Monday, April 30, 2012

Mothers Day approaches

for MOM

Here it is
April of 2012
and I have reglued the broken legs
on a wooden box I made for my mother
to decoratively store the hand weights
I gave on mothers day 1995

she passed near mothers day 2004
and I recovered the weight box
from her souvenirs

I made the box to just fit two
three pound weights
and gave it a hula theme
with a spring-wire doll 
from the back window of one of my
high school cars

But in moving into the Odd Fellows
I broke the dolls legs at the shins
and the repair job was delayed
because of the challenge to me
of solving the method of clamping
a bobble doll

This year as mothers day approaches
I went for Gorilla glue and an imperfect
but certain repair
one that would dry quickly

I want to use the weights myself now
and a swift repair
even an untidy one
seemed the way to go
so as not to waste any more
 precious time

The box has a wave motif
that occurred to me as I eyed
the moldings rack at Menards
and a copper scrap from my welding bin
in the garage at 517
was hammered with a chisel
to form the word

Mom is gone now
but sure not forgotten

She who played the organ
for a few years
  at the Congregational church
in the 1940s;
who did a keyboard gig 
at the Braves stadium
back in the day;
who formed a dance band
as a 13 year old in Sun Prairie WI
........& Many Etcs.

Her great-grand-daughter
Ruth Kari of Wasilla Alaska
daily wears her ankle bracelet
given Mom by my dad in 1931.


The 10 Best First Lines in Fiction

(Our Guide to the greatest lines of novel in the English language from Jane Austen to James Joyce—The Guardian)

James Joyce

Ulysses (1922)
“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” This is the classic third-person opening to the 20th-century novel that has shaped modern fiction, pro and anti, for almost a hundred years. As a sentence, it is possibly outdone by the strange and lyrical beginning of Joyce’s final and even more experimental novel, Finnegans Wake: “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice (1813)
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The one everyone knows (and quotes). Parodied, spoofed, and misremembered, Austen’s celebrated zinger remains the archetypal First Line for an archetypal tale. Only Dickens comes close, with the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light etc…”

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre (1847)
“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” The polar opposite to Austen and Dickens, this line plunges the reader into the narrative, but in a low-key tone of disappointed expectations that captures Jane Eyre’s dismal circumstances. Brontë nails Jane’s hopeless prospects in 10 words. At the same time, the reader can hardly resist turning the first page. There’s also the intriguing contrast in tone with her sister Emily, who opens Wuthering Heights with: “I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.”

Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by a Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.” The influence of this opening reverberates throughout the 20th century, and nowhere more so than in JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like… and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

PG Wodehouse

The Luck of the Bodkins (1935)
“Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.” A classic English comic opening, perfectly constructed to deliver the joke in the final phrase, this virtuoso line also illustrates its author’s uncanny ear for the music of English. Contrast the haunting brevity of Daphne du Maurier in Rebecca, partly situated in the south of France, and also published in the 1930s: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. “

Anthony Burgess

Earthly Powers (1980)
“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.” This is one of the supreme show-off first-person openings. Burgess challenges the reader (and himself) to step on to the roller coaster of a very tall tale (loosely based on the life of Somerset Maugham). It is matched by Rose Macaulay’s famous opening to The Towers of Trebizond: “‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.”

Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle (1948)
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” A brilliant beginning to a much-loved English classic, which tells us almost all we need to know about the narrator Cassandra Mortmain. Quirky and high-spirited, Dodie Smith’s novel is really an exercise in nostalgia. Smith (subsequently famous for The Hundred and One Dalmatians) was living in 1940s California, and wrote this story, in a sustained fever of nostalgia, to remind her of home. Perhaps only an English writer could extract so much resonance from that offbeat reference to “the kitchen sink.”

Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (1963)
“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” Postwar American first lines don’t come much more angsty or zeitgeisty than this. Compare Saul Bellow’s Herzog: “If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.” First published under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas”, this first novel seems to parallel Sylvia Plath’s own descent into suicide. In fact, The Bell Jar was published only a month after its author’s tragic death in the bleak winter of 1963h resonance from that offbeat reference to “the kitchen sink.

Donna Tartt

The Secret History (1992)
“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.” In this spooky opening, Tartt plunges the reader into the middle of a crime whose consequences will reverberate throughout the ensuing pages. Like all the best beginnings, the sentence also tells us something about the narrator, Richard Papen. He’s the outsider in a group of worldly students at Hampden College in rural Vermont. He was expecting a break from his bland suburban Californian life, but he doesn’t quite understand what he’s got himself into.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island (1883)
“Squire Trelawnay, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17– and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.” Among the most brilliant and enthralling opening lines in the English language.
[from: The Guardian The Observer, Robert McCrum, Saturday, April 28, 2012]
Editor’s Note: I’m sure not everyone would agrees with these ten choices, still it’s a pleasure to entertain them, recall some of these first lines or be introduced to others for the very first time. Though I agree most with Joyce’s, Ulysses and Twain’s, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I would add some favorite first lines of mine:

Herman Melville

Moby Dick (1851)
“Call me Ishmael.”

Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
“He was an old man who fished alone in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita (1995)
“Light of my life, fire of my loins.”

Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man (1952)
“I am an invisible man.”

Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
From Norb Blei 
Ellison Bay, WI

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Up, up, and a-w-a-a-yyyyyy!


We Are All Nuns

CATHOLIC nuns are not the prissy traditionalists of caricature. No, nuns rock!
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof

On the Ground

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They were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.’s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs. As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.’s.
They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world. In my travels, I’ve seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits. Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.
So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is: You are crazy to mess with nuns.
The Vatican issued a stinging reprimand of American nuns this month and ordered a bishop to oversee a makeover of the organization that represents 80 percent of them. In effect, the Vatican accused the nuns of worrying too much about the poor and not enough about abortion and gay marriage.
What Bible did that come from? Jesus in the Gospels repeatedly talks about poverty and social justice, yet never explicitly mentions either abortion or homosexuality. If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus’s life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it’s the nun hands down.
Since the papal crackdown on nuns, they have received an outpouring of support. “Nuns were approached by Catholics at Sunday liturgies across the country with a simple question: ‘What can we do to help?’ ” The National Catholic Reporter recounted. It cited one parish where a declaration of support for nuns from the pulpit drew loud applause, and another that was filled with shouts like, “You go, girl!”
At least four petition drives are under way to support the nuns. One on has gathered 15,000 signatures. The headline for this column comes from an essay by Mary E. Hunt, a Catholic theologian who is developing a proposal for Catholics to redirect some contributions from local parishes to nuns.
“How dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world?” Hunt wrote. “How dare the very men who preside over a church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious?”
Sister Joan Chittister, a prominent Benedictine nun, said she had worried at first that nuns spend so much time with the poor that they would have no allies. She added that the flood of support had left her breathless.
“It’s stunningly wonderful,” she said. “You see generations of laypeople who know where the sisters are — in the streets, in the soup kitchens, anywhere where there’s pain. They’re with the dying, with the sick, and people know it.”
Sister Joan spoke to me from a ghetto in Erie, Pa., where her order of 120 nuns runs a soup kitchen, a huge food pantry, an afterschool program, and one of the largest education programs for the unemployed in the state.
I have a soft spot for nuns because I’ve seen firsthand that they sacrifice ego, safety and comfort to serve some of the neediest people on earth. Remember the “Kony 2012” video that was an Internet hit earlier this year, about an African warlord named Joseph Kony? One of the few heroes in the long Kony debacle was a Comboni nun, Sister Rachele Fassera.
In 1996, Kony’s army attacked a Ugandan girls’ school and kidnapped 139 students. Sister Rachele hiked through the jungle in pursuit of the kidnappers — some of the most menacing men imaginable, notorious for raping and torturing their victims to death. Eventually, she caught up with the 200 gunmen and demanded that they release the girls. Somehow, she browbeat the warlord in charge into releasing the great majority of the girls.
I’m betting on the nuns to win this one as well. After all, the sisters may be saintly, but they’re also crafty. Elias Chacour, a prominent Palestinian archbishop in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, recounts in a memoir that he once asked a convent if it could supply two nuns for a community literacy project. The mother superior said she would have to check with her bishop.
“The bishop was very clear in his refusal to allow two nuns,” the mother superior told him later. “I cannot disobey him in that.” She added: “I will send you three nuns!”
Nuns have triumphed over an errant hierarchy before. In the 19th century, the Catholic Church excommunicated an Australian nun named Mary MacKillop after her order exposed a pedophile priest. Sister Mary was eventually invited back to the church and became renowned for her work with the poor. In 2010, Pope Benedict canonized her as Australia’s first saint.
“Let us be guided” by Sister Mary’s teachings, the pope declared then.
Amen to that.
I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In the news: Birds in trouble

Patients get to wing it

Antigo - The osprey cradled in Marge Gibson's arms wasn't dumb, but he was very lucky.
He didn't know his perch at a landfill in Marathon County was a methane gas burner. When flames shot up from the burner earlier this month, the osprey was badly burned and most of his feathers were singed, leaving his white wings looking like broken, discarded umbrellas.
Then came the luck.
Close to death, he was taken to the Raptor Education Group Inc. center on the outskirts of Antigo. There, he was tube fed, given fluids and kept in a darkened box to recuperate. He'll be a patient for at least a year until he molts, growing back the feathers burned away, and then released into the wild.
"Poor little guy. He migrated to Central or South America and had just come back to Wisconsin when this happened," said Gibson, holding the osprey's feet as he lay on an examining table.


and, not unrelated, this: 

Oconomowoc School Board
confirms teacher layoffs ('non-renewal')

Our reading of this news in the Waukesha Freeman
suggests a very brave girl testifying on behalf
of her fellow students who do not want to see
their beloved teachers terminated.

We note she is being listened to when the camera clicked
not with high intensity by school board members.
Still, she appears to stand her ground
and reportedly spoke her piece well
without compromising emotion.

(Waukesha Freeman photo)


"Blackbird singing in the dead of night................"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What to wear; always a question

For the Life of Him and Her

For the life of her she couldn't decide what to wear to the
All those clothes in the closet and not a thing to wear.
Nothing to wear, nothing wearable to a party,
Nothing at all in the closet for a girl to wear.

For the life of him he couldn't imagine what she was doing
     up there.
She had been messing around in that closet for at least an
Trying on this, trying on that, trying on all those clothes
     up there,
So that they were already late for the party by at least an

If only he wouldn't stand around down in the hall,
She could get herself dressed for the party, she knew she
     could somehow,
But he made her so nervous, he was so nervous there in the
That she didn't think they would get to the party anyhow.

He didn't want to go to the party anyhow,
And he didn't want to stand and stand in the hall,
But he didn't want to tell her he didn't want to go anyhow.
He just didn't want to, that's all.

"For The Life Of Him And Her" by Reed Whittemore, from The Past, The Future, The Present. © The University of Arkansas Press, 1990.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Gathering inspires verse


In these instances of Dave's cafe 
breakfast gatherings,
so many tales 
of really old Waukesha 
get traded
around the table
by these really old men 
that sometimes
 there isn't enough room inside
for all the stories
 in the popular and sometimes
 crowded restaurant.

Then,  we have to leave some 
outside the door
in well-traveled duffels.

Shown above left to right:  Joe Beringer, David Dix, Walt Lohman, Bob Uchner

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Woman enjoys her cigar on a nice spring day:

A young lady whose name
I didn't ask
was down at the Fox
Riverwalk this afternoon
leisurely smoking a large cigar.
Dee was walking with me
giving me credibility
so I asked this woman if she would mind 
if I took her picture.

In answer to her "Why?"
I said I found her interesting.
I like to walk around down here
looking for curious things,
I said.

Casting a glance at upright
and trustworthy Dee
she said OK, and smiled
facing the river.

She lingered
blowing plumes of smoke 
over the flowing water..

We walked to the other side
and she was still there
smoking her cigar.

This time I took another picture
with the Bryant bronze bears
as my alleged subject.

We walked a little further and 
took a seat on a bench.
She enjoyed her cigar
for another few minutes
and then gathered herself up
and slowly strolled along
 the riverwalk bricks
toward Barstow Street
disappearing in intervening

What made me find that
photo-worthy, I wondered?
Dee, blessed companion,
said naught.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Friday the 13th

A snapshot of a pretty picture in the local sneeze this 


It is understandable that in this right-wing town

an invasion of donkeys would make the front page. 

But only two donkeys?

Odds still favor the elephants.

You can find a study to support any viewpoint, it seems........(Ed. Note)

Conservative Politics, 'Low-Effort' Thinking Linked In New Study

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 9/2012 
Conservatives and liberals don't seem to agree about much, and they might not agree about recent studies linking conservatism to low intelligence and "low-effort" thinking.
As The Huffington Post reported in February, a study published in the journal "Psychological Science" showed that children who score low on intelligence tests gravitate toward socially conservative political views in adulthood--perhaps because conservative ideologies stress "structure and order" that make it easier to understand a complicated world.
And now there's the new study linking conservative ideologies to "low-effort" thinking.
"People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response," the study's lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Dr. Scott Eidelman, said in a written statement released by the university.
Does the finding suggest that conservatives are lazy thinkers?
"Not quite," Dr. Eidelman told The Huffington Post in an email. "Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking."
For the study, a team of psychologists led by Dr. Eidelman asked people about their political viewpoints in a bar and in a laboratory setting.
Bar patrons were asked about social issues before blowing into a Breathalyzer. As it turned out, the political viewpoints of patrons with high blood alcohol levels were more likely to be conservative than were those of patrons whose blood alcohol levels were low.
But it wasn't just the alcohol talking, according to the statement. When the researchers conducted similar interviews in the lab, they found that people who were asked to evaluate political ideas quickly or while distracted were more likely to express conservative viewpoints.
"Keeping people from thinking too much...or just asking them to deliberate or consider information in a cursory manner can impact people's political attitudes, and in a way that consistently promotes political conservatism," Dr. Eidelman said in the email.
The study was published online in the journal "Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin."


Truly indigenous ducks prepare to shoot
the rapids south of the Main Street bridge
yesterday in downtown Waukesha.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Post Easter

Across the street from our Odd Fellows window
this early morning
as the sun illumined the Five Points
at a sharp angle
a flock of gold finches momentarily
the budding trees in front 
of the Clarke Hotel -
with its long-vacant restaurant
and its troubled boutique hotel
above, where the room lights are
rarely lit

and the tax bills pile up
and the operators are not returning
 phone calls just now

The finches are mindless of the 
faltering commerce
they love the trees that spring from
the serious outbreak of cobblestones
through the sidewalk 

they fly not when the fire engines
come past with their horns blaring
on their likely Avalon ambulance calls

the finches only at their will 
flit yon and hither:
now they are here
and now they are not

reminding of the early days of my life
when the Clarke
was Clarke's Walgreen Drugstore
and my grandfather
knew most of the thronging customers
who came in for their medicines

and waited for Haynes to wait on them
he of the white smock
the medicine man who was
only a clerk
but they either did not care
he was without portfolio
in the mortar and pestle department

or regarded him with the respect
they felt due such a gentleman
who could also play the banjo.
A quiet fast-moving man
I watched work as a little boy;

a gentleman
who asked to be excused
and then strode behind the glass
partitions to counsel with the
real chemists
and pick up the parcels
for the trusting customers.

The finches in the trees today
may know this is just
an in-between time for the Clarke
and they do have their business there.

Looking the other way from that window
I see Dee writing a letter
maybe a note for hospitalized Duffy
with whom Dee has discussed the book
in front of her at her left:
a gift from my father Leslie V. Dix
to my mother, Ruth

which Dee may read to Duffy
in her hospital room today
because Duffy thought the book
she once had
was so amusing
and somewhat belittling of women
in those early 1940 years

You, like the finches outside,
had to be there......