Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all continue to have a joyful and prayerful Christmastide.  Don’t forget that it doesn’t actually end until The Epiphany, January 6.  Ol’ Robbo will be checking up to see if anyone is sneakily taking down ornaments prematurely.

As for Christmas Eve/Day itself, things around Port Swiller Manor proved to be quiet.  It’s nice having all the Gels home for a bit, and was especially nice to see them all in church together on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo found he didn’t have the energy to stay up for Midnight Mass this year, so I crawled out of bed early on Christmas Morning to hit the early Mass.  I then scuttled home thinking I would be met with impatience and censorious looks plus itchy fingers on bows and ribbons only to discover that all the Gels were….still asleep!  My, have the times changed.

Christmas Dinner was the usual roast beef and Yorkshire pud plus two veg, except that when I went to the store Christmas Eve I discovered they had not a single stalk of asparagus in the place.  We had to give peas a chance instead.  We were joined as usual by my cousin, an elderly widow who lives out in the Shenandoah.  As usual, being a member of the Enlightened Secular Progressivist Brigade in good standing, she was both puzzled and somewhat alarmed by some of the traditionalist views thrown out by the Gels on various subjects, but happily we did not descend into actual politickal debate, heated or otherwise.

We then packed up the Honda Juggernaut and drove down to Wintergreen to meet up with by brother and his family for a couple nights.  We rented a big house with a nice view not in the resort itself but a little farther along the ridge line.  Since Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been on skis since high school, and since the weather was pretty dank, I forbore from any actual snow-related activities, although one afternoon my brother and I hiked up a pretty steep hill on the Appalachian Trail in order to take in the view and pat ourselves on the backs that we didn’t give up until we reached the summit.  Otherwise, I watched a lot of college football.  Also, although I’m not really a beer guy myself, I can heartily recommend a visit to the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company if you ever find yourself in the area.  (The link only goes to the Wiki entry.  Sorry, but I can’t seem to raise the homepage at the moment.)

And speaking of hiking, I came away from our relatively high-up jaunt hacking like a three-pack-a-day guy, with a clogged throat and burning lungs.  Two days later and I’m still at it.  In fact, they were the same damned symptoms with which I came down after physically exerting myself on the High Prairie out in Wyoming a year or two ago, symptoms so bad that I drew a mild, humorous rebuke from a federal judge because I couldn’t keep them under control in his courtroom. Evidently, there is some gunnegshun between high-altitude workouts and this kind of respiratory ailment.  Bleh.

As for the rest, we’ll take it easy the next day or two and then start preparing for some light entertaining for New Year’s.  The Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family will be staying over, as usual, plus we have a few other guests tentatively scheduled to drop by for “London New Year”, meaning we can get rid of them relatively early on in the evening.

After that?  Well, that rather depends on what Uncle does about his budget reconciliation.  This coming week may see the long-meditated grand reorganization of Ol’ Robbo’s library if I find I have sufficient time on my hands.