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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been rayther busy, both in his other on-line alternate reality (that is, at his job) as well as in meatspace.  (Which see below.)  But here we are now.

Yesterday was the start of Ol’ Robbo’s long holiday weekend.  And what better way to begin the celebration of the birth of Our Great Nation than to subject the Port Swiller Manor back porch to its annual scrubbing? Yes!

I’ve got in the habit of leaving this task until after pollen and the spring rainy season are well over, reserving it for a good hot, sunny, dry weekend.  I looked it up, and it happens that this fell on May 24 last year.  That it got pushed back all the way to the beginning of July this time around is some kind of testament to the cold, wet, late spring we’ve had in these parts.  Glowbull Enwarmening, indeed.

Anyhoo, having shoved all the porch furniture to one side, Ol’ Robbo duly dug his powah-washer out of the depths of the garage.  After dragging it round back and up the stairs, and untangling power cords and hoses, I flipped the thing on.  It sputtered once and then died.


So I had to resort to Plan B, which was the hose, a sponge-mop, and a bucket of Mr. Clean.  I scrubbed the floor, first one side and then the other.  I scrubbed the ceiling.  I scrubbed the rails.  I scrubbed each piece of wicker (a dozen altogether).  I scrubbed the dining table and chairs.  I laundered the dog bed and the table cloth, and Windex’d all the glass and metal.  (We have lots of candles and picture-frames and whatnot.)  I even mopped the stairs going down to the patio.

And you know what?  The results were perfectly fine.  As to the floor, the test is whether I can put the area rug back in the same place based on the prior grunge outline.  As I simply couldn’t see it, I wound up moving the rug a couple feet over, and with it all the furniture, which lines up around it.  This was immediately pointed out to me by each of my wimminfolk as they came out to view the results of my labor later in the day.  It’s nice to be appreciated.

So that’s that for another year.  As to the power-washer, I’ve no idea why it died but I don’t think I’m going to go to the bother and expense of either repairing or replacing it.  It was a royal pain in the neck to get the thing up on the porch anyway, and if I ever need one in teh future (the patio needs doing every now and again), it seems simpler just to rent one.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Fathers’ Day!

Firstly, for those of you interested, Ol’ Robbo is pleased to report that he seems to have shrugged off the stomach bug and is feeling so much better that he anticipates getting back on the exercise horse tomorrow. (And just to prove it wasn’t the dreaded Corona bogeyman, Middle Gel, who had the same thing, actually got herself tested.  Result? Nyet!)

Second, Ol’ Robbo can’t remember a Fathers’ Day on which he has felt so, well,….grateful.  Grateful that Almighty God and my parents between them successfully knocked into me the values and skills I would need, in turn, to bring up the Gels the right way.  (Our Padre harped on the theme of strong fatherhood on both the celestial and the earthly level in his homily today, which is perhaps why I was particularly thinking about it.)

While each of them in her own way remains a work in progress, of course, thinking on the matter I was reminded once again of what a solid foundation they all have, a foundation of faith, common sense, and acceptance of objective reality, and with it a corresponding absence of need to “fulfill” themselves with crackpot politicks, pharmaceutical release, or sexual depravity.  It’s not sticking on side to mention my own contribution to this, in part because each of them from time to time has thanked me for it herself, and in part because my gratitude is based solely on my wish to see them wholesomely happy.  Ol’ Robbo is not looking for brownie points here, only his children’s well-being.

What with the Current Unpleasantness, it seems this armor suddenly has become all the more critical.  A torrent of pernicious – dare I say diabolical? – nonsense is coming to the fore now (whether because the Marxist Left is desperate or confident, I can’t say), and much of it seems to be aimed particularly at those yoot with holes in their souls due to the absence of both God and stern, old-fashioned sticks like me.  I fear the allure is strong for many.  I don’t fear it will get to the Gels.  (They may suffer for their character, of course, but I don’t believe they’ll surrender.  l’m confident – well, hopeful, anyhoo – that even Youngest, who heads off to college sooner than I like to think, won’t sail off into the deep end when she gets there.)

When I clumsily tried to say all this at dins on the porch tonight, Eldest, with her tongue fully in her cheek, replied, “Wrong!  You brainwashed us….Dad!  But the other side’s got a better deal now:  ‘Come join our cult – We’ve got cookies!‘”

I burst into a laughter that must have been heard all round the neighborhood.

That’s my Gels!

St. Joseph, ora pro nobis!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is anything going on in the world?  Lessee….

Well, Coronapalooza continues to be both a fraud and a farce.  And Francisco Franco is still dead.

I saw somewhere that somebody had labeled the Current Unpleasantness as the “1793 Project”, which made me smile.  You may argue the denizens of “Chaz” or “Chomp” or “Soymalia” or whatever it is and their ilk are more Maoists than Jacobins but hey, potato/potahto.

Ol’ Robbo didn’t get the chance to comment on the attempted disappearing of “Gone With The Wind” and “The Germans” episode of “Fawlty Towers” before the censors evidently backtracked in the face of popular outrage.  I’ve DVD’s of both so on a personal level this doesn’t affect me much, but I’m glad of the pushback anyway.  Gives one hope that the Silent Majority might really be a Thing.

On that note, Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember a time when if I objected to somebody else’s form of expression, a crucifix in a jar of wee-wees or a photo of a fellah with a bullwhip protruding from an unlikely orifice or a burning American flag for example, I was advised by my betters just not to look at them.

Oh, and on that note, this blog supports Elmer Fudd’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.  (Not that Ol’ Robbo endorses any attempt to generate new Loony Toons.  Mel Blanc is dead and gone, peace be upon him, and anyway the whole franchise went to hell some time in the mid-60’s when it stopped being a part of the package got up for adult movie goers and deliberately became a kiddy-oriented product.  Nonetheless, the point remains.  What’s Fudd going to do now? Speak with Bugs’ manager?)

Feh.  On second thoughts, let’s not look out on the world.  It ’tis a silly place.

So what’s happening closer to home?

The big news is that Middle Gel successfully completed her scuba rescue certification this weekend.  As I understand it, this is a major milestone in the advancement of a diver.  She’ll be going for her master diver cert some time soon.

Oh, and remember how Ol’ Robbo was griping about the Gel’s car having another attack of the vapors?  Well, she picked it up from the dealership in Newport News this morning.  On her way back up to Port Swiller Manor, some piece of debris hit her in front, causing a strip of plastic lining the front, right wheel-well to pop out.  Grrrr.  Sensibly, she stopped at a gas station, bought a roll of duct tape, and triaged the thing back into place.  That’s my gel!  (Fortunately, looking it over, I believe I can anchor the thing back down myself without the Volkswagen bandits rooking me for even more money.  But still…Grrrrrrr)

Meanwhile, Youngest got laid off from her Starbucks gig last week due to crashed sales.  Absurdly enough, I think she’s actually going to make more coin over the next six weeks from unemployment than she otherwise would have working.  As this is supposed to be her pocket money for shipping off to college this fall (and things are now a go for that), Ol’ Robbo is not complaining.

Decanter Dog goes in for her check-up this week and we’re seriously going to enquire into anxiety meds.  As everybody in the house has noticed, she seems to have got markedly more neurotic recently, and cooks off at every little sound or movement.  Damme if I know why she’s suddenly ramped it up to eleventy, but it’s a real pain.

And on the subject of pets, I recently uncovered not so much a conspiracy as an exploratory committee into the idea of bringing another kitten into Port Swiller Manor.  I stomped on this immediately.  In the first place, I pointed out, the remaining Decanter Cat, after having spent years quietly skulking in the shadows of her companion kittehs, far from feeling lonely has blossomed in her solo spotlight in the past six months.  In the second place, while Decanter Dog was willing to accept the fact of the then-current kittehs when she first came to us, I’ve every confidence she’d kill any new intruder.  Harsh, but so is Life.

Ol’ Robbo made a DYI attempt at cutting his own hair this evening, a first in my fifty-five years on this planet.  Specifically, I took a pair of scissors to my four-month-old ducktails, cutting them in as near a straight line as I could.  None of the wimminz-folk at dinner broke out in howls of derisive laughter, Bruce, so I guess I didn’t butcher the job too badly.  (There is No…RULE…SIX!!)

Finally, I offer you a picture of a single jasmine cluster.  Regular friends of the decanter will know of Ol’ Robbo’s jasmine-related woes.  As dearly as I love the stuff, and despite all the “hearty variety” flim-flam served up by various nurseries, it just doesn’t survive this far north.  I’ve planted a dozen different specimens the past few years, but of them all only one has survived.  Absurdly, it’s the one that has the greatest exposure and least sunlight compared to all the others, and only grows a couple feet during the season.  And yet, it managed to put out this cluster this year.  A metaphor for Hope in our debased times?  A freak of glowbull enwarmening?  A one-off to be wiped out the next really cold wintah?  I dunno.

Enjoy it nonetheless.









Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is very happy to report this evening his first sighting this year of fireflies on the grounds of Port Swiller Manor. As regular friends of the decanter may recall from previous mid-June posts here, I dearly love fireflies.*

There only seem to be one or two at the moment but I look forward to seeing the tree-line full of them shortly.

As I’m sure I’ve noted here frequently in the past, one of my fondest relevant memories is of the summah I spent at my godparents’ house outside Fred-Vegas** after my first year of law school.  (I was interning in the Senate.)  After a particularly violent thunderstorm in the early evening, I happened to go outside.  The hedge across the way was so full of fireflies, I swear I could almost hear the sound of their collective illumination.  Pah! Pah! Pah! And to this day, I still think of a lyric from the Ten Thousand Maniacs song “The Painted Desert”:  “The stars were so many there they seemed to overlap.”***

As I say, shiny.

Also this evening I spotted my first bats of the year flittering above the demesne.

This also made me very happy, as I love bats, too, but I recognize I have to be somewhat more circumspect about that.  Fireflies, so far as I know, are completely uncontroversial, while bats can be terribly polarizing.  Indeed, Mrs. R hates them with a passion, which is why I’ve resisted the temptation to tack a bat-house to the foundations of Port Swiller Manor all these years.

It’s also why later I shall break the joyous news of the former to her while keeping mum about the latter.

However, since this is my blog, which is mine, and which so far as I know Mrs. R still doesn’t read,**** I will offer here a toast to both.


* In Ol’ Robbo’s yoot in South Texas, I first learned to call them lightning bugs.  However, I don’t know if this was a result of my parents’ Yankee antecedents or the local usage.  (On this front, ask me some time about the grief I got among my peers over my family-taught use of the term “sand-burrs” for what they called “stickers”.)

** Fredericksburg, Virginny.  It’s a family joke.

*** Shut up.

**** And may it stay that way.

UPDATE: Damme if I know why that first asterisk-point is formatted differently.  WordPress evidently hates cut n’ paste and I’m too tired to go back and fiddle with it manually.  Just ignore it, thankee.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo, Youngest Gel, and I went over to the gel’s high school this morning to receive her diploma.

Because we’re still in the middle of lockdownpalooza, the “ceremony” is being spooled out over three days, with kids showing up one by one (by appointment), and being held outside in the parking lot.  When I first read about this, I was…..skeptical, to say the least.

The process involved two stations.  First, one pulled up next to a table, where the principal duly conferred the diploma through the car window and teh guidance counselor handed in a goody bag.  Second, one moved up to a little dais with a banner and balloons.  There the gel put on cap and gown and posed for her picture with her degree while the vice-principal congratulated her and Elgar blared in the background.  (I believe this was for people to film.)

Finally, there were various spots around the lot where one could take one’s own pics against appropriate backgrounds.

And do you know, we actually found ourselves rather liking this arrangement.  Sure, Constitution Hall downtown (our regular venue) is pretty cool, but getting there is a major pain the neck, one has to sit through a lot of tedious speeches, and the kidz are shoved across the stage at speed.  Here, on the other hand, we wound of chatting with the principal, counselor, and several of the gel’s favorite teachers, and really taking our time moving down the line.  It was very much more personal and, therefore, meaningful.

I asked the vice-principal how he was managing to listen to an endless loop of “Pomp & Circumstances” for three solid days without puncturing his eardrums.  He laughed and said he found simply blotting it out of his mind to be an interesting challenge.

All in all, a good time.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, Middle Gel’s Volkswagen Tiguan is once again in the shop for repairs. This time the turbo charger apparently is starting to go sideways.

It’s a 2012 and we bought it with about 30K on it in 2016.  I’d swear that blasted car has been in the shop and cost us more coin than the entire rest of the Port Swiller fleet combined, including my 17 y.o. Wrangler (on which the front differential is getting ready to let go, but that’s a different story).

The good news, at least, is that the Gel’s young man was able to beat the dealership’s quote down by a considerable amount.  (Did I mention the Gel has a gen-u-ine Young Man?  She does. They’ve been seeing each other a few months now. I’ve not met him yet, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find that, so far, I like everything she’s told me about him.)

Anyhoo, so much for the supposed superiority of “German Engineering”.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Life goes on.

Yesterday morning, Middle Gel took Decanter Dog off to the groomers to get her summah cut.  She returned very shortly thereafter, however:  D. Dog had checked off too many signs of stress boxes and had therefore been refused service.  Instead, at the groomers’ recommendation, the Gel brought home a starter clipper set.

Now you may ask yourself, “Self? What does Ol’ Robbo know from dog grooming?”  The answer is nut n’ honey.  Nevertheless, Mrs. R and I endeavored to persevere.  We pulled D. Dog out on the patio and between us started buzzing away.  I can’t say we were methodical, or even particularly consistent, and I’m sure AKA-types would have conniptions at our results.  But it seemed to us that we did a good enough job.  (And she must be cooler: I picked up enough shaved fur to stuff a medium sized pillow.)

I may say that Decanter Dog herself was quite patient with us throughout, even while I held her up so Mrs. R could have a go at her backside.  Meanwhile, I could barely resist the temptation to start yelling at Mrs. R, “Where is her Busy Bee?  Where is her Busy Bee??!! You go find her Busy Bee RIGHT NOW!!” ***

Then last evening, even amidst the series of thunderboomers that rolled through, we had a little home graduation celebration for Youngest.  She had picked up cap and gown earlier in the week, and had put on the dress she had originally bought for senior prom.  So after I retrieved my jaw from the floor (she was seriously stunning), we did the obligatory family pictures.  (This was the first time Ol’ Robbo had put on a tie since mid-March, by the bye.)  Dinner itself, at which Youngest’s best friend was also present, consisted of P.F. Chang take-out and a bottle of champers, plus macaroons and ice-cream cake for dessert.  It was considerably more enjoyable than many more elaborate affairs to which I’ve been dragged.

This morning I discovered that my weed-whacker is on the fritz again:  The end of the gas line has popped out of the tank.  This is a problem I’ve dealt with before but for some reason simply pushing it back in again is not working this time.  So I will need to run to the hardware store later (twist Ol’ Robbo’s arm!) and find some Flex-Seal or something to lock it down.  If I have any left over, perhaps I’ll also build a motorboat out of a chicken coop!

As I say, life goes on.

***Spot the quote.

UPDATE:  The weed-whacker repair was a success! I needle-nose pliered the tube back into the tank outlet, slathered the connection with some clear, all-purpose epoxy, and let the thing sit for twenty-four hours.  Worked like a charm this afternoon.

So, how about some hydrangea (oak-leaf, of course)?  I planted about a dozen of them behind my garden fence when we first moved into Port Swiller Manor twenty years ago and they’ve matured into a solid hedge that blossoms consistently and enthusiastically every year:

The big clusters of white make a very nice backdrop for the various reds, yellows, blues, and purples that come up in front of them.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday would have been Youngest’s high school graduation.  It’s kind of ironic that it was an absolutely beautiful, cool day – Ol’ Robbo wound up swimming in his own sweat getting to and from her elder sisters’ ceremonies in the past.

The other day I got lockdown-fevered enough to drop in on a “virtual” happy hour with some of my work colleagues.  We got talking about kidz and school, and I happened to mention that if Youngest’s college campus doesn’t open up this fall, she’ll take a gap year and work at home.  “Between that and her college-grad sister likely also at home because of the horrible job market, it looks like we won’t be empty-nesters this fall after all.  Too bad, because Mrs. R and I were looking forward to it.”

About a half-dozen pairs of eyes on my computer screen suddenly widened, and I heard a perceptible little gasp.  Evidently, I had said a Very Bad Thing.

Is Ol’ Robbo’s attitude so wrong?  The Gels are all grown up, after all.  They should be leaving the nest and establishing their own lives.  We’re actually excited on their behalf for this transition.  And to be fair, after 20-odd years of taking care of them, we’re about due for a break.

I’m still scratching my head over this.  Perhaps it’s because my audience all have much younger kids and haven’t got to this point yet.  Perhaps it’s because they’re all younger themselves and there’s some kind of generational thing at work.  Perhaps it’s because none of them happen to share my socio-politickal views.

This is why I never socialize with these people in meatspace, by the bye, the constant need to watch my tongue being far too tarsome.  I’ll remind myself of that the next time I get the urge to do the video thing again.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely Saturday morning here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  The front came through last night with rain but, alas, no boomers.  Maybe next time.  Meanwhile, a cooler, sunny weekend ahead and all that I really have to do in the garden this week is a little dead-heading.  Perhaps I’ll put up some more pics later on.

In the meantime, having reached a certain level of cabin fever caused by three straight weeks of house arrest, and in spite of Kommissar Northam’s ridiculous new mask requirement, Ol’ Robbo woke up La Wrangler and drove over to the local hardware store and Total Bev.  (I won’t got to Giant these days, as it is wall-to-wall Karens yelling at each other about following floor arrows.)

Yes, while in the stores I wore the stupid mask.  My very first time.  Mrs. R has a pack of them she picked up from some animal rescue outfit, that being her big cause.  They feature a picture of a dog and the words “It’s Ruff Out Here”.  I can only be pushed so far, so wore mine inside out.  For all that, it was uncomfortable, quickly got quite hot, and kept slipping off my nose.  Which is to say it was also completely useless.  I clawed the thing off even before reaching the exits.

Fortunately, nobody seemed to really care.  And I now have a full load of bird feed as well as a good stock of the true, the blushful Hippocrene.  (Leaving the vino purchases to Mrs. R, which I have done in recent weeks, can be immensely frustrating, since she believes anyone who has more than a couple glasses of the stuff in an evening is an alcoholic and limits the flow accordingly.)

Well, off to find my garden scissors….

Oh, fingers crossed for this afternoon’s second attempt at the SpaceX launch!  Ol’ Robbo frankly had not been following this story very closely until the first attempt this past week but now I’m quite excited for it on several levels.

UPDATE: Watched the launch and how awesome was that?  (Here’s praying something terrible doesn’t happen while I’m posting now…)  If we can shift space exploration from gub’mint bureaucratic boondoggle to sound commercial enterprise, why the sky is literally no limit.

As promised, a few more garden flower pics:

Here’s a shot of fox and friend.  (Did you see what I did there?)

Another foxglove I thought neat because you can see the yellow stamen clearly:

And yet another example with a somewhat less strident coloring:

And finally, a sort of wisteria idyll.  I have lots and lots of the stuff – this shot is looking across the lattice underneath the back porch:

(I’m not the best photographer in the world and I’m only using my iThingy, but I thought the effect kind of nice.)

Well, there you have it.  Looking forward, my hydrangea hedge (oak-leaf) is getting ready to unleash itself.  Also, although probably not pic worthy, looks like we’re going to get a lot of raspberries and native blackberries this year.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening the conversation at the dinner table wandered around to the subject of haircuts.  I haven’t had one in something better than three months now and have definitely got somewhat shaggy.

We discussed when and how (and even if) our salon would open up again and, once it does, how long it might be before one could even get an appointment, especially with all the hoops Kommissar Northam is likely to make us jump through.

“Why don’t you just cut Dad’s hair, Mom?” asked Youngest Gel.

Mrs. R looked at me meditatively and said, “Actually, I kind of like it longer.  It covers up that bald spot on the top of his head.”


Youngest laughed uproariously.  I just goggled.

I know I’m thinning out on top, but I had believed that spot to be my little comb-over secret.  Apparently not.

UPDATE:  Just checked on FacePlant and I see the salon is actually opening up next Tuesday, and in the new digs to which it was about to move just before the lockdown hit.  Good for them!  I was genuinely worried about whether or not the business would survive.  (I’ve had the same gal cut my hair for something near 20 years now, so I take this personally.)

On the other hand, I see where according to Der Kommissar, under the current phase of re-opening salons and the like are required to keep (and presumably make available to Big Brother) visit logs and contact information for their clients.  Damn that.  I’ll wait until this nonsense has died down somewhat farther.




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July 2020