Wednesday, March 26, 2008

blog #070 >> Book of the Week: Bejeweled Eggs

I realize it's a little late to be posting the book of the week. Especially a book about decorating eggs. But this is the kitschiest-gaudiest guide ever to egg decorating. You know it's going to be a good book, when you open it, and realized the entire thing has been typed on a good old fashioned typewritter. I wish I had scanned the shrine to Mary on the back.

By Reynold & Ann Smith ©1971

Here's one of the eggs Martha decorated.

I got this book a long time ago. And it took me awhile to find it, hence the late posting. It came from a very old (meaning age and how long I've know her) friend. Her name was Martha. Martha Witzel that is, not to be confused with Stewart. And she was the maker of many fine bejeweled eggs. She lived down the street from us and was friends with my great-grandparents when they lived in our house. She even met her husband at the Swiss dance hall where my great-grandfather played accordion.

Growing up I used to go and clean house for her once a week. I earned the outstanding sum of $5 a week and cake (which I usually made myself.) Fortunately, her house wasn't very dirty so it never took me very long to clean it. She would even tear up little pieces of Kleenx and spread them around the carpeting so I'd have something to vacuum. I remember she had this really great vacuum and one day I told her, "This vacuum really sucks!" And she about had a heart-attack right there. So after the cleaning, getting the mail, baking a cake, taking things up stairs, taking out the trash, dishes, vacuuming and the mopping, which I always had to do on hands and knees because she didn't own a mop. We'd sit down and eat cake and pickles. She made the world's best pickles and took the recipe to her grave, although I asked her for it every week. And then after that, we'd watch People's Court.

I'm not sure she ever remembered my name, or at least she never remembered to call me by it. She just always called me "My Girl." And when I was older I'd drive her to the beauty parlor. (Where she'd dye her white hair grey.) Or we'd go to Safeway for groceries. And when we were there, we'd always buy more cake mix. (The one with nuts. Although, she didn't like nuts, and would always pick them out, we had to buy the one with nuts. Because it was the same price as the one without nuts, and it was a better deal.) I remember her frig was a breeding ground for food poisoning. When she wasn't looking, I'd go through it and throw out anything more than a month outdated, which was nearly everything. And then I'd carefully write down everything I threw out and the brand, and when I went up to Safeway for her, I'd buy new and slip it in the frig with the rest. I remember once I told her, "You can't keep cream cheese TWO YEARS past the expiration date." She just smiled and said, "But I haven't opened it yet." Oh, what would the girls at food 4H say about that!

I remember she had this old Wurlitzer organ in the living room and one day she had it in her head she wanted to hear some organ music. Somehow, I had let it slip that I used to play the piano. Before I knew it I was up in the attic digging around for old organ sheet music. I gave it my best shot... but you can't learn to play the organ in a day. And I couldn't find any simple sheet music, her husband was a fantastic organ player. And I couldn't have read the notes even if I had found simpler music. Reading notes was never my strong point. Well, she never asked to hear organ music again. But I wish she could hear me play the accordion now. She'd always ask me about "Little Frankie" meaning my dad, not my brother. And she'd ask, "Does he still play the accordion? "No," I'd say, "He doesn't." But she'd always forgot and ask again, and again...

Boy, could I tell you stories about Martha Witzel. Anyhow, she was an ornery old cuss, but I liked her. And she made really great eggs.

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