Friday Five

1. My Tiny Spark. I was absolutely thrilled that my favorite Tennessean, Tori over at The Ramblings, featured a piece  I wrote about Pearl Fryar as part of her Tiny Spark series.  Mr. Fryar has single-handedly cultivated a garden oasis of 300 topiaries in his backyard. He has spent about 70 hours per week for the past 30 years communing with his trees.  Now people from around the world are drawn to his yard not only to appreciate the beauty in his work but to appreciate the dedication to his calling. I invite you to pop over to Tori’s place and read more about the man they call the plant whisperer. Do you have a Tiny Spark? A triumph over adversity? 

image from

image from

2. Ahoy, matey! I’ve just read about an unusual casualty of Hurricane Sandy. The Bounty, a replica of the infamous ship with the infamous mutiny, sank off the coast of North Carolina during the storm.

The original HMS Bounty had sailed to Tahiti for supplies, but in 1789 after many months at sea, Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against the commanding officer William Bligh for what he claimed was harsh treatment (though this has been debated). Christian and fellow mutineers turned out Bligh and those loyal to him on a tiny vessel and sailed to Pitcairn Island where they burned the Bounty to avoid being discovered. (The whole story is quite fascinating, especially how Bligh was able to navigate a skiff more than 3,600 miles using a quadrant and a pocket watch to get to safety! Read more about it here.)

WikiCommons English: The mutineers turning Lt Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from HMAV Bounty, 29 April 1789, published by B B Evans

WikiCommons English: The mutineers turning Lt Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from HMS Bounty, 29 April 1789, published by B B Evans

Fast forward to 1962, when Hollywood came calling. The Mutiny on the Bounty starred Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian. A 180-ft, historically accurate replica of the Bounty was made for the film and had been in commission ever since, touring the country as an educational tool and was used as the Black Pearl in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Just before Hurricane Sandy arrived, the Bounty was stationed in New England and due in St. Petersburg, Florida, for an event, so the captain set sail to the east to trying to give the storm a wide berth. He then took the ship south, hoping that he had avoided the worst of it. Unfortunately, about 90 miles off the coast of North Carolina, the Bounty began taking on water and the captain sent a distress call to the Coast Guard.

The crew abandoned ship into lifeboats. Two of the 16 crew members died, one  of whom was Claudine Christian — a direct descendant of Bounty mutineer (wait for it) Fletcher Christian.

Stay with me here because there’s more.

3. Imagine you’re a shipwrecked sailor adrift in the Pacific. That is what author Karen Thompson Walker (The Age of Miracles) asks us to think about during her TED talk on what fear has to teach us. You can choose one of three options to save yourself and your shipmates — but each choice comes with a fearful consequence (in this case: cannibals, terrible storms, or starvation). The fear you choose to listen to will govern whether you live or die.What do you do?

This was the real decision the sailors of the whaleship Essex faced in 1819. Walker shows how fear propels imagination, as it forces us to imagine the possible futures and how to cope with them.  “Fear is a kind of unintentional storytelling,” she says. “What if we thought of fear as an amazing act of the imagination, something that can be as profound and insightful as storytelling itself?” I’ve never quite thought about fear in this way. In fact I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort not to make any decisions from a place of fear (unless, say, I’m being chased by a bear). So I hadn’t anticipated ways in which I can harness fear to tell a story. “Just as the most nuanced stories in literature are often the richest, so too might our subtlest fears be the truest.” For any of you who are writers (of any genre), what ways do you use fear to tell a character’s story? 

Cocktail party tidbit, part 1: Herman Melville based parts of his 1851 novel Moby Dick on the tale of the Essex.

Cocktail party tidbit, part 2:  There are whales alive who were born before Moby Dick was written. Some of the bowhead whales who traverse the icy waters of Northern Alaska are almost 200 years old.


4. Indulgent Path to Money Management. The beginning of the year always seems fraught with money concerns for me. A lot of my holiday expenditures start rolling in about now. Then my paycheck gets hit with an increase in health insurance premiums.  And subway fare increases. And home maintenance fee increases. It’s enough to make me want to drown my sorrows in a $9 double whip, half-cafe, extra foam, extra hot, soy latte. So if, like me, one of your goals in 2013 is to get your finances in order, you might be interested in this e-course offered by my friend Carla. She’s calling it the indulgent path to money management that is sustainable, read: without deprivation. It’s about reconditioning your ideas about how and why you spend money to reconnect your values and lifestyle. Here are a few take-aways from her course:

  • where your “money leaks” are and how to stop them.
  • where in your life you have enough and where you have too much, and what to do about it.
  • a simple method to get super-clear on your finances and what’s actually going on with the flow of money in and out of your household.
  • how to save money for what you actually want, while having fun doing it!
  • how to create a sustainable, workable, long-term method for meeting your financial goals while enjoying a lovely life in the meantime.

The course begins on January 29 for only $84!


5. Rethinking survival of the fittest. These words from Charles Darwin (who sailed to the Galapagos on the HMS Beagle, since we’re talking about ships) got me thinking about the true meaning of the term survival of the fittest. How responsive are you to change? 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the
most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

~ Charles Darwin

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



  1. We are using the envelope system to help with all those “money leaks”. They really add up! So glad you shared Pearl with Tiny Spark readers. He is an absolute gem of a human being 🙂 Happy Friday, Jackie!


  2. Happy weekend to you and Reggie! Being here in NC I was riveted by the story of the Bounty and what a remarkable woman and what a loss. Her passion for the history and might of the ship was inspiring.

    Thank you as always for the gems, my dear. We saw a bit of snowfall overnight–do you all have any on the ground?


    1. With all of the craziness here immediately following the hurricane, I must have missed the story about the Bounty when it first came out. An amazing story for sure — perhaps inspiration for a future novel? 😉

      No snow here, believe it or not. Reggie is quite disappointed. Also, the mulchers have come by and picked up the Christmas trees which occupied a lot of his sniffing time over the past few weeks.
      Have a terrific weekend!


  3. Some rich nuggets here, Jackie. Fear can be a great motivator because the adrenaline starts pumping and you see things more clearly. Fear is excitement without breathing, someone told me, and I try to remember that.
    So sad about the Bounty and Claudine Christian.


    1. What a great way to put it. I hadn’t thought of fear in that way before: excitement without breathing. It would be great to be able to channel or harness that fear without letting it write our future.


  4. Gosh, Jackie, I’ve been so distracted, I’m afraid I missed your post over at Tori’s. I will try to get over there this weekend.

    At the same time, love your Darwin quote. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Galapagos Islands recently, in light of our move to Ecuador.

    Hope you and Reggie have an awesome weekend!



  5. I saw your comment (to Erika) about the Bounty — which I hadn’t heard until your Friday 5 — and I was thinking the same thing about a future novel. So amazing. I appreciate the e-course link — something I always need to learn more about! And I will definitely be heading over to Tori’s! Happy Weekend!


    1. Fascinating story about the Bounty, isn’t it? Talk about coming full circle.
      You know how I love research like this! 🙂 An addendum to this piece is that the mutineers who stole away to Pitcairn Island settled there and married into the native community. Some of their descendants are still there.


  6. Yes, but if we say that it is the most responsive to change which survives do we say anything? It seems to be almost a tautology. Nevertheless, if this is the case, than what can be said? It is the luckiest that survives?


    1. Yes, that is a great point! The ones most responsive to change are always changing and therefore never the same as before. It’s an interesting shift from the old maxim that only the strong survive. In this way one doesn’t necessarily need to be strong – only flexible. Although perhaps by allowing oneself to be flexible is a kind of strength. Thanks for giving me something to think about.


  7. I really enjoyed the spark piece, Ms. C… very, very cool!
    Also… 200 year old whales?! I’d heard that sea turtles could live for over a hundred years, but… wow! I had no idea!
    p.s. Now I’ve got this weird scene featuring Don Corleone and Captain Jack Sparrow in my head… not really sure exactly how I got there… but…


  8. Wait are you saying that some whales are actually 200 years old. That’s unbelievable. Someone once told me that scientists haven’t pinpointed a natural cause for death for lobsters. That they just keep on going until caught for food. Not sure if that is true, but I found it interesting.


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