Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Winken Blinken, and Nod (the one-eyed raccoon)

Three eyes
peer out of the sewer grate
waiting for total darkness
to fall on the benighted town.
They are patient marauders
these masked burglars
so often talked about
in these columns.
To kill time they survey the scene
in the street.
"Just look at that street!"
"Yes, we must be careful
not to fall down into that pothole
over there, that's for sure!"
"Yeah. It's a good thing we are raccoons.
Our portal is steel, not macadam."
"I wonder why the citizens don't become aroused
over the condition of their streets?"
"Actually, I see these local potholes as tokens
of the poor shape America's infra-structure is in,
in general."
"Going to hell in a hand-basket!"
"There must be somebody the people can blame!"
"It may be time for them to go right to the top! They should complain to the Mayor!"
"That's right, like they did when so many leaves were raked into the gutters
and wound up clogging our sewers!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

singin' in the wain

Check No. 151516
Weymin, our favorite waitress
At Ching Hwa Chinese restaurant
Is new to America
We were at Ching Hwa's again this week
for lunch
And Weymin remembered us.
“ I tao my husbawn,
‘Min come in today, took
Pikchoor of his 'beo' I write
In Chinese!”
Now today you come beck!
you take pikchoor of me!
I smi-oo nice for you!
So sorry, Weymin,
No camera today.
Happy repartee ensued
and when she said she enjoys
singing in a gwee cwub
I asked what she likes to sing,
and she said,
Aw kind Bloadway show song,
Like this: (sings in soft lyric)
I singin in the wain, jus singin
in the wain.....
I quickly join her in the song:
“…what a glorious feeling
I’m happy again…”
We finish the whole song together.
Alerted diners smile.
Wife blushes.
"Next time I will bring the camera
And take a picture of you!"
(Stand by. Meanwhile, today it's raining hard as I 'sing' this.
I mean Weymin no discourtesy in trying for her dialect here.
I believe she is overall much wiser and certainly better traveled than I.
Trying through her kind and effusive nature to please. At the time of
the snapshot of her Chinese bill I just wanted to try Les's camera
that was carried with me that day.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


H.D. Thoreau
re-reading Walden
pg 115, Where I lived

Now that I've attained a certain age, I have to think when I write in this familial blog: "What if this is the last thing I ever set down?" Are these the words I want to leave them with? Thank heavens I have this opportunity to elevate the repartee today, after sinking to carnal depths with yesterday's posting.
As has been said earlier in this raccoon news, the writings of Henry David Thoreau have presented themselves to me for another go-round, years after I originally read them. I must have done so almost cursorily, and what a great mistake that was. The images I perceive today in Thoreau's phrases have me pausing, leaf by leaf, for reflection.
Let this Walden lofty thought serve as a paged-back-to destination from my actual final post, whenever that might be, and stand for something from a higher place, a decent coda.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let them eat peaches;


Long before the Deadwood TV series, peaches have been a welcome delicacy here. We open a large can, and after having a healthy portion, the tin goes into the refrigerator and stands near the front of the second shelf, at the ready. Our Sterling spoon stays in the can because peaches come and go quickly once a can is de-lidded.

This comes as a recommendation. There is no brand of peach better than the those contained in the Roundy's can purchaseable at Pick N Save. The Roundy brand is often thought of as a down-graded, low-price, house brand. With the advent of the financial crunch we buy Roundy's stuff a lot. So far we faven't gone wrong with Roundy's milk, butter, banana-peppers, soups, Cola - which is a dead ringer for Coca Cola - ice cream, and many other things.

When you get right down to a bowl of Roundy's peach slices, as shown above, there is something almost erotic about them. And the juice they put in them is neither too sweet nor too sour.

A few days supply.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When seconds count.....................


time draws its brush across the landscape

from brown to green.

Lying closely enough

beside a glass on the nightstand

the ice is melting audibly.

Subdued shifts are heard.

Ice settles.

Spring happens.

Outside, blue Siberian Squill

rustles perceptibly in greening grass

through dead leaves.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In thanks

Today we visited pacemaker Doctor Vorperian in his office in Suite 410 at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
Using the apparatus above, the Dr. determined that, yes indeed, the anticipated battery change needed for our defibrillator is nearing due. This was found that such time was gradually approaching at our last visit. So within the next two weeks we will go in for an outpatient procedure at which time our chest skin will be again opened, but only on the surface this time. In at 7 AM, out by 2 PM.

We had our open heart surgery in May 2005 and the device was implanted then. Some readers of the raccoonage will remember that the sawing open of our upper skeleton nearly resulted, due to our going-in debilitated state, in a termination of our occupancy here in the raccoon district. There was a momentary event on the operating table that briefly - technically - resulted in our permanent change of address.

But thanks to the Almighty and the team of doctors (Long, Saien, Quinn and Vorperian) and a host of blessed caregivers in convalescent sites, after a lengthy recovery we returned to the district. The repairs were successful. We cannot say enough in expression of our gratitude !

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Something of a potato soup-eating club......

At the farm-themed Machine Shed Restaurant,
Waukesha, WI

Last night we again enjoyed the famous Baked Potato Soup at the Machine Shed with old friends Quin and Laura Brien. That's Laura of

This outing has become a habit, largely for the potato soup, thick and creamy with chives, cheese and bacon. As to bacon, Quin has become quite friendly with the huge swine in front, this time calming the beast sufficiently to pose for a still, if uncooperative, snapshot.

We met the Briens in 1981 when we joined Friedens United Church of Christ at 13th and Juneau, Milwaukee. Quin was then president of the church council, and Dee came from Maryland to be the Friedens Parish Worker overseeing the community garden, food pantry and neighborhood outreach.

Even then, agriculture played a role in our lives together. Quin was a long-time employee with A.O. Smith, manufacturers of the popular blue and white silos. These silos were Quin's bread and butter. Once shortly after Dee got here we were riding together in the country with the Briens.

Dee was surveying the passing scene. She shook her head somewhat disapprovingly and said, "WHAT'S WITH ALL THESE UGLY BLUE SILOS? Hearts were won just with the brief exchange that followed, which I don't remember.

Quin doesn't have anything if not twinkling eyes, which he cannot suppress. And Laura is in prideless possession of, among other attributes, a great chin.

Quin pours water from a pitcher at the Machine Shed just ahead of our placing our orders for their Potato Soup, of course.

Laura gestures at her throat, unintentionally drawing attention to her dynamite chin. She says she got it from her dad. People coming and going past our booth constantly and sometimes blushingly marveled at the chin, and Quin's twinkling eyes.
Many were there for the potato soup.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


As indicated, the old and rusty bell we made per the method above, years ago before the raccoon phenomena obtained purchase here, is due for a paint job. This time we will add a mask, nose and ears as shown.

We have made several three-sided pyramid bells. This is the biggest one. It weighs around 50 lbs and stands 3 feet tall. We won't violate the fine rust patina, but will merely re-whiten and re-blue the eyes and add a black nose + ears. Then it's good for another 20 years, at least.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First Dog

The Raccoon News sends greetings to Ted Kennedy's great gift to the Obama family, Bo. May
preserve and protect the first family!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Just to show, the easter rabbit's was was reglued. If you zero in on it, you will note that it is not perfect. To fully restore it, we would need to mix some filler and then try to repaint the glaze color, a daunting and unnecessary task. The ear has broken off more than once and it probably will again, though we use epoxy resin glue.

Taking Erin back to Madison yesterday following an enraptured Easter dinner
of home-made egg noodles prima-vera au fresh asparagus and strawberry sundaes, we stopped at the famous A-rab gas station to fuel up.
It was then that we noticed the interesting juxtaposition presenting itself through the windshield. A view of the First Congregational Church UCC and its steeple in the background, and a steeple-ish stacking of some plastic crates against the fence in the foreground.
The view seemed an artful one, so we snapped it. Enlarge that photo as you did the one above to see the ear repair, and you will note another repair looming that will cost a bit more than a dab of glue.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Available light

The early EASTERN sun............
on Easter morning washes across the Colton Street window in the kitchen. Yesterday , Saturday, the western sun washed across the egg-dying table.
Available light.
Available light.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter boo-boo

This morning, an error was made, attributable, we say, to simple forgetfulness that could happen to anybody.

We drove the nine miles to son David's to deliver an Easter gift, a newly-arrived CD of trombonist Joe Alessi's TROMBONASTICS. We ostensibly put the CD back into the case, refolded the program notes folder from the scanner and slid it into the case.............and drove into the rural driveway west of town with a rare gift. We paused to take a picture of the old birch twig name tag from the 60's David still has nailed to the homestead, placing the envelope with the about-to-be-delivered CD on the trunk while we worked the camera.

David came out and went to open the CD, but it wasn't there! 'We' had forgotten to take the CD out of the computer tower back at home, following the download. The case was empty of its contents. Program notes, but no music. Over a cup of coffee the raccoonteur silently mused over the sheer stupidity of it all.

But it gave him a chance to see Mike, student trombonist for whom the item was destined as an inspirational Easter offering. Mike laughed if off, but his slight disappointment was visible.

These kind of things anybody.

Well, the actual CD will be given to the Dousman Dixes tomorrow when they stop in to pick it up in Waukesha. I also have another bit of mending to do on our Easter bunny whose ear has again broken off. Unintentionally.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Perfect Mason'
From the days of canning;
formerly from a high shelf in the basement,
out of the pages of history
comes not the Lone Ranger
but a blue-green
glass jar;
my favorite glass,
the zinc lid with the rubber gasket
standing by
but not as needed,
for the open, ridged,
easily clutched screw top vessel
now serving as a container
for ice and ginger ale
or orange juice
or plain water
stands alone.
There once were many of them
on that high shelf,
Grandma's proud collection
of prunes, tomatoes, and rhubarb,
beans and corn
seen through the shiny blue-green jars.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Friends, cont'd

Walt Lohman
Townline Road
Town of Waukesha

Curmudgeon, lodge aficianado, farmer of 80 acres on which he raises steers, loyal bud. Teller of great stories. Driver of old cars with regular non-Collector license plates. Visitor when I was sick. Promoter of the common good. Husband of very tolerant Shirley.

We had breakfast at Dave's yesterday, an old-time diner that caters to regular folks from every walk, a Waukesha landmark in whose shadow the new ritzy Black Swan Restaurant and THE CLARKE Hotel struggles to rise across the street, a study in societal comparison. If it were an arm-wrestle between that place and Dave's - say, at Dave's baseball-becapped lunch counter - Dave's wins, hands down.

Walt is today in Washington DC, attending a Knights Templar observance in the 'valley of many monuments'. While there, he is planning to pay his respects at the grave of my father in Arlington National Cemetery. Walt only met Dad once but he was a Masonic lodge brother, albeit from different lodges. The bond is strong. Walt was a long-time friend of our Uncle Lee, also a brother Mason. (see

Walt Lohman is spread over our life like a shiny glaze. He also has met Dee's father from Pleasant Valley, MD, who like Walt also raises steers out of a (smaller) barn. John Means built his from recycled billboards originating from National Advertising, of Waukesha Wisconsin. ( Small world?

Spreading that glaze further, Uncle Lee and John Means both hung billboards for Waukesha's National Advertising though they did not know it - years ago.

Note reasonable prices

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

His Eminence

The raccoon king holds forth beneath the streets of Waukesha, as has been said. HIs throne room is allegedly beneath the old post office in the historic downtown sector. Review: His crown is made from the tin foil from a golden crunch Hershey Bar. His cloak is fashioned from a velvet drapery sample studded with bits of colored glass and very old cork-lined bottle caps from the Roxo Bottling Co. Unfortunately this darkened view taken with the available light of a torch epergne does not bring out that detail.

Here comes the sun (redux)


Behind spreading palm fronds the colorful crockery awaits unleashing one more time. UW grad student Erin informs that she will come home for Easter.

Dee, dee-lighted, plans another egg coloring go-round.

The sun sprays rainbows through the sill prisms onto the ceiling.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


In these columns we like to feature a picture with a only a few words to go with it.
Here, we have a recent dinner at raccoon headquarters prepared by chef Denise, photographed as an afterthought when there was only one piece of fish left unconsumed on the serving dish, itself an old glass French fish-shaped plate.
Presentation; so important.

The sea-fare is/was a North Atlantic cod fillet, covered with an inventive salsa sauce. It was delicious! Ere it was completely devoured, we quickly (but carefully) grabbed the Les Dix memorial 13.5 mega-pixel Nikon camera and snapped an exposure. We humbly say, this picture is good enough to be found in the Food Section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And that is a high standard.

Thus, saying all with an illustration, the SRN ends in its drive toward verbal thrift, reticence, and miniaturism in a straitened world.

Friday, April 3, 2009



The green among the gray
And where we cut
The ends want to say
‘We are abbreviated now
But there’ll be more’

Fighting back tears of joy

Raccoon editor receives gift from district resident

Inspired by a recent posting in the Sewer Raccoon News, neighbor Paul Kwiecien, Eagle Scout once and evermore, felt it incumbent to pass along his 1940's official Boy Scout firemaking equipment. The unexpected gift occurred at a downtown restaurant where the editor and Mr. Kwiecien met for an early breakfast today.

The awe-smitten recipient accepted the surprise offering with deep emotion, per above. In the raccoon district, we always depend on the kindness of strangers, but especially on that extended by good friends.

Paul Kwiecien is a financial advisor with Thrivent, married to Rhonda, the best pipe organist in these parts. See He is the father of Hollyann and Mira.