Solvang Shoe Store

October 2021 Update

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

October was a very busy months for us. It began with a trip to California and ended with our annual Staycation.

Our trip to California was to meet up with Holly’s dad and 2 brothers. It was our first trip since our visit to Baltimore in October 2019 and our first flight since the last time we went to California in July 2019. It felt great to travel again, and it didn’t seem as strange or jarring to be back on a plane after so long, even with wearing masks the entire flight. 

We stayed in Buellton but spent most of our time in Solvang as well as traveled to other nearby areas for some sightseeing and wine tasting.

Solvang Shoe Store
Solvang Shoe Store

I wrote extensively about the trip on our underutilized food and travel blog, and I hope to post there soon about our Staycation as well.


I agonized about what camera(s) to bring on our trip. My initial thought was to bring my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and maybe my Olympus XA. I wanted to bring the former so I could take a lot of quality digital photos, the latter so that I could always have a small camera with me.

I have traveled with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV before. In fact, I had taken it with me on our first trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea the same month I had gotten it. I basically learned how to use my new toy on that trip:

I have also brought it with me on other trips as well:

But for this trip, as I was starting to pack, I was having difficulty including such a hefty camera. I was trying to pack lightly, and the Mark IV and the couple of lenses I wanted to bring were taking up too much space.

I ultimately went in a different direction and brought my Minolta X-700 with only my Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7 lens and my Olympus TG-5. Basically, I reversed my thinking and brought a film camera as my primary camera and the small TG-5 as something I could always have with me.

I brought 3 rolls of film with me: 2 rolls of Kodak Pro Image and 1 roll of Kodak Color Plus. I had recently used both and was pleased with the results so I thought they would be good and reliable films to bring. I easily shot all 3 and could have used an additional roll. I ended up barely using my TG-5 and found myself using my Samsung Galaxy S9+ more than I expected.

You can see all my photos from our trip in my Flickr album.


Short Stories

As has been my habit for a while, I read the New Yorker stories from the month. I thought 2 of the stories were interesting but not to my tastes: Karen Russell’s The Ghost Birds and Thomas McGuane’s Not Here You Don’t.

However, I really enjoyed the other 2 stories: Tove Ditlevsen’s The Umbrella and David Means’ The Depletion Prompts.

Short Stories Read in 2021

So far in 2021, I’ve read 64 stories.


I read 4 books in October.

A couple of years ago, I reread John Irving’s The World According to Garp and loved it. At one time, I was really into Irving’s books, and revisiting Garp was a good reminder as to why. One of his earlier novels that I had not read was The Hotel New Hampshire. I had been meaning to read that ever since finishing Garp but hadn’t gotten around to it.

In October, I read The Hotel New Hampshire (Amazon | which came right after The World According to Garp and right before The Cider House Rules and doesn’t quite match the quality of either of those books. It’s not a bad book by any stretch. It’s certainly entertaining but there are some aspects of it, like believing that someone in a bear costume can really fool people into thinking its a bear, that strain credibility.

I’ve read everything by Irving from Setting Free the Bears to A Son of the Circus with the exception of The 158-Pound Marriage. Given how much I enjoyed his books at that time, it’s a little surprising to me that I haven’t read any of the 8 books he’s published after A Son of the Circus.

In anticipation of a couple of exhibits we planned to see during our fall Staycation, I read the catalogs for the Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Suzanne Valadon: Model Artist Rebel exhibit at the Barnes Foundation. As I learned when I had read the Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint exhibition catalog ahead of that exhibit during our spring Staycation, I really enjoyed knowing about the exhibit before attending. The same held true for these more recent shows. It’s rather rewarding seeing the art in person knowing something about it beforehand.

The final book I read in October was Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom (Amazon | I really enjoyed Homegoing but wasn’t sure how interested I was in Transcendent Kingdom based on some of the reviews I had read. When the Kindle version came up on sale, I decided to give it a try and am very glad I did. I found it fascinating and engaging. The main character’s struggles with her faith were complex and entirely believable.

October 2021 Reading Update
October 2021 Reading Update

Books Read in 2021

So far in 2021, I have read 40 books:

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2021 Posts in 2021

Disclaimers: Comments are moderated. Some links, such as those to Amazon, are affiliate links, through which, I may gain a small commission.

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