Friday, August 31, 2012

a labor day weekend wedding!

Front Porch Farms - wedding venue (Image source)
I'm heading to Nashville, Tennessee tomorrow morning for Kate and Tony's wedding.  Ah!!  Hard to believe someone I've known for more than half my life is tying the knot this weekend and at the same time, not hard to believe at all.  It's also reassuring the event will be captured by Valerie Demo (along with Sarah Lee Williams and Bit of Ivory)- sure to be captured from every fabulous angle!!

What are your Labor Day plans?  Heading to the beach?  Relaxing pool-side?  Staying inside?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

terence blanchard at the blues alley

Image Source.
On Friday, Dad and Sheri came up for a surprise visit (lucky me!!).  We had dinner at Ristorante Piccolo in Georgetown before heading to the Blues Alley to see Terence Blanchard (check him out here on NPR).  The music was truly beautiful - and his bassist was only 20 years old!  I love the Blues Alley venue and Cassie spotted on the back of the menu that Sunday-Thursday students get 1/2 price tickets.  Sweet!

Have you had any treasures drop in on you lately?  Any music making your life sweeter?    

Monday, August 27, 2012

a baby shower!

Monica in all her glory with lots of pink boxes and bags to uncover
Monica and Samer were married in Lebanon last June.  Hard to believe how quickly time flies!  Soon they'll be welcoming a baby - can you guess the gender?!  

After eating this fabulous cake and cookies made by Monica's cousin, we lounged in the living room and read each other's tarot cards - delightful!

August 2012
This is what a year has done to us - I've got longer hair (with a lot less hairspray) and Monica has a baby growing inside her!
June 2011
A year later I come back to these two pictures every time as my favorites.  I'm so excited for Monica and Samer to welcome their baby girl - I know everyone can't wait to meet her!

See more pictures from the baby shower here :)

Friday, August 24, 2012


this picture is one of my favorites of us.
I twist my green bike around the corner and out the front door of my apartment.  It folds neatly into the elevator and I follow behind.  I pick it up over the stairs in the lobby and awkwardly roll out the front door.  As the heavy glass door closes behind me, I catch my breath for a second - the air feels cooler, is this fall?

The face of my watch catches the back of my pink garden/bike glove and I pull it down and over the fabric so I can better see it to time my ride.  Coasting down the street, the Washington National Cathedral lights up with morning sunshine ahead of me.  I try and hold on to this minute - September is almost here to be followed by October to be followed by November.  The days are passing and I find living in the present difficult when I am so anxiously awaiting Abdoulaye's arrival.

When people complain that the weekend is too short, I excitedly think that another week has passed.  When people say the time is flying, I quickly agree and bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying 'I wish it moved faster!'  When people lament the end of summer and the transition to fall, which means winter isn't far away, I smile inside thinking it means we're that much closer to when Abdoulaye will be here.

This long-distance thing is hard - though not impossible.  I love waking up and seeing an email or a text or a facebook message from the man pictured above.  I am thrilled to share the mundane details of my day with his eager ears on Skype and listen to how he has spent his day or what he has cooked for dinner.  I love listening to Abdoulaye's English, which gets better every time we talk.  I remind myself that other couples have it much harder and I need to keep my perspective straight.

There's a blessing or a saying for everything in West Africa.   One of my favorite Bambara blessings is k'an kelen kelen wuli - may we wake up one by one (because if we all woke up at once, that would mean something bad had happened!).  Abdoulaye recently shared another saying with me, one that I've taped next to my door and that I read each morning before pulling my bike out of the apartment building to roll through the streets of Washington, DC.  It's a saying in his native language, Susu; Lokhe bou xi mou na - there's no day that will not arrive.  

So here I am with my green bike propped next to a silent radiator, poorly hung curtains slouching like curtseying sacks of potatoes and a stack of school books sitting next to me waiting to be quoted for a paper due yesterday.  The time is passing, the seasons will soon change.  I am practicing patience as best I know how, and each day brings me a little closer to having Abdoulaye here.  While the chill is gone from the air by 9 a.m. and fall won't be here for another month, I still can't wait for Abdoulaye to get here.  I can hardly wait for that day to arrive.     

Thursday, August 23, 2012

World Resources Institute's New President Andrew Steers

Yesterday was the first day for World Resources Institute's new president - Andrew Steers.  He gave an all-staff speech where he said that "we are living in a decade when resources - and how people use them - is more important than ever."  Do you agree?

Read more about him here.  I'm curious to see what will change/stay the same/improve and what his presence will bring to the WRI table.  Of course, I'll only be able to note but so much change since I've only been here two months but all the same!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

bike helmets:to wear or not to wear?

Image source.
I've been having a lot of bike helmet discussion lately - to wear or not to wear?  I'm definitely on the 'wear' side of the fence though I just got a new helmet yesterday (it took too long, I know!).  My friend, Whitney, sent me this post about a fashion-forward helmet (pictured above) created by Swedish designers.  At $600 a pop I'd need to be a pool shark (and not just look like one) to afford this designer's delight.

Here's a sweet video on the designers and their helmet.

I headed to BicycleSpace last night for some yoga and will head back again tonight for a basic maintenance class.  I think they're business model is great - encourage community, ride bikes, give back.  Celebrate the store's second anniversary by picking up some bike treasures 20% off until October 1st!

What do you think?  Do you wear a helmet?  Would you wear something like the neck collar pictured above?  

Monday, August 20, 2012

a Capitol weekend

Memaw and I visited the Capitol last weekend and Cassie and I headed back for another spin of the Congressional building with former Congressman Jim Moody.  The neatest fact I learned?  What is the first country to have recognized America's independence?  Answer below! 
With former Congressman Jim Moody
Jim Moody is a former Congressman from Wisconsin (though born in Virginia!) on the board of Relief International, which has most recently been involved with providing support to the thousands of Malian refugees both internally and externally displaced as a result of the unrest in the North of the country (and instability in the South).  We spent a few hours exploring the Capitol and even got to sit in the seats of the House of Representatives' Chamber where the State of the Union is delivered!
the Supreme Court room
our touring crew
with baby Claire!
On Sunday, Amanda and Ryan's aunt threw them (and their new baby Claire) a book shower.  A sweet way for friends and family to contribute to their baby girl's growing book collection!  It was a treat to see my college girlfriends and enjoy some I-95 traffic together.  Definitely some treasures!
Mary Washington ladies (Claire included!)

Answer to question above!

See more pictures from the weekend here!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

aw sambe sambe!

blessings from Mali (as though you didn't miss it enough!)
Today marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan (though if you were hasty, perhaps you celebrated yesterday!).  Here's a perspective from a new-to-fasting Muslim and I think it's awesome the event is being commemorated with lights on the Empire State Building.  Hopefully folks won't eat too quickly and gain too much weight :)  
gah.  miss this baby girl.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

a day to remember.

Like I said yesterday, today marks what would have been 64 years of marriage for Memaw and Grandaddy and also kate the great's birthday!  It's also the day after Taylor Swift released her new single (above) We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.  What do you think of it?  I, of course, love it - Taylor can do little wrong in my biased eyes :)  

I am thankful today for friends who remind me to keep an outward focus - today also marks Pakistan's 65th Independence day and after reading more about it, it's certainly a day to remember and reflect on.  

Monday, August 13, 2012


 Memaw rode the Amtrak train to Union Station on Friday and I picked her up on a lunch pause to begin a weekend adventure.  I brought her back to the office where she met a number of colleagues before settling in nicely in a chair next to my desk.  I could get used to spinning around and having her cute little face right there!

On Saturday we took a tour of the Capitol with a group of folks Cassie and I met at the Ambassador of Mali's home last month.  Afterwards, we followed the underground tunnel to the Library of Congress and saw where Memaw wrote her papers while a student at George Washington University.  Then we took the bus to Georgetown, had lunch and picked up some groceries and cupcakes for a little soiree.

Sunday morning we donned skirts and dresses and headed to Foundry United Methodist Church where Memaw was baptized (as well as my Mom and aunts) and where she married my Granddaddy 64 years ago tomorrow.  It was such a treat to sit in the same sanctuary where such important events in Memaw's life took place and were commemorated.  You can see the White House from the sidewalk in front of the church and Memaw told me how dignitaries and foreign visitors would come to Foundry while in town and the secret service would be there.  DC is thrilling for me now and to hear Memaw's stories I know it was just as thrilling way back when.

Last night we had an intimate Baha'i study circle meeting of myself, Memaw and my friend Kyra where we talked about prayer and its place in our lives and what prayer means (coincidentally, the same topic of the sermon at Foundry!).  Again, such a special time to share with Memaw and listen to her prayers and thoughts behind the act.

Memaw will board the train bound for Virginia Beach (via Newport News) this afternoon and I'll get cracking on some school work that is itching to get done.  I've been spoiled having her here and will miss my little shadow and cute-as-can-be companion.  Enjoy some photos from our trip below!

With the suffragettes
With new friends (many-if not all-members of AMAW (Association des Maliens de Washington, DC)
Foundry United Methodist Church
Keeping it comfy in the apartment

Friday, August 10, 2012

a special guest!

picture taken on the BicycleSpace firefly ride
What are you up to this weekend?  Memaw is here for a visit!  We are going to take a tour of the Capitol, have dinner with friends and get a dress altered :)

Have a good one!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

smith mountain lake and the love stone inn.

 This past weekend I snuck away to meet the family (via Virginia Beach) at Smith Mountain Lake at the Love Stone Inn, a Bed & Breakfast tucked into a cove on one of the 550 miles of coastline on the lake.  Looking for trifles and treasures?  This house is full of 'em!  Some reviews on Trip Advisor are harsh but I had a delightful time (in spite of the overflowing cupboards and boundless tschokes).  Time with family, lots of snacks, a houseboat and time for naps?  My kind of weekend.  I'm also reading Cold Sassy Tree, which is making me feel super-southern and speak with a twang....

Here are some of my favorite pictures and a little video I put together of our trip.  And as though this past weekend wasn't enough excitement, I have a surprise guest coming to DC on Friday!

breakfast crew
Sheri the adventurer!
i love this one
the vacation wouldn't be complete without a group Skype call to Abdoulaye!
see more pictures from our trip here!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the olympic spirit.

paper flower bouquets (from old magazines and trash paper) and our olympic medals. 
Maybe it's the lack of a television in my home.  Maybe it's a lack of sports passion.  All I know is I wasn't in the Olympic spirit.  All that changed when Office Olympics became the topic at the water cooler.  Putt-putt, nerf basketball and sack racing?  My kind of competition!

Soon after starting at WRI I learned about the fun committee.  Party planning and merry making?  Count me in!  My first party collaboration was working with WRI Office Olympics and my responsibility was to coordinate the paper bouquet making (a task created more out of my desire to make them than a real need for them) and to help set-up.  I threw in my potato-sack racing participation to be a good sport :)

Cassie asked me if I would compete at the event and I said how I'm so not competitive - but maybe I'll try the sack racing.  But when I put my feet in that white flour sack - something changed inside me and all I wanted was to cross that broken-door piece finish line.  See below for some pictures from the event!  Thanks to everyone who made WRI Office Olympics 2012 such a delight - and my colleague for snapping pictures of me that continue to make me laugh out loud.
ping pong (table tennis for the pros) was neck-to-neck with putt-putt for competitors
with water and sand traps - a take-no-prisoners green.
potato sack races.  i've totally got my serious face on. 
jet propulsion or someone tripped me.  i think the former.  
And now for real Olympic athletes like Daba Modibo Keita who is representing Mali at the 2012 London Olympics and Virginia Beach's Gabby Douglas in gymnastics (she competes today!).   Will they bring home the gold??

What's your favorite Olympic sport?   Have you ever been?  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

amadou and mariam.

Image Source
Amadou is led on stage and his guitar is placed over his shoulders by a man with a black beret and all black outfit.  He places one hand on the body of the guitar and the other on the neck, finding his place on his instrument before securing his place in front of the microphone.  Mariam is similarly led on stage, her large, gold jewelry catching the strobing theater lights and her deep red bazin outfit heavily embroidered with gold thread shimmering.  Both wear sunglasses as they likely do most of the time since they are blind.  "Do you feel alright?  Are you OK?"  Amadou shouts into his microphone.  "Yeahhhhh!!!" the crowd shouts back.  "Let's go!"

After passing through security at the 9:30 Club, I follow the crowd of people into the club area and take a spot on the dance floor next to Cassie.  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) from Mali and fellow World Resources Institute employees mill around (among the hundreds of other people not in those two groups :) and we call out to one another - hey!  It's been awhile!  Some folks are decked out in full Mali outfits - others with just a bit of jewelry flair or a tailor-made wax-print shirt.  Everyone is excited for the show to begin as Amadou and Mariam kick off the US leg of their summer tour.  Drinks in hand, the lights dim to black and the stage lights switch on.  Like most concerts the crowd goes wild and the show is on. 

Amadou and Mariam are a couple from Mali who have been singing together since 1983 (check out their facebook page - their 'cover' picture is like Abdoulaye's and my photo at the top of this page :).  They were sweet live (I'd never seen them perform) and the nearly sold-out house couldn't get enough of their Mali charm.  Cheick Hamala Diabate made an appearance on stage to shower the band with dollar bills (I don't know the background of this or what the official protocol is surrounding it, but often in Mali, especially in Bamako, you throw money on performers to show your support) and the women who led Mariam onstage carried Mariam's pocketbook with her at all times - a very Malian thing to do (not letting your pocketbook just sit somewhere whereas I feel like in the US women would throw their bag on a chair and not worry about it).  All in all - a great evening where I heard some rockin' tunes and reconnected with a number of Mali RPCVs and friends past and present.

Cassie and I remarked that while it was awesome to be at the show, it also made us miss Mali more than we already do.  Good to have reminders like tonight of the reasons why Mali is so wonderful and to be surrounded by a room full of people with varying degrees of attachment to a country we called home (and still do, really) for so long.  So do I feel alright?  Do I feel OK?  I'm not bad - bassi te yan.  No problems here.

I love the remix of this song, seen in the video below.  What do you think?

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