Saturday, December 29, 2007

Family Christmas and A Happy New Year

We were able to get our Chrismas celebrations accomplished, but not without some gerrymandering. Our son was delayed a day because of high winds and drifting snow in the Minneapolis-Quad Cities corridor. Then because of another potential storm we moved our travel to Cedar Rapids up a day. After a pleasant over-nite we popped back onto the road to get back home before more snow on Thursday night and Friday morning.

By noon Friday we were cleared up and anxiously scanning the skies to see what the New Year had in store. So far so good. 2008 looks like it will make a fairly mild entry. In it we will resolve to try and keep up this blog even though the general figures seem to point out that most people don't manage to do that. The figures also note that by and large the only person who reads a blog is the blogger's mother. With Mom long passed on that doesn't leave much of an audience.

So Happy New Year to me! ---And to anyone else who stumbles upon this digital domicile.

For the Christmas memories that are worth a thousand words just scroll down.

A happy family assembled makes the winter warmer by several degrees.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas to All

From our house to yours

There was another thundering jeremiad against Christmas letters in last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. Don’t use the “I” word; don’t go over one page because your life isn’t worth more than 500 words; don’t brag incessantly about how bright your kids are or how many five star hotels have hosted you on your multiple round-the-world travels. In spite of those admonitions my name is “Perseverance.” So don’t read what follows if you don’t want to, but I will warn you, that somewhere in the midst of the story about my nephew’s rise to the papacy (which is quite an accomplishment since he is not even Catholic) I will mention the names and addresses of some people who do write crummy Christmas letters. If you want to know if your letter made the list, you will have to read this missive to the bitter end.

Now we plunge on into the ever so different world that we seem to be living in. How do I know it is a different world? I know because some anonymous wordsmiths on the internet told me that: YOU KNOW YOU ARE LIVING IN A DIFFERENT WORLD WHEN:

You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
You leave the house without your cell phone (which you didn't have the first sixty years of your life) and immediately have a panic attack. You are doubly a slave to that new world if you go back and get it. Or if you get up in the morning and go on-line before getting your coffee. Ouch! That one hurts.

In spite of the need to pay constant attention to the ever encroaching cyber-world, we did take a few trips last year. In February we visited Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a most congenial Elderhostel group. It included a magnificent train ride up into the mountains and a stay at a fairy tale hotel virtually clinging to the side of the canyon.

The Copper Canyon is the true Grand Canyon of North America as it is deeper and longer than that piker in Arizona.

A summer trip took us down the Mississippi to New Orleans for the convention of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. On the way we managed stops in Cahokia Mounds, Natchez, and Vicksburg. The Big Easy was the runaway hit. In spite of the still all too visible hurricane heartache, it charms the socks off you with its music, architecture, and especially the food. Yum, yum! Gumbo come!

Our final big trip was a truly satisfying week in London over Thanksgiving. We took TJ (our eleven year old grandson) and his mom (daughter Amy) along.

(TJ looking down from a London Eye capsule)

TJ had never even flown before and Amy had not been back to London since she was thirteen in 1980. What a joy to share this experience and to collect their hugs and smiles and thanks. We’ve never quite understood folks who send their heirs on trips after they’re gone.

Beyond that we seem to do pretty much the same things. We played a lot of golf badly on our local course. We like to go out early and walk nine holes, then go down to the local library to read the paper and see what’s new with the changing contingent of friends who wander in and by. Since Jan is still on the library board (though no longer president), she can check in on how things are going. I usually pop over to the Buchanan Center for the Arts next door, and do my own checking. Buchanan has needed a lot of attention in the last few months as we lost our Executive director to a sudden and fatal heart attack at the end of September. He was just fifty four years old and it caused me to reflect on the eleven years of grace I have had since my own heart surgery in 1995.

Again no real changes on the family side of the equation. Amy and Todd are still in the Cedar Rapids, IA area and TJ is in the 6th grade and Mikel in kindergarten. David remains in Minneapolis working for Honeywell (He’ll be joining us for Christmas) and claims that his music site ( ) is pretty much running itself now days. He has taken more interest in drama and has been introducing some play reviews to the site.

Here are a few quick hits to finish this off. Our good friend Stacy Cordery of Monmouth College’s history department has published an extremely well reviewed biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth titled Alice. We recommend it to you highly. We also had a nice visit with a Monmouth College graduate and well known children’s book author Jane Kurtz. She has been working on book projects for Ethiopian children and Jan was successful in getting a local church to contribute. Our son David has edited a book titled The Runes: A Human Journey for a friend of his named Kari Tauring. Seems as though this may be the Chinese “Year of the Book” as everything seems to be related to reading. One final recommendation would be Tom Brokaw’s Boom!. It parallels our lives and provides a fascinating journey through the events that made us and our country the place it is today.

It also prompts me to hope in the words of my two favorite angels, Hark and Harold, that there may still be “peace on earth and mercy mild” someplace in our future. With a bit of luck one of those places will be in your home and with your family. We wish you a joyous holiday season and
truthfully we like nothing better than to read your notes and Christmas letters as they arrive. Whether they recount trials, tribulations, or triumphs, they are the cords that tie us together. They narrow the distance between us, they make us smile, and they make us think of you.

(Oxford Street in London Nov. 2007 Taken from the top of a double-decker bus)

With love and peace,
Jim and Jan De Young

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Winter Overtakes Monmouth, IL

It wasn't much snow, but coupled with just the right amount of freezing rain a gorgeous coat of frost developed on all the trees in town. The local country club seemed to be particularly magnificent.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The London Bus New and Old

Now take a ride down Oxford Street at Christmas time

After a while it's just one big pop art blast.

Wouldn't you know? My grandson loved riding the London buses. No tube for him when the top of a doubledecker was available. And I found out that you can shoot some wild photos from that front seat.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some London Faces

A Pearly King was out raising money for Christmas Charities

One of the new female Yeoman Warders was greeting folks at the Tower of London

I'm not sure a "no face" belongs in series of faces, but someone was under there somewhere and they were shilling for shillings on the South Bank.

This young man is driving a computerized mockup of a tube train at the London Transport Museum. In talking to him we discovered that he was a real tube train driver. He said to me, "That's daft for you. I drive one of these things six days a week, and here I am on my day off."

The woman above was selling scarves and cloth in a stall at the market in the churchyard of St. James Picadilly.

On Sundays the faces belong to the soap box orators at Speakers Corner near Marble Arch.

The Covent Garden Market is full of street entertainers like this juggler and unicycle rider. They never fail to captivate the kids.

This one is a honey.

I thought this young lady looked a bit like a young Hermione from the Harry Potter films.

And if this one doesn't strike a chord as a Harry, nobody does. Here's to the rosy cheeks of a London November. Cheers!

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Few Pictures in Lieu of Words

Have finally got the most recent London pictures narrowed down to about 500. More will turn up on Flickr in the next week or so, but for now we'll just give you a dose of London in small packages. First up will be a few more arty night shots and a wish for a Happy Christmas direct from Oxford Street and the tippy top of a double decker bus. Cheers!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Back Again

Had no intention of deserting the blog for so long, but what can you say. In the interim the Monmouth College Buchanan Center "Christmas Carol" production has come and gone. And in the interim we have taken our grandson and daughter to London for a Thanksgiving break. Going through some of the 500 or so pictures has been one of the little chores that has kept me from posting. But now we are ready and you can expect to see some shots from a glorious week. We will start with two of the more traditional ones. The happy group at the Tower Bridge and a few other bridges from the top of the London Eye.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There is nothing that captures the mood of the season as nicely as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Monmouth College and the Buchanan Center for the Arts are sponsoring this year’s production in the Wells Theatre and it features a cast of some fifty college students and townspeople. Public performances will take place on Thursday and Friday, November 29th at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 1st at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm.

Tickets are available now at the Buchanan Center during regular business hours or by phone at 734-5529. Special rates are available for families and senior citizens.

The production will be directed by Dr. Bill Wallace of the MC Theatre Department and designed by Prof. Doug Rankin. The leading role of Scrooge will be played this year by Monmouth College student, Trevor Newton. Bob Cratchet is played by Brian Wilcoxon and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Years to Come and Jacob Marley are being performed by Kristin Larson, Laurel Jane Buckley, Valerie Key, and Jeffrey Cervantez. The role of Tiny Tim will be alternated by Patrick Johnson and Connor Larson.

Other cast members include Nick Mainz, Ricky Ray, Mike Young, John Snowdon, Gareth Cordery, Brian Blanks, Eric Enge, James Purtle, Mike Diamond, Jacob Jennett, Ross Plunkett, Aubrey Moon, Ashley Musser, Paige Halpin, Cecilia Fasano, Amanda White, Breanna Shea, Joelle Shea, Alyssa Shea, William Purtle, Jane Easterly, Emma Willhardt, Haley Johnston, Amanda Mines, Rachel Hawk, Samantha Fisher, Jane Fisher, Maggie Bell, Mackenzie Clawson,
Shannon Chase, Elizabeth DeMotte, Kate Drost, Sara K. Youngs, Ellen Ehrenhart, Adrienne Schultz, Maci Bryan, Rachael Nuckles, Kathy Mainz, Kathy Good, Rissa Inman, Kaeli Shelton, Madison Benge. Macy Benge, Alison Coulter, Bekah Mc Combs, Jamie Weiss, Jason Lim, and Morgan Williams.

As the Wells Theatre has only 200 seats, you are encouraged to get your tickets early.