Saturday, October 17, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Just Two Weeks to Decide.....

Pumpkin by Built by Kids
by Peggy Robin

You have a big decision coming up in just two weeks. You have to focus on the right thing to do….. No, I’m not talking about the election. If you haven't decided by now how you will vote, at least for the top of the ticket, I can't help you. Anyway, you don't have to wait two weeks and 3 days on that decision. I hope you have voted already or plan to do so soon. No reason to stand in a line on election day. 

No, I’m talking about something with a more complicated moral matrix: Halloween Trick-or-Treating. Should you or shouldn't you? Can it be done safely? Will any other kids be out there? If you decide to stay in, can your kids still have a fun Halloween?   

I don’t pretend to have all the answers.    

But assuming that the CDC hasn’t been overrun by political appointees with a nefarious, anti-science agenda, here’s what the doctors and scientists advise: 

It's a yes on trick-or-treating, provided you follow the safety protocols they lay out on this website:    

The main thing is to deliver the candy to the kids in a contact free way. Time to get creative! 

You can make a candy chute or slide:   

How about shooting the candy up into the air and letting it rain down on the kids in a sugar storm? You can make this candy cannon:  (Just be sure to choose small, light candies....or else make the kids wear helmets.)  

Want to avoid anything that involves ballistics? Try a zipline instead: 

For about a dozen other candy-delivery modes and trick-or-treat alternatives, including a remote control candy car, or a candy scavenger hunt at home, go to Eater DC:  

If this strikes you as too much work, too much pressure to revamp the holiday to fit these scary times, then maybe just relax and have a quiet little Halloween at home with just your own family....or maybe invite just one other family into your home. And what better family for this occasion than The Addams Family! You can all sing along -- and snap along -- with them:


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

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Get Out! And Walk Through Blue Art In Real Life

Crystalline: Classic Blue at Artechouse
Oct 15 2020 - Jan 3 2021

by Peggy Robin

The highlighted event of this week’s “Get Out!”  feature is an art installation, Crystalline, to celebrate the Pantone Color of the Year 2020: It’s Classic Blue. Yes, it’s been a blue year, in multiple senses of the word. And now you can walk right through it and come out the other side.

It's at Artechouse DC:

Sorry, it’s not free. But it does offer reduced prices for seniors, children, military and first responders. I think you will find it so refreshing to experience a real in-person art walk that you won't balk at the price.

Here's the teaser from Artechouse:


“During these unprecedented times as a society we have found ourselves in a new state of existence. Before 2020 even began, Pantone selected Classic Blue as the color of the year because they saw it as the hue to sustain us during a time of change,” said Sandro Keserelidze, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of ARTECHOUSE. “2020 ended up bringing changes no one expected, making the hue of Classic Blue, and the qualities it represents, more relatable now than ever before. We couldn’t think of a more timeless and timely theme to end the year and launch a new chapter of experiences.”  

More about Crystalline: Classic Blue:

CRYSTALLINE - October 15th - January 3rd 

To wrap up this unprecedented year, we’re transforming our three locations into unique expressions of Pantone’s Color of the Year 2020: Classic Blue. From earth to water to air, each location will present a distinct, elemental experience related to the unique qualities of the color. Imprinted in our psyches as a restful color, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit. The new installations seek to do the same; centering our thoughts and fostering resilience.

Inspired by blue’s dependable qualities, Crystalline in DC explores the color’s connection with earth and crystals through a journey that is both an adventure and a contemplation—an exploration through an illusory, blue-hued castle. Representative of our desire for a stable foundation that often feels out of reach during these turbulent times, this surreal yet familiar place offers guests a refuge from the everyday. Discover creative curiosities in each room as you learn more about your surroundings and yourself. Submerge yourself in the sights, sounds and sensations of Classic Blue.

Now through January 3, 2021

for Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE DC
MON - THU // 12PM - 8PM
FRI - SUN // 10AM - 10PM

Buy tickets  -- and you had better hurry ! Lots of dates are already sold out! 

Sessions are every 30 mins. Please arrive on time. 

Read about covid safety procedures here:

TICKETS for Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE DC
ADULTS (16+) $24*
CHILDREN (4-15) $17*
*Pricing does not include tax & fee

11am, up to 12 visitors $250
8pm up to 20 visitors $500

The installation is open to all ages. Visitors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older at all times. ​
​Those purchasing discounted tickets will require proof of age or status.

1238 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
Map and directions:

The "Get Out!" column highlights one event for the coming week. This column is also available at All Life Is Local:  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Still Life With Robin: What's that Buzzing Overhead?

Photo by Tech Sgt Hans Deffner 
via Wikimedia Commons

by Peggy Robin

You’re not going crazy. There really are more helicopters than ever, roaring around the DC metro area.

Ever wanted to know who’s in the chopper and what they’re doing buzzing overhead? Now you can. There’s a Twitter feed that tracks them. It’s called Helicopters of DC and you can find it here: - @HelicoptersofDC 

So now I know who was buzzing along the Potomac between Georgetown and Arlington a few hours ago:  

It was a Medstar medical helicopter. There. Now that noise is a lot less annoying because I know someone's being flown to a hospital. 

The one that was flying over Congress Heights less than an hour ago was a police helicopter tracking a suspect fleeing from the scene of an assault with a deadly weapon (knife):    

Next time I hear that chopper circling and circling up above, I’m going to open up my Twitter feed and go right to @HelicoptersofDC to see if I can find out, literally, what’s up.  

There’s also a separate twitter feed for both planes and helicopters, called SkyCirclesDC - @SkyCirclesDC. Find it at:  

If you don’t want to sign up for Twitter notifications, but just would like to read about the guy who created the Helicopters of DC Twitter account – a guy who can answer practically any and all the DC helicopter-related questions thrown at him – then you should enjoy this article from the Washingtonian website:  [or try this: - if the long link above is broken]   

Knowing who’s up there and why they’re buzzing around isn’t going to restore peace and quiet in the sky….but at least it can ease your mind to learn there’s a purpose behind the noise, and maybe give you an idea of how long it will go on.  

And now for a little glimmer of hope for a better future – quieter helicopters may one day become a thing:  

If not, here’s a cartoon helicopter with a bouncy little kiddie song that may help you to view copters in a happier light:  


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

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Stay In! And Celebrate....Columbus Day?!


by Peggy Robin

The event we’re highlighting for the “Stay In!” events column for the coming week is Columbus Day.

“Columbus Day?!?” I hear you say. “No, that isn’t right!”

You must think I’ve forgotten a very pertinent fact: that just around this time last year, right before Columbus Day 2019, the DC Council passed emergency legislation to de-Columbusize the holiday, stripping that colonizing slave-trader’s name from the calendar and replacing it with a day to honor the people of the land who were here ages before the Italian sea captain first showed up and claimed he’d “discovered” them. So the Monday off work in DC is now officially known as Indigenous Peoples Day. We can shorten it to IPD.

No, I haven’t forgotten. The trouble is, whoever is in charge of DPW’s website apparently has.

Take a look:


10/12 Columbus Day à TUESDAY OCT. 13 SLIDE GUIDE

Yes, there he is – Columbus – unreplaced and still stuck on a Monday.

And, y’know, if there’s one thing we all do together in DC to observe a legal holiday, it’s this: We put our trash out, not on the usual day of the week, but we “slide” it over to the next day. That’s our DC way of marking the holiday.

Sure, we may do some other things, too, if we can. Go watch a parade….but that’s not happening in time of coronavirus. Or go out shopping for a new mattress or for any number of other household goods on sale. But we’re all sticking to the internet for that sort of thing, aren't we? Maybe take your high school seniors on college tours? Not happening…’s all virtual touring now. So we’ll just do our trash slide thing and call it a day. Not much of a holiday, is it?

I’m thinking we should just view the whole of 2020 as our do-over year, and hope that by the second Monday in October, 2021, we’ll have planned a whole host of exciting things to do IRL to celebrate the heritage and culture of the Indigenous People who now have a holiday in their honor. Parades, dances, eating and drinking together at crowded tables, maybe even talking up close with friendly strangers from out-of-town and not worrying about what you might catch! And maybe by the time we’re getting ready to do all that, DPW will have put the right holiday name on their PDF Slide Guide.

Oh, by the way, kudos to Department of Human Resources – THEY got it right! See:

Happy  IPD, everyone!


The “Stay In” events column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Still Life with Robin: What More Could Go Wrong?

Things sometimes don't go quite as planned....

By Peggy Robin

What a week! It’s been like Murphy’s Law on steroids. 

Not much fun for anyone, either.

But not all bad news is really awful. Sometimes people screw up so badly, it’s funny. And a bit of funny might be a relief right now.

In the hope of a smile, I present the gallery of photos labeled “You had just ONE job” –showing through series  of pictures things that did not go quite as the designer planned.

Rest assured: No real people or animals were harmed in the making of this compilation of design failures, misleading signage, and things badly out of place: (and if in keeping with the spirit of failure you should discover that the long link above does not work, try this short link:

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

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Stay In! And Play the "What's With Washington?" Trivia Game

Play "What's With Washington?" Trivia Game
We're highlighting just one event for the "Stay In" column this week -- and no, it's not "The Get Plastered So You Can Forget You Ever Watched That Soul-Destroying Debate" event. It's the event you can do while sober and engaging your memory about Washington, DC Trivia. 
It's on tonight from 7:30 to 8:30, and if you sign up before 5 PM, you will be sent the Zoom link to participate. 
It would be great if we had a winner from Cleveland Park!
Here's the announcement from my favorite local radio station (and I would bet big bucks that it's the favorite of the majority of Cleveland Parkers!), WAMU:
Join us for another night of What’s With Washington Virtual Trivia! Test your knowledge of the Washington region’s history, geography, culture and …hint hint… D.C.’s push for statehood during this live Zoom event. You’ll also get a chance to win a pair of What’s With Washington socks.
Mikaela Lefrak of WAMU’s What’s With Washington podcast will host trivia night on Thursday, October 1, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET. The event is free and open to everyone.
To participate, pre-register by 5 p.m. ET on October 1. All registered participants will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to our virtual event on Zoom. Live closed captioning service will be provided.
If we do get a winner who gets the prize pair of What's With Washington socks, I want you to take a picture of yourself in the socks and send it to the Listserv. And I promise you will also win one of the famous Cleveland Park Listies, handed out at the end of the year!
-Peggy Robin

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Who Are All These Candidates?

by Peggy Robin    

As it's almost October, when the DC government will start to mail out ballots to all registered voters, it's time to start thinking seriously about that council seat that's up for grabs. You know the one I'm talking about. It's the one with about a hundred people going for the same position. OK, I exaggerate. It's not really a hundred -- more like a couple of dozen. Maybe you've heard of some of them. Surely you’ve noticed the explosion of yard signs with their names, popping up everywhere over the past few weeks. But what do you really know about any of them? Not much beyond the name....if that.  

That's my situation, for sure. Yes, I know there was a Candidates Forum the other day. I could have tuned in via Zoom. Actually, it was one of three forums -- there were too many candidates for them all to appear at the same time. Call me lazy…but I just wasn't willing to invest the hours it would take to listen to so many candidates, each speaking in their little Zoom boxes, trying to win my vote. It’s just too much. ("OVERLOAD, Will Robinson, OVERLOAD. Cannot process!")   

Before I get into what I'm doing to find out who all these people are, I think I need to back up a bit, and explain how this At-Large Council race works:   

So, there are 24 people running for the two At-Large seats. But not really. The way the Council is set up, there's one At-Large seat reserved for a member of a "non majority party"– in other words, anything-but-a-Democrat. The other seat is already held by a Democrat, Robert White, and he's running for re-election. Unless there’s a stunning, totally-out-of-left-field upset in the works. Robert White holds a safe seat….meaning, there’s really only one seat in contention here, and 23 candidates who want it. Twenty of them are calling themselves "independents. There’s one Libertarian: Joseph Henchman (how's that for a sinister name?); one Statehood/Green Party person: Ann Wilcox; and one very lonely Republican: Marya Pickering.    

Who are all these people? To learn the basics about them, a good place to start is on the DC Geekery website, run by Keith Ivey, who is the very definition of a DC political geek. He loves to keep track of the details. On his site you will find all the candidates listed by name and party (or lack thereof), followed by a notation to indicate if they are using or seeking public financing for their campaign, and then a link to their websites and contact information.   

Next, to dip your toes a little deeper into the water, you might to move on to this story in the Washington Post, which identifies the four leading contenders, Ed Lazere, Marcus Goodwin, Christina Henderson, and Vincent Orange, Sr. -- and actually tells you a few substantive bits about each. There's a quick mention of two others, Markus Batchelor and Monica Palacio, each identified by positions they've held -- vice president of the DC State Board of Education and head of the DC Office of Human Rights, respectively -- and then the other 17 names are all bunched together in the very last sentence of the article, with nothing more said about any of them. See    

Still not enough to help you form an opinion? Maybe what you need to know is who likes which candidates – and by that I mean, who's endorsing whom. Washington City Paper can help you with that one:      

Now as to stands on our important local's where I run out of steam. I tried (not very hard, I’ll admit) to find an article or a grid showing a run-down on where these 24 candidates stand on the seven or eight major questions of the day, but didn’t find any good links to provide for you now. I suppose there will be a voter guide coming out closer to the election that will attempt to do so. It will certainly be a slog of a read.   

Let me close with something of more practical value in this election: The Washington Post's FAQ to voting in DC. Need to know something about registration deadlines? Mail-in voting? Ballot drop-off locations? Early voting? Or in-person voting on Election Day? You will find it here:    

Have a question that's not answered in the Post's DC Election FAQ? You could try the DC BOE website, but I say don’t bother. It's a jumble of poorly organized information, written in bad bureaucratese. Why not ask the CP Listserv? Its Hive Mind Knows All! (And doesn’t that make a good acronym? HiMiKAll (pronounced Hi-Mikall !).   

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

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Get Out! And Pay Your Respects....


by Peggy Robin

This week’s  “Get Out” column is highlighting just two events – both commemorative – and each in its own way a reflection on the actions of those who fought for our rights, human dignity and equality: One honors the life of an individual, Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the other, the commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and pays tribute to the hundreds of thousands who fought and died to defeat the Axis powers.

Today – Thursday, September 24 – is the second day that the body of RBG will lie in repose at the top of the front steps to the Supreme Court. You can pay your respects from 9:30 AM until 10 PM. On Friday, she will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Building. There will be a formal ceremony for invited guests. 

The following week interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery, where she will be buried next to her husband, with a private service.

More information here:

On Friday, September 25 you can look to the skies over the National Mall to see a flyby of vintage World War II aircraft to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Allied Forces over the Nazis in Europe. This event was originally scheduled for May 8, 2020, on the actual 75th anniversary of V-E Day, but it was postponed until September 25 – a date by which the schedulers may have assumed the pandemic would be over and done with.

If you go to the Mall, please be prepared for crowds. It’s a large enough outdoor space that if you’ve got a good, tight-fitting mask and are careful about keeping your distance, you should be safe.

Here's DCist’s description of the event: "Vintage warbirds will fly south over the Potomac River from Northern Virginia in sequence. They’ll fly east over Independence Avenue along the National Mall before turning around near the U.S. Capitol and heading back to Virginia.

"The first formation is scheduled to fly over the Lincoln Memorial at 11:30 a.m. Each of the formations will represent one of the war’s major battles, ending with the Missing Man formation."

You can read more about this event in this article in DCist:

If you would rather watch from inside your covid-safe bubble, the event will be live streamed here:

The commemorative coverage will begin at 10 AM; the flyover formations will reach the National Mall at about 11:30 AM.


The "Get Out" events column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Still Life with Robin: RBG's Opera Date


by Peggy Robin

I was privileged to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg a couple of times. She and her husband Marty were friends of my mother and stepfather, going back many, many years. My mother used to be the Associate Director of the ACLU in the mid 1970s, back when Ruth Bader Ginsburg headed up the Women’s Rights Project. But their friendship really blossomed when both couples were living in Washington, and both my stepfather and Ruth were great opera fans, while each of their spouses was somewhat less enthusiastic. There were a number of occasions when either Marty Ginsburg or my mother might be called away on a business trip on a night when one couple or the other had booked a pair of tickets for a performance at the Kennedy Center. Whenever this occurred, my stepfather would escort Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the opera. She would enjoy her “dates” with my stepfather, getting a lot more out of the show, I'm sure, than my mother ever did.

I remember once asking my mother ever worried about her husband so frequently taking out “another woman.” My mother, now 97 years old and a widow for nearly a decade, laughed at the thought of it. Ruth and Marty adored each other, and there was never any reason for anyone to doubt it. She was absolutely the sort of person you could trust with your husband – never any doubt about that either. And, my mother added, a lovely person – quiet – but fun to be around.

If you value Justice Ginsburg for her wisdom and opinions, you might want to know what operas she judged to be the best – and you can hear it in her own words – here:

If you would like to see a short clip of her IN an opera (non-singing role), you can watch at: 

If you would like to honor her tonight, there’s a candlelight vigil in front of the Supreme Court, starting at 8 pm.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Get Out! And See the New Eisenhower Memorial

by Peggy Robin

This week’s “Get Out” recommendation is about an event taking place online, which will afterward become an activity that you can do in real life, outdoors, while maintaining social distance from anyone else….if you pick the right time.  

The new Eisenhower Memorial  will be unveiled tonight, September 17 2020 at 7:00 PM at a small outdoor ceremony for invitees only – but the public at large is invited to watch it in virtual reality


Memorial Dedication Ceremony  

Thursday, September 17, 2020 | 7:00pm

Hosted by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission Via Facebook Live

Live stream open to the public | Registration not required  

The Memorial Commission explains: “The events celebrating the opening of the Eisenhower Memorial have been redesigned due to the impact of COVID-19. Given the constraints on public gatherings, and in consideration of public safety, we have restructured the dedication events. Following CDC guidelines for safe social distancing, space is more limited and we are unfortunately not able to allow for additional guests. We appreciate your understanding and hope that you will join us via Facebook Live for this reimagined commemoration of the memorial. or questions and assistance, email”   

You may know something about the history leading up to this moment – the 21 years of squabbling, lobbying, redesign hearings and re-hearings in front of various panels and commissions – finally bearing fruit with the compromise design that is being unveiled this evening. If you’re not up on this subject – or you want a quick refresher course – I recommend this recap in the New York Times: 

For an illuminating review of the design of the Eisenhower Memorial, the Washington Post’s architecture critic Philip Kennicott is the one to read: 

Here’s my own commentary on the process and outcome of this public installation:

The original, sole designer, starchitect Frank Gehry, came up with a concept for the memorial that had as its centerpiece a statue of the young Eisenhower as a barefoot child in Kansas – thus relegating his accomplishments as the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II and his two-term presidency (which, arguably, had the most bipartisan support of any president in our history) to side pieces in the panorama of his life. United in outrage and opposition to the design, the Eisenhower family and their allies spent years organizing, lobbying, and presenting the case for scrapping the design and starting anew. Over the years, a number of new and compromise plans were put forth, more changes were ordered; and eventually the ; the National Capital Planning Commission (the deciding agency) had its say. In the final version, several new statues of Eisenhower in his prime took over the main stage. Former Secretary of State James Baker served as the chief negotiator among the warring parties, hammering out the compromise arrangement of the statues that was to prove acceptable to all.   

You know the old saying about the camel – that it’s an animal designed by committee. The moral of that story is that when a design is worked on by a group of disparate people, the result will be something awkward, ugly, and not to anyone’s liking. Well, that story has never made sense to me. The camel is NOT ugly – unless you have a very constrained and stereotypical idea of what beauty is. The camel is truly a magnificent creature – amazingly well adapted to its harsh environment, serving its purpose better than almost any other pack animal. It deserves our respect, even admiration.

So it is with the Eisenhower Memorial. Yes, it was designed by a committee, but they found a way to represent all the various aspects of this towering figure of the Twentieth Century – and serve the goals of beautiful landscaping, public accessibility, and clear storytelling of history – all in a relatively compact space. This camel serves its purpose well  – and you should go to see it and admire it.  

Take Philip Kennicott’s suggestion and see it as the daylight fades, so that you’re there as it’s lit up at night. After dark there will be fewer visitors and you will find it easier to maintain social distancing. Please be sure to wear your mask. If there’s anything Ike taught us, it’s that when faced with a dangerous enemy we all must be prepared to make sacrifices to protect our country, our people. In this case, what we’re being asked to do is not that hard. Wear a mask when you go to visit the memorial. It’s what Ike would have done.   

The "Get Out" events column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.     

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Delicious!

by Peggy Robin

If I could go anywhere and do anything  in the world right now – instead of keeping my distance from everyone and anyone now and for so many months to come – my dream trip would be to travel to Cornwall, England, where there’s a spectacularly situated hotel by the sea, featuring a Michelin rated restaurant run by the greatest Italian chef in England….and quite possibly the world. Every night, it’s another eye-popping, mouth-watering multi-course feast.

There’s just one trouble with this dream of mine, and it’s not the pandemic, it’s not the expense or the time it would require to get away – it’s that the hotel and the restaurant do not exist in real life. They are the fictional centerpiece of a TV series now showing on PBS called “Delicious.”  

Well, I shouldn’t say the hotel and restaurant are entirely imaginary. The show is filmed at a real location in Cornwall – Pentillie Castle – but it’s not a hotel. If you really want to stay there, you will need to rent out the entire place for a wedding or some other special event. So you might as well do what I’ve be doing, and enjoy its fictional doppelganger, the Penrose Hotel, the setting for the complicated romantic and epicurean adventures of the members of the two families (Bonelli and Vincent) who are the main characters of the story.  

I don’t want to tell you too much about these talented, passionate, charming, infuriating, and at the same time endearing individuals, as I think you will prefer to learn about them as their stories unfold. I will just say, they seem so alive in the series, it’s easy to forget they are made-up people. Even when they’re at their worst, and you are starting to feel you’ve had it up to here with them, you may still feel you will never get enough of this lush and sensual seaside locale. So very different from the strangled, restricted and shut-in world which now constitutes our socially distanced and isolated city in the midst of a pandemic.  

And the food! I’ve watched a lot of cooking shows in my time, but there’s never been a series to give such a rich, appetizing, inviting window into the making serving, and consuming of food. You don’t need Smell-O-Vision; when you watch the food scenes in “Delicious,” the neurons in the part of your brain that process smell will be firing as if you are right there on the set. And as I understand from my reading about the show, in most cases the TV crew members were able to enjoy the feasts right after the filming was done. Unlike most food shown on TV, the food wasn’t pumped up with non-food additives to make it photograph better under TV lights. On the odd occasion a dish would be given a light brush of oil to make it shine – but in most cases the dishes were presented just as they were prepared by the real chefs hired for the series.  

Doesn’t that sound tempting? You can binge-watch the entire series (three seasons of four episodes each, for a total of twelve 45-minute shows) if you have Acorn TV (available through Amazon Prime), or you can tape the shows as they air on PBS (but you’ll need to check the schedule and see if the series will repeat from the beginning; it’s already in the middle of season two.) Or you can buy individual episodes or whole seasons through Amazon: Or you can buy the DVDs through  

I give it five stars!

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