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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Father took a short detour in his homily today to make mention of tomorrow’s big solar eclipse (which will reach about 82% coverage in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor).

“Now there’s no particular issue of Divine Intervention regarding tomorrow’s eclipse,” he said.  “It’s just the moon’s shadow crossing Earth in the ordinary course of celestial dynamics, easily predictable, and without any mystery.

Of course, if the eclipse doesn’t happen…then, perhaps, we’ll need to go back and reassess this.”

I chuckled.

UPDATE:  Watched the yclpse.  Fortunately, Middle Gel, off her own bat, had procured a set of glasses from Lunt Solar Systems to allow the Family Robbo to check out the Moon’s wanderings across the face of Sol without burning out our collective corneae.  I was bemused to note that the glasses – she paid 30 bucks for five sets that couldn’t have cost more than a few pennies each to produce – contained the solemn printed assurance that said glasses “Meet the 2015 Transmission Safety Requirements of ISO 12312-2 for Direct Solar Viewing”.

Who knew Big Brother cared so much?  You see? If you knuckle-dragging cretins would just stand down, relax, and allow the Experts to run your miserable, pathetic lives, why, all would be just ducky, now, wouldn’t it?

Anyhoo, when viewed through said glasses, the sun looked like a glowing, peach-colored pea.  And the moon tracking across it was certainly interesting, as was the semi-shadow effect created in the middle of the afternoon.   But the truth of the matter is that, for shear natural theatricality,  Ol’ Robbo actually appreciated the thundershower we got here on the heals of the thing much more.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is home from his hols up tah Maine.  Normally in this apres-vacatione post, I’d go on about the relaxing time I had and various quirky incidences thereto, but I feel compelled this year to go straight to a more somber note.  You see, my mother died last Saturday, and if the hols weren’t exactly overwhelmed by this, they were certainly affected.  Private burial on Wednesday, Memorial service on Thursday, and of course, the general topic of discussion in between.

Yes, although “only” 81, she contracted Lewy body dementia some time last winter – a condition my brother (the doctor) tells me is 100% fatal and also incurable.  I knew something was wrong earlier this year (and perhaps began bracing myself) when she started repeating herself during our weekly phone conversations and then later seemed increasingly disoriented about various basic facts.  What I didn’t know is that her motor skills were also cutting out and that she was taking tosses.  The last one, two weeks ago, resulted in her landing on her head.  They rushed her to the ER, but she never really regained consciousness.

The good news is that all our family were planning to congregate for the hols anyway, and that we all got up tah Maine in time to see her before she went, even though she was unconscious throughout.  The grandkids all spent time in her room Saturday morning, talking to her and to each other.  My sistah, brothah, and I eventually shooed them and our spouses out, and spent the last hour or two quietly talking to her and each other.  I’m pretty morally certain that she waited to hear all our voices before slipping away.

Requiescat In Pace.

Anyone who has hung around here over the years will remember that she used to comment regularly under the handle of “The Mothe”.  She was the strongest person I’ve ever known, and grounded me in everything I’ve learned about life, humanity, religion, and civilization.

For some reason or other, an anecdote about her keeps popping into my braims, perhaps because it is so illustrative of her character:

Some time in my misspent yoot, early on in my Awakening to the Outer World, I said something to Mom about how unfair “sex discrimination” in employment was.  I don’t remember exactly how I teed it up, but I vividly remember her explosive response:

“The first woman to get her medical degree in this country, Elizabeth Blackwell, did so in 1849.  Since then, no woman who really wants to be a doctor has had any excuse not to, dammit!”

Yet for that, she often used to say that she’d gladly give up her right to vote if it meant no other woman could do so.

I guess you had to be there.

A remarkable woman.  And that’s about all – in the end – I’ve really got to say.

UPDATE:  Thankee very much for your kind words, my friends.  I truly appreciate them.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last fall (I believe), the Family Robbo won a set of primo tickets to a Nationals game from an auction at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method – about seven or eight rows right behind the Nats’ dugout and a parking pass.  Ol’ Robbo was looking mighty forward to going to the game.

Whelp, that game was today.  And it was a sweet, sweet win.

Alas, Ol’ Robbo didn’t wind up going after all.  Because he is head honcho on one side in a trial coming up in a couple weeks with a wicked pre-trial schedule in front of it, he instead found himself spending most of the day moodily pouring over deposition transcripts and other legal falderal.  (And if you don’t hear much from me between now and August, now you know why.)

At least it was a genuinely pleasant day in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor – warm, but not too hot, quite dry, and comfortable enough that I could sit out and do my work on the porch.  Also, Middle Gel (who did go to the game, along with Mrs. R and a couple of family friends),  was sweet enough to give me the Nats tee-shirt she snagged when they were being thrown into the stands.

So I got that going for me….

Anyhoo,  a few things:

♦ One break I took was to go to Mass, of course.  We had a guest priest today, a padre from somewhere else in the Diocese.  He mentioned that he had a brother who is a Brother at Clear Creak Abbey out in the Diocese of Tulsa.  Co-incidentally, ever since I swam the Tiber, I have bought rosaries, books, CDs, and calendars from this abbey, but I don’t recall that I have ever explicitly plugged it here.  For those of you who are interested, consider it plugged now.

♦ Another, somewhat more earthy break was to fool with the Port Swiller Manor clothes-dryer, which after 17 years of service suddenly is producing no heat whatsoever, although it still tumbles and blows air.  My suspicion is that we have been less than diligent about clearing out the overflow from the lint trap and that some accumulation of same has probably shorted out the heating element.  (Mrs. R is going to see if we can get this replaced before we go plunking down dosh on a new dryer.)  Anyhoo, this afternoon found Ol’ Robbo digging around in the space below the lint trap slot with an old coat-hanger (surely there’s a better way to do this?), and dredging up all kinds of things.  In addition to the accumulated lint, I discovered a $5 bill, another $5 in loose change, several hair twisties, a couple lost earrings, innumerable old “Hi, My Name Is…” nametags, and a pair of miniature keys to what I believe was an old locket.  I would not have been the least surprised to find the bones of Piltdown Man in there, too. UPDATE: Mrs. R had a repair guy out today. It was just the thermostat.  He replaced it and cleaned the whole thing out.  MUCH cheaper than plunking for a new one.  Ol’ Robbo is happy.

♦  Regular friends of the decanter will recall that Ol’ Robbo had a duff steering damper replaced on La Wrangler a couple weeks ago in order to alleviate a bad case of the “death wobble”.  Whelp, as I feared, the fix appears to be more of a Band-Aid than anything else.  The wobble is gone, to be sure, but I can still feel the front wheels fighting with each other.  Also, in the past couple days, the right front has begun making an ominous howling noise that is definitely linked to rotation velocity.  I believe an alignment check is in order, but I now fear that the fellah who recommended the damper replacement may not have actually checked the rest of the steering mechanism.  I don’t want a ball-joint going as I swing down the G-Dub some fine morning, thereby flipping me into the Potomac.

♦  In re culchah-related matters, I’ve been on a bit of a John Wayne toot this weekend, watching back-to-back, “Hondo” and “The Comancheros“, two of my favorites.  (I confess that I also have “The High and the Mighty” at home.  It’s pure cheese, but I like to think that Robert Stack was gamely parodying his performance in it years later when he did “Airplane!“.)

Whelp, that’s about all that occurs to me at the moment and is suitable for discussion over the Stilton and walnuts.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

Ol’ Robbo really has nothing planned to mark the occasion this year.  Indeed, as is sometimes the case, I am bacheloring it this week at Port Swiller Manor, as the Gels are scattered about at camp and visits to grandparents and whatnot.  So right now I’m just sitting out on the porch with the cats, the dog, and muh coffee (covfifi?), enjoying the cool of the morning, and trying to muster up the energy to go spread a couple bags of mulch and zap some weeds before it gets too hot.  Depending on whether or when we catch a thunderstorm later, I’ll grill up a bacon-cheeseburger and some corn for my dins and then sit back out on the porch and listen to the fireworks.

Hey, I’m not known as the World’s Most Exciting Man for nothing.

Anyhoo, a few thoughts:

♦  I see the usual crop of “Whither America?” essays out there today bemoaning the polarized state of politicks and the debasement of our so-called culchah, and wondering How Much Longer We Can Go On As A Nation.  My guess? We’ll probably muddle through somehow.  (And I’d have said the same thing even if She Who Must Not Be Named had been elected.)  I still believe that when push comes to shove and people are shaken out of their complacency, there is still enough of the American Character in the majority of the population to see us through.  (Okay, I admit this sounds trite, but it’s either this or a ten-thousand word essay, and I’ve not nearly enough energy for that this morning.)

♦  Good for The Donald for coming to the defense of poor little Charlie Gard and his family.  (Go on over to the linkie to get Ace’s background and take.)  To me, this whole wretched situation illustrates perfectly the monstrosity of single-payer, State-run “health care”.  When Leviathan is lord and master, you are nothing but a slave and your life is nothing but a statistic.  (Oh, and one cheer, I suppose, for Papa Frankie, who finally voiced his support for the Gards as well, although it took him long enough to do so.)

♦  This article on a proposed global nuclear weapons ban and the high art of virtue-signaling made Ol’ Robbo smile nostalgically because it brought back to mind his time at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT in the mid-80’s when, in response to that crazy summbich Reagan threatening to blow up the world, it became very fashionable for various city councils and campus student governments to pass ordinances and resolutions declaring themselves to be “nuclear-free zones”.  (For some reason, Providence, RI stands out in my mind as an example.)

In response, I drew a cartoon for the conservative paper on campus featuring a handy-dandy, do-it-yourself, “personal” nuclear-free zone:  It featured a hippy with a paper bag over his head.

Curiously, there were those who didn’t think this was s’damn funny. (They were the same crowd who were distraught over the campus health center refusing to stock cyanide capsules to be used in case somebody dropped The Big One.)

(A glass of wine with Vodka Boy over at the Puppy-Blender’s place.)

Whelp, better go spread that mulch……

 

Said nobody.  Ever.

(Those of you who have experienced first-hand the joys of I-70 dying a couple hundred yards short of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will know of what Ol’ Robbo types.)

Greetings, my fellow Port Swillers!

As mentioned in the post below, Ol’ Robbo spent the bulk of his Sunday running the two younger gels out to their annual summah camp.  It’s about three hours each way between Port Swiller Manor and the camp’s location in southwestern Pennsylvania, and, as I’ve mentioned over the years, there are many attractions to the drive, historickal, geographical, and geological.

One of the lesser attractions is the gang of idjits and lunatics who seem to enjoy tooling up and down this route.  One sportsman this morning decided that, from a cruising speed of near 80 mph, he was going to come to a near dead stop in the left lane of the Turnpike.  Ol’ Robbo, who was about fifteen cars behind, became interested to see cars suddenly flying off in all directions and laying rubber as they jammed on their brakes.  His own language, as he undertook similar defensive maneuvers, was not of an improving kind.

(I didn’t get to see whether the fellah had Murrland plates, but I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised.  Remember, all Murrland drivers are bat-shite crazy.  Every. Single. One.)

Another lesser attraction is the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel.  I admire it as an engineering achievement, and I love its position as the gateway into the Laurel Highlands, but there’s something about the lighting inside that has a strobe-like effect on Ol’ Robbo’s braims.  All I can do is take a deep breath, focus on the pavement immediately behind the car in front of me, and hope for the best.  One of these days, I’m going to have a seizure going through it.

Anyhoo, the gels are deposited, Mrs. R and I are back home, and all is well.

By the bye: For many, many years, I’ve been referring to the gels’ annual retreat as “Bible-thumper camp”.  I do this because it is, in fact, specifically and aggressively Christian-themed (“God first.  Others second.  I’m third.”), and because it is run by Evangelicals.  So there’s a lot of, well, enthusiasm.  But, really, I’m only teasing, not mocking.  (Obviously, we would not have been sending the gels there for a decade if we thought there was something actually wrong with it.)  All of us Christians are under attack by the Shadow these days, and while I might kid one of the Out Companies* about its funny ways, I mean no disrespect to its devotion to the Cause.

 

* Spot the gratuitous Tolkien reference

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has seen an ad on teevee a couple times this week for a “senior” internet dating site. It features a woman round about my own age who says something like, “I was married over twenty years, the kids are all grown up, and I just wanted to get ‘out there’ again”

There’s nothing in the copy to suggest this person is a widow, or anything like that. The tone seems to be simply that she was tired of her old life and decided to chuck it.

Am I wrong to be completely appalled by this?

Rod Dreher has a new book out arguing that the Culture Wars have, in fact, been lost, and that we traditionalists no longer have much choice other than to retreat to a new Benedictine-ism and go hide in the hills. I sometimes think he’s just about right.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I won’t bother explaining the dearth of posts here again- just scroll down and you’ll see the pattern. Second verse? Same as the first! And it looks as if things will stay this way at least until August. Heigh, ho.

So anyway:

– First of all, Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

– Ol’ Robbo practices Friday abstinence as a general rule, but since we’re still in the Octave of Easter, today We. Have. The MEATS!

– Got to enjoy my first thunder shower of the year last evening. More coming tonight and over the weekend, which means the lawn will have assumed a savannah-like appearance by the time I get to it next weekend. I shrug.

– Had several young persons address me as “Sir” this past week. Are they all blind? Or is the grey on the side of my head getting that much more noticeable?

– Eldest Gel finishes her first year of college next week. I find this to be absolutely incredible. Where on earth does the time go? (She’s done quite well, too. AND she’s got my sister’s old dorm room for next year. How weird is that?)

– On top of that, we start the whole college boogaloo for Middle Gel this spring, and the Youngest will be getting her learner’s permit.

– Yikes, indeed.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No, I’m not dead. Just busy with meat-space life.

Happy Palm Sunday, by the bye! Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been very diligent in his Lenten observances this year (which see explanation above), so I am going to try and make up for it by an especially intensive Holy Week. I’ll see those two or three of you who still come together here on the other side of Easter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope that you all are adjusting to your seasonal fasts. Ol’ Robbo is almost there himself, although the giving up of the grape is always something of a wrench. This year I have found real solice in repeating to myself “Offer it up!”

Somewhat relatedly, the signs have all pointed me to really concentrate my readings and meditations this year on the subject of love, particularly love as selflessness. I’ve long known that if one is asking the question “What’s in it for me?”, one is doing it wrong, but some recent epiphanies and observations have convinced me to try and probe much deeper into the matter.

After all, all you need is love.

(“John Lennon. Smart man! Shot in the back. Very sad.”)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is hugely enjoying his last evening before Lent with a large glass of wine and watching his beloved Nats in a spring training game against the Astros.

I will be giving up the grape for Lent, but not baseball.

Pity tonight’s broadcast is a rerun of this afternoon and I already know how it ends, but ST is more about studying the talent, right? Just damned good to be back. (I used to get the same feeling in spring training when I coached the Gels in softball.)

BTW, not to invoke the wrath of the Baseball Gods, but Ol’ Robbo’s got a goooooood feeling about his beloved Nats this year.

You read it here first.

GO, NATS!!!!

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