blog posts

Five Minutes of Fame

AIGA DC kindly invited me to present at their PechaKuchaWhen Lightning Strikes, and I did. What a joy to stand up and talk about something other than food or food styling. A PechaKucha is a twenty slide presentation done in five minutes. 20 slides = 20 seconds/slide. Practicing I tried, with little success. Generally, by the time I reached my point, the slide was long gone. Those who know me, know HOW MUCH I talk. So, as geeky as I knew it would look, I held notes and made a stab at reading as the slides whizzed by. What a laugh. Look at the slide, look at my notes, look at the audience, spout nonsense and repeat. Twenty times. What a joy. It was FUN.

All the presentations were wild and inspiring and varied. Can we do it again??

Here are my geeky notes, with most of the images. My social networking guru suggested I  run about five slides, that that would be plenty. Did I listen? Nope. Scroll down fast and read fast. If you have the interest, it will only take five minutes. Or less if you rush. Recommended.


When I need a shot in the arm I think of what Arthur Ashe said about the beauty and bounty of our limitations. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Remembering that reminds me that tending my own garden is more than enough, that what I have is incredibly abundant, and that my contribution is ample and then some.

2 MADISON, WI That’s where I’m from and where I go to daydream when I need a good escape fantasy. That’s where I am my best self and my instincts are most pure and free. Midwestern, between two lakes, an anything goes kinda town.


I admit it, I’m domestic. Love the touch of fabric and yarn. The thrill of beginning. The beauty and precision of construction. The repetition of stitches. Making stuff. I just love making stuff. Dumb small stuff. Out of anything. But especially out of beautifully designed fabrics.


By way of saying, scissors are my favorite tool. Let’s take something we have and make it into something new. It makes me happy to see someone dress expressively. To share happiness is the noblest thing to which we aspire.


Knowing them, cooking with them, being around them. They’re hard workers and inspire ME to get to work. To dig deep and to work even harder. Knowing the cook puts the meal in context and makes the food taste good to me. Working with cooks – who know what they’re doing – gets me into a transformative groove.


It’s not what you’ve got when it comes to looks, it’s what you do with it. I’m into the Diana Vreeland version of beauty – imperfect beauty being the most interesting and beautiful of all. I applaud and admire anyone who can get up and get it together over and over and over. Imaginatively.


I almost always feel short on time and I know I’m not alone in this. Time is THE most precious commodity. When we get a snow day, playing beat the clock stops, my mind opens up as time becomes liquid and a sense of vastness in the world is renewed. I feel small with lots of space around me to fill with ideas and that is good.


Doug Michels, one of the 3 original members of the Ant Farm Collective, died in 2003. He was my friend and the most brilliant and bold human being I have known or expect to know. Media Burn and Cadillac Ranch are two of Doug’s more notorious collaborations. Ideas drove him and he was a lightning rod for visionary people.


Things that do a job perfectly and look gorgeous while doing it. Whew. Good design inspires me to work better and harder. To strip away anything unnecessary. You gotta be brave to be plain. And to be simply utilitarian.


I feel blue when a sense of possibility escapes me. Canned Hams in need of TLC excite me. The Highlander Motel is a building and business that I would love to get my hands on. It has the potential to be a fabulous destination and I’d like to be the one to transform it. Transforming anything from what it IS to what it COULD BE gets me going.

11 TWOFER My son TEDDY and one of my favorite Brancusi sculptures

A gorgeous head. Asleep! That slows my breathing, speeds my heart and make me think deep thoughts.

Robertson Davies talked about reading deep rather than wide and that made an impression on me. Raising a child keeps me in one place, and reading deep rather than going top speed in a million directions.


Talk about vastness. And minimalism. Marfa’s got both. I own some land there, a little more fuel for my escape fantasy. Marfa gives me an intense “sense of place”. Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation and desolate high desert create awe-inspiring contrasts.

13 ANDY GOLDSWORTHYIs my all-time favorite artist. He uses what is on hand in nature and ordinary stuff is transformed by his sense of order. And then a lot of what he does is gone. Like cooking. Like everything ultimately, actually, if you wait long enough.


My favorite band. Need I say more? Midwestern, hard-working, hard-rocking, kinda twangy. They wrote my favorite song, Sometimes Found, which expresses the way I think we all fit in the world, or don’t. When I hear music in the distance, I have an irresistible urge to run towards it.


I blog. About sandwiches. Sandwiches are simply the conduit for everything in the world. All you need is scraps and imagination. The blog is a vessel for my brain ephemera. A place to put together connections and ideas, words, pictures, people. Sandwiches are a repurposing, upcycling, refashioning food. When I write I’m building a big bad stacked sandwich collage.


They’re everywhere and so pleasing. And funny. Someone spends time designing paper towels. That cracks me up and also warms my heart. Patterns are simultaneously comforting and invigorating for me.


Connections, collaborations, repetition and patterns are my emotional skeleton. Here is a sculpture by Ai Wei Wei and a cinnamon construction built to illustrate a story about the healing properties of foods Ordinary objects seen in new ways make me realize that anything can be – and maybe should be – seen in new ways.


Radio. Where would I be without my radio? Isolated and very lonely. Radio surrounds me and brings me into a vast community.

Stories, context, connections – those are my things in all things. People, food, art, architecture, music… How did you/it/we get here??


Small, modern prefabs fill me with lust, which is in itself inspiring. These two are so efficient and so beautiful. Also, anything reduced to the essential blows me away. In Einstein’s words, “As simple as possible but no simpler.”


Here’s my dad and my son – I live between them, my history and my future. And I think we almost always live in between. In between what life was/is and what life could be. While we’re here we have to keep our eyes open. A vision here from my history –oddly hung, anachronistic telephones, and a peek into my future – my son’s fantasy doodles.