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Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Yes, ol’ Robbo is home from his hols, and what better way to get back into the bloggy swing of things than to give you a few highlights?

♦   First, a travel note.  Since the last time I was up thataways, the great state of Delaware has knocked down and completely rebuilt its I-95 truck stop service island oasis rest stop whatever you call those things.  And I must say that they’ve done quite a good job, too.  The new digs are light, spacious and, at least for now, clean.  In fact, the only drawback that I can see is the disappearance of the Bob’s Big Boy.  Over the course of twenty-odd years of stopping there on my travels, I had developed a custom of patting the big statue of Bob on the shoulder every time I came by.  Didn’t really mean anything, but I enjoyed the sense of continuity.  Gonna miss ol’ Bob.

♦  It is funny to listen to Mainers complain about high temperatures around 80.  Very funny.

♦  As is usually the case, I didn’t really do much of anything on hols except sit about, hobnob with the Mothe and read.  As for the last, I can’t remember which of you recommended it to me, but thank you very much for the tip about Fitzroy Maclean’s Eastern Approaches.  What a man – a cross between James Bond and Lawrence of Arabia, but without all the ego.  (For those of you unfamiliar with Maclean, he joined the Brit diplomatic corp as a young man and got himself posted to Moscow in the late ’30’s, where he saw the worst of the Stalinist purges first-hand.  He also spent a great deal of time wandering about Central Asia just for the hell of it.  When WWII broke out, the diplomatic wouldn’t release him to enlist, so he got himself elected to Parliament then enlisted.  Then he got himself into the SAS and went biffing about the North African desert behind the Axis lines.  Later, he kidnapped an Iranian general who was suspected of being about to go over to the Nazis.  Then he parachuted into Serbia, became the chief Brit liasion to Tito, and spent the balance of the war with the Partisans!)   But what I really found interesting was his clear-eyed insight into the Communist mindset.  I don’t think I’ve come across a better explanation of why the Soviets and their fellow travellers did the things they did.  Maclean doesn’t try to excuse or romanticize it – he thinks they’re horrid, crazy bastards – but he doesn’t turn them into cartoon villains either.  Nonetheless, his straightforward, unbiased reporting of Communist “logic” – particularly in his detailed account of the show trial of Nikolai Bukharin – is one of the most chilling things I think I’ve ever read.

♦  Of course, I didn’t spend all my time reading about goddam Commies.  As has become our custom, we dropped down to Hadlock Field to take in a Portland Sea Dogs game (against the Bowie Baysox).  Folks, they don’t call it “minor league” for nothing.  I don’t know what the AA standards are, but it struck me that the official scorer was being awfully generous in his restraint about issuing errors.  But it was baseball, and in the end, that’s what mattered.

♦   For some reason, the 10 year old gel seems to have bad luck at our summah place.  One year she got bitten in the face by the grandparental dog and had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches.  This year she fell off a rock while messing about in the cove and pranged her ankle.  Upon being alerted to the injury, I duly plodded down the hill and carried her home on my back.   My knees were just about up to the task – As I told her, if this happens again in the future, I’ll have to leave her for the seagulls.

♦  Speaking of which, on one of our last days there I looked up and damme if a bald eagle, tailed by a pair of gulls, didn’t come swooping in and alight in a nearby tree.  Pretty neat.

♦  Also speaking of birds, we had interesting neighbors this year, a couple in the 30’s/40’s range whom we nicknamed Antony and Cleopatra for their apparent inability to keep their hands off each other, even when out on their deck.  I must say that it broke up the monotony of looking at lobster boats. [Domina: “Senex! Come away from that house of shame this instant!”  Senex: “Oh, but my dear! I was just standing here, saying ‘shame….shame….'”]

♦   Speaking of shame, some friends of ours from home were in the neighborhood, so we had them over to stay for a couple of nights.  They’re perfectly nice people and I say nothing against them in particular, but I have found that I simply cannot stick houseguests for more than about 24 hours without getting fidgity and impatient.  Has something to do with my craving for privacy.  I hope I covered it up, but I rayther think they were on to me.

♦   I duly made my way to Mass at the little chapel over on the neck across from our island.  I suppose that I’m becoming something of a snob [Ed. – “becoming?”], but I so love the Mass in the Extraordinary Form that I simply cannot understand how people endure the post-Vatican II Christianity-and-water drivel of the more modern form.  (The second Sunday we had an old hippie folk guitarist leading the way.)  Oh, well.  

♦   And speaking of that sort of thing, I had a dream one night that I died and went to Heaven.  The Virgin Mary was in charge of the HR department and was helping me fill out a lot of paperwork.  Make what you will of that. 

Well, that’s about it.  All in all, another successful, restful escape from ordinary life.


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August 2010