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Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Christmas Reminder

I send out this piece every year in mid-December, mainly as a reminder to myself. (You might want to admire the way I reduce my own list of things-to-do by recycling this Scene from the Journey instead of writing a new one.) Here's the message:



This is such a time of list-making for me. The list I made this morning includes "make lists," proving that the high-tension time is well on its way. So I decided to make a new list for myself. Here it is:

CALM DOWN. If it doesn't get done, will the world end? Don't get frantic about trifles (or truffles, either, though I wouldn't mind having one right now).

SIMPLIFY. I envision a Christmas dinner made up of X number of dishes. Well, how terrible would it be if I served X minus 1? Or X minus 2? Or even X minus 3? (But I suppose Chinese take-out is out of the question.)


Bring an OPEN HEART to every encounter.

GIVE to those who are less fortunate. Whether it's time or money that I give, and whether it's a lot or a little, giving will help everyone, including me.

And as a gift to all of you, I offer this prayer from the Dalai Lama:

May the poor find wealth,
those weak with sorrow find joy.
May the forlorn find new hope,
constant happiness, and prosperity.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
and those bound be free.
May the weak find power and
may their hearts join in friendship.

Copyright © 2011 Ann Tudor

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Shape of Things

Things should be what they are, don't you think? If there is an elephant in the room, don't try to pretend it's a water buffalo. Or a unicorn. Especially not a unicorn. Only one consonant separates a uniform from a unicorn. Oops. That's a lie. There are two consonants that change. I stand corrected. Does that mean I have been relegated to a corner? "Go stand in the corner, young woman, until your behaviour improves."


Well, that's a pretty silly concept of behavioural modification. How can you change your behaviour if you are standing with your face toward the two blank walls of a corner? And how will that change be measured? And by whom?


I would return to the beginning of this if I could find it. Was I talking about uniform unicorns? Or elephants?


If you object to things in the shape of other things, then what will happen to Christmas ornaments? I hang from my non-tree a bi-plane, a fish, a hummingbird, many bells. These are not real bi-planes or fish; they are tree ornaments. And what about earrings? My earrings are shaped like radishes, scissors, dancing women, faces. Are we to do without such whimsy? Must all earrings be boring, round, button-like objects? (And even there, they are button-like, not real buttons.) How can we resolve this?


Some things must be allowed to take the shape of other things. Look, you say, a Santa Claus piggy bank is an abomination. But a piggy bank in the shape of a pig is still not a pig. What shape shall our coin-banks take? Must they all look like miniature bank vaults?


I champion things in the shape of other things. I champion the thing inside me that is and is not like me. I champion diversity in earrings and piggy banks.


Copyright © 2014 Ann Tudor

Monday, December 1, 2014

Still Trying to Learn

I used to think that it was really affected, the way the self-help books tell us not to "try" but to do. I've been saying "I'll try" all my life, but where did all that trying get me? (Well, I must point out that it got me this far.)


I see the wisdom, though, of eliminating "try" from my list of goals. Just as I recognize the benefits of having banished "should", I know how much more I accomplish when I stop "trying" and just do it.


There are a couple of fallacies in that last sentence, the first of which is "accomplished," which represents the old desire to present myself as a human doing rather than a human being. The bumper sticker that says, "She who dies with the most fabric wins" is as wrong-headed as the equally prevalent idea that it's all about production and accomplishment.


It isn't a race, folks. Try (!) ambling through this journey.


Copyright © 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Temporary Enlightenment

The rosemary plant lives inside in winter

    (and a good thing, too).

I water it. I cut off the occasional branchlet

    to add to a stew.

I notice—oh, dear rosemary!—its warm scent

    when I brush against it.

But mostly I ignore it.

When I share space with it 

     I am usually reading,

an activity about which I am single-minded,

to say the least.


So I don't know why one winter day

I looked up from my book

and gazed idly in the direction of the

    rosemary plant.

The sun bounced off the snow in the yard

    and hit my rosemary full tilt.

Holy cow! I said.

The needles on that plant are sunlit.

If I were to paint it, each horizontal needle

     would be a white hyphen.

I began to scan the plant

to count how many needles would need

     the white-paint treatment.


But then I blinked

and the sun went behind a cloud.

Within seconds the illuminated needles faded

    to dull gray-green.

The rosemary returned to its normal,





Copyright © 2014 Ann Tudor

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Kiss

When the streetcar pulls out of the Dundas West station it travels for half a block on a tiny side street before it turns south onto Dundas West. It is nearly 5:00, and rush hour traffic is making it hard for the driver to find an opening in the traffic. He is admittedly crowding the intersection as he waits (and waits) for the opportunity to ease the big streetcar car onto the street to start its journey.


We passengers in the crowded car wait patiently for him to make the turn. I notice a well-dressed woman standing on the corner, eager to cross the street once the behemoth of a streetcar moves out of her way. And as I watch, she stands on tiptoe, brings her fingers to her lips slowly and blows an exaggerated kiss to someone on the streetcar. At first I think perhaps she knows the driver, since the gesture seems to be directed toward him. Then she does it again, sweetly and slowly. And I realize that this is not a gesture of love but of irony. Or sarcasm. She is saying, in a manner much less rude than the more ordinary finger would have been, "You are blocking the intersection, you oaf, and have been for the last three minutes. Get this effing streetcar out of my way!"

Copyright © Ann Tudor

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Something Small

Button, button,

who's got the button?

Hands in prayer—position,

the It-girl passes

around the party circle,

inserting flattened hands

between the similarly flattened,

very receptive,

praying pairs of little hands.

Seated guests watch keen-eyed

to distinguish the

true deposition of the button

from the mock deposit.


Now who has the button?

Where has it been left?

Was the It-girl sufficiently skilled

to fool the watchers?


Only two people among all these party-goers

(poker-faced, if they're smart)

know who has the button.


Small things are easily hidden.

Look! You can hide a button

in your prayer-folded hands,

then pass it along,

in secret,

to a friend.

Something small can disappear

if you so much as blink.


Copyright © 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, November 2, 2014


The good news is that

there's always a new road.

Roads are everywhere,

especially if your definition is not strict:

the dirt trail that narrows to foot-path width;

the crumbling switchback that gets you to the top

   of the mountain (unless you're in an ancient bus

   driven by a maniac, in which case the odds are

   you'll be tumbled off into space instead of

   reaching the tourist village at the peak).


That was the good news—that there are many roads.

The bad news is that these roads,

in their multiplicity,

lead everywhere.

Here, there,

the place you want to be,

the place you thought you'd never get to,

the place you wouldn't go to on a bet.


The meandering roads say,

"Destinations R us."

And just as you wouldn't want to watch

a ball game without a scorecard,

you'd be advised to invest in a good road map

before starting down a new road.

Roads have the upper hand

and will run you a merry chase.

And not all of them lead to Rome.



Copyright © 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Being Alone

Being alone. Wasn't that the movie about the gardener named Chance? And it starred – not Alec Guinness but that chameleon actor whose name escapes me.


I can picture his name. I see fuzzy related words whizzing around it like satellites—ah, Peter Sellers (the actor, not the opera and stage director, who is an –ars Sellars, I think). Still, I picture that name escaping me, all those names and words escaping me. That gives it a very personal feel. "Escaping me" as if I were the villain to be fled. I see the front door of a grade school at 3:30, the children running out into the world like molecules rushing from . . . and what do molecules rush from? Got myself stuck here. I'd have to go into nano-sizes and nano-figures to get an answer to that.


So I'm back to being alone which in my mind, even though I now have the name of the actor, conflates with that other movie, the one where a simpleton becomes POTUS. And what was the name of that? I don't remember, but I did just remember that the Peter Sellers movie I'm thinking of was Being There, not Being Alone. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to memory.


Luckily, I don't much care about any of this, so I'm not going to fret over it. There are so many other things to fret over in this troubled world.


Being alone. Is that what Mama Cass sang in Gypsy? No, I'm thinking of "Being Alive" and that's not from Gypsy, I think. Maybe Applause. Or Mame. And it surely wasn't Mama Cass but Angela Lansbury? Or Ethel Merman?


Being alone. A little avoidance here? A hesitation to tackle the topic? I love being alone. A perfect week, for me, is a week when I have no appointments (good-bye writing group, good-bye qi-gung) for the whole five days, but my husband does have outside appointments so that he is gone from 9 to 5 every day. He will come home in the evening (I'm not ready to forego our lovely times together, but I do think back fondly to the days Before Retirement).


So how will I be spending this precious time alone? To my shame, I have to confess that I will probably waste it. My justification is already forming in my mind. It will take me that full week to decompress and get used to the pleasures of being alone. I won't start any projects. I won't do anything but sit and be happy. Can I say that I will read unceasingly? That I will eat homemade GF flatbreads with my almond butter? That I will top my bruschetta with chopped kale cooked with olive oil and garlic and currants and pine nuts? That I will wander through the house randomly swiping at this or that horizontal surface with a dust cloth?


It is obvious that I will need not one but two weeks of being alone. The first one will be like the first waffle: I will throw it away. But during that week I will be making my lists for the second week, when I will . . .


H'm-m. What sort of purgatory of production am I creating for myself? Must I make lists and DO things? What if I don't want to DO? Don't want to make a quilt or clean out a closet or write a poem or edit a book. What if I want to practice qi-gung all day instead. That's a flat-out lie. I know I won't be spending entire days in any form of meditation, no matter how much I like qi-gung.


Is there an ending to these thoughts? I believe I started with a paragraph on losing words, and yet I have managed to call up enough of them to fill four pages. Some day I will analyze my current writing and discover, to my chagrin, how frequently I use the same words. Over and over I "realize," "remember," "decide." And there are hundreds more that are repeated endlessly through my pages. What's the name of that lit-crit tool—oh yes: a concordance. A concordance of my writings over the past ten years would be a graphic revelation of how inexorably words are escaping me, with the result that I am left bereft, forlorn, and, indeed, alone.



Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Words, Words, Words

A friend I've known since high school wrote me an email about reading and she said, "You taught me that reading is 'words, words, words'." Well, where did that come from? How? When? Why? Could I have said such a thing?


She wrote back: we were in high school working on the yearbook (I barely remember even this) and I asked you about reading and you quoted Hamlet, who said reading was just "words, words, words."


There is so much in this exchange that surprises me (that is, if I want to make a drama of it; otherwise I could just let it go). First, it turns out my friend has used that phrase all her life to tease and to make light of her own constant reading. And then there's the indisputable fact that I once knew something. How did I know this line from Hamlet and then I didn't know it at all? Memory is fickle, yes, but this particular memory seems to have left me as soon as I cited it to my friend at the age of 16. Apparently I gave it to her to keep track of. It's certainly true that I never spoke this (apt) line ever to anyone through the sixty years since I showed off to her.


I was obviously once a know-it-all. One blessed result of the memory loss, even the most recent, super-sized version of it, is that I have been forced to recognize how very little is left for me to be a know-it-all about. "Well, shut my mouth!" is pretty much where I am now.


You have nothing to fear. I no longer participate in  oneupmanship. There's too little left in the brain to do that sort of one-upping, and what IS left is not necessarily accessible on demand. It's more like the wait-for-it moment that defines the conversation of (horrible word) seniors. What a dumb term. But what is better? Old fogies? Fossils? Wrinklies? How about, quite simply, us.


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tending One's Garden

Does anyone have a garden I can tend

instead of my own?

Mine is dry and lacks juice.

It's barely alive by now

and I am SO tired of

1)        tending it

2)        and pretending that it's thriving when it isn't

3)        and intending to make it better when we all know the futility of that little ploy

4)        and mending the holes chewed by the moths and mice of the attic of my mind

5)        and wending my way through the remainder of my days in the maze.


So I ask again: can anyone lend me a garden

with vigorous soil and vibrant sun and water galore?

Probably that's not allowed.

Probably it's up to me to muddle through,

to make do,

to keep up the sham

as long as I am.

To paraphrase the Victorians,

You can think whatever you like—just don't say it aloud and frighten the youngsters.

The end.

Just what I've been talking about / waiting for.


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Anger didn't surface much chez nous when I was young. Very few emotions were actually encouraged (I can't think of any approved ones, at the moment) but anger was particularly banished.


This doesn't mean that anger didn't exist in our family. Look at any family—or any family of six noisy children and two clueless adults—and you'll know that anger is always floating around. But overt anger was not allowed. 


Never, in the 18 years I lived at home (plus the remaining 17 years before my parents both died) never did I see or hear my parents fight. (Whooops! "Never" alert! I know this must be an exaggeration.) But my inference was that good people didn't argue, didn't get mad at each other, didn't confront one another.


We children did know anger when we heard it. Here's how my mother, Eileen, showed her anger. When Eileen retired to the kitchen and the kitchen began to shake and rumble with the sounds of slammed cupboard doors, pots banged onto the stove and lids onto pots, bowls and utensils whacked onto the work surface, oven door clanged shut—then we knew to stay out of the kitchen, because Eileen was on the warpath. So you see, right there I've made a liar of myself. Irish Eileen DID get angry. But she just never told anyone about it. As far as I know, she never said to our father, Myron, "You treat me like a workhorse. I'm a workhorse in the poorhouse! I need . . .I need . . .I need . . ." Instead, Eileen just went to the kitchen and banged her pots and pans. And to my knowledge, no husband or child ever said to her, "What's wrong?"


That is all I ever learned about anger during my childhood. It took me a long, long time to recognize anger in myself and (the hardest part of all) to learn what to do with it. I learned to confront when necessary, and to let it go when I could—after acknowledging it in the very first place.


Recently, within the space of five minutes both anger and guilt came leaping over the fence to land on top of me. Well, well, I thought, look at this. What is more surprising? The fact that these two breached the defenses and landed here at the same time, or the fact that you recognized them right away? And what do you do with them now that they're here?


The anger was occasioned by an acquaintance whom I find difficult to talk to. I made a comment, and then she triggered my anger by behaving the way she always behaves. Thus, my anger was brought on by my own actions. (Isn't there a theory that insanity is when you do the same thing over and over and expect to get a different result?) I left myself open to her comments and then expected her to respond differently. Well, insanity or not, it still made me angry. So that was the anger that hit me.


The guilt was a double-guilt. I became aware of loud and lively birdsong nearby and immediately felt guilty that I had failed to educate my children about the natural world. I'm not a great birder at all, but I did know, at one time, a few bird calls beyond the cardinal and the jay, and I never took the children birding to teach them even the little that I knew. Guilt. There had recently been a walk-in-High-Park tour on the topic of the passerine birds. It was at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, and I could have gone. I thought about going. But I had a ticket for the opera that afternoon and it all just seemed too complicated and rushed. Also, I have attended a couple of birding walks before and have felt awkward and unwelcome. I didn't go to the High Park bird walk, and I felt guilty about having missed it. Thus I was hit by a double-bird kind of guilt. Two guilts with one bird? Two birds with one guilt?


There I was, feeling my anger and guilt. I gave them both a thought, briefly; I recognized them both. I felt them in my body (isn't that what you're supposed to do?) and then I just said, "Begone!" or words to that effect, and I let go of it all. Anger gone. Guilt gone. The rest of the day was just a walk in the park.



Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wiser Than I Was

I could be dumb as a post

and still be wiser than I was.

Some are born wise.

Some acquire wisdom along the way.

And some have wisdom thrust upon them

(if they are lucky)


by gods who have lost patience with

their refusal to learn.


Not that I claim wisdom for myself now,

I hasten to add.

But all things are relative

(more about that later)

and compared to who I was and remained

for so long--too long

(so long, oo-long, and so forth)--

compared to that person

I am the sage of the century.


Back to that relativity.

Not only is it all relative,

but it is also all related.

Deny this at your peril.

Denying our common connectedness

marks you as that dumb-as-a-post person

I once was.


Accept the connectedness (step one).

Act on it:

build a life based on it (step two of three).

It's easier said than done.

It may take a lifetime to achieve it.

Step three: be patient.


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I was at a posh fund-raiser recently. When we had completely gorged ourselves on the chefs' offerings at the sixty food stalls, we turned our attention to the silent auction items, drifting past the numerous tables laden with donated Things that you might want to add to your collection of Things. I was unmoved by most of the products.


And then I saw a clarinet. A brand-new one, its three sections nestled in a velvet-lined box. How cool is that, I thought. Next to it was a trumpet, similarly pristine, beautifully presented. And next to these two was a flute. A flute! A silvery, not-too-expensive flute! I could play the flute again—I know I could. I still remember the fingerings (except for some of the high-register adjustments, but I could get an instruction book for those). This wouldn't be like the cello. I wouldn't be starting from ground zero. I already know how to play the flute! Marching band! Concert band! And I could find a friend to play guitar or piano while I tootled on the flute. We'd make music.


The flute's stated value was $400, with a starting bid of $200. I hesitated, I dreamed, I imagined. And then I moved on. But I kept glancing back at the flute. Were there any bids yet? Was it feeling unloved? I wanted that flute in the worst way. And then I left it behind and the longing dissipated.


It wasn't until the next morning that realized why I had not bid for that flute. There is no time in my life for a flute. My cookbook manuscript is demanding more and more attention; it is obvious that there is no room at all in my present life for a flute. Tootling will have to wait.



Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Your Suitcase Has Been Searched

Your suitcase has been searched, and it was I, with my curious eye, who searched it. I sensed that you were carrying contraband. What have you to say in your defense?


She told me this: One woman's contraband is the next woman's legal and official necessity, the feedbag of her soul, the sole source of her sustenance. Remove it from a suitcase as you search and you will bear the dire consequences.


Let's put an end, she went on, to suitcase-searching as a strategy. Leave to each one the things she holds most dear: her awareness of the moon, for example, or her memory of the pre-dawn bird orchestra heard from the darkness of her front porch.


Whatever contributes to my joy or life is mine to keep. I will protect it with a sign that reads "DO NOT REMOVE FROM THE SUITCASE." You have no right to peer into the rites and celebrations of my life. It is MY right to learn to know the planet of my existence.


I wondered what they meant, these high-flown words of hers flung in rebellious anger. But I used the brilliant light of her words to search my own suitcase and found it lacked what I really needed. Is it too late, I asked her, to go back, too late to repack?


Her reply had a familiar ring: It's time to pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.


Smile, she said again.



Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Walking Archive

Commit it all to paper,

those of you who are walking archives,

because it's time to admit

that your storage capacity

has been exceeded.

But worse still are the vermin:

just as moisture and silverfish

and bookworms

attack the written record,

so the aging equivalents

(we'll call them "mice" to simplify)

remove what's stored in the head,

eliminate the memories,

whether new or old.


If you are a walking archive,

get it all out of the swamp of your mind

and commit it to acid-free paper.

Keep it in a climate-controlled cupboard.

Act as if it is important to retain

this body of memories

and maybe (but don't count on it)

someone, someday,  will actually notice.


Alternatively, ignore me.

Let it all evaporate

from your mind.

Walk for your pleasure, not as an archive.

The past has passed.

Let it go.


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Pages Turn

Not so patiently, really,

and with some trepidation,

I watch the pages turn.


When it was new, the opened book lay lopsided,

all its pages piled on the right.

Then the wind of life blew in.

Riffling up the paper sheet by sheet

it turned leaves to the left

before my still-innocent gaze.


One day I noticed

how very many pages had blown by:

I was well past the middle of the book.

Oh me, oh my!

Time to take it seriously, I thought.


But even before I had buckled down

to that task of being serious

more pages flew from right to left

forcing me to acknowledge

my lack of agency here:

this turning of pages was none of my doing.


And now just moments later,

or so it seems,

the right-hand pile has dwindled

to just these few remaining pages.

The book is almost finished.


Why does the wind blow in one direction only?


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Voice of the Lake

How long would I last

lying, cheek to wood,

on the lake's dock,

sun relentless and hot on my back,

my face pillowed into the folded towel,

which will leave terry-cloth pocks on my cheeks.


How long before I would begin to fret:

I'm hot. I'm getting sunburned (I can feel it).

The dock is hard.

I have things to do--

a meal to prepare,

lists to make.


Water laps beneath me,

and the wood brilliantly conducts these murmurings

to my ear cushioned on the towel.

The water mesmerized me once,

but would it still?

Have I so filled my self with activity

that what once sufficed

will now not take me away from my endless thinking?


Alas, this question is without answer.

I have no dock, no lapping lake.

To test the question I will have to seek elsewhere--

listening to the scent of lilacs, for example.


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What Would I Do?


If I had my way,

what would I do?

In this unaccustomed medium

of off-again, on-again thought,

I focus not on the message

(whatever that might have been)

but on the method.


Do I change hands here? Is this the time?

No, wait.

Bring some thought to this!

Stay with the pencil so it will carry you off

to find the answer.


The question, again?


Here: if I had my way, what would I do?


Would I take your hand

in both of mine and say nothing,

do nothing but be with you?

Hands sandwiched just so.

Words set aside.

Experiencing the glow of us.


Take it bigger—outside, so to speak.

Now what would I do?

Can it get any bigger than a sandwich of hands?


Oh. Good question.

If we all sandwiched hands every day,

the world would change.

Someone, a friend told me, recommends a full hug—

a one- or two- or three-minute hug daily.

For everyone. Hug. Breathe. Keep hugging.


Goodness gracious me!



Good grace and blessings to us all.

Every huggable one of us.



Copyright 2013 Ann Tudor

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Was Blind But Now I See

For many years I prided myself on not having wrinkles on my face. (In my defense I have to say that the lack of wrinkles barely compensated for years of red-nosed rosacea.) I never minded the well-earned crows' feet and laugh lines, because one has lived and laughed, after all. But I seemed to have escaped the crumpled mosaic that hits women (men, too, but who notices?) when they are no longer "women of a certain age" but actually "older women."


I attributed this smooth face to vigilance. To small-batch moisturizers from alchemists in out-of-the-way studios. And yes, to good genes (although my mother died when she was six years younger than I am now, so I hardly have a reference point).


Several months ago I had cataracts removed from both eyes, three weeks apart. The clarity with which I saw the world after that was astounding, and I wrote about the experience. In response to that essay, a friend wrote me saying she had had her cataracts removed as well, and the most notable result was that she could now see her wrinkles. I chuckled at this—but saw no parallel.

And then one morning I looked in the mirror and saw a ruined face. I saw the map of tiny surface lines that say nothing about me except "old, old, old!" and I realized that I had gone from wrinkle-free to Holy Cow! virtually overnight. What had I done wrong? Was I using a new moisturizer that promoted wrinkles rather than plumping them up into smooth, dewy skin? I was at a loss. What should my next step be, to keep this sudden phenomenon from spreading and deepening?


About two weeks after I received the note from my friend about how her cataracts revealed her wrinkles, I made the connection. It's quite embarrassing to tell you that it took me that long to connect the dots.


My wrinkles were not new. Before the cataract removal, I never examined my face with my glasses on, since any examination occurred at the sink where I washed and lubricated the skin, without glasses. I had never seen the wrinkles. The newly replaced lenses in my eyes simply showed me what had been there all along, even as I was taking pride in my smooth skin and, ungenerously, compared mine favourably to the skin of my contemporaries, whom, of course, I always saw with the aid of my sharp-seeing glasses.


Let me humbly admit it now to one and all: I am human. I am normal. I am mortal. And I am aging, the same way we all have aged, do age, and will age.


Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 20, 2014

At That Precise Moment

At the sound of the tone—at that precise moment—it will be one o'clock. In the afternoon, of course, which is actually thirteen o'clock. We civilians call it one o'clock because in our minds there is no confusion between the two; at the other one o'clock we are sound asleep in our beds.


Fiction: this could be the start of a political dystopia, with Big Brother monitoring the sleep habits of the citizenry, along with every other element of their existence. Do I want to start writing a dystopia? No.


Memoir: this could be a story of arriving in Canada and discovering the CBC, which at one o'clock every single day afforded me (and still does) the opportunity to re-set my watch to the national standard. How accommodating. How civilized. No wonder I cottoned so quickly to CBC Radio. This was 34 years ago, of course, before the death by a thousand cuts that have reduced it to a bare-bones mockery of a public service. As far as I'm concerned, you can consign CBC-TV to whatever broadcasting hell exists. But keep your cotton-pickin' paws off my CBC Radio.


What's the title of this piece? "At That Precise Moment." Oh, I remember. I tried and discarded fiction. Then I tried the rubric "memoir," which turned into a present-day rant. Let's see if I can summon up a more appropriate memoir item: "At that precise

moment . . ." No, nothing there. I'll try again: "At that precise moment . . ." Nope.


What else do I know how to write? Kitchen episodes. At the precise moment when the recipe and the timer agree that I should remove the cookies from the oven, they have just turned black on the bottom. Or: . . . the cookies have only just begun to firm up and removing them at that precise moment will be a disaster. Well, a small-scale disaster. Nothing on the order of an earthquake or total climate change or the mega-quarry. (Get away from those rant-worthy disasters quickly and return to your cookies!)


Yes, a small kitchen disaster, in our house, is not even really a disaster because 1) I can usually find a way to turn Disaster into Delicious and 2) if I fail in that attempt, my husband will eat it anyway because he hates to see food wasted. (So do I, but I have my limits; he has none. He won't eat an apple voluntarily unless I quarter it and serve it with a nice full-fat cheese, as dessert. Unless, that is, the apple in question is wrinkled and on the verge of being too old for human consumption, in which case he will voluntarily eat it for lunch and repeat, enthusiastically, "Delicious!" What a guy.)


Where was I? If, for me, writing is predicated on digression, then I must continually re-orient myself. Perhaps I lead my life the same way? Those cookies, for example. Did they burn while I was digressing my attention toward a Sudoku, or while I was indulging in my new obsession with learning how to play the blues scale on the piano? If my whole life is a digression, how will I ever find the main thread?


My embroidered digressions disguise the actual theme of my life. The theme of my life? Is there one, or is it all embroidery?



Copyright 2014 Ann Tudor