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.

Walking Schedule, Phil’s Camino, 2/19/2020

Thanks for joining me on our walks over the years now!
(photo P Volker)

Schedule up to and including Thursday March 5th:

Monday 0900-1000
Tuesday 1530-1630 (tapas after)
Thursday 0900-1000
Sunday 1530 -1630

Schedule after and including Sunday March 8th:

Monday 0900-1000
Tuesday 1600-1700 (tapas after)
Thursday 0900-1000
Sunday (work party 1500-1600) walk 1600-1700 (tapas after)


Stay The Course, Aye Aye Sir!

Maybe these guys are going to be open today.
(photo P Volker)

Here at the Institute doing the Felipé thing. Dr Gold gave me the interpretation of my scan which was stable. Tumors stable! So he said that we were going to stay the course, just what I want to hear. So, time to celebrate. I give that advice to folks all the time to celebrate their small victories although sometimes I forget for my own. Maybe that even could be worded differently, maybe, no victory is too small to celebrate. Let me try that for a while.

I just scored some more financial aid from the Institute also. So yea, time to get the celebration going, what the hey! Beautiful day today too to celebrate in. The weather pattern bringing us that cold dry air from Canada.

Nice little cruise coming up here to get back the the Island. Life could be a whole lot worse. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Buen Camino loves, Felipé.

Northly Wind

That’s my boat!
(photo P Volker)

I’m on the dock waiting to get on this next boat to Vashon. Some kind of glorious afternoon going on here. I am returning from my scan at the Institute. Just going to make the walk at 1530. And I don’t get the interpretation from Nugget till tomorrow so a little anxiety in the air.

Well, I got some nice response to my plea for help on the trail that was in yesterday’s post. You guys are all great! This will make things easier, better and most of all more fun.

Here we go, next stop Vashon Island. What a day for a mini sea cruise? And going home to a walk and Reuben sandwiches afterward for dinner. Most seriously bueno!

Alperfect yet again loves, Felipé.

Asking For A Little Help Here

Thanks for joining me on our walks over the years now!
(photo P Volker)

Happy Monday! Well, I don’t feel quite that peppy but I’m working on it. Steve-O our CNWBC showed up yesterday afternoon with his side kick Rasmus. Rasmus is is a large dog, a flat coat retriever like our Sture who died in the documentary as you’ll remember. He is sort of a junior Sture, very much still a puppy.

Anyway, they will be here for a few days. And just a thought, if you all are traveling through the Seattle area please feel free to stop by. We are here most all the time these days. You may want to stay for an hour or a couple of days.

But what I wanted to write to you about was that I want to have you start thinking about the trail as being yours. It really isn’t just mine anymore. We sort of use it together so my thinking is that we sort of own it together. And with that in mind I am going to ask if you could share in some of the work and expenses of it. For five years I have felt like I would and could provide this for you, say as a gift. And that is good but as time goes on and my energy lessens maybe that is not sustainable. So now I am basically asking for your help in two ways.

March 8th the time is going to change and we will be going to our summer schedule which means for one thing that we will have our afternoon walks start at 4 o’clock instead of the wintertime 3:30. And this time I am going to add that one hour before that on Sunday, so at 3 o’clock, we will have a work party for one hour. And that is in good weather only and nothing too heavy duty. Just clean up and improvements along the half mile trail.

The goal has always been to keep the trail safe but not too civilized. To keep it as wild as possible and still have it not be a chore to walk on. It is a balance that I think has been working so far and I would like that to continue. So, I will have a small project ready for each session and you can join me if you wish, just show up with gloves and not your Sunday best on. We will try it out.

And the other part of this that I would like to start March 8th is to display a donation jar at the rockpile for help with essentials. Things like candles, birdseed, gravel, wood chips and fuel are needed at different times and places though the year. I will keep this little cookie jar fund to help with those items. And if we get a little extra maybe we will be able to buy some cedar and build some benches for places along the trail.

Well, thanks for all your support so far, I appreciate it. We will continue to keep things going at a respectable level as best we can and you can help out with that. Thanks.

Walking in a minute, Monday morning loves, Felipé.

Sunday, Sunday.

Daffodils coming on.
(photo P Volker)

Back from Mass with Catherine and it’s late morning of a beautiful day. Cold clear air moving in to the vicinity. Blogging now after a coffee klatch with Catherine, we’re trying to catch up. She and Dana may be over this afternoon to walk. Yea, and Wiley and I have two trees to plant and two to prune before that. My day fills up.

But to the blog. My dear Sister Joyce, my spiritual director for years, called yesterday from Iowa. It was so great to hear her voice even over our funky cell phone connection. And she is coming to Seattle in May or June. I told her to bring some corn mojo from Iowa as that is when we will be planting and praying ours up.

Plans are being made for the Veranda gathering. Let me repeat the dates, that’s August 21st through the 24th. That is a Friday through Monday situation. We had such a good time last year that everyone said hey, let’s do it again. This is keeping the Camino alive at it’s best.
So, put it on your calendar and work toward being here with us.

I think that I am going to take off and get things started around here.
Oh, and Steve-O our CNWBC will be rolling in today. Never a dull moment for Raven Ranch.

thanks loves, Felipé.

So Much Study

Just because… (photo by Phil Volker)

Back from my men’s group, you know the Bible Guys. It was fun and rewarding. But right now I am home up stairs hiding out waiting for My Rebecca’s book group to finish up who are camped out in our living room. They are laughing and generally having a great time down there. Just one of My Rebecca’s groups along with two choirs and two for writers. This is what we are doing these days.

I was lucky enough to have talked a new friend into going with me to Bible Guys this morning. Several weeks ago in class we were talking about how the Gospel was spread in the first place. Ethiopia came up and we had to admit that we knew little about this corner of Africa. And as luck would have it I have been working with Bob for a year now and he was born there and is current and talkative on events and on history of the place. So, perfect fit.

Something was sticking in my mind through all this and I was going to run it by you. When telling Bob about this group that I was hoping he would come to I said that we were doing something more basic than religion. Don’t really know where that came from, just popped out Holy Spirit style. Bob had expressed to me that he was skeptical of religion if I may put words in his mouth. That is a rough paraphrase. I can appreciate that in terms of honestly and in terms of position. Religion in general has a lot of apologizing and penance to do.

So, in our class it has always been an unwritten rule to leave as much of our personal baggage at the door as possible. This is political stuff, class stuff, regional stuff and yes, religious stuff. Well, let’s see, are there other stuffs? There is philosophical stuff as is this piece that we are reading to be taken literally or symbolically. Well obviously it is impossible to cleanse our discussion one hundred percent of all this, nor would you want to. We are humans for pete sake, not celestial beings.

But I think that reading the Bible to just see what it has to say, first and foremost, is more than half the program. And well worth the price of admission I might add. Of course one needs a certain amount of perspective to gain any meaning but keeping that as honest as possible is important. Well, there it has been said.

But I think pilgrimage is more basic than religion also. It begs to be participated in by such a broad spectrum of folks from backgrounds hither and yon. There is more to explore here but my Saturday beckons.

more soon loves, Felipé.

Kisses And Cooties I Have Known

(photo P. Volker)

Ah, St Valentine’s Day today. Everything is all red and chocolate covered out there like the happening of an overnight snow fall. I didn’t sleep well last night, I was tossing and turning and kept thinking about writing this post. Hmm. I don’t usually labor so.

On this Valentine’s Day I think of my folks, Fred and Jean, who had a ritual of kissing before sitting down to a meal and then pray and eat. And they would sit down to a meal because that was a big ritual that they followed religiously. That was important back then to sit down with the family and guests and I still think it is but maybe that is old fashioned. But anyway I think that was all affection in different forms.

Fred’s sister Esther was unmarried and was at our house at least once a week. She loved Jean’s good home cooking usually in the German or Polish realm. I remember Mom heating up dinner plates in the oven so the food would be hotter when she served us, just an extra little touch.

But I would spend all day with Aunt Esther working on my stamp collection or playing games or reading books. She would bring little treats: an ice cream sandwich, or Ovaltine or scotch tape. I don’t remember kissing but we must have but she did laugh at my jokes which seemed big. Ah, but the most important thing was that we loved to play Cootie together. Yeh, Cootie, we must have played a million games. This I now realize is all affection whether kisses are remembered or not.

Back when I was a teenager I was lucky enough to have a great second Mom and Dad who happened to be the parents of my best friend. They are all gone now including my best friend. But they were a great stabilizing force for me and I miss them so. Mel and Mabel both grew up on farms, Mel from northwest Iowa and Mabel from just down the road in our northwest New York. Somehow the Navy brought Mel east to meet his future wife. Mel worked as a brakeman or fireman on the railroad. They had three children together and somehow had the energy to semi adopt me. Later in Mabel’s life she came down with cancer while Mel was in a wheelchair. I had the opportunity to drive Mel around in his special van and one day I took him to the hospital to see Mabel, the last time I saw Mabel. But they had a nice visit and when we got ready to go Mel had me maneuver his wheel chair over to to bedside to kiss Mabel on the lips. It was so beautiful and I felt like I was a part of it being sort of the engineer of it all.

Well, I hope this was all worth my lack of sleep. I don’t know what Rebecca and I are going to do, maybe something exciting and risqué like ordering a pizza! Ah, life goes on.

engineering loves, Felipé.

Out And Then In Again

Our friend and author Henriette Klauser was here on Tuesday. She loves to come over to the ranch on Tuedays and we gab and she has questions that need answering. I sometimes forget that we, well actually she, is working during these sessions on writing her next book about Cancer and the Camino.

We talk and seem to wander in our conversations hither and yon. But it all has a point I think. Sometimes My Rebecca participates. And Tuesday they got on this topic of how they each set up time to write. Rebecca, this is a loose paraphrase, works on her day and when inspiration strikes she runs to the computer to capture it, all seemly very random. Henriette is the opposite where she has specific times and goes and works no matter what. She tries in different ways to set herself up for this encounter. Lately she has been doing this really crazy thing where she goes out through one outside door, locks it, and walks around to another exterior door and lets herself in to get to her writing space, all in the same house. A sort of ritual to make it a journey, to make it special.

Well, we laughed at that but it is not so far fetched really. My backyard camino is full of quirky little rituals to make it separate, to make it special. The whole thing is a ritualistic attempt to promote a certain head space or heart space maybe. It really doesn’t make sense to plenty of folks, oh well. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for some of us.

backyard camino loves, Felipé.