Thanks to the lovely and talented Bob Miller. Check them out at http://www.everythingisinbalance.com/keithandelaine! These are a few of my favorites :)


Mi Sofa es su sofa.

Post about Philadelphia coming soon, but until then, I just read a fascinating article and I wanted to share. It's an article about the website, CouchSurfing, and it's founder, but really, it's about community, in the broadest sense of the word. I don't know if I'm ready to share my closest confines with complete strangers, but it certainly is an idea. There is an undercurrent, stronger everyday, of universal longing for community. The harmony in how it is apparent in so many varying pieces of society, yet fundamentally connects deeply to Christ, is exciting. I do believe these are exciting times friends.

n June of 2006, just as MySpace neared 80 million users and Facebook approached 8 million, an article, "Social Isolation in America," appeared in the American Sociological Review. The work of sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona, it examined two national surveys of the American public, one in 1985 and the other in 2004. Their research found that the average number of people with whom Americans discuss important issues has dropped by nearly a third, from about three to two. Even more startling is that one-quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom to discuss their most important matters—twice as many as in 1984. This would suggest that in the same 20 years that saw the rise and triumph of communication technologies—the proliferation of email, cell phones, BlackBerries, and MySpace—our circle of close friends and confidants has shrunk by a significant margin. We are somehow more connected than we once were, and more isolated than ever before.


Place: Pitman, South Jersey

A sense of place. New places and old places. Noticing the things--smells, accents, architecture, interactions, tastes, character, history--that make a place unique. I love it. Place is my favorite thing about traveling, even perhaps about photography. Keith and I went up to Philadelphia and South Jersey this weekend. This was not a new place to me. The area where my family comes from, the small town where my parents grew up, this place is in my blood. Somewhere in the folds of this place lie hidden tangents of my own history that I will never know, but will always imagine. Its not the most beautiful or exciting place on earth, but it doesn't matter. This place contains some of the most deeply familiar fragments of my memory--the sound of my grandmother's voice, the sight of lightening bugs on her lawn, the taste of cheese steaks and soft pretzels that can only be found there. And every visit contains new as well. We will never get used to the growing gulf between my grandmother and the rest of the world as the mysterious current of Alzheimer's carries her away from us. Also new, it was so wonderful to bring Keith there for the first time and show him a place that is so much a part of me. Just as I deeply enjoy visiting his grandparents and being introduced to the layers of his history, I loved getting to introduce him to mine--showing him the house I once lived in, my elementary school, favorite convenience store ( shout out to Wawa for any northerners), favorite foods, and telling countless little stories as memories emerge. good stuff. Here are the pictures, I'll post about our time with great friends in Philadelphia tomorrow.Mom and Kim ordering cheese steaks.Keith with the bag containing his first real Philly cheese steak. yuum.
Pitman backyardsMy maternal grandfatherMy maternal grandmother


a june weekend in Birmingham

This weekend I got to enjoy a lot of the reasons that I love living in Birmingham. Living here is such a unique experience. We live in close community with our friends, and are growing deeper with a church family as we walk with them in the adventure of a new church, and it all happens in this city--Birmingham. Almost everyday I feel like I see another layer, or glimpse another piece of this city. Some days the view is so hopeful and exciting and beautiful. Other days its heartbreakingly sad. My heart breaks more and more for the deep scars in this place, marked by defacto segregated neighborhoods, and areas of the city that are hauntingly filled with boarded up buildings and overgrown property. I'm glad it hurts.

This weekend had a lot of the hopeful views though--of vibrant life and community and creativity.

On Friday night we went to Bryan Johnson's loft for a small concert of Peter Bradley Adams, and one of our very favorites, Matthew Perryman Jones. It was a really great time, a bunch of our friends from Redeemer Community Church were there, and it was cool to see them outside of church and feel like we were really connected through RCC. The concert was wonderful. The atmosphere was so peaceful, and both musicians were really down to earth and talented. MPJ has the sweetest voice. Check him out if you havnt yet. Here are some pictures courtesy of Bryan...there we are chillin in the background. You can also see video on his blog.
On saturday morning, while Keith was at work, I ventured down to the farmers market at Pepper Place on 4th ave. and 29th st. It was packed with people. Stand upon stand of locally grown peaches, strawberries, blackberries, zucchini, squash, cucumber, beans, and basically every fruit or veggie you could imagine. There was also coffee, organic cheese, arts and crafts, wine tasting, and live music. And tons of families with little kids and great dogs. I'm definitely going to go back. And bring cash next time so I can get me some of them peaches.

On Saturday afternoon, we joined thousands of people downtown for City Stages, an annual music festival that takes place right in the center of downtown Bham every year. They block off streets with stages. Its pretty cool. Honestly, my favorite part was just walking around, watching incredibly interesting people eat possibly even more interesting food. Non-musical highlights included finding a "music oasis" in a church that offered live classical and blue grass music--and air conditioning. When we went in a bunch of old people were square dancing, it was pretty amazing. We also ran into a ton of friends from RCC, and even one of my coworkers. The shows we went to were Griffin House, Ingrid Michaelson, and Andrew Bird. All were great. They have a nice set up where the crowd is split down the middle by a fence and people sit on one side, and stand on the other, and lets just say that when you're not much over 5 feet, sitting at a show makes a big difference. Ingrid Michaelson was even more delightful than I expected. I'm sure, given the opportunity, we would be friends. The highlight of the whole day was when she invited 3 15-year-old girls to sing a round with her. They were so cute, and could actually sing, and i'm sure they felt like rock starts. The crowd even gave them a semi-standing ovation. I still get goosebumps, it just made me so happy. Andrew Bird was fascinating. His music is so intricate that he can't even keep up with himself sometimes. But he absolutely rocks his violin, strumming, plucking, picking, and bowing(?) it like a mad man. And his talent at whistling is mind-boggling. Somehow during the concert we caught wind of a rumor that he is autistic. And wholeheartedly believed it, thinking, that explains it! It turns out that he's not. But his brother may be. Anyways, it was fun. And exciting to see something like that going on downtown, which is usually pretty lifeless after business hours wind down. (not my photo either, i might post some later).

In other news:


Things to do with an unexpected day (or two) off.

I arrived at work yesterday morning (after a morning of seriously not wanting to get out of bed and leave Keith behind on his unexpected day off) to see the parking lot completely empty and Ronny, the guy who takes care of everything, holding a sign up to the door saying that the building is closed due to a water main break. So far, it's still not fixed, and i'm still not at work. what a shame. How do I spend an expected day off?
  1. Get my new Social Security card, as Elaine MacCorkle Davis. (This was a hard decision because i love my middle name, Faith. But there is so much history in a last name, especially one like MacCorkle, and i wanted to be sure it lives on.) Keith made friends with a kind old man from New York while he was waiting for me. Last time we went to the social security office, he made friends with a couple african dudes. I have such a friendly husband.
  2. Spend hours in Urban Standard sipping a macchiato that is the closest thing i've found this side of the Atlantic to the cafe con leche i enjoyed so much in Espana.
  3. Then have our friend Pat come meet us for lunch at Urban Standard. Enjoy a delectable standard chicken panino with chicken, smoked guda, caramelized onions, and balsamic glaze.
  4. Go home and nap and sing and play guitar with Keith. Attempt a walk, but give up when it is too hot to breathe.
  5. (day two) Watch the Bachelorette and an episode of House, managing both without having a single channel on our TV.
  6. Work on a secret project for Keith. Shhhh.
  7. Talk to one of your best friends from Spain on Skype for the first time in ages, and find out that he "has decided to follow Jesus." !!!! WHOO!
I dont think I'd make it for long as a stay-at-home wife, although, sometimes I wish I could. But these unexpected days off have not gone by unappreciated. Now I'm off to read a book.


Up close and personal with my neighborhood

On Saturday I went on a walk. My walk lasted for almost an hour, but I only ventured one block away from our home. I brought my macro lens along and we explored. You cover much less ground when looking so closely. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the walk. Some are just pretty, others are so fascinating. Who would have thought that a street sign post had so much color and texture!
Sunday Keith and I went for another walk. We ventured much further this time. We walked around all three of the parks in Highlands, then down Highland avenue to Five Points. This area is gorgeous, brimming with life, creativity, history, and people who really seem to enjoy living there. Then we crossed over Five Points and walked back towards our home just a few blocks north of Highland ave. On this route we passed through abandoned parks and streets, the backside of the South Town projects, and St. Vincents hospital. A whole different atmosphere. But this is a huge part of why I am thankful we live downtown. I don't want to be tucked away from places, realities, that are unpleasant, difficult to deal with, and even scary. And I hope God guides us in how we can do more than just observe, but really be loving neighbors. Joel's sermon last night may have been my favorite at Redeemer so far. We looked at Amos 8 and 9 and he spoke about injustice and a Biblical picture of Heaven. Amos was set in a time where the disparity between the poor and the rich was huge. As the rich got richer, the poor got poorer. (sound familiar?) Amos points out that in the Kingdom of God, this is not just unfortunate, but an affront to justice. Our call to meet the needs of all people, to not turn a blind eye to the hungry, hurting, forgotten, and needy people in our community is not a call to charity, but to JUSTICE--a force that is at the heart of our creator, and is so much bigger than us. It is a call to take part in redemption. And we are promised Redemption. Amos describes this final redemption as a time when hunger, thirst, homelessness, and injustice will never be felt on this earth again. hallelujah! Oh how humbling is it that we are called to take part in redemption now.

In other news:
  • I did paint our living room this weekend. And, thanks Pat for the help where I couldn't reach (that's what friends are for). It looks great and oh-so cozy.
  • Keith starts classes today at UAB. It will be a grueling month for us as he still works at the moving company and will have class from 5:30-9:45 monday through thursday. Prayers would be appreciated.
  • I have my first session with my literacy student today. Pray for that too!