Saturday, December 13, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Save the Dates

Photo by By Mike R Soldwisch via Creative Commons
by Peggy Robin

All week long I have been planning a short piece about today’s date, 12-13-14, the last sequential date of the century. (It has to be the last because there’s no month 13.) However, one look at my morning paper told me that I’d been beaten to the punch by the Washington Post. For a more complete take on the subject than I had planned for today, see

So I turn my attention – call it my slightly eccentric fixation on calendar oddities and weird holidays – on the year ahead.  Here’s what we have in store for us in 2015:

* The palindrome date for 2015 will occur on May 10, 2015 (5-10-2015).
* The double-date will arrive on January 5, ’15 (1 5 15)  
* There will be three Friday-the-Thirteenths (or is that “Fridays the Thirteenth?):  2/13/15; 3/13/15; and 11/13/15
* According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 will be the Year of the Sheep (or Ram, if you think don’t want the year to sound so “sheepish”), starting on February 19.

Perhaps the coolest date of the year will be Pi Day, March 14, 2015—it’s 3.1415.  How do you celebrate Pi Day? You wait until 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds (that’s taking pi out to nine decimal places -- 3.141592653) and run outside wearing a pie pan on your head and you shout out as many digits of pi as you can remember. Or if you can carry a tune, you can sing the pi song:

What other dates of significance will occur in 2015? In 2014 we had the centennial of the start of World War I, as well as the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal. I have looked over the list of noteworthy events of the year 1915,  and I’m afraid it’s not much of a year for grand commemorations. Just a sampling of what you will find on the list:

* On January 28 President Woodrow Wilson unilaterally changed US immigration policy by refusing to block the entry of immigrants who were illiterate.
* On May 27 panic over the spread of an infectious disease was calmed when NY authorities arrested “Typhoid Mary” and sent her into quarantine on an island near Manhattan.
* On June 5 women in Denmark won the right to vote.
* On September 29 technology in personal communications advanced with the placing of the first transatlantic phone call.

None of the above exactly leap out as an earth-shattering change in the way we live….although they do have some odd echoes to things that are still happening 100 years later.


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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Get Out! The Events Column

Photo by Kekkonen via Wikimedia Commons
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 14,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, December 11 at 7 PM, 2014 Winter Instrumental Music Concert. The Concert Band, String Orchestra, String Quartet, and Jazz Ensemble, students and faculty of Wilson High School are pleased to showcase their efforts from this semester. We hope that you are able to attend and bring guests to support, celebrate, and encourage these young musicians. Admission will be $5 for all students and faculty and $10 for adults. In Wilson Auditorium (Chesapeake Street off Nebraska).

Friday, December 12 from 4 - 7:30 PM, HeArts for Humanity Alternative Gift Fair and Celebration. Support human rights when you buy unique artist-created gifts, including hand wrought jewelry, illustrations, caricatures, prints, and paintings, as well as commissioned work. Food and drink for sale. Performances in poetry, drama, music, and dance. Speakers and films on human rights. Free admission. At Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street NW.

Friday, December 12, Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December- 14, Irish Christmas Revels. Travel to the Emerald Isle in the mid-1800’s to celebrate the Irish spirit. Gather at the hearth of the village pub for fiery tunes and mesmerizing rhythms from our Irish Band, the flashing feet of step and céilí dancing, and rollicking songs and toasts—all beckoning the joys of Christmas! Then board a ship bound for the new world, where songs of longing give way to powerful anthems of hope, and children lift our spirits with sean nós dances. Journey with us through the struggle, triumph and fierce joy that epitomize the Irish-American heritage. Tickets $12 - $50. Go to  for tickets and more information. At GW At Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW.

Saturday, December 13 from 11 AM - 4 PM, The Upshur Street Arts & Crafts Fair. Free outdoor arts and crafts festival sponsored by the diverse community businesses on Upshur Street in Petworth. Shop along the 800 block of Upshur street and discover art and handmade gift items from DC-area artisans. Businesses along the street will be open so that you can enjoy even more shopping and warm up with some food and drink. Local musicians will provide free entertainment throughout the day. New at the fair this year: an open yoga studio with massage and some free classes, a bike tuneup to winterize your bike, and a whole area of activities for the kids! Brought to you by the Upshur Street Business Cooperative. Along the 800 block of Upshur Street NW. More info:  .

Saturday, December 13 from 1 - 3 PM, Ice Cream Social and Decorate-Your-Own-Cookies event hosted by The Chevy Chase Citizens Association and Northwest Neighbors Village. At the Chevy Chase Community Center, 5801 Connecticut Avenue NW.

Saturday, December 13 from 3 - 5 PM, Grand Opening of new recreation facilities at Rose Park, hosted by the Friends of Rose Park. There will be ribbon-cutting ceremony with city officials, and a Toys for Tots drive. Come and celebrate! At Rose Park, 26th and O Streets NW.

Sunday, December 14 from 10 AM - 12 Noon, Chanukah Celebration 2014 at the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC). Grab your socks and your yarmulke, it’s time to bounce for Chanukah! This year’s rockin’ Chanukah party will feature a moon bounce, games, crafts, treats and plenty of fun for the whole family. Pre-registration prices (register online before December 12): $15; $10 Discounted DCJCC or DC Minyan Member Rate. Tickets at:

Sunday, December 14 at 1 PM, “The Future of Family Biking,” a town hall discussion presented by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). At Mt. Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW. Free. More information:

Sunday, December 14 at 2 PM, Faroe Islands Holiday Bazaar. Not your usual holiday bazaar -- every item handcrafted by the Faroe Island mums and grandmums. Learn about the tiny remote islands where the oes blow. Kids will love fun, colourful knitwear with skulls from Sirri. Buy a winter hat from Heimavirkisfelagið (if you buy it, ask someone to teach you how to pronounce it)  Find out how you can sign up for that amazing annual Faroese event, the Knitting Festival of 2015. While this is indeed the weekly fake event, it’s fake only because it is not happening here in Washington, DC; everything described here is on the Faroese Islands website and it would become quite real if you can get yourself to Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic. For more information about the not-fake Faroese Knitting Festival 2015 go to  For more information about the weekly fake event go to

Monday, December 15 at 12 noon, US Army Chorus Holiday Concert. Free. At National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Avenue, NW. More info:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Nature in Fall and Winter In and Around DC

by Peggy Robin

On a dreary December day it's good to reflect on the quiet loveliness of the still wild parts of our otherwise highly urbanized area. All the photos below were taken by local photographer Thomas S. Mann, usually on his bike rides through area trails in and around Washington, DC.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Vincent Desjardins via Wikimedia Commons
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 14,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at (events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Ongoing Through Saturday December 6, Tenley WinterFest! Highlights include: "WinterFeast" of dining specials at more than a dozen local restaurants. Thursday at 4 PM: Screening of “Elf” at the Tenley Library; Friday at 7 PM: Screening of “Frozen” at the Tenley Library. Saturday: Janney 5K race through the neighborhood. Story Time, Sing-a-long & Book Sales at the Tenley Library; Caroling with the Children’s Chorus of Washington and DIY Stocking Craft for kids at Whole Foods Tenley, 4530 40th Street NW. Live music at Middle C, 4530 Wisconsin Ave NW, from 12 - 6 PM. Live music and winter brews at Public Tenley. Holiday tree sales. Plus festive decor and other special offers and events throughout the neighborhood. See for the full schedule of events with dates, times, and locations.

Thursday, December 4 at 7 PM, Native Washingtonian and history aficionado Stephen R. McKevitt will discuss his latest book “Meridian Hill: A History.” Meridian Hill has been home to a lot of fascinating historic characters, including Commodore David Porter, John Quincy Adams, and Mary Henderson. It has housed Union Soldiers during the civil war and international diplomats in the twentieth century, and it remains a diverse, thriving residential neighborhood to this day. Free. In the large meeting room on the main floor at Mt. Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW,

Friday, December 5 from 11 AM - 4 PM and Saturday, December 6 from 10 AM - 4 PM , The 32nd Annual St. Alban’s Christmas House Tour, featuring 6 homes in historic Cleveland Park, plus a holiday marketplace with more than 50 boutiques; option for luncheon. Tickets: $40 for the tour and $20 for the luncheon, available at: St. Alban’s School is at Massachusetts & Wisconsin Avenues NW.

Saturday, December 6, 10 AM - 4 PM. Friends of the Cleveland Park Library One-Day-Only Holiday Book Sale. Select from children's books, holiday-themed books, and coffee table & gift books -- all in pristine condition suitable for gift giving. DVDs and CDs too! This will be a limited but very wonderful sale! Book prices: $1, $2, and $5. 2nd floor Cleveland Park Library, corner of Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street.

Saturday, December 6 from 10 AM - 4 PM, International French Bazaar, featuring French and African food; handicrafts; jewelry; French books, comics and DVDs; toys; flea market; silent auction. Free. Presented by the French-Speaking Protestant Church of DC. At Wesley Theological Seminary, 4500 Massachusetts Ave. NW. More info: Note: The website begins in French, but if scroll down to the part about the Bazaar and you don’t read French, just be patient, and it will magically change to English.

Saturday, December 6 from 10 AM - 4 PM, Turkish Arts & Crafts Holiday Fair presented by Anatolian Artisans, Scarves, jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, copperware, carpets, leather goods, embroidered textiles, toys and decorations--all one-of-a-kind artisan handicrafts, coming direct from the makers to you, only at this sale. Turkish pastries and refreshments available. Anatolian Artisans is a tax exempt non-profit organization that helps talented low-income artisans in Turkey, mostly women, through product development, micro-business training and marketing. Credit cards accepted; free gift wrapping. At Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, One Chevy Chase Circle NW.

Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, Irish Christmas Revels. Travel to the Emerald Isle in the mid-1800’s to celebrate the Irish spirit. Gather at the hearth of the village pub for fiery tunes and mesmerizing rhythms from our Irish Band, the flashing feet of step and céilí dancing, and rollicking songs and toasts—all beckoning the joys of Christmas! Then board a ship bound for the new world, where songs of longing give way to powerful anthems of hope, and children lift our spirits with sean nós dances. Journey with us through the struggle, triumph and fierce joy that epitomize the Irish-American heritage. More performances December 12 - 14. Tickets $12 - $50. Go to for tickets and more information. At GW At Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW.

Sunday, December 7 at 10 AM, Breakfast with Santa, presented by the Friends of Volta Park. Enjoy hot chocolate, doughnuts, and other treats, and have your picture taken with Santa, who will arrive on a DC Firetruck. Free admission, food and drink for sale, photo with Santa for sale. At Volta Park, 34th Street and Volta Place. More info:

Sunday, December 7 from 1 - 5 PM, Logan Circle Holiday House Tour 2014. Join the tour of traditional and contemporary homes in the Logan Circle neighborhood, the always warming Wassail Party during the tour at Studio Theatre and a variety of musicians and singers posted at many of the homes, and carolers roaming the neighborhood to get you in the holiday spirit. As always, proceeds from the tour help fund the Logan Circle Community Association’s ongoing mission to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses in Logan Circle and all of Washington, DC. Association Starting Point: The Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St NW. Tickets $30 - $35 available at

Sunday, December 7 at 2 PM, “Signature Tastes of Washington, DC” by Stephen Siler - book discussion in The Legends & Lore DC book discussion series. With the holidays coming, it means cooking for visiting family and friends. Do you need some recipe ideas? Come swap or talk about your favorite ones. We also will be discussing what titles to read in the new year. Free. At the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW. More info:

Sunday, December 7 from 1 - 2:30 PM (Session I) or from 3 - 4:30 PM (Session II), The Cleveland Park Historical Society’s annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party. Which Cleveland Park home will be your inspiration? Houses to decorate are $30 per house for CPHS members and $50 per house for non-members. We provide the houses and all the decorating materials. Space is limited to 20 houses at each session, so book your space soon. Please only 2 houses per family. Reserve and pay for your house(s) online at Eventbrite: At the Cleveland Park Club, 3433 33rd Place NW.

Monday, December 8 from 5 - 6 PM, Grander Than Gingerbread: Building Edible Homes in Luxurious Style. Want to design a house out of foodstuffs but on a more ambitious scale than the usual little gingerbread cottage? Create a McMansion from marzipan or a chateau from sugar cube bricks at this chef/architect’s workshop, which will provide you with the tools and materials to construct the palate-pleasing palace of your dreams…. with a chocolate fountain in front, a blue Jello lagoon in back, and well-groomed lawns crafted from green cake sprinkles carefully planted in a fondant base. Choose from Country French, Tuscan Villa, or Georgian Manor styles. For previews of what you can do, go to On second thought, you had better stick to gingerbread, as this is the weekly fake event.

Tuesday, December 9 from 6 - 9 PM, The annual DC Community Heritage Project (DCCHP) Showcase will feature the work of 16 DCCHP grantees who have worked for the past year to preserve the history, stories and culture of their neighborhoods and communities. The showcase will feature a keynote address by Washington Post Columnist John Kelly. Complimentary refreshments will be served. Free, but please register at At Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street NW. More info at

Wednesday, December 10 at 6 PM, Holiday Party with Ugly Sweater Contest. Enjoy snacks, hot chocolate, crafts, games -- and wear your ugliest sweater. For all ages. Free. At the West End Library, 2522 Virginia Avenue NW.

Thursday, December 11 from 7 - 8:30 PM “Literature of the English Speaking World” Discussion Series continues with “Looking for Transwonderland,” by Noo Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria). The facilitator is Professor Phil Burnham of George Mason University. About the book: A travel writer for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, Noo Saro-Wiwa finally took up the challenge of writing a travelogue about her native Nigeria. This biting and compassionate account gives an insider/outsider’s view of the richest and most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa. The fact that Saro-Wiwa’s father, Ken, was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995 gives this book a gritty and touching point of view. The Book Discussion Series is free and open to all -- you don't have to be a member of the Friends of the Library. While you're encouraged to attend all six sessions, it's not mandatory. You can attend as many or as few as you like -- but you do need to register -- please call the library at 202 282-3072. More info:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Yet Another Holiday Gift Guide

Image from Yarn Graphics
via Mashable's 15 Weird Knit Gifts
by Peggy Robin

At this kickoff weekend of the holiday shopping season, you are bound to find gift guides everywhere you look. Before I head out to do my holiday shopping, I'm copying and pasting together this hasty column with a quartet of these lists that I hope you will find, um, if not entirely practical, then perhaps diverting. Here they are:

This first list is labeled "31 Life Changing Useful Gadgets," I'd say that's stretching things a bit, but at least a couple of these items do seem to solve an annoying problem of modern life, especially #24, The Trakdot Luggage Tracker -- that is, if it actually works as it claims to do.

List number two advertises itself as "Practical Yet Clever Gifts That Are Anything But Lame." If you go around calling attention to your cleverness as opposed to your lameness, you are bound to provoke people to argue the reverse. See what you think:"Clever" might well apply to the roll-up keyboard (#15), useful to computer-users on the go, and the same might be said for the swivel tray that fits into the car's cup holder (#28). But who needs a single-soda-can refrigerator that's also a USB port? (#17) It's not exactly lame....just superfluous. 

Many of the gifts on list number three fall into the category of "You gotta see these to believe 'em" -- -- a category which when combined with funny cats and porn, may comprise up to 90 percent of what's on the internet. Actually, two of the gifts on this list, #6 Kitty Socks and #28 Kitten Mini Skirt, are funny cat things, covering two categories at once. However, quite a few of the things -- most notably #15 Runny Nose Soap Dispenser and #23 "Crafting with Cat Hair" book -- could only be given to someone you would like to annoy so much that he/she will never want to do a gift exchange with you again.

Getting even more whimsical and impractical is the fourth and last of my list of gift lists, Weird Gifts That Knitters Can MakeUnfortunately, (well, on second thought, fortunately) there are no links to the patterns to create any of these oddities. That's too bad, because if you know people with pet turtles, they might really, really appreciate #8, the turtle shell sweater. On the other hand, if you know anyone who upon receiving #11, the scary knit clown mask, is happy to have it, perhaps consider a call in to an anonymous FBI tip line. 

I have one more list to share with you, but it isn't a gift guide. It's a list of "life hacker" tips. (You know about "life hacker" tips? They're those simple things you can do that are supposed to make life easier -- like how to fold fitted sheets perfectly and quickly each time. People love to post these kinds of lists on their Facebook page or Tweet them to their friends. This list is absolutely without question the BEST life hacker list I have ever seen; it's so good that after you have seen it, if you've ever recommended a life hacker list to your friends, you will feel relieved of the urge ever to do so again. It's here:


Still Life With Robin is usually published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. This one's a day early because it's a busy holiday weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Still LIfe With Robin: The Theory of Movie Seating

Black hole illustration by NASA, public domain
by Peggy Robin

I had my first experience with reserved-seating at a movie theater, and (groaner alert) I have my reservations about it.

We went to see TheTheory of Everything at the Bethesda Row Cinema. Due to a massive traffic jam inside the Bethesda municipal parking garage, we arrived at the theatre much later than we’d planned, but fortunately, the show was not sold out. There were a still a few seats left in the first and second rows – so we were told by the box office clerk. She showed us a seating chart and asked us to pick the two seats we wanted. We selected the two center-most in the second row, paid, and got two tickets with our assigned seat numbers.  It was no different, now that I think of it, from getting seats for a live theater performance. I understand this has been the practice in Britain at the movies (or cinema, as they say) for quite some time now. That doesn’t make it a good idea, however.

Here are three downsides, as I see it:

First, when you have assigned movie theater seats, buying tickets takes a good deal longer and is far more of a hassle. I know, because I buy live theater seats online at least a few times a year – and it can be a time-consuming , even stressful process. You have to find the seating chart and check over what’s available, and make a choice, all while a ticket timer clocks your progress, counting down the time you have left. At some point it says, ominously, “you have three minutes left to complete this purchase.” Going to the theater is a big deal. It costs up to ten times as much as going to the movies, so this type of pressure is perhaps to be expected from such a costly outing. But going to the movies is supposed to be a more casual thing, something everyone can do, quickly and easily. It’s not supposed to be such a big deal.  Why make it one?

Second, you want to be able to change seats if you need to. What if the person in front of you is yakking non-stop to a seat mate? In a non-reserved theater, if the show isn’t sold out, you just pick yourself up and relocate to an empty seat. But in a reserved-seating arrangement, someone may come in late with a ticket for that seat. There’s enough competition in life over tightly controlled spaces without introducing more of it into what was once the escapist world of the movies.

My third point is about FREEDOM! (you are supposed to hear echoes of Mel Gibson charging when you read this). When you have assigned movie seats, you can’t make the kind of judgments you expect to be able to make over your personal movements. It’s a question of autonomy, which, in a free society, we are supposed to want to maximize as much as possible. When you have free choice of all the available seats, you walk into a theater and you get to assess the situation, according to your own sense of priorities and values. You can survey the layout of the theater, see if there are groups of teenagers and avoid them, or look for short people to sit behind, or put into play whatever personal strategies and preferences you have developed over the course of your life so far. You can look for people who don’t eat popcorn. You can stay away from people who play with their cellphones during the previews. You give up on all that when you are limited to your an assigned seat.

I’ve now been mulling this over for a while, but I just can’t think of any upsides, any reason that assigned seating would confer on movie-goers any advantage. You can already buy tickets online if you want to be assured that the show is not sold out. You can already plan to get there early if you are intent upon sitting in any particular section of the theater. Of course, it could be that I am not open-minded enough to recognize the advantages, and once I have more experience with the system, I will broaden my view. I expect I will get more experiences soon enough, as I predict this system will quickly spread to other theaters and eventually take over them all.  I hope I am wrong, but we’ll have to see about that.

One other prediction I am prepared to make right now: Eddie Redmayne will win the Oscar for Best Actor for The Theory of Everything. We’ll find out about that on February 22. 2015.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Jon Harder (via Wikimedia Commons)
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 14,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, November 20 at 6 PM, The 41st Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies presents the Letitia Woods Brown Lecture by Professor Richard Striner, architectural historian and preservationist, on the successful campaigns to save the Art Deco Greyhound Terminal in downtown DC and the Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring. $25 donation suggested. At the Historical Society of Washington, Carnegie Library, 801 K Street NW. Complete schedule of all conference events (November 20 - 23) at:; tickets for all conference events at

Friday, November 21, showtimes at "Food Chains," is a feature length documentary co-produced by Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser (producer of Food, Inc. and author of Fast Food Nation) and narrated by Forest Whitaker, focused on the struggle of farmworkers against exploitation, hunger, and abuse in the supermarket industry. RSVP on the Facebook to get live schedule updates: After seeing the film, join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and DC Fair Food for a Saturday evening vigil at Foggy Bottom Metro (Nov. 22 at 6 PM) to call on fast food giant Wendy's to join the Fair Food Program. The film is showing at the AMC West End (2301 M St NW), and will feature panels including members of CIW and DC Fair Food.

Friday, November 21 from 7 - 9 PM, Humanitini Happy Hour presents “Washington 101: An Introduction to the Nation’s Capital,” showcasing the first textbook devoted to DC history. The authors will discuss DC as national capital and local city, and the role of architecture, memory, race, and community in shaping its distinct identity. Humanitini: is the official after-party of the DC Historical Studies Conference. Free, but reservations required at In the Cullen Room at Busboys & Poets, 1025 5th Street NW. For more info:

Saturday, November 22 at 10:30 AM, Traveling Writers Workshop presented by the DC Poetry Project, followed by an open mic poetry reading. The Writers Workshop: The semi-structured writers workshop will meet from 10:30 - 11:45 AM and will be facilitated by DCPP organizers, members and other special guests. The workshop focuses on developing personal meaning in the writing process and strongly emphasizes process over final product. The Poetry Reading: The open mic for all begins at 12 noon. The doors and sign-up lists open promptly at 11:45 AM. Please come to share or just to listen and have fun! Poems may be on any subject, and you may read more than one, but we ask that you keep your time on the mic to three minutes. The open mic will go for as long as we have participants or until 1:30 PM.The program will regularly feature local, regional and national poets. Free. At Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW,

Saturday, November 22 at 1 PM, The Kennedys of Georgetown Walking Tour, presented by Dumbarton House. Join Dwane Starlin, member of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides, for this delightful meander through Georgetown. Discover the homes and neighborhood spots frequented by President Kennedy and Jackie during their years in Washington. See where the couple became engaged, their Georgetown home, and where Jackie stayed after JFK's assassination in 1963. 2 hour tour. Comfy walking shoes a must! Meet at the corner of Q and 27th Streets, NW (by the garden gates). Tour starts at 1 PM sharp, rain or shine. Tickets $15 - Cash or check or prepaid via Eventbrite at Reservations not required.

Saturday, November 22 at 4 PM, Panel Discussion: Sculpture in an Expanding Field - New Perspectives in Sculpture and Installation at Katzen AU Museum. Join the Washington Sculptors Group as they examine the ever-expanding definition of sculpture in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Tebow. This event is free and open to the public. At the Katzen Arts Center, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. More info:

Sunday November 23 from 9 AM - 3 PM, Temple Sinai’s Holiday Fair. Homemade food, gifts, 30+ vendors, women’s clothing, jewelry, yarn. Children can do crafts while adults shop. Free. At Temple Sinai, 3100 Military Road NW. More info:

Sunday, November 23 at 1 PM, “North by Northwest” Walking Tour. The neighborhoods around the present Russian Embassy on Upper Wisconsin Avenue have a rich history of espionage involving well-known and little known personalities. Who was the beautiful young analyst in the Department of Justice who captured the fancy of the American public and the press? Was her motivation love or was it treachery? What is the background of the "tunnel" under the present Russian Embassy? Where and why was it dug? This walking tour will explore these areas, and will discuss stories of espionage and intriguing personalities involving the embassies, the apartments, and the restaurants of the area, and even the Washington National Cathedral. Note: This tour involves considerable uphill walking. Tickets $15 per person. No reservations needed - just show up at the park on the southeast corner of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW.

Sunday November 23 at 2 PM. “Thankful Turkey.” Celebrate Thanksgiving with Family Story Time and Crafts. Free. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street NW. More info:

Sunday, November 23 at 4 PM, Local naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley speaks about her new book, A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC. Her adventures during her year in the Park included canoeing under the Beltway to follow Rock Creek from the Potomac River to its source 33 miles upstream. Former U.S. Park ranger Scott Einberger will set the historical backdrop for Choukas-Bradley’s nature journey by recalling the establishment of Rock Creek Park in 1890, its purposely picturesque layout, and some of the notables who have enjoyed its trails and thickets. Einberger is the author of the recent book, A History of Rock Creek Park: Wilderness and Washington, DC” Both books will be available for sale (checks or cash only) and signing after the illustrated lecture, which is the Fall Lecture of the Chevy Chase Historical Society. Free and open to all. At the Jane E. Lawton Community Center, formerly the Leland Center, at 4301 Willow Lane in the Town of Chevy Chase. Refreshments will be served.

Monday, November 24 at 6 PM, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier will speak about her experiences policing the nation’s capital. Presented by the American University Office of Community Relations and the Kennedy Political Union. Free, but reservations requested. In the Forman Theater, McKinley Building, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW,

Tuesday, November 25, starting at 4 PM, “Tuesday Is The New Black Friday: Holiday Door-Buster/Shop-a-palooza.” This year “Black Friday” --which used to start on the day after Thanksgiving but which, in recent years, has crept backwards to midnight at Thanksgiving’s end, and last year got going at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day-- is now set for the opening bell a full 48 hours BEFORE Thanksgiving, thanks to a collection of local merchants whose ultimate goal is to ring in the holiday shopping season on Labor Day. To see a list of stores whose doors will open for the annual Holiday Buying Stampede at 4 PM on Tuesday, go to To see a list of merchants who are sticking to Thanksgiving Day, go to: To see a list of moldering fuddy-duddies who are clinging to the literal-minded concept of “Black Friday” actually being on the Friday after Thanksgiving, based on some sort of outmoded, sentimental principle that their employees should be able to enjoy a national holiday at home with their families, go to:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Reason to Tweet

Photo by Faisal Akram via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

When Twitter first became a thing (2006), I was not a fan. Having to confine your thoughts to 140 characters was too limiting – or so I thought. It would reduce communications to sloganeering, canned sentiments, and cliches. How could any form of expression stuck inside such a rigid box be anything other than shallow?

I have since come around, mainly because I came to see that Twitter isn’t about words: it’s about links, photos, and connections to other people and ideas. If you follow a Twitter member who is a journalist, you will receive links to that person’s articles – and they are often long, deep pieces. The “re-Tweet” of an article is an even more common in this form of social networking . A friend will read something that speaks to her --that contains new information, that takes on a current controversy from an unusual or intriguing point of view —and recommend it to others by re-Tweeting the author’s original Tweet. So I don’t need to follow the author to be alerted to the article; I just need to know someone who’s connected to that author. It’s the six-degrees-of-separation process on steroids. The 140 character limit forces the re-Tweeter to make the case in the most concise terms that clicking on the link will be worth the reader’s  time.  Because their introductory lines are so brief, Tweets are easy to scroll through in bulk. You just skip over anything that doesn’t immediately grab your attention. No one is ever offended if their Tweet is ignored.

Another thing I like about Twitter is that when you sign on, you don’t have to give much information about yourself or your connections. Unlike Facebook (whose members also use it to post links to articles they want others to read) you don’t have to worry about the company coming in and changing your privacy settings every other month without telling you.

So here I am, eight years late, jumping on the bandwagon. (Oops, did I type that cliché? Well, rather than edit it out I think I’ll keep it in to show it's just as easy to fall back on canned phrases in old media formats as in new ones.) I am particularly enthusiastic about Tweets that provide links to photos along with a news update. Right now the Twitter feed I am most likely to check is @unsuckdcmetro. It lets me know where and how the Metro is currently screwed up. On the practical side, this helps me plan trips; as an added bonus, it’s a frequent source of dark comedy.  A recent example:

Because I follow @washingtonpost on Twitter, I get links to articles/videos that may not make it into the paper – such as this Tweet with a link to a not-really-news video showing a local man’s encounter with a bear on election day: “Obedient bear is listening, open to taking directions from guy who tells it to scram”

DC Alerts @dcalerts is another steady source of updates on the local scene, tweeting on crime, water main breaks, road construction, emergency about a zillion other things that are really so limited in scope you have to wonder why they're in a city-wide alert system (example: on Wednesday, November 12 DCalerts told everyone of a “water outage on Bladensburg Rd NE between Douglass St and Channing St NE, impacting 7 businesses and a church.” 

But the beauty of this site is how easy it is to avoid looking at Tweets that don't interest you. Nothing is thrown in your face. You can always decide how much of anyone’s Twitter feed you want to see. You can un-follow, then re-follow anyone seamlessly, with a single click each time. You can go to someone’s feed without signing on to follow them, and if you have signed on to follow someone, you never have to go there if you don’t want to -- they'll never be the wiser. It’s everything Facebook is not: Quick, convenient, flexible, unobtrusive – a super-efficient way to get something across. And at times it delivers an unexpected little pay-off: a memorable picture you would not otherwise have seen; a funny line; a different take on something you thought you already knew. I leave you with these three Tweets from the past week:  

National Zoo ‏@NationalZoo: Orangutans get mental & physical fitness from the O-Line! Check out Kiko brachiating:#OrangutanCaringWeek 

GuinnessWorldRecords ‏@GWR (via @washingtonpost Did you miss it? Well, here's a roundup of all the awesome records broken on #GWRday this week   

…and without Twitter I would have totally missed the fact that it snowed in our area on Thursday:  Capital Weather Gang @capitalweather: Snow in Sterling!


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