Wednesday, May 10, 2017


There is a time to take it easy. One doesn't always need to be doing something. Sit back and rest on your laurels.

Our species has come a long way. It's good to pay attention to all the things that are not good in the world; but, for a balanced perspective, it's good to recognize both the wonderful and the terrible things we human beings have been and are engaged in. I know enough of the rotten things we have done to each other to choose at this time to emphasize the positive.

There was a time when those living in this part of the planet got eaten by big cats, cougars or panthers or mountain lions. Not much of a worry now.

We in the Pittsburgh area once got maybe one third of our food from the waters - rivers, creeks, ponds, marshes. Clams, fish, oysters, water snakes, crayfish, turtles,... Now we get the majority of our fish, for instance, from fish farms - both in open ocean and in contained water systems on land.

We get a huge amount of food from microbial processes - yogurt, bread, buttermilk, sour cream, cottage cheese, kefir, sauerkraut and pickles (if it's REAL sauerkraut and pickles, made the traditional way), cheese (REAL cheese, not American cheese, which is processed without microorganisms), tofu (REAL tofu, not what most Americans know as tofu, which isn't fermented and so isn't as healthy as the original tofu which took soybean curd and - like making cheese - let it ferment into curds),...

Fish often used to be fermented also, by the way:

"...Fermented fish: A traditional preparation of fish. Before refrigeration, canning and other modern preservation techniques became available, fermenting was an important preservation method..."
This is a list of fermented foods, which are foods produced or preserved by the action of microorganisms. In thi...

Today, many are finding new ways to obtain the health benefits of traditional ways. The bacteria humans co-evolved with (e.g. via milked soured accidentally - refrigeration having been invented only recently) are some of the same ones in both the human stomach and healthy soils. People are now taking pro-biotic supplements and consuming foods such as yogurt which add friendly bacteria for healthy digestive and immune systems, rather than taking anti-biotics which kill the bad "bugs" but end up accidentally ENCOURAGING diseases such as those caused by antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.

The life in soil - earthworms and other creatures both larger and smaller - has often been described as Nature's digestive system, recycling nutrients back into the other plants, animals and microorganisms.

Our society I think is too often stuck on the idea that we've always got to be DOING something. We engage in so much useless and even destructive activity out of fear - fear of not having enough money, for instance. At this time of year, with the weather so often about just right, it IS time to take it easy. Let's stop blaming each other and feeling like we always have to down each other to justify ourselves.

Let's take it easy on ourselves. Just be.

Monday, April 10, 2017



I have learned that there are thousands of ways of looking at things.

I started out in about third grade falling in love with the living things I could see under the microscope - green leaves you could see right through, paramecium swirling around in water, spirogyra algae single-cells (microbes) green with chlorophyll inside each cell in a spiral, each cell linked with another cell in chains creating what without a microscope we call pond scum,... I was looking at all this through a microscope my parents had bought for me. Some microbes move by a wee like whip which is called a cilia which moves them around. A much larger (but still too small to be almost impossible to see with either a magnifying glass or the naked eye) many-celled animal are rotifers. These guys eat by using their cilia to draw water and food towards them.

Now, 50 or so years later, I'm still learning. I've learned that, if you take a poll of say what's going to happen in the United States in the next ten years, you'll get hundreds of millions of ansers, none of which will be entirely correct. The future will always none of the above (I think) .

One possible future I hope for for Hazelwood is that the area where the old J&L mill used to be include: one or more greenhouses of various sizes and designs; a flowing water functional work of art which takes rain from the hillside and feeds a fountain sprayer which waters a food forest where people can picnic, have lunch, grow and eat berries, pick herbs, and fruit from trees, look at flowers (wild and cultivated, local and from other lands); an educational/entertainment marina on the Mon with the history (e.g. of what lived and what still lives in the river - oysters, clams, crayfish, many types of fish [some huge]),...a celebration of the past such as that Mark Twain piloted a boat up here from the Mississippi...a celebration of the past and possible future of the Pittsburgh area as far as inventions, applied science, and...

Pittsburgh participated in the birth of the nuclear industry. John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) planted and sold trees here. The beginning of radio. The beginning of educational tv. The great humanitarian inventor Nikola Tesla. The great preacher Kathryn Kuhlman. My mother. My father.

Nature heals, such as from the terrible burden of pollution that this city has suffered. Let's let it. From those living things too small to be able to be seen (such as the fungi that, unnoticed, have such an important role in our soils' health and so our own health) large wildlife such as the bald eagle which, by being part (along with us humans) of the web of life, the community of life must be protected and nurtured.

Friday, February 17, 2017

We may lose the Y community garden

YMCA is getting bids for the land on which we've established the community garden/orchard there behind the former YMCA building. If no individual or group purchases that land in order to allow the garden there to remain, once again we who volunteered and donated (including the Heinz Foundation, which provided money to help establish that garden/orchard years ago) will have our efforts...

A similar catastrophe happened with the Hazelwood Food Forest, the construction of which was accomplished with all volunteer labor and a much smaller amount of money.

I call on everyone for support in keeping alive this community garden/orchard - with greenhouse, tool shed, raised beds, compost bins, tools, rain barrels, see-saw water pump, fence, and plantings. It was envisioned from the beginning as a community asset - not just for YMCA members.

Jim McCue
composter and biotech researcher 412-421-6496

Friday, February 10, 2017


People all want the same things, basically. Delicious food, refreshing drink, a safe/peaceful world, friendly neighbors, a pleasant natural environment - these are all parts of a common dream. We're dreaming the one big dream together. And I believe that each of us is playing our own unique part in building that dream, ever so slowly making a better world.

What would I do if I had a million dollars? One thing, I'd buy that lovely piece of property on Flowers Ave where we started building a garden. And I'd plant there...well, let's see. Hydrangeas would be nice, and peppermint and orange mint and apple mint and lambs quarters and marigolds and lilies and sunchokes and zinnias and French sorrel and sunflowers and purslane and bee balm and comfrey and tomatoes and tomatillos and hemp and garlic and lettuce and cantaloupe and squash and watermelon and roses and aloe and daylily and horseradish and thyme and flags and amaranth and gladiolas and strawberries and asparagus and dill and fennel and onions and chives and fern yarrow and papaya and bananas and........

Bananas and papaya!? I've been growing papaya here in Pittsburgh, but frost kills it. They're a warmer climate fruit tree. On the average, our weather is getting warmer, so who knows what will grow around here? The leaves of the papaya tree (I grew it in Miami) are where we get the enzyme papain for meat tenderizer. Indigenous Americans would fold fish in papaya leaf overnight before cooking it.

There's a tiny little stream coming down the hill to that garden. I'd have calamus (which is like ginger) and watercress (which has a nice, tangy peppery flavor) growing in that tiny little creek, along with other water-loving plants such as rushes (which have edible roots) and mints (which can stand too much rain or not enough and still carry on).

With part of that million dollars I'd set up an enclosed medium scale gravity passive solar composting system, somewhere where neighbors could donate cardboard, leaves, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and paper, and then share in the healthy soil material produced from yard and kitchen organic waste.

I'd invest some of my money in a plant-starting business to supply Floriated Interpretations, which sells potted plants and related items on Second Avenue.

I'd set up a little manufacturing operation to build low-cost composting toilets, all certified of course with the Allegheny County Health Dept. There is a great need for this type of ecologically wiser human waste processor as our weather will perhaps continue to become more unstable as to and so power outages and plumbing functioning may fail more often.

With herbs such as mint and basil currently selling for more than a dollar an ounce, the revenue from the garden ought to easily start making more money with my money underbidding these big chains. Meanwhile, with all the need for jobs helping to transition the economy with green industry, I know some people uniquely qualified to train eco-landscapers to replenish/preserve Nature's ecosystem services such as pollination.

And, like at Everybody's Garden (which is at W.Elizabeth & Lytle Streets), I'd get peach trees going, and apricots and apples and figs and...

Aside from growing for food and medicine, we can also grow trees (and other plants such as bamboo) to provide building material for anything from greenhouses to bird houses to bee motels to compost structures.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Our Home

The little newspaper you're reading used to be called The Hazelwood Homepage. Now it serves a wider area and is simply called The Homepage. We chose that word Homepage because it feels comfortable and friendly, and because the internet word "homepage" (webpage) sounds hip too. The community of Hazelwood welcomes its better moments, anyway.

I remember being called Homey and Home a few times, and was called Pittsburgh once or twice when living in New York City. I always felt Pittsburgh was my city, not that I owned it but that I was one with it. Home is where the heart is. I remember saying, "The WORLD is my home." We could solve all our problems if we all realized we're one huge family with one even bigger home - The Earth.

How can we make our home welcoming and at the same time secure? I don't know, I guess it's a balance.

I'm glad Pittsburgh is a sanctuary city; there are so many in the world without homes. Some parts of this country are so expensive even people making good money can't afford homes. Were I Head Honcho, every soul would have somewhere to sleep, whenever they wanted, and with whomever they wanted.

If we humans don't work together to deal with the problems we all face, including climate change, we'll ALL be homeless. The winds, the heat, the variations in temperature, the turbulent oceans,...All will work together to remind us that Mother Earth is running things in THIS part of the universe.

Jim McCue
composter and biotech researcher 412-421-6496

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Everyday miracles

Everyday miracles

Life is a continuing miracle, from day one to whatever comes after this life. We've come to think of miracles as not requiring any work. We think of them as coming from elsewhere - Heaven or God or scientists. But the miracles come from the heart, and acting from the heart; that's how the Universe works.

I remember my Mom (an everyday miracle who raised 7 sons) singing that old song that goes "Well you laid around and played around this old house too long; summer's come and gone, winter's comin' on." Well, with global average warming, and its interacting with so many other environmental changes at this point in history - we may not get winter any more. Some say we waited too long to cut greenhouse gases to stop the catastrophe that's unfolding. I'm growing the tropical fruit tree papaya to contribute to a better future. There are others faithfully continuing positive work, such Rev John Creasy of Garfield Community Farm, where they're growing unexpected tropical fruits lemon, guava, and bananas. We have no reason to want to just lay around telling ourselves we're helpless.

We need to focus on all the things we can do to make the future better. Paramahansa Yogananda of India said, "Govern your mind well by dwelling on the positive aspects of life." Some Americans (self included) believe there are miracles associated with the lives of Christian saints. Yogananda's life (he passed over about seventy years ago), was full of travel (including to the United States, where he met with agricultural pioneer/wizard miracle-maker Luther Burbank). His early life in India was full of wonder, learning, and witnessing miracles. Traveling in Europe learning he met with and witnessed miracles of now-canonized Catholic saint Therese Neumann. His book Autobiography of a Yogi, free online, delves into thinkers alive at that time such as Einstein and concludes that not only is all reality miraculous, but that the laws of physics are more flexible than we realize. If you want to better understand modern science, read in this book his synthesis of both spirituality and scientific thought - quantum physics, and his integration of both Western and Eastern belief. Every checkout counter scanner uses applied quantum mechanics; But the logic that we're getting from from the math and the experiments seems paradoxical, impossible, magical thinking even to scientists today. But time and space ARE relative, and they DO bend and stretch; and we humans are learning to see this (apparently some few always have).

My core belief is that God is Love. It's that simple, and that beautiful. That is the original miracle, creation. Love is God. We can talk about self-organizing principles and emergent patterns and causes for this and causes for that, and how everything is connected to everything else by causes and effects and...but what about the original cause? What caused things to start happening in the first place? I say Love.

Another agricultural pioneer leader miracle worker was George Washington Carver. He talked with his plants. They told him what they wanted. It's gonna take the biggest miracle we've pulled off yet to help birth and co-create this new age we're all dreaming when we really sleep well. When was the last time you really slept well? My mom used to tuck us in with "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite." Well, that particular bit of wisdom my generation wasn't ready to learn...until now with the failure of all our wonderful weapons to wage war on nature such as ddt to kill bugs... bedbugs which had been pretty much eradicated in the United States...are back. Now I get it. Sleep tight meant keep the sheets tight. By the time we 7 boys were born in Greenfield, Catherine McCue had seen the more or less complete eradication in the United States. I had thought bedbugs were just some mythical scary tale.

The basic computer code 0 and 1 yin yang on off bad good up down love hate...dem repub,...They all spiral down to one decision: Do I love or do I fear? It's that simple and clear. If you fear you help make your own fears become a reality; this is a co-creation we live in. We have self-fulfilling prophecies in our individual spiraling tunnel realities. All our reacting in fear has helped create the bed bug problem by effects of all those pesticides has killed what birds didn't starve for lack of bugs to eat. Now there are not as many birds to eat the bedbugs and mosquitoes and other bloodsuckers . If you love, you attract the miraculous and, though you've a life full of work, struggle, wresting in this world of changes, you'll be happy, just one moment at a time.

Sunday, October 09, 2016


Our human culture has become so full of arrogant self-delusion that what we believe has become biased. Take our history books, for instance. Human society flourished in the area of the Earth's surface now called The United States for ( at the very least) thousands of years. Yet we have a statue right here in Pittsburgh that says that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Aside from the absolute (and obvious, when you think about it) absurdity of this claim (which my generation was taught in grade school), research into the ACTUAL history of this country reveals that this man (aside from surely some good things that can be said about him) - when he first encountered native peoples here - wrote about how superior technology (such as metal swords) would allow him and other Europeans to enslave these indigenous peoples.

Our believed histories are also full of other distortions of fact that we were fed in school, such as that Guglielmo Marconi invented radio. In fact, the much more idealistic and conscientious Nikola Tesla was the real inventor of radio, while Marconi stole patents from him. Tesla's name is rarely mentioned in the history of invention, despite the fact that his work was instrumental - wholly or in part - for the creation of: the flourescent light bulb; radar; radio; the electric motor; television; and the electric grid that now covers the planet. Tesla's whole life demonstrates the miracles possible when we human beings align ourselves with higher values. Thomas Alva Edison was also a great good person...sometimes (not so much when he reneged on a verbal promise to pay Tesla $50,000 for some work Tesla did for him).

The fact is, none of us creates anything - we are only inspired by a Higher Power to co-create what comes into our hearts and minds. And every co-creation brings with it responsibilities along with its privileges. An honest recognition of the side effects of our technologies makes it clear that we have to shut down the combustion industry. We have to go to not only carbon-neutral but carbon-NEGATIVE activities such as nurturing photosynthesis. And to using co2 and methane in non-combustion production. And we have to eliminate all financial and legal hindrances to gearing up the better technologies, which have been suppressed on behalf of the status quo for over a hundred years. Tesla was thinking about pollution all those years ago and had an electric car. Why are we only now coming out with an electric car?

Alongside of the exploding quantity of catastrophic things going on now on Earth at this moment in history is an equally explosive amount of constructive scientific application and positive social change. Let's align ourselves further with the REAL power on Earth, the power of Love (with a capital L). This is how we will together co-create the Heaven on Earth we all know in our hearts is possible.