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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just got done taking down the Christmas tree.  It’s a pity there’s no market for “professional ornament storage organizer” because I’m really rayther good at it.  I pack up all the decorations in separate boxes based on type and breakability, and then pack all the boxes into an old footlocker of mine in such a way that there is no slipping or sliding around.  In all these years, I cannot recall ever having an ornament break after I put it away, and that includes both multiple bits of glass and a pair of sand-dollars some friends gave us our first year together.

The tree itself was, how you say, completely dead.  I’ll be finding pine needles till Labor Day.

While taking down the wreaths from the Port Swiller Manor front door, I also surreptitiously chalked up our Epiphany blessing.  This will last only until Mrs. R notices it.  She still has an aversion to what she considers some of the more hocus-pocus-y aspects of my religious practices.  But no mind – I’ve probably got a couple weeks before she spots it.  And the blessing itself is good for the year.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A friend and I were chatting before Mass today about the subject of keeping up Christmas decorations through the entire season, something our Diocese encourages.  Here’s a discussion of HMC’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Form seasonal calculations.  My friend and I both follow the EF, so my decorations will stay up until next Sunday, January 13, which is the Baptism of the Lord, although this year I’m going to try and keep my creche out until Candlemas, which is February 2nd.

I think my Christmas tree will juuuuust make it to next Sunday.

I bring all this up because my friend related to me something she had heard just recently from another friend.  This friend claims that, after a fresh cut, if you water your tree with either boiling or very hot water, this will extend its longevity.  Evidently, it has something to do with preventing the resins from hardening over on the cut and blocking the intake of water.  The friend also claims that every time you water your tree in this manner, it will emit a fresh burst of firry scent.

I’ve no idea whether this piece of wisdom is true or not, but it at least seems plausible.  Anyone ever heard of it before?  If it’s legitimate, I must remember to try it out next year.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the Family Robbo is still trying to adjust itself to our Christmas Morning fiasco.  The roast beef dinner that I was going to fix for that evening? I’m cooking it tonight.

As you can imagine, Death and the Eternal were much on my mind at Mass today.  (It wasn’t just the cat.  Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo has been dealing with another outbreak of the blues over the Mothe, as well.)  Fortunately, the musickal selections were particularly inspiring.  They included:

  • The Mass setting itself, which was the Missa “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
  • A motet also entitled “O Magnum Mysterium” by Victoria, sung after the Offertory Chant
  • Another motet, “Hodie Nobis Caelorum Rex” by Giovanni Maria Nanino (1543-1607), sung after the Communion Chant
  • Verbum Caro Factum Est” by Giovanni Croce (1557-1609), also sung after the Communion Chant, and
  • A traditional French carol, “Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle“, sung at the end of the Mass, that is to say after the Last Gospel.

It was all ravishing.

It’s through musick (primarily Renaissance and Baroque) that Ol’ Robbo imagines he feels the essence of Heaven, if you will.  I like to think that the best of what we produce here on Earth is inspired by and a faint echo of what the Eternal will be like.  I certainly hope it’s true and, of course, that I will get to find out some day.

Anyway, it had an immensely tonic effect on me.

UPDATE:  Delayed Christmas Dinner was a success.  I absolutely nailed the roast, the microwave-steamed asparagus came out very well, and these days I can  do popovers in my sleep.  The only dud was my gravy.  In past years, I’ve more or less winged it with decent, if not spectacular, results.  This year I looked up a formula on the innertoobs which produced a glop that tasted like flour-flavored paste.  Never trust the innertoobs.

But more importantly, my wimmin-folk and I had a delightful conversation, which I even managed to steer around to the subjects of God’s omnipotence, the Genesis Creation story, what possible reasons He could have had for creating and then wiping out the dinosaurs, and the matter of free will.  Eldest even got in a crack about how He, Him, and His are God’s preferred pronouns, and how dare anybody question His choices.  Heh, indeed.

Good times.



“Adorazione Dei Pastori” – Antonio da Correggio (1530)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

      • Luke 2:1-20

A very merry Christmas to all friends of the decanter!  God bless you all!  Bumpers all round and gunn’ls under! Here’s three times three and no heel taps!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There’s a throwaway bit in the movie “The Italian Job” in which Mahky-Mahk is playing a little one-on-one basketball with one of his crime team members.  As he sets up to drive on the basket, he asks the guy, “You ready? You ready?”

He then makes a feint but immediately backs up, laughingly saying, “You’re not ready.”

I feel the very same way about Christmas from both a temporal and a religious aspect.

I’m not ready.

Prayers that tomorrow’s scrambles make me ready. Both ways.

UPDATE:  I should have made it clearer that the source of my unreadiness was a dose the Holiday Blues. (Yes, I still am not quite over the loss of the Mothe.)  Tough to get out of bed this morning, but I did it.  I’ve been pretty busy since then and it seems to help.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself hiding in the Port Swiller Manor basement this Saturday morning, calming an hysterical Decanter Dog as the maids give the upstairs a pre-holiday going over.  What better time for a little Seasonal Random?

♦  I was compelled to put up the Tree last Sunday.  If I actually had any say in this house, it wouldn’t get decorated until Christmas Eve itself, but I’m just the “Hey, you!” around here and ten days out is about the best compromise I can usually swing.  At least I’m able to insist on purple ribbon on the front door wreaths until such time and keeping the Creche Child-less until I get home from Midnight Mass.

♦  I was flipping through the pile of X-mas cards this morning and noticed two things:  First, not a single one of them might be styled “religious” in any sense of the word.  The vast majority are of the family photo montage variety, with one or two Santas thrown in.  (To be fair, we sent the family sort ourselves this year.  As usual, I had resolved to do a separate set of Christian cards myself, and as usual, I never got around to it.)  Second, the ratio of “Just who the heck are these people?” cards seems unusually high this year.

♦  Middle Gel and I went to her old high school’s Winter Choral Concert Thursday evening.  She wound up sitting with a bunch of her alumni chums while Ol’ Robbo loitered around in the background, but it was still a lot of fun, as the singing is always high quality and the offering is always a good balance of the serious (e.g., a Vivaldi Magnificat) and the silly (e.g., a boys’ a cappella rendering of the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, complete with zany choreography.)  They have a nice tradition of always ending this concert with the same piece, a medley of “Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” (both of which I actually like, even though they’re modern and secular).  The director invites all the choir alums in the audience to come up on stage and join in.  There was an enormous number of them this year for some reason.

♦  Speaking of Middle Gel, she and Mrs. R are off this afternoon to some town down on the Northern Neck where this same director had asked the Gel to join with a professional sextet to do a Lessons and Carols service at the local church tomorrow.  (One of his regular sopranos couldn’t make it.)  I thought it was very nice that he thought of her, and she’s even getting paid for it!

♦  Speaking of pay, Eldest bagged a job taking care of a couple dogs for the next two weeks or so.  It’s kind of astounding what kind of coin a gig like that can generate in these parts, and I find myself pondering whether I went into the wrong biznay myself after all.

♦  We do not have much planned this year in terms of festivities.  “A few people in for Christmas Eve drinks” threatened at one point to mushroom into something hideously complicated, but I put the kybosh on that one.  Christmas Dinner will only be the immediate family plus my older cousin.  She’s a card-carrying Globalist.  She’s also an atheist and a liberal elitist.  We sort of horrify her, but family loyalty wins out. and she pretty much behaves herself.  She won’t dare say anything about the Impeachment, for example, but I guarantee she’s going to get a jab in about Brexit.

Whelp, the dog continues to have hysterics, so perhaps despite the fact that it’s freezing out, Ol’ Robbo better go take her for walkies.

UPDATE:  The Lessons and Carols service went very well, and the Gel’s old choir director already has invited her to do next year’s service.  The Gel had taken this semester off from singing because she had a lot of other things on her plate (read: a killer bio class), but I got the sense that between the Thursday high school concert and this she’s been rediscovering how much she likes performing.  She’ll be doing her school choir again next semester.  She’s never going to be a Met headliner, but I don’t doubt that eventually she’ll find some kind of pro or semi-pro gig or gigs like this one that will satisfy this itch for her.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I’m sure will surprise no one gathered round the decanter, Ol’ Robbo is delighted at the drubbing Boris Johnson and the Tories handed Labour and the rest of the Loony Left in yesterday’s UK Parliamentary elections.  Ol’ Robbo is strongly pro-Brexit.  The older I get, the more I detest the idea of globalism in its various manifestations and the corresponding loss of national, local, and, for that matter, individual sovereignty.  Indeed, the EU and other such organizations are nothing more than the Bearded-Spock Universe antithesis of subsidiarity, a principle to which I am deeply attached.

However, Ol’ Robbo is too tired for philosophical analysis of this latest brush war in the eternal struggle between collectivist authoritarianism and individual autonomy.  Instead, at the forefront of my  braims this evening is a timely Python skit that never seems to get old.  Enjoy!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all had good Thanksgiving Day celebrations and are now loafing about, recovering from the after-effects.

As usual, the Family Robbo packed up and went to see my brother and his down in North Carolina.  Brother managed to crock his back a few days ago, which meant that we didn’t go for our usual “Black Friday” hike and also that Ol’ Robbo found himself the Official Lifter Of The Heavy Things as far as dinner preparation went, but a good time was had by all.  Just a few observations:

♦  There really not being enough room at my brother’s house for ten adults and a small boy, we stayed at a hotel while down there. It’s a brand-new place, having still been under construction when we went last year.  It is astonishing to observe that, nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st Century, there are still interior decorators who believe avocado green is a good idea.

♦  What with not hiking yesterday, we instead flopped in front of college football all afternoon.  I really thought Virginia Tech was going to beat the gentlemen of T.J. State, but the Hokies fell apart in the last ten minutes or so and blew it.  Too bad.  (My nephew attends Tech, so the whole family was rooting for them.  Clemson and South Carolina play today and I’ve a niece at each.  The family dynamic over that one is….somewhat more complicated.)

♦  Ol’ Robbo really dislikes those X-mas car commercials in which one spouse surprises the other with a new car with a big bow on top or, even worse, with a his n’ hers matching pair.  I could never, ever contemplate making that kind of financial commitment without consulting Mrs. R first.  (There is also a smarmy-elite feel to those things – $50 grand? Walking around money! – which I would think more likely to generate seething envy in the mind of the average teevee viewer than anything else, but what does Ol’ Robbo know.)

♦  I was cajoled into reading The Monster At The End Of This Book (starring lovable, furry, old Grover) to our youngest guest, my 4 y.o. great-nephew.  It’s been quite some time since I used to read this to the Gels, and I’m not sure the boy is totally clear on who Grover actually is.  But I was pleased to find that I can still do the shrill, hysterical voice, wave my hands around in panic, and generally behave quite silly, and whatever the boy’s Sesame Street-foo, he enjoyed the performance.

♦  Ol’ Robbo wanted to get an early jump on the longish drive back to Port Swiller Manor today, so last evening he said to all the Gels, “Be ready to go by 5:45 AM.”  This morning they were……ready to go by 5:45 AM.  Amazing what a smooth start will do for a trip.  And fortunately, the traffic was really not bad at all, so we got home in very good time.

Well, that was Thanksgiving 2019, that was.  Advent starts tomorrow and once again Ol’ Robbo finds himself having left it late to see whether he has a sufficient supply of purple ribbon and candles.  Better go check on that…..

UPDATE:  Huzzay, huzzah, my fellow port swillers! We found out last night that Youngest has been accepted early decision by Miami of Ohio!!  As regular friends of the decanter may recall, she went out to tour the place last summah and fell in love on first sight, so she put in her E.D. application this fall.  We’ve been on pins and needles ever since.  (She wrote an amazingly quirky and clever personal essay about her education to date which I’m pretty sure is what got her in.)

So far as Ol’ Robbo is concerned, Miami is a perfectly decent school full of perfectly decent people in an absolutely beautiful spot.  (Distinguished alums include Peej O’Rourke, World Champion Nationals’ right-fielder Adam “Mighty Mouse” Eaton, and a cousin of mine from my great-grandmother’s family.)  Ironically, it’s greatest rival is Ohio University, where Robbo’s parents met as undergrads.

So go…..a, lessee…..REDHAWKS!!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo probably won’t be able to get at his keyboard for the next few days, so I’ll go ahead and wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving now.

Remember,  It is not, as the SJW mob would have it, about celebrating Indian exploitation, nor is it a platform for hectoring your troglodyte relatives about impeaching Trump.  Further, it isn’t simply a marker for the start of the shopping season as Big Retail would like you to believe.

Images courtesy of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art

No, cheesy pin-up art aside,  Thanksgiving is first, last, and always about gratitude, something not very fashionable these days, but absolutely vital to a healthy soul.  Make sure to take the time to meditate on this and to be truly thankful for who and what you have, and not to stew in envy over what you don’t have.

See you on the other side!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got an especially heartfelt chuckle from this article:  Scholars Now Believe Saul Threw Spear At David For Playing Christmas Music Well Before Thanksgiving.

It’s from the Bee so it’s satire, of course.  Or is it?

I haven’t heard any X-mas tunes yet (nor have I seen, for example, reindeer antlers or Rudolph noses on any cars) but they’re coming.  Oh, yes, they’re certainly coming.


As I’ve mentioned here before, the local classickal station starts inserting “holiday” musick into its rotation right after Thanksgiving.  At first, these insertions are fairly sporatic, and I always fall into the trap of thinking maybe it won’t be so bad this year.  But they inevitably crank it up to eleven, and by the time Christmas Eve actually rolls around and the stuff is nonstop, the only feeling the umpteenth airing of “O Holy Night” or “The Holly and the Ivy” raises in my soul is the urge to grab a machete and run amok.  (On the other hand, it takes but a single airing of “If Bach Had Written Jingle-Bells” to make me start smashing the furniture.)

As a matter of fact, I’m considering some Advent abstinences this year.  I usually give up musick for Lent, so perhaps I’ll do the same thing.  As well as being a good spiritual exercise, it might help the ol’ blood pressure, too.


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