Loco Pez

May 2024 Journal

posted in: Personal Essay, Reading | 0

The big event in May was our amazing trip to California. I plan on writing about that and sharing photos later which doesn’t leave much else from May. We were away from Wednesday, May 8 and returned on Wednesday, May 22. We didn’t go back to work until the Tuesday after Memorial Day so we had 5 days off in Philadelphia to recover from our 2 weeks away.

After getting back, we didn’t do much. We kept the vacation feels going with breakfast at The Breakfast Den one day and brunch at Loco Pez another. We have been to both of those places numerous times so they were reliable and comfortable restaurants to return to as we reacclimatized to our east coast life. Since we’ve been to both places before, I didn’t take many photos which would just have been repeats.

We tried one new place: La Sera Italiana, a new BYOB about 3 blocks away. Not only were we excited to learn there was going to be a new Italian restaurant nearby (not that we really need any more Italian restaurants), but we were also thrilled to see they would be open for lunch. We walked over around noon with a bottle of wine and sat by an open window on a pleasantly warm and sunny day. We each had the linguini primavera which was delicious.

When we first arrived, there was only one other person there sitting at one of the outdoor tables. He had a gallon jug of wine to nurse along with his meal and then broke out a bottle of Sambuca for afterwards. He kindly offered Holly and me shots of Sambuca which was kind but we weren’t ready for Sambuca before lunch.

In addition to those few meals out, we got back into home cooking, including a great Memorial Day dinner of BBQ chicken, baked beans, asparagus, and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese.

Returning to work was rough after nearly 3 weeks away, but thanks to Memorial Day, it was at least a short week.

As I mentioned, I plan on sharing more about our trip but getting my photos ready and writing the posts will take a while. Last year, I didn’t start posting about our May vacation until mid-July, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me that long again this year.

Obviously, I didn’t post here while we were away but, oddly, my site visits were substantially higher than usual. This blog is just for sharing some of my personal experiences and observations so I’m not all that concerned about my traffic, but I do keep an eye on it out of curiosity. My average site visits for the 1st 4 months of the year (according to the basic WordPress stats) was 597. In May, I had 1,538. I did have an uptick in April (719 vs. a 556 average for the 1st 3 months). I have no idea why especially since I was pretty inactive during May.


At the end of April, I started reading Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn. I thought I might find myself bringing it with me on our trip, but I enjoyed it so much that I ended up finishing it relatively quickly and still had a few days to spare before we left.

I had previously read 3 of Lethem’s novels but none of the more popular ones (Dissident Gardens, A Gambler’s Anatomy, and Chronic City) and liked all of them. I’ve had some of his better known books on my wish list for a while and finally picked up Motherless Brooklyn at our local used bookstore, Neighborhood Books.

I really appreciated the neo-noir aspects of the novel. One doesn’t think of the late 1990’s when considering noir, but Lethem makes it work. Certainly, the main character, Lionel Essrog is memorable due to his Tourette’s Syndrome. It was constantly fascinating to follow him during his investigation while navigating his various symptoms.

Once I was done that, I wanted to move on to something on my Kindle so I could pack lighter for our trip. I chose The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old, ostensibly by Hendrik Groen, but Groen is, apparently, a pseudonym for Peter de Smet.

I don’t recall how I heard about this book, but whatever I had heard compelled me to add it to my Kindle library a couple years ago. It’s about an 83 year old man in a retirement community who writes about the various shenanigans that he witnesses. It seemed like it could be a light, entertaining read for vacation and, for the most part, it was. It gets somber later in the book as some of his friends fall ill. It was a worthwhile read, but it felt repetitive at times. Since it is arranged as a diary covering 1 year, it stops at the end of the year with several plot strands left unresolved.

After spending time in the Carmel and Monterey region–including a trip to the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas–I was eager to read some John Steinbeck on our return. I had options to buy his books while in California but opted to order a couple while away so that I would get a fun treat in the mail when we got back. I ordered Cannery Row and The Grapes of Wrath and read the former at the end of the month.

I had read Cannery Row once before prior to the first time I traveled to Monterey in 2006. I didn’t remember anything about it. I found it delightful. There’s not much of a main plot. The closest thing involves a group of characters trying to arrange a party for another character. Otherwise, it’s full of short vignettes describing the people who live and work along Cannery Row.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed it regardless, but my reading experience was enhanced now that I’m so familiar with the area and could really picture a lot of the settings. Visiting the National Steinbeck Center also elevated the experience.

Two years ago, I picked up East of Eden while in the area so, clearly, spending time in Carmel and Monterey compels me to read some Steinbeck.

Books Read in 2024

So far, I have read 14 books in 2024:

Being and Formulating Posts in 2024

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