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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.

Columbine Lives - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pround 2011 Graduate
of Columbine High School

Last weekend I had the privileg of attending my nephew’s graduation in Littleton, Co. from Columbine High School. The weather was great, sunny and nice and the awards and graduation ceremony went well. As the class motto they chose this quote from Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those ho mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

My nephew was just a kid during the Columbine tragedy. Life was torn about in Littleton but life went on and now the memory of the death of students and teachers is faded as new memories take their place.

You can learn a lot about a school by attending its senior award program and its graduation. There were many speeches, slide shows, songs and awards but they all point to a healthy, ordinary, all American suburban high school. Perhaps this ordinary suburban school, made the massacre at Columbine in 1999 so extraordinary.

My nephew’s class of 2011 was the recipient of many awards and compliments. Perhaps the greatest one was they broke the tradition of trashing the school on the last day and just marched out triumphal. What they did not do, trash the school, seemed as important as what they did.

I look back at this weekend with family and friends celebrating as, like the weather, sunny and bright. However, some dark tragedy lurks in the shadows, a horrible violence that must be faced or it will rise up again. I wish all the Columbine graduates enjoy a life like Graduation day, full of beauty, bright and cheerful. But I know that if they are true to who they are there will be tragedies in life. Hopefully how they face them will be like the high school did: rise from the ruins and shine in the sun. May the spirit of the Columbine class of 2011 live on in all our lives.


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Under The Sun - Thursday, May 26, 2011

There is a time for everything under the sun: a time to write these daily postings and a time to not write them. For the next few days, until Tuesday, I am taking time off from the Diary of Worm to attend a graduation, to visit with family and hopefully be outside in the sun. The last few days have been very cold for spring, rainy and dark.

If you need some fresh quotes check out the collection on conscience I am building and sorting. If, in this time of Too Much Information {TMI), you need some simple observations of daily life check out the archives of these postings. A few times I got it right and was able to see deeply into a simple observation.

The Diary of the Worm will return Tuesday, May 31st, hopefully refreshed and relaxed under the sun.


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Under The Sun - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

(:redirect [[DiaryOfAWorm.20110526-UnderTheSun]]:)


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“Blessed are the Rejected” - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

unwanted by Peter Graf

Today an executive director of a social service agency returned my call and said she could not answer my question without a meeting with the whole group. The only problem was that I had not asked her any question, just left a message to give me a call. Last week I also called and left a message to give me a call. She called back when I could not answer the phone and left a message giving me an answer to a question, though I had not asked her any question.

Today, May 25th, would have been the 39th birthday of my son Peter if he would have not died last summer. Over the many years of his illness my son he had to deal with many social agencies. From him and other poor and ill friends I learned how frustrating it can be to deal with agencies. They sometimes treat the ill and poor as ‘clients’ or ‘consumers’ not as equal human beings.

Today the executive director, after I got out my question out, despite her refusal to listen, asked who I was to be asking her this question. I starting to answer her but then thought and latter wrote in an email to her, that it was not important who I am and with what authority I was asking the question. It was my message in the form of a question that was important. Poor and ill people are often marginalized like I was today because they are not ‘important’ persons.

I remember once when I was trying to help a friend get help from city hall. I was able to get through to the Mayor and with his intervention the city officials gave her issue some attention. But they did ask her who this guy Bob Graf is? She should have got the attention without my intervention but never would have because she was not an ‘important’ person.

For the many years of my son’s illness I was his advocate, even when at times he did not like it. But at the end, before he died, he thanked me for my efforts and said I was his ‘best friend.’

A reporter friend of mine is working on a story of why people still die of mental illnesses or what I now call brain diseases. My friend has really made me think of why, when we can send a person into space and made great strides in research in AIDS and cancer, we cannot deal with mental illness without stigma or rejection.

I was angry and frustrated, which did no good but harm, at the executive director who would not even listen to my question. But maybe this rejection and marginalization of persons who we consider not worthy of our time and effort is part of the answer why people still die of mental illnesses.

Learning to be rejected and marginalized without getting angry and frustrated or giving up trying to “do my best”, as Peter would often say, is hard. But we must remember the words of Jesus, freely translated, “Blessed are the rejected and marginalized for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


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End of the World - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Earth by Peter Graf

Like a spring planting, resistance to militarism and war in the USA is growing. According to Bill Quigley, a professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans and Associate Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Right, since President Obama was inaugurated, there have been over two thousand six hundred arrests of activists protesting in the US. The numbers are increasing each year. “Those arrested include people protesting US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo, strip mining, home foreclosures, nuclear weapons, immigration policies, police brutality, mistreatment of hotel workers, budget cutbacks, Blackwater, the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and right wing efforts to cut back collective bargaining.” Perhaps Americans are waking up and realizing that voting by nonviolent action and civil disobedience is needed for change. Obama talked ‘change’ but those risking arrest are making change.

My major fear is that the good causes to seek change grow each day and perhaps can dilute a mass movement for a specific change, like ending the war in Afghanistan. Just today friends by phone or email told me about a number of activities from a local protest of the proposed “concealed gun and carry” to a petition and phone call drive to congress to stop a bill that includes a new law for unchecked executive war authority.

There has been a record number of tornados this year and sadly there is still many more to come. There are more and more man-made violence, wars, killing, drone attacks, and, disasters. There are more causes to protest and more resistance by more people to the growing wars and injustices. Where will all this end. Perhaps T.S. Elliot got it right in the poem below “The Hollow Men” when he says the world will end “Not with a bang but a whimper.”


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Sports TV at Night - Monday, May 23, 2011

Watch TV by Peter Graf

I must confess I am caught up in watching sports events on T.V. at night. It used to be that the only games I watched were Sunday afternoon Green Bay Packer football games. Now with the availability of so many sports events available on TV I find myself watcher Milwaukee Brewers games and some basketball games, like the NBA playoffs now on T.V. The fact that I feel the need to confess means I must feel guilty for watching sports on TV. I, with my Catholic guilt, do.

One of the appeals of watching basketball and baseball on TV is that it is not all absorbing. I can read a magazine, newspaper or check my email with the game in the background. It is like doing homework to some hard rock music: teens can do it but I cannot. But with sports on TV I can.

Now I must admit that the reading or working on the computer goes slower when a game is on the TV. There are moments when you need to raise your eyes toward the TV to see what is happening.

Another reason or justification for watching sports on TV is that it is passive and relaxing. For a person noted for over enthusiasm it is okay to dial down at night.

However, I must admit that watching sports on TV, even in the background, is not on the same level and is nowhere near as refreshing and renewing of spirit as gardening or reading a book.

When a terrible tornado ruins Joplin, Missouri and kills, when a good person at a Catholic social service meeting makes a derogatory remark on poor people, I know this is much to do about nothing. But I must confess TV sports watching for me are a thing of the night, if that matters.


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A Woman Called Truth - Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sojourner Truth c1870

The question has come up recently “what is truth’? In the Gospel read today in ChurchJesus answers this question by saying: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light.”

Today my wife and I attended a play called “A Woman Called Truth”. It was the story of Sojourner Truth, the self-given name, from 1843 onward, of Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She spoke a message of ‘justice’ doing the right thing, in a time of slavery and lack of women’s rights.

Tonight on news I heard the Mayor of Milwaukee speaking in a church on stopping violence saying it is not enough to say “stop violence” to youth but we must given them positive ways to use their time. Immediately my mind went to our losing effort to ResurrectTheRims, to keep full court basketball playing at the county park in the neighborhood.

My mind also wandered to our efforts to keep our St. Vincent De Paul conference located on the north side of Milwaukee, in the area we serve. Some say we can continue to serve the area while not being located in it. Yes. I say, that may be true, but presence is so much a part of justice and service.

The woman called ‘Truth’ suffered greatly in her struggle for the rights of African Americans and women. In her day she suffered insults, injuries, loss of parents and children yet she persisted in her struggle for truth. Her faith in Jesus kept her going during all her trials.

After seeing the play I must count my blessings. My faith doing justice, the right thing, has come cheap. Sojourner Truth’s struggle for the way, the truth and the light cost her dearly.


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Gardens are 0pposite of Emails - Saturday, May 21, 2011

Garden of beauty in
Southern California

Writing on the web like this posting is easy but trying to communicate personally by email is difficult. Personal communication depends on voice and/or site which are not possible in email. Without voice or sight words are frozen in place and are susceptible to interpretation. When possible I try to do personal communication by phone or in person where dialog is possible. But I notice a few people prefer the frozen words of emails than personal communication of phone or in person.

This brings me to yet another reason to have a home growing power model garden. When life gets to abstract, too much in the head, frozen in words that do not say what you want to say, it is time to get down and dirty in the garden. In gardening not only can you hear and see but you can feel your communication with the earth. Flowers shine with beauty and are not up for interpretation. Plants bear food that can be taken into body, mind and soul.

This morning in a farmers market I met the person a friend had told me about in an email. He had said she was into urban gardening and turning garbage into gardens. In purchasing some coir and worms from her I felt I learned more about her than any email can say. She has a face and voice now in my mind. She had heard about me but now I am a face and voice with her.

In personal emails things can be confusing. In a garden atmosphere, be it at a farmers market, everything is grounded and clear. Gardens are grounded and emails are abstract. Emails are the opposite of gardens.


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Pinning - Friday, May 20, 2011

Abby, in green dress with ‘family’

Tonight Pat and I attended a ‘pinning’ service for our African niece, Abby. This is a ritual when one becomes officially a nurse. The MC was going to tell us the history of the ‘pinning’ ceremony but didn’t. But the ritual spoke for itself as each new nurse received an official nurse’s pin and was pinned by a family member, mother, wife, husband, or sister.

My niece came to the USA with her mother and another teenage girl a number of years ago during the terrible civil war in Sierra Leone. The civil war in Sierra Leone was all about diamonds. Outside interest supporting both sides fought each other viciously until the diamonds were gone, many were killed or maimed and the country was thrown into extreme poverty and repair.

Right from the beginning the two girls, thier family and friends, started to call my wife and I “Auntie” and “Uncle”. In many African countries young people call adults ‘auntie and ‘uncle’ as sign of respect. It also comes from the deep believe developed in village life that we are all connected as one family. We accepted the titles and now are regularly call this way by persons from Africa and their children.

Another African custom we enjoy is that whenever there is a special event, birthday, wedding, graduation is a time for a major party. The event always starts much latter than schedule but continues well into the night. Everyone brings food and everyone leaves with food. There is lots of dancing and rejoicing.

It took Abby many years after high school to graduate as a nurse. She switched schools a few times, got married, had a child, and worked in various hospitals. However, tonight she made it as nurse and was officially pinned by her mother with her son looking on. Friends and family from the African community in Milwaukee attended the pinning. The celebration party will be in a few weeks.

The ‘pinning’ was an American tradition of unknown origin, but for us it was celebrated African style.


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Investigations Ignored - Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Orleans man-made diaster

Last night on the Tavis Smiley show the interviewee was Harry Shearer, actor, author, director, satirist, musician, radio host, playwright, multi-media artist and record label owner. He was on the show to talk about his Hurricane Katrina documentary, The Big Uneasy. The movie documents how the damage to New Orleans after Katrina was a “catastrophic man-made disaster” not a natural disaster as President Obama and others have called it. Two independent investigators found the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to do the job they were commission to do four and half decades, 45 years, ago. Yet the president and others continue to call it a ‘natural disaster.’

But what was really frightening about the interview was the information that there is a letter on President’s desk and before congress the last three years that states the new 15 billion dollar system to protect New Orleans that is to dedicated June 1st will not work due to failed hydraulic pumps. The whistle blower was the person in charge of the pumps. “She said they never passed their testing, even when the testing standards were reduced over and over again. They were installed anyway, and she has said repeatedly they will not work in a hurricane situation. Her allegations were investigated by an independent engineer working for another branch of the federal government who said, ‘She’s right,’ and a letter to that effect has been on the desk of the appropriate Congress committees and the president of the United States since June of 2009, with no action taken.”

For awhile I thought if I could clearly present the facts that what the military teaches on the Marquette University campus is contrary to Catholic values and teaching I would be successful. I discovered that facts do not matter and can be ignored. Sadly it might take another “catastrophic man-made disaster” like Katrina before we wake up and stop ignoring the facts.

Investigations ignored leads to more man-made tragedies. When will we ever learn?


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Too Much Information - Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We live in the ‘information age’ but ‘Too Much Information’ (TMI) can be a distraction. With the media and Internet we are overwhelmed with information. Some people are getting good at multi-tasking, like writing something while watching TV, which I am doing now with the ballgame on the TV in the background.

With so much information available as well as misinformation it is difficult to focus on the present and to make moral decisions and take actions. There is always more information and opinions to consider. A friend suggested that I not use the Gandhian phrase “my opinion of truth” when talking about things like the morality of teaching war at a Jesuit Catholic University. The word ‘truth’ seems to be the problem. Expressing your beliefs as opinions is okay it seems, but saying ‘opinion of the truth’ is upsetting. My friend suggest, at Marquette, taking some kind of survey of student attitudes about the military on campus.

With all the talking, meetings, and information we do on any issue there is no time to form an ‘opinion of the truth’ and act on it according to our conscience. Although one may say it is an opinion and be open to change, by using the word ‘truth’ it is perceived as arrogant or righteous.

In the 60’s when so much information and media was not available to us we were quicker to make judgment on issues like the war in Vietnam and take action. As the war went out there was more and more action. However, in the Iraq war, based on misinformation and deception, actions against the war peaked before it started and then slowly faded away. Now the war continues and is hardly talked about. Even Iraq veterans who return condemning the war are ignored. (See video dedicated to Iraqi Veterans Against the War.)

My opinion is the ‘powers to be’ use too much information to keep us distracted and away from forming opinions of the truth and working together to act on them.


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The Good Life - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two Victims of War

In our faith sharing this morning we were asked if we had a good life so far. Everyone answered yes but there was many ‘buts’ and qualifications. After the gathering, for some reasons I recalled my posting of April 28th where Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called for a full investigation of the deception that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that led to the Iraq war and what he called the “pulverizing of nearly a million human lives”.

I guess what you call a ‘good life’ depends where you live and what is happening in your country.

Veterans of wars, who really know the ‘hell’ of war, are usually the most fervent opponents of war. We called soldiers “brave and courageous” but do we listen to them. A friend send me tonight a YouTube video from the Iraqi Veterans Against the War, IVAW. This is a growing group of Iraqi veterans who are telling us about the death and destruction this war based on ‘deception’ is causing. It is horrifying to watch this video and others about Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans like the Frontline video on the Wounded Platoon. If we respect veterans so much why don’t we listen to them?

Yes the ‘good life’ is relative to middle class adult like myself, to a central city youth or to a persons living in war torn country like Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are poor, a victim of discrimination or war there may no longer be a “good life”.


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Peace Is Blowing in the Wind - Monday, May 16, 2011

Many words like ‘love’ or ‘peace’ can be overused and loose some of their meaning. I used to close my emails with ‘peace’ but seldom do now. Everyone uses the word ‘peace’ even people who believe war and violence makes ‘peace.’

On a war protest a while back I noticed a big rainbow colored peace flag. I liked it and ordered one. Now it is on our flag pole in the front of the house. With all the winds we are getting these days I noticed that waving rainbow flag gets more noticed and puts more meaning back in the word on the flag ‘peace’.

Now when I see a major demonstration here or in the Middle East I look for this flag blowing in the wind and often find it.

The word ‘peace’ might have lost some of its meaning in talk or writing but when it is on a large rainbow flag blowing in the wind it takes on more strength. Where is peace? Peace is blowing in the wind.


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Where did All the Free Worms Go? - Sunday, May 15, 2011

I have written many a posting on the Diary of the Worm about worms and even a few by worms. I have even been called the ‘worm man’ by some due to my enthusiastic talking about worms. Since worms naturally multiply I have been able to give worms out to others to start a compost pile or to make castings. So when a friend asks for some worms to start a compost pile last week I surprisingly and regretfully had to say no.

Over the winters our worms stay warm outside in a worm depository, a hill full of compost and covered with leaves and wood chips to keep in the heat. I also keep some inside the sun room in the GP Box full of compost for worms to eat under the growing soil. There usually is plenty of worms in both places to put in the ‘worm condo’, wood box, in the spring for worms to make castings to give some away some worms.

This year the worms in both places were scarce. I am not exactly sure why, cold winter, late spring, lack of food in box and depository or maybe I just gave away too many worms last year.

I checked around for local sources for red wiggly worms. Growing Power, where my original worms came from, is now selling the same five gallon pale of worms and compost they gave me free for $25. A friend that I gave free worms to in the past now has an urban organic growing center and is selling worms for ten cents apiece or $10 for 100. I guess there are no more free worms in Milwaukee and now worms have become profitable for local urban growing centers.

My friend wanted to purchase worms locally not by the Internet but when I checked the cost of red wiggly worms out on the Internet they were much less expensive. So I advised my friend to check the web for worms. Where did all the free worms go?


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More Than Enough Time - Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rain, rain, go away and come back next spring. I was looking forward to getting a lot of work in on my gardens today but the cold, wet and windy said no. I did a few things indoor in the sun room and outside between rain showers. I did a little in the backyard garden with the mint and some work in the rain garden.

There never seems to be enough time each day to do what we planned to do but there is also enough time to do what we need to do. So “taking one day at a time” can be a source of frustration or inspiration. If we live in the present and do what we can do each day life is good. If we live in our expectation and try to do all we want to do each day we will be frustrated.

Life is like the circle of mint that comes back each spring. Mint can be an invasive herb as it spreads its roots underground and pops up here and there. So each year I clean out the herb area of the back yard garden and reset the rubber edging around the designated area. I put some fresh soil and castings around the plant. Now I just wait for the mint to grow, cut the plants and they grow back again and again. Like mint life need limits to flourish.

The woodland sun flowers in the rain garden are beautiful in late summer and the fall but are also invasive plants. Their roots are also connected underground. Now in the spring, while they are small, it is the time to limit their growth by digging up some in unwanted place and removing connecting roots. Like woodland sun flowers life’s roots need to be pruned for more focused growth.

Time in life is limited but accepting limits and staying focused in the present time there is more than enough time.


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Healing Tree - Friday, May 13, 2011

Peter’s Tree

A tree can be many things. A tree can give a bird refuge and rest. A tree can grow fruit. A tree can provide shade on a hot sunny day. Trees are necessary to clean the air. Trees are homes to animal and bugs.

The tree, we planted today, is a tree of remembrance for our deceased son, Peter. A friend gave us a gift at the time of Peter’s death that we used to buy the tree. We put the tree in the back of our rain garden which is now full of daffodils and tulips. We tried to purchase the same type of tree that was already in the back on the other side. This new one is smaller but in time will grow and be ever green all year around.

A tree like this, if it is a good environment will last for many years. In the hole for the tree we put some of home grown compost and soil. Water and sun should do the rest.

The death of my son still haunts me. I feel the shadow of death when I quiet down. But this tree as well as my small gardens around my house brings relief and healing. A tree can be many things. One is that a tree can provide healing.


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Daffidils and Tulips Cannot Wait - Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring was very late this year and I have been slow to get my gardens ready. But the daffodils and tulips could not wait and are in full bloom in the rain garden, along the sidewalk by the front garden and around the Mary statue in the backyard. They just automatically come with spring and disappear soon afterwards. But the yellow daffodils and red tulips make for a good show as long as they last. Some things in life, like these flowers, just come and go and their beauty is to be enjoyed for awhile and then again for awhile.

The new fence along the driveway gave me a chance to build another garden. This one will be plants in pots, herbs, greens, tomatoes and such, along the fence on a downhill slope. Today I finished pacing the covering along the fence and rocks around the planters. Now I need to fill the planters with compost, coir and castings plant the seeds, set up the watering system from a rain barrel and watch as the sun and water make the plants grow. Each year I decide to take on one new project and this is it. However, because of the late spring and start the other garden projects are taking a backseat for now. I will be able to bring in the sun room some of the planters for the winter but for the most part I will need to plant them each spring. Unlike the daffodils and tulips these plants will not automatically bloom next year.

There are more pictures of the daffodils and tulips below. I had to take time from my garden work today to enjoy them and share these perennial spring flowers with you. Daffodils and tulips cannot wait for me or you to have the time to enjoy them. The time is now.


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Senseless Killings - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today there was a Holy Ground prayer vigil for a homicide victim. He was a 25 year old male that was described as a loving father of his children. The circumstance of his death, like most of these cases, is not clear. These killings seem senseless.

His mother-in-law kept saying what would his children going to do without their loving father. A person, who I believe was his mother, broke down during the prayer service and had to be moved aside to be consoled. After the service both women, grandmas to the man’s children, expressed anger about this senseless killing. Afterwards I just sat on the steps and stared at the pole that had been decorated to celebrate this young man. The tree was full of life and remembrances yet marked the spot of his death.

Finally today I got time and weather to work in my gardens. Most of the work was around my new fence, planting grass on my neighbor’s side and preparing on my side the ground with liner and stones for planters that will grow all kinds of good green food. My side of the fence will not be as colorful as the tree at the side of the shooting but it will celebrate life not death.

At our Breaking the Silence gathering tonight we talked about some dramatic actions to make people aware of the American death machines, drones, unmanned planes that kill people, often innocent persons in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We talked about putting a face on this senseless killing by drones.

After the meeting I received an article from Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence about drones. It is called “The Predators: Where is Your Democracy?”. The title of the article is based on a question a journalist in Pakistan, after describing the horrific site of a drone attack, asked her “if average Americans know that their country is attacking Pakistan with drones that carry bombs. Truthfully,” she said, “I don’t think so.”

“Where is your democracy?” he asked me. “Where is your democracy?” Ideally, in a democracy, people are educated about important matters, and they can influence decisions about these issues by voting for people who represent their point of view.

Most Americans are not aware of the senseless killing, gun violence, that goes on each day in our central cities. Most Americans are not aware of the senseless killing, drone attacks that go on, in our name, in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

When will we feel these senseless killings, by gun or drone, and demand they stop.


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Like a Worm the Human Spirit will Overcome - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One human being stops tanks
in Tiananinam Square

I have a friend that gets very upset whenever I speak of China, calling it ‘communist’, which it is, or ‘totalitarian’ which it is. My friend admires the economic greatness China is achieving but, in my opinion, neglects the means by which it is doing it.

Every day there is news of repression in crackdowns of human rights in China. Just today on public radio I heard of a famous sculptor artist being taken by police in China and disappeared. Artist around the world are concerned since no one knows where he was taken and he has never been charged. Artist from around the world are trying to organize a one day shutdown of all museum to protest his disappearance.

Also today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a person I seldom agree with, spoke of the ‘deplorable’ human rights conditions in China and was quoted as saying about China’s concern about the democracy movement in the Arab World: “They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand, They cannot do it. But they’re going to hold it off as long as possible.”

Two other examples: Nobel Peace Prize Winner from China was in prison during award the ceremony for his leadership in the pro democracy movement; China is the only country that will not allow the Pope of the Catholic Church to appoint Bishops. They have started their own Catholic Church and the government appoints the Bishops.

Yes China like India is making great progress in economic growth. However, the Dali Lama, leader of Tibet, lives in India and cannot live in his own country which has been taken over by China. China holds him in contempt while the rest of the world, including India, claims him a great man of peace.

Sorry dear friend the US Empire based on militarism and greedy capitalism will fall. China based on government control, even how many children a couple may have, may rise to replace it. But it too will fall. As we now see around the world, the human spirit, in the end, striving for rights and freedom will eventually overcome greedy capitalism or ‘totalitarian’ communism.

Like a worm the human spirit is adaptable and will outlive the powerful dinosaurs of capitalism and communism.


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‘Justice Served’? - Monday, May 09, 2011

Lady Justice

When someone suspected of a crime is caught and/or punished and even killed politicians and people are calling it ‘justice served’. From a law enforcement official talking about a prison sentence for a convicted criminal to the President of the USA talking about the killing of a terrorist the words ‘justice served’ are used frequently.

This idea of justice as revenge, punishment, retribution is a new one for me. In the past I have understood legal justice meaning the scales of Lady Justice were balanced when someone was punished proportionally for a crime. My understanding of social justice was struggling for equal rights and human dignity for all. My understanding of Gospel justice was the idea of restoring and reconciling the victim and criminal and showing mercy, compassion and understanding.

Justice is fairness not revenge. Justice is correcting wrongs and making rights not retribution. Justice is rehabilitation not punishment for the offender. Justice is protecting persons not killing persons. My Catholic faith teaches me that ‘capital punishment’ is not justified when society can be protected from offenders without killing the offender.

But all this is changing when politicians, media persons and ordinary individuals say justice is served when someone suffers punishment, pain and even death. Lady Justice might be blind but she can see that ‘justice served’ has nothing to do with justice.


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Powerless People Power - Sunday, May 08, 2011

Last night there was no posting on the Diary of the Worm because I got home late from my daughter-in-laws birthday party up north. Besides being late we were stuffed with food, making it even harder to write. They say too rich a soil can hinder growth and too much eating can hinder writing.

Standing around a campfire last night with a group of younger adults, between 35 and 45 years, at my son’s place, I began to experience the generation gap between them and persons like myself in the generation of their parents. But when the children were present, like my six year old granddaughter and her six year old cousin, there was no generation gap.

This observation fits in well with theory and observation I made some years ago: I get along with children, elderly persons, poor and sick persons. It is the rest of the people, normal adults, that I have a problem with.

Now I am improving relationships with the majority of normal persons. This is good since most people with power in our society are with this group. On the other hand the children, sick, elderly and poor, the powerless have power


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To Fence or Not To Fence - Friday, May 06, 2011

Joe and the Fence

There is a famous line from Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall”: “Good fences make good neighbors.” If this is true I will be a good neighbor thanks to my friend Joe and his co-worker. My fence along my driveway was raggedy and fell down in a wind storm last fall. My neighbors on the other side of the fence are adults without children and privacy for both of us is good.

My neighbor on the other side is fenced off on my side but on the other side it is wide open with no fence between him and the other house. This is also good because their son can easily play with the children next door to him and the families have formed a good relationship.

So having a fence between neighbors can be a benefit as not having a fence between neighbors can be a benefit. It is not the fence or lack of fence that brings neighbors together. It is the relationships that develop in time by conversation and common experiences. To fence or not to fence is not the question.


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Rising Rose - Thursday, May 05, 2011

When spring finally came last week I felt a resurgence of the enthusiasm that I have enjoyed for most of my adult life. However, with the return of enthusiasm also returned some faults, like talking so much. With the return of these faults returns the fear of Stigmas which are base on partial truth but do so much harm to those reinforcing or receiving stigmas. The faults of the messenger make it easy to dismiss the message.
The ‘shadow of death’ that has haunted me the last six months remains but now more in the background. I feel like the rose bush I just planted yesterday in the rain garden. It is taking root in the dark soil of darkness while seeking glory in the light of the day, the enthusiasm of new life.

Rose bushes sprout thorns as well as roses which make them such a great symbol of life. In life we must be planted in the deep dark soil of life and face death before we can rise. With the sun we rise, like a rose into the beauty of life.


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Earth Auger - Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Today a friend who is a handyman and a friend of his that knows how to build a fence came over to replace part of my fence that had blown down last fall.

They came today with a Auger tolled behind a truck. An auger is an ”tool with a corkscrew-shaped bit for boring holes, or a larger tool, using the same principle, for boring holes in the ground. This particular auger is called an earth auger.

Digging the holes brought a lot of a clay type soil to the surface. What to do with this soil of clay. My instincts with all soils and is to reinvigorate it with compost. I know how to make soil from materials like food scraps, coffee grounds and wood chips. But how to turn clay into a healthy soil for growing is the question?

For now I put the clay like soil in a pile near the worm composting pile and check to see if by adding compost or other soil, perhaps rich in nitrogen I can convert it.

This new soil challenge raises the question about testing soil. I purchased an inexpensive soil test kit last year but it really did not work. Maybe I should get a more expensive one or take my soil to somewhere where it can be tested.
The Earth Auger drill dug a hole in the ground and brought up soil with clay. Now the challenge is how to change the clay like soil into compost and then into the black gold’ of castings.


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It Does Not Get Much Better Than This! - Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Good conversation tonight

Tonight a group of us, young and old, male and female, Catholic Worker and not, enjoyed an excellent talk about the life of Dorothy Day, co-founder of Catholic Worker by Jim Forest, an enjoyable meal of Lebanese/Indian food at our house and than a good group conversation. As the commercial says: “It does not get much better than this.”

In the Gospel Jesus spends a lot of time eating with all sorts of persons. He also spends a lot of time in the three years of his ministry with his disciples, young and old, male and female establishing relationships that would bring the good news to the world after he died. Without the relationships he had built his message would not have got out and his ‘good news’, despite the resurrection, might have been lost in his shameful death.

In the conversation we talked a lot about ‘conscience’ something important in the life of Dorothy Day. See Priority of Conscience. We talked about doing something, not because of results, but it is the right thing to do. See Thomas Merton on Results.

But at the end it was the relationships we had with each other, from past or present times and the sharing of good food and conversation that was important. “It does not get much better than this.”


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Beyond Retaliation - Monday, May 02, 2011

Marquette Students today

As I was leaving the Marquette University library today I saw a large group of students holding up signs on the sidewalk in front. They were protesting the sexual assaults on women that have plagued college campuses. There are still two law enforcement investigations of alleged sexual assault cases pending at Marquette, one from last October and one from February. When we prayed in the lobby of the Marquette library last year the Marquette security called the Milwaukee Police right away. Yet when a girl alleged to Marquette security she was raped last October, it was never reported to law enforcement. When the victim reported it to the police recently another victim reported an alleged rape last February at the same dorm that she also had reported to security.
Marquette says it was not clear about what they needed to report to local law enforcement but the State and Federal laws clearly required that campus security report all such cases to local law enforcement.

But while Marquette is silent these students had the courage to take a stand for a end to this crime which affects one of every four woman college students.

The student protest against sexual assault comes in sharp contrast to the major news story of the day, the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US military yesterday in Pakistan. The rejoicing and celebration of this one criminal’s death sounds like military propaganda. As a response by Voices for Creative Nonviolece points out in article called Beyond Retaliation people of Afghanistan “live in a country where 850 children die every day, a country which the UN has termed the worst country in the world into which a child can be born, where the average life expectancy is 42 years of age.”

My friend from Holland who is now here giving a talk at Marquette Dorothy Day tomorrow sent me quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that, like the article, states my views on the big news of the day: “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

While some rejoice in the streets for the death of one criminal I stand with the Marquette students breaking the silence on sexual assaults on college campus and with the people of Afghanistan who suffer so much and are ‘beyond retaliation’.


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Honor Peace Not Violence - Sunday, May 01, 2011

John Gilman

On this day of celebration of labor, notice of the death of two men comes. One was a friend, John Gilman, little known outside of peace and justice circles in Milwaukee. John, a decorated veteran of World War II spent his life struggling for human rights and peace. Whenever someone got in trouble in their efforts John would be there. When we were in jail after the Milwaukee 14 nonviolent action in 1968 John put up his house as security for our bond. At almost every peace and justice event or protest John was there. I took the picture on this side after one such peace event.

On the back cover of his autobiography called: “Footsoldier for Peace and Justice, The Story of John Gilman” the book is described as a “bluntly told story of one man’s efforts to make a difference in the world.” John was a true laborer for peace and justice.

The other person whose death notice came today was our military killing of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, in Pakistan. This death was met with rejoicing by American people and media and the President went on national TV to say how killing this one person was “justice served.” He talked about those American lost on 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and the bravery of the American military. However, there was no mention of the over 4000 American soldiers and nearly a million Iraqi men, woman and children killed in Iraq after 9/11 in war of deception not connected with 9/11 and a war that strengthened the terrorist force of al-Quaeda.

John’s death goes unnoticed why Osama’s death brings out people in front of the White House chanting “USA, USA”, just like at the NFL draft. A man who devoted his life to peace and justice quietly dies without violence; a man who devoted his life to death and destruction is killed to rejoicing.

My friend John was great man while Osama was just a gangster and criminal. Violence begets violence as we wait for the retaliation of our killing bin Laden. Peace begets peace as we wait for the seeds of justice John planted to grow. Many honor violence while a few honor peace.


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