We usually have a seaside sack lunch on our way to town. On this day, though, we nix the picnic and I lose my 20/20 eyesight at Blind Beach. We notice the rough surf with white caps, but don’t expect such a buster-bluster blaster ferocious wind. It almost knocks me down as I step out of the car. The door’s open only a crack, but a mighty forceful whoosh snatches Jim’s puffy REI jacket. It scuttles across the parking lot until I finally stomp on it. As I open the car door to stash the captured coat, a dozen paper cups (which I neglected to store properly after the ranch work party) fly out.

My long hair flies every-which-way as I flail and stumble along chasing paper cups. Eventually, I retrieve each and every one caught in rocky crevices. Soon after we escape from there, I realize my glasses are missing. We go back to search, but my specs most surely are blown into the ocean.

I really need those glasses.

Since my prescription is way overdue, the optometry doc insists on an exam. The routine is about the same, but the tiny green light of the old eye-pressure puff machine is replaced by a colorful hot air balloon.

The vision equipment’s curious designs catch my eye.

After several deft mechanical clicks, eye chart letters have more clarity than this.

New glasses are a boon for visual acuity, but figuring out the frame leads to questions about perception and judgement. How do we want people to see and understand us? How do we see ourselves? How does our appearance contribute to impressions?

Without glasses, Salt Point State Park’s Old Spooky looks severe, judgmental.

The frames he chooses, though, make him look merely eccentric.

Punky’s happy disposition prompts him to choose a different lens color with each new prescription.

Blue Dude’s persona is stable–he always chooses the same style of shades.

The optometry department offers a vast array of frames with interesting design features.

My pocketbook is lucky because the frame sales gal allows me to order new lenses that fit old frames from my own collection.

My frame selection is almost as large as the commercial one. They’re not all functional, though.

Once the fascination with frames wears off, we settle into looking with penetrating attention to figure out what it is that we’re seeing. Is it a stick or a snake?

In addition to pondering meanings from what we actually see, sometimes we envision something new–an idea, a different solution to a problem, a song, an image. We might jump-start our imagination by gazing into a crystal ball.

At first, we often don’t see anything in particular. Nothing is there. We feel we have no special gift, no sparks. We have no clue.

Or we might see something, but have no idea about what it might be.

Sometimes, though, if we hang out, stare and breathe without caring too much about putting together an end-product, the brain’s inner eye jumble-fumbles around to rearrange photons and vibes along the entire length of the electromagnetic spectrum and who knows where all.

In fact, something like that happened when visiting my friend, Sieglinde Fels in her creativity lab, which is chock full of stuff. You might perceive her boxes of broken tiles, dishes, toys and what-not as junk.

But Sieglinde has a special skill for rummaging and discovery. Her treasure boxes provide the raw ingredients for evocative, entertaining art.

Welcome to My Home by Sieglinde Fels

Here is artist Sieglinde–inside the crystal ball, which is actually a glass bottle stopper she discovered in a thrift store. We’re glad we have good enough eyesight and insight to play with the magic she creates.

Her bottle-stopper portrait is an enchanting show-stopper. Lively light plays with shades of green, aqua and work-shirt blue. Subtle color variations seem textured even though the surface is smooth. I’m delighted by the surprise upside down image even though I don’t understand it.

Curiosity drives me to watch You Tube Science for Kids. The curved crystal shape bends light so that the top of Sieglinde’s head is directed to the bottom of the sphere–and light rays of her waist land up at the top. The focal point–the place where the top light rays and bottom light rays criss-cross–exists somewhere between my camera and inside the crystal ball. Since the camera lens is not at the focal point, Sieglinde’s visage is blurry and a bit mysterious. Both she and I like it that way.

New glasses dress us up and bring most everything into focus, which is great. But the subject of vision becomes tricky when we interpret what we see. A complex history of experiences and feelings calls for reflection and insight. And then, we consider the next-door word–envision, a portal to creativity. Sometimes inspiration expresses itself in a full-on wind storm, but for most of us it starts as an almost invisible wisp preceded by not seeing anything at all. Funny that this photo essay’s chain of thought started at Blind Beach.

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