Today: a list

  1. Awake at 4am, lulled back to sleep by the rain.
  2. Spent much more than I planned at the Dupont market – buffalo burgers, strawberries and more strawberries, broccoli, ZUCCHINI, golden beets, chive blossoms, salad, rhubarb, and basil.
  3. Finished the rest of the grocery shopping, made pesto, dramatically reorganized the fridge to make 2 shelves work (used to have 3 but one broke), and cleaned the kitchen and bathroom – all before noon!
  4. Drove all the way to Cherrydale Hardware only to find no 4oz jelly jars.  Bought lids and Taco Bell.
  5. Prepped and canned four pints of strawberry-rhubarb jam.  Scraped the pan with some bread from the market.  Even better than last year’s batch.
  6. Transplanted the herbs and the lime tree.  Planted lavender seeds – would really, really like it if my kitchen smelled like lavender year round.
  7. Dinner: spare ribs braised in this and that, broccoli with an amazing vinaigrette, glass of Garnacha.
  8. Sleepy E.

Friendo visit, part I

Erin Fae was here for a couple of days, which was so nice! After every friendo visit, I find myself commenting on how wonderful it is to just sit around and talk with no expectation of doing anything more – just being together and friend-y is enough! This was definitely the case with Erin’s visit.

Last night, in the midst of a torrential downpour, I met Erin at Artomatic for a little while.  This was my first time attending Artomatic, so I wasn’t sure what to expect – nor was Erin, who thought from the name that it might have something to do with vending machines dispensing small works of art.  Instead, it is nine floors of art and performance in a big empty building in SE with a great view of the Capitol, the ballpark, and the Anacostia River.  There were a few things I liked a great deal in the four floors I toured – and a lot of mediocre stuff.  We loved the Peeps dioramas and I loved Tigerflight‘s owls (of course).  I’d like to go back when I’m not quite so tired and can take it all in – and perhaps see a band and get a cocktail as well.

This morning, we three bleary eyed kids had Crop-to-Cup coffee from Erin’s co-op, ate delicious pancakes with rhubarb compote and amazingly sweet strawberries, and then went to the ZOO!  Erin was extremely excited about seeing pandas, and the pandas didn’t disappoint – we got there just after they’d been given bamboo, so we watched the fat bears chomp away for a while.  Chomp chomp chomp.  I squealed like a little girl about the baby anteater (no, not this one), and in general thoroughly enjoyed the perfect weather and the presence of friendos – though not the presence of OMG GIANT OVERSIZED STROLLERS EVERYWHERE.  It was also good to see the new elephant habitat well underway – once complete, the thing is going to be giant and amazing, and I’m happy for that!

Wedding FAQ Part I

Since I said yes, a lot has happened! Since many people have asked, and since we’ve made some plans, it’s time for an update.

Wedding Stuff So Far

Have you set a date?

Yes! We’re getting married October 10, 2009. That’s a little less than five months from now.

Are you getting married in Illinois?

No. We didn’t want to plan a wedding somewhere where we weren’t living, and we also didn’t want to have someone else plan our wedding for us (and also spend our money for us). We’re getting married in Alexandria, just a couple of miles from where we’re living right now.

Specifically, we’re getting married at Fort Ward Park. Fort Ward is the site of a Civil War Museum, which is surrounded by beautiful park areas, an amphitheater, and picnic sites. We’ve rented a quiet picnic area with lots of trees and sunlight – but also a shelter in case it rains. In addition to picnics and the museum, however, Fort Ward Park also hosts living history events – and on our wedding day, it will be the site of a living history event about Civil War munitions. That’s right – there will be CANNONS at our wedding (or at least nearby).

Why aren’t you getting married in a church?

My family belongs to an Evangelical Free church, and Shane’s family are Jehovah’s Witnesses. When we go, we attend services a United Methodist church. If we wished to be inclusive and respectful of our families, getting married in a church wasn’t possible.

What’s your wedding day going to be like?

Very informal. When we sat down to talk about our wedding, we had a much easier time coming up with things that we didn’t want – rather than things that we did want. Things on our “not list” included:

  • Flower arrangements
  • Veils
  • Attendants
  • Courtesy invites

We want our wedding day to be fun and casual – a day to celebrate our partnership but also our relationship with our families and loved ones. Because of this, the Big American Wedding – referred to sometimes as a byproduct of the “Wedding Industrial Complex” – wasn’t an option for us. We didn’t want the sort of day where our loved ones spend a bunch of money on travel and gifts to spend the day not really getting to spend any time with us while we go through motions that aren’t really important to us. In addition, because we’re paying for everything ourselves and are planning on a short timetable, we couldn’t afford the whole ridiculous shebang even if we wanted it.

Instead, we’re keeping it small and sweet and inexpensive. We’re going to have snacks and play croquet. We’re going to be married by a friend or family member. We’re not spending exorbitant amounts on clothes or flowers. We’re having our reception at a local restaurant, and instead of a cake, we’re getting cupcakes from the coffee shop down the street from our apartment. The money we spend on our wedding site and reception will go back into the community. We’re keeping our guest list extremely small so that we can spend time with those who share the day with us.

Can I come?

It’s not uncommon to have 200+ people at a conventional American wedding. My sister is getting married in July, and she’s having well over 100 guests. This type of function is expensive to host, and expensive to attend, especially if you have to travel across the country, paying for travel, lodging, meals, and all of that. Because of this, and because of the type of wedding we want to have, we’re restricting our guest list to our immediate families and a few close friends. Our parents have offered to host open houses for us in Cleveland and Rockford later in the year, which will give us an opportunity to spend time with our friends from other parts of the country.

So, in short: please don’t be hurt if you’re not invited to the wedding itself. We’re inviting literally about 30 people, and will do our best to include our loved ones in other ways wherever possible. We appreciate the love and support that we’ve received from all of our friends and family and would have all of you here with us if we could – but we can’t, and we hope you understand.

End of an Era

after school, in shadow


LEEP away game from 52

Started school, got a great job, felt like I’d finally figured it all out, took some library classes but was much more into the social informatics-type stuff and also my job my job my job. Went to France, dated some, felt pretty alone but also more like myself than ever before, applied to the doctoral program.



e's thinking about grad school process

Started dating Shane, met a bunch of fantastic people, walked the Camino, lost weeks of my life to Moodle, started the doctoral program, got a for real job with the longest title ever, broke my arm, became a master of science!


ITO Crew

Launched Moodle, left the doctoral program, walked at graduation, nationwide job hunt for both of us while working full time and taking three classes, moved to DC, started at the library, took a semester off.

Day 205 - 2/13/08

Day 309 - 5/27/08

Metadata, classes at GW, felt disconnected but actually able to do research at work, had an epiphany and put together a thesis project that addressed practical work and also my research interests, read and worked and collected data, hated job.



Last class, six weeks of frantic writing and revising, defense and Kams, and now….?

important information for everyone at uiuc

To: Faculty, Staff, Students
From: Robert D. Palinkas, M.D.
Director, McKinley Health Center
Subject: Handshaking at Commencement

Because of ongoing concerns about the possibility of spreading the flu virus, students receiving degrees and their families should not shake hands at Commencement if they have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection such as fever and cough.

McKinley Health Center will provide hand sanitizer on the platform at the Assembly Hall ceremonies so that graduates can, if they wish, use it before and/or after receiving their degrees. Members of the official platform party also are encouraged to use the hand sanitizer provided.

Everyone is encouraged to observe the other guidelines to reduce the risk of infection, such as covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose; and washing hands frequently.

Robert D. Palinkas, M.D.

This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chancellor

30 things

When I was 24, I made a list of 30 things to do by age 30.  I turned 29 in January, so I have 8 months to go and quite a list up ahead of me.  Italicized items are the ones I’ve finished.

30 by 30

1. spend a summer abroad.
2. go to morocco.
3. spend a week in paris in the springtime.
4. take a vacation on each coast
5. see a show on broadway.

6. finish (or start, for that matter) graduate school.
7. read don quixote.
8. learn spanish.
9. have something published.
10. learn arabic.

Goals with tangible results:
11. finish the quilt grandma and i started when i was 10.
12. have a successful vegetable garden.
13. knit socks.
14. paint a room red.
15. develop a “signature” dish or menu.

16. go camping and keep my freaking out to a minimum.
17. follow a band on tour (again).
18. win at pub quiz.
19. stay out clubbing til the sun comes up.
20. attend a “black tie” event.

Personal ‘improvement’:
21. build a fun yet professional wardrobe.
22. get some sort of computer certification.
23. build credit.
24. learn to live on a budget.
25. join a gym (and go regularly).

Defying easy categorization:
26. fall in love.
27. win an award.
28. have a well-stocked wine cellar.
29. perform music in some sort of live setting (not karaoke).
30. have a child.

2009 Walk for the Animals

This Saturday, Shane and I will be walking in the 14th Annual Walk for the Animals in support of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.  We adopted Mina from the AWLA, and the AWLA was very kind to us when Sid was so very sick.

I had a bit of a moral dilemma in writing this post and asking for donations for one reason: the AWLA isn’t a “no-kill” shelter.  In addition to being an animal shelter, they are also animal control for the county, so they take in all animals – sick, healthy, abandoned, surrendered, etc.  Having been in the facility a number of times in the last year – with Sid when she was so sick, again to pick up her ashes, buying various supplies for the cats, donating household items, looking for a new kitty, adopting Mina, and visiting other kitties when we were in the neighborhood – I can echo the comments of the reviewers on Yelp.  The AWLA is clean, staffed by kind and caring doctors and volunteers, and provides services like microchipping to the community.  Animals are kept in clean and comfortable cages, and are given lots of love and attention.  There are quiet areas for play and cuddling.

If you have spent any time with Shane and I, you know that we love our cats to pieces, and that we did everything we could for Sid when she was sick.  We volunteer for a no-kill shelter, and I feel conflicted about the fact that the shelter spends thousands of dollars on surgeries for individual cats – when that same amount of money could provide for the spaying or neutering of 80 cats at the AWLA.

It makes me sad that not every animal can be saved.   I did some looking around for information about no-kill shelters, and PETA reports that no-kill isn’t always the best option.  From PETA’s website: “Open-admission shelters are committed to keeping animals safe and off the streets and do not have the option of turning their backs on the victims of the overpopulation crisis as “no-kill” shelters do. No one despises the ugly reality of euthanizing animals more than the people who hold the syringe, but euthanasia is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave the world.”  I worry about the quality of life for the animals in either situation – kill or no-kill.

I choose to support both organizations with my time and money, because I believe both are doing the best they can.  I believe in the work that both are doing, and I believe they are both good causes.  I know that many animals have gone to wonderful homes.  I didn’t intend for this post to be about kill or no-kill shelters – but I felt like if we were asking for money, we should be up front about an aspect of shelters that some may be concerned about.

If you have a couple of extra bucks for a good cause, please consider supporting our team – Team Pettu – in this year’s Walk.   If you’re in the area, think about joining our team!  It was a nice way to spend an hour or two, even in the rain.

Thank you for considering a donation – and for supporting us!

P.S. If you have a couple of extra bucks for a good cause but would prefer to support people, please consider supporting our team for the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure.  My friend Tina and I will be running as Team Helpful Paws.