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Sunday, July 26, 2015

And the Memory No Longer Lingers On

At some point recently I had a conversation about or I read about choreography—was it the Toronto Life article on Karen Kain? Maybe. Or something about Fosse? I don't know. The problem is that I don't have a firm grasp on my memory any longer. Once I remembered everything. I could tell you the details of any specific conversation as well as who I was with and where we were sitting. I never had to say "stop me if I've already told you this" because I knew what I'd said to this person and to that person. I held my memory in an iron grip.


Well, I should have been going to the gym and doing weight training for the arms, because I've lost my grip, in more ways than one.


Instead of complaining about this, I'm taking the "let it slide" approach. Looked at from a higher perspective, what difference does it make if I start to tell you something that originally came from you? It isn't as if the world is holding its breath to hear my retelling of an anecdote. They also serve who only stand and keep their mouths shut.


Copyright © 2015 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Scrap of Paper

If I'm lucky, a scrap of paper gives me

a fragment, two words, a gnomic phrase

that I must translate into its full meaning.

Too often, as when I stumble on the scrap of paper

hidden for months under its brothers,

the meaning of the cryptic fragment

has been spirited away by the winged demons of Time.


Recently I chanced upon just such a scrap

which had surfaced from beneath a pile

and appeared on my desk.

Here's what it said:

"Red Splatters



"Black Bats

"Red Fires

"Black Dirt."


Not a word made sense.

I pondered, reflected,

searched memory.

double-checked handwriting.


After half a day I had it:

These were team names suggested by Sam

when he was four and we played

mock soccer games in the dining room.

Mortimer, Archibald, and Leroy

were all players that day,

but I don't remember

which team they represented.


Just by chance, however,

Sam was the star player

for the Red Splatters.



Copyright © 2015 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cheap Thrills

Why pay big bucks when for no money at all you can fill the spaces of your heart: the space for beauty, for novelty, for humour, for compassion. Cheap thrills keep me going; here are a few recent ones.


Once a week I grind flaxseed. You know what flaxseeds look like: those hard-shelled brown seeds, slick on the surface, about the size of the scale insect that eventually killed my bay laurel plant. Flax seed does you no good at all unless it is ground, and once ground it must be refrigerated. So I grind it weekly and keep the ground flax seed in the refrigerator. The unground seed is in a glass jar on a pantry shelf. I do the grinding in a small electric coffee grinder reserved for spices and flax—never used for coffee.


Once a week I fill up the grinder from the glass jar, set the jar on the counter, and grind. The vibration from the grinding is transferred through the counter to the jar, and here's what happens: the flax seed, having just been tilted for pouring, is heaped up to one side of the jar. When the vibration begins, the slick seeds slide across one another, delicately, in a quick little dance. The first time I noticed this I was startled. It looked as if the seeds were alive (infested with bugs, perhaps?) and moving. It took me aback until I understood why they were doing their slide-dance. Now I over-grind my flax seed on purpose because I don't want to stop the dance.


For a cheap thrill, then, watch flax seeds slide to the rhythm of an electric grinder.


For another cheap thrill, keep your ears open on public transit. If the thought of making eye-contact is daunting, then keep your eyes on your book, but listen. One morning as the subway pulled into Yonge station, the young Asian woman beside me stood to signal that she was going to move to the exit once the train came to a stop. I shoved my legs aside to give her room. In front of me the man from the seat perpendicular to us also stood. Just as the train stopped the man leaned over to the young woman, who was immaculately dressed and ready for work. I couldn't quite hear what he said. Luckily, she couldn't either (or she heard and didn't believe her ears), so she asked him to repeat it. A little louder, he said, "Excuse me, but do you have a pair of tweezers?" She politely said no.


I was left bemused, amused, astounded. What was the meaning of this question? Did he really want to borrow a stranger's tweezers? Was this code? Were they both spies? Are tweezers the new cigarettes, that one might seek to borrow one from a stranger? Is this a post-modern pick-up line? The possibilities kept me entertained and even took me away from the new, six-pound Elizabeth George novel I was foolish enough to be toting around for the day.


Cheap thrills. It was daffodil time. Daffy-down-dilly. Lavender's blue, dilly-dilly. I don't see fields of daffodils, but I do see garden borders filled with them. Or are they daffodils at all? I have failed, over the years, to learn the distinctions between those three versions of the trumpet-flowers: the daffodil, the jonquil, and the narcissus. I must admit that not really knowing which is which has not kept me from pretending that I know. I confidently pointed out examples of all three types to three-year-old Georgia last spring. I figured that given her age she would forget what I'd taught her. Eventually she may ferret out the truth for herself.


Flax seed. Eavesdropping. Daffodils. I'll welcome my pleasures wherever I find them.

Copyright © 2015 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Exert Yourself!

Stir your stumps!

Rise like Lazarus from the deathbed

of your BarcaLounger.

Enough already with the planning,

It's time to be doing.



I rise to this exhortation

by removing myself from the action,

for that is what is required of me:

I exert myself in an inward direction,

toward the darkened room

and the shuttered windows.

It is there that I will (I must)

meet myself (whoever she is at that moment)

face to face, naked,

to learn . . . what?


Well, If I knew what I have to learn,

I wouldn't need to spend my days alone

in that darkened room or its equivalent.


It is past time for me to listen.

In seclusion (just me and the Universe)

I will say, "I am listening"

and then close my mouth but not my ears.

The art of living has many guises.

This is to be mine, at least for now.



Copyright © 2015 Ann Tudor