July 2019 Update

After our busy June which included a visit from Holly’s dad and our wonderful trip to Carmel, we had a rather quiet July. The shock of returning home after vacation took a while to wear off (and I’m not sure it even has yet) and the summer took a turn for the hotter which sapped our energy.

We did have two nice outings during the month. We went to our first baseball game of the year to see the Phillies play the Dodgers. Since Holly is from Long Beach, CA, she grew up as a Dodgers’ fan, and I chose them as my “home team” while I was living in Las Vegas. It’s lucky that we both like the Dodgers because they beat the Phillies 16-2.

At least Citizens Bank Park is lovely and has a wealth of food choices so we were still able to enjoy the evening despite the lopsided game.

We also went with my brother to see The Empire Strikes Back with a live performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Holly and I had seen A New Hope in that way last year and were glad that they performed for Empire this year. We were lucky that the big heatwave had passed and it was a reasonably comfortable night to sit outside.

Because of the heat, I did not take many photos during the month. I took a few pictures with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV out our window on nights of an incoming rain storm and of a fabulous sunsets.

A school near us, which we pass everyday on the way to and from work, is in the process of expanding. They’ve recently ripped out the playground where the expansion is going to be built. The expansion is undoubtedly good for the school, but it seems like a couple of murals on the buildings next door might get partially covered up so I took a few photos with my Olympus TG-5 to help preserve the memory.

But that was about it for photos so I’m certainly hoping that the weather starts to cool off a bit so I can get out more often.

The hot and quiet month did mean getting some writing done. I finished another draft of one of the short stories I’ve been working on, and I probably need one more pass at it before it feels done. I outlined another new story idea. I also continued my revisions on my collection of short stories based on the feedback I got from the editor.

The hot and quiet month also meant that I dusted off The Great Courses “How to Draw” class that I had purchased February of 2018. I had started it then and got through about three of the lessons. Since I hadn’t touched it in over a year, I decided just to start over from the beginning. I had been a while since I practiced any drawing so getting back into it felt good.

I took the opportunity to also practice those lessons as a way to continue learning Procreate. One of the great things about Procreate is that it records a time-lapse of a drawing which I find helpful since I can be reminded of what I did and learn from it.

The hot and quiet month also meant a lot of reading. I finished five books during the month. I had started Henry Miller’s Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch while we were on vacation. I had read it a few times before, and it remains one of my favorite Henry Miller books. I wanted to read it because Big Sur, where Miller lived for a while, is not far from Carmel. But I had also been slowly working through a chronological re-read of all of Miller, and that was actually the next book on the list Unbelievably, I started this re-read in 2012 so I have definitely been “slowly working through” his works.

Speaking of re-reading, I returned to a couple other books during the month. Over a dozen years ago, I was in a Masters in English program at Arcadia University. I had taken a creative writing course, and the instructor recommended Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Although it wasn’t required, I was curious so I bought it and read it on my own. That was the sixth edition. I recently found out that a tenth edition had come out and decided to get it. I was curious because I recalled the sixth edition being rather expensive, and the tenth was only about $15. Turned out that the tenth edition does not include any example short stories. The sixth edition has about three dozen short stories arranged to demonstrate the points Burroway made about the writing process. She still does list examples, but apparently including the stories themselves was cost prohibitive. Even without the stories, Writing Fiction is among the best writing books I’ve come across and certainly the lower price makes in much more accessible.

The other book I re-read was John Irving’s The World According to Garp.

We are fortunate to have an excellent used bookstore, Neighborhood Books, around the corner. One day, I took advantage of their buy 3 get 1 free offer and, in addition to Garp, picked up Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and José Saramago’s Blindness.

From Our Latest Trip to Neighborhood Books
From Our Latest Trip to Neighborhood Books

I had been a huge John Irving fan many years ago and had been thinking about re-reading some of his books so I when I saw Garp at Neighborhood Books, I figured now was the time to re-visit Irving. I was concerned that his books were not as good as I remembered them being, but those worries were unfounded. I enjoyed The World According to Garp tremendously and plan on picking up some of his other books. I had read everything up until A Son of the Circus which I recall being disappointed with and never read anything after that.

I also read two books on my Kindle both through the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time was interesting but a little over my head. Emma Cline’s The Girls, which had been on my to read list ever since it came out, lived up to the hype.

July 2019 Reading Update
July 2019 Reading Update

Books Read in 2019

  • The Way the World Ends, Jess Walter (Kindle book)
  • There’s No Place Like Home, Edan Lepucki (Kindle book)
  • Controller, Jesse Kellerman (Kindle book)
  • At the Bottom of New Lake, Sonya Larson (Kindle book)
  • Falls the Shadow, Skip Horack (Kindle book)
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Kindle book)
  • Sabrina, Nick Drnaso (Kindle book)
  • Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (Kindle book)
  • Asymmetry, Lisa Halliday (Kindle book)
  • Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), Jeff Tweedy (Kindle book)
  • Washington Black, Esi Edugyan (Kindle book)
  • Boca Raton, Lauren Groff (Kindle book)
  • The Hillside, Jane Smiley (Kindle book)
  • Ninth Street Women, Mary Gabriel
  • Amaro, Brad Thomas Parsons
  • The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
  • Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel (Library book)
  • Zama, Antonio di Bennedetto
  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, Dani Shapiro (Kindle Book)
  • Educated, Tara Westover (Kindle Book)
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 2: Legacy’s End, Charles Soule (Kindle Book)
  • Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir #1-4, Jeremy Barlow (Kindle Book)
  • Dark Disciple: Star Wars, Christie Golden (Kindle Book)
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 3: The Burning Seas, Charles Soule (Kindle Book)
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 4: Fortress Vader, Charles Soule (Kindle Book)
  • Ahsoka, E.K. Johnston (Kindle Book)
  • Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, Henry Miller
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, Janet Burroway
  • The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli (Kindle Book)
  • The Girls, Emma Cline (Kindle Book)
  • The World According to Garp, John Irving

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2019

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