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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Our bishop removed all diocesan worship restrictions this past week, so Trinity Sunday was particularly special today. Holy water back in the stoups, four altar-servers instead of one trying to juggle everything himself, no more sealed off pews, distancing markers, or “masks only” sections – in short, almost completely back to normal. And the sweet little old lady next to whom I have sat for ages was back for the first time in over a year. (For months, since the church first opened back up, she’s sat in her car and watched the Mass on the innerwebs, only coming in from the parking lot to receive the Host after it was over.)

Of course, coupled with my joy at the restoration of my ability to worship unfettered is a renewed horror and disgust at the reflection of just how easily it was taken away to begin with, and how seemingly everyone in the Church hierarchy from Frankie Fabulous on down simply rolled over at the behest of the “Experts”. If there ever actually was any kind of principled push-back, especially after the initial panic died down and the holes in the “pandemic” narrative started opening up, I sure as heck never heard about it. (My parish priest was pretty disgusted, too.)

If you can only keep a freedom until the gubmint tells you that you can’t, it isn’t really a freedom in the first place. And the gubmint that finds it can shut down the churches today just because of an outbreak of flu is the gubmint that will be a lot less hesitant to try and shut down the churches tomorrow because of wrong-think.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A wet and downright chilly (low 50’s) day here at Port Swiller Manor puts the kybosh on Ol’ Robbo’s pottering about the demesne. I can report, however, that my very first termater plant now has about half a dozen little green globes on it and promise of more to come. I’ll have to start hunting up salsa recipes some time soon.

The retrograde late winter/early spring conditions have also temporarily halted all cicada activity. I don’t think the Brood is having a good cycle this time around. Their initial emergence was hampered by a series of cool nights. Last week they seem to have gone finally into hyperdrive, but now they’re shut down for the next few days again. I imagine that once an individual pops out of its larval stage, it only has a given period of life left to get busy and reproduce and that these delays represent time they’ll never get back. Certainly the corpses of the early risers are starting to mount up in considerable number now.

I am sure that the life cycle of the 17-year cicada serves some purpose in God’s universal economy, but damme if I can grok the math on it.

(And by the bye, if Decanter Kitten doesn’t stop climbing the porch screens trying to get at the little blighters on the other side, there’s going to be a felinecide in the family.)

Anyhoo, on to other things.

–I mention Youngest Gel in the post below. By measurement this morning, I discovered that she grew two and a half inches her freshman year and is now well over 5′ 7″. This rayther astounds me, as I’d always believed that girls got most of their growth in relatively early in adolescence and were done by about 18 years. (Something similar happened with Middle Gel, although she only went from short to not quite so short. It grinds her gears to be the smallest one in the family. Eldest seems to have followed the more traditional sprout schedule.) Go figure.

—Speaking of gears, Ol’ Robbo is going to be very, very happy when we finally rid ourselves of our Honda Juggernaut and put Mrs. R in something smaller and sportier, as she has started hogging garage space again. She doesn’t do it on purpose, but only forgets about it from time to time and leaves me crowded way over to one side. It’s fortunate that I’m pretty thin, as when this happens I often find myself having to writhe sideways to get in and out of La Wrangler.

–Speaking of thin, Ol’ Robbo had a really solid set of workouts this week. My problem with exercise has long been that I go at it hell for leather for a number of days, get burned out, and then fall off completely for some length of time. I’m trying to work on this yo-yoing by giving myself more consistent days of either rest or light sessions between the heavier ones. (At least, that’s my excuse for taking today off. My story. Sticking to it.)

–Speaking of problems, Mrs. R is (as I type) in the middle of an online seminar about Makey-Makey, an electronic package for do-it-yourself lil’ inventors which she hopes to incorporate into her science classes next year. Our efforts earlier to get her hooked up, plugged in, and on-line looked more like something out of the Marx Brothers than anything else. Our non-5G innerwebz service suddenly isn’t working for whatever reason (Thanks, Verizon!) and Mrs. R’s dinosaur work laptop can’t handle the 5G kind we still have. So there was much running about with hair on fire trying to find one which did all she needed. After several false starts (my own laptop’s mic doesn’t work for some reason) the only one with full bells and whistles available was Youngest’s and it’s a Mac. Mrs. R has never dealt with a Mac before. You can judge for yourself the level of panic in that people were actually asking me technical questions!

Whelp, that’s about it. I see the forecast seems to have just been revised so that the rain might hold off long enough for me to grill dinner after all. Woo, Hoo! Better go check and see that I have enough charcoal after all.

UPDATE: The grilling was a success, although what the Iron Duke might have described as a damn near-run thing: It wasn’t sprinkling quite hard enough to affect the coals, but it was enough to prevent me from taking out the rolls to be toasted as I do not care for soggy bread. The rain kicked in more forcefully just as I was finished cooking.

On the wireless front, Mrs. R discovered that her streaming service was out as well. After a few minutes of her asking me questions I couldn’t possibly answer, I suggested she call up Verizon and yell at them. After she had a completely one-sided conversation with an automated system, everything came back on again. I guess we’re in the very best of hands with our robot lords and masters.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo may or may not have mentioned here before that Youngest Gel had joined her school’s sailing club this past year. She’s enjoyed it immensely. For one thing, she has a bit of experience already, having sailed Sunfish at her summah camp for years and years, so she’s quickly picked up on the skills and technique. For another, it seems to be quite the genial and lively group, and exactly the sort of people she was hoping to meet by getting off the East Coast. They even have a club softball team on which teh Gel plays.

Anyhoo, it’s a legit group. Not only do they sail out of their own boathouse, they also go round the regional regatta circuit. Yesterday, the Gel received the schedule for September and October and I found myself glancing idly at the various named meets. Most of them were pretty bland: Ohio State has the “Buckeye Invite” while Illinois has the “U of I Regatta”. However, looking down the list, I saw that Indiana University will be proudly hosting the “Hoosier Mama”.

That joke and its variants are probably as old as the State itself but I’d not been expecting it and laughed heartily.

By the bye, from what the Gel tells me, these meets seem pretty true to the tradition of Jack Tar ashore. Apparently, the form is for all the teams to get together the night before and party like maniacs, sailing the next day in, shall we say, a somewhat subdued condition. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me but then again it’s been a looooong time since I was a kollege kid myself. (In fact, rowing crew we weren’t allowed to drink at all during race season but I couldn’t imagine even wanting to the night before a regatta. We had plenty of reasons to lose our lunches already.) Nonetheless, a good time seems to be had by all.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

We had quite the thunderstorm roll over Port Swiller Manor last evening. A prior, feebler line had come through late in teh afternoon, giving us about five minutes of rain and leaving Ol’ Robbo kicking his chair in frustration, but Ma Nature more than made up for it after dinnertime with an hour or two of torrential rain, high wind, and of course plenty of fireworks. She even knocked out the power for a while, thus giving our monstrously expensive and woefully underused generator something to do.

If the weather ape thingy on my phone is to be believed (and it is surprisingly accurate) this is the start of a pattern which will stretch well into next week. Good thing, too, as we were beginning to get rayther dry around here.

Ol’ Robbo loves him a good t-storm. Which is funny because I was quite frightened of them when I was a little lad. Couldn’t sleep at all when one came over at night but instead lay rigid in bed with the pillows jammed over my ears. However, unlike the late G. Gordon Liddy, I never resorted to tying myself to a tree in the midst of one in order to get over my fear. Instead, I just sort of outgrew it.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t retain a profound respect for the dangers of lightning, because I do. I still recall how surprised I was to read that a canvas-topped car like La Wrangler is no protection against strikes, this after I’d been driving her in and out of heavy weather for years. I still do, when by myself, taking a what-are-the-odds attitude, but back when the gels were playing softball I always insisted that we go shelter in the snack bar when a storm came over instead of getting in the car like everyone one else at the fields.

Anyhoo, it was a delight for the first time this season (I believe) to pour another glass, settle down in my comfy chair, and stare out the window as Ma did her pyrotechnic thing.

Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

UPDATE: Speaking of which, I meant to report that we seem to have achieved peak Cicada Nation. They got off to a slow, subdued start due to cool nights earlier but are now hitting the decibel levels I recall from the last go-round. It’s like an original-series Star Trek phaser being continually fired.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the slight dearth in postings but the pollen is really zapping Ol’ Robbo’s capacity for creative thought.

We had some rain yesterday. Where the puddles eventually dried out on the driveway there are now large rings of concentrated yellow. The inside of my head feels exactly the same way. Even on the backsides of my eyeballs.

I very much look forward to the end of the season.

UPDATE: It has come to Ol’ Robbo’s attention that today, apparently, is National Wine Day.

I shrug. ‘Round these parts every day is Wine Day. You might as well try to designate a National Breathing Day.

But it reminds me of some follow-up investigation I need to take care of insofar as Youngest returned from her first year of college with a genuine taste for rosé. Well, I mean….. A paternity test is definitely called for since if she likes that stuff she can’t possibly be a child of mine.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Various and sundry activities and observations this early summah-like Saturday:

–I’ve not yet been out of the house since Kommissar Northam lifted the maskerade but Mrs. R and Eldest have and they both report a very real shift in public feeling. Many more people about. Folks seeming happier and more energetic, like they’re waking up from a long, evil dream. ‘Bout dam time, too. The question is whether they’ve actually learned anything or whether they’ll once more play the sheeple next time their Betters tell them to. (Guess which way I’m betting.)

–On that note, Ol’ Robbo is heading to the store later and if any residual maskhole gives me a hard time I plan to make devil’s horns on my head with my fingers and hiss at them.

–Speaking of which, perhaps because of the shift, perhaps because I just got tired of listening to Mrs. R gripe about it, this morning Ol’ Robbo did away with his plague beard. (Pity, cos I rayther liked it myself.) Now Mrs. R wants me to keep a stubbled look, but to me it needs to be either all or nothing: Calculated stubble, so I told her, is for soyboys.

–Now that the chin-musick is gone, however, I immediately see how very badly I need a haircut. (A real one, not the self-administered hackings with which I’ve been getting by all this time.)

–Speaking of trimming, those of you following along will be interested to know that Ol’ Robbo has been taking his weed n’ feed lawn guy’s advice and mowing at a higher blade setting. Correlation isn’t causation and all that, but I will say the lawn is looking better this year than for some time past, so I think I’ll stick with it. (Plus, it’s a real joy to be able to ignore several tree roots that used to give me much anxiety.

–Also speaking of trimming, I was out dealing with the holly hedge by the sidewalk today. Our neighborhood is pretty relaxed as far as HOA-type issues go and the only time anybody gives me any grief about landscaping is when some Karen decides I haven’t pruned back the hollies from the sidewalk quickly enough and starts leaving anonymous, snarky little “reminders” in my mailbox. She’ll have to go fuss somewhere else this year.

–Finally, Ol’ Robbo was pleased to see one of his long-time axioms confirmed this week. Waaaay back when we were first married, Mrs. R briefly got into drawing and illustrating. Being the attentive young husband that I was, I surprised her (on Mother’s Day or her birthday, I forget which) with a full-sized drafting table and chair. She was quite pleased at first, but the artistic urge didn’t last all that long and the table eventually went into storage. Every so often over the years, when Mrs. R has been on one of her purge jihads, she’s argued we should get rid of it. But each time I have persuaded her not to.

Mrs. R has been using Middle Gel’s bedroom as her teaching lab this year but the Gel has only a tiny little desk and Mrs. R has grown increasingly frustrated trying to set up all her materials on it. Finally, she re-remembered the drafting table this week and asked me to get it out for her. I nearly broke my back hauling the thing from the basement up to the second floor, but it did prove my point: Never, ever throw anything away if you can possible avoid doing so because you never know when you might need it again.

It’s almost as if Ol’ Robbo knows what he’s talking about sometimes!

UPDATED: Whelp, that didn’t last long. Mrs. R has now pronounced that she likes the beard after all and would I please grow it out again.

Of course, Ol’ Robbo has been around long enough to know what all this is really about. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath nailed it in one:

“My liege lady, generally,” quod he, “Wommen desiren to have sovereynetee/ As wel over hir housbond as hir love/ And for to been in maistrie hym above.”

Wommen” – Same as it ever was.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mention of “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” in the update to the post below reminded Ol’ Robbo of a fun fact he’s been harboring at the back of his braims for a bit now.

Just bear with me here.

First, you have to be somewhat familiar with the comedy “Airplane!” Remember in the airport scene when the tower crews are introducing themselves to each other? In one of his characteristic outbursts, Johnny exclaims, “Me John – Big Tree!”

That joke meant little or nothing to Ol’ Robbo for a very long time, just a piece of random silliness. BUT, here’s the thing: There really was an actor named Chief John Big Tree. He had a lot of bit parts in old westerns, but he also got a couple of credits, including for “Yellow Ribbon” where he has a scene with the Duke.

I call that pretty neat. So Johnny is still just being silly, but at least there’s some context to his silliness.

Now some of you may have known this already, others not. I bring it up simply because I only recently groked it. Share and enjoy!

(What, would you rather I post about the garbage news about the garbage behavior of garbage people?)

In a totally different piece of moovie news, I understand that Middle Gel is taking her Young Man to go see a theatrical performance of “Top Gun“. (She tells me it’s been newly remastered.) Now that I think about it, Ol’ Robbo is a leetle staggered at just how old that movie actually is now. In my personal timeline, it still goes in the category of films made “Oh, a few years ago, I guess.” Yikes.

The Gel has never seen the film before. I’m not sure about her Young Man. I’ll be interested to hear what she thinks. Certainly if there was ever a woman I knew who would get a kick out of watching fighter jets hurtle across the sky, it would be she. On the other hand, that film was pure Reagan Era. How relatable is that to the yoot of the garbage times into which we’ve descended?

(To be fair, I’ve never had the urge to add “Top Gun” to my own collection, although I’ll watch it now and again when it turns up on cable. I dislike Tom Cruise pretty intensely and I’ve never understood the Kelly McGillis thing. But I like the coo-el fighter jets, too.)

UPDATE: The Gel (a regular reader here, incidentally) reports: “Top Gun was pretty dang cool. They were playing it in the movie theater what has the fancy sound system so it was incredibly loud but I think that added to all the cool jet scenes.” Heh, I figured as much. (“I feel the need for speed” is her driving mantra, by the bye, which is probably a reason why she liked the film. When I do the math on her departure and arrival times coming and going from school, it can make me feel quite faint sometimes. **Glares through Innertoobs at Middle Gel**)

Oh, and Young Man evidently had seen the film before but a long time ago. A good time was had by all, so I understand.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It has become clear to Ol’ Robbo, now that Cicada Invasion has started in earnest, that Eldest Gel simply will be unable to resist the temptation of casually asking Mrs. Robbo, “Say, what’s that in your hair?” until either the bugglies are all completely dead and gone, or else until Mrs. R learns to stop instinctively hopping up and down and thrashing herself in panic as a result of such query.

People who claim that the wimminz are kinder and gentler than us testosterone-laden brutes talk a lot of bosh. In fact, the Fair Sex are just as aggressive, and perhaps even more so, only they’re sneakier and more underhanded about it and don’t play by any recognizable set of rules.

Kipling had it right. More d than the m. By far.

(Time to go watch another Duke Wayne movie just to keep myself centered.)

UPDATE: Went with “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, just for the record. (I’m still up in the air about which of the Cavalry Trilogy I like the most.) I’m slowly building my collection of all the John Wayne – John Ford westerns before they’re disappeared. I have all of them now except “Stagecoach”, “3 Godfathers”, and “Liberty Valance”.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

To hell with the nooz today. How about something lighter?

—Ol’ Robbo is hearing this morning the first strains of the Cicada Love Song. It’s still off in the distance but will no doubt be all around Port Swiller Manor very shortly. As I remember from the last time 17 years ago, it sounds almost like a car alarm going off somewhere in the neighborhood when the little bugglies start harmonizing.

—I mentioned here some Saturdays ago that my next door neighbors have got into gardening this year by putting out four 4X4 raised boxes in their backyard. I wondered at the time what they were planting. Turns out it’s definitely produce: I can see several different varieties of lettuce coming up, what look like some tomatoes, and various other greens. Alas! While they took pains to deer-proof the arrangement, they seem to have forgot about the rabbits. Little Bunny Foo-Foo and his buddy were in the beds chowing down this morning. This is why I stick almost exclusively to pest-proof plants. You really just can’t win.

The peony I mentioned getting ready to open up on Saturday has now done so. It’s too bright out right now to get a good photo but I’ll try to put one up later on when the sun has shifted somewhat.

UPDATE: Here ya go!

The funny thing last year was that this bush produced only a single bud. Frankly, it had me quite concerned. All’s well now however:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see from Kommissar Northam’s (surprising to me) release about the masking stand-down that today is “It’s Our Shot, Virginia: Statewide Day of Action” Day.

Oh, goody.

Says the release, you, too, can participate by:

  1. Signing up to be a COVID Community Ambassador. Ambassadors will help share COVID-19 updates and materials from top experts and sources with their networks and in their local community
  2. Sharing your vaccination story on social media. Add a Facebook profile photo frame, upload a backdrop to your next virtual meeting, or record a short video highlighting why you chose to get vaccinated using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia. 

Call Ol’ Robbo nekulturny if you wish, but block captains and mass virtue-signaling are not tools likely to shift him from his deep skepticism concerning this whole, miserable snafu.

“Citizen! Allow me to share with you updates and materials from Top Men. Top. Men.”

“Yes! Yes! And in turn let me publicly express my unquestioning fealty to your wisdom and guidance! (And please to note that guy over there stopped clapping before I did!)”

I believe I will pass.

By the bye, that “It’s Our Shot” line really irritates me. (Walgreen’s is using it in a teevee ad, too.) The older I get, the more such manipulative, hyperbolic rah-rah triggers my “Fook off!” reflex.

As for the mask biznay, Mrs. R has walked into two different grocery stores in the past couple days maskless and nobody has said anything to her about it. Perhaps this is a sign that most businesses don’t have the stomach for demanding to see their customers’ papers before letting them in. I hope it stays this way.

UPDATE: I should perhaps make clear that I have absolutely nothing against anybody who wants to keep wearing a mask or to get the shot or to insist nobody comes near them. Everybody’s got different situations, priorities, and risk/benefit calculations. My point is simply that I want to be left the hell alone for my choices, too.


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May 2021