Saturday, January 25, 2014

It is enough; Gaudy Butterfly; Unvarnished truth; CC Rider

It Is Enough

To know that the atoms
of my body
will remain

to think of them rising
through the roots of a great oak
to live in
leaves, branches, twigs

perhaps to feed the
crimson peony
the blue iris
the broccoli

or rest on water
freeze and thaw
with the seasons

some atoms might become a
bit of fluff on the wing
of a chickadee*
to feel the breeze
know the support of air

and some might drift
up and up into space
star dust returning from

whence it came
it is enough to know that
as long as there is a universe
I am a part of it.

Snapshot at top is a found photo
taken by a friend of me feeding
chickadees from my hand in back
of an old hermit resident's place
off of Hy 8, three miles west of Hy 41
just south of the town of Pembine.

Note to Leland:
You will notice, beneath the sunflower seeds
that my Charles Dix ring you now have
is being worn.


This also happened near Pembine WI


Laid by a Monarch

A Gaudy Butterfly Laid Me

On a milkweed leaf she laid me
with no great hope of my success,
for I was just one of a hundred eggs
she deposited,
flitting, pausing, flitting, pausing,
my mother's abdomen arching
each time and putting us down;
we pinheads were merely something
that made her feel good
or the result of an act that did;
or not even that;
I don't know and will never know.

I ate my full engorgement of clean furrows
in the white-juiced leaves until I grew
to a fat temptation for predators
that eat the likes of me,
but the numbers had it
that I was one of the few who survived,
never got picked off in the hard
mandibles of life.

my disappointment was different;
I spun my waxy cocoon
according to pattern
and then, alas, instead of the transformation,
the metanoia,
I had my beauty taken from me
and my capsule gradually
turned black,
and as I lay dying inside,
rotting into a fetid inkiness,

a monarch's striving nature
nonetheless living still,
my little strength merged to
poke a pinhole in the bottom
of my enbindment, and by dint
of waning force I dripped this
message onto the leaf below,
and that is how you come
to read a distillation of all
I was ever to become,

 a quotation, nothing more, but by a higher power than I:
What we have to be
Is what we are - Thomas Merton

                                  [David Dix 7/06]


Unvarnished Truth

When I was a small child in the early 1940s
I would get to visit my grandparents
In Cedar Falls Iowa
And they had things there that
Greatly annoyed me
Each summer

The good things mostly offset the bad
But I am weird today because
 My grandfather used to cut the heads
Off chickens in the backyard
And he thought it was funny
When they would run after me
With their heads off

One time a headless chicken chased me
Right up the back porch steps
And beat itself against me
While I tried to escape through
A screen door that would not open
Because it was hooked on the inside

The dying chicken acted like a wind-up toy
Stuck in a corner
And it just kept thrashing against me
Until I became a different person forever
And the chicken ran down
And Grandma sped in from her garden
Like a fast ship
Her starched dress billowing like a sail

Otherwise mostly it was fun there
Except for when the peacocks wailed
Crazily in the night
And the house creaked and groaned
And I writhed under the
Hied-up bedclothes scared and sometimes
With chiggers burrowing
In my penis

Every summer I could look forward
To a nail-polished penis

The special remedy of the house
For these nasty no-see-ums
I never experienced anywhere else
But there at 2009 Clay Street
They were attracted to me

And they unfailingly established
Housekeeping in my penis
Rarely was I bitten anywhere else
It was a mind-bending horror
To suffocate bugs slowly that way
Until 6-12 came along later
Then my life through chemistry
Became a better thing
But too late for my overall future

There is no way of assessing
What lasting damage was wrought
By that chicken and the chiggers
What I might have become
 without their rude attacks
Upon my space and privacy
And that is
the unvarnished truth




Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Round Table; An update; Food please; Obamarama

Round Table

The 6' diameter table above was recommissioned
to serve at the Odd Fellows
when we took residence here
in 2010.

It was made from 2 x 4s glued together
then cut into a circle with a Milwaukee saw.
I beveled the edge with a small belt sander
which also did the top suface.
The legs are 4 x 4s held on by 
 large lag bolts from two directions.

It was made for a duplex we occupied
next to Friedens Church
to be a dining table and served for the
many church meetings held around it
by Friedenites who were serving
a dying church at 13th and Juneau.

That was 1982.
I carved a poem radiating out from the lazy susan
in the center.  The poem was composed
with my woodburner as I wrote
the following lucky words:

~Around this table
ebb and flow
the friends of the Dixes
come and go~
We wish you well
We love you so~
Do please come back
and have some mo'~
Around this table
wax and wane
special folks gather
whether ill or sane~
I'll hold your weight
and bear your pain
Fill your heart and guts
make you right again~
But if perchance
a cure's not found
for your ailment
you'll rebound~
Feel free on this surface
to rail and pound~
At a place such as this
your spring is rewound.

The old table has had many finishes
with paints of varying colors
and each time the top has been painted
I reburn the letters to make
the words readable.

It got stored on the front porch
for about 5 years because
following my heart surgery in 2005
we converted the dining room
into our first floor bedroom
so I could avoid stair-climbing.

But when we knew we were coming
to the Odd Fellows
I wanted to re-use it, to resurrect it.
I washed it well and repainted it again.
I had my 6 ft tall son Leland lie on the dining L
floor here to see if it would fit.  It would.

Now, lots meals have been partaken of at this sturdy table
and 2014 60th HS reunion beginning plans have been laid here.
(Pictured below left to right, Sally Martin Von Briesen; Jack Hill; Jim Billings.)

Our friend John Helt sat again at the table on 1-15-14, MLK Day.
He was one of the first to sit at it when he was a freshman minister
of Friedens UCC Church in 1982.

For the past 5 years John has served as called minister full-time
at St. Pauls UCC in Hubertus WI.  We have covered him extensively.

In the photo herewith we discussed the affairs of our two churches
and other news of the day.
John married us at Friedens in 1983.

We've remained friends.

Re the final table photo, a small bell hangs at each
of the four 4 X 4 legs so KD is happy.

toenail-clipping time

Progress of the Amaryllis
(an update!)

Open for business
Bring on the bees or moths
or manipulated Q-Tips?


We know this routine well....
 (Not quite this severe)

Sent to us by our daughter, Alaskan homeless shelter director, Laurie

A Raccoon stringer feed


Steven Spielberg
Daniel Day Lewis

(In this space we originally ran a calendar oddity
which did not pan (Snope) out.
So here's something else I was going to run
also inspired by my watchdog son, Leland:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Only you; Hello Central; Amaryllae; Bonus tune

You must play 

One of my favorite sweatshirts in these recent cold days
has been the one I got in Bayfield WI on a vacation
through northern WI some years ago.

....can prevent forest fires.
(chest embroidery.  I wore it to the Congo on Xmas eve.)

The Doo Wop Platters song courtesy of the 1950s era
when I went to Waukesha High School
at the old and original WHS,
Below is picture from 1953 yearbook,
The Megaphone.

which is now CENTRAL Middle School
where my friend William from church attends.

That leads today's Raccoon to this poem from 
a Writers Almanac offering this week:

Hello Central

I attended a high school whose name was colorless and odorless: Central
High School. It was called that because it was built in the middle of town,
so that students could converge on it equidistantly. Then the city added
other high schools, all named after illustrious men. The students there
could associate their schools with these figures, but we at Central could
no longer even associate our school with centrality, since by then the
city had expanded and become lopsided. The name Central had become
totally abstract. After sixty years the structure was deemed inadequate,
and a new Central was built—in the northwest corner of town—discon-
necting the school's name from its last vestige of meaning.
       In the many times I have returned to my hometown I have never once
driven out to see the new Central. Instead I cruise past the renovated old
structure that now is used as an office building. In my mind's eye I dash
up the steps and into the hallways crowded with students who only an
hour ago were lost in sleep. I enter room 212 and take my seat at the back
of the center row and feel the day click into place when the bell rings and
Miss Quesenbery looks at her roll book, brushes back an errant strand of
hair, and starts down the alphabet. A rush of anticipation rises in me as
she approaches my name, and when she says it, I answer "Here" in a voice
that makes me feel useful, like a brick.

"Hello Central" by Ron Padgett from Collected Poems. © Coffee House Press, 2013

The class of WHS 1954
is holding its 60th year reunion
later this year!

On Amaryllae

In a recent Raccoon
we commented on a found Amaryllis.
But shortly after that
we got a new and robust Amaryllis
from a friend.
We have that one growing next to
our original bulb.
The original is holding its own
but looks like it will produce
only leaves this year
replenishing iself for maybe blooming
next year.

But wow, now on 1-10-14
the fresh one is about to burst
into bloom!
It has grown rampantly under
the landing skylight.

It looks to me sort of like a
dolphin with an opening mouth.
Within the opening we see red below.

Behind the skyrocketing plant
in our little arboretum area on the landing
is an old enlarged Brownie of me
in my little 'Rosebud' wagon.
My teddy bear rests on his back with me.

 Another view.

As we begin a new year
going into our seventh year of raccooning it
we want to recall one of the first Raccoons.
The picture is kind of a museum piece with us
wherever we might go.

Thanks to 1st Cong. church moderator
for this dynamic bulb!
(a gift for staffer Dee)

How it looked on 12-24-13!


For my 1954 friends
who read the raccoon,
a bonus tune:

Dig it!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Polar plunging; Two camels; Cat toy cont'd; A tapestry

Great video capture!


Thanks to a couple of local wordsmiths
- Tom Hekkers and Brian Lee, specifically -
and our 'paying-attention' daily blog-reads,
the Raccoon today spotted this link
to the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Bradford Beach
held on New Years Day this year.
Others of you might have caught it in the
Waukesha Now section of the J-S.

Ever the voyeur, this excitement put me in mind 
of another polar bear romp
in 1998, in the Saylesville Mill Pond
just south of Waukesha.
 I attended as a watcher.
(And seer of whether I wanted to do it.
I didn't that day - or any other.)

I was invited to witness this annual excursion
into icy water by Mill Pond polar organizer, the late
Bob Uchner, stained glass artist,
who lived near the subject pond.

There I saw Bob and other friends and acquaintances
including Pythian brother Wayne Leverenz and Waukesha County
Republican leader Don Taylor
running bravely into the shocking water covered with floating ice.

- The group posed for an after-swim photo -

The Raccoon hails these brave people
who came to mind because of my reading
of Waukesha's downtown interesting and controversial
blog, Takin' It To The Streets. 

- Another SRN photo, of one of the displays at Bob's funeral -


A tale of two camels

In the upper photo one of 
the Congregational UCC church creche camels
holds forth in beautiful realism
altho the picture is taken with the lowly
inexpensive cell camera I carry.

It is from a manger scene that
was bought with memorial 'monies' as they say
once upon a time
and it is displayed at a low height
so that the church's children can handle
the figures which are made from an
unbreakable resin.

The lower photo was taken a moment ago.
This home-made salt-dough Bethlehem
nativity scene rests on an old table at the Odd Fellows.

This set-up is brought out every Dix Christmas as 
it has been for over 30 years.  Throughout 
the rest of the year the figures, made of 
a ladies magazine recipe salt dough mixture 
and then baked per instructions, rest individually-
wrapped in soft paper and all put in a wooden crate
for next time, for next Christmas......

The reason for the reverence of this manger set:
It was made by a late dancing girl named Debi Hubbard,
fore-runner but friends too with Dee. Debi attended
for the first time a church service with me (Milw. Friedens)
and liked John Helt and the experience very much
for it gave her the chance to wear her a bit flashy but 
expensive clothes.

She never much got the religion bit
but she saw 'this manger thing' in a craft magazine
- pre-Christmas -
and wanted to make something special
for me.  It is infused with whimsy, but

mark this: fine manger scenes have passed before
Dee's and my eyes (and Erin's and Lee's) through the years
but this one will have a count-on-it home here for the duration.


From an Email to friends:

From: David Dix []
Sent: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 5:17 PM
Subject: hny

What pray tell lies under the skirt of year 2014?

(See attached illus.)

We have only to look and see.

(See attached illus. SAI)

It may go better if you lie on your back and peer upside down. (SAI)




 Speaking of cats.....

Dee got a Xmas gift from a friend
who knows Dee is a cat person. I just finished
reading it, Julia's Cats.
 I had forgotten how much cats figured
into Julia the master cook's life.

This was a beautiful present!
The book, a quick read, is loaded
with a generous helping of photos that were
taken by Julia's painter/photographer husband.

Here, below the picture of the book cover
is the prologue at the beginning of the book.


"Heal the world - 
Cook dinner tonight"

A tapestry makes it to the Odd Fellows wall.
Beth Lawson presented Dee with a tapestry
from Penzey's Spices
(along with several spices)

Finding it so lovely
we hung it up.

Telling Beth when we sat behind her
at the Congo we so loved her gift
that we hung it between the kitchen and DR,
she declared:

"Good heavens, that's just a dish towel!"

Not to us, it aint!


Beth is known to have different sitings
for different things.
She has a tamaraack sprig
tattooed on her shoulder.
She showed me during coffee hour some 
months ago:

Tugging at her blouse to reveal and photo the sprig,
my  pale hand provides a contrast
to the tanned, sort of burned Shoulder of Beth.

You might see things like this at the Congo,
100 E broadway, Waukesha.