Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Building a house Part 1

We decided last year to build a house for our older years in Idaho. My husband grew up in Idaho Falls, and he is ready to "go home". 

The thought was a four year window. Get the grands all in school and then move when they are not looking. 

The pandemic lock down has changed all that. No need to stay in the East when we could not see our grandchildren on a regular basis. There are fines for going over bridges and we were told to stay inside. We could not attend Church, concerts, parades. Way to much control over our lives. We can do just as much with grands on Facetime while fishing on the Snake River. 

Of course, we could fish/crab the Delaware Bay or Jonas River, but the warnings to only eat one product from these places a year because of the heavy metals in the water....no thank you. Once the federal clean waters act was lifted in this area the states paid no attention and the fertilizer and metals began dumping again. @@ the mid Atlantic states are a mess! Western waters tend to be state controlled and clean. Don't let a cattle rancher catch you messing with the water!!! 

That is another topic for another day.

One of the challenges of building right now is that we are building with US products. The administration has high tariffs on wood from Canada and China. Both have been clear cutting and shipping at a loss to undercut the US market. We get it. So, we are backing US jobs and paying a higher price.

What does that mean to us? Currently our pice for framing materials is up 30%. Our costs for OSB board is up 50%. That also means that these products are fairly cut, harvested, and paid for. They do not include a bunch of formaldehyde or other chemicals used in China - not acceptable to us. 

We are buying our cupboards from a local craftsman. Most had stopped building because they were undercut by big box. With the tariffs, they are on par.  We are using local crews- who are legal and settled in the area. They are bussssyyyy, but will step in for a self build neighbor. We are using small businesspeople for our flooring products- also US made. Appliances are a challenge, but we are getting there. European or US made as long as they are fair wage items. 

We are putting our money where our mouths are. 
Fair wage, good products, growing economy. 
To us you cannot say, "I want the US to be a good place for the next generation" and then buy market flooded stuff from a different place. That is how we have always been. Buy local. 

So, on we go. No matter who is President- we want to be in the West. 

The building continues! 
 Hold on---it is going to be a ride for sure!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Saudi Arabia Revisited

 After writing about my encounter with the Holy Men, I was reminded of another story.

My husband's building was blown up during our time in Saudi. We lived on the compound (about 50 houses behind a 10 foot wall with a rec center and offices) directly behind the office building. BUT, we had just moved from a compound across town (much more in the desert). 

After the bombing, the compounds pretty much shut down. We were barricaded in and protected by Marines brought on shore for car search duty. Our children did not go to school.

 There was SO much gossip. "It had happened because the Christians gathered." "Another wave is going to hit." "No one understands how under threat we are." "Our children are safer in our houses then in the pods set up for school." "The other compound has abandoned us." "Our cars are targeted, they must be protected, don't go out without a full abaya or a full AK (we actually were not allowed guns at all)". 
There were SO many experts starting their idea of what was and was not safe. Water, food, play time, church, the list was endless. So were the rules. 

About two months into the mess we sprung free and went into the desert. With friends we camped, sang, hiked, played, drank...it was amazing. No one got hurt, or shot at, or killed (well, we did get stuck in a sand dune---but that was a challenge). 

We returned to the compound. We had changed but the anti "those who did not believe are evil" became even worse. We were shunned- especially by those who lived in our old compound. 
In Saudi you are not "allowed to leave the country" without permission of our government and theirs. No one had that permission.  So we returned to live the bunker mentality.

My husband's early retirement time came up. We had, fully, intended, to "stay in" for a few more years. Retire kindly. Move to our house and just love it. Instead I pushed. He put in the papers.
We left Saudi, much to many nashing teeth. We abandoned our dear friends who were not in the "permission window" to leave. They were there four more months and did some pretty harsh moves when the time came. I was never forgiven....

Go to today. We have lived the hard and harsh lock down. We went to Idaho. The air is clean- we laughed, we played, we hiked, we watched children go to school and others play soccer, we got up in the morning and ate breakfast- served by an overworked waitress because everyone else had gone back to work at higher paying jobs. 

We returned to reality that we were going back to lock down hell by boarding a plane- that was delayed for an hour so another plane could be returned because a screaming two year old refused to put on a mask. My husband's mask slipped below his nose when he nodded to sleep. The flight attendant woke him to harshly tell him to put his mask over his "NOSE and MOUTH!"
 One set of my grandchildren go to virtual school and then play for hours outside with neighborhood kids. The other set go virtual and then sit inside playing video games- no place to go or anything to do.
I got growled after entering the market with my mask in hand- the rain was so thick I could hardly see the building. My mask was SOAKED, but, like my veil, I put it on. 

The hospitalization of people is tiny. People socially distanced in Idaho, but did not get overly worried. There were many smiles (which we could see) everywhere.  There were 100 people in all of Idaho in the hospital for COVID related things while we were there. Currently there are 79 people in Delaware in the hospital with COVID related issues. 17 are critical. Less then 100 hospitalized  every day in September. Still- don't try to go the the shore without that mask on or someone WILL yell at you. 

It all moves my plans to move West closer and closer to NOW! I want those retirement papers in. I want out of here. Denying me the chance to do the only thing I moved here for- seeing my grandchildren makes me know that it is time to GO!  I live in the United States. I need to be able to move freely. Let the arrows begin. 

Really, I think all of the mask police need to move to one place- but who would be their servants???? Don't forget, to truly be a member of the mask police you cannot have any association with people who work outside of the house. You are exposed every single day. Or maybe that is another "do as I say , not as I do" occasion- like sending your kid to private school--or any school.

Building a house

 There are a thousand choices with a house. 

Should the corners be rounded? The doors be squared? Plugs be USB enhanced?

What color for the granite? One sheet or two?

Triple pane windows? white casing or black? screened in porch or open?

Just happy to be moving and get away from the despair that surrounds me here.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Veils and Masks.

In 1995 my family lived in Saudi Arabia. 

We lived on a compound. Our children attended the school that I worked at- Saudi Arabia International School. This was not our first assignment abroad. My husband and I had met in Germany, lived in seven states and Hong Kong. I am widely traveled.  Living overseas, I am well aware that I am visitor, and the customs of the area were to be adhered to.  The US has customs, mostly according to region. 

In Germany, if a policeman stepped in front of your car...STOP!   In Hong Kong, if you went to visit the Vietnamese refugee camp floating in the bay, you needed a visa.  In Saudi Arabia you wore a veil and a abaya, over your fully clothed body, if you left the compound walls to protect men from your alluring beauty. In the Southern US you said, "Yes, Mam/Sir".  In the West you did not flinch when you saw someone carrying a gun on the hip. 

I have one memory of this all going bad for me. In Saudi Arabia, I took a taxi (not allowed to drive) to pick up some tailoring. Being late, I jumped in the cab and off we went. As we neared the store I searched my bag for my veil (I had my abaya on). Alas, no veil. My abaya was long- so I threw it over my head (like pulling up a long overshirt with no real closing) and ran for the door front of the five shop indoor mall. 

Almost to the shop, I was stopped by two men in short white robes. That is what the "holy men" (read enforcers) wear. They carry camel whips- about 5 feet long and narrow- think of a shepherd's crook without the top. "Just my luck," I thought in my teacher voice.

The first man pointed to my ankles, which were not covered. Not my legs-  my ankles.  I dropped my abaya down so they were covered. The other man pointed to my hair- which was now uncovered. Angry words were coming my way. I quickly drew my abaya over my head- uncovering my ankles. I then said, "It is either my hair or my ankles." I received a very sharp whip on my ankles. Ow! They escorted me to my shop and got my things and took me back to the car. There were some angry words to my driver. Poor guy, he was shaking.

Why does this come to mind now. I have had a very difficult time - emotionally- with this covering the face thing. Not because I want to spread the flu (which I do not have), but because I NEVER thought I would ever see the group of people who fought for women not to wear a bra (to protect our boobies) to become the enforcers of a rule that covers one of the most important parts of our body--our mouths!

Think about this. 

Yesterday a woman was sitting in the stands with her family to watch her child play football. She was outside. She was only close to her family. She was approached and told to cover her mouth. She refused- saying she had asthma. First they violated her circle by attempting to arrest her. Then they TAZED her. Then, unmasked themselves, they took her away in cuffs. I almost threw up. The people around did not intervene- but they sounded scared. What would happen to them if they stood up for her? They were probably shaking like my taxi driver. 

This is the United States of America. I know that some of you who are reading think this is a terrible country with a horrid President. "She deserved to be dragged away." I have lived/traveled in terrible countries with horrible leaders---this is not it. First and foremost we are FREE. Yes, free. 

I just don't get it. How in the world did the older women get from women's lib to here in just a few short months? And no, I am not a right wing nut, I am an US citizen. What in the world are we doing to ourselves?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Point of view from a teacher- Part 3

Simply stated, we, absolutely need to reopen physical school for the K-5 population ESPECIALLY in the underserved areas of our country. If we had to feed them, they need to be "warming a seat". Kids from abusive households, in any SES, should be going as well. Period.

The one thing I have always appreciated about the United States is access to education. Education is a melting pot.  Education presents an opportunity to explore your mind and heart and soul together. We don't pigeon hole kids as much as most of the world. We pay our teachers well, in general and spend a lot on schools. We value education.

The research states that every three months out of school shows major regression in what was learned. I was on a national research committee about reforming the school year, because there were so many people being left behind. Summer school, Outward bound, and hundreds of other programs are formed to keep kids moving forward.

There is another huge amount of research that the young child's brain (6-13)is the most  open to "sight symbol"  without the interference of other parts. We "hard wire" reading and basic math at this point. Most children are dependent on kinesthetic education.  Yes, teachers are key---the relationship, the touch on the shoulder, the kind passing word.

Guess what? there is almost NO research on how much young children learn through screens. Yes, they are good at Mindcraft. In my experience, more then 20 minutes of "school like" screen time begs a kid to do something else. They are not connected/engaged.

The biggest voices in this fight- and yes it is a fight- are the middle and upper middle class. I don't use this lightly, I see their words as <<PRIVILEGED>> ELITIST>>POLITICAL>>SCARED
Their children might lose some education during this time of virtual. BUT, the can figure out a way to get that "teacher" relationship with their children. Some though nannies or (usually) the female in the house.....so much for Women's movement. Pods are the new thing (five likeminded families sharing an retired teacher).
These have NO idea how difficult it will be to, not only, get kids back in school after they are allowed.
By closing for another year- trust will be so eroded. I fear the loss of an entire group of upwardly mobile kids. Socioeconomic and racial divide will grow--a gap I have worked ALL of my adult life to help close. AGGGG!

My bias is strong.

Three of the schools that I taught at had many (and that is many) students who were abused, attacked, exposed to drugs or drink or porn. School was a time for them to just be for themselves.
I remember teaching a nine year old first grader to read and write. He was the ONLY person in his house who could do that in English. He became the negotiator for the contracts for his family to pick fields---AFTER school.
I have taught older kids to read and do basic math. It is possible. It was a one on one struggle. That is why the standard is if they do not function well be third grade, they need more.

Would I teach during this time- nope. Not in person. I would ask to take a year off and give up my slot for someone who is younger, in better condition. Less likely to catch the virus and be very ill.

I would do this for two reasons. I know that I am older and people will worry. Also, I think that schools will forever be different after this and teachers will quickly become a "thing of the past" and I hate that idea. I see great value of classroom education. This group of parents may find other ways to spend their taxes....

Let me give you background. Why do I do this? You need to know that what I say comes from experience and study.
I had a mish mash elementary education at, what is now considered, an excellent private school. During my third and fourth grade years I had seven teachers. Only two thirds of my eighth grade class went on to high school.
I am a horrid speller. I did not learn to read or do math, properly, until college. 

These experiences set my course for teaching.
No other children should be left behind.
I graduated from a leading program in the US.
 BS Early Childhood Education +70 graduate hours from seven different universities.
I've been on many honor rolls.
My favorite summers were at Learning and the Brain out of Harvard.

My teaching experiences?
Cactus Wren- Phoenix - an "open classroom" 150  first graders, mostly Hispanic, in a pod formation.
Taft Elementary- Mesa AZ. Migrant workers. New class of 30-35 students every nine weeks
Wuerzburg Elementary- Germany- 30 first grade students from every walk of Army life from well run families and two who were "shipped back to the states" for severe mental illness.
Pentagon and Fort Ben Harrison Indiana- Workshops for childcare workers and parents.
Holy Spirit- Annandale VA- 15 Kindergarteners from high income homes
St Mary's- Junction City KS- Preschoolers from middle income families
Iolani School Honolulu- Library- $$$$$
Hong Kong International- 4th grade- $$$$$$$$$$$$$
Saudi Arabian International- 5th grade- mostly upper middle or military officer kids.
Leupp Elementary - Navajo nation- 2nd grade - mostly Hogan living kids
St Mary's - Flagstaff- 6-8th grades- the only snobs I ever taught
Cromer Elementary- Flagstaff- 4th grade. Middle class ranching/Navajo kids
Junction City Middle School- 6th grade/ SPED- mostly kids from either generationally impoverished or solid working middle class.
Saxon Inservice Teacher- 700 schools in 49 states -  middle to lower class or Christian schools. From inner city (be careful not to get shot at) to end of the country Alaska.

Monday, July 20, 2020

From the retiree point of view - schools ---Part 2

I am a retired teacher
Sixty two
My husband is seventy.

Our friends range in age, but I do have a number of friends who are retired
and I read many, many blogs of retired people.

People are quiet about their real feelings,
but hey, they get their SS and their kids are grown.

I have "heard" all of the things below....

Schools should stay closed
Those children are germ machines
They will infect us all ("Me" is left our because that is selfish. "Me" is implied.)
They will kill their grandparents who care about them.

If schools close, I should not have to pay property taxes.
Teachers should be furloughed and possibly find a new profession.
They are not "working". The computer does the majority of the work and they "check in".
Districts buy programs. Put the money there if you are collecting it.

There has to be someplace to "put" these kids.
I certainly don't want to run over a five year old
on my way to Trader Joe's because their mom and dad are at work.
So maybe we can hire teachers as day care workers?
They can do day care at the empty schools. (This is actually happening at a district in MD.)
I can see that being a good use of my money.

I have even heard the old, "If you didn't want to take care of children,
You should not have had them."

Really? Did the woman's movement not even happen.

I also have friends who still teach, who should be retired.
They are not much different

Kids will get me sick. I have _____________ (name anything) and I will suffer greatly.
I will not be able to hug them or get close to them
so we should not open schools.
Well, maybe two days a week
and we are going to need a day off in between
so four days a week of teaching small groups
BUT no socializing- no food- no cleaning- no singing-no clapping-one way halls- few bathroom breaks---maybe a three hour day....
just the four cores --then "specials" on line.

High school completely on line. Well, maybe we can do video
Just think of how much work those kids could put into the yearbook.

Really, we just should do on line for another year
and I should still make my salary
because I am teaching....sort of.
And Private schools can open, because they are not REAL schools and can be small and have younger teachers....

Just the listener here....think these through.

What it means to close schools from a retiree, teacher, mother and taxpayer. Part 1 statistics

"We are going digital
Everyone will get a computer and a hot spot."

Most countries throughout the world are reopening in person school for children of child care age- the average is fifth grade (10-11) in US standards.  This is true in Asia, Africa, Europe.
The older the child, the less contact they seem to have with brick and morter.
If there is a "cluster" schools will be closed for 14 days, in general.
Most countries the school opening and closing is up to the province.

Let's get some stats:

                                  3,911k sq miles.      Western Europe
                                  3,885k. sq miles         Canada
                                  3,797k sq miles          US
                                     137k sq miles.          Germany

Western Europe  196M
      Average Age-  43.9

Canada has        37 M people/      legal immigration 242K per year 
   Average age-  41
        Number of teachers/avg salary.        721K               $40,000

United St has    328M people    legal immigration   954K per year
    Average age- 38.3
         Number of teachers/ avg salary.     3,000K.             $59,000 (117B overall)

Germany has     83M  people/     legal immigration  500k per year.
  Average age-  44 
         Number of teachers/avg salary.       686K.              $50,000

Japan has       128M people/.       legal immigration  71K per year
    Average age- 48
         Number of teachers/ avg salary.     900K                 $44,000

US has 74M   birth - 18 children - close to the population of Germany
 and almost double then the  entire population of Canada.

US has a very young work force- meaning many more parents are in the work force.
70% of female parents work full time/ 92% of male.
61% of households with children have dual working parents.

Most of the population stats https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/western-europe-population/.
No of teachers/Salaries were from a variety of websites.