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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No particular theological insights this week, I’m afraid.

Today’s Mass setting was by Michael Haydn, little brother to Papa, and was good enough to make me think it might have been one of the compositions that his friend Mozart “helped” with when Michael was too blotto to make a deadline.

Only other thing of note today is that I managed to take a toss on the sidewalk heading out afterward, landing on the backs of my hands and one knee, all of which got scraped up reasonably thoroughly.  (I felt a hell of a fool when an officious young whippersnapper came rushing up and asked if I needed assistance.)  Alas, I couldn’t even claim stigmata, as all the bleeding is in the wrong spots.  My fingers are still too stiff for me to tickle the ivories this afternoon, too, which is a pity because I was looking forward to it.

Sheesh, I figured I had another thirty years before I had to worry about randomly keeling over like that.

UPDATE: In answer to the flood of concerned inquiry I’ve already received, no, no, Robbo is not suffering an onset of Lewy body dementia, which is what did the Mothe in.  That was just a rather darkish joke.  Actually, I simply moved to the side of the sidewalk in order to make room for somebody coming the other way (the selfsame officious young whippersnapper, in fact), and lost my footing along the edge.

Also, my fingers loosened up later on this afternoon enough so that I could play through a few of Papa Haydn’s piano sonatas after all.  The mistakes I made (and their name is Legion) were due solely to my rusty sight-reading, not to my injuries.

So all is well.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it’s the first really “springy” Saturday of the year at Port Swiller Manor, with a high expected to get up into the 70’s.  Okay, there’s a front coming and it will be cold and rainy again tomorrow, but still…..

Ol’ Robbo took advantage of his day off yesterday to put down a layer of weed n’ feed on the lawn.  I’m not crazy about this sort of thing, both from environmental as well as personal health concerns (God alone knows what toxins I was breathing in), but it’s been such a very long time and the lawn is such a mess that I felt the need to step in.  My only fear now is that when the stuff has done its job weeding, there’ll be nothing left to feed.  (I plan on an aggressive plan of spot reseeding this year, so at least this will help me see what I’m dealing with.)

Today’s main task was cleaning out the ditch by the road. It seems a bit odd to still be moving big piles of leaves on the cusp of April, but the fact of the matter is that not only do oak leaves take a very long time to come down, they also take a very long time to decompose.  So I was basically dealing with about three months’ worth.  Then there were the sticks.  Mrs. R has long held the belief that anybody whizzing by at 45 mph can still spot a twig the size of a toothpick and will criticize us for it.  My standards for what’s worth picking up are…..less exact.

My forsythia is blooming, and surprise, surprise, although its flowering is hardly hearty, it is less anemic this year than the past couple years.  As I believe I mentioned last year, I think the lack of vigorous bloom is simply the result of Anno Domini, but I’m stuck with it for a while and must make the best of it.  Just as soon as the bloom is finished, I’m going to raze the hedge to the ground and thickly scatter whatever it is that forsythia crave.**

And speaking of yellow things, I’m seeing the first hints of change in the goldfinch plumage.  Once it starts, I’ve noticed it happens very quickly, indeed.  Ol’ Robbo loves him some goldfinch, of which he gets quite a respectable mob each year, probably because I’m the only one in the immediate vicinity (so far as I can tell) who puts out a special thistleseed-feeder for them.

Well, with any luck it’ll stay warm enough later that we can have our first dinner outside of the year.  That would make me very happy, indeed.

**Spot the reference

UPDATE:  Those of you who bet on March 30 as the date on which the rear-seat side-panels come off Robbo’s Wrangler until late next fall may now go to the window and collect your winnings.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel has a softball game this evening.  This morning Ol’ Robbo said to her, “So, you guys are playing Washington & Lee tonight, right?”

“Oh, noooo,” she replied, “They changed that.  It’s now ‘Washington & Liberty High School.”

Cor’ lumme, stone the crows.

I suppose this happened as part of the fallout from that highly-suspicious biznay in Charlottesville a year or two back, and I somehow just missed it.

Well, my politickally-correct pretties, let Uncle Robbo put you some knowledge: You think “Liberty” is a harmless, even good substitute for an unpersoned badman now, but if the country keeps veering farther and farther toward leftist totalitarianism, that word, too, will become double plus ungood wrongthink, a foul rallying point for the hoarders, wreckers, and saboteurs among those of us kulaks who still believe it to be an individual right given to us by God instead of a collective one only to be doled out (or taken away) by the State as it sees fit.

Just see if it doesn’t.

My own Dubyuhnell stopped short of such nonsense for now, mostly I suspect for fear of alumni wrath. But I’ll bet it’s still in the cards somewhere.  I don’t really have much to do with the school anymore since it lurched left, but I still have alumni plates on my car.  If they ever actually do change the school’s name, I’ll keep those plates just by way of flipping them off.

Just see if I don’t.

UPDATE:  I went to the school’s website to find out where it actually is located and was surprised to see it still listed as Washington-Lee.  My first hope was that maybe Youngest had been mistaken, but a further Binging  shows that yes, they voted to change the name, but it only happened a couple months ago.  Feh.  I suppose that school site is in for one hell of a Politburo-style whitewashing, because it’s chock-a-block with the school’s history and traditions, complete with its linkage to my old school.

UPDATE DEUX: And bang on cue, Insty is carrying a story today about the National Guard changing their Minuteman recruiting logo because today’s kidz are too damn stupid and ill-educated to even know what a Minuteman actually was.  (Plus, flint-lock muskets are totes scary!)

The most chilling thing is that these idiocies are planned and deliberate.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It took Ol’ Robbo almost exactly four hours to get home from his office to Port Swiller Manor this evening, a distance of something like 14 miles altogether.  I believe this is a personal record for me.  Certainly I could have walked it fairly comfortably in that time.  I could also have handily driven to Pittsburgh, either of the Elder Gels’ schools, or to the top of the GW Bridge in Noo Yawk (with a pit stop at Delaware House, to boot).

Evidently, a tanker truck flipped over in my quadrant of the Beltway early in rush hour.  The system around here is just adequate enough to handle the ordinary flow of traffic.  When there’s a super-abundance or else a blockage at one of the many choke-points, the whole thing can go sideways in a hurry.

You would think Ol’ Robbo would be a jangle of strained nerves and seething anger after such an ordeal.  Certainly Mrs. R was expecting it when I got home.  But you would be mistaken.

For one thing, by great good fortune, not only had I topped up my gas tank this morning, I also got a large (as opposed to regular) size sammich at Potbelly’s for lunch, and stopped by the restroom before leaving my office.  So there were no especial, ah, material concerns to worry me.

For another, though, as I sat slooooowly making my way toward the river crossing, I found myself aware of great reservoirs of calm and patience inside.  I saw other drivers losing it around me, but for my part, I just watched the very pretty sunset, listened to the local mockingbirds, tried to be as courteous as possible to fellow stuckees, and let it all slide on by.

Our Padre has been hammering the theme of the Prayer Life for some weeks now during his homilies, particularly the importance of morning prayer as a means by which to put things in perspective (God first, others second, self third, to borrow the motto of the Gels’  summah Bible-thumper camp) before confronting the day.  Ol’ Robbo has been working particularly hard on this as part of his Lenten exercises, and it seems to be paying off.  As I say, I remained quite at peace.  And now that I’m home, I feel no inclination whatever to use the experience as an excuse to break my fast and have a “hardship” glass of wine.  (Well, okay, maybe a little inclination.  But still a surmountable one.)

It also probably helps that tomorrow is my off day, that it’s going to be quite warm, and that I get to try out my brand-new spreader to weed and feed the yard, which I’ve been looking forward to for some weeks now.

UPDATE:  Turns out Youngest got caught in the maelstrom, too.  Took her an hour to get home from school.  Took her two hours to get back to school for softball (which, fortunately, just consisted of cheering on the varsity game).  Our Baby’s first traffic jam!  She was incensed after crawling all the way to her usual Beltway crossing to discover that it had been closed and she was detoured back almost to where she had started.  Welcome to Life, kiddo….


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is on a one-night hit-and-run biznay trip to a seekrit location very close to the geographical center of the Lower 48.

I flew out in the wee dark hours this morning, got my biznay taken care of, and got back to the hotel a little while ago for a long, hot shower.  Now, having just scarfed down a Wendy’s double-cheeseburger and fries, and with nothing else on my agenda until I have to catch the homeward flight early tomorrow morning, what am I to do?  (Theoretically, I could have hopped a flight home this evening.  But it would have taken five hours, involved a change of planes at O’Hare, and would have dumped me at home well past midnight.  Forget that.)

Why, blog, of course!

And since I happen to be staying in a Holiday Inn Express, you can take it as read that all facts and opinions contained herein are accurate and especially smart.

♦  Let me just say here (perhaps again) that Dulles is a horrible, horrible airport.  Enormous, ugly, soulless, and the slowest security lines I know.  The only way it scores over Reagan/National is that the parking and pick-up/drop-off areas are both bigger and simpler.  That’s it.  And nobody I knows considers that to be enough of an advantage to make it preferable.

♦  Ol’ Robbo can’t remember the last time he flew without checking a bag through.  (I’m a heavy packer.)  But since I’m only here overnight, this time I just brought along my little, ah, overnight bag.  As I humped it through the airport, I realized I must be about the last person on the planet who doesn’t have such a bag with wheels and a handle attached to it.

♦  I’m also, apparently, the last person who doesn’t use an electronic navigation system while driving, especially in a place new to me.  My colleague seemed downright surprised when I mentioned I’d made it from the airport to his office just by studying a map ahead of time and doing a little bit of dead-reckoning.  I keep telling people that when Skynet goes active, the first thing it’ll do is route everyone using such gadgets straight into ambush, but do they listen? Nooooo…..

♦  Speaking of cars and control, I absolutely point-blank refuse ever, ever to get into a driverless vehicle.  I’d sooner walk.  You can bank it.

♦  Also speaking of cars, my mantra for tomorrow is. “I will NOT forget my sunglasses in the rental again! I will NOT forget my sunglasses in the rental again! I will NOT……”

♦  The news the last couple days has been so full of awesomeness stuffed with chunks of awesome and covered in awesome-sauce  that I’m not sure I can stand it much longer.  The story that made me laugh out loud today, however, was the Senate’s slamming of Alex Occasional-Cortex’s Big Green Terror bill.  That Cocaine Mitch had the cojones to put it up for a vote and that the Donks ran away en masse is the stuff of things which prescription drug companies warn old men should not last longer than four hours.   It’s schaden-licious!

♦  Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, no, no brackets from Robbo.  Basketball interests me not at all, plus I have at best a few twice-removed  connections to any of the schools that might have a serious dog in the fight.

Well, I suppose that’s enough to go on for now.  Make of it what you will.

Home Again, Home Again UPDATE:

Yes, Ol’ Robbo is back safe and sound at Port Swiller Manor again.

♦  One of the marks of a really good airport is that it is laid out and prominently labeled in a way that allows a bleary-eyed stranger to find his way to the rental car return in the dark smoothly and without a fuss.  Ol’ Robbo salutes Kansas City International for being such a place.  (By contrast, I got lost trying to get out of DFW, in broad daylight no less, last time I was there.)

♦  I was especially bleary-eyed this ack emma because I really don’t sleep on travel, especially when I’ve knocked off the sauce.  Instead, I drift in and out of my Spirit World and come up to full consciousness about every hour or so.  It’s a noisy place, my Spirit World, filled with voices, sound-effects, and musick.  Not scary, but terribly, terribly complicated.

♦  I almost always do crosswords to wile away the time on my flights.  This morning I found myself furiously digging through the lumber room of my mind trying to remember the name of Alf’s home planet.  (It’s Melmac.) I wasted huge amounts of time before I finally remembered it, but after all that’s supposed to be the point.  On the other hand, since I hang around Quiltbabe’s place so much, “units for purchasing yarn” don’t even slow me down.

Well, enough of this.  Mission accomplished.  Now I’ve got a serious date with a dog and some nap time.






Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo caught bits and pieces of the story of the Iranian Christian convert turned down for asylum by the Brits on the grounds that Christianity is not a peaceful religion, but the story turns out to be even more horrible than I had thought. (Warning, UK Daily Mail link)

The Home Office turned down a Christian convert’s bid for asylum in an ‘unbelievably offensive’ letter quoting bloodthirsty passages from the bible to prove Christianity is not a religion of peace.

The Iranian national claimed asylum in 2016, but was turned down, with Home Office officials saying his conversion from Islam was ‘inconsistent’ with his claim Christianity was a peaceful religion – by highlighting violent passages from the bible.

In the refusal letter six passages are listed and a claim is made that Revelations is filled with ‘images of revenge, destruction, death and violence.’

Un. Bulievable.

The Home Office seems to be getting a lot of flak for this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision is reversed.  But it’s only a check: They’ll be back at it again soon enough.

Meanwhile, on a much happier note, our Padre confirmed today what I’ve been noticing with my own eyeballs for some weeks now:  Attendance at our Traditional Latin Mass has been growing steadily.  Apparently it’s the same with the other Masses as well.  Thank Heaven I have such a strong parish.  I sometimes get depressed when I see what people are shrieking at each other over social media.  Makes it seem as if the whole world is going to hell.  But then I see something like this and my hope is restored.

And speaking of Hope, I’m sure friends of the decanter are aware that tomorrow is the Feast of the Annunciation. J.R.R. Tolkien always insisted his Lord of the Rings was not allegorical.  On the other hand, it’s no accident that he chose March 25 as the date for the destruction of the Ring and the downfall of Sauron.

And this gives me an excuse to repost one of my favorite paintings, The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937).  I like it because his rather non-traditional rendering of the Angel’s appearance is very close to the images of such manifestations as described in the writings of C.S. Lewis, particularly in his Ransom Trilogy.  I don’t know if Lewis knew Tanner’s painting, but I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised.   Anyway, enjoy!

Mrs. Robbo’s iPhone developed some kind of internal problem and stopped working this morning.  Because of scheduling issues, it fell upon Self to toddle off to the Apple Store at the mall to see what could be done about it.  I took Youngest Gel along to act as guide and interpreter.  (She served as chauffer as well.)

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been to the mall in ages for a very good reason:  I can’t stand them. Especially when, like today, they’re full of people milling about in random, entropic shoals and continually either bouncing off of one or blocking one’s path.  It brings out the misanthrope in me.

As for Apple, that place gives me the creeps just from the sheer volume of information they must be sucking in every time a customer brings a gadget to them.  Also from the long con on the technology they offer.  Even the Gel knows it:  “They rig iPhones to break just when the new models come out so you have to buy one, don’t they?”  she said.

Yes, yes they do.

Bringing the Gel along was an inspiration, by the bye, and was the only thing that let me succeed in getting Mrs. R’s  problem resolved:

Technician: “Okay, now go ahead and enter your Apple ID…”

Self: “My whu-?”

Gel: “Give me that..” [Types in relevant code]

She also showed me and explained in words of one syllable how to backup all of Mrs. R’s data into “the Cloud” and then bring it back once the phone was working again, something that would have been far beyond my own skills.

I bought her some complicated strawberry drink and a cup full of pretzel bites after we were done with genuine gratitude.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This first weekend of spring, which is cold and very windy ’round Port Swiller Manor, finds Ol’ Robbo feeling he’s on the verge of sickyness.  So I believe I will give messing about in the yard a miss today. The wisteria can certainly wait to be cut back.

Instead, I will pass on a little bit of hard-earned wisdom:

During the muddy season, you can either have a dog or you can have clean floors.  Never both.  Accept this and you will obtain inner peace. Oooommmmmm……….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As promised (or threatened) below, Ol’ Robbo has a bit of this and that bouncing around inside his braims at the moment:

♦  As I meant to mention, yesterday was the anniversary of the birth of the great Johann Sebastian Bach in 1685.  Robbo considers ol’ Johnny Bach to be the single greatest musickal genius in history, and I’ll fight anybody in the octagon who says otherwise.

♦  This reminds me that I need to go back and have another go at Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach: Music In The Castle of Heaven.  I started it some time in the last year or two but found I wasn’t in the mood for JEG’s blend of wandered history, sight-seeing, and ego.  He also makes mention of a scene from the movie “Amadeus“.  Surely Gardener knows that this movie contained virtually not a single accurate biographical fact about Mozart?

♦  Another writer who appreciated Bach was the late Douglas Adams.  His Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – his best book IMHO, although the ending still puzzles me – contains a long, drawn out, back-handed compliment to the Master.  This lets me rant again about what has always frustrated me about Adams, namely his ability to see God’s thumbprints all over the Universe but refusal to acknowledge what he was looking at.  The book speaks wonderfully to the intersection of mathematics, musick, and the natural order of things.  Did Adams suppose this intersection a mere accident?

♦  Speaking of Adams, I re-watched the Beeb’s old Hitchhiker’s Guide series recently.  I hadn’t seen it in quite some time and found it really rather good, if you can get past the shoe-string budget special effects.  I refuse to see the more recent movie version of the story, as I consider it to be heretical. UPDATE:  Oh, and it’s on Ol’ Robbo’s “bucket list” as the kids like to say that I will someday dress up as Zaphod Beeblebrox for a Halloween party.

♦  Also speaking of movies, I see where a third Bill & Ted installment is in the works, “Bill & Ted Get The Early-Bird Special” or whatever.  I dunno…..I love the original (in fact I own it) for its good-natured dopiness and modest ambitions.  The second one tried way too hard for my taste.  This one?  I assume it’s a complete vanity job for Winter and Reeves, so I hope they’re just going to have fun with it.

Why is it there’s nothing out these days except reboots, sequels, and comic book movies?  (I know the answer, actually.)

♦  I watched “Cool Hand Luke” the other evening.  Now there’s a movie for you, even if I don’t care that much for Paul Newman.  ‘Preciatin’ over here, boss!

♦  One thing I don’t appreciate is the sudden call from the Left to destroy the rules surrounding Presidential elections – national popular vote, abolition of the Electoral College, lowering the voting age, and so on. Of course, it’s all part of the plan to bring about collectivist totalitarianism (and I’m not being hyperbolic here but dead serious), but I wonder why now.  Is it because they think they’ve reached a threshold of ignorance, envy, and greed (to say nothing of fraud) amongst the voters that warrants putting these things in play?  Or is it a panicked Hail Mary response to the set-backs they’ve received from OrangeManBad and a perception that their powers have about peeked for the next generation?  I hope for the latter but fear the former.

♦  Oh, and thank Heaven I do not, never have, and never intend to have a Twitter account.  Pure. Crazy. Poison.

So that’s that.  After a thunder and hail storm rolled through here late this afternoon, Port Swiller Manor ought to get a pretty good look at that big Full Moon this evening.  Think I’ll go look for it……

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy first full day of Spring!

Spring is Ol’ Robbo’s second favorite season of the year.  Fall beats it out in my mind mostly because it leads into winter instead of summah (which I loathe), but omitting this consideration it’s a damn near-run thing between them.  I think my very favorite spring days are those during which the trees seem to be getting greener literally moment by moment.  Couple that with a warm breeze and gentle off-and-on showers and I’m in paradise.

Of course, Ma Nature decided to honor the occasion this year by serving up a nor’easter in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  No snow, but a cold, steady, sometimes hard rain all day and a goodish bit of wind to boot.  Ol’ Robbo actually likes this kind of weather (it didn’t stop me taking my walk at lunch time),but he doesn’t care to have to commute in it.  Took me an hour and a half to get home this evening, and on arrival I had to clear off all the fallen maple blossoms that were clogging the field drains and flooding the driveway.

Also, we don’t get to enjoy the super king kamaya-maya full moon going on tonight.  Too bad.

I had planned to do a long, rambling this n’ that post tonight, but now I’m too tired, so consider yourselves reprieved for the moment.  It can keep until tomorrow.


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March 2019