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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Somehow or other it just dawned on Ol’ Robbo that tomorrow is Halloween. I suppose this is a byproduct of not having kidz about the house anymore.

Anyhoo, it has been my practice for years to refuse to have anything to do with answering the door to trick-or-treaters. Instead, when I could get away with it, I’ve simply left a bowl of candy out on the front porch and hid in the basement watching “Young Frankenstein”.

Mrs. Robbo used to abjure my anti-sociability in this. However, in this topsy-turvy year of hysterical madness, this practice of mine has suddenly made me the very latest in responsible social-distancing and “contactless celebration”.

I larf. If one stands in place long enough, one eventually becomes the head of the line.

UPDATE: Mayun, talk about standing in place! I didn’t even bother carving a jack-o-lantern, and Mrs. Robbo forgot to put the bowl of M&M’s outside.

Eldest and I did watch “Young Frankenstein”, however. Far and away Mel Brooks’ best movie, in my humble opinion, and that’s largely because Gene Wilder wrote it. So at least we had that going for us!

And happy belated All Saints Day (my favorite day of the year), and a prayerful All Souls Day today.

And buckle up, buckaroos, because this week is going to be lit!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The answer to the above question is a joke that goes back to my early yoot, possibly picked up from a “Highlights” magazine at a dentist’s office:

He: I’ve got a code.

She: A secret code?

He: No, a code ib my nose!

Yes, I’ve been slightly under the weather, and that always seems to cut off the creative juices. Plus, despite the titanic headlines all around, Ol’ Robbo really doesn’t have much to say for himself at the moment. I’m certainly looking forward to voting next Tuesday, along with Eldest Gel and Mrs. R (the younger Gels already voted absentee), but that’s about it.

One modest semi-triumph: Decanter Kitten has finally decided that I’m not going to eat her after all and has deigned to make friends with me. I call it a “semi-triumph” because in the end I had to break down and court her. This involved not only taking over feeding her, but also lying on Youngest Gel’s bed (the kitteh’s safe-space) and playing with her with one of those feather-toys on a string. I don’t much care to be manipulated like that.

UPDATE: Still under the weather, so reduced to additional cat-blogging.

I’ve heard some of you ask, “Tom, how is Lady Decanter Cat handling the new inmate?”

Whelp, I’ll leave it to Lee Ann Womack to put the appropriate words in her mouth:

She may be an angel who spends all winter
Bringin’ the homeless blankets and dinner
A regular Nobel Peace Prize winner
But I really hate her, I’ll think of a reason later

They don’t call wimminz’ spats “cat-fighting” for nothing, my friends.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is there any Farmer’s Almanac-type wisdom that argues a correlation between groundhog activity and the severity of the incoming winter? Cos’ the little cusses are certainly tearing up corners of my yard this year.

First major round of leaf-moving this morning. Looking out on my driveway, which was clear an hour ago, I see it’s already starting to get covered again, so I don’t really know why I bother except that we’re expecting rain tomorrow and wet leaves on a sloping driveway can be as treacherous as ice, so the fewer the better.

We’ve continued to have lovely, almost balmy weather this past week in the vicinity of Port Swiller Manor. Much to my delight (and Mrs. R’s horror), the bats were out the other evening, flitting about the yard and gobbling up late-season insects. Do bats migrate or hibernate over the winter? I must look that one up.

Tomorrow promises to be our first legitimately raw day of the season, so while I’ll be able to eat dins out on the porch wearing Bermuda shorts tonight, I’m actually thinking I’ll have an excuse to huddle in front of the fireplace tomorrow. Ah, fall in Virginny!

UPDATE: Oh, and speaking of Virginny, I am quite disappointed in the Virginia Creeper this year, a substantial amount of which occupies various parts of the Manor, including some if its walls. (No, it doesn’t hurt brick and mortar like ivy does.) Half the point of having it is that the leaves are supposed to turn a lovely scarlet in the fall. This year, they all went straight to brown and fell off prematurely. Personally, I blame ManBearPig.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

We found out this week that St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method is forbidding teachers and staff to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend. Even though Mrs. R has done all her teaching on-line this fall, there’s a remote possibility that she might have to go in as an in-person sub, and the school doesn’t want to risk not having her (or the others) available due to quarantine (or, I suppose to actual illness).

So no traditional road-trip to my brother’s house in North Carolina this year, and the Younger Gels will come straight home from school. (It didn’t seem right for Ol’ Robbo and some fraction of the Gels to go and leave the Missus on her own. Besides, if we did, then we’d have to undergo all sorts of school-driven protocols about separation and testing when we got back. It just isn’t worth it.) We may try and shoot for Christmas, instead.


[Ol’ Robbo originally typed up a short rant here about what he thinks of this entire situation but deleted it a) because I’ve said it before and you all know what I think, and b) because I know I hold a minority view on this. I haven’t changed my mind, however.]

So the next question is what to do about din-dins at Port Swiller Manor. I’ll eat turkey if it’s put in front of me, but none of the others much like it, so I don’t see any real point in doing one. My first thought (and it’s almost always my first though) was a nice roast of beef, but Eldest has put in a surprise request for a roast chicken. That doesn’t seem particularly special to me, but perhaps I could figure out a way to gussy it up a bit. I will, of course, need to consult the others, too. I live with a remarkably picky bunch and it’s very, very hard to get them to all agree on anything food-wise. Do not suggest ham, because none of us like it. At least we’re uniform about that.

We shall see.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

If WordPress is to be believed – and who am I to question my electronic overlords? – this is the 4000th post by Ol’ Robbo here at Port Swiller Central. I’m an English Major, dammit, not a mathematician, but this seems to me to represent a pretty goodly number of beakers of teh true, the blushful Hippocrene over the years. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

I note that today is Trafalgar Day, celebrating the anniversary of that monumental victory of the Royal Navy under Lord Nelson over Napoleon’s combined fleet in 1805. I used to do an awful lot more historickal posting back in the day than I do now, and in the past I would have slapped up some appropriate artwork or tactical map and said something about the battle. But you know? I’m just an armchair blogger posting off the top of my head, and after some years I found myself just rehashing the same tired observations about this and other historickal milestones. You might suggest that I dig deeper into such subjects in order to come up with fresh material. I might suggest in return that you pay me. You might then suggest that I go on with the rehashing because it’s only a matter of time before Nelson and Hearts of Oak and “Rule, Britannia” and all the rest of it are disappeared from history by the Neo-Maoists running amok these days. With that suggestion I might agree. (But you can still pay me if you like.)

Speaking of Neo-Maoists, I see where Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich is calling for a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to cleanse the American body-politick of Orange Man Bad. If Ol’ Robbo were asked to play a game of word-association, his response to “Truth and Reconciliation” would be “show trial, Kalashnikov, back of the head, open trench”. Citizen Reich should have called for a “Committee of Public Safety”, if for no other reason than because the word-association “Madame Guillotine” is much pithier.

Heaven help us.

Well, before they catch me, time to start thinking of material for post #4001…..

4000.5 UPDATE: Thankee, thankee, friends! Somebody mentioned the old Llama-Butchers. I think most friends of the decanter were Camelidophiles back in the day. It got me wondering how many posts I put up over there. The truth is I haven’t the faintest idea: We ran the Butcher Shop for about five years, as opposed to the twelve here, but then again I did many more multiple-post days, so who knows. (In case you’re wondering, I haven’t even spoken with Steve-O in some years now. On the other hand, the former Llama Military Correspondent and family remain quite close with the Family Robbo.)

I also meant to mention that I have a continued, perhaps quixotic, hope that blogging will become more generally popular again, especially now that places like the Twits and FacePlant are not only fever-swamps, but censored fever-swamps. It was great fun back in the earlies, and it would be nice to get back to that free-flowing spirit.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Combining courtship and marriage, Ol’ Robbo has been manacled to Mrs. R for over thirty years, so you’d think I’d have learned a thing or two about her methods by now. Apparently not.

The ground floor of Port Swiller Manor is the standard colonial layout: dining room and kitchen/breakfast room on one side of the hall, “front” room and library on the other.

For reasons entirely too complicated (and boring) to go into here, apart from Ol’ Robbo’s piano-bashing and setting up the Christmas Tree each year, we almost never use the front room. It’s basically been a dead space for the twenty years we’ve lived here.

Recently, I found myself musing that we really ought to do something about this, i.e., make the space more comfortable and liveable. The room faces southwest and in the winter gets a lot of light. How nice it would be, I thought, to be able to relax there with a good book and a cuppa kawfee. As fond as I am of my library (which faces northeast), even I am bound to admit that in the winter it gets a bit Stygian.

My mistake, especially grievous considering my above-mentioned veteran status, was to carry on these musings aloud and within earshot of Mrs. R. Before I even knew where I was, she had already started – in the words of the mainstream media these days – pouncing and seizing. First, she discovered a great big leather sectional sofa being offered at a fire-sale price by some nearby people moving to the West Coast. Then she collared the son of some friends of ours who owns a pickup truck to haul the thing over. He and I then had to remove the existing furniture (a couple of more formal – and rayther stiff – sofas) and manhandle the new one (in two large, bulky pieces) into the house.

Mrs. R doesn’t want to let go of the old sofas, but instead to save them for eventual use when she someday converts one of the Gels’ bedrooms into “a little sitting room” for herself. So Ol’ Robbo has to find a place, somehow, to store them. Also, the leather of the new sofa clashes egregiously with the front room paint, so I have to repaint the walls in a more complimentary color. In addition, Mrs. R has decided that I need to move my desk up out of the basement and establish my indoor office in one corner of the room “so [I] can get more light while [I’m] working.” And she’s been sending an almost constant stream of text messages about this or that lamp, end-table, and desk chair.

It almost exhausts me just to write about it. Mind you, it’s all to the good, but it’s quite a long step between idle conception and the mechanics of actual implementation, and I strongly suspect that with this – and every other – “project”, Mrs. R never really bothers with that part of the math. (Whether this is an individual quirk of hers or more representative in general of her half of the species, I am unable to say. Wimminz. What are you going to do?)

But then, as I say, I really only have myself to blame.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My name is Robbo and I’m an idjit.

I can only hope that my forgetting to put a cup under the drip before turning on the cawfee maker this morning is not a harbinger of what kind of day this might be.

Instead, I prefer to look to my minor triumph over teh recycling people as the controlling portent. They’ve been coming round earlier and earlier the last couple weeks, perhaps due to a route change. Nonetheless, I still beat them to the curb by about half an hour. (I just heard the truck clatter by.)

Endeavor to persevere, my friends.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Another bee-ootiful Saturday here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. And a busy one for Ol’ Robbo.

The leaves are starting to come down in some earnest now, but not so thick on the lawn that I can’t mow them over instead of having to rake them up. I’ve always derived immense aesthetical pleasure from the contrast between the nice, green, trim lawn in the wake of my mower and the chaos of browns and yellows ahead of it. I also thoroughly enjoy it when bits of chopped leaf make their way into the engine and start to smolder.

Yes, even Ol’ Robbo has given up any hope of seeing another hummingbird this year. The feeder came down today.

Those of you interested in the doings of the Port Swiller menagerie might like to know that, after doing a little research, Mrs. R discovered that Decanter Kitten is, in fact, a Maine Coon. I’ve never dealt with one before, all my previous kittehs being tabbies of one kind or another. She’s already proving to be an immensely intelligent animal, and is almost exhaustingly playful. She’s still a bit leery of both Mrs. R and Self, but has for some reason adopted a deep attachment to Eldest Gel. (Yes, she’s back living at home until the panic eases off and she figures out Next Steps.)

Speaking of Gels, Youngest’s car wouldn’t start for me this morning when I sought to give it its weekly exercise. It’s not the battery, as the electrical systems are fine. Instead, the thing just won’t turn over. Fortunately, Youngest won’t be home for another five or six weeks, so it was quite easy to simply dismiss the matter from my mind for now.

Instead, I bestirred myself to finally take La Wrangler down to the gas station and get my seven month overdue inspection taken care of. I guess my fear of the discovery of some heretofore unknown malady was finally outweighed by my fear of the wrath of Mrs. R if I got popped by the coppers for driving on such out-of-date tags (which I also renewed as soon as I got home).

As regular friends of the decanter are aware, Ol’ Robbo has tended to shy away from politickal discussions here. However, on those lines, if you haven’t already seen it, I very strongly recommend that you go over and read this post and its linked articles. It’s absolutely spot-on and something Ol’ Robbo has been ranting about in private for some time. And here’s a pro tip: These are the people who are coming after you and me. And if you think Creepy Joe is going to “return us all to normalcy”, you can rest assured that he’s being used as a skin-suit by this crowd, to be discarded or ignored once his usefulness is over. Perhaps you may see why Ol’ Robbo cares nothing about the Bad Orange Man writing icky tweets.

Anyhoo, on a cheerier note, this coming week marks the twentieth anniversary of the Family Robbo’s move into Port Swiller Manor. I’ve never lived anywhere else for anything close to so long. And as I have no plans whatsoever to move anywhere else in either the near or the far future, I suppose that’s a record that will never be broken.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go see about getting dins started. Another Saturday of brats on the barbi, this time to be covered by mustard and chopped onions and be damned to the consequences!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As Ol’ Robbo mentioned the other day he might do, I have started rereading Anthony Powell’s 12-volume cycle A Dance To The Music Of Time. I think this is either my fourth or fifth go ’round.

As I reintroduced myself to the character of Kenneth Widmerpool, whose Will To Power goes from the comic to the menacing to the pathetic over the arc of the story, I sought to picture him in my mind. At that point, I recalled that I had, in fact, seen a reasonably decent teevee miniseries adaptation of the books, in which the part was played by Simon Russell Beale, who was so excellently evil as Lavrenti Beria in “The Death of Stalin“, a movie of which I’m becoming more and more fond every time I see it.

With this in mind, I toddled over to Netflix – where I got it last time – to toss the “Dance” DVD in my queue, reasoning that by the time I got to it, I’ll likely have finished the books again.

Alas, when I typed the title into the search bar, I pulled up a “zero results” banner.

This has become an increasing source of irritation to Ol’ Robbo, as more and more movies that I like to watch and re-watch vanish from the Netflix library. I don’t mean titles that go straight into my “saved” queue, which is bad enough. I mean ones that simply don’t exist anymore.

Off the top of my head, in addition to the aforementioned “Dance”, Netflix DVD no longer carries such classics as “Danger: UXB“, “Land of the Pharaohs“, or “The Commancheros“. (There are others that will of course come back to my mind at 3:00 ack emma.)

I’m not so far out in tinfoil hat territory as to see this as a deliberate purge in the name of Woke culture. Instead, I think Netflix just doesn’t bother replacing certain titles once they break or go missing. (Which I suppose amounts to the same thing, really, only in slow time.)

The alternatives of course, are to either go out and buy copies of the DVDs themselves or simply resign myself not to watch anymore. I’ve already started doing the former with tried and true perennials (mostly John Wayne and Jimmah Stewart westerns), but that can add up quickly. I’ve made up my mind recently to buy the three I mention above (and maybe “Death of Stalin”, too). Not sure “Dance” is quite worth it, though.


(Oh, and before you ask, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t do streaming. Period. Dead-tree books, DVDs, and musick CD’s are all that I’m willing to consider. It’s just my way.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is watching what amounts to a comic opera out behind the Port Swiller Manor back fence this morning.

The baritone is a young buck who plainly has one thing and one thing only on his mind.

The mezzo soprano is a doe who appears to have not the slightest interest in such things herself.

The buck keeps chasing the doe in and out of the woodline.

Meanwhile, the doe’s fawn from this year keeps wandering onstage and calling, “Mommy?”

Set it to some Rossini and I think you’d have a hit. Heh.

UPDATE: Well, the buck came back by himself a while later. If I’m any kind of judge of animal body language, he was…..displeased.


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October 2020