Thursday, April 16, 2009

Searching for the Elusive Purple Easter Egg

Have you ever done something that went so terribly wrong you passed beyond dismay into the realm of “My God, I have to keep going to see how truly bad this can get”?

That happened to me this past weekend over a purple Easter egg. Well, I wanted it to be purple. For the better part of my life I have wondered why there were no purple Easter eggs — and yes, I was a strange kid. We would get the PAAS egg-coloring kit (sometimes the fancy ones, sometimes the basic 5-color) and go to town, but Purple never worked. Red worked… Okay, Pink worked, and Blue worked, but Purple was more like Pink strangled Blue and left Evidence of the Crime. Purple was never truly, you know, “purple,” like a grape or an amethyst. It was Pink vs. Blue on a boiled egg.

My sister tells me that PAAS has really branched out since we were tots and that they do in fact have Purple. I’m not so sure, and I submit as evidence a close up of her children dyeing eggs (I’d show you the kids but they’re so revoltingly cute you’d never notice the eggs).

I see many lovely shades of Blue. I do not see Purple.

This bothers me on a deep, philosophical level. Scientifically, it should work; In both additive and subtractive color spaces, Purple is the combination of Red and Blue. Surely a Red dye with a few drops of Blue, or a Blue dye with a few drops of Red, should be somewhere in the ball-park?

All right, look — here are two lovely eggs. Believe it or not, they’re brown eggs. I used your basic grocery store food dye and made a nice coral color and a spring green.

And look at this. I’m being honest here, no Photoshop tricks. Is this not a purple dye? Dare I say, violaceous, even purplescent?

So what is this? Two Easter eggs and an eight ball?

Here’s a lovely shot; you can really see the striping effect. Makes it look like a slightly ominous melon, lurking, while two sweet Easter eggs unsuspectingly frolic about. (Dare I say it also looks like a more colorful re-enactment of the “before” stage in a Zoloft commercial?)

I think the second the egg hit the water I knew it wasn’t going to work, and yet, I couldn’t stop the process. I think I hoped by sheer saturation of color that something might happen. Being a brown egg certainly didn’t help matters, but it doesn’t explain the disaster completely. Why doesn’t mixing red and blue dye work? What causes the inevitable streaking seen even in my PAAS days? The result looked like the black jellybean that nobody wants to eat.

Back in college I had some Greek friends who celebrated Easter according to the Orthodox calendar. In Greece they dye all their eggs red, to represent the drops of blood Christ shed on the Cross (it’s also the color that represents Life and Renewal, I think). When they got hold of the red dye from a PAAS kit, they were horrified, truly upset. “They’re pink!” they wailed, “We can’t use pink eggs!” I’m not sure what they eventually did, but I feel for them now.

I set the Fugly Egg it out on the coffee table to contemplate. The other two were eventually eaten, but this one remained, so maybe there is an up-side to being dyed an awful color. In better light it actually looked navy blue. Sort of. I have since found out that if you want blood-red eggs, you make a dye from yellow onion skins. I am contemplating possibilities for next year, and I am seeing purple onions and cabbages in my future.

I will succeed, or I will take Bad to a whole new level.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hanami, Cherry-blossom Viewing

In the previous post I mentioned the Japanese concept of hanami, or cherry-blossom viewing. If you've never seen a flowering cherry tree then you must surely wonder what the big deal is.

Yesterday I went out and had my own blossom-viewing party. This is the result (click on any of the images to see it in a larger view).

These are lovely photos, but I'm not sure photos can really capture the experience of a sunny crisp day, Spring awakening, tiny petals falling in the wind...

If you'd like to see some images from Japan, try Tokyo Times or Kirai.

It is a very short moment in Spring -- a few days at most -- and this is why it is so beautiful. Like Life, the flowers of the cherry tree are precious because they are fleeting.

Okay, that's enough introspection. Go outside and play in the dirt.