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Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Pentecost!

Ol’ Robbo has often wondered about a little nugget in Acts 2.1-11 in which Luke describes the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on this day and their subsequent speaking in tongues to the Jews of various countries and nations assembled at Jerusalem.  He names something like fifteen different locales, almost all in general terms:  Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Asia, Phrygia, and so on.  But he is specific about “the parts of Libya about Cyrene”.  I can’t recall when I first picked up on this but it has become something of an eyeworm every time I see it now, and for some reason it makes me smile, too.

Is there any particular significance to this?  Were the Jews scatter-shot around these other regions but specifically concentrated around Cyrene in Libya? In that case, why not just say Cyrene?  (He also cites Rome, after all.)  Or, to be consistent, say Libya assuming that his reader will know where in that land the Jews live?

Perhaps there’s a point to this, perhaps I’m just overreading it.  I dunno.  But as I say, it grabs my attention every time.  (Not to the point, I hasten to add, that it distracts me from the broader message!)

Anyhoo, the extra good news for Ol’ Robbo this Pentecost Sunday – and the reason for the post title – is that I will be going back to Mass next week for the first time in several months! To borrow a tag line from Ye Olde LlamaButchers blog: Yip! Yip! Yip!

I watched today’s broadcast from my parish operating under Kommissar Northam’s “Phase 1” reopening policy for the first time and, despite every other pew being taped off, there appeared to be plenty of room in which to plant my own carcass next week.  The Good Lord knows imma need it.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely Saturday morning here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  The front came through last night with rain but, alas, no boomers.  Maybe next time.  Meanwhile, a cooler, sunny weekend ahead and all that I really have to do in the garden this week is a little dead-heading.  Perhaps I’ll put up some more pics later on.

In the meantime, having reached a certain level of cabin fever caused by three straight weeks of house arrest, and in spite of Kommissar Northam’s ridiculous new mask requirement, Ol’ Robbo woke up La Wrangler and drove over to the local hardware store and Total Bev.  (I won’t got to Giant these days, as it is wall-to-wall Karens yelling at each other about following floor arrows.)

Yes, while in the stores I wore the stupid mask.  My very first time.  Mrs. R has a pack of them she picked up from some animal rescue outfit, that being her big cause.  They feature a picture of a dog and the words “It’s Ruff Out Here”.  I can only be pushed so far, so wore mine inside out.  For all that, it was uncomfortable, quickly got quite hot, and kept slipping off my nose.  Which is to say it was also completely useless.  I clawed the thing off even before reaching the exits.

Fortunately, nobody seemed to really care.  And I now have a full load of bird feed as well as a good stock of the true, the blushful Hippocrene.  (Leaving the vino purchases to Mrs. R, which I have done in recent weeks, can be immensely frustrating, since she believes anyone who has more than a couple glasses of the stuff in an evening is an alcoholic and limits the flow accordingly.)

Well, off to find my garden scissors….

Oh, fingers crossed for this afternoon’s second attempt at the SpaceX launch!  Ol’ Robbo frankly had not been following this story very closely until the first attempt this past week but now I’m quite excited for it on several levels.

UPDATE: Watched the launch and how awesome was that?  (Here’s praying something terrible doesn’t happen while I’m posting now…)  If we can shift space exploration from gub’mint bureaucratic boondoggle to sound commercial enterprise, why the sky is literally no limit.

As promised, a few more garden flower pics:

Here’s a shot of fox and friend.  (Did you see what I did there?)

Another foxglove I thought neat because you can see the yellow stamen clearly:

And yet another example with a somewhat less strident coloring:

And finally, a sort of wisteria idyll.  I have lots and lots of the stuff – this shot is looking across the lattice underneath the back porch:

(I’m not the best photographer in the world and I’m only using my iThingy, but I thought the effect kind of nice.)

Well, there you have it.  Looking forward, my hydrangea hedge (oak-leaf) is getting ready to unleash itself.  Also, although probably not pic worthy, looks like we’re going to get a lot of raspberries and native blackberries this year.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening the conversation at the dinner table wandered around to the subject of haircuts.  I haven’t had one in something better than three months now and have definitely got somewhat shaggy.

We discussed when and how (and even if) our salon would open up again and, once it does, how long it might be before one could even get an appointment, especially with all the hoops Kommissar Northam is likely to make us jump through.

“Why don’t you just cut Dad’s hair, Mom?” asked Youngest Gel.

Mrs. R looked at me meditatively and said, “Actually, I kind of like it longer.  It covers up that bald spot on the top of his head.”


Youngest laughed uproariously.  I just goggled.

I know I’m thinning out on top, but I had believed that spot to be my little comb-over secret.  Apparently not.

UPDATE:  Just checked on FacePlant and I see the salon is actually opening up next Tuesday, and in the new digs to which it was about to move just before the lockdown hit.  Good for them!  I was genuinely worried about whether or not the business would survive.  (I’ve had the same gal cut my hair for something near 20 years now, so I take this personally.)

On the other hand, I see where according to Der Kommissar, under the current phase of re-opening salons and the like are required to keep (and presumably make available to Big Brother) visit logs and contact information for their clients.  Damn that.  I’ll wait until this nonsense has died down somewhat farther.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

We’re being teased with the possibility of thunderstorms this afternoon and tomorrow in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  I hope the forecast proves more than just a tease, since I love the boomers and we haven’t really had a direct hit so far this spring.

The funny thing is that Ol’ Robbo was quite frightened of lightning and thunder until fairly well on into his early adult life.  Eventually, I just sort of outgrew it (unlike G. Gordon Liddy, I didn’t have to tie myself to a tree to do so) and now, as I say, the flash and bang delight me.

I recall once in my teen years walking into my bedroom during a storm.  My window looked out on our back yard and just as I glanced out a lightning bolt hit a hackberry tree maybe twenty yards away.  It was close enough that I could hear the initial ziiip before the almost-immediate explosion.  I instinctively hit the floor pretty hard that time, but now I think I’d simply give it a “Ted” Theodore Logan “Whoooah!” instead.

The tree, incidentally, carried a long burn mark after that and never really recovered.  A couple years later it got taken out completely by what was either a microburst or perhaps a very small tornado.  I actually felt sorry for that tree.

UPDATE:  Narp.**  Looks like the main action drifted east of us.  Darn it.


**Spot the quote.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Still no sign of the impending cicada invasion, although what with the string of warmer days I expect they’ll be here soon enough.  It will be sad if the accompanying racket forces Ol’ Robbo to stop working out on his porch and hole up down in the basement.

On the other hand, I can report that the stinkbugs are congregating in number, much to the disgust of Mrs. R and the Gels.  I can also report that Raid ant and roach spray seems to have little or no effect on them.  I get that Life always finds a way, but what possible use for these nasty little crawlies Ma Nature can have remains a sweet mystery to me.  (Of course, I have the same question about the cicadas.)

In not altogether unrelated news, Virginny’s Kommissar announced yesterday that mask use in public buildings will become mandatory as of this Friday.  This after the swine was embarrassed by being photographed maskless at the beach the other day.   What did we ever do to deserve the likes of him?

I suggested at dinner last evening that if I ever do wear a mask out, I’m going to write on it, “If You Can Read This, Gov. Northam Is Asshoe“.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just a few thoughts bouncing around in Ol’ Robbo’s braims about your and my favorite topic these days:

♦  We learned last week that Bible-Thumper Camp is suspending all operations this summah.  Although I’m not surprised, this is truly a disappointment.  Youngest had been scheduled to work a term on the kitchen crew next month, and then to go back in August as a counselor-in-training.  She’s being a good sport about it, but I know she’s upset, too.

♦  On the other hand, the national park up the road from us suddenly reopened last Friday and was almost immediately mobbed.  The signs along the roads stating the park was closed because of COVID-1984 are now saying the park is closed because the parking lots are all full.

♦  For all we are supposed to be on lockdown, Middle Gel went on a dive trip downstate with her scuba club last week, and then went to Virginia Beach with her Young Man to cavort in the surf.  No signs of the WuFlu so far, but she did nearly get hypothermia in both cases.

♦  Mrs. R overheard somebody shouting at somebody else about following the arrows at the grocery store yesterday.  This is why she won’t let me go shopping.  I’m so sick of Karenism that if somebody pulls it on me I’m likely to get violent.  Or at least rude, anyway.

♦  Speaking of shopping, I note that some teevee commercials are beginning to take a more optimistic “once we get past this” tone.  Good on them.

♦  People need to remember that the CDC is not an oracle and Dr. Fauci is not a high priest.  Instead, before the panic broke it was known as a fairly disreputable branch of the bureaucracy with a track record of bad predictions, chronic lab quality-control issues, and a penchant for wasting taxpayer money on studies of bogus social-justice “health” issues.

♦  That said, it seems to me the CDC’s primary task now ought to be de-buffaloing all those people it threw into panic (and there are still many, many of them out there).  But since this is all about politicks** and not health, of course it’s only going to do so in a way that saves its own face.  After all, what with the lockdown, the economic collapse, and the unquantifiable suffering and hardship that followed on its initial prognostications of doom, it can’t simply turn around and say, “Whoopsies! Our bad. Never mind.”

♦  CYA or no CYA, I expect the CDC’s current “guidelines” on reopening schools this fall, which would be almost literally impossible to actually implement, will be modified if not, at some point, quietly discarded (or ignored) altogether.  Even my hard-left utopianist work colleagues were ranting about them at the “virtual happy hour” I forced myself to attend on Thursday.  Facts on the ground are simply going to pass the oracle by.

♦  They’re also going to pass by everyone else who continues to hope to use the WuFlu panic to make politickal hay.  (I name no names but friends of the decanter know exactly what I’m talking about. **Cough, November elections, Cough**)  I’ve a feeling, especially now that summah is arriving, that the recovery is going to come slowly, then all at once.  I certainly hope so.

♦  Mrs. R was able to start playing tennis again last week.  When Mamma’s happy, everyone is happy!


** At this point Ol’ Robbo is content to believe that the initial panic was a good-faith mistake and that all the follow-on totalitarianism simply a matter of “not letting a crisis go to waste”.  I haven’t yet bought into the theory that this was all a deliberate ploy on the part of a globalist cabal headed up b people like Bill Gates.  But then I haven’t completely dismissed the idea, either.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy** Memorial Day!

Ol’ Robbo is nursing a pair of very achy knees this afternoon after putting in a great deal of extra work in the yard this long weekend, much of which involved squatting and kneeling.  (I’m thinking I may need to get a couple of those copper-weave braces that Brett Favre and Jerry Rice are hawking on the teevee these days.  Of course, if I actually had some gin in the house at the moment, that would work pretty well, too.)

I won’t bore you with a detailed account of my goings on, but if you indulge me in just one  item I promise you a couple nice pics at the bottom of this post.  I mention it because it’s a job I’ve been dreading and putting off for some considerable time.

You see, we have a short, steep hill going round one side of the house.  It’s covered in shade virtually all day, and is the path the runoff takes when it rains heavily enough to overwhelm the drains out front.  So grass never grew there and it was always either baked hard or a muddy slough.

Some years back we decided to make the best of the situation by simply laying in a wide path of river stone. (Without actually measuring, I’d estimate the entire area is roughly eight feet wide and maybe twenty to twenty-five feet long.)  It looks nice enough, and eventually Ol’ Robbo is going to get around to trying some rhododendron on either side.

However, either last year or possibly even the year before now, we had a freak rainstorm one spring morning.  It dumped something like four or five inches in one hour, and the resultant cataract coming down the hill threw the stones all over the place, leaving large tracts of the underlying groundsheet uncovered.

I’d been hemming and hawing about putting it right ever since.  One simply can’t rake stones of that size (everything from an egg to a Russet potato), nor can one effectively shovel them.  The only thing to do is pick them up one by one and either fill up a bucket or else simply toss them back where they belong.  I thought it would take forever.

However, as Sam Gamgee’s Gaffer said, “It’s the job what’s never started as takes longest to finish,” so this morning I said to myself, “Self, let’s do this.”

Turned out it really didn’t take all that long at all.  Thus endeth the lesson.  But, as I say, all that squatting and carrying took their toll.

Thank you for your patience!  Now how about a couple more flower pics?

First, here’s another of those big bomb peonies.  I actually found this plant hidden back in the raspberries when we first moved into Port Swiller Manor.  I dug it up, split the root ball in half, and replanted the two at opposite ends of my rose/peony bed:

And I include this second pic even though the flower is not completely open yet for fear that I won’t get another chance.  This has always been my very favorite of all my peonies because of its soft, delicate coloring and pure, simple petals. (In fact, I used to have two of this specimen but one died.)  Here’s the thing though:  This is the only bud on the entire plant.  The plant itself seems perfectly happy and healthy, but there’s not so much as a smidgen of a suggestion of any other buds forming.  I find this…disturbing.

Anyhoo, there you are.  The wisteria are nearing peek bloom now and the scent is wafting across my porch even as I type this.  Next up I believe the jackmanii clematis next to the garage is about to let loose.

**”Happy” refers to the fact that this weekend has become the unofficial start of the summah season.  What would be the appropriate word when speaking strictly of remembering our fallen military members?

UPDATE:  ARGH! Checking my usual web haunts just now, I see that while I was out schlepping in the yard all morning, Oregon Muse over at Ace’s Place used Capucine as his “Who Dis?” girl today!  I suggested that entry to him a couple weeks ago after seeing her in “North To Alaska” and he agreed!  I coulda been a contender!  See what happens when you leave the innertoobs for real life?



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s main gardening task this Saturday before Memorial Day is to give the lawn a weed n’ feed treatment and, honestly, I can’t bring myself to inflict a post on you just about that.

Instead, a little Hollywood History of the World musing.

Last evening Ol’ Robbo watched “The 300 Spartans” (1962).  For a war movie, it seemed to me fairly bland and wooden, but appeared to be a reasonably accurate (at least according to tradition) depiction of the Battle of Thermopylae and the run-up to it.  I guess Richard Egan (Leonidas) was something of a minor beefcake back in the day but I found him sleazy-looking.  (UPDATE DEUX:  No, that’s the wrong adjective.  Sorry.  What I mean is that he just didn’t project Ancient Greek royalty to me.  He looks more the hard-bitten sergeant in a WWII film, or perhaps the bad-guy hired gun in a western.)  I also suppose poor Ralph Richardson (Themistocles) just needed the money.  David Farrar (Xerxes) looked too much like Vincent Price to really be taken seriously.

Here’s the thing:  The film makes much of the alliance and dalliance between Xerxes and Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus (the lovely and talented Anne Wakefield).  As the story develops, it becomes increasingly clear that while outwardly supporting him, she is actually trying to manipulate Xerxes into calling off his invasion of Greece.  Indeed, according to the movie, she had just persuaded him, after his forces’ initial defeats, to turn around and go home when news of the secret goat track to the rear of the Spartans’ position came in, causing Xerxes renewed hope of Persian victory.  The show goes on after all and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been a while, but I don’t remember this from my historickal readings.  That Artemisia (in good faith) warned Xerxes not to commit his naval fleet to battle at Salamis and then saved her own neck in that fight by pretending to turn traitor and then escaping, yes.  But I don’t recall her coming into the tactical story of Thermopylae.

Ol’ Robbo needs to pull out his Herodotus again, I guess.  Not that I mind:  I reread him probably every three or four years and evidently this is a sign it’s time to do so again.


Ol’ Robbo mentioned last week that he might be able to give you some foxgloves today.  Over the years I’ve encouraged them to seed themselves in one corner of my garden, with various results.  The past few years have been rather lean, but for some reason, possibly the very mild winter we had, this spring they’ve really taken off.  Ol’ Robbo truly loves foxglove, and hopes you do, too.  Enjoy!


I believe there are a couple of yellow ones on the way up as well.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A gentle reminder to those of you in the Mid-Atlantic region who are tired of the sham plague and ready for something new: The 17-year cicada cycle is about to burst on us again.

Yes, Brood IX is back!

Ol’ Robbo still remembers quite clearly the day when the cicadas emerged 17 years ago.  I was standing one hot Saturday morning on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor drinking my kawfee when I suddenly became aware of a noise that I at first mistook for somebody’s car alarum off in the distance.  It wasn’t, however, but instead was the combined clatter of thousands of the critters suddenly waking up.  I also remember that after a while (it went on for a couple weeks, if I recall correctly) the incessant noise started to make me feel rayther nutty.  I wasn’t even under house arrest at that time – what it’ll be like this go round will be very interestink indeed.

Funny enough, another clear memory I have from last time was coming home from the office one afternoon.  The cicadas don’t really fly around very much during the day but there are always a few fluttering between the trees.  I was driving up the Gee-Dub and saw a car coming the other way, a small convertible like a Triumph or an MG.  Behind the wheel was an enormously tall chappy, so tall that the top of his head stuck up well above the windshield.  “What’s it going to feel like if he takes one of those things right to the forehead at 60 mph?” I remember thinking to myself.

Oh, and then there was the yardwork:  Running them over in their hundreds while mowing the yard is just plain gross but unavoidable.

Well, as for this time around, while the emergence appears to be delayed because of the relatively cool spring we’ve had so far, of course there’s no real way of getting out of it.  I amused myself at dinner last evening making Eldest and Youngest Gels’ skin crawl over what they’re in for.  (Eldest is old enough to remember the last wave with horror and disgust while Youngest was only a toddler at the time.)  It’ll be interesting to see what Decanter Dog makes of them, too.  And although we now have a screened porch where we did not last time, I’m sure a few will winkle their way on to it, leading to constant calls for Ol’ Dad to come and deal with things.  Perhaps I can train the kitteh to attack them for me?

“You were expecting weighty content today?”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was watching Star Trek: The Original Series last evening.  The episode was “The Corbomite Maneuver“, one of the better first season episodes even if the subplot about the jittery navigator Bailey is rather tedious.

Anyhoo, perhaps because the ongoing house arrest is causing me to peer more intently into every little nook and cranny, I finally decided to look up which child actor played the alien commander Balok.

Turns out it was Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard.

I’m sure every true Trek Geek knew this already, but since I’m emphatically not one it was news to me.  Huh.

According to IMDB, Clint has been working quite steadily over the years.  Also according to his profile, he’s a self-described conservative.  Working in the Hollywood Swamp, he says he simply keeps his head down and his mouth shut while on the job and enjoys like-minded company when off the clock.  Oddly enough, Ol’ Robbo is in exactly the same position.

Oh, the other thing about this episode is the “tranya”, the liquor served out by Balok to the Enterprise’s boarding party.  My brother and I still use that word as code for adult beverages, especially when talking about them (as in “let’s have some”) in front of our wives.

And no, I’m not a geek.



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May 2020