Writing, through sickness and in health; Photography, a tourist; Expat Life; Friends and Family

Color 2Once again, I have failed to complete the third draft of my book, in particular the dialog between the local police officers and the Pinkertons when they show up early to collect the prisoner. Whereas I have considered this a disappointment on my part to knuckle down and get things done, I have a good excuse. My friends returned from Arequipa for another five Vase 1days in which time I occupied myself with entertaining them before they returned to the United States. My friends brought back a little present, each had a cold supplied by passengers on the flight there. They proceeded to share it with me and I am still dealing with the symptoms. For me, it’s hard to be creative through a fog of congestion.

Tres HombresNever fear though, I am nearly at the end of the cold (called El Gripe here in Peru). Another day and I should be fit as a fiddle again. I plan to have that last passage done by the end of this weekend.

My photography is still leaning more towards the Tomb 1tourist type lately due to my vacationing friends. Shots of the historical center of Lima and its beautiful balconies and old colonial buildings were the order of the day. I still managed to get in a good walk with the cell phone and get shots of my favorite subject, the flowers in Lima’s wonderful parks. I’m noticing that the batteries I have for my Canon SX50 HS are not lasting Pidgeon on a statue.as long. I think I’m going to need to search Amazon for some extras and order them on my return to the US in August. I hope I can find some, the last time I looked, the pickings were slim.

Being sick while living in a foreign country has its ups and Balcony 5downs. The ups are; cheap medical care, cheap medicine, and a plethora of home remedies that give one pause. A prime example, my friend Steve insisted that I take his mother’s remedy. Almond milk, a large slice of onion, some garlic, and a pinch of salt all cooked to a boil Lamaand blended into a kind of soup. I had my doubts but it actually tasted like a decent onion soup and it did clear up my head congestion fairly quickly. For me, the only real downside to this is my poor conversational skills in On the throne 2Spanish. Others might worry about the quality of some of the services but over the eight years I have been here, I have no complaints.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to meet any of my friends here in Peru for our coffee and chat sessions since my last entry. Thanks to “El Gripe,” I will not be able to join them On the throne 3again this weekend either. I did get to join Mona and Kelly for cocktails on the patio last Friday. Although, I had tea with lemon and honey; the cold had just set in. Their son Aaron joined us which demonstrated that his recovery from the heart valve replacement surgery is going well. We had a nice time catching up with things going on at both ends.

My friends also returned from Arequipa with high praiseBalcony 4 for the beauty of the “White City” and its food. They did a city tour while there and enjoyed sitting in the Plaza de Armas people watching. Their first day back we relaxed and enjoyed chatting about all manner of things. A trip out for lunch and a walk to the markets filled in some of the time Balcony 3also. The next day (Sunday), I took them into the historical center of Lima to see the beautiful balconies, colonial buildings, enjoy lunch and a pisco sour at the Bolivar Hotel, and a shared ham sandwich at Cordano’s Bar (noted for their sandwiches of Jamon del Norte), and purchase some souvenirs for their grand-niece and nephews. The rest of the stay was spent in La Molina except for a trip to a nightclub by Marrell one evening. Sadly, when it came time for them to leave, I realized how much I will missBalcony 6 them again.

So, another post comes to an end. I haven’t been on the exercise train for the last week thanks to the cold but plan to ease back into it as soon as I’m better. I’m hoping that all of you have been vigilant and have gotten up and gotten out for a stroll, a walk, or a run. Remember – use it or lose it. Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

Writing, a break for guests; Photos, lots and lots; Expat Life in Peru, Winter is here; Friends and Family

Me on horse 3

I did manage to get through all but one conversation that I need to change in my edits before they arrived from the USA. But, since then I haven’t looked at a single page. The real work will begin after they leave when I have to do another read through and figure out the places I need to add and/or changes to address the issues that need to be resolved throughout the entire book. I will be a busy boy after they leave. In reality, the book I20170526_134048 am working on at any point in time, never really leaves my thoughts. The characters always creep in at the oddest moments.

It’s been an excellent two weeks for photography. Thanks to my friends, I have revisited two of my favorite archaeological sites in and around Lima and seen an incredible Paso Horse show. They even allowed us to take a ride around the arena to top off the event. The two The roadarcheological sites were Pachacamac and Huaca Pucllana. I am amazed at the progress the archeologists have made at these two sites in the eight years that I have lived here.

The life of an expat here in Lima has its many ups and downs, much as life anywhere does. The winter season is setting in and the temps are dropping into the low 60s while the heave mist they call rain here settles in every night leaving a slick layer of water on everything. This wreaks havoc with the traffic, whichSteve on horseback is already beyond terrible. I am grateful that the amount of time I have to spend traveling in a car is minimal. My live-in housekeeper, who I am so grateful for, has had some type of emergency with a legal process concerning property he owns in Piata had had to go home for a week to deal with Pachacamac Main Gatethe issue. It is amazing how quickly you get used to having someone take care of the household chores. Cooking and cleaning will be part of my job for the next week. Oh, woe is me. LOL

I was able to make it to a coffee and chat with theM&D with guide Bodegas Verde crowd before my guests came to town. It was the last meeting that all five of us will be able to make for quite some time. Carlo is off to the USA to teach at summer school, and I am only able to make it every couple of weeks so far. But, we had a great time. Dario has run his first full Marinera 2marathon and completed it under the time he had set for himself. Larry is working on a novel. Mahlon is working on getting a good job teaching. The next day I met up with Kathy for coffee and chat. She is still doing her Tai Chi and taking drawing classes. Friday evening cocktails with Mona and Kelly was fun. Aaron, their son, is doing better. Although he still has bad days. Then this week while my guests are in Arequipa, I Marinera 3met my friend Bob for coffee. We had a great time catching up and it was nice to see that he is recovering nicely from his knee surgery.

Marinera 1My guests, Marrell and Dale, arrived on time last Tuesday. We have spent a great deal of our time together catching up on everything that has gone on in the past eight years. Jaunts out of the house for lunch or dinner as well as a trip to the first-class theater to see “Authur” for Steve’s birthday The palacetook up the majority of the days. The trip to Pachacamac and the Paso Horse show were also a present to Steve for his birthday. M and D will return from Arequipa tomorrow late in the afternoon and will be here until they leave for the US on Tuesday. I plan to take them to Lima’s Historical Center for one of those days. It’s been a couple of fun weeks for me.

Well, that’s it for this post. Update, I have lost the 40 lbs I set out to do. Now it’s all about maintenance. You can do it to, get up and get out. Take a walk, do something creative. A long active life is better than one spent on the couch wishing you were doing something. Have a fun active week everyone.

Writing, a recovery week; Photography, finally out with the camera; Expat Life in Peru; Family and Friends

Selfie ColorDespite my grand design to have the edits on the manuscript of Bone Gap Road completed as of this writing, it didn’t happen. The reasons are good though. The first edit I had to fix took a thousand words of dialog and a small amount of research, which was followed a few pages later by anotherSunset 1 700-word fix. The end result, I still have six pages to go as of this post.

I’m still pleased with the changes I’m making and the recent additions will help flesh out a couple of characters even more. I’m still hoping to have this first run through finished before my guests show up next Tuesday. The manuscript will set to the die for the time they are here. After which I will read through the book one more time and make notations on the places where I need to insert the changes that affect the whole book. Things are looking good for me to have it published before I return to the US in August.Rest in the park B&W

I actually made it out for a photo walk this past week. It felt good to get out with the camera again. I also set up my tripod and took some new profile photos for the various social sites I frequent. The sun came out just enough for me to have fairlySunrise 2 decent light and the flowers (my main subjects) filled out in their full glory to provide the perfect pose for me. I managed 60 plus shots of which 45 were suitable for posting. I’m hoping I can get another one in before the end of the week with either the camera or the cellphone.

Life in Lima, Peru had been relatively sedate this week. My twice a day walks are making me new friends on my route and I enjoy the many “Buenos Dias” and “Buenos Flower in the bushes colorTardes” that I get from the people I pass in the neighborhood. Everyone gives me a smile and since starting my routine, I have noticed an increase in other walkers, especially older ones. I have no new disasters, neither personal nor national, to report on this week. Things have calmed down a bit on the personal front and Peru is in full recovery mode and I am still impressed with their responses so far.

Not a lot to report on the friends and family front this Rest in the park colorweek. I haven’t been able to make it to any of the coffee and chats for the past couple of weekends. I will be going this coming weekend so I am looking forward to catching up with everyone on what’s been going on in their lives. I did have cocktails with Mona and Kelly last Friday. They are doing well and enjoying the change from winter to spring. Full Moon Blue SkyUnfortunately, their son, Aaron, took a turn for the worse in the second week. Not with the valve replacement but his vasculitis flared up again. I’m hoping a get news of his improvement tomorrow evening. Facebook tells me that everyone else is doing great, living life as fully as possible.Flower in the bushes B&W

Personally, I’ve lot more weight for a total of 17 kilograms or 37.4 lbs., the walks are working miracles for me. Fall weather has set in finally and our days are now mostly cloudy with a dash of sun in the afternoon. The cooler weather sure makes them more pleasant.

Well, that’s it for another post. I hope you all are staying active. It works, so get up and get out. Start with a short walk, play a game that stretches the old grey cells. It’s very simple, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. Have a fantastic week everyone.

Editing, ups and downs; Photography, takes a back seat; Expat Life in Peru; Family and Friends

IMG_20161129_102022My sincere apologies for this late post. The last couple of weeks have been trying to say the least. Life has conspired to place obstacle on the roadway of my life. The struggle to overcome them has been successful but time consuming.

I have struggled with moving forward in editing the manuscript the last couple of weeks. The suggestions for change and comments have required more research andIMG_20161109_111208 a rethink of how to fit them into the narrative of the story. In addition, those challenges I mentioned have also interfered with placing the work in front of me and actually accomplishing any work.

Despite that, I have actually made some progress and am hoping to make more in the next eleven days or so. After IMG_20161019_093207that, I will have friends visiting from the USA. They will be staying with me here in Lima for a few days. I haven’t seen them for years, so it will be great to catch up and show them around the city. I doubt any editing will get done in that time though.

I only have about 25 pages left and hope to report that they will be completed by my next post on the page. I won’t beIMG_20160927_112336 finished by a long shot. I’ll still have to go back to the beginning and hopefully, insert the adjustment to my protagonist’s character that I mentioned in my previous post.

My photography had certainly suffered in the past couple of weeks. Other than a dozen or so photos, I haven’t had the camera or cell phone out for serious picture taking. The IMG_20160923_134050ones in this post are things I have posted on Instagram, photos altered with their internal adjustment product. I’m hoping that changes in the next few days, although I’m sure that when my friends arrive I’ll be snapping away like a mad man. LOL

There’s not much to report on the vagaries of expat life in the past couple of weeks. Small things keep IMG_20160922_130531happening that keep you on your toes. More dental work is being done thanks to my carelessness. But otherwise, the exchange rate has been moving back in my favor for the last week. That eases my stress when it comes to finances a little. The floods have receded and the work continues to restore the damage. We can only hope that this provides the IMG_20160921_153011new government with an opportunity to go beyond the corruption of the past and make significant improvements to the infrastructure.

Despite everything, I have been able to meet up with friends and enjoy some laughs and excellent conversation. Coffee and Chat with Larry, Dario, Carlo, and Mahlon was fun and filled with lively quips. I also met up with Kathy and Isabel on Sunday here in La Molina for another coffee and chat. We spent most of IMG_20160913_145228the time catching up on Isabel’s life. It had been some time since she was able to join us. Naturally, Friday evening cocktails with Mona and Kelly have been a hoot. On that note, I received the great news that their oldest son´s (Aaron) heart valve replacement surgery went very well and is now home to continue his recovery. He’s already showing significant improvement. My friend Bob’s knee surgery went well and his recovery is progressing on pace. Other friends and family are all doing well I am happy to report.

You would have thought with a two-week break, there would have been more to post about. I guess in a way, it’s a good thing there isn’t. LOL I hope you all have been able to get up and get out. It’s not that hard to improve your life, all you have to do is take that first step.

Writing, the agony of change; Photography, nothing of substance; Expat Life in Peru; Family and Friends

Red on PinkI am working along at a furious pace and crossing out the little red boxes in the margin at a fantastic rate. This is great I think, I’m now two-thirds of the way through the manuscript and am proud of the changes I’m making to the content. Then, this little red box pops up, “Rufus is not American. So maybe that fact needs to come into play more in his character. How he acts, how he responds, how the people respond to him. I don’t get thePurple Flower contrast in cultures. How does he try to fit in? What customs from back home does he hang on to?” (Place a few expletives here)!

She has a point, although in his first year he became a citizen, I do need to bring out his Englishness more. Ninety present of the people who populate the area where this book take place are of English descent, some have relatives who arrived as early as 1816. Others later as settlers from England moved into the area all the way to the time this book takes place in 1890. This fact will put their interactions Plants for sale 2at a different level. It will bring the usual questions into play of; “Did you know so and so? Where is that in relation to ….? Do they still ….? What is the Queen like?” and others. He’s been there two years now, so how much of that will still be happening? Will he have tried to lose his accent in that time? What habits will he retain, tea instead of coffee or is that a cliché?

Now, I must consider which of these things I will add and the appropriate places to putPlants for sale 1 them in the book so they appear to flow with the narrative. It’s amazing how one comment (well actually several) can set you back.

The only photographs I’ve managed this week have been with my cell phone and although nice, there are very few of them. I haven’t downloaded them yet so they won’t appear till next week’s post. I do have a little project that I want to try out involving some sheer sparkly cloth. You may or may not see the results of that little experiment depending on what I think of the results.

MacroAspects of my life here in Peru are hardly worth mentioning this week. I managed to get through all of my chores and projects this past week without incident. No one has moved into the apartment below yet. The landlord is still painting and cleaning it up. Peru has started work on repairs to the infrastructure and fingers are being pointed at the poor use of funds that might have prevented some of the destruction. We’ll see how that plays out. Prices at the stores have returned to normal, at least in the places I shop. I hear the government is asking people to report any incidents of price gouging. I was glad to hear that. So, life here in Lima has returned to normal and if it wasn’t for the news and posts on FB, you wouldn’t know that anything had happened.

Last Friday, both Mona and Kelly joined me for cocktails although they weren’t on their Foggy Chorrillospatio this time. The rain and cold had returned to wonderful Southern Illinois proving the old adage, (If you don’t like the weather here, stick around for five minutes, it’ll change.” We did have a good time though and I’m really looking forward to joining them for cocktails in person this coming August. I didn’t meet up with the guys Saturday morning, stuff to do. Turns out that was just as well since most of them couldn’t attend for Fire Rosevarious reasons also. Sunday morning, I did meet up with Kathy at the Starbucks in San Borja. We had a long and lively conversation since it had been a couple of months since our last get together. She’s doing great and is walking better than ever. That sums up the news on family and friends. No updates of serious note on FB tell me that everyone else is doing fine.

That brings to close another weekly post. I hope all of you have been active physically and mentally. You have to keep the body and mind in shape. Use it – or lose it; get up and get out, read a book, paint a picture, take some photos; you all know the drill by now. On a personal note, I’ve lost another two kilos for a total of 15.6 or 34.32 lbs. Walking daily helps! Have a great week everyone.

Writing, the long road; Photography, expanding my vision; Expat Life in Peru, praise from the UN; Family and Friends

Street Art 10The long road to a fully edited and completed manuscript continues. Through the past week, I’ve made excellent progress. I’m now a little over a third of the way through the book and feel that the changes I’m making will assuredly make it a better read. Certain characters have been fleshed out and scenes that seemed to have little to do with the plot have been Street Art 9altered to help them advance the story. I’ve added more description to some areas to help the reader more fully visualize the era and place the story takes place in.

Street Art 8The increasing pace of my edits has nothing to do with them getting easier. I’m simply spending more time each day working on the edits and doing the research necessary to give the reader the best experience possible. As writers/authors, we have a responsibility to the people who purchase our books. The foremost among those is making the reader happy that he or she took the time to read our work. I’m hoping beyond hope that I can have the book published before August 10th of this Street Art 7year.

I’ve made it out for a couple more photo walks this past week. I did take my shot of my favorite subject, flowers, but also took the time to get the photos I’ve posted today. My friend Kelly of Friday Evening cocktail fame tells me he’s tired of all the flower pictures, “please post something else.” So, here they Street Art 6are buddy, dedicated to you. Some of the wonderful new street art on the Bajados de Baños in Barranco. Peru does have an abundance of talented artists. He’s right though, I do need to expand my photographic vision to include other subjects and techniques.

The rains are still falling in the northern part of Peru but they seem to have lessened in intensity and the reports of flooding and mudslides have subsided. Peru received the honor of high praise from the United Nations this past Street Art 5week, lauding them for their quick response to the disasters occurring in the northern half of the country. Now, the long process of rebuilding infrastructure, homes, and businesses begins.

There have been no disasters in my personal life this past week as relates to living in another country. Our neighbors, the people living in the apartment below us have moved out. I do hope that the new renters will be as quiet and respectful as the last ones. Our internet has been iffy for a couple of weeks now. It seems they are installing new cables somewhere in the neighborhood. I hope they finish soon, it’s very annoying. Otherwise, all is well here in the southern hemisphere.

Street art 4Mona and Kelly finally returned to their patio for out Friday evening cocktails. The weather in Southern Illinois is turning and spring has fully sprung. We enjoyed our normal banter although there is still some doubt about a new umbrella for the patio. LOL Saturday morning at La Bodega Verde was full of the usual titillating conversation. Larry, Bob, Dario, Carlo and I had a good time as we sipped excellent coffee and enjoyed the great breakfast they serve there. Bob Street Art 3will be going in for knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus tomorrow. We are hoping he has a speedy and full recovery. Silvia is very busy running the pre-school she owns.

Our friend Jamie has finally received his Rentista Visa here in Peru, congrats buddy. Ada’s art classes are going well, she is such an incredible talent. I didn’t get to meet up with Kathy this past Sunday, she was off to Ayachucho to visit a friend Street Art 2and do some touristy stuff. Natalie and Azaad are dealing with unpacking still. The just received their shipping container and are wondering where they are going to put all their stuff. It’s amazing how much stuff we can accumulate over the years. No news on any other front so I guess everyone else is doing great.

Another post comes to a close. I’ve had nother successful week on my exercise and dietStreet Art 1 program. I’ve now lost a total of 13.6 kg or 30 lbs and have decided to go for another 10 lbs. This only shows you how determination and a little work will go a long way to meeting your health goals. Remember, get up, get out – use it or lose it – exercise body and mind. No matter how late you start or how far you have to go to meet your goals, you’ll never regret it.

Writing, the edit continues; Photography, behind the lens again; Expat Life in Peru, rebuilding from the devastation and the internet; Family and Friends

Vase 2As much as I lamented last week about the time it was taking me to turn my editor’s comments and suggestions into changes in the manuscript, that process continues. After another week, I’m only on page 15 of the 152-page manuscript. The majority of the time is taken up in thought. What attributes can I add to flesh out a character in a manner that makes the story better? How to I fill in scenes with action or dialog that help move the story forward? How will this change/addition affect characters and plots further along in the story? There are so many questions that must be Flower with beeconsidered before putting fingers to keyboard. Handwritten notes on my thoughts are placed in a separate notebook to refresh the memory as I move further into the book. It is a time-consuming process, a process that needs to be fitted into one’s life and the other activities that make it up.

Boquet of PinkThe writer/author has the final say as to what does or does not need changing. It is the editor’s job to bring those possible changes to the attention of that person. A thrilling but sometimes frustrating experience.

I’ve made it out with the camera and the cell phone solely for the purpose of taking photos again this past week. My back now seems to be fully recovered Mixed Rose 2and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to get behind the lens again free from pain. Photo-walks are one of my favorite things to do. I also did a little project with doodads around the apartment. Some turned out better than others. We are in the sunny days of fall here in Lima, Peru and the roses are in bloom again. Perfect for a man who loves to take pictures of flowers.

Pink RoseThree billion dollars in damage to infrastructure, over 700,000 homeless, and over 100 dead here in Peru after the floods and mudslides have subsided. Many are living in tent cities now trying to figure out how they will recover from this. It will be many years before things return to normal in the northern half of Peru. Lots of the blame can be spread to previous governments here. Corruption is at the head of the problems for this country. Mixed RoseSubstandard building techniques for roads and bridges, little thought to where buildings should and should not be built, bribes accepted in every level, and more are all parts of the problem. How will this new administration and future ones correct this behavior and ensure as much as possible the safety of their citizens? What does this event tell them about the damage that a new major quake in the Lima area will do to the capital?

BV 1On a personal note as an expat, the internet here at my apartment has sucked for the past week. It has been down for over that period for a total of twenty hours. Sour grapes, I know and probably sounds a little whiny after the last paragraph. Still, this is my major form of communication with the world and I miss it when it’s gone.

Friday evening cocktails with Mona and Kelly was a hoot as BV 2usual. It was funny listening to them argue about buying a thirty-dollar umbrella for the patio, one for and one against. Saturday’s meeting at the BV was a real blast. Our normal group expanded by one as our good friend Bob Lowry joined Dario, Mahlon, Larry, Carlo and me. It only expanded our normally incredible conversations to new levels. I was amazed at the changes they had made to the BV in our absence. They had built a new bar and expanded the area behind it for the workers, a new patio at the entrance and some subtle changes to the outdoor table areas all added to vase 1make it a better place. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet up with Kathy on Sunday. She had a sudden appointment with her lawyer. Now she is off to Ayacucho in the mountains for a visit with a friend of hers. All other friends and family are doing well.

Another post comes to an end. I hope it didn’t bore you too much. Remember to get up and get out – use it or lose it. I am still making progress on my efforts to get into better shape and staying active and off the couch are two important ingredients. They can be for you too.