You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2018.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Perhaps due to all the rain we’ve got round here this spring, Ol’ Robbo has noticed that the Virginia Creeper which festoons several of the walls of Port Swiller Manor is growing in leaps and bounds.

There are people who don’t like VC and treat it as a weed, but I’m not one of them.  (I prefer the term “native species”.) It has big, beautiful bunches of leaves that turn flaming red in the fall, it takes no maintenance whatsoever, and it doesn’t dig into masonry the way ivy does.  (True, if let out of hand it’ll gum up your gutters, cover windows, or smother other plants, but that’s true with any vine.)

So I’m happy to let it alone.

On the other hand, I was out in the garden this morning after a long absence and noted that the morning-glory was in the act of committing its annual bust out.  Again, Ol’ Robbo likes morning glory (it grew all over our neighbor’s fence when I was a kid in Texas and I sometimes think about keeping some in a pot on the patio), but this stuff I treat like a weed.  Once it gets itself enmeshed in the butterfly bush and raspberry canes, you can forget about keeping any control over the garden until the first frost hits. Fortunately, I spotted it early enough that I was able to do a major Round Up nuking of it. (It’s the only way to be sure.)

I mentioned last week that I thought this would be crisis time, the point where how things are going to look for the rest of the summah is decided.  I think, I think, that I’m doing pretty well this year, and that the jungle is going to be held more or less at bay going forward.  Of course, we shall see.

Advertisements

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Flag Day!  (The Stars and Stripes fly at Port Swiller Manor 24/7/365, by the bye,  and have done so since 9/11.)

On his daily walk down the National Mall today, Ol’ Robbo saw a sight that made him smile.  It was a young man in camo and a MAGA hat. He had both a large United States flag and a large President Trump flag on a pole.  He was trotting along, weaving in and out of various groups of people, and politely and quietly saying, “Happy Flag Day! God bless the USA! Happy Birthday, President Trump! Happy Birthday, United States Army!”  I also heard him tell somebody that his plan was to loop back and forth between the White House and the Capital for as long as he could.  He did not look crazy, only cheerfully enthusiastic.  From what I could see, the people were generally happy to see him and responded in kind – several got him to pose for pictures with them.  It was very refreshing, indeed.

On a completely different note, I also noticed that construction has begun on the infrastructure for this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and that the two feature “folk” lands this year are Armenia and Catalonia.

I know virtually nothing about Armenia except that the Church is very ancient there and the Ottomans tried to wipe them all out during WWI but we’re not supposed to talk about that because reasons.

As for Catalonia, the region has been a thorn of separatist trouble in the side of Madrid ever since Ferdinand and Isabella cobbled the kingdom together after the Reconquesta, but again I don’t know very much about the culchah other than what I’ve gleaned from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.

I wondered if there was some particular reason for picking these two places, some “preservation of autonomy in the face of outside pressure” kind of thing, so I ambled over to the Festival website but couldn’t find any statement explaining it.   So for all I know, the organizers may just have thrown darts at a map on the wall.

And speaking of such things, I gather the World Cup soccer tournament has started up.  Ol’ Robbo isn’t going to bother following it.  Soccer, as a sport, does not interest me in the least.  And as to the WC in particular, I associate it very closely (and perhaps, I admit, unjustly) with people who enthuse over the idea of One World global governance (as well as the metric system and Esperanto), which I loathe and despise.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For whatever reason, perhaps because the summah heat has set in and my intellect is correspondingly evaporating, Ol’ Robbo has started whipping through Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series again.

I may provoke some ire over the decanter and walnuts here, but I’m going to say it anyway: By golly, is this stuff trash.

So why do I read it?  Because I’m a (casual) student of the Napoleonic Wars and I enjoy what I believe to be Cornwell’s gift for accurately explaining and describing the purely military side of things, from strategic objectives to logistics to tactical maneuverings to the nitty-gritty of hand-to-hand combat.

But as for the rest? Aw, Jeez.  The characters are cardboard bordering on caricature, the dialogue is preposterous, Sharpe’s up-from-the-gutter story is clang, clang, clang, and the love interests come and go like Bond Girls.

For what it’s worth, I have nearly identical opinions – both good and bad – about the novels of Tom Clancy, which I also read from time to time, although I don’t really venture much beyond Clear and Present Danger.  Also Jeff Shaara, Derek Robinson and, for that matter, C.S. Forester and Charles Kingsley.

On the other hand, I have no such misgivings about reading and rereading similarly-themed works by the likes of Patrick O’Brian, George MacDonald Fraser, P.C. Wren, Erskine Childers, Conan Doyle, and Rider Haggard.  (Yes, I know one of you is going to mention John Buchan, but I still haven’t read him yet.  And of course, Kipling is beyond question. )  One of these days, I’ll put my mind to analyzing the differences.

Anyhoo, getting back to the Sharpe stories, I savor the battle scenes, cringe at the personal interest stuff, and feel vaguely ashamed about it all afterwards.  And yet, as I say, I keep coming back.

Who are some of your secret or not-so-secret favorite trash authors?

UPDATE: Of, I forgot.  The other evening as I was reading one of the Sharpe books, Eldest Gel came in the room and asked me about it.

“Oh,” I said, “It’s historickal fiction about the Napoleonic Wars.”

She looked at me cock-eyed and exclaimed, “Who on Earth else but you would read something like that?”

Kids these days.  Even mine.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Believe it or not, this month marks the 25th anniversary of the day on which Ol’ Robbo and Mrs. R were first manacled together.

In celebration, we are going to spend three nights in Bermuda, to which island neither of us has been before.

There’s a particular reason for this choice of destination: We had wanted to go to Bermuda for our honeymoon.  Only in those days, just out of law school in the midst of a legal market collapse, Ol’ Robbo couldn’t possibly afford it.  Plus, my phobia about flying back then was so bad that I really didn’t think it would be a good basis on which to start our life journey together.  So we made other plans.

Things are much different now, twenty-five years later.  We have the readies, and although I’ll never actually enjoy flying, I’ve got my fears sufficiently under control through experience that we’ll be fine on the plane.

So we’re looking on this jaunt as a sort of deferred gratification.

Anyhoo, if any friend of the decanter has inside information on things to do and see in Bermuda, I’d be grateful for the information.  We’re absolutely solid for accommodations, but suggestions regarding food and drink, together with touristy activities, would be most appreciated.

Of course, I’ll tell you all about it (mostly) when we get back.

UPDATE: Thankee, friends, for the well-wishes and pro-tips.  Curiously enough, when I asked Mrs. R this evening what she thought she might like to do while we’re there, she said that she’s so worn out that she really just wants to spend a lot of time loafing on the beach. (We’re staying right on it.  I believe you might even be able to get drinks brought to you on the sand.)  Indeed, she even talked about what books she might like to bring with her.

Twist. My. Arm.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

We’ve had boat-loads of rain over the past few weeks in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, and the vegetable division of Ma Nature’s army is responding with a whoop and a holler.  Ol’ Robbo senses that the next ten days to two week will be the crisis point of the year: Can I stay on top of all the weeds?  Or does the jungle once more take over?  (Once we get into the boiling heat of High Summah, Robbo’s will to fight crumbles considerably.)

Alas, the next few weeks are also chock-a-block with other Family Robbo activities, about which more anon, and will leave me little time for machete patrol out in the yard.

We shall see what happens.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo would be remiss in failing to raise a bumper to the Washington Capitals in honor of their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.  Well done, gentlemen!

As I remarked a couple days ago, I really don’t follow hockey at all. (There are banners all over downtown with pictures of the Caps players. I haven’t the faintest idea who most of them are.)  Also, I loathe band-wagoning.  So I won’t pretend to be swept up in the #ALLCAPS mania I’ve seen around here this week. (I only twigged to that slogan yesterday, by the bye.) Nonetheless, it’s nice to see such a joyful and unifying victory in a town that is at daggers drawn about practically everything else.

Speaking to a sport in which I do take a tremendous interest, I like to think that this triumph will also put a little extra wind in the sails of Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals.  To even an casual observer like me, the Caps have had a real monkey on their backs in recent years, perpetually making the playoffs and perpetually collapsing.  Similarly, the Nats have won the NL East four out of the last six years but have been completely skunked in post-season play.  With this example before them, perhaps the Boys of Summah will find that little extra psychological edge.  Similarly with the fans.  One championship will make them that much more hungry for another one, and perhaps a little extra enthusiasm from the Tenth Man will do the trick.  It certainly can’t hurt.

(By the bye, you will note that I am speaking strictly of clinical psychology here and in terms of purely objective speculation.  I do not in any way mean to provoke the Baseball Gods with any whiff of hubris, presumption, or naming of calls. Bas! Bas! Bas! Taboo! °°)

**Circles thrice, tosses salt over shoulder**

Anyhoo, as I say, well done indeed!

°° Spot the quote.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Back in the day Ol’ Robbo had a standing joke with one of his chums of lampooning Jacques Cousteau. In outrageous accents which sounded more like John Cleese’s French K-niggit from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, one of us would suddenly say, “Zah seas!  Ze are die-EEEENG!

To which the other would reply, “But not fast EE-NOOF!!

Oh, we were real cards.

This bit of flotsam recently rose to the surface of Ol’ Robbo’s braim because for the past several days I have been passing an odd protest/exhibition display during my lunchtime walkies, the Ocean Plastics Lab sponsored by our friends at NOAA.  It’s a set of about half a dozen open-sided metal cargo containers full of displays of facts and figures on the amount of junk floating about in the world’s oceans and the harm it is supposedly doing to sea-life.  (Birds and fish getting hung up in plastic bags, dolphins swallowing water bottles, octopi stealing shopping carts – that sort of thing.)

This sea-garbage biznay seems to have become a Thing with the Greenies over the past few months, or at least they’ve started beating the drum about it more vigorously in that time.  On the one hand, I’ve no problem with it.  Unlike airy-fairy Globull Enwarmening theory, this is something that at least has a tangible and measurable cause-and-effect relationship between human action and resultant Bad Things.  If so inclined, you can go look at the damn stuff yourself (and presumably all the marine corpses floating about in it as well).

On the other, I’m pretty sure that I saw a piece within the past couple weeks that points out this is really a Third World problem:  The junk tossed into five specific rivers in Africa and Southern Asia is supposed to account for some gigantic portion of the total oceanic pollution.  So why are busloads of teenaged tourists from Indiana and your humble host being scolded about it down on the National Mall?  Why isn’t NOAA setting up its displays in, say, Chittagong, or gently hectoring the good people of the Congo?

I think the answer to both questions probably lies in the trailer marked “Solutions”.  I haven’t looked in, but I don’t need to be Carnac the Magnificent (boy, am I dating myself!)  to know that what it boils down to is this:  Gimme a dollar, America.

You’ll forgive Ol’ Robbo for his cynicism, but Wealth-Transfer-As-Solution-For-Third-World-Problems hasn’t exactly got a stellar track record.  (The problems tend to remain, while the wealth is only transferred as far as the coffers of the people demanding it.)  So I will politely refuse to get involved so far as sticking my hand in my pocket is concerned.

On the other hand, I will take a step similar to what I did in response to the bombardment of solicitations I was receiving at one point from the Save the Whales people.  After the umpteenth appeal from them, I  wrote back on the pledge card something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for bringing to my attention the heart-wrenching travesty of whale hunting.  Because of your informed concern, I hereby pledge going forward never to personally kill a whale.  You have my promise.”

I never heard from them again.

Likewise, I hereby pledge never to throw any non-biodegradable garbage into the oceans.  Who’s with me on this?

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting the past few days (and maybe the next few, too).  It’s High School Graduation Week here at Port Swiller Manor and unlike her elder sister, who shunned as much of the hoopla as possible, Middle Gel is intent on taking in as many of the activities as she can.  So we had an academic achievement awards ceremony yesterday, I think there’s a parents’ breakfast tomorrow (which I am missing because work), the Big Shoo is Thursday, the school choir has its own awards picnic Friday, and Mrs. R and I are co-hosting the Gel’s  graduation party with another couple on Saturday (not at our house, thank God).

Plus, the Port Swiller In-Laws rolled into town Sunday and are staying for the week.  So there’s that.

Busy times.

Anyhoo, all that aside, I just wanted to note that I saw my first firefly of the season last evening.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned here more than once how fond I am of fireflies and of watching them fool about on the edge of the woods on these warm and humid spring evenings.    Sometimes, when it’s very still, I even fancy I can hear a faint *phah* every time one of them lights off.

Always makes me happy.

Ace was talking about “news fatigue” this afternoon, the 24/7 bombardment of outraged shrieking by politickal pundits and talking heads and how so many people are increasingly sick and tired of it all.  He asks the Moron Horde how they cope with it in their various ways.

Me? Well, one method is to sit on the porch in the evening and look for the fireflies.  Another is to watch the clouds (we may get a thundershower this evening).  A third is to contemplate the trees in their yearly cycles.  A fourth is to read a piece of fiction or listen to some musick.  And of course, all of these involve not watching or listening to the MSM.

See how easy that is?  And I haven’t even got to God or Family yet.

One specific act of defiance:  The local classickal station runs three-minute NPR nooz updates at the top of the hour.  Although I listen to the station all day down the office, I’ve got into the habit of shutting it off for those three minutes, just to preserve my blood-pressure.

That, too, is pretty easy.

Really, they can only get you in the end if you let them.

Or perhaps I should say, “[They] can’t take the sky from me.” **

 

** I hope footnotes are not required for the references.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those friends of the decanter who have a taste for Royal Navy history will of course remember that today is the anniversary of the Glorious First of June.  Confusion to the Jacobins!

In token, Ol’ Robbo decided to dial up a performance of this favorite shanty of Nelson’s Navy:

If you care to follow along, the lyrics:

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies, (alt: “…to Spanish ladies”)
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain; (alt: “…to ladies of Spain;”)
     For we have received orders (alt: “…’re under orders”)
     For to sail to old England,
But we hope in a short time to see you again. (alt: “And we may ne’er see you fair ladies again.”)

(Chorus)
We’ll rant and we’ll roar, like true British sailors,
We’ll rant and we’ll roar across the salt seas; (alt: “We’ll range and we’ll roam all on the salt seas;”)
     Until we strike soundings
     In the Channel of old England,
From Ushant to Scilly ’tis thirty-five leagues. (alt: “34” or “45”.)

Then we hove our ship to, with the wind at the sou’west, my boys, (alt: “We hove our ship to, with the wind from sou’west, boys,”)
Then we hove our ship to, for to strike soundings clear; (alt: “…deep soundings to take;” “…for to make soundings clear;”)
     Then we filled the main topsail (alt: “‘Twas 45 (or 55) fathoms with a white sandy bottom”)
     And bore right away, my boys, (alt: “So we squared our main yard”)
And straight up the Channel of old England did steer. (alt: “And up channel did make.” or “…did steer”)

So the first land we made, it is called the Deadman, (alt: “The first land we sighted was callèd the Dodman”)
Next Ram Head, off Plymouth, Start, Portland, and the Wight; (alt: “Next Rame Head off Plymouth, Start, Portland, and Wight;”)
     We sailèd by Beachy, (alt: “We sailed by Beachy / by Fairlight and Dover”)
     By Fairly and Dungeness,
And then bore away for the South Foreland light. (alt: “Until we brought to for…” or “And then we bore up for…”)

Now the signal it was made for the grand fleet to anchor (alt: “Then the signal was made…”)
All in the Downs that night for to meet; (alt: “…that night for to lie;”)
     Then stand by your stoppers, (alt: “Let go your shank painter, / Let go your cat stopper”)
     See clear your shank painters,
Hawl all your clew garnets, stick out tacks and sheets. (alt: “Haul up your clewgarnets, let tack and sheets fly”)

Now let every man take off his full bumper, (alt: “Now let ev’ry man drink off his full bumper,”)
Let every man take off his full bowl; (alt: “And let ev’ry man drink off his full glass;”)
     For we will be jolly (alt: “We’ll drink and be jolly”)
     And drown melancholy,
With a health to each jovial and true hearted soul. (alt: “And here’s to the health of each true-hearted lass.”)

Ol’ Robbo loves the nautical jargon, but I get an especial nerdy delight from the litany of geographical points as the ship sails up the Channel.

Blog Stats

  • 447,718 hits
June 2018
M T W T F S S
« May    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  
Advertisements