Sorry About….

Junk on the windowsill.
(photo Cap’n Crunch)

Sorry about the rant yesterday. Sometimes I crave those quieter times when it was just us and the newspaper, the one on paper. But things are more exciting now for sure. Keep on the sunny side Felipé.

Right now I got the dishes done, had a shower, had breakfast and am looking out the window at the blue sky writing to you. Catherine will be here at 9 so we can do our walking rosary. Then to St. John Vianney’s at 10 for Communion. All mapped out and God willing it will happen.

We had an exciting Zoom Friday with a bunch of the Bureau Chiefs and Catalina our Historian. We are trying to push the book project forward. This is the condensed version of six years of Caminoheads blog. Pretty exciting really.

Steve-O our North West BC will be here in person this evening for an overnight stay. We will catch up around the campfire. Alperfect.

Jen one of our regular walkers and good friend came yesterday evening and did a plein air painting out is the south pasture. The predominant grass is high and has a particular red tint which is eye catching in certain lights. I love the concept of plein air, to work in the outdoors, out of the studio. Old time baseball and football were plein air. Most of my life has been plein air also come to think of it.

Speaking of which, come by if you want to pick some berries. They are coming on heavy. I made shiny new picking cans yesterday for you to use. You need a handful of juicy blackberries on your Cap’n Crunch.

off I go loves, Felipé.

Blog Time

the Wild Daisies
(photo P Volker)

Wow it has been Zoom City lately. And when it is not Zoom City it is FaceTime Time. And then there are all those emails and messages supporting all that and then comes writing this blog. Then reading the condensed blog manuscript so a book can be put together. I’m stuck in the digital quagmire, the more I struggle, the deeper I sink!

Geez, really Felipé? Aren’t you being a little melodramatic? Well, if I hear, “It’s simple!” one more time I am going to scream. My life used to be simple before all this stuff. Now I am constantly charging everything or checking the batteries in all the other stuff. Then there is the world of all the little batteries that you never have the right one in your overflowing junk drawer and you are off to town to dodge all the tourists clogging up the whole situation for a battery that is the tenth the size of a penny and is going to cost you a five dollar bill. And they want to know if you have a rewards card. And you have to tell them again that your dog ate it. And speaking of animals you are bearly going to get out of there alive. Melodramatic?!?

But I digress. Right now you are writing your blog Felipé, calm down.
OK, I can do this. Talk about leading the Bible Guys today, that will help put you in the right mood. OK yea, we are covering the miracles that Jesus performed in the Gospels. There are 37 that we have on our list and we are doing one or two a week lead by a different member. I picked the last one on our list the “Second Catch of Fish” which is found only in one of the four Gospels, John 21, v.1-14.

Maybe read it and we can talk about it. I am running out of time and steam to start on a discussion now. It just took me an hour and a half earlier this morning on a Zoom with my guys.

have to go check the 🌽, Felipé.

Friday And We Are Zooming

Pink July
(photo P Volker)

There was a song back in the day, the 60’s, the 1960’s, like that, “Groovin on Sunny Afternoon”. A catchy tune. Now we have Zoomin on a Friday Morning. At least it will be morning here but later in Argentina, England and Spain. It is a gathering of Caminoheads Bureau Chiefs from all over with Catalina our Historian. Catalina has the book cooking about this blog, six years of it anyway. She is taking it from the beginning up to the Veranda party. Just briefly, it is a condensed version of all the blog material from May 2014 to August 2019. We are trying to make it come out to be a normal sized book from two Don Quoxite’s.

That is the update on that, pretty exciting hey? So, today Catalina is briefing the Bureau Chiefs on this project and asking for their help on various aspects of it. This is a big project in my mind anyway but our Historian is sheparding this along with the greatest of ease. She is hot to get it done and out while there is so much interest in backyard pursuits, Camino and otherwise.

Well, that is the big news. Other than that it is the very last day of July. August tomorrow. Almost a year since the fabulous Veranda party and so much has happened since. We are on a different planet now, how did that happen? So, this year we are doing SOMETHING in spite of that. And that is a two day open house on Saturday August 22 and Sunday August 23 is the CAMINOHEADS CORNTINE! This is strictly for locals and it is just a drop in deal. Come pick some corn and blackberries, walk a lap and maybe drink a glass of wine. No major deal but something.

So, that is it for me. Off to watch goldfinches and clip noxious weeds.

late July loves, Felipé.

“Evoking One’s Allies”

My fav rose.
(photo P Volker)

A quote from Mary Oak a local author and teacher who used this little phrase in an email communication and it has grabbed by attention. I have to admit that I need to look up the word evoke in the big old paper dictionary. Evoke – bring or recall to the conscious mind. Oh, that is interesting.

This was in an announcement for a Zoom class entitled “Facing Medical Tribulations with Healing Imagination”. Yea, give me a boatload of that! I might just have to check that out.

I have that all in the mix today along with yesterday’s blog thoughts about the lowly blackberry bramble. I’m swirling and I have no words right now. Some days are like that, fortunately.

The blue sky has some puffy white clouds, a few, coming from the southeast. Looks like plenty of sunshine happening. Off to my walk.

best of days love, Felipé.

My Love/Hate Relationship

Ripening up.
(photo P Volker)

I think that this is a first. I received a request to write a blogpost on a specific topic. Henriette and I have a weekly phone date and we kibbutz about writing or Catholicism or whatever. At some point I told her that the blackberries were ripe. And she went off, as in a rant, about what a pain they were, the blackberry plants that is. About how they just want to take over her backyard. How she has to pay her landscape guy so much to try and make progress against their encroachment. Yes, yes, I hear you.

I myself have fought the war against the blackberry bramble juggernaut for decades now. I’ve used curses and flames and shovels and tractors, everything short of poisons. Yes, I normally rant Henriette, don’t feel alone. This particular species is commonly called the Himalayan
Blackberry and is an invader to this local environment. It is not indigenous and is running amuck over our landscape hither and yon.

But not long ago as I sat and contemplated my cancer I began to study this particular blackberry. I was slowly starting to see and appreciate the beauty of it. I was seeing beauty in it’s negatives as well as it’s positives, is that possible? Yes, it is!

It is easy to see beauty in positives. The blackberry flowers are beautiful and loved by the thousands of local bees. The fruit is luscious and bountiful and requires zero care to produce, zero. If we harvest 5% of the berries on this ten acres we will be doing almost the impossible. I am sure that there are other positives but I don’t see them after fighting the decades of fighting.

But how about the negatives? How to find beauty in something that is so evasive as to be viewed by most local landowners as borderline evil? If I can get away from the landowner mentality and see this plant with new eyes I find it to be truly amazing in it’s power and tenacity. The more I looked at it the more I began to appreciate it. And beyond, I started thinking that is what I need in regard to my cancer. What if I, if my mind, body and spirit exhibited that kind of power and tenacity? What if I could cobble together that kind of life force energy in my challenges with my cancer? All of a sudden I had a new mentor!

Maybe more on this to come. So much to learn!

the best in love/hate loves, Felipé.

Already the Afternoon

The view from my writing location.
(photo P Volker)

One of those days with details and details and more details. My usual time to do the post is between 8 and 9 AM but here we are with the sun high overhead. Well, it is just a minor complaint really.

It is another good day for corn growing. I haven’t peeked at it today yet. I am trying to keep up with the watering which becomes the most important concern as we move into mid summer.

The climate here is sometimes termed Mediterranean which means that at a certain point in July rainfall starts to become scarce. There are probably other aspects of this particular climate type but this one impacts me the most. So, this is what is in the making right now.

Speaking of Mediterranean climate I do know of a friend that has put in a small olive grove of maybe thirty trees. There is an experiment. I guess farming in general is an experiment some would say a gamble. I guess this is what we do, try stuff?

We have a walk later today if you want to stop by.

high summer walking loves, Felipé.

Appropriate And Robust

That seems to me to be a great phrase. We just need to connect it to something somewhere for it to have some life, some purpose. Preferably that would be a good life and a good purpose.

Finding a way forward. That’s Our William.
(photo J Hayes)

In this time of pandemic old familiar things seem distant and hard to get to. Maybe can’t get to them at all. I don’t need to go into that as you know the story. We are prisoners and witnesses to some things disappearing and some things birthing and the whole deal seems abstract and far away. We struggle for control, for some way to order the chaos.

My question is what is our response to this situation? That is where the “appropriate and robust” comes in. What can we hammer out as a statement describing a way out, a way forward? Where do we start.

Maybe defining the problem is the first goal. I’m struggling here. But I sense a need to make some progress in this area.

But I am out of gas for now. Catherine coming and we will say our rosary and then drive up to church to take Communion. I know for one that it is important to keep our spiritual connection lively.

Sunday loves, Felipé.

St James Day July 25, 2020

St James’ vast blue sky!
(photo P Volker)

A cloudless morning here at Raven Ranch. Maybe it is the number one day statistically to be cloudless, it could very well be. I remember this being a big deal with climbers planning an ascent of Mt Rainer here in the neighborhood. Seems like a particular day in July is mentioned as the most likely to be the one to see the grand view when you reached the summit.

Yea, as I remember July 25th in 2014 it was the day Kelly and Phil flew out of Seattle and into Madrid. That was back before Phil was Felipé. And back then we, Kelly and I that is, had no idea when St James Day was. We had plenty of things that we were juggling at that point. We were the young and the willing and knew little of the power of St James. But it didn’t take the long for him to wrestle us into submission, a week or so, with nasty tactics like sleep deprivation, heat, pain, smiles, hugs and chocolate croissants. Well, you know!

So, this is his day. As I have learned, correct me if I am wrong, these Saint’s Days are the days of the death of that particular person. We celebrate the day they were martyred although not all Saints were martyred. But James the Greater was martyred although I am not sure anyone is sure of the actually day on the calendar. He was the first of the Apostles to be killed for his faith and he was beheaded by a Herod. I think that was the son of the Herod that was ruling at the time of the birth of Jesus.

Anyway, somehow, some way his body is spirited to western Spain, the end of the earth, to be with us there these days in the Cathedral at Santiago. But we don’t need all our factoid ducks in a row hopefully. The important thing is that we went, experienced and drank of the “flow of pilgrims” and that somehow we internalized that thing. It was the grain of sand that turned into the beautiful pearl in our shell.

So, today at some point drink a toast to our alma mater wherever you find yourself and in whatever shape you are in. Thank you St James for giving us something that has totally enriched our lives and that can’t be taken away. Yes we got the t-shirt but we also got something profoundly deep and enduring. We are thankful for our most important ducks being totally lined up.

ducky loves, Felipé.

Cambridge Karen Is Here With Great News!

Karen at Finisterre, the End of the World.
(photo K Kelly)

I’m off to Spain in ten days to spend a month walking my beloved Camino Frances before starting six months of chemo in early September. My cancer is ultimately life limiting and I’m probably as well now as I’ll ever be. A friend is going with me and I’ll be walking just 10km or so a day. I’m not strong enough at the moment to do more.

It has been interesting to experience people’s reactions. These have ranged from “you go girl” to “are you mad” to “you are putting other people’s life at risk”.

I’ve sat with the question of going. If I had all the time in the world, I’d delay til next year. But I don’t. I also I think have a different attitude to risk than some. Yes, there is risk involved. But my entire life is risky these days. Living is risky. I think many of us including me have been insulated from life risk. We haven’t had wars or famines to deal with. So the “new normal” feels frightening. I have many healthy friends who won’t leave the house at the moment.

But we have to choose. I have to choose. Do I engage with the world with all it’s wonderful and beauty and also with its Covid risk. Or do I hide. I’m choosing not to hide. I’m choosing to go to Spain and walk. I won’t be stupid. I’ll be wearing my mask and keeping my distance, but I’m going.

And it’s given my life a new urgency and joy it hasn’t had for a while.

Karen, Cambridge. Caminoheads England Bureau Chief.