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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Must be an awfully slow nooz cycle this afternoon, because at the 6 P.M. top o’ the hour break on the local classickal station, Nihilist Propoganda Radio devoted a portion of its precious three minutes to getting it’s knickers in a wad over the Wisconsin State Senate eliminating the minimum hunting age.  [Sorry, no linky at the moment because WordPress is acting up this evening.]

The piece was mostly about “critics'” concerns that the woods would now be filled with unsupervised shotgun-toting toddlers spraying Death left, right, and center, and How Could Any Responsible Government Allow This?

It was only at the very end the reporter admitted that, in fact, 34 other states have no minimum hunting age.

I laughed out loud at that.

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been hunting in nearly thirty years, nor has he passed on to the Gels any of his remaining knowledge of it.  Mrs. Robbo has a strong Bambi Complex, and said sport was never important enough to me to be worth picking a fight with her over it.

Nonetheless, the nooz does provoke some fond memories.

I must have been about five or six when I first started tramping around after the Old Gentleman as he went quail hunting in South Texas.  On certain special occasions, I was rewarded for my pains by being allowed to fire off his shotgun at a piece of wood floating in a stock tank.  At least once, the thing knocked me down.

When I was seven, I started learning how to shoot in earnest, firing a little .22 at tin cans set up on fence posts in our back yard.  (There was no one living behind us, only empty scrub.)

The next year, I graduated up to a Remington .222, and put in some earnest time at the local rifle range.  During hunting season that year, I bagged a white-tail buck and a big tom turkey (which we had for Christmas dinner – delicious!).

When I was about twelve or thirteen, in addition to my rifle work, I started learning to use a shotgun, shooting skeet in the summah and hunting duck in the winter.  By the time I was a senior in high school, I was actually a pretty decent wing-shot.

And that was it.  I went off to college and don’t recall ever deer hunting again.  The aforementioned Last Hunt (dove hunting with the Old Gentleman in the South Carolina Low Country) was over Christmas Break of either my first or second year of law school, and my eyes were so damn bad by then that I couldn’t even see the bloody birds, much less knock them down.

So that was that.

Still, as I say, I’m fond of the memories.

Now, so long as I’m on the topic of guns, I will also say that the one thing I dearly wish to happen is that the Gels all learn to arm and defend themselves.  Alas, I can’t put them any knowledge myself, because I’ve never actually fired a handgun in my life.  The signs, however, are hopeful:

For one thing, even though Mrs. R still loathes hunting (because Bambi), she is gradually shaking off her belief that guns are evil and icky and likely to jump up and shoot you all by themselves.  I’ve almost convinced her to let me bring a weapon into Port Swiller Manor for home defense.  (Which reminds me:  My brother still has his Remington 12-guage given to him by the Old Gentleman for Christmas one year.  What the hell ever happened to mine?)  And she does not flat-out object to the idea of the Gels arming up, either.

For another, one of Eldest Gel’s profs teaches an off-campus shooting course from time to time, and she’s said more than once that she’s going to sign up the next time it’s available.  She’s also said she plans to buy a gun as soon as she’s old enough.

For a third, Middle Gel recently went out to a local range with a Young Gentleman friend of hers (and his family), and had a ball blazing away at the targets with a variety of hardware.  (I’m especially concerned about her because she’s such a petite thing.)

Fourth, Youngest is keen to give it a try as well, although based on her learner’s permit driving woes (she struck out on the test for a third time), I’m not sure she has the necessary focus yet.

So there’s that.

 

 

 

 

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all remembered to move your clocks back last evening in accordance with whichever kind of “Official Time” we’re now shifting to (I can never remember which is Daylight Savings and which is Standard).

The most immediate effect at Port Swiller Manor was that Ol’ Robbo did his first “blind grilling” of the season this evening.  There’s no direct light on the Port Swiller patio, only a bit of ambient light coming down from the porch and the library windows above.  So determining when Mrs. R’s feesh  or my own steak is done is really more a matter of dead reckoning than anything else. (Don’t worry; I’m a professional.)

Of course, the time change also means that starting tomorrow, Ol’ Robbo’s evening commute goes completely dark.  In one sense, this is a Good Thing, in that it means there are fewer cyclists and pedestrians wandering heedlessly across my path in that self-centered way of theirs.  In another, though, it’s a Bad Thing, in that those who do wander thusly are a heck of a lot harder to spot.  (I pass over several crosswalks heavily used by students at one of the downtown universities.  Half the time, they don’t even bother to look.  Damned kids.)

And of course, we’re about six or seven weeks out from the winter solstice, which means that even though I now get an extra hour of light for my morning commute, soon that one will be reduced to darkness as well.   (And my doc wonders why I have a Vitamin D deficiency!)

This time of year is always a bit disconcerting, because commuting between the Swamp and the Port Swiller neighborhood, I can no longer really notice what’s going on around me, and it’s only if I happen to be out driving about, say, on a weekend, that I get to “catch up” as it were in the “Yikes, when did they knock that house down?”  or the “Oh, so that’s the roadkill the stink is coming from!” sense.

(Oh, and speaking of clocks and commuting, the one clock I never change is the one in La Wrangler.  The dealer set it for me when I bought her back in April, 2003, and I haven’t touched it since.  As of now, it’s an hour (and three minutes) fast, and will stay that way until we switch over again.  For some reason, this irritates the hell out of my family.  Heh.)

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

*Assumes Andy Rooney voice* – Ever have one of those moments when you suddenly realize how fast life is actually moving?

I was thinking about that early this morning after I heard Middle Gel slip out of the house and drive off.  She’s going to an all-district choir audition today, and then later is off to a Young Life weekend retreat somewhere out in the country.  I won’t see her again until late tomorrow evening.

Then again, last weekend when she was home from college, I helped Eldest rehearse a mock video job interview for her public speaking class and realized that’s going to be the real deal before I know it.

And then again, again, yesterday I had to put my foot down with the Youngest and say I didn’t care whether there was a guestroom or not, or who else was going to be there, she was not staying overnight at her boyfriend’s house because Nice Young Ladies Don’t Do That Sort Of Thing, so stop asking!

To cap it all off, the Mothe would have been 83 today.  Ol’ Robbo is still pretty shaken up about losing her.  Ironically, though, because of that loss, the Port Swiller Manor mortgage goes bye-bye today.

To quote a favorite soliloquy:  “Vrooom! What was that?  That was your life, mate.  Oh, that’s nice – do I get another?  Sorry, mate.”

Oh, well.  Back to the world of dreams….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, another Halloween is upon us.

As regular friends of the decanter know, Ol’ Robbo is not at all fond of this “holiday”.

Indeed, this year, I didn’t even bother to carve a jack-o-lantern, even though this is one of the very few aspects of the day that I’ve always really rather enjoyed, as I see it as a vestige of the original spirit of the day and not the product of the nasty modern secular/commercial virus which has infected this and just about every other holiday (with the possible exceptions of the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving) in this wretched day and age.  (So long as we’re talking three triangles and a toothy grin, and none of this fancy-shmancy “pumpkin art” stuff, mind you).   We have a pumpkin, but it remains un-lobotomized and faceless on the front porch, and will stay there in such condition probably until the beginning of Advent.

Not that it matters much.  What with where Port Swiller Manor lies in relation to the rest of the neighborhood, we get very, very little traffic here.  Even our next door neighbors, who have three small kids, general go off to the trick or trunk at the local church.  UPDATE: Of course as I typed this, some kiddies showed up at the door!

Also, of course, the Gels have outgrown the day, so there’s nothing much in it for us now.  Indeed, the only nod paid was by Youngest Gel, who went to school in a home-made Waluigi costume that consisted of nothing more than a long-sleeved purple shirt and a set of “overalls” jury-rigged from her jeans and a pair of suspenders she borrowed from me.  Truth be told, she looked rather fetching.

Fortunately, tomorrow is All Saints Day, one of Ol’ Robbo’s very favorites in the entire calendar.  So I will spend the balance of this evening hiding, and looking forward to a better day in the morning.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely Saturday at Port Swiller Manor today.  The weather’s supposed to break tomorrow, but for now porch-sitting and dinner grilling is the order of things.

The leaves are starting to come down, but fortunately not in such numbers that I can’t simply run them over and mulch them in as I mow the lawn.  That’s an image that has always given Ol’ Robbo an immense amount of satisfaction, by the bye; the clean, green swath through the dapple of oranges and browns.  I also love the smell when leaf mulch gets up on to the mower chassis and starts to smoke.

So on the one hand, Mrs. Robbo went down to Flahrduh to visit her parents and grandmother (who just turned 94) this weekend, while on the other the Eldest Gel came home from school for a little R&R after finishing up her midterms.  She and I and the Youngest sat around for about an hour this morning, companionably trading observations and anecdotes about the insanity of the world around us.

Ol’ Robbo was pleased that the Gels were so chummy with each other:  For a long time, the Eldest thought the Youngest so social, flighty and frivolous that it was only a matter of time before she turned up one day with a pierced nose, tats all over, a biker boyfriend, and/or a head full of SJW Cultural Marxist propaganda.  And out of a spirit of what can only be called divilment, the Youngest loved to jerk on the Eldest’s very short chain.  As a result, there was a period of almost continual feuding between them.  Fortunately, while the Youngest remains extremely social, and does in fact have a Young Man (a very good kid, by the bye, who is causing ol’ Robbo little or no anxiety),  she is increasingly showing the skepticism and common sense with which Mrs. R and I have spent all this time trying to equip her for dealing with Life.

Skepticism (about worldly things) and common sense.  To that, I’d also add Faith (in Godly things), although we’re still working on that one.  (Middle Gel is the only one of the three who I would describe as explicitly Christian, in that I know she spends a lot of time thinking about it.   The other two have the Spirit in them as well, not very far down below the surface, but still not as consciously developed.)  And what is both remarkable and gratifying is how strong an armor this combination is proving to be as they navigate the pitfalls of this wretched world, whether it be peer-pressure, academic brainwashing, or media assault.  There are still many things on my Dad Card for me to worry about, but that any of them will turn out dupes, snowflakes,  or wrong ‘uns is not one of them.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo went in for his annual (actually, it’s been a bit over two years) physical yesterday afternoon.

Seems I’m still in reasonable shape.  Within five pounds of my college weight, no major organ problems, bones fine, etc., etc.  On the other hand, I do have a few small issues.  My blood-pressure and cholesterol are a bit elevated and I seem to have a few vitamin deficiencies.  Not exactly E. Henry Thripshaw’s Disease-level worries, but Stuff Relatively Sedate Men In Early Middle Age have to deal with.  I’m supposed to go back next week to “consult” about these things.

Meh.

However, the high point of the visit was when my Doc surprised me by earnestly suggesting I really ought to cut back on my wine and coffee drinking (neither of which, IMHO, is particularly excessive).  She’s my age, and evidently several of her friends of our vintage have up and died recently from various causes.  I think this has rather spooked her.

I held my tongue at the time, and waited until I was back in the parking lot before I let out a Wayne Campbellish, “Shyeah, right!”

I mean, really!

I didn’t think much more of it until I got the fancy-shmancy electronic copy of her examination report today and saw that she’d actually put this stuff down in writing.  Now that it’s on my Permanent Record, I’m toast.  I can just imagine, when mandatory single-payer and its inevitable health-care rationing become Things, being face-to-face with a Dinsdale Piranha-like administrator.  As he looks through my file, he’ll say, “Oi, you’ve been a naughty boy, Clement!”  And when I tell him my name’s not Clement, he’ll split me nostrils open, saw off me leg and pull me liver out.  Then he’ll lose his temper and nail my head to the floor.

At first, yeah.

Oh, the other high point was that when Doc came in, I noticed she was carrying a syringe with her.

“Now,” she said, “You requested a flu shot, right?”

“No,” I said, somewhat bewildered, “I never requested a flu shot.”

“Oh,” she said, “Well, it says here that you did.”

Then I recalled that Mrs. Robbo had casually mentioned getting a call from the Doc’s office confirming my appointment a couple days ago, and that Mrs. R had done the confirming for me.

“Newman!” I blurted out.

I should say that Mrs. R and I have what amounts to a tradition of squabbling about flu shots each Fall.  I don’t want one: I hate needles, believe that the inoculation is at best a hit-or-miss affair anyway, and would rather run the risk of having to tough it out should I become infected.  She thinks otherwise.

So when I got home and she asked me how the visit went, I simply smiled coldly and said, “Nice try.”

UPDATE:  And per the title of this post, obligatory:

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to go out on a limb here and suggest the kind of fellah who voluntarily takes a course on how to “unlearn” his “toxic masculinity”……probably really doesn’t need to.

If you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

Ya know, when Ol’ Robbo was growing up, the Mothe pounded into his head a set of very, very firm rules about how boys were supposed to treat girls.  Boys were supposed to be respectful and courteous, and honor girls for what they are.  Boys absolutely did not hit girls (read: Robbo’s sistah) for any reason whatsoever unless pushed to it in the utmost straits of self-defense.  Boys did not impose themselves on girls in any way, shape, or form, nor did they take advantage of their own size or strength in order to override girls’ wishes.

The Mothe called this course of behavior “being a Gentleman”.

In college, though, Ol’ Robbo was taught that “being a Gentleman” is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Because such a code admits that there are differences between men and women.  Because admitting such differences reinforces the Patriarchy.  Because putting women on pedestals. Because condescending.  Because virgin/whore complex.  Because shut up!

Despite this attempted indoctrination, Ol’ Robbo never forgot the Mothe’s teachings and has conducted himself accordingly over the years.  Mrs. Robbo, the Gels, and all of my female friends and colleagues – even the Socialist Juice-box Wanker types – may be delusional, but they seem to appreciate this.

So, what exactly is the practical difference between “unlearning toxic masculinity” and  “being a Gentleman”?

The answer, of course, is “none at all”.

But that is not what all this is about.  “Being a Gentleman” (and its forefather “Chivalry”) is all about taking masculinity and channeling it to good purpose.  What’s going on now is an outright attempt to destroy masculinity altogether.

Ol’ Robbo will simply nod his head courteously and murmur, “No, thank you.”

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just done mowing the yard here at Port Swiller Manor and wondering how many more times this year I’ll need to do so.  Twice at the most, I reckon.  At the moment, there’s a large flock of robins out back going over the trimmings.  We generally have a few hanging around all year, but I think this is probably a migratory bunch on their way from hither to yon.  Certainly the hummingbirds seem to have packed up and left.

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo’s lawn-mowing turned out to be a Sunday chore this week because we spent most of yesterday visiting my godparents, who live about an hour away from us.  Uncle and I had a long talk about the Mothe – he’d known her nearly 60 years – and I’ve been feeling a good deal better since.

Meanwhile, on a completely random note, for some mysterious reason the shopping cart I was pushing around the store today in search of this evening’s din-din components kept building up a static charge:  I could feel my hair pringling and got my fingers zapped every time they moved off the plastic bar onto the bare metal.  Very strange.  Perhaps Black Lectroids were trying to contact me?  That would explain the voice in my head that keeps saying, “Hallo! Mah nem is Jon Pahrker!”

In the World of Baseball, congratulations to the Astros for holding off the Yankees in the ALCS.  I don’t think a Yankees/Dodgers series would have appealed to many folks outside their respective markets, but I imagine now the ‘Stros will be the favorites of the rest of the country.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Five o’clock and time for a glass of sherry!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope friends of the decanter will indulge Ol’ Robbo in a little bit of Proud Dad bragging?  You will? A glass of wine with you!

Well, the big news is that Middle Gel this weekend successfully auditioned for the All-State Senior Honors Choir, a pretty durn big deal in high school choral circles, and well worth the “Honors” part of its title.  Competition for membership, as I understand it, is quite fierce.

The Gel hadn’t been overly happy with her audition, and really wasn’t expecting to get in.  When she found out the results this morning and called me, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her sound so surprised by joy.

Well done, indeed!

On the other hand, Youngest fanned on her second attempt to get her learner’s permit this afternoon.  About this I am again really rayther relieved, especially after an incident Saturday morning when we were at the store.

As we went in, the Gel walked straight into the path of an old duffer coming the opposite direction, apparently without even noticing him.  The fellah had to quickly side-step, and moved off with a black look on his face.  When I chided the Gel about paying attention to where she was going, she said, “Oh, I have issues with situational awareness”.

I gawped.

“And you expect us to let you get behind the wheel of a car?  Do you realize that “situational awareness” is more critical to safe driving than all the DMV rules and regulations ever spawned?  You’d better get over those “issues” P.D.Q., missy.”

She promised to do so, but I could tell she was already thinking about something else.

So now you see why I choose the word “relieved” at learning the news of her swinging strike two.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Somewhere a month or two back, Ol’ Robbo noted here his disappointment over the movie King Solomon’s Mines (in which Stewart Granger spent most of the film imitating Marlin Perkins while Deborah Kerr kept losing bits of her costume), but he also noted that said disappointment had decided him to read the original book by H. Rider Haggard.

Well, let’s just say that good can come of bad, because I just got done with the book and I’m here to tell you that it was a thoroughly enjoyable story: exciting, exotic, at times bordering on the absurd, and occasionally quite creepy and gory.  (I’m recalling a reference to Gagool the Witch that I had seen somewhere else.  I hadn’t known till now that this is where she came from.)  And our friend Allan Quatermain turns out to be the sort of phlegmatic, professional, ambivalent pukka sahib who seems to be at the center of nearly all the stories I’ve read by British Empire writers who have spent any real time on the frontiers (think Kipling, for example).

Incidentally, I’ve also been reading a book the Mothe sent on to me some time this past summah called The Zulu At War: The History, Rise, and Fall of the Tribe that Washed Its Spears by Adrian Greaves and Xolani Mkhize.  It’s a real trainwreck of a composition, but from the tangled prose, it’s still pretty clear that Haggard’s mythical tribe of Kukuanaland is based pretty faithfully on the Zulus, with whom he had extensive personal experience when he was Out East himself.

By the bye, I link specifically to the new edition of KSM put out by the Oxford University Press for two reasons.  First, it comes with very informative textual and explanatory notes, although I think you can probably skip the introduction which seems to be about the psychology behind romance writing.  (Who knew Freud and Jung were both HRH fans?) Second, the cover art by A.C. Michael reminds me very much of the work of the great N.C. Wyeth.

So Ol’ Robbo is definitely going to delve further into Haggard’s writing.  (I believe there are numerous Quatermain adventures as well as others.)  I’m also circling back round to Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island and Kidnapped, but NOT Catriona since I learned my lesson about that one last time; some of the other historickal adventures).  I’ve dipped into Conan-Doyle (The White Company, Brigadier Gerard) but I know there’s lots more left unexplored.  I have all of P.C. Wren’s Foreign Legion stories but need to explore further there as well.  Kipling, of course.  Finally, yes, dammit, I need to get into John Buchan.  Any suggestions on where to start with him?

UPDATE: Well, I say I’m going to circle back round to RLS, but that’s only if I can find the #@*^&# fellah!  One of Mrs. R’s least endearing practices is her periodic “tidying up” of the Port Swiller Library, usually when she decides I’ve left too many books stacked up on tables or else when she wants to put a new framed photo or whatnot up somewhere.   The trouble is that, in so doing, she’s in the habit of putting books back on the shelves hugger-mugger and all ahoo, with no respect whatsoever for Ol’ Robbo’s careful organization.  (Mr. Dewey ain’t in it, and I don’t need no stinking decimals, neither!)  Result?  Well, at the moment Jim Hawkins and David Balfour have up and disappeared.

I suppose eventually, after much searching, I’ll find one or both of them wedged between Augustine’s Confessions, a Plum Wodehouse novel,  and Atlantic Salmon Fly-Tying Patterns, but I’d just as soon the Missus didn’t mess about with them in the first place.  Grrr…..



Catriona

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