Broken Statue

December 2023 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Reading | 0

Not surprisingly, Holly and I had a busy December.

In addition to the Christmas holiday, December is always extra-festive because of Holly’s birthday early in the month. For each of our birthdays, we usually take the closest Friday off to make a long weekend.

Our celebrations this year began on Thursday night because, coincidentally, the Philadelphia Film Society screened In the Mood for Love as part of their series of the top 100 films on the BFI’s Greatest Films of All Time list. I’ve been a Wong Kar-wai fan for a long time, and Holly has become a fan as well, especially of In the Mood for Love. We also saw his Chungking Express earlier in the year as part of the series.

After the movie, we stopped in at Monk’s Cafe for a couple beers. When I lived in Philadelphia before, I loved going to Monk’s whenever I was in Center City. Even after 12 years of being back, it’s hard for me to believe that we live only a few blocks away. That said, we don’t go there very often since there are so many good places to go in town. Stopping by as part of Holly’s birthday weekend kickoff was a treat.

Our only plan for Friday was to have a leisurely late lunch at Oyster House which has become a go-to place on a day off. I posted similar pictures in my November 2023 Update since we had gone there the day after Thanksgiving.

Our typical routine for each other’s birthday is the non-birthday partner treats the other to a brunch and a dinner. For brunch, we went to The Breakfast Den which has become one of our favorite breakfast and brunch places.

For dinner, we had planned to go to Le Virtu, but the weather was terrible on Sunday so we just stayed in. However, we got there later in the week for a fabulous dinner. It was dark inside so I didn’t take any photos.

I cooked 2 meals for us: Lasagna with mushrooms and spinach for dinner and a white bean and mushroom cobbler the next morning for breakfast. Both turned out fantastic, if I say so myself.

Christmas and winter break couldn’t come around fast enough for us. We’re fortunate to have occupations that give us the week off between Christmas and New Year. As usual, the fall semester was really busy so the break was appreciated.

We didn’t do much the first part of the break. We met my brother for dinner one night. Just prior to that, Holly and I had a fabulous Feast of the Seven Fishes at Little Nonna’s. Unfortunately, another place where it was too dark to take any photos.

We had our traditional quite Christmas at home, but then went to Washington DC for a few days. We felt like getting away but didn’t want to fly anywhere so taking the train to DC was an easy way to enjoy a change of scenery. I’ll have more to post about that later.


My main photography goal for the month was to take a lot of Christmas photos. I hadn’t done so last year and wanted to make this year feel more festive. I already posted about those photos. I took some of my Christmas photos with my Olympus OM-1, but I also took some non-Christmas photos with it while I was out and about. I was shooting a roll of Kodak Portra 400 (set at 200 ISO) and used my Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 lens.

I usually like the results I get with the OM-1 but winding the film can sometimes be problematic, and this time around, rewinding caused me trouble. Winding can be tight in both directions which makes the film feel like it could possible tear. That hasn’t happened yet, but I have had the film pop out of its cannister when trying to get to the final frame. I’ve learned to be careful with that. This time, I was having trouble telling if the roll had completed rewound. Turned out it hadn’t, and I lost a few photos. I need to look into a solution for this since I’m not ready to give up on the OM-1.


I finished 2 books in December.

As with any story collection, the stories can vary in quality which was true for the Selected Stories of Anton Chekov. They were mostly excellent. The Lady with the Small Dog and The Darling are classics for a reason, and I also really liked A Boring Story, The Fidget, Ward No. 6, and The Fiancée. The ones I didn’t like were mainly his really early stories.

The other book I finished was Annie Ernaux’s The Years. I wasn’t familiar with her prior to her winning the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature which, of course, made me curious. I did some research, and a lot of sources pointed to The Years as a good place to start. It’s a short memoir but it covers 1941 to 2006. Ernaux’s approach fascinated since much of it is told in the 3rd person plural, yet, somehow, she also develops a main character who begins to take over as time proceeds. It’s difficult to explain how this works and why it’s so effective. It’s one of the more unique books I’ve read, and I’m glad my curiosity led me to The Years.

Books Read in 2023

I read 36 books in 2023:

Being and Formulating Posts in 2023

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