Tuesday, July 31, 2012

bicyclespace yoga.

Image source.
OK - so that's not even remotely what I looked like when I did yoga at BicycleSpace last night.  But it was still a good time!  On Mondays at 7:15 (and Saturdays at 8:30am) the shop hosts free yoga classes (on a donations basis, which benefit local bike causes and groups).  I didn't catch the name of the non-profit our donations went to but it was something encouraging women in cycling; I've got no qualms with that!  

I found this article when searching for like-minded bike groups, What Will Encourage More Women to Bike, which talks about just that and says that safety is what women want when thinking about biking around town.  Now I want to read this book!  

I rode the Rock Creek Park path to work for the first time yesterday and am hooked - no stop lights, no waiting and gorgeous scenery.  What I want when biking is smooth roads, sun protection and clean air.    

Check out BicycleSpace's video below promoting yoga at their shop:
Do you bike?  I ride mine everywhere!  I think I'm too antsy to wait for planes, trains and automobiles :)  OK, I'll wait for trains.... 

Monday, July 30, 2012

weekend wonders.

picnic party for two.  i can't get over it, i love this picture!
the washington national cathedral
not real ants on our plants!

eastern market meets (north)western dweller.
This weekend was a treasure.  Only one or two things planned and sweetly filled in by unexpected delights.  Cassie and I made a trip to St. Alban's Episcopal Church Opportunity Shop for their $7 bag sale - and their last day open before an August close.  Then we visited the Capital Fringe Festival, which had their last shows for 2012 yesterday to see Burlesque and Belly Laughs (I volunteered and got free tickets!  Woohoo!).  A little more skin than we were expecting (along with some improv comedy which we were) and like the announcer said - I'll never again be able to say I haven't seen a burlesque show...though that question is rarely posed to me....

After the show we headed to Busboys and Poets, which hosts cool events like these.  Our Saturday afternoon was a homey one and we trooped to the park behind the National Cathedral for a sunset/moonrise picnic.  Swoon!  I loved it and we were practically the only ones there.

Cassie and I missed the Cheick Hamala Diabate show last night because we were exhausted after biking to and from the Eastern Market on Sunday morning to meet Cat & David (and their butterball turkey!) for brunch and market perusing (about 18 miles round trip!).  I got some bread and an ice cream cone :)

How was your weekend?  I'm still on the look-out for DC favorites!  :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


From moving to DC with Cassie to checking out wedding venues in Virginia Beach (more on that later!) to meeting the Malian ambassador to the US and Cheick Hamala Diabate - life has been filled with some treasured moments.  I am getting used to my neighborhood and trying to find a safe, bike-friendly route to work and also seeking a balance between work, school and play.  Let's just say it's an evolving story :)  
Treasure at EQUIKIDS.
It's hard not having Abdoulaye here to share these moments but we are so blessed to have Skype and that we can talk everyday so I'll keep my complaining to a minimum!  OAA is still in full-swing, we're crossing our fingers for a November/December arrival.  

I love the horse in the picture above (and his name :) and I hope you'll love the video below, which captures some moments from my move from Virginia Beach, VA to Washington, DC.  

Moving to DC from Jennifer Davis on Vimeo.

Check out these videos about what is happening in Mali - hoping reports that she will become the next Somalia or Afghanistan won't prove to be true...

Monday, July 23, 2012

one of the ones.

Cheick Hamala Diabate, me, Ambassador Al Maamoun Keita

Breaking the fast and wishing Andrea, the girl in stripes, a Happy Birthday (she's making a film documentary on the Festival in the Desert)
Washington National Cathedral by night
It's wild how one event can lead to another.  Last Tuesday Cassie, Beatrice and I manned a table at the Peace Corps event 'Around the World in 90 minutes' for Peace Corps recruits, nominees and those just interested in joining the Peace Corps.  While there, one of the guys running the show (a Mali RPCV) told us about a show at the Bossa lounge where Cheick Hamala Diabate would be playing.  I had heard of him through the Fringe Festival because he's playing a show at the end of the month.

All of that to say Cassie and I found ourselves at the Malian Ambassador (Al Maamoun Keita - appointed just 6 months ago) to the United States' home on Friday night (it's right across the street from the Malian embassy) for a Mali-fundraiser and to break the fast together on the first night of Ramadan.  We met the bureau chief for the African Sun Times, the President of the Africa Travel Association, the co-founder of the Diaspora Angel Investment Network (DAINand it was all organized by the Association des Maliens de Washington, DC (AMAW) - among many others!  The night also included a surprise (to me) performance by Supernova of his latest single 'Gogo Danseuse'.  

One of the drummers at the ambassador's home made a beautiful speech about all of us doing our part for the over 300,000 internally and externally displaced refugees who have been forced from their homes by the current political and social instability in Mali.  He said we are all one of the ones - each of us can make a difference.  I am going to try and keep his words in mind!

PS- Cassie and I might also be one of the ones featured in a Supernova dance video - I'll keep you posted if that develops! :) 

Friday, July 13, 2012

on the move.

Image source.
I'm moving this weekend!  Looking forward to (free) yoga classes at the Cleveland Park Library (dates & times), more fringe festival shows and bee-bopping around in a zip car (though I'll mostly be biking).  What are you up to this weekend?

Some links from around the web:
African solutions for African problems.
Shrine destruction in Timbuktu.
Presidential (and vice...) campaigning heats up in Virginia.
An UNESCO World Heritage site named in the Central Africa region.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On the fringe.

Image source.
Image source.

Tonight I'm volunteering as a box office assistant for the play Domino's Pizza Saved My Life at the Goethe Institute, which is part of the Capital Fringe Festival, the second largest unjuried fringe festival in the US.  Every time you volunteer you get a voucher to see anohter play!  Last year they sold over 28,000 tickets to 13,000 patrons.  This year there are over 130 plays and 830 shows!     See the Fringe calendar here!

Have you ever heard of or been to a Fringe festival?  Neat idea!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

dc politics.

Jim Graham and his Dog
Jim Graham, Ward 1 councilman, with his dog Guapo.  Image source.
While leafing through crumbling maps and moth-eaten dresses at a local antiques store this past weekend, I met Ward 1 councilman, Jim Graham (pictured above).  He had the cutest little pup-pup named 'Guapo' with him.  A bi-lingual dog; I love it!

Mr. Graham is the council member representing the neighborhood where I live now though I'll need to learn more about Mary Cheh, who is the Ward 3 councilwoman, where I will be living.

Here is Mrs. Cheh's biography, posted on the DC Council website, and a few snippets from it here (an impressive woman!):
Councilmember Mary Cheh is committed to good government, law reform, and serving her constituent neighbors in Ward 3 and throughout the District.
She has also worked on international law reform projects in countries such as Tajikistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
Mary has served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C.; worked pro bono for the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in South Africa; served as a consultant to the National Institute of Justice and the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; chaired the subcommittee on criminal justice for the D.C. Circuit Court’s Task Force on Gender; and has served as a member of the Rules Committee of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and on the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Military Justice. A former member of the ACLU Board and current Vice-Chair of the ACLU Screening Committee, Mary Cheh is an avid defender of civil liberties. She is also a Founder and Co-Director of the Animal Welfare Project, which worked with community leaders, activists, and government officials to craft model animal welfare legislation. Mary also founded Project Re-Entry, a pro bono law reform project that aims to reduce recidivism and assist ex-offenders in their return to productive lives.
Mary is also a tenured law professor at George Washington University, serving as the Elyce Zenoff Research Professor of Law and teaches and writes primarily in the areas of constitutional law and criminal procedure. She chairs the GW Law Public Interest Committee, which assists students in providing legal services to the underserved, and she works with students on community and environmental pro bono projects. Ms. Cheh joined the GW Law School faculty in 1979 after being in private practice with Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Kampelman in Washington, D.C. and serving as a law clerk to the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Mary has been honored by the University with an Award for Community Service and with a teaching award from the Law Association for Women.
Finally, Mary is a long-time resident of Ward 3, with deep roots in the community. She and her husband, Neil Lewis, a journalist, moved to Washington in the late 1970s. In 1986 they moved from Cleveland Park to their current home in Forest Hills. Mary and Neil’s two daughters, Jane and Nora Lewis, were born and raised here, both attending Murch Elementary and Georgetown Day School. Mary is a former member of the Murch after-school board, a Stoddert soccer coach (and a licensed referee), and member of the Stoddert Board. For many years, Mary has taught units on constitutional law and “street law” to students in local schools. Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Douglass College and holds law degrees from Rutgers University and Harvard Law School. She is admitted to practice in D.C., New Jersey, Massachusetts, and before federal courts.
Do you have any DC politics things I should know?  I've heard it's a circus...  I don't know if I'm ready for it! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

amani ya juu.

Image source.
On Saturday before hitting up Novalima with my friend April, I wandered around the neighborhood and stumbled on Amani Ya Juu (it means 'higher peace' in Swahili).  Check out their blog and website if you like.  The store features handmade goods crafted by women in Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and more.  Gorgeous gifts and reasonably priced (while their dresses are expensive they are really well made).  If you're in the Mt. Pleasant area and looking for treasure you should check them out!  

Monday, July 9, 2012

just a bunch of people riding bikes.

Just a bunch of people riding bikes.  I love it.  The video from the firefly ride & picnic last week.
Image source.
On Saturday I joined a friend to listen to Novalima - an Afro-Peruvian group - at the U Street Music Hall.  I loved the band though was sorry I missed Robyn who played right after - I didn't know she was in town!

Looking forward to hearing this artist, Cheick Hamala, play at the end of the month as part of the Fringe festival free music series!  Here's a great post on alternative energy in Africa. 

an adventurer looking for treasure.

Image source
 "People from all over the world have passed through this village, son," said his father.  "They come in search of new things, but when they leave they are basically the same people they were when they arrived.  They climb the mountain to see the castle, and they wind up thinking that the past was better than what we have now.  They have blond hair, or dark skin, but basically they're the same as the people who live right here"  (The Alchemist, p. 9).  
Four years ago today, I rode a bus from Philadelphia, PA to New York City and then boarded a plane with 78 other Peace Corps volunteers bound for Mali - a country I had never been to and one I knew little about (aside from Malick Sidibe).  I was excited, nervous and eager to begin a new chapter in my life.  I had no idea what laid in store.

Working in Zana as an environment volunteer with Annie and Esayi (on shea butter production and a cereal bank) changed the way I think about cross-cultural work environments.  Third-party mediation?  I've been in the middle of it.  Functioning (and trying to thrive) as a woman in a male-dominated society?  I made a crack at it.  Learning and speaking Bambara, the majority dialect in Mali, which is nothing like French?  I did my best!

When I talk about my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali (and remember - with short attention spans I have a 2 minute window of opportunity to discuss my entire 3 1/2 years so I have to be quick!) I briefly mention my work but what my 3 1/2 years come down to, like many volunteers, is people.  The relationships I had not only the opportunity to make but to also truly develop.  Namely with Annie and Esayi and their Coulibaly clan (and, of course, my fiancé-though he came into the picture later on :).  Did I like it? people ask.  Not always, I try and answer honestly.  But mostly. 

As I transition back to life in the United States - I am often asked a few other questions.  Do you miss Mali?  Yes.  Is it hard coming back?  Yes and no.  What made you join the Peace Corps?  That's a story.  How did you get sent to Mali?  That's another story.  Did you think this [living in DC/America, engaged to Abdoulaye, working for WRI] was where you would be following your Peace Corps service?  Not at all.  (but I am thrilled for all of those things!).

I am reading The Alchemist and I think anyone who reads it would join the Peace Corps (if that was ever a dream of theirs).  The book has the answers to all of the questions above with an easy-to-follow, thought-provoking plot.  The author, Paulo Coelho, also uses the word 'treasure' a lot.  You know I can't resist a treasure.  What I like most from what I've read is the idea that you can't set your plans in stone.  One of the greatest lessons I learned in the Peace Corps is that you must be flexible and open to others if you want to pursue happiness happily.  Joining the Peace Corps is kind of how I feel about entering into a great relationship (like how I feel about Abdoulaye!).  Was I happy before I joined?  You bet!  Am I happier after?  I think so - at least I have a more acute appreciation of my happiness - and the choice that I have to pursue my own personal legend (à la Alchemist).  

My friend, Anna, and I emailed once about when we would stop looking at our life in segments.  The college years.  The immediate post-college years (for me, the Peace Corps).  The post-post college years (now).  And I don't know that I will ever stop looking at life in those segments though now the segments are becoming more like segues.  (I have also tried to stop looking at things as good or bad.  Read this story and you may see why).

Four years later, I find myself sitting in an air-conditioned, sub-let apartment in Washington, DC.  Dirty plates and cups are piled on the desk beside me and letters waiting to be written and addressed sit behind my computer.  What has changed in the four years since I joined the Peace Corps?  Well, the presidents changed in both countries (one after an election, one after a coup).  I biked in Mali and I still love biking in the US.  I'm engaged!  And while I knew little about Mali four years ago today - now I make a conscious effort to not talk about Mali all the time.  But if you ever want to listen, I'll be ready to share :)

While perceivable change in me is slight, I think with a little digging, much would come to the surface.  And, after all, like the boy in The Alchemist said, "I'm [still] an adventurer, looking for treasure" (p. 42).  I also still don't know what lies in store.

Unofficial polls may or may not reflect that this is the best Peace Corps COS presentation ever.  That may or may not have been my San-kaw poll....

Some of my reflections on years past from years past:

Some of my favorite trips and visits while I was in Mali:
Guinea & Sierra Leone.
Marija in Mali.
A Moroccan wedding.
Sarah in Mali.
Mom in Mali.
Abdoulaye's and my first trip together.
A Lebanese wedding.

Thanks for reading!  And you might note (not sure how you got here!) that I changed the address to www.triflesandtreasures.blogspot.com - if you bookmarked the site - please note the change!

Friday, July 6, 2012

friday fetes.

With Uncle Jimmie and Lindsay the weekend I left for DC.
Do you have weekend plans?  I want to make something special for Amanda & Ryan and their baby girl, Claire, bike around the city and listen to some music.  Maybe I'll read, write and look out the window.  I love waking up where I do, near the tops of the trees, and seeing the leaves wave good morning to me.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

fourth in review.

roof rise.
After recovering from last night's bike ride with some blueberry pancakes (below) and Peace Corps talk, I napped and then headed to a colleague's for a 4th of July rooftop party.  The fireworks were lovely but the moon stole the show.  Tasty treats, fun conversation and a neat art project you can learn more about here.  

The project asked us to think about what independence in America means and then write it on a large piece of painted canvas.  What do you think independence means?
street fireworks. 
keeping it red-white-&-blue-y with the hostess.
I think this is big Mali news - what do you think??  How did you celebrate - any favorite 4th traditions?  Next year, Abdoulaye will be here!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

happy 4th of july!

bikers meeting at around 8:20 - getting glow-sticked and gearing up for the moonrise ride.
a new favorite.
this one, too.
there's our full moon!
Happy, happy 4th of July!

To celebrate the kick-off of this mid-week 4th of July holiday, I went for a firefly ride & picnic with BicycleSPACE.  Awesome decision.  New friends, old friends (I saw another Mali RPCV!) and lots of riding around the city.  Estimates were running at about 600 people!  We met at the park by the Verizon center and at sunset, around 8:40p.m., headed onto the streets en masse.  Blinking red lights, solid yellow glowsticks.  Doesn't get much better.  It rained a little on us but we didn't let that dampen our spirits.

A picnic gathering followed the ride where people munched on watermelon, mac&cheese, fried chicken and your standard picnic fixings, until midnight.  There was enough food (and more) to go around!  Wowsas!  I even made a new friend who is ready to go on the Cupcake Ramble with me :)  Can't say enough good things about the event - thanks so much to BicycleSPACE for putting it on!

See more photos from the ride here

Here are some fourth of July memories from 2010 and 2011.

I'm liking Maia Vidal's sweet voice and thoughtful lyrics.  I saw her name here and was curious.

How are you celebrating the fourth of July?  Have you ever seen the fireworks from the Mall?  Any DC recommendations??

Monday, July 2, 2012

Africa from A-Z: Comoros

With its 37th Independence Day only a few days away (July 6th), Comoros, which means 'moon' in Arabic, is the perfect country to learn about this week on my Africa from A-Z series.  While I knew only a little about Chad, I honestly didn't even know Comoros was a country :(  And, to clarify for myself and others, these posts are really to help me gain an increased awareness about countries in Africa; they aren't meant to be exhaustive but rather to whet the taste buds!

I did some sleuthing this weekend and learned more about this former French colony nestled in the Indian Ocean above Madagascar.  Here are some of the trifles and treasures I learned:

Sources like these are tricky because they don't appear credible but the stories on them about country origins are fascinating.  If you're looking for Comoros tschotskes on the net - look no further: you can buy fish stamps from the Comoros and here's a board game found on Esty or perhaps you'd prefer a map pendant?  Want to read about fisheries in Comoros?  For all you foodies out there - this Comoros dish looks delicious.  A couple of sources claim that Comoros is the second-largest exporter of vanilla (after Madagascar) in the world.  Yum!
Same as left.

Source.  Hard to find much information on this mosque.  
Had you heard of Comoros?  Did you know Madagascar was the number one producer of vanilla??

And a shameless plug:  One of the pictures that I took while working with USAID/PHARE, and that I later submitted to IREX's 'Make a Better World' photo contest, made honorable mention in their photo contest.  I'm so thankful and honored to be a part of such a neat online exhibit - the photos they chose as winners are truly stunning. 

green bean.

Fall 2006.  Please don't be jealous of my jorts.  See Grenoble here, here and here
I came home on Friday night and decided to check out craigslist before heading to bed.  I've been on the lookout for a bike and everyone kept telling me to check them out for the best deals.  What did I see after a minute of perusing but the green treasure pictured below.  I sent the seller an email and headed to bed.
Saturday morning I awoke to an email - turns out I was the first person to respond!  I set up a time to visit the seller, and the bike, later that morning.  What mattered to me?  Reasonably priced, smooth ride, perfect for commuting and, of course, she's green!  It's my American green bean.  

I've been feeling pretty nostalgic these days (though this nostalgia is not influencing all of my purchases :).  I just moved to DC.  Abdoulaye is far away.  Life is changing.  These are all positive things.  I am so thankful to be employed - and in a job I like.  Abdoulaye will be close by.  Life is changing!  Anyways, when I saw this bike I thought of my time in Grenoble, France (above), my bike from Jackie that I had in Fredericksburg, VA, which I painted green (can't find photos!), and so I just knew this craigslist bike was 'the one.'

After meeting with Tony - green bean's former owner and the nicest guy from Silver Spring, MD I've ever met - I was hooked.  He was so patient with explaining the features of the bike and adjusting her to fit my needs.  After about two hours of learning about the bike, making adjustments and talking about our lives, green bean was graciously passed on to me.  Thank you, Tony - she will be loved!

As I wait to move into my new apartment next month, I'm subletting from a colleague who recommended a bike shop to me in case I needed help with anything bike-related.
 BicycleSPACE has a shop near the Mt. Vernon metro stop where they sell bike gear, offer bike repair - and classes on fixing your bike - along with some pretty sweet guided rides of the city.  I did the Nice and Easy ride on Sunday morning to see how green bean rode.  (Does anyone want to do the Cupcake Ramble with me???)  I loved rolling through the weekend ghost town streets of DC with tourists in sandals and fanny packs walking around and passing sites like the CapitolYards park (anyone interested in a Trapeze class?) and the Nationals stadium all from my the vantage point of my own bike seat.  Nice people, nice bikes and bike gear.  Nice.    

Take home point from all of this for me?  I love connecting purchases to people when I can and joining in on community activities, which will turn living in Washington, DC from a place where I have a job to a city I can call a home.  (Another take home point that's sort of related?  This article.  Wowsas.  Really hit home!). 

isn't she pretty??
Maybe I'll make a sweet video like this one of me on my bike :)  I love the music! 

My green bean is a Solé - you can check out their blog here and their website here.

If you're interested (or know about!) bike things - here are the details from the craigslist posting.  It's pretty jargon-y to me but may be useful to have posted here one day :)
Shimano PO-R540 SPD pedals
Planet Bike 400 psi hand pump
Kryptonite Series2 bike lock
3 LED rear light with dual settings

Frame: Hi Tensile Steel, Fully Tig Welded, Fork End Dropouts
Fork: Hi Tensile Steel, Tig Welded, Threadless
Handle Bars: BMX
Grips: Oury
Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
Crankset: Lasco 170 MM, Alloy 48T, with 5 Bolt chainring
Gear Ratio: 48:16
Brake: Radius Dual Caliper
Hub: Flip Flop -- Fixed/Single Speed 16T
Chain: KMC Z410 98 Links
Rim: Machine/Double Walled 'Deep Dish' 50MM
Tires: Durable 700 X 23C
Valve: Presta
Saddle: Cionilli Plush Rivet Fixed Gear Seat
Seatpost: 25.4 X 300MM
Total Weight: 26 Pounds
Toe Clips included with Bicycle 
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