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As the snow continues to come down around Port Swiller Manor, the Robbo braim turns to the question:  When is the best time to go out and shovel the driveway?

Regular friends of the decanter may recall that I grew up in South Texas.  A yoot spent in that clime left me with very, very little experience regarding what one might call proper snow management.  (Indeed, I can think of only one time we ever got more than an inch or two in San Antonio.  That was the winter of ’84-’85, when I was home on Christmas break from my sophomore year in college.  In a once-in-a-thousand year freak, we got something like 15 inches, utterly shutting the place down.  You should have seen our old Scottie trying to deal with it!  But I was robbed of even this opportunity to gain some knowledge owing to the fact that I was down with a very severe case of Mono and under strict medical orders to not so much as sneeze the wrong way for fear of rupturing something and bleeding to death.)

Nonetheless, I have been a householder in the great Commonwealth of Virginny for some twenty-odd years now, and of necessity have picked up a certain amount of practical experience in that time.   I suppose the rule of thumb is that it depends on how much you think you’re going to get altogether, and the quality of the stuff.  Less than, say, six or eight inches, let it all play itself out first.  More than that, you might want to think about doing an initial clearing, coming back to mop up later on.  Especially if, like today, it’s the heavy, wet kind.

I’ve an idea that at the rate it’s coming down, schools et cetera are going to be closed tomorrow, so there probably won’t be any child transport to worry about.  However, I will likely need to get down to the shop myself, at least for a while.  I don’t relish having to tackle 12 to 14 inches in the early morning, so I suppose I will go out later on this afternoon to take an initial whack at it.

But the upside?  Why, in Robbo’s calculus, an hour or two with the ol’ shovel (and yes, a certain surly obstinacy compels me to do it the old-fashioned way)*  not only counts as exercise for the day, it also earns him some bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and a big glass of sherry in front of a cheery fire afterwards.  (If the power goes out and the broiler is not available, I can live with just the sherry and the fire.)

That’s carrot enough to make me beat myself with a stick.**

* I’ve nothing against snowblowers per se, except that I’m still young enough and they’re still expensive enough that the math doesn’t yet work out.  (It’s sort of the same with the riding mower question.)  I don’t doubt that at some point I will go ahead and make the switch.  But not yet.  What I really loathe, frankly, are those people who pay a service to clear out their drives or, even worse, those who have heated driveways.  Heated driveways, forsooth!!  That’s how Rome fell, y’know.)

** For those of you asking, “Tom, why don’t you get the gels to help?”  I can only answer: Yeah, right.

UPDATE:  Well, at least as of about 1:00 PM, Snowquester is becoming D’oh!-quester.  There’s plenty coming down, but it’s too warm for any appreciable sticking.  So perhaps, as Jesse Jackson famously said, “The question is moot!”


One of ol’ Robbo’s Lenten practices is to try and restrict himself to reading books that, if not purely theologickal in themselves, at least may be said to be Christian-themed.

This, of course, provides some wiggle room.  I’m hardly a saint myself, and the truth of the matter is that I have neither the strength of will nor the concentration to spend all my time on the various Apologetics, Lives, analyses and other weightier works on my list.  Sometimes I need to get to something a bit different.

So, for example, I almost always reread C.S. Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy at this time of year.  (As a matter of fact, I’m half-way through Perelandra even as I type.)

At any rate, due to a flurry of activity on the devil’s website, I have several new-to-me books to add to the list.  Given that they’re still predicting a serious storm round here, I may dip into one of them as early as this afternoon:

Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory.  I’ve never read any Greene.  On the other hand, through one source and another I’ve become increasingly aware of and interested in the Mexican socialists’ brutal treatment of the Church in the 20th Century.  (There’s those damned People Persons again!)  As this book is about that very subject, I thought it would be a nifty introduction to both.

Evelyn Waugh’s Helena.  A dramatization of the life of St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine and purported collector of the True Cross.   I’m told this is not, um, one of Waugh’s better books, but I feel compelled to read it nonetheless, at least the once, for myself.

Aloise Buckley Heath’s Will Mrs. Major Go To Hell?  This is all Jordana’s direct fault for jiggling loose a post-it-note I had stuck in a back corner of my braim years and years ago.  Delightful stories, from all that I’ve heard.

So that ought to keep me busy for a little while, at any rate.  Another name that keeps floating across my internal radar is Walker Percy.  Any of my fellow port swillers have any recommendations about him?

So I see where ol’ Hugo Chavez is on his way to the hot place.  Not to be uncharitable, but good, bloody riddance.

I recall that one of the great eye-openers of Robbo’s misspent yoot was the discovery of that type of Lefty who not only apologized for communist and socialist strong men, but actually praised and even worshiped them:  Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, the North Vietnamese, Tito, Che…..The list goes on.  Protestations about the brutality of this or that Utopian regime inevitably provoked either outright denial or else blustery and indignant justification amounting to little more than an eggs and omelettes defense.

It was at that point that I recognized the deadly and fundamental clash in this type’s mind between “the People” and the people, and just how cheaply they held the latter in their professed “love” of the former.  (Perhaps not unrelated, it gave me a certain amount of cynical pleasure to note that the kids who identified themselves as “People Persons” in my freshman class new student guide at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown usually turned out to be the biggest, most untrustworthy shites.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the long, multi-year snow drought round about the environs of Port Swiller Manor appears to be coming to an end, as a major, late-season snow storm – dubbed Snowquester by the local smart-assed wags, much to my delight – is on its way in even as I type.

Accumulation predictions are still rayther all over the place, although the majority of opinion is that Robbo will find himself shoveling out something between 8 and 12 inches of wet, heavy snow tomorrow.  Will they be proved right? Well, all I know is that The Weather Channel’s chief mimbo Jim Cantore is rumored to have set up camp somewhere in the area.  So at least we’ve got that going for us.

At any rate, here’s hoping for a nice snowy day (capped off, perhaps, by some sherry by the fire after I finish my shoveling duties).  Who knows?  Maybe among us the gels and I can figure out how to transfer pictures from their iThingies onto this computer.

6:45 AM UPDATE:  D’oh!-quester?  Looked out the windows of Port Swiller Manor in the gentle dawn to see maybe a couple inches bowing down the butterfly bush, but hardly a blanketing.  Nonetheless, a quick look at the forecast shows they’ve actually raised the total accumulation estimate overnight (may as well go all in, right?) and everything’s closed.   So what the hey.

8:45 UPDATE:  Okay, here it comes……No doubt Jim Cantore is even now assuming a heroic pose, face to windward, with a suitable backdrop.  The Washington Monument, perhaps? (Dr. Freud, please pick up the white courtesy phone, thank you.)

10:20 UPDATE:  This seems to be turning into one crazy storm.  It’s snowing canned hams here at Port Swiller Manor, but I gather just a few miles farther east and south they’re getting nothing more than sloppy rain.  Very, very sharp and close cut-over lines.   By the way, the lights are starting to flicker a bit here, so no telling how much longer this blog will have elec


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March 2013