Hair Story, Good One

  A fire in the stove to keep us warm.


I had some pretty good material on hand for the post today and then Pilgrim Farmer John commented in with a killer hair story.  More specifically a chemo hair story which is where we left off yesterday.  Something like hair today gone tomorrow.


“Jon I. was the very first friend I made (and I mean that explicitly; as I identified him as someone I wanted to be my friend) in Officer Candidate School at Quantico. We went through that “rigorous” training together helping and encouraging each other all the way. We stayed “tight” all through the 6 months of The Basic School and then parted ways as he went off to flight school and I went to Camp LeJeune to become a Combat Engineer Officer. Our friendship was totally cemented in those 9 months of “togetherness”, and would remain so for the rest of our lives. Jon’s wife was Marcia, and she was a spitfire of a woman and brought her own electrical storm with her wherever she was; the proverbial “fiery redhead” with a gorgeous head of curly hair. When she started her chemo treatments, that beautiful mane was the first thing to go. Our mutual buddy, Ken Brust (your Vashon Camino amigo) and I planned a trip out West to see her and each of us got a total head shave to surprise her with on our arrival. She laughed and cried and cried and laughed and loved us even more than any of us thought possible. One of my best memories of all time. It is up to Ken and I to remember those moments now as Jon has slipped into that innocent fog of Alzheimer’s. There may be no explanation for beauty, but we know it takes many forms.



Love, Felipe.


Continue reading

Beauty And Genius Require No Explanation

Back home.


I just heard that on a hockey show out of Canada just now.  I am short on inspiration this afternoon and that just fell into my lap.  Yea, OK.  Can we do something with that?

Maybe not.  What is really taking up my attention right now is that my hair seems to be falling out.  I had some loss way back when and lost maybe a third of it and then it held so I really didn’t get bald.  Not that that would be the end of the world since guys with no hair is in vogue.  So, practically, I think I will take a shower and see what happens.

In reality there are numerous side effects from the abuse of chemo and they are all a pain but hair loss seems the most obvious and gets the most attention.  People in people in general don’t know this and sort of glom on to hair.  Obviously me dealing with this for so long have had experience with the many facets but ironically had little trouble with hair.

Well, beauty and genius require no explanation but apparently hair does.  I guess we are a vain group of campers as a whole.  Well I will let you know what happens with my situation.

If I haven’t told you guys recent that I love you I will right now.  I love you, you are the best.  Bald loves, Felipe.



Back At The Ranch Drinking Rosé Part Two

Baby Pic!  Grandma Rebecca knitted that little sleeping bag for Freya.  Nice work girls!  


I can’t seem to connect with my website from the hospital anymore.  So here I am in the early evening with things undone still.  But we are working on it finally.

Our daughter Tesia had a photo shoot of Freya today and sent łn some shots so have one in place above.  I like the shapes and the colors on that one.  Good job girls!

Got a package in the mail, a book.  Annie sent it from LA.  It’s entitled Cancer: Exploring Your Path written by Teresa Matthews.  Teresa or Terry signed it for me.  I see that Annie stayed at her home in Chico for the recent showing of Phil’s Camino.  The book looks like it is chock full of good and inspiring words.  Thanks girls!

I will add that book to the pile on my to-read-table.  And this trusty piece of furniture is doing yeoman’s work these days.  It is stacked about to the ceiling with reads.  I had a idea the other day about doing an engineering survey of the table as it exists under the massive strain.  But the hopeful thing is that I am in a reading phase now with all the winter down time and I appear to be keeping about even if not getting ahead maybe.

The good news for the books is that I don’t have a strict rule about reading them in order of when they came.  Terry’s book could be next,, leaping ahead.  Right now I am working on Hard Scrabble by John Graves which came in from Dave from Austin.  It is a story about a piece of land in Texas, the book akin to Aldo Leopold’s classic Sand County Almanac about acreage in Wisconsin. Nice work boys!

Well my battery is low, in me and in my iPad.  Good job guys!  Time for an exit.  Maybe I’ll read or watch some hockey.

TGIF loves, Felipe.





Fresh Hot Vignettes Here!

St Martin


OK, well right now we have only one fresh story ready to go.  But it’s smokin hot and just in from Cris our South American  Bureau Chief   You know when we first figured out that this blog had vignettes happening I called for an immediate pay raise for the staff here.  Let me credit Pilgrim Farm John our North American Heartland Bureau Chief for helping with that finding.

A vignette is a glimpse.  Cris sent in this one that fits with the current thread where we are speaking of the relationships between folks on the Camino.  How they coped and came up with new ways to think about situations to make them work gracefully.  So, here is Cris’ story as I pull it out of the comments to highlight it for our benefit:

“I agree with what the other Caminoheads said; and what Catherine said about the Camino being a holy place, I also had that sense, many times, for many reasons. Even those moments that could have been read as “respectful”, they were indeed holy, sacred, as if (most of) everybody had understood that there were boundaries to be kept, not because we had to, but because they made the “deal”.

“I remember one night in a packed albergue, the group that night was a old priest from Scotland, a couple on their late 60ies, a man with his 14 years old daughter, another man in his 50/60ies and a few others (of us) who may be in the “hostel-mixed shared room-friendly” age group, and may have not cared too much about undressing/dressing in front of others. But implicitly, none did that. When we were all getting ready to sleep, a very handsome 27 years old German guy said loudly: “I love how caring we are for each other”, totally out of the blue. Then he said, “We are not respectful, we are caring. I would love a world like the Camino.” The priest (who we thought was sleeping already) gave a blessing to us all, and I am sure there were many tears of joy watering sleeping bags.

“All of us got what he said, everybody in that room cared for the other, with a very simple act like changing the clothes to go to sleep in the bathroom… Not because there was something terrible about that, but because the space shared was holy.

I still speak with most of the people that were in that room… and as I am writing, I can bring back the joy of that young guy saying those words.”

Cris, Buenos Aires

Wow, terrific material, thanks Cris!  What a great cross section of folks from all over with different language and different backgrounds.  And with different levels of being beat up by their day’s trek.  They had energy left to be aware of the needs of others.  It was a defining moment I think it is termed.  So much so that she is still in contact with all or most of the group so randomly thrown together in a jumble but having a very positive communal experience.

Alperfect, random jumble love, Felipe.






Back At The Ranch Drinking Rosé

I think this is me.


OK, safe and sane back were I should be after high adventures in the city today.  Bless Catherine for escorting Felipe through that labyrinth.  I think I wore her out so will have to come up with a little meaningful present to buoy her up.

Well, I guess I stirred the Caminoheads’ pot here lately with my last couple of posts.  Sort of rattled the old cage.  And I got a pile of unanswered comments to prove it.

Saint James is going to help me with this situation I am sure.  I am confident.  Love it that I think that way or that Felipe thinks that way.  In addition here is my theory on blog writing and that is you can’t set out to solve all the world problems in one post.  Be specific and express one thing per day, per session.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  So, I’m sticking pretty close to that.

So, so far so good you’ll.  I’m going to quit while I am ahead here today and promise that I will be back on the morrow to continue with the thread.  It deserves my full attention and I am too scattered presently.  Cage rattled love, Felipe.






sticking to that.

Just A Short Post


Hi. I’m at the hospital and Catherine is with me today.  There is trouble with the hospital WiFi so she has created a hotspot for me with her phone and shazam!  I just wanted to say that we are alive and well and surviving on pastrami sandwiches and ginger ale.  It’s tough but we will make it through somehow.

We are about to get released so no time for a proper blog post.  I’ve had a fun morning watching clouds and flirting with my nurses but it is really time to go.  Love you guys, Felipe.


We will keep each other warm.


Good morning.  Gray and quiet here, perfect for blogging.  I cruised through my Face Book news a minute ago and one item struck me and threw the catalyst in my thinking this morning to try and express something that I have noticed/observed/wondered about.

Here is the basic idea.  Generally men who have had the Camino experience, not only had but internalized to some degree, seem to be changed rather substantially.  This is all very unscientific but it my cause some conversation here so therefore useful.   But I feel that the overall Camino experience is more of a feminine phenomenon than a masculine one.  That women are already closer to the message than men are generally.  They start out closer so that the potential for change is less.  Does that make sense?

Me included, Camino men seem “goofy”.  This is my word for what I notice.  And I don’t mean goofy in a bad way but in a way that says out of the ordinary, or left handed or not quite fitting the old definition.  Or maybe new ingredient added.  There has been a shift somehow.

I do hope this doesn’t get me into too much trouble but what I see is palpable and worth the mention.  And worth the mention in the climate of today with all the allegations of sexual harassment about and all the fear that that has produced.  We need to figure this issue out.

Here is the FB post that sparked my thoughts today:


Thanks Kate Willett.


The jumble of physical contact between men and women on the Camino was out of the ordinary for most people I think.  The striving to understand the proper etiquette for toilet, shower and dressing room areas was a constant challenge and a unending source of humor amoung participants.  That was just one aspect.  The jumble of contacts there and other places lead to new ways to deal and think.  It was not standard for sure.

Not that men in general are harassers but our thinking, our posture, our approach reflects past realities.   It’s all very refreshing, this movement toward something new.  It is not a movement with marches and slogans but it is of the organic variety and we are living it and figuring it out as we go, as we walk.

That is enough for today.  I need to get on with my day.  My main goal today is to make a couple of high quality meatloafs or is it meatloaves? Hmm.

Love, Felipe.





Second gear

Kelly’s best pic, in my estimation anyway. It is about looking at the Camino from some inner place.


Feeling on the slightly better side these hours.  I am eating better and having more energy.  Another weird deal is that two thirds of my voice left.  Well, we will see what today will bring.

Boy, there has been a lot of traffic here at the Caminoheads with regard to the Molokai film.  “I’ve been there!”   “Where can I get this movie?”  “My mother used to volunteer there after the war.”  “There is a book, Molokai.”  “There are a few chapters in the Michener novel Hawaii.”  “In the fall of 2009, myself and several faculty and students made it to the Vatican for Fr. Damien’s coronation.”  “Remember we went to the play Damien.”

This story definitely has legs.  I guess the book is in my future.  And we will have more about dear Father Damien.

Well, the trail calls.  Have ten minutes to get my boots on and find the logbook.  Misty and foggy out there just like it is supposed to be, ahh January.

Love, Felipe.


…you are my favorite lobster!



In the category of you can’t make this stuff up, this is a greeting I got this morning.  Catherine said to me, “Phil Volker you are my favorite lobster!”  Well, I was wearing a lobster tie that I inherited from Catherine’s father’s collection.  Every well dressed dude ought to have some sort of crustacean themed necktie, don’t you think?

I was celebrating actually and wearing a tie to Mass.  I won a bid on some cabinets that will carry me through a month of the rainy winter.  Now that I’ve got the woodstove in the shop things will be cozy on top of that.  So yea, lobster ties all around!

And I am feeling better, not great but I’m in second gear anyway.  That’s a celebration there.  Man, things were pretty weird there for a while.  Thanks for your prayers out there.

It is a beautiful day here and our walk is in a few hours so stop by.  OK, things are looking up here at Raven Ranch.  We’ve achieved some wiggle room.  Love, Felipe.







A Movie For You

Damian High School gym.


It’s the afternoon and late for getting this post out.  Oh, but I’m here now.  And at this point I can honestly say that this was one of my hardest weeks with my chemo marathon.  It hasn’t been fun but it has been important.  I am crawling up the old learning curve to hopefully figure out how to live with these new chemicals.  Learning the ropes they used t say.

So, while I am doing that I can carry on with my life as best as possible.  It’s actually a nice day out and normally I would be out there making the most of it but I lack the energy.  But there is playoff football this afternoon and am looking forward to that.

Back to movies, a couple of nights ago I watched Molokai the story of Father Damien.  Very well done and accurate as far as I know.  And I don’t know too much.  But what a powerful story.

The basic story is the quarantining of Hawaiians who had caught leprosy on the remote island of Molokai.  People were serrated from their families and basically dumped there with only primitive facilities to live out their days.  It was a bad situation.  But Father Damien stepped forward to go and minister to that population.  In the process he comes down with the disease and dies but not before the world knew about it an things improved for his flock.

I have been reflecting on it ever since.  What a story of dedication and sacrifice.  We had a discussion about sacrifice this morning at Bible Guys and I brought up Father Damien.  We were studying Hebrews chapter nine which is all about ceremonial sacrifice and how that plays  in the Hebrew Covenant and the Christian Covenant.  So, after that when we took some time for personal thoughts I mentioned Father Damien’s story.

Molokai is highly recommended to you.  You have to be in the right mood though I must mention, no light weight viewing.  OK, you have been informed.

Off to football,  love you, Felipe.