Hither and Yon

It’s all happening today, things that we hear about and see, things to try and wrap our heads around.  If you watch the news we have a horrendous hate crime in South Carolina and the U.S. Open Golf Tournament here in western Washington State.  If you read this blog we have Clara in Columbia, a Camino buddy of Juan’s who is growing corn in Iowa being lavishly prayed for by my Camino buddy Mary Margaret, tea

Flower forming on the sunflowers.

Flower forming on the sunflowers.

ching in Shanghai.   Right here at Phil’s Camino we had a light rain over night.

It’s the old “the good, the bad and the ugly” looks like.   The Devil is alive and well first off showing us his handiwork.   How does a young man get so far off track?   For sure let us pray for peace in that neighborhood.

Our corn with allitle rain on it.

Our corn with allitle rain on it.

Moisture on the corn.

Moisture on the corn.


To the US Open, Chambers Bay Golf Course is just maybe 15 miles south of the ranch.  It is along the waters of Puget Sound which Vashon Island is in.  Looking at the TV coverage you see Anderson, McNeil and Fox Islands off shore of the course.   The site was a gravel pit ten years ago and is a beautiful example of repurposing.  It is very rugged looking and very rugged on some players who can’t seem to get the hang of it.  Tiger Woods in currently 11 over par.   It seems it takes some unconventional thinking to adapt to the unconventional terrain and grasses.  Some of the younger players seem to be doing well.

And the whole Midwest America, Columbia, Shanghai thing is a thing of beauty.  As local Caminohead Catherine said lately, “the heart knows no distance”.   We are buoyed up by this showing of care in an often brutal world.  Let’s keep it up gang!

Yes, and the rain here was refreshing but not enough to go deep.  Ah, worrying about my corn is also a thing of beauty.  And the sunflowers are starting to produce their flowers.  Yup, it’s all happening!  Thanks for Shanghaing my heart, Felipe.




For Clara

Breathtaking sunset last evening.

Breathtaking sunset last evening.

I am going to ask something of you.  Our Pilgrim Farmer John, who we love and adore,  has a good Camino buddy by the name of Clara who has just received bad news.  She is in deep distress after receiving a cancer diagnosis.   Clara lives in Columbia and buddies could be anywhere, as we know and appreciate.

Caminoheads has promised PFJ that we would pray for, think of, support and send our love to Clara.  She needs strength to endure and understanding to know that everything will work out for her healing.   But right now with a fresh diagnosis the natural tendency is to be full of worry and we could help to reduce that right away.

Yes, we are part of the cloud of believers/the flow of pilgrims.  We are in amoungst.  We are vital components.  We are connected all.  Her name is Clara.  Love, Felipe.


Playing Around With Death Some More

I am not trying to bring you something morbid but something truly joyful.  Organically joyful, bubbling up from the depths joyful, it was always there but you just realized it joyful, all that.  Oop, have to go photograph roses, perfect light, see what I mean?

Roses in too much sun.

Roses in too much sun, alperfect.

So, where were we?   All of a sudden I am deep in thinking about the Cancer Camino and maybe trying to separate things from the Camino Camino or from the Catholic Camino.  It reminds me of being questioned by my oncologist and trying to separate chemo related side effects from the bumps and scraps of everyday life, hard to do sometimes.   Things get entwined (beautiful word) or maybe they were born together long ago, all in the same litter.

But even though, I think that my cancer was a amazing catalyst for change.  Dealing with it has been dealing with death.  Not death as an impersonal creature but the personal variety.   I am thankful for that.  I have made peace with it and I feel secure.

Yesterday in the quote from Peter Kreeft’s book was the phrase “post mortem life”  and that sounds strange at first glimpse and I feel the need to explain.  What he is referring to is the point where one dies in a certain sense but not physically and goes on to have a new chance or second life so to speak.  A new life with realizations; real reality realizations!

I hope that I am making slight sense.  So, encountering the dragon Cancer (and surviving  so far) has been a vital learning experience.  And I don’t feel like it is my duty, my place, my my to kill it or conquer it or anything it.  I have sat at it’s feet and learned.

Time to go, love, Felipe.


Playing Around With Death

Tap this to enlarge.  The last hint of light from the sunset last evening.  Beautiful.

Tap this to enlarge. The last hint of light from the sunset last evening. Beautiful.


I’ve been reading Peter Kreeft’s (published ’92) “Love is Stronger than Death”.   There are some pages in it that really strike home.   I want to write about that because it might start to explain things, things about me and things about the Cancer Camino.

Here is a paragraph that I am going to copy so you can read it:  “One very important aspect  of post-mortem life is that everything gets doubly precious, gets piercingly important.  You get stabbed by things, by flowers and by babies and by beautiful things – just the very act of living, of walking and breathing and eating and having friends and chatting.  Everything seems to look more beautiful rather than less, and one gets the much intensified sense of miracles.”  Kind of sounds like my morning.  Well, that is a little jokie but I think that in general it  is what I have experienced for the last few years.

Post- mortem life translates to life after a point when a person could have well died as in after dodging a bullet.   Some of this is conscious as in,  ‘Man, it feels good to be alive!” and some seems to just be present otherwise.   Anyway, just what I am thinking about today.  More insights to come out of this book I am sure.  Thanks for being here for me, love, Felipe.


It’s Humming!


Part of the hawthorn hedge.

Part of the hawthorn hedge.

The blossoms in the warm sun.

The blossoms in the warm sun.


Closeup of things humming.

Closeup of things humming.

Boy, full bore summer here in the Northwest.  I walked the trail this morning but before that I was out watering the corn.  And at one point I had to stop and try and figure out what I was hearing.  It was like the sound of a freeway in the distance maybe it isn’t even visible but it is that hum, constant hum.   No freeway here though.  But it was the bees attracted by our hawthorn hedge that surrounds the south pasture.  The more than thousand foot of it is just humming.  Check the pix that I took of the blossoms.  It will be all red berries (haws) later and feed the robins and waxwings and last half the winter.

I walked my Camino this morning three times and said the rosary three times.  I’ve been tending to binge it lately.  It is probably better to do it once daily but I am trying this.  Praying for all the wishes, thank yous, hopes and intentions embodied in the rock pile here left by fellow pilgrims.  And I did pick up and use the rosary lent to me by a friend; it belonged to his father.  And there is a connection between his dad and my dad so it is meaningful.

They were both World War Two vets, members of the “greatest generation”.   They didn’t know each other in life but are both with God now maybe talking over this exact thing.  World War Two was a Camino that they shared.  And I know that they both participated together in the Battle of Okinawa at least.  My dad was an Army medic holding together broken bodies on shore.   At the same time Bill’s dad was a naval officer assigned to a destroyer serving picket duty.   Picket duty was where small ships were patrolling far out from the land battle sounding the warning if enemy aircraft approached.  That sounds a little too mild.  The reality is by this time in the war those aircraft were kamikazes and the picket ships were ready targets for them also.   My father was protected by Bill’s Father and in my hand is the rosary that protected them both.  We do stand on the shoulders of giants in all sorts of ways and levels.

Yup, so, off to my day.  I had volunteered a year ago to rebuild this little pouch that holds the old rosary and today seems like a good day to get a start on it.  OK, you guys are the best, Felipe.


Things Worth Mentioning

Here is the new coffee blend from Yellow Arrow Coffee, Breckenridge.  Nice.

Here is the new coffee blend from Yellow Arrow Coffee, Breckenridge. Nice.

I can't get enough of this rose.  What color!

I can’t get enough of this rose. What color!

Friend and local vocalist Delelah Pearl shows up for tapas yesterday.  Nice.

Friend and local vocalist Delilah Pearl shows up for tapas yesterday. Nice.

We got the thumbs up from Delelah Pearl so we’re golden!  We’ve passed the test.  Always here ready to refresh a weary traveler.

Went to Mass with Catherine this AM.  And we have a walk and tapas later this PM.  In the meantime I am getting a little hammock time in.  Windy today so there is constant motion.  Nice.  Just a lazy Sunday.  I have time to think of you, love, Felipe.


Annie’s FaceBook Post Today

I am still floating from the Breckenridge trip, FB friends. I am sipping a cup of Phil’s Pilgrim Brew coffee, so masterfully designed by Gwen at Yellow Arrow Coffee. It is delicious, butI feel the twinge of missing the gentle hustle and bustle that preceded our Camino de Breckenridge heart emoticon I learned a lot about loneliness while I walked the Camino, and it helps me every single day. As I think about last weekend in Breckenridge it would be easy to feel sad, to miss the people, all so beautiful, kind and generous; to miss the place, so magnificent in every way from the quality of the air to the majesty of the mountains; to miss the quiet along the path we walked by the river, up the hill, through the town itself. But what is the point of having fun, of having wonderful moments that touch the heart if later they only bring you sadness and longing. No, we must hold these dear memories close and let the joy of the moment bleed into the now moment. We have all lost loved ones and we must have the discipline of allowing the laughter we had with them travel the distance of time to bring a smile to our faces now. This requires love, it requires courage. The love to fully remember those moments without turning away, and the courage to live out the truth that Spirit never dies. As my friend Jesse was facing death many years ago he told me to think of it as he was just going to a different area code. I know this is easier said than done, but it is a discipline that we can get better at with practice. So I practice with thinking about Breckenridge. All the joy, the laughter, the walking together, the eating together, the moments we shared: I allow them to color this morning as I sit with no hustle and bustle, but sipping my Phil’s Pilgrim Brew, thinking of them, and thinking of you, FB friends. We are more together than it may seem to the eye. The heart knows, and we can allow it to seep into the present and go forth with each other fully by our side smile emoticon Let’s make the most of this day, FB friends, together in spirit! Buen Camino!

Slowly Rocking Back And Forth



Queen Nefritetti (sp?) rose from My Rebecca's  garden.

Queen Nefritetti (sp?) rose from My Rebecca’s garden.

The view from the hammock this afternoon.

The view this afternoon.

Quess where I am?  In the green hammock under the two pine trees writing a post on WeeFee that reaches out here from the house.  How alperfect is that?  We got the high tech totally dovetailed with the low tech here at the ranch today.

Yea so, what else is happening?  Tomorrow is Flag Day here in the States and we will be putting those up.  Today I am trying get some work done on the corn.  Just don’t want to be out in the sun too long.  Also need to catch up on the blog comments.  Some great stuff coming in there.

Maybe we will adjourn here today and we will get back together tomorrow.  You’re the best, Felipe.



How To Exit A Hammock (Gracefully)



So, local Caminoheads have discovered hammocks.  It’s really a big splash, so much so that a short instructional video was needed.  You may view that at your leisure.

On the porch at Jennifer’s lovely home is a spot that I thought begged for a hammock.  I was thinking of her and the recovery time that she needed after each of her heavy duty chemo treatments and this would be the perfect spot to do that.  Well, I don’t know if I exactly had the original idea on this one but close, you know how all Caminoheads are joined at the head.  Kind of one big thing.

So, Jennifer bought three hammocks, each different, online and anxiously awaited their arrival.  And they are here now and we have two of them up.  One on her porch and one at our place between two pine trees in the backyard.  That is where the little video was taken by Catherine of me.  Safety first, right?  You don’t want to get hurt hammocking or  really to be caught looking ungraceful with some of the trickier moves.

But before I go today just need to discribe the spot on Jennifer’s porch that could become the center of her universe, at least for the rest of the warm weather this year.  She has this long narrow porch that faces west and with a view of the Olympic Mountains in the distance and the water inbetween.  You enter the porch from one end and walk past a small table and chairs and some more chairs all looking like get spots for tapas and sunset viewing.  Then there are a couple of doors off to the left to get inside.  then at the very end is a small area beyond the last door that that is exactly the right size for the hammock she chose.

So, the long narrow porch is super linear with the boards of the deck, the boards of the ceiling and the siding boards running along with you as you walk down.  And this is broken up by flower pots on  top of the railing and the new hammock which is artfully installed at a diagonal across the far end.  It is off white canvas material that shows up great against the redish browns of all the wood.

When you are in the hammock you are in the shade with a view of greenery, water, mountians, sky.  Flower scent wafts through but maybe best of all there is a hummingbird feeder just feet away from your head and the fearless amazing little creatures come and go for your entertainment.   There fast wingbeat gives them the sound of giant bumble bees.

Well, I can’t think of a better spot in the universe to work on healing.  A pillow and light cover, a book maybe, maybe not and she’s set up.  So heal on Jennifer, we love you!

Felipe MTC (Master Tapa Chef).





Cancer Camino Not A Cupcake

View off the west side of Vashon last evening.  Looks beautiful after a day in the hospital.

View off the west side of Vashon last evening. Looks beautiful after a day in the hospital.


Hi!  Glad that you could make it.  The other night I heard Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners baseball team talking about a game that the team had just won.   And I learned a new word, “cupcake”.  He said that the win was not a cupcake, saying that it wasn’t that easy.  It didn’t come easy maybe as it looked or what the scoreboard looked like.

The Cancer Camino that I have been walking for almost four years is no cupcake but that is not to say that it doesn’t have miracles happen and precious high points happen.  And these stand out maybe more brilliantly because they appear on the contrasting dark background.  So, to begin my story I have been joined on my Cancer Camino by another.  And this has been very special and a big breakthrough for me.

Along comes Jennifer.  And I asked her if I could blog about her and this in a general manner and that is what I am up to.  And along comes Jennifer.  She lives on the Island, has the same doc and we figured how we could get our hospital visit in sync.  So now we commute together.  And just as being joined by someone, a complete stranger, on the dusty or muddy trail in Spain after maybe too much time alone, you marvel, how much fun is this?  Where have you been?

So we have similar problems and similar challenges, daily and long term.  But I have been walking for what seems like forever she has started recenty relatively.   So this is good for both of us.  With my oldness I can help her with the freak out that chemotherapy tries to drown you in at the beginning, a very strange foreign world.  She in turn with her newness helps me remember things that I have tried to block out and to maybe look at my own sticky wickets in a new way.  See?  Mira?

So, yesterday a miracle occured or maybe we just heard of it as it happened earlier.  But I have to back up a few notches to fill you in.  On Tuesday Jennifer went in for a scan to look into her insides.  This is a valuable tool that our oncologist uses to check what going on.  Sort of as close to boots on the ground that he gets to.  So she gets one every two months and this marks a place, once the scan is looked at and intrepreted where strategy and/or dosage is likely to change.   The  doc can tweak things depending on what he sees on the report on Wednesday and talks it over with you.

From the Cancer Camper’s ( patients’s) point of view this is a totally nerve wracking, sleep losing, nail biting process.  Life or death seems to hang in balance in the mind.  This is the second scan that she has had and the second time through the wringer.  But in spite of all the mental gymnastics that she went through this one turned out to be very very good.  And combined with excellent numbers from her blood work it looks very positive for her.  So we are loosing no time toasting to her health and the miracle revealed.

So, we walk on through the ins and outs and over and unders of the Cancer Camino, never a dull moment.    Cupcake loves, Felipe.