andreamgilson

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Kind Encounter

Kind Encounter- A few minutes with Kind

Kind regarded me through one eye peeking from behind the dark hoodie that shaded most of his face. In truth, I had noticed him the minute he sat down across from me. Young, tall, and mysterious, my baser humanity drew to him immediately. He seemed to have no purpose there. In reality neither did any of us, we only pretended to. He did not but only sat still looking at me trying not to look at him.

Eventually he asked me what I was working on. What did he want? Perhaps money, it looked like he needed some. I told him the truth which I immediately regretted although it did not agitate him.  He had stepped on a nail and wanted me to inspect it thinking me a doctor from my white shoes and cargo slacks which he mistook for medical scrubs.

I wanted to inspect his foot only to get nearer him but better sense took charge and I told him I was no doctor and that his mom or an actual doctor should look after him. He shrugged at these suggestions and my intrigue grew. Did he really have an injured foot? I tried to help by telling him to drink lots of water or maybe alcohol to drive any infection away. I wished to put those words back between my lips but too late.

I offered that I was a writer and he wanted to read something. Instead of handing the laptop to him I recited my website for his future inspection. Did I think he would run off with my manuscripts? He was alluring so I gathered my things and made my exit. Turning back to him, I offered my hand and asked his name. His grasp was electric but too soft.  Kind he said. I left wondering about his life and wanting to know him. It would not have been a wise choice, I continued out.

 

Five Minute Poem for Pedja

Five minute poem for Pedja

 

Often times we find ourselves wading through the mire of our life--

What’s the use?

                                Where can I turn?

Why bother trying?

                                                                How can I get through it?            

                                                                                When will I feel right?

                                                                                                Who can I trust?

 

Each question underlies

                                                                                                Our strife

Look upward toward the skies-

Red Bus # 28

A few paces away from the counter on my way to the door, I stop. Briefly registering the problem in my mind, I stand looking at the ground. I turn and retrace my steps with my eyes. The look on my face portrays panic, because the bank teller asks me if I am all right. My pack, it is not here. That bus, just now. I left my pack on that bus.

I had disembarked the bus on Columbus Street. I was not sure of my plans, but when I saw the bank, I thought I should change out my remaining U.S. dollars to last me the remainder of my trip. I walked into the Bank of New Zealand, all set to make plans for the rest of the day. I did not realize that my hands felt light. It only took five minutes to discover that my backpack may be taking a field trip of its own. I explained to the blonde woman with the pleasant accent what had happened. She asked what bus I rode into town and I said “Red Bus #28.” I could not believe what happened next, she reached under the counter and found a directory. Dialing Red Bus Metro, she inquired on my behalf if a black and red backpack had turned up on the bus inbound to Christchurch. The episode had just transpired, so I thought it too soon for the driver to have recovered the pack. The dispatchers send out word about the problem and I thanked the woman for her kindness.

For the first time, I grasped the fact that I was in a foreign country separated from all my belongings except my purse (thank God). When traveling, I stay in hostels, which cost only fifteen to twenty dollars each night. The accommodations are shared rooms with bunk beds. Not knowing whom I will be sharing a room with at any given time, I carry my backpack around with me. I pack extremely light so it is no burden. The shoulder strap on my purse allows me to sling the bag across my chest leaving my hands free.

 Once outside the bank, I stood on the sidewalk with my thoughts bouncing about in my mind. What should I do?  I remain calm while praying for guidance. I believe that everything happens for a reason so I tried to hold onto that comfort. The situation could be a lot worse. After all, my passport, wallet, airline itinerary, and key to my room are in my purse. Years of reading travel books paid off with the advice of keeping all absolute vitals on your person at all times.

As reason returned, I knew that this bus must be on a circuitous loop through the city. It would return to this location eventually. I crossed the street to the exact place the bus would stop on its way out of the city to Lyttleton. Staring down the street, I willed the #28 to come towards me. I realized it might be a long wait. I tried not to think of how the rest of my trip would go if I could not recover my pack. I would have to but a new pack, clothes, and toiletries.

I removed my sweatshirt and placed it on the sidewalk to sit on. I leaned my right shoulder against the brick storefront so I could face the oncoming traffic. All the buses servicing Christchurch used this stop, so I had to use vigilance in watching all the numbers and the directions of the buses. I began reliving the events of the morning in my mind.

I woke to the alarm in my room realizing that the two British guys that had been sharing the room had moved on. The trip ended in two more days, and I wanted to get to Lyttleton Harbor today. I dressed, then packed my things (clothes, books, souvenirs, and such) and walked to the square where the information center was. I purchased a ticket for the Christchurch gondola. The bus did not depart for a while and there was a Starbucks nearby, so I bought coffee and two different kinds of sweets for my breakfast.

 I follow an ‘anything goes’ attitude toward eating when touring.  On this trip, almost every night I ate Indian food. It is a popular ethnic choice in New Zealand. “Two Fat Indians” was a great restaurant that I passed every time I went back and forth to my hostel. Although both brothers were quite slender, the name and painting on the front doors was inviting. They welcomed me as a regular by the time I left for Sydney.

The bus dropped us off at the gondola too early to go in, but I enjoyed my food and looked over my photos on my new digital camera. I had to change the batteries again. These cameras are hard on batteries, good thing I had extras in my pack. When the door opened, the people waiting outside entered and formed a line by the ticket counter. I already had a ticket, so I did not have to wait in line. I entered the gondola car and an attendant took my photo. Rising up the side of the mountain, I viewed Christchurch in the distance. I also concentrated on the ground beneath the car. I had grown to love the geography of New Zealand, and wanted my mind to freeze frame every detail. There before me were the things I love the most, mountains and the ocean.

A tourist center awaited me at the landing. There I browsed the gift shop for almost an hour. I looked at everything, than decided on two refrigerator magnets. I enjoyed an animated tour of the history of New Zealand. I loved it. I learned more about the volcanic beginnings of the islands, the indigenous Maori, and about famous people. My favorite New Zealander is Sir Edmund Hillary. He claimed the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. I have always enjoyed reading stories about mountain adventures, and this was the feat of feats.

 I climbed a set of stairs into the café where I ordered a sandwich. It did not taste as good as it looked, so after throwing most of it away, I ordered some sconces and milk. Where I sat facing east, I saw the Southern Ocean. I saw the Harbor that I had been watching on the live web cam for months in one direction, the Southern Alps in another, Christchurch to the north, and open-ocean to the east. Finished with lunch, I went outside. I walked the deck pausing briefly on benches to ingest everything I saw. After a very long linger, I headed back to the gondola for the descent.

The same attendant waited to sell me my photo package. I intended to decline, but after her pitch and seeing the contents, I paid the thirty-five dollars. It included several postcards, that I knew my dad, sister, and friends would enjoy and an interactive CD. I waited outside for the return bus to Christchurch. I spent longer than two hours at the top; therefore, I had to pay the return bus fare.

The ride took twenty minutes and I passed the time absorbing the people and shops through the window. Noticing the Bank of New Zealand on the left, I quickly yanked on the signal cord so the bus would not get too far ahead of the bank.  When the bus stopped, I got off and walked back a few buildings to the bank.  

***

I am still here; many buses and thirty minutes have passed.  Wait, bus #28 is turning the corner. I stand and wave, then draw back realizing the driver is not the same as the thin man that drove my inbound bus. Blimy, I feel agitated now. A post office is in the building behind me, I go inside to buy stamps for my postcards if I ever recover them. I am nervous standing in line. I may miss the right bus #28 when it arrives. The line moves quickly and I return to my vigil.

I start to think there is no chance of regaining my pack. So much time has passed. If I find the right bus, certainly my pack will not be there anymore. Bus after bus pulls up in front of me.  Finally, I see a thin man with glasses and messy brown hair wrestle his bus around the corner. Looking up at the marquee, I read 28 Lyttleton. I wave and jump onto the bus. The driver seems to be waiting while I pay. Of course, he has no reason to remember me. I tell my story and race to the rear where I sat earlier. Undisturbed on the right side window seat is my backpack. Whew, now this I cannot believe.  When I leave, the driver says simply, “You got lucky.”

 

 

Serendipity Saturday

 

I fell in love on Saturday, with my son.  He is eighteen and I met him last week. The mystery of maternal love I never knew I possessed is hard on all of my senses.

I have a new perspective on everything. That is a phrase you hear parents say but now I understand. He has quickly become my reason to live and to accelerate my life so he will be proud of me. I am proud of him even though I had nothing to do with his upbringing. His adoptive parents have done for me what I could not do for myself.

Looking at him, I see my own eyes, my own gnarly hairline, my own lip shape, but thankfully not my bulbous nose. Tall, dark, and handsome, he delights in embracing life with whimsy. Just like me. Okay maybe just the tall, dark, and whimsical part.

His parents have taught him to respect others and act politely as much as an eighteen year old possible can. I love him. Separated again by 2600 miles, I ache for him constantly.

 Skeptical of invasive social media at large, I have been converted completely since he ‘friended’ me a few months ago. He waited until the time was right for him, his parents, and me. Over the years, his mother and I have been in touch given the open arrangement. I never met the special parents that took my newborn as their own until hours after I met him at a coffee shop near his home.

They opened their home and hearts wholeheartedly during my visit back east.  It became apparent that this couple wanted to be parents more than anything.  I watched home movies, enjoyed live family concerts, toured the home where my boy grew up, and met his adventurous brother and his lovely girlfriend.

A few things I noticed about him during our days together that pleased me greatly were that he wears collared shirts, gives his girlfriend his coat in the cold and picks up random garbage to dispose of properly. And he loves cheese.

When I praised his personality, he remarked that he hoped that my biology had something to do with it. I have leaned more toward nurture as opposed to nature in these questions but hope that as I get to know him more, I will see myself in him other than the obvious fact that looking at him is like looking in the mirror.

What a strange and wonderful gift.

 

Cape point,  South Africa- My day on the edge of the world

I stood looking from the cliff down at The Cape of Good Hope. It seemed too tiny to be the original landing spot of the pioneers of exploration and their ships full of men and supplies. It was as I had read, the only landing point.

I imagined Captain James Cook walking up and down this beach stopping at campfires in the evening talking with his men about staying longer or leaving to the next adventure. They surely wondered if they would starve to death or if they would ever see their families again. They would have had the full view of the sun setting behind the blue horizon to the west; nothing but water, the closest continent thousands of miles that way.

The turquoise water frothed as it met the rocks below my vantage. My attention drawn out to sea by the deepening shades of blue, I marveled that I stood at the end of the world. Not far from shore, where the water still flowed over the continental shelf, I saw a mast coming out of the water. I wondered which unfortunate group of men had sailed upon that vessel and had they made it here to the shore. The sharks are notorious in this part of the world.

I had passed the original lighthouse behind me, crossing the barriers meant to stop people like me from getting this close to the cliffs. I happily discovered that if I had not chanced the rocky hike to this point, I would not have seen the new lighthouse.  It was below the cliff level at the very tip of Cape Point. Too many vessels had crashed into Africa. The old lighthouse was too far away from the danger zone. It would have been my greatest pleasure to have been here at night in the blackness to see that beacon sweep the water.

The square base of the lighthouse nestled in amongst the lime green moss-covered rocks that were maybe millions of years old. I saw into the round white tip of the beacon house to the light. It looked like a giant fan from my perspective. Painted bright white, it contrasted against the deep blue water beyond it. 

I saw no animals here on land even though a sign heading up the path to the tourist area had read, “Look out for baboons.”  I did get to have the unique pleasure of witnessing two mating right whales. I first noticed them as I climbed my way along a path on the east side of the jutting point.  Once I climbed onto the plateau of the strip of land, I watched them swim and frolic all the way around the tip of the continent and make off into the ocean to the west. Their huge bodies churned up the water into a white frame around them.

I remained for many hours. I laid my hands on the earth proving to myself that I was really there. The air was strong from the marine life and the ocean itself. I took a sample of sand from Seal Beach in Cape Town. I did the right thing by sealing my glass jar with the sediments still wet. I can relive the smells in the air that day by taking a sniff.  All I heard was the noise of water meeting land after its thousands of miles fetch.

I had met a friend in Cape Town that was from Pretoria. He did not share my delight at what I was experiencing. I would not be drawn away until I finished coming to terms with my point on the globe; which was, by the way, 340 21’24” south latitude and 18029’51” east longitude.

When darkness grew near though, I knew the hike back would be dangerous. Grateful, after all, that he had been there to photograph me with my arms spread out to indicate my pleasure of the endless blue beyond, I turned away.     

Mumblings and Grumblings

 Powder sky over quartz carpet and satin sea.

Earth’s energy serving pain.

Can I get a cloud, please?

I will die out here, or go insane.

Get off of me.

Get off of me.

 Rain, what’s the chance?

Heaven’s black, serving bolts and cracks.

I decide with a glance.

Good, here’s the breeze.

On my face and in the trees.

Precious water, sweet relief.

Precious water, sweet relief.

 

 

 

 

 

Bushel Basket- I finally gave Dad exactly what he wanted for the Holidays

My package for Dad was the largest under the tree. The plastic stand-in scraped the ceiling, dazzled with white lights, and almost blocked the entire view of the snow storm out of the window. My aunt peeked into the living room from the kitchen with a pot-holder on her hand and half-way up her arm. Her short cropped hair had turned white from blonde without my noticing. At my sister’s home, the family had gathered each for their own reasons. The men to watch football, the children anticipating their new toys, everyone to eat, and myself to see my dad’s reaction to the gift I had made for him.

My newest niece Jennifer, bald and beautiful, wiggled around on my lap pulling my hair and chewing on it. Everyone sat huddled together on the couch; the smallest on the floor around the spillage of gifts that took up most of the room. Turkey, stuffing, and best of all, yams were baking and the smell was sweet and savory. My aunt finally pulled a high- back Windsor chair into the doorway from the kitchen and we knew it was gift time.

Steve had his ear on the music that was plugged into one ear while he leaned over his mom to hand out his gifts. Someone said, “Whose gift is that; lets open it and get it out of the way.” That was my cue and I put the baby into the waiting arms of my sister who was already busy putting batteries into someone’s new camera.   

“Dad, that big one is for you from me, open it up.” He looked surprised. Like most dad’s mine is always happy with anything even just a phone call which is often what he gets from me. This year I was able to get him exactly what he had asked for. Everyone moved out of the way as I slid the Santa Clause and reindeer foil covered gift across the paper and tinsel littered carpet. Leaning close to my sister, I got a whiff of her perfume and hoped that scent was buried for me under the tree. I got the camera ready, checking the settings. The room was dark with the tree blocking out the stark light and with so many people crowded around.

Dad had a cut on his hand and a child’s holiday colored Band-Aid laid across his knuckles; he’s a tough guy so he was being a sport to humor one of the children. His scarred and rough hands opened the bow, he peered inside and raised his head slowly, recognition coming slowly. He looked my way with a

smile, raised his glasses a little and I think I saw a tear there. I had done well for someone without a crafty bone in my body.

When asking him in passing what he had wanted for Christmas this year, he had said, jokingly, “A bushel basket full of fifties.” That is just what he got.

I had giggled at his wish, but later, dug deep into the neglected right-hand side of my brain and developed a plan. It was easy to get the bushel basket, I just asked for one from a friend that had a fruit stand, making sure to be picky. No plum or pepper stains, please. Of course, I could not afford to fill it with real money, but fabricated loads of bucks.

I was clever, but some cynical people told me that I had better make the money look unrealistic enough to avoid a counterfeiting charge (of course, he wouldn’t tell, but who could be sure about the people at the copy store.)

Using green printer paper, I copied the front and back of a real fifty dollar bill. Ran off oodles of copies, trimmed the sheets, folder them over and stapled them in place. Daddy was going to get a kick out of this.

In the bottom of the basket I placed some of the usual gifts for fathers that have everything: sweater, leather gloves, and a couple of gift cards to his favorite places. I placed a few pieces of newspaper on top of those things, tucked under the edges, and placed several layers of the faux-cash over the top to the rim. I finished by wrapping it up in one of those giant gift bags, and placed it under the tree or rather against the tree.

I was proud to see the smile on his face and the laughter of my relatives’ when he opened the package. It was funnier than the prior Christmas when I sat on Santa’s lap as a full grown woman at Macy’s and framed the shot for him. The whole family was happy with their gifts; I did not get the hoped-for perfume from my sister, but did mention it to her. Maybe she would remember. 

 

 

You don't have to be a marathon veteran to call yourself a runner

Don’t wait to live near a picturesque park or beach to get started toward better health through running. Treadmills and city streets count too. Walk first than add a tiny burst of jogging; as little as one minute at a time if you’ve never tried it before. Without realizing it, your jogging time will increase. Jogging is running; no need to break any records.

Learning to run is an easy way to add physical activity into your life without expense.  A comfortable pair of sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt is all you will need. It is easy to start because there doesn’t have to be any commitment. You will set goals for yourself the longer you continue. Unless you have a health condition to limit you, you will look forward to your runs on your own schedule. Starting the day with a short run is my choice.

Get up early, run for half an hour, return home, go back to sleep, and then start your regular routine. The best part of running is the freedom to customize your routine. Late at night may work for you. If you like the treadmill, make it a social event at the nearby community center or gym with your friends.  Many town facilities memberships are free or next to nothing of you are a resident.  Schools have tracks to run on, this is an easy way to gauge your distance. Take the dog along.

Eating well and staying hydrated will help you enjoy your runs.  You don’t have to run every day to be a runner. My former running schedule meant five days of running five miles each day.  Now I run a couple of miles at a time a few days each week. As commitments or health issues come along, your running schedule will be altered. The good thing is, once you start small and build up time, you will love the freedom and feeling of accomplishment running gives you. You can run more or less, but I bet you will run forever once you learn how easy and rewarding it is.

Once you run more often you will know if the sneakers you have will work for you. If not, shop for a pair that does work and then think ahead and buy several pairs of the same. I am addicted to Nike Free’s and have three pairs on stand-by.

Coffee before running gives me a boost; take water along, or know where you can get it along your route. Nose strips also help you run farther since they open the nostrils and allow in more air. No matter what your routine becomes, keep a simple log book. The date, time of day you ran, what you ate beforehand, route taken, distance, and time spent. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment, and aid you when you lack motivation. Try changing something from that log book for a fresh outlook.

If running alone, for safety let someone know where you will be. Leave a note on the counter of your home. I tuck an emergency contact number into my shoe. The key to your door can be double knotted onto your shoelaces. Do not provide your address on the paper in the shoe; someone could take advantage of this information.

When you start running, consult books on running at the library. They will help you to develop a style that will let you concentrate your energy where it should be. For example, the wrists should stay below the waist for the best efficiency.  If you do not feel comfortable with that, then use a style that will keep you lacing up. Subscribe to a runner magazine, this is very motivating. Have a good time, and remember you can walk/run. It counts.

 

 

 

 

Daydream

Good intentions for the day

My first encounter shades.

I adjust by

Looking through spaces and faces.

 

 

Alone in my mind, I play;

Outside interference fades.

When I am

Looking through spaces and faces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cha Cha Coconuts Restuarant at the Pier- St. Petersburg, Florida

Crows and sea gulls, waiting for a piece of bread or a French fry to fall, play sentinel to the outside patio deck of Cha Cha Coconuts Restaurant on the fifth and roof floor of the St. Petersburg Pier.  Tampa Bay spreads out to the north, south, and east.  Glance west and you might see St. Pete Beach if the city were not crowding the peninsula.  The birds have the advantage in transportation.

 The city is there and its buildings range in sizes. The city is tiny in comparison to her sisters Tampa and Clearwater.

 It is calm today; the thankful overcast sky casts a gloom over the water. They blend almost seamlessly in a pale grey. No wind blows to propel a sailboat so most remain in their berths in the St. Petersburg Marina at the head of the jutting road leading to the primary colored triangular structure, The Pier.  They are art just sitting there, an army of masts.

Blue faux marble tables surrounded by green, blue, and red plastic patio chairs arranged for lunch and dinner guests  have metal buckets with condiments inside and beer and wine logos on the outside. An enthusiastic Salvatore Dali fan had affixed two Dali Museum stickers to this one.

 Tama brought the Havana Ham and Cheddar while my eyes took in the scenery of Cha- Cha Coconuts and that beyond the pedestrian rails. She wore a red shirt with white leaves on it, and even though her hair was bunned, she was warm and like me grateful that the sun did not come out yet today.  Ice tea cooled me from the Florida heat and my spicy staple sandwich. 

The patio is not full today. It would be if it were March through July. Two couples, a family of three and a man drinking a Red Stripe beer and talking on the cell phone are my companions for lunch.

Past the rails to the south, the Skyway Bridge is just visible over a concentration of green which is Boyd Hill Nature Reserve.  Small planes take off and land at the Albert Whitted Airport next to the Pier.  They are close enough and small enough to enjoy the distraction without the noise usually associated with airports.

Toward the east, white billows of smoke rise from a power plant across Tampa Bay.  It could be in Apollo Beach, maybe, Tama doesn’t know either. The grey power plant stacks and the white smoke combined with the grey landscape of the sky and water seem eerie.

The décor of Cha Cha Coconuts contrasts the colorlessness with yellow, blue, green, purple, and orange painted walls, counters, posts, other tables, and murals. In the evening or on a sunny day when the picture looks different, it is not quite this surreal.

Above the glass doors separating the inside and outside seating areas is a mural of several pelicans sitting at a bar. No doubt they enjoy the drum and tambourine contemporary music playing overhead. If it was later in the day, I might have followed their lead and sat at the bar inside in air-conditioned comfort.

Instead, I order an ice cream cone to go, pay my $12 (tip included) bill, and walk to the rail and watch kids getting a closer look out at the power boaters, jet skiers, and fishing boats from the 25 cent binocular stands.

People should come to Cha Cha Coconuts. The food is great, the service staff is always friendly, and the view from the raised vantage point can’t be beat. –note to follow-

Cha –Cha Coconuts  800 2nd Ave NE  St. Petersburg, FL 33701  727-822-6655

 

 

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