Friday, October 31, 2008


















Have a nagela, it's good for you

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trouble in MCCain/Palin country

Below find an article in today's local newspaper reporting on the principal of Catholic Memorial High School voluntarily taking down an Obama sign in his yard after Caltholic parents complained. We feel for this man who cares enough about the outcome of this election that he took an unpopular stand in this staunchly conservative community. His position is ours at the Sewer Raccoon News the great minority of others who have braved the Waukesha wave with their Obama signs and expressions.
The exigencies of the principal's job must have led to this outcome.
Catholic Memorial High School Principal takes down Obama sign from his yard

Parents objected, saying it conflicts with Catholic beliefs

By JOE PETRIE Waukesha Freeman Staff (Joe Petrie can be reached at

WAUKESHA – A prominent Catholic school principal has taken down a political sign in front of his own house after it created a row with some parents. Mark Schmitt, principal of Catholic Memorial High School, has taken down a sign supporting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., after some school parents voiced concerns that supporting Obama would conflict with Catholic beliefs. Early Wednesday evening, Schmitt said he took down the sign but didn’t have further comment. Ron Mohorek, chair of the Catholic Memorial board of directors, said some parents had raised questions about Schmitt’s and the school’s position on Catholic issues because of the support for Obama, a candidate with a pro-choice position on abortion. Mohorek said parents have been assured the school and Schmitt thoroughly stand behind the faith and all its teachings, and supporting a particular political candidate over another doesn’t necessarily mean a conflict of faith. “I don’t remember an issue like this coming up before,” Mohorek said. “We’re a taxexempt organization, so we don’t take a political position one way or another.” Mohorek said it’s well within Schmitt’s rights to support a political candidate by putting a sign in his yard, and there aren’t any rules barring staff from doing so. He said it would be inappropriate for a staff member to spread political positions at the school, but Schmitt and other staff members have not done that. The matter has been confined to the school and the Milwaukee Archdiocese hasn’t been involved in the complaints, Mohorek said. “It’s fully within Mark’s rights to support whatever candidate he wants, and what really happened is it created some confusion and questions about Catholic Memorial’s stance on the principles of the Catholic church,” he said. “We’re 100 percent supportive of those principles and we know Mark is as well.”
Pictured below is
the Obama sign with Xmas-trees in a window at the Sewer Raccoon headquarters. Inside the glass, it less likely to be torn down by Waukesha rabid-ites, but that is not for sure. This town is awash with side-by-side yard signs for the McCain-Bush-Palindrome opposition. Wow. It's little wonder the raccoons have taken to the sewers, where their Obama buntings and banners fly in the darkness undisturbed. The whole world hopes for Obama.
We here suffer no constraints. The blue light bulb at the apex of the lit assembly (above our hand-painted sign on a shingle) flashes on and off to draw tasteful attention to our subtle statement.
In the SRN's case, it pays not to be Catholic. And, definitely not Republican, but definitely pro-USA.

the countdown continues.................

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Steam-fitter, union man charges his battery for a run into town:

Stew Tolbert
of Dillonvale, Jefferson Co., OHIO
may be retired but he's going to tool around his territory in his pick-up with a sign that was given to him by the Obama headquarters when he said he was a Redneck for Obama.
Stew has written a piece for the SRN of recent date, and is working on another.
He is a now a metal sculptor. Stew grew tired of having his Obama sign at the foot of his road stolen.

Let me see those "Needless Mark-up" red sequined shoes, Dorothy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christmas lights are up

One show worth 1000 tells
& better than a mere yard sign in this Republican bastion

Imagine this scene in the Oval Office:

click on the various items in the room
beginning if you will on that door on the left a few times
& etc,


Autumn Leaves/Eva Cassidy


Monday, October 27, 2008

More Eva Cassidy

I first heard Eva Cassidy in a second floor walk-up art gallery in Berea KY in 2000. I asked the operator who was singing on their sound system. She said, "Eva Cassidy."


On the ledge
outside the upstairs door into the kitchen
reposes, in rest and salvation
for a while,
the hanging basket of petunias.
It hung from the yard light all summer
and it was glorious. Now
with the temperatures imminently dropping
to freezing and below, (tonight?)
it didn't seem the kind thing to do
to make this brave plant crunch and shiver through
the coming killing frost at it's assigned post,
dangling outside, exposed
and dying as all things must,
especially all perennials,
when we could find an inside place
with some warmth
for it to die in.
So it is hooked over the back hall
and that's seems like an honorable place
and a fair place for it to decently prolong
it's expiration, and give
its last blush of bloom.
[So what if we have to duck for a while
going down the stairs to the basement?]

8 days to zero hour

He stuck in his thumb
and pulled out a plumb.....
and said, 'Oh what a good ( ) boy am I!'

and what can the lowly sewer raccoon news do to help the Obama effort today?

See this link to Frank Rich in yesterday's NY Times:

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Last day at the farmers market for this year

Dear Attorney Bob in Puget Sound,
It's been weeks since we corresponded. I know that you were struggling with your law practice in the great un-litiginous northwest and had, after trying in vain to find adequate income with another go at fancy radish-bunching, established a seaweed-gathering venture.
You were at last word doing well. The SRN celebrated your success.
I thought of you today at the Waukesha farmers market. It was the last day of the season, with plenty of crisp produce for sale. A riverside cornucopia. Along with a beautifully-configured head of cauliflower, I got some more unbelievably firm and bright red tomatoes - and a delightful & huge bunch of red and white radishes.
I just washed them (see picture above) and am cracking (c'nutching) into some here next to the typewriter as I write to you. A nice bowl of salt to dip them in is at my side. I put the bunch of beauties in my mesh expandable and reusable tote and reveled at my good fortune all the way home.
At the stand, I first looked to see what kind of rubber band the radishes were bunched with, of course. Lo, the simple, non-descript brown rubber bands hidden within the greenery contributed little to the display, but these radishes were proud and dominant, as you can see. Frankly, they needed no decorous binding. Times change, and with them, their demands.
All for now, Bob, but let us hear from you. Hope all is well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What means "Namaste"? (SRN corresp.)

----- Original Message -----
To: "David Dix" <>
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2008 12:47 PM
Subject: Re: food for thought
> Namaste means I 'recognize the child of God that you truly are' . I > have adjusted the definition for our culture , but I am spot on. I > will write a small essay on it and send that to you , My Friend you > my correct my spelling and ANYTHING I send you is yours to do with as > you see fit . I know your heart is pure my Brother so I trust you. I > thank you for giving me both a forum and a filter/editor so I don't > show so much of my foolishness. I am dyslexic , and in my age group > teachers did not know why I seemed smart but could not spell, some > just figured I was a cheat , a Catholic education is tough enough.> stew> ps the vidio was wonderful.

earlier Email from Stew:

I was in a small chain box store: VALUE CITY. My wife and I like it , they have great prices on suits and since I don't dress up much, funerals and weddings - and I avoid the first as well as the second -

Anyway, as we checked out with a couple of items the woman, age about 55 , at the register said these sales are final . "We were just told today, I just got this job 2 weeks ago, they will be closed as soon as sold out, they say."
A friend of my brother in Columbus OH , VALUE CITY'S home , was a buyer for 12 yrs and went to work last Fri. She got a memo, as most of the employees did, that unless she had been notified earlier, she had an hour to gather her personal things and exit the building .

No severance , no extension of health care, just a memo .

This is just the beginning of the storm that people will go through.. Hard working, honest, trusting people. I just did the math. Rush Limbaugh makes in a week what it took me a lifetime of crippling, dangerous, difficult work, making billions [for others] in profits , fixing or building the instruments of what it takes to have a civilization here in these United States. The electric generation, refineries, chemical plants , and the like.

I am too old to brag but I was one of the best steamfitter/welders . And I was dedicated to getting the job done right and quickly. Now I am crippled up and have trouble breathing . A society with these values will not survive.

Hey Dave , I am not complaining, though it sounds like it. I am just telling the story . If you are an honest hard working skilled person you will be used and tossed. If you are a hate mongering slob that feeds that selfish bully in all of us, you can make 35+ million a year . I would not trade places with him under any circumstances, as I am happily living in a trailer on a hill with a barn .

Thanks for giving me a place to blow off some steam .
Obama/Biden. [Iput up my yard sign , will send a pic] 08namaste


Wherever the just exchange their messages... (Auden)

It pays to have friends
in high places:

A poet (and publicist with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra),
a person I've never seen, a coal miner's daughter, sent this video

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eva Cassidy

Benighted raccoon asks
"who was Eva Cassidy?"

and many more on U Tube, see the right margin for others.
Listen to Somewhere Over the Rainbow
What a wonderful World


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hunched; clenched; bunched

This golden morning: 10-18-08 Saturday

I went to the Waukesha farmers market again. This AM it was 38 degrees and sunny. Walking over the foot-bridge from the parking lot across the Fox, I again saw the jumble of spider webs on the ironwork. Today there was only one spider. Last week there were many. The single one today was hunched in the very center of his web. As if to preserve any warmth his threatened body had, it waited in a ball for the sun to warm things a little.

I bought some more tomatos, some more spinach, an exotic-looking succulent house plant that had a vernacular name I've forgotten, some corn on the cob, and another bag of "Spy" apples which have proven very good......

and three red peppers, nice and fat and robust. One looks just like a clenched fist.

When I got home there was a (but-for-one) unseen wildly-singing flock of robins in the back tree, getting psyched, I presumed, for their migration. Usually seen in the yard singly, this was a cacophonous roosting cluster. They were bunched.

Friday, October 17, 2008

old recipe, beloved by raccoons and others







Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Every move you make, I'll be watchin' you [The Policemen]

(Eye of God, Hubble space telescope)

A sewer raccoon news reader
good American
sent this:


this morning, I lept from the table and got my 2 pixel to - alas - only visually capture the fare Dee placed before me. The picture does it injustice without the scintillating aroma.
After writing yesterday's lamentation about a trip not taken, it seemed right to counter-balance that with some indication that yours truly does EAT well, largely due to chef Denise (Mrs. SRN and so much else!) and her optic and olfactory magic.
The half-eaten and now gone omelet consisted of eggs, tomato, cheddar, green peppers and cilantro [] plus some crisp sectioned green onions from the Waukesha Farmers Market. Ground black pepper and rye toast. Click on it to enlarge, and remember, it's only 2 pixel.
A typesetter and journalist must write "30" to the story !

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A page from a fine catalog, torn therefrom

To: Geographic Expeditions
1008 General Kennedy Ave
Thoreau Center for Sustainability
San Franciso, CA 94129-0902

Oct. 14, 2008

Dear Expeditioners,

I think it was in 2000 when I wrote to your company about a walking tour I was interested in taking in Bhutan. I may have heard about you through The Smithsonian magazine, but in any case, I did receive a gorgeous and expensive magazine-size catalog from you then, and in subsequent years, and again in the mail today.

I didn't wind up going on that intended trip in 2000 and I have since sustained other vagaries that preclude such journeys, most likely, in my lifetime. You got nothing from that substantial invesment in me via your glossy and excellent solicitation in 2000. Yet I continue to receive these annual trip catalogs, thanks to you; high-quality books which are not just stapled, but bound, thick-paged tomes with many superb color photographs of exotic places around the world I should dearly - yea - dearly love to see. To walk. To breathe.

I am deeply appreciative of these publications, tantalizing as they are. They're almost as welcome as luscious fruit-laden boxes from Harry & David's. Your freight in shipping them must be substantial. I realize that with the cost of your tour fares, your advertising budget must be high, but I count myself lucky to still be on your mailing list. Though I come from a sewer raccoon district with a common zip-code and likewise hailed from here when I made my initial query, I find your willingness to nonetheless keep sending these regular mailings next to a storm grate most equalitarian.

What can I do to set the account square?

I shall recommend you to my cousin Steve, an ex-bush pilot who made it big and is a round-the-world traveler. He and his wife were in Paris and Machu Picchu recently. When they see your marvelous vellum you may land some new and really going customers.

I will appreciate your continued annual mailings, however, hopefully until death do us part, in exchange for my very small publicizing effort. Thank you very much!

Yours truly,

David Dix Sr.

cc: Editor, Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News (for publicatiion)


Frost hovers
in night air
but a few nasturtiums
and some of their unique leaves
are gathered inside
on this dewy dawn
to sit in an old window
a last hurrah
for a summer we thought would never end

Monday, October 13, 2008

Election opinion

Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker
Oct. 20, 2008

Beyond the Palin

Format isn’t everything. John McCain’s campaign specialty has been the “town hall,” where the candidate wanders the stage, microphone in hand, answering questions from ordinary citizens and bantering with them. So his staff was happy that his second debate with Barack Obama, which took place last Tuesday evening, in Nashville, Tennessee, was structured according to his favorite style. McCain’s town meetings have been one-man shows, based on a relationship between candidate and audience that falls somewhere between that of a celebrity to his fans and that of a king to his subjects—one important man and a roomful of the little people.
But the dynamic changed when a second important man, particularly one who was elegantly calm and self-assured, was added to the mix. Afterward, in CNN’s poll of independent debate-watchers, fifty-four per cent thought Obama came out on top, while thirty per cent picked McCain as the winner. A congenial set of rules, it seems, can’t offset a talented opponent, much less a worldwide financial panic.
The Nashville town hall was an interlude of comparative comity, sandwiched between moldy slices of slander. Early in the general-election campaign, Obama was accused, for example, of favoring “painful tax increases on working American families,” when in fact his tax hike would apply only to family incomes of more than a quarter million dollars a year. Perhaps that could be dismissed as a routine political stretcher. But Obama was also portrayed as a libertine who demanded that kindergartners be exposed to explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse (when in fact he proposed only to teach them to recognize inappropriate advances) and as a sexist boor who called the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee a pig (when in fact he used a common simile that his opponent had a habit of using himself). None of this quite amounted to suggesting that the Democrat is a traitor or a facilitator of terror. That came after the financial crisis began and Obama took a small but persistent lead in the opinion polls.
Early this month, McCain moved nearly his entire advertising budget into negative territory. But “negative” hardly does justice to the mendacity of the campaign of vilification that bracketed Nashville. “Barack Obama has said that all we’re doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians,” Sarah Palin said the week before. “Such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.” McCain’s wife, Cindy—who, in May, had said, “My husband is absolutely opposed to any negative campaigning at all”—told a rally last week, “The day that Senator Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son while he was serving sent a cold chill through my body.” A McCain television spot summed up the line of attack:Who is Barack Obama? He says our troops in Afghanistan are [Obama’s voice] “just air-raiding villages and killing civilians.” How dishonorable. Congressional liberals voted repeatedly to cut off funding to our active troops, increasing the risk on their lives. How dangerous. Obama and congressional liberals. Too risky for America.

Here is what Obama actually said, fourteen months ago: “We’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.” He was calling for reinforcements, not casting aspersions. And, as McCain must know, the one Senate vote on which the charge of defunding the troops is based has a mirror image. In May of 2007, Obama voted against a troop-funding bill because it did not include steps toward withdrawal from Iraq; two months earlier, McCain had voted against one because it did. In neither case did their parliamentary maneuverings pose the slightest risk to the life of a single soldier.
Enter Bill Ayers, the former Weatherman, now a college professor and a pillar of the Chicago education-reform establishment. Palin again, a few days ago: “Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.” At the end of the nineteen-sixties, when Bill Ayers was a leader of the New Left’s most destructive, self-destructive, and delusional splinter, Barack Obama was a small boy living with his mother in Indonesia. The fact that thirty years later Obama and Ayers sat on a couple of the same nonprofit boards tells us no more about Obama’s politics and character than does the fact that another member of one of those boards was Arnold R. Weber, the former president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and a donor of fifteen hundred dollars to the McCain campaign. Ayers and Obama are not now, nor have they ever been, pals.
The Obama campaign has been spending money on negativity, too, of course—about a third of its advertising outlay. And a few of their ads have been purposely misleading. For example, an Obama radio spot says of McCain, “He’s opposed stem-cell research.” (That too-clever use of a contraction allows the line to be more truthy than true: McCain flip-flopped on embryonic-stem-cell research in 2001.) But there is no equivalence between the two campaigns. If there were, Obama’s ads would be “raising questions” about the other ticket’s “associations.” For example, Todd Palin was a registered member of the Alaskan Independence Party—to which his wife, as governor, has sent friendly greetings—between 1995 and 2002. Four years before Todd joined, the A.I.P.’s founder, Joe Vogler, declared, “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government,” and added, referring to the Stars and Stripes, “I won’t be buried under their damned flag!” (Sure enough, in 1995, Vogler, after being murdered in connection with an informal transaction involving plastic explosives, was buried in Canada.) Good material for an attack ad there, no? Ditto the fact that during the early nineteen-eighties John McCain sat on the advisory board of General John Singlaub’s U.S. Council for World Freedom—the American outpost of the World Anti-Communist League, a sort of clearing house for former Nazi collaborators, Central American death-squad leaders, and assorted international thugs. And, unlike Obama’s alleged palship with Ayers, these things are true.
The Obama campaign hasn’t gone there, for which it deserves no special credit; it has more to gain from sticking to the realities of the economy and the war. But the other side has been late in having second thoughts. This became frighteningly obvious in recent days, as the rallies McCain and Palin have held around the country turned into bloodcurdling hate-fests. The shouts of supporters in response to the candidates’ attacks on Obama—“Traitor!” “Terrorist!” “Kill him!”—were uttered without rebuke. On CNN the other night, Anderson Cooper asked David Gergen, the soul of moderate concerned citizenship, about “all this anger out there.” Gergen replied, “We’ve seen it in a Palin rally. We saw it at the McCain rally today. . . . There is this free-floating sort of whipping-around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we’re not far from that.” Suddenly, McCain seems to be worried, too. “I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments,” he told a restive crowd in Lakeville, Minnesota, last Friday. “I will respect him, and I want everyone to be respectful.” The crowd—the mob—booed. If McCain loses, or even if he wins, his campaign will be remembered as a tragedy in the Aristotelian sense, in which a hero is ruined through some terrible choice of his own. One can only hope that the tragedy will be his alone, and not the nation’s. ♦


Jeffrey Means
is "J.M."

In 1984, the above painting of Poppy's Barn - the barn of John Means Sr. - was skillfully accomplished by his 14 year old son, Jeffrey. It wasn't executed in canvas. It was done on a small 4 inch by 5 inch piece of Masonite. Jeffrey is the brother-in-law of this SRN editor. He is a photographer currently living in New York City where he's been, in Brooklyn, since his graduation from the Maryland Institute of Art following high school.

The extended Means family of Pleasant Valley Maryland orbit around the patriarchic sun of John Means Sr. and his matriarchal partner moon, wife Jean. These powerful people are oriented toward life-saving, generally. There are many firefighters, a nurse, a beautiful and brilliant self-educated theologian (Mrs. SRN) - who successfully works the New York Times acrostic puzzles - and does many many other things.

They are also skilled in making do. John Means has for years farmed 22 acres and raised steers, food for all his family. Fruit trees and a vineyard augment the edible scenery. It is lovely, as the Masonite painting shows.


An example of making do (just one): Years ago, John Means was employed hanging billboards across a wide region of states. When there were billboards to take down, he had permission to carry home and stockpile many large signs that would have been otherwise discarded. When he had enough, he built that barn, from carefully-aligned, old but still serviceable billboards.

Recycling from before it had a name. Painted on the exterior in traditional barn red color with white trim, one must be right next to Poppy's barn to see that is a beautifully-assembled jigsaw puzzle.

From the inside, the utilitarian side, no paint was ever wasted cosmeticizing. One sees, behind stacked hay-bales in the working barn, the advertising of various businesses whose signage made a much longer-lasting three-dimensional, utilitarian structure.

The home is known as Means Rest, on Hughes Shop Road. John and Jean Means are the grandparents of this editor's children, Leland and Erin. Jeffrey is their uncle.

Their four sons

click on image to enlarge for clearer reading

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whitman Candy


Saturday, October 11, 2008

O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma

Check it out:

All-aboard the food chain (-o-o-o-o-o-)

(to enlarge images, click)

Spiders work their autumn pre-frost webs
On a sunny day over Waukesha’s
Thread of the mighty Fox River;

A walking bridge
Erected by
Some memorialized benefactors
Not only transports pedestrians
Across the now peaceful river
To the farmers market
Where they will buy fresh food

Tantalizingly, deliciously;

The spiders, eight-legged
Bridge walkers and builders
Energized by the sun
Will also snag a morsel
Or two
Or three