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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s getting on to that time of year now where I can foresee the end of mowing season so I’m only buying gas for the lawnmower a gallon at a time lest I get saddled with leftovers all winter. Just once I’d like to finish the last cut of the season just as the mower runs out of the last of the gas I have left in the can in the garage. “Nail the landing” as it were.

Meanwhile, the proportion of my time spent raking up leaves is gradually increasing. At this point it’s mostly just trying to keep the driveway relatively clear, especially as there’s a front moving through today with a chance of thunderstorms and a layer of wet leaves on an asphalt incline is almost as slippery as ice. A bad biznay when you’re trying to get out into my busy street.

I’ve not seen the hummingbirds for several weeks now so it seems likely they’ve all split for the coast. I’m leaving the feeder up, however, Just In Case.

Ol’ Robbo’s bonus task today was to have to climb out Youngest’s bedroom window onto the garage roof to clip back some ivy that has got a bit too frisky. Let us just say that I have a hobbit-like bad head for heights.

Finally, speaking of Youngest, I added “sundry” to the post title because she’s off sailing in a regatta today at Western Michigan University. Thus, I can truly say today that “I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo“!

(Oh, I slay me.)

UPDATE: The Gel messages “Won one of the races!” Yo, ho!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was out for his customary lunchtime walk round the neighborhood today, my first venture out since getting the jab last Friday. (My arm still aches and I feel a little bit woozy, but the latter might be more rightly attributed to the fact that today is a Monday/Tuesday combo, and to all the ragweed pollen still in the air.)

Anyhoo, evidently this past weekend was a big time to put up Halloween displays. There seem to be a lot more such decorations out this year, both in terms of the number of houses tricked out and in the extent of such tricking. Perhaps it’s a backlash to everybody being confined to quarters last year. I don’t go in for this sort of thing myself. We put a couple pumpkins on the front steps to mark the fall season in general, and Mr. Jack Lantern puts in a one-night-only appearance on the 31st, but that’s it.

The other thing I noticed is after much talk back and forth (which has been cluttering up my home email for years), it would appear the newest speed-abatement measures are being put in on the main road through the neighborhood, a cut-over between two busy thoroughfares.

When, exactly, did speed-bumps become speed-humps? The latter always makes me think there’s material there for a slightly naughty joke.

At any rate, they’re putting in a third such bump (or hump, if you prefer) right smack dab in the middle to compliment the ones toward either end of the street. Not that it will do much good, I expect. If two aren’t sufficient, what difference will a third make? Plus, all the additional warning signs are nothing more than an eyesore. I suppose the new work is mostly to gratify the neighborhood sense that the County is doing something. Eh.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, autumn proceeds apace here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. As I look about me, the trees are increasingly dappled with patches of yellow, orange, and brown, and it’s cool enough to lounge comfortably in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.

All the Gels are home now for the long weekend, although I’ve only seen them briefly and not all together at the same time. When the younger two aren’t sleeping, they’ve been visiting with Mrs. R’s parents, who happen to have stopped in this weekend on their migration back to Flardah. (Ol’ Robbo currently is banned from their presence because I’m not fully jabbed yet.) But I get ’em all together for dinner this evening. I b’lieve this is the first time it actually feels out of the ordinary to have a full house again.

I never thought to see an article in praise of Breezewood, PA, but here it is. I get what it says about the place being an important waypoint and praising the folks who have stuck it out there (unlike somebody like Kevin Williamson, I’m really not a snob), but that doesn’t change the fact that the stretch between the traffic light at the end of I-70 and the ramps for the Turnpike is one of the ugliest places I know, both in terms of extended truck-stop architecture and bottleneck traffic. (Is there even a downtown? A community somewhere off the strip? I’ve never looked.) And there is such a sense of relief headed southbound once one gets through it that I’m always overcome by the urge to floor it even though the speed limit is only 55 mph. Many, many other folks feel the same way. (The Pennsylvania State Police have been feasting on them for years and years now.)

Speaking of such, I heard a good one recently: In order to pass the Murrland driver’s license test, you have to cross over into Virginia and cause an accident. (It’s funny because it’s true! And actually, Youngest told it to me. She has learned well.)

On a completely different note, Ol’ Robbo recently got the urge to read Moby Dick. (Technically I should say “reread” because I think I had to do so in high school but don’t remember much.) Specifically, I want to understand why it’s considered a classic of American lit. So far, I’m pleasantly surprised by Melville’s occasional outbursts of very playful language, which make me chuckle, and being such an old paper sea-dog from my many years of reading Patrick O’Brian puts me in good stead to follow the maritime workings easily and enjoyably. But my overarching feeling is that what the fellah really needed was an editor armed with a baseball bat. Jumping about outrageously from first to third-person narrative; inserting almost play-like interludes; impossibly intricate run-on sentences; careering wildly off on tangents; and occasional bouts of existential navel-gazing which I have to admit at least aren’t as bad as Thoreau. As Eldest put it, just tell the damned story! I’ve got the Norton Critical Series edition (hand-annotated at some points by the Mothe for some reason), which is jammed with analyses, criticisms, and commentary (plus some droll footnotes pointing out places where Melville cheated on his research), so I’ll probably plow through all that stuff, too.

And now that I reread that paragraph, I see I’m doing it, too. He tasks me!

Whelp, I suppose that’s enough for now. This is a random, not a rant, so I won’t get into a “Wither History In The Reign Of The Neo-Jacobins” discussion of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea this year.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that what actually put Moby Dick into my tiny little brain was re-watching “Major League” the other evening as a sort of wake for the now-disappeared Cleveland Indians. Those of you familiar with the fillum will recall that Tom Berringer reads a comic-book form of the story in order to try and convince Renee Russo that he’s matured. It was his line, referring to the comic, that “this happen to be a classic of American literature” that got Ol’ Robbo wondering why, exactly, the original is so considered.

I have learned over time to simply run with these free associations when they crop up. Seldom am I disappointed.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo spent the bulk of this first, lovely, Saturday morning of October hammering away with a rake at the moss which had taken over a large chunk of the Port Swiller Manor front yard.

I’d been ignoring the problem for years and putting the job off all summah, but fall liming has already started and they’ll be aerating and over-seeding soon, so I had no choice but to scramble now in penance for my bygone indolence.

I don’t know why all the how-to guides (and my lawn guy) say raking out moss is easy. It’s nothing of the sort. True, it’s not hauling hay bales, but it’s tedious and repetitive, and, when one is trying to avoid taking out what tufts of grass there are, more tedious. Plus, it’s a major workout on the forearms and hands. I don’t think I’ll be playing the piano later this afternoon.

I got a sizeable chunk done, but by no means all. I think I’ll let the rest go, at least for this year, and see how much the rejuvenated grass can win back on its own.

UPDATE: No, I wasn’t kidding about my hands, the backs and joints of which are now stiff and painful. This happens when I spend a long time clutching things hard. Prolly early arthritis. Also, although I again missed Ace’s GAAINZZ thread yesterday, I can report here the successful conclusion of another week’s worth of 625 pushups (125 per day), so I was already rather worn out when I started. (I’m pretty proud of myself about that, by the bye, and feel pretty great, too.)

But the real purpose of this update is that I forgot to mention another lawn item earlier. The back yard is plagued with native violet. The last time weed control was put down on them was in the middle of a hot, dry spell about five weeks ago. The control is in pellet form and has to be absorbed through the roots. The violets at that time were practically dormant due to the weather, so nothing doing. Ol’ Robbo was…displeased.

This past week when the fellah was back again we were just coming out of a rainy spell and the plants are all wide awake. He put down another treatment and within about 48 hours I could already see the little bastards’ leaves starting to curl, and the process goes on apace.

Not to too violently switch the reference from the title of this post, but inspecting the violet issue this afternoon Ol’ Robbo may have borrowed from the Star Trek TOS episode “Wolf In The Fold” and ran about the yard yelling, “Redjac! Redjac! Die! Die! You’re all gonna die! Redjac! AAAAHAHAHA!!!!”

It’s possible.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The Port Swiller Manor porch thermometer hit 50 degrees this morning and Ol’ Robbo is loving it.

Of course, I forgot to turn on the heat last evening as I usually do at the beginning of the season. You’d think the wimminfolk here had been banished to Siberia by the volume of their complaints.

I noted just now a hummingbird at the feeder, so they evidently haven’t left yet. I expect that will happen pretty soon.

I guess the tempest we had the other day when the cool weather came in was stronger than I had realized because I had a considerable amount of timber to clean up out front. One good-sized maple branch managed to fall so that its base got stuck in a fork of the trunk while its ends fell on top of my holly hedge, thus hanging a Sword of Damocles about twelve feet over the sidewalk. I couldn’t cut it in the middle because I couldn’t reach it, but I finally got it down by cutting the ends back with a pole-trimmer then getting a nylon strap that’s been sitting in my garage untouched for about ten years around the thing and dragging it sideways off the top of the hedge. (The moral of this story is, of course, the importance of never, ever throwing anything away because you never know when you might need it.)

Speaking of which, now that it’s cooler, I don’t have any more excuses for putting off chopping up all those logs I have thanks to the big tree that came down this past summah, of which regular friends of the decanter will recall my posting here. I’ve got a wedge and a sledgehammer, but that inner voice which keeps whispering that I’m not a kid anymore is suggesting I just go see about renting a hydraulic splitter instead. Eh, we’ll see.

Well, I see where the temperature has now climbed up into the mid-60’s. Time to open all the windows and then go for a walk.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Autumnal Equinox!

Yes, as regular friends of the decanter have read ad nauseum here over the years, fall really is Ol’ Robbo’s favorite season.

On the one hand, I’m grateful for finally being released from the stagnant torpor of summah, which I truly despise. (Hopefully, this will translate into posts here actually worth reading. I feel like I’ve simply been drooling for the past few months.)

On the other, I just love the feel of the season: the sometimes turbulent weather and gradually dropping temperatures, the drawing in of the days, and the overall sight, sound, and smell of Ma Nature putting up the shutters and getting ready to settle in for the long sleep.

Of course, I love the exact opposite feel in spring, so it’s actually a fairly close call as to which one I like more in and of itself. Put in context, however, the tie goes to fall due to my above-noted detestation of summah. One can’t help remembering, even while in the midst of enjoying the delights of spring, to what it inevitably leads. Granted, fall also leads to winter, but I generally don’t get tired of winter until pretty late in the season, while I’m sick of summah after the first few days. So again, advantage autumn.

I fully recognize that this calculation is partly, maybe even mostly, based on my being located in the Mid-Atlantic region. As much as I remember enjoying winter in Connecticut when I was in school, I bet I’d like it a lot less nowadays and fall would be much more of a harbinger. Conversely, the shorter hot weather season might not be so bad.

And of course the math is completely meaningless with respect to the South Texas of my misspent yoot, where we more or less had ten and a half months of summah alternating with about six weeks of not quite summah. (Which is a large part of why I hate summah so much.)

Well, whatever. I’m just glad that fall is here again.

UPDATE: I mention turbulent weather. Well, we’ve had some of just that here today. It seems that Decanter Dog is now afraid not only of lightning and thunder, but of simple wind gusts as well.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been puzzled of late as to why clumps of insulation have been turning up on and around his back patio. Today, I discovered the answer. A party of young squirrels has discovered a gap under the roof of Port Swiller Manor and are taking up residence in the attic. The deposits of insulation seem to be the by-product of their back and forth up the drainpipe and through the gap between the roof and the fascia. (I saw them myself this afternoon nosing in and out of the crack.)

Sigh.

Part of me says this is one of those homeowner problems to which prudence (and the jolly old wallet) would suggest turning a blind eye. I mean, propriety says get the infestation out instanter, but really, what harm can they do? Another part of me regrets that I don’t own a BB-gun. We used to pot squirrels and unauthorized birds at my parents’ bird-feeder back in the day. Great fun.

The other thing that I notice is that the stink bugs are back in force. Seemingly overnight they are swarming on the screens in and out of the house. They haven’t been around long enough for Farmers’ Almanac-type wisdom to kick in, so I’ve no idea what such an infestation may mean this early and with the weather still this warm, but I’d like to think it’s a portent of a cold, snowy winter, of which we’ve not had in the neighborhood in several years and which we’re about due.

(If said prognostication proves true and Ol’ Robbo starts griping here about having to deal with it, feel free to refer back to this post and mock me with it.)

***I won’t play “spot the reference” here because the name was only a meangingless innerwebze meme without background to me until I looked it up myself.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, yes, I’m around. I’ve just not had much materialize in my braims to pass on to you over the past few days. Let’s see what we can do even without….

For those of you interested, yes, Ol’ Robbo is directly affected by the jab-mandate that issued Friday. Alas, I’m hardly in a position to draw myself up, snap my fingers under the boss’s nose, and declaim “Be damned to you and to this job!” I’ve still got some weeks before I actually have to do anything about it and am holding out hope that the whole biznay will collapse under its own politickal weight and go away before then. (A scenario not quite outside the realm of possibility.)

Meanwhile, we continue to chug along. The last few days have been so warm and languid in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor that I’ve caught myself routinely checking Decanter Dog and the kittehs, sprawled about on the porch soaking it all in, to make sure they’re all still breathing.

And speaking of breathing, I’m here to tell you that I am no fan of ragweed season. Geh.

How about a couple film quick hits? Over the weekend, Ol’ Robbo watched “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” (1935). I’ve an idea I’d seen it before but couldn’t remember. It presses all the right buttons for anyone liking unapologetic British India: tent-pegging, the Great Game (complete with native disguises), and hordes of badmashes howling down the pass. The only awkward bit was the tedious explanations as to why the three main characters, officers in a British lancer regiment, all had American accents. (Gary Cooper was the star.)

I also watched “3:10 to Yuma” (1957). I’d seen it before and remembered it to be good, but I’d forgotten just how good it is. Glenn Ford’s Ben Wade must be one of the most appealing yet scary bad guys in all of the western genre, and the mental fencing he and Van Heflin’s Dan Evans engage in is really quite thrilling. The story and acting are so enjoyable that one is quite ready to ignore some cinematic howlers, including telephone poles in the distance and an opening credits sequence featuring a stagecoach dashing across the desert under an sky featuring a quite prominent con-trail.

Whelp, Ol’ Robbo warned you. Just not much else to say at the moment. (At least out loud.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all had a pleasant and relaxing holiday.

Ol’ Robbo’s plans to work in his garden segued into spending the day loafing in his hammock so smoothly that he barely even noticed. Sorry, not sorry.

Brats on the grill for dins in the evening, as it was cool enough out to make them enjoyable. (Bratwurst, like Guinness stout, is too heavy for hot weather in my humble opinion.)

I was delighted to read yesterday of Christopher Newport University’s last minute come-from-behind touchdown drive to beat Dubyanell in its first game of the season. Apart from having a Gel at CNU, I’ve come to believe that the transmogrification of my old school into the People’s Glorious Soviet of Lexington, VA is both unstoppable and almost complete, and I begin to take keen pleasure in these little setbacks.

Whelp, time to put away the seersucker and white shoes and get on with autumn……. (I speak metaphorically. Ol’ Robbo does not own a seersucker suit. I’ve always felt that one must have a certain kind of physical presence to pull off wearing such a suit successfully, a presence which I’m keenly aware I do not have. Give Ol’ Robbo his blazer and khakis anonymity.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The new washing machine was delivered to Port Swiller Manor this morning. When they said 7:00 A.M, by jigs, they meant 7:00 A.M. Lots of new electronic whistles and bells compared to its dead, 20+ year old predecessor. One of them is a “stain removal guide” setting. The choices include “tomato, wine, blood, grass, [and] dirt”, which immediately struck me as an outline for a fairly lurid thriller. (Perhaps I’ll write it.) Making its maiden run now. Definitely has a larger capacity than the old one.

In a change from the ordinary, Ol’ Robbo needs to refill his hummingbird feeder today not because the current content is getting old but because the little blighters have almost emptied it. I can’t recall a more active year here. There are at least three of them, and hummers being such aggressive and territorial types it’s like watching the Battle of Britain every day. (How any of them has time for sipping in between dogfights escapes me.)

I continue to scan the headlines with disgust and contempt, but also with a certain detachment because I have God. (This may sound trite or corny, but I’ve worked hard at it and finally begin to understand, however hazily, what it truly means.) How horrifying it must be for those who replace Him with worship of the State or themselves or nothing or whatever to lead such angry, empty, deceitful lives, only to discover in the end how wrong they were. (I think of the demise of Mabel Brand in Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World. One of the scariest things I’ve ever read. But I also think of Puddleglum in The Silver Chair when the witch tries and fails to hocus him into denying his faith in Aslan.)

I assume that most of you who still bother to drop in here for a glass of port also spend time over at the Ace of Spades Moron HQ. Yesterday on his GAAAINZZZ thread, Ace mentioned a “push-up challenge”, the goal of which is to try and do 100 push-ups over the course of a day. As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo hit on this very idea himself a couple of months ago. I’m now doing 125 a day, in sets of 25. It may sound idiotic, but I only actually stumbled across the principle of doing push-ups properly fairly recently. All those years I had been concentrating on trying to straighten out my arms instead of pressing with my pecs. What a difference.

My next challenge will be pull-ups, which I can’t do worth jack.

I’m probably a bad old man for it, but now that Mrs. R and Eldest are back at work at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, I derive a certain satisfaction at watching them have to get up early in the morning to get ready. (Summahs have always been a bit irksome when Robbo has to put on the ol’ harness while everybody else sleeps in.)

On the gardening front, I will be cutting back the forsythia this weekend in order to see if I can get a more concentrated bloom next spring. They had plenty of flowers last year (thanks, I believe, to the lime treatment I started giving them) but they were overgrown and stringy. We’ll see what happens.

Also on said front, Ol’ Robbo is geeking out because his lawn service sent out order forms for fall aeration, over-seeding, and lime treatment, for which I am enthusiastically signing up. It’s my Christmas present to myself this year. (No kidding.) The Port Swiller Manor demesne hasn’t had such care since we first moved in and I’m determined to wrestle it back to good health.

And speaking of which, time for Ol’ Robbo to go haul out the mower…….

French-Fried UPDATE: Because Ol’ Robbo got the jump on his Saturday yardwork chores early, he was able to spend the afternoon lounging about. Following up on my comment about misbegotten Jackie Chan scripts the other day, I spent it reading Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days.

Well, I’m not sure what I was expecting, exactly. Perhaps at least just one futuristic invention? But, no: Just a fun adventure story heavily dependent on railway and shipping time-tables. And while others might roll their eyes and skip a bit when Verne starts going into detail about the geography of various railroads in India and the United States, I got a geeky pleasure out of them. (When I told Eldest about it, we got into a discussion of whether Verne himself put in the travelling leg-work to gather together all his information and atmosphere. I should think he must have done.)

Anyhoo, it’s tightly told and nicely written, and the perfect thing for a lazy afternoon in the hammock. And I was amused to see a Frenchy’s pen-portrait of a stuffy, stiff-upper-lip Englishman. (Somewhere or other, right on the outskirts of memory, I recall reading recently a discussion of foreign attempts to portray the English, in which Phileas Fogg’s name naturally comes up. It’s going to drive me crazy trying to remember where I saw this.)

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