Right Now, Maggie Walking Into Santiago!

And Maggie between her walking friends.  Buen Camino!
And Maggie between her walking friends. Buen Camino!

Here are some recent emails between Maggie and myself:

Maggie ~ how are we doing over there? Good, bad or indifferent, doesn’t matter. There is no wrong way to do the Camino. We are there to gather insights, right? Insights, insights, insights feeding our inner Camino. Bless you sweetheart. Love you, Felipe.

How lovely to see your msg. Hard to believe one day before Santiago. The deeper part of me does not want this to end. I cannot express my experience on an Android. My battery is almost out so I will recap from home. Maggie

Maggie ~ so glad to hear from you and to hear that you are on schedule. Have to admit that I was a little worried about you but you are fine. Sometimes deadlines can ruin a good thing. I will put up a post with your words. Thanks for taking the time. Love you,, Phil.

Leaving now
..not sure my words are that interesting
I was going to recap when I returned home. Now, off to Santiago!! Maggie

Thank God It’s Saturday, My Rebecca

My Rebecca.
My Rebecca.

Here is a lovely description of the last day of filming about a year ago here at Raven Ranch, the day our beloved dog Sture died. My Rebecca had a writers get together yesterday and produced this piece for it, brand new.

Impressions from a memorable day

“A year ago, not to the day, but near enough. Phil’s Camino film crew here for the weekend to get footage of his home turf to complement the Spanish pilgrimage. That last night, Sunday, after long days and hours of interviews with family, doctors, friends, was a party. It was cool, being November, maybe even a little cold. The night was clear and starry. There was a crackling fire outside (because that’s where we party, regardless of the season). Wiley and several of his friends—Josh and Dom for sure, and two girlfriends (former and current at the time), Dom the sound man still toting the sound boom around collecting ambient noise to add to the soundtrack. Jessica from San Diego huddling inside by the woodstove, despite the indoor temperature having reached a suffocating 78°. Sausages grilling on the barbecue, a vat of wassail simmering on the Coleman stove atop the picnic table. Rick, one of Phil’s fellow pilgrims, made paella, and somehow our big spoon got so hot that the potholder melted and fused onto the handle. It’s there still, the rough dirty green fibers marring the smooth black plastic, whispering “remember this night.”
Sture, our beloved big black dog, recently diagnosed with cancer, valiantly hanging in all day so patiently with all the interviewing, listening in on deep conversations about life and death. Lying there in the overheated house (he always liked being out in the cold—it reminded him of his homeland, Sweden. Particularly when it snowed—to see his pure black fur sprawled out in the whiteness was a treat). Finally the cameras quit rolling and everyone went out to party and eat. Ah—at last. He perked up and began to cruise around amongst the partiers In search of edible possibilities. I was looking at him– how beautiful he was! Soft shiny fur and bright eyes, tail wagging –when suddenly he just dropped to the ground. Stone dead.
Phil, as usual in a crisis practical and collected, touched his eyeball and pronounced him dead. I was in shock for a few seconds and then my grief burst forth in nearly hysterical weeping. It was all my grief, for all the cancer, for Phil and for Sture, breaking the dam of my calm acceptance. As different friends hugged me and lent me their shoulders to cry on, Phil and Wiley wrapped him in a special quilt made by Phil’s grandmother for infant Phil and put him in the truck that he loved to go in wherever Phil was going. Stunned silence stitched spaces in the murmuring condolences. Josh said to me, “Wow—sometimes life is so . . .sudden.” and I thought yes. Life is sudden. Death is sudden, but it’s life, life life.
That night I was supposed to sing in a concert but life suddenly happened. In the end, I sang for Sture. Sang “Blessings on your Journey” around the campfire with other voices joining in as they got it. Eyes shining bright with tears, I sang for Sture. Fully present to the very end, he lived a life as noble as any I can imagine.”

Yes, it was quite a memory for everyone there. We laughed and cried at the same time. Ahh, Felipe.

Documentary News

Wildflower along the Camino in Spain.
Wildflower along the Camino in Spain.

I want to give you some very very encouraging news in from Annie the Director/Producer of Phil’s Camino. We have been working on this project for roughly a year and a half now and things are coming together sufficiently to have something to show folks. So, Annie had a screening of the film last Sunday in LA sharing it with a select audience to gather important feed back.

Here are some comments from the viewers:

“A must see. Soulful and moving”
“This film has so much meaning. It takes courage to live full out as Phil does; and it takes courage and skill to make a film that rings true. This one does!”
“It was wonderful”
“Magnificent — it’s sitting inside my heart”
“Beautifully filmed”

Nice, right? These are very encouraging comments obviously. This is what we live for, to make some, difference. We’ve all had our noses so close to the grindstone that it is a breath of fresh air to see this kind of reaction from viewers outside the old smoke filled room. Yea.

Here is what Annie said in conclusion to her update:

“Anyway, Felipe, this is most definitely the little film about a big dream that is very close to being done. St. James is working hard as our Executive Producer and the crooked places are being made straight.”

Well that is the way it is at the moment, love you, Felipe.

p.s. – let us all be “sitting inside” each other’s hearts always.

High Pressure – Alarm, Alarm, Alarm!

Catherine took this yummy pic along Phil's Camino this AM.
Catherine took this yummy pic along Phil’s Camino this AM.

That’s how my day started out, no joke. You know, everything has alarms or rings, or ringtones, seems like EVERYTHING. I’m reaching a critical point where I am starting to block stuff out and not pay attention. Is it all really that critical?

But OK that was a rant. But this morning my portable chemo pump started alarming all over the place: High Pressure, High Pressure, High Pressure!
Yea, and all before coffee. Gee, I don’t know, can I ignore it? Well, I guess not. So I call the magic 800 number and after answering a bunch of questions finally get the go-to-gal in North Carolina. And she starts asking me questions like what is the name of your pump and I say “Pancho”. And she says huh. She doesn’t know who she is talking to, obviously. What she really wanted to know, which is of lesser importance, is that it is a CADD-Legacy Plus.

So, it didn’t take her long to pinpoint the old problemo. It was the sort of a thing only a redneck would come up with so I felt pretty stupid but it turned into a good laugh. In tracing the plastic line that connects Pancho to my port I came across the point where I had pinched it off with my suspenders clip where the tube ran out of my clothing and across the top of my jeans. Yea, right there where a fella clips things together. This is all before coffee, mind you.

Well, that’s how it all started out but things improved. Had a great walk with Bill (the new guy), Dana y Catherine. We got a lot of talking in, high quality talking. Then got some taxes paid, bills paid, work done. Now I have to put my redneck hat back on and prepare venison heart for dinner, dinner of champions!

Tomorrow have some great news to report from Annie about Phil’s Camino documentary. So stay tuned, love you, Felipe.

Will Work For Tapas

Mac and Cheese time!
Mac and Cheese time!

Well, that’s what it’s come to, I guess. One day you watch the “Way” then soon you are on to “Walking the Camino”, the documentary. Before you know it you are buying hiking boots and a pack and ordering plane tickets and using one of those goofy camping toothbrushes. And the end of all that is that now my big daily thought is how do I just make it to tapas.

Hehe, this has been my downward or upward spiral of the last three years. I know I have talked about this before but tapas still remain the high point of my day. And we had a great tapas yesterday. We have a new friend walking with us and enjoying tapas. He made a comment on how our group looked like something right out of the Way. Yea, we both have a common ancestor. Anyway I just threw my hat in the air to celebrate that news.

This “will work for tapas” occurred to me during the night. Maybe our thoughts and talks have gotten too deep and heavy and we needed some comic relief? That’s what I am thinking.

And tonight we have a Belly Laugh Theater session scheduled. I’m still am laughing over the last one where we watched “Naked Gun 2 1/2”. Yea, laughing is good. Off to lunch. I made mac and cheese for our hospital picnic lunch. Yummy loves, Felipe.

My Purpose

Moonset this morning.
Moonset this morning.

At some point during the night’s waking moments I had one of those crystalline thoughts that I immediately realized I needed to write down. But no, fell asleep again, as I was exhausted. Remarkably the thought persisted though and I could examine it twice more as I had my random awakenings and here it is morning and I still have it!

Fodder for these thoughts come from my own questioning and from conversing with cancer campers and commandos who I am in constant contact with. Seems we are preoccupied with the “big” questions. Why this or why that, right?

But OK, my thought was, “My purpose (earthly purpose) is not to try and live forever (earthly life) but to try and complete my journey (my purpose).” Am I fulfilling my mission as opposed to just trying to lengthen my life for it’s own sake. The stress, the emphasis should be on the journey that gives my life meaning and not on keeping this old body going at all cost.

If I surrender to God’s will I can move beyond this trap of worry about the importance of my own days. What are my days anyway if I give up on my journey, my mission? They are only important in terms of what I am doing with them!

Thank you for being with me here, wrestling in the goulash I call it lately. And this opens the way to being able to pray for myself better now. “Give me the days to fulfill my mission!” seems like a prayer that makes sense to me here and now.

Off to breakfast and work. Thanks for being here for me, love, Felipe.

Word From Annie

There was a small showing of Phil’s Camino documentary in LA Sunday. Annie posted this on FaceBook:

“Annie O’Neil
14 hrs ·
Thank you! Thank you again! And thank you again! SO many wonderful wishes, prayers and donations heart emoticon We are well on our way to finishing Phil’s Camino! I had my first public viewing of the rough cut of Phil’s Camino last night. It was a small but mighty group! It was a mix of some pilgrims, some past donors, some old friends and new friends, and it was a thrill to watch them watching Phil’s Camino! Thank you to all who went to the website (www.philscamino.com) and made a donation there heart emoticon Thank you to all who have been walking with us this entire time heart emoticon Thank you to all of you who are just hearing about Phil’s Camino and are opening your hearts along with your wallets to get this film done! Next fundraiser is in Salt Lake City! Ultreya y Suseya! grin emoticon”

Pretty dang exciting seeing this process unfold. Keeping you in touch, Felipe.

Tom Bomb 10/25/15

Grey here looking out at Quartermaster Harbor, Vashon Island.
Grey here looking out at Quartermaster Harbor, Vashon Island.

Father Tom is back again with this wonderful piece from Crux. I call messages from him “Tom Bombs” as they always good and measure in megatons. Check this out:


By Christopher J. Hale

Crux contributor October 23, 2015

“Our life is a journey, and when we stop moving, things go wrong.”

With these words, Pope Francis opened his first homily as the Bishop of Rome. Francis’s papacy has had a particular focus on those on the existential margins of faith. More than a pope for Sunday Mass-going Catholics, Francis has been a pope for everyone who struggles, and sometimes fails, to find God in the grittiness of everyday life.

That’s why I think the popular Jesuit pontiff would give his classic thumbs up to Oprah’s newest series Belief, airing this week at 8 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.


The seven-night series highlights men and women throughout the world who are searching to live for something beyond themselves and to be connected with others searching for redemption and meaning in life.

The episode airing Friday night features John, a 65-year-old Australian doctor who grew up Catholic but hasn’t been to Mass in more than 40 years. John lost his faith over what he believed was the Church’s inaction during the atrocities he saw committed firsthand during the Rhodesian Civil War.

Along with his faith, John also struggled with alcoholism and lost his wife and his family. John put it bluntly: “The last 12 years have been the most miserable of my life.”


To try to reconnect with God and with his family, John decided to complete a pilgrimage on the Way of St. James, an ancient 500-mile-journey through Western Europe to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The pilgrimage route has existed for more than a millennia, but only in recent years has it become a worldwide sensation. Along with James, more than 200,000 will make the trek in 2015.

Why do so many people come? James puts it well: “I’ve made some big mistakes. And I want to set things right. Look, I’m 65. The bells are tolling! I’m tilting at windmills. I’ve got to fix this.”

Or as Pope Benedict said when visiting the pilgrimage site in 2010: “The fatigue of the journey, the variety of landscapes, their encounter with peoples of other nationalities — all of this opens [pilgrims’] hearts to what is the deepest and most common bond that unites us as human beings: We are in quest, we need truth and beauty, we need an experience of grace, charity, peace, forgiveness, and redemption.”

If Pope Francis is right, John and his companions won’t be disappointed in their search for something more: “Time and time again, [God] bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.”

Before Pope Francis visited the United States, Oprah told him, “I hold your life and work in the highest esteem.” After seeing Oprah’s latest production lifting up those who are trying to find God in daily life, he might say the same of her.

Christopher J. Hale is the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. More

Sent from my iPhone

The Attitude Bed And Breakfast

Hiking along in Spain but our walk could be anywhere., right?
Hiking along in Spain but our walk could be anywhere., right?

I woke from my dreams a few minutes ago thinking about a place called Attitude. Was it Attitude, Washington? Was it a place or a state of mind? I know there is Zig Zag, Oregon and Talent, Oregon, which has a great Polish restaurant I have heard. Then I thought maybe Our Jennifer could open an Attitude B & B. Can we go to a place and pick up a state of mind?

Then I randomly picked up the local Northwest Catholic magazine that had run the article back in March about me and my pilgrimage and read a little article about local pilgrimage. About places to go without going half way around the world. Are there opportunities all over?

“As Pope Emertius Benedict XVI said in 2010, “To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness amoung those who believe.” (October 2015 edition)

Yup, just thinkin, love you, Felipe.

Good News And Bad News

Along Phil's Camino, things in fall  color.  Pretty huh?
Along Phil’s Camino, things in fall color. Pretty huh?

Well, I’ll give you the bad news first and get it out of the way. The blog will be down for a couple or three days as I will be out of town going to the middle of nowhere on sabadical. So you will have to fend for yourselves and trust that things will be bigger and better on my return. That’s what I am banking on.

OK, but here is the good news, I’ve decoded the secret message from Maggie on the Camino. This took a while but I finally got it:




Pretty cool. Later alligator, love, Felipe.