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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those of you who like to keep track of such things, may I point out that tonight is the full of this year’s Hunter’s Moon?

Ol’ Robbo forgets about the moon’s waxings and wanings from time to time, especially now that I’m not commuting, but is always delighted to “re-discover” its cycle.

Should be a lovely moonrise this evening.

*** Ol’ Robbo was going to segue into some remarks about the headlines these days, but after a short **types-deletes** struggle I decided to give it up and just laugh. Suffice to say this: A thing that can’t go on won’t.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A bit of good news yesterday, as it turns out that the heart murmur noticed during Decanter Dog’s checkup a couple weeks ago is nothing more than Anno Domini and doesn’t even require any medication. Mrs. Robbo had been worriting herself over the possibility that it might have been something worse, possibly even terminal, and my “keep calm and carry on” advice seemed of little comfort. I’m glad that’s all cleared up now.

Still, the thing is a reminder to me that when DD does shuffle off this mortal coil, it’s going to be a bad, bad day at Port Swiller Manor. DD is Mrs. R’s very first dog, and ever since we got her six (?) years ago, her baby. This has become even more the case now that the Gels are grown up and flying the nest. We’ve had seven cats together over the years and have lost five, some losses being harder than others, which I guess is some kind of preparation, but this will be many orders of magnitude worse.

Well, alas, that’s the problem of pets, and as far as Ol’ Robbo knows there’s absolutely no way round it.

In the meantime, however, although we don’t know exactly how old DD is in terms of years, physically I’d say she’s in early middle age and, aside from needing to shed a couple pounds, in overall good health. So hopefully we’ve got some time before we need to face all that.

UPDATE: On a cheerier note, and as long as I’m pet-blogging anyhow, I notice that Decanter Kitten’s tail, which thinned out noticeably over the summah, is thickening up again. (She’s a Maine coon.) I wonder if this will prove to be some kind of weather gauge like a woolly-bear, predictive of the harshness of the on-coming cold season. We’ll see. (She’s mad at me, by the bye, because I won’t leave the porch door open for her while the temperature is below about 55 degrees or so, thereby disrupting her habit of going in and out at will.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How is it that spousal snoring can be such an irritant while doggy snoring is soothing to the point of inducing narcolepsy?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Decanter Dog in the Land of Nod

UPDATE: I should make clear that I am actually a far worse offender on the snoring front than is Mrs. R. It’s one of the few things about which she gets genuinely angry with me. I merely throw out the above question from purely my own point of view.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest got home from school last evening for the long weekend. (Can you believe it’s fall break already?)

I’d swear the Gel is taller than she was when I last saw her in August. And this after she gained better than an inch last year.

Talk about your late growth spurt. I always thought girls did most of their sprouting early on. Certainly this was the case with the other two. Who knows why Youngest should prove the exception.

Incidentally, it may or may not have been my pondering on this question when she came home from school last spring, but “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman” is floating around somewhere in my Netflix queue at the moment.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel has decided to revisit her Tolkien. (I can’t remember the last time I saw her or her sisters reading for the pure pleasure of it, so this pleases me greatly.)

Although she decided to go back and start with The Hobbit, she seems to be trying to piece together what she remembers from the other books and tie them into the story as she goes along. Yesterday she asked me, “What exactly are Wizards, again?”

Well, she’s not a little girl anymore but a full-fledged adult, so it hardly seemed fitting to fob her off with “Oh, they’re very wise beings with magical powers.” So I told her briefly and off the top of my head about Tolkien’s Creation story. I mentioned Eru, the Valar, the Maiar, and the history of their battle against the dark forces of the fallen Melkor (including Sauron) for control of Arda, and how Gandalf and the other Wizards were a set of Maiar who took bodily form and went into the world to carry on this battle.

The look that crept over her face as I rattled this off was, well, incredulous.

“You are such a nerd!” she said.

What was it Billy Shakespeare said about serpent’s teeth and thankless childs?

Ol’ Robbo might agree that he deserves getting tarred with that epithet were he to bring up the subject on his own, but she asked! She asked!


UPDATE: Heh. Having finished The Hobbit, Eldest said, “Tolkien took two pages to describe the Battle of Five Armies. How the hell did Peter Jackson stretch that out to an entire feature-length movie?”

That’s my gel! Indeed, my very first substantive blog post from back in the very first days of the Llamas (coming up on 18 years ago, now) was a satirical damnation of Jackson and all his works.

And, by the bye, rereading that post just now, two things come to mind. First, Eldest, who I’m pretty certain has not read it, spotted the same flaw. Second, rereading it after all this time, like flipping through an old photo album, fills me with a sort of melancholic blend of fondness and regret over what it was like to be young and full of fresh ideas.

Good times, my fellow port swillers. Good times.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This past Saturday evening, Mrs. Robbo and I went out to dinner, just the two of us.

This is somewhat newsworthy in and of itself because I believe the last time we did it was some time early last winter.

Unfortunately, both because we didn’t get the idea until early Saturday afternoon, and because I am currently barred from establishments demanding vax papers, our options were necessarily limited. (I should note here that even after I get such papers foisted on me, I will not patronize such establishments. Uncle can force this biznay on me because of the hardship my family would suffer if I lose my job but I’m not going a single inch further than absolutely necessary.)

Aaaaanyway, we wound up at an “Italian” place in the new urban sprawl which is replacing the old suburban sprawl with frightening speed along the pike not far from Port Swiller Manor. What was once a succession of strip malls and car dealerships is rapidly transmogrifying into hip high-rises with posh shops and dining establishments on their ground floors. Indeed, Ol’ Robbo hates to venture over there because every time he does something else has changed the shape of the landscape and he gets discombobulated.

Mrs. R wanted to sit outside because it was such a lovely evening. I didn’t mind, but really, urban sidewalk dining isn’t Robbo’s thing. It would, of course, make a difference if I were looking out at, say, the dome of St. Paul’s, or the Louvre, or even Capitol Hill. But when the only thing across the street is another high-rise, with a fish taco restaurant and an eyeglasses place at street level, and a wall plastered with a piece of “urban art” of the sort I loathe, well……

Then, of course, there is the succession of cars endlessly circling past in search of parking spots. And from somewhere round the corner came a steady thumpa-thumpa-thumpa, which was either a street performance or somebody’s car stereo, I couldn’t tell which.

But what about the people-watching, you might ask? Well, again, urban hipster-doofus couture is not a big favorite of mine. Also, I guess it must have been homecoming weekend somewhere round here, because at one point a party of about a half-dozen high school girls hove into view wearing fancy dresses so short that if Ol’ Robbo were Emperor, I’d have had the lot of them arrested for public indecency.

As much as I enjoyed our dinner (the pizza was actually quite good), I definitely felt a sense of relief when we had left the concrete jungle and slid back into our quiet, leafy suburb.

I mentioned this to my brother yesterday. He said that he and his wife felt the same way, which was why they almost exclusively go with takeout from their favorite restaurants now. As he pointed out, not only is the ambiance quieter and the service better, the wine is always cheaper.

Sound reasoning.

(That said, Mrs. R and I have decided to make the effort to dine out once a month going forward, largely so that I don’t become completely moss-covered. With enough lead-time, we hopefully should be able to find more congenial venues.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In keeping with the theme of turbulent weather from the post below, torrential rains in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor overnight coupled with early fallen leaves equaled a clogged field drain and water ponding into the garage, which in turn meant Ol’ Robbo’s basement study was flooded yet again.


We’ve been putting off having somebody come and sort this biznay out. It occurred to me whilst chewing on it again that in fact there’s really no good reason why I probably couldn’t do it myself, either in part or in whole. I can certainly tear out the drywall, try to spot the entry point(s), and slap some of Phil Swift’s Flex-Seal all over it. As far as putting it all back together, I’ve never hung new drywall myself, but I can’t imagine it’s all that complicated. (And, of course, DIY is always so much cheaper.)

I mean, I’m not missing something here, am I?

UPDATE: I put the idea to Mrs. R this evening. Her initial response was, “While you’re at it, can you also do……” followed by a laundry list of very tangentially-related tasks. Typical wifely gambit, but I’m plenty experienced enough to slip right past it.

When I steered her back to the original idea, she said, “Well, sure, why not? It’s already a mess. How much worse could you make it?” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Ol’ Robbo’s carpentry skills, but she does have a point.

Demo (the fun part) will begin once the floor has dried out.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yep, it’s that time of year. Pumpkin-spice “creamer” has made its way into the fridge.

The very idea makes my stomach turn.

And it’s not even real “creamer”, but instead is “almond milk”, whatever that is.

And it’s not just “almond milk”, but pretentious “almond milk”. One side of the carton proclaims in big, bold lettering: WE BELIEVE In Making DELICIOUS PLANT-BASED FOOD That Does Right By You And FUELS OUR PASSION FOR THE PLANET To Make Your Journey SMOOTH”.

Core lumme, stone the crows.

Mrs. R was mighty puzzled when I opened the fridge this morning, spotted the carton, and said, “Well bless your hearts.”

But I meant it.


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October 2021