Saturday, June 24, 2017

Walking stick; We got paid; Cane wind(water)fall; Land of make believe

Leon Redbone
My walking stick


A Visitation predicted
by charged stained glass reflection on wall
a few days earlier:

On Thursday June 22 we were paid a visit

by old friend from Albany CA , John Guardalabene
or as SRN readers are more used to hearing him referred to,
 simply 206.

Meeting in the early 1970s as recruits into the fleet
of Boynton Yellow Cabs, Edison St., Milwaukee, we as as incoming trainees
we came to know early that there was something about our random intersection
 that would have meaning and last.

And last it has.  We have stayed in regular touch with each other, though
our lives would take us far apart and in vastly different directions.

206 went on to making a PBS documentary on the Dolpos tribe
in high altitude Tibet near the China border.
He was taking a job as a cabdriver to raise money for the
project, which was successfully done.

Barley field, Dolpos, insular high mountain society

Subsequently 206 got a law degree and a master of fine arts.
He married Toni, shown below trying out a Vulcan Weathervanes
cosmic radio of long ago design and fabrication.

John and Toni were in WI this week to help resolve
some family matters and he blocked enough time
in a busy schedule to come to South Street - under intense
construction obstacles at present - and find his way to our door.

It had been many years since we laid eyes on each other.
I was honored that the Sixian took the time to seek me out,
yet somehow not surprised for our deep friendship has survived.

206 and this former cabdriver were the players in the SRN drama
of the story of Gertie, the discoverer of the folding dollar bill in the
phone coin return.


Friday, January 11, 2008

A finger in the phone

for Gertie
In the 70's I drove a Yellow cab. At that time, my cab number was 202, and my best friend was driving 206. He and I often met for breakfast in a small cafe on East Ogden street. There was a regular customer who frequented the restaurant named Gertie. We never found out much about her, but we thought she was from the neighborhood, maybe from a walk-up apartment above one of the stores lining the block.
Gertie was chubby, elderly, and always wore non-descript clothes; house dresses, with a cotton apron tied around her. She had a great habit of always checking the pay phone for coins. She did this every time we were in there. 206 and I would see her coming through the plate glass window and know her first move on entering the cafe would be to root around in the coin return slot, for luck. Expressionless. Perfunctory follow-through before taking a stool at the counter.
One day 206 and I had the idea of sticking a whole dollar bill in the coin slot for Gertie to find. We did it like casting a fat worm into a pond. Having lined the phone with a buck we waited for Gertie. Show she did, and went right over, per her custom, to stick a finger in the phone.
Gertie wasn't playing with a full deck, and was obviously not well-off. This dollar would be seen by her as a pot of gold bullion at the end of her rainbow, while to us well-off, tip-earning cabdrivers, it was nothing.
We sat at the counter in our usual places and watched Gertie in the mirror behind the counter as she plumbed the phone. The look on her face I'll never forget, and I know 206 won't, either, because we still reminisce about it.
We talk on the phone, he from CA and me from WI, often. 206 was driving cab to save money to go back to Nepal to make a documentary film on the Dolpo tribe, a high-altitude Himalayan society then only recently known to the western world. He'd been there scouting, once before. (The film was later shown successfully, on PBS.)
Gertie immediately struck pay-dirt with the dollar, which she received in this way: Looking furtively left and right over her hovering shoulders, hunching to protect her good fortune, Gertie tried to look regular as she quickly pocketed the dollar in her apron. She had an expression of a cat that swallowed the canary, trying so hard to appear as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary, but she didn't have the face for it.
206 and I never fessed-up to her, and after exchanging smiles went on eating our bacon and eggs. I think we laced that phone a few more times for Gertie. Those dollars were nothing to us, because we were rich.


After this tale was related in the Raccoon, 206 replied in his customary style, to wit:

Email from 206 Albany CA
re:  our story of Gertie and the dollar bill

Dear 202,

In the Prologue of his Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind Roshi Suzuki writies:  “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Gertie’s gleeful discovery of the dollar you or I placed in the coin return raises the question:  there in that restaurant in whose mind were the possibilities the greatest? 

On the road,


206 in his 6-22-17 incarnation below

said further on the subject of Gertie the following

-- Original Message ----- From: John Guardalabene To: David Dix Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2010 11:30 AM Subject: Re: 6, meet Blei

My Dear Cup,

There’s a lesson (probably more than one) in our experience with Gertie. Most people in finding paper money rolled up in the coin return of a pay phone—if there are any such public instruments remaining—would conclude that the cash was planted and either take it or leave but walk away with a smile.

Gertie was not limited in this way. The possibilities in life were open-ended to her. While she guarded her find, there was no ironic look on her face. If something good in the form of a coin could come out of a pay phone, why not something better?

Sometimes I think that intelligence, or what passes for intelligence, is our worst enemy. This can work on both the individual and collective level. What’s the point of trying this or that if it’s inconsistent with our experience and the way we believe the world works.

We save our energy for the tried and true. Flying outside the flock can result in permanent separation. Even expressing unorthodox opinions can result in very unpleasant consequences, including the loss of one’s life. The Inquisition of the Catholic Church didn’t condemn every victim to death but certainly must have discouraged many from pursuing a life of science.

The Chinese cultural revolution didn’t prevent China from going capitalist but it ruined many families and ended many lives prematurely and violently.

My point is that craziness is simply a label and often one that we apply to others because of our own self-interests, inadequacies or shortcomings. I’m not suggesting Gertie was an ignored genius whose brilliance or contributions to society will one day be obvious.

I’m merely saying that Gertie’s ability to accept what we would view as the impossible is something worth reflecting on.

Your Brother at the wheel,



Our discussions this week included of course the downward trajectory of things American symbolized by the Trump presidency. John brought up the Indian Bhagavad Gita and how much of an accurate description of Trump is defined in the Hindu study on Evil vs Good.



In the 1980s

we took to beachcombing
at the Schlitz Audubon  reserve
on Lake Michigan at Bayside
north of Milwaukee

Sometimes we saw momentary things washed up the shore,
 finds that took our interest

example:  a shard of tree particle
that when brought home became
a tropical bird without altering the shard
except with paint and the addition
of a swatch of  sheep fur.

from the  J. Guardalabene collection

Another time we captured
a rhino in the rough
that became a pot lid
now much used and washed,
acrylic paint still holding up.

On another Audubon excursion
we found a small tree trunk survival-bent
90 degrees at the edge of the bending surf.
With the sanded root ball it became the cane we now
 need and use - or learn to use - in our hip break
recovery days underway.

Lake Michigan beach-comber 1987
note our red-handled folding boy scout saw next to left foot


Land of make believe

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Round adventure; The raccoons are coming; Don't worry, be happy

Emily, occupational therapist, Linden Grove Rehab, Mukwonago
expects her first child, a girl, very soon.

Pictured here she plays bounce the balloon with the rehabbing SRN editor
testing his ability to balance standing no-hands within his walker to send back
the orb she bumped from random angles.
We were smitten by her roundness similarity with the balloon
held aloft and her gate-belt supporting of her little girl to be.

Photo taken a month ago
With our Lower Crustacean LC cell cam.
We bid Emily and the other therapists adieu 5-31-17
She was working then and getting much rounder.

I wonder?

Another roundness, from 2001 A Space Oddysey

You're going to have fun

Round adventure


While the City Sleeps
Waukeshans complacently enjoy their town-grown-to-city
With it’s well-policed, clean, safe streets
And the cerulean blue skies overhead;
Or when it rains

The rain washing everything anew and flowing
If heavy
Away like dirty bathwater down the drain
Out of sight, out of mind;  oh yes,

We think of everything and take for granted
That the solid terra-firma plane on which we work and play
 IS as storybooked as it appears
And that the sky overhead here is relatively terrorless

That covers two of the three physical dimensions
But we never think about the seething subterranean world
Beneath the city where that dirty bathwater flows
Unless we happen to be with the Sanitation Department

And as far as I know, they aren’t talking;
My friends, we co-exist over a nether-world
About which we never think
And the Sewer Raccoons down there - that’s right - count on our ignorance;

Their profligacy festers beneath us
Growing daily, like whiskers becoming a dread-locked beard
But we don’t know it because we trust in our local government
And in what we see

The coons, woe to us!  phantoms of this opera are
Just a few feet beneath Waukesha in archen coves and caverns
Until nightfall when every storm grate at every corner
Becomes an open doorway into our elysian yards and gardens;

Marauders on velvet paws which they keep licking, masked,
They steal about under cover of nocturnal shadows, late,
When the windows of our proud houses show black; 
It’s then the Sewer Coons take over the town;   by day,

These slick creatures have free rein in their underworld
Bartering our garden produce in little shops and bazaars
In their sub-city
Where they swarm and reproduce like rabbits;

They have their own school district where all the little coons
Study burglary and ankle-nipping;
So far they are content with their lowly position, hence,
The Sanitation Department, the Mayor and the Aldermen

Only monitor them and do not tell us of their spreading presence
 An Amos or a Paul Revere I send this warning
For I live nearer the Fox River in one of the town’s ruder huts
And the Sewer Coons are, though proliferating

Concentrated only in our poorer neighborhoods at the present time;
By the railroad tracks and the Fox River waterway,
But the storm sewer web is beneath us all, free and accessible
And even now no one is safe

I have again lately seen the coons emerge from the grate at our corner
As has my wife;  we know the desolation
Of having our grapes stolen from our vines;
We’ve actually heard the coons’ little “chick-chick-chick” sounds;

Close-up, we’ve seen the phosphorescent reflection of their eyes
In our flashlight beams; they run, are not brazen yet – oh, no -
Carrying little bindles over their hump-ed shoulders
And make their dash back to their grated holes,

Furred hit-and-run warriors, in place,
Waiting for their messiah to come, perhaps from Milwaukee or Chicago
The Really Big Raccoon King, to marshal them into an invading army,
Meanwhile waxing stronger in secret on grapes and sacked left-overs;

And sometimes we think we can hear muffled “tink”s
As they pound on their tiny anvils under Arcadian Avenue
Making suits of armor on foot-pumped forges; flaring
Light seems to flash from the gratings after the clock has struck twelve

And I go out and listen at my corner sewer entrance
And hear their “YO-OH, HO HO!” chants
Echoing softly up from below;
The Sewer Raccoons are coming, the Sewer Raccoons are coming!

[David Dix]


Cousin Mark comes up from Brooklyn, Iowa
on his motor cycle to see the phenomenon, points at the sewer raccoons
while SRN Ed. observes


KD stretches 

KD Cat arises from nap on birdseed shopping bag
made by Gramaw Means - Dee's mother - 
of Pleasant Valley, MD


don't worry
be happy
song by Bob Marley

performed by Playing For Change
Music Around the World

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Feeding me; Earthing; Getting numb; Felling; Flying by night

will you still need me
will you still feed me
when I'm.....81?

Still operative into week 2 out of rehab.
 This picture from 
Alaskan daughter Laurie
of baby birds
the sort we're all familiar with

The wide open mouths shooting for
better  catching of bugs dropped
over their sibling's ditto gapings

every creature imploring -
ME, feed ME!

Widened hoop's diameters
for game-winning buckets

before a final buzzer

Or archery targets with 
double-size bullseyes

it comes down to a cry
borne by all:


Another picture this week
came over the wire from daughter Laurie
she who makes unusual suggestions at times.

She urged me to go out on the flower bedded veranda
at Linden Grove Mukwonago
and take off my moccasins and stand
barefooted on the earth.

Below she is standing thus on the grasses, moss and clover
outside her home in Wasilla.

When recently in Wisconsin where she grew up
she told recuperatng me, wheel-chaired,
to conduct myself accordingly.

I said could I wait until I get home
on South St.?  I could go to the nearest bed of grass
outside our courtyard and stand amidst the
cigarette butts and dog waste

of our rented earth.

Laurie saw probably that this was another
example of her dad being not with it.

Laurie  Dix Kari grounding in  AK
Note variety of greenery upon which she stands

Wanting to know more
I went to Google and checked earthing out.
I found this website

I also checked my old health guru
Dr. Andrew Weil on the web
and found this:

Is There Anything to "Earthing"?

I recently read about the practice of “earthing” – the idea that walking barefoot outside will “ground” us and make us healthier. Is there any scientific basis for these claims?
– JANUARY 8, 2013

“Earthing” also called “grounding” stems from the idea that in modern city life we no longer have direct physical contact with the Earth, and therefore are losing out on purported health benefits of exchanging electrons with the surface of our planet. A handful of small studies have found that grounding appears to provide some general health benefits, such as better sleep, less pain, reduced stress and tension, and better immune function compared to study participants who weren’t grounded. One study suggested that earthing eliminates the potentially harmful effects of the electromagnetic fields given off by all the electronic devices that surround us.
According to earthing proponents, you can ground yourself by walking outside barefoot, sitting on the ground or being connected to the Earth via grounding devices that transfer electrons from the earth to your body. There are even special shoes that feature copper contacts the soles, linking the body to the earth.
Supposedly, electrons drawn into the body from the earth neutralize damaging free radicals and by extension reduce disease-related chronic or acute inflammation. In one investigation, participants slept on a special mat that had a connection to a grounding device outside the house. When compared to the ungrounded participants in the same study, the grounded ones showed significant changes in key biomarkers including serum sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, total protein and others.
Earthing enthusiasts claim that throughout history, our ancestors walked barefoot or wore shoes made from animal skins, which gave them direct contact with the Earth. Of course, for the most part those ancestors, grounded or not, lived short, hard lives for a variety of reasons, so it is difficult to draw conclusions about the effect of grounding, if any, on their overall health.
We’ll need additional studies of better design and with more participants before we can know whether it is really possible to derive health benefits from earthing. While the studies done so far are intriguing, some of the hype for earthing is over-the-top. I don’t buy the extravagant claim by one proponent that, “You can literally feel the pain draining from your body as soon as you touch the earth.” Is that something you’ve noticed whenever you’ve stood barefoot in your backyard or kicked off your sandals at the beach?
Be aware that there’s a substantial commercial aspect to earthing. One website that I visited sells a range of equipment, including earthing beds said to do what “no other mattress on the planet can…(reconnect) you to the Earth’s gentle, natural healing energy while you sleep.”
I’m all for going barefoot whenever possible, outdoors or in. It simulates the feet and can be very relaxing. Those who practice reflexology often recommend walking barefoot on round stones to help stimulate pressure points on the feet, and I’ve written on this site about the relatively new enthusiasm for barefoot running, which (when you get used to it) is supposed to be less jarring and less likely to lead to injuries. As for earthing, let’s wait see if future research confirms and expands on the very little we know now.
Andrew Weil, M.D.


Note the visible vibrating of the bass strings


Was the slaughter on South St. today
an accident?

One of the beautiful 
gingko trees we've heralded so often
in the Raccoon was knocked over sometime today.
And not by a night vandal.

Did it happen because one of the heavy machines 
doing the renovation work on the being-reborn street
in historic downtown Waukesha 
carelessly drove over it?

There must be witnesses to this event.
We only know that there is a sorry broken tree
lying in a green clump on the 
rotunda parking area.

This tree had much going for it.
Joy and grace for passers-by.
It will not join its brother and sister Gingko trees
running the length of of our South street section.

Downtown business owners and their customers who went past it 
on their way to famed Dady-Oh's restaurant
traversing the short jaunt from the parking ramp
to their destination will not have that tree anymore.

What of the Berg management folk who would have walked
beneath the cruelly-stopped branches?

We took a sprig of leaves from the reposing corpse
to bring into our home  in the South St. 1882 Putney bldg.

Ironically the stem had to be beaten in a briefly violent way
like the trunk was broken in full.  This was done to increase the leaves
recovery in our Mason jar vase. 

For more on the South St. Gingkos:


Fly by night

Rev. Tom Bentz, Ret'd, Delaware by the sea

A fleeting squadron of tiny flying things  
(Fly, gnat, moth, mosquito, something with fast fluttering translucent wings)
That are drawn to the torch of my unscreened porch laplight   
Land and scan or cross the lines of this poem as it comes from me to the screen.
We meet here only in passing.  
They appear to have nothing in mind but light and heat on a simmering summer night.
Though the heirs of millennia, they now barely matter to me
As they flutter in and by for a day or night or few,
While I, fitting survivor and victor of evolution,
Have in mind, if not in sight,
Infinity and eternity,
Epic poetry,
Or at least a few lines
That might fly
In that direction
Toward the light 
Not in
But beyond
Our sight.   

Rec'd 6-10-17