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Showing posts from December, 2017

Freicorps Musings on New Year's Eve. . .

Two different versions of the Chasseurs de Fischer infantry gleaned from the web.

Yes.  I know.  The promise was not to bore you with grandiose plans for much in 2018 given my relatively lackluster hobby activity in the year almost ended.  But I find myself getting excited by the prospect of building up that tiny freicorps, and some shortly to be released Crann Tara figures aren't helping the matter any.  If I keep things small and modest, what can go wrong?  

On second thought, don't answer that!  But if all goes well, I might even be able to get things finished before this time next year AND make up some lost ground on the figures I had hoped to paint to completion in 2017.  

Anyway, you can see what I'm thinking  for a company of 15 or so light infantry types in the illustrations above.  The line portion will be an understrength two-company battalion (30) of Frei-infanterie (uniforms probably based on the Von Hordt regiment), a squadron of 12-14 hussars based on one or ano…

New Year's Eve in The Grand Duchy. . .

One of just a few more seasonal illustrations his morning.  Nothing quite so striking as Cardinals against a snowy backdrop.

Still quite cold.  Snowy.  Swimming lessons for the Young Master and a family ski tour later this afternoon before the Grand Duchess whips up a New Year's Eve dinner of pork tenderloin with fennel and onion relish, roasted vegetables, roasted brussel sprouts, and a few other items including the last of a cranberry and orange relish that I make us each year.  

Which reminds me.  I need to put together a cherry pie for dessert.  Otherwise a lazy day ahead nibbling on the remaining Christmas treats and listening to some Christmas jazz one last time before we put things away for another year on Tuesday and settle into that post-holiday quiet, which is just as intoxicating in its own way as is Advent and the eventual celebration of  Christmas itself.  

Sadly, the start of school again on January 8th looms for all three of us, but we have one more week of relatively …

Christmas Week Tinkering. . .

Another old seasonal image, this time wishing us good luck in the new year.
A bit of tinkering at the painting desk yesterday afternoon, opening and sorting several new packets of  Minden French artillery, pioneers, a mounted officer, and two 8pdr. French cannon, which were given to me by the Grand Duchess this Christmas Day.  Most of these are destined to be painted in the uniforms purportedly worn by the artillery contingent of Lauzun's Legion during the American War of Independence.  Some shade of blue (probably darker to mid-) and lemon yellow facings. 

Eventually, these figures will become the artillery arm of a small legion or freikorps that I envision, consisting of battalion of line infantry, a company of lights, a squadron or two of cavalry, and said artillery.  Rather than make up uniforms of my own, I think I'll depend on actual uniforms from historical formations since there are so many eye-catching examples out there.  More on this anon since it now seems like I hav…

Coming Soon. . . A Small Christmas Week Game!

Not the more usual Victorian or Edwardian Father Christmas this time, but a young boy on Nordic skis observing the Christmas Star.  This reminds me of when I used to set off for night time skiing on the miles of (unlighted after 10pm) trails just outside Trondheim, Norway during the winter of 1999-2000.  It was a snowy year that winter, and there was white stuff on the ground from the end of November through almost the end of March that season.  You see a lot when you are along in the woods in the middle of a snowy night.  A lone wolf was one particularly unnerving encounter.  Luckily for me, he was more interested in raiding a trailside garbage can.  I began making my daily ski tours during daylight hours after that.

Fairly quiet here at Stollen Central the last few days as we have enjoyed Christmastime with all of its cold and snow this year.  We have had considerable upheaval of various kinds the last 2.5 years since our move to Michigan, but I feel as though some calm and normalcy …

Some Christmas Skiing. . .

The Grand Duchess managed to catch an amazing wintry sky on her phone during yesterday's ski tour.


The Young Master and Dad climb a slight rise in the woods.


The Young Master led all of the way and, apparently, had a really good time doing so.  It was one of our nicest family ski outings yet.

A lazy Boxing Day yesterday with more Christmas food and treats.  We did nothing o consequence other that suit up after lunch for some cross-country (Nordic) skiing at another park just a few minutes from the house.  Conditions were quite cold with powdery snow.  Just right.  Another round of skiing is planned for today given our current conditions here in Mid-Michigan.

-- Stokes



Happy Feast of Stephen!

An unusual old Christmas image that I cam across in my annual image search earlier this month.

Happy second day of Christmas everyone.  Or Happy Day After as my late maternal grandfather used to say.  We are planning a relaxed day with some light skiing in another nearby park which has trails.  Again, just about five minute from the house and later more Christmas goose and all of the fixings.  The Young Master seems to enjoy goose and even suggested yesterday evening during dinner that we have it for Christmas every year, so I guess that is that.  Otherwise, some time down here in Zum Stollenkeller today, so I can finish tightening up an article to get off to Greg well in advance of the New Year.  The online Christmas jazz should help spur me along nicely.

-- Stokes


The Young Master and Dad, Christmas Day 2017.



Merry Christmas from The Grand Duchy of Stollen!!!

A bit late, but still almost three hours of Christmas Day left here at Totliegh-in-the-Wold.  I hope everyone had a calm and peaceful day of family, friends, delicious food, and perhaps a few moments for quiet reflection. We've had snow here and went tobogganing and cross-country skiing for a couple of hours during the latter half of the afternoon before a goose dinner here at home.  Merry Christmas everyone!

-- Stokes

It is almost Chrstmas Eve in the Grand Duchy of Stollen. . .

The ground is white with fresh snow east of the sun and west of the moon in the far off Grand Duchy of Stollen. Billowing, silvery drifts are piled throughout the country. The rivers and lakes are frozen solid. The woods are still but for the distant jingle of sleigh bells in the bracing air. The sky is slate grey, and heavy coal smoke hangs over the villages and towns. It is almost Christmas here in the Grand Duchy, somewhere very near to Frederick’s Prussia, sometime during the mid-18th century.  More or less. 

Citizens of Krankenstadt bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets of the small capital city of the Grand Duchy, running last minute errands before the Christmas festival begins in earnest. The red brick North German Gothic storefronts feature special Christmas items and treats like the marzipan for which the city is known, and the happy faces of children peek in through the frosty windows at the cheerful seasonal displays.  Street vendors ped…

Today (Saturday) Is Stollen Day!

No, not Father Christmas, but a rather festive image of an old seasonal card that I rather like.

A totally non-wargaming hobby post here.  Consider yourselves forewarned.

The Grand Duchess and I sat by the fire in the library last night for quite some time after the Young Master's bedtime chatting about this and that while enjoying a nip of Irish Creme and the winter quiet of Totliegh-in-the-Wold.  Sonja casually mentioned at some point that she would bake the stollen today (Saturday), which I had figured out already since one of the grocery bags I brought in from the car on her arrival home earlier yesterday evening had yeast packets, candied fruit, and powdered sugar in it.  It was at that point that the German grammar discussion began.

Now,  I have heard of families in the German-speaking parts of Europe where this also happens from time to time.  More of which in just a moment.

When I was a graduate student in the 1990s (studying Scandinavian languages and literature, thank you ve…

Presenting. . . The Freshly Glossed Heroes of Boucharde!

Look closely, and you'll see that the second coat of acrylic gloss medium is still wet.  That's 'Rolf' (Kirk Douglas) in the blue coat and 'Knut' (Richard Harris) in the straw hat by the way.  'Magnus' and 'Geir' (my flatmates when I was a student in Norway now quite a few years ago) flank them.

The Heroes of Boucharde are all done and waiting for my planned refight of Steve Hezzlewood's and John Ray's Boucharde Raid during Christmas Week.  So, part of my pledge for the pre-Christmas Informal Painting Challenge organized between myself and several wargaming friends and acquaintances around the globe has been met.  Sadly, it looks like I have run out of time to complete those blasted replacement infantry standards, which I also pledged to complete.  These have only been hanging around here in one stage of completion or another since. . .   yes, last January!  Maybe I can get to those during Christmas Week as well?  Time will tell.

On that n…

The First Coat of Acrylic Gloss. . .

An interesting German depiction of ol' Saint Nick going about his business.
The first coat of Liquitex acrylic high gloss varnish has been applied.  Tomorrow morning, a second application, and then I'm calling the Heroes of Boucharde done.  Christmas is almost upon us, and, probably like many of you GD of S visitors, there is much to do and see to over the next few days.  Stay tuned for a photo update tomorrow.

-- Stokes

Heroes of Boucharde Painting Update. . .

Just about done with the four "heroes" for my planned Christmas Week 'Boucharde Raid' refight.
An hour or so of painting tiny metallic bits and pieces.  Almost there, but still a few small brush mishaps to correct, and then I'm calling these done, and it will be time to apply the usual two or three coats of acrylic gloss varnish.  Then it's time to do something about all of those replacements infantry standards.  I know, I know.  How many times have you heard me say that before?



Another quiet old illustration of Father Christmas, once again in blue robes.  

************

On a completely different note, when did the Christmas season become so loud?  And I mean that in a figurative as well as an aural sense.  The general over the top atmosphere riddled with superficial hyperbole that begins in September and, if retailers are anything to go by, ends abruptly on December 26th seems all wrong somehow.  The season actually lasts into January.  

Of course, it isn't s…

Tales of a Sunday in Mid-December. . .

Some painting Sunday evening.  Very close to finishing things now on the Heroes of Boucharde.  Just a few small details and then two coats of glossy varnish.

A bit of this and that yesterday.

-- Stokes

A swimming test passed.


Some afternoon skiing nearby.


The young author at work in the library, writing a chapter book (he wrote the first four chapters) on (wait for it). . .  The evil Dad Ogre, who metes out punishment to the resourceful young star of the story, who eventually escapes up the chimney to a helicopter that flies by just over the house.  No, I'm not making this up.  Clearly the timeout chair, writing about X when there has been an error in eight-year-old judgment, to say nothing of asking YMP to bring his basket of dirty laundry to me at the washing machine, feed and water the cats daily, help make his bed and keep his room straight, plus swiffer the floors in the kitchen and breakfast area once a week are issues he is working out through his writing.  The story itself is a…

A Quiet Sunday Morning. . .

I'm not sure I have ever come across a Father Christmas dressed in brown robes before, but he looks suitably magical and wizard-like.

A challenging day yesterday, so the Grand Duchess and I collapsed before the fire with some single malt scotch (12-year old Talisker), gluehwein, and a little eggnog yesterday evening.  No painting on the Heroes of Boucharde then, but I plan to do something about that today after breakfast and perhaps a bit of skiing.

-- Stokes


P.S.
This year's stollen is coming, but probably not until later this coming week, or the weekend just before Christmas.  Needless to say, I can hardly wait. 



A skiing-selfie of sorts, taken this afternoon during another two-hour constitutional not far from the house.

Another (Slightly Unusual) Seasonal Image. . .

Kitties anticipating Christmas Dinner being prepared by Mother over the fire.  What's not to like?

A bit more snow fell in the night, and the car (mine that is) must be cleared off later so that the three of us can drive up north for a late lunch/early dinner at one of the several German restaurants in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

I was so pleasantly and delightfully worn out after two hours on skis yesterday afternoon that I did not get to painting table last night but spent time sipping  gluehwein with the Grand Duchess before the fire following the Young Master's bedtime.  The ski-tour itself was amazing.  I was the only one at the park.  It was absolutely silent save for the occasional breeze, a creaking bough or two, and the almost imperceptible sound of the snow itself falling from the sky.  The circuit around the park's perimeter through several wooded loops and up and down several rises and a few actual hills is about 3-4km.  I went around three times in two hours with sev…

It's Getting to Be That Time. . .

No, not quite a painting update on The Heroes of Boucharde, but rather the second of several seasonal images.  Long-time grand Duchy of Stollen visitors -- and it is now over 11 years since this blog began its rather circuitous route. . .  ostensibly a blog about wargaming plus the soldiers and scenery that go with it, but covering an awful lot of non-hobby territory in the meantime -- might recall my fondness for Victorian, Edwardian, and Wilhelmine images of Father Christmas/Santa Claus.  I'm getting into gear a bit late this year, but with only ten days to go until the Christmas Season starts in earnest, there's no time like the present.  As usual, pun unintended.  Ask the Grand Duchess.  I cannot seem to help myself. 

At any rate, I am especially fond of depictions that feature Father Christmas in robes that are not the ubiquitous red.  This blue caught my eye instantly as I was wasting time last week, avoiding actual work here at home, by scouring the web for suitably Chr…

The Heroes of Boucharde: Evening Three. . .

The heroes at this point.  Still some work to do, and a few of the inevitable touch-ups, but not too shabby if I do so say so myself.  The guy in the dark blue coat and the one to his far right in the mustard pants are really starting to resemble Richard Harris and Kirk Douglas at this point.  Don't you think?

Another hour or so on this, the third evening of brushwork on The Heroes of Boucharde.  Painting so far has been with my usual mixed media approach.  Winsor & Newton Griffin alkyd oil thinned with a drop or two of Winsor & Newton Liquin 'Fine Detail' thinner for the flesh and black areas.  Ral Partha and Citadel hobby acrylic washes elsewhere on the figures have been achieved using tiny dabs of paint and a drop of Liquitex Flow Enhancer.  White stockings and shirtsleeves are simply several thinned applications of white over an undercoat of gray acrylic.  

Tomorrow evening, dark brown bases and musket stocks plus firelocks as well as brass buckles on the shoes. …

The Painting Gears Are Creaking Back into Motion. . .

Fleshtone wash is all done.  A black wash over gray will follow for the shoes and tricornes, and then the real fun can start.
Not much to look at just yet, but I managed to snatch a relaxing 30 minutes or so to apply a wash of fast-drying Winsor & Newton alkyd oil fleshtone last night between about 9-9:30pm.  This evening, after a day of errands and some work-related administrative 'paperwork' (actually paperless and on my laptop, but just as interesting, which is to say it absolutely is not interesting. . .  anything but in fact.), I'll return to undercoat eventual black areas in gray and then apply a black wash.  

Once that is done, a gray undercoat to the shirt areas and then a wash or two of white on top.  Then, it will simply be a random mix of browns, tans, and maybe a bit of dark blue or dark green for the remaining clothing since these figures are armed civilians.  I'll conclude with the musket stocks, barrels, firelocks, and brass buckles on the shoes.  And …

Well, Here We Are. . .

The four Minden (or is it Fife and Drum?) armed civilians in question just after their initial base coat of white acrylic gesso.  In the morning, they'll get a second followed by a thin wash of alkyd oil fleshtone during Sunday afternoon.

Here we are.  Already it is December 9th, and I have gotten myself into a friendly painting challenge with some wargaming friends and acquaintances, the usual suspects around the globe, who have led me unwittingly down the garden path before.  You'd think that I would have learned by this time, but these guys are a wily and downright fast crowd.  As my dear old mother, bless her, once warned, no good will come of it.  "They'll be the ruin of you yet, son.  How about something safer, like stamp collecting?"

In any case, I decided to keep things manageable this time, and I have pledged to paint just the four figures above for my planned Heroes of ? scenario (based on Steve Hezzlewood's and John Ray's Bouchard Raid) AND to f…

The Heroes of. . . Boucharde??!!

One of the theater lobby posters used to promote the film in question at the time of its release 50+ years ago.  I actually have an original framed and hanging down here in Zum Stollenkeller.  My stepdad and I found it almost 30 years ago while digging through a stack of vintage movie posters in the basement of a junk shop in the Squirrel Hill Neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Kirk Douglas and the late Ulla Jacobsson.  the shape of her face and cheekbones clearly made an impression on the 11-year-old Stokes when I first watched the movie on TV late one Saturday night during Christmas Vacation 1977-78.  Remember when TV stations used to feature late-night movies?  Anyway, I now realize how similar the facial structure of the Grand Duchess, who is also of Swedish extraction, is to Ms. Jacobsson's.  Funny how the oddest things stay with you in one way or another.

Looking for something a little different to do during the upcoming Christmas break, I reread Steve Hezzlewood's…