Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chilly morning routine

Erase any questions about climate change. It is not yet the end of September and the weather in this warm climate is cold and rainy. In fact last night I resorted to wearing my flannel pajamas for the first time this Fall, and I also plugged in the electric heater in my bedroom.

This morning I realized I've developed a routine to get out the door by 8:30 for my first class at 9AM. I'm awake before my cellphone alarm goes off at 7. While in my pj's, I fill the tea kettle and light the gas burner for hot water. Then I go back to my bedroom to make my bed and get out my clothes for the day - and that includes black tights due to the chilly mornings. I head back to the bathroom where I finish dressing. (I've been good about wearing skirts to school, but I've decided to wear slacks when it is cold. I plan to model functional fashion for the other women teachers and hope they come to question this cultural rule about what women must wear.)

Back to my routine: When the tea kettle whistles, I pour some of the hot water into a plastic tub in the kitchen sink and mix it with cold water for washing my face. Of course I also use boiling water to make a cup of Starbucks coffee when I have that. After putting on moisturizer and some makeup, I have a bowl of Special K cereal with whole milk plus the requisite daily vitamin and a calcium tablet. Then I head back to my bedroom when my computer resides and check for emails and the headlines in USA.

Notice that I do not take a daily shower or bucket bath. I reserve that for about once a week when I turn on the electricity for the huge hot water tank in the bathroom. I've come to realize how energy inefficient a large water heater is since it takes so long to heat and then I don't use all the heated water. That is, the hot water goes to waste. And do I really need to shower every day? I'm managing just fine.

Before I leave for school I brush my teeth in the kitchen sink and put on lipstick. I pull on boots in my hallway and carry a bag with a pair of shoes plus school books for classes that day. Often I meet up with my neighbor who also teaches at Digah school and walk with her and other children headed there.

Another time, I'll write about my afternoon and evening routine.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Saturday in September

I've been up early today because my landlady Gulnar will be coming to re-hang some curtains in my kitchen. I have a belief that if my place is spic-and-span, she will expedite the hookup to gas for this house for both heating and cooking. So far I've washed the kitchen floor and swept down cobwebs from around several windows. I'll clean the hall entrance and might even wash a few window panes. Back in the states, it's Fall cleaning time.

I also plan to work on a couple more posters for next week's English classes. My "What is the Weather Today?" poster was well received during the first 2 days of school. (Well of course it was: there were no textbooks or anything else to engage the students or teachers.) I'm thinking I'll add a bit of grammar ala Present Simple tense, Past Simple, and Future Simple. For older students, I'm also creating a thermometer poster and asking them to watch TV for the temperature forecasts for Masalli. Motivation? How do they know what to wear to school? Or what is most important information for planting tomatoes? Or . . . something about climate change!

I'm not sure what's got me stirred up about teaching this Fall. I think it's just seeing the lack of motivation or interest by the teachers and wanting to show them how to engage the students. They think it's me and I want to prove to them it's them. Site mate Sally and I put on a week-long teacher training that was poorly attended. We even wondered if teachers know the ranking of the education system is in this country. We're not sayin'!

I plan to use the time without textbooks to do things differently: get all students saying something in English, have them draw words in their copy books to better learn and remember. Most of all, I want to get my grammar-focused teachers to have confidence in themselves to teach at their best. I want them to have successful English students as the reward for improving their teaching efforts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tell-tale Turds

Moving into a big brick house has been the adventure promised. Since July 3rd, I've learned the routes to several small markets, met several of the neighbors, and only locked myself out of my house once - on the 2nd day here! Generally I've figured out how to wash clothes in cold water, to run the electric pump for well water, and I had a phone and internet installed. I'm learning to cook with just one propane gas burner tank plus a one-temperature-for-everything oven. I usually don't heat water in the shower tank for doing dishes, but fill a tea kettle instead to get hot water for dishes. I've also started a compost pile in the corner of the garden.

The construction of this house is generally lacking finishes. By that I mean windows and doors don't fit snugly, the floors are wooden planks without covering, the walls and ceilings are unpainted, the concrete steps to the living level are uncovered, and there are electric wires sticking out of the walls where light fixtures should be. Two rooms on the second level are totally unfinished, that is, you can open a door to those rooms but you would see the dirt floor of the lower level through the floor joists.  

That lower level appears to be home to other creatures including spiders, swallows, pigeons and mice. The windows for the lower level have no window panes so heaven only knows what animals might come in from the cold in the next few months. Mice have been visiting my kitchen during the night according to the tell-tale turds I noticed. One morning I could hear scratching near my oven and discovered that a mouse had gotten stuck in the oven door. Too bad. I suppose I could have turned on the oven, but I refrained. I did, however, triple wrap my hands in plastic bags the next day to remove the little carcass.