January 31, 2014

Hollywood North goes Bucolic, Part Two

Last summer I wrote a post about a television show being filmed in our little town, which, through the vision of set designers and the skill of carpenters has been transformed into Wayward Pines, Idaho. I wrote about attending the casting call with my youngest daughter and about hoping she would get a call-back. She did not, but judging by the experience my friend Sue had of standing in the pouring rain in the middle of the night for four hours after spending five hours waiting in the high school gymnasium and earning minimum wage for her troubles, my daughter decided that being an extra might be better left to more hearty types on this occasion at least.

The cast and crew of the appropriately named Fox TV show Wayward Pines directed by M.Night Shyamalan have returned once per month since September to film the local outdoor scenes for each episode, and each time they come it seems the weather is either incredibly rainy or punishingly cold. The crew, dressed in multiple layers of black clothing scurry or stand around, depending on their position, drink plenty of coffee and maintain a general demeanor of helpful politeness to our town's citizens.

During actual filming, while the crew handles the flow of traffic around the site and answers questions, I have seen Matt Dillon posing for photos with local groupies between takes and M. Night talking with curious children. Overall, I think our town has embraced the project. The local businesses are benefitting financially from providing services to the crew and from the inconvenience of being part of the set. Our downtown has improved in appearance - so much so, that an artist friend returning briefly at Christmas from his studies in Ontario, and having no idea of the filming taking place, asked me what was 'with' the main street, and was it some kind of downtown revitalization project. The fact is, the additions to our downtown community have improved it and most of us will truly miss the extra pretty buildings, the whimsical signage, and general aura of 'lights, camera, action' which have made our quiet town, temporarily at least, a more vibrant place.

All the initial press about the show indicated that filming would wrap up this February. If the show is renewed for another season I suppose we will get to keep our pretend shops for a while longer, or they will, at least, be returned to us later in the year - I am not sure because I am quite shy about asking the crew a lot of questions. The one crew member I have managed to have any kind of real chat with was telling me about an area of Vancouver where a western-themed TV show is filmed. The set has been up for ten years now and has become a fixture in that community. This morning, not knowing the fate of our own particular set, I took my camera out in the frigid January sunshine to photograph it for what might just be the last time.

On the days leading up to filming, the crew adds the signs and other details to existing buildings:

The Newspaper office becomes a cafe

We suddenly have a theatre in town

This 'stone' bank is a wood and styrofoam facade...
 It covers an auto parts store

A welcome addition to our town if it were real

My friend Joanne's print shop becomes the Wayward Pines Chamber of Commerce

The facades that line the North side of the street fool visitors when their storefront windows are decorated and the signage put up: 

And this little sign in a shop window gives an indication of how things really are in the mysterious fictional town of Wayward Pines: 

This evening, the crew are going to 'blow up' a vehicle during filming. I might walk down with my younger daughter and check it out. If it's not too cold.

Click on the photos for an elarged-version slide show. And have a great weekend!

January 20, 2014

Chasing the Light along the Mighty Fraser

When the sun is shining, January can be a beautiful month around here. The skeletal trees open up the landscape instead of filling it in as they do so lushly in the warmer months. This past Saturday, my daughters and I went to do some shopping in the mid-sized city which is about a twenty minute drive from our town if you go via the freeway, about twenty-five minutes if you go by the pretty old country road. My older daughter is learning to drive, so we went by the old country road, had a successful day in the city and then came home the same way. We were crossing the railroad tracks just before the roundabout which takes us over the bridge to our little town, when I made a mental note to come back sometime soon and take some photos in the area. The very next afternoon, my younger daughter and I took our cameras - she got a shiny new red one for Christmas - and set off to catch the light in the later part of the day. We drove back over the bridge, through the roundabout, across the tracks and then found a place to park. Then, walking back up the road to the train tracks we started our little adventure. We had to wait for a train to pass. Several of the cars were skillfully decorated with grafitti art:

Once the train had passed we ventured down the track a little, but not too far because the sides were dense with brambles. If another train came we would have to jump into them. No, thank-you.

A beautiful, unobstructed-by-wires view of Mt. Cheam across someone's backyard was one of my objectives for going down the tracks. It's a wonderful feeling knowing we were way up on the top of that mountain just this past summer.

I was sidetracked by this scene and the collection of old tin washtubs hanging on a shed in the backyard. I began to take a photo of it when a friendly man and his dog called out to me, hoping I was not an employee from the city finding fault with his property or something like that. I assured him I was just admiring his washtubs and I hoped he did not mind. His wife and baby came across the property to greet us as well. We introduced ourselves and had a great little chat, but we had to cut it short if we were going to keep on chasing the last light of the day. 

We left the tracks just before we saw another train coming along in the distance. We walked back to the car and noticed this modern house behind some hedges near where we had parked. The house was quite a contrast to the century old one with the washtubs. My daughter liked the green door. I wished I could tresspass and see the house from the front, but no. Walking down the railroad tracks was enough law-breaking for one afternoon, for the pair of us anyway.

We got back in the car and drove down a side road towards the river. We found these mirrored views along the way.

We parked again down by the Fraser River and walked across the hard-packed silt to the water, the sun laying streaks across the ground and gilding the bridge in the distance.

This bridge across the Fraser was built in the late 1950's. Before that, people were transported across by a ferry on cables which stretched from shore to shore. Earlier in the century, travellers could take a trip down the river to New Westminster on a paddlewheeled ship, making stops in other riverside communities along the way.

Back toward the West, the sun was hanging lower and lower in the sky.

And in the meantime, my daughter was finding a subject to capture with her camera. I captured her.

Then, I turned my attention to her subject, a bald eagle far up in a tree.

It was time to go home, but we had a delivery to make first. After we made it, I took some photos in a hazelnut plantation, while my daughter video'd a squirrel jumping around looking for last year's nuts. The light was falling fast and the effect was gloomy in the grove of trees.

We got back in the car for the short drive home. "We sure live in a beautiful place," remarked my daughter. I agreed. All of the scenery we had enjoyed on our little light-chasing adventure was within just eight kilometers of our house.

In our twenty years as a family, we have lived in five places. In each of them we have found 'our' spots, the places we felt at home. In all of them we found mountains and water. In all of them we found light, even if we had to chase it sometimes.

"There's no place like home," said the girl in the new red shoes.

Please click on the photos if you would like to seem them enlarged. Wishing you a good, light-filled week!

January 10, 2014

Handsome is as Handsome Does

Occasionally, as I was growing up, I heard my mother describe a young man of our acquaintance as a ‘wolf’.  A ‘wolf’, my mother explained, was someone with a predatory nature, particularly toward young, innocent girls (Little Red Riding Hood anyone?), and once identified, a ‘wolf’ was to be avoided at all costs by my three sisters and me.  Wolves came in many different styles of sheep’s clothing, but the costume of which I believe my mother was most wary was of the smooth-talking, preppy frat boy type.  Interestingly enough, she distrusted a guy with a squeaky clean appearance, and often for good reason; after all, she was a teenager in the 50’s and knew this type very well.  She knew these boys could be very crafty wolves - the type to flatter a girl’s parents and then take her out, get her drunk and take advantage.  But, as everyone knows, teenagers often rebel against their parents’ ways and wishes, if only to assert a certain amount of independence, and I was no different.  In high school I developed a crush on a boy of the preppy frat boy type which seemed to resurface in the 80’s.  He was the kind of boy featured in teen magazines, the type to make young, otherwise intelligent girls act silly.  He wore name brand polo shirts with the collar turned up in various shades of pastel, leather loafers, and sported spiky, gelled hair. To my mind he had the face of an angel, and I pointed him out to my mom one day.

“He’s very ‘pretty’, isn’t he,” she said with a curl of her lip.
“He’s not pretty, Mom, he’s handsome,” I protested.
“Handsome is as handsome does,” was her short but pointed reply.

A Very Handsome James Spader as the preppy jerk in Pretty in Pink
-definitely a wolf

To my utter bewilderment at the time, the boys my mom generally favoured were the long-haired rocker types, especially if they played an instrument.  I’m not sure why - perhaps she felt they held an honest disregard for convention.  I had five older siblings with many types of friends, maybe all the rocker kids she knew were just really nice people.  At my high school these kinds of boys were called ‘head bangers’. They usually went around with girls who sported similar rocker hairstyles ornamented with feathered roach clips and head bands.  They tended to answer teachers’ questions in monosyllables and didn’t usually top the academic charts.  Some were even classified as ‘stoners’, an even less desirable label in the upper echelon of my school.  Though friendly with some of the head bangers, I was certainly not their type and, admittedly, they were not mine.  I continued to develop crushes on the ‘wrong’ sorts of boys, often preppy jocks who usually weren’t interested in me beyond a nod in the hallway or as someone’s little sister. My preference for that certain type of boy continued until, as often happens when we begin to grow up, something came along to widen my view of the world.

I took piano lessons until I was fifteen, and in my last year I once again participated in the local music festival. My piece was very difficult and I could not get it right, no matter how hard I practiced.  On the day of the festival, thirteen young pianists assembled on the front pew of the Nelson United Church.  The lights were dim, except for on the stage, and at the desk of the adjudicators, making them look like pale distant ghosts owning only heads and pen-holding hands.  I was extremely nervous but glad to be in the middle of the pack, not at the front.  Sitting next to me was a boy I had never seen before.  He had long, blonde hair, an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and jeans on – mom’s type.   “This should be interesting,” I remember thinking to myself as he approached the bench when they called his name.  I fully expected to hear a less than stellar performance, maybe a laboured rendition of that Leila Fletcher classic ‘My Little Birch Canoe’, or at best, a choppy interpretation of Beethoven's 'Fur Elise'.  I do not remember what he played, maybe Chopin, maybe Rachmaninoff, but it was a shock to see and hear this long-haired dude blast his way through his challenging piece with such skill and confidence. I was dumbfounded, and after the thunderous applause died down, I was *gasp!* next. As I rose to go up to the stage I could hear people whispering about the long haired pianist:  “Who is he?”  “Where is he from?” Then I heard someone say, “He’s ___ ___ from The Valley.  His family is so talented”.   I was really nervous now – rattled, actually.  My pre-conceived notions had just been turned upside down.  How could I possibly follow Rocker Valley Boy's performance!  I sat down on the bench.  I started to play.  I stopped after a few bars and started again. I stopped again, and started again.  I screwed up so badly the adjudicators took pity on me and allowed me to get my music, even though we were supposed to have memorized our pieces.  I got through my nasty piece somehow and with a limping heart and downcast eyes I returned to my seat.  Mortified, and afraid to look at my mom and sister in the audience, let alone at the blonde piano star beside me, I kept my gaze downward.

Quietly, from beside me Rocker Valley Boy spoke.  “Hey, that was pretty good,” he said.
“No, it wasn’t, and you know it,” I managed to whisper.
He turned to look at me.  I finally looked up at him, barely meeting his eyes. “Yeah, it was,” he said, smiling encouragingly.  “Don’t worry about it.”
I was immediately cheered by his friendly and generous words. I could breathe again.  He wasn’t lying either, so I couldn’t accuse him of mere flattery: later, the adjudicator even praised the bits between the screw ups.

I developed a sort of admiration for Rocker Valley Boy out of appreciation for what he did for me that festival day.  On rare occasions I would see him in town and feel a little flutter of the heart.  There is no telling when the words of our mothers will come true.