A centerfold (Relax, boys!). . . one of two late 18th century illustrations from the December 1985 issue of Military Modelling. I purchased three different issues from late '85 or early '86 in a hobby store somewhere near The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium a little later that winter solely for these illustrations. For the next 15 years (15 years!!!), I carted the magazines back to and across the United States until I finally got them into mats and frames during the late summer of 2000. Just about the time I met the fetching Grand Duchess!
Much going on here in The Grand Duchy of Stollen the last several days, getting in the way of painting, but when I finish the house cleaning later today, followed by a bit of gift-wrapping before dinner, I have set aside the evening to apply and wrap up all of those tiny metallic bits and pieces on the 14 horses and riders before calling them done save for the squadron standard. If things go well enough, I'll glue the carbines into place on the troopers of the first red-coated squadron completed last summer and turn my attention to both squadron standards. Can I get everything painted and glossed before 2019? We'll have to see. Keep your fingers and toes crossed!
And where has this sudden bit of extra time this weekend and pre-Christmas burst of energy come from you ask?
Well, The Grand Duchess and Young Master, who finished school for the year yesterday, have gone to Chicago for a 36-hour mother and son trip. Among other planned activities is a visit to the German Kristkindlmarkt on Daley Plaza, where it has been every year since 1996. The Young Master, now nine years old, while he has visited Chicago many times, has never been to the annual Christmas market there, and we thought it might be fun for him and his mother to take the train in, spend the night, and do a few fun things together before returning Sunday evening. The Young Master speaks German pretty well thanks to his mother, so he might even get to use it at one of the food or gift booths manned by German merchants.
Old Ogre Dad (One of my many nicknames around here. Like the late Rodney Dangerfield, boy, I tell ya. . . I get no respect!), in the meantime, is free to take care of several things in advance of Christmas Week plus enjoy a little time to himself, which has been a rare commodity the last few years since our arrival in Michigan.
In other news, it's dark and wintry here today with a dusting of snow on the ground and pleasantly quiet around the neighborhood. Perfect December weather in my book. The house is decorated, the kitchen is stocked, and we have our second Christmas Goose in the refrigerator at The Young Master's request. We had a goose at this time last year, and Paul liked it so much that he suggested, as we enjoyed our Christmas Eve dinner, that we make goose a tradition each year at this time. Good man! That was all we needed to hear. So, a Christmas goose it is. As the song goes, Christmas really is made for children, or the children who reside within us. Hey, I still paint, collect, and play with toy soldiers after all!
I'll be checking back in here and there leading up to Christmas and throughout Christmas Week with a few vintage seasonal illustrations, painting updates, perhaps a long delayed visit from ol' Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II and his man Hives, and maybe a wargaming surprise or two. You just never know.
Although it is still a few days until the festival begins in earnest, allow me to wish any visitors who might drop by the Grand Duchy of Stollen a Merry Christmas if you observe, or simply peace and goodwill to all regardless of race, creed, or religious affiliation. Looking ahead, we could use a lot more peace, good will, civility, and plain old basic decency than has become the accepted norm. It doesn't necessarily look good, but I remain hopeful.