Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Christmas report abbreviated; A downtown Yule; Wis's Xmas letter

A new tree ornament
in raccoon form
joins the phalanx of raccoons here 
at the Odd Fellows

Ben reposes on Dee's new Plowshares cushion

Ben and Erin and feet (warm)

Ben and Erin 

Ben is the tech wizard who enabled me to conclude 
the 2014 60th Waukesha high school site:

Lee and old friend Joe play cribbage

Lee computes

My Christmas squid
brought back from Japan by Lee
earlier this year.  Yum!

See this:


A downtown Yule 2014

The Alcoholics Anonymous club (Alanon)
across from the Clarke Irish Restaurant 
 - both out our window -
is a scene for warm and tragic comings and goings
when, during the difficult holidays

we see folks embracing each other as they come and go
through that doorway.
Or entering and exiting hoping to be unnoticed.
There is no sign identifying the club.

That juxtapose with the upscale restaurant and hotel
where guests according to the Police Blotter columns in the local 
paper recently complained to the cops about the undue noise down beneath their boutique rooms
(foreground of our picture)

had us thinking that when the bars spill out at 2AM and the baying at the moon
commences NIGHTLY from the drunken patrons
who have been over-served
and who are not at all thoughtful of the downtown residents
who are trying to sleep -

the cops ARE GONNA GET called sometimes
and staggerers are wrist-slapped and told to move on.

But on the other side of the ledger
good things do happen downtown:

The recently opened pet spa next door to our South Street entrance
operated by a great young woman who works hand in hand with the
humane society, also working out there at the Northview HAWS as a volunteer,
has had kittens in her shop window - the hope being to increase the chances
of adoptions happening with the downtown shop window exposure.

Meantime she and her mother groom animals.  A satisfied friend of ours from church
has become a regular grooming customer. Our KD Cat has her nails done there.
(Her Xmas toys came from this PAWS FOR PETS store.)

As it happens,

'The purple-haired lady'
- operator of the Altmont Art Gallery a scant block and a half away -
was passing by the spa and fell in love wth the two current kittens in the window.

She and her husband have adopted them.  A little more time must go by
for the male to reach the point when he can be neutered.  And then
The purple-haired lady and her husband, a jolly good fellow,
can stop making their beloved daily bonding visits to the shop
and take the little creatures to their new forever home.

Something tells me its all happening...


Wis's annual American Gothic Christmas letter
(Always highly-anticipated for decades)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What's in Santa's bag?; Wis Guthrie celebrates Xmas 2014; The Sun; Bell ringer


Not a sobriety test


 Wis Guthrie celebrates Christmas 2014
by attending the children's pageant at the 1st Cong. UCC
Broadway and East Aves. Waukesha

(Fast break by Brandon)

Wis's sculpture of the old dirt monster casts a menacing shadow
in our Odd Fellows bedroom last night.

This was why.  Our night light was behind where the monster got put
in stage one of our yuletide clean-up ahead of the kids' Xmas visit.

Startled us for a second as it cast its shadow under the still dark skylight.

At Halloween last year the dirt monster (or 'god' as it is sometimes known)
cast a purposeful shadow.  We've had this effigy since the 60s when Wis created it from found parts - raggy burlap, a roaster, vacuum brushes, shoe brushes, belt-kit links, etc - 
as an art professor at Carroll College.  Wis's instruction before he would sell it 
was that it must never be dusted.  His will has been done thusfar.

John Tyson, Wis Guthrie, Carroll art profs. circa 1963

Wis has a popsicle at the Waukesha Farmers Market this year.
He rides his electric scooter/chair on his rounds at the market along the Fox River.

To be continued.


Our last issue of The Sun came yesterday.  As usual I read it cover to cover
getting up in the middle of last light to finish it.
It is the most intriguing Christmas gift I'm tempted to say EVER
 John and Cindy Helt gave it to Dee and me.

I'm sorry to admit I had not heard of the literary monthly 
- done without ads- before last Xmas
but its monthly arrival now has been anxiously anticipated
 at the Odd Fellows.

 I have renewed it for another year.  Below is just one page
as a sample, with a high-lighted letter in their READERS WRITE
section (there are about 6 pages exquisite of letters):


Bell ringer Bruce Boeck.  How many years has he been doing it now?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It is time; And speaking of bulls-eyes; It's sentimental; And worn well

MICHAEL B. THOMAS / Stringer / Getty Images

 by Bernard J. Tyson Influencer

Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente

It’s Time to Revolutionize Race Relations

Dec 4, 2014

With the entire country seeing demonstrations following the Ferguson decision, I’ve had colleagues and business partners ask me my thoughts — not from my perspective as the Chairman and CEO of a $55 billion organization — but as a black man in America.
You would think my experience as a top executive would be different from a black man who is working in a retail or food service job to support his family. Yet, he and I both understand the commonality of the black male experience that remains consistent no matter what the economic status or job title.
This post is not to complain about what is, but instead offer hope that we can harness the positive energy from the demonstrations for change and start a new chapter in America based on better understanding of race relations.
As Americans, we must deal with behavior that is unacceptable in today’s global world. The first step in changing negative behavior is to understand the underlying imagery of the black male, which doesn’t represent reality. Whether it’s Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin with his Skittles®, Eric Garner who died after a chokehold, or the 12-year old killed because he was waving a toy gun, when you see a black man killed, the imagery is more complicated than one might think. For example, words used by the white police officer to describe Michael Brown included adjectives such as hulking and demonic — words that bring up images going back to the days of slavery.
If you’re not black, it’s hard to relate to situations as a black man might. So you know I’m speaking from a realistic rather than theoretical standpoint, here are a few personal examples I’ve experienced in the past couple of months:
·         Recently I was shopping in an upscale store and I was being watched and also followed by an overly anxious person. This was not someone trying to be helpful, but someone who was assessing why I was there. Other shoppers did not have “help” following them throughout the store.
·         I have gone to dinner at fine restaurants and had the food server explain the tipping program, since apparently black men don’t understand this concept.
·         Sometimes I observe two or three white customers ahead of me and after me pay by credit card — and I am the only one singled out to provide proof of who I am before I can make my purchase.
·         Most CEOs don’t leave their corporate offices, change clothes, and have car doors locked as they walk by or women move to the other side of the street hugging their purses as they see me out exercising. Even as a CEO, the black male experience is my reality.
Years ago, my father taught me explicitly how to behave myself if ever confronted by a police officer and I experienced being disrespected in my early twenties by someone who was supposed to protect my rights. I hold to this day that the biggest battle within me was the rage at how I was being treated while having to do what my father told me and respond appropriately. If I acted out how I was feeling at the time, I might not be here today.
So where do we go from here? In the Ferguson situation, we need to disregard the small percentage of criminals who are getting publicity for their destruction of property and instead pay attention to the sincere marchers and protestors who are voicing their demands for change. This is our opportunity to focus on improving race relations for the future, especially for young black men and also for those picked up to be deported based on their race. A few ideas have great potential to revolutionize race relations:
·         I endorse the idea that every police officer videotapes interactions as the first major step to protect both individuals and the police officers.
·         We must engage community activists to sit down with police, the government and local businesses to work together in different ways. Over time we will see the current environment of police officers going to white neighborhoods to “protect and resolve issues” and going into black neighborhoods to “combat and control” change to become a culture of police officers being in all neighborhoods to protect and participate.
·         We must collectively support local school and church leaders as they reach out to youth and adults to start a more positive dialogue to make all our neighborhoods safer.
·         We can ask businesses in our communities for their support as we build a greater sense of community, both locally and nationally.
The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness can become a reality for everyone if we eliminate issues standing in the way of improved race relations. I love this country and we’ve made so much progress, but we're not there yet. With deeper understanding and thoughtful and positive participation, America — and Americans — can live up to our full potential in a country built on diversity of thought, spirit, race and experience.

B. Tyson, author of above

And speaking of bulls-eyes:

See this:

( 5 minutes)


Jim Harrison (poet) said: "Life is sentimental. Why should I be cold and hard about it? That's the main content. The biggest thing in people's lives is their loves and dreams and visions, you know."

From The Writers Almanac 12-11-14

It's the birthday of poet and novelist Jim Harrison (books by this author), born in Grayling, Michigan (1937). When he was 25 years old, he tried to decide whether he should go on a hunting trip with his father and sister, but in the end, he decided not to. They were both killed a few hours later when they were hit by a drunk driver. Harrison said their dying "cut the last cord that was holding me down," and he immediately wrote his first finished poem. He drifted around for a while, then went to live with his brother John, who was a librarian at Harvard. He published his first volume of poems, Plain Song (1965), and he thought he wanted to be a poet. He wrote two more books of poems, and then he was out hunting birds with his dog and he fell off a cliff and hurt his back and had to stay in bed for months. His friend Thomas McGuane convinced him to try writing a novel as a way to pass the time. Harrison wrote Wolf: A False Memoir (1971).But he didn't have an agent, so he sent the one copy of his manuscript off to his brother John, in the hopes he could find a publisher for it. Unfortunately, the postal workers went on strike and the manuscript was lost in the mail. Harrison assumed it was lost forever and that it was probably the end of his novel-writing career, but it resurfaced after a month, and his brother managed to find a publisher for it, and Harrison become a novelist as well as a poet. His other books include the novella Legends of the Fall (1979); the novels True North (2004) and The Farmer's Daughter (2009); and the poetry volumes Returning to Earth (1977) and In Search of Small Gods (2009). He published a new book of poetry, Songs of Unreason (2011), and a new novel, The Great Leader (2011).
Jim Harrison said: "Life is sentimental. Why should I be cold and hard about it? That's the main content. The biggest thing in people's lives is their loves and dreams and visions, you know."

by Elizabeth Bishop

For a child of 1918

My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
"Be sure to remember to always
speak, to everyone you meet."

We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfather’s whip tapped his hat.
"Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day.”
And I said it and bowed where I sat.

Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
"Always offer everyone a ride;
don’t forget that when you get older,”
my grandfather said. So Willy
climbed up with us, but the crow
gave a "Caw!" and flew off I was worried.
How would he know where to go?
But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled he answered.

“A fine bird,” my grandfather said,
“and he’s well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he’s spoken to.
Man or beast, that’s good manners.
Be sure that you both always do.”

When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the people faces,
but we shouted ”Good day! Good day!
Fine day!” at the top of our voices.

When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired,
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.

"Manners" by Elizabeth Bishop from The Complete Poems 1927-1979. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983. 

as promised

A shirt well worn

I got me a shirt that's really well-worn
It is very well full of tears

(And not the crying kind)
I am loathe to follow my wife's advice
and throw it out
or convert it to rags with still some use in it

No, it continues to be worn and well
worn though I don't wear it out much
You see it's an Orvis shirt
that I painted a tie on back in the day

and I don't care that it is ragged
like me.


You have to be into such things
(see "Selected shorts subject" below, also
from a former day)

selected shorts subject

The cold season in Wisconsin sets in once more,
and still I wear my tattered gray short pants

the house and surround where my home office is,
though I know sartorially no great credit to me these bare threads

The hems dangle down. You say time has made my abbreviated trousers
unpresentable; yes, by some standards I am poorly

Just this very day a squad car passed while I in my shorts
raked leaves into a mound. The cops spied my special drawers and

But I don't seem to give a darn or a big rodent's posterior anymore,
if ever I did, how my own unpublicized posterior is clad. Perhaps I shed or add
a pound

now and then, but my shredded fading sheath is a forgiving shroud;
the waist is elastic, a yet strongly expanding and contracting heart. So

me if you will, washing after ragging washing, I just cling to
these pants the more, and they to me; I know how couthless that may

There may be a Lack of Fashion Statement in such die-hard loin clothing
but I don't intend to make it:

I too am fraying, but my pants and I, together, will hold our dear


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gingko cont'd (concluded?); Shoveling; Festoon; What were YOU doing?

Fallen Gingko fruit in front of Putney/ Odd Fellows bldg, 308 South St.

 close-up of stepped-on fruit

From Raccoon reader, Mary Zeitlow Sullivan:


Festoon Fox

12/3/14 - Festoon

is in for repairs today. Partially burned out
old Xmas tree lights have been unwound from his dusty and bedraggled body.

I will vacuum him and then brush him,
straightening his disturbed fur
from three years of sentinel duty
on the high office ledge

where he’s surveyed the downtown Five Points,
causing some people on the street below to look up
through these ‘penthouse’ windows
and think they might be seeing a fox constellation
up there in that oft-darkened room

while the Fox River flows below
behind a row of downtown limestone buildings.
The Fox River like the downtown
wanes and swells according to
the weather and rainfall

but Festoon has been around us since 1965
holding forth in his same pose wherever he's been.

Soon he will be spiffed up and C-clamped
back on the ledge ready for another year
- Christmas duty briefly -
on guard at the Odd Fellows hall.

If you think of it,
Watch for him.



I woke to the sound of shovels scraping the sidewalk:
More snow.
Son of a snowplow driver,
shoveling was one of your specialties,
like rising at five to feed the cats,
filling the bird feeder,
making the coffee,
charging my phone—
a catalog of kindnesses
I mostly slept through.
You were the constant one, the unapologetic booster, the besotted.
I was the strategist, the asker of difficult questions, the beloved.

We chose the old house on the corner
not knowing what we were in for. (Whoever does?)
We battled, together,
but cancer made you old too soon
and left me, the independent one, suddenly alone.
Now the years stretch ahead of me
like an endless sidewalk, filled with snow.
I shuffle into your old jacket, hat,
and too-big boots,
grab a shovel and get to work,
hoping some of you
will rub off on me.

"Shoveling" by Ann Harrington.


What were YOU doing in the 1970s ?

 Steve Dix, now of Flagstaff AZ, was living with his young wife
and his two little tots in the A frame cabin he built for his family
in the wilds of Yukon Territory. He worked as a bush pilot, radio announcer
and many earlier menial jobs in Canada.

Today, 12-6, he formally launches his first book in  a book store on his experiences after fleeing
the US for Canada, and the ten years spent there until Jimmy Carter
declared amnesty for wrong war believers wishing to freely return to the US.

Of those there were many believers including the SRN editor,
(who did his Army hitch 10 years earlier)
Those who spoke and acted up were non-combatant good Americans too.

Susie Dix below next to oil drum stove;
Wife above in loft.


Using only hand tools Steve fashioned a rude but safe chinked-with-moss shelter.

This is an adventure tale and a must read.

Order your copy of FINDING HONOR by Steve Dix
at or your local book seller.

Pictures shown in the Raccoon are from the book illustrations,
which are imperfect but good black and white pix.

For the rustic cabin-bulding photo etc. scroll down on this:

Comments to us so far:

Good Morning Zepster,  11/25/14

I read with interest your posting about the recent publication of Steve's book, and promptly loaded it onto my Kindle for perusal during our upcoming trip to Arizona.  From what I read on Amazon, and your comments as well, I expect the book to call up many of the same emotional conflicts I experienced during that time as I watched so many of my generation march off to  a war that lacked honor - - or sense. Many came limping back damaged both invisibly and visibly, and too many didn't make it back at all.  As you know, my parent's generation "The Greatest Generation" as Tom Brokaw named them, had different feelings about "duty, honor, and country", but their war was different, "just" if you will, if any war can be considered "just".  Their mission had a clarity missing from the Vietnam war.  If nothing else, it could be thought of as a battle for survival of their way of life.  

I've recently been reading The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, and it has underlined the enormous sociological changes occurring during the  two world wars, and how the deeply evil actions of the fascists needed to be stopped.  This was a cause with honor (and survival) as its basis.  No so our incursion into Vietnam.  I was divided in my beliefs then, having been brought up in the WWII cultural value system.  My choice to join the Army was motivated partly by these values, but equally by the social system that both protected me from the draft based upon my gender, and the same system that imposed a very limited set of options based upon my gender.  In 1970 equality for women was not yet the thundering roar that Helen Reddy sang of in 1975, and I needed to make my choices based upon the reality of the time in which I lived. While I didn't fully understand my motivations, I knew that staying home and following the traditional path of marriage and children was not the road I could travel. 

So I carried this conflict, and others within me throughout my years in the military, and it is these conflicts which will be the subject of my story, Flower Child in Camouflage. Steve's story resonates with me right from the beginning with the title. Finding Honor during Vietnam was no simple task. Being labeled a coward because he stood up for his beliefs takes a kind of courage that often goes unrecognized.  That courage is evident once again in publishing a book that expresses values contrary to the current uber-patriotic wave of sentiment in this country.  Although I haven't yet read his work, I believe there is honor to be found in the message of saying "no" to riding down the dead-end road of the war in Vietnam.  It's a message that needs to be sent again, as we seem to be heading a similar direction with our military today.

I look forward to reading Finding Honor. I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kate O'Neil
Retired Major US Army
Dallas OR


To the Raccoon:

Wis Guthrie 12/5/14

The  account of gaining freedom on a flight into Canada with Gina and Roger is deeply moving.  Steve's anxiety experienced in cleverly avoiding arrest is very well unfolded in  rational detail.  The reader is led effectively  into the many experiences that cut across cultural lines.

Wis Guthrie
Chair, Carroll Unversity Art Dep't, Ret'd
(Quaker Friend, Grant Wood admirer, etc.)


 by DZD 12-2-14

Very pleased am I to give FINDING HONOR a tribute with ALL thumbs and fingers pointing skyward, 'wiggling, applauding' as some do in certain churches.  Getting my hands on this fine adventure tale meant not being able to put it down until the pages were all avidly turned and the book finished, then keenly reflected upon. (Am still doing that; rereading it.)

It is recommended to all who want a history of one struggling young family’s resistance to the Vietnam war, and for those of us who lived through that sad saga in this nation’s conflicts it is especially intriguing, a bulls-eye to the heart and mind. A reminder as if we needed one that war is wrong.

Crossing the border into Canada, as the story unfolds, one can sense the breath of free- from-pursuit air felt by Mr. Dix, his 18 year old wife with their newborn son Roger. Technically, Steve was a 'deserter' from the Navy.

A daughter, Susie, followed, born in Canada.  What an initial experience in life for her!

The kindness of many Canadian citizens who gave freely of their aid, born of sympathy and  a disapproval of the Asian conflict + the flight to the Yukon where Steve with only hand tools built a rudimentary A frame shelter + well, it’s too long a story for a short review.

Get the book and read it.

The author Steve Dix has given us all and himself a cathartic account of a unique kind of oblique but certain service to our country, a man and woman, former avid Bobby Kennedy workers/supporters, standing up for what they saw was right.

David Zep Dix
Ed. SRN, etc.
Waukesha WI
David in FLA 1972
Some of what I was doing


Coming next week
A shirt is worn