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bootsGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent the morning taking another slap at the leaves round Port Swiller Manor until the unexpectedly continuous rain  caused him to finally give it up.

As I laced the ol’ Bean boots for the first time this season, it occurred to me that I have owned them longer than any other single piece of clothing in my collection.  I recall that we got them in preparation for my going off to Connecticut for college in the summah of ’83, along with some turtlenecks and several Norwegian sweaters that I lost a few years ago when Mrs. R jihaded the wardrobe after we had the closet and bathroom redone.  Mrs. R claims it was an accident, but I have my doubts.

Anyhoo, the ol’ boots have never let me down.  Are they still a thing, or is this another of my anachronisms?

The jeans north of the boots in this pic are another matter altogether.  I know I’ve written about it before, albeit a very long time ago, but it is one of Robbo’s little idiosyncrasies to only own one pair of jeans at a time, and to wear them until they literally come apart at the seams before buying another pair.  The current incumbents are on their last legs, with frayed seams all around and holes under the back pockets which would be of a lot more concern were I not a boxer man.  As it is, I won’t wear them in public at all and will only venture out into the yard in them with a jacket or shirt tail strategically positioned over the Port Swiller posterior.


"'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.'  And squirrels.  Pretty sure there are squirrels."

“‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.’ And squirrels. Pretty sure there are squirrels.”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cloudy, cool, quiet, mid-autumn day in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor today.  The Eldest Gel and I were discussing the weather not too long ago and agreed that the very best time of the year in these parts is from about the middle of October on up until around Thanksgiving.

So ol’ Robbo spent the morning pottering around the yard doing autumnal things.  I mowed the grass for what will probably be the last time this year.  I cut back the peonies and brought their stands in.  I took down the hummingbird feeder.  And I had a bash at the current crop of fallen leaves, some with the mower and some with rake and tarp.  We’ve had very little rain recently, so they’re all nice and crisp and quickly break up into mulch, rayther than smothering everything under them in a dank blanket.  (They’re also easier to haul out into the woods for dumping.)

Finishing up around noon, I thought I could spend the bulk of the afternoon loafing but suddenly got one of those infernal phone calls:  Mrs. Robbo was down at the Post Office with the Middle Gel getting the latter her passport and I needed to haul myself thither because it turns out it’s necessary for both parents to witness a youngling’s application or else provide suitable documentation why only one has legal custody.  (I think this has to do with people trying to sneak their kids out of the country without their ex’s knowledge or approval, but I’m not sure.  Thankfully, I know almost nothing about custody battles and most likely never will.)

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Mrs. R and the Gel had been sitting around and waiting since around 10 A.M.  I got there around 12:30 and spent another two hours listening to babies squeal and limited-English types having their application errors explained to them.  (Middle Gel remarked that it was worse than the DMV.)  Fortunately, the pace of processing rayther picked up toward the end, as it seems a lot of people simply gave up waiting, so our turn came faster.

Oh, and there were a couple of teenagers with clipboards out front shilling for Bernie Sanders.  Idjits.

Fortunately, it’s all over and done now and din-din supplies have been got from the store, so I can now make myself a cup o’ tea and get down to that loafing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Thunderstorms over Port Swiller Manor last evening followed by a cool, crisp, breezy, get-all-those-windows-open Saturday.  This is one of the reason ol’ Robbo loves fall so much.

♦   Ol’ Robbo found himself yesterday wandering around the preparations for today’s big rally on the Mall marking the 20th anniversary of the “Million Man March”.  The theme this year is “Justice or Else” so I’m sure a good time will be had by all.  It was quite eerie to hear a muezzeen (sp) chanting out the noon prayers over the P/A system.

♦  On a small historickally-related note, the only protest ol’ Robbo ever attended during his misspent undergrad days at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown CT – where they have protests all the time, buckaroo – was when Louis Farrakhan came to speak on campus.  Pretty sure radical militant Islam is not the answer to race relations in this country.

♦  Speaking of pressing issues, ol’ Robbo notes that the Radical Left seems edging toward an outright call for two things: Gun confiscation and all-powerful, legislation-trumping executive authority.  These are bad, bad things and have absolutely no place in a Constitutional republic.

♦  Speaking of bad, bad things, via the Head Ewok (fbuh), read this article by a northeastern liberal arts college prof about trying to teach the special snowflakes under his charge.  Pathetic.  Ol’ Robbo rails against the special snowflake culchah so much that Mrs. R and teh Gels are sick to death of the expression.  Nonetheless, I feel it is my greatest responsibility as a parent not to let them fall into that trap.  (I think the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way on this, by the bye, as such things as draconian speech codes, “trigger warnings”, and “safe rooms” are coming under increased push-back and mockery.

♦  On a totally different note, Mrs. Robbo fulfilled one of her life’s desires this week by getting a paper shredder.  The study now looks like one of AlGore’s globull warmening speech venues the day he’s supposed to show up.

Well, I suppose that’s enough for the moment.  Middle Gel (who is going to the homecoming dance tonight) wants me to clear off so she can play some X-box.  Time to go see about unclogging the field drains and taking a first swipe at the season’s leaf-disposal.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo remarked t’other day about how he was looking forward to the arrival of autumn.  Well, I’m seeing more and more signs of it.

First, I noticed today that the bright yellow goldfinch coloring seems to be fading somewhat.

Second, I noticed that the stink bugs are suddenly back with a vengeance.  Judging from the number of them crawling all over the porch screens today, I think it’s going to be a bumper year.

Third, while watching the singleton hummingbird that has visited our feeder since I put it up in mid-summer, I got wondering when she is going to vanish.  (They winter along the Gulf, you know.)  Given how many calories they burn and how often they need to refuel, how the heck to they manage such distances?  What’s the range of a hummer on a single fueling?   How do they manage to find weigh stations along their path?  How long does the migration take?

Kinda mind-boggling when you start to contemplate it.  And heck, ol’ Robbo is in the Mid-Atlantic.  The hummers are still loitering around even at Sistah’s place up ta Maine.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The first genuine rainy day for a while in the port swiller neighborhood gets ol’ Robbo out of having to mow the lawn this morning, so how about a few idle observations?

♦   The kid at the hardware store this morning asked me if I needed help taking a 20 pound bag of bird food out to my car.  I know he was only trying to do his job but my first instinct was to punch him.  Do I look that decrepit before my morning coffee?

♦  As a matter of fact, I think I am getting kinda decrepit.  I crocked my right elbow kayaking on vacation.  That was the last week of July.  It hurts worse now.  Eh.

♦   Can somebody put me some knowledge about why this “deal” with Iran is so “historic”?  From what I understand, they get pretty much everything they want – self-monitoring, a big wodge of cash, etc., while we as a country are cordially invited to go stick our collective head in a pig.  Meanwhile, I gather all the Important People have little side arrangements of their own attached to the thing.  In the real world, that’s not a deal, it’s a sell-out.

♦  And what’s even more worrisome, the GOP-controlled Congress is in on it.  Most non-political junkies don’t know that the Senate adopted a procedural sleight of hand weeks ago making it near impossible for the actual substance of the deal to be voted on this week.  All you’ve heard about over the past couple days is simply an exercise in what Ace calls “Failure Theatre”.

♦  Oh, and while on the topic, let me just again reiterate that immigration without assimilation is invasion.

♦  And then they wonder why Teh Donald’s popularity is surging.

♦   Speaking of failure theatre,  stick a fork in the Nationals’ season because it’s done.  As is, I think, Matt Williams, whose chief flaw is an apparent inability to properly handle a bullpen.  Curiously, as I watched them drop their fourth straight game in a loss against the Fish last evening, all I felt was numbness.

♦   Speaking of handling things, it’s looking more and more like the Pope’s upcoming visit to Dee Cee is going to cause havoc.  We haven’t been told to go ahead and stay home yet, but they already making noise about telecommuting – something I’m not authorized to do because I don’t have an agreement in place.  Wouldn’t be surprised if unscheduled leave and/or closure don’t come into play.

♦   And no, I’ve no interest in trying to go see the parade.  I simply can’t warm up to Papa Franky.  If he isn’t an actual proponent of liberation theology (which, IMHO is nothing more that Marxism in a dog-collar), he sure sounds like one.

Whelp, time to go throw myself in the hammock and listen to the rain.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo apologizes again for the dearth of meaningful posting here.  I’ve been spending a lot of time away from teh computer lately, either soaking in the first hints of approaching autumn (my favorite season of the year) or else glued to the teevee (in fact, frequently yelling at it much to the annoyance of my family) in anguished suspense, hoping my beloved Nats can catch the Mets.  (We’re only down by four now, having swept the Braves this weekend, and open a home stand against the Mets this afternoon.  It’s gonna be yuuuge.)

In the meanwhile, Robbo is enjoying this Labor Day by pointedly refusing to mow the lawn and also by reveling in de lamentations of de vimmin, as it’s Back to School tomorrow morning for the Gels: Senior, sophomore and 8th grader.  Where does the time get to?

In the meanwhile, a few idle observations:

♦   At long, long last, I have actually started some preliminary work on the idea I have long nourished of trying to compose another entry in the Flashman Papers that covers Flashy’s involvement in the American Civil War.  Granted, so far it’s nothing more than taking notes on references to his adventures there as I read the other novels, but hey, it’s a start, no?  I reckon to be poking at this off and on for the rest of my sentient life.

♦   My big plan for today is to wash La Wrangler.  If you knew how infrequently I actually do this, you would be impressed:  It must be a good three or four years since the last time.  I’ve always felt there was something wrong with the sort of people who are compulsive about keeping their wheels shiny.

♦   Watched “Annie Hall” last evening for the first time in years.  Eh, I can see that it’s well done but, apart from “Sleeper” Allen’s stuff doesn’t age well with me.  (BTW, I hadn’t noticed before that Christopher Walken played Diane Keaton’s little brother.  I had to stifle a comment about more cowbell.)

♦  My poor brother has to have back surgery this week – blew a disc through too much running.  I’m glad that my own shot knees give me the excuse not to have to indulge in such an unhealthy pastime.

♦  Message to GOPe:  Calling conservatives dupes and morons is not going to attract us back into the fold.  Just saying.

Whelp, off to give the car her bath and then settle in for the game.  What else can one say except


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat becalmed, creatively-speaking, no doubt due to dog days of summah fatigue.  It happens.  So here are just a few things:

♦   Pulling into my garage at work this morning, I overheard one of the guards opining to another that “we ought to have free health care and college here like they do over in Europe.” I wanted to leap out, grab the man by the neck and shake him violently.   The pure ignorance of this sentiment becomes more and more critically important the closer the progressivistas push us to Euro-socialism.  Let me repeat then (although I know all of you know this already) a fundamental fact of reality:  Where goods and services are provided, there is no such thing as “free”.  Ever. Period.  Somebody has got to pay for it, otherwise it won’t be produced.  Argh!

UPDATE: And that somebody in the world of rainbows and unicorns, of course, is teh gub’mint.  Allow me to quote Peej O’Rourke’s description from “All The Trouble In The World” of Milton and Rose Friedman’s identification of teh four ways money is spent:

1.  You spend your own money on yourself.  You’re motivated to get the thin you want at the best price.  This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2.  You spend your money on other people.  You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse.  This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3.  You spend other people’s money on yourself.  You get what you want but price no longer matters.  The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4.  You spend other people’s money on other people.  And in this case, who gives a shite?

Most gub’mint spending falls in category four.

How does one convey this to the Free Shite Army?  No idea – send ’em to Venezuela for a while, I guess.

♦   I continue to enjoy the phenomenon of Teh Donald, but I am amazed at some of the reactions his advent has caused on the Right among people I never would have thought would shill for the Establishment.  I am particularly puzzled by those who scold that we shouldn’t be “duped” by his hucksterism.   Well, I dunno about anyone else, but this certainly isn’t the case with me.  I know perfectly well exactly how awful he is.  The only reason I am even considering voting for him is nicely summed up in a bumper sticker proposal I read somewhere (slightly sanitized here because family blog): “Trump ’16:  Because Screw You, GOP! That’s Why!”

UPDATE:  Again, I am no “Trumpkin” as his supporters are sneeringly called by some.  I’m not like that woman at the Mobile rally photographed looking like she was meeting Elvis-come-back-to-life.  In fact, my order of preference is probably Jindal, Cruz, Walker.  However, Jindal doesn’t have the national mojo and Walker has been disappointingly quiet.  OTOH, I think Cruz and Trump have some kind of understanding, which could prove very interesting, indeed.  But this is the first election I can see myself voting specifically against something, and that is the corporatist, amnesty-pushing, get-along-go-along RINO squishfest known as the Republican Party.  I’ll simply sit on my hands and watch it all burn before being sold out by them again.

♦   Middle Gel is off with some of her friends to see a Mystics basketball game this evening.  Frankly, I had forgotten they even exist.  How much money does the WNBA actually pull in?  (Oh, and they’re all (the Gel and her friends, not the Mystics) coming back to Port Swiller Manor for a sleepover afterwards.  Groan….) UPDATE: The gels sat courtside and had a good time.  MG tells me the crowd wasn’t all that big, which doesn’t surprise me because the whole WNBA thing has always had a sort of Title IX flavor to it.  I wisely slept in the basement, as Daisy kept barking all night at the noise the gels were making in MG’s room.

♦   Meanwhile, my beloved Nats seemed to be playing with more verve and passion this week, having briefly got back up to full strength, but a new round of injuries is giving me moar ulcers.  The Mets have got to choke sooner or later, haven’t they? Haven’t they?  UPDATE: Whelp, the Mets did lose last night, but so did we.  This is what happens when you load the bases with nobody out and can’t capitalize.

♦   The nice weather round here this week has allowed ol’ Robbo to go back to his lunchtime walkies.  I like to do a loop around the Mall that adds up to about three miles and change, and stick with it at any temperature up to about the mid 80’s.  (I take a particular perverse delight in making my circuit in cold, wet, nasty weather, but I think that’s just my Inner Scot coming through.)  Today I was watching a number of birds feeding out on the grass as I marched by when I suddenly remembered a character out of a book (“Bored of the Rings” possibly?) who amused himself by arranging breadcrumbs in order to get flocks of pigeons to spell out rude words.  I find it makes folks a bit nervous if you’re walking along and suddenly start snickering to yourself.

♦  Finally, speaking of weather, it would be nice if TS Erika (or whatever it is) came on up the East Coast because we could use some of that sweet, sweet rain.  We got a fair amount over the first half of the summah, but it has been pretty dry since mid-July.  I put this down to the fact that we finally got a landscaper to put in some extra drains and retainer walls to deal with the flooding problem we’ve had for years here.  (Port Swiller Manor sits on a hillside and all the runoff was coming straight down the driveway and ponding against the garage and front of the house.  Flooded the basement out a couple years ago.)  Rain stopped almost the exact day they started work.  As an old comic strip I used to love put it, “They’ll do it every time.”  One of the catch-phrases from the strip, “The Urge to Kill”, is still in the family lexicon.  UPDATE: Well, so much for that.

Since I’m still in the fiddling-around stage with my new iPhone, here’s a snap of some of the new anti-flood measures:










"Semper vigilo"

“Semper vigilo”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has discovered that the more comfortable Daisy the Port Swiller Dog has grown with her surroundings, the more possessive of them she also has become, to the extent that she starts barking her fool head off every time she imagines she hears or sees something violating the Port Swiller Manor perimeter.  I expect the neighbors are all heartily sick of it by now.  Certainly it gets on our nerves at times.

Back in the days of my misspent yoot, we had a Scottie who used to do the same thing, much to our annoyance.  When you told him to shut up, he’d offer to bite you.  If you moved in on him threateningly, more often than not he did bite you.  Indeed, one of my books of Haydn piano sonatas still bears his teeth marks from when I tried to swat him with it for making so much noise while I was trying to practice.

Daisy is a bit different.  When you tell her to shut up, she simply feigns incomprehension.  (Oh, there’s feigning going on there, alright.  No doubt about it.)  If you move on her, she collapses into an invertebrate jelly and makes you feel like a cad.

Just like Jonah Goldberg’s Cosmo the Wonderdog had his Jacobin squirrels to deal with, Daisy is obsessed with a Progressivist groundhog who has a burrow in the raspberry bushes in front of the garden.   She spend hours on the porch surveying the back yard and hoping to spot him in his comings and goings, again going into hysterics whenever she spots him.  And every time we let her out into the yard for a potty break, she makes a bee-line for the burrow in order to check it out.  She then goes to the spot in the fence where said groundhog is accustomed to getting through.  (I did not realize before that groundhogs possess the same superpower as cats, in that they can make themselves two-dimensional for purposes of slipping through cracks.  Fortunately, dogs do not possess this power.)

Amidst all the hubbub, I simply try to remind myself that dogs are gonna dog.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found himself able to skip mowing the Port Swiller Manor lawn today owing to the recent bout of dry weather.

b-flies2With the unexpected extra time on my hands, I not only got through some entries on Mrs. R’s honey-do list, but I also had some time to play around with my new iPhone out in the butterfly garden and try some pics of its denizens.

Most of the 25 to 30 or so butterflies that can be found there at any given time are Papilio glaucus, otherwise known as the eastern tiger swallowtail.  I know they’re common as dammit, but I think they’re quite handsome things nonetheless and love to sit out watching them fool about.  The ones with blue on their tails are the females.

b-flies(Incidentally, a little observation quickly establishes that butterflies do not flit around aimlessly – they are quite capable of extremely sophisticated aerobatics when they want.)

We used to get some monarchs now and again, which seemed mostly attracted to the butterfly weed that I used to grow.  I haven’t seen any this year, although this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t around.

There are also a few other species that I haven’t identified, plus several kinds of moths including a small, white one and also this thing: moth

Plus, of course, all the honeybees, bumblebees, various other winged insects and hummingbirds.

It gets rayther crowded in there sometimes.

When I started out with the Port Swiller Manor garden fifteen years ago, I had highly ambitious plans for something carefully and cleverly laid out.  It was going to have all kinds of subtle color combinations and a steady flow of blooms from earliest spring right through till the frost.

Well…..the demands of time, energy, money, predation by various varmints and critters, all these factors gradually persuaded me that such vaulting ambition really wasn’t going to work out.  So I fell back on what I have now – a Dryad mishmash of Buddleia running rough-shod, some cupflower, a few iris and foxgloves in the shade.  It generally reaches its peak in late July, after which the morning-glory starts taking over.  Aside from cutting it all back in late winter and doing some weeding early in the growing season, I pretty much leave it to itself.  And as I say, it’s full of butterflies and whatnot all summah.

Some day, perhaps, I’ll plot out a few sections to reintroduce some other varieties: butterfly weed, milkweed, coneflower, sunflower and the like.

However, things are good enough for me for now.

UPDATE:  I believe that last chap is a silver-spotted skipper and is actually another butterfly, not a moth.  The big head threw me.






Daisy At Her Post

Daisy At Her Post

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself overwhelmed by the number of inquiries from friends of the decanter about the status of Daisy, the Port Swiller Manor canem of which all villains should cave.

Whelp, I’ll tell you this:  We’ve had the old girl for about three months now.  She’s a sweetie.  She’s loyal and protective.  Ut-bay, e-shay’s ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you get my drift.  At least, I think she isn’t.

For one thing, teh dog is obsessed with the Jacobin Groundhog Menace.  Said groundhogs had a burrow in front of teh garden gate when Daisy arrived on the scene and we had a bit of a kerfluffle blocking off exit points around the perimeter fence to keep her from chasing them out of the yard.  Eventually this was done and I’m sure the groundhogs have long since shifted their base of operations, but Daisy is still convinced they haven’t abandoned their original post.  Every time we let her out, she makes a bee-line for the spot, and when she’s out on the porch she spend all her time watching it (which see).  Indeed, recently she’s taken to stalking the hole and to spending considerable time parked in front of it…..just in case.

Daft animal.

Another thing is her attitude to doors.  If a door (specifically, the one out on to the porch) is open by so much as a crack, teh kittehs will pull or push on it in order to get through.  Indeed, if it’s closed, they’ll hurl themselves against it until somebody comes along to let them through.  Not so, Daisy.  Unless the door is open sufficiently wide to let her pass through completely unhindered, she’ll sit and stare at it in consternation.

Daft, daft animal.

The other thing is her evident fondness for a tennis ball with a squeaker in it (again, which see).  We’ve taken to calling said ball her “binky” and she hates, hates to be parted from it.

As I say, I think she’s not that bright, but I’m not completely convinced.  When confronted with Alpha-male authori-tah, teh dog has a passive-passive-aggressive approach that would cause Alexander to start pulling his hair out in frustration.  Trying to discipline her is equivalent to trying to discipline Jello, and about as effective.  This may just be what it is, but part of me can’t help thinking it’s by design.

Were Daisy a cat, I’d have no doubt whatsoever that I was being pawned.  It’s only the fact that she’s a dog which gives me doubt.

Anyhoo, that’s where we are.

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