Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo being out of town for a few days, it falls upon your humble correspondent to take care of Decanter Dog. (I’m pretty much O.C. for the cats anyway, and what Gels are flitting in and out of Port Swiller Manor at the moment can take care of themselves.)

D-Dog is, and always has been, passionately attached to Mrs. R, and while she’s fond of everyone else in the household, Ol’ Robbo is a poor substitute for “Mommy”. As is her wont, the pooch went through about thirty-six hours of outright sulking when Mommy left, refusing to eat, refusing to be comforted (much), refusing to come upstairs at bedtime. Fortunately, she’s in a much better mood today.

One thing that had escaped my notice heretofore is how many different meds Mrs. R has the dog on. Liver, joints, bronchitis…you name it. Ol’ Robbo has a thing about over-medication (for both pets and people): My philosophy has always been not to take any more pills than the absolute bare minimum necessary. (Indeed, I’m in the process of trying to find a new doctor because my current one over-prescribes so much.) So, although elaborate instructions were left me, I’m being somewhat cavalier in my adherence to them. And I’ll be damned if I brush D-Dog’s teeth.

On a related note, I see where Trumpet the bloodhound won this year’s Westminster Dog Show, a first for the breed. Congratulations! This immediately made me think of Hubert, Christopher Guest’s also-ran bloodhound in “Best in Show“.** The movie is older than I realized now, but I’m sure Hubert is smiling down from Doggy-Heaven at this news.

**I own all of Guest’s “mock-umentaries”. I couldn’t tell you which is my favorite because I can never decide.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening Mrs. Robbo and I went out to dinner at a place in the local mall.

Long time friends of the decanter will know Ol’ Robbo’s opinion of malls already. For the rest of you, the short version is that I hate them. In this instance, however, I thought I’d be safe: we go in, we eat, we get out, nobody gets hurt.

To quote Diane Keaton aping Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski in “Sleeper”, “Ha! Ya got that? Ha! HA!”

Upon my taking care of the check, Mrs. R suddenly said, “Oh, by the way, I need to stop in and pick up a lipstick.”

The correct response would have been “I’ll meet you at the car” but Ol’ Robbo’s wits were a bit befuddled and I found myself trailing Mrs. R into the belly of the beast, eventually winding up at a Sephora way over on the other side of the mall.

Well, at least it wasn’t Victoria’s Secret, but standing around in a make-up store gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies. Everybody else in there, no matter what their actual age or sex, seemed to have the air of an adolescent girl. And to make matters worse, rayther than just grabbing something and going, Mrs. R spent what seemed to me an interminable amount of time fussing about for the right shade, not only glomming on to a sales critter, but actually trying to get me involved, too.

“What do you think of this?” she asked multiple times.

“It’s fine,” I invariably replied.

The sales critter started to giggle.

Ol’ Robbo’s only yardstick when it comes to make-up is “Don’t make a fool of yourself” (a standard sadly neglected by many, alas). Otherwise, I really don’t care much.

Finally – FINALLY – Mrs. R separated out one shade virtually indistinguishable from all the others she’d looked at. As we left the store, she said, “So, do you want to walk around for a bit?” We’ve known each other for almost 35 years now. It amazes me that she can still ask such a question.

“Car. Move. Now!” I replied in a heavy Scots accent.***

** Admiral Akbar

*** Charlie Mackenzie’s Dad (slightly modified)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As mentioned below, Ol’ Robbo had planned to take advantage of the latest gratuitous fed’ral holiday to give the Port Swiller Manor back porch its annual washing. The fact is, however, that it’s actually a wee bit on the cool side to do so today in these parts, so I am postponing operations. And yes, I blame glowball enwarmening.

It needs a fine, hot day for this sort of thing. Not only do I manage to get my own self pretty durn wet through the course of spraying all that water all over the place, I also count on each patch of floor I’ve scrubbed to dry fairly quickly in the heat so that I can move all the furniture over to it and get to other parts.

While today promises to be extremely pleasant for, say, lolling in the hammock, splashing about with mop, bucket, and hose would be chilly and uncomfortable, and the whole process slow and tedious. It can wait.

Second Cuppa Kawfee UPDATE: Whoops, forgot that I’d wanted to highlight a few things today!

First, Happy Summah Solstice (one day early)! Ol’ Robbo is rayther amazed at how time is flying, but since this is such a truly annus horribilis for our nation (which I sure as hell didn’t vote for), that it’s going so quickly is, in fact, a Good Thing.

Second, Happy Fathers’ Day (one day late)! Ol’ Robbo really should champion this holiday more than he does. I recently read some updated statistics about fatherless families and they were absolutely appalling. If you wonder why psychotic yoots are shooting up schools, it’s not because the evil bang-sticks are jumping into their hands and making them, but instead almost invariably because there’s no Dad around. (Of course, this is an unfashionable view amongst Our Betters, as an intact family unit represents a politickal power center independent of and therefore at odds with the Collectivist State.)

Third, speaking of such things, this weekend saw the 29th anniversary of Ol’ Robbo and the Missus being spliced together. Huzzay, huzzah! I really don’t remember all that much about the details of our wedding anymore, but I do remember that the temperature in Central Virginny hit triple digits that afternoon. Would have been a perfect day for washing the porch!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool, dry, and very breezy day in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor today after a bit of a scorcher yesterday. I’d almost call it “blustery”, except that word seems to be associated only with cold weather. I wonder why. Bottom line is no bugglies when I go to mow the grass in just a bit.

I may have mentioned that I have a couple of hibiscus in pots on the patio this year, just by way of trying something new. Well, after this year, never again: they’re water hogs. Not only that, they go pathetically limp and wilty the instant they think they’re too dry. Ol’ Robbo already lives with a rayther high-maintenance family. He has no patience for high-maintenance porch plants on top of that.

Well, I suppose I ought to be aboot it……

Post-Chores UPDATE: Now that Ol’ Robbo thinks about it, I’m not so sure why only a cold wind should be blustery (am I showing my cultural biases here?), so I withdraw the limitation: It was, in fact, rayther blustery this morning (and, indeed, still is). I would also modify “no bugglies” to “somewhat fewer bugglies”. Like the poor, they’ll always be with us.

The upshot is that it was a lovely morning for the latter half of June here, one which didn’t leave me so hot and worn out after mowing and trimming that I couldn’t also spend some time pruning and deadheading, two tasks at which Ol’ Robbo admits he’s not nearly as diligent as he otter be.

Alas, my weed-whacker conked out on me in mid-trim. I have no idea why, but it’s probably Putin’s fault. As is my habit with most minor annoyances, I’m just going to let this one slide for a bit. (In effect, I’m tossing a S.E.P. field around it.) Perhaps it will fix itself.

News on the fruit front is that I was able to pick a handful of blueberries on which to snack, and also a couple of very early raspberries. The blueberries will max out in the next week or two, while the raspberries will go all the way until the first frost. I also noticed a goodly number of flowers on the wild blackberries behind my back gate. It would seem this will be a fairly prosperous year. The bad side of this is that the damned wild grape is getting into everything these days.

My next trick will be the annual scrubbing down of the porch and its contents, now that pollen and mud seasons are pretty much done. But that’s not until Monday.



Ol’ Robbo has always loved his oak-leaf. The hedge behind my back fence was just about the first thing I put in when we came to Port Swiller Manor 20-plus years ago and it’s been a booming success ever since. In full bloom, it practically looks like a snow bank from the porch.

Funny, I don’t much care for the other sort of hydrangea with the round balls of flower, particularly the baby-blue and pink ones. They remind me of…..poodles. Whereas my oak-leaf reminds me of, well, “Heart of Oak”. Steady, boys, steady!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo thought his updated remark below on his objection to gambling commercials on the teevee perhaps bears a little more fleshing out.***

You see, although I think gambling is pernicious and would rather such ads didn’t run, I can’t quite bring myself to say that they ought to be banned, not in a free society, anyway, because before you can answer the question of what ought or ought not to be allowed, you first have to ask the question who gets to decide?

I think that question becomes eminently more important these days, given how polarized society has become and how weaponized media and even our very language. (Wrong pronoun? Off with xer head!) Also, all the talk on social media about censoring “misinformation” or “disinformation”, plus the nooz of DHS’s semi-shadowy Ministry of Truth (which is far from dead, by the bye) fills Ol’ Robbo with misgivings. I sure as heck doesn’t want some politickally correct Carrie Nation coming after me for wrongthink.

Twenty years ago I’d simply have favored banning gambling ads without giving it much more thought. The times, though, they have changed, and if for no other reason than the protection of my very own ability to express myself, I take a more libertarian view about such things. So as far as such ads go, then, I’ll just grumble a bit here but otherwise ignore ’em.

The lovely and talented Sleepy Beth mentions in the comments having to deal with kids being exposed to objectionable ads, which brings to mind an anecdote from my own past. Ol’ Robbo gave up on watching pro football in the early 2000’s, in part because the Dolphins sank into obscurity after the retirement of Dan Marino, but also because the Gels were beginning to achieve awareness at the time and I had no desire whatever to have to explain the Viagra commercials to them. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

***I have a colleague at work who, when she means “flesh out”, instead says “flush out”. I find this endlessly amusing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Scanning the headlines, once again Ol’ Robbo finds himself presented with the choice of saying either too much or too little. Think I’ll go with little.

Happy Bloomsday to any James Joyce fans out there. (Personally, I could never fathom the fellah, but to each his own, I suppose.)

As Ol’ Robbo was listlessly watching his Nats lose yet another one last evening, the announcers got into a discussion of famous side-winder pitchers (because the reliever on the mound at the time is one) and the name of Joel Horlen came up. This made Ol’ Robbo smile because I lived round the corner from him in my misspent yoot and his son was a classmate of mine in school. Small world.

And speaking of throwing arms, I am informed that the vast majority of parrots** are left-handed. Scientists don’t know why.

And speaking of nature, I am now being informed rayther breathlessly by the local park authority to be on the lookout for an invasion of wayleaf basketgrass. Evidently, one of their ecologists was poking about in the parkland behind our fence and discovered some. Fortunately, a glance around the Port Swiller Manor demesne shows we’re still secure from this particular threat. I wish, however, the park authority would do something about the mystery invasive Asian vine I flagged two years ago, because that stuff is all over the place now.

** No word on whether this includes the famous Norwegian Blue.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention before but speaking of watching ball games, I don’t recall when all those sportsbook adverts started running on teevee but I wish they wouldn’t. I can’t really justify it philosophically, I suppose, except that I find gambling pernicious and especially apt to hurt those who can least afford it. (Ditto state lotteries and casinos running ads.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spotted his first firefly of the season last evening, a very pleasurable annual occurrence despite the fact that their appearance is always a harbinger of nasty, hot, sticky summah nights here (and last night was just such a one).

While I only saw the singleton, operating in a detached way near the fence, soon enough the tree line will be full of them flashing away.

Loitering about on the porch, I was also hoping to spot my first bats of the season, but there was no joy on that front. (True, I didn’t hang about all that long.) Ol’ Robbo has always loved bats and takes almost as much pleasure watching them dodge, duck, dip, dive, and …*** as he does watching the fireflies flash in their little galaxies. Now and again I’ve even considered putting up a bat house, but alas, it would cause undue stress to Mrs. R, who hates the things. Oh, well.

Do bats eat fireflies? I wonder. Probably, at least when they can get them, I should think. Except, as I say, the fireflies around here generally stick to the tree line, while the bats are more open air types, so perhaps there’s not all that much interaction. The sentimentalist side of me rayther hopes that’s the case.

** Spot the reference

*** Spot the quote


Ol’ Robbo is reminded that today is Flag Day.

I fly mine 24/7 (properly lit at night, of course). I have considered once in a way the idea of taking it down in protest of the garbage times in which we live and the garbage people who are running things, but every time I do, I reach the resolution that I’ll be damned if they take this away from me, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Rains this morning in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor let Ol’ Robbo off from having to mow the lawn, although I may go do some trimming after I finish my kawfee, since the alternative is likely being dragooned into helping clean the house in advance of the in-laws’ decent later on. (At least the rain will be gone before I need to grill their din-dins.) Never a moment of peace around here.

Touching wood, it’s actually been a fairly cool and rainy late spring/early summah overall in the neighborhood, although I’m sure Our Betters, if consulted, would be quick to assert a) that Ol’ Robbo is mistaken, and b) that it doesn’t matter anyway since weather is not climate and we’re all gonna die. Nonetheless, the effect is noticeable enough that a neighbor remarked on it yesterday as I passed by on my lunchtime walk. So there.

And speaking of Our Betters, I read somewhere or other recently that there is a plan to bump the ethanol content in gasoline from 10% to 15% this summah. The same source states that such an increased ethanol content is incompatible with small engines such as lawnmowers (also with older cars). If this is all true and comes to pass, if my mower and weed-whacker conk as a result, and if the lawn goes to hell, I’m going to blow up one of those “I Did That!” Slow Joe stickers into a large sign and stick it in the front yard. See if I don’t. (And with gas around here now north of five bucks a gallon, I may suspend mowing and do that anyway.)

Well, time to go see what needs to be done.

UPDATE: A pleasant time whacking the weeds in the garden, mostly clover at this point. (And, incidentally, for once I put fresh line on the spool of my trimmer with the speed and efficiency of an Indy pit crew.) They really need a Round Up dosing, but razing them is an acceptable expedient for the moment. Meanwhile, looking about it, the hydrangea hedge is in full bloom while the foxgloves are now winding down. The butterfly bush will need their first pruning very soon and the Joe Pye weed will start blooming shortly.

As to the last, friends of the decanter have said before, “But, Tom, why would you want a weed in your plot? It’s even part of the name!” To which Robbo replies that it’s only a weed if you don’t want it. I happen to like Joe Pye – it produces lovely clumps of delicate little feathery, lavender flowers which the butterflies love, it takes no maintenance, and the critters leave it alone. What else could one ask? Meanwhile, as a contra-example, the same hydrangea hedge is forever trying to establish its progeny in the bed, much to my annoyance. So while I am proud of the hedge itself, I consider the babies it tries to foist on me to be weeds. You see? A very subjective label, indeed.

The only other note today is that I changed out the nectar in the hummingbird feeder. Even though I’ve had the thing hung up since mid-April, I still haven’t spotted any of the little brutes around it, which is too bad. I thought perhaps a fresh charge might entice any passer-by, of which there must be some, to remain. (I’m not actually concerned, as they do show up fairly late in the summah sometimes, but still.)

UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of birds, even as Ol’ Robbo was hitting the “update” button, he beheld a hawk having a very serious go at a mourning dove messing about under my patio feeder. (It missed and the dove did a quick bunk.) The wonder of nature, baybee!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No, friends of the decanter need not worry that I’ve been dragged away by persyns in sunglasses and trench coats for the crime of wrongthink. I’ve just been staring at the screen this week with nothing much in particular to say. Well, nothing much that won’t get me dragged away by persyns in sunglasses and trench coats for the crime of wrongthink, anyway. (As to all that, I’ll simply remark that a thing that can’t go on won’t.)

Rayther, there’s a feel around Port Swiller Manor of, if not the calm before the storm, perhaps something more like the hanging suspense just before the rollercoaster plunges down that big slope. Lots of changes are coming up in very short order, so perhaps the Robbo braim is grasping at the last bit of vacant serenity it can before it has to get busy in earnest.

Again, you need not worry. Said changes almost all have to do with the Gels growing up. Middle heads out next week to her summah gig working for the Commonwealth leading gangs of yoots in reclamation/refurbishment projects at a couple of state parks. (No, the yoots are not junior villains working off their community service sentences, but instead eager-beaver high school kids.) Meanwhile, we’re getting ready to ship Youngest overseas for her study abroad semester. And as I’ve mentioned previously here, we’re hammering out the final arrangements for sending the elder two off to grad school this fall (most such arrangements consisting of Ol’ Robbo putting his foot down about what he’s not going to pay for).

Hence the grasping.

That may also have something to do with why Ol’ Robbo has been binge-reading his Edwardian exotic adventure shelves of late. I’ve blown right through all my Rider Haggard and P.C. Wren and am now in the midst of Sabatini’s Captain Blood and rediscovering what a jolly-well written book it really is.

And speaking of escapist fantasy, I’ve been watching a fair bit of Nats baseball, too. What with the season being essentially over for them already, I’m finding much solace in treating the games in my mind as if they were simply extended spring training. Eh. (I don’t mind watching them on teevee but I doubt I will bother to shlep down to the park any time this year as I don’t see it worth the money.)

Anyhoo, there it is and here I am. At least until the persyns in sunglasses and trench coats come to drag me away.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Gah, here we are again. (Monday morning, that is.) At least this particular D-Day anniversary is cool and dry. It is often not so much the case around here.


I got a notice in the mail this weekend that Port Swiller Manor has been redistricted for purposes of state and federal representation. A function, no doubt, of the booming population growth round here. There’s really not much to say about it – I just find the idea mildly interesting and of slight historickal value.

Meanwhile, gas at the station down the street from me has now hit $4.95 a gallon. I fully expect to rocket over the five buck line this week. Yay.

Speaking of ways Uncle seeks to make you miserable, it seems my office is starting to fuss about boosters again. I took the first stupid shots because I had to but I’ve never got a booster. Evidently, this is not “correct” behavior. I also seem to have misplaced my stupid vaccination papers. Meh. Think I’ll just lay low and see if this one blows over on its own.

Finally, my in-laws are scheduled to arrive some time this afternoon for a week’s stay in the area (NOT in the house) on their migration north. They’re good people, but when they’re around life gets…..complicated. Brace for impact.

Off to find more kawfee…..

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that I hung out my porch bug-zapper this weekend. I’m probably a very bad person for saying so, but the thwap! of the little beasties meeting their Maker gives me much satisfaction.

UPDATE DEUX: By the bye, Ol’ Robbo hasn’t paid that much attention to the Jubilee Celebration over in Britain except to scan the photos that a friend is rayther compulsively putting up on FacePlant, but I will say God bless Queen Elizabeth. Also, I am more and more convinced that William and Kate are the genuine article and unlikely to slide down the slippery slope of celebrity trash as I once feared.


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June 2022