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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As the more lynx-eyed Friends of the Decanter may recollect, Ol’ Robbo’s employment unit is upping stakes and moving to a brand new building in just about two months now.

This week saw the selection of individual offices within our new space.  We’re up on a higher floor in our new digs, and there are only a certain number of window offices available, not nearly enough for our entire attorney crew.

The selection lottery was based on service seniority.  Ol’ Robbo was mildly surprised to see that I came second in the entire bunch.  I guess I have been around for a while!  (In fact, some day I’ll tell you all about it, one way or another.  I’m thinking along the lines of John Mortimer’s Rumpole as a model.)

I couldn’t participate in the selection process myself, owing to a bout of Bechuana Tummy***, so I asked my immediate supervisor to make my choice for me.  “Oh, a window office for sure, please, and on the west side of the building,” I said.

Why the west?  Well, because that’s where the weather comes from.  And Ol’ Robbo loves to watch the weather coming in.

Not that I’ll really see that much since we’ve got another equally tall building right across the courtyard on that side, but I reckon I’ll be able to see enough overhead and round the corners.  Plus, I understand I get to graduate up to two computer screens now, so I’ll always be able to keep a Doppler loop radar open in a corner of one of them to coordinate with my observations.

If all this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


**Even though I may or may not be dressed as one.  Spot the *almost* quote.  Hint: It involves wood.

***Spot the reference.  I actually picked up a nasty chill/fever on Monday and there’s something going about, but I couldn’t resist plugging it in because I enjoy it so much.






Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a quarter of unconnected thoughts to start the week?

Firstest:  Despite the fact that it was cold and rainy in Your Nation’s Capital today, Ol’ Robbo went out for his usual lunchtime walk round the National Mall.  And as I trudged along, I was accosted by a nice-looking young woman -evidently from her accent a tourist from either the Caribbean or Africa – who wanted to know where the “Mall” was.  When I swept my arms around and said, “This is it”, she got a dumbfounded look on her face which I immediately knew meant she had been expecting a shopping mall.  This very same thing happened to me a year or two ago and at that time I was too surprised to respond tactfully.  This time, however, I kept my wits and said, “No, there aren’t any regular stores, but all the museums have nice gift shops.”  She seemed pleased.

Also, as I rounded the reflecting pool in front of the Grant Memorial, I noticed the air was full of swallows buzzing back and forth over the water in search of flying yummies.  I always love seeing this, as I also do the new hatches of Mallard chicks paddling to and fro across the pool’s surface.  Alas, this is my last spring to indulge this before my office moves away.  Gonna miss it.

Segundo:  Ol’ Robbo is very pleased that the two Elder Gels have gainful and interesting employment this summah.  Eldest started today working at Wolf Trap – she’s helping with set-up at first and will work concessions once the season starts –  and seems quite excited.  This sort of thing is right up her alley, combining the Arts with Hospitality (to which she’s always been drawn), and the more I ponder it, the more I wonder if this summah might not lay the ground-work for a future employment track.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, MIddle Gel is in the midst of an intense May-mester stats course, but when she’s done she intends to stay down in the Tidewater working for a dive-outfitter.  (She fell in love with scuba this year.  Also, boyfriend is down there.)  She’ll get paid to work in the store, but she also has a three-year internship for which she doesn’t get paid, but gets her dive-certification fees (which are hefty, so I gather) waived.  (As part of this, she’ll be going down to the Keys at some point this summah to help the outfitter conduct a dive for some clients.)  When she’s done, as I understand it, she will have gained her professional dive certificate, which she plans to parlay into graduate work and an eventual career possibly in marine biology.  (This is not a far-fetched idea at all.  Sistah’s hubby is in the field and is very enthusiastic about the opportunities for bright young ladies coming up.)

We’re not requiring Youngest to get a steady job this year, as she’s got a month’s worth of Bible Thumper Camp plus the college tour.  She herself said just yesterday, however, that she really needs to earn some money.  Musick to Ol’ Robbo’s ears.  I suggested she go with babysitting: Not only is it flexible, a responsible kid in these parts can make a killing in sweet, sweet, non-reportable cash payments.

Trois:  Regular Friends of the Decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo’s mention of his genealogy-obsessed cousin who regularly offers up new and intriguing bits of family lore?  (I believe the last time I mentioned her here was in connection with her news that one branch of the Family had been present on the Virginny Frontier in Colonial times and had suffered losses in Shawnee attacks on Kerr’s Creek in 1759 and 1763.)  Well, she’s at it again.  While in town this past weekend to go out with Mrs. Robbo, she informed me that she had definitely established our direct family tree in the neighborhood of Carlisle, PA, then very much the frontier, in 1763.  “Gawd,” I said, “I hope they weren’t mixed up with the Paxton Boys!” She’s enough of a history nerd that she laughed at the reference.  But I’m not so sure it wasn’t a possibility.

The Fourth Thing:  Well, Ol’ Robbo is off to watch “Bend of the River” which turned up today in his Netflix queue.  It’s not the best of the Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart westerns:  “Winchester ’73” takes that honor.  And why?  Because in the latter, Jimmah is driven by righteous anger to hunt down the no-good brother who murdered their father.  That I can accept completely.  But in the former, Jimmah plays an ex-Border Raider under Quantrill seeking redemption for his past wickedness by doing right.  Jimmah? A cut-throat hooligan? G’wan with ya!  I just don’t buy it.  But I like the film anyway.

Oh, and a Bonus:  At least Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats can’t lose today, seeing as they aren’t playing.  Sheesh. 


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Unlike Arthur Dent, Ol’ Robbo generally is quite fond of Thursdays.  (If Douglas Adams had set the demolition of Earth on a Tuesday instead, I would have been much more in sympathy.)

Today proved an exception, however, as I got caught good and hard in the backup from an accident on the Gee-Dub, and literally wound up taking two and a half hours to  make the trip from Port Swiller Manor to my office this morning.  The bulk of this involved standing absolutely stock-still on the Parkway for about an hour and a half.

Fortunately, Ol’ Robbo is blessed with a keen sense of humor and a quick eye for the absurd.  As time wore on, I amused myself in part by noting the steadily-increasing stream of guys who got out of their cars and scuttling into the woods for a quick pit-stop.  (How the ladies afflicted with the same urge coped, I can’t imagine.  In this, we fellahs definitely have the advantage.  A “biological conspiracy” as I saw somebody put it once.)

Perhaps more fortunately, Ol’ Robbo typically doesn’t have his first cup of cofevve until after he gets to work, so I was able view the scene in relative serenity.  I readily admit that, had I been in the same boat, I doubt if I’d have found it s’damn funny.  (I wouldn’t have jumped out myself.  Not because I have any objections to a bit of au natural relief, but because of the neurotic fear that traffic would have broken up while I was away and everyone would have honked and yelled at me until I got moving again.)

It turned out, by the bye, that some yo-yo had careened off the road and slammed into a tree, why I do not know.  The car was gone by the time I passed the accident site, but you could see the spot fairly high up the trunk where the car had hit, and the whole area was blackened because it had also caught fire.  The only nooz report I can find claims that no injuries were reported, but that doesn’t quite mesh with the fact that no fewer than three ambulances picked their way through the backup and passed me as we sat there.  (Obviously, my observations were irrelevant.  If the Press tells us there were no injuries, then there were no injuries!)

Anyhoo, enough to throw anybody’s day out of kilter, I think.

Ah, well.  As I’ve said before, if you’re going to get stuck somewhere on your commute, at least the Gee-Dub is a pretty place.  It’s now just under six weeks before Ol’ Robbo’s office moves from its present downtown Dee Cee location to somewhere deep in tiger country northeast of Union Station and I have to go back to riding the Metro.  Ask me if I’m going to enjoy that.  [Narrator: He isn’t.]

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel arrived home earlier this evening after taking her last exams this morning.  As Middle Gel pointed out this afternoon while we were chatting, and as I hadn’t really thought about until then, this means Eldest is now a rising college senior.

Jumpin’ J. Jehospaphat!  How on earth could that possibly have happened?  Seems like just yesterday she was still in high school!

Middle Gel immediately asked me if this made me feel older.  At the moment I suppose I was still in shock because I said no.  Now that I’ve had time to think on it, however, yeah, yeah it does.

By the bye, I suppose this is as good a time as any to note for those of you who follow these things that Eldest is going back to Sweet Briar to finish up in the fall.  Long time friends of the decanter may recall that she transferred from there over to High Point this year.  I won’t go into all the whys and wherefores of her decision to return to SBC, but I’m awfully glad of it, as the standards of education are higher (as she herself admits), and the alumnae network is absolutely unbeatable in helping her in her next steps, whatever they turn out to be.   She’ll finish as a history major with a musical theatre minor.

I think she’s going to have a very, very good senior year.  God send that it doesn’t go by too quickly!

But of course it will.

Next spring, we’ll actually have not one but two graduations to deal with, as Youngest will be finishing up high school as well.  As I told Middle, that’s the one that really is going to make me feel the flow of time because she’s the back marker.  Heck, it seems like just yesterday that she was sitting in her high chair, smearing spaghetti sauce all over her face!

Oh, and speaking of the flow of time, the Puppy-Blender posted a FacePlant flashback featuring a remoulade recipe from Karl Bock, aka “Chef Mojo”.  I never met Chef in person, although he was a regular commenter over at the old Llama Butchers and sometimes also in the earlies here before his health went south.  But his mother and I are long-time friends in meat space.  It was nice to see this reminder turn up.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt such a group as you friends of the decanter will be heartened by this story: Beer, Wine, and Chocolate Are Key to Living a Long Life, Study Says.

Working with more than 68,000 participants, [Warsaw University’s Professor Joanna] Kaluza and a team of scientists found that those with diets rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as beer, wine, and chocolate, which have anti-inflammatory properties, were up to 20 percent less likely to die prematurely [of heart disease and cancer] than those who ate a lot of red meat, sugary sodas, and processed foods.

“It is known that fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine, beer, and chocolate are rich in antioxidants,” Kaluza told Metro.

What would we do without studies?

As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo’s own diet cuts almost perfectly at right angles across these statements.  Coffee and wine are basically the alpha and omega of my dietary day.  On the other hand, I’m not really a beer drinker (it makes me feel bloaty), and I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever (so avoid both chocolate and soda).  Meanwhile, I am a dedicated carnivore, am mildly indifferent to fruits (except pineapple, which I loathe), and am very picky about vegetables (read: nothing beyond a green salad and an artichoke every now and again).  I dunno what “processed foods” actually means, but I suppose I eat some of them, too.   Result? So far into my now firmly middle age, neither my waistline nor my weight have changed very much since my college days, and although my doc has tsk-tsk’d at me about these dietary confessions, she’s never yet been able to pin specific medical consequences to them.   So there.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo has long suspected that the real allocation of overall health and longevity is, in fact, genetically-based.  Diet, exercise, mental well-being – in fact the whole concept embodied in the old tag mens sana in corpore sano – are important, of course, and can’t be ignored, but I suspect that their impact (beyond outright abusive behavior) is mostly at what one might call the margins:  If you’re pre-programmed to last somewhere between 75 and 85 years, attention to these things may land you at the top of that range, but it won’t really help you hit your century.  For contra-examples, consider these stories that turn up every now and again of somebody who smokes cigars prodigiously, knocks back whiskey every day, and lives to be 115.

Go figure.

At any rate, a glass of wine with the Puppy-Blender, from whom I lifted this story, although I actually find objectionable his oft-repeated enthusiasm for the notion of extending human life through Science!  Where he sees good in technological breakthroughs that could extend the average lifespan to 150 years or even preserve each of our “essences” indefinitely, all I see is the devil shouting at God, “Non serviam!”   We all die to this life, whether we like it or not.  Properly centered in Faith, we shouldn’t mind it.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo should clarify re that last bit that I am neither talking smack because I happen to be in good health at the moment nor am I suggesting cancers and other illnesses should not be fought vigorously.  God alone knows how I’ll react if and when I get that call from the doc’s assistant telling me I need to come in for a “talk”.  Instead, I’m objecting to the broader notion of significantly changing our natural parameters, or even outrunning Death altogether, through science and technology.  This includes everything from artificially growing “spare” parts to downloading our consciousness into some sort of computer bank to sticking our heads in jars a la “Futurama”.

Also, I meant to mention that J.R.R. Tolkien thought this idea important enough to touch on it in his writings.  In The Simarillion, Man’s natural death originally was called “the Gift of Eru ” but Morgoth, through lies and whispers, convinced Men it was an evil thing, so it became know as “the Curse of Eru”.  This served to diminish Men’s character and to estrange them from both Eru Himself and from the apparently immortal Elves.  Both the Kings of Numenor and then later (in the back story to The Lord of the Rings) those of Gondor became so obsessed with escaping it that they caused their own ruin.  Of course, Middle Earth, as Tolkien insisted, is not an allegory, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t weave his own worldview into it both in theme (as here) and specific actions. (It’s no coincidence, for example, that the Ring goes into the Fire on March 25.)

And speaking of Ol’ J.R.R., I understand there’s a new biopic coming out about him, but I also understand (at least from FacePlant sources) that it contains virtually no reference whatsoever to his deeply-held Catholic Faith.  How anyone could expect to truly understand his character formation and development without exploring that aspect of it, I simply can’t imagine.  Of course, the keyword in that sentence is “truly”, so there you go.  Unless somebody convinces me otherwise, I do not plan to see it.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Quasimodo Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo was particularly touched by today’s Collect (Old Calendar):

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui paschalia festa peregimus; haec, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus.

(Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal Feast, may, by Thy bounty, retain its fruits in our daily habits, and behavior.)

I had been thinking again about such things just this morning.  By the end of Lent and a rather heavy lode of fasts and abstinences he took on, Ol’ Robbo felt that he was getting the Holy Ghost’s signal quite a bit more clearly than he has for some time now. I fear that slipping back into my old routines (and I have to slip somewhat because I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely), it’ll start getting fuzzier again like the signal from my clock-radio, which you have to adjust just so if you expect to hear anything coherent, and which keeps going out of alignment all by itself.

Not that I’m expecting Bose-quality clarity, of course, but I don’t want to eat static.

And as it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday, the Padre gave a very good homily about the importance to Christian Faith of forgiving others which I wish I could get my siblings to hear.  It also hit home because they had a falling out when the Mothe died and haven’t spoken to each other since, and my understanding of the situation is that neither one is willing to budge until the other first admits that They Were Wrong.  I find the whole biznay to be petty and vindictive, not to mention anguishing, especially given that the Mothe’s will contained a codicil which specifically said “Don’t Fight!”  But so far nobody is paying much attention to my efforts at peace-making.  (Just have to keep trying, I suppose.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A crisp, clear, blustery day today at Port Swiller Manor, which for some mysterious reason feels more like September than April – a patent absurdity when you consider the tons of pollen and legions of maple seed pods I had to clear off the driveway this morning.

Another patent absurdity is the tornado warning which Youngest tells me was inflicted on her school yesterday afternoon when the thundershowers came through.  According to her, they were all hustled into the halls and made to sit there for about 45 minutes.  What nonsense: None of the cells Ol’ Robbo saw (and the school is within about five miles of here) looked anything like severe as they came over.  Prudence is one thing, pusillanimity another.

And speaking of pusillanimity, Ol’ Robbo stumbled across a grass snake as he was messing about in the garden, the first he’s seen in several years.  In fact, I nearly stepped on it. The rational part of my mind said, “Perfectly harmless, good for pest control, more afraid of you than you are of it, etc…..”  The irrational (and majority) part said, “AIIIEE!!! Snake! Run awaaaayyy!!”  No doubt a Freudian psychiatrist would tell me I’ve got unresolved daddy issues, while a Modernist would tell me I’m a homophobe.  I don’t care, I just really hate snakes.  Brrrrr……

Odd that I should have seen it today and right out in the open, because Easter Monday found me deep in tiger country, hacking back the forsythias to within about a foot of the ground, and there was no sign of it then.  I also lavished them with a heavy feeding of phosphate-rich fertilizer.  We’ll see if that has any measurable effect on their bloom next spring.

Meanwhile, the peonies are all heavy in bud (complete with those little ants that like to swarm all over them) and ought to be opening in the next week or two.  Perhaps I’ll post some pics.  When they broke ground this year, several of the plants came up in perfect circles of stems with bald spots in the center, a clear indicator that I’m finally going to have to dig the damn things up and separate out their root masses this fall, a task I’ve been putting off for years.

I’m still fretting about the jasmine, which don’t look outright dead exactly, but which sure don’t look all that enthusiastic about joining in the spring spirit.  I know from experience that they get going late, especially on the edge of growing territory where we are, but still I fret.

On the other hand, Mrs. R has been putting in yeoman’s work tending to the pachysandra bed out in the front ditch, and I see that we actually lost quite a lot fewer of them than I had originally feared.  (All the casualties were within a couple of feet of the street itself and I’m guessing the winter’s road salt was probably too much for them.) We only planted them late last summah so they’re still pretty widely spread out, but hopefully they’ll start to fill in this year.  My general impression of packy is that once it gets itself established, it’s practically indestructible.

And speaking of such, I’m seeing a lot of Virginia creeper spreading around this year.  I don’t understand some people’s objection to this vine.  It’s fast-growing, produces beautiful five-bladed leaves that turn a smashing red in the fall, and doesn’t tear into cement like ivy does.  I encourage it to grow wherever it isn’t going to interfere with something else.

I put the hummingbird feeder up this week, not that I expect any immediate visitors but more by way of an advanced invitation.  I am reasonably certain that we’ve had the same hen come in for several years now, and last year two others appeared as well.  (They spent most of the summah squabbling with each other.  Hummers are very territorial.)

Well, Ol’ Robbo must be off to do some makeshift repair on his Weber.  One of the brackets holding up the grill has rusted out and fallen off so I’m going to try and jury-rig a bit of coat-hanger by way of replacement.  Fortunately, this is something that Mrs. Robbo would not notice in a million years, so there’s no danger that she’ll fuss at me about it.  (I am of the use-it-up/wear-it-out school of thought, she much less so.  You should hear some of the disagreements we have over the state of some of my clothes, for example.)

UPDATE:  The jury-rig worked out perfectly, especially as I was using an extra-heavy piece of hanger. (Not a word to the Missus, please!)  Also, our landscaper guy dropped by for a visit.  We’re getting him to do a little rock work for us, but it’s always a slippery slope to stroll around the yard and say, “And how much do you think it would run to do this project, or this project, or this project……”  We’re actually pretty good about staying within a realistic budget for the yard, but at least it’s fun to stare at the estimates he comes up with for our more lavish fancies and drool a little bit.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is patting himself on the back this morning because he actually made the effort to go out and cut the Port Swiller Manor grass last evening after work ahead of today’s forecast showers and thunderstorms.  So Ma Nature is free to throw her weight around all she likes this afternoon as far as I’m concerned.  (Not that she will now, of course, the fickle hussy.  I’ve heard exactly one clap of thunder this entire spring so far.)  Also, as we’re still in the Octave of Easter, today is a Bacon Friday for me.  So Ol’ Robbo is in a pretty durn good mood overall.  With that in mind, how about a bit o’ random?

♦  Not that I touch on politicks much here, but I must say I’m a bit surprised that Creepy Uncle Joe Biden decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Donks’ ’20 nom.  I suppose the Establishment figured he’s their best hope, as She Who Must Not Be Named will shortly be radioactive and there’s not much else available on the bench.  I’d be even more surprised if he actually gets it, as the Jacobins seem to have completely hijacked the Party and will eat him alive.  (My guess at this point would be an eventual ticket composed of some combination of Crazy Uncle Bernie and Kamala [nickname not repeatable on a family blog] Harris. In sane times, we’d be looking at another McGovern/Mondale-level blow out, but I’m not so sanguine about that just yet.)

♦  Speaking of benches, Ol’ Robbo is bitterly disappointed that his beloved Nationals are finishing up April as a .500 club.  This is troubling both because the NL East is so competitive this year that every game is probably going to count come September, and also because we seem to be picking right back up with the same mediocrity we displayed all of last year.  Is it too early to set my hair on fire and call for the sacking of Dave Martinez?

♦ How are the Gels, you may ask? Doing well, thankee.  Middle Gel is in the thick of freshman finals right now, and later will be going back for “May-mester” to take statistics, a task I do not envy her.  Eldest is just finishing up junior year classes and will be coming home next week to drop off a load of junk before heading back for her own exams.  As for Youngest, the college search is ramping up this spring.  We’re mostly looking in-state, but we’ve also got our eye on Miami of Ohio.  Want some fun facts about the place? My great-grandmother’s family lived in the area of Oxford, Ohio from about 1800 until the mid-1950’s.  In fact, a couple of them were alums of the school, I believe.  They had a house in town that was eventually bough and torn down by the University as part of its expansion.  They also owned a mill outside of town along Four-Mile Creek that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad until the end of the War.  (They were stout Scots-Presbyterian Abolitionists, the lot of them.)  The Mothe always insisted that Great-Granma ‘Rilla was crazy as a loon and that it was her family’s blood which gave all of us descendants our own peculiar taint, but the history is pretty neat nonetheless.

♦  Speaking of gels, did you see the article about the Scottish Maritime Museum being bullied by vandals into ceasing to refer to ships as “she”?  That reminds me of one of my very favorite lines from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, where Spock says simply and elegantly as the Enterprise clears moorings, “Take her out, Mr. Saavik.”  Oh, and I suppose you also heard about Kate Smith being unpersoned by the Yankees?  If Ol’ Robbo ever found himself in Yankee Stadium – not that I’m likely to – I’d be belting out “God Bless America” at the top of my lungs during the 7th Inning Stretch, and be damned to these thugs and bullies.  Oh, and while I’m at it, a trio of Murrland Congress-critters is now trying to get rid of the statue of Robert E. Lee at Antietam.  Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember when airbrushing people out of history was the study of Kremlinologists and was considered a Bad Thing.  I’m also old enough to remember when Orwell’s “1984” was considered a cautionary tale and not a how-to manual.

Anyhoo, enough of that.  As I say, I’m in a good mood today, so how is it that three out of my four bits of random are so cranky?  Well, you’ve got to keep your eyes open and your wits about you these days, but at the same time, illegitimi non carborundum.  (They hate that, by the way, bless their hearts!)

And now I’m off to go see about some of that bacon.  Sweet, sweet, delicious bacon……………

UPDATE:  Well, Ma is coming through, it would seem.  The first of the afternoon t-showers just rolled through and it looks like another one will be here in just a few minutes.  So I’m about up to seven claps of thunder on the year so far.  Now if Ma really likes us, she might just rain out Youngest’s softball game tonight, not because I don’t want to see her play, but because I’m so comfy where I am right now….





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s Ol’ Robbo’s considered opinion that Old Man Winter has blown his last, icy breath in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor for the year.  Therefore, today’s project is to move all the plants we brought inside last fall back onto the porch.  These include four ferns and a potted palm, all of which are currently strewn about the house.

Remarkably, all of them survived this winter, even the one squirreled away on top of the freezer in the laundry room.  We’ve tried this stunt before, with inconsistent results. Why we got complete success this time (*hastily touches wood*), I really couldn’t tell you because I’m unaware of anything we’ve done differently this year.

Anyhoo, I’m going to move them out today and let them sit for a week or so to acclimatize, then I’m going to cut them back in anticipation of their spring growth.  (Some of them are a bit lopsided from being jammed in corners.)

Also, if I can summon the energy to do so, I may toodle over to the local nursery to pick up this year’s double knock-out rose.  A few years back, I brought one of these home for Mrs. Robbo for Mother’s Day.  We put it in a big pot at the top of the stairs to the back porch, where it flourished all summah.  In the fall, I took it out back and planted it in my garden among the peonies and the legacy roses I had brought down from my parents’ house in Maine.  I’ve done this every year since.  It’s a terrific rose, ridiculously easy to maintain and blooms like a maniac all summah long, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested.

One other thing I need to do is find some shade-loving specimens that look good in pots to place on the porch.  (The ferns mentioned above go in hanging baskets.)  I tried hostas last year, which I quite liked, although Mrs. R didn’t think much of them.  The porch (which is covered) faces northeast so its front gets minimal direct sunlight.  It would be nice to find something flowery, but I know that probably won’t work out.

Meanwhile, it’s juuuust a bit too early still to assess what made it through the winter outside.  While the clematis are already shooting out, I don’t yet know if my jasmine survived.  As I mentioned a few weeks back, at least part of my new pachysandra plantation out front is mort, but percentages are as yet unavailable, although I’ve a feeling it’s going to be worse than I thought.   On the other hand, the boxwood and ivy I have in urns on the patio look just fine, even though I never got round to wrapping them in insulation last fall or even pulling them in to a sheltered corner.

We have other spaces to fill, too – the half-whiskey barrels out front, the pots down on the patio, a new round of herbs for the porch, but I’ll let that wait another week or so.  (And it’ll be only a week or so – my brother and his family are coming here for Easter and if I know Mrs. R at all she’ll insist that everything be locked down beforehand.  It was only with a supreme effort that I convinced her that no, it’s still too early for power-washing the outside spaces.)

UPDATE: Garn! Duly toodled, but the nursery doesn’t have roses in yet.  It’s still mostly perennials and groundcover at this point.  (You may say that perhaps Ol’ Robbo should have called first.  To which I say call? CALL?  I’m a guy! That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!  You’ll be telling me I should ask for directions next.)

UPDATE DEUX:  Good news, everyone!  Pottering about, I stopped to have a good look at the jasmine.  The old bark on the main stems is starting to split, which indicates to me that all is well.  Huzzay, huzzah!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo, after a phone call with one of the Gels today in which we discussed an aspect of her immediate future, found himself having the same thought he’s had many times before:  I wish I had a dollar for every situation as the Gels have grown up in which, in answer to some conundrum or issue that has arisen, I have said, “I think you should consider doing ‘X’ (where ‘X’ equals some sensible, reasonable plan of action), only to have said solution either ignored, or sometimes outright resisted.  Then, after one or perhaps multiple iterations of the same conversation, the Gel one day out of the blue suddenly says, “You know, Dad, I think I ought to do ‘X'” without any reference to my prior opinion.

I’m not saying this little pattern – which is probably inevitable – is necessarily a bad thing.  Indeed, it’s probably good that they seem to feel the need to do the math for themselves.  It’s just that it takes rather a lot of (sometimes tedious) effort on my part and it would be nice to be able to make a little coin on the side off of it, that’s all.

UPDATE:  Speaking of the Gels, Ol’ Robbo received the happy news that both of the Elder two have locked down gainful employment for this summah.  AND, Middle Gel has got herself a job as front desk monitor for her dorm for next year.  We’re not making Youngest commit to a regular job because she’s going to be away twice at Bible-Thumper Camp (one term as a camper, the other working the kitchen crew) and will be doing the college tour thing several times in between.  Hopefully she’ll be able to pick up a baby-sitting gig or two, however.  Despite my rather heavy-handed attempt at humor above, I’m really quite proud of all of them.


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