December 4, 2006
I went to the museum with the 4th graders the other day. This was a coveted field trip to chaperone. I had to arm-wrassle a couple of dinkier moms to get the gig. The 4th grade is studing the ancient Egyptians, all year long or at least until rehearsals start for The Fourth Grade Play. (Ancient Egypt is okay, but playing one of the 8 Charlottes or 10 Wilburs in Charlotte’s Web is awesome.) At this point, these 9-year-olds know more about ancient Egypt than most PhD Egyptologists have forgotten. This was their second of FOUR trips to the Met’s Egyptian collections.
Why the coveting of the chaperone slots? This particular tour was guided by the woman who curated the Hatshepsut exhibit. City kids may have a lot to put up with, in terms of not living in sweet-smelling places like Mayberry RFD and having backyards and such, but when they are studying Egypt, by cracky they are STUDYING EGYPT.
I left my charges unchaperoned for at least 10 minutes when I came across this:
On the left, we have two balls of fine linen yarn, handspun from flax at least 3500 years ago. On the right, we have various flax-working instruments, including a set of KnitPicks Options needles. (Oh just kidding! Everybody knows that 3500 years ago, all they had were Addis.)
This is why we want people to knit their prissy guest towels out of linen. It wears real well. You can’t beat it.
Most of the Met’s Egyptian artifacts relate to the rituals of death. But in this small, dark room related to the implements of daily life, they had all kinds of stuff to do with making flax into cloth. Making flax into cloth was a big deal.
Spindles. The state of the art has not changed so much.
Now, we’ve all heard of the affliction known as Stable: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.
If you’ve got a ball of Euroflax, you have Stamina: Stash Acquisition Millennia In Advance. Honest to Pete, that’s my own ball of Euroflax Originals Sportweight, in the color ‘natural’. Which, it turns out, really is natural. Same color it was 3500 years ago. Don’t mess with a good, reliable neutral. It looked good on the Egyptians, and it looks great on us today.
To illustrate my point about the kids today: When I was a kid, on our rare trips to the museum they didn’t let us draw pictures of what we saw. (All I can remember is marble halls and Conestoga wagons.) Needless to say, they didn’t let us lie down on the floor. These kids found a quiet corner, didn’t bug a soul, and studied and drew for a blessed half hour while the chaperones took a load off. I had a little pang when I came upon this scene. When I was 9, I would have loved to lie down in the museum and draw a picture.
HARK! A HOLIDAY THING!
We’ve gotten a few emails from people wanting to mail us books to sign and mail back, for themselves or for presents for people who like to get signed books for presents. It occurred to us that this would not be too efficient, given the lines at the Post Office this time of year. So, anybody who would like an ultra-cute signed bookplate, email me or Ann and we’ll mail you one and you can stick it in the book. (We don’t know what this bookplate looks like yet, but we are sure that it will be ultra-cute. ‘Cause if a thing is not ultra-cute, it is not worth doing. )