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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with the July 4th holiday (and I hope yours were enjoyable), friends of the decanter will have noticed that Ol’ Robbo didn’t stick to his usual weekend posting habits.

Well, if you’re like me, you probably hate disruption and disorder with the heat of a thousand suns.  So to provide some solace, allow me to offer up a condensed version of what I otherwise would have written:

Saturday Gardening Post – The butterfly bush are starting to open up.  They’ll be the centerpiece of the Port Swiller Manor back garden from here until frost if I don’t let the insidious morning-glory swamp them.  I still haven’t seen all that many butterflies yet, but I expect that will change shortly.  (The sight of fifteen or twenty tiger swallowtails at a time flitting about over the bushes has always been my argument to Mrs. R why we should have them in the first place.)

Sunday Go-To-Meeting Post – Those of you who fear the Church has forgot how to be Militant would have been comforted by our guest-padre yesterday.  He let go a stem-winder of a homily damning and blasting post-modernism (including within the Church herself) as rebellion against the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Nature and referred to those seeking to undermine American fundamentals as “neo-Marxist barbarian gangs”.

Random Commuter Observations – Usually by this time of year Ol’ Robbo is complaining of the chronic heat exhaustion that results from his summah commuting in an A/C-less jeep.  At least the lockdown has kyboshed that for the foreseeable future.  (In fact, I haven’t even filled up my gas tank since early March.)  On the other hand, I finally had to admit today that with this week’s arrival of the hot n’ sticky, I have to move my workspace off the porch and back down into the basement.  Heigh ho.

So there you have it.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been rayther busy, both in his other on-line alternate reality (that is, at his job) as well as in meatspace.  (Which see below.)  But here we are now.

Yesterday was the start of Ol’ Robbo’s long holiday weekend.  And what better way to begin the celebration of the birth of Our Great Nation than to subject the Port Swiller Manor back porch to its annual scrubbing? Yes!

I’ve got in the habit of leaving this task until after pollen and the spring rainy season are well over, reserving it for a good hot, sunny, dry weekend.  I looked it up, and it happens that this fell on May 24 last year.  That it got pushed back all the way to the beginning of July this time around is some kind of testament to the cold, wet, late spring we’ve had in these parts.  Glowbull Enwarmening, indeed.

Anyhoo, having shoved all the porch furniture to one side, Ol’ Robbo duly dug his powah-washer out of the depths of the garage.  After dragging it round back and up the stairs, and untangling power cords and hoses, I flipped the thing on.  It sputtered once and then died.


So I had to resort to Plan B, which was the hose, a sponge-mop, and a bucket of Mr. Clean.  I scrubbed the floor, first one side and then the other.  I scrubbed the ceiling.  I scrubbed the rails.  I scrubbed each piece of wicker (a dozen altogether).  I scrubbed the dining table and chairs.  I laundered the dog bed and the table cloth, and Windex’d all the glass and metal.  (We have lots of candles and picture-frames and whatnot.)  I even mopped the stairs going down to the patio.

And you know what?  The results were perfectly fine.  As to the floor, the test is whether I can put the area rug back in the same place based on the prior grunge outline.  As I simply couldn’t see it, I wound up moving the rug a couple feet over, and with it all the furniture, which lines up around it.  This was immediately pointed out to me by each of my wimminfolk as they came out to view the results of my labor later in the day.  It’s nice to be appreciated.

So that’s that for another year.  As to the power-washer, I’ve no idea why it died but I don’t think I’m going to go to the bother and expense of either repairing or replacing it.  It was a royal pain in the neck to get the thing up on the porch anyway, and if I ever need one in teh future (the patio needs doing every now and again), it seems simpler just to rent one.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Our next-door neighbor teenagers had an outdoor birthday party in their back yard this afternoon.  There were about a dozen kids.  They rigged up a slip n’ slide, shot sooper-soakers at each other, and also played volleyball and badminton.

I was working out on my porch, as usual in nice weather, and found that the laughing, shouting, and splashing bothered me not in the least at my job.  (They did not blast any music, fortunately.)  As a matter of fact, it almost made me sleepy, as I associate such a combination of noise with napping in a long chair by a pool.

Very nice.

The Port Swiller Manor generator suddenly kicking in for half an hour a mere 20 feet from my ears?  That was a different matter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Because Ol’ Robbo always strives to make sure you friends of the decanter get what you pay for, he thought he’d slap up just a few pre-weekend thoughts:

♦  After three-plus months of working from home and no end of it in the foreseeable future, I’m thinking of investing in a real home office chair.  Surprisingly, Mrs. R agrees.  One of her friends suggested a bungee chair, of which I’d never heard.  I dunno, it seems to me such a chair might stretch out prematurely.  Any thoughts?

♦  Glancing at the latest Brave Stroke Against Amerikkka headlines, I hadn’t even realized the Dixie Chicks were still together.

♦   On the local wildlife front, Ol’ Robbo was delighted to see what I believe to be two fairly mature fox kits horsing around near the vixen’s den yesterday morning.  (I now keep a pair of binoculars at my back porch work station.)

♦   Ol’ Robbo has been on a George MacDonald Fraser jag (again) as of late, to the extent that I even watched “Octopussy” last evening. GMF wrote the screenplay.  Once one knows that and knows his work, one can see GMF’s fingerprints all over it.  (He relates that when he first pitched putting Bond in a gorilla costume to Cubby Broccoli, Broccoli almost died from conniptions.)  Oh, and that airplane fight at the end always makes me queasy.

♦   On a more serious artistic note, Ol’ Robbo was introduced this week to a new-to-me period-instrument orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz, under the direction of Riccardo Minasi.  The local classickal station has been showcasing their recording of Mozart’s final three symphonies, and I must say that the performances are brilliant.  Go check ’em out.

♦   Third time around, I am deliberately staying off the parents’ FacePlant page for Youngest’s college class.  From what Mrs. R relates, the place is a fever-swamp of paranoia about whether and how the school is going to operate this fall.  We’ve come round to a simple philosophy:  We’re paying the full out-of-state ride.  If we don’t get full service in return, we’re gone.

So there you have it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yeah, Ol’ Robbo prolly shoulda cut the grass this weekend after all.  But I’d swear it saved up all its growth until last night.  I hate when it does that.


Gratuitous Tuesday Morning UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo has been worried that he hasn’t seen the resident vixen the past week or so and the other day observed buzzards lurking near her den.  I had feared the worst.  But this morning she ran down along my fence and into the woods, so all is well.  Also, there’s a brand new fawn in the neighborhood.  Adorable.  (As long as I’m compelled to telecommute, I work on my back porch as much as possible.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It amazes Ol’ Robbo that here in the Formerly Great Commonwealth of Virginny, in the middle of June, I find it necessary to wear long pants and a sweatshirt while working out on my porch, and that after an hour or two of it I’m downright shivering.

I know it won’t last, of course, but still…..

Thank yew, Glowbull Enwarmening!!

UPDATE:  How chilly was Ol’ Robbo this morning?  So chilly I forgot to plug my power cord into the wall socket.  Result?  Both of my laptops suddenly went dark just now.

It was….disconcerting.  For a moment I thought “They” had finally caught up with me!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is anything going on in the world?  Lessee….

Well, Coronapalooza continues to be both a fraud and a farce.  And Francisco Franco is still dead.

I saw somewhere that somebody had labeled the Current Unpleasantness as the “1793 Project”, which made me smile.  You may argue the denizens of “Chaz” or “Chomp” or “Soymalia” or whatever it is and their ilk are more Maoists than Jacobins but hey, potato/potahto.

Ol’ Robbo didn’t get the chance to comment on the attempted disappearing of “Gone With The Wind” and “The Germans” episode of “Fawlty Towers” before the censors evidently backtracked in the face of popular outrage.  I’ve DVD’s of both so on a personal level this doesn’t affect me much, but I’m glad of the pushback anyway.  Gives one hope that the Silent Majority might really be a Thing.

On that note, Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember a time when if I objected to somebody else’s form of expression, a crucifix in a jar of wee-wees or a photo of a fellah with a bullwhip protruding from an unlikely orifice or a burning American flag for example, I was advised by my betters just not to look at them.

Oh, and on that note, this blog supports Elmer Fudd’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.  (Not that Ol’ Robbo endorses any attempt to generate new Loony Toons.  Mel Blanc is dead and gone, peace be upon him, and anyway the whole franchise went to hell some time in the mid-60’s when it stopped being a part of the package got up for adult movie goers and deliberately became a kiddy-oriented product.  Nonetheless, the point remains.  What’s Fudd going to do now? Speak with Bugs’ manager?)

Feh.  On second thoughts, let’s not look out on the world.  It ’tis a silly place.

So what’s happening closer to home?

The big news is that Middle Gel successfully completed her scuba rescue certification this weekend.  As I understand it, this is a major milestone in the advancement of a diver.  She’ll be going for her master diver cert some time soon.

Oh, and remember how Ol’ Robbo was griping about the Gel’s car having another attack of the vapors?  Well, she picked it up from the dealership in Newport News this morning.  On her way back up to Port Swiller Manor, some piece of debris hit her in front, causing a strip of plastic lining the front, right wheel-well to pop out.  Grrrr.  Sensibly, she stopped at a gas station, bought a roll of duct tape, and triaged the thing back into place.  That’s my gel!  (Fortunately, looking it over, I believe I can anchor the thing back down myself without the Volkswagen bandits rooking me for even more money.  But still…Grrrrrrr)

Meanwhile, Youngest got laid off from her Starbucks gig last week due to crashed sales.  Absurdly enough, I think she’s actually going to make more coin over the next six weeks from unemployment than she otherwise would have working.  As this is supposed to be her pocket money for shipping off to college this fall (and things are now a go for that), Ol’ Robbo is not complaining.

Decanter Dog goes in for her check-up this week and we’re seriously going to enquire into anxiety meds.  As everybody in the house has noticed, she seems to have got markedly more neurotic recently, and cooks off at every little sound or movement.  Damme if I know why she’s suddenly ramped it up to eleventy, but it’s a real pain.

And on the subject of pets, I recently uncovered not so much a conspiracy as an exploratory committee into the idea of bringing another kitten into Port Swiller Manor.  I stomped on this immediately.  In the first place, I pointed out, the remaining Decanter Cat, after having spent years quietly skulking in the shadows of her companion kittehs, far from feeling lonely has blossomed in her solo spotlight in the past six months.  In the second place, while Decanter Dog was willing to accept the fact of the then-current kittehs when she first came to us, I’ve every confidence she’d kill any new intruder.  Harsh, but so is Life.

Ol’ Robbo made a DYI attempt at cutting his own hair this evening, a first in my fifty-five years on this planet.  Specifically, I took a pair of scissors to my four-month-old ducktails, cutting them in as near a straight line as I could.  None of the wimminz-folk at dinner broke out in howls of derisive laughter, Bruce, so I guess I didn’t butcher the job too badly.  (There is No…RULE…SIX!!)

Finally, I offer you a picture of a single jasmine cluster.  Regular friends of the decanter will know of Ol’ Robbo’s jasmine-related woes.  As dearly as I love the stuff, and despite all the “hearty variety” flim-flam served up by various nurseries, it just doesn’t survive this far north.  I’ve planted a dozen different specimens the past few years, but of them all only one has survived.  Absurdly, it’s the one that has the greatest exposure and least sunlight compared to all the others, and only grows a couple feet during the season.  And yet, it managed to put out this cluster this year.  A metaphor for Hope in our debased times?  A freak of glowbull enwarmening?  A one-off to be wiped out the next really cold wintah?  I dunno.

Enjoy it nonetheless.









Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is very happy to report this evening his first sighting this year of fireflies on the grounds of Port Swiller Manor. As regular friends of the decanter may recall from previous mid-June posts here, I dearly love fireflies.*

There only seem to be one or two at the moment but I look forward to seeing the tree-line full of them shortly.

As I’m sure I’ve noted here frequently in the past, one of my fondest relevant memories is of the summah I spent at my godparents’ house outside Fred-Vegas** after my first year of law school.  (I was interning in the Senate.)  After a particularly violent thunderstorm in the early evening, I happened to go outside.  The hedge across the way was so full of fireflies, I swear I could almost hear the sound of their collective illumination.  Pah! Pah! Pah! And to this day, I still think of a lyric from the Ten Thousand Maniacs song “The Painted Desert”:  “The stars were so many there they seemed to overlap.”***

As I say, shiny.

Also this evening I spotted my first bats of the year flittering above the demesne.

This also made me very happy, as I love bats, too, but I recognize I have to be somewhat more circumspect about that.  Fireflies, so far as I know, are completely uncontroversial, while bats can be terribly polarizing.  Indeed, Mrs. R hates them with a passion, which is why I’ve resisted the temptation to tack a bat-house to the foundations of Port Swiller Manor all these years.

It’s also why later I shall break the joyous news of the former to her while keeping mum about the latter.

However, since this is my blog, which is mine, and which so far as I know Mrs. R still doesn’t read,**** I will offer here a toast to both.


* In Ol’ Robbo’s yoot in South Texas, I first learned to call them lightning bugs.  However, I don’t know if this was a result of my parents’ Yankee antecedents or the local usage.  (On this front, ask me some time about the grief I got among my peers over my family-taught use of the term “sand-burrs” for what they called “stickers”.)

** Fredericksburg, Virginny.  It’s a family joke.

*** Shut up.

**** And may it stay that way.

UPDATE: Damme if I know why that first asterisk-point is formatted differently.  WordPress evidently hates cut n’ paste and I’m too tired to go back and fiddle with it manually.  Just ignore it, thankee.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Life goes on.

Yesterday morning, Middle Gel took Decanter Dog off to the groomers to get her summah cut.  She returned very shortly thereafter, however:  D. Dog had checked off too many signs of stress boxes and had therefore been refused service.  Instead, at the groomers’ recommendation, the Gel brought home a starter clipper set.

Now you may ask yourself, “Self? What does Ol’ Robbo know from dog grooming?”  The answer is nut n’ honey.  Nevertheless, Mrs. R and I endeavored to persevere.  We pulled D. Dog out on the patio and between us started buzzing away.  I can’t say we were methodical, or even particularly consistent, and I’m sure AKA-types would have conniptions at our results.  But it seemed to us that we did a good enough job.  (And she must be cooler: I picked up enough shaved fur to stuff a medium sized pillow.)

I may say that Decanter Dog herself was quite patient with us throughout, even while I held her up so Mrs. R could have a go at her backside.  Meanwhile, I could barely resist the temptation to start yelling at Mrs. R, “Where is her Busy Bee?  Where is her Busy Bee??!! You go find her Busy Bee RIGHT NOW!!” ***

Then last evening, even amidst the series of thunderboomers that rolled through, we had a little home graduation celebration for Youngest.  She had picked up cap and gown earlier in the week, and had put on the dress she had originally bought for senior prom.  So after I retrieved my jaw from the floor (she was seriously stunning), we did the obligatory family pictures.  (This was the first time Ol’ Robbo had put on a tie since mid-March, by the bye.)  Dinner itself, at which Youngest’s best friend was also present, consisted of P.F. Chang take-out and a bottle of champers, plus macaroons and ice-cream cake for dessert.  It was considerably more enjoyable than many more elaborate affairs to which I’ve been dragged.

This morning I discovered that my weed-whacker is on the fritz again:  The end of the gas line has popped out of the tank.  This is a problem I’ve dealt with before but for some reason simply pushing it back in again is not working this time.  So I will need to run to the hardware store later (twist Ol’ Robbo’s arm!) and find some Flex-Seal or something to lock it down.  If I have any left over, perhaps I’ll also build a motorboat out of a chicken coop!

As I say, life goes on.

***Spot the quote.

UPDATE:  The weed-whacker repair was a success! I needle-nose pliered the tube back into the tank outlet, slathered the connection with some clear, all-purpose epoxy, and let the thing sit for twenty-four hours.  Worked like a charm this afternoon.

So, how about some hydrangea (oak-leaf, of course)?  I planted about a dozen of them behind my garden fence when we first moved into Port Swiller Manor twenty years ago and they’ve matured into a solid hedge that blossoms consistently and enthusiastically every year:

The big clusters of white make a very nice backdrop for the various reds, yellows, blues, and purples that come up in front of them.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was checking up today to see if there was any news of the impending cicada hatch about which I’ve been grumbling here the past couple weeks when I made a startling discovery:  It isn’t happening here (at least not this year).

You see, when I first heard Brood IX was going to cook off in the Mid-Atlantic shortly, I just assumed it to be the return of our local horde, since the timing seemed more or less right.  But I then went over to Cicada Mania, and on closer examination of their map and brood table, realized that this hatch is located out in the western part of Virginny, as well as West Virginia and North Carolina.  On the other hand, Port Swiller Manor is under the footprint of Brood X, which isn’t scheduled to pop until next year.


As somebody (perhaps the Iron Duke but probably not) said, never “assume” because it makes an “ass” of “u” and “me”.

But at least this means the plague actually will be booted down the road a bit.  And if it’s a subtraction from this annus horribilis of one-damn-thing-after-another, I don’t mind a little egg on the face in admitting my mistake.


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July 2020