Sunday, December 8, 2013

Still Life With Robin: 2013 Listserv Year in Review

by Peggy Robin

I may be a week late with this column celebrating the 14th anniversary of the Cleveland Park Listserv, which was founded on November 30, 1999 -- but it’s good timing for a year-end wrap up of listserv highlights for 2013.

The Year in Compilations. These are the summaries of recommendations sent in by list members this year, with all due gratitude to those took the time to sort, edit, and type up the replies to their queries. (It’s a lot of work!)

A/C installers; accountants; alterations/tailoring; bathroom renovators; book donations (place to drop them off or places that pick up); cabinet makers; cat sitters; computer gurus; dentists who take Delta Dental; dishwashers - brands, dealers, installers; doctors (5 different compilations: allergists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, internists, shoulder doctors); document shredding; drivers who can pick up patients after outpatient surgery; drycleaners; electricians; facilities for Alzheimer’s patients; fishmongers; galvanized steel pipe replacement advice; holistic vets; home rental advice; home security companies; Honda repair; photographers; shoemakers; storage facilities; TVs – where to dispose of old ones; upholsterers; watch repair; wedding venues (small wedding); window repair and replacement.

The Year in Giveaways (Note: This is most definitely NOT a comprehensive list!)

Animals and animal supplies: cat litter - 40 lb bag; dog bed; dog crate; dog food; dog leashes and supplies; goldfish family; guinea pig cage; Have-a-heart trap; parakeets (2)

Bikes, exercise equipment, etc.: bike - women’s 26”; bike rack; elliptical machine; exercise bike; exercise rower; tennis ball hopper and cans of tennis balls; trail-a-bike; trailer for kayak/canoe; treadmill

Food and food containers: baby food; egg cartons; egg cartons; eggs; mason jars; spiral cut ham; tarts and cakes

Household items, furniture, food, clothing & miscellaneous: anti-freeze; armoire;  backpack; basket weaving kits; bedframes; bench; Blackberry chargers; blender;;bookcases; boxes, boxes, and more boxes; bubble wrap; cedar chest; chairs; Chumby clock; coffeemaker; compact fluorescent bulbs; couches; desks; end tables; flip phones; flutes (2); headboard for kingsize bed; loveseat; mouse pads; ottoman; paint samples; pegboard; ping pong table; play/concert tickets; pool table; printer ink; printer/scanner; prom dress; rocking chair; rugs; sheets and towels; small refrigerator; sofabed; swivel chair/recliner; TV cabinet on wheels; TV stand; TVs (all types from old tube style to flatscreen); Uzbek women’s chapan (Don’t know what a chapan is? You can see one here:; vacuum cleaner; VCR; wicker chair

Plants, yard supplies, outdoor stuff: compost; concrete planters; Dutch elm treatment supplies and equipment; fertilizer; fire pit; firewood; grill; ground cover plants; liriope; mulch; pea gravel; pond cleaning supplies; porch swing; potting soil; power mower; purple beautyberry shrub; rhododendrons; topsoil; weedkillers & misc garden supplies

Toys, kid/toddler/baby things: American Girl Dolls and books; bassinet; carseats; children’s books in Swedish; crib mattress; jogging stroller; Jumparoo; kids’ table and chairs; Legos; Little Tykes picnic table; Little Tykes slide; sandbox; strollers; toddler bed

The Year in Queries which ran the gamut from the most serious --heart surgeon-- to the most whimsical --a mad scientist costume. There were a few unusual food queries: Where can you buy lard? Does anyone in the area sell handmade Shmurah matzo? Can someone give me a sample of a very expensive specialized cat food to try it out and see if my cat will eat it, before I place an order for the pricey stuff online? Then there was the time, during the US government shutdown, that someone wanted to know what museums were still open. That produced several weeks’ worth of helpful suggestions, as many of us heard for the first time about some out-of-the-way and under-appreciated, privately-run museums in this otherwise government dominated town.  

Travel queries. For those not content to explore the city, the listserv was a useful place to learn about parts far and wide, whether it’s Prague or Portugal, Norway, Nicaragua, or Nepal, or Turkey or Thailand. This is just a small, alliterative sample of the travel questions asked in 2013.

Then there were the stories with happy endings: Poptart the cat went missing in January, but fortunately came back (message # 83539). Desdemona the cat was lost in August by was likewise safely returned (message # 88477). In other animal news: a squirrel got into the attic, an opossum took up residence under the porch, there were raccoons in the rafters, chipmunks boring holes under the patio, a dead read fox in the garden, a sick raccoon captured on Macomb Street, and some mystery animal making holes in a stone wall, leaving little mounds of dirt behind as evidence. We still don’t know what that was all about…

And now for my favorite and final part of the year-end wrap-up. Drumroll, please. The best subject lines of the year.

For third runner up: “The Mystery of the Locked Safe…” Message number 88874 on September 4.

And the second runner up is: “Things that go BLAM!! in the night” Message number 88815 on September 2.

Our first runner up is: "Snakes Falling Out of Trees?!" Message number 86717 on June 11 -- which started a thread about snakes in trees which went on for 10 messages, including several with eyewitness accounts. This subject line would have been the winner for its startling nature, but it lost out to the even more astonishing -- and far happier report...

Our winning subject line of 2013: “Parakeet Sunshine is back home!” Message number 86906 on June 18, a miraculous recovery if there ever was one.

Thanks to all who contributed to the Listserv in 2013!


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

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