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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
No, ol’ Robbo has not given up blogging for Lent this year, as it’s simply a much more limited part of my time these days and I don’t feel the need to curtail it. Instead, my silence this week has been due to my having other matters to attend to. My apologies.
♦ I hope those of you practicing had a happy Ash Wednesday. Of course, “happy” is not really the appropriate term, is it? Everyone says it automatically anyway. For myself, I toddled round to the church near my office at lunchtime. The place was packed to the rafters. The Mass was conducted by the priest that I privately think of as Father Shecky, who couldn’t resist making a crack about how happy he was to see the usual weekday crowd. Buh-DUMP-dah! Perhaps I’m a bit of an old fuddy-dud (oh, shut up!) but it didn’t strike me that such a rimshot was particularly appropriate to the day, so I confined myself to a thin smile.
♦ Anyhoo, I wore the ashes all afternoon, much to the obvious discomfort of a number of my progressivista colleagues, and made a point of being especially cheerful and courteous. This year, more than any other I can recall, I was really filled with the spirit of silent witness. I’m sure it bumped me up a couple places on the list of those to be sent to the camps, but I like to believe that perhaps I might have got at least somebody to think about things a little.
♦ Speaking of thinking about things a little, the Dalai Llama is speaking down the Cathedral today, which made dropping off the Middle Gel for choir practice a royal pain, what with police cordons and crowds of New Age types wandering about. Personally, I’ve nothing against the Dalai Llama, nor against Buddhism for that matter, which from what I gather is not really a religion but more of a system of ethics. What irks me is the sort of people who buy “Free Tibet” vanity license plates and fawn all over the Llama because he’s cute, nonthreatening and mystical, perfect for the type who likes to say, “I’m spiritual, just not religious.”
♦ And speaking of school runs, getting around the local streets these days makes me feel like Han Solo in the asteroid field, what with all the potholes. Show of hands for all of those wishing Algore’s Globull Warminz would come back? Yeah, me too. I’ve also noticed a great many new cracks between moldings and walls in Port Swiller Manor, no doubt put there by the excessive cold we’ve experienced. (The other possible explanation is that the house is getting ready to collapse on itself due to the collective pounding of the gels’ feet. I don’t care to dwell on that possibility.)
♦ Speaking of the cold, despite the fact that the grounds of PSM are still covered in snow, I nonetheless feel that I must start spring gardening this weekend with the annual cutting back of the butterfly bushes known to regular friends of the decanter as Kong and the Konglings. Perhaps I’ll have a go at the wisteria, too. March is a schizophrenic month in these here parts and despite the fact that it’s only in the 30′s now, there’s no knowing when we might suddenly find ourselves up in the mid-70′s. (Typing this entry reminds me that if I want to but any spring plantings online, I damn well better do it today if it’s not already too late. UPDATE: Found some Confederate Jasmine vines at a nursery down in Georgia that I’m going to try on a trellis fronting the new porch. The innertoobs swear it’s hearty to Zone 7, which is us. We shall see.)
♦ And finally, speaking of local things, I was flipping through the local fish-wrapper this morning when my eye fell on this editorial paragraph:
Ukraine is not the only place where civil war threatened to erupt last week. In Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the City of Falls Church, there are battles raging between School Boards and the elected bodies (Boards of Supervisors and City Council) that hold ultimate responsibility for allocating taxpayer money.
Okay, ol’ Robbo is throwing a flag on that statement. Unsportsmanlike conduct: Unnecessarily hyperbolic metaphor. Fifteen yard penalty and loss of down.
Well, that’s it for now. Ol’ Robbo is off to scan the headlines before getting about his biznay. What fresh hell awaits us today?
Greetings, my fellow port swillers, from the heart of the latest SOTCOTW to strike the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor! If you like, you may imagine me, Jim Cantore-like, grimacing and sticking my chin and chest out in defiance of teh elements. I’ve not yet gone outside, so I can’t tell you anything for sure about totals, but it’s been coming down pretty steadily all day and I’d say we’re well over 6 inches.
As a matter of fact, the Family Robbo is just done with a late brunch of scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns and I’ve toddled down to the study to check the radar and see how long it is before I have to go out and start shoveling. At the moment (about ten till one), it looks as if we’re into an especially heavy band that ought to go on for another hour or two, but that it will all clear out afterwards. Needless to say, a topic of intense speculation at brunch was whether tomorrow is going to be another snow day.
Anyhoo, in the meantime I guess I will go back to my reading, which is what I’ve been about most of the morning. I’m revisiting Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe’s Rifles – the first of the Richard Sharpe series – and shuddering at it again. Cornwall, like Tom Clancy, is capable of excellent descriptions of combat, and indeed, some of his tactical portrayals are truly worthy of praise. But like Clancy, when it comes to character, dialogue and descriptive narrative, he’s bloody awful. Still, it’s dumb fun, which is exactly the sort of no-brainer stuff I want today.
POST-SHOVEL UPDATE: Seven or eight inches, I guess, with a lovely crust of ice underneath. Took me about three hours to clear, but it was light enough so that I got a decent workout without killing myself. We’re nowhere near passing the freezing mark, so for all the scraping and salting, the roads are still kind of meh. One gel’s school system has already bailed for tomorrow. We’ll see about the other two.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy March!
Thanks to global warming (or sumpin’) the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor is enjoying this first day of meteorological spring by bracing itself for yet another snow storm that will hit tomorrow night.
Five Eight to twelve inches is the latest estimate I’ve heard, with a pretty good chance of significant icing. I know that doesn’t sound like much to those of you farther north, but it’s plenty to put us in full-blown panic mode. Once again, Mrs. R and I are making contingency plans to burn the furniture and eat the children if necessary.
Speaking of children and the snow, I’m sure all of you have heard of the custom of wearing jammies inside out in order to encourage snow fall. Well, a fellah told me about another one recently, that of flushing ice down the toilet. Have any of you ever heard of that? I hadn’t.
One of my habits (and ol’ Robbo has habits the way beaches have grains of sand) is to fill the bird feeders on Saturday mornings. They’re generally cleaned out by mid-week so stand empty for a few days, and yet the birds are right back into them within 10 or 15 minutes of my refilling. I got wondering about this today. Is it possible that the locals have some sort of instinctual sense of the timing of my fill ups? Do they spot me at it and know what I’m doing? Do they recognize the visible difference?
Mrs. R and I are going out to dinner with some friends this evening and I’m sure, as is their wont, they’re going to bring up one or more politickal topics. Sigh. The biggest frustration is that these folks get their nooz from the MSM, and to even begin a discussion of the actual merits of a given issue, I have to do all kinds of heavy lifting to disabuse them of the propaganda that has informed their views. So tarsome.
Well, that’s about it for the moment. Ol’ Robbo finally came out and admitted to himself this morning that yes, he has a sinus infection. It’s been a long while since the last one and I forgot how much they hurt. Ouch.
UPDATE: Yay, no politicking at dinner after all. Might have something to do with my saying the last time we got together that I thought “income inequality” was a bogus issue based on false economic premises ginned up for no other reason than to inflame class warfare. Thought the fellah’s head was going to explode.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
You may call ol’ Robbo “old school” – I’m sure you already call me much worse – but I for one prefer the celebration of Washington’s birthday to this generic chief executive tribute stuff. Old George surely merits his country’s eternal memory and thanks. Fellahs like Buchanan, Johnson, Wilson, Carter and, ah, others we need not name? Not so much. So for me, today really isn’t much other than a day off work.
♦ Robbo spent most of yesterday afternoon in his favorite chair overlooking the bird feeders, reading his Parkman and staring out the window from time to time. In the course of a couple hours, two different hawks blitzed the feeders. The youngest gel and I identified one of them as a Cooper’s Hawk. The other was immature. As I discovered from my Peterson’s Field Guide (always at hand), almost all immature hawks look exactly like each other. The only way to even guess at the subspecies is by the bird’s size. This one was pretty durn big.
Neither one was successful, by the way. The immature bird in particular spent several minutes perched on the roof of the porch looking extremely indignant.
♦ Speaking of which, I may have mentioned before the youngest’s interest in ornithology? She loves to show off her knowledge about comparative features – crests and caps, rounded vs. squared tails and the like. She recently asked me what schools had good ornithology programs.
“Well, there’s Cornell,” I said.
“Where’s that?” she asked.
“Upstate New York. It gets very, very cold.”
“Ummmm, I don’t think I’d like that. Anywhere else?”
Beats me. I suppose I ought to look into it.
♦ Another dose of snow/sleet is on the way tonight and tomorrow morning, although it looks like it’s just going to be a nuisance this time around. Then the temperatures are supposed to get up into the 60′s by the end of the week. I may say that I’ve had plenty of wintah, thank you very much. Moar warm, please!
I say this now so that, when I am being slowly parboiled over the summah and complaining bitterly about it, I can dig up this post and remind myself of what I will be missing.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Yet another round of snow this morning in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. Fortunately, the temperature is well above freezing so it doesn’t look like more shoveling the driveway for ol’ Robbo. Still, I think the ref ought to throw the flag on Snow Miser for taunting.
Still in my “hoping for spring” mood referenced in the post below, I am half inclined today to shovel out a path to the grill so I can do up some steaks for dins this evening. You know, “snap my fingers at the foeman’s taunts” as Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, would say.
We shall see. I have to replace the flow valve of the downstairs loo first, always a fun job. I’ll decide whether to take on the extra work once that’s done.
And speaking of the loo, I discovered this week that my children, on whose collective education we have already expended lavish sums of money, appear to be illiterate. You see, when the old flow valve gave up the ghost, I shut off the water line and put a very large note on the lid reading, “DO NOT USE!”
I need hardly tell you the sequel.
UPDATE: Decided to go for it. I suddenly developed an overwhelming craving for bratwurst and you really can’t cook those any other way than on the grill.
Georg Phillip Telemann’s violin concerto in A Major “Die Reline” (“The Frogs”).
Ol’ Robbo spent several hours this morning hacking away at the layer of ice that Storm Snochi left on his driveway as a parting gift before heading on up the seaboard. I’m not sure which is worse, the strained back and calves from shoveling off her initial foot+ deposit or the blisters from clearing away her follow-up present.
However, it was really rayther a nice day in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, with an absolutely brilliant blue sky and temperatures in teh 40′s. And as I chipped away, the smell of the sun on the melting ice gave me renewed hope to believe that spring is not that far away.
Which brought me further to think about the fact that during the spring and summah around here, after a rainfall the woods behind Port Swiller Manor are often full of the sound of frogs singing away, a sound that I always love to hear.
Which made me think of Telemann’s little exercise in tone-painting.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, it’s difficult to tell for sure because of drifting and compacting, but I would guess somewhere around 7 or 8 inches of snow fell overnight around Port Swiller Manor, a respectable amount and certainly the most we’ve had in the last three years but not quite name-worthy in my opinion. We seem to be in something of a dry slot this morning (around 9 a.m.), but the weather-wallahs promise some more of the stuff during the day. We’ll see.
For the moment, I think I’ll hold off shoveling the driveway. On the other hand, I’d better go out and fill up the bird feeders. As I type, I can see all the widdle birdies eyeing me reproachfully whilst sucking in their cheeks.
Speaking of which, do you know what I hate? Our eldest cat spent about two hours this morning nagging me to get out of bed and feed her – sitting on my chest, stropping her claws, meowing – finally when I did, she took one nibble of the stuff and ran off.
It has nothing to do with food and everything to do with control.
Ah, well, never mind. Coffee is brewed, so at least there’s that.
UPDATE: Well, it appears that the weather wallahs have decided to christen the storm after all. They’re calling this one “Snochi”. Eh, heh, I guess.
UPDATE DEUX: Well, my indoor eye-balling this morning was not all that accurate. We actually got something around a foot. The driveway was a solid 15 to 18 inches deep, with more scooped up against the garage door and, of course, where the plows dumped it at the road. Took me about three hours this afternoon to shovel it all out. I find I’m not quite such a young man as I was the last time I had to move this much snow.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Regular friends of the decanter may recall that this past summah’s posting here was dominated largely by ol’ Robbo’s experiences in dealing with the addition of a new covered porch to Port Swiller Manor. One of the things I wasn’t able to do was to post pictures of said porch in order to illustrate what I was on about, despite the requests of a few of you.
Well, it just so happened that today Mrs. R spotted a couple shots of the work posted on Facebook by the builders in an attempt to drum up more biznay. (We had said they were welcomed to do so.) Therefore, in order to satisfy the curiosity of those friends of teh decanter who had previously requested that I do so, and more particularly to show teh Mothe (who has not visited recently), I post said pics for your consideration. (These were snapped just after construction was completed. Since then, the grass has mostly grown back in the spots covered with hay.)
Teh first is the long view from the north (clicky for enlargenment):
The second is from the reverse angle, taking in the new patio as well:
Alas, I don’t have any “before” pics on file. So you’ll have to take my word for how delighted we have been with the upgrade. Indeed, we have found so far that said porch is a natural point of gravitation in all but the most extreme of weathers. (We have since put a free-standing fire pit on the patio, where we had hoped to do s’mores this weekend as part of teh youngest’s birthday sleep-over. Alas, I fear it’s going to be too damn cold.)
The next phase is to do some landscaping in order to hide the boney knees of the support pillars. One part of me leans toward putting a shrubbery all the way around. (“NI!”) The other part suggests some trellises against which to plant some jasmine or honeysuckle, leaving a couple of arched entrances to the space underneath. Frankly, I’m leaning toward the latter idea.
Also, I’ve hung up a feeder full of nyger seed for the goldfinches on the stair landing, and another full of regular seed outside the door at the top, which you can kinda see if you embiggen the pic. You can’t see it from this angle because of the camilla, but Robbo’s library window is directly to the left and Robbo’s favorite comfy chair is just inside teh window. I love to sit there and watch teh birds.
Well, there you have it.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, it looks like the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor may get its first serious snowfall in three years today. They’ve been bumping up the anticipated totals steadily since yesterday afternoon and are now forecasting anything between 5 and 10 inches.
This storm seems to have caught the wonks on the hop, because prior to yesterday morning nobody was saying anything about snow.
We don’t generally get much out of clippah systems around here, but this one seems to have spawned a secondary low off the coast. And as I was telling teh Mothe just the other day, those are your big-time white stuff machines in these parts, mistah.
The radar currently (as of about 8:45 a.m.) has the stuff still out in the Shenandoah, but it looks like its headed this way. True to form, everyone has preemptively closed down, so ol’ Robbo and family will probably spend the day in their pajamas. (Hmmm….”pajama-blogging”. That has a certain ring to it.)
Given the timing of the snow – anticipated to be heaviest this afternoon and evening – I’ll bet everything’s shut down tomorrow, too. Who knows – by that point we might be down to outright cannibalism in order to survive.
One thing I’ll have to think about is a possible name if it gets serious enough. I know TWC has already dubbed this storm Judy or something like, but that doesn’t count. We have our own special naming tradition in these parts. The gigantic blizzard we had about four years ago was dubbed “Snowpocalypse” and the next one after it “Snowmaggedon”. Then we had a couple of outright duds that got branded “Nopocalypse” and “Snowquester”.
Anyhoo, I may add liveblog updates, assuming I have anything useful to say and the power doesn’t go out – both rayther poor assumptions, btw – so be sure to check back.
UPDATE: Snow started just after nine and the ground is already covered. They’s still expecting the worst this afternoon and evening. I pity anyone trying to make their way home then. Okay, so I fibbed about the peejay thing. I can’t stand staying in my peejs once I’m up – either it’s directly throwing on clothes to go work in the yard or else hitting the shower.
UPDATE DEUX (2:05 PM): Looks like the heavier stuff is starting to kick in as advertised. I hope that the power doesn’t go out. Well, actually, I expect the power will go out. What I hope is that the outage doesn’t last long enough to start Mrs. R agitating to go check into a hotel room. This sort of thing has happened before, both in frigid cold and blazing heat. My philosophy is that we should simply hunker down and tough it out as best we can. Mrs. R does not see things in the same way.
UPDATE TROIS (5:00 PM): Well, despite the continued parade of plows up and down the street, the Port Swiller mailbox, a traditional target, remains standing. No doubt they’ll wait until after dark before attacking.
I hope all of you are keeping warm this bitter day. It’s in the mid-teens here at the moment, and the wind is whipping through like a sumbitch.
Ol’ Robbo just got done dealing with the driveway at Port Swiller Manor. We only picked up maybe two or three inches of snow here, but we also got a layer of ice underneath it. In my experience, there are few things more aggravating to deal with than ice under snow.