Saturday, May 4, 2013

Heaven; Norb Blei, friend; Mel's dump-truck; Ghosts in the attic

Raccoon press room pauses....

(Waukesha WI 4-29-13)  On the top floor of the Odd Fellows building, the Sewer Raccoon News press room takes a break between print runs.  KD cat, press-feline, reposes catching her breath after a morning of near-frantic activity (work), guiding the newsprint through the rollers.

Wait a minute:

There's a new sound downstairs in the gallery. By golly, the editor has flung open the window!  Is this what is meant by....S-p-r-i-n-g?
As we are on break, KD says, I shall fly downstairs to investigate!

Oh, thank you, Mr. Dix!  You have added a new dimension to my life.  I can more clearly hear the noises of the human activity below this way.  It's just like, just like----being there. Heaven, I'm in heaven!

Give it not another thought, Miss Cat, we reply.  Not only are we lifting a barrier to your circumbscribed life by flinging open a window to welcome the sounds, smells and sights of spring, we are giving you a press room laborer raise!  We shall up your Pounce moist chicken Dollar Store treats to three per serving.

Now let's get back to work!


Last week on the heels of receipt of the news that author friend Norb Blei had passed in Ellison Bay WI in a surgery recovery facility near his beloved chicken coop work shop, we intended to include some of the exquisite work he provided to us in the past three years since we've known of him.

Norb regularly send via his blogs the snapshots he took of his Door Co. surroundings.  Above is his chicken coop studio, bathed in green.

A Door Peninsula rainbow;

At work in the coop;

Another coop shot;

Norb lecturing;

Door Co. Zen arrangement photoed by Norb;

Taken off our computer monitor;


This is a post card I got from Norb that he painted in his water color way, a means of communications he maintained with I believe several others, particularly Milwaukeean, Jeff Winke.

I was tussling with the proper arrangement of the words for a short rhyme.  Norb obligingly gave me the best result.

Address side of the card. The stamp he placed on it must have been his advice to me (probably advice he gave to others as well): The important is invisible. (Fr.)

Of all the books of Blei's I own, this one is my favorite:  MEDITATIONS ON A SMALL LAKE.  The essay titles within are as follows:

You can order this paperback from at

[Or write to Norb's delegated press company for this book:  C/O David Pichaske, Editor in Chief
Plains Press
P.O. Box 6
Granite Falls, Minnesota 56241]

The price at Amazon is more than Norb charged, and your book won't have the personal inscription I got:

To my fishing buddies, friends who have sat fishing and talking with me in small boats on the little lakes like Crooked, Wig-Wig, Pembine Wi's Lake Lundgren, Minnie, etc.  This is a recommended book.  (Attn: Norman Rupnow. We could still go......)

See last Saturday's Raccoon for more on Norb.



Congo member Mel Stark and his wife Marge have a great-grandson 2.5 years old.  Mel, the handyman about whom you've read much in the Raccoon, took it upon himself to make a dump truck for the little boy.  And a lucky kid he is.  Mel brought the truck under his arm last Sunday to show some of us during our pre-church confab.  If we'd known he was bringing it we would have brought our better camera.  As it is, the shots in today's Raccoon were taken with our much-touted Lower Crustacean cell phone camera.  They are acceptable photos by our diminished standard.

In the above picture, Mel demonstrated how the truck-bed is lifted by a lever into the dump position, whereupon the tailgate swings open.  Kathy Brunster, Congo-ite, admires Mel's genius as a creator.

Another truck admirer, Wis Guthrie, smiles broadly at Mel's work. The grill of the truck is fashioned from two side-by-side forks, tines vertical; the wheels are fashioned from white PVC pipe sections, the cab is of walnut; a horn powered by a hearing aid battery is activated by a button over the windshield.

Mel points to the horn bell mounted on the truck bottom.

Imagine a 2 year old boy receiving such a treasure.  His date of birth is inscribed on it, too........


Mel made news when he restored the old clock that was in the razed gas station on the East Five Points at Broadway, Lincoln and Hartwell Avenues last year.

One more of the many projects Mel's taken on was straightening the windstorm-crushed weathervane windmill that blew over when illness overcame us in 2005.
That device, which Mel'd originally made the bearings for, now spins on his back fence, as true as ever.



Ghosts in the attic Dep't

In looking through the Raccoon archives for something else
the other day we found a verse dedicated to RADAR, the retriever
owned by Ineke and Don Mitchell, now of Connecticut, but 
formerly of Waukesha.

We mourned Radar's and his sister, cat SPATZ'S demises
as is our wont at the News.

RADAR may be gone but he is not forgotten.  Especially due to the
vast archival savings here at The Raccoon.  I dashed a line to Donaldo
who furnished his own snapshot of RADAR by return Email. 

Dog gone gone dog

Radar spelled backwards
Spells Radar
That’s a palindrome
He was a pal alright
a pal at home and everywhere
a palindrome

Spelled backwards
Was Ztaps
I think she was German
Or maybe Dutch
She didn’t look like much
By the time I met her, but ch’

-a better know her heart was
golden too
just like the dog’s;
she may have appeared stuffed
but now they’re in elysian fields
together; smooth, unroughed
and not unluffed


[David Zep Dix 8-17-2002]


Donaldo and Ineke,
I am touched by your death notice for Radar, more than a beast, more of a
son and member of that great collective making up your extended family.
Wherever Radar went, and it was pretty far for a dog, he was dearly loved. I
enjoyed his rapt focus on a merely symbolic tennis ball when I threw it for
him during lulls at open houses at the time of selling your house here.
Other dogs do that and I've watched many of them during my long life, but
Radar, aptly named, tracked a tennis ball's trajectory better than any dog I
ever knew.  It was as though a tennis ball to him was only an instrument
through which he could exert gargantuan vestigial instincts, and demonstrate
his uncommon drive to serve humankind, to please.  Within his synaptic
network, among his eyes, brain and muscle now trained, we believe, in a
better world, was peacetime usage of a potential military force our current
and soon to be ousted unelected president would never in a million years
Is that the most salutary element of his obituary?  I am only an attender on
this day of mourning, and leave that to you whose life will be much the less
without him.  If he was not champion material to the breeder, he was, as you
say, more than that to you.  Our sympathies go out to you today and in the
lonely but healing days to come.  Radar is out there now, finding, let us
say, the way Home.  The home you gave him was the best he could ever find on
this terrestrial plane.