Chasing Rainbows Throughout California

Written by Braiden on February 25, 2011

We spent eight inspiring days in northern California over the holidays, with five days in Carmel and three in San Francisco.

On Christmas day in Carmel, we decided to take an early-morning beach walk, even though (in retrospect) it seems like a silly, if not downright stupid thing to do, since the local weathermen kept warning about the high winds and heavy rain that were threatening to hit the Monterey Bay area that morning.

Things looked okay when we left the hotel, umbrella in hand just in case.

But by the time we walked down Ocean Avenue to the beach, things had turned ugly.

It was so windy that sand was blowing up onto the path above the beach where we were walking. The pelting rain obscured our glasses and made it almost impossible to see. Tree limbs blew wildly around us. Even the seagulls on the beach seemed surprised as they were buffeted about by the strong winds.

Undaunted, we plowed through to the end of the beach, stopping for photographs of the angry seas and even a 30-second video or two of the wild display of nature around us.

Once at the end of the beach, we gazed back toward Pebble Beach Golf Club from whence we had come. And we were rewarded with this: a rainbow! Our rough journey had more than been worth it to capture this once-in-a-lifetime image.

Memories of the Christmas-Eve rainbow lingered in our minds during the rest of our stay in Carmel. We even toasted to the rainbow that evening over dinner.

Rainbows were still much on our minds by the time we arrived in San Francisco for the final three days of our trip. We did all the normal touristy things–Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, the Ferry Terminal.

But by our last day in Baghdad by the Bay, we wanted something a bit more esoteric. So we headed out to the De Young Museum to see the Impressionist exhibit there. Of course, we hadn’t checked online first, so it was sold out until 6:30 that evening, when we had dinner reservations elsewhere.

So, deciding to make lemonade out of the lemons we’d been dealt, we toured the museum’s general exhibits and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

One of my favorite paintings as we strolled through the spacious galleries was none other than another rainbow, which I offer up here for your viewing enjoyment. I didn’t get the artist’s name, or even know what period it’s from. Sometimes just better to revel in the image itself and not overthink the moment.

More stories from: Editor's Notes

My First Grade, First Taste Memory

Written by Braiden on February 22, 2011

Always tall for my age, I’m in the back row, third from the right (not counting Miss Heeter), in the red blouse and plaid jumper

One day, my first-grade teacher, Miss Heeter, brought a small, brown coconut to class, cracked it open, and extracted and grated the meat.

Next she whipped up a batch of vanilla buttercream icing, mixed in the coconut, and spread the fresh coconut icing over Nilla Wafers.

Six years old, living in the safe confines of suburban Philadelphia in the 1960s, I had never tasted anything so seemingly exotic. . .or so good in my young life.

I thank god for Miss Heeter to this day, for she awakened in me a curious palate, which eventually led to my choosing food and wine as my life’s career.

Have you had a Miss Heeter in your life, a valued teacher who awakened a passion in your life?

Not an Orphan Now

Written by Braiden on February 18, 2011

A few weeks ago, I got the sad news through a colleague of mine from my other life (as a food and wine writer) that Norene, a mutual friend of ours in Canada,  had recently lost her beloved mother.

I smiled as I remembered all the good times Norene and I had had at culinary conferences throughout the years, and how she’d done some tough recipe testing on my most recent cookbook.

Concerned and worried because I knew what a soft heart my friend is, I e-mailed Norene with my condolences and to let her know she was in my thoughts.

In typical Norene style, she responded immediately and shared this anecdote with me. I knew it would make a perfect Five More Minutes With Editor’s Note, and she graciously agreed it was okay for me to share it.

After my mother died, my brother told me, “You’re an orphan now,” Norene said.

I replied, “It’s not so bad becoming an orphan at the age of 70. I was lucky to have my mother for such a long time.”

Do you feel lucky to have the people you love in your life? Do you tell them that often enough? Do they know you feel lucky?

More stories from: Editor's Notes,With My Mom

Announcing Our Lost Love Memory Contest Winner!

Written by Braiden on February 14, 2011

It seems only appropriate that on Valentine’s Day we are announcing the winner of our first-annual Lost Love Memory Contest: “Veronica.”

Mike wins the lovely keepsake Chocolate Cherry Heart Box from the Chukar Cherry Co.! Looks like a cherry, shaped like a heart, filled with a favorite Chocolate Cherry Quartet including Amaretto Rainiers, Cherry Bings, Classic Milk and Cabernet cherries.

Thanks to everyone who entered. We’ll be announcing more exciting contests and prizes on Five More Minutes With shortly, so please stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here is Mike’s prize-winning Lost Love Memory–“Veronica”–for all to enjoy once again.

***

Veronica. My one true love. My only.

For 10 years we tried to connect…never did.

After another 10 quiet years, through the magic of the Internet, we reconnect.

My life is a million miles away and she, now, is finally ready.

But I am not.

If I had five more minutes with her…it would be those last five minutes in 1997 when she left my loft and we didn’t speak for a decade.

I’d take those five minutes and change everything.

For to this day, I burn for her.

Lost Love: Rambo

Written by Karrie on February 13, 2011

I have had a really tough few years.

I broke up with my ex, moved out.

Was in the middle of a huge argument with friends and eventually lost them.

Rambo came home with me January 1, 2008. a new start, a new friendship.

I still had my friends when he came in my life, but there was so much drama that we needed to take time off from each other.

Rambo saved my heart. I would have become really bitter and would have had no room for love my in heart if it would not have been for him.

I started to work out often (going to my fave places in the woods to walk out stress with Rambo). Ihad even started running for the first time in nine years (after a pretty bad accident I had to stop running).

When things got bad, I just turned to him and he made the world better. He was two when I got him and unfortunately he passed away June 26, 2010.

It was cancer. the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, and I lost a sister when I was six.

My heart broken completely, I could not understand why this was happening. Why after just a year and a half together was my best friend leaving me???

Rambo was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. a cousin of the pitbulls but one of the top five dogs in the world for families.

He was exactly like me, not really a fighter unless he had to, really even tempered and very patient. He was truly my best friend.

Memorial day, two of my friends that I had lost, came back in my life, one being my best friend since high school.

I am so grateful for her being back in my life. Taking the time apart allowed us to really grow as people, but it still didn’t help the question of why?

Why did this happen?

It hit me driving one day as I was praying, more like talking to God. just repeating that I needed strength to carry on, to calm myself down.

But why did this happen to us?

Things happen. It sucks, and sometimes feels unfair. but overall there is always an end.

What if God always knew Rambo was going to get cancer. What if He knew that my best friends would not be in my life for that period of time?

I really really truly believe that God put Rambo and me together because He knew what was going to happen.

Rambo would need someone like me to take care of him, give him the best life he could possibly have while he had remaining time on this earth, but He knew my friendships would be nonexistent for that time.

Here it is the middle of February, and I am still just as heartbroken as I was in June.

A month after he died, Rambo was featured in the Maryland Pet Gazette. My mom has made me a scrapbook of our life together, and my stepmom had a painting done of him.

Apparently, the artist says its her best work, so she is featuring him in her art gallery.

I hope that when people see Rambo’s picture, they feel the love that he gave to everyone and anyone.

Lost Love: Veronica

Written by Michael on February 12, 2011

Veronica. My one true love. My only.

For 10 years we tried to connect…never did.

After another 10 quiet years, through the magic of the Internet, we reconnect.

My life is a million miles away and she, now, is finally ready.

But I am not.

If I had five more minutes with her…it would be those last five minutes in 1997 when she left my loft and we didn’t speak for a decade.

I’d take those five minutes and change everything.

For to this day, I burn for her.

More stories from: Featured Story,Lost Love Memory

Lost Love: My Pete

Written by Tara on February 9, 2011

Peter Paul Kelly, my Pete. Gone at only 18.

First love, stealing glaces at Easter dinner, shy introductions, teenage gossip, whispers, dreams, next encounters, sharing, learning, first touches, exploring, new sexuality, passion, diamond earrings shared, dinners alone, presents, gifts, notes, handsome, strong, funny, caring, honest, stubborn, a July Cancer, poetic, beer, cigarettes, heavy metal, surfer, Irish, strong father, rehab, separate, self-destructive, yearning, running, secret meetings, embraces, kisses having to last for weeks, tender, eternal, tortured, soul pain, a fight, a break, sadness, split in two, the call, the news, the shock of death, dreams, memories, angel touches.

A once-in-a-life-time love; a one-in-a-million kind of man.

Twenty-two years later you are still held in our hearts.

We’ve had our five more minutes.

I know you and you know me.

Simply, I love you.

Lost Love: A Bond Forged Over Gourmet Food and Wine

Written by Virginia on February 7, 2011

A year and a half ago I lost one of my closest friends to a particularly aggressive gliosarcoma, a brain tumor.

From diagnosis to her passing was just over four months, and most of that time was defined by challenges: Once an actress with a beautiful voice, she was robbed of her ability to speak and write; she could understand language, but could not express herself.

She couldn’t feed herself, and walking was all but impossible.

When she passed–suddenly one June morning–a week after her 56th birthday, she had been making small strides of improvement (following two surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy).

As fortune would have it, I had seen her the evening before, and we’d had a good visit with much laughter.

Our relationship had centered around good food and wine. She loved to cook and loved to experiment–on me, her best “foodie” friend.

She’d ask me over for dinner, I’d bring a great bottle of wine, and we’d talk for hours about everything and nothing: She was a wonderful listener.

If I could do anything with her, I would take those five minutes and share with her the Greek-style lamb-and-mixed-veggie grill she made so beautifully paired with a wonderful Cotes-du-Rhone, one of her favorites.

Just as I’d done a hundred (or more) times before.

The Circles of our Lives

Written by Braiden on February 1, 2011

This is the first offering from my husband’s cousin, John Paul Carter, a retired mental-health counselor, part-time pastor, and long-time columnist for the Weatherford Democrat newspaper in Weatherford, Texas. He’ll be submitting his previously published columns from time to time; they offer a wealth of wisdom and are just perfect for the Five More Minutes With audience.

So herewith follows “Going Around in Circles.”

***

Like many counselors, it’s easier for me to listen to others’ problems than it is to talk about my own. Asking for help for myself is not something that I do easily or in a timely manner.

As a result, I was almost at the end of my rope last Monday, when my friend Byron called, offering lunch and a chance to unload some of my angst. His invitation was a godsend, and I jumped at the chance.

For well over an hour, Byron listened as I described my symptoms and talked about the impact of my son-in-law’s sudden death and other personal matters related to this stage of life’s journey. I also shared my concerns about the war in Iraq and other national crises.

His responses were empathetic and supportive. As I talked, it was like the air was gradually being let out of an over-inflated balloon. The load seemed to get a little lighter.

As I finally wound down, Byron shared a concept that he learned in a seminar with Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” He went to the board on his office wall and drew two circles–a smaller one inside a larger one.

He labeled the smaller inner sphere as the circle of our influence and the larger outer sphere as the circle of our concern.

The circle of influence, he said, encompasses those matters which we care about and have the power to effect and change. The larger circle of concern includes those things that matter to us but over which we have little or no control.

We are most effective, he pointed out, when we give ourselves to the things that we can influence. On the other hand, we drain ourselves of vital energy when we stray too far out of the circle of our influence into the circle of our concern.

Both circles, he explained, are continuously expanding and contracting at different stages of our lives, requiring us to regularly reassess what currently falls within each circle.

With what’s happened in my life lately, my friend gently reminded me, my circles have changed and I can no longer afford the luxury of spending my energy on things over which I have no power and influence.

I certainly have more than enough within my circle of influence to fully tax my energy and resources–without trying to control people and events over which I have little or no power.

Under stress, it’s easy for all of us to wander across the boundary of one circle into the other.

So when you feel yourself going around in circles, take a deep breath, reflect a moment, and remind yourself which circle you’re in.

  • Lost Love: Ode to Laura

    When I looked down, her eyes still closed, a large, lone tear streamed out from the corner of her eye toward her ear. She died a couple hours later. My youngest child, my daughter. I don’t just wish for five more minutes, I wish for a lifetime.

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