Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, I would say overall that the Family Robbo was spared too much trouble from Hurricane Sandy.  (Nothing at all compared to those poor people farther up the coast in Joisey and Noo Yawk who seem to have got absolutely hammered.)  A lot of wind, at times fairly fierce.  A lot of rain.  That curiously dampened thunder that accompanies strong gales.  A few branches and limbs down in the yard.  The power out for a little over twenty-four hours.  Eh.  Really, El Derecho was far worse this past summah when it came to call.  (I’ve a theory that all the damage it did actually lessened Sandy’s effects by culling out a lot of weaker timber.)

There is a great difference of opinion within the Family Robbo on what constitutes the proper response to an extended loss of power from bad weather.  Robbo, perhaps because he’s the only male, perhaps because he comes from a somewhat more stoic background, is of the belief that when it is cold and rainy out one should simply put on more clothes, bank up the ol’ fire, pour another glass of the crayture and hunker down with a good book.  (I went on a Charles Portis bender, reading yesterday his Escape Velocity for the first time and rereading his Norwood and True Grit for about the tenth each.)

Mrs. Robbo is of a different mind.  Her response is to light out for some place with an indoor pool and room service.   (I helpfully point out that this won’t do her much good in preparing for the Big One when there is no convenient nearby Marriott and we’re having to haul and boil buckets of water from the nearest source a half mile away.  She replies that she doesn’t care.)

The upshot is that I had Port Swiller Manor to myself last night and I duly snugged down in the library and followed the above-described programme.  (The power actually cut back in around eleven, but by then it really didn’t matter.)

I woke up some time in the wee hours from a truly bizarre dream (something about an illicit flirtation, the sabotage of a regatta by black-clad villains, a sudden inability to walk down stairs and losing my jeep in a parking lot) to hear the house adjusting itself to thirty-six hours of buffeting wind, soaking rain and seesawing internal temperature.  Lying there listening to an unfamiliar series of creaks, snaps and pops, I began to worry casually about structural integrity, wondering what actions I might take if the sound of groaning wood suddenly turned out to be the prelude to a wardrobe or bedstead crashing down through the ceiling.  (You laugh, but the house is 40 years old and ours is the second family to grow up in it.   When the gels are all on the loose upstairs, the place shakes and shudders as if a herd of mastodon had taken up residence.)

Concern about ceilings falling in always reminds me of my first adult house, which was one in which I had an apartment the last two years of law school in Metro-Lex.  I had the upstairs back.  Another student had the downstairs back.  The front, upstairs and down, was reserved for the landlady’s mother, who came down from Vermont for the winters.  The mother had the most vicious dog, which she kept tethered to the side of the house during the day and which always lunged slavering at me when I came or went.  Like Frau Dressler’s goat in Waugh’s Scoop, I knew that sooner or later it would break free.  The dog knew it, too.  Fortunately, the time he did get loose, I happened to be safely indoors.

At any rate, the main feature of my apartment, which was really quite nice as far as graduate digs went, was a living room of maybe 12 or 15 feet square.  The floor sagged so severely in the middle that unless the furniture was arranged just right to counterbalance the effect, one could get quite seasick just looking at it.  For myself, I generally tried to tiptoe whenever in that room.  I sometimes wonder whether it eventually fell through, maybe ruptured by some other student dancing in frustration over some assignment from the Groot Monster, Slamming Sammy, Phembo, Timmy Tax, “Papa” Brion, the Lash or Punchin’ Judy.  The last time I took a dekko at an overhead view of it on Google Earth, it looked as if the place had been worked on, possibly renovated, so perhaps it finally happened.