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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

You may or may not have seen it, what with everything else going on these days, but the Episcopal Church is “considering” revising the Book of Common Prayer to eradicate all masculine references to God.  I put quotes around the word “considering” because I can tell you here and now that this is a done deal.  The Palie clergy and congregations – at least in my experience – have been doing this on the sly for some time, and its official adoption now that the proposal has been put up is only a matter of the paperwork.

And, at least according to one version of the proposal being batted about at this year’s convention, that ain’t the all of it:

Switching to gender-neutral language is the most commonly mentioned reason to make the change, but many stakeholders in the church want other revisions. There are advocates for adding language about  a Christian’s duty to conserve the Earth; for adding a liturgical ceremony to celebrate a transgender person’s adoption of a new name; for adding same-sex marriage ceremonies to the liturgy, since the church has been performing such weddings for years; for updating the calendar of saints to include important figures named as saints since 1979.

Oh, you betcha.  (Actually, I believe there is language about environmental stewardship in the Catholic Catechism already.  And I’ve got no problem with celebrating the Feast Day of St. John Paul the Second (October 22).  The other stuff? Yeah, you betcha.)

The Family Robbo were discussing this item at dinner last evening.  The sense of the meeting was pretty clear that if these things go through, they’re gone.  (The general idea seems to be in favor of seeking out whatever pockets of traditional mainline Protestantism remain (have I mentioned here that my great-grandfather on my father’s side was a Presbyterian minister?), or perhaps venturing among the Evangelicals.  Alas, nobody seems interested in Ol’ Robbo’s open invitation to follow him across the Tiber.  As terribly disappointing as this is, however, I have at least come to understand what a truly enormous thing it is that I’m asking – even if they don’t – and that it might simply be beyond them at this point.  I would not wish them to sign on for something they simply don’t understand.  I will thus just continue my policy of trying to lead by (admittedly feeble) example, and praying for their eventual enlightenment.)

Because of parliamentary procedures within TEC, consummation of this mucking about with the BCP will take some years.  What might make the family bolt much more precipitately is the fact that the longtime Rector of Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church retired a couple weeks ago.  He was as proggy as any of them. (I once heard him in an unguarded moment musing that Leviticus could be read not to prohibit doinking the livestock, but merely to insist on purification afterwards before entering the Temple.)  But he had enough biznay sense to recognize that the parish in general, and the Big Money Boys in particular, are fairly evenly split between Progs and Trads, and that it was in his best interest to keep his public ministry as neutral as possible.  If the Diocese is fool enough to install some hard-charging Lefty in his place, the Family Robbo won’t be the only ones making a bee-line for the exits.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely, lovely Saturday morning here at Port Swiller Manor.  Cool, crisp, and the promise of a marvelous Maine-like day.  Fortunately, we’ve had so much heat and so little rain recently that Ol’ Robbo can get away with skipping the lawn this week, although I will have to get out with the hose and water things later on.

Middle Gel and I ran out to the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania yesterday in order to retrieve Youngest from her term at Bible-Thumper camp.**  (We took the Gel’s VW Tiguan, which proved to be a pretty slick little mover out on the highway, btw.)  As regular friends of the decanter may recall, Middle Gel, after a considerable amount of anguish, decided to attend a different camp this summah, and so missed out on her eleventh year at BTC.  It was good for her to get to go up to retrieve her sistah, as she got to see a lot of her old friends.  She now talks about possibly applying to be a counselor there next year.

Youngest, as it turns out, had a very good term.  She took the girls’ swim medal for her age group and was the camp chess champ.  Also, if you go to the linkie, you’ll see that the camp is divided into two teams, Romans and Galatians.  Over the course of the term, the teams compete in a variety of athletic competitions with an intensity that matches many big-time college rivalries.  Youngest is a Roman, and the Romans won this year (an admittedly rare occurrence).  The Gel screamed and shouted so much that her voice is literally gone at the moment. (A very small loss, indeed.)

Aaanyhoo, upon our return to Port Swiller Manor late yesterday afternoon, Ol’ Robbo noticed that the A/C was not working again.  I say “again” because about a month ago it stopped blowing cold air.  (It was still blowing air but just couldn’t keep up with the thermostat.) When the repair fellah came out, he discovered a leak in the coolant line caused by a faulty weld that was gumming up the works. The insides, which he showed me, were a solid block of ice.  So we had to shut the whole thing down, wait for the ice to melt, and then go about fixing it.  Fortunately, since the screw-up was the company’s fault, the repair was free.

This time, the thing was just shut down altogether.  (The outside unit was still working, however.) I flipped the circuit breaker a couple times, fiddled with the thermostat, pounded on the sides.  Then I noticed that the insulation around the coolant line is sodden and dripping.  So here we go again, I think.

Curiously, the A/C is working fine this morning.  My theory is that when it shut itself off, the ice melted all by itself, so the thing could kick back in.  Doesn’t mean the leak isn’t still there, however.

I hope my diagnosis is correct, as it should mean another free repair.

Fortunately, as I said up top, a lovely day today, so having the thing offline for a while will have no real impact.  But still……..Grrrrrrr.


**Ol’ Robbo uses this term, and always has, only in the spirit of gentle teasing, not in mockery, of course.  In the battle lines of the current culture wars, I gladly fight alongside the Evangelicals.

UPDATE:  Heh.  HVAC fellah appeared this afternoon.  I rattled off my observations and explained my theory.  He listened patiently, remarked that every observation was helpful in its own way, and then proceeded to diagnose something completely different.  (The system had just shut off because of a slight clog in the drainpipe.  He flushed it out with some water and vinegar just to make sure it was clean.)  He was very polite, but I know what he was thinking because I think the same thing when laymen start arguing legal theories at me.  I suppose I had it coming.

UPDATE DEUX: Came home this Monday evening to discover the thermostat was spiking again.  (Apparently, everyone else at home was too caught up in themselves to notice.)  I went through the flush drill again as the fellah had shown me.  No result.  The inside unit sounds like it’s trying to restart, but just isn’t turning over for whatever reason.  At this point, I don’t think it unreasonable for me to bring my own theory back into play.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today saw Ol’ Robbo’s annual trek out to the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania, there to make the drop-off at Bible-Thumper camp.

This is Ol’ Robbo’s 11th year making said trip.  Nothing much has changed about the mechanics of there and back again, so I’ll just repost what I wrote about the drive last year and leave it at that.

What’s different this time is that we only took the Youngest Gel.  (It’s her 9th year there.)  Middle Gel could have gone for her 11th and last year, but the Young Life group in which she has become increasingly active the last year or two is going on retreat to a lake somewhere in Upstate New York this week, and after a bit of agonizing over it, she decided to go on that trip instead.  (I dropped her off at the charter bus at 5 ack emma this morning.)  She wants to come with me to pick up Youngest in two weeks and say hello to everybody, and there is some talk of possibly serving as a counselor next summah, but the truth is that chapter in the Family Robbo story is now effectively over.

This ties in with what I was musing on in the post below about milestones and changes:  With the Eldest, the groundbreaking theme is most prominent.  But with Middle Gel coming up over the same ground, I get a much more distinct sense of the Back Marker looming somewhere behind her.  I can’t quite hear him yet, but I already know what he’s muttering:  Memento mori.  I’ve a feeling that by the time Youngest comes through, he’ll be positively shouting at me.

Another startling sensation this time around was sitting with Mrs. Robbo and Youngest at the Ruby Tuesday’s in Somerset, PA where we always stop for lunch and suddenly realizing that, come this fall, this is the Family Home Unit for the next two years.  (And as the eldest of three myself, this changing dynamic is all terra incognita to me.  I actually know very little of the day-to-day dynamics of the home of my own misspent yoot after I went away to college.)

Oh, and related?  The lease runs out on Mrs. R’s Honda Juggernaut some time this fall and we’ve begun to discuss what to do.  Mrs. R has made clear that she doesn’t want another SUV because she’s never been comfortable piloting such a beast.  (The dings on the bumpers pay silent testimony to this.)  The disturbing thing? I find myself agreeing with her….because we don’t really need one anymore.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A bit too soggy in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor to do anything useful in the yard this Saturday, so Ol’ Robbo won’t even bother.  Instead, how about a little of this and that?

♦  Middle Gel (and Mrs. R) went to an overnight freshman orientation program this week.  I believe it was when she returned armed with her first semester schedule that I finally realized yes, she’s a college kid now.  Most….discombobulating.  It’s a very different feel from when Eldest went off, perhaps because then one was so caught up in the groundbreaking aspect but now the tempus fugit theme seems more present.  God know what it will be like when Youngest goes……

♦  While Mrs. Robbo and Self were away on holiday, I of course paid no attention whatsoever to any form of “news”.  Catching up upon my return, I was both interested and delighted to see the “OhMuhGawdTrumpHitlerIsTearingInnocentMigrantBabiesFromTheirMothersArms!!” meme launch, soar, and crash in flames, all in about 72 hours or so.  Surely there is doctoral thesis-level material there regarding the insanity of the modern nooz propaganda cycle.

♦ Oh, and if you’re interested, Ol’ Robbo is of the opinion that any “blame” that attaches in this matter lies squarely on the parents who drag their children into such a horrible situation in the first place.  Regardless of what Nancy Pelosi or the USCCB may say to the contrary, it is not a sin to refuse to aid, abet, or encourage this kind of child abuse.  So there.

♦ And one other politickal observation?  There will be no “Blue Wave” this fall.

♦ Ol’ Robbo saw quite a bit of “ink” on the beach this week.  I don’t mean a discreet little doo-dah on an ankle here or there, I mean elaborate designs all up and down legs, arms, and backs.  Call me what you will, but I simply fail to see what somebody could possibly be thinking in going for such a look.  Especially (yes, I’ll say it) a woman.

♦ Has any friend of the decanter seen the new Incredibles movie? Frankly, I’m afraid to.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Fingers crossed that thunderstorms don’t thwart my grilling plans later: what with various comings and goings (Eldest gets home from visiting grandparents this afternoon and both the younger gels are away tomorrow to separate summah camps/retreats), this evening is the only time in the next couple weeks when all five of us will actually be home together for dinner.

UPDATE:  Long-time friend of the decanter Sleepy Beth has a review of The Incredibles 2 which gives Ol’ Robbo much hope.  Go check it out.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting the past few days (and maybe the next few, too).  It’s High School Graduation Week here at Port Swiller Manor and unlike her elder sister, who shunned as much of the hoopla as possible, Middle Gel is intent on taking in as many of the activities as she can.  So we had an academic achievement awards ceremony yesterday, I think there’s a parents’ breakfast tomorrow (which I am missing because work), the Big Shoo is Thursday, the school choir has its own awards picnic Friday, and Mrs. R and I are co-hosting the Gel’s  graduation party with another couple on Saturday (not at our house, thank God).

Plus, the Port Swiller In-Laws rolled into town Sunday and are staying for the week.  So there’s that.

Busy times.

Anyhoo, all that aside, I just wanted to note that I saw my first firefly of the season last evening.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned here more than once how fond I am of fireflies and of watching them fool about on the edge of the woods on these warm and humid spring evenings.    Sometimes, when it’s very still, I even fancy I can hear a faint *phah* every time one of them lights off.

Always makes me happy.

Ace was talking about “news fatigue” this afternoon, the 24/7 bombardment of outraged shrieking by politickal pundits and talking heads and how so many people are increasingly sick and tired of it all.  He asks the Moron Horde how they cope with it in their various ways.

Me? Well, one method is to sit on the porch in the evening and look for the fireflies.  Another is to watch the clouds (we may get a thundershower this evening).  A third is to contemplate the trees in their yearly cycles.  A fourth is to read a piece of fiction or listen to some musick.  And of course, all of these involve not watching or listening to the MSM.

See how easy that is?  And I haven’t even got to God or Family yet.

One specific act of defiance:  The local classickal station runs three-minute NPR nooz updates at the top of the hour.  Although I listen to the station all day down the office, I’ve got into the habit of shutting it off for those three minutes, just to preserve my blood-pressure.

That, too, is pretty easy.

Really, they can only get you in the end if you let them.

Or perhaps I should say, “[They] can’t take the sky from me.” **


** I hope footnotes are not required for the references.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A quiet Saturday morning here at Port Swiller Manor, as I am giving mowing the yard a miss this week so to encourage it to seed itself.  (If I have to suffer from all this grass pollen, I may as well take the benefits, too.) So a few things:

♦  Robbo was made to be social last evening, as we attended a drinks and dinner thing for one of Mrs. R’s ladies’ clubs.   One of the things I hate about parties is the fact that all the ambient music and babble makes it very difficult for me to follow what people are saying to me, thus making conversation extremely hard work.  I think there’s a term for this kind of deafness – something like aural overload – and for the first time I found myself seriously thinking I really ought to look into hearing aid options.  (My lawn:  You may get off it immediately.)

I also dislike intensely people my age who act like they’re about 21.  Then again, when Ol’ Robbo was 21, he got criticized for acting like he was in his 50’s, so I suppose there’s some kind of cosmic harmony there.

♦  Speaking of the Young People and pop culchah, regular friends of the decanter will not be a-tall surprised that Mr. Kanye West, as an entertainer, means little or nothing to Ol’ Robbo, even though I have a general idea of how big an influence he has on others.  But I am appalled at the level of venom and the nakedness of the “Get your ass back on the plantation, boy!” response to his daring to say positive things about The Donald.  I hope that’s an eye-opener for other people, too.

♦  And speaking of such things, good on that girl who wore the Chinese prom dress for (politely) telling her on-line cry-bully cultural-appropriation critics to stuff it.

♦  And speaking of The Donald, I do not give a single, solitary damn about Stormy Daniels.

♦  So what do we make of the sudden thaw in Korean relations?  I believe the Norks are suddenly feeling very vulnerable what with the (I believe confirmed) literal collapse of the mountain that was holding their nuclear testing facilities, but I’ve also an idea that we have been leaning on the Chinese to real in Lil’ Kim and make him play nice.  Will something come of it?  Who knows, but when I was growing up I assumed that East and West Germany would be forever separated, so there’s that.

♦  And speaking of international relations, did you see where Saudi Arabia and the Vatican struck a deal about building Christian churches in the KSA?  Pretty cool.  I think Prince Whatshisname is sincere about his push for reform, even if it’s only to maintain his own head.  (I also think he and the Israelis are deep in a scheme to wipe out the mutual threat from Iran, but that’s a different matter.)

The times.  They be interesting.

♦  Those of you who feared Ol’ Robbo was going to self-immolate in panic over his beloved Nats may stand down for now, as the team has won 6 straight, is back over .500 and is within striking distance of 1st place in the NL East.  More importantly, from what I’ve seen, they’re really beginning to mesh and hum, and it’s becoming an actual pleasure to watch them again.  GO NATS!


Georges de La Tour – St. Joseph the Carpenter

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker!

As he was making his way home this evening, Ol’ Robbo found himself comparing and contrasting the Christian view – emphasized on this Feast Day – of the sanctity and dignity of honest labor that adheres to each individual with the arbitrary, faceless, collectivist, archetypal pawn that is the “worker” of Marxist political doctrine.  The two simply couldn’t be more different.  Jesus loves each and every one of us personally.  Under Marxism, you’re just nameless cannon-fodder.  (BTW, I really hate the word “worker” for precisely this reason.)

And speaking of which, I gather that either yesterday or the day before (I refuse to look it up) was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, the man whose crackpot Utopian theories were directly responsible for the deaths of 100+ million people and the denigration and enslavement of how many 100 millions more.

Heck of a job, Marxy.

And yet there are still those who praise the bastard, arguing that Marxism will work this time, swearsies, if only we get the Right People in place and give them the proper amount of power, which is to say, all of it.  Some of them, I suspect, are simply naïve.  Others know perfectly well that the whole thing is a crock, but recognize it as a vehicle by which they pursue their will to power.

I’m always reminded of what Peej O’Rourke wrote (long before he contracted Trump Derangement Syndrome):  “Communists worship Satan.  Socialists believe perdition is a good system run by bad people.  And Liberals think we should all go to hell because it’s warm there in the winters.”

Anyhoo, as a husband, father, and principal bread-winner, over the years I have become more and more fond of St. Joseph.  When Ol’ Robbo swam the Tiber ten years ago, I took as my patrons Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the former because he was a convert himself and the latter because of his enormous intellectual defense of the Faith.  I still turn to them, but for ordinary, everyday, hands-on practical living?  Give me Joe.  (I’ve even got a “Prayer to St. Joseph Over A Difficult Problem”  – lifted from Father Z some time back – tacked to my bulletin board at work.)

St. Joseph, ora pro nobis!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy St. George’s Day!

(And happy….eh…454th – if my math is correct – birthday of Will Shakespeare, too!)

Of course, Ol’ Robbo is neither blind nor a fool, and knows that the Britain of which he has always been such a fan has virtually ceased to exist, overwhelmed by foreign invasion and suicidal self-doubt.  Similarly, he knows that Shakespeare’s genius is practically an alien language to the Young People these days.

Nonetheless, Ol’ Robbo prefers to light single candles rayther than to curse the darkness.  So I will put aside my gloom and ask you all to charge your glasses, gunn’ls under, and raise them to St. George and the Bard with three times three and no heel taps!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt you’ve seen by now that The New Yorker has decided to take a slap at Chick-Fil-A for daring to expand its footprint in the City and further spreading its Christian cooties all over the place?   “Creepy infiltration” the author calls it.  Why?

And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage.

You know, it’s a damned shame what happened to The New Yorker.  My parents subscribed for years and years, and when I went off to college I took out my own subscription as well.  There was always that insular, Manhattanite, soft-liberal air about it, but this very rarely interfered with the high-quality writing, as it was still then somewhat tied to Reality.  And in those days, the magazine was still capable of laughing at itself over this attitude. (I have a framed print of a New Yorker cartoon from the 70’s in the downstairs loo.  A long-haired yoot is speeding away from a grand country house in a sports car.  His mother and grandmother are sitting out on the terrace watching him go.  The mother is saying to the grandmother, “It’s all right, Mother.  When the boy says society is rotten, he doesn’t mean Southampton.”)

But Tina Brown took over in the early 90’s and immediately turned the magazine politickal (I recall her slobbering all over the Clintons) and “edgy”, and it’s been veering harder left ever since.  (Or so I gather.  I let my subscription run out after putting up with her for a year or two. I did see the cover art featuring “Sesame Street’s” Ernie and Bert cuddling after the Supremes handed down their gay marriage decision.)  And here we are.

As I say, a damned shame.

As for CFA, the article admits that it’s selling sammiches like gang-busters in the City, so evidently not all Noo Yawkers are bothered by its –eek!– “pervasive Christian traditionalism”.

Closer to home, CFA has been the Port Swiller go-to fast food place for years and years.  The food is consistently yummy, the service consistently efficient and pleasant, even under trying circumstances.  (We once stopped at one in Charlottesville the day of the UVA/Virginia Tech game.  It was a sea of people, but it was the most patient, good-natured, and tolerant sea of people I’ve ever seen, and the staff were absolute heroes.)  And nobody has ever quizzed me on my sexual politicks or demanded to share their personal witness before handing over my order.  (Compare that with Starbucks’ short-lived attempt to have their baristas mix it up with customers over racial politicks. Feh!)

After the SJW sturmtruppen tried to organize a boycott of CFA over its owners’ Christianity a few years back, a boycott that blew up in their faces bigly, we took to calling the place “Hate-Fil-A” in mockery (of the SJW’s, that is).  We still refer to “Hate-sammiches”, “Hate-shakes”, and “Fries of Intolerance”.  Eldest Gel and I also have a long-standing joke:  Whenever she comes home from picking up a meal there, she says, “Do you know what those intolerant bastards did? They told me to have a nice day!  Who the hell do they think they are?”

And now, darn it, Ol’ Robbo is hungry for a Hate-sammich, but it’s Sunday and CFA isn’t open.  Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is taking a 300-level seminar on Medieval Law this semester.  The other day, she called me up cackling with glee over a research paper she’s going to be doing to basically finish out the next couple weeks.  I’m not altogether completely clear on what the general parameters of the paper are supposed to be, but they have something to do with selecting and examining an instance of the treatment of women under one or more legal codes of the period.

Why was the gel so gleeful?  Well, apparently all the other students in her class immediately zoomed in on examples of Muh Oppression.  The Gel can’t stand this sort of thing, so she decided to spike the lot of them by exploring a period of Papal Succession (previously unknown to me) in the middle of the 10th Century known as the Saeculum Obscurumor the “Rule of the Harlots”.  Per Wiki:

The saeculum obscurum was first named and identified as a period of papal immorality by the Italian cardinal and historian Caesar Baronius in his Annales Ecclesiastici in the sixteenth century.  Baronius’ primary source for his history of this period was a contemporary writer, Bishop Liutprand of Cremona. Baronius himself was writing during the Counter-Reformation, a period of heightened sensitivity to clerical corruption. His characterisation of the early 10th-century papacy was perpetuated by Protestant authors. The terms Pornocracy (German: Pornokratie, from Greek pornokratiā, “rule of prostitutes”), Hetaerocracy (“government of mistresses”) and the Rule of the Harlots (German: Hurenregiment) were coined by Protestant German theologians in the nineteenth century.

What it amounted to, so I gather, was that several extremely powerful women of the Theophylacti family of Rome used a combination of, eh, feminine wiles and legal arcanae to appoint and control a number of 10th Century Popes.

I should make clear that the Gel’s delight does not arise from the light in which it places Holy Mother Church during that period, but rayther because this is an example of actual history that goes against the Current Narrative.  She’s just like that.  (Can’t imagine where she got it.)

Speaking of which, I suppose I can announce here that the Gel is actually transferring schools at the end of this semester.  As much as she found Sweet Briar to be an excellent incubator as she got her academic feet under her, she decided that it is just too small, socially speaking, and that she wanted someplace bigger and (so I gather) with boys.  So she’s moving over to High Point University this fall as a Junior.

I must say that I’m extremely proud of the Gel.  She told me a couple months ago that she wanted a change and I didn’t fight her on it. “However,” I said, “This is your pigeon.  You’re 20 years old.  You want it to happen? You make it happen.  You deal with the consequences.”  And she did.  She did all the application essays and paperwork herself, looked up an old high school friend of hers who goes to HPU to get the lay of the land and insider-baseball tips, and then arranged and drove down on her own to do an on-campus interview and tour.  She’s also done all the subsequent stuff regarding acceptance, housing, and so-forth.

And what of High Point?  Whelp, it’s a private school of about 5000 kids, located half an hour from my brother’s house.  The President is a self-made immigrant gazillionaire who seems bent on combining a traditional liberal arts curriculum with courses on character and dealing with the Real World.   I’ve done a good bit of poking around on-line about the place, and there seems to be a definite split in opinion – people either love it or hate it, although the “hate” seems to center mainly around the unorthodox methods in which the President manages to raise and pour money into the place.  Curiously, we’ve come across one stat that suggests the place is attractive to kids who also look at CNU, where Middle Gel starts in the fall.  Of those who get into both, there seems to be about a 50-50 split.  They both, from what I can tell, seem to be part of the up-and-coming wave of schools snapping up good kids put off by the outrageous expense and Cultural Marxism offered by the so-called elite academies these days.

We shall see.

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