Between it being winter and the spreading of the Omicron variant, January was a quiet month.
Early in the month, our wonderfully relaxing winter break came to an end. Unlike most Januarys when there are a couple of quiet weeks before the semester begins, we had only 1 week to prepare. Not only that, but I had a new employee start on January 3rd so I was very busy getting her trained and oriented.
I did go to campus on her first day but otherwise have been able to work remotely which I’m still very thankful for. My department was supposed to return to campus on a limited bases toward the end of January, but our library pushed that back until late February since the infection rates have still be high.
That said, in the past few days, the number of new cases has been quick dropping which is, obviously, welcome news. As of this writing, the U.S. is down to “only” 446,000 new cases a day. A couple of weeks ago, we had cross the 800,000 cases threshold.
Despite being vaccinated and boosted, Holly and I have remained cautious, but we’re certainly hoping that by spring things will be a lot better. Combined with better weather, we may take more advantage of getting out to do things.
We also did get out for one nice walk on a cold but very sunny day. It was just a walk in our neighborhood. I didn’t take a lot of photos but had my Olympus TG-5 with me and took a handful, particularly of an energy plant near us.
Other than that, I’ve been trying to get caught up on posts about the film photos I had taken at the end of 2021.
I have only 1 more roll from 2021 to post about. I’m definitely eager for some better weather so I can get out and shoot more.
I drew a little more in January than I had the past few months. I dusted off one of the drawing books I had worked through a few years ago, You Can Draw in 30 Days. At that time, I tried getting through the book in a short period of time. I’m don’t recall if I succeeded in the 30 Days part, but I want to revisit this book and go through it more thoroughly, taking more time with the exercises.
I didn’t get through much of it yet, but it felt good getting back to some drawing.
One of the reasons I didn’t get through much of it is that I got distracted by another drawing project. Holly and I got some new coffee mugs. The box they came in had a simple drawing of a mug which I thought I could replicate. I first did a quick sketch and then played around with my Tombow Duel Brush Pens and my water brushes to add some color.
Once I was satisfied that adding color could enhance the look, I did a more serious attempt.
After that, I tried another version situating one mug behind the other.
As always, I wish I devoted more time to drawing but it seems to be hard to get to given my other hobbies.
For the past couple of years, I noted both the short stories and the books I had read. Doing the former felt a little tedious at times and, given I read at least 1 story a week in The New Yorker, the list got cumbersome.
This year, I’ll just concentrate on the books and only mention particularly notable stories.
Speaking of which, I did read 3 rather interesting stories from The New Yorker this month.
One was Jennifer Egan’s What the Forest Remembers. Not only is it a great story, but it’s also a excerpt from her forthcoming book, The Candy House. I love her novels Look at Me and A Visit from the Good Squad. I enjoyed Manhattan Beach but it didn’t excite me the way those other books had. What’s particularly exciting about this story and the forthcoming novel is that it features some characters from Good Squad so I’m really looking forward to it.
Another story was What’s the Deal, Hummingbird by Arthur Krystal. The main character faces the reality that he remembers very little of his life, which I have found to be an intriguing and unsettling aspect of getting older.
Finally, I really enjoyed Long Distance by Ayşegül Savaş. I had read her Future Selves last year. I liked that story enough that I added her new book, White on White, to my list of books I want to read.
I also finished 3 books in January.
Most years during our winter break, Holly and I re-watch The Lord of the Rings. Winter break feels like the appropriate time since we have significant time off from work and can easily find the 11 hours needed to watch it.
I have read the books several times, but I realized I hadn’t read any of them since the last movie came out in 2003. If I recall correctly, I had read each volume ahead of the movie so it’s been even longer since I read the entire trilogy straight through.
The Lord of the Rings was one of the first books to get me excited about reading so I’ve always enjoyed revisiting it and this time around was no exception. It is very satisfying to read it as if it’s one long book rather than a trilogy. I have a nice one-volume collectors edition which made it easy to read it as 1 long book.
For Christmas, Holly got me Book by They Might Be Giants. I had not even known this existed so was quite surprised when I opened it. It includes a CD (as well as a download option) of new music along with some older songs and new versions of older songs. But the real novelty is the book itself which features the lyrics to the songs typeset with a typewriter by graphic artist Paul Sahre. It also includes photography by Brian Karlsson.
One night, Holly and I just sat and listened to the music following along with the lyrics in the book. It was a pleasant reminder of the “old days” of getting a new album, tape, or cd, and listening to the new music with the liner notes at hand. It’s not something either of us do much of anymore.
The other book I finished in January, was Mel Brooks’ All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business. Enjoyable enough but not particularly insightful. Most of the chapters about his movies talked about how he found his actors, recapped the plots, and related the parts he thought were the funniest.
Reading it did lead me to re-watching some of his movies, so there was that.
Books Read in 2022
- The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
- Book, They Might Be Giants, Paul Sahre, Brian Karlsson
- All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, Mel Brooks