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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No, Homeland Security’s newly-announced Ministry of Truth hasn’t come round to scoop me in (yet). Just busy, plus the pollen is playing Old Harry with my ability to think straight at the moment. (Seems to get worse every year.)

Back soon.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was listlessly watching the Nats drop another one last evening when an ad came on the teevee for the Dee Cee Metro. I’ve already seen this ad many times this spring, which features one of the station managers going about his biznay checking the equipment, monitoring the platform, interacting with befuddled passengers trying to figure out the ticket system, and so on.

As I half-watched it, though, it occurred to me that something was different. And then I had it… masks. Every single other time I’d seen this ad, everybody in it was masked to the gills. Inside, outside, manager unlocking the gate all by his lonesome in the pre-dawn, didn’t matter. But now? Nothing. Not a one.

Now you might be inclined to say, “Well sure, Tom, but what’s the big deal? The mandates are all either lifted or lifting, aren’t they?” And normally, you’d be absolutely right. But here’s the part that really got my attention: The masks aside, it was exactly the same ad as before, literally frame for frame. Same locations, same shots and camera angles, same motions, everything. (Same station manager, too, of course, although it happened so quickly that I honestly couldn’t tell if it was the same set of passengers.)

The effect, honestly, was rayther creepy, and immediately reminded Ol’ Robbo of the old Soviet photos in which individuals who fell foul of the regime were later airbrushed out. Are we now supposed to simply pretend none of this nonsense actually happened? (Yes, yes, I know this was probably not the intent, and that having the same guy do the same thing for the same ad was most likely simply a matter of not reinventing the wheel. But still, Ol’ Robbo notices these things. I also got wondering if they actually filmed both versions at the same time. “Okay, wave to the little girl on the escalator. Good. Okay, now take off your mask and do it again.” Given the hysteria, that idea amuses me intensely.)

Incidentally, it looks like I will finally be going back to the office on a very limited basis starting in the next week or two, so I’m quite pleased that Metro has dropped the mask biznay, not that it seemed to be being terribly rigidly enforced the few times I have had to venture into town in the last couple years. But I’ll bet you a dozen of the vintage of your choice that they come back at some point when the poltickal atmosphere requires them again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, a lowering, overcast morning here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. Ol’ Robbo doesn’t mind that so much because we haven’t really had much rain lately, but still it’s Tuesday and Tuesday always casts a pall over everything. So, what’s going on?


I see that the Nats didn’t lose yesterday, so at least I’ve got that going for me. [Narrator: In fact, the Nats didn’t play yesterday.] Of course it’s ridiculous to panic or write a team off completely eighteen games into a season, but my sense that there’s something just not right with this roster is deepening daily.


A recent conversation:

Self (to coffee-grinder, which has been giving me trouble lately): “C’mon, baby, what’s the matter?”

Mrs. R (off-stage): “Hey, you never call me baby!”

Self: “You don’t make me coffee.”


Ol’ Robbo is still chuckling over the whole Musk/Twooter story and the heads it’s causing to explode. For all that, I hope folks are paying close attention to what some are being prompted to blurt out about their contempt for the idea of free expression. There are stupid and evil people in the world, and they want to rule you.


Well, enough. On a happier note, our neighbors down the street have a lab puppy who they walk past my front window daily. He’s reached the stage where he looks bigger every single time I see him. That always makes me smile.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t said anything yet about the ongoing Disney melodrama, but I can assure you that if the underlying issues weren’t so appalling, I’d be laughing heartily about it all.

Long time friends of the decanter will already know that I have no love for die Maus. Indeed, a few of you may even recall the five-part post I did way back in the early Llama days chronicling my being dragooned off to the “Magic Kingdom” in 2005. But my dislike has always been mostly based on the manner in which the company has been able to hoorah the public into spending large amounts of money on a cheap, tacky, tinfoil image. (I’m speaking of the parks here, mostly.) That they should now choose to get into an utterly needless politickal fight which could very well damage or destroy that image astonishes me. Of all the manners I ever envisioned of die Maus’s downfall, I’d never have guessed he’d douse himself with gasoline and strike a match.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

UPDATE: Speaking of laughing heartily at headlines, Ol’ Robbo is, in fact, figuratively rolling on the floor about Musk buying the Twooters. Eldest sends this:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Quasimodo (or “Low”) Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo likes the conclusion to the Octave of Easter very much. After Lent, Holy Week, and the big Easter triumph itself, I always feel a sense of relaxing and taking a deep breath, of, as it were, not being “on” anymore for a while, if that makes any kind of sense.

I also like it because all the Christmas and Easter people have gone away, and taken with them their confusion, distraction, and (sometimes) bad manners. (On Maundy Thursday, the Mass of which our padre serves up in a sort of English/Latin hybrid, a woman sitting behind me said in a loud stage-whisper “At least we get to pass the Peace in English!”) And yes, I know this is bad of me.

Finally, I always enjoy the Gospel reading for the day, in which the risen Christ confronts the doubtful and insistent Thomas. It may just be Ol’ Robbo’s read on things, but I am pretty certain Jesus is doing a certain amount of gentle teasing of the gob-smacked Apostle here. I certainly hope I’m not wrong about this, because I’ve long seen it as an indication of His sense of humor, and I’d hate to think God doesn’t laugh from time to time. (And I love Caravaggio’s treatment of it, too.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got to slip over to Meadow Farms unsupervised yesterday, there to pick out plants for porch and patio. This doesn’t happen very much, as I have at times (I admit it) gone a little bit coocoo-bananas there. (I have the same problem with used book stores.) It was a lovely morning, the place was not over-crowded yet, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself dreamily strolling up and down the rows, turning over various possibilities in my braims.

In the end, my main purchase was a pair of hibiscus, which are now stationed in pots on either side of the birdbath. This is something of a deviation for Ol’ Robbo, as I generally avoid such gaudy and shouty specimens, but this time I found myself seized with a “why the heck not” spirit. Besides, the rational part of my head said that, putting them so near the hummingbird feeder, they’d act as a good lure to bring the hummers in. Whatever the case, Mrs. R stamped them with her seal of approval when she saw them in their new home, and that counts for much. (I haven’t the heart to tell her yet that they only grow as annuals in these parts. By the time that happens, fortunately, the bill will be a distant memory.)

I also put some salvia and false indigo in a few pots, again just to mix things up a bit, but I am now already contemplating the idea that they would make a lovely combination for a little 4×4 raised bed out in the garden. If memory serves, neither species is something in which the beasties are much interested. Perhaps I’ll move them out in the fall.

Finally, we keep an “herb corner” on the porch on a little iron spiral staircase arrangement. I’ve found over the years that I never much actually use any of the parsley, rosemary, oregano, or whatnot that we’ve grown there, so this year I wound up going “all mint” – sweet mint, peppermint, and spearmint, to be exact. “For drinks and things” I told myself. If nothing else, when watered, their smell is heavenly.

Well, that’s that. Ol’ Robbo woke up this morning with the optimistic thought that the grass didn’t really need mowing today, but sitting here on the porch with my kawfee and staring into the yard, I see that I was simply being foolish. Heigh-ho.

*** Not a theme, just an observation. My favorite part is the feeling the grains have managed to work themselves all the way round to the backs of my eyeballs.

UPDATE: Oh, for those of you keeping track, I’m afraid Mrs. Goldfinch has abandoned her nest over teh garage door after all. All the internal bedding has been thrown out with that air of “Oh, the hell with this!” that such nests always have. A pity, but like I said, a foolish place to have built it in the first place.

UPDATE DEUX: For reasons known only to Ma Nature herself, it seems this is going to be a year in which the Virginia creeper proliferates. I have no problem with the stuff in and of itself, and indeed have quite a bit of it on the sides of Port Swiller Manor, where it can turn a smashing red in the fall. I do have problems with it when it starts getting into places in which it has no biznay, and have a Star Wars-like bad feeling I’m going to be spending a good deal of time this year battling it. Grrrr…..

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

I hope all friends of the decanter will join me this festive day in donning your candy-ass monkey suits, dialing “Quando, Quando, Quando” up to eleven on your 8-tracks, and remembering not to “go changing”.

Ah, me.

Ol’ Robbo floats this joke every year on this day, and even though it invariably lays an egg, I still enjoy it myself.

In part, I love to pay tribute to a truly great movie that is immensely funny, eminently quotable (which see), has a fantastic soundtrack (which resurrected several careers and introduced a whole new generation to R&B), and has, in its themes of charity and redemption, a surprisingly strong Catholic underpinning. (“Boys, you got to learn not to talk to nuns like that.”) (Which see.)

In other part, I also love to spit on the modern “Environmental Movement”. Make no mistake: Ol’ Robbo believes in responsible stewardship as much as anybody else. But what goes on now in the name of “Green” is a cheat and a swindle and (shall I say it?) a blasphemy, a program based on politicks, not science, and designed for no other reason than to empower and enrich those in on it, and to shackle and enslave us peons who aren’t. (That this is also Lenin’s birthday is, to me, no accident. That one of the co-founders of “Earth Day” murdered his girlfriend and composted her body in his apartment closet is, shall we say, par for the course. Green on the outside, red on the inside. And you know who else was a keen environmentalist (and a strict vegetarian, and an ardent dog-lover?)) But don’t you dare question anything: the science, the costs, the liberties surrendered, etc. You just take that filthy, unreliable, dangerous public transportation back to your browned-out, unheated, stack-a-prole hovel and appreciate your soy rations while Your Betters jet off to Davos to discuss Deep Things before disbursing to their seaside mansions to wine and dine their cronies dropping by in fleets of SUVs. PAH!! As the Puppy-Blender likes to say, when the people who keep telling me there’s a crisis start acting like there’s a crisis, then maybe I’ll start to listen. In the meantime, they can sit the fook down and shut the fook up.

Ah. That felt good.

As regular friends of the decanter will know, Middle Gel is spooling up to go into a career in environmental management, finishing up her undergrad degree on it in a couple weeks and heading off to grad school in the fall for same. Ol’ Robbo has ranted and raved on the above themes to her for years and years and (I hope) instilled in her the necessary sense of balance and skepticism to allow her to do some real good while avoiding both the Scylla of rainbows and unicorn-farts idealism and the Charybdis of graft and corruption-fueled totalitarianism. I will say that if anybody can pull off such a delicate balance, she can. (If not, I hope she goes with the graft and corruption. That way, when I’m reduced to beggary, at least I’ll have a seaside mansion where I can go stay.)

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Yes, HRH Elizabeth II turns 96 today. Huzzay! Huzzah!

When I think of all the poor woman has seen and endured in her long life, both public and private, I shudder.

When I think of the way she has handled it, at least in public**, with grace, calm, and dignity, I am filled with pride and affection. This is the bearing of a true Queen. ****

As they used to say in the Philosophy Department of the University of Wallamaloo, she’s a good Sheila, Bruce, and not a’tall stuck up!

So, Mr. Vice, the Queen!

**Robbo runs round to the other side of his desk**

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen! And God bless her!

** For all Ol’ Robbo knows, in private she might smash the furniture, beat the servants, and kick the dogs. I wouldn’t blame her.

**** Ol’ Robbo, although increasingly populist in outlook, remains a Constitutional Monarchist at heart. It’s the politicos and bureaucrats for whom I have nothing but loathing and contempt.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has mentioned Decanter Kitten here from time to time. She’s actually two, now, so not really much of a kitten anymore. Plus, as she’s a Maine coon, she’s got big.

Teh Kitten has developed the habit of finding me in the evening and hopping into my lap, whereupon she rolls over and demands that I rub her tummy. I’ve never known a cat so enthusiastic about this form of attention, most of them in my experience going to tooth and claw if you get too near their undersides.

As much as teh kitty enjoys lolling under my gentle touch, however, she is also the most skittery animal I’ve ever known. Her head is on a constant swivel, and the least odd noise or sudden movement will turn her into an instant orange comet as she streaks off for shelter.

Now when Ol’ Robbo is reading a book or watching an old movie, at least she doesn’t have to fear upheavals immediately under her. However, as I’ve noted here recently, I’ve started watching the Nationals play ball again. And while I am generally known for being quiet and undemonstrative to the point of being called a “Vulcan” more than once, I tend to get rayther worked up while watching baseball, with much cheering or yelling (depending on the situation), heaving around in my seat, and arm-flailing.

This has come as a…..surprise to teh Kitten, she not having experienced it before due to my boycott of the last two MLB seasons. Suffice to say she burned a lot of calories last evening as Ol’ Robbo gave vent to his emotions over the Nats getting out of a sticky situation to take a double-header off the D-Backs.

Will she adjust, like a sailor finding his sea-legs? Or will she pursue attentions in other, calmer venues? (Good luck trying to get at Mrs. R, who has Decanter Dog glued to her constantly.) Who knows.

(By the bye, Ol’ Robbo was disgusted by the teevee announcers last evening when they started singing the praises of the DH rule. It’s one thing to quietly endure a piece of arbitrary totalitarianism. It’s another to pretend it’s a Good Thing. Quislings.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is taking the day off this Easter Monday in order to give himself a much-needed rest. (Actually, this isn’t even quite true: My eyes opened up at 6 ack emma as usual this morning and I was putting away the good china and silver and on my second load of laundry before I even thought about it. The work never really ends, and also I can’t relax when I know there’s still a large mess to clean up.)

I won’t say anything about Easter itself just yet except to make two points:

First, I think I did my rather pathetic self a world of good over Lend and Holy Week this year, and I now feel an urgent need to secure and make permanent those gains. Here’s hoping I can do so.

Second, a glass of wine (!) with long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory, whose suggestion that I make Lobster Newburg for those members of my family too heathenish to appreciate my rack of lamb proved a surprising success, even among the lamb-eaters. (Good think I made as much as I did.) I actually mixed lobster and shrimp, and served it up in little pastry “bowls” made from sheet dough. And if you’ve ever wondered to yourself, “Self, is it possible to jury-rig a steamer using an ordinary pot and a cut-up aluminum baking pan?” I can now say yes, yes it is. (The lamb, by the bye, prolly could have stood another five minutes in the oven, but it was nommed appreciatively by most of the table nonetheless.)


Our next-door neighbors had their house painted over the weekend. Like Port Swiller Manor, theirs is a two-story brick colonial with metal siding round the back of the second story. All the brick part is now white. Mrs. R and I have had occasion to discuss painting the Manor now and again over the years. The conversation has usually gone something like this:

Mrs. R: “I think I might like to paint the house.”

Self (pounding on the table): “Whisht, woman! I’ll nae hae any bricks on mah hoos but wha color Goad made ’em! Away with ye!”

Let’s just say now that Ol’ Robbo doubts we’ll be having this conversation again. Heh. (No disrespect meant, of course, to those who like painted brick. I just don’t. And this example has now proved to Mrs. R that it would be a bad idea here.)

And speaking of which, guess what’s invaded the house? Yes, you are correct: Squirrels! They’ve got into the attic through a hole where the fascia board has rotted under one corner of the roof. Yesterday one of the young’uns and I got into a staring contest when he poked his head out. Worse, one of the adults came down through the wall and has now got himself stuck in the downstairs ceiling. There’s a small gap in the siding where the porch roof-beam meets the wall and he’s started trying to dig his way through that. I’ve stood on a stepstool and jabbed at him a couple times with a long-handled toasting fork but he’s far too fast for me.

When I told Mrs. R about the infestation, she asked what I was going to do. “Oh, I dunno,” I said, “Poison ’em, I guess, if they don’t go away themselves.” That, as they say, tore it. Keep in mind, this is the same Mrs. R who will literally stand on a chair eeking in approved 50’s sit-com fashion at the sight of a mouse, and who won’t even go out on the screened porch when the bats are twittering about in the back yard. But her reaction? “Oh, how could you? The one in the ceiling is stuck and afraid and just wants to go home! You brute!” She’ll be crying out the other side of her face if the little bastard tree-rat does manage to punch a hole in the wall.


Speaking of houses, Ol’ Robbo was delighted when it looked as if a pair of bluebirds was taking up residence in the box he put out this spring, Mr. B aggressively defending the thing against the admittedly heavy traffic of other birds in the vicinity. But, alas, I guess they decided they just didn’t much care for the neighborhood after all, as they seem to have cleared off and their claim has now been jumped by a pair of house sparrows. I’m glad the box is being used, of course, but sparrows? Meh.

On the nesting front, I’d also just like to point out that if Mrs. Goldfinch doesn’t like the opening and closing of the garage door and the comings and goings of Robbo and family, she shouldn’t have built her nest in the ivy directly above said door in the first place. It’s not as if she hadn’t ample warning.

Finally on the bird front, Ol’ Robbo had an opportunity to chat for a few moments yesterday after church with long-time friend of the decanter NOVA Curmudgeon, who reported spotting the first hummingbird of the year at his feeder this weekend. Huzzay, huzzah! Now that I know they’re definitely in the area, I await the first incoming to my own feeder all the more eagerly.

Well, that’ll do for now. As I say, time for a break. After I switch out that next load of laundry, of course…….

Post-Break UPDATE: Well, having written about Mr. Squirrel in the ceiling, it’s now been better than 24 hours since I last heard him skittering around. Maybe I DID get him with the fork! Or perhaps he found his way out after all. Either way, the best problems are the ones that go away by themselves.

Ol’ Robbo spent yesterday afternoon rereading Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, which I hadn’t picked up in quite a while and which was therefore almost new to me. With all the masks being pulled off the faces of the global oligarchs these days, what GKC had to say about the true nature, identity, and goals of anarchists and nihilists 100+ years ago now has turned out to be eye-openingly prescient.


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April 2022