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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are again and I still haven’t got much. This coming week is crunch time down to the virtual office, after which I hope to ease off a bit and then actually take a much-needed vaycay.

As a matter of fact, we were planning to go on up ta Maine this year. Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been back there in four years now due to one thing and another and thought it would be very relaxing to revisit the old haunts. But you know? The logistics started getting complicated and the expenses started getting more expensive and it suddenly occurred to me that I was just too tired to do that much work in order to relax. So we cancelled. (There were no hard feelings amongst the wimminfolk, since the trip was primarily for my benefit anyway.) I will probably just potter about the house and maybe do a few day trips. Tubing on the Shenandoah has been mentioned already.

Speaking of such things, Mrs. R and the Younger Gels return from Wyoming this evening (which see below). I learned last night that Middle Gel isn’t even staying over, but must immediately hop in her car and head back to school because she has work tomorrow morning. I was a bit staggered by this and had to remind myself that I was 21 once upon a time, too.

It’s just as well that Mrs. R’s coming home because Decanter Dog has been missing her mommy and is on something close to a hunger strike. As much as she likes the rest of us, DD absolutely clings to Mrs. R. I’m told this is often the case with rescue dogs, that they’ll latch on to one person in particular. In Mommy’s absence, DD has spent the last few days doing nothing but sighing heavily and giving me the reproachful stink-eye.

Speaking of hunger, Ol’ Robbo paid a visit to the grocery store yesterday to pick himself up a nice steak for din-dins. Good golly almighty! Inflation? What inflation?

I went for a walk yesterday but hadn’t got far before a pack of wild Delta Variants came boiling around the corner, howling and slavering. I had to turn and run for it, feeling like a serf being pursued across the Russian Steppe by starving wolves. True story.

I keed, of course, but the renewed panic has got us concerned about Youngest. As much as we and she like her school, we’re not paying through the nose for another year of “virtual” learning. If they decide to pull that stunt again, she’ll probably wind up transferring to saner pastures. So far there hasn’t been any noise made, but we’re watching the situation somewhat apprehensively.

Whelp, that’s enough for now, I b’leive. Oh, one other completely unrelated item (because it’s my blog and I’ll bore if I want to). I recently got my Criterion Collection copy of “Red River”, the great John Wayne/Howard Hawks western. It’s always been a favorite of mine, but there’s one thing that bugs me every time I watch it: Montgomery Clift and John Ireland play the two slick, young gunslingers working for the Duke on the great cattle-drive. Toward the beginning of the film it’s foreshadowed (hell, Walter Brennan even says it) that eventually they’ll have to go against each other, just to see who’s the best. But it never happens. There’s even a place for it when the two become interested in the same girl, but it never happens. You just don’t tee up something like this and then not follow through on it – that’s just bad writing. So sayeth Robbo.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo sent this to me last evening, and I thought I would share. She and the younger Gels are visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons this week. (The haziness is due to the fires in California and Nevada.)

Meanwhile, Eldest and a friend did a day trip to Ocean City, Murrland yesterday, there to frolic on sand and in sea.

And here Ol’ Robbo sits, chained to his desk by work deadlines.

Grumble, grumble.

Matter of fact, I’ve been to Yellowstone, but it doesn’t really count. The ‘rents took me camping there but I must of been all of 18 months old. It did leave a mark, however, as the Mothe always ascribed my liking for fried eggs to my getting them for brekkers over the campfire while we were there.

UPDATE: Oh, I should also mention here that I’ve never actually been to OC or any other beach in Murrland (or Delaware or Jersey, for that matter). It’s like they don’t exist in my conscience.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

First, how about a spot of color?

This is my prairie cup-flower. Cheery thing, isn’t it?

They’re native to central and western Missourah and other parts of the Plains. However, this one was a present from Mrs. R’s brother-in-law, a cutting from one he spotted it in a roadside ditch in the Boston area, dug up, and put in his own garden. (How it got to Eastern Massachusetts I can’t imagine, but I bet its arms were tired!) It’s been happy enough here in Virginny over the years but even at about 6 1/2 feet it seems somewhat short this season, prolly because of the lack of rain.

And yes, it continues quite dry here. So much so, in fact, that I even made a start at trying to grub out some of the moss that plagues my front yard. The stuff comes out, but even dead and dry it’s a mug’s game to try and remove. Plus I can’t help thinking I’m only spreading spores all over the place anyway. I gave up after about twenty minutes. (Even as I type this, however, the sky is starting to turn somewhat ominous. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll catch a break. UPDATE: In fact, we got about a forty-five minute downpour out of it. Not as beneficial as a good, slow soaker, but every little helps, right?)

I’ve mentioned here from time to time my next-door neighbors’ adventure in putting in a vegetable garden this year. Well yesterday Mrs. Neighbor appeared at our front door bearing a bowl full of cucumbers and tomaters from said garden. It was a lovely thing to do. We got chatting and I asked her about Little Bunny Foo-Foo and his pals that I often see cavorting near their crop. She said the rabbits weren’t a problem, but the woodchucks have been playing merry hell. They’ve recently had to strengthen their defensive fortifications so much that the plots resemble not so much gardens as redoubts. I confessed that was why I pretty much confine myself to flower species the critters don’t much care about.

On a completely different subject, I see where teh Cleveland sports-ball team has announced it’s renaming itself after a leftist British newspaper. (I confess I don’t much see the connection.) Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember being reassured when Chief Wahoo was disappeared that this was as far as the club planned to go. Good thing I already have my “Wild Thing” edition DVD of “Major League”. Mayhaps I’ll watch it this evening just because.

Finally, a forewarning that blogging may be pretty light round here the next week or two, as a looming court hearing for work likely will kybosh already is kyboshing Ol’ Robbo’s leisure time and turning him into Busy Bee. And not Commodus from “Gladiator” murmuring “busy…little…bees”, but instead Hamilton Swan from “Best In Show” shouting, “Where is Busy Bee? Where is Busy BEE!! Whaddaya mean it’s not here?!! You go find Busy Bee RIGHT NOW!!!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo didn’t put up his usual Saturday Garden Post this weekend because after three hours working in the boiling heat, he staggered back in to Port Swiller Manor with all the traditional symptoms of heat-exhaustion and spent the rest of the day lounging with a damp cloth on his head.

Although still a bit woozy yesterday, after Mass I went out to pick up some branches and limbs that fell out of one of the trees during Saturday night’s non-storm storm. It was somewhat cooler and cloudier so I thought I’d be okay.


Five minutes in, I was literally dripping with sweat (a condition called hyperhidrosis), aching in all my limbs, and dizzy.

I’m still feeling it today and have already cancelled my plans to exercise later.

In my defense, I started early on Saturday specifically to try and dodge the heat but the temperature cranked up much more quickly than I anticipated and I got caught out before I realized it. Maybe saving lawnmowing for the evening now is not such a bad idea after all.

Yes, I can be taught!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter will recall Ol’ Robbo describing his ride out to summah camp with Youngest Gel at the wheel two weeks ago.

Well, today I went to fetch her back.

Owing to the fact that the Gel was there as a rookie counselor instead of a camper this time, she had to stick around for a longish staff debriefing after their charges had all gone away. This left Ol’ Robbo a goodish bit of time on his hands, so I decided just to park myself and contemplate the goodness of God’s creation.

It was wonderfully refreshing.

By the bye, even though the covidz broke out in the Gel’s cabin mid-term and she reports they were treated like a bunch of lepers for the balance, she really, really enjoyed her two weeks as a counselor-in-training and is already eagerly looking forward to doing the entire summah there next year.

And even as I type this, it suddenly occurs to me that today may very well have been my last visit to the place, as the Gel will take herself there next year and who knows if I’ll be around long enough to see grandkids attend. Funny, that. Thirteen or fourteen years of making the drive twice a summah and suddenly zhoom – it’ gone.

Glad I got a good, long opportunity to soak it all up one last time.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!


Ol’ Robbo thought he was going to get some relief from the doldrums yesterday afternoon. The sky went black to the west, thunder started coming down the wind, the air started to smell of rain, and then…..nothing. The storm lifted its skirts and slid by to the south of Port Swiller Manor.


I’m not saying we’re in a drought just yet, but this summah has definitely been warmer and drier than the last few we’ve had in these parts. The trees and shrubbery are starting to get cranky about it.

Also getting cranky is my work computer. I had a time of it yesterday getting thrown off both the work network and my wifi connection. But when I unplugged the laptop from its docking station, it seemed to work just fine. Ol’ Robbo knows nothing of these things. There’s never been an issue before. Is this change significant? And what is the root cause, the office, Verizon, or, as Eldest assures me, Mrs. R’s recent efforts to upgrade her wireless teevee viewing?

Speaking of Mrs. R, she’s normally in charge of distributing treats to Decanter Dog. In her absence, I’m pretty sure I’m being hustled. (It’s funny how I am impervious to the cats’ attempts to pry treats out of me but I can’t resist DD’s big eyes. Alas, she knows it.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yep, the continued string of hot, sticky days here has got Ol’ Robbo firmly in its grip. I recognize the signs.

Mrs. R has gone off up to Connect-ti-cutt to visit her folks for a few days. She messaged me, “Got here safely – only one near-miss in the Bronx!” That’ll wake you up in a hurry.

(We’ve always taken the GW Bridge and teh Cross-Bronx when headed north. The Tappen-Zee may be safer and easer but I just can’t stand the idea of going all the way up and around like that.)

I mentioned cable yesterday. Apart from the odd TCM offering and AccuWeather, the only two channels I watch at all are H&I for “Star Trek” reruns and INSP for old westerns. I noticed that these channels seem to run an inordinate number of commercials for hair-restorers, testosterone boosters, and hearing aids. “Heh,” I said to myself, “Just what sort of person do they imagine is watching…….Hey! Wait a minute!!

Oh, I suppose it’s Bastille Day. Those who wish to wipe out the past and start over at Year One should keep in mind how that little drama eventually played out.

I dunno whether the falling of the big maple in our back yard has anything to do with it, perhaps shifting territories or something, but I now have a problem with pileated woodpeckers attacking the porch supports. I confess I don’t yet know quite what to do about this.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got at the moment.

UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo used to be able to put his head down and just power through when he didn’t have time to eat all day. I find I really just can’t do that anymore.

Also, I would like to find the person who invented “Track Changes” and cause them some harm.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are again.

Over the weekend we got word that a couple cases of everybody’s favorite plague have broken out at Youngest’s summah camp, including one case in the cabin of 9-year-olds she’s counseling. Fortunately, the camp’s response wasn’t to disburse all the campers into the hills and burn the place to the ground, as it might have been last year. Instead, they sent home the sickies and have stepped up testing on anyone likely to have been exposed to them. But the notice we got also contains the following:

“Because the remaining campers in [the affected cabins] were exposed, we have created an even-more-separated camp experience for those cabins moving forward. Meals for these cabins are being served in the barn, and all activities will take place at an even-greater distance from the rest of camp.”

In other words, they’ve been banished to Siberia.

Youngest felt so bad for her little flock that she went to the nearest Party Barn on her day off and seemingly bought the place out. (Good on her.)

Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo received a poll in the mail from some outfit called the “Institute on Voter Attitudes & Public Policy”. Ha, ha, ha. As I’ve explained to countless hipster-doofuses with clipboards who have accosted me on the streets of Your Nation’s Capital over the years, the three things Ol’ Robbo does NOT give to strangers are his name, his money, and his opinions.

Nonetheless, I glanced over the survey. It’s the usual stuff – presidential approval, immigration, guns, abortion, public education, etc. But one question stood out:

“There is considerable debate in Congress over various plans to balance the budget. What do you believe is the best way to balance the budget?”

This actually made Ol’ Robbo laugh. The 1990’s called and want their debate back. When was the last time anybody in Congress seriously talked of “balancing” the budget? Heck, when was the last time we even had a budget, much less a balanced one? Get real. (The responses offered were the usual raise taxes, lower spending, or both. If I were to return the survey, I’d have scribbled in “In this bizarro world into which we’ve descended, what difference does it make now?”)

**Goes back to assembling his James Bond Sooper-Villain Hideout Lego kit**

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all had a festive and patriotic Fourth with plenty of grilled meats, adult beverages, and things that go BOOM! in the night.

Ol’ Robbo’s day was taken up with the Big Drive with Youngest about which I posted the other day.

Things started ill-omened enough. For one thing, I screwed up my alarm clock so that when I jerked awake at oh-dark-thirty, it was to the panicky realization that I was running late. Then when we got in the car I found that the Gel’s tank was practically empty, so we had a bit of a scramble to find a gas station open that early. Finally, when we’d picked up our coffee just before hitting the highway, the Gel announced that we needed to return home because she’d forgot “something”. (That “something” turned out to be her wallet.)

Oh, Lord, I said to myself, it’s not going to be one of those trips, is it?

Well, it wasn’t.

In fact, the Gel did just fine. Granted, there wasn’t much traffic, but she still had to pick her way around some tractor-trailer rigs and it was evident she knew what she was doing. For the rest, she was calm and focused, and set a good pace without being a maniac like Middle Gel, who channels Richard Petty every time she gets behind the wheel.

Indeed, I was able to unclench pretty early on, and we wound up having a nice chat about Life, the Universe, and Everything. The drive went quite quickly.

I learned earlier that Mrs. R had approached Youngest and asked her if she really felt she needed me to go along. “Oh, definitely,” she replied. “I don’t know how to get there!” (I should note that because of the tricky backroads at the end, GPS is useless.)

I put this to the Gel on the drive. “This is, what, your eleventh or twelfth summer at this camp. How on earth can you not know the way yet?”

“I always slept in the car, remember? I’d close my eyes and the next thing we were there!”

I suppose she has a point, but being such a geography nerd myself from a very young age, I find this attitude alien.

Anyhoo, we got there in plenty of time and the Gel was delighted to be back. I duly humped her gear up to her cabin and then drove back to Port Swiller Manor.

It’s our turn to host a barbeque in a small circle of friends and Mrs. R had at first toyed with the idea of having it on the Fourth. She reconsidered, however, when she thought about how tired I would be when I got back from dropping off Youngest. In this, I applaud her good wifely sense and consideration, because I was indeed pretty beat by the time I got home. In fact, I dozed off in the hammock, waking up just in time to cook our own modest dins and then to listen to the fireworks going off in the neighborhood. (There seemed to be a lot of them this year.)

I have to go retrieve the Gel in two weeks. Because of the camp schedule, we’ll be starting back on a Friday afternoon, not a Sunday morning, so the traffic more than likely will be pretty nasty. I’m sure the Gel will be quite worn out from counseling a gaggle of nine-year-olds for all that time, so I think I’ll just let her sleep on the drive home. So far as I’m concerned, she doesn’t need to prove anything more to me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s butterfly bushes are starting to flower nicely now, and the various flutteratti are beginning to attend upon them in growing numbers. Give it another week or two, and the garden will be chock-a-block with tiger swallowtails and those delicate little white ones that I don’t know the name of, coupled with various moths, the odd Monarch, and even some hummingbirds from time to time.

As I may have mentioned before, my garden is rectangular with a three-foot wide gravel path down the middle along the long axis. In those years when I’m lazy or distracted, the butterfly bush will eventually get so big that they block off the path all along its length. I’m determined not to let that happen this year, and so have already started pruning back stems which start to encroach. Funnily, I’ve taken to thinking of it as “keeping the pass open” and this imagery seems to be acting as a positive motivation.

Whatever works, amirite?

** As a former President about whom my opinion has vastly changed in hindsight might put it.

UPDATE: I meant to mention again that anybody who thinks butterflies just meander about aimlessly has never stopped to watch one closely. They know exactly what they’re doing. And when they’re dog-fighting with each other, their combat maneuverability is quite remarkable.

(And I made up that word ‘flutteratti’. Pretty pleased with myself for it.)


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July 2021