Ferris Wheel at City Hall

December 2022 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

This December, as usually is the case, was really enjoyable for me and Holly. Although I dislike how little daylight there is, we have significant time off from work and always look forward to Christmas.

In addition to the time off our employer gives us for winter break, we took a day off earlier in the month to have a 3-day weekend for Holly’s birthday. We also took an additional vacation day at the start of our winter break to extend our time off.

For Holly’s birthday, I cooked a few meals, but we also went out 3 times: A relaxing afternoon at Tria Café, a lovely dinner at Panorama, and a wonderful Sunday brunch at Fitz on 4th.

Our winter breaks tend to be fairly quiet, focusing more on relaxing than on doing a lot. We very briefly contemplating traveling to somewhere warm but were glad we didn’t given the travel mess over the holidays.

That’s not to say we didn’t get out and about. The weather here in Philadelphia was pretty miserable over the Christmas weekend but was reasonably nice for the rest of our break.

We went to both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation to see their special exhibits. We visited the former for the Matisse in the 1930s exhibit and the latter for their Modigliani Up Close exhibit. Both were fascinating especially since the Barnes has a large collection of Matisse paintings. We had gone to the Philadelphia Museum of Art first so, although we have seen the regular collection at the Barnes a few times, we were curious to revisit the Matisse works there.

I didn’t take many pictures at either. Both museums were crowded which made photography difficult, but I’m also not usually inclined to take a lot of pictures of the artwork anyway, especially since I’ve developed the habit of usually buying the catalogs.

I did take a few pictures with my Nikon Z fc and 28mm f/2.8 lens while at and around the museums.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Civil War Sailors Memorial on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Civil War Sailors Memorial on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

We also went to Northeast Philadelphia to visit my brother. We went to Joseph’s Pizza which is in the neighborhood where we grew up. I have been there very frequently over the years. It closed a couple years ago but was bought by someone who owns another local restaurant and reopened it with the same name and similar food and approach. Other than some minor tweaks, they kept the same quirky interior. The pizza was actually better than its previous incarnation so going there provided more than just nostalgia.

One fun and different thing Holly and I did in December was getting the Diamine Inkvent Calendar. We’ve both really gotten into pens (fountain and otherwise) so Holly bought us this calendar to help countdown the days until Christmas. I liked at least half the inks. I set up my Traveler’s Notebook sketchpad for tracking all the inks only to realize that wasn’t the best paper for testing inks. My tests don’t really reveal a lot of the special characteristics of the inks, not a lot of shimmer or sparkle in my examples. I’ll know better for next year, if we do this again.

With the exception of the 30ml Christmas Day ink, the inks all came in 12ml sample size. Testing the inks didn’t use up much so we have plenty of inks to use in the near future which I’m looking forward to especially since Holly got me a Kaweco Brass Sport pen which I had been wanting for a while.

Of course, the break went by too quickly as does any time off, but it was quite enjoyable and relaxing.


At the start of the month, I had a backlog of photos I hadn’t posted about and focused on getting caught up.

I’ve been using my Nikon Z fc a lot recently, partly due to running low on film and hesitating to buy more because of the prices (although I am restocked thanks to Holly giving me a 5-pack of Kodak Pro Image for Christmas). In addition to the above posts, I also brought the Z fc along on our visit to City Hall to see the Christmas decorations.

Christmas Tree at City Hall
Christmas Tree at City Hall
Ferris Wheel at City Hall
Ferris Wheel at City Hall

In addition to the photos of my Kaweco pen, I also took photos of some of our other Christmas gifts in my light box. I actually took a lot more but must be out of practice using the lightbox since I was unhappy with a majority of the photos. Luckily, and handful still came out OK.

Glass Frog
Glass Frog

I used my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with my 24-105mm f/4 lens. For the above Kaweco photos, I used my Canon 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 lens with my macro adaptor.


2022 was not a great year for my writing. Other than keeping up with this blog, I didn’t accomplish much. I wrote 1 short story and fumbled around with some other creative works.

Mid-November, I bought The Making of a Story by Alice Laplante. Although I have managed to get some short stories published, I figured it can’t hurt to work toward improving my fiction. Partway through this month, I started reading The Making of a Story and working through the exercises. In addition to making improvements, I’m hoping to come away with more material that can be fashioned into stories. So far, I’ve gotten through the first couple chapters and have found the readings interesting and the exercises helpful. It’s a big book (677 pages) so it will take a while to work my way through it.

The Making of a Story
The Making of a Story



I read 3 books in December.

In honor of its 100th birthday, I read The Waste Land for the first time since college. I checked out an edition from our library, The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose, that has excellent notes to help me better understand the work. Despite not having read it in 30+ years, I remembered quite a bit of it. It is still a fascinating poem and was well-worth a revisit. The book included a selection of some of T.S. Eliot’s prose writing from that period. I found much of this additional material to be rather boring but everything related to The Waste Land was helpful and interesting.

I also re-read Hamlet. Not sure when the last time I read this was, but it was definitely more recently than The Waste Land. I have been slowing working my way through a partial Shakespeare re-read chronologically and am glad to be getting into the later plays which I’ve always found more interesting.

My reading highlight was Elif Batuman’s The Idiot. I loved her short story, The Repugnant Conclusion, from The New Yorker. This story is an excerpt from her novel Either/Or so I was definitely interested in reading that. I learned that Either/Or is a continuation of The Idiot so I decided to read that first. I was riveted by this book, especially by the voice of its main character, Selin, a very smart but also very naïve college freshman.

I read it on my Kindle and would like to re-read it in print. I have a complicated relationship with reading on my Kindle. I like the convenience of it, but I usually feel I get more out of a book if I read it in print.

December 2022 Reading Update
December 2022 Reading Update

Books Read in 2022

I read 37 books in 2022:

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2022

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