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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Restless Wind

I am rattled by wind. It blows my hair, of course, which is not just annoying but dangerous (what if it blows away the few remaining wisps?). Even when appropriately dressed (which for me means both a hat and a hood over my head and a warm, wide scarf wound from nose to chest to  muffle me from the cold)—even then I am rattled by wind.


It's more than the physical effect. It's the endlessness of it. The restlessness. The fear that it will never, ever stop. Certainly there are places in the world renowned for wind, where indeed it never does stop. If I were in the mood to move from this city, one of the first things I would investigate about a prospective site is the wind level. Cheyenne, Wyoming, is definitely out as a potential place to live (and that's without even considering the politics).


Please don't get me started on the wind tunnel effect caused by tall buildings. In my view, architects and engineers should be forced by law to live in the path of the fierce gales caused by their buildings. 


They call the wind Maria. Oh, the restless wind. Such songs are not for me. I want to sit in a sheltered corner and bask in the sun. When I walk suddenly around a corner and discover a non-windy, sheltered spot, the relief is palpable. It's like when a rumbling truck noise that has seemed to be permanent suddenly comes to an end, bringing peace to body and mind.



Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor

Sunday, March 19, 2017

October Sightings and Interactions

At Castlefrank Station in October a mother and daughter got on the subway. Mother had a sleeping baby slung on her chest. Daughter was two and a bit, with blond curls. She immediately plopped herself on the empty seat beside me, looked straight at me and said, "Hello." I answered. She said, "Are you reading?" I said yes, showing her my book, and then told her my book didn't have any pictures. But at home, I said, I have books with pictures.


She said, "Why?" H'm-m. Hard to answer. I said, "Are you going to school now?" (her mother had mentioned it). She said yes. I said, "So am I." "Why?" "Because I still have a lot to learn."


I said, "Do you like school?"  A blank look followed by "yes."


"Do you play with friends at school?" Another yes.


By now we were at Broadview Station, her stop as well as mine. She walked between her mother and me, with her mother  holding one hand. I held out my hand on the other side and she took it. On the escalator the two adults escorted her up the high-rising steps, then again on the second escalator. The whole time she looked at me, cocking her head and smiling. Their bus was waiting and as I U-turned to go to the street, I had to nudge her hand away. By this time she was just holding on to my right pinkie, very tightly. I said goodbye. She turned a couple of times to look at me before she forgot me and moved on to the bus and the rest of her life.


I went onto the street. Crossing to the south side of the Danforth I passed two very tall young men, early to mid-thirties, who were chatting in front of the fish restaurant. Their voices were deep and slightly raspy, and I wondered if they were brothers, because the voices were so similar. As I passed them they were taking leave of each other and planning to meet up again at some other place and time.


When I had walked fifteen feet beyond that spot, one of them called to me: "Miss!" (Miss??) When I turned he asked if I knew of a convenience store in the neighbourhood and I had to tell him I didn't know the area well. Then I asked him (we were both walking in the same direction) whether he and the other man were brothers. He said no, but they were from the same place in England. I hadn't noted the accent, just the deepness of their voices, I told him.


--Well, he said, maybe it's because we're both tall.


I said my son is tall and has a deep voice. So we agreed that deep voices come from resonating the whole length and depth of tall bodies. Then he turned off in search of his convenience store.


I turned east at the next corner, walking on the north side even though the sun dappling through the trees was blindingly bright. About halfway to my destination a front garden sported the most beautiful yellow rose bush I've ever seen, in full October bloom. I moved closer to it and, sure enough, it had the lovely scent that is sometimes bred out of roses. I took the time to stop and smell these yellow roses.


All of these delights took place in less than an hour of my morning.


Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor

Sunday, March 12, 2017

If wishes were horses . . .

"I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate" came to mind last week. I don't know any other words to this old song (from the '20s, surely?), or the tune. But it reminded me of how we spend our lives (how I spend my life) wishing we had something—a talent, a trait—that someone else has.


I wish I could play the flute as beautifully as my sister Sari played it. And while I'm there I wish I shared her enthusiasm—for life, for music, for people.


I wish I could improvise like my sister Mary (though her instrument is the guitar and I have NO desire to go there; but I'd like to be able to do on the piano what she does on the guitar).


Despite the title of the song (Sister Kate), my envioius wishing isn't limited to siblings. I wish I was a photographer like a friend who, in his retirement, takes stunning pictures of foreign flora and fauna—a skill that meshes well with his love of travel. Or a jazz pianist like my neighbour.


This list could become a lot longer if I allowed myself to continue. I wish. I wish.


Another facet of this notion (does a notion have facets?) is this: I have always in the past imagined that all the people I know can do everything that I do PLUS all the things that they do well themselves. This inevitably put me in an inferior position. What I did or could do was never enough, because those other people could do all that in addition to, say, being a Real Artist or, say, being a respected therapist or a professional landscape architect. Or, to move away from trades and professions, they might be excellent mothers or have eidetic memories.


In any case, I was always, in my mind, left in the shade. This came to light years ago when I was whining to a therapist that everyone but me was a good housekeeper. She asked what made me think that. I pointed out her own housekeeping skills (her office was in her house). I said that the living room, which was the waiting room, was always spotless. She said, "Have you seen the rest of the house?" And of course I hadn't.


This was a very good reminder to me. Who knew what dust bunnies lurked beneath the furniture in her other rooms? Relatives of the bunnies in my house that I was so ashamed of.


I slowly began to acknowledge, in the face of this, the skills and talents that I have (or at least once had) that others did not have, despite their own worthy talents. In other words, each of us was differently gifted.


And I never again imagined that others started with a base of my talents and then piled their own on top of that. This simple shift in my thinking got rid of a mountain of guilt!



Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor




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Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Manifesto for (the Rest o') My Llife

Anyone who has been paying attention (and I have to say there's no reason at all why you should have been) knows that I'm not much of a planner. No, I don't have a map for the next ten years of my life, I've always had to say. Questions like these have always stopped me in my tracks.

Quite frankly, I can't even imagine what I might be doing ten years from now.


So tell me (pace Cole Porter) why should it be true . . . that I'm immersed in figuring out my next and future moves.

Well, there's something about eighty that turns you right around, making a mockery of the principles on which you rested. Okay, now I am looking five (maybe ten) years down the line. Wanna make something out of it?


How does that line go? Something about "there's nothing like blah-blah to focus one's mind." The original quote is much more to the point. But you get the gist; I'm looking through the narrowing tunnel. Please don't tell me "Why, my dear, you could live to be 100; you've still got twenty years to play with." I don't need threats. Living to 100 is not something devoutly to be wished. I'm kind of enjoying the new 80-year-old's notion that my years are numbered. Maybe even my days . . .


A friend asked last year what was the theme of my life. Oh, brother! To me, that's the same as asking where I see myself in ten years, though it's in reverse. I couldn't answer her. But now I can. I can because as I was gently meandering through the future I realized that I have only X number of years left in which to learn. To learn. That's the theme of my life that I hadn't even recognized.


But it isn't about book-learning or learning a new language (or re-learning French) or learning to play a Chopin etude. It's about learning how my body—the matter of me—feels in this space of being alive.


It's about paying attention to the physical nature of me—since this is who I am and where I am at this time—and since I am about the latest bloomer you can find in this arena. Kind of a Christmas cactus, blooming (but beautifully, if it's well cared for) with glorious bright red blossoms for a couple of weeks at the end of the year.


Well, that was a metaphor better touched on than explored in depth. I'll just say that I have a lifetime of Not Knowing Me to make up for, and I am approaching the task in a spirit of excitement instead of guilt and recrimination.


Let's say others are way ahead of me in this respect. I say, who cares? I'm grateful to still be here to learn this important lesson, even if it's the last thing I do!


And that brings me to the second leg of my plan. Not only will I devote my time to feeling myself in this world, but I am also making the point to do so by doing things that give me pleasure. Someone has floated the idea of twice-a-day recess periods for adults. That sounds like just what I want—with the proviso that I get to set the parameters of what constitutes recess (mine won't be playing outside in winter!). The table is already laid upstairs with craft projects. The knitting needles are arrayed around a hook (they're all circular needles, so they bend).


I'm at a two-tined fork in the road: a tine of knowing who I am physically ("Be. Here. Now.", I'd say, if it hadn't already been said) and a tine of filling this new-found self with the energy that proceeds from joy.


I'd better write all this down (oh, I just did) or I'll forget it and revert to type. To my OLD type, that is. Though it is clear to me now that one's "type" is not set in stone. Change is what happens as we live our lives. The types they are a-changin'.


Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor