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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As mentioned below, Mrs. R brought home a jigsaw puzzle for the kitchen table, free to any of the Family Robbo who find Plague Time weighing heavy on their hands.

Ol’ Robbo finds himself strangely, neurotically drawn to the thing:  All those pieces….A thousand….Just lying there in a random jumble!…The center cannot hold…..Entropy!…...CHAOS!!.….MUST. ESTABLISH. ORDER!!!!

**Twitch, Twitch**

Anyhoo, fooling with the thing brings to mind two questions, one on etiquette and the other substantive.

First, amongst aficionados of this sort of thing, is it considered sporting to consult the picture of the completed puzzle on the box top for clues as to where certain pieces might go?  Or is that akin to looking up crossword answers or shooting a sitting bird?  (I’ve a vague memory of reading about a really hard-core puzzle that is pitch-black and unsolvable except by trying every single combination of pieces.)

Second, as I also mentioned, the puzzle is entitled “Movies” and is a collage of iconic characters, props. and posters from, well, a lot of different movies, both classic and modern.  (I put together one section that I at first thought was Errol Flynn as Robin Hood but turned out to be that whatshername from “The Hunger Games”.)  Earlier this evening, Eldest mentioned that she had pieced together the “Love, Actually” unit.

“Man,” I said, “They must have really been getting desperate for ideas if they put that one in.”

“Dad, it’s a classic,” she replied.

“Go on!” I said.  “Mom dragged me to see that when it first opened because Colin Firth.  I remember I couldn’t stop sniggering.  It was the only time she ever hit me and really meant it.  That‘s no classic.”

“Yes, Dad, it is.”

Granted, I only saw the movie once, and that was seventeen years ago, but all I remember is a toxic cocktail of utter schmaltz.  (Which made me laugh especially hard when “Arrested Development” parodied it as “Love, Indubitably“.)

Yes, I know: Firth and Hugh Grant.  But was it really that big a deal?

UPDATE:  It is done.  Eldest discovered a real taste for jigsaws, and as she can be as obsessive-compulsive as her old dad sometimes, we put in a lot of hours over the past couple days.  We plan on doing more of them.

As for the collage, it was fun trading info of the various films represented.  We also agreed that a movie puzzle that has zero pictures of Sean Connery but two of Will Farrell is evidence of a diseased mind.

Oh, and by the bye, I was chatting with my brother the doctor this afternoon.  For what it’s worth, he agrees with both the rants and the predictions I’ve been posting here about Coronapalooza over the past couple weeks.

UPDATE DEUX:  Per request, here ’tis.  (I think you can see some of teh detail if you blow it up.)

Since Kommissar Northam just put the Commonwealth into lockdown until June 10, looks like the Family Robbo will have plenty of time to get good at these things.

Greetings, fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has not yet tried out one of the many on-line Masses available via the innertoobs.  I appreciate the effort involved and all so I won’t say anything disrespectful.  Instead, I’ll simply say that it’s a high psychological hurdle for me to be, well, made to comply with the New Reality imposed not by Holy Mother Church, but by Big Brother.  In the meantime, I will stick with the Prayer for Spiritual Communion and reflecting on the Epistle and Gospel myself.

Reflecting on the continued state of what I still consider to be unwarranted and even sinister panic, I found myself wondering where in Port Swiller Manor I could construct a priest hole, should the need arise.  My first thought was the wet bar – a testimony to the place’s early-70’s construction – in what is now the library and which we immediately walled off when we moved in, but further reflection convinced me that this would be too obvious.  I shall have to think of something more subtle and eloquent.

The other issue if we smuggle in a priest is what to call him.  “Life Coach” comes immediately to mind, as does “Family Wokeness Officer”.  Either one ought to allay the suspicions of the goon squad, at least for a while.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A soggy Saturday morning here at Port Swiller Manor, but after it clears out and depending on tomorrow’s possible thunderstorm forecast I may get the chance to do the weed n’ feed treatment on the so-called lawn.  Even if it actually does no good, I loves me my Scott’s broadcast spreader. (I was going to try using it on the driveway ice this past winter, but we really didn’t have much. I blame ManBearPig.)

Yesterday, Ol’ Robbo hung up the ferns on his back porch.  This is a completely veteran crew.  Last fall, Mrs. R managed to arrange for them to winter over in the small greenhouse at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, but since the Kommissar Northam Plague struck, she had to bring them home a bit early.  For all that, I don’t think we’re going to have another hard freeze this year, so it should be okay.  (And when the bodies start piling up, our Guv is welcome to use the extra space in the greenhouse to stack ’em.  We’ll even chip in a couple bags of ice.  Yes, I’m a bit bitter, as Mrs. R’s future paycheck is at the moment a bit iffy.)

Also yesterday, Ol’ Robbo did a bit of preventative maintenance on his clematis, which are shooting up and forming buds very rapidly.  I have a couple of them on the lattice under the back porch and have found from bitter experience that when the wind gets up, the sharp edges of said lattice are very efficient at snapping stems that have grown too far out without any support.  So one must either thread the stems through the lattice or else tie them up against the face of it.  (I do a combination of both.  Sometimes when a stem is too long, you’ll only snap it off yourself if you try to thread it.)

And speaking of support, I also need to put out my peony cages today, as they’re also shooting up rapidly.  Ol’ Robbo often wonders how such a top-heavy specimen managed to survive before people started propping it up. (I suppose the answer is that it didn’t, and that what I’m dealing with is a sort of Frankenstein’s Flower created by genetic engineering.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo managed to score a mega-pack of TP at Tarjay this morning!  (This’ll be the stuff to tell our grandchildren some day!)

Ol’ Robbo’s plague-beard continues to come along apace.  Not yet Grizzly Adams territory, but I seem to have plenty of time still.

So far the tele-work/tele-education arrangements seem to be working out reasonably well.  We’ve put up a schedule of office hours/class times to remind everyone to be extra quiet and respectful.  Middle Gel is even doing choir rehearsals on-line.

Everybody else in the house is doing on-line video sessions of one kind or another.  Ol’ Robbo is not.  Ol’ Robbo is going to resist any attempt to make him do so with every fiber of his being.

Of course, I’m at it all day (work, that is).  And I’ve come to the conclusion that lurking full time in my basement office is going to turn me into a potato.  Fortunately, it’s just warm enough today to merit moving out on to the porch.  (There must be fifty robins in my immediate neighborhood chirping at each other.)

We’ve gone to full time family dinners that past couple weeks now.  (We didn’t used to during the work week because I get home too late.)  So far, no casualties.

Well, there is plenty to gripe about out there, but I will just leave you with these little happy thoughts for now.  I hope all you friends of the decanter are plowing through and don’t have to deal with major disruptions or catastrophes coming out of this pig’s breakfast.

Time for more cofevve!

UPDATE:  Moar Small Winnings

Went for a pre-dinner walk with Eldest Gel.

Mrs. R brought home a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and plopped it out on the kitchen table for anybody to fool with as they passed by.  It’s a cartoon collage of movie characters.  The very top, right corner is the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Black Knight: I’m invincible! 

King Arthur: You’re a loony.

That makes me laugh each and every of the umpteen times I’ve seen that film.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t bothered to shave since coronapalooza relegated him to permanent/temporary telework status and public Mass has been suspended.

The last time I started a beard was last year’s gubmint shutdown.  It turned out to be pretty scraggly, as I have rather thin hair, and I became so concerned that I shaved it off long before going back to work.

This time, I find myself not really caring.  So I’ll just let it go and see what happens.

The growth was noticed and commented on at dinner this evening.

Youngest, as many friends of the decanter will know, is a high school senior.  As you all also probably know, this afternoon Virginny’s Kommisar Northam shuttered the Commonwealth’s schools for the balance of the year.   What, exactly, is going to happen to seniors such as Youngest has yet to be decided, but staring at Ol’ Robbo’s fuzzy chin meditatively, she suddenly had an idea.

“Hey,” she said, “I think I’m going to die my hair purple while I’m at home! You know, just for kicks! I can always wash it out if and when they call us back! Yuck, yuck!”

There’s not a lot of genuine rebellious, daddy-issue lashing out amongst the Gels, laus Deo.  There is, on the other hand, a certain amount of playing the Get A Rise Out Of The Old Man game.  They all seem to know exactly which buttons to press, and delight when something starts me frothing.

I’m a moderately old dog and these are summat recent tricks, but I like to think I’m learning nonetheless.

I gave Youngest a cool, thin smile.

“Yeah,” I said, “That’s not a good idea.”

And I said no more.

Will she do it? I dunno.  But she’s not going to have the satisfaction of getting a rise out of Ol’ Robbo.

UPDATE:  She did it.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are.

Ol’ Robbo finds himself troubled over the relative ease with which the gubmint has shut down religious worship over coronapalooza.

One wonders what the next “public interest” justification will be.

*Adjusts tinfoil scapular*


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Per my springtime post below, Ol’ Robbo bestirred himself this morning to go out and stock up on hummingbird nectar mix.  The feeder is now up on its old hook, much earlier this year than ever before.

If you haven’t done so already, I heartily recommend that you check out this nifty 2020 hummingbird spring migration map forwarded by long-time friend of the decanter NOVA Curmudgeon.  As of this morning, there’s already been a reported sighting at Woodbridge, which is a bit south of the Dee Cee Beltway.  We’re on the northwest side very near the Potomac fall-line, so the spring  conditions are slightly lagging those south of town.  Nonetheless, I expect that if the little blighters are that close, they’ll be here soon enough.  (In fact, I almost, sort of, thought I caught one flying by out of the tail of my eye yesterday afternoon, but that might just have been wishful thinking.)

And speaking of that map, Ol’ Robbo is somewhat disappointed to see reports of hummers wintering over along the Carolina and Georgia coasts.  What about those epic stories one reads of heroic migrations across the Gulf of Mexico?  These layabouts are going to sully the reputation of the entire species!

Anyhoo, I’ll let you know when I make a first sighting.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, what else is there to talk about at the moment?  Some continuing reflections and observations.  Call it a Diminished Digital Decameron:

♦   Ol’ Robbo used to think he couldn’t despise the Mainstream Media any more than he did.  Message to the Press:  Coronavirus is not Hurricane Katrina, let alone Chernobyl 2, Disaster Boogaloo.  Deal with it.

♦   Tinfoil Hat I:  No, unlike some of the co-bloggers and commenters over at Ace of Spades HQ, I don’t think the coronavirus is a deliberate attempt by the Chinese to launch a bioweapon attack against us.  I do think it was either something that got out of a Chinese lab or else naturally mutated in the animal population and got into humans through some combination of awful hygiene and filthy environmental conditions (e.g., the “wet markets”) and spread accordingly.  With that, I firmly do blame China for this mess.

♦   Tinfoil Hat II:  I certainly think the situation is appealing to the basest instincts of every tin-pot authoritarian from HOA officers all the way up through state governors and many in the bureaucracy, who are far more concerned with power and control than with the general welfare.   And I do fear that the bar is being lowered for the next “crisis”.

♦   On the positive side, it seems to Ol’ Robbo that the situation is shining some much-needed light on such things as over-regulation of, for example, medicine and transportation, and the evils of globalization.  Will we learn anything and make changes accordingly?  Majick 8-Ball sez, “Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later”.

♦   On the Home Front, Youngest tried to sell us the idea that her school was making schoolwork “optional” while the kids are all home.  Swearsies!  Dr. Robbo diagnoses a case of Senioritis here, which is a much more powerful illness than coronavirus.

♦   Middle Gel is finding that despite the fact everyone is home, or perhaps because of it, the daytime babysitting market is extremely lucrative at the moment.

♦   With respect to the TP shortage, Eldest spotted a singleton twelve-pack on the shelf at Walgreen’s yesterday and brought it home in triumph.  I wish I’d invested in Kimberly-Clark.

♦   Telework I:  Our office is not actually locked up, but I’ve been informed rather testily that no, going in to water my plant is not mission-critical.  Sad.

♦   Telework II:  Ol’ Robbo is not one of those who can spend his entire day in robe and jammies, but I must say that I enjoy being able to shower and dress when I feel like it, not when the alarum-clock and commute dictate.  And, of course, pants remain merely optional.

♦    As somebody pointed out, we’re all going to die.  But very few of us are going to die any time in the near future, and of those, very, very few are going to die of this bug.  That’s been my attitude from the beginning and nothing that I’ve seen suggests altering it at all.  Keep calm and carry on.

Well, that’s it for now.  Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been out of the house in almost a week, so tomorrow I plan to hit the hardware store and Total Bev as much for the change of scene as for replenishing supplies.  (If there are any, that is.  We shall see.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and Happy Spring! **

As promised below, Ol’ Robbo was able to move his quarantine out on to the back porch this afternoon.  Not only did I see my first butterfly of the season, I also saw my first bumblebee.  (But I was working! Honest!)

It may seem absurd, but I’m thinking I’d better get my hummingbird feeder up this weekend.  No telling when the little blighters will turn up now.

We also had dinner out on the porch this evening for the first time this season.   I’m sure Greta van “How Dare You!” Scoldilocks would be outraged, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Of course, the other thing I noticed today was that my glasses were covered with grains of pollen.   This is both bad and good.  On the one hand, I seem to grow more sensitive to it every year, so there will be a certain amount of misery blended with the joy of the awakening Earth.  On the other, I now have a reasonable justification for my coughing and sneezing:  Mrs. R has taken the whole Coronapalooza panic rather more seriously than has Ol’ Robbo, and I’ve been getting serious side-eye from her every time I clear my throat the last week or two.  At least now I have some plausible cover.

Anyhoo, here we go!


**Happy Feast of St. Joseph, too, of course!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Day Three of the Great Coronapalooza Shut-In and Ol’ Robbo can already tell that he’s going to have to modify the way he approaches this tele-commuting biznay.  I’ve been teleworking Mondays and Fridays since last August, but it’s only this week that I’ve gone full-time.

Spending all day every day down the basement study flopped on a very comfy sofa with my laptop sounds well and good but…….if I don’t come up with some ways to break things up a bit, I’m quickly going to turn into Jack Nicholson typing “All work and no play makes Robbo a dull boy” over and over.  I’ve also found that all that lassitude actually makes it harder to get myself to exercise after work, not easier.

Fortunately, the next couple days are going to be quite mild, so I’ll be able to move operations out on to the porch.  That’ll certainly help, but I’ve got to be better about making myself get up and move around more, too.  Any ideas?





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March 2020