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Kitteh and Rose

Kitteh and Rose

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself standing around and kicking his heels today while waiting for the construction guy to show up.  For those of you who have followed the saga of the Port Swiller Manor renovations, the basement (specifically, the Eldest’s bedroom) is flooding again owing to the melt from Snowzilla, so once more the fellah needs to come out and find the leak.  This is his third or fourth attempt.  So far, he’s tried to fix it from the outside but I think he’s probably going to have to face the fact this time that he’s got to re-excavate part of the inside wall.  I know he’s trying to save himself labor and supply costs (I have no intention of paying for this repair), but enough is enough.

Anyhoo, I noticed this rayther aesthetically pleasing scene of kitteh and rose so I thought I would share it over the decanter.  The kitteh is Fiona, a very quiet and self-contained animal but quite friendly in her own way and capable of some very crazy fits.  The rose is the double-knockout that usually lives at the top of the porch stairs out back.  That’s probably the sunniest window in the house during winter, but as you can see, the plant has got quite gangly trying to soak up the rays.  Better than freezing to death outside like the last one, however.

By the way, who do you guys like for “L”?  Personally, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of watching Manning miss it by thaaaat much over the years, but as this is his last game and I kinda like the Broncs anyway, I’m going with them.  Anyway, my brother in North Carolina would rightly tag me as a band-wagoner if I suddenly started rooting for the Panthers, plus that Cam Newton guy, undoubtedly a very gifted young QB, has been making jackass comments lately.

Port Swiller Manor after the  Initial Driveway Cleanup

Port Swiller Manor after the Initial Driveway Cleanup

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, the Family Robbo survived Snowzilla intact.  Indeed, we didn’t even lose power this time around, owing to the lightness and dryness of the snow. Deo gratias.

Dulles recorded 29″ while they got 22″ downtown.  I think we probably split the baby here.

In any case, I’ve spent the last three days heaving snow off the Port Swiller driveway and my arms and shoulders ache something fierce as a result. (I also think I pulled something in my abs today.)  But the real story of the cleanup was the Eldest Gel.  I had mentioned casually to her a couple days before the storm that I expected her to help shovel out, given that her own car was involved in the matter.  Nonetheless, I had envisioned that when push came to shove she would balk, finding some excuse for weaseling out and leaving the whole job to ol’ Robbo (who, quite frankly, is getting a bit old to deal with this sort of thing all by his lonesome.)

Well, was I pleasantly surprised.  Both yesterday and today, the gel was actually on station and shoveling away even before I even got out of bed.  Plus, not a single word of complaint the entire time, indeed, the closest she came was to say, “I hate this, but I know it needs to be done.”  Instead, we chatted and listened to her iThingy playlist of classic rock.

Musick to ol’ Robbo’s ears.  That the gel is thinking like a responsible adult is something I’ve been praying for, for a very long time indeed.  Also, although I suppose we could have hired somebody to come and dig us out, ol’ Robbo was brought up with the idea that hard work (including manual labor) is important to character development.  The gel felt damned proud of herself for pitching in, and so she should have.  (And get this: She also asked if she could borrow my copy of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, as she has felt the need recently to shore up the underpinnings of her faith in the face of all the hostility she gets about it from some of the kids at her school.)

Oh, speaking of musick, at one point I was at the top of the drive while she was working closer to the garage.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” turned up on her phone, and even though I was some distance from her, at the appropriate point I went into “Wayne’s World” head-banger mode.  The gel laughed and laughed.

Good times.  Good times.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, here she comes – they’re still calling for a total of a couple feet starting this afternoon, together with howling winds and whiteout conditions.

If you don’t hear from me in the next few days, it’ll be because the power is out.  (Yeah, it seems I should have bought that generator now, but this is still too rare an event to quite justify it to me.)

Picking up on the comments below, we’ve lost power before in the winter, of course, but I don’t recall the outages lasting more than a day or so.  The longest blackouts that I remember at Port Swiller Manor came in the wake of Hurricane Isabel in ’03 and the big Derecho in 2012, each one lasting four or five days.  Those were miserable times.  In winter, if you have enough firewood, blankets, and adult beverages, all you have to do is snuggle in.  But in summah?  The house gets progressively hotter and more disgusting and there’s not much relief other than to hide in the basement.

Or, as Mrs. R is wont to do, flee to a hotel.

Anyhoo, we’ll see what happens.

I’ll catch up with you all on the other side, perhaps with pictures.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, the local weather wallahs are becoming increasingly convinced that the area around Port Swiller Manor is about to be clocked by a serious blizzard.

Eh.  Although we face the real likelihood of a power outage as a result of this storm, Port Swiller Manor is adequately packed with wine, firewood, gas-range cookables. T.P., and birdfood** to tough it out.  Plus, ol’ Robbo’s order of 40 pounds of driveway melt arrived on schedule this evening, and his garage now boasts not one but two snow shovels.

We’ll do fine.

What the experts like to call this latest “snow event” brings to the fore again a perpetual question: Should ol’ Robbo plunk for a generator?

On the one hand, power outages around here tend to be fairly rare, brief, and hardly life-threatening.   Plus, said generators ain’t exactly cheap. (As I explain to the gels, one does not “get” a generator, one “buys” one.  Yuuuge difference.)

On the other…well, I frankly can’t see any arguments myself.  My family, OTOH, are vociferous in their argument that we need one in order to maintain collective body and soul.  Because comfort.

Somehow, I doubt John Wayne would have thought much of such self-indulgence, so I guess I’ll stick with the Duke on that one.

Anyhoo, the next couple days should prove interesting.  If you don’t hear from ol’ Robbo during that time, you’ll know in advance why.

 

* I mentioned this name to the Eldest and she laughed heartily.  We have a whole, complex protocol for naming storms ’round here that has nothing to do with Jim “Mimbo” Cantore and those self-aggrandizing bozos as the Weather Channel.

** Ol’ Robbo has long been a keen bird watcher and keeps two (three during the humming bird season) feeders going off his back porch for the locals’ benefit.  This said, I feel a heightened obligation toward the local fowl when extreme weather strikes.

 

"Merry Christmas, beyotches!"

“Merry Christmas, beyotches!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, like everyone else east of the Mississippi, ol’ Robbo can’t help remarking on the crazy warm weather visiting us at the moment.  It’s nearly 70 degrees here and there’s even a chance of a thundershower this afternoon.  Reminds me more of Christmases from my misspent yoot in South Texas than the norm.

Well, what can you do.

Meanwhile, I find that I’m not happy with either the ribbon or the candles I bought this year.  The ribbon is not wide enough and the candles taper too much.  These are minor things, of course, but I like to get them right.  Speaking of which, my plan is to finally take advantage of post-Christmas pricing and stock up on decorations early, including finally tracking down a creche with which I can be happy.

I’ll go ahead and wish you all some pre-Christmas joy but my other aim is to really try and celebrate the full twelve days this year.  Tomorrow is but the beginning, after all.  See you at the Nativity!

advent

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  Six days late because of illness (which see below) and Thanksgiving travel last weekend, but a very happy Advent to you all!  As you can see here, ol’ Robbo got his wreaths up this morning, thus ensuring a steady stream of confusion over the next few weeks on the part of mailmen, delivery people and general callers at the front doors of Port Swiller Manor.  (“How come the ribbons are purple?)  I also chucked the remaining fall pun’kins into the creek and mulched the clematis, wisteria and jasmine round the base of the back porch.  A good day.

Advent has become more and more important to ol’ Robbo over the years as a liturgical season.  Indeed, it is becoming much more of a Lenten-like time for me (as it used to be for the Church as a whole) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the next few years I didn’t start introducing more acts of penitence to my current routine of study and reflection.

Of course, this also has the effect of making the outer world’s “Holiday Season” all that more jarring to me.  I couldn’t help noticing yesterday that all the banners on the lamp-posts downtown, in addition to bearing words like “Joy” and “Love” feature….pictures of shopping bags.  I was actually both amused and bothered by the kerfluffle at the University of Tennessee this week over a memo warning not to allow “religious themes” at “holiday parties”.  (The memo came from the same office, btw, that tried to issue a draconian speech code a couple months back and was laughed out of touch.)  Back in the day at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, we didn’t have “Secret Santa”.  Instead, we had something called “Non-Sectarian Gift Giving”.  I fear that same spirit has pretty much infected the general culture now.

Now I am sure there are many people of good will who go in for all the commercialism and consumerism and gaudiness of the “Holidays” with genuine good will.  And I have no wish to dampen their generosity and caring.  However, I increasingly see the thing itself as intrinsically evil, a mockery of and distraction from what Advent and Christmas are actually supposed to be about.  (Yes, I know – religious and social pluralism and all that.  Fine.  Then drop the Christina symbolism still attached and go appropriate your own markers.)  It doesn’t take much imagination to guess the source of such mockery and distraction.   So in my own, small way, I intend to take what steps I can to further isolate the “Holidays” from my mind, to ignore them or, when they get to be too much, mock them.  So when, in the next few weeks, you see posts here labeled “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Holiday, Dammit”, you’ll know what ol’ Robbo is about.

 

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.

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