News From The Ranch!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Phil in the corn


September 19th, 2021

I have been thinking about this for some hours now and it won’t let me go until it is written.  So, nothing to do but to do it.

When politicians and generals retire they get to tell things differently sometimes.  Well,  I am about as retired as can be, having a musket ball through the lung.  Time to tell my truth.  You know since the inception of this blog Felipé avoided politics.  It just didn’t have a place in the gathering phase of that train of thought.  He attempted to bring people in without  complications.  All well and good.   But I am retired and it is time to turn the page on that thinking for me.  And again this is me, Phil and not Felipé.


Who knows how much time I have left today here at this hour.   I sense a need to write to you about the situation in our country.  It sounds a little like politics but so be it.  Time to take a stand, unwavering, General-like.  I must take a stand against the Trump thinking that has captured so many.  I relate to the Old Republicans personally and I am so happy to hear George Will, a bright light, come out and say that if one person can cause all this craziness then one person can correct it.  There is precedence  for this.  When a politician does this at the exact right time when this is what is stirring already in the people, then it has a huge impact.  That is exactly what is in motion I feel.  I am here with this, right now.


Well, things are starting to crack for the Trump forces in one way or another.  And of course we have huge problems in other areas at the same time.  I am not trying to minimize anything but I sense a difference today.  And this is my stand to be with those
who want to build a future without Trump and his thinking.   I won’t be here but you will.


This is what I am relating to you now, September 19th, 2021,  General Assuredness.

News From The Ranch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unknown; sent by Felipe.


I reached the last hole on my belt and had to put it aside.  My Rebecca is a jewel.  I slept overnight for the first time in the Elk Hotel.  We had a storm of wind and rain and it was wild and wooly out there but felt I had to check for leaks.   Henriette recently bought a hat rack for the tent to carry gear when not in use, good piece of gear.   The corn is done for 2021, the sugar turned to starch.  It was a very good crop.  Thank you, algratful.

General Hopefulness, September 18.





Posted by Cris on behalf of Phil/Felipé/The Boss/The General.

The Camino is Just Like Life … (by our BC Ron, from Spain)

Peregrino Ron (The picture was taken by Julie Losi, the pilgrim behind me mentioned in the blog post) Julie allowed us to post the pict <3


Thinking about the many times I have uttered or heard others utter these 6 words and reflecting upon the past year or so, the day I walked into Portomarin comes to mind.


Life has been, for me, a beautiful collage of people joining me along the journey to The End, an unknown place that most certainly has a great coffee shop and bakery.  And together with those special people I had the opportunity to solve puzzles, problems and riddles of life.  Entering Portomarin combines all these things for me.  I bet you have such a  place as well.


Why Portomarin?  It is just a few days from Santiago. It was where I became concerned that I wouldn’t know how to live a life with more than one shirt to choose from every morning and it included some special pathways I had to navigate.


For me it was that bridge which created a terrifying optical scenario.  One of my family members walking behind me could sense it and it made her laugh.  She even took this picture to show me that I was OK.  I wasn’t convinced. I tried to do all the physical and emotional things to assure my safety and comfort but somehow I was overcome by the thought of gravity taking me down, or limiting on my freedom of movement.  I was afraid of falling off into the water below.  Completely unlikely, but it consumed me.  Do you recall your walk across that bridge?  No problem, right?


I actually held my hand to the left of my eyes so I couldn’t see the water below and I shook visibly.  Have you been there and done that?


I was so relieved at the end of the bridge. I looked left and right to check for vehicles and then, straight ahead, I saw those stairs. I was drained from the bridge experience and now I had to climb what looked to me like hundreds of stairs.  No way! Again, like life, I sometimes celebrate survival only to face some unforeseen obstacle requiring immediate attention.  I took off my backpack and sat at the bottom of the stairs as people walked past me.  Eventually I got up and made it to the top of the stairs.  I was drained.


Then I found out that the albergue my family had chosen was on the far side of the town.  Again, just like life, sometimes when we think we arrived there is one more step.  Take a deep breath.  Take another.  Control the envy for those sitting at Cafés chatting with friends.  Meet the challenge. In reality it was likely less than ten minutes to get to my resting place for the night, but being unknown, it was tough.


But just like life, when I saw the albergue sign and one of my family members out front the emotional and physical rewards began to flow through me and all was well.  I knew that after the ritual register, shower, wash clothes, have café con leche (or was it a beer on this occasion?) all would be well and our time together would subdue the feelings of the last hour or so.  Life was good, we were all safe, together and able to once again let love flow around the table.


I write these words as a reminder to myself that the challenges I have faced and continue to face do have pathways and comrades to guide, support and comfort me.  Please join me in celebrating the journey, the people along the way, even the bridges and stairs.  A full life requires this and more.  Keep your eyes up to not miss who and what is coming. ¡Buen Camino!


In Just-Like-Life Love,


Butterfly’s Day Out

“Catariña Vinyard”. Picture by their owners sent to Ryck.

Dear Caminoheads,

Have you ever listened to that piece of music by Mark O’Connor? It is one of my favorites pieces from the album The Essentials by Yoyo Ma, in fact, I might say that the whole 2 CDs (oh boy, I am old!!!) are my favorites… or maybe it is just that I love all about Yoyo Ma. In any case, I thought about this piece today, just because I took the day off work without planning and I ended having a full day out (outside my apartment, outside work, outside the screen of my work computer, outside my phone…)


You see, I had to go to downtown Buenos Aires for an appointment very early in the morning, and when it was time to come back home, the city was overtaken by political protests and I got caught up in them -both stuck in traffic and in the intense anger of these people- and at a point, it looked as if I was not going to make it home until Friday!!! well… maybe I am exaggerating… but surely not on time and in conditions to make it for a reasonable day of work…


So, I ended calling my boss by 10 AM and said that I needed to breathe, and he suggested that I took the day off, so I did. And the day was beautiful, sunny (after like a week of rain), cool but spring like, so I decided to get a present for my nephews and post them in the mail for the boys, and go for lunch outside in the reliable place of my neighborhood, and go for a walk in the surrounding blocks, and then call the lady that was my secretary in my practice (when I used to practice) and invited her for a coffee, and had a great chat. And I ended spending the whole day outside… I came back home around 7 PM…


When I called my boss, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe… and I guess he knew it anyway, as I have had three crazy days this week already… and it was great to hear his support today… and how he knew that what I needed today was an unexpected day “off” and “out”…


I think it is just fair now to go, get a shower, and play Mark O’Connor’s “Butterfly’s Day Out” piece, in the version he plays with Yoyo Ma and Edgar Meyer… (By the way, have you listened to “The Goat Rodeo Sessions”? It is another of my favorite albums…)


All the emotions in one day Loves,



Lessons from hand-laundry duties in the Camino

Following the ritual at Finisterre: burning one of my white T-shirts.


Dear Caminoheads,

Today wasn’t different than yesterday if measured by the craziness of the day. Another day running in circles, and when it looks as if things get closer to the path they should take, a wind comes and there they are, blowing away in a new direction…


Someone told me today that I was frustrated because I was paying too much attention… and this made me think about my attitude when doing my hand-laundry in the Camino. For some unthoughtful reason, I purposely bought 2 white t-shirts and 1 black t-shirt to take to the Camino. Let me tell you, my first lesson learned was that white T-shirts are not a good choice for the Camino.


My second lesson learned was that when doing hand-laundry, I was very much aware of the dirt and spots, and my unskillful hand-laundry technique. As soon as I would put the T-shirt in water, I would see all the places I had left spots the previous day, and which were the ones that the T-shirt had acquired during the day. At the end of the Camino, white my T-shirts were ready to be burnt -if not because I had to keep one to wear, as that was all I had-.


There is a price we pay as we become more conscious: we can no longer pretend we don’t know. Sometimes, as we become more aware of our unskillful habits, it’s humbling to see the ways we fail to do the right thing, or the way we fall short.


Ram Dass wrote in his book “Be Here Now”:

“As you further purify yourself, your impurities will seem grosser and larger. Understand that it’s not that you are not getting more caught in the illusion. It’s just that you’re seeing it more clearly. The lions guarding the gates get fiercer as you go towards each inner temple. But, of course, the light gets brighter too.”


It looks as if it is a good thing to note the spots in our T-shirts, and to recognize how short we fall at doing hand-laundry… maybe I should have not burnt my white T-shirt in Finisterre…


Take me back to the Camino Loves,


Making my to-do list public

Cris’s mate. Picture taken while on vacation. March 2021 (by Cris)

Dear Caminoheads,

Ahhhhhh! Let me tell you, if yesterday I felt as if I was run over by a truck, today I feel as if the truck has come backwards and ran over me again! Crazy day… busy, but mostly crazy… I will write some more about the craziness of life at the moment once things settle… assuming they will settle… (SIGH!!!)


In the middle of the busyness, I have been unable to organize… that contributes to the “craziness” of the days… I am usually pretty organized and have things “under control”, but lately, time has become a bully. It seems it is always short, or that it passes so fast and I have more to do than what fits in my day… so lots of things have accumulated… and some of them feel embarrassingly simple to handle, yet they get undone…


For example, I have read every single comment, and reflected in many of them; yet I haven’t been able to reply to them yet (truth to be told, I did reply to them… in my mind!). At times, it has to do with screen time… I spend too many hours in front of the computer at work and reading things, that when the opportunity to log off comes, I jump at it… but I think I could do it just setting up a time in the day to do it! (I see The Boss nodding!!!!!!!!!!)


I also need to figure out why the font of the posts change in the middle of them… It is very weird as I do not do anything as I type and all seems ok… yet the mind of the blog comes alive from time to time and makes posts look odd, as yesterday’s… Go figure…! I might need to call pre-teen and teen nephews to fix this… they will probably roll their eyes and fix it with a click…


Oh well… now, that I have made public my to-do list, I feel like saying that “On Monday, I am starting the diet”… and I hope to have all of you accountable of my actions… giving me “the look” if I grab cake for breakfast!!!


Modern life Loves,


About the poem II

photo R Angert

Dear Caminoheads,


Oh Monday… does everyone feel at the end of Monday as if you were run over by a truck? I do. Mondays I end exhausted, even when it is Wednesday when I have the craziest of the days at work…


Anyway, what I wanted to write about today is the poem… actually, not the poem but the name of book where the poem is in. The book is called “Everyone at this party has two names”. I read this title when I was looking for the poem and found it funny. And like the poem, it kept in my mind going in circles -tailgating-. Isn’t it the truth? Don’t we all have two names?


The Boss here is an example: Phil is the Engineer; Felipe is the poet. John Conway is the Marine, PFJ is our farmer pilgrim friend. .. we are us within us, we are the two people who seem to be running in opposite directions, and fueled by different dreams, but living this one life.


And this took to remember another poem that I read for the first time in English in 2013, even when it was a poem from a Spanish writer published a year before I was born; this translation is from Robert Bly…

I am not I.
                   I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.
I leave the reflection up to you (but please share it with all of us in the comments!)
Which is your other name? Loves,

Walking the Camino and yesterday’s poem

Moving across the map from right to left, from east to west, from sunrise to sunset.
(photo P Volker)

Dear Caminoheads,

I have been intrigued and enchanted by this poem I posted yesterday since the first time I encountered it. The title of the poem, “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade,” has a great sense of humor in it, doesn’t it? — the idea that any teacher would teach 9 or 10-year-olds how to chant the Psalms while taking cigarette breaks is fantastic.  But it speaks to the strong sense of a person feeling that they missed out. How could any of these things be wrapped into the story of a life? This poem invites, I think, to look back to the story of our own life and to reflect, where were the times when I felt with no ground under my feet, when I didn’t know what to do, when I felt that nobody told me that this would be happening, and not only did nobody tell me, but nobody prepared me to know how to survive the fact that I wouldn’t know what to do.


This poem imagines that there was a moment that this all was taught, it is just that we missed the class. But even in that imagination, we were absent from that day so we probably had to teach ourselves all of these things.


How? Well, to me, the Camino was the way where I learned a lot of these things. Clearly, not to chant the Psalms while taking cigarette breaks, but for sure, I learned ways to remember my grandfather’s voice (this happened specifically in Ponferrada, while eating “pimientos de padron”), how not to feel lost in the dark (when despite the darkest hour just before the dawn, there were still yellow arrows), that I have enough (I think this is THE lesson), that I am is a complete sentence (well, this is also THE lesson!!!!), how not to squirm for sound when my own thoughts is all I hear, and it also taught me the most important math lesson: that hundreds of questions and feeling cold and all those nights spent looking for whatever it was that I lost are part of who I am also. And it is perfectly ok.


Maybe the author has no clue what the Camino is, but I bet Mrs Nelson does!!!!


Lessons learnt loves,


Today calls for a poem

Moving across the map from right to left, from east to west, from sunrise to sunset.
(photo P Volker)


What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade


Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person

add up to something.

Brad Aaron Modlin; “Everyone in this party has two names”

Brotherhood (post by our dear BC, Pilgrim Farmer John)

Twins at the Oasis 2021 (Pict by Ryck)

Phil getting welcomed to the Mindframe Theater at the Jukien Dubuque Film Festival. Thank you John Conway for setting up this awesome welcome. (Pict Annie?!)


Two Brave Americans, Phil and Farmer John. Veranda, August 2019

Greetings from the Heartland,

I’m honored to be able to return to the Friday Fill-In role for Phil’s Blog.


My “theme” came easily, as I recalled the oh-so-pleasant events of our recent Oasis. The presentation to our Leader, Felipe, of the Civil War era General’s “cover” (Thank you again and always, Ryck!) was done in a loving and light-hearted manner. But at the heart of it was the fourth “C” in Phil’s self-proclaimed identity. That “C” is Corps. As in, US Marine Corps. This “C” fits well with Catholicism “Strong Faith” and Corn “Sustenance”, while providing a bulwark to the Cancer “Life’s Enemy”. In Phil’s words, it all goes together in there.


That was one of the key elements in the quick mutual attraction between Farmer Felipe and Pilgrim Farmer John. The Corps has very often been described as a “Brotherhood”, notwithstanding the excellent and valuable contribution of the Women Marines, both historically and now. [I have a granddaughter in the third year of her USMC ROTC training, so I know of which I speak!] To discover Felipe and I not only shared the Brotherhood, but did so at the same time, and for a short period at least, unbeknown to either of us, we were in the same place doing it! There is an immediate mutual rapport, knowing without saying that we experienced the same trials. The accomplishments, though seemingly minor, have an outsized effect on how we looked at ourselves then, and still do now. The Few and the Proud, is truly more than an advertising jingle.


So to have an opportunity to briefly revisit that memory-shrouded landscape of our mutual past, and snap a USMC perfect salute to the Man whose leadership is General Worthy, created a vividly sharp image that will remain ingrained with us forever.


The Oasis truly did provide some out-sized, mind-bending, soul-enriching moments for us all. I’m so Blessed that we could all share in it together.


Semper Fidelis,

Pilgrim Farmer John