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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is concerned that this Amazon Synod is bringing out a serious case of Francis Derangement Syndrome in some of his acquaintances, characterized by the swallowing of tongues and the screaming from rooftops at each new story of what Frankie allegedly said or did this time.  I don’t find this kind of thing to be particularly healthy for said swallowers and screamers.

Me? I’m largely giving it a pass.  Or at least invoking the 72 hour rule after each sensationalist headline hits the ether.  As far as I’m concerned, Fake Vatican News can be even worse than Fake Regular News, with agendas pushed harder and axes ground sharper, not to mention the perennial translation barriers, the haplessness of Vatican P.R., and the pig-ignorance and outright malice of so many of the so-called “experts”.  (The story I saw the other day was that Francis had denied the divinity of Christ.  Well, no he didn’t.)  I don’t doubt that Francis could get into some mischief, but I’m not going to blow a gasket falling for things like this.

Instead, I’m doing what our local Padre asked us to do, namely praying the Litany of St. Joseph, as well as a “Litany of Patron Saints for Family Life and Authentic Reform of the Clergy” which I think he might have put together himself.  The latter is especially interesting, in that it has introduced me to Saints I’ve never heard of before.  (Who were Ss. Louis and Zelie Martin, for example? Answer: The parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.)

And while we’re on the subject of Saints, St. John Henry Newman, ora pro nobis!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Michaelmas!

It’s quite disconcerting, especially on a beautiful morning like this one, to contemplate the fact of the endless war on the spiritual plane between St. Michael and all the hosts of the heavenly army on one side, and Satan and his evil minions on the other, with you and me and everyone else caught right in the middle.  But there it is.  Whether we like it or even acknowledge it or not.

By the bye, October 11, which was the old Michaelmas until the calendar got switched around, is also known as the Devil Spits Day and, according to folklore, one shouldn’t pick blackberries after this day.  (Yes, I’m writing about it two weeks early.)   The story is that the devil got kicked out of heaven on October 11 and landed in a blackberry bush, on which he vented his spleen, ruining the berries.

There’s a patch of wild blackberries out the back gate of Port Swiller Manor but you need not fear for Ol’ Robbo on this front because the things didn’t really give any fruit this year.  (Blackberries only fruit on mature stalks, not new growth.  Any winter we get any kind of reasonable snowfall usually breaks the stalks down, so the new ones coming up the following summah don’t produce.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent about half an hour walking around in circles at the grocery store on the way home from Mass today looking for the “Uncrustables” Youngest Gel requested for her school lunches this week.  I’m here to tell you that, as much as I like my store as a rule, they have no notion of where to put these things.  One might expect them to be in the frozen breakfast food section.  Or perhaps with the frozen desserts.  Or maybe even in the freezer directly across the aisle from the peanut butter and associated jellies.

But in between the frozen burritos and mini-pizzas?  Where the heck is the logic or reason to that?  Even after I finally broke down and asked somebody which aisle they were in (much to my personal pain), I still didn’t notice them until I went back to the staffer and he personally walked me over and pointed them out.


Oh, and the punchline?  I noticed an unopened box of the things in the freezer when I got home and put the grocs away.  D’OH!

(Ol’ Robbo is being crankypants about this because the delay means it was too late for me to have a snack when I got home as I usually do (I don’t eat beforehand), and now I have to tough it out until dinner.  And get in a work-out.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Looks like Ol’ Robbo is going back to the Sunday double-knock, accompanying Mrs. R and Youngest to services at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church before sliding on off to Mass on his own.  (They’ve both recently decided to make more of an effort at regular attendance and my coming along gives that extra boost on mornings when resolve is a bit questionable. I’d certainly rather they went there than nowhere at all.)

RFEP has a brand-new rector, the one serving my entire time there having left recently, more or less of his own volition depending on which version of the story one hears.  The congregation is pretty split between those clinging to some rags of traditional faith and those who wish to go full Unitarian, with big money boys on both sides.  The former rector had a talent for playing things more or less in the middle so as not to alienate either group (although his leanings were definitely with the latter).  We’ll see what the new guy does.  (Nothing in his sermon today tripped the alarums in Robbo’s head, so at least there’s that.)





Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Labor Day!

Ol’ Robbo is marking the day by basically loafing in his hammock.  Because after all,  in this age of Inclusiveness Uber Alles, surely it’s of the utmost importance that those who sit about on their duffs also be celebrated today every bit as much as those who work.  (And if you disagree, you’re a hater!)

As a matter of fact, I view this day simply as a marker of the end of Summah and return of Autumn.  The “Labor” in the title is too closely associated in my mind with Marxist economic theory and the misery its many forms have spread about the world over time.  It’s simply a collectivist monster.  And the “worker” at the root of such theory has no individual meaning, no individual value.  He’s merely a pawn, a cog in a greater machine, cannon-fodder for his political masters and easily eliminated when no longer needed.  Hardly something worth raising a glass about.

No, for a proper celebration of the worth and merit of an individual’s labors, I prefer to celebrate May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Funny enough, the Mothe’s father was some kind of union organizer back in the 30’s.  (I know no more specifics than that.)  In those days she told me, he swallowed Uncle Joe Stalin’s promise of a glorious worker’s paradise hook, line, and sinker.  However, after the War when the truth began to get out, he swung completely over to the other end of the spectrum.  Supposedly, he named his dog “Harry Truman” so that he could stand out on his front steps and yell, “Truman! Come here, you son of a bitch!”

Yes, Grampa Joe was a little nutz.  I only remember meeting him once, when I was six or seven, and even my tender mind noticed it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some important nothing to do…….


** Without looking it up, I’m pretty sure this (or something much like it) is a line from one of Wodehouse’s School Stories.

UPDATE:  Well, Ol’ Robbo was going to cook out this evening, but Ma Nature pawned me.  She sent down one thundershower early to get my attention, and then kept threatening a second one until past the point when I needed to fire up the coals.  In my younger, rasher days, I would have shaken my fist at the sky in defiance and gone all in.  This time?  I blinked and cooked everything on the stove top instead.  Of course, the second t-shower failed to materialize.  Well played, Ma.  Well played.

And speaking of such things, I gather we find out in the next 24 to 48 hours whether Middle Gel is going to be shooed out of the Tidewater because of Hurricane Dorian.  She got the boot this time last year because of Hurricane Florence, so she’d be batting two for two over her college career if she comes home again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt you all have heard the quote, “When people stop believing in God, the trouble is not that they believe nothing but that they’ll believe anything.”  (It’s attributed to Chesterton, but I’ve never been able to track it down.  M. Hercule Flambeau says something like it in one of the Father Brown stories, but the language is different.)

It certainly seems this wisdom is well-illustrated by the filth and nonsense being spewed all over the place these days by the press, social media, Hollywood, Big Education, and Big Government.

But the flip-side of this is also just as true:  When people do believe in God (and I mean God, not “a god”), falsehood is rendered virtually powerless.  Not that the forces of darkness couldn’t physically strong-arm a person, but they’re far, far less likely to be able to corrupt that person’s soul.  And for purposes of eternal salvation, isn’t that what really counts?

It’s a mighty comforting thought in these crazy days.

UPDATE:  Not my own original thought, to be sure.  I should have mentioned that watching the all-out assault on all Judeo-Christian values (which I actually believe to be a sign of panic and desperation)  reminds me of that scene in Lewis’s “The Silver Chair” where the Green Lady tries to hocus Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum into believing there never was such a thing as the sky, or Overland, or Narnia, or…..Aslan.  Puddleglum’s response always gets me just a little bit weepy.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sometimes the days are random.  Sometimes they’re really random.  I think today goes in the latter class.

♦  Holla! Holla! Watch – Eldest Gel went back to Sweet Briar to start her senior year this morning.  Mrs. R went as well, in part to carry overflow junk in a second car, in part because both of them have been invited to take part in a legacy-recruitment project and the dean of students wanted to have dinner with them.  I think the Gel’s going to have a most-productive year.  And here’s a fun fact for you:  With her move-in today, Eldest is now rooming on the same side of the same hallway of the same dorm as did both Mrs. Robbo and my Sistah (albeit, not at the same time).  I think that’s pretty neat.

♦  Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo had to take Youngest to an oral surgeon for a consultation about having all her wisdom teeth yanked.  We sat in that office for a total of something close to two hours, while the consultation itself took all of five minutes (and was pretty durn expensive, too).  The coming en-yankening is not something I envy her.

♦  Speaking of Youngest, I was surprised to learn today (when it was delivered) that she’d gone out and bought herself a Study Bible.  Apparently, her recent return to our Christian Sports Camp (where she’s applying to be a counselor-in-training next year) really had an effect on her, as she told me today she’s never felt so close to God before.  She plans on doing Young Life at school this year, too.  Go figure.

Not that I’m complaining at all, at all, mind.

♦  And speaking of deliveries, we got a notice today from our homeowner’s insurance carrier that they’re dropping our coverage in a couple months.  They explained that it’s nothing we’ve done, they’re just getting out of the private residential market.  Very strange.  So I suppose I’ll need to shop around now.  We’ve carried our cars with USAA for forever, and I’ve often mused about consolidating homeowner’s coverage with them as well.  This may prove an opportunity.  Of course, any tips or recommendations would be appreciated.

Well, that’s enough.  I suppose I should go see about some din-dins, and then make up my mind whether I want to watch “Casablanca” or “The Brothers Grimm” (which I’ve never seen) this evening.  (Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are playing the Bucs, but there are so many storms in the area this evening the game is likely to get spooled out over many hours and I need my beauty rest.)  “Grimm” was recommended to me by Eldest because she knows of my fondness for Terry Gilliam movies and ones with Jonathan Pryce in them in particular.  If I watch it, I’ll let you know what I think.


Greetings, fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been out of town the past couple Sundays, so hadn’t been to his home parish for a few weeks.  Thus, I was greatly surprised yesterday when I pulled up to discover the vestibule all boarded over and fenced off.

It seems the Powers have decided to modify and expand the vestibule.  On the one hand, this is very welcome, as the current one can be a real log-jam.  On the other, it also signals that Ol’ Robbo’s fond dream that they knock the whole building down and start over is even less likely to happen now than before.

Robbo’s church is truly ugly, I’m afraid, and there’s no getting around it.  For one thing, it’s in the style of what might be called ’50’s Modernsky, – all inward-leaning columns, exposed brick and tacky stained glass, and a weird wrought-iron steeple- the kind of thing that James Lileks likes to ape in his Bad Nostalgia books.  For another, it’s in the round, a thing I loathe.  There’s a cupola set dead-center in the ceiling (which rises from all around the walls).  It used to have a sort of spider-web fretwork at its base.  They got rid of that a few years back, opening up the inside.  This was painted deep blue with stars and a dove at the very top.  It’s nice to gaze at, but doesn’t save the rest of the building.

A third thing which irks me is that the altar is oriented not east but south-southeast.  So Mass is celebrated Ad Orientem sort of.  I don’t know why this is.  The old church, which is now the parish office, is both solidly four-square and properly aligned.

You’ll tell me that what goes on inside is far more important than the physical setting and of course you’ll be correct.  And in fact, I’ve got so used to things that I don’t pay any attention to my surroundings while worshipping.  I bring up my old grumble here simply because the new development reminds me of it and because it is (after all) useful blog material.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A delightful evening here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, especially considering that we’re sitting dead red in the center of August.  Loafing out on the porch, Ol’ Robbo thought he might provide you a few dainties on which to nibble as the sun goes down:

♦  Today was Ol’ Robbo’s second telework day of the new regime.  I think I can get used to this.  And yes, I’m finding it to actually be quite productive.  The question no doubt flies around the decanter, “So, was he wearing pants?”  Well, if you ask the Magic 8-Ball, you’ll only get the answer, “Reply hazy, ask again later“.

♦  I’m sorry, but as dearly as I love both Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, “Bringing Up Baby” is just not a funny movie.  “Holiday” is funny.  “Adam’s Rib” is funny.  But “Baby”? Just too manic and cutesy.  I don’t care what anybody else says. (I tried to re-watch it the other evening and couldn’t stick more than about half an hour.)

♦  Ol’ Robbo was excited to try out his brand new pair of running shoes this afternoon.  My previous pair was so old that I can’t even remember when I bought them.  They were so worn out that the heels were literally crumbling, causing my ankles and knees to corkscrew when I walked on the treadmill in them.  Not good.  I try not to fling my gold about more than necessary on personal items, but this purchase seemed to me quite justified.

♦  The consolation of having to go back to the Metro to commute to my new office is that I get a little extra reading time in.  Obviously, in such conditions one can’t get into anything too heavy or profound, so I’ve circled back round to my shelf of adventure stories.  At the moment, I’m revisiting H. Rider Haggard, specifically King Solomon’s Mines.  (I plan to read the rest of the Quartermain stories in turn.)  I half-hope that some SJW witnit will spot it and give me grief for my un-wokeness, but I’m not terribly optimistic.  These people are just too pathetically ignorant.

♦  Some fascinating conversations with Eldest Gel this week.  The other day we discussed God’s omniscience and existence outside of Time as it relates to Fatalism and Free Will. “Look,” she said in her direct way, “God knows what you’re going to do, of course.  But you’re still the one who makes up your mind to do it! Otherwise, you’re just a slave or a robot!”  Today, it was Schrödinger’s Cat.  I tried to suggest this was just a thought experiment, but she was having none of it. “The damned cat is either alive or it isn’t!” she said.  “It doesn’t matter at all whether you know it or not!  It’s like that tree in the forest – of course it makes a noise when it falls!”  It seems to me that a Gel who can avoid both the Scylla of Calvinism (and Islam) and the Charybdis of hipster quantum-theory navel gazing ought to go far.  Heh.

And yet this same Gel can’t seem to put her blasted dishes in the gorram dishwasher, no matter how much I rant.  Go figure.

Whelp, that’s about enough “filling up the corners” for now.***  Think I’ll toddle downstairs and see how my Beloved Nationals are doing.

See you in the Gardening Thread tomorrow.


***Spot the quote.  This ought to be an easy one.

UPDATE:  Ugh. Blown save.  Ol’ Robbo hates blown saves.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s mother passed away two years ago this week.  (August 5, to be precise.)

In what was actually a completely random coincidence, Ol’ Robbo found himself stopping by his local Wells Fargo branch today to finally close out the estate checking account he had set up as executor a couple months after her death.

The sensation was….strange.

I don’t think I’ve written a whole lot about it here (correct me if I’m wrong), but the Mothe’s demise hit me very, very hard, she being just about my closest friend in this world and my never  getting the chance to properly say goodbye, a long story with which I will not bore you.  As far as I can recollect now, after an initial period of shocked numbness, I spent the better part of a year plunged in grief and mourning and functioning, at best, robotically.  After that, while starting to get better generally, I still suffered occasional attacks of the blue devils, usually around holidays or significant anniversaries.

The real “coming out from under” moment occurred earlier this year, when Uncle had temporarily thrown all of us bureaucratic wage-slaves on the beach.  Having time on my hands, I went round to Father M’s parish.  Father M is good people.  He used to be a regular contributor at Mrs. P’s now-defunct Patem Peperium blog and a fairly frequent commenter here, although he now spends most of his social media time over on the FacePlant.  Anyhoo, he sat me down, shoved a cuppa kawfee in my hands, and invited me to open up.  Which I did.  I probably gassed and vented at him for a couple hours, while he very patiently sat by, dropping the occasional word of consolation and encouragement.   I left that day feeling infinitely better.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t had bouts of grief since then.  But they’ve been shorter and shallower.  And I stopped being a mere robot.

Anyhoo, recently Ol’ Robbo has been feeling pretty durn good about things in general.  The office move has proved surprisingly refreshing, I’ve got back into regular exercise with gusto, and there are no major fires to put out on the home front at the moment.  (**Touches wood**)  Nonetheless, as I sallied forth today to do my bit of banking, I could feel again the tug of those same blue devils.  Pretty weak it was, but a tug nonetheless.

I know for a fact that the Mothe’s passing has forever changed me and that these occasional tugs will never go away completely.  But it’s got to the point where they surprise me when they happen.  And also where they have no real power over me.  Well, at least more than temporarily.  (There’s a passage in a book I’ve read about this phenomenon that I just can’t recall, unfortunately.  It’s going to drive me nuts now.)

Incidentally, being the good steward that I am, having cleared all the estate debts and distributed the bulk of the residue equitably among brother, sister, and Self, the princely sum that remained in the account today was a whopping $73 and change.  I pocketed that by way of an administrative fee (totally appropriate) and used it to buy a new pair of day-to-day shoes, my old ones having become noticeably ratty.  Call them the Mothe Memorial Top-Siders.

I think she’d probably like that.





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