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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: