Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas at Schloss Fritz

The family Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas everyone from Der Alte Fritz and all of his family in Hesse Seewald. It was truly an exciting day full of surprises -- and not all of them good ones. The day started bright and early at 8 AM as Lady Emma Cuddlestone-Smythe rousted everyone out of bed for the ceremonial ripping open of the packages. She was quite happy with her haul of electronic gadgets (digital camera and photo frame), music CDs and clothes. Mrs Fritz was surprised to find a new iPhone under the old Tannenbaum so she was very happy with her Christmas.

We had a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and waffles as my Mom joined us for breakfast at the old castle. Then I scrambled down to the basement to apply the finishing touches to some 1806 dragoons for my game tomorrow.

No sooner had a finished the figures and placed them on the wargame table, I turned around and noticed that the carpet behind me was turning a dark grey in color. What could that be? I wondered. It turned out to be water, and lots of it. The sump pump had failed and after all of the rain that we had overnight, the ground was saturated and water was seeping into the basement at an ever growing rate.

I donned my pair of Wellies and went to work, moving things off of the floor and out of harms way. Fortunately, I had moved most of my wargame items into the adjacent part of the basement for our game tomorrow. My normal smaller area holds a 6ft by 12ft table, but I needed Lady Emma's larger side of the basement for the Napoleonic game (a 6ft by 17ft table). Had we not scheduled the game, then most of my terrain would have been sitting on the floor getting wet.

A view of one of the towns that we will fight over.

A long view of the 17ft long wargame table that we will be playing on tomorrow. Prussian dragoons and cuirassiers, circa 1806 are seen in the foreground.

A regiment of the 12e de Ligne (two battalions of 72 figures) arrive on the new table, ready for the pending battle. Baden jagers cover their flank. The obligatory wind mill, by Ian Weekly, crowns the hill in the background.

I fired up the shop vac and quickly filled up the 16 gallon container. Guess what? 16 gallons of water weighs a ton. So I had to empty the shop vac using buckets, and then hauling the buckets upstairs so that I could empty the water outside. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fritz was calling every plumber in the phone book while I bailed water. Then my back went out of wack. The pain was severe.

We were supposed to go to my Sister in Law's house for Christmas dinner, but I couldn't leave the house with water seeping in from under the foundation. So everyone brought all of the food, some more shop vacs, and extra buckets and the whole extended family came to our house for Christmas dinner. My brother in law pitched in, as did my nephew Keith, and then finally the plumber arrived. He found that the main AND the backup sump pump were burned out. So he replaced them and with everything working the way that it was supposed to work, the water slowed down to a trickle, and then finally stopped altogether. And my back was killing me.

At last, we could relax and have our Christmas dinner. Afterwords, we opened packages and presents that we had given one another. It was great seeing the whole house full of family and everyone having a good time. That is what Christmas is all about to me: being with your family and remembering how grateful you are about all of the good things in life.

It was a memorable Christmas in many ways, one that I'm sure that I won't ever forget. Oh, and the basement seems to be OK and I'm drying things out with fans and dehumidifiers, and the game shall go on tomorrow.


  1. Npw there's a Christmas that'll be remembered. I'm glad you seem to have weathered it. TG you had reason to go down to the basement!
    Hope the Boxing Day game goes well and wish you a happy and prosperous & dry New Year.

  2. All of Beerstein wishes you a Merry Christmas and is deeply disturbed by the flooding in Hesse-Seewald. We hope your gaming improves your morale...

  3. Sorry to hear about the flooding. I hope there is no lasting damage either to your good self or to the house.
    Have a good game tomorrow.

    All the best for 2010

    Duke of Baylen

  4. Seems like Christmas Day was not a good day for basements! It's good you got it sorted and had a reasonably good day with family after all!

  5. That is what it's all about. Family & friends helping and enjoying themselves. I trust several glasses were raised in honour of the help received.

    Merry Christmas.

  6. Glad everything was finally rescued and that your Christmas ended on a positive note.

    Remember the old saying "a pint's a pound the world round"? Well that means that a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs and so 16 gallons weighs 128 pound (plus the weight of whatever contains it).

    Might you consider "duckboards" under your terrain in the future? I'd hate to think of it getting ruined.

    I hope that the new year is an improvement.

    -- Jeff

  7. I trust things move forward for you all soon.