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 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.

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