Is this planet earth?

For those of you who know me, you know I live in Utah. And when you think of Utah you probably think of all of the beautiful National Parks and recreation opportunities, Park City and Sundance Film Festival. Oh wait, I almost forgot. Mormons.

Firstly I have to defend the state which I live and it's dominant religion and say that it has created a really, really great place to raise a family. Overall the crime rate is low, most activities or festivals are kid friendly. And I like living here. Honestly, I can usually overlook the annoyance that comes with living in a very religious state. I mean, Utah isn't the only one. There are others whose laws are heavily influenced by the dominant religion, but it doesn't seem that they bleed their religiosity from every pore of their being.

Last night I was out with my family having dinner at a The Union Grill and afterward we went to Farr's Ice Cream. For those of you familiar with Ogden, you know this is a mainstay of town. Particularly on hot summer nights. It attracts all kinds of people - families, kids on dates and old people but there is one thing you can always count on.....Temple Workers. You can spot them (and yes I mean them in that sort of way) from a mile away. The Ogden LDS Temple is right across the street from Farr's Ice Cream so they often walk over and have some ice cream. It is a wholesome activity after all.

While we were there a car load of middle aged men pulled up wearing slacks and ties. I said to Thom, "Here they come. Watch for the carload of teenage girls followed by the carload of teenage boys." Sure enough, not more than a minute later the girls arrived followed by the boys. They all got out, looking so prim and proper, wearing their Sunday best. They were having an ice cream treat after completing their temple work. Baptisms for the dead, by proxy.

You might ask, "how do you baptize people after they are dead?"

This is not a short explanation. You have been warned.

A lot of people are interested in genealogy, family history etc but Mormons are REALLY interested in it. Not just to know who their ancestors were but in order to do temple work for them from beyond the grave. Spooky, isn't it?

After the list of ancestors has been compiled the names find their way into "the church" records and all different kinds of temple work is done for them, by proxy. In most other states (or countries) when you say, the church, it usually refers to the Roman Catholic Church or even the Church of England. In Utah, when you say "the church" you can bet your bottom dollar they are referring to the Mormon Church.

So on to the process. The list of names is prepared, young men and women don their Sunday best, climb into the suburban (the 'burb) and head downtown to the local temple. They go into the locker room and change into the sacred white temple garments (and I'm not referring to THE garments, these are reserved for those who have obtained a temple recommend and have taken out their "endowments") and line up outside of the baptismal font. One by one they take their turn being baptized, by proxy, 20-50 times depending on the number of people waiting in "paradise" for the opportunity to be Mormon.

The prayer is said, your entire body is immersed in the water, you come up for air and start over again with the next name on the list. There is a teleprompter with the prayer and the names. It's all very bizarre and cult-like.

Personally I find it creepy that some middle aged guy stands around in a pool of water all day playing "wet t-shirt contest" with a bunch of teen aged kids. Just feels weird to me.

I don't have any details about temple work aside from Baptisms for the dead because this is the only thing I have ever participated in. And in my defense, I did it, not because I felt some kind of holy responsibility to do it, but because when you are a 14 year old girl living in a Mormon state, being raised Mormon, it's what you do. And this is the sad thing. Luckily I had my mind about me enough not to be duped by the rhetoric, not everyone is as lucky as me. Most kids who are raised Mormon, die Mormon. It's the sad truth. And I think a large number or Mormons, stay Mormon, not because they really to believe it is "the one true church," but because they are terrified to do anything about it. The stigma of "falling away" is great here.

Personally, if I believed there was a heaven and I was waiting for rapture or the end of the world and someone on Earth tried baptizing me into a religion I didn't want to be a part of, I'd be pissed. And God would hear about it!

Sometimes our taxes are for the common good

The city where I live instituted a sales tax increase several years ago to benefit the arts and recreational activities. While I am never a fan of tax increases, this one has been extraordinarily beneficial for everyone.

My daughter is currently attending a week long Theater Camp at The Treehouse Museum. Free thanks to our R.A.M.P. tax. She is playing the part of Ostrich #1 and has 3 lines. She is having so much fun and learning a lot about the theater; what it takes to put on a play, sets, costumes, rehearsals etc.

Friday night they will be putting on their play for the public. We can't wait.

One reason I really like the internet

I am always baffled at the number of creative, inspiring women I have "discovered" since Al Gore invented the internet.

Some blogs like Sew Liberated, Wise Craft and Dooce I visit daily. Others like Angry Chicken, House on Hill Road (which I actually haven't been able to view for a while now and it makes me sad) and Vegan Lunchbox I visit weekly.

Another blog that keeps me laughing is A Slap in the Face written by my good friend. I need more hours in my day to keep up with my blog reading.

Congratulations ladies on your wonderfully inspiring work. I someday hope to be in your ranks.

A word about Floyd

My daughter and I went to Liberty Park this morning before the crowds arrived and the weather turned bad. We were sitting on the tire swing together when I spotted a man limping across the grass. At first glance he seemed completely average, aside from his limp. As he slowly approached I could see a small child in his arms. How sweet, I thought, he's bringing his baby to the park. When he was about 10 feet away, I realized his baby was actually a baby doll and that he wasn't simply average, but mentally handicapped in some way.

My daughter noticed it too and said, "why is that man carrying a doll?" I replied to her, "he must really like that doll a lot so he is bringing it to the park."

He passed us without a word and we watched him walk to the "baby" swings where he gently placed his baby, put down his bag and proceeded to push it. He pushed the swing for a moment before he stopped, readjusted his baby and continued pushing the swing for about 5 more minutes. How sad, I thought. Not only did I think it but those words came out of my mouth. My daughter, who is seven replied, "I see what you mean."

My heart was so heavy watching him push that doll as if it were a living child. What must he go through each day? What struggles does he have? Does he have someone to care for him as gently as he is caring for that doll? And then I wondered if I even had the right feeling that way. Perhaps he is perfectly happy with himself. Does he even know that he is different? He seemed happy pushing the doll in the swing.

Is it okay to feel sympathy toward someone who doesn't even realize that he deserves the sympathy of others?

Ether Binge

Newspaper Headline Reads: Murder Weapons found: empty ether bottle and pestle to blame.

Seriously, I'm not sure what I did in my previous life to deserve my current co-workers, but it must have been really bad. There is one in particular, whose name shall remain secret, not to protect the innocent but because just the mention of his/her name sends a rush of anger through my veins.

Today he/she was using ether (keeping in mind I work in a lab and the use of ether is common) out in the open air. Not in the hood where it belongs but out on his/her bench top where it was free to taint the air in the entire lab. I don't know if I am unique in my extreme sensitivity to ether or not, but within minutes I had a raging headache and mood to match. Not only does ether smell bad and give me a headache, but it is a known carcinogen. After being told to take the ether in the hood where it belongs, he/she continued to use it on his/her bench top which is where it is currently sitting.

Prior to the bench top use of said chemical, my co-worker threw one empty bottle into the garbage without, I repeat WITHOUT, letting it air out in the hood. For all of the non-science people who are reading this, and I'm sure there are thousands since it is so popular, a hood is an area that has airflow that carries the dangerous fumes out of the building without them circulating around the lab.

Me: "hey (insert name here) you need to let the ether bottle dry out completely in the hood before you throw it away."
He/She: "it's just ether"
Me: "it needs to dry out first."
He/She: "it's just ether"
Me: "I'm well aware of that. Are you aware that it is explosive and if it were to be crushed in the garbage truck it could explode?"
He/She: "It's just ether"

Say ether one more time.

Perhaps he/she had already huffed too much of said ether and was already too woozy to function properly. By this logic though, he/she needs to be huffing it every day.

How many cookbooks is too many?

Hello, my name is Amity and I am a cookbook addict.

Specifically, vegetarian and vegan cookbooks. I'm sure there are people out there with far more cookbooks than I have in my collection but I'd say my collection is pretty large. The cookbook (and education) section is the first I visit when I go to the library or the bookstore. Luckily, my local library has a fairly large vegetarian cooking section and what they don't have, I can browse at my local bookstore.

I would have to say that the most used cookbook in my collection is one that my sister gifted me about 15 years ago. It is 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles.

It contains recipes that are simple, straight forward and delicious. I don't think that I have had a recipe come out poorly. Of course I have pretty simple tastes and don't need anything overly sophisticated to please my palate. The ingredients required are not "exotic" and are easily found at most well-stocked supermarkets. I would recommend this cookbook to anyone who is a long-time vegetarian, new vegetarian, transistioning from an omnivourous diet or simply wants a change from your Betty Crocker cookbook.

I made the Current Scones a couple of days ago and they came out beautifully moist and delicious. Check back tomorrow for the recipe.

Thank you for rejecting me?

Saturday morning I submitted my cover letter, resume and application to the director of the Maria Montessori Academy.

I recieved an email from her today thanking me for my time, but that they weren't currently hiring. I'm not sure how to interpret this email. Is it the standard brush off because I'm not qualified? Is it sincere and simply stating facts, that they really aren't hiring right now (which I knew because the property for the school has not been purchased yet)? Do I send a "Thank you for rejecting me" letter? Have I actually been rejected?

I really didn't expect a "Your Hired!" response. I did, however, expect more information regarding the training for the certification in order to become qualified to teach in a Montessori classroom. I guess I'm taking the email a little harder than I thought I would, considering I'm not even sure what it means. I've been thinking about it a lot since I made the decision to pick up the phone and call the director. It was a big step for me, but once I did it I realized that it was what I want to be doing.

I am currently reading a book called, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. It outlines the Montessori method and philosophy in pretty great detail, with examples of how some materials are to be used and the objective behind those particular materials. Although the information is complex, it is presented in a way that is easy to read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has a child in a Montessori school, is considering a Montessori school or is curious just how children in a Montessori school are educated. After reading only the first three chapters, I have realized how similar my philosophy of education is to Maria Montessori which I guess is a good thing since my daughter attends a Montessori school.