Easter Monday afternoon found ol’ Robbo ensconced in the hammock on his back porch, reading Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of teh World.  (About which I shall certainly post when I am done.)

Suddenly, a literal cat-fight broke out to my left.  I have posted here before about our two young kittehs Ginger and Fiona, now around  a year old, and their elder cohabiter Bella who hates them both.  Well, old Bella had managed to corner young Ginger under a chair and was going at her with tooth and nail.

Wishing to break things up quam celerrime,  I went to hurl my book (a paperback, rest assured) in the general direction of the melee.  Unfortunately, as I brought my right arm over and across my body, I also managed to upset the equilibrium of the hammock so that the beastly thing pitched me out good and proper.  I landed rayther heavily on my knees.

The book itself hit in the general vicinity in which I’d aimed it, but I think it was the surprise at seeing Robbo flip over and go down hard that actually broke up the fight.

My knees have hurt ever since.  I wouldn’t mind so much, except for the fact that Bella and Ginger had another dust-up this evening and there is much fur to clean up.

Have I mentioned the fact that although I have myself owned cats since shortly after Mrs. R and I got married (21 years ago this June) and grew up with them , I have never really liked them?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The other day, Ol’ Robbo and the Youngest Gel were going somewhere or other together in La Wrangler.   As I drove along, teh gel became absorbed in fiddling with her hair, trying it out in various styles.  The conversation went something like:

Gel:  Do you like it this way?

Self:  It’s fine.

Gel:  How about like this?

Self:  It’s fine.

Gel:  Well, maybe this way?

Self: Fine.

Gel:  You’re just being sarcastic!

Self:  No, I think they all look good.  (Which was true, btw, even if I was trying to get her to stop.)

Gel:  Ha! You’re just saying that! Oh, boo, hoo, hoo…….

Self:  Oh, for Heaven’s sake.  Look, you’re just being female.  I don’t know if you people can’t make up your own minds or choose not to, all I know is that you don’t and won’t.  Jeesh!

Gel:  Daaaa-aaad!  That’s sexist!

Self:  Hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em.

It occurs to me that I no longer live with a wife and three daughters.  More accurately, I live with four wimminz.  And I stick to my empirical observation that wimminz will never settle for a single, uncomplicated resolution where there are myriad ambiguities with which to play.  It seems to be a kind of catnip to them.

Sigh.  And then they wonder why I watch so many John Wayne movies……

Incidentally, this trait may also explain their inability either to properly load the dishwasher, to follow geographic directions or to pay attention to the clock.   Again, in each instance there are simple, rational solutions which apparently are of no concern to teh female psyche.

Again, I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.

And yes, I denounce myself.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Easter! Yes, He is risen indeed!

Ol’ Robbo hopes that all of you who are of the Faith had a reflective and rewarding Holy Week and a truly joyful Easter Sunday.  He would also remind you that Easter is, in fact, an Octave, meaning an eight day Feast, so the celebration is far from over.

I. myself, had a good week overall.  Although I wasn’t able to get to the Tenebrae or Maundy Thursday services I had hoped for, I did get to a noon Mass downtown every day of the week and the big Good Friday service at my home parish.

Sunday itself turned out to be, well, chock-a-block.  Because the Middle Gel decided to free-lance with the RFEC choir this year, she wound up singing both the end of the 7:30 and the entire 9:00 a.m. service Sunday morning.  As her driver, I sat through the first, then was joined by the rest of the Port Swiller Family for the second.  Once that was done, I zipped off to the noon TLM at my own church.  And once that was done, I toddled down the National Cathedral to hear the same gel sing Evensong with her own choir.

I find that my progress in Faith does not proceed smoothly but comes in fits, jerks and starts, sometimes interspersed with periods of stagnation.  I don’t believe this is uncommon at all.   All I can say is that this week has felt like a definite leap forward, and for that I am most grateful (although still a bit tired).

Anyhoo, the decanter is back on the table and the Stilton and walnuts are at hand’s reach.  Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, pray once more fill your glasses, bumpers all around and no heel-taps!  Happy Easter to each and every one of you and God bless!






Greetings, my fellow port swillers and an ambiguously happy Palm Sunday!  Yes, today we join the jubilant crowd who thinks the long-awaited Massias has finally returned in triumph to turn the Roman garrison into pumpkins, clean house in the Sanhedrin, restore Israel to her former glory and take the hammer to all her enemies, knowing full well that this same crowd, in just a few days, will come to see Jesus as a complete dud and start howling for his blood.   It’s a complicated moment.

Owing to unexpected circumstances too tedious to relate, ol’ Robbo wound up going to early Mass this morning and so missed the procession of palms at his usual noon Traditional Latin Mass.  In years past this likely would have prompted a fair bit of grumping and grumbling on my part, but I’ve been working hard on improving my patience and charity and find that this kybosh only produces a passing wistfulness in me this year.  Is it possible that ol’ Robbo is actually growing in teh Spirit?

Maybe, but it’s equally possible that something else will reduce me to the gnashing of teeth at some point in the not too distant future, so I’m not going to get cocky.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to note for the two or three who gather here together that I am putting the stopper on the decanter and sticking the Stilton in the fridge for Holy Week but will be breaking  forth again after Easter.  I hope those of you who celebrate will have a truly holy week and I’ll see all of you on the other side.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  You can get your minds out of the gutter right now because I mean dirty as in garden dirt.

Those of you following the continuing saga of my effort to landscape the back porch at Port Swiller Manor will be pleased to know that I got the jasmine planted this morning.  I also put up all but a few small cross-pieces of the lattice on which said jasmine hopefully will climb.  Indeed, I am now so confident that Spring is really, truly, finally here that I also dragged out the patio furniture and the lawn hammock, and am going to throw caution to the wind and run out this afternoon to pick up a couple of clematis that I also plan to put on part of the lattice.

When the jasmine first appeared on my doorstep early last month, I was caught short for something in which to root them temporarily, so grabbed a handful of clay pots that I’ve had lying around forever.  Clay isn’t like plastic – if you want to get something back out, you can’t simply turn a clay pot over and squeeze and shake it a bit.  No, the only practical thing to do if you want to keep the soil and root integrity is to break the clay.  Whacking the pot on its side with the edge of a shovel works just fine.  It’s also, well, fun.

Beware the sharp edges of the shards, however.  I got my hand on one of these.  I also managed to cut my thumb again with the saw as I was shaping the last lattice panel to put up.  Split the nail this time, too.  I can’t recall a project that has involved so much spilling of my own blood as this one has.  Ah, well, it’s worth it.

In other garden news, regular friends of the decanter will be familiar with Robbo’s annual rant about the skimpiness of his forsythia blooms.  I thought I had this problem licked last year because I had positively razed the hedge down to about a foot and got a pretty decent burst of new growth (on which forsythia flowers).  Nope, it’s still the same feeble yield, maybe even feebler.  Well, as I say, I’ve tried pruning.  I’ve also tried feeding.  It was only recently that I suddenly had a flash:  Those bushes must be a good 20 or 30 years old.  Maybe they’re just…..worn out.  Plant age too, you know.

Finally, it looks like this is the year I’m going to have to bite the bullet and reseed the lawn.  Aside from the parts the construction crew tore up last summah working on the porch, the rest is getting too sparse and weed-infested even for me to ignore anymore.  I’ve never tried reseeding before and I must say that I’m not much looking forward to the prospect.

Going to be a busy spring.

Royal Ugly Dude

Royal Ugly Dude

As Robbo’s beloved Nationals had an afternoon meeting today (sweeping the Feesh, I may add), this evening’s entertainment consisted of a rerunning of the very excellent 1989 movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Although I’ve seen this movie something better than twenty times already, our old VCR gave up the ghost several years back and I only had a tape of it.  So it was because I tossed the DVD into the Netflix queue on a whim recently that I got to see it again tonight.

I must say the movie holds up surprisingly well after all these years.  It’s light-hearted, silly and yet morally sound at the same time.  (The sequel, which took itself waaaaay too seriously, was comparatively rotten.)  It’s also full of most excellent quotes.  Perhaps my favorite exchange is this between Bill and Ted’s little brother, Deacon:

Bill:  You ditched Napoleon?  Deacon! Do you realize you’ve stranded one of Europe’s greatest leaders in San Dimas?

Deacon:  He was a dick!

I love that.

As for the “history” presented in teh film, Robbo was reminded once again of his sole real gripe about it, which you will have to endure here since this is my blog.  And it is this:

Among the historickal periods which Bill and Ted visit was that of 15th Century England, where Bill says, “That must be the castle of King Henry.”  There, he and Ted come across two babe princesses, identified as Joanna and Elizabeth.  Eventually, both of them are whisked away to 1989 San Dimas by Rufus the time-traveler and join Bill and Ted’s band, Wild Stallyons.

Well, okay.  But the only King Henry of 15th Century England was Henry VII.  He had no daughter named Joanna. He did, indeed, have daughters named Margaret and Elizabeth (and also Mary and Katherine), but Margaret died when she was 10 and Elizabeth when she was 3.  Hardly what Ted would call “historickal babes”.

I only bring this up because all of the other historickal characters encountered by Bill and Ted – the aforementioned Napoleon, Socrates, St. Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Abe Lincoln, Sigmund Freud and Beethoven- are at least plausible.  It’s always struck me that this vague reference to a medieval “King Henry” and his babe daughters was a piece of sloppy shorthand on the part of the writers.

Oh, and git off my lawn.

By the way, the older this film gets, the more prophetic one of its throwaway lines gets.  I’m speaking, of course, of the oral history report given by “Ox” Robbins in which he tries in his jock way to describe an historickal view of the modern world:

 “Everything is different, but the same… things are more moderner than before… bigger, and yet smaller… it’s computers “

Yep.  What else can one say to this than, “SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!



Ol’ Robbo is enjoying the game this evening between his beloved Nationals and the Feesh of Miami.  I don’t want to comment on the game itself while it’s still in progress.  Rayther, I have two more general things on what passes for my mind re the glorious Game of Baseball.

First, Memo to Major League Baseball re this year’s innovation of challenged calls and instant replay:  Kill it.  Kill it dead.  Kill it completely dead.  Now.  Beat it about the head with a tire-iron.  Drown it.  Drive a stake through its heart.  Put several bullets into its brainpan.  Toss it into an industrial turbine.  Let the dingo eat it.  Draw and quarter it.  Chop it up into very small bits and  jump up and down on them with hobnailed boots.  Burn the bits, toss the ashes into acid and then scatter what’s left to the four corners of the Earth.   Do you see where I’m going with this?  Stopping play for review goes against every single particle of Baseball’s DNA.  It’s wrong.  It’s baaaaaad.  It’s eviiiil.

Second, my children have noted that my habit of yelling “SQUIRREL!” at the teevee just before a pop fly lands in an opposing player’s glove has yet to save a Nats batter over all these years.  I simply reply that teh Baseball Gods reward loyalty and consistency and that somehow, some day, my efforts will be answered. Oh, yes.  Yes, they will.

This latter observation reminds me of an incident a couple years ago where my eldest, then in parochial middle school, tried to get me in trouble.  “Hey, Father S,” she said, “My dad believes in Baseball Gods! What do you think of that?”

“Well, of course there are Baseball Gods,” replied the good Father, a well-known Sawx fan.

Update:  Naw, I appreciate the pro-review comments but my objection stands, especially after having sat through another round of it last evening.  Having Big Brother looking over your shoulder changes the whole dynamic of the game, making it more litigious and less personal, and also disrupting the traditional flow of things.  No, thankee.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Ol’ Robbo is once again playing semi-bachelor, as Mrs. R and the Youngest Gel departed Port Swiller Manor for Noo Yawk City this morning, along with the rest of the gel’s class at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, to participate in the annual Model U.N. session held at their H.Q.  This sounds fun and exciting and all that, but as a matter of fact it is an extreme pain in the backside in terms of covering logistics (not to mention costs) and the Missus and I are both heartily glad that this will be the last year we have to deal with it.

Teh gel is representing Australia this time around.  I’ve been trying to teach her the proper inflection while saying, “G’day, mate” but she still comes out sounding Cockney. Oh, well.

Her issue this year seems to have something to do with banning child labor in the Third World.  In connection with this, we were discussing recently some proposal or other floating about in the real U.N. that had to do with amending its declaration of “universal rights”.  She couldn’t understand why so much of the World seemed to be in favor of this proposal while the United States, Great Britain and most of the Commonwealth nations oppose it.

“Ah,” I said, “Well, you see, that’s because our understanding of the relationship between the governing and the governed is (or at least used to be) based primarily on what are called Negative Rights.  That means rights that are not given by the government but endowed in us by God and with which the government is not allowed to interfere.  Our right to free speech and assembly, for instance.  Our right to practice our religion.  Our right to defend ourselves.  Our right to be secure in our property.  Our right to due process at law.  And so on.  The message there is that these are ours and the government cannot take them away from us or unduly limit them.  Most of the time, we ask nothing more of Uncle Sam than that he just bug off.”

“On the other hand, the sort of rights bandied about at the U.N. - like a right to education or housing or water or a job at a decent wage – are called Positive Rights.  That means they require somebody, usually a government, to do something positive on its citizens’ behalf.  Now, the Third World likes this sort of thing in part because a Positive Rights philosophy makes a people that much more beholden to its government’s largesse and thus much more subject to its power and control.  If Dear Leader “gives” you a house, Dear Leader is going to tell you exactly what you can and can’t do with it.   (And who to “vote” for if you know what’s good for you.)   Also, since you can’t just “get” tangible things like water, education, houses, wireless networks or wage-paying jobs from the Magical Land of the Rainbow Skittles-Shyting Unicorn, but have to, you know, actually buy them, they can hit up countries like the United States and the Commonwealth Nations for mucho moolah.  Of course, most of this is pocketed by the governments themselves and very, very rarely actually produces any benefit for their people.”

Thus ended the lesson.

I’m fairly sure only a little of it sank in, but I believe mustard seeds are very small, too.

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention a semantic problem baked into this debate.  “Negative” Rights sounds, well, negative.  On the other hand, “Positive” rights sounds, well, you know.  How do you suppose the average LIV-type is going to respond?   Somehow or other, we need to get back to the rhetoric of Magna Carta and Wicked King John if we, that is the Negative Rights side, hope to sway the general publick.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those of you keeping track of Robbo’s latest home improvement project will be interested to know that I spent the better part of the day today cutting, fitting and screwing in lattice panels. A glass of wine with those of you who gave advice – I used two inch wood screws spaced about a foot or so apart and pre-drilled the lattice.  The end result looks and feels quite solid, even with the strong winds we had today.   I’m not actually done yet, as the charge in my drill ran down and I had to come to a stopping point in time to get to the store for dins food, but I’m a good two-thirds/three-quarters of the way through, and as far as the construction goes I feel I could plant my jasmine tomorrow if I really wanted to.  (I can’t, as a matter of fact, because as soon as I’m done with noon Mass I have to take teh youngest gel off to a make-up softball game.  I’m also not yet convinced we’re completely out of the frost zone.  But never mind.)

I should note that I was aided and abetted by teh Middle Gel, whose primary task was to “hold things”.  This is an old joke in my family.  When my brother and I were lads, the Old Gentleman used to put us to work in the yard practically every weekend.  Somehow the meme developed that he only really wanted the company and that our tasks actually consisted of nothing more than “holding things”.  The phrase eventually entered the family lexicon.

As a matter of fact, he worked us like serfs: clearing rocks; digging flower beds; filling flower beds; hauling brush, firewood, stones and railroad ties; laying sod; weeding; mowing; planting; watering – you name it.   We hated every minute of it, in part because the work was often back-breaking, the weather beastly hot and the menace perpetual that the next thing we picked up would have either a snake or a scorpion lurking under it, but mostly because we felt it monstrously unfair that Sistah somehow always got away with not having to contribute to the cause.  (She was nominally supposed to help teh Mothe with indoor tasks, but we knew perfectly well that she in fact spent most of the time skulking in her room listening to Adam Ant records – and let her try denying it.)

Anyhoo, teh Gel was, in fact, immensely useful in her task of, er, holding things – the panels, to be specific.  It is physically impossible to brace a 4×8 panel up against beams and at the same time screw it in, so I literally could not have done the job without her.  My plan, in all fairness, is to draft teh Youngest Gel to help me with the rest.

There were no real mishaps today, either in terms of mistakes or accidents.  The closest I came was when I nicked the end of my thumb with my handsaw.  Anyone who has ever met teh Gel will readily assert that she is one of the sweetest and most sympathetic of souls.  What those who don’t live with her everyday may miss is that she can be startlingly phlegmatic and deadpan at times.  So when she noticed that I had cut myself, she simply said, “I see you’re getting blood all over everything.”

What could I do but reply equally coolly, “Yeah, I know.”

Anyhoo, a good day.  I’ve been feeling a bit in the dumps the last few weeks and this was just the tonic – fresh air and exercise and a plan working out- that I think I needed.  Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to grill a large steak on the bar-b and to get ready for an evening of watching my beloved Nats (hopefully) taking their first win off the Braves.


Nats HatI should mention here my delight in Robbo’s beloved Nationals starting off their 2014 season with a series sweep of the Noo Yawk Mets.  It seemed to me that, after an initial case of the jitters, the team only got stronger and more confident as they progressed.  Indeed, this afternoon’s finale proved to be a smack-down.

Of course, these are the Mets.   No offense, Gary, but, well, you know….*

The real test of the Nats’ mettle will come tomorrow, as they open their first home stand against teh hated Braves.  I think Boz is right in the article I linked above:  If we can pound the small-fry and battle nobly with the Big Dogs, we’ll be just fine.

So, what else is there to say except,

“GO, NATS!!!!”

Oh, incidentally, I had not seen the off-season report that Julie Alexandria was not returning as MASN’s dugout talent this spring, and didn’t even realize that there was a change until I saw Dan Kolko serving up the sideline commentary last evening.  Well, this gives Robbo a sad.  You can brand me any way you wish, but I liked Julie in the same way that I liked her predecessor, Debbi Taylor:  There’s something about the stat-spewing soccer mom type that causes the port-swiller heart to flutter a bit.

Ah, well.


*  Gary, for those of you who don’t know, was a long-time fried of the Llamas and actually became one himself in the last year or two.  We used to mix it up about the NL East back in the day.

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