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"Semper vigilo"

“Semper vigilo”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has discovered that the more comfortable Daisy the Port Swiller Dog has grown with her surroundings, the more possessive of them she also has become, to the extent that she starts barking her fool head off every time she imagines she hears or sees something violating the Port Swiller Manor perimeter.  I expect the neighbors are all heartily sick of it by now.  Certainly it gets on our nerves at times.

Back in the days of my misspent yoot, we had a Scottie who used to do the same thing, much to our annoyance.  When you told him to shut up, he’d offer to bite you.  If you moved in on him threateningly, more often than not he did bite you.  Indeed, one of my books of Haydn piano sonatas still bears his teeth marks from when I tried to swat him with it for making so much noise while I was trying to practice.

Daisy is a bit different.  When you tell her to shut up, she simply feigns incomprehension.  (Oh, there’s feigning going on there, alright.  No doubt about it.)  If you move on her, she collapses into an invertebrate jelly and makes you feel like a cad.

Just like Jonah Goldberg’s Cosmo the Wonderdog had his Jacobin squirrels to deal with, Daisy is obsessed with a Progressivist groundhog who has a burrow in the raspberry bushes in front of the garden.   She spend hours on the porch surveying the back yard and hoping to spot him in his comings and goings, again going into hysterics whenever she spots him.  And every time we let her out into the yard for a potty break, she makes a bee-line for the burrow in order to check it out.  She then goes to the spot in the fence where said groundhog is accustomed to getting through.  (I did not realize before that groundhogs possess the same superpower as cats, in that they can make themselves two-dimensional for purposes of slipping through cracks.  Fortunately, dogs do not possess this power.)

Amidst all the hubbub, I simply try to remind myself that dogs are gonna dog.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found himself able to skip mowing the Port Swiller Manor lawn today owing to the recent bout of dry weather.

b-flies2With the unexpected extra time on my hands, I not only got through some entries on Mrs. R’s honey-do list, but I also had some time to play around with my new iPhone out in the butterfly garden and try some pics of its denizens.

Most of the 25 to 30 or so butterflies that can be found there at any given time are Papilio glaucus, otherwise known as the eastern tiger swallowtail.  I know they’re common as dammit, but I think they’re quite handsome things nonetheless and love to sit out watching them fool about.  The ones with blue on their tails are the females.

b-flies(Incidentally, a little observation quickly establishes that butterflies do not flit around aimlessly – they are quite capable of extremely sophisticated aerobatics when they want.)

We used to get some monarchs now and again, which seemed mostly attracted to the butterfly weed that I used to grow.  I haven’t seen any this year, although this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t around.

There are also a few other species that I haven’t identified, plus several kinds of moths including a small, white one and also this thing: moth

Plus, of course, all the honeybees, bumblebees, various other winged insects and hummingbirds.

It gets rayther crowded in there sometimes.

When I started out with the Port Swiller Manor garden fifteen years ago, I had highly ambitious plans for something carefully and cleverly laid out.  It was going to have all kinds of subtle color combinations and a steady flow of blooms from earliest spring right through till the frost.

Well…..the demands of time, energy, money, predation by various varmints and critters, all these factors gradually persuaded me that such vaulting ambition really wasn’t going to work out.  So I fell back on what I have now – a Dryad mishmash of Buddleia running rough-shod, some cupflower, a few iris and foxgloves in the shade.  It generally reaches its peak in late July, after which the morning-glory starts taking over.  Aside from cutting it all back in late winter and doing some weeding early in the growing season, I pretty much leave it to itself.  And as I say, it’s full of butterflies and whatnot all summah.

Some day, perhaps, I’ll plot out a few sections to reintroduce some other varieties: butterfly weed, milkweed, coneflower, sunflower and the like.

However, things are good enough for me for now.

UPDATE:  I believe that last chap is a silver-spotted skipper and is actually another butterfly, not a moth.  The big head threw me.

 

 

 

 

 

Daisy At Her Post

Daisy At Her Post

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself overwhelmed by the number of inquiries from friends of the decanter about the status of Daisy, the Port Swiller Manor canem of which all villains should cave.

Whelp, I’ll tell you this:  We’ve had the old girl for about three months now.  She’s a sweetie.  She’s loyal and protective.  Ut-bay, e-shay’s ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you get my drift.  At least, I think she isn’t.

For one thing, teh dog is obsessed with the Jacobin Groundhog Menace.  Said groundhogs had a burrow in front of teh garden gate when Daisy arrived on the scene and we had a bit of a kerfluffle blocking off exit points around the perimeter fence to keep her from chasing them out of the yard.  Eventually this was done and I’m sure the groundhogs have long since shifted their base of operations, but Daisy is still convinced they haven’t abandoned their original post.  Every time we let her out, she makes a bee-line for the spot, and when she’s out on the porch she spend all her time watching it (which see).  Indeed, recently she’s taken to stalking the hole and to spending considerable time parked in front of it…..just in case.

Daft animal.

Another thing is her attitude to doors.  If a door (specifically, the one out on to the porch) is open by so much as a crack, teh kittehs will pull or push on it in order to get through.  Indeed, if it’s closed, they’ll hurl themselves against it until somebody comes along to let them through.  Not so, Daisy.  Unless the door is open sufficiently wide to let her pass through completely unhindered, she’ll sit and stare at it in consternation.

Daft, daft animal.

The other thing is her evident fondness for a tennis ball with a squeaker in it (again, which see).  We’ve taken to calling said ball her “binky” and she hates, hates to be parted from it.

As I say, I think she’s not that bright, but I’m not completely convinced.  When confronted with Alpha-male authori-tah, teh dog has a passive-passive-aggressive approach that would cause Alexander to start pulling his hair out in frustration.  Trying to discipline her is equivalent to trying to discipline Jello, and about as effective.  This may just be what it is, but part of me can’t help thinking it’s by design.

Were Daisy a cat, I’d have no doubt whatsoever that I was being pawned.  It’s only the fact that she’s a dog which gives me doubt.

Anyhoo, that’s where we are.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will know what a Luddite ol’ Robbo is as a general rule, so I warn you now that you may be in for a bit of a shock.  Yes, I now seem to own an iPhone.

You see, for years and years now, to the extent I have used a cell phone at all, I have relied on an old Motorola flip-phone.  Why? Because it was the one given to me when we first got cell service and I’ve never bothered to upgrade, largely because I avoid the phone whenever possible and it always seemed adequate for the few times I’ve been forced to use it.  (In fact, I still don’t even know my own cell number.)

But if you’ll scroll down a bit, you’ll see some pics I took on my recent trip out West.  There, I was using a work-issued iPhone and decided to try out the camera function.  I have to admit that I rayther enjoyed it, although I realized that with a work phone, I was very, very limited in the sorts of things I could photograph and transmit.

I mentioned this casually to Mrs. R this weekend and it proved to be all the encouragement she needed to go and raid the Apple store.   There, she got an upgrade for herself, and arranged for me to take her old iPhone as a hand-me-down.

Chillin'

Chillin’

So I’ve been fiddling with the thing off and on today.  All I really wanted above and beyond basic cell service was the ability to take pictures and post them.  And does it work?  Well, here is the scene from this evening (and, indeed, most early evenings here at Port Swiller Manor) that I took while playing with it a while ago:

I hope you like it, as I would like to make my own pics a more regular part of my blogging.  (But this is absolutely as far as I go, technologically speaking!)

By the bye, how on earth do these calling plans work?  From what Mrs. R tried to tell me, it sounded as if Verizon paid her to do this double-switch.  Either she’s pulling my leg, or there are some strange, strange metrics that go into the pricing.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, ol’ Robbo’s summah hols officially began.  (I say “officially” because at least in spirit I had already left the office at the beginning of the week, doing nothing much more than sorting things between that which I could ignore until I get back and that which I could ignore full stop.)  Tomorrow we go to meet up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family at a lake house on which we’re going snacks, there to loaf about, perhaps kayak a bit, play some croquet and badminton, and drink large quantities of adult beverages.

We tried this a couple years ago down in the Outer Banks and I can’t say I enjoyed it very much.  The “house” there was actually a condo built right smack in the middle of a zillion other condos.  It was too small for the ten of us and the whole area was far, far too crowded for Robbo’s taste.  This year we’ve got a real house, set on its own on a little point of land with a dock and a small beach, so I’m hoping it will be genuinely relaxing.

“Say, Robbo, don’t you usually go up tah Maine and stare at the bay?” I hear some of you asking.  Well, yes, we did for many years, but I’m afraid that’s about over.  The cottage is crumbling and, not being very efficient slumlords or investment wizards, we just don’t generate the kind of dosh necessary to really fix it up or, better yet, knock it down and start over.  So it’s on the market.  (If any of you are interested, ignore that part about crumbling.)  Also, I just don’t think Mrs. R and the gels really liked it very much – they are of the school of holiday-making that requires stimulation and entertainment, two things you’re just not going to find in Midcoast Maine.  I’m sure gonna miss it, though.

Anyhoo, I probably won’t be around here very much for the next week, so for your consideration I present some few thoughts still idling round my otherwise rapidly stagnating braim:

♦   I must say that I continue to delight in watching Gozer the Gozarian Teh Donald flip the bird at the MSM (or, as the Puppy-Blender likes to call them, “Democratic operatives with bylines”) and cause the GOP Establishment to soil its collective undies.  The GOPe has absolutely nobody to blame for all this than themselves.  While the Donks have gone national socialist, the GOP has gone Vichy despite being elected specifically to stop the drift lurch left.  Teh Donald is simply filling the void where we fools thought the Establishment would stand and fight.  To hell with them.  (Oh, and here’s a pro tip, GOPe:  Don’t call us stupid.)

♦  Speaking of such things, I see where Berke Breathed has resurrected Bloom County.  Good on him and I hope he keeps it up.  I’m curious to see how well he gets on.  Although he’s something of a lefty, B.C. was never of the same self-rightious un-funny smarminess as Doonesbury and Breathed wasn’t afraid to go after twits on his side of the fence from time to time.   However, that was back in the 80’s and 90’s, before the advent of the Social Justice Warrior cadre.  Wonder what will happen the first time he takes a swipe at one of their sacred cows.  (Small point of trivia: Breathed went to college with my high school Latin teacher.)

♦  What can ol’ Robbo say of his beloved Nationals except thank God the rest of the N.L. East is so awful this year.   In case you haven’t been following things, our trouble is injuries: better than half of our starters are out at the moment.  And while the bench guys have been doing as well as anyone could possibly hope, there’s a reason they’re bench guys after all.   During the game last evening, F.P. Santangelo (the Nats’ teevee color guy) said the team reminded him of the Memphis Belle – banged up, shot up, but still leading.  I chuckled appreciatively at that little bit of historickal allusion.

♦  Following up on our bear-sighting of this week, I was out mowing in the little clearing behind the back fence this morning (keeping an eye peeled over my shoulder, you may be sure) when I suddenly stepped in the answer to the rhetorical question about bears and woods.  Yes.  Yes, they do.

♦  The Family Robbo has been obsessed over the past couple weeks with playing a board game called Colorku, which seems to be Sudoku involving colored balls instead of numbers.  Being a crossword snob, I never got into sudoku myself so have no real interest in this game either, but anything that gets the gels off their damned iThingies is just fine with me.

Whelp, I suppose I had ought to go and see about packing.  Or at least thinking about packing.  Or possibly thinking about when it will be time to start thinking about packing.  Or something.   Meanwhile, you all know the drill:  Decanter and walnuts are on the table and the Stilton is on the sideboard.  Swill till your eyes bubble and I’ll be back later.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that no, Daisy dog does not accompany us.  Instead, she’s off this afternoon to a sort of free-range kennel we found.  It’s a big farm of so many acres and they basically just let the dogs run around all day and bring ’em inside at night.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ever have one of those strange, strange days?

This morning teh Eldest called me at work and informed me that a black bear was wandering around outside our back fence.  There have been increasing reports of them in our neck of the woods over the past couple years but this is the first time I’d heard of one in our immediate vicinity.

I called up the County Animal Control people to report the sighting, since ours is a residential area and a lot of people like to walk their dogs in the woods behind us.  “Oh,” said the dispatcher, “We don’t respond to that sort of thing.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied, “Just a wild animal being part of nature, that’s all.”

This must be a new policy.  I know for a fact that when a bear popped up a mile or two away from us last summah the County police tracked him down and carted him off.

This afternoon I told the Eldest what they’d said.  Now she worries the bear will come back.  “Dad,” she said, “Do you think the bear could climb the fence, come up to the basement and get in and get me?”

“Sure,” I replied, “All bears carry skeleton keys and glass-cutters for that very purpose.”

She was not amused.

Meanwhile, when I went to start up La Wrangler yesterday afternoon after work, she wouldn’t fire.  So I left her at my work garage and metro’d home.  Today I spent rayther a lot of time dealing with Triple-A, as first they sent a battery guy and then later a tow-truck (driven by the tightest-mouthed badasss I’ve ever met, who also happened to be a wizard at navigating extremely tight spaces with his truck).  I just got home a while ago from dropping her off at the dealer and am in dread:  The last time they got their hooks on her, they found about a zillion different things that needed “immediate attention”.  Although I think in this case the alternator just went out, I bet they’ll do so again.  Must. Be. Firm.

In the meantime, my loaner is a Nisan Versa “Note”, a vehicle I’d never heard of before that looks not unlike a shuttlecraft from Star Trek: TNG.  Driving it, I feel like a complete hipster doofus.  You might as well slap “Co-exist” and “Draft Lizzie!” stickers, together with a rainbow flag, on the back and have done with it.

What makes this week a bit more tolerable?  The fact that I go on summah hols Friday and have slipped into that pre-vacation who-really-gives-a-damn mindset.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  A few odds and ends on this stormy, Nats rained out, evening, for your consideration:

♦  Ol’ Robbo continues to believe that Social Media is the new young god on the political scene these days:  swaying Low Information Voters, stampeding Big Biznay and scaring the absolute shite out of the politicos.  Unfortunately, it’s also a petulant, spoiled, adolescent god with a massive Narcissist complex, an absentee father, a mother driven to bribe it for faux-affection,  and an agenda that amounts to showing them all how wrong they were.

 God (the real one) help us all.

♦  On these lines, I recently looked into purchasing a complete DVD set of The Dukes of Hazzard in protest of the sudden urge to airbrush the Confederate Battle Flag off the top of the General Lee.  250 to 300 bucks? Not bloody likely!

♦  An completely gratuitous note: John Schneider, who played Bo Duke in TDoH:TOS, bought a house in San Antonio originally built by ol’ Robbo’s parents.  Yeah, buddy, I and my brother were the guys who first cleared that 2.5 acres of brush and scrub and established the lawn and gardens.  You’re welcome.

♦  Also, perhaps more importantly, on these general pre-totalitarian lines, I absolutely love this bumper sticker.

♦  Speaking of new things, are other friends of teh decanter slightly creepified by the new Kentucky Fried Chicken ad campaign featuring a zombie Colonel Sanders?  I’m old enough to remember ol’ Harland himself doing said spots.  He was gracious and dignified.  This new fellah? Snarky, flippant, and, for lack of a better term, icky.  Not a good thing.  Is there no one in the Sanders family who could step up and do a legacy thing the way Dave Thomas’s daughter did for Wendy’s?  (Okay, I confess that I thought the “Wendy” Thomas ad campaign was rayther lame and much prefer the current hot ginger, neo-Dana Delany thing, but that’s a different matter.)

♦   Dana Delany.  Be right back.

♦  Modern Times.  I was 13 before I took my first commercial jet flight – a fly-fishing trip to Alaska, accompanied by much ballyhoo and bedlam- and also accompanied and heavily monitored by the Old Gentleman.  This evening I finally caved in to teh youngest gel’s request to hop a flight some time soon with her best friend to Chicago to visit said friend’s father.

♦   Okay, to finish up, I still love this.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Re an item in the post immediately below, no fencing for Port Swiller Manor today after all:  It’s been raining steadily since last night, sometimes quite heavily.  (In fact, looking at the radar, it appears the last big burst of the storm is going to hit us in a little while.)

I had been thinking before today’s monsoon struck that this might have been a good weekend to cut back the forsythia.  Some years ago, I would have sallied forth to do so regardless of the weather.  More recently, I would have refrained but fumed about it all day.  Now?  I simply said meh and have spent most of the day reading Evelyn Waugh.

Progress, I like to think.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo left this morning to go visit her parents for a couple days, teh younger gels are off at summah camp and I hardly ever see the eldest anymore, so this weekend is effectively just your host and his menagerie.  Woo Hoo!

♦   Thanks to what was a pretty strong consensus here, I ordered a new set of headphones for my musickal evenings this morning.  Thankee muchly for your recommendations.  It only took me two months to get around to it.  Procrastinate we much?

♦    Speaking of electronics, I find myself hating smartphones more and more.   I especially despise the zombie-like way everyone seems to stare at them, oblivious to their surroundings.

♦    I see where Phil Austin, who played Nick Danger for Firesign Theater, died this week.  My college roommate first put me on to these guys and I wound up buying a couple of their albums.  True, it’s dirty hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor, but it was still pretty durn funny.  (I say “was” because I had cassette tapes, now long gone, and it must be close to twenty years since I last listened to them.)

♦  I also see where the Vegas odds-makers are betting Robbo’s beloved Nationals are going to win it all this year.   I dunno, but since we just got done sweeping both the Bucs and the Braves, I’m starting to get excited.  [Insert obligatory “Great kid, but don’t get cocky” here.]  We’re supposed to start a series against the despicable Phillies this evening, but I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate.

♦  Fence guy is coming tomorrow to slap up some wire on the fence in the Port Swiller backyard, thereby allowing us to literally let Daisy off the leash on occasion (under supervision, of course, in case she proves a digger).  We decided against the whole Invisible Fence thing because of the price and the complexity and because I’m unwilling to try training her on it when she’s already so skittish around me.  The squirrels and the woodchucks are in for a nasty surprise.

♦   Speaking of the back yard, ol’ Robbo demonstrated his apparent genius for stumbling across yellow jacket nests yet again the other evening.  I was throwing up a tarp against a corner of the house where we think water is getting into the basement again and thumped down a paving stone literally within two inches of one of their burrows.  Fortunately, a storm was rolling in and it was already quite dark, so even though I disturbed them, they only came out sluggishly and I got away without being stung this time.

Well, also speaking of the back yard, time to go mow it before the rain rolls in.  Whatever terrible nooz comes out today, I’m not going to let it ruin things for me.  Don’t you let it, either.

UPDATE: Done and done.  Everything’s mown, trimmed and blown so it can rain now ’til its eyes bubble for all I care.  And, Eldest Gel, who has been working all week at her church’s vacation bible school, is bringing me home an egg, cheese and bagel sammich.  FTW!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the area around Port Swiller Manor has been under the dreaded “orange” air-quality alert the last few days – highs in the 90’s, heavy humidity, Lady Summah giving of her early best (or worst, depending on how you look at it).

♦   Yesterday afternoon, caught up in the ebullience of having got my hair cut and my oil changed (finally), I decided to get a hop on the weekend’s chores by going out and mowing the yard.  Yeah, maybe not such a good idea.  By the time I was done, my muscles were cramping up and I was feeling woozy.  When I woke up this morning, I at first had the odd idea that there was a small bale of hay stuck in my throat.  Evidently, I am not 30 anymore.

♦   We put up a couple of fuchsias in hanging baskets on the porch this year, just by way of variety.  For those of you who have not dealt with them before, I’m here to tell you that they take a whoooole lot of watering.  I’m not so sure I’d bother with them again.

♦    Saw a hummingbird zipping about last evening, so this afternoon I put up a feeder to see if I could get the little blighter to stick around.  Mucking about for something by which to hang it, I came across some chain from an old flower basket that must have been sitting in the back of its cabinet for a good ten years or so.  This reaffirms one of ol’ Robbo’s rules:  Never, ever throw anything away unless you absolutely have to.

♦  We have a lot of goldfinch around here and I have always set out a second feeder full of Wagner’s nyjer seed for them.  At peak times, it’s not at all uncommon to see ten or a dozen goldfinch flitting about the feeder.  However, a few weeks ago I had to substitute a generic thistle seed.  The result was that the birds promptly vanished.  After letting the substitute thistle sit around for a while, I recently went back to the Wagner’s.  The birds were back in within a day or two.  I guess they really like the stuff.

♦  And last, I finally got around to reseeding a bare patch of about 450 square feet in the back yard.  I dutifully spread potting soil, seed and fertilizer and covered it all up with straw (which, by the way, you can actually order from the devil’s website).  Of course, within 48 hours we had a torrential downpour, which carved large channels through the newly-seeded patch (which sits on a gentle slope).  The new grass is actually beginning to spring up (I seeded it a week ago), but the area is taking on the look of an archipelago.  I suppose the only thing to do is to let the surviving patches establish themselves, while having another go at the bare spots as they are defined.  Or just go with sod and be done with it.

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