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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with the July 4th holiday (and I hope yours were enjoyable), friends of the decanter will have noticed that Ol’ Robbo didn’t stick to his usual weekend posting habits.

Well, if you’re like me, you probably hate disruption and disorder with the heat of a thousand suns.  So to provide some solace, allow me to offer up a condensed version of what I otherwise would have written:

Saturday Gardening Post – The butterfly bush are starting to open up.  They’ll be the centerpiece of the Port Swiller Manor back garden from here until frost if I don’t let the insidious morning-glory swamp them.  I still haven’t seen all that many butterflies yet, but I expect that will change shortly.  (The sight of fifteen or twenty tiger swallowtails at a time flitting about over the bushes has always been my argument to Mrs. R why we should have them in the first place.)

Sunday Go-To-Meeting Post – Those of you who fear the Church has forgot how to be Militant would have been comforted by our guest-padre yesterday.  He let go a stem-winder of a homily damning and blasting post-modernism (including within the Church herself) as rebellion against the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Nature and referred to those seeking to undermine American fundamentals as “neo-Marxist barbarian gangs”.

Random Commuter Observations – Usually by this time of year Ol’ Robbo is complaining of the chronic heat exhaustion that results from his summah commuting in an A/C-less jeep.  At least the lockdown has kyboshed that for the foreseeable future.  (In fact, I haven’t even filled up my gas tank since early March.)  On the other hand, I finally had to admit today that with this week’s arrival of the hot n’ sticky, I have to move my workspace off the porch and back down into the basement.  Heigh ho.

So there you have it.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

I suppose it’s the recent noisy outbursts of those now openly advocating the complete destruction of our national identity and its replacement with some sort of Year One Brave New World Order that have caused the mind of Ol’ Robbo to refocus on what the United States of America really is.   And it seems to him that compared with any other society on this or any other continent in the history of the entire planet, the answer is that it is something not far short of a miracle.

Have mistakes been made? Have genuinely evil things been done?  Is there still much room for improvement?  Absolutely.  And we should learn from those mistakes, reject those evils, and always be on the lookout for ways to make ourselves better.  But the perfect must never be made the enemy of the good.  And when you step back and consider that the Founding Fathers, warts and all, nonetheless forged a system of government based on the consent of the governed and protection of the inalienable, God-given rights of the individual, ideas, so far as I am aware, not put into practice anywhere else in the world before, and when you consider the actual good that has come out of this in terms of the raising of millions and millions of people to peace and prosperity, well, as I say, it kinda takes one’s breath away.  (How’s that for a Jamesian sentence structure, by the bye?)

Anyhoo, be of good cheer.  Ol’ Robbo has had to talk one or two people off the ledge in recent weeks.  The times certainly seem crazy, especially if you pay any attention to the MSM or social media, but I don’t think they’re quite as crazy as all that.  And somehow I think America will weather them.

In the meantime, have a Happy 4th!  Have some adult beverages, let loose a few fireworks, and celebrate our collective birthday!

UPDATED:  Mission accomplished!  We went over to some friends’ house, the first time Ol’ Robbo has been social in months and months (not that I am much anyway).  There we had the aforementioned adult beverages, hamburgers, hotdogs, and all good things.  Lots and lots of fireworks were shot off in the neighborhood.  There was a bit more talking-off-the-ledge among the adults, but the kids had a fine old time, with the younger gels playing beer-pong with our friends’ college-aged sons and their chums (all under the benign yet watchful eye of Ol’ Robbo, I can assure you).   Good times, good times.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been rayther busy, both in his other on-line alternate reality (that is, at his job) as well as in meatspace.  (Which see below.)  But here we are now.

Yesterday was the start of Ol’ Robbo’s long holiday weekend.  And what better way to begin the celebration of the birth of Our Great Nation than to subject the Port Swiller Manor back porch to its annual scrubbing? Yes!

I’ve got in the habit of leaving this task until after pollen and the spring rainy season are well over, reserving it for a good hot, sunny, dry weekend.  I looked it up, and it happens that this fell on May 24 last year.  That it got pushed back all the way to the beginning of July this time around is some kind of testament to the cold, wet, late spring we’ve had in these parts.  Glowbull Enwarmening, indeed.

Anyhoo, having shoved all the porch furniture to one side, Ol’ Robbo duly dug his powah-washer out of the depths of the garage.  After dragging it round back and up the stairs, and untangling power cords and hoses, I flipped the thing on.  It sputtered once and then died.


So I had to resort to Plan B, which was the hose, a sponge-mop, and a bucket of Mr. Clean.  I scrubbed the floor, first one side and then the other.  I scrubbed the ceiling.  I scrubbed the rails.  I scrubbed each piece of wicker (a dozen altogether).  I scrubbed the dining table and chairs.  I laundered the dog bed and the table cloth, and Windex’d all the glass and metal.  (We have lots of candles and picture-frames and whatnot.)  I even mopped the stairs going down to the patio.

And you know what?  The results were perfectly fine.  As to the floor, the test is whether I can put the area rug back in the same place based on the prior grunge outline.  As I simply couldn’t see it, I wound up moving the rug a couple feet over, and with it all the furniture, which lines up around it.  This was immediately pointed out to me by each of my wimminfolk as they came out to view the results of my labor later in the day.  It’s nice to be appreciated.

So that’s that for another year.  As to the power-washer, I’ve no idea why it died but I don’t think I’m going to go to the bother and expense of either repairing or replacing it.  It was a royal pain in the neck to get the thing up on the porch anyway, and if I ever need one in teh future (the patio needs doing every now and again), it seems simpler just to rent one.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Our next-door neighbor teenagers had an outdoor birthday party in their back yard this afternoon.  There were about a dozen kids.  They rigged up a slip n’ slide, shot sooper-soakers at each other, and also played volleyball and badminton.

I was working out on my porch, as usual in nice weather, and found that the laughing, shouting, and splashing bothered me not in the least at my job.  (They did not blast any music, fortunately.)  As a matter of fact, it almost made me sleepy, as I associate such a combination of noise with napping in a long chair by a pool.

Very nice.

The Port Swiller Manor generator suddenly kicking in for half an hour a mere 20 feet from my ears?  That was a different matter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Wish Ol’ Robbo joy! I finally got back to real live Mass today for the first time since the middle of March.

Things are still not all the way back to normal, of course.  No holy water in the fonts, for instance.  Half the pews closed off.  And the Host tasted suspiciously of Father’s Purell.  (I say nothing of the mask requirement because only about a quarter of the congregation bothered wearing them.)  But still, it felt like coming home.

Getting somewhat back into the routine for the first time in months seems to have prompted a curious secondary sensation:  Just now I found myself for an instant wondering what I should talk about with the Mothe this afternoon.  For years that had been our practice.  I’d get home around two, have a snack, and then give her a call at three and talk for an hour or so.  Funny how some part of my braim assumed that the re-establishment of the one practice would automatically mean the re-establishment of the other.

(It’ll be three years in early August since she passed.  I suppose that’s on my mind again, too.  Probably explains why I had a dream about getting dementia last night as well.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Because Ol’ Robbo always strives to make sure you friends of the decanter get what you pay for, he thought he’d slap up just a few pre-weekend thoughts:

♦  After three-plus months of working from home and no end of it in the foreseeable future, I’m thinking of investing in a real home office chair.  Surprisingly, Mrs. R agrees.  One of her friends suggested a bungee chair, of which I’d never heard.  I dunno, it seems to me such a chair might stretch out prematurely.  Any thoughts?

♦  Glancing at the latest Brave Stroke Against Amerikkka headlines, I hadn’t even realized the Dixie Chicks were still together.

♦   On the local wildlife front, Ol’ Robbo was delighted to see what I believe to be two fairly mature fox kits horsing around near the vixen’s den yesterday morning.  (I now keep a pair of binoculars at my back porch work station.)

♦   Ol’ Robbo has been on a George MacDonald Fraser jag (again) as of late, to the extent that I even watched “Octopussy” last evening. GMF wrote the screenplay.  Once one knows that and knows his work, one can see GMF’s fingerprints all over it.  (He relates that when he first pitched putting Bond in a gorilla costume to Cubby Broccoli, Broccoli almost died from conniptions.)  Oh, and that airplane fight at the end always makes me queasy.

♦   On a more serious artistic note, Ol’ Robbo was introduced this week to a new-to-me period-instrument orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz, under the direction of Riccardo Minasi.  The local classickal station has been showcasing their recording of Mozart’s final three symphonies, and I must say that the performances are brilliant.  Go check ’em out.

♦   Third time around, I am deliberately staying off the parents’ FacePlant page for Youngest’s college class.  From what Mrs. R relates, the place is a fever-swamp of paranoia about whether and how the school is going to operate this fall.  We’ve come round to a simple philosophy:  We’re paying the full out-of-state ride.  If we don’t get full service in return, we’re gone.

So there you have it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Fathers’ Day!

Firstly, for those of you interested, Ol’ Robbo is pleased to report that he seems to have shrugged off the stomach bug and is feeling so much better that he anticipates getting back on the exercise horse tomorrow. (And just to prove it wasn’t the dreaded Corona bogeyman, Middle Gel, who had the same thing, actually got herself tested.  Result? Nyet!)

Second, Ol’ Robbo can’t remember a Fathers’ Day on which he has felt so, well,….grateful.  Grateful that Almighty God and my parents between them successfully knocked into me the values and skills I would need, in turn, to bring up the Gels the right way.  (Our Padre harped on the theme of strong fatherhood on both the celestial and the earthly level in his homily today, which is perhaps why I was particularly thinking about it.)

While each of them in her own way remains a work in progress, of course, thinking on the matter I was reminded once again of what a solid foundation they all have, a foundation of faith, common sense, and acceptance of objective reality, and with it a corresponding absence of need to “fulfill” themselves with crackpot politicks, pharmaceutical release, or sexual depravity.  It’s not sticking on side to mention my own contribution to this, in part because each of them from time to time has thanked me for it herself, and in part because my gratitude is based solely on my wish to see them wholesomely happy.  Ol’ Robbo is not looking for brownie points here, only his children’s well-being.

What with the Current Unpleasantness, it seems this armor suddenly has become all the more critical.  A torrent of pernicious – dare I say diabolical? – nonsense is coming to the fore now (whether because the Marxist Left is desperate or confident, I can’t say), and much of it seems to be aimed particularly at those yoot with holes in their souls due to the absence of both God and stern, old-fashioned sticks like me.  I fear the allure is strong for many.  I don’t fear it will get to the Gels.  (They may suffer for their character, of course, but I don’t believe they’ll surrender.  l’m confident – well, hopeful, anyhoo – that even Youngest, who heads off to college sooner than I like to think, won’t sail off into the deep end when she gets there.)

When I clumsily tried to say all this at dins on the porch tonight, Eldest, with her tongue fully in her cheek, replied, “Wrong!  You brainwashed us….Dad!  But the other side’s got a better deal now:  ‘Come join our cult – We’ve got cookies!‘”

I burst into a laughter that must have been heard all round the neighborhood.

That’s my Gels!

St. Joseph, ora pro nobis!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Possibly resulting from the chill I mentioned the other day, Ol’ Robbo seems to have picked up some kind of stomach bug.  (No, it’s not the dreaded “C-word”!)

Nothing kills my compositional powers nor my desire to communicate more than an attack of the collywobbles, so don’t expect too much here until I shake the blasted thing.

Feel free to help yourselves to some more port and walnuts until I get back.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It amazes Ol’ Robbo that here in the Formerly Great Commonwealth of Virginny, in the middle of June, I find it necessary to wear long pants and a sweatshirt while working out on my porch, and that after an hour or two of it I’m downright shivering.

I know it won’t last, of course, but still…..

Thank yew, Glowbull Enwarmening!!

UPDATE:  How chilly was Ol’ Robbo this morning?  So chilly I forgot to plug my power cord into the wall socket.  Result?  Both of my laptops suddenly went dark just now.

It was….disconcerting.  For a moment I thought “They” had finally caught up with me!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is anything going on in the world?  Lessee….

Well, Coronapalooza continues to be both a fraud and a farce.  And Francisco Franco is still dead.

I saw somewhere that somebody had labeled the Current Unpleasantness as the “1793 Project”, which made me smile.  You may argue the denizens of “Chaz” or “Chomp” or “Soymalia” or whatever it is and their ilk are more Maoists than Jacobins but hey, potato/potahto.

Ol’ Robbo didn’t get the chance to comment on the attempted disappearing of “Gone With The Wind” and “The Germans” episode of “Fawlty Towers” before the censors evidently backtracked in the face of popular outrage.  I’ve DVD’s of both so on a personal level this doesn’t affect me much, but I’m glad of the pushback anyway.  Gives one hope that the Silent Majority might really be a Thing.

On that note, Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember a time when if I objected to somebody else’s form of expression, a crucifix in a jar of wee-wees or a photo of a fellah with a bullwhip protruding from an unlikely orifice or a burning American flag for example, I was advised by my betters just not to look at them.

Oh, and on that note, this blog supports Elmer Fudd’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.  (Not that Ol’ Robbo endorses any attempt to generate new Loony Toons.  Mel Blanc is dead and gone, peace be upon him, and anyway the whole franchise went to hell some time in the mid-60’s when it stopped being a part of the package got up for adult movie goers and deliberately became a kiddy-oriented product.  Nonetheless, the point remains.  What’s Fudd going to do now? Speak with Bugs’ manager?)

Feh.  On second thoughts, let’s not look out on the world.  It ’tis a silly place.

So what’s happening closer to home?

The big news is that Middle Gel successfully completed her scuba rescue certification this weekend.  As I understand it, this is a major milestone in the advancement of a diver.  She’ll be going for her master diver cert some time soon.

Oh, and remember how Ol’ Robbo was griping about the Gel’s car having another attack of the vapors?  Well, she picked it up from the dealership in Newport News this morning.  On her way back up to Port Swiller Manor, some piece of debris hit her in front, causing a strip of plastic lining the front, right wheel-well to pop out.  Grrrr.  Sensibly, she stopped at a gas station, bought a roll of duct tape, and triaged the thing back into place.  That’s my gel!  (Fortunately, looking it over, I believe I can anchor the thing back down myself without the Volkswagen bandits rooking me for even more money.  But still…Grrrrrrr)

Meanwhile, Youngest got laid off from her Starbucks gig last week due to crashed sales.  Absurdly enough, I think she’s actually going to make more coin over the next six weeks from unemployment than she otherwise would have working.  As this is supposed to be her pocket money for shipping off to college this fall (and things are now a go for that), Ol’ Robbo is not complaining.

Decanter Dog goes in for her check-up this week and we’re seriously going to enquire into anxiety meds.  As everybody in the house has noticed, she seems to have got markedly more neurotic recently, and cooks off at every little sound or movement.  Damme if I know why she’s suddenly ramped it up to eleventy, but it’s a real pain.

And on the subject of pets, I recently uncovered not so much a conspiracy as an exploratory committee into the idea of bringing another kitten into Port Swiller Manor.  I stomped on this immediately.  In the first place, I pointed out, the remaining Decanter Cat, after having spent years quietly skulking in the shadows of her companion kittehs, far from feeling lonely has blossomed in her solo spotlight in the past six months.  In the second place, while Decanter Dog was willing to accept the fact of the then-current kittehs when she first came to us, I’ve every confidence she’d kill any new intruder.  Harsh, but so is Life.

Ol’ Robbo made a DYI attempt at cutting his own hair this evening, a first in my fifty-five years on this planet.  Specifically, I took a pair of scissors to my four-month-old ducktails, cutting them in as near a straight line as I could.  None of the wimminz-folk at dinner broke out in howls of derisive laughter, Bruce, so I guess I didn’t butcher the job too badly.  (There is No…RULE…SIX!!)

Finally, I offer you a picture of a single jasmine cluster.  Regular friends of the decanter will know of Ol’ Robbo’s jasmine-related woes.  As dearly as I love the stuff, and despite all the “hearty variety” flim-flam served up by various nurseries, it just doesn’t survive this far north.  I’ve planted a dozen different specimens the past few years, but of them all only one has survived.  Absurdly, it’s the one that has the greatest exposure and least sunlight compared to all the others, and only grows a couple feet during the season.  And yet, it managed to put out this cluster this year.  A metaphor for Hope in our debased times?  A freak of glowbull enwarmening?  A one-off to be wiped out the next really cold wintah?  I dunno.

Enjoy it nonetheless.










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July 2020