The drawing there of our family treehouse was done by the talented lady who lives next door. She gave it to us as a Christmas present, December 2012.
Going into this half-decade, Nellie is a freshman at Hunter College in Manhattan, Danny is a high school Junior, Mom is gainfully employed as a medical billing specialist, and Dad is dealing with some health issues and cutting back on his writing workload accordingly.
Here are some photographs from these years. Clicking on a picture brings up a bigger version.
|———— 2012 ————|
|One beautiful Saturday in May I took the kids to shoot sporting clays at Lehigh Valley in
Pennsylvania. The place is superbly well arranged, with golf carts to take you from station to station.
There were fifteen of us altogether, shooting in teams of three. Here is Tom Costello, who organized the whole outing (thanks, Tom!) and, seated on the golf cart, my Nellie and a young lady named Mia.
|Here's my team: Tim Bryden, Danny (a few weeks short of 17), and myself. We shot well, scores 53, 64, and 56 respectively out of 100.
Danny actually outscored everyone who came out that day. He seems to be a natural with a shotgun.
It was really a glorious day out. Thanks again to Tom for suggesting and organizing it.
|Rosie with Toby; June 6, 2012.|
|On a trip to Seattle in June, 2012 I went to Lake View cemetery to pay my respects to
an old acquaintance.
My previous visit to the spot was only imaginative. From Chapter 34 of Fire from the Sun:
It may be that these odd inharmonious influences even crossed the mighty Pacific. Early one breezy spring morning the students of a martial-arts school in Tacoma, Washington went to pay respects at Lake View Cemetery in nearby Seattle, in which lies the resting-place of the master Li Xiaolong, known to them by his American name, Bruce Lee. The grave had few visitors now, and the students were astonished to find it invisible beneath a mountain of flowers.
The flowers were made up in various ways: great circular wreaths eight feet across, thick-bordered photographs of the Master set up on easels, Chinese memorial tablets with white characters on black, draped with orchids, chrysanthemums, peonies, carnations, fluttering ribbons of white silk. As well as these formal tributes, flower displays in pots and buckets were set all around in no discernible order, hiding the ground and most of the gravesite from view.
“Must have cost a fortune,” said one of the students, a mechanic in an auto body shop who had given all his free time in the previous five years of his young life to a study of the Master’s techniques. “They would have needed a truck. Christ, where do you get that many flowers?”
“Must have just been done last night,” murmured another. “Look, everything’s fresh.”
In front of the flower mountain were set two black metal tripods, five feet high, each supporting a large perforated metal bowl. The inner surfaces of the bowls were blackened with fire, and inside them, and on the grass around them, and clinging here and there to the flower displays where they had been blown, were charred fragments of hell money, what must have been great masses of hell money—the paper bills printed with an image of Lord Yanwang, Emperor of Hell, that traditionally are burned to honor the dead.
As the wondering boxers stood and stared the wind picked up, stirring the grass and the bare branches of the little park, shifting the charred black flakes of hell money. The carefully-wrought displays above the tomb trembled and shook, some petals and fronds of fern blowing loose to scud to and fro in the restless air. One of the circular wreaths, stacked above a dozen others, taking the full force of a gust, turned a few degrees, then fell, rolling onto open grass away from the tomb, shedding blooms as it rolled.
The wind caught the blooms and loose petals and fern fronds and burned hell money fragments, teased them back and forth for a while among the stone markers of the dead, then sent them dancing off down the hillside to the water, to Portage Bay and the boundless ocean beyond.
Bruce is identified on his tombstone by his original given name, Zhenfan (振藩 — sounds like "return again" in Cantonese). I have never heard Chinese people refer to him by anything other than his stage name, though: Xiaolong (小龍 — "little dragon").
And yes, that's hell money I'm burning in the wee red colander there. Having come all that way to show respect, may as well do the thing properly. You can buy hell money in any Chinatown supermarket, in this case Uwajimaya on Seattle's 5th Avenue.
(I only wish I were still limber enough to hunker properly, heels flat on the ground.)
The companion tombstone, foreground in the picture, marks the last resting place of Brandon Lee, Bruce's son, whom I met when he was seven years old.
|We spent a very pleasant July Sunday at the Long Island home of Milton Yu, who was a college classmate of Rosie's in China, 1979-83
(and one of my students).
Here is a group picture taken at Milton's house. Left to right seated: Milton, Maria Sun, Rosie. Standing: Li Mei (Milton's wife), Mr. Xing (Maria's husband), me. Maria and Mr. Xing were colleagues of mine at Siping Teachers' College, where Milton and Rosie were students. They can be seen in an earlier picture here.
|Milton and me in his pool. You get older, you put on some weight. What can I tell you?|
|Not sure what Rosie's attempting here: some version of the Monroe air vent pose, perhaps. I seem to be enjoying it, anyway.|
|We eventually got her into the pool.|
|In the garden at Milton's house that Sunday, with Danny (Nellie was not with us).|
|Rosie with our friend Sally Pettus (and Toby), in Sally's garden, 7/22/12.|
|September 14, 2012 was the night of Petroushka on the Hudson, a waterborne benefit for the
Russian Children's Welfare Society, and an offshoot of the more formal
The sun had just set over New Jersey when I took this picture of Rosie.
|More Petroushka. Among the distinguished guests was opera superstar Anna Netrebko. I
had never met Ms. Netrebko before. Our conversation went as follows.
JD: I don't get to the opera as much as I'd like, but I did see you in Don Pasquale at the Met four or five years ago, showing off your legs. [We first see the young heroine of the opera alone in her bedroom reading a book. In the Met production, Anna was actually reclining on a small bed, wearing a short, flimsy night-dress that showed her beautiful legs to great advantage. She augmented the effect by lying back and kicking her legs in the air at a couple of points in the aria. That aria is "So anch'io la virtù magica"; there is an actual clip from the Met production here. It was in fact 2010; I don't know what happened to my memory there.]
AN: Yes, I have very nice legs. [She thereupon parted her dress to reveal them.]
JD: Your singing was also not bad.
The ice thus broken, we had a photograph taken in good humor all around. Two weeks later I was in the audience to see Anna sing the role of Adina in the Met's new production of L'Elisir d'Amore. No legs this time, but wonderful singing.
The tie I am wearing, by the way, is the tie of my father's regiment, the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. I wear it now and then in filial piety.
|Danny's high school yearbook picture, taken at the beginning of his senior year, September 2012. Compare and contrast.|
|I enjoyed a very convivial lunch with Jurica Matošević, a friend visiting from the Balkans. It was a new camera, and the waiter who took the picture was uncertain about the exposure setting. That's OK; I actually think it looks quite artsy. I await the jokes about "two shady characters" …|
|The shooting party, December 1st, 2012. Not quite as aristocratic as James
Mason's crowd, but full of the fun & sport of the thing. And this annual shoot is going global, or at least national: Paul, the gent at far left,
actually came up from Florida just to join us.
Danny, with the family shotgun, is at far right. I'm next to him with a side-by-side borrowed from a friend. At center wearing the bandolier is Tom, the mastermind of the event, to whom many thanks for organizing a great day out.
|After the shoot, home to the family carrying a big bag of pheasants, one of which Mom cooked up on the spot.
"Family" increasingly means Dad, Mom, and Toby. Nellie (20) got her own car this week; Danny (17) graduates high school next July & if all goes to plan will then ship straight to Fort Benning.
|The 2012 Christmas picture, perhaps the last before the kids leave home.|
|One more from Christmas, just the kids.|
|Mom & Dad, a few minutes into 2013.|
|In the microculture of the Derbyshire household, custom dictates that
at year end I do a jigsaw puzzle. These are serious
puzzles, nothing picayune — 1,500 pieces at least. I start on Christmas Day and finish in mid-to-late January.
Custom further dictates that when there is just one piece left to place, I summon Danny and intone the ritual words: "Help me out here, please, son. I've almost finished; but there's this one pesky last piece left, and I can't figure out where it goes."
I then hand the piece to Danny and he completes the puzzle.
My end-2012 puzzle was a splendid 2,000-piecer of van Gogh's The Starry Night from Buffalo Games, Inc. of Buffalo, NY. It was tougher than you'd think, but here we are at last on February 1st 2013 carrying out the time-honored ceremony. Now the harvest will be good this year!
(While working on the puzzle I listened to the Hofmann-Sotin-Meier-Levine recording of Parsifal, an opera I did not previously know but would be seeing at the New York Met on March 2nd. I find that a Wagner opera, the first couple of times I hear it, is a uniform blur, any small fragment of which is hard to distinguish from any other. It takes some attention and study to discern the musical structure of the work.
The Starry Night, cut up into 2,000 pieces, is a sort of visual equivalent — every little piece looks just like every other. Studying the painting close up while listening to the opera with attention, was definitely an experience of synesthesia.
Something was going on there in the 1880s …)
|For several months Rosie has been working very happily as a temp at Catholic Health Services of Long Island. She joined in a group photograph with her colleagues on February 1st, 2013.|
|I was invited to speak at the 2013 conference of
American Renaissance, a dissident-conservative group. Here I am with the other speakers. From left to right:
Back row — Fabrice Robert, Sam Dickson, Kyle Rogers of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Byron Roth, Roger McGrath.
Front row — Me, Richard Spencer of Alternative Right, Paul Ramsey, Jared Taylor.
|The conference was held in the very pretty Montgomery Bell State Park, a few miles west of Nashville, Tennessee. Rosie and I went down
a few days early to do some hiking and sightseeing.
Here we are exploring one of the batteries at Fort Donelson, a Civil War battlefield. Note my embonpoint. I tell Rosie it's her fault: her food is just too damn good.
|Rosie at the Hermitage, President Andy Jackson's estate outside Nashville.|