Saturday, November 30, 2013

T Day emergence; Nedra; New windows, lights; Xmas parade pix out our windows

(It came, and went)

Thanksgiving Day 11-28-13 dawns chilly
in No. 311 at the Odd Fellows with some 
lights turned on outside the bedroom zone
and the heat turned up.  Presently it is almost
up to 68 according to our weather central instruments
designed for taking measurements.
My breathe is no longer seen.
The ice no longer rims the cat water bowl.

When I arose ahead of Dee
- who turns the heat off at night -
bu not ahead of KD who already paced 
waiting to be fed her morning ration,

the temp was approaching satanic
at 6-6-
and I uttered a W-o-o-o
at the cat who immediately broke
into her Halloween dance.
Her fur was supple, unfrozen, bristling.


Last Sunday

a woman appeared in church enroute on
visiting her brother in upstate Wis from her home in
Hattiesburg, MI.  Her name, she told me after service in the coffee room
was Nedra.
She said she had grown up in Waukesha and at this church
which she wanted after all the many years, to visit.
"Oh?" I said. "When was that?"
"Well, I was born in 1938....."
Hmmmm. I was born in 1936.
"Good heavens! We are contemporaries!" I said.

"Did you happen to go to Hadfield Elementary?" I asked.
I remembered her faintly.

She smiled and answered YES.
'That's where I went, too,
and you are Nedra!"

I've only known one Nedra in my lifetime
and here she was plopped down in a chair next to me
after 70-some years.

We exchanged addresses and I took her picture
with my lower crustacean cell camera,
the only camera I had with me.

I sent her this postcard the next day:

Later, I went to the internet to look up the name Nedra.

Your First Name of: Nedra

  • Your name of Nedra gives you a clever mind, good business judgment, a sense of responsibility, and an appreciation of the finer things of life.
  • You are serious-minded and not inclined to make light of things even in little ways, and in your younger years you had more mature interests than others your age.
  • Home and family mean a great deal to you and it is natural that you should desire the security of a peaceful, settled home environment where you can enjoy the companionship of family and friends.
  • Whatever you set out to accomplish you do your very best to complete in accordance with what you consider to be right.
  • In the home you assume your responsibilities capably, having the self-confidence to form your own opinions and make your own decisions.
  • Others can rely on you; once you have given your word you will do your utmost to fulfil a responsibility.
  • However, there is a tendency to be a little too independent in your thinking and it is difficult for you to accept the help of others when you should.
  • Due to your strong sense of responsibility, you could experience worry and mental turmoil through assuming more responsibility than you should.
Friction could arise through others feeling that you were interfering with their rights and privileges, even though you are only trying to help. 


This could be the start of a fine correspondence.
Time will tell.


What the Heart Cannot Forget

Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.

And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.

The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.

"What the Heart Cannot Forget" by Joyce Sutphen, from Coming Back to the Body. © Holy Cow! Press, 2000


Joy at the Odd Fellows

The past week saw the beginning of the installation
of two leaking thermopane windows facing Main Street. Berg Management 
'officiating', per promise.  The Jewel in the Five Points Crown
does not/ will not slide into disrepair, despite the blanket negative inferences of our
present mayor regarding "certain landlords".

We captured a texted image with our Lower Crustacean cell camera
in of our effort to recall and record the downtown Milwaukee Christmas windows
of our youth: a gaily-illumined unicycle in our middle window that turns,
just like Gimbels and Boston Store
If you or Billy the Brownie rides it upside down and pedals.
(WHISHHHH says the radio sound effects man,
I think I hear Santa's sleigh!
Santa! Can you read me through all the wind?)

That image, true to its rude origin, was just a capture of the better
photo following, but it was easily sent via Email in that form.

Above in the loft, Festoon Fox has his new lights also on.
KD wants to wait a while longer before wearing her lights:

Other photo opps
presented themselves from our Odd Fellows windows
at the festive Xmas parade downtown last weekend.

A stilted man;

stilted man whirls;

Mickey and Minnie wandered
to wave at children 
while candy was tossed.

As the evening darkened, the bright blasts of orange flames
from a tugged Remax balloon heater drew ooohs and aaahs
audible from our high perch in the Odd Fellows.

We felt the momentary heat even through our new window
as the gas ball rose into the cold atmosphere;

I was warm just for a second.......


and finally
today's date, W/A

I Get a Kick Out of You

My story is much too sad to be told,
But practically ev'rything leaves me totally cold.
The only exception I know is the case
Where I'm out on a quiet spree
Fighting vainly the old ennui
And I suddenly turn and see
Your fabulous face.

I get no kick from champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all,
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?
Some get a kick from cocaine.
I'm sure that if I took even one sniff
That would bore me terrific'ly too
Yet I get a kick out of you.
I get a kick ev'ry time I see
You're standing there before me.
I get a kick though it's clear to me
You obviously don't adore me.
I get no kick in a plane.
Flying too high with some guy in the sky
Is my idea of nothing to do,
Yet I get a kick out of you.

"I Get a Kick Out of You" by Cole Porter, from Cole Porter Selected Lyrics. © The Library of America.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Penultimate pussy; Paraprosdokians, 17 of them; Play the uke like we do; Curtis and Stew; The Congo for Xmas


The Odd Fellows cat assumes
the second from the top rung
seemingly in deference 
to The Dirt God
at the summit

All tippy devices and objects
are clamped down to prevent
but KD is on her own
and that's just the way she likes it


Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous.
Winston Churchill loved them.
1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

9. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

10. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR'.

11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

13. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure...

14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

15. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

16. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

17. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

then this:


Stew Tolbert of Dillonvale Ohio
retired steamfitter and now art welder
in his barn on a reclaimed coal mine

where he lives with wife Donna in a nifty trailer
heard his old friend from the 70s in concert, Curtis Johnson.
- left, above -

*How did you know this guy, I asked?
Stew answered:
As an undergrad at West Liberty ,about 1976, Curtis played at my buddy's establishment called Tin Pan Alley that had 3 floors,one live rock/folk, one disco [lighted floor etc.] and one Jazz. Tin Pan was a story of money,drugs ,sex, tax evasion,and betrayal . Curtis just kept on playing . The opening night on the Jazz floor, Blood, Sweat and Tears was playing the Capital. The horn section came over to party at Tin Pan after there performance and cockily sat in; well, Curtis just blew  them off the stage, they were saying 'who is that guy', I got to tell that story to his wife last sat. which delighted her.So Curtis played there most week ends for several years and I was there when ever I could be as you never knew what would happen musically and otherwise.
  So 2 years ago on my birthday after decades He played Stiefel and I was surprised that he remembered me though I was semi-famous.......

  Have never met Stew
picked him up off his reading the raccoon News
being referred to the raccoon by the development staffer
with the Wheeling Symphony.
She sent me pic of barges on my favorite river, The Ohio.
She'd read a rhapsody I did on the suspension bridge
at Wheeling.

'All things are connected.'






we get it
single red ornaments in the greens
the hip 2013 thing to do

This unusual Downtown Waukesha perspective
of the Congegational UCC Church, 100 E. Broadway
taken by the raccoon photographer
who shoots single red ornaments.


Festoon looks down on the Five Points
specifically at the yule planter
in front of The Clarke
illustrated in the downtown blog
'Takin' It To The Streets'
of recent issue

Festoon has just had his lights replaced
for our interior Christmas cheer
here at The Odd Fellows hall

200 mini-bulbs in white
re-illumine the loft workshop
as of today's installation, 11-22-13

and in synch with the once missed cue
of the beauty of single ornaments,
Festoon joins with the visage he sees,
a solitary-decked community planter
and he too has his single globe,
appropriately pre-Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thirty year anniv. 11/11/83 - 11/11/13; Heron; John's DC history trip

A veteran's day
dawned on November 11
with an appropriate Google motif
as above

We are just coming down
from a gala surprise celebration
held last Saturday evening
at the Three Brothers Restaurant

in Bayview south of the Milwaukee
Hoan Bridge
attended as planned by daughter Erin
and Ben
but also flying in from New York

by huge surprise was our son Leland
the Harlem kindergarten teacher.

The History of the 3 Bos. site is well-reported
in this organ:

and many etceteras.......

but as to this particular night, 9/9/13:

Adding a 5th person to our party
thanks to Lee's arrival
necessitated our taking an 8 pm reservation
instead of our 6 pm for 4 diners.

We had a little wait at the crowded door
for tables to be cleared for us and other patrons
at this prime time dinner hour.
This allowed our chance meeting
of a chap from Missouri and his two associates
who were in Milwaukee to attend an
academic conference.

Pressed for space to stand, the gentleman,
Prof. Peter Monacell, a stranger, offered to hang up
my coat in the rack behind him.

They were there first and eventually
after the wait, took a table
in the back corner, where a waitress
began serving them.
See below photo.

Next, we were seated at a center table nearby the Monacell party.

Serbian salads quickly ensued.......and burek......and........

I offered to take a picture of our chance friends (and another...)

Then asked if they would mind shooting one of us.

"Gladly!" Peter said, taking the LVD mem. camera.

He gave me his card so I could Email him the pic of them.

The Missouri professor allowed as how
they had made inquiries of a really
unique place to have dinner while in 
Milwaukee, and were referred here.

Now they are members of a who-knows-how-many
wide group of 3 Bros. fans.  We've been patrons
since the 1960s.

A review:

 by Lynardo (2008)
This place is a gem. I am half Serbian and really miss my mother's great Serbian cooking. So going to Three Brothers is, for me, as close as I can get to sitting at my mother's table. The sarma and stuffed peppers are my favorite entrees. I know everybody raves about the burek, and it is really fabulous (especially if you take new people there - it really is impressive!!!!), but I think the one item not to miss is the Serbian salad. I have always gotten very helpful and friendly servers, and almost always the owner stops by the table. All in all, this place is a very special gem, far above the average for a business traveler like me. Make sure to order a glass of Slivovitz to end your very special meal at Three Brothers. Nazdravlje!
Pros: The Serbian food is awesome
Cons: A little hard to find the first time.

Yes, you do have to know the route
to reach The Three Brothers.
I used a worn folded map the first time,
but once there it is unforgettable.

Our new friends from Missouri
- the 'Show Me' state -
will definitely be back,
we are assured by a subsequent
communique from Mr. Monacell.

The educators will receive this edition
of the Raccoon News in MO
and see these likenesses
for the first time of them
back there in their cozy corner.

Additional thanks to Monacell for
taking the picture of our party!
They're now safely back in MO.


Digging through raccoon archives
I found this saved picture of
our friend, Door County WI writer
and educator, the recently late Norb Blei -
with Branco, the Three Bros. owner.
Ethnic bonds connected the two men.

A visit to your table by Branco
is a regular treat. He was off this evening,
but believe me
we'll be back!

I can never forget the date of our anniversary. 11/11/83.
11 - 11 -( 8 + 3) = 11

not to mention, it's Veterans Day! .......

Beauty hint: I've tried ointments to fight my scrawnied neck
 potions don't seem to work
but a beard does......
another 4 inches should do it -
a harder remedy for some girls

Home, 11/11/13 sweet home

The Heron

Whenever we noticed her
standing in the stream, still
as a branch in dead air, we
would grab our binoculars,
watch her watching,
her eye fixed on the water
slowly making its own way
around stumps, over a boulder,
under some leaves matted against
a fallen log. She seemed
to appear, stand, peer, then

lift one leg, stretch it, let
a foot quietly settle into the mud
then pull up her other foot, settle
it, and stare again, each step
tendered, an ideogram at the end
of a calligrapher's brush.
Every time she arrived, we watched
until, as if she had suddenly heard
a call in the sky, she would bend
her knees, raise her wide wings,
and lift into the welcome grace
of the air, her legs extending
back behind her, wings rising
and falling elegant under the clouds:
For more than a week now
we have not seen her. We watch
the sky, hoping to catch her great
feathered cross moving above the trees.

"The Heron" by Jack Ridl, from Practicing to Walk like a Heron. © Wayne State University Press, 2012 

Have seen Great Blue Heron
fishing,in early dawn hours
along the mighty Fox River
right in downtown Waukesha;

For all we know.......


The Big Bang

When the morning comes that you don't wake up,
what remains of your life goes on as some kind of
electromagnetic energy. There's a slight chance you
might appear on someone's screen as a dot. Face it.
You are a blip or a ping, part of the background noise,
the residue of the Big Bang. You remember the Big
Bang, don't you? You were about 26 years old, driving
a brand new red and white Chevy convertible, with
that beautiful blond girl at your side. Charlene, was
her name. You had a case of beer on ice in the back,
cruising down Highway number 7 on a summer
afternoon and then you parked near Loon Lake just
as the moon began to rise. Way back then you said to
yourself, "Boy, it doesn't get any better than this," and
you were right.

"The Big Bang" by Louis Jenkins, from Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems. © Will o' the Wisp books, 2013


Finishing up
 with Veteran's Day,
John Schoenknecht, historian friend,
was recently in Wash. DC touring
the monuments including the Korean Memorial,
and sent the Raccoon some KM pix he'd taken.

It must have been a ghostly sight
these wonderful works presented.
Well I remember, safely from state-side,
how close we fellows of the WHS class of 54
came to fighting in that 'conflict'.

It was only the luck of the draw -
our chance birthdates -
that saved us.

photos by John Schoenknecht



Thanks, John, for permission (we got it!) to reprint your photos.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nuthatch (or Chickadee); A gentleman gathering; Unbeknownst; 30; + Radio


What if a sleek, grey-feathered nuthatch
flew from a tree and offered to perch
on your left shoulder, accompany you

on all your journeys? Nowhere fancy,
just the brief everyday walks, from garage
to house, from house to mailbox, from
the store to your car in the parking lot.

The slight pressure of small claws
clasping your skin, a flutter of wings
every so often at the edge of vision.

And what if he never asked you to be
anything? Wouldn't that be so much
nicer than being alone? So much easier
than trying to think of something to say?

"Nuthatch" by Kirsten Dierking, from Tether. © Spout Press, 2013

This poem found on our daily check of the Writers Almanac Wednesday 11-6-13
- my wife's birthday -
reminded me of this:

The reference to 
"The slight pressure of small claws
clasping your skin, a flutter of wings"
brought a recall of the that feeling...
It was 1971 and I was
driving a Yellow cab in Milw for a living
but the photo was taken near Pembine WI


A gentlemen's gathering last Sunday
morning at Panera's Restaurant in Ruby Isle, Brookfield WI
saw gray-haired well-traveled, cultured conversationalists doing 
their customary thing,
friends supporting each other in pleasant weekly pastime.

This day it was the day before one of the friends, Uncle Norman
was to close on the real estate sale of the land-grant family farm of his settler
for the coming Walmart Super Center store at Greenfield and Moorland,
New Berlin, WI.

The farmhouse shown in the above post, where Norman has resided for many years
will come under the wrecking ball and bulldozer soon, and Norman will
relocate to an upscale New Berlin complex with graduated levels of care,
3 million dollars richer.
Norm's remaining land to sell was only 12 acres, but ideally situated.

I am trying to convince Norm to allow ace Freeman writer Darryl Enriquez
- who did not ask for such an assignment but would willingly undertake it -
to write this Rupnow side of the story on the big controversial Walmart sale, etc.

But so far Norm says, "That isn't my cup of tea."
He may change his mind.....I'm saying.

Norm misses his late wife and friend, Sunny,
who may be taking mystic sorties through those woods still.

For this signal day, Norm and the boys were joined by Waukesha art figure Wis Guthrie
and yours truly.  Norm was sporting a fresh haircut.  He was his characteristic
droll 'will believe it when I see it' self.

Norm and Wis reminisced over their recollections of a Carroll College
field trip they took to England once upon a time, and how a few blase students
had to be prodded to get out of the tour bus to see the Stonehenge figures.

The Raccoon News, on assignment for this seemingly leisurely gathering,
saw the import of it and ran a copy of one of its photos to mail to
Uncle Norman, for his souvenirs.

It was done.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day with blue skies and billowing white clouds.
Wis and I decided to have lunch at Christina's, back in Waukesha.

An overall delightful time was being had and we parted with a firm handshake
back at the Avalon where Wis resides.


Unbeknownst to us,

- ? -

at church
- where we hadn't attended though it was our custom -
shocking word was circulating among the to be bemourned, knit congregation
that a young member, Kyle Kiser, met his own terminus
in northern Wisconsin in an auto accident
the preceding night.


To this issue of the Saturday Raccoon, therefore,
we write an old-school journalist's


with sympathies to the beloved Kiser family.




from Writers Almanac 11-7-13

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

"Radio" by David Lehman, from New and Selected Poems. © Scribner Poetry, 2013

Teddy Wilson's After You've Gone