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Saturday, June 26, 2010


I had made a batch of pie crust dough for a photo shoot (the size of 3 cups of flour and 1 cup of fat). Obviously I didn't turn all of that into photo-shoot pinwheels, since even I have pinwheel limits. The remaining dough sat in the refrigerator, burning a hole in my stomach's pocket.


A big sign in the sky suddenly appeared, saying: "carrot pie." Carrot pie? What on earth was a carrot pie? Then I imagined a pie with a filling of roughly mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions, topped with concentric circles of thinly sliced carrots and sprinkled with cheese. Once the picture of this beautifully baked pie got into my head, I couldn't get rid of it.


So I made it. Lovely pie crust. Lovely mashed potatoes and cheese. Beautiful organic carrots. The bonus was that I had peeled the carrots during the photo shoot, which saved me oodles of prep time.


My husband was dining at a wine function that evening, so I made the pie just for me. I ate half of it, a piece at a time (and saying each time, "this piece is my last!"), while I sat on my couch and read Pilcrow. And tonight I'll eat it again, though this time I'll have to share at least some of it with my husband.


You can never eat too much good pie crust. There's still enough dough left for one more pie. What kind will I make?


Copyright 2010 Ann Tudor

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shadows in the Park

Shadow play also entertains me as I walk in High Park on dark winter mornings. If we go down the first hill to the east, we encounter a series of street lamps, some in working order, some not. As I approach a light, my shadow is behind me, of course. Then, when I pass under the light the shadow jumps to the front, getting longer and longer as I move beyond the light. Halfway between two lights, the shadow fades out completely. It is neither behind me nor in front of me. But only for a moment. Once I am beyond the sphere of influence from the light behind me, the oncoming light shows its muscle and creates the shadow behind me again. It may seem a bit infantile to be engrossed in this shadow play at 6:15 in the morning, but it takes my mind off the remaining miles to go before I can eat breakfast.



Copyright 2010 Ann Tudor

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Nuns' House

The nuns' living quarters were in a tiny house beside the two-room school, which was attached to the church building itself. The three nuns (two teachers plus a housekeeping nun) lived on the upper floor of the tiny house. The main floor had an entrance hall, a largish room to the left, and, farther down the hall, the door to a small chapel. Although the chapel was just for the nuns, at some point during our eight-year attendance at the little school we students were allowed to visit the chapel. Perhaps it was only seventh and eighth graders.


I know we were allowed in there occasionally, because I remember one thing about that little chapel: it contained a statue of the Little Infant of Prague. Some day I'll look it up and discover the true story of the Little Infant of Prague. As a church artifact, it seems always to be a real doll dressed in sumptuous, hand-sewn garments. Ours wore a red velvet cloak trimmed in white fur and gold braid. He held an orb in his hands and wore a gold crown on his head. I don't know whether you could go to a Catholic outfitters' shop—the kind where they sell fancy rosaries and beautiful prayer books and plaster of paris statues of the Black Madonna or Saint Joseph (which you bury in your yard to facilitate selling a house)—and buy ready-to-display Little Infants of Prague, or whether you bought a naked plaster doll (probably not anatomically correct) and took him home to dress in hand-sewn silks and velvets.


But I loved the Little Infant of Prague that was in the nuns' chapel, with its real clothes.


The year I was in the eighth grade, the front room of the nuns' house was made into a "rec room" for the eighth graders (the oldest kids in the two-room school). Being given our own, separate space was a big deal. I guess they'd noticed that we were too old for Red Rover. They (and who were "they"?) put a record player in the room and even seeded it with a few records. We were allowed to go into the rec room at recess time and during the noon hour (we all went home for lunch but would come back early to take advantage of this new, private space). The record I remember was a Glenn Miller recording of "Opus One." There may have been others, but we danced to "Opus One" every day.


Now, why didn't I learn to dance in that room? The two Crosby girls, Carol and Mary, were in grade 8 with me. Their older brother, Tom, was the coolest dancer in high school, and I'm sure he was already teaching Carol and Mary how to do the "fast dance" that separated the sheep from the goats during the four years of high school.


So if the Crosby girls already knew, in grade 8, how to fast dance, then how's come I didn't learn it from them? Were they holding on to their precociously acquired skill in order to reveal it once they reached the social paradise of public high school? Or was I too bookish and standoffish and did I refuse to try to learn to fast dance?


Had I learned it, would my high school career have been more pleasant? Would it have made any difference at all? Would I have become a dancing fool and abandoned all my other interests in order to pursue the swing dancing that we called jitterbug?


If I had learned to fast-dance to "Opus One" in the rec room in the nuns' house, who know what would have become of me? Whenever I hear "Opus One" now, I'm reminded of how my life did unfold, progressing along its path to end up in unlikely Toronto. My lifetime dancing career has consisted of two private lessons with Mr. Alexander, who has taught my husband and me to jitterbug happily in the privacy of our own dining room, with the table folded down and pushed against the wall. Better late than never.


Copyright 2010 Ann Tudor