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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It isn’t often that Ol’ Robbo can sit out comfortably on the Port Swiller back porch on a Friday evening in the middle of January, but that’s exactly what I’m doing now.  Much to the delight of the kittehs, it’s still in the mid-60’s tonight and perfect for leaving the door open.  (Of course, it’s all going to go to hell in another six hours or so, as that big cold front is on its way in and will drop us back down below freezing for the next few days.  We may even see a thunderstorm beforehand.)

Ol’ Robbo found himself admiring a beautiful effect today:  The river is still frozen over, as are the various reflecting pools down on the Mall.  Because of the unusually warm air, both of them were throwing off fog all day.  The one on the river was low and very thick, while the one on the pools was more wispy and subject to being blown away by the breeze.  Each was lovely in its own way, and I only wish I could have snapped a photo of the former as I made my way home this afternoon.

UPDATE:  On a completely different note, what the heck happened to NoSalt? It vanished from my supermarket shelves, and when I look it up over to the devil’s website, it’s mighty pricey.  Has it gone out of production?  Killed too many lab mice? Elbowed out by Mrs. Dash?

Ol’ Robbo has been mighty fond of the gunpowder-y potassium chloride flavor over the years.  Sad! if I can’t reasonably get it anymore.

UPDATE DEUX: Well, a further look at the innertoobs suggests the stuff is still available elsewhere, but I still wonder why my Giant deep-sixed it.  Strange.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got detoured by the po-po as he made his way home this evening and had to navigate through several neighborhoods to get back to a main artery.

I may be completely delusional in this, but it seems to me that many more people are keeping their outdoor Christmas (excuse me, Holiday) light displays out later this year.  I’d like to think it has something to do with a heightened spirit of the season, but the skeptic in me suggests that it probably has more to do with the deep freeze that blanketed the area for the past couple weeks keeping folks indoors.

Heigh ho.

Speaking of such things, Ol’ Robbo took down the Port Swiller Christmas tree last weekend after Epiphany.  I’m happy to report that there were no successful ornament suicides this year, although I caught several of them lurking deep within the bows round back, just waiting for the opportunity to hurl themselves to the floor.

As is my wont, once I had stripped it, I hauled the tree round back and tossed it on the brush heap within the verges of the wood outside my back gate.  Interesting observation: It seems to take a fir about two years to fully decompose.  I tossed this one next to the brown and needleless hulk from last year.  The one from the year prior to that has completely vanished.

So long as it doesn’t go up too early, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t really care that much when the Christmas tree comes down.  On the other hand, I am delighted that this year Mrs. Robbo has agreed to let me keep my wreaths (front door and dining room table) and my new crèche out until Candlemas, (February 2nd).

(Also, although she doesn’t know it, I chalked the front door of Port Swiller Manor with Epiphany chalk this year.  20 + C + M + B + 18.  One of Ol’ Robbo’s goals this year is to quietly insert more and more of these little sacramentals into the daily routine of Port Swiller Manor.  I figure it will soften the blow when I eventually pull down on Mrs. R and start advocating for a Crucifix in the front hall.)

Oh, and continuing with this general line of thought, a glass of wine with staunch friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory, who recently sent Ol’ Robbo a couple of CD’s of Medieval Christmas Musick.  Since I’m going hard-core this year, they’re still perfectly seasonal and appropriate for the next few weeks!

**Strike that; reverse it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today starts the beginning of Ol’ Robbo’s holiday mini-vacation, but with all the running in circles with my hair on fire that I’m going to be doing over the next few days, I already feel like I’m going to need another one in order to recover from this one.  But I at least have a couple minutes in order to jot down a few odds and ends here:

♦  Our deeply-neurotic and mentally negligible spaniel has been going absolutely to pieces, what with the constant stream of holiday visitors and deliveries.  (It’s been feeling as if UPS stops by approximately every five minutes.)  She’s become such a nut that she’s taken to cooking off when the mailman stops at our neighbors’ houses.  I am thoroughly sick of her conniptions, as is everyone else here.  (UPDATE: She must have read my mind because she upchucked while I was in the middle of typing this.)

♦  I have to cut some fresh greens tomorrow with which to spruce up the wreath on the dining room table.  Since the one in our yard more or less gave up the ghost, the only pines from which I can get boughs in the neighborhood are those which stand at the main entrance into it.  I maintain to myself that I only prune them a very little bit, and that I always make sure to do so on the sides nobody sees, but I still feel very slightly like I’m doing something I ought not to do.

♦ Alas, I’ve received a couple of Christmas cards addressed to the Mothe from friends who evidently did not get the news of her passing.  I’ve felt obligated to write back to them and explain things.  It’s not at all a pleasant thing to have to do, and I feel bad for them.

♦  Speaking of which, I also keep getting surveys and questionnaires addressed to her from Medicare.  (In fact, I got one yesterday that referred to her primary doctor by name and invited her to rat him out if she believed he wasn’t giving her good service.)  Wasn’t it the Gipper who said something to the effect that government-run medicine would combine the efficiency of the post office with the compassion of the IRS?

♦  In case you’re wondering, no, Ol’ Robbo did not participate in his office “holiday” party this year.  I did, however, make a point of wishing everyone a Merry Christmas as I went out the door yesterday.  (Let them make of that what they will.)

♦  Also in case you’re wondering, Christmas Dinner at Port Swiller Manor will feature roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and two veg as always.  Why? Because that’s The Way Things Ought To Be.

Whelp, I had better clean up the dog’s mess and get on with my other tasks, too.  I’ll not wish you all a Merry Christmas just yet because I think I’ll have time and opportunity to do so more fully later.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Your Nation’s Capital

Ol’ Robbo happened to have his phone in his pocket when he went for his lunchtime walkies today, so he took this snap just for the fun of it. (Not pictured, of course, are the shriveled corpses of all those hundreds of children who have already starved just in Our Fair City alone under Trump’s tax overhaul.  The Park Service is under strict instructions to whisk them away as soon as they drop.  True!)

You’ll note how all the shadows are on the left (or north) side of the building, marking the sun’s farthest southward point of transit for the year.  I’ve walked past here literally hundreds of times on my lunch breaks, and I’m nerd enough to take note of such things as the progression of the sunlight back and forth across the dome.  (I do the same thing at Port Swiller Manor, too.  You’d be amazed -or not – at the glassy stares I’ve gotten from contractors, yard men, guests, and spouses when I’ve started gassing on about it.)

The other end of my walk brings me just short of the Washington Monument, which I also study each day.  Indeed, although I’m really not the creative type, from time to time I’ve mulled the idea of taking a picture of it from the same spot at the same time each day and then putting them together as a kind of “Year In The Life Of” display.

Eh, it’s an idea.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My porch thermometer registered 24 degrees this morning – first hard freeze of the season.

A day or two ago we pulled in off the porch a pair of hanging basket ferns and a potted palm.  I don’t know what we’re going to do with the ferns, but the palm lives in the basement for the winter.  Meanwhile, I went out this morning and chucked the rest of the porch plants, all of which plainly gave up the ghost last night.

I also wrapped up a pair of boxwoods in urns we keep down on the patio, first with layers of bubble-wrap around the urns and then double layers of tarp.  I did this last year (with bubble-wrap and burlap) and was able to keep the boxwoods alive, but then again last winter was pretty mild, so I don’t know what will happen if we get a colder one this year.

I’m also patting myself on the back because a couple weeks ago I took the rose, a Double Knock-Out that we keep in a pot on the porch stairs, and planted it out in the garden.  I’ll leave it there and simply get another rose for the pot next spring.

Finally, I took down the hummingbird feeder.  I reckon they’re long gone by now.  On the other hand, I’d swear the other birds were waiting for me to fill up their feeders. (Chickadees in particular, it is said, are quite intelligent.  I’m pretty sure the locals know me and know what it means when I come out with the bag.)

Then Ol’ Robbo got to spend a couple hours this afternoon moving leaves, which is always fun.  (It looks like we’re going to have another meh foliage season, by the bye.  I can’t remember the last time we had a really good one around here.  Must be Global Enwarmening or something.)

Finally, there’s the issue of when Ol’ Robbo is going to put the rear side-windows back on La Wrangler.  You’d be amazed at how comfy the cockpit can be with just the door windows up and the heater going, even when the temperature is below freezing.  (Of course, you need to be bundled up somewhat as well.  Youngest Gel insists that I keep a couple blankets in the car so she can cocoon herself whenever she rides with me.)  The real trouble is when the weather turns nasty – rain and snow.  Then you really need to bite the bullet and put on the rear sides.  Once I do put them on, they’ll stay on for the season, because cold canvas and zippers are a real pain to deal with.  I’ve gone so far as to bring them inside to clean and heat them up, although I still haven’t decided when to commit yet.  As for the rear window, I leave that rolled up for all but the worst weather (I’m talking blizzard conditions here).  Indeed, last year, I didn’t roll it down once.

So there you have it.

UPDATE:  And yes, Ol’ Robbo knows it’s Veterans’ Day.  In fact, Middle Gel’s school choir sang at a local event honoring the day, at which she got to meet our Congress-critter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely Saturday at Port Swiller Manor today.  The weather’s supposed to break tomorrow, but for now porch-sitting and dinner grilling is the order of things.

The leaves are starting to come down, but fortunately not in such numbers that I can’t simply run them over and mulch them in as I mow the lawn.  That’s an image that has always given Ol’ Robbo an immense amount of satisfaction, by the bye; the clean, green swath through the dapple of oranges and browns.  I also love the smell when leaf mulch gets up on to the mower chassis and starts to smoke.

So on the one hand, Mrs. Robbo went down to Flahrduh to visit her parents and grandmother (who just turned 94) this weekend, while on the other the Eldest Gel came home from school for a little R&R after finishing up her midterms.  She and I and the Youngest sat around for about an hour this morning, companionably trading observations and anecdotes about the insanity of the world around us.

Ol’ Robbo was pleased that the Gels were so chummy with each other:  For a long time, the Eldest thought the Youngest so social, flighty and frivolous that it was only a matter of time before she turned up one day with a pierced nose, tats all over, a biker boyfriend, and/or a head full of SJW Cultural Marxist propaganda.  And out of a spirit of what can only be called divilment, the Youngest loved to jerk on the Eldest’s very short chain.  As a result, there was a period of almost continual feuding between them.  Fortunately, while the Youngest remains extremely social, and does in fact have a Young Man (a very good kid, by the bye, who is causing ol’ Robbo little or no anxiety),  she is increasingly showing the skepticism and common sense with which Mrs. R and I have spent all this time trying to equip her for dealing with Life.

Skepticism (about worldly things) and common sense.  To that, I’d also add Faith (in Godly things), although we’re still working on that one.  (Middle Gel is the only one of the three who I would describe as explicitly Christian, in that I know she spends a lot of time thinking about it.   The other two have the Spirit in them as well, not very far down below the surface, but still not as consciously developed.)  And what is both remarkable and gratifying is how strong an armor this combination is proving to be as they navigate the pitfalls of this wretched world, whether it be peer-pressure, academic brainwashing, or media assault.  There are still many things on my Dad Card for me to worry about, but that any of them will turn out dupes, snowflakes,  or wrong ‘uns is not one of them.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just done mowing the yard here at Port Swiller Manor and wondering how many more times this year I’ll need to do so.  Twice at the most, I reckon.  At the moment, there’s a large flock of robins out back going over the trimmings.  We generally have a few hanging around all year, but I think this is probably a migratory bunch on their way from hither to yon.  Certainly the hummingbirds seem to have packed up and left.

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo’s lawn-mowing turned out to be a Sunday chore this week because we spent most of yesterday visiting my godparents, who live about an hour away from us.  Uncle and I had a long talk about the Mothe – he’d known her nearly 60 years – and I’ve been feeling a good deal better since.

Meanwhile, on a completely random note, for some mysterious reason the shopping cart I was pushing around the store today in search of this evening’s din-din components kept building up a static charge:  I could feel my hair pringling and got my fingers zapped every time they moved off the plastic bar onto the bare metal.  Very strange.  Perhaps Black Lectroids were trying to contact me?  That would explain the voice in my head that keeps saying, “Hallo! Mah nem is Jon Pahrker!”

In the World of Baseball, congratulations to the Astros for holding off the Yankees in the ALCS.  I don’t think a Yankees/Dodgers series would have appealed to many folks outside their respective markets, but I imagine now the ‘Stros will be the favorites of the rest of the country.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Five o’clock and time for a glass of sherry!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy autumnal equinox!

Ironically, while the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor received its first blast of fall coolness in mid-August (three or four weeks early, in fact), we’re back up to more summah-like temperatures this weekend.

Go figure.

Speaking of which, Ol’ Robbo was intensely amused this week to see, via Ace, an article from Pravda on the Potomac admitting that the “science” behind Glowball Enwarmening is, well, maybe not quite so “settled” after all:

The new research, thus, seems to potentially empower a critique of climate science that has often been leveled by skeptics, doubters and “lukewarmers” who argue that warming is shaping up to be less than climate models have predicted…
Overall, the dispute raises questions about how widely the carbon-budget concept has proliferated — and just how much we actually understand it.
“It goes to show, this carbon-budget approach is still much more, let’s say, immature scientifically than what we often assume,” [Center for International Climate Research’s Glen] Peters said.

“Immature”?  You misspelled “fraudulent”.  This has never been about science, but always, always, about politics and inventing justifications for centralizing authoritarian power.

The back of my hand to it.

Anyhoo, Mrs. Robbo bought me a power washer this week and I intend to take advantage of the balmy weather tomorrow to use it on, well, anything that comes within range, I suppose.

Including Mrs. Robbo.

[Insert malevolent cackling here]

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sitting out on the Port Swiller Manor porch on what amounts to a beautiful early October morning, it’s hard to fathom what’s happening or about to happen Down South.  Prayers for all friends of the decanter in Flahrduh, and stay safe!

Ol’ Robbo has a personal interest in this one because most of Mrs. R’s family live in South Flahrduh along the Atlantic coast.  The In-Laws bugged out the other day and are staying up here until it’s over, but they had to leave Mrs. R’s grandmother, who is too frail to move, and several sets of aunts, uncles, and cousins also decided to ride it out.  It’s not that I worry they’ll drown or get crushed by debris.  Instead, I worry about the aftermath – utilities gone, food and water running short, etc., etc.  Fortunately (at least for them), as of this morning it looks like Irma’s track has slid a little farther west and they’re more and more likely to be spared the brunt.  Hard cheese for those on the Gulf side, though.

As I say, hard to fathom from here.

Anyhoo, here’s some inconsequential nonsense:

♦  I am delighted to report the presence of no fewer than three separate hummingbirds at my feeder this year.  Last year I had two, and the year before – when I first hung it out – only the singleton.  They’re all hens (if one can properly use the word “hen” for the females of this particular species) and spend most of the time fighting one another.

♦  Speaking of hen-fights, Ol’ Robbo saw an article this week reporting that somebody was going to film an all-grrrlz version of “Lord of the Flies” and some Socialist Juicebox Wankers are upset because grrrrlz could never possibly treat each other that way.  I mentioned this item to Middle Gel, who only laughed.  “Do these critics even know any girls?” she asked.

♦ Speaking of movies, Ol’ Robbo watched the 1950 version of “King Solomon’s Mines” the other evening.  I try to like this film, I really do, but I always come away from it with a feeling of “meh”.  I think it’s because the story is good but the acting is flat.  Deborah Kerr does nothing for Ol’ Robbo, Stewart Granger (at least in this film) seems pretty wooden, and Richard Carlson’s English accent is ridiculous.  Are any of the other film versions of this story worth a dekko?

♦ And on the same topic, has any friend of the decanter ever read the Rider Haggard book on which the KSM films are based?  Ol’ Robbo has not read any Haggard himself but means to one of these days.  I probably ought to get on to that before they’re banned by the Thought Police.  (Toxic masculinity and British Imperialism, you know.  Can’t have that!)

Well, speaking of getting on, I suppose I had ought to finish my kahfeh and go mow the lawn.

UPDATED:  Done and done.  Do you know how much rain we’ve had in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor this year?  Enough so that I have not once been able to get through mowing the entire yard without stopping to clean the mud and wet clippings out of the blade housing, usually more than once.  That’s how much.

And while I was mowing, I said to myself, “Self, why don’t you just try reading “King Solomon’s Mines” yourself?”  So, as I had other biznay just now over to the devil’s website, I picked up a copy.  While I was at it, I also picked up Hugh Walpole’s “Rogue Herries” for no other reason than that John Cleese mentions it in the “Cheese Shop” sketch and I’ve always been curious.

I’ll let you know what I think.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool, rainy morning here at Port Swiller Manor (my thermometer says 57 degrees at the moment) and ol’ Robbo is very comfortable in a pair of old corduroys and sweater as he sits on the porch with a large cup of kahfeh and a cat trying to climb into his lap. (No, Kitty! That’s mah keyboard!)

And this is Labor Day weekend?

In fact, after a very mild summah here, fall is making its first appearance about a month early.  Even a few of the leaves are starting to change color already.

Not that I mind at all, at all.  Fall has always been my very favorite season for a variety of reasons.  Plus, this sort of weather drives the Globull Enwarmening crowd bonkers, or at least shuts them up for a bit.

Speaking of things early, or rather not, Mrs. R and the Younger Gels are off to Ikea this morning (despite the weather) and I couldn’t help noticing that, in the fine old Family Robbo tradition, their setting out was both delayed and complicated.  I have never, ever, understood this kind of behavior:  When one determines, “We will leave the house at 9:30 am,” then, logically, every member of the party is supposed to plan accordingly, working their preparation timelines backwards so that they will be ready and assembled at the garage door at, say, 9:25 am.

How difficult is this?

And yet every single time I set such an arbitrary step-off, I find myself standing around and fuming as various family members suddenly, for example, discover they can’t find shoes, or need to throw something in the dryer, or all need the bathroom at the same time, or change their mind about what to wear.

It’s exasperating to ol’ Robbo because I have always been fanatical about punctuality.  (Middle Gel once complained about her choir director’s  rule: If you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re late, don’t bother coming.  I applauded it.)

Anyhoo, the Gels were less than specific about exactly what it is they “need” from Ikea, but I’ve an idea it’s going to involve one or more heavy boxes full of shelves, backing, metal dowels, and those counter-clockwise anchoring nuts, and it’s also going to involve Ol’ Robbo dragging said box(es) upstairs and digging out my tools.   I had thought of doing some early fall work in the garden, but it’s really rather soggy for that.  Guess I’ll be laboring inside instead.


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