Thursday, May 31, 2012

bearing/baring souls

LAURIE DIX KARI FROM ALASKA, Director of Family Promise homeless shelter in Wasilla, sends this photo this morning.

With Email message:

"On the military base outside Anchorage. Look at those little guys go!"



There was a prayer vigil led by new minister Rev. Brittany Barber
 at the Peace pole in the front yard of the First Congregational UCC,  100 E. Broadway, Waukesha to acknowledge and grieve the shooting death of gas station employee
Nayyer Rana in the overnight hours at the gas station and convenience store next door to the 1838 church.  Rana was a neighbor.

Many congregants gathered at the grassy corner to offer prayers and placed hands full of fresh dirt at the base of the pole recently re-set following construction repairs at the church.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A piece of the puzzle, as UCCer Quinn G. Caldwell has doped it out:

Excerpt from Ezekiel 37:1-14

"The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones...I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude."

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

Here's what the story says: dry bones are not the final state of things.  Death will not win.  Here's what it says: life wins.

Here's what it doesn't say: that they were human bones.  Or that those bones went back together in their original order.  Or that the bodies at the end were the same as the bodies in the beginning.

We tell this story as if it's only about humans, as if we're the only species God loves enough to waste the energy on.  But this is the God that notes the fall of every sparrow, right?  Surely God noted the fall of every pterodactyl.  Surely, God noticed the fate of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis just as fully as he does that of the hominid Homo sapiens.

99% of all the different species that once lived are now extinct.  And yet, the place is full of life.  Why?  Because God does not let extinction win.  The dinosaurs go down to bones and molecules, and the mammals rise up to take their place.  Homo habilis goes extinct, and up rises Homo sapiens.  One very particular Homo sapiens goes down to dust, and rises up the King of Heaven.

Death happens, but so does resurrection.  Extinction happens, but so does evolution.  And if our bones fit together differently when we walk out of the valley than when we walked in, maybe that's not so bad.  I mean, you're better looking than Paranthropus boisei any day.


For evolution, thank you.  For resurrection, thank you.  For not giving me a protruding brow ridge and shallow brain pan, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Amen.

From UCC STILL SPEAKING  Devotional today's date



Dem Bones

Monday, May 28, 2012


Civil War enactors march in parade
 with sweat-stained hats and flintlocks;

man with dog & child breaks out patriotic t-shirt;

cop chats with friends while remaining alert for coming columns;

Princess of something in convertible, waves;

Drum major for high school band marches parade route
mostly backwards, contrary to below......

Boy mayor in traditional uniform
with lots of spotlight 
- blank pavement fore and aft -
rides his temporal wave 
and figuratively shows Waukesha 
the way ahead.
(Cooperative shadow courtesy of the sun.)

Spectators watch for more exciting things.


Spotted from our Odd Fellows window
on Saturday, 5-26-12


by Parker Palmer

"Hospitality means letting the stranger remain a stranger
while offering acceptance nonetheless.
It means honoring the fact that strangers already have
a relationship - rooted in our common humanity -
without having to build one on intimate interpersonal knowledge,
without having to become friends.
It means valuing the strangeness of the stranger
even letting the stranger speak a language
you cannot speak
or, sing a song you cannot join with -
resisting the temptation to reduce the relation to some
lowest common denominator,
since all language and all music
is already human."

- from The Company of Strangers

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Light; Roots; Dead Follicles

for Shay
A branch of our 10 year old geranium
broke off due to hanging over the ledge
at a stressful angle
I snipped it clean with a sharp scissors
and immersed it in clear water
albeit in a magnificent hanging vase
and even though our light is limited
soon there were roots anew, galore
D. Zep 5-26-12


Dawn breaks over the Odd Fellows 5-25-12

In A Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
Or a winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

"In A Dark Time" by Theodore Roethke, from Collected Poems. © Knopf Doubleday, 1961

The YIBAWEan official emblem
admits full light of day
or presides darkly, unilluminated, by night.
It is there when we need it.

We know it is there, just as our auto license plate
has proclaimed and reminded sharers of the road
for many years.

Yes I'm Bald And What Else?

The stained glass emblem in our current window has graced other domiciles.  It was made by the late lamented Dee and Bob Heeschen
of St. Paul MN and presented to us with the gusto of their chosen word, 'HEY'.  I served in the US Army with Bob in Chicago, 1958 -1962.
A recent photo taken in Waukesha shows Bob is still only a Friend of the Bald (FOB).  But a GOOD one!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tasteful rems

Cheesie Reminiscenses

I received from a friend
a very manly brick of Limburger cheese.
I say manly because women usually
don't eat cheese that buzzes
and is as old-aged as mine.

This cube of cheese has an odor
Perhaps best described as that which issues
from long-unwashed underwear hems.
To eat it is to be arrested, overcome.

You cannot eat this cheese
and do anything else as a secondary activity;
your full attention is riveted to the consuming act
as though you're on a wing-walking excursion,

or shaving with an extremely sharp straight razor.
I gaze at this cheese contemplating
burying it in the yard
or eating more.  I decide to eat more.

There is an edible-if-you-dare rind
around this cheese that sweats
when it is exposed to air.  I keep my Limburger
in a tight jar once opened, and

I appreciate that this cheese
continues its critical mass build-up
even when refrigerated and stored thusly;
eating limburger reminds me of
other nasty things I 've done.

Afterwards, no amount
of hand-washing will
remove me
from the consequence of my deed,
but I can assume thoughtful poses
with my fingers near my nose
and secretly re-live it all
in blissful reverie.

[David Zep Dix]


The gourds involved came from an earlier day farmers market stand by the Fox.
A then new species; curious forms.  Life surrounds, wot?


Raccoon editor teaches students the aspects of flowers.
Pistils, stamens, etc.
Waukesha High School 1952
Checkered life begins


Michael Hedges plays his harp guitar.
Amazing depth of tone variables
from mightily plucked open string base notes
in top sound box
to lightly tapped overtones
in the higher range on the standard frets


Monday, May 21, 2012

All nature is but art

An Odd Fellows Breakfast

cooked for the No. 311 occupants this morning,
 the last bit before popping into my mouth
just as it laid - I played it/ate it as it laid -
with the scallion segment resting on top
of the potato, unposed

4 eggs
1/3 cup Parmesan

From farmers market:
1/2 red chili pepper from our big jar, ground in mortar
Dill for visual, snipped into bowl from overhead perch
while bowl held underneath
Scallion, one complete with leaf end 
cut fine with K. Keadle Cut-Co paring knife

From Pick n Save:
two small Russet potatoes
cut up in pieces and boiled for 10 min.
then fried high heat till goldenized

Ahead of time
Whisk eggs, 1/4 C milk milk, parmesan
dill and scallion in a bowl
Then when potatoes ready

pour into skillet over potatoes
reduce heat a notch
Do not over-scramble
What it looks like when scooped
from skillet is important

(serves two)


The house next to the old Jimmy's Grotto
was open house yesterday,
so Dee and I went to take advantage of this rare chance to see the inside 
of the (to me) long-curious dwelling.
Built in 1877, the Volney L. Moore Victorian Italianate brick two story -
with a 3rd level tower (boarded up) is on the market today for only $89.900.

The Realtor, Kim Johnson of Shorewest Realty Co. proves her mettle by undertaking
this difficult sale.  A widely known and respected professional, Kim
is not afraid of a challenge, and this property in its current condition is just that.

The place has been through time and some h**l.  Over the years and in an incarnation as a make-shift rooming house
it has been roughly used, but the sturdy bones of the structure, many/most of them, appear still there.
(Condition subject to professional inspection.  Being sold As Is.)

People who have been in Waukesha for a while remember the original Jimmy's Grotto Italian sausage stand.  Many a time in the 1950s I pulled my Willys Jeepster in front of that friendly little stand next to the Moore house, as did hundreds of others, not just from Waukesha but from far away sometimes.  My distant dad in Wash DC made a point of returning on visits for an historic and good-eating sandwich from Jimmy's.  Mmmmmm! The unique and peculiarly tasty sausage, on a thick juiced roll with steamed green peppers and optional hot pepper seeds!  Dad for years ate those aplenty.  And I still do.

Jimmy Rucci of Jimmy's used to live in the Moore house.  Sometimes he would invite regulars inside the mansion for other Italian delectables.  Originally there was a stable in back.  Now Jimmy's Grotto, still in business with the same recipes including the now-famed Ponzarottas is, under different ownership, right across the street, and has been there a long while.

All is far from lost.

You can see the new Jimmy's through a second floor window of the Moore house.  Deserted Christmas tree lights and dismalities in the lonely house notwithstanding.......

This is the picture from Realtor Kim Johnson's data sheet.  Remuddlers somewhere along the line cut off the arched windows and finished them square. 
If ever there was a home with the word
written on it, this is it.

There are original remaining features like the recessed arch for a wood stove in the wall (top photo). hardwood floors (beaten-up but fixable), newell post, rails and bannisters, arches and ceiling medallions, one unlike any other we've seen:

Ceiling fixture medallion is ill-fitted with a hardware store clip-on glass shade.
This and some other SRN photos taken with a  Lower Crustacean Z221 cell cam, sharp detail lacking 

Brave women

Realtor Kim Johnson stands with Dee explaining more about the Dr. Volney Moore house.
 See it when able!  Look up the history at the research desk at the Waukesha Historical Museum.
Call for app't first.

The Realtor's data link:

This illus. courtesy of John Schoenknecht

Excerpt from "An Essay on Man"

ALL are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That, changed through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent:
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part;
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns
As the rapt Seraphim, that sings and burns:
To him no high, no low, no great, no small—
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all....
All nature is but art, unknown to thee:
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see:
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.

Excerpt from "An Essay on Man" by Alexander Pope. Public domain

Friday, May 18, 2012

Circling above him was a hawk

 Anecdotal Evidence

A friend gave a talk to a women’s church circle yesterday
And I went to hear him;
His subject was his Quaker minister father
And being brought up in rural Iowa and Wisconsin

There were nine children born to this family
and my friend was the middle child
which gave him a perspective of up and down
from the ideal place, sandwiched by six other boys and two girls

When they would go riding in a wagon or a Model A
Sometimes people would stare and silently count
With their fingers, one, two, three, four………
And one of the brothers once leaned out and said,

“There’s NINE of us!”
The parents loved their children greatly;
Times were hard, and struggle to make ends meet
Was a fact of life for the well-knit family

Although the children thought it was just the way life was
Because making do was how everyone else
In their impoverished communities lived too
And their parents did not show much concern;

The father when someone broke a solemn tenet
Sent the child out to cut a switch
And he applied the discipline generously
Which seemed to break his heart

And after awhile it wore on him so hard
That he was doing all this switching
He said to them,
“You ALL go out and cut switches!”

When they came in, puzzled and worried,
The father said, “Now I want you all to
Switch ME!  I must be doing something wrong.”
The children complied, though astounded at this turn;

It was uniquely educational for most of them
To apply the lash to their beloved father
Which may have been behind
The creative idea;

Time went along and he still was unable to
Bring about right behaviour from his tribe;
Naughtiness prevailed, it seemed to him,
Too much, so he called the children to formation;

Forlorn, the tender father, caught
In a parenting vortex,
Looked up after holding his head in his hands
For a long silence, searched his nine children’s faces

And asked them, beseechingly,
 “Something is wrong here, I can’t seem
To get you to be good!  What are we to do?” Whereupon
One little boy said, “We could try whipping you again?”

All those children somehow got college educations
Though the father, who had the gift or oratory,
Only went through eighth grade before having to quit
School and work to support his ailing father’s family

He worked hard at several jobs beside what he got
As a small stipend from his ministry work
And he never complained or let the children
Know how close to the edge he was

My friend in his talk to the church ladies and me yesterday guessed
His father frequently asked the Lord how he was going to make it;
 Anecdotal evidence pointed to that:  One time the father,
Sometimes given to depression, trudged home through the field

Where he’d been farm-handing - he told his son
Much later in life - and he was anguishing how he was to
Be able to keep going, praying for strength, when all of a sudden,

A rabbit fell from the sky at his feet.
The father looked at it incredulously; then gazed
Upward, and there, circling above him,
Was a hawk.

[David Dix 10-9-2002]


A wooden file box made by my father
Leslie V. Dix, in a high school shop class
is a souvenir of him that I retain.

He kept file cards for his debating class in it
but I have modified it somewhat
by affixing a tortoise and a compass on the top

and inside I keep the Official Seal
of the Yibawean Society
an imprint to receive after a job well done.

People are known to keep something
showing The Yibawean Seal;
We really don't know why.


The two Quarters are still there this morning

Hidden beneath the incense burner
holding the swept-up sand of yesterday
the offering to the Buddha 
from the Rev's friend Noy is still there.

And so those funds shall remain, no matter how pressed
we may become for quarters to feed
the coin-operated washing machines
in the second floor laundry room.

Look at that wondrous finish
on the plastic Buddha.
It has the look of ancient stone.
Only the cracked hole beneath the burner

discloses the thinness of the (plastic!) medium.
Years of wintering in the back yard
where we placed bird seed in the summers
caused pools of ice in the dormant months

but the Buddha was a sentinel
sometimes beneath snowdrifts
maintaining its omnipresent
Mona Lisa smile

Thaws came and went.
The cupped-handed lap of the figure, blemished,
perhaps never meant to stand outside,
presented a lovely opportunity

for a follower of that faith,
a woman who has seen nasty things in woodsheds
but who now has found my good ally
and now hers: The Reverend.

She, they, with her children
will be back
and we will go to visit them
and have egg rolls.

If I see a Buddha there
I will leave an offering.

(and that's Native American:  Chief Seattle)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Doing laps

The Rev. Dr. started with three chickens over on Hogsback Road.
When they moved to Oconobank something dispatched two of them
but whatever it was isn't being given the third hen.
Many protective, barricading steps have been taken with the survivor.
A careful watch is on.

This surviving and good-laying chick's name is Hulda, after theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's sister.
Any sister of Reinhold's is a friend of John's, a Niebuhr devotee.

The close circle at the former residence on Hogsback, before fox or weasel-time.
We maintain it wasn't a raccoon.

Hulda recently assisted in turning over the garden.  Those not in the know might say she was looking for grub(s).



The Rev. Leroy Napieralski, non-official cleric but longtime friend sans portfolio, 
brought his new friend 
Noy to meet us last evening.  Noy has been in the US for four years
and hails from her homeland of Laos.

Noy speaks some English and is learning more each day.
The Rev served during the Vietnam war, but he did his service in Alaska.
Still, he is interested in things Asian and the world in general.

Dee and I were watching a movie when the doorbell rang.
It was the Rev and Noy calling from the lobby.  (We'd said, "Bring her over anytime.")

Quiet Noy on entering fell into a mode of exclamatory WOW!s.
A seamstress and beautician, formerly a trained nurse in Laos,
she made appreciative high notes over our various artworks, one by one, 
throughout a tour by Dee of the Odd fellows dwelling. In the upper loft office 
she gleefully held our giant gourds over the ledge for "Leloy" to see.

I like the sound of "Noy" and "Leloy." 

The clock struck 9 PM and Noy
said it was time to get home to her two teenage children.  
She is  divorced  and a single mom.
Leloy has met these children now and likes them
and they like him.
The Rev took Noy to a recent Waukesha Old Car Club 
sock hop.
Who's that dish with Leroy? many smilingly muttered
behind cupped hands.


On departing, Noy observed our Buddha on the front chest by the door.

Noy fell silent, descended to her knees
 and palmed her hands in front of her.
She reached for her purse and removed two coins
and dropped them through a hole in the plastic figure's lap
caused from freezing rain when the effigy was an outdoor
yard ornament a few years ago.

This morning I took the incense burner off the Buddha's lap
to capture the shiny coins inside with my flash camera.

This offering will remain in place.

I went to put the Buddha back on the chest
and in the replacing of the sand-filled incense bowl  
on the Buddha's lap, it escaped my hands
 and sand fell to the floor.

Lacking a dustpan (lost in our move)
I took a cookie sheet and whisked the sand up with ease.

I thought about my position
 on the floor, similar to Noy's.

We're sure we will see them again soon.
Noy asked, "You like egg roll? I cook!"

Noy of Laos attends the Waukesha Buddhist Temple
on Lawnsdale Rd, west of Guthrie Rd. south of 
the city.  Have seen it.  Beautiful.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hold it right there

Z221 at work

An Easter bonnet 

John 1.3

While the City Sleeps

Waukeshans complacently enjoy their town-grown-to-city
with it’s well-policed, clean, safe streets
and the cerulean blue skies overhead;
or when it rains

the rain washing everything anew and flowing
if heavy
away like dirty bathwater down the drain
out of sight, out of mind;  oh yes,

we think of everything and take for granted
that the solid terra-firma plane on which we work and play
 is as storybooked as it appears
and that the sky overhead here is relatively terrorless.

That covers two of the three physical dimensions
but we never think about the seething subterranean world
beneath the city where that dirty bathwater flows
unless we happen to be with the Sanitation Department

and as far as I know, they aren’t talking.
My friends, we co-exist over a nether-world
about which we never think
and the Sewer Raccoons down there - that’s right - 
count on our ignorance.

Their profligacy festers beneath us
growing daily, like whiskers becoming a dread-locked beard
but we don’t know it because we trust in our local government
and in what we see.

The coons, woe to us!  Phantoms of this opera are
just a few feet beneath Waukesha in archen coves and caverns
until nightfall, when every storm grate at every corner
becomes an open doorway into our elysian yards and gardens.

Marauders on velvet paws which they keep licking, masked,
they steal about under cover of nocturnal shadows, late,
when the windows of our proud houses show black.  
It is then the Sewer Coons take over the town;   by day,

These slick creatures have free rein in their underworld,
bartering our garden produce in little shops and bazaars
in their sub-city
where they swarm and reproduce like rabbits crazy.

They have their own school district where all the little coons
Study burglary and ankle-nipping.
So far they are content with their lowly position, hence,
the Sanitation Department, the Mayor and the Aldermen

only monitor them and do not tell us of their
 spreading presence.
 As Amos or Paul Revere, I send this warning
for I live nearer the Fox River in one of the town’s ruder huts
and the Sewer Coons are, though proliferating

concentrated only in our poorer neighborhoods 
at the present time;
by the railroad tracks and the Fox River waterway,
But the storm sewer web is beneath us all, free and accessible
and even now no one is safe!

I have again lately seen the coons 
emerge from the grate at the corner
As has my wife;  we know the desolation
Of having our grapes stolen from our vines;
We’ve actually heard the coons’ little “chick-chick-chick” sounds.

Close-up, we’ve seen the phosphorescent reflection of their eyes
In our flashlight beams; they run, are not brazen yet – oh, no -
carrying little bindles over their hump-ed backs
and make their dash back to their grated holes.

Furred hit-and-run warriors, in place,
waiting for their messiah to come, 
perhaps from Milwaukee or Chicago -
The Really BIG Coon, 
to marshal them into an invading army,
Meanwhile waxing stronger in secret 
on Dix grapes and other sacked left-overs;

And sometimes I think I can hear muffled “tink”s
As they pound on their tiny anvils under the avenue
Making suits of armor on foot-pumped forges; flaring
light seems to flash from the gratings 
after the clock has struck twelve

And I go out and listen at my corner sewer entrance
and hear their Russian-like “YO-OH, HO HO!” chants
echoing softly up from below.

The Sewer Raccoons are coming,
 the Sewer Raccoons are coming.

[D. Zep Dix 9-19-2002]
 OK, here it is 5-16-2012, ten years later
 but they're STILL coming