The artwork here is a plate made by my friend the painter, photographer, and potter Peter Pettus. I have taken the picture from Peter's 2006 book Continental Drift, where the plate is described as "glazed with matte white and iron, 'Temmoku' glazes, 14.5 inches diameter."
In 2017 we are empty nesters, Nellie living independently and Danny coming to the end of his four-year enlistment in the U.S. Army. I have cut back my workload to a weekly podcast and a monthly diary at VDARE.com, supplemented by occasional articles and book reviews for print outlets. Rosie is gainfully employed as a Medical Billing specialist.
Here are some photographs from these years. Clicking on a picture brings up a bigger version.
|———— 2017 ————|
|• March 4th 2017: After all the anti-Trump negativity of the President's first weeks, his supporters nationwide thought we should make some demonstrations of support. Here I am participating in the local "March 4 Trump" demo at Hauppauge, NY. It was a bitterly cold day, but spirits were high.|
|• April 12th: Springtime! The peach blossoms are out in the back garden, and so is Rosie.|
|• Peter and Sally Pettus put on a joint exhibition of their work in Manhattan. Here's Rosie with one of Peter's plates, similar to the one at the head of this page. The picture on the wall is one of Sally's.|
|• Man and dog, on or about my 72nd birthday.
The secret of life is knowing how to relax.
|• Yet another 9,000-piecer, this one of Hieronymous Bosch's
Earthly Delights. A worthy challenge: many thanks to the friend who gifted me this puzzle.
(For higher resolution, click on the little picture at left. For really high resolution, click here. And as always, there is one last piece I just can't place. It'll have to wait until Danny comes home.)
|• At the end of July I addressed the American Renaissance annual conference in Tennessee. Here I am in full rhetorical flight.|
|• We (Dad, Mom, and Toby) spent a week driving down to the conference in a rented RV. We drove through the Great Smoky Mountains; which, on a rainy humid day in midsummer, lived up to their name.|
|• In accordance with the Chinese idiom 上山下海 ("[going] up the mountain and down to the sea" = putting a lot of effort into something), we spent the last day of our trip in Seaside Heights, on the Jersey Shore, where we had fun in the surf.|
|• There was a brief heatwave in late September 2017. We took the last chance for some beach time at Sunken Meadow Park.|
|• The family Christmas picture, with Nellie's guy Mike at left.|
|———— 2018 ————|
|• January 2018: The ceremonial completing of the puzzle.|
|• My home-improvement project
last October was to fix up the downstairs of my stand-alone garage. I finished
this just before Danny came home from the Army. When he saw that big clear space all neat and fresh-painted, he said: "Let's make a
So we did. Here's the gym, photographed April 2018.
|• A closer look. Yes, I need a new bench.|
|• Mid-June 2018 Mr and Mrs spent a weekend in the Poconos.|
|• Dad, aged 73 and one week.|
|• July 1st 2018 I was invited to lunch by a group of Bruce Lee fans at Angela Mao's Chinese restaurant in Queens. We
took photographs, including this one in which we tried to re-stage
a scene from the movie.
I am the only original cast member here; the other two guys from the movie could not attend the lunch. Standing in for them: at left, Hector Martinez; at right, Thierry Drean. Thierry is visiting from France, and it was he who organized the event.
|• Same event. Left to right: Matthew Polly, whose biography of Lee just came out, Hector again, Thierry again, me again, and "Spider" Rodriguez, who teaches both martial arts and dance in Washington Heights.|
|• At the end of August 2018 we lost Toby, our faithful companion for ten years. We laid the little fellow to rest in the shade of the trees in our back yard, next to Boris.|
|• At the beginning of December 2018 we took a five-day winter break in Cancún, Mexico. There was much lounging on the beach and by the hotel pool, but one day we took a tour to the ruins of Chichen Itza, a Mayan city. Here am I with the Kukulcán pyramid.|
|• The wet T-shirt picture! Same trip, another day. We had fun at
the Xplor adventure park just south of Playa del Carmen, 35 miles from Cancún on
the road to Tulum. A lot of the park is in a natural cave system underground, so here we are among the stalactites.
(The caves have water running through them with associated activities you can engage in — rafting, hammock splash, etc. Hence the wet T-shirt.)
|• The family Christmas picture, 2018. The dog belongs to Mike, Nellie's boyfriend. This was actually the first Christmas ever in Huntington — i.e. since we moved here in 1992 — that we had no family dog.|
|———— 2019 ————|
|• Spring 2019: Our dear friend Elizabeth Cockey, an accomplished artist, painted portraits of Rosie …|
|• … and myself.|
|• To start off the summer of 2019 we took a road trip to the frozen north: Toronto …|
|• … and Montreal, seen here from up on Mount Royal.|
|• Our beautiful children. This was at a restaurant dinner for Danny's 24th birthday.|
|• Rosie and I spent most of September 2019 in China, visiting with her relatives and former classmates. Here we are in Peking's Beihai Park, the White Stupa in the background.|
|• Still in Peking: the Derbs with some of Rosie's family. Left to right: Rosie's cousin (grandson of her mother's sister), his wife, Rosie's uncle, Rosie's aunt (a different sister of Rosie's mother), Elsa (hi, Elsa!), Rosie, me, Rosie's cousin's wife, Rosie's cousin (son of uncle & aunt). Elsa is the daughter of the last two.|
|• We took a trip up to Siping in northeast China. It was at the Siping teachers' college that Rosie and I first met,
when I was teaching English there in 1982-3. Neither of us had been back to Siping since, so we were returning after a 36-year interval.
This was at the suggestion of Geoffrey Zhang, one of my students back then, now himself a professor at the college.
The teachers' college, which had around a thousand students when I taught there, is now Jilin Normal University, with nearly thirty thousand students. The university president, Yang Jinghai, showed us great courtesy, taking time from his busy schedule to walk us around the campus and stand us an excellent lunch. He even had name plates made up for us (we have kept them). Thank you, Sir.
← Here is President Yang at the lunch with Geoffrey (at far left), myself, and Rosie.
The college has of course many, many new buildings. The old ones, though — the ones we remembered from 1982-3 — are still there, much renovated. I located my old office, with the fatal window; and we performed a light-hearted re-enactment of my meeting with Rosie on July 7th, 1983, to much mirth from our companions. The couch is new, but in the same position as the original.
However, my old bedroom in the students' dormitory building was locked. It seems to be used just for storage.
(Some of these pictures were taken by Prof. Zhang Caoyang, to whom many thanks.)
|• At our hotel in Suzhou with Chiqian, Rosie's nephew.|
|• From Suzhou to Hangzhou, where another old student of mine (= classmate of Rosie's) has a senior administrative position.|
|• Hangzhou has a famous beauty spot, West Lake. We circumambulated it — about six miles. I was feeling under the weather, though. The words behind my smile here say: "Are we there yet?"|
|• On to Chongqing. Rosie attended middle school here, graduating in 1976. Several of her old classmates threw a banquet for us.|
|• Last stop, Zhuhai. Here we are inspecting the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge/tunnel with my old Siping colleague David Wang. For a much younger David, see here.|
|• Another old friend from Siping days, Xiaolong Li (a.k.a. Bruce, in the checked shirt) now lives in Hong Kong. He came over to join David in hosting us. Many thanks to both for all their time and trouble. For a much younger Xiaolong, see here.|
|• Back to the U.S.A. in time for the fall colors, here staying with friends in upstate New York.|
|• The family Christmas picture, 2019. Note the presence of Basil, just three months and two days old. Apparently red-eye correction doesn't work with puppies.|
|———— 2020 ————|
|• At the end of May we broke quarantine to visit friends in Maryland. Basil came along, of course.|
|• The man at 75¼. Onwards and upwards.|
|• Early October: Our best fall purchase so far has been a proper fire pit. We had made do for 28 years with
a rough crater edged with stones.
We are now enjoying the pleasures, on a cool fall evening, of sitting in the open by the fire pit eating moon-cakes (October 1st was mid-autumn festival), drinking wine, and roasting s'mores. Basil is helping … in his own way.
|• I can roast s'mores, too. The wall at top right is the back of our garage
Note the garden hose ready to hand, just in case of accidents. I'd hate to lose the garage
|• December 2nd 2020, visiting the VDARE castle at Berkeley Springs , West Virginia.|
|• Yep, it's a real castle ….|
|• … with a splendid dining hall. (Lydia at far end of table, Peter's foot visible at near end.)|
|• An old friend gifted me a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Van Gogh's Pink Peach Tree. Enacting our time-honored ritual, Danny placed the last piece, ensuring a good harvest in 2021.|
|• Man, dog, jigsaw puzzle.|
|• The Christmas picture. I told them it needed flash …|
|• Dad and Basil, a few minutes into 2021, EST.|
|• For New Year 2021 an old friend gifted me, as a challenge, a jigsaw puzzle advertised as
The World's Most Difficult. It has the same image front
and back, offset ninety degrees from each other.
It wasn't actually that difficult once I'd worked out some basic math. Running up one of the diagonals are pieces each of which is the same (approximately) on both sides. The other pieces can be sorted into pairs. In each pair, the A side of one is the B side of the other (approximately), and vice versa. These pieces go into place symmetrically on opposite sides of that diagonal, one showing its A side and one its B.
Once you've got that figured out, it's more or less a regular puzzle.
In the immemorial custom of the Derb household, Danny placed the past piece.
|• End of March 2021, time for Spring cleaning! First target: the home gym we've set up in our garage.|
|• Rosie, Basil, daffodils.|
|• Rosie, Basil, rhododendron.|
|• On May 16th 2021 we were baptized at Huntington Baptist Church. This was full immersion; in the picture, our hair is still wet. Nellie and Danny presented us with flowers when we emerged.|
|• August 6th 2021: our 35th wedding anniversary. Nellie and Danny took us to dinner at Harbor Mist restaurant in Cold Spring Harbor. The 35th, I'm told, is the Coral Wedding; I bought Rosie a pretty coral tchotchke from Pottery Barn.|
|• Same event, Dad and Mom at the little waterfront park outside the restaurant.|
|• And yet again, looking out across the harbor. It was a lovely evening.
Next up: the Ruby Wedding in 2026. Ruby? Tchotchkes won't cut it, I'll have to buy jewelry.
|• For the last weekend in September 2021 we took a short vacation. First we drove out to eastern Long Island. Here I am sampling the delights of the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in the Hamptons.|
|• Thence to the LongHouse Reserve, a bit further east. This was the estate of the late
Jack Larsen (1927-2020), textile designer and art collector. The
gardens are beautiful, and full of curious artworks.
Here are Mr & Mrs in front of Will Ryman's 2019 piece The LongHouse 6. NB: Mrs Derbyshire's Chinese given name translates as "red rose."
|• In the northeast corner of the gardens is a circular amphitheater fifty yards across. On display here was Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's 2010 bronze creation Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, with one head per animal of the traditional Chinese zodiac. My birth year belongs to the Rooster.|
|• From the far eastern end of Long Island we took the ferry to Block Island. There we rented bicycles and went a-touring. The first day, September 24th, we explored the southern part of the island. Here is the Mrs at Mohegan Bluffs.|
|• At the Southeast Lighthouse.|
|• Next day, the 25th, we did the north of the island. On the spit of sand at the very northernmost tip we
encountered … seals!
(That's the Rhode Island shore on the horizon.)
|• In November Danny graduated with his bachelor's degree from Adelphi University. Well done, son!|
|• Late November 2021, the back lawn covered with leaves. Rosie follows some gardening website which preaches that
instead of raking or blowing the leaves off your lawns, you should mow them in as mulch.
So there is some poor shlub in the background mowing leaves, the picture taken from our dining-room through leaves of milady's maple tree, brought in to decorate the dinner-table.
|• The Christmas 2021 picture: Nellie, Mom, Dad, Danny. Front row: Basil, Margot (Nellie's dog).|
|• Supplementary, same event: Dad with Basil.|
|• For New Year's Eve 2021 Dad and Mom took in dinner and a show at a nearby comedy club. Here am I, still sober.|
|• Somewhat later.|