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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

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The Way of Jesus to the Nonviolent Kingdom of God - Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yesterday and today I attended a workshop by John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar and historian of early Christianity, on the “Power of Parables”. Our minds were filled with many thoughts about historical Jesus, parables and Jesus as the son or heir of God who shows how to build the Kingdom of God on earth. But the most meaningful thought I came away from the workshop is how the Way of Jesus, as he presented it in his life and message, was the way of nonviolence.

The nonviolence of Jesus was in sharp contrast to the prevailing way to peace in his time. The Augustan Peace of the Roman Empire was based on violence, victory and control. Now we would call it “peace thru strength.” Jesus’ way of nonviolence was peace by justice. The way to Peace for Jesus is not violence, that history teaches us only breeds more violence, but peace by doing justice. This was a radical, revolutionary view for Jesus’ time as it is now.

Jesus was crucified by Romans precisely because the Romans knew the danger to peace of Rome, Pax Roma. Jesus crime was displayed on the Cross by the initials INRI, “Jesus of Nazareth King of Jews”. The way of Jesus by doing justice was a threat to Roman peace by victory and control by war and violence. Jesus’ followers were not rounded up and killed because it was the practice by Jesus of his message that was the threat to Roman Empire.

I always thought of Jesus as the teacher of nonviolence but it was good to get more of a scriptural foundation for the nonviolent Jesus and nonviolent Kingdom of God. Also I was glad to learn more about parables, a metaphorical story, and how to look as parables, based on historical persons and events. The Bible, Old and New Testament, are full of parables that if we understand the “matrix”, context, time and place they were written in gives us a more complete understanding of the Gospel, good news, of Jesus.

Many more thoughts are wondering my mind but for now I must reflect and digest them and learn more of the Way of Jesus and the practice of nonviolence. The nonviolent Kingdom of God is here if we have “eyes to see it and ears to hear it”. Jesus shows us the way to the Nonviolent Kingdom of God.


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Day Lilly’s Day - Friday, June 29, 2012

Day Lilly’s Day

This is Friday’s posting and I am continuing pictures not words for yesterday and today. Here is the picture posting, on the side and below.

Day Lilly’s are beautiful but they have a short life span. It is said that Day Lilly’s have one day of full bloom, thus called Day Lilies. Thursday, yesterday, was this Day Lilly’s Day.


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Hot and Water - Thursday, June 28, 2012

Watering Today

I have decided to take tonight and tomorrow night off from writing this daily posting on the Diary of the Worm. But I do have pictures. Today is from my front yard when early this eve I turned on the sprinkler in the front yard to water my vegetable and rain gardens and noticed my neighbor next door was watering his grass.

News has been full of stories from the fires in Colorado and the floods in Florida. In one case there is too much heat from fires and in the other too much water from rain. Too bad we cannot just transfer the water form Florida to the fires in Colorado. Picture of garden on side and bigger below.


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Day Lilly’s Day - Thursday, June 28, 2012

(:redirect [[DiaryOfAWorm.20120629-DayLilyDay]]:)


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Hope Renews Itself in Ecuador - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SOA Watch Lisa Sullivan (left)
with SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy
Bourgeois meet with Ecuadoran
President Rafael Correa

Sometimes in the struggle for justice and peace you can get down, feeling there is just too much happening - militarism in our schools, the increased use of Killer Drones, the movement of money and resources of the local Catholic Church away from neighbors of those most in need and violence in our city and in our world. Sometimes, like today, I am tempted to say ‘no more’; I want to know no more.

But at these low moments there is also a ray of hope. Today I received a notice from SOAWatch that the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, announced that Ecuador will no longer send its soldiers to the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC). SOA, at Fort Benning and Columbus, has been a symbol of training military in Latin American for the militarization of the Americas. It has been called the School of Assassins for all the death and torture of liberation forces in Latin America. There are other countries in South American that have announced they would not send their soldiers to SOA, but today was a big announcement.

I am proud to call the two persons in the picture from SOAWatch in the picture, Lisa Sullivan and Roy Bourgeois, friends. They are both optimistic people that have given me strength and hope in my personal struggles to keep on ‘seeking the truth.’ I have been blessed to know persons here in Milwaukee, around the USA and the world that are just good persons and who share the same passion for justice and peace that many of us do.

I was proud to drive one of them today to a clinic for a MRI, an ordinary person who has, in his own right, done extraordinary things. I am having lunch tomorrow with an African-American woman who has lived through all the racial tensions in the Catholic Church in Milwaukee. I have heard from a few friends today by email who struggle with the same vision.

I am saying all this not to name drop but to say if we are seeking justice and peace we will find other persons on the same quest. Together we can make peace and justice one step at a time. This morning it was at a meeting in Ecuador when Lisa and Roy met with the president and his staff. Hope renews itself each day. Today it was in Ecuador and here.


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Silence is a Response - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Whenever I get an email or someone says something to me I feel a need to respond. A thoughtful response is sometimes the right thing to do and sometimes it is not. Silence is a Response.

Silence can be a good thing or bad thing. The Christian Church silence to Hitler’s war gave them creditability. A few did break the silence and suffered for it.

When someone insults or demeanizes you it is best often to take it in silence. A response, or even worse a reaction, often gives the insult more creditability. In this case silence speaks louder than words.

I have praised silence but often violated it. Asking myself why, I found myself thinking how difficult it is to keep silence in a noisy world. When someone offends you with words it seems normal to defend oneself in words. But silence is more natural and effective, although it does hurt.

When I was a young sale person going from business to business with my product in a town in Wisconsin I was greeted by one business owner with screams of anger and much profanity. I just stood there in silence as he went on and on. Finally he caught himself, noticed other customers were watching him and felt embarrassed for his treatment of me which I met with silence. Eventually we talked and he ended up purchasing my product.

When we are praying at Marquette University for peace and to stop military training on campus, people walked by giving us insults or sometimes the finger. I was tempted to speak up and sometimes did. But I feel I am more effective in that situation when I am silent and continue to pray.

People are quick to respond to your response but give them a dose of silence and they are lost. Silence is a Response.


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Blessed Are The Poor! - Monday, June 25, 2012

Children of Haiti

As I get older I understand Jesus’ sayings of how hard it is for the rich to get to heaven and how blessed are the poor. As I quoted Saint Caesarius of Arles (470–543) in the posting the other day, “Where our money is, there too is our heart.”

Being in between, the dying Middle Class, I know people rich and poor, although many more are poor than rich. The few rich persons I know have been very generous in their giving of time and money to those in need. The poor I know are blessed when they are detached from the desire to be rich. We, in the in between class, need to decide if we desire to be rich or poor. The great majority of us desire to be rich but a few of us have experienced the joy and peace of the poor and look that way.

It is easier to be poor and feel blessed in other countries outside of the USA where the myth of we can be rich if only we desire and work for it, makes no sense. When you are seeking to survive anything you receive is deeply appreciated. The rich never seem to get enough of anything and want more and more.

My friends in need who are detached from unruly desires to be rich are truly blessed. And when I am with them as a friend their blessings overflow to me. When people make a lot of a simple work of mercy, giving a ride to someone to see a Doctor, I remind them the person doing the work of mercy is being blessed.

In this country where the ‘rich are getting richer’ and the ‘poor are getting poorer’ at a more and more rapid pace it is necessary to say money is good but where we put our money is where our heart is. Yes it is easier to be poor and blessed than rich and blessed. Now if I can only get my Catholic Church to understand this. Jesus, where are you with your message, “blessed are the poor”, when we need you?


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Capitalism Or Silence - Sunday, June 24, 2012

The harvest from the garden was good today, kale, lettuce, mint and chives. However, my worm harvesting this year seems to be off. With the worm box and worm depository worms are supposed to multiply. However, I did not notice much of that this year so far. Worm population seems to be low and I may need a boost by bringing in some outside read worms. I am not sure why this happens, lack of food, water or heat but have had this problem in the past. Worms, besides eating and casting off valuable castings, poop, are supposed to multiply. I will need to talk about this disappearing worm stuff with someone who knows.

Worms are essential to the good growth of the garden in a very small area. Castings are extremely valuable, natural and organic, fertilizer that works.

At our Faith in Recovery group this morning, our faith sharing group around health issues of the mind, I was talking about the value of silence in life. It makes me think how silence is like worm castings, adding richness to the present moment of life. In silence we can see and hear the present where with noise we get distracted with the past or future.

We watched tonight a TV version of the book “Shock Doctrine, where the author, Naomi Klein, explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. In fact the “free market” policies have come to dominate the world— through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

In many ways ‘free market capitalism’ is the opposite of castings and silence. Free market capitalism instead of releasing nutrients in the soil, removes wealth of the many to put it in the hands of the few. Free market capitalism creates fear and noise so we do not act in silence with thought and reflection.


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Where Our Money is, There Too is Our Heart. - Saturday, June 23, 2012

One of my personal campaigns is to see the proceeds of the sale of the property of our former Church, Blessed Trinity, go to the poor and needy in the North Central neighborhood where it is existed. Now that the sale of the properties is complete giving the money to service those in need in the area is not so simple. A new Catholic Church owns the sale proceeds and it itself is joining forces with another Church even further away from the neighborhood of the original Church that was created back in 1897. Some on the parish council member think they are the ‘decision makers’ but in the reality of Church law is they are only a ‘consultative’. As I mentioned in last night’s posting the Corporation Board of the parish which the Archbishop is President, the Pastor and Vicar General (clergy) and two lay trustees make all major financial decisions.

Today I received a quote from a fifth century monk’s sermon about how to give. I will need to past this on to the parish council and Corporation Board and it makes sense for all of us who try to follow Christ command to give whatever we can to the poor and needy.

God accepts our offerings of money and is pleased with the gifts we make to the poor, but on one condition: that every sinner, when offering God his money, should offer him his soul at the same time… When our Lord says: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (Mk 12, 17), what does he seem to say but: “Just as you repay Caesar with his own image on a coin so repay God with the image of God within yourselves” (cf. Gn 1, 26)…

That is why, as we have already said on numerous occasions, when we hand out money to the poor let us offer our souls to God so that, where our treasure is, there our heart may also be. Indeed, why does God ask us to give money? Unquestionably because he knows the special love we have for it, that we are always thinking about it and that, where our money is, there too is our heart. That is why God urges us to make up our treasure in heaven by making gifts of it to the poor; it is so that our hearts may follow where we have already sent our treasure and that, when the priest says: “Lift up your hearts” we may answer with peaceful conscience: “We lift them up to the Lord.” — Saint Caesarius of Arles (470–543), monk and bishop, Sermon 32, 1–3; SC 243


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Patterns of Paternalism and Segregation - Friday, June 22, 2012

When it was announced a few years ago that our Catholic Church on the north side would be closed unless we made some changes, what went unsaid was that there was nothing we can do to stop the closing of the Church. When the parish council of the Church said the money from the proceeds of the sale of church property and the two trust funds our church controlled from previous closed churches, should be use to serve the people of the neighborhood everyone smiled and said that is nice.

Now the Church property is sold and the proceeds and the two trust funds are at the church that was assigned as the inheritor of these funds. They just sit there, nearly a million dollars, while the poor and needy in the neighborhood of the old church and new church go without basic needs like beds, stove or refrigerator. The new parish council thinks they are deciding but like the one in the previous church they have not much to say.

The old and new Church are both owned by a Corporation Board which composed of the Archbishop of Milwaukee, the pastor of the church, another clergy persons and two lay trustees appointed by the pastor. These three old white male clergy will decided or perhaps already have and we just do not know it.

Reading the history of the Catholic Church I have found it interesting that this pattern of those who know better, or paternalism, has been around for many years. In fact it was the paternalism and segregation of the white male clergy that is response for the poorest part of the city and the most segregated with over an 85% African American population has been kept devoid of the Catholic Church making a difference in life of poor and African American.

The Catholic Church can preach the ‘preferential option for the poor” but it is just words as the million dollars or so of our old Catholic Church sits in a bank account and the parish council of the church assigned the money thinks it has something to say about its use.

Patterns of paternalism and segregation go on and on. When will we ever learn?


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The Military is Like a Wild Sunflower - Thursday, June 21, 2012

Invasive Wild Sunflowers
taking over Rain Garden

The Military is like the Wisconsin Wild Sunflowers that grow in my rain garden. They are both attractive but invasive. When I first planted this wild sunflowers in my rain garden I thought they, being tall with small yellow flower, would make for good edging for back of rain garden and on one side. It was not till the second year or so that I realized the sunflowers were invasive and taking over the whole rain garden. They spread not by dropping seeds onto the ground but by an under the ground connected root system. Finally I had to build an underground brick wall on one side, next to my neighbor’s driveway and put out by the roots the rest. They manage to spread here and there but if I put out all the roots of the sunflowers I can keep them in the designated area. They are an attractive flower but unless controlled they will kill all the other plants.

The military is attractive to young men and women, the sense of adventure, travel and protecting the freedom of our country seems appealing. We are protecting our selves, self defense, is appealing to young persons, especially when the part of the brain in which we consider consequences and risk is not fully developed to about age of 25. (See Neuroscience of Nonviolence slide show).

A mother wrote me today about an argument she has regularly with her pro-military son who brings up the “self defense”. Logically it does not make sense that we are more secure by killing people, many innocent, in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, it could be argued the world is more dangerous since our response after 9/11 was not to go after the criminals who committed crime but to wage wars in the Middle East. However, like the wild sunflower, logic is not the governing force when you plant the bulbs. Like a wild sunflower that grows and spreads, the more the military inflicts damage and killing on people who are of no danger to us, the more need there is for the military to be invasive, everywhere to keep us safe from the growing number of enemies we make.

Roots of military violence like roots of the wild sunflower just grow and spread. The only way to stop the spread of militarism in our country is to take it by the roots and eliminate it and keep it contained to a narrow area of self defense. War is hell but sold to us as necessary for self defense. How do we root our militarism in our society? I do not know but sense it starts with education. Our schools need to teach that the military like a wild sunflower is attractive but unless limited will spread and kill everything else in the garden of life.


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You Say It is Too Heavy - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The weatherman says it will be cooler, no more of this 90’s stuff, for awhile, as summer starts. I am glad it will be cooler since working in the garden on such hot days, as the last few, is hard for an older guy like me.

Weather changes and is timely but there seems to be some things that are timeless and unchanging. My friend, Jim Forest in Holland, sent me today a quote from St. Cosmas of Ætolia, an 18th century martyr, with timeless thought. There is more about St. Cosmas below the quote but here is the quote that is valid in the 18th century, today, and in hot or cold weather:

“If you want to find perfect love, go sell all your belongings, give them to the poor, go where you find a master and become a slave. Can you do this and be perfect?

“You say this is too heavy? Then do something else. Don’t sell yourself as a slave. Just sell your belongings and give them all to the poor. Can you do it? Or do you find this too heavy a task?

“All right, you cannot give away all your belongings. Then give half, or a third, or a fifth. Is even this too heavy? Then give one tenth. Can you do that? Is it still too heavy?

“How about this? Don’t sell yourself as slave. Don’t give a penny to the poor. Only do this. Don’t take your poor brother’s coat, don’t take his bread, don’t persecute him, don’t eat him alive. If you don’t want to do him any good, at least do him no harm. Just leave him alone. Is this also too heavy?

“You say you want to be saved. But how? How can we be saved if everything we are called to do is too heavy? We descend and descend until there is no place further down. God is merciful, yes, but he also has an iron rod.”

— St. Cosmas of Ætolia, 18th century martyr

St. Cosmas was born in Mega Dendron in Ætolia in 1714. He became a monk and lived on Mt. Athos for many years, but became dismayed by the lack of knowledge of the Gospel among Orthodox people living under Turkish domination. So he studied rhetoric in Constantinople and received a blessing from Patriarch Seraphim II to go about preaching the Gospel. He preached in Macedonia, Serbia, Albania & Greece and established schools. Not only Christians came to hear him, but many Muslims as well. He was known to be a very holy man. He always sought the blessing of the local Orthodox Bishop before he preached in an area, as well as that of the Turkish authorities. His preaching against dishonest business practices and oppression of the poor raised the ire of businessmen, both Orthodox Christian and Jewish, who falsely accused him to the Turkish authorities. The Turks strangled him and threw his body into a river in Albania. That was on August 24, 1779. He was 65. His relics were preserved, however, and have been working wonders since. He is considered to be an Equal to the Apostles.


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More Lemonade, Less Salutes - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Children in Starbase

I noticed today that the children two houses up the block had a lemonade stand in front of the house by the street. It was a hot day, good for a lemonade stand, but our stretch of Wells St. has little little traffic except during drive time when suburbanites race up and down our block going home or going to the expressway. I ventured out of my air conditioned house to get lemonade.
The mother of the family was outside. I knew the family had sold the house and was moving to Singapore. The mother and three children, age’s five to 10, are of Malaysian descent but it was the American father that got the job promotion that motivated the move. In Singapore, I understand, he will be only a few hours or so away from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines where his business operates. Talking with the Mom, I learned that Singapore was an independent island city/state near the equator. I heard a lot about Singapore but until this evening was not too aware of its history or culture.
The mother said how it will be a big change for the three children, especially in going to school.

The oldest child is going into fifth grade, the same grade that the Department of Defense Starbase military training program will start in the Milwaukee Public Schools next year. Selling lemonade on the sidewalk and going to a military base from school one day a week is also a big change, something this child will not have to face.

The shock of the Milwaukee Public Schools signing a contract with Department of Defense for the Starbase program is slowly making its way into the consciousness of Milwaukee residents. The Starbase program is aimed at ‘children at risk’, code words for minority and low income children. The military in the USA spends a lot of money on children, youth and young adults in our education system, if not to recruit them into the military at least to present them with a positive image so we salute the role the military plays in this country and around the world. Our country spends more money on the military, whose object is to effectively inflict death and injury on the enemy, than all the other militaries in the world combined.

My neighboring children are not “at risk” and so would not be presented with the glorification of the military option in education. However, I discovered that Singapore, like the USA and many countries has built its security on military might and one of every four dollars the country spends is on the military.

Exposing children, youth and young adults who are developing their minds to military might is what I believe Jesus was talking about in the Gospel when after saying to enter the kingdom of God we must be like children and then warns: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Children need more lemonade stands and less military salutes.


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Stop Starbase! - Monday, June 18, 2012

DoD Starbase program

With Messmer Catholic High School reconsidering a contract with Department of Defense for a high school military program and with Marquette University showing signs of listening to our plea to Teach War No More there seemed to be hope that demilitarizing education in Milwaukee was gaining some attention. But on TV news tonight we heard the Department of Defense has signed a contract with the Milwaukee Public School system for it’s Starbase program. The vision of Starbase is: “To raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which will provide for a highly educated and skilled American workforce that can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense.” Starbase in Milwaukee will start as a program for 5th graders. The first year it will take about 1500 students out of the classroom and to the National Guard Military base once a week for five weeks.

The news talk about the Starbase military program in Milwaukee was about ‘at risk’ students working on rockets and all kinds of interesting stuff.
Struggling with the military for the hearts and minds of our youth is a difficult challenge. In Egypt and many countries the struggle between the military and the people is clear. In the USA many do not see any struggle and, in fact, take pride in the military being interwoven in our daily lives.

This morning Father Roy Bourgeois, leader of SOAWatch returned my call. The mission of SOAWatch is to close the US Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, GA, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. This School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Soldiers are trained in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at this School of Assassins.

I had called him last weekend when I was feeling discouraged about our efforts to stop “teaching war” in our education system in Milwaukee. By telling me his own stories of struggle to act on his own conscience and by his uplifting voice he encouraged me to be persistent in breaking the silence on the militarization of our society, particularly here in Milwaukee in our education system.

The Department of Defense, USA military, has, with Starbase, opened up another front in the struggle for the minds and hearts of youth in Milwaukee. Do we take the defensive or be silent? I think in conscience we have no choice but to Break the Silence and work to Stop Starbase.


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All Sports Out - Sunday, June 17, 2012

Today, Father’s Day, I got all sports out watching TV. Between watching parts of the 15 inning Brewer baseball game, the finals of the US open golf tournament and game 3 of the NBA basketball finals I did some other things, worked in the garden, read, enjoyed a nice dinner made by Pat, my wife, took some Father Day calls from my son and African nieces. However, spectacular sports did seem to dominate the day and left me all sports out.

Although today was an extreme sports watching day for me, I do find, as I become older spectator sports on TV or radio have more appeal to me. Maybe as young people listen to music in the background as they do their homework or other things old white guys watch sports in the background as they read the paper or do other things.

Passive things like watching sports on TV have some appeal when you are feeling down and just want something exciting but not too meaningful to view.

When I was young, participating in sports as a child, young man or as a father was important to me for recreation. I really did not follow spectator sports much. But now even the slow game of golf on TV seems to have appeal.

Watching sports on TV is not ‘doing nothing’ which I sometime joke as what I would like to do, but it sure comes close. Also in some strange way I find it more interesting to watch or hear news, especially political news which seems to be a more major distraction to living life than watching sports.

Politics, like war, seem to encourage ‘divide and conquer’ while sports seem to be more about working together and winning. Even in individual sports like golf you see the golfer talking with his caddy trying to figure out the best way to approach a shot. Sports are about winning but not gloating or tearing down the opposing players. Politics are about winning and tearing down opposing candidates.

People play politics professionally while others play sports professionally. Too much of any one of the two can be depressing but if it comes to a choice, I take sports over politics. If I have a choice, rather than be all politically worn out I rather be all sports out.


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Ray of Hope - Saturday, June 16, 2012

This morning I was sort of down and found myself calling friends from afar to lift my spirits. They were not answering the phone but at least I felt better that I knew people who were true friends. I wrote a few emails, mostly in response to ones I received but find that emails often lead to more confusion than clarification, especially when it comes to feelings.

Someone from our journey to Haiti last spring wrote our group and I sent out to the same group an inquiry about Daniel Tillas, our guide and friend in Haiti. I sent a copy to Daniel and he wrote back saying our busy he has been the last few months but how he still hope to make it this way someday and check out Growing Power. Daniel has a garden for the youth in Cite Soleil, one of the poorest areas of Haiti called the Tap Tap garden. Tap Tap comes from the sound you make taping your food on the floor in the back of trucks used for transportation when you want it to stop and let you off.

On a hot humid day like today I think often of Haiti. There it is much hotter and humid and there is no air conditioned house or store to step into. Here it is hard to work in the garden for a period of time on hot days but the people of Haiti would be glad to work on any job on any hot, humid day. Despite all the press Haiti got after the earthquake a few years ago it remains still the poorest country in the world and one that has been reduced to near slavery by hands of USA and other powers. How the people of Haiti keep hope alive and are so loveable is hard to imagine and gives me hope and smile on an inner dark day like today. In the darkness of today’s world the people of Haiti, poor and oppressed, remain a ray of hope and blessings.


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True Friends, No, “Do Your Own Thing” - Friday, June 15, 2012

Friends Doing Nothing

The other day I was driving a friend to pick up some things. She said she could have had some other person drive her but decided on me. I asked her why and she, a very private and independent person, said that I was a friend who would not take advantage of our friendship.

Another friend and I have this routine that when he calls I joked with him about calling “for no good reason”. It is our way of saying that we help each other out in a time of need but still are friends, even if there is “no good reason” for calling on each other.

A third friend came over today to pick up something and I felt free to tell him of some problems I have been facing recently. I felt free to talk to him knowing that he would understand and not be judgmental.

Another friend, at least, I thought was a friend, wrote me a note that he was not going to argue with me. I had asked him for clarification on some statement he made and he took it, I guess, as arguing.

The common thread here is that true friendship is unconditional. Friends do things for each other just because that is what friends do. There is no exchange of “tit for tat”. If friends disagree they discuss their disagreements civilly. True friendship seems simple and it is. It is only in a world where as one person I had called a friend said, “You do your thing and I do my thing” is true friendship difficult.

I feel blessed to have a number of true friends, some I see and communicate a lot with, and some I do not. True friends seek out opportunities to be together and work together. “Do your thing” has no meaning with true friends.


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Nature Heals - Thursday, June 14, 2012

Here are some thoughts about nature that came to me after working in my front yard gardens today. After a terrible storm or wildfire nature heals itself, if humans allow it to be so. Nature is forgiving, even if humans makes the same mistake over and over again on Nature. Humans mistreat nature and pay for it by events like the great flood in New Orleans a few years back. Nature is adaptable to an extreme point but can be broken after extreme misuse. Nature had mastery over humans, now humans seem to have mastery over Nature. Humans cannot create Nature but certainly can destroy it.

There is a picture quote by Joseph Campbell that sums up some of these thoughts: “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat to match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” I think the world would be a better place if would match our nature with Nature.

Protesting outside a gun shop today a passerby was arguing with us saying it is human nature to be violent and thus we needed guns to protect ourselves against other humans. This would be somewhat true if human nature was the same as the nature of animals. But it is not. We have self consciousness and awareness and do not just operate with our instincts. When someone attacks us or someone we love we naturally defend ourselves or our loved ones. If we have a gun and work on basic instincts, we probably would just shoot the attacking person. However, if the threat is not serious and we are aware of the situation there may be many ways to stop the violence. In fact, as Mahatma Gandhi says “Violence always thrives on counter violence.”

The same, I discovered, could be said about violent words toward a person. If the person reacts to violent words with violent words it just feeds the violence and results in more violence.

When nature suffers violence, like after a storm or fire, it does react with counter violence. Nature naturally seeks to heal itself. We can learn from nature that when we suffer violence of words or actions to be like nature and heal oneself.


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Working in the Garden - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today I spent two hours working in my gardens, mostly in the backyard. During that time two friends called me and asked me what I was doing. I was glad to report that I was working in the garden. Working in the garden is still a good way for me to slow down and see life in perspective. The weather being in the 70’s today I was able to get a lot of work done. Since garden work is endless I still have more to do but felt good about what I did accomplish.

The energy I spent working in the garden seems refreshing and renewing of my mind, body and spirit. This renewal of energy is true for other activities like cooking but not as true for other activities like emailing or browsing the internet.

Keeping in touch with people by email and internet seems like the thing to do these days. But too much can be harmful for some of us. Emails are words typed without expressing tone of voice, facial expression and cannot be explained except by more emails.

Working in the garden produces food without words. Emails provide words without feelings.

Working in the garden is in silence. Emails are full of noise without speaking.

Emails allow one to keep in touch with lots of friends around the world and the internet provides a wealth of information. Working in the garden is not as exciting as the internet but is more peaceful.

This web site, and this posting Diary of the Worm grew out of my experience with gardening and growing food. If a fraction of the energy spent on emailing and internet was spent on gardening and growing food we would have enough food for everyone and fewer disagreements based on words. Working in the garden can make one healthy and wise.


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Spring Outside, Fall Inside - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It is spring or near the end of spring. On the outside I feel like spring, bright, sunny and energetic. But inside the feeling is more like fall, removing myself from life, declining, a time of harvest and change.

This morning our faith sharing group discussed books we read that we thought were important in life. The majority of the books, I observed, were nonfiction. One person said how when he was young he was told nonfiction books were for the real readers and fiction books were a waste of time. I must admit that I used to read a lot of fiction but in the recent past it has been nonfiction. I do, I must admit, feel guilty about reading novels. I have been listening these days on my phone to the audio recording of “Crime and Punishment” from the library while doing other things. I am enjoying the novel but do feel guilty about taking time to read this great work of fiction.

Spring and summer are a time of imagination, wonder and growth. Fall and winter are times of slowing down, not wasting time and striving forward. So my outsides are saying it is spring, a time of growth, while my insides are saying it is fall, a time of dying and slowing down. My insides say slow down and read, even fiction, but my outsides say keep on doing and going.

Life is a four season event, all at the same time. So it my feel like spring outside and like fall inside but that is just the way it is.


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Like the Lilies in Front Yard - Monday, June 11, 2012

Lilies in my front yard

A few years ago a friend gave me some lilies. These lilies not only come back year after year but they multiply. Now in my front yard and elsewhere I have many lilies growing, all yellow.

Recently I have been trying to detach myself from various issues of justice and peace I have been working on. I am not trying to deny them, be silent about them or even stop working on them, just to detach myself, in a good way, from them. It is good to be concern but we need to step back sometimes, not to be inactive or silent, but to see the issue in perspective.

One of the reasons I took Bobsyouruncle as my email handle is that it is a slang English phrase meaning “all is well” or “there you have it” or in American English we might say “don’t worry, be happy.”

Another way to say all of this comes from the Gospel. A similar meaning is used by Jesus when talking to his disciples not to worry about life or “what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it.” Jesus says: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” (Luke 12: 26–28).

So today when I was trying to detach myself from meaningful issues all I had to do is to look outside and be like the lilies growing in my front yard.


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No More Just War - Sunday, June 10, 2012

Civilians killed in today’s war

Again last week the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan had to apologize for killing civilians. The air strike was intended to kill Taliban soldiers but killed 18 women, children and old men who had gathered for a wedding party.

Recently I read a brief article by a student getting his PhD in moral theology at Marquette University about the “just war theory of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and how it may apply today. St. Augustine lived in the 4th century and St. Thomas Aquinas in the 14th century. However, he failed to mention that the word ‘war’ had a whole other meaning in the 4th and 13th century. War was basically hand to hand combat. There were no automatic weapons or even guns, no bombs, airplanes, missiles or drones. To take a theory of war from a time when war was not the same as modern war seems absurd. However, even President Obama, according to a recent New York Times article uses the just war theory of St. Augustine and St. Thomas to justify his secret “kill list.’’

Some years ago I heard a retired Philosophy of ethics teacher at Marquette University describe the just war theory as being exploded with the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima. I have a friend who says to be a true Christian, follower of Christ, you cannot justify any war or killing. I thought his view extreme but as I see more and more senseless killings on our city streets and more killing of civilians and wounds and suicides of our soldiers I tend to turn more and more in this direction.

I call myself a ‘want to be pacifist’ , one who opposes war and violence. However the more I see how war and violence only leads to more war and violence and find no justification for modern ‘war’ as we know it, I find myself moving to my friend’s position seeing all war and violence opposes the teaching and practice of the Way of Jesus. There is No More Just War.


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Cousins at Play - Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cousins at Play

This morning we went to the Baptism of Lochlan Cullen, the 22nd, so we think, grandchild of our friends Michael and Nettie Cullen, co-founders of the local Catholic Worker house in Milwaukee, Casa Maria. I met Michael and Nettie when they had two children and were just starting the Catholic Worker house of hospitality on 21st. Michael, as well as I, was part of the Milwaukee 14 nonviolent action destroying selective service 1-A records. We both went to prison but Michael was deported since he was an Irish citizen. By the time they left Milwaukee for Ireland, which everyone thought would be a brief period, they had four children. However when they returned, 17 years later they had 12 children. As the children grew up, were educated and were married they had children. So now baby Lochlan has 21 Cullen cousins with more on the way. Lochlan mother is from another former Catholic Worker family who are our friends and has a number of cousins also on that side of the family. Many of the cousins ranging in age from 6 months to 17 years old were in Church.

Michael is now a Deacon in the Catholic Church and performed the baptism in a splendor and style, with a bit of the Irish coming out. After the baptism in Church we all went over to park to have a grand picnic in the park. There was lots of good food, many good people and lots of children, many of them cousins. It was a great joy for me seeing the children enjoying the food and play, each other and the attention adults were giving them.

Going to the baptism and picnic my mind was crowded with thoughts, concerns about people, worry of what people may think of me and so much more. After the baptism and the picnic and the experience of so many innocent children enjoying the present many of my worries disappeared.

I did not want to leave the picnic but had promised a friend to help him in a small task at his house. We left but the spirit of the Baptism of Lochlan and the children at play lives on in me.


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Salad Bowl Friends Part 3 - Friday, June 08, 2012

Some days I feel my life is directed by friends and it feels good. Joining friends in a prayer vigils this morning, answering friends emails, driving a friend to visit his mother in a nursing home, going with a friend on home visits to persons in need, having coffee with a friend and having dinner with my best friend, my wife, all happened today. The down side of all this dealing with friends is that it did not leave much time to work on my home gardens.

Many years ago, February 2007, I wrote a posting on the Diary of Worm called Salad Bowl Friends. In it I wrote: “The salad bowl is an endless network of friends who are united by the zest for life. While keeping their unique diversity, together they are Growing Power. Watch out world, here comes the nonviolent revolution of salad green friends!”

Having a day with friends, ‘salad bowl friends’ was wonderful. However, there would have been no salad greens from our garden for dinner tonight without work on the garden. The garden is the balance to being with friends. Working in the garden is a silent time that that is needed to being fully alive with friends.


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Scapegoat - Thursday, June 07, 2012

Sinbad the Scapegoat

Scapegoats, an individual or group singled out for unmerited negative treatment or blame, have been with us since the 24th century B.C. We have many ‘scapegoats’ in our society. I have known persons who felt like a scapegoat but until recently have not felt that way about myself. Now I do.

Recently persons have blamed me for Messmer Catholic High school contracting with the Department of Defense and for the lack of resistance to military at Marquette University despite my strong stand on militarizing our education system. Today I got an email from a group that I have been aligned with for 45 years saying they could not work with me any longer and used a stigma of me to justify it. Whenever I receive such scapegoating I reflect on my actions and conscience. I know that I have faults but cannot let scapegoating or stigmatization stop me from saying and acting on my conscience.

When I receive such criticism I always asked for an example of what I did, an dialog of what is wrong with my beliefs and conscience or recompilation. Seldom do I receive any of these but usually more scapegoating or stigmatizing. People seem more interested in attacking the messenger than the message.

However, as a scapegoat I have learned not to play into the stigmatizing but just ignore it. To do this and not encourage the scapegoating by reacting to it is difficult to do. Being a scapegoat in life is hard. But someone needs to do it.


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One Person Revolution - Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Occupy Milwaukee Rally Today

Today as we remember D Day I am reminded how much we lost control of our military. General Eisenhower who led the D Day forces in his farewell address as President warned us about the “military industrial complex”. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” Eisenhower warned. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

What he did not know in the 50’s was the military would invade the corporate powers and education in our USA. What he warned us about we would now be called the “military, corporate, educational complex.” Our universities are now military officer training schools and our middle and high schools now are recruiting and preparatory system for the enlisted soldiers.

This afternoon I went to an ‘Occupy Milwaukee’ day after the recall election rally and March. After all the PR and flyers about the event I was surprised by the small crowd, about 100 persons. However, they did attract all four major TV stations. Old and new peace activist spoke at the rally with the same old and tired slogans and calls for change. I left when the march begun and was surprised when I heard on news tonight that a few persons were arrested for blocking traffic.

I still have hope for the ‘Occupy Movement’ but what I saw and experienced today does not represent the “99 percent” they claim to represent. I fear that it will take another serious financial and political crisis before enough persons wake up and see that revolutionary change begins with a change of heart and a refusal to go along with an unjust efforts and it is not enough to vote and talk about change. Ammon Hennacy of the Catholic Worker talked about the “One Man (Person) Revolution” just doing the right thing no matter what.


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Roses are Pink - Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Roses are Pink, Money is Green
Vote in a Blink, Nothing Glean

I voted today, so what? The candidate, Governor Walker, who outspent the candidate, Mayor Barrett. by 27 million dollars won the recall election. This is no surprise since the candidate with the most money wins about 94% of the time win but with this much money difference the percent is probably even higher.

I voted because my wife, family and friends said it was important. I did not think so but voted anyway since walking to the nearby school and voting is easy. Voting is what, some say on sides of the whole political spectrum, our soldiers died for. Even in his concession speech the Mayor said that voting is what democracy is all about.

I have red, white and pink roses growing in my home gardens. The pink rose bush in front of the house is the most beautiful one of all in my eyes at the present. It is in full bloom. Rose bushes bloom due to good stock, good soil, the right weather and lots of personal care. The most expensive rose bush is not always the winner of the one with the most beautiful roses.

In a real democracy people would not vote based on who has the most TV ads, the most money and can say the most negative things about his or her competition.

In absence of real democracy we need to grow democracy like we grow roses. We need to vote with our feet, our protest of injustice, nonviolent actions on behalf of the right thing. We cannot settle for a vote of the “least objectionable candidate” usually one of only two.

In the last week our present President ordered drone strikes on Pakistan killing some terrorist on his ‘kill list’ and a number of civilians. Yet many will vote for him this fall because he is the least objectionable candidate. I think he will win since it looks like he will have the most money.

I got more satisfaction today taking a picture of our pink rose bush than I did voting. I would love to vote if we had a real democracy but until then I think I will be content to take care of my pink rose bush and let the voting to others.


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‘Oh by the Way Graduation’ - Monday, June 04, 2012

Carson Graf Graduate

Today I went up to my son’s home to attend my grandson’s 8th grade graduation. I was underwhelmed about how my son’s family played the graduation. My son called it just a ‘promotion’ and my daughter in law was coaching my other grandson’s soccer game right up to the beginning of the graduation ceremony. Even my grandson, Carson, 14, downplayed the event. I guess with the addition of middle school 8th grade graduation has been diminished.

I did feel the excitement of graduation when I walked into a packed gym at the Middle School. With over 250 graduates the gym was full of parents and family members. With some music from the Jazz ensemble with my grandson on percussions, the choir and few student speakers the graduation event went on. My eight year granddaughter was glad we sat near her 2nd grade classmate so she could visit during the ceremony.

Even though it was an ‘Oh by the way graduation’ for the rest of our family, it was a big event for me. My grandson, Carson, is moving on to High School and in life. Congratulations Carson!


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God Our Mother and Our Father - Sunday, June 03, 2012

Holy Trinity Icon

Today at Mass the pastor was talking about the mystery of the Blessed Trinity during his homily. His talking about God the father, God the son and the Holy Spirit made me think how the Church is hung up on women not being equal to men. We all know God is neither male nor female, yet calling God our father and our mother is frowned upon in most Catholic Churches.

If you look at what issues concerns the hierarchy, abortion, birth control, woman’s ordination, homosexuality, women religious and recently the Girl Scouts support of there is a general theme of sex and gender, the gender being denied equality with men is women.

I have a friend, a woman, that was ordained a Catholic priest and the all male hierarchy excommunicated her. I have a friend, a Catholic male priest that in conscience supported women priest and he too is excommunicated by the same males. Most Catholic women use contraceptives as birth control yet the all male Catholic Bishops are suiting the Federal Government for making insurance companies at Catholic institutions provide birth control. Lesbians and Gay persons are considered to have a spiritual defect for being who they are naturally. The religious education system was built on the back of religious women and not they are being criticized for being too concern about social justice and peace issues.

At the beginning of the homily our pastor brought out an icon of the Holy Trinity and put it on a table in the middle of the aisle. He forgot to mention what it was until after the homily. It is a famous Eastern Orthodox Russian icon of the Trinity by Andrey Rublev, created between 1408–25. As my friend explains in his book Praying with Icons an icons are not so much art in the ‘usual sense’ but aids to prayer and contemplation, ‘windows on the divine’.

I was sitting near the Holy Trinity Icon and noticed that the three persons, the one God, depicted in the picture could be male or female. God is our father and our mother and when the Roman Catholic Church all male hierarchy wakes up to this fact the Catholic Church will be renewed and the mystery of Holy Trinity will become clearer.


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Eating Right - Saturday, June 02, 2012

Eating Right

This morning Pat and I went to the final closeout sale at the Share, a non-profit food buying club that is going out of business due to major grocery stores like Wal-Mart making low cost food available in the central city. Naturally food from Wal-Mart’s is not as healthy, not as inexpensive as food from Share but Wal-Mart offers more variety and the food is accessible and cheap. The largest retailer in the world claims another victim, this time a buying club. So we stocked up one last time on some of our favorites at Share, chicken, fruit, vegetables and natural meats from Black Earth, Wisconsin. I will mist Share probably the most for the organic fruits and vegetables I was able to buy, normally considered too expensive for me to justify at natural food stores.

Cooking and eating healthy is becoming easier and more difficult. More difficult because so many foods these day, know or unknown to us, contain things like MSG and high fructose corn syrup; easier because gardens, farmer markets and available of healthy foods. As I learn to cook healthy I am learning how to buy healthy. This month, June, Pat and I, hope to have a whole month of cooking and eating healthy. We both want to lose weight but also we both know that by changing our eating habits we will feel better.

In our small gardens around the house flowers, lettuce, grape leaves, kale, chives, arugula and mint are being harvested. When I cook I focus on what we got around the house; some type of foods, like stir fry vegetables, chicken and salad; and with the use of variety of spices create a healthy dish of food that taste good and looks great. The more cooking I do the easier it gets since the use of spices and combination of foods is truly an art form.

Growing food makes shopping for food and cooking it more enjoyable. You get a sense of what healthy food is all about; appreciate the time it takes to cook; and thus shy away from purchasing processed food and food from China. Share is gone but eating right for those of us that can afford it, is still available


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Roses, Peonies and Red Wood Chips - Friday, June 01, 2012

Continual Flower Vase Today

My supply of wood chips for mulch and composting comes from the city dump. Different kinds of trees are shredded by the city and make for a variety of wood chips. Yesterday I saw some red wood chips, the kind you purchase at the garden center. I took as much as I could and today I went back for more. There was only a small amount left. Clearly the word got out about these red wood chips. I am not sure what tree if any they came from. I understand red wood chips are dyed. But, no matter what, they make, for a more decorative front garden.

The white, pink and red roses and pink peonies in the rain garden in the front yard are all in bloom. My continual flower vase in the kitchen, from March 1st to Oct. 31st,is now beautiful with these roses and peonies.

I was reminded today of the suffering of victims of wars, our soldiers, the enemy and innocent families. I was in touch with people who strive each day to have enough food. My friend, Ann, who suffers from constant pain, had another visit to the hospital today. Awareness of war, suffering, hung and illness all around me can make me despair, especially when people who should know better turn a blind eye to injustice and immorality.

But all I need to do is look outside in front or back of my house to see the gardens blooming with beauty and the darkness lifts. With Roses, Peonies and Red Wood chips I can find special beauty these days, even on my kitchen table.


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