Saturday, June 26, 2010



Sits on the piano
Voluptuous veggie
Reached for the sky
Then was nipped
Beyond the bud
Leaves shortened
For the market (farmers)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just knocking about the house


From our vantage in the Putney building above the Black Trumpet restaurant where we've resided for two months, one of the focal visuals in the evening is the Clarke Hotel and attached restaurant known as the Black Trumpet.

The question of the moment is, has the Black Trumpet sounded for the Black Trumpet? We have seen very few customers through their windows during our two months here. VERY few.

Quite often the place is empty. The roofline running lights are off. Napkins are folded neatly on vacant table tops. Wine glasses wait desolately to be filled. Now the city taxing authorities are threatening not to renew their license to allow alcohol for those wineglasses unless delinquent 130K property taxes are paid up by June 30. A ruling is expected by the Common Council next Tuesday.

Other embroilments threaten, per the news......


A Carroll County Maryland memory book sits atop our little table in the upstairs bathroom. Among the pictures within is this shot of an old jail in the shape of a true can.

Could this be where the term "in the can" originated? The steel plating forming the structure was sold for scrap iron during WW II, the caption says. (Enlarge)


Mona, the animal kingdom's representative in our household.
(also enlarge for the wolf print on our easel.)

An antique hand crank pencil sharpener sits atop a chair on our landing to the loft. Son Lee gave it back to us for safe-keeping while he moves to Houston to begin his Teach for America two year stint, following his recent graduation from UW Madison.
We wonder if he might not want to take it now to his Houston 5th grade classroom for his desk, as a visual/tactile aid?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tornado whorlings

Re the storm mentioned in the previous SRN post, as yesterday progressed and the damage could be surveyed by light of day, it was discovered that there had indeed been tornados in Eagle and nearby environs.
Severe damage was done to about 50 homes.
There were no fatalities, according to authorities.
But illustrating the counterclockwise whorl, like s cowlick, one funnel touched down at the Old World WI museum grounds southwest of the town of Eagle and left the natural design shown in today's local newspaper. The many downed trees revealed a distinct swirling pattern.
Fortunately the famed adjacent octagonal Clausing Barn at the museum was not seriously harmed. Only the cupola was damaged.
Say no more!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Downtown living

Weather report 6/22/10
Waukesha WI
We had a terrific storm last night. Potential tornado(s) damaged several homes in Eagle a few miles SW of here. Other damages are reported in Mukwonago and Vernon. No one was seriously hurt, it is said. Final assessment is yet to come.
We watched a movie while the heavy rain pelted the skylight above us and the lightning flashed coninuously through the plexiglass. At one point a distant siren sounded. We opted to stay put in our bunker on the top floor of the 1882 Putney, made of thick limestone.
Occasional trips to the front window revealed streets awash with several inches of water. The rain and lightning were captivating, but eventually we returned to our viewing room/bedroom in the rear. We speculated that flying glass would not reach us there unless it was mightily-driven, through some intervening walls of the kitchen and bathroom. Had the skylight blown off, the only light source in that room, we would have gotten very wet.
Today we walked the block down to the Fox River to see how high the river had run. It looked to have been a couple of feet over its banks, judging by the beaten grass on river's edge, pointing downstream.
The walking path at the river was submerged at one point during the storm's immediate aftermath.
Shown here, a woman surveys the debris-strewn Riverwalk. The river is still running quite high but the picturesque walkway is traversible.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A great father, great friend

Provider of many things for me, including this oriole's nest, still a treasure............
On the occasion of your high school graduation:

I have never met you but any friend of Bill Vollmer’s is a friend of mine. And certainly, a granddaughter is!

We would love to attend your graduation ceremony and meet you and see the other Vollmers in attendance. Unfortunately we cannot come. But I thought I might write you a letter on this auspicious occasion, at least.

You must be around 18 years of age. How long ago now did Bill pass away? In many ways he never left me, and his memory comes daily. If for no other reason than because of the oriole nest I admired years ago high in a tree on Twin Island Road. Ever present in our home, it now hangs here on the high wall of our living room between that level and the upper loft where I now sit typing.

Your Grandpa Bill said in his gruff voice, “Do want that, Dave? I’ll git it fer ya!”

Whereupon he got a long ladder and propped it up against the big tree and got as high as he could on that and then climbed higher and after checking the nest for eggs or no eggs he broke it off the branch and brought it down to me.

He was very careful not to damage the fragile woven nest. I’ve enclosed a picture of it hanging in our new place in downtown Waukesha. Any of you Vollmers can come and see it and visit us any time. (262-547-1427 or

But far beyond that reminder of Bill are the times we had together up there in Marinette Co. Fishing on the Menominee, catching walleyes, dispatching carp for the eagles………and I still go over in my mind the time I first met Bill and Jane and the family when we were introduced by your uncle Tom back around 1977. I was hired to sell the family house on Hawley Rd in Milwaukee. We got ‘er done (pure luck!) in 11 days after a period of some months of being listed thru other less fortunate Realtors.

After that - and we raised the price, too -I was in solid with them. My wife Dee and I even honeymooned in the family cabin on the renowned 40 acres. We’ve been married now 27 years. The deer mice that owned the cabin did not deter us.

Other times, I went to your cabin to XC ski, etc.

Dining on walleye fried by your grandmother in her big cast iron skillet on Twin Island, man oh man!

Unforgettable, all of it.

I wish you well as you begin the next chapter of your lovely life. I say lovely because your grandfather Bill taught me to love life as he did. He did it in a tough way, I’m sure you’ve been told. But your dad, Alan, was among those who respected him and tried to fully obey.

The ghost of your grandfather will be present at your graduation. You won’t have to look for it.

When I drove up for his funeral several years ago I followed the Menominee River where he used to fish and feed the eagles the carp. I saw an eagle swooping low over the river through the fog, and I thought he might have been doing a fly-over for his departed friend, provider and fishing buddy.

This letter will run in the raccoon news, a blog I do. I will be sure that your Dad gets it to you.

Best wishes!

David Dix

Samantha's dad Alan at a younger age

front row middle

This letter was drafted, as it happens, on Fathers Day, June 20, 2010, and fitting that it is, to honor not only the HS graduate but her grandfather Bill. Producer with his brave wife Jane of 11 children (shown above). I think that makes him a super father.

Coming back

Dear Les,

Other son of LVD I, although you eschew the New York Times as the conservative you are, I thought this Op-Ed article in their Week in Review section was worthy of our brotherly friendship. I awoke to this fine regularly read newspaper at my side. Dee put it there before she trekked to church way before service - she's starting her church vacation today and just wanted to make a quick delivery of flowers for the altar. Thus began my Fathers Day on a great note.

enlarge to read
Our Dad in 1933, before neither you nor I, nor WW II was on his mind.
Happy Fathers Day, Dad,
bones reposing at Arlington,
and thanks!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

From Rocks to Raccoons

MUSHROOM, LOON, RACCOON & etc. artist, the lamentably late Joan Beringer Pripps, pictured below, painted these true Rocky Raccoon rocks for sale in her cottage shop near Springstead WI called THE STUDIO IN THE WOODS. They date from the 50s or 60s and have been in the proud possession of friend of the SRN and Pripps collector David James, Tucson AZ ever since.

David sent a polaroid of the rocks to us today, herewith presented. Note the tails curled at their sides.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Heart arborists go all out

Picnic 2010

On 6-14-10, we had pleasant duty covering the annual picnic of the First Congregational UCC church, held this year at the country home of Bill and Cleo and Bill Glasenapp near Dousman WI.

The doings began at 11 AM in place of Sunday church worship and continued until late afternoon. An on-site service held before a hay bale altar was conducted with inspiration and verve by interim minister Rev. Deborah Howland.

Then the frolicking ensued. It ended in late afternoon when around 100 attendees pointed their cars down the picturesque drive and sought their respective homes. Most returned to far less idyllic dwelling places after basking in the wide open grassy spaces of the Glasenapp “ranchette” so graciously shared.

The guests, members and friends of the church had it easy compared to Bill and Cleo, who were for many days in the preparation for this gathering on their grounds, and, we dare say, also long in the dismantling. Removal of outdoor bathroom facilities, drying out and deconstruction of the massive tent canopy, and many other duties were before them.

They did it willingly, for it was a gift they could share with loved ones: sitters upon folding lawn chairs, but many of whom had taken on preliminary tasks in the preparation, and some did in the breakdown.

The sun seemed to keep prospective rain at bay until after the picnic, for which all were grateful. A lot of prep work and high hopes were vindicated.

The sun is probably still at work straightening the bent grass of their joyfully -trod grounds. The timely rainfall the next day seemed a coda of blessing for Bill and Cleo. Their children, grandchildren, dogs and horses, even the tested big tree limbs swung from by rambunctious rope-climbing youth must have breathed sighs of contentment.

Pictured below are Cleo and Bill:

Rev. Howland led worship with verve and inspiration

Geri and Dee present 'God Is Still Speaking' caps honoring SS teachers and their assistants

Kathy and Mary

Music for singing

Bill rigs Pinata rope from tree midst high anticipation

Redding twin (Morgan or Thomas) and Tod, roping
Footnote: Old picnic goers will remember this 1955 film:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Historic stained glass window now hangs in historic Putney building downtown

People have asked
just where do we live downtown.
Now with the air conditioner in, we have hung the Resthaven stained glass window
in the center window of our living room.

All they have to do now is look up to the top floor (3rd) and examine the row of windows running from left to right. We are the three windows farthest right, and the window pinpoints our location.

An auspicious day it has been. Not only do we have the window up but the management company planted the flowers in the courtyard. All just in time for our first guests Friday, the Helts of Hogsback Road, Hubertus.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Yibawean umbrella

Dee can be seen sometimes
carrying her umbrella, since she now lives in historic downtown Waukesha. She works her two jobs both within walking distance of our old Odd Fellows high-ceilinged apartment in the Putney Building. Today she left after lunch carrying the umbrella. Rain was threatening.

The official YIBAWEAN SOCIETY umbrella has a handle we carved from a sapling root ball found at the Schlitz Audubon nature preserve in Bayside WI. The shattered small tree was washing in the water and was salvaged.

We ground off the root ends and shaped it into what became an umbrella handle. It also serves as a direction finder. There is a small compass sunk into the cranium. And as protection, if Dee finds herself in a situation she cannot talk her way out of. A shillelagh. She would do a lot of friendly talking first, for the umbrella is formidable.

Readers wondering about the Yibawean Society can search the raccoon news under YIBAWE. YIBAWE is still our car plate number. The Society was founded in 1987. It's an already well-covered uncovered story.

I'd like to speak to the person in charge, please.....

Sometimes we just want to say, Thank you, Jesus......

Is this one of those times?

Certainly we thank those 'In Charge'.

We have the air conditioner promised;

it kept the loft bowling alley simulation

at 72 and 30% humidity in front

and back by the pins very tolerable

and much appreciated

through-out the night.


Carrier, Berg Management (?)

put it all together

for us!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Graven images, part II

Another friend of artist Willis Guthrie since the 60's
Retired Chairman of the Art Department at Carroll College
and still creating at the Avalon Square at 92

Here is Guthrie's Found Object assembly called the 'Dirt God'. Made from a roaster pan, binder twine, belt loop parts for skin, vacuum cleaner brushes for eyes, scrub brushes for feet, and a raggedy zipper for his mouth, the effigy has been holding forth in our various abodes since 1965 when Wis created it and signed it with his name. See illus.

For a long time it stood atop the microwave in the kitchen. Before that it lurked in a dark corner of the basement. Intended to get the attention of our children, it did not fail. They grew up protected by its presence. Now they come home to visit it. Or, it is still visited upon them.

Wis's caveat in parting with the creation was to never ever dust or clean the Dirt God, but to allow it to continuously and uninterruptedly get dirtier and dirtier. That vow we have kept.

This is another thing that money cannot buy at the former Odd Fellows hall downtown, the Dirt God's new residence. Visitors are welcome. Call 1st.

Down the stairs and through the alley, to Grandmother's market we go......

After today's Waukesha Farmers Market, Dee returned to her reading corner in the former Odd Fellows hall high atop the Putney Building. A fresh bouquet from the Hmong lady decorates the table. Though not shown in this picture, Dee likes to sit in the gold velvet chair and put her feet up on the Bhudda step-ladder's first rung, which she has cushioned with a pillow. From there she can survey the passing scene below if she wants, or settle down with a good book, of which she has many.

Early this morning we left our recently air-conditioned dwelling (see it?) to saunter across the street to the Fox River and the bustling farmers market.

An Amish woman sells her bakery. We did not take a frontal picture of her. We bought some of her apple-sorghum cookies.

This lady had her mascot with her. Some folks have written to the Sound Off column in the local paper, complaining about the dogs at the market. Some have expressed fear of being bitten or slobbered on.

These well-cared for and leashed little animals probably aren't going to hurt anyone.

A couple taking pictures for an upcoming photo spread at the Waukesha Civic Theatre worked their multiple lenses, shooting many things, stand to stand.

A man departs with his bag of purchases.

Famed local poet, unnamed - so readily is she known - gathers items before returning to the Avalon Square where she now lives. She exclaimed when she saw us, "Well, as I live and breathe!"
We replied with an affectionate touch to her shoulder, "Yes Barbara, you live AND you breathe!"

Friday, June 11, 2010


Obama to make reassuring eye contact with every last American

June 9, 2010 ROCKLAND, ME—In an attempt to convince an anxious populace that his legislative agenda is working and that everything is going to be all right, President Barack Obama embarked on a 50-state, 30,000-town tour Monday during which he plans to gaze assuredly into the eyes of each American citizen, one at a time.
"I know a lot of people out there are nervous. They're worried about unemployment, the oil spill in the Gulf, and whether or not I am making the right choices in Washington," Obama said during a rally at Rockland District High School. "To those Americans, I offer you this inspiring, confident gaze."
Obama then stepped down from his podium, walked into the 2,000-person audience, and peered comfortingly into each person's eyes. After taking 45 minutes to methodically work his way from the front row all the way to the balcony, and punctuating each look with a gentle pat on the shoulder, Obama returned to the stage, collected himself, and addressed the silent group before him.
"There," he said. "All better."
In their announcement of the "2010 Eye-to-Eye Tour," White House officials said that Obama will first spend two weeks making eye contact with the 55 million residents of the densely populated Northeastern states, looking into their eyes and, if necessary, offering them an encouraging head nod. Obama will then continue down the East Coast before taking on the tour's biggest challenge: gazing with confidence into the eyes of a hostile Southern electorate that largely rejects his policies.
Sources said in order to convince Southerners that the $787 billion economic stimulus package is working and that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is necessary, Obama will stare at them with a serious yet caring squint, give them a soothing smile, and, if necessary, mouth the words "trust me."
At press time, Obama was making his way down North Calvert Street in Baltimore, where he was earnestly looking into the eyes of 42-year-old construction worker Paul Hatfield.
"This is a way for the president to get out of the Washington bubble and really reconnect with the American people," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said during a Tuesday briefing. "To be honest, I was a little hesitant about the idea at first, but then the president called me into his office, sat me down, told me to take off my glasses, and looked at me with the most reassuring expression I have ever seen. At that point I was sold."
In the past several days, more than 60 million citizens have had similar calming encounters with the president. Patrons at the Beefside Family Restaurant in Concord, NH, many of whom expressed concern that the country was more divided than ever, were placated Tuesday when the president went from booth to booth making eye contact with every man, woman, and child present. If diners attempted to avoid his glance, Obama maneuvered his head quickly but confidently until he made direct eye contact and held their gaze.
Obama also offered a self-assured stare to more than 24,000 out-of-work autoworkers in New Jersey; all members of the Vermont teacher's union; some 500 West Virginia coal miners; Philadelphia; attorneys and clients in the law offices of Blum, Horowitz, and Mertz; and Pittsburgh native and Hollywood actor Michael Keaton.
"I was waiting for the T when I felt a tap on my shoulder," Boston resident Jarrod Tomlinson, 36, said. "I turned around and it was the president of the United States. Before I could tell him that as a small business owner, I was a little worried that the new health care bill wouldn't offer me the subsidies necessary to provide my employees with coverage, he just grabbed both of my arms, looked into my eyes for maybe five seconds, massaged my shoulder briefly, and walked away."
"And you know what?" Tomlinson continued. "I think everything's going to be okay."
Though recent poll numbers indicate that Obama is slowly earning the trust of Americans throughout the country, some positive effects of his confident glance appear to have been negated by Vice President Joe Biden, who has been busy winking at every American citizen while pretending to shoot them with imaginary finger guns.

Sooth and trinkets

Words received in today's mail
especially meaningful just now:


We have a running colloquy
with son Leland now in Texas to begin his Teach for America stint.
Re trinketry:

Shown here is the Mexican cross that hangs today at our side in the Raccoon News office. It consists of small copper charms (trinkets) attached to a wood cross with small copper brads. A close view shows that there are such things as turkeys, cowboy hats, a handshake, a fish, a roaring lion, and etc. Jesus, of course, in the center......

Trinkets, yet when seen from a short distance the whole thing hands together nicely, we think. Hence we bought it from the now gone Latin America shop, The Market Place at E. North Ave and the water tower near St Mary's hospital, Milwaukee, many trinket-years ago.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


puts it all together for me

The all-intrusive medium

has a new feature this morning

Now I can select the background

opening image for my internet connexion

as illustrated above;

and now I can slip even further

into their web

and be subsumed?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Never judge a person by their color

A blonde city girl named Amy marries a Colorado rancher. One morning, on his way out to check on the cows, the rancher says to Amy, 'The insemination man is coming over to impregnate one of our cows today, so I drove a nail into the 2 by 4 just above where the cow's stall is in the barn. Please show him where the cow is when he gets here, OK?'

The rancher leaves for the fields. After a while, the artificial insemination man arrives and knocks on the front door. Amy takes him down to the barn. They walk along the row of cows and when Amy sees the nail, she tells him, 'This is the one right here.'

The man, assuming he is dealing with an air head blond, asks, 'Tell me lady, 'cause I'm dying to know; how would YOU know that this is the right cow to be bred?'

'That's simple," she said. "By the nail that's over its stall,' she explains very confidently.

Laughing rudely at her, the man says, 'And what, pray tell, is the nail for?'

The blonde turns to walk away and says sweetly over her shoulder, 'I guess it's to hang your pants on.'

Attention children:

History for dollars
by David Brooks
New York Times 6-7-10
When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting. When the job market worsens, many students figure they can’t indulge in an English or a history major. They have to study something that will lead directly to a job.

So it is almost inevitable that over the next few years, as labor markets struggle, the humanities will continue their long slide. There already has been a nearly 50 percent drop in the portion of liberal arts majors over the past generation, and that trend is bound to accelerate. Once the stars of university life, humanities now play bit roles when prospective students take their college tours. The labs are more glamorous than the libraries.
But allow me to pause for a moment and throw another sandbag on the levy of those trying to resist this tide. Let me stand up for the history, English and art classes, even in the face of today’s economic realities.
Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo.
Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod. Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance.
Studying the humanities will give you a wealth of analogies. People think by comparison — Iraq is either like Vietnam or Bosnia; your boss is like Narcissus or Solon. People who have a wealth of analogies in their minds can think more precisely than those with few analogies. If you go through college without reading Thucydides, Herodotus and Gibbon, you’ll have been cheated out of a great repertoire of comparisons.
Finally, and most importantly, studying the humanities helps you befriend The Big Shaggy.
Let me try to explain. Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior: economics, political science, game theory and evolutionary psychology. These systems are useful in many circumstances. But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don’t lend themselves to systemic modeling. They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy.
You can see The Big Shaggy at work when a governor of South Carolina suddenly chucks it all for a love voyage south of the equator, or when a smart, philosophical congressman from Indiana risks everything for an in-office affair.
You can see The Big Shaggy at work when self-destructive overconfidence overtakes oil engineers in the gulf, when go-go enthusiasm intoxicates investment bankers or when bone-chilling distrust grips politics.
Those are the destructive sides of The Big Shaggy. But this tender beast is also responsible for the mysterious but fierce determination that drives Kobe Bryant, the graceful bemusement the Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga showed when his perfect game slipped away, the selfless courage soldiers in Afghanistan show when they risk death for buddies or a family they may never see again.
The observant person goes through life asking: Where did that come from? Why did he or she act that way? The answers are hard to come by because the behavior emanates from somewhere deep inside The Big Shaggy.
Technical knowledge stops at the outer edge. If you spend your life riding the links of the Internet, you probably won’t get too far into The Big Shaggy either, because the fast, effortless prose of blogging (and journalism) lacks the heft to get you deep below.
But over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music, myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape and speech. These men and women developed languages that help us understand these yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of emotional knowledge that are the subjects of the humanities.
It’s probably dangerous to enter exclusively into this realm and risk being caught in a cloister, removed from the market and its accountability. But doesn’t it make sense to spend some time in the company of these languages — learning to feel different emotions, rehearsing different passions, experiencing different sacred rituals and learning to see in different ways?
Few of us are hewers of wood. We navigate social environments. If you’re dumb about The Big Shaggy, you’ll probably get eaten by it.