Monday, April 25, 2016

Learning English--Making Friends.

Maria and I are getting to know each other. Last week, instead of having our weekly tutoring session at the La Familia Center, where we usually meet, we met at my house. Perhaps the setting had something to do with it, but it felt especially comfortable and we seemed to have lots to talk about.

Our session lasts 1.5 hours and I usually begin by just having a chat with Maria. We talk about jobs, family, events, whatever we feel like. I try to be gentle when I correct her structure and usage. I tell her that during an ordinary conversation, I would never interrupt and correct the way I do. I think she gets it, because after all, the whole point is to help her communicate more clearly in English.

We could go on chatting forever, but after a few minutes we move on. The last few weeks we’ve been reading children’s books and I never cease to be impressed with many of the more difficult words Maria recognizes and understands. The pronunciation is more difficult for her. She has been living and working in an English-speaking place for many years and she has a large English vocabulary. For her, the tough part is structuring sentences and pronouncing words in a way that is clear and understandable.

My Swedish exchange student listened in as Maria read aloud. She has trouble with past tenses that use “ed.” She says what sounds like lookid or watchid. Anna told her to think “t”  when she sees “ed.”  Now she says lookt and watcht—major breakthrough!

I choose children’s books with a limited amount of text, plenty of interesting pictures and story lines that I think are as meaningful to adults as they are to children.  It makes for a good time for both of us. Last week we finished reading The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton—my all-time favorite children’s book. Reading it with Maria made me realize all over again how beautifully it is crafted and how difficult it is to tell a good story in a strictly limited number of words. It’s an oldie, from the 1940’s, but it has stood the test of time and the plot line is as appropriate today as it was back then.

Then we move on to the text/exercise book that focuses on life skills. This week’s lesson was on invitations, offers and excuses and how to offer, accept and/or decline them.

The time flies by.  It is a time of the week I look forward to. And, I have a new friend!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Horse tooth Half Marathon #43-snow no problem

The 43rd running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon took place today, Sunday, April 17. The blanket of snow that greeted 1,370 runners when they woke up this morning seemed to matter not at all by the time the race got underway. The snow was slushy springtime stuff and with a little help from city snowplows, had completely disappeared from the roads by race time.

It was a chilly wait for the starting gun to go off, but once on the move, I’m certain that no one was cold. The hills appear quickly and they are guaranteed to warm you up. The snow was no longer falling and the wind nearly non-existent.

I was pretty excited to be running in my first half since this time last year. For several months this winter, I wondered if I’d ever be able to do that distance again. I found out today that I could. I also found out that I’m a good bit slower. I will soon move into a new age group, and it is appearing that I am ready to do that!

Today would have been the day for my daughter, Jeni to beat me bad, but that warm  bed was just too tough to get out of to the face the iffy weather. I had made a plan to run with Daniel, a good friend and long-ago neighbor, and I think we were both determined to keep that commitment.  I never saw him after the start and he finished well ahead of me.

Nick Clark, owner of Gnar Runners, directed the race for the first time this year. Over the past couple of days, with really bad weather threatening, he’s been on my mind. He did a fantastic job of keeping everyone informed about possible changes to the course and time frame and arranging for parking at a nearby drive-in movie when the CSU parking lot was deemed not useable.

People all along the way offered all kinds of noisy encouragement, and that really helps. Fort Collins is a welcoming community to all runners. And with a spectacular course through the foothills and then onto a wide bike path leading to a finish line and gala celebration in town, how can you beat it?

I’d like to offer a big thank you to you to everyone who bellied up to the weather challenge and made the 43rd running of this very special Fort Collins trademark race as wonderful as ever.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Faucet Wisdom

                    There will soon be a new Delta faucet between these two water pitchers.

A leaky faucet can, if you let it, can become a learning experience. My kitchen faucet had been dripping onto the surface of the cabinet below for a while before I discovered it. Long enough that the surface had buckled. The flow was a drip rather than a rush of water. I placed a plastic pitcher under the leak and, for a few days, it was manageable as long as I remembered to empty the pitcher now and then. When the drip cranked up some, I consulted someone with more plumbing savvy than I and he sent me off to Home Depot where I bought a new faucet. “Should I take the old one?” I asked, guessing that just maybe there would be more options than I’d know how to deal with. But, no, I didn’t take it.

Instead I came home with a replacement that would not work because it had three sink holes and my set up had only one.  Home Depot is very friendly about taking returns and by the line at customer service, it looks like they get plenty of them. They took the $70 faucet back and I returned to the plumbing aisle with a Home Depot adviser who said the $150 model would work. It didn’t. It had the right number of holes but the stem that connected with the drain was too short. I took it back to Home Depot and they were just as friendly when I returned this one. The lady even suggested that I’d better off with a Kohler or Moen faucet rather than a Delta, my current brand.

Back to the plumbing aisle with another adviser who explained that my five-year-old-faucet was too old. They didn’t have a model with a long-enough stem. “Things change so fast,” he explained. He suggested two plumbing specialty shops. I went to them both. Kate at the first one was the most knowledgeable person I countered during the entire experience.

“That’s a great steel faucet you have there,” she said. You can buy a repair kit for $20 unless there’s a leak in the valve, then you’ll definitely need a new faucet. Should you need a new hose, that’s $100, should you need a new spigot, that’s another $100, which means you’re better off buying a new one. By the way, did you know that Delta faucets have a lifetime guarantee?

I moved on to another local plumbing specialty shop where I did find a faucet that   would work for $300. I came very close to buying it but I kept thinking about that lifetime guarantee. Just to make sure I covered all the territory, I stopped at my local Ace Hardware store on the way home where a young lady was kind enough to open up three packages of faucets only to discover that not one of them had a long enough stem.

Back home, miracle of miracles, I found the paperwork for my Delta, called the company, was on hold for less than a minute and in two more had been awarded a brand-new faucet, the exact replica of my old one which now sells, I discovered, for more than $300. I could not have been more surprised or delighted.

I’m managing just fine with importing water from the bathroom to the kitchen for another week or so until my new faucet arrives. My dishwasher works and there’s nothing dripping into my cabinet.

1. I’ll never buy another brand of anything related to plumbing if there’s a Delta available.
2. I know the difference between a one hole and a three hole faucet and I won’t forget about the importance of stem sizes.
3. In retrospect, the whole time-consuming hassle was kinda fun, but I don’t want to repeat it.
4. I’ve spent far too many words talking about faucets.
5. We should all be thankful for automatically running water.