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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is there some kind of postal regulation that gives a mail carrier the discretion not to serve a box if, in his opinion, it doesn’t meet a given set of safety and anchoring requirements?  Ol’ Robbo is inclined to think there must be, as it’s the only reason that comes to mind to explain why Port Swiller Manor has been boycotted the past couple days by our mailman.  (The only other reason I could think of is that we’ve become victims of the “cancel culture”, but there’s nothing visible outside to give us away as potential targets, and I doubt if the USPS is organized or competent enough to carry out such a campaign on a systemic level.)

What happened was this:  A few weeks back, our box got clipped again for the umpteenth time since we’ve lived here.  The snowplows often get it, but we have our fair share of “clear conditions” hits, too.  One wouldn’t think this likely, since the road is quite straight with a modest uphill grade, but people manage it nonetheless.

This particular strike revealed that the wooden base that sits athwart the crossbars and on which the box is anchored has rotted out over time.  Not having the time to attend to it properly, I just wedged it all back together.  Since then, it’s been disintegrating steadily, and a couple days ago I was reduced to just setting the box atop the wreckage.

I suppose this was just too much for postie.  Not only has he not delivered our mail the past two days, he hasn’t picked up our outgoing stuff either.  (The neighbors confirm they haven’t had any issues.)  He might at least have told us, you know.  Or perhaps slapped a “condemned” sticker on the box.

Anyhoo, all this prompted Ol’ Robbo to get off his duff and fix the damn thing properly this morning.  This entailed ripping out all the rotten stuff, digging some fresh lumber out of the workshop, measuring, sawing, and hammering.  I must say that there is a certain keen enjoyment in successfully completing a job like this (and without getting hit by a car myself).  And, if I may say so, that mailbox ain’t going nowhere now.

At least until the next time somebody hits it.

UPDATE:  My surmise seems to have been correct.  The box was full of the usual bills, catalogues, and college solicitations this afternoon when I got home. Evidently, the postal gods have been appeased.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Per the post below, Ol’ Robbo finds himself loitering about awaiting the garage door repair guy this cold Saturday morning.  So let’s get to it.

♦  Even as I type, I’m watching the wisteria on the porch stairs dropping its leaves, as we had our first really hard freeze this week.  Guess who forgot to pull the ferns off the porch before this happened.  **Whistles, shifts eyes hither and yon**

♦  Another thing I haven’t got round to yet is putting the back seat side panels back on La Wrangler.  I suppose I ought to do so, especially as there’s actually a chance of snow Tuesday, but cold canvas is such a pain to deal with.  Also, the increasing darkness reminds me that half my dashboard lights are out.  I can’t read my speedometer at all without them.  No, officer, I don’t know how fast I was going…..

♦  I had forgot, until I saw it again last evening, that Sally Kellerman was in one of the very first episodes of Star Trek: TOS.  I had to laugh, because I can only ever think of her in one other acting role, and the line, “G_d dammit, Hotlips! Resign your G_d-damned commission!” kept going through my head.  (Yes, Ol’ Robbo is easily amused.)

♦  Youngest has been in charge of closing at her kawfee shop the last day or two.  I asked her how that was.  She says that after working the kitchen crew at Bible-thumper camp and having to clean up the dining hall three times a day after a couple hundred campers go through, it’s a piece of cake.  Heh. (Oh, and she loves her that sweet, sweet paycheck.)

♦  Speaking of working yoots, last weekend when I dropped in our local hardware store, a voice said, “Hi, Mr. Robbo!” I looked up and saw that it was one of the cashiers.  She was a tall gel of about Youngest’s age.  I couldn’t place her at all.  Ol’ Robbo isn’t used to being called out like that and I was so flustered that I just managed to hem and haw enough for politeness sake.  It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered who she was: the pitcher on several little league softball teams I helped coach back in the day.  But she’s about twice as tall as she was the last time I talked to her, so I reckon I’m entitled to a bit of slack here.  Next time, I’ll be prepared.

Well, looking back out the window, I see that buzzards seem to be circling the yard.  I suppose I’d better go see what that’s all about.

And on that note, Epstein didn’t kill himself.

UPDATE:  Door fixed.  Whatever the buzzards were after was just inside the wood line behind the back fence.  That area is so covered with bramble and briar that I couldn’t get back in to it, so I can neither confirm nor deny that it’s Hunter Biden.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was scheduled to have his tufts of hair cut back this afternoon, but at the last minute couldn’t make the appointment.  And why?  Because one of the Port Swiller Manor garage door torsion springs chose today to commit suicide, thus trapping La Wrangler inside.  (I actually heard the thing snap earlier but couldn’t figure out the noise.  It was only when I tried to get out that I discovered the problem.)

I confess that I did NOT see that one coming.  And thank Heaven I was not counting on doing a supply run to the store and Total Bev today, or it could have got ugly.

(Repairman is coming tomorrow.  For those friends of the decanter in the immediate Dee Cee area, we use Academy Door & Control and have always had a very good experience with them.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s porch thermometer indicates that we hit the freezing mark overnight, and there’s definitely frost on the grass this morning.

I recall one Halloween years ago when we went trick-or-treating with my semi-cousin’s family and it was this cold, but as a general matter, first frost seems a bit early this year.  I blame Glowbull Enwarmening.

In fact, we had a line of thunderstorms move through here on Halloween this year, followed by strong north winds for All Saints Day.  So you can guess what Ol’ Robbo has on his to-do list for today.  Looking out of window, I’d say the maples are now about 50% shed, and there’s certainly enough leaves down to warrant a clean-up.  At the moment I haven’t completely decided whether to attack the ones on the lawn with blower or mower, but I’m leaning toward the latter:  It produces a beneficial mulch, and there’s something aesthetically pleasing about cutting clean swaths of green through a blanket of dull browns and yellows.  Plus, I need an excuse to use up the rest of my gas.

For some reason, Mrs. R seems particularly solicitous in urging various sources of “help” for me this year.  First she suggested our yard guy, which would be a complete waste of money.  Then she suggested the son of a friend of ours.  I dunno why she’s doing this.  I’m not that decrepit, yet.  But it did give me the opportunity to say, “Stay off my lawn!”

UPDATE:  Mower it was.  The grass sort of needed it anyway.  Another thing I like about mowing leaves is when little bits of them get into the engine and start to smoke.  The smell is quite nice.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Middle Gel went back to school this morning.  If I actually sat down and did the math of what time she left Port Swiller Manor and what time she got back to campus, I think I’d be appalled.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This weekend’s big – and long anticipated – activity was a trip by Mrs. R and Self down to Sweet Briar College, there to see a staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“.  Eldest Gel is playing Robin Starveling, the tailor, one of the rude mechanicals bent on putting on a hapless “play-within-the-play” to celebrate the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.   It isn’t a lot of lines, but there’s a good deal of physical humor involved among the bumbling dopes, and Eldest also got to do a good bit of stage biznay when she represented “moonlight” via a lantern, some thorns, and a small toy dog.   She got a number of laughs with her antics, and overall a good time was had by all.

This was the second time this professor had put on MSND in his long tenure at SBC and the first time he has ever repeated a show.  The last time he produced it was in October, 1990.  The part of Starveling the tailor in that production?  None other than Mrs. Robbo.  (And I myself played Lysander.)  We were all able to get together with the director after the show, catch up on things, and have a nice chin-wag about how things work out sometimes.  We were also joined by Eldest and by her friend who played Lysander this time.  The latter apparently had been quite nervous about performing in front of me, but I was able to assure her (truthfully) that she did a great job and brought back many pleasant memories.   As I say, a good time.

UPDATE:  No, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t really see how his beloved Nats are going to manage to take two off the ‘Stros in Houston again.  But you never know…….

UPDATE DEUX:  Ol’ Robbo didn’t actually watch the game last evening because I was too worn out from our lightning trip to SBC and back.  I gather from reading up on it that the Trump family went to the game and were booed by the crowd, most of whom of course were not regular Nats fans but instead the preening elites who can afford World Series tickets.   This may have played well amongst other preening elites, but it seems to have pretty much destroyed any goodwill the Nats had among genuine baseball fans across the country.  Nice going, Sparky.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to be tied up with an event all weekend (one to which I have looked forward for quite some time and about which more anon), so I decided to take advantage of my day off to attend to some fall chores.

We’ve reached that point in the year where the fallen leaves begin to be an issue so I was out at first light late this morning raking the driveway.  As I’ve mentioned frequently, we live on a pretty busy street and our driveway slopes down away from it toward the garage.  A layer of leaves, especially a wet layer of leaves, can be as slippery as ice.  The thought of Mrs. Robbo or of Youngest Gel trying to make the necessary jack-rabbit left turn to get out, and then losing seconds fishtailing in the face of oncoming traffic, especially in the dark, regularly fills Ol’ Robbo with a sense of horror.  Thus, I am somewhat fanatical about trying to keep the drive clear.

I also cut back my peonies today.  Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo annually muses that he really ought to dig up and divide out his peony root balls, and, when the time comes, just as consistently decides to put it off till next year.  Well, things haven’t changed.

The hummingbird feeder is now emptied, washed, and put away.  I actually haven’t seen the critters for a couple of weeks now, so I think it’s safe to assume they’ve cleared out for the year.

It occurred to me as I was hauling leaves out into the woods behind our back gate that this is the time of year when it’s not a bad idea to start keeping a weather eye out for bears, as they do get into the neighborhood every so often.  Eldest actually spotted one four or five years ago as she was swinging on our rope swing out back.  She called me at work.  I called Animal Control.  They informed me that they “don’t do bears”.  The next day I read that this one (it must have been the same) killed somebody’s dog the next ‘burb over from us.  (I must remember to mention this to Mrs. R, as she takes Decanter Dog on walks around here almost daily.)

Other than moar leaves, I don’t see that there’s much else left to deal with this fall.  Barring a sudden heat wave, I doubt the lawn will need another cut, and all the garden pruning is a late winter/early spring thing.  One remaining issue is the four ferns on our porch.  We brought them inside and put them in our mawster bawth last year, but it turned out to be something of a squash.  They recently built a new greenhouse over at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and Mrs. R is trying to find out if maybe we can drop them there for the winter.  For the Children, you know.

So that’s that.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Recently somebody gave Mrs. Robbo a sweet-briar rose cutting, one that actually came from one of the bushes on the Sweet Briar College campus.  (I’m not sure if this was some kind of alumnae thing or else just somebody being nice.  The original plants from which this cutting descended date back to about 1920.)

Ol’ Robbo loves it when plants come to Port Swiller Manor with some sort of association or history about them.  (Of our other five roses, three are former Mother’s Day presents from me to Mrs. R and two come from my parents’ old house up to Maine.)

The thing didn’t look like much when it arrived, but I set it on the porch and dully watered it anyway.  This past week I noticed it had thrown out new leaves, so I planted it out in the bed this morning.  (I figure it’s probably another three or four weeks before I need to worry about frost, which should be plenty of time for the thing to establish itself.)  We’ll see how it does.

It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realized just how large rubiginosa can get.  If this one thrives, I’m either going to have to be vigilant about pruning, or else move some things around.  But we can leave that until the spring.

And speaking of roses,, the one I planted out last week unprotected shows no sign so far of being eaten by beasties.  That’s very encouraging, although I’m not yet ready to take the wire off the other ones.  The deer ’round here are starting to fatten up for winter and I notice trees and bushes being stripped of leaves that are otherwise left alone over spring and summah.  Why give them any more temptation?  I also haven’t seen Mr. Groundhog lately and he’s always a wildcard in these matters.

BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES UPDATE:  Youngest is out working this evening at the snack bar of our local little league field.  The snack bar is supposed to be manned by parents of players on a volunteer (that is to say, non-paying) basis.  The Gel is being paid some serious coin by a pair of such parents who don’t want to have to blow their Saturday night.

I don’t mind that she’s bringing in the jimmy-o-goblins, but I must say that I can’t think much of the people who bought their way out of their league participation. (This is the second time the Gel has landed such a gig, and from a different family.)  Does that seem a bit strange to you, too?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Maybe six months ago, our neighbors got a dog, some kind of little collie/mutt.

Last weekend, while laboring in the Port Swiller vineyards, Ol’ Robbo noticed the family lining up in procession in their backyard and solemnly, sadly, walking toward the woods behind our houses, headed by Dad carrying a suspiciously pet-sized bundle in his arms.

I speculated to Mrs. Robbo at the time that it looked like something might have happened to the dog.  Well, it turns out I was right.

Our neighbor’s yard is not fenced in, and I had noticed in the past that they sometimes let the dog out on its own to take care of biznay.**  Apparently, they had done so for his late evening call of duty the night before I saw them.  He flushed something out of the bushes and then chased it out into the street where he got hit by a car.  (We live on a busy road.)

I found all this out today because they’re now planning to fence in their back and wanted to know if they could anchor their fence to ours and save themselves having to put in a redundant fourth side.  (Of course we said yes.  I think this actually violates a county ordinance but I don’t care.)

The worst part of it all is that they have three small children who were evidently quite fond of the pooch.  Of course death is an unavoidable aspect of pet ownership, and in fact can be a useful thing to help youngsters to grasp the concept and learn how to deal with loss.  But like this?  Sheesh.

St. Francis, ora pro nobis.


** This always bugged me a bit, but we don’t know them well enough for me to have shoved my oar in.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Back in the day when Ol’ Robbo’s daughters were little, he had no compunction about putting up posts about their trials, tribulations, growth, and development.

These days? Well, regular friends of the decanter will know that all three of them are pretty much grown up.  Ol’ Robbo finds himself confronted with real ethical issues about posting on anything that might impinge on their privacy.  Which is a pity, since the Gels’ Progress is the chief focus of my interest these days.

So I have to pick and choose very carefully.

With all that in mind, I feel it’s safe enough to note that Youngest (the high school senior) started her part-time gig as a Starbucks barista this week.  Ol’ Robbo was a bit surprised.  Apparently, newbie employee training lasts a good three weeks, and includes all kinds of courses on coffee appreciation, as well as technical proficiency, and the usual H.R. bumf.  I had had a vague notion, based on my own entry-level service jobs back in the day, that she’d just have been thrown into the mix and told to learn on the fly.  Apparently not.

Go figure.

Anyhoo, the gel has never been a coffee drinker herself.  Be interesting to see if this experience reinforces that, or if as a result she comes over to join me on the Dark Side.  (Coffee is the alpha of my day.  Who here can guess at the omega? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

Also, as far as her employer goes, let me reiterate that although I avoid giving them money whenever I can, I’ve no problem taking money from them in these circumstances.

And while on the subject, how about a little Bach?  Never mind the text of this bit, which has to do with metaphors about cats and mice, the bottom line of this cantata is “Coffee is Da Bomb”:




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