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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, the weekend is just about upon us, as is October. (How did that happen so fast?)

Ol’ Robbo is patting himself on the back with some complacence this morning over persuading Mrs. R not to go to South Carolina. The resort where she and her tennis chums were to stay shut down yesterday, having suddenly become the bulls-eye for Hurricane Ian. Those chums who did go and thought they could just ride things out were forced to drive home in a rental car because there were no flights available. Heh. Can I call ’em or what?

Speaking of “calling” them, once again the Pravda of the Potomac is pushing Climate Doom for all its worth, today gassing about the rising number of “Super Storms” and everybody’s favorite culprit behind them. Why “Super Storm”? They’ll give you a lot of song and dance by way of explanation, but it boils down to this: It sounds scarier.


Several times this week Ol’ Robbo has become aware that the teevee in the living room was on. On checking, I’ve discovered Decanter Dog on the sofa with the remote under her paw. You may say this was just an accident resulting from Mrs. R leaving the remote there, but I’m going to take a hard look at the cable bill anyway just to make sure the dog hasn’t been ordering things she shouldn’t.


I can tell you truthfully that I had nothing to do with blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines. (It seems everybody else on the planet is suspected by at least somebody so I thought I would try to reduce the confusion at least a little bit.)


Those of you keeping track of the McMansion being built across the street from Port Swiller Manor will be interested to know that the builders are now crowning the place with a cupola. And not just a simple octagonal protuberance, either. It’s got a sort of ridge running from its base to the front edge of the roof. Because why not. So far as Ol’ Robbo can tell, the place is being built on spec and hasn’t even got a buyer yet. On the other hand, what lunatic would gamble on sticking that thing up there if not specifically asked to?

By the bye, this term “McMansion” came up on a comment thread I was reading the other day. Some of the commenters took its use to mean a sneering derision on the part of la-di-da blue-bloods towards what they consider their inferiors trying to climb into affluence. That’s not what Ol’ Robbo means at all. To me it simply signifies a shoddily-built, ugly, and monstrously expensive house usually far too big for the plot of land on which it’s set, that’s all. The house would be the same no matter who moved into it.


UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo forgot to mention that the Port Swiller email was full of queries overnight as to why I didn’t mention the fact that yesterday was National Coffee Day. Heck, every day is Coffee Day. I see no reason to distinguish any one date in particular.

Whelp, on toward the weekend. Endeavor to persevere.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Good luck and God bless to those dealing with Hurricane Ian down in Flahrduh. (In the First World Problems category, I successfully persuaded Mrs. R to cancel her trip to a tennis retreat on the South Carolina coast today.)

All seriousness aside, Ol’ Robbo observed over teh past couple days that the usual suspects have been right in their happy place. The Weather Channel and its ilk have been swallowing their collective tongues, and the politicos have been spinning faster than the cyclone itself (mostly predicting that Florida was going to disappear beneath the waves thanks to that eeeeevil Gov. DarthSantis).

My favorite contribution, and I wished I’d kept it, was a piece Pravda on the Potomac’s Weather Gang put up on FacePlant a day or two ago. Did you know that Florida takes more hits from major hurricanes than any other state in the Union?

As Elaine Bennis would say, “Get OUT!!

Now why do you suppose this would be?

(**Ponders extensive tropical and subtropical coastline, prevailing winds and currents**)

Ooh! Ooh! Mister Ko-tter! I know! Glowbull enwarmening!!

Ol’ Robbo didn’t actually read the article, but “I’ll bet you credits to navy beans” that slant is in there.***

***If you can spot this quote, you ought to be ashamed of yourself because you’re a complete nerd.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In case you friends of the decanter have not been following, Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats suffered their 100th loss of the season last evening in a mercifully short game against the Braves**. I’m not quite certain, because the rules keep getting loosier and goosier, but I think this mathematically eliminates us from playoff contention this year.


I blame the team’s Lucifer-like plunge from heroes to zeroes over the past two years completely on skin-flint Ownership. Fortunately, it looks like the Lerner family is bailing and we should have a new set of the Big Money Boys going into next year. I hope this lot actually means it.

In the meantime, what else is there to say except


**Speaking of whom, did you see where the White House chose the occasion of the team’s visit to call for it to change its name? I just can’t even….

UPDATE: Oh, in case you’re interested, Ol’ Robbo is likely to be pulling for the Mets in October. I’d like to see Mad Max Scherzer get another Series win, just for old times’ sake.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Attentive friends of the decanter will have heeded Ol’ Robbo’s warning of just a few days ago that he was planning to reread his Francis Parkman, starting with the author’s tale of personal adventure, The Oregon Trail, and that I’d be indulging on some gratuitous historickal posting going forward.

Well, here we are.

For those of you who might wish a gentle refresher, said work is an account of Parkman’s travels as a young man in 1846 across the newly-opened western frontier. He and another well-healed Bostonian set out from Independence, MO, up the Oregon Trail to Fort Laramie in southeastern Wyoming. From there Parkman travelled for several weeks with an Oglala Sioux village, studying its ways of life. Arriving back at Ft. Laramie, the party headed south to Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas River in southern Colorado, and then back east along Santa Fe Trail until they reached their starting point. The bulk of the journal is about chumming with some Indians, hiding from others, getting periodically drenched or baked by Ma Nature, and killing far more buffalo than really seems necessary.

The last time Ol’ Robbo read this book, the geography meant relatively little to me. A few years back, however, work took me several times to the southeastern part of Wyoming, visiting the area around Forts Laramie (there’s more than one site), and viewing the remains of the Trail itself a few miles up the North Platte at the little town of Guernsey. It is most pleasant to read of place names such as Laramie Peak and Chugwater Creek, having since seen them and the surrounding country myself and now able to follow a map in my mind.

However, now that I know something of the landscape, there’s a problem with Parkman’s account that I just can’t work out. (And this, boys and girls, is why we have blogs.) When he joins the Oglala, they’re on their way west from the Laramie River to replenish their supply of buffalo hides and possibly to take a slap at a rival tribe located somewhere in the Medicine Bow Range. Of this journey, Parkman keeps speaking of their travels through the Wyoming “Black Hills”. The trouble is that the Wyoming Black Hills, an extension of the South Dakota range, are in the far northeastern corner of the state, hundreds of miles away. Furthermore, Parkman states that the party came back down out of the hills two days’ ride from Ft. Laramie. This is a physical impossibility. I b’lieve what he actually means throughout is the Laramie Mountains, the front range of the Rockies. If so, the times and distances line up very nicely.

Either that or the party did veer sharply northeast and Ol’ Robbo just missed it. Parkman’s travelogue gets pretty tedious from time to time and my braim might have drifted elsewhere. To be perfectly honest, dating from my own travels I know it’s been better than seven years since the last time I read The Oregon Trail and I can tell you now that it will be at least that long before I feel any real inclination to read it again.

*** Spot the reference. Does anybody actually still air the old Bugs Bunny/Looney Toons? Or are they now considered wrongthink?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Enough early leaves and acorns fell this week at Port Swiller Manor to warrant cleaning them off the driveway this morning. I also notice that some of the maples in our area are just starting to turn around the edges.

Ol’ Robbo can’t recall the last year we had a really vibrant foliage season in the yard. All the ones in recent memory seemed rayther dull and washed out, and also patchy. Must be glowbull enwarmening or sumpin’. I’ve a vague recollection that the intensity of the colors is some function of proper rainfall and quick temperature drop. Well, we’ve had a pretty wet summah here this year (not once have I had to drag the soaker hose out to the pachysandra bed by the road), so perhaps things will be different this time.

Either way, you can expect Ol’ Robbo to start his annual griping about picking the durn things up here in just another couple weeks.

I know it’s not really the time of year to do so, but I also pruned back the climbing tea-rose by the front door. It was getting overly-spindly, and the pests did rayther a number on its leaves this year. If I leave it in such condition, Middle Gel will inevitably start making snide remarks about do-it-yourself Halloween decorations.

No real fall planting this year. Sometimes Mrs. R likes to put mums in the half-whiskey barrels out front, but to tell you the truth, Ol’ Robbo has never much cared for them.

Finally, not exactly garden-related but speaking of the seasonal advance, the shortening of the days has brought to the fore another issue which I’ve been ignoring heretofore. Maybe a month or six weeks ago, the overhead lights in La Wrangler started staying on while I drive, and for something like half an hour after I turn off the engine. It didn’t bother me much when I was out and about during the day, but now that my commute is starting to take place in the dusk, it’s become highly annoying. I haven’t the faintest idea why this is happening all of a sudden, but at least I know a quick fix: Today I just removed the bulbs. That’ll learn ’em!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ah, Fall! Ol’ Robbo got to indulge himself last night by leaving all the Port Swiller Manor windows wide open and the heat turned off, waking under warm blankets to a cool, crisp, refreshing dawn. In this, I suppose I’ll be cut off soon enough, as Mrs. R and I do not see eye to eye on this sort of thing. I’ll enjoy it while I can, however.

In the meantime, the same cool, crisp, refreshing dawn put me in mind of the fact that it’s been several years now since I last reread my Francis Parkman and that it’s just about time to do so again. I don’t know why I necessarily associate the two ideas with each other, but this is always the time of the year when I get the urge to dip back into my French and British colonial history. (Actually, I think I’ll start with his Oregon Trail, as I’m just finishing up a slew of mid-18th Century American Frontier accounts, before jumping back to the 1500’s.) Those of you who drop by regularly may expect more gratuitous historickal posting on this subject in the coming weeks.

Which reminds me that I wonder what I did with my Hannah Duston bobblehead? It sat on a shelf in my office for years but I brought it and all my other bric-a-brac home when we shifted to new digs because there wasn’t any place to put things. Given the politicks of my workplace I was always surprised nobody ever gave me grief over it, until I reminded myself of the general historickal ignorance of this day and age and then wasn’t surprised anymore. Heh.

UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo forgot to mention another pleasure of the changing season – all the doors and windows of Port Swiller Manor that stick during the warmer, sultrier times are suddenly moving freely again.

On the other hand, I was watching the Hokies/Mountaineers game on teevee last evening when I beheld…….my first fake Christmas tree ad of the season. I suppose one has to take the rough with the smooth.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Ma Nature is doing her duty to mark the change in seasons with a notable drop in temperatures on its way into the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, with lows starting to dip down into the upper 40’s this weekend. Bring it, says Ol’ Robbo.

Funny enough,** today marks the beginning of Youngest Gel’s Spring Break Down Under. In the spirit of getting everything she can out of her semester abroad, she and a couple classmates are headed for New Zealand today to knock about for a week or so. (So long as she’s in the neighborhood, after all.) I just hope that super-volcano suddenly in the news there behaves itself while she’s about. Ol’ Robbo did not even realize there is a giant caldera in New Zealand, and apparently a nasty, active one, until this story popped up. ***

Evidently, one of the Gel’s friends is an organization-freak and has got this trip taped out to the last minute and penny. I understand they’ll be staying in a series of hostels and visiting various venues of entertainment. I may have heard the words “sky-diving” in passing, but at this point I’m choosing to believe this was just a misunderstanding. Gawd help us.

** Well, not so funny, I guess, since it’s perfectly logical and natural. But funny to think about.

*** I believe a lot of these World Economic Forum-types have compounds established in NZ. I’ll bet Klaus Schwab has got a secret lair under the volcano.

UPDATE: Youngest arrived safe and sound in Auckland this morning. Meanwhile, the first big cool/cold front arrived here this afternoon. The wind is up and the temperature and humidity are dropping. As former sportscaster Marv Albert used to say, “YUSS!!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There are times when Ol’ Robbo looks at his homeowner’s insurance policy and says, “What would you say you do here?”***

Regular friends of the decanter will recall the massive repair and re-enforcement project designed to stop, once and for all, the chronic basement flooding here at Port Swiller Manor. Well, a week or two ago somebody suggested to Mrs. R that maybe our insurance might cover at least some of the costs. We’re dealing, after all, with major structural failure that isn’t in any way our fault.

So Mrs. R got on the phone and spoke with a very sympathetic agent who, while promising nothing, assured that our claim would be looked into quickly and diligently.

Now Ol’ Robbo’s been around the block a few times and has developed a pretty thick hide of skepticism. Nonetheless, after that call, I found a small part of myself thinking we might just have a chance.

Then I got a call from the adjuster assigned to the case. While he, too, had a sympathetic tone, the more I explained the issue to him, the more his responses filled up with weasel-words. (I’m a lawyer and know of what I speak.) “Policy concerns” quickly became his favorite phrase.

We got a follow-up letter from him yesterday quoting lavishly from the policy. In effect, if the claim involves water in any way, shape, or form, they aren’t touching it.

Hence my question at the top.

They’re still sending an engineer out to inspect the damage but, honestly, I don’t see why they’re bothering now.

***Spot the quote

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of the cable channels on our local system was doing a marathon of Alan Ladd westerns this weekend. Other than “Shane”, Ol’ Robbo does not remember having seen an Alan Ladd western before. (Not saying I haven’t – I just don’t remember.) Turns out they’re not too bad, but they’re about on par with Audie Murphy films in that Ladd seems to play the same guy in every one of them.

Aaaanyhoo, one of the films I caught was “Drum Beat“, about the Modoc War of 1873 and featuring a very muscular Charles Bronson as “Captain Jack”, leader of the rebellious band of Modocs.

As fond as Ol’ Robbo is of history, I didn’t really know anything about the Modoc War except the name, that it was an Indian uprising, and something about Pacific Northwest lava beds. So imagine my surprise when poor old Gen. Edward Canby shows up in the film. Imagine my even greater surprise when Canby is murdered by Captain Jack at a peace conference. I had to look that one up. Turns out that it’s true.

I did know a bit about Canby’s service in the Civil War. He sparred a bit in Texas and New Mexico with Confederate General Henry Sibley, a fight that makes up part of the story in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, and eventually went on to capture Mobile, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama, albeit only after it didn’t really matter anymore. (Sam Grant didn’t think much of his field service.) But I couldn’t have told you what happened to him afterwards.

Poor fellah.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo loves the sensation in the morning of coming muzzily to semi-awareness, beginning to groan at the thought of another day in the salt mines, and then suddenly realizing, “Oh, yeah – it’s Saturday.”

Friends of the decanter will recall the appallingly expensive and heretofore largely useless generator which I mentioned last week having shut itself down? Turns out it was simply a case of ants building a nest on the circuit board, thereby confusing it. The tech called them “crazy ants”. The innertoobs calls them “Raspberry ants“. For reasons known only to themselves, they seem to be attracted by electronics. Go figure. Anyhoo, it was simply a matter of cleaning the rubble off the board (the ants were gone) and Bob’s your uncle.

Ol’ Robbo notices that yet again he needs to get out and cut back the ivy that threatens to get up under the roof on one of the corners of Port Swiller Manor. In order to do so, I have to shimmy out the side window in Youngest Gel’s bedroom onto the roof of teh garage. Ol’ Robbo does not enjoy this. Apart from the question of height, it’s an awkward squeeze out the window and my first attempt at it about a year ago was largely responsible for bringing on the sciatica that’s been plaguing me off and on ever since.

I’m not sure because I haven’t been especially looking out for them, but I suspect the hummingbirds might have decided it’s time to pack up and head south. I would think that if they drink nothing but nectar, they simply can’t afford to loiter about until the last minute. Ol’ Robbo likes to ponder on how far my particular birds actually go. All the way across the Gulf to Mexico? Or do they just get some friends to buy a lot of postcards for them and pretend?

Whelp, all that said and a cuppa kawfee down the hatch, the lawn isn’t going to mow itself….


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September 2022