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Sunday, December 30, 2018


They say, these bumptious know-it-alls,

not to try.

Just do it, they command.

To say you will "try"

dooms the effort to failure.


Having shown that I know the drill,

may I continue?

If I but try, I can see myself

making a go of it.

In the here and now,

not in the distant past or the perilous future,

I can work my way past the obstacles,

eschewing ostentatious gestures,

simply putting one foot ahead of the other,


without haste,

and with no wondering whether the game is lost.

It may well be;

wouldn't be the first loss in the history

of the world.

Get over yourself.


Another thing they say,

those New Age gurus:

Show up. Pay attention.

Do the work. Don't attach to the outcome.


Now, doesn't that just put the whole thing

in a nutshell?

This is why I know that all I need to do

is make the effort.

Try, in other words.



Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, December 23, 2018

It Doesn't Matter Which Way Is Home


we have no idea what matters,

given how passively

we allow ourselves to be buffeted

by what we proclaim to be reality.


I can tell you,

is something other

than the mingy vision we see.


Maybe I'm wrong.

But I'd rather err

in the direction of expansiveness

than settle for

the everyday version of reality

that thunders at us from all sides.


Which way is home?

All ways—

but they reveal themselves

only through the welcoming doors

of the caring we bring to our hearts.



Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Small Things


Button, button,

who's got the button?

Hands in prayer-position,

the It party-guest passes from one person

to the next,

inserting flattened hands

between the similarly flattened,

very receptive,

pairs of little hands.

Guests sit in circled chairs

watching 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 sufficiently skilled

to fool all the watchers?


Only two people among all these party-goers

(poker-faced, if they're smart)


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.


Small things disappear

if you so much as blink.

Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, December 9, 2018


Insights R us.

Sometimes, I should add.

Insights R me on a good day—

one that starts in the dark

after a deep sleep,

one that sees me sitting,

legs covered with an afghan

to ward off the chill.

Don't imagine me in lotus mode;

my hips abandoned that unnatural pose

years ago for the relative comfort

of a straight-backed wooden chair.


And where (indeed, where?)

was I?

Hunting for insights, right?

Sitting in the deep silence

of the Moon, setting humbly, without pomp,

in the west.

I sense that sinking Moon rather than see it,

for my eyes are closed

and my mind gives over its usual predominance

and lets the heart rule—

or the breath—

until, steeped in what is,

I am open to the lightning flash

of insights,

which come or not

depending on their whim.


Good when it happens.

Equally good when it doesn't.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

My Annual 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.

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. You envision a Christmas dinner made up of X number of dishes. Well, how terrible would it be if you served X minus 1? Or X minus 2? Or even X minus 3? (Is Chinese take-out completely out of the question?)


LET GO OF the idea that you are solely responsible for the holiday happiness of everyone you know.

Bring an OPEN HEART to every encounter.

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

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.

To paraphrase Tiny Tim, blessings on us every one!


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Old-fashioned Expressions, Sleeplessness, and a Tiny Little Grammar Lesson

Like a walking time capsule, I use old-fashioned expressions frequently. Some of the words and phrases that bounce around my head are: buggy, baby buggy, horse and carriage, horseless carriage, old swimming hole, gee whillikers, Red Rover (a now-banished kids' game), bigger than a breadbox, ice-box, cook-stove, three-layer cake (a treat forgotten except perhaps in the Deep South, where sugar is king), no better than she should be, mutton dressed as lamb, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, on his uppers (i.e., the soles of his shoes are worn out), aping one's betters, and tinker's dam (as in "I don't give a tinker's dam").


Searching for the old-fashioned things I often say is a fruitless exercise right now, because I'm functioning on less sleep than usual today. Then I got up later than usual and had no time for tai chi, Swimming Dragon, breathing, stretching, or anything else that might have settled my mind and moved me into writing mode. So I sit here empty. Running across the back wall of my mind is last night's composition riffing on lie and lay.


When I don't sleep at night what do I do? For the first 90 minutes I lie there pretending that sleep will arrive soon.

Then I get up to read. After 90 minutes of reading, I go back to bed, though not necessarily to sleep. Last night I wrote these instructive lines in my head:


I lie awake two nights a week.

I lay awake last night.

I have lain awake four of the last twelve nights.

When I lay me down to sleep

I lay my book on the floor.

I laid it there last night.

I have laid it there before.

I have lain awake for the better part

of the last two nights.

I tell no lie.

And if you are still confused, remember that

the hen lies in her nest

to lay an egg.


Many thanks to Sister Mary Alma of the Sisters of St. Joseph based in Tipton, Indiana, for clarifying these two verbs for me when I was 11.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Wings, a Fable

She had been given (by the powers that choose such things) the wings of a wren. Being young and innocent, she cried, "Wings! Wings!" for wings were much desired among the possible gifts.


No one told her how to use them, for this was not the way. The using was to be learned. Having seen, once, the majestic soaring of the turkey vulture, hawk, and eagle, and the delicate feather-twitching that directed these paragons along the air currents, she knew immediately how she wanted to use her wings.


Hiding behind a fallen and rotting tree trunk near the river, she watched a turkey vulture. His initial ascent, even she had to admit, was ungainly. Practically unsuccessful. But there he was, finally, fully launched into the air and floating on the whims of the wind.


This was her vision. She moved to her own launching pad and, running as fast as she could, she flapped and flapped her little wings. Her flapping was actually much more rapid than the turkey vulture's, and she rose into the air with no trouble at all.


Still beating her wings furiously, she rose higher until she could sense the flowing wind beneath her. At this point she spread her little wren wings as far as they would go and stopped flapping, just as the turkey vulture had.


And she sank like the proverbial stone, straight toward the ground. With extraordinary presence of mind for one so young, she activated her wings after only a few moments of this free fall, while still well above the treetops.


As she flew again, little wings beating hard and fast, she faced the sad reality. Not all wings are the same. Those with wren wings will perforce lead a wren's existence—not a bad thing in itself, of course, but different from the soaring of eagles and hawks and, yes, turkey vultures.


There's a moral here.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Hand Sandwich

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!

I stay with the pen so it will carry me 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.


I can take it bigger—outside, so to speak.

Now what would I do?

Does it GET bigger than a sandwich of hands?


Oh. Good question.

If we all sandwiched hands every day,

the world would change.

A friend recommends a daily full hug—

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

For everyone. Hug. Breathe. Keep hugging.


Goodness gracious me!



Good grace and blessings to us all.

Every one.



Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Don't bother me—I'm busy woolgathering. Wandering the fence line plucking tufts of wool from where the fat sheep rubbed their sides against the wire. You wouldn't believe how much wool I can pick up that way. Silly sheep.


I believe when I've carded and spun what I found today—just in one tour of the fences—I'll have enough yarn for a small sweater. And imagine—all that would have gone to waste if I failed to walk around the land, woolgathering!


If only the metaphorical were as productive as the concrete. Mental woolgathering has given me nothing today, except for an opening paragraph (see above). I sit here and look at the objects in my line of sight, all of which are as familiar to me as everything else in my life.


I didn't have enough sleep last night, but that doesn't fully explain why I feel so rotten, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. I could (of course I could) come up with explanations, but I won't do that right now.


I interrupt myself here with a reminder to be alert for the magic in everything. The magic of a good conversation with a good friend. And the magic of two barking dogs yesterday as I walked along Bloor Street West just north of High Park. Hearing the racket I looked across the street and saw two golden retrievers, leashed but barely under the control of a slip of a girl, furiously complaining about four mounted policemen who plodded along on the sidewalk, heading east. The horses, that is, were plodding. As I took in the sight, focusing briefly on the dogs and their handler, the four horses sedately walked up the slope and positioned themselves in a row, horses and riders all gazing southward across High Park as it sloped toward the lake.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Longer I Sit

The longer I sit the harder it is to get up. I know about the negative effects of TV, but I am not watching TV, I am simply sitting—now reading, now looking out the window, now doing a puzzle. The sun beats in through the south window and warms me in a way our new-but-nonetheless-ineffective furnace never can. My head and neck are hot from the sun and I twist and turn my shoulders to take advantage of the warmth, to let go of winter's tension.


I should move. I should get up, do something, stir my stumps, get a move on. Work awaits. While I sit I could be sorting through the box of file folders sitting in the upstairs hall—folders I transferred from the top left drawer of my two filing cabinets. Why are all four of those drawers full to bursting, when I practically never add anything to them? It's all old stuff, and the time has come to rid the house of all old stuff (excluding the two human inhabitants). We've reached the stage where the burning question is "Do we want the kids to have to go through all this?" That's the question, and there are days of lethargy when my answer is "Why not? Let them sort through it." But that is not the answer of a dutiful parent, a responsible adult, so I go at least so far as to move the folders from the drawer to a box. Some day I will watch some riveting old film with one eye and with the other eye and half my brain I will make decisions about old papers: Keep? Pitch? Keep? Pitch?


But right now I am sitting in the sun dreaming of spring—that two-day period when crocuses dare to bloom.


The other way to sit is more conscious, by definition, but I have trouble doing it in this room, in this chair. If I were to throw off my lethargy I could go to my little room, close the door, turn on Max-the-Space-Heater, and summon up guides and teachers. I could sit in awareness with my body, my self, the sounds I hear. I could smell the smoke of sweetgrass or white sage and be open to what might happen.


When I sit like that, periodically calling my mind to stop its puppy-like wanderings away from where I am and want to be, I feel I could sit there forever. This feeling is totally different from my lazy, sun-absorbing loll in the big chair at the south window. There's sitting and then there's sitting. And whichever one I am involved in, I want it to last forever, though for opposite reasons: the one entrapped by lethargy, the other enmeshed in mystery.



Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, October 21, 2018


The maple tree in my front yard is a gleaming golden glory after 3 in the afternoon, when the sun hits it squarely. In the last few days its top leaves have let go, so those bare ruined branches reach toward the sky while the lower two-thirds of the tree remains golden.


But my tree pales in comparison with the Dearborn Street gingko I passed last week. It still has all its leaves, and the mid-morning sun was turning it into a golden torch. How can people walk past it without bowing and paying reverence to the beauty? Well, I must admit I did. I admired it, but I didn't genuflect or even stop for long. In my defense I say that no one likes the Pharisee-like overkill of ostentatious adoration. My internal admiration will have to suffice.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What Might Have Been

A vain concept, "what might have been."

Eat yourself up.

Poison your memories with recriminations

of "if only."

Taint every part of your life

with the better version,

the Monday-morning-quarterback view

of what you coulda shoulda woulda done

if only you'd been smarter, richer, wiser,

less this way or more that.


Or: let it go.

Those paths untaken might be the subject

of a momentary pity party,

but going to that there shindig will get you

nothing but regrets.


Take the sweetness from the past

(those parts of it you can remember)

but don't be pulled into the underworld

of that non-parallel Universe.

There's a reason we call it the past:

It has passed.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Thanksgiving Day

When I was young. we always went to The Farm for Thanksgiving Day. But the preparations started at home for my mother, Eileen. She worked to make all of us presentable, even as she prepared her own contribution to the day's feast (surely the ubiquitous green bean casserole was among her contributions).  What else she carried to The Farm I don't remember, but I'm pretty sure she was responsible for the salad.


Erase from your mind the idea of pretty little organically grown leaves sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and a little lemon juice and sea salt. That hasn't yet become our salad. You have to wait fifty more years for that in Middle America.


In the early '50s, a feast-day salad meant not lettuce but the Jello salad I wrote about a couple of months ago: lime Jello, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, canned crushed pineapple, and pecans.


Eileen this the night before, letting it gel in a big flat baking dish. To serve it at The Farm, she would place a square of it on top of a chiffonade of iceberg lettuce (that's what made it nutritious).


So what else did Eileen prepare as her part of the Thanksgiving dinner? Perhaps the candied sweet potatoes, resting coyly under their puffy white blanket of marshmallows.


She might have made the soft dinner-rolls, but they were more likely to have been left to our Aunt Jeannette, The Farm's doyenne, so that they could be served piping hot from the oven.


As Eileen struggled to finish up all her preparations—us, the food, her own appearance—Daddy had dressed himself and gone to the car to wait. After one or two of us had straggled out of the house and into the car, he became impatient. (Well, he was always impatient, my father; he was a quick man and expected everyone to be just as quick as he was.) He began honking the horn to alert Eileen to the fact (in case she didn't already know) that it was time to leave. Honk-honk. Pause of a minute or two. Another child pops out of the front door and runs to the car. Honk!


"WHAT is she DOing?" Daddy would say in exasperation. He truly had no idea at all why she was running late. How could he know? HE'd never tried to fit in all the things she was supposed to do on this busy morning. Honk!


Finally Eileen was ready. Her contributions to the feast were tucked in the back of the station wagon, along with Mike and Jerry ("You boys keep your hands away from the food!").


Off we went, over the river and through the woods, to The Farm. "There it is! I see it first!" "No, I saw it first!" "Did not!" "Did too!" Etc. We were at The Farm. We drove up the drive south of the house and parked beside Uncle John T's car. The farm dog was an unfriendly black-and-white border collie mix that hated anyone who didn't actually live there with him. He barked and snarled around the car until John T called him off. Then we piled out and tumbled into the kitchen.


The Farm kitchen on Thanksgiving Day! The turkey has been in the oven since eight in the morning and has been regularly and patiently basted by Aunt Jeannette as she sped around the kitchen preparing the rest of the meal. Let's see. If Eileen brought the sweet potatoes, the green bean casserole, the "salad", and pumpkin pie, Jeannette would have been responsible for the mashed potatoes, the dressing, the cranberry relish (two kinds, both homemade), the rolls, the Brussels sprouts, and the creamed onions. Plus additional pies, of course.


The really hard part of preparing this meal was peeling enough itty-bitty onions for a crowd. Even using the old trick of parboiling them in their skins for a minute or two, it was still tedious to peel so many tiny onions. So Jeannette always did that job first thing in the morning (right after putting the turkey in the oven). Once they were peeled she simmered them until they were tender and cloaked them with a smooth white sauce made with both milk and cream. By the time we arrived, of course, the onions were ready to be popped into the oven for a final reheating.


The homemade jams and jellies and relishes had already been brought up from the cellar: translucent watermelon pickles, sweet and sour and with a smooth soft-crisp texture like nothing else in this world; corn relish; plum jam, thick and tart; and strawberry preserves fit for a king, a tribe of Johnsons, or a soft doughy homemade roll.


How many potatoes did Jeannette have to peel for that crowd? Seven to ten adults and a dozen children, some of them in their I'm-starving teen years? I always allow two potatoes per person when I make mashed potatoes (plus a couple extra for the pot). So that would make 38 potatoes, minimum. I think she started early. Nowadays, I've perfected ways to hold mashed potatoes for an hour or so, but when I was young, you simply didn't "hold" mashed potatoes. Potatoes were to be cooked and mashed at the last minute, no matter how awkward this was for the cook. But at least they would have been peeled and quartered in advance, covered with cold water in their pot, ready to put on the flame. The cream, milk, and butter that would enrich them were gently warming and melting on top of the stove (no need to put them on a burner; the stove-top was well-warmed by the oven's turkey-roasting).


By the time we arrived it was nearly time to seat ourselves at the table, which was actually two: the big dining room table for the adults, and a smaller table, half-in and half-out of the dining room, for all the children. The six of us, plus John T and Jeannette's three boys—that's nine around the children's table—though of course older children graduated to the adult table from year to year, crowding that one but depleting the children's group.


The groaning board of the table was open for business. The platters of food were passed from person to person, rather than being served by John T or Jeannette. Children's plates were fixed first, so by the time adults had finally put a little bit of everything on their plates, the children had progressed from eating to throwing food and were now dismissed to the upstairs, with a promise that they'd be called back for dessert.


We all stuffed ourselves on mashed potatoes, dressing, and turkey covered in mahogany gravy that was salty and smooth. We ate enough to choke a horse.


When did this harvest holiday descend from being a day of giving thanks for the harvest into a gluttonous feast? What god were we propitiating by eating more than our share? It was clear from the way the meal was presented that "more than our share" WAS our share, was indeed what we deserved. Do I sense a connection here with the over-consuming sense of entitlement that dogs us today?


Well, that was then and this is now. Some of the family traditions have survived. others are long gone. For my part today, I'd cheerfully eat just mashed potatoes and gravy for my meal, with a piece of pecan pie for dessert.


And since I've brought the subject up, here are a couple of pecan pie tips. The first I adapted from Paul Prudhomme's family cookbook; the second is my own. Toast a cup of pecans until they are deep, dark brown, then grind them almost to a paste in the food processor. Add that paste to your usual filling of eggs, sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Second secret: replace the corn syrup with an equal amount of sorghum syrup, also called sorghum molasses. Mix in a lot of whole pecans, which will rise to the top and form that nutty crunchy layer. Eat it for breakfast the next day, if there's any left over.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, September 30, 2018


All the time, questions.

There are days when a little certainty

would help me make it through.

Don't take this complaint too literally, please.

I assure you I'm not looking for the smug certainty

evinced by those who say they have all the answers.

Count on it,

their rigidity will end in tears.

Though I'm tired of my non-stop questions,

I'd rather have them and their provoking curiosity,

their soul-engaging insecurity,

than all the arrogant breast-thumping

of those who have the answers

and who expect us to swallow and follow.


No, I take back my initial weariness with questions.

There are worse things for the soul

than a little uncertainty.



Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Updraft of Light

Your "updraft of light"

is in opposition,

I can only assume,

to the downward pressing

black cloud that is sometimes

my familiar.


I used to know, if fleetingly,

this updraft of light,

which suffused the atmosphere

with the possibility of joy.


Up is better than down,

they would have us believe.

Yet the pull of gravity

(all downward, as I understand it)

is essential to who we are.

We fasten our feet to earth

with magnets of consciousness,

and it is this awareness that allows us,

in our headier moments,

to follow the updraft of light.


My black cloud pressing down, down,

therefore, anchors me

and ultimately allows me

at times

to be carried by the updraft

to a lighter life.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Shifting Realities

It's all shifting. Everything I've thought and done, the way I've lived for the last 35 years—all changing. My former concerns no longer concern me. The future is unclear, though one of my shifts has been the realization that the future is actually supposed to be unclear—that's the point. And (another change), I accept now that I may not be part of the future when it arrives.


Is this resignation? Is it the beginning of enlightenment? Or is it something new that I haven't found the words for? And of course I may never find them, since the words that used to be my companions are abandoning me.


My taste in reading has changed. I found myself engrossed in a re-reading of Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, her 500+-page history of the fourteenth century. A big change from E-Z-read mysteries.


Sometimes I think I've reached a plateau that requires me to retire from the world and spend my time doing only tai-chi and toning. Given my strongly held convictions—which do battle with my reluctance to be an activist—perhaps the greatest help I can give to the world I live in is simply to move the chi—move it, waft it, send it, absorb it, let compassion flow through me and in me and out of me into the wide world. Intend harmony. That's what I can do. I can intend and intone harmony.


It is difficult to maintain this intention when I face what we call real life, but I think that difficulty might be the edge against which I must rub in the future. Reconcile the differences. Spread harmony.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog: