Wednesday 28 March 2012

Overcoat, Part 2

A man phoned me yesterday from the menswear store to tell me my overcoat was in. My extra-long, charcoal, wool (20% cashmere) number I plan on wearing the rest of my life. This was the second such call. A few weeks ago, the coat (which I'd had to order, since coats on racks are too short for my liking) fit way too big. Beautifully long, but too wide in ever other way.
In an earlier entry, I confessed that I like the overcoat Jerry Seinfeld wore in his famous tv show (of which I remain a big fan). Since then I found another model: Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, shot about the same time as the Seinfeld run. In that movie, it's called a topcoat, as in "Officer, [Harrison Ford shouts, trying to escape the pursuing T.L. through a crowd] a man in a topcoat, back there, waving a gun!"
This morning I delayed over tea until the menswear store opened at 10. I got there at 10:02. The store had been open since 9.
"Gerry!" said the well-dressed man. "I'll get the coat."
I tried it on. Dammit but the coat is still too wide (but beautifully long still). This time, the man said, they won't have to order a new one. They'll tailor this one. He made some marks.
I wasn't sure--the damn thing was so wide through the sleeves and body. I was on the edge of calling off the overcoat buy.
But the well-dressed man said the magic words: "Our tailor's Portuguese. He's 60 years old. He's wonderful."
I'll wait.

Friday 23 March 2012

Body Like a Boot

I wiped them down with mink oil just now, thinking I'd stroll this entry.
The boots smell of the mink oil. For the first time in my life I learned to apply it--rub the oil on, in circles. Speed up or slow down according to the Mozart on CBC.
You'll have to put them down to type boots beside the rags beside the sugar bag my sister gave me.
My standard for minking my boots had been with a brush, a second brush to polish. Simply not what mink oil needs.
It needs a hand, either one, preferably both. The second hand follows along inside the boot as you rub your circles into the leather.
I pretended to get into an argument with Suzette Mayr one time in Banff about which boots are the genuine Aussie number--the Blundstones, like mine, or whatever knock-off she wore. Suzette argued back. I happened to knowthe waitress was Aus. We called her over (or maybe I did by myself, but Suzette agreed). Which boots are the real ones, we asked. She picked mine.
Maybe pride ends this entry. It was all a laugh, the thing with Suzette. Too bad about her boots, though.

Monday 19 March 2012

Signs It's Time To Finish My Hillsdale Book

They took down the old flagpole at HMCS Queen.

A black truck was seen entering.

At the turn to Anderson, I couldn't tell what was coming.

Once our family home, this house looked 50 years old.

Something had been written on the pavement.

The entrance to Munroe Park looked uninviting.

Natural gas had been leaking from the valves.

Not much seemed unstrange.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Questions to Ask My Students

What's something she'd always wanted to know?
A woman cries at a bus stop. What's going on?
[these are separate questions]
What would he notice right here and now?
[outside, +15 this aft]
She picks up an old photo of herself. She'd forgotten about it. What does she see?
Would he rather clean his teacup or leave it seasoned like mine?

Tuesday 6 March 2012


Maybe I should stop talking and just get them to write. I think they'd like that more. I guess what I'm doing is a pre-emptive strike toward writing I'd rather read. Don't get romantic, get specific, is the kind of thing I've been saying.
Some students aren't convinced. They're bringing in knives and Russians and south Florida and forgetting that a human being, their character, wants something--which no plot exotica can provide.
I wonder if that's what I shouldn't be saying.
It's taking too long (my fault) to get to material and the workshop fun that goes with it.
Meanwhile, I hope the Raymond Carver stories pay off--the ones in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love in which, as I claimed earlier today, the story lies deep, barely visible through words.

Sunday 4 March 2012


At Westminster United this aft, I opened the Chamber Singers concert program. Item 1, "Sing We and Chant It", which once I'd sung.
In that choir years ago, an eighth note was as fast as I could go but I could hold a tune. And read. Like the other 4 or 5 in the bass section, I clustered close to Daryl, our one proper singer. Daryl knew how to sing and smile at the same time, which the conductor, a Welsman, wanted from all of us, especially for a Renaissance seize the day number such as "Sing We".
This afternoon, seated eight pews back from the stage, See poem as location for voice, I read in my notebook. (I thought I should mention it.)
A single voice, soprano, began to sing from the stage. Sing we and chant it, while love doth grant it. The fa la las came from all around, the rest of the choir rising as a kind of flash mob and filing up to the stage. A series of love songs and death songs followed--madrigals, canons. I went to market, I met swans. I could hear myself.
For their encoure: "Sing We and Chant It" again, the choir filing off.