Write About The Pigs

Firewood time at the ranch.
(photo P Volker)

That’s My Rebecca reminding me to write about the dream I had two mornings ago, it had some pigs in it, too many pigs. Anyway, here I am right now at 7:30 in the evening hammering out the blogpost. Way too busy to get to it today yet. But here I am.

Well, what the heck Felipé why the heck were you too busy for us. Yea, we had Bible Guys first thing over Zoom. That went pretty well, I think that we can work with it. Then I was off with Wiley who scheduled an arborist friend of his to come over and take down three problem trees in his front yard next door. So, a bunch of Wiley’s friends and myself were the ground crew hauling and managing all the debris. Wore me out keeping up with the young bucks. So, I have a good excuse for a late hand in on the blog.

But the pigs, yes Dear. I have identified a state of mind that I have been prone to slip into these daze. Yes, that’s very apt, daze. Sometimes people can get in a situation in which they freeze up because of fear as in “deer in the headlights” but it is not that. It is that with all the crazy happenings lately I have a hard time processing it all and my mind can drift into a sort of stupor where I am far away from my task at hand. I know just in general it is hard to have a clear thought without the virus or the economy impinging. So I call this state a stupor.

So, as happens I had this dream early in the morn that shook me awake and cured me of this problem at least temporarily. In the dream I was unconscious on the ground and got these strange nudgings and sounds that at first were hard to identify in my state. And slowly I was forced toward the surface. Things were smelling my hand and face. I suddenly realized I was surrounded by herd of pigs and they were getting close to eating me. This happens if you don’t know. And in this adrenaline pumped state I beat them off. Yikes.

You know dreams can be strange and this was a strange one but seems to have cured me. No more stupors for Felipé. You get too distracted by what possibly could or couldn’t happen and the pigs will eat you for sure. So there I’ve said it.

OK, 430 words, I have to go.

love you like before, Felipé.

Ronaldo And Ann From Astorga On A Friday

Hello! As you know if you have been hanging around here for a while Friday’s are reserved for the Caminoheads Bureau Chiefs to give us the scoop. Here is Ronaldo!

Ron in red with visiting pilgrim.
(looks like a selfie)

Ann is my life partner and has been a perfect one for over 46 years. So we find ourselves in Astorga with more time at home than we are used to for the next few weeks and my thoughts today return to writing this blog. Trying to avoid writing about what you just read about and will likely read more about after you comment on this one, I threw it out to Ann, an avid flower/plant/tree/weed lover and she reminded me of how much I loved the sunrise coming up behind me as I walked westward on the Camino. Dark to Light.

I walked during September and the beginning of October and the light was wonderful. I started out in darkness most mornings, sometimes just a little skylight. I got to feel the sun on the back of my head, got to eventually see my shadow and was reminded how predictable that process is. The bible talks about light pretty highly and I appreciate that we can share that inner knowledge. We all can. No education, social position or certificate needed – it is out there for all of us.

I’m going to focus on one aspect of light as Ann suggested: Plants.

Seeds fall off plants, some get eaten by birds, some land on rocky soil which doesn’t support long term growth and some find themselves embedded in good soil. We will skip the thorns for now. Matthew 13 has a man doing the sowing, but plants do it themselves as well in real life.

So this seed that falls on rich soil gets buried by wind, rain, oxen hooves – whatever, and lays dormant for the winter in the dark. Dark is important. The dark is the thing that makes light so unique. If it is dark and one enters with a candle, there is light. No amount of dark can eliminate that sign of new life.

And then the days get longer, the same sun that warmed my back and cast a shadow of my body along the path warms up that soil and begins that germination stage. And slowly a root goes downward and a shoot goes upward and daily the light returns to serve as warmth and light to enable that tiny seed to grow. But there is a period of dark between those sunrises. It is not an error, it is a necessary part of the cycle.

You know where this is going – that tiny seeds ends up being a plant of significant proportions, producing shade, or edible green parts or fruit or beautiful flowers – and more seeds. Animals eat some of them, people eat some, we harvest and display decorative plants too. And again some of the seeds hit the ground and some of them repeat this cycle. So it is in life that adding light to a cold or dim situation can spur creation anew. Tiny things that you plant can become significant sources of sustenance to others. Both the dark time and the light time are part of this cycle.

Back to the Camino, that wonderful daily experience of the light. So simple. Nothing difficult about it, other than getting up and getting on the Way. It repeats every day, warm, germination of relationships or understanding of life’s mysteries or healing of one’s bones. In our case, we put down roots in Spain and are waiting to see how our shoots get used. Do you recall this feeling I describe?

So you are sitting in your home reading this blog and maybe not able to appreciate that sunrise cycle so much with a lot of man-made lights around. I encourage you to get up early and watch, or better yet feel, the sunrise 21 days in a row. Dark to Light. Be thinking of all the non-visual work that light is also doing – warming soil, encouraging men and animals to walk the earth, starting that germination process in the wild and even killing off the plants of seeds that landed on rocky soil. Enabling beautiful flowers and buds to display creation. It is really something. Yes, it does contribute to your having to cut the grass all summer too.

So creation teaches by example, demonstrating the lesson for all to see. The birds get their share, some seeds are on that rocky soil and just don’t get it, some are engulfed by weeds and in time might see the light, others are fortunate to experience the good-soil life.

I encourage us all to take a deep breath and take note of the good that can come out of this difficult time of changed routines.

Be in the light, and the dark, and see what germinates. May it be beautiful, nourishing and plant seeds for the next generation. And may you notice it!

In germinating love,


NOTE: Two books that you might add to the reading list this month are Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I happened to read these two together in 2016 before my Camino walk and maybe the next time I get to share with you I’ll tell the amazing story of how reading those books found a way to enhance my pilgrimage.


Ron Angert in beautiful Astorga, Spain

Gratitude Is A Good Start, A Great Start!

I know, yes, one of my signs is upside down.
(photo P Volker)

Here is an absolute newly born poem from Christine Valters Paintner, Ireland. Gratitude can give us a focus when we slip towards the stupor caused by all the current events. That was my thought that I woke up with this morning and then this poem showed up, to second the motion. Thank you Christine for putting it so nicely.

Praise Song for the Pandemic*

Praise be the nurses and doctors, every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lost, for showing up either way,

Praise for the farmers, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, an act of hope if ever there was,

Praise be the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights,

Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity,

Blessings on our leaders, making hard choices for the common good, offering words of assurance,

Celebrate the scientists, working away to understand the thing that plagues us, to find an antidote, all the medicine makers, praise be the journalists keeping us informed,

Praise be the teachers, finding new ways to educate children from afar, and blessings on parents holding it together for them,

Blessed are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, all those who worry for their health, praise for those who stay at home to protect them,

Blessed are the domestic violence victims, on lock down with abusers, the homeless and refugees,

Praise for the poets and artists, the singers and storytellers, all those who nourish with words and sound and color,

Blessed are the ministers and therapists of every kind, bringing words of comfort,

Blessed are the ones whose jobs are lost, who have no savings, who feel fear of the unknown gnawing,

Blessed are those in grief, especially who mourn alone, blessed are those who have passed into the Great Night,

Praise for police and firefighters, paramedics, and all who work to keep us safe, praise for all the workers and caregivers of every kind,

Praise for the sound of notifications, messages from friends reaching across the distance, give thanks for laughter and kindness,

Praise be our four-footed companions, with no forethought or anxiety, responding only in love,

Praise for the seas and rivers, forests and stones who teach us to endure,

Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood,

Blessed is the water that flows over our hands and the soap that helps keep them clean, each time a baptism,

Praise every moment of stillness and silence, so new voices can be heard, praise the chance at slowness,

Praise be the birds who continue to sing the sky awake each day, praise for the primrose poking yellow petals from dark earth,

Blessed are the dolphins returning to Venice canals, the sky clearing overhead so one day we can breathe deeply again,

And when this has passed may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.

—-Christine Valters Paintner, Abbey of the Arts

*a work in progress

we are here for you loves, Felipé.

Thanks For Doing What You Are Doing At The Moment

Today at the ranch, splitting and stacking firewood for next winter.
(photo P Volker)

It is so apparent that we all have a part to play in this saga. So thank you for what you are doing right now and today and onward to make this thing happen in the best possible manner. We can do this, we must do this!

Ronaldo our Caminoheads Bureau Chief in Astorga, Spain on the banks of the Camino de Santiago. It is his turn to put up a post on this Friday, the third in our month of March. He thought that it would be appropriate to feature this wonderful new poem by Lynn Ungar. Felipé.x


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Ron Angert in beautiful Astorga, Spain

How Are We Doing?

Felipé’s tips: get your thermometer up and running.

Trying to write this blog post and get on with my day. We are starting to split firewood today. It is sunny and the winds are calm. But in the house here all the phones are ringing off the hook. People have the time and inclination to BS. Meanwhile I have my daily list to accomplish. Lucky My Rebecca is here to fend off most of the calls.

So how are we doing? I was was out yesterday morning early and this morning early and the folks I saw and talked to seems cheery and cooperative. This is one of my new strategies to get out there as early as possible to do any business or shopping. Everything seems as clean as it will get for the day and few folks are out yet.

Yes, this IGA that I went into here, the one close to home, was out of TP and some sanitizing products but everything else was there. Then I went to one hardware store to get ant traps and a #392 battery. They had plenty of ant traps but there is a shortage of this particular battery because it is the “thermometer battery”. I did finally find one elsewhere but they are rare. But that is a good sign that folks are getting their thermometers up and working to monitor their families wellness.

And I have been walking here on my own at the appointed walk times. You can picture it, saying the rosary and feeding the birds as I go. Jane one of my regular walkers who won’t be here in person said that she would “make” some of my walks by walking around her neighbor at the same times. That was quite nice of her and a very creative thought.

This is a time for creativity, for some good improvisation. I love those videos of the apartment dwellers in Italy coming out on their balconies at 8 PM to make music. They also figured out a way to play bingo I hear. And on the rooftops they have been doing some version of aerobics. Better living through coping strategies!

OK, time to go for now. Don’t forget to check in with the Comments. There has been some great things happening there.

great things happening loves, Felipé.

Under Siege

Our forsythia which My Rebecca just said was blooming it’s heart out.
(photo P Volker)

siege – a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside.

Yea, that’s the traditional idea but this 2020 version has it’s own particular twists and turns. Well, how is everyone doing so far? It’s early on, right? Lots of stuff to figure out yet but we are educating ourselves and getting the hang of hunkering down. We will come up with some creative and wild ways of coping before this is over I am sure.

The Italians with their balcony musicals are a hoot. And don’t forget their moments of gratitude for their hard pressed medical workers. We will develop our own unique style here too. So far I’ve seen a lot of helpful info on FaceBook about online line courses, tours and museum grade coloring books. OK, excellent start!

We at the ranch here have been gleaning the fields of On Demand for treasures in their free movie department. It is kind of like going to a second hand store to see what you can discover. Two evenings ago we found “Downsizing” which we had never seen. That is with Matt Damon. I always thought that it was a comedy but it is not and has some great poignant content. Not that comedy can’t be good. Yea, and free.

The theme is “staying behind” to help. Cris has been on this theme since our present virus challenge has started, that she saw opportunity in it. She sees opportunity to help others in it, that it is not all about self preservation. That’s our Cris!

Then last evening we found “The Malta Story” with Alec Guinness, black and white, filmed in 1953. It is a about the siege of the Maltese Islands by the Fascist Germans and Italians in 1943. Malta along with the British military was largely responsible for cutting the supply lines to the Axis Powers assault on North Africa forcing them to withdraw. Malta suffered massive and continued bombing and it’s supply lines were cut to nothing to a point of a few days to starvation. But the Maltese persisted like they have done through their long history, tough folks.

So back to the siege topic that we started with, if I may. We are obviously in different times with a totally different situation than the Maltese but maybe there are things to learn. Maybe helping is essential. Maybe solidarity is essential. Maybe keeping calm is essential. Maybe self control is essential. Maybe hard decisions are essential. Maybe smiles and compassion are essential.

keep it together, keep us together loves, Felipé.

These Days

Believe in better times. They will be back, promise!
(photo unknown)

Saturday and for the first time in a long time I am not attending my Bible Guys class this morning. They are at it right now. Yesterday I for the first time really understood the social distancing strategy and have embraced it with a vengeance. Maybe I am a little overboard with it at the moment, so forgive me.

I personally am so sitting in the target zone of the population. There is my age and my being compromised health wise. But I have been living on the edge for years and this is in some ways the same.

But I am really feeling it for for the doctors and nurses who will be getting the brunt of this soon. We pray that they will not get overwhelmed. We pray for their safety and sanity. They will be the saints.

So it boils down to the fact that everything be can do today and tomorrow will make it easier for them in the coming weeks. It really doesn’t look pretty but I pray that it is doable. It is really going to take all of us to pull this off.

There is a set of information in the form of charts and graphs that was posted on FaceBook yesterday that I studied it for two hours. It was long and detailed but an education. I feel so much better informed now and that is helpful and fights the stress of uncertainty. Farmer John thought that it was good too. I will try and marshal all my tech expertise and see if I can’t come up with a link or a clue where that can be found. Off I go.


“Updated on 3/13/2020. Now reflects an update on containment vs. mitigation strategies. 19 translations at the bottom. Send me more existing translations in private notes at the bottom. This article has received 24 million views in the last 72h.” This is from that article and I am showing this to you to encourage you to check it out. This is red hot!

The better we understand this attack the better we will be able to defend ourselves, our families and ultimately our world. This is not panic, these are actions based on solid information. Please look at this and study it for your own good and mine.

Sorry, I seldom get so worked up but this is real stuff happening right in front of us in Seattle. Learn from us. Thanks.

worked up loves, Felipé.

From Our Cris On This Friday In These Times

Cris at Niagara Falls.
(photo unknown)

In the Shelter: Finding a home in the world

My post this week was supposed to be about something else (sigh), but I just finished listening to Argentina president announcing that measures have been taken due to COVID-19 and we will also start a period with closed borders and social distance. I am sure each culture has its own challenges, but for us, Argentinian, the social distance is like being exiled because we kiss and hug a lot, even those we just met.

And we SHARE the “mate”.

I am sure you saw Pope Francis sipping “something“ with a straw from something that looks like a gourd or a wood cup… That’s “Yerba Mate” infusion and it is our “coffee”, we have it for breakfast, during the day, or what we invite our friends to. And yes, when in groups, we share the straw. It is part of our culture, what we grow up doing, it is probably the ultimate expression of how social we are.

And with the measures just announced commanding social distance, it seems that “our social being” is being ripped off from us.

But maybe not.

A few days ago, upon Phil’s blog reaching out to Karen, my BC colleague from England, I commented that maybe this pandemic was giving us The Best opportunity to show our humanity through kindness. What I was reflecting about when I wrote my comment was that instead of thinking that “we” could be the ones getting infected “BY” others, or that instead of complaining that “WE HAVE TO” be locked down and be mad for the concert or activity, etc. we are missing, -attitudes that denote selfishness-, we could turn that around and think that actually, with staying at home “WE ARE CARING” for the others, or that having in our hands the opportunity to make sure the others are safe, “WE ARE CARRYING IT AWAY”. These attitudes now speak about kindness.

How many times when something not pleasant is happening to us, we are grateful that we are the one having to go through it and not someone we love? Or how many times we wish we could take away the pain of someone we love and carry it ourselves? How about if we could have that “power” but actually with none of us being ill, just with small measures such as staying at home, and in the case of my folks, not kissing, not hugging, not sharing the mate, not complaining for cancel events, and so on. This is where I see that the COVID-19 pandemic is giving us The Best opportunity. By being safe ourselves, the others we love and the others we don’t even know, are safe too. I see this is a win-win situation, I don’t see any flaws on this.

By the way, the title of the post is the name of a book from Padraig O’Tuama, a young Irish poet that I like a lot. In his book, he has this phrase that sounds timely to me…

“…one night we told stories of a time when we realised ‘I will be able to measure my life before and after this moment’.”

I have faith in darkness, Loves