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Kelowna: Accidentally the Best Day Off in a Long Time

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Today, at Hambleton Art Gallery on Kelowna’s Ellis Street, the owner asked me what I was doing with my day. I told him I was Gallery Hopping, to which he asked if I was in the market, and I sighed, and told him, I wish.

Currently, I work as a barista at Starbucks while furthering my forever career as a novelist. No art purchasing for me. Still, somehow this week the scheduling diva at Starbucks saw fit to give me a three-day weekend, and since earlier this week I finished editing my third novel in a month — effectively accomplishing my January writing target several days in advance — and since this morning I ordered the hard copies of the novel I will be launching in March (The Way of Things – Book Two in the Lakeland Series), I decided to run with the weekend.

On Sunday, I may possibly head to church to hear my son’s new girlfriend sing. In the afternoon, I am heading to UBCO because my daughter is playing on the JR Heat team and they have practice. And Monday I am heading to Vernon to visit my sister and get the tour of her newly purchased home. Which left today free.

I had only one definite goal for my day — head to Kelowna Art Gallery, where I worked last year, to visit Ryan and return the Margaret Atwood book he loaned me. Other than that, my Saturday was a large maybe. Maybe I’d drive over the bridge and go for a walk along the boardwalk in Peachland. Maybe I’d call up a friend and reconnect. Maybe I’d hit up a pub or go dancing. Maybe I’d take my computer on a road trip to some small cafe somewhere with an internet connection to the world. Or maybe I’d wing it.

I picked wing it.

I’d honestly forgotten that I’d need to pay for parking downtown until I popped in at Starbucks on my way to KAG. My need for caffeine has morphed since working for Starbucks. While I waited for my order (Irish Cream Americano, which, unfortunately I did not receive as ordered but didn’t even notice until I was in my car and realized my drink was iced rather than hot but who cares ‘cuz I’m on days off and this is good, too, and caffeine is caffeine and I’m already driving, and boy, that was a good U-turn I just performed — away I go!), I chatted with Dan, store regular and karaoke facilitator, and he told me a story of parking downtown and I went, oi! I’m gonna need change.

It boded well for my gallery visit that after performing a second U-turn (this one a bit scarier by virtue of its occurring on Water Street in haste), I found a perfect parking spot directly in front of gallery doors. Then I stood in a Winnie the Pooh kind of day and waited extensively for the nice french-speaking couple to figure out how to operate the parking metre so I could pay for my spot.

Once inside the gallery, though, it was good times. I got to catch up with my colleagues, and Ryan took me on a private tour of the exhibits. Then he set me loose to explore on my own, and I discovered the new exhibit, F#Minor (or something like that, I forget). In it, the artist has created a board full of amplifier cones of various sizes, each corresponding to different musical settings, and all motion sensitive so that when you hover near (without touching – do not touch the art – even if tempted) you can create a symphony with the wave of an arm. Well! Once I discovered that, I went to town! I had the place to myself (except for the security cams, but whatever), so I went a little nuts.

First, I very politely stepped to the threshold of the art piece. In response, it started to hum. A lovely soprano hit a note and sustained it. Next, piano keys chimed.

I walked to the left, and the tones changed. By the time I made it to the far end of the piece, I had electric guitars wailing and drums and bass throbbing, and I WAS HAVING FUN! To the left, whispered voices and cackling laughter and squealing feedback turned the darkened room I was standing in into the set of a horror flick. AND IT WAS AWESOME!

I’d completed a polite, investigatory circuit, and now it was time to get my money’s worth (ha! I’m still a member. I get in for free.) I ran up the left to a storm of sound. In front of the percussion section, I whirled and twirled and danced, and quite frankly, felt the pagan side of my Celtic ancestry doing its best to surface as I danced in the dark to a throb of sound in a circle under a dark-as-night space.

Then, I let my inner conductor out, and I pointed, and I stabbed, and I stoked up that band one hand motion at a time.

In other words, go see it. You’ll love it.

Stopping in at Hambleton Galleries after visiting KAG was completely a spur of the moment impulse. The art at Hambleton is so completely different from KAG, that I always find them a good pairing. At KAG, the art tends to take cerebral twists. At Hambleton, a lot of local artists are represented, a lot of nature and landscape work is done in various styles. I get off on both, so they both make me happy. Plus, they are a block apart, and once again, I found parking directly in front. So, good times!

Inside Hambleton, I did a fairly quick circuit. I hadn’t paid for my parking this time (hahahahaha City of Kelowna!), and I didn’t want to overly tempt the metre masters with my parking roulette. Still, I took photos of my favourites along with the artists names (I will research them online later), and I fantasized about where I’d place certain pieces in my house after my clearly-needed lottery win. Then I realized, wait, after the lottery win, I will buy a new place with walls better designed to facilitate my obvious need for an art collection, so… But in all seriousness, the work at Hambleton was gorgeous, and I noticed one thing I hadn’t seen before — not only do they have prices listed, they have monthly payment amount suggestions listed. I could actually afford $57 a month for the gorgeous statue of the sun being swallowed by the silhouetted tree’s gnarled arms. And that is a fact which I can’t seem to get out of my head.

I left the art world behind and decided against driving across the bridge. That meant, no Peachland today. Instead, I drove out to the Mission and parked at the beach. Getting out of my car, I was definitely under-dressed for the wind coming in off the lake. Art Gallery clothes are not winds-of-60-km/hr clothes, and I would later read that winds were reaching that level today.

I have a thing for the wind. Always have. For most of my life, I’ve worn my hair long, and there is just something about the feeling that rises up inside my spirit when I am standing, facing into the wind, breathing it in while my hair whips around in cyclones battering my skin like Medusa and her snakes. It is something good. It makes me feel wild, and alive, and invigorated, and somehow settled, internally, all at the same time. It’s a feeling which defies the boundaries of words, which I’ve never managed to satisfactorily capture. But I know it when I feel it. Standing in the wind at the beach, I felt it today.

The surf was crazy, the noise ricocheting around me as it spent itself in temperamental tantrums against the shoreline. That, alone, would not have kept me standing out there in my too-thin shirt. The kite skiers, though, they kept me rooted to the beach long after I could no longer feel my fingers. I took video clips and photos until my phone battery was all but spent, and thrilled to the aerial acrobatics of these — possibly insane — gladiators of the wind. And decided on the spot that someday, an adrenaline junkie kite skier will be a hero in a book with my name on it.

I climbed into my car and cranked the heater while considering my options. The truth was, I wanted to get a little exercise today, and it was simply too cold at the beach to walk. I was close to the Mission Sports Fields, though, and potentially there would be shelter from the wind there, so that became the plan. When I got there, though, I found the path I intended to beat gated off, so I changed course. You can do that when you are on day one of three days off and you are winging it. I drove one driveway further, and parked at the Capital News Building — aka, the library.

I found a spot inside the library where I could charge my phone, and sat waiting for the battery to come back to life. While doing so, I purused the local book stacks (fiction). I picked up one called The Horseman, which turned out to be set in World War 1 (not my thing) so I put it back. I wandered over to Mary Higgins Clark’s selection deliberately, because she died at the age of 92 yesterday. In her obit, which I read in bed this morning while cuddling Lily, it said she wrote about women surviving difficult odds. I didn’t know that. I only remember she wrote about a woman who won the lottery and then became a crime solver. I don’t know. It’s been awhile since I’ve read one of her books. What was interesting to me, though, was learning she started her writing career by looking at her bookshelf and then giving herself permission to write what she liked to read. Kudos, Mary, I did exactly the same thing!

I’d had a low-grade headache all morning, and while in the library waiting on my phone, it finally got past the Slightly Aggravating stage and made it to the This Bites stage. I popped another pill, and when I next stood and discovered I was both mildly wobbly and also nauseous, I remembered that I had as yet forgotten to eat anything other than coffee. I figured pub fries might just do the trick to soak up some of the Advil overdose I might potentially be suffering, and since I knew there was a pub in the Capital News Building, I decided to seek it out. On my way, though, I realized there was a concession stand between the pub and myself, and that seemed a faster route to take. I purchased chicken fingers and a Gatorade, and I wandered.

And next thing you know, I was accidentally standing behind the goalie’s net at what I first thought (due to the jerseys) to be a Kelowna Rockets game (Why is it free? Is it okay for me to be standing here? Nobody’s kicked me out so far, so I guess I’m going to continue standing here and by the way, this ROCKS!). I realized, once the score made it to 13-3 halfway through the second, that this might not be THE Rockets. Do the Rockets have a Junior team? I texted the question to my sixteen year old daughter, source of all pop-culture knowledge. Her response was, look for this guy — photo included in her text — he’s so pretty. I responded, no, he’s not playing. Her response, do their jerseys say WHL? My response, I’ll check next time they slam into the glass in front of me. Answer, no, but the glass held, so all good.

I’m more a bump-set-spike/love-means-nothing kind of athlete than a slam-your-mate-into-the-boards/ punches-for-penalties kind of athlete, so this was both novel and fun for me. I mean, yeah, I’ve been to hockey games before, and I watch it on TV some, but I don’t think I’ve ever stood directly behind the goalie’s net before. It was kind of awesome, actually. The sounds of the game down at that level were unbelievable — and loud. I LIKED IT. The size of these guys was daunting. The speed they were skating at was really something impressive. And yes, they were constantly doing their best to break the glass in front of me with their opponent’s shoulder. And I am such a girl that when they rammed each other into the glass directly in front of me that one time and the sound of the thudding bodies ricocheted like blow-back from a gun and the boards thunked and the glass which was all that was keeping these two monsters from including me IN the game wobbled, I will admit that I took an involuntarily step back and I think possibly closed my eyes. Eek. So much for my career as a sports photographer!

I stayed to the end of the second period. Then, with my daughter wanting details about who exactly I was watching, I wandered over to the booth some women were manning and asked permission to ask an uninformed question — who am I watching? What level is this? Bantam. Which, I learned roughly translates to fourteen and fifteen year olds. Very large ones. When I mentioned to the women that my daughter was asking, they said, “Just tell her, they all skate. And tell her to stay away from all of them.”

Sound advice, obviously.

I left after that and headed for home and the roast beef I planned for dinner. After eating, I picked Sheena up from the Heat Volleyball game, then Lily and I zonked out on my sofa. I woke up with the headache problem solved, but the new problem of… it’s now 2:42 am and who’s not tired? Me. I’m not tired. But that’s okay, because without planning well, any of it, really, I just had the best day off I’ve had in months. Completely by accident. Thank you, Kelowna!

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