Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama for winning this year’s Masters Tournament.

I have no idea who he is.

In fact, scanning the final results, I have no idea who the vast majority of the players are. Phil Mickelson, Freddy Couples, maybe one or two others. That’s about it.

I used to watch professional golf quite a bit back in the day, but it’s an immensely time-consuming practice and, well, my time hasn’t really been that much my own for some years now. Hopefully somewhere in the not so distant future I will again have the opportunity to spend a long, lazy afternoon watching a tournament.

Or play myself. One of my retirement goals has always been to pick the game back up. I smacked a ball around the course a bit in my yoot but it must be fifteen years anyway since the last time I picked up a club.

UPDATE: Golly, this post went over like a lead balloon!

I suppose it’s just proof that, unless you have some connection with the game yourself, watching pro golf on the teevee is excruciatingly dull.

I’m the same way with tennis. I don’t play, so have no interest whatever in catching any of the tournaments. Mrs. R, on the other hand, who has been a keen player all her life, gobbles them up.

Eh.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor has now O-fficially reached that lovely point of springtime in which Ma Nature becomes schizophrenic. We had snow flurries a week ago, after which the temperature cranked right up. Yesterday we had our first legitimate thunderstorm of the season. Then this morning we had the following conversation:

Mrs. R: “I’m soooooo cold! Did you turn off the heat? Why did you turn off the heat?”

Self: “Because you people were griping just a couple days ago about how hot the house was, that’s why.”

You can’t win. You really can’t.

Anyhoo, I really ought to be out cutting the grass for the first time this year except, for one thing, it’s rayther too wet, and for another, I’m stuck inside doing work-work. I recently was informed by the Experts that my penchant for buzz-cutting the grass is a Bad Thing and I should leave it at least three inches tall. So I’m going to try that and see what happens. Perhaps I’ll get a chance at it later this afternoon.

While it’s no fun being stuck proofreading a brief on Saturday morning, I did at least get to see a fox up close and personal from my desk. She was no more than 25 feet from my window, slowly hunting along in front of our holly hedge. Beautiful creature.

So I got that going for me anyway.

UPDATE: Whelp, Ol’ Robbo was stuck at his desk until well into the afternoon. Have I ever mentioned here how much I hate Bluebooking? Because I really hate Bluebooking. I get the need for a uniform system of citation and all, but I’ve never made an absolute fetish of it like those gringy little nerds who like to point out in superior, pitying voices that you need to put one more space between those ellipses….. Feh. I got yer space right ‘cheer, buddy.

But I digress from my main point, which is that after I finished and ran out to pick up my cleaning and stop by church to put in a little time in the box, I came home and pulled out the ol’ mower. I’m happy to report that despite my minimal, even non-existent winter maintenance efforts, she fired right up on the very first pull. That’s always a good sign.

Like our pal Beth mentions in the comments, today was really only an exercise in leveling out the overachieving clumps, but it was nice to be at it again.

I was also reminded that I need to get on the stick and fix my weedwhacker some time very soon. The end of the fuel line has a chronic tendency to pop out of the gas tank. It’s situated in an awkward part of the engine, but with a pair of needle-nose pliers and some patience I can jam it back through the hole. The problem is getting it to stay. I’ve tried everything from epoxy to duct tape, but it still eventually springs free again. This happened right at the end of the season last year and I just said the hell with it and put the thing away. Time to face up to it now, I suppose. That fence isn’t going to edge itself.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo attended his “virtual” law school 30th (!) class reunion last evening. As cynical and dismissive as I normally am about on-line “events”, and after a preliminary scuffle trying to get my mic to work, I found that I genuinely enjoyed myself. About 28 former classmates turned up (roughly 25% of the class), almost none of whom I’d seen since graduation. It didn’t take long to generate an atmosphere very much like what it was back in the day. (We were a very close-knit, hard-partying group then.) Good times.

One paradox that imposed itself: On the one hand, when the host put up a copy of our first year face book, my immediate reaction was, “Who the heck are all these children?” On the other, looking at them thirty years on, my thought was, “I dunno what happened to all these people, but I look the same as I did the day I graduated, right? RIGHT??

There are preliminary plans to do a genuine in-person reunion in August, assuming house arrest is finally lifted. (A big assumption, IMHO.) After seeing the folks last evening, I definitely plan on going.

UPDATE: Yes, Ol’ Robbo is aware of today’s nooz of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, but I put together this post this morning before I heard about it and I’ve been too goshdarn busy today to attend to my acknowledgement.

Requiescat in pace.

Prince Phillip was one of the Good’uns. Our Maximum Leader has a very fitting little tribute which lays out just why.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those of you keeping track (Hi, Bob from NSA!), the younger gels made it safe and sound back to their respective campuses.

It was lovely having all the gels home for Easter but now Ol’ Robbo finds himself with a problem: For reasons of their own, the younger gels decided to stock up on adult beverages while they were here. And because, for all their eagerness to display their adult creds, they are still basically flyweights (thank Heaven), Ol’ Robbo is now saddled with a fridge clogged with stuff he normally wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

Seagrams’ spritzers? Smirnoff Ice? A half bottle of rose-aye? (Not to mention the peppermint schnapps lurking on the drinks tray in the dining room.)

**Shudder**

Part of me says chuck it, chuck it all: It takes up valuable space and is an abomination in itself. But another part of me says awful as it is, you never know when you might be caught short, so maybe just let it ride.

What to do? My father’s side were dour Scots Presbyterians. My mother’s side were livelier Catholics from Bohemia and the Sudetenland. In chewing on this problem, I find that the two sides in me are not only at war with each other, they’re at war with themselves, too.

** Did you see what I did there?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers! (Those of you who get the “Hee-Haw” riff in the title may give yourselves a star.)

Ol’ Robbo is very pleased to report that his Easter Dins turned out absolutely fabulous.

I don’t do this to toot my own horn. I’m still a rank amateur with a very modest range, but I’ve discovered a real delight in cooking. Part of it is simply being able to eat tasty meals. Part of it is the reward of seeing others really enjoy my efforts: (All the gels were home, and we were joined by Middle Gel’s Young Man. (More on that later.) They all pitched in with a whoop and a holler and there were very, very few leftovers.) Part of it is the pure logistical challenge of working out multiple dishes in very modest facilities. (Consider yourselves lucky, by the bye, because Ol’ Robbo wrote and deleted here a long rant about the phoniness of Dream Kitchens and the Beautiful People who own them.)

Anyhoo, because I’m a giver, allow me to cut right to the chase and offer up the recipes. (I apologize in advance if this post goes a bit long but WordPress, in its infinite wisdom, seems to have eliminated the “below-the-fold” feature.)

Cracked Pepper and Herb Rack of Lamb

Ingredients: 1 frenched rack of lamb; 2 TBSP cracked black pepper (more to taste); 2 TBSP chopped rosemary; 1 TSP kosher salt (more to taste); 3 TBSP olive oil; 1 TBSP minced garlic. (I doubled the recipe without a problem.)

Cooking: Blend pepper, salt, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Rub lamb thoroughly on both sides. Place in plastic bag or other container and let marinade. (Overnight in fridge is best). Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Set pan on stove-top at medium heat. Place lamb in pan, fat side down, and sear for 3 to 5 minutes. Flip lamb over and place pan in oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes. (This seemed a bit long to me, but believe it. I took mine out after 20 minutes and it was very rare inside.)

Marinated White Beans

Ingredients: 1/3 cup olive oil; zest of one lemon; juice of one lemon; 1 medium shallot, diced; 1 clove garlic, grated or minced; 1/2 TSP kosher salt; freshly-ground black pepper to taste; 2 15-ounce cans of canellini beans; 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley; 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano.

Cooking: (Do this the day before.) Thoroughly rinse beans and give them a good shake to remove water. Combine olive oil, lemon zest and juice, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper, whisk together. Add beans, parsley, and oregano. Mix thoroughly. Store overnight in fridge, allow to come to room temperature before serving.

“Portuguese” Mint Rice

Ingredients: 4 cups water; 1 TBSP butter; 1 TSP kosher salt; 1 cup long-grain white rice; 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves. (I did 1 1/2 the recipe without a problem.)

Cooking: Bring water, butter, and salt to boil in large saucepan. Add rice and cook uncovered at high boil for 7 minutes. Stir in mint and boil for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let steam for 3 minutes. It’ll come out mushier than the usual 20-minute simmered rice but don’t let that worry you. It’s wonderfully refreshing.

Standard Popovers

Ingredients: 1 cup flour; 1 cup milk; 3 eggs; 1 TBSP butter (melted); white pepper and salt to taste.

Cooking: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine ingredients in bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into Pam’d or greased muffin tins, about 3/4 full in each cup. (The recipe makes 8 popovers.) Place in oven and cook at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook another 15 minutes. Don’t peak. You can do this first if you need the oven for other things and either place them on a warming rack or even serve at room temperature.

Steamed Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients: I bunch asparagus with woody bottoms trimmed off; 3 egg yolks; 1/4 cup of water; 2 TBSP lemon juice; 1 stick of butter in 8 pieces.

Cooking: Asparagus (do this last): Dampen four sheets of paper towel, squeeze out excess water, place in stack. Place asparagus in flat line on stacked paper towel. Sprinkle with salt. Roll paper towel over on itself with asparagus inside. Place in microwave and zap for 3 minutes. Sauce: Separate out yolks by slurping back and forth between eggshell halves until whites have dropped off. Whisk yolks, water, and lemon juice in small sauce pan until blended. Cook over low heat until it bubbles at the edges. Stir in pieces of butter one at a time until melted and sauce thickens. Add salt, pepper if you like. Serve immediately. (I’ve made this many times and it usually works out fine. I tried to double the recipe here and for some reason it never thickened up but remained soupy. Dunno why. It tasted fine but tended to run all over things.)

So there you have it, a menu full of easy-to-prepare but delicious dishes. And if you’re concerned about horses and barn doors, just remember that Easter is not a single day, but an Octave. Every day this week is Easter Day, so if you want to tie this meal to the holiday and don’t want to wait until next year you’ve still got plenty of opportunities now to try it out. Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Easter!

Ol’ Robbo has much about which to chat after his recent absence, most of it quite good and I’m still not sure whether to bore you with the stickier bits, but the Easter Dinner dishes are calling his name.

So I will save it all for upcoming posts and in the meantime simply restate: Happy and Blessed Easter to each and every one of you friends of the decanter! Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ugh. Ol’ Robbo suddenly found himself grieving over his parents this morning. After I had got through last Christmas in good spirits, I had hoped that I was over the return of the blue devils at holiday time. I guess not. (The 14th anniversary of the Old Gentleman’s handing in his dinner pail was last week, so perhaps that proximity had something to do with it, too.)

Anyhow, the option of dialing into Mass online actually proved something of a blessing today. If I don’t shake this mood, I might have to employ it the rest of the week as well.

In the meantime, I will be signing off here until after Easter Sunday. May all of you have a blessed Holy Week and I’ll see you on the other side.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A really beautiful spring day here at Port Swiller Manor – sunny and warm with a brisk wind from the southwest – had Ol’ Robbo hurrying about the place this morning to open up all the windows and hopefully dispel some of the fug built up over the winter months. (I am going to have an enormously tedious task of taking down and cleaning all the screens this year but that can wait until after the pollen is done.)

I’m also wearing shorts for the first time this year and am happy to report that they fit just as well as they did last fall and, in fact, may even be a bit looser. (Ol’ Robbo confesses to having fallen off the exercise routine over the past week or two but I’ve generally been a good boy and I like to think my efforts are being rewarded.)

Indeed, it’s so nice out that I am definitely going to put the top down on La Wrangler when I go run errands later on.

Yes, this may be a very boring post but Ol’ Robbo loves him these days when everything is fresh and clean and coming back to life.

And Not A Moment Too Soon UPDATE: This is the first time I’ve had the ol’ laptop out in the sunlight for quite a while and I must say I’m a bit staggered at how much dust and pollen has built up on the thing without my noticing. Yikes.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Reason # Eleventy-billion why Ol’ Robbo believes his presence in this day and age is some kind of cosmic slip-up.

The FedEx package to which I refer in the post below was a new laptop sent to me from the employment hive. (They claim my old one was “at its end of life” and needed replacing. Seemed perfectly okay to me but what do I know.)

Anyhoo, I duly plugged the thing in and connected all the external bits……..and then spent forty-five minutes unsuccessfully trying to access my work system. I unplugged and replugged. I restarted and rebooted. I checked on my work phone to see if maybe the system had coincidentally crashed while I was setting up.

And I was thiiiiiiiis close to breaking down and calling the Help Desk for assistance when a still, small voice in the back of my head said, “You know, you have to dial this thing into the Port Swiller Manor wifi first.”

I’m very glad I didn’t call the Help Desk after all. They’re pretty patient as a rule but I’m pretty sure they would have laughed at me for that one. (Eldest Gel certainly did when I told her about it.)

D’oh!

Incidentally, WordPress seems to be tinkering with their dashboard set-up once again (for the worse, I might add). They’re now inviting me to Get MOAR Traffic by setting up a podcast. No, thankee. Ol’ Robbo may have a face for radio, but he has a voice strictly for print.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had a delivery this morning, a package he had to sign for, and get this: The FedEx guy….wasn’t wearing a mask!

This area is heavily Karened. The number of people I see masked up while driving alone with their windows rolled up, for example, is mind-boggling. If and when Kommissar Northham ever lifts the mandate, I’m sure a large proportion of folks will go right on wearing their face-diapers. Just because.

Drives Ol’ Robbo absolutely bonkers. (I saw a meme the other day, a photo of a pair of masks lying on the ground. It was captioned “Sheep Droppings”. I larfed.)

So it was delightfully refreshing to see this fellah’s mug unswathed. I very much hope it’s a sign of things to come.

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