Genre of the Week: Summer 1995 by Evelyn Dykhouse Halverson

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Summer: The best time of the year.
It’s a time to travel to meet family and friends living far away. It’s a time for bike tours and fishing, while amusing ourselves with entertainment from the county fair and amusement park. It’s a time for baseball and golf, but also the best place for grill fests where we feast on steak, fries, corn and a good beer.

Having grown up in southern Minnesota and being not far from the Iowa Lakes Region, where Okoboji was the main tourist trap for four months in the year, the best thing about the summer months is being next to the water, where a tour along West Lake Okoboji on the cruise ship Queen II was as obligatory as going to church- but with a lot of entertainment and facts about the lake. It also meant an annual visit from my two cousins in California, where we clowned around on Big Spirit Lake in inner tubes, while playing card games and making my great aunt laugh- she was a great host as she had a cottage on the north end for over 50 years. 🙂 It also meant golf and jetskiing with friends from high school, while keeping the neighborhood in Loon Lake awake with parties until 2am in the morning! 😉

But there is more to summer than just water and wheels. To this author, summer means listening to nature and watching the trees change colors as it provides fresh air and shade. Even if we switch off the air conditioning for a night, we can listening to the sounds of crickets chirping, secadas sawing in the trees and a herd of deer galloping about. And this with the hum of other air conditioners and cars passing by.

This poem was one of many that local historian Evelyn Halverson wrote for the newsletters of the Lyon County Historical Society in Rock Rapids, Iowa. Halverson always opened the newsletter with a poem about one of the four seasons- after all, the newsletter was published four times a year at each season. From 1985 until 2007 she was the writer that inspired others to read up on history and become writers as well, as the newsletter was laden with facts that tied local, national and international history together, be it locals having fought in World War II and sharing stories about their experiences in Germany or Japan, or about the Bonnie Doon Railroad, which cut Lyon County into two (a bridge along the route was profiled recently, click here). In either case, the newsletters were fun to read and the lady was a great poet. A collection of poems were put together in a book, published in 2008, two years before her death.

One of these poems I wish to share with you in this genre of the week, which fits the summer mood for the reader and the author. Enjoy!

Pause to catch the wonders of summer

See the cornstalks stretching toward the sky

As a symphony of bird songs greet each dawn

And gentle breezes stir the tree leaves with a sigh.

 

The roadsides are colorful with wildflowers.

The apple trees flaunt red apples, crisp and sweet.

Thunder and lightning announce a sudden shower,

All a pettern of summer’s annual treat.

 

Listen to the crickets serenade at night time

As the locust chorus buzzes through the day.

The monarch butterflies glisten in the sunshine,

Catch the wonders of summer before it passes away!

 

 

Have a great summer everyone! 😀

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Shadow of the Day: A Tribute to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

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Where have all the rockers gone? Our idols whom we’ve followed faithfully and shown our support for them and their songs sincer our days in high school are no longer with us. Those who had plenty of years of life left in them decided to cut it short. Drug abuse, family problems, taxes and the law, the paparrazi and the media chased them from the mike (microphone), erased their abilities to create and export their songs, causing them to disappear without a trace.

But with one question: why?

After losing Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), and Chris Cornell (Soundgarten) among many gift musicians, we’ve lost another singer in Chester Bennington from Linkin Park.

And he was only 41 when he hung himself.

A father of six children, Chester and other members founded Linkin Park in 1996 and gave alternative rock a new face with a mixture of rap, electronic rock, metal and lyrics that looked at the domestic issues that he and others faced in life. Being a member of Generation X, this generation served as the bridge between the Baby-boomer generation- which grew up on platinum records, Vietnam, sex-drugs-and rock and roll, as well as Billy Joel- and the younger generations of today, who are self-absorbed but self conscience, want to experience everything but are “Holly-go-lightlies” eating breakfast at Tiffany’s, and are well-informed but digital natives spending time buried in their Smartphones. It was also the same generation that has suffered from tumultuous times, having survived two major financial crises, 9/11/2001, and rapid changes to our own environment, while being sandwiched between the two generations, not having a chance to live the dreams we wanted to, working to make ends meet and not even thinking about retirement.  All of these aspects, which resulted in the fight to find one’s identity and deal with all the personal issues in life were the themes of the songs he and Linkin Park produced in the almost 20 years the band has been together.

One More Night was the last album released by the band before Bennington’s death, having been in stores since May of this year. However, if there is one song that best describes his legacy, it is this one, Shadow of the Day, which was released in 2007 from the album Minutes to Midnight.  Produced with keyboards and guitars, the song reflects on a person’s life and the need to move on. It’s walking into the sunset honoring a person and his work. Yet at the same time, it also means the rise of the next sun and the start of a new day with a new sheet of paper to draw or write about.  This song definitely reflects on Chester’s life, leaving us with questions of why it had to end the way it did, when he left a legacy as one of the best singers in his time. It does leave a question of what happens next, and who will be able to fill in his shoes, just like we have to with our other heroes who had followed before that.

Especially when the sun rises again…….

 

 

Our condolences to members of Linkin Park and the family of Chester Bennington on this unexpected loss of a great singer, who left us with songs we will listen to for years to come, and a legacy that will be difficult to outdo. God bless you……

 

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Flensburg Files Accepting Stories of Christmas’ Past

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While Christmas is over five months away, it is the season that creeps up faster than any of the other holiday seasons of the year. It is also one that is laden with stories of presents, families, friends and lots of surprises.

Christmas also means learning about the history of how it was celebrated and this year’s Christmas  Market Tour Series will focus on just that- History.

During my Christmas market tour in Saxony last year, some recurrent themes came up that sparked my interest. In particular in the former East Germany, this included having Christmas be celebrated with little or no mentioning of Jesus Christ. In addition, we should include Räuchermänner (Smoked incense men) that were a rare commodity in the former Communist state but popular in the western half of Germany and beyond, traditional celebrations with parades honoring the miners, and lastly, the Christmas tree lit with candles.  Yet despite the parades along the Silver Road between Zwickau and Freiberg, a gallery of vintage incense men in a church in Glauchau, church services celebrating Christ’s birth in Erfurt, Lauscha glassware being sold in Leipzig and Chemnitz, and the like, we really don’t have an inside glimpse of how Christmas was celebrated in the former East Germany.

Specifically:

  • What foods were served at Christmas time?
  • What gifts were customary?
  • What were the customary traditions? As well as celebrations?
  • What did the Christmas markets look like before 1989, if they even existed at all?
  • How was Christ honored in church, especially in places where there were big pockets of Christians (who were also spied on by the secret service agency Stasi, by the way)?
  • What was the role of the government involving Christmas; especially during the days of Erich Honecker?
  • And some personal stories of Christmas in East Germany?

In connection with the continuation of the Christmas market tour in Saxony and parts of Thuringia this holiday season, the Flensburg Files is collecting stories, photos, postcards and the like, in connection with this theme of Christmas in East Germany from 1945 to the German Reunification in 1990, which will be posted in both the wordpress as well as the areavoices versions of the Flensburg Files. A book project on this subject, to be written in German and English is being considered, should there be sufficient information and stories,  some of which will be included there as well.

Between now and 20 December, 2017, you can send the requested items to Jason Smith, using this address: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. 

The stories can be submitted in German if it is your working language. It will be translated by the author into English before being posted. The focus of the Christmas stories, etc. should include not only the aforementioned states, but also in East Germany, as a whole- namely Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Berlin and Mecklenburg-Pommerania, the states that had consisted of the German Democratic Republic, which existed from 1949 until its folding into the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October, 1990.

Christmas time brings great times, memories, family, friends and stories to share. Over the past few years, I’ve heard of some stories and customs of Christmas past during my tour in the eastern part, which has spawned some curiosity in terms of how the holidays were being celebrated in comparison with other countries, including my own in the US. Oral history and artifacts are two key components to putting the pieces of the history puzzle together. While some more stories based on my tour will continue for this year and perhaps beyond, the microphone, ink and leaf, lights and stage is yours. If you have some stories to share, good or bad, we would love to hear about them. After all, digging for some facts is like digging for some gold and silver: You may never know what you come across that is worth sharing to others, especially when it comes to stories involving Chirstmas.

And so, as the miners in Saxony would say for good luck: Glück Auf! 🙂

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5 Myths About Germany

George Schorschi

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Ah, Germany! The economic powerhouse of the EU! A shining beacon of hope in a world that’s gone mad! More and more, the world turns to Berlin (and Munich and Hamburg and even Düsseldorf) as a sign of stability in uncertain times. Quality of life is high, employment is steadily rising, and the lessons of history have been well learned. However, as one starts to examine what exactly makes the German system work, they come face to face with some rather inaccurate stereotypes. So in order for you, dear reader, to truly understand what it’s like here, I offer the truth I have personally uncovered regarding 5 Myths About Germany.

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In School in Germany/ Genre of the Week: Pelmanism- From the Novel: Don’t Try This At Home by Paul Reizin

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This Genre of the Week looks at a novel that may look ordinary to some readers who go through the whole book (or even half of it before putting it down for another one) and judge it as textbook style- where the protagonist gets caught in a situation where he has to find his way out.

The novel “Don’t Try This At Home,” by Paul Reizin looks at the protagonist from a first person point-of-view, who ends up being entangled in a mafia, getting in trouble with the law, and in bed with several girls in the process. All of these are by accident; all of these despite his attempts of getting himself out of the situation, only to end up digging himself even deeper in a hole until his wit, quick thinking and a little romance got himself out in the end.  How it all happened and what his personal life was like is worth reading and interpreting yourself. 🙂

Yet Reizin’s novel also features a few unconventional games that are worth trying, if you knew how they were played and done it wisely. Pelmanism is one of those games mentioned and described in the novel.

And while in the book Pelmanism had experiments with different types of alcohol while guessing what they were without looking, the game itself can be a useful one that provides the players of all ages with valuable learning experiences in all subjects of study.

Especially, when learning foreign languages!!!! 😀

I’ve been using this game for all my English classes since 2004- most of the time when we have our last course meeting as a group before the semester ends and we part ways for other commitments in life- and the game features words that are sometimes forgotten by some and unknown by others. It also presents some of the typical things and characteristics of some students. All it takes is some guessing what the objects are and who they belong to.

 

The object of the game is simple. You need:

A sheet of paper and a writing utensil

A timer

And a bag with ten personal items- the items should be small enough to fit in a cloth bag (not a see-through plastic one)

 

How the game is played goes like this:

One student grabs a bag and places the contents on the table in the middle, while other students close their eyes and/or look away as the contents are being taken out. Once all the items are on the table, that student signals the rest of the group to open their eyes and look at the table and the objects.  At this point, students have one minute to identify the ten items on the table in their working language, namely the foreign language they are learning. At the same time, they should guess who these objects belong to.

Once the teacher, who runs the timer, says “Stop!”, the students are called on upon random to name the objects and who they belong to. The student, who gets all the objects right as well as the correct person, will be the next one that chooses another bag, and repeats the same procedure.

This whole process continues until all the bags are used up or the teacher ends the game for time reasons.  There is no clear winner, but the objective of the game is to get the students to “reactivate” their brains to remember the words they learned in the past. At the same time, they also have an opportunity to learn new vocabulary- much of which may need to be listed on a sheet of paper with the native language equivalent, should the foreign language level range from beginner to intermediate (A to B level, according to the Common European Framework). In some cases, small devices that are new to the students will need to be explained by the person who brought it with the other objects.

 

I’ve had some weird but interesting examples that warranted explaining, for instance:

A can of deoderant that is actually a capsule for fitting a small object for hiding in geocaching, a pen that functions as a light, laser pointer and hole puncher, small books full of quotes, USB-sticks with company logos, stuffed animals (also as key chains), pieces of raw material (wood, rock, metal), postcards, pictures and poems. If you can think it, you can present it and be genuine at the same time. 😉

As mentioned earlier, Pelmanism can be played by all ages, regardless of language knowledge, and if you can have at least four participants (the more, the better), you can treat yourself to an evening of fun for either the whole family or friends. If you are a teacher in an English class, you will find this useful and fun for the students; especially if you participate in the game yourself.

Pelmanism is one of those games found in a book, where if modified for use in the classroom and mastered properly, it can be a fun experience for those learning new words, especially in a foreign language. It reactivates your brain and gets you reacquainted with words learned in the past (but seldomly used in the present), while at the same time, encourages active learning and acquisition of new words into an ever-expanding vocabulary. It is a fun game for everyone, and if you are as lucky as the protagonist in the story, you might come out with more than what words you learned in the game. 😉 ❤

Thanks, Paul!

 

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Can Learning a Second Language Destroy Your Native Tongue?

For those who have been living in a country outside your home, and have had problems forgetting some words in your own language, you’re not alone. I’ve had this experience, especially since I’ve been living in Germany for almost 20 years. But so has this guest columnist, and here’s a short explanation for this. You don’t necessarily lose your language, but you integrate it into the one of your current country of residency. Enjoy! 🙂

Source: Can Learning a Second Language Destroy Your Native Tongue?

Naming and Faming: A Guide to Idiomatic Expressions in a Sense of Names

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Imagine this scenario: You are approaching a town in Iowa, tucked away in a steep river valley, while driving an 18-wheel rig (semi-truck, lorry- LKW (German). You are about to go down hill on a narrow road, and you need to slow down. In order to do that, you have to jake the truck, like in the video below:

To jake the truck means what?

 a. To shift the truck down to lower gear (5th gear)  

 b. To shift the truck up to a higher gear (2nd or 3rd gear)    

 c. To shift the truck up to a higher gear and activate the braking system  

d. To put the truck in neutral and idle the engine

It’s weird to use names to express situations in English, as we have the name Jake in there. Yet idioms in the sense of names serve as a better alternative to trying and describing situations in detail, especially when you are directing a person to do something (in linguistics terms, we would use the word imperative in this case). While German instructions tend to be detailed, long and sometimes complicated (if you don’t know the gists and shortcuts to the languages), but using idiomatic names in English is even more confusing because the notion of using a person’s name is considered insulting. Furthermore, one has to explain the origin of the idiomatic name used in the context to better understand its usage. It is safe to say especially in this case, one has to learn the idiomatic names by heart, just the way you learn (and conjugate) words in Latin.

And lastly, some expressions do not exist in mainstream English but do on a very local level, and these are in connections with certain local events that was caused by that particular person. There is one story in reference to this final argument that I will explain at the end of this exercise. 😉

Keeping this in mind, here are some exercises to get you acquainted with the idioms in connection with names. 🙂

A. Look at the following videos and determine which idiomatic name is best used.

  1. (Esp. at Minute 2:30)

The SImpson family is………

a. Trying to be rich as Croesus     b. Keeping up with the Joneses   c. Boasting like Bobby     d. Cherishing like Sherry

 

2.

My name is mud in this case is………

a. Dirty Harry   b. A fool     c. An unintelligent figure        d. both b & c     e. Bernd the Toast

 

To slip a Mickey means:

a. To put a drug into someone’s drink  b. To deceive someone    c. To trick someone              d. To gossip about someone

 

4.

To need one’s John Hancock means your (……) is needed

a. Signature    b. Penmanship       c. Handwriting           d. Story

 

5.

Great Scott is an expression used to describe……

a. Surprise        b. Shock         c. Amazement          d. Excitement         e. All are applicable

 

B. Identify the name and find out what the expression means.

  1. You can’t buy just any Smartphone. This one has to be the real McCoy.
  2. Since its founding in 2010, the company has been going Jesse, having earned millions of dollars.
  3. Jasmine is an elite class basketball player. Trading a couple of our great players for her was the Jack of all trades!
  4. You can count on Chuck to do the job. He’s always a Johnny on the spot!
  5. Working the cornfields takes the patience of Job in order to get a great harvest.
  6. Sometimes our president is Jack the lad. He has what he wants, no matter how!
  7. The public raised Cain when the politician made the announcement about the project to replace a bridge.
  8. The woman dialed for the police after a peeping Tom watched her get dressed.
  9. If there are no questions, we’ll cut to the Chase and talk about the progress of our project.
  10. I hate it when I have smart Alecs in my class, who claim they have the brightest bulb in the box!

 

C. Determine whether the following are true or false

  1. To Steve it means to do it perfectly and with power.
  2. For the love of Pete was named after one of Christ’s disciples and means happiness.
  3. Walter Mitty is a person who daydreams about success.
  4. To beat around the Bush means to get to the point, like Bush Jr.
  5. A nervous Nellie is one who is irritated or annoyed.
  6. To be happy as Larry means to be very happy over something you did successfully.
  7. Silly Sally and Good Time Sally are the same idiomatic expressions.
  8. If a person is the Benjamin of the family, then he is the oldest.
  9. To pull a Louie is to mess up on a date by not getting the girl’s telephone number.
  10. Even Stevens are things between people that are equal.
  11. A doubting Thomas is one who thinks the action will fail.
  12. We use John and Jane Does as names for unidentified people
  13. To dick around is the same as to Mickey Mouse around, when it comes to tampering with things.
  14. A person with a mixed, extreme personality is known as a Bonnie and Clyde
  15. To be petered out means to be tired. 

After being petered out by all the idiomatic names, you should have an idea of how these work in the English language. You can find more by clicking here . 🙂

To close this section, I would like to refer back to the previous arguments about the difficulty in understanding the idiomatic names in English, and with that, my third argument on local idioms that have a local meaning. Americans have been well-known to create idioms and other expressions because of their affiliation with certain events, stories and names of people. Some stick and move to mainstream, others either remain local, disappear after a certain time or even both.

Mine fortunately belonged to the idiomatic name that disappeared after a few years. In high school I was a discus thrower, and our discus throwing facility was right next to the bleechers that lined up along the football field on the left-hand side. As I was a left-handed thrower, guess where my throws always went……. 😉

 

No wooden disc survived being “Jasonized!”

 

For those who read this and attended my high school, it will bring back some memories. For those who read it for the first time, your first question is probably going to be along the lines of this: “Why have the throwing area next to a football field?”

 

My response: Ask the coach. I’m more than 20 years away from home to answer that one. 😉

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Answers:
Jake the truck:   c.
 
Activity One:
  1. b. 2. d. 3. a.  4. a.  5. e.
 
Activity Two:
  1. Real McCoy- The real, genuine thing
  2. Going Jesse- becoming a success
  3. Jack of all trades- The best of both worlds; best deal for both
  4. Johnny on the spot- always reliable and willing to do it.
  5. Patience of Job- A lot of patience; nerves of steel
  6. Jack the lad- a brash, cocky person
  7. Raise Cain- Cause a commotion; pandemonium; hot debate
  8. Peeping Tom- a stalker who watches women
  9. Cut to the Chase- Get to the point. Chase is a male name.
  10. Smart Alec- a person who claims to know everything but doesn’t in reality
 
Activity Three:
  1. t 2. f. 3. t. 4. f.  5. f.  6. t.  7. f.  8. f.  9. t.  10. t.  11. t.  12. t.  13. t.  14. f. 15. t.