Oxtail Soup Two On Friday The Thirteenth.

A nourishing sunrise for instance.
A nourishing sunrise for instance.

Our Catherine put up such a lovely supportive comment on yesterday’s post about the nourishing Commando lunch. Thank you Catherine. Comments make for a continuation, an amplification of a thought that may not be fully formed as I propose it. The back and forth is priceless to the process of development.

Catherine’s comment has caused some thoughts about finding nourshment. And about Friday the thirteenth, today, which may be related. How does that fit together? Well, the bad feel of Friday the thirteenth has supposedly been passed down from the day the then Pope came down on the Knights Templar. Don’t know the month or year. But one day there was this order and the next a Saturday the fourteenth not. Apparently, this order was charged with belief in Gnosticism. This in a nutshell, as I understand it, is the heresy that salvation is gained by knowing secret knowledge. This is in direct opposition to the standard doctrine that salvation is open to everyone who accepts it, no secrets needed.

This is the ultimate nourishment to me and an end game. But what about all the time that we have where there are highs and lows and need of nourishment for body, mind and spirit on a daily basis. How do we find enough everyday for ourselves and those around us? How do we provide even on the Friday the Thirteenths?

Time to go and pick up Jennifer and travel to Seattle and the hospital. Had a storm over night but safe and sound now, just a little rain to nourish the soil. Till tomorrow, love, Felipe.

Our Jennifer’s Oxtail Soup

I don't know what this is but it is in my pics from yesterday.  Did that scamp Jennifer take it when I wasn't looking.  I like it.
I don’t know what this is but it is in my pics from yesterday. Did that scamp Jennifer take it when I wasn’t looking. I like it.

Yesterday’s hospital visit was grueling and the one of the major good points was the picnic lunch packed by Our Jennifer and the hot oxtail soup we were able to enjoy. There is something so rich and nourishing about this dish and it has been forever a “soul food” in our world. Soul food meaning a dish that is made from an ingredient that is unpopular because it generally takes longer to prepare and therefore it falls to peoples who have more time than money, people with “soul” it’s said.

It seems that while we try to enjoy our lunch every nurse on duty has to come by to check out what’s on the menu with the Commandos. It’s nice, wouldn’t have it any other way. But I was suprised to hear how few of them knew what it was. Yea, how could something so good be so little known? So I decided to write about it today. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

“Oxtail soup is made with beef tails. The use of the word “ox” in this context is a legacy of nomenclature; no specialized stock of beef animals are used. It is believed by some that oxtail soup was invented in Spitalfields in London in the seventeenth century by French Huguenot and Flemish immigrants, from the tails of animals.[1] Different versions of oxtail soup exist: Korean, Chinese, a fried/barbecued oxtail combined with soup variation which is a popular dish in Indonesia where it is called as sop buntut. An ethnic dish of the American South which traces its lineage back to the pre-revolutionary war era, and a thick, rich, gravy-like soup popular in the United Kingdom since the 18th century. Creole oxtail soup is made from a tomato base with oxtails, potatoes, green beans, corn, mirepoix, garlic, and herbs and spices.”

That’s nice but the food chemistry of it is on the unique side and noteworthy. The tail bones being an extension of the backbone are individual verebrae. These have cartilage between them and yeild a large amount of gelatin that is the secret ingredient. Also there is no shortage of fat most all of which needs to be drained off. Then maybe the stock includes some tomato as Our Jennifer’s did. Then there is the grain barley, carrots, celery and assorted herbs added. All this makes for a soup that as Our Gracie’s smile could change the weather so can this stuff! A thing of beauty.

I guess that I am raving here, which is better than ranting. But we need to make this stuff the offical soup of the Cancer Commandos. How’s that?
Good job Jennifer.

Have a few more emails to write and then will get ready for Thursday morning walk. Wonder who will show up? Yup, all good and more, love, Felipe.

November Eleventh, A Blank Slate

Sunrise from the ferry this morning.
Sunrise from the ferry this morning.

Jennifer and I are off to the hospital today in a few moments to partake in our prescribed dose of magic chemistry. How much of today is laid out for us and how much do we have control over? How many people will we come in contact with today that will be open to us? And how many people will we be open to? How greatly can we employ our God given talents to influence today’s situations, Commando style. Sometimes all it takes is a wink to deliver a big message if we are just present. Let’s try to be there. Short and sweet, love, Felipe.

November Tenth, Marine Corps Birthday

Chesty Puller and companion.
Chesty Puller and companion.

Every year on this date all around the world US Marines celebrate the birth of their beloved organization which occurred in 1775. Padre Tomas, Chaplain, sent this into me recently and may go a long way to tell of us.

Gotta love the United States Marines

Subject: Marine Math: The “Old Corps” Method

The Korean War, in which the Marine Corps fought and won some of its most brutal battles, was not without humor.

During one such conflict a ROK (Republic of Korea) commander, whose unit was fighting along with the Marines, called legendary Marine Gen. Chesty Puller to report a major Chinese attack in his sector.

“How many Chinese are attacking you?” Puller asked.

“Many, many Chinese!” the excited Korean officer exclaimed.

Puller demanded a more specific count. Back came the answer: “Many, many, many Chinese!”

An angry Puller swore and called for a Marine liaison officer, imbedded with the Koreans,to provide a more useful count

“Lieutenant,” he growled into the radio, “exactly how many Chinese you got up there?”

“General, we got a whole shitload of Chinese up here!”

“Thank God,” Puller said. “At least there’s someone up there who knows how to count!”

I Called A Meeting

Always smelling the roses.
Always smelling the roses.

Seems like since Daylight Savings moved my sense of time around I have an hour each morning to pray, meditate, wonder, get inside. My brain is waking up at. 0530 because the light is the same as 0630 a few days ago. Don’t have me explain that but let’s say sleeplessness has its benefits. And I finished the book “The Alchemist” in bed six hours before and I was still thoroughly saturated with that juice.

Now I have to back up to the Camino last year to tell you of the benefits that I came back with. It was a huge sack of plunder but the biggest prize is maybe the subtlest. The biggest prize is the knowledge that God is always next to me, so very very close. I didn’t need a lot of words to pray anymore as in the past. Before Camino God seemed to be always a distance away and a lot of words were needed to lure him in but not anymore. As I think of it we were so breathless and desperate at times that we didn’t have the luxury of all of those words, did we?

Another very important part of my situation was a workshop that I had the very good fortune to participate in recently. And this was a course taught by three lovely and capable women on what I would call Natural Horsemanship. It was all about communicating with their highly trained horses with one’s intentions. Yea. If we are without inner conflict and clear we can “talk” to a horse and get him to “dance” with us with our intentions. It was a very transformative experience is how I would put it and hard to put into words.

Well, what does that have too do with anything? It has to do with the idea that if God is close by and I just need a word or two to communicate what does it mean to communicate with God with no words, just my intentions. And if there are no words involved it must mean that God is very very close, yes? And this is where I have been lately working with this.

But let’s pull all this together if we can. This is all going to sound very “out there” and yes it is but follow along. So, also recently I have been trying to visualize and talk with my eleven tumors in my lungs. Can I convince them to start growing smaller, relinquishing their power. In that process I am trying to meet with the Soul of Cancer, that essence, that force that we dread. So, this morning with confidence and desperation I called a meeting with my Cancer, my God and Myself inside me. Yes, it happened!

Something has to give. We have to work things out. Cancer and I both have missions to complete. How is that going to work. Does one of us win and the other loose? Do we both become meaningful because we are locked in opposition? Do we both win? Do we continue to try and live together beating each other up? Hmm. And that is why God was there to start to sort this thing out. I don’t know anything beyond this at the moment but we got started and that is the news!

I am off to see Dr Zucker this AM. We will have some good stuff to talk about. So, keep tuned, more to come. Thanks, love you, Felipe the Pilgrim.

The Third Time Now

A stranger so to speak but thriving in unknown territory.
A stranger so to speak but thriving in unknown territory.

I am just on the verge of finishing reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for the third time. I am realizing that perhaps this is a book that will stick with me for a while longer as I reread it again and again. This I have done in the past with two other books, “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me” and “American Guerilla In The Philippines”, in case you were wondering. Don’t know if there is a common thread there but we’ll leave it for the historians to figure out.

The Alchemist is a good story but beyond, a treasure trove of notions that springboard me into a very expansive space. It is a very calm space which in itself is immensely useful but it also is a place to see life differently. A place to navigate from perhaps.

Is this all TMI, too much information? Yea, probably but I don’t see any other way around it at the moment so you will have to put up with me on this. I am trying not to bore you. But something magical happens here on the blog once in a great while and it happened recently with “The Little Bean” post and it has happened before on at least one occasion with “Warning” back in September 2014. Could I write like that more often? Please. Once a month maybe instead of once a year? And somehow, the extra special posts are related to me reading The Alchemist.

I’m going to give you three quotes from the book to try to illustrate my point: “But don’t worry,” the alchemist continued. “Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives.” Yes.
“The boy looked out at the horizon. There were mountains in the distance. And there were dunes, rocks, and plants that insisted on living where survival seemed impossible.” Yes.
“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Yes.

Yes, yes and yes. This is where the Cancer Commandos live and thrive. Quick breakfast and a walk, later, love, Felipe.

One Little Mosquito

A stranger so to speak.
A stranger so to speak.

So, I’m making a fresh pot of coffee this early AM before picking up Catherine for Mass. I had just been sitting at the kitchen table wondering about what to write on today’s post. In that zone of uncertainty when this little mosquito flys by me. Sort of odd really and caught my attention. Wrong season, right? It’s November and well into it. He is flying zigzagie as in looking for something or uncertain about where to land, kind of tentative. And then I think OK does this little guy have a big lesson for me, like things have been occurring lately? We’ve had little spiders and a little bean with big lessons.

He really didn’t talk to me but the lesson started when I tried to capture him with a word and came up with “stranger”. He was showing uncertainty, was out of place or better out of time. This stranger thing snapped me back to a walking conversation I had with Dana recently about the origins for the word pilgrim being that very idea a stranger or a foreigner as my dictionary has. Either way same thing. It says from the Latin “peregrinus” meaning foreign.

Dana was talking about the idea that being a pilgrim is supposed to be or puts one in the position of stranger. Aside from the striving for the goal stuff the basic experience is one of experiencing strangerness and that is the space intended for you. In other words it is supposed to be a facsimile of life in a Christian sense where one belongs in heaven but we are temporarily wandering on this earth. A stranger as viewed from worldly perspective. Being in and not of, I have heard it expressed.

Reading the short book “Pilgrim’s Progress” written in the 1500rds I think, talks of this. It was a book that was required reading until maybe mid twentieth century when we became too cool for such stuff. But my little mosquito is still onto it.

Hey have to go. Off to a luncheon potluck. So stranger loves to you today, Felipe.

The Doc, The Documentary

Phil's Camino boots.
Phil’s Camino boots.

This is Saturday and this last Wednesday evening twelve of us gathered to watch for our first time Phil’s Camino. It was a very moving event for me and for all of us. It was so chock full of goodies, full of beauty, full of all the stuff that make one laugh and cry at the same time. I have been trying to come up with intelligent things to say about it but it is too close to me but I will try now.

Annie, Todd and Jessica along with a whole bevy of talented folks have been adding their magic to this effort in all sorts of ways. People in the movie were so beautiful just being themselves, Rick and daughter Maryka, Kelly, my Australian walking pal Gracie. Regrets that it didn’t show some of the scores of folks that were so great along the Way, beautiful pilgrims from all points of the compass, beautiful Spanish people just being beautiful Spanish people.

Way back in the early summer of 2014 we were so focused on getting to Spain and the filming there. That was where everything was headed and were the story was we thought. We had done a little filming at the hospital before going but not much was happening outside of that. And that was my idea of how the movie would read, all about Spain. But as it turns out the evoulved story is more about my inner pilgrimage and all that went into that and all that resulted from that. And that is as it should be perhaps because as so much has been pubished on the trail in Spain and its trials, comaradery, beauty and so forth.

So, as I think about the movie now that I have seen it and digested it somewhat the story of the Outer pilgrimage has been eclipsed by the story of the Inner pilgrimage that resulted from it. And as the maybe hundred hours of raw footage was winnowed down to the half hour of the movie so many things had to be jettisoned to effectively tell the evolved story. Am I making sense? This is the major challenge of editing, to get down to the essence with the pile of raw material. What are the rock bottom things that tell the story most effectively.

Realizing that constraint I still long for all memories of Spain and the wonderful folks that really made it all happen for me that would be too numerous to mention. And folks here, to numerous to mention and at the same time so important to me. But you guys know that you dwell in my heart as always. So, onward we go to tell folks that weren’t there or maybe never will get close, the story, the story of how a dreaded disease as cancer can be a catalyst for positive change for this guy, the average guy.

Time to bake some cornbread for breakfast. Wiley and I off after that on our third day to finish the old two day job. Thinking of you, trying to pray for you as often as I can think about it. Alperfect it is, althankful we are, love, Felipe.

Investing in One Another

I invested in Yu Hoh Wong, that's what I did.
I invested in Yu Hoh Wong, that’s what I did.

In September I traveled to a men’s dinner in Seattle with a couple of hundred in attendence. There were two warmup speakers that talked of their personal experience with life’s troubles and of finding Christ and the right track. Very inspiring to hear people be so open about their personal stories. Then the main speaker was Jeff Kemp who was quarterback for Seattle Seahawks and local celebrity.

Jeff talked about how men play defense and offense so to speak. How to see opportunity in the places where things look impossible. Very good stuff really and a glimpse of how a man commands by watching and listening to Jeff who obviously can. But as his talk moved forward he got to talking about mentorship which is the next step after manhood. There is so much emphasis on achieving manhood that one thinks that it is the final step on the ladder. But mentoring comes next. And this was the main point of his talk, his plea.

This connects to yesterday’s post really nicely. Remember the desperate little bean who through pure will power got my attention and got to be part of the future. Well, he convinced me to make that investment in him, an investment in the future, his future, our future. And that is the basis of mentorship which starts with the decision to invest in that someone and the rest follows.

Off to breakfast and work. I have a retreat starting tonight that I will be fighting to get to. Yup, up up and away, love, Felipe.

One Little Bean

Burton Church envelope with Yu Hoh Wong bean seeds.  The exclamation mark is priceless.
Burton Church envelope with Yu Hoh Wong bean seeds. The exclamation mark is priceless.

Last evening we had a private showing of Phil’s Camino here in the living room of Raven Ranch house. Our Wiley worked miracles to get us linked up to it out there somewhere wherever it resides. We Skyped with Annie while we watched. It is 27 minutes long and the twelve of us watched it twice clutching Kleenexes and champagne flutes. Wow!

It is beautiful, soulful, poignant and funny here and there. To me as having been involved with much of the component parts it is amazing to see the whole (95% there). And the whole is a beautiful story and much larger than the pieces. I am so so lucky to have somehow been a part.

This early morning I was up at 0530 and scurrying around the kitchen making a fire and coffee and cleaning up the leftover party mess. I got to sweeping the floor of debris and had a little pile to scoop up when I spied one little dried bean there amoungst the crumbs, toothpicks and leaves. I knew exactly what it was by its distinctive shape, size and color as one of My Rebecca’s precious “Yu Hoh Wong” bean seeds that she faithfully collects and dries and saves for her next year’s garden. How easy it would have been to sweep that pile into the dustpan and on into the fire. But that one seed was crying out to get my attention. It started by telling me of its winter sleep that it was just embarking on with its deep subtle mysteries. It told me of the miracle of spring coming and a wonderful growing season full of such joy and promise. It told me of a bountiful harvest and how one seed would multiply to be a hundred provided with a little food, water, sun and protection. It said that it’s nourishment would help my family and friends prosper and that would ripple outward into the Universe. It said that after a beautiful summer it too would experience an meaningful autumn of life just as I was now. It’s beautiful framework would dry and get ready to go back to the earth but first it would give forth one precious pod that would contain the future provided that someone would pick it and dry it and save it.

OK OK I picked the little guy up and put him with his budddies in the little brown envelope there on the kitchen counter. A lesson from one little desperate Yu Hoh Wong bean seed, right? One seed is much much more than one seed I learned.

But it is so much like our desperate little 27 minute film. Somehow, someway it has gotten this far through thick and thin. It has survived on meager rations and a little moisture where it could find it. It begged, borrowed and stole. Saint James noticed it struggling and appreciated its intention and shortly afterward the Universe began to conspire in it’s strange convoluted way to push it forward to this point. We are so lucky to be here to ride along with it. But most importantly it is a little seed that promises much.

Happy to be a small part of the whole, love, Felipe.