You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2018.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I trust that most all of you are partaking of the same batch of summah heat that has descended on Port Swiller Manor? Mid-90’s here today and closer to triple digits tomorrow and Monday.  Fortunately, at least so far, it’s still pretty dry, and therefore considerably more tolerable than the sauna into which Ma Nature is wont at times to turn this place.

Still, you can imagine Ol’ Robbo was up  mighty early this morning in order to get his yardwork done before it got too nasty out.   Nonetheless, today was a Full Monty (meaning I cut, trimmed, weeded, and pruned everything from the street to the little glade out behind the back gate) and took me about three hours, so I was plenty sweaty by the time I was done.  (My shirt was also spattered with blood because I ripped a finger on some blackberry thorns in my impatience to untangle a stalk from the mower. They really do try to reach out and snag you, ya’ know.)

But no mind.  Done with my chores, showered, changed, and with a tall glass of iced coffee within reach and the shank of the afternoon to idle away, I feel I’m sitting in the catbird seat.  (Speaking of which birds, as it happens there’s one even now in the tree next to the porch mewling away.)

The garden continues to maintain a reasonably civilized appearance. ( I discovered the damned wild grape trying to tangle itself in among the forsythia and hydrangea, so I detangled it, gathered all the vine together that I could, and poisoned the hell out of it.  This is the only way I know to effectively deal with the stuff, as you can never, ever get all its roots out no matter how much you dig.)  Meanwhile, the first of the butterfly bushes are starting to flower.  I haven’t seen any actual butterflies yet, but I expect they’ll be along soon.  I’m especially looking forward to the tiger swallowtails.

One thing I have seen a lot of this year is Madame Hummingbird.  (I’m sure it’s the same hen who has visited the last three or four years now.)  For some reason, she’s hitting the feeder an awful lot more this year – I’ve already had to refill it a couple times.  Could this mean we might soon hear the buzz of baby hummer wings?  I hope so.

Coming indoors after I was done, I glanced at the pile of mail sitting on the kitchen counter.  Among the letters was the Port Swiller Manor half-yearly county property tax bill, the first one we’ve had to pay out of pocket since closing out the mortgage last fall.  Wheeeee!!! Among the assessments I noticed a charge for stormwater.  Hey, where does Ol’ Robbo get a piece of that action?  In fact, we’ve got our landscaper coming out this week to put in a new path and channel to deal with the flooding down one side of the side of the house (and the concurrent erosion) we get every time it downpours.  Further, I’ve spent a lot of dash over the years fighting the fact that every time water gets into the garage, it winds up burbling out across the floor of Robbo’s study down in the basement.  All of this because Port Swiller Manor sits downhill from the street and the county’s feeble (that is to say, nonexistent) efforts at drainage mean that a substantial amount of water comes pouring down the driveway each time it rains. (Yes, I have drains, but with the water usually comes a substantial collection of leaves as well, which can quickly block them up, especially when the rain is heavy.  That’s when it overflows across the front yard and goes spilling down the side.)

But as I say, no mind.  Instead, time for moar iced coffee.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo wasn’t quick enough to hit the mute button on his radio this evening as he navigated traffic home, so he was forced to listen to the NPR top o’ the hour nooz digest.  Sure enough, at the end of the lead story about that Annapolis newspaper shooting, they just couldn’t help intimating that, despite the fact that the shooter is a psychopath with a long-standing grudge against the paper and crime sheet to match it, it’s all somehow Trump’s fault that the guy finally cooked off.  (Had you seen me exiting on to the G-Dub at this moment, you would have observed Ol’ Robbo gesticulating wildly at his radio in disgust.)

Ol’ Robbo really doesn’t mind so much that the mainstream media are propagandists and agitators (or, as the Puppy-Blender likes to call them, “Democratic operatives with bylines”).  My problem is that they’re so damned dishonest and sanctimonious about it, sputtering in institutional indignation whenever they’re called out and claiming that anyone who does so is a knuckle-dragging idiot who Just Doesn’t Understand, and also a neo-Nazi poopy-head.  (When I first heard that Pravda on the Potomac had changed its motto to “Democracy Dies In Darkness”, I thought the story was a parody.)

Of course, years ago, when they held a monopoly, the MSM could get away with this sort of thing with relative impunity.  But since AlGore invented the Innertoobs, of course, all bets are now off.  I wish they’d just accept that fact and adjust accordingly.

So getting back to the story at hand, if NPR’s Jack Speer had finished up with, “We think Trump is partly to blame for this lunatic, not because we have any evidence but because we really just hate Trump,” I’d actually have a wee bit more respect for him (and would have just shrugged instead of gesticulating).


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo supposes that friends of the decanter are up-to-date on the Red Hen/Sarah Huckaby Sanders story? It caught my especial attention in no small part because I went to law school in Lexington, VA, site of the brouhaha, although that was twenty-mumble years ago now and the Hen wasn’t established until some time after I’d left.**

Nonetheless, I wasn’t altogether surprised that something like this might occur even in what most people would imagine to be deep red rural Virginny.  Even back in my day, Metro-Lex contained a certain number of lefty/liberal types, including both some of the faculty at my school and my landlady.  I understand both the school and the town have pulled even farther left since then.  (For example, the drum-beat to erase Robert E. Lee altogether from Washington & Lee University continues.)  Certainly I wouldn’t dream of sending one of the Gels to my old alma mater now.  And the times, alas, seem ripe for this kind of stunt (i.e., Lefties pretending to principled “fighting Nazis” as cover for their extended toddler-like temper tantrum that they lost the ’16 election).

But the good news? It would appear that there is substantial push-back going on.  News broke today that the owner of the place has been forced to resign from her position with Main Street Lexington, the local biznay organization, and it’s anybody’s guess whether the Hen itself will survive financially.  Further, and to me quite significantly, the kind-hearted, non-politickal Mrs. Robbo, upon reading up on what happened, said, “That’s really disgusting.”

I don’t believe she was the only of her very large and mostly silent ilk to reach that conclusion.  Something to consider with the midterms coming up, which is why Ol’ Robbo predicted below that there will not be a Blue Wave this fall.  (We’re not in “Civil War 2”, contrary to the rhetoric of bloggers like even Ace and the Puppy-Blender.  Instead, we’re witnessing the outraged flailings of the Hard Left as it suffers the consequential backlash to its overreach of the last ten years or so.  Ol’ Robbo is convinced the vast majority of the country is not sympathetic to such flailings.)


** In my day, the only two real options for local dining were The Southern Inn and The Palms.  Lloyd’s of Lexington (since defunct) was a popular hang-out for truly terrible food and video games.  And Ol’ Robbo actually used to spend evenings at the Lee Hi Truck Stop during exam time, where I could grab a corner booth, order a country-fried steak dinner (no IHOP back then), and linger over a bottomless cup o’ coffee while I studied.  Nobody ever bothered me.






Since the post immediately below is of a somewhat juvenile nature, let Ol’ Uncle Robbo balance things out a bit by offering a double-knock this evening.

I just finished re-reading Thackeray’s Vanity Fair for, I believe, the third time.  I’ve enjoyed it more and more each time, not so much for the Dobbins/Amelia plot which I find tarsome, but for the other major thread.

So, Gentlemen, if given a “choice” (if you know what I mean, and I think you do), which Brit literary femme fatale would you go with:  Rebecca Sharp, Brenda Last, or Pamela Widmerpool?

(Ladies, feel free to weigh in on these three, too!)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is today National Booger Day, or something?  Did Ol’ Robbo just not get the memo?  Because I observed a noteworthy number of both men and women surreptitiously picking their noses (and, er, worse) while behind the wheel this evening.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the umpteenth time, do not assume that you can’t be seen while driving your car.  Because you can.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today saw Ol’ Robbo’s annual trek out to the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania, there to make the drop-off at Bible-Thumper camp.

This is Ol’ Robbo’s 11th year making said trip.  Nothing much has changed about the mechanics of there and back again, so I’ll just repost what I wrote about the drive last year and leave it at that.

What’s different this time is that we only took the Youngest Gel.  (It’s her 9th year there.)  Middle Gel could have gone for her 11th and last year, but the Young Life group in which she has become increasingly active the last year or two is going on retreat to a lake somewhere in Upstate New York this week, and after a bit of agonizing over it, she decided to go on that trip instead.  (I dropped her off at the charter bus at 5 ack emma this morning.)  She wants to come with me to pick up Youngest in two weeks and say hello to everybody, and there is some talk of possibly serving as a counselor next summah, but the truth is that chapter in the Family Robbo story is now effectively over.

This ties in with what I was musing on in the post below about milestones and changes:  With the Eldest, the groundbreaking theme is most prominent.  But with Middle Gel coming up over the same ground, I get a much more distinct sense of the Back Marker looming somewhere behind her.  I can’t quite hear him yet, but I already know what he’s muttering:  Memento mori.  I’ve a feeling that by the time Youngest comes through, he’ll be positively shouting at me.

Another startling sensation this time around was sitting with Mrs. Robbo and Youngest at the Ruby Tuesday’s in Somerset, PA where we always stop for lunch and suddenly realizing that, come this fall, this is the Family Home Unit for the next two years.  (And as the eldest of three myself, this changing dynamic is all terra incognita to me.  I actually know very little of the day-to-day dynamics of the home of my own misspent yoot after I went away to college.)

Oh, and related?  The lease runs out on Mrs. R’s Honda Juggernaut some time this fall and we’ve begun to discuss what to do.  Mrs. R has made clear that she doesn’t want another SUV because she’s never been comfortable piloting such a beast.  (The dings on the bumpers pay silent testimony to this.)  The disturbing thing? I find myself agreeing with her….because we don’t really need one anymore.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A bit too soggy in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor to do anything useful in the yard this Saturday, so Ol’ Robbo won’t even bother.  Instead, how about a little of this and that?

♦  Middle Gel (and Mrs. R) went to an overnight freshman orientation program this week.  I believe it was when she returned armed with her first semester schedule that I finally realized yes, she’s a college kid now.  Most….discombobulating.  It’s a very different feel from when Eldest went off, perhaps because then one was so caught up in the groundbreaking aspect but now the tempus fugit theme seems more present.  God know what it will be like when Youngest goes……

♦  While Mrs. Robbo and Self were away on holiday, I of course paid no attention whatsoever to any form of “news”.  Catching up upon my return, I was both interested and delighted to see the “OhMuhGawdTrumpHitlerIsTearingInnocentMigrantBabiesFromTheirMothersArms!!” meme launch, soar, and crash in flames, all in about 72 hours or so.  Surely there is doctoral thesis-level material there regarding the insanity of the modern nooz propaganda cycle.

♦ Oh, and if you’re interested, Ol’ Robbo is of the opinion that any “blame” that attaches in this matter lies squarely on the parents who drag their children into such a horrible situation in the first place.  Regardless of what Nancy Pelosi or the USCCB may say to the contrary, it is not a sin to refuse to aid, abet, or encourage this kind of child abuse.  So there.

♦ And one other politickal observation?  There will be no “Blue Wave” this fall.

♦ Ol’ Robbo saw quite a bit of “ink” on the beach this week.  I don’t mean a discreet little doo-dah on an ankle here or there, I mean elaborate designs all up and down legs, arms, and backs.  Call me what you will, but I simply fail to see what somebody could possibly be thinking in going for such a look.  Especially (yes, I’ll say it) a woman.

♦ Has any friend of the decanter seen the new Incredibles movie? Frankly, I’m afraid to.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Fingers crossed that thunderstorms don’t thwart my grilling plans later: what with various comings and goings (Eldest gets home from visiting grandparents this afternoon and both the younger gels are away tomorrow to separate summah camps/retreats), this evening is the only time in the next couple weeks when all five of us will actually be home together for dinner.

UPDATE:  Long-time friend of the decanter Sleepy Beth has a review of The Incredibles 2 which gives Ol’ Robbo much hope.  Go check it out.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It fell on Ol’ Robbo to take Youngest Gel to swim practice this morning.  It’s in the low 70’s and raining on-again/off-again.

Gel: “OhMyGod, it is so freezing! I can’t believe they’re making us swim in this!”

Self: “You know…”

Gel: “I mean, the last time it was like this? My ears were ringing, it was so cold!”

Self: “You know, when….”

Gel: “I am so serious! I mean, it’s practically snowing!”

Self: “You know, when I…”

Gel: “And the pool isn’t even heated!”

Self: “You know, when I was a kid….”

Gel: “Wait…is this when you were in college?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel: “And you were rowing crew?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel: “And there was ice on the river?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel:  “And you had to wade in up to your thighs barefoot?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel: “And there was ice in your hair?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel:  “I’ve heard it before.”

Self:  “Well, it’s true, you know. That’s cold, so you can just suck it up, buttercup.”

Dang kids!  Now they’re taking my Life Lessons right out of my mouth before I can even tell ’em!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Before heading out on his anniversary trip, Ol’ Robbo tried to pre-post a couple of entries here apropos to marriage, in order to cover his extended silence.  (You know, so that the three or four of you who actually pay attention to this blog wouldn’t come and sack Port Swiller Manor in my absence.)

Evidently, I did or did not do something I was supposed to under the harsh bloggy strictures of WordPress, because none of said pre-paid posts ever turned up on the main page.

Oh, well.

Anyhoo, I’ll resurrect the meat of just one, a very short Python sketch over which I have laughed immoderately ever since I first saw it.  (Sorry about the subtitles.)


Incidentally, “Well you can’t change your bloody wife!!” is not a bad line to consider when you’re going through some of the darker patches.  Trust me on this.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo and the Missus just got home from celebrating our 25th anniversary in Bermuda.  My friends, all I can say is that it is a delightful, delightful place.

Friends of the decanter will remember that Ol’ Robbo asked some time last week about things to do and see in the place.  In the end, however, by enthusiastic mutual consent, we wound up simply loafing about for three days.  Uncle Robbo did remember to bring back a few snaps for your entertainment, however.  On reviewing them, I believe you will concur that our decision was a wise one.

We stayed at a private club at Coral Beach, located on the south side of the island at roughly the midpoint.  Here is the view from our balcony:

Room With A View

We ate breakfast here each morning, and by the time we left had collected quite the following of sparrows and kiskadees (a bird Ol’ Robbo had not seen before) through tossing breadcrumbs out on to the floor.  With a full pot of java and that kind of view, why wouldn’t I linger over it?

At night, we left the double-doors open (but not the screens) so as to catch the sound of the waves crashing and the wind rustling in the palms.  The other thing we heard all night was about a bajillion tree frogs, many of which had a call that sounded like a high-pitched sonar “ping”.  Frankly, Ol’ Robbo slept very badly all three nights, but that’s because I always do so when away from home.  I could have taped this particular cacophony and made bank selling it as a soporific.

Eventually, though, we’d toddle down to the beach.  The first thing I must say is that I have never seen sea water quite like this – so clear and so luminously blue.  The second is that for all the talk of “pink” Bermudian sand (and our beach is supposed to be one of the pinkest), you’ve really got to catch it at the right time of day and without a lot of footprints and tiretracks churning it up in order to get this notion.

Life’s A Beach

Anyhoo, as I say, we’d toddle down to the beach after brekkers.  Each day, we’d set up shop under an umbrella and alternate between reading, dozing, plunging into the water (where we saw numerous schools of young Jack Permit fish fooling about), walking laps (the entire beach is about half a mile or so from end to end), and getting the nice man at the bar to bring us G&T’s and Pimm’s Cup.  Tough life.  Tough life.  (Yes, we talked about marriage stuff, too, but I won’t bore you with what is, after all, confidential.)

Actually, it was truly tough in one respect:  Ol’ Robbo, even as he types, is suffering from being thoroughly cooked by the sun.  I tried spraying on sunblock, but evidently my skills are suboptimal, because I’ve come out looking piebald, like Ransom in Perelandra.

By the bye, and still keeping on the topic of the beach, the whole time we were there, we got to watch pairs and groups of the iconic Bermuda Longtail fly up and down the shore.  An intensely beautiful tropicbird that I, of course, have not seen before. I can well see why so much of the local artwork incorporates images of this bird.

The place we were staying is set at the top of a forty foot cliff overlooking the ocean.  (Right at the top are the restored remains of an English gun emplacement from the earliest colonial times.  Idiot Robbo had forgot all about the fact that Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by Jamestown colonists under George Somers after their ship was driven ashore during a hurricane.)  During the day, as I say, we were able to get refreshments down on the beach.  In the evenings, we dined up at the top of the escarpment.

All in all, as I say, delightful.

A few random additional thoughts and observations:

♦  The Bermudians, as a rule, at least so far as I observed, seem to be friendly without fawning.  They were all of them cordial, but one was always aware of a polite but firm barrier.  I’ve no problem with that.

♦  The place is very cramped, and space is at a premium.  The roads are narrow, shoulderless, and wound about, and it’s small wonder that the island-wide speed limit is only 25 mph.  Between that and driving on the left side, Ol’ Robbo would have quickly gone insane behind the wheel had he attempted it.

♦  The place also is as expensive as hell, largely because everything has to be imported.  I’m still gulping a bit about the total damage done from our trip (not that it wasn’t completely worth it).

♦ I had not realized that the only substantial water supply on the island is rainfall, so that each resident is responsible for catching and storing as much said rain as possible via roofs and tanks.

♦  Somebody remarked here previously that landing at Bermuda was like landing on an aircraft carrier.  I dunno about that, since I don’t look out the window until the rubber meets the tarmac, but I can tell you that because of that comment, and because the flight out was rather bumpy, Ol’ Robbo found himself repeatedly muttering under his breath, “Next time, Jack, write a goddam memo!” **

** A nifty-gifty of a spotable quote.

Anyhoo, long story short, we had a lovely time and will definitely go back if and when we can.

UPDATE: My apologies if any friend of the decanter feels this post is a bit too Robin Leach-ish.  Ol’ Robbo did not in any way wish to appear as if sticking on dog about “Champaign wishes and caviar dreams” here.  This was the first vacay Mrs. R and I spent together alone and in some style in God-knows how many years and we worked like dammit to plan, save, and wangle so that we could enjoy it without worry.

By the bye and speaking of which, my favorite Robin Leach quote? “There was one room in her house that was always kept locked.  It was….the garage.”  Anybody spot the quote?



Blog Stats

  • 498,410 hits
June 2018