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ba475a518dc890f443adffe0a9606972Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This afternoon came nooz that the campaign to save Sweet Briar College has achieved final victory with flying colors (pink and green, of course):

Supporters of Sweet Briar College will make their third and final payment — the result of a settlement deal to keep the private school open — on Wednesday, with a little extra thrown in for good measure.

When the then-president of the women’s college announced in March that the school would shut down forever this summer because of financial problems, shocked alumnae and others quickly began a fight to stop the closure. Saving Sweet Briar raised millions in pledged donations, and this summer a judge approved a settlement to keep the Virginia college operating.

According to the terms of the deal, a final $3.5 million payment, the last of $12 million agreed upon, was due Wednesday. But with the school year just beginning, with a new president and board in place and students in classrooms, the group was able to turn pledges into real cash.

The final tally of donations will not be known until Wednesday, but a spokesman for the group said it has already exceeded $3.5 million.

“We made the first two payments ahead of schedule and will exceed the amount due for the third and final payment,” said Mary Pope Hutson, Chair of the Major Donor Task Force for Saving Sweet Briar, Inc, in a statement. “The fight to take back Sweet Briar College will be complete at Noon tomorrow.”

She called on Sweet Briar supporters to celebrate Wednesday. “At 12 Noon EST, ring a bell if you have one, and let’s show the world our colors—a sea of pink and green! And please share our story of tenacity and determination.”

I am still in awe at the Vixen Power (including that exerted by Mrs. Robbo, a dedicated alumna) which caused all this to happen and confess that when the Resistance first formed immediately after nooz of the proposed closure broke, I really thought it was a long-shot at best.

Well done, indeed.

Eldest Gel will be applying early decision this fall.  Her grades are okay and she did pretty well on the ACTs.  Plus she is a legacy a couple times over and it’s definitely going to be a seller’s market, what with the school’s immediate goal of dramatically boosting its student body.  In her interviews, they’ve basically told her that unless she does something spectacularly awful this first quarter of her senior year, she’s in.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As regular friends of the decanter may recall, ol’ Robbo has sometimes mentioned here that teh Eldest Gel is of the opinion that Freddy Mercury is teh greatest musickal talent ever to have lived. No, I really don’t know why, but I won’t argue about that here.

Instead, I will post a crossing of teh streams that very recently has come to my attention: Teh Shat and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Enjoy!

Teh Gel might find this blasphemous.  Myself, I think it’s wunnerful.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat becalmed, creatively-speaking, no doubt due to dog days of summah fatigue.  It happens.  So here are just a few things:

♦   Pulling into my garage at work this morning, I overheard one of the guards opining to another that “we ought to have free health care and college here like they do over in Europe.” I wanted to leap out, grab the man by the neck and shake him violently.   The pure ignorance of this sentiment becomes more and more critically important the closer the progressivistas push us to Euro-socialism.  Let me repeat then (although I know all of you know this already) a fundamental fact of reality:  Where goods and services are provided, there is no such thing as “free”.  Ever. Period.  Somebody has got to pay for it, otherwise it won’t be produced.  Argh!

UPDATE: And that somebody in the world of rainbows and unicorns, of course, is teh gub’mint.  Allow me to quote Peej O’Rourke’s description from “All The Trouble In The World” of Milton and Rose Friedman’s identification of teh four ways money is spent:

1.  You spend your own money on yourself.  You’re motivated to get the thin you want at the best price.  This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2.  You spend your money on other people.  You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse.  This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3.  You spend other people’s money on yourself.  You get what you want but price no longer matters.  The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4.  You spend other people’s money on other people.  And in this case, who gives a shite?

Most gub’mint spending falls in category four.

How does one convey this to the Free Shite Army?  No idea – send ’em to Venezuela for a while, I guess.

♦   I continue to enjoy the phenomenon of Teh Donald, but I am amazed at some of the reactions his advent has caused on the Right among people I never would have thought would shill for the Establishment.  I am particularly puzzled by those who scold that we shouldn’t be “duped” by his hucksterism.   Well, I dunno about anyone else, but this certainly isn’t the case with me.  I know perfectly well exactly how awful he is.  The only reason I am even considering voting for him is nicely summed up in a bumper sticker proposal I read somewhere (slightly sanitized here because family blog): “Trump ’16:  Because Screw You, GOP! That’s Why!”

UPDATE:  Again, I am no “Trumpkin” as his supporters are sneeringly called by some.  I’m not like that woman at the Mobile rally photographed looking like she was meeting Elvis-come-back-to-life.  In fact, my order of preference is probably Jindal, Cruz, Walker.  However, Jindal doesn’t have the national mojo and Walker has been disappointingly quiet.  OTOH, I think Cruz and Trump have some kind of understanding, which could prove very interesting, indeed.  But this is the first election I can see myself voting specifically against something, and that is the corporatist, amnesty-pushing, get-along-go-along RINO squishfest known as the Republican Party.  I’ll simply sit on my hands and watch it all burn before being sold out by them again.

♦   Middle Gel is off with some of her friends to see a Mystics basketball game this evening.  Frankly, I had forgotten they even exist.  How much money does the WNBA actually pull in?  (Oh, and they’re all (the Gel and her friends, not the Mystics) coming back to Port Swiller Manor for a sleepover afterwards.  Groan….) UPDATE: The gels sat courtside and had a good time.  MG tells me the crowd wasn’t all that big, which doesn’t surprise me because the whole WNBA thing has always had a sort of Title IX flavor to it.  I wisely slept in the basement, as Daisy kept barking all night at the noise the gels were making in MG’s room.

♦   Meanwhile, my beloved Nats seemed to be playing with more verve and passion this week, having briefly got back up to full strength, but a new round of injuries is giving me moar ulcers.  The Mets have got to choke sooner or later, haven’t they? Haven’t they?  UPDATE: Whelp, the Mets did lose last night, but so did we.  This is what happens when you load the bases with nobody out and can’t capitalize.

♦   The nice weather round here this week has allowed ol’ Robbo to go back to his lunchtime walkies.  I like to do a loop around the Mall that adds up to about three miles and change, and stick with it at any temperature up to about the mid 80’s.  (I take a particular perverse delight in making my circuit in cold, wet, nasty weather, but I think that’s just my Inner Scot coming through.)  Today I was watching a number of birds feeding out on the grass as I marched by when I suddenly remembered a character out of a book (“Bored of the Rings” possibly?) who amused himself by arranging breadcrumbs in order to get flocks of pigeons to spell out rude words.  I find it makes folks a bit nervous if you’re walking along and suddenly start snickering to yourself.

♦  Finally, speaking of weather, it would be nice if TS Erika (or whatever it is) came on up the East Coast because we could use some of that sweet, sweet rain.  We got a fair amount over the first half of the summah, but it has been pretty dry since mid-July.  I put this down to the fact that we finally got a landscaper to put in some extra drains and retainer walls to deal with the flooding problem we’ve had for years here.  (Port Swiller Manor sits on a hillside and all the runoff was coming straight down the driveway and ponding against the garage and front of the house.  Flooded the basement out a couple years ago.)  Rain stopped almost the exact day they started work.  As an old comic strip I used to love put it, “They’ll do it every time.”  One of the catch-phrases from the strip, “The Urge to Kill”, is still in the family lexicon.  UPDATE: Well, so much for that.

Since I’m still in the fiddling-around stage with my new iPhone, here’s a snap of some of the new anti-flood measures:

Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Although ol’ Robbo, having taken care of this past week’s necessary Saturday morning yard work ’round Port Swiller Manor quickly and efficiently, looked forward to a very delightfully (and unusually) cool,  late-August afternoon in the hammock with a glass full of ice and a Flashman story, instead I found myself dragooned by teh Eldest Gel into going bowling with her.

Apparently, I don’t bond with said EG enough, DAD! And I need to take advantages of these invitations, DAD! Before she goes off to college next year, DAD! Because if I refuse she will come away with no other thoughts about me except my coldness and how to deep-six me in a retirement home for the minimal cost to herself, DAD!

To which my reply has always been, in so many words, “Shut up.”

Nonetheless, I went.

Pricking my memory very hard, I cannot recall than I have bowled since high school.  Back then, not only did I go down to the lanes with my friends on Saturday afternoons fairly regularly, I actually once took a semester course in the game in order to avoid the Lord of the Flies locker room of my school’s gym.  As I recall, at my peak I was bowling somewhere in the 200 range.

The Gel didn’t know any of this history.  Thus, when I stepped up to my very first frame and bowled a perfect strike, she was, shall we say, perturbed.

Heh.  Almost made the whole thing worth it.

Of course, although I got a subsequent smattering of strikes and spares,  I couldn’t keep it up.  My hands have since become arthritic.  I wrenched something in my rights forearm kaiaking on vacation a couple weeks ago.  Because I don’t dance, my pelvic muscles aren’t used to the stretches and strains of the proper bowling delivery.  And don’t ask about my rowing-blown knees.  By the third game, I was well over my pitch-count limit and was tossing nothing but junk.  And for the last couple days, I’ve been hobbling.

Nonetheless, I can report that I beat teh Gel, two games out of three, despite the fact that she was using the gutter rails.  Of course, some of this might have had to do with the fact that her own delivery is something closer to a baseball submarine pitch than to an orthodox bowl.  So there’s that.

I will say also that bowling alleys ain’t what they were back in my day, at least some of them.  This one was one of those jazzed up kinds with lots of black-light, laser lighting, thumping “music”, automatic scoring, and big screen teevees featuring ESPN and teh kiddy channelz.  As the Gel warned, watching SpongeBob and listening to Katy Perry at the same time is a most, um, disturbing thing.

No, as I sat through all the noise, I couldn’t help thinking of teh Good Old Days:

Heh.  Even now I still use “Buh-dee” on a regular basis.

Teh Younger Gels were away this week, visiting their cousins up in Bah-ston.  Upon their return, they heard all about what I was up to with EG.  Guess what they want to do next weekend.

Not sure I’ll be healed in time for it.

 

 

 

"Semper vigilo"

“Semper vigilo”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has discovered that the more comfortable Daisy the Port Swiller Dog has grown with her surroundings, the more possessive of them she also has become, to the extent that she starts barking her fool head off every time she imagines she hears or sees something violating the Port Swiller Manor perimeter.  I expect the neighbors are all heartily sick of it by now.  Certainly it gets on our nerves at times.

Back in the days of my misspent yoot, we had a Scottie who used to do the same thing, much to our annoyance.  When you told him to shut up, he’d offer to bite you.  If you moved in on him threateningly, more often than not he did bite you.  Indeed, one of my books of Haydn piano sonatas still bears his teeth marks from when I tried to swat him with it for making so much noise while I was trying to practice.

Daisy is a bit different.  When you tell her to shut up, she simply feigns incomprehension.  (Oh, there’s feigning going on there, alright.  No doubt about it.)  If you move on her, she collapses into an invertebrate jelly and makes you feel like a cad.

Just like Jonah Goldberg’s Cosmo the Wonderdog had his Jacobin squirrels to deal with, Daisy is obsessed with a Progressivist groundhog who has a burrow in the raspberry bushes in front of the garden.   She spend hours on the porch surveying the back yard and hoping to spot him in his comings and goings, again going into hysterics whenever she spots him.  And every time we let her out into the yard for a potty break, she makes a bee-line for the burrow in order to check it out.  She then goes to the spot in the fence where said groundhog is accustomed to getting through.  (I did not realize before that groundhogs possess the same superpower as cats, in that they can make themselves two-dimensional for purposes of slipping through cracks.  Fortunately, dogs do not possess this power.)

Amidst all the hubbub, I simply try to remind myself that dogs are gonna dog.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found himself able to skip mowing the Port Swiller Manor lawn today owing to the recent bout of dry weather.

b-flies2With the unexpected extra time on my hands, I not only got through some entries on Mrs. R’s honey-do list, but I also had some time to play around with my new iPhone out in the butterfly garden and try some pics of its denizens.

Most of the 25 to 30 or so butterflies that can be found there at any given time are Papilio glaucus, otherwise known as the eastern tiger swallowtail.  I know they’re common as dammit, but I think they’re quite handsome things nonetheless and love to sit out watching them fool about.  The ones with blue on their tails are the females.

b-flies(Incidentally, a little observation quickly establishes that butterflies do not flit around aimlessly – they are quite capable of extremely sophisticated aerobatics when they want.)

We used to get some monarchs now and again, which seemed mostly attracted to the butterfly weed that I used to grow.  I haven’t seen any this year, although this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t around.

There are also a few other species that I haven’t identified, plus several kinds of moths including a small, white one and also this thing: moth

Plus, of course, all the honeybees, bumblebees, various other winged insects and hummingbirds.

It gets rayther crowded in there sometimes.

When I started out with the Port Swiller Manor garden fifteen years ago, I had highly ambitious plans for something carefully and cleverly laid out.  It was going to have all kinds of subtle color combinations and a steady flow of blooms from earliest spring right through till the frost.

Well…..the demands of time, energy, money, predation by various varmints and critters, all these factors gradually persuaded me that such vaulting ambition really wasn’t going to work out.  So I fell back on what I have now – a Dryad mishmash of Buddleia running rough-shod, some cupflower, a few iris and foxgloves in the shade.  It generally reaches its peak in late July, after which the morning-glory starts taking over.  Aside from cutting it all back in late winter and doing some weeding early in the growing season, I pretty much leave it to itself.  And as I say, it’s full of butterflies and whatnot all summah.

Some day, perhaps, I’ll plot out a few sections to reintroduce some other varieties: butterfly weed, milkweed, coneflower, sunflower and the like.

However, things are good enough for me for now.

UPDATE:  I believe that last chap is a silver-spotted skipper and is actually another butterfly, not a moth.  The big head threw me.

 

 

 

 

 

Four women and one man enter.  Whoever leaves? It ain’t the man.

UPDATE:  Sorry to be cryptic.  Ol’ Robbo is just finding cat fights rayther hard to deal with.  If they were teenaged boys, I could simply whap them across the back of the head or kick them in the pants and tell them to knock it off.  Girls, though?  Better if I just feign deafness and walk quietly to the nearest exit.

Daisy At Her Post

Daisy At Her Post

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself overwhelmed by the number of inquiries from friends of the decanter about the status of Daisy, the Port Swiller Manor canem of which all villains should cave.

Whelp, I’ll tell you this:  We’ve had the old girl for about three months now.  She’s a sweetie.  She’s loyal and protective.  Ut-bay, e-shay’s ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you get my drift.  At least, I think she isn’t.

For one thing, teh dog is obsessed with the Jacobin Groundhog Menace.  Said groundhogs had a burrow in front of teh garden gate when Daisy arrived on the scene and we had a bit of a kerfluffle blocking off exit points around the perimeter fence to keep her from chasing them out of the yard.  Eventually this was done and I’m sure the groundhogs have long since shifted their base of operations, but Daisy is still convinced they haven’t abandoned their original post.  Every time we let her out, she makes a bee-line for the spot, and when she’s out on the porch she spend all her time watching it (which see).  Indeed, recently she’s taken to stalking the hole and to spending considerable time parked in front of it…..just in case.

Daft animal.

Another thing is her attitude to doors.  If a door (specifically, the one out on to the porch) is open by so much as a crack, teh kittehs will pull or push on it in order to get through.  Indeed, if it’s closed, they’ll hurl themselves against it until somebody comes along to let them through.  Not so, Daisy.  Unless the door is open sufficiently wide to let her pass through completely unhindered, she’ll sit and stare at it in consternation.

Daft, daft animal.

The other thing is her evident fondness for a tennis ball with a squeaker in it (again, which see).  We’ve taken to calling said ball her “binky” and she hates, hates to be parted from it.

As I say, I think she’s not that bright, but I’m not completely convinced.  When confronted with Alpha-male authori-tah, teh dog has a passive-passive-aggressive approach that would cause Alexander to start pulling his hair out in frustration.  Trying to discipline her is equivalent to trying to discipline Jello, and about as effective.  This may just be what it is, but part of me can’t help thinking it’s by design.

Were Daisy a cat, I’d have no doubt whatsoever that I was being pawned.  It’s only the fact that she’s a dog which gives me doubt.

Anyhoo, that’s where we are.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As regular friends of the decanter know, ol’ Robbo hit his half-century on this earth earlier this year.  Thus, I wasn’t altogether surprised when this memento mori turned up in the mail today:

memento

At first glance, I merely shook my head and sighed.  However, taking a closer look, I discovered something:  The membership was actually made out in Mrs. Robbo’s name.  I immediately started to laugh.

Why?  Because Mrs. R is actually about five and a half years younger than I am.  In the state of glee I usually reserve for telling her I’ve been carded yet again, I hastened to bring this discovery to her attention.

Mrs. Robbo was not quite so amused as I was.

However, as it happens, Port Swiller Manor is full of electricians, painters and handymen doing a variety of unforeseen maintenance and repair projects today.  (Ah, the manifest joys of home ownership!)  After stewing for a moment, Mrs. R visibly softened and said, “Hmm…I wonder if I could start using their discounts.”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening found ol’ Robbo attending a concert of the Piano Guys over at Wolf Trap, in company with Mrs. R and the Middle Gel, who is a certified hyper-fan of the group.  Because the gel is such a nut, we splurged to let her sit right down in the pit about three rows back from the stage.  Meanwhile, Mrs. R and I found ourselves a spot out on the lawn and, amidst intermittent showers and drizzle, hunkered down to wait out the gel’s little self-indulgence.

This lawn-seating biznay is rayther interesting.  Over the years, I don’t think I’ve done it more than five or six times, but you can easily spot the regulars by all their paraphernalia – blankets, coolers, wet-weather gear, folding seats and so-forth.  What I like about it is that, if you find the time weighing a bit heavy on your hands during the performance, you can simply wander off and buy yourself a glass of wine.  (Ask the Beautiful People down in the amphitheater if they can do that! I don’t think so!)

The last time we were there was to see Huey Lewis a few years ago.  We found ourselves seated immediately in front of a bunch of very drunk college kids who kept cat-calling all evening.  I reckoned that the crown for the Piano Guys would be somewhat different, and for the most part they were:  Lots of younger kids (which was great), families and older couples.  I didn’t see a single member of the rowdier element in attendance.

Nonetheless, there was a couple behind us who were probably in their late 30’s or early 40’s.  They had the complete lawn encampment going, right down to china plates, silverware, real wine glasses and corkscrew.  Throughout the entire performance, though, they never stopped talking.  Two more candidates for teh Special Hell, I found myself thinking.

The funniest thing to happen was that as I sat there I suddenly noticed a woman a few spaces over who looked exactly like the gal I’d grown up across the street from back in the San Antonio of my misspent yoot.  I hadn’t seen or spoken to her since leaving high school over 30 years ago, although I’d had a vague report that she lived somewhere in our neck of the woods.

When I mentioned all this to Mrs. R, she said, “Well, why don’t you go over and talk to her?”

“What?” I replied in horror.  “I couldn’t! If I turned out to be wrong, she’d think I was some kind of psychopath and I’d have no choice but to take my own life in shame!”

“What stuff,” Mrs. R said, and went over to find out for herself.  Turns out I had been right after all and that this was my old neighbor.  We chatted with her and her husband for a couple minutes and then went back to our spot much gratified.

Small world, ain’t it.

Oh, as to the actual musick.  If you aren’t familiar with them, the Piano Guys’ (they’re actually a piano/cello duo) basic shtick is to take classical themes and interweave them with pop favorites, then doll it all up with a lot of fancy electronic effects and dramatic audio/visual presentation.  As I say, teh Gel is mad about them.  For myself, I will certainly acknowledge that they’re a hell of a lot better to listen to than some of the stuff that could have seized her imagination, and for that I am grateful.

One thing that struck me as amusing:  The cellist, in talking about their musickal influences, mentioned Victor Borge a couple of times.  Only he kept pronouncing the name “Borg” instead of “Borzha“.  I couldn’t help thinking that if ol’ Victor were still around, he could have incorporated this into his “Phonetic Punctuation” routine.  “You vill be azzimilated! Shwoop! POP!”

All in all, a good time was had by all.

 

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