Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's Rainy...... and It's Been Raining....

I'm just back from weekend up north of Quito, a rainy weekend at a 400 year old Spanish Hacienda called La Cusin. Haciendas are the Latin American version of our big cattle ranches, although my guess is that it's been a long time since La Cusin saw any cattle. The place has served as a monastery, a farm, and now as a hotel, a very nice hotel. I've been to the place many times, and I enjoy it every time. It's quiet, colonial, historic, and, when it's not raining, it's got beautiful sunny gardens - and all of this surrounded by mountains and off in the distance, a beautiful lake.

I'm putting a picture of the long entrance into this place to give you an idea of the scale of the place - and this isn't the whole length of the entrance, btw...

I started this posting on Tuesday, but I've been so busy on my business projects (cacao and chocolate; more on these things in later postings) that this posting has languished in draft for most of the week, in fact for so long that the weather, at long last has improved, and we've actually had a day and a half of sun, for god's sake.

In the meantime, I've had a couple of great chats with my kids in Washington and Panama, and it's nice to grow closer to them, especially after years of my not paying much attention to them, because of work, fatigue, and the general, chronic blahs...

The events of last year, which saw my retirement from a 30 year job and the breakup of my marriage after my affair with my secretary, threw me into a whole new lifestyle which I'm starting to enjoy after the first few months in which I was essentially in shock.

I gotta say that I feel much more relaxed, and what with the various nascent business ventures, photog classes, volunteer work and my girlfriend (my former secretary; yes I'm still with her), life is beginning to be fun. As well, as I say, I'm growing closer to my kids and writing/chatting with them more often. Given all this, the fact that I'm 59 and my acute sense of irony, this probably means that I'll be having a fatal heart attack in the near future - just when I'm starting to enjoy life....

Still, the last three/four months have made it worthwhile, so what the hell..

OK, I'll close this out so that something shows up at least every 10 days or so.

I hope the photo comes out this time!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I just read a blog which poses the paradox (and I'll put it as a question): Could it be that if you do well in writing in a supposedly private medium (blog), you'll eventually draw enough attention so as to limit your subject matter and/or shut you down? That's a decidedly chilling prospect, and I certainly hope that the lady blogger I refer to doesn't get chilled; she's really good.

On the other hand... I'm brand new (see the way I handle this blog!) to this business, so I have the real luxury of operating in anonymity and obscurity (no comments so far!).

It's kind of funny, paradoxical thing, I have not/not told anyone close to me in any way about this blog, because I sure as hell don't want them to know about it, but I feel kind of lonely because of.... the same lack of comments. Just can't make myself happy, huh?

I'm Better, Thanks!

....OK, well, not recovered completely, of course, but I am feeling better, thanks in good part to a hell of a lot better weather day (I think there a lot of hyphens missing, but what the hell..). It's a beautiful day here, and it does wonders for my morale, so psychologically/psychosomatically it's helped my health, or so I like to think. Anyway I know I'm using a lot fewer kleenexes, and that's an objective indicator of improvement, I believe.

In a little while, I'm going to my photo lab where I think we're doing contact sheets of the negatives I developed (first ones!) last week. I'm also taking four rolls of undeveloped film to develop, as well. I've been using Ilford 400 film which always comes well recommended, but when I scanned it and put it on my big screen Mac, it comes out really grainy. So I'm going to develop some Kodak Tmax 100, which has a much more efficient emulsion (t plaques), and the next time, I'm going to push it to 400 the next time I take photos to see if it really does come out nicer on the mac, as I'm told.

As I write this, I'm watching a B movie, "Terminal", with Tom Hanks. It's not all that well done, if you're into critiquing movies, but it's schmaltzy, and I'm a sucker for schmaltzy flicks. In fact, I get teary over these kinds of movies, which K finds very endearing; she loves my sentimental streak, and I love it that she loves that.

I like schmaltz because always (ok, usually) has a nice, happy ending, even uplifting, on occasion. And that appeals to me because I ultimately believe that things will turn nice for most of us. And you know what? Things do have a habit of turning out good. In fact, I believe that's the way things are going for me right now here. I've got my chocolate projects going ok, not great, but ok, and I'm doing volunteer work for a couple of local NGO's, and of course the photo class, which will go on for nine (9!) months (I tell you, it's a serious class).

And K, my K...... Well, that's going good too, real good, truth to tell. But my guess is that of all my projects, this will be the longest one of all, because I want to make it work, so that it's the last relationship in my life (long enough for you, dear reader?).

K's been taking the parallel digital photography class, and I'm attaching one of her photos, since mine aren't downloaded onto my laptop yet. The photo is of the interior of the old San Augustin convent in Old Town Quito. Quito is a treasure trove of Spanish Colonial and Republican architecture. This convent is oh, about 400 years old and has been beautifully restored. If you ever get a chance to come to Quito, do it, and bring a camera; it's a beautiful place. LATE NOTE! For some reason, I can't get the photo to upload; maybe next posting, with a little more experience in understanding how blogging works! take care.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm Lucky

At the end of a miserable, rainy day, all day, K showed up with hot chicken soup and while I was scarfing that down, she proceeded to hand squeeze a big mug of lemonade, which she heated, piping hot for my drinking pleasure - and to fight this shit cold I came down with on Sunday.....

Oh, K, my woman, my darling woman, you are an angel, I swear. We have our squabbles, that's for sure, but when you make me sit down, con calma, to drink my (her) soup and lemonade, I know that I am one lucky person. I guess, as time goes by, I'll talk more about how K and I came to be together. Suffice it to say right now, that I love this woman, I enjoy her, I care for her, and she cares for me. As I say, she gets on my nerves sometimes, but that's me, and my lazy need sometime to be alone, even after 23 years of marriage.

Right, marriage... In fact, legally, I'm still married, with my wife and son off in Panama setting up a new life for themselves (maybe; and I'll have to explain THAT as well, later). My plan right now is to ask for a divorce this coming summer, and after that, we'll see what happens with my relationship with K. She'd dearly love to marry me, I know, but we'll need to take this one step at a time - and that should NOT be taken as code for: later, much later, if ever...

K is a wonderful,loviing, and sexy woman (see photo, attached for concrete evidence of this last), and we see each other every day, and sleep together almost/almost every day.... We've gotten to be a steady item, as they say, and I hope it goes on for a long time to come; we'll see...

OK, I'll close out on this with photo of K (for inspiration, of course!)

Ah, Man, My Head Hurts

Boy, do I have a headache - and a cold - and a cough. And this is the second time this year. It's been a shit weather year here, with rain, cold, fog, and sometimes hail virtually every day. I should say that I've been here in Quito almost five years and this is absolutely the worst weather season I've seen. Anyway, I'm taking hot lemonade, and pretty quick, at the behest of my girlfriend, my maid is going to make me a combo lemonade, ginger root, and cinnamon (homemade remedies rule here!), which, if it doesn't cure me, will certainly take my mind off the cold. Blah.

I just got through writing my younger daughter an email in response to a craigslist posting she sent me. The gist of the posting was "nice girls" (defined as - I'm summarizing here - girls that don't go down on the first date, girls that try to help screwed up guys, only to be dumped, etc.) almost always finish last because they're well, too nice.

OK, I'm male, so I confess a certain bias on this, but I wrote my daughter to say that not ALL males are self-absorbed, dysfunctional, sex-crazed beings whose only goal is to bed as many women as possible and then leave them.

The most important point I made is that she (my daughter) is a wonderful, intelligent, pretty, engaging, self-secure, and just damn nice person. I told her to rely on her sense of judgement of people, and obviously, their intentions, in dealing with men. I told her that she needs to take care of herself, and try not to get hurt (not guaranteed!), but not at the cost of becoming cynical, burned out, or distrustful of all men; there are some nice people out there, after all..

Well, we'll see how she responds. She's such a great person, and I'm really proud, proud, proud of her. I've inserted a photo of her and some friends (hope it comes out right side up!) That's her in black, third from the left, 18 years of age when this photo was taken a school last Halloween. I'm so lucky that I'm her father!

Friday, February 17, 2006

End of the Week and.....

The last couple of days have sort of been technical days, if you will. I spent a little more time learning how to use various aspects of blogger, including settng my first link to a blog I've always admired, Sahalie Falling. She's a hell of a writer; it's always nice to read her postings.

There are several other blogs I'll link up to, time permitting. I say that because I'm involved in a couple of business endeavors involving chocolate, one a chocolate/coffee cafe which I'm setting up with some partners, and a second which involves one of the first serious, purely Ecuadoiran efforts to manufacture world-class, gourmet chocolate and export it to the U.S. and Europe.

On top of that, I'm taking film photography classes for the first time, years after I'd stopped taking film photos. I developed my first three rolls of film, just days after reading a NYT article that noted that film sales are just 15% of what they were six to eight years ago. Boy, talk about catching a dying fad - just kidding, I've had a digital camera since 2002. Anyway, the photo classes have been interesting, and it's also given me reason to take up the use of my Mac G4 and Nikon slide/film scanner which have languished in the family room for some time.

The Mac and scanner got a lot of use when the kids were with me, but not since they left for the States and Panama last August. Anyway, I just got through cleaning up the slide and film trays for the scanner and I tried the film tray out on the first film I developed earlier this week. It's all black and white stuff developed at the nice labs of the Aliance Francais, where I'm taking the classes.

K, my Ecuadorian girl friend is taking the digital photo class at the Aliance, which allows us to go out together taking photos together. It's fun, and so is she.

Speaking of her, here's a photo I took of her when we were in San Francisco last November:

I've taken some photos of her in black and white which I'll scan to the Mac later, and I have any luck at photo management, etc., eventually they'll show up at this address as well. One thing I do know for sure, I'll have to learn how to put photos in the blog, right size up, but bear with me, one step at a time...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

One Year Ago......

Valentine's Day.

Let me tell you a story.

On this day, one year ago, I sat at the head of a table in my office and looked at 45 of my colleagues sitting and standing around that table with puzzled looks on their faces.

Four of the people in the room already knew what I was going to say; the looks on their faces ranged from sad to tearful....

I took a deep breath and proceeded to shock the room by telling them that it had come to the attention of my bosses that I was having an affair with my secretary, who sat to my immediate right in the meeting. While my bosses had done nothing, I announced that I was relieving myself of my responsibilities and turning them and my post over to my deputy effective immediately. I told all assembled I wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to my wife, my secretary, and my colleagues for having let them all down.

The response from everyone was not what I had expected. People began to cry, and others came forward to say that I had nothing to apologize for, that they cared about me and my secretary deeply, and that everyone stood behind me. My secretary cried, reasonably enough and some came forward to comfort her. Others came forward to shake my hand, and hug me, with many of them crying as they did so. One guy told me that what I did was the bravest thing he'd ever seen.

We stood up and entire room formed a kind of receving line (or more like a condolence line, I suppose) to say goodbye....

And we did, and that was last time I saw my crew, in tears and me too...

Anyway, it's a year later now, and I'm still here in Quito and so is everyone else. I'm separated from my wife, not surprisingly, and while I don't live with my secretary, we see each other every day and most nights, but not all, we are together.

Things are calmer now, and I daresay, happier. At the same time, the scars are there, and healing, but still sensitive, very sensitive. Time has gone by, and the trauma is fading. But more time will be needed for me to really get my bearings, I think...

One year later, and where is this all going?

Don't know yet, but maybe these postings will help answer that question.....

Sunday, February 12, 2006

....Where I'm from, where I was: the Central California coast. Trivia pursuit question: Anyone know what the island-like (hint! it's not!) promontory in the distance is called?

I created this blog as successor to a blog I'd placed on Xanga, with the same name. I set up a blog in Xanga because my 16 year old son had a blog there, and I had no sense at all of the different blog cultures.... In the case of Xanga, as blog veterans know, it's oriented toward teens/twenty-somethings, so my blog was pretty much ignored by all members of the Xanga community.

Anyway, I posted to that blog for about six weeks, as I recall, and then dropped it with nary a comment. I should say that I started that blog as a result of a series of tough personal problems, and at the suggestion of a lady who didn't even know what a blog was, but who, apprised of their existence and nature, thought that I might benefit from setting one up; and so I did.

As I said, after resounding lack of response to that blog, I stopped posting to it around August 21.

I should say that another reason for stopping had to do with that fact that my emotional state was slowly improving after several tumultuous months which saw the end of my marriage and my retirement from my job after a 30 year career. My family and I had split up, and I was living alone for the first time in almost 23 years. Those events threw me into an emotional tailspin, and caused me, an ordinarily unexpressive person, to start writing a blog.

The thing is, I tend to be lazy, frankly, and after a certain period of healing, I no longer saw a need to continue with my posts - so I didn't.

After another period of time, though, it occurred to me that doing something, anything, might be worthwhile, so when I stumbled across the google/blogger site, I opened one up and...... did nothing for over three months.

Now, after all that time, I'm going through another stressful period, less stressful than the last, I'll admit, but stressful nevertheless, and so, after months of silence, this posting.

I'm back.

More later, L

P. S. I don't know why, but the profile section shows me as being in Equatorial Guinea. I'm not there, I'm in Ecuador!