Saturday, May 25, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Stumpy, The Final Farewell

by Peggy Robin

Stumpy, the Little Cherry Tree That Could, is no more. 

I've written about Stumpy seven times in this space but for the Final Farewell, I can't do better than the lovely tribute/obituary that aired on NBC News4WashingtonNBC News4Washington yesterday (May 24, 2024):

View the full video here:

....and for a deeper appreciation of Stumpy's life and times, be sure to click on the 3 previous News4 videos embedded in the well as the still photos, tweets and the Tiktok .

Why Stumpy, the ‘Little Cherry Tree That Could,' can't be transplanted — and how he'll live on anyway

Goodbye, Stumpy: DC's favorite little cherry tree to be removed from Tidal Basin

Meet Stumpy, the Little Cherry Tree That Could

Here's the text-only version:

After years of blooming despite all odds, the little cherry tree that could ... can't anymore.

Stumpy is dead.

We knew this day was coming: that Stumpy's time with us was coming to a close. 

The National Park Service gave us plenty of warning during peak bloomwhen they told us rehabilitation of the Tidal Basin seawall would require the removal of more than 100 trees, Stumpy included, sometime this spring.

We even knew it made scientific sense. Stumpy's home in the gentle but relentless flooding between the Ohio Drive Bridge and the Jefferson Memorial wasn't a good place for any tree.

 "If you look to the left around the bend of the Tidal Basin that goes towards the Jefferson Memorial, there are no trees left there," Mike Litterst, National Park Service spokesperson, told us in March. "Because all of those trees that suffered the same inundation of water died, and were removed several years ago."

Still, Stumpy survived. Until Friday morning, when he became just a stump.

D.C. residents visiting the Tidal Basin mid-morning on Friday were met with an empty space where Stumpy once stood.

That Stumpy survived for so long under hostile conditions is a testament to just how miraculous he was. And we knew he was miraculous going back to 2020, when a Reddit user posted Stumpy's portrait to r/WashingtonDC and said the tree was as dead as his love life.

"Mostly dead, it's slightly alive," responded one commenter, seemingly referencing the famous scene with Miracle Max from the 1987 film "The Princess Bride."

It's a fitting message, and one that summarizes Stumpy well: It's not over until it's over.

That post was made on Feb. 26, 2020 — little more than two weeks before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and institutions around the world closed indefinitely.

At a time when we all needed a little hope, it's no surprise that users latched onto Stumpy, posting updates as his few threadbare branches bloomed that spring. If Stumpy could make it through a brutal March 2020, maybe we could, too.

Then he did it again in 2021. And again. And again. And again, despite being essentially just a bark framework, barely transmitting nutrients to the few branches that bloom every spring, "and not much else," according to Litterst.

"There is no interior trunk," Litterst told us in March. "People ask us, 'You know how old that tree is?'   

There literally aren't any rings for us left to count on the interior of the tree."   A tree, blooming as it should, standing tall and beautiful — that's lovely, but unremarkable.

But a friendly little shard of bark, struggling to live in conditions outside its control, and doing it anyway? That's relatable.

With each successive bloom, Stumpy's fame grew.

By this March, when the NPS announced he would have to go, he was loved enough to inspire marathon mascot costumes, calendars, T-shirts, cards, whiskey tributes and visits from diplomats.

The Japanese embassy posted a photoJapanese embassy posted a photo of their visit during peak bloom: three diplomats, all bowing to show respect to a half-dead tree holding court on the Tidal Basin, with the Washington Monument in the distance.

It's because Stumpy was so ragged that we loved him so much.

A tall tree, blooming as it should, standing beautiful and high above it all — well, that's lovely, but unremarkable. But a friendly little shard of bark, struggling to live in conditions outside its control and hostile to its existence, and doing it anyway? That's relatable.

We are all Stumpy: proof that life can not only continue, but thrive, in a way, when and where it doesn't feel like it should.

But then came the news: The Tidal Basin seawall has to be repaired. That can't happen while the cherry trees in the area remain. And if it's not repaired, the slow sinking of the seawall will kill the trees anyway, and prevent the NPS from planting any more.  

But Stumpy could leave behind a legacy of new trees.      

Before Stumpy was removed, horticulturists from the U.S. National Arboretum were tapped by the NPS to collect clippings from the tree.

The tree experts at the Arboretum's headquarters in D.C. and their satellite location in McMinnville, Tennessee will prep those clippings for propagation.

With the care of determined scientists and the luck of Mother Nature, those clippings will continue growing into baby trees, which — two or three years from now — will be planted back along the Tidal Basin.

"The process takes a long time," Piper Zettel, one of those arboretum horticulturists, told us. 

"Trees grow very slow. So we need to be patient."

And, a couple more years after that, maybe with the same stubborn spirit that kept Stumpy himself alive, those Stumpy clones will also bloom with beautiful cherry blossoms we can all enjoy.

Stumpy as Stumpy 2.0 won't look the way we knew him in 2024. Those trees will be healthy and will live in along a Tidal Basin free of flooding. The original Stumpy will become mulch, which will decompose and nourish the roots of those children in their new home. (It's possible "The Circle of Life" will play softly in the background during the process ... at least in our minds.)

We were lucky enough to know and love Stumpy the first time around, however brief that was. We all witnessed the unique confluence of circumstances that created his rise to fame and necessitated his end. In the end, even if we can't recognize him, even if he's in a different form entirely, Stumpy will be still there.

What do you do when a symbol of hope and resilience has to go?

The answer, it seems, is more hope, and more resilience. You mourn. You remember, and share stories. You laugh. And then you rebuild.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Get Out! FREE Memorial Day Concert at the Capitol, Sunday, The National Memorial Day Parade Is Back on Monday, May 27

by Peggy Robin

Sunday, May 28 at 8 PM: 

West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | First Street NW/SW
The National Memorial Day Concert honors our country’s veterans, service men and women and military families.
Video preview with information about celebrity hosts and performers at or see list at
See it in person on the west lawn of Capitol grounds! FREE!
A dress rehearsal is open to the public 5/25 at 8PM.

Memorial Day Concert Airs Live on PBS

Airing on PBS or on concert website at 8PM ET. The PBS program is broadcast live at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT so that television viewers across the nation can enjoy the event together with hundreds of thousands of people on-site at the event. To be certain of the air time in your area, be sure to CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS.
Answers to all your questions about attending are at
Monday May 27 at 2 PM:
National Memorial Day Parade on the Mall starting at 2 PM

The National Memorial Day Parade returns LIVE to Constitution Avenue this Memorial Day, May 27, 2024 at 2:00 PM, with pre-parade musical performances starting at 1:00 PM!

Anthony Anderson and Drew Carey are the hosts; you can see a list of all the celebrity performers here:

Attend the parade live in person -- FREE, no tickets required -- or Click here for a list of stations and show times. You can also watch the parade streaming LIVE at the American Veterans Center’s YouTube and Facebook pages. and around the world, as the story of American sacrifice is shared from Washington, DC and beyond. 

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

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Still Life with Robin....and a few other funny animals

 by Peggy Robin

At the end of a dreary, rainy day, it's good to have something to lighten the mood. Funny animals will usually do the trick.

At least these did for me. Scroll through these and see what you think:

Thanks to Christine M. for sending along the link to this year's finalists in the Comedy Pet Photo Contest.

Here are my 3 favorites of the finalists....but it's a close call....they're all good!

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

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Get Out! Go Greek! It's the Annual Greek Festival at St Sophia's on Friday, Saturday & Sunday

by Peggy Robin

Go on Friday if you can! It's on, rain or shine, but the weather should be great on Friday -- and it's on until 10pm. 

Saint Sophia’s Greek Festival brings the best of Greek food, drink and culture to the D.C. area. An annual tradition, the festival will be held in May 17-19, 2024

Fri 4pm -10pm
Sat 12:00 noon to 10:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 noon to 7:00 PM

Live Music and Dancing (LIVE BAND BEGINS AT 5PM on FRI-SAT and 2PM on Sunday)

Every evening under the stars, enjoy live Greek music played by local musicians. Spirited festival goers are welcome to join in and dance … OPA!



(FRI- 5PM-10PM)
(SAT- 5PM-10PM)
(SUN- 2PM-7PM)

Our Greek Language School children will perform on Saturday at 4:00 PM and Sunday at 1:00PM

Byzantio Greek Folk dancers will perform on Saturday at 6:00 PM 

Food & Beverages

Saint Sophia’s festival is proud to offer a wide variety of Greek delicacies – made fresh and daily across the festival weekend.

2024 Greek Cuzina (“Kitchen”)


The Grills
Outside on the festival grounds, festival goers can sample traditional Greek sandwiches as they are freshly cooked over coal fires and burners. The line for the gyro sandwich may reach incredible lengths, but it’s worth the wait as the fresh sliced meat melds with feta and tzaziki (cucumber yogurt sauce), lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Traditional pork souvlaki (roasted on skewers) sandwiches are also a favorite as the meat is seasoned in Mediterranean spices and cooked over coal fires.


Soft drinks, water and Greek beer and wine are available from the taverna – Under the 100 ft tent.

Greek Pastry & Kaffenio (“Coffee Shop”)

Taste the nectar of the gods with Saint Sophia’s Greek pastry! From the traditional baklava with its mix of honey, walnuts and spices to more exotic finikia (spiced walnut cookies) and kataifi (shredded phyllo with honey and nuts), the pastry booth has something to tempt any sweet tooth. If you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, grab an iced frappe or traditional hot Greek coffee.

Loukoumades (“Greek Donuts”)

Served fresh and hot with drizzles of honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, the loukoumades booth prepares these treats across the weekend.


Support our youngest parishioners by buying fresh squeezed lemonade from our Little Angels children volunteer group.


The marketplace showcases vendors with wares including fine and costume jewelry, pottery and home goods, clothing, music, Byzantine icons, and a traditional Greek grocer.

Children’s Games

A variety of children’s games and activities are available across the festival weekend including balloon toys, sand art and a moon bounce.

Tours of the Cathedral

Guided tours of the interior of Saint Sophia’s Cathedral are available on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. With your guide, experience the Cathedral’s fully mosaic tiled interior, while learning about this special house of worship, Byzantine design and the Orthodox faith. CLICK HERE TO VIEW FESTIVAL MAP.

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral 2815 36th St NW, Washington DC 20007
The "Get Out!" event of the week is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Did you see it?

by Peggy Robin

Over the years I've had quite a few friends undertake elaborately planned trips to the far north in hopes of seeing the aurora borealis. Wherever they went -- Alaska, the Yukon, Finland, Iceland, Norway -- I have yet to hear of a single trip that was anything other than five nights of freezing in a cabin for maybe a fleeting glimpse of a greenish hue through the clouds. What have I learned? It can cost many thousands of dollars to see a full week of overcast skies. It's quite an expensive crapshoot; I'm sure there must be some very big winners -- it's just that I don't know any of them.

The most enamored aurora-viewer I ever encountered was an old high school classmate who went to Dartmouth and just happened to hear that the night sky was lighting up one night. He and his college girlfriend went out to a field with a blanket and a bottle of wine and spent many hours gazing up in wonder at nature's most spectacular show.

Last night was just such a spectacle for any aurora fans who were lucky enough to live in a part of the US that had clear skies and a nearby field free of urban light pollution. With just enough schedule flexibility and the ability to drive, plus the determination to get to the right spot by nightfall, you were virtually guaranteed to check this item off your bucket list (as proven in this set of tweets:

Alas, I was not one of those spontaneous aurora-chasers. But I am a great armchair traveler, and I do appreciate photos posted by others.

If you, too, get a vicarious thrill from other people's aurora-gazing, this column's for you.

First, from the Capital Weather Gang, a worthy compilation of local pix:

In the CWG compilation, this time-lapse video was my favorite:

The DC area residents who hopped into a car and drove to Charlottesville really got their money's worth:

The Blue Ridge was one of the best viewing spots: 

But Reston, VA had a pretty good show, too:

Here's one taken from the window of the plane, after taking off from DCA on the way to Chicago ORD:

Back on the ground, you could be as far south as FLORIDA and look up to see this:

Meanwhile, across the pond in England, a great landmark fell under the dancing lights:
And of course, you must see Stonehenge: 

Another European landmark that saw the light was Mt. St. Michel in northern France:

And saving the farthest away for last....New Zealand!

Sorry you missed it? You may get another chance tonight. That solar storm is really throwing some wild colors around!
Photo credit: Aurora over Grottoes, VA by Jessica Newman @jessicanewman
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Get Out! It's EU Open House Day on Saturday, May 11, 10AM - 4PM

by Peggy Robin

On Saturday, May 11, from 10 AM to 4 PM, the European Union and its Embassies will open their doors to the public for a day of culture, food, music, and more. No registration, tickets, or passport required!

This event falls every year on the first Saturday after Europe Day on May 9. This date marks the signing of the Schuman Declaration on May 9, 1950, which established the European Coal and Steel Community, a multinational entity that would eventually become the European Union as we know it today.

We celebrate Europe Day by opening our doors to the public so that Americans can catch a glimpse of the European cultures that make up the European Union. Normally you have to cross the Atlantic to visit the EU, but at Open House, you just have to cross the street!

Opening page of website:

Plan your route on Google Maps:

Embassies and Activities:

Austria & Slovakia
Two Countries – One River: Discover Austria and Slovakia, connected by the River Danube. Austria and Slovakia are neighboring countries in Europe and embassies in D.C. We will proudly present our culture, beautiful sights, famous music, as well as products. Learn about both countries, participate in a quiz to win prizes, and enjoy traditional food and drinks!

Step into the Embassy of Bulgaria for a cosmic journey through our space exhibition, featuring Earth views captured by satellites. Enjoy traditional cuisine, marvel at Shevitza embroidery, and indulge in the presentation of Bulgarian essential oils. Experience the vibrant culture with live music and dancing, uplifting spirits throughout the day!

Welcome to a country of rich cultural heritage and unique natural beauty, a gastronomic hub of both the Mediterranean and Central Europe, and take a stroll down a path teeming with historical memorabilia and sensory pleasures, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla, the neck tie, and the parachute.

Discover Cyprus — an island rich in history and culture, full of wonderful experiences just waiting to be enjoyed. Head to the Embassy of Cyprus to experience fun and hospitality — a day of knowledge, culture, and fun! Cyprus: a fusion of experiences!

Celebrate the year of Czech music through the life of Bedřich Smetana! Enjoy a folk fashion presentation, live music, a dog show, an exhibition, bounce house, beer, and food! Commemorate the 20th anniversary of Czechia in the EU and the 25th anniversary of Czechia in NATO.

Visit the Embassy of Denmark to learn about Danish design and architecture while touring the Ambassador’s Residence. Ask our colleagues about their work enhancing Danish green solutions in the United States, learn about our defence collaboration, Danish culture, language, and democracy – and taste delicious Danish beer and food!

Visit our 120-year-old building on Embassy Row — designed by Marsh & Peter Architects — which reopens after a two-year restoration! It combines authentic American architecture with modern, light-filled Nordic interiors and Estonian contemporary art specifically commissioned for the embassy.

European Union
At the EU Delegation, you will learn all about what Europe is doing to create a more sustainable home, from fashion to food. Also, catch up with the latest on the European Parliament Elections, test your skills at EU geography, and bring a spare piece of clothing to partake in a clothing swap!

France & Germany
Two countries, one venue, zero jet lag! The French Embassy’s Maison Française showcases the best of France AND Germany at this year’s EU Open House. Enjoy food, music, culture, and more in a family-friendly atmosphere with a special highlight on the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Join us at the Embassy of Greece to celebrate Europe Day by enjoying Greek music, take part in Greek dance and language workshops, and view a photo exhibition featuring some of Greece’s hidden gems.

Experience the Vizsla and Puli Hungarian breed dog show, and learn folk dancing with a live band! Come hungry to the authentic gulyás and wine bar, master the Rubik's cube with a tutorial. All is possible at the Embassy of Hungary!

Visit the Residence of Ireland to get a taste of all things Irish. Be entertained by performances from Irish dancers and traditional music, try your luck speaking Irish and playing Irish football, and learn about opportunities to explore Irish culture in D.C. and by visiting our shores!

Explore the enchanting world of Italy and immerse yourself in Italian culture and language. Bring the kids for some outdoor fun and indulge in scrumptious pizza, ice cream, and coffee! And don't forget to view the wonderful exhibition on photojournalism and the "Made in Italy" cars and motorcycles!

Experience the charm of Latvia at the historic Barney Studio House! Delve into business and study opportunities while tasting food produced by Latvian companies — all while enjoying performances of Latvian folk singers and dancers as you learn about Latvian history and tourism!

Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Embassy of Lithuania and 20th anniversary of Lithuania in the EU and NATO! Learn about our historic building,  Lithuanian music and dance, win a prize at our quiz, try some Lithuanian sweets, and much more!

Experience Luxembourg-U.S. relations then and now through emigration and a vivid exchange between their peoples. Peek inside the magnificent Embassy building, while experiencing Luxembourg City in 1957 through the eyes of an American family.

Netherlands & Belgium
When neighbors are best friends, they throw a party together! Join the Netherlands and Belgium for a special European celebration with free waffles, fries, and more yummy treats, plus refreshing drinks, outdoor games, an interactive light experience, and a dance to the rhythm of DJ music with the Smurfs.

Unlock the wonders of science and immerse yourself in the legacy of Maria Skłodowska-Curie at the Embassy of Poland! From a spectacular fashion show and captivating chemical workshops to inspiring stories of discovery, non-stop concerts, and molecular cuisine, don't miss the chance to explore the intersection of science and culture!

You can’t skip Portugal! Come and enjoy unique Portuguese dances, art, delicious food, drinks, and more! Meanwhile, get the chance to win free trips to Portugal, courtesy of TAP Air Portugal and SATA. Come visit!

Visit Romania by joining us at the Embassy! You will see one of the finest examples of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture, plus discover our traditions and culture. Through dances, exhibitions, and samplings, you can also learn about traditional Romanian performances, costumes, and dishes!

Visit the Embassy of Slovenia on May 11 for a day of lively Slovenian folk music, dance, mouthwatering Carniola sausage/klobasa, and delicious handmade potica! And this year, we're bringing a group of Kurenti — the traditional Slovenian carnival mascots — to amp up the fun! #SLOinUSA

At the Spanish Cultural Center, you’ll be able to try a wide variety of Spanish foods, enjoy Spanish graphic design, and listen to the greatest hits of Spanish music!

Ukraine (Partner Venue)
Experience the vibrant culture of Ukraine! Stop by Ukraine House to discover Ukrainian music and musical instruments, explore the art of making traditional necklaces and paintings, witness unforgettable performances by Ukrainian folk dancers, and try your hand at making mouthwatering Ukrainian dumplings, Varenyky. 

View photos from the 2023 edition of EU Open House!

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

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Why I Stay

 by Peggy Robin

All my friends and family have fled from Twitter, many leaving almost immediately after it was taken over by the evil Musk-Rat -- even before he slapped an X on it as if to rebrand it with a well-known symbol of both pornography and poison.

My friends kept predicting, as the site grew more and more toxic, that I would soon follow them, but I've stuck it out -- mainly because there is a core of tweeters who comment daily on my favorite NYT word games, Spelling Bee, LetterBoxed, Wordle, Connections. and Strands. I have followers among that crowd who depend on me for hints. I won't abandon them, despite all the falsehoods, bigotry, rage, and garbage proliferating on that site.

And there is one other reason for not jumping ship: Amid all the dross, one finds an occasional treasure. Quite often it's a stunning nature photo. Here's one I saw just yesterday (Friday, May 3), by Ted Smith @Tedsmithimages:

This makes up for a lot.

For more of Ted Smith's images, go to:

My last refuge is the hope I still hold that the Musk-Rat will lose interest, or more likely, tire of losing money, and will sell the whole thing to a more responsible party.
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Get Out! It's the 85th Annual Flower Mart at the Cathedral

 by Peggy Robin

This is the DO-NOT-MISS event of May! It's up there with the Kentucky Derby as a beloved annual tradition in May!

Start here:

Flower Mart 2024 will take place Friday, May 3rd, 10 am-6 pm, and Saturday, May 4th, 10 am-5 pm. Our theme is "In Bloom" as we celebrate the power of flowers!

We hope to have you join us for two days filled with flowers and fun in support of the Cathedral's gardens!


The beloved spring tradition is back! Join us on Friday from 10 am-5 pm and on Saturday from 10 am-6 pm at All Hallows Guild’s Annual Flower Mart, one of the biggest yearly events held at the Cathedral. There’s something for everyone!

Inside the Cathedral:
  • Check out the International Floral Display that highlights national and cultural heritage
  • Explore the Cathedral LEGO® exhibit
  • See the new Now and Forever windows

Outside the Cathedral:
  • Explore booths with garden plants, flowers, antiques, books, artisan-crafted merchandise, and more
  • Browse the Flower District and speak with expert Cathedral horticulture staff
  • Ride the family-favorite antique carousel and enjoy a dedicated Children’s Area with games and carnival rides (ride/game tickets can be purchased at nearby ticket booth)
  • Enjoy free entertainment – talented singers, dancers, musicians, and choral groups – on the Main Stage (west front steps)
  • Eat fantastic food – everything from barbecue and smoothies to funnel cakes, crepes, artisan pizza and even lobster rolls

For details about the various treasures and traditions of the Flower Mart, here are the links:

For the carousel:

For The White Elephant Sale (with so many fantastic items donated by generous Listserv members!):

For the Floral Displays from Around the World:

And of course, as always, there will be...

Free Entertainment
Throughout both days of Flower Mart, entertainers perform on the main stage in front of the Cathedral (or inside in the event of rain). We will present a wide-ranging array of talented singers, dancers, musicians, and choral groups.

Entertainment in Front of the Cathedral - Activities For Children
In addition to our carousel, Flower Mart has an entire Children’s Area with a huge array of games and carnival rides. Tickets for the carousel, rides, and games, can be purchased at the ticket booth in the Children’s Area.

Cathedral Tower Climb
The Tower Climb returns to Flower Mart this year! Experience Washington DC like never before with a climb to the top of the Cathedral towers, where you’ll experience panoramic vistas from the highest geographical point in the nation’s capital.

Please note: Prepare for rigorous activity. The Tower Climb is not for those with a fear of heights or enclosed spaces, or for those with limited mobility – stairs include both enclosed stone staircases and also open metal, spiral stairs. Participants must be at least 11 years old, and the minimum height requirement is 48 inches. Infants cannot be carried on Tower Climbs.

Great Food
Flower Mart has everything from barbecue and smoothies to funnel cakes, crepes and artisan pizza. Don't miss grabbing a lobster roll - a Flower Mart favorite!

Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Phone:(202) 537-6200
The "Get Out" event of the week is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Supervocalic Palindromatic

by Peggy Robin