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This afternoon I split up some logs from a tree we had chopped down this past summah into cord wood.  (Regular port-swillers might be surprised to learn that I even know how, given the sort of esoteric blatherings in which I indulge here.  Well, the truth is I learned an awful lot of basic guy skills in my yoot: I am (or used to be) a pretty good wing shot, I can field-dress a deer, I can handle a horse, build a rock wall and clear brush.   And, more to the point, split and stack wood.  Auto mechanics? Well, there you lose me.)

When I was a kid, I used to have to help the Old Gentleman with this task.  I would hold an axe steady while he whacked it with the sledge.   I still remember how much that used to make my hands sting.  Like getting jammed with an inside fastball.

These days, I have found that those split-o-matic wedges work even better than an axe-head, although the sledge is, of course, still of the essence.

These are the trees (photographed during the halcyon days of summah) that line the street in front of the Port-Swiller residence.  The two on the ends are silver maples, while the one in the middle is an oak.  This pic was taken from the driveway.  On the other side of it is another silver maple.  Each of these trees is a good 45 to 50 feet tall.

Robbo and family have occupied their current residence for just over nine years now.  We were very fortunate to be able to buy the house for a number of reasons, none of which are relevant here.  However, another reason very relevant was the fact that we appeared on the scene at exactly the moment a prior sales contract had fallen through.

You see, the previous owners were a nice, easy-going pair of empty-nesters, selling off the old homestead to go live in a condo on a beach somewhere down south.  They had contracted (so the story goes) with a young, childless couple, both lawyers and first-time house purchasers.  I’ll call them Mr. & Ms. Litiganti.

From what the previous owner subsequently told me, the Litigantis were both neurotic, and Ms. Litiganti in particular was quite mad.  She supposedly showed up with a list of demands for this or that alteration or repair, a list that kept growing like the heads of the Hydra as Mr. & Mrs. Previous Owner complied.  What finally broke the camel’s back was her demand that the previous owners cut down all four of these trees (although they’re actually on County property).  Ms. Litiganti’s reasoning was that the trees were an attractive nuisance, that some kid was going to climb one and break his damned neck, and that she would then be saddled with a lawsuit.

At that point, Mr. Prior Resident told Mr. & Ms. Litiganti to go to hell.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now.  I’m not saying I agree with Ms. Litiganti’s concerns, and I appreciate greatly that this sylvan quartet can be said to be the reason why we were able to get the house, but I will say that each fall, after spending hours and hours rounding up all the leaves these trees drop and hauling them into the woods out back, that I find myself sympathetic to her desire to do away with them.

Oh, and although I cleaned up all the maple leaves today, I’ll be back out again in another few weeks because the oak, I find, drops its leaves much later than the maple.  Ours still has about 65% of its leaves.  From a botanical standpoint, this is quite interesting, but in terms of yard maintenance, it’s a royal pain in the neck.

Mink Monica sends along this Onion piece that’s too good not to share:

NEW YORK—Inside the Montessori School of Dentistry, you won’t find any old-fashioned cotton swabs, or so-called periodontal charts, or even any amalgam fillings. That’s because at this alternative-learning institution, students are being encouraged to break away from medical tradition and discover their very own root canal procedures.

“At Montessori, we believe dentistry is more than just the medical practice of treating tooth and gum disorders,” school director Dr. Howard Bundt told reporters Tuesday. “It’s about fostering creativity. It’s about promoting self-expression and individuality. It’s about looking at a decayed and rotten nerve pulp and drawing your own unique conclusions.”

“In fact, here at Montessori, dentistry is whatever our students want it to be,” Bundt continued.

Founded in 1981, and tailored after the teaching methods first developed by Italian-born educator Maria Montessori, the three-year academy offers a fresh and innovative approach to learning seldom found at more conventional schools of dentistry.

Teachers—or “roving dental facilitators,” as they prefer to be called—can be difficult to spot: They often choose to stay out of the way of their inquisitive pupils, and only make gentle suggestions as to how an infected root chamber should be drained.

“When performing a root canal, there’s no such thing as right or wrong,” said Montessori educator Vanessa Perrin, who added that she doesn’t so much teach her students how to treat an inflamed nerve, as lead them to an open mouth and then stand back. “Sure, we could say to our students, ‘The enamel here has completely eroded and needs to be addressed immediately.’ But what’s more satisfying, what’s more dynamic, is to just let them slowly develop an ‘impression’ of why a patient might be screaming.”


Regular port-swillers will of course know that Mrs. Robbo’s patron saint is St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.  Mrs. Robbo claims that she never drops in here for a glass.  I reckon that between this post and the gratuitous jab at “Twilight” (of which she is, alas, a fan) below, we’re going to test that assertion p.d.q.

Well, today is the sixth birthday of that crazy corner corral of the blogsphere known as the Llama Butchers.

I’d been planning a special surprise party for my fellow bloggers there – Mr. LMC, Gary the Ex-Donk and, of course. Steve-O (aka “El Jeffe Con La Little Debbie“).  Unfortunately, due to a recent tendency of the Moo-Knew homeworld to burst its bandwidth breeches before the end of the month, we’re all closed out of the shop for the moment.

As you can see, the pièce de résistance was to be Melissa Theuriau singing us the traditional birthday salute.  I may as well tell you that this pic is just a still taken from the rehearsal.  What you can’t see from it is that the actual plan is for her to serenade us while bursting out of a large cake wearing a naughty French maid rig.

Pity my comrades will will miss that.  Guess it’s just me and Meliss, then.

Oh, and what do you know? I see it’s actually time for the party to start. 

Well….sorry fellahs.   Gotta go.  Love that cake, y’know.  

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Oh, and Yip! Yip! Yip!


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November 2009