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

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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

Eulogy For Peter - Monday, August 30, 2010

Gravity by Peter Graf

We were blessed with two sons, David and Peter. Our beloved son David is here today with his wonderful wife and three great children, our grandchildren. Our other son Peter is also here today in ashes and in spirit. We are here to celebrate Peter’s life at his death. Now that is quite a paradox, celebrating life in death.

Peter was my son, my friend, but also my teacher. One of the lessons he taught me was about paradoxes. He taught me that paradoxes — the poor are blessed, last shall be first, celebrating life in death — are mysteries, not something to be figured out and analyzed. Paradoxes are more the stuff of movies, music and artwork than of rational, linear thought.

His life was a paradox. How could this happy-go-lucky, easy-going child turn into such a sad and depressed adult, go from a constant smile on his face to a constant frown?

The last seventeen years of Peter’s life he suffered from an incurable disease. Like cancer it goes by many names, but under the general category of brain diseases. However, unlike cancer it is more prevalent in our society, with one of five persons affected by brain diseases. Sadly brain diseases are not studied as much as other diseases, and treatment is not as readily available, especially to the poor.

Cultures of the past have treated persons with brain diseases in various ways. I have heard of cultures where such persons were revered for hearing voices and seeing connections between things which the ordinary persons could not see.

In the time of Jesus such persons were considered possessed by demons; Jesus healed many a man, woman or child from these demons. For me the most famous example was when he came down from the mountain after the transfiguration and found that his disciples were unable to cure the son of a father who had brought his son to them. Jesus healed the boy, and when the disciples asked why they could not do it Jesus replied that some illnesses could only be healed by prayer.

Today we call people with brain disease crazy, schizophrenic, manic depressive, lazy and lacking will power, and many other labels and stigmas.

The saddest part of brain disease, is often persons and family and friends cannot accept it, because of the labels and stigmas attached to it. To accept it seems to the person with the illness to deny who they are, their being. We would not call a person with cancer cancerous but do not hesitate to call a person with a mental illness, mentally ill. This disease, maybe because it is of the mind, is associated with the being of a person.

Peter never deeply accepted his disease and was always looking for a way out of his terrible pain. He tried in years past to move to another city and escape his illnesses. He turned to alcohol for relief only to find himself more depressed and ill.

As Peter taught me about paradoxes I taught him about parables, word pictures to describe something without directly saying it. Parables enabled him to express to me some of the horrendous pain, blame and shame he faced without saying it was his. In his parables the last few years often a person who was doing his best suffered persecution and rejection from other persons.

Peter was talking about himself. He often told us “I am doing my best”. But his best was never satisfying, so he began more intensely looking for a way out, an escape out of the pain he suffered. Recently he focused on moving to Chicago as his way out. He thought that if only he focused his attention and thought on what I humorously called the “miracle”, it would happen — a check would come in the mail, he could go to L.A. or Chicago and be free.

A few months ago while I was driving him to one of his treatment appointments he told me that if his way of going to Chicago did not work he had a plan B. I thought maybe he was talking about my road to Chicago, a step by step approach, or perhaps living independently again here in Milwaukee. I did not understand what it meant until the other day when Father Mike Barret, our pastor, came over to our house after Peter’s death and made the comment that Peter has finally found his Chicago, his heavenly peace.

God Bless Peter and all of us who were privileged to be touched by his life.


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Peter Graf, Rest in Peace - Thursday, August 26, 2010

My son, Peter Graf, after a long and painful illness died peacefully this morning. Check out some of his art work at Peter Graf.


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Repeat - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jim Wallis

Today I went to add an article to the Featured Article page from Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine. The article that appeared on his God’s Politics blog is called It’s Time to End this War. However, as I was putting it on the Featured Article page I realized that it was already on the site. Even though I forgot the article was already on the web site, any article that caught my attention twice is worth sharing. So tonight I share the article with all of you.

You can find it at It’s Time to End this War.

If you are reading this is in the Milwaukee Metro area you can join us in a march to end the war on Friday. See Breaking the Silence.

There are some words and actions we do need to repeat.


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Blessed Are The Dying - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Accepting Death

Today a group of us went to visit a friend who is near death. I could hardly recognize my friend, although I had seen him about 6 weeks ago. His face was so changed, but when he spoke his voice was easily recognizable. He was surrounded by family and friends. He spoke of being ready to die and wanting to die but how his body kept on going.

His talking of desiring death reminded me of the words of Father Arrupe S.J., the leader of the Society of Jesus at the election of his successor. Fr. Arrupe had suffered a stroke and was unable to speak. His speech was read to the gathering and he said: “More than ever, I now find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life, from my youth. And this is still the one thing I want. But now there is a difference: the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in His hands.”

I told this story of Father Arrupe to my weak friend and he was comforted. Fr. Arrupe’s words are a reminder to all of us that our life is not in our hands but the hands of God.

Facing death has always been one of my fears. Watching friends face death, like I just did with another friend and this one, has given me a perspective on life that one can only see when facing death. All the small things in life do not seem to matter when one faces death. It is an emptying out experience of self except what is essential, family and friends.

Bless my two friends for sharing their dying experience with us. One has died and one is ready. Out of their death comes new life, so they live on in all of us blessed to know them.

Blessed are the dying for in their helplessness and weakness new strength and life is born.


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Observations To Diamonds - Monday, August 23, 2010

Tonight I would like to offer a number of brief observations.

1) As expected there has been not much interest in the since the inauguration of President Obama. Now that the ‘progressive democratic’ has a stronger war spending record than the ‘conservative Republican’ there is not much interest. When the reverse was true, Republicans were in power, you did hear about the war spending records of Republicans by Democrats.

2) I sent Irish fest a copy of last night’s post on the incident at the Freedom March at Irish Fest. Is anyone willing to bet me that Irish Fest will not ignore the letter?

3) With an overabundance of cherry tomatoes this year, besides sharing them, I am finding new and creative ways to use them in recipes. Today I had ham left over from last night’s dinner as well as many cherry tomatoes, so I found on the web a recipe for Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad with Ham. Served with some Texas toast it was delicious. “Look and you shall find, seek and you will find, ask and you will receive.”

4) The above principle of “ask and you will receive” is mostly forgotten by Churches. My church is struggling with a need for money and persons to stay open but fears asking for money and persons.

5) I know someone now who is so obsessed with an idea of doing something that he cannot see straight and is thus frustrated. I tried telling him the story of the “Acres of Diamonds”, the African farmer who sold his farm to search for diamonds only to find after he was poor and old that diamonds were on the farm he sold. But the person could not hear the story and understand it. In the East they say desire and attachment are the cause of suffering.

6) I have a friend who had a tough time today but at the end of the day all was well. She described her day as ‘interesting’ rather than as stressful or frustrating. She is clearly not suffering from inordinate attachments.

Observations are plentiful in everyday life if we can see and hear them. A small observation can lead to an “acre of diamonds.”


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Freedom March At Irish Fest - Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peace and Justice Liturgy
at Irish Fest

Six of us dressed in black sat in the bleachers in the back of the Marcus Amphitheater as a massive crowd of thousands celebrated a peace and justice liturgy at Irish Fest this Sunday. We were dressed in black for the Freedom March of Breaking the Silence that we had planned for after the Liturgy when persons were leaving the liturgy. However, it turns out that black is the second favorite color of the Irish, after green.

The liturgy was simple and beautiful. We left the liturgy early so as to be ready for the crowds walking down the ramp of the Amphitheater. As the thousands started to exit the liturgy we unfolded two large signs. One read “Break The Silence” and the other read “No More War Spending.” We had some of our flyers ready to pass out saying that “We will March this summer at Public Events to bury the greed that breeds violence, war, oil spills and economic disasters.”

From past experiences at festivals we expected to be stopped right away by security and asked to leave, but we were not. After marching around in circles, the persons holding the signs just stopped and held the signs up while a couple of us passed out the flyers.

The people leaving the liturgy were surprisingly supportive and many of them came up to us to thank us for breaking the silence and speaking out by our actions. After a while I was called over by someone holding a banner and asked to speak to one of the security guards. I offered him a copy of our flyer and was willing to explain to him why we were there. He would have none of it and was not interested in the flyer or our purpose. In strong words he ordered us out immediately. Knowing that he could not arrest us without calling the police, I asked him to call the police on us. We had planned to leave when the police ordered us to do so. This security guard was angry and got on his walkie talkie. He was not calling the police, however, but other security guards. When they arrived they physically moved me away from the others. I could hear them saying on the walkie talkie that they had seized the leader and taken him to a particular gate. I did not resist but they felt the need to intimidate me by word and physically by twisting my arm as I was walking. As the crowd around us was staring at us I kept calling out for someone to call the police. My training in nonviolent resistance had prepared me for an order to cease or be arrested, but not for rogue security guards. When we made it to the gate a leader of security arrived. He said he would talk to me if I stepped through the turnstile out of the grounds. I knew he was tricking me but I left anyway since I had planned to leave.

Once out of the gate I called one of the other persons in the group and discovered he and another person were nearby. As they were coming over to join me a woman called me by name and asked if I remembered her. I did not recognize her at first, but when she said her name I immediately did. She was one of the teenage students in the alternative accredited high school we had established in the early 70s on the South side of Milwaukee. Now, forty years later, she is a teacher at the local technical college. An elderly man came up to me to ask me how I was doing. He had witnessed the security guards roughing me up and was concerned.


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Nature Knows No Volunteers - Saturday, August 21, 2010

I was picking green beans along my chicken wire trellis today when right in the middle and top of it there was this large cucumber hanging down. There were no other cucumbers on any of the vines. I do grow cucumbers in the boxes of my vertical growers but do not remember putting any cucumber seeds along the ground of the long trellis. But maybe I did or maybe just like the pokeweed in the rain garden it was what is called a volunteer, a plant that grows on its own and is not planted by humans.

A good friend from Chicago called today. He is struggling to survive in a big expensive city on part time jobs. He is really a good person and helps out in his community. Today he told me he is volunteering at non-profit agency where he really enjoys the work. He is hoping that this volunteer work will take root and he will be hired by the agency.

When I was the Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister at churches a good part of my job was recruiting and maintaining adult volunteers for the programs. I was blessed with a lot of volunteers. However, I did not like to call them volunteers but youth ministers or religious education teachers since their job, like mine but without pay, was to minister to the youth. Ministering to others I believe is an obligation of our baptism into the church, something we need to do. The word volunteer to me suggested something over and above what is expected of a person.

Now that I am retired from active employment some would call things like my driving ministry or visits to persons in need as a member of St. Vincent De Paul Society volunteer work. I just consider it my work.

A seed blowing in the wind, the weed that falls on fertile ground and becomes a plant can be called a volunteer plant or weed. I prefer to simply call it a plant or weed. Nature knows no volunteers.


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The Cost of Driving - Friday, August 20, 2010

My busy driving ministry this spring and summer, to people in need, has been a blessing but it does have its cost. Because of all the driving time I have been unable to work with my friends this year on the DMZ community garden. I saw my friend Marna this morning at a prayer vigil for a homicide victim and she said the garden is doing extremely well this year, the first year I have not participated. However, driving time barely leaves enough time for my own garden.

As I drive around the city and county this summer I have been struck by all the road construction that is going on. Almost everywhere I go there are new and improved roads being built. I hear in the news and by politicians talk about being energy reliant and not being so dependent on oil. However, more roads means more cars and, for now, means more oil. Certainly they are not using self-reliance as talked about by Gandhi or as I know it.

On one of my driving experiences recently I heard a NPR radio report about the extremely high cost of extracting oil in Canada, the main country that supplies the U.S. with oil. It takes enough natural gas to power a natural gas powered car 170 miles to produce one gallon of oil that will power a car for about only 30 miles. Does this make sense?

Naturally there is also all the cost and damage to the environment that is created by use of oil for cars and energy.

The U.S. military is among the biggest users of oil. The cost of a gallon of gas to air


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Weed And Seed - Thursday, August 19, 2010

Last Hour of Polk Plant

The deed is done. The toxic pokeweed plant has been removed from the rain garden. While I was at it I also removed a bunch of other weeds from the rain garden and the vegetable garden in front of the house. By using mulch I do not need to weed much but when I let it go, as I did the last few weeks, there is much to weed. I will need to get more mulch, wood chips from the city dump, for the bare spots and maybe some perennial plants and seeds for the rain garden empty spots, like mums for the fall.

“Weed and Seed” is the name of community based U.S Department of Justice program that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in neighborhoods. I also like the name of the program and heard about a lot of weeding of criminal element that was done from neighborhoods but did not hear much about the seeding. If one weeds but does not seed the weeds will just come back again.

It also reminds me of the war in Afghanistan. We seem to be good at weeding out the ‘enemy’ in certain areas but without planting seeds that grow and develop the territory goes back to the insurgents. The history of Afghanistan from the USA viewpoint seems to be a great weed and seed program that failed. We help the Afghans defeat the Russians but without planting any seeds of development the very Afghans we helped create our new enemy.

Sadly the same accusation of weeding but not seeding can be said of much of the US’s relationships with troubled countries. We are the world’s major exporters of weapons to weed, but do not live up to our obligation to seed. Weeding without seeding is not weed and seed.


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Can We Ignore Poison? - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pokeweed berries

A beautiful plant, we did not plant, has grown in our rain garden. It is now in full bloom. My wife did some research of what it is and discovered it is pokeweed, a toxic plant for mammals in all parts. Although it has some medical benefits, because of its poisonous nature it must be cut down and uprooted. It is an invasive plant and for the common good should be destroyed immediately. I did not want to hear this about this good looking plant but need to accept the facts and destroy it.

This research and my reluctance to hear it reminds me of other research that I did that people did not want to hear. When I wrote the essay on The Militarization of Catholic Jesuit University Education, despite my footnotes there was not much interest by Jesuits and Catholic educators. And just the other day I sent out research on the War Spending Records of Congresspersons Gwen Moore and James Sensenbrenner Jr. I have not added my research references or my opinions yet but have found so far little interest by the peace community in the facts of the records of our local congressperson’s voting record on war spending since January 2009. My guess from these experiences is that, just like I did not want to hear about the pokeweed plant, many persons are not interested in facts of politics. Perception of reality, as in advertising, rather than reality, seems more interesting.

I feel compelled for the common good to destroy the pokeweed plant in our rain garden. After all it is poison we are talking about. I feel compelled for the common good to expose the madness of military spending that is consuming our money and minds and destroying the soul of our nation. The militarization of our society is poisoning all of us. Can we ignore it?


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Free To Be Free - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last Sunday in this post I asked for recipes for cherry tomatoes, something that is plentiful in my front yard garden. Monday I went to give a free ride to a friend and she handed me a simple but excellent recipe for cherry tomatoes. I asked her how she knew I was looking for cheery tomatoes recipes and she responded that she had read my post of the night before.

Today I gave a free ride to another friend who has been suffering from severe pain for over four years. Despite four operations, numerous doctors and treatments, the pain has gotten worse. She has been diagnosed as having severe debilitating fibromyalgia, a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain, but, so far, has found no relief from this overwhelming pain. I can only offer her rides to doctors and watch her in pain. Today I offered her some tomatoes and she smiled.

A friend of my wife, who has just moved nearby, was riding her bike to the store while I was picking cherry tomatoes out front in the garden. She stopped, we talked and I offered her some free cherry tomatoes. On the way back home from the store she stopped to get her free tomatoes.

My friend Ella, the patch quilt maker, called about some favor my wife is doing for her. She asked about the garden and I said I had some free cherry tomatoes which she welcomed. I will deliver them to her house since she is another friend without a car.

The Republican candidates for governor say how they will turn down the money from the Federal government to build a rapid train from Milwaukee to Madison. Although the money is not exactly free, it has already been awarded to the train project. They say they would rather have the money put into more highways and roads. They do want the free mass transportation.

When you think about it there are lots of wonderful things that are ‘free’ in the world. We only need to be free enough to take advantage of them.


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Quotes Can Inspire - Monday, August 16, 2010

While I was gone fishing last week a number of good quotes came my way via email or by reading. Tonight I would like to share some of them with you before I put them on the Jokes and Quotes web page.

This one struck me as being important for all those who say they cannot make the Freedom March of Breaking the Silence due to a variety of reasons.

“When we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school, be there. Be concerned about your brother (and sister). You may not be on strike, but either we go together or we go down together. Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.” — Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968 (his last speech before he was assassinated.)

I cannot ever get too many quotes on “Loving your enemies”.

“The Lord has shown that we cannot have the good work of perfect love if we only love those from whom in turn we know the return of mutual love will be paid in kind. Hence the Lord wishes us to overcome the common law of human love by the law of Gospel love, so that we may show the affection of our love not only toward those who love us but even toward our enemies…” — St Chromatios of Aquileia [+406/407].

In a time of rapid change it is good to know that we can move faster to perfection.

“To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.” — John Henry Newman who died on the 11th of August 120 years ago

Quotes can inspire.


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Small Is Beautiful - Sunday, August 15, 2010

On the feast day of Mary, the Mother of God, as I resume the Diary of the Worm, it seems only right to write about my observations from the last week of how small is beautiful and often more plentiful.

Worms are small and wiggling but can be used to catch big fish. Unfortunately my grandsons and I only caught small fish last week with our worms.

Three times last week I picked a large bowl of cherry tomatoes in the front garden and yet there is more to be picked. My wife made a delicious cold salsa today, and what I made for breakfast, lunch and dinner included tomatoes. Does anyone have recipes for these small but plentiful tomatoes?

I planted cherry tomatoes, heirloom and regular sized tomatoes around the five trellises in the front yard garden. I did plant lots of plants around each one but figured some of each would grow. However, the cherry tomatoes have taken over the trellises and a few heirlooms plants are growing. Where the regular sized ones are I do not know. It seems like small dominates in the tomato world.

My young grandchildren are a real blessing and the smallest one has the best imagination of all three.

Right before I went up north, Dawn of the DMZ Garden called to say the fire department had removed the spigot from the fire hydrant that was being used to water the garden. The city is talking about blocking water from community gardens unless the water is metered and paid for but not until 2011 or beyond. Right before I left I sent a short email to a leader in the urban garden movement who had asked my opinion of the city move. I told him that the water had been shut off from the DMZ garden. He wrote back angry at the city who had promised not to make a move till next year. Dawn called me last week up north to tell me that the water spigot had been replaced, water turned on and she had a city permit for the year 2010 to use the water. Even small emails can produce bountiful results in the garden.

I have been trying for years to train myself to see the beauty of the present moment, no matter how dark or foggy it may be. I am a slow learner but when I see others worrying about the future but missing the beauty of the present I am quick to notice. I can see the small speck in others but am often blind to my own major faults.

On the one clear night at the cottage up north I missed seeing the display of falling starts. My neighbors told me the many falling stars, small in the sky, were quite a sight to behold.

Many say small is beautiful. I know now that a small grandchild, cherry tomato, falling star, amount of water from a hydrant, or a worm is beautiful.


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Syrian Bread For The Good Life - Friday, August 06, 2010

‘syrian bread’

Today is the anniversary of the first atomic bomb used in war by the USA on the town of Hiroshma. As a young adult I remember hearing Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J. one of the first medical persons on the scene, described the horror of this inhumane killing of 90,000–166,000 civilians with this one weapon. The scene he described in his talk and his autobiography are engraved in my mind as the ultimate act of terrorism.

There was a retirement party for my brother in Iowa City tonight. We could not make it but I sent my other brother, who was visiting here for a few days, to the party with a package of homemade Syrian bread (pita bread) and the message that I would send some advice on how life, especially, retirement, is like Syrian bread.

Our grandfather was from what once was Syria and now is called Lebanon. However, looking up Syrian bread on the wiki dictionary tonight I found out the Lebanese called this type of flat pita bread ‘syrian bread’, with a small s. There is always more to learn about your cultural heritage.

Since my working wife has off next week we are going to take a few days off to go fishing, playing with the grandchildren and just hang out. I will not be posting but will have my cell phone and computer nearby wherever I am. I am trying to integrate my life and this will be a real test, to have technology available here at home and on the road.

However, I have my ‘syrian bread’ here at home and will take it with me on the road. For those in the Milwaukee market you can find fresh homemade Syrian bread and other delicious items at Attari’s Supermarket, 3042 S. 13th St. Milwaukee, WI. So with a good book, my fishing rod, Syrian bread, family and technology I can really live the good life.

(These postings will resume August 15th. In the meanwhile check out the quotes, past Diary of the Worm observations and other good stuff on


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Flowering Unceasingly - Thursday, August 05, 2010

Flowering Rain Garden Today

In the 19th century book Way of a Pilgrim the anonymous Russian author sets out on a pilgrimage to find out how to “pray unceasingly” as St. Paul exhorts the early Christians to do in one of his letters. The pilgrim eventually discovers the Jesus Prayer, a brief repetitious prayer that becomes a prayer of the heart. Sometimes it is called the “Unceasing Prayer”, allowing one to pray with the heart with each breathe at all times. Many religions have some form of ritualistic repetitive prayers like the Catholics with the rosary. Also forms of meditation, like Transcendental Meditation use a word or phrase to focus one’s attention to reach a deep silence of mind and body.

Picking flowers from my rain garden in the front lawn today I realized that the rain garden flowers unceasingly, from early spring with the tulips to late fall with the mums. Actually all the plants in the rain garden are perennials so they never die completely; they just do not flower in the cold months in Wisconsin.

Flowering Rain Garden Today

When I was a young adult I was fascinated by the “Jesus Prayer”, which I first heard about in a Salinger novel Fanny and Zoey. I tried practicing it for awhile and it worked. Unfortunately I was not disciplined enough to keep it going, but once in awhile when things get stressful I will reach for my prayer beads and say the Jesus Prayer.

I have been thinking recently about how to be kind and gentle to persons I disagree with, especially if they are persons who claim to share the same values and beliefs. To struggle for one’s vision of truth, even to the point of sacrifice but without fighting is difficult.

The observation about the rain garden’s unceasing flowering gives me a hint of how to accomplish this way of being, struggling for truth but not fighting. If our life can be like plants in the rain garden, unceasingly flowering, in sunny days and dark rainy days, it will make life more bright and the struggle and sacrifice easier. Like the Jesus prayer we need to repeat this exercise of “unceasing flowering” so it becomes a way of our heart.


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Nine Grafs, Cousin William and the Dog - Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Graf Kids, mom and
cousin William

Tonight there are nine Grafs in the house, plus cousin William and a dog. There are the three of us who live here, my other son and his family of five, my brother visiting from Denver, my grandchildren’s cousin and best friend William, and my grandchildren’s dog. Tomorrow all leave except the dog and me. Babysitting a country dog in the city is not easy. This dog knows not a leash. My son and his family will stop by at night to take the dog back with them.

Taking time for family is good and right. However, today, traveling around with my brother, I realized how much the friends I drive to appointments are like family. I also feel close to some of the people that I email even though I might not see them often. I even felt close to an elderly woman in Afghanistan, Ann Jones, whose article “Here Be Dragons” I put on the Feature Article page today. Recently I have felt close to people I disagree with, or who ignore me and my messages.

All this Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus and Dorothy Day stuff about us all being brothers and sisters must be starting to get to me. Thank you Graf family, nine Grafs, William and the dog.


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Grow, Pick and Eat Together - Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Grow, Pick and Eat Together

In these posts I have talked about companion planting, planting plants near each other that help each other grow. Native Americans successfully planted corn, squash and beans together. In India at the Navdany farm we saw up 3 −17 plants together in one plot.

In my front yard I have planted tomatoes and basil together. Both plants need a lot of sun and water which this raised garden gets. Today I went out again to pick the bountiful basil and cherry tomatoes in this garden.

These companion plants and picking partners also make for good eating together. Fresh tomatoes and basil topped with some olive oil and salt are delicious.

Basil and tomatoes grow together and are complimentary in eating. They have a lot in common but are very diverse in other ways. Basil when it is picked grows back, again and again. Tomatoes do not. I found out that when you thickly plant a variety of tomatoes plants around a trellis the cherry tomatoes, the smallest ones, will dominate the early growing. Next year I will plant cherry tomatoes around one or two trellises , pear tomatoes for sauce around another trellis or two and regular tomatoes around one or two trellises.

A third plant in the front that thrives growing with tomatoes and basil is eggplant. The basil and tomatoes were in the salad at dinner tonight and the eggplant was in the Middle Eastern main dish and Baba ganoush, an Arab dish of eggplant (aubergine) mashed and mixed with various seasonings. Now the front yard has three companion plants to grow, pick and eat together.


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We Are At War! - Monday, August 02, 2010

War Leaders

(Two recent observations led to this article.)

We are at war, and if we are to survive we must become soldiers of peace.

The recent media blitz of fear, represented by the TIME magazine cover story and picture of a woman mutilated by the Taliban and the 60 minutes piece last night about the CIA officer who directed the “secret war” to defeat the Taliban government after 9/11, reminds me of a quote that made the rounds before our two present wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” — Hermann Goering (1893–1946), Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia and, as Hitler’s designated successor, the second man in the Third Reich.

The new Communist, Saddam, Al-Qaeda, is the Taliban.


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Rest In Peace - Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunset for friends, Phil and Jim

I heard today about the peaceful death of two friends from the 60’s, both whose friendship I have renewed in recent years. I heard about the long expected death of one friend, Jim, today at Church. A member of our Tuesday faith sharing group told me that our friend had died last Thursday. This friend had been a prison chaplain in the 60’s at Fox Lake Correctional Institution where some of my fellow Milwaukee 14 members were imprisoned. I heard about him, that he had left the active priesthood and was married, but did not get to know him till about 6 years ago when my Milwaukee 14 friends, who knew him from prison, came to visit. Since then we have been in contact and when our common friend, Lorenzo Rosebaugh, a member of the Milwaukee 14 that was at Fox Lake prison, was killed in Guatemala we worked together on a memorial service for Lorenzo here in Milwaukee.

Jim had been ill for a very long time from cancer and when he went into hospice care at home he asked me to join a faith sharing group at his home every Tuesday morning. I did and it was quite a rewarding experience meeting new and old friends and sharing our daily struggles and joys. Although Jim was dying, he was clear minded and totally prepared for death. His gratitude for life and spiritual insights seem to grow as he was approaching death.

The other news of a friend, Phil, from the sixties who had died came by way of the internet tonight. We were both in the Jesuit seminary together in the early 60’s. I was preparing for the priesthood and he was preparing to be a brother and nurse. We both left the Jesuits in the late 60’s and went our separate ways. About 6 or so years ago we got back in contact. Phil, after retiring as a nurse and struggling with many illnesses had developed what I would call an internet “joke ministry.” People would send him jokes by email and he would send them on to the rest of his friends. Since I have two other friends with the same “joke ministry” I would exchange jokes from one with the other two.

Phil was from Wisconsin and in recent years made frequent visits back here, traveling from northern California by train. We would get together yearly, and he would share many funny stories. He had stayed with us for a few days last fall. My wife and I talked about going to visit him in the Redwood forest of northern California but never did.

Not receiving any jokes from him for awhile I knew he was not feeling good. When I sent him a joke tonight it came back with an automatic response from his brother saying Phil had died in his sleep recently at his home. After I responded to his brother, he sent me an note and obituary.

Both my friends were characters but quite different. However, they both had a good sense of humor and were connected to me by our common Catholic faith. I feel blessed to have known them, especially in a more personal way the last six years. Now they both Rest In Peace.


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