January 2021 Update

After the relative excitement of December with Holly’s birthday, Christmas, and our winter break, January settled back into the ongoing peace and quiet of our self-isolation.

Heading back to work after break was a bit of a tough transition, but luckily the university delayed the start of the semester due to the pandemic so we had a little extra time before jumping in too deep.

It was also difficult concentrating on work (or much of anything) the first half of the month what with the country nearly imploding. Now that we’ve weathered that, we can be hopeful that the new administration will be more organized and proactive with getting vaccines distributed.

Holly and I have managed our self-isolation pretty well, although I am getting a little impatient with it. Winter isn’t helping since the cold weather is further restricting our getting out and about.


Speaking of winter weather, I didn’t go out shooting much in January which has made me very appreciating of the light box Holly gave me for Christmas.

I did get out a couple of times and finished a roll in my Minolta XE which I haven’t gotten developed yet. Holly and I also went for a chilly walk at the end of the month around our neighborhood and along the southern part of the Schuylkill Banks. I brought along my Olympus TG-5 since it was a little cold out not only because it’s designed to function in less than ideal weather situations but also because it’s small and can be kept in my pocket until I’m ready to shoot. And I’m also fine taking quick photos in auto mode with it.

Partway through the month, I decided I missed my Flexaret Automat and my Olympus Pen-EE, both of which had stopped working (as far as I could tell). I had bought a Yashica Mat-124G as a replacement for the former but I had a particular fondness for the Flexaret and looked into getting another one. Luckily, I was able to get a Flexaret VI in good condition. I believe my original Flexaret was a VII.

When I got the new Flexaret, I was able to figure out what the issue was with my original Flexaret, which was user error. I won’t go into details, but I was making a dumb and obvious mistake with it. The upside is that I may now have 2 working Flexarets. I’ve only taken a couple test shots in the apartment this far so I need to wait until I get the rolls developed to make a definitive claim to their condition, but I am optimistic.

I also bought an Olympus Pen-EE3 to replace my old Pen-EE. Since it’s a new model, I’m hoping it will hold up better. I haven’t used it yet, but one benefit I’ve already noticed about the new model is that it goes up to ISO 400. The older model only went to 200 so I have more options for what films I can use with in.

Flexaret VI and Olympus Pen EE-3
Flexaret VI and Olympus Pen EE-3

In addition to my post about the light box, I also posted the results from 2 of my rolls leftover from last year:

I also did a round-up of my favorite photos from the 2nd half of 2020.

Drawing and Graphic Design

For my ongoing attempt at learning the Adobe Illustrator pen tool, I started watching the part of Illustrator 2020 One-on-One: Fundamentals course. My main problem is that I haven’t consistently worked with the pen tool so haven’t developed any facility with it.

I also started another tracing project in Procreate, again tracing a wine bottle label. I’m not done yet, but here is a glimpse of my progress.

Cat Wine Bottle
Cat Wine Bottle


January got off to a good start on this blog. I posted 5 times during the month which is basically on average with last year when I posted 61 times for the year.

I worked on revisions for 2 short stories which I’ve been working on here and there for quite a while so it’s refreshing to perhaps be close to being done with those. I also started a re-write of one longer story.

I haven’t submitted any stories to literary magazines in quite some time. It’s a tedious process with little chance of reward so it’s hard to summon much enthusiasm for it. I haven’t gotten anything published since A Telling Silence in Penmen Review back in October of 2017.


Short Stories

As I did last year, I would like to track the stories I read and like. One of the things I had hoped to do last year which I accomplished with minimal success was to read stories beyond the new ones in the new issues of The New Yorker. So far this year, it’s just been The New Yorker, although I did read a short story collection which I’ll include below under Books.

Short Stories Read in 2021

So far in 2021, I’ve read 3 stories that I enjoyed.


January was a busy reading month. I read one short story collection (To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss), one cookbook of sorts (Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau), and 5 Shakespeare plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Henriad).

I had read 2 stories from To Be a Man previously in The New Yorker: Seeing Ershadi and Switzerland. I loved them both so out a hold on the collection in Overdrive. Usually when I read a short story collection, I usually come away feeling the stories are unevenly good or bad. It’s rare that I feel a collection is uniformly strong, but I certainly felt that way with To Be a Man, which is why I didn’t list the stories individually in my short stories section. One of the best collections I’ve read in a while.

Holly had gotten me Spritz for Christmas. It has a lot of material about the history and culture of the spritz so I found myself reading it from start to finish. It’s a fun book if you’re interested in cocktails.

Near the end of 2019, I decided to read my way through some of Shakespeare’s plays, both those that I’ve read before and some unfamiliar ones. I have sporadically read some among my other reading since then but started this year on a bit of a binge, reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream which I had never read before and the 4 plays of the Henriad (Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V) which I have read. I don’t think I’ve read all 4 in quick succession as I had in January, and I found it quite entertaining to do so.

January 2021 Reading Update
January 2021 Reading Update

Books Read in 2021

So far in 2021, I have read 7 books:

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2021

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