Grandmother Looper

Written by Braiden on November 15, 2012

Grandmother Looper Photo

That’s me at three years old, looking unimpressed by and a bit dubious about the arrival of my baby brother, Brad. Grandmother Looper gazes at the newborn adoringly, while my mother beams proudly after the arrival of her newborn son.

Inez Ellard Looper, my mother’s mother and my maternal grandmother, was a real Southern belle, described as a wonderful woman or a real ball buster, depending on which family member you get to reminiscing about her.

Afraid I didn’t know her well enough to form my own opinion. But I do know she and I shared something in common. . .our love for the kitchen.

As a little girl, I loved watching her in the kitchen when we’d visit her home in Georgia, after the long train ride all the way from Philadelphia.

Biscuits were her forte, ooh-ed and aah-ed over by friends and family alike. My poor mother never did pick up the knack, a fact long-lamented by my biscuit-lovin’ father.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see her arthritic right hand, the one with the same crooked index finger as I have, as it moved in and out over the biscuit dough, kneading gently and knowingly until it was just the right mix of butter, flour, and whole milk.

Her biscuits were light as the proverbial feather. She claimed that Clabber Girl Baking Powder was her secret, as she preferred that brand to Calumet. I think her real secret weapon was making her biscuits with lots of love.

I also remember my grandmother’s cornbread, the thick batter poured into well-seasoned and  -greased cast-iron pans. The molds in the pans were in the shape of corn cobs, so the cornbread sticks were especially fun to eat (with lots of butter, of course!).

My grandmother was also well known for her Japanese Seven-Layer Cake, her rendition of the popular Lady Baltimore Cake. Grandmother’s version featured spicy layer cake with raisins, boiled sugar icing, pineapple, and copious amounts of coconut. I wish I had a slice right now.

So what would I tell my grandmother if I had five more minutes with her? I’d tell her I wish I had known her better and that she’d lived longer so that we could have been friends. I’d tell her about how watching her as a child may have inspired my cookbook and food-writing career.

What would I ask my grandmother if I had five more minutes?

I’d ask her for her recipe box so I could continue her legacy of love in the kitchen.

Grandmother Looper Photo

Mom, Grandmother, and me–gotta love the pillbox hats and the mink stoles, as un-P.C. as they are today

Grandmother Looper Photo

My grandparents, brother Brad, and me in front of our house in suburban Philadelphia circa 1962

Braiden Rex-Johnson Second Birthday

Toddler Braiden swiping some icing off the big birthday cake at Grandmother’s home in Dalton, Georgia. I don’t know what happened to the sideboard, mirror, or framed botanical prints, but one of the pink vases still graces my office. . .a fond reminder of Grandmother and childhood visits to Georgia.

Enter the Clouds

Written by Braiden on January 21, 2011

Chrissy Barrera’s Clouds

One of the joys of editing Five More Minutes With is meeting like-minded people with similar interests.

More of Chrissy’s clouds!

That’s how I “met” (at least via e-mail) Chrissy Barrera, who works with my talented Web designer, Chris Prouty at Studio99Creative.

Chrissy’s final gorgeous cloud study

Chrissy realized we both love to take cloud photos, so she shared a trio of hers with me. I’ve inserted them here for your viewing enjoyment.

And I’ll keep uploading more of my own shots (nabbed some gorgeous ones during our trip to northern California during the holidays) soon.

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Sunrise, Sunset Continued

Written by Braiden on July 22, 2010

My previous Editor’s Note showed sunrise shots taken from my airplane window en route from Seattle to London during our recent summer vacation to Scandinavia and Russia.

Sunset from the Eurodam

So today I offer up the obverse of sunrises. . .several sunset shots taken during a sunset dinner at Tamarind restaurant aboard our cruise ship, the m.s. Eurodam.

Sunset from the Eurodam

I love the way the sun sneaks behind the clouds on the horizon and turns a warm pink.

Sunset from the Eurodam

Then falls completely away as the sky bleeds to purple.

Have you enjoyed a sunset lately?

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Sunrise, Sunset

Written by Braiden on July 20, 2010

During our summer vacation, I most enjoyed taking shots of the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets that presented themselves along the way.

Delighted to share some of those special sunrise views with you today (taken from the airplane window!) and in coming posts.

Sunrise from the plane going from Seattle to London

Fluffy, cotton ball-like clouds shot from the airplane window going from Seattle to London

Hammerhead clouds taken from the airplane window en route from Seattle to London

Have you taken a moment to look up into the sky today for inspiration and sustenance?

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Old “Smart” Phone

Written by Braiden 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?

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1,000 Words

Written by Braiden on 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!

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