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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those of you who like to keep track of such things, may I point out that tonight is the full of this year’s Hunter’s Moon?

Ol’ Robbo forgets about the moon’s waxings and wanings from time to time, especially now that I’m not commuting, but is always delighted to “re-discover” its cycle.

Should be a lovely moonrise this evening.

*** Ol’ Robbo was going to segue into some remarks about the headlines these days, but after a short **types-deletes** struggle I decided to give it up and just laugh. Suffice to say this: A thing that can’t go on won’t.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A bit of good news yesterday, as it turns out that the heart murmur noticed during Decanter Dog’s checkup a couple weeks ago is nothing more than Anno Domini and doesn’t even require any medication. Mrs. Robbo had been worriting herself over the possibility that it might have been something worse, possibly even terminal, and my “keep calm and carry on” advice seemed of little comfort. I’m glad that’s all cleared up now.

Still, the thing is a reminder to me that when DD does shuffle off this mortal coil, it’s going to be a bad, bad day at Port Swiller Manor. DD is Mrs. R’s very first dog, and ever since we got her six (?) years ago, her baby. This has become even more the case now that the Gels are grown up and flying the nest. We’ve had seven cats together over the years and have lost five, some losses being harder than others, which I guess is some kind of preparation, but this will be many orders of magnitude worse.

Well, alas, that’s the problem of pets, and as far as Ol’ Robbo knows there’s absolutely no way round it.

In the meantime, however, although we don’t know exactly how old DD is in terms of years, physically I’d say she’s in early middle age and, aside from needing to shed a couple pounds, in overall good health. So hopefully we’ve got some time before we need to face all that.

UPDATE: On a cheerier note, and as long as I’m pet-blogging anyhow, I notice that Decanter Kitten’s tail, which thinned out noticeably over the summah, is thickening up again. (She’s a Maine coon.) I wonder if this will prove to be some kind of weather gauge like a woolly-bear, predictive of the harshness of the on-coming cold season. We’ll see. (She’s mad at me, by the bye, because I won’t leave the porch door open for her while the temperature is below about 55 degrees or so, thereby disrupting her habit of going in and out at will.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s getting on to that time of year now where I can foresee the end of mowing season so I’m only buying gas for the lawnmower a gallon at a time lest I get saddled with leftovers all winter. Just once I’d like to finish the last cut of the season just as the mower runs out of the last of the gas I have left in the can in the garage. “Nail the landing” as it were.

Meanwhile, the proportion of my time spent raking up leaves is gradually increasing. At this point it’s mostly just trying to keep the driveway relatively clear, especially as there’s a front moving through today with a chance of thunderstorms and a layer of wet leaves on an asphalt incline is almost as slippery as ice. A bad biznay when you’re trying to get out into my busy street.

I’ve not seen the hummingbirds for several weeks now so it seems likely they’ve all split for the coast. I’m leaving the feeder up, however, Just In Case.

Ol’ Robbo’s bonus task today was to have to climb out Youngest’s bedroom window onto the garage roof to clip back some ivy that has got a bit too frisky. Let us just say that I have a hobbit-like bad head for heights.

Finally, speaking of Youngest, I added “sundry” to the post title because she’s off sailing in a regatta today at Western Michigan University. Thus, I can truly say today that “I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo“!

(Oh, I slay me.)

UPDATE: The Gel messages “Won one of the races!” Yo, ho!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How is it that spousal snoring can be such an irritant while doggy snoring is soothing to the point of inducing narcolepsy?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Decanter Dog in the Land of Nod

UPDATE: I should make clear that I am actually a far worse offender on the snoring front than is Mrs. R. It’s one of the few things about which she gets genuinely angry with me. I merely throw out the above question from purely my own point of view.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was out for his customary lunchtime walk round the neighborhood today, my first venture out since getting the jab last Friday. (My arm still aches and I feel a little bit woozy, but the latter might be more rightly attributed to the fact that today is a Monday/Tuesday combo, and to all the ragweed pollen still in the air.)

Anyhoo, evidently this past weekend was a big time to put up Halloween displays. There seem to be a lot more such decorations out this year, both in terms of the number of houses tricked out and in the extent of such tricking. Perhaps it’s a backlash to everybody being confined to quarters last year. I don’t go in for this sort of thing myself. We put a couple pumpkins on the front steps to mark the fall season in general, and Mr. Jack Lantern puts in a one-night-only appearance on the 31st, but that’s it.

The other thing I noticed is after much talk back and forth (which has been cluttering up my home email for years), it would appear the newest speed-abatement measures are being put in on the main road through the neighborhood, a cut-over between two busy thoroughfares.

When, exactly, did speed-bumps become speed-humps? The latter always makes me think there’s material there for a slightly naughty joke.

At any rate, they’re putting in a third such bump (or hump, if you prefer) right smack dab in the middle to compliment the ones toward either end of the street. Not that it will do much good, I expect. If two aren’t sufficient, what difference will a third make? Plus, all the additional warning signs are nothing more than an eyesore. I suppose the new work is mostly to gratify the neighborhood sense that the County is doing something. Eh.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, autumn proceeds apace here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. As I look about me, the trees are increasingly dappled with patches of yellow, orange, and brown, and it’s cool enough to lounge comfortably in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.

All the Gels are home now for the long weekend, although I’ve only seen them briefly and not all together at the same time. When the younger two aren’t sleeping, they’ve been visiting with Mrs. R’s parents, who happen to have stopped in this weekend on their migration back to Flardah. (Ol’ Robbo currently is banned from their presence because I’m not fully jabbed yet.) But I get ’em all together for dinner this evening. I b’lieve this is the first time it actually feels out of the ordinary to have a full house again.

I never thought to see an article in praise of Breezewood, PA, but here it is. I get what it says about the place being an important waypoint and praising the folks who have stuck it out there (unlike somebody like Kevin Williamson, I’m really not a snob), but that doesn’t change the fact that the stretch between the traffic light at the end of I-70 and the ramps for the Turnpike is one of the ugliest places I know, both in terms of extended truck-stop architecture and bottleneck traffic. (Is there even a downtown? A community somewhere off the strip? I’ve never looked.) And there is such a sense of relief headed southbound once one gets through it that I’m always overcome by the urge to floor it even though the speed limit is only 55 mph. Many, many other folks feel the same way. (The Pennsylvania State Police have been feasting on them for years and years now.)

Speaking of such, I heard a good one recently: In order to pass the Murrland driver’s license test, you have to cross over into Virginia and cause an accident. (It’s funny because it’s true! And actually, Youngest told it to me. She has learned well.)

On a completely different note, Ol’ Robbo recently got the urge to read Moby Dick. (Technically I should say “reread” because I think I had to do so in high school but don’t remember much.) Specifically, I want to understand why it’s considered a classic of American lit. So far, I’m pleasantly surprised by Melville’s occasional outbursts of very playful language, which make me chuckle, and being such an old paper sea-dog from my many years of reading Patrick O’Brian puts me in good stead to follow the maritime workings easily and enjoyably. But my overarching feeling is that what the fellah really needed was an editor armed with a baseball bat. Jumping about outrageously from first to third-person narrative; inserting almost play-like interludes; impossibly intricate run-on sentences; careering wildly off on tangents; and occasional bouts of existential navel-gazing which I have to admit at least aren’t as bad as Thoreau. As Eldest put it, just tell the damned story! I’ve got the Norton Critical Series edition (hand-annotated at some points by the Mothe for some reason), which is jammed with analyses, criticisms, and commentary (plus some droll footnotes pointing out places where Melville cheated on his research), so I’ll probably plow through all that stuff, too.

And now that I reread that paragraph, I see I’m doing it, too. He tasks me!

Whelp, I suppose that’s enough for now. This is a random, not a rant, so I won’t get into a “Wither History In The Reign Of The Neo-Jacobins” discussion of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea this year.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that what actually put Moby Dick into my tiny little brain was re-watching “Major League” the other evening as a sort of wake for the now-disappeared Cleveland Indians. Those of you familiar with the fillum will recall that Tom Berringer reads a comic-book form of the story in order to try and convince Renee Russo that he’s matured. It was his line, referring to the comic, that “this happen to be a classic of American literature” that got Ol’ Robbo wondering why, exactly, the original is so considered.

I have learned over time to simply run with these free associations when they crop up. Seldom am I disappointed.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest got home from school last evening for the long weekend. (Can you believe it’s fall break already?)

I’d swear the Gel is taller than she was when I last saw her in August. And this after she gained better than an inch last year.

Talk about your late growth spurt. I always thought girls did most of their sprouting early on. Certainly this was the case with the other two. Who knows why Youngest should prove the exception.

Incidentally, it may or may not have been my pondering on this question when she came home from school last spring, but “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman” is floating around somewhere in my Netflix queue at the moment.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel has decided to revisit her Tolkien. (I can’t remember the last time I saw her or her sisters reading for the pure pleasure of it, so this pleases me greatly.)

Although she decided to go back and start with The Hobbit, she seems to be trying to piece together what she remembers from the other books and tie them into the story as she goes along. Yesterday she asked me, “What exactly are Wizards, again?”

Well, she’s not a little girl anymore but a full-fledged adult, so it hardly seemed fitting to fob her off with “Oh, they’re very wise beings with magical powers.” So I told her briefly and off the top of my head about Tolkien’s Creation story. I mentioned Eru, the Valar, the Maiar, and the history of their battle against the dark forces of the fallen Melkor (including Sauron) for control of Arda, and how Gandalf and the other Wizards were a set of Maiar who took bodily form and went into the world to carry on this battle.

The look that crept over her face as I rattled this off was, well, incredulous.

“You are such a nerd!” she said.

What was it Billy Shakespeare said about serpent’s teeth and thankless childs?

Ol’ Robbo might agree that he deserves getting tarred with that epithet were he to bring up the subject on his own, but she asked! She asked!


UPDATE: Heh. Having finished The Hobbit, Eldest said, “Tolkien took two pages to describe the Battle of Five Armies. How the hell did Peter Jackson stretch that out to an entire feature-length movie?”

That’s my gel! Indeed, my very first substantive blog post from back in the very first days of the Llamas (coming up on 18 years ago, now) was a satirical damnation of Jackson and all his works.

And, by the bye, rereading that post just now, two things come to mind. First, Eldest, who I’m pretty certain has not read it, spotted the same flaw. Second, rereading it after all this time, like flipping through an old photo album, fills me with a sort of melancholic blend of fondness and regret over what it was like to be young and full of fresh ideas.

Good times, my fellow port swillers. Good times.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent the bulk of this first, lovely, Saturday morning of October hammering away with a rake at the moss which had taken over a large chunk of the Port Swiller Manor front yard.

I’d been ignoring the problem for years and putting the job off all summah, but fall liming has already started and they’ll be aerating and over-seeding soon, so I had no choice but to scramble now in penance for my bygone indolence.

I don’t know why all the how-to guides (and my lawn guy) say raking out moss is easy. It’s nothing of the sort. True, it’s not hauling hay bales, but it’s tedious and repetitive, and, when one is trying to avoid taking out what tufts of grass there are, more tedious. Plus, it’s a major workout on the forearms and hands. I don’t think I’ll be playing the piano later this afternoon.

I got a sizeable chunk done, but by no means all. I think I’ll let the rest go, at least for this year, and see how much the rejuvenated grass can win back on its own.

UPDATE: No, I wasn’t kidding about my hands, the backs and joints of which are now stiff and painful. This happens when I spend a long time clutching things hard. Prolly early arthritis. Also, although I again missed Ace’s GAAINZZ thread yesterday, I can report here the successful conclusion of another week’s worth of 625 pushups (125 per day), so I was already rather worn out when I started. (I’m pretty proud of myself about that, by the bye, and feel pretty great, too.)

But the real purpose of this update is that I forgot to mention another lawn item earlier. The back yard is plagued with native violet. The last time weed control was put down on them was in the middle of a hot, dry spell about five weeks ago. The control is in pellet form and has to be absorbed through the roots. The violets at that time were practically dormant due to the weather, so nothing doing. Ol’ Robbo was…displeased.

This past week when the fellah was back again we were just coming out of a rainy spell and the plants are all wide awake. He put down another treatment and within about 48 hours I could already see the little bastards’ leaves starting to curl, and the process goes on apace.

Not to too violently switch the reference from the title of this post, but inspecting the violet issue this afternoon Ol’ Robbo may have borrowed from the Star Trek TOS episode “Wolf In The Fold” and ran about the yard yelling, “Redjac! Redjac! Die! Die! You’re all gonna die! Redjac! AAAAHAHAHA!!!!”

It’s possible.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This past Saturday evening, Mrs. Robbo and I went out to dinner, just the two of us.

This is somewhat newsworthy in and of itself because I believe the last time we did it was some time early last winter.

Unfortunately, both because we didn’t get the idea until early Saturday afternoon, and because I am currently barred from establishments demanding vax papers, our options were necessarily limited. (I should note here that even after I get such papers foisted on me, I will not patronize such establishments. Uncle can force this biznay on me because of the hardship my family would suffer if I lose my job but I’m not going a single inch further than absolutely necessary.)

Aaaaanyway, we wound up at an “Italian” place in the new urban sprawl which is replacing the old suburban sprawl with frightening speed along the pike not far from Port Swiller Manor. What was once a succession of strip malls and car dealerships is rapidly transmogrifying into hip high-rises with posh shops and dining establishments on their ground floors. Indeed, Ol’ Robbo hates to venture over there because every time he does something else has changed the shape of the landscape and he gets discombobulated.

Mrs. R wanted to sit outside because it was such a lovely evening. I didn’t mind, but really, urban sidewalk dining isn’t Robbo’s thing. It would, of course, make a difference if I were looking out at, say, the dome of St. Paul’s, or the Louvre, or even Capitol Hill. But when the only thing across the street is another high-rise, with a fish taco restaurant and an eyeglasses place at street level, and a wall plastered with a piece of “urban art” of the sort I loathe, well……

Then, of course, there is the succession of cars endlessly circling past in search of parking spots. And from somewhere round the corner came a steady thumpa-thumpa-thumpa, which was either a street performance or somebody’s car stereo, I couldn’t tell which.

But what about the people-watching, you might ask? Well, again, urban hipster-doofus couture is not a big favorite of mine. Also, I guess it must have been homecoming weekend somewhere round here, because at one point a party of about a half-dozen high school girls hove into view wearing fancy dresses so short that if Ol’ Robbo were Emperor, I’d have had the lot of them arrested for public indecency.

As much as I enjoyed our dinner (the pizza was actually quite good), I definitely felt a sense of relief when we had left the concrete jungle and slid back into our quiet, leafy suburb.

I mentioned this to my brother yesterday. He said that he and his wife felt the same way, which was why they almost exclusively go with takeout from their favorite restaurants now. As he pointed out, not only is the ambiance quieter and the service better, the wine is always cheaper.

Sound reasoning.

(That said, Mrs. R and I have decided to make the effort to dine out once a month going forward, largely so that I don’t become completely moss-covered. With enough lead-time, we hopefully should be able to find more congenial venues.)


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October 2021