Saturday, April 30, 2016

Still Life with Robin: War of the Birds

Downed birds' nest
by Peggy Robin

It’s war. And it’s happening right on my front porch. It’s been waged in a stealth campaign, in secret raids that have happened under the cover of dusk or dawn -- I’m not sure which…. I’ve only seen the aftermath. I’m not even sure of the species of the combatants. They may all be birds, or one side may be small mammals -- squirrels are always suspect. I can say for sure only that one side is losing. Or may already have lost.

Just two weeks ago, there were no signs of the conflict that would later leave devastation on my porch. There was domestic tranquility, in the form of a well-constructed nest seated securely under the eaves of the front porch roof. This year I did not actually see the nesting pair, but in past years, we’ve had mourning doves. They make a melodious cooing sound (listen to it here: – about 17 seconds in), but otherwise they are quiet, and do no harm. They lay their eggs, incubate them, feed and nurture the chicks until they’re fledged, and then they’re gone.

Perhaps the same pair came back to the same place. Or perhaps there’s competition among birds for that nesting spot. Or it could be the squirrels who control the pear tree in the front yard regard as a threat any creature choosing to build a home within a certain number of feet. I can’t say I understand the motive for the attack; I can only report the result.  About a week ago, I came out to the front porch to find about half the nest down on the porch floor – a scattering of twigs and some kind of cotton-y stuffing. Above me, the other half of the nest appeared to be holding together on the porch beam above. What had produced this odd, semi-destruction? I surmised an attempt to take down the whole nest, that had been, in the end, successfully fought off; the attackers having retreated with the job half done. There was much damage to the nest but it was not irreparable. That was proven within a few days, when I saw the nest restored to its previous shape and size. Though I never saw the reconstruction going on, the birds had made clear that they would do whatever it took to repair, restore, and defend their home. I thought they had won.

Until this morning, that is. I went out to retrieve the newspaper and found the entire nest upside-down on the porch floor. It seems this time, they’d lost all. There’s barely a twig left in the space above. There were no eggs in the mess on the ground – that’s one small mercy. But is this the end of the war? Will they now give up and try to stake out a new territory and build a new home in some other place? Or will they come back and try to reclaim their place in the eaves? Could it be too late in the season for them to do either one? And what determines their course of action? Do they assess the situation? Or blindly follow their instincts? I will admit I know little about these things. But I’m on their side and hope they can recover. Just not here… I think they just can’t win. At least not this year.


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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by I. Sacek (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 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, April 28, all day, Food & Friends Dining Out for Life Day. More than 65 restaurants throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area will donate 25% - 110% of their proceeds to Food & Friends. Simply by dining out, you'll ensure that thousands of children and adults facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses, receive the daily, nutritious meals so vital to their care. For info on participating restaurants and reservations, visit:    

Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 PM, “Migrants, Refugees, Citizens: Arriving in Europe” - A Conversation with Author Maxi Obexer. Maxi Obexer will present excerpts from her recent drama Illegal Helpers (2016), which tells the stories of civil society heroes and heroines before the phrase ‘welcome culture’ existed. In addition, she will read from her essay The Longest Summer, in which she reflects on her own path as an EU citizen from South Tyrol, Italy who applied for German citizenship. She also reflects on and compares her situation to that of undocumented refugees with whom she shares a train to Berlin, and to the complicated status of many migrants living in Europe isolated from one another and yet bound by the invisible threads of bureaucratic terms and categories. The author will discuss her work in English with Professor Katrin Sieg (Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University). Discussion followed by a light reception. Free. At the Goethe-Institut Washington, 1990 K St NW. Please register at:

Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 PM, Washington, DC’s Trolleys and Streetcars - a talk by John DeFerrari, author of  “Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington, DC.” Streetcars were a fixture in Washington, DC from 1862 to 1962 when streetcar transit was discontinued. For nearly 100 years, streetcars were a familiar sight on Wisconsin Avenue and throughout the city. Mr. DeFerrari writes the “Streets of Washington” blog and has authored two additional books: “Lost Washington, DC” and “Historic Restaurants of Washington, DC: Capital Eats.” Free; registration required by email to tenleytownhistoricalsociety @ yahoo dot com. At Friendship Terrace, 4201 Butterworth Place, NW. More info:  

Friday, April 29 at 11 AM, El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros. Celebrate Children's Day/ Book Day with this special program featuring Latin Grammy Award nominee 123 Con Andrés!
Sing, dance, and try out new rhythms and Spanish words with Andrés as he takes children on a musical journey through different Latin American cultures. Free. For children ages birth to 5. At the Mount Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW,     

Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1, Georgetown French Market, a three-day sidewalk festival. Shops, restaurants, and galleries along Wisconsin Avenue from P Street to Reservoir Road are putting on an open-air market with French fare, live music, and all kinds of family activities. Street performers, street food including French pastries and other delights. Fun for all ages. From 10 AM - 5 PM on Friday and Saturday, 12 noon - 5 PM on Sunday.     

Saturday, April 30 from 10 AM on, International Jazz Day celebrated in DC throughout the day, in various locations, many around Dupont Circle, including jazz concerts, discussions, films, and collaborative performances. Some performances are free; others have a cover charge. Full schedule and information on registration at   

Saturday, April 30 from 10 AM - 4 PM, Revolutionary War Encampment: The First Oval Office. Long before the White House, George Washington’s “Oval Office” was a humble camp tent. On April 30, to celebrate its Bicentennial, Tudor Place welcomes a beautiful reproduction of this historic structure to the grand South Lawn. See and experience how America’s future first President slept, ate, and strategized during critical moments of the Revolutionary War. Examine women’s roles in Revolutionary War camps and on the battlefield. Experience Colonial life through interactive candle-making demonstrations and mixing your own tea blends. Read, hear, and discuss stories of African Americans’ role in the Revolution in the historic Conservatory. Washington Camp Tent on loan from the Museum of the American Revolution. Free with advance registration at; $5 per person at door. Tudor Place Historic House and Garden is at 1644 31st St NW.   

Saturday,  April 30, from 5 - 7 PM, SoleilArt "Pop Up" Exhibit at the new La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery, Logan Circle, 1328 14th Street NW. Meet artist and creator, Judith L. Smith, Street parking available. Close to McPherson and Dupont Metros.  

Saturday, April 30 at 3 PM, The Georgetown Chorale presents its 2016 Spring Benefit Concert, "Now Nearer Blow the Bugles." Ralph Vaughan Williams’s powerful Dona Nobis Pacem is presented in the composer’s rarely heard arrangement for strings and piano. Blending the Civil War poetry of Walt Whitman with the cry for peace of the Agnus Dei, the cantata resonates as a tribute to servicemen and women of all nations, a fitting link with the Chorale’s 2015-2016 beneficiary, the Sergeant Sullivan Fund (SSF) of the National Jewish Health. Founded in memory of Marine Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, the SSF raises funds for medical research related to the prevention and treatment of deployment-related illnesses. Choral works by Handel and Parry round out our spring benefit program. Advance tickets: Adults: $25; Students/Children: $15 available online through midnight April 29, 2016 at Tickets at the door: $30; Students/Children: $15. At First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G Street, NW.  

Sunday, May 1 at 10:30 AM, Lecture: The Israeli Mind by Dr. Alon Gratch. The Israeli national character, emerging from the depth of Jewish history and the drama of the Zionist struggle, presents a compelling if disturbing portrait, according to Alon Gratch. Dr. Gratch, an Israeli-American clinical psychologist and author, draws on a broad cultural and historical canvas and weaves in personal and professional experience, in his new book, "The Israeli Mind: How the Israeli National Character Shapes Our World." Learn more about this event, which is free and open to the public, at This lecture is part of the Amram speaker series at Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb Street NW.  

Sunday, May 1 at 11 AM, A Walk along the Georgetown Waterfront. Meet at the fountain at the Georgetown Waterfront Park at Wisconsin Avenue and K Street NW and stroll the Georgetown Waterfront Park to various overlooks, sharing the history of how Georgetown went from an active port town to a vibrant community. Free. Ages 7 and older,    

Sunday, May 1 from 1 - 4 PM, The 5th Annual Running of the Chihuahuas. Enjoy an early celebration of Cinco de Mayo at The Wharf at 600 Water Street SW to watch the Chihuahuas race! No, this is NOT the weekly fake event! We’re not even putting in a weekly fake event this week, because we couldn’t make up anything as good as this real event! Racing entry fees benefit Rural Dog Rescue. In addition to watching the racing pups, you can also listen to live music, drink beer and buy food from food trucks. Free admission. More info at  

Tuesday, May 3 from 5 - 9 PM, The 4th Annual Taste of Adams Morgan. Stroll, sip, and sample your way through one of DC’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Purchase tickets (either 4/$25 or 8/$40) and you're off to explore Adams Morgan! Each ticket is valid for 1 taste at any of the participating restaurants, highlighting their signature dishes or cocktails. Pick up tickets from Little Shop of Flowers, 2421 18th St NW, the day of the event. Taste Guides with a map of all participating restaurants and the dishes they are offering will be handed out at check-in to guide you on your culinary adventure. Purchase online at - proceeds benefit Mary’s Center,  

Wednesday, May 4 at 4 PM, “May the Fourth Be With You - A Star Wars Celebration.” The Palisades Neighborhood Library invites you to celebrate May the Fourth with all things Star Wars. ​Dressing up as your favorite Star Wars character is highly encouraged! Make Star Wars themed crafts, decorate an edible Wookie Cookie, and test your lightsaber skills on a piñata, then at 5 PM, settle in for a showing of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. All ages welcome. Free. Palisades Library is at 4901 V Street NW,      

Wednesday, May 4 at 7 PM, Author Talk by Joe Riener. Join former Wilson high school teacher Joe Riener is the author of two informative nonfiction titles, “Teach Me How to Work and Keep Me Kind” and “Puzzle Me the Right Answer to That One.” Both volumes assert that high school students are quite capable of considering powerful intellectual and emotional matters from the literature they read. This book seeks to honor the noble humanity of young people, despite the many assaults on their dignity in our culture. Free. At the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW,      

Wednesday, May 4 at 7 PM, Book Hill Talks: French Garden Spirit. Art Historian Vanessa Badre will stop by the Meeting Room to discuss her research on French gardens. "From the marvel of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the mythologic Garden of the Hesperides, from the Virgin Mary hortus conclusus to Venus garden of The Dream of Poliphilus, the garden belongs both to myth and reality. It feeds our imagination. What is the spirit of the French formal garden, the famous type of garden which inspired the entirety of 17th century Europe? Geometrical lines imposing order to nature, reveal a vision of the world where man is "master and owner of nature" as wrote French philosopher René Descartes. The garden is a microcosm which expresses the desire of an everlasting power." Free. At Georgetown Library, 3260 R St NW,       

Wednesday, May 4 at 7 PM, “Journey into Europe.” Film Screening and Discussion with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed. Europe today confronts complicated and controversial issues surrounding its Muslim population, including Sharia law, terrorism, the building of mosques, and the pressures of immigration and multiculturalism. With the recent attacks by ISIS in Brussels, these issues are increasingly pressing for Europeans. On Wednesday, May 4 at 7:00 pm at Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb Street NW), Ambassador Akbar Ahmed joins us for a Congregational Conversations Keynote where we will screen his documentary, “Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity” and reflect on the challenges of interfaith conflict presented in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's book, “Not in God's Name.” Ambassador Ahmed, a world-renowned Muslim anthropologist, will give us an in-depth look at Muslim life across Europe and the attitudes and perceptions of Europeans regarding their Muslim neighbors. Learn more at Free. At Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb Street NW, More about the film at  

Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 PM, The Cleveland & Woodley Park Village 2nd Annual Spring Fling - It’s a Fiesta! Come celebrate!  It’s Cinco de Mayo! Enjoy a night of dancing and toe-tapping to the sounds of Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra! Enjoy our guest speaker, neighbor and author, Judith Viorst! Sign up for a Cleveland & Woodley Park Village Salon Event. Join local celebrities and experts on a variety of topics in our neighbor’s homes. Or try your luck to place the winning bid at our silent auction. Try for seats at a Nationals game, or a week at a Montana ranch near Yellowstone National Park. Tickets benefit the Cleveland & Woodley Park Village, starting at $150: available at . Questions? Please email info @ clevelandwoodleyparkvillage dot org.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Still Life with Robin: Everyone Out on Thursday!

Food and Friends image
by Peggy Robin

If you eat out only a few times a year, then this coming Thursday, April 28, should be your day to do it. If you eat out a lot, then just add Thursday to your calendar as you make your restaurant reservations. And if you eat out a moderate amount, then be sure to plan to do so this coming Thursday. In other words, everyone out of the kitchen on Thursday! Why? Because on Thursday you have the chance to enjoy a good meal at a restaurant that will devote some or all of the proceeds of your check to provide food to people in this area who struggling with serious illness. The food is delivered by friendly volunteers working for Food & Friends  

This all happens at an annual event called Dine Out for Life. I’ve been pushing it in this column for the past few years because I’ve observed firsthand how it works, both as a diner and once, as a volunteer food deliverer. It’s the perfect illustration of a win-win scenario. You get a meal at a restaurant that you select from a list of restaurants – you can search by neighborhood, type of cuisine, or percentage given to Food & Friends – and so get the type of meal you want in the location that suits you best – and someone else who has difficulty going shopping or cooking gets a tasty, healthy meal delivered right to their door.

Click on to use the restaurant filters to pick the place you’d like from over 60 restaurants in DC or close-in Maryland or Virginia. You can reserve through Open Table:

Here’s the description direct from Food & Friends about what it does:

Food & Friends is the only nonprofit organization in the Washington, DC area providing daily, home-delivered, specialized meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to individuals who are battling HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. The funds raised through Dining Out for Life allow Food & Friends to continue to provide these critical services at NO COST to our clients []

On top of that, Charity Navigator gives Food & Friends its top rating for transparency and accountability, so you know the organization is well run and doing what it says it’s doing. And all you need to do to support its work is have a nice meal out on Thursday! Enjoy!

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Get Out! - The Events Column

NASA - public domain
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, April 21 from 5 - 7 PM, Family Earth Day at Lafayette School, featuring fun-filled and earth inspired activities focused on environmental stewardship, including: nature crafts projects; a bike blender utilizing human energy to make delicious smoothies; park clean up with Friends of Lafayette Park; RiverSmart residential program information for sustainable gardens; dinners by Galley Foods (order at; bluegrass music; seed giveaways, composting demos and more! We will have an e-waste disposal site at the event. Bring small items that you cannot throw away in the regular trash: light bulbs, household batteries, household chemicals, and small electronics no larger that 12"x12". Free. At Lafayette Elementary School, 5701 Broad Branch Rd NW. More info:  

Thursday, April 21 from 7:30 - 9 PM, Ensemble-in-Residence INTERFERENCE presents their fourth performance, “Washington Landscape,” in the ongoing series “Connected: Music in the Museum.” This ambulatory experience combines new music technology with the visually stimulating museum environment. Concerts are free and open to the public. Presented in partnership with the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France. At the Katzen Arts Center of American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. More info:  

Friday, April 22 from 5 - 9:30 PM, “Eight to Infinity,” a multi-media, multi-cultural, multi-generational program celebrating Ecologic Institute's 8th anniversary on Earth Day. This event features: Artworks by Terry Thomas's 5th Graders from DC's Seaton Elementary; Andrea Wulf, renowned author of The Invention of Nature; Camilla Bausch, Director of Ecologic Institute Berlin and founder of the EnergyTransitionArt project; and students presenting artworks on their perceptions of nature and the environment. Because it is our birthday, cake will be served, donated from the newest member of the neighborhood, Un je ne sais Quoi, pâtisserie française. Following the speakers, a lightly-catered reception with live music will take place. Free. Please register for the event at At the Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Court NW, behind the Phillips Collection  

Saturday, April 23 from 9 AM - 12 PM, The Rock Creek Conservancy’s 8th Annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup. Join with volunteers to remove trash and debris at over 75 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek. The three-hour cleanup will bring together kids, families, and adults of all ages to pick up litter from the creek and woodlands. Full details at To find a volunteer site near you, go to  

Saturday, April 23 from 9 AM to 9 PM, Tenleytown Earth Day. Multiple events, starting with Wisconsin Avenue Beautification, 9 AM - noon. Join with Tenleytown Main Street and Rock Creek Conservancy to help clean up Wisconsin Avenue from Fessenden St. to Tenley Circle. All ages welcome! Volunteer sign-in at Fessenden and Wisconsin. Family Earth Day Story-time and Recycled Materials Crafts at the Tenley-Friendship Library starting at 10:30 AM. Battery and Electronics Recycling at Best Buy Tenleytown from 10 AM - 9 PM. For Tenleytown Earth Day, Best Buy will waive the $30 per household fee for TV recycling. To see what will be accepted, check  

Saturday, April 23 from 10 AM - 2 PM, Earth Day Community Recycling Fair at St. Alban’s Church. Have old computers and printers? Bring them to Project Reboot to be refurbished for low-income families in our area. How about a used bicycle or parts? Bring them to Bikes for the World so they can be fixed and shipped where they're most needed. Also collecting VHS and cassette tapes for recycling, and household batteries (tape the positive terminal) and CFL bulbs for safe disposal. Representatives from DC’s Office of Recycling will be there to answer questions. Veterans Compost will show you how to make your own compost. Kids can plant milkweed seeds in pots to take home to attract butterflies. Free refreshments. At St. Alban's Church, 3001 Wisconsin Ave.  

Saturday, April 23 from 10 AM - 2 PM, “Centennial Junior Ranger Day” at Rock Creek Park. Earn your Junior Ranger badge by completing the activities in the free Centennial Junior Ranger book (ages 5 and up). Workshops for kids: Learn how to make a map (ages 8 and up); learn how to make a cornhusk doll (ages 6 and up); learn how to tie knots (ages 6 and up). Free. At Peirce Mill, Tilden Street and Beach Drive.  

Saturday, April 23 from 10 AM - 2 PM, Earth Day at the Zoo. Enjoy a day of  green-themed activities. You'll have the chance to get gardening tips from our expert horticulturists, take a tour of the Zoo's green facilities, attend special demonstrations, and more. If you are among the first 75 to bike to the zoo, you will receive free bike valet parking at the Zoo and a free recycled notebook! Register at  

Saturday, April 23 at 1 PM, Peabody Room Author Talks: “Secret Washington, DC.” Sharon Pendana's guidebook “Secret Washington, DC” takes the reader to a Darth Vader grotesque on a church, a giant chair, the longest escalator in the western hemisphere and even the Georgetown Neighborhood Library's Peabody Room! Far from the crowds and the usual clichés, Washington, DC is a reserve of well-concealed treasures revealed only to those who know how to wander off the beaten track. Free. The Georgetown Library is at 3260 R St. NW,    

Sunday, April 24 from 11 AM - 3 PM, The Lab School’s 2016 Spring Fair at the Dragon’s Lair. Come and enjoy games and rides, laser tag, giant slide, DJ, food and drink, and prizes. Rain or shine. Free admission, tickets for games and rides are $1 per ticket. At the Lab School, 4759 Reservoir Road NW.  

Sunday, April 24 from 1 - 2 PM, Mercury Day Parade. Now that we’re all done with Earth Day for the year, it’s time to celebrate a more obscure planet. Our well-known neighbors, Venus and Mars, seem to stay in the news, and sometimes even make it into the movies….but what about poor, moonless Mercury? It seems no one ever pays much attention to that small, hot first rock from the sun. Today is the day to compensate for all the neglect by celebrating all things related to Mercury. Starting at 1 PM there will be a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue of Ford Mercuries, followed by a band of Mercury Theater Marchers (all dressed as Orson Welles), then a float in the form of a giant mercury thermometer. After that will come a string of Freddy Mercury impersonators, all taking a turn at the mike to do a few lines of Bohemian Rhapsody until the entire 6 minute song has been sung. And to end the show, runners dressed as Mercury, the messenger of the gods, will carry a banner proclaiming the brilliance of Mercury the planet. You can still sign up to join in any of the parade contingents, by registering at  

Sunday, April 24 from 12 noon - 4 PM, Shakespeare’s Birthday at the Folger Library. Music, theater, a special appearance by Queen Elizabeth I herself, swordfighting demonstrations, Shakespeare Insult Battle, food trucks, discussions from Folger curators and scholars, tours of the Folger’s reading rooms, birthday cake, and much more! Free admission. The Folger Shakespeare Library is at 201 East Capitol Street SE. Full details at  

Monday April 25 at 12 Noon, DC History: Student Research on the History of Foggy Bottom.
After a semester of working with the museum's Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection and Gelman Library Special Collections, among many other local repositories, students in GW Professor Christopher Klemek’s Washington, DC: History, Culture, and Politics class present their original research on Foggy Bottom and the city. The research will be the latest addition to the university’s Digital DC history website: More info on the class:  

Monday, April 25 from 3:30 - 5 PM, “How Safe Is Your Home?” - a talk by Stephen Hage of Strategies for Independent Living, presented as part of the Dupont Circle Village “Live and Learn” series to help seniors “age in place.” Discussion of design adaptations to help seniors and people with disabilities live safely in their own homes. Free for members of Dupont Circle Village, $10 for others. Please reserve by calling 202-234-2567. At the Hamilton House Apartments, lower floor meeting room, 1255 New Hampshire Avenue NW,  

Wednesday, April 27 at 7 AM, Bird Walk. Learn to identify birds through sight and sound and learn why migratory birds choose Rock Creek Park as a stopover on their long seasonal journey. Free. Ages 8 and up. Starts at Rock Creek Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road NW,      

Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 PM, Historic Chevy Chase DC invites the public to a free talk by Dr. Blair Ruble, author of “Washington’s U Street: A Biography” (2010). Chevy Chase DC was planned as a white suburban enclave, with racial covenants, and experienced dramatic expansion in the 1920s. Although the housing boom subsided in the depressed '30s, another wave of arrivals associated with New Deal programs populated all of the District. Dr. Ruble will describe the appearance of the nation's first thriving black bourgeoisie and its effect on Jim Crow traditions throughout the city. Blair Ruble, a prominent urbanist, is currently Vice President for Programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center and Director of the Center's Urban Policy Laboratory. Dr. Ruble's presentation and discussion will be followed at 8:45 p.m. by a short HCCDC business meeting at which all are welcome. Light refreshments will be served. Free. In the Lounge of the Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue NW, corner of McKinley St.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Still Life With Robin: The Week in Popville

Photo by Fletcher6 (via Creative Commons)
by Peggy Robin

I am just back from a week-long driving tour of the Deep South (Savannah to Tuscaloosa, with stopovers in Warm Springs, GA and Montgomery, AL). I know I have missed out on a number of things going on in DC, but I have turned to one of the most consistently informative and entertaining local bloggers, Prince of Petworth, ( to fill me in. (Cribbing from Popville is is also a quick & dirty way to knock off a column.)

First and most important, I was extremely glad to have missed yet another example of “Can the Metro get any worse?”….with passengers stuck for over an hour on a dead train, and no word from Metro on what was happening. Popville had a good, firsthand account:

And after that reminder of what’s wrong with life in DC, it’s good to see a fine example of something that makes me love this area --  a splendid “house of the day” from Cleveland Park (April 13):

Not only “house of the day” but also a Cleveland Park “garden of the day” – this one with a pop quiz, “What is this flag flying on the house?” (April 13)
(Read the comments to find the answer, if “Cymru dragon” doesn’t ring a bell.)

….and from dragons to ducks: Guardian ducks safeguarding a downtown coffee house. No explanation given. (April 14):
All in all, a wacky, varied week on the Popville beat! 

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

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Still Life with Robin: Murphy, Murphy, Murphy!

Photo credit: 4028mdk09 via Creative Commons
by Peggy Robin

Wouldn’t you know that the day scheduled for my spring A/C maintenance check, it would be 35 degrees out, and it wouldn’t feel so hot (hah!) to have blasts of cold air coming out of the vents? This was on Wednesday. Something told me we’d been in this situation before, and all it took was a quick search of my digital calendar to find it. Yep, on the date of the last fall HVAC maintenance check, to make sure that the system was up to the task for the coming heating season, it happened to be 78 degrees out. And so we had to turn the thermostat way, way up to make sure the system worked.

This just proves that Murphy’s Law and all its hundreds of corollaries work just as everyone says they do. (For the best source of Murphy’s Law+variations and related phenomena, go to:

From the AC on at 35 on Wednesday, to today, however, I seem to be in a veritable Murphy’s Law perpetual motion machine.

On Thursday I was in line at the grocery store and noticed that this particular checkout seemed to be at a standstill. I looked around at all the other lines, mentally counting up the number of customers in each line times the estimated number of items in their baskets, I selected the likeliest to progress quickly, and moved over to that lane. I already knew from many past experiences that checkout line-switching is a fine way to watch Murphy’s Law in action. Of course things moved quickly in the new line…at first. But then, as the cashier got to the man right in front of me (basket containing about 15 items), this customer pulled from his pocket a handful of coupons. Eight, perhaps ten! My brain was berating me for my sexist assumptions – no, no, MEN don’t use coupons; I purposely avoid lines with OLDER WOMEN because I believe in my heart that they are the ones slowing things down with their thrifty, coupon-wielding, line-delaying ways. By the time I had absorbed the reality that I was stuck behind a male multi-coupon bearer, I heard the cashier utter those dreaded words: “I can call the manager.” Apparently, one of the coupons was no good. Expired maybe. Or presented for the wrong product. I had already unloaded my cart onto the conveyer belt; still, I glanced around desperately at all the other lines, now all considerably longer than before. I even looked at the self-checkout registers. Lines there, too. And past experience with self-checkout had already taught me that the possibilities for failure of a DIY checkout are equal to or slightly greater than the number of products to be rung up. And then you have to wait for a manager to bail you out. Well, I was already waiting for a manager. So I hung on in the same line. Eventually I made it home with the groceries.

Then came Friday, and I was using those groceries to cook a big dinner for some out-of-town relatives. Here comes the Hat Trick of the Murphy’s Law series. I am halfway through the recipe, using the ingredients I bought the day before, when I realize I forgot to get one crucial item, without which the cooking must come to a halt -- I can go no further. I’ve got to go back to the store and get that one thing. No, not the same store as the day before. It’s Friday at rush hour, and the lines there will be insanely long. However, I have a much smaller store within walking distance. It will be a quick dash down the block to buy the thing I need, and all will be well. And that’s when the primary dictum of Murphy’s Law of the Kitchen kicks in: “If a dish depends upon a single ingredient, that’s the one you will discover you are out of.” And its corollary, “…and that’s the one that you will find out-of-stock in the store.”

All was not lost. I used my smartphone to Google other, similar recipes for an acceptable substitute, which the store did have on hand, and went home to create an edible meal. If, to quote another popular saying, “bad things come in threes,” I guess I’m done with this run. To quote one more old saw, “It could always be worse!” And with that in mind, I’m grateful for small snafus.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 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 15,900+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, April 7 from 10 AM - 6:30 PM, UDC Law School Symposium: “Legal Strategies for an Emerging Civil Rights Movement: Protest Movements of the 1960s to #BlackLivesMatter." At the David A. Clarke School of Law, Moot Court Room, University of the District of Columbia, 4340 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free, but registration required at

Thursday, April 7 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM, “The Man with the (Urban) Plan” -  A DC Humanitini Happy Hour event. As part of DC’s 225th birthday celebration, DC Humanitini hosts a Happy Hour talk focusing on the legacy of Civil War Brigadier General Montgomery C. Meigs, who laid the foundation for the city’s current urban plan. Meigs made his mark on the city ordering the construction of bridges, the Washington Aqueduct, and serving on a committee responsible for choosing the final plan for the city's Civil War defenses. Modern planners and local community leaders will discuss the legacy of Meigs' work, and how it has helped or hindered the physical and social development of the city. Panelists include DC historians, planners and anthropologists. Free. At Busboys and Poets at 14th & V Street NW. Register at

Friday April 8 at 12 PM, Lunch and a Movie, “The Taming of the Shrew,” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Free. At Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street NW. No reservations needed for the movie, which starts at 1 PM. The deadline for lunch reservations was Wednesday, April 6.

Friday, April 8 at 6 PM, Crush Funk Brass Band Concert on the field at Guy Mason Recreation Center, hosted by the Friends of Guy Mason and Erin Sobanski of Long & Foster. Free. Food trucks will be on hand. At 3600 Calvert Street NW. More info:

Saturday, April 9 from 12 noon - 4 PM, Arts on the Bloc - annual studio tour. This year’s theme is “Garden Arts” - see Tour our creative space; meet our talented apprentice artists. Refreshments; Raffle; Mosaic-making; Fun for all ages! Free admission. Studio is at 4218 Howard Ave., 3rd Floor, Kensington,MD. Parking available behind the building.

Saturday, April 9 at 1 PM, Peabody Room Series: Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing Democracy’s Great Outdoors. Jamie Stiehm, a Creators Syndicate columnist and contributor to, will discusses how America’s first landscape architect made the US Capitol’s grounds, gardens, and veranda sing of democracy. In the Peabody Room (3rd Floor) of the Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street NW,

Saturday, April 9 from 7 - 9 PM, Levine Music’s JazzFest: Open Jam Session - The Great American Songbook. Join Levine Music Jazz Program Chair Gary Prince (guitar/bass), along with faculty members, Jeffrey Chappell (piano), Andrew Hare (drums), and Matthew Stuver (saxophone) for an open jam session focusing on the music of The Great American Songbook. The Jazz Jam is open to instrumentalists and vocalists of all ages and skill levels, as well as those who simply prefer to listen. Amplifiers, pianos, and drum kits are provided. At the DC Campus: 2801 Upton Street NW, Lang Recital Hall.  Open to the public to play and observe. Free with RSVP at

Sunday, April 10 from 2 - 4 AM, Infant ScreamFest. Parents of newborns to six-month-olds are often up in the wee hours with a colicky baby. Haven’t you ever wondered whether your middle-of-the-night screamer would chime in with other babies if he or she had the chance? Now you can find out! When your baby has you up late on Saturday night or super-early on a Sunday morning, don’t walk the floor -- strap the baby into a carseat and drive to the Syncopation Room at UDC’s Performance Studios where you can meet other parents of crying babies, while our musicians provide a backbeat and some jazz riffs on various instruments (the “wailing sax” and "wheezing accordian" among others) and see if we can get the babies to turn into a chorus. Earplugs provided, or bring your own. Free, but please register and fill out liability waiver at

Sunday, April 10 at 3 PM, Concert by pianist Ralitza Patcheva, cellist Vasily Popov, and flutist Nikolai Popov (from the Bolshoi Orchestra), performing trios and duets by Beethoven, von Weber, Villa-Lobos, and others. This free concert is presented by the the Arts Council of Metropolitan Memorial UMC and will be followed by a reception and the opening of a show of recent photos of Cuba by Yvonnick Renard. Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave. NW. More info:

Sunday, April 10 at 3:30 PM, “The 3 Trebles Festival” concert, featuring the Children’s Chorus of Washington, the Boston Children’s Chorus, and the Princeton GirlChoir. Free. At St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 4700 Whitehaven Parkway NW,   

Sunday, April 10 at 2 PM, Author talk: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of the bestselling “Wench” will discusses her new novel “Balm.” The story takes place during the Civil War era, exploring the next chapter of history - the trauma of the Civil War and the end of slavery.  This program is presented as part of the Spring Author Series at the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library.  Ms. Perkins-Valdez will be in conversation with Bernardine (Dine) Watson, a writer/poet who was recently appointed to the Ward 4 Arts and Humanities Committee. Free. At the Takoma Park Library, 416 Cedar Street NW,

Monday, April 11 at 12 noon, “Alexander Graham Bell in Washington.” Carlene Stephens, curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, oversees a collection of recently re-discovered early sound recordings made in the 1880s by Alexander Graham Bell in his Volta Laboratory in Washington, DC. Learn about Bell's research on recorded sound and his life in a city that, in his time, brimmed with science, technology, and invention. Free. At the George Washington Unversity Museum and Textile Museum, 701 21st St NW. More info:

Tuesday, April 12 at 7 PM, Parenting Without Power Struggles, presented by Claire Lerner, L.C.S.W.-C. Claire Lerner has served as the Director of Parenting Resources at Zero to Three for over 18 years, overseeing the development of all parenting content, print and digital. She is the author of over 100 parenting publications and articles in addition to podcast and video series’ for parents and professionals. Claire has also been a practicing clinician for over 27 years, providing parent education and consultation to families with young children. Free. No RSVP necessary. At the Community Preschool of the Palisades, 5200 Cathedral Ave. NW,

Wednesday, April 13 from 1:30 - 3:30 PM, Lincoln Ideas Forum. Notable thinkers in a variety of fields will convene at President Lincoln's Cottage for a dynamic symposium discussing the intersection of their contemporary work with President Lincoln's life and legacy. Following their presentations, the audience will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions generated by the themes and issues discussed. Participants include Lincoln scholars, experts on modern slavery, and civil war historians, among others. For all the details about this event and to RSVP, go to This is a free public program, but space is limited to 60 attendees. Location: President Lincoln's Cottage, 140 Rock Creek Church Road, NW  

Wednesday, April 13 at 7 PM, Screening of the documentary film "Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA." Featuring personal stories from people across our nation, "Making a Killing" puts a face on the survivors, victims, and families whose lives have been altered forever by gun violence. The film also exposes how powerful gun companies and the NRA are resisting responsible legislation for the sake of profit.Visit to learn more and RSVP for this event. Free. At Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb Street NW.