Saturday, October 31, 2009
there will be church tomorrow
but the Halloween thing will not be stressed
where I go
such a big event in everyday society
has been unable to penetrate the shell
where I go
nobody will be in purposeful costume
some will be weird
but in mufti
the litany will not contain
there will be booze at the rail
and bread; no wrapped candy
the communion of wandering beggers
porch by porch
will be of a different sort;
‘satanic’ will be good there
do I see a tripod
in the church dungeon
where a kettle bubbles?
roiling miters and eyes of newt
bibles and unsavory recipes
that all may be one?
It is like that
where I go
Friday, October 30, 2009
A bat I thought was you
Fluttered around my head
Last night after the lights
were turned off
I opened the door
To let you find your way out
But you stayed
Would not go
Winging around my sought repose
Nibbling my ear lobes
The way you used to do
I went out myself
And you followed me
Joining another bat
Zig-zagging in the darkness
Both of you exchanged squeaks
I lay awake a long time
Wondering if you’d be back
The only way to keep you
Is to set you free
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The famous and best Waukesha popcorn when I was a grade-schooler in the 1940's came from Hyde's Popcorn Stand at White Rock Ave and W. Main Street across from St. Matthias Episcopal Church and the old court house, now the Waukesha Historical Museum.
Long torn-down for 'progress', it was an unassuming store, as the photos show. Whoever decided to put the "Get Right" road sign pointing to Hyde's was onto something, for the marvelous fresh roughage, cooked in whatever magic oil Mr. Hyde historically used - and by request would pour over the corn once sacked (it wan't butter), set you RIGHT WITH THE WORLD after the first cramming mouthful. Friend Joe thinks it was lard?
I'd like to see someone resurrect a Hyde's popcorn stand downtown today. Lard (Fat) Chance. Times change, and I guess with them their demands. A mere, and askew, lean-to shed like that with a coal stove roughly chimneyed through the roof would run into just a few current building restrictions. And the business improvement image-builders would demand conforming changes in the spartan affect overall.
The earliest anyone I know can remember, Hyde's was in business at least in the 1930s, because friend Joe remembers what a treat it was to go down a half block from his White Rock School and get a snappy white sack of corn, with or w/o a cover, from Mr and Mrs Hyde, who ran the small stand. There wasn't much room TO stand at tiny Hyde's. The history is sketchy if non-existent. No one thusfar has uncovered any augmenting marks on Hyde's in the public records. It is well-remembered by some nonetheless.
But there is still a place.........John's Root Beer Stand out on Arcadian Ave founded in 1937, that has what an employee termed an original-equipment and owner-beloved popcorn-making machine, ("Don't paint it; just wash it!"), a machine renowned for it's superb popcorn. To that we can and will testify. Also excellent dogs, corn and root beer. Plainer fare. Non-Italian ice-creamed floats. John's, as locals know, is an institution!
You won't find John's Root Beer, a Waukesha landmark, running it's wooden orange stand in the downtown district.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As usual we immediately turned to the back page for the 'Personals'. The Brits really know how to compose interesting adverts, as they call them. Enlarge the image (click on it) to see what we mean........
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Four days ago our amazing lithops, a 'living stone' that is sure living, looked like it was preparing to bloom. We took this as a meta-4 representing the blooming of the newly-installed incoming minister at St. Paul UCC, Erin WI. See http://raccoonnews.blogspot.com/2009/10/johns-in-pulpit.html
The raccoon news has the scoop on this one. Shown above, the peculiar little plant is blossoming today. This evening the blossom closed up. What will it do tomorrow? Will it open when the sun comes up? Will the bloom continue to grow a wider radius? You are assured we will cover it right here on the SRN.
Here's this old dusted-off photo formed by taping two separate snaps together, shot subsequently seconds from each other and in the same campsite:
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Back in March the Raccoon News had a posting about our old dictionary, http://raccoonnews.blogspot.com/2009/03/good-old-dictionary.html.
Now, this past Sunday, the NYTimes ran an article in its supplemental magazine titled Old Dictionaries, per above. Reading this, we hastened to see what edition of Webster's we had. As you can see below, we have a 'Fifth Edition' of the Webster's Collegiate, the largest abridgment of the vaunted - per the Times piece - SECOND EDITION !
What a noteworthy find! This means we possess ( all ownerships indeed temporary,) thin pages run apparently from the original plates. This volume is very satisfying. It is so fun just to page through it, admiring the lithograph illustrations. Sometimes we photograph them and use them - for greeting cards? as we did with the raccoon image in the above SRN link.
Even, or, especially our Webster's Collegiate. Dated 1944, it is platformed in good years, WW II not withstanding. We are not so anachronistic as to eschew today's modern internet for spellings and definitions, and for information not available in 1944.
There are professionals in library science and archive preservation who bridge gaps such as these for a living. Our daughter, Erin Kate, Lawrence U graduate finishing her masters at UW Madison is training to be one of them.
This is one old dictionary that will be preserved.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Yesterday, we attended the installation of the Rev. Dr. John Helt at his new church, St. Paul's United Church of Christ in the town of Erin, WI. (His assignment to that post was previously addressed in the SRN: http://raccoonnews.blogspot.com/2009/07/you-want-cemetery-with-that.html and http://raccoonnews.blogspot.com/2009/03/sewer-raccoon-sketchbook-entry.html)
Yesterday, John officially took the reins at St. Paul's, together with all the ministers who make up that congregation; they're all in it together. The event included many friends from former congregations John has ministered to. People traveling from afar to celebrate the glorious occasion. Friends and clerics participated while John beamed from the back of the church. Rev. Tom Nordberg delivered a dynamite sermon for his oldest and bestest clergyman friend. Son Adam and daughter Anni lifted up a spine-clilling duet, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. John's mother, 90-some year old motorcyclist, came up from Burlington IA.
A Gospel choir had been booked into the church for Oct. 18, and as plans were laid for just when to have the installation, John said, "Let's have the choir concert and follow it with my installation on the 18th." That worked out in beautiful dovetail fashion, for the strumming trio set a perfect harmony and warm-up act for the rite to follow.
The day was lovely. Sunny. The fall colors stunningly adorned wooded hills and fields and presented autumnal crossed-branch arcades leading to the little old church at Monches and St. Augustine roads. Everybody was rejoicing for the Helts, and we dare say that the spirits hovering over their graves at the rear of the church (mingling with the crowd?) were pleased, perhaps especially so.
The next chapter for this historic country corner church is like our subject lithops plant, looking like a soon to bloom 'Jack in the Pulpit', but in this case John's in the Pulpit.
So mote it be!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Giving an Old Friend a New Lease on Life
By MARK BITTMAN
Published: September 11, 2009
I LEARNED how to make good crab cakes 20 years ago from Johnny Earles, a chef and friend in the Florida Panhandle. When I say “good,” I mean crab cakes made predominantly from crab, seasonings, a tiny bit of mayo as binder (you need something) and not much else. And for a long time I barely tinkered with the recipe. Why would I? Everyone loved it.
Recipe: Thai Style Crab Cakes (September 16, 2009)
Then it occurred to me that I could make a formidable crab cake in a style that mimics tod mun, the Thai fish cake that, when made right, packs astonishing flavor. The challenge was replacing the mayo; it seemed odd to include it in a Southeast Asian dish. And then I realized I could take the tod mun imitation one step further and use the time-honored technique of including puréed fish as a binder.
This worked perfectly. I use shrimp purée because the taste doesn’t conflict with that of the crab; scallops are another good option. Just stick a few in a small food processor and whiz for a few seconds, or chop and mash by hand.
Once I’d solved that issue, the rest was easy, choosing an assortment of Thai flavors, many of which, especially the chili, can be increased to taste.
You can serve these with lime wedges, as I do here, or make a Thai-style dipping sauce of nam pla or soy sauce, lime juice, a little sugar and a few chopped scallions. Or yield to heresy and spike a little mayonnaise with nam pla or soy sauce.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
All diners set to their work with mostly mirthless expressions, mechanically splitting carcasses, tearing claws and sucking legs as they had done on the porch in Pleasant Valley MD so many times before.
Too soon, all that would be left of the deceased Chesapeake crawlers would be a mountain of shells, precisely empty of contents. Done in by a crowd of intent consumers, albeit close members of a jolly and usually loving family.
The savored smidgeons of excised crab were washed down with many gulps of beer. A question of proper form. Some guests drank soda and ate hot dogs. Ha! They would have no hairy backs on which to shave the high school W!
Luke, of the hair, tears off some more paper towels with which to keep things septic. He is now the father of two boys. I first knew him as a toddler. When he was playing football for Westminster High a few years ago, he was a fearsome crusher. When among his loved ones as at the affair here he exudes gentleness, and only looks crabby at times.
And John Means Jr., father of the other day's Zach-the-crab-dangler, brooks no nonsense with his plated quarry. He wastes no time pounding the shells with wooden mallets. He uses his Means hands to hammer the top of the knife directly.
It is said that you can tell the eventual size of a growing dog by the size of its paws when a puppy. Here, we noted on our recent Maryland trip, in an old snapshot of Denise at age about 12 that she had the outsized hands of her father, John Means.
We know, her friends and loved ones, that Dee grew into the hands nicely, and they compliment her overall being. They don't look big now in her current proportions.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
At the public library, in semi-frustration, I've given up wearing the woodpecker hat. I'm tired of being taken so stone-cold serious by my fellow Waukeshans. Now, with usual smiles, I slip within in the racks of books, and at the check-out desk I only sometimes wish I had the mask on to keep other library users from tittering into their mittens about my odd given looks.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sister-in-law Doreen, Zach's mom, shown to the side here smiles hungrily after eating only her approximately 20th crab.
Zach, her college son, a shot-putter and hammer-thrower, illustrated at the top , handles that crab as though it weighed only a few ounces. Which it did.
More on a post to follow.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Jane Vollmer, now 84, spent a night in the cold woods last week in back of her empty-nest home across from the Menomonee River north of Marinette.
She'd bundled up in the evening to take a solitary walk and admire the fall foliage. She slipped on a log, fell and broke her shoulder. She couldn't right herself; too much pain. And her knees, surgically repaired, couldn't bear the strain of righting her. So she drifted in and out of consciousness the entire night in the chilled north woods. The rescuers summoned via 911 by finder son Alan, said Jane's body temperature had dropped to 54 degrees. Another hour and she would have been dead, they reckoned.
But the Vollmers are a very tough family.
Jane bore 11 children who were often more than a handful. Her rugged and feisty husband, my beloved friend, Bill died 19 years to the day that she took this nearly fatal fall. We SRNers were reminiscing about the Vollmers last night with our friends John and Cindy Helt. Fall foliage figured into that, too, for we were there for a fish dinner at the Fox & Hounds restaurant and then to spend pleasant hours with them in their Hogsback Road cabin in the town of Erin. Helt is the new pastor at St Paul's UCC near their Hogsback Rd. home. (See http://raccoonnews.blogspot.com/2009/08/sure-wish-i-had-that-car-now.html and search other entries in the SRN under 'Vollmer'.)
Our history with the Vollmers goes back over 27 years, when John became the minister, fresh out of seminary, at the Vollmer's old church, Friedens UCC, at 13th & Juneau MIlw. Thus, when I told the Helts about Jane Vollmer's mishap we were on common ground.
Sometime way back, Jane wrote out in pencil on a scrap of paper her recipe for pickled fish for Cindy, and last night while we were talking about her miraculous survival of this accident, Cindy said she'd once gotten the best recipe from Jane for pickled fish that she still uses! She immediately fetched it from her kitchen recipe archives and loaned it to us so it could be included in the raccoon news. It, below, is an historical document:
Bill would catch the fish and Jane would fry them in a big cast iron skillet. Wall -Eyes fresh from the Menomonee River across their road, Twin Island. The fishing family (all 13) caught so many fish that they sometimes pickled them in jars.
We spoke to Jane today about this. She is already home from the hospital and recuperating. She remembers writing that recipe out for Cindy so many years ago, and her heart was warmed to learn that her recipe is still in use.
Having told Jane we wanted to do this, we pass the recipe along to our SRN readers for their own enjoyment via this instrument, with Jane's blessing.
Jane related to me this morning on the telephone that a nearby neighbor has a collection of garden gnomes, and a friendly dog who often keeps a watch on Jane's comings and goings. "Wouldn't you know it, that darn dog never came around when I needed him!" But she imagined (?) that the gnomes were dancing around her, making her angry. All through the night they kept at it.
This is an old photo of the Vollmer family. It has appeared in the SRN before. Jane was found in her nearly expired condition by son Alan, middle front row. Alan is the Vollmer's youngest. He lives close-by.
When I watched this approximately 3o minute segment - attached below - I was displeased that the video ran with some hesitations, but I waited them out and they rectified themselves, and it was worth it. I so much admired Welshman Richard Burton, yet was never fond of Cavett, seeing him as an overly self-effacing interviewer with a too cute smile. But Cavett is tolerable in this, and catching more of Burton's gifted stagecraft, and his heartfelt advice to fellow recovering drinkers ( we have many friends and family members thus afflicted) makes this a more than worthy SRN inclusion.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
she unpacks her memorabilia, including a jar of schoolyard marbles about which she will write something soon, and settles into a 100% unharried & unsoldierly lifestyle. A lifestyle that has her making jams and jellies. The one spread on the fresh bread above is blackberry. From Oregon.
Nel gets into the kitchen practice while thinking of her grandmother who blessed her loved ones with fare like this, and taught Nel how to prepare it.
In the spirit of that, we spread the jelly with one of our own grandmother's table knives, in service in our own family going back to the turn of the 20th century, or earlier. The knife is silverplate and is rusting around the edges. We use it and wash it tenderly.
The knife, I guess, is feeling right, spreading something like Gaynelle's (grandmother's) jelly.
"All things are connected!" Chief Seattle. Duwamish