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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all continue to have a joyful and prayerful Christmastide.  Don’t forget that it doesn’t actually end until The Epiphany, January 6.  Ol’ Robbo will be checking up to see if anyone is sneakily taking down ornaments prematurely.

As for Christmas Eve/Day itself, things around Port Swiller Manor proved to be quiet.  It’s nice having all the Gels home for a bit, and was especially nice to see them all in church together on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo found he didn’t have the energy to stay up for Midnight Mass this year, so I crawled out of bed early on Christmas Morning to hit the early Mass.  I then scuttled home thinking I would be met with impatience and censorious looks plus itchy fingers on bows and ribbons only to discover that all the Gels were….still asleep!  My, have the times changed.

Christmas Dinner was the usual roast beef and Yorkshire pud plus two veg, except that when I went to the store Christmas Eve I discovered they had not a single stalk of asparagus in the place.  We had to give peas a chance instead.  We were joined as usual by my cousin, an elderly widow who lives out in the Shenandoah.  As usual, being a member of the Enlightened Secular Progressivist Brigade in good standing, she was both puzzled and somewhat alarmed by some of the traditionalist views thrown out by the Gels on various subjects, but happily we did not descend into actual politickal debate, heated or otherwise.

We then packed up the Honda Juggernaut and drove down to Wintergreen to meet up with by brother and his family for a couple nights.  We rented a big house with a nice view not in the resort itself but a little farther along the ridge line.  Since Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been on skis since high school, and since the weather was pretty dank, I forbore from any actual snow-related activities, although one afternoon my brother and I hiked up a pretty steep hill on the Appalachian Trail in order to take in the view and pat ourselves on the backs that we didn’t give up until we reached the summit.  Otherwise, I watched a lot of college football.  Also, although I’m not really a beer guy myself, I can heartily recommend a visit to the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company if you ever find yourself in the area.  (The link only goes to the Wiki entry.  Sorry, but I can’t seem to raise the homepage at the moment.)

And speaking of hiking, I came away from our relatively high-up jaunt hacking like a three-pack-a-day guy, with a clogged throat and burning lungs.  Two days later and I’m still at it.  In fact, they were the same damned symptoms with which I came down after physically exerting myself on the High Prairie out in Wyoming a year or two ago, symptoms so bad that I drew a mild, humorous rebuke from a federal judge because I couldn’t keep them under control in his courtroom. Evidently, there is some gunnegshun between high-altitude workouts and this kind of respiratory ailment.  Bleh.

As for the rest, we’ll take it easy the next day or two and then start preparing for some light entertaining for New Year’s.  The Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family will be staying over, as usual, plus we have a few other guests tentatively scheduled to drop by for “London New Year”, meaning we can get rid of them relatively early on in the evening.

After that?  Well, that rather depends on what Uncle does about his budget reconciliation.  This coming week may see the long-meditated grand reorganization of Ol’ Robbo’s library if I find I have sufficient time on my hands.


“Adorazione Dei Pastori” – Antonio da Correggio (1530)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

  • Luke 2:1-20

Isn’t it a curious thing that Ol’ Robbo can’t read this passage without tearing up?

A very merry Christmas to all friends of the decanter!  God bless you all!  Bumpers all round and gunn’ls under! Here’s three times three and no heel taps!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Did you see the coverage over at Ace’s place the other day about the SJW snowflake who doesn’t want to be wished “Merry Christmas” because it’s a reminder that the holiday -whatever it’s become in this post-modernist nightmare world – is still rooted in Christianity and that’s doubleplus ungood wrongthink triggering to her?

We get closer to Christianity as Hate Crime every single day.

As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo pointedly says “Merry Christmas” whenever such seasonal exchange occurs.  Yes, it is Christmas.  It’s a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, which is exactly the reason for being merry in the first place.  The person to whom I wish it is free to take it or leave it as they see fit, but I am not about to lose my identity just to humor them.

That’s in part why I always wear the ashes on Ash Wednesday, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Please be advised that this blog has been deemed an essential service by the Fed’ral Gubmint and will remain open during the current shutdown.

Thank you.

Ol’ Robbo was out yesterday afternoon dealing with the latest crop of fallen leaves.  We have a single large oak out front.  Unlike the maples, which throw their entire compliment in a relatively short time, this oak drops its leaves only gradually and can take as long as five or six weeks to get done.  This is annoying not only because it looks sloppy, but also because said leaves are large and perfect for clogging field drains.

Speaking of which, as I was treading gently across the lawn, I simply could not believe how completely saturated with rain it was.  When a freakish little monsoon hit later in the afternoon, the water simply and literally rolled right down the hill.  Made me think of the Mud March.

Not much else to tell except for the fact that as I sit here I can see among other denizens four separate pairs of cardinals hanging around the feeder.  Is that a sufficient quorum to elect a new Pope?

UPDATE: Of tangential relationship, Self and the Elder Gels decorated the Christmas Tree this afternoon while pom-poming along to “The Nutcracker”.  Good times.

UPDATE DEUX: NOVA Curmudgeon’s comment prompted me to look up the meaning of “marcesent”.  Per Wiki:

Marcescence is the retention of dead plant organs that normally are shed.  Trees transfer water and sap from the roots to the leaves through their vascular cells, but in some trees as autumn begins, the veins carrying the sap slowly close until a layer of cells called the abscission layer completely closes off the vein allowing the tree to rid itself of the leaf. Leaf marcescence is most often seen on juvenile plants and may disappear as the tree matures. It also may not affect the entire tree; sometimes leaves persist only on scattered branches.  Marcescence is most obvious in deciduous trees that retain leaves through the winter. Several trees normally have marcescent leaves such as oak (Quercus),  beech (Fagus) and hornbeam (Carpinus), or marcescent stipules as in some but not all species of willows (Salix).  All oak trees may display foliage marcescence, even species that are known to fully drop leaves when the tree is mature. Marcescent leaves of pin oak (Quercus palustris) complete development of their abscission layer in the spring.   The base of the petiole remains alive over the winter. Many other trees may have marcescent leaves in seasons where an early freeze kills the leaves before the abscission layer develops or completes development. Diseases or pests can also kill leaves before they can develop an abscission layer.  Marcescent leaves may be retained indefinitely and do not break off until mechanical forces (wind for instance) cause the dry and brittle petioles to snap.

Makes sense.

All this talk of oaks leads Ol’ Robbo’s addled braims back to the South Texas of his misspent yoot.  There we had live oaks, which had small, rounded leaves and didn’t drop them in the fall or winter, but only when the new leaves came out.  I remember that the wood was heavy and long-burning, and that one didn’t put oak logs on the fire until it was firmly established.  (One started with juniper kindling and mesquite logs.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Winter Solstice!

It is one of life’s little ironies that today of all days we’re enjoying a 24 hour heat wave here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, with the high temperature briefly spiking up into the 60’s before dropping back tomorrow to the 40’s where it has been lurking for some time.  The porch door is open and the cats are quite happy to be able to wander in and out at leisure.

I suppose I should be shifting myself to work on some Christmas preparations, but the truth is that I’d rather just loll in the mildness today.

One of the things that I can grasp intellectually yet still feel somehow isn’t right intuitively is the way in which summer and winter set in after the respective solstices have been reached.  You’d think December 21 would be at the heart of the cold and June 21 at the heart of the heat, not their beginnings.

Maybe this is just my way of complaining to myself that we’ve still got January and February to get through, that by all accounts it’s going to be pretty bad this year, and that for once Ol’ Robbo is tired of winter before it’s even really got itself established.

Speaking of the weather, some while back Verizon chucked The Weather Channel from its cable lineup and instead installed AccuWeather.  This has made Ol’ Robbo very happy, as AccuWeather is what TWC used to be twenty years ago – Old School, straight up reporting and forecasting with no “special interest” programming, no sanctimonious hectoring, and no Jim “Mimbo” Cantore.  Making weather geekery fun again!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Middle Gel got home from school this morning safe and sound.  As Eldest arrived last weekend, we are now back up to full capacity here at Port Swiller Manor.

On the practical front, I anticipate a dearth of hot water, piles of dirty dishes and clothes, and elaborate maneuvering necessary to get out of the driveway.

On the more existential front, I am quite interested to see what shifts and changes work their way through the family dynamics, now that we’ve got multiple college kid veterans home for a few weeks. (Both the Elder Gels were home earlier this semester because of Hurricane Florence, but that was only for a long weekend and it felt like they were gone before they even got here.)

And speaking of college kid veterans, I’m going to go ahead and brag here:  Eldest sailed through her first semester as a junior at her new school with straight A’s.  We don’t have all of Middle Gel’s first semester freshman grades yet, but we have most of them and she’s right on the line for making Dean’s List.  Well done, indeed, the both of them.

UPDATE: Huzzay! Huzzah! We learned today that not only did Middle Gel make it, she did so comfortably!  She’s both somewhat surprised as well as delighted.  I’m not surprised.  I am delighted, tho’.

So on we go.  I believe Eldest is taking an intro to psych course next semester to get her required science credits out of the way.  That ought to be hy-larious. I can already envision the indignant calls of “What is wrong with these people??!!”  (I have already discussed with her one of my long-standing questions.  Given that all psych majors are crazy, does becoming one make them crazy? Or do only crazy people become psych majors?  The World wonders.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that Pope Francis is proposing to mess about with the Our Father, retranslating the line “And lead us not into temptation” to “Abandon us not when in temptation”.

The latter, according to this article and others, is linguistically a better fit with the original Greek, and supposedly has been adopted in the French and Spanish.  I wouldn’t know.  The Latin as used in my missal is et ne nos inducas in tentationem, and the current English is a good literal translation of that.

Substantively, I understand the argument to be that since God is the Ultimate Good, He’d never lead us into temptation anyway,  therefore, it’s silly and maybe even bad to ask Him not to.

This may be, but why is the same reasoning not also applicable to the concept of abandonment?  He never turns His back on us (hard as that may be to believe sometimes), we turn ours on Him.

The Douay-Rheims Bible, incidentally, contains this note on the line: Lead us not into temptation”: That is, suffer us not to be overcome by temptation. I like that both because it recognizes that we’re the ones potentially at fault and is also a plea for His help to save us from ourselves.  Stepping in, as it were, instead of turning away.

If he feels compelled to fool with a 500 year old text, why doesn’t Franky just go with that?

UPDATE: Needless to say, I am not a theologian, nor do I play one on teevee, nor have I stayed recently at a Holiday Inn Express.  So what do I know?

Also, sorry about the weird formatting. Cut n’ Paste sometimes is not my friend.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A steady rain here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  I believe I heard on the radio last evening that with this additional dump, 2018 becomes the wettest year on record in these parts.

I blame ManBearPig.

Anyhoo, other than filling up the bird-feeders (which Ol’ Robbo is not too proud to do in his robe and jammies), plus looking out every now and again to make sure leaves haven’t clogged up the field drain out front and flooded the driveway, I’ve got nothing today.

As it happens, Netflix sent me “Lawrence of Arabia” this week.  I’m considering tucking myself in under a blanket and watching it, although that’s really the sort of thing that’s best done when you have the house to yourself.  In the meantime, I’ll get back to rereading my Bruce Catton.  Right now, Grant is still hung up trying to figure out a way to get his army below Vicksburg.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it seems The Weekly Standard has slid beneath the waves.

Lynx-eyed friends of the decanter may have noticed that Ol’ Robbo threw TWS off his blogroll (along with NRO, The Telegraph, and several other nooz and opinion sites) some time ago.

If the election of OrangeManBad has done nothing else, it has ripped the masks completely off the Establishment “Conservatives”, revealing them for the uniparty corporate globalists that they really are, with their allegiance pledged to the power structure instead of to the people on whom it is imposed.

Feh.  I’ve got a goodish number of books from back in the day by Beltway types such as George Will, Peggy Noonan, Jonah Goldberg, and TWS’s own Matt LaBash. I used to look up to such people as champions against Leviathan, but the past two years have really opened my eyes.

(Not that I’ll toss their books, since Ol’ Robbo cannot abide tossing books, but at least I’ll banish them to my “Not likely to read again” shelves.)

Anyhoo, good riddance.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will recall Ol’ Robbo’s mention the other day that Youngest Gel was starting her Driver’s Ed road work?

Well, she passed.  She gets her license tomorrow and it goes into effect Saturday.

Ol’ Robbo is pretty sure he’s not quite ready for this…..


** The album cover seemed particularly appropriate.  She makes that face a lot.

UPDATE:  An conversation.

Youngest: So where is my car?

Self:  So where is your GPA?

Check. Mate.

For the moment, anyway…….


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December 2018