Friday Five

1. The sun will come out…tomorrow. Annie, the musical, is making its way back to Broadway (again). Most of us know the story of the little orphan with perfect pitch who worms her way into the heart of a tough, old, rich man and lives happily ever after. Well this version of the musical has another happy ever after story.

Sandy, Annie’s dog who is always played by a real dog on stage, was plucked from a Houston city shelter, a mere 24 hours before being euthanized for lack of space.  Sunny (the dog’s real name) was picked by  trainer William Berloni having seen only a photo online. He wasn’t sure it was the right fit. Sunny had been mislabeled as male, and Sandy is always female. Also, he wasn’t sure Sunny was up to the task of a rigorous Broadway performance. It takes just the right temperament.  “Her description was so sweet and she looked very much like the original Sandy that we were just saving her to find her a home.”

It turned out that Sunny was the ideal dog. “She’s going to be fantastic,” Berloni said. Rumor is he’s even teaching Sunny a dance number! FYI – Sunny’s understudy (yes, even dogs have understudies), named Casey, is also a rescue dog from Nashville.

Lilla Crawford, who will play the role of Annie, and Sunny, who will play the role of Sandy, in the new Broadway production of Annie. (AP Photo/Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Joan Marcus)

2. Judging a book by its cover. With the publication of my recent e-book collection of essays (with admittedly not the most intriguing cover), I’ve been enraptured with this blog called Underground New York Public Library. The photographer/blogger, Ourit Ben-Haim, posts multiple photos daily of commuters reading on the NYC subway. This is the simplest concept, yet absolutely addicting. Go ahead. Check out the site. I’ll wait….

See what I mean? And when you scroll through the photos, they tell a story – not just of the people reading, but of the culture and values. Clearly I need to cover my copy of 50 Shades of Grey with a jacket of War and Peace – just in case. 🙂

I decided to do my own experiment and snapped this  photo of a guy sitting across from me during my morning commute. Guess what he’s reading… (answer at the bottom of the post)

3. Going bananas. Last year I read a book by Barbara Kingsolver about her family’s year-long experiment to eat only foods grown locally. Her words encouraged me to be a more conscientious consumer when buying groceries. But,  it’s hard to imagine never eating another banana or avocado again – two foods I love which don’t grow anywhere near the Northeast.

Enter Urbanana,  a vertical banana farm on Les Champs-Élysées in Paris. Integrating greenhouse agriculture seamlessly into an urban landscape while providing residents with locally grown produce is the whole idea behind the project. If ideas like this catch on, we can have our bananas and eat them too.

Do you try to eat locally? Is it difficult in your area? 

4. Bonsai! I snapped this photo at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden a few weeks ago. It’s a bald cypress tree scaled down to about 40 inches tall in order to grow in a shallow tray. It’s in the “formal upright style” which means that no two branches can be on the same level and each branch is slightly longer than the one above it forming a general pyramid shape. (There are a lot more rules.)

It’s part of an exhibit of bonsai with amazing specimens, most of which are more than 60 years old like this guy below. I wonder if bonsai enthusiasts have to leave their trees to a next of kin in their will.

You don’t look a day over 59.

5. Simplify. That was what Henry David Thoreau suggested more than 150 years ago. He pointed out that the more we try to gain freedom through technology, the more it actually enslaves us. (Did he have a crystal ball or what?)

This is a topic that’s everywhere from Twitter to popular magazines to book clubs, but  often the recommendations feel a bit out of reach like giving away all of your possessions. I liked Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta’s nine small ways you can start to simplify your life because they seem manageable. From spending time outside once a day (not just getting from point A to B) to blocking out “disconnected” time, his suggestions didn’t seem drastic or nitpicky.

Have you simplified your life? Do you have any suggestions on what worked for you? 


Answer to # 2:  He’s reading The Relationship Cure: A 5-Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendships. Did you guess that? 🙂

Have a simple and enjoyable weekend, everyone! 



  1. I LOVE Kingsolver, though the Poisonwood Bible was my favorite. In fact, I’m re-reading it now. Also, saw the original Broadway production of Annie in the late 70s. We always think our dog Ralph looks like Sandy–Ralph who consumes the local poop of his sister Lucy–right out of the back yard. YUCK! Great post, Jackie. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!


    1. I’m right there with you about the Poisonwood Bible. I think about that book often. It’s probably time for a re-read.
      Poor Ralph – he’ll never get to Broadway with that kind of habit. ;P


  2. I wouldn’t have guessed on the young man’s book title, but the picture feels as if he is reading it intently. I hope I’m right. It is good to see that people are still engrossed by written words.


    1. I’m happy to report that I see a lot of young people reading while on the subway. This guy was pretty engrossed in the book. In fact he eventually took off his iPod and was just reading.


  3. Wow, I LOVE that blog, too — I can see I need to turn off WIFI today to keep from reading it instead of writing! I try to eat local whenever possible, but it’s tough with such a short growing season in Maine. We have a pretty big garden, but it’s been wiped out by first too much rain, then too much heat, then bugs, then deer, now the rain again = very poor harvest. Sigh.


    1. It’s so addictive, isn’t it? I feel like a bit of a voyeur. But in a good way. 🙂
      I don’t know – your blueberries looked pretty good! I hope they tasted as good as they looked.


  4. That banana farm is amazing! I can really relate to the simplicity stuff right now. I moved to the country to have more time and money in my life, and by the simple act of building a house I now have neither. Humans are good at complicating things!


    1. Oh, isn’t that the truth! We sure know how to take something that should be simple and make it much more complicated. We should take our cues from Reggie who does not feel guilty at all for snoozing on his dog bed for hours at time. Can’t get much simpler than that. 🙂


  5. I would never have guessed that was what he was reading (I was thinking 50 Shades of Grey, ha!)

    I couldn’t imagine living without bananas or avocados either.

    I’ve tried to unplug much more this summer. I weaned myself from the internet, only made it 3 weeks. But it did feel good after I got used to it. We aren’t doing anything major this summer, no big trips, just staying home with the kids, reading books and going swimming. Trying to simplify by just enjoying being with my family.


    1. At first it’s like going through addiction withdrawal, isn’t it? You get the shakes and start craving snack food. I applaud you for getting to 3 weeks! I have a lot to learn from you Obi Wan.


  6. Hey, new blog design! I like it. 🙂

    Poisonwood Bible is one of my all-time faves. Will never forget it.
    It’s a LOT easier to eat locally when you’re in California. I couldn’t give up avocados, ever. They grow them not far from us and there’s an avocado festival I want to attend.


    1. Thanks very much!
      An avocado festival? I’d definitely go to that. That’s a little slice of heaven. I’ve heard there is a garlic festival too. That one, I’m not so sure about.


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