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Posts Tagged ‘Kelowna’

One Reason Why Pet Stores Stay in Business

September 29, 2012 2 comments

One Reason Why Pet Stores Stay in Business

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, “His Master’s Voice” (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

I can’t say I’ve ever really connected with animals. I grew up in townhome suburbia where our family wasn’t allowed a dog, I may have accidentally been indirectly responsible for the death of my best friend’s pet rat, I was run over by a dog when I was eight, I certainly DID accidentally kill a pet beetle I had for all of a day (left his hand-made terrarium on the windowsill; he baked under the sun), and I worked for several years as a paperboy, alternately terrified of the larger dogs/cats or just annoyed by the tiny yippers.

(Okay, I’ll explain the rat story. I was tasked to look after the rat while their family was away on vacation. Every third day, I would show up at their place, clean out the cage, play with the rat, and give him new food and water. And that’s what I did. Then, right at the end of their vacation, there was one day when I looked after the rat (and he was fine), then a day’s break, and then the family came home. And the rat was dead. The darn thing WAS over three years old, after all. But yeah, my best friend and I didn’t really ever speak after that.)

English: Pet Chinchilla Русский: Домашняя Шиншилла

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only pet my family ever had was a lovebird. Think budgie, but he chirps a third as much, three times as loud. Really hard to get any work done while the bird’s awake.

So yes, animal empathy is something I’m working on. Something I need to work on. Living with four cats and a Pomeranian for seven weeks this past summer in Kelowna has certainly helped. But I have a lot further to go.

So one day I walked into a pet store to try to connect with all the little critters held within. To see if I could spark that ‘Awww, how cute!’ reflex upon seeing kittens pounce around the storefront window as an old man teases them with a red laser pointer, or the flock of rainbow-coated birds as they spread their sharp wings and let off shrill cries while climbing from wall to wall to wall of their cages. Or the spotted fishes in a tank marked ‘quarantine’. The old chinchilla warmly standing sentry under thick ruffles of hair.

I have a hard-nosed friend who approaches life in a rough and gruff manner, but whenever she comes across a dog being walked, she immediately melts into a crouch with a loud ‘Aww, puppy!’, regardless of the actual age of the animal. That was the emotion I was searching for. But try as I might, I couldn’t muster that irresistible pull toward baby talk and family bonds that others indulge in.

Cockatiel yawning

Cockatiel yawning (Photo: Wikipedia)

That said, I was struck by an impulse all the same – a desire to buy them. Not because I wanted to take these critters with me, but just to take them away from all the layered cages and loud noises, no matter how well lit or fed. Not that these animals would have better lives out in the wild (or the wild of the city), per say, but in this moment, those cockatiels were absolutely doing their darndest – in vain – to try to find enough space to flap about. And I suddenly understood perhaps half of all pet store transactions – a compassionate desire to help.

I am still emotionally detached from them; I take care not to attach human emotion to them, so I wouldn’t say the old chinchilla is lonely, for example, but I did find it hard to watch these trapped animals, such as four cockatiels in a tiny cage, and to not want to give them a home with open space to soar in. Found it hard not to want to set them free.

Even for analytical ol’ me.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Nymphensittichpaar links= wildfarbig gescheckt...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to Forgive a Thief

August 24, 2012 2 comments

How to Forgive a Thief

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

As an unexpected follow-up to my post earlier this week, while I was chatting with an old friend at a coffeehouse in Victoria, my bike’s odometer – which I had forgotten to remove from my bike in the midst of hello-hug-greetings – was stolen.

(sidenote: Always in Victoria! I’ve had bike lights stolen three times, a helmet once, and now an odometer. Never lost anything in Vancouver or Kelowna – bigger crime capitals – oddly enough.)

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynast...

Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynasty odometer horse cart (Wikipedia)

That moment when I realize something of mine has been stolen, sucks. No way around it. It frustrates and angers me. It makes me suspicious and mistrustful of the people immediately around me.

Fortunately, as I mentioned before, I have a coping mechanism in the way of tithing. I can’t get rid of the frustration so easily, but the last thing I want to do is compound these frustrations by adding the financial replacement cost of buying a NEW odometer. I also need to find a way to forgive the thief. So here’s what I’ll do.

Right now, due to my blessed time working the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I have in my budget an August tithing balance of -150.58$. That’s money strictly earmarked towards tithing actions – using the money for a good cause, for gifts, and the like.

First I need to decide upon a replacement cost. The odometer that I purchased cost about 25$, but that was due to a dramatic sale at a Zellers going out of business. I was unable to find a similar odometer at the Zellers here in Victoria, so I can’t expect that amount to cover a new odometer. So I’ll put my replacement cost at the amount for a similar odometer from MECC, which, including taxes, comes to about 45$.

So, emotionally, I offer my odometer as a gift, so I can get over the feeling of being a victim, and be willing to forgive. Financially, I subtract 45$ from my tithing budget, reducing it to -105.58$, and the only hassle for me is the act of going out and buying another odometer, and the time I am currently without one. It could even make sense to put a dollar figure to that time cost, if I found it overly frustrating.

All that said, every incident has its own personality. Today is particularly frustrating because they took the odometer, but not the sensors attached to the wheel… which means that rather than a homeless person taking a bike-light that can be used as a flashlight… today’s voleur has walked away with a piece of useless electronic junk. Which makes forgiveness harder. But without my tithing system it’d be so much worse.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

Thanks for reading.


Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Homewards Bound

August 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Note: I wrote this on the Greyhound back from Kelowna. I seem to pontificate on such rides.

Homewards Bound

After six and a half weeks away, traveling home from Kelowna. The hills, mountains, and other sights are clouded in a grey fog. “Must be a forest fire somewhere,” my billeter told me before dropping me off at the terminal. Apparently smoke from fires blow into Kelowna all the way from Colorado, Alberta, and even Alaska. Wouldn’t have even occurred to me. My still-city-mind thought smog instead.

My legs feel weak, like I’m tired of standing, or haven’t done so in a long time. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed my Kelowna adventure and had some great times with my collaborators which I doubt I’ll forget. They say the best way to hold onto a memory is to make sure you learn something in it, and I did, whether from going wine-tasting to learning how not to use a barbeque (and accidentally flooding the stage with smoke in the process). But with five weeks at the Voice Intensive and then near seven weeks out here, feels like my homes have moved out from under me, be they my new home in Vancouver or the one I was hoping still existed in Victoria.

I’m heading there next. A few days of hard work in Vancouver, then off to the Victoria Fringe Festival on Saturday, off to a city that was home for seven years, a home I feel I’ll need to rediscover. Make new memories on old streets.

I am grateful for all the wonderful people I knew in all of these spaces. I’ve heard it said that gratitude is the way to get out of the satisfaction trap – that trap where satisfaction never lasts because we get used to the blessings around us, and then want more. Gratitude reminds us of the blessings we have. But it is also typically a somewhat backwards-facing emotion. Being grateful for times past.

What would it be like to be grateful for the unknown which is to come? Is that part of hope? Is that satisfying?

Another journey to explore, I suppose.

My Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival Experience

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I was asked to answer a few questions on my experience with the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, and thought I’d share my responses here.

*********************

Rockin' out to Tiger Woods1. What do you think of the opportunity to perform here?
This has been an amazing opportunity and a fantastic experience – it really does feel like a ‘next step’ opportunity for me, to have a chance to step out from the community theatre world / Fringe theatre world and be paid to hone my craft not only as an actor, but as an assistant stage manager as well. I have invested a lot of time and money into this career (including a degree at UVic, and recently, some time with The National Voice Intensive), and to be chosen for this festival was honestly a relief – to know that I had the ability to be paid to do what I love.
Another reason this has felt like a ‘next step’ opportunity is the amount of support we actors have received, through billeting, introductions to the city, and other means. Working here has given me the confidence to, say, try to take another show on the road (such as perhaps aiming for a tour of Fringe Festivals).
I like the idea of outdoor venues, and I think we’ve got a great set up here. That said we did cancel two shows due to rain, and as an almost-Vancouverite, I’d be tempted to let the show go on, even when conditions are even a bit dicey. We had a great show that one performance where we went ‘unplugged’ because the audio equipment was too wet! Or shows can take a ten minute hiatus until weather improves. Or we can offer umbrellas or something. Take a risk. Make it an experience. Half of the joy of performing outside is that… well… it’s outside! Weather exists! We can work with that and create something unique.
Building the Theatre
2. What sort of impact does this opportunity/experience had on you? Your career? Finances?
I am hesitant to keep coming back to the financial angle, but I am approaching performing as a professional career, and part of that equation requires earning at least a decent chunk of one’s income within that profession. Prior to the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I had broken even on a couple of Fringe shows, made a small amount of money in a playwriting competition, and earned 300$ performing at the UFV Director’s Festival, but other than these small successes, I had not yet found that elusive ‘paid theatre contract’. So this opportunity was like blessed manna from the heavens. And while the company may consider the rates to be humble, any paycheque I can earn doing theatre means I have more time in the future to devote to creating and pursuing more theatre, rather than needing to find my rent through a Joe job.
That ‘first opportunity’ is so important for an artist’s confidence. After I won a playwriting competition, I knew I had the ability in that field to create something worthwhile. But acting? Stage management? While I’ve earned a degree in the former and taken on a handful of jobs in the latter, I couldn’t until now point to them and say ‘yes, I have the chops to earn a living here.’
And to be honest? Perhaps the greatest benefit of the whole situation is now I have an amazing experience that I can point to whenever my mother says, ’I know this is something you enjoy, but how are you going to support yourself?’
 
3. How do feel about the whole experience?
I am over-the-moon grateful for this experience. I’ve now been in Kelowna for over a month – the longest I’ve ever traveled away from my homebases of Richmond and Victoria – and it has been a grand adventure, with two more weeks to go! A terrific growth experience to be sure, and one that I will always cherish.
 

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Cast: Simon Mizera, Katey Hoffman, Alen Dominguez, Andrew Wade, and Jaclyn Nestman

More outsider observations in Kelowna

The Summerhill Pyramid, (image: johnschreiner.blogspot.com )

Some more ponderances from my time here in Kelowna:

  • When you hang up towels here, the towels actually get dry before the next morning comes, rather than staying damp all week until you put them in a machine!
  • Further on that note, while the temperature got up to  36 degrees last weekend, I find I’ve not been waking up in a puddle of sweat as can happen in Richmond. Humidity is an odd beast.


  • Inside the pyramid. (image: freestonespirit.ca )

    The Summerhill Winery’s bizarre concrete pyramid is, well, rather unique. (See photos.) (Also, my first wine tasting!)

  • Kelowna has more golf courses per capita than any other city in North America. Makes our show, Golf: The Musical, rather fitting.
  • A silly but awesome store: Milkcrate, a combination vinyl records / pie shop.
     
  • It is disconcerting, trying to, erm, use the facilities, when there is a cat on the counter, leaning its face within two inches of your own, staring right into your eyes.
  • Pretty much every event (such as the Canada Day fireworks) is made better by having an excited five year old boy behind you. ” WOWWW!” “YIPPEEEEE!!!” “COOL!”
  • While bikes are not a threatened species here, and there are even bike lanes, the city is built for cars and trucks. The bike lane between my billeters and our rehearsal hall passes by two ICBC buildings and a couple of offices for driving instructors. I’ve felt a whiff of an air of defensiveness among bikers, as though they need to justify their existence. As I biked home from the Canada Day festivities, a cheery female biker in front of me, upon noticing my presence on the road, shouted out “BEST WAY TO GET AROUND!”. Yes, it is. But there was just something about the way she said it. (She later, while biking past a woman opening the door to her car, smacked said woman on the butt and kept on riding. I don’t know if they knew each other or not.)

    Not too far off from chainsawsuit.com .

  • Across from our rehearsal hall is a store named ‘Knifewear’. I’m imagining pants made of quick-edged blades and it just seems like a bad idea.
  • Where I’m staying, I share the house with four cats and a VERY eager dog (as well as a family). This means that, even when I’m ostensibly ‘home alone’, there is usually somethingstaring at me. I mean, I’m an actor, but having this constant an audience is still somewhat disconcerting.
  • This is the first time I’ve ever lived with dogs or cats (as my observations make pretty clear). And I’m finding that they remind me of those Skinnerian conditioning models. Take the action of stepping near the dog, and it will, every time, give you affection and attention. With cats, however, the reward mechanism of a muzzle snuggle is chaotic, seemingly random, which can make the reward itself feel more potent. So, different strategies.
  • Also, scratching cat skulls is weird.
  • Before I arrived here, a friend of mine described Kelowna as ‘a small town trying too hard to be a big city.’ Just feels like a well-stocked, lived-in city to me. Admittedly, it does have a slower pace than an urban megatropolis (though quicker than, say, the Fernwood area in Victoria). And I mean, literally, a slower pace. The speed at which people walk. Which makes sense, given the population size. (See: Radiolab’s amazing piece on the pace of cities: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/oct/08/).

The cast of Golf: The Musical, Jaclyn Nestman, Andrew Wade, Šimon Mizera, Alen Dominguez, and Katey Hoffman.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Observations in Kelowna

June 30, 2012 2 comments

Observations in Kelowna

  • Thunderstorms! Awesome!
  • Fattest rainbow I have ever seen.
  • I suddenly see the aeration benefits of screen doors.
  • Being a gospel singer is still astonishingly fun.
  • Was passed by a pick-up truck with two hollerin’ guys in it, a confederate flag in the back, and two decals: one of a hand giving the middle finger, and another mocking the stick-figure family decals by showing two people… erm… engaged in coitus, with the words ‘makin’ family’. So, stereotypes still exist.
  • I can sing all day long and my voice is fine! Thank you, UVic voice training and the National Voice Intensive!
  • When the weather stays warm all night, it’s amazing how quickly evening time passes.
  • Got home from rehearsal. My billeters weren’t home. Went straight to my room… and all three cats followed. Okaaaaaaay…
  • Dogs make my analytical brain break. Dog approaches, looks expectantly. “Hello, fella! What do you want? Hmm? What, you’re happy now? You just want me to… talk to you? Really? That’s all? Sure you don’t want me to… no, you seem good. Alright then. Erm… hello.”
  • Surrounded by hills, some tree-covered, some not – makes me feel like I’m surrounded by giant tiles from Settlers of Catan, somehow.
  • Apparently it costs 500$ to rent a bike for a month. Five Hundred Dollars. Seriously? Wow.
  • “BURNCo Landscape”. I feel like I already disagree with your business practices.
  • Thunder is SO awesome.

The Road To Kelowna (or, Merritt Musings)

June 28, 2012 2 comments

The Road To Kelowna (or, Merritt Musings)

(Note: this was written while en route to Kelowna, where I’ll be performing and assistant stage-managing for the next six weeks on my first paid-weekly theatre opportunity.)

Greyhound racing Français : Lévrier durant une...

Greyhound racing (Wikipedia)

I am currently traveling by Greyhound to the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. That’s traveling by Greyhound, not be greyhound, though if you attached enough of them to a sled with wheels, I suppose that would work, though perhaps not safe for highway sledding. Or maybe they’d all run in a big loop and I’d never make it out of the first city block.

Merritt qualifies as the furthest into BC I’ve ever been. (Which means that a lot of the award-winning short story I wrote here was based entirely off google and wiki searches). About half an hour before we pulled into this place, I noticed a shift in the landscape, with the earth looking more and more parched, littered with shrubgrass rather than with, well, grass, and the mountains looking less of a uniform wash of pine-green trees and more of a patchy, motley mix, like old socks thinning to the point where holes might break out at any moment. I dub thee, The Lintless Mountain Range. It’s odd to think of such waves of grass having their length kept in check by nature, and not by an over-funded university, city, or townhouse maintenance crew.

English: Dryer screen containing accumulated lint.

Dryer screen containing accumulated lint. (Wikipedia)

On the bus ride there, I was peached to receive possibly the greatest accomplishment a person can ever receive: a young woman asked if she could sit next to me. Now, granted, this was partly because an older woman had stolen her seat while the young woman stepped out to stretch her legs, and I happened to be sitting just one row back of her former seat, but still, she chose to travel alongside me and not next to the twitchy fellows who were searched over twice by security.

I also happened to be on a bus with not one, but four beautiful women, which has made me immediately reconsider my utility approach of wearing comfortable but scrubby clothes on a bus: in this case, my Phoenix Theatre t-shirt publically misquoting our theatre manager with the line “Please do not remove this shirt” on the back. The lack of gel in my thin hair, doesn’t help. I look like I’m balding or suffering from some form of mange.

Next time I travel by bus, I’m wearing a three piece suit.

When we stopped in Merritt for a fifteen minute sketch, I found myself taken aback by the sheer viewing distance from the bus depot. I’ve lived in coastal cities all my life, so the farthest vistas I’ve ever seen are from hiking up a mountain on an island somewhere, or from staring out at the ocean (other than the odd plane ride). Either way, to stand on firm ground and see nothing but land for such a distance is somehow shocking to my senses, like when you’re looking at an optical illusion of an elephant with an impossible number of legs and your eyes tell you one thing but your brain is going ‘”Hold on, woah there eyes, now I know you’re doing your best, and I appreciate all your hard work, but maybe you aught to let ol’ wrinkle-ridges here take over from now on”, followed by giving the eyes a patronizing pat on their retinas.

I think if I ever visit the prairies, I might go insane: an endless vista that will either induce a seizure or turn me into a timelord.

Staring into the Untempered Schism.

Bus depot rest points are odd locations in and of themselves. I know how my fellow greyhounders (sorry, Greyhounders) arrived, finally dragging themselves into this cigarette oasis in the desert of long distance public transportation, or unnecessarily forcing themselves into using the washrooms as part of a clever stratagem to avoid the potential rollercoaster waterpark fun that is using a toilet in the rear of a moving bus as it navigates its way over great potholes and around screeching traffic.

But the others… There is a man cradling a backpack a little too close to his chest. He sits alone in a field of empty chairs and stares blankly out the window, the window that stares out toward the side of our bus, and not, were he to turn, at the vista of rolling mountains and hills. It feels like a sort of purgatory for those not awaiting heaven, but perhaps sitting around in lack of anticipation for another place just like this one. Bleak.

The foodstuffs they sell here are as stale and processed as the motor oil and carparts they are shelved with. The prices on everything have been hiked up because, hey, people pay more for antiques, right?

No fruit, no vegetables, and the only meats are those kinds that last so long they make you wonder why there aren’t any 200-year-old pigs waddling about the world.

On the doors to the few refrigerated, pre-made items is a sign reading, “Pay for food at the counter BEFORE heating.” Reasonable enough. But the sign reading “Pay for magazines at the counter BEFORE reading” is just being snarky.

When I think about it, though, maybe that’s what these places need. Purgatory is purgatory because it is formless, shapeless, endless, full and empty of nothing. Maybe some personality would a good first step to reviving that man with his backpack, the man who has given up on waiting and entered a state of dejected mere existence.

Though I’m sure Merritt is a lovely town.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade