Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the recent radio silence, but the illness that ol’ Robbo seems to have picked up at the doc’s office last week really took hold of him over the past couple days, with self being subjected to bouts of hacking and wheezing worthy of a genuine TB lunger, together with a series of teh most exquisite headaches and sore throats.  I seem to be on the road to recovery now, although I’m still short of breath and can’t get more than four or five words out at a time without another fit of coughing and I still feel pretty wiped.   Howsoever, the holiday weekend was pretty well timed and I believe I will be ready to resume the harness tomorrow.  (The lawn can go to hell and will have to wait until next weekend.)

The past few nights, in order to spare Mrs. Robbo from having to listen to my retching, I’ve been sleeping down the basement.   This has reminded me again that there’s an awful lot to be said for separate bedrooms, even for married couples……

In my sick time, I have been reading voraciously (if not always especially comprehensively).   One of the books I tackled for the first time was a little something I recently picked up entitled The Account of Mary Rowlandson and Other Indian Captivity Narratives.  It is exactly what the title suggests, namely four first-person stories of Indian captivity by a quartet of unfortunate Europeans.  Mary Rowlandson herself was captured in 1676, during King Phillip’s War, during a Wamponoag raid that destroyed the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts.  After seeing one of her children killed, she was marched north and subject to numerous brutalities and hardships.  Eventually, she was ransomed by the colony and returned to her family.  Her account, published in 1682, became immensely popular reading.  Another narrative is that of Father Bressani, a Jesuit missionary to the Hurons who was captured by the Iroquois in 1644.  Fr. Bressani only escaped being counted among the North American Martyrs when the old squaw to whom he had been assigned by the Iroquois decided, at the last second, to adopt him instead of cooking him.  Eventually, he was ransomed by the Dutch at Albany and returned to Europe.  I won’t go into the details of the two letters he wrote describing his ordeal, except to say that he apologizes profusely in the first one for the poor penmanship, explaining that he only has one finger left on his right hand.   The third account is of one Mercy Harbison, whose frontier homestead near Pittsburgh was attacked by rampaging Senecas (among others) in 1792, after the disastrous St. Clair expedition of the preceding fall.  During the course of the attack and afterwards, Harbison was forced to witness the killing and scalping of both her young sons.  Eventually, as she was marched away, she saw an opportunity and made a harrowing run for it, eventually fetching up safely in Pittsburgh, where she gave an affidavit of her capture and escape.  The fourth account, by far the most cheerful, is that of Colonel James Smith.  As a boy of 19 in 1755, he was assigned to a road-clearing crew as part of teh ill-fated Braddock Campaign against Fort Duquesne.  He was captured by Delawares and taken to the Fort, where he was made to run the gauntlet.  However, after that ordeal, he was let alone and was on hand to hear the news of poor Braddock’s massacre.  Thereafter, Smith, who had been adopted into a band of Delawares, spent the next three years wandering about the Ohio Valley wilderness with them.  His accounts of day-to-day Indian life are most detailed and most interesting.  Eventually, Smith made his way back to the colonies, later serving with Col. Bouquet during Pontiac’s Rebellion, and afterwards being active in Pennsylvania and Kentucky politics.

I guess you wouldn’t necessarily have to be a colonial history geek to enjoy this short volume, but it probably helps.

The past couple days have seen the reintroduction of the Dog Question into the port-swiller household.  The gels, of course, are all enthusiasm.  Mrs. R, for whatever reason, has come around to the position that she wouldn’t mind a dog if it met certain very specific criteria (e.g., was a rescue, 3 y.o. or older, housebroken, documented good with children and cats, etc.).  It is one of life’s little absurdities that it is ol’ Robbo of all people, who has missed having a dog for 30 years and yearned for one for ages, who is kyboshing the idea now.   My reasoning is simple.  First (as I explain to the gels), a dog is an enormous responsibility and will create an enormous mess.  If I can’t get you (gels) to look after yourselves now, why on earth would I want to put that added burden on myself?  Or, as I so suavely put it, “I won’t consider bringing another animal into the house until you three learn not to act like one.”  Second, there is the Jenny Factor.  Jenny, as regular friends of the decanter might recall, is our elder cat.  She’s knocking 19, is arthritic and is mostly blind.  All she wants here on out is a life of quiet, routine and repose, and it strikes me that introducing such an enormous change into her environment at this point would be pretty hard cheese on her.    So I won’t do it.  Or, as I so artfully put it to teh gels, “Let’s wait until Jenny kicks off.  Then we’ll talk.”

(I seriously doubt if Oprah or Dr. Phil are going to have me on their shows anytime soon to discuss parent-child communication.)

Speaking of teh gels, the county recently added a critical new bit of sidewalk in the neighborhood of the port-swiller mansion that now allows them to safely bike over to the pool themselves instead of being ferried.   Oh frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!

Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats swept the Braves this weekend.  And life is good.