Saturday, March 30, 2013

Annual Palm Sunday rooster ride; Tyson, John; Devil in box; Croatian Slivovitz

For many years
this rooster of ours has been let out on Palm Sunday
to illustrate as a visual for the Sunday School children
how Peter would deny Jesus three times
before the rooster crowed.

The 1st Congregational UCC church is where Dee,
the superintendent, is headed in these photos,
to once again lead the children of her charge
in a choice bit of theology........

The rooster in question belongs to us and lives 364 days
out of the year at the Odd Fellows hall, Unit 311.

That's a lot of time between crow opps, but rules are rules
and the occupants of the Odd Fellows are honor bound to
maintain reasonable and considerate silence.

The well-behaved rooster sees that it is dawn outside
through the window next to the elevator
but......he holds his tongue.

Even when finally outside, this performing rooster
born of the boards, the work of a tinsmith, and a close resident neighbor
of the Waukesha Civic Theater, bides his time.

Finally as Dee makes her way to the nearby church
on foot per her custom
- the steeple stands under the gold arrow in this picture -
I think I hear our once-a-year Palm Sunday rooster
softly clearing his throat.

John Tyson and Wis Guthrie at Carroll College
Many years - we say again - before Dee came to Wisconsin
from Maryland I had a friend, now deceased,
named John Tyson, who was an art professor
at Carroll College. It was not university then.

John and I were fans of Jose Feliciano.
We liked, really grooved on his singing of Little Red Rooster.
I bought that now ecclesiastic rooster bird featured above
in memory of John and that song.
John has been written up in the raccoon previously.

(select '10 - 23' cut)

KD stands sentinel next to a 1970s John Tyson pot

Tyson's bone-site at Pairie Home Cemetery.  I visit it.
Devil in a box

People who know the olde sewer raccoon
know he has a split nature, has been
capable of doing both some interesting things
and some serious bad things, too.

But now to ward off those latter occurrences
he keeps a Mexican devilish figure in papier mache,
and a pentagram, actually a Xmas ornament,
in a locked glass cage out in plain sight
at the Odd Fellows
to serve as a reminder to just engage
the better things
on this latter lap of life.

It goes with Easter, too.

Easter or Passover pick-me-up

Just in time for the Easter we celebrate
but it is also kosher, we note
a fresh jug of Croatian plum brandy
sits undisturbed here at the Odd Fellows.

In 2006 after our recuperation from
the many pitfalls of open-heart surgery
like forgetting how to walk 
and how to use silverware, etc.
we revisited unimpaired The Three Brothers
restaurant in Bayview.

Branco, on seeing us enter
after our long absence, said
Meester Dick, you cum bek!"
An embrace followed.
He then poured us two cordials
of a powerful liquor from
his homeland:  SLIVOVITZ!

He too had survived a health bout.
It was bracing, fist-pounding!
50 % alcohol via double distillation.
I'd not had it before.

We pretty much have this bottle
For Emergency Use Only
or extremely special toasts.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

St. Patrick Chinese corned beef fried rice; Eva Cassidy; Einstein; W. Guthrie; A. Guthrie

A gargoyle on the roofline at the Washington National Cathedral, Georgetown

[Reception enhanced by magnifying to 150%]


While some may have been recklessly swilling green beer,
the transient Odd Fellows sewer raccoons 
were dining on Golden Gate's Chinese corned beef rice
 under the auspices of the grinning oriental entrepreneur
 ~ gotta get into the act ~
who sported a wide silken green bow-tie with green sequins.

This was a magnificent rice, the sumptuous dish highlighted
 with bits of cleaved red corned beef.
And as usual, there was a vast quantity taken home to be
michael-waved for the next day's lunch, pictured above.
(Reasonable; voluminous!)

It made St. Patrick's this year!
A little regularly-ambered Irish Harp beer as enhancement.


The interesting thing about this song
is that Eva Cassidy knew she was dying
when it was recorded.
She does not look tip-top
but her lovely voice was there, nevertheless.
"May we, like her, show affirming flame." [para: W.H. Auden]

We discovered her when visiting an art gallery in Berea KY in the mid-90's
The background music was of Eva C.  We asked who she was......


From Shay Harris's Facebook
Ref:  Shut down Rush Limaugh


Artist Wis Guthrie
retired chair of the Carroll Art Department
recently celebrated his 95th birthday with a small
gathering at Shattuck Hall, Carroll College (University).
Here he sits as a proud father  at the back of the recital room while
his son Gerry demonstrates his latest imaginative animation projected
on a screen.  Wis's other two sons, Lee and Jim, were present.

Wis was announced as a selected artist for the second Waukesha
Guitartown on 3/18/13.  He and the Guthrie team will again
surprise and delight Waukesha art-lovers with 
another fanciful interpretation of a Les Paul guitar.

This was last year's showing, taken from our Odd Fellows windows.  Wis and son Jim are at the right of their guitar:



I can't help falling in love with you

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Me and my partner: Best drum battle; Canasta; Cat No-No; Love love love

Best if enlarged to 150%


We've been keeping watch over the city
by day and night for a week
while the 3rd of this arrangement
is gone.

The woman who herself got us this cat 
- hunted this huntress to talk to -
the 3rd of this partnership
has been in Pleasant Valley Maryland
keeping watch over her ill dad

but she left me this silver bullet
as a talis- (purr-wo!) 
 man to feed and tell joys and troubles to.

This morning KD Cat waited patiently
on cushions near slippers
for an awakening. Once she jumped
cat-like on the bed and gently nosed this face.

I stretched in the too
 empty bed and arose at 5:45 AM.
This well-behaved  creature
- my other partner -
came to life and scampered down the
long Odd Fellows hall to the
great room with the tall windows

where she does her Mourning Dove
and Squab-vigiling,
then ran back top speed
to me pulling on pants.
Her thing.

The 3rd of this arrangement
comes back tomorrow
and we will be complete.

She'll be back buying her morning carry-out
container of Steaming Cuppa and
returning to the Odd fellows 
like she always does, soon.



This video came to us from Doug James of Bearsville, NY near Woodstock
 brother of our late 1956 college friend, David James.
He was known here as The Immortal Babes.
Check the Raccoon archives for him by name.
David James.  David Farragut James, originally from Fox Point WI.

Doug, though, was the drummer (understatement); 
David was on piano, banjo and orgamonica.
The Babes played by ear, with feeling.
He once sent us a turquoise cabochon from Arizona
with an abstract raccoon within it, a natural composition.



My Old Aunts Play Canasta in a Snow Storm

I ride along in the backseat; the aunt who can drive
picks up each sister at her door, keeps the Pontiac
chugging in each driveway while one or the other
slips into her overshoes and steps out,
closing her door with a click, the wind

lifting the fringe of her white cotton scarf
as she comes down the sidewalk, still pulling on her
new polyester Christmas-stocking mittens.
We have no business to be out in such a storm,
she says, no business at all.

The wind takes her voice and swirls it
like snow across the windshield.
We're on to the next house, the next aunt,
the heater blowing to beat the band.

At the last house, we play canasta,
the deuces wild even as they were in childhood,
the wind blowing through the empty apple trees,
through the shadows of bumper crops. The cards

line up under my aunts' finger bones; eights and nines and aces
straggle and fall into place like well-behaved children.
My aunts shuffle and meld; they laugh like banshees,
as they did in that other kitchen in the 30'sthat
day Margaret draped a dishtowel over her face
to answer the door. We put her up to it, they say,
laughing; we pushed her. The man—whoever he was—
drove off in a huff while they laughed 'til they hiccupped,

laughing still—I'm one of the girls laughing him down the sidewalk
and into his car, we're rascals sure as farmyard dogs,
we're wild card-players; the snow thickens,
the coffee boils and perks, the wind is a red trey
because, as one or the other says,

We are getting up there in the years; we'll
have to quit sometime. But today,
deal, sister, deal.

"My Old Aunts Play Canasta in a Snow Storm" by Marjorie Saiser, from Lost in Seward County. © The Backwaters Press, 2001


Cat No-No

Attitude adjustment needed
(see downtown Waukesha)

Lee and Erin
A found old valentine

Where are those seagulls now?
(Lee wore beach-shed gull feathers stuck in his cap)

NOTE: Thumbs-up, everywhere!
It's going to happen! S/ His Transciency, ASR

As a postscript:

See the boy above with his thumbs-up signal?
Well, for those who are interested in what he's doing
now with that thumb,
watch this. 
This is our son.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Raccoons must eat; Everything ends; A bear is saved; Potatoes must thwock; Elephants too must eat; Paul Kaske's hand; Etc.

NOTE:  It is always advisable to enlarge your screen to 150%




Everything Ends

Within too close of a span of time
I lost my aunt, and uncle
And father, and mother;

Today I telephoned for a reservation
At the Wheeling Inn
 Where I like to stay on my upcoming annual drive
To the Maryland farm of my in-laws;

I like to stay there because it’s at the foot
Of the United States’ oldest suspension bridge;  
A swinging bridge, though made of steel and heavy cables,
Still, Civil War soldiers brought it down with just their boots
And their legioned in-step marching;

It fell for the first time;  there were two other collapses
Until engineers got it right.

In the morning, rested, before continuing
The eastward drive over the Alleghenies
Into Maryland I like to walk softly
Across that swaying bridge sequestered in tons of concrete
Outside the door and under the Wheeling Inn,

Across it to Wheeling Island
In the middle of the Ohio River
Where I continue walking the mid-river turf
Looking at and photographing mansions
From another era, when the economy boomed;

Now for years it’s been a region of depression
But the residents are cheerful, and striving
To rehabilitate some of the structures
And year by year I monitor progress and further erosion,

And even shoot pictures of their cats
In the alleyways paved with brick,
And of high water marks scrawled
On the outside of their community building,
Of old churches and sidewalk bricks dislodged

 By the roots of giant trees
Well-watered by their constant source;
Always in the hour of dawn I wander
And wave at, sometimes chat with bath-robed
Early risers on porches; some recognize me;

They're drinking their coffee, or watering their honeysuckle
And bougainvillea in the muggy river atmosphere;

But everything ends; 

I found today on the telephone with the Chamber of Commerce
That the Wheeling Inn died, is boarded up, a victim of
The poor economy;  it was getting seedy at the edges,

Yes, and I guess too sparsely used,
But I will miss it. 

One year Dad and I stood
On the fifth floor balcony staring up the Ohio
And I stepped back and took his picture,
 Which I still have,
A coal barge below, full, in it's unstoppable momentum
Floating gracefully by;

 I will stay at another place east on Route 70
And it won’t be the same;
Ancient bridge anchors won’t be set under that hotel;
I won’t feel the vibrations of night traffic
On the bridge in my bed, they won't be there;

 I’ll get my bridge walk in
By driving back to the vacant Wheeling Inn
From that place so down the road and into the foothills
Yet only point eight miles that it’s disconnected
From the water-treading city of Wheeling;

Another thing ends,
Another subtraction that is unwelcome.

[David Z. Dix 6-16-2004]

Holocaust Survivor's Teddy Bear

Holocaust survivor Stella Knobel's teddy bear on display at the memorial's "Gathering the Fragments" exhibit at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013., Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. When Stella Knobel's family had to flee World War II Poland in 1939, the only thing the 7-year-old girl could take with her was her teddy bear. For the next six years, the stuffed animal never left her side as the family wondered through the Soviet Union, to Iran and finally the Holy Land. "He was like family. He was all I had. He knew all my secrets," the 80-year-old now says with a smile. "I saved him all these years. But I worried what would happen to him when I died." So when she heard about a project launched by Israel's national Holocaust memorial and museum to collect artifacts from aging survivors - before they, and their stories, were lost forever - she reluctantly handed over her beloved bear Misiu - Polish for “Teddy Bear”- so the fading memories of the era could be preserved for others. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

 forget naught

What's that
You're asking,
"What is potato-thwocking?"

It is another art practiced
wherever Waukesha Dixes gather
-one or two - wear their hats
and ingest food gracefully.

The potatoes first of all have to be
prepared and mashed just right, 
as Mother Denise skillfully knows how to do.

Next, a well-rehearsed partaker
takes an imaginary practice swing
with a genetically supple wrist,

then dips the serving spoon into
the whipped mass just so
and deftly flings it at the waiting plate.

The properly mixed and tufted
spoonful will separate downward
with rapidity

and thwock onto the plate;
 yes, a crater forms in the motion
before the diner, who, hungry,

will find this proper white mixture
automatically awaiting a ladle
of good gravy placed within.


Elephant paper
from recycled material

Heart-shaped note paper
and finer stationary is available at Plowshares
on Main Street in downtown Waukesha,
a district of seething and churning shops.
We love the elephant dung recycled papers
sold there from Sri Lanka.


Turtle in the Road

It was the spring before we moved again, a list of what
we must do on the refrigerator, when my daughter
and I found a turtle in the road. He was not gentle
or shy, not properly afraid of the cars that swerved

around his mistake. I thought I might encourage him
towards safety with a stick but each time I touched
his tail he turned fiercely to show me what he thought
of my prodding. He had a raisin head, the legs of

a fat dwarf, the tail of a dinosaur. His shell was a deep
green secret he had kept his whole life. I could not tell
how old he was but his claws suggested years of
reaching. I was afraid to pick him up, afraid of the way

he snapped his jaws, but I wanted to help him return
to the woods which watched him with an ancient
detachment. I felt I understood him because I didn't
want to move either; I was tired of going from one place

to another: the introductions, the goodbyes. I was sick
of getting ready, of unpacking, of mail sent to places
where I used to live. At last I put my stick away
and left him to decide which direction was best.

If I forced him off the road he might return later.
My daughter and I stood awhile, considering him.
He was a traveler from the time of reptiles, a creature
who wore his house like a jacket. I don't know

if he survived his afternoon in the road; I am still
thinking of the way his eyes watched me go.
I can't forget his terrible legs, so determined
to take him somewhere, his tail which pointed
behind him at the dark spaces between the trees.

"Turtle in the Road" by Faith Shearin, from Moving the Piano. © Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011



Paul Kaske's Hand

Recently Paul came into Dady(sic)Oh's restaurant
On a Saturday morning and we exchanged our usual
As he stood at our table absently
Tapping his rugged butcher fingers on the
Napkin folded at my right.

Sit down, I suggested, so he did.
I invited him to retell for Dee the story about the fall
He took in the meat-cutting room of a local supermarket
Where he now works part-time, keeping his hand in.

Paul learned the grocery business
And meat-cutting from his father,
Sturdy grocer from the old Congo,

Kaske's Grocery Store
Used to be up on Grand Avenue
And it is where I and my family and neighbors
All bought our food.

Paul could be a mischievous boy, but kind.
Today I watched his drumming hand gently
Addressing the tabletop.
The Kaske's have been Congregationalists
For years.

Paul was working not long ago in a butchering room
On a floor that was pitched down under the work table
To catch the blood and carry it to a drain.
Somehow he slipped and cracked his head badly
And wound up in he hospital, laid up for a long time.

But now he is back, and is seen sometimes at the Congo
And frequently on Saturday mornings having breakfast
At Dady(sic)Oh's.

(I am now willing to call the good place by it's given though
Erroneous name, instead of what it went by for years, Paul's. 
For a lengthy while it was for me "The Former Paul's".
A downtown Waukesha place, it is now a cheery gallery of 
American flags and good 
Friday night fish.)

A waitress at Dady(sic)Oh's has a great Morton's Salt tattoo on her upper arm.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Please play; Hobo's Lullaby; Shadow dancing; Reindeer Lee takes A Train; Ducking trombone; Overlook; Friends


About 13 years ago we wrote a poetry series
 about a bandit Mexican Robin Hood figure,
named Zepata, based on Vive Zapata,
who rode with a female sidekick, Irena.
She was actually his superior.

We were reminded of Irena when we
received the birthday card from
a dear Sun Prairie WI friend this week.


Saxophonist and band leader James Beckman
fetes us and his FB audience to a rare German shadow dance troupe: