Saturday, May 28, 2016

Still Life with Robin: Take a Little Break

Photo by Bill Adler
by Peggy Robin

Every now and then (OK, it’s when I run out of ideas) I fill this space with links to stuff other people have posted that are either a) funny; b) amazing (but possibly photo-shopped); or c) good time-wasters whenever you need a little break. In that spirit, I present the following:

This adorable exchange on Grammarly:

What dancing en pointe looks like without toe shoes:
(Scroll down to the video time-stamped May 15 at 5:46pm)

What the moon looks like when it hits just that right point over San Francisco:

And finally, just posted on the marvelous Atlas Obscura website in time for the Memorial Day weekend, a friendly reminder not to take a selfie with seals:
And while you're on that site, be sure to click on the link to the original “No, this is not a parody” memo from NOAA:

By the way, if you are still in the mood for a bit more procrastination, stay on that Atlas Obscura website for a while and just wander around. If you happen to be flying this Memorial Day weekend, you might discover it's a good way to occupy yourself while waiting in a 3-hour TSA security line!

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Get Out! The Events Column

We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 16,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @ 

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv
Thursday May 26 from 7 - 8:30 PM, Wit’s End Puppets’ Performance: Saudade. Join President Lincoln’s Cottage and the American Immigration Council for a shadow puppet performance of “Saudade,” illuminating the immigrant experience in Washington, DC. Saudade runs 45 minutes and is intended for audiences ages 10 and up. The performance will be followed by a group discussion. Free, but registration required at At President Lincoln's Cottage - 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW.  

Friday, May 27 from 11 - 11:45 AM, Guided Garden Tour: Historic & Growing. This lively 45-minute walk with an expert traces the history and horticulture of the centuries-old trees, heirloom plants and flowers, and abundant English boxwood shrubs that thrive in the 5½-acre landscape of Tudor Place Historic House & Gardens. Learn how Tudor Place’s design reflects its Federal-period origins and how land use changed over time. See where orchards, stables, and grazing land made way for lawns, fountains and stately garden “rooms.” Learn to identify species cultivated here for two centuries, and find out how four owners cared for their estate over six generations, as Georgetown and the Federal City grew around it. Free to Tudor Place members, $10 for non-members. Walk-ins welcome, or reserve online at Tudor Place is at 1644 31st St NW. 

Friday, May 27 at 7 PM, “Protecting mankind's cultural heritage in crisis areas” - a talk by Alessandro Bianchi, with the participation of Aparna Tandon. This event is presented by the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington DC and it is part of the "Protecting our Heritage" initiative, a program supported by UNESCO and organized by the Washington Network of the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) to raise awareness on the need to act against the growing threats posed to cultural heritage by wars, international terrorism, criminal organizations, climate challenges - or more simply, by neglect. Doors open between 6 - 6:55 PM. Photo ID and QR code reservation required - go to: Free. At the Embassy of Italy, 3300 Whitehaven St NW.  

Saturday, May 28 from 11 AM - 2 PM, “Run of the Mill.” Miller Jeanne Minor and the Friends of Peirce Mill invite you to drop in and discover Washington DC's only surviving gristmill in action. Be sure and explore the exhibits and watch the film in adjacent Peirce Barn as well. Children's activities also available. Free. Peirce Mill is at the corner of Tilden Street and Beach Drive NW. Events repeat on Sunday. More info:  

Saturday, May 28 National Hamburger Non-event Day. The “Get Out!” columns strives to represent all the significant goings-on for all official and unofficial holidays in and around our neighborhood and our city, and so we were eager to find local events for National Hamburger Day on May 28. But when we scoured the internet looking for local burger joints giving out free burgers and discounts, we came up empty. Maybe it’s because our local hamburger joints are lacking in search-engine optimization for their promotions. Or maybe they are just pathetic slackers, who do not appreciate the significance of this iconic national day. Whatever the reason, the absence of any real event on this date turns this entry into the weekly fake event. Hamburger joints of DC, please do better next year!  

Sunday, May 29 at 6 PM, Artist Talk: Sweden's Mats Ek on 40 years as a Dance Rebel. Swedish choreographer and director Mats Ek will talk about his 40 years as one of the world's most renowned ballet choreographers and directors. Moderated by Sarah Kaufman, dance critic at The Washington Post. Doors 5:30 pm; Talk at 6 PM followed by a reception. Free, but RSVP to attend is required through At the House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW. 

Monday, May 30 from 10 AM - 3 PM, Memorial Day program at Lincoln’s Cottage and US Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home. Commemorate Memorial Day with guided tours of the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. Visited by President Abraham Lincoln, the Soldiers' Home National Cemetery is notable for being the first national cemetery (est. 1861) and for serving as the final resting place for John Logan, who formalized Memorial Day celebrations in 1868. Wreath laying ceremony at John Logan Mausoleum at 10 AM. Cemetery tours at 10:45 AM and 12:30 PM, Tours last approximately 30-45 minutes. Registration is free -- go to Please register at Registrants are asked to gather at the bandstand adjacent to President Lincoln's Cottage 30 minutes prior to each scheduled event, so that Cottage staff can lead them over to the nearby Soldiers' Home Cemetery. President Lincoln's Cottage is at 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW.  

Tuesday, May 31 at 10 AM, A Conversation with Martin Baron. The hero of the Oscar-winning Best Picture of the Year is Martin Baron, now the executive editor of The Washington Post. From The Post's new offices on K Street, Baron directs coverage of Washington, the nation, and the world in a brutal business environment of competition and change. On his watch, Baron has welcomed home a reporter extracted from an infamous Iranian prison and added three Pulitzer prizes to his previous seven. His broad experience in the trenches of many of the nation’s leading newspapers has shaped the man who has been called the best editor in America.  As journalists scramble to cope with a society that is already digital and increasingly mobile, his managing perspective includes this warning: adapt or fail. He will be interviewed by 30-year veteran Post reporter and editor Judy Havemann. This program is a presentation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at American University. Free. In the Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW,   

Tuesday, May 31 from 7:30 - 8:30 PM, "Labyrinth Journeys" - documentary film premiere. Filmmaker Cintia Cabib presents her documentary, "Labyrinth Journeys" a half-hour film telling  the stories of adults, teenagers and children who walk the labyrinth at seven locations in the Washington, DC metropolitan, showing how they use this ancient pathway as a tool for healing, rehabilitation, meditation, stress reduction, spiritual awareness, and playful exploration. Free admission. At Washington National Cathedral's Charles A. Perry Auditorium, 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW. For details about the event, visit   

Wednesday, June 1 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM, Why Knowledge Matters: The Need for a Rich Curriculum, from the Earliest Grades. Featuring Dan Willingham, a noted cognitive scientist and professor at the University of Virginia. Willingham will discuss the role of history, social studies, science, and the arts in educating students who are strong readers, can think critically, and solve problems - the kinds of skills that we hope our kids will take from their schooling and bring into their post high school academic, civic, and employment lives. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education and the State Board of Education are poised to consider revisions to DC’s current accountability rules and to high school graduation standards. The question of what is fundamental to students’ education is a critical one. At McKinley High School, 151 T Street NE. For more info and to register for this free event, go to:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Still Life with Robin: How to Weather the Next Few Days

Photo by By Kok Leng, Maurice Yeo via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

A few days ago The Capital Weather Gang officially declared this May the Worst Ever for DC Weather [] and if the standard for bad weather is overall dreariness, who can disagree? We had a record 15-day unbroken streak of rain, followed by a few days of sun mixed with clouds, and then back to rain, rain, and more rain. And then a little break this afternoon and evening, which will be followed by still more rain on Sunday continuing into Monday.

If you can wait until Tuesday, here’s the good news:

By Wednesday it will be both sunny and hot, possibly in the 80s, but by Thursday or Friday it will be wet again – though by then there will be nothing to do but try to live with it as best we can. And I can think of no better way than this:

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Get Out! - The Events Column

We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 16,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, May 19 at 4 PM, Opening of “BioArt,” an exhibit that crosses science with art! Learn about BioArt from a special guest. Enjoy fun activities relating to the exhibit, and view the exhibit in the Children's Room. (Exhibit will be open through August 19.) This event is recommended for families with children ages 6 and up. Free. At the Palisades Library, 4901 V Street NW,

Thursday, May 19 at 6:30 PM,  “Beyond Pluto: The Hunt for Planet X,” a talk by Dr. Scott Sheppard, staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. The Kuiper Belt, which has Pluto as the largest member, is a region of comet-like objects just beyond Neptune. This belt of objects has an outer edge, which we are only now able to explore in detail. For the past few years we have been performing the largest and deepest survey ever attempted to search for distant solar system objects. The ongoing search has discovered the object with the most distant orbit known in our solar system and several of the largest known objects after the major planets. These extremely distant objects are strangely grouped closely together in space, which suggests a yet unobserved planet more massive than the Earth is shepherding them into these similar orbits. Dr Sheppard will discuss the most recent discoveries at the fringe of our solar system. Free, but registration is required at More info:

Friday May 20 at 6:30 PM, School Without Walls Choir Concert, a  special bon-voyage benefit concert to support the ensemble’s travel to Cuba. They have been invited by the Cuban Ministry of Culture to participate in a prestigious choral music exchange program at the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory in Havana. The choir will perform pieces from their current repertoire. They will be joined in performance by world-renowned opera singers Anamer Castrello (mezzo-soprano), Peter Burroughs (tenor), who will sing excerpts from the Cuban Zarzuela. There will be a reception immediately following the performance. Doors will open at 6:00 PM. Tickets: $10 - $20, available at Location: The United Church, 1920 G Street NW.

Friday, May 20 and Saturday May 21, 9 AM - 5 PM, National Geographic/National Parks BioBlitz on the Mall. Grab your backpack, your Metro card, and explore the wilds in and around Washington, DC like never before. Teams of scientists, students, teachers, and the general public will join in a two-day race to discover and document the flora and fauna in the region’s national parks. Signing up for a free inventory is a unique chance to explore parks with experts and learn in outdoor classrooms about biodiversity in and around the National Capital Region. Free. More info: BioBlitz 2016: Washington, D.C. and

Saturday, May 21 from 7  AM - 3 PM, 4th Annual International Migratory Bird Day Festival at Rock Creek Park. For generations, migratory birds have connected communities across continents, providing unique opportunities for international collaboration and inspiring people to improve conditions for birds, all wildlife, and for ourselves. This year we celebrate the birds that call Rock Creek Park home, even if it is just for part of the year. Enjoy bird walks, hands-on activities and exhibits, food, art, and family-friendly entertainment. Special performance by Los Quetzales Mexican Dance Ensemble. Free. At Rock Creek Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road NW. To see the schedule of bird walks, performances, and other details, visit

Saturday, May 21 from 10 AM - 7 PM, Fiesta Asia Street Fair, featuring outdoor craft exhibits, live performances, food and open market vendors, interactive displays, martial arts demonstration, talent show, cooking demo, and much more.Over a thousand  performers + artisans + participants take part in the festivities throughout the day. Free admission. Along Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 6th Streets NW,

Saturday, May 21 from 11 AM - 3 PM, Maret School’s Fete Champetre.This festive tradition is now in its 63rd year. Enjoy all your favorite pastimes, games and foods. Relax while browsing among the flea market or try your hand at some carnival games. Free admission. The Fete goes on, rain or shine. Full details at

Saturday, May 21 from 10 AM - 1 PM, The Acton Children’s Business Fair, featuring over 30 children’s businesses, including cupcakes, jewelry, toiletries, face painting, hair braiding, artwork, and more. Children ages 6 - 14 will be showcasing their enterprises, selling their wares to customers, and competing for cash prizes in four age categories. Free. On the Cleveland Park commercial strip along Connecticut Avenue between Macomb St and Ordway Street.

Saturday, May 21 from 11 AM - 2 PM, Spring Fling! Not your usual Spring Fling. No moon bounce, no face painting, no food, no performances. Why come to this Spring Fling? Because at this Spring Fling, we will actually take a giant steel spring -- an 8 foot Slinky-like coil -- and fling it off the top of the clock tower at the new student center at UDC, and see how many times it bounces when it hits the ground. This will be the coolest Spring Fling ever….or it would be if this were not the weekly fake event!

Sunday, May 22 at 8 AM, The 2nd  Annual Tricia Davis 5K Walk/Run for Sinai House. The race begins at Rock Creek Park Grove 24. Participants should arrive by 7:30 AM for the 8 AM race start. The Fun Run for kids 13 and under will begin shortly after the timed race (approx. 8:45). Aaron Gamble, of Beyond Belief Health and Wellness, will lead warm-up exercises before both the race and the fun run. After the Race: Munch on Bullfrog bagels, bananas from Whole Foods and an assortment of Mars goodies. An award ceremony will take place at the park at about 9:45 am. Fastest participants in different age categories will win gift cards from sponsors. To register to run or to become a virtual runner (by donating), go to Registration fees range from $18 - $36. All proceeds benefit Sinai House, a residential social service program for homeless families in Washington, DC.

Monday, May 23 at 3:30 PM, Live & Learn: Consumer Empowerment for Utilities (Telephone,Electricity, Gas, Water). Learn how to cut costs, whether a homeowner or apartment dweller. Ask questions and receive a handy resource guide from Jean Gross-Bethel. Free for members of Dupont Village; $10 for others. Wheelchair accessible. Contact Linda Harsh at: 202-234-2567 or lindajkh @ mac dot com. At the  Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW,

Tuesday, May 24 at 3:30 PM, Money Smart for Older Adults: Preventing Financial Exploitation. DC Public Library and the Glover Park Village invite you to attend "Money Smart for Older Adults", an instructor-led training developed by the federal government to increase awareness among older adults and their caregivers on how to prevent elder financial exploitation and to encourage advance planning and informed financial decision-making. This session is  will be lead by Idriys Abdullah, a consumer protection advocate with the DC Department of Insurance Securities, and Banking. The class is free and open to everyone, but attendees are requested to please register in advance by emailing Events @ GloverParkVillage dot org or by calling 202-436-5545. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R St NW,

Wednesday, May 25 at 6:45 PM, “Finding Your Inner Fish.” What do fish fossils tell us about the human body? Ancient fossils, like the Tiktaalik roseae that Dr. Neil Shubin discovered, illustrate the transitional form between fish and land animals. They teach scientists about how our limbs came into being, among other things. But how can scientists predict where to find such transitional fossils? Dr. Shubin, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, The University of Chicago, will take us from the anatomy laboratory to the Canadian Arctic in search of answers. Lecture is free, but registration is required - go to At the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1530 P Street NW.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Still Life with Robin: Our New National Mammal, Plus....?

by Peggy Robin

Photo by Thomas S Mann
I hope everyone heard last week’s news that the US now has an official “National Mammal.” It’s the American Bison -- and if you’re wondering why this little “local color” column is tackling a topic of nationwide significance, well, here’s the neighborhood hook: The current examplars of our national mammal are the two that live right in our own backyard, at the splendid American Bison exhibit at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW – The National Zoo.  Take a look at Zora and Wilma, who arrived in 2014 in time to help celebrate the Zoo’s 125th anniversary: - scroll down the page to play the video, or better still, go to the Zoo to visit them in real life.

Happy as I am to see the bison designated our National Mammal, I have to wonder why our nation went so many years without one. We have had a national bird, the Bald Eagle, since 1782. That set me to wondering about how other countries choose to represent the nation’s soul in animal form -- and how many animals they need to do it. With the help of Wikipedia,, it was easy enough to find out – but here’s the shocking part: not only do lots of other countries have national animals, but at least ten have a greater number of national animals than we do and/or have National Animals in categories the US has neglected to fill. Take a look:

Antigua & Barbuda
National Mammal: Fallow Deer
National Bird: Frigate
National Sea Creature: Hawksbill Turtle

National Animal: Bengal Tiger
National Bird: Magpie Robin
National Fish: Ilish

National Animal: Takin (gnu-goat)
National Mythical Animal: Druk (dragon)

Costa Rica
National Mammal: White-tailed Deer
National Bird: Yigüirro
National Marine Mammal: Manatee

National Mammal: Bengal Tiger
National Heritage Animal: Indian Elephant
National Marine Mammal: Ganges River Dolphin
National Bird: Indian Peacock/Peahen
National Reptile: Indian Cobra

National Bird: Green Pheasant
National Fish: Carp

National Bird: White Wagtail
National Insect: Two-spotted Ladybird

Royal Animal: Lion
National Bird: White-throated Dipper
National Mammal: Fjord Horse

National Mammals: Wolf AND Lynx
National Mythical Bird: White Eagle

South Africa
National Mammal: Springbok
National Bird: Blue Crane
National Fish: Galjoen

United Kingdom
National Symbolic Animal: British Bulldog
Royal Animal: Barbary Lion
National Bird (England): Mute Swan
National Bird (Wales): Red Kite
Mythical Animal (Scotland): Unicorn
Mythical Animal (Wales) Welsh Dragon

With the US Congress in utter gridlock nearly all of the time, its recently-displayed ability to come together to name a national mammal appears as a small but hopeful sign of progress. How great it would be if that august deliberative body could do it again by rallying around the designation of American animals in other categories. And what better way to trumpet the greatness of our land (something they all seem to agree on) than to put forth more categories of greatness for our animals than any other country on earth. With that lofty goal in mind, I propose that the US designate another SIX National Animals – with the suggested candidates for the honor as follows:

National Marine Mammal: Orca (like the one in the movie “Free Willy”)
National Mythical Animal: Sasquatch, a/k/a Bigfoot
National Insect: Grasshopper (I hesitated between the unstoppable High Plains Grasshopper and the swarming Monarch Butterfly, until I remembered that the Monarchs are migrants from Mexico)
National Reptile: Rattlesnake (It’s on the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag)
National Fish: Big Mouth Bass – This one:
National Amphibian: American Bullfrog

We could also have a National Protozoon and a National Bacterium, but I could not come up with any iconically American candidates for those categories of animals. In point of fact, I’m not even sure that “animal” is the right term for single celled organisms – so let’s stick with the list above. Onward!


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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Get Out! The Events Column

Photo by Thomas S Mann
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 16,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, May 12 at 7 PM, “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World.” Former diplomat J. Michael Springmann will speak about his book, “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World,” which provides an insider's view of how the US has been fighting terrorism. Mr. Springmann’s service in the US diplomatic corps  included postings in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. More info on the author and the book at Copies of the book are available from the library. This free event will be held in the first floor meeting room of the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave., NW    

Friday, May 13, Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, St. Sophia’s Greek Festival. Authentic Greek food - indoor buffet and outdoor grills; Greek beer & wine; Greek market; international arts & crafts, jewelry, religious icons; kids’ activities, treats, crafts & games; moon bounce; Cathedral tours (Saturday & Sunday); live Greek music & dancing. Mercedes raffle. Free admission. Held rain or shine - huge outdoor tent. Hours: Friday and Saturday: 12 noon - 10 PM; Sunday: 12 noon - 7 PM. At 36th & Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Friday, May 13, Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, SerbFest DC! Come experience traditional Serbian food, music & culture at St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church. Delicious Serbian Food: Spit-roasted Pig & Lamb, Authentic Grilled Foods & Side Dishes, Traditional Desserts & Pastries, Serbian Beer & Wine. Live Serbian Music & Dancing, Vendors, Children's Activities, Free Admission & Parking. Friday hours: 5 - 9 PM, Saturday: 11 AM - 9 PM, Sunday: 12 - 6 PM. St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church is at 10660 River Road, Potomac MD 20854. More info:

Saturday, May 14 from 10 AM - 2 PM, Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day at the National Zoo. Free events open to all: Bird-themed activities and crafts; Live birds of prey; Free samples of Bird Friendly coffee; Interactive displays by conservation organizations; Performances of the musical theater show "Superbirds!" Shows are 15 minutes long and begin at 10:30 AM., 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM & 1:30 PM. Special events for FONZ members and Migratory Bird Club members* include: Guided bird walks; Bird banding; Stanley crane walk; Meet an oriole. *Participants must be 8 years of age or older. For schedule of these events. locations, and other details, visit: The National Zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW.

Saturday, May 14 from 10 AM - 1 PM, Tenleytown photographer Stephen Voss will be signing his new book on bonsai trees, “In Training: A Bonsai Photo Book” at the National Arboretum. Over a year in a half in the making, the book captures the spirit of the bonsai. The photos will be on exhibit at The National Arboretum's Bonsai & Penjing Museum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE.  Free. More details here: and here:   

Saturday, May 14 from 10 AM - 4 PM, International Mother’s Day Bazaar at the Islamic Center. The Muslim Women’s Association of Washington, DC invites you to a bazaar featuring: exotic foods, handicrafts, rugs, gifts and more, from Islamic countries around the world. Free admission, proceeds go to charities. The Islamic Center is at 2551 Massachusetts Avenue NW.  

Saturday, May 14 from 10 AM - 4 PM, Peirce Mill Grinding Day. Watch the mill grind corn (11 AM - 2 PM). Watch the waterwheel turn and the grinding stones spin – making cornmeal before your eyes. Come see the newly restored barrel hoist in action lifting supplies to all four floors in this giant wooden machine. Long ago, children made their own toys using materials they could find in the field or forest. This Saturday from 11:00-2:00, we'll be making corn husk dolls with children, a traditional Native American craft later adopted by European colonists. Free. At the Peirce Mill Visitor Center at Beach Drive & Tilden St. More info:

Saturday, May 14 from 11 AM - 12 noon, Tour of the Kreeger Museum grounds, presented by Casey Trees. Join Jim Woodworth, director of tree planting at Casey Trees, and Ashley Givens, Kreeger Museum’s head of education, for a tour of the rolling grounds of The Kreeger Museum, featuring five acres of sculpture-filled gardens surrounded by wild woodlands. Tour leaders will discuss various aspects of dendrology and how it relates to artistic design. Keep your eyes peeled and you may catch a glimpse of the resident fox skirting through the underbrush. Bring an extra pair of clean shoes if you’re interested in exploring the indoor collections following the tree walk. Takes place rain or shine - please dress for the weather. Free, but reservations required at: The Kreeger Museum is at 2401 Foxhall Road NW.

Saturday, May 14 from 12 noon - 5 PM, Spring Festival at Cathedral Commons. Arts, music, food, shopping, and family fun! Come celebrate the blooming season with a Spring Festival, curated by Art Soiree.This year’s Spring Festival will take place on Newark Street in between Idaho Ave. and Wisconsin Ave. and will transform Cathedral Commons into a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and flavors. Stroll the streets as you listen to live musical performances, peruse local art, and taste delicious food and beverage offerings from a number of neighborhood businesses and restaurants. Free. For more information, please visit:

Saturday, May 14 at 1 PM, Peabody Room Talks: “Andrew Jackson / Roger Taney / Francis Scott Key: A Grim Trio in Town and Country”. President Andrew Jackson appointed Roger Taney Chief Justice of the United States. Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, was related to Francis Scott Key, lawyer and composer of "The Star Spangled Banner." Key was a member of Jackson's inner circle. Jamie Stiehm, a Creators Syndicate columnist and contributor to, discusses the ties that made this trifecta a Southern political force. Free. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street NW,   

Sunday, May 15 at 3 PM, Concert and Photography Exhibit at MMMUC. The US Army String Quartet will play a varied program of Beethoven, Elliott Carter, Charles Ives, and Gershwin. There will be a light reception afterward, and some nice recent photos of Cuba will be on display. Free. Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church is at 3401 Nebraska Ave. NW, corner of New Mexico. More info:      

Sunday, May 15 at 4 PM, The choirs of Georgetown Presbyterian and Chevy Chase Presbyterian Churches will combine for a free concert featuring works for double choir and soloists. There will also be performances by a brass quintet and on the organ. Choral pieces will include "Jubilate Deo" by Giovanni Gabrieli and "Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf" (BWV 226), a motet by Johann Sebastian Bach. Compositions by Antonio Lotti, Charles Wood and William Harris are also on the program. Free (Donations are gratefully accepted). Post-concert reception to meet the artists.  At Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, One Chevy Chase Circle,

Sunday, May 15, time TBD, Sun Glimpsing & Welcome Ceremony. Some sunshine is predicted to emerge on Sunday after a record-breaking run of rain -- see:. If the prediction proves correct, you are invited to participate in timeless sun-welcoming ritual. When the sun first breaks through the clouds, rush outside, raise up your arms to salute the warm rays, stomp your feet in celebration, and shout welcoming words. To receive maximum sunshine on your body, you may opt to perform the ritual naked or partially naked (taking under advisement laws on public nudity in your jurisdiction). For more specific details on how to perform the Sun Glimpsing and Welcoming Ceremony, please visit Note: This ceremony will be postponed in the event of rain.  

Monday, May 16 at 6:30 PM, The Regulatory Process for Starting a Small Business. Are you interested in starting a small business in the District? Do you know about the necessary regulations to get started? The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has partnered with DC Public Library to educate prospective business owners on how to start a new business in the District of Columbia. Come and learn about: Business Licensing; Corporate registration; Certificates of Occupancy (C of O); Home Occupancy Permits (HOP); Grant Opportunities; Vending; Farmer markets; Certified Business Enterprises (CBE); and More! No pre-registration required. Free. At the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW,  

Tuesday, May 17 at 4 PM, “World Travel for One: Tips for Stress-Free Solo Trips.” To travel alone is to discover your true self. Most solo voyagers book trips with tour groups, but it is possible to plan your own adventure and see the world without a lot of hassles. Veteran traveler Eleanor Adkins will show you what it takes to go from country to country while feeling in control, having fun, and staying within budget. To participate in this free program, presented by Glover Park Village and the DC Public Library, please RSVP by writing to Events @ GloverParkVillage dot org or calling 202-436-5545.

Tuesday, May 17 at 7:30 PM, Reading and Discussion: Austrian-Slovenian poet Cvetka Lipus. The Embassy of Austria and the Embassy of Slovenia are pleased to invite you to a poetry evening with an Austrian-Slovenian poet. The reading and discussion will be in Slovenian, German, and English. Introductory remarks and moderation will be done by Prof. Dr. Vesna Kondrič Horvat, University of Maribor. Cvetka Lipuš, member of the Slovenian minority in Austria’s province of Carinthia, is an award-winning author, who writes poetry in her first language despite having lived outside the Slovenian community for most of her adulthood. After residing more than 15 years in Pittsburgh, PA, she relocated to Salzburg, Austria in 2009. Ms. Lipuš has published seven collections of poetry, much of which has been translated into different languages, and she has received numerous fellowships and literary awards. At  the Austrian Cultural Forum, 3524 International Court NW. Free and open to the public, but you must reserve your ticket at:  

Wednesday, May 18 at 12:30 PM, “Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora.” Join Curator Lee Talbot for a tour of the exhibition Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora, which features works by forty-four textile artists from around the world. Free. At the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum, 701 21st Street NW, This program is part of Art Museum Day 2016.To see a list of museums around the US offering free admission on Wednesday May 18, go to   

Thursday, May 19 at 6:30 PM, Sherman Alexie, author and National Book Award winner for his young adult novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," will share his new children’s book, Thunder Boy, Jr., followed by a Q&A and book signing. Book purchase is required to enter the signing line. Books will be for sale at the event and in advance at Politics & Prose bookstore. Free admission to the author talk. At the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St NW,  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Still Life with Robin: The Week in "Unsuck DC Metro"

Photo by Eric T. Gunther via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

The Washington Post has done an admirable job of keeping us informed about the ongoing series of Metro accidents and maintenance mishaps over the past few weeks, with dramatic, up-to-the-minute stories and videos online – like this one:   

And they’ve also done the tougher, plodding part, too, dredging over the history to put together an account of how Metro managed to descend into its present sorry state:

And then there’s Alexandra Petri, the one writer at the Post who has proven herself capable of capturing the surreal absurdity of the situation. You don’t expect this sort of thing from a columnist at a big daily paper, but in this piece, she’s got the horror-show/black comedy combination down just right:

Still, for ongoing real-time accounts of the disaster beneath our streets, nothing right now beats the continual stream of reports from riders themselves on “Unsuck DC Metro.” The Tweets and Facebook posts should be required bedtime reading for all Metro managers – and if the material keeps them up all night, so much the better! Here’s a fair sampling of the Tweets of the past few days. [A few typos have been corrected for improved readability.]

Smell of burning rubber, smoke and conductor RUNNING off of the RL train at CUA.

25 minute wait & still no @wmata train. I gave up and called @Uber. $11.45 vs $4.45, but I'll get to work on time.

This is what @wmata is referring to as a "smoke incident" [see photo]

on a 7000 car now, automatic announcements sound like auto tuned Cher song being played underwater.

I kid you not...#wmata BL train operator just called into ROCC in the middle of this crisis to complain that he was missing his lunch break.
So the pattern is: new GM, press tour/honeymoon, brace for bad news, brand #BadNews, do nothing, retire, repeat. #wmata

Wonder how much they paid a consultant to come up with "safetrack" Any idea?
….followed by this tweet in response:
they used 5 of their 70 in house social media peeps know, of the 69 that weren't doing anything.

Want more? Go to UnsuckDCMetro at – new and compelling stuff comes in all day long. But it’s not all passenger outrage and misery. There’s occasionally some wry humor in the variety of ways that Metro can and does screw up -- like this next one, from UnsuckDCMetro’s Facebook page. Doesn’t anybody at Metro read their own stuff? Or could it be that no one there actually knows how to spell “Woodley Park”?

“Woodly Park. Fly to the zoo.”

And finally, just so I can end with something about Metro that doesn’t suggest everything’s going down the tubes (and no, that’s not a reference to London’s Tube, the fourth greatest public transportation system in the world, according to CNN travel experts - see let me pass along this story of a commotion outside the Van Ness station that was NOT Metro’s fault. Hey Wally, Let’s blame this one on The Beaver! (Be sure to click on the video in the story below.)

Happier riding next week (though you’d better not get your hopes up too high)!


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