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After the Storm/red sunset

After the Storm, Red Sunset

My very first car painting was this one.  I enjoyed painting this older-model truck, but the sky was my inspiration for this painting.  I had decided to experiment with the technique of  pouring paint from a saucer; meaning, the sky was poured onto the paper; no paintbrush was used for that. I had to plan carefully and make several pours, and tilt the stretched paper to cause the paint to run and blend together.  The resulting richness of color surprised me!  I  hope that you might enjoy it, also.

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Copyright #8- Fiddler

Fiddler on the Root, watercolor, by Glenn Lewis

Fiddler on the Root

Fiddling with perceptions is not exactly a fruitless activity. Consider, if you will, that you are walking through woodland, listening to a woodpecker, knocking, knocking, when you come upon a particular tree that seemingly needs to be befriended—what should you do? Why not do what the woodpecker does? Do the tree’s bidding; answer the call and open the door to your heart: Hug the tree! For those who feel self-conscious about giving hugs, sitting down ‘back to bark’ with a tree is both wholesome and beneficial; but, who hasn’t learned that, already?

Topsiders the world over have answered calls to trees, some to their own credit, some not.  As children, we were taught that Washington cut down a Cherry tree in his youth. Who, today, ever gets a whipping for cutting down a dwindling rain forest? Is it all right for us, today, to get rewarded for dragging fallen pine trees into our homes and smothering them with ornaments? On a positive note, think of what Newton learned through paying close attention to a falling apple. What missed hitting Isaac on the head sent his thoughts reeling on a course that revolutionized science and shook up the world’s academics!

Humanity’s fondness for trees goes back a long, long way to the Garden of Eden, wherein Eve’s scheming curiosity seeded the very first incident with a tree. Is it any easier now than it was then to separate fact from fiction? One arises from ashes of the other, and in keeping secret certain technological advances, science fiction can hide a fact in plain sight. What can that mean, except that the truth that is not out there; it is in herethe movie! Even allegory, magic, and fable can be sources of veritable revelation. As we walk a thin line between reality and our imagination, we must live in both worlds. Perhaps there are as many realities as there are people to perceive them. In a continual effort to deal with our perceptions, we pick through countless definitions and lay claim to their meanings, as some who have gone before us have.

We might at least question everything and read the approaching awareness with eyes wide shut. When next you sit beneath overhanging branches, try closing your eyes and reaching for understanding the way leaves do when they converse with the breeze. Listen with both ears tuned to hear. Listen for the fiddler on the root, who is no figment of imagination any more than you are. Humbly put aside in that moment your own fancy for the acquisition of riches. You can do that and fiddle around a bit, too. Fiddle as Rootini does; fiddle with thankfulness for your roots—with gladness for what you are, who you are, all that you have, and your chance to become greater then you are already.

What we have with each other is much in common—as much in common as with the Root People Opera Company seen performing in this painting. You and I are on the same stage together. Although we may not always be on the same page, we do share the same spotlight, the same audience, the same stage setting. All that is required of us is that we learn our lines, our entrances, and our exits. Some of us want to sing while we can; some want to fiddle when they shouldn’t, and some like to dance when they don’t have to. We may wish for applause, perhaps even dare to hope for an encore because, like the Root People, we want to be welcome in the world above this one; although, we should hardly expect a standing ovation when we step forth into the greater light of Love, above.

In this painting Fiddler on the Root, our viewpoint is on a level with Rootini. Two thirds of everything that we see is below us. From close up, we look down into a theater lobby that is bounded on two sides by a high wall. Looking over the top of that wall and beyond, we pass through an audience and onto a stage, where props are little houses with lighted windows.

In this live performance, Rootini stands high up on a root that winds down from a massive fig tree, above. The root dominates the stage, where a shaft of sunlight penetrates down through a topside opening. A sidelight glows from deep within a backstage tunnel.

The setting is framed on one side by blooms of bougainvillea, which trail down the hillside. High up in the picture, we are looking into the world above the surface. Our own view of that exterior is a canopy of overhanging tree branches and blue sky.

Opera goers enter the lobby low down on the right edge of the picture. Tickets to the AmphaCave Theater are sold by a gracious, redheaded lady named Mudran Beetle, and the price of admission for adults is two seeds. Children get in free. The kind of seed used in this exchange does not matter as long as the DNA has not been ‘fiddled with’ by topsider geneticists. Suspicious varieties of seeds must first be inspected by an Authentication Officer. Seeds that pass his scrutiny are then wrapped in leaf and stamped “Certified Nature Original.”

Root People like jokes, and they adore retelling urban legends. One urban legend concerns a Topsider named “Slick,” who put this so-called “silly” ad for seeds in his local newspaper. His ad in the Farmvale Gazette said this:

ATTENTION, LITTLE PEOPLE! Leaf package seeds wanted. Any garden variety. Will pay one dime for each packet stamped “CERTIFIED NATURE ORIGINAL” and delivered to the back step at 115 Morning Glory Drive.

Neighbors squealed when they read Slick’s ad—little people, indeed, Hahaha! “Hey Slick,” they called to him, “you seen any o’ those little people peeping over your back step, yet? ”

“Hey, Slickman,” said another, “here’s my dime!—bring me one o’ those little leaf packets? I don’t care which kind. Surprise me!”

The fellow got poked in the ribs by a companion who answered: “Seeds, nothing! A little canary bird must’a gotten loose outta its cage and now, Slick’s wanting to capture one of those little people!”

Waving both of her arms and calling loudly, a neighbor of Slick’s hooted: ”You-hoo there, Slick! You-hoo! If you see my cat Ruggles go under your fence, just shoo him back over there on my side; I don’t want him dragging home no little people and dropping ’em on my doorstep!”

Ruma Musha has told that story many times. That is him down there, exchanging two hazelnut seeds for tickets. He and his wife Loamella have traveled quite a distance with their two boys, Morellan, and “Spore-Sprat.” The Mushas come from Creekcheek Cavern, where they manage a mushroom nursery. This is their first trip to the opera.

Copyright Flea Mkt  4x6- 200 dpi.

Intergalactic Flea Market, by Glenn Lewis

From worlds beyond our own come these strange beings to mingle at an intergalactic flea market for a rare look at items taken–or stolen, more likely–from the earth. The tall, gray character with a friendless stare holds in one hand an authentic aboriginal star map from Australia. He is standing next to a globe of the earth, and the world’s first microscope. The stuffed bird is “Dodo Mounted on Wood.”

As a group of green-skinned aliens approach a parrot-boy creature, one of the three mischievously eyes the boy, causing the youngster to hug his mother’s leg while she studies with flamingo-like curiosity that oddity called a bird cage. The cage-thing is setting on top of Marconi’s first radio. The boy’s mother hasn’t yet noticed the bird bath (a nearby bargain for only 50 Qruens.) The boy’s father is looking the other way, toward a distant, antiquated touring car. Close by him is a 15th-century cannon, and an early telescope purported to have been created by someone named Galileo.

Twin sisters from Sirius glide along in unison to view this unusual assemblage of artifacts, and a blond alien seems to be watching us from behind his sunglasses. Sitting a ways beyond them on a velveteen Louis-XIVth chair is a piggish-looking, ‘poorly-dressed’ creature that appears to be openly annoyed by our presence.

The foreground displays a litter of other earthly treasures: an earthling’s elongated skull from South America; a large clay jar inscribed with Ancient, Mesopotamian markings, which are an accountant’s record of someone’s financial history; an Assyrian stone carving; an Eighteenth-Century porcelain doll; Thomas Edison’s first phonograph; a painting by Renoir (supposedly genuine); a gold, Egyptian cartouche fragment; a Grecian ornament stone (slightly chipped,) and an early model radio from the Art Deco period.

Contrasting the Polynesian clay figure and the Byzantine statue, there stands a tiny, wind-up toy mouse. As if to welcome another fleet of saucer craft, this animated character waves his arms like one who plays ‘Master of Ceremony’ to incoming cargo ships. The first of the ships now arriving are about to unload their cargo at the distant palace. Not everything that is in those shipments will end up for sale here under the archway, but a lot of it will…the ‘junk’ will, it surely will!

So, one wonders, how many Qruens is the Mona Lisa worth, in this galaxy?

Rootmore 4x8 300 dpi

Rootmore Hotel, by Glenn Lewis

Rootmore Hotel

If a tree could boast of having branches, lots of lovely branches–leafy boughs that offer plentiful shade and a place of rest for small creatures, this one would. If the Fig tree in this picture should feel important, it is because it is branch of something; whereas it was once a small branch—a “chip off the old block”, so to speak—it is now a big branch in a chain of hotels for Root People.

Being that sort of an offshoot or a division of something is what makes this tree special. Its comfy atmosphere suggests something beyond ordinary for a hotel branch—more too, than a convention center. It is a home away from home, and besides offering comforts that are beyond conventional, it has what any Five-Star hotel needs: Location! Location! Location!

At the hotel entrance there is a sign welcoming members of The Root Preservation Society. Typically, their business here will be to gather information and set a course of action geared toward the restoration of natural order. To that end, their combined efforts must center on uprooting problems and sprouting new solutions. The steps that are to be taken may involve Tunnel Systems Management, Topside Flood Control, and Consumption Analysis.

Oxygen emissions; oceanic spoilage; climate change; deep-core thermals; seismic balances; plate distribution…those are things that have to be looked at by members of the Root Preservation Society. i.e.: Manthropologists; Pharmarootologists; Planktonologists; Species Preservationists; Animologists; Nursery Aids; Seed Foragers, and Root Barbers. Workers at every level will be affected by decisions made during this seasonal gathering. Whereas Root People have adopted measures for practically everything–flood, fire, drought, earthquakes, and the like, so far they have remained undecided what to do about the incessant, urban sprawl of topsiders.

At the conclusion of business, convention goers will have the option for an extended stay. Visitors who are in no hurry to leave will enjoy warm, fragrant sea breezes, sandy beach, sun-filled surf, and sky teeming with birds. Guests who linger along pathways outside the hotel are sure to marvel at the Birds of Paradise, all gathered in self-praising bunches there. As in any other hotel garden, here the tiniest of flowers may be seen with faces turned upward, offering, in silent adoration, little blossomy praise for the heavens and all things magical in this, their world, as well as and our own.

And, oh, the nights! Evenings are alive with creeping and crawling, things hopping and skipping where no one is supposed to be looking. Such bustle and rustle causes leaves quiver and dance.

Inside lighted rooms all aglow, root shadows flicker and skip across velveteen ceilings; they leap across hallways and doors, and trod earthen floors. They stir up flirty, mirthful conversations, the likes of which drift gaily about, as Root People prepare for an evening of merriment in the ballroom at the All Seasons Rootmore Hotel.

The Rootmore is famous for its woodsy-scented rooms. Each private room is named after the leaf that hangs on its door. There are rooms called: Willow; Sugar Maple; Orange; Walnut; Lime; Sweet Gum; Sassafras, and Cedar. There is Black Oak, too, and Sycamore. There is Cottonwood; Fir; Blue Spruce; Pine, and Hickory.

The suites are named: Fig; Almond; Eucalyptus, and Redwood. Each suite has a bubbly-spring bath basin, and potted herbs of ginger and spice, freshened daily. Those are set out in display next to big, canopy beds layered with fern. There are quilted-leaf coverlets, mossy green rugs, toadstool chairs, and little windows that open, by day, to peeping spirals of Bougainvillea. By night, windows open to birdsong lullabies and a caress of moonlight.

A central staircase winds down around an enormous tap root, all the way to the lobby. The tap root is fig, but don’t be fooled by that; its spigot offers complimentary root beer on tap. Condiment Fig Rootens and Coconut Cream are served in the lobby. Seacliff Bistro serves more substantial meals nearby in a garden setting watched over by sea birds. There, open mouthed gulls stand waiting for endless handouts, but the hotel staff does not encourage feeding those unregistered beggars. Guests can mingle at length in the lobby, where a generously-sized roundseat provides leaf cushions for the socially-minded to sit on. (In Medieval times, a roundseat such as this one gave King Arthur his idea for a roundtable, supposedly.)

Hotel Spa Services offer toning massages, mud facials, body wraps, aroma therapy, meditation sessions, and chimed realignment tuning. Root People believe that spa treatments and nature walks heighten awareness, as does giving restful attention to flora and fauna. But, at the Rootmore, one’s highest mindset is best achieved by climbing to the uppermost branches of the Fig tree. Up there, one can take a nice little nap in ‘The Bird Nest’!

Hidden Harbor 4x7 JPEG 300 dpi

Hidden Harbor, by Glenn Lewis

Hidden Harbor

A certain section of beach near Goleta Park that is seemingly inaccessible, often can be found empty, completely devoid of joggers and sunbathers. What you will see there is gulls, mostly, and pelicans, sometimes; although, pelicans prefer to avoid cliff sides. For them, the air currents around cliffs are dangerously unpredictable.

Seen here posing like stalwarts are two pilot pelicans. Both look worthy of being rewarded for their dedication to the cause. What these highly experienced pelicans are good at, and fast at, is special delivery. Their usual cargo will consist of a few clamshell suitcases and perhaps as many as a half a dozen Root People, for whom safe passage is assured between places like Hidden Harbor and the Rootmore Hotel. Hidden Harbor offers Root People important coastline connections to all points inland along Tunnel 101. This root route runs northerly along the West coast for untold miles. California State Highway 101, which runs parallel to Tunnel 101, and is used by Topsiders, is but a copycat version of this most ancient, subterranean low-way.

Root tourists must repeat a vow of silence before accessing certain locations along the low-way. Unspeakable treasures too numerous to mention are supposedly stored in earthy vaults there. If we Topsiders could make ourselves small enough and go to Hidden Harbor, we might like to ride the wooden raft, or enjoy some delicious fish bits and root beer, before paying a visit the Cetacean Center. Who among us wouldn’t wait in line to talk to the dolphins, and hear whales sing? Afterward, why not mosey on down and poke a straw into a nice, juicy, orange citrus fruit? Sand dollars are also free for the picking along the beach, and so are little, clamshell suitcases that wash up there.

The Rootmore Hotel is a fair distance away, but not as a pelican flies, it isn’t. Neither is AmphaCave Theater, where Fiddler on the Root is currently playing. Yes, Root People do enjoy going to the opera, and—no, they do not pay with sand dollars; the price of admission for an adult is only two seeds!

Crystal City, 14 1/2 x 29 in., watercolor, by Glenn Lewis

Crystal City, 14 1/2 x 29 in., watercolor, by Glenn Lewis

Crystal City

Layers of mystery are locked up in this magical place. By just sitting for a spell and eating Grandma’s cookies, these two sisters might begin to question, for instance, how far down knurled tree roots go and what they hide down there.  Or they may wonder why blue jays flutter around them so angrily. It is not for the want of a cookie, surely!

Maybe, the jays are guarding nature’s pretty mystery stones, like the one found by Mikie yesterday on his way to Grandma’s house. The stone that Mikie had spotted and picked up had a pointy end and looked clear, like glass. After polishing it with his shirttail, Mikie exclaimed that it was a diamond! Straight-away he carried it to Grandma Mae, who moved to the window for a better look at it. Holding the pretty stone up to the light, she cried, “Well, for heaven’s sake, Grandpa, lookie here—a diamond, imagine that!”

“Humph!” He huffed, snatching it from her hand, “This here’s nothin’ but a crystal!” He handed the stone back to Mikie, and then reached for a wee slice of cheese. He hid it between two soda crackers and took a bite.   Grandma silently fastened her gaze on that before noticing Mikie’s crestfallen expression. She pointed to the sparkly ring on her wrinkled finger, then held it close for Grandpa to see, and she said, loudly, “Hah! What Mikie found today is a whole lot bigger’n this here teensy diamond on my ring!”

“Size don’t matter none, Mae,” he answered.

“Oh?” she replied, feigning surprise as she snatched his plate away: “Size doesn’t matter; is that why my ring looks the way it does?!”

When Grandpa looked up at her, dumbstruck, she explained: “This here pretty stone you gave me so long ago seems to have shriveled a bit over the years, dear. So much hot water used for cleaning your dishes seems to have shrunk it, …and wrinkled my hands, too!” At the kitchen sink , she dropped his plate into soapsuds, then turned and said, “What Mikie found today is a real pretty mystery stone, that’s what! This ‘n here on my finger has survived thirty years o’ scrubin’ ‘n there you sit, Grandpa—a real gem of a man–but darned if your lackluster attitude doesn’t stupefy me, sometimes!”

Hoodwinked momentarily, Grandpa blinked awake to say, “Mae, honey, you wouldn’t trade me or that ring for all the jade in Japan, now, would you? But, for any one stone as nice as Mikie’s, you might!” He grinned when Mikie acknowledged his wink with a smile.

“That’s right, I might do that!” Grandma admitted finally, leaving Grandpa to break the spell with his laughter. All three grandchildren accepted a sugar cookie. Seeing their admiration for the little sparkles on the top, she added, “Such is the power of crystal, one facet of it, anyway!”

***

The solution to one mystery preserves another. In one of  Grandpa’s tales about the world beneath the surface, for example, he speaks of place called Crystal City. But is that a real place, and does a colony of Root People really thrive there, beneath Grandpa’s property? Do they keep those crystal generators going  to energize all that is precious to them?—even children so small, and grandparents, too?

Yes, he would answer. Grandma would agree, but here is the downside: With environmental crises popping up like mushrooms all around our planet, some of us have become a lot less inquisitive in spite of our huge ears! On the upside, nothing surpasses genuine effort to pay attention and really, truly listen. Through our observing nature and staying tuned-in the way Root People do, we might enable the universe to let go of its magnificent secrets.

Lost City, Watercolor, 14 1/2 x 29 inches, by Glenn Lewis

Lost City, Watercolor, 14 1/2 x 29 inches, by Glenn Lewi

Lost City

Two hikers trek through ‘Color Country,’ a red rock region of Southern Utah. Taking in the sights, they find at every turn, nature’s gallery is filled with delightful and inspiring surprises, all free for the soul’s asking. Such rewards are increased if people are awake to their own inclination, their own aspiration… their own nature…their Oneness with nature.

What the soul needs, Nature can provide; moreover, the greater the need the bigger the supply. We topsiders need only to keep our balance, or rather first find our balance and then learn to maintain it, like good gardeners of the Earth should do. If constant opportunity is our only real currency in life, how shall we spend it if not with constant gratitude and thanksgiving? If ongoing renewal be our true reward, how are we to respond? Surely not thoughtlessly, not driven by greed and selfish desire!

What is the ‘renewal’ that causes hikers to return home feeling joyful yet humbled? It is whatever their souls have had the opportunity to ask for, and receive. At the same time, it is a positive charge, a dose of high energy; it is being grounded to the Earth and lifted in spirit. In a word, it is rejuvenation. Through reconnection to our source, we can experience an eternal renewal of youth. Regardless of where we are in space or time, rejuvenation is ours for the asking and yes, for the taking. Trails are where we find them in the moment and so are the energies that sustain us.

Oneness is an infinite supply of energy, and energy is all that there is. The artist hears the sound of color; the musician feels the color of sound. The poet conducts his little stanzas with a symphony with words, and writer’s structure whole compositions from nature. Actors put the world on stage in a theater called Universe; this they do for generations of audiences to attend, wholly in a renewal of effort to see themselves for who they truly are.

A true seeker listens to where words and feelings come from, and he finds fulfillment in much solitude. There is completeness in emptiness, and stillness calls forth angelic songs. The sound of OM reduces all vibrations to a harmonious, mathematical order, and the farther we look the more we see, but the more we see the less we know. Maybe we should sometimes try hard to not try too hard…perhaps, take a hike now and then and let wonderings begin to happen.

What these hikers don’t know, and can’t see, is for their own benefit as much as anyone; because, there are laws governing the preservation of historical sites.

This fabled, ancient domain of Root People remains well-concealed, beneficially hidden from the world at large. We, ourselves, being rare exceptions to that, find here a party of six investigators converging to discuss their findings…lizard tracks, mostly! Aside from a few trashy-looking rat nests (trashy, thanks to some carelessness, litterbug topsiders) the team will find little to report to the Roots Preservation Society. No real violations and no signs of disturbance within the ruins. –happily, for the Root People, their prized collection of 1,200 year-old Anasazi pots seems to be intact and accounted for.