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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with the July 4th holiday (and I hope yours were enjoyable), friends of the decanter will have noticed that Ol’ Robbo didn’t stick to his usual weekend posting habits.

Well, if you’re like me, you probably hate disruption and disorder with the heat of a thousand suns.  So to provide some solace, allow me to offer up a condensed version of what I otherwise would have written:

Saturday Gardening Post – The butterfly bush are starting to open up.  They’ll be the centerpiece of the Port Swiller Manor back garden from here until frost if I don’t let the insidious morning-glory swamp them.  I still haven’t seen all that many butterflies yet, but I expect that will change shortly.  (The sight of fifteen or twenty tiger swallowtails at a time flitting about over the bushes has always been my argument to Mrs. R why we should have them in the first place.)

Sunday Go-To-Meeting Post – Those of you who fear the Church has forgot how to be Militant would have been comforted by our guest-padre yesterday.  He let go a stem-winder of a homily damning and blasting post-modernism (including within the Church herself) as rebellion against the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Nature and referred to those seeking to undermine American fundamentals as “neo-Marxist barbarian gangs”.

Random Commuter Observations – Usually by this time of year Ol’ Robbo is complaining of the chronic heat exhaustion that results from his summah commuting in an A/C-less jeep.  At least the lockdown has kyboshed that for the foreseeable future.  (In fact, I haven’t even filled up my gas tank since early March.)  On the other hand, I finally had to admit today that with this week’s arrival of the hot n’ sticky, I have to move my workspace off the porch and back down into the basement.  Heigh ho.

So there you have it.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Wish Ol’ Robbo joy! I finally got back to real live Mass today for the first time since the middle of March.

Things are still not all the way back to normal, of course.  No holy water in the fonts, for instance.  Half the pews closed off.  And the Host tasted suspiciously of Father’s Purell.  (I say nothing of the mask requirement because only about a quarter of the congregation bothered wearing them.)  But still, it felt like coming home.

Getting somewhat back into the routine for the first time in months seems to have prompted a curious secondary sensation:  Just now I found myself for an instant wondering what I should talk about with the Mothe this afternoon.  For years that had been our practice.  I’d get home around two, have a snack, and then give her a call at three and talk for an hour or so.  Funny how some part of my braim assumed that the re-establishment of the one practice would automatically mean the re-establishment of the other.

(It’ll be three years in early August since she passed.  I suppose that’s on my mind again, too.  Probably explains why I had a dream about getting dementia last night as well.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Fathers’ Day!

Firstly, for those of you interested, Ol’ Robbo is pleased to report that he seems to have shrugged off the stomach bug and is feeling so much better that he anticipates getting back on the exercise horse tomorrow. (And just to prove it wasn’t the dreaded Corona bogeyman, Middle Gel, who had the same thing, actually got herself tested.  Result? Nyet!)

Second, Ol’ Robbo can’t remember a Fathers’ Day on which he has felt so, well,….grateful.  Grateful that Almighty God and my parents between them successfully knocked into me the values and skills I would need, in turn, to bring up the Gels the right way.  (Our Padre harped on the theme of strong fatherhood on both the celestial and the earthly level in his homily today, which is perhaps why I was particularly thinking about it.)

While each of them in her own way remains a work in progress, of course, thinking on the matter I was reminded once again of what a solid foundation they all have, a foundation of faith, common sense, and acceptance of objective reality, and with it a corresponding absence of need to “fulfill” themselves with crackpot politicks, pharmaceutical release, or sexual depravity.  It’s not sticking on side to mention my own contribution to this, in part because each of them from time to time has thanked me for it herself, and in part because my gratitude is based solely on my wish to see them wholesomely happy.  Ol’ Robbo is not looking for brownie points here, only his children’s well-being.

What with the Current Unpleasantness, it seems this armor suddenly has become all the more critical.  A torrent of pernicious – dare I say diabolical? – nonsense is coming to the fore now (whether because the Marxist Left is desperate or confident, I can’t say), and much of it seems to be aimed particularly at those yoot with holes in their souls due to the absence of both God and stern, old-fashioned sticks like me.  I fear the allure is strong for many.  I don’t fear it will get to the Gels.  (They may suffer for their character, of course, but I don’t believe they’ll surrender.  l’m confident – well, hopeful, anyhoo – that even Youngest, who heads off to college sooner than I like to think, won’t sail off into the deep end when she gets there.)

When I clumsily tried to say all this at dins on the porch tonight, Eldest, with her tongue fully in her cheek, replied, “Wrong!  You brainwashed us….Dad!  But the other side’s got a better deal now:  ‘Come join our cult – We’ve got cookies!‘”

I burst into a laughter that must have been heard all round the neighborhood.

That’s my Gels!

St. Joseph, ora pro nobis!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Pentecost!

Ol’ Robbo has often wondered about a little nugget in Acts 2.1-11 in which Luke describes the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on this day and their subsequent speaking in tongues to the Jews of various countries and nations assembled at Jerusalem.  He names something like fifteen different locales, almost all in general terms:  Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Asia, Phrygia, and so on.  But he is specific about “the parts of Libya about Cyrene”.  I can’t recall when I first picked up on this but it has become something of an eyeworm every time I see it now, and for some reason it makes me smile, too.

Is there any particular significance to this?  Were the Jews scatter-shot around these other regions but specifically concentrated around Cyrene in Libya? In that case, why not just say Cyrene?  (He also cites Rome, after all.)  Or, to be consistent, say Libya assuming that his reader will know where in that land the Jews live?

Perhaps there’s a point to this, perhaps I’m just overreading it.  I dunno.  But as I say, it grabs my attention every time.  (Not to the point, I hasten to add, that it distracts me from the broader message!)

Anyhoo, the extra good news for Ol’ Robbo this Pentecost Sunday – and the reason for the post title – is that I will be going back to Mass next week for the first time in several months! To borrow a tag line from Ye Olde LlamaButchers blog: Yip! Yip! Yip!

I watched today’s broadcast from my parish operating under Kommissar Northam’s “Phase 1” reopening policy for the first time and, despite every other pew being taped off, there appeared to be plenty of room in which to plant my own carcass next week.  The Good Lord knows imma need it.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the Decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo’s anticipatory excitement last Sunday over the announcement that his diocese would start offering public Mass on a limited basis today?  Well, almost immediately after I posted that, Kommissar Northam put the kybosh on it, extending the lockdown in NoVA until the end of this month.

I’ll bet you dollars to donuts he does it again, too.  Because It’s For Your Own Good, kulaks.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo is beginning to see articles to the effect that the People shut themselves down and the gub’mint was merely playing catch-up.

The implication is that the People will open things up again despite the gub’mint.  I happen to think that’s right but let’s just hold on a minute about that initial premise, Action.

Back in mid-March when things were starting to get hinky, my diocese came out with specific guidelines for the continuance of public worship:

  • Dispensation by the Bishop from the requirement to attend Mass for anyone who was sick, thought they might be sick, or otherwise felt at risk.
  • No sharing of wine during Communion.
  • No “passing the peace” or other touching among the congregation.

There were one or two other items which I don’t recollect, but this was the gist of it.

I thought then that these were perfectly reasonable precautionary measures and I’ve seen absolutely nothing in the two months since then to suggest that we could not have carried on right through operating under them.

Here’s the thing:  It wasn’t Bishop Burbridge or “the People” who then within a couple days decided that worship was non-essential and that churches needed to be shut down, it was Kommissar Fargin’ Northam who did so.

Do not, do not, attempt to minimize the gub’mint’s arbitrary overthrow of our Constitutional liberties in this matter. Do not make excuses.  Do not let Big Brother off the hook.

Because if you do, it’ll just come for you again.

(Of course, one may criticize the Church for not telling Big Brother to go stick its head in a pig when the diktat came out, but that’s a separate rant.)

UPDATE:  First, Ol’ Robbo apologizes for being such a Ranty McRantface about all this. I’m sure it gets tedious for you lot.

Second, I see now that my church actually started Communion services yesterday: Very short, outdoors, no more than eight people at a time.  I swear this nooz wasn’t posted when I checked on Saturday.  I did see a FB post about another church in teh diocese doing this yesterday, and damme if the first comment wasn’t a Karen ranting about the padre offering Communion on the tongue.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Happy news in Ol’ Robbo’s corner of the world as late this week Bishop Burbridge announced our Diocese will begin reinstituting public worship on a limited basis next week.  No news yet from my own parish about how it will go about implementing this, but I expect Father will let us know soon.  Given that there simply aren’t all that many people at the Mass I attend in the first place, there is a very real chance that we could finally get back to something approaching normal relatively quickly.  Huzzah! Huzzay!

Speaking of such, Video Meliora has up an excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal which is well worth a read.  Ol’ Robbo has long meant to dive deeper into her writings than the quotes, excerpts, and few short stories he has read heretofore.  But to be honest, I can’t think of a single other author who actually intimidates me as much as she does.  A laser-beam intelligence, profound religious wisdom and insight, and a penchant for not suffering fools gladly, I couldn’t bring myself to read her without anything less than the utmost literary rigor.  The idea of reading her casually is, frankly, appalling.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees he hasn’t posted in a few days.  My apologies.  I fell off my exercise schedule the middle of last week and as a consequence came down with a touch of cabin fever.  When Robbo gets the blahs, his Muse takes a powder.

Anyhoo, here we are again.

Ol’ Robbo got eaten alive by gnats while out mowing the lawn this weekend.  I simply do not recall such a dense and aggressive swarm about my face before.  Was it the attraction of my house-arrest beard?  Or was it glowball enwarmening?  Either way, we’re all dead.

On that front, I notice that my neighbor has started feeding a fox that lives just inside the tree line behind us.  I’m not sure what to think about this.  On the one hand, I like to see the fox.  On the other, there is always the rabies concern.  I don’t want Decanter Dog to have an Old Yeller Moment.

Speaking of rabies, for the past five weeks now Ol’ Robbo’s only excursions out into the world have been his weekly runs to the grock store and Total Bev to get in weekend dins and fresh supplies of the needful.  At the store, I’d say about ninety percent of the customers are wearing masks these days.  I don’t.  I’m getting so browned off that I find myself almost disappointed that no Karen has hissed at me about it.

And speaking of excursions, I would note that Middle Gel snapped her fingers at Kommissar Northam and went to visit a school friend a couple hours away this weekend.  We at Port Swiller Manor have a baaaad feeling that he’s going to be one of the very last holdouts regarding the lifting of the police state.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved to shorten the Commonwealth’s motto to “Semper Tyrannis” and reversed the positions of the figures on our flag.  How on earth did we ever saddle ourselves with such a monster?

Whelp, that’s enough to get things going again, I believe.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention – On a sunnier note, I got a call from my parish office Friday.  They were just calling round to check up on folks and see how they’re doing.  It actually made my day.  (The better news, according to the nice lady with whom I chatted, is that our flock seems to be in good shape, and that family and friends are looking out for one another.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter, especially those couple of you who have actually met me in meatspace, may be interested to know that Ol’ Robbo crossed the Rubicon today with respect to his plague beard by going over to the devil’s website and investing in an electric trimmer kit.  It’s got to the point where I need either to clean the thing up or to get rid of it, so I decided to go all in.  “YOLO”, as the Boomers like to say.  (They’re more right than they realize, by the bye, only not in the way they think.)

Now it just may be a cowinkidink, or it may be one of those tiny, gossamer threads in the Great Plan, but while I was at said website, I noticed a book served up on my recommendations list: On Faith: Lessons From An American Believer by Antonin Scalia.  I’ve learned to act on these little promptings (or, if you want to put it that way, am easily subject to temptation), so I immediately snapped it up.

Justice Scalia and I attended the same Mass for almost ten years, and while I never spoke to him one on one, I did sometimes hang about in post-Mass circles when he hobnobbed with the Padre.  I’d no idea he’d written a book about it all, but I can’t say I’m particularly surprised.  I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve read it.  (As an aside, I may say here that I find myself dancing with frustration every time the Scalia-Was-Murdered meme bubbles up on the comment boards I follow.  The man was in obviously declining health towards the end and I used to marvel that he still managed to keep himself going when I saw him.)

I notice that the book comes with a forward by Scalia’s son, Fr. Paul Scalia.  He was our parish priest for a while and still subs now and again.  One of my fondest memories is of the time he thoroughly spiked Eldest, who was a middle-schooler (in every vile sense of the word) at the parish academy and thought she saw an opening to get me.  We were talking together (I forget what occasion) when the Gel suddenly blurted out, “Faaaather! My dad says there are Baseball Gods!”

Without missing a beat, Fr. Paul said, “Of course there are Baseball Gods.”

The look on the Gel’s face was priceless.  Heh.

Anyhoo, as I say, I’ll let you know what I think of the book.

UPDATED:  Well, I cancelled the trimmer, as the devil’s website informed me it would take a month to get here and I anticipate returning to the office before then.  I’ll just go pick one up at Tarjay or somewhere.  The book will take a month, too, but I can wait on that.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and Happy Easter!  He has risen, indeed!

I hope all you friends of the decanter managed to make the best of things.  Ol’ Robbo duly dialed into his church’s livestreamed solemnities,  If this house-arrest nonsense keeps up much longer, he’s going to have to look into investing in a prie-dieu, because the joints do not take kindly to prolonged kneeling on the floor these days.  (Yes, I am as participatory as possible.  I couldn’t imagine just sitting there and watching passively.)

I’ve never used livestream before and didn’t realize that the feed keeps track of the number of users watching it.  I found myself somewhat amused that even in the Virtual Church there were still people sneaking in late.  (After my initial reluctance, I think I’m going to keep it up, by the way.  No doubt this will go down on my permanent record at the NSA.)

Easter Dinner was another casualty of coronapalooza in that with the cancellation of planned visits by my brother’s family and my cousin, I didn’t have the critical mass of lamb-lovers necessary to justify my doing up a nummy rack of same.  (My own household have no interest in it whatever, the cretins.)  I couldn’t find a roast anywhere, and as none of us care for ham we simply settled for a nice steak dins.  (I did do popovers and asparagus by way of celebration.)  Correspondingly, we didn’t bother with breaking out the good china and silver or dressing formally, but instead were fairly casual.  At least it was a nice evening to eat outside.

Saturday afternoon found Ol’ Robbo in something of a bind.  (I told you this is a random post.)  One of the upstairs “shutters” blew off Port Swiller Manor during a recent bout of wind.  Since I don’t happen to own a long ladder, I had mentally filed the matter away as something to deal with in the Undefined Future.  But as I lay in the hammock letting my mind drift, Mrs. R suddenly appeared and announced that our neighbor does have one, and that he was out front with it.  Regular readers will know of my deep-seated fear of heights, and I am here to tell you that being two stories up on a shaky ladder did nothing at all to allay it.  But what else could I do except go through with it?  When I got down, somewhat pale and gasping, and thanked my neighbor, he said if the shutter comes off again I am welcome to use the ladder.  “Heck,” I replied, “If it comes off again, I’m just going to sell the house!”

Well, that’s about it for now.  I’ve the feeling that nothing much is going to happen this week and that we will continue to muddle along in the new status quo.  (Wasn’t last week supposed to be Peak Plague, by the bye?  Where are all the bodies? I was told there would be bodies stacked like cordwood.)  So Ol’ Robbo will continue to muddle as well.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to pack it in here for the Triduum, but before I go I just wanted to mark down the fact that last evening we had just about the nicest family dins either Mrs. R or I can remember in a very long time.

It was a lovely, lovely spring day in these parts yesterday and, in keeping with our habit of doing so whenever we are able to, we had said dins out on the porch.

We had just learned that one of my Godparents’ grandsons is going to be a classmate of Youngest Gel this fall.  (As an aside, the kid is extremely good looking and comes from a rock-ribbed conservative background.  Youngest doesn’t really know him except by way of some Instagram connection, but we’ve assured her it’s perfectly fine to reach out at this point and say hey.  It is at times such as these that Ol’ Robbo’s thoughts turn to the merits of arranged marriages.)

Anyhoo, based on this nooz the conversation naturally swung toward college life and what Youngest could expect in the fall.  And it was so very nice to sit back and listen to her elders giving advice, recalling anecdotes of their own experiences, and generally being Big Sisters.  It was perhaps even nicer that Youngest didn’t balk, but instead listened thoughtfully and asked questions.  No snark.  No cat-fighting.  No one-upmanship.  Heck, I didn’t even get the impression that anyone was bored.

I dunno what was in the air, but I wish I could bottle it.  If nothing else comes out of this whole wretched (and increasingly phony) coronapalooza panic, at least we had that.

Whelp, as I say, I’ll be out the next few days trying to salvage Easter as best I can.  I’ll see you all on the other side.


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July 2020