This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form without prior authorization.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

Rain Garden July 31, 2009

Front Lawn Garden 08/09

Garden 08/02/09

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

Wasted Space Heater - Monday, August 31, 2009

Roof of Sun Room

In the August 22nd posting, The Green Answer Is Within, I wrote how the answer to my question how to simply and affordably heat my unheated sun room was right in front of my noise: a passive solar box on the roof of the sun room sending hot air into the sun room in the winter.

Today I took a picture of the roof of the sun room, which faces south. With the sun low in the sky and the leaves on the trees I do not get much sun on the roof in the summer. That is good because on a sunny day the room is too hot. However, in the winter when the sun is high in the sky and the trees are bare there is plenty of sun warming the roof. A passive solar box on the roof could capture the heat and send it to the sun room. There a fan would distribute the hot air, and the floor of the room and the soil in the GP box along with the five pane AIR inserts can keep it for the cold winter nights.

This project, although simple and affordable, is a little beyond my building skills. I need to find someone to build the box, put a vent in the roof and a device to open and shut the vent. Then the roof will no longer be a wasted space heater.


back to top

This is the Season - Sunday, August 30, 2009

A friend told me today that due to the sudden cooling of the weather the salmon in Lake Michigan are getting ready to make their annual run up the Milwaukee River to spawn and die. Usually this does not happen until the end of September, but with temperatures dipping tonight to the 30′s the run may be early. He is going to check it out tomorrow and let me know if this is the season for the salmon run. A few years ago when we went salmon fishing together I caught a few large salmon that, when smoked, made for some good eating. Salmon, when fully grown, return to the spot on the river where they were released to spawn and die.
Weather rather than dates seems to be the determining factor for when they run upstream.

Personally I am holding out for more of the summer season. The household gardens are still producing and I would like to extend the harvest as long as possible. But again the temperature, not the dates, will determine this. Tuesday of this week schools in the area open once more for the fall session. Here dates, not weather, determines the time to return to school.

Again I find myself with too much to do and having to set priorities of what to do. Neither weather nor dates affect these choices, but only I and people around me. A friend called tonight for a possible ride to a doctor’s appointment tomorrow afternoon. Healing takes precedence over many other things in my life.

Dinner tonight, made by my wife, featured a variety of garden fair — Routounni of egg plant, zucchini squash and tomatoes from the garden, and a dish of green beans. Now these are dishes of the season. Tomorrow I plan to make a Middle East salad with many of the garden ingredients. This is the season for cooking with fresh, garden-grown vegetables.

No matter if you go by date or temperature this is the season for change.


back to top

In Defense of Red Worms - Saturday, August 29, 2009

Red Worms

Today we were at the 40th anniversary marriage celebration of friends from our Madison days. Talking with some other old friends the discussion of composting with red worms came up. One of the woman mentioned how she had heard on National Public Radio, NPR, that red worms are an ‘invasive’ species, not indigenous to our country and could be harmful to the environment. I have heard this bad rap on red worms before but have found nothing except good things about the use of red worms.

So tonight I decided to spend a little time to check out this bad rap about red worms. I found a lot of information on the web about the matter. Probably the most clear summary article on this subject was on the Sustainable Gardening web site called Mysteries of Invasive Worms Revealed. This article, quoting other studies like the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources study, said that non-native red worms could be harmful to hard-wood forests as found in Minnesota since they eat the rich organic material of the soil in those forests. However, this kind of red worms cannot survive in weather under 40 degrees and only are found in compost piles in these regions, not in forest. This article also states that red worms are ideal for composting since “they eat, excrete and breed quickly.”


back to top

Calm Music & Garden - Friday, August 28, 2009

My kind of garden!

A few years ago my wife became a fan of the American Idol TV show, especially of the winner last year, 2008, David Cook. This year the TV show was of interest to both of us since a local person Danny Gorky was one of the finalists. Tonight we went to the American Idol Live tour show, featuring the top 10 finalists.

The Idol type of Rock N Roll is not my style of music, but I must admit the show, both years, was entertaining. The light show was fantastic even though I felt somewhat frustrated as I do with this type of music, since I cannot understand the words of the songs. Also the beat is fast, hard and loud to my ears.

I felt like a Catholic in an Evangelical Church service. Catholic services can be much refrained and Evangelical service can be very enthusiastic but if Catholic is what you are brought up with you find the Evangelical service entertaining but not as meaningful.

Another metaphor that might be more to the point is that of a garden on a calm and serene day and a garden during a severe thunderstorm. In one case, the garden’s environment is silent and reflective and in the other scenario, like the music tonight, it is noisy and loud. However, there sure is a strong fan base in the white middle class, almost all of the audience at the concert tonight, for this music. So what I might call loud and noisy is beautiful music to someone else’s ear.

This morning was wet and rainy and this afternoon it was bright and sunny in the garden. We need both environments in the garden.


back to top

Not Your Father’s Military - Thursday, August 27, 2009

Teaching War on Campus

Today I went to the city dump to pick up wood chips, something I have done many times before. Tonight I wrote an email to some explaining how the Reserved Officer’s Training Program (ROTC) has changed, something I have done before. I must admit that throwing the wood chips down on the garden was more rewarding than throwing down some more words of why “teaching of war” should not be in Catholic colleges and universities. But both are necessary and need to be done. The wood chips will enrich the soil in the garden around the plants. Hopefully these words will help clarify why I believe as Christians we must resist teaching war and military values on Christian campuses.

Not Your Father’s Military

Perhaps all military training should be on military bases, not in our schools.


back to top

Likable Liberal - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rose in Garden Today

A rose is a flower that everyone seems to like. For days I have been thinking of taking this picture of the rose in our backyard garden. Today when I heard of the death of the Senator Ted Kennedy I finally took the picture.

As a rose is a flower that everyone seems to like, Ted Kennedy was a liberal politician that everyone seemed to like. There are many on the right and left who disdain ‘liberals’, but you will find few who did not like and respect Ted Kennedy.

Perhaps it was his humor or his passionate concern for justice for all, poor and rich, old and young that made him so likable. Maybe it was his eternal optimism everyone liked.

He was a man of privilege that fought for the underprivileged. He was rich yet struggled for the rights of the poor. He suffered family and personal tragedy but never used that as an excuse for his own personal efforts.

While many argue about health care he made it the cause of his life and worked tirelessly for heath care as a right for all.

Maybe it was spending so much time at beautiful Cape Cod at the sea that made him a reflective man of action. The reason of why he was who he was does not really matter. He was a likable liberal who made a difference in this world.

Like a rose in a garden he was sign of the beauty and dignity of life. Ted Kennedy was a truly remarkable and likable liberal.


back to top

Late Summer - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunset Over Lake Shawano

Summer season draws to an end, like day turns to dusk.
What was, is over, what will come, has not, but what is, matters.

Summer slowly wears down to fall but the harvest continues.

Each late summer day is like ready cash
A child must spend before school starts.

New roses still bloom but their days are numbered.

Late summer is a time to slow down before speeding up.

It is a ripening of our selves; it may be stale and repetitive,
But in the present is beautiful and unique
Like the sunset over the lake.

The 2010 Pilgrimage of Peace Brochure is ready.


back to top

Hope In A Culture Of Violence - Monday, August 24, 2009

Icon of Franz Jagerstatter

The local newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today printed my letter to the editor. It was about the use of violent language — suspects are ‘thugs’, punishment is ‘justice served’ — by the media and government officials. They did some minor editing, removing their name and a public official’s name who used violent language. They also wrote a headline “Language can breed violence” that does not fit the message, but I am glad they printed it even though they are one of the media that use violent language.

As I become more aware of how deeply the culture of violence pervades our country and individuals, including myself, I could become more pessimistic about our society. However, with the help of the garden, children, friends and family with a deep faith I can stay positive.

I watched tonight a new video on Franz Jägerstätter, a man of conscience who was not afraid to say No to an unjust war even though it cost him his life. Reading from the letters of Franz in prison you see a man at peace even though he was losing a chance to see his wife and four daughters. Franz certainly lived in a ‘culture of violence’ in Germany during World War II but by his deep faith kept his peace of mind and spoke ‘truth to power’ not so much by words as by his deeds. I need to add Franz to my Wall of Saints.

Today I found out that a friend who had joined us in our resistance to the departments of military at Marquette teaching military values over conscience was now working for Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking that refuses to recognize Marquette’s involvement in promoting war and a culture of violence. Another person to add to my prayer list.

I picked some more flowers from the rain garden to bring into the house. The beauty of nature is certainly a comforting way to keep hope in a culture of violence.


back to top

Day In The Life Of A Church Festival - Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dunk Booth

While working in the “Green Booth” with the Uncle Bob’s growing power magic show I decided to take a walk around the festival to see what was happening. There was a big crowd around the dunk booth where people were gathering to be the first one to dunk in the water a very popular parishioner. The first five balls went to the highest bidder who gave them to some of the best throwing arms of his friends, but with no success. Then others purchased balls to throw at the target. Ball after ball was thrown and still this popular parishioner sat dry above the water. After all the heavy throwers had tried some young teenage girls were allowed to move in closer to try. They also failed. Than some young children were allowed to get real close and throw the ball at the target. The man stayed dry after ball after ball missed the target. Finally a very young boy, tired of waiting to see someone dunk the man, walked up to the target and hit it hard with his hand and the person in the booth went into the water. The crowd laughed with joy and the boy was proud.

Taking a walk down a game booth row I heard my name being called out. I looked into one of the booths and saw a dear friend who I had not seen for quite a while. We updated each other on our lives and promised, as usual, to stay in touch.


back to top

The Green Answer Is Within - Saturday, August 22, 2009

Passive Solar Greenhouse

Today I was in the ‘green booth’ at a local parish festival to display my growing power home model and to do the Uncle Bob’s growing power magic show. In the booth with me, displaying some green technology was a couple that lived in a house powered by solar panels. In fact the high tech solar panels on their house produce enough electricity for two houses plus. Their house is tied into the electric grid and instead of getting an electrical bill each month they get a check for the extra electricity they produced and do not use.

So I decided to ask one of them the question I have asked many solar persons over and over again: “What is a simple and affordable solar energy system that I can place on the south facing roof of my unheated sun room.” The answer I got back this time, however, was truly a simple and affordable solution. He suggested I build a passive solar box on the roof that would capture the warm air of the sun and put it in the sun room to heat it up. A vent on the lower end would bring the air into the box where it would be heated by sun, rise, and be released at the other end by a vent into the sun room. The fan in the sun room, which I already have, would blow the hot air down and around. At night or when it is too hot, a flap on the vent inside the room would shut, keeping the warm air from escaping. The soil in the GP Box and other planters plus the floor would absorb the heat during the day and slowly release it at night. Actually I would not need to worry about the room being too hot in the winter since I can always open the doors from the house to the sun room and use the excess heat to heat the house. He explained to me that this system has been commonly used by greenhouses over the years.


back to top

Be Like the Birds - Friday, August 21, 2009

Busy Birds Being

The person who sent me the quote about joy in last night’s posting sent me one about hopelessness today. It is from Dorothy Day and says: “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.” If by work she means ‘living fully’ I understand and appreciate the quote. But if “work” just means keeping busy, I think, it will make us more hopeless.

Keeping busy certainly covers up a feeling of hopelessness but eventually we must stop and face the hopelessness and still find joy. Contemplating and reflecting on our experiences gives us strength and hope when we are feeling sad and desolate.

Keeping this balance between action, activity, and contemplation is the way to keep peace of mind. As Thomas Merton says: “ To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence.” Yet as Merton, Dorothy Day and Gandhi realized passivity or indifference is not the answer. St. Ignatius of Loyola says we must be “Contemplatives in Action.”

This is something I find it hard to do except working in the garden. Working in the garden you are in a very contemplative environment while you are busy doing something. Working in the garden brings together the paradox of ‘being’ and ‘doing’.


back to top

Joy of Work - Thursday, August 20, 2009

St. Thomas Aquinas at work

My friend Jim Forest, my main supplier of good quotes, sent me a brief one the other day that has been rattling around in my mind ever since. It is from St. Thomas Aquinas and is: “There can be no joy in living without joy in work.”

St Thomas Aquinas was a famous 13th century Dominican philosopher and theologian, and when I think about him and his great intellectual works I usually do not associate the word ‘joy’ with him.

In fact I know a little bit more than most Catholic-raised boys know about St. Thomas Aquinas because the Catholic grade school I attended was named after him. The church and school were closed after the neighborhood turned from a predominately white neighborhood to a predominately African-American neighborhood. The school still stands, but is now a Milwaukee Public grade school for high-achieving youth.

I guess this quote struck me because I look at work as much more than a job for employment. At times,in the past, when I was unemployed I sometimes worked harder than I did when I worked for money. Now that I am so-called ‘retired’ I think I work harder than ever. The difference is that now I choose my work and I choose work that brings me joy.

My work in the garden, helping out other persons, making dinner, working on the computer, organizing the Pilgrimage of Peace 2010 is joyful work. So as I have found more joy in work I find more joy in living, just as good old St. Thomas said.


back to top

Easy or Difficult - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today I was talking with someone about the Pilgrimage of Peace 2010. This was an easy and difficult task. It was easy since I was so inspired by the Pilgrimage of Peace 2009. Yet it was difficult to articulate in words such an enriching experience that made such an impact on my life in everyday living.

I came home and continued sifting castings in my new sifter. Now that was easy.

Today I had to send my liberal peace friends an article, “For the Left, war without Bush is not war at all” by Byron York of the Washington Examiner newspaper. In it he takes on the ‘peace movement’ for having two standards for unjust wars, one for Republicans and one for Democrats. It was difficult to send this to peace friends, especially when I know that most, if not all, will ignore it as they did with my response to our liberal democratic congresswoman’s support of a war she condemned. No one likes to be confronted with their own words and principles when they are violating them. I know it is difficult for me to receive accusations that I do not practice what I believe, but I am glad for it.

Playing with children, talking with elders, walking in nature is easy. Easy or difficult it makes no difference, life goes on.


back to top

Garden Handyman - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The new sifter for castings

My dad was an all around handyman. He could do any work around the house from building a room in the basement, fixing a leaking faucet to installing an electrical outlet. Unfortunately I did not inherit this ability and my dad never worked with me to enhance my handyman skills.

Now that I am getting older I think my handyman skills are improving, but my wife may argue with that.

Working in the garden, I believe I have improved my home improvement skills. When you enjoy your work, be it around the home or garden, it becomes easier. For example I needed a device to sift the soil from the worm box to create fine castings. Castings are important for making tea and other organic fertilizers for the garden.

The last one I made was a mess. So the other day I purchased the necessary wood and screen from the store and today I built one. It works well and hopefully is more durable than the last one. It took me a little (or lot) longer than it would take a real handyman but I accomplished the task and it works.

Part of making organic fertilizer, castings, is sifting the soil from the worm box. There are more efficient machines and ways of doing this job but for me this homemade sifter is simplest. All I need to do is put it over the wheel barrow, shake the screen, and rake the soil so the fine castings fall through the ¼ inch squares in the screen.

So another reason to Grow Renewable Affordable Food in a growing power home model garden is that it builds your confidence as a handyman or handywoman.


back to top

Joy of Nature - Monday, August 17, 2009

Joy of Nature

Elsewhere on this web site I have described growing soil starting with waste, composting it, adding worms and making ‘black gold’, castings or rich soil. This weekend at a parish festival I will once recreate this process, which normally takes time, in a few minutes in the “Uncle Bob’s Growing Power Magic Show.”

After years of making soil, my small batch of gardens in the back, side and front of the house are doing well Growing Renewable Affordable Food. Almost every dinner includes one or more foods from the gardens — vegetables or herbs.

However, to get to this point of a small, productive, fairly easy to maintain garden took a lot of effort and making of soil. My gardens now sit on ground we made. Like anything worthwhile in life the more you work on it the more there is to do. For example, today I decided to build another sifter to sift the soil from the worm box for the second time. Buckets of enriched soil wait for me to shake, rattle and roll the soil through the screen in making fine castings. Today I put the worms back in the worm box for a third time this year. The worms keep expanding in numbers, a sign that are enjoying their work and reproducing.

Working in a garden is work, but it is the kind of work that St. Thomas Aquinas talked about when he said: “There can be no joy in living without joy in work.”


back to top

Peace of Mind - Sunday, August 16, 2009

St. Seraphim of Sarov

For our Faith In Recovery meeting after church today I picked for a reflection words from St. Seraphim of Sarov, a nineteen century saint, which I had read in the Orthodox Peace Fellowship magazine In Communion. Part of the reflection reads like this:

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not be disturbed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings. And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern not us, but others. Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it as a dwelling for God Himself. (Little Russian Philokalia, V. I)

I have read similar advice to bear offenses from others kindly from Gandhi, St. Ignatius of Loyola and others. Judith Brown in her book on Gandhi defines his Satyagraha or nonviolence as “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.” St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, asks us to pray to Jesus for a deep desire “to be with you in accepting all wrongs and rejections” (SE #98).

However, in light of our faith sharing this morning this re-statement of a fundamental principle in attaining peace of mind really struck home. Hopefully this time I can practice this belief.

At the heart of a good garden there is a deep peace of nature. At the heart of peace of mind there is an acceptance of wrongs, rejections and offenses without fighting to attain our “vision of the truth.”

A seed must die to rise again as a plant. The quiet death of bearing offenses is necessary to find true peace of mind.


back to top

Wall of Saints - Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dorothy Day by Fritz Eichenberg

In our living room we have a wall with artistic portraits of two persons we consider saints and important persons in our lives. One is Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, a young college student in 19th century France that was the founder of the St. Vincent De Paul Society, which serves the poor and those in need and to which we belong. The other is a drawing by Fritz Eichenberg of Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. The portrait of Frederick was purchased in Paris, France after we had visited his tomb. The drawing of Dorothy Day was given to us by Edgewood College as an award for our contribution to peace and community in 1994. Also both my wife and I were privileged to have met Dorothy Day.

I wanted to add to the wall of saints the picture I took in Guatemala of our friend Lorenzo Rosebaugh. After he was killed in Guatemala the picture was used by various media to portray this holy man, who had married my wife and me. I printed an 8 ½ X 11 copy of this picture and wanted to hang it on this wall of saints in our living room. My wife said no, that it did not fit with the other two portraits. So I put it in the dining room with a number of other pictures. Tonight my wife asked me if I could make a smaller version of the picture to match the size of the other framed pictures in the dining room. As we were talking we both realized that the reason the picture did not fit in on the wall of saints was because the other two pictures were artistic portraits that were in matted frames. We decided that if the picture was smaller and matted in an 8/12 X 11 frame it would fit well on the living room wall with the other two pictures. So now we will have three saints on the wall that play meaningful role in our lives together.

I am now reading the book “The Duty of Delight, The Diaries of Dorothy Day.” I read a couple of entries in her diary in 1976 where she threatened not to send any more Catholic Worker papers to Marquette University , here in Milwaukee, if they accepted a Rockefeller Foundation grant for the Catholic Worker Archives. Marquette said they would turn down the grant and Marquette is still today the home of the Catholic Worker archives. I wondered what that was all about so I wrote my friend at the MU archives and copied my friend, Jim Forest, a writer of Dorothy’s biography and Robert Ellsberg, the editor of this book, with a few questions.


back to top

A Garden Is Not Indifferent - Friday, August 14, 2009

Today was another sunny day working in the garden, and the garden yielded another bountiful harvest. Today’s harvest was green beans, tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini. These days each dinner I cook contains some vegetables from the garden as well as home grown herbs.

I noticed that a garden is never indifferent; the seeds and plants grow and produce or not. A garden blessed by nature and tilled by work of a person grows and produces food. A garden cursed by nature and neglected by humans dies and does not produce food.

Humans, however, unlike nature, can be indifferent. If fact these days being indifferent seems commonplace, especially when there are persons or issues we do not want to deal with. I am daily reminded of this quote:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” — Elie Wiesel

A good example of this human indifference, even to moral and ethical issues by moral and ethical theologians, is the response or lack of it I got from seven moral theologians at Marquette University (MU) from my persistent efforts to ask them this question; “Is it moral or ethical for Marquette University to host military training on campus?” (See Debate Forum.)


back to top

Tiny Bird - Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tiny Blue and Gold Bird

The birds and the bees love my home gardens, especially the flowers.
Today a tiny gold and blue bird, my high school colors,
Sat on a flower in the Mary circle in the backyard garden.
Every time I tried to move closer with my zoom lens camera,
The tiny gold and blue bird flew away.
So I had to settle for this picture of its back.

To be a tiny gold and blue bird would be fine.
It would mean I was vulnerable, humble and care free.
I could spend the day enjoying flowers and being care free.
But the blue and gold reminds me that I am “educated”,
Which means that I am supposed to be an adult, grown up,
Taking pictures with cameras like this one
And not childlike, like a tiny blue and gold bird.


back to top

Wild Sunflowers - Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wild Sunflowers in Rain Garden

When I planted the rain garden last year my wife asked me to limit the size of the perennial wild flowers. She did not want tall plants. So I planted only a few plants like the wild sunflowers, mostly around borders. What did I did not know or expect is that the wild sunflowers spread wildly and grow taller. So now, in the second year of the rain garden, the wild flowers have spread and multiplied. Next year I might have to limit the spread and move some plants to other areas, but for now the wild sunflowers offer a tall array of beauty.

Going out the front door in the morning to get the newspaper, while working on the front lawn or vegetable garden, or just driving in and out of the driveway offers a view of the wild sunflowers, a bit of the beauty of nature.


back to top

Pilgrimage of Peace, 2010 - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Working with the garden has its rewards and failures. Working with computer is the same but also has something a garden does not have: Frustration. I am super frustrated trying to send out this web page below, Pilgrimage of Peace, 2010 to a large number of persons on my email list. I will not bore you with all the problems I had, but let me just say that I ran out of the number of emails one can send per hour before I finished. It is paradoxical that what I am trying to send out in a mass mailing is a simple and beautiful gift and invitation for the Pilgrimage of Peace. It is what I am coming to see as ‘computer sense’ vs ‘common sense’. Well here it is, pass it on with computer or with common sense:


back to top

Savory Garden - Monday, August 10, 2009

Savory of the Day

When I started the backyard garden about 5 years ago I planted a number of herbs, some annual, like basil, and some perennial like mint. I had forgotten the name of one of the herb plants. I knew it is a perennial since it comes back each year, bigger and more plentiful. Over the years I have asked people what it is but no one seemed to know for certain. My own suspicion was that it is an herb called savory. Some years I have picked it and dehydrated it and marked the bottle with a question mark. Other years, not knowing what it was I just let it grow and go.

So today after I picked and cleaned a big bunch of this herb I decided to finally, once and for all, figure out what it was. After researching perennial herbs on the web I have concluded it is savory after all. In fact it is winter savory.

Winter savory is not so common an herb in modern times but it was an extremely popular herb in days of old for culinary and medical purposes. In fact the word ‘savory’, meaning good taste or when used as an adjective meaning “morally wholesome or acceptable”, comes from this plant.

So this mysterious herbs turns out to be savory, a valuable herb for cooking and medicine. Yes I have a savory garden.


back to top

To Detassel Or Not? - Sunday, August 09, 2009

Three Sisters 08/09/09

After I returned from the Pilgrimage of India I was interested in a method of growing various plants together, called “companion planting” or Polyculture. I wrote about this in my post of April 21, 2009. A friend in Madison suggested I try the Three Sisters, squash, maize (corn) and climbing beans. These Three Sisters are the main agriculture crops of some Native American groups in North America. So I planted all three together in the backyard, sweet corn, zucchini squash and climbing green beans.

I mentioned in another post how the pole bean seeds I saved from a bountiful harvest last year did not work this year since purchased seeds are genetically modified not to be reused. Fortunately a friend of the family had given us some of her family vintage green beans and they are growing well on the homemade trellis. I have tried growing zucchini squash before but was not very successful. This year I am reaping a good zucchini crop. There was not a lot of room for sweet corn to grow and pollinate but the few that came up are doing well.

When I was in India at the Navdany rural institute founded by world-renowned scientist and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, I saw plots of crops with 10 or 17 plants together. However, I am happy with my Three Sisters trio and next year plan to do more companion planting.


back to top

Trusting in God Works! - Saturday, August 08, 2009

Deacon Michael, Ruthie and
Annette Cullen

Today the youngest daughter of my old friends Michael and Annette Cullen got married. This was a special wedding for the Cullen family and for my wife, Pat, and me. Both Pat and I knew the Cullen family before we knew each other. Mike and Nettie were founders of the Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in Milwaukee, Casa Maria, in the 60’s. My wife was a Marquette University student who used to go to Casa Maria and babysit for their children, just two boys at the time. I was a Marquette University student when I got to know Mike and Nettie and was introduced into the Catholic Worker community and way of life. I remember taking the two boys to the store and explaining to them why their parents did not want them to purchase water guns.

In 1968, before Pat and I met at Casa, I was involved with Mike, Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh and others in the Milwaukee 14 action, a nonviolent action against the military recruiting system for the war in Vietnam, the forced Selective Service Draft system. I met my wife at Casa while we were out on bond, and we were married right at the time of the trial.

All 14 of us went to prison. However, Mike, since he was not quite an American citizen, was deported with Nettie, and now four children, to Ireland. We all expected Mike and Nettie to be allowed to return to USA sometime soon.

However, years went by and Mike was denied entrance to the USA. So the Cullen family settled in Ireland and grew. By the time Mike and Nettie were allowed back in the USA, many years later, they had twelve children, the youngest being Ruthie. I remember going to visit them up north on Nettie’s family homestead where they were living, and little Ruthie Cullen, the youngest child, going fishing with my wife and me.


back to top

Too Many Cells At State Fair - Friday, August 07, 2009

Kids taking Cider break at State Fair

Yesterday I took my grandchildren and their cousin to the Wisconsin State Fair. This is something we have done before and saw a lot and had some fun. However, yesterday there were too many people and too much technology for this to happen. The lines to get in, the lines at rides, lines to get food were very long. Even walking amidst so many people was difficult and made walking around slow. The first thing we did in the fair was to get something to drink, 100% Apple Cider drinks that were less expensive than the bottled water.

Around noon we came out of the State Fair to meet my daughter-in-law who had come down to go to the fair and pick up children to take home after. Then we ran into tech problems. There were so many persons in and around the fair using cell phones that the cell network was constantly busy and I could not get or received phone calls.

When we finally met up with my daughter-in-law and we all finally got back in the fair we were so thirsty. I went to get some more cider drinks while my daughter-in-law took the children on some rides. When I returned I could not find them and could not call them on the cell phone or received their call. I waited at the entrance-way to the rest of the fair grounds but finally went to the crème puff parlor, one of the places we were going to visit. They were not there but I finally got through on the cell phone and arranged to meet them back where I had originally been waiting for them. They had been delayed by the long lines for the rides.

By the time we got together I only had time to walk with them back to the Wisconsin food exhibit where I got the cider drinks. Then I had to leave to take my son to an appointment. We did not get to do some of our favorite things like visiting the DNR outdoor exhibits, seeing the pig races and, most importantly of all, enjoying a crème puff.

When I called them later I found out that did a few things but because of long lines they did not even get a crème puff. Too many people and too many cell phones took something away from my State Fair experience yesterday.


back to top

Remembering Hiroshima Today - Thursday, August 06, 2009

Plowshare ‘fools’ strike today

Today, August 6th, on the 64th anniversary of the ‘crime against humanity’, the nuclear destruction of the city of Hiroshima in Japan, two elderly priest friends of our murdered friend Father Lorenzo Roesbaugh OMI committed acts of civil disobedience to end such crimes.

One is Father Carl Kabet, 75, like Lorenzo, also an Oblate priest. He has spent the last 25 years as a member (much of that time in prison) of the Plowshare movement, attempting to destroy and disarm nuclear weapons. You can read about this nonviolent action and Father Kabat’s statement to the press at the Catholic Worker web page.

Another friend of Lorenzo’s, Fr. Jerome Zawada, 72, a Franciscan priest, was arrested today when he and another person went to pray at the Virtual Border Tower under Construction in Arizona.

Part of their press statement reads:

“On this, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, we call for an end to militarization in all its guises. An end to bombs, nuclear and conventional. An end to the use of Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). An end to walls, fences and their virtual counterparts that divide us and promote fear of each other. An end to war without end.”


back to top

Mother’s Love - Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mother’s Love

Today was an enjoyable day just doing things kids like to do. The five of us, three grandchildren, their cousin and I, spent the day going to the ‘science store’, a Frozen Custard restaurant, a juggling show at library, a water balloon fight and just hanging around the house. I did a few ‘adult’ things, like drive the car for everyone, cook dinner and check my emails, but for the most part my day was the kid’s day.

Tonight after dinner when my wife was home I was able to get out to the garden and do a few things. Also tonight I witnessed the strong love of a mother of her son and a son of his mother. Cousin William has been staying with our grandchildren the last few weeks and thus did not see his mother for a few weeks. The last few days he has been saying how his mother was going to visit him in Milwaukee and how she misses him. I am sure he misses her so I let him use my cell phone to call her a few times. Late tonight she drove to Milwaukee from Madison with her two younger children and her father to pay a short visit. He was glad to see her and his two young brothers and grandfather as they were to see him.

Inspired by family love I started to go through my pictures of the Graf Family Gathering to put them on Flicker to share with rest of family. Cousin William and his older brothers were part of the family gathering and thus are in many of the pictures.

These examples of family love and concern remind me of the depth of love Jesus, Gandhi, King and others call for when they say “we are all brothers and sisters” in God. If we felt that love of a mother for her son or a son for his mother for everyone there would be no more war or violence.


back to top

Ice Cream Woman Cometh - Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ice Cream Truck

As predicted in last night’s posting, I was able to get my three grandchildren and their cousin, ages 5–11, outside working in the garden. For a while I was busy keeping all four of them working. Then my youngest grandson lost interest in garden work and went in to play video games on the computer. My granddaughter also went in the house somewhere so that left the two oldest boys and me working in the front yard garden planting some new flowers that I had received yesterday.

Suddenly the familiar sound of the ice cream truck was heard. My oldest grandson, although growing up in rural Shawano country where there are no ice cream trucks on the road, immediately recognized the sound. I said yes, and the three of us still working in the garden were planning on stopping the truck when it came by. Soon my young granddaughter came out of the house. I do not think she recognized the sound, having spent all her life in a rural area, but she knew something was up. Since she came out we decided to send her in the house to get my other grandson to come out so we could all enjoy a treat delivered by the woman driving the ice cream truck.

We got our ice cream, and as I went back to work on the front lawn garden I noticed the four children sitting on the stairs in front of the house laughing, talking, and enjoying their treats. The scene made me feel a sense of nostalgia for the “good old days” when the sound of the ice cream truck was a welcome one for children, and a time to stop life and just enjoy a treat and each other.

After this time-out, all four stayed out awhile, but eventually the youngest grandson went back to the computer and my granddaughter to play imaginary games in the grass. The two boys and I continued for a time and then retired inside for computer games, TV and making dinner.

So another advantage of having a front lawn garden is that you are more likely to be working in the garden when the ice cream woman cometh.


back to top

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - Monday, August 03, 2009

Backyard Garden 08/02/09

Here is a picture of the backyard garden yesterday. Today it looks different, after cutting some mint and planting some new plants, and tomorrow it will change again. Part of the change is receiving a great number of plants from a nearby garden center in trade for some products I purchased for the center.

I took some of the new plants over to the DMZ community garden tonight and will give some to my daughter-in-law tomorrow for her large garden up north when I met with her to get the Graf Kids, my grandchildren, and cousin William for a visit here in Milwaukee. However, there are still a lot of plants for any available spaces in the front, side and backyard garden. Perhaps I can talk the grandchildren and Cousin William into some garden work, weeding, planting and harvesting, the next three days. Actually it should not be too difficult since they help their mom in the garden and I always have ‘frozen custard’, science store and State Fair on my side. So tomorrow the garden will change once again.

Actually the Garden is good metaphor for life. Both are always changing and a healthy garden, like a healthy life, is more productive.

In this picture you will notice that the Native American trio of plants, squash, corn and beans are doing quite well. Little by little I am learning about what plants grow well together.

A change on the page happened today. I added a new page called Disgruntled Thought of the Day. Wiki gnome, Tegan will do her wiki magic soon on it and make it more interactive. But for now just email your disgruntled thoughts to me at and I will add them. Like a garden using waste for compost, even disgruntled thoughts can add to life. For Life and the Garden are always changing from yesterday to today and tomorrow.


back to top

More Mint - Sunday, August 02, 2009

Today’s Mint Harvest

The most productive and easiest plant to grow in my home gardens is mint. A few years ago I planted three types of mint: spearmint, peppermint, and common. Common came and went after a year but the other two come back in a big way year after year. Mint is a perennial and pervasive plant.

I grew mint since it is a common herb used in Middle Eastern cooking and is good for salads. Most of the mint I clean, dehydrate, crushed and put into empty spice jars. First I called it “Uncle Bob’s SPC mint”, but after the common mint did not come back I just called it “Uncle Bob’s Mint.” I gave my brothers’ and son’s families a jar. One year my grandson Carson picked, dried and bottled the mint calling it “C Mint”. But there is only so much mint used in salads and Middle Eastern cooking. Now my daughter-in-law has two partially full jars of mint at home. Since the mint is more abundant each year we needed to look for other uses. My wife found some empty tea bags last year so we started making mint tea bags.

I could have picked much more mint today than is in the big bowl pictured but was limited by my ability to wash the mint and the size of my dehydrator. I am looking for ways to use mint. Any suggestions?

My friends from India’s daughter called me tonight from Omaha, NE where she works as an IT person. She might work in computer technology, but her passion is cooking and she is good at it. She offered to come to Milwaukee in September for a cooking class followed by a dinner. That should be useful for Indian cooking and delicious. Hopefully Indian cooking makes use of mint. For there is more mint to pick.


back to top

Enjoy the Moment - Saturday, August 01, 2009

Graf Kids enjoying the
moment at Sunset

Tonight I was working in the front garden when I saw the bright orange sun setting through the trees. My first instinct was to go inside and get my camera. Then I caught myself and stopped to just enjoy the sunset for a moment. So now you will need to settle for a picture of the Graf Kids jumping on a trampoline in the sunset.

My reaction to go for the camera instead of just enjoying the sunset reminds me once again how valuable it is to live in the present fully and deeply. A picture might be worth a thousand words but living in the moment is beyond words. It is only in the present that we find God and our real selves.

If I had not been in the front garden I might have gone for the camera. Gardens, living second by second, are good reminders of to live in simply in the present.

On another front, the battle against violence, I realized today how the movement to move military bases off college campuses is similar to the movement to destroy 1A selective service files in the 60’s. I sensed this connection when I started the page Milwaukee 14 Today web page but now I can articulate the connection.

The wars might be different, Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan, the means might be different, a forced draft and now financial incentives, but the goals are the same—to put young adults in situations where they need to kill or be killed. In the military then and now there is no such thing as selective conscientious objection. One must be against all wars to be exempted as a conscientious objector. A war can be immoral and one can be asked to do things that violate one’s conscience but once in the military, military values take predominance over morality and conscience.


back to top

back to top


Page last modified on August 06, 2009

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