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

Rain Garden July 31, 2009


Garden 07/30/08

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The More You Give the More You Get - Friday, July 31, 2009

The More You Give the More You Get

The picture of the rain garden promised yesterday is above in the trio of pictures introducing the Diary of the Worm. I do not think the picture does the rain garden justice (but what is justice these days?).

The perennial rain garden takes less work than the other gardens around the house but does not give back anything in the way of food. One needs to give the food producing gardens more but, in return, one gets more back in turn of food production. The more work you give a garden the more production you get in return.

This is a natural principle of life, the more you give the more you get, that I have observed before. It certainly works in giving donations to charities. Today I went through the many solicitations for donations I received the last few months. I decided to save one appeal from each organization asking for donations and put all duplicate appeals in front of the shredder to go to compost or, if an envelope had plastic on it, into the wastepaper basked. I noticed the most duplicates came from the non-profit organizations that I gave the most to. The old rule, the more you give the more you get, is certainly known by charities.

Some years ago I noticed that this rule applies to one’s job. I was a Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister for the first time. I worked very hard my first years, establishing some programs and creating some new ones. A colleague at the time told me the job would be easier in the second year since I would be repeating much done in the first year. However, the opposite was true. I had given so much of myself the first year there was so much more to do the second year. I lasted three years getting the religious education and youth ministry programs to good levels before I decided to leave and was replaced by 1 ½ job positions.


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Where Did All The Perennials Go? - Thursday, July 30, 2009

Purple Hold Beans at Sunset 07/30/09

Today I felt like taking a picture of the rain garden. Summer brings a new tall, yellow, green and purple look to this garden of perennial flowers. But I forgot to take the picture so you will need to settle for this sunset picture, taken this eve, of purple hold beans at the DMZ community garden.

The reason for taking the rain garden picture was I have been thinking a lot recently about the loss of perennial plants. The other day at my friend’s garden center, a customer was asking about flowers. The garden center had lots of flowers but they were all annuals. The perennials flowers were gone. The lady was fascinated that the flowers would be wasted and not bloom after this summer. My friend gave her a few more annuals to go with her purchase of one.

Last year at harvest I had tons of pole beans. Observing Marna of the DMZ saving seeds, as her mother down south has done for years, I decided to save some pole beans seeds. This year I planted them in spring but they did not grow. I discovered that seeds from regular seed catalogs are genetically altered so as to be just annuals and not grow again. Fortunately a friend gave me some family vintage beans so I now have beans growing on the trellis I build last year, although not as many as last year.


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Miracle of Technology - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Computer Frustration

After spending hours once again talking to technical support persons in India and the Philippines, my laptop computer has more problems than when I first called this morning. Frustrated, I gave up and was about to run some “green errands”, delivering coir, Juana Ana coffee and purchasing fresh pita bread when an evaluator for the computer company called me from India or the Philippines to see if I was satisfied with my technical support. I told the person that the technician, who took control of my computer from his site, was kind and considerate but I was frustrated that I now had more problems than I started off with today. He asked me if I wanted to have that person, called ‘Edie’ call me back. I said yes and gave him my cell number just in case I was not back from my “green errands.”

I was in the Middle Eastern store buying pita bread and asking about the signs for fresh Indian food that can be purchased there when ‘Edie’, who happened to be in the Philippines, called. He gave me a number and extension to call and leave a message when I got home.

After coming home I called and left the message. While waiting for “Edie” to call back I tried once more fixing one of the computer problems. It did not work and, just like in the “old days” of computer repairs, I decided to restart my computer to see what would happen. To my astonishment when the computer came back on both problems were solved.

As I was making dinner, an American-Indian stew, Edie called back. I told him that all was well and thanked him for his help. He was glad to hear that “all was well” and said I made the repairs. (Sure!)


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Delicious Summer Discipline - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summertime Flag

Now with consecutive warm sunny days it is safe to say that summer is finally here. Today I took down the “Welcome Spring” flag from the flagpole and put up a summertime flag. Now with summer here the tomatoes and basil in the front lawn garden are flourishing. It is still dry but water, unlike sun, is something I can add.

With summer, SHARE and the garden I have the means to prepare healthy affordable meals. Tonight with organic vegetables from SHARE and the garden, chicken from SHARE, pasta and Indian spices I was able to create a healthy and delicious meal. My son and wife agreed.

Reading Gandhi I have been thinking about discipline recently. For Gandhi discipline was an important part of life and it is central to his educational philosophy.

Eating healthy and well takes discipline in our society. It is too easy to eat something fast and not very healthy. So summer makes the discipline of eating good food easier and certainly more affordable.

With a good crop from the garden and some good purchases from the local markets I can hopefully freeze some good food for the winter months. (I now appreciate more the art of canning.) Perhaps next winter I can figure a way out to produce more healthy and affordable food in my sun room to complement the summer harvest.

But for now, with the sun and discipline of summer, I can work, grow and enjoy healthy, affordable and delicious meals.


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Advocates Of Peace - Monday, July 27, 2009

Peace Advocates Sri Chinmoy &
Nelson Mandela

(Today’s computer time was used on this email)

Dear Advocates for Peace,
If you want to skip the rhetoric and take the challenge just skip to the words in bold. If you desire, please pass the challenge on. If you choose not to act on this email please, at least, read the last two quotes at the end. Bob

A child in America sees and hears in awe an air show,
Fly over the lake and land.
While a child in Pakistan sees and hear in fear a drone,
Fly over the village.

An American plane piloted by an Israeli pilot high over Gaza,
Dropping its payload on innocent victims and foes alike.

Small Hiroshima’s repeat themselves daily in the air and land in the name of defense,
Many die; some condemn these acts and most ignore them.

A child experiencing the effects of these daily raids that kill,
Grows up wanting to kill back
But does not have the technology of USA so stapes bombs around their body
And sacrifices self in the name of defense. Many die.
Some call them terrorist and some praise them.

A college student sits in a military classroom at Marquette
Learning the principles of war that justify in the name of state such senseless killing
And with ease moves to another classroom to learn in the name of faith such acts are immoral.
Where is the separation of State and Religion when we need it?


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Day By Day Lilies - Sunday, July 26, 2009


A few years ago I planted some bulbs in front of the house not knowing what they were. The next summer a beautiful flower appeared on one of the plants sprung from one of the bulbs. I still did not know what it was but planned to take a picture of the flower the next day for my web posting. However, the next day the one flower had wilted some but another one was opening up. So I waited till the next day and took a picture of that flower in full bloom.

I soon learned that these beautiful flowers that appeared in full bloom for a day were called, appropriately, daylilies. There are many flowers coming from one plant but each bulb produces a different color of flower. It takes the daylilies a few days to be in full bloom and a few days to slowly wilt away.

This year they have multiplied. In fact I just learned on the wiki site they are considered an invasive plant in the USA. (This is one invasion I welcome.) On this picture to the left you can see one plant with many flowers in various stages of bloom.

If we can live life day by day each day will be a beautiful flower. Unfortunately I am still learning how to live day by day or sometimes moment by moment. For example, now that I am back from the Graf family gathering I think I need to catch up on things. However, the reality is that all I need to do is what I can and should be doing each day. Catching up just means getting further behind.

Working in the garden today was a good way of slowing down to live in the present day.

I bet that when Jesus was talking about living life like the lilies of the field he was talking about daylilies, living each life to the fullest day by day.


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Silent As Nature - Saturday, July 25, 2009

Silent Sunset

We returned today from a family gathering last week on the shores of Lake Shawano and our son’s family home nearby. There were seventeen of us, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents at this gathering.

One of the nights we had our traditional Grape Leave dinner, although this time some of us had to eat and go to the last soccer game of the season for my grandson. In fact this week, all three of the Graf Kids had final soccer games of the season. Also one of my grandsons had baseball tournaments both weekends.

As seems to be the norm these days the young adult parents have a compulsion to keep their children busy all the time, playing video games, tubing, go-carting, water skiing, polka dancing, gong to movies and so much more. In fact my granddaughter and I did not have time to play “shark” in the water with me as the shark or for our traditional water balloon fight. But the kids seemed to have lots of fun, as do the adults.

Despite all the activities I did manage to go fishing with my nephews, grandsons and their cousins from the other side of the family. Also there were the silent sunsets that defy words and busyness.

In moments of reading this week about Dorothy Day or Mahatma Gandhi I admire how they integrated moments of silence into a very busy life. I find this hard to do although it is nature’s way.

Like nature there are many, perhaps too many, observations from this week of the family gathering. It will take lots of silence, silent as nature, to really see, hear and touch them.


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Time To Go Fishing - Friday, July 17, 2009

Colorado Summer 2009 by Katie Graf

There is a time for everything. There is a time to be rejected and a time to be accepted; a time to be busy and on the go and a time to slow down and stop.

Today a friend and I traveled to a Pax Christi conference to talk with a group about the 40 Year History of the Nonviolent Resistance to the Military at Marquette University. At the conference our message of To make peace, stop teaching war was accepted, while here in Milwaukee and Marquette it has been rejected or ignored.

Life has become too busy recently so it is a time to slow down and stop. So till Saturday eve in a week, the Diary of the Worm will ‘go fishing.’ A worm going fishing is a paradox, so fits right in with these postings.

Actually I am taking time out for a family gathering. My two brothers and some of their families, from Iowa and Colorado, will be joining my son and his family and my wife and me for a week of relaxing. Besides our annual gathering of the Grape Leave Club and eating stuffed grape leaves, there will be some fishing, at least for my grandchildren and self.

This time out comes at a very busy time in my life, when there is more to do than time to do it. Martin Luther King said that the busier he got the more time he had to take for prayer and reflections. I do not know how much more praying I will do, but family gatherings can be a time of remembering, reflection and some good laughs.

The picture on the side was taken from my niece and goddaughter from Iowa while she was in Colorado this summer. She just sent it tonight. She will be here in Wisconsin next week before going on the road again, this time to Minnesota, I believe. It is great she is taking time out for the family gathering.

When life becomes hectic and too fast and busy what I need is not a faster computer or better cell phone but to stop, enjoy the sunset and take time to ‘go fishing’.

The and Diary of a Worm will return Saturday, July 25th and a new and improved way, fish or no fish.


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One Small Step For Mankind - Thursday, July 16, 2009

Professor Maguire

On this 40 anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing it is only right and just that we received today a response from a Marquette University professor of Moral theology on our 40 year old battle to resist military training and teaching on the Marquette University Campus.

A few weeks ago we had sent a Letter to Teachers of Morality and Ethics at Marquette University. Today we received a Statement about the military on the Marquette University Campus by Professor Daniel Maguire of the Theology Department at Marquette.

A friend learning of this response congratulated me and said how it was my issue. I wrote thanking her for her praise but said that teaching moral values of peace and justice at Marquette was not ‘my’ issue or any group’s issue. It was the work and struggle of many persons over 40 years to get this one response from a well respected moral theologian at Marquette. I said that personalizing the issues was what the “powers that be” desire to keep us divided and how it was only when we work together, as some of us did on this issue, that we can move forward in making the Kingdom of God on earth. I am sure it was not what the person wanted to hear but I had to say it.

Tonight Marna, Dawn and I all worked together on the DMZ Community Garden. Two of the three of us, with others, had worked on the DMZ garden many times. But it felt good for all three of us to be working together. Growing Power says “Together we are growing; power” and I say together we are the power of peace. Thanks to Dr. Maguire’s response we took one small step for mankind.


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Nature Over Words - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

“My Life is my message.
You must be the change you wish to
see in the world.” Gandhi

Tonight’s addition to Product of the India of Mahatma Gandhi was supposed to be the five books by Gandhi given to me by my friends from India and that we are offering through Peace Action in Milwaukee. However, unexpectedly, as usual, I got sidetracked with a few friends in need and talking too much. Thus I did not take the pictures of the book covers for the posting.

The talking too much is something I can go without but helping friends in need is essential to my well being. In fact on public radio today on Speaking of Faith I heard about the new science of neureconomics and the genetics origins of the virtue of trust. It seems we are programmed to trust persons and to work for the common good.

I do not know about the science of neuroeconomics but do know that, like nature, to be who I am, I must share my time, talent and treasure with others. So it is not too hard for me to believe there is a scientific base for this element of my faith and experience.

A garden is always seeking a balance of plants, soil and creatures. When something gets out of control, like weeds, the whole garden is hurt. When plants complement each other, as many plants do, each plant does better.

There are always ‘buzz words’. Now the word ‘sustainability’ is one. A few years ago in faith circles the big buzz phrase was “preferential option for poor.” It came from a conference of Latin American bishops in the late 60’s and basically meant to be like Jesus and give preference to the poor, marginalized and those in need. I liked the idea and found it natural to do this. However, once when I went to practice it, those who preached it did not like me doing it and fired me from my job at the time.


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Khadi and Self-Reliance - Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gandhi creatiing Khadi

Tonight’s Product of the India of Mahatma Gandhi is Khadi. Khadi is Indian handspun and hand-woven cloth. It is closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi who encouraged Indians to make Khadi to demonstrate self reliance. It became a symbol of the nonviolent revolution for Indian Independence. Gandhi is frequently pictured making Khadi.

The virtue of self-reliance was an important one for Gandhi. He believed that if a nation was dependent on another nation for essential items as food, clothing and energy this could be a source of conflict and even war. How true this has been proven to be in today’s world.

However self reliance was not individualism. In Gandhi’s view, like that of Jesus, we are all brothers and sisters in God. If one person has more than she or he needs the person naturally shares with a person in need. Self reliance depends on this basic model of social sharing. (I dare not say the S word, socialism.)

Another symbol of self-reliance is a garden, Growing Renewable Affordable Food. A garden, like khadi, is a sign of resistance. We can grow our own healthy food and not be dependent on big agro- businesses and processed, unhealthy food. We cannot all grow all the food we need but by sharing through farmer markets, exchanges, organizations like SHARE and wise purchasing we can eat and drink in a healthy and affordable way and resist the marketing of unhealthy foods.


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Nature: Not Politically Correct - Monday, July 13, 2009

Henry David Thoreau

I think nature is politically incorrect. Here is my evidence. Today I sent out two emails, one to friends interested in sustainability that contained the Diary of Worm posting Poop to Power and one to friends interested in peace that contained the Letter to Teachers of Morality and Ethics. Not counting the two persons that help to edit the letters for spelling and grammar, the only response has been by one of the four theology teachers. His letter was his first response ever to me and was of the ‘pat on the back’ and ‘keep up the good work’ nature while avoiding the moral and ethical issues in the letter.

Since the two, posting and letter were politically incorrect I expected more of a quick response. I am sure if I sent them to conservative groups not interested in sustainability or teaching peace not war at MU, I would have gotten more of a response immediately. Maybe I will get some response in a day or so but do not expect much. Talking to knowledgeable people on sustainability about cow dung to make energy, castings and tooth power, like telling renowned teachers of morality they are not living what they teach, is not exactly politically correct.

Now in nature making good use of cow dung is as normal as living what you teach and preach. This makes persons like Gandhi, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton significant in my life, and is why I collect quotes from them on this web site. To all three nature was important. Gandhi has whole essays about the value of cow dung; Dorothy Day went to the farm or lake shore to unwind and write; Thomas Merton sought the solidarity of nature in his hermitage, and his writings reflect the wonders of nature.


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Poop to Power - Sunday, July 12, 2009

Poop To Power Exhibit

Today my son, his wife, three children, my wife and myself went to see the special “Harry Potter” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Trusting the navigational system in my son’s van over my directions the trip to the museum took us over three hours. However, on the way back the navigational system, fortunately, went along with my common sense directions and the return journey took us less than two hours. Experience sometimes is more effective than high tech.

The Harry Potter exhibit, which cost separate admission plus regular admission, was well done. Costumes, items and video from the Harry Potter movies were fun to see for children and adults.

After leaving the Harry Potter exhibit we entered a farm tech exhibit. The first thing that caught my eye was a small exhibit called “Poop to Power”. It showed four tanks and the four simple steps it takes to turn cow dung to methane gas to energy for electricity. There was no one around this exhibit but I was interested. In India I saw a lot of this simple method, low tech, way of turning cow dung to energy. There are some pictures of this process on the slide shows at the Pilgrimage to Peace.


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Kalamkari Art - Saturday, July 11, 2009

Today’s addition to the Products from the Indian of Mahatma Gandhi is the art of Kalamkari. Kalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile originating in Andhra Pradesh province of India. Andhra Pradesh is the province of India that speaks Telugu and form the base of Telugu Association of North America whose conference I attend in Chicago last week. . (See Gandhi Thought and Action. It is an ancient art of making materials, shirts, table cloths, sarees, curtains, bed sheets we use in everyday life.

Like path quilts made by Ella, Kalamkari combines art and practical items used in everyday life. I believe human beings have a drive to create art in their everyday life. Kalamkari and Patch Quilt art fulfills that need to create art in history and everyday life.


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There is Not Enough Time! - Friday, July 10, 2009

One side of DMZ Community Garden

With my grandchildren here, our gardens, computer with glitches, sharing with friends and family there is too little time to be working on the computer and this web site. Yet I feel compelled to work on the Products from the Indian of Mahatma Gandhi web page since all these Sarvodaya (Welfare of all) products promote swadeshi (local development). These products come with a story and an invitation to understand the thoughts and actions of the way of Mahatma Gandhi. They are quality products but also a symbol of living a life of nonviolence and sustainability. Thus I will use some of my daily posting time for the Diary of Worm for this page. (I got the introduction and jewelry done tonight.)

But not to forget the worms or the garden I will show pictures of another product that comes with a story and an invitation, the growing power model home gardens to Grow Renewable Affordable Food. These gardens produce quality local products and also symbolize sustainability and nonviolence. Today we feature a picture of the DMZ community garden taken yesterday. (You are welcome to join us in the DMZ at anytime.) There is not enough time to do everything in life but there is always time for sustainability and nonviolence.


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She is Back But Only in Black and White - Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thank You Robin

Today the Thank You Robin returned to her perch looking at me through the sun room window and glass door of the office. It was probably there to thank me for accidentally leaving the sprinkler on all night yesterday, making worm hunting a lot easier. Today I was ready with my digital camera, but after I had taken only one picture through the glass door and window the robin turned its back on me. I opened the sun room door and waited for it to turn around but it never did, and shortly it flew away. At the time I figured the bird did not want its picture taken.

However, when I downloaded the one picture tonight, cropped it, adjusted the color and saved it, something strange happened. The colored picture I saved turned out black and white. I did it again and the same thing happened. Finally I went back to the original picture from the camera that was not cropped or corrected. I saved it and made a copy of that picture but every time I did it the cropped black and white picture appeared on the screen. It was strange and after many tries I decided to just go with the flow and use the black and white. I guess some thank yous do not want to be recorded and used. In all my computer experience I have never experienced such a weird thing.

Dawn and I worked on the DMZ community garden tonight and this time I had my digital camera with me. I took some nice pictures and will post them on the DMZ page soon (hopefully not in black and white).

I am sure the black and white Thank You Robin is just some computer setting I accidentally enabled. But the Thank You Robin only allowing one picture, and it coming out black and white, makes for a good story about how some thank yous are meant to be just once and in black and white.


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Bit of Heaven - Wednesday, July 08, 2009

DMZ 07/08/09

I was in Bay View today dropping off some castings and Products from the India of Mahatma Gandhi at the home of the wikignome (web master of this and many other wiki web pages) Tegan. On the way home I decided to stop by a new store in town Future Green. I was there looking for blocks of coir. I found coir but it was bags of the rough stuff, much more expensive than the blocks and not as digestible for worms. However, I was not disappointed at all by my visit. I found a store full of natural, wholesome products for home décor, organic body care, natural wardrobe and so much more. Talking with one of the owners I discovered that we not only knew many of same people but had many of the same interests, like learning from the land and culture of India. Also this was the first store I had been to where some of the Savardoya products, like Kashmir shawls and organic body care products could be marketed. This visit was a bit of heaven (It also motivated me to get the products, pictures and availability on the Gandhi products site).

After dinner tonight Dawn and I went to the DMZ community garden to plant some of the vegetable plants we received yesterday from the Westside Garden Center. I meant to take my camera with me since this garden, in the midst of neglected area of the city, is bright spot. We were not able to get all the plants in tonight but afterward the garden was looking so good that I took a picture with my cell phone camera. Tomorrow night I will get a better one but for now here is a picture of a bit of heaven in the central city.


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Thank You Robin - Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mother Mary in the Garden Today

From my office I can see out through the sun room windows into the backyard garden all the way to the Blessed Mother Mary statue in the circle of flowers in the middle. Today as I was talking to a technician in India about my computer, a big fat robin perched on the plant stand outside my sun room window and was looking directly at me sitting at my computer. This was the fattest robin I had ever seen and the thought came to me, as he just stood there for the longest time, that the robin was thanking me for all the worms that the garden and compost pile had provided for him to feast on. Waiting for some computer test to run I put the telephone on speaker phone and went to get my camera to take a picture of the big robin staring at me.

I got the digital camera but the disk was missing. I remember I had used it in this computer last night and just took it out this morning. I looked around the computer for the missing disk but in all the mess on my desk could not find it. I went back to the camera case to get another disk. All the while I was on the phone to the technician in India.

However the disk I grabbed was not working so I went back to looking for the one I was using that was somewhere around the computer I was repairing by phone. The bird just stood there looking at me. I needed to put my attention back on the computer and eventually when I went to look for the robin it had given up and gone away.

After a long time and many tests, including the takeover of my computer by the technician in India, he concluded that there was nothing wrong with my computer and maybe some dust had gathered in my vent in back of the computer causing the freeze ups. After I got off the phone I cleaned the area around the computer and the computer. Now it works well except the keys are now so sensitive to my touch that the cursor jumps to another spot or another screen. However, the picture of the Thank You Robin will not appear.


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Losing a Prophet - Monday, July 06, 2009

Tonight I posted a remembrance by Ronald Rolhieser, a writer and Oblate priest, about our common friend Lorenzo Rosebaugh called Losing a Prophet. His article reminded me of a quote from another deceased friend, Philip Berrigan who said:
“The poor tell us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets.”

Lorenzo died in a senseless act of violence, as Marna’s cousin and many other residents of Milwaukee and other US cities did the last few days, and as seven American soldiers in Afghanistan and an unknown amount of persons around the world did today. All this senseless violence that we daily face, in my opinion, is due to seeking wealth, power and glory. It is not natural or the way of Jesus, St. Ignatius or Mahatma Gandhi.

The poor do tell us who we are, and when we ignore or hide the poor, as we often do, we lose the sense of who we are. The prophets, by word and example, tell us who we can be and we ignore or marginalize them.

Tonight I worked with Dawn in the DMZ community garden. With just a little watering and weeding the garden looks better. The DMZ garden is in a very poor and forgotten neighborhood of the city, but every time we work in the garden neighbors stop by to say hello, ask us what we are doing, or help us out in the garden. Seeing the ‘greens’ growing gives all of us a sense of hope. If healthy plants can grow from this one of many vacant lots on the block, what else is possible? Growing a garden in the central city is antidote to senseless violence of the city.


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Death in the Garden - Sunday, July 05, 2009

Disgruntled Cow

Dawn, Marna and I met this afternoon at the DMZ community garden. We needed to meet and coordinate our work in the garden. Marna, co founder of Mothers Against Gun Violence has long suffered with some serious illnesses and the last few months she has been very sick. Dawn, operator of Foundation Dwellings has been busy working a job to pay the bills along with her more than full time role of housing 14 persons with disabilities in houses she owns. My excuses for lack of attention to the DMZ have not been as good as these two but I have been busy also. Despite illnesses, housing poor persons with disabilities and my busyness the garden has been planted and with some coordinated attention could flourish. The community in the neighborhood is willing to help as others may be but we just need some leadership from the three of us.

After a good meeting in the garden I drove Marna home. There she was met by her son and a friend with some tragic news, her 42 year old niece has been shot and killed last night. She was overwhelmed with misery as she has suffered the lost of so many family and friends to gun violence, including her own son.

This juxtaposition of events, coordinating the DMZ community garden and another homicide in Marna’s family makes me feel upset about all the hypocrisy we live in today’s society.

There is so much talk about organic growing and urban fish farming, sustainability and food justice. Awards, honors and grants are given yet where in Milwaukee can you purchase one of those healthy tilapia or perches that fish farms are growing. I cannot find any affordable healthy fish locally to purchase. Where can you find fresh healthy food, let alone organic, outside of farmer’s markets, at affordable prices outside on the once a month Share program.


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Cash in the Now - Saturday, July 04, 2009

Part of Today’s Mint Harvest

In yesterday’s posting, Gandhi Thought and Action I mentioned that I was at the T.A.N.A. ( Telugu Association of North America) conference. There I met a man from the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. We got to talking about living in the here and now. He had a very interesting banking analogy about living in the present. He said that living in the past was like having a cancelled note. It once was good but no longer is. Living in the future was like a promissory note; it might have value in the future. Living in the present was like cash. It is good here and now.

This thought fits well with writings of Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus and many others who I admire. To cash in on life we need to live in the now.

Part of the harvest of the garden today was mint. We picked, washed, removed stems and began to dehydrate mint leaves from the garden. We harvested three large bowls of mint and there is much to go.

Fresh mint is good for salads and dried mint is good for salads, cooking and making mint tea. In fact Middle Eastern cooking in my family uses lots of mint and I have been bottling my own brand of mint “Uncle Bob’s Mint” for gifts and home use. Mint is a perennial plant and, like grape leaves, also harvested today, the more you pick it the more it grows. In the now of today we cashed in on mint.


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Gandhi Thought and Action - Friday, July 03, 2009

NCRI Workshop

Today I went to a conference center near Chicago to be a part of 17th TANA Conference. TANA, Telugu Association of North American “is an organization formed to perpetuate, integrate, and assimilate the cultural heritage of the Telugu-speaking people of the North American continent into the mainstream of the cultural heritage of North America.” Teluga is the language spoken by the persons in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. My friends Prasad and Kranthi had invited me to join them in a workshop for their work in the National Council of Rural Institutes (NCRI). Prasad is coordinator of a program called The Wheel - Centre for Gandhian Thought and Action. The Center is involved in all types of projects including one working with prisoners with a study of Gandhi’s writings and action.

Taking it all in, including the delicious Indian Food, I was there with another pilgrim from the Pilgrim of Peace to give some reflections on our pilgrimage. Since the NCRI workshop was hastily called there were not many in attendance. When it was my turn to speak I found myself comparing the thoughts and actions of Gandhi with the thoughts of and actions of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesuit. For years I have been connecting Creative Nonviolence and Ignatian Spirituality but only recently have I seen the connection in word and experience between Gandhi and Ignatius.


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Dreaming Green In The City - Thursday, July 02, 2009

One of Patrick Blanc’s green walls
on the Hotel du Department in
Hauts-de-Seine, France.

Sometimes we can get wrapped 7up in our own worlds and lose perspective of the bigger picture. This article from CNN news sent to me by a friend about ‘vegitecture’ in Paris helps me to dream big and green about my own city.

Green walls: the growing success of ‘vegitecture’

(CNN) — Walk past the southern face of the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, and you will be greeted by a massive wall of brilliant green foliage — an 8,600 square feet plant installation by the designer Patrick Blanc, featuring more than 170 different species.

The mass of leaves and flowers seems to be swallowing the building — and provides a proud symbol of resurgent nature in this busy, downtown district.

The amazing spectacle is one of the largest in a growing number of “plant walls” or “vertical gardens” that are taking root across the world, as architects search for environmentally friendly ways to create beautiful buildings.

Some visionaries even believe that soon we could be harvesting our food from the places where we live and work.

Architect Ken Yeang is the world’s leading green skyscraper architect and a passionate advocate of what is already being called “vegitecture”.


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Peddler - Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Front Lawn Garden 07/01/09

When my grandfather came to the USA (from what was then Syria and is now Lebanon) around the turn of the last century, he had little family here and no means to support himself. He earned his income by going door-to-door peddling fine linen, rugs and tapestry imported from Lebanon. Eventually he made his way to Milwaukee and settled in an area of Milwaukee near Marquette University were other Syrian immigrants from his village had come. They established a Melkite Church, which still stands today although all the Lebanese have long moved out of the area. From selling his goods he made enough money to buy some property and open up a grocery store. It was at the store that my mother, the youngest of his children, met my father.

My grandfather invited my mother and father to live with him in a house near Harley Davidson. My grandfather’s wife, my grandmother, had died when my mother was just a young girl, so he enjoyed the company of my parents and soon me, my sister and brother. Since my dad was always busy working to provide for the family my grandfather became my companion until he died when I was nine.

Although he got into other business ventures he had kept his customers from days of selling fine linen rugs and other products to rich persons. Every once and awhile my uncle and grandfather would pack their goods in a suitcase and head out to the suburbs to peddle their goods. Once in awhile, when we did not have school, they would take my cousin and me with them. Although we just sat in the car when they were in the house of the rich, I was thrilled to be part of this adventure.


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