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I Don't Like This Guy

I Don’t Like This Guy

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Please pardon the post-hols silence from your humble host, but we’ve been having another outbreak of the Joys of Home-Ownership here at Port Swiller Manor this week.  Would you like to hear about it?  Super! Thanks for asking!

Whelp, ol’ Robbo had gone down the office Tuesday as per usual, leaving teh gels home to squander some of their last remaining summah vacation time.  (Mrs. R had stayed up in Connecticut for a couple extra days to visit with her parents and grandmother.)

If you will recall, Tuesday was a day of torrential rains throughout much of the South-East and Mid-Atlantic.  The area immediately around the port swiller demesne was no exception.

About midday, I got a call from the Middle Gel.

“Daaaaaad, there’s a puddle in the [basement] study!” she said.

“Well,” I replied, thinking it was just some wet coming through a window frame,”just drop a towel on it for now.”

“Okay,” she said.

A bit later, she called back.

“Um, Dad, the puddle is getting bigger.”

“Well,  put down some more towels.”

This back and forth went on for a while.  Finally, I suggested she call Mrs. X, a friend of ours who was on stand-bye babysitting duty in case the gels needed immediate assistance while I was off at work.

A short while later I learned that what had originally been described to me as a mere “puddle” was, in fact, a couple inches of water spreading rapidly across the entire basement floor.  At this point, I did what any sensible husband would do and called Mrs. Robbo.

“Mooommy!” I said.

Mrs. R then leapt into action from afar, getting hold of our contractor, who in turn immediately sent a crew along to start damage control.

It was only when I got home that evening that I learned of the full scope of the thing:  Carpet ruined.  Pergo in my study ruined.  Baseboards gone.  Bottom of drywall saturated.  In addition, I found that the  Internet servy-routy-thingamajig was dead (as was the printer), which is why I have not had access to the Webz until this evening.

Oh, and a consultation with our soon-to-be-former homeowner’s insurance revealed their attitude that once rain hit the ground, it was our problem, not theirs.  (I picked a hell of a week to quit moonlighting as a drug mule.)

It was also only when I got home that I learned the youngest gel had been trying to unplug things while standing in the flood.  I believe I aged several years right about then.

So what was the cause, you ask?  The rain was coming down so heavily that it overwhelmed all the drainage measures out front and ponded up against the house directly above the basement wall.  It then found its way down between the cinderblocks (which have been showing signs of age, wear and tear for some time) and bled out into the basement at a rate far, far greater than anything I’ve ever seen in 14+ years of residence here.   I blame Manbearpig.

So you lot know what all this means, of course?  That’s right, MOAR RENOVATIONS!

For one thing, they’re going to have to excavate at the side of the house to come at the leaky basement wall and repair it.  They”re also going to put in new floors in the basement (Pergo all the way this time), replace the two feet of drywall they had to cut out all the way around and install a sump pump.  Mrs. R, seeing an opportunity, has also declared that what was once nominally my workshop is going to be converted into another bathroom for the use of houseguests who stay at the Manor.  (The study doubles as a guest room, you see, and to date lodgers have been forced to endure the horrors of the gels’ bathroom upstairs if they wanted to shower up.)

In the meantime, of course, we’ve had to move all the furniture and things out of the basement and are presently working out places in which to stuff them for the duration of the project.  Also, although I got Verizon to run a cable up to a new router in the living room, we won’t have access to the teevee downstairs until it’s all put back together again.

As you can imagine, everything is all ahoo at the moment and probably will be for some time.

At any rate, there you have it.   Seeing as I will not be able to watch my beloved Nationals on the teevee or listen to my stereo in the evening for the foreseeable future, I imagine I may spend rayther more time hanging around here than usual.

UPDATE:  Spent much of the morning moving things out of the basement and trying to jury-rig something close to normalcy.  Not much hope of that, but at the least I managed to set up my stereo and CD player in a corner of the living room so I can listen to musick (with headphones, of course).  I also found a place for the little teevee and DVD player, so I can carry on Netflixing.  So I’ve got that going for me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Daddy is home from Peru.  (Spot the riff, if you can.  I’m actually back from Maine, of course.)

All in all, a fairly relaxing week staring at the bay, marred only by the fact that ol’ Robbo neglected to pack his tummy medicine before setting out, in part out of 4 ack emma sloth, in part because he figured that the absence of the usual workaday stresses would render said meds unnecessary.

Well, I was wrong about that.  After the last dosage had cleared the ol’ system, the Port-Swiller tummy began to do a thoroughly unpleasant buck-and-wing, in turn rendering your host somewhat, shall we say, dyspeptic to those around him.  After a few days, Mrs. R got so tired of it that she went into town herself, found some more meds, returned to teh cottage and shoved them at me with a curt, “Take them, dammit!”

Ah, middle age……

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends:

♦   Made the run from Westport, CT to Port Swiller Manor in the wilds of NoVA in 4 1/2 hours yesterday morning, including two Indy-like pit stops.  Not that I’ve ever kept a log or anything, but I believe this to be a personal medal run.   I’m not a reckless driver, but I’ve always been somewhat lead-footed, especially when traffic is relatively light, as it was Sunday morning.  (Note, however, to that red van with Indiana plates:  If you insist on doing 65 mph on the south end of the Jersey Turnpike, do it in the right-hand lane, for Heaven’s sake!  You’ve no idea how many near-accidents I saw involving hot-heads trying to get around you.)

♦   We had a friend come in and house-sit for us while we were away.  I was delighted to see that all the porch plants survived and thrived in our absence and that none of the cats was killed by the others.  Oddly, it seemed to me that the two kittens (a little over a year old now) appear to have grown in our absence.  I always thought cats reached full stature in about a year, but teh gels insist that their growth cycle is longer than that.  Any of you know?

♦  Speaking of growth, I also was delighted to note that the jasmine I planted earlier this year – about which  friends of the decanter may recall my blathering at length – all have new leaves on them, a sign that they like where they have been put.  And while we’re on the subject of gardening, I would also note that I have a climbing rose out front, an Improved Blaze.  For some years I have not touched the thing, and it gradually got so tall as to start getting tangled in the second-story gutter.  This would be fine, except that every year after its glorious bloom and when the weather started hotting up, it would promptly shed all its leaves, rendering me open to snide remarks from teh Middle Gel about putting out the Halloween decorations too early.  Well, this year I decided on radical action:  After it was done blooming, I cut the thing way, way back (to about four feet high, in fact).  For a number of weeks I had nothing but a handful of canes left and thought I might have killed it, but this morning I noticed new shoots on each and every one of them.   Yay.

♦   I read four books while loafing about the Port-Swiller summah cottage:

-   Hercules, My Shipmate by Robert Graves, a rendering of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts in the form of an historickal novel.  I’ve read this book many times before.  Once you get past Graves’ paganism (I think he really believed his carryings-on about an ancient, all-encompassing Mother Goddess usurped by the followers of more recent fraudulent religions – including Christianity), it’s a jolly fun and rayther lusty adventure story.

-  Haydn’s Visits to England by Christopher Hogwood, a delightful little book (an extended essay, really) giving a day-to-day overview of Papa’s doings in Blighty.  One thing I learned (this was my first time reading it) was that the Prince Regent was very, very attentive to Haydn during his visits.  Good.  I think very little of George IV in the main, but credit where it is due.

- Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.  Just to keep my ire up against that rat-bastard Jean-Jacques Rousseau and all of his ideological spawn who have dedicated themselves to establishing Heaven on Earth, even at the need of putting millions of said Earth’s inhabitants to fire and sword for their own good.   The book came out in January 2008 but seems all the more timely now.  (Incidentally, I’ve decided to devote a deal of time this fall to rereading Locke, Smith and Burke and to finally introducing myself directly to Hayek.)

- The Commitments by Roddy Doyle.  I’ve long been a fan of the movie (which I’ll probably pop in when I’m done with this post), but this was my first time reading the novel, which Mrs. R picked up for me somewhere for a dollar.  What a lot of fun!  And how refreshing to find a young author (he was about 29 when he wrote it) who isn’t a first-class, self-absorbed, whiney wanker.  I’m curious about how those more Doyle-conscious than me think about the differences between book and movie:  The latter, while, I think, adhering nicely to the tone of the book, did turn Joey The Lips inside out as a character, and its soundtrack had very, very little overlap with that of the former, but most of the differences strike me as de minims.   Was Doyle involved in teh movie?

♦  Didn’t look at the Innertoobs a single time while on hols, so I’ve much on which to catch up.  What did I miss?  (I see this evening that Robin Williams killed himself.  Depression, apparently.  I despised much about him during his career, but you hate to see something like this happen to anybody.)

♦  To be honest, however, I did ask teh gels to keep me posted on my beloved Nats’ doings while we were away.   From what I see at this point, I am (touching wood) pretty confident that we are going to win the NL East.  On the other hand, I also think the Dodgers are going to win the NL pennant and that the A’s will beat them in the Series.

♦  Whelp, now that the summah hols are over and ol’ Robbo turns his attention to the impending start of school and other fall activities, I have to ask:  Just where the hell did this year get to?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo walked into the mawster bedroom of Port Swiller Manor last evening only to discover a couple of yellow-jackets alighting on one of the windows.  Quickly I slipped off the ol’ top-sider and began industriously squishing, but  couldn’t help noticing that, Hydra-like, for every ‘jacket I squished, two more seemed to appear in its place.  It was only after a minute or two of this and having got nailed on the back of my hand that I spotted the small hole immediately under the window sill from which the little bastards were pouring forth.

Realizing that I was in an untenable tactical position, I beat a hasty retreat, closing the door and jamming a towel underneath it for good measure.

Well, we couldn’t find anyone to come out and deal with the nest so late on a Saturday night, so it was beddy-bye on the basement sofas for Mr. and Mrs. R last night, with Self having numerous nightmares involving hornets in unlikely locations.

Fortunately, we were able to find an exterminator willing to come out on a Sunday morning (albeit, charging us through the nose for it).  The fellah who appeared turned out to be ex-Marine Corp, ex-FBI and a regular at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and also of the firm opinion that there’s no such thing as over-kill when eradicating hornets.

We got on very well indeed.

Pretty sure the fellah smited that nest good and proper and that nothing got out alive.

On a side note, not being able to get at the mawster bawth because we’re keeping the bedroom bottled up for another few hours just in case, I was finally forced just now to borrow the gels’ bathroom in order to shower up.  I never, ever want to hear it said that boys are piggier than girls.

UPDATE:  Well, the fellah seemed to be as good as his word.  I went in this afternoon with the vacuum a couple times to clean up the remains and check for survivors.  There must have been something close to 50 bogies scattered around the hole.  The fellah had said that they’d likely go for him when he started probing, and he was damned right.  My only fear was of some lone survivor suddenly popping up from behind a crevice, screaming “BANZAAAIIII!!!” and going for me.  Fortunately, no such thing.

UPDATE DEUX:  The Update above and our Maximum Leader’s comment below resurrected in ol’ Robbo’s brain a very, very distant and vague memory that I now offer you friends of the decanter for identification and commentary:   At some point back in the day, I should say perhaps the latter half of the 70’s, I recall a Saturday morning teevee show centered around the adventures of a fellah and his two offspring, one a teenaged boy and the other a pre-teen girl.  (And no, it wasn’t “Land of the Lost”.)  I think the fellah might have been a marine biologist or something of the sort and dimly recall that the show involved this family knocking about the Pacific in a sailboat and getting into various adventures.  The reason I bring it up is that the only episode of which I have any detailed memory whatsoever involved their alighting on what was thought to be a deserted island, only to have the kids stumble across an old Japanese soldier who wouldn’t or couldn’t believe that WWII was over.  (This was a not completely absurd scenario at the time.  If memory serves, they were coming across such soldiers hiding out in the jungle as late as the early 80’s.)  I think that the son had to dive to avoid a grenade and the climax involved the soldier holding the daughter at bayonet-point.  Or something.  The only other thing I remember is that at the end of the episode, after the soldier had been convinced that the War was, indeed, over, he smiled and said something to the effect that he was very happy Our Two Countries were at peace again.

Does this ring a bell with anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

 

seven elevenGreetings, my fellow port swillers!  And happy Feast of the Overpriced Convenience Store!

Sorry about the dearth of posties this week – it may be that ol’ Robbo’s brain has passed into the doldrums as it so often does this time of year.  At any rate, here are a few odds and ends to make up for it.

♦  I took advantage of a day off from work today to get an early start on my weekend yard work, my main task being to slap a coat of wood sealant on the inside surfaces of the porch posts.  (The outer surfaces are faced by some kind of weatherproof poly stuff but the other three are bare PTL.  They’ve been up for almost a year now and are nice and seasoned.)  For about 30 seconds or so I flirted with the idea of maybe staining them, but at the last regained my sanity and went with a clear sealant with a light gloss instead.   It turned out to be a much easier and faster job than I had originally feared, as I found I could easily get around the railing and other edges without all that tedious taping up biznay.

♦   While I was going about my task, I noticed something I had not known before:  A woodchuck will climb a chicken wire fence if it’s feeling greedy enough.

♦  The middle gel sang at a funeral down the Cathedral this morning for a woman whose son had himself been a chorister there many years ago and thought it would be a fitting thing for her, if any of the current crop were available and interested.  About a week ago, therefore, a request for volunteers went out and the gel, being the kind of gel she is, stepped up along with two or three others.  They sang Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire.  I thought the gesture was really very, very sweet.

♦  One of Mrs. Robbo’s nieces is flying down from Baahston on Monday to spend a week with us and see the sights.  Yesterday, Mrs. R’s sistah sent her a copy of the gel’s plane ticket, on which Mrs. R noticed that her sistah had paid for two checked bags.  Mrs. R immediately got on the phone and said, “Look, I don’t do checked bags.  We’ve got a washing machine and, in an emergency, the gel can borrow whatever she might need from my lot.  Carry-on only.”  I thought that very amusing.

♦  Speaking of gels, within the past month or two, I have heard several very different women in very different geographical locations using the phrase, “get her big girl pants on” or “get her big girl britches on”.  Is this a thing?  It must have some common source, but I work so hard to disassociate myself from pop “culchah” that I just don’t know what this might be.

♦  And speaking of hearing things, one of the most chilling things I’ve heard in recent memory was a colleague of mine down the office this week using the expression “Brave New World” without irony.   Telephone call for Gods of the Copybook Headings.  Will the Gods of the Copybook Headings please pick up the white courtesy phone.  Thank you.

♦  Finally, speaking of Kipling, I am deep into P.C. Wren’s Beau Geste for the very first time.  I won’t review it here since I’m not done but I will say that I’m enjoying it very, very much.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

Ol’ Robbo has so far celebrated the country’s birthday today by getting up at the crack of dawn to nip out to southwestern Pennsylvania to retrieve the younger gels from their summah camp.

On the way home this afternoon, cresting the various heights of the Allegheny, Blue Ridge and Catoctin ranges, we could actually see Hurricane Arthur on the far eastern horizon, a solid bank of cloud with smaller, darker strata scudding around its edges and that incredibly vibrant blue sky above which, I read somewhere, has something to do with the enormous amounts of ozone that a hurricane flings into the upper atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the wind has been whipping out of the northwest all day – straight toward the thing.  One could almost see the air being dragged in by that enormous low pressure vacuum.  These macro moments always give ol’ Robbo a bit of a shiver.

Just thought I’d share.

Anyhoo, I am now taking a break with the help of Dr. Pimm before I set about getting ready to grill burgers and dogs for a few friends we’re having over to Port Swiller Manor.  I gather the idea is for some of us to go on over to the local high school to see our municipal fireworks display afterward.   I hope all y’all have an equally festive day today!

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took advantage of today’s gorgeous weather to finally get out and clean up the raspberry canes, which, after suffering a fair bit from the cold and snow this past winter, are having what in sports would be called a rebuilding year.

As I pulled out dead canes and uprooted weeds, I found myself thinking about a remark the M-i-L made to Mrs. Robbo last week when the in-laws came to visit Port Swiller Manor on their annual spring migration north.  Apparently, she took a look at the front of the house and said, “Has Robbo given up on landscaping, then?”

Well.

As a matter of fact, there was some justification for such a remark.  As it happens, this year’s project will be to replace the front sidewalk and to put in a new planting bed along the front of the house, while at the same time putting in some new drains to help stem the flash floods we get from the downpours around here which have played merry hell with the current bed.  Given that most of the current bushes (a set of ancient, declining azaleas) and flowers are going to be torn out within the next week or two, I don’t see any real point in wasting any energy on trying to keep up with it all.

But still, this is something of a tender subject to me.

Having occupied Port Swiller Manor for nearly 14 years now, I’ve come to recognize that my efforts at gardening really constitute more of a rear-guard delaying action against the encroaching jungle than anything else.   But then again, there’s only me to do it, and given the lack of time, money and professional reinforcements (unlike some people – which see above, I don’t happen to have the luxury of a truck full of Salvadorans showing up twice a week to help me out), I think I do a tolerable job at least keeping things neat.

Plus, when I do manage to pull something off –  a good blooming on the climbing rose or the peonies, a garden absolutely full of butterflies flittering around the Buddleia at midsummer, a successful installation of trellis and jasmine – I have the satisfaction of knowing it was the result of my own effort, and not of some hired pros.

I’d much rather engage in honest, if humble and only modestly successful cultivation than live in a showplace and pay off somebody else to look after it.

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It probably says something about ol’ Robbo’s time and station in life that today’s excitement was the deposit of a large dumpster on the driveway of Port Swiller Manor.

We’re taking out the old swing set and tree house this weekend, as they are both rotting and the gels have long outgrown them anyway, so we decided to go whole hog and get rid of a large chunk of the flotsam and jetsam that has accumulated round ye olde demesne over the years.

I’ve just spent an hour or two in the garage, getting my exercise hurling large chunks of wood, old bags of grout, broken gardening tools and the like into the maw.  We’ll probably spend the better part of the next couple days filling the thing to the Plimsoll Mark.   What is it that makes chucking on this scale so much fun?

It occurs to me, though, after reading about the kybosh the EPA is planning to put on the utilities, that we might be better off hoarding all that wood against the coming winter instead.   I actually heard some flak on NPR this morning arguing that higher electricity costs are good for the economy because people won’t use as much energy.

Figure out the logic behind that one if you can.

I suppose that when fixed-income granny can’t afford to heat her place under the new regime, we can remind her that she’s always got thoughts of Mother Gaia to keep her warm.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In what may be a compositional first here, ol’ Robbo is writing the first draft of this post by hand as he sits in the sports bar in Concourse E of the Charlotte airport on Friday afternoon, loitering around waiting for his flight home.  [Ed. note - Updates and commentary on this draft will appear throughout thusly.]  

On the one hand, a cacophony of mindless thump-thumpa is breaking from the speakers directly over my head.  (Why on earth would anybody think people would want to get blasted like this in an airport, where they’re most likely already thoroughly browned off?)  On the other, I’ve got a nice G&T in front of me which I’m nursing for all its worth, much to the annoyance of the waitpersonserver guy hovering in the middle distance (who I’ll bet went with the most expensive brand of gin because I didn’t specify otherwise.) [Update:  He didn't, in fact.]  So here we are.

This may sound terribly pretentious of me (moi?) but it’s nonetheless true:  I have very little regular personal contact with mass culture – including the MSM – except when I’m on one of these little biznay jaunts.  So every time I find myself with no choice but to read Useless Today or watch CNN, I am gob-smacked anew at the pablum with which they saturate print and airwaves  If Gerber were to develop a line of easy-to-digest propaganda, this is what it would look and sound like.  And I am downright terrified by the idea that this is where most people voters get their so-called information.

Speaking of which, having nothing better to do last evening after finishing my prep for today’s work (I forgot my book this trip – Waugh’s Black Mischief; probably just as well not to be caught in public with it), I found myself flopped on my hotel bed staring at the Weather Channel’s Scary Stormz Special.  TWC recently resolved a contract dispute with one of their main carriers (DirecTV, I believe) by promising, among other things, to cut back on the “reality” shows that have become such a major part of their prime-time line up and focusing, instead, on …you know…weather.  I dunno if this was some kind of subversive payback, but I sat through an hour of Jim “Mimbo” Cantore hovering over his Scary Stormz radar and sounding the alarum for one midwestern county after another in painstaking repetition and detail.  After a while, it became clear that things were fast settling down, but ol’ Jim kept plugging away nonetheless.  “Look out, St. Louis, rain is coming for ye! RAINNNN!!!”  The message from TWC seemed to be, “Okay, you want weather?  We got your weather right here, pal!”  [By the bye, anyone remember that TWC reporter from back in the 90's who often appeared to be several fathoms below the surface when he did his show?  I can't think of his name now, but he was a lot more entertaining than Cantore.]

Oh, and for some reason, even though I was camped in the wilds of the Carolinas, the locals on the 8’s kept running current conditions and forecast for Southern California.  Carolina…California..  Whatevs.  (Actually, there was a country song a few years back called “Heads, Carolina – Tails, California”.  Jo Dee Messina, I think?)

Speaking of hotels, it really really bothers me that Marriott considers it necessary to attach printed instructions to the shower knob.  (Seriously: 1) Pull handle; 2) Point to hot or cold as desired.)  My guess would be that if someone is too dense to figure out the workings themselves, the odds that such instructions are going to be of any use to them are pretty slim.

Ain’t I awful.  Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…..

Well, my flights out and back this time involve Dulles instead of National, much to my chagrin.  (US Air used to have numerous Airbus A320 runs between National and Charlotte, but I think they lost a bunch of routes as part of the big recent merger with American.  In any event, the only flights seemingly available now are a bunch of extremely grungy little Canadair regional jets staffed with the dregs.  Downbound the other day, the cabin was served by two of the most emaciated “stewards” I have ever seen in my life.  Any friends of the decanter old and nerdy enough to remember the short-lived teevee series from the late 70’s “Flying High”?  Connie Sellecca, you know.  I’m afraid those days are long gone, my friends.  [Coming back, one of the "lady"  flight attendants had shoulders like a linebacker, not that there's anything wrong with that.]

Aaaaaanyway, I’ve seen my share of airports over the last few years and I must say that Dulles is the ugliest and most impersonal of them all by a very wide margin.  It’s metastasized out of all recognition from what it used to be, and has lost any positive character it ever had.  I always feel like I’m going in and out of Sing-Sing.  Oh, and message to WMATA:  If you think that extending the metro all the way to Dulles from downtown Dee Cee is a potential money-maker, I’ve got some shares in a turnkey jackalope ranching operation I’d like to discuss with you.

Well, anyhoo, it’ll be good to get home, even though by the time I actually type this up and you read it, it’ll be after the fact.  [As it happens, my homecoming coincided with not one but two of the port swiller loos losing battles with certain unnamed persons who don't seem to understand that there are certain, em, hygienic products that CANNOT be flushed.  Grrrrrrrr…..]

Speaking of hearth and home, it appears this weekend is Mother’s Day.  How do I know?  Because I got an email from Mrs. R this morning thanking me for the Mother’s Day flowers I sent her.   Considering I hadn’t done anything of the sort, I was a bit apprehensive about what this might mean.  A hint?  A sneaky rival?  The gels?  (Naw, not the gels.)  For one wild instant, I considered a bluffing response, but at the last second common sense prevailed and I manfully admitted I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turns out, my candor was rewarded:  She admitted that she had, in fact, just bought a large rose bush at the farmer’s market, that she far, far preferred it to a bunch of cut flowers and that my “gift” to her was to plant it for her this weekend.   So Mrs. R gets a (hopefully) long-term present and ol’ Robbo gets to thumb his nose at the FTD/Zales/Hallmark Sentimentality-Industrial Complex Shakedown Racket.

Everybody wins.  [As a matter of fact, we find the thing looks very nice in a pot at the top of the stairs to the porch.  Additionally, there is virtually no chance the damned deer will climb the stairs to get at it.]

Whelp, I suppose I had ought to shuffle off and find my gate.  It’s been surprisingly easy to slap down these thoughts, despite the thump-thumpa.  The G&T (okay, it was a double) certainly helps.  I could get used to this Writer’s Life.  (In fact, the only literary ambition I’ve ever held was to somehow become my generation’s Tom Wolfe.)  I only hope I can read my scrawlings when I come to transcribe my rambling into pixelated form.  [Indeed, I can quite easily.  My handwriting here seems to be much better than it usually is down the office.]

Update:  Sitting at the gate, I’m looking at a security door with a sign on it reading, “DOOR IS ALARMED”.  This amuses me.  Door (in C3PO voice): “Oh, dear.  Oh, dear.  What is all this? You’re not authorized?  Surely, you’re not going to open me?  This is all R-2’s fault!  Somebody help me! Pleeease!!!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Robbo’s beloved Nats have called a temporary halt to their battle against the Dodgers of Los Angelese this evening due to rain.  Port Swiller Manor is located some miles to the north-northwest of Nats Park and teh rain is moving south-southeast.  If what’s happening here at the moment is any indication, this delay is going to last well beyond Robbo’s work night bed-a-bye time, so I’ve pretty much written off getting to enjoy any of the game.  Instead, I’ll put on some Johann Georg Neruda trio sonatas, top off the ol’ glass, and give you some random.

♦  CD Observation I:  I am pretty sure the middle gel filches some of my classickal musick collection from time to time, as several favorite disks have gone missing and I can’t imagine anyone else in the household (including the cats) having any use for them.  (I know for a fact that she has appropriated and, in one way or another, destroyed most of my Mozart opera DVD’s.)  On the one hand, I object because of the nuisance when I wish to listen to them.  On the other, well, how can I….

♦   CD Observation II:  This afternoon on FB, I mentioned that I thought Monty Python’s record version of their “Piranha Brothers” sketch was superior to the one they did for teevee.  (This I attribute to the high quality of their voice-acting and the lack of distraction from a studio audience.)  On further reflection, I think this is true of a number of their sketches – the “Cheese Shop” and the whole “Spanish Inquisition” sequence come to mind, but the standard is far from universal.  Some of their material works best on stage, some on film, some on record.  I still haven’t pinned down the exact formula to explain this.

♦  On the literary front, I’ve been trying for some days to write a review of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, a piece of Catholic dystopic sci-fy set in the 21st Century that tells of the appearance in a Humanist-Marxist Brave New World of the anti-Christ and the build up to Armageddon.  Words fail me.  Suffice to say that this is about the most terrifying book I’ve read in a very, very long time, as much because of its plausibility and prescience (it was published in 1907) as anything else.

♦  Also on the literary front, as I seem to do just after every Easter, I’ve started in on the novels of Evelyn Waugh again.  So far I’ve polished off Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies.  The latter is perhaps my least favorite of Mr. Woo’s output because of its sledge-hammer brand of satire, but I must admit that I enjoyed it more this time around than ever before.

♦  I mention below that Mrs. R and teh gels were out this weekend giving a lick o’ paint to the back yard fence.  Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo was busy with early season mowing and trimming.   One side of the back fence at Port Swiller Manor is occupied by a hedge of wisteria.  As I worked around it, I couldn’t help noticing yet again how deliberately said wisteria seems to reach out and make a grab for one’s power tools.  Indeed, they seem to have  a singular genius for getting tangled up in the throttle control and causing the machine to start screaming.  Clever, that.  I don’t know what the neighbors made, had they witnessed it, of the scene in which Robbo pulled violently away from the hedge, yanking on his mower and yelling, “Gerrouto’it! Let go! Let GO, you bastard!”

♦  Speaking of such things, I can’t help noticing that after our long, cold and late winter, many of teh plants in ol’ Robbo’s garden seem….confused.  They’re  all beginning to come up and leaf out, but way late and seemingly in a very hesitant manner, as if they’re not sure exactly what’s going on and would, if sufficiently spooked, go right back to dormancy.   I blame Algore for this.

♦  This past Friday, after complications too tedious to recount, ol’ Robbo finally got the emissions test done on La Wrangler and submitted her re-reregistration bumf online.  Although I printed out a temporary registration certificate, her plates still carry April ’14 tags which are, of course, now past due.  I am hoping that a cop pulls me over just so I can whip out my proof of re-registration and, Jerry Seinfeld-like, say, “Ooooh, I don’t think so!”

♦  Ol’ Robbo voted (absentee) in some sort of local community center board election the other day for the father of one of the youngest gel’s best friends.  I was perfectly happy to help the fellah out, but as I filled out the ballot, I couldn’t help thinking how repugnant the idea of running for any kind of office, however small,  is to me.  On my FB profile, where it asks my political affiliation, I quote the condensed version of William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous sentiment:  “If nominated, I will not run.  If elected, I will not serve.”  To me, Peej O’Rourke nicely sums up all politicks in his formula, “Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty— their power and privilege— to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians.”

No, thankee.  I’ve my next life to consider.

Well, enough for one evening, I think.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s a bit late on Sunday night for ol’ Robbo to start bloaviating on most of the alarums and excursions that he has encountered over the last few days.  Instead, I’ll focus on a single observation:  Yesterday, Mrs. R had all three gels plus an additional couple friends…..voluntarily helping her to paint the backyard fence at Port Swiller Manor.  Did a pretty fair job, too.

If that isn’t a sign of the impending Apocalypse, damme if I know what is……

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