Monday, September 27, 2010

Went; flew kite; American soil

David (center), Buddy, (right) and a girl (lnu)
fly a kite in a cornfield
at an Army base in Tennessee
where we children were
billeted with our Army soldier Dads
who were training in 1942 as armed officers
to keep our American skies
safe from Jap Zeros and Messerschmitts
and bombers,
thus kite flying could freely and happily occur,
without Hitler or Hirohito's interference.
This greatly enlarged Brownie snapshot has hung as a reminder at the SRN headquarters for many years. Once over a fireplace, now on the 18 foot wall of our bedroom, opposite where we lay out heads. Kite added, not in the picture. You had to have been there.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


We haven't hit bottom yet.....

Op-Ed Columnist

Published: September 24, 2010
Marcus Vogt is 20 years old and homeless. Or, as he puts it, “I’m going through a couch-surfing phase.”
Mr. Vogt is a Wal-Mart employee but he was injured in a car accident and was unable to work for a couple of months. With no income and no health insurance, he quickly found himself unable to pay the rent. Even meals were hard to come by.
(His situation is quite a statement about real life in the United States in the 21st century. On the same day that I spoke with Mr. Vogt, Forbes magazine came out with its list of the 400 most outrageously rich Americans.)
I met Mr. Vogt at Master’s Manna, a food pantry and soup kitchen here that also offers a variety of other services to individuals and families that have fallen on hard times. He told me that his cellphone service has been cut off and he has more than $3,000 in medical bills outstanding. But he was cheerful and happy to report that he’s back at work, although it will take at least a few more paychecks before he’ll have enough money to rent a room.
Other folks who make their way to Master’s Manna are not so upbeat. The Great Recession has long since ended, according to the data zealots in their windowless rooms. But it is still very real to the millions of men and women who wake up each morning to the grim reality of empty pockets and empty cupboards.
Wallingford is nobody’s definition of a depressed community. It’s a middle-class town on the Quinnipiac River. But the number of people seeking help at Master’s Manna is rising, not falling. And when I asked Cheryl Bedore, who runs the program, if she was seeing more clients from the middle class, she said: “Oh, absolutely. We have people who were donors in the past coming to our doors now in search of help.”
The political upheaval going on in the United States right now is being driven by the economic upheaval. It’s sometimes hard to see this clearly amid the craziness and ugliness stirred up by the professional exploiters. But the essential issue is still the economy — the rising tide of poor people and the decline of the middle class. The true extent of the pain has not been widely chronicled.
“The minute you open the doors, it’s like a wave of desperation that’s hitting you,” said Ms. Bedore. “People are depressed, despondent. They’re on the edge, especially those who have never had to ask for help before.”
In recent weeks, a few homeless people with cars have been showing up at Master’s Manna. Ms. Bedore has gotten permission from the local police department for them to park behind her building and sleep in their cars overnight. “We’ve been recognized as a safe haven,” she said.
In two of the cars, she said, were families with children.
It’s not just joblessness that’s driving people to the brink, although that’s a big factor. It’s underemployment, as well. “For many of our families,” said Ms. Bedore, “the 40-hour workweek is over, a thing of the past. They may still have a job, but they’re trying to survive on reduced hours — with no benefits. Some are on forced furloughs.
“Once you start losing the income and you’ve run through your savings, then your car is up for repossession, or you’re looking at foreclosure or eviction. We’re a food pantry, but hunger is only the tip of the iceberg. Life becomes a constant juggling act when the money starts running out. Are you going to pay for your medication? Or are you going to put gas in the car so you can go to work?
“Kids are going back to school now, so they need clothes and school supplies. Where is the money for that to come from? The people we’re seeing never expected things to turn out like this — not at this stage of their lives. Not in the United States. The middle class is quickly slipping into a lower class.”
Similar stories — and worse — are unfolding throughout the country. There are more people in poverty now — 43.6 million — than at any time since the government began keeping accurate records. Nearly 15 million Americans are out of work and home foreclosures are expected to surpass one million this year. The Times had a chilling front-page article this week about the increasing fear among jobless workers over 50 that they will never be employed again.
The politicians seem unable to grasp the immensity of the problem, which is why the policy solutions are so woefully inadequate. During my conversations with Ms. Bedore, she dismissed the very thought that the recession might be over. “Whoever said that was sadly mistaken,” she said. “We haven’t even bottomed-out yet.”

Oy vey!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An old perspective:

Once upon a time:

Waukesha water was considered laden with health properties. Even the city seal to this day shows a figure dipping a gourdful of spring water.

There was even a beer brewed here called a 'health' beer. But now, there is a water war going on among city officials and others over whether to pipe Lake Michigan water to serve the formerly blessed community, in order to meet current radium safety levels. And Lake Michigan is not the same as the clear, bubbling water that used to flow so freely from mysterious but-taken-for-granted springs, all over town......we carried wagon loads of it home from a nearby spring in Silurian Park, where it ran continuously, 24 hours a day, and was free of charge...... and radium.

So many changes and expirations have been witnessed by the SRN, born in 1936.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brian the Russian doorman

as we said

frequently takes time off

but is kind enough to prop open

the big double front door

with a rock

Tiger vs Gaius

we are advised:
"Last fall, Forbes magazine was all atwitter as Tiger Woods closed in on becoming 'the first athlete to earn over $1 billion' in the course of his career. Presumably his fortunes will now start to droop, but Forbes missed the mark-taking the long view, Tiger was never all that well paid to begin with when compared with the charioteers of ancient Rome.
"The modern sporting spectacles we manage to stage - and on occasion be appalled by - pale by comparison to the common entertainments of Rome. The Circus Maximus, the beating heart at the center of the empire, accommodated a quarter million people for weekly chariot races.
These outdrew stage plays (to the deep chagrin of the playwrights), the disemboweling of slaves and exotic carnivores in the gladiatorial combats of the Coliseum, and even the naval battles emperors staged within the city limits - real war ships with casts of thousands - on acres of man-made lakes they had dug out and drained the Tiber to fill.
"For the races, spectators arrived the evening before to stake out good seats. They ate and drank to excess, and fights were common under the influence of furor circensis, the Romans' name for the mass hysteria the spectacles induced.
Ovid recommended the reserve seating as a good place to pick up aristocratic women, and he advised letting your hand linger as you fluff her seat cushion.
"Drivers were drawn from the lower orders of society.They affiliated with teams supported by large businesses that invested heavily in training and upkeep of the horses and equipment. The colors of the team jerseys provided them with names, and fans would often hurl violent enthusiasms, as well as lead curse amulets punctured with nails, at the Reds, Blues, Whites, and Greens.
"The equipment consisted of a leather helmet, shin guards, chest protector, a jersey, whip, and a curved knife-handy for cutting opponents who got too close or to cut themselves loose from entangling reins in case of a fall. They adopted a Greek style of long curly hair protruding from under their helmets and festooned their horses' manes with ribbons and jewels. Races started when the emperor dropped his napkin and a hapless referee would try to keep order from horseback. After seven savage laps, those who managed not to be upended or killed and finish in the top three took home prizes.
"The best drivers were made legends by poets who sung their exploits and graffiti artists who scrawled crude renderings of their faces on walls around the Mediterranean. They could also be made extraordinarily wealthy.
"The very best paid of these - in fact, the best paid athlete of all time - was a Lusitanian Spaniard named Gaius Appuleius Diocles, who had short stints with the Whites and Greens, before settling in for a long career with the Reds.
Twenty-four years of winnings brought Diocles - likely an illiterate man whose signature move was the strong final dash - the staggering sum of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money. The figure is recorded in a monumental inscription erected in Rome by his fellow charioteers and admirers in 146, which hails him fulsomely on his retirement at the age of '42 years, 7 months, and 23 days' as 'champion of all charioteers.
'"His total take home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest paid provincial governors over a similar period-enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year, or to pay all the ordinary soldiers of the Roman Army at the height of its imperial reach for a fifth of a year.
By today's standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion. Even without his dalliances, it is doubtful Tiger could have matched it."

[DELANCEYPLACE Editor's note: Comparisons of monetary value over significant spans of time are notoriously difficult, and other methodologies would yield different results than that shown above.]
Authors: Peter StruckTitle: "Greatest of All Time"Publisher: Lapham's Quarterly Roundtable BlogDate: August 2, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another beauty from Wasilla

Ruth Kari
Wasilla, Alaska

and her boyfriend Isaiah, a basketball machine with other attributes. They have known each other and been best friends since pre-school. Ruth is now a freshman in high school.

Ruth is named after the SRN editor's mother, Ruth, left. The name, of course, is biblical, as is Isaiah. It reminds me that I wanted to name my second son with the middle name of Zark, first name, Noah. Fortunately, probably, the mother, Dee, would not agree to that.
Good luck to Ruth and Isaiah (and parents) at Wasilla high!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Unto all things, a season:

(Artist's rendering)
At the end

of a long stone outside corridor
stands Brian the doorman, a Russian,
and this is the current home of the
sewer raccoon news.

The masonry for this complex was laid in 1882. Ancient fossil-laden limestone, seemingly randomly set, but obviously sturdy, is destined to stand another 100 years or more.

An interesting truth is that this grandiloquent outside entrance was formerly a mere service alley. Enterprising kinged renovators captured the building on the checkerboard of commerce, and revamped The Putney thoroughly. The News resides on the top floor in a former Odd Fellows Hall. A bright skylight above our desk admits the blinding illumination requisite for our sometimes in need of greater light thoughts. So too do the other rooftop domes here in our unmarked and - from the outside - inauspicious unit.

After fame that became unbearable in later years, we purposefully sought anonymity, and we have found it here.

The only addition we've added to the sedate and stony facade is Brian the Russian doorman. He is not allowed to tell anyone that we live (and work) here. For that he is tipped generously. And he spends a lot of time off.

Grandad remembering the good old days....

Friday, September 17, 2010


Mike Leidel, Druid
as reliable as a great old beer truck

makes and plays music like this:


Thursday, September 16, 2010

On aging

The woodcutter changes his mind

by David Budbill

When I was young, I cut the bigger, older trees for firewood, the ones

with heart rot, dead and broken branches, the crippled and deformed

ones, because, I reasoned, they were going to fall soon anyway, and

therefore, I should give the younger trees more light and room to grow.

Now I'm older and I cut the younger, strong and sturdy, solid

and beautiful trees, and I let the older ones have a few more years

of light and water and leaf in the forest they have known so long.

Soon enough they will be prostrate on the ground.

"The Woodcutter Changes His Mind" by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet: New Poems. © Copper Canyon Press, 2005

Doves of peace?

White birds fly through memorial light column
on 9-11-10

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cat, now dead, rides nearly bare back of beautiful woman:

His name was Mr. Coon
or Ragtime

Now, the late.

He would insist on riding around on his mistress's back

and as she was nothing if not an accomodating mother

she logged so many hours traversing the house

like that

that she developed a serious crick.

So much did she love the often surly beast

as we all did.

Well, no, not Leland.

Now we have Mona, another tabby,
and we've shared our residence with her
for 20 (count'em) years.
Mona insists 19.
She loves 'watermillion'
- her mispronunciation -
so Mona-loving Dee often has a bowl
of the favored fruit
with the several dishes at Mona's
feeding station.
And, for the preparatory long naps the old cat takes
on her preferred velvet-tufted chair
(dreaming, we conjecture, of watermillion),
she nestles up to her Dee-provided
heavenly cushion........
and rests.
For other SRN postings on Mona
search her by name in the window above left.
See preceding post on bare-back riding horsewoman.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This just in

Lee provides
on his blog
much fuller report on how school is going for him in Houston.

Be prepared to use your enlargment percentages and full screen adjustments to view it to the max. The birthday boy - 23 on Sept 9 - obviously waxes happy, which was my first observation as I listened to his mother watching the posting immediately on her arising. Over the loft ledge I called, "He sounds like he's happy!" If you want to send him a greeting, he's at

Monday, September 6, 2010

Woe! WOE!


A great start for a holiday when we had no plans for outside activities anyway. I sat in my recliner and watched a show better than any July 4th man-made skyrocketage. It seemed to go on forever. The sky churned from grays to light streaks and back to gray, Zeus's bolts ramming downward steadily. Distant thunder-clap time said it was far away, maybe over Hubertus.

Then when the rain began at our latitude it bfiefly contained hail, which gave us our first chance to hear the clattering sounds on our skylights. Much, much noise, and the hailstones were small. Imagine what is in store for us as the season advances!

The lights from Dave's Restaurant across the street reflected on the wet pavement. The hail brought down some small leafy twigs from the trees that were planted for pleasure in dolled-up historic downtown Waukesha.

Thanks to the forces that are.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chocolate chip, his favorite

Attn: Terry Mahoney
Midlife Muse(r)

Word reaches us that Terry's last child has been sent off to college, and now she's rattling around like a marble in a 5 lb coffee can. Our Emails to her lately have begun with the greeting Dear Your Obsolescence.

Yet there is still a useful function for you regarding absent Joe.

You can always bake him some cookies. This picture was just snapped of Dee baking cookies for absent Lee. She wil ship them to him in his new home in Houston, in time for his 23rd birthday Sept. 9th.

Thus Dee fulfills a vestigial act for her son.

Bear up. They come, they go........

Good luck.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Erin Kate Dix
completes first post-master's project
plays major role as an archivist
on the 1970 bombing of UW Sterling Hall
oral history film and entails
Find the video at:

Note Erin's listing in the credits above. This was a 'for pay' task, her first work as a graduate library science archivist. Her words in an accompanying Email:
I finally got the slideshow uploaded and published today, in case you are interested in seeing it. This was an extremely technical and complicated process (not the production of the slideshow as much as the process of getting it online), so I am quite proud of myself :)The higher-quality version with captions is here: There is also a version, sans captions, on YouTube:

Erin takes first leap off the high diving board
Buchner Park pool, Waukesha WI


Friday, September 3, 2010

Living in a box, but what a box

We listened to Kathleen Dunn on Wisconsin Public Radio yesterday. She was interviewing a Japanese architect who specializes in 'tiny houses'. (Search that on the net.)
The Japanese are known for living in small and efficient dwellings, historically, due to the lack of space for the population and their love of simplicity.

During the broadcast a man from Bayfield WI called in to tell of the award-winning Edge House near him, which caused us to look up this little dwelling.

Once upon a time......

we tinkered with burying St. Joseph statues in the yards of houses we were trying to sell. At first we thought it was superstition. Then it started to work. We would bury a statue after a period of no sales and shortly thereafter we would get an offer.

Successful closings followed. It made a believer out of us. The gift store at Holy Hill began to recognize us as a serious collector of St Joseph statues.

We figured if a single statue of St. Joseph would work, maybe a whole nativity set would provide ever more selling power.

We began buying entire plastic sets of nativity scenes, made in Taiwan. For a while, sales boomed. We thought we were onto something.

But sometimes folly can lead to excess.

We began to feel funny about what we were doing. Eventually we were hospitalized. Then we lost our own house.

Be careful what you pray for.


Sign on utility pole at St Paul's church, Hubertus WI
not far from the Holy Hill gift store.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

off-horse scrambling

The hay rake
by Kate Barnes (poem from Writers Almanac)

One evening I stopped by the field

to watch the hay rake

drawn toward me by two black, tall, ponderous horses

who stepped like conquerors over the fallen oat stalks,

light-shot dust at their heels, long shadows before them.

At the ditch the driver turned back in a wide arc,

the off-horse scrambling, the near-horse pivoting neatly.

The big side-delivery rake came about with a shriek—

its tines were crashing, the iron-bound tongue groaned aloud—

then, Hup, Diamond! Hup, Duke!

and they set off west,

trace-deep in dust, going straight into the low sun.

The clangor grew faint, distance and light consumed them;

a fiery chariot rolled away in a cloud of gold

and faded slowly, brightness dying into brightness.

The groaning iron, the prophesying wheels,

the mighty horses with their necks like storms

—all disappeared;

nothing was left but a track

of dust that climbed like smoke up the evening wind.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A not often-heard complaint anymore:

Police Blotter

taken from Waukesha Freeman newspaper 10-1-10

Waukesha Police Department
MONDAY 9:35 a.m. – A caller was extremely upset that his neighbor has been playing horseshoes and making a clanking noise in the 300 block of Morey Street. The neighbor has been playing horseshoes every day for one to three hours for years but began bothering the caller since March 2010.
2:35 p.m. – A person was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving after an accident occurred near College and East avenues.A drug recognition expert was called to respond.
4:50 p.m. – A young child was advised about taking things that don’t belong to him and about lying to adults after it was determined the child took fireworks from a neighbor without permission in the 400 block of Buena Vista Avenue.
6:06 p.m. – A man was arrested after a standoff in the 2100 block of MacArthur Road.The man reportedly was off his medications and was armed with a butcher knife.
6:54 p.m. – A teen was advised about the proper use of a phone after he accidentally dialed 911 when trying to text from a landline in the 1000 block of Western Avenue.
TUESDAY 12:58 a.m. – A person was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving during a traffic stop in the 300 block of North Grand Avenue.
1:21 a.m. – A group of juveniles were turned over to their parents after it was reported they were jumping up and down on signs in a parking lot in the 200 block of East Sunset Drive.
2:18 a.m. – A person was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving near Oakdale and West Sunset drives.
6:13 a.m. – Plants and lawn furniture were thrown into a pool in the 1100 block of Wisteria Lane.