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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posties here. No, the Gestapo did not break down the Port Swiller Manor front door in the middle of the night (at least not yet). Instead, Ol’ Robbo has just been very busy and his Muse seems to have gone AWOL, as she does from time to time.

That being the case, I’ve not much to tell. The Gels are all gainfully employed for the summah, which makes Ol’ Robbo happy. The weather is drying out to the point where I’ll soon have to start watering things, which does not. Western Civilization continues to crumble, but you knew that already.

Speaking of nothing in particular, I ran into my parish priest at Total Bev the other day. It was startling like the first time you met your grade-school teacher at the supermarket when you were a kid – all out of context. I’ve been working up my nerve to get to know him better without seeming to impose, so I said hello and shook hands.

He said, “This is the first time I’ve ever seen you not wearing a suit.” (I had on a t-shirt and shorts. He, by the way, was in full cassock and biretta. Father rocks it.)

“Well,” I said, “This is the first time I’ve ever seen you in a wine store.”

We larfed. And he remembered next day when I was leaving Mass. We’re getting there.

On a completely different house-keeping note, Ol’ Robbo has long meant to mention that I have nothing to do with the ads that appear here. I suppose they’re the price I pay for not actually buying my WordPress account. So far they seem to be pretty innocuous, but if you see something you don’t like, just know it’s not my doing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Where has the week flown, Ol’ Robbo wonders.

I’m so out of it that it was only yesterday I learned that the hazy skies (and pretty sunsets) we’ve been having in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor were the result of smoke drifting down from wildfires in Canada. Being a nerd, I’m usually right up on that sort of thing. Take off, ya hosers.

I’m afraid dear Decanter Dog is beginning to show her age (whatever that actually is). I notice that one of her eyes is starting to cloud up. Also, she won’t go down the stairs anymore unless all the lights are on. Both of these things make me think her sight is starting to go.

Well, all the Gels have now lined up gainful employment for the summah, a thing that makes Ol’ Robbo happy. Speaking of which, Youngest heads off to her counseling gig at Bible-Thumper camp this afternoon. I swear that even having gone there a dozen years, she still doesn’t actually know how to get to the place. (GPS won’t work because of some quirk or other.) Five will get you ten that I’ll have to write out directions for her before she leaves.

Another thing that makes me happy is that my beloved Nationals continue to play with spunk and spark. Sure, they’re seven games under .500 and in the basement, but that’s a lot better than I or (I believe) anybody else thought they were going to be this year. Increasingly, Ol’ Robbo sees what might be a very good team in another year or two, and in the meantime, it’s fun again (although I’m not yet sold on the Home Run Wig thing). What else is there to say except GO, NATS!

UPDATE UNO: Perusing the links over at AoSHQ, Ol’ Robbo spotted this: Techno-Hell: New App Harangues Men For Not Doing Enough Domestic Chores. As apparently the only member of the Port Swiller Manor household who knows how to properly load the dishwasher and balance the clothes in the washing machine, I just laughed grimly.

UPDATE DEUX: I learn from multiple sources that today is National Wine Day. Allow Ol’ Robbo to make the obligatory point that every day is Wine Day. And a glass of one with you!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I may have mentioned before, Ol’ Robbo is a member of a Patrick O’Brian fan group over on FacePlant. (I’m also in a P.G. Wodehouse group and a mostly-dead Anthony Powell one.) One of our members is a graphic designer, and thanks to his efforts I just received my Aubrey/Maturin 2024 (“There is not a moment to be lost”) bumper sticker.

I’m quite pleased. On the one hand, it’s a literary joke highly appreciated by those who understand the reference. (POB fans are an intensely enthusiastic bunch. I often get nods and smiles, and sometimes even a note left on the windshield.) On the other, I like to think it subtly registers my contempt for all real-life politicks and politicians (which seems to grow exponentially with each passing day).

I tried to explain all this to Eldest Gel when she saw the thing on the kitchen counter last evening. (Evidently, she never noticed that I have been sporting the ’16 version on the back of La Wrangler all these years.) Her reaction? “That is the nerdiest thing I’ve ever heard of. You may as well go with Kirk/Spock and get it over with.”

Humph. The lubber. Well, if Ol’ Robbo is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

** Spot the reference

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The lovely and talented Sleepy Beth posts on the eat or be eaten atmosphere of the unregulated ant farm. As it happens, the subject of Formicidae has been much on Ol’ Robbo’s braims recently, too.

As Spring advances, it’s only a matter of time before the little bastards start appearing in and around Port Swiller Manor. And as we have two cats, a dog, and certain persons who insist on eating popcorn in front of the teevee, a given amount of natural bait tends to accumulate despite my constant nagging that floors and countertops need to be kept clean.

This is bad enough in itself, but take a wild guess who has to deal with the roving hordes when they infiltrate. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?


On at least one front, however, Ol’ Robbo is able to report complete triumph. Since I attached an ant moat to the hummingbird feeder a year or two ago, I have had no problem whatever with them getting into it. None. Nada. Zip. The thing works perfectly.

Which reminds Ol’ Robbo again that I need to get to the hardware store this weekend for something to ward off the crazy ants from nesting in the control panel on my generator. This happened last year, causing the thing to short out. Fortunately, the tech was able to fix it just by knocking the nest out but this is the kind of maintenance call that makes me feel particularly foolish and I wish to avoid a repeat.

Just call me Michael Ellis. **

** Spot the reference

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, school is out for all three Gels as of today, the great summah changeover is in progress, and it’s remarkable how little Ol’ Robbo has to do with it.

True, Eldest is home, but she’s always been pretty self-contained. She wasn’t able to get a masters-related gig (although she’s got an internship lined up for this fall) so she’s looking for something seasonal to make a bit of coin.

Youngest, or at least so I understand it, is due to turn up here tomorrow, but is on a flight next morning at oh-dark thirty to visit a friend and knock about in the Rockies for a bit (one of her life goals being to visit every national park she possibly can) before she takes up her job as a counselor at Bible-Thumper Camp, something she’s long wanted to do. In addition to being a cabin counselor, I understand she’s also been appointed admiral in charge of sailing lessons.

Meanwhile, Middle Gel blew through here last night literally just long enough to change flights on her way to Germany. She’s doing a three-week mini-semester in Augsburg and Bergamo, Italy. I’ve read the syllabus, or tried to anyway, but still couldn’t really tell you what it’s all about – something to do with international governmental co-operation. “Gawd,” I said to her the other day, “Please tell me you’re not turning into one of those WEF/Soros zombie-bots!” She just laughed.

So there you have it. Ol’ Robbo just sits here in his chair while the Gels go whooshing about under their own power. (I’ll be humming “Cat’s in the Cradle” next thing you know.)

Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out To Get You UPDATE: Yikes. I post a snide comment about globalist oligarchy and ten minutes later my PC sua sponte starts three hours of downloading “upgrades”. Coincidence? I think not! (Heaven knows what’s in this thing now!)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As predicted below, a lovely day in the garden as things are really starting to pop, including the first of Ol’ Robbo’s peonies:

I do wish I could pass on the names of the varieties I have but, alas, twenty-odd years ago when I bought them, my yootful callowness caused me to toss the identity tags. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, the climbing hydrangea I mentioned a couple weeks back arrived on Thursday, so I duly stripped the old arbor of the wild grape entwined in it and planted my new vine. I also slapped a couple coats of white paint on the arbor itself so that it matched the fence. I did so without telling Mrs. R by way of a little surprise. She didn’t actually break into song and dance when she saw it, but on the other hand she didn’t ask me why I wasn’t touching up the fence while I was at it, so I’ll take this as a win. (As a matter of fact, the job took me longer than I expected, although of course I should have known better. I believe I just didn’t think about it lest I not start at all.)

While I was poisoning the remaining grape stumps, I also dealt with a couple more of that evil brood that were showing themselves on the garden fence. Ol’ Robbo is trying to remember the name of an old movie about the Korean War he once saw: the Chicoms were trying to take an important bridge and to do so, they rounded up a bunch of civilians to use as human shields. After agonizing for a moment, the American commander (possibly John Wayne), knew he had no choice and shot the entire mob flat. I feel that way about the grape sometimes when I’m wielding the Round-Up cannon. There’s going to be collateral damage but what else can one do?

Today also featured one of Ol’ Robbo’s least favorite chores, namely cutting back the ivy seeking to wriggle its way under the roof shingles on one corner of Port Swiller Manor. The only way to do this is climb out the window of Youngest Gel’s bedroom onto the garage roof and hack at the stuff with a long pruning tool. Ol’ Robbo dislikes this intensely, partly because of my fear of heights, partly because getting out the window is an awkward scramble that triggered an attack of sciatica the first time I did it a couple years ago. (I still have it and hobble a good bit these days. To quote “Ol’ Man River”, “Body all achin’ and wracked wid pain!”)

Meanwhile, another sign that spring has definitely sprung is that the catbirds are back. Even as I type, I can hear one singing its nonsense song out in the woods. And on that note, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t check the Port Swiller email that much so it was only today I noticed that long-time friend of the decanter NOVA Curmudgeon reported their first hummingbird of the year two weeks ago. Ol’ Robbo has not seen one yet, but mine always seems to show up a bit late, so I’m not concerned.

So that’s that. A bizzy day for Ol’ Robbo, but I’m still experiencing that satisfying feeling of being out in front of things. How long that will last, I don’t know: I thought I saw a prediction the other day that this is going to be an “El Nino” year, which I think means warmer and wetter for us. How that might affect my ability to keep up, I couldn’t say. In the meantime, however, I will savor the satisfaction and will consider the adult beverage which will be mine in about another forty-five minutes to have been well-earned, indeed.

UPDATE: And another….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt some of you have been wondering to yourselves, “Self, where is Ol’ Robbo this week?” Whelp, I’ve been extremely bizzy. Those legal eagles among you may know the expression “Close of Discovery”. In my experience, it consists of setting one’s hair on fire and running about yelling “What’s the Bates number, Kenneth??!!”

But today, I get a rest. And since we had so much rain yesterday, lawnmowing is out of the question and my duties about the grounds will consist of minor pottering (although skipping a mow this time of year will come back to bite me next weekend).

And so.

Ol’ Robbo finds himself in danger of…..enjoying watching his beloved Nationals play ball again. Not that I have any actual hopes for this season, but I believe I’m definitely seeing some bright spots going forward, as if somebody in management actually knows what he’s doing in terms of putting a future quality team together. We shall see. What was it Churchill said? This is not the beginning of the end, nor even the end of the beginning, but the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end about half way to the Begin the Beguine of the end. Or something like that.

One thing I am not enjoying about watching the Nats on teevee is the commercial selection, which consists of pretty much only two ads. The first is for wall-to-wall organized betting. Ol’ Robbo is hardly a prude, but I think this perfidious, a fast track to financial ruin for weak individuals. And I guarantee you here and now that it will eventually work its way into the sport itself, causing all sorts of irregularities and outright fraudulent performances. It always happens.

The second features some young Reservist moaning that if TikTok gets deplatformed, his service of keeping his fellow soldiers informed of their hard-earned financial benefits will be ruined. Filthy ChiCom bastards to rub our noses in our own flag. I admit I’m extremely dubious at the idea of Uncle getting into the biznay of online content control no matter who’s running it, but these ads really, really irk me.

And speaking of irk, Decanter Kitten does not like Ol’ Robbo watching ball games. She has got into the habit over the past two or three years of curling up in my lap in the evenings, which is all well and good when I’m watching a western or a classic (or reading, for that matter). But while I am normally cool and calm, I tend to get rayther….demonstrative when watching baseball, and the kitteh – who is just now learning this – absolutely hates my sudden outbursts. If looks could kill……

Whelp, that’s about it. Time to go potter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo learned this afternoon that his nephew has just got engaged. Indeed, the Young Persons called us up a little while ago to announce it. It isn’t really a surprise since we’ve been expecting him to pop the question ever since Thanksgiving, but now that it’s become an actual fact, and he is the first of his generation of the family to get there, I have a feeling of a great circle coming round again. Well, well.

I’ve never met the girl, by the bye, but my nieces both seem to be very fond of her, which is a good thing. And she must be genuine about my nephew because he comes pre-equipped with a seven year old son, the product of a particularly spectacular instance of his high-school years idiocy. (The Boy likes her, too.) I hope they are very happy together.

As for the Gels, no, nothing on the horizon at the moment. Mrs. R and I were discussing this yesterday and she said she’d be perfectly happy with “one in church, one in Vegas, one with a ladder.” I larfed: I’ve made clear that if it’s not in church, and with pre-wedding counseling at that, then I’m not paying for it. I confess there are times when I think of the outlays involved that Mrs. R’s formula appeals mightily to my baser side.

Anyhoo, a toast all round to the happy couple!

** – That Guy Who Always Thinks It’s Beginning

Greetings, my fellow port swillers! My name’s Robbo and I’m an eejit.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to head down to the local Sack O’ Suds ** to pick up a few items. I could have walked but was in a hurry, so I drove.

It’s a cramped, nasty parking lot, and as I swung a bit wide to get round a big work truck, the corner of my front bumper grazed the door panel of another car, taking a bit of paint off it. It was such a light graze that I didn’t even feel it and would have gone on my way quite oblivious, except for the fact that the driver of the other car was standing on the curb and saw the whole thing. Not only that, he was already on the phone with his insurance company because a kid had hit his rear bumper a few minutes prior to my getting there.


I will give the fellah credit. After a few moments of exasperation (evidently caused more by the yo-yo on the other end of the phone than anything else), he began to see the humor of the situation, jokingly wondering if he had set some kind of world record. The Kid (and how very easy it was for me to refer to him as “Kid”), was mumbly and hang-dog, but by the time we sorted things out, the fellah and I were laughing.

I am, however, kicking myself. Forty-plus years of driving and I’ve never had to pull out my insurance card before. And it likely won’t even matter because I’ll bet the damage won’t meet the deductible. I hope they keep that in mind when policy-renewal time comes up. (And no, it’s not time to take away Ol’ Robbo’s keys. When I start ranting that they’re deliberately making the parking slots smaller, then you may do so.)

** Spot the reference

Professor Farnsworth-voice UPDATE: Good news, everyone! Turns out no deductible on liability payout, only if La Wrangler herself needed any repairs. (She doesn’t.) Remember, this is my first time so I wasn’t sure quite how it works. It’s just as well, too, because I just got our taxes back from the accountant and Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! But that will be the subject of next Tuesday’s rant and I shant let it ruin my weekend. I shannot.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

Ol’ Robbo hopes that all friends of the decanter had a joyous holiday. For ourselves, this was the first Easter we didn’t have all the Gels home to Port Swiller Manor since, well, since the Gels came along in the first place. It was, of course, bound to happen, but it was a bit strange nonetheless.

On the other hand, while the elder two couldn’t get away, Youngest more than made up for it by bringing home three of her school chums. Ol’ Robbo will not dissemble: When I first heard news of her plan, I was not altogether happy about it. A lot of strangers in the house, Decanter Dog in a perpetual state of hysterics, routine interrupted, and with kids these days, who knew what I might be accused of at my own table.

Whelp, I am very happy to report that my misgivings were completely unwarranted (except the part about the dog). The Gel’s friends proved to be three of the nicest, most polite kids I’ve met in a very long time. The two young men were both solid mid-westerners. (Mrs. R joked this morning that she had to restrain herself from asking one of them to propose to the Gel already.) The young lady was from Croatia and equipped with that foreign student dynamism, not only doing a double-major, but doing it in three years. Among them, the quartet did a splendid job of not getting under foot (the Gel took them sight-seeing, mostly) and even brought along good clothes for Easter Dinner.

And speaking of said dinner, Ol’ Robbo was very wise in not underestimating what would be required to satisfy four college kids in addition to Self, Mrs. R, and my elderly cousin. I picked up a third rack of lamb, increased my lobster Newburg recipe by 50%, and adjusted the popover, rice, and asparagus helpings accordingly. And all I can say is that wolves ain’t in it. “What to do with the leftovers” turned out to be pretty much a moot question because there were hardly any, the Young Persons returning time and again to the sideboard for extra helpings. (And they still had room to attack the cheesecake for afters.) Most gratifying.

As for table-talk, there wasn’t a hint of the Struggle Session. The kids all gave short, sensible accounts of themselves and asked polite questions about my work plus compliments and thanks for having them here. One of the boys proved to be an avid Cubs fan, so we commiserated about our teams for a while, although we almost got into an argument about the new pitch clock. It also turned out that they all had a surprising knowledge of classic 80’s and 90’s sit-coms, which struck Ol’ Robbo as rayther amusing. About the closest we got to the subject of politicks was their gentle condemnation of the wokesters currently trying to disappear many of these shows due to their alleged offensiveness to “modern” sensibilities. And Ol’ Robbo certainly wasn’t going to argue with that.

It was all enough to give one some hope for the future.


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June 2023