Thursday, July 31, 2008

We don't need it..................

Sometimes doubles or triples.............

Daughter Erin moves out tomorrow for her first apartment. She will go to Madison where she will attend grad school in September.

Son David Jr. loaned us his large utility van for the first load inluding Erin's refinished dresser that stood in service in Erin's bedroom for years, in its original pea green paint, until last year when Dee bit the bullet and refinished it to its golden oak underneath the horrid paint we made Erin live with for so long. She never complained.

Also going is a second-hand store desk with a glass top which Erin bought in July. She didn't think she would use the glass top but was advised by David that glass tops are great for putting pictures and things under. OK, she said.

Plenty of other goods will fit in the van, too, including among many things the dross from our kitchen utensil drawer that Dee cleaned out last night. It was the kind of drawer that was so loaded with stuff that digging through it was a matter of having to be careful that it would close again.

This an experience that every parent goes through. An up-side is that now we can get to our kitchen tools again. The down-side?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Unlike a dead atheist

all dressed up
and do have someplace
to go
though it might not be
as Saul Alinsky said:
"We will either find a way,
or make one..."

Two blind men

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Goes with pictures below:

We must have hit the wrong key and it published!

The theme is that this is an enchanted time at the sewer raccoon district. A magical time at the close of July. These are not three unrelated photos, no indeed. In the large one, gourds unwind on the dead Tamarack and the unicyclist sculpture standing next to it. In the coming days they will cavort to the sky!

One can almost watch the little writhing lariats whirling in air, seeking purchase. Go inside and they will have grabbed a higher rung in your absence. The gourds are secretive in this sense. They seem to hate being watched doing their thing.

We know that faeries dance from blossom to blossom at night. The raccoon queen strolls around, waiting for a rendezvous with the king? Cabbages take shape. And all at the sewer grate's threshold, doorway to another world.

Thrill ride with Poppy!


To ride in a golf cart...................

We’ve heard of retirement complexes where the aged residents bomb (!) all around their gated and be-swimming-pooled complexes on golf carts, or down to the shopping mall within the self-contained settlements, visiting like-minded neighbors whenever it is convenient, between doctors’ visits and med regulations. On golf carts.

Thank gosh for the rumble seat for the secret service guys…………….

Saturday, July 26, 2008

real one

As a Realtor, the raccoonteur had a few casual shirts made up for doting clients, and himself, even.

They were embroidered, - DAVID DIX REALTOR in black thread -though the above picture doesn't clearly show that machine-wrought workmanship. What a pity to still have those perfectly good and little-worn garments and not feel enfranchised in his present incarnation to wear blatant proclamations of that prior and less-enlightened livelihood.

What could be done, via his simple paint brushes with which he attached so many false neckties upon T shirts, using acrylic (washable forever) paint?

Eureka. Ergo & to-wit: see illus.

Not satisfied with this single revelation of his [real] "realness," he painted out the last two letters on the sign still flown over the back office door. That was alot easier than to take down the heavy chunk of sand-blasted white-on-black wood entirely, and then have to probably repaint the white house wall after filling in the big holes of the lead anchors used to mount the sign, many years ago.
With these small changes wrought with paint, he glossed over a chapter of a life that was somewhat ill-founded to begin with. It all feels very "Moving Finger of
Fate" - ish.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Please give us peace:


We here in the sewer raccoon district, where the 40 daily and nightly diesel trains roll past with horns blasting SEEMINGLY AT OUR VERY DOORSTEPS with unrepentent - some say sadistic - leanings on their air levers - blasting us from our beds and tilting us even from our wakened prone positions..................... have come up with a non-violent almost Gandhian solution.

The idea came to us on Wednesday when we visited the Kohler art museum in Sheboygan WI. Stepping into the gift shop there - even at our age still interested - we spied the old time train whistle toy. Anyone can buy these for 7 bucks. These whistles have three distinct but simultaneous tones, giving that beautiful train sound of the disappeared steam engines. (This is not a new idea. We used to have one of these years ago. Our daughter who played with it, now a graduate with a music minor from Lawrence, advises that in her perfect pitchdom she can sometimes discern 9 different tones in a "monotone" diesel horn. We cannot.]

It is unlikely that one person could with his sole breath blow one of these at the passing and blaring trains and make any difference. BUT..............if everybody got them and blew them simultaneously at our daily and nightly invaders, whole armies of dissident citizens gathered at the railroad crossings together, choirs of whistle-blowers blowing as one, at Maple St, Broadway, Hartwell & Arcadian, Main St. and etc., I dare say it would make these engineers sense something was afoot. No pitchforks, no hoes, no ax-handles would be needed to scare them. Let the people rule, and in peace!

Mayors and aldermen and train commitee adjudicators, even the guy who forgot to file the quiet zone papers on time, would have to take note. It would make more of an impression than all the phone calls to city hall, letters to the editor and all the gutless, unsigned Sound-Offs.


Oh yes, one other thing:

How about those very few people who say we are whiners complaining about the horns? Could it be that they are deaf? Hiding behind deafness, a bona fide ailment, to make inaudible cap-pistol statements?

And to the train defenders who say it's our own fault and stupidity to live so close to the tracks, the raccoon districters say -

When we built these houses or obtained them, most of us, years ago, the railroad was a romantic and peripheral blessing. These too-frequent trains, gathering in importance in the freight energy crunch, seem to have moved in much closer to our rattling stoops.

In the meantime, while this easement and return to silence is awaited, whenever a trail blows I don't call the mayor, poor guy, or even my alderman, or the cops. I simply sit up bolt upright and exclaim to my wife, Mrs. Raccoon: "What in the F---- was That?"

In that way I do not allow myself to get used to these things. People may be counting on that. I know what the noise was, but even in the dead of night we can always use a good laugh, albeit a rueful one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


NEW YORK -- A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. 'Al-gebra is a problem for us', the Attorney General said. 'They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.' They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'. When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, 'If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.' White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President.
[Submitted to the News by S/A Bob]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My one cent's worth

Who cares?

When I assumed my unbenightening position above in the early light of today's morning, I found another well-placed reprint from the New York Times, a column by that man who has such an interesting name, Verlyn Klinkenborg. A friend in White Folks' Bay who sends me many NY Times pieces, all of which are appreciated and some find their way down into the raccoon sewerage, has, I feel, hand-chosen me for the one that follows below.

It gives the editor of this particular piece of internet navel lint - the Sewer Raccoon News - an occasion to expound briefly, after which I will allow Klinkenborg's words to obtain today and evermore, for they are gilded. Him I read. Him I dig.


We here do not give a fig for surface recognition in glimpses of the sort Verlyn alludes. Nobody reads the News, as far as I know, except me, here. I write it, I read it. It speaks to me. Period.

A company of one.

I don't ever check to see if there are any comments posted, and that is good because there aren't any, as far as I know. I conjure that any accidental readers about raccoon doings - and their underground affiliages - know, going in, that we here do not give a BR's A if we glean any gauzy following from Klinkenborg's cosmic target area.

Before the days of the internet we laid down a path in other organs via mimeo - Vulcan Weathervanes; YIBAWE!; etc. - that aimed to impart our assumed knowledge. What gall! Nobody much read those either. Like blazing a trail through sequoias with a jackknife, nobody saw the trail. And, did not need any trails of mine if there ever were any. I did not have the right tools, another minor thing.

That is understandable, for I know my (thy) self. The Sewer Raccoon News was conceived originally and continues to be a "random diary" - not a blog, a word I hate. Lodged in the eternal (?) internet, these ruminations are laid down for my children pretty much only.


Published: July 22, 2008

One of my great surprises from roaming the library stacks during graduate school was discovering that every author, no matter how minor, was already the subject of a quarterly or a newsletter. I would stumble upon a new name — Felicia Hemans, say, or Edward Young — and find that there was already a society devoted to their work, even, in many cases, a concordance and an annual meeting with elected officers. I had the distinct feeling that I had arrived late in the day, after the literary teams had all been chosen.

Additional commentary, background information and other items by Times editorial writers I get the same feeling — vastly multiplied — from the many worlds of social networking on the Web. I get wind of a new site, pay it a visit and discover that it already has a population four times the size of some midsized countries — everyone speaking the local dialect, taboos and kinship patterns well worked out, a robust economy and brisk trading with other social-networking sites. I have begun to fear the result if one site declared war on another. What if Bebo fired upon fubar? What if LinkedIn threatened to blockade imeem?

I can see the appeal of a virtual community. I’ve joined three or four of these groups, partly just to see what’s going on but also to reconnect with old acquaintances and find new music. But some of these sites I don’t quite get.

I’ve used Twitter a couple of times since it came to the iPhone recently. The idea is to send short messages — microblog entries of 140 characters or less — to a group of people who are “following” you. The reason is so they’ll know what you’re doing. What I come away with is a mental image of 30 or 40 people following me around all day long asking “Whatcha doing?” while I’m trying to work.

One effect of so much social networking — so many overlapping communities of interlinked individuals — is that the language of actual human interaction begins to feel degraded. What can the word “friend” mean after Facebook, where it is really a synonym for “coincidence”? How subtle can the emotions be in a TiVo-ish world like iLike, where it’s thumbs up or thumbs down? There’s no room even for the hand-wiggle that means “meh.”

There is, of course, a pleasure in sharing the things you love. But the greater pleasure will always be secret sharing. You find a book you love, you tell your best friend about it and the two of you share the secret. Something is ruined if your friend tells someone else about the book. Surely you remember this from fifth grade. I hope there will be room soon for some anti-social Web sites — places on the Web where you can go to be alone, to hide from your “friends.” Perhaps that is what real life is for. VERLYN KLINKENBORG


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Waukesha Man, large sense of the word

Muck-raker, literally

Long-time Waukeshan, he in earlier days mucked out deserted Waukesha springs, and often had the muddied self to prove it. The above photo is from the back cover of his book, The Great Waukesha Springs Era 1868-1918, available through the Waukesha County Historical Society museum. (and Martha Merrill's and other book stores.)

When he was a child of about 10 years old, early Waukesha Man was taken by his aunt to see a hotel in Cedarburg WI that was about to be demolished. "As we walked along an overgrown path through the woods, we crossed over stone bridges and rock formations. A clear, cool stream wandered next to the path. Soon we came to a spring that fed the stream. My aunt explained what a spring was, and showed me the cool, clear water. It was a place of wonderment to me..."

Thus, in Hiawathan form, ultimately began an exploration and documenting of the history of Waukesha water, a mystical substance of great value to the town's reputation and economy. The city's official seal shows a pre-dater of that later commercial development, an Indian maiden dipping water in its even purer form, with a gourd - such as grown here in the SR District.

This Waukesha Man is the magazine editor who published some of the raccoon news poetry before it was even known as that. (in LANDMARK, quarterly publication of the Waukesha Historical Society.)

Here he is now, for the benefit of way-out-of-towners, the one and only:

John M. Schoenknecht

shown with the ORIGINAL tin sign emblem of old and now gone Waukesha Foxhead Brewery, an artifact he had at home in his basement museum until he recently made a major donation of his memorabilia to the public, via the museum.

See it there, and get a copy of his definitive book.

There are several website links, including this one:

Also, you can look for John's Waukesha history columns periodically in the local Waukesha FREEMAN newspaper.

Pop. Evansville WI, down one

Harry's gone

In the big amoeba paint-blotch
of life
With arms pushing out
Determining direction
According to strength
And reaching power

Some might say
Harry wasn’t around long enough
To make a major difference -
Three and a half years only

Isn’t much
For a cat they expected more from
His brief brush of reaching
Clutching batting padding
Amounted to -
What’s that you say?

Tell that to the now artless grieving mistresses
In the old household
Who won’t forget that blackening;

A mere touch on the bigger palette
Of Evansville neighborhood life
But what a bold stroke of black it was!
He knew every inch
Of his canvassed top-to-bottom world

Every cockle of his owners’ hearts
And now there’s a missing arm
In the works;
Busted amoeba; unfinished painting

Adios amigo
Go with God
Or with the Godesses
Who oversaw

Zep 7-21-08

Monday, July 21, 2008

Status of the local planet, in microcosm:

The former Lake Delton, WI

Chagrined tourists peer at the waterless lake in the WI Dells area, drained dry through a breech of a berm surrounding the made-made structure during the recent heavy rains and flooding. This is the lake made famous in videoclips shown around the world when exotic houses washed down from their tenuous perches and floated toward their nemises, adrift and crushed.

Surveying the lake bottom, viewers see the stumps of leveled trees covered once by a shimmering lake, now muddy sludge. The compliment of undegraded junk tossed overboard from pleasure boats completes the sordid picture.

We cannot keep from seeing this image as standing for the overall state of our once artful planet. The lake will be restored, authorities are saying..........

Let's hear that for the Gaia.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We would be worried
our noble and soon to be EX-president
advises there is nothing to all this global warming business.

Maybe next year, or the year after.........

The trumpet vinage will eventually cover the huge trellis

What are you doing, Dave? You've got a great big trellis and just that little shoot of a vine at its vast base to justify it?

The late Lawnist, Joe, thought is was another hare-brained idea of ours. Ever a pruner and a tuner, Joe once gathered the gumption to ask if he could trim the bridal veil shrub at the base of our driveway that parallels his. It was blocking his view when he came to the end of his slenderer driveway.

Sure, we said! Go ahead and take it out entirely, we joked. But that was what he had the landscaper do, we observed after it was too late. We heard a tree-chipping machine like out of FARGO out there, grinding up the last of the quickly-leveled bush branches. Well, we "said;" we 'joked;" we "saw!"

Two years later, the trumpet vine shows signs of covering the trellis, and the bridal veil bush, (foreground) is almost back where it was.

Joe, bless him, is dead. There used to be a weekly newsreel clip at the old Bucket of Blood theater (no TV news in those days) that started out with a fanfare and a very deep voice declaring:

Time marches on!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let's hear it for C Sections!

Something there is that doesn't like (permanence)
or any semblance of it.......................

with a nod to Robert Frost

Oh yes, we’ve assembled many a thing with nails and screws, even with oxyacetylene welding - at 6000 degrees F - to make them last. But under it all we’ve always had a thing for configurations that can be quickly taken apart. Folding tables, telescopes, umbrellas, tents, stuff that can be made smaller or made to disappear at will.

It is even more-so now. Could it be that we are aging and see remaining life as a camping trip? All trappings to be easily folded and put away when the time comes?

We thought about that when it came time to assembling a wire trellis framework up on the deck, which on our old house in the raccoon district is merely a 2nd floor rug-shaking porch, only slightly bigger. It is not a DECK deck in the 21st century sense of the word. This is 1914 vintage deckery.

How would I build this framework?

It would be simplest to nail or screw these boards to the existing deck members, but my mind came coming back to someone eventually taking it down, and how much easier it would be if I just used C-clamps. So I did. Let the gourds grow all over that.

And, let the coons say Amen.

What makes the world come together

Paul McCartney and Billy Joel at Shea's close
The other night Billy Joel played a concert at the soon to be demolished Shea Stadium, in New York. Three hours into the concert Joel announced the presence of guest artist Paul McCartney who played with the Beatles at Shea in the 6o’s. He'd flown in from London to be there with Joel. The packed to over-flowing crowd exploded. When McCartney strode onto the stage to join up with Joel, by reports it was orgasmic.

These artists are legitimizers of humankinds’ presence on this planet. That is our observation as we've witnessed and paid attention to their prolific birthing phenomena, their songs and lyrics washing over the world and cleansing it, pointing to righted trajectories, to smallest and greatest loves exulted.

It was said that no right-wing conservative ever wrote a good folk song. What keeps us in the ranks of these creators if only to listen over and over…….and over, and hanker for lost connections with truth, and searching endlessly for Joel and McCartney (et al) “wire endings” to twist together, is the sure knowledge that the Light is out there. They help to assure it.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Fritz Eichenberg: The Christ of the Bread Line

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Cat rides on walker tray
There is an elderly woman we've heard of
who needs to be encouraged to get up
and exercise herself.
It happens (?) that her likewise aged cat
likes to jump on her walker and begs to be taken for a ride
around the house.
The woman daily satisfies her beloved pet's urge
to see her world with a friend
and walks her, as around a neighborhood.
Simba symbiosis?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One guy we will miss

They buried Bob Easterling today.

We knew Bob for years as a member of the First Congregational Church UCC, Waukesha WI. When we read the obituary we decided to attend the service. That might not have been the case but for our noticing that Bob was a para-glider in WW II. The fact that he never mentioned that to us, AND that he called us Captain when we led a church ushering team and acquiesced jovially to our terming him "Private Easterling" during those later years when Bob's hearing was failing ( he heard us nonetheless, augmenting his hearing by reading our lips?)............we gotta go.

We didn't know, Bob, we didn't know you were a para-glider when we jokingly called you "Easter egg." YIBAWE was never more apt. "Yes, ............AND WHAT ELSE?

Rest, Bob, in peace with your beloved Naomi!

Read about Bob's outfit.


Monday, July 14, 2008



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?


[ 2001]


many people wonder

Where do the multitude of ideas for the Sewer Raccoon News come from?

They swear it's a though we write down the first thing that pops into our heads. And they're right. The allium at the right of the "printing press" exemplifies the random bursts that empower us.


IN THIS CULTURALLY-DIVERSE neighborhood, there is room for baby rabbits, and they have sanctuary here in the backyard of the sewer raccoon news office. This picture taken through the window rather inexactly shows four little ones. If the mother were in the frame, the reader would know just how little they are by comparison, but she refused to join them for a family portrait. She had them covered, though.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Let's see if they print this:

Waukesha raccoons and humans enraged
at train noise

TO THE FREEMAN July 13, 2008

Many months have passed since we’ve set pen to paper in a letter to the editor of your newspaper. We vowed never again to write to you until you rid the pages of our beloved local (and historic) newspaper of the comments of Revolter, Bellering & etc.

But “It is a Long Road That Never Turns…………..”

And, “Times change, and with them, their demands.”

Something has come up of such community concern that we of the part of town known as the Sewer Raccoon District must speak out. That district is centered at Arcadian Avenue and Colton Street, including the railroad crossing one block away from here. [The coordinates more familiar to your readers are Arcadian and Hartwell.]

We residents of this immediate vicinity – both above and below ground – have had it with the mega-blaring train horns day and night. Especially at night. We understand that there is some dispute as to who is at fault in the easing of the restrictions designed to create quiet zones as the many, many, many trains pass through our city.

The populace is becoming uneasy over this. Petitions are being circulated. Politicians’ offices are in danger, for the trains and their horn decibels in the approaching distance bisect several aldermanic territories. Alas, we fear that somehow the mantle of disgrace (noose) will be hung around the already-laden neck of the well-meaning Mayor Larry Nelson.

There is an internet organ called the Sewer Raccoon News emanating from the raccoon district. It has not taken up the cudgel of the train blarings yet, but it about to.

The raccoons, co-citizens of this zone, are mumbling as they slip into the storm grates about how living in the sewers used to be an elective. Now, they must go below to protect their ears.
Those of us whose bedrooms are perforce above-ground and near to the tracks have no such option. We've even heard that church services are being disturbed.


Managing Editor, Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News

Saturday, July 12, 2008



She literally STOOD guard while her babies stayed hidden in the tall grass. There is a nest, for sure! Mona the cat, linked to her chain outside the back door, watched intently but did not charge her. The rabbit was within the radius of her "cable tow." Mona could have nabbed it, but she only watched, as we watched them both through the window.

Either Mona has come to an "at one with the universe" circumspection in her older age, or she saw that the rabbit was armed.

The rabbit numbers, I reflected with another sewer raccoon district neighbor, are rampant around here. He counted five in his back yard yesterday.....

IN 1972

We welded.........
a man with now truncated arms, using scrap steel from a junkyard, our endless supplier of material. He has a big and real copper heart. He smiles, thanks to the heat of the gas welding equipment. His pieces were formed by the gas cutting torch.
He stands welded to a farm disker plate.

He was painted a light green because we thought as the copper heart aged it would take on that approximate patina. But it never did. It stayed true to it's copper self through years of standing outside in the elements. The green-painted iron body has rusted, but not completely.

At first we had the originally longer armed man holding a stick spinning a recycled barbecue grill hoop, the way kids used to do, to see how long they could keep them running down the sidewalks before they wobbled and fell out of control.

Fraught with (now raccoon district) symbolism.

But eventually the forearms broke off and the grill was discarded. The man stood his posts in his various domiciles with nothing apparent to grin about. He lost his arms.

Then, recently we gave the man a reason to once more flaunt his talents, by bringing a rusty unicycle down from the garage rafters where it hung upside down on a hook, no longer played with by chidren. Leaning it up against the iron man it is a natural in this or any backyard.

The rugged smiling man needs no arms to ride a unicycle.

[This posting dedicated to John Tyson and Stew Tolbert]

in the distance

3:30 AM
And thunder
And lightning;
The storms
Weren’t supposed
To move in
Until late afternoon;

I love it
When nature proves
The weathermen
With all their
Charts and graphs
And certainties

in the distance

3:30 AM
And thunder
And lightning;
The storms
Weren’t supposed
To move in
Until late afternoon;

I love it
When nature proves
The weathermen
With all their
Charts and graphs
And certainties

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


The Great Sphinx
Emblem of the 113th Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC)

* s/a Robert Heeschen, incensed that we blew his cover, wrote the News yesterday to say curtly: "DON'T MAKE ME USE THIS!"
Fortunately, we still remember jiu-jitsu from Fort Leonard Wood basic training. Taking the force of that threat deflectively in hand and neutralizing it by directing it's own energy out and away. Thus the assailant is felled using the force of his attack.
The photo is an exposure of the un-uniformed but spiritually olive-drabed editor playing a ukelele:
taken by Mr. Heeschen in Chicago, in 1960.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Roses, in prime of life, snipped:

Two long-stem roses were picked today and placed in a cobalt blue bud vase. The rose bush from which they were harvested (to use a deer-hunting term) was planted about 7 years ago. Every year, it produces. I think the excessive rainfall this past month has benefited the bush, and all the rest of the greenery in our surround.

This photo was taken with available light again, hence the 2 pixel camera within my hands, though with my elbow steadied on the arm of my defunct wheel chair, produces an out-of-focus result. That's OK.