Friday Five

1. A few years back, I was on a beach in San Diego watching a yellow lab chasing after a stick in the ocean. He had a grand time leaping over the waves to get to that stick. Then he’d bring it back to his person and jump in all over again. The game of fetch went on for a good 20 minutes.

I bet that lab looked like this seen from underwater. (Reggie doesn’t like having a bad fur day so he prefers to observe from the sidelines.) Check out Seth Casteel’s amazing underwater dog photography on his FB page. Wow! What a talented photographer. These dogs look like they’re having a blast.

image by Seth Casteel

2. Emails: 343. Revised HUD Forms: 5. Months in progress: 4.5. Refinance closed: 1.

Finally on Wednesday, after 4.5 months, I closed on my mortgage refinance. There seems to have been some confusion about my closing and another closing that took place in New York City on the same afternoon. I understand the bewilderment. Let me be the first to come clean.

The property I closed on was not, I repeat not, the $88 million Central Park West, 7,000 square foot terraced apartment with oval-shaped master bedroom and 4.5 baths.  That place is officially the most expensive apartment in the city, having increased in value 66% over the previous sale price, and was purchased by a Russian billionaire for his 22-year-old daughter. (Interesting aside: his fortune was made in potash fertilizer. And my mom told me there was no future in that!)

Thank you for understanding. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

3. There’s always room for chocolate. Oh, yes there is. To celebrate my friend’s birthday was last week, we went to The Chocolate Room. It’s a cubicle-sized shop right in the neighborhood. They serve (you guessed it) all things chocolate. Just inhaling the heavenly scent makes me feel I should join a Zumba class.

What we have here is blackbottom butterscotch pudding with homemade whipped cream and a chocolate cookie on top (L) and their signature chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce (R ). (Sorry the photo is grainy. It was super dark in there.) Five seconds after this photo was taken, the plates were clean.

4. I can’t seem to set a bedtime. I find myself trying to cross one more thing off my to-do list at midnight when I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. for work. Well, I’ll just clean the toilet bowl before I climb into bed. This routine doesn’t make for a happy camper in the morning, as my co-workers will attest.

Gretchen Rubin, creator of The Happiness Project, posted seven tips for sticking to your bedtime. (Aww, Mom! Just five more minutes!) Number five on her list is to “remind yourself how great it feels to wake up naturally, before the alarm goes off.” That’s called Sunday.

Do you have trouble going to bed at the same time each night? What do end up doing instead of getting shut-eye? 

5. Sexual imagery in the Gettysburg Address. Monday is President’s Day here in the US (technically Abraham Lincoln’s birthday), which we celebrate by having lots of sales at the mall, apparently.

I came across a book I had read years ago, tucked away in the back of one of my bookshelves – a memoir by writer Peggy Noonan. She was one of the first (perhaps the first) female presidential speechwriters. You have her to thank for Bush’s “thousand points of light” speech and the commemoration that Ronald Reagan made in Normandy for the 40th anniversary of D-Day for the boys of Point du Hoc. (Ranked as the 60th best speech of all time, by people who rank such things.  If you have a few moments, check it out. You’ll see most of the “boys” were there in the audience, by now old men at this time.)

In her book, Noonan talks a lot about the grueling editing process and how many people who know very little about anything get to weigh in on the finer points of her writing. So in honor of one of the most perfect speeches ever made, Lincoln’s 273 words after the Battle of Gettysburg, Noonan subjected his address to presidential editing. Here’s a funny look at what she thinks would have happened to the Gettysburg Address:

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



  1. Yes, I have a TERRIBLE time sticking to the same bed time… I really like to stay up late and get up super early but it’s hard to get going in the morning, as you say. If I go to bed too early, like 10, then I simply can’t sleep! Luckily even with very little sleep, I’m never grouchy so that’s good 😉 p.s. that photo of the dog looks exuberant but also a little scary!


  2. Love the photo of the dog in the water. My dog has a red ball just like that one. He loves the thing so much. In fact he obsesses over it and we have to keep it in the freezer at night or he won’t sleep. I’m pretty sure he has OCD 🙂


    1. Reggie refuses to fetch anything – frisbees, balls, sticks – but he gets that way about his rawhides. I have to distract him with something shiny to get it away from him and then hide it in the refrigerator.


  3. Congrats on the closing, Jackie! Persistence pays off–literally, perhaps.

    And the underwater, dog photos–totally love them. Chocolate? Hard to go wrong, right? And the memoir–sounds like good one.

    Hope you have a great weekend, as well. Greetings to Reggie from Ralph and Lucy!



    1. The refinance was a loooong, stressful road, Kathy. I can’t say how glad I am that it’s over.
      I wonder what Ralph and Lucy would look like underwater going after a ball. 🙂


  4. Thanks for directing to those wonderful dogs photos, Jackie, they were amazing!
    It’s fascinating to see what modern day editors would have done to one of the most cherished speeches of one of our favorite presidents. It would have been destroyed! Something for all writers to consider, not just those who write speeches. 🙂


    1. It’s funny in a sad way what can happen when people with an agenda get between the creator and the reader (or listener in this case). A strange form of censorship, I think.


  5. Awesome underwater dog photo!

    Yowza, 88 million? I’m trying to imagine an oval bedroom and can’t. It would be like sleeping in the oval office. No thanks.

    I admire your fortitude, taking a photo before digging into those incredible desserts!


    1. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the class, Nancy! Since it’s not face to face, it’s harder for me to gauge if everyone is enjoying themselves. I’ve tried to make the lessons interesting and informative. I hope the exercises are fun. Thank you!


  6. You lost me first with that incredible dog photo and then the talk (an pic) of blackbottom butterscotch pudding. Butterscotch pudding is my very favorite. And this is why I am grateful for 24 hour groceries down the road. When that middle of the night butterscotch pudding craving hits and nothing but the box variety will do 😉

    Happy weekend to you dears. Spring is coming. Our cherry trees bloomed in the night, I swear–hope you’re seeing blooms where you are!



    1. Erika, I think you would have swooned over this butterscotch pudding. It just slid down my throat like velvety goodness.
      I’ve noticed that the daffodil stems have already started to peek out of the dirt. (In February!) The harbingers of spring!


  7. A great Friday Five – as always! Loved the underwater dog photography!

    Think Willie needs to read (and apply) the tips for going to bed at a reasonable time.

    The Peggy Noonan piece: Very interesting! So all those times I’ve thought that presidents are such good speech makers, it was actually their speech-writers who were good.


    1. There are whole teams of people behind those presidential speeches these days. Very different in Lincoln’s day. He wrote the Gettysburg Address in 20 minutes on the train ride to the battlefield.

      Let me know if Willie is able to get to bed on time. It’s not so easy, is it? 😉


  8. Jacqui if I’m not getting the oval shaped master bedroom and the 4.5 bathrooms I’m not sure we’ll be able to go ahead with the house swap 😉 Congrats on getting your refinance through, I have to do the same thing myself at the end of the year.


    1. Uh-oh *slaps head with palm of hand* What I meant to say was that my apartment is even better. The people who just bought the $88 million dollar apartment are jealous of my place. They wish they lived here. 🙂


  9. Wow, I got lost on the dog site for several minutes … that is beautiful. I love the work he does. His website is fascinating.
    Bedtime. Cripes. I used to be a morning person, alas times have changed. I stay up later and end up getting out of bed later. I’m not getting anything more accomplished by staying up later, unless reading blogs and scanning Twitter counts for accomplishments. And sadly, the toilets are neglected.
    The chocolate place …. swoon.
    Congrats on closing the refi!!! Woo hoo!! That was quick, eh? (hee, hee)
    And finally, Peggy Noonan. I enjoy her writings very much.


    1. I was so fascinated with the underwater dog photos, too. It was amazing how he was able to freeze frame the moment and capture the joy of the chase. 🙂


  10. The photo of that dog is amazing. My dog used to love water. And she was such a furry thing with long dreadlock hair, really bad when she came out.
    Oh must I sound boring…. bed time is probabaly the one and only thing I’m really disciplined about… I sleep at the exact same time every day. I just can’t deal with the crankiness when I don’t get enough sleep.


    1. Caroline, your discipline around bedtime is something I aspire to. I’m always convinced I need to do one more thing and then one more thing after that. Before you know it, I’m only getting a few hours of sleep. Then I’m not a happy camper. ;P


  11. Congrats on your refinance, Jackie!!! And I have trouble with bedtime too. I have solved it with many many ten minute naps. But that’s a little easier to do when I work at home! 🙂


    1. Thanks, Carla! I’m so happy the refinance process is finally over.
      I would love to take naps during the day. I wonder if my boss would mind. 🙂


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