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Greetings, my fellow coffee chuggers!

Last evening Ol’ Robbo sat down to watch the made-for-teevee mocumentary movie “The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch. “

For those of you unfamiliar, “The Rutles” was a parody of The Beatles put together back in the mid-70’s by Eric Idle and Neil Innes of Monty Python fame.** Somebody or other put me on to the thing originally when I was in school in the 80’s and I immediately took to them. The musickal and lyrical lampoons were immensely clever and funny, and it is some tribute to their quality that most of the Beatles themselves, if memory serves, liked them, too. I had one of their albums back in the day, which I thoroughly memorized, and also enjoyed the original mockumentary “Meet the Rutles”, which I also like to think of as the godfather of “This Is Spinal Tap” and the other Christopher Guest films of that genre.

So it was with immense disappointment that Ol’ Robbo realized about ten minutes in that TR2, which came out in 2003 or 2004, was going to be a real beaten-dead-horse affair. As the “interviewer”, Idle mostly served up nothing but a lot of warmed-over Python gags (and it occurred to me, thinking of some of his other projects over the years (see “Spamalot”), that this is pretty much all he’s ever done since the early 70’s). Guy’s gotta eat, same as the rest of us, but c’mon.

Also, the “theme” of the show was the “influence” the Rutles supposedly had on other famous groups and stars, so it’s filled with “interviews” of people like Mick Jagger, Salman Rushdie, David Bowie, Clint Black, Carrie Fisher, Jewel, Tom Hanks, Gary Shandling, Steve Martin, and other early-2000’s celebrity big bugs. Ol’ Robbo hates this particular phenomenon, especially when it’s so overdone as it is here.*** It’s a kind of Inner Circle fashionableness, like doing a guest voice appearance on “The Simpsons,” or a cameo in (God help us) one of the innumerable “Sharknado” sequels. Aren’t we hip? Isn’t our presence here a Thing? Aren’t we in the know? Pah.

Anyhoo, I thought the whole biznay was flat and over-contrived, which is too bad since, as I say, I enjoy the franchise so much.****

** I tried to explain this to one of the Gels once and got the reply “Who cares about the Beatles?” Whippersnapper!

*** It can be done successfully and entertainingly, but I don’t know where or how the line is drawn. For instance, “The Blues Brothers” is, in Ol’ Robbo’s humble opinion, one of the great films of all time, and it certainly has its celebrity appearances, some in big roles, others in cameo. I suppose a major difference there is that the celebs were playing material parts, not wallowing in self-adoration. Plus, the writing was of course infinitely better.

****This could, of course, be the Lenten lack of port talking. But I know what I saw.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers!

Ol’ Robbo noticed this article yesterday evening: Owners may play big role in dogs’ problem behaviors, researchers say.

Dear me, what would we do without researchers?

Nearly one in three pet dogs suffer from […] ADHD-like repetitive behaviors — and researchers now suspect that an animal’s home life could be the cause.

A study involving thousands of Finnish pet dogs found that certain factors make a canine more likely to develop repetitive [neurotic] behaviors, including: belonging to a first-time dog owner; living in a larger family; being the only dog in a family; getting little exercise.

Ya think?

It seems obvious to Ol’ Robbo that it’s high time for Our Betters to step in and rectify this problem, and that people who hide behind pet-ownership “rights” should no longer be allowed to continue preventing our dogs from being the True Dogs they want to be. I see a massive, coordinated program among government, schools, and Big Entertainment (and who are you to challenge it, hater?!) to lead us to a Brave New Canine World. Sing it with me, people: “Hoooowlleluia!”

Thinly-veiled sarcasm of current events aside, there is, of course, much common sense in the notion that nutty pet owners produce nutty pets. (Which see my first reaction. See also my In-Laws.) Three out of the four factors listed above (I don’t much see where a large family plays in) translate into spoiling the pooch rotten, which leads to predictable results.

I chuckle thinking about this because of our experiences with Decanter Dog. She’s Mrs. R’s first and is also the only dog on the establishment and, yes, gets babied to the nines. She’s also the most neurotic dog I’ve ever owned. Of course, she’s a spaniel, which is a notoriously high-strung breed in the first place, plus she was three or four years old when we adopted her and already pre-packaged with most of her nutty traits, so there is that.

We don’t discuss it much because hopefully it’s still some time away, but Mrs. R has absorbed much knowledge from her experience and is already beginning to think downstream about the next Decanter Dog. She’s at least resolved to find something much younger and therefore more under our immediate powers of molding, and is also considering a more constitutionally-relaxed breed like a retriever of some sort. But will she resist the urge to spoil and baby that one? Are you kidding me?

A cup of kawfee with the Puppy-Blender.

**UPDATE: Obligatory joke:

Man and his dog walk into a small town.

“Gather round, folks!” says the man, “My dog can talk! I’ll show ya for just a dollar!”

A curious crowd ponies up the cash.

“Okay,” says the man to the dog, “What do you call the top of a house?”

“Roof!” says the dog.

“What is the texture of sandpaper?” says the man.

“Roof!” says the dog.

“Who was the greatest baseball player of all time?” says the man.

“Roof!” says the dog.

The last question is the final straw for the crowd. They take back their money, smack the guy around, and drive him out of town.

As the man and his dog are retreating, the dog turns to the man and says, “I dunno, maybe I shoulda said DiMaggio?”

Greetings, my fellow coffee chuggers!

With Easter Sunday now a little over two and a half weeks out, the Robbo mind begins to turn to consideration of what to feed the family in celebration. My brother and his crew can’t make it up this year, so it will just be the immediate household plus my elder cousin (whom I’d like to serve up a big helping of crow over her Fauci-worship these past two years, but of course will restrain myself from so doing.)

Anyhoo, for four out of the six, the choice is obvious: Ol’ Robbo did a rack of lamb a couple years ago that would have had the cherubim and seraphim choiring had they been at the table. I shall certainly do so again. (What to serve with it, I’ll think about later. There are many options, of course, and not much pressure.)

But then there’s Mrs. R and Eldest Gel, who, and believe me that it pains Ol’ Robbo to have to say so bluntly, both cretinously turn up their noses at said rack.*** Recently, they formed up a deputation and approached me with the suggestion that “maybe [I] could do something with lobster or shrimp, or both.”

Well, maybe.

I do several fairly simple shrimp dishes in various sauces and usually served over pasta, but my entire experience of lobsters consists of getting live ones and tossing them in a pot of boiling water, which isn’t happening here. And I’d like to find some recipe somewhat, well, more formal and fancy in order to mark the day.

Do any friends of the coffeepot have any suggestions?

*** The Mothe used to get so angry about family pickiness back in teh day that she routinely threatened us with Hamburger Helper and Cheez-Whiz, with Lil’ Debbie snack-cakes for afters.

Non-Sequitur Hot Real Estate Market UPDATE: Just had to tack this on because it makes me very happy, indeed. Following up on my random little things post below, I did put up the new birdhouse yesterday afternoon (amid more snow flurries). It’s on a five-foot pole near a relatively open space along the fence with a southeastern exposure.

I expected it to sit there largely ignored for a while, but this morning I’ve already seen a couple of bluebirds seriously checking it out.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers!

It would seem that Ol’ Robbo typed the post below blathering about the ongoing Springification in these parts somewhat prematurely, as we wound up getting snow flurries on and off all of yesterday afternoon. (But then again, by Thursday we’re supposed to be in the 70’s with thunderstorms, so go figure.)

Recognizing an opportunity when I saw one, I built a fire and promptly dozed off in front of it, but not before making the rather odd discovery that I’ve never before read the second volume of the Father Brown stories that I own. While I recognized most of the stories in the first volume I reread last week, these are proving to be, if you’ll forgive me, a complete mystery. I can’t think why I haven’t read them before, except that I must have finished the first volume, been distracted by something else, and forgot about it. (I always read Father Brown’s lines in Alec Guinness’s voice, by the bye. Although I never actually have seen his movie version, it seems to me he was made for the part.)

My dozing was interrupted later on by the arrival of the FedEx truck with two packages important to me. The first was a new gas cap for La Wrangler, about which we chatted here the other day. I immediately scurried out into the garage and snapped it into place. Nice, very tight fit, and only fourteen bucks. I’ll bet that engine light goes away now. I am endlessly fascinated and delighted by the ability to simply switch out components like that. Thank you the Industrial Revolution. I still remember seeing a film back in my yoot in which somebody or other was lobbying a late-18th Century gubmint official for a contract on mass-produced muskets. He had a box of flintlock components and invited the official to pull out a random assortment and put the assembly together himself. Obviously, it left an impression on my younger self. (I couldn’t tell you anything else about the film except I’m pretty sure I saw it in elementary school. Compare and contrast that with what passes for “education” these days.)

As for the second package, Ol’ Robbo is planning to hang out his hummingbird feeder in the next two weeks. Floating around in the back of my mind had been the yearly battle with the ants getting into the thing, so on a whim I went to the devil’s website and typed in “ant traps for hummingbird feeders”. One of the downsides of living in a bubble as I sort of do is that I sometimes miss that other folks run into the same problems as me: The search revealed quite a little cottage industry of gadgets and devices designed to deal with exactly this invasive nuisance. I picked a delightful little red-glass “moat” that you hang immediately above the feeder and that puts up a barrier of water (or whatever you wish) the little bastards simply can’t get across. Simple and ingenious, and of a decorative pattern that even matches the feeder itself.

Okay, I said this post was about little things and I meant it. Figuring out fixes to small, immediate problems is a lot more gratifying than pulling out my hair over the madness and idiocy I see all around, but about which I can’t do much of anything.

More Little Things UPDATE: Hooray! The pole for the birdhouse I mentioned below arrived this afternoon. That was fast. Mayhaps after I’m done with work I’ll go out and set it up (if the cold, howling wind abates a bit by then).

And no, in case you friends of teh coffee pot are interested, Ol’ Robbo didn’t even know the Oscars were last evening until I read about the accompanying “flap” today. Not that I care about that anymore than I care about who won what. Garbage in, garbage out.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers.

[Rant on]

Has Ol’ Robbo mentioned here lately just how much he detests Home Despot? Well, allow me to do so again: Reader, I really detest Home Despot.

For one thing, they never have what I actually need. I decided I was going to put up a new birdhouse this spring. They had that, alright, but they don’t carry a pole on which to mount the thing (unless, of course, you want to put a 4X4 post in the ground, which I don’t). So I wound up having to go to the devil’s website anyway, which I could have done first thing and saved myself a needless trip. (The pole is supposed to arrive next weekend. I think I’ll be juuust under the wire getting the house up in time for the bluebirds to take an interest in it this year. I hope so.)

For another, Ol’ Robbo knows of no other retail establishment in which the staff is so brutally indifferent to whether their customers live or die, much less whether they find what they need. At my local, family-owned hardware store, they descend upon you as soon as you walk in (which I don’t like that much either, frankly). At the HD, however, they even go so far as to pretend not to hear you when you ask a question, and treat you like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel when they finally have to acknowledge you.

Grrrr.

[Rant off]

Anyhoolios, Spring proceeds apace round here. T’other day I was walking down the sidewalk with Decanter Dog when I noticed a big, white-flowered magnolia in full bloom. “How lovely,” I thought. It took me a couple minutes to realize it was my magnolia. D’oh! (In my defense, the side what blooms heaviest faces away from Port Swiller Manor.)

I’m happy to report that the weed-whacker fired right up this morning when I pulled it out for its first use of the season. Pretty not bad considering the gas has been sitting around all winter and how little maintenance I actually do on either it or the mower. I’ve noticed recently that Stihl is doing a big-time advertising campaign for “green”, battery-powered yard tools now. Color Ol’ Robbo dubious. I can see that for something like an electric drill (heck, I own one), but can something much larger like a blower or mower or whacker really carry the kind of charge it would need to do the jobs I have round here? Somehow I see what takes me two to three hours on a Saturday morning spooling out to a much bigger time-suck as I wait around for the damn batteries to recharge half-way through the job.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the goldfinches are really coming out in their summah colors now. (For some reason, my field guide also includes the European goldfinch, which is kind of a trainwreck as far as plumage goes and not nearly as handsome as our American variety. I also think the American robin superior to its European counterpart.)

Also, I currently have six different pairs of cardinals fighting with each other around the feeder. I think my record is eleven pairs at one time, but that was during the winter when they aren’t so territorial.

UPDATE DEUX: I went back and looked up the Euro-goldfinch in my Peterson’s (4th ed. , 1980, which means I probably need to update it). It has this classic description of the thing’s range: “Eurasia. Introduced Bermuda. A colony established on Long Island is now extirpated. Escapes are still reported.”

People think I’m weird because I like to read this guide but I’m here to tell you friends of the coffee pot that it’s absolutely chock-a-block with droll little literary gems like that.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Even though it’s somewhat off the beaten path for Ol’ Robbo as far as religious art goes, I’ve long loved this rendition of Mary’s encounter with the Archangel Gabriel by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898), in part due to its vibrant composition, but also because he seems to have been thinking along the same lines as C.S. Lewis regarding the physical manifestation of angels (see Lewis’s treatment of the Oyéresu in his Space Trilogy, for example). Almost the first thing an angel ever says to a human in their scriptural encounters is “Be not afraid”. According to Lewis, and seemingly Tanner, what scares the daylights out of us is that angels inhabit such a shatteringly different plane of existence that our poor, limited minds are simply overwhelmed by contact with them. What appears as a shimmering pillar of light to our eyes carries an infinity of weight behind it.

As for this particular encounter, I’m simply reminded again that the biggest theological jump I had to make when coming into Holy Mother Church was adjusting to Mary’s omnipresence. It wasn’t so much that she was denied in any way under my prior schooling but that she was practically non-existent: a single reference in the Creed, a rare but nonsensical sermon about how she was a proto-feminist or represented grrrrrl power, but beyond that? Crickets. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had taken up the Rosary in earnest for Lent. I feel that I’m finally, finally starting to really Get It.

I’m reminded again, also, that in The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien chose March 25 as the date of the destruction of the Ring of Power and the downfall of Sauron. He, of course, insisted that LOTR was not allegory and I believe him, but nonetheless I also believe this was a little grace note that he snuck in regardless: Mary’s “Yes”, after all, meant Satan’s doom, too.

UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo is reminded by a well-informed FacePlant source that today is also Maryland Day, commemorating the first landing of British (Catholic) colonists there on this date in 1634.

Ol’ Robbo prolly should pay more attention to Murrland colonial history and get himself over to see some of the historickal sites, but the fact of the matter is that my dealings with the current inhabitants has cemented what is probably an indelible bias against the place in my mind, as encapsulated in a joke that even the Youngest Gel knows:

In order to pass the Maryland driver’s license exam, you have to cross over the river into Virginny and cause an accident.

It’s funny because it’s true. Good luck and God bless.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers!

Ol’ Robbo, busying himself yesterday with the “felicity of unbridled domesticity,”*** specifically, renewing various family car registrations, was surprised and delighted to discover that the Commonwealth of Virginny seems to think I have a year left on La Wrangler’s emissions test status and need take no action about it at the moment to get my new tags.

I say surprised because said test is only supposed to be good for two years, same as said tags. I can only suppose I’m getting the freebie due to some red-tape rigmarole associated with the Late Hysteria.

I say delighted because I’ve been riding around since late last summah with a check-engine light which wouldn’t pass the new test and have been avoiding dealing with it for fear of lurking costs. Now I can punt again. (I checked the code myself and it’s only an “Evap” which means there’s prolly not a problem at all, but who knows what other ailments they might find in the old girl’s innards if they start mucking about.)

Now I’ve only got to deal with the safety inspection sticker, which actually expired last October. I learned recently that, credit where due, former Governor Rat Bastard Northam tried to do away with this requirement altogether, but was kyboshed by Big Repair. Too bad. At the moment, Ol’ Robbo drives so little that I consider the risk of getting stopped by the coppers to be vanishingly slim, but starting in May I’ll be going back to the office on a limited basis, and it’s well known that they cruise Metro parking lots looking for things like this. Eh.

And speaking of such things, the other day Eldest suddenly announced that she needs a new car before she goes off to school.

“Oh?” I said, “Why?”

“Mine rattles.”

I laughed uproariously.

“Kiddo,” I said, “that’s a Honda CRV. You’ve got, what, 130K on it? It’s good for at least twice that if you take care of it. No new car.”

Sheesh.

That said, I will take the thing in to get vetted before she’s off. And no, not to the damned dealership. Mrs. R had gone to distinct pains to buddy up to the service manager there over the past few years, taking an interest in his kids, baking him cookies, etc. Nonetheless, he still tried to fleece her when she took the family Juggernaut in for some work a couple months ago. Real “Puddings: We trice ’em athwart the starboard gumbrils, when sailing by and large” territory.**** Suff on him.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered a fellah at the local Goodyear outlet (where I buy all my tires) who seems honest. When Mrs. R took the Juggernaut to him, he was very methodical about what needed to be done now, what could be put off, and what could be ignored altogether. I plan to take the Gel’s car to him, plus my own to get rid of that pesky engine light. Hopefully, he’ll stay trustworthy.

**Just read this post in a Click and Clack/Tappet Brothers voice. It’ll probably help.

***Spot the quote.

****And again. (I really had to work hard to drag this one up out of my memory, too.)

UPDATE: Speaking of cars, Ol’ Robbo is assuming at this point that the International Energy Agency (whatever the hell that is) suggestion of a “No Drive Sunday” is just so much noise and can be safely ignored. However, if Our Betters are ever tempted to try and actually enforce such a prohibition, they are invited by Ol’ Robbo in advance to go attempt the anatomically-impossible. This is not just talk. I’m going to church.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers and Happy Hump Day.

Yes, the Lenten grind goes on and is becoming more and more of a grind. Fortunate, Friday, March 25, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and therefore qualifies for what’s known round here as “Bacon Friday”.

Endeavor to persevere.

So what’s going on? Lessee….

Ol’ Robbo is happy to report that Middle Gel will not be taking that summah job at Nationals Park I mentioned the other week, because she’s been offered the one she really wanted with the Virginny Parks Department, where she’ll spend six weeks overseeing yoot conservationists cleaning and refurbishing various state park facilities at sites TBD. It’s the sort of thing out of which she wants to make a career and why she’s headed off for her master’s this fall. I tease her about becoming a Green Nazi but she insists she’s much more interested in practical issues like cleaning up the Chesapeake than she is in a Brave New World powered by rainbows and unicorn farts. We shall see.

Speaking of the Nats, Ol’ Robbo, in his (guarded and provisional) return to MLB was looking over their spring-training roster and likely position players. I haven’t the faintest idea who most of these guys are anymore, other than a handful of vets and one or two names I recognize from the minors. I must admit, I never saw the logic of putting together a World Series-winning team in 2019 and then immediately gutting it, but then again I don’t own a ball club. On the other hand, if you are going to spend time in the cellar “rebuilding”, 2020 and 2021 certainly were likely years to do so. Is it possible the Lerners knew what was coming? (Okay, even Ol’ Robbo doesn’t possess enough tinfoil to cover that theory!)

Speaking of entertainment, for some reason Eldest has had a long-standing grudge over the fact that Ol’ Robbo has never seen “The Lion King”. “I’ve studied Hamlet,” I say, “Bill had a way with words and action, ya know? Why should I watch a cartoon version with a singing warthog?” Finally, in a moment of weakness, I gave in recently. (She pulled the “I’m-leaving-home-soon-and-then-you’ll-be-sorry!” card.) But I insisted that in exchange she has to watch a Duke Wayne picture with me. She immediately suggested “Liberty Valance” but I know she’s seen that one already. I’ve pretty much got it narrowed down to either “Hondo” or “The Cowboys” now because of their heavy paternal themes.

Speaking of which, thank Heaven I have no small kids at the moment. The monsters aren’t even pretending anymore. That is all.

On the “They’ll Do It Every Time” front, it’s been a while since we’ve had any major appliance trouble, so the oven has decided to mix things up a bit by causing its own “off” button to break. Jab at it all you want and nothing happens now. Indeed, the only way to turn the damn thing off is to go down in the basement and throw the circuit-breaker for 10 seconds or so. (That was a trick an electrician taught us some years ago to combat the entire panel freezing up when the stove-top gas burners flare in a particular way on being lit. He didn’t even charge us for the advice. We liked that guy.) We’ll see how long I can tolerate this before biting the bullet and calling somebody to fix it.

And on that front, Ol’ Robbo has been noticing a quiet drip sounding in the wall nowhere near any pipes. I suppose this means I’m going to have to take a flashlight and go look at the roof in the attic. I really don’t want to see what I fully expect to see. (Damned squirrels!)

Finally, in the Weirdo Dreams Dept., I swear that last night in the midst of other highly strange sights and sounds I became aware of a string band performing a Baroque setting of Olivia Newton-John’s “Please, Mister, Please”. But then a trumpet broke in doing a jazz riff and the whole thing ground to a halt. (Heck, I don’t know!)

Time for more kawfee.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers and Happy Spring!

Bright and early Monday Morning isn’t exactly Ol’ Robbo’s usual time for gratuitous garden posting, but yesterday found me somewhat overwhelmed by a wave of New Ideas for fixing up the ol’ weedbeds.

For one thing, I’ve suddenly and finally come to peace with the idea that wiring and staking the garden to make it critter-proof is just never going to happen, and even if it did, who the heck wants a mini-Sing-Sing sitting in one’s back yard? So instead I’m going to go ahead and start putting in new, elevated beds, and simply nosing about for more plant varieties the beasties don’t care to gnosh. They must be out there. (If I wind up just growing cactus, then dammit, I’ll grow cactus!)

For another, I plan to overhaul all the borders, laying brick all round the central path and along all the beds. I should say relaying, because I actually lined the beds with brick twenty years ago, but laid them end-to-end, primarily out of economy. It looks, well, cheap. Time to upgrade.

Finally, I’m taking in hand the little patch designated as a memorial plot for those Decanter Pets no longer with us. Yesterday evening I went out and marked a little half-circle at the edge of the path, around which I’m going to build up a low wall with some fieldstone I have on hand, and within which I will place the small markers we keep in commemoration. (At dinner I also suggested perhaps a small statue of St. Francis, but Mrs. R had conniptions at the idea.)

Papist idolatry aside, Mrs. R was otherwise all for these ideas. But in typical wifely fashion, she said, “Oh, can you do the beds out front first, please? Everybody sees those. And don’t forget you promised to repaint our bedroom and the upstairs hall, too.”

**Bonk!**

Yes, suddenly it’s going to be a very busy Spring, indeed.

** By the bye, regular friends of the coffee pot will know I post this picture of Flora, which I believe is from Pompeii, every year on or about this date. Let me just say here that I never, ever tire of it, as it is one of the most lovely and graceful pieces of art I know.

[DISCLAIMER: This post is not an exercise in virtue-signaling, being holier than thou, or otherwise standing on the street corners and crowing like the hypocrites, nor should it be read that way. Ol’ Robbo is simply trying to sort out some thoughts by putting them down in pixels. Advice, counterpoint, and heaping criticism are, as always, welcome.]

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are at the third Sunday of Lent, and I’m here to tell you all that this year has been an eye-opener for Ol’ Robbo.

I hit it, as it were, in full stride for a change. In the old Roman calendar, the three Sundays prior to Lent (I won’t spell out the Latin names) are a kind of pre-Lent, a “setting the table”, as my padre puts it. I took that seriously this year, insofar as I’d been drifting a bit for a few weeks and decided it was high time I took myself in hand and started mentally preparing for what was coming. For all that, I almost literally had to wrestle myself out of bed in the dark on Ash Wednesday to go to early Mass, but once I did, I knew I was on my way.

Ol’ Robbo has been working hard this year, very hard. I’ve knocked off teh gargle and fast twice a week, and have upped my daily prayer cycle (which see my previous post about the Rosary). This on top of boosting my exercise routine (which will become relevant in just a moment).

For the first week or so, I found myself almost, well, jubilant. There’s a story about Franz Joseph Haydn who, upon hearing of criticism from a Church official that some sacred composition of his was too lighthearted, was said to have replied that he couldn’t help it: When he started to think about God, he became so overjoyed that it just naturally bubbled up in his music. (Which was totally sincere, by the bye, if said in a way to make said official look completely foolish. Dear ol’ Papa.) Not to take on airs, but I felt rayther like that. Indeed, so much so that I became somewhat concerned: Is it right to feel so happy about reaffirming one’s connection with God in a season when one’s supposed to be focusing on His own self-sacrifice for us miserable worms? I still dunno.

But then the reaction set in. As I mention, I’ve been exercising hard, too. Between that and my Lenten abstinences, the resultant crash in my carb levels and, er, lack of daily muscle-relaxant meant that while I power through the day just fine, I simply haven’t been able to keep my eyes open after dinner, and at the same time have not got a wink of sleep. I try to read for a while, but by about 8:30 pm or so it becomes useless. I crawl into bed after that but then spend all night tossing and turning. Cumulatively, it’s been rayther exhausting.

Ol’ Robbo fretted about this for a while because I had planned to devote my evenings to reading and contemplating improving works: St. Augustine’s Confessions, St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, et al. How the heck was I supposed to manage those when I could barely stumble through a Father Brown story? Indeed, a quiet little voice at the back of my head started whispering, “You know, Robbo, maybe just a glass of port at bedtime wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Just one. So to get some sleep. Just to help fill out your day spiritually, of course. Why not try it? He’ll understand….”

But then, a few days back, my Guardian Angel, ever so tactful, stepped in. Whapping me on the forehead with his knuckles, he yelled, “Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh? Penance, McFly, penance! ‘Voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.’ Living it as opposed to reading about it? Think, McFly! Think! (And if you think a little sleep-deprivation is uncomfortable now, just wait till Purgatory, boy-o!) Offer it UP, McFly!” Whap!

What a guy. Always looking out for me. (Ow!)

Anyhoo, as I say, here we are. Initial euphoria and antithetical self-pity hopefully out of the way now, Ol’ Robbo sees a balanced path forward. Lessee if I can make something even bigger out of it all.

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