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

Greens Yearning to Grow


Garden 07/30/08

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Parables are Good - Thursday, April 30, 2009

My plans to plant flower bulbs were rained on today. My hope is in tomorrow. However, having an inside kind of day I was able to get some more seeds planted inside and some seedlings transplanted into larger containers. Tomorrow maybe I can plant the flower bulbs, maybe.

It was a good day to catch up on some computer email stuff. A friend rewrote my parable on Monday’s posting. You can now find the new and improved version on the new Parable web page. My friend made it more dramatic and threw in a few old sayings to give it a more authentic look. It is still a draft and the name of parable is subject to change.

Parables are an old way of teaching a moral point with a word picture without preaching. Jesus, Gandhi and very ancient thinkers like Chuang Tzu of Taoist strain in Chinese thought used parables. I am not a wise teacher but have used them in the past. People can read what they want into a parable and often what they think they see makes them mad.


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Flowers of the Common Good - Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Amsterdam Flower Market

This April has been cold but some plants need to go in the ground outside. A friend gave me fifty lilies from Holland with the instructions that they needed to be planted by this weekend. So the lily bulbs and some other ones I have, mostly from Holland, will go in the ground tomorrow. Holland seems to be the place for flower growing bulbs.

Back in 1994 my wife and I made a tour of Europe starting off visiting a friend who lives outside of Amsterdam. While in Amsterdam we visited the Flower Market. While most cities in USA have farmers markets, and in Guatemala craft markets, in Holland the flower markets are the place to be.

In Holland health care, education, basic needs are provided to anyone by the government. People, even those who are rich, do not seem to mind paying taxes for these services for everyone. The role of the government is for the common good and that is okay.

Laws are loose about such things as prostitution and drugs but there seems to be less abuse of sex or drugs than in other counties.

My friend and his wife both came to Holland for various reasons but ending up staying, as their now-adult children have.


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Walls - Monday, April 27, 2009

Front Garden Walls

The wall around the front lawn raised garden bed is almost done. Now the growing work begins, covering the contained earth with compost, enriched compost and top soil and planting. My wife is not too excited about having a vegetable garden on the front lawn but as long as it looks good she said okay. Thus I hired a professional to do the wall. He was overwhelmed with work so just got to almost finishing today. Now I need to work within the walls to create a garden.

The front lawn garden will add a new dimension to Growing Renewable Affordable Food (G.R.A.F.) home model system. The walls define the garden area 10’ X 25’, but what grows in the walls will define the garden’s success.


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Parable: Indifference Or Protest? - Monday, April 27, 2009

A PAO (Peace Advocate Organizer) decided to throw a big party for his peace friends. There was going to be black tie dinner at the local university that is the host to the military in the region. It would be a good opportunity for peace makers to educate the ‘powers that be’ at the school about the teaching of war that was taking place on campus.

The PAO invited all his peace friends, especially those concerned with the militarization of society and the education system. So the participants could develop the strategy of the peace advocacy he asked everyone invited to respond with a yes or no by a few days ahead of the dinner.

The peace making invitations went out to many in the peace community, but only a few responded, two said no and one said yes. The PAO sent out another invitation pleading the peace persons not to be ‘indifferent’ but say yes or no to the invitation. He even included a quote from the Holocaust survivor Elie Wisel that said “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

The day before the dinner there was still no response. It looked like just the one yes response and the PAO would be present. There was no need for planning.

However, the day of the dinner, the one friend who had said yes made some calls and literally went out on the streets to bring persons to the event. So despite the invited persons being indifferent, a decent group of persons showed up to say No to teaching War at the University.


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Hard Rain Falling - Sunday, April 26, 2009

Little Dorrit

Yesterday and today a hard rain was falling. The rain canceled out our neighborhood day of work at the DMZ community garden and the building of the stone wall around my front lawn garden. Also due to the rain my wife and I canceled our drive to the country for dinner to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We still went out to dinner at a local restaurant, but the country drive did not make sense on a dark stormy day.

On the brighter side of life tonight was the final episode of the Masterpiece Theater presentation on PBS of the Charles Dickens story “Little Dorrit”. Like most Dickens novels the stories and characters are complicated and intricate but hold your attention. TV needs to simplify the Dickens novels, but the BBC broadcast still kept the spirit of the story alive. All Dickens stories seem to be of poverty and destitution but end happily for the main characters. I can see why Dickens was so popular a writer ever since his own time.

In this story “Little Dorrit” is born in a debtor’s prison, suffers a hard life, but survives to meet the love of her life and enjoy prosperity.

Poverty and destitution are like a hard rain falling. Both make the times tough to endure but you know deep down that if you can endure it the rain and the hard times will lead to joy and new life.

This week I need to plant some more flower bulbs so that the April showers we now face will bring May flowers.


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Be The Difference - Saturday, April 25, 2009

Or Not?

As a youth minister one of my favorite songs was: “Go Make A Difference”. It has a solid beat and with the use of repetition it can be motivating music for putting one’s faith into practice.

Marquette University, a Jesuit Catholic University in Milwaukee, has as its slogan: “Be the Difference.” Some of us, many MU alumni, tried to put this slogan into action tonight at the Marquette Alumni Award Dinner. We went to the doors of the Alumni Memorial Union, where the event was to be held, with our sign: “Marquette University Teach War No More?” and a flyer of how To Make Peace by Stopping the Teaching of War.

We have been witnessing for the 8 weeks of Lent to this message on various sites on the Marquette University campus. The Marquette administration had decided to allow us to witness to our message on campus. The difference tonight, however, was that this was a black tie dinner for alumni and donors. Marquette decided tonight not to allow us to witness to this message. With MU security officers and City of Milwaukee police at all the entrances we were not allowed to be in the union or anywhere on Marquette property. So we stood on the street at the entrance to the parking lot for this black tie event.

I guess to “Be the Difference” has its limits when rich alumni are involved. Can Marquette make a difference where Money or Morals is involved?


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Non-Doing - Friday, April 24, 2009

“I’m doing nothing.
Ask the water buffalo.”

Reflecting on “A Book of Hours”, quotes from Thomas Merton, I came across his idea of “non-doing”. He says:
“Hence it is said:
‘Heaven and earth do nothing
Yet there is nothing they do not do.’
Where is the man who can attain
To this non-doing?”

I believe I understand Merton’s idea of “non-doing”, entering into the Silence, the ‘now’ that cuts Time like a blade.

When I was younger and unemployed I used to answer the inevitable question of ‘what do you do’ with the answer: “nothing.” For I knew that people where not really asking what I do but what my employment was. Now I am retired from working for employment persons always think that I am not working.

A ‘working for a living’ friend and I are working on a nonviolent project together. Recently when I inquired about something he said he had not responded to me because he was “doing” so much. I know he meant his employment as a handyman. He has a lot of “jobs” going on. The person doing the wall in my garden keeps on postponing the work saying how he is doing, working on jobs for money, so much.

Most persons seem to doing so much these days and when it is for employment it is given priority over other kinds of work.


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Up and Down Day - Thursday, April 23, 2009

Celebrating a Tragedy

On William Shakespeare’s birthday we think
It was an up and down day.
It was sunny and it was cloudy.
It was rainy and it was dry.
The contractor finally brought the stone for the wall in the front garden,
But once more he did not work on the wall and some of the stone was wrong.
I attended a MICAH prayer vigil for a 19 years young woman full of promise and hope,
Who was killed as she sat on her front porch with friends one dark night last week.
A friend in jail for mental health issues was finally released,
But not given the medicine that he dearly needs.
I worked on the garden
But not nearly enough.
It was a day of small tragedies and small celebrations,
A day of ups and downs
But just like every day,
All’s well that ends well


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Spaceship Earth - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spaceship Earth

Buckminister Fuller said that we are all crew members on the Spaceship Earth. To keep the spaceship functioning we all need to work together. Sometimes on this earth we do and sometimes we do not work together. War, violence, abuse of natural resources, global warming are all examples of how, when we are in conflict with each other and the earth, Spaceship Earth goes off course, sometimes resulting in disasters. Peacemaking, sustainability, justice, and stewardship of the environment are examples of ways we work together to keep the spaceship operating and working. Earth Day gets bigger and more important each year as we realize how we have abused the earth and threatened Spaceship Earth.

Today I got my son Peter to work with me in the garden, He as reluctant but finally did. I could tell the healing power of the soil took effect when he came in and went straight to the basement to play music on his drum set. He was a full crew member of Spaceship Earth for a time today.

A Catholic Worker couple and their daughter came over tonight for dinner. They both struggle with mental health issues but with their faith, love of family and by accepting care are overcoming, day by day, their illnesses. The natural cures of faith, working with the earth, love and accepting care and help have made them stronger human beings, despite their weaknesses. This couple are crew members of Spaceship Earth who are working together to stay on course.


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Three Sisters - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Three Sisters Gold Coin

On the Pilgrimage of Peace to India I observed that in rural institutes like Navdanya often used a method of growing various plants together, called “companion planting”, or polycuture, a very old and sustainable way of planting crops. I have been asking friends about what plants grow well together. One friend suggested the Three Sisters squash, maize (corn) and climbing beans. These Three Sisters are the main agriculture crops of some Native American groups in North America. He admitted he did not know about planting the three together but thought of it because the Three Sisters are pictured on back of the Sacagawea American Gold Dollar coin.

Maybe I will try this grouping in the garden in the back of the house since I already grow beans and squash there. However, in the new garden in front of the house I would like to find another plant that goes with the two the full sun plants of tomatoes and basil? Any suggestions? Maybe some oregano and green peppers, keeping with the Italian theme and with sun dependent plants.


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Ordinary or Extraordinary Tree - Monday, April 20, 2009

Ordinary Tree

The posting last night had a picture of an extraordinary tree representing Mother Nature. The posting tonight has a picture of an ordinary tree in Milwaukee, shot recently at a prayer vigil for a victim of violence. This ordinary tree struck me because of its V shape. Although it was still winter barren, you know that the tree will soon be full with the leaves of spring. We are now in the time in between winter and full spring. Tonight the temperature is 33 degrees, and in a few days it is expected to be in the sixties.

Daily life is like that, somewhere between the ordinary and extraordinary. Daily life can be seen as a young child discovering new things, or as one hard of heart doing the same old, same old. As spring comes it is easier to see daily life as extraordinary. Flowers are starting to bloom and this old V shaped tree will soon be full of new life. The beauty of nature and this way of living life can also be felt in the colors of the fall. In the cold of winter or the heat of summer it is more difficult to find the extraordinary beauty of ordinary daily life, but it is still there.

Miracles are extraordinary and ordinary life is not. However, as Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” Take another look as this ordinary tree on a Milwaukee street. If you look hard enough you can see it is extraordinary.


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Mother Nature - Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mother Nature

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them all according to each one’s need.”

The above is a not a description of a Venezuela’s socialist community or of the dream of some utopian society, but is the description of how the early followers of the Way of Jesus lived after Jesus lived, died and resurrected. This is just a quote from the Bible of how they lived and why this early community was so appealing.

This style of communal living and sharing has been lost, especially here in the USA where individualism reigns. However, Mother Nature keeps this spirit of living for the common good alive. It can be seen in working with the earth and in women.


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Magic Flute of Observations - Saturday, April 18, 2009

This morning at breakfast when reading the sports section on this day of the celebration of Earth Day, I read in the newspaper about the good ‘crop’ of football players in the college draft for the NFL.

After working in the garden and really getting my hands in the soil I felt really good, proving the point of the featured article, Nature’s Bounty, Soil Salvation that “messing around in your own garden proves to be nature’s fruitful way of cultivating your health — physically and psychologically.”

On the way to Church this afternoon to give a talk after mass for my wife on the Faith In Recovery mental health ministry, I had to slow down for a young man driving in circles in the middle of an intersection while talking on a cell phone, and had to pass a man on a cell phone slowly driving his car, which was pushing another car. Talking about ‘crazy’ — that was crazy.

Tonight I saw my first real opera, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. The original opera was in Mozart’s native language, German, but tonight it was in English with an English translation overhead just in case you could not understand the words. It was not what I expected an opera to be, not in Italian and more of a moral story, light conquering darkness, triumphs of true love, and life overcoming death. Many of the universal themes of life, learned from nature, were expressed in the opera.

There were more random observations to be made today but I was not always awake.


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Children’s Friends - Friday, April 17, 2009

A Californian friend and son in ‘06

This afternoon a fellow SpongeBob fan, 9 year old Sophia, came over to help in the garden. Her parents are friends we met in the last year. She and I planted some kale seedlings. Kale is a semiannual perennial, but last year everyone was reporting kale not returning. So I grew some new plants from seeds and today, sunny and warm, some of the seedlings went on their own into a mound.

A friend from Church we have known for about 5 years has a daughter who is disabled. I advocated for the adult daughter getting rent assisted housing and today we three, mother, adult daughter and I went over to pick up the key and finish the paperwork for a very nice apartment at very affordable price.

For a Middle Eastern dinner tonight a young couple came over. Both set of their parents were friends, as we were with both sets, in the 60′s. One parent couple had gone to Ireland to live, where they had the young man who came over tonight. The other parent couple moved to rural Wisconsin and had the young woman who came over tonight. After about 16 years the one parent couple returned from Ireland. The two parent couples got together for a visit and the teenage boy and girl met for the first time. Skip ahead many years and now they are married and have careers here in Milwaukee.

Our new friends and our old friends have children who now are friends. Like a garden renewing with new plants from the seeds of the old plants, our friends’ children renew friendships in our lives.


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Call and Listen - Thursday, April 16, 2009

Biodegradable Cell Phone Flowering

I am slowly discovering phone calls communicate much better than emails. In a phone call your words are not frozen, like the hard ground in winter or in an email. You can respond and clarify.

Many of my friends do not use email. Yesterday on a phone call to a friend reminding her about a Faith in Recovery meeting Sunday I learned that her daughter whom I had helped apply for low income housing assistance got it. Today on a phone call from the same friend I was asked to drive her and her adult daughter tomorrow to sign the papers and seal the deal. This was good news.

Tonight a friend from Florida called. We communicate by email but the phone makes communications much clearer and personal. Near the end of the conversation I noticed an incoming call from an “unknown number.” Before I could get off the phone with my friend I had missed the called. It turns out to have been my friend Prasad from India. Although he has email he, like most Indians, prefers phone calling. Cell phone use in India, like in the Middle East, is the main means of communications with rich and poor. I regret missing his call again since I have some questions and comments to share with him.


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Choosing Nature - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I could have chose nature

The frustration for me today was not paying my taxes but my efforts to transfer data from my old computer to a new one. The new computer had a program to make the process easy. All was going well for a while but when I went to put some of the files from the old computer on the new one it did not work. This is a transfer that I did not plan out today and when it did not work I was tempted to keep on trying it. After being frustrated by my failure I realized that I had planned to do something much better today, work outside on the gardens.

So I stopped being frustrated by the failure of the computer transfer and went outside to work for about 3 hours. I had some struggles working outside, like putting together the two vertical growers, but nothing to match the frustration I felt inside. I did some raking, digging, planting, preparing, working on rain barrels and worm moving. At the end of the work time on the garden I still had a lot of work to do but felt good.


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Nature’s Way - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vertical Growers 2008

It was the night before tax filing day and it is still cold and raining. However, the word from the weatherman is that tomorrow, tax day, spring will come again for three days of sunny and warm weather. The shovels are ready, the ground is prepared, the small greenhouse is set up outside, the vertical growers are ready to go outside, flowers are preparing to bloom and all will be well the next three days. So goes my hope in nature, Easter and spring.

Tomorrow is getting out and get ready day with hopefully the front garden wall going up. Thursday is preparing day for the DMZ garden and Friday a young friend and her mom are coming over to help and a professional landscaper will be here for dinner.

So if nature has its way I will be set for the next few days. If not, so be it.

(There are new quotes on the quote page including ones from Merton. Dorothy Day and Gandhi.)


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You Can’t Beat the System - Monday, April 13, 2009

One in every 31 U.S. adults is in
the corrections system

The Justice system in the USA needs corrections. My son’s and my friend is a good example of why. After he got out of the county’s House of Correction a few years ago he came to live with us for a while. During that time I was getting into Growing Power, and he built the GP Home Model Box in the sun room and the worm box. He was doing well for quite a while, but eventually stopped taking proper medication and self medicated with alcohol. Sick, he started acting out (nothing serious, but enough to get him on probation), and then when he had a mental breakdown went to the mental health complex. However, as soon as he was established on medication the justice system sent him back to the House of Correction on a revocation of his probation.

The first thing they did at the country prison was to take away all the medication he had been given at the mental health hospital, and gave him other medicine that knocked him out but was not affective. When he mentioned this fact to health staff he was punished and thrown in the hole. Now he does not complain, but is not thinking straight as he sits on his bunk all day with nothing to do. He was so confused last week that when the Judge agreed to a plea to drop the charges and was going to sentence him on the spot he said no. Thus his sentencing date was postponed, his stay in jail extended and the opportunity to get mental health treatment delayed.


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Picture of Easter Picture - Sunday, April 12, 2009

Picture of Women Taking Picture
of Cousins

My wife and I spent the day with the family of our daughter-in-law. My son and his wife have three children, the Graf Kids, my grandchildren, one of our daughter-in-law’s sisters has three children, and the other sister has five. With all eleven children in one spot the temptation to take pictures is overwhelming. The children, ranging in age from 9 months (my godson) to 16, were gathered together in the park across the street from their grandparent’s home. When I went out with my camera to take a picture I noticed that two of the moms, one great aunt and my wife, grandma to three of the children, were all lined up taking pictures. So I took a picture of these four women taking a picture of the eleven cousins.

Easter is a time of joy and capturing the joy of the children is natural. It is a time of joy as we remember the resurrection of Jesus from death; a time of joy as watch spring blooming; a time of joy with the gathering of family, especially of the children.

I was asked to pray before dinner and as we were all gathered in a circle and I was praying, one of the cousins, a 4 year old, started to giggle with joy. With a smile I recognized her joy and incorporated it into the prayer.

We remember today women followers of Jesus who went to his tomb to discover he had risen from the death. They came to tell the disciples this good news. The disciples of Jesus were still fearful of the authorities but this news brought joy to their hearts.

Taking a picture of these women taking a picture of all of the cousins brought joy to my heart. A Blessed Easter!


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Atheist Needs God! - Saturday, April 11, 2009

In Hinduism the festival of Deepavali
signifies the victory of light over darkness,
and knowledge over ignorance

Someone sent me a quote today from G.K. Chesterton. It says: “If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.” This quote reminds me of what Easter is all about. Tonight in Church we were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The light overcame the darkness, good triumphed over evil. Without Easter there would be no Christianity. Jesus would just be another criminal who faced the death penalty. Perhaps he was innocent, but it would not be remembered in history. The resurrection from the dead is essential to Christian faith. Without it there would no Christianity and there would be no anti-Christians.

We need hope in the resurrection to keep meaning in our life. If I did not believe the plants would grow I would not have planted seed today in the ground. At the core of many religions there are beliefs, like the Resurrection of Jesus, that turn things upside down. Religions are based in giving meaning to life. What a boring world it would be without religions and beliefs in God. Even the atheist needs God to believe there is no God.


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One With Nature - Friday, April 10, 2009

One With Nature

I spent time today planting new seeds in rich soil. Also I spent time today with two persons, one by email and one by phone, who had an ax to grind and wanted me to cooperate. I could have gone on and on working on the garden, planting seeds and preparing the soil. With the two persons, I was patient but finally just had to say no and end the conversation. I have time for the garden but no time for persons who say they agree but are divisive. I have been guilty of being like these two persons and now realize what a waste of time this is. A third person who I can civilly agree or disagree with also wrote me with a suggested course for a nonviolent action. This suggestion I did appreciate and had time for.

In nature we can spend time uniting, making things whole and organic. But in ‘politics’ we usually spend too much time dividing, even when we basically agree. I left the work on the garden feeling good. I left the email and phone conversations with the two persons upset. This discernment tells me where I should spend my time.

Gandhi said: “My life is my message.” If we who agree with each other on basic values could work together we could change the world. If more persons grow some of their own healthy food and share some with others maybe we can learn how to work together. We are one in nature.


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Tiny Yellow Flower - Thursday, April 09, 2009

This one tiny yellow flower poking up today through the ground in the rain garden represents many more blooms. Holy Thursday is like this flower. Signs of life and beauty are displayed at the last dinner of historical Jesus. Jesus broke bread, shared wine and asked us to remember this dinner in dark days ahead. The darkness came. That very night Jesus suffered in agony, praying that his torture and death be avoided. But with the memory of the tiny yellow flower, with hope, he let things be and embraced his fate.

In a few days the flowers will rise up just as Jesus did on the day of his Resurrection. In the darkness which is all around us, in the agony which invariably comes. We must cling to the tiny yellow flower in us, our hope of new life to come.

We need to remember the sharing of the bread and wine and know that it will continue.


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Garden and Stations of the Cross - Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jesus rejected and crucified

The two main passions of this web site, nonviolence and growing power, were front and foremost in my life today. The weather was nice and I was able to get some work done in the garden. The main job was filling the worm box with compost and some worms. For more worms I need to wait for the worms in the GP box in the sun room to come up through the screen I placed on top to get the fresh compost. Compost and worms make for growing power in the form of castings.

The other passion of this web site is for nonviolence. Today was the last hour of silent witness for Marquette University to Teach War No More. Since it is Holy Week for many Christians we decided to make the 14 Stations of the Cross. We silently marched to 14 locations on campus to a drumbeat behind our sign MU Teach War No More. At each stop we read the name of the station of the cross and had a few moments of silence. We were most ignored by passers by.

Some years ago I had the opportunity to join other pilgrims to make the stations of the cross in Jerusalem, along the same roads that Jesus carried the cross. As we went past the various stores and houses in the old city we were mostly ignored. Making the Stations of the Cross was an everyday experience for the people that work and live in this part of the city. Someone pointed out to me that this was probably what happened to Jesus. In his day crucifixion was the regular Roman punishment for criminals, and probably many prisoners passed by on these roads carrying their cross. So being mostly ignored today was a normal experience of the Stations of the Cross.


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Worms Alive, No BS Yet! - Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Cows at Work in India

I dug into the worm depository/compost hill where worms stay for the winter, to take some worms and compost to fill the worm condo. As I dug deeper I saw a lot of wiggling worms. The made it through the winter and are alive. I put some of the worms and compost into the worm box to make castings. The vermicomposting cycle begins again.

While on the Pilgrimage of Peace in India I noticed that the sustainable rural developers there make worm enriched soil directly from cow dung. This goes against the local wisdom that compost should be 75% carbon (wood chips, newspaper etc) and 25% nitrogen (cow dung, coffee grounds etc.).

But this direct method of cow dung-to-castings was working for them. So today I wrote some of the places and people I met at the rural centers nine questions about this process and how it works. If I can learn more I hope to try out this process on my son and his family’s land in rural Wisconsin. There is a dairy farm, with plenty of cow dung, just across the road.

If it happens I will, as with the AIR project, keep you informed via this web site.

So after a tough winter the worms outside are alive and well but there is no cow dung or BS yet for them to feed on.


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Real World & Virtual World - Monday, April 06, 2009

Virtual Garden?

Today in the virtual world of email, I was called a ‘racist’ and accused of supporting the right wing. Today in the real world of daily living I was thanked and smiled at by a number of persons.

I have noticed that people in the virtual world more readily and vehemently agree or disagree than they do in the real world of face to face conversation. There is more gray in the real world. Everything seems more black or white in the virtual world.

Today in the real world I made a commitment to a friend of a friend to have him build a stone wall around the raised garden in front, a financial step that further commits me to the project. This was not as simple as ordering something in the virtual world, but I purchased something, time and labor and materials that could not be bought (at least not easily) in the virtual world.

This commitment to the front lawn garden will mean physical work and sweat on my behalf, unlike commitments I have made to help friends create wiki web pages in the virtual world of web.


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India In My Blood - Sunday, April 05, 2009

Even before the Pilgrimage of Peace to India I believe I had India in my blood. Father Anthony De Mello S.J., an Indian Jesuit, was my favorite spiritual writer; I consider Jesuits from India, whom I got to know when they were studying at Marquette University, good friends even though I have lost contact with most of them; I also have a particular interest in Eastern religions, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, and naturally I have been attracted to the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the grandfather of Nonviolence.

Now after our pilgrimage of peace to India in the footsteps to of Gandhi I find myself more closely drawn to India. I am constantly trying new recipes for Indian food; plan to work on a way to bring the value of cow dung to urban gardening; and am studying and learning more about Indian culture.

I usually have my cell phone with me 24/7 but today twice left it in another room when a call came in and the person had to leave a message. This morning it was from Ingrid, a fellow pilgrim to India telling me about a PBS show that was on early this morning called the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Today there as feature called MLK Jr. in Gandhi’s Footsteps. A group of present-day civil rights leaders recently traveled to India to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s pilgrimage to India in 1959. This pilgrimage to India was an important event in King’s growth and formation in nonviolence.


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Making Reality Happen - Saturday, April 04, 2009

Front Lawn Reality Today

In last night’s posting I pictured what my front lawn could look like someday. Tonight you can see the reality of my front lawn today. Hopefully the reality of my front yard at the end of the season will look more like the picture yesterday. To make this reality happen will take some work.

Although we did not do any work on the front lawn garden today, we (my son, wife and myself) did work outside. We mostly raked, tore up some cardboard for compost, and replanted some strawberries. I have been waiting so long to work outside but suddenly now there is so much to do. And every time we start another winter storm seems to come our way. Tonight the weatherman says a winter storm is coming tomorrow and Monday, which probably means no work outside the next few days. Oh, well, there are more seeds to plant in the sun room to get ready to make the reality of the gardens happen outside.

With any luck the sun will come out and melt the snow and allow us to get back to the gardens outside so we can make reality happen.


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Taking What You Can - Friday, April 03, 2009

Can this be my front lawn someday?

This afternoon the sun came out and it was possible to work outside. Instead, I went on an errand journey driving around looking for things. Although two of the items were garden related, some bricks from the Habitat Resale store and some coffee grounds for the garden, I came home feeling the time would have been better spent working outside. I shrugged off the feeling saying there is always tomorrow, only to hear that tomorrow it may be cold in the day with snow.

The old saying “Do not put off to tomorrow what you can do today” does not always apply. Many times there are too many things to do today to do them right and we must put off something. What to do and what to put off are the real questions. When you are at peace and seeing your life clearly the question of what to prioritize is easy. You just do what naturally comes to you to do first. However, most often, like facing a multitude of tasks in the garden, you need to do what you can do and take what you can get.


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Eternal Peace - Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Today an old friend I respect sent an email to a peace talk list-serve I subscribe to that started this way: “To those who are working for peace…. forget it! If peace is the absence of war…forget it. The future of war is guaranteed.” He then went on to explain how the defense budget is increasing and about some new dark robotic weapons of war being developed by the Pentagon. I do not know if he wrote the first line or was quoting it, but certainly he was in agreement with it in his posting. In my opinion my friend clearly is not a gardener and did not read the Albert Einstein quote in my March 31th posting: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”

He has a good point, but fortunately, being a real friend, I can disagree with him without him getting upset and dropping our friendship. I civilly disagree with the opening statement. I am not sure exactly why but here is an attempt.

I believe peace is not the absence of war. I believe a person can face an enemy and still be at peace. I believe a person can defend himself or herself, even using violence, and still be at peace. True peace is something that cannot be taken from an individual or even a group of persons, like a government. It is like the old Easter story of the master teacher who was asked by other monks how it felt to be “enlightened.” He said: “Before I was enlightened I was depressed. After I was enlightened I was depressed.” Peace, like enlightenment, is something that you have or do not have. One can give it up, but it cannot be taken.


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Joy In Real Suffering - Wednesday, April 01, 2009

“Joy lies in the fight, the attempt, in the
suffering involved, not in the victory itself.”

- Mahatma Gandhi

In the past when I heard someone was making accusations about me but not to me personally I would really get upset. Often I would react, especially when I thought they were false or only partially true. Since I have been working in the garden and reflecting more on nature I realize how stupid that was and how it often made things worse. Why suffer needlessly?

In nature there is cause and effect, and action and reaction, but there is no reaction to third party statements or actions. A cow does not react to what another cow said or did about her that was not to her face. A plant does not react to a storm that did not affect it directly. There is no “he said, she said” in nature. Nature naturally practices the grievance procedure taught us in the Gospel: If you wrong someone or someone does you wrong, directly deal with it to the person. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. Recently I have had a chance to practice it and think I am doing okay. When I hear that someone has a grievance with me, for something I may have said or done, I ask the person if we can talk about it in person. If they say no or ignore my request I try, like nature, to let it go. What good is a reaction to something that never was directly said or done to you?


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