What happens when a man veers off the road travelled by his fellow humans and walks alone into the wilderness? When, like Henry David Thoreau, he decides to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life?" This is the story of such a man. Born in 1908 the son of a Georgian sharecropper, Eddie Owens Martin eventually became St. EOM, the visionary artist who transformed his backcountry farmhouse into a trippy acid-colored temple he named "Pasaquan" and who died, alone, in 1986, never receiving affirmation or recognition for his flamboyant artistic genius.Read More
Last week I shared my friend Margaret Maggard's bright and happy bungalow filled with family history and vintage treasures. This week, I'm diving deep into Margaret's experience as an entrepreneur. It's been a few years since Margaret retired from her jewelry design business, but her transition from a stressed-out mom stringing beads for relaxation to a successful entrepreneur with a long list of customers including First Lady Michelle Obama is fascinating. Those of us who love watching "Shark Tank" or listening to "How I Built This" will find Margaret's story compelling and full of lessons.Read More
"Here I am, dahlings! I'll be right there!"
That's Joanne, calling out to us as she strides across the hangar, her scarf aflutter and her gorgeous bosom pointing towards the airplane like twin headlights on a classic Buick.
She sees the photographer. "Hello Renn!" she says. "I see you still aren't eating, you tiny thing. What's your monthly grocery bill -- $1.49?"Read More
This is the story that Glenda told me: it was a long ago day that Glenda sat cross-legged on the floor of a library in southern California, flipping through a magazine and dreaming girlish dreams. A photo of Jackie Kennedy flashed past and caught Glenda's eye. Jackie was sitting astride a horse, back straight as an arrow and ankles properly flexed, wearing a chic black riding habit that made her look athletic, patrician, and beautiful all at once.
In that moment, Glenda decided that adults shouldn’t get all the good clothes.Read More
On a trip to England this fall, my husband and I rented a small car and very slowly drove on the left through hedgerows slightly wider than my kitchen island to a place in the Cotswolds so quintessentially English, so utterly charming, that our first night, I dreamt I was a flower girl in Kate Middleton's wedding. Not the famously grumpy flower girl. The other one.Read More
I don't usually repeat myself on The Bubble Joy but the last post about Ellen struck a deep chord. In the nearly four years that I've been blogging consistently, this essay was by far the most read and most widely-shared. By my metrics, Ellen went viral.
I thought in light of that success, I'd share some behind-the-scenes moments. These are snaps caught with my iPhone.Read More
Which do you think is scarier: speaking to an auditorium full of high school students or running into a bear in the woods? My friend Ellen has done both.
She was in Virginia last week, backpacking the Appalachian Trail with her two hiking mates, Sandi and Rachel, when they came across a bear. The women clicked their trekking poles together and spoke to the bear in normal voices. It turned and walked away.
Later that day, a bobcat passed in front of Ellen on the trail.Read More
I traveled to Iowa recently to attend my niece's graduation. Over brunch, everyone was discussing a story in the news about some idiot kids who burned down one of those landmark Iowa covered bridges. They got caught when they posted photos of themselves standing at the bridge with a container of kerosene. Just despicable. We all tsk-tsked about the fall of civilization and how somewhere, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep were crying.Read More
My friend Patrick has created the most cozy and welcoming guest room (womb) that no one in their right mind would ever want to leave. I met Patrick because our husbands work together. He and Ed live about a mile away from us, so after you've toured this room, you'll understand my problem -- how to finagle a situation where I would be forced to stay in this incredible space. Snowstorm? Tequila shots? Dead car battery? Poltergeist? Help me out here.Read More
Recently, I attended Alt Summit, a conference for creative entrepreneurs. Alt Summit used to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, a logical setting for a conference organized by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. I've attended twice in that location. But this year, founder Gabrielle Blair moved the whole shebang to Palm Springs, California, and the new setting made a big difference for some interesting reasons.Read More
Against a wintry backdrop, a man peruses a magazine while a woman shovels snow behind him. The couple are Don and Dottie Hagan, of Des Moines, Iowa, and something about their photo reminds me of Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic. Do you see it too? The Iowa setting, Don's deadpan expression, that shovel, the house in the background.
Unlike American Gothic's subjects, who were father and daughter, Don and Dottie are husband and wife. You won't be surprised to learn that they have been married for fifty-six years.
When I saw this photo, my first question was who took it?Read More
I don't know where to begin with this post because it is about loss and suffering - tough subjects to write about at Christmas time. But the truth is, this season is difficult for many people. Sadness does not take a holiday.
And Genna, the lovely young woman in the vintage dress, knows this too well.Read More
This house-shaped photograph tells all my dirty secrets: I have an unnatural fixation on objects; I might be mildly OCD; and Jane Austen is my spirit animal.
And you thought this was just another Pinterest-worthy photo taken from a birds-eye view?
Actually, this type of birds-eye photograph is technically called "flat lay" and thanks to Instagram, it has swept the visual world. Objects loosely arrayed in a pleasing composition on a neutral background and photographed in natural light that allow the viewer a new view of everyday things. Open any magazine and you'll see flat lay photography everywhere. (#flatlaystyle #flatlayoftheday)Read More
Today’s post begins with Temple Grandin, the world’s most famous spokesperson for autism and ends with me trying to sell a cow. If you are new here, this is the pattern. I pick something in the shop and use it as a creative writing prompt. Often, the writing is humorous. But no promises on that score today because Temple Grandin is serious about her purpose. Like many autistics, she’s a black and white kind of gal.
For those who don’t know, Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She first made a name for herself as an inventor who designed more humane animal chutes that minimize livestock mistreatment and injury. She holds a phD in animal science, along with many honorary degrees, was named to the Time Magazine 100 list of most influential people, and has authored more than a dozen books, including The Loving Push, published this year. She gave a TED Talk which you can watch here. Or watch the HBO biopic with Clare Danes playing Temple Grandin.Read More
I grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, and on the prettiest street a block from my grade school, there is a quaint brick driveway leading up to the traditional colonial owned by Jane and John Freeland. I've known them nearly all my life, but hadn't seen them since my father's retirement party. Recently, they agreed to let me photograph their beautiful, art-filled home.
The house was built in 1929, but don’t be fooled by the demure exterior. Inside, a bold color scheme of black, white, and green provides a graphic backdrop for exotic curiosities and modern furniture collected over half a century by two people who just can’t stay put.Read More
That's me in the hammock, inhaling a book that I'm hoping you will read too so we can all talk about it. It's titled From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life by Melissa T. Shultz.
Before we get to the book, did you notice who else is in the hammock with me? Nary a soul. There is yet another mother bird in the garage with two babies in the nest she built atop the garage door engine, but as far as my human babies, they've flown elsewhere for the summer.Read More
My mother. That's her in a Kurdish costume on a trip to Iran sometime in the 1970s. She is spunky. Fun. Curious. Outspoken. One-of-a-kind. In May, I read a short essay about her at the annual Listen to Your Mother show in Milwaukee.Read More
This photo appeared in Glamour Magazine on April 1, 1952. The eleven models clothed in varying shades of green strike poses of unstudied relaxation. Each woman is a separate entity but together, they create an impression of arrested action, like they are caught in a New York moment. In some ways, the set resembles a pre-war grande dame Upper East Side apartment stoop, complete with pigeons.
Before kids, I worked in fashion and we only ever shot one or two models at a time. It was never easy. So this photo floored me. Eleven models! Imagine trying to take test shots. And what about the complexity of the lighting? Every face is beautifully lit. And the details in the set amaze me. Look at the moss affixed to the door molding!Read More
Last weekend, we drove to Iowa to celebrate my nephew Graham's high school graduation. I want to share some photos of Graham's artwork. He is a talented ceramicist with an affinity for science. Or is he a talented scientist with an affinity for art? It doesn't matter. His future is bright and time will tell which direction he takes.
But it is worth delving into his earlier days. This boy, born with mad dexterity, struggled in grade school to sit still at his desk. He couldn't always control his impulses. He was the type of student who could have fallen through the cracks in a standardized system that sometimes fails kids who don't fit the mold. But he didn't.Read More