Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Chicken Mummy

"The Pharaoh" from "Chickens of the World" by Matthew Meyer
I mentioned in my recent post about our home school that for our unit on Egypt we mummified a chicken. This turned out to be such an unusual experience that I think it deserves its own post.

We have been using The Story of the World curriculum (which I adore) for our history lessons this year. One of the suggested activities for the lesson on Egypt was to get a chicken from the grocery store and send it through the mummification process. This sounded so cool to me, and without really thinking the whole process through or what would actually be involved in mummifying a chicken, I eagerly jumped into the project.

My first sign that the mummification process might not be as smooth sailing as I'd thought was when I went to purchase a chicken. Our grocery store is a bit old fashioned, and you have to buy your meat from a butcher at the meat counter. The activity manual had said that the smaller the chicken you could get the better, because it would fit in the bag better. So I was a bit discouraged that all the chickens at the meat counter were on the largish side rather than the smallish side.

"Do you have any chickens smaller than these?" I asked the man behind the meat counter.

"Hmm... a small one? " he asked, as he smiled and sorted through the pile of poultry, " usually people are asking me for the biggest one, not the smallest one."

"Yes, I know", I chirped enthusiastically, " but we are going to mummify it, and so I need it to be small so it will fit in the bag."

The meat counter man froze, with a chicken in his hand, and just stared at me.

"Oh, yes, well, we home school," I hurriedly tried to explain, "and we have been studying Egypt, and our book suggested to make a chicken mummy, and so um... yea and it is a suggestion in our book... and um... because it will be educational...." The more I tried to explain the more bewildered the look on his face became. He stared at me, the gaggle of children around my cart, and then back at the chicken he was still holding in his hand. I realized I probably sounded like a crazy lady and that it was time to grab my chicken and run.

"Thanks, that one looks just great. It's a bit big but I think I can find a box instead of a bag," and I took the largish chicken and ran off as quickly as I could, trailed by a line of squabbling children. As I hid myself in the chip aisle I realized that my recent interaction hadn't done much to improve the stereotype of homeschoolers as being socially awkward or weird. So, fellow homeschoolers, sorry for perpetuating that one.

Like I said, my experience at the grocery store should have been my first indication that this project was destined to be strange.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How to Change the World

“To do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness”

- Joseph F. Smith


This morning I got an email informing me that my favorite teacher passed away last night.

Mr. K was my High School journalism teacher. He was grumpy as a bear and sharp as a snapping turtle, and I think scared the pants off half the student body. He proudly called himself a curmudgeon, and the word fit him perfectly. Yet underneath his hard exterior was an incredible man, who cared deeply and passionately about many things. He loved to teach and loved to see his students succeed. He wasn't afraid to be honest and you knew that if he gave you praise it was because you deserved it.

It was a common practice in class for him to take some one's essay or news article and project it on the board and then go through and show what was wrong with it and what the person could have done better, as well as show what they did well. The name of the essayist was never announced, but you could always tell whose essay it was by who was slouched down the deepest in their chair or whose face was a flaming color of red.  I'll never forget the first day he tore apart some of my writing.  I wanted to sink into a hole and disappear, but afterward I resolved I was going to be a better writer so that next time there wouldn't be so much for him to critique-- and I did. I got much better,  and learned to accept criticism with grace, most of the time.

My senior year I became the editor of the school newspaper, a job I completely loved, and spent alot of time in the journalism room. Mr. K and I became  good friends and spent hours having conversations about politics, books, history, science, philosophy, Greek, and just about everything else. One of our favorite things was to recommend books to each other, and I have quite a collection on my bookshelf of books he suggested.  In fact, at my wedding reception he signed my guest book by simply writing the name of a new author he thought I'd like with his name underneath.

It was a blessing that several weeks ago a friend informed me that Mr. K's health was deteriorating fast. I knew I needed to write him a note to express how grateful I was for his influence in my life. As I sat down to write I realized there are many things in my life I can trace back to the influence of Mr. K. I won't bore you by listing them all, but just know that his influence in my life was powerful. For example, to this day, I never publish a piece of writing without imaging it projected up on the board of the journalism room and thinking, "What would Mr. K say about this one." 

Monday, February 2, 2015

"A Call for the Restoration of True Feminism" by Carolina Sagebin Allen

Up until about 7 or 8 years ago I proudly called myself a feminist.  Ever since I can remember there has been a passion and fire in my heart for women and women's issues that at times seems like a raging inferno. I remember standing in front of a statue of Venus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and openly weeping because I was so overcome with how beautiful she was, but more than that... how beautiful ALL women are. I didn't know any other word to use that described my passion and so I eagerly grabbed on to the term "feminism".

Then I went to college and I started to really study feminist writings  and even attended several international conferences where feminist scholars were in the majority, and what I heard made me sad. I began to see that most of the feminist women (even the old dead ones) didn't believe what I did. They had pieces of truth about women, but it was corrupted and twisted. I knew deep in my heart that what they were seeking after wasn't really going to bring women happiness in the end.

So for a long time I've been hesitant to call myself a feminist because, even though I think that if you cut me open I'd bleed pink, I've never found a group of feminists who I thought represented anything I could get on board with. But a few weeks ago a friend invited me to join the Facebook group for BIG OCEAN WOMEN, a group of (mainly) LDS women who are traveling to the United Nations (UN) to represent women of faith and to present a new (actually, the oldest ) form of feminism, one that isn't just a passing wave but the BIG OCEAN, the whole picture of  what will truly empower women throughout the earth.

I am so excited about this project, and hope that in the future I'll be able to go with them to the UN. But for now I want to share (with her permission) the story of Carolina Allen, the founder of Big Ocean Women, and what her vision is. Her story is similar to mine and when I read this the first time it made me cry, because it spoke to my heart so strongly.

This is the type of feminism I can rally around.

"A Call for the Restoration of True Feminism"  
by Carolina Sagebin Allen

From a young age I felt in my bones I was part of a vast ocean of women who had something unique and valuable to offer the world. Instinctively, I felt that being a girl was something special because I knew I was a daughter of God.

When I heard the term "feminism" as a youth, I claimed it. I liked the word; it spoke of my female power and influence. In my mind, feminism was spiritually infused. It had little to do with "sameness" and everything to do with "uniqueness." To me, women were inherently powerful, independent of external factors.

Throughout the years, I had cultivated this concept of feminism, what I like to think of as 'true feminism.' Because of this identity, the framework of oppression and disadvantage was foreign to me. Rather, I was lifted up, edified and strengthened. I was confident I could lift others because of the understanding that God’s power naturally rushed within me.

As time passed, I had no serious cause to doubt my true feminism.