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Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Mother’s Day!

Well, despite some vague threats this week, no screaming pro-abort wokesters at Mass today. (Screaming infants? Well, that’s something else. Like the poor, they will always be with us.)

A goodly number of heads on swivels, however. I’d bet a substantial bit of coin that I wasn’t the only one in the Box yesterday fessing up to a vivid fantasy of gut-punching anybody who tried to desecrate the proceedings in any way. For their own sake, they prolly were better off not trying it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Quasimodo (or “Low”) Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo likes the conclusion to the Octave of Easter very much. After Lent, Holy Week, and the big Easter triumph itself, I always feel a sense of relaxing and taking a deep breath, of, as it were, not being “on” anymore for a while, if that makes any kind of sense.

I also like it because all the Christmas and Easter people have gone away, and taken with them their confusion, distraction, and (sometimes) bad manners. (On Maundy Thursday, the Mass of which our padre serves up in a sort of English/Latin hybrid, a woman sitting behind me said in a loud stage-whisper “At least we get to pass the Peace in English!”) And yes, I know this is bad of me.

Finally, I always enjoy the Gospel reading for the day, in which the risen Christ confronts the doubtful and insistent Thomas. It may just be Ol’ Robbo’s read on things, but I am pretty certain Jesus is doing a certain amount of gentle teasing of the gob-smacked Apostle here. I certainly hope I’m not wrong about this, because I’ve long seen it as an indication of His sense of humor, and I’d hate to think God doesn’t laugh from time to time. (And I love Caravaggio’s treatment of it, too.)

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

I hope all friends of the decanter will join me this festive day in donning your candy-ass monkey suits, dialing “Quando, Quando, Quando” up to eleven on your 8-tracks, and remembering not to “go changing”.

Ah, me.

Ol’ Robbo floats this joke every year on this day, and even though it invariably lays an egg, I still enjoy it myself.

In part, I love to pay tribute to a truly great movie that is immensely funny, eminently quotable (which see), has a fantastic soundtrack (which resurrected several careers and introduced a whole new generation to R&B), and has, in its themes of charity and redemption, a surprisingly strong Catholic underpinning. (“Boys, you got to learn not to talk to nuns like that.”) (Which see.)

In other part, I also love to spit on the modern “Environmental Movement”. Make no mistake: Ol’ Robbo believes in responsible stewardship as much as anybody else. But what goes on now in the name of “Green” is a cheat and a swindle and (shall I say it?) a blasphemy, a program based on politicks, not science, and designed for no other reason than to empower and enrich those in on it, and to shackle and enslave us peons who aren’t. (That this is also Lenin’s birthday is, to me, no accident. That one of the co-founders of “Earth Day” murdered his girlfriend and composted her body in his apartment closet is, shall we say, par for the course. Green on the outside, red on the inside. And you know who else was a keen environmentalist (and a strict vegetarian, and an ardent dog-lover?)) But don’t you dare question anything: the science, the costs, the liberties surrendered, etc. You just take that filthy, unreliable, dangerous public transportation back to your browned-out, unheated, stack-a-prole hovel and appreciate your soy rations while Your Betters jet off to Davos to discuss Deep Things before disbursing to their seaside mansions to wine and dine their cronies dropping by in fleets of SUVs. PAH!! As the Puppy-Blender likes to say, when the people who keep telling me there’s a crisis start acting like there’s a crisis, then maybe I’ll start to listen. In the meantime, they can sit the fook down and shut the fook up.

Ah. That felt good.

As regular friends of the decanter will know, Middle Gel is spooling up to go into a career in environmental management, finishing up her undergrad degree on it in a couple weeks and heading off to grad school in the fall for same. Ol’ Robbo has ranted and raved on the above themes to her for years and years and (I hope) instilled in her the necessary sense of balance and skepticism to allow her to do some real good while avoiding both the Scylla of rainbows and unicorn-farts idealism and the Charybdis of graft and corruption-fueled totalitarianism. I will say that if anybody can pull off such a delicate balance, she can. (If not, I hope she goes with the graft and corruption. That way, when I’m reduced to beggary, at least I’ll have a seaside mansion where I can go stay.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is taking the day off this Easter Monday in order to give himself a much-needed rest. (Actually, this isn’t even quite true: My eyes opened up at 6 ack emma as usual this morning and I was putting away the good china and silver and on my second load of laundry before I even thought about it. The work never really ends, and also I can’t relax when I know there’s still a large mess to clean up.)

I won’t say anything about Easter itself just yet except to make two points:

First, I think I did my rather pathetic self a world of good over Lend and Holy Week this year, and I now feel an urgent need to secure and make permanent those gains. Here’s hoping I can do so.

Second, a glass of wine (!) with long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory, whose suggestion that I make Lobster Newburg for those members of my family too heathenish to appreciate my rack of lamb proved a surprising success, even among the lamb-eaters. (Good think I made as much as I did.) I actually mixed lobster and shrimp, and served it up in little pastry “bowls” made from sheet dough. And if you’ve ever wondered to yourself, “Self, is it possible to jury-rig a steamer using an ordinary pot and a cut-up aluminum baking pan?” I can now say yes, yes it is. (The lamb, by the bye, prolly could have stood another five minutes in the oven, but it was nommed appreciatively by most of the table nonetheless.)

Anyhoo…..

Our next-door neighbors had their house painted over the weekend. Like Port Swiller Manor, theirs is a two-story brick colonial with metal siding round the back of the second story. All the brick part is now white. Mrs. R and I have had occasion to discuss painting the Manor now and again over the years. The conversation has usually gone something like this:

Mrs. R: “I think I might like to paint the house.”

Self (pounding on the table): “Whisht, woman! I’ll nae hae any bricks on mah hoos but wha color Goad made ’em! Away with ye!”

Let’s just say now that Ol’ Robbo doubts we’ll be having this conversation again. Heh. (No disrespect meant, of course, to those who like painted brick. I just don’t. And this example has now proved to Mrs. R that it would be a bad idea here.)

And speaking of which, guess what’s invaded the house? Yes, you are correct: Squirrels! They’ve got into the attic through a hole where the fascia board has rotted under one corner of the roof. Yesterday one of the young’uns and I got into a staring contest when he poked his head out. Worse, one of the adults came down through the wall and has now got himself stuck in the downstairs ceiling. There’s a small gap in the siding where the porch roof-beam meets the wall and he’s started trying to dig his way through that. I’ve stood on a stepstool and jabbed at him a couple times with a long-handled toasting fork but he’s far too fast for me.

When I told Mrs. R about the infestation, she asked what I was going to do. “Oh, I dunno,” I said, “Poison ’em, I guess, if they don’t go away themselves.” That, as they say, tore it. Keep in mind, this is the same Mrs. R who will literally stand on a chair eeking in approved 50’s sit-com fashion at the sight of a mouse, and who won’t even go out on the screened porch when the bats are twittering about in the back yard. But her reaction? “Oh, how could you? The one in the ceiling is stuck and afraid and just wants to go home! You brute!” She’ll be crying out the other side of her face if the little bastard tree-rat does manage to punch a hole in the wall.

Wimminz.

Speaking of houses, Ol’ Robbo was delighted when it looked as if a pair of bluebirds was taking up residence in the box he put out this spring, Mr. B aggressively defending the thing against the admittedly heavy traffic of other birds in the vicinity. But, alas, I guess they decided they just didn’t much care for the neighborhood after all, as they seem to have cleared off and their claim has now been jumped by a pair of house sparrows. I’m glad the box is being used, of course, but sparrows? Meh.

On the nesting front, I’d also just like to point out that if Mrs. Goldfinch doesn’t like the opening and closing of the garage door and the comings and goings of Robbo and family, she shouldn’t have built her nest in the ivy directly above said door in the first place. It’s not as if she hadn’t ample warning.

Finally on the bird front, Ol’ Robbo had an opportunity to chat for a few moments yesterday after church with long-time friend of the decanter NOVA Curmudgeon, who reported spotting the first hummingbird of the year at his feeder this weekend. Huzzay, huzzah! Now that I know they’re definitely in the area, I await the first incoming to my own feeder all the more eagerly.

Well, that’ll do for now. As I say, time for a break. After I switch out that next load of laundry, of course…….

Post-Break UPDATE: Well, having written about Mr. Squirrel in the ceiling, it’s now been better than 24 hours since I last heard him skittering around. Maybe I DID get him with the fork! Or perhaps he found his way out after all. Either way, the best problems are the ones that go away by themselves.

Ol’ Robbo spent yesterday afternoon rereading Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, which I hadn’t picked up in quite a while and which was therefore almost new to me. With all the masks being pulled off the faces of the global oligarchs these days, what GKC had to say about the true nature, identity, and goals of anarchists and nihilists 100+ years ago now has turned out to be eye-openingly prescient.

(The Resurrection, Piero Della Francesca c. 1463)

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Good news: He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Ol’ Robbo wishes to extend to all friends of the decanter a most blessed and happy Easter.

As for myself, it’s been an interesting, edifying, and challenging build-up over the past forty-plus days, and a consequent better (I hope?) appreciation and understanding and, to be honest, terror of what I spent the three-plus hours of this evening’s Vigil Mass muddling over.

I’ve got a whole week of the Octave of Easter to suss out some of these reflections, and if you all don’t behave yourselves here, I just might. (If you are good, I also have much to say about more secular matters, so stay tuned.)

Not just now, however, as it’s well past midnight, I’m deep into a glass of celebratory cognac, and at the moment I’m still basking in the glow.

As I say, He is risen! Hallelujah! Hallelujah, indeed!!

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers!

This year’s Family Robbo tax return package showed up on the Port Swillor Manor doorstep last evening for signing, processing, and check-cutting.

The irony of Caesar’s goons coming around to collect his denarii during Holy Week this year has not been lost on Ol’ Robbo, and has provided me an interesting point of meditation vis a vis what gets rendered to him and what gets rendered to God and, perhaps more importantly, why.

On the one hand, it’s quite comforting, when reading of the latest madness of the world around one, to know that in the end it really doesn’t make that much difference when compared to Eternity.

On the other, I still live here, so I will ask a question I may have asked already: It’s been a long time now since Uncle paid any attention to the notion that you only buy what you can pay for and that there should at least be some rational relationship between federal outlays and federal revenues. He simply prints the stuff now. (Inflation? Never heard of it!) That being the case, why am I still paying any income tax at all?

The world wonders.

Okay, Ol’ Robbo is really signing off for now. Bless you all and have a very Happy Easter, and I’ll see you on the other side.

** I don’t care what the young whipper-snappers say, they’re still relevant. And Revolver is still my favorite album.

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Well, here we are at Palm Sunday, and a very curious thing happened at Mass today. While my church is almost impeccable in its musickal selections, today’s setting of the Mass was really rayther awful. It was a Missa Syllabica by one Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). It was clanky and dissonant, and also had a real Phillip Glass neener-neener-neener minimalist vibe to it. Very distracting and unsettling.

I got wondering later on if Father was maybe being subtly sneaky about this. Palm Sunday itself is always unsettling when you stop to consider that the mob which cheered Christ into Jerusalem with boughs and cloaks strewn on the ground was the same mob howling for his blood five days later. Alas, I think a lot of people – especially the Christmas & Easter crowd – get distracted fiddling with their fronds and don’t pay that much attention to the second part. (I kid you not, I was at a dinner-party Friday evening where some of the other guests were comparing worship times and lengths with an eye to “getting it over with” so as not to ruin the rest of their Sunday.) Anyway, as to the awful musick, maybe that was the idea, maybe not. I still disliked it intensely. (And no, Ol’ Robbo is not being a crank or a snob about modern musick. There’s a fellah named Richard Rice, only a year or two older than me, who puts out very respectful Mass settings and other liturgical musick. If he can do it, so can Arvo.)

At any rate, Holy Week is upon us. As I mentioned previously, I doubt if I’ll post again until after Easter. This isn’t a fast in itself, but I am going to be fasting and abstaining every day this week (Father recommended finishing Lent at a sprint, and I’m taking up his challenge), I plan to do the full Triduum worship schedule, I still have to make a living, and I doubt I’ll have any energy left with which to think up content. I’ll still hang around, however.)

Oh, but before I go, let me just follow up on two items from yesterday and the day before.

First (from Friday), no, Ol’ Robbo is not getting to watch the final round of the Masters today. Mrs. R may not be here, but her honey-do list still is. (I just finished tacking up some ivy, a job which involved crawling out Youngest Gel’s window onto the roof of the garage. Gah.)

Second (from yesterday), I finally did, in fact, spot the bird with the nest in the ivy over our garage door. My initial guesses were all wrong: It’s a goldfinch. Neat!

See you on the other side!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There’s a van that Ol’ Robbo sees in his church parking lot now and again, a great big thing the opposite of a mini-van (a maxi-van?) that could easily do service as an airport shuttle.

The back of this beast is covered by bumper-stickers of various sorts, but the one that always grabs my attention and makes me laugh out loud reads “HONK If A Kid Falls Out”.

The delightful thing is that I see it, laugh, and then forget about it entirely, so that the next time I see it I get a completely fresh laugh out of it.

It was there today. I laughed yet again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Even though it’s somewhat off the beaten path for Ol’ Robbo as far as religious art goes, I’ve long loved this rendition of Mary’s encounter with the Archangel Gabriel by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898), in part due to its vibrant composition, but also because he seems to have been thinking along the same lines as C.S. Lewis regarding the physical manifestation of angels (see Lewis’s treatment of the Oyéresu in his Space Trilogy, for example). Almost the first thing an angel ever says to a human in their scriptural encounters is “Be not afraid”. According to Lewis, and seemingly Tanner, what scares the daylights out of us is that angels inhabit such a shatteringly different plane of existence that our poor, limited minds are simply overwhelmed by contact with them. What appears as a shimmering pillar of light to our eyes carries an infinity of weight behind it.

As for this particular encounter, I’m simply reminded again that the biggest theological jump I had to make when coming into Holy Mother Church was adjusting to Mary’s omnipresence. It wasn’t so much that she was denied in any way under my prior schooling but that she was practically non-existent: a single reference in the Creed, a rare but nonsensical sermon about how she was a proto-feminist or represented grrrrrl power, but beyond that? Crickets. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had taken up the Rosary in earnest for Lent. I feel that I’m finally, finally starting to really Get It.

I’m reminded again, also, that in The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien chose March 25 as the date of the destruction of the Ring of Power and the downfall of Sauron. He, of course, insisted that LOTR was not allegory and I believe him, but nonetheless I also believe this was a little grace note that he snuck in regardless: Mary’s “Yes”, after all, meant Satan’s doom, too.

UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo is reminded by a well-informed FacePlant source that today is also Maryland Day, commemorating the first landing of British (Catholic) colonists there on this date in 1634.

Ol’ Robbo prolly should pay more attention to Murrland colonial history and get himself over to see some of the historickal sites, but the fact of the matter is that my dealings with the current inhabitants has cemented what is probably an indelible bias against the place in my mind, as encapsulated in a joke that even the Youngest Gel knows:

In order to pass the Maryland driver’s license exam, you have to cross over the river into Virginny and cause an accident.

It’s funny because it’s true. Good luck and God bless.

Greetings, my fellow coffee-chuggers and Happy Hump Day.

Yes, the Lenten grind goes on and is becoming more and more of a grind. Fortunate, Friday, March 25, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and therefore qualifies for what’s known round here as “Bacon Friday”.

Endeavor to persevere.

So what’s going on? Lessee….

Ol’ Robbo is happy to report that Middle Gel will not be taking that summah job at Nationals Park I mentioned the other week, because she’s been offered the one she really wanted with the Virginny Parks Department, where she’ll spend six weeks overseeing yoot conservationists cleaning and refurbishing various state park facilities at sites TBD. It’s the sort of thing out of which she wants to make a career and why she’s headed off for her master’s this fall. I tease her about becoming a Green Nazi but she insists she’s much more interested in practical issues like cleaning up the Chesapeake than she is in a Brave New World powered by rainbows and unicorn farts. We shall see.

Speaking of the Nats, Ol’ Robbo, in his (guarded and provisional) return to MLB was looking over their spring-training roster and likely position players. I haven’t the faintest idea who most of these guys are anymore, other than a handful of vets and one or two names I recognize from the minors. I must admit, I never saw the logic of putting together a World Series-winning team in 2019 and then immediately gutting it, but then again I don’t own a ball club. On the other hand, if you are going to spend time in the cellar “rebuilding”, 2020 and 2021 certainly were likely years to do so. Is it possible the Lerners knew what was coming? (Okay, even Ol’ Robbo doesn’t possess enough tinfoil to cover that theory!)

Speaking of entertainment, for some reason Eldest has had a long-standing grudge over the fact that Ol’ Robbo has never seen “The Lion King”. “I’ve studied Hamlet,” I say, “Bill had a way with words and action, ya know? Why should I watch a cartoon version with a singing warthog?” Finally, in a moment of weakness, I gave in recently. (She pulled the “I’m-leaving-home-soon-and-then-you’ll-be-sorry!” card.) But I insisted that in exchange she has to watch a Duke Wayne picture with me. She immediately suggested “Liberty Valance” but I know she’s seen that one already. I’ve pretty much got it narrowed down to either “Hondo” or “The Cowboys” now because of their heavy paternal themes.

Speaking of which, thank Heaven I have no small kids at the moment. The monsters aren’t even pretending anymore. That is all.

On the “They’ll Do It Every Time” front, it’s been a while since we’ve had any major appliance trouble, so the oven has decided to mix things up a bit by causing its own “off” button to break. Jab at it all you want and nothing happens now. Indeed, the only way to turn the damn thing off is to go down in the basement and throw the circuit-breaker for 10 seconds or so. (That was a trick an electrician taught us some years ago to combat the entire panel freezing up when the stove-top gas burners flare in a particular way on being lit. He didn’t even charge us for the advice. We liked that guy.) We’ll see how long I can tolerate this before biting the bullet and calling somebody to fix it.

And on that front, Ol’ Robbo has been noticing a quiet drip sounding in the wall nowhere near any pipes. I suppose this means I’m going to have to take a flashlight and go look at the roof in the attic. I really don’t want to see what I fully expect to see. (Damned squirrels!)

Finally, in the Weirdo Dreams Dept., I swear that last night in the midst of other highly strange sights and sounds I became aware of a string band performing a Baroque setting of Olivia Newton-John’s “Please, Mister, Please”. But then a trumpet broke in doing a jazz riff and the whole thing ground to a halt. (Heck, I don’t know!)

Time for more kawfee.

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