Friday, February 27, 2009

Issue 40

Way to go Whitney!

It's official, the report card arrived this week. Whitney's hard work and determination paid off with a perfect 4.0 report card. She scored five A's and four A+'s as a result of her extra credit projects. All A's was a goal she set for herself and we're proud of the way she went for it. I met with all of her teachers this week who told me she was fabulous student and they love the way she really owns her education. Of course I knew that already, but it's fun to hear anyway.

Liberty Girls by Janey

In the book Kit Learns a Lesson, Kit's Dad lost his job and he might need to go to a different state to try to find a job. She doesn't want her dad to move to a different state. Kit likes to write newspapers for her Dad and I wrote a newspaper for my dad. Her it is:

Janey’s 1st Newspaper!

Today we made some bread. Steve and Daniel played a game on February 25th. I went to Liberty Girls yesterday. We played some jump rope while girls were coming and then we came in and I said the prayer and another girl did the pledge of allegiance. Then we made some clay stuff (see picture of one at the bottom of the page.) Then we had our snack and then we had another activity, but I forgot what that was. And then my Mom picked me up and we went home and had dinner. My Mom left to go to a wedding shower, and while she was there we watched a movie and then she came home and we went to bed. Then we woke up and I wrote this newspaper.

What I want for my birthday is a girl gerbil, and some food for the gerbil and some bedding, a little playhouse for the gerbil, and a cage and a padlock. I want a padlock to keep Ellie from squishing the gerbil. And I also want a new coat for the next winter. And I want 2 surprise presents. I want to have a friend party and invite Alex, Kelsey, Autumn, Elizabeth and Abby and Zealand, Jackson and Savanna and Alyssa. At the party we are going to play pin the tail on the donkey, hopscotch, (and for another present I want some chalk), and we are going to have balloons at the party, and a piñata, and a pink frosting cake. And everyone can make two small frosting cookies to take home. And then we are going to play hide and go seek tag and then were going to play up in my room and then we are going to play outside. Then we are going to have cake and then presents and then people are going to draw what’s their favorite animal. And that’s the end of the Newspaper.

Shen by Whitney

(Note by Mom: One of Whitney's extra credit school projects was a 32 page paper she wrote compairing and contrasting 6 different ancient religions. As a portion of each section she wrote a short story from the point of view of someone practicing that religion. This story is from the Egyptian section of her paper.)

Shen walked a measured step across the hot earth towards the temple of Bast. It had been his coming of age day last week, and now that he was fourteen it was time for him to be fully immersed in what would be his future profession. He looked over to his left, where Umara, both his mentor and father, walked. Umara was dressed in a white plaited kilt, and carried a satchel of rare and expensive spices at his side. His head had been shaved, and he wore a white cloth on his head. Umara was a priest, an embalmer to be precise, and one of the best. An embalmer’s job is to mummify the bodies of the deceased so they would last as long as possible in the after-life.

Shen shivered with excitement, today would be the first time he would be able to help in the mummifying process. Moreover, it was not just anyone, he would have the supreme honor of helping preserve the body of a god! The Pharaoh had died two days earlier, and his family had finished mourning. Only the most skillful were being employed to help prepare the king’s body for the after-life, and his father was one of them.

Shen and his father had reached a large stone wall that surrounded the mummifying workshop. It was close to the temple of the gods for holiness, but not so close that it would contaminate the holy shrine. Umara walked up to the hefty wooden gate and called up to the sentry. As the heavy door swung inwards, father and son walked into the large-many roomed building ahead of them. They passed different rooms where other bodies where being mummified, priests where chanting prayers, the coffin maker’s room, storage rooms with huge vats of natron where the bodies where covered to dry for a month. Rooms with scribes who kept track of which bodies where at what stages, and more.

Then they came to the room where they would be working in. There was a low wooden table in the middle of the room. By the table where large bowls, an array of sharp obsidian knifes and other tools, and a set of canopic jars. Each of the four clay jars had the head of a different god on the top. These where the guardians for the important organs that would be placed in the jars for preservation purposes. Also in the room where two priests with leopard skins draped down their backs and prayer scrolls in hand. There was also another embalmer who was lighting many dishes of incense, whose heavily fragrant smoke encompassed the room. And, in the corner, stood a scribe, ready to record the proceedings.

Everyone hushed as two men walked into the room with a large bundle of blankets on their shoulders. They reverently laid it on the table and backed out of the room. Then another man walked in. Everyone present instinctively pressed against the walls, but not in respect, as Shen realized. He could tell from the newcomer’s clothes that he was a cutter. The man who actually removed the organs from the body. His job was considered unclean and everyone, for fear of being “contaminated,” avoided him. The cutter walked up to the bundle of blankets, and unwrapped them to reveal the body of the Pharaoh. As the corpse was uncovered, Shen was thankful that the incense blocked most of the smell that permeated the room. The cutter reached for a stout, copper, hook shaped tool, and unceremoniously shoved it up the body’s nose, and well into the brain cavity. This done, the tool was successively jerked around until the brain was liquid enough to pour out of the nasal passages and into a bowl, which was then discarded.

Shen kept a forced strait face through this, but his countenance tinged a definite green when the cutter reached for an obsidian blade and sliced open the side of the body, catching the gush of organs that flowed out of the abominable cavity in a large wooden bowl. Shen hurriedly excused himself and staggered over to a bush were he promptly emptied his breakfast of figs and honey cakes into the dense shrubbery.

By the time he unsteadily walked into the room again, the cutter had separated the “important” organs that would be saved, and discarded the rest. He had washed out the cavities, now empty, and had also removed the most important organ, (the heart) through a cavity in the chest.
“It is time.” Said Shen’s father, as he put on a wooden mask that resembled the god Anubis’s face.

Shen walked to the body, holding a large bowl full of the rare spices. He and his father proceeded to fill the body with spices, using tongs to stuff the herbs in the body, and then stitched it up. For poorer people, sawdust was used as stuffing, but only the best for the Pharaoh! When the incisions where sewn up, the body was carried into the drying room and packed in a vat of natron salt. It would remain there for about forty days. The entire mummification process took about seventy days, but thirty of them where used for religious purposes.

On the day of the funeral, the body had sufficiently dried. It was taken out and covered with pine resin. Then Shen and his father, all the while murmuring prayers to the gods, took long strips of fine linen, and wrapped the body. As they wrapped, they tucked in costly and valuable amulets and charms for luck between the folds of cloth, all designed to protect the king in the after life. Then a gold mask, designed to resemble the king’s face, was placed on the head. The mummy was then placed in a coffin, that to Shen’s astonishment, was made of pure gold, and weighed about 200 pounds! Then with many grunts and groans, this was then loaded into a second coffin that was carved of wood, and covered with gold foil. This in turn was loaded into the last coffin, and was then loaded onto an awaiting stretcher. Eight priests hoisted it onto their shoulders and walked out of doors.

As they walked through the heavy doors in the stone wall, they were greeted by a crowd of people, all dressed in their best and smeared in mud as a sign of mourning. The heavy-laden priests walked in the direction of the near by Nile river, and the entire procession fell into place. Behind leopard-robed priests chanting prayers to the gods, came the lower priests, leading bulls that where to be sacrificed, then the coffin bearers followed by the crowd. When they reached the banks of the Nile, the coffin bearers walked onto the awaiting funeral boat and began the voyage to the tomb. As Shen stood on the side of the ship, he watched the mourners following the ship along the bank, some helping to pull it along with ropes. He drew in a deep breath and faced south. The red light of the sunset reflected on the water, illuminating the sides of the ship with an almost unearthly red glow. How appropriate, thought Shen, this voyage does represent the sun’s journey across the heavens, does it not?