Saturday, January 14, 2017

Active meditation; Taking down the tree; By trinketry, charmed; Maybe then I could drum like Dad; First 100 hours vigil; No snail to speak of; Bell signals


Taking Down the Tree
by Jane Kenyon

Listen Online

“Give me some light!” cries Hamlet’s
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. “Light! Light!” cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it’s dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.
The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother’s childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.
With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcase increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.
By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it’s darkness
we’re having, let it be extravagant.

"Taking Down the Tree" by Jane Kenyon from Collected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2005


By trinketry, charmed, I'm sure!

the 1940s and up
my mother Ruth and aunt Frances
and a lot of  other women across the land
wore trendy charm bracelets.

Dee advised they still are worn.
I remember enjoying playing with the charms
that had moving parts, like water wheels, ferris wheels,
bear traps, little lawn mowers, pliers, etc.

As the trend continued into the 1950s and 1960s
they seemed to faze-out by my experience;
the charms became intricater and intricater

and some lucky charmers had hefty bracelets
on their laden wrists
more and more of these trinkets
end-to-end and even overlapping in their linkages sometimes

and some were made of sterling Silver!
The better off braceleteers who wore fur coats
and fancy gloves had ALL Sterling charms
around their cocked wrists.

Don't notice, but please do.

For more info check the Wiki link:

As the Raccoon editor is known as a trinket lover
(ask son Leland about that)
I found myself in the 70s buying
a Mexican rosewood cross

encrusted on the front surface
with tiny copper charms
on topics seemingly unrelated
at least at first glance

tacked onto the cross with very small brads
also of copper.

A closer view shown below
how the craftsman must have shorn the
linkage bracelet fittings to allow for the
smoother brad cross mounting.

There would have been much work -
a lot of fine filing involved:

The Old Rugged Cross
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary
So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Emerson Helt on Christmas drum
(drums a matter of time only)

Young Emerson Helt, grandson of John and Cindy Helt
found a St. Vinny's real snare drum under the tree.

Previous Emerson pix in the Raccoon:

Mom, Granny Helt and Emerson
(named after Granny's father)


First 100 Hour Vigil Milwaukee

Where: City Hall Rotunda
When: January 20th  Noon -1pm

"During the first 100 hours of the new US administration,
it's vital that people of faith show our love for the Earth,
and our commitment to people, planet, and communities. Around the country, people are organizing vigils - with diverse faith communities and people of good will - to show our care and commitment publicly.”  
Our local vigil is Noon City Hall Rotunda on the 20th!

Religious Leaders from the interfaith community will be present
to implore the new Administration:
Keep Good Faith On Our Climate Commitments

Green Faith and Interfaith Power & Light, as part of the People’s Climate Movement are encouraging these vigils.  


Ed. side note - Our incoming sage confers the title of over-rated on Meryl Streep.
This from the 'master' of self-over-ratedness.




In late November
we sent out twenty-two letters
each stamped with our mark:
'Send More Snail (SRN)'

Then we sat back to see how many would heed
the request.

Of the 22 letters
we got zero (0) replies
conforming to the snail request.

There were a few Email acknowledgments
per the preferred cheaper method of the day.

Nobody sends postage-stamp invested
mail anymore, it seems.

But wait a minute:
there is one since 1960 correspondent, Bob Heeschen
of St. Paul who still sends  snail.

Below is his latest here, with paper clippings
of items he found interesting.

Bob, who like me is eighty (80),
has a reverence for the postal service like mine, I think.

Ray S. Dix

(Below from our Raccoon archives)

The warnings of coming diminished postal service is sad news.

In my early days, the daily post office trip was a ceremony for my Grandfather Ray Dix.
When visiting him in Cedar Falls Iowa I would get to ride down to the mail 'temple' - to Ray it was that - in the family jitney, where Grandpa in his insurance man attire of white shirt, hat, tie and Union Central tie clip, and clean creased trousers would descend from the running board of his car with me in tow, at the post office. It was a columned structure Grandpa held in high reverence. So I thought, at least.

Grandpa would withdraw his P.O. box 'password' on his important looking pocket key chain he wore clipped to his waist. He would smilingly find the small brass key, insert it in the lock, slowly turn it, working the mystical mechanism, while looking significantly at me.

I would wonder what the important mail would be inside.

Grandpa would gather all of it up and without looking at it, take it in a bundle under his arm to drive it back home. Then he would carefully study each envelope before opening them at his desk in the big dining room at 2009 Clay Street.

He carefully, slowly handled his Union Central Life Insurance letter opener like a scalpel, sharp and sure. Each letter got the attention it deserved, for Grandpa was seriously at work there in his workplace, the dining room.

He had a glass-topped desk and a swivel chair. His shirt sleeves were worn with rubber bands around his elbows. He smoked a pipe almost all the time.

In the post-Depression years Grandpa was a hero to many, including Iowa farmers around Cedar Falls, for whom' he delivered the goods', the good news; he made his customers aware that they had insurance he had sold them that had cash value that could be borrowed-upon.

Checks would come to him via the post office temple and he would promptly deliver them personally. When I was down in Cedar Falls I got to ride with Grandpa on some of those check delivery visits to appreciative farmsteads. " Look, here comes Ray Dix down our drive! Maybe he got something in the mail!"

I was little, but I knew then my Grandpa was a life-saver.


Bell signals

Image from Tom  and Lenore Bentz' Xmas card this year

Bell Signals

The church bell lodged in ancient timbers
At the steepletop
Rung by rope knotted into a gigantic wooden pulley wheel
- mechanical advantage -
Strung down through air and pigeon leavings
Emerging cleanly in the vestibule   
A strong Sunday-dressed child can ring it

Doves lodged in ancient timbers
Flutter in and out through louvers
Chicken-wired but time-worn
Keeping their high watches over the town
From coved and linteled archways
Cooing mildly   feather-cuddling  silent

Generations of doves nestled
In sanctuary at this height
Lived with the sleeping giant
Awakened only on Sunday mornings to summon
The attention of the worshipers gathered below
An under-used instrument
Calling not because of fire, death,
Disaster or rebellion

Struck in a foreign foundry over a century ago
Freighted to this town to be hoisted aloft
To be rung sedately by Congregationalists
A ton of bronze lodged in ancient timbers
With peaceful quiet doves
Might be sounding greater attentions
 in times like these

Might be rung in shifts 24 hours a day
With all bells everywhere
Across the world ringing out   
its own ton of bronze
With thousands more might speak out
In mad clamor to the heavens
Our ancient dusty megaphone
Oiled for Sunday use only

Treasured mighty bell
Voice above us though out of our sight;
The news from The Holy Land
makes me think we should ring you
Until we lose consciousness


'Congo' steeple bell in Waukesha

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Maybe that's what it is; More Christmas; Complaint; Collecting cocktail napkins; Way back when


When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother’s piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold
And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying
Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country
I’ve never understood
Why this is so
But there’s an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest
And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country
We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows
Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.

"Music" by Anne Porter from Living Things. © Zoland Books, 2006


More Christmas

Making Xmas cards

The pile grows 

The tree towers up in the poor man's penthouse

A new trinket ornament from Tin Toy Arcade

Two other newbies from same source
a Graf Zeppelin and a disco ball

In the glow of the fire, the Yule 

KD seizes a cast-off box cover

...and makes it her own - regularly sleeps within it, to date

Ben and Erin look up on Xmas Day  wearing their 
Xmas cracker/popper paper hats.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly rides with daughter in the Xmas Parade;
passes under our windows.


She’s gone. She was my love, my moon or more.
She chased the chickens out and swept the floor,
Emptied the bones and nut-shells after feasts,
And smacked the kids for leaping up like beasts.
Now morbid boys have grown past awkwardness;
The girls let stitches out, dress after dress,
To free some swinging body’s riding space
And form the new child’s unimagined face.
Yet, while vague nephews, spitting on their curls,
Amble to pester winds and blowsy girls,
What arm will sweep the room, what hand will hold
New snow against the milk to keep it cold?
And who will dump the garbage, feed the hogs,
And pitch the chickens’ heads to hungry dogs?
Not my lost hag who dumbly bore such pain:
Childbirth at midnight sassafras and rain.
New snow against her face and hands she bore,
And now lies down, who was my moon or more.

"Complaint" by James Wright from Above the River: Complete Poems. © Noonday Press, 1992


cocktail napkins

A woman from church
may drink only for her burgeoning
cocktail napkin collection.

She recently made over 300 coasters
for an upcoming wedding reception.

It is rumored that
she is only into the drinking
for the cocktail napkins.

Barkeeps wink and play along.
She insists she doesn't have a problem -
 she's only it in for the souvenirs.



Back when

Back when a President set a precedent,
and was a prime writer, editor and inspirer, 
Lincoln gave a draft of his first inaugural address to his incoming Secretary of State, William Seward, who offered this as an olive branch to seceding Southern states:
" 'I close. We are not, we must not, be aliens or enemies, but fellow-countrymen and brethren. Although passion has strained our bonds of affection too hardly, they must not, I am sure they will not, be broken. The mystic chords which proceeding from so many battlefields and so many patriot graves, pass through all the hearts and all the hearths in this broad continent of ours, will yet harmonize in their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angels of the nation.'
"But it was Lincoln's revision that made this soar:
" 'I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.'

Submitted by Rev/Dr Tom Bentz, Delaware, retired

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sewer Raccoons around the world; Don't worry; An esteemed visitor; Gourd work; 2016 Christmas manifestations

Sewers, Raccoons, and water


As we approach the new year
and some portents thereof: 

be happy

and THIS!
If this one does not start at the very beginning
just run the time bar all the way to the left, to zero, start.

Take the time to listen to this lovely series of songs
Just let your PC run...


Hawk Mahoney

A noble warrior sort of fellow
paid an unannounced and very welcome visit
dropping in out of the kind of skies he soars

struggling to make a landing
here at The Odd Fellows without its means of entrance
- the door bell and intercom systems
do not work, much to our liking
but certainly not to other residents -

bumping into Dee luckily
in the building lobby
making her exit.

After a couple years of no contact
Hawk came bearing a gift
at Christmas time:
Brad Hawiyeh-ehi crafted
bread-warming gourd.

It has occupied a happy space
on top of our fireplace heater.

A gourd due to its nature
is an insulator
like wrapping a down vest
around yourself.

It keeps warmed bread or rolls warm longer.

Raccoon readers will remember Hawk
from this posting and others ~

Friends as this Hawk I tell you from my experience
do not just fall out of trees.
They fly from skies.

Good luck to you in finding your own.


Gourd work


Gourd vines unfurl on the trellis
So fast now that a pulse is nearly felt
at the growth tips

Little buds that will be flowers
emerge from nothing
Up the wire mesh go the vines
a rung or two at a time

and the tendrils wave
and writhe in air
seeking purchase
Wire to bend

Finding something to grab onto
they kink up
in tight spirals
like octopus tentacles

Twelve plants started from seed
in my south window sill indoors
fragile they were and now

They have enough
collective force to produce
a bin of future horns, rattles
bowls and dippers

or to make good on a sci-fi
and do me in
I will not turn my back on them

At night through the open
bedroom window I hear them
muscling their way toward me

I could have stopped them once
but now they have
harnessed the sun
and they want to grow
all over me

I have to make a run past
this trellis in the morning
when I go to work
They might snatch an arm or pantleg

but I close the door on
the offending tentacles
and back down the drive
a struggle between an auto
engine and photosynthesis

So far the car always wins
and the tendril ends whimper
when their connexions to the mother vine
and come bungeeing back
at the windshield

Neighbor's pets
have begun to disappear
 The vines have a way
of beckoning innocently
like a benign cobra

You have to stare at them
and  you want
to move in for a closer look
because you are curious
aren't you?


[ãDavid Zep Dix 2001]


Christmas manifestations 2016

Dee in a shopping trip picked up a box of surprise 'crackers'.
We tugged at them on Christmas day dinner.

Erin and Ben were here.
These holiday novelties took two people to explode,
one at each end pulling vigorously.

When the cracker blew up it spread
a variety of delights:

A paper hat; an Origami figure with instructions
on how to fold; jokes, riddles, etc.

Here, Ben attempts a folding jumping frog:


                                                                               Wm Blake be continued