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Have you ever wondered where your pet disappears to after being let outside? Housecats, especially, can vanish and stay gone for the longest time. My cat, Vinnie, for example, has mastered the art of disappearing, not that I blame him for what he has learned from Missie, a mischevious, stray cat in our neighborhood. Missie adores Vinnie. She has become his constant companion; however, she is not to be found anywhere unless she is ready for it. Her roamings are her own; but, seldom will she stray too far from her kittens or from Vinnie, either.
Rootling Bros. Circus, is painting #10 in the watercolor series The World Beneath The Surface. The picture shows two of Missie’s kittens performing before a crowd of Root People. The ringmaster holds a toy mouse on a string. Two cyclists pass by holding hands, and a rootwalker preforms his skills above the crowd. A four-car rooterscooter, carrying eight Root people, takes a dive out of a tunnel. (A rooterscooter is what we Topsiders call a rollercoaster.)
Vinnie, my cat, lays quietly resting on a ledge above the entrance, or lobby, to Rootling Bros.Circus. Opposite him is a geranium in full bloom. In the lobby below, a small boy sits quietly all alone on a toadstool. Opposite the boy, two Root people and a bartender are conversing at the Root Beer Bar. A large circus poster looms over them, and adjacent the bar are two tunnelways. One tunnelway has stairs going down; the other has stairs going up, to the Rooterscooter, and a clown stands there peeking out attentively at the little boy.
Now, I ask you, has no one in this scene noticed Vinnie? How can he seem to be invisible admist all of this circus activity? You know the answer…. it is because he wants to.

Vinnie knows what you know: that cats can do what they please and get away with it and get rewarded for it! Meaning, surely he will get petted a lot and praised too much for returning home safely, he knows.
Yes, Vinnie knows what he is doing, the same as he knows what his master is doing.
So, what is his master (that’s me) doing?
Why, I am up there…at the house on the hillside…standing sockfooted at the open door and yelling my lungs out, calling: “VINNIE!–HERE VINNIE…VINNIE! HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY!!”
Another hour passes slowly, and I continue to worry. Should I go looking for him, I wonder? I know that he and Missy like to hang out under the shade of that maple tree, but, no, I won’t go there this time. I have things to do…he’ll  tell me all about it soon after he returns home.


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1937 Packard Coupe in Zion National Park

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1929 Cadillac, green

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No, not Van Gogh… Van Goatee.

As in this Van Goatee!

Yours truly, Glenn’s cat!

I am Vincent Van Goatee, or “Vinnie”, Glenn’s apprentice, critic, and confidant.

I have lain across practically every drawing, viewed progress from my cozy perch over his shoulder and, sometimes, watched from on top of his head. I have been smack in the middle of every mockup and dreamt up new ideas while sleeping on canvas, paper, and paintings. On occasion, I have dipped myself in the palette for a ravishing new look (People can give themselves a purple hair-do, so why not cats–?) I test “quality control” by monitoring the delicate, unique bouquet that distinguishes every jar of paint water. My signature paw print, when found on one of his paintings, is certification that he has met my standards, and the painting is approved.

After countless hours and several years of telepathic coaxing, I have convinced Glenn to feature me in a new root painting titled, “Rootling Bros. Circus.” With my supervision of his brushstrokes, he shall be able to imitate my likeness but not, alas! my purr-rr-fection. To experience that, one has to be in my personal company.

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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.

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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?

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