We’ve been tracking Santa with the grandkids tonight. Been enjoying a nice visit with them and their parents and are “nervously” awaiting zero hour tomorrow when the presents are opened and then Christmas dinner.

The kids will all disappear tomorrow afternoon as they go off to visit other relatives, in-laws, out-laws, etc. The house gets mighty quiet when they all leave but this has become our new normal now that all of our children are grown and have left the nest.

On Saturday evening I decided the time had come to resume my affinity for CW and called CQ on 40 meters. More than once.

After some time my call was answered by a station in South Dakota but he never could get my call correct. We went back and forth at least a dozen times and though I copied him well, he never did get my call correctly and we finally gave up, defeated.

You may recall that I mentioned being close to having 1,200 contacts for all of 2018 and believed I could get the job done using CW. But after this failed session, I switched back to FT8 to see if I could get all the way over the hump using digital.

Sure enough, a half hour later, I had 1,209 contacts in the log.

I admit this was a setback. I’m no longer confident in being an active HF operator using QRP CW. It isn’t a loss in faith in the equipment, antenna, my own operational prowess, or the power level. I’m just not convinced that there will be much success in this pursuit while we’re stuck at a perpetual solar minimum.

Fortunately, the bands were better on Sunday morning when a half-dozen CW signals were copied and my spirits lifted, a little. But now seems a good time to re-evaluate my plans for 2019. I probably need to spend more time at the workbench and less time on the air in the New Year.

But now it’s time for bed - Santa needs a little personal space to get his work finished.