MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

June 27, 2008 :: Art and Destruction

There is an ongoing debate in my neighborhood about graffiti. Some love it. Some hate it. Some think cans of spray paint directly equate to muggings, shootings and break-ins. Some decry any use of goo-gone a soul-slaying act of artistic tyranny. I have a stance, and it lies firmly on the side of the urban artists, but I acknowledge that the whole thing is a very touchy subject. There's a line we walk, inner city, between "good enough" to live there, and "too good" to still be authentic. A blurry crack that shifts and gets shoved side to side as new community members move in and out and bring their views, prejudices, liberties and fears with them. And that forms the basis for what I believe about my particular corner of the world (something that's exemplified in the video above, however metaphorically.)

Real neighborhoods are built in layers. Like the 120-year old bricks buried 3-feet down in my yard, and the ancient kids' toys, 80's crackle-glass, and modern-day topsoil that piles up above. Like whatever's under my little cabin's asbestos siding and lurking beneath the 70s paneling in the living room. We all paint it with ourselves, whatever it is, and then someone else comes and paints it over. And over. And over - until you can only see the bubbly, nubbly seams barely raising the surface. It's ours that way - and theirs, and theirs before them. And I wouldn't have it any other way.



June 21, 2008 :: Happy Saturday Flickr Meme

The Rules:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

My Answers:

1. What is your first name? Kendra

2. What is your favorite food? Avocado

3 What high school did you go to? East Central

4. What is your favorite color? Red

5. Who is your celebrity crush? Hugh Laurie

6. Favorite drink? Strongbow Hard Cider

7. Dream vacation? Marrakesh

8.Favorite dessert? Ice Cream

9.What you want to be when you grow up? Vintage Furniture Buyer/Store Owner

10.What do you love most in life? Blake Rainey

11.One Word to describe you. Practical

12.Your flickr name. lettereleven



June 20, 2008 :: And a good Friday to you, madame.

This morning, Atlanta was cool and quiet, Peachtree and the trains empty of both tourists and commuters. Apparently vacation-Fridays pull everyone away from here. I wish I was at the beach, but instead I pretended my cool-aired walk past the midtown skyline was a vacation in London or San Francisco. The city smelled different, and I could envision a day spent browsing museums, eating new foods and picking over bargain bins at foreign Salvation Armies. (the things I do on vacation most often.)

I'm kind of drained, actually. That's what i wanted to come here and say today. How ironic is it that I'm getting more exercise, eating 200% better, and somehow, I feel as if I've been hit by a truck? That is somehow very unfair. And discouraging. It's been a week of light, farmers-market bought lunches and wonderful gardeny dinners, little alcohol, and only enough caffeine to keep me functioning before noon, but my bones feel tired, and it has taken me until today to feel in any way excited or creative. Whine whine whine...yeah. I feel like a douchebag. But I still feel icky. I need this Friday to perk me up. And Saturday to keep me flying. Here's hoping.



June 19, 2008 :: I 'yam what I 'yam (and that's all that I 'yam)

I bring you proof that that garden thing from earlier this year has worked out famously. The spinach up there is the very first real harvest from the raised beds Blake and I built behind our yellow house. Despite a squirrel infestation, drought, bugs, and my general lazy ineptitude when it comes to such things, I seem to have not only not killed the seeds I planted, but they've actually thrived for the most part. Tiny fuzzy soybean pods, fat green tomatoes, and a bumper crop of long green beans are up for picking next.

Connectedly, I've had a brilliant idea. I love the crazy, wild way vegetables and fruits in raised beds end up looking. I hate the way my weedy, patchy, ill-tended front yard looks. So, I've come up with a solution, spurned on partially by this awesome article.

Edible Landscaping.

This fall, I'll build out the front yard in raised boxes, fill them with dirt and pretty cover-crop (clover probably), and let them marinate in their own fertile juices for the winter. In the spring, we'll grab the seeds and plant my little front yard as a wild tomato jungle. a crazy asparagus forest, a rampant herb patch.

I can't WAIT. And as for the 'yams that I 'yam....we've got so many of those they're threatening to choke out the fennel and the onions. It's a very high class problem.



6/13/08 :: Now, with Features!

No photos, but features. It's been a long week.

Scroll down a bit and glance to the right half of your screen, and you will find a little box marked "tweet tweet". That list of general inanity is my new Twitter feed - a neato little service that gives you 100-something characters to type or text the answer to the question "what are you doing?" I'm not 100% sure how much I'll use it, but so far it's been a really nice diversion as I'm walking, waiting in elevators, raising my blood pressure in traffic, etc. I bet it sticks. And for someone whose main requirement of her cell phone is that it calls people and receives calls in return, but who also MUST multitask everything and psychotically needs every piece of electrical equipment to be all it can possibly be at all times (dude, if this new laptop would make me dinner and pick up its underwear, it'd give Mr. Rainey a run for his money), it's a nice little efficient geegaw.

It's also more fun if other people I know are twittering too - so....go there and sign up-and then follow me, and I'll follow you as well. You'd make my day.



BONUS. Because this borrowed Mac laptop has got me all motivated.

For me, because I am the geekiest person alive, using a different computer than my normal one is like going to your best friend's house in elementary school and having peanut butter and jelly WITH THE CRUSTS CUT OFF because even though its very similar to the peanut butter sandwiches your own mother makes, it's different and therefore SO MUCH BETTER.

Anyway, I give you this - the best advice I've ever read on relationships:

"From Maggie Mason: When I was single, I decided I wouldn't marry a man unless I could be proud if we had a son who turned out exactly like him." (via Dooce)

If I were still single, this would totally have helped me delete a number of really bad-idea phone numbers from my Razr, and run screaming from a number of situations. As a spoken-for person, it just makes me feel really good about my decisions.


June 10, 2008 :: Crash! Bang! @#$%!!!

Yesterday evening, as I closed up shop and got ready to walk 45 minutes in 97-degree hellishness, my PC laptop (the aforementioned 100-pound Dell monolith), was behaving strangely. It was hard-locked, two ticks away from the blue-screen-of-death. So, I shut 'er down and left it at work to have a nice nap. When I arrived this morning, it wouldn't start. I think it was tired. And probably full to popping. So, it took a siesta on me. Likely a permanent one.

This is probably going to sound weird, but I have this innate, gut-feeling 'connection' to electronics, especially computers, especially when I use a particular one day-to-day. Me and the box are linked somehow. I KNOW there are people for whom electronics sputter and fry and blink out in their mere presence, inexplicably. Blake is one of them, and two dead-as-doornail cell phones, two busted laptops, and the death of my stereo subwoofer are in evidence. So, given the opposite-and-equal theory, there must be people who lie on the other end of the spectrum. I'm there.

This diagnostic, connective talent of mine got me a job as NT systems administrator once. I really don't have any formal computer training, but, to put it plainly, computers just seem to like me. They do what I ask, often even if I don't know how to ask correctly. As such, I can also feel them getting sick.

I had a feeling the PC was sick. I had been entertaining getting a backup drive for the last couple weeks, but ran out of cash. And now, I'm out of time. Fortunately, my files were, miraculously saved, and are resting comfortably on a server here at the studio. Since I'm not at its keyboard, I can't vouch for its heartiness, but I trust the tech service here to keep it in the pink.

The empty hull of my beefy laptop probably won't be so lucky, and I may (gasp....and squee!) end up with a new-and-improved model. I'll let you know how it turns out.



June 9, 2008 :: Comfortable Food

The other day it occurred to me that my physical activity level and my level of domestic contentment may be at odds.

Years ago, in the middlin' times of a loooong relationship that eventually ended, left alone to my own devices, I maintained a very high level of physical activity. (Specifically, I was alone brooding in an ancient, cavernous apartment in a city I only sort of knew while my boyfriend enforced a hiatus on our relationship, from afar, so I could "grow.")* I worked a terrible cube-farm job in a terrible Atlanta suburb, and came home to 1400 square feet of crumbling victorian architecture with no furniture and little real human companionship. So, on my way back to that heaven, every day I'd stop at the local chain-gym and work my ass off. And after a couple months, that's literally what I did. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and that little lip where my butt met my leg was gone. No more ass-lip. I laughed until I cried. Which, come to think of it, I did a lot those days.

Thing is, once Mr. estranged returned to the city, things settled down. I started going to grad school, and the fiendish daily workouts stopped. Part of it was time (I had other things to do, other people to see), part was laziness, and part of it was that I didn't need to fill the void with manic physical activity anymore. I felt domestic again. I cooked, cleaned, and took care of things. And when I'm feeling that way - despite from my card-carrying feminism and relentless rule of the country of Kendra (that's the most interesting way I could think to say "I'm monstrously independent") - that's when I'm the most content.

So, I'm WAY content right now. And I'm also way not into working out. There's the at-odds thing. I cook - and I cook healthier stuff than I would ever eat at a restaurant. I scrub the decks quite regularly--hundreds of calories burnt there, as I live with the messiest human and dogs I've ever met. I run about town with friends and Mr. Rainey all the damn time. But I can't quite maintain the militant, ass-kicking, sweaty-faced, breathless physical activity I could when I was wildly unhappy. And though I don't want to be wildly unhappy, I'd like to be toned and domestic and content - all at once.

I've been working on that medium ground.

It's all about comfort and efficiency for me. I think that probably describes a lot of my personality actually. Here's what I'm doing to meet myself in the middle:
  • i make comfortable, easy, no-more-than-5 ingredient foods. always. the salad above (avocado, spinach, feta, nuts, mandarin oranges and homeade vinaigrette)...I eat that thing like 6 times a week. Never gets old. Well, not yet. Thing is, if you're only using a few ingredients, they have to be darn good ones, and my budget doesn't support lots of darn good steak or darn good cheese. So, we buy primarily vegetables, whole grains, fruit, good olive oil, and nice wine and belgian beer--and then put them all together in endless, simple, tasty (and inherently healthy) combinations. We probably eat too much of them proportion-wise, but one battle at a time.
  • i make activity part of something that needs to be done. I can't fathom going to a gym. For one, I can't afford it. For two, I've always hated the posturing, the fashion show and the meat-marketness. Running on a loop of rubber is pointless. Walking to the train, arm-in-arm with my favorite guy, meeting on the last car at 5:24 like clandestine lovers, then walking home through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the that's efficient. And utterly lovely.
  • i count the reasons i should do something. if i can come up with more than 3 really good ones (to do or not do something) i tell myself i can't refuse it. It works like this: I get it in my head that I need to start packing my lunch. Cons: I don't get to eat amazing, awesome-tasting rich foods from a variety of places within walking distance of the office. (that's 1 con) Pros: I save money. I save calories. I control where my food comes from. I don't get so full I'm uninterested in whatever Mr. Rainey's likely to be grilling that evening. (4 pros. The pros have it!) Usually the reasons are "money" "environment" and "I'm-getting-pudgy-i'd-better-cut-this-crap-out." I find I can apply them to most anything I marginally want to do.
The prophet Jagger once said something about not always getting what you want, right? Yeah. I think I win.

*Because people who read this know him, and because I'm not angry about it anymore, I won't go into what I now understand as the subtext beneath all that, though I do still find it interesting.



June 3, 2008 :: Panorama Workday

See the flickr version for notes.



June 2, 2008 :: Reading at the dinner table is So allowed.

Things I've learned (from Blake).
  • All meat tastes better marinated in beer.
  • So many more people carry loaded weapons in their cars than you'd think.
  • Patience is a virtue. But not when it comes to traffic. That's war. And there is no virtue in war.
  • One does not eat grits with sugar. One does put coffee in gravy, and garlic in everything else.
  • The best writing happens at 4AM, on a porch, with a sleepy dog at your feet.
  • A good southern boy refers to his mother as "momma" and his father as "diddy"
  • Being told "Yes ma'am" turns me on like no one's business. (I mean, not if the paperboy says it. But coming out of Blake's mouth, where "ma'am" has like 17 syllables, dude. I'm telling you. Swooning.)