Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Spring Break

Monday, May 4th, 2009

This week (March 16 through March 22) is Spring Break1 for both the college and schools2 here in Pella.  What are people doing with their free time?  I find the answer to this question quite interesting.  Most of the ones I know are not taking the trips to exotic3 beaches and islands like those which are shown in movies or on TV.  Instead, they are doing work of some type. 


My daughter Kim works for the Pella public schools so she has the week off4.  Today she has worked very hard catching up on5 doing laundry, taking cans to the recycling center6, sorting through7 books that we plan to donate to the public library, and also sorting through older clothing, which we plan to donate to the Goodwill Industries8 for use by people who have very little money.  Tomorrow we will take them to the big donation center in Des Moines.  When some of Kim’s friends heard that we plan to go there tomorrow, they asked if we would take some things for them, so we aren’t the only people collecting things to donate.  Another one of Kim’s friends, who is a teacher of Spanish language at the college, is working on writing his dissertation9 this break.  He told another friend that he would like to go bicycle riding today, but she told him he should stay home and write.  If he does that, he can go out for Mexican food at the Mexican restaurant here this evening.  Otherwise he should stay home. 


Speaking of going out to ethnic10 restaurants, Kim and I will meet some friends at a really nice Japanese restaurant in Des Moines tomorrow evening.  I am really looking forward to it because I like Japanese food very much and none is available here in Pella.  I especially like shrimp and vegetable tempura11, and I haven’t had any for a long time. 


Another person I know is taking a test for the first stage of getting her driver’s license today.  She has to take a written test first and then she will be allowed to be instructed.  I hope all has gone well for her.  She is being taught the actual driving by another professor who is staying in town for Spring Break.  This is a good time for learning such things, I guess.  The college parking lot is about a block away from us behind our house, and a young man is obviously learning to ride a motorcycle out there this afternoon.  I believe that someone else is taking instructions today.  Our local airport is about a mile from where we live, and someone must be taking a flying lesson this afternoon, as a small plane keeps taking off, circling the area, and landing again.  Obviously Spring Break is a very good time for special lessons. 


Do I know anyone who is traveling to another country this week?  Well, yes, I do.  Fifteen members of the church that Don and I attend have gone to Haiti to do some volunteer work.  Haiti is a very poor nation, so these volunteers have gone there to help build houses and also a school.  They also took large bags of rice to give to some of the poorest people.  This is a very good type of volunteer work, I believe.  Most of the people who went there are either teachers or have the type of jobs where they could take time off this week.  I’ll write another blog about some of the popular types of volunteerism at a later time.  Meanwhile, I just want to remind you that despite the stereotype12 given you by Hollywood, Spring Break is probably quite the contrary for most people.


1. Spring Break: a period of time, usually a few days about halfway through the semester when there are no classes in U.S. (春假).
2. schools: a collective term for both public and private elementary and secondary
schools in a given area (中小学,包括当地的公立和私立学校).
3. exotic: referring to unusual, usually attractive places one may wish to visit (奇异的,异乎寻常的)..
4. off: not at work (休息)
5. catching up on: doing necessary tasks which have been delayed or put off from before because of the lack of time, or from other interests (把积压的……做完).
6. recycling center: a place where waste items such as paper, metal, etc. can be returned for reuse of materials (废物回收利用中心).
7. sorting through: examining items, such as books or clothing to see whether one wishes to keep them or to give them away (查找,翻检).
8. Goodwill Industries: a charitable organization which collects used, but still usable clothing for redistribution or sale to economically poor people (慈善业,慈善组织).
9. dissertation: a written report required to meet the goal of an advanced degree such as a Master’s degree, or a PhD degree from a university (博士或硕士论文).
10. ethnic: a specific cultural or racial group with specific differences from other groups, i.e. Spanish, Chinese, Mexican, etc. (种族的,民族的).
11. tempura: a Japanese food in which vegetables, shrimp, or other food items are coated in a batter and deep fried to form a thin crust on the item as it is cooked (面拖油炸食品,一种日本食物,有蔬菜,虾等).
12. stereotype: a belief or idea of what a particular type of person or thing is like (模式化的思想).


Spring Forward, Fall Back[1]

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Each spring and each fall of the year we hear people repeat this quotation2.  It is especially true on the TV news, as the commentators3 are trying to remind the listening audience4 to change the time on their clocks on a Saturday night early in April or a late in October.  In the spring we move our clocks ahead an hour5, and in the fall the reverse6 is true. 


The period during the spring and summer when we have changed our clocks ahead is referred to7 as Daylight Saving Time8 because we believe that we have more daylight hours in which to enjoy outdoor activities and we believe that we use less electricity during this time.  In fact, it was established during the World War II. as a way to economize9 on the use of electricity.  After the war ended, the nation went back to what is know as “Standard10 time and since then has gone back and forth.


There are mixed feelings11 about changing the time as we do.  When I first moved to Iowa, the U.S. congress decided to institute12 it again.  I was quite amused by the attitude of some of the farmers in our area.  They were against Daylight Saving time, saying that their cows probably wouldn’t produce milk13 if the time were changed.  Of course, this didn’t prove to be so at all, but the arguments continued.  Last week there were articles in the newspapers telling us that the change in time forward really isn’t energy saving14 after all because during the long warm afternoons we use our air conditioners more.  I must admit that our electricity bill15 shows this is true for us.  Still, we enjoy having the extra16 daylight hour during the summer evenings.  When autumn (fall) comes and we set our clocks back to the standard time, we will complain about the dark evenings and wish for that extra hour of daylight that we are enjoying now.


The U.S. has five major time zones17, Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific and Alaskan.  Our state of Iowa is in the Central zone.  The time zones were established in the 1880’s when the government saw a need for standardizing18 time for the railroads as the trains traveled across the country.  Most citizens have been content with the time zones, whether they like the Daylight Saving Time or not. 


Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for our bodies to get used to19 the one hour change.  We “Sprang forward.20  We changed our clocks three nights ago and I think I’m ok with it by now.   However, I haven’t heard about the cows at the nearby farms.



1. Spring Forward, Fall Back: 这是用来帮助人们记住夏时制如何拨钟的,即春天往前拨,秋天往后拨。
2. quotation: a series of words commonly recognized (引文,引语).
3. commentators: persons presenting and making remarks about the TV news items (解说员,指在电视、电台做实况报道的人员).
4. audience: a group of people listening or observing an activity (听众,观众).
5. move our clocks ahead an hour: move the hands of a timepiece one hour beyond the present hour indicated (把钟拨快一小时).
6. the reverse: the exact opposite of what has just been mentioned (相反的状况). It means “in fall we move our clock  back an hour”. 
7. referred to: called or named (称作).
8. Daylight Saving Time: period of the year during which the time on clocks is advanced one hour (夏时制,日光节约时制).
9. economize: reduce cost or expenses (节省).
10. Standard time: the portion of the year when clocks are turned back one hour after Daylight Saving Time ends (标准时间).
11. mixed feelings: of varied opinions or emotions (忧喜参半,不同的心情).
12. institute: establish, or put into effect (设立,启动).
13. wouldn’t produce milk: would fail to make milk because of the change in their daily routine (不产奶).
14. energy saving: causing a reduction in the use of electrical energy (节约能源).
15. electricity bill: the printed charges for electrical use given to a consumer by the provider of the electricity (电费单).
16. extra: additional or added to (额外的).
17. time zones: horizontal bands within geographical areas, each band having the same hour for time of day (时区).
18. standardizing: making the same; or of the same time or other measurements (使标准化).
19. get used to: becoming accustomed or habituated to a given schedule or time (习惯于).
20. “sprang forward”: “Spring”既可以表示“春天”也可以作动词表示“跳跃”,作者表示(我们)已经提前拨钟了。

April Fool’s Day

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Wednesday of last week was April Fools Day1. This is not an official holiday2 and its origin is obscure3.  One possible theory4 is that it was first celebrated after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar5; and the term referred to someone still following the Julian Calendar6, thus an “April Fool.” In many pre-Christian7 cultures May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, the time to start spring planting8.  Those who did this prematurely9 in April were called April Fools, and ridiculed10 by their neighbors. Still another theory is that April 1 was once counted the first day of the year in France.  When King Charles IX changed that to January 1 in keeping with most other countries, some people kept using April 1, and those who did were called “April Fools.”   Whatever the origin, the term April Fools Day seems to have originated11 in Europe, and with many immigrants12 coming to the U.S. from this part of the world, it became widely used.


We couldn’t help thinking about how things have changed on April 1st since we were young.  Don says that he and his brothers would put a bill fold13 out on the sidewalk, with a string tied to it.  When someone came along and started to pick it up they would yank14 the string out of reach15, and, of course, the billfold would disappear.  We would all play tricks16 on each other when we were on the school ground and then yell, “April Fool!”


One way that things have changed is in the recognition17 that it is now the computer generation, and people everywhere were fearful of a computer worm18 that was supposed to infect19 our computers on April 1st.  I had friends who wouldn’t use their computer that day, but we decided that our virus protection20 would be effective, and that seems to be the case as we used it and all seems ok.  At least there weren’t any computers to play tricks with when we were young.


My older brother had a favorite trick he would play on us.  Because it usually was somewhat cold on that day, he would say, “Let me help you put on21 your coat.”  If you forgot which day it was, he would hold your coat up, stick his fist in the sleeve22, and hit your face, while yelling, “April Fool!”  My younger brothers and I kept “biting23” on this trick, time after time. 


A friend of ours has a birthday tomorrow (April 4th).  We’ll have cake, coffee, tea, and a few snacks24 at the home of another friend.  Last year his daughter held a party for him in Des Moines25 and the weather was terrible; I’m glad that this party is supposed to be in Pella26 because we’re supposed to have bad weather again.  We usually think that it would be a good joke if we skipped27 the treats, but I’m sure that won’t happen.


Anyway, we’ll all mention April Fools Day one way or another and reminisce28 about the terrible way we all felt at his party many years ago when we heard that Martin Luther King Jr.29 had been shot.  We’ll hope for no bad news of any type this year. 


1. April Fools Day: the first day of the month of April (愚人节).
2.  official holiday: a day of celebration recognized by the government, and most government offices, banks, etc. are closed for the day (法定节假日).
3. obscure: not well established; unclear (不明确的,模糊的).
4. theory: an explanation based on some sort of factual basis (说法).
5. Gregorian Calendar: a revision of the calendar, carried out during the time of Pope Gregory (1582) of the Roman Catholic Church with the same length of year as the present time (公历,又称格雷果里历).
6. Julian Calendar: an older version of the calendar carried out in Rome in 46 B.C. which established a year of 12 months, 365 days, with each fourth year having 366 (罗马儒略历,一种老的公历).
7. pre-Christian: occurring prior to the birth of Christ, usually denoted as B.C. (公元前).
8. spring planting: the time following winter when flowers, vegetables, etc. are planted (春播).
9. prematurely: too early in the average year for successful gardening (为时过早地).
10. ridiculed:  made fun of, or teased (被取笑).
11. originated: begun or started (起源于).
12. immigrants: people who have arrived from another country (移民).
13. bill fold: a rather flat leather carrier for paper money and credentials (票据夹).
14. yank: quickly pull away, vigorously removed (用力猛拉).
15. out of reach: beyond the ability to grasp or understand (拿不到).
16. tricks: small jokes, or humorous entertainment (捉弄,恶作剧).
17. recognition: understanding, or observing (承认,认可).
18. computer worm: an infectious, intentional mistake in a computer program which causes further errors to appear; often of a harmful nature (计算机蠕虫病毒).
19. infect: initiate a problem or cause a disease; initially a medical term (感染).
20. virus protection: a computer program which protects against infection by a computer virus or other related computer problem (病毒保护).
21. put on: place a piece of clothing or other item onto the body of a person (穿上).
22. stick his fist in the sleeve: place his hand in the sleeve of a coat or jacket (and then strike your face) (从袖子里伸出拳头).
23. biting: being fooled by a trick, joke or jest (上当,受骗).
24. snacks: small food items usually eaten between meals (点心).
25. Des Moines: the capital city of the state of Iowa in the U.S. (德梅因,美国爱荷华州的首府).
26. Pella: a town in south central Iowa (派拉,爱荷华州中南部一个小城镇).
27. skipped: omitted or avoided, or absented (不吃,略过).
28. reminisce: recall or remember something or some idea (回忆).
29. Martin Luther King, Jr.: a well known equal rights activist of the 1960s in the U.S. (马丁•路德金,美国六十年代著名的黑人民权领袖).

Mother’s Day

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Another Mother’s Day1 has come and gone.  I received some lovely cards from my husband Don, children, granddaughter, a friend, and my Chinese daughter for the year, Yuan Jing.  I truly2 appreciated3 the cards and a phone call from our Ethiopian “daughter”: Yewoubdar4.  It’s nice to be thought of by lovely people.


I read in the paper5 on Mother’s Day that people spend more money on Mother’s Day gifts than on Father’s Day gifts.  The article didn’t say why, but I think it’s because many children who don’t live close to their mothers send flowers.  I received some beautiful flowers from our son Jim and I am sure they were quite expensive6.  I appreciate them, even though they make me sneeze7.  He certainly won’t send flowers to his dad.  That’s not the masculine thing8.  Besides, Don would prefer a good book any time.  Actually, so would I, but Jim had given me a gift certificate9 for books for Christmas, so I guess he thought he should do something else for Mother’s Day.


On Sunday night we had pizza10 and played Sequence11.  That was also a “farewell” meal12 for Yuan Jing, who left to return to China early the next morning.  She has learned to like pizza very much this year.  When she arrived last fall she told us she didn’t really like pizza, so Kim told her that was because she hadn’t eaten really good pizza.  Now that Jing has had really good pizza she likes it!  We all do too. 


Father’s Day will be in June.  Kathy Li (our Chinese “granddaughter”) and I will probably grill hamburgers for Don that day.  I hope we will be in Idaho then to enjoy them out on our deck13 with its beautiful view of meadows14 and mountains.

1. Mother’s Day: the second Sunday in May in the U.S., a day in which mothers are honored.
2. truly: really, actually so.
3. appreciated: cherished, treasured, well regarded by someone, enjoyed (喜爱、赞赏).
4. Yewoubdar: the given name of Dr. Yewoubdar Beyene, a medical anthropologist, who is one of our “daughters” of our extended family.
5. paper: newspaper
6. expensive: costing a lot of money; not low priced (贵).
7. sneeze:打喷嚏
8. “That’s not the masculine thing.”: sentence meaning that some particular act or gift is not appropriate for a man (那不是该给男人的东西).
9. gift certificate:礼品卷
10. pizza (比萨饼): an open pie, made typically of flattened bread dough and covered with a sauce of tomatoes and cheese, and often with other vegetables and meat, and baked until ready to serve.
11. Sequence: a combination of board and card game featuring strategy on the part of the players (一种纸牌和棋盘相结合的游戏).
12. farewell meal: a meal prepared for someone who is leaving (告别饭).
13. deck: 一种与房子相连的户外木质平台.
14. meadows: grassland, often with wildflowers, and usually not cultivated.



Leap Year Day

Friday, March 13th, 2009

This year, 2008, is a leap year1, and this past Friday, February 29, was a leap year day.  Although we celebrate many holidays in the U.S., a leap year day is not one of them.  Of course the 29th is shown on our calendars2, and as I look at the calendar, it is obvious3 that February is an unusual month this year because there are five Fridays.  The month began on a Friday and ended on a Friday.  The most recent year in which February had five Fridays was 1980.  The next occurrence4 will be in 2036. 


What is a leap year?  It is a year consisting of 366 days instead of the usual 365.  It is necessary because of the Gregorian calendar5, the calendar used by most modern countries.  According to the Gregorian calendar, three criteria determine which years will be leap years:  (1) Each year that is divisible by four is a leap year.  (2) Of those years, if it can be divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year unless (3) the year is divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year. 


Why are leap years needed?  They are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with6 the earth’s revolutions7 around the sun.  Using a calendar with 365 days every year would result in a loss of 0.2422 days, or almost six hours per year.  After 100 years, this calendar would be more than 24 days ahead of the season.  No calendar is perfect but the Gregorian calendar works fairly well.  It was first adopted in Italy, Portugal and Spain in 1582.  It wasn’t adopted in the U.S. and Great Britain until 1752. 


In the U.S. our big association8 with leap year is the fact that it is the year when we have our presidential elections.  Consequently9, we will be voting for our new president in November of this year. Meanwhile we all will be associating leap year with many political speeches etc.  People born on the leap year day must decide which day (February 28 or March 1) to celebrate their birthday.  Meanwhile, they’ll hear many jokes about their age and how many birthdays they’ve really had.  On both Friday and Saturday, a number of people born on February 29 were interviewed on TV news programs.  They were asked questions as to their feelings about their birthday, how and when they celebrate, etc.  One elderly gentleman said that he loves to tell people that this year he’s celebrating his 20th birthday and then note the looks of surprise that he receives.


There is one special folk tradition10 associated with leap year.  This many-centuries-old tradition is that during the year a woman should feel free to propose to the gentleman she would like to marry, usually her boy friend.  There have even been special parties on leap day to which women do the inviting.  In some places leap day was known as “Bachelors’Day11.”  A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on that day. 


One small town, Perry12, in our state of Iowa has an amusing tradition associated with leap day.  Since the year of 1952 Perry residents have used the day as a time to have fun and to raise money for different charities that are important to the ladies of the community.  Women are put in charge of town for the day.  Men are arrested13 on a variety of made-up charges14 and assessed fines15 in order to stay out of jail.  The fines they pay benefit local charities16, such as nursing homes, the hospital etc.  Men were fined as little as $20.00 or as much as $100.00.  One man, who was caught dressed as a woman in order not to be “arrested” was fined $100.00 for the offense that he was “too ugly to be a woman.  As one can imagine, this tradition is the source of a great deal of fun and camaraderie17 for the Perry residents.




1. Leap year The name given to a year having 366 days instead of 365 (闰年).   

2. Calendars: 日历

3. obvious: easy to notice or understand (显然的,明显的). 

4. occurrence: the fact of something happening (出现,发生).

5. Gregorian calendar The name given to the calendar used by most of the western world (格里高利历,公历,阳历).  It was introduced during the year 1582 and replaced the Julian calendar.  The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Gregory XIII introduced this calendar and had the power to see that it was adopted and used in Europe.  The Julian calendar had been introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and patterned after the Roman calendar.

6. in alignment with: 与……一致

7. revolutions: circular movements around something (旋转).

8. association: a relationship with a particular person, organization, group etc. (与……的联系/关系).

9. Consequently: as a result (因此,结果)

10. Folk tradition commonly held beliefs and/or practices held by the general public over a long period of time (民间传统).

11. Bachelors Day:单身汉节

  Most people in the western countries have believed that a man remains a bachelor by choice, but that a woman remains unmarried because no man ever proposes to her.  “Bachelors’ Day” supposedly gives an unmarried woman a chance to be the one to propose, thus greatly improving her chances to be married. 

12. Perry, Iowa a small town located in central rural Iowa (派瑞,位于爱荷华州中部的一个小镇).  It, like many other small towns in the state, has different folk traditions, special days etc. that provide the citizens of the town with entertainment and a sense of solidarity.  Perry’s leap day activities have obviously been successful with the townspeople for over fifty years.

13. arrested: taken or kept in custody by authority of the law (被逮捕).  In the case of the Perry leap day tradition, the men are jokingly arrested by the women who have taken over the jobs of policemen, judges etc. for the day. 

14. made-up charges: not true or real statement saying that someone may be guilty of a crime (捏造的指控)

15. fines: money imposed as punishment for an offense (罚款).  The fines paid by the Perry men are used to support local charities that the women want to have supported.


16. local charities: organizations that give money, goods, or help to people who are poor, sick etc. (慈善机构). Most communities in the U.S. have organizations that the citizens contribute to because these organizations benefit the citizens in different ways. Some money is contributed to them directly, while often other ways are found to get people to pay money that will be contributed.  Some charities provide health care, while others provide such things as hot meals for the elderly or house-bound people and still others help with such things as after-school activities for the children of the community.  There are literally hundreds of charities to be found in each state. 

17. camaraderie: a feeling of friendship that a group of people have (同志情谊).




St. Patrick’s Day

Friday, March 13th, 2009

March 17th,  is St. Patrick’s Day, a day important to people of Irish descent1.  Thousands of Irish immigrants2 came to the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries when there was widespread famine3 and starvation4 in their native land of Ireland.  Many of them settled in New York, Boston and other large East coast cities but also a number of them came to the Midwest5 including Iowa.


Ireland is often referred to as the “Emerald Isle6 because of its rich, bright green pastures7 and grasslands, so the Irish identify with the color green.  Therefore, one will see many people, even non-Irish, wearing green clothing in recognition8 of the day. The weather on St. Patrick’s Day was bad a year ago and it was too rainy for a parade.  Chicago also had a beautiful day too, so people could watch a parade there, and also walk along the Chicago Canal9 and look at the water which was a bright green color from green dye10 which had been added for the day.  People might even stop in at a donut shop11 for a green frosted12 donut and a glass of green milk, both special for that day. This year the weather in Iowa was lovely, so there was a long and colorful parade in Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines. Kim and I went to Des Moines to leave some cast-off clothing at the Goodwill Center13 there.  As we drove up the very busy 86th St. we heard some loud music coming from a large tent, and we saw many green-clad14 people eating, drinking and celebrating.  They likely would remain there drinking green beer late into the evening.  Instead of snacking15 there, we went on a bit to a Japanese restaurant where we had a delicious meal in quiet comfort.  Instead of Irish drinks, we had Japanese drinks.


Don has been in China the past few days and missed St. Patrick’s Day, so he missed the traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage16.  I’ll fix this delicacy for him when he returns because he likes it very much.


Saint Patrick17 was an early Roman Catholic Church18 leader in Ireland.  A legend19 associated with him is that he chased all of the snakes out of Ireland.  That is the early Irish explanation of why there are no snakes now native to the country. 


St. Patrick’s Day is not a legal holiday.  In other words, banks, the post office etc. are all open and people are working there.  However, the Irish like to have a parade20 on that day in which they march21 through the city streets playing Irish music on traditional instruments.  The biggest parade is always held in New York City, but many smaller cities have them too.  Our capital city of Des Moines is scheduled to have a parade this noon, though it will probably be a wet one since it is raining.  Not many people will want to stand outside to watch it.  The city of Chicago, which has many Irish citizens, has a large parade too, but in addition, the city officials pour a harmless green dye into the canal that runs through the city, which turns the water green for the day.  Some taverns22 also color the beer that they serve green that day. 


There is a traditional meal that most people associate with St. Patrick’s Day.  It is called “corned beef and cabbage.”  Corned beef is a special cut of beef that is preserved and seasoned with a large amount of salt and pepper.  Cabbage was easily grown in Ireland, as were potatoes, so these items are all cooked together.  I fixed that meal Saturday night and invited this year’s Chinese teacher from Zhejiang University to eat it with us.  She liked it very much and even took some leftover meat home with her. 


Last night our long time potluck group23 got together at a friend’s house.  The hostess always prepares the meat and sometimes an accompanying vegetable.  Of course, she fixed corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes, so Don and I happily ate that meal again.  I still have some meat and vegetables left so plan to make soup with them this evening.  With our cold and rainy weather today, it’s a perfect day for hot soup.  Thus we will complete our celebration of the day.  Don has some Irish ancestry24 on his mother’s side of the family; I have none, but I enjoy our simple celebration of the day anyway. 




1. Irish  descent:  an ancestral line which developed from the Irish (people of Ireland, a country of the British Isles) (爱尔兰血统、世系).  The people of the ancestral line share certain characteristics, both physical and cultural. 
2. immigrants:  people who have moved from one country to another, with the purpose of living there indefinitely and making it their home (移民).  In this case, the people from Ireland planned to make the United States their home. 
3. famine: an extreme lack of food on a widespread basis, resulting in  death by starvation for a large number of the inhabitants living in the area (饥荒). 
4. starvation:  death due to lack of food (饥饿,饿死).
5. the Midwest:中西部
6. “Emerald  Isle”: a name often  casually given to Ireland because of the green beauty of its vegetation, looking not unlike the green beauty of the gem known as an emerald (绿宝石岛,爱尔兰的别称). 
7. pastures: grasslands used for the grazing (i.e. feeding) of animals such as cattle (牧场). 
8. recognition: an acknowledgement calling attention to the importance of a person or thing, in 
      this case, the importance of the color green for the Irish (认可,指对绿色的重要性的认可). 
9. Chicago Canal: a waterway connecting Lake Michigan and the Illinois River in the city of Chicago, Illinois (芝加哥运河).
10. green dye: a chemical mixture which causes water to turn to a green color (绿色染料).
11. donut shop: a small store which specialized in making and selling donuts (炸面圈店).
12. green frosted: covered with green covered sugary frosting (覆盖了绿色糖霜的).
13. Goodwill Center: a shop operated by a charitable organization making available used clothing items to customers (善意中心店,由慈善机构开设的商店,顾客在那里能得到旧衣物).
14. green-clad: wearing green clothing (穿绿衣服的).
15. snacking: eating small food items, but not as part of a main meal of the day (吃点心).
16. corned beef and cabbage: a meal consisting mainly of a specially seasoned beef and cabbage cooked, usually with potatoes, carrots and onions (专门调过味的牛肉与卷心菜,土豆,胡萝卜,洋葱等一起煮的一道菜).
17. Saint Patrick: an early Christian missionary who traveled to Ireland and converted many of its inhabitants to Christianity (一位早期的基督教传教士,曾经到过爱尔兰使很多当地居民皈依基督教).
18. Roman Catholic Church: a Christian church having a hierarchy of priests and bishops led by a special one known as the Pope (罗马天主教教会,上面有教皇领导,然后设有主教,牧师或神父).  Special priests etc. are sometimes designated as “saints” because of their virtue.  The special Catholic church service is known as a mass.
19. legend: a story coming down from the past, especially one regarded as historical although not verifiable (传说).  There are many legends about Saint Patrick.
20. parade: a public procession, often associated with a holiday or other special event (庆祝游行). 
21. march: to move along steadily with a rhythmic stride and in step with others (游行队伍行进). 
22. taverns: pubs where alcohol can be bought and drunk, and where meals are often served (酒馆,酒吧)
23. potluck group: a group of individuals who get together for a meal, each individual or family bringing a special item of food to be shared by the whole group  (自带饭菜聚餐的一群人). 
24. Don has some Irish ancestry on his mother’s side of the family: Don’s ancestors, great grandparents on his mother’s side, immigrated to the United States from Ireland; thus he shares some of the genetic characteristics of the Irish (当的母亲这边的曾祖父母是从爱尔兰移民到美国的,因此他继承了一些爱尔兰人的特征).






Another Thanksgiving

Friday, March 13th, 2009

We celebrated Thanksgiving Day1 a few days ago in a typical way2.  We prepared a big traditional3 dinner and invited both family and friends.  In all there were eleven of us to enjoy the meal of turkey4, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberry salad5, bread rolls6, and several kinds of pies7 (pumpkin, pecan8 and chocolate).  Turkey, potatoes, corn and cranberries are all common at Thanksgiving because they were the “new world9 foods that according to tradition were part of the first Thanksgiving prepared and enjoyed by the European settlers10and Native Americans11.  Pumpkin12 is also a “new world” food item.


Our daughter Kim did most of the preparation this year.  We told our son Jim to bring the pies, but she did most of the rest.  Our friend Mary brought a fruit salad also.  She makes delicious fruit salads so we were happy when she volunteered to bring one.  We had also invited two new friends, Song Bo from China and Corinna from Romania, to have the meal with us.  They decided to bake a pie that morning as a kind of experiment13 and it turned out to be truly delicious14.  It was a combination of pumpkin and pecan. 


We all ate a lot of the delicious food and felt truly thankful115 for the friends and relatives that we could share it with.  We had plenty so we sent a meal to an elderly friend16 who couldn’t come, and also we gave food to any of the people who wanted to take a few “leftovers17 home with them.  As many of us say, “leftovers” are truly great to have.  We have a friend in San Francisco who always prepares a “leftover” meal on the Monday after Thanksgiving for the people with whom she works.  She says they look forward to it and would be terribly disappointed if she didn’t have plenty of food left for them, so she always is sure to cook extra.  With our turkey “leftovers” Kim made turkey soup yesterday, which Don is looking forward to having for lunch today. 


After most of the people left on Thursday, Don, Kim, Song Bo, Corinna and I played a game of dominos18 called “Mexican Train.19  Song Bo hadn’t played it before, and won, so was quite excited.  Kim always likes to play a game of some sort, so that is usually a part of our Thanksgiving Day.


All in all, we had a great day and are truly thankful that we could celebrate it the way we did, with good food, family, friends and fun!!





1. celebrated Thanksgiving Day: did something enjoyable because of a national holiday in the last Thursday of the last week of November (庆祝感恩节,十一月最后一周的星期四).

2. a typical way:  an ordinary or usual way; a commonly occurring way (通常的方式).

3. traditional: in a usual way; customary from year to year (传统的).

4. turkey: a large, edible bird that is native to North America, and is usually a part of the food served at Thanksgiving dinner (火鸡,原生地为北美洲,通常感恩节的晚餐会吃火鸡).

5. cranberry salad: a salad made from red berries grown in swampy areas, and mixed along with sugar and often other fruit such as pineapple, etc. (越橘色拉,由在湿地生长的一种红色浆果加糖,通常还加其他水果如菠萝等,做成的色拉).

6. bread rolls: bread in the form of a small round or long shape (小园/长面包).

7. pie: fruit baked inside a pastry covering (馅饼,经过烘烤的水果馅面饼).

8. pecan: nuts with a thin smooth shell that grow on trees in Southern US and Central America (山核桃,其壳薄且光滑,生长于美国南部和中美洲).

9. New World: a common way to refer to North America at the time it was settled by people from Europe, and this name has persisted (新大陆,欧洲人移民北美洲时对这块土地的称呼,目前依然适用。).

10. European settlers: people from Europe who came to the New World to live and establish colonies (欧洲移民者).

11. Native Americans: commonly referred to as Indians; the people who were living in North America before the Europeans arrived (土著美洲人,又称作印第安人).  These are tribes of people considered to have originated in Asia and to have migrated to North America by land and/or sea.

12. pumpkin: the usually round, orange fruit of the gourd family which is cultivated as food and was introduced to the settlers by the Indians (南瓜,一种粮食作物,是由印第安人传授给当时的移民).

13. experiment: an attempt to make or do something which has not been done before (尝试,试验).

14. delicious: tasting very good (味道好极了).

15. thankful: appreciative for what is available or prepared (感激).

16. elderly friend: older friend (年长的朋友).

17. leftovers: food from the meal that is set aside to be eaten later (剩余的食物).

18. dominos: 多米诺骨牌(游戏)

19. Mexican Train: the name of a game which is played by using dominos in a specific set of rules (墨西哥火车,一种用多米诺骨牌按照一定的规则玩的游戏).




It’s Time for Pumpkins and Jack-O’-Lanterns

Friday, March 13th, 2009

     As I walk around the Pella area these days, or drive anywhere in the region, there are bright orange pumpkins1 in many yards, in gardens2 large and small, and there are also huge piles of them at every grocery store3 and market.  It reminds me once again that summer is past and another autumn is at hand4.


      Pumpkins, native plants to North and South America, are only one of the types of the fruit found on plants in the gourd5 or melon family (Cucurbitaceae), and they became known to our first settlers who came from Europe to colonize6 in what is now the United States.  The Native Americans, or Indians7 as they are known to us, grew many types of them and valued them for eating, so pumpkins were among the food items which Indians gave to the early colonists8 who faced hunger in the early colonial times.


     Pumpkins are not only tasty9 food, but they have been part of our Halloween10 ritual11 of hollowing out12 the seed-filled center, carving13 faces on the large orange fruits, and often placing a candle14 within the Jack-O’-Lantern and lighting the candle to show the toothy15 smile, frown, eyes, nose and many other artistic designs engraved16 into the surface of the pumpkin.


 Pumpkins as well as many other types of gourds are grown primarily17 for their interesting colors and shapes and are often part of an autumn decoration18 for a front porch, a window, etc.  And, growing them has become so popular that there are local, state, and national contests for the largest pumpkin.  Our Iowa farmers grow many large pumpkins for this type of competition19, and recently we read in the newspapers of a very large pumpkin grown in our area which was a contender20 for the “World’s Biggest Pumpkin” competition. Big pumpkins are given special care, special fertilizers in the soil, and extra water to maximize21 their growth.  The biggest pumpkin in Iowa in 2007 weighed 1,667 pounds and six ounces, but fell just short of the record of 1,683 set a few years ago in Massachusetts22 by about 16 pounds23.  The grower says that he’ll try again next year.


     I do like pumpkin pie22, and as Halloween passes and we approach Thanksgiving Day, I hope I can help eat some of this wonderful dessert that I have eaten for as long as I can remember.



1. pumpkins:南瓜

2. gardens: cultivated areas where plants are grown for food or decoration.

3. grocery store: a commercial establishment selling food and household items (食品杂货店).

4. at hand: near, coming soon (近在手边,即将到来).

5. gourd: 葫芦

6. colonize: establish a settlement or new area (移居于殖民地).

7. Native Americans, or Indians:土著美国人或印第安人

8. colonists:殖民主义者

9. tasty: delicious, good tasting (味道好).

10. Halloween: the night of the 31st of October that is said to be the time when ghosts and witches can be seen (十月三十一日诸圣日前夕,据说这时能够看到鬼巫).

11. ritual: a set of fixed actions performed regularly as part of a ceremony (仪式).

12. hollowing out: making an empty space in the center of a larger object (中间弄空).

13. carving: cutting, usually with a sharp knife (雕刻).

14. candle:蜡烛

15. toothy: having or showing prominent teeth, as in a smile (露齿的).

16. engraved: cut into the surface or the area to be cut; usually with a knife of some sort (刻上,雕上).

17. primarily:主要地,首要地

18. decoration: an attractive item to accompany or beautify some celebration or for special purpose (装饰,装饰品).

19. competition: 比赛,竞赛

20. contender: 竞争者,参赛者

21. maximize: enhance or enable to make greater (使增加到最大程度).

22. Massachusetts: a state in the northeastern part of the U.S. (麻萨诸塞州,位于美国东北部).

23. The biggest pumpkin in Iowa in 2007 weighed 1,667 pounds and six ounces, but fell just short of the record of 1,683 set a few years ago in Massachusetts22 by about 16 pounds.: 2007年爱荷华州最大的南瓜重量为16676两,刚好没有达到记录,距离几年前在麻萨诸塞州创立的1683磅的记录还差16).

24. pumpkin pie: 南瓜馅饼







Labor Day Weekend

Friday, March 13th, 2009

For most people in the U.S., Labor Day1 week end signifies2 the end of summer.  True, there will be more warm, perhaps even hot, days, but those days will be quickly followed by cool days with cool nights; the leaves will start turning3, and my favorite time of the year will have arrived.  Labor Day week end is the last big camping4 week end of the year.  We have a large lake near us, Lake Red Rock5, and its eight camp grounds6 were full for the week end.  In fact, we heard that the camping spots had all been reserved7 in advance. 


My brother and his wife from Indiana8 drove out to see us for the week end.  Busy Interstate 80 runs past just north of where they live so they “braved9 the heavy traffic10 Friday and came.  We were really happy to see them and had a good time talking, laughing etc.


Saturday Don, my sister-in-law and Song Bo, our new Chinese teacher this year, went to see Central11 play football.  I stayed home and visited with my brother12.  Central won by a score of 35 to 10 so it was an exciting first game for Song Bo to see.  In the evening we drove to Des Moines to meet another brother of mine and his wife at an Italian restaurant13.  Again, it was fun with much joking14 and laughter.


Sunday we drove around the lake and looked at the many different types of tents15 and trailers16 in the camp grounds.  It was a hot day so we were happy to be in air conditioning17 in our car, as well as when we were at home.  In the evening we ate at a Chinese restaurant in a neighboring town and I particularly18 enjoyed their Mongolian beef19 and stir fried green beans20.  After that we returned home and played one of our favorite games, Sequence21.  It’s a game of strategy22 using playing cards.  It’s fun and I was the big winner of the evening.


Bill and Bev had to leave yesterday for their long drive (8 hours) home.  We hope to see them some time soon. But with winter coming it probably won’t be until at least next spring.  I’m sure there were many enjoyable family gatherings over the long week end and I’m thankful we had ours too.   



1. Labor Day: a U.S. holiday set aside for the recognition of workers, the first Monday in September (劳工节,为工人确立的美国节日,九月的第一个星期一).

2. signifies: means or implies a specific thing, a sign of something (表明,意味着).

3. turning: changing color due to the loss of green pigment (变颜色).

4. camping: 露营

5. Lake Red Rock: a large lake in Iowa formed by the Des Moines River impoundment (红岩湖,爱荷华州的一个大湖,由德梅英河围蓄而成).

6. camp grounds: 露营地

7. reserved: 预订

8. Indiana: 印地安那州

9. braved: had the courage to do something, such as heavy traffic (勇敢地面对或忍受).

10. heavy traffic: automobile and truck traffic on highways or roads (繁忙的交通).

11. Central: Central College

12. visited with my brother: 同我兄弟叙谈

13. Italian restaurant:意大利餐馆

14. joking:(开)玩笑

15. tents:帐篷

16. trailer:汽车拖的活动住屋

17. in air conditioning: 有空调的环境中

18. particularly:特别,格外

19. Mongolian beef:蒙古风味的牛肉

20. stir fried green beans:炒嫩菜豆

21. Seqence: a combination board and card game (一种由棋盘和纸牌组成的游戏)

22. strategy:策略




Independence Day

Friday, March 13th, 2009

We celebrated1 Independence Day, more often referred to as The Fourth of July, a few days ago.  It is another celebration that has changed over the years.  When I was young, we celebrated it with many fireworks2.  My grandfather would give each of us grandchildren some money to spend on fireworks, and we could get whatever we wanted, just as long as he didn’t think our choices3 were too dangerous4.   As I look back at it now, most of the things he allowed us to have would be considered dangerous by today’s standards5, and, in fact, are not allowed in most states.  Thus it’s not nearly so noisy now.  Here in Idaho, where we are at the moment, it has been especially quiet because of the high danger6 of forest fires around us.  Even so, we heard a few7 that bothered our dog Blitz very much.


Our major celebration of the day was to go to Ice Cream Alley, a very special outdoor ice cream shop for ice cream.  Kathy and I had big cones8.  My ice cream was called jamoca almond fudge, “jamoca” referring to coffee flavored ice cream, with chocolate chunks and almonds in it9…my favorite flavor.  Kathy had blackberry cheesecake10 ice cream, her favorite.  Don had a dish of vanilla and peach11.  Blitz had a “doggie” dish12 of vanilla.  (I’m afraid we tend to spoil our dog, but she truly is a lovely pet whom we enjoy very much.)


At night there was a fireworks display13 on Payette Lake, located about a half mile from us.   The fireworks started at 10:30, which is dusk14 here.  We didn’t go because by then Kathy was sound asleep and Don and I were comforting Blitz as the fireworks went off15.  We are in a high valley16 surrounded by even higher mountains, so the loud noises echoed back and forth17.   I rather enjoyed hearing them.  All in all, we had a nice peaceful day.




1. celebrated: 庆祝

2. fireworks: 烟花

3. choices: items that one prefers to buy or use over alternate possibilities for those same items (选择的东西).

4. dangerous: capable of causing harm or injury to somebody or something (危险的).

5. todays standards: the criteria in use today (今天的标准).

6. high danger: the likelihood of forests, buildings or grass fires starting (高度危险). These range from Low, Moderate, and High to Extreme.

7. a few: a few fireworks.

8. big cones: 大圆筒(冰激凌)

9. coffee flavored ice cream, with chocolate chunks and almonds in it: 咖啡味的冰激凌,里面有巧克力和杏仁

10. blackberry cheese cake: a specific flavor of ice cream containing a pastry of blackberry and cream cheese mixed with vanilla ice cream (一种冰激凌,含黑莓酱、奶油奶酪和香草冰激凌).

11. a dish of vanilla and peach: a specific flavor of ice cream containing peaches and vanilla ice cream (一种冰激凌,含桃和香草冰激凌).

12. doggie dish: a small dish of ice cream to give to a dog (为狗准备的一小客冰激凌).

13. fireworks display: a showing or presentation of many different types of fireworks (烟火表演).

14. dusk: the time of day where semi-darkness occurs (黄昏).

15. went off: exploded, or ignited (放烟花).

16. valley:峡谷

17. the loud noises echoed back and forth: 震耳的烟花爆炸声不断回响