On Assignment

How many heart rocks do you see?

How many heart rocks do you see?  Just the landscape gravel out the window.  Just trying to make something out of nothing.

It’s 1:39 in the afternoon.  We’re all snuggled down in our cocoon of chemotherapy.   Jennifer had fixed a great picnic lunch for us, it was her turn.   We are hanging out as the sunshine pours in the big windows.   Sort of savoring things at the moment, happy to be alive and alive in a happy way.

We will be back on Vashon in a few hours to our regular existence.  On second thought that could be debatable, the part about Vashon being regular.  Mainland people have their thoughts about island people.  There is a popular bumper sticker around, “Keep Vashon Wierd”.   Then there was, “Keep Vashon Wired “.   And then, “Keep Vashon Normal”.   And as Our Anamaria said last year after her first visit to the Camino, “What is normal anyway?”  Yes.

Corn is normal.   OK, we know that for sure, right PFJ?  Let’s remember that.   Love you, Felipe.



Starting Over Started Sunday

I am including some pix of Sunday afternoon’s walk.   A new beginning it was.  I am searching for some structure that the original Phil’s Camino provided.  I’m thinking walking for a reason is better than just walking.  And walking for a good reason must be even better, right?

Our start!

Our start!

Grandson Osian on the trail.

The  Grandson Osian on the trail.

In the shade.

In the shade.

Tomorrow our Camino will take Jennifer and I to Swedish Hospital.  I will try and blog from there.  Thinking and praying for you, love, Felipe.


Woman On Dusty Road


Our Anamaria,.

Our Anamaria.

I opened my emails this AM to find this lovely pic of Our Anamaria on the Camino de Santiago.   This is current as in a few hours old.  Yesterday we had a couple of pics from Burgos of the wonderful cathedral there and then today we are walking westward with the morning sun at our backs.

In a certain understated sensibility, the pic might be entitled “Woman in the Morning Sun” or perhaps “Woman on a Dusty Road”.   But as I look at it this AM with a sort of two cup of coffee practical outlook and knowing that very spot depicted intimately, details and memories are coming forward.  It was just a year ago that I was in that exact location, Kelly at my side or within a kilometer.

Kelly would be grading that road surface as he walked as he graded his students in his past life as a teacher.  I think 5 was the highest which we only experienced one time which was flat and level AstroTurf (artificial grass), a tiny patch in front of a fancy hotel.   The points would go down from there depending on the all the factors which we became intimately familiar with.  So speaking for Kelly here, I would say this is in the low fours.  It looks in the macro sense almost perfect as in level, straight and good width.  But that crushed rock is killer on the bottoms of the feet when unexpectedly a perfect pyramidal shaped rock contacts  your perfectly formed blister and swear words appear that you didn’t realize you possessed.

It is a cloudless sky and the time is late morning and the heat has been building from the comfortable temp at dawn.  There are more windmills than trees, maybe no trees, maybe those are just bushes in the distance, translates to no shade.  It is that time of day for the pilgrim when the early stiffness, doubt and pain have magically disappeared in a second wind of giddiness.   A time to be enjoyed before the eventual exhaustion later in the early afternoon.  And then to be somewhere in the shade when the heat is at it’s worst.

Anamaria seems too fresh after the recent start in Burgos to get into this zone yet but the Meseta stretches on always standing ready to wear you down.   This all sort of sounds like a bad thing to the outsider , the casual observer but it is really one of the blessed obstacles that is there to be wrestled with.

Well out of time, have to go walk myself and I hear a car coming down the gravel driveway, Catherine I think.   Dusty loves, Felipe.


Camino News Near And Far


The brand new logbook for a brand new pilgrimage.

Here – The brand new logbook for a brand new pilgrimage.

A before pic.

Here – A “before”pic.

Burgos Cathedral with Anamaria.

There -Burgos Cathedral with Anamaria.

There - Anamaria traveling light.

There – Anamaria is traveling light.

On Camino news near, we are opening up another walk “in Spain” right here at Phil’s Camino today.  We have been walking regularly here but it has been just walking without keeping track and linking it to where we would be in Spain if we were there.

So today at 1600 we will hike out from “St. Jean Pied de Port” on the first day of our pilgrimage.  I don’t think that we will get terribly far but it is a start.  So we will keep you posted.

News from afar came in the form of a lovely but short email message  earlier this morning from the Anamaria, the Princess of Viana, one of our beloved Angels.   Kelly, Todd , Jessica and I walked with her and Alida and Laura last year maybe a few weeks earlier than now in August.   The POV has been in Madrid working on a degree and this is her latest news to me:

My soul was asking me deeply to go and walk the camino. So, here I am, on the train to Burgos to walk a few Ks until Leon. Please have me on your prayers this week.

Sending you lots of love.


Yes, of course, prayers for Our Anamaria.  And prayers for Phil’s Camino and pilgrims near and far.  Walking loves, Felipe.



Itsy Bitsy Spider

Still cloudy, the day after the big rain storm.

Still cloudy, the day after the big rain storm.

I’m sitting at breakfast and the house is quiet.  I’m up early as usual.  My Rebecca and all our company are still in bed as they got in here at something like three in the morning, just a few hours ago.  I ‘m working on finishing up my first cup after bacon and eggs.

And there is this little itsy bitsy dot in my vision.  OK, what the heck is that?  Is that in my eye, in my brain, one foot away, twenty feet away?  It’s appearing and disappearing, oh man,  not another new chemo side effect.  Then there are more of them, and I realize they are tiny tiny newborn spiders repelling down off the lamp hanging over the table .  Here we go with Life in the Country or Wild Kingdom, which ever is most.

What if we as newborns dropped down ropes into the Grand Canyon just for something to do on our first morning.  Yea,  I have to shake my head and admire God’s handiwork and admire the bravery of those itsy bitsy creatures.  Let’s see, which part of Mother Teresa’s message would those guys fit into best?  How about, “Life is an adventure, dare it.”

Just a little itsy bitsy message from little old me, love, Felipe.

A Rainy Bloggy Morning

Tomato with heart rocks.  Nice huh?

Tomato with heart rocks. Nice huh?

A little rain this AM, little being the keyword but more than a dust settler.  I should be thankful.  Was talking to my New York State corn buddy last evening.  Mel, was suprised that I was having to water my crop, saying you better be getting $10 a dozen.  Yea close, getting $9.

Anyway, a little rain can put me in the mood to blog.  Just listening to Aretha.  I don’t know about just, getting a little obsessed really.  Got five CDs cooking.  Got three in the ghetto blaster in the kitchen here, one in my pickup and one in Jennifer’s Audi.  Aretha everywhere all the time babies!

Father Tom sent me a Tom Bomb, my words for his awesome messages of trust and hope.  How do I rate my own Padre?  Anyway it was about blossoming in the second half of our lives.  Screw the slow slide into darkness, right?  Well, those are my words.  The basic message is, ” Remember to Live”.   Aye aye Sir!

Well, our big news at the ranch is the impending visit of our daughter and her family.  That’s Tesia, Ramon and little (but powerful) Osian.  They get in on a midnight flight from the east coast which translates to being on a 2 AM ferry back to the Island, what fun.  So you will hear more about that in the next few days.

Talked to Annie last night.  That ‘s always a shot of high voltage.   The movie is marching along.  Still some more parts to round up.  These things take time.

OK, time to go for me.  Have a few hours to baby proof.  Yikes, where to start?!?   Remember to live, love, Felipe.



Midnight In Paris, The Movie


My camera can't seem to stay away from these beautiful clouds.

My camera can’t seem to stay away from these beautiful clouds.

Last might we had movie night with Our Jennifer, My Rebecca and I.  Midnight in Paris is one of my favorite movies of all time and it is standing the test of time nicely or swimmingly actually.  It’s a Woody Allen.  Some films just go beyond entertainment and this is one of them.

This film’s theme, that incredible personalities are available to us despite time, is tweaking my little brain.  This is the idea behind the Communion of Saints I am thinking.   Once again I am way above my pay grade here but struggling onward with a good heart.   Communing with shining personalities from the seeming past is totally possible I am realizing.   We are beyond woo woo here on this one no problem.

Riding in an open car laughing and conversing with Saint James, Saints Patrick and Brigid, and Saints Francis and Clare that’s where I want to see myself.   There is an empty seat, should we pull over and pick you up?

All on a Thursday morning on Vashon Island, planet earth, I think.  Love you, Felipe.

From Mother Teresa

I never get tired of these clouds.

I never get tired of these clouds.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

~ Mother Teresa

Lassoing God



A couple of evenings ago.

A couple of evenings ago.

Yup, Jennifer again, my Cancer Camano Companera at it again.  We were doing “God talk” as Pilgrim Farmer Juan would say.  It was about not feeling overwhelmed with our walk, our Cancer Challenge.  About being able to not only function but to thrive in this special environment that we find ourselves.  How can that be?  What does that look like?  Is it available to us?

Of course, Jesus tells us nothing is impossible, but we are not going to do it alone, on our own.  We are not going to do it with our own resources formidable as we think they are.   We are used to improvising, adapting and overcoming to solve about anything.  But there is a certain point that we can’t go beyond on our own, not possible.

And this is the point in the conversation that Jennifer comes up with, ” Well, it’s time that I lasso God.”  Haha, I love it.  I get so used to living in my own brain with it’s own particular sensibilities.  The image, the thought, the vision would never occur to me but really it is totally perfectly beautiful, bold and ultimately useful.  I really can’t get it out of my head.

It boils down to putting God to work for us, although that sounds strange.  Isn’t it we that are supposed to serve God?   We have been told that a million times, literally.  But He is available and willing 24/7 to serve us.  All we have to do is move into that realm of faith where we acknowledge Him and agree that nothing is impossible if we work together.

Well, just insights along the Cancer Camino.   Make the most of today, love, Felipe.



Saint Clare’s Day Today



I have the luck to have a connection to this lovely saint.  It was a year ago today, that day, when I was on the Camino de Santiago.  The whole thing really started the evening before when Kelly and I went to a devotional in a small convent.

Born July 16, 1194 Assisi, Italy.  Died August 11, 1253 Assisi, Italy.

Next to me was Clare although I didn’t know it yet.  There were lovely nuns to lead us in praying the rosary.  They gave each one of us a Mary medal which would replace one that I would loose and then I would loose it also.

Born July 16, 1194 Assisi, Italy.  Died August 11. 1253 Assisi, Italy.

So, the next day we would walk together.  And it would be St Clare’s Day.  And this woman was from Assisi and St Clare’s namesake.  All that and I stumbled into it.   And she had an incredible cell phone which was continually ringing even though we were in the middle of nowhere and well wishers would wish her well.

She taught philosophy and history in a school in Assisi.  I learned a lot that day, chief of which was how to meet with St, James when and if I got to Santiago.  So, was she St Clare?

Born July 16, 1194 Assisi, Italy.  Died August 11, 1253 Assisi, Italy.

wishing you well, love, Felipe.