This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form without prior authorization. Flovent for cats Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as lung function tests, eye exams, bone density tests, cortisol levels) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reaction(including very rare anaphylactic reaction). Advair instructions This website is funded and developed by GSK.

Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

PLEASE NOTE: The articles archived here were originally posted to the online community resource; many internal textual and hyper-textual references to that site remain as written.

GP Box 11/19/06

Garden 7/10/07


July 31, 2007 Sowing Seed

My Kickapoo Valley friends called some of the plants on their property ‘volunteer’ plants’. I wondered what that meant and they explained they were plants they had not planted but the seed had taken root on their land. I know about these plants since I find them often in the garden and in the GP sunroom box. I noticed today a ‘volunteer’ plant in my garden; a sunflower was ready to bloom.

It was not as large as the volunteer sunflower in front of their house. This sunflower, pictured on the side, has grown higher than their roof but, like mine, has not bloomed yet.

Until now most of the volunteer plants I have discovered have been tomato and squash plants. It seems that their seeds survive the compost pile and thrive in the enriched soil. I am always surprised and glad that grass and weeds do not survive and are not good ‘volunteer plants.’

It is easy to understand how sunflowers spread so well. Once the sunflower flower dries the birds have a field day eating the seeds. On a windy day the sunflower seeds scatter, blowing in the wind. My volunteer sunflowers probably came from my neighborhood that has a number of sunflowers growing in their yard.

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spaniard of the 16th century who was the founder of the Society of Jesus, known also as Jesuits. St. Ignatius planted a lot of ‘seeds’ that have grown over the years and formed Ignatian Spirituality, which has greatly influenced many persons, including myself.

It was appropriate that in the gospel scripture reading today Jesus explains to his followers a parable about sowing seed. At the end of his explanation of the parable Jesus says: “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” The seeds of Ignatian Spirituality have certainly affected the way I hear and perceive life.

What is called creative nonviolence, as practiced by Jesus, Martin Luther King and Gandhi have also influenced my way of hearing and seeing? Some years ago I started to see and hear the connection between Ignatian Spirituality and Creative Nonviolence. I went searching for writings that articulated this connection of thought but found little. There was a lot on Ignatian Spirituality and a lot on Creative Nonviolence but not many had articulated the strong connection I felt between the two.

So today, when we celebrate the life of St. Ignatius I started a new wiki web page called Ignatian Spirituality and Creative Nonviolence. I wrote an introduction but hope to get contributions from those who can articulate Creative Nonviolence or Ignatian Spirituality, or better yet, the connection.

Maybe the seed of this wiki web page will grow and maybe not. But if ‘volunteer plants’ take seed this one planted in the fertile soil of the Internet and Milwaukee Renaissance will hopefully grow.

July 30, 2007 Another Kind of Kale

Visiting friends in the Kickapoo valley country last weekend I noticed that in their large garden they had different varieties of the same plant, be it beans, potatoes, tomatoes and othes. I saw one huge Kale plant that looked like our Kale plants and next to it a completely different looking kale plant. This purple kale, like the other plants in same the category, had a different look and taste but was still Kale and in the same family as collards, cabbage and other plants.

My friends planted a mix of plants of the same type sometimes for different purposes, like a cucumber for pickling and a cucumber for slicing. Often, however, it was for a slightly different tasate. It is in the mix of foods that often the flavors of all are enhanced.

Tonight using some pre-made pizza crust I made pizza. My family loves pizza with many toppings. Amidst the many toppings on the pizza tonight were two garden grown items, kale and garden tomatoes. The Kale adds spinach like taste, (but even better than spinach) and the homegrown organic tomatoes enrich the pasta sauce. With the crust made already it was easy to make and even without adding spices it was very flavorable. Part of the mix for the good taste was the kale and garden tomatoes.

Many combinations of diverse ingredients can be used for pizza but it is in the combination of ingredients that makes the pizza tasty.

Friends from India have commented to me that they find it hard in the USA to find good Indian food.
The difference, one added, was not in the use of the ingredients but how they were mixed and the timing of their additions. Good Indian food is slowly fostered with certain spices and ingredients being added in at certain times in the process.

When one combines a variety of taste, from the same spices of plants or from different ones and when the additions to the mix are added in at the proper time, one can create a masterpiece be it food, art, or other work. It is in the diversity and how it is put together that real unity is created.

In planning our DMZ gardens for next year we must remember this lesson, growing diversity of foods that will be unified in being organic, healthy and in our cooking. It is like the salad bowl image that I have often used. It is the diversity of the greens and herbs put together that make the salad whole and delicious.

July 29, 2007 Back to Nature

One of the storytellers, a native American, at the Kickapoo Country Fair told us how, we, human beings, had been in the Kickapoo Valley of Wisconsin for over 12, 000 years. He also told that when the state wanted to dam and flood the Kickapoo Valley not that long ago, the project was stopped by the discovery of the many native mounds and rich archeology of the area.

Now this area of the Kickapoo Valley is home to organic farmers, the largest being the Organic Valley Co-Op, which just reported record earning for its farmer members and other inventors.

Organic farming by co-ops and small farmers, is growing, as the market for organic food is growing.
These types of organic farming of dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables is not the same as the Growing Power home model garden we are trying to foster, but the principles and goals are the same: good, healthy, affordable food that benefits the producer and the consumer. Like Growing power, the organic valley is part of a bigger worldwide movement toward sustainable and organic food.

Besides storytelling the fair was full of good music, drama, displays, speakers and of course healthy organic foods from pizza to brats. Even the plastic cups for the coffee and drinks were biodegradable. There will more on the fair in days to come. Lessons learned at the fair and visiting some friends in the area will need time and more energy to express in the days to come.

When I came home my garden looked to me much the same as when I left except for a few more red tomatoes and some beans ready to pick. However, I noticed my wife went around to the garden with new eyes and insight, more appreciative of this primitive effort.

While resting this week, I hope to contribute more to the Growing Renewable Affordable Food GRAF page. My partner in this adventure, Andor, called tonight but I was too tired to speak with him, as I am to continue this posting.

July 27, 2007 What’s the name?

What’s the name?

Stories, from Moses and the burring bush to Harry Potter today, are filled with persons or objects that cannot be named. Moses asked the burning bush, what was the name of this might power giving Moses his mission. God, as we now say, responded, tell the people “I am who am” which in Hebrew is Yahweh. In the Harry Potter stories people are afraid to say the name of the evil wizard, Lord Voldermort so they just say: “He who must not be name.” Most often we do know or remember the name so we say something like “What’s the name”.

For awhile now in the garden there have been some tall flowers developing. We could not figure out what they were and waited for them to bloom. Today they started to bloom and I did not know what to call them. I rembered seeing them in my past but could not think of the name. So I took a picture and was going to show it tonight in hopes that if someone, if anyone, reading this posting would know. In the meanwhile I just called them “what’s the name.”

When my wife got home she said she thought they were ‘gladiolas’ but was not sure. Than I remembered as a child we had lots of “what’s the name’ flowers in our yard and they were called gladiolas. Am I right?

Not that I know the name the flower is just as beautiful as it was before I could remember the name. In fact trying to think of the name probably lessens my appreciation of these tall flowers.

I noticed that when a child does not know the name of something like a bird it is fascinated by the presence of this creature. As the child grows up and knows it is just a ‘bird’ the bird looses some of its mystery and fascination.

We need to name things in order to communicate. However, sometimes the naming can make something routine and take some of the mystery out of it. So wonder the God of the Old Testament did not want to be named and when asked said “I am who am.”

Sometimes we can get so good at naming things that the name and description becomes a label or stigma that defines something. A common label, which I object to, is calling a person with a mental illness ‘mentally ill’. There is even a series in the local newspaper called “Abandoning the Mentally Ill.” I asked the newspaper editors and persons who use this label if they would call a person with cancer “cancerous.” When they answer, they either ignore me as did the editor of the paper or say they certainly would not. My follow up point is that a persons is not his or her illness, be it mental illness or cancerous.

I still have one herb and a number of flowers in the garden with no name. I just continue to call them “What’s the name” and enjoy them.

(Tommorow in honor of the Kickapoo Country Fair there will be no postings.)

July 26, 2007 Tired Soil and Soul

gaveup by Peter Graf

If someone ask me if I was retired I probably would say no, just tired. When I was in school, many years ago, or when I was working hard at my job, not so long ago, I would reach a point of exhaustion once and awhile. If I pushed myself on I would get more irrational and emotion untill I finally took a break.

Now that I retired from employment I still work. My work now is in the DMZ gardens, advocating, helping out friends and on and on. I thought retirement meant reading, playing golf and taking trips. Maybe it does for some but not for me. I keep so busy at times that I, just like in the past, tire out and need a break, retreat or getaway.

Today in the garden I sifted out three half 5 gallon pales of fine enriched compost. I added about a 1/4 of a pale of coir (coconut shavings) to each one and mixed it with the enriched compost soil. One I will give to a friend who ask for some good dirt to plant some flowers and the other two, l will dig around most of my garden plants and placed some in the soil.

To the plants this will be like my taking some time off. It will renew each plant like a good fertilizer but organic. All living creatures need some rejuvenation. For plants it is fertilizer, natural or organic, for humans it is rest and leisure.

Today would have been a better day to fertilizer the plants since we are getting some needed rain tonight. However, tomorrow will do, since I was busy today.

When plants do not get enough food they droop and do not produce much. When I get tired my doing is less effective, I am tense and jumpy, tending to react not to respond.

Tomorrow I need to prepare for my realazing week going nowhere but here. I should clean up my office and work on a few busy type projects so I will be free next week to do live more a life of leisure

I will be getting a good start this weekend by attending the Kickapoo County Fair that cultivates “Rural Heritage and Future of Farming.” It features: “Live Music, Sustainability Workshops, Rural Heritage Exhibits, Beer and Dancing.” This is just the type of stuff I need to start the week

Next week, maybe I will even play golf on the par 3 course across the streets. One of the attractions for purchasing this house was having a golf course across the street for when I retired. However, in the four years I lived here, I have never playing a round of golf on the course. I am not a good golfer and do not find golfer an attractive thing. However, it is the kind of game I need right now. It involves walking around a course for an hour or so hitting a little ball: exercising but dong nothing of any practical or necessary importance.

Leisure is our enriched soil. When I was young they talked about the technological age to come when machines would do so much that we humans would have more leisure time. However, in American this has not happend. The more we do the more there is to do. Sometimes even our leisure times become busy times and tire us out instead of rejuvenating us. Our soul, just like our soil, needs new life to live and grow.

July 25, 2007 Gingerbread Land!

Zucchini in Dawn’s DMZ garden

Today on the way to the central city DMZ gardens at Dawn and Marna’s houses, I went by the first garden I ever help established in the central city. The garden is at the corner of a block that is called Gingerbread Land.

Gingerbread Land is one block long. The local non-denominational pastor on the block, Sister Clara, decided many years ago to make the block a safe haven for children in the area. By ‘hustling’ or relying on God, as she would call it, she has been able to secure seven houses on the block plus the Church, a former Masonic Temple.

For a number of years I would bring youth and adults down to the block from the church I worked at to help with garden, repairing houses, making cookies at Christmas or whatever needed to be done. Children who lived in one of her houses or in the neighborhood would always be around to work with us.

After a few years I understood that Sister Clara was tired and retiring to her daughters house in Arizona. One of the young men that grew up in the area was going to take over the ministry. I lost touch with Gingerbread Land.

When I have gone by the garden this year I have noticed it was not planted and growing. So I was surprised today when there was a bunch of volunteers working in the garden. I stopped and saw the garden was not planted and growing and asked them what they were doing. They told me they were youth workers just cleaning up the lot. I mentioned my history with the garden and how I knew Sister Clara before she retired. They told me Sister Clara was still around and sitting on the porch of the main house.

She was there on the porch in her usual position keepng a close eye on the young children playing on the block. We had a good reunion. I asked about the children and youth that were there when I was around. She said they had all grown up and many were still around helping out in the ministry of Gingerbread Land. I asked who the new group of children was and she said they were children from the families of children in the area or from families who had experienced Gingerbread land.

I asked her about her retirement and she said that now that the workload was just much easier on her since many of the youth of the past had grown up to be leaders at Gingerbread Land. I guess this was the first year, since the garden was started the it was not growing. She regretted that fact and told me how just yesterday she had seen someone who looked like me and had prayed for me.

From Gingerbread Land I went to the DMZ garden at Dawn’s to add some wood chips to the compost pile there and to watch her pick another large zucchini (pictue above) from the ones we had planted in early June.

Next stop was at Marna’s DMZ garden. She was not at home but I grabbed at picture at the row of plants we had started in her yard.

By the time I got home there was not much time to work on own garden before my wife and I went to dinner with a friend from California who was staying at his friend since childhood’s house. I cannot begin to describe the beauty and wonder of this person’s garden, plants, flowers and water ponds. Fortunately or unfortunately, I did not bring my camera but the garden of this retired schoolteacher as well as the meal he had prepared was outstanding.

So today I went from an abandoned garden to three upcoming gardens of the DMZ GP co-op to a lush and rich garden. My goal now is to bring the ‘miracle-gro’garden of tonight via the DMA gardens, growing renewable affordable food, to the now vacant garden of Gingerbread Land.

July 24, 2007 Garden of the Mind

escape by Peter Graf

I have noticed that most of the time that I am working in the yard, I am silent. Sometimes there is a radio playing or birds chirping in the background, but I am not engaged in any conversation or talk. In this type of silence, at least on my part, my mind becomes focused on my work.

My mind is more quiet and focused working in the garden than when I am driving a car, even when I am alone. Driving sometimes becomes routine and my mind wanders. Working in the garden is always new and my mind seems to focus on whatever I am doing.

I need more of the Garden of the Mind experience in my everyday life. Too often my words or emails expressing my mind come from a noisy mind. At these times, which I am constantly trying to lessen, my words verbal or written get in the way of my message. At these times my writing or speech becomes rapid and my listening ability lessens.

My messy home office reflects my noisy mind. My good-looking garden reflects my silent mind. My office is disorganized and my garden is organized. My office is distracting and my garden is reflective.

In its defense I do have to say the noisy mind does get things done. However, the silent mind enjoys life more. Although most people look at me as the noisy mind activist, which is understandable, I think my garden mind is more of who I am.

I am a slow and stubborn learner of life. Sometimes God has to hit me over the head, put up some crisis, for me to learn a lesson of life. Learning about the silence of the mind, something I knew but seldom practiced, is coming more gently by the introduction of the Growing Power Home Model of Gardening in my life.

Someone from Church called me today about advice on starting a compost pile. Having neglected the Growing Renewable Affordable Food GRAF web page recently I could not remember if I had written a ‘how to’ article on this or not. If I did not, I need to write one. This type of writing, like my silent working in the garden goes more to the side of the Garden of the Mind.

July 23, 2007 Enjoy The View

The View

After working in the garden today I just sat on the deck steps and for a few minuets just to enjoy the view of the garden. The flower area in the middle is particularly impressive. I planted all types of seeds and flowers, mostly perennials, in the circle around the statute of Mary and bird bath hoping for the best. The best is what I got. Some of the ‘flower’s might be weeds but as long as they look good I let them stay.

Dealing with a crisis of a family friend the last few days has really consumed my time. However, what is difficult is not to let this crisis consume my mind. To be compassionate and concerned is important but being consumed by events is not healthy. It would be like the circle of flowers if I let too many weeds grow in the area. They would not add much to the beauty but consumer the space and harm the view.

Also today I threw some of the rich compost from the worm depository around some of the plants. As I mentioned before there is a great need in this organic GP growing method to fertilize the soil. “Tea” is okay and castings are the best. But when you give away castings as I did and the new worm condo is not quite ready, enriched compost from the worm depository seems to do well.

There seems to be plenty of worms in the worm condo eating and casting away but not as much as there was in the worm depository which you can see in the back of the garden in the picture above. I think there is a lot there but with so much food in the pile and food in the garden many have wander deep, into the nearby compost pile and in the garden. That is okay since in the cold winter months they will return to the warmth and food of the worm depository.

Tonight when I served dinner I cut up a few tomatoes from the garden and put some dried out basil from the garden on them. The corn I served tonight was also organic, not from our garden, but purchased at Church from the GP market we have after Sunday service. This market after Sunday service has been a real blessing to our congregation. The prices are just a tiny bit higher than the store but not as high as an organic store and the quality is top grade.

Eating organic food from the market at Church or from the garden, especially when it is affordable, is like sitting on the steps of the garden looking at the view. It is enjoyable.

For another type of enjoyable view check out two of my son’s digital art work he added today to his MR web page. Peter’s Art Work

July 22, 2007 Energy in Being

The happenings of last week have made all three of us in this household very tired. We all need, like some of my plants inside and in the garden, a shot of energy. Plants get energy from fertilizer like compost or castings, but humans get it from peace and quiet of mind.

At church today they read from the Gospel of Luke where Martha complains to Jesus that her sister May is not doing enough around the house with all the chores but just sitting around with Jesus and the guys. Jesus tells Martha how good she is but that Mary has chosen the better part.

We all need, even us old retired guys, sometimes just to ‘nothing’ and free our minds and bodies from all the concerns and worries. As I mentioned before, it is said that plants grow at night, when all is quiet. So it seems like we do the same.

When I was unemployed at times in life or even now at times, when asked ‘what do you do”, at times I replied “nothing.’ Doing nothing for me meant a state of being where the doing was not as important as the awareness of the present.

Simpler creatures like plants or worms find it easing to do “nothing” and just let be what will be. We humans are more complicated and seem to have a passion for doing it.

I picked some red tomatoes and red hot peppers from the garden today. Also I picked some kale and mustard greens to cook tonight as a vegetable to go along with the ‘kibba’, a Lebanese dish that looks like meat loaf. The garden was also represented tonight in the mint in the Lebana (thick middle eastern yogurt) and cucumber that is served with kibba.

I have been trying to slow down our meal time to make it more being than doing but so far seem to be unsuccessful. We all try but right now are too much in doing the eating rather than being with the eating. We can keep trying.

“Be like plants in the garden that do not worry or fret. With all your worrying and fretting you can not change a thing”. (Adaptation of sayings.)”

July 21, 2007 To Be or Not To Be A Worm?

Be careful of what you criticize. Last night I criticized the local county justice system in dealing with sick persons. Today I had an expensive and horrible experience getting my friend transferred from the jail to the county mental health complex.

What you criticize tends to get back at you. However, what you get to know and appreciate something it does you no harm, even if it is at disagreement with you and your values.

Besides sleeping in today and being caught in the burrecratric trap of making bail for someone I did have a little time to work in the garden and go to the family homeless shelter tonight to share a meal of homemade chili.

In the garden I ‘teaed’ it and gave it a good watering. With the little organic fertilizer, compost and castings, I have put on the plants in the last week I can really see the difference.

I enjoy going to the gamily shelter because there are always so many children there to play with and be with. Also the adults always find it fascinated when I prepared the food, (when my wife has worked like today) like the chili tonight. Usually I play with the children but tonight, not eaten before we went, I sat down at a table with a mother and her 14-year-old son. We got into a conversation about food, gardening and education. The woman and her three children have been at the shelter for two months but will soon be moving on. I discovered the three children go to the same school as I did, on 35th and Brown. However, in the old days when I attended it was St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Grade School, and now it is Westside Academy, a charter school for academically good students.

The boy is going into high school next year but because of the uncertainty of where they will be living, is not sure what school he will attend. Since his mother wants him to attend a Christian school I suggested Marquette University High School (MUHS), a Catholic Jesuit all boys high school that I had attended. She said that she approached the school but they said that, if he applied, he would be put on a waiting list and really had no chance of attending there. MUHS accepts poor “choice” youth but limits the slots allowed for these low-income males severely.

When I attended Marquette University High School, 57–61, there were no African American students in the school and the great majority of students were from high-income families. Being from a working class family I was at the bottom of the social scale. Now the school has African Americans and other minorities but with tuition over $8000, have a small number of low-income students on scholarship or “choice program” and probably few working class students.

Having this conversation about Marquette High with the mother and her son today at the shelter was paradoxical. Today is the 150th anniversary of Marquette High School and tonight there was high class dinner event celebration at the Discovery World on the lakefront. My wife seeing this on the news tonight asked me if I was invited. I said that I had overlooked the invitation or it was lost in the mail. However, I doubt if I was invited. Despite all my Jesuit education, 13 years of high school, in the seminary and university, I am still not one of the ‘elite’ that the school prides itself in educating.

Like a lowly worm in the garden I am one of many that can be recognized but ignored and neglected, like this poor and homeless youth. St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, Society of Jesus, says we should desire to be poor and be treated with insults and neglect if it is God’s will. It is probably God’s will that I was notinvited to the party tonight for the rich and famous graduates but awent to the homeless shelter. But to desire this is a little tough yet. I have more to learn from the lowly worms.

Recently I have come to realize that not many people read this daily posting, despite the number of hits this site receives. Since the few who read it are probably looking for some insight in GP home model gardening I should go back to this focus. Excuse my wandering too much into my personal life. My personal life just seems to be merging more in more into my growing power life and the life of a worm.

July 20, 2007 Broken Food and Justice System

Today my adult son and I were working in the garden when I received a call from a friend on my cell phone. A young man, a friend of the family, was calling from jail in tears. He has a history of mental health issues, which has led to self-medication with alcohol. Activities while he had been drinking, like in the past, had led to his being arrested.

Unlike most persons with a mental illness, this young man when he is somber admits that he is ill. However, because he has no money or insurance he has only received treatment for his alcohol addiction not for the real cause of his problems, his sickness.

We knew he was in jail since his friend had called the police last weekend when he had a breakdown. His friend knew that he had a mental health issue and was going to take him to Mental Health Complex the next day. His friend only called the police to protect this person. However, the police, rather than take him to the hospital, took him to jail and put him in an isolated cell with nothing to do and no medical attention or contact with outside world. This is the worst way to treat a person with a mental illness.

Today after his court hearing someone in a justice program in the jail finally let him make a call. It turns out, only if he makes his bail, which was risen today because of his past outbreaks, can the justice program take him to the County Mental Health Complex to his next hearing in court.

After consulting with my wife and at the urging of our son we decided to bail him out so he could be taken to the hospital. We know he is a good person that happens to have an illness. However, when I called back the justice program they were all gone for the weekend. Someone in the jail system told us that this program does not work on weekends, so he will need to stay in this isolation chamber, a torture chamber for someone with a mental illness, until Monday.

I tried to go back to work in the garden but my son could not. He kept trying to think of what we could do to free our friend from this terrible situation. I tried to insure him that was noting we could do for our friend at this time. I said that we would do what we could but it was the system of how we treat poor and the ill that needed to change.

Jails and prisons are once again becoming the places we store persons with a mental illness in our society.

With the new Farm bill before congress there has been a lot of talk about the food system in this country, how it favors the rich agriculture business and harms the struggling farmers. The health system, especially the mental health system, like the growing system, is broken in this country

The Growing Power model where you treat the earth with respect, recycle waste into new life and care for all creatures from the lowly worm to the human being, poses a model for our mental health and prison system. He American health system and prison system are some of the largest and most expensive systems in the western world but also are the least effective systems. When will we ever learn?

July 19, 2007 Biking Contrast

Today we took a bike ride on the new Hank Aaron bike trailer. The portion that is completed starts near Miller Park and runs along the Menominee Valley a little past Powtowanimi Casino. Eventually it will hook up with Oak Leaf Trail across the street and go all the way down to the lakefront.

It is a trail of contrast. We started near the ballpark and the site of where Hank Aaron set the all time home run record of 755. Our trip was on a day when Barry Bonds hit two home runs closing on Hank Aaron’s record and is now on his way to the Milwaukee Ball Park for three games where he might well brake that famous record.

On the side of the trail for a while were wild flowers and the river. However, after a short time, we were riding along a noisy corridor of industrial building sites.

The bike trail is for exercise and outside recreation but comes to an end at the Casino where the most exercise you see people doing is not using the button but pulling down the level of the slot machines.

We wrote the trail to exercise and loose some weight. We stopped for lunch at the Casino and had a delicious, but filling lunch. (There was the bike ride back home to wear off some the new weight.

The trail in many ways reflects this city. We are an old industrial town where industry is disappearing into more service and entertainment businesses. We have lovely spots and some plain old nasty looking spots. We are a city divided by the valley in which the trail resides.

Before civil rights days the valley was called the Mason Dixon Line, African Americans on the North Side and Whites on the Southside. I remember crossing the bridge over the valley in the 60’s on a civil rights open housing march and being stoned by person on the Southside. Milwaukee is still a segregated city but now more divided on economics and race. Poor persons of all races live on the both sides of the bridge; middle class and rich persons, not as racially mixed live far north, west and south of Milwaukee.

Garden Update 07/19/07
We had our first cucumber from the garden today, one off the vine in The Vertical Grower. We picked a lot of basil today and my wife made pesto for some future delicious meals. Our garden this year is not one of contrast but one of simple beauty and simple practicality.

July 18, 2007 Saved by the Salad

This afternoon after working in the garden on this humid day, I came in and put a beer in the freezer to be enjoyed after my shower. When I went to get the beer, I realized that it was my last one and I had planned to use a beer to pre-cook our Usinger’s Brats for dinner We were going to have a quick dinner when my wife came home and walk over the Miller Park for the ballgame. I put a little water in the pot with the brats, thought about it, and decided that the beer would be better appreciated by my drinking it than by using it to cook the already delicious brats. I kept the water level low thinking I just boil a little grease out of them and grill them the rest of the way.

I sat on my favorite chair in the living room, stretched out, drank my bear and planned to just relax for about 10 minutes before I checked on the brats. However, the next thing I knew it was 45 minutes latter. I rushed to the kitchen to find the water in the pot gone and the brats, really, really cooked.

After airing out the kitchen I decided that I could not serve the blackened, overcook brats as they were. So I cut them up, put them in a pot with some leftover chili and a few more can of beans, black and pinto beans, and heated them up. As my wife pointed out latter I should have skinned the brats since the skin still tasted burnt.

We were planning to eat right when my wife came home so we would have time to walk to the ballpark. Despite the beans with the brats the meal seem very disappointing. Than I remembered the fresh salad greens I had picked when I was working in the garden. There are about 10–12 types of salad greens and herbs in the mix I had picked. I quickly made up the salad, which I knew everyone liked and put some fresh fruit on the table just in time before my wife came home.

Two One Day Wonders

When my wife came home and I told her about the brat fiasco. I blamed it on the beer. She looked at the salad and said that it looked good. Than I remember that I had some feta cheese in the refrigerator which when we added to the salad made it more delicious. The brats and beans were disappoing but the salad saved the meal. Where would I be without my Growing Power model home garden.

I had mentioned before about the ‘one day flowers’ that bloom in front of the house for one day and than die. Today it was humid and cloudy but four of the ‘one day’ beauties decided to flower. To the right are two of the four. So this gloomy humid day was saved by the four new flowers in some ways.

My DMZ garden partners, Dawn and Marna, saw a garden last Saturday that was fruitful. They asked the lady what her secret was. Like we three in the DMZ gardens she used compost. However, she used Miracle Gro instead of castings and “tea” to fertilize the plants. This help me realize more that to keep the garden organic we need to fertilize the plants more with castings and ‘tea.” So today I repairs my shifting screen and added some new castings to the tea bag in the rain barrel. Marna and Dawn have never been at Growing Power central so they can see what I am talking about when you use compost, castings and coir, same old, same old to build your soil and to fertilize the garden.

Just like my GP home model garden is doing much better than last year so I believe Dawn’s and Marna’s gardens in the DMZ will do better next year when we start earlier and are ready.

July 17, 2007 Strange Bird

Today I looked out in the garden and saw some strange yellow bird hanging around the garden. I seen this type of bird before but today I was able to get a picture of it.

For this unidentified bird in the garden, I used the word ‘strange’ but in a beautiful way. Most of the time when something is ‘strange’ we mean we feel uneasy, something is wrong or it is something we cannot explain. Usually it is not something of beauty to our eye like this bird.

In fact, most people fear what is strange, especially strange looking a person. Sometimes persons with a mental illness or another disability look or act strange. A strange looking person repulses some. Some just look at the person, like I looked at the bird, different than the other birds in my garden but unique and beautiful

Speaking of strange some of you might have found the vertical grower created by my friend Andor strange looking. I told you before how it was a good collector of ‘tea’ but now I can tell you, from experience, that it is fruitful. The vertical grower in my garden has cucumbers (two so far) tomatoes (three or four so far) and beans (just sprouts for now) growing up the vertical climber. Below in the two boxes are a variety of salad greens in one and mustard greens in the other. Now this strange device is an effective way to grow renewable affordable food GRAF in a small space.

The Vertical Grower

When I was a youth minister and the teens were really into rap music I formed a rap persona called ‘reject.’ I took a stab here and there at rapping. The youth thought it was fun. When they asked me why I choose the name ‘reject’ I told them I wanted to use the rap name ‘outcast’ but it was already taken, although I do not think the group spells it the same way. So I choose ‘reject’ to point to persons who Jesus said he primarily came for: the poor, marginalized, outcast and rejected.

At the Victory over Violence rally last Saturday, I met a friend from those days. He was the DJ at our middle school dances. He is called D-Rock. One day I, ‘reject’, challenged D-Rock to a rap off, or whatever it is called, when two rappers rap to degrade each other and whoever does the best job wins. However, our rap off was to talk positively about each other. Because he was a cool DJ and a young African American every one assumed he was good at rap. Everyone knew I was terrible at rap from my attempts at it. Even I thought so and asked D Rock for help with my rap. He had one of the youth he was working with help me write arap. When the time came at the next dance I went first. I did the rap that D Rock’s friend had written for me, complimenting D Rock. When his turn came, he did not have anything prepared, and it turned out that he was terrible at rapping spontaneously. It was strange but obviously I won. Or as one youth put it: “He sucked worst than you.”

So an old white youth minister rapping against a young African American DJ might seem strange and it was. What was even stranger, however, was the results.

It was good last Saturday to see D Rock who now has his own foundation called K.A.S.O.Y.F. Inc. Keep A Smile On your Face. I knew he was a comedian but not as good of one as he is. Saturday he told me he works for a major TV network in town as video editor and does a lot of comedy on the side but little work as a DJ. Here is a young adult who practices what he preaches, keeping a smile on his face all the time.

So strange can be funny, fruitful and beautiful.

July 16, 2006 Waste for Food

Wood chips at the dump

A lot of time today was spent purchasing food. Traveling to four nearby stores, Hispanic and Middle Eastern food stores and two supermarkets, I purchased food for some weeks to come. At the supermarket, a national discount food store, I checked the dumpster after shopping. The manager had said it was okay to take the waste I wanted. Today I discovered a bonanza of ripe bananas, one of the favorites of worms and good for compost. Feeling lucky, on the way home I stopped at a local coffee shop and found near the door bags of coffee grounds for the taking. Coffee grounds are another great food for worms and compost.

I put some of the coffee grounds on the worm depository but will wait tomorrow to put the rest of the coffee grounds on the compost pile and worm depository. The reason for this is that tomorrow I will go to the city dump to load up on wood chips, some carbon to go with the nitrogen of bananas and coffee grounds. Wood chips are one of the best sources of carbon, since they disintegrate easily but leave pockets of air in the compost soil, something important for worms and good growing with homemade soil.

Buying food for the three of us living here was expensive but getting food for the compost and thousands of worms all around the garden was free, just waste there for the taking.

Today my son shifted through some more soil from the worm depository. Mixing coir, coconut shavings, to it, we were able to get another bucket of good organic fertilizer. This time I put some around the plants in pots in the sunroom GP Box. These plants are growing tall but the tomato plants do not have as much potential tomatoes on them as we think they should.

This system of fertilizer, like taking castings from the box to mix with coir, seems to really do the job. After putting some around the plants I watered it with some ‘tea’ from the rain barrel. The coir holds the water, the compost and/or casings releases food for the plants.

All gardens need sun, water and fertilizer to grow. Organic gardens just need organic fertilizer. There are all kinds of organic fertilizers but the one we use in Growing Power is free, the only cost being ‘sweat labor.’

If someone would have told me some years ago that I would be making soil from coffee grounds, rotten bananas and wood chips I would have laughed at them. Now that I not only grow my own soil from waste but also have worms as livestock it seems only natural.

The difference is now I am learning from experience what no class or school taught me: Growing Renewable Affordable Food GRAF from waste.

(The slide show of the Victory Over Violence march and rally will have to wait another day due to technical difficulties.)

July 15, 2007 Waiting in Line

This afternoon all three of us, my wife, adult son and I worked in the garden. Thus a lot was done. One of the small things I did was to put some food in the bird feeder and some oil on the pole of the feeder to discourage the chipmunks from taking the food.

After I cleaned up I looked out into the garden to find the birds lined up to eat at the bird feeder. Watching them for a while I noticed that if one bird took too much time on the perch another bird would fly up flap his wings the first bird would leave. However, one time a bird was there a long time, had some food, looked around and had some more food. Finally another bird few up, flapped his wings but this bird did not leave. The bird that flew up kept flapping his wings until he landed on a branch nearby and shortly afterwards flew back in line.

One bird had an interesting way of sharing. He would just peck at the food eat some and drop some on the ground. On the ground other birds would eat the food he dropped. He must have been the ‘we’ bird as opposed the ‘me’ bird that dominated the feeder for a while.

Some of the birds, in between turns at the bird feeder, took a drink in the foundation in the middle of the garden. Birds, especially in the summer, can find their own food and water and do not need bird feeders and water fountains. But they are the easy way to drink and eat.

One of the things my wife did today was put through our strainer some of the soil in the worm depository, the hill of compost and worms below the bird feeder. To that ½ bucket of rich soil I added some coir (coconut castings) and went around feeding all the tomato plants. Than my wife went around with the sprinkling can watering the plants with “tea”: from the rain barrel. Tonight I am running the sprinkler for a while in the garden. Plants, unlike bird, cannot get their own food and water. They depend on Mother Nature or we humans for food and drink.

We are more like the birds than the plants. We are always looking out for the easy food and drink. However, unlike birds, sometimes we wait and look in all the wrong places.

In the first reading at church services this morning Moses was telling the people to “heed the voice of the Lord, your God and keep his commandments….” Some must have felt this command of Moses too mysterious and remote for he goes on to say: “For this command I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘ Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out/’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” (Deuteronomy 30: 10–14)

From this statement and others of great prophets of God, I gather we got it better than birds or the plants. For we means of ilfe, more than food and drink, already in our hearts. The food and drink of life is there for us. We do not need to wait in line like the birds, or be dependent on nature and others like plants. We only need to “carry it out”.

One of the great prophets of God also said “Do not worry”. Look on the birds and flowers find what they are looking for. If God takes care of them how much more will God take care you.”? All we need to do is to hear the word of God today and “carry it out.”

In English slang God could have said: “Bob’s Your Uncle.”

The June issue of the Living Stones newsletter, Vol. 23, is now on line.

July 14, 2007 Victory Over Violence

In the Second World War people grew victory gardens in their backyards to allow more food for our troops.

Today after visits to Dawn’s and Marna’s DMZ gardens, I attended a victory over violence march and rally in a small park in the central city that was created, in part, by the Career Youth Development (CYD) project to remember those the homicide victims in this city.

There was a march down Martin Luther King Drive where family members of homicide victims held up signs remembering their love ones killed by senseless violence. The march reminded me of the marches of mothers of the missing in Latin America Countries like Guatemala. In fact one of the marchers was the family of a young girl who was still missing. The sign and picture above is to remember the daughter and grandchild of the co-founder of CYD, who were homicide victims.

It was a very moving event with inspirational speakers, beautiful music and good food and company. The only politicians that talked were black, the white ones, like the Mayor and County executive send representatives.

Despite the sense of hope and faith in the rally I left sad, realizing more how deep the cultural gap is between the white and African American communities in Milwaukee. This divide is symbolized by how the ‘other community’ not present today, locked up without no possibility of bail the black leader, the local alderman, who is the one politicians the people present at the rally for ‘victory over violence’ most respect. As speakers mentioned today he really fought to overcome violence. Many spoke and wore T Shirts to Free him, Mike McGee, a fearless leader of the community.

I was at Dawn’s gardens to collect the wood that my son’s friend, Loren, who built my worm condo, needed to build another one in the DMZ garden at Dawn’s. I was at Marna’s, co-founder of Mothers Against Violence, so Loren could advise her on building a patio in her yard and garden.

When I returned home from the Victory over Violence rally I spend some time in my own garden. It seems only natural. Our DMZ gardens and others, like in the park, are truly victory gardens in this war against violence in our city.

Tonight I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to download and use music for the slideshow I created from the March and rally. I was not so successful, so tomorrow I will just load the slide show on the Mothers Against Gun Violence web site with silence. The music will need to be provided by our hearts singing for victory over violence.

July 13, 2007 We Shall Overcome!

With another day comes another prayer vigil for a homicide victim.. Violence is like a plague. Violence is like plant eating insects that tear through the garden spreading destruction in its wake. The news these days is all about violence in the city, Iraq and world. When will we ever learn? When will it stop?

Catching the end of the 20/20 show I saw three persons who suffering hellish torture. They all said that a key to ending violence was forgiveness and the belief and hope that good will overcome evil.

On the lighter side I had lunch today with an old friend who now lives in California. He is one of those persons who keep me laughing with jokes via email. I invited another local friend with the same joke ministry to lunch and the two of them met and traded jokes back and forth. Both persons have suffered great hardships but have learned the healing value of laughter. I wanted these two to meet since they both send me jokes that I passed on to the other one via email. Now they can place a real person behind the jokes.

I had a little relaxing time in the garden today. Time in the garden is like forgiveness and laughter, an excellent remedy for evil and violence.

Another good old friend from the sixties who now lives in Holland send me this quote today. The quote is from the founder of a lay religious order that a good old friend of my wife belongs to. It speaks to me about love overcoming violence if only we can live our faith. I will put in on the featured article site on my home page tomorrow.

“Where love is, God is. Is he absent then from the nations that kill one another, waging hopeless wars that lead nowhere except to the death of thousands? “The agony of Christ continues unto the end of the world,” wrote Pascal, the French philosopher. It continues in His Mystical Body. Wherever there is no love, Christ is rejected and killed again on a thousand Golgothas that are going on almost all over the globe with most of its people not even noticing.

Am I my brother’s keeper? If we truly examined our Western conscience — the conscience of the so-called affluent society – we would be trembling indeed. It would be clear that we have slain our brother by enlarging our profits. Our profits! That is all we care about these days. Thousands of death-dealing planes and weapons of all kinds are being sold by most of the “affluent” societies to the countries of the Middle East. We are delighted because they prolong our own lives while the lives of others are destroyed in endless skirmishes and wars all over the world. Am I my brother’s keeper? Oh no! I am my brother’s killer! It is a wonder that anyone employed in the making of these munitions, from the president of the company down to the man who sweeps up at night, can look at their faces in the mirror or go to church on Sundays. Do we want to preach the Gospel of Christ or our own gospel? Which shall it be?”

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, The Gospel Without Compromise, (1976)

Yes, we shall overcome!

July 12, 2007 Sunflower at Dusk!

Sunflower at Dusk

Today at our gathering of the DMZ garden co-op, I learned from Dawn, Marna and Maria how to cook soul food, specifically collard greens and kale that I have in the garden. Tonight, using some pork riblets I had purchased at El Rey groceries last week, I cooked a real soul food dinner. It also had a little bit of the left over soul food cabbage I had cooked last night.

My adult son and I, who were at dinner tonight, enjoyed it. With this meal and the garden salad I made for our lunch at the DMZ gathering at Dawn’s house today and dinner tonight here, I had a day of eating grown renewable affordable food. GRAF While at Dawn’s we checked out her garden and did a little work on it, checked out the compost pile we have there and discussed plans for the worm condo, worm depository we will build in her yard as well as plans for the vacant lot nearby that Dawn owns.

At lunch was one of her residents of Dawn’s houses, an elderly man who was a prisoner of war in the Koran War as a young man and someone who had grown up having a garden. He had a lot of wisdom to share about gardens and interesting stories about being tortured in war camps. He knew firsthand the real “hell’ of war and the joy of gardening and felt fortunate to survive and talk about it.

Others at the table also shared some advice and experience they had gardening and to share plants, seeds and sources of compost. Dawn and Marna are getting together this weekend to do some garden work. All and all it was a good gathering of the DMZ garden co-op.

The flower of the day is the sole sunflower in my garden as dusk fell on the garden. This flower is like a bright light shining in the darkening sky. Both Marna and Dawn have suffered a lot of illnesses, discrimination, insults and pain. Yet they both are positive spiritual persons. Although they are younger than I, they are persons I try to emulate. Like the sunflower they shine in the dusk of life.

July 11, 2007 Natural Change

Garden 7/10/07

Monday after being selected and eliminated as a juror at a trial of a young black man I observed in the diary how the jury system was faulted on selecting a jury of peers.

Tuesday while in the jury waiting room I read the headlines of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Metro system that read, “Courts faulted on race”. The article goes on to say how minorities are underrepresented on Milwaukee County juries, according to an audit report by the country.

So does this make me a prophet? No way except that by observation I noticed a fault on the jury system an audit commissioned in March 2006 just verified. There is now a statewide study being made of the connection between race and incarceration. I can predict of what it will say when it is complete. To any observer of the system the connection is clear.

Studies would be okay, in my opinion, if something was done afterwards. I doubt the jury selection system in Milwaukee County will significantly change after this audit report and the reason for the connection between race and incarceration will continue long after this present. (There have been others.)

Change in the system does not come through study. Change only comes when we take action after reflection. Will Allen and Growing Power are always making minor adjustment in the way of growing, like the amount of castings to coir in the planters or the amount of carbon to nitrogen in the compost. When I asked why the change they remind me of the maxim that Will taught me about growing this way: just keep trying by experiment and error to improve. Studies help but experience and reflection teach us how to change.

This reminds me another rule of our American cultural that is not found in nature. I call it the “tit for tat” rule. “I will do something for you if you do something for me.” “I will give you this candy if you clean up your room.” “You can buy this if I can but that.” Politicians trade votes for favors all the time. “I will support your measure and you can do something for me.”

I am starting to learn how harmful this way of thinking “tit for tat”, giving to receive, is. Nature with the ‘we’ way of dong things does not operate that way. There is cause and effect in nature but not “tit for tat”. A worm does not cast off rich soil for some reward that humans or others will give worms. In this way of operating things balance out. Lightening strikes a forest, there is a fire but the soil is enriched for new growth. However, human made fires can do more harm than good and human built houses in some areas are unnatural and in constant danger.

I remember reading an article after the terrible hurricane Katrina how the devastation of the storm was human made. For example, the waters of the gulf were warmer than normal due to global warning thus strengthening the storm. In New Orleans most devastation and death was not caused by the storm but by the flood after the levees broke. They were not what they should have been.

By the way the three new flowers that appeared yesterday in the front of the house are gone today.

My son and I were able to get some decent time today working in the garden. I took the remains of the compost pile behind the garage and turned it upside down. Now the uncooked waste that was on the top is on the bottom and will ‘cook’ faster and the ‘cooked’ waste on the bottom should be on the top.

At least that is what I tried to do. In gardening like in nature there is no exact science or studies. You just do it, see what happens, reflect on it, change according and do it again with the changed way.

So even the “same old, same old” soil I am always talking abut is always new.

July 10, 2007 Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Here Yesterday

Gone Today

Back Again

The beautiful unidentified flower that appeared yesterday was gone today. However, another three appeared today on other similar plants. Beauty is vanishing but as long it is replaced with more beauty that is okay. Sustainable beauty is good.

Jury duty ended this morning so I was able to go home around noon to work on the slide show project for my wife, the Living Stones June newsletter and the garden. The first two projects took most of my time so I did not get out to the garden much. However, my son Peter “teaed” the garden today that along with the rain shower gave the plants some good nourishment.

We are having our second gathering of the “DMZ Garden Co-op”, this month at Dawn’s. I have been selected to bring the salad. Marna and Dawn’s garden were started after mine so we never had a chance to grow salad greens. I am taking some collard and chive plants to the gathering for Marna but it is late in the season to get much going on. I planted some collard at Dawn’s earlier in the summer and it grew but the bugs or some animal have eaten most of the leafs. My collard, mostly in planters, is doing so so. I will need to figure out some recipe using collards and kale from the garden and a cabbage I got from the SHARE program that has been in the refrigerator awhile. All three cooked greens are in the same family of plants so there should be some good recipes somewhere. I will check with Marna and Dawn, DMZ partners tomorrow for a recipe.

I have some other greens, mustard greens and turnips growing but they are too small yet to eat.

With the finish of the library project and sending of thee newsletter for June, I feel like I am catching up. However, I do not know what I am catching up to, so maybe I should slow down to find out. After all what is here today may be gone tomorrow so I better enjoy it while it is here.

July 9, 2007 Just Flowers

This morning I was sitting in the ‘quiet’ room of the County Courthouse waiting to be called for Jury Duty.

Since I was convicted for three felonies in 1968 (see Milwaukee 14 Today). My right to own a gun and to run for public office has been taken away. But my right to do jury duty remains. In fact I seem to be called every four years, the minimal time between calls. The obligation to do jury duty seems to be based on a lottery of persons with driving licenses.

A friend pointed out to me last week that since many defendants do not have a driving license these defendants have a little chance to have a jury of peers.

I was one of 35 chose for jury selection for a major criminal trial that would be taking most of the week. After an afternoon of questioning 14 were chosen and I was not one of them. The defendant was a young African American male and there were a few young men in the jury pool but they were white. I had lunch with one of them and he was a world away from the defendant in cultural experience. In fact when the defense counsel asked if the young defendant did not testify would anyone hold that against him, this young man from the suburbs honestly said yes. He was not one of the chosen ones. I was glad not to be picked on the jury but felt sad for the young man since I sensed that few in the jury pool would understand him. Another young man, while we were on a final break before the final jury selection, mentioned out loud that ‘we’ all have made up our minds on the persons guilt or not. From the smile on his face I knew what he meant and clearly said that none of us had heard any testimony and could have not made up their minds. I am not sure if he was one of the fourteen selected or not.

I pray and hope the young man has a good lawyer since, since despite what the judge and law say, he already had some marks going against him. I pray for the jurors that they can see and hear through the built in prejudice in society, that most are not even aware, against young African American males. I know I have some but being aware of it helps me to temper it.

The news tonight said another young male was a homicide victim last night. I will get details from Sister Rose in a day or two so I can add him to our Mothers Against Violence Memorial site for victims. in the city of Milwaukee. From the name and location I can guess that it was another young black male.

Last week it was grandchildren and this week, so far, it has been jury duty keeping me away from the garden and finishing projects like last month’s Living Stones newsletter.

The flip side of this day of delay was waiting to be called for jury duty gave me a chance to read. I am reading some letters that Thomas Merton, a well know Trappist monk writer, wrote in 1961-`962. It is amazing how if you substitute a few words like ‘terrorist’ for ‘communist’ how meaningful his words on for today. Thomas Merton, a monk in a monastery, removed from the world, saw deeply into life. His awareness of the true nature of things is amazing and his writings are timeless.

I did come home to two new surprises in my garden, which was neglected today but still grew. Two new flowers had appeared, one in front and one, a type of sunflower, in back. Color, style and type made no difference in the flower world as it does in the worm world. Flowers, like worms, are diverse but are beautiful, like worms are productive.

Our Justice System that despite the rhetoric and all its good qualities, still largely depends on money. Flowers and worms, beautiful and ugly are based on nature. There is a lot about justice we can learn from flowers and worms.

July 8, 2007 Death and Flowers

Memorial Garden for Adrien Russell (Age 18)

This morning after church services we went over to a friend’s house to take a picture of a memorial garden she had planted in memory of her son, who was a homicide victim in 1999. His favorite type of tree, birch, a pool of water covered with flowers and all kinds of other flowers and trees dressed her small yard. It was a peaceful place although our friend’s life is full of chaos and disorder. It is a place where a person who lives with family tragedies as she dose can perhaps steal a moment of peace.

Death and Flowers seem to go together. Usually it is by the abundance of flower boutiques you see at funerals. There is something of ‘big businesses’ about these flowers but the trees and flowers in this memorial garden seem to be a natural fit.

In our Faith In Recovery session today we shared our thoughts about a quote from the author Thomas Merton on individualism and the need to take an “other” attitude to life.

Yesterday a friend sent me another quote from Thomas Merton, this one on death as a big business.

The theology of violence must not lose sight of the real problem, which is not the individual with a revolver but death and even genocide as big business. But this big business of death is all the more innocent and effective because it involves a long chain of individuals, each of whom can feel himself absolved from responsibility, and each of whom can perhaps salve his conscience by contributing with a more meticulous efficiency to his part in the massive operation. —Thomas Merton Faith and Violence chapter “Toward a Theology of Resistance,” page 6

Today I discovered in my flower circle in my garden some new red flowers blooming. I do not know what they are but they are beautiful. The red of the flower reminds me of the color of blood that is spilled in the senseless acts of violence that plague our city, county and world. These new red flowers are growing out of the waste that makes my ‘same old, same old’, soil.

People who die at a young age, like my friend’s son, are like flowers cut down in the prime of their life. In their moment in the sun their young life is cut down.

Death and Flowers are tied together in some paradoxical way that maybe we cannot know but we certainly feel.

July 7, 2007 Violence to the Earth

Live Earth

This morning I helped a friend from Church moved out of a neighborhood near the Church to another neighborhood. She wanted to move for safety reasons right after she witnessed an armed robbery in her old neighborhood. She had a tough time finding a suitable place and ended up purchasing a house in a more dangerous neighborhood. Money, or lack of it, was a major deciding factor in her move. This is part of the paradox of violence. Sometimes the more you try to escape from it and fear it the more it takes over your life.

A friend sent me it an email saying I was “diplomatic” in an introduction email I sent to friends. That is one word, ‘diplomatic’, that I seldom hear about myself. Maybe in my old age and learning from the wisdom of the garden I have soften a little in my outspoken self righteous approach. Let us hope so. Being true to your beliefs is one thing, forcing them on others is another thing. One of my favorite definition of Gandhi’s nonviolence is one from the author Judith Brown who describes it, Satyagraha or creative nonviolence as “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.”

Worms are good symbols of this type of ‘diplomacy’ or nonviolence. They strive hard to do their mission in life to enrich the soil but will not fight or bite to attain their mission. They are weak and defenseless but as a community keep coming back striving to enrich the soil.

Perhaps the Live Earth worldwide event to develop awareness of the fragile nature of the environment and how we are destroying it should have used worms as their symbol. Worms, unlike other creatures like us humans, use very little of the energy they consume to maintain themselves. However, they create new sources of energy and life in their castings.

One of the many small ways to save the earth I heard today at the worldwide concert was to cut back on bottled water. It is not the water but the plastic bottle that consumes so much energy in its production. It made the water system in our house look good. Water goes from the tap to the water filter system to our individual plastic bottles that are refillable. (Perhaps pictures to come.)

Common use of water bottles is one of the many small ways we Americans do violence daily to the earth. Americans, they say, are number one in doing violence to earth by use of non-sustainable resources. They say that China, it it’s race to be a super economic power at any cost, is running a close second.

Growing Power home gardens, like the three DMZ gardens, are small attempts to grow renewable affordable food without dong violence to the earth. In fact growing power by turning waste into soil, enriching it with worms and growing with it, does nonviolence to earth. Growing Power goes with the natural flow of nature not against it. It is time to heal the earth not do more violence to it.

July 6, 2007 The Fence

DMZ Garden Fence

The fence around my yard was here before I moved in. It is one of the few fence yards on the block. It does not provide much security, as demonstrated by the back of the house break-in and burglary shortly after we move here. But for better or worse it does provide some privacy.

With the sorely assortment of buckets and pots that I use as planters along the fence in the driveway, the fence is a good factor. The white metal you see along the bottom of the picture is some roofing material I am using temporarily to direct the overflow of tea water that runs down from the rain barrel near the back of my garage. Someday I hope to have a bed below the pots which I can cover and use to grow plants from seeds in early spring and used uncovered in the summer to grow plants in planters and buckets with water draining along the side of the fence which is slanted down.

Now I have tomato, pepper, eggplants, cucumbers and some edible flowers growing in the planters below and on the fence. The area is facing west but gets sun from south and west a good part of the day. So this fence in the DMZ gardens is productive.

I had to say no to two friends who needed help today, one moving and one with her DMZ garden. Normally I do not say no to friends in need but today after 4 ½ days of grandchildren I needed some time to catch up. I can be available to both of them tomorrow.

Today I had lunch here with a Lebanese Catholic Jesuit priest who has been very active in the peace movement and now is at Marquette University to establish a peace studies program. Being Lebanese myself I had some leftover grape leaves from the other day, a DMZ garden salad and a few other Lebanese delights like Feta Cheese, Olives and Pieta Break. I invited him over here to find out more about his new work at Marquette with the program in peacemaking he is starting. However, I ended up dong most of the talking since he was interested in the peace and justice community of Milwaukee, which Marquette, with a few exceptions, is insulated from. There seems to be a fence of the mind around Marquette.

In separating Marquette from the neighboring community some years ago, MU, at one point, tried to close down parts of Wisconsin Avenue, the main street of town, that runs through the campus. That was a little too much for the city and surrounding area and they were stopped. However, in my opinions the mind barriers at MU have created are much worst than any fence or closing of a street. Marquette students “go out” to the community to do service work but many, to my way of thinking, in these days fail to make the connection between service work and creating a society of peace and justice. Marquette, I understand, wants to this new program to be like, the rest of their theology, heavily academic. However, as this Jesuit priest and I know, peacemaking is learned from experience not from books. Just like the “way to peace is peace” (A.J. Muste), being a peacemaker means making peace and doing justice, which is not always the same as service. Hopefully this new initiative will make a difference at Marquette in the area of peace and justice, just like Education Opportunities Program, started after a year of civil rights protest in the 60’s, made a big difference in opening MU up to ‘people of color’ who do not play basketball.

I agreed to send him a list a list of some of my “salad bowl friends”. He, I think, agreed to help me explore my interest in the connection between Ignatian Spirituality and Creative Nonviolence. One of these days I will start a new “wiki” site for this topic.

What we need today in waging peace and justice is new tactics as my essay on discrimination in Milwaukee suggest. The Sweet Waters of Discrimination in Milwaukee. What these new nonviolent tactics are is the subject peacemakers of today are talking about and discovering.

This reminds me that the June issue of the Living Stones is late. The subject I am trying to address in the newsletter is the question of ‘what’ to do in terms of nonviolence. My monthly newsletter is always late and until today I could say it was because of the grandchildren’s presence. Since I cannot blame it on chipmunks, or on the fence, I probably should get off the fence and do it. But my first working priorities remain, helping my friends, the photography project in the library with my wife and of course working in the DMZ garden surrounded by the fence.

July 5, 2007 Good to be Home

After we took our grandchildren home, my grandson spread out on his living room carpet and said, “It is good to be home.” This expresses my feelings after we drove back home to Milwaukee tonight. Although all five of us, my wife and I and the three grandchildren, would agreed we had a good time the last four ½ days it was good for all of us to be home again.

Although I know many grandparents, for one reason or another, that raise their grandchildren, it is not the natural role of grand parenting. Grandparents are, in my opinion, meant to be with grandchildren for brief intensive periods.

Tomorrow it is back to our normal activities. For the children it is playing, watching TV, eating, calling and visiting friends and maybe a soccer game or two. For my wife it is back to work in the library and for me it is back to sharing with friends, working in the garden, learning something new, writing, advocating, encouraging and keeping too busy for my own good.

The garden here, inside and outside, did not get much attention today except a good watering from the rain outside and from a watering can inside. However, tonight the plants will still grow and the worms will keep on producing castings. Life in the garden is at a much slower pace than life for the old and young persons today.

Home is not only where you live but also where your heart is.

The TV news tonight tells about another homicide, another person who will not be going to his home here on earth. In the last week or so there have been five or six homicides in the city of Milwaukee Memorial to Homicide Victims 2007.
Homicides in the city of Milwaukee seem to run in steaks. There is no regularly rhyme or pattern to them, except they seem to rise. Just like a garden obeys the law of nature, these acts of violence are random and senseless.

I often asked myself how do we stop the senseless violence in the city and the senseless violence of War. There are no easy answers but there is a lot we can learn from nature about how to stop the violence. For example, we know random acts of violence must be met with organize actions of nonviolence or love. Indifference needs to be met with making a difference. The question for me is now how but what acts to take. In my essay on “What to do about Violence in Milwaukee” I tried to offer some of the ‘what’ we need to do. Essay on Violence in Milwaukee. Although I did not see much hope in word or action from the politicians and officials I sent this essay to, I do still have hope.

It is just natural to care and try to do something about this ‘culture of violence’. It does not need to be this way. My wife and I watched another episode of “Foley’s War”, a detective mystery series on Public Television that takes place in 1942 in England. Tonight I just realized that although there have been murders and investigations I have not seen any handgun on the show, by the good guys or bad guys. I think it is impossible to watch any American TV series on crime without seeing many handguns.

Malcolm X once got into trouble by saying “Chickens come home to roost” after the Kennedy assassination. Persons did not get his meaning. He was not insulting Kennedy but just saying about society the same thing we mean when we say “Live by the gun and die by the gun” or Jesus said with “You reap what you harvest.”

When I was in the Appalachia mountains I learned a traditionally way of saying “Goodbye” was the phrase “Come home with me.” It did not literally mean what it said but was a way of saying goodbye. Putting that together with the cliché “You home is where you heart is” we say to you tonight “It is good to be home.”

July 4, 2007 We, We, We, All the Way Home!

Grandchildren in the DMZ Garden

This morning was dominated by our 2nd annual participation in the local park’s, Merrill Park, 4th of July parade, games and celebration. It is not everyday children get to march up Wisconsin Avenue, the main street in town, to a park. There were a lot less children marching this year behind the veteran color guard and before the band. Organizers of the event, the neighborhood organization, told me there are less and less each year.

Last year we choose our buggy and our theme was Growing Power. We won first prize for best wagon or buggy, the only one. This year the children brought down their wagon and our theme was “All American Butterfly”, with Carolee in her princess butterfly dress in the wagon. The organizers have eliminated the best buggy or wagon category so they won some prizes as “walkers.” They still played games, just less, and after we had some food, everyone disappeared.

Merrill Park is also one with childhood memories for me. We lived in between Merrill Park and Washington Park, where we went to Fireworks tonight. The library, when I was small, was at Merrill Park. On the way back to our house when I pointed out my high school, my grandson asked about where I went to Kindergarten. That school is still there but when I drove by where my childhood home the whole block was just a Harley Davidson parking lot.

When we got home it was water balloon and water punching bag time. My wife and I took turns taking a small break during the afternoon. Late in the afternoon my oldest grandson and I picked our dinner salad from the garden, cleaned it and prepared it for dinner. Just like the Cmint he called it Csalad. With the salad and some chicken we had another good meal on the deck overlooking our DMZ garden.

Both Grandsons helped with the garden but my oldest grandson took a special interest. He finished shredding the block of coir, coconut shavings, and helped plant two pots of of Will Allen’s turnip greens. He asked lots of questions and understands and remembers what he learns. All three deserve to be in the DMZ garden co-op, especially my eldest. They have all the qualifications: they like to eat garden food, including grape leaves; and are interested in helping build a community garden. They all have a bit of “me” attitude growing in them but still are children with a natural sense of the “we” that it takes to be part of a community garden movement.

I remember reading something recently about this “we” vs. “me” thing that I have been talking about a lot recently. The author of the article ended by reminding us that the story of the three little pigs ends with the pigs going “we, we, we all the way home.”

You are never too young or too old to go home to the default “we” way of life.

July 3, 2007 Blame it on the Chipmunks!

Carson’s gift of mint
from the DMZ gardens

Thanks worm for taking over the diary last night. Now I know where the W in worm comes from: WE.

For a few years I have been blaming the chipmunks for why my strawberry plants, here before I moved in, grow but produce no strawberries. I moved the strawberry plants to different spots in the garden and even into one of the plant boxes above ground in the vertical growing box but still no strawberries. I have given up.

When I moved the bird feeder to the other side above the worm depository I figured I had solved the chipmunks eating the birdseed problem. The branches of the tree shade the worm depository are too light to support a chipmunk. However, my grandchildren and I discovered today after we filled the bird feeder again, this move did not stop them. Chipmunks, we found out, can go straight up a thin pole. They do not scare easily and certainly not by just yelling. After chasing them aware I took a box and tapeed it around the pole. This seems to do the trick as the birds return to the feeder.

It is nice to have someone to blame things on although it is not always helpful when it is an innocent or maybe only partially guilty party. But it seems like we need a scapegoat and certainly some people and things are more likely candidates.

Tonight a hard rain is falling. This is good and we need it for the ground to soak it water deeply.
But the rain, I just found out, did not cancel the major fireworks at the lakefront tonight. It surely made for small attendance but this cannot be blamed on the chipmunks.

Our grandchildren got into the garden today to work. Our oldest grandson, nine, took the now dried out mint he picked last week, crushed it with his hands, pulled out the stems, bottled it and made a name for the bottle. It is a gift for his parents.

The garden provided another gift tonight for dinner. I asked my grandchildren to pick some grape leaves again today. They said they had picked many already and we had plenty. I pointed out that we had frozen the past ones and if they picked some today, grandma, the family grape leaf cook, might make some for dinner tonight. I told them to be subtle about it, just pick the leaves, bring them in the house and say they would be back latter to clean them. It worked and my wife made grape leaves for the first time this summer. I had purchased the most of the other ingredients already and made a quick trip to the Middle Eastern store in town to purchase fresh labna (yogurt) a cucumber and some homemade pieta bread. Of course the mint for grape leaves and labna was from the garden also. Dinner was good.

My wife does not get to be with the grandchildren as often as I do. But after today she is probably somewhat okay with that. A day or part of the day is fine. Four and half days is a workout. I am pacing myself

Unlike chipmunks, no matter what grandchildren do, it is hard to blame them for anything. God Bless the Children. Seek them out to learn more about the unconditional life and love of God.

July 2, 2007 A Day in the Life

Carolee feeding the ducks corn in the park

Hello, Worm here. Uncle Bob is tired out, so he asked us to write the diary tonight. After all it is called the “Diary of a Worm” for a good reason.

Before I describe Bob’s day you should know one thing about us worms. We are ‘we’ creatures. Like the persons in Palestine in the time of Jesus, we identify with the group we belong to not as individuals. We are the oldest and ultimate ‘we’ creatures that Bob is always talking about.

This morning when Bob woke up the children were still asleep. So he had a little time to check his email and do a few things. But soon the children were up and running. After a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, ingredients from the Whole Food store, the children were ready to go. Bob had them help in the garden for a while. Carson sifted out the last of the compost from the worm condo getting a little more of our castings, that Bob put on some of the plants to nourish them. Dustin and Carolee helped Bob fill up the bird feeder, which made for a great afternoon of birds in the garden eating. Bob’s move of the bird feeder over the worm depository has been a blessing for us. Bird droppings are undesired by most but for us they are more food.

Near noon Bob, his son and daughter-in-law and the three grandchildren went to the home base of Growing Power, where most of our ancestors passed through. The trip to the headquarters was to show the parents this operation and for the children to revisit. Also Bob needed some coir (coconut shavings) and more of us, worms. Normally Bob would not need any more of us, since we do a good job of reproducing, but he has been generous in sharing his worm enriched soil with others especially his two partners in the DMZ co-op gardens. Good old Bob has a little of the ‘we’ spirit in him. The two boys were helping Bob pick us out of the major worm depository outside in Growing Power till their parents came by and saw the state of dirt on their hands and shoes. They kept on helping Bob, but now with a small shovel and pitchfork till the buckets were full of compost and us.

On the way out of Growing Power Bob picked up a GP co-op delicious home grown watermelon. I know it was delicious because the farmers in the GP co-op all use worm power.

After Growing Power they all went to lunch at a local custard stand. I cannot describe too much of this event since they were eating meat, something we worms do not do.

Dustin and his worm sized fish

After lunch Bob and the boys came home and did a little work on the garden. The new members of the community were left in buckets since the worm condo was not ready for them yet. Than as promised they went fishing with a few of us and some corn. Since it was late afternoon and they had an appointment at Grandma’s library they went to a nearby park, Washington Park. This is the park Bob has described many times where he spent his childhood, etc, etc. Dustin caught a very small bullhead, not much larger than one of us worms.

Than after a quick stop at home to wash up it was off to Grandma’s Pat’s children library. This library is the scene of Uncle Bob’s so called magic show where with a use of a homemade time machine, a box, he showed the magic of us worms turning waste into black gold. The bigger boys at the show saw him switching cans underneath the box to speed up a process that takes us worms some time to do.

At the library Bob and Pat went around taking a few more pictures for the going away present of the head children’s librarian. In the meanwhile the children with the help of their mom registered for the summer reading program.

Back home again Bob got ready, with the children’s mom help, food for the cookout. While the meat (dirty word) was on the grill Bob drilled some holes in the bottom of the Worm Condo. When emptying the worm condo he noticed why the worm condo was so wet on the bottom and producing so little ‘tea.’ The cracks that Lo had made on the bottom of the condo were not adequate for drainage.

On a positive note about dinner they all enjoyed the garden grown salad that Bob had picked yesterday. This worm enriched food was a good contrast to “you know what” that they consumed. After dinner on the deck, Bob was able to get some time before the parents left to fill the worm condo with enough compost so we worms can get out of the buckets and start enjoying our new home, doing what we do: eating, casting and producing more worms.

It looked and seemed like it was gong to rain tonight but so far nothing of any significance.

After the parents left Peter watched the three children while Bob took a needed shower. Than it was Bob and the three children for the rest of the night till Pat got home around 9:15pm.

Bob has a way with the children, since he is like one of them. When they asked for a bedtime snack he said you could have watermelon, grapes or strawberries. The oldest boy, somewhat of a wise guy, said: “Is this a joke?” Bob said, “No it is a choice.” Bob put all three fruits out on the kitchen table and they all got to choose. The little three year old, when she came into the kitchen, took a box of some donuts who Mom had brought and put them in the middle of the table. Bob just said “no”, put the box back on the side counter and they all enjoyed their fruit snack.

When Pat got home and settled she relieved Bob and was putting them to bed. Just when she thought she had them down they would be up again. When Pat complained to Bob about having all three of them down here to put to bed, Bob offered to intercede. When Bob went to the living room the boys were settling down but Carolee was bouncing around. When Bob stopped her she started crying for her mommy. Bob made it clear that her mom was not around and that Grandma had gone to sleep. After settling the boys down he took Carolee to the kitchen. After she realized this was it, she settled down and started to smile. She and Bob shared some watermelon pieces together and drank some watermelon juice. By the time they were done the boys were sleeping and Carolee was ready to quietly go to sleep.

Bob is slick like a worm with children.

Now you noticed the day started in the garden and ended with Bob and Carolee sharing some worm enriched watermelon. We worms do not know what pride is but we sure like what we do for you and us.
There is much more to say about the day, but like Uncle Bob, we worms tend to go on and on. The end.

July 1, 2007 They are Here!

Garden June 30, 2007

My three grandchildren arrived today for a four-day visit with Papa Bob and Grandma Pat. They are full of energy and life as we learned again tonight when their parents went to Summerfest. Their parents will be here for tomorrow and Tuesday will go home. We will take them back up north Thursday.

My wife went all out tonight to please them while I helped but took a hands off approach. I have learned from experience that one must pace oneself when caring for grandchildren. I take advantage of any break I can but when I am with them it is all out.

Tomorrow we will get out in the garden. Once they start working in the garden they like it. However, the two older boys must see an example and have a definite job to so they can see results.

I picked a lot of greens today for a major salad but when my wife made authentic Mexico tostadas, only a small amount was needed for a topping. Tomorrow we will have the major salad for dinner. Of course the first food the children asked for when arriving was grape leaves. I told them they would have to ask Grandma about that. One of my grandsons, who only associates Grape leaves with Graf Family events, asked me who invented grape leaves. I explained to him they were a Middle Eastern dish that our ancestors created and passed on.

Speaking of grape leaves, there are many more to pick in the backyard along the fence. Maybe tomorrow we can get the three of them out there picking. Picking more will put subtle pressure on my wife to help us make some on her three days off Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

My oldest grandson, nine is the most imaginative of the group, something not always seen in the oldest child. He is already planning our float for the 4th of July parade in a park nearby. Last year we did a float with the theme of Growing Power and my granddaughter, who rode in the buggy dressed as a flower, won first prize for the best buggy. This year they brought with them their wagon and tomorrow we can start to design the float and consumes. I like the Growing Power theme and maybe with oldest son’s help we can come up with another variant of this theme. My granddaughter likes to play princess so maybe we can combine the princess idea with Growing Power and 4th of July. Any ideas anyone?

back to top

PR MINISTRY 414 379 4162, Publisher of Living Stones email newsletter and facilitator for Retreat in Daily Life.



back to top


Page last modified on November 01, 2007

Legal Information |  Designed and built by Wiki Gnome  | Hosted by Fluid Hosting  | Icons courtesy of famfamfam