Bedroom door

19/08/2017

 

Door2This family. Open and close. My round, brass knob has lost its shine from all the hands – large and small – that have grasped me sometimes gently, others with uninhibited force. Children with the dirt of outdoor play or squeakily fresh from the evening baths – all I have felt as they have worn away at my golden brilliance. And those hands of teenage boys. Their fresh scents of testosterone and pheromones. They too have embraced me with their adolescent passion for sports and burgeoning loves.

But it is the woman’s hands. She, my only gentle touch. Clearing away my gauzy curtain, she lovingly washes me clean with care and deliberate pause at each of my fifteen panes. Ah, you see, I am French. I recognize love. It is she who loves to throw me open wide. This is her invitation to the family; she is at the ready for her family, even within the sanctity of this bedroom. She is the balance to the man’s hands. He, always closing me to keep his private counsel whether in muted conversations, in love with this woman, or alone with his dreams and fears.

Yet, I am no sentimental fool. My gift to you, you who reside within my boundary is this – I bear witness. Rarely has my soft pine frame been slammed in anger, yet I have seen pain, fevers, and heartache come and go across my threshold. I, the sentinel, have witnessed all and have kept my silence. I have done what is required with a steadfast heart.

The summer breezes brush against my frame. I sigh with a bittersweet and slight sway. I have seen and felt children growing into young men, and a young couple into an old one.


 

Despite the dark corner, I stand tall and proud.  Strength. Patience. Potent. The passage of time does not diminish me. I know my worth. I, who have negotiated for those ransomed by offering myself in exchange for those of lesser value, know the game of waiting . Long ago, I was sought after across continents and even cherished. Yet, time does not diminish me. I have never felt the loss like so many others as they vie for daily accolades. Now, relegated to an occasional glance or tentative embrace, I retain my power.

Do not be misled by my playfulness as I dance and weave among partners. Teasing you with my bawdy behavior, I fool you into thinking that you are more than you appear to be. Taste my lips. I manipulate this masquerade of intimacy all too easily for such a guileless novice as you. I can just as easily slip through your fingers as the white sands in the hourglass turn and descend to their nadir. Turn on me, if you dare. I will bite you. Burn you. Fervor will be my calling card.

I am indifferent to your years of thoughtlessness. Neglect me. I am not diminished. I wait. You will need me. Know this to be my truth. And when I come to you – when the door is thrown open and ambient light illuminates all that is before you, when the dark places are no longer my home, prepare to take the bitter with the sweet.


Mould

 

This writing is my nod to white pepper. It holds meaning in our family, and though I anthropomorphize it, I delight in its occasional use. My husband’s grandfather was a thirteen year old, Flemish lad and a baker’s apprentice who emigrated from Belgium to the United States in the early 1900s. He brought with him the mould you see here for speculoos cookies which was used to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6.  

My mother-in-law shared the recipe with me, which has now been lost or perhaps, misplaced. But, I remember a key ingredient, one which my family of origin never used for any purpose, is white pepper. A lone container of the spice has sat in the back of our cupboard for decades just waiting for us, to every so often, bring it out from its obscurity to limited fame.

Below I am including two links, one for speculoos and the other for a variety of foods elevating this ground berry to quotidian status:

 

Speculoos cookies  (This is a Dutch recipe, but close to my memory of the family’s list of ingredients)

 

White Pepper recipes  (choose from among 2212 options)
Smakelijk!

The Thief

25/07/2017

thief

 

 

The Thief

Utter sadness envelops me.

Illness is stealing the life you imagined

in unimaginable ways.

Distance. Friendship. Days through weeks

dissipate with each memory carried.

Days to weeks. Memories.

All I can carry, now. And, heartache, for you,

my friend.


Written for a friend who has a special place in my heart where time & distance do not dare enter to lessen the many decades of shared friendship.

The Small lie

11/07/2017

Grey2

a study in greys with gouache – TH

The vaulted ceiling is heavy with plaster and ornamentation. Chandeliers of weathered brass and milk-glass are unsettling to eyes raised upward; covert glances look for angels. My slight, seven-year old frame carries the full length of the mandatory, green, wool uniform, dense with the weight of uncharted heavenly canopies. Feet tread lightly against the cold tile floors to muffle echoes. Afraid to disturb the gods. Reverence is assumed, but it is reluctance.

The dark walnut doorway is designed to meld into the walls lined with bas-relief stages of the Crucifixion. Suffering and sacrifice. I accept this story, but, it is the art that arouses my curiosity. Already, I am firm in my own world view. Sin, the black mark on the milk bottle of countless catechism does not enter the ideology of the young. It has no place. Not here.

Read the rest of this entry »

No escape

09/07/2017

“But there’s respect there, one for the other-always among enemies when they’re strong.  And these men with their businesses have enemies all over the place” (60).

I read for pleasure. I read to escape. The “Maisie Dobbs” series by Jacqueline Winspear, is one of my preferred mystery choices for a variety of reasons (I will spare you from my personal biases and prejudices, today, on this front anyway).

Also, I read out of order with series. I read what is readily available. This title was one – discounted at my local bookstore. Who could refuse?  Not I.  Imagine my surprise when I came across some of the dialogue and it sucked me right back into our 2017 politics, at home and globally? I will let you, dear reader, make comparisons, but to me they are obvious. I do not think the author intended this, as the title was put to press long before our presidential election and subsequent tumultuous events centering on hubris and dictators. Nevertheless, here it is. Was she prescient, this Ms. Winspear? Artists are often in tune with the unconscious of society or so it seems to me with my somewhat limited but intense direct experiences. I will brook no argument here; it is personal opinion.

journey-to-munich-225Escape did not come with this title. However, what did surface was this – a reminder that we, as animals, all have this: “…she felt the nape of her neck prickle, as if someone had run a feather across her skin” (7). This behavioral response comes with feeling a threat. The parallels are rooted in biology. The “noise” of tweets, newscasts, online forums cannot compete with the holistic mind/body response. I did not escape with this title.

“The man who was now chancellor took advantage of the situation, his rhetoric mirroring the temper of the times, reflecting the mood of the people and milking it for all it was worth…the crowd devoured every word, more inebriated with drink and hyperbole as the minutes passed…” (96).


Winpsear, Jacqueline. Journey To Munich. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016. Print.

Hope & the husband

05/07/2017

The 4th of July. Every year my husband hangs our flag.  He never wavers with this appreciation of our democracy – despite all the years as an adult whether it was through the Vietnam era in our young adulthood with vociferous protests against the war and the immorality of Watergate, or the myriad slippery and evasive shenanigans during the Clinton era – he is an American. Does this mean he follows blindly? No. He is most certainly disputatious on every aspect of a political move by anyone. Facts. He is grounded in the facts. He is moral. He is fair. Oftimes, I wish he was THE president.

Mike2

I, who could turn tail and run with outstreached arms through the maple-lined avenues of Canada today, stand in awe of him. His steadfastness is my beacon. It gives me hope.

 

 

“The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks. The high downs which invited them from almost every window of the cottage to seek the exquisite enjoyment of air on their summits, were a happy alternative when the dirt of the valleys beneath shut up their superior beauties…”

 reflection

My inner Austen emerged today from its deeply buried cavern. One submerged by the rocks of diligence, lo! these twenty years past. Yet, I am already “off-topic.” All this to say, I took a walk. A walk alongside a somewhat meandering path. Near this very path, there is a black-top, a two-lane road, which parallels the woodland. It is here, with the windshield before my eyes, my view is often filtered. I am one step removed from the visceral experience nature offers generously.

Today was a different day. I accepted the gift of a walk.

ranculus

I set out doggedly, à pied, and with a broad swath of time before me. A visit to a friend where she is in the midst of joyfully creating her new life – a new one, at another end of the path. Along my way to her, this is what I found: sounds of birds – a flicker; a frog  croaking somewhere – unseen –  from a muddy pond;  creek water running over rocks furiously, and then, gently. This is what I viewed: a virescent canopy towering above me, its permutations burgeoning upward, the sun breaking through all this to illuminate ranunculus ficaria in all her abundant joy, and others with their dogs and those tails meteoric metronomes tracking only the sounds of their smells.

creek

This interlude, this remarkably simple choice gave me “the exquisite enjoyment of air.” Now, to re-read Miss Austen.

 

Dedicated the Friends of Sligo Creek, and of course, to my friend.


Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Project Gutenberg, 25 May 2008. Web. 4 June 2017. goo.gl/HrARBx.

Cleveland OH

01/04/2017

The thing about being a teacher-librarian is that your students are always in your thoughts. Regardless of where you are. Regardless of the calendar. Whether it reads “closed for Spring vacation” or not, there they are. Front and slightly off-center.

A brief drive to Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to “get away” proves no exception to my pronouncement. At the sight of artists’ hastily scribbled lyrics, notes, and even report cards, the only two words that popped into my head – visually I will add – are “primary documents.” Of course, the next hyperlinking thought went directly to my students – those lovable Bulldogs at St. Albans SchoolN.Young2.primary.jpg in Washington, D.C.

This is for you, my Bulldogs, young and even younger! Rock on.

Quiet visits

25/03/2017

garage3Some visits are quiet ones. The day is routine. Walking in any weather. Walking along the streets of a small town or the wide alleyways behind historic homes where even the garage curtains speak of a gentility. Big plates of pasta balanced on the laps of the three sisters, sitting on chairs and sofas. We are tucked in snugly on this chilly night. Mystery hour. It is about relationships. It is a slow story. One that takes time and nuance. So too, with my sisters and me. It is about relationship. Slowly moving through decades, through years of upheaval and years of the steady, almost imperceptible changes in each of us. It is a quiet visit. It is a visit that is full.

I return home, here, with sunny skies and warm breezes. Shy windflowers at my garden gate wave their greetings, faces filled with light. I am filled with thoughts of family as my key unlocks all that is before me.windflowers3.jpg

Walking home

18/03/2017

cup2

%d bloggers like this: