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Something New, Something Spice - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Egg Curry Over Pasta

For dinner tonight I cooked an Indian recipe for Egg Curry that I had received at the Fair Trade Store last Saturday from an Indian native. It was good and had some spice to it. I have decided that the person I met last Saturday is originally from southern India. Both the recipes I received from this person had a little hot spice taste to them. It is in hotter climates, like the south of India, that you find the hotter spices. But this one was not too hot for my wife. Since she was working tonight till 9pm I saved some for her. She, my best food critic, enjoyed it. I had served it over pasta rather than rice or with Indian bread. However, like the recipe that I made last night, this was obviously an Americanized Indian recipe, since it used some already-mixed spices in a package and was not blended from scratch, as it would be in India. But it was new and good.

Other spice was found in my life today. The director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking as well as the newsletter coordinator of the Catholics for Peace and Justice for the first time sent out notices of our silent prayer vigil tomorrow to request Marquette University to Teach War No More. In the five weeks of lent so far we have gone from being threatened by arrest by police to being promoted by peace-makers. I am not sure this will translate into greater attendance, but it is nice to see.


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Seed or Dung? - Monday, March 30, 2009

“We are not even the seed. We are the dung preparing the land to receive the seed.” (Dorothy Day, “The Duty of Delight, The Diaries of Dorothy Day.” P.233)

Dorothy was talking about living in community as a cross when she wrote this entry on September 8, 1958 in her diary. We all have times and days when we feel that our work and hard efforts is not even the seed for things to come but just the dung preparing the way for the seed.

Today I planted seeds in flats in the sunroom and felt like I was planting seeds. Also today I finished the draft of an essay “To Make Peace Stop Teaching War” and then when, with a computer error, I lost the email and addresses of those I was sending the draft to I felt like the dung preparing for the seed.

I guess we all need to be the dung sometimes in order to get ready to be the broadcasters of the seed.


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The Truth Will Set Us Free - Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jesus is asked “What is Truth?

We easily say “The Truth Will Set You Free” but forget to mention the truth often hurts. Nature has different ways of dealing with hurt. Most plants just take the damage done to them, try to correct it, and if they cannot, die. Some animals suffer hurt alone while others seek the comfort of others. It is said that if a goose in formation is injured another goose stays with the injured until it recuperates and can rejoin the group. A mother bear will defend her injured cub with her life. Nature and creatures or humans can be hurt by nature, creatures or humans. But only humans can be hurt by truth. When humans are hurt by truth some avoid facing the truth, some run from it, while others react to it and seek revenge on the messenger to avoid the message.

Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and other persons of nonviolence said speak “truth to power”. Although they believed the truth will set us free, they knew all too well that the consequences of speaking truth often meant hurt and suffering. Most of us do not have the courage of these persons to speak truth to power when we know it will hurt. We run from the truth, or more frequently, keep busy and just do not face it.


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Fancy or Grounds for Garden - Saturday, March 28, 2009

Today I was going from working on the community garden and collecting wood chips to the coffee shop where last year I found a wealth of coffee grounds for making compost. I was driving by the Fair Trade for All store that is featured in the Just Trade web page. Driving by I remembered that this store and two stores next to it, a fashion garden store and an Irish dance retail store were all having a special event today. First I went to the garden store and saw a wonderful display of trellises, statues, flags and other garden related fashions. They were very attractive, some were antiques, but they were not affordable. I remembered thinking to myself I could probably buy some more trellises at Aldi grocery store again this year, rough them up a bit and make them look like some of these expensive antique trellises. However, the gourmet snacks in the garden store were very good.

Skipping the Irish dance store I went to the Fair Trade for All store. I know the woman who started the store and her daughter and son-in-law who help run it. Actually I had run out of Juan Ana Coffee and thought I could pick up a bag while waiting for the new order I placed last night to come. The son-in-law had told me some time ago he was placing a new order since he had run out. This is the coffee (which I had recommended to the store) that had to be raised in price since it was priced so reasonably that people did not think it was good. Also, although it is coffee directly from a co-op I visited in the village of San Lucas Toliman in Guatemala, and all the cost of this organic and delicious coffee goes to he people who grew and processed it, the coffee does not have a certified “fair trade” label on it. All I found in the store was “fair trade” coffee from a local coffee processor. The son-in-law again repeated that he was going to order some and as an apology said that his mother-in-law was going next week to visit my friend Ella of Ella’s patch quilts to purchase some ‘just trade’ items.


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Treasure Hunting - Friday, March 27, 2009

Earl Nightingale, the American motivational speaker, told the story of an African farmer who, hearing about the diamonds being discovered in his country, sold his farm and went hunting for the treasure of diamonds. The person purchasing the farm saw something sparkling in the creek one day. The farmer, after a long and fruitless search for diamonds, returned to his farm a broken and poor man. He discovered they were mining diamonds on his farm. The acres of diamonds, the treasure he had been hunting for, was on his own land.

I thought of this story today while working in the garden. I had invited my wife and son to join me, but my wife went to a children’s book fair to find some baby books for her library, and my son was busy cleaning his apartment and doing some artwork on the computer.

It was a beautiful sunny day to be working outside. Mostly I was raking and preparing the soil. When I raked the leaves off the perennial flowers and plants in the garden I discovered some flowers sprouting out of the ground. It is a beautiful sight as these flowers and plants poke their green selves out of the soil.

My wife returned from her hunt for baby books at a fair frustrated, and had to go out to another bookstore to hunt for particular books. My son tired of cleaning his apartment and being inside and eventually decided to walk to a place a ways away to play some pool. I just kept on raking and finding treasures of flowers and plants ready to spring up.


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Growing Upside Down Peace - Thursday, March 26, 2009

Upside Down Peace Symbol

Today I got in two good hours of working in the backyard garden. I restored the upside down peace symbol that form the wood chip pathways in the garden. Originally, in my years before knowing about Growing Power I had consulted a friend who was a former landscaper about my garden about the layout. She had suggested thos shape and how I could expand it over time. Now that the whole backyard is a garden I needed to renew the pathways. They used to be of gravel. But wood chips are a lot less expensive, sustainable and do not scatter throughout the garden. Between the wood chip piles at the city dump and at the DMZ garden wood chips are easily available.

A few new plans this year, the tomato and basil garden in part of the front lawn, planting upside down tomato containers along the fence and exploring turning cow dung to castings, along with maintenance and growth of backyard garden, vertical growers, rain garden should make for a healthy spring and summer. This work plus the community garden will keep busy me in a relaxing way. Hopefully it will not keep me out of trouble.


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Seek Peace and See Art - Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ignoring by Peter Graf

Despite my pleas, there was only a small turnout at the Marquette University Library tonight for our weekly vigil to end the teaching of war and values contrary to our faith on the Marquette University campus. I am starting to realize that we need to educate persons why we are silently speaking out against teaching war and that ‘To Make Peace, We Need to End Teaching War in Our Schools.’ I began an article tonight that I will share with you in a few days on this moral issue of teaching war in our schools.

The major contribution to today was given to us by my adult son, Peter. He gave us 29 of the 30 computer art pictures for a Gallery of Computer Art. The Gallery needs some ‘wiki’ tweaking, but is there on the web for all to enjoy. I have found it is best not to read too much into my son’s titles for his abstract computer art, but noted that two his titles were “ignored” and “ignoring.” Ignoring is what I find most educators do about the moral issue of teaching war in our schools.

So for tonight seek peace by stopping the teaching of war in our schools and see some interesting computer generated art.


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Seeds of Change - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Insert at Casa Maria

Seeds planted on fertile ground take root. This is what happened with the seed of the AIR Air Insulation Resource system that was planted at Casa Maria, Catholic Worker House of Hospitality this past winter. Neal, a graduate of Marquette University Engineering School, took the idea of the AIR system and ran with it at one of the Casa Maria houses, the one he and other workers of Casa Maria live in. With a group of volunteers he built inserts for most of the windows in the house he lives in. The windows are not the most aesthetic, and the measurements of energy savings were not clearly taken, but it worked and the house saved money on its energy bill.

The idea of the AIR, just like the idea of vermicomposting, composting with worms, is not new but is an urban application of a known but not well system.

If only Neal’s school of Marquette University can learn as he did from the wisdom of the past and realize that “teaching war” is not the way to create a peaceful society. Two ideas we presented to Marquette University this year, a garden of resistance, and debate and dialog on the moral issue of teaching war at a Catholic University, were both rejected by the powers that be at Marquette.


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Wisdom In Action - Monday, March 23, 2009

Dorthy Day Wisdom In Action

“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.” — Dorothy Day, 1952

These words of Wisdom from Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, came to me today via an email from a friend in Holland. So often I found myself reacting to words others say, and too often I hope that people will judge me by my actions, not my words.

Wisdom, “Sophia” in the Bible, is hard to find yet is everywhere. Today some friends asked me to be with their daughter Sophia part of the day since she was sick and home from school. This was an easy task since my young friend, Sophie as she has called, enjoys, as I do, watching the TV series ‘Spongebob Squarepants’. I had just recorded four new episodes that we watched together. A young child like Sophie can find wisdom even in a silly cartoon show like Spongebob.


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Stigma Stains the Soul - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today the sun and working outside warmed my soul. But also an email made me feel stigmatized. Ignoring the sun but hurting bythe stigma I looked on web page for a copy of my simple essay: “Stigma Stains the Soul”. I did not find it on the web page so I decided to use it for tonight’s posting. So instead of comments on the sun you get thoughts on stigma tonight. Tomorrow will be another day, the sun will rise and the hurt of the stigma will go away.

Stigmatizing a person
Is like calling the person morally defective,
A flawed human being.

In every stigma there is some truth,
The ‘mentally ill” usually are persons with a mental illness,
Persons who “talk too much” are usually very vocal.
“Terrorists” often do promote terror.

However, a stigma depersonalized the person receiving it,
Often justifying cruel and inhumane treatment.

It is difficult for one to accept the truth of the stigma,
Since accepting it often means accepting being less a human person.

Often, the people in the system that ‘treat’ the person with stigma,
The very persons that desire to stamp out the stigma,
Impose the biggest stigma of all on a person
By the way they treat the person with the stigma.
Sometime they are too condescending, talk about the person in their presence, like the person is a third party and not part of the conversation.

The best way, perhaps, to deal with stigma
Is to look at it as it as violence to the mind
And treat it in a creative non-violent way.
Thus not to react to it,
But to absorb it as it is,
No matter how much that it hurts.
So that by not reacting,
Not letting it stick to one’s soul,
It will naked, exposed and made powerless,
Thus be seen for what it is,
A stain to be cleaned,
Hurtful not healing,

Then and only then
Can the person stigmatizing see it?
And stop it,
And the person being stigmatized
Not identify with the stigma
But use it to more deeply understand who they are.


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Teach Gardening Not War - Saturday, March 21, 2009

Peace Rally Today

Today was a sunny day, a good day to spend outdoors. That I did, raking and watering leaves in the morning, in the afternoon at the 6th anniversary of the Iraq war peace rally, and shoveling and distributing wood chips at the DMZ community garden.

You might wonder why I was watering leaves. I was watering the leaves I moved from the rain garden in front of the house to the new front yard garden we are creating on the other side of front lawn. I was watering the leaves so they do not blow away. The wintered fall’s leaves should make a good base for this new front yard garden.

As the endless war in Iraq drags on the crowd at the anniversary of the start of the war becomes smaller. After years of protesting, and with a new president, the occupation of Iraq continues. In fact the occupation and war in nearby Afghanistan has escalated. The rally brought in a number of issues, economic issues at home, plight of immigrants, health care, the war in Afghanistan, but the rally is just for the faithful and awakens few persons to the real issues facing our crisis.


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Wake Up - Friday, March 20, 2009

On this first day of spring it became official: Michelle Obama, with a group of children, started an organic garden on the White House lawn. The Garden on the South Lawn “will be 1100 square foot kitchen garden that will provide food for family dinners and formal dinners.” It will have something like 56 varieties of organic herbs and vegetables. A group called Eat The View has been promoting this garden for a long time. I was surprised that only one of my ‘green friends’ mentioned it to me by email and none of the many “green web list servers” I receive even mentioned it. Oh well, maybe did they did not wake up yet to this good news.

The story goes that when the Buddha’s followers asked him who he was he replied: “I am awake.” I have one old friend always trying to ‘wake us up’ to the disastrous road he sees our country taking. Like me he is often criticized for being critical and pointing out conflicts. In fact I had to send today another old friend, who was upset at me for disagreeing with him on some very small things, a copy of Frederick Douglas’ quote on healthy conflict that appears on the Nonviolent Cow quote page. To be awake and aware means accepting conflicts and disagreements without “without questioning the motives of our adversaries.”


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Coming Attractions - Thursday, March 19, 2009

DMZ Today

With spring comes new life and new hope. Today at our monthly DMZ lunch we made plans to work on our community garden in the central city. This year we will try to involve more of the neighborhood persons around the garden in the growing and sharing of the food from the garden.

At a Catholics for Peace and Justice peace vigil tonight my hope was renewed that someday peace groups will come together and work together for peace; that the diversity of peace and justice groups will lead not to more competition for time and attention, not even to complementing each other; but to uniting to take on one issue at a time and thus build a lasting peace. I pray for unity in diversity.

I look forward to warm days to work outside in the garden here and at DMZ.

Soon the rain garden will hopefully explode with new flowers and new life.

And who knows maybe even the financial markets will stop taking down persons with their greed and start helping people build a healthy way of life.


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Before and After - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Before Garden 03/17/09

We have all seen those pictures of persons before and after trying a specific weight loss program. Well here is a before picture of the small garden in my backyard. I hope to show you this fall a full, green, food-producing garden.

Between the before and after there will be a lot of work. Also in addition to the garden pots along the driveway and the rain garden I hope to add a new raised garden on my front lawn. I have discovered that the front of my front lawn is about the only area on my property that receives sun most of the day.

I think we should evaluate all projects with a before and after approach. Before we take a course on a subject we should write down all we know about it and afterward do the same. Before we take an action for peace and/or justice we should see where things are and afterward do the same thing.

Some would call this evaluation, discernment or reflection. I think it is just plain common sense. Or better yet, it is the way of nature. If a plant is a certain way before a storm, after the storm it will try to return to the way it was before. If before an animal is fed a bell rings, after it is fed it will listen for another bell.


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Welcome Spring! - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

There are many ways to calculate the first day of spring. The calendar says it is March 21st. Spiritually some may say it is Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I heard a weatherman on TV say that weatherpersons have their own way meteorically to calculate spring. For me the green of spring came today, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.

For one thing it is the second warm and sunny day in a row, something we have not seen for a long time. Also today was the first day this year that I worked up a sweat working in the garden, and came in and took a shower. As I was raking the leaves up in the garden I could see green sprouts coming up. The ground, although still frozen, was a rich and loose black on top. I spotted a few worms below the leaves had survived the winter. The birds were singing in the tree next door, the same old song asking me to once again fill up the bird feeder. Also I changed the flag on the pole in front of the house to a flowery one to Welcome Spring.

Now that spring is finally here it is time, at least for me, to draw back into the silence in my self. My spirits, like seeds, needs to be buried in the warm ground of my soul, to take root so it can spring, like the plants into the sun and air all around.

St. Patrick’s Day being the first day of spring in my world was a happy coincidence. St. Patrick’s day means green beer and also means wearing the green.

So in the silence of this season of Lent, time of repentance, we bring out the green, work in the garden and welcome spring.


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Recipe For Life - Monday, March 16, 2009

I am still processing my experiences of my Pilgrimage of Peace this past winter. Here is a summary of where I am at in this endeavor.

It was a great blessing to be part of the “Pilgrimage of Peace: Walk in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi.” Two concepts, nonviolence and sustainability, were incarnated for me in our journey with present day followers of Gandhi.

Nonviolence was made real as our bus made its orderly way through the chaos of the roads in India. There were taxis, bikes, cars, cows, camels, motorcycles, trucks, buses, all making their way down the two lane roads, passing each other in a third lane (that did not exist) in the middle of the road. Beeping the horn was the way of communication and all was well if you had faith in the driver and did not look out the window.

Sustainability was visiting a “cow” farm where the main products of the cows was not milk or meat but cow dung. The dung was used for fertilizer, compost for worms, bio-fuel, insulation, medicine and even toothpaste. I was so impressed by the contributions of cows to sustainability — the wild cows, that just did what they wanted to do and the domestic cows on the farms — that I changed my web domain name to from


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Just Do Not Want To Hear - Sunday, March 15, 2009

Charles Darwin

On this Idles of March I am aware there are many things we just do not want to hear. Here are ten with names of groups who just do not want to hear it.
I am sure there are many others. Do you have some?

1) Fundamental Christians and Agnostics: Darwin had a strong belief in God when he wrote the “Origin of Species”.

2) Peace Activist: We are watching the war in Afghanistan escalating and following the path of wars in Iraq and Vietnam while we do the same old protesting, petitioning and talking.

3) Anti-abortion persons and Pro-abortion persons: Human life is sacred from inception to natural death and human life after birth is as sacred as human life before birth.

4) Catholic Bishops: You are also responsible for the ‘sexual scandal’ in the Church.

5) Marquette University: The military teaches on campus military values contrary to Christian values and teaches war on campus.

6) War Hawks: Violence breeds more violence and war makes more war.

7) Pacifist: There is justification for self-defense.

8) White Liberals: There is no such thing as color blindness in USA.

9) White Conservatives: Saying something repeatedly does not make it true.

10) Urban growers: Cow dung is valuable for organic growing.


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Dustin Is Nine! - Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dustin Modeling His New Clothes

Dustin, my grandson, was nine last Monday, March 9, 2009. Now they call being nine on the ninth day of the month your ‘golden’ birthday. Since I was 13 on Jan. 13th, which just happened to be a Friday, that was my ‘golden’ birthday. But I did not know it. I have not done the math but I wonder if everyone has a golden birthday before they are 32? Golden birthdays must have been conceived by a thirty-some person.

I like to think that with age comes wisdom. However, in some ways, more so for some of us, with age comes a return to the foolishness of childhood. One of my grandchildren’s and my favorite TV shows is SpongeBob SquarePants, one of the most ridiculous cartoons around. Now thirty-some persons, like my grandchildren’s parents, do not understand our connection with the innocent silliness of SpongeBob.

I think wisdom does come with age. I can tell that whenever I have communication with a thirty-some person about historical events in 50’s –70’s. This was the time that I grew from a teen to adult in and they were not yet born. When talking about events, especially political events, like civil rights and peace activities they just have a different attitude. Many of us just did what we thought was the right thing in the sixties and it felt good. The sixties were the generation of the ‘be ins’ marches and happenings. We were idealistic. Thirty-some people talk about strategic planning meetings, working behind the scenes, being non confrontational, gradual change and being practical.


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Prasad’s Mother - Friday, March 13, 2009

Prasad’s Mother and Pilgrim Joan

The news came the other day that Prasad, a leader in the Gandhian movement in India who had been our guide on the Pilgrimage of Peace, had lost his mother. I heard the news from Prasad’s wife Dr. Kranthi and passed it on to the other USA pilgrims. But I did know what to say or write to Prasad. Prasad was essential to our pilgrimage following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, but not knowing his mother I did not know what to say.

Today, another pilgrim, Joan, who had stayed longer with Prasad and his family in India, forwarded a picture Prasad’s wife had sent her of herself and Prasad’s mother together. Looking at the picture I knew instantly that I did know Prasad’s mother.

She shared the same general facial features as her son. Her kind smile and gesture to Joan in the picture was something I did recognize. The gentleness and kindness in Prasad’s presence was in her face. But most of all I recognized in the picture the spirit of nonviolence that I felt with Prasad.


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Flower Full or Flowerless - Thursday, March 12, 2009

Flower Full Kitchen Window

Two observations book-ended my day. One was this morning when entering the kitchen I noticed four flowers in the middle of our window ledge at various stages of bloom. You might not know that spring is coming from the cold temperature outside, but the kitchen window knows it, and is flower full. The kitchen window is the only part of our heated house that gets a good dose of sun. (The sunroom is unheated by the house heating system.) So most of plants in the rest of the house are green and grow without much sunlight, but the flowers in the kitchen window are where the color is. Just as the sun, flowers brighten our spirits.

The other observation was tonight when my adult son and I went to visit a friend in the House of Correction, the county correctional jail facility. County jails have become the new mental health facilities for poor persons. The largest mental health facilities in the country are county jails, with the L.A. county jail holding the largest number of persons with mental illnesses in the USA. Our friend is a good adult who happens to have an illness that when untreated gets him into trouble. The last time he acted out, threatening suicide, he was taken to the county mental health hospital. However, after a few days when he started to get a little better he was taken to jail for a probation revocation. The previous occurrence was for a time he acted out in a police station after being arrested unjustly. The treatment in jail for mental health is poor. This person is the one who helped me start the home Growing Power model and is a person who needs treatment, not prison.


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Death, Illness and Hard Heart - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Message to Soften Hearts

News of death and illness filled my day. Early this morning news came from India that the mother of Prasad, our guide on the Pilgrimage of Peace, had died. I had just heard a few days ago from Prasad’s wife that his mother was very sick but now was fine. Now she rests in peace.

My family has been affected by many illnesses. One of the worst is mental illness. Although mental illnesses run in every family they are often not understood as illnesses and have all kinds of stigma attached to them. So it was sad to hear today that a family member is seriously sick with a mental illness.

Another friend, a regular member of our hour of prayer to stop the teaching of war at Marquette University wrote me today that her mother was seriously ill and in intensive care in the hospital.

Finally tonight I talked with a member of Faith In Recovery, mental health ministry, at Church whose mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, a tragic illness, and is no longer able to attend Church and our faith-sharing group. This person also suffers from a mental illness so the gradual loss of his mother to this disease is extremely hard to bear.


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Psalm In Face Of Embedded Violence - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Child in Sierra Leone

(Today was another dark rainy day and now the wind is blowing hard. Here is a psalm that I found in my heart today.)

When I see violence in nature, an animal slaying its prey, I expect it.
When I see violence in society, man killing man, I want to cry.
But my heart has been so hardened by violence often I just look away.

I do not want to see the cruelty of the hundreds of thousands of exiles driven out of Iraq.
I do not want to hear about the daily killings in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I do not want to touch those whose minds or bodies have been injured by violence.
I do not want to smell the odor in run down apartment buildings for the poor.
I do not want to taste the food humans are forced to eat to survive.

There is no way I can open my heart to all this violence without despairing.
I cannot stop the violence embedded in our society.


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Roll Out the Barrels - Monday, March 09, 2009

Rain Barrels Ready to Roll

Roll out the rain barrels, prepare the five-gallon pails, ready the greenhouse, spring is a-coming. Although it is too cold for working outside and the ground is still frozen, soon will be the day for planting seeds in the house, greenhouse and garden.

With seeds and spring comes hope that we, working together, can grow and make peace, green peace. Hope keeps us going all year around but is especially needed in the last throes of winter.

As worms inspired these web page years ago, may the cow renew it this spring. With spring approaching I need to contact persons in India, where the cow and cow dung are key to growing. Also I need to talk to my son’s neighbors who have a Dairy Farm with plenty of cows whose primary product, unlike in India, is milk, not dung. Before I can apply the use of cow dung to urban growing I need to learn more about cows. The teachers are out there but I need to seek them out, learn and listen.

I will keep this diary posted on what I learn from the cow for urban growing.

Today I added three links to “What’s New on the Nonviolent Cow?” on the front page. My son, Peter, has been doing some wonderful art with the paint program on the computer. He showed me one today, called wait and when I showed him how easy it is to add it to his web page he said let’s do some more tomorrow. The barrel gets ready to roll.


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All Is Well! - Sunday, March 08, 2009

Julian of Norwich

All things shall be well
You shall see for yourself that
All manner of things shall be well
Julian of Norwich

With more daylight today, even though it was a dark rainy day, comes more joy. Now the ground is soaked with a wealth of water and ready for spring planting.

My small talk after church brought in four possible new members to make home visits in our Society of St. Vincent De Paul Conference. The Society of St. Vincent De Paul’s main mission is to make home visits to families in need and to provide them with some of the basics of life, food, clothing, beds and appliances. Our church is in one of the poorest parts of the city and thus gets the most requests for help. We really need more home visitors. My pitch to the members of the Church was that God gave his grace and blessings to the poor and by visiting with them we will receive God’s blessings.

My friends, Sri Prasad and his wife, Dr. Kranthi sent me an email explaining why they have not responded recently to offers to help market goods from the Gandhi Ashram at Sarvodaya. Prasad’s mother had been very sick and he went to be with her. She is well now. It is good to know that someone is not ignoring you. Dr. Kranthi in the same email pointed out one of my errors in making her recipe for Dal on the Indian Recipe page. Although I knew the dal did not look right it tasted good. I will need to make it again and redo the picture on the site. All will be well with the picture.


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More Daylight - Saturday, March 07, 2009

Saving Daylight

Tonight is daylight savings time change. We lose an hour of darkness to gain an hour of light. Not feeling in good health, I am glad to lose this extra hour of night and gain more daylight. Daylight brings health and wellness while night just brings loss.

Tonight we watched a movie recorded from the ‘Sundance’ channel call “Man Push Cart.” There was really no story to the movie just a series of events in the life of a Pakistani pushcart vendor in New York City. My wife and I joked that the movie had no beginning, middle or end, just some happenings that left you hanging at the end. Some may call it existential or just plain hopeless. Some may say this is the way life is, just a series of random events that leave us nowhere.

I rather take the daylight savings view that for every loss, like the hour, tonight, there is a gain, like in more sunlight tomorrow. Yes, life may seem to have no meaning and not much hope but there is always something to look forward to in every setback or loss, even though it is only an hour of daylight.

With all the rains we are receiving today the ground should be soaked and ready for spring. When suffering a loss, it is time to move on. For what may seem a loss, a rainy day inside, may really be a gain.

Unlike the “Man Push Cart” in the movie there is hope that with more daylight we can move on.


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Spring Back To Fall - Friday, March 06, 2009

Walking to and from the mailbox today I noticed that now, after the snow has finally melted, many signs of life that were evident last fall have returned. There still was a “Congratulation to Aaron in the Air Force” sign on one of the houses. There were many garden ornaments that have reappeared. Also I saw dead plants and leaves that had fallen and been covered by the winter snow. My own rain garden took on the look today of last fall, covered with wet leaves.

Spring, soon to come, pretends that winter did not happen, that death was just passing. As daylight savings time sets in this weekend, new life will spring up from when it fell last spring.

This winter I suffered the loss of family and friends. One of them, Jim Harney was a member of the Milwaukee 14. Tonight we watched a DVD made on his life that was shown after his memorial service. To see and hear the passion of Jim about the violence of war lit the fire in me to do something, as limited as it may be, about stopping war.


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Don’t Fight Forces, Use Them - Thursday, March 05, 2009

Geodesic Dome

“Don’t fight forces, use them.” A friend sent me this quote by Buckminster Fuller recently. It brought back many memories. A long time friend had introduced me to the writings of Buckminster Fuller back in the early seventies. My friend had some kind of contact with Buckminster Fuller and shared with me some of the philosophies and inventions Fuller had come up with in asking the question throughout his life: “Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?” One of his ideas that he developed and popularized was the geodesic dome. More recently I was at the Discovery World children’s musuem in Milwaukee where my grandson was fascinated by The Dymaxion map created by Fuller. This map “was designed to show Earth’s continents with minimum distortion when projected or printed on a flat surface.” Right in middle of this map, which folds out, is the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world.

But besides memories, the Fuller quote reminds me of the garden and nonviolence. The garden does not fight forces of nature, wind, water and sun, but uses them as best it can. Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham jail, talks about how “disciplined nonviolence totally confused the rulers of the South.” When people did not fight the forces of clubs, dogs and guns used against them “they found the world was watching, and then the power of nonviolent protest became manifest.”


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Teach War No More - Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Area students from 13 schools
are bussed to MU for military training
in war

(An open letter to Marquette University Administrators)

Dear Father Wild S.J., President of Marquette University, Ms. Stephanie Russell, Executive Director of the Office for Mission and Identity, and Father Simon Harak S.J., Director of the Center for Peacemaking:

Thank you for allowing us to pray silently for an hour today in the student union. Last week, when we were in the Father Raynor Memorial library security and Milwaukee police questioned whether they needed to arrest or ticket us for our Lenten hour of Prayer.

As you may know, we are doing a silent hour of prayer and witness each week in Lent for, as our banner says: “Marquette, Do Not Teach War No More.” We are the same informal alumni, donors, students, staff and community citizens that for the last few years have asked for a dialog or debate, and protested on the moral issue of Marquette hosting four departments of military science for 14 local colleges and universities.

Father Wild S.J. has consistently said that there is “no dialog possible” on this issue. However he did say an open debate on the issue was possible on campus. Campuses are known for civil debates and discussion of issues. However, Father Harak S.J. and Ms. Russell, who were to arrange the open and civil debate, have so far failed to keep their word.

So now after 41 years of resistance to the military on campus we have resorted to what we perhaps should have tried at first, prayer.


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Taste to See - Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dal from Moong Beans

Before I went on the pilgrimage of peace to India I had never heard of Dal. After having it served at most meals I thought it was a form of lentils. When I came home I knew that it was good and wanted to make it. So when I got the recipe for Dal from Dr. Kranthi, one of our guides on the pilgrimage, I was anxious to make it. When I went to the local Indian store I learned that Dal was not just lentils but is a “preparation of pulses (dried beans) which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. It also refers to the thick, spicy stew prepared therefrom, a mainstay of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine.” (Wikipedia) So tonight when I took out the recipe for Dal sent to me, I chose to use the Moong Dal beans to make Dal. Whole these beans are green, but split, like I purchased them, they are yellow. So following Dr. Kranthi’s recipe the best I could, I created my own form of Dal. It had the texture of polenta, something I do not like because it tastes bland to me. But this Dal tasted excellent. My wife and son liked it, so I will try it again, next time using a different type of bean purchased at the local Indian store.

On the Indian Recipes web page there is another way to make Dal that a fellow pilgrim and friend sent me. It will probably look different and may have a different texture, but probably have the same great taste.


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The Bag Man Cometh - Monday, March 02, 2009

Some of the bags around the house

I feel that during this time of waiting for spring some of my postings have become preachier than observations. As Father Purcell S.J. taught me, observations are looking deeply into small things. So I will try for a while, except when explaining lessons learned from the garden, to see deeply into small observations.

Today I took my friend Ella Brooks to the hospital to pick up the month’s supply of medicine that she and her ailing husband need. She sells her patch quilts to pay for the cost of the medication not covered by health insurance. I usually just drop her off at the front door; she takes in a few empty bags and after about 10 minutes she came out with bags full of medicine.

This morning she asked me to come in with her to carry the bags. Due to the snowy weather I dropped Ella off at the front door where she was to wait for me while I parked the car. After parking the car I came in ready to be of help. We proceeded to the pharmacy for the medicine. When we got there she asked me “where are the bags?” I had left them in the car, so went back to get them. By the time I returned to the pharmacy Ella had three large plastic bags of medicine to put in the cloth bags.


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Inconvenient Truth - Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mexico Drug War

Al Gore’s movie on global warming was called “An Inconvenient Truth.” There are lots of ‘inconvenient truths’ out there. Most of them we would rather ignore than face their harsh reality and do something about them.

One of them that is becoming harder to ignore is the escalating violence and control of Mexico by the drug cartels. The drug cartels’ growing control of Mexico is possible only through the money and weapons that flow into Mexico from the USA. The money is from the sale of drugs and the guns, mostly assault weapons, are from US gun dealers — and the failure to restrict assault weapons in the USA. While the USA helps Mexico stop the production of drugs, the real solution is in the USA where there is the demand for drugs and the easy availability of guns that have no purpose except to kill people.

When Richard Nixon first became president with a promise of making our streets safer, the story goes that he called together his top advisers and asked them what was the easiest and most effective way to reduce crime. They told him to allocate money for drug treatment. He did and for some years crime in the USA went down. Of course after he won a second term and the “Watergate” situation broke open the extensive money for treatment for drugs was forgotten and never resumed to the same level. The USA would like to give guns to both sides of the drug situation in Latin America and provide military aide to fight drugs rather than offer treatment and reduce demand, the most effective means to stop the drug cartels, along with with banning assault weapons.


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