Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day!

We started out Thanksgiving morning with a pole-walk around Lake Marion in Mazomanie with our trusty companion, Mocha.

Then a stop at the water course that used to go to the Old Feed Mill in bygone days.

Then, a trusty turkey raised by our friends down the road from our farm, Gil and Kathleen. It was truly a tasty bird.

Charlotte is down in Missouri and we had a day together (which was great as Sabine was recovering from the surgery and anesthesia -- and, to report, so far, so good -- we were able to hear a strong bruie at the vein-artery connection point).

Then the feast with most all the trimmings! A day in which to truly be thankful!

Then, as has been our tradition over the years, a visit to a local movie theater to see one of the new releases. In our case, it was the epic film, "Australia."


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So far... so good!

Sabine had her third surgery yesterday to try and make a hook-up for a fistula which would permit better and safer access for hemodialysis.

The surgery went well and Dr Becker was encouraged. This is probably our last attempt and we will, instead, stay with the tunnel catheter. While it is not the best connection it will be better than trying an implanted graft which could easily clog up like the other connections we have attempted.

This picture is a shot of our friend, Adrian Ward, who visited us from Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Adrian is also a retired "copper."

Sabine is in good spirits and looking forward to Thanksgiving and then some vacation time for the first two weeks of December. We are just about to take a nice walk with Mocha around our little lake in Mazomanie.

Again, we thank all of you who continue to hope and pray with us. It is hard to believe that a year has almost passed by since our diagnosis! We are thankful for the time we have -- we try and live everyday to its fullest -- but then shouldn't all of us do that all of the time?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter is Coming, the Snow is in Sight!

Oh, I guess the song is "Shrimp Boats Are A-Comin', Their Sails are in Sight" and not "Winter is Coming..."

A cold Saturday morning with snow flakes in the air awaited us as we headed north to Stevens Point. We registered for the "Non-violence Conference” that was sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and led by Ched Myers or Bartimaeus Ministries (see Ched had some VERY interesting and provocative things to say about the first two chapters of Mark’s Gospel and what Jesus was trying to tell us.

Mark's Gospel gives us a model of non-violent resistance to Empire (whenever we read “Rome” in the New Testament, simply replace it with “us” -- we are the empire. We are the domination power in contrast to the new power of the new Way Jesus taught (Incidentally, both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. got the message quit clearly).

The Message and the Procedure:

1. Proclaim resistance to the system of domination in your society. In order for conflict to be transformed it must first be exposed. Jesus went about exposing the Roman domination system in Jewish Palestine which marginalized the poor and transferred wealth upwards to the elite.

2. Confront the system. Jesus had the audacity to enter the temple and teach there -- a real confrontation. The system provided for the scribes to do this, NOT poor Jewish carpenters from Galilee.

3. Withdraw, pray, re-focus. After a prophetic proclamation and “action” (confronting the system) it is absolutely necessary to rest, refresh, heal and reflect before the next mission/action.

4. The system is challenged again as Jesus heals the sick (only priests are to do this) and touches lepers (breaks the purity code). He forgives sins and interprets the Torah (challenging again the priests’ status and social power).

5. Jesus again withdraws for prayer and re-focusing.

So what we have here is an effective model for social action. To get a better feeling for where Myers is coming from see his article, “Hope is Where Your Ass Is: How I Got Stated in the Movement,” at Also read Ghandi and King.

Also buzzing around in my head last week was Old Testament Theologian Walter Brueggemann’s “19 Theses,” which I have linked below but will attempt to summarize: Brueggemann helped me to first realize that Empire is us; America today.


My humble attempt to summarize Brueggemann’s "Nineteen Theses" in 10 statements:

1. Everybody has and lives by a “script” – a dominant social narrative. We get scripted though the process of socialization – simply living in our society does this. And the dominant script in America is “technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism.” It socializes us all.

2. This script is enacted (constantly) through advertising and propaganda in our society – mainly through the liturgies of television that promise to make us safe and happy.

3. But this script has failed. It doesn’t work. The script of military consumerism cannot make us safe and it cannot make us happy; consequently, we may be the most unhappy society in the world.

4. Eventual health for our society depends upon disengagement from and relinquishment of that script. But we resist it.

5. De-scripting is providing an alternate script that can make us happy and safe in the world. De-scripting is steady, patient and intentional work – it is the counter-narrative to “technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism.”

6. It is the task of ministry to de-script the dominant social script that cannot make us happy or safe.

7. The most distinctive feature of the alternative script is God. This God is “ragged, disjunctive, and incoherent because this God is “illusive… irascible… and hidden.” This script (story) cannot be smoothed out. The dominant script of “technological, consumer militarism” is all about certitude, privilege, and entitlement and this counter-script is not. Thus care must be taken to let this script be what it is, which means letting God be God’s irascible self.

8. It is the work of ministry to introduce this illusive, irascible character called God through the practices of preaching, liturgy, education, social action, spirituality, and being a neighbor. The entry point to this counter-script in the Christian tradition is baptism where the dominant script is renounced.

9. The ragged, disjunctive, and incoherent quality of the counter-script to which we testify cannot be smoothed or made seamless. If this happens, this script gets flattened and domesticated and it becomes a weak echo of the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism. And most of us are ambiguous about the script and are not at the deepest places wanting to choose between the dominant script and the counter-script.

10. Thus… the work of ministry is crucial and pivotal and indispensable in our society precisely because there is no one except the church and the synagogue to name and evoke the ambivalence between the two scripts and to manage a way through it.

[Full text of Brueggemann at:


I think we both drove home from Stevens Point energized with not only hope but also the potential we have in faith-based social change. How long has the war been going on now? Eight years, can that be possible? And how many have died now? How many have life-altering injuries? How many have lost their homes and have been displaced?


This week we meet with our cancer support group in Madison and I will be leading a walk with the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, at Bethel Horizons near Dodgeville (not too late to register and attend…)

The following week, Thanksgiving Week, we have surgery scheduled for Tuesday as Dr Becker makes another hookup attempt with Sabine’s narrow arm veins.

After that we will have to decide what method is best for Sabine’s continuing dialysis. In the meantime, home dialysis is working well and we are looking forward to doing a little travelling this winter.

We both thank you for your continuing prayers, healing thoughts and support.

p.s we were joined by Charlie Bradley (a grizzled peaceworker from Portage) and his wife, Sue. Charlie and Sue worked with us when we served at St John's Episcopal Church in Portage).

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Monday, November 10, 2008

A Busy Weekend

The first snow hit our farm and the lovely ranges of Blue Mounds. It didn't stick but temperatures went down into the 20s. Winter is coming...

How sweet it is... those of us who supported Barack Obama are basking in the glow, but knowing we all, together, Democrat, Republican, Green, and Independent, must now pull together. We have our agenda ahead of us: jobs and the economy, the war, healthcare, and the environment. Remember, it's "WE" the people!

At one of our favorite restaurants, the Blue Spoon, on the Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac.

Off to the art museum in Milwaukee to see the interactive art show -- so we "interacted" as Sabine is drawing a picture on the wall.

Sitting at one of the Milwaukee Art Museum's windows that look out onto Lake Michigan.

Our friend, Adrian, who invited us to Scotland a few years ago came to visit us and attend the Deming Conference in Madison. We saw a lot of old friends from the quality improvement days... (have twenty years possibly passed?). Here is a pic with Adrian, Peter Scholtes and me.

On Sunday, I gave the opening prayer for fellow "Veterans For Peace" at Forest Hills Cemetery in Madison.

Here is a shot of nearly 5,000 headstones. Each one representing a military man or woman killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. If we were to add the civilian "collateral" deaths it would most likely circle the city.

You can see more photographs on Facebook at:

Sabine is doing well. We have another surgery in two weeks and we will have to decided after that whether or not to pursue a "graft" or stay with her tunnel catheter for dialysis purposes.

Hope everyone is well... take care of yourselves and remember the key to aging: "Keep your head cool, your feet warm, your bowels open and trust in the Lord."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Here we are in line at the Town of Brigham offices. It's 6:45 a.m. and we are ready to vote. Our friends Gary and Patty Moyer are #1 and #2. We were #7 and #8 to vote.

Sabine is outside the Town offices rejoicing in casting her vote! (Guess who for?)

Then it was off to the fitness center in Mt.Horeb for exercise before we headed to our cottage in Mazomanie for our morning dialysis.

Last night I was invited to an award presentation for an old friend and colleague, Luis Yudice. Luis won a special commuity service award. He was one of my captains when I was in Madison and is now chief of security for the Madison School District.

Joining us was a host of former and present police officers. From left to right, Lt. (soon to be Captain!) Joe Balles, Retired Captain Ted Balistreri, me, Luis, Chief of Police Noble Wray, Captain Mary Shaw, Asst. Chief John Davenport, and Retired Captain George Silverwood. A lot of nostalgia here...


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Sunday, November 2, 2008


This weekend Sabine and I worked in Barneveld for the Iowa County Democrats and Barack Obama's campaign.

This is the office in nearby Dodgeville, where we picked up our material.

We know that not all of you will be voting for our candidates, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And that's okay. You are still our friends and we still love you!


That's the important thing. And then, on Wednesday morning to come together and all of us to work to move this great country forward!

Love to all of you from both of us!

p.s. On the medical front: Sabine is scheduled for surgery (again) the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The recent pictures of the veins and arteries in her arms did not look good -- too thin. We are going to try one more fistula attempt at one promising area. After that, Sabine will have to decided to either go for a graft involving a synthetic implant (which, given her small veins may not work) or staying with her tunnel catheter and saying goodbye to water activities. Please pray for what may be a miracle!

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