The Grand Duchess snapped this photograph through the rear kitchen window early this morning. The star of the show is a large, red squirrel of a type known as the Fox Squirrel. These are larger than the Common Grey Squirrel or the smaller Red Squirrel and quite common in our part of the Midwestern United States.
We've seen this particular miscreant in our yard before. He was fond of eating our unripened tomatoes and pears in our garden and yard last summer. Later in the season, he helped himself to many apples from the very same tree in which the birdfeeders now hang. Look carefully, and you'll notice that he is hanging upside down, gnawing away at the suet, which we put out to attract certain varieties of songbirds to our yard. The Downy Woodpeckers seem to like it!
Anyway, the Grand Duchess diesn't care for squirrels. I, however, find them terribly interesting and used to feed them bits from my lunch when I sat on Bascom Hill on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison 10 or 15 years ago. At the other end of State Street in Madison, on Capitol Square around the State Capitol Building, there are so many squirrels in the trees that they stampede anyone foolish enough to sit down on a park bench with lunch or some kind of snack as I discovered. Once, I took out a platic baggy of six or seven Oreo cookies, which were part of my lunch. All of the sudden, there were around fifty squirrels scampering down from the trees and advanncing toward me at the run. They were almost tame, and would come close enough to take the cookie from your hand before retreating about ten feet to enjoy their spoils. Crazy, man, crazy!
No painting last night, but I did glue the next nineteen RSM fuiliers to their temporary painting bases -- in other words, plastic bottle caps! I also spent a little while setting up the table in the next room of Zum Stollenkeller in preparation for the refight of Sawmill Village between Jeff Hudelson and me, which will commence just about mid-month after our return from Mexico. I think I actually have enough figures painted to field fairly large units this time around. Not full-strength battalions of 60+ figures necessarily, but certainly 30-40 figures per battalion or cavalry regiment. It should be a blast!
We are having our shingles replaced this week, so it has been kind of noisy with the workmen up on the roof tearing the old shingles off, nailing on new tar paper, and creating a huge mess in the driveway next to the house where they parked their dumptruck, to throw all of the debris down it its general direction. The noise has not been too intolerable down here in the basemnt, but the Grand Duchess, whose office is on the second floor beneath the attic, has had to retreat to her office on campus since the constant pounding makes concentration difficult.
As for me, I've been working on a newsletter and answering e-mails down here in an effort to avoid reading and grading another batch of student papers in time for individual conferences tomorrow morning. Our meetings are about their ongoing research projects. It is sometimes disheartening work. Sure, most of my students this term are interested, engaged, and have chosen interesting topics to explore through several linked papers, leading to a final research paper in May.
But, there are a few, who, no matter what you do to help them, jus don't get it or care. Ut wouldn't bother me so much, except that I'm not that demanding an instructor as long as students' work shows some thought and care. But there are always a few who seem to think otherwise, or, more correctly, don't seem to think. Sigh. Well, it's a little discouraging. Gosh, Mexico and Mom will be nice to visit. I guess I need a litle time away. ;-)
Finally, I am eagerly awaiting the arrivial of those Prussian RSM figures, which, if my tracking of FedEx is correct, should be here today or tomorrow. Can't wait to see what's in the package, since the price was very, very reasonible, and I have it on good authority that there are a few additional suprises along with the figures I was told about. Oooo, I can't wait! It's like being four or five all over again, except the package won't contain socks, t-shirts, or underwear from that distant great aunt in Patagonia or somewhere else! More news on this development once the figures have arrived and I've had a chance to examine everything in the box.
The "package" arrived about 4pm this afternoon and was full of RSM, Spencer Smith, and Blue Moon goodies (musketeers, dragoons, hussars, mounted officers, and the like). Too many to list now, but the Grand Duchy of Stollen collection has received quite an infusion of raw material, and the "pile of lead" is now worthy of the name. Special thanks to Jim Wright of Phoenix, Arizona for making an offer that was simply too good to pass up!