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Sunday, June 24, 2012


They say plaid is making a comeback this year, these days, soon. I can't wait. I have plaid nostalgia. In the late '40s and '50s everyone, from schoolchildren to golfers to grown women, wore plaid: dresses, blouses, boys' shirts, men's trousers and shirts, winter coats. Whether this was international fashion or a local fad, I cannot say. My mother, Eileen, loved plaid. She made all of our dresses when we were young, and all of the boys' shirts for school (no one wore t-shirts in those days, except during summer sports), and a lot of what she made for us was plaid.


Not all plaids are the same. There are one-way plaids, mirror plaids, and others whose names I've forgotten. Knowing the type of plaid is not at all useful if you go to the specialty shop and buy your plaid skirt or blouse. But if you are buying the fabric to make your own garment, then you'd better know what you're doing. A well-made plaid garment must have matched seam-lines. The red stripe of the sleeve's plaid motif must run into (match) the same red stripe of the bodice. A one-way plaid requires much more fabric in order to effect all these matching patterns at the seams; in order to buy the required amount of fabric, you need to know the type of plaid. Perhaps this gives us a hint about why plaid's popularity has declined.


But nowadays only seven people in North America still make their own clothes. Everything is bought ready-made. In the Third World factories where our clothing is now produced (to our shame), overseers and designers are responsible for pattern and fabric lay-out. It is not up to an individual seamstress any longer. It is safe for the return of plaid.


You do know that you can't make a plaid t-shirt, of course (unless you stamp-print a plaid pattern on the knitted fabric). So the rise of the ubiquitous t-shirt also led to the decline of plaid.


In our house, the first day of school involved an obligatory new plaid dress for me and my sisters, and new plaid shirts for each of the three boys. Eileen stayed up late those hot August nights finishing our clothes for the First Day. I don't know why she created this stressful rule. Was it because she was Catholic? Because she was Irish? Because she loved to sew (and to match plaids)? Or just because we didn't have the money to buy new dresses and shirts for the first day of school? But she was a demon for matched seams—not that anyone but her would have noticed if plaid seams didn't match. And those were the days when no garment would have a machine-stitched hem. All our hems were hand-sewn.


Which leads directly to the non-plaid story of the First- Communion dress of my little sister, Mary Eileen. The stunning dress that our mother made for that very special occasion took a little longer to finish than Eileen had anticipated. According to family legend, Mary Eileen arrived late, after all the other seven-year-olds had marched up the centre aisle of St. Joseph's Church and were seated demurely in the two front pews. Mary Eileen ran up the aisle, in tears because she was late, embarrassed, and angry (have a nice First Communion!). Her mother ran, crouching, right behind her, frantically hand-stitching the last few inches of the hem. Or so the story goes.

Copyright 2012 Ann Tudor

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Moment by moment, things happen.

Seen, unseen, the Universe unfolds,

unfurling its minute secrets

before the eyes of those who would see.


Those who say that nothing happens

watch minutes, hours, days pass,

empty of event.

So they fill their time with

restless activity,

waiting for something,


to happen.


In the meantime, stars explode,

connections are made,

buds open,

clarity is achieved and then lost,

a baby holds out her hand,

a stranger smiles.


In the meantime, hearts and minds change,

prompted by a line of poetry,

a friend's comment,

a deep breath.


Who can predict the end result

(and yet not the end, for it never ends)

of the fluttering of a butterfly's wings?

Even as my pen moves (or because my pen moves)

everything has happened.


Copyright 2012 Ann Tudor

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pitch It All

Pitch it all--

whatever you've hoarded

on the pantry shelves of your self--

and make room, space, time

for the good things and the bad

that await.


Clutching metaphorical bags of rice

may make you feel safe and rich,

but that's an illusion.

No need to feed it.


Let it all go.

Oh, I'm so weary of that mantra,

much as I recognize the need for

its imperative thrust.

Let it all go.

Put the musty love seat on the garbage heap

and let anonymous workers

remove this burden from your life.


Meanwhile, back in the pantry,

close your eyes, if you must,

while you toss out the five-year-old spices

that have long since lost their flavour.


Let it all go.

Free up your life.

Open the space to the new—

though not too much of it.

Remember that it, too, will have to go.

(echo: let go, let go, let go).

Replenish only to let it go again.

And again.



Copyright 2012 Ann Tudor

Sunday, June 3, 2012


If you aren't going to go deep, then you won't find the pay-dirt. I suppose the logical next step for me is to write about some heretofore forbidden topic. For example, here's what I have never written about: sex, money, bathroom going-on, obsessions, and noses (picking, blowing, and sniffing). Also, family secrets.


But I don't feel like taking that next step today, no matter how logical it might be, so don't expect a new direction from me. Perhaps another day.


I read an interview with an author whose name escapes me. He has written a memoir that covers not just himself but his family. Asked about the difficulty of writing so honestly about his life, he answered that he has done it for years, starting with writing about his experiences as an alcoholic—and then giving up drinking. He said, "Once you've made yourself write about repeatedly waking up soaked in you own urine, you've pretty much gotten over the shame of baring your life to the public." He then went on to say that writing in an equally honest way about his family is a different kettle of fish.


But I was struck by that "waking up soaked in one's own urine" sentence. Have I ever written anything half so honest? (I have to say here that I can't remember ever waking up soaked in my own urine, though perhaps I did when I was still in diapers—which I'm pretty sure is not quite what he was talking about.) When I write about my life, I stay on the surface, where things are funny and not too scary. Occasionally I dip down into the well and come up with some mud-covered memory, but I make it a point to give it a good rinse and a shine before I lay it out on the page for all to see.


Sanitized pay-dirt lacks grit.


Copyright 2012 Ann Tudor