25 December

We do have a Christmas tree — not the one we put up in the bus a year ago, just a festooned-and-flocked little thing we got on clearance last week at Harps in Yellville. Our campground hosts presented us with a potted poinsettia, too, and we hung a couple of other small Christmas decorations. And that’s it.

Honestly, we don’t have room for more this year — our motorhome has turned into a maddening Charlie Foxtrot, crammed well beyond what’s sensible. Yes, some of it’s stuff we brought out of Ohio in July, but we also seem to have forgotten that we can’t stock a motorhome like we would a house.

Extra clothes. SHTF gear. Bulk packs and two-for-one deals. Nice-to-haves. Some of the overflow got dumped into the Jeep parked outside, but even it’s full.

Such is our life right now. In a couple of weeks, long before we have our Home on The Mountain, we’ll complicate it even further. (Relax, nobody’s pregnant.) I’ll talk about that when it happens.

Deb and I didn’t exchange gifts this Christmas. We opened only one present, sent from family back in Ohio, and we gave Scout and Dipstick their traditional chew toys wrapped in tissue paper. Then came a simple Christmas lunch — just as we did on The Mountain last year, we feasted on fruit (Arkansas Black apples), cheese, summer sausage and crackers.

Shortly afterward we noticed that the outside temp had risen to a simmering 28°F, and we decided that the heat pumps would be worth a try. They chugged to life and, we’re glad to report, they kept running — a very good thing, since heating with the furnaces the last five days managed to run us almost completely out of propane.

We’re optimistic that we have enough to get us through tomorrow night. If we make it, that’ll put us on electric heat through the first week of January. Fingers and toes are firmly crossed.

Our quiet Christmas afternoon was for post-chill cleanup. Deb handled inside chores while I worked outdoors — disconnect, test and stow the heaters we’d been using in the wet bay; move the Wrangler and the Silverado back to their proper parking pad; collect trash and stage it in the truck bed; replenish dog food; push the snow off our patio mat; and re-set our outdoor living space.

We’ll have to undo and re-do it all over again when we drive to the other side of the campground for the inevitable LP fillup.

It looks like we came through our wintry exercise pretty much intact. Deb’s cousin, however, wasn’t as lucky — though he’d taken every reasonable precaution, over on The Mountain a pipe in his well casing, below grade, froze and cracked. (That should give you an idea of how severe the cold was here in Ozarkansas.) The pipe has to be repaired (replaced) before he’ll have water again, and he’s hopeful that’ll happen this week.

There’s no telling when we’ll see conditions like that again, if we ever do. (I mean, this was a “once in a generation” system, right?) Regardless, misfortune is the best classroom and failure the best teacher — we’ll all learn from our experience and what we messed up.

We just might find out that nothing we could’ve done would’ve made a damned bit of difference. That’s valuable, too.

Deb and I toasted Christmas night with a special margarita recipe she found online — tequila, orange liqueur, pomegranate juice, lime juice and orange juice, served in sugar-rimmed pint glasses. We could’ve splurged on better tequila, and maybe we will next time, but we went with utility-grade José.

I won’t lie to you — this holiday potion is hitting me like a a big ol’ candied hammer. I’d better wrap up this post before I say something that would’ve embarrassed my parents.

I’m sure I already have. Please forgive the typos. Merry Christmas.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

Now here’s a helluva Christmas present — as I was about to publish this post, I checked our trailcams and found that wild (feral) hogs have made their way onto The Mountain. Ordinarily we’d expect ’em in the bottoms, but this is the first we’ve seen ’em up our way. Eight, by my count.

Can you say, “open season”?

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