Friday Five

Rock Center

1. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… This time of year we seem to spend a lot of energy to “make memories.” But in my experience the most memorable moments are often the ones that are unexpected. Tori Nelson shared a fond holiday experience in a post this week and it got me thinking about some of mine. One sweet memory was when my nephew was a baby. It was Christmas Eve and I took him outside to look at the multi-colored lights draped around the front door. They twinkled and his little face turned all the colors of the rainbow. He was mesmerized and just stared at them for long minutes. It seemed that he was in some other dimension of time and space where he was fully aware and present. Now he’s 17 and the only thing that mesmerizes him is his smart phone.

What is your favorite holiday memory?

Speaking of holiday lights, let’s go from the sublime to the ridiculous: If you don’t like it, move; aka Christmas lights in Brooklyn.

2. Imagine a French-inspired bistro, bathed in sepia tones with mottled mirrors, penny-tile floors and worn tables, serving croissants and mini-quiches. That’s one of my favorite brunch places, Balthazar. It’s so…civilized. This place is always hopping with chic, put-together people who know how to wear scarves.  Really, it’s the next best thing to Paris. So since I’m researching Paris for a story I’m writing, I  decided to splurge call it research. It was the most luxurious hour, people-watching with my cafe au lait and tattered copy of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, all about his time in Paris in the 1920’s.

What are little ways you treat yourself? 

Love the reflection of the taxi and people walking by.


3. And…action! It’s not uncommon for a film shoot to happen in my neighborhood. Usually it’s a television show like Law & Order (when that was still around), Person of Interest or Boardwalk Empire. The production companies come for a day, spend a few hours filming a scene and then pack up. No muss, no fuss. This week, all bets were off when A Winter’s Tale came to the nabe. It was clear from the outset that this movie was going to be big budget. First off: the horses. We don’t see horses much in Brooklyn, well, like never.

A Winter's Tale

Reggie hid from the horses, playing the if-I-can’t-see-you-then-you-can’t-see-me game.

There was more crew milling about than the population of some small towns and they were pretending it had snowed.

Those little bushes are fake too.

Those little bushes are fake too.

The trailers and craft services tables and power cords snaked around several blocks. They had dialect coaches and large wardrobe trailers.

Need a vacuum cleaner? I know where you can get one real cheap.

Definitely a period piece. There were plenty of extras hanging around in stovetop hats and cloaks.

Winter's Tale

If it wasn’t for the orange cones this scene could be right out of the 1800’s. (Notice the fake snow and fake bushes.)

Now that you’ve seen the shots here is the movie description from IMDB: New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay, you might know her as Lady Sybil on Downton Abbey), a young girl, who is dying. Also starring: Will Smith, Matt Bomer, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt and others.  Release scheduled 2013. Hmmm…what do you think?

Have you ever seen a movie or television shoot? 

4. A Big Holiday Fur-raiser and Giveaway. My pal Aleks over at Love and a Six-Foot Leash is hosting a wonderful giveaway for the four-legged. The giveaway is part of a fundraiser for The Schrodi Training Fund, run by Austin dog trainer Shari Elkins (named in honor of her dog Schrodi). The Schrodi Fund focuses on keeping dogs who have behavior problems in their homes through low or no-cost training. Sometimes it takes just a few sessions with a trainer to address a behavior problem, keeping everyone in the house happy, healthy and safe. In 2010, The Schrodi Fund worked with 80 families who would otherwise not have been able to afford the help they needed. Of the dogs helped that year, 95 percent remained in their homes.

I know how valuable training can be from personal experience. When Reggie came into my life, I quickly found out that he had some issues – mostly stemming from fear aggression – that had to be addressed. Luckily I was able to afford a few sessions with a positive reinforcement trainer who gave me the tools to help both of us build more confidence. (We still work on it every day.)

But quality trainers are not inexpensive. As Aleks notes, “Behavioral issues continue to be the #1 reason that dogs are surrendered to shelters, and especially in a weak economy, the need for affordable training — especially private lessons to address behavioral issues — is great.”

Today is the last day to enter, so please hop (heh, heh) on over to her site and enter to win some terrific prizes. Look at all the paw-some swag you can win! (Can’t you just see Reggie in that bow-tie?) Your furiends (okay, I’ll stop now) will thank you!

SMTF logo small

5. The new rat race? At your office, do you ever feel that you’re a hamster running on one of those little wheels? Well, now you can live it.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



  1. My favourite holiday memories? When I was a child my parents would pack the camping gear and head off somewhere in Southern Africa. And there we would be on Christmas Eve, in some godforsaken place in the desert or bush, and my mother would take out some candles, Christmas decorations, and treats. I only realise as an adult that it took some planning and effort on her part to create some magic for us.

    I read the other day that A Winter’s Tale was filming in Brooklyn and was wondering if you saw any of the action. Tell Reggie that Rosie is also scared of horses. And cows. And basically anything bigger than a large dog. She’s not a brave little bear!


    1. What a sweet memory, Lisa! It’s often true that these moments take on extra special meaning as we gain a new appreciation for them.

      Reggie has met a few cows in Tennessee and takes the same approach – he turns his back on them and won’t look at them. He doesn’t bark at all, just pretends that they’re not there and maybe they’ll go away. (They don’t! They’re very curious creatures!)


  2. I am already dreading the day when Thomas is more interested in texting than twinkle lights. And Balthazar? It just sounds fancy! Love reading about all these classy city places, as we live among Cracker Barrels and IHOPs 🙂


    1. There’s an IHOP going up right near my office, if you can believe it. It’s such a novelty to have a chain restaurant like that. I wonder how they’ll fare with all the other diners/coffee shops nearby.


  3. What a remarkable organization you’ve shared with us, Jackie–The Schrodi Training Fund–I will hop over there ASAP.

    Ooo, that movie sounds highly romantic (and mind you, I’m not a Downton Abbey fan!) so I will be on the lookout for it and how fun for you all (Reggie and horses!!) to have it going on. I lived a while in LA and longer in NY (as you know) so I’ve seen lots of fun shoots. LA, especially. My first night in Venice Beach they were shooting what I think ended up being Rising Sun and I looked up to see Sean Connery exiting his trailer in a bathrobe. I knew I had arrived 😉

    How I’m sure you and Reggie are soaking up all the holiday decorations in the city. I miss them so–thank you for sharing with us.



    1. It was quite a surprise to turn the corner and see a line of horses walking down the sidewalk! Reggie has seen cows when we visit Tennessee, so maybe he thought these horses were oddly shaped cows! 🙂

      Sean Connery! That’s quite a celebrity sighting! Was he every bit as dashing in person? I didn’t see Colin Farrell or Russell Crowe, but there was a shoot for The Muppets Christmas special a few years back and I got to see Kermit in person. Does that count? 🙂


  4. “Now he’s 17 and the only thing that mesmerizes him is his smart phone.” Oh how we change! Good that you have those memories of him. One of my favorite memories of Christmas is of my husband coming home with a ‘Charlie Brown tree’ when we lived on an island sans pines, and he didn’t want to disappoint our kids, who were very young. It was a branch, but we docorated it like it was the best and most expensive tree ever.
    Love your description of the French-style bistro – what a neat place to linger. And your choice of reading material was so appropriate ;-D


    1. Maybe when your kids grow up, they’ll remember that tree as one of the favorites of their childhood. 🙂
      “Perfect” Christmas trees are lovely of course, but I’m always the Charlie Brown at the tree stand, picking out the most dilapidated, crooked tree there is.


  5. You made me laugh with the last line of number one. 🙂 One of my favorite memories was my first Christmas in Europe when I cut down a tiny, tiny tree with the saw on my boyfriend’s Swiss army knife!

    That movie sounds really good. But that building! Oh, that is beautiful. Does someone live there, Jackie?

    I’m envious that you got to hang out at Balthazar. Someday, I’m going. Someday.


    1. Isn’t that an amazing building? It was originally the Hulbert Mansion, built in the late 1800’s. Hulbert made his fortune in the paper industry. Now it’s used as a private middle school. There are several of these turn-of-the-century mansions still standing across from the park. I keep thinking I’d like to do a post about them.


  6. Why oh why is the Friday Five now becoming my Monday Five? I’ve just been way too busy lately! Anyway, I love these five… love the description of your nephew and the lights (now smart phone). Love the photos of the (way) “overboard house” as we call them in our family, and loved the glimpse into the movie set. YES, I will watch. I am a huge Matt Bomer fan (love his White Collar TV show!). As Emily said, I’d be a stalker, too… 🙂


    1. There are some women in my office who are big Matt Bomer fans as well. They have his photo as a screen saver! 🙂
      Do people decorate their houses like that in your neck of the woods? Or do most people keep it simple?


    1. I was thinking that the treadmill might be a really difficult place to read, not to mention type! But the recumbent bike sounds like a much better option for reading. I’m afraid I would end up using it as a coat rack. 😛


  7. Hahaha… I guess I’d have to have a functional memory to have actual memories!
    A few years ago ‘Up in the Air’ (or parts of it) was/were shot here. There is a hotel (The Cheshire Inn) two or three blocks from me where there were trailers (and some ‘faux-snow’, too) set-up for a while. I didn’t see any of the actual filming take place, though.


    1. I always wonder if it isn’t easier to have these movies filmed in a studio somewhere. It seems so much simpler to create a set than to try and organize a shoot out on location. It was quite a production with bright lights and generators going at all hours of the night. Traffic was in a snarl for days. I’m all for what will inconvenience me the least! ha. 🙂


      1. I can imagine this sort of thing happens quite a bit in N.Y! I’ve always wondered how it’s even possible to pull something like that off… the opening to ‘Vanilla Sky’ always comes to mind, too.


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