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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Remember that scene in Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks takes a near-miss shell hit on the beach on D-Day?  He looks around for a bit, stunned and detached, while everything seems distorted and slowed down.  Then the camera starts jiggling around, there’s an aural sensation of revving up, and suddenly he’s back in the here and now.

I just realized that I have been going through something of the same thing since the Mothe died, carrying on in a state of shock for several weeks and only coming back into the here and now within the past couple days.  (Propelled, I don’t doubt, in part by the medical adventure described below.  Let that one sink in.)  I’m still sad, of course, but now I feel it’s all under control and I can function normally again.

Is this how it’s supposed to work?

Anyhoo, I think I can now say that I’m back.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo posting a couple months ago about going in for an initial consultation for his first colonoscopy?  Whelp, yesterday I actually went through with it.

As Mal Reynolds would say, “Huh.”

As far as the prep work went, it really must have been a lot more awful back in the day because, despite the traditional hype, to me the whole biznay turned out to be a big nothing-burger.  I was expecting vile-tasting concoctions, nausea, cramps, and the like.  But the “EZ-2-GO” kit (no, I’m not making that up) was nothing but tasteless powders easily masked by Gator-Aid.  And while they certainly threw the bilge pumps into overdrive, which after all was the whole point, I suffered no other adverse symptoms.  And on the bright side, confined to the throne most of the afternoon and evening, I got a lot of reading done.

No, the really awful part of the prep to me was the fasting.  Ol’ Robbo found himself starving by mid-afternoon, and so hungry the night before that I could hardly sleep.  And as for the lack of coffee and wine? Just don’t even ask.

(By the bye, I understand that this kind of purging is a Thing among Left Coast and Hollywood types, as they think it provides some kind of physical and spiritual health benefit.  My G/I guy openly sneered at the idea.)

As far as the actual dance went, Ol’ Robbo’s greatest concern going into it, believe it or not, was having to put on the Gown of Shame.  A few years back, I had an endoscopy done at one of the local hospitals.  The ward was something like a stockyard, with G/I patients all over the place and bad moons rising all around.  Being a very modest fellah, I really didn’t want that.

Fortunately, this time I went to a practice that does all its procedures in-house.  They were more than respectful, and had a carefully-choreographed system whereby patients were moved about one at a time and strategic blankets were provided to keep one covered up until the moment the fun began.

And then there was the Nap.  Mmmmmm……the Nap.  Now that’s something that lives up to its hype.  “We go night-night now?” I asked the gas-passer.  “We go night-night now,” she said.  Deep, deep down in an instant, gradually rising to some pleasant but unrecoverable dream and then suddenly finding myself somewhat bewildered in a recovery bay with the G/I guy and gas-passer smiling down at me.

As for the recovery itself, reverting back to my prior hospital experience, I was expecting the “what’s your hurry/here’s your hat” treatment, but again I was pleasantly surprised.  In fact, I snapped out of it pretty quickly, but when I said I was good to go, they actually held me back a bit to be doubly sure.

Oh, and I’m fine.  They snipped out two or three baby polyps that they’re going to check, of course, but the doc seems quite unconcerned.  He says I don’t need to go back for another five years.

And about that gnawing hunger? I demanded that Mrs. R immediately take me to the nearest Chick-Fil-A, where I snarfed down a Hate Sammich, Hate Shake, and large order of Fries of Intolerance in nothing flat.  Mmmmm…..

The one last thing is that the post-recovery instructions said no alcohol for the rest of the day.  “Be damned to that,” I said to myself. “After what you just did, if you’re not going to buy me dinner, at least I’m going to buy myself a drink!”

** Obligatory title.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Was chatting with Eldest Gel today and learned that, as befitting her theatre minor, yesterday she auditioned for and was cast in her school’s fall production, which this year is going to be the musickal “Avenue Q“.  I’ve never seen it, but I gather from what I’ve read that it is a sort of “Sesame Street mugged by Reality”.

As if anyone over the age of about 10 years ought not to be able to figure out that “Sesame Street” isn’t Reality all by themselves.

There are muppets involved, at any rate.

The Gel will play Brian, “an aspiring comedian recently laid off from his day job”.  Not the lead, but a strong supporting character, so she’ll get a solo and a lot of involvement in the ensemble bits.  She’s quite excited about it.

She also made it clear that she does not want Ol’ Robbo to come down to see the show.  Mrs. R? Yes.  Dad? No.

Why? Because the show takes something of a “South Park” tone in both its language and subject matter, even in its “student version”.  The Gel is quite aware of what I think of such things and said she’d feel weird knowing I was in the audience while it was going on.  Eh, bien.  I understand the Gel’s delicacy on the point.  (She’s got a sailor’s mouth, alas, but makes an effort to curb her tongue when she knows I can hear her.)

Despite all that I’d still like to see her perform, because Dad.  However, I believe they’re doing Shakespeare next spring, so I console myself with looking forward to that.

As a matter of fact, however, this embargo actually works out well for us:  It so happens that the performances are going to run the same weekend as Homecoming at Port Swiller High, and we had been racking our braims to figure out a way to ensure that the Youngest Gel in particular abides by her curfew.  Now that Ol’ Dad will be on hand?  Problem solved.

Greetings. my fellow port swillers!

I hope you are all having a good Labor Day?  A sizable chunk of Ol’ Robbo’s, as I thought it might, wound up devoted to assembling furniture picked up by the Gels this weekend down to Ikea.  Specifically, I had to put together an eight-drawer dresser for the Youngest.

Ol’ Robbo has encountered bed-frames and nightstands from Ikea before, but Jumpin’ Jay Jehoshaphat!, this thing was in a class by itself: four long drawers, four short, and the frame that has to hold them.  Hundreds – hundreds – of screws, dowels, and locking nuts, to say nothing of the wood and all the runners,  Three long, flat boxes in all.

Plus, I had to deal with a 44-step instruction booklet full of extremely ambiguous illustrations. Fortunately, Ol’ Robbo spent a lot of his misspent yoot putting together model airplanes, thereby sharpening his ability to divine what is actually called for by such vague scratchings.   (They laughed and called me a nerd back then, but who’s laughing now, huh?  HUH?)

Nonetheless, the project took me something better than four hours to finish.   It also caused me considerable physical pain – I whacked my left forefinger with the hammer; my right hand is nearly frozen into a claw because I don’t have an electric screwdriver and had to do it all by hand; and I spent so much time bending, leaning, and twisting as I sat on the floor ‘mid my supplies that my back and abdomen feel like I’ve been doing yoga.

Heigh, ho.

Anyhoo, it’s all done now and the Gel was suitably grateful, as indicated by her unprompted, “Thank you, Puh-Parr.”  (That’s what she sometimes calls me.)

UPDATE:  For those of you, like Mr. G. Hand, who may be interested,  I should explain that “Puh-Parr” (accent on the second syllable) is a play on “Papa”, which she also sometimes calls me.  She does the same sort of thing on occasion with “Father”, which she turns into “Fawthuh”.   The Gel is imbued with a very large measure of what I might call vivacious breeziness, and this is one of the ways she amuses herself.   Now and again, this shades over toward outright insolence, but it’s generally so good-natured that I don’t check her until she’s actually crossed the line.  (“Robert” is never acceptable, even in jest.)

I should add that Youngest turns 16 in a few months but it only fairly recently hit me that The Dread Adolescence is running down for the last time (thank Heaven!) and I’ve got yet another young woman on my hands.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool, rainy morning here at Port Swiller Manor (my thermometer says 57 degrees at the moment) and ol’ Robbo is very comfortable in a pair of old corduroys and sweater as he sits on the porch with a large cup of kahfeh and a cat trying to climb into his lap. (No, Kitty! That’s mah keyboard!)

And this is Labor Day weekend?

In fact, after a very mild summah here, fall is making its first appearance about a month early.  Even a few of the leaves are starting to change color already.

Not that I mind at all, at all.  Fall has always been my very favorite season for a variety of reasons.  Plus, this sort of weather drives the Globull Enwarmening crowd bonkers, or at least shuts them up for a bit.

Speaking of things early, or rather not, Mrs. R and the Younger Gels are off to Ikea this morning (despite the weather) and I couldn’t help noticing that, in the fine old Family Robbo tradition, their setting out was both delayed and complicated.  I have never, ever, understood this kind of behavior:  When one determines, “We will leave the house at 9:30 am,” then, logically, every member of the party is supposed to plan accordingly, working their preparation timelines backwards so that they will be ready and assembled at the garage door at, say, 9:25 am.

How difficult is this?

And yet every single time I set such an arbitrary step-off, I find myself standing around and fuming as various family members suddenly, for example, discover they can’t find shoes, or need to throw something in the dryer, or all need the bathroom at the same time, or change their mind about what to wear.

It’s exasperating to ol’ Robbo because I have always been fanatical about punctuality.  (Middle Gel once complained about her choir director’s  rule: If you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re late, don’t bother coming.  I applauded it.)

Anyhoo, the Gels were less than specific about exactly what it is they “need” from Ikea, but I’ve an idea it’s going to involve one or more heavy boxes full of shelves, backing, metal dowels, and those counter-clockwise anchoring nuts, and it’s also going to involve Ol’ Robbo dragging said box(es) upstairs and digging out my tools.   I had thought of doing some early fall work in the garden, but it’s really rather soggy for that.  Guess I’ll be laboring inside instead.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry about the most recent dearth of posties here – the fact of the matter is that the Mothe’s passing has hit me rather harder – and in more different ways – than I thought it would, and I simply haven’t much been in the mood.

Nonetheless, I feel a bit more inspired this evening, so here are a few bits and pieces for you:

♦ Prayers for the folks along the Gulf Coast suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which, I gather, is now coming back for a second landfall.  From what I’ve read, the people there are really coming together to help each other out.

♦  Most of the stories about Harvey have been coming from around the Houston area, but I b’lieve the storm actually made first landfall farther southwest, and am curious about its effects there.  This is because Ol’ Robbo spent a good bit of his misspent yoot fishing and duck hunting out of Port O’Connor, Texas, much of it within sight of the ruins of an old Coast Guard station destroyed by another storm in the late 60’s or early 70’s.  I’ve an idea that Port O’Connor was somewhere near the eye of Harvey, but can’t find any real information about it.

♦  I saw some pictures of the First Couple visiting Corpus Christi this afternoon to view the damage.  Totally off topic, but by God, Melania Trump is a beautiful woman.

♦  Speaking of politicks, Ol’ Robbo has been trying to come up with a label for the leftist goon squads that have been so much in the nooz lately.  I had considered Neo-Jacobins, but regretfully rejected it as being probably too historickally obscure.  But I’ve hit on an even better one for this day and age:  Antifassholes.   (I don’t care if somebody else has also thought of this – I promise I came up with it my very own self.)

♦  And I think…I think…that the whole Antifasshole movement has overreached itself and is not going to be able to mau-mau the country after all.

♦  Anything else?  Well, probably.  But I can’t think of it right now.  Oh, except Ol’ Robbo has been taking a very, very keen pleasure the past two days asking the two Younger Gels and Mrs. R, “And how was school today?”  Most. Wonderful. Time. Of. The. Year.

No, I am not at all a nice man.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, today Eldest Gel headed back to college to start her sophomore year.

What an incredible difference a year makes.  This time last August, it was a convoy of cars, enough clothing and gear to outfit a regiment, various lines for sign-ups and orientations, and a very long, very trying day of Mrs. Robbo and Self getting the Gel settled in, capped off by the teary farewell hugs and the more or less silent, contemplative drive back to Port Swiller Manor.

This year? The Gel loaded only what she needed in her car, said “Well…bye“, and tooled off.

I talked to her after she got back to school and got into her dorm room (which, funny enough, is Sistah’s old room) and she seemed pretty chipper.  I think she’s going to have a good year.

All this got me thinking about young birds and nest-leaving.  I don’t clearly recall a great deal of my own misspent yoot, but one point I remember very, very clearly is the day I suddenly realized that I had, myself, left the nest-  that what all my life I had thought of as “home” was now becoming “my parents’ house”, that I could never, ever go back (well I could, of course, but not in the same relationship), and that one chapter of my life definitely had closed and another was beginning.

It was Christmas break of my own junior year in college.  When the idea hit me, I burst into tears and sank my head on The Mothe’s shoulder.

Ah, yoot.

I don’t think this idea has come anywhere close to crystalizing in the Eldest’s mind, yet.  I’ll be very interested to see what happens when it does.

Meanwhile, the other two are starting their senior and sophomore years in high school next week.  Middle Gel is doing the college boogaloo herself this fall, and Youngest (hopefully) has finally realized that yes, grades matter and yes, if you want good grades you’ll have to actually work for them.

But the best part of all? Mrs. Robbo goes back to work at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and has to start getting up in the morning again instead of wallowing a-bed while Ol’ Robbo stumbles off to the salt mines at zero-dark-thirty.  Heh, indeed.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On the eve of his last day of work before a very much needed summah hols, Ol’ Robbo finds himself mulling this and that:

♦  Long time friend of the decanter Diane asks:

– How did it get to be August? Seriously, I feel as if July just poked her head in the door to say hello, then disappeared. I realized this morning that in another week, maybe two, I’ll be driving to work in the dark again. Oy.

Ain’t it da troot?  At least  for myself, I have a ready explanation:  In the past six weeks, I’ve had to make three trips out west for work, including the two-week trial-prep/trial one I just finished up.  Still scary to contemplate how quickly it goes by.

And now we’re rolling into another interesting Fall of Things: Eldest Gel starts her sophomore year in college; Middle Gel is doing the college application thing (with her sights set on early admission at one place in particular which I will go into at another time); and Youngest starts her sophomore year in high school….well, staying out of trouble and hopefully realizing now that if she hopes to get good grades, she’s actually going to have to, you know, earn them herself.

Diane also goes on to note:

– Something is up at my elderly neighbor’s. When I came home Monday, they had a trailer backed in to their parking bay, and a van pulled up in the center. One of their sons and his wife were loading things up, and I overheard bits of “Goodwill or toss?” conversations. As of today, the parking bay, which had been a sort of extra storage spot for the couple, is pretty much bare. Not sure if this is just a huge purge, a purge because they plan to move, or something else. Have never met the son and wife, so didn’t want to pry.

I’m guessing I know exactly what is going on there.  I won’t get into details in this post, but I expect that part of my upcoming hols is going to be devoted to the very same scenario.  The Mothe is not at all well.

♦  Well, okaaaay, then!

♦  Ol’ Robbo has come to a very succinct formulation of a belief that applies to his interpretation of much of what is occupying the headlines these days:  Government is a necessary evil, and politics is a false god.

Kinda covers the bases, don’t you think?  Aaand discounts most of them.

What’s that, comrade? Get my coat, we are going for a ride? Very well, but……..

♦  In the Department of Complete Random, yes, yes I just did indulge myself by purchasing a Sam Grant bobblehead.  Got a problem with that?  I pass his Memorial every day on my lunch-time walkies, and never fail to ruminate on what a decent, modest, but firm and clear-headed fellah he was.

♦  We just destroyed our first yellow-jacket nest of the year.  (Well, we had an exterminator do it for us.)  What would summah around Port Swiller Manor be without a yellow-jacket nest manifesting itself somewhere in the grounds?  At least this year I didn’t discover it by walking straight in to it and getting numerous stings as a result.

♦  Gimme.  No, I am not kidding….

Okay, that’s probably enough for now.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Long time friends of the decanter will know that ol’ Robbo usually puts out a post some time in late July bemoaning how burnt out he is and how he hopes that his upcoming summah hols will recharge him.

For some odd reason, I’ve no inclination to put up that post this year.

I am burned out, in fact.  I’ve been working like a dog on this project that just finished for about 15 months now (indeed, I missed my summah hols last year altogether because of it).  I’ve also got all kinds of cares on the home front to wrestle with.  (Don’t worry, they’re nothing out of the ordinary for a responsible family man in his 50’s, but they’re draining nonetheless.)

Perhaps the big difference is that, at least so far as Ol’ Robbo has seen, we’ve been blessed with a relatively temperate summah so far here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  This was capped off by a gen-u-ine cool front that rolled through here over the weekend, bringing positively September-like conditions for a few days.  (I’m sure that Big Climate will condemn this observation utterly and insist that we are STILL on the path to Mother Gaia being burnt to a cinder because I won’t listen to my betters and resist switching out my lightbulbs for LED alternatives.  Or something.  Because shut up.)

Well, I guess maybe this post is that post after all, but I still say there’s something different about it all this year.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is once again posting from the comfort of Port Swiller Manor’s back porch, a nice big cup o’ kahfeh at his side on this gloomy Saturday morning, after getting back yesterday afternoon from his nearly two weeks on the road.

Thank Heaven.

And what was ol’ Robbo doing all that time, you may ask? Why, he was first chairing a bench trial in federal court out west, that’s what.  Last week, we put nearly 900 miles on the rental car roving hither and yon to prep witnesses, and then this week we had the actual trial.  (No news on the results likely for another couple weeks, but we were pretty pleased.)

Ol’ Robbo’s braims don’t yet seem to have come to the realization that it is all finally over and done, as I kept having dreams last night about the next witness we need to call.

In the course of things, Ol’ Robbo managed to pick up a very nasty head cold which quickly got into his ears and  lungs as well.  I spent so much time hacking and gasping this week that the judge himself remarked on it, albeit sympathetically, and the clerk practically buried me in cough drops and kleenex.  (The court reporter told me that this sort of thing happened a lot in their court, apparently as a result of the combination of stress-induced exhaustion and high altitude.)

In a way, the sickies actually helped me out, insofar as yesterday when we flew home, we landed in the middle of a thunderstorm.  All the way down from the point of our initial descent, we  bucked and pitched all over the place.  Under normal circumstances, I would have been in something close to heart-attack mode, but I was just too tired and miserable to give much of a damn anymore, so I calmly kept working on my crossword (or at least staring at it blankly) even as people around me were grabbing on to the seats in front of them to keep from being pitched about too much.  (Although once, after a particularly violent lurch, I did mutter, “Next time, Jack, write a goddam memo!”, much to the bewilderment of the woman sitting next to me.  (Spot the quote.)

Also, the change in pressure coming down caused me to go something close to stone-deaf, giving me a wonderful sense of detachment from the whole biznay.  That’s the key to controlling fear, by the bye.  You can’t be afraid of something that doesn’t engage your attention.

Now here’s something I didn’t know:  Just after we landed, lightning bolts started coming down all around the airport.  As a result, they wouldn’t let us come in to the jetway, but made us loiter around for about 45 minutes on the tarmac.  Apparently, although the plane itself and the main terminal are safe enough, a lightning strike on a jetway is bad biznay for anyone who happens to be in it, so there is a “rule” that they have to wait 10 minutes after the last bolt before letting anyone on.  (That’s what the pilot said.  Nonetheless, just after they opened the hatch and people started filing out, there was a hell of a bang nearby.  We kept exiting nonetheless.  Go figure.)

Aaaaanyhoo, it’s good to be home again.  There’s a country song from the ’90’s called “Just Another Day in Paradise” – I’m too lazy right now to look up the singer – which “gets” the particular “felicity of unbridled domesticity” in all of its manifestations.  And so it is here: When I got home in the middle of said driving thunderstorm, the driveway was flooded and water was getting into the basement again.  Half the first floor lights don’t seem to be working (despite my ardent flipping of circuit-breakers last evening).  Eldest Gel was in her usual sass mode.  Youngest Gel was in her usual too-noisy mode and had chosen that evening to have a friend sleep over.  I had to kybosh Middle Gel’s plan to drive down to King’s Dominion today because the weather threatens to be as bad as yesterday.  The dog was barking at shadows.  The cats were fighting each other for the right to jump into my lap.  Mrs. Robbo, fearing infection, booted me on to a downstairs sofa for the night.

And I smiled.

It’s also lovely (although strange) to have nothing in particular to do, for once.  The only item on Ol’ Robbo’s agenda today is to retrieve La Wrangler from the shop where she’s been having her rear differential rebuilt.  Otherwise, I intend to do nothing but chill.

Oh, and some good news?  Ol’ Robbo’s long-awaited summah hols start this Friday!  (I missed vacay entirely last year due to this same case.)  We’re headed back to Maine, which I haven’t seen in three years, there to have a Robbo Clan Reunion.  Can’t.  Wait.

UPDATE:  Yep,  I’ve definitely put on my “Dad” hat again.

Fixed the lights.  It was the circuit breaker after all, but it was only this morning that I remembered what an electrician had once told me.  The proper way to make sure a tripped circuit really re-engages is to flip it off, wait about five seconds, and then go:  On……Off……ON!

Phil Vasser (or possible Vassar) is the name of the fellah who’s song I reference above.  Rascal Flatts (whom I dislike) also did a song on a similar theme around the same time, as did somebody else who’s completely escaped my memory.  I’ve long had the suspicion that Nashville songwriters keep an eagle eye out for what themes sell and then quickly try to get their own version up in order to get in on the profits.  This has probably been true of artists since the Dawn of Civilisation.

Picked up La Wrangler.  The horrible noise is gone, and she seems steadier on her pins, but it’s going to take a couple days of re-acclimation for me to finally decide if her overall ride is improved, since, as I say, I’ve spent the past two weeks cruising about in a tricked-out, comfort-heavy SUV.

By the way, I mistakenly referred to our rental last week as a GMC Yukon.  It wasn’t.  Instead, it was a Chevy Tahoe.  Very nice drive, but it reminded me of those awful Chevy commercials on the tee-vee these days with that nasty little Beta-boy pretending he’s Mike Rowe or somebody and trying to hang with the Bro’s and talk Truck with them.  Is anyone else put off by that, or is it just me?  (And I say this as a 5’10”, 160 lb., desk-jockey whose work with his hands doesn’t usually go beyond yard maintenance and minor home repairs.  It’s the pretense that bugs me.)

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