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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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To Be or Do - Sunday, May 31, 2009

May ends with a sunny day, great weather for working in the garden. I did that today but also with my wife’s help we did some spring cleaning of the garage. Tools, bird and grass seeds, ornaments, pots all add up to make a mess.

As we move from spring into summer the pace of preparation for the garden picks up. There still is more planting of seeds and seedlings to go in my home model gardens and in the DMZ community garden. It seems every year we start earlier but every year there is more to do as time runs out. I think it is the old adage in life that the more you do the more you need to do. This is especially true if you are successful in doing. And it has been true in my work jobs in the past, selling advertising or youth minister. The old myth of once you do something it becomes easier is just that, a myth. The more you do the more there is to do.

Being can also be like doing — the more you be the more you are called on to be. I am called on to be with persons, by phone, visit to the hospital, talking with families at homeless shelter or playing with children.


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God, Nature and Reiki - Saturday, May 30, 2009

Looking for worms in the compost
in the DMZ

For a while now on this Diary of the Worm I have been talking about the health benefits of working with the soil. I even posted an article about the science of this benefit called Nature’s Bounty and Soil Salvation. Now I have non-scientific proof of the healing power of soil for the body.

On my travels today between my home gardens and the DMZ community garden I received a phone call from my friend Ella about her husband, Joseph, who had been on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital. She told me her husband had been removed from the ventilator and was strong enough to have the necessary operation to repair his one remaining lung. That was good news.

Yesterday my wife and I had been to the hospital to visit Joseph, and although he was still on the ventilator and could not talk, he was conscious. I had held his hand and remembering the reiki, healing energy transfer that my friend Lorenzo practiced, tried to send my energy to Joseph. Also in my memory was the picture of the two religious sisters holding his hands in the ER while praying over him.


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Sun Shines on Friends and Enemies - Friday, May 29, 2009

Inside a Red Worm

The sun shone today. My friend Joseph Brooks was awake in the ICU of the hospital and they were preparing to take him off the ventilator. Two friends that I had disagreements with wrote me with friendly messages. I planted some new flowers in the home gardens and sifted some castings from the compost. I had a wonderful conversation with an outstanding young man, freshman in high school, who was staying with his mother from Tanzania in a homeless shelter. A friend sent me a link to an interesting blog about compost that had this picture of the amazing digestive system of the common red worm. Also I received an email with a provocative question about how I love my enemies; naming two famous persons in particular whom the sender and I both believe have harmed our country.

Reflecting on this question I thought of my late friend Lorenzo Rosebaugh and some of the beautiful reflections written about him in the Memorial to Lorenzo Rosebaugh. Although Lorenzo opposed the actions of many persons, was friends with marginalized persons and repeatedly broke the law in acts of civil disobedience, I cannot think of anyone who disliked him or anyone he disliked or spoke ill of.

I guess it is difficult to dislike or speak ill of a holy person like Gandhi, King, Dorothy Day or Lorenzo. People may not follow their ways and maybe even strongly disagree with them but since these holy men and woman radiate love and kindness it seems not natural to say or do anything publicly against them. Of course three of the four were killed by violent actions so there must have been a lot of deep hatred lingering that erupted in acts of violence against them, planned or random.


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Power of Prayer and Technology - Thursday, May 28, 2009

Power of Prayer

My day was planned. I would go to the three prayer vigils for the six homicide victims of last week and then spend most of the rest of the day working in the garden. But I woke to a phone call from my friend Ella. Her husband, Joseph, had stopped breathing and was being taken to the emergency room of a hospital. I was to meet her there.

Driving there I had memories of the many times my parents, when they both were alive, had called me to drive them to the emergency room. Sometimes it was a real emergency and sometimes it was not. But they used the emergency room as a clinic or doctor’s office and kept changing ER’s.

When I got in the ER room Joseph, although on oxygen which he regularly used, was restless. Soon they medicated him and put him on a ventilator to breathe. Ella had me call a couple of religious sisters from the Church to tell them about Joseph and to pray for him.

After he was hooked up to the machines all but one of the nurses left the room. One of the machines started to beep. The nurse in the room was there to take another blood sample, and Ella asked her what the noise was. She said she did not know but that all the machines hooked up to Joseph were being monitored by persons in the large control room in the center of ER.


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Moment By Moment - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Milwaukee 14 by Ruthie Cullen

For dinner tonight the youngest daughter of Deacon Michael Cullen, a member of the Milwaukee 14 and her fiancée were present. She and her fiancée are both students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, artist, he music and she art, and both are Irish. In fact she was born in Ireland.

Since my wife was hard at work in the children’s library today I was the cook. I cooked Indian ‘Curry Vegetables’, Middle East rice and lamb and salad. We had Indian Nan bread and some delicious corn muffins made by my friend Ella.

My friend’s daughter brought with her to show me an art picture of the Milwaukee 14 action in 1968. My wife of forty years and my adult son who lives with us were also present. Our conversation encompassed music, marriage, school, nonviolence, travels, gardens and other interest.

I mention all of the above not to make a ‘reality show’ out of the ‘Diary of Worm’ but to point to how we can find all of lives in each moment. In this moment of dinner, I remembered the important moments of my life, marriage, Milwaukee-14 action and results, experiences like Pilgrimage to India, many friends and family and growing renewable affordable food ( G.R.A.F.).


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Serious Laughs - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lorenzo Rosebaugh in 1971 wedding

The death of my friend Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh has brought all kinds of persons from the past and present together and produced a few laughs. One of the persons we reconnected to was a photographer in those days who has all kinds of black and white photos of the Milwaukee 14 and friends from the late sixties and early seventies. They are on display at Memory Pictures of the Milwaukee 14 of past. Besides looking younger, which we were 40 years ago, everyone in the black and white pictures looks so animated. We were having some serious fun. Lorenzo was clean shaven with short hair in those days, when many were not. Modern-day pictures have him with beard and long hair, when many are not.

It is good to have laughs in life, especially when tragedy strikes. I have three or four friends that have an email joke ministry and they keep me laughing. I pass jokes from one to another one in the group but seldom share them with others. The Jokes and Quotes page of is big on quotes but light on jokes, though I receive many each day. People have accused me of being ‘too serious’ and I guess I am. I need to put my intellectual appreciation of humor into practice. Look for fresh and funny jokes on this web site.


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Memorial Day 2009 - Monday, May 25, 2009

Front Lawn Gardens

One way not to forget to take your digital camera on a trip is not to leave home. This memorial day I spent at home. Actually, home is a good place to be when we remember veterans, some who never made it home.

This picture is the start of my latest home model garden, a front lawn vegetable garden. It does not look like much now but the rain garden in the background did not even exist at this time last year. Look at it now.

Gardens and wars do not mix, but today we do not remember wars, past and present, but the men and women who served in the military. We may oppose the wars of late, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can still honor the veterans of these wars. These wars may have been fought over honor, oil or greed but that is not the fault of the men and woman serving in the armed forces. We may doubt the wars but cannot doubt the men and women who prepared for and fought them.


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Presents Over Titles - Sunday, May 24, 2009

Project 05/24/09

Today we celebrated the 5th birthday of my granddaughter Carolee, of the Graf Kids. It was a small gathering of friends but the good adults, children, and weather made it great little party. For the second day in a row I forgot to bring my good digital camera along so had to rely on my not-so-good cell phone camera. My daughter in law said she would send me some pictures of my granddaughter that are sure to be better than the ones I took.

One of my grandsons and I went to check on the project of changing cow dung to worm castings. All looked well, the compost was moist and the worms were wiggling. We added some more worms and a few wood chips to the two rows. I appointed the one grandson who was with me the “General Manager” of this project with the duties to consistently check the rows so they do not overheat, and water them as needed. My daughter in law told me she does most of the watering but this grandson shows the most interest, and with his new title may show more care for the project.

My oldest grandson, when told about this, wanted a title also. He is 12 and is good at math. I told him that if this project turned into a little business of selling this Cadillac of organic fertilizers, he could be President of the business. Carolee did not know or care about all this title-giving. However, she immensely enjoyed her birthday presents. Unlike titles they are real meaningful to her.


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Blitz in the DMZ - Saturday, May 23, 2009

DMZ Blitz

The Blitz was planned for weeks. Recruits were found. Equipment was secured. The propaganda about the blitz was effective. Finally the day was here. I packed my car and headed for the DMZ. But first I picked up my best associate in this type of work. We were met by Dawn at the DMZ. Marna was injured and could not participate. Our recruits slowly arrived. One of them called back home for backup. Equipped, we attacked the DMZ and within three hours our mission was accomplished.

The Blitz was the Garden Blitz part of the The Victory Garden Initiative Great Memorial Weekend Blitz. The DMZ was the Community garden Dawn, Marna and I created last year on a vacant lot. By the end of our time at the DMZ today we dug up all our growing mounds from last year and topped them with fresh enriched compost. We had spread wood chips in the non planting area of the garden.

After we were in the garden one of the neighborhood recruits called for help and brought her mother, sister and nephews. I went for my camera and I realized I had forgotten one important piece of equipment, my camera. So I took out my cell phone and this is where this picture came from. But Dawn and my associate in gardening did bring cameras and eventually there will be better quality pictures of the DMZ blitz today.


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Slow Down or Speed Up - Friday, May 22, 2009

Slow Down

You know you are going to fast through life when your rooms are very messy. You know you are going too fast through life when you are forgetting where something you just had in hand is. You know you are going too fast in life when sad news and good news make you feel the same. They say ‘speed kills’, but when you slow down it can hurt. For slowing down is really seeing and hearing life — even the warts of life.

The death of two friends this week slowed me down as far as doing other work like working in the garden. But in other ways it sped me up; there was more to do, people to talk and email to, and on and on. The more I did the more there was to do and the signs of going too fast, forgetfulness, messy room, insensitivity started to appear.

Also speeding through life is tiring. You need more sleep and are less awake. It is like plants and weeds that perennially grow spread everywhere. If they are weeds you pull them out. If they are plants you contain their growth.


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Bad News? Good News? - Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anthony de Mello

My favorite spiritual writer,Anthony de Mello, an Indian Jesuit writer, told stories. One of his favorites was a Chinese story called “Good Luck, Bad Luck.” In the story a farmer’s good luck turns to bad luck and his bad luck turns to good luck.

I am reminded of this story this week. The week started with bad news, my friend Lorenzo Rosebaugh had been murdered in Guatemala. However his violent death has brought persons all over the world together, which is good news. (See Memorial to Lorenzo Rosebaugh).

Also this week brought the sad news that a young adult member of our Church had died. This was sad news but knowing how much she suffered from a brain disease, it was somehow a blessing, good news that she is resting in peace.

On a smaller scale today the eye doctor told me how my sight had improved since my last eye exam. This is good news. However, she also told me that the reason for the improved eyesight is that the cataracts in my eyes have grown. This is bad news. But she said they were not harmful which is good news.

All of life, like in the story and in my daily life, seems to be a combination of good luck or good news or bad luck or bad news. But as the farmer in the story says: “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” I would say about this week in my life: “Bad News? Good News? Who knows?”


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Death and Garden of Life - Wednesday, May 20, 2009

torment by Peter Graf

This morning I learned that a young woman from our Church was found dead in her apartment by her mother. This woman was a special person, sweet and loving, but plagued with the terrible disease of depression. Two deaths of dear ones in two days are more than my heart can take. I went through the day, working on the Memorial to Lorenzo Rosebaugh web page, cooking Indian lime rice and a salad for our DMZ lunch gathering and dinner tonight, but inside I was crying. I need to keep busy until I can take in the loss of these two good persons.

An elderly lady called tonight because she had heard about the death of Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh. She had just met him a few years ago when he was back in the states to promote his biography Wisdom Through Failure, and immediately recognized in his eyes that she had met a saint. She wanted to know if there was a Memorial Service in Milwaukee for him. I said I did not know yet and I started telling her about Lorenzo than realized she had read his book which he gives such a personal and open account of his life. She does not have a computer or do email but she knew Lorenzo, and like so many of us, just needed to talk to someone about our loss.


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Loss of Saint and Friend - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lorenzo Rosebaugh, 1935–2009

On my way outside to work on the garden today I stopped at my computer to make a quick check for new emails. The top email said that Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh had been shot to death last night in Guatemala City. I was overwhelmed by the news, but as the emails and phone calls came in I knew it was true. I had lost a dear friend and a person I considered a living saint.

This simple man who lived his life with the poor and oppressed and the victims of violence was himself killed in a carjacking, a random act of violence. This holy person had touched so many lives all over the world by being true to himself and living his faith in everyday life.

Lorenzo was a member of the Milwaukee 14. He had just come in 1968 to Casa Maria, the local Catholic Worker House of Hospitality, when the planning for the Milwaukee 14 nonviolent action was taking place. He joined us in his ordinary and natural way of doing things. As his biography To Wisdom Through Failure states, this action was a major step in the direction his life was taking, a witness to peace and living with the rejected and outcast.


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Mindless - Monday, May 18, 2009

Today when I related an issue of discrimination to the issue of the militarization of our schools someone, lovingly, said I was ‘obsessed.’ I know friends and family members ‘obsessed’ with TV shows, alcohol, eating and other addictions. I like to think of myself as “detached.” So to prove my point that I am detached, I will skip the posting for today. Also I am feeling mindless today and observations need mindfulness. Observations will return to Diary of the Cow tomorrow.


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Military-Industrial-Educational Complex - Sunday, May 17, 2009

Military-Educational Complex

Working with the soil in the garden helped me rid myself of the bad vibes I received yesterday from persons going to the Marquette Graduation Mass trying to ignore our message of “Marquette Teach War No More”. The indifference to the militarization of our society seems to be growing. With the strength of good soil I am committed to plant seeds of awareness of this process.

In 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, giving his farewell address, warned Americans against the military industrial complex. He said: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

American did not heed his warning and the militarization of our society has increased on all levels, including our educational system. I believe if speaking now President Eisenhower would be warning us against the “military-industrial-educational complex”.


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True To Nature - Saturday, May 16, 2009

Children at Catholic Worker House
help to speak the message

The first day back from any trip, even a five day one up north with my grandchildren, seems to be a fast one of catching up. After catching up with my sleep I went to the SHARE warehouse sale of food, worked a little on my home garden, and then went to a nonviolent action in front of the arena where Marquette University was having its Graduation Mass. We stood outside the entrance with our signs of Teach War No More and MU Be Faithful to the Gospel, No Longer Host Military Departments. Many thousands came into the arena but tried to avoid looking at the signs. We have some flyers explaining our message but few would take them. Some were even hostile to our presence, even though our message was one to teach Gospel Values at Marquette. It was a good example of people not wanting to hear a message even though it was one preached by their religious faith. One person asked me if I had nothing better to do. I said I would rather be working on my garden but felt compelled to speak the message of my faith.

Yesterday when I spoke to middle school students in Green Bay on the Pilgrimage of Peace I started the slide show with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “My Life is my message. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Today I got a chance to live that quote by speaking a simple moral message that people did not want to see or hear.


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Cow Dung To Worm Castings - Friday, May 15, 2009

Before I left my son and his family’s home in northern Wisconsin today I finished, with the help of the dairy farmer across the road, building two mounds to transform compost of cow dung, straw, and wood shavings into worm castings. So the new adventure of changing manure into rich soil, sometimes called ‘black gold’, has begun.

I will document this project on a new web page called cow dung to worm castings and energy. If successful it will bring the farmer and urban gardener together. It is an old low-tech idea that offers great hope for the future of Growing Renewable Affordable Food (G.R.A.F.).

These two mounds have layers of saw dust and old compost topped by a big pile of manure fresh this winter, more saw dust, and old compost with worms added and then covered with a load of bedding material, straw, saw dust, from a calf’s hut. Burlap covers part of the two mounds.

This cow manure is rich since dairy cows are fed a healthy died of alfalfa hay, corn silage, and protein mix including soybeans. This rich manure, when consumed and cast off by worms, will be valuable to growing natural and healthy food.


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Art & Nature - Thursday, May 14, 2009

K-4 School Art Work

I have been reading in “The Duty of Delight, the Diaries of Dorothy Day, how she spent a lot of time taking care of her grandchildren. I am not a famous person like Dorothy Day but, like her, I do make taking care of my grandchildren a priority. Actually it is more of joy (a duty of delight) than work.

The last few days, when I have been with them, my three grandchildren have been bringing home art projects from schools. Tonight we took pictures of the art and put them on their Graf Kids web page on a spot called school art work. The art work speaks a lot about them and their art teachers in school.

While I was putting the art work on the web my two grandsons developed a rap and dance about worms and cows. I did not have a good way to record it but next time I am here we will. Their parents have a video camera we can use.

Speaking about worms and cows, the dairy farmer across the road and I finally hooked up today about finishing off the rows of cow manure we will, with the help of worms, turn into castings or ‘black gold’. I am giving a slide presentation tomorrow morning to my daughter-in-law’s middle school classes on the Pilgrimage of Peace, and then will return to my son’s house to finish off the two rows and plant the worms.

My grandchildren duties of delight are drawing to an end, but I will be back. Where else can I find such creative art and beautiful nature in one place?


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Single Player and Single Payer - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Single Soccer Player

The last few days I have become a soccer grandpa, taking my grandchildren to three soccer practices in two days. Tonight both practices were held in dark, drizzling and dreary weather. Despite the weather my two older grandsons did learn tonight that no matter how good a single player is, soccer is a team sport.

The last few days I have been getting emails in support of the single payer health care system as we find in Canada and Europe. The single payer system has been misrepresented by the big health care business as part of the slippery slope to ‘socialism.’ So far Congress and President are refusing to seriously consider an American version of this effective and affordable health care system that so many in the West enjoy. I guess single payer is not individualistic enough, and equal access of health care is dangerous. I do not have the answers on what health care system would be best, but do know that by eliminating from consideration a system that is proven to be effective and cost-saving is not right.

There is really no conflict between a single player being as good as she or he can be and the good of the team, just as there is no conflict between a single payer system and the common good of Americans. The problem seems to be an American passion to put the individual over the common good. The star player makes much more money than his or her teammates, and the health care industry does not like a system, like single payer, that would cut into their individual profits.


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New Beginnings! - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dung to vermicompost, New Beginnings

The dairy farmer across the road from my son’s land in the country has been too busy to deliver a load of cow dung and cow bedding to the site where we will try to turn cow dung into ‘black gold’ or worm castings. However, since I am here with the worms I outlined the two beds this morning with a layer of saw dust delivered by another neighbor and some composted cow dung from a previous year that we had on the site. We are ready for the big load of cow dung and the new beginnings.

Tonight I took my four year old granddaughter to her first soccer practice of the year. She played soccer last year, but a number of the young children were there for their first experience. A few of the children were very bashful and just stayed with their mothers afraid to join the group. I started to play with a couple of them, kicking the ball around before the official start of the practice. They slowly got into it, less afraid, and at the beginning of practice they were ready for a new beginning as a soccer player. One boy I did not get to before the practice, was very bashful, despite all the good efforts of his mother, until the very end of the practice.

Gardens in spring are new beginnings. If I could win the lottery or have access to funding, I would hire a group of experienced gardeners or farmers to form community gardens on as many of the numerous vacant lots in the city of Milwaukee as possible.


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Active and Peaceful - Monday, May 11, 2009

Active and Peaceful

Tonight I reached my son’s family home in northern Wisconsin at sunset. My grandchildren, Graf Kids, had just come home from a soccer practice and were jumping on their trampoline in the yard.

After a busy day at home getting ready for this time up north with my grandchildren this was a welcome sight. Although they were active, jumping up and down, the scene was peaceful.

I arrived with two big boxes of worms for our efforts to turn cow dung into ‘black gold’ or castings. There did not seem to be a smell in the car transporting the worms but as soon as I opened the door there was a strong smell of cow manure in the air. My guess is today they were draining the manure pit and spreading the manure on the field by knifing it into the ground. I do not think our delivery of cow manure for the project has been made yet but we are ready with wood shavings and worms to make the beds for the worms to do their thing.

My main reason for being here is help my daughter-in-law as my son travels to Washington D.C. for a memorial service for police men and woman who have died on duty. Fortunately my grandchildren like my cooking of ethnic dishes. I brought my Indian spices with me and also can make a Lebanese dish of meat and rice that they enjoy. However, my main duty is not cooking dinner but driving my grandchildren to school, 4-H meeting, and soccer and baseball practices. Since they live in the country this means a lot of driving around.


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Money and First Communion - Sunday, May 10, 2009

First Communion Day

In the past on this site I have written about Money or Morals when talking about Marquette, a Catholic University, hosting the teaching of military values and of war on campus. Just in the posting last night, Air Out, Dung In I wrote about how money determines what old ideas get renewed. I could go on to talk about how money determines the outcome of elections and a whole lot more about the central role of money in our society and the obsession we have it.

A glaring example was found today in Church. Three little girls, one of them a daughter of a friend, who with her little brother have become friends my wife’s and mine, made their first Holy Communion. Like my grandson last week they received what we believe to be the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the first time.

At my grandson’s first communion liturgy the priest, not as eloquent as our local pastor, did his best to give a homily on the Eucharist, Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, in our life. Today our pastor, a very good speaker, said a few words and then turned the mike to a parishioner to give a pitch for a fundraising effort of the local Catholic Churches. Money over the meaning of the Eucharist really got me upset and I can imagine the message the many guests got today when they came to celebrate with one of the children.


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AIR Out, Dung In - Saturday, May 09, 2009

Five Pane AIR Window Inserts

Yesterday my wife and I took down the five pane window Air inserts in the sunroom and hung them in the basement ‘til next winter. The temperature change was noticeable almost immediately. These simple inserts, based on an old idea that layers of air insulate, saved us a lot of energy and heating costs last winter. Last year I tried to get new interest in this old idea of using air as an insulating factor, but with a few exceptions there was not much interest.

I was really disappointed that Will Allen and Growing Power were not interested in testing out this AIR idea. It could have saved them a significant amount of money. Will is the one who brought another traditional idea, making castings or vermicompost from worms popular and built his organization on this old idea.

Now I am about to try to popularize another old idea, turning cow dung into vermicompost or castings. Again this is a traditional way of making organic fertilizer but not used much in the USA.

The above three observations of old ideas being renewed reminds me of my belief that there is so much to learn that is already present in society or ourselves if we just take the time to see, hear and feel it.


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Do-Nothing Workers - Friday, May 08, 2009

Catholic Worker Symbol
The person in the middle, Jesus,
is not recorded in the Gospel
as a real worker. He also
was not a Catholic

Today in the newspaper there was a story about how our former Archbishop, someone I was blessed to know a little bit, was finally publishing his memoirs and being a Benedictine priest was moving to an Benedictine abbey in New Jersey. A reporter asked him if was going to work in one of the many abbey missions. Is response was simply “I am 82.”

Since I am 66 I cannot use my age as an excuse for my work or not working. For example, today I worked hard in the garden but if someone was to describe my work they would not include this work. Neither would they include my work in peacemaking, cooking, shopping or helping friends in need.

It seems to me that work has come to mean in this society something you do for money or honor. So a professional athlete or actor “works” while the softball player or the local theater actors plays.

I have mentioned before that when I was “unemployed” in the past and someone asked me what my work was I used to say ‘nothing.’ That was a joke I did not mind. But now that I am retired from work for employment I find myself working even harder at times than when I worked for money. True it is more enjoyable, since it is work of my choice, but I now have a hard time saying my work is nothing.


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Heavy Heart - Thursday, May 07, 2009

My younger brother, who lost his wife in a car accident last winter, celebrated his birthday today. He lives in Iowa and I was unable to reach him by phone today, but know he still carries a heavy loss in his heart.

My friend from Church and Faith in Recovery called today. She suffers from an extreme heaviness and pain in the chest and after three operations and two years of testing Doctors still cannot find the cause of her suffering. She suffers with a constant heavy feeling but still has faith and hope.

Tonight I watched in part a TV show on being optimistic by Michael Fox who suffers from Parkinson disease. He is the eternal optimist, although suffering a terrible illness. You can feel his pain, but somehow due to his optimistic nature he carries it well.

A friend came over for dinner tonight and we were talking about how people used indifference to avoid issues that might cause them pain and suffering and force them to act. I can understand this urge just to “not know” or avoid knowing about injustices. It is easier to sleep than to be awake to moral wrongdoing, the injustices being done by individuals or governments. When you really know something is wrong and acknowledge it you are compelled to act. Just talking about it will not do. However, if you ignore something you can ignore the urge to act, especially when the action might cause you embarrassment, rejection or heavy heart.


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Spring Rain Garden - Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rain Garden 05/06/09

Now I know the Parable: Invitation to Peacemaking had some impact. Last time I sent out an invitation to witness for Marquette to Teach War No More, hardly anyone responded. Today when my friend and I sent out another one I got a whole bunch of No’s within hours. No’s are not as good as Yes’s but better than ‘indifference’ and no response.

The rain garden did give a big Yes to spring today. The daffodils and tulips are in full bloom while the rest of the perennials get ready to bloom. Flowers do bring joy to gardening. However, most of today was spent preparing the new front lawn garden and coming up with a new design for the area along the fence in the driveway. Also today I decided to plant one large area in the backyard with a mix of plants, the Native America trio of corn, squash and beans and maybe something else. Pictures of these three new garden adventures will be coming.

Also today was my first big harvest from the backyard garden, chives and the greens of the Spanish onions. They both made tonight’s salad especially good, another taste, like rain garden, of spring.

Spring is popping up all over the place. I pray for eyes to see.


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Cinco De Mayo - Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday in Mexico but a major Mexican Holiday in the USA. Due to the mysterious ‘swine flu’ it was not celebrated in either country this year. Although it seems like a major American pig factory in Mexico was the source of the flu epidemic, the real people suffering are the Mexican people, and the real animals suffering the most are pigs. Mexicans are being discriminated against across the world, and pigs and pig farmers, although not spreading the flu, are suffering a loss of business. In the meanwhile the suspicious major agriculture business that seems to be the source goes unaffected. This is a classic example of blaming the messengers, those associated with the flu, but allowing the message, the pig factory, to go unattended.

Blaming the messenger rather than deal with the message, in this case the deplorable conditions of this agribusiness, seems to be the norm in this country.

I remember once when, as a youth minister, I pointed out how the athletic association of the church where I was working, was violating Archdiocese church rules by having sports practice on Sunday morning during Church time. I, the messenger, was blamed.

The immorality of a Catholic University hosting the teaching of war and violence against the values of the Catholic Church is ignored while those of us who are the messengers of this message are blamed as being trouble-makers.


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Nothing New Under The Sun - Monday, May 04, 2009

Hand of Will Allen with Worms

I remember when I was first introduced into vermicomposting by Will Allen and the good people at Growing Power. Using worms to turn waste into rich soil, ‘black gold’ or castings, fascinated me. I wanted to spread the good news to everyone. However, when I got to Guatemala and was talking with people of the San Juan Coffee Cooperative, I found out that the use of worms to enrich compost was an ancient form of growing. Will Allen and Growing Power had just introduced to more persons and help spread this ancient wisdom of growing organic foods.

So I was not surprised today when I called Will Allen on his cell phone , as he was traveling through the south, to find out that using cow dung to make vermicompost was being done in the USA as well as India. Since Will was driving in his car I asked him if I could speak with him when he returned to Milwaukee. He said that was possible and I should call his secretary to schedule a possible conversation. I also asked him for worms for the project. Worms were previously free at Growing Power but now cost. He said Growing Power had plenty of worms we could purchase but since he had plenty of worms and castings, he was not interested in investing worms in the project. He also mentioned that worm castings made from vegetable waste were more valuable than those from cow dung.


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Cow Dung To Worm Castings - Sunday, May 03, 2009

Cows & Worms Working Together

As I have mentioned before, our Pilgrimage to India has deeply affected the way I look at growing renewable affordable food (G.R.A.F.), and at nonviolence. One tangible result was initiated today when my son and his wife, the diary farm family across the road and I came to an understanding of how to begin our experiment to change cow dung into rich worm castings. Although I saw this done in India at rural institutes and I find some information on the web on the worm digest, there is still a lot to learn about how to apply this process in the U.S.A. However, we decided to learn by doing so the experiment will begin.

Touring the diary farm with one of the family members today I learned one of the big differences between here and India is the type of cows and what they are fed. In India the primary product of the cows on farms is cow dung. In the USA the primary product on a dairy farm is milk. This difference affects the type of cows bred and what they consume, and thus their dung. So some adjustments need to be made in the process, but the basic way of changing waste by worm power into rich organic fertilizer, black gold, remains consistent.


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The New Charlemagne - Saturday, May 02, 2009

Today at my son’s house I got to know his nephew and my grandchildren’s cousin, Charlemagne. This Charlemagne, unlike King Charlemagne, the father of Europe, is only a two year old. But today this Charlemagne, with his innocence, curiosity and good disposition, ruled. He did not need armies to rule but won everyone over with his smile.

I also had a chance today to talk to the family across the road that runs a dairy farm. We talked about the Indian way of using cow dung to make vermicompost and tentatively with my son and daughter-in-law made some plans to try this method of making an effective natural fertilizer and insecticide. Hopefully there will be much more about this in the future on .

Some time today was spent at my four year old granddaughter’s dance recital. Girls from three years up were directed in this production by four high school girls, who themselves had begun in the program as three year olds. You could see the progress in beauty and form from the three year olds to teens.

Our Charlemagne joined us today as we went to the diary farm to visit the two new small pigs they had acquired. He was fascinated by the baby pigs and by the young cows that will grow up to provide milk, their main product, and dung a secondary but valuable product.

However, in this day full of children, pageantry, farm animals Charlemagne stood out, not as King or Emperor but as a child of joy and fresh life. This is the new Charlemagne.


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Hands On! - Friday, May 01, 2009

Hand On Garden Work

May 1st has come to mean all kinds of things; for Catholics it is the feast day of St. Joseph, the Worker; for undocumented immigrants it has become a day to march for freedom and rights; for many in the world it is day to celebrate working people. All these celebrations have one thing in common, hands-on work.

For me it meant a partly sunny day where I could finally go outside, plant the lily bulbs and work on the new front yard garden. When I work in the garden I do not wear gloves. I believe there is something about the soil on the skin that is life giving. After the last few days, with lots of shoveling and racking, I am reconsidering my custom. I do not mind the dirt embedded in my hands. It gives one the working person looking hands. However, the shoveling and raking has caused a blister on one hand. A blister looks good but stings when one washes it.

After offering a helping hand today to a friend by taking her to the store to shop, she offered me some hand sanitizer to clean my hands. Without much thought I rubbed it on my hands only to find the antibacterial cleanser stung my blister.

Maybe the lesson to be learned is that when working with soil keep the gloves off but when shoveling and raking put the gloves on. Or to put it another way, hands on the soil work is healthy, hands on a tools work needs gloves.


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