Editor’s Notes

May 25, 2010

Five More Minutes With Clouds

On Saturday, we headed out in the car to do a little shopping at a mall about 15 miles south of Seattle.

Five More Minutes With Clouds

On the way, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful cloud formations lining the sky and couldn’t help but pull out my trusty new Leica to snap a few shots.

Five More Minutes With Clouds

As the light kept changing, so, in subtle sequence, did the clouds.

Five More Minutes With Clouds

Even through the windshield, the shots are triumphant.

Five More Minutes With Clouds

Brings new meaning to the phrase, “My head is in the clouds.”

May 21, 2010

I’ve toyed with the idea of adding music to the FMMW Web site as inspiration when contributors are writing their stories.

But my savvy Web designer has cautioned me against it. He told me that if people are looking at this site at work, the music is a telltale sign to the boss and co-workers that they aren’t actually working!

And even if a button is added so that people can turn music on if they desire it, most people never go to the trouble.

But after I received a recent Five More Minutes With Google alert, I followed an interesting-sounding link and discovered a recording of a “Frank Sinatra – Five Minutes More 78 rpm 1946 factory sample” that is simply incredible, the PERFECT song to match this site.

The first 40 seconds or so aren’t nearly as compelling or to the point as the final two minutes, but the entire thing is a nostalgic romp through simpler times and softer days.

The words go something like this:

Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more,

Let me stay, let me stay, in your arms.

Here am I, begging for, only five minutes more,

Only five more minutes of your charms. . .

Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more.

Let me stay, let me stay, in your arms.

Awww, come on!

May 19, 2010

Carmel, California Beach Scene

I have a very old “smart” phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), or whatever you want to call it.

My Palm Treo has been kicking around since 2004. Spencer says the poor thing is getting so old (not to mention woefully outdated by more-modern smart-phone standards) that one day it will just give up the cause and begin spitting little metal chips at me and die a slow and gruesome death.

In the meantime, I know I “should” get a sleek new iPhone (since I am a long-time Macintosh computer user and lover). But I have a hard time making the keys work, and it is so frustrating when I hit the wrong link and the darn thing takes me to Web sites I don’t want. Perhaps worse (and most embarrassing), I can never figure out how to get back.

I’ve recently ordered a new iPad as a possible solution. . .a conduit between giving up the Palm but advancing my technology. But they are currently out of stock of each and every model. So even when I try my best to modernize and join the “real” world, my best attempts, at least so far, have been thwarted.

All of this is a long preamble to what I really wanted to say today. One of the features I like best on my trusty, old Palm Treo is that it allows me to schedule ongoing appointments or obligations. So I have set myself a recurring reminder every day at 8 a.m. that serves as my back-up wake-up call in case my regular alarm clock malfunctions.

The wake-up call on my Palm first buzzes at 7:55, then again at 8:00, and at 8:05.

By now you get the gist. . .I receive a gentle reminder that it’s time to wake up every five minutes until I rouse enough to turn off the alarm.

Often, as I lie in bed between the alarm bells, I am reminded that the entire concept for this Web site rests on this five-more-minutes concept.

I especially treasure those extra five minutes, not only because I feel like I’m getting away with something, but because this dreamy state of mind. . .somewhere between half awake and partially asleep. . .is the perfect time to create and go over what’s happening in the upcoming day and to visualize how I want my day to turn out.

It’s also a very special time for Spencer and me, when I turn over and he snuggles me for five or 10 minutes, then he turns over and I return the favor for him.

How do you spend the first five minutes when you first awake? How could you spend them better?

What if  you had just five more minutes of waking time left in your life? How would you spend them then?

May 16, 2010

Five More Minutes With Flowers

My editor’s notes were shorter than usual and fewer in number this past week, as deadlines in “other life” (as a Northwest food-and-wine columnist) took over the bulk of my working and late-night hours.

But I wanted to report that some exciting developments happened during that seven-day span.

°We got a fabulous partner (and prize!) for our Father’s Day contest, so I will be announcing that early next week. (Father’s Day is on June 20.)

°Our Web site is now recognized by the search engines! So that if you Google either of the phrases, “Five More Minutes” or “Five More Minutes With,” you can find us (and on page one, nonetheless!).

°I have been outreaching to like-minded writers and have discovered many more moving, heart-touching stories for everybody to read and share.

So thanks to all for watching, and waiting, and standing by as I find my way along this new path and journey of discovery.

Happy Sunday, and here’s hoping we all have a great week!

May 13, 2010

Kathy Renner Port Ludlow Photo

Sometimes a simple photo can capture so many emotions and moods (hence, the phrase, “One picture worth 1,000 words”). And here’s a beauty that my friend , Kathryn Renner, snapped over Mother’s Day weekend in Port Ludlow, Washington.

Kathy is the talented writer who submitted the Uncle Zozzie story when FMMW was first launched. It’s obvious that both her writing and photographic skills are at their height. Thanks for all you do, Kathy!

May 9, 2010

Market Flowers

Yesterday, as Spencer and I walked through the Pike Place Market enjoying all the beautiful blossoms that the farmers displayed as part of the second annual Flower Festival, I couldn’t help but think how much my mother, Julia Looper Rex, would have loved seeing them.

Mom grew orchids, fruit trees, peonies, and dahlias when I was a kid and truly had a huge green thumb. People used to laugh that she was the only person who could sweet talk a magnolia tree (which she’d imported from Georgia, the state where she grew up) to survive and flourish in the harsh winters of suburban Philadelphia.

At brunch, when I saw the mothers and daughters happily chatting, eating, and enjoying a glass of wine, my heart ached knowing that today is Mother’s Day and my mother is no longer here.

Market Flowers Two

So here’s a shot of my favorite flowers from yesterday, along with a huge thank you to you, dear Mom, for always being there and loving me.

May 4, 2010

In a previous post, I mentioned that one of the highlights of life since I started FMMW has been getting back in more regular touch with my only aunt, Aunt Jo. She’s written the story of her son (my cousin), Lee, and shared two beautiful photos of him.

She has also been one of my staunchest supporters, dropping me encouraging (unsolicited) notes from time to time, and helping me keep my chin up through all the work and big dreams.

Here is her latest missive, which I wanted to share with you.

“I had time to read many more of your stories today and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed them. I think you have found a niche that allows many of us to express our love and thoughts for those who are not physically with us today.

“I loved Spencer’s story about Bo-Bo. I remember that he was dear to your hearts. Pets give us such unconditional love.”

Thanks, Aunt Jo. You are a fine human being and lovely lady.

April 29, 2010

Since launching Five More Minutes With on March 26, I’ve been looking at the world in an entirely different way. It’s as if my eyes and ears–indeed all my senses–have been newly opened and awakened to the plethora of inspiring people, places, and visuals all around me.

During our recent trip to an international culinary conference in Portland as part of my “other” life (my food-and-wine-related activities in support of my cookbooks and articles), I was inspired by this poster at The Art Institute of Portland while enjoying a workshop on Northwest Bivalves.

Art Institute Poster

I offer it up here to you so you can be equally inspired. . .perhaps it will even prompt some exciting new postings and stories on FMMW.

April 27, 2010

The children in my junior-high-school classes were divided into 10 sections: S-T-U-D-Y and L-E-A-R-N.

“S” and “L” were the highest sections. . .reserved for the “smart” kids. . .those with the highest grades and test scores.

I was lucky enough to be an “L” (although “luck” may be a misleading word, since I loved school and was always a dedicated student and hard worker, although very shy and insecure).

In the “S” section was a young man named Brad Sachs who was infinitely smarter, more vocal, and confident than I could ever hope to be.

In high school I continued to watch Brad mature and prosper. He struck up a particularly strong relationship with the school’s resident psychology teacher, Doc Copeland (a fixture on campus and a friend to many of his students).

And so it was no surprise when, in 2001 (30 years later), a mutual high-school friend alerted me that DR. Brad Sachs–a clinical psychologist and founder and director of The Father Center–would appear on the “Today Show” to tout his latest book, “The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied.”

I tuned in that morning and guess what? The Brad of my high-school memory was all grown up! I was so proud to know the slim, good-looking, knowledgeable man who spoke with such ease during the interview. And I felt a particular kinship since we had both written several books.

I e-mailed him to congratulate him on his impressive television performance, and we chit-chatted electronically about the old ‘hood, our lives, and families.

In March 2010, right after the launch of FMMW, I got back into contact with Brad to update him on my “encore career” and find out his reaction to the new site.

Here’s what Dr. Brad Sachs was kind enough to say to me:

“It’s always nice to hear from you, but it was particularly nice to hear from you in the context of FiveMoreMinutesWith…

“I think this is a lovely and poignant idea, and I was very touched to read your description of how you and Spencer conceived of the project.

“From my personal and clinical perspective, our culture does not provide much support when it comes to learning to speak and listen to the language of grief, and endeavors such as this one remind us that mortality is our most common aspect of humanity, and that finding ways to come to terms with it, and to grow closer to each other as a result, is the best route towards a life of connection and meaning.”

So thanks, Dr. Brad, for this validation. I am glad we are back in each other’s lives.

April 24, 2010

Since officially launching this Web site on March 26, I’ve had many people reach out to tell me they think it’s really an interesting idea, but they just can’t see themselves submitting a story.

Fair enough. As I mentioned in a prior post, this will not be everybody’s cup of tea.

But for others, Five More Minutes With has proved a real tool to help them deal with, and ultimately overcome, their grief.

One of these people is Carole, my friend, fellow writer, and total food professional. Here’s what she said about her experience of writing not one, but two stories for FMMW.

“Truth-be-told, I’ve had these two stories rumbling around in my head for a few years—a fretting kind of thinking, troubled and unresolved. Your new project was just the impetus I needed to write them down.

“I completely understand the woman/friend and the relative/man you mentioned (in one of your posts) who don’t want to/can’t contribute. No doubt their memories are either painful or just too emotional. Writing them down isn’t always cathartic; it can really hurt. But in my case, writing the stories at this point in time is hugely therapeutic. You have no idea how huge.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s like a light bulb went on or a stuck door opened or a spring rain poured down, and now the sun is out after a storm and the world seems fresh and new.

“Seriously. I probably could not have written these stories a year ago. It is nothing short of providence that brought you to me at the precise moment that I was ready to, and had a reason to, finally write these stories down.

“In fact, I almost blew it off on Monday figuring I’d get to it sometime next week until you responded in ALL CAPS that you WOULD LOVE THAT (if I sent them in).

“So I stopped what I was doing and wrote them down and I cried the whole time (happy tears, tears of understanding, tears of ‘ah-ha’ I-get-this-now, and I can put these thoughts away and stop fretting).

“Today it feels as if a heavy, heavy weight has been lifted.

“So if anyone needs to be thanked, it is me who needs to THANK YOU for allowing me the opportunity to get it all out.

“So thanks! And keep up the good work.”

April 19, 2010

I have been very remiss in posting Editor’s Notes the past few days. . .demands from my “other life”–my food-and-wine-writing career–have kept me busy (deadlines!), plus Spencer and I have been remodeling our condominium unit, so lots of work and a few worries related to that.

Seattle Rainbow

Anyway, on Saturday evening as we headed across Lake Washington for a bit of r&r, to enjoy dinner with dear friends at the fabulous new French bistro, Artisanal, we felt so blessed to witness a rare Northwest rainbow from our car window.

I swear, you could see faint images of a second (double) rainbow as well as both ends of the magical apparition. Strange that one side seemed to hover right over Microsoft magnate Bill Gates’s waterfront compound even though he has (obviously) already found the pot of gold. :-)

I wish us all many rainbows in our lives. . .and hope rainbows are a common site for our departed loved ones. . .and also for those somehow lost to us.

April 13, 2010

One of the great joys of starting Five More Minutes With is that it prompted me (well, actually propelled me) to go through scads of treasured family photographs looking for the very best ones with which to launch the site.

By now, if you’ve even just scratched the surface of FMMW, you’ve seen photos of our dearly departed feline companion, Bo-Bo. And my very first childhood cat, Diamond. Along with several of my mother, and of Spencer’s and my grandparents.

But soon, in addition to the family photos, I realized I also needed some more general images. . .ethereal images of sun, moon, and water. And so early one morning around 5:30 a.m., as I walked into the main room of our studio, I encountered what seemed like a magical scene of a harvest moon (or perhaps a harvest sun, as the sun was soon to rise) overhanging Elliott Bay as a ferry boat slipped into its dock.

Five More Minutes With Sunrise

I wanted to share it with you today for a bit of visual stimulation and inspiration. Enjoy!

April 12, 2010

Starting today, and in five installments to come, we’ll share Klaus Citterman’s story. The story begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer based in Seattle.

Teri, who chronicled the last seven years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With. Thanks a million, dear Teri!

April 8, 2010

Yesterday, I e-mailed an editor at The Seattle Times whose writing I adore and whom I respect and admire (but with whom I don’t correspond nearly enough) about some work-related matters. And almost as an afterthought, I mentioned Five More Minutes With and suggested she take a look at the site.

I got goosebumps when she wrote back within moments to say that she should write something, since it was her father’s birthday, and he had died 18 years ago.

I responded, “Oh, my. I am so sorry, but isn’t it almost eerie I would contact you about this today of all days?

“I keep running into ‘coincidences’ such as this the deeper I get into this project. . .quite fascinating and heartening as we begin this journey!”

Her response: “Please don’t be sorrry. It’s just fitting is all.

“There are no coincidences. Just energy and purpose! And witch power (not bad witches, woman power really).”

Have you had any unusual “coincidences” in your life lately? Do you believe in woman power?

April 6, 2010

Before someone asks, I might as well get this over with. My astrological sign is Libra, and I am Libran through and through.

I love beautiful people, objects, and surroundings. I crave the best food and wine, travel experiences, books, and movies.

Life to me is a celebration. I want every experience to be the very best that it can be.

I love to talk and observe. And I love the written word and to express myself with it.

So I had to chuckle when I ran upon an astrological-based Web site and read the following description about those born under the sign of Libra:

“Libra rules beauty, art, charm, and the ‘social graces.’ Libra is partnership. We don’t just have people bumping into each other and exchanging information like two ships in the night. There is a sense of commitment here. . .Libra tends toward beautiful communication.”

So that is my commitment to the writers who contribute their stories, and the people who read and partake of Five More Minutes With. . .to bring you beautiful stories of your departed loved ones. . .thereby creating a form of “beautiful communication” with them.

April 4, 2010

One of the most joyous things that has occurred since I came up with the idea for Five More Minutes With in late January, then actually launched the site on March 26, is that my aunt and I have reconnected after years of simply sending Christmas cards and occasional e-mails.

Aunt Jo is a southern lady through and through. In her eighties, she has had a tough life, losing two sons while still in their teens, her husband at an early age, then another son in his fifties.

Her story about the accidental drowning of her son and my cousin, Lee, was one of the first stories I received and posted.

Still, she’s maintained her faith and volunteered in grief counseling. Here’s a short poem she shared with me earlier in the week. I found it so inspiring, I wanted to share it with you on Easter Sunday.

“And with the morn,

Those angel faces smile.

Which we have loved long since

And lost a while.”

April 3, 2010

I am a calm, gentle, level-headed person and I must admit that I am deeply affected by all the ugly things that happen around the world, and in our own country, each and every day. And I think that despair, in a strange (or perhaps not so strange) way was part of the reason I launched Five More Minutes With.

By returning to the past, reliving memories of dearly departed loved ones and happy times we’ve shared with them, we block out (at least for a little while) some of the darkness in real life.

Validation for this theory came from a dear friend and mentor of mine, a talented writer and editor, a visionary and life coach, who lives in that forward-thinking, trend-setting state to the south, California.

When she first looked at FMMW, she said, “What a beautiful idea, and place to encourage individuals to write their thoughts about their departing/departed love one.

“I like the look of the site, too. Welcoming and, with the list of possible persons/cats/etc. to receive the words of love, it’s also inspiring.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

I couldn’t agree more.

April 2, 2010

Happy  Friday, and what a week it’s been! Last Friday we launched Five More Minutes With, I worked most of the weekend, then on Monday, we hired a Seattle-based public relations firm to write and distribute the press release announcing the official launch of Five More Minutes With.

On Wednesday, at 12:39 p.m. PST/3:39 EST, a beautifully written release went out over Business Wire to hundreds of media outlets across the country and around the world. Forbes.com, CNBC.com, and many other well-known businesses picked it up and printed it,  so our “baby” has officially trotted out into the world.

Oprah hasn’t called (yet), but the hosts of a local radio show called Chat With Women did. I’ll be on air, live in their Bellevue, Washington, studio, on May 11, at 8:30 a.m. for a 20-minute segment.

I’ve gotten a lot more familiar with the WordPress blogging platform. It is really amazing all the things you can do with it, and the way our Web site designer/guru has integrated all the moving parts of what he calls this “super-specialized blog.”