Starting Today From St Jean

A bridge to the future.
(photo Kelly Burke)

The Virtual Camino project started this morning. It is a, well it’s hard to explain really. It is a virtual walk from beginning to end of the Camino Frances in Northern Spain. This is the main line or truck of the Camino de Santiago, the 500 mile pilgrimage. So, now that we are all housebound and the the Way is shut down this is what’s happening.

It operates as a FaceBook group under that title Virtual Camino. This is the brainchild of Laurie Duperier a pilgrim that runs tours of the Camino in Spain in normal times. Annie O’Neil is with her riding shotgun on this virtual one. As I understand it is a journey of the mind and spirit with numerous facets, maybe programs on art, foods and history of the various regions that you go through.

Today they are showing Phil’s Camino, the 27 minute documentary film as a opener to have folks get the idea of the everyday camino or a backyard camino idea. In other words how do you get some of the benefits of walking the Camino when you are not in reality there? Seems we are experts on doing this. Annie just had a Q and A on Zoom at 9 AM PT and I was lucky enough to catch it and participate. There is supposed to be another at 3 PM PT. So the film is showing all day and you can access it through the Virtual Camino FB group.

So, that is the big happening today in my world. We are all finding ways to cope and keep life moving along. We will get through this pandemic and most assuredly it won’t be pretty but it is doable. It will have some very rough spots as we are already starting to glimpse.
But getting out the other side in a month or two or three or a year maybe in some places we will have a new appreciation for life and be searching for ways to rebuild our bodies, minds and spirits individually and as neighborhoods, countries and beyond. I am afraid we have embarked on a big journey, a Camino as it were, that will both scar us and educate us.

It is my belief that our pilgrim sensibilities will be part of the reconstruction. Really! That is what I am sensing. What we have learned in our journeys will be vital to society as a whole. I don’t know how this is going to work but I think that we have already glimpsed the future.

Off I go loves, Felipé.

Practicing Whac-A-Mole

Yup! The game I love!
(stock photo off web)

I have never played Whac-A-Mole,the game, but the idea of it intrigues me. Sure that it was hours of fun for over-sugared kids. But the idea of it is what I want to get to. The game has a surface and has 16 or 25 holes each housing a mole that will randomly pop up to get in your face. The player has to wack them as quickly as possible to be ready for the next one coming from who knows where. Somehow maybe there is a score involved.

This activity is me fighting my fears. It is a constant battle to keep the the little twits in line, to beat them back to their holes. Of, course the amount of activity varies, comes and goes but it never really stops. It can flare with a doubt, with a memory, with negativity, you know a trigger.

I strive for peace which is a place of no fear ideally. I’ve identified prayer as a place for me to find peace and thus to avoid fear and it’s buddy anxiety. That’s a good one but let’s see what else. Knowledge is good. The more I know about fear the more I am aware of ways to lessen it or tamp it down beating back into it’s hole where it won’t show it’s ugly head for a while.

The more I learn about myself the more I am aware of gaps in my defenses. Having more time to contemplate these days is an opportunity to work on this. How can I understand myself better? How can I understand my place in the web of things? And how can I understand my place in the “new” world in which I find myself/we find ourselves?

let our love pop up iunexpected ways and places, Felipé.

So Glad You Made It

The east-west road in the foreground with the airstrip running south to north beyond.
(photo P Volker)

Yes, so glad that you made it to the blog today, don’t be a stranger. Just listened to So Glad You Made It a great Blues Brothers tune. Actually this version is by a cover band that Peter (callsign Elwood) a friend of ours was in for a while. Peter came down with the virus but it has been a while so maybe he is almost getting through it. Hang tough Peter!

But again, so glad that YOU made it right here and right now. So, the news is that I successfully got through my doctor’s appointment and testing with Nugget yesterday and was cleared for another three weeks of life as a test pilot on the clinical trial. Help me celebrate that! My trip was hampered by the ferries being on their emergency two boat schedule which means fewer runs and by having the West Seattle Bridge closed, a major link in my standard route. But that was balanced by traffic being amazingly light to almost bring on giddiness. And the hospital was amazing empty as they have eliminated all non essential activities to concentrate on the vitals. So I was in and out of there in a heart beat.

So that’s all good for sure. Right in the middle of all that an old hunting buddy Curt calls me on the cell. He lives over on the mainland but I see him fairly often. Seems he has a pilot friend a Marine that is setting up a way to supply all his Marine buddies on Vashon with any needed supplies that they might be lacking. The plan is to fly in loads of goods to the small grass airstrip located just a mile north of us at the old Wax Orchards property where we could pick them up, just place an order. This all sounded kind of overengineered and far flung when Curt first explained it for here I was at the moment on a trip to Seattle and obviously not homebound. So I thanked him and said that I think that we were doing OK for the present but hey who knows what next week might bring. So I kind of put him off but tried to be gracious about it.

Anyway, this morning on thinking about Curt’s gesture I was so moved to be included in this plan, this thought, this care. It brought a tear to think how creative friends can get. I must email Curt back with profuse thanks and two or three atta boys.

And neighbors are showing up with homemade meals for little old us. Last night we had yummy elk stew from Brad and Amy. People are coming out of the woodwork to help out.

Well, the Thursday walk is coming up in a minute. This is my favorite day of the week to say the rosary on as I meditate on the Luminous Mysteries. We need to talk about those soon.

luminous mysterious loves, Felipé.

Walking and Laughing News

In the walking news, there is the good news and bad news. First the bad. It seems as though the thing for me to do is to have Phil’s Camino closed for another month.


But the good news is that we will open again at some point as yet to be determined. And that of course will be a huge party. In preparation our friend Diego from Lake Arrowhead, CA has produced 250 of the awesome Phil’s Camino Passports. We ran out of the original batch ages ago and here we are with enough for a long while. Way to go Diego!

A stack of credentials for future pilgrims just came in. We are thinking about the time when we get to reopen the trail.
(photo P Volker)

In the laughing news, well not that that is totally separate from walking news. We walk while we laugh a lot actually. But My Rebecca and I watched an old episode or Saturday Night Live last night that was a treasure of laughs. It was in season three which is the late 70’s.
This one show included two Songs by the Blues Brothers (Belushi and Aykoyd), a dance routine with Steve Martin and Gilda Radner and ended with Martin singing his fabulous song King Tut (“He gave his life for tourism”). Wow, just wall to wall talent and big laughs!

Cast of the original SNL’s.
(image from Wikipedia)

Well, we trundle on. Some of us are muddling on but either way we will eventually get to the end of this. We have more to learn and practice before we get released to the Promised Land.

walk on, laugh on loves, Felipé.

Some Things I Have Seen and Heard

Look at that tight little stern!

Oh, getting such a slow start this morning and morning is almost over. Had a great conversation with Marc and Ivette, dear friends from LA. At one point Ivette said, “You have to be where your feet are.” And I asked her to explain her comment as I had never heard that before. She explained by saying you can’t let your head run away with you. It means that you have to be calm and be present. Yes, yes! Just what we have been talking about lately. I hear you loud and clear!

New York, New York.

Yesterday I put up a post on FaceBook with a pic of a little boy with a pilots helmet on and saying Mommy when I grow up I want to be a pilot. And Mom answers Oh Sweetie, you can’t do both. I was trying to get the attention of Ken a new friend of mine and an old friend of our beloved Pilgrim Farmer John. Ken is a long time Naval aviator and longtime practitioner of military banter as is PFJ. I am an rank amateur and you have to be careful playing with these guys. Ken fires back, “Life is too short to grow up!”. Ball’s in my court.

The Welcome Lady!

Yesterday My Rebecca took some bananas to a friend that was home bound and craving them. Then our old neighborhood buddies brought us a quart of homemade turkey vegetable soup for our supper. All kinds of connections are being made despite the present crazy conditions. Keep it up!

Nice as can be.

Saint James Is Afoot loves, Felipé.

Here We Are!

The USS Comfort coming into NYC.
(photo stolen from FaceBook)

Here we are sandwiched between the Comfort on the East Coast and the Mercy on the West. The US Navy has arrived with assets. I am so proud of them it just about makes me want to reup! They must need a few Marines on board to put down mutinies and guard the narcotics.

I am going to be looking for the flag holder on our Deere.
(photo stolen from Face Book)

Well, I think that we are transitioning from the beginning of this epidemic to the middle phase. We have gone through the denials, the cavalier and the small scale moves. We now stare in full scale realization of the immensity of this problem. It is as formidable as things come, as in Biblical, as in the extremes of nightmares.

The bad news is we were caught so flat footed. We may come up with excuses but it is all moot now. We now stare at mind numbing calculations, statistics and models of the probabilities. Those of us that are lucky enough to be healthy enough to do that, that is. We now see this thing in it’s full blown maturity. This is the beginning of the middle.

The good news is there is always OPPORTUNITY (thank you Cris) for every one of us. We must get to the point of seeing that, all of us. This is a NOW situation. We must accept the RESPONSIBILITY for doing our individual parts whatever that looks like. We individually need to GET IN GEAR. This is the PROGRAM. This is what the middle looks like, the time when we do the HEAVY LIFTING that needs doing. We as individuals have the POWER to INFLUENCE the outcome. WELCOME to the Middle.

we need to find our superpower loves, Felipé.

Thinking About The Mercy And The Comfort

The USNS Comfort in drydock, 2017.
(photo off FaceBook)

I hope that hundred of thousands of years from now archeologists come upon one of our US Navy’s hospital ships lovingly preserved in the mud. It would make headlines or their equivalent! The population will marvel at the size and the complexity of the vessel. It will speak of a long lost people that cared and provided in times of need.

How old are those ships? I wonder if my own father was aboard one getting patched up during the battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945.
Possible maybe. We can only imagine the lift that would give the injured first glimpsing such beauty after too long in hell on earth. Not trying to be melodramatic but I have no other words handy.

It is a great focus for me thinking about these ships right now. I am so grateful that they sailed into my life during this present bad boy of an ordeal. And that is precisely a good start to have a focus, a place to build on in this time of uncertainty. This time when fact and rumor mix in our heads making a dangerous cocktail.

Keep focused people on what ever does it for you. Be calm and strong. That is the zone, stay there as much as possible. Pass it on to others. Maybe it is contagious!

And thank you for responding so well to my post yesterday. I am so grateful for comments and atta boys. Jessika’s, callsign Secret Agent, said it well: “Thanks for talking about the elephant and ten hyenas in the room.” You are welcome.

Time to gear up for rosary walk with Catherine. Will be praying for you and yours for good healthy and wellbeing.

Onward loves, Felipé.

Hey, It’s Saturday!

Pay attention!
(photo from Hawaii by W Hayes)

When you were a kid Saturday was the greatest thing ever. Time to build forts, play in the snow, to scream and yell. School is out! What a change to the present situation for most of us who don’t know what day it is anymore.

But my Saturday morning is marked by my trusty bible class so I know what day it is! To keep up with the Joneses we have been meeting on Zoom which is working well. Of course we look forward to the day when we can shake hands and hug and carry on like we know how.

Yesterday we had the historic first Zoom meeting for Caminoheads Bureau Chiefs. We had eight of us on three continents. We missed William who was off on some mission but we were mostly there. And it was super fun and we carried on for two hours before it was done. What a crew we have. What a huge grab bag of talent we can bring to the table.

Cris CSABC instigated this confab to keep our communications going in the present situation and to find the opportunities that this situation holds. Where most people see problems she sees opportunities, her superpower! So, we are coming together over that sensibility to probe and explore. What is there that we can accomplish or add to the conversation given our trusty pilgrim know how and unique tool bag of our combined life experiences and training. This is something like a combination of the Magnificent Seven and the Dirty Dozen with a little True Grit thrown in.

So we had this first meeting really to start working together. This technology is perfect for us at this time. That’s what amazes me, just when we need it it is here for us. So, I will have more news as we get up and running.

Now, I would like to say something that is appropriate to the present. I and many of us are seriously in the target zone of this virus, it has me and most of us in it’s crosshairs. And I am not saying this to be a doom and gloom guy or because I am giving up in any way. It is just that if there is one thing that I have learned from my Cancer it is that death is not the final defeat. Generally folks who “battle” Cancer reach a point where they run out of options or energy or inspiration and they as a result feel like their upcoming death is a defeat, that they have failed. They feel they did something wrong or they didn’t try hard enough or they didn’t take someone’s advice or they didn’t pray hard enough or they weren’t worthy. There are a thousand things to substitute in there.

But, it is not a defeat as we all will die at some point only God knows the time and reason. The ultimate defeat is to have been so wrapped up in this fear and fight that we fail to live. That we aren’t present to the world around us, our loved ones, our mission, our neighborhood. A thousand things to substitute there. Do you see that? That is the ultimate tragedy.

So, at this time, this crucial time, let me say that I or a few of us may not make it through this tidal wave. In a few months we could be fewer. Do not grieve. Do not panic. Do not negotiate with negativity. Trust God, your best self and your pilgrim buddies. Do not worry unnecessarily. You/we have incredible assets. The ultimate defeat is not to die but would be not to live when it is our chance. Be present!

heavy duty loves, Felipé.

Friday With Ryck

Our buddy Ryck, Caminoheads Puget Sound Bureau Chief.
(photo from R Tompson)

March 2020,

Burgess Merideth/Rod Serling, and the need for human touch.

Man, what a year, eh? Aren’t we all appreciative right now for having already hiked the Camino? I am very sad about those that were just getting started on their pilgrimage. I feel for the albergue owners, the country of Spain, America, the world. Truth be told, I support strong borders, however, I realize that borders and nationalism cannot stop a human problem. I went to the grocery store today. I looked at the hand sanitizer isle, gone. All gone. I could not help but think that it was unnecessary. Is it really better to make sure we are all blanketed with certain benefits, simply from being a human? Not getting political here, rather, trying to figure out the human construct.
In one way, very much so, I am realizing, forcefully, how the concept of world community is essential. What else could be presented to us for to not realize that everyone is connected in some way shape or form.
I have been thinking of the Second World War. A common enemy. A need to be efficient, living within our means. Resolve. This is the same feeling I had when 9/11 happened. I think we all feel that right about now. The difference being that the enemy is one for all humans, there is seriously no bias.
What do we truly value? Truly. It is human life, is the rest of what we value a means to an end?
The age of the internet and social media seemed to have brought about the bi-product of social distancing in itself. Ironically, when social distancing is now being enforced, it really is the opposite that I personally crave. I never realized how much I actually craved human interaction, the non-digital type. I never realized how much I value the feeling of human touch, to hug someone, to shake their hand, to see them eye to eye. For so long now, I desired the exact opposite. When I retired form the U.S. Navy, Submarine Force, the last thing I wanted was close social interaction. Trust me, I had enough of that…So I left everything, everyone, and I walked my Camino in Spain. I so much needed that alone time. As much as I tried, however, in Spain, the more I tried to distance myself from others and be alone, the more I feel they were attracted to talk to me. Perhaps it was my actual aura. Maybe it was the fact that they just craved the social connection; the human aspect of life. I did capitulate, numerous times, and I am glad I did.
I ended up meeting some of the best people in my entire life. I realized as I walked from small town to town in Spain, how much the Spanish loved the close, personal, family type of environment. You know, when you walked through each town, there was a sort of Piazza? A VERANDA:))…An open square where people just seemed to want to be next to each other, to have that human contact. The one thing I did not want when I initially arrived in Spain was the exact thing I crave right now. We cannot put a price on life. We cannot put a price tag on the human, social aspect of life. As much as sometimes I want to be a complete hermit in a cabin somewhere, prepped to the gills, (Now I am NOT talking Unabomber type…) or on a lone sailboat, endlessly sailing around the world, with my own version of “Wilson” from Castaway on the aft end of my boat next to me, by the till….I know deep down, what I will always crave is the human interaction. The good ones.
We cannot put a price on human touch.

There is a “Twilight Zone” episode with Burgess Meredith. It is the one titled, “Time Enough at Last”. It is about a man that wished nothing more than to be left alone from the noise of the world so he could read all of the books he could get his hands on. Then he gets his wish through horrible circumstance. When he finally got what he wanted, his glasses broke, and he could no longer have what he wanted. He then craved, the human interaction of others…Poor Burgess Meredith….Thank you, Rod Serling.


A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That

Chainsaw statue of Cool Gary by Gene Amondsen, Vashon, Washington, USA.
(photo Linda Thwaite Peterson)

Let me explain the pic above. This is Cool Gary, an Island character that grew up here and passed on early in his life. He is remembered in this rugged chainsaw carving which is along the Vashon Highway just south of Vashon town. It was done by Gene Amondsen another Island character who was a pastor, artist and part time abolitionist. He is unfortunately no longer with us either. Anyway, there is Gary with his chainsaw and some kind person has winterized him with a warm hat and scarf. There is a little wood elf at his feet. Reminds me of the usual statue of St Francis with the ever present birds and rabbit.

Catalina is going to love this. She will undoubtedly see to it that I get some sort of recognition in the art history world! And as usual there is always some symbols of what is going on in the world around us. Two summers ago there were some huge road projects on the a island and Gary sported a hardhat for that. You can see the color coordinated masks that protect them now giving us a reminder out of the corner of of eye to be safe as we cruise by. One day I was driving by and an owl was perched on his head and I said how clever of someone to put that there but it flew away.

Also in the news Cris, CSABC, and myself had a big powwow on Zoom yesterday in preparation for our big worldwide conference on Friday with all of our Bureau Chiefs. This is a first. We will compare notes on the situation. The goal is to come up with some sort of appropriate and robust crisis response to life as we presently know it. More on this later.

So, be safe, carry on and praise God loves, Felipé.