You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘The Home Fires’ category.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No landscaping work for Ol’ Robbo this week.  I contrived to catch the flu the other day and am still feeling its effects, so am taking it easy today.  (It was a funny thing.  I cannot recall before such a definitive onslaught.  I was literally standing on the Metro Tuesday morning when all of a sudden I felt myself getting sick.  An hour later, I was coughing and sneezing to beat the band and my eyes were practically swollen shut.)

With fall O-ficially starting Monday, I suppose it’s time to plant chrysanthemums in the half-barrels in front of Port Swiller Manor.  Why, exactly, is there such an association between mums and fall?  In fact, I don’t even like the things very much. They don’t smell very nice and I’m no fan of that kind of heavy, multi-petalled flower.

But it’s fall, so it’s mums.  That’s just the way things are, I suppose.

UPDATE:  Okay, that was a stupid question, I admit, but as I say, I’m still getting over being sick and I also posed it before getting outside my second cup of covfefe, so I hope you’ll just let it pass without throwing derisive walnuts at me.  I maintain my point about not being fond of mums, however.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel was telling me this evening about a classmate of hers in government who was having a hissy-fit today because some Congress-Critter referred to our “God-given rights”.

“They can’t say that!” the kid purportedly sputtered.  “That violates separation of Church and State! REEEEEEE!!!!

The Gel basically told her not to be a fool, but I gathered she did so more instinctually than rationally.

So I explained a little bit about the Founders’ understanding of individual rights being inherent to our nature as human beings, based on the Divine spark within us, and their further understanding that government is supposed to serve us, not the other way round.   I explained that the whole purpose of the Constitution is to set up a system of government that is functional in that purpose without undermining those rights.  I explained that once one gives up the idea that rights are both individual and inherent and concedes to a system wherein they are collective and doled out or taken away by the State, one has basically surrendered to tyranny, however dolled up in “The Public Good” rhetoric it might be.

Oh, and I also explained what the Establishment Clause actually means, that there is no “Separation” Clause, and why her friend is, in fact, a fool.

She got all this, and was also able to tie it in to her studies (she showed a real knowledge of the Amendment process, for example, and had intelligent things to say about Federalism), but I could see that I’m going to need to do some more ‘splainin’.  Being able to retail the history and mechanics of the system is all well and good.  But without understanding the underlying “why” of it, even a bright kid like the Gel is always in danger of skidding off into the pit.

On the other hand, being able to articulate a rational, historickally-informed position on these matters these days may be of little practical use to the Gel, since from what I can see the debate on this as well as on just about every other issue seems to be almost exclusively centered on “muh feels”.

Further, according to the New York Times and its “1619 And All That” Project, all of my points are completely illegitimate, the American system is morally null and void, and I am committing wrong think here.  So there is that.


** Spot the quote.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent about half an hour walking around in circles at the grocery store on the way home from Mass today looking for the “Uncrustables” Youngest Gel requested for her school lunches this week.  I’m here to tell you that, as much as I like my store as a rule, they have no notion of where to put these things.  One might expect them to be in the frozen breakfast food section.  Or perhaps with the frozen desserts.  Or maybe even in the freezer directly across the aisle from the peanut butter and associated jellies.

But in between the frozen burritos and mini-pizzas?  Where the heck is the logic or reason to that?  Even after I finally broke down and asked somebody which aisle they were in (much to my personal pain), I still didn’t notice them until I went back to the staffer and he personally walked me over and pointed them out.


Oh, and the punchline?  I noticed an unopened box of the things in the freezer when I got home and put the grocs away.  D’OH!

(Ol’ Robbo is being crankypants about this because the delay means it was too late for me to have a snack when I got home as I usually do (I don’t eat beforehand), and now I have to tough it out until dinner.  And get in a work-out.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel is taking the ACT this morning.  Dawdling over her breakfast (and her phone), she suddenly realized that the thing started at 8:00 AM, not 8:10 AM, and dashed out the door precipitously.  It’s now an hour later.  As she hasn’t yet returned in disgrace, I can only assume she made it to the test on time.

Ol’ Robbo has a neurosis about punctuality that amounts to the nearly fanatical.  My rule has always been that if you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re late, just go home.

So this sort of last-second scrambling drives me batty.  (If I’d been taking the test, ten minutes one way or another wouldn’t have mattered.  I’d probably have been sitting in the parking lot an hour early, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for somebody to unlock the building.  But that’s me, Mr. Vegas.)


UPDATE:  All was well.  She admitted to me afterward that on the way over she was worried she might have blown it.  Fortunately, the administrators were running late organizing themselves, so no problem.   Still…..grrrrr…..



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is home for the weekend after the conclusion of the opening three-week “mini-mester” at school.  She and Mrs. R are out having coffee at the moment.

Later, Mrs. R will be throwing herself in her car and heading down to Middle Gel’s school, where they’re having Parents Weekend.  Specifically, she’s going because the Gel’s sorority is having some kind of “parent pinning ceremony”.  She’s taking with her goody-bags for MG’s sorority big sister, her roommate, and a couple others.  Earlier this week, she also had cupcakes delivered to an initiation ceremony for the service club Eldest is in at her school.

Frankly, Ol’ Robbo thinks “parent-pinning” is silly.  I also think trying to relive college vicariously through one’s kids is a sure sign of the middle-aged crazies.

When I pointed these things out to Mrs. R, she hit me.

Can’t imagine why……..

UPDATE:  Eldest just sent me this announcement from her school –

God’s Holy Trousers.

Maybe this is just a setup:  List all these lefty talking points to draw attention, and then knock them out of the park one by one during the actual talk.  I certainly hope so.  Because otherwise, just damn.  (The Gel knows enough about Constitutional history to be able to knock them out herself, but there are an awful lot of jellyheads out there who don’t.)

UPDATE DEUX:  Eldest looked this fellah up and tells me he looks pretty conservative.  So it seems more likely that the “myths, misunderstandings, and mistakes” in the title refer to the idiot stuff in the body of the announcement, and that his talk will be an explanation of why.

Sorry to be so paranoid, but given what passes for “higher education” these days, it’s at least understandable.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Another beautiful early fall morning on the grounds of Port Swiller Manor.  I didn’t need to bother with the lawn today, so spent most of it just pottering about.

Out in the butterfly garden, where the buddleia are all overgrown and still blooming pretty heavily, I’d say that this year’s war against the morning glories has been for the most part successful, as they only really managed to partially tangle up one bush without my noticing it.  It’s now late enough in the year that I won’t worry about fighting them any longer.

While poking around, I noticed today a number of young foxgloves suddenly coming up.  I used to have a fair patch of them at one end of the garden, but they had pretty much dwindled away a year or two ago, so I was surprised to see new ones appear now.  Ol’ Robbo loves him some foxglove.  Seeing these, it came back to my mind that I really ought to put a bed of them in under the cluster of maples we have in one corner of the back yard.  I can’t think why I haven’t done it before, except that I have a vague recollection Mrs. R was worried the Gels, when toddlers, might have tried to eat them.

Speaking of eating, the groundhog who lives in my yard has been raiding my raspberry bushes.  Dratted varmint.  Decanter Dog’s ruling passion is to some day catch him, but it’s probably just as well she’s unlikely ever to do so. I’d bet those things can be formidable when cornered.

I’ll be interested to see what happens with my hedge of forsythia next spring.  I razed it to the ground this year and gave it a good feed, and now it’s sprung back up, albeit a little on the spindly side.   If it flowers well, I can pat myself on the back.  If not, I’ll just have to admit finally that it has got too old, dig it all out, and plant new ones.

Ol’ Robbo has mentioned here from time to time the pachysandra we put in the ditch out by the street last summah.  I’m happy to report that, other than where the snow-pack from the plowing killed it off right by the road,  it has really started to take off this year.  Another year or two and I think it will have filled in quite nicely.  Ol’ Robbo was quite proud of the dodge he worked out last year of placing a soaker hose uphill of the bed in order to water it at need, but I’m even happier that I’ve had no occasion to do so this year, what with all the rain we’ve had.

Finally, watching a hummingbird at the feeder just now, I got to wondering how much longer I can expect to see them round here.  What is it in their brains that one day says, “Yup, time to pack it up and head for Mexico”?  Other birds do it too, of course, but the hummers’ migration has always been especially mind-boggling to me.

UPDATE:  Beautiful early fall morning? Meet beautiful early fall evening!  There are those what say one should give up G&T’s (like seersucker and white shoes) after Labor Day.  Ol’ Robbo isn’t quite so rigid about this but prefers to go by the weather:  Once it gets cool enough, one wants to switch over to the Laphroaig.  But we’re not really there just yet. (Not that I really touch the hard stuff much anymore, and you better not tell my doctor, but once in a way it certainly hits the spot.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those of you who may be wondering, Ol’ Robbo has been around this week but his Muse seems to have taken a late summah hols.  Hopefully, she’ll be back soon.

Of course, everybody is watching Hurricane Dorian.  They didn’t evacuate Middle Gel’s school down in the Tidewater this time around like they did for Florence last year, but classes are cancelled today.  Looks like they’ll get a goodish bit of rain and maybe some wind, but I’m not at all worried and am, in fact, happier that she’s just hunkering down instead of having to get on the highway and come home.  Up here in NoVA, I believe we’re on the very far outer edge of the affected area, but I guess we’ll get nothing more out of it than some cloud cover.

And speaking of soaking, I may or may not have mentioned here before that the Port Swiller Manor dishwasher is on the verge of giving up the appliance ghost.  (It must be close to twenty years old, as it was just about the first item we had to replace after we moved in here.)  Apart from the fact that several of the bars in the lower dish rack have rusted out, thereby necessitating limited and intelligent loading, the thing has simply lost a lot of its cleaning power.  One has to pre-treat the dishes so thoroughly before putting them in that it’s almost not worth bothering to load it at all.

I’ve explained this pre-treatment requirement to my nearest and dearest many, many times.

So imagine Ol’ Robbo’s state of mind when he opened up the dishwasher last evening only to discover a whole day’s worth of plates and bowls thoroughly caked over with the remains of the meals which they had held.  (Hint:  Think Dr. David Banner after reporter Mr. McGee has finally pushed him over the line.)  I’m generally a pretty laid-back, calm sort of fellah, but this was real green eyes and muscles-ripping-shirt-to-shreds time.

And yet, was my outburst of righteous anger met with humble acknowledgements of fault and contrition, along with hasty efforts to make amends?  Of course not.  Ol’ Dad is just a big meany, the brute.  And somehow or other I wound up unloading the dishes, hand-washing them, and reloading the thing myself.

You can’t win, sometimes.  You really can’t.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Labor Day!

Ol’ Robbo is marking the day by basically loafing in his hammock.  Because after all,  in this age of Inclusiveness Uber Alles, surely it’s of the utmost importance that those who sit about on their duffs also be celebrated today every bit as much as those who work.  (And if you disagree, you’re a hater!)

As a matter of fact, I view this day simply as a marker of the end of Summah and return of Autumn.  The “Labor” in the title is too closely associated in my mind with Marxist economic theory and the misery its many forms have spread about the world over time.  It’s simply a collectivist monster.  And the “worker” at the root of such theory has no individual meaning, no individual value.  He’s merely a pawn, a cog in a greater machine, cannon-fodder for his political masters and easily eliminated when no longer needed.  Hardly something worth raising a glass about.

No, for a proper celebration of the worth and merit of an individual’s labors, I prefer to celebrate May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Funny enough, the Mothe’s father was some kind of union organizer back in the 30’s.  (I know no more specifics than that.)  In those days she told me, he swallowed Uncle Joe Stalin’s promise of a glorious worker’s paradise hook, line, and sinker.  However, after the War when the truth began to get out, he swung completely over to the other end of the spectrum.  Supposedly, he named his dog “Harry Truman” so that he could stand out on his front steps and yell, “Truman! Come here, you son of a bitch!”

Yes, Grampa Joe was a little nutz.  I only remember meeting him once, when I was six or seven, and even my tender mind noticed it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some important nothing to do…….


** Without looking it up, I’m pretty sure this (or something much like it) is a line from one of Wodehouse’s School Stories.

UPDATE:  Well, Ol’ Robbo was going to cook out this evening, but Ma Nature pawned me.  She sent down one thundershower early to get my attention, and then kept threatening a second one until past the point when I needed to fire up the coals.  In my younger, rasher days, I would have shaken my fist at the sky in defiance and gone all in.  This time?  I blinked and cooked everything on the stove top instead.  Of course, the second t-shower failed to materialize.  Well played, Ma.  Well played.

And speaking of such things, I gather we find out in the next 24 to 48 hours whether Middle Gel is going to be shooed out of the Tidewater because of Hurricane Dorian.  She got the boot this time last year because of Hurricane Florence, so she’d be batting two for two over her college career if she comes home again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

So is Ol’ Robbo supposed to set his hair on fire about Hurricane Dorian or not?  Because this match is beginning to burn my fing……YOUCH!

Meanwhile, we’re reached that point in the year when the change in the light owing to the shift of the sun’s angle becomes definitely noticeable.  I’ve always loved that.

We’re also getting some change in leaf color.  They’re also beginning to fall in a thin yet constant stream.  Again, this is all a couple weeks early for round here.  We’re about due for a hard winter.  Wonder if this means we’ll get one?

Speaking of leaves, I notice that the ferns on my back porch have become extra-shaggy.  They always seem to go through a growth spurt right at the end of summah.  In a minor bit of gardening triumph, I may say that three of them are last year’s plants which we brought inside over the winter and put back out this spring.  The fourth is a replacement for one which we kept inside.  Even though the three were a bit scraggly at the beginning of the season, you cannot tell any difference between them and the new fourth one.  We’ll probably bring them all inside again this year and see if we can repeat that success in the spring.

The porch potted palm has not been such a success.  It survived the winter inside but really hasn’t grown much at all this year.

Gazing further afield.  I’ve been promising myself for years that come fall I was going to dig up and separate out the root balls of some or all of my peonies.  Well, I’m really going to do it this year.  Stop laughing.

I have two regular hummingbirds at my feeder this year.  They’re both female, one somewhat bigger than the other, and spend a lot of time fighting each other.  Ornery little critters, hummers are.

Whelp, suppose I’d better go mow the lawn……

UPDATE:  Speaking of hair on fire, I read somewhere this week that 16 y.o. climate “activist” Greta Thunberg said she “couldn’t tolerate” people who are skeptical about global warming.

By a curious coincidence, Ol’ Robbo can’t tolerate precocious, delusional teenagers.  So I guess we’re even.

(Actually, what I really can’t tolerate is the people using this poor kid as a prop to advance their politickal agenda.  That’s child abuse, that is.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a few odds and ends from Meat-Space Robbo’s life?

♦  Went for my annual physical yesterday.  (Actually, it’s been two years since my last.)  I have a new doc, my long-time previous one having recently moved her practice too far away to be practical.  I think I like new doc, as she is no-nonsense and to the point, but she doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, which is a pity.  Anyhoo, although pronouncing me generally fit, she’s putting me on BP meds.  Not that mine is outrageously high, but it’s at the high end of normal and, according to the EKG, is beginning to have an effect on Mr. Heart.  I’ve got no problem with this.  What I do have a problem with is her recommendation that I cut back on wine and coffee.  When she made it, I smiled diplomatically and kept my thoughts to myself (thoughts running along the lines of “Wine glass….coffeve mug….cold dead fingers…..”).

Oh, and she gently pointed out the arthritis in my knees, which is not exactly news to me.

(And no, she didn’t do that exam.  In this respect, it’s probably just as well that she’s so cold.  Prior doc was kinda hawt and quite friendly, and it was only Ol’ Robbo’s Guardian Angel who prevented him more than once from making some crack about flowers or buying breakfast.)

♦  I received this week a potential juror questionnaire from my County.  This is the first time I’ve ever come close to jury duty since I got a notice about it 30-odd years ago.  (As I was in college in Connecticut at the time and the notice emanated from my home in Bexar County, Texas, I simply ignored it.)  This time I figure I’ll dodge it because the Great Commonwealth of Virginny has a statutory claim for exemption based on active bar membership and legal practice.  (No trial lawyer in his right mind would want another lawyer empaneled on a jury anyway.)  I duly checked the relevant box and sent the questionnaire back and don’t expect to hear any more about it.

Not that I’m active in Virginny anymore, mind you.  I passed the bar here in 1991 and maintained active status until I went to work for Uncle back in 2004.  Then I went inactive because Virginny requires annual CLE credits (which DC, where I’ve been active since the mid 90’s, does not), and Uncle won’t pay for them.  That I keep my membership in the Commonwealth’s bar at all (and hoik up the corresponding annual dues) is a matter of self-respect.  This way, I can still maintain the position that I’m a Virginny lawyer who happens to be practicing in Your Nation’s Capital, instead of a full-blown denizen of the Swamp, the last thing I ever imagined I’d be growing up.

♦  Recently, Ol’ Robbo has noticed a tendency in Youngest Gel to get half-way through a substantive sentence and then suddenly cut it off with, “Like…….yeah.”  Is this a thing among the Young People?  Once I became aware of it, it took on the status of an ear-worm and now drives me crazy every time I hear it.  Not that I’m not fighting back, mind you:  “Finish the thought.  FINISH THE THOUGHT!” is now my response of choice.

Kids today.  They’re young.

Well that’s all the news from Port Swiller Manor, where all the Mrs. R’s are strong, all the Robbos are good-looking (not!), and all the Gels are above average……..


Blog Stats

  • 464,761 hits
September 2019
« Aug