Friday, March 28, 2014

Band, multi-dexterous; Elephant one minute old; Throw a nickel on the drum; At broadway and East

Hear the German band

Thanks to Jim Billings
WHS class of 1954

Rec'd from Mary Zeitlow S.
WHS class of 1954
and dedicated to Ben

Nickell Bldg. Finial
as seen from window by elevator
3rd floor Putney Odd Fellows
shot through a window screen
hence confused focus by the digital cam
I'm still learning this camera


Nickell bldg = nickel = put a nickel on the drum and you'll be saved
= What's My Line clip


Another view of the Nickell Building, center -
3-27-14, as we exit Mia's Pizza
which we've judged the best pizza in town.

The road construction heavy machinery is put to bed 
in the middle of the intersection, wreaking temporary havoc
for the businesses comprising Scrima's Corners.

There's an election for mayor coming up next Tuesday.
Note the symbolic shattered tree branch
pronouncing a benediction over the Steaming Cup.

Who will be the happy boys and girls after Tuesday?
Who will come, who will go?

Please vote Tuesday Apr. 1st



Post-card to Lee 
at Harlem Village Academies
where he teaches kindergarten
back of card -

Lee tempts Mona the Cat in the top level
of the duct-taped cardboard boxed and frozen 
juice-canned kitty condo;
 tempts her with a blue sponge.
She slaps at it peeking over the top flaps.

(The books actually are resting on the upright piano.)

Lee today.
His imagination
natural and
pays dividends.


Chambered Nautilus

Theme Pediment
being erected at Boston multi-purpose Episcopal Church
designed by this selected artist:

The Chambered Nautilus

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
   Sails the unshadowed main,—
   The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
   And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
   Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
   And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
   Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
   That spread his lustrous coil;
   Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
   Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
   Child of the wandering sea,
   Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreath├Ęd horn!
   While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
   As the swift seasons roll!
   Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
   Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!


1st Congregational UCC

takes in several new members - 3-23-14
under pastorate of Rev. Brittany Barber
(center of photo in the white robe)

celebrates after service last Sunday in the fellowship hall
and officially welcomes the sworn-in newcomers 

Picture taken from 2nd floor balcony
where the Sunday School rooms used to be
when this editor became a member in the 1940s

Below squib taken from a 1988 church booklet
when the church was only 150 years old.
We passed the 175 year anniversary in 2013.

Growth, thanks to new blood, continues!

read the rest in comfort and leisure in the church library.

Next event is the annual pancake supper:

Bruce, longtime member, mixes batter.
Behind him, Bill, eons-long member
waits for Bruce's fresh batter.
Note cardboard duct-taped to the floor
for easier clean-up.
All bases covered because we've been doing this
for a long time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Give breath to it or not?; Harry Nilsson; Seed; Mice, 3 blind; Murmuration

Cause and Effect

Operating out of an 1882 vintage downtown building
since 2010, but founded elsewhere in 2007
The Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News
draws its power and wisdom from animal familiarity
and the centrifugal force derived from an
old Singer flywheel.

Our desk, you see, is Grandma's sewing machine.

You could say the raccoon is foot-driven
as in - has its foot in its mouth -
once in a while.

When that flywheel builds up its force
sometimes there's no stopping it.
That's one reason this old machine
has been able to sew through layers of leather!

In tandem with the flywheel's driving force
- the mechanical advantage therefrom -
we employ animal familiarity
as a stop-gap measure that works.

If we are thinking of something to be said
or not said
while the treadle spins the wheel
we've but to look down at our cat
sitting or laying at our working feet

and divine from her expression
the sagacity of the phrases contemplated
whether they be on a poem or a current event
we ponder expressing.

Quite often KD Cat will signal



Harry Nilsson

In writing something per the above this morning
the subject was budget bottom lines
which concern finance management, an area
where I have lots of room for improvement.

In this instance it had to do with the cuts at Carroll
College (University) and I came up with a term
'bottomless line'.

That set me searching for Nilsson's song from his
THE POINT album which got lots of spins for our kids
in the 1970s. And later in the 90s.

It is still played today regularly here in the Odd Fellows hall.

Will you please throw down a lifeline?

My children David Jr., Laurie, Erin and Leland
will all recognize this song
which meant so much (means so much) to me.

Harry Nilsson was such a great song writer and vocalist
- unbelievable melody thoughts and voice breath and top range -
that he captivated the era of the 1970s for me.
His The Point rung the bells.

Of course the movie Midnight Cowboy
was a winner and had some great Nilsson tunes
that proved indelible too:


For raccoon readers additional and 2nd below - thorough info on Nilsson:

more significantly, this:

He was, as a reading of the above Wiki link tells,
a Beatles friend.  Someone once asked Paul McCartney
who his favorite singer was, and he answered,
Harry Nilsson.  He was close with John Lennon
and was deeply affected by his untimely death.

On the stove backboard here at the Odd Fellows hall is found this Mexican shadow box.

Nilsson and Lennon in Central Park NYC


current incarnation

This close-up with the new LVD Nikon P520 cam
shows the Amaryllis pod in its dried state
cracked open with seeds at the RED ARROW

Pod after flowers died;
 life cycle continues!

Thanks again to Jo Ellen McAvoy
Moderator, 1st Cong.
for this Xmas gift to Dee


My birthday mice
provided again from the clever kitchen 
of Kirsten Dobson.
Got a whole flock of them,
these are the three that WERE left,
Thanks to Kristen and Bob!

For the recipe of these chocolate mice

Only with Kirsten's mice you pull out their maraschino tails.


Sent to the Raccoon by John Helt
Colgate WI


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sewer Raccoons; Blizzard, Waukesha 1947; Chinese restaurant; Bye-bye

A downtown story

Sewer Raccoons

Yes there are such things;
why else would we have devoted
seven + years to their existence?

Granted, our local raccoons are more
picturesque rather than in sewers, when they are swimming laps
in the mighty fox - and more readily seen
by locals willing to look,

but are more often spotted west of the Clinton
and Broadway bridge in the stretch
along the Riverwalk around the locus
of the former Main Street Studebaker showroom
and riverpoints Southwest.

Kendal Lofters might have lots of photo opps
come spring and summer

but the little rascals, as we know,
  we've repeatedly told you,
enter the sewers via tight squeezes,
but once within their subterranean elements
have plenty of room to bustle about

especially at their hub meeting place -
a huge torch-lit congregating hall
beneath the old post office -
currently known as The Rotunda.

That's often where the sewer raccoons are
headed when they disappear into corner
sewer grates around the central part of town.  We've told you 
this; perhaps there is a shortage of belief, or forgetfulness?

You have only to be watchful.

They are there.

Presently there is a big renovation in Waukesha's downtown
on Clinton Street, which runs from Broadway to Wisconsin Ave.
That is where the known and marked Indian burial mounds 
are located, in Cutler Park.

It has been thought that all the digging up of Clnton Street
so close to those burial of Indian artifacts and bones
could turn up additional buried archaeological finds
beneath the road surface.

The downtown street grid was formed from very early
native American trading post footpaths.  The Five Points
are where the various trading trails converged
through the woodland forest.

Over centuries these foot paths became what they 
are today, having previous eras of street car tracks
(now long paved over)
but before that, there were muddy unthoroughfares, then planks, then brick
pavers, etc., evolution of paths turned to pavements
coming into the Five Points like spokes on a wheel.

Today Clinton Street is being excavated as we said
for utility replacements and fresh re-re-paving, 
with improvements galore for old Clinton St. and its sidewalks.

Preservation-minded folks are concerned about
what may be turned up.  Will there be ancient bones?
Arrowheads, shards of pottery, pieces of things bent just so, etc.?

Consequently we read in the local newspaper that there
are archaeologists watching the every move of the diggers,
hoping to save any objects of scientific interest,
to get to the items before they are shoveled away or
crushed under the grinding wheels of the
giant earth-moving machines working this narrow street.

Should evidence be uncovered and salvaged,
we hear that the project will be interrupted (!) while
the Five Point streets (trails) are further dug up
for what may be discovered.
tu prius negotium

This eventuality has some downtown merchants
going about their hampered-already businesses
with furrowed brows.  They are hoping against hope
that nothing is found that will further slow the
flow of their commerce.

The restored to regular-tilt, busy sale
of artwork, coffee and designer sandwiches
cannot happen too soon.

Fortunately for these mercantile coin-changers
they have allies in the sewer raccoons.
The coons are working under cover of darkness
picking up the Indian bones, pottery shards
and the like - ahead of the workmen.

They are secreting them in places where they will
never be found.  The raccoons want this big street project
finished fast, too.  They want to resume their routines
just as much as their distant relatives,
the human purveyors of arty goods.

Now, you say, raccoons are not smart enough to
reason things out like these complexities,
and you are right.

They have an ancient raccoon king leading them,
(also mentioned on these SRN pages)
calling the shots as he's done for seven or more years.
The king spends his time entirely in the grand chamber
beneath the old post office now, for he has become blind.

He may be sightless but certainly not stupid.

He dispatches his raccoon minions
through the sewers and up through the grates
to do his purloining of goods that he 'sees' the coon
community needing,

slices of pizza in the gutters, discarded
drapery samples, grapes, pieces of things bent just so.....

and so out and up they go, the gentle burglars,
- being told specifically -
given shopping lists of what to look for.
The king does have the smarts for things 
of this sort, AND, he has foreseen the urgency
of rescuing Clinton Street artifacts before
the human treasure hunters get to them.

'Everybody is happy'
those are his by-words.
Business for the merchants;
clear new sewers quickly laid
for the raccoons.

In the king's plan there are helpers
because this is a priority, an urgency
of highest degree.

Some of these assistants, people,
are motivated mainly by the milk
(coffee and tea) of human kindness.



Blizzard, Waukesha, 1947

The snow that falls so white and fresh
is quickly pushed to the sides of
the already salted streets
and more salt is spread behind the blades

The snow no matter how persevering
can't win a temporary victory
because it's not allowed to repose there
delaying commerce anymore

Snowbound in the city is an anachronism
The big blizzard of 1947, though, closed
businesses and schools, everything for days
in Waukesha Wisconsin

until the handful of plow-equipped trucks
could get around to opening all the streets,
and  the Inter-Urban electric train did not run
into Milwaukee,  so Dad was home for five days

The snow was dominant then, keeping everyone blessedly
at home, happy captives of unanticipated pass-times,
 skiing to the grocers or to the post office, drinking
 cocoa and digging tunnels outside, dawns to dusks

During cribbage games and radio shows, the wind blew
unending heavy snow all around town
And the ice-blinkered Fox Dairy horses struggled
to pull their milk wagons until they couldn't

negotiate the drifted valleys formerly known
to them as their street routes
And everything was rounded off white
for many deepening days

But now, when there is a forecast of snow
heavy or slight
armadas of municipal plows and reinforcements
of free-lancers idle their engines everywhere

loaded with tons of salt, waiting at checkpoints, ready
to make short work of any white that quietly comes
and to make the trains, trucks and everything else
run on time

The esthete dreaming of snow having dominion
over him for a just a little while
loses to technology and industry
and loses no precious time at work or school

thanks to economies dedicated to rumbling
street-clearing machines
and salt, lots of salt
And fervent salty neighbors

keeping their sidewalks absolutely clear
of Old Devil Snow, running neck and neck
toward the inevitable loss against the plowers
 who fill and re-fill the grumblers' driveways

Over clear but gray-skied days, whizzing traffic splatters
more salt onto the salt-laced drifts and the sun melts
and re-freezes the mounds into darkened, pitted reefs
of dingy black coral

And you wish for another clean, crippling snow, as in 1947



Dingy coral in gutter  3-11-14

Note red Xmas onament still holding forth
on dead evergreen boughs
leading me to muse:  DEAD EVERGREEN?
The planter ice perforce releases its grip.....
spring approaches


Chinese Restaurant

After an argument, my family always dined at the Chinese
restaurant. Something about the Orient washed the bitterness
away. Like a riverbank where you rest for awhile. The owner
bowed as we entered. The face of one who had seen too much.
A revolution. The torture of loved ones. Horrors he would never
reveal. His wife ushered us to our table. Her steps smaller than
ours. The younger daughter brought us tea. The older one took
our orders in perfect English. Each year her beauty was more
delicate than before. Sometimes we were the only customers
and they smiled from afar as we ate duck and shrimp with our
chopsticks. After dinner we sat in the comfort of their silence.
My brother told a joke. My mother folded a napkin into the shape
of a bird. My sister broke open our cookies and read our fortunes
aloud. As we left, my father always shook the old man's hand.

"Chinese Restaurant" by David Shumate, from The Floating Bridge. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008


The dismantling of ink presses

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Quakers for climate change action; Charlie McCarthy; Outreach; We talked about; Zoos revisited

Quakers for Climate Change action


initiate link via browser


A Midnight snack 
is partaken of
 using the round-these-parts
famous Charlie McCarthy spoon, it
having worked its way to the top of the
spoon slot in the kitchen drawer silverware tray.

It is just one of several spoons in that drawer
so no special care was taken to select it
for my midnight snack.

But having picked it off the top of the spoon tray
I ate my jello with pineapple -
from the can of birthday cake pineapple
left over in the ice box -

with this beloved spoon
and got to thinking about the 'raccoon'
feature potential with this spoon....

But first, the jello itself
which is a regular snack here around midnight:
We make the jello and 
ultimately keep it in the ice box
in a recycled Kemp's sherbet container.

I usually eat about half of it in a wee hour's
sitting, leave the spoon on the jello
when half-finished, and then snap on the convenient big lid
and return jello and spoon to the ice box.

If I'd known I was going to run this in the raccoon
I might have chosen a plain container
for better photography,
but per SRN custom, realism prevails,
dealing off the top of the deck.

The spoon dates back to the 1940s
as so much of my act does, further
evidenced by the use of the term ice box.

We listened in those days to the radio.

One of our favorite radio shows
was the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy program.
Here I am tuning in
with a picture over the radio console of my soldier dad
who was fighting the Nazis in WW II.
A major world fragmentation.

If you bought a particular product back then
(cereal, maybe soap or something)
you might get a silver-plate Charlie McCarthy spoon
inside with the product.
I had a Captain Midnight secret decoder ring also
which I had to mail in for...

I really wanted that spoon at the time
and so it was secured for me by my mother
Ruth Dix, later Hale.  

As to the Charlie McCarthy spoon
it has fallen to me to be the custodian of it
and I'm glad to have kept track of it
and have not lost it
as I have so many other things...

If you covet this spoon
forget it - no way
because I would not part with it
- at this moment -
when it so well assists in my midnight snacking.

It does have to work its way to the top of the drawer though.

Charlie was Edgar's dummy
Edgar was a ventriloquist
It was a day of simple humor
some will remember




(courtesy of Vicky)


We talked about the fact...

We talked about the fact that
it wasn't the danger,
it wasn't the skill,
it wasn't the applause
that made the act what it was.
It was principally the grace;
the bringing into being,
for a moment,
the beautiful thing,
the somersault,
the leap,
the entrechat on horseback.
The skill,
of course, has something to do
with it. It is pleasant
to know you can do anything
so difficult. It is good when you
have mastered it, and you are
really in competition with yourself.

"When we make a mistake in
the ring we are very angry. The
audience doesn't know, but we

But it is a pleasure
to do anything
so difficult
and do it

"We talked about the fact..." by Robert Lax from Circus Days & Nights. © The Overlook Pres



I recall someone once admitting
that all he remembered of Anna Karenina
was something about a picnic basket,

and now, after consuming a book
devoted to the subject of Barcelona—
its people, its history, its complex architecture—

all I remember is the mention
of an albino gorilla, the inhabitant of a park
where the Citadel of the Bourbons once stood.

The sheer paleness of her looms over
all the notable names and dates
as the evening strollers stop before her

and point to show their children.
These locals called her Snowflake,
and here she has been mentioned again in print

in the hope of keeping her pallid flame alive
and helping her, despite her name, to endure
in this poem where she has found another cage.

Oh, Snowflake,
I had no interest in the capital of Catalonia—
its people, its history, its complex architecture—

no, you were the reason
I kept my light on late into the night
turning all those pages, searching for you everywhere.


A 1981 letter we sent to the Milwukee Journal on the subject of zoo gorillas