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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, ol’ Robbo’s summah hols officially began.  (I say “officially” because at least in spirit I had already left the office at the beginning of the week, doing nothing much more than sorting things between that which I could ignore until I get back and that which I could ignore full stop.)  Tomorrow we go to meet up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family at a lake house on which we’re going snacks, there to loaf about, perhaps kayak a bit, play some croquet and badminton, and drink large quantities of adult beverages.

We tried this a couple years ago down in the Outer Banks and I can’t say I enjoyed it very much.  The “house” there was actually a condo built right smack in the middle of a zillion other condos.  It was too small for the ten of us and the whole area was far, far too crowded for Robbo’s taste.  This year we’ve got a real house, set on its own on a little point of land with a dock and a small beach, so I’m hoping it will be genuinely relaxing.

“Say, Robbo, don’t you usually go up tah Maine and stare at the bay?” I hear some of you asking.  Well, yes, we did for many years, but I’m afraid that’s about over.  The cottage is crumbling and, not being very efficient slumlords or investment wizards, we just don’t generate the kind of dosh necessary to really fix it up or, better yet, knock it down and start over.  So it’s on the market.  (If any of you are interested, ignore that part about crumbling.)  Also, I just don’t think Mrs. R and the gels really liked it very much – they are of the school of holiday-making that requires stimulation and entertainment, two things you’re just not going to find in Midcoast Maine.  I’m sure gonna miss it, though.

Anyhoo, I probably won’t be around here very much for the next week, so for your consideration I present some few thoughts still idling round my otherwise rapidly stagnating braim:

♦   I must say that I continue to delight in watching Gozer the Gozarian Teh Donald flip the bird at the MSM (or, as the Puppy-Blender likes to call them, “Democratic operatives with bylines”) and cause the GOP Establishment to soil its collective undies.  The GOPe has absolutely nobody to blame for all this than themselves.  While the Donks have gone national socialist, the GOP has gone Vichy despite being elected specifically to stop the drift lurch left.  Teh Donald is simply filling the void where we fools thought the Establishment would stand and fight.  To hell with them.  (Oh, and here’s a pro tip, GOPe:  Don’t call us stupid.)

♦  Speaking of such things, I see where Berke Breathed has resurrected Bloom County.  Good on him and I hope he keeps it up.  I’m curious to see how well he gets on.  Although he’s something of a lefty, B.C. was never of the same self-rightious un-funny smarminess as Doonesbury and Breathed wasn’t afraid to go after twits on his side of the fence from time to time.   However, that was back in the 80’s and 90’s, before the advent of the Social Justice Warrior cadre.  Wonder what will happen the first time he takes a swipe at one of their sacred cows.  (Small point of trivia: Breathed went to college with my high school Latin teacher.)

♦  What can ol’ Robbo say of his beloved Nationals except thank God the rest of the N.L. East is so awful this year.   In case you haven’t been following things, our trouble is injuries: better than half of our starters are out at the moment.  And while the bench guys have been doing as well as anyone could possibly hope, there’s a reason they’re bench guys after all.   During the game last evening, F.P. Santangelo (the Nats’ teevee color guy) said the team reminded him of the Memphis Belle – banged up, shot up, but still leading.  I chuckled appreciatively at that little bit of historickal allusion.

♦  Following up on our bear-sighting of this week, I was out mowing in the little clearing behind the back fence this morning (keeping an eye peeled over my shoulder, you may be sure) when I suddenly stepped in the answer to the rhetorical question about bears and woods.  Yes.  Yes, they do.

♦  The Family Robbo has been obsessed over the past couple weeks with playing a board game called Colorku, which seems to be Sudoku involving colored balls instead of numbers.  Being a crossword snob, I never got into sudoku myself so have no real interest in this game either, but anything that gets the gels off their damned iThingies is just fine with me.

Whelp, I suppose I had ought to go and see about packing.  Or at least thinking about packing.  Or possibly thinking about when it will be time to start thinking about packing.  Or something.   Meanwhile, you all know the drill:  Decanter and walnuts are on the table and the Stilton is on the sideboard.  Swill till your eyes bubble and I’ll be back later.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that no, Daisy dog does not accompany us.  Instead, she’s off this afternoon to a sort of free-range kennel we found.  It’s a big farm of so many acres and they basically just let the dogs run around all day and bring ’em inside at night.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ever have one of those strange, strange days?

This morning teh Eldest called me at work and informed me that a black bear was wandering around outside our back fence.  There have been increasing reports of them in our neck of the woods over the past couple years but this is the first time I’d heard of one in our immediate vicinity.

I called up the County Animal Control people to report the sighting, since ours is a residential area and a lot of people like to walk their dogs in the woods behind us.  “Oh,” said the dispatcher, “We don’t respond to that sort of thing.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied, “Just a wild animal being part of nature, that’s all.”

This must be a new policy.  I know for a fact that when a bear popped up a mile or two away from us last summah the County police tracked him down and carted him off.

This afternoon I told the Eldest what they’d said.  Now she worries the bear will come back.  “Dad,” she said, “Do you think the bear could climb the fence, come up to the basement and get in and get me?”

“Sure,” I replied, “All bears carry skeleton keys and glass-cutters for that very purpose.”

She was not amused.

Meanwhile, when I went to start up La Wrangler yesterday afternoon after work, she wouldn’t fire.  So I left her at my work garage and metro’d home.  Today I spent rayther a lot of time dealing with Triple-A, as first they sent a battery guy and then later a tow-truck (driven by the tightest-mouthed badasss I’ve ever met, who also happened to be a wizard at navigating extremely tight spaces with his truck).  I just got home a while ago from dropping her off at the dealer and am in dread:  The last time they got their hooks on her, they found about a zillion different things that needed “immediate attention”.  Although I think in this case the alternator just went out, I bet they’ll do so again.  Must. Be. Firm.

In the meantime, my loaner is a Nisan Versa “Note”, a vehicle I’d never heard of before that looks not unlike a shuttlecraft from Star Trek: TNG.  Driving it, I feel like a complete hipster doofus.  You might as well slap “Co-exist” and “Draft Lizzie!” stickers, together with a rainbow flag, on the back and have done with it.

What makes this week a bit more tolerable?  The fact that I go on summah hols Friday and have slipped into that pre-vacation who-really-gives-a-damn mindset.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo came home to Port Swiller Manor this evening to the sound of vehement bickering between teh Eldest Gel and Mrs. R somewhere above stairs.  As an old campaigner, I did my best to ignore the spat in the hope that it would resolve itself without my having to become involved.

Thus, I poured a glass of wine and applied myself to firing up the stovetop in preparation for making myself some din-dins.

Well, as my burger started to sizzle*, the squabbling failed to peter out as I had hoped, but instead got more vehement.  Taking a large swig of courage, I sighed and plodded upstairs to find out what was all this, then.

Turns out that the thing centered on the fact that teh Middle Gel is going for her learner’s permit tomorrow.  I had known this but had not paid that much attention, since I had been through it before and knew the drill.  However, when I broke in on the squabble, I found that teh Eldest was berating Mrs. R for allowing her younger sibling to do something so brash, so reckless, so fraught with potential danger.  “I’m her sister,” I heard teh Gel declaim, “I’m just trying to protect her from your lack of parental responsibility!  I know what happens…..”

Groaning, I invited teh Eldest to just walk away, promising her I would get to the bottom of her grievance while at the same time pointing out that Mrs. R and I are in charge, not her.

Welp, it didn’t take me long.

You see, the thing is that tomorrow is the first day said Middle Gel will be eligible to get said permit and she has always been a goer.  I recalled as the facts were laid forth that the Eldest had backed and filled for several months after her own eligible date before she eventually resolved to obtained such a permit for herself.

So the whole kerfluffle turns out to be nothing more than Sibling. J. Rivalry, as we used to call it.

Siiiigh.  Barkeep, where is that courage? I’ll have another, please.

* Yes, stovetop burger.  Deal with it.  It was hot as hell and humid and threatening to storm, so no grill for me.

UPDATE:  License secured. Aaaaaaaand, she’s off!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  A few odds and ends on this stormy, Nats rained out, evening, for your consideration:

♦  Ol’ Robbo continues to believe that Social Media is the new young god on the political scene these days:  swaying Low Information Voters, stampeding Big Biznay and scaring the absolute shite out of the politicos.  Unfortunately, it’s also a petulant, spoiled, adolescent god with a massive Narcissist complex, an absentee father, a mother driven to bribe it for faux-affection,  and an agenda that amounts to showing them all how wrong they were.

 God (the real one) help us all.

♦  On these lines, I recently looked into purchasing a complete DVD set of The Dukes of Hazzard in protest of the sudden urge to airbrush the Confederate Battle Flag off the top of the General Lee.  250 to 300 bucks? Not bloody likely!

♦  An completely gratuitous note: John Schneider, who played Bo Duke in TDoH:TOS, bought a house in San Antonio originally built by ol’ Robbo’s parents.  Yeah, buddy, I and my brother were the guys who first cleared that 2.5 acres of brush and scrub and established the lawn and gardens.  You’re welcome.

♦  Also, perhaps more importantly, on these general pre-totalitarian lines, I absolutely love this bumper sticker.

♦  Speaking of new things, are other friends of teh decanter slightly creepified by the new Kentucky Fried Chicken ad campaign featuring a zombie Colonel Sanders?  I’m old enough to remember ol’ Harland himself doing said spots.  He was gracious and dignified.  This new fellah? Snarky, flippant, and, for lack of a better term, icky.  Not a good thing.  Is there no one in the Sanders family who could step up and do a legacy thing the way Dave Thomas’s daughter did for Wendy’s?  (Okay, I confess that I thought the “Wendy” Thomas ad campaign was rayther lame and much prefer the current hot ginger, neo-Dana Delany thing, but that’s a different matter.)

♦   Dana Delany.  Be right back.

♦  Modern Times.  I was 13 before I took my first commercial jet flight – a fly-fishing trip to Alaska, accompanied by much ballyhoo and bedlam- and also accompanied and heavily monitored by the Old Gentleman.  This evening I finally caved in to teh youngest gel’s request to hop a flight some time soon with her best friend to Chicago to visit said friend’s father.

♦   Okay, to finish up, I still love this.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Because his beloved Nationals were early on obviously on the way to defeat this evening, ol’ Robbo popped in his latest Netflix serving, the movie version of The A-Team.

I used to enjoy the original series very much in my misspent yoot.  And as much as I hate reboots as a general rule, I also like the more recent movie enough to have seen it multiple times.

smith leesonAs I was watching said movie, teh Eldest wandered into the room.  In answer to her questions, I said more or less what I have just written.  However, I also pointed out that I’ve never quite got used to the idea of Liam Neeson as Hannibal Smith.

“Wait, what? Why?” she said.

“Well, I don’t know,” I answered, “He just doesn’t seem…tough enough to me.”

“Liam Neeson?” she said, “Are you crazy?  Why not?”

“Oh, I dunno, ” I said, “He just seems too…Sensative-Irish to me and only fake-tough, if you know what I mean.”

“No,” she replied, “I don’t.  I think Liam is teh awesome.”

smith peppard“Fine,” I said, “But let me tell you two things.  First, Liam Neeson is no Aslan.  Second, George Peppard could have beaten the living bayjaysus out of Neeson without even putting out his cigar.  So there.”

She walked off, shaking her head and muttering.

I don’t care.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s “Independence Day” weekend this year was capped off by an impromptu BBQ at Port Swiller Manor yesterday afternoon.  As I laid out the ingredients of said BBQ – which consisted of dogs and burgers – teh Eldest Gel ( a confirmed carnivore, much to my satisfaction) asked, “Dad! Why can’t you cook a hotdog wrapped in bacon?”

Why, indeed.  This wants looking into….

More generally, said Gel is passionately fond of ribs.  I often have thought of doing some up for her (the raw materials can be obtained easily enough from teh butcher shop at the local Gourmet Giant – pronounced “Ger-may Gee-yaunt”), but I am mostly a steak and burger guy and don’t know jack about smoking, much less baby-back sauce prep.  Any suggestions/comments/pointers would be accepted most gratefully.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I mentioned the monsoon that struck the Port Swiller Manor neighborhood the other day?  Well, turns out it flooded Eldest Gel’s room down the basement fairly thoroughly.  It also got into the main room of the basement, buckling a section of floor near the teevee.

Sigh.  Regular friends of the decanter may recall that exactly the same damned thing happened last summah, and that ol’ Robbo spent considerable time and money getting the basement redone, including what was supposed to be a thorough waterproofing of the walls.  (Pro tip:  Do not put in Pergo where there is any danger of water seepage.  Once the moisture gets under it, you’re doomed. I should have considered this, but I was so confidently informed by the contractor that the basement had been completely sealed that I ignored the danger.)

Well, as Ray Davies sang, here we go round again.  The contractors were back out today ripping up the ruined Pergo and starting to dig holes in the walls to find the leaks.

This time we’re looking at putting in wood-like porcelain tile (something I did not even know existed) on the theory that even if it does get wet, it doesn’t matter very much. I believe this stuff is somewhat more expensive than Pergo, which leads to a delicate point:  Clearly the latest damage was caused by the contractor not doing a proper job last summah, and I don’t think they’re going to squawk too much about covering the repairs.  However, if we are effectively upgrading, who covers that additional cost?

It is here that I shamelessly turn the whole thing over to Mrs. R.  Despite the fact that I’m a lawyer, I really hate to dicker about personal matters.  Mrs. R, on the other hand, seems to enjoy it.  That’s why I have come to leave all such matters – buying cars, negotiating home projects, etc. – in her capable hands.

UPDATE:  Good news, every Juan!  Turns out that the gel’s bedroom leak was the result of an overlooked pipe and easily fixable.  The other leak was caused by a genuine new crack, but is fixable by a little judicious landscaping and drainage modification.  Given this, we’ve decided to stick with the Pergo.  Whole biznay much cheaper than I first feared.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry, I don’t at the moment have anything particularly weighty to say after the recent seismic upheavals in the Body Politick other than “Dum spiro, spero“.  Perhaps I will venture on some more substantive musings in the near future, perhaps not.  I can tell you this:  Teh Eldest Gel, who has become a keen follower of current events, noted earlier this evening that progressives don’t argue, they have temper tantrums.  “It’s like they’re a bunch of goddam toddlers!” she said.   Yep.

In the meantime, since his beloved Nationals aren’t playing this evening, ol’ Robbo is going to settle in for an “Arrested Development” festival.  As I have said here before and, no doubt, will say again, it is my considered opinion that this was the single funniest program ever put on television.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Re an item in the post immediately below, no fencing for Port Swiller Manor today after all:  It’s been raining steadily since last night, sometimes quite heavily.  (In fact, looking at the radar, it appears the last big burst of the storm is going to hit us in a little while.)

I had been thinking before today’s monsoon struck that this might have been a good weekend to cut back the forsythia.  Some years ago, I would have sallied forth to do so regardless of the weather.  More recently, I would have refrained but fumed about it all day.  Now?  I simply said meh and have spent most of the day reading Evelyn Waugh.

Progress, I like to think.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo left this morning to go visit her parents for a couple days, teh younger gels are off at summah camp and I hardly ever see the eldest anymore, so this weekend is effectively just your host and his menagerie.  Woo Hoo!

♦   Thanks to what was a pretty strong consensus here, I ordered a new set of headphones for my musickal evenings this morning.  Thankee muchly for your recommendations.  It only took me two months to get around to it.  Procrastinate we much?

♦    Speaking of electronics, I find myself hating smartphones more and more.   I especially despise the zombie-like way everyone seems to stare at them, oblivious to their surroundings.

♦    I see where Phil Austin, who played Nick Danger for Firesign Theater, died this week.  My college roommate first put me on to these guys and I wound up buying a couple of their albums.  True, it’s dirty hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor, but it was still pretty durn funny.  (I say “was” because I had cassette tapes, now long gone, and it must be close to twenty years since I last listened to them.)

♦  I also see where the Vegas odds-makers are betting Robbo’s beloved Nationals are going to win it all this year.   I dunno, but since we just got done sweeping both the Bucs and the Braves, I’m starting to get excited.  [Insert obligatory “Great kid, but don’t get cocky” here.]  We’re supposed to start a series against the despicable Phillies this evening, but I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate.

♦  Fence guy is coming tomorrow to slap up some wire on the fence in the Port Swiller backyard, thereby allowing us to literally let Daisy off the leash on occasion (under supervision, of course, in case she proves a digger).  We decided against the whole Invisible Fence thing because of the price and the complexity and because I’m unwilling to try training her on it when she’s already so skittish around me.  The squirrels and the woodchucks are in for a nasty surprise.

♦   Speaking of the back yard, ol’ Robbo demonstrated his apparent genius for stumbling across yellow jacket nests yet again the other evening.  I was throwing up a tarp against a corner of the house where we think water is getting into the basement again and thumped down a paving stone literally within two inches of one of their burrows.  Fortunately, a storm was rolling in and it was already quite dark, so even though I disturbed them, they only came out sluggishly and I got away without being stung this time.

Well, also speaking of the back yard, time to go mow it before the rain rolls in.  Whatever terrible nooz comes out today, I’m not going to let it ruin things for me.  Don’t you let it, either.

UPDATE: Done and done.  Everything’s mown, trimmed and blown so it can rain now ’til its eyes bubble for all I care.  And, Eldest Gel, who has been working all week at her church’s vacation bible school, is bringing me home an egg, cheese and bagel sammich.  FTW!

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