Thursday, March 11, 2021

One Year Ago Today


My last wargame, played on Saturday March 7, 2020

One year ago today, the world seemed to shut down as it dawned on everyone that the COVID-19 virus was in fact a pandemic. NBC News asked viewers to look for the last photograph that they had on their smart phone before the Covid pandemic took hold. The above picture shows our group playing a wargame on Saturday March 7, 2020.

I remember coming to this realization when the NBA shut down its basketball schedule, including stopping one game that was in progress. Oh, oh, I thought. This is going to get bad. I'd better get to the grocery store and lay in some stores of food for the long haul.

Apparently other people had the same thought. When I arrived at the local Jewel grocery store the parking lot was packed with cars even though it was only 2PM in the afternoon. I filled up my shopping cart with frozen entrees, pizza, canned soup, bottles of water, and bleach. The toilet tissue and paper towels were nearly cleaned out by shoppers. The hoarding had started.

The next day, the paper towels and toilet tissue were gone from the local grocery store.

Masks were nearly impossible to find. I visited the local Ace Hardware store and the manager had a stash of N-95 masks that he was doling out - only 4 per customer. I think that I paid $20 for just four masks. I also bought the last bottle of hand sanitizer that was on the shelf. 

One by one, the various professional sports leagues were following suit with the NBA and either cancelling their seasons or putting them on hold. The NCAA announced that it was cancelling the March Madness College Basketball tournament. Yikes!!!!!

How we got through a year of the pandemic.

Apparently lots of people bought puppies or other pets over the course of the pandemic lockdown. We had rescued our dog Augie ( a Lab mix) from the local animal shelter back in February, so we were ahead of the curve on that one. We actual adopted Augie to replace our Golden Retrieve Tiberius, who had died from cancer in February.

Our new dog Augie

In order to relieve boredom, we started to bake things in the kitchen. My daughter Lelia and I made Civil War hard tack (inedible) and apple fritters from a Colonial Williamsburg recipe book.

We cooked and baked.

We had a formal afternoon tea once a week.

With all of my spare time (spare?) I embarked on a new war gaming project, using 54mm plastic toy soldiers to recreate the Sudan Wars and the Gordon Relief Expedition in the mid 1880s.

The new wargame project: 54mm Sudan War

I taught myself how to make 54mm terrain to go with my new toy soldiers.
This is a preview of a game that I hope to take to the convention circuit in 2022.

My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
We were going to go on a cruise down the Elbe River, but that got cancelled, obviously , and we celebrated at home.

Lelia took up painting during the pandemic and a local art gallery asked her
to  do a showing of her work in their studio. She even sold some of her paintings.

More afternoon teas.

We got another dog in October, a Golden Retriever puppy named Bella.

We had a presidential election in the USA. It seemed to go on forever.

We rediscovered having picnics in the countryside.

We kept our sense of humor. What else can one do? This was Thanksgiving Day
without any relatives at our home.

We celebrated Christmas and decorated the house for the holiday.

Augie and Bella had fun opening all of the Christmas presents.

We had no appreciable snow until February, and then it came down and down and down.
Almost two feet of snow over the course of a week.

Vaccines were available in February, but we couldn't get appointments.
It was frustrating and depressing. We sought out comfort food.
One night I just said "eff it, I'm going to the all night Walgreens and gettin' me some sugar!"

Our dogs Bella and Augie provided all the love and kisses that we needed to keep us in a positive frame of mind.

My wife and daughter finally got their first shots of the Moderna vaccine two weeks ago. I received my shot this week. Getting the vaccine does wonders for our frame of mind and gives us a sense of hope and that this is all going to end. Soon? I don't know, but I'm sure that things will never be the same.

As of today, over 530,000 Americans have died from the Covid virus. It was not a good year for the families of the people that we lost and there is no way that I can think that any good will come of this.


  1. I really enjoyed your photos of this past year. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    1. Thank you Alan. I should have mentioned the VWC too.

  2. An exceptional (and very full) year which you have made the most of - thank you for sharing it with us in picture form. Many best wishes to you all for the year to come.

  3. Great selection of photos of a very difficult year .

  4. A wonderful selection of photos documenting a most unusual - and hopefully unique - year. As your photos show, it was what we made of it. Puppies, picnics, an art exhibition....a good year, really.

    Thank you for sharing,


  5. A sobering résumé of life through the pandemic which mirrors most of our experiences on both sides of the pond, snow thankfully excepted.

    1. Snow isn’t so bad if you embrace it and try to have fun with it. For example, playing in the snow with our dogs and enjoying their enjoyment of the snow.😀

  6. Formal teas, picnics, and pups! Looks like all of you have made the best of an otherwise difficult year, Jim. And made some special moments nevertheless.

    Best Regards,


  7. Glad to see you coming out of the last year intact.

    (Hi, lurker here. Have been following your blog for a while and bought several Charles Grant books on the strength of your reviews. Playing solo but looking forward to trying some scenarios with my regular group once this is over!)

    1. I’m glad to hear from you. Maybe I should do a post about how I solo game.

  8. Best wishes to you and yours Jim. Quite a poignant summary - but the good times outweigh the bad...and you have some lovely new toys too!

  9. Every time I look at your 54 mm Sudan stuff I want to drag out my dvds of The Four Feathers and Khartoum. Very cool!

    I hope you do post about how you solo game.

    Regards, John