This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form without prior authorization.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

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.’‘

When to Hold ‘em or to Fold ‘em - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You’ve got to know
When to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
(chorus from the Gambler by Kenny Rodgers)

This chorus came to mind today as I have been working hard on a project for our St. Vincent De Paul conference resource sheet as requested at our last meeting only to find there was no room for discussion of this work on the agenda for the next meeting. This happened to me once before when I was asked by the priest in our conference to put something together for the next meeting only to find out the subject was not even on the agenda at the next meeting. You need to know when to fold ‘em.

Since 1995 after moving to Milwaukee I have been trying to restructure how St. Vincent De Paul’s conferences made home visits without much success. This morning I had a chance to make my latest proposal for changing the home visit system to staff members of St. Vincent De Paul at the central office and two persons representing leaders in the organization. You got to know when to hold ’em.

Living life is like being the gambler and knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em.

Sometimes in life we also need to walk away like when we are reacting to something and sometimes we need to know when to run, like when we are tempted to be defensive or be distracted from what we need to do.

When to fold ‘em or hold ‘em, when to walk away or to run is what we call wisdom.


back to top

End Does Not Justify Means - Monday, January 30, 2012

Downfall of Qadhafi in Libya with
use of NATO force, “End is welcome,
but doesn’t justify the means.”

One of the ethical principles taught me in my 13 years of Jesuit Education is: “One cannot use an unjust means to pursue a just end; such means are inconsistent with, and therefore undermine, the good end.” ( Educating in the Jesuit Tradition by ROBERT SPITZER, S.J. )

I have been thinking a lot about this principle these days and how many persons, including members of the Jesuits, Society of Jesus, preach this principle but do not practice it in action.

Willi Graf, one of the White Rose war resisters in Germany had a favorite quote from the bible that sums up those who preach but do not practice what they preach: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” (The Letter of James 1:22) St. Ignatius of Loyola said something similar “love ought to show itself in deeds over and above words.” (Spiritual Exercises, #230)

Tonight I wrote another email to Jesuits at Marquette and Creighton explaining how they justify teaching war on campus was not only a good example of “ends justifying the means’ but how the argument was false. My guess is the email will go ignored as past on this subject have.

The government often uses the unethical argument that the “end justifies the means” in war. The many innocent victims of killer drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somali and Yemen are justified by the fact that a few of the enemy are killed in these attacks.

Ads, especially political ones, often mislead and misrepresent the truth, again in the name of the end, selling an item or candidate.

When I look around I see all kinds of examples of groups and individuals using the “end to justify the means”. Maybe it is a sign of the times. However, it does not matter, no matter how many times it is used “the end does not justify the means’.


back to top

Balance of Life - Sunday, January 29, 2012

GP Box in Sunroom
in winter 2008

Although it is not yet February my hope that this light winter, with little cold and snow, continues for another month and we move swiftly into spring. Since we built the GP Box in the Sun room I have attempted, without great success, to grow cold resistant plants like lettuce and kale in the box. It has worked but the crop does not match the cost of heater or electricity for the box. This year I have not installed the lights yet and have only a very small heater in the room so other plants in planters keep alive.

However, the room, with the help of the sun, is getting very warm during the days and, with the help of mild weather, not so cold at night. The soil in the box, full of worms is ready and I have the seeds. Soon the lights above the box will go up and the seeds buried in the soil. I look forward to getting my hands the soil. I need its healing powers.

However, till the spring when I can get outside and work the gardens I need to do some kind of physical exercise. I could join the YMCA or take a swift walk outside each day. I do not know but will need to decide soon. My health is good except for my weight and although I try to eat healthy I do need to do some physical exercise.

Winter stops the work outside growing and there is not much physical labor to do inside. I keep my mind strong with writing, reading, talking and thinking but need to keep the soul and body in shape till spring. That is the balance of life that I dare not mess with.


back to top

Courage To Resist - Saturday, January 28, 2012

Willi Graf of the White Rose

My friend Jim Forest has written about the White Rose Community, a non-violent, resistance group in Nazi Germany during the time of Hitler, consisting of students from the University of Munich. One of them, Alex Schmorell was an Orthodox Christian and is soon to be canonized as a Saint in the Orthodox faith.

The other students were mostly Catholics, like me, and one of the first to be arrested, condemned to death and beheaded was Willi Graf. I would hope that since we share the same last name we are related, but even if we are not, having a 25 young man named Graf give his life for resistance to the Nazi government is inspiring. The crime of the White Rose resistance was to break the silence about the name of nature of the government in Germany and its crimes.

Today when we resist the crimes of our government in war making or resist our Catholic University teaching how to kill humans without conscience we are ignored, or at worst, arrested for some small crime, like disorderly conduct. Christians, like in the 30’s or 40’s might not like what the government or those who control the government are doing to our country, but like most of the Christians in Germany fear sacrificing or risking anything in the resistance.

Also our government, unlike that of Nazi Germany, is wise enough to know that it is better to ignore resistance than to attack it or call attention to it.
This is Not to say our government is like that of Nazi Germany but it is to say that when we see things like Killer Drones killing innocent people or the lack of opportunity for rising class of poor we might protest mildly, ignore the issue, keep silent or support the government in the name of patriotism. Many Germans hated Nazism but kept their silence for love of the ‘fatherland’. We keep divided Republican or Democrat, poor or rich, gay or straight, liberal or conservative, man or woman, black or white and fight each other and are kept distracted from the real issues of our society.

God blessed Willi Graf and the rest of the White Rose community to have the courage to resist, even to the point of death. May God bless us and give us the courage to Break the Silence.


back to top

Money for Education? - Friday, January 27, 2012

Prayer Vigil for 16 year old

Today we had a vigil for a homicide victim, a teen, 16 years old, the second student from a local technical high school to be killed this month. There was a large group of family and friends at the morning vigil and there was a tangible sense of lost of this young man. The police said tonight there was a drug robbery involved.

Today and yesterday there were major fights at two public high schools in Milwaukee. The Mayor was on TV blaming students and their parents for this growing problem of disruptions of high schools.

Yes, drugs are involved in some homicides and students and parents bear responsibility for disruptive behavior. But as with other problems are we getting at the root cause of this violence with teens in our high schools.

As poverty increases in our city and less and less money is spent on public school education it should be of no surprise that we are suffering more violence with teens in and out of school. Everyone says how important education is in our society but government officials keep cutting funds for public schools and shifting quality education toward those who can pay. The private high schools that I attended many years ago now has a tuition of $10, 000 and our local large private university just announced a tuition rise to about $35, 000. Private schools say they have scholarships for students but that is only a way of selecting who they want in their schools.

The military has understood this lack of available education for so many youth and has stepped in with lucrative offers of money for education after you serve in the military (and if you survive whole in mind, body and spirit.)

Looking around the world at education system our problem is obvious. Of developed countries in the world we are about the only one that restricts education opportunity based on money. Most countries, like Holland where my friend has young adult children, education is free or at low cost. Opportunity and availability of education is not based on money.

At the homicide vigil for the young man this morning family and friends kept saying how after dropping out of school the young man had returned to school with a new attitude and was earning good grades. Now he does not have the opportunity to excel in school. However, had he lived would he have had the chance to have the opportunity and availability of a good education? Sadly, I believe no. Education, like so much else in our society, is based on money.


back to top

When You Are Low - Thursday, January 26, 2012

With my cough and cold I have been feeling low the last week or so. However, every time I am feeling low something seems to happen to brighten my day. For example, today as I was driving back home from giving a friend a ride to see his mother a friend from Lexington Kentucky called. We caught up with each other lives and activities and just talking with her by phone made my day brighter.

Shortly after I got a home a friend came over to help me prepare dinner for our base group. We had a delicious dinner and afterwards a good session brainstorming on some ideas of how we can break the silence by Marquette University on teaching war and killing on campus. It was a brief but creative session.

So tonight after 9 when I finally cleaned up after dinner and my wife came home from her work at the library, I still had my cold and cough but was feeling okay.

There was something my friend from Lexington, Kentucky said today that stuck with me. She is very active in peace and justice issues and in the woman’s ordination movement. However, when she comes home these days she feels the need to be grounded in a community. She has many friends around the country but longs for a community to come her to. I was talking with one friend that came over tonight about how fortunate and blessed we both are having a base community and a nice circle of friends in Milwaukee.

When it is cold, you have a cough and are feeling low a community of friends, a phone call or nice dinner with friends, can pick you right up.


back to top

No Giving Up - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Last week in a posting called Fifty/Fifty I talked about how difficult it is to meet basic needs when 50 % of the USA population lives in poverty or near poverty. I referred to a phone call with a lady seeking aide from our St. Vincent De Paul Conference. Our conference is short on money yet this woman needed a voucher for beds, a refrigerator and a stove. I was wondering out loud what two of the three I could give her.

When my friend and I arrived we found the woman in an empty house. She had moved north to found herself and her children homeless. Her children were taken from her and she was living in a homeless shelter. She finally had gotten a rental unit but could not get her two children back until she had beds for them to sleep on and a stove and refrigerator to store and cook food. Her two children were now with her sister until she could provide them with the basics. Her sister was near homelessness and she was struggling to get her place in order so she can get her children back and perhaps her sister’s child, if need be. We decided to give her a voucher for beds, refrigerator and stove and just pray we can get the money to fund this project.

A number of people have been trying for years to get the St. Vincent De Paul central office to restructure the ways it determines who will get service. Right now it is based on an outdate parish boundary system that does not even exist for the poorest areas of the city. However, hope came today when a key member of St.Vincent De Paul said he would attend the meeting next week to make our system more effective. I am convinced people would give time and money to the work of St. Vincent De Paul if they were challenged and given a chance.

I got a call today from Will Allen, founder of Growing Power who told me of some new efforts to provide healthy and affordable food for those in need. It was good to hear of this great work to provide good food for those in need.

It should not be such a battle to make such a simple change to serve poor persons more effectively but it is. Those in power in this country have made everything hard to do so we get discouraged and give up trying to make change. But there is no giving up. We may not get the results we hope and work for but we need to do our best.


back to top

Chewing Chicken Thickly - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In our faith sharing gathering this morning we talked about obstacles to our spiritual growth. I mentioned that although I knew better, I keep doing too many things at one time, and not taking the proper time for reading, reflection and exercise.

We wandered into the same area, slowing down and entering into life deeply, in our conversation with my therapist this afternoon. She had a good quote about taking life thickly. She meant the same thing I knew but did not practice, that is better to enter into life experiences deeply than have more and more experiences. I told her of how my grandson when he was first was learning to talk had a vocabulary of about 5 words. One of them was the word “more”. When we played a silly game together he would say “more”. At first I thought he meant to some more silly things. But I found out what he really meant is that he wanted me to repeat the same thing over again. So I did, and he would laugh and enjoy it just as much as the first time. So I would do it over and over again.

Her example was about eating a piece of chicken. She had been suffering from some indigestion so decided to chew her food thoroughly and eat slowly. It worked and she not only got better but she enjoyed the food more. She was telling her sister about a piece of chicken she had eaten that tasted so good. Her sister did not understand that the chicken had tasted so good since she had chewed it thickly. She said if she writes another book she will call it “Chewing Chicken Thickly.”

I have talked a lot about the increased sense of death I have felt since the death of my son. One of the benefits of experiencing the shadow of death is that it brings life more into focus and perspective. You realize it is not how much you do but how you do something. I remember a quote from a famous person that went something like this: “If you enter into an experience deeply you will find God.” I do not know about finding God but by entering deeply into life you not only experience death but more fully are filled with a sense of gratitude for life. So next time you eat chicken remember to chew thickly.


back to top

Voices of the Vulnerable - Monday, January 23, 2012

Today I was so tired that I had a hard time getting myself out of bed. All day I felt tired and my mind seemed asleep. Then a series of phone calls and emails from family and friends woke me up to an appreciation of myself. In this spirit I write the following:

Voices of the Vulnerable

The voices of the vulnerable rumble in my soul
I cannot turn them off for fear of losing my life,
For without hearing the voice of the poor
There is no hope or salvation.

The voices of the poor set us free
If we can hear and see.

Awake my soul to these voices,
Join with them as many cannot speak,
They suffer in silence and are treated with no respect.
Yet their voices are ours and we must embrace them

Being a voice for the poor defines our country.
A country is judged by how it treats its poor;
Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and others have said.
If this be true today our country would be judged
A failure, bankrupt and in decline.

If we seek God’s graces and blessings
We need to go to the poor
For God has given them all God’s graces and blessings.

They say 50 percent of all Americans are poor or near poor;
If true this makes God’s blessings and grace easily available.

The voices of the vulnerable can be music to our ears.


back to top

Humor Is Hard - Sunday, January 22, 2012

Keeping a sense of humor when there is so much suffering and death around us is difficult but necessary. Being awake and aware of what is happening brings great sorrow but finding some humor in life keeps hope alive.

A friend of mine, not of my political persuasion, has been sending me humorous cartoons for awhile. I used to have many friends sending me jokes and humor but due to death I only have a few now. These cartoons, which I have put on the side and below this posting, deal with Steve Jobs, charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution, being in heaven.

Being a recent acquirer of an iPhone I can appreciate the genius of Steve Jobs as an inventor but to think any of his technology matters in heaven is laughable. Seeing the face of God, or heaven will be, in my opinion, beyond any excitement about technology.

Humor is hard for us serious minded people, but without humor we can lose perspective and fail to see the incongruities of life.


back to top

To Vote or Not to Vote - Saturday, January 21, 2012

With all the media buzz, or in my mind distractions, about presidential elections going on now and that will escalate as we moved toward November 2012. I have an alternative choice over voting for the least objectionable choice for President. It is clear to me and others, that no matter who runs against President Obama, the president will win. The ‘powers that be’, Wall Street bankers, mega corporations and military establishment have already made that decision. President Obama’s is on track to raise a billion dollars in his reelection campaign. In the last campaign his biggest contributor was the investment powerhouse, Goldman Sachs and the powers to be seem to like him for letting the insurance companies write the new insurance bill, allowing Wall Street insiders to write the new investment banking law and keeping the wars and weapons growing. Who can beat him, Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney?

In other countries when the elections are predetermined and are democratic in name only people have come up an alternative to voting, not voting. People have successfully called for a boycott of voting.

In the so called last ‘democratic elections’ in Haiti about 25% of those eligible to vote voted. Why? The most popular political party Fanmi Lavala, the party of the first democratically elected president of Haiti, was barred. President Aristides had twice been elected by overwhelming number of Haitian only to find himself twice overthrown by US government forces. So in these recent elections people just did not vote and let the U.S. choice, a popular singer in Haiti who did not even qualify in the flawed primary election win. Why vote when you know the choice of the “powers that be”.

I can point to many other examples in Africa, Middle East and Central and South America where the best choice was not to vote.

In a true democracy voting should count. Many here in this country will say it does not matter but it is our political obligation to vote. I say a better choice, especially for a Presidential election is not to vote until democracy is restored in the U.SA. You can still enjoy all the entertainment and hype the media provides around Presidential election but a vote for democracy might just be not to vote.


back to top

Fifty/Fifty - Friday, January 20, 2012

“The rich cannot accumulate
wealth without the co-operation
the poor in society.”

“Pick two of the three, beds, refrigerator or stove?” That was the question I had to pose by phone today to a woman who just left a homeless shelter but had nothing but an apartment. My question was what do you most need? Her answer was beds, refrigerator or stove. As a member of the St. Vincent De Paul conference of St. Catherine I was calling her to schedule a home visit. Our conference is one of two that serve a wide area of the north side of Milwaukee that is home to poorest and most segregated area of the city. With the dramatic increase of poverty, one of two persons living in poverty or near poverty, doing out task of visiting those in need and offering them vouchers for the essentials of life, food and beds, is becoming hard to fulfill. Some members of our conference suggested last night that we give them only one appliance, a voucher up to $125 and limit the beds we supply to a few, each one costing our conference about $100 to $125. I understand their concern about money but as part of the 50 percent who do not live in poverty or near poverty cannot accept it.

I have suggested to St.Vincent De Paul members, in the past and will do so in the future, a more aggressive recruitment of members and money. I content there are plenty of conference members out there to make home visits to people in need and plenty of money out there for the poor in the 50%. I believe all we need to do is ask for membership and money and it will be given to us. If you read the Gospel, “ask and you shall receive”, or try to live in the spirit of the Catholic Worker Catholic Worker movement this is not a very hard stretch to believe in. When I have prayed and asked for participation in activities, when I was a youth minister or a St. Vincent De Paul member, it has worked if the others around me believe.

I believe all people are basically by nature good and selfish and greed has to be learned. Sadly we live in a society where selfishness and greed run rampart. Last night at the St. Vincent De Paul meeting we talked about poor people 19 or over that do not have insurance. Some said there was a state insurance plan. I found out today that was true but there are 188,000 persons on the waiting list for this insurance plan and today in the newspaper it says the Governor rejected 38 billion in federal money because he does not like the Federal Health Care law.

Also the headlines of today’s newspaper was the fact that state jobs declined for 6th month in a role while the national level has gone up. Yet the governor still claims to be a ‘job creator’ and my wife just got a mailing from him today with that claim.

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, used to say that if everyone took in one homeless person there would no more homelessness in the USA. Yes problems are that simple to eliminate if we work together to do our part. Yet we remained divided and apart fighting each other rather than the “powers that be” that control our economy and political system. Gandhi said “The rich cannot accumulate wealth without the co-operation of the poor in society.” This is true but the 50% of the poor or near poor are voiceless and the other 50% keep our silence.


back to top

Less Is More - Wednesday, December 31, 1969

(:redirect [[DiaryOfAWorm.20120312-LessIsMore]]:)


back to top

Fall of Male Dominated Hierarchies - Thursday, January 19, 2012

Supporters of Woman Priest
at the Vatican

Yesterday there was a news report of how widespread sexual abuse, rape of women, is in the military. This is not the first time such a sex scandal in the military has been in the press. It just seems to be something a male dominated military lends itself to.

The sex scandal that broke out in the Catholic Church of the USA, mostly pedophile of boys and young men by priest, has been shown to be international as scandals in Ireland, Germany and now Holland have shown. The Catholic Church, like the military, is also male dominated.

Our former Archbishop in Milwaukee, now Cardinal in NYC, once said that the sexual abuse by priest was similar to other parts of the society in general. Yes the illness of pedophile has shown itself in other churches and in other groups in society but not nearly as significant and widespread as the Catholic Church.

In my opinion what the Catholic Church and military have in common is male domination. The male hierarchy of the Catholic Church forbids us to talk about women being priest. The military keeps saying it will change its treatment of woman but the abuse continues under the watch of the male dominated military.

If you look around our society the final two outpost of male domination is the Catholic Church and the Military, the two groups where sexual abuse scandals are rampant.

I need to admit that I did not understand the Catholic woman priest issue until I met one. She has been excommunicated as well as the Catholic priest who was on the altar during her ordination. What I learned from my friend is that woman’s ordination is a real challenge to the male dominated hierarchical Catholic Church to the equality of all women and men followers of the way of Jesus Christ. I think the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and the military are the final signs of the fall of the male dominated hierarchy.


back to top

Take and Give - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rich and Poor Housing in San Palo,
Brazil -Coming our Way?

Last night I watched a Symposium on Poverty in America hosted by Tavis Smiley. I knew people in poverty were increasing dramatically in the U.S.A. but not the extent that the panelist pointed out. One of two Americans live in poverty or near poverty. Hunger is at an old time high and we lead the world in imprisoning people per capita. After hearing the passion of these people to wake up America to how the very wealthy, 400 persons owning 50% of the wealth in USA, are not just keeping many poor by are destroying the middle class. The American Dream and the land of opportunity are disappearing. My grandchildren will be the first in America history to inherit a country poorer than their parents.

I knew or sensed some of this and have been thinking a lot about the increasing poverty in our country. I have been forming a prayer or poem in my mind and today, after seeing this symposium it came out. Here it is:

Take and Give

God please take money from the greedy and give it to the needy.
Take money from the Wall Street bankers who wrecked our housing market,’‘
Give in to the homeless, those who lost homes and those who were the target
Of their greed and get rich quick schemes that destroyed so many dreams.

God please take money from the weapon makers and give it the bakers.
Take money from the makers of weapons of war
Give it to the hungry to buy food in the store
To share with family and friends and to make amends.

God please take money from the wealthy and give it to those who are not healthy.
Take the money of the 400 individuals in the USA who own 50% of all wealth
Give it to the 50% of Americans who are poor or near poor so they can enjoy good health
And enjoy once more opportunities and live in good communities.

God please take power from the rich and fame and give it to those who suffer blame and shame.
Take the power of the rich and sleek
Give it to the weak and meek
So they understand their cooperation in their own exploitation.

God please take money from the greedy and give it to the needy.


back to top

Invitation to Tap Tap Garden in Haiti - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cite Soleil, Home of Urban
Tap Tap Garden

I was writing some local friends about signs of Hope in our resistance to violence when this invitation came from my friend, Daniel Tillas, in Haiti. I made some modifications and additions, including links to the letter so you can better understand how this is a sign of Hope in the inquiry: Haiti, Return to Slavery Or Freedom? I pass the invitation on to you. Daniel was our translator for our SOA Watch delegation to Haiti. When we were in Cite Soleil, an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, one of the delegation asked Daniel what did he most want for people of Haiti. Without any hesitation he said: to grow our own food. This response makes this invitation very special and a sign of hope.

To all friends of HOPE who will be in Haiti this week

On behalf of Pax-Christi Ayiti, Bochika and SOIL, it is our pleasure to invite you as an esteemed guest to the grand inauguration of the Jaden Tap Tap (Tap Tap Garden) [Tap Tap is the name of the local cab system. They are truck with an open back. People sit on benches on both sides of the truck. When they want to get off they tap the floor, thus they are called Tap Tap] and EcoSan Toilet in Cite Soleil on January 22, 2012. As a leader and advocate for the community, we would be most honored by your attendance at this incredible formal launch of this community-driven urban agro-ecology program. The program launch is a testament to the power of positive change in Haiti, particularly in Cite Soleil, and a significant milestone for those who most benefit from the program, especially the youth members and residents of the nearby displacement camp Michiko. It is with incredible respect for your position that we request your attendance at the inauguration.
The Jaden Tap Tap is an acre of former landfill that now symbolizes hope, empowerment, education, and opportunity for the surrounding community. This bountiful garden already has more than 500 brightly painted tires used as planting beds for nutritious fruits and vegetables, a flower garden, and a nursery with over 1000 Moringa saplings. The Jaden Tap Tap is a model for urban agriculture for the neighborhood, country, and the world – demonstrating that bountiful, nutritious gardens can be grown in even the harshest conditions.
The celebration begins at 10 am on Sunday January 22, 2012 and will include a performance by the internationally recognized Haitian musician BelO, food and drink, agricultural demonstrations, youth presentation and performances, and the inauguration of a new community Eco-San toilet, the newest of SOIL’s Eco-San toilets that are providing essential sanitation services to over 70,000 people in urban and rural Haiti. We hope that you will accept our invitation to join us in celebrating the Jaden Tap Tap by placing your RSVP at Please visit to learn more. We would be honored by your attendance; however, you are welcome to invite your staff or colleagues to attend on your behalf.


back to top

Seeing Discrimination in Honor of MLK - Monday, January 16, 2012

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. Tonight I went to a local Catholic Church for a memorial service for King. There were many African Americans in Church. This service confirmed my New Year’s resolution to follow through on the essay and research I said I would do after our Catholic church that existed since 1897 was closed in 2011, leaving only one Catholic Church in a wide area of the North side of Milwaukee. This area also happens to be the most segregated area, over 85% African American, of the most segregated city in USA and one of the poorest areas of one of the poorest areas in the City of Milwaukee. See the two census maps below.

Many Catholic churches flourished in the area in the 60’s, now there is one. Churches are flourishing in this area but Catholic Churches have been closed until now there is only one. It is too easy an answer to say Blacks are not Catholics when Black Catholic schools and parishes flourished in other predominately African American neighborhoods like in Chicago or Washington D.C. In the closing of all the Catholic churches, including the one we belonged to, the Catholic Church, in my opinion, made a conscious effort not to reach out to Blacks and based decisions on finances.

Our former church was in a predominately African American community on the North side and although small was surviving with financial income from the rental of the school and the former convent. One day we were told that rental income did not count and we would have to change to stay open. The parish as a whole decided on a more evangelical model of Church but was never given a chance to do it. When a large unsolicited offer was made for the Church property we were told that we were being closed and being ‘merged’ or sent to an even smaller parish with less income but not as north as our parish.

I am afraid that when I look into the closing of all the other Catholic parishes and Catholic social services on the north side I will find a similar pattern. After I moved back to Milwaukee and was attending one of my first vigils for homicide victims an African American pastor told me the best thing the Catholic Church ever did on the north side was to close the churches and schools and sell them to church congregations. I did not understand what he was saying at the time but now I do.

I have hesitated to take on this project since no one wants to hear what I may find, as the African Americans came marching into the North side the Catholic Church came marching out, but the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and my own Roman Catholic faith compels me. As I heard someone say at the service tonight, “Unless we learn from history we are doomed to make the same mistakes.” I see more discrimination today than I did in the 60’s; it is more subtle but with my eyes wide open I can see more.


back to top

Life as Not Winning or Losing - Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today we were up North to watch one of our grandsons play in a basketball tournament. We had our granddaughter with us while my son, a Green Bay police officer, worked the Green Bay Packers game and my daughter-in-law and oldest grandson attended the game. Naturally there was a big screen TV in the cafeteria outside the gym so we could watch the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants playoff football game before, during and in between basketball games. My grandson’s basketball team won one game and lost one game while the Green Bay Packers lost one game and are out of the run for the Super Bowl game.

Much of our lives is about winning or losing and although we say be a gracious loser, Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers is reported to say “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing”.

In War wining is the only thing. Although we clearly lost the war in Vietnam to the Vietnamese people our government does not admit to losing and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where again we are fighting the people in their own country. we still find ways to deny we are losing. Waging war in another people’s own country, in my opinion, is not winnable. The true character and spirit will ultimately triumph.

Today, January 15th, is the anniversary of my dad’s birthday and that of Martin Luther King Jr. In my dad’s life and that of King’s there is not much talk of winning or losing. The nonviolence of King was not to defeat anyone but to struggle for truth and justice even when that meant taking on the suffering and repression of others for speaking and acting the “right thing to say and do”. King is now honored and respected but he suffered a great deal in his life especially the last few years when he was rejected even by some of his own friends and companions.

My dad’s whole life was devoted to his family, wife and children. He worked hard for us even to the neglect of his own concerns and interest. He died from the worst disease possible a hard working talented men of labor could face, Alzheimer’s. He went from a man who could fix or build almost anything to a person who could not remember how to start a lawnmower.

Great men, true to their beliefs and selves, suffer greatly. A few, like King or Gandhi are recognized and honored after death although many that praise and honor them do not follow their ways. Some, like my dad, live quiet and simple lives and are never publicly recognized for being who they are. But both King and my Dad saw their life as not winning or losing. Life was something to be embraced and lived fully as best we can.


back to top

Ignored By Jesuits - Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weapon training of Marquette
ROTC student

I have noticed that when people hear a message they do not like to hear, they might first praise the messenger but ignore the messenger. If the messenger keeps saying the message they might attack the messenger in order to ignore the message. If that does not work, they just ignore the messenger and the message.
This is how I feel about my relationship with members of the Society of Jesus and its companions. I remember a time when some called me a ‘prophet’, than they attacked me to ignore the message and now ignore me and my message.

The message they do not want to hear is that some Jesuit schools are teaching men and woman how to kill without use of conscience in the military departments they host on campus.

This really came home to me when the one Jesuit who I though understood my message and accepted it ignored an article I wrote about the issue due to lack of identity picture I used of student soldier that I had taken from a Jesuit ROTC web site. Actually I found the source of the picture and the name of the student but I doubt if that was the real issue why he would not read the article.

I realize being attacked or ignored like I face is just small change compared how great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is tomorrow, faced. I am finding a lot of support and information about this message of teaching reflexive killing from veterans and military sources, some that do not agree with my moral conclusions about killing without conscience. But at least they admit to teaching and training soldiers to do this, while the Jesuits at Marquette will not even recognize this is being taught by the military, let alone make a moral judgment about it.

I rather be disagreed with or attacked than being ignored, especially by Jesuits, who I respect and who claim to be companion of Jesus.


back to top

Lucky Friday the 13th - Friday, January 13, 2012

Today is Friday the 13th, my lucky day. Since I was 13 years old on Friday the 13th, kids now call it your golden birthday the number 13 has been my lucky number. Part of my feeling for this day may be that my picture was in the newspaper when I was 13 on Friday, Jan. 13th. Pat and I were going to the local casino today but due that I was not feeling so well and we had other things to do we did not go.

However, as predicted, it was a lucky day. Pat and I made four or five home visits to people in need as part of our role in the St.Vincent De Paul Society. People without the basics like a stove or bed are so appreciative of our presence and the vouchers for these items we can give them. At each call there seems to be little children around the house, sons and daughters or grandchildren. The children radiate innocence, make little judgment of who we are and remind us of the miracle of life each human being is.

After our home visits Pat and I went out to lunch at the Amaranth Café to enjoy some healthy delicious soups, homemade rolls and sweets. The people in front of us ordering were new to the place and it was fun watching them order, asking questions about the food and Dave’s response. The food, healthy and local when possible, always, like the children, brings joy to the faces of the persons.

My lovely wife was off of work today, the home visits were blessings and the lunch fare were delicious. It doesn’t get much better than this for a lucky Friday the 13th.


back to top

Living Thoughts of Joy - Thursday, January 12, 2012

There has been a media blitz about how great our Governor is as he is about to be recalled. The TV ads and mailings are slick and made me think maybe Governor Walker is not so good. But today reality set in. I got a call from a friend who is in the hospital, talked with another person whose cancer has returned and a friend who has been suffering pain for a long time. What they all have in common is that they are low income African Americans women who struggle with health care cost. I also took a friend, low income white male, with a mental illness to get some needed furniture and ran into a bureaucratic nightmare. My illusions about Governor Walker quickly disappeared. He has raised taxes on low income person and cut back on health insurance benefits.
Also today I heard on Public Radio a woman talk about how we need to find joy and fulfillment in life right now not when something happens, when we get a job, get married or lose weight. She had a mantra something like: “Be the thoughts of joy now that you want to see in the future”. It reminded me of Gandhi’s quote: “My Life is my message. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

So with all the news about friends facing illness and confusion I am seeking and finding joy in my daily life. It was even more difficult to do this today since we had our first major snowfall and I have a cold.

However, I did find looking for joy in the moment worked a little, even on this day. I am not talking about “thinking positive” or something like that. It is more like living in the present moment and seeing my thoughts of joy in what is happening in the present.

Seeing the thoughts of joy in the present is not deceptive, base on half truths, like the perception the Governor is trying to create.

Walker’s perception is in the media and out there. But thoughts of joy is not something out there but in us. Thoughts of joy are in us and can be lived in the present.


back to top

Rights Movement To Come? - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Face of Mental Illness?

Today I attended a conference at the Marquette University Law School about the newspaper series on mental health called Imminent Danger. There was a lot of good back and forth exchanges about when, how or if to commit a person with a brain disease to a hospital for treatment, when he or she refuses treatment. Some where upset that the article focused on two cases the one in Tucson Arizona and the one in Virginia Tech where two severely sick men killed a number of persons. Although it was made clear that these persons represent a small fraction of persons with mental illnesses that commit violent crimes, less than 1 per cent and lest than in the ‘normal population’ somewhere upset that these two cases were used as the faces of persons with mental health. I was one of them that was upset and had prepared some faces of persons operating in everyday life that have mental illnesses.

On the panel I was on I talked about the role of Stigma in mental illnesses. I pointed out how both sides of the controversy, to commit to rescue a person and not to commit a person against their will, both use the words ‘mentally ill’ to describe persons with a mental illness. I said how they would not use the words ‘cancerous’ to describe a person with cancer and thus should not use the words ‘mentally ill’ to describe a person with mental illnesses.

One of the few African Americans in attendance asked during the panel discussion I was on why African Americans were not represented in the audience or panels. Someone gave a lofty answer but I gave her one word answer ‘discrimination.’ Persons with mental illnesses are discriminated against as well as African Americans and poor persons. When you put all three together, poor African American with mental illnesses you get a group of the most discriminated persons in society. Our jails and prisons are full of persons with mental illnesses; many of them are African American males.

There have been civil right, gay rights, and workers rights and women movements in this country. Martin Luther King Jr., right before he was killed, was organizing a movement for poor persons of all races, ethnic and different parts of the country to come together to occupy Washington D.C. It did happen and was called “Resurrection City”. But without his charisma and leadership and with the death of Robert Kennedy that June the movement of poor occupying D.C. faded away.

Perhaps the “occupy” movement is a sign that we all can come together, poor, rich, middle class, white, black, Asian, Hispanics came once more come together to conform the ‘powers to be’ and demand radical change. Maybe this time we, people with mental illnesses, can be part of this new movement struggling for human rights and common good.


back to top

Maybe I Heard Him Wrong? - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

unwanted by Peter Graf

Tonight I was preparing a few thoughts for a panel discussion I will be involved in at the Marquette University Law School involving the newspaper article and documentary called Imminent Danger. The workshop deals with the issue of committing persons with a mental illness to treatment, even if they do not realize they are ill. This is an issue I often faced with my son Peter before he died.

What came to my mind was my friend Frank’s recent entry to his blog Father at War. His son in the military was put in one of the worst situations a person can be in, “to kill or be killed.” The essay is called Maybe I heard him wrong?

Than my mind went to Marquette University School of the Army where young men and women are taught reflexive killing, killing without conscience. Now that in my mind, along with Killer Drones, is really crazy.

Read Frank’s blog and you might be glad, as I am to be near normal and say Maybe I heard him wrong?


back to top

This Drone is for You! - Monday, January 09, 2012

Worshiping Wal-Mart

Tonight I watched some of the Nissan pre-game show to the State Farm National Champion Football game at the Mercedes Bend Super Dome in New Orleans. I might have got the sponsor of the game wrong, it might have been All-State, but you get the idea, commercialization has taken over sporting events. Maybe we can get commercial sponsors for other events like Taco Bell Occupy Wall Street or the Miller Light movement to stop teaching killing at Marquette University.

These suggestions might seem silly to you but who would have thought a few years ago that Wal-Mart, the largest discrimination business in the market place would be sponsoring the Tavis Smiley public TV show with a commercial using the name of Martin Luther King Jr. Or, as I recently wrote about, Wal-Mart the largest corporation in the world selling tainted Chinese products sponsoring “The Good Food Revolution” of Will Allen and Growing Power here in Milwaukee.

However, corporations sponsor or donate to organizations and events when it buys better public relations and thus more sales or to buy the silence of a company.

Today I read an article in Common Dreams called: New Report Details Extent of US Military Reliance on Drones. As Killer Drones become more popular and more used maybe the government can get sponsors for each drone. How about Bayer Pain Relief Drone, Exlax Drone, Coca Cola Drone, Big Mac Drone or Goodyear Drone. Where there is buck to be made, even with a Killer Drone there is a possibility. Budweiser, for a price, can say on the side of the drone missiles: “This drone is for you.”


back to top

Christmas Season, Time to Appreciate - Sunday, January 08, 2012

Silly Cousins at Christmas

When I was young the Christmas Season started for me on Dec. 6th, the Feast of St. Nicolas, when our stockings were full of candy and small toys. It ended Jan. 13, the Octave of the Feast of the Epiphany. Nowadays the Christmas season starts for most the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and ends after New Year’s day when school beings. The church is not much into octaves anymore and even celebrates the Epiphany the nearest Sunday to Jan. 6th, which happens to be today, January 8th.

These days I start celebrating the holiday season is in full gear Dec. 22nd, the birthday of my eldest grandson and try to stretch out to Jan. 13th, which happens to be my birthday. This year from December 22nd till tomorrow morning has been full of visiting family and friends and having family and friends visit us. Our last guests were leaving this morning after Church when their car broke down and will be here till tomorrow, a sure sign that God does not want this season of appreciation of family and friends to end.

A friend that was visited from California wrote me the other day how much she enjoyed her visit here in Milwaukee. Some friends I have just talked with on the phone but I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.

We have been so blessed with visits of friends we have not sent out our annual Christmas card and update letter to friends we do not regularly see or hear from. Oh, well we still got five more days of the Christmas season, till Friday, January 13th to get them out.

In my older days I am starting to realize that perhaps this is what the Christmas season is all about: appreciating family and friends.


back to top

Babies, Teachers of Life - Saturday, January 07, 2012

Baby Annika, 3 months old

Today I encountered two babies, one eight months and the other one 3 months old. As all babies both were cute and as many babies they had little hair. They both would smile at silly parents or grandparents but the eight month old had learned to clap and wave. They both were calm babies looking around with awe and curiosity.

These two reminded me how much babies learn in the first two years of life. Babies are completely dependent on other people yet that very dependency makes them blessed and great learners. Their baby brains are not cluttered by many thoughts so they can be full alive in the present moment. They have not yet learned to categorize and tag things with words and concepts. Everything is a mystery to them and every experience is a new learning opportunity.

They say that our greatest education comes in the first couple years of life. Not that our life is predetermined but our basic orientation to life is established.

There is much we can learn from babies: innocence, living in the present, not labeling and categorize everything, being open to the mysteries of life.

Babies are great learners of life and thus teachers of life.


back to top

We are All Connected - Friday, January 06, 2012

Enjoying dinner with friends
from India

Christmas joy for us is visiting friends and family. Today, our African born niece (not my niece by USA standards but by African ones), cooked a African dinner, with a little touch of India and Middle East added for some local friends, friends from Gay Mills and our friend Kranthi from India and her daughter and son-in-law that live in the Twin Cities. I believe we had five or six cultures represented in the food and drink we shared at dinner.

When I was young my Lebanese grandfather lived with us and my mother had an instinctive sense of Middle Eastern hospitality. In the Middle Eastern tradition welcoming people into your tent or house and giving them food and drink is natural and expected. My Sierra Leone African born niece has a similar sense of hospitality. In both the Middle Eastern and African culture there is little sense of the individualism that runs rampant in the USA but a real sense of belonging to a community where everyone is expected to help and share with each other.

Actually the same sense of sharing community is true in Central and South America, even with the poorest of the poor in Haiti. The one government official we talked to in Haiti was in charge of keeping relations with Haitians that were living in other countries. Since Haiti has been so devastated by Western forces many people depend on the little money sent them by family and friend overseas. Even my niece from Sierra Leone who is struggling financially right now sends some of the little she has to her family in Free Town, Sierra Leone so her brothers and sisters can attend school.

One of the politicians running for President says he does not want to give poor persons food and basics but give them an opportunity for a decent job with decent pay. This sounds great but at the same time officials are cutting money for education, decent housing and health care needed for an opportunity to get a good job. Also they give big tax breaks and subsidies to corporation to send jobs overseas. Buying in America has become extremely difficult.

There has been a rash of homicides in Milwaukee these first six days of the New Year. Instead of looking at the root cause of this violence politicians and the police chief keep telling us the “homicides are not random and not connected”. Random means they are not connected events so if they are not random it means they are connected. Logic and grammar does not seem to be a strong point of politicians. But without a shared sense of community such double talk seems to go unheard.

To return to what my friend from Haiti wrote in his Christmas greetings: “We are all neighbors” or as some religions teach: “We are all brothers and sisters”.

The USA has a lot to offer the rest of the world but has more to learn about sense of community and how we are all connected.


back to top

Blame the Poor - Thursday, January 05, 2012

“This is all your fault. You bought
a house you could not afford.”

We blame poor people more than we blame rich people.
When a poor person steals a little money we deal with it harshly, perhaps prison time.
When a rich person steals millions, like those on Wall Street did, they are not even prosecuted.

When a poor woman works the system to get a little more for her children we are appalled.
When a rich man works the system to get a big reward we applaud.

When a poor person gets a small amount of money from State we call it Welfare.
When a rich person gets a tremendous tax break from the State we do not call it Welfare.

Our prisons and jails are full of the poor.
Justice is based on one’s wealth.

Even the middle class and poor can upset at the poor for taking money for the State.
But the middle class and poor ignore the rich for taking money for State.
Poor have a difficult time getting a good education.

But the rich get the best education money can buy.
Our health system is based on our ability to pay
So the rich get health care the poor do not.

We blame the poor for being poor,
We do not blame the rich for being rich.
The rich make money on money,
While the poor lose money on money.


back to top

Amaranth or Wal-Mart - Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Amaranth Cafe

Today I took my friends to lunch at Amaranth Café my favorite lunch place. Amaranth offers homemade soups each day, fresh bread and bakery items, good coffee, delicious salads. They used, whenever possible, local products and the Café extends out to the community, sponsoring art, gardens and creative youth activities.

The business of the Café represents the complete opposite of what Wal-Mart represents. The owners of the Café are generous contributors to the community quite the opposite of the Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart. Employees receive a decent wage, they are local owned and operated, purchase local products, use healthy ingredients for all their food, just the opposite of Wal-Mart.

I was glad to hear today from one of the owner’s that he had resigned from the Board of Directors of Growing Power and did not approve of Growing Power taking a million dollars from Wal-Mart.

Amaranth represents many principles of living in community that I endorse and encourage and try to do. When I took my friend Prasad, a follower of Gandhi from India, there once he noted that this business perfectly represented the principal Swadeshi of Gandhi, “the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign.” In economic terms for Amaranth Café “it is the insistence on the use of local goods made by local communities and in one’s own country, and preferably hand-made or home grown.” Now is that not the opposite of Wal-Mart.

To me Amaranth and its off spring operations represent to me the principle of Subsidiarity which is “an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.” Wal-Mart is centrally owned and controlled.

One of the areas family owners of Wal-Mart have over owners of Amaranth is monthly. It is estimated that the Walton family is collectively worth about 92 billion dollars as of December, 2011. I do not think the owners of Amaranth can even come to a fraction of that wealth. However, I do not go into Wal-Mart unless in service of friend but I cannot wait to take friends to Amaranth Café.


back to top

Spirit of Haiti: Money Cannot Buy or Destroy - Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Amid all the hype of the Iowa Caucus today I received a long awaited article about a report put out by Bill Quigley,a companion on the SOA delegation to Haiti, about where the money went in Haiti. The article in Common Dreams was called Haiti, Seven Places Where Earthquake Money Did and Not Go.

When we saw the present conditions in Haiti the obvious question for us and the people of Haiti was “Where did money go”?. This article gives part of the answer. Stay tuned for more.

As I said on these postings and others of the delegation had said on the on Haiti web page, Haiti Return to Slavery or Freedom we were deeply affected from our experience by the people of Haiti. They are Not the lazy, dependent persons as they are presented in the press but a kind, gentle people who have suffered greatly by other nations seeking their wealth.

My friend in Haiti Daniel Tillas is from the poorest area of Haiti Cite Soleil. He is now one of the best translators in Haiti, owner of a few small businesses and director of peace school for youth in Cite Soleil. His Christmas family letter is full of gratitude to all his friends. He says: “The last two years in my life have taught me something really precious: WE ARE NEIGHBOURS.” This is the spirit of the people of Haiti. No matter how poor they are, how they are used by others, they possess a spirit of being neighbor to everyone, in the truest and most sincere way. Seeing all the poverty and repression they face, seeing the extreme poverty of the people and how they have been used over and over again, ever since they became the first country to free themselves of slavery, it is a beautiful sight to see people full of hope, love and a deep faith.

There is a spirit in Haiti that money cannot buy or destroy. God Bless the People of Haiti.


back to top

Pulaski Band or Commercial? - Monday, January 02, 2012

Pulaski Band in Pulaski
Days Parade

My grandchildren were delighted that the high school band from Pulaski, the school district where they attend middle and grade school, was to march in the Rose Bowl parade today. Rather than watch the two hour TV coverage of the parade we taped it on our DVR. But before we could go look for the Pulaski band our grandson wrote on his Facebook page that the Pulaski band did not appear on TV. I guess a commercial break was a priority over this small town band.

Life is like that, what is important to us might not be important to commercial interest. In a bigger picture a symbol of this corporate control of the USA was the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 that infamously decreed corporations had constitutional rights, the same as persons and that money was ‘free speech.’ Attempts to amend the constitution to reverse this decision have spread throughout the country. Today I read an article that the Montana High Court Says ‘Citizens United’ Does Not Apply In Big Sky State.

Overthrowing the corporate control of our lives in the USA will be a true revolution. The Occupy Wall Street movement has made a good start but will this nonviolent effort be able to sustain once it is ignored, co-opted and marginalized. In a true revolution, violent or nonviolent, participants need to make true sacrifices and be disciplined. Will those who seek change being willing to suffer and keep together despite attempts to divide them?

2012 will answer this question if there will be a true revolution in the USA going back to the values that made this country great, equality, opportunity and struggle for the common good. Or will the Empire of the USA continue to decline. We can wait and see or “be the change we want to see.” Will we see the Pulaski Band or the commercial?


back to top

Awareness and Action - Sunday, January 01, 2012

A Plus by Peter Graf

It is hard to believe that I started the Diary of Worm postings six years ago in January, 2006. I will need to slow down some time this year to read over some of these postings. But in the meanwhile I will need to renew some of my New Year resolutions of the past. Some are personal, like eating healthy and less and exercising more to lose weight; and some are public like to stop the teaching of war and killing without conscience at Marquette University, the local Catholic Jesuit University. There are always the old standards like more disciple, reading and meditation.

The key to any change in life, I believe, is conscious awareness. When we are really awake and conscious of our actions we are truly ourselves and can make changes in our behavior. Part of the reason for this observation diary of the worm is to make myself more aware of the life around me, to see deeply into even small everyday life. Change follows awareness.

After the liturgy this morning someone made an announcement that was really a statement of how prison camps for Japanese and some Germans were created for World War II, how labor unions were formed with hard fought struggles and now how the President Obama signed yesterday the National Defense Authorization Bill which among many violent things allows US citizens to be held without due process by the government. Hopefully this person provoked some new awareness of the dangerous times we live in when the government is not serving the common good as much as centralizing its power over individuals. The question is when will people be awake enough to hear this message.

I read an article today from a young Catholic Worker how there are all forms of violence, like words, outside of physical violence. This is so true but she forgot to mention one of the most harmful forms of violence these days, keeping silent and ignoring the inconvenient messages. If we see and hear the truths of everyday life we would need to act and speak out. Breaking the Silence would not be a choice.

So awareness and action is where it is at to make change and be the difference.


back to top

back to top


Page last modified on December 07, 2012

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