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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, another Saturday dawns at Port Swiller Manor and finds Robbo staring at the radar and wondering whether he has time to spritz the weeds with Round-Up before the thunderstorms move in. Probably not. At least I got the grass cut last evening, so that’s something.
♦ I mentioned the Gels of MASN in the post immediately below. Now I will tell you something about my own gel of summah. The eleven year old has inserted herself in a rotation of two or three regulars playing catcher for her softball team this season. T’other evening I was watching her in action behind the plate when it suddenly occurred to me why she enjoys the position so much: It’s a spotlight. The catchers are constantly complimented by coaches and crowds for their handing of what can be quite eccentric pitching at this level. There’s also great satisfaction in staring down a runner at third who’s thinking of stealing. However, she especially loves dramatically sweeping off her face-mask when pursuing a pop foul. What a ham. (To her credit, she is good at it, too.)
♦ Speaking of ball clubs, ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats find themselves on a little five-game winning streak and look to be settling back into their true form. My blood pressure has dropped several points over the past week or so as a result. Go, NATS!!
♦ I look with horror and revulsion at the information coming to light about what happened in Libya. (Well, not just that, of course.) But I am all the more horrified by my feeling that nothing will really come of it. Why? Because if you ask the opinion of the average low-information voter, you’re likely to get the answer,”Ben Ghazi? Who? Isn’t he that NFL player who just came out? Or is he the one dating a Kardashian?”
♦ Speaking of such things, I don’t usually read much political or social science, but by happenstance two new books have seized the Robbo attention. The first is Roger Kimball’s The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia. Jay Nordlinger has been quoting and reviewing the book extensively over at NRO, and much of what he cites goes right to ol’ Robbo’s heart. The other book, by another NRO writer, is Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure. I believe that I’ve written here before of my belief that we, as a nation, are hurtling toward catastrophe. But I also said that, however hard it’s going to be, there isn’t reason just yet to save that last round for yourself. Williamson’s theme, from the blurbs and interviews I’ve seen, appears to follow this same line. Anyway, I like his writing style. (UPDATE: Here is The Czar’s review. Makes me all the more eager to dive in.)
I’ll let you know what I think.
♦ Some might suggest that ol’ Robbo spend his valuable reading time not with works that reenforce his own world view but with those that challenge it. To them, I respectfully reply: Get stuffed. Through some horrid process of social evolution, I seem to have become a bona fide member of the counterculture. I look out from the redoubt and see the “challenge” swirling around it continually. No need to unlock the gate and let them in.
♦ Oh, since I am posting so sparsely these days, let me get this out of the way: Happy Mother’s Day.
♦ Tomorrow is also Ascension Sunday. Or, as Father Z rants about it, Ascension Thursday Sunday. Go on over and enjoy if you like this sort of thing (which I do).
♦ Speaking of rants, alert friends of the decanter may have noticed the absence here of complaints about tourons, a subject which in past years has consumed so much of Robbo’s thought. This is simply due to teh fact that I have been driving into work since last August instead of taking the metro, so just don’t have that much personal contact with them anymore. However, this change in commuting practice has not done away with the touron menace so much as transformed it into another shape. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded tour busses. As the weather warms, these behemoths are starting to seriously jam up my afternoon drive. (And when it takes me an hour to go ten city blocks, I have every right to be cranky about it.) As a rule, I try to be a courteous driver – giving people room to merge in, for instance; stopping to let somebody pull out of a driveway. Not so with these busses, from which I use every method, legal or otherwise, to dodge, cut off or otherwise distance myself. Grrrrrrr…….
♦ And may I just remark here (perhaps again) on what a wonderful city car the Jeep Wrangler really is? Its small size, quick pickup and sweet maneuverability make it ideal for nipping in and out of traffic.
Well, I glance out the window and here’s the rain. Too bad. Everything was probably too wet to begin with anyway.
UPDATE: In re the low-information voter above, I should have noted that their next sentence would have been, “Hey, when do I get all my free shite?” ”Low-information voter” is one way to describe them, but I think “Bread-and-Circuses voter” is even more apt.
Greetings my fellow port swillers!
Well, I think there can be no doubt that Spring has finally got her act together and begun operations in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. There’s greenage on the trees, the bleeding heart in the front bed is in bloom and the windows are wide open. Also, today was the first day that ol’ Robbo had to pull out his mower and weed-whacker. Always a nice thing when they start right up after sitting idle in the garage all winter. (I would mention that I also put the hammock out today, but since I seem never actually to get the chance to use the durn thing, this is an annual milestone of much less actual importance.)
Of course, this being Spring means that the weather has turned schizophrenic, with temperatures yo-yoing all over the place and extremely fast-changing conditions. Indeed, Friday morning we had our first thunderstorm of the year. The middle gel and self were sitting in the ol’ Wrangler down to school, waiting for it to be time for her to go in for choir practice, when suddenly a bolt of lightning hit one of the towers above us. Scared the bejaysus out of both of us, I assure you.
This morning saw the annual parade and opening ceremonies of our local Little League. The opening pitches were thrown out this year by none other than Robbo’s beloved Nats’ right-fielder, Jayson Werth. (He and 1st baseman Adam LaRoche both have kids in the program.) For all his alleged ball-handling prowess, Werth managed to put two out of the three pitches into the dirt.
At any rate, as the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung at the ballpark, I found myself musing sadly. It seems that every day the headlines become more and more horrible, filled with bread and circuses, bald-faced lies and behind-the-scenes Orwellian power-grabbing. There can be little question that we are and have been on social and economic paths that are simply unsustainable. (Of course, we’ve done this to ourselves through softness and lack of vigilance and our failure to drown all the Baby-Boomers in buckets at birth, and a lot of people still somehow don’t seem to understand how deep the trouble is that we’re in.) But now, I think, we’ve finally reached the point where it’s all coming to a head one way or the other.
Personally, I don’t believe that the country is actually doomed. What I think is going to happen is that those trying to finish up installing the Brave New World are going to overreach in a way that finally makes the citizenry wake up. (No, strike that. I actually think they already have. Now we’re just waiting for the math to catch up.) It’ll make ‘em wake up because it’ll hurt like hell. Collapse of the dollar? Food shortages? Riots a la Cyprus? Persecutions and scape-goatings? Oh, you betcha.
But you see, I also think there is something that sets up apart from late-Republican Rome or Paris in the Terror or early 20th Century Russia or Germany or, for that matter, Modern Europe. I think that although, as I say, we’ve got lazy and complacent, there is still a seed of autonomy and self-reliance in our national character. When push comes to shove, I think, I think, that we will remember what we’re made of. (You see that, for instance, in the public resistance against draconian gun-control. And the Tea Party.) It’ll be ugly, to be sure, but I believe that in the end we will come out intact on the other side, without either Caesar or Big Brother and hopefully wiser and stronger for the experience. (Do you know that I actually had a conversation with the Mothe a week or two ago about what the military would be likely to do in the event they were ordered to turn on trouble-making citizens? And that it was a conversation in earnest? We agree, by the bye, that it is extremely unlikely they ‘d cooperate in any such strong-arm tactics.) At least, that’s my hope and I’m sticking to it.
But as I say, I am saddened by all this. Not so much for myself, but for my children. I’m betting that the Crisis hits in the next five to ten years, right in the midst of their young adulthoods. I figure that I can face whatever comes with a kind of resigned stoicism and a sense that if I get caught in the crossfire, at least I’ve already had my turn. But it pains me to think about what they’ll have to go through when their world is turned upside down.
Ah, well. Better go jump in that hammock while I’ve still got the chance…..
Well, after my mini-hiatus (assuming it’s over) and the condolence/reminiscence post below that more or less wrote itself, I thought I’d try dipping the port swiller toe back in the water with a little bit of randomness. Here goes:
♦ After a very late dose of cold, Spring has finally and truly come to the environs of Port Swiller Manor. Today was the first day of the year that I took the top off the ol’ Wrangler. Spring and fall are, of course, the optimal times for this, the days of High Summah being too darn hot to lose all that valuable shade.
♦ I’ve decided that when we get our next cats, one of them is definitely going to be named Mr. Joyboy. There are few names in liddershur that make me snigger quite so much. Now all I need is a suitable companion name, since we’re probably going to wind up getting a couple. The leading candidate at the moment is Tobermory, although I fear that might be too phonetically similar and cause some feline confusion.
♦ We had a bit of a medical scare over the weekend at Port Swiller Manor that involved Mrs. R having to rush to the hospital for emergency surgery. All is well now and she is resting, but your humble host is in the doghouse just a bit for having dismissed the preliminary symptoms as nothing more than “too much Chipoltle”.
♦ Whoever it was who recommended to ol’ Robbo http://www.freetaxusa.com last year, thanks again. After my second year with it, I have to confess that it is superior to my flailing about with pencil, calculator and foolscap.
♦ Well, so much for Robbo’s beloved Nats going 162-0 this year, which is what I think we fans were secretly hoping/expecting.
♦ On the other hand, the youngest gel’s team is 2-0 after this past weekend’s battles. So we’ve got that going for us.
Enough to start?
Well, Spring is kinda, sorta, almost in the air and you know what that means…Yes, that softball season is upon us once again.
Friday afternoon saw teh first practice of the eldest gel’s 13-16 y.o. “senior” squad, a level devoted to getting girls ready to try out for high school ball. The gel had not picked up a ball in a couple years and I confess that I was a leetle apprehensive about what might happen. Would she still remember anything? Would she be afraid of the ball?
Well, from the preliminaries, it doesn’t look like I had much to worry about. The gel has always had a strong arm and a good eye, and from watching the other girls slantendicular, it rapidly became clear that her skill set was at least within visiting distance of most of those who had stuck with the league program. If she puts her back into it, I think she’ll do just fine.
Of course, because I was one of only two dads who stuck around for the whole practice, I was immediately drafted as an assistant coach. (Oddly, or perhaps not, three of the other girls on the squad had been on teams I coached in past years, so there was a kind of mini old-home week for Self and the eldest.)
The youngest gel is playing AAA ball again this year. Her practices started last weekend, but today was a skills clinic down at the fields. I must say again that there is just something about hanging around at the ballpark that I absolutely love – the sights, the sounds, the feel of the place.
But of course, because I was standing about soaking it all in, I quickly got drafted into helping with that, running one of the clinic stations.
Between the fly balls I was lobbing for the eldest gel’s teammates yesterday and the throwing and grounders drills I was running today, my own poor arm is pretty durn tired tonight. (Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse – I doubt very much whether my insurance covers Tommy John surgery.)
Going forward, the youngest gel has fielding practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the eldest on Fridays. Both gels have batting practice on Sunday afternoons.* That’s before the actual games start at the beginning of next month. Guess where ol’ Robbo is going to be spending a lot of time.
As I say, though, I love it.
* In case you’re wondering, the middle gel is also playing softball this spring. But she’s taking it as a P.E. course at school, so I’m off the hook as far as coaching her goes.
UPDATE: Oh, what the heck…. It’s still a couple weeks until I traditionally run this clip in honor of Opening Day for the MLB, but whaddaya say we bend a bit this once….
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
The lovely and talented Diane posts today on the effects of the recent spring forward. (I can never remember which is Standard Time and which is Daylight Savings Time and, frankly, don’t give much of a damn.)
Curiously, the chronological shift seems to have had little effect on me personally, at least in terms of bodily cycles. I know that in past years I have staggered out of bed on that first Monday, broadly cursing the fact that it’s really just still Four Ack Emma. This year? I simply shrugged.
One effect: Over the past couple weeks, the Middle Gel and I have crossed over the Potomac River on the way to school just at sunrise or a little bit after, and have been treated to some lovely, lovely views of sky and water. (My policy is to always point these things out in order to instill in the gel a proper sense of perspective. I think it’s working.) Now we’re back to pre-dawn gloom, especially as every morning this week has been overcast.
Another, better, effect: Returning to Port Swiller Manor in the quiet evenfall while it’s still light out. Apart from the psychological boost, there is the very practical benefit that I am no longer trying to retrieve the mail in the dusk, inches away from some fairly heavy oncoming traffic.
Of course, all this (well, at least the morning thing) is only temporary, as the days continue to get longer. This was born in on me again this evening as I watched the Youngest Gel at softball practice. It was a chilly, wind-swept scene and all the players (except my lunatic daughter, of course, who sported only a t-shirt and shorts) were tightly bundled up. But long experience reminded me that in only a matter of weeks, on this very same practice field, these same gels will be griping about the heat, humidity and bugs.
Summer is a-cummin, indeed.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers! How about a bit of Primaveral anticipation?
♦ Ol’ Robbo had an oddish dream last night that Mrs. R, my brother and I were traveling to the lowlands southeast of Richmond to pick up some firewood. When we got there, the place was wall-to-wall in flowers – azaleas, zinnias, marigolds and the like. I remember exclaiming something like, “Down here, spring’s already arrived – won’t be long for us, now.”
♦ I suppose that thought was much on my mind because we awoke to a positively brilliant, sunny morning here at Port Swiller Manor, with temperatures this afternoon headed for the upper 50′s, and even perhaps a bit better tomorrow.
♦ As it happens, spring softball practice starts for the youngest gel today. We’re heading on over to the fields in a little bit to meet her new coach and teammates.
♦ And then there’s the garden. Some time this weekend or next, I need to get out and cut back Kong the Buddleia and all the Konglings. Also, I’m putting an arched trellis over one of the gates into the back yard. I’m considering two choices in planting it: The fence on that side already has a hedge of wisteria along most of its length and it might be nice to finish it off, as it were, over the gate. On the other hand, I’ve long had a hankering for some jasmine – there’s a cold-hearty variety now that would do well here, I think. Decisions, decisions.
♦ On at least one item I need not dither: Given the warmer weather and the fact that we get an extra hour of daylight tomorrow evening (don’t forget to change your clocks tonight), ol’ Robbo has a very powerful image of a nice, thick, grill-fired ribeye stuck in his brain. Indeed, it’s getting a bit difficult to type, what with all the drooling…..
In the shadow of other momentous headlines this morning, let us not forget that today is the day pitchers and catchers report. (Robbo’s beloved Nats actually kick off on Wednesday.)
Yes, the long, off-season drought is coming to an end.
Indeed, yesterday found Self and the youngest gel scrambling between church services to get over to the local gym, wherein were being held the annual spring softball tryouts for our local league. Despite the fact that, as happens every year, we failed to practice at all over the winter and were reduced to a last-second crash course of reviewing basic positions and technique in the basement Saturday evening, the gel did just fine throwing, catching, running and hitting.
The league is also offering a level of play for 13-16 y.o. girls this year, for which the eldest has signed up. She’s been out of the game for a few years but has shown some interest in trying out for her high school j.v. team. She reckons that she probably would not have made the cut this year owing to being so rusty, so thought it would be a good idea to play in this league for a season in order to get back up to speed.
The middle gel has also announced her intention to play softball at school this spring.
Ol’ Robbo’s going to be spending a lot of time hanging around various diamonds, most likely again in some sort of assistant coaching capacity. I can tell you even now that I’ll enjoy every minute of it. One of my proudest achievements as Dad has been to inculcate into all three gels a love of the game. Indeed, I’ve overheard all of them on more than one occasion telling friends with some heat that the reason the friends think baseball is boring is because they don’t understand it. Always brings a smile to the ol’ face.
Anyway, play ball!
Well, another week of the new fall work n’ school routine is wrapping up, and Robbo is looking forward to throttling back a bit with more than a little anticipation. The only things on his schedule for tomorrow so far (touching wood) are getting the oil changed in La Wrangler in the morning and helping to coach the youngest gel’s softball game mid-afternoon. I think I can manage that. Oh, and as the weather in the port-swilling neck of the woods promises to be absolutely formidable, I firmly intend to do things Saturday evening that involve charcoal and lots of good, thick slabs of meat.
I sometimes pause to ponder on the seemingly outsized sense of pleasure that can accompany the most minor of achievements. To wit: The sink in what I will call Mr. & Mrs. Robbo’s dressing room has for some time now been giving me headaches by repeatedly clogging. Every now and again I’ve poured a thingum of Drano down it which has provided some temporary relief, only to have it start filling up again a day or so later. I had toyed with calling out the plumber to deal with it, but had shied away because of the expense. Well, last evening I tried the Drano “Snake Plus Tool & Gel Drain Cleaning Kit” and it worked like a charm. A few minutes of (admittedly disgusting) digging around in the pipe, a half hour or so for the goop to do its stuff and hey, presto! I stood for a few minutes watching the water swirl down just for the pure pleasure of it.
I mention the school schedule. So far, it appears the eldest gel is adjusting quite well to high school, in fact quite a bit more smoothly than I had feared. She claims to love her teachers and is evidently becoming much more social than she has been in the past. And in addition to showing an interest in rowing crew, she’s now planning to audition for a part in whatever the upcoming fall theatrickal production is. Now if we can only get her to stop losing papers that her mother and I are supposed to sign, and to actually eat the lunch we pack for her, she should be good to go.
As for the middle gel, to the extent we can get her to show her cards at all, she’s still adjusting to not having any other family around and to a much more regimented (or, in her words, “boring”) schedule than she was used to at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. On the other hand, in addition to her very consuming choir commitments, I found her doing homework yesterday that isn’t due until next week, and she’s also talking about running for student government. Yeek.
Then there’s the youngest, who is essentially picking up right where she left off last spring, with the aforementioned softball and the resumption of twice-weekly winter swim training sessions. Two hours in the pool two evenings per week and she comes out of the water more energized than when she went in.
Add to that some doctor visits and the usual parental back to school night obligations, and you will see why I say I’m looking forward to the breather before going into the Sunday routine (which, involving obligations at two to three different churches throughout the day, is its own kettle of logistical fish).
Robbo’s weekend will really start this evening when he sits down to watch his beloved National start a very important road trip against the Braves of Atlanta. (The Nats’ magic number for eliminating the Braves is eleven at the moment. Do you know how wonderful it is for me to be able to use the words “Nationals” and “magic number” in a positive sentence?) Anyhoo, I note that both the Saturday and Sunday games are going to be nationally televised (by Fox and ESPN, respectively). This irks ol’ Robbo. I’m used to having our local guys Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo call the games. They’re the ones who travel with the team, who get to know the players and coaches, who act as the link between the club and their teevee fans. But when Fox picks up the game, we’re stuck with Joe Buck. Not that Buck isn’t a good sportscaster, but he’s not one of us. When I become Emperor of the World, I will decree that the national televising of ball games will not require the blacking out of the local network. Folks who want to turn to Fox or ESPN are welcome to do so, but I’m sticking with my guys.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, nothing starts the morning quite like discovering the eldest gel doubled over with abdominal pain in her bed.
Since she has nothing in particular to do and nowhere to be today, and since her agony seemed to be genuine, the needle on ol’ Dad’s malinger-o-meter remained flat and I quickly decided this one was worth a trip to the emergency room, visions of everything from food poisoning to appendicitis dancing in my head. She and the middle gel went with a yoot group down to King’s Dominion yesterday and spent the afternoon stuffing themselves with carny food and hurling themselves about the skies in teh broiling heat, and my keen, (CSI-free!) investigative sense immediately suggested that this was somewhere near the root of whatever ails her.
Well, Mrs. R and the gel are at the ER now, the latter with an IV in her arm and a scheduled sonogram. Apparently, the lead theory at the moment is kidney stone resulting from dehydration. Not life threatening, to be sure, but from all I’ve ever heard tell of kidneys stones, enough to make her wish she was dead.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
UPDATE: Well, the sonogram turned out negative and they’re going to go ahead and do a CT scan.
UPDATE DEUX: Well, the CT spotted the problem, which I will only describe as a ladies’ complaint. Nothing to be concerned about long-term, but the pain was quite legitimate.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
A thorough bucketing of overnight rain (with more coming down now) has put mowing the port swiller lawn entirely out of the question today, which means ol’ Robbo is (at the moment metaphorically and soon literally) putting his feet up.
♦ For the historickally-minded among friends of the decanter, I would note that today is the 151st anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run. As I sit typing at the kitchen table, I wonder idly whether I could have heard the cannon from this spot were I around back then. With the wind in the right direction, I’m guessing it’s at least possible.
♦ Today is the youngest gel’s final swim team A-meet for the season. I’ve noticed in the various sports in which the gels participate that the swim team, much more than others, captures parent “volunteers” on the janissary principal. Poor Mrs. R, in a moment of not paying sufficient attention, got nabbed and has been serving as the team’s official clerk of the meets. She tells me it’s a deadly dull task.
♦ The middle gel is supposed to go with a friend to see our beloved Nats take on the Braves tonight. I hope the park dries out in time. On the other hand, after watching the Nats blow a nine run (nine gorram run) lead last night and lose to Atlanta in extra innings, I’m thinking it might be good for them to get a day off in order to refocus.
♦ The elderly of our two cats is now loudly demanding pets. I’m afraid that, in addition to going blind and arthritic, the poor thing may be developing diabetes, as she seems to be losing weight and has been drinking noticeably more water lately. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, however.
♦ Turned in my leave request yesterday for the upcoming summah hols. Even after all these years, I still find myself feeling vaguely guilty about taking a vacation. Silly, but there it is.
♦ Now the younger cat is demanding attention. Or rayther, food. In this, she’s gotten what one might call Cartmanesque.