Sail Away

Aedan tries yet again to call Noel before the boat leaves
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The sun hadn’t been up long when Aedan first opened his eyes. He laid flat on his back and thought about the coming day. He hadn’t been sailing for a while so there was a bit of excitement along with good memories that found their way to the surface. The couple he met two evenings ago, the Carlsons seemed competent and friendly. Since he was always keeping his eye out for his next boat he was anxious to see theirs. He was familiar with the model but had never been aboard one.

Beyond all of that though, what he was most excited about was having Noel along. Assuming the weather cooperated, sailing with another couple would be a great time to relax and have fun with no pressure and for sheer pleasure it is difficult to beat a beautiful sunset at sea. The thought of the long day ahead reminded Aedan that he needed to gather a few things to take along to eat while they were out. He built a list in his head of what he would take along,

Curious of the time, Aedan reached for his phone in the charging cradle but it was empty. He rolled over and found the phone beside his pillow. He must have fallen to sleep while catching up on the news. He muttered to himself and pressed the button on the side but nothing happened. Again he pressed but the screen remained blank. With words reserved only for himself when he does foolish things, Aedan set the phone on the cradle and immediately it began charging…from 0%.

Fully awake now, he glanced across the room to the clock radio and saw that it was nearly 8am. He had woken 30 minutes later than intended but there was plenty of time for a shower. He would call Noel after the phone had recharged to make sure she was up and getting ready.

 

With anticipation of the day ahead and the shower behind him, Aedan went through his normal morning routines. Shaving, brushing teeth, crunches and push-ups were all routine though truth be told, he did extra today. Noel would be there.

Once he was ready to hit the road and dressed, he grabbed the now partially charged phone, went to his call history and called the last number – Noel’s. After three rings, it went to voicemail. He would try again later.

The homeowner, Ms. Fernandez was busy in the kitchen when Aedan came down the stairs. Always pleasant, she offered Aedan coffee and breakfast. He took her up on the coffee and a couple pieces of fruit. They talked about his plans and other things to do in the same area of Havana. Aedan was anticipating spending some time with Noel after they returned to port.

An hour had passed with no response from Noel so he called again and again ended up in her voicemail.

“Noel, it’s Aedan. I just wanted to be sure you’re up and will meet us at the marina at 11. I’ll grab some things to eat while we’re out. Just bring yourself and plenty of suntan lotion. It looks like a beautiful day. Oh..and call me when you get a chance.”

Ms. Fernandez was smiling when Aedan put the phone down. “Please take some of this fruit with you! It will go bad tomorrow and I need to get more.”

Aedan suddenly felt a little embarrassed.

“Thank you but I can’t do that!” He responded.

“Nonsense“ was her reply. “It will go bad soon.”

Sensing this was a losing argument, Aedan agreed to take a few pieces and she nearly emptied the fruit bowl into a bag as he watched.

For thirty minutes more, the two of them sipped coffee and talked until Aedan decided he needed to get moving. He was concerned that he had not yet heard back from Noel but knew she was excited about going out. Perhaps she too had forgotten to charge her phone.

As they neared the bottom of the coffee cup, Ms. Fernandez called for a taxi for Aedan. He noted that she truly did bend over backwards to make him feel comfortable. Ten minutes later, a horn sounded from outside. Aedan grabbed his own bag in addition to the one that Ms. Fernandez had prepared for him, wished her a good day and headed out the door to the waiting taxi.

Along the way, Aedan asked the taxi driver to stop at a grocery store where he grabbed a few more things to take along. The Carlsons had already volunteered that they had plenty to drink so he grabbed more water before returning to the taxi and completing the trip to the marina.

He was an hour early but that was by design. Walking the docks to look at the assortment of boats has been something he has done frequently in the last few years. It is said that the best days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it. He had experienced both and though he often tells himself it is foolish, he still looks for ‘the boat’ that will draw him back.

While walking the piers, Aedan tried again to call Noel but once again got her voicemail. He was now starting to worry a bit. He hadn’t known her long enough to know if being late was a habit. Of course, she wasn’t late yet but why hadn’t she acknowledged his calls?

As he neared dock “D”, Aedan saw the Carlsons toward the end unloading their cart that sat at the end of the finger pier. Mr. Carlson noticed him and waved.

“Oh, great! You’re early so you can help me load the boat!” His laugh was unmistakable. Aedan assured him he was eager to help.

Together, the two of them pulled grocery bags, beach bags, a coolers and a plastic gas can from the trunk of the car. The walk from the car to the boat was over a quarter of a mile which gave them plenty of time to talk about the day’s plans. The weather forecast was near perfect. It would be a bit warm but there would be enough breeze to keep them moving well and cooling the cockpit. They would anchor for a bit to eat and swim and be back to the mouth of the port to see the sun set before returning to the slip before it got too late. It had been several years since Aedan had been out and he was eager to experience the power of the wind that could simultaneously bring a calmness encapsulated by silence yet create moments of excitement if one let their guard down too far.

Once everything had been loaded onto the boat and put into it’s place Aedan offered to help with rigging the mainsail but to no surprise, Mr. Carlson thanked him and suggested he relax while he and Mrs. Carlson completed their preparations. This was not unlike Aedan himself – there is a connection between a boat and it’s captain. Some things the captain wants to know are done a certain way while others just fall into part of a routine and upsetting the routine during preparations inflicts a bit of uncertainty. To be fair, Mr. Carlson did offer a few small errands for him to take care of while he watched.

With little else to do and it now less than thirty minutes from the time that they intended to get underway, Aedan called Noel’s number once more but again his call went directly to voicemail. He was growing more concerned by the moment.

“Have you heard from your friend, Noel yet, Aedan?” Mrs. Carlson may have seen Aedan looking at his phone or perhaps she was simply noting the time also.

Aedan signed and shook his head. “No, I haven’t. The hotel is just around the corner – well, maybe two corners but in any event it’s only about ten minutes away. I’m going to go check on her. They all agreed that at this point he should. Perhaps she had just gotten lost and was walking the docks.

Aedan looked in every direction as he made his way out of the marina hoping to see her on the wrong pier. There was quite a bit of activity this morning as people were taking advantage of the beautiful forecast and getting out on the water or simply spending time on their boats doing maintenance and socializing. In all the activity though, Noel was nowhere to be seen.

Arriving at the hotel, Aedan scanned the lobby both for platinum blonde hair and the check-in desk. It was a small hotel that was decorated comfortably but not lavishly. The desk he found easily but still no trace of Noel. At the desk, he made his best effort in Spanish to ask for Noel’s room number. The look of frustration and confusion on his face prompted her to repeat her answer in English.

“I’m sorry sir but I can not give you that information.”

Aedan explained that she was supposed to meet him, that she was late and that he hasn’t been able to reach her by phone.

The clerk shook her head and was about to say more when Aedan pulled his wallet out.

Please sir, I can not tell you her room number but“. she hesitated and looked to either side of her. Only she and Aedan were in the room. “Ms. Jensen checked out very early this morning.”

Only confusion remained on Aedan’s face.

“Checked out? Are you sure?”

“Yes sir.” She looked back at the book behind the counter “At 4:30 this morning she turned her key in.”

“Did she say why? Was everything OK?” Aedan was grasping for an explanation.

“It was before my shift, sir but I think Maria is still here, she would have been working the desk then. I’ll be right back.”

A couple minutes passed that seemed much longer to Aedan. The clerk returned alone.

“She had to catch a flight and seemed a little rushed but that’s all I know.”

Aedan still couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Did she say where she was going? Was she alone?” He asked.

“No, I don’t believe she did and there was nobody with her.” she replied

The front door opened and both looked to see a couple loaded with suitcases coming in.

“I wish you luck sir. Please excuse me.” Her attention shifted to the newly arrived guests “Bienvenido!”

Aedan thanked the clerk and stepped away from the counter. He pulled his phone out and tried to Noel again. This time he received a voicemail box full message.

Still confused and wondering what he should do next, he called the Carlsons and told them that he wasn’t going to make it out with them today. Perhaps they could go out another day but he was going to to see what else he could find out and didn’t want to keep them waiting. Mr. Carlson expressed his understanding and that the offer still stood when he was ready. Since the boat was ready, they were still going out.

Outside the hotel, Aedan flagged down the first taxi and headed for the airport.

Still Here!

Cracked Display

In first world terms, life has been a bit hectic lately and kept me from updating my ongoing story for several weeks….but I am still here

Changes at work mean I am now working from home full time – except when I need to travel to go onsite to address issues that can’t be handled remotely.  That meant a redo of my office which mandated removal of everything in there. I’m happy to say it looks so much better and that makes me happy since I’ll now spend an additional 8+ hours a day in this room.

Unfortunately, during the process of moving out and back in, I damaged my 3 month old 4K monitor.  When I picked it up I noticed a smudge on the screen and when I tried to wipe it off, I realized there was a ‘bump’ sticking out.  I didn’t actually know it was cracked until I powered it up. Broke and Dell doesn’t offer to repair cracked screens though they were happy to sell me a new one for $130.00 more than what I paid for this one from Amazon.  It is physical damage not covered by the warranty.

Initially I couldn’t even think of how I might have damaged it. The bump pressing out suggested  that something inside went wrong and had a mini-explosion.  The Dell rep pretended to not even hear my suggestion.  After accepting that they weren’t going to fix it, I later recalled that with everything sitting on a rug on the floor, I moved he rug once and the monitor – which was sitting on it’s stand on the rug, fell forward and landed on the PC case.  At most, the spot on the screen where the crack is located – which is in the lower half – must have moved 6 inches.  Mind you this was not a drop but merely tipping over on it’s stand. If this display is THAT fragile I really had to think about whether I wanted to throw any more money at it.

With that thought in mind, I hauled it to the street for pickup and reconfigured my workspace to use my trusty Viewsonic monitors. A little bit of testing and I’m not sure why I bought the 4K monitor. I marked this off as the universe encouraging me to take one more step at simplifying.    Then I mentioned my problems to a co-worker who suggested I could purchase the screen and replace it myself.  Of Course!

I located a replacement screen. $140 + $96 shipping is still less than half of what Dell wanted for a new one.  Since realizing I didn’t need that screen and appreciating the extra space on the desk, I have held off from ordering the part yet but am sure I will at some point.

In the interim,  I’ll get back to my work…or play.   The next image is ready to share and the story that goes with it is 98% complete.  I have yet to settle on the music to go with it so that may be the most difficult part…but I will manage 🙂

The Process

Call me a late bloomer but the idea of focusing on and enjoying the process, or the journey rather than the goal is somewhat of a new idea for me. Though I’m sure somebody muttered words to that effect many times in my 59 years it was a bit less than two years ago when I stumbled across a book in a quaint bookstore in Boulder, Colorado.  The book is titled “The Path Is The Goal” by Chögyam Trungpa.

When I began this project and built this site it was to be specifically about my new found interest in creating digital images that were given birth in secondlife.com.  Yes, I considered that I might find other worlds to also create images. The virtual worlds being created are truly amazing and beautiful – all that one can imagine.

While looking for inspiration from others in the secondlife community in flickr, the idea of writing a story and creating images to illustrate it burst from some hidden corner full of wants.  From my earliest days in secondlife I imagined that it would be a great place to tell a story. This is certainly a part of why I came to enjoy role play so much. 

The possibility seemed magical when I thought of it this time. Not only could I travel all over secondlife (from here after, known as SL) to get beautiful images but I could build sets when I couldn’t find the right spot.  Soon, I came to see that I needed specific poses – there’s an app for that – called anypose.

Next came the curiosity of how some were creating specific lighting in their scenes and when I learned of LumiPro – I had to have it.  Mind you both of these have features that take a little study and effort to really use them effectively.

I was ‘ok’ with gimp as an image processor but a little envious of what I saw being done with photoshop.  I actually made the photoshop jump once before but after reading rumblings about Adobe’s marketing techniques I jumped back to GIMP and I think, have become fairly comfortable with doing things that I struggled to grasp 6 months ago.

Recently, I’ve struggled with Gimp for several reasons. I have to vastly different monitors. The newest and favorite is 4K and call it age or whatever but the largest font of the UI for Gimp is still too small for my eyes. However, when I drag stuff to the older, HD monitor, Gimp fails to compensate correctly and suddenly the letters are inches tall and the window edges are somewhere off in space.  It’s not conducive to work flow at all.

There have been several other minor issues including most recently  artifacts that began appearing just as I was about to finish the Havana Sunset image. I struggled to find and get rid of them but in the end converting the image back from 32 bit to 8 bit did it.

In summary, while watching Natsumi Xenga doing her magic in Photoshop; seeing how smoothly she works and how she massaged things in ways that I don’t even think Gimp is capable of yet, I gave in again.

This “Spring Break 2019” series was intended as a learning process for me and it truly has been that.  Not only have I learned much graphically (and will now be stepping back just a bit to relearn in photoshop what I had mastered in gimp) but I’m also learning that writing a story is much, much more than spewing a few words out that link together nicely. 

Ok!  I wasn’t that naive but only by doing does one fully appreciate what it takes. Character development, story line and all the twists and turns of writing have now planted a seed of interest for me too.

I will soon finish this Spring Break series and put it to bed. It has given me much fodder and yes, the characters created there will carry forward into the larger project but that will be handled differently than this ‘Spring’ series.

I hope you will enjoy that but in the interim I hope we will enjoy taking this path together. In any event, I am enjoying the process and the learning along the way.

 

—Aedn

Havana Sunset

Sunset
Sunset at Morro Castle
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Even the creeping sun that had found its way across the floor, up the side of the bed and slowly to Aedan’s closed eyes struggled to get him to move this morning. If there was to be a match of wills and patience though, Aedan would surely lose. He rolled over to get out of the glaring beam but the damage was done and he had no intention of wasting the day away…though at the moment it was quite tempting. He was out much later than he had intended the previous night.

Before he finished his second and intended to be last drink the previous night, the waitress set another before him. He began to protest but she only smiled and pointed to an older couple sitting at a table overlooking the deck. Aedan turned to thank them and tried to determine if he knew them or if they had ever met. He didn’t recognize them. The man appeared to be in his 60s, bald, tall and lanky with a mess of a beard that was mostly white. The woman, with strawberry blonde hair pulled into a ponytail flashed him a cheerful smile. Aedan guessed she was more than ten years younger than the man. Both were dressed casually in shorts and t-shirts. Both were quite tanned. Both sported sunglasses pushed back on their heads.

Aedan thanked them for the drink and they immediately invited him to come sit with him. With two drinks already behind him, he accepted the invitation. It would be nice to have an extended conversation where he wasn’t feeling guilt for not knowing more Spanish and to take his mind off of other things he couldn’t do anything about right then.

The couple had sailed their boat to Havana from St. Petersburg in Florida. Several years prior, Aedan had missed his chance at such an opportunity but hadn’t given up entirely. Once they learned that he too was a sailor, the conversation and rum continued for two hours and ended with an invitation to go out with them later during the week.  Of course he couldn’t refuse the invitation.

This morning, Aedan was remembering why he hadn’t had rum for a long time – well not since his first night in Havana. He was scolding himself for his indulgence when his phone began ringing.  He reached for the phone with his eyes still closed. Finding the phone in the charging cradle, he opened his eyes and saw the number. He didn’t recognize the number but the area code he did from his time at UC Davis School of Law in California. Nobody had called him from Sacramento for a very long time. 

Still half asleep, Aedan debated about answering for two rings before giving in. The quiet was so nice.

“Hello?”  There was certainly a question mark to his greeting.

“Aedan?  It’s Noel.” 

The fly on the wall smirked at how quickly he sat up and opened his eyes.

“Noel! I’m glad you called. How are things?”

“Oh, everything is fine.  I’ll tell you later if you like. I’m back in Havana and was wondering if you’d like to meet me for lunch.” 

Aedan was on his feet and wiping the sleep from his eyes, for the first time noticing how high the sun was.

“Sure. Do you have a place in mind?”

“Actually, I noticed a place around the corner from my hotel that had veg options on the menu. We could try that if it’s not too far for you”.

They talked for another ten minutes and agreed to meet in a little over two hours.  The restaurant was across the way from Morro Castle which was on Aedan’s list of things to see. It was a date and Aedan had an hour to pull himself together.

Ten minutes ahead of time, Aedan hopped out of a taxi at the place that Noel had told him about. He was able to get there with only the name of the street and restaurant since Noel hadn’t noticed the address. She was already there and sitting at a table outside. They had agreed to dress casually for walking and exploring but as he looked at her from the distance, he wondered if it were possible for her to dress casually. As he got closer he assured himself that she would look great in whatever she wore.

They shared a pleasant lunch and filled in a lot of blanks that were left from their first meeting. She had divorced a few years earlier and now enjoying her life doing as she pleased after a long, tumultuous relationship.  There was much they had in common. No, she wasn’t vegan as Aedan had hoped but receptive to the idea which was enough to keep his interest.

“So, what do you think about the place you saw yesterday?”  Aedan was truly interested in learning what her plans were.

“Oh, it was nice but..” she paused “It’s really tough finding a place here with all the restrictions.  I’d be relying on the owner and that is concerning me. I need more time. Otherwise it would be perfect. I love the simplicity of things here.”

“Yeah, the people are friendly. “  Aedan replied without acknowledging his secondary purpose there – to gather evidence of a crime.  “But I’m sure you’ll find something that suits your needs. The first challenge is knowing what you want and you seem to have that in the box. There’s nothing wrong with perseverance.”

“Speaking of that.” Aedan nodded toward Morro Castle across the way but perfectly visible to them, “Are you ready for a walk?”

It was a good walk to Morro Castle but today was also a bit cooler than the day before and without realizing it, he had acclimated to the Havana climate. It was also a slow, relaxing walk with Noel. Aedan was feeling a good connection with Noel and thought for certain that she was also. Words flowed like wine.

Morro Castle has a long history. Actually, several structures share the name “Morro Castle” with refers to the rocky point that it is built on. The true name is Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro which refers to the three Magi of the bible.  It was first built in 1598 but has seen many changes and hostility since then. It once imprisoned the Cuban poet, Reinaldo Arenas. Today it primarily a historical structure and tourist attraction though the Harbor Master keeps a presence there.  The lighthouse was added in 1846.

Noel appeared to enjoy the tour self-guided tour and exhibitions as much as Aedan did. He gathered that it wasn’t the history that interested her but the art on display and watching her painstakingly noting every detail made him look a second time to see what he had missed.  It was one of the guides mentioning that the gates would close in fifteen minutes reminded them they would have to leave soon.

Aedan and Noel made their way back around the bay to where they met. Like a child, Noel was on and off of the stone wall along the walkway until they reached point across from the restaurant where they met. Her playfulness made him smile. That is where they sat and talked for another hour as the sun fell from the sky.

In that hour they shared more deep thoughts…more small talk. The similarities were many and for the most part, the differences were minor or things Aedan just hadn’t given much thought to. He has always seen the world from the big picture and was quite set on his ideology. Some things he felt were unimportant and yet when she talked about them he could see their value because he could see how she lit up.

As the sun set over the ocean Aedan remembered his invitation to go sailing the next day and told Noel of his chance encounter.


“I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if I brought you with me. 

There was no hesitation.

“Of course I’d like to go. My uncle had a sailboat and I used to love going out with him…and best of all, I have no plans for tomorrow.”

She went on to tell  how her uncle later went on to be a Zen Monk and how she enjoyed spending time with him.  This peaked Aedan’s interest but it was beginning to get dark now and he wasn’t pushing his luck. He stood and offered his hand to her though she had been jumping on and off the wall with little though.  She smiled and took his hand.

“Yes, I nearly forgot that I need to call my sister.  She’s not doing well.” as she stepped down from the wall.  “What time tomorrow and oh! Where is the boat?” Noel asked.

“We’re heading out around eleven and should be back in time to watch the sun set again.  He said the Marina is right here in Old Havana. Now that I have your number, I’ll give you a call as soon as I know for certain.”

The walk back across the street to Noel’s hotel went faster than Aedan had expected. Had they not agreed to meet the next day it would have been more difficult to say goodnight but they had and so they did.

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