Fun in Montana

Last Tuesday in Montana we stopped mid-morning for a coffee refill in Livingston. While everyone was inside, I had to run around the block to take photos of great old buildings and signage. You know me and the old stuff -- I love it!

The first thing that caught my eye was The Murray Hotel. Built in 1904, it has served as a rest spot for the likes of Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane and more recently Sam Peckinpah. And it has great signs!



Directly across the street (and behind where I'm standing in this picture) is a Masonic Temple. Quite different in style.


Here is a bit of detail on the mural in front. Hard to see, but all very Egyptian. (click for bigger.)


Down 1/2 a block was this theater with the coffee place next door.


Wish I could have seen the inside.

One block over was the main drag and what a collection of cool buildings!



I may have mentioned it was cold. It was a toasty 24 this day.


Where does "Hiatt" come from? I've been to another "Hiatt House" before. Is it different from the origins of Hyatt? Anyone?


And I love this little detail in the window.


This was in the alley between the two streets I was taking pictures on. I love that there is a sign for the rear entrance. Seems so old school or something groovy.


The front looked like this:


 I enjoyed my 15 minutes alone with my camera in cold cold weather. 

"I felt untethered and alive."


Cold Beautiful Amazing Day in Montana

Yesterday the work day started at 6:45am and below 0 degrees F. It warmed up to about 16, maybe 18. Thankfully we were in cars a lot, driving around to different places so we could warm up in between excursions. 




When in snow, make snow angel.



We saw all kinds of animals including bison, elk and bald eagles.




Also found some interesting man-made things to look at. 



Cold tough crazy day. 

I'm so grateful I got to see what I saw.



Let's Talk About Layers

When you work in the film biz, you must be prepared for all kinds of weather, on set and off, inside studio stages and on locations. We were working the other day and it was raining. A civilian was nearby and asked me, "Do you stop when it starts raining like this?" It was all I could do not to laugh. I politely said "No."

So you have to be ready.

On our coldest/wettest days here is what I wore:

Socks -- two layers. A thinner liner sock and a fatter smartwool type sock. Never wear cotton!

Legs/lower body -- thermal underwear (I have patagonia capilene medium weight), fleece pants (by Mountain Hardwear) and then wind breaker/rain outer pants. (The rustley ones.) These three layers keep me very warm, though in anything less than freezing, I might need thicker versions of the thermals and fleece.

Upper Body -- I had two daily versions of warm on top. One is my bright pink, medium weight Icebreaker wool (thin) sweater. Icebreaker clothing is phenomenally warm and makes great layers. On top of that I had a thin fleece layer, then my Land's End medium down jacket and on top of that, my Patagonia outershell/raincoat. My second daily version would be capilene undershirt (silk weight), my pink and white "stripey jumper" of cashmere and a fleece vest. Then the Land's End down jacket and the P outer shell.

There would always be a scarf, whether it was a fleece one (fast dry, very warm) or a pretty wool one, depending on my mood.

I had fingerless wool gloves that were good most times I needed gloves. (Still had to use my fingers to write.) I might get better fleece fingerless gloves for the next project. 

And a hat. I have a Mountain Hardwear wind stopper hi-tech hat. I have not had to wear it yet, but have loaned it out a few times. I've only worn my bright blue earmuff/headband to cover my ears and keep my hair out of my eyes in the wind.

The one thing I haven't quite sorted out is the shoes. I bought a new pair of boots here because I brought my lower hiking type shoes but realized they would not work as well. The boots are waterproof and generally comfy, but if I need serious winter protection, I don't think they will do. Need to look into that for next year.

You can never assume it's going to be warm or dry when shooting in fall/winter in places that are known for rain and weather. Always carry as much extra protection as you just never know. And even in LA when you are shooting on a huge soundstage in winter, it will be COLD in those giant cavernous buildings. Cold. 

All these layers makes one look like the Michelin Man and there are days when it's really hard to find people on set because everyone looks the same with their dark colored clothing with hoods. You have to go around and look into everyone's face to find who you need. Occasionally someone wears a had or jacket of a bright color and that is handy.

Now if they only made waterproof paper.

My Recent Work Life in Review Or Attack of the Bloodsuckers!

The week before last, I got home one day and I was COVERED IN TICKS!!!

Okay, there was only one tick. But it was on my knee, dug in and sucking my blood. I call it the Tollymore tick, or Tolly for short. It really grossed me out and made me twitchy for days. Even now if a raindrop slides down my head or neck, I spaz out thinking it's another tick. [shudder]

(of course I took a photo of Tolly.)

That's about all I can remember about that week of work.

I remember more about this week, though it felt about 3 weeks long by Wednesday. Here's my recap.

Monday = OMG IT'S SO WINDY AND COLD!!! (luckily I planned ahead and was layered up well.) Also on Monday "The bathroom is how far away???" The views were gorgeous,though. 

Tuesday = Great day with B Camera, Paul and Amie. Much laughing amongst the work. I acquired the nickname "Lady Battenberg" and have been assured it's a nice thing. Still not entirely sure. Weather was much better, only cold and occasionally rainy.

Wednesday = COLD. Wasn't quite as prepared with the layers, but not too bad. Much planning and organizing

Thursday = Met a nice extra from Australia, sweet young man on a big adventure. Also much mud and cow manure. I woke up thinking "I haven't gotten much exercise lately" and then ended up walking/running about five miles during the course of that day. Literally. My dogs were barking.

Friday = Woke up grumpy to my alarm going off (normally I wake up a few minutes before). Knew it would be a bad day so I blasted some Green Day while getting layered up. Didn't help much. Should have won an oscar for my "smiling great attitude" performance. After work drinks with co-workers with much laughter, but I still felt like I was pretending. Probably had 12 too many cocktails.

No, I didn't actually have 12 cocktails. I had four or five (hmm, can't remember, that seems bad) over the course of six hours. Walked back to my hotel at 3:00am while on the phone with Kurt. Does it count as "drunk dialing" when you call your own husband?

Up and blogging and a bit of coffee, trying to decide what to do with myself. I have lots of work to do this weekend, and will try to get some done today so it's not all left for tomorrow. 

I Hate The World - I Love The Internet

When your sister dies too soon, everything is harder all the time.

I'll just start with that to explain the first part of the title of my blog post.

I've been crying for a while now, tonight. Part of it is just release from a stressful, cold, busy week here in Belfast. The work is not hard. The weather is not that bad (and I was prepared for it). My schedule is not outrageous compared to some shoots I've been on. But all together + a touch of homesickness + time difference + grief = it's all exponentially harder. It's unexpected and surprising, this burst of tears and sobs. Maybe it's just my day off and I'm letting it all go, after working most of the day, to prepare, to gird my loins, for the week to come. Who knows. Maybe I just needed a great sobbing cry and it would have happened no matter where I was, no matter what was going on.

Here's a funny thing. I wouldn't have shared this much detail directly with Jen and yet I would have shared some of this with her and she would have been supportive and said helpful things, even if they were sort of just platitudes. Hard to explain how sisters are. Every sister relationship is so different, even within one multi-marriage family. 

You know what is hardest about being on location without husband or friends nearby? You miss hugs. But somehow, within a week or so, you find one or two people on set, on the crew, who you can hug every day and it's not weird. It's like emergency rations of affection. The video playback woman, Grace, is one of my hug-buddies. So are Paul and Amie on stunts. Great people all. Thank the the gods for them. Gemma too, when she's here, but she's always on a different set, preparing when we are shooting. I'm grateful for my hug-buddies. I don't know how I'd make it without them. And it's not even that long of a shoot.

Then there is the internet. 

I started this job with some blog posts about our location scouts and had to take them down because they were a bit too much information for the wonderfully passionate group of fans surrounding this project. Because of that, I started to read a few of their blogs and am having a lot of fun with it. There is one blog that has almost daily updates and I love reading about what I may or may not have been doing during my work day. It's great. And from that blog, I have gotten many new twitter followers. I have made it clear they will be disappointed by my tweets and blog posts from now on (in regard to the project), but still they are there and they interact with me and you know what? It's awesome. Two of them have even sent me HILARIOUS safety graphics and I posted them this week. I feel like, even though I have a very small part on this project (and those of you who KNOW me know exactly how I feel about this small part), these new fans/followers have kind of become friends. Paul and his 3 year old daughter in particular have been so kind and funny and supportive. When I tweeted that I hated the world and everyone in it today, he sent a supportive and funny tweet back in response. When I said how much I appreciated his and his daughter's support and even more so because we'd never even met, he sent me a picture of his daughter giving me two thumbs up. It made me burst into happy sad tears again. What a crazy wonderful thing this "social media" is. 

Then there is Dor who is now on Twitter and who sends me emails with LOLcats in them. My other dear sister Dorian. Thank all the gods for her too.

And I'm listening to Green Day. Billie Joe and Tre and Dirnt are sort of helping. If only I had drumsticks right now, I would be in great shape. 

My clothes are laid out for heavy weather tomorrow. It's 8:30 and I have to be up at 5. I'll be going to bed soon. I'm exhausted. 

The Seattle Trip -- Part II

It was hot in Seattle. Africa hot. Did I mention?

After a cool night sleep in our air conditioned hotel room Tuesday night, we woke up late and took our time getting ready for the day. We packed our bags and checked out of the hotel, heading to downtown Seattle to have lunch with Ron who is currently working for Amazon.

Ron met us in the lobby of the tallest building in Downtown Seattle and took us first to the observation deck on the 73rd floor. WOW! What a spectacular view! This is looking northwest:


Though why I chose this framing is beyond me. Where is the water?

The haze didn't help, but it was still an almost 360 degree view around the city. Here is looking south to the two new stadiums for the Mariners and the Seahawks. The train station is just below and left of the stadiums.


Close up on the train station:


Looking east toward Bellevue across lake Washington.


You can barely see the Cascades back there.

Looking southwest toward West Seattle. At-Ats in FG.


There was so much to see, it was hard to tear ourselves away, but we finally decided to have lunch as planned, so we headed down. As in most huge/tall buildings, we had to take two separate elevators and on the transition floor (40, I believe) there is a lobby area and guess what? A Starbucks. A full on, full blown Starbucks. We stepped in just to say we were in the highest Starbucks in the world.

We then went down to the food court in the basement levels to have lunch as it was way too hot to walk around downtown. Great lunch conversation ensued, then we went to check out Ron's office. Last of all he showed us the spot where the free books are. Amazon gets (as you might imagine) tons of books sent for review purposes. There are shelves and shelves of books in various stages. Some are finished but in review form (paperback with "please review this awesome book!" verbiage all over it). Some are unfinished (editing not complete) with plain red covers with just the title and author name. Fascinating. We ended up taking a couple books, one of which I just finished reading "The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane."  We said our good-byes to Ron and headed down to the car and began our trek to Port Townsend.

We opted to drive instead of taking the ferry. Cheaper and we could guarantee we would have air conditioning the whole way. This was the day of the record breaking heat. Did I mention? It was a lovely drive south through Tacoma over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge northwest past Bremerton and Poulsbo and across the Hood Canal Bridge and then up into Port Townsend. We did stop outside of Tacoma for a caramel frap to cool off.

Tacoma Narrows.

We arrived in Port Townsend around five o'clock and needed a place to stay for the night. The old downtown is a Victorian extravaganza with hotels and bars and stores and theaters. It's very cool and gets tons of tourists. We drove around, got a lay of the land then parked the car near the first hotel and went to see about rooms. We met a nice man who said he had rooms, told us the numbers, the doors were open, we could go up and look. He also kept telling us all the different prices he could offer us, with decent discounts. But with the caveat: no air conditioning. 

We climbed two major sets of wide stairways into the center of a beautiful old Victorian building. But it was hot and the rooms were just okay, kinda quaint but kinda funky. If it hadn't been 100 degrees, it might have been more fun. We left, saying thanks and went to the next one. Basically the same thing: the person at the front desk either handed us keys or waved us up, saying which number rooms were open and to just take a look. More tall stairs, more amazing 2nd floors of the Victorian buildings. Hotel2ndfloor

The buildings are amazing and I'm a huge lover of old buildings. But holy cow it was stifling.

This routine happened at four different hotels and who could blame the front desk people? It was hot, why schlep up and down stairs in this heat? The routine was broken at one hotel when we asked about rooms and the woman said, "I'm kind of dizzy." Seriously. We looked at her, wondering if we should help or what. She then said, "number seven and number 8." We went up then came back down. Luckily she was still upright when we waved and left. 

We went to another, newer hotel toward the end of the street and looked at a room there with the manager. It seemed okay, but not historic or very interesting. I asked if they had wifi and the guy told us a five minute work history at the hotel to explain why he didn't know if they did or not. A simple "I don't know" would have sufficed. 

We left and got in the car and went half way up the hill to another Victorian house B&B. This one was really well kept. The beds were new -- you could tell because the mattress were thicker than four inches and didn't sag in the middle. The decorations were modern but matched the house beautifully. As with the other hotels though, the woman handed us a rate card and listed the numbers of the rooms that were available. Up we went, looking at the sweet rooms, end up on the third floor in a large room. I stood fanning myself with the rate card as we discussed if we wanted this room -- third floor, no air con, imagining ourselves hauling luggage up and down. I noticed then on the rate card (between fan strokes) that they had bungalows. No stairs! They were more expensive, but hey, why not look. 

The kind woman showed us where to go -- out the back, through the garden to the green door. We walked as instructed and came across this sweet statue:


Wait a minute! That's no statue, that's a sweet little baby deer! We froze, it froze, then it walked away into the garden. Whew! That was sweet. Then we got to the bungalow, which was a modern little place and we were sold and we splurged. Turned out though, that we got a discount because when the woman said, "We serve a full breakfast in the morning in the dining room" (which would have been great!)


We said we had plans with friends who lived in Port Hadlock for the next morning. She said, "oh, so you know some locals? Great, I'll give you the local discount!" Sweet! So I think we got $30 off the room. Super nice. So we drove the car to the front door of our little bungalow and unpacked. No stairs!


And look at the view from inside. Heaven!


We were stoked. Still no air conditioning, but the place was in shade and there were fans and we could just rest and be still and look at the view. Ahhhh.

But soon it was time to eat and we headed back to the downtown area and went to Siren's. The nice woman at the B&B had suggested it for the balcony over the water where we could best watch the sailboat race at 6pm -- SOLD! We hustled down there and were so happy to perch on the balcony, order up some cool mojitos and watch the sailboat "race".


First of all there was barely a breath of wind so "speed" was not a factor. It was hilarious and just the perfect end to a very hot day. Oooh, and they had Oly Beer for a buck a can. Had to order up one of those for old time sake. Hilarious and I have to say, very refreshing!

OlySing it with me Betsy! "It's the water! And a lot more....Oly Oly Oh!" 

We ate dinner there -- couldn't be bothered to move as it was finally, finally cooling down slightly. After dinner we walked next door to the 50's soda fountain and had some ice cream, then meandered back to our room and took cool showers and just sat on the couch and looked at the water. Ahhhhh.

Finally the long hot day had come to an end and in a gorgeous, comfy place. Couldn't wait for tomorrow!

More soon...

Random Tidbits To Finish The Week

WaterlilyAfter that Long Walk down Western, I had some blisters. They were in the same spots I had always been getting them, the inner side of my heels. There were layers of the rumpled skin over the weeks, but nothing too bad. This week, the top layers starting peeling off, nothing gross, mind you, just the natural thing. But as I sat on the couch last night picking at the edges of the dried skin, it reminded me of being on the crew team in college. When you row, you get blisters on your hands which you then work up to nice calluses, but there are always little blisters showing up along the way. At morning practice we usually left before the men's teams and tried to arrive back at the dock before them. The guys would yell at us, "STOP PICKING YOUR CALLUSES AND HURRY UP!" And you'd realize that in fact, you do spend a lot of time picking your calluses when you are on crew. It made boring classes go by faster.

WaterlilyLast night at Trader Joe's a song came on the PA -- John Denver singing "You Fill Up My Senses". Talk about a sentimental journey. It took me right back to Jen and being little, when we still lived on Oahu. Mom played his albums over and over and my other sister, Dor, later learned to play guitar and could play all his songs. (Which I thought was unbelievably cool, still do, actually.) I remember going to his Concert at the H.I.C (Now the Neal Blaisdell Center) with Mom and Jen and Jackie and Sloane. Was Betsy there too? Can't was awesome! Walking the aisles last night listening to Johnny D made me teary eyed and I would have been fine, but then the next song was "Seasons In The Sun" from that same time period. Lyrics anyone? Yeah "Good bye my friends it's hard to die/when all the birds are singing in the sky..." Thanks TJs, thanks a lot.

Waterlily But the evening was not awash in tears as I was at TJ's to buy treats for the weekend. Kurt and I are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary (which is on Monday) by staying at a swank hotel right here in town. We are bringing our own little picnic basket with yummy snacks (to save a few $$ on room service) and just relax and not think about a thing all weekend. It's the same hotel we stayed in for two nights when we got married. We called it our Mini-Moon because we didn't go on an actual honeymoon until a year later. Seven years ago I remember lounging around watching whatever was on tv and a rerun of Barney Miller was on. We were enthralled.

Waterlily We got a Wii Fit a few weeks ago and I started using it recently. I highly recommend it. The exercises are fun because there is so much variety. The strength and yoga exercises are straight forward with a "Trainer" walking you through it all. More fun are the balance and aerobic exercises as they are fun games. My favorite so far is the ski jump. My least favorite is the skiing slalom race.I am really bad at it! Missing gates all the time. I do pretty well on the penguin/fish slide thingy. Yesterday I did a set of boxing exercises and dang if my shoulders and biceps aren't sore this morning! Since it is a game system, as you repeat more of the exercises, new balance or aerobic games are unlocked. I value any exercise system that keeps me interested and coming back. The only downfall is that the program will say things like "I noticed you didn't work out yesterday, Julia, why not?" (or something like that.) But there is no interactive "Hey, I put on my shoes and went for a walk, shut up!" But aside from that, I am enjoying the variety and fun of it.

Waterlily There has been much wildlife activity in our backyard, more than just squirrels. First there is Groucho, a mostly black cat with white spots, and a mustache that makes him (her?) look like the famed Marx Bro. This is not a feral cat, he's very friendly, especially now that we've started giving him a little food when he comes by, which is about once or twice a week, at most. He has no collar and is very clean and tidy. I'm sure he belongs to someone nearby and is just working our soft spot for cats. There is another cat who cruises through from time to time. We call him Smokey - long hair, smokey gray calico. He is much more aloof, bolts if you step out the door. With all this cat-activity, it doesn't surprise me to see one of them walking along our backyard fence out my window in the mornings. So imagine my double and triple take when I saw this the other day:
Momma Opossum and her four little babies. I know possums can creep people out, but to see one in bright daylight (it was way past their bedtimes) with babies clinging on, I was in love. (You can click for bigger cuteness.) I ran around trying to get pictures of them without scaring her too much. I took the above photo from inside and this one from outside:
I'm hoping she found a snug spot to settle into.

Waterlily Last of all, it is raining just a little today. How nice! Finally some fall weather on Halloween. No trick or treaters for us this year, we will be treating ourselves. Don't forget to set your clocks back this weekend.