Thursday, March 30, 2023

Get Out! Last Few Days to See the Five Planet Parade

Image from
by Peggy Robin

The Five Planet Parade -- also called an alignment -- started at the beginning of the week and is continuing every night through the end of the week. On a clear, dark night, five planets - Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Uranus - will form an arc that you should be able to see with the naked eye in the westerly sky, as long as you are away from any light pollution, tree cover, or other obstructions.

If you have a telescope or a good pair of binoculars the view will be even better. And, as Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang, remind us, "don’t forget to take a peek at the moon, too!" (Quoted in "How to watch 5 planets align in the night sky this week" in the Washington Post.

If you miss it in real life, you can see it on video at (scroll down to the video) or watch directly on YouTube at: 

Want a bit more technical information on how to view the alignment, plus some background and a lot of other science-y-stuff? Best site I've found is this one:    

You may want to download the Sky Tonight star watching app on your phone to have with you if you go out to a field with binoculars. That way you'll know which way to face and what you're seeing. Learn more about the app here: 

What if you miss the Planet Parade entirely? Never fear! There's always next the year 2040! Starwalk News tells us what to expect 17 years on:

"On September 8, 2040, five naked-eye planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) will be within a circle of 9 degrees in the sky. The crescent Moon will also be visible, positioned between Venus and Saturn. The best time for observations will be around 19:30 local time. (Source:


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

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Still Life with Robin: How to enjoy PEAK BLOOM without getting elbowed in the ribs....or worse!

by Peggy Robin

It's the time you love or the time you dread....PEAK BLOOM of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin. Why love? It's spectacular! It's romantic! It's glorious! it's a 111-year old tradition!

Why love? In addition to blossoms, you may well see marriage proposals in progress or even an actual wedding -- and maybe more than one wedding photography shoot!

Why dread? In the course of walking around the narrow Tidal Basin pedestrian path, I have nearly been trampled to death by giant families of Midwesterners with SUV-sized strollers and no sense of how to share a narrow public walkway. (Yeah, and they don't stand to the right on the metro escalator, either!)

So this year I made a tactical decision not to put my senior-citizen bones at risk but instead seek safer alternatives. Let me share these with you now:

1. Alternate sites. The links below promise to let you in on a few lesser-known spots to view cherry trees in bloom -- but note that some of these "secret locations" can't possibly live up to the classification, as they appear on multiple lists!

11 Best Cherry Blossom Spots to Avoid Crowds

10 Secret Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC Like a Local without the Crowds

A 2023 Guide to Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. - Use these insider tips for visiting Washington, D.C.’s annual celebration of cherry blossoms and seeing the iconic flowers.

2. Alternative times of day: dawn /dusk. If you're going with the mission of taking good photos, you will need some tips for dealing with the position/glare of the sun as it's rising or setting. Here's an article that may help:

To be honest, these times of day will be pretty crowded, too. Maybe not as bad as the Tokyo subway at rush hour, but not exactly the Fortress of Solitude, either!

3. Bloom cam! Watch the cherry blossom trees in real time from the comfort of your own home on #Bloom cam : - or bypass Twitter and go directly to:

Here's more about #BloomCam:

#BloomCam, brought to you by the Trust for the National Mall, in partnership with the National Park Service and Earthcam, is a 24/7, live, real-time view of the cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin, one of the most popular and iconic sites in Washington, DC. Positioned on the Salamander Washington DC rooftop, #BloomCam offers year-round views of the cherry trees and their seasonal changes to viewers worldwide and is highlighted here during Bloom Watch as we await the peak blooms.

4. Deja vu all over again. I think I have found the simplest --and certainly the easiest!-- way to enjoy the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin: Just open a saved photo album from your digitial photo archive and enjoy all the photos you've taken in years past. I must tell you, my old photos look just like the ones I'd take if I were at the Tidal Basin today. Nothing changes except the size of the crowd! These photos are timeless. And I  can enjoy a completely private viewing experience; I don't even have to get out of my chair. Don't have your own collection? No probs! The Smithsonian archive has thousands upon thousands of historic images for you to browse at your leisure -- go to: 

However, if none of this deters you and you are bound and determined to visit the cherries in these last few days of Peak Bloom, please do feel free to share your photos with the Listserv! In order to keep within the technical settings for images on the listserv, make sure your photos are in .jpg format and under 500 KB in size (that's 0.5 MB, max). If you'd like to share more than that, I advise creating a photo album on a file-sharing site, such as DropBox, GoogleDrive, iCloud, etc. -- and be sure to set it to "public sharing" -- and send the link to your shared album in your message to . 

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

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Get Out! And fly a kite at the Blossom Kite Festival on the Mall, Sat 3/25, 10am-4:30pm



Spring on the fun at the Washington Monument Grounds 
with activities, music, competitions, and performances. 
Kite enthusiasts, beginners, families, and friends are 
all welcome – bring your own kite, purchase one onsite, 
or pick up a free kite kit that you can decorate onsite, 
courtesy of presenting sponsor Hilton.

Let's go fly a kite at the 56th annual Blossom Kite Festival 
on the National Mall! 
Bring your own kite, purchase one on-site, or pick up a free kite kit that you can decorate. Kite enthusiasts, beginners, families, friends, young and old -- all are welcome. Furry friends also welcome!

The 2023 Blossom Kite Festival will feature: 



Sponsored by Hilton
National Anthem & Patriotic Kite Fly: 10 AM
Welcome Remarks: 10:10 AM
Kite Ballets: 10:45 – 11:15 AM
Featured Fliers Demo #1: 11:15 – 11:45 AM
Mikio Toki Kite Fly/Demo: 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM
Hot Tricks Showdown: 12:15 – 1 PM
Featured Fliers Demo #2: 1 – 1:30 PM
Adult Kite Makers Competition: 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Featured Fliers Demo #3: 2:30 – 3 PM
Rokkaku Battle: 3 – 4 PM
Awards and Kite Arch: 4 – 4:30 PM


Sponsored by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. (OAPI)
Practice Fly for Youth Kite Makers: 10:45 – 11:30 AM
Youth Kite Makers Competition: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Youth Kite Makers Awards: 12:30 – 1 PM
Benjamin Franklin Story Time: 1 – 1:15 PM
Nats Racing Presidents Bol Race: 1:45 – 2 PM
Bol Races & Guava Jelly Musical Performances: 2 – 4:30 PM

Free Japanese Taiko Drum Performances: 12 - 5 PM

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

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Still Life with Robin: Sunrise, Sunset

 by Peggy Robin

Lately I've been struck by the extraordinary number of colorific photos of sunrises and sunsets posted by the DC photographers I follow on Twitter. Normally, around this time of year, I expect to see an amazing array of cherry blossoms images digitally captured and tweeted -- and I haven't been disappointed -- but these vivid sunrise/sunsets have been an unexpected pleasure. Is it that climate change has brought us more intense reds at dawn and purples at dusk? I'm hoping that's not the reason, but in any event, I can take pleasure in the season (unintentional rhyme!)

Here's just a small sampling of what's been in my Twitter feed:

Jeannie in D.C. @RiverGirl707
#Moonrise and #Sunrise 
Alicia Allison  @AAinDC
Morning commuter inspection - almost there
Peter Forister ❄️💨❄️@forecaster25
Beautiful optics over Virginia this morning! #vawx
Diane @DianeKrauthamer
Sunset, Georgetown 
David @Davides81
GM happy weekend Every1
Video at Tidal Basin
Frank Sellin @franksellin
Good evening, #DC Next to Douglas Memorial Church on H St NE
Cherry blossoms underway this morning at the #TidalBasin while many buds wait to burst forth.
Kevin Ambrose @dcstormchaser
A few cherry blossoms at dawn
Sunrise and moonrise together
Sunrise time-slice

Good morning and good evening to all!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Get Out! The Wharf DC is hosting a full day of St Patrick's Day festivities....a day late, Sat, March 18

Well, St. Patrick's Day will have come and gone once you turn the calendar page past March 17 -- but don't tell that to the people who run the festivals at the Wharf in Southwest DC. Here's the full schedule of their St. Patrick's Day festivities on the 18th:

The Wharf and Kirwan's Irish Pub are bringing the luck of the Irish to the waterfront with our free Ireland at The Wharf festival! Enjoy all the fun of a true Irish festival with Guinness beer, Irish coffee from Praline Bakery, whiskey, bands and bagpipers.

All ages welcome - no admission fee. Must be 21+ to consume alcohol. Slainte!

12:00pm — The Guinness Beer Garden opens on District Pier and the DCFD Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band begins to march from Kirwans Irish Pub to District Pier! View the Piper Parade Map. Learn how to play Gaelic Football with DC Gaels.
12:30pm — The 19th Street Band performs on the District Pier Stage.
1:00pm — Visit the Jameson Rugby Lounge on District Pier to watch the Six Nations Rugby Championship as Ireland takes on England.
2:00pm — Enjoy an authentic Irish dance performance by the McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance.
2:15pm — Poehemia performs on the District Pier Stage.
Piper Parade at DC Wharf
3:45pm — Boyle School of Irish Dance takes the stage to perform an authentic Irish dance.
4:00pm — The McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance performs an Irish dance on the Transit Pier Floating Stage.
4:15pm — Ben-David Warner Band performs on the District Pier Stage. The bar will still be open!


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

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Still Life with Robin: Spring ahead....and if you were hoping it's for the last time, keep hoping!

by Peggy Robin

Here's your friendly reminder to set your clocks forward one hour (that is, if you still own any that need to be manually reset!) before you go to bed tonight.

But wait! Maybe you were thinking, "Hey, didn't Congress (in the previous term) vote to eliminate the clock change? Once we spring ahead, is that it? We stay on DST forever?" 

Well, no. You may be forgiven for not following all the ins-and-outs of the bill, called "The Sunshine Protection Act." In fact, I was pretty confused about it myself -- even though this is one of those issues I've been following for quite a few years -- and it's also something I've been advocating, almost my whole adult life. Still, I wasn't sure about what had happened to the bill -- which I thought had passed -- until I read the story in the Washington Post this morning. 

The short answer is: The bill passed the Senate and then at the last minute, was killed in the House. But the story is much more complicated than that, and the bill is not dead yet....but as we're on the brink of losing an hour, I find I don't have the time to give you the full account; let me just refer you to the Post article and you can read all about it in your own good time: 

Online as "Permanent daylight saving time: The clock is ticking in Congress" 
In the Saturday print edition on page one with the more intriguing headline "The days may be numbered for our vexing clock ritual."

If you want to know why I'm among the 57 percent of Americans who want to ditch the twice-yearly clock change (44 percent preferring to go on permanent DST; 13 percent choosing permanent standard time), you can go back to my Still Life with Robin polemic in the subject, from March 2014, "Down with DST!"
Or you can go even further back to November 2011 to read Bill's novel proposal for DC to opt out:
"DC to World: We're No Longer Turning Our Clocks Back"

Do you find all this drama a tempest in a clockwork? Then you might want to amuse yourself and your friends with some fun facts about DST, as brought to you in this short video by NBC4Washignton:

And here's a nice little ditty to close out this column:
"Does anybody really know what time it is?" (Chicago)
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Get Out! And Celebrate Pi Day

by Peggy Robin
Attention, all you math nerds who love irrational numbers - and all who love PIE: Your favorite day is fast approaching! It's almost PI DAY, which falls, of course, on 3.14 -- and if you want to be precise, arrives exactly at 1:59 and 26 seconds -- that's this coming Tuesday.   
What do you do to celebrate PI DAY?
You bake a pie, any type from pizza to pecan to pumpkin to decide! And you decorate the top with the Greek letter π. 

Like this: 

Some people celebrate Pi Day by putting a pie pan on their head as a hat, running outside on the afternoon of 3.14 at precisely 1;59 and 26 seconds, and they start shouting out all the digits of Pi as far as they've been able to memorize them. You can also sing the Pi song: (Memorize it and you'll know Pi to 100 digits!)
And now for what really makes a holiday festive! Presents! Well, the things below are not entirely free, but you will get some pretty good discounts!
7-Eleven is offering a whole pizza for just $3.14 (in-store only) on 3.14:
Sbarro Pizza - Join their rewards program and you can get a free XL slice of NY-style pizza with the purchase of a drink. Find your nearest Sbarro location at:
Whole Foods Market / Amazon Prime members will get $3.14 off whole large-size cherry and apple pies from the Whole Foods Market Bakery on 3.14. (No other pie flavors, brands and sizes are included in the offer.) This deal is only available for in-store purchases, and you must identify as a Prime member to receive the discount.
Uno's Pizzeria and Grill at Union Station will give you an individual-sized, thin-crust cheese pizza for $3.14 on 3.14.
More PI Day deals at:
Have a hap-PI Day!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.