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

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Suspecting, not without reason, that if left to himself Ol’ Robbo would never get round to it, Mrs. R signed me up for my annual (well, it’s probably now triennial or quadrennial) checkup the other day.

As you might gather, I’m not fond of my current doctor. She’s a scold. Coffee? Bad. Meat? Bad. Wine? Baaaaaad. At my last visit, about the only vice she couldn’t find in me was free-basing heroin. Also, she both over-diagnoses and over-prescribes. Pills, pills, and even more pills. This is contrary to my personal philosophy that the taking of medicine should be restricted to the absolute minimum necessary. (The Old Gentleman was a doctor and so is my brother, so I grew up with no illusions about what it can and cannot do.)

So why do I stay with her? Shear inertia. Plus, I admit I’m getting to the age where building up a baseline relationship makes more and more sense, and I shouldn’t be hopping about. (Alas, my previous doc, with whom I’d been a long time and did like, switched to a concierge practice and relocated to extremely inconvenient new digs.)

The good news is that the checkup couldn’t be scheduled any earlier than the end of April, so I’ve got that long to get into some serious training. At least I’ve got a good motivator.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those of you keeping track of such things will be pleased to learn that Youngest Gel successfully drove herself back to Ohio yesterday, even dealing calmly with a snowstorm that caught her between Morgantown, WV and Columbus. She checked in with us at various breaks and, I suppose fortunately, in that it spared me additional worry, didn’t mention the snow until after she’d cleared it. I may say that I’m rayther proud of her.

The Gel stalled around quite a bit about heading back to school. First it was going to be Thursday. Then Friday. Then 5 ack emma Sunday. Then 8 am, when she finally left. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be at school and wouldn’t enjoy it once she was back, just that she felt it took so much more energy to motivate herself to start the journey than it did when she came home before Christmas. I guess she just hasn’t broken away quite yet.

Ol’ Robbo still distinctly remembers his own “break point”, if you will. It was Christmas vacation my junior year. One afternoon a couple of days before I flew back to school, I suddenly had the oddest sensation. Looking about the house, I realized, “This is all ending. In a very short time, I’m not going to live here anymore. Life as I’ve known it up till now is going to change. Forever.” The shock of it all made me sit down hard, and I’m not sure there weren’t a few tears, too. From that point forward, even when I came home for the summah, I always felt more like a visitor than an inmate.

As I say, Youngest isn’t there yet. (Middle Gel is, I believe. Eldest is working from home at the moment, but there may be some news about that in the near future.)

By the bye, Youngest was teasing me about the drive. She’s already picked up the sensible habit of stopping at familiar waypoints for gas and food, but she stops three different times on the eight-hour trip. And not only that, but she actually goes in and sits down for ten or fifteen minutes to rest, fiddle with her phone, and whatnot. “That would drive you nuts, wouldn’t it,” she laughed. You’re durn right it would.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A balmy 12 degrees above on the Port Swiller Manor porch thermometer this morning, and not for the first time these past couple weeks. Ol’ Robbo recalls now that the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a chilly winter in the East this year. Evidently, they knew what they were talking about. At least it’s sunny and calm today, as the latest threatened nor’easter decided to move out to sea instead of up the coast. (They’re already talking about the possibility of another one sometime next week.)

Fortunately, there’s really not much that needs doing outside these days, so I need not venture out much except to let Decanter Dog out and in. I’ve noticed that she seems positively indifferent to temperature and, much to my irritation, will sometimes loiter about on the porch even in artic conditions while I try to shoo her back into the house after her biznay is done. This contrasts completely with her attitude toward precipitation: She loathes the rain and sometimes almost literally needs to be kicked down the back stairs in it. (On the other hand, she adores snowfall. Go figure.)

This also contrasts with Decanter Kitten, who always insists on going on the porch when I let DD out. She’s intensely sensitive to the cold. As soon as she realizes how chilly it is, she makes a bee-line back to the door. I don’t much understand this, as she’s a Maine coon and has a long, very thick coat. Nor do I understand why hot weather doesn’t seem to bother her much. But there it is. (Decanter Cat, who is a short-haired tabby, avoids going outside altogether when it’s even a bit chilly but will bask in the heat of summah all day. This, at least, makes some sense to me.)

Anyhoo, here it is near the end of January and Ol’ Robbo is already craving the return of warmer air. This “sick of it” date seems to creep farther forward each year with me.

Ex “Post” Facto UPDATE: Garn, I typed too soon! I’d just settled in with a fresh cuppa kawfee and Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time when I was gently reminded by Mrs. R that she’d made an appointment to take her Honda Juggernaut in for service and I’d promised to tag along and give her a ride home. So much for my hibernal plans.

On the other hand, it got closer to the freezing mark this afternoon than I’d anticipated, so as I was oot and aboot anyway, I harnessed and coated Decanter Dog and took her for a long walk in the woods. It was enjoyable.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, perhaps to spite my noodling on the upcoming baseball season below, once again Port Swiller Manor has been on the receiving end of a visit by Snow Miser. Alas, though, this time the storm was completely useless, leaving an inch or two of snow over a layer of wet slop on my driveway. Not enough to be pretty, but too much for Ol’ Robbo to simply ignore.

I had to laugh. After former (heh) Gov. Northam’s It’s-you-peasants’-own-damn-fault I-95 blizzard debacle a couple weeks ago, new (*chef’s kiss*) Gov. Youngkin was telling everyone in no uncertain terms to stay home this weekend. Plus, VDOT had the pre-treatment down on my street three or four days ago. Overreact we much?

This is actually pretty typical of the behavior that grips this area during the winter months. A lowball miscalculation about one storm has The Authorities in a state of panic over every other storm for the rest of the season. (That’s part of the reason for the label for these posts.) We used to see this all the time when the Gels were in high school. One superintendent in particular was never able to live down the time he refused to clear the schools early and everyone got caught in an ice-storm trying to get home that afternoon. It’s only when we have a truly heavy winter that everyone eventually calms down and just learns to deal with it.

Anyhoo, here we are. We’ve already seen more “snow events” (I hate that term) so far this year than we did for all of the past couple years. They’re already making noise about another one maybe next weekend, a prospect which concerns me simply because that’s when Youngest is supposed to drive back to Ahia for school. We shall see.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Isn’t it funny how one can get idea associations so firmly locked into one’s head.

Youngest, who doesn’t go back to school for another week or so, went out with a friend to a fondue restaurant last evening.

Ol’ Robbo has never actually been to this place, but in my mind it has orange shag carpet, a hot tub over in the corner, and ABBA playing on the sound system. This image is so firmly stamped on my braim that I believe it wouldn’t change even if I actually went over and eyeballed the premises myself.

I can’t think why the association is so strong. True, the only time I’ve ever actually had fondue myself was at a friend’s house during my misspent yoot in those benighted times (when it first really got popular in the States), but my friend’s parents did not choose to decorate this way. Perhaps something out of pop culture? Despite the title of this post, I never actually watched that series. But perhaps there was a very special episode of the Brady Bunch where Peter and Jan got into a squabble and wound up spilling melty cheese all over Marsha’s dress right before her big date? (If there wasn’t, there ought to have been.)

Anyhoo, there it is. Fondue and the 70’s. Inseparable to me.

UPDATE: There! Since posting this, I’ve had “Take A Chance On Me” running on a loop in my head. (Share and enjoy!) Not only that, it’s the Muppet Show cover featuring the weird, long-legged birds hopping up and down on power lines. I worry me sometimes.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The other evening – I suppose it was while I was watching the college championship game – I caught the Kentucky Fried Chicken teevee ad flogging its new plant-based fake chicken.

Not that I patronize KFC anyway, but if the Colonel believes I would ever eat that stuff, he’s vastly, vastly mistaken. I’m almost tempted to swing by and get an order of the real deal just to make the point.

Ol’ Robbo hopes this ersatz offering goes the same way as New Coke.

UPDATE: Know what puzzles Ol’ Robbo? I’ve been taking a lunchtime walk round the neighborhood most days since house arrest began, yet even now I still get the side-eye from time to time. Am I really all that seedy and scruffy looking? Does my perpetual squinting trigger them? What do they think I’m going to do, mug them on a quiet, suburban street in broad daylight? (Yes, my presence would be more explicable and perhaps acceptable if I had Decanter Dog along with me, but she’s starting to age a bit and is no longer enthusiastic about walkies the way she used to be.) Yeesh.

UPDATE DEUX: I just now remembered what I wanted to mention: Some weeks back the Heroes and Icons Network (H&I) bumped “Star Trek: TOS” from prime time to the middle of the night, replacing it with the third hour of “Walker: Texas Ranger”.

Their ratings must really have taken a hit or else they’ve received a lot of blowback, because last evening I saw an ad announcing Captain Kirk and Company are returning to their original slot. I laughed. It was a stupid move in the first place.

(No, Ol’ Robbo is not a “Trekkie” in the pejorative sense. But I like to have the option to flip on favorite episodes when they appear.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No, the title does not refer to this week’s bookend snowfalls in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. Rayther, this has just turned out to be one of those Saturdays where the big tasks seemed to keep hatching baby tasklettes which kept me going sideways.

First came the take-down of the Robbo Family Christmas Tree. It did well up through Epiphany but had already started taking on that droop indicating that the end was near no matter how much water I gave it. I do believe that, for once, we got all the way through the season without a single ornament going for a burton, and I managed to box up and store the lot without any sneaky stowaways remaining in the branches. The tree itself has now joined the remains of its predecessors in the woods out back. I notice that it seems to take two to three years for them to decompose. Last year’s is still a skeleton, the prior year’s a crumpled heap, the rest a mere handful of dust.

Speaking of seasonal decorations, longtime friends of the decanter will know of Ol’ Robbo’s austerity when it comes to same: Wreaths on the front door, a wreath on the dining room table, a tree, a creche, plus a few doodads put out by Mrs. R. That’s it. This has always been the source of some grumbling among the family, but I have my limits.

Well, on Christmas Day, family and friends were gathered together in revelry when Middle Gel suddenly fixed Ol’ Robbo with a gimlet eye and said, “You know, Dad, when I have my own house, I’m going to go completely nuts with Christmas decorations: Blow-up yard balloons, outside lights on everything, garland everywhere, the works! And I’m going to do it just to spike you!”

She will, too. At least once, before she realizes how much bother it all actually is. The Gel is really sweet-natured but when she decides something is going to happen, it’s pretty much going to happen. Iron fist in the velvet glove, that one.

Next was the new teevee. Yes, Mrs. R had saved up her Amex points and got a 55-inch flatscreen for the living room. Here, I’m the victim of my own good idea. Back in the earlies I’d envisioned the living room as somewhat formal, a place to entertain bosses and muckety-mucks and the like, so we furnished it accordingly. Such entertainment never actually came to pass, and we wound up not using the room for much of anything. Then one day, about a year and a half ago, I got it in my head that maybe we should forget the formality and just make it comfortable. So, we I repainted it, while Mrs. R found a large, leather sectional sofa cheap on Craig’s List and a big coffee table from what I now believe was a fence for stolen property. Thus, we made the change. The result is that almost every moment it’s too cold to live on the porch is now spent here.

Almost immediately after we made this change, Mrs. R started advocating for the teevee. “For family movie nights and watching tennis tournaments and such,” she said. I’d stuck in my heels because the older I get, the more I crave peace and quiet, and abhor chatter coming out of electronic devices. I feared that once we put it in, there’d be no escape for Ol’ Robbo from all that racket, no matter where he fled in the house. Besides, Mrs. R already has a small teevee in our bedroom, and there’s a perfectly good big one down in the basement. (Don’t ask me to explain why Mrs. R won’t go down in the basement.)

And yet….here we are. We had a fellah come out and mount the thing professionally yesterday, but I don’t need to tell you who had to spend the morning rearranging the furniture to make optimal use of it. Mrs. R swears she won’t watch the thing when I’m around or trying to read, and evidently there’s some arrangement by which she can use headphones connected to her phone, but we’ll see how that all works out.

Running my weekly errands in town, I noticed mask mania has come back with a vengeance. Freakin’ sheep. I also noticed numerous bare shelves at the store, and overheard at least three distinct conversations along these lines:

Customer: Is it because of all the snow?

Clerk: Nope, supply-chain problems. We just can’t get replacement stock here fast enough to keep up.

But My Betters assure me that all is well.

And speaking of which, Virginia has just started assessing a five-cent tax on plastic grocery bags, a measure Ol’ Robbo didn’t even know was being considered, much less passed. In the checkout line, the cashier explained the charge and asked if I still wanted the bags.

“Yeah, let’s go Northam,” I said.

The fellah behind me in line (who was also maskless) looked guardedly amused. The cashier laughed outright.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Once again, Ol’ Robbo finds himself with a handful of ungerminated post idea beans which, like Jack, he will fling into the ether and see if any sprout into stalks.

First, happy Feast of the Epiphany! Ol’ Robbo means to get out and chalk the Port Swiller Manor front door a little later, but only when Mrs. R isn’t looking. To her, this sort of thing is a little too close to hocus pocus, and when she notices what I’ve done she always wipes it off. UPDATED: Mission accomplished. Alas, my handwriting is so bad these days that I could plausibly explain the chalking as owl scratches.

The post-Christmas diaspora begins today with Middle Gel heading back to kollij. Alas, in an attack of foolishness her school just announced that the first two weeks of classes are going to be on-line. We’ll see if it’s only two weeks. (Magic 8-Ball says “Don’t bet the farm on it.”) The Gel’s birthday is coming up shortly and she had arranged with some of her classmates to do one of those “Escape Room” outings. That, it seems, also has been scrubbed because some of her friends won’t be back in time now. UPDATED: Youngest doesn’t go back until toward the end of the month. Her school just put out an update that they are still anticipating regular operations. Magic 8-Ball is still giving me the same reply.

Speaking of travel, it looks as if we’re gearing up for another possible Storm of the Century of the Week tonight in these parts. (The Gel will be well south of it before it hits.) Given the complete balls-up on I-95 due to the storm last Sunday (which my soon-to-be ex-governor is now saying was us rubes’ fault), you can expect the panic over this one to be that much sillier. UPDATE: I meant to mention that our last snowfall was really quite lovely; wet and heavy snow that stuck to all the trees. It’s all blotchy and uneven now, so a couple more inches would be a welcome restorative. UPDATE DEUX: HA! Ya got that? HA! HA!

Speaking of silly panics, yeah, I know what we’re all supposed to be mourning today. I still recall the breathless post an acquaintance put up on FacePlant that evening: “Just wanted to let everyone know that we’re home, 15 miles from downtown, and that we’re SAFE!” Gawd.

Bearded Spock Universe Alert: I found out this morning that Eldest Gel watched “Rebecca” (1940) last evening, the one with Olivier and Fontaine, and really enjoyed it. What was Ol’ Robbo watching at the same time? “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (2004). Before you ask me to hand over my agonizer, I will say in my defense that I was tired. Also, it really is a funny movie.

Well, that ought to be enough for now.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers.

Yes, I already updated the post below today, but decided to put up a new one just to report that Ol’ Robbo has become the latest victim of the doubtless “climate change” -induced storm that just came through.

Yes, I managed to fall on the ice while hacking it off the Port Swiller Manor driveway a while ago.

I’m happy to report that I don’t seem to have injured anything, except, perhaps, my pride. And even that wasn’t so bad, since I managed to scramble back to my feet before anybody saw me.

But still….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Oh, boy! Oh, boy! Oh, boy!

2022 isn’t two full days old yet and already we’ve got a snowstorm coming into the Port Swiller Manor neighborhood tonight!

Ol’ Robbo has been watching the forecast evolve all day. Currently they’re calling for 4 to 8 inches and high winds. If it pans out, this would be the “biggest” storm we’ve seen in a couple years now. We haven’t really had the chance to dissolve into our traditional white stuff panic for some time, so this may prove to be an excellent opportunity to let loose. The Weather Gang reporting is beginning to get a bit giddy already. Mrs. R also reports that the store was full this afternoon with people stocking up.

‘Course, it doesn’t mean as much to Ol’ Robbo as it did back when we still had “snow days” down at the office. With everyone teleworking now, that particular bit of fun is long gone. On the other hand, if I have to work, at least I can say to any of the Gels who might want to get out later on and want the driveway cleared, “You know where the shovels are: Do it yourselves. I’m busy.”

Well, we shall see what happens.

UPDATE: Well, it’s certainly coming down hard this morning as advertised. Decanter Dog is delighted. She detests rain and hates going out in it, but snow makes her frolic like a puppy again.

Meanwhile, it’s been a couple years since Ol’ Robbo got to rant about snowplows knocking down his mailbox. Will this prove to be another opportunity? Stand by.

UPDATE DEUX: Maaaybe 4+ inches altogether. And to my surprise, I did get help with the driveway. Mailbox status? Unbashed. And once again, we’re spared the necessity of burning the library and eating the pets.

Apres Le Deluge UPDATE: Well, while Ol’ Robbo gently jests about his experience, looks like things were actually pretty bad south of here. I know that stretch of I-95 very, very well. For whatever reason, drivers always turn especially aggressive between Quantico to the north and about Ladysmith to the south, with the vortex centered at the 17-South exit just below Fredericksburg. Whether the tractor-trailer crash was the fault of lunatic truckers or VDOT’s road prep, or some combination thereof, I dunno, and of course I’m not laughing about that. What does amuse me is that there appear to be those who are blaming Glenn Youngkin for it, even though he won’t be sworn in until January 15th.


Blog Stats

  • 488,968 hits
January 2022