Hemingway Daiquiri at Bolo

June 2023 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Reading | 0

An Announcement

I’ll begin my usual monthly update with an announcement. I plan on making some changes to this blog, most notably, changing the domain and branding. I feel I have literally outgrown the midlife concept that prompted its creation. I no longer want to have any kind of narrow theme but be able to write about whatever I want to write about.

I plan on changing the domain to simply tomipri.com. I have never changed the domain of an existing site before so either this will be a smooth transition or I’ll need to revert it back to thiscreativemidlife.com. Or, worse case scenario, I’ll disappear from the internet.

I plan on making this change in the next week or so.

And Now the Update

Partly by design, June was a fairly quiet month. Holly and I had our big trip to California in May so we needed to readjust to the “real world” and pay for our vacation spending.

I plan on posting more about our return to California later, most likely across several posts. It was a long vacation and, not surprisingly, I took a lot of photos so it is taking me a while to write my posts about it.

We had some decent weather early in the month so we did get out and about a bit. Because I had a backlog of vacation photos to edit, I didn’t bring a camera with me on any of the walks we took until the end of the month when I dusted off my Olympus Pen EE-3, which I hadn’t shot with since April 2021.

I started a roll of Kodak Portra 400 but took only 20 photos. Since the EE-3 is a half frame camera, I still have 52 more shots so sharing any of that will need to be in a future post.

I did take a couple of photos with my Samsung Galaxy S9+ of a relatively new bench along the Schuylkill River Trail.

I also took a few more photos, again with my phone, of the renovations to the erstwhile Paley Library on the campus where I work. It looks more like demolition than renovation but some of it will be preserved for the forthcoming home to the College of Public Health.

Although we were recovering from vacation spending, we still tried a couple of new places. Work had been stressful since our return so getting out and doing things has been good for our mental health.

One Saturday, after a walk to the Italian Market, we stopped into Grace and Proper for some drinks and snacks. We really enjoyed both the drinks and the food but since it’s not particularly close to where we live, I’m not sure how often we’ll get there. But it’s good to know it’s there for those time we are in that area.

The other new place we tried, Bolo, is much closer to home. It’s a Latin American restaurant about 1/2 a mile from our apartment. We really liked our dinner there and can imagine repeat visits. As is our tendency, we shared a few small plate which were all delicious, especially the Sorullitos and the Mahi Mahi skewer.

We ended our meal with each of us getting a Hemingway Daiquiri. I don’t drink those often anymore. When I lived in Las Vegas, I had them on occasion at the fabulous Herbs and Rye. Getting a Hemingway Daiquiri brought back good memories of hanging out at Herbs and Rye with some of my Vegas friends.

Hemingway Daiquiri at Bolo
Hemingway Daiquiri at Bolo

Although the weather was relatively decent for June, at least until the very end of the month, our outdoor activities were curtailed a couple of times by smoke from the Canadian wildfires, once for a few days earlier in the month and again for a few days toward the end of the month. Experiencing smoke in Philadelphia provides some perspective on how bad it must be in Canada.


I finished 3 books in June.

Ahead of our vacation, I bought a couple of books for my Kindle: Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood and Walter Mosley’s Every Man a King.

As I mentioned in my May 2023 Update, I didn’t read as much as I expected while on our trip. I started Birnam Wood while away but didn’t finish it until we got home. I didn’t even start Every Man a King until after our vacation.

I had never read Mosley before but had wanted to for years. Sorry to report I didn’t like Every Man a King that much. None of the characters had much depth and were mostly there for plot purposes. The main character, King Oliver, fell mostly into a wise cracking detective stereotype, although some of his relationships with family rounded him out a bit.

I didn’t find the ostensible mystery all that compelling. King was hired for a fact finding mission and kind of drifted from one lead to another without it every amounting to much.

Given Mosley’s reputation, I was disappointed in Every Man a King, but I may have just picked up the wrong first book to read. I probably should read one of his earlier novels. This one felt like someone just going through the motions of writing a mystery. To be fair, Every Man a King is a follow-up to his previous novel, Down the River Unto the Sea, so I may be missing some necessary background context.

I finally finished Matisse in the 1930’s, an exhibition catalog from a show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art back in December. I found the collection of essays a bit hit and miss but I liked the concept of focusing in on one decade of an artist’s life. There were standout essays, particularly Ellen McBreen’s Lydia Delectorskaya and the Making of Matisse. Delectorskaya was mentioned a few times throughout the collection but this essay specific to her role in Matisse’s life was fascinating.

The main benefit of an exhibition catalog is the ability to revisit paintings I saw in person and be able to spend more time with them. This book was definitely valuable for that since I found the whole exhibit quite interesting.

I ended the month on a high note, reading Celeste Ng’s wonderful Our Missing Hearts. I really enjoyed her Little Fires Everywhere so I was looking forward to her new novel.

I found the setting of a version of the United States that was in the throes of a jingoistic movement fascinating, unsettling, and disturbingly possible. The novel deals with book burning and racism against Asian-Americans, among other things that feel too close to reality. I like that Ng didn’t over-explain what was going on (at least not early in the novel) and allowed the reader to figure out the situation more slowly. Having the main character of the first part be a young boy worked well since it was believable that he could be a little naïve about the state of society believing and not initially questioning what he had been taught at school.

But as that young boy, Bird, begins to realize the seriousness of what’s gone wrong with the culture and his mother’s role in rebelling against it, the novel grows into a real page turner. I’m a bit of a slow reader but got through Our Missing Hearts quickly. I was fully engaged with this book from start to finish.

For the past few months, Holly has been involved with a professional library committee that is reviewing children’s young adult science fiction books. Every so often, she gets a free box of books from different publishers with some nominated titles. Feeling a little jealous and feeling the need for some comfort during a rough work month, I decided to treat myself to some new books as well (alas, books I had to actually pay for). I bought the following from Bookshop.org:

June 2023 Bibliotherapy
June 2023 Bibliotherapy

Given that I already had a few books on my to be read pile, I’m in good shape for a while. At least until I need another does of retail therapy/bibliotherapy.

January - June 2023 Reading Update
January – June 2023 Reading Update

Books Read in 2023

So far, I’ve read 17 books in 2023:

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2023

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