by May 10, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]

"Mother's Day"

Be creative on Mother’s day. (Luis Gomez Photos)

For those of you too buried in your iPhones and Blackberry phones to have noticed the calendar, Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, May 12.

And, that’s right, we’re now just inside that window when there’s not enough time to order a gift online — but still enough that you should come up with more than just a card.

This is why your nonjudgmental Borderstan family is here to help out with some local gifts for your local moms.

  • Has your mom been working hard this year? Could she stand to have someone pamper her instead of the other way around? Pick up a gift certificate or schedule a massage for her with Sioux Barry, the official Massage Therapist for DC United, at Healing District.
  • Would your mom rather relax with a glass of wine instead of being kneaded? Cork & Fork is one of the very best wine shops in the area. Pick up a bottle or two, or even better, splurge on one of their gift baskets, sure to please the greatest oenophiles in the neighborhood.
  • Is your mom appreciative of the bygone era of handwritten letters and notes on proper stationery? Check out the classic styling of Copenhaver where you’ll be taken care of by very friendly and polite staff while discovering something special and unique.
  • Does your mom have any green space outside? Or at least like to keep a plant or two indoors? Swing by Old City Farm & Guild for a gift that says you gave me life, now let me try to return the favor.
  • If time is getting tight and you just have time to grab a card, Pulp has one of the best selections of cards around. You may find just the right funny or sentimental card to take her mind off you not bringing a gift.
  • And finally, if you’re just reading this Sunday morning before heading out the door, we have a handful of bank ATMs (TD Bank, PNC, BB&T, Wells Fargo, SunTrust) in the area if you just want to slide your warm and loving mother some cold, hard cash.

Happy Mother’s day to all you moms out there.

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by May 9, 2013 at 11:00 am 1,336 0

From Willis Shawver. Follow him on Twitter at @WShawver or email him at Willis[AT] 

"Mother's Day"

Author Willis Shawver and his mother. (Courtesy Willis Shawver)

Don’t worry. Mother’s Day is this Sunday, so you haven’t missed it. There is still plenty of time to show your mother just how much you care, or to disappoint her like you usually do. So that raises the question, how does an individual properly thank someone for birthing them?

Lucky for you there are lots of ways to express your love and gratitude for Dear ol’ Mom. To help, I’ve ranked some popular Mother’s Day activities that fall somewhere in between “Best Child Ever!” and “You’re dead to me.” Here’s hoping you fall somewhere towards the top of this list.

1. An Open Hearts necklace. Don’t ever question the jewelry designing skills of Jane Seymour. Ever. (JK. Don’t buy an Open Hearts necklace.)

2. Give mom a visit. If you can swing it, seeing your mom in-person on Mother’s Day is a perfect way to celebrate. Take her out to dinner, or even better, brunch! Moms dig brunch. If your mom is local, check out Masa 14 or the Greenhouse at the Jefferson Hotel for some great brunch options here in the neighborhood.

3. Send flowers. Ok. So a trip to see mom is out of the question. No worries. Let a bouquet of flowers brighten her day in your absence. This isn’t Valentine’s Day though, so stay away from the roses. Mom’s like lilacs, irises, tulips, or perhaps some kind of blooming plant. If you’re really trying to impress, pull out all the stops and order her an Edible Arrangement.

4. Send a card. Necklaces, trips, and arranged food can be expensive. Greeting cards, on the other hand, are cheap and easily accessible. Take some extra time to write a personalized, heartfelt message in your card. Degree of difficulty: when was the last time you bought stamps?

5. Call your mother. That thing in your pocket that takes Instagram photos? That’s a phone. It can make actual phone calls. Use it. The least you can do this Mother’s Day is to give your mom a phone call.

6. Send a text. Did you just text “hpE mthRs dy. <3 U!” to your mother? Shame on you.

In conclusion, you should hand deliver your mom an Edible Arrangement with a card attached containing an Open Hearts necklace. Easy enough I think. Whether you travel, send flowers, or call, make sure you do something for mom this year. She’s earned it.

What am I going to do for my mom this Mother’s Day? Blog about it. Duh. Love you, Mom!

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by May 9, 2013 at 9:00 am 0


Give your mother some fun this Mother’s Day. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Sarah Griswold. Email her at sarahg[AT]

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, many of us need to start getting our celebratory plans in order. As we all know, holidays can be hectic when left to the last minute and you don’t want to look like you don’t have it together in front of mom.

Not to worry, we’ve got you covered fellow Borderstanis! I’ve got some of my personal favorite brunch spots as well as some more unique options and all with room for mom’s favorite breakfast cocktail — virgin or spiked of course.

  • First up: Locolat CafeFrom 9 am to 3 pm, Locolat (1781 Florida Avenue NW) is offering buy 2 get 2 mimosas FREE, plus a special Mother’s Day waffle with shrimp and free chocolate all for $19. And trust me, the chocolates here are ah-mazing. You’re likely leaving with more than just one. Phone: 202-518-2570.
  • Right around the corner at L’Enfant CafeHere they are giving your mother her first mimosa for FREE. Also, they just launched a brand new brunch menu that looks pretty délicieux! Brunch is served from 10 am to 3:30 pm. Phone: 202-319-1800.

Now on to something a little different.

  • The Mansion on O StreetThe museum collection rotates and changes daily, and includes art, musical and even written manuscripts for mom to browse. On Mother’s Day they are offering champagne brunch at $85 per person, international and regional foods with award winning desserts from 11 am to 4 pm. Your mom may choose to follow up brunch with afternoon tea at $45 per person from 3 to 5 pm. Phone: 202-496-2000.
  • The Greenhouse at the Jefferson Hotel (1200 16th Street, NW). Starting at 7 am, running to 2 pm, the The Greenhouse is serving up a delectable four course brunch experience at $80 per person. Afternoon tea may also follow this brunch from 2 to 3 pm for $39 per person. Phone: 202-448-2300.
  • Masa 14If you are looking to keep mom’s mimosa full, Masa 14 offers a $35 per person unlimited prix fixe brunch with menu items ranging from breakfast pizza to chilaquiles to salted caramel and chocolate flan. Brunch is served 10 am to 3 pm. Phone: 202-328-1414.

Whatever your plans for Mother’s Day, here’s wishing you, and your mom a very special day together! Cheers!

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by May 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm 2,578 2 Comments


Mother and daugher Iris and Michele Molotsky are well-known in the Dupont-Logan area. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary Burgan. Email her at mary[AT]

Iris Molotsky is one of the mothers of Borderstan. She has two daughters. Dr. Ellen Carpenter (PhD)  who lives in Norfolk with her husband and  three children and is Associate Dean for General Studies at South University (a for-profit school).

Iris’s other daughter, Michele, began a career in municipal service by becoming an indispensable aide to a member of the City Council in Oakland, California, 20 years ago. But she returned to the District after losing her husband to cancer in 2001. Before long, Michele became Jack Evans’ “go to” constituent services person. If a member of the Borderstan community wondered what had happened to her income tax refund — it being four months since her April 15 filing — a call to Michele would bring action. Those who worried about the decay of Stead Park on P Street would take heart when Michele began to oversee the project. Now the playground can be used by toddlers as well as towering basketball players. They don’t risk running each other down.

The  service to society of both the Molotsky girls raises the question: How did such a mother raise such daughters? That’s what we asked Iris and Michele when we interviewed them together for this Sunday’s Mother’s Day profile.

Iris told us that she and Irv Molotsky moved to T Street 28 years ago. Irv was drawn to the area because he loved the pizza at the old Trio’s take-out,  proclaiming it to be the “best pizza in the District.”

As an historian, Iris was fascinated to discover that  their T Street home was in the historic “Striver’s District” where African-American inhabitants at the turn of the 19th Century were skilled laborers,  striving to move up in Washington’s black social order. The name of the area matched a name in New York’s Harlem, and so did its developing reputation as a home for  DC’s version of the Harlem Renaissance. Since then the street has transitioned from black to white. The diminishment of the black population in the neighborhood worries Iris greatly.

The  houses in Striver’s were often constructed to accommodate more than one family, and Iris and Irv found that the house they bought in the mid 1980s was really two houses — built as mirror images of one another, one on top of the other. The Molotskys remodeled the house themselves, but Iris also found time to become involved in cleaning up two small parks where New Hampshire and T intersect.

These parks are known by some long-term neighborhood residents as the “Molotsky parks” because Iris led the effort to clear them out and make them available for neighborhood use. The small T Street Park and the large S Street Dog Park have benefitted from grant money Iris helped to raise, as well as her patience through endless meetings with conflicting views about their use. The results have not been simple successes but a gradual accommodation of conflicting interests.

In 2001 Irv took early retirement from the Times and became a summer editor for the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and Iris retired from her position with the American Association of University Professors as well. As a result, the  Molotskys acquired a Paris apartment and became Americans in Paris during the summers. They now divide their time between France and the United States, recently adding China and Italy to the mix as well. The Paris apartment is open to their children, of course. Actually, Michele and Ellen ran the Paris Marathon together on April 15!

Despite maintaining  Maison Molotsky in the Marais district of Paris, Iris continues to call the Borderstan neighborhood home. She is president-elect of the DuPont Circle Village, a “neighborhood organization that connects aging residents to services and cultural/social activities so that they can stay in their homes rather than moving to some group facility for the elderly. As leader of this group, Iris has sponsored silent auctions, lectures, and events like cooking demonstrations — all designed to strengthen the community of older people in Borderstan.

Meanwhile Michele has moved on to a new job in the city’s bureaucracy. She is a “Civilian Analyst for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD),” working closely with its “Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit.” That means that she defends the uses of video to enforce traffic and speeding laws.

Yes, Michele admits, “People are either angry or happy” with the new cameras, depending on how recently they have gotten a ticket. But they have to realize that statistics surrounding crash data show that Washington has the highest number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 among the nation’s major cities. Using statistics to save lives is what keeps Michele at the job.

Surveying  all the good works performed by the Molotskys  we asked Iris and Michele why they, and the absent Ellen,  were such perfect illustrations of “like Mother, like Daughter” ?  They tried out several answers:

  • That  they shared the same progressive political views.
  • That they had been products of the Women’s and the Civil Rights Movements; “Those times demanded doing.”
  • That each had had important  men behind them — fathers or spouses, though both recognized the failure of some men to mentor the gifted women who serve them.
  • They even thought back to “Grandma” from Philadelphia as the source of their drive to do good.

But finally, and most convincingly, Iris and Michele Molotsky agreed that they had helped and inspired each other without the imposition of maternal power or filial duty. They had become, simply, sisters.

“And,” they agreed, “We like each other!”

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by May 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,704 0

Mary Burgan, Borderstan Movie Fan

From Mary Burgan. Email her at mary[AT]

You can get lists of movies about mothers on line, but that’s no fun. The fun comes from thinking back over all the films you’ve actually seen to consider the mothers in them. You’ll probably remember a character who embrace the role of mother eagerly.

Or reluctantly, as Shirley MacLaine observes in Terms of Endearment, “Why should I be happy about being a grandmother?” Of course, MacLaine is on my list as one of the unforgettable mothers and grandmothers in the movies I’ve seen.

So start your own list now. You might buy one of those films for your ma. Or you might look at one of the movies on your list once again,  then call to thank Mom for being the kind of mother, or not, that you’ve seen.

Almodovar sums it up at the end of his movie: “To all actresses who have played actresses. To all women who act. To men who act and become women. To all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother.”

Let me get you started with a good half dozen movies for Mother’s Day, and then you can add your own. Do that in the comments section, and give a sentence or two about your choice.

  1. My all-time top movie for Mother’s Day is Two Women (1960), starring a Sofia Loren who bears no resemblance to the fashion plate associated with the European highlife of the 1970’s and 80’s. She is no fashion model in this classic Vittorio de Sica film, but a tough survivor intent on preserving her daughter in a brutal world at war. I have never forgotten the climactic scene in this film — one that brought Loren the first Academy Award for best acting of an actress in a foreign language (Italian) film.
  2. Shirley MacLaine Is an equally fierce as the mother of Debra Winger (and the grandmother of her children) in David Brooks’ Terms of Endearment (1983). Otherwise, she is a flighty woman, bound by the rigid mores of her southern culture. And Debra Winger is terrific too as a mother who forces her oldest son to tell her he loves her to safeguard him from regrets when he gets older. Both women were nominated for Oscars for this movie. MacLaine won.
  3.  Cicely Tyson is fierce but silent in Sounder (1972). She compensates for her husband’s absence,  though she never seeks to replace him within her share-cropping family. She merely dominates the film with the stillness of her resolve to keep the family together. I’ll never forget the look of dawning happiness on her suffering face when she hears that her husband has come home at last.
  4.  Anywhere but Here (1999) is a Susan Sarandon movie that also introduces the teen-age Natalie Portman as a fine actress. Sarandon’s enactment of feckless but insistently caring motherhood lingers. And so does Portman’s rejection of her — a reaction against the mother that just barely, in the last moment, relents.
  5.  All About My Mother (1999) is one of the great foreign films on my list. The somewhat confusing narration in Almodovar’s  kaleidoscopic Spanish film is  tragic, or is it comic?  It introduces Penelope Cruz as a pregnant nun after all and it follows a number of other characters from the stage and from the borderland between male and female. Finally, I realized that it was primarily a celebration of the many roles a truly mothering woman may take with children other than her own.
  6.  I’ve just seen Mother (Madeo, 2009) a recent film from South Korea, because I wanted to observe motherhood from another culture, one far removed from my own. The film is about a poor mother in a provincial Korean town who turns to extremes in defending her mentally slow son from a murder charge. The plot of this film shows the influence of American CSI television, but the portrayal of the determined, though confused mother by Kim Hye-ja is unforgettable. By the end of this long and demanding film, I concluded that mamas are the same all over the world. And each one is unique.

Almodovar sums it up at the end of his movie: “To all actresses who have played actresses. To all women who act. To men who act and become women. To all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother.”

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by May 3, 2011 at 6:46 am 1,211 0

Mother's Day Brunch in DC, Borderstan, Luis Gomez Photos

The Dupont-Logan-U Street area is full of options for Sunday. (Luis Gomez Photos)

This post was co-authored by Alejandra Owens and Laura Herman. You can follow them on Twitter at @frijolita and @lmhhabs, respectively. Also check out One Bite At A Time, Alejandra’s personal food and cooking blog.

Mother’s Day is always a popular day to take your special lady out for brunch, but as we well know by now, it’s difficult to get those coveted reservations. If you haven’t already made your phone calls and OpenTable visits, it’s time to get on it.

Make Reservations Now… Right Now

Elite brunching spots like the ones below require some serious planning. But if you can get a table, they’re worth it.



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