Wednesday, August 31, 2011



Dusty typewriting

OUR WRITING WAS DONE FIRST BY HAND AND THEN WITH A MANUAL TYPEWRITER, AS SHOWN. Now, of course, we primarily use an electronic keyboard. But for nostalgia's sake, we sometimes get out the dusty old Corona and do some more audible hammering. Strike-overs were/are OK here.

See old Corona.
See dust. Get gist.
See today's date
on the calendar, set up
on the revered Lee folding table......

This was written on our old front porch in 2002. Click to enlarge:

Potato with jacket on



Monday, August 29, 2011

He deserves some JB bourbon:

Poppy has a birthday coming up.
We recently received this letter about the land in Kentucky he gave us some time ago.
In delayed gratification, we have not gone down to see it yet. Just knowing it is there is
enough. And no taxes to pay on it so far........
click to enlarge


The Raccoon News
has stepped back and dipped its little toe
into Facebook
in order to receive the photos posted via
that organ
by members of our far-flung family.

It requires much ignoring of extraneous matter
such as all the new friends claimed
by our back-to-school teen-age grandchildren,
which kid hates who
and who loves Jesus,

But hey,
that's what sieves are for
and some of you know that
as you skip over
the profundities and oft-erroneous pretense
of the subterranean raccoonage.

The pictures, we're in it for

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A weighty subject

Pick A Prize

by Jill Breckenridge

August, hot with flies, wasps
fallen sluggish to the sugar.
The State Fair, everyone eating
something or looking to be fed:
Pronto pups, chili dogs, popcorn,
cold milk, all you can drink,
Central Lutheran's homemade pie.
The woman who guesses weight,
wearing money apron and brown oxfords,
stands beside scales taller
than the big man who steps forward.
For only one pa-per dollar!
she reads his body, poundwise,
says, Two-sixty! He steps on
her scales at two-eighty-five.
She pats his backside under his belt
which is under a generous roll
of fat, says, You musta' been hidin'
somethin' there on me, honey!
Pick a prize, any prize.
He touches
his thinning hair, chooses
the battered red and white beer hat
from among her ashtrays and embarrassed
lavender snakes, then walks away,
through the dusty music of calliope,
taller, twenty-five pounds lighter.

"Pick A Prize" by Jill Breckenridge, from The Gravity of Flesh. © Nodin Press

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Astoundingly, this man who was declared dead on an operating table following open heart surgery in May 2005, picked up his ukelele for the first time on August 26th , 2011 and immediately remembered the intricate chords for Cecilia; Ja- Da, Ja-Da; I love You; Ain't She Sweet; & etc. The battered but proud instrument belonging to the man's father in the 1930s has seen Dix men through thick and thin.

.........It is tuned to MY DOG HAS FLEAS...........
David Dix playing ukelele, Chicago 1960

Not just ANY uke
a Roy Smeck Vita Uke

Denise, now and then

Friday, August 26, 2011

Archives, cont'd: DIE HARD

As we sort through boxes of paper and photos......

a continuing process, now accomplished in comparativeleisure in our dwelling in the old Odd Fellows Hall on South Street, we ran across these two scraps of saved paper.

We've saved a lot of such items over the years, so the winnowing process takes time. We don't want to throw anything away that we might have been well-advised to keep.
The wife and I don't always agree on that.

First, here's a photo of a deserted pick-up run into a ravine of an old farm we once sold on Hy D, Dousman WI. There was a telling DIE HARD battery on the ground.

Shortly after that find, we pulled out a moth-eaten or mouse chewed letter to the Freeman editor from 1994. The letter's all there and is legible if enlarged.

It may interest some present-day prognosticators on the subject of DOWNTOWN WAUKESHA:


Thursday, August 25, 2011

How could you not love a face like this?

An old friend HAWK MAHONEY and I had breakfast at Dave’s Cafe recently..

We’ve been friends since around 1980. The Mahoneys lived across the street from the Dixes then. In fact, the sewer raccoons made their first appearances to us emerging and exiting via the sewer grate on the Mahoney corner, not ours. We watched the raccoons comings and goings through our window facing the Mahoney's.

We’ve gone on in our lives and have been taken to other addresses, but our friendship is solid and has lasted.

Play Simon and Garfunkel's THE FIGHTER

That personifies Hawk.......

After breakfast we came up to our place and Hawk fixed the handle on the Diving Belle coffee maker for us. See

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More from the archive, Sept. 5, 1998

Stella the chalk dancer

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lower left

Sunrise today
5 AM
Dave's Cafe
open as usual

I go by a field where once
I cultivated a few poor crops.
It is now covered with young trees,
for the forest that belongs here
has come back and reclaimed its own.
And I think of all the effort
I have wasted and all the time,
and of how much joy I took
in that failed work and how much
it taught me. For in so failing
I learned something of my place,
something of myself, and now
I welcome back the trees.

"IX." by Wendell Berry, from Leavings. © Counterpoint Press, 2010

Monday, August 22, 2011

A rat I am; Feb. 28, 1936

The Rat

(got this 'on line')The Rat
Being born a Rat is nothing to be ashamed of. In China, the Rat is respected and considered a courageous, enterprising person. It is deemed an honor to be born in the Year of the Rat and it is considered a privilege to be associated with a Rat. Rats know exactly where to find solutions and can take care of themselves and others without problems. They use their instinctive sense of observation to help others in times of need and are among the most fit of all the Animal signs to survive most any situation.

Years of the Rat
First in the cycle, Rat Years begin the sequence and recur every twelfth year. The Chinese New Year does not fall on a specific date, so it is essential to check the calendar to find the exact date on which each Rat year actually begins.

The Sign of the Rat
Being born under this sign determines many talents, as well as other characteristics that may not be so commendable. Rats are very lively and need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. They can be calm and perceptive, but sometimes their brains can cause a mental restlessness, tempting them to take on too much, only to discover they are unable to meet their commitments. Rats are blessed with one of the best intellects going. Add to their intelligence a curiosity and a bright imagination, and they seem as sharp as a needle.

The sign of the Rat is the first sign in the cycle giving Rat people exude great leadership qualities and are good at taking the lead. They don't mind a lot of responsibility and they demonstrate a strong presence that other people respect. For those with the Rat nature, status and monetary satisfaction are the greatest motivation.

People born in the Year of the Rat share certain characteristics. The Rat sign is an abbreviated way of characterizing that individual's personality. Following are features associated with the sign of the Rat. First in order, Chinese name-SHU, sign of charm
Hour-11pm-12:59am Month-December
Western Counterpart-Sagittarius

Smart, Magnetic, Well-liked, Affable, Quick-witted, Surreptitious, Selfish, Protective, Calculating


The characteristics of the Rat Sign are tempered by one of the five Chinese elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth overlaying a 5-year cycle of characteristics on the original 12-year cycle.

Of all the Rats, these are the toughest and most resolute. They are visionary and possess an emotional intensity that can lead to feelings of rage, envy, or possessiveness. They like to be in charge, and can act selfishly to get what they want. In relationships, business or personal, they can be obstinate. Metal rats have to bear in mind that meeting their partner halfway would help their relationships tremendously. They take great pride in their homes and enjoy decorating them in their impressively good taste.

Being guided by the Water element means these Rats have a knack for influencing people. With their strong intellectual powers and great insight, they are also great puzzle solvers. They are quick to understand others and are incredibly practical people. Rats apply their talents to their everyday lives, making them obliging, generous and compassionate to other people. Generally, they are liked and respected by everyone. Like all Rats, however, they can be determined to seek their own gain, and will not mind using these talents to achieve it - though generally without losing anyone's respect in doing so.

THE WOOD RAT 1924 AND 1984

Despite having a remarkable facade of self-confidence, deep down, Wood Rats are the least sure of themselves compared to other Rats. However, they wouldn't dream of showing this side of themselves to anyone. Only close companions of a Wood Rat would ever suspect that he or she had such self-doubt. In fact Wood Rats are often worried about downfall, despite their ability to find success. Well-liked, proficient, and good leaders at work, Wood Rats seem to function best when they are surrounded by family and friends. Cordial and delicate, they are usually well loved by family, friends and peers.

THE FIRE RAT 1936 AND 1996

Fire adds a bit of spontaneity and vigor to the already spirited Rat. These Rats like change and travel and are eager to start new projects or to take trips to exotic places. Fire Rats are likely to change their occupations and residences more often than most, and essentially shun any kind of routine. They can be anxious and impulsive, but their zest for life is quite irresistible, and they have the Rat's ability to along so well with others. Compared to other Rats, Fire Rats are likely to be more charitable, autonomous, and energetic and the least self-controlled.


The Earth adds solidity to the Rat's personality. An Earth Rat is conventional and a good achiever who likes to establish roots early in order to make a secure future for himself and his family. These Rats have the typical Rat ingenuity and mental capacity, but a strong sense of reality often alludes them preventing them from going after anything that could be impromptu. Earth Rats are honorable and love to be stabilized. Slowly and steadily acquiring wealth gives them a sense of inner peace. Although they are capable of being stingy with their finances, they do possess warm feelings for their family and friends.

Health and home
The affect of the sign of the Rat is energetic, and demonstrates enough endurance to fight most any sickness. Yet, all Rats tend to be tense, full of nervous energy, petulant and prone to stress. Rats also harbor a bit of aggression; yet, they are usually able to control it. Yoga would benefit Rats by calming their aggressive natures and helping them manage stress.


Rats make good homemakers who are always willing to do household chores. Rats are not usually interested in keeping up with the times, and it doesn't matter to them whether or not their furnishings are in style. What does matter is that their home is a refuge expressing warmth, comfort and vogue. Light blue is their color of choice for home decor. Because this is a sign of acquisition, the Rat person's house is presumably bursting with various knick-knacks collected over the years. Most Rats are cheerful, domesticated individuals who find happiness at home with their family.

Career and finance
The Chinese say others should always listen to the advice of the Rat. Because of their intellect and observatory powers, Rat people possess prudence and perception. They can anticipate problems, and are always able to see the big picture. They can hone in on issues at hand and make measurable judgments. These skills, combined with their sense of aspiration also make them clever operators. Status, money, title, and recognition are important to the Rat. They have keen senses of observation that allow them to foresee upcoming business opportunities as well as potential occupational problems. The Rat makes a better boss than an employee and, although motivated, they can be pinned down by routines. Rats work better in flexible situations where they can be freely creative.

Cunning and thrifty, Rats have a knack with money and are apt to save for rainy days. When capable, the Rat is a great money saver, and in strapped times he knows how to make something out of nothing or how to turn make things advantageous for himself. Although few Rats suffer financially, the Chinese have a proverb: They who pile up grain hoards have much to lose.

Those born in the Year of the Rat also share the same kinds of goals and objectives in life. The occupations best suited for the Rat are listed below:

Writers, Broadcasters, Actors, Advisors, Counselors, Lawyers, Politicians, Designers, Engineers, Managers, Directors, Administrators, Entrepreneurs, Musicians, Stand-up Comedians, Researchers, Historians, Race Car Drivers

Whether Rats are compatible with their business partners depends on whether their signs are harmonious or antagonistic to those of their partners. Considering the congruity of their own characters and the characters of their business colleagues can also be very useful.

Rats Ruled ByBenefit FromAre Antagonistic to
MetalEarth DragonsFire Sheep
WaterMetal RabbitsEarth Horses
WoodWater MonkeysMetal Snakes
FireWood OxenWater Rats
EarthFire PigsWood Roosters
Leisurely activities and pleasures
Since Rats are born under the same Animal sign, they often share likes and dislikes. Following are similar likes and dislikes of the Rats personality:
Rats Like:
Color Preference: Light-Blue
Gems and Stones: Diamond, Amethyst, Garnet
Suitable Gifts: car accessories, art books, gym memberships, geographical maps
Hobbies and Pastimes: Interior design, playing basketball, crafts, painting
Rats' Dislike: Doing without things they want, strict time keeping, any routines, being at the end of the line

Travel delights the Rat personality and ignites his curiosity. Sunbathing is not the ideal way for a Rat to spend his vacation. Rats are adventurers. They want to explore, examine, visit and party during their time off. They want to try new foods, find new sights and experience the culture of the area they are visiting. And, of course, if they can come home with an exotic souvenir to add to their collection their vacation will have been an instant success.

Generally friendly and sociable, the Rat is one of the extroverts of the Animal Zodiac. Often, the Rat is lively and genial, and has a special gift for easing the minds of others. It is not surprising that Rats have a lot of friends. They are great speakers and intriguing conversationalists, and can generally find something to say on just about any topic or subject. Of course, there is always that renowned Rat lure that allows them to charm the pants off of people! To the people they love, Rats can be amazingly charitable, popular and supportive, and will go out of their way to be certain their loved ones are content. On the other hand, if the Rat does not like someone, he is considered fair game and can be used to achieve any and all of the Rat's desires. At the end of the day, though, the Rat is a loyal friend and will be there for his companions through thick and thin.

Compatible Friends: Dragons and Monkeys
Mortal Enemy: Horses

Rat parents are dedicated to their children. They encompass their little ones with love and attention and enjoy watching their offspring grow and experience the world. When their children are small they brood a great deal over them. Rats become concerned if their babies don't develop as quickly as other children. They anguish over whether or not they are raising their youngsters correctly. With the mental capacity to pick things up easily, Rats tend to get agitated with people who are not quite as quick-witted as they are. No wonder this trait could lead to conflict between Rat parents and their children should any of their children be late bloomers or harbor learning disabilities. Overall, Rats are indulgent parents who don't like denying their youngsters of things they want, and the children soon learn how to wrap their parents around their little fingers.

Rat babies love to be loved and cuddled. When they are young, Rat babies tend to depend tremendously on their parents, but later in life they develop natural leadership qualities. During their baby years, Rats mature slowly, but gain momentum as they become toddlers. Eventually, they begin to exhibit active mentalities, so, in the early years, plenty of sleep is necessary. In school, the young Rats are eager to learn. It is then, too, that Rats begin collecting things, and like to fill their bedrooms with pebbles, shells and keepsakes of every kind. Generally, young Rats are smart little people who are artistic and literary students. They are well-rounded and many of them do well in sports, too. Being born in the first sign of the Chinese horoscope motivates these children to be pioneers and gives them a need to be first in line.

Some parents click immediately with their children and others find they will never have a close relationship no matter how hard they try to make it happen. Following are the compatibility ratings between Rat parents and their children.

Lovers and partners

Rats are beautiful people with magnetic personalities. The Rat himself can't help but notice the admiration he receives from others. If the Chinese say there are few poor Rats, there are an even fewer number who are not sexually stimulating- especially as young people. Rat people are romantic, and are always happier to have someone to share with.

One of the Rat's greatest assets is his charm. Rats can melt hearts with their smiles. Add that to their coquettish personalities and you can easily see how they conquer the hearts of others. And, since Rats love to go out, they have plenty of chances to meet potential suitors or future partners. An annoying quirk of some Rats is they have a difficult time severing ties with former lovers. Obviously, this can pose potential conflicts for the Rat and his new lover and can even endanger his ability to develop new relationships. When the Rat finally settles down with Mr. or Ms. Right, he will find a sincere satisfaction in the intimacy of the partnership.

Although Rats like to be in the driver's seat, they do need partners who can keep up with their active lifestyles. Chinese horoscopes are very specific about which partnerships have the potential to be successful in love and in business. Yet, though destiny can point us in the right direction, we must still make efforts to maintain loving relationships. Following is a brief description of how a Rat will affect a relationship with other Animal signs.

This is a prosperous partnership, especially in a business atmosphere. These two are bound to compete!
Very sexually enticing, yet likely to fail at marriage.
Potential for great companionship, but you will have some major disputes.
Rats think Rabbits are boring. Rabbits love to be out and about. You will only frustrate each other.
A solid, caring partnership. You value each other and get along very well.
Work on your differences and you could learn something form each other.
Don't even think about it.
If you both try hard and make great efforts, you will survive.
You share similar goals and will make a great match.
It's just not worth it…there are too many conflicts.
Rats think Dogs are tiresome, but you have the potential to be a good match for each other.
Uphill, downhill, uphill…you love each other intensely, but keep an eye on your checkbooks!

These are secure, bold, go-getting people who cannot pass on a challenge. Approachable and captivating, Aries Rats can also be short-tempered and touchy, especially with those who can't keep up.

Doubly affable, Libran Rats are smooth operators. These people are elegant and cultured. They are drawn to artistic pleasures such as music and theater. Pleasant to be around, Libran Rats excel in advertising and PR.

Taurean Rats are intimidating people. Their sharp minds never skip a beat and they don't lose sight of their goals. Conventional deep down, making money is their motivating factor.

Scorpio Rats are the strong, emotional types. Few would suspect quite sensitive these Rats are. They have an intense aura that allows them to channel their energies.

Gemini Rats are blessed with the gift of the conversation. They are articulate and keen. Easily bored, Gemini Rats thrive on variety, and are happiest with their hands in many things. They do tend to take a long time to make decisions and once they so, to change their minds a few times.

Sagittarian Rats sail through life and couple wisdom with perceptive. They can spot an opportunity a mile away, and are quick to act on it. Generally, these Rats are lucky but they have itchy feet.

Cancerian Rats like to be individuals and to stand out. Material things are important to them, but what they value their family more than anything else.

Industrial and tenacious, Capricorn Rats are profoundly enterprising and make substantial progress in their occupations. These people expect their dedication to be rewarded. They may not be that sentimental, but they are loyal and honest.

The Leonine Rat is a mystical personality, dynamic and responsive. In addition to enthusiasm, high ethical standards and wise decision-making guarantee this Rat will be successful.

A bit unorthodox, these Rats are impulsive and outgoing. They are community-minded and more selfless than other Rats. Aquarian Rats are determined to work hard in order to better mankind.

With gifts for research and experimentation and an eye for detail, these Rats have the capability to make small assessments. The hard-working Virgo Rat will find fulfillment in any job where intense investigation is necessary. There is something naive about them that attracts quieter, frailer people as their partners.

This Rat is delicate and incisive, and does well as a consultant or a counselor. Piscean Rats are creative, but tend to lack the confidence necessary and thus feel a need to be part of a team.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Will try to cut you

In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerel

by Stanley Plumly

Pickerel have infinite, small bones, and skins
of glass and black ground glass, and though small for pike
are no less wall-eyed and their eyes like bone.
Are fierce for their size, and when they flare
at the surface resemble drowning birds,
the wing-slick panic of birds, but in those
seconds out of water on the line,
when their color changes and they choose for life,
will try to cut you and take part of your hand
back with them. And yet they open like hands,
the sweet white meat more delicate in oil,
to be eaten off the fire when the sun
is level with the lake, the wind calm,
the air ice-blue, blue-black, and flecked with rain.


Also see

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Great greenish colour

Ah, copper, patinaed, old copper
Above is a close-up of a downspout joint from old Friedens UCC church at 13th and Juneau, Milwaukee.
Back in the 80s we were ripped off by vandals/salvagers who struck in the night.
When the congregation, by then greatly dwindled, saw the vestiges of the theft of the ancient copper downspouts, they were dismayed. But it was just another symptom of the deteriorated neighborhood. Had not the boiler already blown? Did we not heat a confined space in the cavernous sanctuary with a jet-shaped gasoline blower for Sunday services? And etc?

By that time, lack of funds prevented any repairs.

Down-hearted, I picked up a copper downspout piece that the burglars had overlooked in the bushes. I have kept the heavy thing ever since, as a memento of Friedens as it once to us, and more significantly, to the early worshipers.



Milwaukee County

Jim Stingl | In My Opinion

  • Share

Bold copper bandits strike homes by day

"I awoke this morning to find three teens stealing the copper downspouts from my house."

So begins an email I received Friday from Gretchen Farrar-Foley, a Milwaukee schoolteacher and a high school classmate of mine from a few years - OK, decades - ago.

The thieves were bold or stupid enough to be operating in the daylight around 6 a.m. Farrar-Foley could see them right outside her window. These greenish copper tubes along the front and side of her Lake Drive house are original to the 1924 structure.

"I yelled, 'What the hell are you doing with my downspouts?' "

The answer is that they were trying to turn them into cash. Scrap dealers are paying top dollar for copper and other metals these days - about $3 a pound for a copper downspout.

With her downspouts in hand, the bandits ran across the street and through a neighbor's yard. Another neighbor had spotted the teens earlier and thought they looked suspicious, so he called police.

Officers responded quickly and intercepted two of the thieves as they returned to a car, which had a trunk full of crumpled up copper downspouts. The third guy got away.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele was another victim of the copper capers last week, losing downspouts from his east side property. In the course of two days, 14 homes on the east side and Washington Heights were hit, said Milwaukee police Capt. Carianne Yerkes, who is with the department's neighborhood policing bureau.

The suburbs also have been hit. Hales Corners Lutheran School lost $650 worth of copper downspouts earlier this month. Homes have been stripped this summer in Shorewood, Whitefish Bay and Wauwatosa, according to crime logs.

"Ever since the economy took a dive, the price of scrap metal - all scrap metal - just has skyrocketed," Yerkes said, which is why lowlifes have been taking brass vases from cemeteries, and crooks have been showing up at scrap yards with stolen cars hoping to collect their salvage value. Police have cracked down on both, and Milwaukee police fortified its scrap-busters unit.

"Unfortunately, when people have things in their yard that are of value, it's so easy to walk in, take it and walk away. It's a crime of opportunity that happens in a second," Yerkes said.

The two dudes who were arrested had already made about $700. One is 22 years old, and the other is 20. Both have previous felony and misdemeanor convictions, according to online court records. The district attorney's office is reviewing the new arrests for charges.

One recycling firm in town told me the law requires it to check the ID of anyone bringing in valuable metals, including copper. They have to sign something saying they own the materials, and the transaction is recorded on video. The company owner said he preferred not to be named in an article about theft.

Farrar-Foley got the downspouts back, but they were too crumpled and bent to reinstall. Her rough estimate to replace them is around $2,500. Some of her neighbors have been taking steps to make sure their downspouts are secured to the house.

Until now, Farrar-Foley hardly gave a second thought to the downspouts on her home.

"I never thought of them to be a theft target," she said, especially during the day while she was home. "It's just insane to me."

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or email at

If I took this piece of copper into a salvage yard, they would probably capture my image on hidden camera for a later arrest.

But no matter,
for it is
NOT For Sale.