Sunday, September 21, 2014

Once; Headed for a dance; Dawn downtown

Please note:  this Raccoon is posted SATURDAY
not Sunday as is stated by Google,

...maybe conferring for the SRN collector
added value in printing it out
as is the case for the Jenny stamp
briefly printed upside-down -
now worth thousands:


Saturday Raccoon 9-27-14 as follows:


the train has left the
station you can't take it
Once the promise has been
broke you can't unbreak it.

If the letter has been sent
you can't rewrite it.
If the cigarette's been smoked
you can't not light it.

Not the candle's snuffed
you can't see by it.
Once the seat's been sold
no one can buy it.*
The phone is disconnected:
don't talk to it.
The window's painted black;
you won't see through it.

The scotch tape end is lost,
you can't unwind it.
The earring's in the lake;
you'll never find it.

And now the money's squandered—
you can't give it
back. And time is short;
you have to live it.

"Once" by Jonathan Galassi, from Left-Handed. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. 

* Regarding 'seat's been sold':

Yesterday, I saw two old church folding chairs in the show window of Burlap and Lace repurposing shop around the corner from us on Grand Ave.  They were printed 'Trinity Cong.' on the back.  Congregational church basement seating, the old-fashioned wooden kind.

 As I've had a fondness for folding things, I ruminated over these chairs for a day:

Old Poem

Today I inquired about these chairs of the manager  of the store.  She today had them set up outside her shop in the sidewalk with other miscellany nicely displayed.

She said they were today 15% off, so I could get them for $15 ea less 15%.

I bought them right off the street.

Otherwise they were gonna be SO sold out there in plain sight.




Play this:


Of a morning this week:

Sitting in my chair at the Odd Fellows
I watched the effects on out-of-the-night clouds
as the sun rose.
"Red Sails in the Sun(rise)"
(We heard from others subsequently that they had marveled over this sunrise sky, too. 9-25)

Just before that (5 AM), having heard the tell-tale chains
rattling off the shackled outdoor furniture
at Dave's Cafe

signaling his (Jose's) outdoor ambiance
was ready for his contingent
of early morning smokers
and any other patrons;

three regulars took their post
at curbside under the then un-sunned umbrella.
The cigar smoker,
the pipe smoker,
the cigarette smoker.

Different vapours in the undarkening 
as the days grow shorter.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Technical difficulties on Google blogsite, so a redo of this section which we want to come off right

Ray Lyle
WHS class of 1954

I lost track of Ray after we finished Sunday School and youth group years in the 1940's at the 1st Congregational church, Waukesha.

We had been close childhood friends then.  I did not hang out with Ray during WHS days.  I can't remember why not.

(Sally von Briesen wrote here after the obit appeared: "I remember being in the musical "New Moon" with Ray Lyle, Susie Tradewell, Jerry Larson, Frankie Marzocco, my sister Judy Martin, and many others.  Judy Morey, for one,  It was a big cast.  Ray had the lead." See photo above, Ray on the right.

I do remember Ray as kind and friendly with a great singing voice.

When I heard of him from time to time in later life I thought it was cool of him to choose milkman as his career.  I thought of him in that regard when I drove a Milwaukee Yellow Cab in the first half of the 1970's.

Those years spawned an enjoyment of writing simple Edgar Guest-style poems as follows from the Boynton Cab Co. union news letter, The Trip Ticket:

 (Frank Beck was the mgr of the cab company)

We are Beck’s minions bold and brave
each day we go a-driving
And some are bald and some don’t shave
Yet all each day are striving

We pay our money and take our chance
Piloting Yellows by the seat of our pants
Through the maelstrom of traffic we fearlessly dance
And at flag-up our loads are still living

We cabbies are lowly, many assay
Our job does yield little station
The dregs of the work force, bottom-rungers, they say
Back-washed from proud civilization

But didn’t we cheer the maudlin, brace up the drunk?
Didn’t we ferry them all, dog, chippie and monk?
Didn’t we treat them as equals though some might have stunk?
Yes, with verve and no small dedication

So take heart, fellow driver, heed what’s here writ
You’re a hero, a champion, a darer with grit
That you can’t quote the market
Doesn’t matter one whit
It’s your guts that call forth admiration

I’m proud to be with you, black men and white
Together on call on the streets day and night
We perform our service. Getting rich? No not quite
Yet to us be there be joy and libation

Yet to us be there be joy and libation

[David Dix in Cab No. 202 8-1973]


Ray's dad was veterinarian Dr. Clyde Lyle.  He had his clinic in the early days on Barstow Street across from now Discount Liquor, then Sears.  That was adjacent to the old Stock Pavilion where as some of us will remember it was the scene of the Friday farmers coming to town.

Large turn-outs at the stock pavilion of farmers and their cattle where the beasts would be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Then, according to Ray (told to us in Sunday School) his dad would move in with his castrating tools to neuter the steers.

Ray used to joke that his dad made a small fortune de-testicling these animals, lickety-spilt, right down the line.  Ray got to help.




 another 1954 classmate gone, not forgotten

Scotland, 'land of the heather...'; Elephant eye; Grandchilden; Benchley; Eating honey and locusts OK

Scotland the Brave

I come by my Scottish heritage in this way:

My grandmother was Myrtle Nicholson Dix.
Her ancestors hailed from the Isle Of Skye, Scotland.
She was proud of this and instilled in her progeny
a due respect for that history.

Shown above she tends her lilies in her retirement
in Modesto, CA.  Previously and for many years she resided in Iowa with
her husband, my grandfather Ray, who with her is mentioned
several times in the Raccoon. They both passed in Modesto.

I mention this lore because Scotland is very much in the news.

I have worn and worn my Nicholson Scottish tam
over many years, often to church, but in many other settings.

And the McDonald
Scotland the Brave
link at the beginning
of this section:

I played this CD for Myrtle's
son Leslie, my father, at a visit in his last year
of life in Virginia
and he requested it over and over
as he sat in his couch smiling,
with his eyes closed.


Remember this, ye Dixlings, and think of your dad/grandfather
smiling and listening...


The eyes have it


Nobody knows
 except for National Geographic
reading types

Nobody knows the trouble they've  seen...

Toward a better day
Glory hallelujah



They disappear with friends
near age 11. We lose them
to baseball and tennis, garage
bands, slumber parties, stages
where they rehearse for the future,
ripen in a tangle of love knots.
With our artificial knees and hips
we move into the back seats
of their lives, obscure as dust
behind our wrinkles, and sigh
as we add the loss of them
to our growing list of the missing.

Sometimes they come back,
carting memories of sugar cookies
and sandy beaches, memories of how
we sided with them in their wars
with parents, sided with them
even as they slid out of our laps
into the arms of others.

Sometimes they come back
and hold onto our hands
as if they were the thin strings
of helium balloons
about to drift off.

"Grandchildren" by Stiffler, from Otherwise, We Are Safe. © Dos Madres Press, 2013



Robert Charles Benchley (September 15, 1889 – November 21, 1945) was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper and The New Yorker columnist, etc. etc.
including  numerous short subjects star I saw at the old Bucket of Blood theater (The Avon, Waukesha)

He wrote this, much to my mother and father's amusement:

(* Ruth was the 1940's church organist at the 1st Cong. church of Waukesha)

The Church Supper

The social season in our city ends up with a bang for the summer when the Strawberry Festival at the Second Congregational Church is over. After that you might as well die. Several people have, in fact.

The Big Event is announced several weeks in advance in that racy sheet known as the "church calendar," which is slipped into the pews by the sexton before anyone has a chance to stop him. There, among such items as a quotation from a recent letter from Mr. and Mrs. Wheelock (the church's missionaries in China who are doing a really splendid work in the face of a shortage of flannel goods), and the promise that Elmer Divvit will lead the Intermediate Christian Endeavor that afternoon, rain or shine, on the subject of "What Can I Do to Increase the Number of Stars in My Crown?" we find the announcement that on Friday night, June the 8th, the Ladies of the Church will unbelt with a Strawberry Festival to be held in the vestry and that, furthermore, Mrs. William Horton MacInting will be at the head of the Committee in Charge. 

Surely enough good news for one day!

The Committee is then divided into commissary groups, one to provide the short-cake, another to furnish the juice, another the salad, and so on, until everyone has something to do except Mrs. MacInting, the chairman. She agrees to furnish the paper napkins and to send her car around after the contributions which the others are making. Then, too, there is the use of her name.

The day of the festival arrives, bright and rainy. All preparations are made for a cozy evening in defiance of the elements; so when, along about four in the afternoon, it clears and turns into a nice hot day, everyone is caught with rubbers and steamy mackintoshes, to add to the fun. For, by four o'clock in the afternoon, practically everyone in the parish is at the vestry "helping out," as they call it.

"Helping out" consists of putting on an apron over your good clothes, tucking up the real lace cuffs, and dropping plates. The scene in the kitchen of the church at about five-thirty in the afternoon is one to make a prospective convert to Christianity stop and think. Between four and nine thousand women, all wearing aprons over black silk dresses, rush back and forth carrying platters of food, bumping into each other, hysterical with laughter, filling pitchers with hot coffee from a shiny urn, and poking good-natured fun at Mr. Numaly and Mr. Dow, husbands who have been drafted into service and who, amid screams of delight from the ladies, have also donned aprons and are doing the dropping of the heavier plates and ice-cream freezers.

"Look at Mr. Dow!" they cry. "Some good-looking girl you make, Mr. Dow!"
"Come up to my house, Mr. Numaly, and I'll hire you to do our cooking."
"Alice says for Mr. Numaly to come up to her house and she'll hire him as a cook! Alice, you're a caution!"

And so it goes, back and forth, good church-members all, which means that their banter contains nothing off-color and, by the same token, nothing that was coined later than the first batch of buffalo nickels.

In the meantime, the paying guests are arriving out in the vestry and are sniffing avidly at the coffee aroma, which by now has won its fight with the smell of musty hymn books which usually dominates the place. They leave their hats and coats in the kindergarten room on the dwarfed chairs and wander about looking with weekday detachment at the wall-charts showing the startling progress of the Children of Israel across the Red Sea and the list of gold-star pupils for the month of May. Occasionally they take a peek in at the kitchen and remark on the odd appearance of Messrs. Numaly and Dow, who by this time are just a little fed up on being the center of the taunting and have stopped answering back.

The kiddies, who have been brought in to gorge themselves on indigestible strawberry concoctions, are having a gay time tearing up and down the vestry for the purpose of tagging each other. They manage to reach the door just as Mrs. Camack is entering with a platter full of cabbage salad, and later she explains to Mrs. Reddy while the latter is sponging off her dress that this is the last time she is going to have anything to do with a church supper at which those Basnett children are allowed. The Basnett children, in the meantime, oblivious of this threat, are giving all their attention to slipping pieces of colored chalk from the blackboard into the hot rolls which have just been placed on the tables. And, considering what small children they are, they are doing remarkably well at it.

At last everyone is ready to sit down. In fact, several invited guests do sit down, and have to be reminded that Dr. Murney has yet to arrange the final details of the supper with Heaven before the chairs can be pulled out. This ceremony, with the gentle fragrance of strawberries and salad rising from the table, is one of the longest in the whole list of church rites; and when it is finally over there is a frantic scraping of chairs and clatter of cutlery and babble of voices which means that the hosts of the Lord have completed another day's work in the vineyard and are ready, nay, willing, to toy with several tons of foodstuffs.

The adolescent element in the church has been recruited to do the serving, but only a few of them show up at the beginning of the meal. The others may be found by any member of the committee frantic enough to search them out, sitting in little groups of two on the stairs leading up to the organ loft or indulging in such forms of young love as tie-snatching and braid-pulling up in the study.

The unattached youths and maids who are induced to take up the work of pouring coffee do it with a vim but very little skill. Pouring coffee over the shoulder of a person sitting at a long table with dozens of other people is a thing that you ought to practice weeks in advance for, and these young people step right in on the job without so much as a dress rehearsal. The procedure is, or should be, as follows:

Standing directly behind the person about to be served, say in a loud but pleasant voice: "Coffee?" If the victim wishes it, he or she will lift the cup from the table and hold it to be filled, with the left forefinger through the handle and bracing the cup against the right upper-arm. The pourer will then have nothing to do but see to it that the coffee goes from the pitcher to the cup.

Where the inexperienced often make a mistake is in reaching for the cup themselves and starting to pour before finding out if the victim wants coffee. This results in nine cases out of six in the victim's turning suddenly and saying: "No coffee, thank you, please!", jarring the arm of the pourer and getting the coffee on the cuff.

For a long time nothing is heard but the din of religious eating and then gradually, one by one, forks slip from nerveless fingers, chairs are scraped back, and the zealots stir heavily to their feet. All that remains is for the committee to gather up the remains and congratulate themselves on their success.

The next event in the calendar will not be until October, when the Men's Club of the church will prepare and serve a supper of escalloped oysters and hot rolls. Join now and be enrolled for labor in the vineyard in the coming year.

- From Benchley Beside HImself -

(Remember this was written in the late 1920s, but there is some similarity today.)


More KD Cat news

KD Cat reposes/tangles
white belly 'V for Victory'
sign showing, tangles with
her best friend in our 
poor man's penthouse:

The Hekkers gift of
a lamb's wool duster

to fit supposedly
on the end of the length
bamboo fishing pole
we have also received from Tom to 
the height of the ceiling
in this 1882 building
where we live on the top floor.

KD, hidden in a jungle of spider plant leaves
relentlessly stares at a mourning dove sitting
on the landing skylight edge.

See its shadow at the left side.
The skylight, of which we have three,
is transluscent (cannot see through it)
yet KD knows it is one of her vaunted
birdie playmates, or - favorite imaginary dishes.


Honeyed Locusts
Leviticus 11:2

William's birthday suckers:

Our pewmate, William

is newly 14 years of age

and he has a thing for eating insects currently
So Dee went to our local haute -cuisine chocolatier 
- Allo Chocolat -
and got William some gourmet cricket suckers.
 We will drop them off at Wm's today,
 his birthday.

Sunlight bathes Wm in back where we sit
in the peanut gallery of the 1st Congo.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bye-bye summer; Silver bullet, The moon from St. Paul


Just when you'd begun to feel
You could rely on the summer,
That each morning would deliver
The same mourning dove singing
From his station on the phone pole,
The same smell of bacon frying
Somewhere in the neighborhood,
The same sun burning off
The coastal fog by noon,
When you could reward yourself
For a good morning's work
With lunch at the same little seaside cafe
With its shaded deck and iced tea,
The day's routine finally down
Like an old song with minor variations,
There comes that morning when the light
Tilts ever so slightly on its track,
A cool gust out of nowhere
Whirlwinds a litter of dead grass
Across the sidewalk, the swimsuits
Are piled on the sale table,
And the back of your hand,
Which you thought you knew,
Has begun to look like an old leaf.
Or the back of someone else's hand.

"August" by George Bilgere, from The Good Kiss. © Akron, 2002.


Woody Allen
told this joke back in the 1970's;

"I was walking down the street
past this high rise hotel

when a crazed man threw
a Gideon bible out an upper window.
It hit me at high speed in the chest.

If it hadn't been for this silver bullet
I always carry in my breast pocket

that bible could have passed right through my heart!"

I, same age as Woody Allen (78),
had my silver pacemaker replaced
in the hospital last Friday.

There were no Gideon bibles around then
but in 2005 if it hadn't been for that
 pacemaker [and some related heart-work]

well, uh..........

The replacment was successful too.


Our pledge (updated)

We here at the Sewer Raccoon News
are common men

(and women);
we are not afraid to live underground
in less than savory environs
holding together an organ
set up for us by son Leland
now seven years ago.

We are maintaining
on an old computer.
(Not anymore!)
It, we, and the format of the SRN
are held together with clarinet reeds
and scotch tape.
(Not anymore!)

More modern methods of blogging
involve lots of pretty designs
and sometimes even falling snowflakes
with white on black background fields

but we are truly common men
of the Lower Crustacean species.
This is NOT an upper crust endeavor.

Feel at liberty to exercise
your delete button at any time.
It won't hurt us.
We shall keep on going
to the end
of something.

Fanfare for the Common Man



A picture of the moon
taken by former special agent
Robert Heeschen from his yard in St. Paul.

He got the shot with his Sony Cyber compact
with 80 power electronic zoom.

Bob held it against his fence, exhaled and held it
while he ever so lighfully and hopefully pushed the shutter.

Like Woody and me, is also 78 yrs old.


Choose Something Like a Star

(or a moon)

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud—
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
 when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

"Choose Something Like a Star" by Robert Frost, from Collected Poems, Prose & Plays. © The Library of America, 1995



Saturday, September 6, 2014

First flight; Les Paul over the rainbow; Summer ends; North star

First Flight
from Sibelius Finlandia link
great photography


This is my song
Oh gods of all the nations
A song of peace for lands so far away
This is my home, a country where my heart is
Here grew my hopes and dreams for all mankind
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight shines on clover leaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
Oh hear my prayer, o gods of all the nations
A song of peace for their lands and for mine




The Summer Ends

The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth's green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.

"The Summer Ends" by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir. © Counterpoint Press, 1999

North Star

In Hanko, Finland
a young woman boards
the vessel in the Baltic
for a ship across the Atlantic.
The North Star shines in the sky.
She's carrying in her valise
a change of clothes
a packet of seeds
and the sauna dipper.
Distance pours between constellations
between English words on her tongue
through storms and sun.
In New York City, she buys
a one way ticket
boards the train going
across the continent
arrives on an inland sea.
The winter ground underfoot
is familiar with frost
as she transfers to a northbound
along the Vermilion Trail
in Minnesota.
Ahead of her waits a man
a house to be built
and a fire that burns it down.
Ahead, eleven children
to bear, a few she must bury,
the cows in the barn
needing to be milked.
Unbroken ground only hers to till.
Above her, the North Star
inside the aurora borealis, northern
banners waving welcome —

"North Star" by Sheila Packa, from Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range. © Wildwood River Press, 20