Saturday, February 27, 2021

Still Life with Robin: NOW They All Want Me!

CDC: Vaccinate with Confidence

by Peggy Robin

Six weeks ago, I wrote a column about how people had to wait for the vaccine distributors to decide whether they would take your call. Once you became eligible --either by age, medical condition, or type of employment-- you couldn’t just pick up the phone or go online and schedule it whenever you felt like it. You either had to win the vaccination appointment race online (being one of the select few to enter all your registration details, type in the captcha, and then complete the time/location selection, all before the website timed out or crashed) – or you had to navigate a treacherous phone queue in the quest to leave a message that would result in a call-back, allowing you to have one of those coveted appointment slots.

Because I’m a speedy typist and have lots of experience with online tasks (I do run the biggest neighborhood listserv in the US! That skill turned out to be good for something!), I was one of the lucky ones who got an appointment for a shot within the first two weeks that they were offered to my age group. I’ve now had the second shot. So I am now simply watching from the sidelines as others continue to scramble and overcome all the crazy obstacles between them and the shot. It’s a weird feeling.

What makes it even weirder is that now, all of a sudden, vaccine providers are pursuing me. Now they’re telling me how much they want me to get the shot. They’ve been sending me letters, emailing, texting, and yesterday, they even robo-called me.  

First, there was a very nice letter in the mail – plain old USPS – from my health insurance provider, telling me they were going to help me make an appointment. Then my doctor’s practice let me know, both by letter and by a note left in my “health portal” what I should do to secure an appointment. And then all the hospitals that have ever seen me for any reason in the past, got in touch to say they were waiting for my call. My preferred pharmacy (as dictated by my insurance company) has been emailing me regularly – texting to my phone, too – to make sure I know that I’m eligible for vaccine, which they will be offering at their retail stores, any day now. I’ve had so many of these invitations to call a number, leave my information, and they will have someone call me back with an appointment time and place.

Yesterday’s robocall was the weirdest yet: My landline rang, the caller ID said Johns Hopkins Medical, and when I picked up, I heard a mechanical voice that offered me a vaccination. “Press 1 if you would like to book an appointment. Press 2 if you have already been vaccinated or do not wish to be vaccinated."

I just wish they had separated “press 2” into two different categories, just so I could let them know they had reached an already vaccinated person -- not someone who was declining their kind offer!

Or wait, here's an even better option! I want my next robo-call to give me a third choice: “Press 3, if you have already been vaccinated, and you would like us to stop calling you and redirect our outreach efforts to get to all the people who 1) don’t have a regular doctor; 2) don’t have health insurance; 3) don’t have a landline; 4) don’t have text-messaging on their cell phone either; or 5) are not signed up to any listservs, alert systems, or other internet communications.

Now THAT would be a useful voicemail option!

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

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Get Out! And Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Duke Street's Black History Trail in Old Town Alexandria

by Peggy Robin

On the last weekend of Black History Month, here’s a fascinating, FREE outdoor activity, perfect for safe social distancing, plus a bit of exercise, and a lot of enlightenment: 

GREAT WALKS IN ALEXANDRIA: Duke Street Black History Trail

Old Town’s Duke Street corridor is rich with historical significance, embedded with hidden narratives and plenty of plaques for the eagle-eyed passerby:

  • Begin at the Edmonson Sisters sculpture (1701 Duke St.), a tribute to two teenage sisters who were born into slavery and attempted escape, later becoming vocal and visible abolitionists. The piece was sculpted by bronze work artist Erik Blome.
  • Steps away, find the Bruin Slave Jail, where the sisters were held, for a further reckoning of Alexandria’s role in the domestic slave trade.
  • See Freedom House Museum, once the headquarters for one of the nation’s largest internal slave trading firms and now a site sharing the stories of those who passed through it.
  • Take a detour onto Prince St. to see the plaque for L’Ouverture Hospital, which served Black soldiers and those escaping enslavement during the Civil War.
  • Stop by Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria’s oldest African American congregation, founded in the early 19th century within its first Black neighborhood, called “The Bottoms.”
  • Then, visit  Shiloh Baptist Church, one of the city’s oldest active churches. Drawing its name from a biblical term for “place of peace,” the church was formed as an oasis during the Civil War for the formerly enslaved.
  • End your journey at African American Heritage Park  and linger by the bronze tree memorial titled “Truths that Rise from the Roots – Remembered,” created by Jerome Meadows and carved with the names of Black Alexandrians who shaped the city.
    Freedom House Museum on the Duke Street Black History Trail

To view the walking map for the self-guided tour – as well as other free, self-guided walking tours of Alexandria, go to: 


The “Get Out” (or “Stay In”) events column is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.  

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Still Life with Robin: The Wrath of Viola (and other Winter Storms)

The Weather Channel's Winter Storm Names, 2020-2021

by Peggy Robin 

It’s high time for my annual "Name That Winter Storm" column. I’ve been doing this since 2012 when The Weather Channel (TWC) began its campaign to popularize the naming of winter storms, seeking to turn its alphabetical list of 26 winter storm names into a practice on par with the naming of hurricanes instituted by NOAA back in 1953, which soon became a world meteorological standard.

As I point out every year, the National Weather Service and almost all top meteorologists think TWC’s winter storm naming system move is stupid, on the grounds that a winter storm, unlike a hurricane, is not an easily classifiable phenomenon. It's highly likely to have extremely varying, very localized impacts. If it's hard to say what it is, it's even harder to say when it should be named. 

That hasn’t stopped The Weather Channel from coming up with a new list of winter storm names at the start of each storm season.

But my objection – posted every year on All Life Is Local at some point during the winter storm season – isn’t focused on the meteorological pro’s and con’s of giving names to winter storms; it been entirely focused on TWC’s really dumb choices for the names themselves (with a few exceptions, of course).

As I’m tackling this topic toward the end of the 2021 winter storm season, we’re already up to the V’s – and so the giant storm that dropped all of Texas into a deep freeze, leaving millions without power or safe drinking water for days – is called Winter Storm Viola. Not a bad name for a storm -- Viola -- with its sound-association with the word “violent”.

Now let’s go back to the beginning of the alphabet and do a quick run-through+critique of the previous 21 names for Winter Storms of 2020-2021 and then look at the four names that follow Viola.

As I’ve done in past years since 2012, I will post each name in order, give the meaning according to a standard naming dictionary (, followed by my own brief comment on how well suited that name is to be a winter storm name, followed by a letter grade. At the end there will be a grade point average for the entire winter storm season.

Abigail. Hebrew for “Father’s joy.” Since there's nothing joyful about being hit by a winter storm, I give this name a D-.

Billy. It's a cute nickname for William (which means “will” or desire” combined with “helmet”). A fearsome and sometimes deadly force of nature should never be given a little boy's name. D.

Constance. Its meaning is the noun, which is the exact opposite of the extremely variable force of a winter storm. D-.

Dane. Meaning, someone from Denmark. Certainly appropriate for harsh winter weather, if not terribly imaginative. A-

Eartha. The meaning, of course, is Earth with a feminine “A” at the end. And that is also my letter grade for this storm name, which calls to mind the incredible forces that our planet can unleash. A.

Flynn. The Anglicized form of the Irish name Ó Floinn , meaning descendant of Flann. But if you say the name Flynn, most older people will think first of the tempestuous Hollywood star Errol Flynn – and most younger people will think first of disgraced/pardoned felon Michael Flynn, who lied to the FBI about his connections to the Russian and Turkish governments while (briefly) serving as Trump’s National Security Advisor. That was a stormy 22 days! So let’s give this one a B+.

Gail. A diminutive of Abigail – which was already used as the A-name in the winter storm alphabet. Clearly, the duplication is a fail. F.

Harold. Old Norse for “Army Leader.” While that may seem like a good name for a winter storm, that’s not the image that the name conjures up these days. It’s definitely drifted toward nerd-dom. Or perhaps it calls to mind the little boy in the classic kids’ book Harold and the Purple Crayon. So it starts out as an A and then gets points off for its nerd+kids'-book association these days, and ends up as a solid B.

Ivy. Meaning the plant, ivy. What does a clinging green vine have to do with winter storms? Absolutely nothing! D-.

John. The English form of Iohanon, meaning “God is gracious.” Not exactly the phrase that springs to mind when being assaulted with wintry blasts of snow, ice, and bone-chilling winds. F.

Katherine. From the Greek “katharos” meaning “pure.” There have been so many famous Katherines/Catherines, including Catherine the Great, and three of the six wives of Henry VIII, and any number of saints, actresses, and other celebrated women, that this name can be anything you want it to be. A winter storm? Sure, why not? Give it a B.

Lana. Most likely a shortening of Alana, a feminine form of Alan, which could mean either “rock” or “handsome” depending on which derivation you believe. But the first thing that comes to mind is undoubtedly Hollywood icon, Lana Turner, known for playing femmes fatales, like the killer in The Postman Always Rings Twice -- and known in her private life for her involvement with a violent gangster, Johnny Stompanato, who was murdered by her teenage daughter. Very stormy story. A.

Malcolm. From Scottish Gaelic Máel Coluim, which means "disciple of Saint Columba" -- but Malcolm is perhaps best known as the character in Shakespeare's Macbeth who kills the usurper and reclaims the throne of Scotland that was rightfully his. A vengeful king's name is fine for a winter storm. A.

Nathaniel. Hebrew for "God has given." I suppose God has given us winter storms, among other things. B.

Orlena. Possibly a variant of Orleana (from New Orleans) or Arlena (a form of Arlene). Nothing about New Orleans to suggest harsh winter weather, is there? F.

Peggy. Well, that’s my name and I don’t want it slapped on a cold, cruel force of nature!. Anyway, it comes from Margaret, which means “pearl” – a serene, shining gem of the sea. F.

Quade. A variant spelling of the Irish surname Quaid, which is itself a variant of MacQuaid --or in Irish Gaelic, Mac Uaid, meaning "son of Uaid." All this Irish background brings to mind leprechauns, shamrocks, and shillelaghs and maybe rainbows...but not the blizzards of winter. C-. 

Roland. Originally a Germanic name meaning "brave land." The most famous Roland was the hero of the French epic poem, La Chanson de Roland." The names of legendary knights are suitable for winter storms. A.

Shirley. OK, this is the worst of the bunch, hands down. Shirley comes from the Old English for "bright clearing" …. but when you hear the name I dare you to think of anything but that adorable moppet/child star Shirley Temple, and her signature song, “On the Good Ship Lollipop” (which sailed "on the sunny shore of Peppermint Bay"!) Think sunshine and toe-tapping fun, not storm clouds. F-.

Tabitha. Another bottom-drawer choice. Tabitha means "gazelle" in Aramaic, but for anyone who grew up in the '60s watching TV fare likes Bewitched (or the endless re-runs on Nickelodeon if you’re too young to have watched it the first time around), you know that Tabitha is the baby witch born to the mortal Darren and his magical mate Samantha, the star of the show. Tabitha could do a very cute little nose wiggle, and maybe she could conjure up a bit of mischief on occasion – but her name conjures up only giggles for me. F.

Uri. Means "my light" in Hebrew. But its most notable namesake is the world-famous magician and spoon-bender Uri Geller. Due to Uri’s lifelong battles against debunkers who kept proving that he was just a trickster, a storm of controversy has always followed him -- and so we'll give this one an A-

Viola. Refers to the color violet or the wildflower. These days it calls to mind the Oscar winning actress Viola Davis - who has played a few stormy roles in her day – which, coupled with the sound-association of Viola with Violent, results in a grade of A-.

Ward. Means "guard" or "protector" - another case of a storm being named for the opposite of what a storm does. F.

Xylia. From the Greek root meaning "wood." Woods are generally tranquil places - although they can be scary at times. C. 

Yardley. Old English for "wood clearing." Such a preppie name! Makes you think of lacrosse fields and polo shirts with popped collars -- but not winter storms. D.

Zayne. Originally a surname. Most associated with the famed writer of dime westerns, Zane Grey. Those pulp novels were full of sudden violence and fury - so the name is fitting for an assault of nature. A.  

Grade point average for all the TWC winter storm names of 2020-2021: 1.95, rounded up to 2.0, that is, a C.

As we keep hoping for better things in so many fields next year, this is yet another area that can stand improvement!


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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Stay In! And Hear the Stories Told on Business Story Day, Sunday, Feb 21 at 3:30 PM

 by Peggy Robin

Following a full week of intense debate on the listserv over whether to allow a big increase in residential density along Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park -- one thing emerged as a point of agreement: taht we want to do what we can to increase the viability of our neighborhood businesses. There may not have been any consensus about how to bring about that end, but it did seem to be something we all called a public good. 

With that in mind, I thought this week's highlighted event for the weekly events column was a good choice: It's Mayor Muriel Bowser's designation of Sunday, February 21, 2021 as "Business Story Day." 

You can listen to community business leaders telling stories of how they got started in business and how they made it work. (Good thing they haven't been asked to tell any stories about how it went getting zoning approval to open a new business in DC!)

Here's your official invitation from the Mayor:

Business Story Day Official Proclamation Celebration

About this Event

GO Global is pleased to invite you to the virtual celebration for Washington, DC Mayor Bowser proclaiming Sunday, February 21, 2021, as “Business Story Day” in Washington, DC.

The event will feature community business leaders sharing their business stories and will also provide ideas on how businesses in the district can use their own stories as a tool for building a strong inclusive local economy.

This event will also feature Washington, DC based entrepreneurs from the new documentary, Good to Great Stories: A Small Business Documentary, currently available on Amazon Prime.

Online event:

Sun, February 21, 2021

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM EST


Business Story Day Official Proclamation Celebration image
The "Stay In!" or "Get Out!" events column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Watching Other People's Houses

by Peggy Robin

Now that we’re all done with that compulsively watchable mini-series, Impeachment Trial 2: Insurrection!, it’s time for something nice and relaxing – a lovely, low-stress show with just 12 episodes….and I’ve got just the thing. It’s called The Most Extraordinary Homes in the World, and you can find it on Netflix.

What makes it so perfect for this moment? You get to see our genial hosts – two Brits, Caroline Quentin, an actress and sometime property developer, and Piers Taylor, an architect, fly around the world, landing in exotic locales, where they go on extended house tours of some of the most spectacular homes ever built on planet earth. When you see them descend through a long, dark tunnel to emerge inside house built into a Swiss alp or watch them walk along the edge of a wing-like roof of a house set in the middle of a cactus-dotted wasteland, you may not feel entirely sure that they really ARE on planet earth.

Every one-hour show gives you a tour of four different houses. Some shows are arranged by the environment of the site (e.g., “Forest” or “Coast” or “”Mountain”); others are by country (Spain; Japan; India; Norway; and others).

The homeowners in some cases have essentially given the architects a blank check and a free hand to design whatever the architect thinks a house should be. The results, in a few cases, make you think, “Why would anyone ever want to live in THAT!” And in other cases, you might say to yourself, “If I had a house like that, I would never, ever leave.”

Whatever you think of each house, it’s armchair eye-candy to tour through each custom-designed, multi-grillion dollar residence. Usually there’s a pool, too!

Can I tell you why this show is so relaxing? You probably know The Great British Baking Show (and if you don’t, you should!) If you like that show, you should love this one. Like the baking show, it’s got a pair of very British hosts – genial, joking, guiding you through whatever you’re seeing, and never talking down to you. It’s got people who are extremely good at making something, and you get to see how they do it. While in the baking show, you’re watching people whip up incredible edibles in a short amount of time, in the Extraordinary Homes show, you won’t see the long, laborious construction process, but you will learn a great deal about the design concepts that the architect turned from blueprints into reality.

But here’s the big difference between the two shows: The Great British Baking Show is a competition. It starts out with 12 contestants, and week by week someone gets eliminated. If you start to root hard for one baker, you can get invested in them, and you'll want to see them make it to the end. And each week that your favorite stumbles or is in a time-squeeze to finish a bake, you 'll be worried for them. If your person gets knocked out, you may be sad. Even though everyone on the show is super-nice and they’re all such good sports – there’s crying in baking, sometimes. But there’s no crying in architecture – or at least not in this show. There are no winners or losers. You just look at the houses and feast your eyes. Nobody gets sent home at the end. Because each time you are invited in, someone already IS home – and even if you happen to think that particular home is really just a big, old, ugly concrete box stuck on a mountain top, it’s always clear that it’s somebody’s dream home and they absolutely love it.

Ready to get started? You can watch one of the segments in this free Youtube clip:  

Or dive right into the real thing in your Netflix account: 
3 Seasons (2017)

To quote my favorite heroine of fiction, "Oh Auntie Em, there's no place like home!"


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

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Stay In! And Take Part in the Pre-Valentine's Day DATE LAB Event!

Photo by Dennis Wong
via Wikimedia Commons

by Peggy Robin


In good times and bad, since 2006, It’s been a source of hope for thousands of singles looking for love – and though it may seldom produce high scores on the romance-o-meter, it usually rates big in the reader popularity polls. 

If you’re not already a fan, here’s a quick recap of how it works. Singles of all ages apply to Date Lab to set them up with a compatible someone. They fill out questionnaires about themselves, and say what they’re looking for in a romantic partner. Unlike a dating app which works on computer algorithms, or a matchmaking service, which is presumably run by professionals who have studied what makes relationships work, DATE LAB is run by amateurs --  young journalists with a sense of humor, more interested in pairing up a couple whose date would be more likely to make for a quirky and intriguing tale than a grand romance.

The Date Lab column is not so much about helping people find “the one.” Indeed, the odds of finding “the one” on Date Lab are dismal – only about nine percent are still dating after a month; and less than two percent get together and stay together for five years or more. But people have certainly had some dates worth reading about – although part of your enjoyment may be schadenfreude – you’re just glad it’s happening to someone else!

Week in and week out, most dates end with a parting shot like this: “Did not feel a spark” or “Would be happy to hang out together – but just as friends.” And then there's the most common last line of all: “No further contact.”

Yet we love it. And we look forward to reading it in the Post’s Sunday magazine week after week, year after year. Since the pandemic started, the dates have all been via Zoom or using some other virtual meeting space.

And now the Date Lab's annual pre-Valentine’s day event is going virtual, too. Here’s your invitation to the FREE 2021 Date Lab event, co-sponsored by the Washington Post and Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) Creatives:

If you loved the 2020 Date Lab event, be sure to join us as The Washington Post Magazine’s popular Date Lab column comes to virtual life ahead of Valentine’s Day weekend on Friday, February 12th, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Because this past year has been anything but normal, the theme of the night is “dating during the pandemic.”

- Date Lab writers discuss their experience writing the column and talking to Date Labbers over the last unique year.

- Certified dating coach and Date Lab writer, Damona Hoffman, offers tips on how to ace your virtual dates and other dating advice.

- Plus, we’ll have a Q&A with one of Date Lab’s success stories, Renee Coley and Willie Gray. 

Ahead of the event, consider nominating a friend or family member to Date Lab! Click here to enter someone who you think could find their match with us. At the event, we’ll announce a lucky pair we are setting up because of you.

The event is free with registration. Grab your drink and screen of choice at 5:00 p.m. to join the virtual event. Don’t worry if you’re hanging around in your PJs. Only participants given advance notice will have the opportunity to turn their cameras on.

Please RSVP by clicking:
Yes or No

We look forward to your response and hope you can join us!


The Washington Post Magazine 

Maybe this virtual event will inspire you to apply for Date Lab  yourself! If you do end up on Date Lab, and then you and your date end up being in the successful <2% that go on to build a long-term relationship – maybe even marry – please don’t forget to credit the Cleveland Park Listserv for giving you “the spark.”


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

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Play the Vaccine Game!

by Peggy Robin

It’s happened again, as it’s happened before…. I spend a good 45 minutes composing a column on a subject that means a lot to me (in this case, it’s about that crazy, frenzied sign-up process for booking a vaccine appointment through VaccinateDC) – and I feel like I’m missing something in my writing – so I take a little break, maybe read the newspaper over a cup of coffee for a while, and then and there I see that someone else has written exactly what I was trying to write, but has said it more concisely – and it’s funny, too! 

Nothing to do in that case except step aside and let the piece speak for itself. In this case it’s a cartoon, by David Horsey of the Seattle Times. (It’s in today’s print edition of the Washington Post on Op-Ed page).


Best of luck to all who are attempting to play!


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

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Get Out! Or Stay In! And Take a Class at Shop Made in DC

by Peggy Robin  

The “Get Out/Stay In” column for today is basically a free commercial for Shop Made in DC .

The pandemic has threatened so many of our great retail stores, but one way they have adapted is by offering classes, both virtual (via Zoom) and in person (outdoors). Shop Made in DC is doing both! And we love to support our DC-based enterprises.

This month and next month, there are some fabulous classes you can take at….or virtually at….Shop Made in DC – including 3 different Valentine’s-Day-themed classes.  Here’s their pitch:


Looking for a fun activity to do with a group of pals?
Or want to come solo to meet new friends? Activate your creativity with classes at Shop Made in DC.
Classes range from $30 to $85 and include instructions and all materials. (Sometimes even drinks!)
Now offered in 2 outdoor classrooms (Georgetown and Capitol Hill) and also, virtually.
You just need to buy tickets then show up with your creativity ready to make and take! 

Here are their three great Valentine’s activities:

MAKER: The Other Cat
DATE: Fri, February 12th, 2021
PRICE: $50 

MAKER: Buttercream & Burrata
DATE: Sat, February 13th, 2021
PRICE: $100 

MAKER: Buttercream & Burrata 
DATE: Sun, February 14th, 2021
PRICE: $100 

Looking beyond Valentine’s Day….you might want to learn how to knit your own Bernie-style mittens (after seeing that Bernie-in-Mitterns meme about a zillion times, who wouldn’t?):

MAKER: Helen Fields
DATE: Sun, February 28th, 2021
PRICE: $80 

Thinking beyond winter and the need for thick mittens? Here’s an activity class to help you welcome spring:

MAKER: Karlie Rebecca Creative
DATE: Wed, March 31st, 2021
PRICE: $65     

Don’t see what you’re looking for on the ShopMadeInDC classes page? They can custom design a class for you and a group of 5 or more friends:

Scroll down to the bottom of the page at 


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

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Still Life with Robin: 'S NO Need for Panic-Buying

Popular Mechanics: Best Snow Shovel

by Peggy Robin

Here’s yesterday’s tweet from the Capital Weather Gang:

Capital Weather Gang



@NWS_BaltWash issues winter storm watch for DC area (zone shaded in blue in map below) for late Saturday night to late Sunday for the potential for 5"+ snow. Additional snow could fall Monday + Monday night (lower confidence). Update:


So what did I do? If you know anything about Washingtonians, you must think I immediately hopped in my car, drove like mad to Strosnider's to buy a new snow shovel, and then stopped off at the big Giant a block north to pick up bread, milk, eggs, and toilet paper…..before all the other hordes would descend to strip the shelves bare.

But you would be wrong! I did none of those things, because, having lived through the panic buying that took place at the start of the emergency health order back in April 2020, I have learned a few things and have tempered my panic-buying reflexes. Now I know that:

1. You should always keep a reserve of toilet paper on hand. A couple of 12-packs of Charmin should be kept in reserve for any sort of event that might disrupt the supply chain.

2. Bread can be kept in the freezer for up to six months. Good instructions for freezing and thawing bread are found here: 

3. Eggs are not critical. If you buy eggs with an expiration date three or four weeks on, you’ll probably be OK. For some good tips about buying, storing and using eggs before they go bad, go to:   ttps://

4. Milk is even less critical (to me, at least). I put milk in my coffee, but I keep some sort of the powdered non-dairy creamer (it lasts up to 18-24 months in a jar), which is good in a pinch, in case I run out of milk. For those who actually drink milk or have some other more pressing need for milk, you might want to have some shelf-stable (non-refrigerated) alternatives, like evaporated milk or UHT (ultra-high-temperature pasteurized and aseptically packaged milk) that can be stored in the pantry for months. See  

And finally, as for that snow shovel….a few years ago, after my old-fashioned decades-old metal snow shovel sustained some serious dents when I used it to chip away at some ice, I resolved to buy myself a new, improved model. I got a nice, new, large and well-constructed shovel with an ergonomic handle, that looks something like this: Mine has a deep purple scoop. It wasn’t expensive. We’ve had very little winter snow since the year I bought the new shovel, so it’s barely been tested. But I have confidence in it.

So ….snow panic buying? Moi? No need, as I sit in my well-stocked house, like any good Scout, following the “Be Prepared” motto.

Oddly, it’s my very preparedness that leads me to believe the predicted big snowfall is going to fall short. I think it’s one of those Murphy-Styled Laws that tells us: “The inches of snowfall will be inversely proportional to the quantity of supplies on hand to cope with a prolonged period of being snowed in.”


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

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Get Out! And REACH Out!

by Peggy Robin

The highlighted event for this week's "Get Out" column is not just for this week!

You have until February 28 to visit UNITY | PEACE | FORWARD, the outdoor art installation at THE REACH (the new buildings and grounds of the Kennedy Center, opened in the fall of 2019, a few months before the pandemic descended and put an end to indoor gatherings and events.

Here's the invitation to all to experience this art event - safely and productively:

The REACH: January 22–February 28, 2021

In response to a period of unprecedented world challenges the Kennedy Center is reaching out to connect with the global community to reflect on the healing power of the arts. This intimate conversation between performers, artists, writers, and cultural leaders is a glimpse into the minds of creatives about their hopes, fears, dreams, and aspirations in a time of uncertainty and isolation. The public is also invited to join the conversation through social media with #UnityPeaceForward.  

Developed by the Kennedy Center as a collaboration between International Programming and the Office of Accessibility and VSA, UNITY | PEACE | FORWARD elevates the voices of artists with disabilities and continues the Center’s commitment to accessibility with this companion online component.

The exhibit features three installations scattered across the grounds of the REACH, on public view daily. A video of quotes from around the world will be projected on the Video Wall each Friday and Saturday evening from 4:30–8:30 p.m. during the exhibit and can be viewed online at any time.

Explore the Installation
The "Get Out!" (or "Stay In!) events column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Don't Call Us, We'll Call YOU

by Peggy Robin

Have you been trying to get vaccine news from your health care provider through a “portal”?

I’m reminded of the situation in the late-90’s sitcom Sex in the City. The character, “Mr. Big,” who’s used to having things his way, suddenly finds himself as the less important person in a relationship with a Hollywood star who’s even bigger than Big. And she won’t give him her phone number. He must wait for HER to call him. And he doesn’t like it!

That’s where we are with our health care providers. In relation to this affair, you can’t call them, you just have to wait until THEY are ready to see YOU. This was the note I found on my health care provider’s portal: “If you are eligible, we will contact you when appointments are available.” [my emphasis] They tell you bluntly not to bother to call your doctor about this. They’ll get back to you when they are good and ready. But don’t sit by the phone. They will send you an email saying that there’s a message from them in your “portal.” So you have to click on a link in the email, which takes you to the portal they’ve required you to set up. Then you log in (or, if you’re like me, you’ve got your computer set up to log you in automatically, so you don’t need to remember your user name and password).

Then you see the message, right?

Not so fast. You are likely to find there are several notifications in different sections of your portal. They are all marked with exclamation points, indicating that there’s an urgency to each message. So you click on the first one and discover it’s just an update of data collected at your last physical. It’s stuff that’s four months old but you never bothered to look at it before.  Next, you click on the second exclamation-pointed message. It’s date-stamped yesterday-- and it tells you that you successfully got your doctor to reauthorize a prescription. That’s new, all right…but it’s not news.

So you click on the third one, and bingo, that’s the one with the covid vaccine news. Click on it and you see a note from the health network telling you that you are indeed eligible to be vaccinated…and they will let you know when they’ll be open and available for you to make an appointment to get your shot.

Well, fortunately in my case, that’s not needed. I already was able to get shot #1 of 2 through the  VaccinateDC system…and sure enough, when I look at the “Recent Activity” list in of my online health chart, I do see the record of the shot I was given last week at the Senior Wellness Center in SE  But what if I hadn’t been so lucky? Like Mr. Big in that long-ago Sex in the City episode, I’d be sitting around, anxiously waiting for THEM to get back to me.


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