Thursday, February 21, 2008

Queen of Redbirds

I awoke to a cold winter's day in my hometown. The sound of sleet on the roof and windows was a pleasant way to wake up. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, put my clothes on and stumbled into the living room.

I found my father talking about driving up to the city to get some bird seed for my Mother's bird sanctuary.

"Do you want me to drive dad? The roads must be bad by now."

"No, I can make it. You have artwork to finish."

My Father was blind in one eye from a stroke and I didn't want him driving in bad weather but I had promised my Muse to have some artwork finished by the weekend.

I walked into the dinning room and looked out the large picture window. I saw over fifty Redbirds (Cardinals) in my mother's first bird sanctuary. The one bird feeder was empty and the heated birdbath was almost frozen over. The heater in the birdbath turned off at night and in the morning on cold days and low water levels left only a small hole in the ice.

I walked into the kitchen and saw my Mother watching the birds from the kitchen table.
I saw what she saw as I looked into side yard and her second bird sanctuary. There must have been over seventy Redbirds in the side yard along with hundreds of other song birds.
Only two of the eight feeders had seed and yet there was all these birds.

"Mom I've never seen so many Redbirds at your feeders before!"

"Yes, isn't it wonderful Bobby."

It took me over an hour to fill up all the feeders and melt the ice on the birdbath. I drove my parents into the city and when we came back there was even more birds.

My Mother is truly the Queen of Redbirds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Muse

I was sitting behind the T-Shirt table at the Project InSECT room at the Mid-Winter's Art Fair.
I should have been happy. My favorite artist alive or dead was very much alive and painting a beautiful beetle before the public. My favorite performer was goofing with the kids and painting arm tattoos. I had made a new friend in Dave Gould. I was surrounded by prints and original paintings of some of my favorite artwork.

I wasn't happy because over the last two days I was breaking up with my girl friend in public before my artist friends. How long had I been black listed from work? Three or four years of living with my parents because I had to do the right thing. I can't regret it because at least one child was saved from death or a life long injury from my actions. How many times had they tried to arrest me on false charges, four or five times? Being a whistle blower was a fool's mission and I was starting to feel a black hole of political corruption was eating my life away.

I sat behind the T-Shirt table depressed wishing someone, anyone would get me. Why couldn't I find a woman who knew what I was all about?

Somewhere in heaven my wish must have been mis-filed as a prayer because no sooner than I finished the thought I saw her. I saw a yellow glow about her. After my car wreck I saw colors around the outlines of people. I had brain damage so I didn't really believe in my spirit vision but it had been ten years since I had seen this hallucination. My heart filled with love.

I had seen blue, green, red, orange and purple energy outlines around people in my hallucinations but never yellow. I loved her. Love at first sight?

"Stand up and smile you fool!"

My sub-conscious screamed at me from the back of my mind. I stood up and smiled as she walked towards me. How old is she? I had dated younger women after my divorce and later felt like a fool when I had to explain the 60s and 70s to them. I couldn't tell how old she was but she was beautiful and I loved her. It didn't mater if she was younger than me, I had to talk to her.

She said something to me and I mumbled back something about Project InSECT and James and Jessa.

"No you idiot! Talk about your own dreams!"

My sub-conscious demanded and so I talked about my dreams and she told me her dreams and our dreams were the same. She was the Muse I had looked for my whole life and I loved her even more and I had only known her a few minutes. There was a line waiting to buy T-Shirts and posters but I didn't care because I had found my Muse.

James, Jessa and Dave had to work the table because I couldn't take my eyes off the beautiful Muse of my dreams, no our dreams now. The rational part of my mind said she could be married or have a boyfriend. She couldn't be married because she was my Muse. I loved her wavy hair and her glasses but most of all I loved her smile. I gave her my telephone number and she promised to come back and give me her number. I never doubted for a moment she would be back because she was my Muse. She walked into the art fair and I turned to Dave and said;

"I think I'm in love!"

"I think the feeling is mutual."

She came back and gave me her number. I talk to her almost every night now about our dream.

With her I truly believe we can save the world one imagination at a time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Voice

Dave Gould drove from Omaha Nebraska to Kansas City Missouri so he could help his friends James and Jessa with Project InSECT during a Art Fair on the weekend of the 8th-10th in February 2008. My legs began to cramp up behind the T-Shirt table and Dave offered to relieve me. I stood up to leave and someone said;

"You're not going to let him take over are you?"

I thought it was a joke because Dave is a Biker with long hair and a leather jacket.
I turned to face a well dressed mean wealthy man with hate in his eyes.

"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to judge someone by their looks. Dave has a good heart and that is all that matters."

I said as the man with a cold heart left without another word.

"Thanks Robert."

"You know Dave you have a great voice and I think you would be perfect in a movie I'm working on."

Dave and I became friends and I feel pity for the man with a cold heart.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heart Breaker

He was hanging out with his artist friends who traveled all over the United States and would only be in town that weekend.

She lived near the mall where the artists were the stars of the art fair. He had always told her how being with the artists and their masterpieces of imagination and paint made him happy.
She wanted to hang out with the artists too.

He was 49 years old, over weight and going bald. She was a bit older but her voice had the sweet sound of youth and his heart melted when he heard her speak.

She walked into the art space where his artists friends were and he was glad to see her.

He went with her to eat lunch with her but found he wasn't hungry. His stomach was twisted in knots. Something was wrong but he didn't know what it was.

"James asked me if I was your sweetheart."

"Yes, I am your sweetheart."

She said without hesitation as his stomach twisted in pain. Her voice was sweet as honey but something was wrong. He would talk about his grand daughter, she was the safest of all subjects.

He thought he told a funny story about his grand daughter's chubby legs and how she learned to stand because of her jealousy for her cousin who was getting a lot of attention on Christmas day.

She heard a negative emotion and a negative body image projected on a baby by her Grand Father.

They went back to the art space and she told him how terrible his words were.
The love he had for her as a woman drained away as they argued in front of his artist friends.
She left and he sat behind the table and tried to sell T-Shirts, posters, postcards and storybooks.

The next day she came back and said she was sorry.

"You must hate me."

"I don't hate anyone."

"That's not the same as saying you love me."

He wish he could lie. Lying came so easy for him just a few months ago and now he wanted to do nothing but tell the truth no matter how painful it was. He decided he would say nothing.

"I'll come back later."

She turned and walked into the art fair. He sat depressed wishing someone, anyone would get him. Why couldn't he find a woman who knew what he was all about?

At the end of night she came back and they broke up.

As she drove away he thought how wonderful she was in so many ways.

She was such a sweet woman and she had been hurt by so many men in her life. Her heart was broken so many times. He asked himself why he had to be another heart breaker?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Master of Imagination

James Huebing-Reitinger, The Artist of the Intangible as it says on his Bio on the Project InSECT website but to me there is nothing intangible about James.

He is and always will be a Master of Imagination. When Project InSECT was only a few weeks old James said he was going to build a spider web out of white yarn to hang over the venue they were set up in.

"James that's going to look terrible."

I said not knowing how foolish I was.

"Well I'm going to do it."

Said James without pride in his voice but a steely determination.

I came into the Project InSECT venue a couple of days later and overhead was the most beautiful spider web I had ever seen made out of simple white yarn.

"I'm sorry James I was wrong. Your spider web is beautiful."

"Robert I can't believe you just apologized. Most people don't have the courage to admit they're wrong."

"Why wouldn't I admit I was wrong when I prejudged you and you proved me wrong?"

At that moment I think James and I became friends. Then I saw him use his giant imagination with the children that came into Project InSECT. Jessa was working on the first large painting for Project InSECT, Mildred the Mantis and James had a few live insects, a roll of white banner paper, some color markers, toy bug glasses and his infinite imagination. Near by this first venue was a multi-million dollar science museum. Project InSECT was free and most children and parents spent more time in Project InSECT than the science museum.

I heard hundreds of children say;

"But I don't want to go to the Science Museum mommy, I want to stay here."

I heard hundreds of mothers say;

"We only stayed at the Science Museum a few minutes and (child's name here) wanted to come back."

Jessa's masterpieces brought people in but James kept them coming back for more.

Those early days of James goofing with the kids and Jessa painting that first big painting in front the public are my favorite memories of Project InSECT. James now paints bug tattoos on children's arms and the magic imprinted in those little paintings makes him a true Master of Imagination.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Artist Hero

On Feb. 8th, 9th and 10th I did volunteer work for Project InSECT.

On those days I watched Jessa Huebing-Reitinger paint a beetle and become a hero to one little girl after another. She is a hero to women, boys and men but the looks in little girls eyes is magical.

"I like to paint horses."

Said a little girl to Jessa.

"I grew up on a horse farm."

Said Jessa.

"Oh that must have been wonderful but why do you paint bugs now?"

"To paint the beauty all around us but seldom seen and to show the value in the smallest of God's creatures. To educate how important insects are to us."

You could see the sparkle in the little girl's eyes as she hung on every word of her Artist Hero.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Wheel

The Wheel was a leader of the Heart Realm.

The Wheel became very ill and the power elite of the Heart Realm named a Griffin Nesting after him to honor him as he neared death.

The Wheel didn't die and he was given a new leadership role in the Greater Realm of Misery.

The Fool talked to the Wheel and told him the truth about the evil of the Rail Castle.

The Wheel talked to the Paper King and was threatened with the stripping of his power.

The Paper King used the Shield to strip the power from the Wheel.

The Shield was given Great Power in the Great Empire.

The Coin Troll became the new Heart Realm Leader and all were sad and remembered the good leadership of the Wheel.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Belly of Fire

The Warrior Wizards of the Greater Empire had learned how to control the fire stones mined from the earth. They used the fire stones to power their steel fish ships that traveled under the waves and the people of the Greater Empire accepted the risk. They used the fire stones to power their nesting ships that the Griffin Air Warrior used as their roust and the people accepted the risk. The Alchemists of the Greater Empire piled the fire stones into great power castles that ran the Crystal Cities and the people accepted the risk.

In the light of day the Alchemists created dragons from the flesh of lizards. These dragons could cross oceans and with balls of fire stones tied to their tails to destroy entire kingdoms and the people accepted this with great fear. The Warrior Wizards and Alchemists knew the people would accept a lot but not the feeding of fire stones to dragons. For the dragons fire was born in the belly of the beast in oily pools of vile. If a dragon took the fire stones into its belly of fire then his breath would be more poison than the people would accept.

In the dark of night the Alchemists created Fire Stone Dragons and flew them in secret.
They found ways to lessen the poison in the dragons breath and how to hide it in magical mist.
The Alchemists stole cows from farmers in the Greater Empire and cut the beast to pieces to see if they had been poisoned by the Fire Stone Dragon's breath. The Warrior Wizards made up stories about ghost clouds that stole cows and flew as fast as the Fire Stone Dragons for the people would accept that.

The Paper King

The Paper King and the Fool had been at war with each other for many years when the time of choosing came to the Realm of the Heart. The Fool had once worked for the Paper King in his Grand Rail Castle. The people of the Realm of the Heart believed the Rail Castle belonged to them but the Fool knew better.

For long ago the Fool's grandmother had sculpted the hair of the Rail Queen who owned the land the Rail Castle sat upon. The Rail Queen told the Fool's grandmother that she and her family owned the land and leased it to the people of the Realm of the Heart for 200 years. The Paper King bought the land from the family of the Rail Queen and hid the parchment that proved it deep in a tomb of knowledge.

The war between the Fool and the Paper King was a war between a gnat and a giant.

When the Fool uncovered the lie of the Rail Castle, the Paper King used a tall ugly Coin Troll to hid the lie again and made the Coin Troll the False Leader of the Realm of the Heart.
The Fool cost the Paper King millions of coins but it mattered little because the Paper King had billions of coins.

Then it was time to choose between the Lady of Tears and the Talk Queen's Friend for the ruler of the Greater Empire and the Fool and the Paper King were on the same side. The Fool thought the Talk Queen's Friend was best for the children of the Greater Empire and The Paper King was angry that the Lady of Tears didn't buy his paper when her husband the Painter of Blue Fabric ruled the Greater Empire.

The Fool laughed at the idea of the Lady of Tears losing the Empire because she bought the wrong paper.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Child Hero

I voted today in the Super Tuesday Primary.
I woke up not knowing if I would vote as a Republican or a Democrat.

I'm trying to get back to doing a post a day so I decided to do a story about a child hero.
Toni is a grown woman now but she will always be The Child Hero to me.

Hunger forced her to be both a sister and mother to her younger brothers.
Read the earlier post of The Invisible Picnic to know why I call her The Child Hero.

I changed from a Republican to a Democrat today for all the hero children of the United States of America. I voted for Obama because I believe he was once a Child Hero and would best understand how to help the children of my country.

I even added an Obama widget to this blog. I have nothing against any of the candidates but I do think Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton would look bad in the history books. This post isn't meant to tell anyone how to vote. Vote for who you believe in your heart is best for the country. I'm just telling you a faded memory of a child hero helped me decide how to vote.

I don't know if Toni is alive or dead.
In my heart I want to believe she is alive.
I wonder if the adult Toni voted for Obama today?

Monday, February 4, 2008


My wife worked as an Animal Control officer and I always complained about the menagerie of animals we had at our home. If I was Art Crazy my ex-wife was Animal Crazy. We had dogs, cats, rats, snakes, hedgehogs, lizards, frogs, birds, bugs, fish and a parade of other animal I can't even remember coming through our home over the years of our marriage. I'll never forget the day she called me to see if I would take care of an orphaned baby animal.

"If you don't take care of this orphaned animal I'll have to put him to death."

"Why can't you take care of him at the Animal Shelter?"

"I have to go out on calls. Please he's really cute."

"What kind of animal is he?"

"I'll bring him by the house. If you don't fall in love with him when you see him I won't say another word about it."

Jackie came by the house in the Animal Control truck. I was working on a new puppet for my nightclub act. I walked over to the truck and Jackie had a box on the hood with both her hands inside the open top.

"Jackie I don't think I can take of whatever it is. The nightclub manager wants me to add another puppet to my act by this weekend."

She lifted both her hands out of the box. His tail was curled around her right index finger and the baby possum was hanging upside down. In her left hand she was holding a small baby bottle and the inverted possum was feeding on it.

"Do I get to name him?"

"Sure Robert."

"Give me Charlie-O-Possum, I'll take care of him."

It wasn't hard to fall in love was Charlie. Our two sons helped feed our little friend the possum.
The only problem was your right index finger got tired during feedings.

After three weeks we found a wildlife center near the local zoo. They said they had already released a group of orphaned possums. The young possums helped each other make it in the wild till they got old enough to lead a solitary life. Charlie-O-Possum would become the wildlife centers mascot. We were asked not to visit him in the wildlife center so he could get use to his new handlers.

Next summer we went to the zoo and our sons wanted to go to the petting zoo. There was a mob of children around an animal at the center of the petting zoo. My sons Mark and Micheal went over to see what all the fuss was about. In the middle of the group of kids was a young adult possum. I had never seen a fluffy possum with clean hair. The children loved the possum and the possum seemed to love the children.

I asked the possum's handler what was the possum's name.

"The family of four that brought him to the wildlife center called him Charlie-O-Possum but we thought that was too corny so we just call him Charlie."

The Vollrath family possum had become a superstar.

An extended version of Charlie-O-Possum will be part of the novel The Smile.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Grandfather's First Date

I was going to spend the today with my best friend but she came came down with the flu.
Here is a post that is my favorite story about Sylvia's and Robert's friendship.

I recently became a grandfather and meet my granddaughter the day after her birth.
My heart melted as I held her in my arms. That evening I went to a Reception for a group of sculptures and asked my best friend Sylvia to come with me.

When I told a fellow artist that I had just become a grandfather, a couple that overheard the conversation congratulated Sylvia on becoming a grandmother.
Sylvia isn't a grandmother and has children that are younger than mine.

She didn't correct the couple and thanked them.

This is the first time I've had a woman pretend to be the grandmother of my grandchild.

My Brand of Censorship

This post was originally posted on Diesel Spleen on 11-4-07.

I believe in some forms of censorship. I was censored for the first time on the internet when my post Damnation Donuts was deleted on my blog Diesel Spleen. I'm glad Blogger censored that post and I regret I wrote the mean punch line to the set up of the title.

That one line was out of context to the story The Donut Bribe which is the true tale of low level police corruption and my own personal corruption.
Most police have treated me with respect with very few exceptions.

My apologies to the police of the world for my lap in judgment in posting Damnation Donuts.

No one really wants a world without censorship, we all just want a world with our own brand of censorship.

All posts that originally appeared in the blog Diesel Spleen and are now posted in Endangered Truth have been removed from the older blog.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Donut Bribe

Originally posted on my blog Diesel Spleen on Friday, August 31, 2007.

First let me say I'm not writing this to put down the hard working police officers of the world but to simply to chronicle a life lesson. My original post of Damnation Donuts has disappeared from my blog Diesel Spleen. I don't know what happened to it but perhaps it was a bit too harsh.
So here is the true story that missing post was based on.

Many years ago in the decade known as the eighties, I got a job at a donut shop as a baker.
The donut shop was part of a nation wide chain of donut shops that had popular TV Ads.
My first day at work I was told by my boss to give all policemen free donuts.
Wanting to be a good employee I gave all policemen who came to the donut shop, the donut bribe.

Then one day it happened, a honest policeman wouldn't take the donut bribe and paid the full price including tax. A few weeks later while I was frying donuts in hot oil ( I was hired as a baker that never baked anything) the donut shop was robed. The girl at the front counter came back screaming saying two men with guns had robed her.

Before I go on with the rest of the story I must tell you how much I hated my donut shop job.
For a little above minimum wage I was bribing a large number of policemen each week.
The one honest policeman made me feel even worst about the protection racket that I had become a part of. I was breaking the law so some rich fat cat could get the police to hang out at his donut shops.One afternoon two of my best friends from high school walked in and my heart sank. I had the mark of failure and the best man at my wedding had become a lawyer.

The front counter girl asked me to call the police. So I called the police and in all honesty I didn't give a donut hole that the shop had been robed. I'm sure the dispatcher picked up that indifference in my voice. When the police came they thought I was in on the robbery and began to question me. Neither of the two policemen were the honest policeman and I began to think how they asked me to rob the donut shop every day when they took the donut bribe.

Then they asked me the question that made me angry.

"Why didn't you look out the back door to see who robed the place?"

"I don't get paid to get shot at, you do."

As soon as I said it I regretted it. The police decided the girl at the front counter was in on the robbery and she was fired. I was told I was in the clear because I was in the back frying donuts.
I knew better but decided I couldn't quit my job I hated so much or I would look guilty.

Two weeks after the robbery every policeman in three counties came to get two dozen free donuts on the same night. I say every policeman but the one honest policeman never showed up.

By 1:00 a.m. I was out of donuts. As fast as I could make donuts a policeman would come by and ask for two dozen donuts. By 3:00 a.m. I got tired of this and stopped making donuts.
When policemen came by and asked for free donuts I told them no and it felt good.

My boss came in at 5:00 a.m. and saw the near empty donut case.
I quit before she could fire me.

Note; No policewoman asked for the donut bribe.

A extended version of The Donut Bribe will be part of the novel The Invisible Picnic.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Last Dream Standing

I sat in the bank waiting to talk to Mrs. Gray. I had been unemployed for over three years because I worked on the movie Begging for Billionaires and had been black listed because I had took on the power elite of the city of my birth.

"Mrs. Gray will see you now."

I walked into Mrs. Gray office to ask for a job that only payed a hundred dollars a month.

"I knew all your grandparents they were very poor but we were all poor during the depression."

Nice, I thought to myself. My whole family turned into trash in one sentence.

"Maria is paying you $400.00 a month for the job?"

"No, only a hundred a month."

"That's all, I thought she was sub-contracting it to you for $400.00 a month."

I quit the job before I started. Maria Otter and I are no longer friends.

I pulled a U-Haul trailer from Kansas City Missouri to Cheyenne Wyoming with my own car to help Dick Herman move back to his hometown. It cost me over $500.00 and my best friend never payed me back. We are no longer best friends.

Jenny Fencing asked me work on a nonprofit movie for a museum. I agreed to shot the movie for $25.00 for the video tape and a promise it would be screened free and never sold.
I was never payed the $25.00 and it sells for $10.00 VHS and $20.00 DVD on the internet and in the museum.

All three of these lost friends have dreams.

Maria dreams of becoming a great director.
Dick dreams of becoming a great actor.
Jenny dreams of becoming a superstar.

To all my lost friends, I forgive you but I'll never trust you again.

You have my pity and my love.

For the last dream standing is always love.

These aren't the real names of my lost friends.