This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form without prior authorization.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

« Read other entries… »

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

Greens Yearning to Grow


Garden 07/30/08

Click below to read any post in full, and to post your comments on it.

Honor or Rejection - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ignored by Peter Graf

Today I felt honored to talk with two proponents of Growing Renewable Affordable Food (G.R.A.F.). One was an owner of a new Westside garden center that is interested in developing local vermicompost for home use and the other person is someone who has turned his rooftop into a productive growing area.

As I was excited about talking today to these two I felt a little bitter, (a wasted emotion), toward two other major proponents of growing power in the area who have rejected all my offers to be of assistance.

Today my friend Prasad, the General Secretary of the Gandhi organization in India that sponsored the Pilgrimage of Peace sent me the schedule for the Sarvodaya (welfare of all) workshop at the 17th T.A.N.A. conference in Chicago on Friday. T.A.N.A is an association of North Americans from a particular state in India with its own language. I felt honored to be listed on the agenda as “Bob Graf. US Coordinator Pilgrimage of Peace.” I know it is just a title but I feel honored to offer my reflections at such a conference.

Also today I received information about a major conference on nonviolence to be held at Marquette University in October on Gandhi’s birthday. I had offered my assistance a while back to two of the major organizers of the conference only to be rejected, actually ignored and not even recognized. Yet, and maybe because of this, I have been asked to participate in a workshop at the national Pax Christi conference on our local nonviolent efforts to resist military training and the teaching of military values over Gospel values on the Marquette University Campus. (See Marquette Be Faithful to Gospel, No Longer Host Departments of Military Sciences.

At the garden center I received some new vegetable plants for my front lawn. I felt good planting them in the raised garden bed. Also today I went to the dump and found some good-looking wood chips that I can use on the front lawn garden. I did not have a chance to put them down today but will tomorrow and include a picture in tomorrow night’s posting.

Honor or rejection, what does it matter? Growing Renewable Affordable Food does matter.


back to top

Share Green Peace - Monday, June 29, 2009

Backyard Garden 06/29/09

Recently I have been using ‘Green Peace’ as a sign off to letters and emails. I like it because it puts together the two sides of the web page, the growing side and the nonviolent side. However, I fear that after awhile, like other phrases I have used in the past, ‘family values’ and ‘my friends’ it will become overused and lose its originality.

While it is still fresh I would like to share some green peace initiatives. First is an organization called “SHARE”, a nonprofit food- buying club that brings people together to strengthen community and share healthy affordable food. Anyone can join SHARE, rich or poor, and the cooperative allows us to purchase healthy food, meat, vegetables, fruits and much more, at a savings of 30%−50%. SHARE has gone green. Last Saturday I purchased at affordable prices three pounds of organic ground beef and a large box of organic fruits and vegetables. Certainly one can purchase these items, as well as other fresh items, at grocery stores, but not at these prices. I encourage people in need and others who have means to purchase good food to join SHARE.

The items in the big box of organic fruits and vegetables for only $15 varies month to month. Last Saturday the box contained many healthy organic foods, but two of the items were ones we would not normally purchase in the store. One was small organic apricots with which my wife using Laba, a Middle Eastern yogurt, made a delicious dessert, and the other one was an organic beet, which my wife pickled for dinner that night. Both dishes were delicious as well as healthy and of course affordable.


back to top

Sorry About That! - Sunday, June 28, 2009

Castings from last year
look same this year

Last night in my post, Consistent Gardener, I used a picture of my garden from a past year. I keep forgetting to take a picture of the backyard garden as it is now, and with the breakdown of my new computer I keep going back and forth from my old computer to my wife’s for work on this web page. However, the above is not an excuse. I only wish my garden was as developed as the picture indicates. Sorry about that.

However, local garden vegetables also seem to be growing slowly this year for everyone. Yesterday I went to a big local farmer’s market and today to a small local farmer’s market to find only a few vegetables for sale, mostly salad greens and onions. It is almost July and where are all the early tomatoes, corn, and other vegetables? Maybe Mother Nature is saying “Sorry about that”.

One bumper crop ready this year for yield is castings, black gold, or worm poop. My wife sifted a whole bunch of rich black dirt from the worm box today. These castings are not edible but will organically fertilize the soil and ‘tea’ made from the castings will help the plants grow faster, healthier and larger. I replaced the ‘tea’ bags in my rain barrels the other day and sprinkled some of these fertilized castings around. Time will tell.


back to top

Consistent Gardener - Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today I did not do all of what I wanted to do at the DMZ community garden or my growing power home model garden, but I did something. I am finding that when I am around and weather is permitting, it is good to do something consistently each day in my gardens. Like most things in life consistency pays off in gardening. You may never catch up with all there is to do but you will always be moving in the direction of a good and fruitful garden.

I called up north last night and talked to my daughter in law and grandson. The experiment in turning cow dung into worm compost is doing well. The worms are happy and the compost is looking more like rich soil. My eleven year old grandson is already talking about how much we can make selling this cow dung/worm casting fertilizer. I consistently say this is only an experiment and only time will tell if it is worthwhile and pays off. Right now we can only consistently care for the rows of compost and worms.

Consistency is related to persistency. I have been justly accused of being a very persistent person. I guess that is a good point for most persons except those who do not want to hear your consistent message in word or action.

Yesterday I wrote three theologians at Marquette University who teach morality and ethics. They are all great teachers but on the issue of the immorality of military values taught at Marquette they have been silent. If they respond that will be good, and if they ignore me, as they have in the past, that will be okay. Either way my message of Gospel values being contradicted by military values will be consistent.


back to top

Dung Clean - Friday, June 26, 2009

cow soap, tooth powder and neem soap

As I was talking today with someone from India in Dell Technical Support about my new laptop that died yesterday I noticed on the back that it was “Made in China”. Now I need to send it to Dell Support in USA according to the person in India to repair the computer made in China. In purchasing the laptop via my brother, an information director in Iowa, I just did not ask where Dell computers are made. So not practicing what I preach, do not buy products from China, I deserve what I am getting, the loss of my new laptop and its contents for a while. Most likely I just did not want to know where the computer was made. Chinese products are cheap but break down easily.

Fortunately our family is computer-rich and my posting continues. In light of this mess from buying from China, tonight I would like to feature three ‘natural products’ made in India and made to clean. These are three of the products of the India of Mahatma Gandhi brought over to the USA for possible marketing by my friends from the Pilgrimage of Peace.

They are from left to right a cow dung based soap called “Gomayadi Lepa Tikiya”, a herbal tooth powder made with cow dung called “Kamdhenu Gomay Bhasma Dantamanjan” and a neem based soap called “B.K.S. Kutir”. What I can say about the two soaps is that they smell great and leave you with clean, healthy skin. I can say from personal experience and from scientific study that the tooth power is the most effective powder or paste for clean teeth and to avoid gum disease. My friend Kranthi from India is also a dentist and has seen the evidence that this tooth power from cow dung is the best there is for teeth.

I will probably have a tough time selling these products, which I purchased from my friends, to others. But I do not care, for any family, friends and I who do want to use them will be dung clean.


back to top

Tiny Yellow Flower - Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tiny Yellow Flower 6/25/09

After the rain and now with this warm weather, flowers in the rain garden and other gardens around the house are really blooming. Amidst all these flowers there is one small yellow flower blooming in front of the house. It is the only one of its kind amidst of all the flowers we have and I do not know its name or what kind it is. However, it is very fragile looking and looks like with one big blast of wind or a rainstorm it could disappear. Maybe it would come back and maybe not.

The flower reminds me the fragility of life and our possessions. My new computer laptop just failed tonight and now does not even turn on. Will I lose all the information and pictures on this computer? I hope not but have not much say about it. Michael Jackson, king of pop, unexpectedly died today at the age of 50. I visited a friend tonight in the mental health hospital. It was more like experiencing a friend in jail. Security seemed more of a concern than treatment. The mind is very fragile. I recently discovered more of how poor persons are discarded more and more in our society. When a poor person dies there is no death notice in the newspaper since the price of even a small one is very high. A comprehensive single payer health insurance that would take the corporate profit out of health care and give everyone good effective health care is not even being considered seriously by congress and President in our health care reform. Innocent lives are lost daily in the wars weak and powerful nations fight.

Life, like the tiny yellow flower or a piece of technology and possessions are fragile. One strong wind, one bullet, one bomb on breakdown can take it way. “Here today and gone tomorrow” is the phrase one of my friends uses to describe the fragility of life. I showed my wife today the tiny yellow flower so in case it should die tomorrow, I was able to share its beauty with one other person.


back to top

Just A Day - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When I left today to take Prasad and Kranthi from India to the Fair Trade stores in Milwaukee I forgot my cell phone. Also since I spent the day with them and tonight with my friend and her brother from Sierra Leone there has been no time to check my computer emails. Unfortunately also there was no garden work today. So with no cell phone, computer use till now or garden work or significant time spent outside I still had a busy but natural day.

Listening to Prasad talk about Gandhi and the living of a holistic lifestyle represented by the products from India, discovery some new secrets of cooking from Kranthi, and listening to Dave at Amarenth café talk about local development in way that did Gandhi proud while snacking on some delicious bakery products was most enjoyable and educational. Dave had never heard Prasad talk about Gandhi but was living the lifestyle. Along with meeting my friend’s brother from Freetown in Sierra Leone and meeting so many good persons at the Fair Trade Stores deepened my awareness of how we are all one, brothers and sisters.


back to top

Sari, Symbol, Everyday Life - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pilgrims in Saris

If the dress makes a woman, these five women from the Pilgrimage of Peace were feeling good about themselves as they came down the stairs properly dressed in saris that our friends from India had provided. They learned not only how to wear a sari but also some of the ritual acts that go with it. The five men present formed the appreciation group.

Our gathering today was at one of the pilgrims’ homes on a lake. Pilgrims in life come from all walks of life, rich and poor, men and women, old and young. One sign that this person was a pilgrim was the fact that, in her heated garage, she had a number of bins where worms were producing castings. Keeping worms in house or garage is a sign that person is grounded in life.

Prasad, our guide from India, was talking today how products like a khardi, hand woven shirt, is a sign of self reliance in the Gandhian way of life. Neem soap and herbal tooth powder are other signs of Gandhi, not the human person but the way of life.


back to top

Food of Life - Monday, June 22, 2009

Prasad & Kranthi at Stove

Sri Prasad and Dr. Kanthi, two leaders of our Pilgrimage of Peace with their adult son were at our house today to show us, pilgrims of peace, how to prepare, cook and enjoy a home cooked Indian meal. There will be more pictures and recipes to come on the site about this wonderful meal.

For now let me just say it was simple slow meal that took us a while to prepare. First thing we needed to do was take stock of what I had and did not have in way of ingredients for this meal of the best food the region around Hyderabad had to offer. Than it was a trip to the Indian Grocery store to purchase spices and ingredients we did not have. A few things needed advance preparation but the cooking began in earnest when most of the guests, persons who had taken the pilgrimage and a few friends, had arrived. It was a hands-on cooking session led by Kranthi, Prasad and their adult son, who (believe it or not) took cooking courses as part of his degree in business at the university in Hyderabad, India. Without checking my notes and pictures I am hard pressed to tell you all the things we made but it was a complete meal and delicious. This was slow cooking at its best, and of course, such a meal can only be enjoyed with a slow community eating of the meal with lots of good conversations.

Making and enjoying such a meal is a rarity these days of fast food and quick meals. But it is worth every lentil bean, grain of rice and spice. Such a meal and the good company that surrounds it fills one with enough food of life to last a long time.


back to top

Grounded In A Small World - Sunday, June 21, 2009

Disney made famous the song “It’s a small world.” Milwaukee is known as big city with small town environment where everyone knows everyone. Many a time talking to a Milwaukee native like myself I have discovered some type of connection. Today the small world and small town came together in an international way. Today I talked with my brother in Iowa, my nephew in Texas, my friend from Sierra Leone whose brother is coming to Milwaukee tomorrow, my friends from India who lead the Pilgrimage of Peace; Walk in the Footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi who are in town for a visit, and talked in person or by phone or emails with friends in Milwaukee, USA and around the world.

Our small worlds via the means of technological communications have become international. It is hard to be grounded in such an ever-changing small world. I mentioned in yesterday’s post Naturally Poor how I felt “painfully full of self”. This happens in a small world when one is not grounded. Besides what I mentioned yesterday, trying to live in solidarity with poor, what keeps me grounded is when I live in the present and work in the garden.


back to top

Naturally Poor - Saturday, June 20, 2009

We went to a wedding today at the suburban church where I first worked as a youth minister. The church had been rebuilt and was big and beautiful. The priest at the service mentioned a number of times about caring for the poor and those in need. I am not sure if I did not notice this concern expressed before at weddings or if this was put in the liturgy for this event.

I doubt if anyone there today was really poor and in need. I wonder how many there personally know someone poor and in need. I remember hearing many years ago President Jimmy Carter asking University of Wisconsin students if they knew someone in need personally. At that time I had only one friend in need and he had gotten a good job and was in process of joining the ranks of middle class. Now sadly and joyfully I can say that I really know persons in need. I say sadly because there are so many persons in need these days of economic depression. I say joyfully because these persons are a real gift in my life, not for what I do for them, but for what they do for me

In a garden the lowly worms and the large beautiful flower work together in harmony. In society we talk a lot about helping the poor in need but often do not know them personally and live in solidarity with them.


back to top

Reject - Friday, June 19, 2009

Fr Carl Kabat OMI

When I was a youth minister I saw how interested teens were in rap music. So going with the flow I decided, jokily, to become a rap artist. My first choice for a rap name was ‘outcast’, thinking how Jesus preferred being with the outcast and marginalized. However, the youth informed me that there was already a rap group named ‘outcast.’ So I decided on the name ‘reject’ which held some of the same flavor as ‘outcast’.

Of course, after created a rap persona, I had to rap. So I did raps at some special events and even at a middle school dances. My raps were not very good, actually rather terrible, but they were funny and drew the interest of youth.

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked but sometimes we need to do or say something that means we will be rejected by some. Actually being rejected is not as bad as being ignored—- which really hurts.

All this is to say how I felt today when I read an email about a celebration at the Kabat Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in St. Louis. The house is name for Fr. Carl Kabat, a resident and 75 year old Oblate who has spend about 16 years of his life in prison for acts of civil disobedience, particularly against nuclear weapons. The celebration, a pot luck dinner, is for Father Kabat’s 50th year as an Oblate priest.


back to top

The Young Shall Die - Thursday, June 18, 2009

Children at Prayer Vigil

Yesterday at the MICAH prayer vigil for a young man who was another homicide victim in Milwaukee, there was a large group of children in attendance. They were from a nearby Lutheran Church summer camp. For the most part children are not present at these prayer vigils. It is usually the regular group of persons and often family and friends. Frequently the victims are young adult African American males and the friends are sometimes other young men. These young men are usually congregating nearby and when we invite them to join the prayer vigil they do. After the prayer vigil I have stayed to talk with them and usually they are, like many of the young male killed, unemployed and in fear of dying themselves or seeing more friends die from gun violence on the street.

Tonight’s TV news was about many shootings that occurred yesterday and today. Fortunately they were not fatal but the victims were most young African American males. I heard these young man called an “endangered species” but unlike other endangered species there is not much being done about it.

I have had African American adults tell me that when they were young how there was organized activities, good places to hang out and jobs were not so scarce. Before the present depression the news reported that 54% of African American male adults were unemployed in the central city. I am afraid of what the number is now.


back to top

Grape Leaves Are Everywhere - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grape Leaves

On the way back from lunch with a friend at the Amaranth Café I made a stop at a nearby park and drive to pick grape leaves. The grape leaves we use for middle east cooking come from vines that do not produce grapes but are common everywhere. I have found them in Appalachia and Guatemala and everywhere else I have looked. I sometimes found myself self-conscious and receiving strange looks when picking leaves off a vine. However, June is the best month of the year in Wisconsin to pick grape leaves and so I do.

Stuffed Grape Leaves is the most popular food for the Graf Family. This is what my mother, of Lebanese descent, made to celebrate special occasions. My brothers and their families have developed a taste for them. Even my grandchildren Graf Kids consider grape leaves a special and most desirable food.

A few years ago, after my parents had died, we developed the Graf Family Grape Leaves Club and being the oldest in the Graf Family I declared myself the president. However, only my wife, who learned from my mom and my youngest brother, 18 years younger than I, really cooks the clean leaves. I pick grape leaves, help roll them and certainly eat them but lack the confidence to really make them.


back to top

Hard Harvest - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Home Garden Harvest

The harvest from the garden today, lettuce, parsley, mint, green onions, grape leaves and chives were easy to pick but took some time washing, removing stems and preparing to eat, dry or freeze. Actually the salad at dinner tonight was the eating part. The grape leaves will be frozen till needed and the chives and mint will be put in the dehydrator. In general herbs take more effort in the harvesting process but last longer and add spice to many meals. There has already been some harvesting of mint and chives and there will be more to come.

Today I went to the Farmer’s market in West Allis. Most farmers had plants, vegetable, herb and flowers for sale. Harvesting of major crops is to come.

At the grocery store I was able to purchase fresh fruits, nectarines, strawberries, blue berries and a pineapple, at a very affordable price.

There is a season for everything. This is the season for fresh fruit and vegetables and growing herbs and flowers. The home harvest today might have been hard but all in all it was a good day to harvest affordable and healthy food.


back to top

Silence of the Garden - Monday, June 15, 2009

Salute for Veteran

At what I hope and pray to be my last funeral or memorial service for awhile today, I was asked by my friend Ella to take a picture of the military gun salute at the burial spot for her husband, Joseph, a veteran. I lined up my camera but when the first shots were fired in the air I was startled and moved the camera and lost the shot. However, they fired a few more times and these times I was ready for the loud noise.

Today on radio I heard a story about a person who revisited their home town of Flint, Michigan to wake up to gun fire at night in what was once was a peaceful middle class neighborhood. Soldiers and civilians in war zones like Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan are constantly scared by loud noise of guns, planes or bombs. These noises mean danger.

A friend sent me an article today about a “worm grunter” who makes a sound like a mole in the ground that causes worms to flee to the surface so he capture them and sell them to anglers for fish bait. Even worms fear certain noises.


back to top

Looking To the Future from Present - Sunday, June 14, 2009

Looking at Front Lawn Gardens Today

Looking at my front lawn garden today there is not much to see. But if you look at the rain garden behind it you sense what a year can bring. A year ago the perennial rain garden did not even exist. So hopefully by this late summer and certainly by next year I hope the annual front lawn garden of food and flowers can be as full as the rain garden is now.

In my life I find there are two ways to look forward to the future. One is from the past and one is from the present. From the past the future often does not look so good and certainly does not offer any surprises. Looking to the future from the present, the present is full of hope and the unexpected. Also looking from the past it seems that we can never catch up with the present let alone with the future; while looking deep into the present we can discover the next step to the future.

Victory gardens growing and eating organic food is the ‘in’ thing these days. Looking at the future of this food movement from the past, it has happened before and become something for the elite or well off. Looking at this present movement from the present there is the real possibility that we can extend it this time to all persons and make possible Growing Renewable Affordable Food (G.R.A.F.).


back to top

Celebration of Life - Saturday, June 13, 2009

Graf Kids Celebrate Life

Today we celebrated the Memorial Service for Lorenzo Rosebaugh, our friend who was killed in Guatemala. At the service we declared by acclamation Lorenzo to be a saint. Monday we will celebrate the funeral of Joseph Brooks, Ella’s husband. I appreciate these celebrations but can do without these kinds of celebrations of someone who has died.

I prefer the celebrations of my grandchildren. They are spontaneous, unplanned, full of joy not sorrow, and celebrate life to be, not life that was.

My hope is that after Monday life will be more normal, death will be on hold, warm summer weather will finally come and we can come together to celebrate life without someone dying. As we prayed today: “Life is stronger than death.”

I end today and this posting with a quote from Saint Lorenzo Rosebaugh that was sent to me recently. “I reach out to the entire universe, asking the energy, the love needed to unite more and more with the people God has placed in my life and with all creation that yearns to be one.”


back to top

Today’s Play - Friday, June 12, 2009

Children waiting for pizza

Now I am back home. But earlier today we had the last five events of the Olympic decathlon game we, my grandchildren and I, created. After a week of watching my grandsons play Wii video games, especially the Olympic events, I challenged them yesterday to a set of 10 athletic events. We invited the three children, 5, 8, 10 from the dairy farm across the streets and the games began.

On all the events that depended on weight and strength — tug of war and hammer throw — I was clearly the winner. On events like the race events, 100 meters, half mile and quarter mile, I was dead last. The final results of the four of us that participated in all 10 events was that my 9 year old grandson was first, I was second and my 11 year old grandson third and 10 year old neighbor fourth. Age and weight have advantages and disadvantages in playing with children.

After the Olympic events (which were heightened by my oldest grandson’s imagination, even to the point of making awards), we all, including the two 5 year olds, went out for pizza and ice cream in the nearby town. Eating our ice cream while waiting for the pizza, all six of the children were having a good time and were well behaved. When I went to fill my soda cup at the machine one of the other men in the restaurant asked me how I did it, take care of six young children and be so relaxed. I did not tell him this, but thought to myself, that it helped to be a kid myself, 66 years old, but still a kid. (This prompted this picture of all six children taken with my cell phone.)


back to top

Dung Or Words - Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cow Dung to Worm Castings
Rows Today

Today was a busy day with my grandchildren, from staging our own mini “Olympic” Decathlon, to a baseball game, going out for ice cream, to working on the rows changing cow dung to worm castings. My computer time was tonight but I wasted it on responding to my Congresswoman’s letter to me justifying her yes vote for an $84 billion dollar supplemental bill for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is a link to the letter from Congresswoman Moore and below is my response.

Since worms are good at turning waste into rich soil I offer my response to my congresswoman as my posting tonight.

Tomorrow I will be back home and resume my more normal observation diary.

Dear Congresswoman Moore,

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my phone call and email about your vote for the Supplementary military funding bill. I strongly disagree with your opinion, values and facts on this issue of life and death.

I find your use of the 9/11 attacks to justify your yes vote on the FY 2009 supplemental funding bill appalling. I join with the September Eleventh Families for Peace Tomorrows in saying Dear President Obama: Get Us out of Afghanistan.

“Lasting peace in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be achieved through maintaining or increasing U.S. military involvement in these countries. To the contrary, the U.S military presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan generates hostility towards the United States, and instigates instability and violence in those countries.” (The Declaration of Peace Statement)

In voting for the 84 billion supplemental military funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan you say “I err on the side of peace.” I believe you erred on the side of war. Making peace not war is the way to peace. When will we ever learn?


back to top

Coming Home - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bullfrog at home in library

While I was asleep last night my cell phone rang. From experience I have learned that always means bad news. This time it was my friend Ella saying her husband Joseph was failing fast in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital where he had been for over a week. That very day she had told me by phone that he was doing well and had been sitting up in a chair beside the bed. Now he was dying and she had been told to call family and friends. This morning I spoke briefly with Ella. Joseph died this morning. For Joseph who so struggled with every breath, I know he is now resting easy in the bosom of God. However, for Ella, who is such a strong woman yet was so dedicated to Joseph, this must be a devastating blow. Whenever I drove Ella on an errand on the way back she would call Joseph who would be waiting at the door for her. I have this uncanny ability to predict the exact time of arrival so instead of saying we would be there in a few minutes she would ask me when we would arrive and I would say something like 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Joseph was amazed and delighted with these predictions. Now there will be no one home to call. From the death of my sister and my sister-in-law I have learned how hard it can be losing a loving spouse.


back to top

Be Not Afraid of Worms - Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Graf Kids at summer cottage to be

This morning while my two grandsons were playing on the Wii game, my five year-old granddaughter and I went out back to check out the two compost rows where we are turning cow dung to worm castings. When I said we were going to check on the worms, my granddaughter said she had to wear her mittens. While keeping her distance from the worms she asked me all kinds of questions of what the worms were doing, what did it matter, why we were interested in cow and worm ‘poop’ and on and on. I explained the process to her as best I could about how worms’ basic job was to eat waste, even cow dung, turn it into good soil and how they reproduce themselves in multiples. I think she got because at the end she said: “The worms really do their jobs.”

These worms in the cow dung were thriving. Back home my wife and adult son are taking care of the gardens and the worms. Worms, as many of us (including my granddaughter) know, do not take much care. All we need to do in the summer is to make sure the compost does not get too hot, and that they have water.

My granddaughter’s interest in worms was only out-shone by her interest in a new fishing rod I had brought to add to our rods for fishing with the grandchildren. She immediately declared it “her rod” and only agreed to share it with her brothers when I told her that we all shared our fishing gear with each other.


back to top

Thanks For Wii - Monday, June 08, 2009

5 Boys around Wii

Arriving in the North Country I was greeted by my 5 year old granddaughter who was already out of school. It is a dark wet day here but we managed to go out to the garden to check on it and on the worms in our cow dung compost piles. Some of the garden is under water but the worms in the compost roles are thriving. We played music, danced and did some games and puzzles. She has a great imagination and is easily entertained.

Before he left for my work my son told me that when my grandsons came home, after a ½ day of school, they would want to play on the new Wii game system or ride the new four-wheeler. It is too wet for the four wheeler, but the Wii game system is just right for a rainy day. The Wii game system, I understand was an early Father’s Day present purchased for their father by the three Graf Kids. (Sure!)

My grandsons, arriving home on the school bus, went right to the Wii game system and asked if they could invite the three boys in the diary farm across the road over to play Wii. The boys are the about the same age as my three grandchildren. At first all six children were involved with the Wii game system. My 5 year granddaughter was not too interested in the Wii game and for a while managed to draw the 5 year old neighbor boy away from the game to play with her. However, he returned around the game with the other boys.

This leaves me free to write this posting today, and for the dog and cat to take a nap. I would take a nap too but I am taking care of all six children so must be on duty. Thanks to Wii and my granddaughter’s great imagination my job is easy.


back to top

Slow Down Moment - Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ella receiving her award

In midst of preparing for the Memorial Service for Lorenzo, the visit from our friends from India who led our Pilgrimage of Peace, helping out my friend Ella, whose husband is in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, working on my home gardens and the DMZ Community Garden and everything else going on in my life in Milwaukee I am taking a week to go fishing.

Actually I am going up north for the week to my son’s home to watch my grandchildren, Graf Kids, since they are out of school and their mom, a teacher, is not. The week will be active, going to soccer and baseball games, going fishing with the grandchildren, working on their garden and turning cow dung to vermicompost, it will not be the same.

In a small rural community things move slower but with cell phones and laptop computers and multiple children’s activities it does not seem so at times. I guess it is slower because in the country with cows and nature around you life seems slower. The perception of reality in the country makes life seem more relaxed. And since relax is what I need now, I am glad I am going. It will be a slow week in a hectic time period.


back to top

Upside Down Day - Saturday, June 06, 2009

Upside Down Tomato Plants

As awareness increases emptiness rises. As we dig deeper we go to the roots. When we listen silence speaks.

The above is a feeble attempt to express some feelings of late. I feel more aware of the moment and easier to focus. Yet at the same time I feel peacefully lonely and silent.

Today in the DMZ Community Garden I worked with some adults and children that I barely new yet I felt at ease and at home with them. They came from diverse backgrounds than myself, racially and culturally, but I was comfortable working with them.

Tonight I was in a theater full of persons of similar age, racial and culture background as myself yet I felt strangely uncomfortable watching the performance with them. Leaving the theater I saw someone I knew. We embraced but I cannot recall the name of the person.


back to top

Have a Good Day! - Friday, June 05, 2009

Good Day Flower

This morning I was in a rush to get to two prayer vigils, so after the prayer vigils I went to the drive up of McDonald’s for coffee and breakfast. As I was receiving my food the young girl serving me said: “Have a good day!” Normally I would not be too aware of this remark but this morning I was. I hoped she was right.

The next stop was the ICU at the hospital where my friend Ella’s husband is. I was going to take her, as I regularly do, to the pharmacy of another hospital where she gets a monthly supply of medication for her and her husband. However, her husband Joseph was in distress breathing this morning so she sent me to the other hospital by myself to pick up the medication. When I returned to the Intensive Care Unit she was not in the room with Joseph. So I just sat by his bedside in his presence, waiting and praying. Due to his difficult breathing a young nurse had been assigned to sit outside his room to make sure he stayed calm as he fought for his breath, even with the oxygen mask on.

When Ella and another friend from Church returned to the room the new nurse explained Joseph’s situation and to her in her enthusiasm exclaimed: “We are going to have a good day!”


back to top

Words and Worms - Thursday, June 04, 2009

I know that robins, like almost all creatures including humans, do not read the Diary of the Worm. However, after my post last night, Robin Hood, I noticed a significant increase in robins in the gardens around the house. Naturally it probably was my moving around and watering worm-enriched soil that drew all the robins.

A word, like a worm, is cheap. Robins might value a worm as we value a word, but by themselves they have little value. However, words put together in a good order, like worms working together are more valuable. However it is only when words turn to action and worms turn compost to castings that the real value of words and worms is achieved.

The President of the United States, by all accounts, gave an excellent speech today in Egypt to the Muslim world. He said all the right things that Muslims all over the world wanted to hear. However how he and the USA deal with Israeli settlements in Palestine, the never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombing of Pakistan by USA drone missiles will determine how the President is remembered in the Muslim world.


back to top

Robin Hood - Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Robin over the hood

While working on the garden along my driveway today I noticed a small robin sitting on my wheel barrow right next to me. I figured he was too young to be scared by me. However, when I started to talk to the young robin he flew away. I guess I am no St. Francis.

There have been a lot of robins hanging around my house this year, in the backyard, side and front yard gardens. When you have worms working for you, making soil and reproducing, it is not too difficult to know why. Robins eat worms. While other birds sing in a nearby tree for me to put bird seeds in the feeders, the robins just wait and watch in the garden for worms.

The robins especially like the worm depository, a pile of compost that is basically used to grow more worms. When I turn over the pile, worm depository, or add composted soil to a new area in the gardens, the robins appear. So another benefit of growing with worm power is that your garden will be a robin hood.


back to top

Death and Doctors - Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Where there are doctors and death it is hard to find time for new life. Today due to two doctor’s office visits, planning the memorial service for Padre Lorenzo, talking with two persons suffering from mental illnesses, and waiting in the hospital with a family for emergency surgery on my friend, Ella’s husband, there was no time for gardening. In fact I was so busy with death and doctors today that I could not attend the prayer vigils for three more city homicide victims. However, from my experience with death and dying today plus inspiration from reading an article War is Sin, a deadly but truth-full piece, I feel ready for new life tomorrow and some gardening.

The article War is Sin was not written by any church leader or theologian but by a reporter. He explains something we already know, but do not want to admit to, about violence and war. Our silence and failure to recognize this reality does a tremendous disservice to our soldiers, to our religious faith and to our country.

On one hand the article motivates me to write about the “Militarization of Society”, especially schools systems; on the other hand it makes me think “why write more about it when we all know it but choose to ignore it”. In some unusual way it makes me want to work on the gardens here and at the DMZ.


back to top

Nature Does Not Use Words - Monday, June 01, 2009

The Gospel in El Salvador

This picture of Lorenzo Rosebaugh sent to me by a friend for the Memorial Service shows Lorenzo holding the Book of Gospels at a service in El Salvador. My friend who sent me the picture believes the photo was taken by the late Jim Harney, a photo-journalist and also a member of the Milwaukee 14. The last time I remember seeing both Lorenzo and Jim, we were sitting around the kitchen table that I am am now using to write this post. I remember they were talking about their encounter in El Salvador.

Both men, by how they lived their lives and their deep compassion for the poor, marginalized and undocumented, remind me of a saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”. Lorenzo by his daily action and Jim by his photography really preached the Gospel without using words.

Nature preaches the Gospel, ‘good news’ without using words. I see, touch, smell, hear and taste nature without a word being said. No computer, writing of words, or books are necessary to know the message of nature, in all its beauty, wonder, order and havoc.


back to top

back to top


Page last modified on July 31, 2009

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