Philly Sunset

November 2020 Update

posted in: Drawing, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

November began the way October ended as Holly and I enjoyed the last day of Staycation and the Philadelphia Film Festival. We finished the festival by watching The Big Hit, which I noted as among my favorites of the festival in my October 2020 Update, and the Documentary Shorts program. Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible was my favorite.

After the Film Festival ended, we’ve been able to keep ourselves entertained with the new seasons of The Mandalorian and His Dark Materials. I’ve found the former just so-so but have enjoyed the latter quite a bit. We’ve also jumped on The Queen’s Gambit bandwagon and have loved the first few episodes.

We found another source of self-isolation entertainment in the weekly broadcasts from the Philadelphia Orchestra. We’ve enjoyed living so close to the Kimmel Center and being able to take the short walk to see the orchestra. We didn’t do it very often since tickets can be pricey, but we have missed those occasional outings during the pandemic. Although watching them online isn’t the same as being there live, the performances have been great and a welcome addition. And the online performances are a lot cheaper so we’ve been able to see many more performances than we would have been otherwise.

The November program featured:

  • November 5: George Walker’s Lyric for Stings and Antonín Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings
  • November 12: Alexander Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra (both with Branford Marsalis) and Dvořák’s Serenade for Winds
  • November 19: Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (with Gil Shaham)
  • November 25: Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1

Another source of entertainment was trying a few different Thanksgiving sandwiches. We’ve done something similar in the past, but this year was the best because of working from home and being able to order out.

We tried 5 different sandwiches, all were excellent in their own way:

Speaking of Thanksgiving, our day was quiet and nice. We enjoy cooking together so any excuse to spend a good portion of the day doing so is welcome. Since it was just the two of us, we opted for a turkey leg rather than a whole turkey. Not sure it’s even possible to get a whole turkey that’s not way too big for 2 people. We ended up getting 3 meals out of 1 leg and still have another in the freezer!

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for just us wasn’t too different than usual. In the past, Holly and I would have one Thanksgiving dinner with my family and one for just us. We haven’t developed a new tradition since my mom died at the end of 2017. Two years ago, we traveled with my brother to Montreal. Last year, the three of us went out to dinner.

Of course, the big news from the month was the Biden and Harris victory. As expected, the winner was not clear on Election night. By the weekend, nothing had been announced. We didn’t expect anything to happen over the weekend so we weren’t paying much attention to the news.

We were sitting at home with our windows open and suddenly herd horns beeping and people cheering and knew what had happened. The city exploded with joy and took great pride in being the city that decided the outcome of Pennsylvania and therefore the nation election (whether or not that was true). Philadelphia also took great job in being the home of the infamous Four Seasons Total Landscaping fiasco.


Photography

I already posted about 3 of my photo adventures in November:

As of this writing, I still have 2 developed rolls that I may post about and 3 waiting to be developed.

In addition to what I’ve already posted, I did take more photos with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. I took a few photos of a fantastic sunset one night.

On the Saturday when the Biden/Harris victory was announced, we went for a walk. Although we were hoping to see some of the celebrating, we didn’t want to go anywhere too crowded so ended up not witnessing any of the celebrations but took a nice walk through our neighborhood and along the Schuylkill Banks.

The Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
The Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Reflection
Reflection

I also took some photos out our window trying to capture more autumn color.


Drawing and Graphic Design

I finished the Illustrator 2020 Essential Training tutorial I had been working on. I followed up on that by watching a couple of tutorials on YouTube explicitly about using the pen tool and worked on some exercises provided by one of those. I still can’t get comfortable using the pen tool, and it’s one of the Illustrator tools I think I might find useful. I know I need to just keep practicing although I’m feeling somewhat discouraged by my lack of facility with it.

I also drew a bit during the month, practicing some exercises from Drawing for the Absolute Beginner.


Writing

As with most of the year, a lot of my focus in November was dedicated to this blog, although I wasn’t as attentive to it as I had been the previous few months. The change of clocks and the early darkness has sapped a lot of my energy and enthusiasm.

I posted here 4 times during the months which adds up to 57 posts for the year. Last year, I posted only 20 times.

I had 460 site visits which is the second highest month of the year.

I haven’t been working on much else recently. I’m hoping my upcoming winter break will reinvigorate me. Work has been busy and draining, and, as I mentioned, losing daylight has taken some toll.


Reading

Short Stories

I continued reading some short stories in The Story and Its Writer. I finished Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (not so short) and Anton Chekov’s The Darling. I had read the former before but didn’t remember much of it. It was a bit of a tough slog. I found parts rather slow and boring and, of course, the racism was tough to navigate.

I’m not sure if I had read any of Chekov’s fiction before. I know I’ve read some plays. The Darling was interesting enough but wasn’t as appealing to me as some of the other stories I have read so far in The Story and Its Writer.

The only contemporary story I read during the month that made a positive impression was Salman Rushdie’s The Old Man in the Piazza from the New Yorker. That was the first work by Rushdie I ever read, and I liked it quite a bit as it was a parable of sorts about how social media is killing our ability to communicate.

Short Stories Read in 2020

So far in 2020, I’ve read 54 stories that I have enjoyed.

Books

I read 3 books in November, all on my Kindle (so I didn’t need to take a new picture). My favorite was Sigrid Nunez’s What You Are Going Through about a woman who visits a friend with terminal cancer. It deals with some serious end of life issues with great insight and some humor.

I also enjoyed Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi. I was intrigued by the world building and the unique situation the narrator found himself in, trapped, as he was, inside a mysterious, labyrinthian house. But the book was a bit too focused on the mechanics of the situation and would have benefited from some better character development.

I was less enthusiastic about Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles which felt as cobbled together as its publication history suggests.

October 2020 Reading Update
October 2020 Reading Update

Books Read in 2020

So far in 2020, I have read 38 books:


This Creative Midlife Posts in 2020

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