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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The Swimmer, John Cheever (The New Yorker)
- Birdie, Lauren Groff (The Atlantic)
- The Aurelian, Vladimir Nabokov (The Atlantic)
- Things We Worried about When I was Ten, David Rabe (The New Yorker)
- Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts, Anthony Veasna So (The New Yorker)
- With the Beatles, Haruki Murakami (The New Yorker)
- A Simple Case, E.C. Osondu (The Atlantic)
- Kid Positive, Adam Levin (The New Yorker)
- Go Team, Samantha Hunt (The Atlantic)
- Night Swim, Anne Enright (The New Yorker)
- Out There, Kate Folk (The New Yorker)
- Edge of the World, Souvankham Thammavongsa (The Atlantic)
- The Other One, Tess Hadley (The New Yorker)
- Bedtime Story, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (The New Yorker)
- Likes, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (The New Yorker)
- The Burglar, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (The New Yorker)
- Demolition, Fiona McFarlane (The New Yorker)
- Pursuit as Happiness, Ernest Hemingway (New Yorker)
- Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- White Noise, Emma Cline (New Yorker)
- A Shinagawa Monkey, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- Grief, Scholastique Mukasonga (New Yorker)
- Eating Fish Alone, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- The Dreadful Mucamas, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- Reversible Story, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- Jack and Della, Marilynne Robinson (New Yorker)
- Heirlooms, Bryan Washington (New Yorker)
- The Lottery, Shirley Jackson (New Yorker)
- Hunting Knife, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- U.F.O. in Kushiro, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- The Cows, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- The Seals, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- You Are My Dear Friend, Madhuri Vijay (The New Yorker)
- Cicadia, David Gilbert (The New Yorker)
- The Sand Banks, 1861, David Wright Faladé (The New Yorker)
- Deep Cut, Andrew Martin (The Atlantic)
- Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Story and Its Writer)
- The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allen Poe (The Story and Its Writer)
- Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville (The Story and Its Writer)
- Flashlight, Susan Choi (The New Yorker)
- Switzerland, Nicole Krauss (The New Yorker)
- Face Time, Lorrie Moore (The New Yorker)
- Rainbows, Joseph O’Neill (The New Yorker)
- Life without Children, Roddy Doyle (The New Yorker)
- A for Alone, Curtis Sittenfeld (The New Yorker)
- The Death of Ivan Ilych, Leo Tolstoy (The Story and Its Writer)
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce (The Story and Its Writer)
- A White Heron, Sarah Orne Jewett (The Story and Its Writer)
- The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant (The Story and Its Writer)
- Désirée’s Baby, Kate Chopin (The Story and Its Writer)
- The Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin (The Story and Its Writer)
- Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (The Story and Its Writer)
- The Darling, Anton Chekov (The Story and Its Writer)
- The Old Man in the Piazza, Salman Rushdie (The New Yorker)
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.
Books Read in 2020
So far in 2020, I have read 38 books:
- Fear of Flying, Erica Jong (Kindle book)
- Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement, Rich Karlgaard
- L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, David Lebovitz (Kindle book)
- The Complete Untitled Film Stills, Cindy Sherman (library book)
- The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
- Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff (Kindle book)
- Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktails, Apéritifs, and Café Traditions of France, with 160 Recipes, David Lebovitz
- The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner (Kindle book)
- Trust Exercise, Susan Choi (Kindle book)
- The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better after 50, Jonathan Rauch
- Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
- A Gravity’s Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon’s Novel, Steven Weisenburger
- Weather, Jenny Offill (Kindle book)
- The Altering Eye: Photographs from the National Gallery of Art, Sarah Greenough, ed
- Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe, Brian Greene
- The Cactus League, Emily Nemens (Kindle book)
- The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel
- White Teeth, Zadie Smith
- Vineland, Thomas Pynchon
- The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux (Kindle book)
- A Burning, Megha Majumdar (Kindle book)
- The Old Guard, Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández (Kindle graphic novel)
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne, Dave King
- Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis
- The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead (Kindle book)
- Sally Mann, A Thousand Crossings, Sarah Greenough and Sarah Kennel, eds.
- Mason and Dixon, Thomas Pynchon
- Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare
- Remain in Love, Chris Franz (Kindle book)
- Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
- Love’s Labor’s Lost, William Shakespeare
- The Old Guard Vol. 2: Force Multiplied, Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández (Kindle graphic novel)
- Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed (Kindle book)
- The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin
- The Silence, Don DeLillo (Kindle book)
- What Are You Going Through, Sigrid Nunez (Kindle Book)
- Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Kindle Book)
- The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (Kindle Book)
This Creative Midlife Posts in 2020
- 2019 Camera Inventory
- December 2019 Update
- 2019 Update and 2020 Goals
- Tracing Exercise in Procreate
- Midlife: A Philosophical Guide Review
- Some Lingering 2019 Photos
- January 2020 Update
- Half-Frame Fun
- Old Age as Defined in The Atlantic
- Black and White Photos with the Canon AE-1
- February 2020 Update
- Late Bloomers Review
- Self-Isolation Week One
- New and Old Lenses for the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Self-Isolation Week Two
- March 2020 Update
- Self-Isolation Week Three
- Spring Photos with the Olympus TG-5
- Self-Isolation Week Four
- Macro Watches
- Self-Isolation Week Five
- More Self-Isolation Macro Photos
- Self-Isolation Week Six
- April 2020 Update
- Looking Out Our Window
- Self-Isolation Week Eight
- Spring Photos with the Canon EOS Rebel 2000
- Last Normal Photos with the Olympus OM-1
- May 2020 Update
- Spring Flexaret Photos
- Two First Rolls
- June 2020 Update
- Some Favorite Photos from 2020 So Far
- Canon Rebel 2000 with Ferrania P30
- Finished the Procreate Project I Didn’t Think I Would Finish
- Minolta Hi-Matic 11 with Ilford XPS Super
- Minolta X-700 with Kodak Portra 400
- July 2020 Update
- Two Slightly Disappointing Rolls
- Trying My Hand at the Mason and Dixon Ampersand
- Minolta XE with Lomochrome Metropolis
- Second Half-Frame Roll
- August 2020 Update
- How I Fixed My Medium Format Dilemma
- Macro Photos of Cameras
- Reaching 6 Months of Self-Isolation
- Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100
- Minolta X-700 with Fomapan Action 400
- September 2020 Update
- October Walk with My Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Keep Cool But Care
- Canon Rebel 2000 with Ilford Delta 100
- Olympus OM-1 with Kodak Ektar 100
- Staycation Walk
- October 2020 Update
- Second Roll with my Yashica Mat-124G
- Second Roll with My Minolta Autopak 450Ex
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