You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2021.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo had been looking forward eagerly to grilling out this evening thanks to the extra hour of sunlight brought by DST. This anticipation was dampened somewhat earlier today when our Padre reminded us that a real traditionalist Lent involved abstaining from meat the entire forty days, not excluding Sundays and Solemnities. He suggested we keep this in mind and maybe even adopt it.

I had my steak for dins anyway. And frankly? It was delicious.

I’m sorry. It might be different if, say, one were on a retreat of some sort and surrounded by constant encouragement, but on his own Ol’ Robbo just doesn’t have the willpower to pull off such a level of continual denial: The matter would only fester in my mind, distracting me from everything else, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. The inevitable fall would be all the worse for the shame and guilt.

As Ol’ Robbo goes meatless on Fridays all year round anyway, my practice is to slap an extra day on throughout Lent and then to try and go cold turkey for Holy Week. That’s about as much as I can manage for the foreseeable future. (The other day Mrs. R said, “So, Wednesdays are going to be pasta night even after Easter?” I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s not leap to conclusions here!”)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

(No, no ranting about the sinister machinations of the global technocratic oligarchy today!)

As Ol’ Robbo recalls, in The Two Towers when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, in their pursuit of the orcs who have captured Merry and Pippin, come down out of the East Wall of Rohan and first set foot on the early spring grass of the Wold, Legolas exclaims, “Ah, the green smell!”

I’ve always loved that expression. And it’s true: There is an odor which is simply that of plants growing. I couldn’t begin to describe it, but I know it immediately when I smell it.

I mention this because I caught a whiff of it yesterday afternoon. Soon!

(And on that subject: Hello, pollen, my old friend! It’s good to sneeze with you again.)

Ol’ Robbo put in some time trimming up his roses this morning. I also removed the last of the cages surrounding some of them. Since the advent of Decanter Dog the deer have stopped coming into the yard, so a year or two ago I did a test run with one or two bushes. Nothing seems to have nibbled on them so I decided to lower shields completely. Frankly, I was getting tired of that corner being staked and wired like the Capitol Building. (Heyoooo!!)

I also cleaned up the barbee in anticipation of tomorrow evening’s DST first cookout of the year. The poor thing is really starting to fall apart. There are several holes rusted through the sides of the kettle and as all the brackets also have fallen off I’ve had to improvise new ones with coat-hanger wire. But at least I bought it a nice, new grill to start the year. So long as burning coals aren’t falling out and landing on my feet as I cook, all is well.

Finally, I had noticed a while back that the newest of the half-whiskey barrel planters out front wasn’t draining. Turns out that nobody had bothered to drill any holes in its bottom, and we had an awful lot of rain over the winter. Ol’ Robbo does not possess a working drill at the moment, but I thought how hard could it be just to knock a few holes through with some sort of young spikes I have and a hammer?

Well, turns out the answer is pretty durn hard. My theory was good enough but that barrel wood can be awfully tough.

And just as I caught myself across my knuckles with the hammer for the third time, I swear Mrs. R suddenly appeared and said, “Oh, when you’re through with that, can you also do……?” I’ve noticed a pattern with this sort of thing: Just as Ol’ Robbo is at the worst part of one job, his sacramental partner materializes with instructions for the next. Mrs. R is naturally endowed with many female traits and talents, but I really think this is one of them they must teach in Wife School.

Finally, speaking of such things, I notice the many cardinals which frequent the Port Swiller Manor feeder and, at least over the winter, generally tolerate one another (I have literally seen ten pairs of them hanging about the feeder at once), have now gone back to territorial skirmishing, constantly chasing each other all about the yard. Yep, definitely getting to be that time of year.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we all are on the first anniversary of our collective house arrest. (Remember “two weeks to flatten the curve”? Good times. Good times.)

Ol’ Robbo was dubious about the panicky, half-cocked response when the flu first appeared, but figured that once it became evident that the bodies simply were refusing to pile up in the streets, the whole thing would quietly sputter out, particularly as the weather started warming up and people got restive. So much for that.

Upon reflection, Ol’ Robbo seems to have made two errors in his calculations.

First, I wrote at the time:

♦   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”.

In hindsight, my skepticism was quite warranted, I think, but didn’t go far enough. I badly underestimated just how far said authoritarians would use the panic as cover for their politickal machinations. Just look at where the hell we are now.

Second, I overestimated the popular will to shake off such controls. As I say, I figured that when people got tired of all the suppression and disruption they would start pushing back, first with little things like ignoring mask rules and then with larger ones like demanding schools fully reopen. I suppose my mistake there was in not realizing just how thoroughly cowed so many people have become via 24/7 MSM scare-mongering.

So, as I say, here we are.

As a matter of fact, I believe this particular biznay is starting to peter out, but I very much fear that a precedent has been set regarding the arbitrary suspension of our rights and freedoms by Our Betters in the name of facing some other “public health crisis”, real or otherwise. (What was it Ol’ Ben Franklin said? “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”) I don’t believe the Covid response started out that way, but if nothing else it has morphed into a test case for such behavior, and a successful one (at least from the point of view of the grabbers) at that. We had our lives disrupted and shut down due to a bad case of the flu and – with a few notable exceptions – we more or less simply took it unquestioningly. What happens next time? The Green Nood Eel and the “Great Reset” are lurking out there: Ol’ Robbo’s money is on this same kind of stunt being pulled to further their aims (which, again, have nothing to do with “climate” and everything to do with authoritarianism). Will we sheepishly start eating tofu and give up driving gas-powered cars because Big Brother suddenly decrees that there is a “climate crisis” and we’re doomed if we don’t?

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined it. Now?

(Yes, Ol’ Robbo is a crank. But you knew that already.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are.

Ol’ Robbo found himself reviewing a rental contract this morning for the off-campus house Middle Gel is going to share with a couple of her sorority sisters next year. (Hard to believe she’ll be a senior already!) Not that my legal analysis is worth all that much: The last time I paid any attention to landlord/tenant law was when I was swotting for the bar thirty years ago, and I forgot most of it immediately after the exam. But nothing outrageous caught my eye and one of the roommates is already living there this year and knows the practical ropes, so I’m sure it’ll be fine. So I’ll only charge her a couple hundred bucks for my time and effort. (I keed! I keed!!)

With the advent of the season’s first push of really warm weather, I took Decanter Dog for a long walkies this afternoon that eventually brought us down to the neighborhood pond. We flushed out the local great blue heron, which I hadn’t seen in a while, but I also noticed, of all fool things, a solitary bat twittering about over the water. In broad daylight. And well before it could expect much by way of flying insect life. Go figure.

Speaking of bats, I’m hesitant even to mention it here and perhaps it’s nothing more than a residual tremor from what I posted about yesterday, but this morning I had a dream about the angel of death. I was in that half-asleep/half-awake state when I suddenly felt a breeze in my ear. I immediately “knew” it was caused by the tip of a wing passing near, knew exactly whose wing it was, and sat up in bed with a gasp at the thought. Of course, a few minutes later the cats started pestering me to get up and feed them so my alarum quickly turned to irritation, but that memento mori feel has been about me all day.


On a much less serious front, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about the “travails” of Meghan Sparkle-Markle. She’s simply Hollywood grifter trash. That is all.

Oh, and on an even more ridiculous front, somebody needs it ‘splained to them that Pepe Le Pew is not supposed to be a role-model but instead was always understood as an object of scorn and mockery. Even as a very small kid I found him icky.

Turning back to Robbo’s home world, granted we’ve still got most of the week ahead to go but Ol’ Robbo actually finds himself keenly anticipating next Saturday night’s jump forward to, well, whichever “time” it is that one jumps forward to in the spring. (I can never keep them straight.) And why? Because the extra hour of light starting Sunday evening means Ol’ Robbo can return in comfort to his outdoor grilling! WOO HOO!! I’m already anticipating the thick-cut steak I’m going to pick up and slap on the grill. In Ol’ Robbo’s humble opinion the sure and certain Truth of the Divine Will, the only way to properly cook a rib-eye or strip steak is to get the thickest one you can, get the charcoal as hot and concentrated as possible, and sear the thing about two minutes tops each side. The only steak worth eating is one that is charred up nicely on its outside, but still believes it has a fighting chance of escaping from one’s plate.

Finally, and also on the food front, although we’re still four weeks out from Easter, it’s never too early to start thinking out one’s Easter Dinner menu. And on this planning, Ol’ Robbo has some very exciting news: The entire strength of the Port Swiller Manor establishment will be home for the holiday. A recent survey reveals that not one, but all three of the Gels would be perfectly happy with Ol’ Robbo serving up rack of lamb! (Apparently it was a bigger hit when I tried it a couple years ago than I had realized.) And not only that, Middle Gel is bringing her Young Man to dins and he said he’d love it, too. (I have not yet met said Young Man but hear good reports of him. This positive response, of course, brings nothing but additional credit.) I now need to start limning out some nice side dishes……

Tuesday UPDATE: Speaking of the warm weather Ol’ Robbo mentioned above, we were able to have dinner out on the Port Swiller Manor porch this evening for the first time this season. (Since rebuilding it six or seven years ago, we eat outside as much as possible.) Very, very nice. And on that subject, I noticed today an early hatch of some sort of insect flying about, so I suppose I should withdraw my comments about that bat I saw yesterday. It’s almost as if Ma Nature knows what she’s doing…..

Meanwhile, our old pal Sleepy Beth remarks on my mention of Middle Gel’s Young Gentleman:

I am wondering, does the prospect of significant others get easier to stomach as the gels have aged themselves?

I’d say yes, yes it does.

Partly this is due to the fact that the unknown and unknowable abstract future is almost always scarier than the concrete reality of actual events. (Even when said actual events are bad, one is usually too busy dealing with them to waste energy on being scared.)

Partly this is due to recognition that the Gels are at that stage of life (23, 21, and 19 years, respectively – in other words, thank God they’re not adolescents anymore!), where it is right and proper that they be looking to start building their own nests. (Indeed, I have noticed that the word “grandchildren” is starting to creep into Mrs. R’s speech.)

But these are general considerations.

From my own specific experience and perspective, I also am very much blessed by the fact that I can trust the Gels to make good, solid decisions. Without getting into too much personal detail, all three are grounded, old-fashioned, and, yes, religious-minded creatures, largely immune to the mores of the tempora about which Ol’ Robbo routinely rants here, and I’ve not much worry that in the end they will all find the right fellahs for the right reasons. Of course they might will make some mistakes along the way (Lawd knows Ol’ Robbo did himself back in the day), and of course they’re as subject to random outside forces as anyone else, but that’s a part of living that can’t be avoided and so about which I don’t worry too much.

That said, I still claim the right, should Middle Gel’s Young Gentleman or anyone else treat one of the Gels badly, to hunt him down and explain to him the errors of his ways with a tire-iron.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s always a bit startling when you realize that your Padre is going to take as the topic of his homily an issue that’s already preying on your mind. Spooky, on the one hand, because you start to wonder just what kind of thought-reading capacity actually does come with his job. Comforting, on the other, when you realize he really wouldn’t be bringing it up if it wasn’t a pretty common issue.

Father was talking today about the journey toward holiness and chose to use the metaphor of driving on snow. To do so successfully, he said, first you have to put away the cellphone and stop yelling at the kids in the back seat. Then you have to remember to be always applying gentle pressure to the gas pedal, keeping up momentum. In this way, the force of acceleration causes the tire to control its interaction with the road. If you just coast, taking away that force, then the road will start dictating the manner in which it interacts with the tire and, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself going where you don’t want to go. And finally, of course, you have to avoid all violent, sudden motions of either gas, brake, or steering wheel. Calm and cool but always gently pushing does it.

Ol’ Robbo almost inevitably falls into most of these snow-driving traps in his Lenten observations. Usually feeling rayther shabby and dissolute rolling into the season, I make big plans for all the things I’m going to give up cold-turkey as well as the strict regimen of prayer and reading to which I’m going to subject myself. It is, in fact, the equivalent of jamming on both gas and break pedal at the same time and cranking the wheel hard over. And almost invariably after my first week or so, I’m in the ditch. It usually takes me another week to, as it were, pull myself out and, at about the third Sunday, to set out anew.

Whelp, here we are again. I’m just hoping that I will keep Father’s metaphor tucked away somewhere in my braims and maybe finally learn something about driving this time and going forward.

UPDATE: Yes, the Carrie Underwood reference in the title. I was a bit dubious about its tastefulness but it was too good to resist, given the subject matter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

After years of hemming and hawing over the idea, Ol’ Robbo signed up this week with a lawn maintenance outfit to do the weed and feed routine at Port Swiller Manor, my own recent ineffective efforts convincing me it was finally time to call in the pros. What actually put me over the top? Well, outfits like TruGreen and ChemLawn have forever sent me flyers full of overviews and ending in “give us a call to schedule an appointment for a free estimate”. I don’t like that. On the other hand, the people whom I am trying sent me a proposal that said this is what we’d do, this is when we’d do it, and this is what it would cost you. I like that a whole lot better. (I signed on for a course of six treatments – at a deep first timer discount – running from early spring through late fall.)

Marketers, take note. (Relatedly, out of curiosity Ol’ Robbo went to the CarShield site to see what extended warranty protection on La Wrangler might cost him. I was hoping it would be a simple, anonymous “enter your make, model, and mileage and here’s your estimate.” Nope. They wanted a whole bunch of personal information and promised an agent would be in touch to discuss “options”. Fook off.)

Anyhoo, we shall see what happens. My fear is that once the weeding is done there’ll be nothing left to feed. Fortunately, this outfit can also do aeration and over-seeding, which I am sure they would be eager to sell me and, in all honesty, the yard really needs after my twenty years of not as who should say neglect, but more general feebleness. I know a goodish amount about properly growing and maintaining some things but grass ain’t one of ’em.

Back in the Before Times, Ol’ Robbo used to take a daily lunchtime walk round the National Mall. I used to love watching the grounds crew doing their seasonal work on the lawns and daydream about lifting the keys to their tractors with all the various nifty attachments and sneaking them out to Port Swiller Manor. “Honest,” I would imagine myself explaining if caught, “It’ll only take a few minutes to do my yard. I promise I’ll bring it right back!” Heh. (Perhaps since the place is currently fortified and crawling with troops to guard against the phantom bogeyman “insurgents”, maybe I could borrow their stuff.) This won’t be quite like that, of course, but then again I’m not aiming for the same results. But with moss all over the front yard and clover and whatnot all over the back, it’s time to take steps.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been watching the partial disappearing of Dr. Seuss with grim amusement.

In part, this is because I’m old enough to remember when “Read Banned Books!” was a favorite slogan on bumper stickers and backpack pins among the Left. Of course, that was back in the day when the aim was to twit uptight middlebrow librarians and Church Ladies. I am well aware that this is different because Reasons and because Shut Up!

Also in part, though, it’s because of stirred memories that, in hindsight, now seem almost prophetic. Junior year of high school, my honors English class was assigned a big paper in which we were supposed to do an in-depth analysis of the book of our choice. (I recall that I picked The Great Gatsby but I couldn’t tell you a single thing now about what I wrote.) A buddy and I, being the smartasses that we were, decided to also submit an anonymous paper. It was titled something like “Theodore Geisel and the Will To Power: A Marxist Interpretation of Green Eggs and Ham” and was all about the authoritarianism of Sam I Am and the overcoming of bourgeois resistance to inevitable social and economic change (i.e., the said unorthodox ham and eggs).

Our teacher was a good sport about it. In fact, she laughed and laughed. My friend and I never did own up to authorship even when Mrs. Andrews begged the entire class to come clean, but I think she had her suspicions. (As a matter of fact, it might have been what saved me from GPA disaster later when I point-blank refused to read the fourth bloody Steinbeck book in a row, but that’s a different story.)

Good times. Good times.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Recently, finally, Ol’ Robbo broke down and ordered up the necessary equipment to transmogrify his work laptop (with which he has been shlepping along for almost a year now) into something closer to a home office computer. This included a docking station, wireless keyboard and mouse, and a large monitor, together with all the bits necessary to put them all together.

It took me a few false starts (like getting the wrong monitor cable) and a bit of puzzling things out, but today I finally got the whole thing up and running. My last hurdle was the keyboard, which came with a whole booklet of safety and environmental warnings but no actual setup instructions beyond three crude hieroglyphs on the box. It took me a loooong time to finally deduce that the third one was meant to represent pulling the lithium battery out, flipping it over, and reinserting it.

I was really quite pleased with myself. While I’m mechanically inclined, computer technology is way out of my wheelhouse, and this kind of set-up represented just about the limits of my ability. But when I showed my work to Eldest Gel, what was her response? “Awww, Da-DEE! I’m so pwoud of you! Plugging in those mean ol’ cables all by your widdle self!”

(I tell ya, I don’t get no respect!)

Anyhoo, it’s nice to be able to finally getting back to working on documents without having to squint so bloody much.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt most of my fellow mackerel snappers out there have heard of Bishop Robert Barron. I sometimes think he fancies himself as a sort of latter-day Abp. Fulton Sheen, in that he’s keenly aware of the current state of communications technology and seems to do everything in his power to take advantage of it to spread the Word. Certainly, after Ol’ Robbo signed up for his daily Lenten reflection emails and bought a set of DVD’s a few years ago, he hasn’t let go of me at all, at all.

But I just noticed something odd: Recently, Bp. Barron started advertising a new book on the Rosary on FacePlant. A couple days in a row now, I’ve seen it very early in the morning and thought to myself, “Self, you really need to pick that up.” But when I went back a little later to follow the link, the FB post had disappeared. (I just did order the book, but had to hunt it down via another innertoob outlet to do so.)

Is this a thing? Ol’ Robbo knows little or nothing about advertising, much less the ins and outs of putting plugs on social media. Perhaps there is some reason for running ads of limited time duration on FB, although if there is I can’t really see the advantage. Why is it, then, that other posts stay in my feed forever while these vanish so quickly?


**adjusts tinfoil hat**


Blog Stats

  • 485,502 hits
March 2021