Thursday, December 31, 2009

Click New Years image to enlarge

The Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News
wishes you a happy new year!
We kick up our heels and make merry!
A grateful thanks for all the kindnesses
you've shown to us and our kind (which is 'all of us').
Kindnesses such as this shown to some of our babies who were trapped in a Pepsi machine. Vanishing habitat leads to any port in a storm.

Why hasn't the Bentz Christmas card come?

The much anticipated original and personalized card of uniquity?
And then we remembered.........
they always send their cards beteween Christmas and New Years!
and Voila!
It came today on New Years Eve. We should have remembered their mailing schedule.
We tore it open in our anxiousness to see what the Bentz's have come up with this year. Fortunately, we didn't damage the saliency of the message.
It is presented in it's torn but beautifully-crafted form, herewith.
Many thanks!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Real happening in Oregon

Performing dog
carries a rawhide chewing bone while wearing a tin man hat.
(Documented by SRN reader Nelderberry O'Neil of Dallas, OR, dog owner)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

David Jr. receives practice chair for birthday, 12-29-09

In the way of Michelangelo
and in the way of great artists, the practice sketch for an intended masterpiece turns out to be good, and becomes in itself a work of art.
Such was the case with the 'Favoured Hot Seat' (British spelling) being used as a design and colour scratch palette ahead of joining the orange and pink of the glorious 'Ed''s Favorite Bench', featured in a post preceding this.
'Ed's Favorite Bench' was to be titled 'Favoured Hot Seat" too, until the Christmas cookie baking event when Ed gave us to understand that pink is his least favorite colour. Thus, committed to the mauve tone of their arm color as a dominant shade of their bench, we went with the 'Ed's Favorite Bench', mitigating the damage, we thought.

So David and family have a doubtlessly valuable painting. The way these pieces turned out, collectors of raccoonware will pay pretty pennies for only one of them, but TWO? We hesitate to estimate......

Hang on to what you've got. They're signed on the bottom!


My son David Jr. - I consider it a great mistake to have named him exactly after me; what pomposity, and what a curse for him! - is the original I was perhaps intended to be.
He is seen thanking the great spirit at our campsite in Door County a couple years ago.

Here the birthday boy is crossing a finish line of a 5K run with his wife Sue. A true supporter, he runs 1/2 pace behind his partner, almost even with her.
WE notice these things at the raccoon-ag'ery.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Finished projects

The vaunted Degroot bench
Shown completed just before delivery, Dec. 23rd 2009
and before, in its original factory finish, when our decoratory began working on it. The Degroots had furnished an arm cover for color guidance but otherwise left the project in the Waukesha Sewer Raccoon's intuitive hands.
The colors we chose, as you can see, came from this arm cover.

Here, Mother Denise opens another finished project,
her "2nd Favorite Shirt', so to become after many washings, fading and ensuing raggedy-ness. As a presently new garment it is a matter of faith that it will become Dee's second favorite eventually.
(Son Lee is captured at the left, studying another present. He did not expect to be included in the snapshot, but upon imminent graduation ( one semester to go) from UW Madison he takes up his post as an elementary teacher for the Teach for America Corps in Houston.)

In the Christmas mail from the Pleasant Valley family came some pictures of those in attendance at John and Jean Means sr's 60th wedding anniversary, an event which became a finished product in October. This picture of daughter Erin and friend Patrick Davis struck us as a good likeness. They are striving finishing products in their own right as graduates of Lawrence University in Appleton WI and post-graduate degree seekers. Patrick flew to Maryland with Erin to meet the larger family and study how to manage the consumption of hard-shell crabs. He learned quickly, and 'finished' many.


Yet another finished product: A late but not forgotten Christmas poem - the annual - DID arrive with today's post. Atty. John Grau and his penwoman wife Mary never let us down with these truly great yuletide (+ or -) missives. The SRN is graced by this work, and reprints it without permission. Hey, you sent it in.
Some years ago we sold John and Mary a house ( was it their first?), a dwelling that had been built on B.A. Frame's former tennis court between our house at 119 Windsor Drive and Ard's. A really long time ago.....
More recently, John provided legal assistance with our church's Burmese refugee resettlement project, which also became a project finished.
To all, a happy unfinished, not even started, new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gramaw's oranges

Sitting ahead of the Christmas gifts beneath our small tree are the traditional bowls of oranges sent by Dee's mother in Maryland. She sees to it that all her grandchildren get what she got for Christmas as a child of the Depression. If funds permitted, each child might receive one small gift. Every year we put the Gramaw orange out for each of our offspring. Leland and Erin, two of her grandchildren.

This year

2009, not 1941

many work with low-voltage bulbs

in their miner's helmets;

but in 1941

the Sunday Schoolers at

the First Congregational Church

in Waukesha Wisconsin

got an orange, (a precious orange!)

and a small box of hard candy

from the Santa enactor,

tha late Don Barney

in the greenery-festooned


childrens' hall,


made into something else.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Probably none of the above........

Mona, 20 year old cat
Studies fire on Christmas eve
Who knows what?
She may be thinking
Will this be my last one?
She may wish I would stop
Coupling her name
With her age all the time
She may think none of the above


in a tough year for the world in many ways, this painted gourd ornament we grew and made in better days is extracted from the attic storage box and rehung on our small Christmas tree this morning, as we trim the small tree with the help of our two visiting college student children.

This ornament speaks to me. It was threaded with a glitter pipe cleaner strand, through two holes punched in the gourd. One of the holes has torn out, but with the aid of the wire inside the pipe cleaner it was hung by one strand. It held on well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


2009, and we're so fortunate even our Christmas tree is too tall for the room

In her hurried abandon, mother Denise selected a tree from the lot that was too tall for the living room. I say we go ahead and use it anyway. The money is spent. Maybe my favorite top ornament could be replaced, or, I say, it adds to the illusion of the surfeit year we've had.
One attempts sometimes with increased wattage for outside lighting to make that same statement. Here, not.

Another Christmas Pageant

May it ever be thus:

This one happened at John Helt's church near Holy Hill, Hubertus WI, - St Paul's UCC.

Imbued with the beliefs of their forebears, many of whose bones repose in the little cemetery in back of the church, this year's crop of little manger scene enactors fulfill the story ( with some laughter-arousing inevitable flaws) according to the leading and coaxing of their stage-managing Sunday school teachers and parents.

John celebrates his first Christmas with the congregation in the snowy foothills of the Kettle Moraine. A good time was layered on by all.

Photos provided by Rev. Helt

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One year ago at Christmas time.....

the raccoon news took paint brush in hand and decorated a very old gray sweatshirt of Dee's as a Christmas gift for her. Extremely worn but Dee's most comfortable shirt for knocking around the house and sometimes even to wear outside.
Regular News readers will remember the coverage we gave that shirt then. See
Well, if that wasn't her favorite shirt then, after that paint job it became a very often worn garment for Dee. If you know her you know that she is into worn and pre-worn clothing, witness the black boots she frequently dons, the late and greatly missed Uncle Lee's old boots. Black, in good repair, shiny, and they fit her.
Dee gets most of her 'newer' clothes at Good Will or The Women's Service Club or at St. Vincent De Paul. So this year she's getting a brand-new, never worn by anyone, dark blue sweatshirt, on which we have painted the following:
MY 2nd

You can be sure you'll see her wearing it! If you see her before Christmas Day, don't tell her about this.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Annual Christmas cookie decorating at Degroot's, 12-19-09

Cathy feigns amazement at Dee's toothpick-decorated cookie
while Smiling Ed looks on

Yet, there was true and utter amazement when Denise demonstrated the delicate toothpick technique. (See below!) Dozens of colorful Christmas cookies were baked and decorated with all manner off frostings, sprinkles and colorful effects, only limited by the imagination of the decorators.

It was a marathon session that commenced after the downing of a potful of venison chili, bread and salad with pomegranate & toasted almonds, augmented by some Barnevelt WI reisling wine, or Mexican beer with lemon. A lovely table was set in the newly remodeled kitchen completed under the advisement of architect Win Redding, who oversaw a major revamp of the house.

The Craftsman-style woodwork all about and recommended by Redding inspired us, and especially the creativity exhibited by Ed, who normally busies himself with larger construction projects.

A majority of the pictured unique cookies were frosted by Ed. He favored the baseball motif.

The brand new Degroot cat named Mouser prowled the premises for mice in the darkened basement when he wasn't scouting for dropped cookie particles. It was his first day at the Degroots. He seemed to like the mirth and merriment.
Mouser is not just for decoration any more than were the carefully prepared cookies. The subject is eating.
Mouser is instructed by Cathy to catch and dispatch mice, and not to bring them around to show her afterward.

click on images to enlarge

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas whimsy hanging on the mantle

Love takes off at Christmas-time -
An old toy made by a poor craftsman somewhere
in South America
from what was at hand;
wire bent just so to make a gear,
colored yarn,
maybe a scrap from a print dress for the wings;
when the devise is pushed along the floor
the wings flap,
the faster, the more frantic
until maybe a light person
could fly holding onto this rude toy;
is that what the maker intended?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sticks, stones, powdered water capsules may hurt my bones, but

Another entry in the Moleskine tablet, a Christmas gift last year frm Erin. This may not be a timely consumer tip from the raccoon news, for the product may have been out for a year or more. I was introduced to these little capsules of water flavoring at a picnic last summer. The flavors were many. I've tried berry, orange, and lemon aide. I prefer the lemon, and I swill it down here at home with anything. Popcorn, you name it.

You're going to say, "Hey there's Aspertame (and other noxiosities) in that!" At my age I am immune to such concerns, if even founded. Keep it comin'! I've already eaten my bucket of dirt for the year, in addition.......and I may dead soon anyway.

This product comes in a box of 10 capsules at the grocery store, but YOU probably already knew that.

Christmas songs and kisses

These carolers will sing almost any song you say

just type in the song name, you'll get it
Escellent for shut-ins off the beaten path where carolers can't find you
Click on this link
Have a kiss for every song the little dears get right
( you must pay for these)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another pleasing triangle

15 layer Southern Christmas cakes

Watch it being done

Mrs. Meadows of Alabama used to bake these thin-layered cakes in a wood stove oven using shallow.hoe cake cast iron baking pans. She is still baking them for friends, relatives, and a little pin money.
(NY Times Dining and Wine section)

Rattles cont'd

Get out in that kitchen
rattle those pots and pans......

At the Raccoon headquarters
and Santa workshop
a troup of raccoons (or grizzlies)
circle the summit of a gourd rattle,
moose fur from Alaska was donated
by a moose killed and eaten
by Phil Kari and family
of Wasilla AK;
turquoise cabochons
ring the perimeter.
leather wrapped
broom stick section is the handle.
bottom finial is smaller gourd
with jingle bells and feathers.

will hang from mantle on Christmas Day
this year

Monday, December 14, 2009

Men of the year (2)

In a split decision, after the Raccoon News spent much time deliberating on its man of the year award for 2009, it came down to a toss-up between the late Jim Ridgeway, formerly of 12th Lane near Juneau St., Milwaukee and:

Bob Heeschen, of St.Paul, MN.

Jim Ridgeway was known, among other achievements throughout his giving life, to grow a mean community garden in the 1980s, ex-officio in charge of several contiguous plots across the street from and owned by Friedens United Church of Christ. The garden in total was devised from torn-down house lots that were originally and erroneously placed on a grave yard. This lemon-aide from lemons approach was considered the ultimate of organic gardening back then. Jim ran the show.

Jim was also known for his shy welcoming smile and the gardening help he gave when asked, to Hmongs, whites, blacks, mostly poor, who wanted to grow their food from the richest compost. Jim liked to fish and rode a bus everywhere. He never drove. Milwaukeeans often thought they recognized this unheralded man, now, at this late date, Man of the Year, passing through their neighborhoods.

Our other choice as man of the year is the former Special Agent Robert Heeschen of the 113th Counter Intelligence Corps, USA, 1958-1962. He spent most of his working years afterward at the Eagle Signal Company of Davenport IA. Now retired, he is shown in his current incarnation as a docent ( & ticket-taker) at the famed railroad museum in Minneapolis.

Always a respectful man, Bob used to safely stop the government unmarked car he drove in his rounds at his duty station, Chicago, (rounds which cannot be discussed in this medium), then he would pull over, get out and stand at attention with his hat removed and held over his heart whenever any funeral procession passed, anywhere in the city. This was the sort of man Bob was and is. A well-taught son of an Army officer who fought in WW II, as it happened.

We always were touched by these gestures of Bob's. Someday, we vowed, someday we would see to it that Bob Heeschen was appropriately recognized. The time is now.

Robert Heeschen shown in mufti in acurrent photograph in his cover as a
railroad museum docent. Still wearing a real necktie.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Triangles, circles are pleasing shapes

William Blake's water colour of 1794 was drawn in collaboration with the author to illustrate John Milton's Paradise Lost.
It portrays God's circumscribing compass as a triangular shape, an instrument which encircles and defines the boundaries of the world.
A photo taken of the wake behind a high-powered dinghy in The Puget Sound shows the triangular pattern as the boat speeds away from the town of Sequim WA. The pattern is repeated by the mountains in the distance. The setting is - the round earth.

Yesterday's photo of the chickadee sitting on the feeder bracket is pleasing to the eye. Why is that? Because the small bird was placed at the apex of the frame and the tree branches in their randomness suggest triangular patterns pointing to the bird at the top.

The zig-zag motif is found on ancient pottery, and on a cocntemporary decorative border of a garage roof. Easy to draw, easy on the eye. The icicles are naturally elongated triangles, again.

These Laplanders live in a round hut of sticks tied into a triangular bundle. Their hats are triangular forms.
The dogs as they sit are pyramid-shaped. The form of the circumscribed floor of the shelter is a circle. Who is to argue with the Creator?

You will never go wrong with triangles and circles. Look here: the label is a triangle, and the wind clouds are round.
Simple as that!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have yourself a merry little Democratic Christmas

That dirty rotten socialist
Stupid community organizer
Big-eared death-squading black man
Not even born in the US of A
Armageddon and ruin bringer
Uppity squatter in our White House
Silver-tongued demon……..
And all that PEACE s---!

Bowing low to any damn person that comes along…..



Chickadee lands on feeder bracket outside the window
cold, winter, his breath coming in trails from tiny nostrils -
I have seen that, have felt the warmth of their clenching toes
as they've flown to my hand -

and I go to Utube in this age to seek the song, IN THE COLD MIDWINTER.....

Watching and listening it, my thoughts go to son Lee, soon to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, then to take a teaching position in Houston with Teach for America Corps. He'll be leading an elementary classroom of children, perhaps like these in the video clip.

As in olden days, Lee ropes his way

I was blind, but now I see

"The other two kings are right behind me....."