You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2019.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’m slapping up this post as a place-holder just as the game is starting.  Honestly, no matter what the outcome tonight, Ol’ Robbo is tremendously proud of his beloved Nats.  Never, even as late as yesterday, did I imagine we’d get this far this year.

Back later.  Going to go watch with Middle Gel, who’s home for a day or two.  In the meantime, what else is there to say exept:

GO, NATS!!!!!!

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo hasn’t had a chance to update until now.  I was far too, um, tired squiffy last evening to give any coherent reaction.  So let me just go ahead and get this off my chest:

NATS WIN!!!!!!



What a truly amazing and high-quality series it was, capping off a truly amazing playoff run which came as a complete shock to just about everybody, I think.  And a tip of the cap to the Astros, who played a heck of a series themselves.  This was seven games of almost perfectly matched teams, and we just happened to have done a slight bit better when we needed to.  I know they’re disappointed, but they have no reason to be ashamed.

And a glass of wine with all y’all for your kind words of support.  Old-timers here will know that Ol’ Robbo has been an enthusiastic fan of the Nats since they first came to town in 2005, and I’ve stuck with them through a lot of lean times – the series of 100+ loss seasons, the “Natnals” fiasco, the post-season self-destruction.  It’s good to finally savor going all the way.

Speaking of such things, I noticed a fair number of people walking about Your Nation’s Capital today in Nats gear.  Most of it looked suspiciously new.  I don’t mind Johnny-come-latelies, because everybody has to start somewhere.  I will mind it if they drop off again the next time we hit a flat patch.  (Which, of course, we will.)

By the bye, it was utterly enjoyable to watch the game with Middle Gel, who has become quite the fan herself.  And because we were “bonding”, Mrs. Robbo couldn’t say word one of criticism about us yelling at the teevee.  Ha!

Well.  What else is there to say except:

Pitchers and catchers report in three and a half months!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This weekend’s big – and long anticipated – activity was a trip by Mrs. R and Self down to Sweet Briar College, there to see a staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“.  Eldest Gel is playing Robin Starveling, the tailor, one of the rude mechanicals bent on putting on a hapless “play-within-the-play” to celebrate the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.   It isn’t a lot of lines, but there’s a good deal of physical humor involved among the bumbling dopes, and Eldest also got to do a good bit of stage biznay when she represented “moonlight” via a lantern, some thorns, and a small toy dog.   She got a number of laughs with her antics, and overall a good time was had by all.

This was the second time this professor had put on MSND in his long tenure at SBC and the first time he has ever repeated a show.  The last time he produced it was in October, 1990.  The part of Starveling the tailor in that production?  None other than Mrs. Robbo.  (And I myself played Lysander.)  We were all able to get together with the director after the show, catch up on things, and have a nice chin-wag about how things work out sometimes.  We were also joined by Eldest and by her friend who played Lysander this time.  The latter apparently had been quite nervous about performing in front of me, but I was able to assure her (truthfully) that she did a great job and brought back many pleasant memories.   As I say, a good time.

UPDATE:  No, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t really see how his beloved Nats are going to manage to take two off the ‘Stros in Houston again.  But you never know…….

UPDATE DEUX:  Ol’ Robbo didn’t actually watch the game last evening because I was too worn out from our lightning trip to SBC and back.  I gather from reading up on it that the Trump family went to the game and were booed by the crowd, most of whom of course were not regular Nats fans but instead the preening elites who can afford World Series tickets.   This may have played well amongst other preening elites, but it seems to have pretty much destroyed any goodwill the Nats had among genuine baseball fans across the country.  Nice going, Sparky.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to be tied up with an event all weekend (one to which I have looked forward for quite some time and about which more anon), so I decided to take advantage of my day off to attend to some fall chores.

We’ve reached that point in the year where the fallen leaves begin to be an issue so I was out at first light late this morning raking the driveway.  As I’ve mentioned frequently, we live on a pretty busy street and our driveway slopes down away from it toward the garage.  A layer of leaves, especially a wet layer of leaves, can be as slippery as ice.  The thought of Mrs. Robbo or of Youngest Gel trying to make the necessary jack-rabbit left turn to get out, and then losing seconds fishtailing in the face of oncoming traffic, especially in the dark, regularly fills Ol’ Robbo with a sense of horror.  Thus, I am somewhat fanatical about trying to keep the drive clear.

I also cut back my peonies today.  Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo annually muses that he really ought to dig up and divide out his peony root balls, and, when the time comes, just as consistently decides to put it off till next year.  Well, things haven’t changed.

The hummingbird feeder is now emptied, washed, and put away.  I actually haven’t seen the critters for a couple of weeks now, so I think it’s safe to assume they’ve cleared out for the year.

It occurred to me as I was hauling leaves out into the woods behind our back gate that this is the time of year when it’s not a bad idea to start keeping a weather eye out for bears, as they do get into the neighborhood every so often.  Eldest actually spotted one four or five years ago as she was swinging on our rope swing out back.  She called me at work.  I called Animal Control.  They informed me that they “don’t do bears”.  The next day I read that this one (it must have been the same) killed somebody’s dog the next ‘burb over from us.  (I must remember to mention this to Mrs. R, as she takes Decanter Dog on walks around here almost daily.)

Other than moar leaves, I don’t see that there’s much else left to deal with this fall.  Barring a sudden heat wave, I doubt the lawn will need another cut, and all the garden pruning is a late winter/early spring thing.  One remaining issue is the four ferns on our porch.  We brought them inside and put them in our mawster bawth last year, but it turned out to be something of a squash.  They recently built a new greenhouse over at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and Mrs. R is trying to find out if maybe we can drop them there for the winter.  For the Children, you know.

So that’s that.


Ol’ Robbo would be remiss without congratulating the Spacemen of Houston for defeating the Yankees and making their way to the World Series.

I confess that I really haven’t followed the ‘Stros at all.  (I’m very much Division-centric in my tracking habits.)  My only exposure is that every time stat graphics are put up for this or that category, they always seem to include some monster number or other for Houston.  (Recently I saw their run-differential number and about fell out of my chair.)  I gather that they’re a pure powerhouse kind of team.

Whelp, it’s gonna be interesting.  From what I’ve seen, pretty much everybody has Robbo’s beloved Nats as the underdogs.  But nobody seems to be suggesting an outright blowout.  So we’ve got that going for us.

An interesting dynamic:  If the Yankees had won, I believe we would have seen a lot of nation-wide rallying behind the Nats in a David and Goliath (or for you kids, Luke and Vader) story line.  I don’t get that same vibe going into the Nats/Astros series.  Like the Dallas Cowboys before them, the Astros have been reaching for an “America’s Team” identity.  The Nats?  Well, although there’s nothing the slightest bit politickal about the team or its fans, we do come from the Swamp, which is – to put it delicately – less than popular these days.   Also, most of the national coverage I’ve seen of the playoffs so far emphasizes the mistakes the Dodgers and Cardinals made in losing, not the effort or talent behind the Nats’ victories.  So I’m guessing the majority of MLB fans who actually care one way or the other will probably be rooting for the boys from Houston.

We shall see what happens.

UPDATE:  Well, well, well!  Robbo’s beloved Nats returning after taking the first two off the ‘Stros in their own park was the very last thing Ol’ Robbo expected.  Is it just possible that they might finally start getting some national recognition and respect?  (Even now, most of the chatter seems to be about how the ‘Stros lost,  rather than how we won.)

Thank Heaven today is a travel day.  I stayed up to watch both games (plus all the post-game stuff) which meant not getting to bed until well past midnight two nights in a row.  Since I have to get up shortly after 5 ack emma for work, you can well imagine that I’m running pretty much on fumes at the moment.  And speaking of watching, Ol’ Robbo will admit that during the regular season Mrs. R has certain grounds for legitimate complaint about my hollering at the teevee.  I think, however, that I ought to get a special dispensation under the current circumstances.

Well, we’ll see what happens going forward.  No way will I provoke the Baseball Gods by getting cocky.  Instead, I will maintain a guarded optimism.  If we can keep playing the way we have, I think we at least have a real shot.

What else is there to say, except


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Fans of the great James Thurber may remember the Get-Ready Man from his comic story “The Car We Had To Push”:

The Get-Ready Man was a lank unkempt elderly gentleman with wild eyes and a deep voice who used to go about shouting at people through a megaphone to prepare for the end of the world.  ‘GET READY! GET READ-Y!” he would bellow.  “THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!”  His startling exhortations would come up like summer thunder, at the most unexpected times and in the most surprising places.  I remember once during Mantell’s production of “King Lear” at the Colonial Theatre, that the Get-Ready Man added his bawlings to the squealing of Edgar and the ranting of the King and the mouthing of the Fool, rising from somewhere in the balcony to join in.  The theatre was in absolute darkness and there were rumblings of thunder and flashes of lightning offstage.  Neither father nor I, who were there, ever completely got over the scene.

(As an aside, Ol’ Robbo has been rereading this and Thurber’s other stories for about forty years now and they still make me laugh every time.)

I bring this up because the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor seems to have produced its own version of the Get-Ready Man, although one quite at odds with Thurber’s in many details.  She’s a youngish middle-aged woman who lives round the block from us and is, I believe, married to a doctor.   Her eyes are slightly otherworldly rather than wild, and her voice melodious rather than bellow-y.  She also dresses quite smartly.  On the surface, she looks like a typical NoVA suburban tennis-playing, Benz-driving, wine mom.

Twice now, however, she has appeared, as suddenly as summer thunder, to tell us that “with all the awful things happening these days” (she doesn’t specify and I didn’t ask), she feels that Something Terrible is about to happen.  She then urges that we pray to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation.

The first time she actually got into the house before we realized what she was about.  (We initially thought she might be looking for a lost pet, or else was just new to the neighborhood and saying “hi”.)  The second time, a week or two ago, she glided up behind me while I was coiling up a garden hose in the front yard and started talking before I even realized she was there.  (Curiously, when I assured her of my Faith and my daily prayer, she seemed less than pleased.  I wondered if “Whore of Babylon” might have been lurking at the back of her mind.)

Ol’ Robbo has long thought that trying to predict the End Times is a mug’s game, so I don’t really give it much thought, and instead just do my best to shlemp along day in and day out.  It’s still a bit creepy, however, to get accosted by somebody who seems so absolutely convinced that they’re right round the corner.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Recently somebody gave Mrs. Robbo a sweet-briar rose cutting, one that actually came from one of the bushes on the Sweet Briar College campus.  (I’m not sure if this was some kind of alumnae thing or else just somebody being nice.  The original plants from which this cutting descended date back to about 1920.)

Ol’ Robbo loves it when plants come to Port Swiller Manor with some sort of association or history about them.  (Of our other five roses, three are former Mother’s Day presents from me to Mrs. R and two come from my parents’ old house up to Maine.)

The thing didn’t look like much when it arrived, but I set it on the porch and dully watered it anyway.  This past week I noticed it had thrown out new leaves, so I planted it out in the bed this morning.  (I figure it’s probably another three or four weeks before I need to worry about frost, which should be plenty of time for the thing to establish itself.)  We’ll see how it does.

It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realized just how large rubiginosa can get.  If this one thrives, I’m either going to have to be vigilant about pruning, or else move some things around.  But we can leave that until the spring.

And speaking of roses,, the one I planted out last week unprotected shows no sign so far of being eaten by beasties.  That’s very encouraging, although I’m not yet ready to take the wire off the other ones.  The deer ’round here are starting to fatten up for winter and I notice trees and bushes being stripped of leaves that are otherwise left alone over spring and summah.  Why give them any more temptation?  I also haven’t seen Mr. Groundhog lately and he’s always a wildcard in these matters.

BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES UPDATE:  Youngest is out working this evening at the snack bar of our local little league field.  The snack bar is supposed to be manned by parents of players on a volunteer (that is to say, non-paying) basis.  The Gel is being paid some serious coin by a pair of such parents who don’t want to have to blow their Saturday night.

I don’t mind that she’s bringing in the jimmy-o-goblins, but I must say that I can’t think much of the people who bought their way out of their league participation. (This is the second time the Gel has landed such a gig, and from a different family.)  Does that seem a bit strange to you, too?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Maybe six months ago, our neighbors got a dog, some kind of little collie/mutt.

Last weekend, while laboring in the Port Swiller vineyards, Ol’ Robbo noticed the family lining up in procession in their backyard and solemnly, sadly, walking toward the woods behind our houses, headed by Dad carrying a suspiciously pet-sized bundle in his arms.

I speculated to Mrs. Robbo at the time that it looked like something might have happened to the dog.  Well, it turns out I was right.

Our neighbor’s yard is not fenced in, and I had noticed in the past that they sometimes let the dog out on its own to take care of biznay.**  Apparently, they had done so for his late evening call of duty the night before I saw them.  He flushed something out of the bushes and then chased it out into the street where he got hit by a car.  (We live on a busy road.)

I found all this out today because they’re now planning to fence in their back and wanted to know if they could anchor their fence to ours and save themselves having to put in a redundant fourth side.  (Of course we said yes.  I think this actually violates a county ordinance but I don’t care.)

The worst part of it all is that they have three small children who were evidently quite fond of the pooch.  Of course death is an unavoidable aspect of pet ownership, and in fact can be a useful thing to help youngsters to grasp the concept and learn how to deal with loss.  But like this?  Sheesh.

St. Francis, ora pro nobis.


** This always bugged me a bit, but we don’t know them well enough for me to have shoved my oar in.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Back in the day when Ol’ Robbo’s daughters were little, he had no compunction about putting up posts about their trials, tribulations, growth, and development.

These days? Well, regular friends of the decanter will know that all three of them are pretty much grown up.  Ol’ Robbo finds himself confronted with real ethical issues about posting on anything that might impinge on their privacy.  Which is a pity, since the Gels’ Progress is the chief focus of my interest these days.

So I have to pick and choose very carefully.

With all that in mind, I feel it’s safe enough to note that Youngest (the high school senior) started her part-time gig as a Starbucks barista this week.  Ol’ Robbo was a bit surprised.  Apparently, newbie employee training lasts a good three weeks, and includes all kinds of courses on coffee appreciation, as well as technical proficiency, and the usual H.R. bumf.  I had had a vague notion, based on my own entry-level service jobs back in the day, that she’d just have been thrown into the mix and told to learn on the fly.  Apparently not.

Go figure.

Anyhoo, the gel has never been a coffee drinker herself.  Be interesting to see if this experience reinforces that, or if as a result she comes over to join me on the Dark Side.  (Coffee is the alpha of my day.  Who here can guess at the omega? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

Also, as far as her employer goes, let me reiterate that although I avoid giving them money whenever I can, I’ve no problem taking money from them in these circumstances.

And while on the subject, how about a little Bach?  Never mind the text of this bit, which has to do with metaphors about cats and mice, the bottom line of this cantata is “Coffee is Da Bomb”:



Is it okay for Ol’ Robbo to start getting excited?  Because I’m starting to get excited.

GO, NATS!!!!


UPDATE: WHOOOOOOO!!!!! World Series, here we come!!!!

Is it possible Robbo’s beloved Nats will finally get some respect?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel was telling me about a dustup she got into with one of her ‘Murican history classmates about Christopher Columbus and how it’s so bad, awful, hurtful, etc., etc., to have a holiday in his honor.

I loosely paraphrase, but after said classmate got through her laundry list of Columbus Bad talking points, the Gel replied, “Look, nobody celebrates Columbus because of slavery, or because of the introduction of European disease, or because of Spanish plunder, and only an idiot would suggest that we do.  We celebrate Columbus because he made First Contact between Europe and the New World, without which contact you and I would not be sitting here fat, happy, safe, and free, and having this argument.  Columbus Day is really America Day.  That’s why we recognize him.”

That’s my gel!


Blog Stats

  • 501,219 hits
October 2019