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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Full Moon

Under the fire of the great moon's fullness I list

what it is time to release.


The ember of my pen scrawls across the ivory paper,

itemizing traits too long allowed

to chafe my heart with their unfittingnesss.


Once acceptable—

even necessary to who I was then—

this thorny carapace no longer serves,

nor is it the face I wish to present

to the world.


So onto the paper goes prickliness,

then joined by the mask of aloofness and superiority.

And when the list is complete,

I fold the paper and light it with the fire of that moon.

And I confine the ashes

to the cleansing waters of a flowing river.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
ood blog:

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Fat Squirrel, a Fable

Fat Squirrel was the kingpin of the neighbourhood. He gathered more nuts than any other squirrel, and there were some who questioned his tactics. A few had seen him spying on other squirrels as they buried, in scattershot fashion, their cache for the coming winter. And as soon as the coast was clear, Fat Squirrel (or so they said) would make a beeline to the newly buried nuts, stuff them into his cheeks, and take off to hide them in his own favourite places.


Luckily for him, no squirrel ever remembers where he buried his nuts, so they didn't even realize that Fat Squirrel had made off with their stores.


Fat Squirrel, as you might imagine, was not universally liked. Yes, he was sleek and furry, with a pelt that would have been a lovely addition to a squirrel coat, if they were still making such things. And we must acknowledge that Fat Squirrel was aware of his looks. More than once we find him hunkered beside a puddle admiring his beautiful rat-like face, his opulent tail, and the burnished gloss of his flanks. Oh yes. Fat Squirrel was The Man—or The Squirrel—and he ruled over the poor slobs who were less devious—that is, successful.


Unfortunately, Fat Squirrel's cleverness was not all-encompassing. He lacked street smarts. He stopped one fine morning to admire himself in a gutter puddle. Others saw it coming, but they didn't warn him (why would they?), so Fat Squirrel had no chance to escape the diving hawk that swept from the sky and hauled him off, screaming, to serve as breakfast for her babies waiting in the nest.


Moral: If you insist on being Top Gun, remember that the little guys you cheat aren't going to be watching your back. You're on your own.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Empty Sky

Cloudless, I agree, but not empty.

Bird-free at the moment, perhaps.

Even the wind is invisible

exactly because no drifting clouds

reveal its passing presence.


And yet this empty sky is full of mysteries,

full of unseen beings that we intuit

but that we deny or discount

when imagination fails us.


Since nothing can be proven either way,

is it not more joyful and more beautiful

to posit the empty sky as pulsating

with invisible Spirit?


I don't think that's the same

as Monsieur Pascal's waffling wager.

But maybe it is.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Summer Breezes

No sheets flap to the rhythm

of today's summer breezes.

No shirts dangle from their tails,

sleeves twisting like acrobatic arms

beside the collared neck.


No. We're a civilized tribe now,

eschewing contact with nature

whenever we can in favour of convenience.

Each generation teaches the next

so that soon there remains no racial memory

of how to clip the sock toes, paired;

how to overlap the tea towel edges

for greatest efficiency;

how to choose the sunniest spot,

the sunniest hours of the day;

and how to watch the Western sky for signs of rain

so all the hanging wash can be gathered in,

safe and dry,

before the opening clouds

spoil the day's labours.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Learning by Heart

I like minimalist poets and short poems so I can make it through to the end in one go. I am abashed to admit that the very act of reading poetry makes me lose interest in reading poetry.


I want to love poetry. I want to have a mind filled with lines—whole stanzas, even—of poetry to entertain me

when I can't sleep or should I ever find myself in solitary confinement—though I'll admit that at this stage of my life

being in solitary is less likely than the possibility of a sleepless night.


A year or two ago, in response to Kim Rosen's Saved by a Poem, I determined to learn by heart "The Art of Losing", by Elizabeth Bishop. It's a poem I adore for its cleverness

of form, among other things. I worked and worked and worked on learning that poem by heart. Here's what I remember: "The art of losing isn't hard to master . . ."


That's the first line. The art of losing is even easier than Ms. Bishop imagined, if what you're losing is your memory.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


I refuse to believe what someone just told me: that regret is the final emotion. I will not let my whole life be boiled down to that sad feeling. I'm helped in this resolve, of course, by my failing memory, which even as it limits my recollection of joyful and beautiful occasions, events, and people, also rids my mind of a lot of those more painful episodes—the kind that lead to regret.


So I can't say that I have no regrets. If I set my mind to reviewing my history I can find quite a few. But I won't go there. I won't ruin my final two, five, ten, or whatever years by dredging up my failures, my sins of commission and omission, my days of self-inflicted sorrow. I'm letting it all go. And instead I'll pay attention to spring.


In this most beautiful spring ever encountered, I find walking easy. I let the joy of smelling a lilac bush push me on to the next one, each step propelled by the expectation of yet another lilac. Sometimes, in between the lilac encounters, I come to a bridal wreath spirea, trailing its stems full of tiny white blossoms down to the ground. So, a lilac, a spirea, another lilac—and thus I walk in beauty from home to my destination.


With Georgia (10) last week as we approached her house I saw a large lilac bush ten feet away and was moving toward it when I saw another (albeit smaller) at the edge of her own yard, and closer to the street. I went to it and smelled it, exclaiming over the scent. Georgia followed me over and smelled it. I was trying to explain that it is essential to smell any lilac bush you come across during this long and lovely spring because the flowers don't last. She had trouble with the concept that the spring flowers—so present in May and June—will actually disappear. The shrubs will remain, but the flowers—and the scent—will disappear until next spring.


Since we were approaching her front door as I was (preachy Nana) explaining this, I'm not sure I got through to her with the need to inhale as much spring as we can while it's here. I'll re-emphasize it next year if the topic arises.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Making Sense of the World

Making sense of the world! Would that be the work of a moment? Would one simply ask, "Oh World, how are you ordered? Please reveal your workings to me now, if you don't mind ..."


No, I don't think it works that way. I think you just have to keep noticing and writing and asking and allowing and releasing (where would we be without all those New Age gerunds?)


I'm noticing sounds that I didn't even know existed. Music calls me less even as tiny domestic noises intrigue me. I stand at the counter, lemon half in one hand, pointy paring knife in the other, and I dig into the lemon flesh searching for seeds. One seed. Two seeds. Some lemons are seedy, some seedless, and you can't predict the seed-content just by looking at the uncut lemon. As Georgia used to say (when she was only four), "You never know . . . " When my knife tip finds a seed, I flip it into the sink (even though I know I'll just have to retrieve it later for the compost bin) for the sheer joy of hearing the tiny "plip" of one lemon seed hitting a stainless steel sink. So satisfying.


Or I take an ice tray from the freezer. There are only three reasons why I do this. First, every Sunday I put three ice cubes on each of my five orchid plants, all of which were gifts. Next, in the summer I add a single ice cube to a large glass of water to make it more interesting than the tepid tap water. And lastly, every couple of months I make myself a Negroni (equal parts gin, Campari, and Dubonnet) on the rocks.


These are my three reasons for removing an ice tray from the freezer. But here's a reason to do it even if there were no orchids or Negronis: when I run cold water over a just-removed ice tray, the ice crackles in the most enchanting way (chik-a-chik, chik-a-chik) as it shakes off its frozen-ness and loosens from the tray. Chitter-chitter.


Listening is one way to make sense of the world.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Signs and Portents

I'm open to signs (though apparently deaf to their meanings). So when a flock of crows flies by me the minute I step onto the deck to do my morning chi gung, I pay attention. Especially when it's crows we're talking about.


No sooner had I lifted my arms to the sky than I heard three quick caws. As I moved my head from side to side in the Swimming Dragon, I saw the entire group fly by in response to the leader's caws. East to west they went, in twos and threes, in tens and twelves.


Don't tell me, because I already know, that this is what the crows do every morning. And I know they will return as a flock when the sun is setting, having put in a full day of doing crow business. But my knowing that this flight is but the crows' habit doesn't take away the thrill. And the wondering: what am I meant to deduce from this about how to spend my day?



Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, May 19, 2019


The great mystery isn't solved

until it's over,

"it" being the short life

we were birthed into

(for whatever purpose, which is also a mystery

to all but a fortunate few who retain the memory of that time before).


How we love, we humans,

to solve

(to claim to solve)

the mysteries,

then to recruit to our view

as many others as we can,

looking for company in our certitude

that this,

or that,

is what will happen when it's over—

we revel in this sureness instead of

fixing our laser gaze on life,

on what's here now

for us to experience

(yellow tulips, red cardinal).

I will plunk a chair in the front yard

to contemplate the tulips

while my heart sings

with the spring sound

of the newly returned neighbourhood cardinal.



Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Look back not in anger,

though that might be a first

and justifiable


Look back in sorrow if you must:

for opportunities ignored,

slights held tightly,

events uncomprehended,

needs unmet.


Look back with forgiveness.

How wonderful to do this, if you can.

Forgive yourself.

And then the others, none (well, few) of them

malicious but simply thoughtless,


and so self-concerned

that you were not even

on their radar screen.

(Note the parallel with your own self-concern.)


Forgiveness needn't account for

the totality of hurts

and scalding words

and misunderstandings.

Forgiveness needs only to forgive.

The essential (did I not tell you yet?)

is to start with yourself.

How wonderful.

How terrible.

How hard.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Too Much Time at the Window

When I should be up and doing,

I'm still in the sleek rocker by the window.

My vista is not a frozen lake

or a Norway spruce

but an urban landscape.

I watch the sidewalks, both sides of the street,

blessedly free of ice now,

though until recently

the lawns were patchy with leftover snow.

The neighbours race to their workdays,

their faces tense.

They see me spending too much time

at the window

and perhaps they envy me my leisure.



Urban vista or no,

from my window I once saw a young fox

catch and eat an even younger squirrel,

although the age references are imaginary

for what do I know of a fox's age,

or a squirrel's?

I'm quibbling over this

to avoid telling you how I felt

when through the window

I saw fox killing squirrel.



Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Cardinal

I was brought up Catholic by an Irish Catholic mother (Methodist father who, religiously, didn't count). Having broken with the Church by the age of 21 (do I need to enumerate the reasons for you?), I brought up my three children in a non-religious way, which I regret now to a certain extent. They have no background knowledge of the Judaeo-Christian culture in which, like it or not, they are immersed.


And of course, being totally uneducated in, say, Catholic ways, rituals, and history, they have been unable to pass along any such knowledge to their own children. Thus leaving me with five grandchildren who don't have a clue.


This was brought home to me while I was reading aloud to G (9) the start of Volume 2 of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (the ultimate anti-Church and even anti-God rant, presented as the most seductive of adventure stories). In this chapter we are at a meeting of high-up Church members, including a Cardinal.


Now, one of the tropes of the book is that all humans have a daemon, an animal (always of the opposite sex) who completes the person. Pre-puberty, the daemons are capable of changing rapidly from, for example, butterfly to weasel to goldfinch to wildcat. At puberty, when the child's personality has begun to stabilize, so does the daemon, settling into a form that reflects some dominant characteristic of the human. (The villain of the trilogy, Mrs. Coulter, is a beautiful but evil woman whose daemon is a golden monkey. The male protagonist's daemon is a snow leopard.)


So there they are around the table, these prelates and clerics and Mrs. Coulter, and they are discussing whether or not to continue torturing the witch they have captured (I believe I told you the book is anti-Church; and this is only the second of the three volumes).


G is listening intently even as she devotes her creative energies to making tiny figures with polymer clay. As the Cardinal joins the conversation she gets confused. Why is he called a cardinal? I say, it's the name for a high-ranking churchman, just below the pope.


She listens some more and it's clear she's still confused. Why is he called a cardinal?


Finally she's able to articulate the problem: every time I say "Cardinal" she thinks it is someone's daemon. I show her the capital C for this one (actually, we haven't yet had a cardinal as a character's daemon, though we've had a goose, an owl, and a raven, among the birds).


G gets it, sort of, but she still thinks it's a very weird title for a high-ranking cleric. And I become aware of how abysmally ignorant she is of Church matters. The knowledge I take for granted, having imbibed it almost literally with my mother's milk, is completely absent from her education.


This is a good reminder of how separate we all are. Each of us, on some level, thinks that we all share a common background—with minor variations, of course, but still. And there's not an iota of truth to this assumption.


My five grandchildren not only are ignorant of what a capital-C Cardinal might be, but they don't even know they don't know, and if they did know, they wouldn't care. It's a new world. Theirs.

Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Spring Has Been a Little Late This Year

Spring has been a little late this year,

but we are Grateful for Green

(Alliteration alleviates life's labours.)


Grateful for green at winter's waning

we will grasp the globes of lilac-hued lilacs

and shout hosannas skyward.

Vocal gratitude for green

gives way to thanks for flowering friends

of all stripes:

Pied and dappled leaves of grass

and trees and bushy shrubs that burgeon

through the rough days of this year's spring

(mock spring, maybe spring, almost spring)

and April's cruelty of yes, no, never.

Patience is called for.

"Never" is not true.

See the buds and believe;

remember that every year it happens.


Spring has been a little late this year.

When it arrives,

all are grateful for its

gracious greenery.


Copoyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Moving Along

So many ways to say the same thing. So many teachers to say it again, in a new way—his way, her way. So many helpers to teach us. So many opportunities to learn, to change. All we need to do is grab onto one of those. And if we forget or falter because of life's curve balls, then there will be yet another opportunity down the line.


A chiding way to interpret all this might be to say: so there's no excuse! No excuse for not finding your path, for not forsaking the less productive by-ways, for "failing" as some might judge it.


Or we could look at it instead as a plethora of occasions to hear, an endless sequence of offers for help. A lifetime of helping hands. If at first you don't succeed, watch for signs. Accept the portents.


I need to stop now before I reveal my true Pollyanna nature, always an embarrassment to one who turns an Eeyore face to the world. I wanted to talk about it all: about other worlds, about the unseen but undeniably present influences that guide us (attempt to guide us). I wanted to talk about silence and withdrawal, applied consciously and with difficulty to a busy life.


Synchronicity. Awareness of what joins us in the circle that is a particular moment of our lives. So easy to ignore the signs. It takes practice to cultivate and nurture aliveness to the moment. No matter how often we are reminded, we forget (being human). And yet there is no need for judgment, because the next moment will come, and the next, and the next. As many times as we can, we notice.


Perhaps I see this as equivalent to a death-bed conversion. A life might be lived without consciousness, but it is redeemed even at the very end when the last awareness might be the beauty of a shaft of sunlight through the blinds of the hospital room.


Is that too farfetched? Would that bit of noticing really be equivalent to the dedicated years of a devotee of tiny beauties?


Aha! We're back to judging, here. Who am I to judge? It reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son: he is not punished for his years of unconsciousness. On the contrary, he is fed the fatted calf. Fairness and balance don't enter into it. Comparisons are odious (Emerson said this). Just do your best. Heed the smallest signs. Welcome droplets of joy.


This morning I polished the table in preparation for my writing class, as I always do. After rubbing in the oil and vinegar, I polished and dried each of the three wide leafs using a soft flannel rag. Side to side I went, leaning into it with my whole body. I found that I tucked my left hand behind my back as I swept heavily across the width of the boards, rubbing with the grain of the wood.


I was tossed back into my memory of watching skaters at Nathan Philips Square years ago. In the midst of chaotic newbie skaters and short-stroke would-be hockey players, there was always an older man—Dutch, I fancied him—who skated slowly, with such dignity and sureness, a long glide on the right foot followed by a long glide on the left. As he skated he held one arm casually but firmly behind his back. So peaceful. So comfortable on his skates.


And I was just as comfortable as I stroked the table with a cloth, one arm behind my back. Grace is always available to us.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Heralding the End of Winter

If you want the warmth of the sun,

still low in the sky,

you must walk on the north


side of the street.

You will know, in May,

that winter is over for sure

(if not for long)

when the sun is high enough

to bathe you in light

on the south side of the street

as well as the north.

Watch and wait for that day in distant May.

In the meantime,

keep your eyes peeled for

snowdrops, then

crocuses, then

tulips, and (finally)



You see more with eyes wide open

than when you tightly close them

against the world.



Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Cool, Clear Water

I am not a good swimmer. My bones sink rather than float. We have lived in the same place for forty years and I can count on my fingers and a few toes the number of times I have entered the common outdoor pool.


I don't like changing clothes. I don't like dragging a swimsuit (even that expensive German one I foolishly bought five years ago) up over the lumps and bumps of my body. And I don't like the feeling of walking down those pool steps inch by inch as I feel my uncomfortable way into the cold water.


When I turned sixty I went to Hawaii with a small group to swim (in the wild) with the dolphins. After a week on the big island we flew to Maui (or maybe it was Kauai) to hike the trail that has, I think, seven waterfalls. As we prepared for this hike, the leader said, "Be sure to wear your bathing suit under your clothes, because we'll go swimming in the pond at the top of the trail. And I have to warn you that the water is very very cold."


I panicked. Truly, I have a horror of the cold—and especially cold water on my exposed skin. I seriously considered "forgetting" to wear my suit. "Oh my goodness," I would say, "I totally forgot to wear my swimsuit. Guess I'll have to sit this one out."


Given the cost of the trip, however, and my determination to experience everything on offer, I conformed. I wore my suit under my clothes. I still wasn't sure what I'd do when presented with a freezing lake, but I wore my suit.


We hiked up the slope, seeing beautiful waterfalls and exotic flora and fauna that Ontario doesn't offer. Finally we reached the little lake. We stripped to our suits. There were nine of us in all—two leaders and seven participants. They all dashed over the rocks and threw themselves into the water.


I stayed at the edge. Finally, embarrassed by my own habitual timidity, I decided to join them. They were filling every inch of that pool, from edge to edge, diving under, hanging on to rocky outcrops, playing water tag. And laughing. So I went in.


The inch-by-inch approach will take you only so far when the water is freezing. At some point you just have to prepare yourself to die and plunge in. So I did, with the gasping and shivering and expected discomfort.


And then, in no time at all, I was happy. I was enjoying myself in this cold water. I still wasn't a great swimmer, of course. But I splashed and side-stroked and floated in that unbelievably frigid water. I surprised myself with the new feeling of having changed one of my nay-saying, negative habits. It was the beginning of something new.



Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Unpredictable

In the ideal world

all things will be unpredictable.

Imagine the freedom of not knowing the outcome.


During the sleepless nights

that come with age

there will be no planning:

not of wardrobe choices

not of meals

not of stories to write—

for why (how to) plan when nothing is predictable?


Cause and effect,

those mainstays of conventional wisdom,

will simply vanish as a concept.

All actions and events will be unexpected.

No longer reserved for birthday parties,

the shouts of "Surprise!" will echo

from the mountains,

babble in the flowing brooks,

tumble cheerfully from the throat

of the cardinal.


And the haunting spectre of security

that deludes us

will disappear into the mist,

leaving us free.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

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 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 © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Holding Back

I've held back, truth to tell,

through shyness, circumspection, or,

to give my reluctance its real name, fear.

What horrors might I otherwise have revealed?

I hold back still.


Do not infer that I am silent,

for I can talk my way around a story,

saying everything and revealing nothing.

I hold in reserve the truths

I uncover along the way,

retaining the option

to tell them one day,

some future day when the time is right.


Until then, my words will continue

to spool and spill from the pen.

They do, these stories, go on and on.


Wait for the coming of the blue moon;

wait for the time of not holding back.



Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sharing Words

First, find the right person—

or more than one right person,

though only one at a time—

into whose soft and expectant ear

you will pour the honey of your song.


That's all you need,

for it is the mutual act of hearing/speaking

that stimulates the very tips

of your energy strands--

the ones connecting you to those unseen guardians

who shepherd you (if you let them)

through the byways and alleys of your life.


Don't be profligate with your words.

Spend them only when there are ears that hear.

Otherwise, keep shtum.

Some say, however, that

when no true ears are present,

you can connect directly to the unseen

to get your fix.


Copyright © 2019 Ann Tudor
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