Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The new washing machine was delivered to Port Swiller Manor this morning. When they said 7:00 A.M, by jigs, they meant 7:00 A.M. Lots of new electronic whistles and bells compared to its dead, 20+ year old predecessor. One of them is a “stain removal guide” setting. The choices include “tomato, wine, blood, grass, [and] dirt”, which immediately struck me as an outline for a fairly lurid thriller. (Perhaps I’ll write it.) Making its maiden run now. Definitely has a larger capacity than the old one.

In a change from the ordinary, Ol’ Robbo needs to refill his hummingbird feeder today not because the current content is getting old but because the little blighters have almost emptied it. I can’t recall a more active year here. There are at least three of them, and hummers being such aggressive and territorial types it’s like watching the Battle of Britain every day. (How any of them has time for sipping in between dogfights escapes me.)

I continue to scan the headlines with disgust and contempt, but also with a certain detachment because I have God. (This may sound trite or corny, but I’ve worked hard at it and finally begin to understand, however hazily, what it truly means.) How horrifying it must be for those who replace Him with worship of the State or themselves or nothing or whatever to lead such angry, empty, deceitful lives, only to discover in the end how wrong they were. (I think of the demise of Mabel Brand in Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World. One of the scariest things I’ve ever read. But I also think of Puddleglum in The Silver Chair when the witch tries and fails to hocus him into denying his faith in Aslan.)

I assume that most of you who still bother to drop in here for a glass of port also spend time over at the Ace of Spades Moron HQ. Yesterday on his GAAAINZZZ thread, Ace mentioned a “push-up challenge”, the goal of which is to try and do 100 push-ups over the course of a day. As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo hit on this very idea himself a couple of months ago. I’m now doing 125 a day, in sets of 25. It may sound idiotic, but I only actually stumbled across the principle of doing push-ups properly fairly recently. All those years I had been concentrating on trying to straighten out my arms instead of pressing with my pecs. What a difference.

My next challenge will be pull-ups, which I can’t do worth jack.

I’m probably a bad old man for it, but now that Mrs. R and Eldest are back at work at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, I derive a certain satisfaction at watching them have to get up early in the morning to get ready. (Summahs have always been a bit irksome when Robbo has to put on the ol’ harness while everybody else sleeps in.)

On the gardening front, I will be cutting back the forsythia this weekend in order to see if I can get a more concentrated bloom next spring. They had plenty of flowers last year (thanks, I believe, to the lime treatment I started giving them) but they were overgrown and stringy. We’ll see what happens.

Also on said front, Ol’ Robbo is geeking out because his lawn service sent out order forms for fall aeration, over-seeding, and lime treatment, for which I am enthusiastically signing up. It’s my Christmas present to myself this year. (No kidding.) The Port Swiller Manor demesne hasn’t had such care since we first moved in and I’m determined to wrestle it back to good health.

And speaking of which, time for Ol’ Robbo to go haul out the mower…….

French-Fried UPDATE: Because Ol’ Robbo got the jump on his Saturday yardwork chores early, he was able to spend the afternoon lounging about. Following up on my comment about misbegotten Jackie Chan scripts the other day, I spent it reading Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days.

Well, I’m not sure what I was expecting, exactly. Perhaps at least just one futuristic invention? But, no: Just a fun adventure story heavily dependent on railway and shipping time-tables. And while others might roll their eyes and skip a bit when Verne starts going into detail about the geography of various railroads in India and the United States, I got a geeky pleasure out of them. (When I told Eldest about it, we got into a discussion of whether Verne himself put in the travelling leg-work to gather together all his information and atmosphere. I should think he must have done.)

Anyhoo, it’s tightly told and nicely written, and the perfect thing for a lazy afternoon in the hammock. And I was amused to see a Frenchy’s pen-portrait of a stuffy, stiff-upper-lip Englishman. (Somewhere or other, right on the outskirts of memory, I recall reading recently a discussion of foreign attempts to portray the English, in which Phileas Fogg’s name naturally comes up. It’s going to drive me crazy trying to remember where I saw this.)