Archive for March, 2011

Always Writing, Writers’ Group, Blood Tests and More, General Thoughts

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Larry and I took on writing five chapters each this week. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are excited and anxious to finish the first draft of the book. I finished my fifth one this morning and have sent them all to Larry. So far, I’ve only received one from him. We have our weekly meeting tomorrow so I guess I’ll find out what happened then. These last chapters are important. They must be exciting and come to an end that will make the readers of the book want to read the second book. Speaking of the second book, we have only outlined it in the vaguest of details. It will be a continuation of book one that will take place a few years later. I know that we are going to have to work out the timeline and broad details before we start writing. That will be totally different from the way we started this one. I’m still working on some other stories also. One may turn into a novella and I am looking to finish a short story on our main hero to sell to a detective magazine. Lots of work to do.

I successfully made it to the gym four days this week and plan on going again this morning, which will make it five. Have to work off some extra calories I got from eating pizza last night. I can tell I am losing a little weight. I still haven’t bought a scale for the house but hope to get one soon. I’d like to be 10 pounds lighter than I was when I moved to Peru as I make my trip back in October for a visit.

We had our writers’ group meeting on Thursday. Larry submitted a nice little piece for us to critique. It’s about a married couple from two different countries trying to decide where they will live in retirement. A nice humor piece. Afterwards we sat around and chatted about things that affect our lives as expatriates. We always have a lively discussion at the end of our meetings.

Before the meeting, I had to go to Clinica Good Hope to get my blood work and X-ray done in preparation for my annual check up on Monday. A benefit of my insurance here is a FREE annual checkup with blood work and chest X-ray. Everything went very smooth; I got in and out of the department quickly and confirmed my appointment with the physician in plenty of time to make it to the meeting. I even had time to stop in Café Z for eggs, toast and bacon before heading over to the patio.

I went to a movie with Antonio again this week. We saw “Unknown,” starring Liam Niesson (not sure I spelled that right). It was a great film, full of exciting chase scenes and unexpected twists in the plot. I give it a four Llama rating on my five Llama scale. It’s definitely worth seeing in the theater.

That’s it for a few more days. I’m still having a blast living here in Lima Peru. You can tell that fall is starting to settle in. There is a small chill in the air now, the kind that I love and most of my friends hate. Most of the plants have lost their blooms and I am sure that all the gardeners are getting ready to put out their winter flowers. Have a fantastic few days everyone. Remember, “Tempus Fugit,” so enjoy every moment to the fullest.

The Novel, Getting to the Gym, Meeting with Larry, Another Year’s Lease

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

It think it’s incredible the way time seems to whiz by unnoticed. I get busy or involved in one thing or another and the next thing I know five days or a week has passed. Because of that, here I am again five days later posting another entry into my blog when I swore I wouldn’t let more than four days pass. That brings me to the novel Larry and I are writing. I wrote the first chapter on May 18, 2010. Here it is almost a year later and we are twenty chapters away from finishing the book. It’s hard for me to believe that we have been working on this for so long. I guess it’s like anything else that is fun or that you enjoy, “tempus fugit,” has been a saying for a long time.

Over the weekend I outlined the last of the chapters in the book. It will be 148 chapters with an epilogue. That means we have 20 chapters and the epilogue left to write and then it will be done. We decided to increase the number of chapters to five each that we will write each week. That means we should be done with the book in three weeks at the most. We also went over the last six chapters we had written and discussed ideas for the book to follow this one. I hope we will end up with a three book series before we are finished. More will follow them if they become popular.

The one thing that I am happiest about as of this writing is my rededication to exercising. I made it to the gym 4 days last week and hope to make it four days again this week. Eventually I want to get back to a five day/week routine and increase my strength as well as lose some weight along the way. All to be accomplished before I return to the States for a visit in October. I can already tell that I am making progress but I do need to get to the store and buy a scale to keep track of my weight.

I went to lunch at Las Mesitas with Steve, Antonio and Ruben this past week. Instead of my usual Aji de Gallina, I had the Tacu Tacu with a couple of appetizers. I really love the food there and their Aji de Gallina is still the best I have tasted in Peru. Steve loves the Seco or the Cau Cau and usually gets an order to bring home too. We were originally going to Sarritas but the traffic was too horrendous. I also made up the contract for the landlady and will sign another year’s lease for this apartment. I love it here, the place is larger than the house I had in the US. Also, Chichi, the landlady is adorable and a real sweetheart. I am still looking to buy though, I just haven’t found the right place yet.

Health Insurance, Writing, Meetings, the Gym, A Movie

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Wow, that was a fast five days. I seem to forget about updating this site from time to time. My goal is to add to the content every three to four days but sometimes that just doesn’t work out. I guess that’s one of the perils when you are having a lot of fun in your retirement. One of the things I accomplished this week was renewing my Health Insurance. For those who don’t know and those that don’t remember, my insurance is with the Clinica Good Hope. A hospital and Clinic ran by the 7th Day Adventists. I believe that all of the physicians working at this facility speak English, which is the reason I picked it. Anyway, last year my insurance for a full year cost $285, this year the cost was $296. Not because the insurance had gone up but because the exchange rate for the dollar/sole is terrible right now. The renewal get me a free checkup that includes blood work, X-rays and a visit with the doctor. I checked recently and I can’t even get Medicare Supplemental for $296 a MONTH. Healthcare in the USA is ridiculous.

I went to a movie with Antonio this week also. It was the “Time of the Witch” movie with Nicholas Cage. The first part of the movie dragged for me but the end was full of action and excitement. Nicholas Cage must be on drugs or something. I used to love him in any part. These days, he pretty much sucks in everything I have seen him do. Rating = 2.5 Llamas. Wait for it to some out on DVD unless you are just totally bored.

My friend Kathy left to return to the US this week. She will be spending 3 months in California with maybe a few side trips. She has lots of business to take care of and a few health issues that need looking into. I’ll miss our coffees together while she is gone.

The novel keeps progressing. Larry and I met Monday morning to try to hash out the end of the book. I think we have our final chapters outlined; I just need to put them in order and make sure we haven’t left any loose ends. I think we are still on track to finish the book by the end of April. Thursday the writers’ group met for the first time in three weeks. We didn’t have a piece to go over so we discussed our goals for the year as writers. Mine is to submit, have published and be paid for at least one piece this year. I have put out a feeler for other writers to join us; I feel we are getting in a rut.

That’s it for my few days. Hoppe all of you got whatever you needed to accomplished. I didn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in my usual fashion. Time changes all. I do miss those glory days though when all my friends and I thought we were indestructible. Have a great weekend and hug a friend.

A Walk Around the Neighborhood (San Borja)

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Writing isn’t my only major source of entertainment here in Peru. I also love taking my cameras out and shooting a load of photographs. This usually involves a walk around my neighborhood. The district of Lima that I live in is called San Borja. I have a really nice apartment here and the area is beautiful and safe. I like taking long walks, especially in the early morning and late afternoon when the light is the best. There are numerous parks in the area, you can hardly walk three or four blocks without running into one.

The parks themselves range from small to large but all are beautifully landscaped and usually have a path for walking, running or biking. Sunday mornings here, people are encouraged to get out and exercise. Besides closing off some streets for biking enthusiasts, they have exercise stations located all over the place. The streets were packed this morning when I went for my walk. Everyone was friendly too, greeting me as they passed me by.

The parks are full of flowers and trees. Also, fountains and ponds filled with geese and colorful Japanese Carp can be found in a few. Other fountains spray water up out of the ground for children to run through playing and staying cool while their parents keep a watchful eye. As noted in a previous post, I love taking photos of flowers but there are other things that catch my eye also. A few interesting ones are in the post.

Another six chapters have been completed and edited in the book. We didn’t have our writers’ group meeting this week, Victoria had to work. That gave me some additional time to work on a couple of short stories. I think we are still on schedule to finish the book by the end of April. Then the serious editing will have to start.

Friday night I went to the movies with Antonio and saw “I am Number Four.” I thought it was a great SciFi/Action/Thriller. The aliens were nasty, the heros handsome and beautiful and the puppy lives in the end. The story line was interesting and I hope they will make a second movie.

Friday I met my friend Kathy for coffee in Barranco. She will be heading back to the USA for three months this coming Tuesday. That’ll be one less meeting and one less excuse for not going to the gym. I have been making it three days a week but I really need to increase that to four and eventually five. Gotta stay fit so I can enjoy my retirement.

I hope you all had a geed weekend and will have a great week.

Writing and more writing

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

My life definitely revolves around the keyboard these days. For some odd reason I thought when I retired from my work at SIH in the Information Technology department, I would not spend as much time at a computer. I guess that it has gone down some; I only spend about 6 hours a day working at the computer instead of ten. Since the last entry, I have spent most of my time writing. On Saturday and Sunday, I worked on a short story and did some revisions on a couple of chapters. Monday morning I went to the “Patio,” where I meet Larry (on Mondays) and the Writers’ Group (on Thursdays). I like going early, it’s very quiet and relaxing there and I seem to be able to get some significant work done before the others show up. Larry had sent me a chapter late Sunday and I spent the morning editing it before working my latest short story a bit. After Larry arrived, we started discussing the chapters written in the past week and then worked on what we wanted to happen in the next few chapters. Things are going well and I do believe we will have finished the first draft of the book by the end of April.

Tuesday I managed to get 1½ chapters finished and hope to get 1½ more done today. After that, I will try to finish the short story I am working on, a morality tale on “vanity.” I am managing 1500 to 2000 words a day when I write but I am having trouble seeing myself at 3000. I guess I will just have to keep plugging along. By the way, I still haven’t found the short story I lost.

I have done a good job of getting to the gym the past week and will continue to make an effort to keep that up. Staying healthy of body and mind is important if you want to be a success at writing. Although, I’m sure there are many successful writers that would disagree with that statement.

Saturday afternoon, I had lunch with Kathy. She drove here to San Borja to meet me and we went to a little restaurant that specializes in food from Trujillo. She will be leaving for a visit to the US next Tuesday. She plans to stay for three months. I think there are many personal matters that she has to take care of. I’ll miss out weekly meeting while she is gone. Lot’s of drama in her life. The get togethers are always interesting. Well, that’s enough for this entry. Need to get started on those chapters.

More Writing, Saritas, Dinner at Mangos, a Movie

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

I’ve been hard at it this week, pounding the keys on my computer till my fingers bleed. LOL  I also have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn if you are buying that. I finished my three chapters early in the week and tried working on a short story but the Muse has taken flight and it was like pulling teeth to get the words out. I don’t care what anyone tells you, writing can be hard work, enjoyable but hard. Larry sent me two of his chapters last night so I will work on editing those today and wait for his third one. The short story I started is coming along. It’s a takeoff on Sleeping Beauty but with a twist. So far, I think it’s working out well. It will be posted on the Peru Writers’ Group blog when we have it back up in April. I also seem to have lost a 3000 word short story I was working on that involved our hero in the novel. I can’t imagine what could have happened to it. It has just disappeared and I have searched through all my hard drives. Frustrating to say the least. My next project will be a short story from the perspective of a woman. I saw it as a writing challenge on one of the writing web sites I look at from time to time.

Steve took me out to Saritas this week for Tamals and a Chicarron sandwich. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too warm, and I always enjoy the drive. We also went to Mangos for dinner Thursday night. It was nice sitting in the restaurant looking out on the ocean at night and having a great meal. I’m still making it to the gym on a regular basis. It’s been hard getting back into my regular routine there. It seems like something is always coming up that gets in the way and I have to rearrange the day I go on. Hopefully things will settle down soon and I will be able to go the 5 days a week I am planning on.

I saw “The King’s Speech” this week. I thought it was a great movie but then I really like period pieces. They certainly presented a different picture of Wallis Simpson in the movie than what has been portrayed over the years. I give it a must see rating.

Time for me to get to work on Larry’s chapters. Hope you all have a great weekend.

The Book and Short Stories, Meetings with Friends, The Gym, A Movie

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Work on the book continues at our regular pace. We tend to get 6 – 8 chapters a week done along with the editing I do. If we had started out at that pace, we would have finished the book in six months. Oh well, lesson learned and when we start the second book, I hope we will continue that pace. I met with Larry on Monday for our weekly meeting about the book and the chapters we had just finished. It went well, he liked the revisions I had done and then we picked out the three chapters each that we would write this coming week. After that, we discussed the next 20 chapters that I had outlined and went over them individually adding or taking out things. Larry and I hope that after these 20, we will be able to finish the book in another 15. It might be another 20 but regardless, we should be done by the end of April. That will make it 2 weeks shy of a year since we started the book.

Larry has taken one of the short stories I started on our hero “Rodriguez” and is going to rework it into more of a mystery. I got myself a little boxed in on the story and couldn’t figure a way out so he will be helping me out on this one. I will still be working on the second short story and am progressing well with it.

I met with Kathy on Friday at Brujas de Cachiche for an overpriced buffet lunch this past week. After tip it came to almost $45 or S/.100 Soles. First off, I don’t like eating at a buffet and secondly, with my pallet, there is no food in the world worth that price. For a buffet meal, it was good but I can get everything I ate there, that tastes just as good, for a whole lot less. At least it included a glass of overpriced wine. I also met with Tim and Lourdes on Sunday for lunch. I hadn’t seen either of them in several weeks. They seemed to be getting along fine and all was well in their lives. Tim will be returning to Canada in July and hopefully Lourdes will get a visa and be able to accompany him.

I’ve been making it to the gym for the last couple of weeks, at least three times. This week I hope to increase it to four days. It feels good to be exercising with weights again and I definitely need to take off a few pounds. The Gold’s Gym that I belong to has expanded their space and added a lot of new equipment. As a result, it is a lot less crowded in the afternoon when I go. I’m still walking a lot and I do walk back and forth to the gym which adds about 30 minutes to my two hour workout routine. I have to be in good shape when I return home in October.

Last night I watched the movie “Hereafter” with Matt Damon. It was definitely disappointing. Half the movie was in French with subtitles which threw me off a little. I don’t know how people can watch an entire movie with subtitles. I just can’t read fast enough to follow the dialog and watch the action on screen at the same time.

Well, that’s another entry under the belt. I realize I have been negligent on the photos recently but I hope to get out soon on a little photo safari to share with all of you. Have a great week everyone.