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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those of you who had “November 30” as the date for the first snowflake sighting at Port Swiller Manor this year may collect your winnings at the window. (Granted, it’s just a very few flakes mixed in with some drizzly rain, but I definitely saw white and that’s good enough.)

It reminds me once again that I still need to purchase a new shovel after having broken my old one hammering at a layer of ice last year.

Ol’ Robbo used to get excited at the prospect of snow but now, not so much. For one thing, as regular friends of the decanter will know, the focus of school-related travel amongst the Gels has shifted from the East Coast to the Midwest, where both the younger ones will be driving to and from over the next few weeks. That in itself is enough to induce butterflies in my stomach. That they might try it in icy or snowy conditions? Yes. Quite. (I have been boring the Gels to tears over the past weeks lecturing them about paying attention to the weather and not attempting to move if things look questionable.)

For another, I’ve finally reached the age at which shoveling the stuff has completely lost any sense of novelty or fun, and is now just a damned pain in the neck (or back, to be more accurate).

Locally, we haven’t had a really big snow in about five or six years now. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold but relatively dry winter in these parts, but I can’t help feeling we’re about due for the next Snowpocalypse.

For once, I hope I’m profoundly wrong.

UPDATE – Genuinely coming down now and it looks like it’s sticking on the driveway a bit, so any quibbles about Ol’ Robbo declaring today the winner on a mere technicality can be put to rest.

Side-Rant UPDATE DEUX: When, exactly, did this “Giving Tuesday” thing start? My email in-boxes and even the radio are full of it today. However, the universal message seems to be “Give……to US!”

Ol’ Robbo smells a hustle here.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that everybody’s favorite panic plague is back in the nooz with a new “variant”.

I love, as has already been pointed out by many others, the fact that “omicron” is an anagram for “moronic”.

Pretty much sums things up.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the rumor swirls this afternoon that I might have blinked on getting the stupid vax prematurely. Grrr…..

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope and trust you all had a very happy Thanksgiving? The Family Robbo certainly did, traveling from various and sundry points to rendezvous at my brother’s place in North Carolina. The Gels and their three cousins, all around the same age, get on very well with each other. So, now that they’re all independently mobile, it’s very easy to let the young persons amuse themselves while we older folk just sit about and gossip.

My eldest niece is a first year law student and in the midst of furiously studying for her upcoming exams. (I love the gel dearly, but the fact of the matter is that she’s a consummate nerd of the first order.) When we first arrived she told me she had “tons of questions” for me, so I spent the whole time under a cloud of fear that she’d catch me out in ignorance of something I ought to know but had forgot. Fortunately, I only made one bloomer, saying off-hand as I looked over her civ pro outline that I hadn’t seen the name of a certain Supreme Court case since I graduated, only to have it pointed out that the case wasn’t actually decided until after 9/11, ten years after I left school. I covered with, “Well, I just meant it had been a long time, that’s all.” Fortunately, the gel let it go. Whippersnapper.

I hadn’t seen my brother’s grandson (my nephew’s boy) in a couple years. He’s six now, and smart as a whip. Evidently “Great-Uncle Robbo” was too much of a mouthful for him to bother with, so he settled for calling me “Uncle Grandpa”. I think it might stick.

As for the meal, us men-folk managed to get the turkey bang right this year, because of (or, in my opinion, despite) my brother’s shiny, new Williams-Sonoma digital thermometer. You plug the probe into the bird. It links to a base unit with an electronic temperature display. Fair enough. But there’s also an “app” that goes with it, allowing you to monitor things from your phone. It has all sorts of whistle and bell readouts about estimated completion time and the like. My brother spent all kinds of time fiddling with this to make it work, going so far as to download a “how to” yootoob video. Far more effort than I would have considered worth it: Seat-of-the-pants dead reckoning has always been much more my speed. Plus, I pointed out to him, Bob from the NSA now knows exactly how long we cooked the bird. Who knows how that might be used at our show trials.

The various car trips home were, I am happy to say, totally uneventful. Ol’ Robbo never completely unclenches until all the Gels report in safe and sound from their destinations.

And now, suddenly, we’re in Advent. Why this always seems to catch Ol’ Robbo by surprise I couldn’t tell you, but it does. I duly dug out our creche, and managed to clip some high greens off the pine in our yard without breaking my neck in order to do the first table wreath of the season. Now begins the annual scrimmage over when the “Tree” goes up. (As regular friends of the decanter will know, Ol’ Robbo always kicks over premature decoration, especially as everyone else in the family seems to forget that Christmas is twelve days, not one, and that Advent Must Come First. But that’s a rant for a different time.) Middle Gel will be coming through with her Young Man in two weeks and has requested that she get to decorate it then. The more I consider this, the more I think it’s probably a reasonable compromise.

On behalf of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art, Ol’ Robbo wishes all you friends of the decanter a very happy Thanksgiving Holiday.

May your travels be safe, your festivities festive, your food and drink abundant, and your souls grateful for the good things and patient about the bad.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo loves how his betters are telling him that if he thinks Thanksgiving Dinner is so damn expensive this year, perhaps he should consider skipping it, paring it down, or swapping out turkey for something else. (And it’s just a symbol of oppression anyway, haters.)

How does one say “Let them eat soy” in French?

Matter of fact, I am looking forward to getting back on the traditional track this year after all the recent alarums and excursions. My brother always roasts his bird outdoors over charcoal, giving us the perfect excuse that we need to “keep an eye on the temperature” in order to stand about out of earshot of our missuses, sipping adult beverages and speaking our true minds about things. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law always prepares way too many side dishes. And for some reason, everyone has got it in their heads that Ol’ Robbo is teh gravy expert, so I wind up being in charge of making that.

I’ll admit that the Thanksgiving turkey is my least favorite traditional holiday meal behind the Christmas roast beef and the Easter lamb, but it’s important nonetheless.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

(Ol’ Robbo may need to listen to some Purcell this evening. It’s been a while.)

What with one thing and another, I’ve spent very little time recently tickling the ivories, with the result that what little finger-memory I have has gone out the window again. This is what I get for being such a dilettante.

Whenever I hit this point, I always regroup by returning to two sets of works, the Bach Two-Part Inventions and a little album of sonatinas by composers such as Kuhlau, Clementi, Dussek, and the like. Banging around on these for a while always seems to limber up the fingers, the eyes, and the braims.

Of course doing so just gets me back to where I was before, an undisciplined, sight-reading hack. I’ve enough native talent that when I’m going well I can thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing, but part of me also feels somewhat ashamed at squandering my abilities this way. I used to tell myself that when I retire one of the things I will do is take up the study of musicke – both in theory and performance – more seriously, but now I begin to wonder whether my hands will be up to the task then.

We shall see.

In the meanwhile, St, Cecilia, ora pro nobis.

Thanksgiving Watch UPDATE: Youngest Gel just got home from school. She was in the Cincinnati airport at 5 ack emma and reports it was absolutely mobbed. A good sign that people are returning to travel, in my humble opinion.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, what else would Ol’ Robbo be discussing this time of year on a yardwork post? I wound up spending about six hours today gathering up leaves out front. Along the sidewalk, Maples 1 & 2 are completely bare, Maple 3 is now 50% down, and the big oak made its first major drop. Plus, the other maple by the garage suddenly up and let go this week, too.

Last week I mentioned alternating between cheery and gloomy approaches to dealing with the mess, but today I found it was just a matter of putting my head down and getting it done. One way or another I’m making many, many trips out into the back woods with a 6X8 plastic tarp full of leaves over my shoulder, and that’s all there is to it.

The good news is that at least everything was dry. The better news is that I am now much more than half way done for the season and unlikely to have to put anywhere near this much work in on any given day going forward. (And I am more convinced that the season is running something between a week and ten days early this year. I’m usually not this far ahead prior to Thanksgiving.)

The best news is that I now have an enormous pile out in the woods that would make even a former advertising executive from the Golgafrinchan “B” Ark green with envy.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo received some (other) wonderful news this afternoon that he can’t help but sharing here: Middle Gel has just been accepted into grad school!!

As I was wont to say back in the Llama days, Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip!

She’ll be headed off to Indiana next fall to start a masters in public administration with a concentration on environment and natural resources management. Her goal is a career in conservation, about which she has developed a real passion in college.

Ol’ Robbo can’t adequately state just how proud he is of the Gel, who has worked her backside off the last few years and has really blossomed into a fine young woman.

As for the field of her endeavor? Well, I may be naive, but I believe that it is possible to practice responsible stewardship (which is what true environmentalism is) without being seduced by the lies of utopian collectivist totalitarianism or being corrupted by outright grift. At least I hope so. Lord knows I’ve preached this often enough and tried to raise the Gel with the kind of character not to lose sight of it.

But ne’er mind that now. Instead, I invite all you friends of the decanter to fill your glasses, gunn’ls under, and toast her very well-earned achievement with three times three and no heal taps! Huzzay! Huzzay! Huzzay!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

70 degrees on the Port Swiller Manor back porch today, but after a bright start the clouds are rolling in and the temperature will plunge tonight. I’ve a feeling it’ll be a while before we get to enjoy this weather again.

The big oak out front is throwing its first batch of leaves at the moment, just in time for tonight’s rain. Guess who gets to pick them up tomorrow?

Ol’ Robbo finished Brideshead Revisited yesterday. It’s been some years since I read it last but I find my previous opinion that it lays on the melodrama too thick remains entirely valid. Maybe Waugh had no choice but to go this way to get out what he wanted to say, but I’m awfully glad he only did it with this one novel.

I have the BR teevee series with Anthony Andrews and Jeromy Irons in my Netflix queue somewhere. That, as far as I recollect, was an excellent screen adaptation and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

I also have the movie “Harriet” (2019) in the ol’ queue. This on the advice of Eldest, who tells me it’s quite a good film. Speaking of which, something I never understood: Among her other Civil War efforts, Tubman worked with Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts in their ill-fated assault on Battery Wagner outside Charleston, South Carolina in 1863. You would think, then, that she would have got at least a cameo in the movie “Glory” (1989), but such was not the case.

But what does Ol’ Robbo know of the workings of Hollywood.

Well, we’re a week out from Thanksgiving and the logistics of getting the entire Family Robbo to my brother’s house for the holiday are beginning to take on the complexity of the Berlin Airlift. Sigh. But I guess it just wouldn’t be my family if things were otherwise.

UPDATE: Well, now that’s odd. I’ve never noticed ads running here before. Has WordPress looked at my sitemeter lately? Waste of perfectly good pixels.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Flipping through today’s Wiki entry, I see where this is the anniversary of the birth of Sir Oswald Mosley, the British Fascist leader of the 1930’s.

This catches Ol’ Robbo’s notice for the fun reason that Mosley is the only actual person,*** to my knowledge, ever satirized specifically by P.G. Wodehouse, appearing in the form of Sir Roderick Spode, a loud, willful, gorilla of a fellah, first in the novel The Code of the Woosters, and subsequently in two or three other Bertie and Jeeves stories.

Spode, as you may recall, leads a Fascist group knick-named the Black Shorts because by the time he organized it, all the black shirts had been bought up and they were forced to uniform themselves in black rugby shorts. Spode also designs and sells ladies’ undergarments, a secret Bertie Wooster discovers and is able to use to thwart Spode’s bullying. The confrontation between Bertie and Spode in The Code is quite entertaining. A sample:

“It is about time, [Bertie proceeded], that some public-spirited person came along and told you where you got off. The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting ‘Heil, Spode!’ and you imagine it it the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is, ‘Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”

For gentle, kindly, old Plum Wodehouse, that’s pretty strong stuff. I’ve no earthly idea what, if any, reaction Mosely ever had to it, but I hope he laughed.

***It’s true that Wodehouse mocked A.A. Milne by making fun several times of his Christopher Robin stories, but he didn’t turn Milne into a character. (This was because Milne became jealous of Plum’s success as a writer and got publicly ugly about it. In fact, Milne was one of the chief voices who tried to smear Wodehouse as a Nazi collaborator. Not a nice man at all, at all.)


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November 2021