Archive for the ‘Chucks’ Tag

Shopping Locally   6 comments

It’s hard to imagine but it’s almost a year and a half since I decided to live life in Calgary, a car-centric city if ever there was one, with no car. It seemed like a major decision at the time, and for a while I couldn’t help but remark on how things were different as a result of my decision, harder in some cases, surprisingly not harder in others.

I may have gone through a holier-than-thou phase when I felt myself to be morally superior to all drivers anywhere in the world, not unlike how many of my friends come off when they have managed to quit smoking. By and large, that has subsided and I don’t really even think about it much anymore.

I realized yesterday that there are subtle changes that I could not have imagined when I became a pedestrian and a cyclist and a rider of the C Train, and the most significant of these are the changes in my habits as a consumer.

There was a flurry of snazzy pimped-up sayings on my Facebook page around Christmas encouraging me and everyone else to shop locally and to support independent locally owned businesses. I don’t know if anyone really pays attention to those things, it seems to me we click “Like” on things we already believe anyway and then happily ignore the rest.

For my part, though, I have always tried to support local businesses.


Sandwiched between my two favourite playwrights at Shelf Life Books.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fixture at Caffe Beano – in part because I like the coffee and the people there, but also because it isn’t a national or international chain. I have known all the owners over the years and I am happy to support them with my patronage.

On any account, yesterday (which was a Saturday) I found I had a few extra dollars in my pocket and felt like engaging in a bit of retail therapy. Back when I was a driver, at such times I would get into my car and drive out to West Hills (or some such) and relieve the retail itch in big box stores, almost always with the result of spending far more than I had intended on things that I didn’t really need.

The ink!!!

The ink!!!

But yesterday, I did the same thing on foot, starting out at my favourite Calgary bookstore, Shelf Life Books. Recently, my brother, Tom,  turned me onto the novels of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I had read The Prisoner of Heaven and there at Shelf Life they had The Shadow of the Wind, and so now it’s mine.

When I bought it, they gave me my customary writer’s discount, and if you are a published writer and you tell them that at Shelf Life, you can get the writer’s discount as well. It only amounted to a  few dollars, but it’s a nice touch and who doesn’t like saving money?

From Shelf Life I went to my favourite store on the planet, Reid’s Stationers. While I have had a fetish for fountain pens (and now mechanical pencils) almost since I could walk, I am now developing a serious ink problem. They have some Japanese stuff at Reid’s (pictured here) but it’s so expensive (even with my preferred customer discount) that I have been trying out several of them before I commit myself. I bought a plastic binder for $1.50, but I came away with a pen full of the precious Japanese ink.

There’s a clothing store I like a block west of Reid’s on 17th Avenue called Dick and Jane. Last time I was in they had a coat I liked, a Warrior Brand jacket from Great Britain with fabulous red tartan lining. I felt that I needed a little spring spruce up, something other than the drab black thing that I’ve been wearing for at least three years now. So in I went and out I came with a fabulous spring jacket. They even gave me a discount at Dick and Jane – “just for being who you are,” said the lady at the till – so it clearly doesn’t suck to be me.


I don’t begrudge the money I spend at the store of a local merchant. I somehow think it comes back to me. I paid less for all of these items than I would have, had I driven 5 miles in my car to a big box outlet mall. They all mean more to me, because of the process I went through in buying them.

Cars do nothing towards fostering community. Setting out on foot, supporting local merchants, interacting with one’s friends and neighbours is what community is all about. I encourage you to try it sometime, you just might like it.

Thanks for reading!

PS. I believe Divine is having their big annual sale next weekend and it’s time for a new pair of Chucks. (Please see my post from April 21 of last year.) Anyone want to join me in the afternoon of Saturday March 30 to go on a Chuck-hunting expedition? Leave a comment if you do and we’ll make it happen!

The fabulous tartan lining of my new jacket!

The fabulous tartan lining of my new jacket!

In Search of the Elusive Chucks: Photo Essay   5 comments

My friend the poet and photographer Jude Dillon accompanied me recently on a shopping expedition to Divine Decadence on 17th Avenue SW for my annual spring acquisition of a new pair of Converse All Stars — aka Chucks.

At the front door of Divine Decadence. Obviously I’ve already been next door to Reid’s Stationers where I bought a notebook which I did need and a fountain pen that I didn’t need.I have so many fountain pens now that I don’t need, but I can’t seem to help myself. The same could be said of Chucks. This pair I am in search of today will be pair #4. Oh well.



Atop the stairs preparing for the descent into Decadence. A tad apprehensive, perhaps. It’s a major undertaking that I don’t take lightly.



Holy Moses! Decisions, decisions! Do you ever find that too much choice can lead to paralysis?



A Prufrock moment: Do I dare wear a pair of peach-coloured Chucks?(Or are they tangello? Or is there such a thing as tangello Chucks? What would Prufrock have done? Or for that matter, Elliot? An existential conundrum . . .)




The lovely Megan helping me with the all important decision. We consulted for several hours, I had her people call my people, they did, they took a lunch, I took a nap, but when I woke up I was hungry because I hadn’t had my own lunch. Buying shoes can be exhausting.



The moment of truth. Yes they had the style I wanted and they even had my size, which is no small feat, so to speak, when you’re size 13. A small village of small people could live in one of my shoes. A hamlet. I wonder if Hamlet wore Chucks? If I were directing it, I’d put him in the exact same pair as I’m buying for myself.


Lacing up! This black on black style was recommended to me by my daughter Johanna Stickland who is the most famous fashion model I know and whom I trust entirely as my fashion adviser. She’s in Portugal right now, in case you’re wondering. But she’s going to Concordia in the fall to study photography.


Success! Over the years, my definition of success has become admittedly somewhat narrow. But you can never have too many shoes!




Hopefully I have enough in my account to pay for these suckers! I was once on a date and I had to stop off at the ATM to get some cash. I told my date I wasn’t sure if I had any money in my account. But then I took some out. And so she asked me how much I had in my account and I said around $1,000.00. She said, “So you don’t really know within $1,000.00 what your bank balance is?” And I said “That’s right.” She just shook her head, and then we had a drink.


The photographer. This is as much of the mysterious Jude Dillon as you’re likely to see.




Love yourself: why not? Better than the alternative! A nice reminder. Our trip to Divine was a lovely interlude. I make no secret that I love to support local businesses. Divine is an institution on 17th Ave., the people are friendly, what’s not to like? By the way, Megan asked me to put in a plug for their big sale coming up called Midnight Madness. It’s on April 27th from 7PM till Midnight. Everything in the store on sale up to 80%! (Details at

(I think I’ll head back and reconsider those peach coloured high tops)

Thanks for reading!

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