Saturday, April 20, 2024

Still Life with Robin: The Problem with Porch Pirates

 by Peggy Robin

I hate porch pirates. Not just what they do, I hate what they are called. The "porch" part -- that's OK, although it implies you need to have a front porch to be a victim. "Porch" pirates are stealing from stoops, doorsteps, walkways, mail rooms, and any other conceivable place a package could be left. It's the "pirate" part that I find objectionable; however, it does seem to have caught on and is undoubtably the most widely-used term.

The Washington Post print edition just recently used that phrase in the headline of a front page story on the problem: "D.C. targets ‘porch pirates’ with sting operations and tougher penalties" (Thursday, April 19 print edition, online April 13). 
So what's wrong with calling them pirates? It's a fine old word for roving thieves, and there's a fun bit of alliteration in the P - P sound. Yes....too much fun, and that's my problem with it. Say "pirate" these days and the first thing that comes to mind might be Disney/Depp's dashing Captain Jack Sparrow or maybe Long John Silver or any of a plethora of comical villains from kiddie lit and legend. Who's afraid of Captain Hook? 

And that trivializes what is going on here. You see, it's not just luxury gadgets and overpriced non-essentials that get robbed from the rich (who can always get a prompt replacement). It's packages of vital medications. It's the one-of-a-kind heirloom quilt that your grandmother made for you, and you are shipping to your daughter to use in her new home. It's the replacement smoke detector that you'd better install before you go on vacation for two weeks. It's the specially-formulated pet food that your vet said is the only thing your poor, sick dog can digest.

It's also your sense of safety and your belief in the goodness of your fellow human beings that takes a hit, when people can just brazenly walk up to your front door and walk away with your stuff. And they keep doing it, again and again. And it's how you feel when you report the crime, and the police shrug and say, "Next time, just have your package delivered to a secure box inside the police station."

Is that how we want to live? Or, to put it more cynically, is that the best we can do?

Like the police, I have no power to make this go away. My beat isn't crime-stopping, anyway. As an editor, my expertise is with words and how we use them. So I'll limit my comments to objecting to the term "porch pirate." Here's what I prefer: the plain, descriptive, non-alliterative "package thief."

Can we make it go viral?

Oh, I wish...but I don't think so. (Remember, you can't "make 'fetch' happen.")

How does that make me feel? I will tell you in one word: AAARRRRRGH!

p.s. If you've never seen Mark Rober's "Glitter Bomb 1.0 vs Porch Pirates" video, spend 8 minutes watching. It won't help you solve the problem, but it's still very satisfying:

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Get Out! Earthy Takoma Park Is the Place to Celebrate EARTH DAY!

by Peggy Robin

The original Earth Day was declared (back in 1970) to fall on April 22 but that's a work day for most of us....and it's also the first night of Passover for a lot of us. Saturday is going to be a gloriously beautiful day, and that makes it a great day to celebrate Earth Day. And what better place than progressive, organic, solar-loving, hippy-dippy Takoma Park? And it's FREE.

What: Takoma Park Earth Day Celebration!
When: Saturday, April 20 · 10am - 2pm EDT
Where: Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park Playground, 8101 Sligo Creek Pkwy
Why: Because there is no Planet B.

In honor of Earth Month, the City of Takoma Park will host a celebration in the Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park! This event will feature 20+ exhibitors from both city departments and local environmental partners and will offer a variety of activities including free snow cones, face painting, art activities, energy efficiency prizes, and educational materials about sustainability programs for the whole family! 

Come check out the EV showcase, attend a guided tree walk, and learn about the various environmental involvement opportunities in our community. 

Rain date is Sunday, April 21st.



The "Get Out" event of the week is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Still Life with Robin: More News Is Good News

by Peggy Robin

Which do you want first, the good news? Or the other good news?

The good news is that many of the fired writers of DCist/WAMU have come together to launch a new local news outlet. I learned this in a tweet -- see below:

Elahe Izadi | الهه

NEWS: a group of former WAMU/DCist staffers are launching a "worker-led, community-based, local outlet." They want help naming it.

It's great news because, with the demise of DCist, we lost one the very best sources of local news -- leaving us in what's virtually a "local news desert" -- but now I am very hopeful that this small group of dedicated and talented journalists will create a news oasis to give us sustenance. 

And now for the other good news? They'd like our help in choosing a name! There's nothing I love so much as a good naming contest. (Here's one of the many columns I've written on that  theme:

As with most other naming contests, you're not getting a fill-in-the-blank, free-style choice; they have given you a ballot with five names and you are asked to vote for one. 

Which of these name options is your favorite? 

O  WashRag
O  DC Free Press
O  The DC Star
O  51st News
O  DCish
However, it's not that cut-and-dried. You do get some free-form space to talk about your word associations with the names, and give a reason for what you like or don't like. And I suppose, if you came up with a new name that is outstanding and hits everyone with a Eureka moment, your suggestion could just trump the pre-selected five.

So let them know how you feel....and whatever it's called, whenever it debuts, let's welcome it and cheer it on, and hope they make a go of it!

I will be sure to update you when the name is selected and the new local news site is up and running.
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Get Out! Japanese Street Festival, April 13-14 - Final Weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival 2024

 by Peggy Robin

Celebrate Japan at Sakura Matsuri Festival 2024 - This Weekend!
Japan-America Society of Washington DC’s Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival is the largest celebration of Japanese culture in the United States.
Date & Time: Saturday, April 13, 10:30 am – 6:00 pm 
and Sunday, April 14, 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Pennsylvania & Constitution Aves. between 3rd - 7th St NW Get directions

Over two days, Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival brings Japan into the heart of the Nation’s Capitol. Stretching from 3rd to 7th streets NW on Pennsylvania Ave at the base of Capitol Hill, the festival features over 24 hours of Japanese cultural performances, authentic Japanese food and beverages, handmade Japanese crafts, and so much more.

Japan-America Society of Washington DC’s Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival, along with our National Japan Bowl Japanese Language Competition, celebrate the cherry trees that Japan gifted to the United States over 110 years ago, and which have come to define springtime in the Nation’s Capitol. We are proud to join this cooperative effort alongside the Embassy of Japan, the Government of the District of Columbia, the National Park Service, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., National Conference of State Societies, and many other dedicated partner organizations. The Sakura Matsuri is proud to participate in the National Cherry Blossom Festival as a Premier Event.

Matsuri Pro-Tips

  • If attending Saturday, Try to arrive before noon or after three o’clock to avoid the post-Parade rush and potentially longer lines at the entrance gates. Buy your tickets online in advance for fastest entry.
  • If you plan to have lunch in the Taste of Japan area, grab your food early! Lines from noon to 3 can be long.There will also be a wide range of Japanese snacks available at the Matsuri Markets. You are welcome to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages into the Matsuri.
  • If you plan to watch performances, some seating will be available, but feel free to also bring a packable chair.
One Day Ticket - Advanced (available April 1 - 12)
One-day admission to the Sakura Matsuri for either Saturday or Sunday - you decide.  $15.00 Booking Fee: $0.60
Two Day Ticket - Advanced (available April 1 through 12) Admission to both days of the Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival! $25.00 Booking Fee: $1.00
The Get Out! event of the week is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Meet You at the Quill & Crumb...on Midsummer Night

by Peggy Robin

Presenting the winner of the Folger Shakespeare Library's "Name That Cafe" contest! (OK, the election result is coming to you three weeks late....but what's the rush? The new cafe doesn't open until June 21, 2024.)

It's the Quill & Crumb!

Here's the link to our February 10th Still Life with Robin/All Life Is Local column, which announced the naming contest - go to  Message   - and then see the February 20 update, available at Message  - which provided you with the link to vote for your favorite among the five selected finalists: (My vote went to Peaseblossom.)

Here's the official announcement of the winner from The Folger Shakespeare Library's website at

Update: March 14: Help us name the new Folger café

The name of the new café has been announced, and the winner is Quill & Crumb!

You responded with 1,750 witty and deeply knowledgeable ideas. Suggested many times by many people, but ultimately ruled out, were names like “Cakes and Ale,” “Falstaff,” and “Taming of the Brew.” Making us laugh were “Mugbeth,” “The Thirst Folio,” and “As You Lick It.” However, we wondered how people would feel texting friends to meet at dining establishments thusly named. Names like “Seven Snacks of Man” offered clever wordplay and a deep knowledge of the Folger building, but we worried they did not fully lend themselves to creating a welcoming dining atmosphere. Finally, though we felt it a few too many words for a café name, we need to tip our hat to “Matcha, Brew, An Oat Muffin.” Well played!

So, “To Tea or Not to Tea” (also suggested) is not the question. Our finalists included a memorable character from a beloved play, a food popular in Shakespeare’s time that he was known to favor, a key historic figure, a reference to literature and plays, and a name we thought was just on point.
  • Peaseblossom
  • Gooseberry
  • Hathaway’s
  • Prologue
  • Quill & Crumb

For even more about the new Quill & Crumb café, here's the description from the Folger's press release, dated March 14, 2024:

When the Folger Shakespeare Library reopens on June 21, 2024, after a major 4-year renovation project, visitors won’t have to leave the building in order to grab a snack or have a meal. Quill & Crumb, the new café that will be housed in the Folger’s historic Great Hall, will offer lunch, baked goods, and snacks alongside coffee and tea service during the day, and a full-service bar and light bites in the evening.

The name Quill & Crumb was the top vote-getter in a crowdsourced project to name the café. The Folger put out a public call asking for ideas for what to name the café early in February and received 1,750 suggestions. Folger staff members narrowed the list and shared five options for the public to vote on. Quill & Crumb was the overwhelming favorite, with 37 percent of the votes.

Quill & Crumb will be located in the Folger’s historic Great Hall, which was originally designed by architect Paul Philippe Cret to resemble a gallery within a 16th-century English home. The Great Hall’s strapwork plaster ceiling, oak-paneled walls, and intricately designed terracotta floors will be the setting for Quill & Crumb. Seating will be offered in three zones across the Great Hall, including tables and banquettes ideal for leisurely lunches, a middle area with high-top tables for enjoying coffee or a quick snack, and a lounge area catering to socializing over drinks or grabbing a light bite before a performance in Folger Theatre.

The café will be operated by Constellation Culinary Group, which operates a number of restaurants and eateries at cultural institutions in the U.S., including Merriweather Café at Hillwood Estate and Stir Restaurant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Constellation has envisioned a seasonal menu that includes light grab-and-go options; soups, salads, and sandwiches throughout the day; boxed lunches available to eat on the Folger’s grounds; a variety of coffees, teas, and snacks; and full bar service and small plates in the evening.
Folger Shakespeare Library: Painting of an Elizabethan feast
(Sorry, not much of this will be on the menu at the Quill & Crumb Cafe!)

Opening June 21....Isn't that Midsummer Night? I had a dream that all kinds of marvelous goings-on will happen then!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Get Out! Party on the Cleveland Park Promenade on Saturday, April 6, 4-6pm

by Peggy Robin

I'll start out by appealing directly to those reluctant to celebrate this event: Time to come together and forget any bitterness about the past.
Yes, you thought you were going to get the compromise solution -- the woonerf --that had been painstakingly worked out over years of meetings, negotiations, plans and counter-plans. The thing was even paid for, constructed, and done! And then torn up and replaced with the promenade that will be officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday.
Now that it's set in's time to stop fighting over it. 
You don't have to love it to come out and enjoy the day. It will be a fine old party. Your neighbors on all sides of the issue will be there. You can have fun, in spite of any harsh words that may have been exchanged over this topic on the Listserv (or in spite of any harsh words that the moderator may have decided not to publish!).
Here's the what, when, and why
Cleveland Park Announces Party on the Promenade:
DATE  Apr 06 2024
TIME  4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
LOCATION: MAIN STREET Cleveland Park, 3400 Connecticut Ave NW
A Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting

From Cleveland Park Main Street:

With the construction finally completed, Cleveland Park is turning its focus to celebrating its new neighborhood space – the Cleveland Park Promenade. Formerly known as the Cleveland Park Service Lane, the Promenade now boasts ample sidewalks, seating, and dining options. As spring emerges, the landscaping will take shape and blossom with native plantings and natural pollinators. To celebrate, neighbors are planning a Party on the Promenade on April 6, 2024, from 4-6pm.
We will update as we progress, but neighbors and guests can anticipate:
Ribbon-cutting (with big scissors!) by local officials and business owners along the Promenade
  • A giant thank you card for residents to sign for the construction workers
  • Live music
  • BYO Lawn Chairs
  • Happy hour specials hosted by restaurants along the Promenade:
  • Additional delightful vendors and guests to be announced in the coming weeks
  • Performances by Flamenco4Kids and School of Rock, and Foundation Fitness
CPMS Flyer
The "Get Out!" highlighted event of the week is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays

Monday, April 1, 2024

Groundbreaking announcement: NPS reaches agreement with Gov. Youngkin to move Stumpy to Alexandria

Today, April 1, 2024 Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, in a surprise early morning announcement, disclosed that he had brokered a deal with the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire and transplant the iconic little cherry tree known as "Stumpy."

In mid-March of this year, NPS unveiled plans to remove 159 cherry trees -- including Stumpy -- from the portion of the Tidal Basin where the sea wall needs to be rebuilt to control flooding. All the impacted trees were slated to be mulched, but NPS arborists had promised the public to take cuttings from Stumpy to be used to propagate multiple
Stumpy clones.

Governor Youngkin's last-minute intervention to save Stumpy was a stunner. From the governor's announcement:

"Virginia will do for Stumpy what the federal government and DC could not seem to accomplish. We will give Stumpy a new and better home in a state that values life and freedom."

The governor's plan included a proposed site for the tree's replanting -- a portion of the site in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria formerly chosen to be the site of the Monumental Arena, before the collapse of the governor's plan for Virginia to acquire the Washington Capitals hockey team and the Wizards basketball team.

According to the governor's message: "The DC Tidal Basin is no longer adequate for the needs of all the tourists who come from all over America to enjoy Stumpy in expectation of safety and convenience. There's hardly any parking, virtually no services. The entire road system around the Tidal Basin is bumper-to-bumper at peak season. I am proud to say that Virginia will lead the way out of this mess."

The governor's plan calls for Stumpy to become the centerpiece of a new broad plaza, with high-rise parking garages on both the north and south ends. The project is to be seeded with state tax dollars initially, with a contract going to the best bid for construction and management of  the parking garages. Based on an anticipated parking fee of $30/hour, Stumpy Plaza is projected to produce earnings to turn the development into a profitable venture for both the developer and the state of Virginia, in record time.

Economic stimulus packages for shops and other attractions on all sides of Stumpy Plaza will make the entire area into a booming and attractive business district, according to the plan.

There are, however, some significant logistical and technological problems that must be solved before the plan can be put into effect. The first big hurdle is to find a way to keep the aged, hollowed-out cherry tree from dying a natural death at the end of a long life. The transplant project is dependent on finding a way to preserve Stumpy in its present form.

A new and experimental preservation process is the key. Once the bloom is over, Stumpy will be moved, roots and all, to a new, state-of-the-art plant biology lab in Virginia's "Research Triangle." There, all the leaves will be removed, and the trunk and all the branches will be completely coated with a polymer preservative, which will "freeze" the entire tree into a permanent state of stasis. Samples of blossoms taken from the tree when it was in full bloom will then be processed by an AI program, and 3D models of the blossoms will be generated. From these models a 3D printer will turn out thousands of blossoms so lifelike, they will be completely indistinguishable from the natural samples on which they are based.

The computer-printed 3D blossoms will then be reattached by hand to the polymer-protected branches, resulting in a regenerated Stumpy in full and magnificent bloom -- and engineered to keep it looking that way in every season of the year, in perpetuity.

A Virginia state contract to carry out the permanent preservation of Stumpy has already been awarded to a Research Triangle bio-engineering startup called ArborTech, whose 24-year-old CEO, Charles ("Chip”) Greenbaum-Ling could not be reached for comment. 

Governor Youngkin's statement concluded with this reflection: "We may not have come away with the sports teams we hoped to bring to our state, but we will end up with something even more iconic – an enduring symbol of the can-do spirit that seems to have gone out of style in bureaucratic Washington today. We may not have Monumental, but we will have Stumpy, a Monument that we all have come to love -- and as we all know, Virginia is for lovers!"

The National Park Service did not make a spokesperson available for an interview but issued its own statement, which you can read at this link:

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Flyover Spring Flowers

 by Peggy Robin

Today's Still Life with Robin is one quick shot -- so I can go out and enjoy the beautiful day. It's this tweeted photo of a robin in flight. Taken by nature photographer Lucas Urbe, the scene is set in Central Park, NY -- but it's a scene that could just as easily be spotted today in DC. Take it from a Robin who is going out now to visit spring gardens with the family!

Enjoy the day!

lucas urbe


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Get Out! It's the Blossom Kite Festival on Saturday, March 30 on the Washington Monument Grounds

Blossom Kite Festival - FREE In-Person Event 

Date and time: Saturday, March 30 · 10am - 4pm

Rain Date: March 31, 2024 10am - 4pm

Location: Washington Monument Grounds