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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those friends of the decanter following Ol’ Robbo’s recent posts will be pleased to learn that my plan to attend to projects around Port Swiller Manor this week seems to be working out: I even had the sense to get up early this morning to get in some outdoor chores before the day became too unbearably hot and humid. (Not that I wasn’t sweating buckets by the time I got done anyhow.)

First up was retraining some ivy strands that are working their way across the wall above our garage door. Yes, ivy. Lots of folks these days react to the idea of ivy on brick walls the same way a vampire reacts to a crucifix, but I like it and I don’t care. (Odds are when we come to sell this place someday it’ll just get knocked down anyway.) This particular batch has really taken off of late, reminding me on the one hand of my godmother’s saying of “First year it sleeps, second year it creeps, third year it leaps”, and on the other of the George Price cartoon “Watch out, Fred! Here it comes again!” The strands, by the bye, were covered with ants. Fortunately, they were those very small ones that don’t bite, but I still don’t like having them crawl all over my hands and arms.

Next (well, after spraying weeds in teh garden but there’s nothing to tell about that) I attempted some temporary repair of a section of the fence hit by the big maple when it fell earlier this summah. One of the rails was smashed apart and I sought to nail it back together. (Eventually it will need to be replaced, but this will do for the nonce.) I won’t say that my carpentry skills are really all that bad, but I’m always reminded of an old joke: A young apprentice is banging away industriously when the foreman comes up and says, “Son, I’ve been watching you, and you really hammer those nails like lightning.”

“You mean I’m fast?” asks the apprentice.

“No,” says the foreman. “I mean you never strike twice in the same place.”


The last project was a bit unusual. We have three skylights on the Porch Swiller Manor back porch. Two of them are kept reasonably clean by the forces of Ma Nature, but the one closest to the house has been subject to some serious bird-bombing that the rain simply wouldn’t wash away. What to do about this was something that had been burning at the back of my mind for some time. The problem is that it’s a second story roof: Even though I could in theory climb out on to it from an upstairs window, that’s just too high for my nerves. But then I had an idea. Not climbing out the window but instead leaning out as far as I could, I discovered I could juuuust reach the whole thing with a mop. The result isn’t perfect and there’s still some cleaner residue that’ll need to be rinsed out by the next rain, but it’s certainly a lot better than it was.

Not too shabby a morning’s work, I think? I certainly feel entitled to the iced kawfee I’m currently enjoying. This afternoon I need to swing by the hardware store for some quick-crete and lawn moss killer for tomorrow morning’s jobs. My paramount goals this week are to hog back the forsythia hedge in the garden and to replace the dripping sink faucet in the downstairs loo. If I can hit those targets, I feel I’ll be in really good shape. Who knows? I might even go all in and clean out the garage for the first time in I don’t know how many years!


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August 2021