Blasting Headlong Toward The Vernal Equinox

Bananas from Hawaii.
(photo W Hayes)

“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Some famous sailor said that and that is what I am up to today. Leap Year Day today otherwise it would be March first. I know, I know, concentrate on the present moment. I am so trying but also feel the sucking vortex of Spring. Ahh glorious Spring, all my problems will be solved then, right?

Well, fun to have fun. The increase in the amount of daylight is highly apparent to me now here at the 47th parallel of north latitude. And that is big fun for sure! And with the light comes his buddy warmth. I saw the first rhododendron in bloom today. What a beauty!

I just got back from Bible Guys and I led on Revelation 10. We had tremendous discussion going on. There are only 11 verses in Chapter 10 and still it took me more than an hour to get through that. But I welcome the discussion and maybe egg it on really. We all done good on that one.

Walk tomorrow at 1530, our last afternoon session on the winter schedule. Then on March 8 we will start walking at 1600. Also on March 8 we will start our program of an hour long work party starting at 1500, voluntary of course. I will have some project lined up along the trail for us to work on. But that is only in decent weather. And then after that and after the walk we will have a glass of wine and some tapas. That’s all on Sundays. Let’s see how that goes and we can tweak it if necessary.

Oh, and the trail is all dry now. No bad mushy spots or standing water. It still may be be rubber boot time though.

hope to see you soon loves, Felipé.

Thank You Rho!

Not Rho, not Felipé but our man William reporting from Hawaii.
(photo W Hayes)

Rho’s blog post yesterday generated a whole passel of comments. Check those out. Always nice to have a guest blogger here at Caminoheads and beyond that she seems to have struck a chord with us as a group. We all seem to appreciate her thoughts on sufficiency.

It’s a very foggy morning here at the Ranch. Visibility is 50 yards. And that damp still air seems to chill us to the bones. It turns us inward. This is all in contrast to yesterday afternoon when everything was sunny, warm and expansive. We pull our neck back inside our shell. OK, will check again later, thanks anyway.

Just not coming out to play right now. It is like the whole process of Lent. I like that, Lent as a process. Time to look inward and take stock of our personal situation and of our personal relationship to God and our fellow man.

This is always hard to do with all the usual nagging distractions of life. Everything and everyone wants a piece of us. We have to be a little like the old lion tamer at the circus with an “on guard” chair and a cracking whip fighting to give ourselves some personal space.

And somehow this conflict has been all turned up lately with social media and the press almost bullying us with their ideas, priorities and interpretations. We need to get our internal lion tamer out to fight back the urge to panic and stampede. We need to believe in our own inner strengths and our own abilities to navigate through these times of doom and gloom. In other words be steady but we know that, just a reminder then.

Thanks Rho, we are sufficient, yes.

great big over the top loves, Felipé.

Rho’s Friday Guest Post A Day Early

(My Wifi is very funky this morning and is making my writing of today’s post difficult. So, here is Rho great guest post that is really for tomorrow to fill in. Felipé)

St Francis Basilica, 2018.
(photo by author)

“The Camino will provide.”

I have heard these words many times; from those who have experienced this in their personal journeys and from those encouraging others who are pondering this endeavor. As someone who has done spiritual pilgrimages in and around Assisi, Italy but has yet to do a walking Camino I too have pondered this phenomenon which many have confirmed to exist.

In November I had the opportunity to participate in a wonderful retreat at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Palos Verdes, California. It was led by none other than Terry Hersey, a fellow Vashon Islander and also good friend of Phil’s. While there were many aspects to this retreat I would say that the three themes which resonated with me the most were; the sacredness of the present moment, permission, and the one I want to explore here, the word sufficient.

Up until this retreat if someone were to ask me the opposite of scarcity, my answer easily would have been abundance. And I suppose in a literal, English language sense it is, but it wasn’t until last November that I was presented with a new thought from Terry, and I began to ponder if another opposite of scarcity could be the word sufficient.

For the past two years I have been actively pursuing a significant purge of items in my house. To say I had an abundance of stuff would be an understatement. This material excess has helped to keep my emotional connections to special times, people, and places, it has blinded me with feelings of security in knowing that if one is good 17 must be better, and I have come to understand it has filled a void of needed companionship. But in all this attaining I had never considered “What is enough?” What is sufficient?”

In learning to let go of stuff and all the emotional connections I have to it, I have at times felt as I did on those pilgrimages in Italy. Times where I could be present to the scared moments, clarity as to what I truly need in life, and sense an inclusion into the rhythm of life and those around me. During those times on my pilgrimages I was content with what I had. What was provided was sufficient and nothing more was needed.

Does the Camino provide because it knows our needs? Does it provide because we gain clarity to what our needs are? Or does it provide because when we are there we are open to receiving what is sufficient? And, what does one do with abundance on the Camino? Not the abundance of friendships built or gratitude generated but the abundance of having more than we need, more than we can carry, or more than we can eat.

When people say the words “The Camino will provide” they are sharing with us that we can trust our needs will be provided for and perhaps that is the true treasure of the word sufficient. Abundance can be a blessing, but is can also be a burden, yet with sufficient we can learn to experience, learn to trust, the contentment that comes with having just enough and that just enough can be sufficient.

Sufficient Blessings!


Diving Into Lent

White and purple crocuses by the house. Fresh new color!
(photo P Volker)

Here we are in the church calendar with the first day of Lent. The beginning of one of the two most holy periods of the year. Yes, the first day, today.

I just saw on FaceBook where Annie O’Neil is doing her forty days of Lent out of her book Everyday Camino With Annie. I did this in the Spring of 2014 before her book was a book and just before my Camino in July. It was tremendous preparation for the pilgrimage. It made it a pilgrimage for me let me say. So, she is starting March 1st so get in touch with her and sign up. I think that I will do it again myself.

I am quickly losing track but Easter will always be the anniversary of my conversion to the Catholic Church. What I am loosing track of is the year but I think that this year will be seven years. This was an extremely good move on my part in that at that time I was in the beginning turmoil of my cancer and needed support and comfort badly. And I found that big time. So, it will always be a special time for me.

Then there is the issue of, “What are you giving up for Lent?”. It was always gum or candy to my Catholic school chums. Being raised a Lutheran I somehow had special dispensation. Just love special dispensation. But as I grow older, a lot older, again it is back with me but in a broader form. A person could definitely give something up or then again maybe add something. Adding something commendable is totally appropriate, yes? Maybe adding a change to the way we do things. All this starts with an intention.

And I did sort of labor over my intentions for this Lent and nothing was really grabbing me, although that hardly means that there aren’t plenty of areas that need improvement. It is just that nothing was standing out. But then I remembered that I had started trying to track down someone that I haven’t seen in a long long time to ask for forgiveness for actions taken on my part long ago. It is something that would be good to resolve. So that is my season’s project I see now.

So with that little confession I need to get things organized for the day. I have been working on the church piano bench to get it there a half hour before this morning service at 10. Just need one more finishing touch to that and I will go deliver it and me.

diving into Lent loves, Felipé.

A Transition Is Taking Place

Some brave daffodils.
(photo P Volker)

I look out the window and see buds swelling on the weeping willow tree. All of a sudden it has a different look and that’s only going to progress. Gone is it’s skeletal look of winter. There is life anew.

And at the same time my ears hear the cracking of the fire in the woodstove as it happily burns away. Still plenty cold and still doing the winter thing here for now. Matter of fact we need some more firewood to get us through till the real warmth arrives.

The crocuses and snowdrops are blooming with the daffodils coming on. There is a little yellow on this bush and a little red showing on that bush in the yard. We are close to something. Saw a little yellow where the skunk cabbage usually comes up.

There is a day though when you look out and just everything looks better like a critical mass has been reached. We are too early for that but still progress is happily apparent. Hope is in the air.

It is time to poke around with the probe on the soil thermometer to see what the soil is doing. I am always trying to learn what is going on with the land in different areas. All nooks and crannies of our ten acres were not created equal.

And the birds are still hungry for the imported seeds that we put out. My walkers love to carry the coffee cans around the trail to refill the feeders. It is a constant chore to keep at least some of them filled at any given time. And the eagles are starting to show up to soar around overhead. One day My Rebecca and I saw eight all at the same time but that was a record.

Well, time to get my show on the road. I got shopping duty today. And also have a tractor and a piano bench to repair before the day is over.
Mr Generalist here. Oh, and our walk this afternoon at 1530.

there is progress loves, Felipé.

Did I Tell You?

To The Field of Stars by Kevin A Codd.
(photo P Volker)

I don’t know if I mentioned it but I got a new book going. This is after the Via Francigena one that I fell in love with and that is a hard act to follow. This new one Catherine gave me for Christmas. I have been trying my best to put a dent in my rather large Christmas pile.

This one is entitled To The Field of Stars by Kevin A Codd, published 2008. It is actually Father Codd. It is a very detailed description of his walk along the Camino de Santiago.

I have to admit that I am not going to give a very complete report on this book but I was very moved by the chapter that I read last night. There just was a lot of whining up to that point and just the beginning of insight. But maybe that is good for the new folks to see and hear. But I thought that it was a burden, reading about it that is. But if you were never there you wouldn’t know how much there is to over come at times especially early on.

But last eventing I got to the point where he was describing the walk from Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada and sort of all hell broke loose in pilgrim terms. SD is described as the spiritual heart of the Camino and that is what he hits and does so well describing. I can remember hitting this and I don’t know if it was exactly in this same geographic location for me but it was definitely a happening.

I think now it is when my fast dwindling personal reserves that I had been relying upon finally ran out and I had to have the Camino catch me. I was laughing and crying at the same time as I walked the trail and worn down to the nubs in every department. Finding a new way to operate was the name of the game. So, needless to say I was very moved as I was reliving this as I read his description.

So,the book turned a corner for me and I go on cheerfully. Thank you Catherine for the gift. Off I go into my Monday.

laughing and crying loves, Felipé.

Sunday After A Crazy Night

ID in my Stumpie botany textbook.
(photo P Volker)

A crazy night weather wise here. Thunder and lightning, high winds. We never lost our power but half the Island did, knock on wood. Maybe that is over. But made it to church and most folks showed up maybe a little later than usual.

Ah, Sunday, the day of rest. Somehow I never quite get there to that happy place. But I will keep trying. Just catching some national news about the results out of Nevada for the Dems. I see old Joe Biden kind of lagging lately and I thought that I would put a good word for him. Here is a little history.

Back out of high school I went to college down the road about a hundred and forty miles to Syracuse, NY. I was enrolled in the NYS College of Forestry which was on campus at Syracuse University. This was one of the first forestry colleges in the country, not the first but close. Since 1965 it has changed it’s name to some new age rendition and is not the College of Forestry anymore. Chainsaws have been replaced by digital devices or something like that. New friendlier lumberjacks now.

Anyway one of my high school chums and I shared a dorm room in Watson West dormitory which was maybe 10% Stumpies. That’s what the College of Forestry guys and one gal were known as around campus. Yea, our class had the first female ever. We didn’t quite know what to think of her but we were friendly.

OK, Felipé get to the point of it. Yea, so on the third floor of Watson West we had two floor counselors, Roger and Joe. They were grad students and we were dorky freshman. They were cool and fun and we all played flag football against Watson East and stuff like that. And Joe was THE Joe Biden 1965 model. Well, that was that as I finished out that year and moved on to the Marine Corps for other fun and games in 1966.

And I don’t know anything about Joe that you don’t know but it is kind of fun to think about. He could possibly be the next Prez proving something like “you never know!”

Alperfect after the storm loves, Felipé.

How About That Guy On Friday

Check it out!
(photo P Volker)

Yea, Pilgrim Farmer John was off and running at the blog yesterday separating the sheep from the goats. He is really taken with this idea of walking the Via Francigena that is the setting of this book that I am head over heels about, A Pilgrimage To Eternity. Maybe I’m more on sitting on the couch and reading about it than he is.

One of my Camino friends Lucia from Sicily was big on this. She had done stretches of it in Italy which sounds pretty much like heaven to me. Maybe I will try and contact her and see if there is anything new that she can tell us. One thing that I know because I have been following this story for a while is that the trail is a real thing in Italy. What I mean is that it has real accommodations and signage. And the trail gets more primitive or really nonexistent as you look northward.

I know that doesn’t sound right to have a trail that isn’t real in places but that is the story. It is being reclaimed from the overlay centuries of civilization. It’s been largely built on and crisscrossed by all manner of mankindness since Sergeric the Serious traveled it and documented it in early nine something. His writings are being used as a blueprint in this reconstruction. How fun!

So it doesn’t really exist as any more that an idea in it’s more northern reaches. But that has a sort of appeal to it too for some guys and girls. It’s the modern version of pioneer trail breaking maybe.

Early on when millions of pilgrims per year trekked the trail and the accommodations did exist and that is part of the history that is so rich in these places that it travels through. There was a whole system of monasteries and abbeys that sheltered, tended and fed the wayfarers.
This is the original way it was done. Or maybe not the original but the high point of the situation. So today this only exists as an idea, far away from our reality. But they are working on it.

So maybe more to come on this topic in the future. I will check with friend Lucia for anything I can glean. So stay tuned!

Time to prepare dinner. We have venison barbecue on the menu for tonight. Walk tomorrow at 1530. Maybe see ya.

dreaming of pilgrimage loves, Felipé.

Pilgrim Farmer John Is Here For Us, It’s Friday!

Map from Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan. There’s England, France, Switzerland and Italy.
(photo P Volker)

Hola Felipe et al!

For 40 odd years, my daily routine involved the care and feeding of cattle. Bovines of nearly every size, shape and description, from new baby calves all the way up to their huge Bovine sires weighing a ton or more. Winters were a test for all of us, caretakers and animals alike. And during those short-of-sun days, I had calculated that the temperature of 22 degrees Fahrenheit as about the “perfect” winter temperature. It wasn’t deadly, miserably cold, like those days where the thermometer didn’t get on the uphill side of zero, and the cattle water tanks would freeze over nearly as quickly as I would get them thawed out. And it wasn’t in those mid to upper 30s, where the mud and the manure would go from solid to liquid-y state and quickly soak up all the dry cornstalk bedding that I had so laboriously spread out in the pens for the animals to lay on and stay dry. No, 22 degrees was, as the baby bear said to his mommy and daddy bear at Goldy Lock’s porridge table, “Just Right”. But now, these days, with the cattle enterprise all referred to in the past tense, 22 degrees seems more than a little on the “cold” side. I’m reluctant to admit that this is a “weakening” of my physical condition, but in fact, that may be at least partially true.

I discuss this at length mainly to compare our Midwest view with that of our beloved Felipe in his Island Home, where he, as rural folks are wont to do, keeps us appraised of the daily weather conditions there. And that is my lead-in to my “message of the day” offered as one of the Bureau Chiefs “Friday Sub Blog Post”. It happens to fit with some of the incredibly wonderful “take-aways” from the book Phil has alerted us to; Timothy Egan’s “A Pilgrimage to Eternity”. Such fabulous reading! On a subject near and dear to all of our Pilgrim hearts and minds, no less!

Timothy’s Pilgrimage takes place on the Via Francigena, the ancient route from Canterbury, England to Rome, (map hopefully visible to all here). The book could be an entire course, all by itself, but I’m limiting today’s Blog to just some early nuggets that seem to be so apropos to all of us today. His discussion of “why we Pilgrim” is so spot on! Egan has this as a description of one of his fellow Pilgrims: “Laurenzi is sixty-three, and in this new beginning he thinks his trip may be nothing more than a break from “the sad reality of modern life”. But he’s also trying to resolve a spiritual quandary, he is unable to explain a couple of events in his life–occasions when he should have been killed in freak accidents. It made him think he was spared for a reason,that perhaps a greater power had intervened. He won’t call it a miracle, just something he’s unable to square with his current state of atheism. Deep walking, a term modern pilgrims throw around, is a way to resolve his inner conflicts. “I just cannot slot in these anecdotes and experiences into my intellectual framework”, he wrote of his motive for committing to the Via Francigena.” My dearest faithful friend from my now seven year’s past Camino, Angela from Australia, is set to do this entire Way starting in April. Her home as a younger person was England, so she’ll be starting on her home turf. I try very hard NOT to be envious of her upcoming Pilgrimage. Suffice to say, I would love to be along.

Something our author Timothy has to look forward to that we veterans of the Camino de Santiago didn’t, is the possibility of actually seeing and visiting with the Holy Father on his eventual arrival in Rome. It is part of his goal, and feels as real to him as our visions of the Cathedral of Santiago did to us as we took our first steps west on the Way. Timothy’s words again: “It’s hard not to like a Pope who is honest about his imperfections, a long way from infallible, a pope who withdraws his hand when people try to kiss his ring. As Pope, he washes the feet of prisoners and the poor, shares meals with the homeless and refugees. His response of “Who am I to judge?” on many questions of social morality leaves many in wonderment.

I don’t want to take too much of the story away from those who may choose to read this wonderful Pilgrim’s book, but I want to “set the hook” to get you to look at it.

Via Francigena Pilgrim pining,
Pilgrim Farmer John
Midwest Bureau Chief

Back From The Institute

Little snowdrops on a frosty morning.
(P Volker)

We are celebrating onward after yesterday’s good news. It just was a great day no matter where you were in the area. Everyone was on happy juice. The weather was gorgeous and we have another good day today it looks like. Must be livin right!

I actually had a hard time breaking away from the Institute yesterday. Wonderful nurse friends there and we have to always catch up on news. Then I may get to mentor a patient which is the best. I did have a lunch session with a gal that is taking treatment there that I haven’t seen in six months. She doesn’t know how powerful she is getting. She doesn’t realize her own power, in other words. A celebrity in the making. I was talking her up you might imagine.

That’s part of our pilgrim job description, right, to talk each other up and keep us moving? Well, I have always thought so. We all need that at times, the encouragement. And we don’t need to look too far if we have good companions close by, as in the person walking next to us.

Well, off to my own walk here in a minute. Blue sky and a warm sun out there on the trail. Where are my boots?

stay close loves, Felipé.