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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.

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!

Eldest Gel was grumbling on her way out the door this morning about some Rube Goldberg scheduling scheme the “academic coordinator” is imposing on the teachers at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method today.

“Bureaucrats!” she said. “It’s like they invent problems just to make themselves look important!”

Ain’t it the truth.

UPDATE: Speaking of funnies, I see where William Hogarth’s satirical art is now being displayed with trigger warnings. It’s sad enough that modern society has become so infantile. It’s even worse when you realize it’s been made so deliberately.

By the bye, the article implies, at least, that the top print is “Beer Street” (in that it is contrasted with “Gin Lane” featured below). But it isn’t. Instead, it’s “The Enraged Musician”, one of my favorite prints. I’ve often wondered if Hogarth had any particular violinist in mind when he made it. (For some reason, I always had it in my mind that it might have been Francesco Geminiani.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds one of the flay rods out askew on his circadian rhythm treadle following Sunday’s time change. At least that’s the reason I’m assigning to feeling slightly discombobulated the past couple days.

I don’t believe that by this time last year I had moved my home office up out of the basement and into the living room, because I certainly don’t recall sitting at my desk and watching the sun drop below the tree line by 3:30 in the pip emma and being slightly depressed by the sight.

The funny thing is that it always takes me about 72 hours to remember that not only is sunset earlier now, it’s going to keep getting ever earlier for the next six weeks or so. If I’m not mistaken, sunset in these parts at the winter solstice is around 4:45.

I rayther envy the kittehs. “We don’t care what your fancy-shmancy time pieces say, our tummies say it’s time to feed us! Now!”

Ah, well.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Yes, this is one of those things where my entrenched Anglophilia wins out. Sneaking St. Edmund Campion and other priests in to England to say Mass on the sly is one thing. Blowing up Parliament is another.

First frost of the season last night here at Port Swiller Manor. Ol’ Robbo had better get his ferns off the porch instanter if he wants to keep them. We’ve now also reached the time of year in which Decanter Kitten reproaches me constantly because I won’t keep the porch door open all the time for her.

I’m not sure, but I think we had an election here this week. Heh. I think, I think, that the pendulum may have hit its maximum arc endpoint and is starting to swing back the other way. We shall see.

A public service reminder: Clocks go back this weekend. Why do we do this nonsense, again? Pick a time and stick with it already!

UPDATE: This was supposed to be Ol’ Robbo’s Friday off but at the last minute a filing needed to be made. No problem, I said I’d log in long enough to get ‘er done and then take the shank of the day for myself.


A job I could have handled on my own in an hour or two wound up spinning out all day. I hate writing by committee, even when it’s with people I like professionally. Especially with everyone working from home, even the simplest document takes for ever to go its rounds of edits and sign-offs. Grrrrrrr.

On the other hand, I just pulled in the ferns. One of the drawbacks of the season is that the porch starts to look rayther barren without its summah greenery. Now we’ve got to figure out what to do with them over the wintah. Mrs. R is seeing if she can foster them off in some of the classrooms at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. I told her she should make it a science project challenge: the class that takes best care of a plant gets a prize.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Middle Gel made mention the other day that she’s planning to “interview” me regarding my opinions on “climate change” for one of her classes. I believe the instructions call for her to seek out a broad range of views, and of course I am tailor-made for the category of “ignorant, paranoid knuckle-dragging old geezer of a science-denier”.

**Grins, cracks knuckles**

Of course, regular friends of teh decanter are already perfectly familiar with Ol’ Robbo’s views. I question the assumptions and premises underlying the entire debate; I question the “science” purporting to support the current fashionable calls for “action”; I question the good faith of the various cadres pushing the alarmism. I’m not actually a “denier”, mind you, I just approach things with deep skepticism, which it seems to me is actually the duty of any independent thinker.

I’m thinking in particular of the COP26 jamboree currently going on in Glasgow, and of the legions of politicos, advocates, and grifters jetting in from all over the worlds to wine, dine, cavort, and confer while telling me that if I don’t immediately give up my car, my meat, my air-conditioning, and every other freedom and comfort, and instead submit to a a strict Spartan regime administered by a cohort of my Betters, the entire planet is gonna diiiiiieeeee no later than Wednesday week.

If nothing else, I’m going to be sure to get in the line that Glenn Reynolds uses all the time: When the people who keep telling me there’s a crisis start acting like there’s one, maybe I’ll start to listen. Meanwhile, they can sit the fook down and shut the fook up.

UPDATE: I should, perhaps, make clear that I consider this discrete issue to be a load of flim-flam, but don’t come away with the idea that I’m for wasting resources or running roughshod over the environment in general. Good stewardship of the world around us is, after all, part of our Christian duty.

As a matter of fact, that’s the field Middle Gel is pursuing. She’s got applications in right now for grad school in public administration with a focus on environment and natural resource management. I know she’s got her heart in the right place on this, and I think she’ll be okay because I’ve long preached a few simple rules for dealing with the world around her. To wit:

  1. There’s no such thing as a unicorn (i.e., Utopianism is both useless and evil).
  2. The law of unexpected consequences will never be repealed.
  3. Due to scarcity, everything in life is a trade-off, and both costs and benefits must be weighed fully and honestly, particularly when those costs are to someone else, not to you. (I recall a passage from a novel in which a character is described as “speaking with the freedom of a government official with his own spurs and another man’s horse.”)

Hopefully, she’ll keep these in mind.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

First, let Ol’ Robbo offer a blessed All Souls Day to all you friends of the decanter.


Oh, you betcha. (This despite my feeling pretty hellish after getting jabbed yesterday.)

Ol’ Robbo has seen lots of moaning and groaning about ballot fraud, the insidious rigging of the system, and the hopelessness of expecting an actual honest election result.

Personally, I believe there are likely shenanigans being committed to one degree or another, but I don’t see where sitting on my hands and sulking is going to aid in beating all that.

At any rate, Eldest and I went over and cast our ballots this morning. Mrs. R voted early over the weekend. And I hope the Younger Gels got their absentee ballots in properly.

We shall see what happens.

UPDATE: Well, now. Ol’ Robbo thought something might be brewing when a very worried-looking campaign flunky showed up on the Port Swiller Manor doorstep late in the afternoon. Nobody ever hustles us since the old gentleman down the street died a few years back.

Before she could get going, I calmly assured her that yes, we’d all voted already, thank you, and good day.

“But what about…”

“I said good day!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It is perhaps fortuitous that All Saints falls on November 1, because this happens to be just about my favorite day of the year.

Apart from the theological aspect, which I of course also deeply appreciate, we’re just getting into the autumnal sweet spot ’round here now, with crisp nights and pleasant days.

I was especially pleased this morning because the lawn guy showed up at first light to aerate and overseed the Port Swiller Manor lawn. (This is my Christmas present to myself this year.) I will be impatient all winter to see what results come about from this first serious treatment of the place in 20 years.

On the other hand, I had to go get my second jab a little while ago. Now I’m going to spend the rest of the day wondering whether every little twinge or tweek is the onset of some kind of major reaction. When the pharmacy lady was putting on the bandaid, I said, “Well, I hope I don’t turn into a pumpkin now.” She didn’t seem to think it was s’damn funny.

Anyway, to all the Saints known and unknown, Orate pro nobis!


Fun All Saints Fact No. 1 – According to my Padre, some of the Eastern Churches consider Pontius Pilate to be a saint. I b’lieve the tradition is that the conversation he had with Jesus as related by John’s Gospel inspired him. Certainly, as the Padre pointed out, we name him every single time we recite the Credo.

Fun All Saints Fact No. 2 – One of the perks of no longer being an Episcopalian is that I never, ever again have to either hear or sing “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God“, possibly the single most icky-poo hymn in the rotation. So I got that going for me.


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December 2021