Speakers Table

It takes our village

January 16, 2012

This story illustrates that Georgetown is a village, in the truest sense of the word. What began as an idea for a Georgetown "House Party” grew into an amazingly entertaining evening on Friday night because of the tight bonds and deep love we neighbors have for each other. When we heard the son of Georgetowner, Nancy Flinn Aaron Flinn, a Vermont singer, songwriter and guitarist - would be in town, neighbor Eli Hengst, co-owner of Sonoma Restaurant decided to provide a venue.  Next, all it took was a word from Nancy, and at least 70 neighbors and their friends showed up for one of the most entertaining evenings of the season.

Aaron Flinn, Burnett Thompson and Nancy Flinn (Photo by: Robert Arnold) Aaron Flinn, Burnett Thompson and Nancy Flinn

Flinn, the son of Georgetowner Nancy Flinn was on the final leg of a northeast tour performing original songs showcasing his new CD Release, "Miss Ready Blossom and the Seed of Dreams."  Eight appearances in nine days, including Vermont, RI, NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC and NJ, were capped off by Friday’s performance.  A local G-town house concert had been in the planning until Nancy’s Poplar Street neighbor, Eli Hengst, owner of Sonoma Restaurant, stepped up in a generous move to support Flinn’s music and offered the event room at Sonoma (in Capital Hill, but we won't hold that against him) to showcase Aaron’s performance.  

The evening turned into a Poplar Street Festival when 23 neighbors joined the crowd to celebrate the evening. Poplar Street moms and dads got babysitters for the night, singles invited friends and family, and many neighbors car pooled their way to Capitol Hill. Close to 70 people, ranging in age from five to ninety,  attended the concert which ran from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. 

Robert Arnold, Katherine Tallmadge, and Tracy Gordon (Photo by: ) Robert Arnold, Katherine Tallmadge, and Tracy Gordon

Some music lovers were there having heard about the event through email invites, some through Facebook pages, some word of mouth, including a group from Rose Park’s Dog Park

After being introduced and lauded by fellow musician, Burnett Thompson, as  “Vermont’s State Secret”, Flinn mesmerized the crowd for nearly three hours with his music and guitar techniques.  His instruments include a voice that ranges from basso to falsetto, guitars, a ukulele and a harp guitar.

His mom, Nancy, was told she was kvelling and she was!  "Aaron has lived music since he was two, she said.  "By the time he was twelve, he could do a bass run right along with Paul McCartney of the Beatles.  He won band competitions, guitar competitions and his newest CD was named one of Vermont's best for 2011!"  

Concert attendees (Photo by: Nancy Flinn) Concert attendees
(In the photo at right:  Nancy Flinn, Sarah Pietragallo (with daughter Francesca),
David Keller with his goddaughter, Katherine Tallmadge, Dick Weiss, dogs Dewey & Alviar)

Flinn, a prolific musician and composer, is a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music where faculty named him one of the school’s top singer-songwriters.  His new CD, his eighth release, is considered a great complement to his increasingly voluminous canon.  Bluegrass, rockabilly, breezy country and hard rock all rub elbows. Elements of folk, indie rock and classic pop combine with powerful vocals, poetic lyrics and finger-picking guitar.  Flinn has an impressive body of original work performed solo and with Salad Days, his band.  He described the evening at Sonoma as one of “the best, with an audience there to hear and appreciate music.”


By Katherine Tallmadge

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Sadness and anger over Harry Thomas, Jr.

January 6, 2012

When a politician takes a fall, whether you like him or not, there is a mix of sadness and anger.

In Harry Thomas, Jr.’s case, it is sadness that someone from a prominent family, who grew up with a lot of benefits others around him didn’t have, has managed to squander them all for ego and greed. Anger because his actions hurt not only his family but his constituents and the city as a whole. What he did perpetuates the belief that all politicians are crooks and out for themselves, and that the District of Columbia has more than its fair share of such politicians.

Neither of those two myths should stand.

The District has no more or less crooked or unethical politicians than anyplace else, and in the District most politicians are in it for the right reason. I am not saying they don’t benefit from being in office. Of course they do! We voters treat them differently. We are mostly deferential.

I am always amazed that when constituents meet with and discuss issues with their elected officials they often forget that they pay their salaries and they work for them. Too often politicians respond to constituent requests and ideas as if they are doing them a favor.  Many even think that favor should be returned with a vote the next time around. Instead it is the elected official who owes his/her best efforts to their constituents. What we forget is that we feed what must already be the huge ego needed to run for office.

When Thomas stood before the judge, one could only wonder what was going through his mind. He was pleading guilty to felonies which could put him in jail for between 36 and 47 months and strip him of not only his office but his dignity. He put his family in financial straits.  He must have understood that his children would never again see him in the same light.

He had to be thinking of his father looking down at him, watching as he squandered a hard-earned legacy. I know that many hope his time in prison will be spent repenting and figuring out how he ended up in this situation and how, in some way, he can make this up to his family as well as the people he was elected to serve. I don’t think Thomas is a bad person, but rather a person that got caught up in the trappings of office and totally lost sight of right and wrong.

Now is the time for the U.S. Attorney to move swiftly on the two other ethics cases he has in front of him involving District officials.

We need closure on those cases. Once that occurs, the District can move forward without this in the background eclipsing all the progress that is being made. If there is criminal activity, those responsible deserve the same fate as Thomas; if what they did was simply unethical or stupid but not criminal the public needs to hear that.  If they are innocent, that needs to come out as well.


By Peter D. Rosenstein 

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Detox? Cleanse? Jumpstart? Where to start?

January 2, 2012

I'm upset by my holiday bloat! But I’m thankful I've already lost 3 pounds. How did I do it? Here are some things to consider when deciding how you should lose your “2011 pounds” to help you get 2012 off to a healthy start…

A new client shared a familiar story with me. Sarah, who has struggled with her weight for years, had just spent a week at a health spa, successfully losing three pounds. But within a few days of returning home, she had gained all of her hard-earned weight loss back – and more. She felt so desperate, she was considering a 21-day “cleanse,” but was fearful severe dieting would backfire again and wanted my advice.

Her fears were well-founded and illustrated the most frustrating dilemma of dieting: Weight loss is exhilarating, but too often the results are fleeting.

This struggle has been going on as long as people have been looking for quick-fix, formulaic diets. In the 1970s, it was carb-counting with Atkins or Scarsdale. The 80s brought us liquid diets (remember Oprah and Optifast?). In the 90s, low-fat diets were the rage. Then we came full circle with low-carb diets returning in the 2000s and the modern equivalent of liquid diets – “cleanses” and “detoxes” – back today.

But the challenge remains the same: You cannot “diet” forever. At some point, you must transition from the “diet” to an eating plan and lifestyle which maintains your weight and health.

A “Cleanse”:

Sarah said it would be such a relief not to have to think, or make choices, and so rewarding to lose weight quickly. I completely understand the temptation here. And these factors do make weight loss with a liquid diet easier for many people. But I encouraged Sarah, “Ask yourself: Will the weight loss stick? Yo-yoing can be demoralizing.” Though I agree it is better to try something than to stay overweight, unhealthy and feeling miserable.

If you decide to go all the way and try a “cleanse” or very low calorie diet plan, you probably will lose weight. It’s a fact: when you eat fewer calories than you burn, weight loss is a consequence. And even a liquid cleanse, if short term, shouldn’t be harmful. (Though some people experience constipation, nutritional deficiencies, headaches, depression/irritability, hair loss.)

But since by definition this is temporary, be prepared to transition slowly to healthy eating (go too fast and you’re liable to gain a lot of water weight).

The Transition:

A second option would be to start with the healthy lifestyle that you would be transitioning to. Lose weight in a sustainable way so that when you’ve lost it, the good habits are in place. I probably don’t need to tell you this is my choice, and it’s successful for the majority of people.

Based on studies of successful weight loss maintainers, here is what you should do to keep weight off once it is lost:

Live at a spa. Not practical? Okay, create a “Home Spa” to jump-start 2012 and feel as good, if not better, than you would being on a liquid “cleanse.” Do…

·      Minesweep for Calorie Bombs– Banish any “risky,” fattening or unhealthy foods from the house,

·      Control Your Environment- Stock your home (and office) with delicious, healthy foods, and piles of clean, chopped, ready-to-grab fruit and veggie snacks,

·      Start Every Day with Physical Activity– Don’t even think about it! Before checking email, taking phone calls, or applying make-up (I know – I’m horrible!), get out the door for a walk, jump on your home treadmill, go to boot camp or to the gym,

·      Eat Breakfast Every Morning – Preferably at home, so you’re not tempted by the bagel the size of your head at the office,

·      Eat Light at Night – Soup is ideal for feeling satisfied with fewer calories so you don’t go to bed feeling too full.  Wake up hungry for a good breakfast in the morning,

·      Sleep at least 7 to 8 Hours – Sleep disturbances are correlated with weight problems

For more information, contact Katherine Tallmadge.


Katherine’s “Cleansing” Veggie Soup

(excerpted from “Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” LifeLine Press, 2011)

This may not be considered a genuine “cleanse” but that’s good! It contains real food you can actually chew! It’s delicious, satisfying, loaded with nutrients and is naturally fiber-rich for natural "cleansing!"


10 to 12 - 100 calorie servings

4 Quarts Defatted Chicken Stock

1 Large Can of Tomatoes with Juice

2 Parsnips

1 Large Potato

5 Carrots

1/4 Large Cabbage

2 Stalks Celery

1 Medium peeled Onion

1/2 tsp butter or light margarine per serving (optional)

Bouquet Garni:
1 Large Clove Garlic

4 Sprigs of Fresh Parsley

2 Sprigs of Fresh Dill

Cut all of the vegetables into bite size pieces.  To make the “bouquet garni,” place the garlic, parsley and dill in a cheese cloth, tie with a string.  Put vegetables and bouquet garni in the chicken stock and simmer until potatoes and carrots are soft  - about 40 minutes.

When serving, garnish each bowl with 1/2 tsp of butter or light margarine.


Written by Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD

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