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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It seems Port Swiller Manor has been under the shadow of the Canadian wildfires for weeks and weeks now. Some days it’s a high haze, others it’s definitely thicker. Today is one of the latter, and is also one of those days I can actually smell the smoke. (I gather a fairly heavy plume is on its way into the area.)

Eldest tells me there’s a rumor that the whole thing started with a controlled burn that got out of hand, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Of course, the local media are having a field day with their “Air Quality Alerts” because this is what the media reflexively do. (Yes, regular friends of the decanter will know that this is a common theme with Ol’ Robbo. I had thought of entitling this post “Smoke of the Century of the Week.”) For myself, my eyes have been stingy and runny off and on but that’s pretty much it so far.

As I believe I said already, the whole thing has provided some pretty sunrises and sunsets, but I admit I will be quite happy when it finally blows itself out.

UPDATE: He – An idea so crazy, it just might work!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posties here. No, the Gestapo did not break down the Port Swiller Manor front door in the middle of the night (at least not yet). Instead, Ol’ Robbo has just been very busy and his Muse seems to have gone AWOL, as she does from time to time.

That being the case, I’ve not much to tell. The Gels are all gainfully employed for the summah, which makes Ol’ Robbo happy. The weather is drying out to the point where I’ll soon have to start watering things, which does not. Western Civilization continues to crumble, but you knew that already.

Speaking of nothing in particular, I ran into my parish priest at Total Bev the other day. It was startling like the first time you met your grade-school teacher at the supermarket when you were a kid – all out of context. I’ve been working up my nerve to get to know him better without seeming to impose, so I said hello and shook hands.

He said, “This is the first time I’ve ever seen you not wearing a suit.” (I had on a t-shirt and shorts. He, by the way, was in full cassock and biretta. Father rocks it.)

“Well,” I said, “This is the first time I’ve ever seen you in a wine store.”

We larfed. And he remembered next day when I was leaving Mass. We’re getting there.

On a completely different house-keeping note, Ol’ Robbo has long meant to mention that I have nothing to do with the ads that appear here. I suppose they’re the price I pay for not actually buying my WordPress account. So far they seem to be pretty innocuous, but if you see something you don’t like, just know it’s not my doing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A quiet Memorial Day weekend across the Port Swiller Manor demesne.** Ol’ Robbo has learned that mowing the lawn late Friday afternoon instead of Saturday morning really shifts the balance and allows for that much more productivity. And on the subject of mowing, I’ve finally – after all these years – accepted the idea of not cutting the grass so close, but leaving it about three inches or so. The lawn seems to be thankful.

Those of you keeping tabs on the Great Raspberry Transplant will be interested to know that all of the first wave seem to have survived the shock and are holding their own nicely.

My main task today will be to deal with the Jackmanii clematis out front, which seems to have been hit hard with some ailment to which it is subject from time to time. It’s such a Gordian knot that I’ll probably just whack it back outright.

Pollen is hell. It seems to affect me more and more as the years go by.

On the bird-watching front, a couple years ago Ol’ Robbo set up a birdhouse on a pole next to the fence in almost an identical position as that of his next-door neighbor’s. I can’t help noticing that while my neighbor always gets bluebirds nesting in his, I only get sparrows. This is disappointing. The Mothe always maintained that there is a pleasure in identifying the five or six varieties of sparrow that typically get in to the feeder, but I think the whole lot of them to be dull and uninteresting. My best guess is that the bluebirds shun my birdhouse because the wisteria all over my fence (my neighbor’s is bare) doesn’t leave it open enough for them.

On a broader scale, a quick check on the innerwebz confirms that a) the dread El Nino is still a’cummin and b) it’s all somehow my fault. “Human-induced warming from greenhouse gasses” has become such a reflexive parrot-call that NPR tacks it on to the end of an article that otherwise admits temperatures rise and fall and weather patterns shift naturally, without seeming to notice. (Well, they probably do notice but don’t care since Glowbull Enwarmening has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politickal totalitarianism. As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, when the people who keep telling me there’s a crisis start acting like there’s a crisis, maybe I’ll begin to listen. In the meantime, they can STFU and STFD.)

And speaking of broader scales, I see where Betelgeuse is acting funny again. Oh, no you don’t, Orion’s left shoulder! Ol’ Robbo got caught up in the hype a couple years ago and actually found himself standing in the yard at night a few times, staring into the sky and wondering if he’d actually get to see the thing go nova. You fooled me once, so shame on you! Not going to happen again.

Whelp, off to work.

** noun

Historickal: land attached to a manor and retained for the owner’s own use.

Law: possession of real property in one’s own right.

Modern Anglo-American property law is rooted in Medieval feudalism and at least when I was in school back in the day, we went right back to studying its historickal origins. (Heaven only knows what they’re teaching the kidz now.) The irony is that my prop prof was a self-professed Communist. Anyhoo, “demesne” was one of the terms that somehow stuck in Ol’ Robbo’s braims and it gives me simple pleasure that it is so apropos to this blog.

Best-Laid Plans UPDATE: Whelp. After trimming the edges of teh lawn, Ol’ Robbo decided to clean up the hollies along the sidewalk, lest I get one of those sanctimonious (and anonymous) notes in my mailbox citing the regulations about keeping the sidewalk clear. Then I cleaned up under the porch because I had promised Mrs. R I would: When the basement flooded last year and we had to all that tear-down in order to reinforce the walls, I just piled all the insulation, dry-wall, and flooring in a heap under the porch, where it sat until we finally had a guy come haul it away last weekend. There were still bits and pieces left plus a lot of dead leaves to be removed. Then I found myself digging up moar raspberry plants because Mrs. R’s friends who said they’d be interested in them wondered if this weekend would be possible to pick them up. So I’ve got nine of them sitting in pots on the patio now. They all look a bit shocky at the moment, but hopefully they’ll cowboy up before delivery. On the other hand, I made clear multiple times that I offer no guarantee as to quality or survival. You get what you pay for.

So after all that, I completely forgot about the clem until I was in the shower just now. D’OH!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s church had a new parochial priest assigned to it by the Bishop this week. Today I learned that not only is he an “addition to” instead of a “replacement for”, but that he is also a Latin shark, thereby – as our pastor gleefully noted today – doubling our capacity to practice the Mass That Must Not Be Named. (I suppose this means we’ll also double our number of Eff Bee Eye spies as well.)

On another note, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t spend as long as they like in private devotions after the Mass formally ends. I’m just saying that perhaps they should have a certain situational awareness regarding their neighbors. If you know you’re going long, pick a spot in the middle of a pew, not on one end of it. Ol’ Robbo got himself thoroughly bottled up d by a couple of ladies today, and since it is my policy not to crawl over people to get out of the pew, had to sit patiently until one of them finally got up.

On a completely different note, I just looked up and spotted a hummingbird at the feeder for the first time this year. Boo-yah!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I may have mentioned before, Ol’ Robbo is a member of a Patrick O’Brian fan group over on FacePlant. (I’m also in a P.G. Wodehouse group and a mostly-dead Anthony Powell one.) One of our members is a graphic designer, and thanks to his efforts I just received my Aubrey/Maturin 2024 (“There is not a moment to be lost”) bumper sticker.

I’m quite pleased. On the one hand, it’s a literary joke highly appreciated by those who understand the reference. (POB fans are an intensely enthusiastic bunch. I often get nods and smiles, and sometimes even a note left on the windshield.) On the other, I like to think it subtly registers my contempt for all real-life politicks and politicians (which seems to grow exponentially with each passing day).

I tried to explain all this to Eldest Gel when she saw the thing on the kitchen counter last evening. (Evidently, she never noticed that I have been sporting the ’16 version on the back of La Wrangler all these years.) Her reaction? “That is the nerdiest thing I’ve ever heard of. You may as well go with Kirk/Spock and get it over with.”

Humph. The lubber. Well, if Ol’ Robbo is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

** Spot the reference

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hopes you all had a happy Mothers’ Day! I had had read some articles recently about it being the latest target of cancel culture, but didn’t see much evidence of that myself.

Mrs. R, Eldest, and I had a very pleasant brunch downtown, during which the conversation somehow came round to a scathing denunciation by Eldest of Woodrow Wilson and all of his “progressive” policies. (And they say that today’s yoot know nothing about history.) I caught a glance from someone at the next table who seemingly couldn’t quite process what she was hearing and looked rayther alarumed. It’s been a very long time since I had a meal like that in the middle of the day, so my entire afternoon was spent in a more or less catatonic state. (This is what hammocks are for.)

Meanwhile, Middle Gel got to take a daytrip to Munich, from which she sent some lovely pictures, and Youngest also sent pics from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (western Colorado). Her itinerary for the next few days includes Bryce Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Monument Valley NPs. I hope visiting the latter will turn her into a John Wayne fan. (Eldest, who hasn’t an adventurous bone in her body, is convinced that her sister is going to be kidnapped by the Cartels or eaten by bears, but I think she’ll be just fine.) I know Mrs. R misses the younger two, but she also is enjoying their travels vicariously (as am I).

All in all, a good day.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, school is out for all three Gels as of today, the great summah changeover is in progress, and it’s remarkable how little Ol’ Robbo has to do with it.

True, Eldest is home, but she’s always been pretty self-contained. She wasn’t able to get a masters-related gig (although she’s got an internship lined up for this fall) so she’s looking for something seasonal to make a bit of coin.

Youngest, or at least so I understand it, is due to turn up here tomorrow, but is on a flight next morning at oh-dark thirty to visit a friend and knock about in the Rockies for a bit (one of her life goals being to visit every national park she possibly can) before she takes up her job as a counselor at Bible-Thumper Camp, something she’s long wanted to do. In addition to being a cabin counselor, I understand she’s also been appointed admiral in charge of sailing lessons.

Meanwhile, Middle Gel blew through here last night literally just long enough to change flights on her way to Germany. She’s doing a three-week mini-semester in Augsburg and Bergamo, Italy. I’ve read the syllabus, or tried to anyway, but still couldn’t really tell you what it’s all about – something to do with international governmental co-operation. “Gawd,” I said to her the other day, “Please tell me you’re not turning into one of those WEF/Soros zombie-bots!” She just laughed.

So there you have it. Ol’ Robbo just sits here in his chair while the Gels go whooshing about under their own power. (I’ll be humming “Cat’s in the Cradle” next thing you know.)

Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out To Get You UPDATE: Yikes. I post a snide comment about globalist oligarchy and ten minutes later my PC sua sponte starts three hours of downloading “upgrades”. Coincidence? I think not! (Heaven knows what’s in this thing now!)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t know whether goons patrol the church parking lot writing down license plate numbers while he’s attending Mass, but at this point nothing much would really surprise me. I’m sure I’m on plenty of lists already as it is. I was curious about the beefy, young, clean-cut guy in the t-shirt who walked out prior to the homily and never came back. Paranoid? Me? Why do you say that?

On a different (or maybe the same?) note, the setting today was the Missa Era di Maggio by one Johannes de Fossa (ca. 1540-1603), of whom I’d never heard, but apparently was vice-kapellmeister at the Court of Munich under Orlando di Lasso, of whom I have. Lovely late-Renaissance musick.

It was almost, almost, enough to make up for the old duffer sitting in front of me whose iPhone, programmed with a clown-car horn ringtone, cooked off in the middle of the Canon and which it took him a long time to shut down. (Now that oughta be a federal offense!)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

We’re shaping up for a positively bee-yootiful weekend here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor and Ol’ Robbo will have lots of gardening stuff to talk about tomorrow. In the meantime, a few short observations:

I went to the store this morning and noticed that the Lightbulb Nazis have completed their triumph – not a single non-LED bulb left on the shelves. Ol’ Robbo can’t even remember why the old bulbs are supposed to be so eeeevil in the first place except that the rationale for doing away with them has something to do with the Glowbull Enwarmening Karens. Is there nothing that pseudo-scientific cult can’t accomplish? Grrr….

It wasn’t really until yesterday that Ol’ Robbo realized the coronation of King Charles III is tomorrow. Long time friends of the decanter will know of my traditionalist Anglophilia as well as my Royalist sympathies (it’s no accident that I use Billy Pitt as my online avatar), but I simply haven’t been paying any attention of late. I won’t pry myself out of bed in the early hours specifically to watch, but if I’m up getting my kawfee dosage before going out to the garden, I may turn on the teevee for a bit.

Speaking of teevee, Ol’ Robbo mentioned his feeling recently that his Beloved Nats seem to be showing some genuine signs of life this season. That feeling continues, and I’m finding the games to be fun to watch again. Indeed, I most likely will even go out to the ballpark a few times this summah, which I haven’t done since ’19, at least.

Finally, to end with a laugh, I will pass on a joke I may have heard before and forgotten, but heard again last evening, and over which I am still chuckling:

Q: What do you do with an elephant with three balls?

A: Walk him and pitch to the rhino.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt some of you have been wondering to yourselves, “Self, where is Ol’ Robbo this week?” Whelp, I’ve been extremely bizzy. Those legal eagles among you may know the expression “Close of Discovery”. In my experience, it consists of setting one’s hair on fire and running about yelling “What’s the Bates number, Kenneth??!!”

But today, I get a rest. And since we had so much rain yesterday, lawnmowing is out of the question and my duties about the grounds will consist of minor pottering (although skipping a mow this time of year will come back to bite me next weekend).

And so.

Ol’ Robbo finds himself in danger of…..enjoying watching his beloved Nationals play ball again. Not that I have any actual hopes for this season, but I believe I’m definitely seeing some bright spots going forward, as if somebody in management actually knows what he’s doing in terms of putting a future quality team together. We shall see. What was it Churchill said? This is not the beginning of the end, nor even the end of the beginning, but the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end about half way to the Begin the Beguine of the end. Or something like that.

One thing I am not enjoying about watching the Nats on teevee is the commercial selection, which consists of pretty much only two ads. The first is for wall-to-wall organized betting. Ol’ Robbo is hardly a prude, but I think this perfidious, a fast track to financial ruin for weak individuals. And I guarantee you here and now that it will eventually work its way into the sport itself, causing all sorts of irregularities and outright fraudulent performances. It always happens.

The second features some young Reservist moaning that if TikTok gets deplatformed, his service of keeping his fellow soldiers informed of their hard-earned financial benefits will be ruined. Filthy ChiCom bastards to rub our noses in our own flag. I admit I’m extremely dubious at the idea of Uncle getting into the biznay of online content control no matter who’s running it, but these ads really, really irk me.

And speaking of irk, Decanter Kitten does not like Ol’ Robbo watching ball games. She has got into the habit over the past two or three years of curling up in my lap in the evenings, which is all well and good when I’m watching a western or a classic (or reading, for that matter). But while I am normally cool and calm, I tend to get rayther….demonstrative when watching baseball, and the kitteh – who is just now learning this – absolutely hates my sudden outbursts. If looks could kill……

Whelp, that’s about it. Time to go potter.


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June 2023