You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘What Would Basil Fawlty Do?’ category.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the recent dearth of posting.  Long story short is that we had yet another basement flood since my last one, finally driving the Eldest Gel to remove herself from said basement and move back into the upstairs bedroom we had been using as an office.  (I nearly herniated myself hauling things up and down the stairs.) I don’t care to reestablish the computer in the basement until we get this water biznay sorted out, so I am essentially off-line at the moment.   Indeed, I only have access right now because I needed to re-up my past-due car registration before the Ogpu got me.  I hauled the computer and printer back up to the gel’s room and am currently typing off the top of her dresser and will have to disassemble it again as soon as I log off.

Anyhoo, sooner or later I’ll be back to regular posts.  In the meantime, help yourselves to the decanter and the stilton is over there on the sideboard.

Toodle-pip!

Collected Aftermath

Collected Aftermath

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo loves to play a little game with Ma Nature: On stormy spring and summah afternoons, he has a look at the radar just before leaving the office and decides whether or not to risk trying to make it home with all the side panels off La Wrangler.  The go/no go decision is based on an average commute time of about 45 minutes or so and the track and speed of the various cells in the neighborhood.

If I win, I get satisfaction.  If I lose, I get rayther wet.

Today, with storms rolling in from the southwest, I timed it to near-perfection, as the rain started within about ten minutes after I got home.  (TRUE perfection is when I park in the garage and am able to scamper out to the mailbox and back just before the deluge.)  But this time I also got an added bonus: As I took my usual pre-dinner shower, I started to hear a series of loud THWACKS!  At first, I thought it was just one of the cats fooling with a toy, but I soon realized the sound was coming from the roof and skylights.  Jumping out, I glanced out the window and saw that we were, in fact, being treated to a hailstorm of some intensity.

It’s been years since we last got any hail round about Port Swiller Manor, so this was a real treat.  (Fortunately, it was mostly somewhere between pea and marble sized, so did little more than knock down a lot of leaves.)  It was also very cool to sit out on the back porch eating dinner and watching the fog rise all around as the hail melted.

Thanks, Ma!

 

sbc sealGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo ran the Eldest Gel down to Sweet Briar College yesterday for an “accepted applicants weekend” fandango.  (Sorry, Mothe, this is why I didn’t have the chance to call you per the usual.)

I’m not sure which was the stranger experience: Seeing teh Eldest taking her first steps into a wider academic universe as a bona fide collegiate newbie, or running into a couple of faculty again who I knew 25 or so years ago when I was a law student at Dubyanell dating Mrs. R in her undergrad days at SBC.

One thing I am sure of: As part of the weekend, we took a campus tour.  The smells (of the dorms, the academic buildings, of the grounds) haven’t changed a single bit.

And this, to me, is a Good Thing.

Holla, Holla, Holla!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, one thing you can say about spring weather in the great Commonwealth of Virginny is that it is reliably schizophrenic.  Last weekend saw snow flurries at Port Swiller Manor.  This weekend, La Wrangler goes topless and we eat dinner on the porch.

Speaking of cars, this week the Middle Gel (yes, the Middle Gel) is doing her behind-the-wheel training.  By next Tuesday, she most likely will have her driver’s license.

Yeek.

I say this not so much because I worry about her driving, but because this is another one of those milestones that shows just how fast time is moving and how soon the lot of them will be up and out of the house.   Their formative years seemed to drag on forever sometimes.  Once they hit high school, however, life just seems to go to flank speed.

And speaking of driving and ups and outs, back on Holy Saturday the three of them spent the morning helping out at the Easter egg roll at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church.  Mid-afternoon, as I was fooling about with something or other in the kitchen, they all suddenly congregated in the front hall.

“Bye, Dad,” they said with elaborate casualness.

“Bye? Um…where are you going?” I asked.

“King’s Dominion.”

(King’s Dominion is about 75 miles from here, all of it interstate.)

“Whuh?  Ruh? Is it even open this early?” I stammered.

“Oh, yes, it opened yesterday.”

“Well, when are you coming back?”

“We’re going to leave at 8:00 pm.”

“You do know tomorrow is Easter and that we need to get up especially early, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes.  We promise we will.”

Well.  Ol’ Robbo was torn.  On the one hand, I reminded myself that when I was the Eldest Gel’s age back in San Antonio, my parents let me drive myself down to the beach (about 150 miles) and up to Austin (about 80 miles).  I also didn’t want to discourage them doing something as sisters, since they usually don’t hang out together.  On the other, I-95 is a nasty piece of highway.  Also, I envisioned all kinds of trouble getting them out of bed in the morning if they were going to get home that late.

Muttering something about putting all one’s eggs in the same basket, I decided in the end not to make a fuss.

Happily, it all worked out.  When I got home late that night from the Vigil Mass, I found the car in the driveway and all of them up in bed.  And in the morning, much to my surprise, all three of them got up, got dressed, and were ready to head out before I had to say a single word.  And on top of all that, they behaved themselves both at church and at brunch afterward.  Easter Miracle, indeed.

UPDATE: Driving test successfully passed, license issued.  She’s already done her first “because I can” solo run, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, today is a big milestone around Port Swiller Manor in that the Eldest Gel hits the big 1-8.  Very hard to believe.  To celebrate, she and Mrs. Robbo are off to some spa for a couple nights to do whatever it is teh wimmins do at spas.

I am amazed at how quickly, after a somewhat stormy adolescence, the Gel is coming together as a “young adult”.  Getting her driver’s license and having to deal with the rollercoaster of admission to a college that, at one point, seemed like it wasn’t going to exist anymore certainly gave her means by which to hone her sense of responsibility.  Also, I’ve noticed that our acquisition of teh doggeh last summah really helped her to learn not to be so self-centered, but to instead be more sympathetic and outward looking.  Frankly, I used to worry about her a great deal.  Not so much anymore.

Of course, the Gel was born ornery and cantankerous, and I’ve an idea she’s always going to be that way.  This isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.  Indeed, it makes her largely immune to the herd mentality and P.C. brainwashing so prevalent in the so-called “culture” at the moment.  She’s never going to be Miss Popularity, but then again, she’s never going to be anybody’s fool, either.

We were chatting this afternoon and she mentioned that they’re taking up the study of Existentialism in her English class.  Her comment on it? “What a bunch of long-haired hippy crap!” (Eric Cartman couldn’t have put it better himself.)  Sounds about right to me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was frowsting over a cup of coffee in his favorite chair in the Port Swiller library early Saturday morning when he noticed that the goldfinches at the thistle feeder directly outside the window were beginning to show the first faint signs of their yellow summah plumage.  With gardener’s logic, I realized that my plans to spend the day doing nothing suddenly were kaput, and that I had to get out and chop back the butterfly bush which so dominates the Port Swiller garden.  (Very long time friends of the decanter will recall that I refer to these bushes as Kong and the Konglings.  For those of you who don’t recall, the original Kong was a very, very small and frail seedling that I cultivated in the Port Swiller basement something like thirteen years ago.  Somehow or other, it survived not only its incubation, but its transplanting into the garden.  Since then, when all my other original cultivational experiments have withered away, it not only has thrived, but has multiplied copiously.)

A couple hours of hacking and hauling later, I stood looking at the results.  I can’t put it any better than did the Eldest Gel who, shouting over from the rope swing, said, “Hey, Dad! It looks like a forest fire swept over your garden! Haw, haw!”

Everybody’s a comedian these days.

Give it another couple months, the jungle will close right back in and will be filled with birds and butterflies, as has been my intent the past few years.  I am mulling over some plans to make the whole thing somewhat more formal, but not yet.  Not yet.

Speaking of which, remember the Great Panic over the imminent dooooom of the Monarch Butterflies because Globull Warmeninzs? Well, maybe not so much.  Funny, it’s almost as if Nature has the capacity to sort things out for herself or something.

On a different note, last evening Ol’ Robbo watched Radio Days for, I’m fairly certain, the first time.  A pleasant little tribute by Woody Allen to his WWII-era yoot in Rockaway, Lon Gyland.  In fact, Robbo’s father-in-law grew up somewhere in Brooklyn a few years later himself, so there was a lot about this movie that I definitely got.  The biggest thing, though, was the epiphany that this was Julie Kavner.  Marge Simpson before she was Marge Simpson, although the voice and the humor were plainly there already.  Very zaftig, if you know what I mean.  (‘Course, the movie came out in ’87, the year I graduated from college, which is a damned sobering idea.)

On another note, I also read Cary Elwes’s book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride.  If you’re a Princess Bride fan (and if you’re not, what the hell’s wrong with you?), it’s a moderately interesting read:  A goodish bit of behind-the-scenes backstory and trivia, but in my opinion somewhat too much, er, glad-handing.  Were I Emperor, the Superlative  Abuses Squad would have been down on Elwes with billy clubs and handcuffs before he got half way through his first paragraph.

But….You don’t pen a 30th anniversary book in order to trash the thing that’s keeping you in royalties, so who am I to second guess?

One legit sour note to the book: Elwes, in speaking of fan enthusiasm, relates the story of some young thing who had recently had “As You Wish” tattooed on the back of her neck and asked Elwes to autograph below the tattoo with a sharpie.  I ask you, friends, just how pathetic an image is that?  And what do you do if you’re in the position of being asked to sign, and therefore approve, such a thing?

Well.  All I can say is that I am very thankful I have not pledged my personal worth in this world on the altar of celebrity.

On a more positive note, in keeping with the whole Princess Bride theme, ol’ Robbo just got a new coffee cup with bears the legend: “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You drank my coffee.  Prepare to die.”

Now that, my friends, is teh funny.  Except I’m not kidding…….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I didn’t get the chance yesterday to mention that the Eldest Gel marched down to our local polling place and cast her very first electoral vote as part of this cycle’s Sooper Tuesday brouhaha.  She doesn’t actually turn 18 for another couple weeks, but because she’ll be old enough for the general, the local rules allowed her to also vote in the primary.

Somehow this makes me feel even older than did her getting her driver’s license or her college acceptance, I don’t know why.

The gel is immensely pleased with herself, as she rightly should be, and is tremendously keen on keeping up with all the campaigns and trying to prognosticate the eventual outcome.  Based on my own bitter experience, I keep warning her that there’s a hell of a time to go until November and that if she doesn’t watch herself she’ll burn out on it all long before then.

And speaking of burn out, I am just about through with the nonsense I keep seeing posted on nooz and opinion sites, usually trustworthy blogs, and FaceBook, even by people who I would have thought knew better than that.  To borrow a line from Mal Reynolds, the days of my not taking social media seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As is still his wont sometimes these days, ol’ Robbo tagged along with the family this past Sunday morning to his former Episcopal Church pour encourager les autres, where he was chagrined to observe that the youngest gel had discovered one can put one’s head in one’s arms across the back of the pew in front and look deep in prayer while, in reality, grabbing a quick snooze.

Anyhoo, after the service, I found myself sitting in on the adult ed hour downstairs in the parish hall.  The topic this week was the Sabbath – what it means and how to observe it, the presentation being made by some visiting cleric.

Well, as it turns out, the woman giving teh presentation – despite claiming to be a priest – quickly asserted that she had no intention whatever of discussing the theological aspects of the Sabbath, i.e., its place in the relationship between God and Man.  Instead, she spent the better part of the hour serving up a combination of common sense time management and New Age spiritual gibberish about aligning the circles of one’s inner being in order to release the Seventh Chackra, or something like that.  In other words, the lecture was really about self-worship.  (On reflection, I’m rayther glad she didn’t tackle real theology.  I probably would have got quite upset.  This was a lot easier simply to ignore.)

Eventually, in order to emphasize her theme about self-alignment, she served up a story about a South American tribe that, when it traveled, would walk for four days and then, no matter where it was, simply stop for a day before continuing.  When asked why they did this, they replied, “We stop in order to give our spirits the chance to catch up.”

The audience, or at least certain parts of it, ate it up.  I heard any number of those little mmm‘s and ahh‘s of wonder and affirmation from around the room, a virtue-signalling technique that I hate almost as much as the knowing, ironic chuckle the same sort of people let out whenever some oddity of their own church’s tradition is discussed.  (Such vocalizations, in my observation, are two parts preening and three parts sheer, gut-wrenching ignorance.)

But ah, the South American Tribe!  Jolly Jean Jacque Rousseau’s Noble Savage is alive and well in the Amazon Basin, imparting wisdom to anyone willing to take the time to listen.  I started musing about what other stories of South American Tribes could be served up and swallowed without question:

  • There was the South American Tribe who were so attuned to Nature that they could hold conversations with not only the animals but also with the trees.  The trees being Really Old could pass on all sorts of accumulated observation and wisdom.
  • There was the other South American Tribe who worked out Pi to its final decimal place using nothing but a complex series of finger movements.  Even their children could do it, although it would take a Westerner three whole lifetimes to become sophisticated enough to understand their technique.
  • There was the other, other South American Tribe who became such experts at peyote-fueled meditation that they could actually alter the atomic structures of their bodies and pass straight through rocks.
  • Finally, there was the South American Tribe who, through eons of studying the stars, were able to accurately predict the winning number in every single Power Ball drawing.

Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

The whole thing reminded me once again of the line attributed by some to Chesterton (although I’ve never actually been able to locate it) to the effect that when people stop believing in God, the trouble is not that they believe nothing but that they’ll believe anything.

(Speaking of GKC, I am currently rereading his Everlasting Man.  Unfortunately, I bought my edition from one of those fly-by-night publishers and the font can’t be much larger than about 8 or 9 points.  Very headache-inducing.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was sitting quietly last evening and reading Anthony Powell’s autobiography To Keep The Ball Rolling (amazing how small and interconnected the Brit art world was back in the day) when the Eldest Gel came into the library, mischief written all over her face.

“Hey, Dad!” she said, “What do you think of what Pope Francis said about The Donald and immigration today?”

“I wish he hadn’t,” I replied.  “He tends to shoot his mouth off without considering the likely results.  Nothing good can come of this kind of high-profile spat, especially once the media get their claws into it.”

“And about what he said about condoms and disease prevention?”

“Again, he’d have been better off not speaking off the cuff like that.”

“Not a good day for the Pope, eh?”

“No, probably not.”

“And on top of all those abuse scandals, too, no?”

“Look, was their something in particular you wanted?” I said sharply, “Or are you just here to mess about with me?”

“Oh, my, aren’t WE grumpy tonight!  I guess you miss your glass of wine during Lent, don’t you.  Too bad you have to wait so long to get back to drinking again.”

And with that, having given the dog an extra pat in order to show her unconcern, she strolled off.

Grrrrrrrr…….

There’s a line from the breviary hymn of St. Ambrose “Jam lucis ordo sidere” (which I recite as part of my morning prayers) that the 1962 Missal translates as, “And by spare use of meat and drink/our rebel passions to control.”  I can’t help wondering if this might not be an error.  In my normal state, I would have laughed down from lazy eyelids at the gel’s obvious attempt to bait me.  However, on my tenth day of giving up the grape?  It was all I could do to prevent myself from laying hands on her neck.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo awoke this morning to find moderate to heavy snow coming down around Port Swiller Manor.  Although “they” have been predicting this storm for some time now, there had been little consensus on what we’d actually get out of it.  Now that it’s here, we seem to be looking at 3 to 5 inches, turning to ice and sleet later on this afternoon and evening.  (There is some wailing and gnashing of teeth among the chillrens that a perfectly good snow is being thrown away on what’s already a school holiday, but I’m thinking they may at least get a delay out of it tomorrow.  Lazy swine.)

In other words, a perfect Pajama Day, you might say.  Except that ol’ Robbo can’t stand the idea of staying in his jammies all day long.  Gives me a distinct case of the heebie-jeebies.  Even if I do nothing more the rest of today than frowst in front of the fire with a good book and a bottomless cup o’ joe – a distinct possibility – I still feel the need to get cleaned up and get dressed first.  Always been like that.  Don’t know why, but there it is.

Blog Stats

  • 425,538 hits
May 2016
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.