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Finding Kelowna  

Casting coins

Jan 7, 2014 / 5:00 am
It is one of the coldest days of the year. I station my car by Kerry Park, and skirt the lake toward The Sails where I will champion the urban poor. When I arrive at the giant icon four people huddle against a steely wind. Three are leaders while the fourth, come to ask questions, is soon driven...

People of the Cart

Nov 26, 2013 / 5:00 am
My hand, chapped from protective washing, holds my wife’s hand on our journey down Bernard to the theatre. It’s her birthday, and she wants to see a romantic comedy. Our hoods are tucked neatly around our heads, and the street leads us through the cutting wind to the ticket...

Anatomy of a neighbourhood

Nov 12, 2013 / 5:00 am
Beneath the burning trees of autumn my wife and I walk arm in arm through the exit of our community. The broken gateway pretends to keep us secure and releases within me a bubble of memory that bursts: because I forget to shut the garage door, my son’s high-fidelity speakers are stolen. He is...

The wisdom of generations

Oct 15, 2013 / 6:00 am
I walk with the crowd toward the giant apple at the center of Orchard Park Mall. Around the bronze monolith we are a storm swirling, unmindful of the morphing face of a valley on fire with harvest. I am a leaf in the stream of milling thousands who have passed this way, caught for a moment against...

The mystery of the rose

Oct 1, 2013 / 5:00 am
I emerge from the RCA building to spritzes of rain that mist the railings, the benches and the yawning waste bins. Droplets hang on the underbelly of giant, silver rings emerging from the concrete like Olympic hoops. But no bikes are tethered there, and they entreat my camera’s eye. Through...

Confessions of a street photographer

Sep 3, 2013 / 5:00 am
I meet a friend at our favourite coffee shop on Water Street. He is writing a book about Foncie Pulice, Vancouver street photographer, an iconic 45-year veteran of the candid image. I feel a kinship with Foncie. But in this age of stolen identities, paparazzi and the ubiquitous presence of cameras,...

In praise of summer's umbrellas

Aug 20, 2013 / 5:00 am
The sheltering sky is the blue umbrella of God, and far below this celestial dome summer is a riot of emblazoned parasols. From Bernard Street to City Park, and along the esplanade to Tug-Boat Beach, they lure us with promises of leisure, kinship and sensuous moments. Beneath these restful...

The priest was right

Aug 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
My cat is sitting on my lap; I type, he snoozes. He is fourteen, and like the immortal he believes himself to be, he boasts many names like Garfield, Radar and Kitty…snapshots that capture aspects of who he is, and of the sensibilities of those who tagged him. Bestowing a name captures...

Men without chests

Jul 9, 2013 / 5:00 am
It is Father’s Day. And my pastor speaks with sadness about the dishonour in which men are held. Reflexively, I reply YES, and images of Bart Simpson, Beavis & Butthead, and the Trailer Park Boys leave their muddy footprints on my carpet. The pastor’s voice recedes while the guys of...

Running man

Jun 11, 2013 / 5:00 am
Neurons fire adrenaline to receptive brothers: “Arise!” They say, “He’s in a hurry.” I grab my smart-phone, apply an anxious foot to the gas-pedal and stop at a pharmacy post office. I march through an empty store past rows of quick fixes and promises of instant...

Brains leaking

May 14, 2013 / 5:00 am
The doctor’s office is a sardine can of suffering humanity stacked side-by-side in pinched discomfort. I am waiting for the receptionist. Her head is an auburn porcupine slung with a device that curls along her cheek and stops suddenly at her mouth. With practiced courtesy she spills...

The Age of Oakley

Apr 16, 2013 / 5:00 am
Dr. Oakley's baggy eyes looked directly at me as he searched my chest with the cold, round instrument. Rubber hoses flowed from each end into his hairy ears. And I looked back in fear; wondering if he was going to give me an injection. At seven years of age I was terrified of needles, and...

Kissed by spiders

Mar 19, 2013 / 5:00 am
Sister Mary Albert was a tall black bird with a white throat. Her habit floated behind her gaunt exterior like a little black tail as she clicked down the school corridors on bird-feet. Children were afraid of this nun and whenever I saw her approaching I held my breath. When she spied a...

Like a serpent in the belly

Mar 5, 2013 / 5:00 am
Memory… Angelo's Roman nose is a monument on an otherwise slim, narrow face. In the third grade he defends it against the taunts I hurl by pushing me and running away. Reflexively I throw a rock, but am alarmed when it strikes the back of his head. Concerned and repentant, I follow...

A pettiness to expiate

Feb 19, 2013 / 5:00 am
Memory… In profile she is an African fertility goddess: belly and behind protruding in opposite directions. She is presenting a workshop to which I’ve come feeling groggy and cranky from a cold. And I want to be back in bed with earplugs and sleeping mask firmly in...

In praise of older women

Feb 5, 2013 / 5:00 am
Memory… The powder of snow around Brandt’s Creek path has melted. And leafy remains, black and pressed into the soggy lane, prepare for next year’s compost. I emerge alongside the little bridge spanning the duck pond where orange-billed inhabitants mill about in widening...


Jan 22, 2013 / 5:00 am
Because of his ‘50s rock-star haircut, I like to think of him as Fonzie. He is tall, slightly stooped, head inclined to the pavement as if searching for nickels and dimes. I see him shuffling St. Paul Street, perhaps on his way to a hit of comfort, or a bottle of something. He seems thinner...

On the road to find out

Jan 8, 2013 / 5:00 am
My fingers type the title: In the Age of Tattooed Girls (a previous column). But at the time I do not realize that girls is not the feminine parallel I am seeking to the word guys. And will later discover that what to call someone changes and flows like mercury on glass. My article reports...

In the age of tattooed women

Dec 11, 2012 / 5:00 am
Foreword This is the age of tattooed women with pit bulls at their side. This is the age of females tongue-kissing females on global television. This is the age of slut-walks and pole-dancing as feminist statements. This is the age of grrrl power, cougars and boy-toys. This is the age of...

Kelowna Right to Life: Part 3 of 3

Nov 6, 2012 / 5:00 am
For Kelowna Right to Life: Part 1, click here. For Kelowna Right to Life: Part 2, click here. “We’ve become a culture that has accepted the notion that the unborn child is just a clump of tissue; it’s just a mass of cells.” “When we talk about...

Kelowna Right to Life: Part 2 of 3

Nov 4, 2012 / 5:00 am
For Kelowna Right to Life: Part 1, click here. “If we’re going to punish anyone in that situation it should be the rapist, it shouldn’t be the innocent child. The child should not pay with his life because his father was a rapist.” “The child inside...

Kelowna Right to Life: Part 1 of 3

Oct 30, 2012 / 5:00 am
“You don’t have to believe in God to think that taking an innocent human life is wrong.” “If you define life at the point of viability, what you’re saying is that today a 21-week-old foetus is a human being and is living, whereas 50 years ago that same 21-week-old...

On the banks of the creek

Oct 16, 2012 / 5:00 am
…a memory of summer Beneath the brilliant sun my bicycle spins its way down Brandt’s Creek Linear Park. I am exploring the neigbourhoods that have sprung up around this lazy stream in upper Glenmore, when I see a couple lying together on the wooded banks: two young teens, barely...

Summer's last act

Sep 18, 2012 / 5:00 am
Summer’s impending exit is celebrated with poetry and song in Kerry Park where my camera discovers the failing of still and voiceless images. The lute plucks an ancient air, and I am taken by the chants of women cloaked in white and red: throats releasing sound like instruments tuned for...

At the Centre of Gravity

Sep 4, 2012 / 6:00 am
They have gathered on the beaches: flocks of bikinis and muscles tilting beer to the revolutions of leaping motorbikes and scratch music. City Park is a festival of testosterone and estrogen while body art, all the rage for this generation, is the accessory without which limbs and other parts...

Dancing in the park!

Aug 21, 2012 / 5:00 am
I have brought my camera to Kerry Park to capture the love of movement. The Latin band has released the merry dancers from the burden of the day; golden couples wanting the world to know how great it is to be alive; how great to sway and let the body speak. And I am primed to catch and store their...

On the street

Jul 24, 2012 / 8:00 am
It is hot downtown. And with camcorder on tripod I search for a homeless person to interview. I am waiting for the traffic light at Water and Bernard, ready to end my search when a grey-haired woman glides in beside me and asks, “D’you have a twonie you can give me?” Her puffy...

Soldiers on Bernard

Jul 10, 2012 / 5:00 am
I am astonished by a truck emblazoned with giant photos of aborted foetuses, driving blithely up Water Street as if it were just another moving-van. I run down Mill to Bernard and there I burst upon a group of protestors drawing attention to billboards of bloody abortions. The placards of human...

Mayor Sharon Shepherd: Part 3 of 3

Jul 1, 2012 / 5:00 am
For Part 1 and 2 of this interview, click here. “We are a fairly white community, and I think that over time that’s going to change, and that’s going to be a good thing.” “We’ll have to be more open than Kelowna has been known to be, and...

Mayor Sharon Shepherd: Part 2 of 3

Jun 30, 2012 / 5:00 am
For those of you who missed Part 1 of this interview, click here. “A lot of my values come from the way she (grandma) treated people.” “It was (lonely) at times because we had predominantly male management.” (During a negative election)...

Mayor Sharon Shepherd: Part 1 of 3

Jun 26, 2012 / 5:00 am
"I always go into things to make a change, make a difference." "What I liked least about being a mayor was the individual conflicts between neighbours…those were probably the most frustrating." I wanted to change "…the thinking of...

Into the abyss of change

Jun 12, 2012 / 5:00 am
memory… I am a visitor milling about in a church, when I see an enormous young woman with red hair. My childhood prejudice against red-headed, gum-chewing women with bouquets of freckles could be easily set aside, but it’s the airy display of bosom – as wide as a Saskatchewan...

Flower child

May 29, 2012 / 7:00 am
I see her on the corner of Bernard and Pandosy Street, busking – a flower child, as if carried there like a feather by some early breeze of spring. With peace on her fingers and dandelions in her case, she is a portrait of 1969 in painted dress, amulet and flowing tresses. She poses for me, a...

The Osprey and the Koi

May 15, 2012 / 5:00 am
I walk into Kasugai to savour the peace I find there. I compliment the lands keeper who manicures and primps this refuge from the traffic and accelerated business of city life. He tells me that an Osprey is visiting the garden and has its eye on the pond-fish. Birds of prey don’t often come...

Snapshots of Verna

May 2, 2012 / 5:00 am
Spring in the North is a pungent bloom of dust, debris and dog-poop. Rivers, bloated with melt, spill their banks while trees gape starkly from the sodden hills. I concede that every region has its drawbacks, but unlike the coarser pictures of her northern neighbours, springtime in Kelowna is a...

Through the fissures of our restraint

Apr 17, 2012 / 5:00 am
I walk up Yates Road toward my favourite stroll down Brandt’s Creek Park. A young boy of four or five scampers with a dog around his house. And as I pass, his furry pal growls and raises the hackles on the back of his neck. “Hey!” says a little-boy voice. “If you see my dad,...

My town

Apr 3, 2012 / 5:00 am
On my walks through the city I look for unusual people to write about - and I find them! We have an exotic side to us, we Kelownans. We flaunt bald heads, Mohawks, hair of green and purple, dreadlocks, and strands as short and straight as a pin. We display piercings and tattoos of every kind...

The accidental messenger

Mar 20, 2012 / 5:00 am
As I walk from my car to the market I see an old fellow - grizzled beard, long matted hair and clothes that look like they’ve been liberated from someone's dirty hamper. He is rooting through a garbage can that is locked within a cement container, and I feel for him; so I too root, in my...

The generosity of strangers

Mar 6, 2012 / 5:00 am
DAY Behind a chalk sky, the sun is a moon. I see it through the canopy of black limbs between City Hall and Kasugai. In the green season, I often walk this way to absorb the sheltered calm of this urban oasis. But this is the grey season, and the portals of Kasugai are shut. I notice a man...

Black punk demon

Feb 21, 2012 / 5:00 am
My vehicle turns the corner and I see her: she is wearing a pink, padded winter coat – collar raised to the cold; knitted hat pulled over blonde hair; she is a poster girl for feminine virtue. And by her side, leashed to her hand, struts a black punk demon: all snout and teeth, a walking...
About the Author

Giovanni is a poet, columnist, interviewer and photographer. His passion for literature and the writing arts began at three years of age when his mother read to him the poems of Giovanni Pascoli.

Finding Kelowna, as he explains it in his website of the same name, is a focus on the ordinary events, people and things that often go unnoticed. Its purpose is to reveal the startling brilliance of everyday life which may be beautiful, tragic or bizarre. Giovanni does this in a creative way that spotlights the sudden encounters, poignant moments and unusual circumstances that pepper daily life.

Through chance conversations and unexpected occurrences, the tone and character of Kelowna and its surroundings is explored. In so doing, Giovanni hopes that the reader will catch a glimpse of himself and of humanity in all its glorious imperfection.

To comment on his columns you may write to him at [email protected]. You may read other articles he has written by viewing his website at www.findingkelowna.com.  You may view his photography blog at www.gioklik.com, and read his poems, stories and perspectives at www.yzed.wordpress.com.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.