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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is mildly proud of the fact that, although today is his day off, he still hauled himself out of bed to go labor in the vinyard in the (relative) cool of the morning before the ungodly heat n’ humidity we’ve been promised gets down to serious biznay.  Now he can sit down and blog in contentment, a large glass of iced coffee within easy reach.  I won’t mind if there’s ambrosia in the next world, but I’ll be even happier if there’s iced coffee.

I say vinyard, but in fact my task today was weeding the raspberries.  There’s a particular weed that always comes up.  It’s got smooth, trifoil leaves with rounded edges, a smooth, water-filled stalk, and little orangy-yellow flowers.  I don’t know its name.  Fortunately, it also has extremely shallow roots and is quite easy to yank.  Then again, the morning glory is making its annual bid to entangle itself with every other living thing that stays still long enough.  Getting it out of your figurative hair is a lot harder.

A fairly average crop of raspberries this year.  (Eating them off the brakes is one of the bennies that goes with the weeding job.)  Not so much the blueberries.  The previous owner planted them near a maple that has since grown somewhat in its canopy, thereby making things a bit shadier than I think the blueberries really want.  Not that we don’t get any yield, but the amount is measurable in palms-full rayther than pints like the raspberriers.  As for the blackberries out back, it’s a bit early for them yet, but it looks as if we’re going to have a very fine crop this year.

There’s still a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Supremes’ decision of yesterday, but it still strikes me that there’s a consi’drble amount of silver in thot thar lining.   The Commerce Clause is mightily strengthened against Congressional depredations.  The “partisan court” is gone as a political issue.   And contrary to much denial caught on tape and already forming the basis of many new campaign commercials, the individual mandate is firmly and irrefutably identified as a super king kamaya-maya duck.  And whether he was bowing to the political elite or screwed up his epilepsy meds or is playing some very deep game, the fact of the matter is that Roberts just threw the electorate a hanging curve ball.

We shall see what happens.

Mrs. R and the eldest gel are off to Connecticut tomorrow to visit grandparents for the Fourth.  (I was to go, too, but having had to eat some vacation time due to my extended illness, am taking a pass.)  What with the other two gels still away at camp, this means ol’ Robbo will be baching it for most of the week.   I’ve an idea this is going to involve rayther a lot of baseball games, patriotic movies and Pimms.

I finished up John C. Cremony’s Life Among The Apaches last evening.  An absolutely fascinating book if you’re interested in that sort of thing, clear, concise and full of all kinds of useful knowledge such as how to make smoke signals and how to count to ten in Apache.  It occured to me that I should now reread Francis Parkman’s Oregon Trail.  I’ve not read the latter for some time and it strikes me that it would be interesting to compare the two more or less contemporaranious works.  Cremony’s observations were what one might call professional in nature, and both his biznay and his life depended on their accuracy.  Parkman and his friends, when they journeyed up the Oregon Trail at about the same time, were basically well-to-do tourons.  Cremony is careful not to speculate on anthropological matters beyond his immediate observation and experience.  If I recall correctly, Parkman is much more apt to Tell Us All What It Means.   (Don’t misunderstand me – I like Parkman a lot.  But I believe he was still quite young (and perhaps a tad foolish) when he wrote this book.)

Using Mrs. R’s laptop to do this post reminds me again how much I hate not having a mouse.  Why does the screen keep expanding and shrinking while I’m trying to use the touch screen thingie to get the pointer where I want it?  Grrrr…..

“Uh, Mr. Pyrrhus?  There’s a deputation here to see you…..”

The Ancient Mariner could not be reached for comment.

This is a duck.  A very ugly duck.

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey in 1778.

I don’t have that much to say about the battle itself except that I believe it was one of the very few occasions on which George Washington really lost his temper (because of the fecklessness of Charles Lee).

No, I make mention of it because this painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze has always been a favorite of mine, so I use the date as an excuse to post it again.  I’ve always wondered about the dog in the foreground.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

While we all await Judgement Day this morning (yes, of course I’m paying attention), a leetle gratuitous baseball story for your amusement.

On Tuesday, I happened to be on a thread over to Facebook participating in a group rant about the terrible run production of my beloved Nationals.  Their RISP average has been the one really worrisome part of the team’s otherwise outstanding performance this year, and the general consensus was that Rick Eckstein, the Nats’ batting coach, needed to be sent to the consulting firm of Tar & Feathers immediately.

And yet, for all of that, the Nats managed to rack up a total of twenty-three (23) runs over the Rockies these past two nights, beating them successively by the scores of 12-5 and 11-5.

Robbo is not used to watching the Nats pull off a laugher, much less two in a row.  It’s a strange feeling.

But that’s the baseball gods for you.  Caprice and whimsey.  (I don’t for an instant believe that these back-to-back slugfests were in good faith answer to the fans’ collective wishes.  The gods don’t work that way.)


There are certainly times here at port swiller central when I, too, feel like asking, “Something up with my banter, chaps?”

(That sketch, by the bye, is from what is probably my very favorite episode of Flying Circus, despite the fact that Cleese had already left the show by then.)

Of course, there’s that other feeling I get sometimes, too……

The devil’s website has dropped an interesting item into my email box, Carry On Up The Khyber (double-featured with Carry On, Doctor).

It’s been a good twenty-five years since I’ve seen any of the old “Carry On” flicks.  (I used to watch them on teevee on Saturday afternoons when I was living in London.)  My hazy recollection is of some moderately amusink time-wasters of the Benny Hill variety of humor.

Any road, I’ve been mulling Khyber of late, in part because I’ve never seen it, in part because it’s mentioned favorably in a book by an author whose opinions I value highly.   Apparently noticing that I’ve clicky-ed on the link a few times in the course of my mullings, the devil is now offering me a discount.

Have any friends of the decanter seen this one?  Is the temptation worth the fall?  (It’s only twelve bucks, but I always feel like such a chump when I say yes so easily.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Returning to the port swiller mansion at the quiet e’enfall yesterday, Ol’ Robbo discovered a pleasant jumble of bricks, chimney-pots and bags o’ concrete on one side of the drive, together with various ladders propped against the side of the house, all evidence to my highly-trained legal mind that at long last the port swiller chimney is being put to the rightabouts. 

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I don’t know how long the actual construction will take, but at least it’s finally started and I can’t imagine it would be more than a day or two.  And even though my neck of the woods is forecast to be plunged into another round of triple-digit heat n’ humidity later this week, once the thing is done I’m half-tempted to light a small inaugural fire just by way of celebration.

Of course, I can’t complain much.  Last winter was unusually warm and calm, and having the thing out of action was only an aesthetic loss.  (There have been times, during more severe weather with the power knocked out, when the Family Robbo has hunkered down in front of the fireplace for the night in blankets and sleeping bags.)  However, it’s the little things – sitting on the hearth eating bacon and water-chestnuts after an afternoon pottering outside, dozing off after dins in my comfy chair with a good book in my lap and a glass of the crayture at my elbow, chucking all of the wrapping paper on the grate on Christmas morning – that make Civilisation worth fighting for.

Let’s just hope that after all of this, the port swiller chimney doesn’t wind up suffering the same fate as that of Shreelane. (I don’t think the contractor’s name is Walkin’ Aisy.)

UPDATE:  It. Is. Done.  Cheree-Chim-Cheroooo!!


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June 2012