Monday, December 28, 2009

young garlic

young garlic, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


It is cold now and hard to imagine that it will ever be warm again. The small green things in the garden reassure me: spring will come.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Share This

Have been chipping away at a real-live portfolio web page and am pleased to say it is at least 40% finished. Hoo-ray. You can check it out here.

In other news, here's a photo of a lady with a kitten who appeared at my bank one afternoon this summer. She kept talking about finding the kitten all smooshed on the side of the road and how she just couldn't leave it to die. The women at the bank were swooning, especially the police woman. I think the kitten may have been a little brain damaged. Look at that sweet face...can you see it?

This woman and her brain damaged kitten in the bank are the sorts of things that I like about Knoxville. Just a hair off color and in places you wouldn't expect it.

God bless us, every one.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Moment, Not Mint

The good stuff, originally uploaded by Smashimus.

I like the declarative vibe and the typography in this piece very much. Seems full of inside jokes too. Take it to the streets folks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oaxacan Food

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pork Rind Childhood

I think the memory or idea of food is often more satisfying that the actual thing itself. In honor of food memories and Mockingbird Events' Street Food Dinner tonight, here is a drawing about my memory of pork rinds at the Monteagle flea market.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Great Hope

Earlier this year I ordered six fruit and nut trees from the Arbor Day Foundation. You pay to become a member and then you get a discount on live trees...and they come by post!

They are bare root trees, which I read are less hearty than burlap root balled trees or container grown trees. No matter, they arrived on Saturday in a triangular cardboard mailer: 2 pecans, 2 kieffer pears, 1 plum, 1 redbud, and two free forsythia shrub (i.e. branches). We've had a large pecan sapling (~5' tall) leftover from the Tour de Plants and I decided I would plant it in a large newly established median space between 5th and 4th Ave.

The Tennessee Dept. of Transportation has just this summer finished a large interstate overhaul called SmartFix-40. In it's wake, the interstate on ramps are safer, we have noise barrier walls, and there are several recently disturbed areas passing through succession. TDOT planted several trees (magnolias, dogwood, etc.) but they must be heavily fertilized as the surrounding soil is junk. It's mostly clay and full of rocks: no good for young trees and nearly impossible to dig a deep enough hole for my pecan tree.

So instead, I planted the small and sad little bare root pecans from the Arbor Day Foundation. I mixed some of my compost into the clay and surrounded each tree with leaf mulch (also left over from the bike ride). Now I wait.

And wait. And wait. I will return to check on their progress in a couple weeks. The plane in which they are planted has a strong slope and I fell asleep last night dreaming of terraces, sedums, and paths. Maybe after I get my Masters in Landscape Architecture. Ha.

Here is the one of the trees on site.

Monday, December 7, 2009


legacy, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

This photo comes from Saturday afternoon when we happened by Legacy, an excellent vintage store, now emptied to make room for storage (great idea, Jeffrey Nash, use a retail storefront to store your crap).

My bitter feelings towards developers (with more money than sense) aside, this is a good example of how the visual gets at things that words cannot. I like images that reward the penetration of the gaze. Look closely at the photograph and find the owner standing at the back of the store. It was probably one of the last times she'll stand in a building that has been her life for decades. I almost felt as if I shouldn't have been there witnessing her and it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Instructional Test

Saturday, November 21, 2009

About Cooking

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hot Damn

Tour de Plants was yesterday and went pretty well. We planted fifteen blueberry bushes, seven rasp/blackberry bushes, a pawpaw tree, a pecan tree, two tart cherries, and a generous handful of garlic.

Much to my delight, one of our riders took the Gleaner's Guide to Knoxville (an online google map) and made an iPhone app that finds the nearest source to you. The irony (or tension) of using a very expensive smart phone to find marginal food sources is very pleasing to me. If you have a magIcPhone, direct it here and check out Eric's app:

Monday, October 26, 2009


Our second "Gleaning Tour" went very well. Our group was bolstered by several knowledgeable enthusiasts. Here we are picking/digging up chicory. I hope to roast it and grind it up for a coffee substitute. Ah yes.

This photo is by Stephanie Untz. You can see more images from the tours here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Speaking in Tongues

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Sunday, October 11, 2009


man, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Looking at Death

8 October 2009, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

We have mice in our house. The traps we set make a dull sound when they snap on a mouse body. This one died with his eyes wide open and looking outward. Their bodies are usually stiff when I fling them into the overgrowth across the street.


7 October 2009, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

One sketch from a series of Daily Sketches drawn from memory.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


10th October, 10 am - noon, Parkridge Neighborhood in E. Knoxville
We will meet at the Parkridge Community Garden on the corner of E. 5th Ave. and Olive St. Please bring a pen and wear comfortable shoes and clothing for walking outdoors.

24th October, 10 am - noon, 4th & Gill Neighborhood north of Downtown
We will meet at the Birdhouse, 800 N. 4th Ave, on the corner of N. 4th and Gill Aves. Please bring a pen and wear comfortable shoes and clothing for walking outdoors.

XYth November, 10 am - noon, South Knoxville neighborhoods tbd

I will be hosting ongoing events addressing ideas of land stewardship, labor, and community. Please contact me if you have ideas for a tour in your area or would like to get involved.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Made this to print on the backsides of some loose book pages. The book illustrates two weird baby dreams.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Small Carrots

These came from the garden behind the Birdhouse.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why Community?

What's so great about community?

I'm trying to answer this question for myself. Is it really that great? No, not inherently. This is, I think, why you've got to work actively to cultivate the kind of community you want to see (or need). That row won't hoe itself.

I think we've got biological hard-wiring pushing us to band together, but I'm not sure I want to get into that with my work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thesis haiku: 1

TRACFONE voicejail night
The machine quickly deters
a small branch of it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In America

In America, we have so much food that we fight with it.

I believe that waste is a sin. This poster really set my hair to curl. The fact that the event benefits food banks does little to assuage me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


One of the things I like best about gardening is that it demands patience. While there are ways to speed along germination, fruiting, and rotting, plants have their own time and it does not sync with your Palm Pre/iPhone/whatever. It's biological and ancient. They will not be hurried or cajoled.

For example, this fig tree cutting. I'm told it will about a year. First it will shed its leaves and seem dead, and we will wait. Then some time in the future-- the post grad-school future where I am starting out my highly successful career as guest lecturer and artist shaman-- the fig tree will put out roots. And I will sing and dance.

If it doesn't root-- if what seems like dead, is dead-- that will be the future just as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


"The world is large and full of noise."
-Jane Hirschfield

I meet with my thesis committee for the first time tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"It is not the number of units in a system that give it strength, but the number of connections between those units."

Notes from Gene Monaco and Chad Hellwinkel's lecture at the Birdhouse

Monday, August 17, 2009


I'd read that you can grow potatoes in a "tire tree" made by continuously stacking more tires and dirt over the leaves and stems the potatoes put out.

My friend Jorge pointed out that tires contain cadmium, among other things, and so I tried the layering method in a plastic bucket.

It did make potatoes, but not the multiple generations I'd imagined the tire tree would produce. Next year I'll try it with chicken wire and straw or wooden produce boxes. It seems you need to get more height to get a larger yield.

I enjoy the way root vegetables yield. I imagine all the returning UT students are giving way with a similar muted *POP*.

Fall Is Coming

It's still very warm here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Snake Handlers

snake handlers, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

The truth is richer and better than fiction. These are sketches from a lecture by Fred Brown and Jeanne McDonald, authors of "The Serpent Handlers", at the East Tennessee Historical Society.

My favorite part was about an elder woman of the church: The first time she handled a died.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

End of Summer

Swimming pools remind me of the hot sticky end of summer. This one did especially.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Scotty, originally uploaded by katie.shapiro.

This is one of the photos from Katie Shapiro's flickr stream. I love the discernment in her work. The colors are West Coast; the people are nonchalant and beautiful; and--most rewarding to a casual fan-- Ms. Shapiro posts very selectively.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Expectant {6/6}

Monday, August 3, 2009

Expectant {5/6}

The second to last of six "expectant" drawings. All drawings in Black Walnut ink on Rives BFK.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Expectant {4/6}

Friday, July 31, 2009

Expectant {3/6}

Expectant {2/6}

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Expectant {1/6}

The first of six "expectant" drawings.
All drawings done in Black Walnut ink on Rives BFK.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hilary Williams

It is thrilling to meet someone like Hilary Williams.

I felt especially grateful when I met her three years ago in a bar downtown. I'd been praying, "Lord, send me some awesome women. I need Amazonian intelligence and creativity, wisdom and generosity. Please."

Lo and behold, She delivered Hilary Williams, a talented and thoughtful graphic designer, enthusiastic outdoors-woman, and generous soul. I and many others in Knoxville are the better for knowing her and her work.

For this reason, I'm sorry to see her leave Knoxville, but am glad to know that she will be out in the world, doing good things, meeting and affecting others in the way she has me.

You may have encountered Hilary selling her hand-printed and sewn bags on Market Square last year. Or you may have seen her excellent thesis show on local food at the Downtown Gallery. If you missed the show, you can read about it here: A Fork In the Road. You can see Hilary's Atitu bags here.

Hilary's gift for making information attractive and accessible will serve her well teaching at Drake University. I wish her the best and look forward to seeing her future work.

Below: A young eater visits Hilary's interactive table at "A Fork In the Road". See more images from that show here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Once Wed

A wedding blog called Once Wed is displaying some of the images by Kate Murphy, the talented woman who photographed our wedding. I feel famous. Ha. Makes me want to have professionals photograph everything. Or people with really nice cameras.

The image below is hers and is one of my favorites. You can see more of the images on Kate's blog.

I promise the next time I write it will not be about my own wedding...but it was real fun.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The manfriend y yo got married recently at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum. It was real nice, and the only day that week that it didn't rain. I credit my mother and the tribe of Episcopalian women she rallied to petition the Lord on our behalf.

Now to return to our normal lives: pay bills, buy groceries, move my studio, finish the Bonnaroo banner, and try to stay cool.

Bonnaroo, which wrapped up six days before the wedding, was something else. I'm glad to have seen it, but I don't think I'll need to go back for a while. You can see photos of our bamboo installation and trade project here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last day haiku


Unwashed masses walk.
I breathe in the dust and crud:
Wake early coughing.

Flee to the mountains:
Solitude, showers, birds, and
Waffle House breakfast.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bannaroo haiku


Sun rises early
As do our chatty neighbors.
Oh, bacon and eggs.

Blazing sun bears down.
We limp toward the creek's sweet shade.
Returning renewed.

Bamboo walls go up.
Young volunteers come to help.
This is youth city.

More perhaps when the festival starts. Our neighbors talk a lot about breakfast, blessings, and the body, but I suppse they had to listen to our late night chatter. People living in close quarters learn much about each other.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cooking With Gas

More images from working with bamboo in the Birdhouse backyard. We've now got 20 fence panels, each 4' x 7', waiting to be filled in with bamboo strips. We'll drive to Manchester on Monday.

I hope to get part of our banner/flag sewn this morning. So much to do.

Joan demonstrates bamboo splitting. For larger pieces, we use a machete and a hammer.

Lauren and Jessica prepare to sort and clean bamboo. Each piece gets scrubbed with biodegradable soap before being cut or split and fastened into the fence.

Friday, May 22, 2009


The Birdhouse is going to Bonnaroo to set up and run an interactive (and greenish) art space. Here is a picture of our intended site. We will be stationed at a "pod" with a medic, "pod ambassadors", a mist tent, and various other amenities.

Our project involves setting up various modular bamboo walls as well as a shed roof clad in aluminum can shingles. The bamboo walls will provide shade and help delineate our space and the shed roof will be the home of our sewing team. Our sewers will be at work piecing together scraps of clothing and fabric donated by Bonnaroo patrons and a local Goodwill.

We've spent the last couple days finding fabric to print and harvesting bamboo from various stands around Knoxville. Bamboo is well-suited to the South East and incredibly invasive. Most people are happy to have it removed from their property. Joan (pictured above) tells me that bamboo comes out of the ground as wide as it will ever be and in the first season grows to be as tall as it will ever be. All growth following that first season increases the thickness of the bamboo's interior walls. It is an amazing plant. Caleb (at right) and Joan found a source of bamboo 4" in diameter. These will make up the foundation of our fence pieces.

We've tentatively decided to use this design, where vertical pieces are tied on opposite sides of stout lateral pieces. We may split some of our vertical pieces for economy and aesthetics. I know so little about structures and am totally geeking out. This stuff speaks to my childhood dreams of tree houses and hidden shelters. Ah, summer.

Most likely, our site will not look like the one above (which comes from the Japanese Gardens in Portland, OR and was taken by lao_ren on flickr). There will be no moss. There will be rows and rows of people car camping and doing drugs. It might look more like this...minus the apocalyptic clouds and plus bamboo walls and sewn banners. We'll see.

Photo by kloppster on flickr.