Skip to main content

2018: A Year in Review. . .

The Grand Duchess and I are looking forward to a quiet evening at home tonight with a sparkling wine toast at midnight.

Well, here we are at the end of yet another Christmas season and year.  On a personal and family note, it has been reasonably good as far as years go.  The Grand Duchess and Young Master continue to go from strength to strength in their work and school activities, as does my sister with the former.  She relocated from Phoenix, Arizona back to Washington, D.C., after an absence of 20 years or so, in December 2017, which was followed in fairly short order by quite a promotion,  Good ol' Mom and Stepdad continue to tick along and have recently relocated back to the United States (Pinehurst, North Carolina), so they are a bit closer than in Merida, Yucatan State in Mexico, and my stepfather has begun his phased retirement, planning to conclude professing at The University of Pittsburgh in another couple of years. 

As for yours truly, things have been reasonably good during the last 12 months, although I wish there had been more time hobby pursuits.  A lament (frustration?) that is probably a familiar to many who dabble in miniature wargaming around the world.  Things were not quite moribund here in The Grand Duchy of Stollen however.  Close, but not quite.  As always, there was much hobby-related reading, rereading, daydreaming, and planning of future tabletop exploits.  

The year began with a bit more piecemeal work on painting up replacement infantry standards and some dabbling with a new light tent and hobby-related  photography.  I also managed to track down and purchase the first 24 issues of the now long gone Practical Wargaming late last winter via Ebay.  These continue to provide much food for thought, entertainment, and dovetail nicely with my first two dozen issues of Miniature Wargaming

During the late spring and summer months, I actually managed to find the time (the spring semester/term ended at the start of May) to do a number of things including finish pairs of Minden infantry standard bearers that replaced old single MiniFig 25mm figures.  I also painted the Eureka 'Ooh, You're So Awful' vignette, and began work on a 30-strong unit of RSM95 French Horse Grenadiers in bearskin bonnets, which I have recently almost finished except for a couple of coats of acrylic gloss.  All of that took me until the end of August, when the university machine cranked into action once more, and free time disappeared.  Again.

Those of us in academia have late spring and summers free, lengthy Christmas breaks and a week free in late winter, the fabled Spring Break, but it's rare to leave work at work when you hop in the car to head home, and you are never really 'off'.  The implication and expectation is that scholarship occupies all of one's time outside the classroom.  There is always stuff you are reading and thinking about, projects you get involved in, stuff to develop during the summers, whiny young adults who feel somehow mistreated when they have not earned top marks for middle-of-the-road to downright mediocre work, etc., etc.  Like any job, I suppose, you have your pluses, and your minuses. 

In any case, I managed to squeeze in a solo skirmish game before things got too busy during September and wrote up an article that appears in the 2019 Wargamers Annual.  That about sums up my hobby activities for the last year until picking up the paintbrush once more after classes ended in early December a few weeks ago.  Never did manage, though, to construct the planned the North German red brick church and a half-timbered warehouse mentioned in my hobby plans for summer back in May.

As is so often the case, day-to-day life here in the Grand Duchy tends to get in the way of free hobby time the last few years.  I have described it in a recent post as "the onslaught of daily life."  Work and family commitments mean that many evenings, I am just bushed by the time 8:30 or 9pm roll around, and all I want to do is crawl into bed for a couple of hours of reading, or mindless binging on whatever Netflix or Amazon series the Grand Duchess and I are enjoying at the moment.  Priorities, I guess.  

Now, lots of wargamers manage to use routine time at the painting table in the evenings to disconnect, wind down, and recharge, but I need a fairly clear head relatively free of work-life concerns even to contemplate sitting down at the painting table.  Hence my lack of grand hobby plans the last couple years.  The same will follow for 2019.  In short, until my work-life balance magically becomes less out of whack, whatever gets done will make me happy. 

For 2019, I'll keep plans and expectations very modest.  Besides a game or two, I'd like to complete another 30-figure cavalry  regiment (two squadrons and small staff) and maybe also get around to constructing that North German church and half-timber warehouse for my collection of tabletop buildings.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed.

But all of this sounds kind of dour at worst and noncommittal at best .  Let's end 2018 on a more optimistic note.  Whatever your hobby plans might include, I wish you prosperity, good fortune, and good health in your real life away from the painting and gaming tables.  Happy New Year Everyone!

-- Stokes

The last of this year's seasonal vintage greetings that seems to imply reasonably good fortune and prosperity.


Paul Robinson said…
Wishing you a great 2019. Looking forward to more of your work.
Wellington Man said…
Happy New Year, Stokes.
It's traditional at this time of year, is it not, to berate oneself about the lack of progress with this or that and to make solemn resolutions to do better in the future. I'd say you're not doing too badly. When I was working my way through a series of temporary university lecturing jobs back in the 90s my hobby output was precisely nil!
Best regards
Michael Mills said…
And a Happy New Year to you too sir!
Happy New Year, Stokes.. your experience is not untypical!
Robbie Rodiss said…
Happy New Year Stokes. Keep on with your posting and painting, there is an almost ethereal quality about your blog which I find very pleasing. So all the best to you and yours.
Ed M said…
Work:Life Balance--message received and understood. Well done to maintain your interesting and informative blog so steadily in 2018 (and up to it). Happy new year and looking forward to 2019 (whatever you may be able to squeeze in).

warpaintjj said…
Happy New Year old chum!
I hope 2019 is what ever you want it to be.

One thing's for sure, it will be what ever you make of it...

Have fun, best wishes for 2019,

Popular posts from this blog

Post-Christmas Excitement by Post. . . and a Brief Review

Can't wait to retire to bed this evening with this new arrival!
Earlier this afternoon, Digby Smith's Armies of the Seven Years War arrived with the mail.  A quick glance through the book -- after wrestling it from its Amazon packaging -- shows it to be chock-a-block with information on the various combatants who partook in the conflict, their uniforms, standards, etc.  While I've been aware of Mr. Smith's book for a couple of years, I only got around to purchasing it with some of Mom and Step-Dad's Christmas gift on December 26th.  I cannot wait to examine it more closely later this evening, and might hit the sack right after supper with some fresh coffee and the book, leaving the Grand Duchess and the Young Master to their own devices for the remainder of evening.  Weeeeeell, maybe not quite that early. . .  but all bets are off by 9 or 10pm!

Thursday, January 4th

I just wrote my first review for on this book.  It reads:

A highly interesting title on the v…

Coffee and Keyboards: Ne'er the Twain Shall Meet. . .

Not my own image, but you immediately grasp the point of today's post.
So there I was.  Saturday morning about 11am.  Still in my pajamas and back down here in Zum Stollenkeller after breakfast upstairs at the dining room table with the Young Master.  I returned to my chair here at the computer, second large mug of fresh French press coffee in hand, meaning to return to typing into my ever evolving mid-18th century rules a revised version of Mark Clayton's morale rules from Miniature Wargames issue #7.

I was about two minutes back into this activity when I reached for said mug of coffee, without really looking at what I was doing, and, of course, it slipped from my grasp.  The contents spilled all over my keyboard, some papers nearby, a box of paperclips, and my non-functioning Swiss pocket watch that I've been meaning to take to the jeweler for repairs.  Needless to say, I turned the air momentarily blue with muttered curses, took the steps upstairs two at a time to retriev…

How I Got Started. . .

Stirring scenes like this one, courtesy of the late Peter Gilder, are largely responsible for the way I go about the wargaming hobby now.  Coincidentally, this is one of three early issues of Miniature Wargames that somehow turned up on the shelves of a hobby shop I frequented as a callow youth during the early 1980s.  I still have the original copies, #6, #7, and #12, although I have since replaced them with 'newer' less well-thumbed copies as I have filled in holes in the collection of hobby print matter.  Finally, I'll go out on a limb here and state that the covers of 'modern' wargaming magazines in current publication are rarely as charming or inspiring.

At its heart, my wargaming hobby stems from and grew out of playing with green, gray, and blue plastic toy soldiers, tanks, etc. as a child during the 1970s.  Probably like many of you  GD of S visitors.  I also have very vague recollections of paging through a Phillip O. Stearns (?) book on model soldiers a…