Maggie From Astorga

I am just going to give Maggie the spotlight whenever she shows up. She is doing a wonderful job of reporting. Let’s do a wonderful job of sending our thoughts and prayers off to her.

“Today was a recovery day from 30.2 walk to Astorga, mostly in the rain. I came down with a bad cough and a was a bit feverish, so went to the local clinic. They were totally wonderful to me. I must say that for the 6_week Spanish class I did, followed with an online pgm Duo Lingo, it definitely is helping me.

This is the next morning. My fever broke so now I’ll definitely be feeling better. Good timing because tomorrow is one of the biggest challenges going from Rabanal to Molinaseca.

As this journey continues, the bonds between fellow pilgrims strengthens. I can walk for hours on my own, then stop at a cafe and see many with whom I have walked. We are all feeling the same; some aches here and there, fatigue, but mostly the joy of coming together. Word is out about my 80th ‘compleanos’ coming up and I’m so touched by the comments I get from so many younger people.

Just leaving now after enjoying my favourite ‘coffee con leche’. More later.”




I can feel from reading between the lines that Maggie has reached that stage when pilgrims greeting each other with “Buen Camino” and it has taken on the new meaning of, “Yea, I may have bugs in my teeth, leaves in my hair and blisters on my feet but I’m still doing it and so are you!” Been there, love, Felipe.

Phil’s Camino 10/19/15

Going into the woods on Phil's Camino as we move slowly along.

Going into the woods on Phil’s Camino as we move slowly along.

We are here hiking along “through Spain”. We are generally east of Pamplona. Just passed through Zariquiegui, Urterga and most recently Muruzabal. We are coming up on Obanos and then Puente la Reina.

Our current schedule is Monday 9-10, Tuesday 4-5, Thursday 9-10 and Sunday 4-5.

I may be taking a few days off for hunting trips but will try to have someone here to walk with you. Onward, Felipe.

Monday Early

I found one last sunflower blooming.  Sort of small, bedraggled, isn't she beautiful!

I found one last sunflower blooming. Sort of small, bedraggled, isn’t she beautiful!

Remember in Spain the metering of water and electricity. Here at home I turn on the tap water or the light switch and it just goes whether I really need it or not. There along the Camino at least the water taps ran for a certain time and then shut down. Ah, including showers! Including the public fountains for valuable drinking water out in the middle of nowhere, which made a lot of sense. Water conservation all around. And similarly the electric lights mostly ran on motion sensors which lead to some interesting moments in water closets and stairways. Electric power conservation all around.

All that took some getting used to but I sort of got in their groove after a time. The intermittent shower was my least favorite though. Here at the ranch we are used to watching our water use during the dry summer season anyway. So back home here I have made some difference in our electrical use by seeing light in a different way. Instead of lighting a whole big space evenly better to light the points where people gather. If there is just one group then bringing the light in just to them makes them special, an ambiance thing.

Bringing this this all back to “Monday Early” like the title of this post, I was up early, 0630, and had made myself breakfast. I was just sitting down at the kitchen table after having just turned off all the extrainous lights. Just the one over the table was burning and I was grooving on the ambiance thing while getting ready to enjoy my breakfast when…

My Rebecca is a substitute teacher in the local school district. She has an old time certification that says she can teach in K through 12 which is the whole thing from youngest to oldest. So, she is the perfect substitute. She is perfect in another way which I will attempt to describe.

So, yea, the phone rings at 0700 and it is Barb the secretary at the Middle School. She is trying to find a substitute to fill in last minute for a sick teacher. I wake My Rebecca and she can make it from a dead sleep, to cold pizza breakfast to the middle school classroom in less than an hour on a Monday morning. Now that’s perfect! I guess I have given her good training putting up with me. Amazing.

Just a description of our morning. Me trying to snuggle into cozy Spanish ambiance and My Rebecca zooming by me in a cloud of dust to ride herd down the road. OK, then, I can finish up this post and do a walk at 0900. The rain has stopped but I will need boots in the wet grass. Good luck getting your week started, love you, Felipe.

Off To Mass

One of Maggie's pics.

One of Maggie’s pics.

Catherine is going to pick me up in a moment. Off to be at the early Mass at St John Vianney’s at 0800. We’ll get our spiritual batteries recharged.

I hope my day is reasonable. Yesterday I was really fatigued from the chemo. Could barely work the TV remote, that’s bad. Feeling half way decent at the moment.

Thinking of Maggie on the Camino west of Leon. What an inspiration for us, yes? I wish I were there to roll Compeed out ahead of her like a red carpet.
Go get’em Maggie! Can’t wait for her musings on her pilgrimage.

One of the readings today was from the New Testament book of Hebrews. It just jumped out at me concerning having confidence to pray for oneself and one’s own needs. This is from a very modern version called the Message. Hebrews 4:16 says: “So, let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

This has to do with my struggles described in the October 13th post: A Mix Of Confidence And Desperation. Well, that’s all I have for today. Still feeling tired. The best to you, love, Felipe.

TGIF Cherry #13 10/16/15

Nice tomatoes Felipe !

Nice tomatoes Felipe !

Guess what? Cherry from Down Under is back again. She would have been here earlier but I hadn’t asked. This is her thirteenth Thank Goodness It’s Friday piece. Usually she sends a pic but not this time So I’ll put in the popular tomato pic. Thanks Cherry!

“Nice tomatoes Phil!!!

Here’s a quick post for TGIF.

Another important lessons I learnt on Camino was that most things I used to stress and worry about in my everyday life, in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter that much. The important things that do matter to me are the health and happiness of myself and others.

I seem to have settled quite comfortably into urban life here in Sydney. I have a fantastic job helping unemployed people secure sustainable jobs. I found a cute little apartment close to the beach and my office so I can walk to work.

I was surprised at how easily I transitioned from full-time traveller to full-time tax payer. I think it helps that I am helping others. I think it helps that I remember the importance of happiness. That’s why I try and choose to enjoy each moment.

Happiness is a state of mind after all. It is fairly easy to focus the mind on being happy when things are going well. When things are tough, however, this can be a little more challenging.

I have to remind myself when I’m getting stressed or frustrated that really all this little stuff I’m stressed or frustrated about doesn’t really matter. I’ve been practicing this and it’s amazing how I can actually train my mind to often turn these negative thoughts around. These are just my thoughts and I have the ability to choose which ever ones I want.

I’ve not mastered the art of doing this all the time yet. However, if I can choose to be happy and enjoy each moment as I’m experiencing it, this only eventuates to a more fulfilling existence.

Today I choose to be happy.
Love love, Cherry.”

Our New Companara, Maggie

Maggie showed up big time on our radar screen several days ago thanks to a friend of Our Jennifer’s. I contacted Maggie and she gave me the okay to pass along her words and pics of her current navigation of the Camino de Santiago. The short background is that she is 79 years old and walking and planning on finishing (God willing) on her 80th birthday.

So, let’s get started:

October Spanish agricultural landscape.

October Spanish agricultural landscape.

Burgos Cathedral at night.  Beautiful!

Burgos Cathedral at night. Beautiful!

Altarpiece in Burgos Cathedral, I'm pretty sure.

Altarpiece in Burgos Cathedral, I’m pretty sure.

“From day 1 the weather has been absolutely gorgeous which is so fortunate because often the most spectacular vistas are fogged in. There is far too much to write about this experience , especially on a phone keyboard. The walking is going great albeit a few blisters. Avg day is 20/30 kms. Going over the Pyrenees was a baptism of fire. OMG…but I came out of it with memories of a lifetime. The Albergue / hostels have been great. My favourite part is the communal pilgrims’ dinner. Each one is so very different but what remains consistent is the diversity of people, a sense of family and the making of new friendships that I know will continue. I have some days when I walk alone for hours, nary a soul in sight. Love it!”



And Maggie between her walking friends.  Buen Camino!

And Maggie between her walking friends. Buen Camino!

Inspiring yes? I can’t wait to meet her in person at some point. Love you Maggie! Keep going! Time for breakfast here on Vashon Island. Squeezes big time, Felipe.

Dana y Catherine y The Heart Carrot

Heart carrot, who would have thought!

Heart carrot, who would have thought!

One of the best things in what happens in our neighborhood is C y D’s garden scene. It’s latest gift to the world is this beautiful heart! Man we need to bronze it or something. I don’t know any details or particulars on this but wow!

Another wow that needs reporting on is lunchtime at the hospital yesterday. This is the respite in the big day of the Cancer Camino for Our Jennifer and myself. In the spirit of having as much fun as possible and keeping our weight up we decided that having a picnic lunch along would be a excellent idea. I think that this is our fourth try at it as we take turns surprising the other
with yummy content and grandure.

On the Jennifer’s menu was deviled eggs, Buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce, pickled prawns, assorted olives. There was a drink but I’m not sure what it was although sometimes it’s white and sometimes red and sometimes sort of an in between rose color. Anyway dessert was homemade delicious cheese cake. Then coffee and gummy bears (health food for the nails). I probably left something out, oh yes ambience, of course. Have table cloth and battery tea light along.

That was all Our Jennifer’s doing although the tablecloth and candle were my responsibility. So, yea, but how am I going to top that two weeks from now? Better start early hey? OK, I am going to try and do another post (didn’t get one in yesterday) and breakfast in the next hour. Walking at 0900. Miss you, love you, Felipe.

A Mix Of Confidence And Desperation

That's me and my childhood buddy Jim.   The fishing was slow.

That’s me and my childhood buddy Jim. The fishing was slow.

Tuesday morning here and just finished up writing and reading emails. Well, it is never finished, right? I just thought of a biggie that I missed but nothing life and death.

Yea, life and death, that has to do with with confidence and desperation in a very real way. I have been conferring with my mentors about the process of praying for miracles. All kinds of fears popped up for me when I thought about doing this. Deep inner stuff like, who am I to do this or do I have enough faith? I would have no problem praying for other people’s miracles but my own was a different kettle of fish. Strange phenomenon but real. I guess praying for my own put me too much in the spotlight.

So I have been wrestling with this. Wrestling is a good thing ultimately, tiring in the short run but big payoff in the long. So ! was listening to the local Catholic radio station a few days ago and there was a talk on this very topic, suprise suprise.

The idea expressed was that to do this very thing one must have a mix of confidence and desperation. Usually, we don’t put thes two words in the same sentence. The confidence comes from knowing, understanding and internalizing the idea that nothing is impossible with God. Right? Just what would be impossible?

The desperation isn’t hard to get to and it provides the energy that one needs to persevere along this road of reaching for God. Does that make sense? I for one never got close to these ideas, feelings, askings in “normal” life. It takes desperate times to bring these out.

So I have spent a lot of my free time lately they to visualize the tumors within me and asking God to provide for them to start shrinking in size. Medicine has kept them confined in number and slowed in growth. I am thankful but realizing that as time marches on they will catch up to my well being.

Dr Zucker, told me at our last meeting that in non medical terms God is keeping me alive to fulfill my mission. And when I think about that it is a miracle already in itself that has already happened. Althankful, love you, Felipe.

Brierley And The Memory Machine

The Brierley and the Phil's Camino logbook, new friends.

The Brierley and the Phil’s Camino logbook, new friends.

More about Brierley today I guess because his numerous pix are priceless. They have a way of jogging the memory. Maybe he ought to do a complete picture book one of these years.

I haven’t really looked at the Brierley for a long time but it is excellent for recounting the towns and landscapes for me now. This is especially good right now as We are doing Phil’s Camino and trying to get in tune with where we would be in Spain each day. I walked this morning and now we have 79.2 kilometers walked and we are at the town of Zariquiegui and don’t ask me to pronounce that but I can find it on the map.

We are on page four and past Pamplona and past Cizur Menor and climbing elevation. This town we are at is about half way up the Alto del Perdon, the Mountain of Forgiveness. Looking back we see Pamplona and the Pyrennes.

Yea so, I think I will use the Brierley as a companion to my logbook. It will be good to jar my memory and fill in the blanks for visitors. Yes, a good addition to the process. Thank you Mr. Brierley, I take back everything I said about you, just joking.

This is Monday and Wednesday Our Jennifer and myself will be off to the hospital for our treatment again. But I have two days to get some work done. The weather is fairly good and not an impediment to progress. So, I will go for now, thinking of you, love, Felipe.