive'. This idiomatic phrase is self-explanatory. You have spent some time deliberately doing something: studying, planning, thinking etc. a. Why don't you take the time to read that book; I think you'll find it worthwhile. b. We took the time to get to know our new neighbors. I'm so glad that we did. They are now our best friends!
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 move inside as the rain was falling sideways on us, and we got the impression that debris could easily cause an accident. We needed to get out of the way, and into safety. So, we sat inside, next to a wall of windows, looking out onto the hillside. At one point, the scene looked as if we were underwater, the trees and grass waving and shuddering as if ocean waves were overhead pulling at them. After a couple of hours, the storm finished, it had grown dark, and we left. The next morning we were going to Seattle to pick up our oldest son from university, so we got ready to leave. As is my morning routine, I drank my coffee while looking out of the back window into our large garden. I noticed that there were a lot of green leaves from one of the trees all over the grass. That wasn't normal. And as I looked around I was surprised at how bright it was on our north facing deck. And then I saw it. One of our thirty foot trees was completely missing! I ran outside, and there it was, down on the lawn, snapped at the roots, without having caused any damage at all. I was shocked, and impressed! It was an Aspen, which has masses of round leaves that quiver in the wind. It had been dying back for a couple of years; I think this altitude and climate don't suit them actually. They are native to high, cold, dry mountains. My husband and I walked around the fallen tree, amazed at how perfectly it had fallen. "Well," said Tom, "at least that's one tree that I don't have to cut down," he smiled. Ours wasn't the only tree in town that had been blown over; there were many. And for the next few days, workmen all over Wenatchee were busy, cutting up trunks and branches, and hauling everything away. The hole where the roots had snapped has not been filled in yet. In fact, when I first found the tree down, I reached in the hole to examine the roots, many of which were rotten; they easily broke just like cork. I thought it quite symbolic of events that are taking place in the world at the moment. If something has rotten foundations, it is just a matter of time until it falls. And its when a particularly strong wind comes, that it will happen. 1. 'Notorious' means 'known for', it has a connotation of evil or bad character. a. He was notorious for exaggeration; you could never believe everything he said. b. The park is notorious for night time drug deals and other illegal activity. 2. 'The latter' means 'the last mentioned'. It is often used in a sentence with 'the former' (meaning the first mentioned). a. At the crime scene three people were found: the butler, the cook, and the gardener, the latter being highly suspected of criminal activity. b. She has a cat and a snake, the latter being the easiest to take care of. 3. 'To plummet', 'to pound', 'to thrash'. These three verbs are action verbs which denote violence and speed. 'To plummet' really means to fall extremely
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Short,sweet,nice review of vocabulary