Elevator to Somewhere

IMG_5338I must have fallen. Their fingers were nestled under my armpits and their arms pressed against my back holding my waist. I saw bits of debris on the palms of my hands as my eyes opened. We were grouped on a walkway made of flat large stones laid neatly. Between the stones were crushed shells, some bleach white and others shiny blue like chips of porcelain plates. The path was wide and I couldn’t remember what caused me to fall.

“Miss, are you fine?” “Miss, we must sit you down?” two men with accents were asking.

I noticed my dress as it gently lifted in a light breeze. It was sheer and soft with a light blue background and delicately tangled vines sprouting leaves and little reddish pink buds not yet fully open. Clinging to the fabric were tiny fragments of earth. My hands naturally felt the skin of my legs and I brushed bits of shell from my knees.

IMGOverhead, the tall trees climbed great heights to a canopy of leaves that flipped from green to silver in the wind. The sound of moving leaves were like a rustling satin skirt. The sky was deep blue. There was salt in the air. Once I smelled the ocean, I could hear the waves brushing over land.

A third man brought a chair and the three of them guided me into it. Each man was dressed in a muted jacket with tidy buttons sealing up the front. Their eyes were filled with concern that felt genuine. Their hands were strong and rough, yet they moved precisely and softly. I wanted to ask what had happened, but I knew they wondered just the same.

Suddenly, a voice. “What happened. Leisel, are you OK?” a gentleman asked as he scurried swiftly to kneel by my chair. He caressed my back and held my hands, turning them over to brush off the debris.

“Please get some water,” he said to one of the men standing there. The man rushed off and quickly returned with a glass of water. I sipped it. “I am fine” I said. I sat listening in amazement to the abundant and varied bird calls echoing overhead. The area was alive. The temperature was just right.

“We need to get  you back to the house”  said the man at my feet as he looked up at me, as he gathered loose strands of hair to tuck them behind my ear. “We won’t go to the beach today,” he announced to everyone there.

“No. I am fine, really, I am fine. I want to see the water.” Learning that I was in route to the beach gave me a sense of direction. I didn’t want anyone to notice that I had not one clue as to where I was (or who I was). The waves called out to me. I thought if I could just get to the ocean then my mind would produce a clearer picture.

Another man appeared, he was older with grey hair and a wrinkled sunbaked face. “What happened here?”

The young man stood from my chair. “Leisel seems to have tripped on the walk.”

Gravel-CrushedShellHe pointed to one of the three neatly attired men in matching dress “Go tell Ponti to smooth out this walk. Every inch of it. The walk must be smoother. And it should be completed today.” He spoke with authority and force.

“Then we will continue to the beach today.” The young man said as he kneeled along side me.

I blurted out as I began to stand  “Yes, I want to go to the beach.”

The older man said to another man in a neutral jacket “Get Dr. Rhodes. Tell him Liesel took a spill on the walk. Tell him to make his way to the beach.”

Next, he turned toward me and commanded “Dr. Rhodes will attend to you today regardless. We will see what he concludes. And today you will take the elevator to the beach.”

Everyone assumed their places as we moved towards the edge where the tree line ended.

The young man asked “Do you have your book?”  I looked around only to see that I had nothing, no bag and no book. “I will go and get it for you and meet you on the beach.”  And to the remaining man that helped me he said, “Please take Leisel down in the elevator.”

As my feet firmly planted with each step, I noticed that I had delicate sandals on made of cloth straps.  My toenails were well manicured and painted a pink similar to the buds on my dress. I followed the quiet man and his light weight steps. We walked further down the path and closer to the ocean. We approached a huge open door, like a garage, that held a room lined in beautiful deep colored woodwork. To my surprise three horses, one brown, one dark brown, and other white, stood peacefully inside. The interior had hooks that held all sorts of riding gear. There were compartments, drawers, and doors all adorned with matching metal features.  There were seats, a little bench on a hinge that the gentleman pulled down as we entered. It was offered to me with a gesture and I slid onto the little bench with ease. The elevator was custom for horses, not humans.

With a push of a button half of the big door came up from below to meet a duplicate one from above. They came together in the center about waist high without much noise. Each end of the elevator had a set of doors like this and in the doors were glass windows. The elevator began to travel downwards and what passed behind the windows was the inside of the earth. The walls of the shaft that held the elevator were lit up so we could see all the passing rock. The whole setup was exotic.

We moved slowly and the horses stayed calm. The gentleman looked over at me and said “Miss, we have more braids for you.” I had no idea what that meant, yet smiled and told him thank you. And he continued “We all wish you to feel better from the fall.” His manner was so sweet, his dark eyes squinting but bright. I told him that I do appreciate all of his and the other’s help. I thanked him again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped. The elevator doors opened on the opposite side of where we entered. It was a sandy beach and the ocean! Right there in front of us. The horses moved out without being told. They must do this often. They passed me snorting and prancing. The horses were most certainly filled with joy, and in this moment, so was I. I removed my shoes as I thought how glorious this all was and what a life I seem to have.  The sun shone down and the water drifted inward and birds sang all around us. My dress fluttered about me as we roamed along the wondrous cliffs. I had no idea where on earth I was or when it was. I couldn’t remember any type of past story that got me there.

I caught up to the beautiful bareback horses walking freely and free of burden. I reached out to run my hand along a strong velvety body. I noticed a sparkly ring on my hand made up of a  cluster of diamonds. On my other hand there was a crystal clear blue stone set in gold. I was taken aback briefly because my hand was well cared for and my fingernails were clean and in a uniformed shape. I looked out to sea as I tried to remember. Yes, I was positive that I was married. Yes, my first clue became clearer! I am married and I could easily imagine on that day that I was happily married.

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We see the world in the way we are

seewhatisupI am writing in good spirits. You see, last week it was as if I were on a ladder when all the rungs broke and I went crashing to the ground.  Not all is lost, however, because the lower I go, the more valuable my potential becomes.

partyI must share something that originates from my childhood.  In the evenings when I grew tired and was in need of sleep, my vision would break up into tiny moving pieces. It was not blurry, but rather a very crisp picture of tiny specks showering about in all directions like dust in sunlight.  No one really understood what I was trying to describe and thought that perhaps I was just making things up.As I grew a bit older, I learned how to adjust my eyes and induce this way of seeing at any time of day. All objects ceased being solid shapes to become masses of millions of pinpoint-sized sparkles.

After I had spoken of it enough, my mother took me to the eye doctor, who said that I didn’t need glasses, which was a real disappointment since I had already selected a style I loved.  He told me that I had perfect vision, “but I doubt that you can see an atom.” I thought he said “Adam” and I grew very confused.

shellMy episodes continued, so we headed to the eye clinic in Boston. It was a wonderful drive because it sits right on the Charles River just past the Boston Pop’s Bandshell, a huge prehistoric beach shell which I could easily imagine washing to shore.

The doctors found nothing wrong, yet mentioned to my mother that at first they thought I was seeing white blood cells on the surface of my eyes, something people notice when staring up at a blue sky. But, since I experienced this sensation day and night, they thought perhaps I was seeing “floaters” or “swimmers” stuck on the filmy layer of my eyeballs. The diagnoses boiled down to me having microscopic debris on my eyes. “Dirty Eyes” let’s say.

One doctor said, “You might want to study science because what you describe is a proven theory.” He went on to explain that all things are made up of moving matter that the naked eye can’t see, that what we think we see is not really there and that what is really there we might not see. “You might enjoy looking into a microscope,” he said.

I think, if not for a few turns of events, I would have certainly been a scientist of sorts. I appreciate that these professionals gave of themselves to inspire me.
Anyway, my mother amazed me as we went through my childhood with a mix of laughter and seriousness.  On the way home she said, “You see things differently, that is all.” She continued, “Do you remember when you asked me what Daniel was doing in the lion’s den with a bunch of bananas?”  Of course I did and we fell into a serenade of giggles.  All I saw were bananas in the artwork instead of big wings of an angel. This might be one impression that stirred me to be an artist. I wanted to go into the world and draw things in ways that could be seen and understood clearly.

alterThere were numerous times when I thought something went wrong at birth and I got animal eyes.  I knew, thanks to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, that some creatures experience their world broken down in prismatic colors, flattened depths of field, or energy sequences. I would ponder aloud, with my mother in earshot, if somehow I had lion vision, or owl vision, allowing me to see the minute airborne pieces.

My father’s reaction to my vision problem was very different. As an optical physicist working at MIT (Lincoln labs) and Itek, both laboratories in the woods outside of Boston, and exploring lenses and films, he was reserved about topics involving his work.
He was quite somber when I told him that the doctors said I could have had a “corona effect.”  My mother said, “No dear, I am sure they said a cornea effect.”We never knew exactly what my father did, but it came out years later that many of the labs worked on top secret projects, one happened to have a code name of Corona, designing reconnaissance satellites. My father was very intense and didn’t encourage my “fanciful ideas,” especially talk of seeing the commotion caused by the movement of molecules.
staticSoon after, I began to worry about my hearing because, and even still today, words get mangled in my head. I don’t wear prescription eyewear or a hearing aid. I have learned to find wonderment in my misplaced words because so often the words I think I read, say, or write end up being far deeper than the “proper” one. I know that many enjoy researching as much I do. It is delightful to confirm that many ideas go back eons and are nothing new. I love how fields and schools of thought can collide to make new contemporary connections. In studying there is never a need to come up with a final answer. Not imagining a final outcome keeps me grounded in the giant world of possibility. I love books, yet have become proficient in maneuvering myself around the internet and waltzing by aliens, giving a nod to Jesus, saying “hi” to a god, combing through conspiracies, bypassing Satan, and galloping over doomsday tales. In respect to ideas, I only wish that more people would understand the origins of some of our widely held assumptions.  I have enjoyed learning about the notions of an etheric presence, electrical frequencies, and lines of emanations. Tesla mentions a “cosmic force,” a type of naturally occurring radiant energy occupying everything everywhere, just as ancient cultures allude to philosophical ideas about liberating oneself from worldliness, a release from material concerns.Today my miniature way of seeing arrives freely and can remain for a nice duration. The world becomes a vaporous mass of zillions of random particles in a blizzard from every direction. I can see the surface of my eye, make the distance clear, and bring the whole horizon into focus.  These sessions are thoughtful, like daydreaming or what some call meditation, I suppose. They should not be confused with seeing auras, because that seems to be connected to emotion. Nor are they like my optical migraines, those painless light shows. These are My Gamma Waves.
A rare occurrence is when I become distracted and am forced to break my focus, meaning pulled off course and drawn into worldly thinking. I stumble and fall just as I did a few days ago, but now seems ages. This entry represents a climb back up, mainly evoked because I am able to describe and share these thoughts. Like the rungs of a ladder, I reach up past the familiar and climb further to where the view is grand and I use my time searching for things that are hidden.

Here is an artwork that I made for an upcoming group show on the five elements which will be hung like the periodic table. Of course, I chose the classic fifth element, ether. Originally thought of as a layer of ozone, I defined it by embracing some of the ancient texts that offer “steps” to quiet the mind, act without attachment, and see how small things are absorbed into one. What interests me are what humans exude and add to the space around them by way of actions, words, and thoughts.  I used the mirror to show that what is added to the space is a combination of all of us. Whether anything is true or not I find it comforting to imagine that each individual has creativity and the ability to contribute to the picture. It is easy to understand why some call the fifth element “Love,”  though that seems only half of the story.

It is very hard to say if people are ready to hear more interpretations, however old or silent or new. I think it depends more on how things are delivered, how things are told.

I want to express things in a language that eludes and can be felt. I think this is why I decided to call myself an artist and to set about joining bunches of things that add up.

Entry Note: My title “We see the world in the way that we are,” means every individual sees the world differently. We each see the world out a lens shaped by the experiences seared in our brains, both tacit and vivid. We cannot ignore the coping mechanisms that make things bearable. We all have filters that can delay or coat what is seen. Within our mix of individual capabilities, many can enjoy seeing eye to eye, an understanding or admiration of sorts. A growing trend I hope!

What is up ©2007 70″x80″ oil on canvas
Wonderscapes: The Party always begins when I go to asleep ©2004 26″x35″ acrylic on paper
Boston Bandshell retro postcard
How rumors are started
Animal eyes at night ©1998 35″x56″, 108 4″x4″ oil on panel mounted in wooden alter
“High-temperature radiation produced by The Big Bang” Cern Scientists
The way things are hidden ©2001 48″x36″ oil on canvas
The element of ether ©2010 12″x12″ etched mirror framed in metal (Shot facing a blue sky)

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Temporary Utopia

He was big and he was black, like a football player. He caught my eye when he moved into my view at the end of the long corridor. The t-shirt that he wore was a giant field of solid bright color that gave him vibrancy, a glow above his khaki pants. I moved quickly. My hospital gown fell loosely about my thin frame. I weighed 102 pounds and was able to move with the ease of a squirrel through trees. I was a shoeless dancer with a great performance on my mind. I darted to the room across the hallway, my gown falling from my shoulders.

utopia1“Get up! You can leave now. We have survived. You are all better. We are all fine!” I shouted in the direction of one room and then another, spreading great news. “We are all safe!” I declared before I was whisked up.

utopia2In an instant the big black man scooped me up into his arms to cradle my body tightly to his. My arms were reigned in. He lifted me up so swiftly that there were no jolts. My head was level with his beautiful face and I was able to see his eyes as he focused on his task. I was swept from the hallway floor and cascaded gently into my own bed. It was a strange amusement ride, not to be forgotten. He certainly must have been well trained. The whole action took seconds. My bouncer disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. I was a bit puzzled as to what harm I had done and chalked it up to the fact that I might have let the cat out of the bag too quickly. The nurses came in with a cloth coat that they slipped over my head. Two straps on the side buckled conveniently to each side of my bed. In some worlds these items are referred to as restraints and are a little less restrictive than a straight jacket. To me, in my world, it was cozy fun. The coat was like the canvas that I painted on and the stitching was layered and straight. The jacket was quite large for my body and I was able to push both arms, one at a time, out through the opening for my neck.

“Ta Da! I am free!” I said gleefully as people got re-situated. I always had the ability to make others laugh and this time proved no different. Being confined to bed was not a problem for me. The aides gave me a small cup of juice and turned on the TV that hung up in the corner of the room. Oprah was on! She was telling everyone that the worst was over and that millions of people had survived. She stated that most of the hospitals of the world had become havens and had gone untouched by the upheaval of the earth. I thought, “Oh yes, how true. How lucky we are.” The noises that I had heard days before from outside were horrific, a soupy darkness churned about causing a long storm of crashing and creaking.  Oprah continued to report that the rebuilding had already begun taking shape. I felt a type of surrender that elevated the moment. Ultimately, there were no attachments to the material world. We attached ourselves to a primary source of gentleness. I was so excited. The feeling was love.

utopia3We all sat listening. Joel, my boyfriend of three years, sat in the big blue boxy chair next to my bed, the place where he had slept for three nights. And a young woman that I didn’t know sat in a chair by the wall across from the foot of the bed. My room was in the new wing of the hospital, a high floor of an atrium. Just outside my window was a roof of glass. Above, white fluffy clouds swam through the sky. There was a discussion that I didn’t hear. With the TV now turned off, Joel leaned forward to tell me what I had not heard. I may be moved to different section of the hospital. He held my hand, tears pooling in his eyes, “I will never leave your side.”


These words were the truest words I had heard in my life’s entirety. They were like soft velvety hands holding the weight of my head. Such words cause all the wounds of the world to heal shut. For that moment all the struggles that I had weathered brought forth a prize. I had not one single worry in all of the world, not internal or external. We were all things beautiful. The sunlight pouring in from the atrium brightened the room as it moved across our path. Joel’s words, his heart, brought forth our new beginning.

“You mean we are getting married?” I wondered. He said yes and took his little loop earring out of his ear and put in on my finger. It was plenty. It was beautiful.

utopiaPhilipHcalderonThe woman sitting at the end of the bed, her book closed on her lap, started to cry. “What is your name?” I asked. “Juliet,” she replied. Ah yes, I saw now that Juliet Capulet sat among us although not many would ever notice. She was light skinned and fragile and showing a history of endurance.

“Why are you crying? Did you lose Romeo again?” I prodded as she hid her tears. Her long straight hair framed the curves of the side of her face. Juliet moistened her lips and settled back into the chair. She picked up her book, trying to read it, but couldn’t seem to find where she had left off.

This moment, this life, with Joel’s hand in mine and his earring on finger, was worth waiting for. I felt whole and content. This was our moment. He is the man that will not leave me, the man that has really never left. This was our temporary utopia when we were completely together.

I didn’t have to say much more. Juliet heard all my thoughts, capturing the subtle inclination. It was a silent understanding where much was grasped within minutes. Her eyes were now dry and we both sat in the silent stillness of knowing. We both knew that no one escapes the problems that arise from learning, yet we each can choose if we wish the struggle to end. We lacked power, but not command. As time unravels, there is less and less risk of our being interrupted. We grow stronger with every horizon we explore.

Just as with our changing world, there is no technical solution, but as we rebuild, we must admit our capability of regressing back to dysfunction. For transformation to work, the rules must continue to evolve, a constant intervention. We must reinterpret the facts and reshape them for the time we are in. We do not play a game that we must win. It is a game that we must keep playing. This is our temporary utopia.

The sky from return flight from Santa Barbara
Ragdale Series:  “Some call it luck, I do not”
Negative to Positive brain light box
100 Tears, Part 1

Juliet by Philip H. Calderon

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There Is a Lady In My Locket (Part 1)

I didn’t quite grasp the meaning of the poem when my grandmother read it to me. She retrieved an old book from a wooden chest that sat at the end of a four-poster bed. Once the lid was shut we sat on top of it. It was a sunny morning and my grandmother read the poem to me and followed by explaining a few things.
lockethouseThe poem was “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894 Scotland) starting with the line “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.” It was clear that poem was about the sun but there was more. She mentioned that I didn’t have to follow her around the house as much as I did. She urged me to be independent and roam about by myself. I had mixed emotions about this discussion. I felt as if I was being reprimanded or cast off, and, more favorably, she was giving me permission to snoop around. It seems, even at age eight or nine, I tended to cling to others. Though it stung, my grandmother never held back in her attempts to teach me bluntly. She informed me that she was to deliver a flower arrangement to a church and that I was going to stay at home on my own. Moments like this turned into adventures where I could go through drawers, not disturbing things, but looking at the contents. After a few times alone wandering the house and getting to know all the corners, I asked her about the basement. I had never been down there before and wanted to check it out. She looked at me with a prideful smirk and said that I was welcome to look at the basement, even though it was empty.

locketchurchThe basement had about seven rooms, of varying sizes, off of a larger center room. All the rooms were very clean, swept concrete with only a few items being stored. Windows and garden furniture were all that could be seen. A few of the rooms on one side of the house had tiny narrow windows placed high, letting in only a little of the outside light. In one of the smaller rooms under the kitchen there was depression in the wall. It was larger than a doorway and sunk in about one foot. It looked like a sealed entrance or a blocked off tunnel.

I stood before it several times, always returning to the spot out of curiosity. As I turned to leave, the concrete surface moved, becoming soft like handled play-dough. The area looked cloudy like a lens that had been smudged. I backed up and crouched behind a stack of wicker chairs. It was an astonishing moment, trying to grasp that the wall was changing. Soon the covering disappeared and people came through one-by-one, some arm in arm. I pushed back further into the wall with heightened amazement that kept my fear at bay. The people were black and mostly adult men and women. There were a few youth, perhaps older than me. Their clothes were somewhat worn and wrinkled, yet so many of them had glowing smiles, though serious. They were very quiet. Each carried bundles and bags of things. They traveled past me. I watched the procession through the woven wicker of the chair, moving my eyes about to take in as much as I could.

I grew concerned that perhaps I had caused them to come here and that they were filling the house before my grandmother returned to wonder where everyone had come from. I would have to try and explain, but maybe my grandmother already knew. Suddenly, a young girl saw me and came close. She approached the stack of chairs and looked down at me and into my eyes. “Who are you?” she asked. I stood, my legs were weak and I used the wall for balance. “My grandmother lives here.”
“Oh, thank you. This is where we are staying tonight,” she responded, adding “come on!”

We walked into the main room and the floor was covered with cots, blankets, and bundles of cushions. The people were settling in. She put her bag down on a mattress and motioned to the stairs with her hand. “I am supposed to help with eating,” she said. I followed her, and others, up the winding stairs and to the kitchen. The kitchen was not how I had left it. It was bustling with busyness. There were people using the big iron stove with all the burners, others were tossing flour onto tables and preparing bread loaves. No one seemed to see me other than this young girl. She smiled broadly as she took a station to cut vegetables.

locketetchingI ventured to the back door and walked down the stairs into the most spacious of yards. There were no longer houses, walls, or fences on all sides, but big lush apple trees. There were men on ladders picking apples. Others were doing laundry and hanging clothing on a line, or doing dishes in a bin with hot water boiled on a small fire-pit. People were gloriously joyful. It is the only way to describe such a gathering.

The sun was shining and I heard birds. Assorted chattering came from the apple trees and the rooftop of the brick house. There were two dogs running about playfully. The bright light from the sun revealed a vaporous cloud that I was enclosed in. It moved with me and I could not break the seal to move outside of it.

A beautiful woman came through the kitchen door and down the stairs onto the grass where others met her with grace and honor. She was dressed in a dark tailored dress with a lace collar and tied ribbons adorning her layered skirt. Her hair was pulled back into a bun and she wore bands of material around her head with curls pulled back and loosely dropping from it. Around her neck was a long gold chain that reached far below her waist. At the end of the chain was a locket, big enough to fill the palm of a hand, like a pocket watch.

locketlocketI couldn’t take my eyes off her lovely smile as she gently glided about. Everyone adored her. She leaned over to inspect several bushels of apples, I moved closer to her. Someone called out to her.  Mrs. Beckwith was her name. As she turned, her locket flew away from her body, rose in the air, entering my realm of mist. Thoughtlessly, I reached out to touch it. The locket stuck firmly in my hand causing the chain to break.

I panicked. There was no way I could return the locket to her; Mrs. Beckwith didn’t even know that I was there. The locket stuck firmly in my hand, as if it belonged there. She looked frantically on the ground beneath her dress and all around. I stood there wishing to reverse time so that this moment never to exist. How silly of me to ever to desire to touch her locket. The wind started to kick up and the sun went behind the clouds. There was a chill in the air. She hollered for the others to begin collecting things and gave one last look behind her for the beloved locket. Her face was drawn and worried. I stood watching, feeling uncomfortable. Where was I? I wanted to go home. The awkward thing was that I was at the house that I wanted to return to. It now began to feel less familiar, less fun. It was dawning on me that I might have done something very wrong. I held my fear back and my tears in.

Off I darted, up the back stairs and through the kitchen, weaving in and out of the others’ busy activity. Their voices became more muffled as I ran down to the basement to find the place where I had started, back to the little room and the stack of wicker chairs. I knelt to the floor and brought my hands to my chest. The locket was still firmly tucked into the palm of my hand.

My Grandmother’s home via Google maps
Old Baptist Church, Providence, RI
Providence, Rhode Island by John Ruben Smith 1775-1849
The real locket 

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