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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On the eve of his last day of work before a very much needed summah hols, Ol’ Robbo finds himself mulling this and that:

♦  Long time friend of the decanter Diane asks:

– How did it get to be August? Seriously, I feel as if July just poked her head in the door to say hello, then disappeared. I realized this morning that in another week, maybe two, I’ll be driving to work in the dark again. Oy.

Ain’t it da troot?  At least  for myself, I have a ready explanation:  In the past six weeks, I’ve had to make three trips out west for work, including the two-week trial-prep/trial one I just finished up.  Still scary to contemplate how quickly it goes by.

And now we’re rolling into another interesting Fall of Things: Eldest Gel starts her sophomore year in college; Middle Gel is doing the college application thing (with her sights set on early admission at one place in particular which I will go into at another time); and Youngest starts her sophomore year in high school….well, staying out of trouble and hopefully realizing now that if she hopes to get good grades, she’s actually going to have to, you know, earn them herself.

Diane also goes on to note:

– Something is up at my elderly neighbor’s. When I came home Monday, they had a trailer backed in to their parking bay, and a van pulled up in the center. One of their sons and his wife were loading things up, and I overheard bits of “Goodwill or toss?” conversations. As of today, the parking bay, which had been a sort of extra storage spot for the couple, is pretty much bare. Not sure if this is just a huge purge, a purge because they plan to move, or something else. Have never met the son and wife, so didn’t want to pry.

I’m guessing I know exactly what is going on there.  I won’t get into details in this post, but I expect that part of my upcoming hols is going to be devoted to the very same scenario.  The Mothe is not at all well.

♦  Well, okaaaay, then!

♦  Ol’ Robbo has come to a very succinct formulation of a belief that applies to his interpretation of much of what is occupying the headlines these days:  Government is a necessary evil, and politics is a false god.

Kinda covers the bases, don’t you think?  Aaand discounts most of them.

What’s that, comrade? Get my coat, we are going for a ride? Very well, but……..

♦  In the Department of Complete Random, yes, yes I just did indulge myself by purchasing a Sam Grant bobblehead.  Got a problem with that?  I pass his Memorial every day on my lunch-time walkies, and never fail to ruminate on what a decent, modest, but firm and clear-headed fellah he was.

♦  We just destroyed our first yellow-jacket nest of the year.  (Well, we had an exterminator do it for us.)  What would summah around Port Swiller Manor be without a yellow-jacket nest manifesting itself somewhere in the grounds?  At least this year I didn’t discover it by walking straight in to it and getting numerous stings as a result.

♦  Gimme.  No, I am not kidding….

Okay, that’s probably enough for now.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  Ol’ Robbo finds himself lazing on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor this Sabbath, contemplating the cat sleeping opposite me and getting somewhat sleepy myself as a result.  Just a few thoughts to keep the braims cranking over:

♦  First thought is that, considering it’s already mid-July, Ol’ Robbo is really rather lucky to be able to sit out like this in comfort.  We had dinner on the porch last evening too, and it was quite pleasant.  (I’m sure the Meteorological Community will tell me this is all in my own head, 2017 is in fact shaping up to be the Hottest. Summah. EVAH!, and we all know who’s fault that is.)

♦  On travel this past week, Ol’ Robbo walked into a hotel with two of his biznay colleagues and beheld a sign by the registration desk that read, “Welcome, BLM”.  “Black Lives Matter?” I said, “Why would they want rioters?  Oooh, that must be Bureau of Land Management.”  (This was out West.)

My colleagues were……shocked.  Oopsies!

♦  So it seems that the Beeb announced today the 13th Doctor of the long-lived “Doctor Who” series and it’s……a woman.  Middle Gel, who is the big Whovian of Port Swiller Manor, is less than impressed with what she considers to be a pure casting stunt.  If the Gel is any straw in the wind to go by, this won’t end well.  (And lest you think Ol’ Robbo has some kind of problem with the concept of female Time Lords (or, more properly, Time Ladies) in and of themselves, I’ve got two words for you: Lalla Ward. Mmm, mmm, mmm…..)

♦  We had a handyman out yesterday to finally fix up the breakfast room ceiling, in water-stained tatters for months owing to the umpteenth overflow of the gels’ bathroom potty directly above it.  This was a new guy for us, recommended by a friend, and I’m here to tell you that it was a revelation to me.  I expected him to take most of the day banging and stamping about, but he had the whole job done, painted, and cleaned up in two hours flat.  (And he charged about half what our regular people had quoted us.)  I asked him about his speed. “Yeah,” he said, “We get a lot of calls from people having parties that evening and needing things to be fixed fast, so we just sort of developed this technique.”

Impressive.  Most impressive.

♦  Not so impressive was the way the next door neighbor dealt with a 3 to 4 inch diameter branch that had fallen out of one of the maples out front when he was mowing his yard yesterday:  He simply drove right over the damned thing.  Cut it to match-sticks (as it was quite rotten).  Now, Ol’ Robbo is hardly the kind of fellah who wishes ill on anyone, but by all rights this neighbor should have had his blades bent back about 90 degrees from pulling such a silly move.  (He drives over things all the time with impunity.  Why his mower hasn’t died a thousand deaths already, I simply don’t know.)

Whelp, I suppose I should be be-stirring myself, as it’s almost the cocktail hour and this is my last evening of freedom for the next two or three weeks (during which time I probably will post very little, by the bye).  I’ve organized a little family movie night for later – either “Megamind“, which I’ve seen and like a lot, or “Monsters University“, which I haven’t seen but heard good things about.  (And I recall liking the original.)  I’ll let you know later how it all turns out.

UPDATE: Went with “Megamind”.  A good choice, even though Ol’ Robbo doesn’t think much of the cynical tone of the movie or of most of the vocal talent involved.  It’s still pretty entertaining and a good time was had by all.

Oh, and what was really weird? Saying to the Elder Gels just before putting in the DVD, “Oh, by the way, can one of you pick me up at the Metro tomorrow evening? Thanks!”

Yep, I’ma gettin’ old.

Oh, BTW, I determined this evening that I’m going to bring my personal  laptop along on my biznay trip, so hopefully will keep up the blogging.  Just so you know.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

Ol’ Robbo really has nothing planned to mark the occasion this year.  Indeed, as is sometimes the case, I am bacheloring it this week at Port Swiller Manor, as the Gels are scattered about at camp and visits to grandparents and whatnot.  So right now I’m just sitting out on the porch with the cats, the dog, and muh coffee (covfifi?), enjoying the cool of the morning, and trying to muster up the energy to go spread a couple bags of mulch and zap some weeds before it gets too hot.  Depending on whether or when we catch a thunderstorm later, I’ll grill up a bacon-cheeseburger and some corn for my dins and then sit back out on the porch and listen to the fireworks.

Hey, I’m not known as the World’s Most Exciting Man for nothing.

Anyhoo, a few thoughts:

♦  I see the usual crop of “Whither America?” essays out there today bemoaning the polarized state of politicks and the debasement of our so-called culchah, and wondering How Much Longer We Can Go On As A Nation.  My guess? We’ll probably muddle through somehow.  (And I’d have said the same thing even if She Who Must Not Be Named had been elected.)  I still believe that when push comes to shove and people are shaken out of their complacency, there is still enough of the American Character in the majority of the population to see us through.  (Okay, I admit this sounds trite, but it’s either this or a ten-thousand word essay, and I’ve not nearly enough energy for that this morning.)

♦  Good for The Donald for coming to the defense of poor little Charlie Gard and his family.  (Go on over to the linkie to get Ace’s background and take.)  To me, this whole wretched situation illustrates perfectly the monstrosity of single-payer, State-run “health care”.  When Leviathan is lord and master, you are nothing but a slave and your life is nothing but a statistic.  (Oh, and one cheer, I suppose, for Papa Frankie, who finally voiced his support for the Gards as well, although it took him long enough to do so.)

♦  This article on a proposed global nuclear weapons ban and the high art of virtue-signaling made Ol’ Robbo smile nostalgically because it brought back to mind his time at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT in the mid-80’s when, in response to that crazy summbich Reagan threatening to blow up the world, it became very fashionable for various city councils and campus student governments to pass ordinances and resolutions declaring themselves to be “nuclear-free zones”.  (For some reason, Providence, RI stands out in my mind as an example.)

In response, I drew a cartoon for the conservative paper on campus featuring a handy-dandy, do-it-yourself, “personal” nuclear-free zone:  It featured a hippy with a paper bag over his head.

Curiously, there were those who didn’t think this was s’damn funny. (They were the same crowd who were distraught over the campus health center refusing to stock cyanide capsules to be used in case somebody dropped The Big One.)

(A glass of wine with Vodka Boy over at the Puppy-Blender’s place.)

Whelp, better go spread that mulch……

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I believe that after all these years (almost 14 by my count) of blogging, today marks an historick first, insofar as I am posting today for the very first time from the immense comfort of my hammock on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor.

I must say, I could seriously get used to this.   (Indeed, one of the Four Things which Ol’ Robbo hopes to do when and if he is ever able to retire is to turn his attention to more serious writing.  If I’m not mistaken, none other than William Makepeace Thackeray is said to have done his very best work while similarly lounging in his hammock, so you never know!)

And what are the Four Things, you ask? Well, as I say, one of them is serious writing.  Another is to reform my garden from a butterfly-bush wilderness into an orderly, civilized set of flower beds.  The third is to actually sit down and work up some piano musick to performance level, instead of forever sight-reading.  Finally, I want to take up golf again, which I haven’t seriously played in 25 years.

So there you are.

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends for you:

♦  We had a very cool and wet spring in the neighborhood this year, with a resultant lushness that I haven’t seen in quite some time.  Indeed, so much so that the hedge of hollies which we planted along the sidewalk out front some years ago have positively exploded.  T’other day, Ol’ Robbo came home to find a piece of paper taped to his mailbox.  Its gist was that the hollies were sticking branches out over the sidewalk and could we please cut them back.  It was signed, “Your friendly neighbors.”

I’ll give them that the trees needed pruning (which I did yesterday), but there is something about the passive-aggressive nature of this “friendly” notice that really irritates Ol’ Robbo.  Indeed, I was half-tempted to scrawl “Balls to you!” on the thing and just leave it there.

Ah, well, at least it was a tad better than the little snirp who, once or twice over the years, has actually hacked down some of my branches and simply left them lying all over the sidewalk.  I caught him at it once, and it was only the gray hairs on his head that kept me from taking a horsewhip to him.

♦  Speaking of horsewhips, Ol’ Robbo realizes more and more what a bye he got with the Eldest Gel not being at all interested in dating when she was in high school.  Suddenly it seems both of the younger Gels have romantic irons in the fire, and Ol’ Robbo’s stomach muscles are tightening accordingly.  (Actually, the Youngest’s is a very polite and sensible young man, who I think I like.  She’s so besotted with him that she’s actually going to try and take honors chemistry next year because he is.  Gawd!)

♦  And speaking of the Younger Gels, it’s off to Bible-Thumper Camp tomorrow morning.  This will be Middle Gel’s tenth year and Youngest’s eighth.  (Right now, all of Robbo’s wymminz are in the kitchen, squabbling over a trip to Tarzhay to pick up last-second supplies.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?  Ol’ Robbo is feigning deafness.)

♦  Oh, and have I said it lately?

LET’S GO, NATS!!!

Whelp, that’s about it for now.  Another advantage of hammock-blogging, now that the Gels have left on their equipment-run, is that I can simply hit the power button, close my laptop, and go nappy-byes.

As I say, I could get used to this.  Zzzzzzz………

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I won’t bother explaining the dearth of posts here again- just scroll down and you’ll see the pattern. Second verse? Same as the first! And it looks as if things will stay this way at least until August. Heigh, ho.

So anyway:

– First of all, Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

– Ol’ Robbo practices Friday abstinence as a general rule, but since we’re still in the Octave of Easter, today We. Have. The MEATS!

– Got to enjoy my first thunder shower of the year last evening. More coming tonight and over the weekend, which means the lawn will have assumed a savannah-like appearance by the time I get to it next weekend. I shrug.

– Had several young persons address me as “Sir” this past week. Are they all blind? Or is the grey on the side of my head getting that much more noticeable?

– Eldest Gel finishes her first year of college next week. I find this to be absolutely incredible. Where on earth does the time go? (She’s done quite well, too. AND she’s got my sister’s old dorm room for next year. How weird is that?)

– On top of that, we start the whole college boogaloo for Middle Gel this spring, and the Youngest will be getting her learner’s permit.

– Yikes, indeed.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry (again) for the dearth of posts, but Ol’ Robbo has been crazy busy down the office these past couple weeks and is rayther short on both time and creative energy.

However, I’m getting a bit of a break today before a weekend of “the felicity of unbridled domesticity” followed by a brutal two work weeks (and then Holy Week!), so I’ll give you friends of the decanter three items of observation on which to ponder:

Firsto, Ol’ Robbo got dragooned into a catered “Vegan” work lunch yesterday. I am reasonably certain that nobody in the history of the world has ever said, “I’m a Vegan because the food is just so tasty!” I managed to find a fennel pita sammich, which to me seemed the least repugnant thing on the menu, but even there the veggies were cooked out of all meaningful flavor and the bread tasted like cardboard. I ate a few bites just to be polite and smiled thinly as everyone else sat about virtue-signaling over their meals. Feh. As the late, great, Phillip Seymour Hoffman said in “Twister”, “Red meat! We crave sustenance!”

Segundo, I was watching some late cable movie one night this week when an ad came on for some lady’s razor. It featured a dad teaching his teenaged daughter how to shave her legs by shaving his own as an example. (It was unclear from the voice-over whether Mom was dead or they’d split the dishes.) You may call Ol’ Robbo a dinosaur (and if you’ve done so before, you may do it again), but I thought this was pretty damned creepy. (I begin to believe those theories about the deliberate cultural pogram against masculinity.) Also, granted that Ol’ Robbo checked completely out of the feminine hygiene field the instant the Gels hit potty-training, is leg-shaving even a teaching thing? I’ve a vague notion the Gels all more or less figured it out for themselves. (I certainly did when I learned to shave, and faces are a lot trickier than legs.) Yuk.

Thirdiest, if you ever think of visiting the Imperial City for the cherry blossoms, don’t bother about it THIS year. A freak late-winter warm spell followed by a freak early spring arctic cold snap meant that the buds came out and then got crushed. Same for the magnolias, the forsythia, and even my clematis. Damn you, ManBearPig! Damn you to hell! (Also, what with the crazy weather patterns, I haven’t been able to do a thing in the yard this year. And because of the work I mentioned, I won’t get a chance to start until after Easter. Gonna be one serious mess this year.)

UPDATE:  I just got thinking: Since Ma Nature put such a kybosh on the winter/spring transition this year, is it unrealistic of me to hope this also means that pollen levels and insect swarms will also be down?  Silver linings and all that…..

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those two or three who still foregather here together, no, Ol’ Robbo is not gone. A combination of Lenten practices, busy-time work, and the fact that I’m still confined to posting from my phone is the simple explanation for my recent….tersity? Terseness? Lack of posts.

Anyhoo, sass this crazy March weather? Mid-week warm and sunny spells coupled with lingering winter weekends have meant that lots of things need doing in the yard now but I’ve had no chance to do them.

Now they’re talking about our possible first major snowfall of the year for early next week.

Like Crazy Eddie’s prices, this weather is IN-SANE!

(Bonus points if you get the reference.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor this morning, drinking a cup o’ Joe and continuing to enjoy the ridiculously lovely weather we’ve been having in these parts of late.  Alas, it’s all supposed to end later today, with showers/storms this afternoon and plunging temperatures tonight.

Heigh, ho.  At least one advantage is that a more seasonal late winter will help Ol’ Robbo get his head straight for Lent, which starts Wednesday.  Awfully hard to get into the spirit of the season when it’s so damn nice out.

Anyhoo, last weekend I spent some time hauling sticks and branches and generally cleaning up the yard.  In the process, I seem to have pulled something in my back, and it’s still bugging me.  Have I really reached the point where I’m going to have to so stretches and put on a protective brace before doing yard work?

That’s sobering prospect.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the big nor’easter pounding the East Coast today brought exactly nothing to Your Nation’s Capital.

Not that we aren’t knee-deep in snowflakes here this winter, but they’re of the political rayther than the meteorological variety. Ha, ha, ha.

As a matter if fact, it’s been a relatively benign winter so far this year, and I even noticed yesterday that the forsythia is already starting to bloom. Must be all that glow bull enwarmening that ManBearPig is spreading about. AlGore promises that he’s on the case. Super serial, you guys!

For all that, I can’t remember a year when I so yearned for the return of the warmth as I do this year. Must be getting older or something.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy MLK Day.  (Or, as a smart-assed friend of mine used to insist on calling it: SlainCivilRightsLeaderTheReverendDr.MartinLutherKingJunior Day.)

Thankee for your kind wishes viz Ol’ Robbo’s bout with the flu.  While I’m still feeling rayther weak and am coughing a bit, I am confident that I’m on the mend.   On the other hand, it seems just about everyone else in the family has now picked it up to one degree or another.  The knowledge that at least some of them got flu shots gives ol’ Robbo a certain amount of subversive pleasure.

So a few post-plague odds and ends for you:

♦  Ol’ Robbo finally took down the Christmas decorations today, including the tree.  As always and despite my vigorous plying of broom and vacuum, I expect to keep finding fir needles about the front room and hall well into July.  Eh.

 I always chuck the tree onto the brush pile out in the woods past the back gate.  In case you’re interested, I have observed that it takes two to three years for these trees to finally crumble into their primordial components:  Next year, this one will be a skeleton.  The year after, it will be a crumpled skeleton.  The year after that, dust.  (Thinking of the brush pile and the seventeen years I’ve been contributing to it, I just now remembered a book I read as a child.  It had something to do with a tornado hitting a Kansas farm and scooping out and dumping some incredibly fertile soil in such a way that all kinds of strange things began growing on the heap of dirt that the twister left behind.)

♦  Speaking of years, this past week saw the seventeenth and fifteenth birthdays of the two younger Gels.  Tempus bloody fugit, indeed.  They celebrated said B-days with back-to-back sleepover parties Friday and Saturday nights.   You may judge for yourselves what ol’ Robbo thought of having Port Swiller Manor loaded to the gunn’ls with teenaged girls for 48 hours straight.  (No, it isn’t anywhere near the thrill you might think.)

♦  Speaking of the Gels, Eldest heads back to school tomorrow.  Aside from French, she finished with a solid A-/B+ GPA her first semester, of which I am quite proud.  (Don’t tell her I said so, but she did a hell of a lot better her first semester in college than did ol’ Robbo.  Also, from what she let fall in conversation, I think she learned some valuable lessons in what college-level studying actually entails.)   As of now, the plan is that she’s going to major in history and minor in theatre, and also pick up an Arts Management certificate.   And speaking of theatrics, the Gel has been cast as the Wicked Witch in the school’s spring production of Shrek The Musical.  She says herself that this is one of the most idiotic and useless musickals ever produced, but that she is nonetheless looking forward to having a good time participating.  I know exactly what she means.

♦  Also speaking of theatrics, Ol’ Robbo is now half way through watching the 2012-ish Beeb production of The Hollow Crown (comprising Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V.)  I think, I think that I like the series.  The acting is uniformly great and, at least for the most part, the production plays Will’s history straight down the middle.  I guess my main criticisms are that it seems some dialogue has been cut in favor of prolonged visuals (yes, I get that these are movies instead of plays on film), and also that the who thing is saturated with that sort of vaguely Celtish World Musick which I really dislike.

One thing that actually made me laugh:  In Richard II, Bolingbroke is well played by Rory Kinnear.  I’ve never seen him before, but his old dad, Roy Kinnear, is well-known to ol’ Robbo as a minor comedic actor with bit parts in films such as The Three Musketeers and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.  Ol’ Robbo loves these Thespian family links.  Anyhoo, imagine my surprise when I popped in H-IVp1 to discover that the role of Bolingbroke had been taken over by none other than Jeremy Irons!  The man, although talented, whistled his lines over a set of obviously false teeth.  Ol’ Robbo enjoyed that yugely.

♦  Finally, speaking of the Bard, Ol’ Robbo has decided that it is high time he reorganized the Port Swiller library.  (I’ve never done an actual count, but I reckon we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 volumes, all told.)  It’s been a mess for some years but I have been content with that because I at least knew where everything was, more or less.  Recently, however, I discovered that Mrs. R was taking things in her own hands.  I do not wish to disparage Mrs. R’s learning in any way, but her approach to organization is based on neatness rayther than content.  She can’t abide books stacked up on tables or in corners or on top of other books:  Those she can’t jam in somewhere on the shelves anyhoo, she simply squirrels away elsewhere in the house.  Indeed, I didn’t even realize the gravity of the situation until I discovered a book I had been looking for – along with multiple other missing volumes – packed into an old bookcase in the Eldest Gel’s bedroom closet.

I mean, I say!

mcbroom_UPDATE:  To satisfy my own curiosity and to prove to you lot that I’m not completely insane, I did a bit of digging to try and find that children’s book I referred to above:  It’s McBroom’s Zoo by Sid Fleischman.  (I didn’t realize until I did this research that this was one of a whole series of McBroom books, all of which seem to center on Tall Tales.)

Interestingly, another of my very favorite books as a kid was Fleischman’s By The Great Horn Spoon!, the story of a small boy who runs away from well-to-do Boston to the California Gold Rush, and who’s aunt’s butler goes along to keep an eye on him.  I probably read that book a hundred times in grade school.

I knew that Disney had made a moovie version of the book called “The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin“, which I longed to see for what seemed like ages.  Eventually, they ran it one Sunday evening on tee vee.  I recall being very, very excited.  However, despite the very not bad presence of Suzanne Pleshette in it, the movie made such a pig’s breakfast of the novel that I was seriously traumatized.  And that is the origin of my life-long hatred of moovie treatments of favorite books.

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