Years ago, the first time I lived in Albuquerque, I took a class and learned how to make pysanky*, Ukrainian Easter eggs.
This was back in the days before Hobby Lobby. I’d noticed a small craft store on San Mateo, between the wig shop and the scuba shop, or maybe the craft shop used to be where the scuba shop is now.
Anyway, that was a long time ago and the shop is long gone now, but they held unusual classes, such as the Ukrainian egg decoration. I signed up.
We started with raw eggs. The idea was to begin the process with the lightest color in the design and cover it up with wax. We used a stylus-type utensil and clear wax to draw over any part of the egg that was to remain white.
Next, we dyed the egg the second-lightest color, often yellow. As with the white, we used the wax stylus to make any designs that were to remain yellow. And so forth. The process went on, going from the lightest color to the darkest and covering up more and more of the egg with wax, until we had completed our designs.
I ended up with two lovely eggs. One was a simple design, a turquoise blue with white squiggles and flowers. The other was more elaborate. I’d used the wax stylus to make layers of white, yellow, red, and black on the egg.
Concerned about the eggs rotting, I’d asked the teacher about how to preserve them. She said that, over time, the liquids would dry up and become a powder inside the egg. They would be delicate, but could last indefinitely.
I placed them in a high cupboard in the laundry room, where they would be safe and protected from my curious toddlers’ fingers.
Around this time, my son Phillip had a babysitter named Marie. She was a kindly, grandmotherly type. Phillip liked her and she seemed good with him.
As nice as Marie was, she had a fatal flaw. She couldn’t resist trying to organize my belongings. At the time, we were renting a three-bedroom house. The third bedroom was a spare and I used it to store any and all items that I hadn’t gotten around to unpacking.
One day, when I came home, I found Marie in the extra bedroom, pawing through a box. “What are you doing?” I asked her.
“Well, you’ve had these boxes in here ever since I started coming to babysit. I thought I’d unpack them for you.” Not only had she unpacked most of the boxes, she’d taken it upon herself to put things away where she saw fit.
I told her that I would unpack in my own, good time and asked her not to do it again. I told her that I’d hired her to watch Phillip, not unpack for me. “But he takes a nap while I’m here. I might as well keep busy.”
“No, no, no.” I emphatically told her to leave things alone, and she promised that she would.
I’m a fairly organized person, but Marie was a busybody. She thought she knew best where all my things should go, and she went through every drawer, closet, and cupboard, even the one way up high in the laundry room where I’d stashed the pysanky eggs.
I didn’t miss them immediately, but one day when I checked on them, they were gone.
I questioned Marie about it, and she told me that she’d been cleaning out the cupboard. When she saw the eggs, she reached in to grab one. Apparently, her finger went through the shell and the powder fell out. She threw it away.
Then, for good measure, she threw out the second one. “Honey, them eggs was going to go bad,” she told me.
That was the final straw. Meddling Marie had to go. She seemed genuinely bewildered when I told her not to come back.
I don’t have any photos of my pysanka eggs, but one was a simpler version of the blue and white one at the top of the photo and the other was red, yellow, and black like the one to the right of it.
*Photo by Mizikar on Pixabay