The Portland Family Brownie Pan

Glaze Under Fire

One of my former bosses recognized even before I did that being a single parent wasn’t a picnic.  She offered to brighten our weekend with a trip to a paint-your-own-pottery palooza.  After the first visit, my sons tapped into their creative juices at least once a year, and I occasionally spent an “Adults Only” Saturday night with a glass of wine and a tray of paints.  In a time when I hustled from work to day care to home to school to appointments, I enjoyed the slow pace of painting smooth lines, brilliant colors, and relaxing background music.  Bob Ross couldn’t have made the experience more tranquil.

My boys may be grown and out of the house, but I still cherish the plates they painted all those years ago.  There’s the set of plates with rockets and swords and forests, and the trio of ceramic tiles in yellow, orange, and green, a votive candle holder with playful adjectives, and once we even were asked to create items to display in the shop.  We’d always seek them out when we came to paint, and even today, we can turn one of our creations over and see the Glaze Under Fire sticker, as well as the date we painted and created each ceramic memory.  I hand wash them.  They never get placed in the microwave, and they are wrapped with care during each move over the years.

Tut, Chuck, and Fractured Memories

On one of the wine-and-paint nights, I bring a quarter of a four-pack of mini Zinfandel (pre-refined palette) and create a nine-inch square pan. Typically, I try to think ahead about what I’d like to paint so I don’t dawdle with the browsing portion of the evening, but rather get straight to work on my design.  Tonight is no exception, and I know what I want to create, so I settle down at a high boy, and begin to illustrate individual memories from moments of our family history: our visit to the King Tut exhibit, lava lamps, corkscrews, percussion, and Chuck Taylor’s in a bright shade of yellow.  The text in the bed of the pan also reminds users, “Don’t forget to use the brownie spoon.”

Whether the namesake brownies or even a batch of frequently requested birthday fudge, the pan performed admirably until one fateful move.  With a small tube of magic glue, the ceramic shards get patched, but without the missing bits, the weakened shell can never again withstand high oven temperatures rendering the one-of-a-kind creation decorative only.  I try to ignore the symbolism of fragmentation here in my empty nest, and when I successfully halt the mental comparisons, I just end up craving chocolate brownies.

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