Bridge Reflection

November 2023 Update

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

Of course one of the most notables things about November is Thanksgiving. Both Holly and I love Thanksgiving, and it’s probably our favorite holiday.

We always start the holiday early by ordering turkey sandwiches. This year, we revisited 3 sandwiches we’ve had before and tried 1 new one.

We had both the vegan and the turkey versions of the Gobbler from Triangle Tavern (on separate occasions).

The vegan one is made with seitan which makes the sandwich a little too heavy and bready for my taste. The turkey on has been one of my favorites over the past few years.

We also had the Turkey Sando from Stockyard Sandwich Co which we last had in 2020. It was really good but was very light on gravy making it a little dry.

The new entry was the Thanksgiving Stuffer from Hip City Veg. I hadn’t had anything from Hip City Veg and the Stuffer was an excellent introduction. It was a much better vegan option than the one from Triangle Tavern. It’s made with Chick’n which I’ve had once before and find it to be among the better meat substitutes. The sandwich had the right balance of gravy, cranberry sauce, mayo, and stuffing.

That was just the prelude to the big day. We had a quiet holiday at home and spend most of the day cooking: red wine braised turkey thighs, root vegetable gratin, mushroom stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a radicchio apple walnut salad.

We had Friday off as well and had a nice lunch at Oyster House. During our Staycation back in October (which I still plan on posting more about), we hung out at their bar for a late, boozy lunch and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to return the next opportunity we had. And nothing says day off like having martinis in the middle of the day.

We also visited my brother that Saturday and tried a new sushi place in his neighborhood: John’s Sushi House. It was an interesting experience since it’s in the same building that had been a string of German restaurants all my life. The building was constructed in 1683 and is among the oldest buildings in Pennsylvania. During my life, it had been Old Brauhaus, the Blue Ox Brauhaus, the Blue Ox Bistro, and Hop Angel Brauhaus. I had innumerable meals there over the course of my 55 years so it was a bit of a shock to be there for anything other than a German meal. Luckily, it was delicious so it was easier to move on than it might have otherwise been.

November wasn’t only about eating. One of the more exciting other things we did was seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Philadelphia Film Center. The Philadelphia Film Society is showing the top 100 of the BFI’s Greatest Films of All Time. We had already seen Chungking Express, Barry Lyndon, and Daisies, as well as another one during our annual Staycation which I’ll write about later.

I have wanted to see 2001 on a big screen for ages so I was thrilled to see it on the biggest screen in Center City Philadelphia. Not only were the images spectacular, but the sound was impressive as well. It’s amazing how well the special effects hold up after more than a half century. They showed it as originally intended with an overture and an intermission.


I finished reading Samantha Dion Baker’s Draw Your World. It has a nice combination of practical exercises and inspirational writing. I made 1 drawing based on that book: 2 versions of a lemon.

I also made a pencil drawing of the beer label for Troegs Blizzard of Hops.

I followed that up by tracing the same label in Procreate. I hadn’t used Procreate for a while and thought a simple tracing exercise could be a way to get back into using it.

As usual, I used the record function to create a time lapse of my work.

Time lapse of tracing a beer label in Procreate


Somehow, I got through the month without shooting any film. I still have some rolls as well as an outing with my Canon EOS Mark IV 5D to post about here. I bought a new iPad during the month which changed my workflow for my phone photos. Another thing I want to post about in more detail later.

I captured some nice autumn photos with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.


I already mentioned finishing Draw Your World, but I also finished reading 3 other books, 1 had had read before and 2 new ones.

In anticipation of the new Netflix series, I re-read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See which I originally read shortly after its initial publication in 2014. After nearly a decade, I didn’t remember much about it other than I really enjoyed it and found it to be a real page turner. Those opinions held after a 2nd reading.

Knowing that the series was going to be only 4 episodes, I was a little suspicious about how well it could capture the dueling plot strands and shifting time frames. My concerns were not unfounded as the series was terrible. It’s like the people behind the adaptation had no idea of why the book was good.

After reading and loving 2 Sigrid Nunez novels (The Friend, What Are You Going Through) this year, I was eager to read her new novel, The Vulnerables. It takes place during the early days of the COVID pandemic. It’s similar to The Friend but instead of needing to take care of a dog, the main character is tasked with watching a friend’s parrot. She moves into the apartment while her friend is stranded in another state. Her peaceful existence is disrupted by the appearance of the son of another friend who was originally tasked with caring for the parrot. Although I still really liked The Vulnerables, I didn’t find it quite as good as the 2 prior novels. But that says more about how much I liked those books as opposed to any real weaknesses in The Vulnerables.

I also read Teju Cole’s new book, Tremor. It’s a disorienting and challenging book yet strangely readable and satisfying. Ostensibly about a man who visits Lagos while taking a break from a troubled relationship, the novel is also a thoughtful meditation of racism, colonialism, and violence. It switches points of view including a section of 24 short vignettes about characters who don’t otherwise appear in the book. I would like to revisit this at some point since I spent the first reading mainly getting my feet under me.

I also really liked his Open City, and it might be rewarding to read them back-to-back.

Books Read in 2023

So far, I’ve read 33 books in 2023:

Being and Formulating Posts in 2023

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