Saturday, July 20, 2024

Still Life with Robin: The Domin(o)ator

by Peggy Robin

Last Saturday I went to the National Building Museum with an out-of-town guest to see the exhibit on Capital Brutalism, which offers visions by various architects of how some of our city's largest and most intimidating brutalist buildings could be transformed to make them more pedestrian-friendly, or at least a bit less off-putting and monstrous. To be clear, this take on the exhibit reflects my own prejudice against the brutalist style; the exhibition's explanatory copy does not use such judgmental language and it explains that the term "brutalism" does NOT refer to a brutish indifference to people or a crude animal-like cruelty but comes from a literal translation of the French word "brut" (or its feminine form, "brute"), meaning "raw". It's called "brutalism" because the primary building material is raw concrete. 

The whole paragraph above is all just a digression from the point of today's Still Life with Robin column. The Brutalism exhibit quickly turned into an side excursion for us, something we realized would be the case the instant we walked through the big front doors of the Building Museum and saw that the main event, occupying the entire, huge ground floor, was the Destination Dominoes exhibit - the work of domino artist Lily Hevesh and her team of builders. 

There were two different types of domino activities going on at the same time - different but equally incredible in the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it category.
Part One was the construction of the world's largest tower of dominoes. Two domino builders, each on top of a height-adjustable scaffold, would add dominoes, one at a time, oh-so-precisely, to the top layer of the tower, to continue its upward climb toward the ceiling of the grand hall.
All it would take to ruin the painstakingly  slow, multiple-day construction project would be for one stray toddler to slip inside the not-securely-fenced-off-building zone, to bring the whole shebang crashing down in an instant. It's odds-defying that the tower reached the record-breaking height of 33 ft, 3 in, without a hitch. After which, it was toppled, just as planned. 

Today's Washington Post, print edition, has the whole story (available online at

Part Two was taking place at ground level, where Lily Hevesh along with a crew of well-trained helpers were constructing the greatest and most elaborate set-up of dominoes, to be knocked down TODAY at 4:30 pm.
Sorry, the tickets to watch this real-time spectacle at the museum are long sold out

Next, I went scurrying around the NBM's website to see if I could find a link to watch the dominos fall in a livestream video but did not come up with anything. If I missed the link and anyone else spots it, please post it to the Cleveland Park Listserv before 5pm today, (which is when the dominoes are set to fall).
If no one posts it by the deadline, I have strong hopes that a video will turn up on Lily Hevesh's Youtube channel, and I'll be sure to watch it when it does. (I went to and hit the "subscribe" button for notifications.)
In the meantime, if you want to see what a truly phenomenal domino cascade looks like, just watch any of the mind-boggling videos of Lily's previous efforts. I recommend this one -, well worth the five minutes it will take up in your life!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Get Out! It's the Summer Matsuri (that's FESTIVAL in Japanese) at the Japan Institute & Culture Center on Saturday, 7/20 - and It's FREE

by Peggy Robin

Summer Matsuri at the JICC! 
"Seasonal Japan" Series
Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan
SATURDAY, JULY 20 from 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM


Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan

1150 18th Street Northwest Suite 100 Washington, DC 20036


🎆 Join Us for a Special Summer Matsuri at the JICC! 🎆

In Japan, summer is the time of matsuri (祭り) or festivals. The JICC is excited to host a summer matsuri event on Saturday, July 20th, from 11 AM to 2:30 PM. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit of a traditional Japanese summer festival with family-friendly activities and a special lecture by a kimono instructor.

Visit the JICC for this special event to enjoy:

🪀 Traditional Japanese Toys -- Challenge yourself with our collection of traditional Japanese toys! Try your hand at classic favorites such as the yoyo, the ring toss game, and much more. Experience the joy of mastering these timeless games that have delighted generations.

🎋 Kamishibai Story Time -- Gather around for a Kamishibai, or Japanese paper theater, story time. In honor of the Tanabata holiday, we will be presenting the Tanabata story, a beloved Japanese tale about the annual meeting of two star-crossed lovers separated by the vast Milky Way.

🎤 Yukata Lecture -- Join us for a talk at 1:30PM led by Hideko Uchiyama, a kimono instructor, and learn more about yukata! This traditional Japanese summer garment is often seen at summer matsuri.

🍉**Suikawari (or Watermelon Smashing) [special ticket required] -- Participate in Suikawari, a traditional Japanese summer game.
Adult Session Registration [opens July 5th at 12PM]
Kid Session Registration [opens July 5th at 12PM]

👘**BYO Yukata Experience [special ticket required] -- Following the talk, bring your own yukata for a hands-on session where you can learn how to wear it properly.

BYO Yukata Experience Registration [opens July 5th at 12PM] Experience the joy of a Japanese summer matsuri at the JICC. We look forward to celebrating with you!

**Due to limited supplies, separate registration is required for the Suikawari and Yukata Try-On activities. Please use the links under each category to register. We thank you for your understanding.**.

The Get Out! event of the week is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Still Life with Robin: The Blooms of Summer, Part 2

 by Peggy Robin

About a month ago I wrote in this space about the explosion of colorful, blooming hydrangea bushes I had observed on a short walk around Cleveland Park. I am so far out of my wheelhouse when it comes to botanical matters that I wondered if summer was always like this and I'd just never noticed it before, or whether this really was a super-spectacular summer for hydrangeas.

Now I've got the answer to my question. It's not just my own bloom-obliviousness. Yes, folks, according to the New York Times, this is an exceptional year for hydrangeas.

Here you go, all the flower news that's fit to print:

It’s Not Just Your Garden: ‘Hydrangea Hysteria’ Blooms in the Northeast

Here’s why hydrangeas are having a banner year on the East Coast and how you can enjoy them. 

Read the whole article to learn the why, when, and how of this year's super-bloom -- and even if you don't read the whole thing, do click on the link below to see a Tik-Tok of the proof (taken in Maryland): 


Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays (usually) but in this case, it was delayed until Sunday.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Get Out! It's Fort Stevens Day on Saturday, July 13, 10am - 4pm

by Peggy Robin

Fort Stevens 160! Be Part of History!

Saturday, July 13, 2024 
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Be a part of history and defend the Nation’s Capital!  Join us on Saturday, July 13 (10 am-3 pm) for the 160th commemoration of the Battle of Fort Stevens. The event will feature music, speakers, living history reenactors, and more!

DC’s #1 Civil War History Event – Free!

*  “Living History” Reenactors – Military & Civilian
*  Music of the Civil War Era!
*  Historian talks about the only Civil War Battle in DC!
*  Kids activities!
*  Food and restrooms

Event Location: Quackenbos Street between 13th & Georgia Ave. NW, Washington D.C.


Click here to download the event flyer.
Click here to download the event program.

More about Fort Stevens from the website of the 54TH Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment Company B: 

Fort Stevens was part of the extensive fortifications built around Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War. This event commemorates the history of the battle fought there in 1864 and the arrival of President Lincoln to the battleground.

The fort was constructed in 1861 as “Fort Massachusetts” and later enlarged by the Union Army and renamed “Fort Stevens” after Brig. Gen. Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia, on September 1, 1862. In 1861, it had a perimeter of 168 yards and places for 10 cannon. In 1862, it was expanded to 375 yards and 19 guns.

It guarded the northern approach to Washington, D.C., the Seventh Street Turnpike. By 1864 Fort Stevens was one part of a thirty-seven mile-long arrangement of fortifications, consisting of sixty-eight forts intended to defend the capital.


The "Get Out! "event of the week is supposed to be posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays, but I forgot to upload it last night, which is why it's a day late.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Still Life with Robin: What if each Metro station gave you the "local color"?

 by Peggy Robin

Today I have two purposes in writing:

1. To let you know there's a marvelous art show -- a retrospective of the works of Cleveland Park sculptor-architect Dickson Carroll, on now through August 11, 2024, at American University's Katzen Art Museum.

Here's the when & where to see the show:

Chris Addison, Curator
Presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art
June 15 – August 11, 2024
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016-8031

2. My second purpose is an expansion of the observation made by the Washington Post art critic who, in reviewing the show in the Sunday Arts & Style section on June 30, 2024 (available online at, wrote this:

"The exemplary item in "Dickson Carroll's Retrospective, 1973 to 2023" is a model of a proposed canopy for the Cleveland Park Metro Station, the closest stop to the artist's home. Made of brightly painted wood, the proposed structure is both whimsical and functional. The canopy is the antithesis of the machine-tooled blankness that dominates contemporary architecture. Yet Carroll is a practicing architect as well as a maker of charmingly cartoonish furniture and purely abstract sculptures that -- like all the artist's product -- are beautifully made and elegantly finished."

Just imagine what it would be like if every Metro station in every neighborhood had a canopy custom-designed by a local artist or architect to express the personality or character of the neighborhood, as perceived by that artist. Of course, there should be some design elements that remain consistent throughout the Metro system, so that every station would bear at least one thing that brands them all as Metro stations. But after that, each one could exuberantly illustrate whatever the artist sees as the "Cleveland Parkiness" of that station -- or the "Van Nessiness" -- or the "Anacostiality." *

Today only! The artist Dickson Carroll and Curator Chris Addison discuss the exhibition:

Saturday, July 6, 2 - 3 PM
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Show map
*This is fun, so I I just had to do a bunch more:

Columbia Highness (also Friendship Highness)
Crystal Citizenry
Dupont Circularity
Farragut Northerliness (or Westerliness)
Forest Glendom
Fort Tottenity
Judiciary Squareness (also McPherson Squareness)
Pentagony (accent shifts to the second syllable)
Silver Springiness
Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Get Out! Whether You March or Watch - There's a Fourth of July Parade for You!

by Peggy Robin

I hope you've already taken note of the two prior messages on the Listserv about the annual Fourth of July Parade in Palisades, DC. Message   on July 2 has all the details of the march and the picnic afterward for those who'd like to come and watch. Message   on July 3 is for anyone who's up for joining the parade. Mayor Bowser has invited you to join her contingent.

The Palisades Community Association Presents:

The 58th 4th of July Parade & Picnic 2024
Thursday, July 4
Parade at 11:00am | Picnic at 12:00pm

Parade starts at 11am at Whitehaven & MacArthur Blvd, heads northbound on MacArthur, left on Edmonds, left on Sherier, and ends at Palisades Park.

Here are a few pix from previous years:

Though I'm a regular at the Palisades Parade (I like staying within Ward 3), I thought I'd give a shout-out to another fun community parade for anyone who's up for going just a bit farther afield:

Want something quirkier, more whimsical, and with a bit of granola crunch to it? Then the Annual Takoma Park Parade is the one for you!

What: The Takoma Park 2024 Fourth of July Parade
When: July 4 from 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Where: The parade will begin at Ethan Allen & Carroll Aves, travel down Carroll Ave (becoming Carroll St NW), turn right at Maple St NW (becoming Maple Ave), and travel down Maple Ave to end at Ritchie Ave.

The Takoma Park 4th of July parade is followed by:

 Join your friends and neighbors for an evening of Live Music * Food Trucks * Beer & Wine Garden (Takoma Bev Co.)* Kids' Activities with Let's Play America and more!

Where:  Maple Ave between Philadelphia Ave & Ritchie Ave

               Master of Ceremonies: Jared Garelick

When:    6:00 - 9:00 pm


Entertainment provided by the following bands:

6:00-6:45pm Takoma Park Community Band

7:15-9:00pm The JoGo Project

Want more choices? NBC News4Washington has a good round-up of things to do on and around the National Mall, plus a listing of community parades: 
The "Get Out" event of the week usually comes out on Thursdays but this week is out on Wednesday in time to highlight the events for the 4th of July. This column is also available on the Cleveland Park Listserv.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Q: What's better than a blue light? A: A hand-made sign

 by Peggy Robin

Sometimes the fancier some things get, the stupider they seem. I've been mulling over that thought for quite some time now -- and it hits home almost every time I load or unload my dishwasher with its high-tech, electronic control panel -- the model that replaced our previous dishwasher with its solid, manual push-buttons. 

The trouble is, despite that tiny dot of light that glows blue whenever the dry cycle has finished and the dishes are clean and ready to be put away, I have seldom been sure whether they're really clean or dirty. 

You see, if someone else has come along and helpfully emptied the dishwasher and then reloaded it with any stray dishes that were in the sink -- and then left the door closed but not locked in place -- the dishwasher's blue "clean" indicator light will stay lit. It goes off only if you close and lock the door to start a new load.

Most of the time, people continue to stack dirty dishes in the dishwasher until it's full. If they're not intending to run the dishwasher right away, they'll helpfully rinse off the dishes before putting them in, so whatever's in the dishwasher may look pretty clean to the naked eye -- but they're not. 

What happens next is that I come along, see that the dishwasher is nearly full, and the "clean" light is glowing blue, so  I have every reason to assume someone's run another cycle, and everything in the dishwasher is clean and dry. So I unload it and put the dishes away.....still dirty.

This has been going on for....oh, I don't know? A decade? Fifteen years? I no longer recall when we got this fancy-shmancy new dishwasher, but this has been the flaw with it since Day One.

Today, I came to an epiphany. It was time to put a stop to this stupidity. Time to take matters into my own hands.. I decided to fix this flaw with a very low-tech solution: It's a repurposed refrigerator magnet that has CLEAN and DIRTY on opposite ends. You just flip it so that the appropriate side is right-side-up, either after you've set it to run, or just after you've emptied it of clean dishes.

I made it myself using colored paper, markers, a little school glue, and an overcoating of clear package sealing tape. I could have spent six bucks to get a professionally designed one ordered from Amazon, but I thought, heck, if I'm going to solve this problem by sticking a low-tech magnetic sign on my high-tech dishwasher, I would rather have it look handmade -- not to mention saving myself the cost of a single-scoop ice cream cone. 

Here it is: 

One little annoyance down.....about a gazillion more to go!
Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Jackson-Reed HS Student's Art Was Wednesday's Google Doodle....Thanks to Your Votes!

by Peggy Robin

I'm excited to announce that the Google Doodle student art contest that we promoted on the Listserv on May 24 and May 31 has resulted in a win for a 12th grade student Maisie from our own Jackson Reed High School in Tenleytown.
I hope you've already seen the news on the front page of today's Metro section in the print edition of the Washington Post (yesterday's online edition), or watched the story, on any one of our local TV news channels.

I'm happy to say the CP Listserv can take pride in our part in Maisie's artistic success. Looks like a critical mass of Listserv readers must have voted for her art!
This was our first pitch to drum up votes for Maisie:
And after she became one of the finalists, this was our second pitch:
And now for Google's announcement of her winning entry (all submissions were required to spell out GOOGLE somewhere in the work):
Maisie from Washington, D.C. is our 2024 Doodle for Google winner
Jun 26, 2024

“Every Sunday night is filled with chaos, laughter, and the smell of food in my household.... As my life grows and changes, my wish for the next 25 years is that this tradition remains a constant.”

Washington, D.C. high school senior Maisie Derlega shares more about the inspiration behind her winning Doodle and her wish for the next 25 years.   
For this year’s Doodle for Google contest, we continued the celebrations for Google’s 25th birthday. K-12 students across the U.S. submitted artwork based on the prompt, “My wish for the next 25 years…” From tens of thousands of creative submissions, we selected the 55 state and territory winners and five national finalists. Now, we’re announcing this year’s contest winner: Congratulations to high school senior Maisie Derlega from Washington, D.C.!

Maisie’s Doodle, “Family Dinner,” is on the Google homepage today [June 26 2024]. Her Doodle — depicting friends and family gathered around a table sharing a meal — represents her wish to continue the tradition of Sunday dinners with her community.
We chatted with Maisie to learn more about her artistic background and the inspiration behind her Doodle [snip -- read the full interview at]
Maisie's prize is $55,000 in scholarship prize money from Google, which she intends to put to good use when she goes off to the University of Michigan to study Art & Design.

This message is reprinted from The Cleveland Park Listserv.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Get Out! Here's to Life! And the Folks! Put 'em together and Here's to the FolkLife Festival

 by Peggy Robin

It's the week of the annual Smithsonian FolkLife Festival -- and it's already underway. It started yesterday, June 26th and it runs through July 1st.

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with evening concerts Friday through Sunday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

There's only one theme this year: Indigenous Voices of the Americas.

For everything you need to know to attend, start here: 

See the complete schedule of performances, demonstrations, cooking sessions, and other activities at

Festival map, brochure (printable), visitor information:

Here are a few of the events that caught my eye:

  • Archery demonstration
  • All About Buffalo
  • Cherokee Storytelling
  • Chickasaw Storytelling
  • Cooking: Raw Cacao Avocado Pudding
  • Cooking: Succotash
  • DineTah Navajo Dance
  • Mapuche Rap
  • Skateboard Art
  • Pele Narrative of Hawaiian Volcanoes

For some practical tips on beating the heat and planning your day, check out my advice in the June 25, 2022 column on the FolkLife Festival  -- still good from year to year!


The Get Out! event of the week is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Still Life with Robin: The Blooms of Summer

by Peggy Robin

Every spring in DC, we go gaga for the cherry trees in bloom. That's also the time when the hillsides are yellow with daffodils and the red, yellow, white, and multi-colored tulips are not far behind. Then come the azaleas in red, white, pink, magenta, and lavender, and each passing year seems to bring new and brighter colors. And then summer comes, and it's just green, green, green, everywhere you look.

Then we wait for the leaves to change in the fall to see the trees give us an eye-catching variety of reds, golds and oranges. 

But not this year. All of a sudden, I've been struck by the colorful blooms of June. Maybe it's been like this in years past and I've just never noticed. On a walk yesterday, my eyes were popping at so many big, round blooms in the front yards of Cleveland Park. I'm talking about HYDRANGEAS.

This is what I saw on my walk:

I don't know why I was blind to them in years past. Perhaps this year is just a spectacular bloom. Or perhaps they've always been this great, and for some reason, this is the summer that the scales have fallen from my eyes. 

Whatever the reason, I glory in the colors of summer.

Thank you to so many neighbors for your gardens of delight!


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