We Did It With Torches, Well Flashlights

Flashlights shining on the trail. (photo by Jim Meiklejohn)

Yea, last evening we were out in the dark and the wet walking Phil’s Camino with boots and flashlights. Torches would have been fun, maybe next year. That was a first, walking after dark that is.

And we had a birthday dinner, venison chili by My Rebecca and Jen. And with cornbread. That was with Jim and Jen. And Charlie came in about time for birthday cake. Earlier Catherine and Dana were here for tapas.

So, I had a good birthday. We didn’t get to a bonfire. Maybe next year for that too. We need young guys for that, Wiley and his buddies, those are the fire builders.

And I just want to think to several weeks ago when Gigi helped us with a new IPad and new IPhone. That was all compliments of My Rebecca and Henna. Here I am trying to figure out all this new electronics that my gals gave to me for my birthday, early presents.

Catherine and I were off to Mass this morning for the 8 o’clock. It is the fourth Sunday in Advent with Christmas Eve next. I have to work that one with my new usher position. I like being an usher. As a kid all my buddies’ Dads were ushers and I looked up to them. So it is a natural for me these days.

Speaking of these days we are supposed to be off to a Winter Solstice labyrinth walk this evening. It is over the other side of Seattle so a little bit of a drive but maybe I need to get out. A friend of Henriette’s built this labyrinth in her backyard and throws this party every year and we are invited.

Yup, that’s it for me today. Christmas on the horizon.

ushering in a birth loves, Felipé.

Here is a video of a birthday wish to me that Pilgrim Farmer John engineered for me from the Vocal Artists of Iowa. Check this out:

Ryck Our Caminoheads Puget Sound Bureau Chief

Our buddy Ryck.

James Taylor/Joni Mitchell/JFK/Ernest Hemingway, and Phil

I recently watched a Facebook video clip of the Howard Stern show. On the show it had James Taylor. It was from 1997. It was a short clip of James Taylor playing his acoustic guitar and singing “Woodstock”, a song written in 1970 and originally sang by Joni Mitchell. This was the first time I actually heard the lyrics clearly. James Taylor sings very clear; I can always understand what he sings unlike other musicians. As he strummed his acoustic guitar he sang,
“We are Stardust
We are Golden
We are Million-year old Carbon
And we got to get ourselves
Back to the garden”
See it, here:

Wow! I heard this song so many times and never actually knew or maybe realized the power of the lyrics. To me, “We are stardust, golden, million-year old carbon”, meant that we all came from the universe. The phrases, “And we got to get ourselves back to the garden” meant to me from where we came, we were sent back.
We came from the universe and we end up, back to the garden, to the earth, to the universe.
This struck me profoundly.
It struck me hard because it is a complete, non-religious (perhaps) but spiritual way of thinking about mortality. No matter what, when it is all said and done, we go right back to where we started.
JFK mentioned it best. In a speech at the Americas Cup dinner in 1962 in Newport, RI, he said,
“It is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins, the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going to back from whence we came.”
The audio of the speech is here:

He said the same thing Joni Mitchell wrote in another form. “And we got to get ourselves. Back to the Garden.” —–“We are going back to whence we came.”
This is all relevant, I believe. To me this means that we are all here for a reason, we are stardust. We need to make the most of the time we have as we will all go back to the garden, back to the sea.
I am not quite the religious man, but I am very spiritual. I appreciate religious beliefs, but I am defined personally to my spiritual ones. I think the Native American Indians were on to something. The Camino to me was a complete spiritual experience. Still is. The gift that keeps giving.
I cannot finish my little post to you all without mentioning Phil. When I think of Phil many things come to mind. Humor, humility, humbleness, steadfast, leading. I think Phil has found himself in a reluctant leadership position with us. You know what they say about all of the great leaders…..it is that they never intended to be the leader, they were chosen. I am reminded of this with Pope Francis. I believe him to be not only a religious man, but I connect with him because to me he is also very spiritual. Also, I believe him to be a reluctant leader. Those are the best ones.
Oh yes, one last plug for the most important quality of them all I perceive, courage.
JFK greatly admired Ernest Hemingway. When he wrote “Profiles in Courage”, he reached out to Ernest Hemingway to ask permission to use what he had written in a one of his books.
JFK wrote in the beginning of his, “Profiles in Courage”, “This is a book about the most admirable of virtues—COURAGE. ‘Grace under pressure,’ Ernest Hemingway defined it.”
Courage. Grace under pressure. —The calm in the center of the storm…
When I return to the garden, or to the sea, I ask myself, what will matter the most. It will not be the material things, the money, the power and prestige. It will be the memories. The memories of family, friends, my veteran brother and sisters, co-workers, and even the “enemies.” The great talks and the long walks.
The Great Talks and the Long Walks.
Back to the Garden. Back to the Sea.
Garden and Sea loves—

A Flock Of Ducks

Keeping dry around the stove. (photo by Phil Volker)

Yesterday, just because, I bought a flock of ducks in the name of Caminoheads Blog. This was from the Heifer International website. I love Heifer. So a flock of ducks along with training will go out to some family somewhere out where it is needed. It was only $20 and that seemed like all I could afford after concluding my Christmas shopping.

But none the less we know that we are rich in more ways than we can count. We know that we have been granted so much. Yes, I know we have worked hard, yes. But things have gone our way more often than not you have to admit.

So, I am challenging you to give $20 to your favorite charity in the name of Caminoheads Blog and tell us about it. What kind of things will you come up with? This is a chance to toot you favorite’s horn.

Let me tell you about how Heifer got started. I think that it was roughly 1947 when the brand new state of Israel was founded. The Israelis were in need of so much. Some folks hired a ship and put out the word for seagoing cowboys (?) and bought up a herd of young cows and they set off across the Atlantic from the States. I’m not sure but I don’t think anything had ever been done like that before, well since the Ark. And Heifer is still offering opportunities for twenty dollars on up, like ducks, goats, honeybees.

Several years ago I pooled all my Christmas funds and bought a whole water buffalo that we all gave together. A water buffalo can cost you $250. Sounds like a deal to me, a little more than the price of a latté.

Well, Friday here and we are in the middle of a massive rain storm. Good weather for ducks they say. Time for me to start serving our fleet of vehicles. I can do that in the dry.

ducky loves, Felipé.

“The Traffic Was Terrific”

Here is the pic of Karen. (photographer unknown)
This goes with yesterday’s post.

My commute was yesterday but this line from Perry Como Christmas song is stuck in my head. It was on the clock/radio this morning like Sonny and Cher’s song in Groundhog Day. Anyway battling with the traffic was yesterday with my trip to the Institute.

Yea, I had my scan early and hung around to get the intrepid interpretation from Nugget (Dr Gold). So, the good news is the situation remains stable. My little growies remain stunted and frustrated. Well, I really don’t know about the frustrated part and I don’t want that anyway. I want them happy with the situation and not thinking about striving for excellence. Yea, the Doc was happy so I am happy.

A little sad because my research nurse Kristina is moving to another department and I will miss her charming self. She gets me through this process with a minimum of wear and tear. But to my surprise the replacement is someone that I have worked with before and liked. David who has walked the Camino a couple of years ago will be with me, how perfect is that.

So life goes on, things are different but the same. Here at the ranch the Christmas tree is all set up. We are going with the table top model these last few years due to the lack of kids. And the manger scene is set up here on the coffee table. Henriette came in and spirited the Wise Men out of there and they are now over across the room on top of the turntable. I forgot, yes they don’t show up til the 6th of Janurary. OK, OK, minor point. She said something about Protestants under her breath. No, I made that up.

There were some nice comments for Karen from Caminoheads about her post yesterday. Make sure to read those. And thank you all for comments that you write. I have always welcomed and appreciated them as they help bring all this to life.

OK, off walking in a few minutes. There is a break in the rain til noontime today when some major wet will hit. I spent some money yesterday getting some supplies to beef up my two pop up shelters against the storm.

Time to go loves, Felipé.

Karen Our Caminoheads Bureau Chief

Somehow I could get Karen’s pic here so I am bringing you something almost as good. (photo by Phil Volker)

Hola Caminos!

It has been a difficult day today. My scan unfortunately showed that my cancer is back. I had a strong inkling it was from my blood results a week ago. It’s in a couple of lymph nodes.

However Dr Tan doesn’t want to treat as I have no symptoms. In fact I feel more well than I have in months! So it’s watch and wait. Next scan in March.

It’s a strange feeling to know it’s back and to be receiving less treatment than ever. Less medical treatment that is…. I can walk. I can pray. I can do mindfulness practise. I can live…

After the appointment, I walked into Maggies (the support centres for cancer in the uk). To my astonishment I found a group of people talking about the Camino. I found myself a respected elder talking about places, accommodation, routes. It felt like the best treatment ever. Talking put me back in my joy-in-Spain… the walking, the folks I met, the Beauty. Ahhhh

Pouring out Camino salve onto my sad heart.


Life In The Clouds

Young corn plants, end of May last year. (photo by Phil Volker)

A rather foggy early morning here at Raven Ranch. Just like that I hear a raven calling, right on cue, like they are reading this over my shoulder. There has been a lot of bird activity around the trail with the feeders full and the hawthorn berries ready. Everybody that should be here is here. Well no, I haven’t seen any waxwings yet though.

Henriette is coming this afternoon to talk and walk. I made corn salad for her which it is one of her favorites. There is lots of frozen corn to be had close by and it will be served up whenever possible. And corn salad is one of my favorite ways.

I am thinking about the corn for the coming season. I need to make some changes and try some new things there. Farmer John had some ideas for me when he was here last year about crop rotation. And I want to try planting New Zealand White clover with the corn to act as a green mulch and help suppress weed growth. Striving for a better way.

There are just a few more days of darkness before the 21st or 22nd whenever the solstice is. But it always takes me at least a week after that for me to start to notice a change in the length of the day. But then it really starts to be an evident and important thing. Next the late winter flowers will be strutting their stuff. And that is the start of it all.

One of the items on my list for today is to find our manger scene and get it set up. OK, I can do that.

setting up the manger loves, Felipé.

Here It Is, Monday

Beautiful pic of Annie with Padre Tomas at Veranda time, August 2019. (photographer unknown)

The Story of General Patton’s Prayer sent in to us by our Padre Tomas:

“Many stories of heroism, devotion to duty, and faith have come out of the Battle of the Bulge that was fought 75 years ago this month. One of the most enduring of these stories is of Patton’s prayer.

In December 1944 the Allies, while sure to win the War in Europe against Germany, were in trouble. The Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, the longest engagement ever fought by the U.S. Army, was still raging and the Allies’ advance to Germany was proceeding extremely slowly due to bad weather and stretched supply lines.

The German Army, for the first time since Frederick the Great, launched a major winter offensive. In Germany, the battle was called the Ardennes Counteroffensive but it became popularly known as the Battle of the Bulge and the goal was to split the Western Allied armies so that they would sue for a separate peace with Germany. The Germans were initially successful in the counterattack and the Allies were hampered by poor weather even before the offensive began.

To combat the cold weather Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Commander of the Third United States Army, called in Third Army Chaplain Msgr. Francis O’Neill. Patton told Chaplain O’Neill to compose a prayer for fair weather for battle. In an hour, Chaplain O’Neill completed a tough theological task and came up with a Biblically appropriate prayer to match the General’s request. The prayer read:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

Patton loved the prayer and had it distributed as the first portion of a two part Christmas greeting that he had sent to the Third Army. The second, Christmas message read:
“To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.
G.S. Patton, Jr. Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.”

Not long after the prayer was written and distributed, the Third Army began to pray in greater intensity. The weather began to get better and, the day after Christmas, Patton’s Army reached the famed 101st Airborne Division whom had been surrounded and valiantly defending the city of Bastogne, Belgium. While still more battles were to be fought, the Germany offensive was on its way to defeat.

The prayer of the Third Army, commissioned by General Patton, is a strong reminder of the power of prayer and also shows the boldness of an Army seeking God’s assistance in battle; not for vengeance but to establish His justice among men and nations. It is hard to imagine that such a prayer would not be quashed in the present day; not by the enemy on the field of battle, but rather crushed by the forces of political correctness.

Such leaders as General Patton, while often rocking the boat, are important in any organization especially one as resistant to change, and in need of prayer, as our beloved Army. As MSGR James O’Neill, who composed Patton’s Prayer, said about the General, “He had all the traits of military leadership, fortified by genuine trust in God, intense love of country, and high faith In the American soldier. He had no use for half-measures.”

There is much to be gained from Patton’s Prayer and may his message from 75 years ago this month continue to be a guide for United States forces throughout the world, this Christmas season and always, to victory.”

OK, back to the seriousness of our week. Time to do your duty and all that. Ooh, Wednesday is my scan at the Institute. Yike, I need to get all my tumors rounded up and off to the barber shop for haircuts. And maybe I will pick up a bunch of matching bow ties. That group can look so straglely left to their own devices. I have to have them all standing at attention and looking sharp for Dr Gold’s inspection.

But that is Wednesday, a ways away. Today we are aware that we are still in the darkness waiting patiently for a few more days for the solstice. As the morning dawns here right now the gray overcast has a strange pink glow to it. There must be a flaming sunrise that we just can’t see directly. Those two things sound strangely parallel. We know that important things are happening but we can’t see them plainly.

My Rebecca is up to answer the call of substitute teaching. The school secretary just called looking for last minute help. Ah, Monday morning during cold season, here we are.

Mary Margaret, my old pilgrimage buddy, commented on the recent post We Go On. She had a good friend die of cancer and the post spoke to her when she needed it. Just so glad to be of service here at the IPad. But we do go on and that is important.

Walking in a few minutes. The trail remains dry and easily walked. The feeders need constant filling is the main theme these days. We must be attracting birds and critters from miles around.

Time to get my Monday started and off the ground. Stuff to do galore.

alperfect as always loves, Felipé.

Blessing The Baby

Heart’s Oratorio by Mary Oaks. (photo by Phil Volker)

I just, I just fatfingered my unfinished post into oblivion. Yea, just like that, where did it go? If we could figure out the answer to that we could probably make a bunch of bucks hey? Rewriting is such a exercise in patience. Part of my problem is that I am trying to write this while watching the Seahawks game. Now waiting for halftime to take another run at it.

Ah there, halftime, I’m not much of a multitasker I guess. But what I wanted to tell you about was that this morning was the blessing of the Baby Jesus. Well, that Baby Jesus that is in your manger scene in your living room or perhaps if you are really gung ho your front lawn. Pretty sweet little ceremony.

As usual I am a day late and a dollar short on this. I have yet to wade into the attic to find our manger setup. But I am determined to make that happen.

Speaking of Christmas, just yesterday received a present of a signed copy of Heart’s Oratorio from author Mary Oak. She was here walking last Tuesday. I am getting some real winners to fatten up my winter reading pile. Think I told you about this book the other day. I will include a pic of the cover.

So, we have a walk and tapas later today. Come by when you have had enough football or cookie making. And no rain this afternoon, promise.

bless the baby loves, Felipé.

We Go On

William going on.
(photo by one of his party)

I almost didn’t go to my Bible Guys class today as I wasn’t feeling my best. But that would have been a mistake. It is always worthwhile to hang out with my guys. And today was a special meeting with the two Vashon classes consolidated to hear our overall leader Art Kopicky who came in from the mainland.

He came on his own initiative to help us with our grief with David our departed member. It was totally necessary and welcomed in the vacuum that has been left by David’s exit. What came out of the confab to me was the need to intentionally fill that void. To do it in a manner that strengthens the group and it’s members and that more fully covers our needs in our time ahead.

Group dynamic stuff in action. I know that doesn’t concern all of you but it was a big deal with me lately and you might find yourself in a similar situation. Deaths change things and as we get older we are somehow more aware of this. We need to navigate through this without having it get us down.

Well, enough of that but we do know about going on. That is what we do, we go on, we find a way to go on. If there is no way we create a way. And if that doesn’t work we pretend that we are going on, trusting that God will fill in the blanks.

Yes, pilgrims go on loves, Felipé.

Almost The Weekend

Terry Hershey’s latest. ( photo by Phil Volker)

In Downton Abbey the old grandmother had a great question that summed up the whole series for me. The occasion was some sort of uprising by the staff when they were advocating for a weekend off and she asked, “What’s a weekend?” But we know what a weekend is, not that it is as important as it once was before working on computers and flextime and all that revolution.

I went to church last night for the celebration of the Feast of the Lady of Guadalupe. It was rather subdued compared to celebrations other years but sweet none the less. I do enjoy the Mexican families and this is one of their big events.

Back to Caminoheads news, someone asked about the dates for the 2020 Veranda celebration. Let me put those down here and they are August 21-24th. Some folks have already included themselves. Cris from Buenos Aires is in and also Steve Watkins and possibly Dana Watkins from Arkansas. And I plan on being there. So, that is all a great start!

But we have a lot of living in the present to do before August. Speaking of which, author and speaker Terry Hershey was here to spend the evening. He has a new book out which he kindly left a copy for us. It is entitled This is the Life – Mindfulness, Finding Grace and the Power of the Present Moment. Yea, I am just in it a few pages as of the moment but will talk about as I go.

I am really late on this post today. I had some problem with the new computer earlier but Catherine helped me straighten that out. I am pretty darn helpless on my own with technology but that is what friends are for.

OK, time for dinner with My Rebecca. Keep going, it is worth the effort.

dinner time loves, Felipé.