Some Things I Have Seen and Heard

Look at that tight little stern!

Oh, getting such a slow start this morning and morning is almost over. Had a great conversation with Marc and Ivette, dear friends from LA. At one point Ivette said, “You have to be where your feet are.” And I asked her to explain her comment as I had never heard that before. She explained by saying you can’t let your head run away with you. It means that you have to be calm and be present. Yes, yes! Just what we have been talking about lately. I hear you loud and clear!

New York, New York.

Yesterday I put up a post on FaceBook with a pic of a little boy with a pilots helmet on and saying Mommy when I grow up I want to be a pilot. And Mom answers Oh Sweetie, you can’t do both. I was trying to get the attention of Ken a new friend of mine and an old friend of our beloved Pilgrim Farmer John. Ken is a long time Naval aviator and longtime practitioner of military banter as is PFJ. I am an rank amateur and you have to be careful playing with these guys. Ken fires back, “Life is too short to grow up!”. Ball’s in my court.

The Welcome Lady!

Yesterday My Rebecca took some bananas to a friend that was home bound and craving them. Then our old neighborhood buddies brought us a quart of homemade turkey vegetable soup for our supper. All kinds of connections are being made despite the present crazy conditions. Keep it up!

Nice as can be.

Saint James Is Afoot loves, Felipé.

Here We Are!

The USS Comfort coming into NYC.
(photo stolen from FaceBook)

Here we are sandwiched between the Comfort on the East Coast and the Mercy on the West. The US Navy has arrived with assets. I am so proud of them it just about makes me want to reup! They must need a few Marines on board to put down mutinies and guard the narcotics.

I am going to be looking for the flag holder on our Deere.
(photo stolen from Face Book)

Well, I think that we are transitioning from the beginning of this epidemic to the middle phase. We have gone through the denials, the cavalier and the small scale moves. We now stare in full scale realization of the immensity of this problem. It is as formidable as things come, as in Biblical, as in the extremes of nightmares.

The bad news is we were caught so flat footed. We may come up with excuses but it is all moot now. We now stare at mind numbing calculations, statistics and models of the probabilities. Those of us that are lucky enough to be healthy enough to do that, that is. We now see this thing in it’s full blown maturity. This is the beginning of the middle.

The good news is there is always OPPORTUNITY (thank you Cris) for every one of us. We must get to the point of seeing that, all of us. This is a NOW situation. We must accept the RESPONSIBILITY for doing our individual parts whatever that looks like. We individually need to GET IN GEAR. This is the PROGRAM. This is what the middle looks like, the time when we do the HEAVY LIFTING that needs doing. We as individuals have the POWER to INFLUENCE the outcome. WELCOME to the Middle.

we need to find our superpower loves, Felipé.

Thinking About The Mercy And The Comfort

The USNS Comfort in drydock, 2017.
(photo off FaceBook)

I hope that hundred of thousands of years from now archeologists come upon one of our US Navy’s hospital ships lovingly preserved in the mud. It would make headlines or their equivalent! The population will marvel at the size and the complexity of the vessel. It will speak of a long lost people that cared and provided in times of need.

How old are those ships? I wonder if my own father was aboard one getting patched up during the battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945.
Possible maybe. We can only imagine the lift that would give the injured first glimpsing such beauty after too long in hell on earth. Not trying to be melodramatic but I have no other words handy.

It is a great focus for me thinking about these ships right now. I am so grateful that they sailed into my life during this present bad boy of an ordeal. And that is precisely a good start to have a focus, a place to build on in this time of uncertainty. This time when fact and rumor mix in our heads making a dangerous cocktail.

Keep focused people on what ever does it for you. Be calm and strong. That is the zone, stay there as much as possible. Pass it on to others. Maybe it is contagious!

And thank you for responding so well to my post yesterday. I am so grateful for comments and atta boys. Jessika’s, callsign Secret Agent, said it well: “Thanks for talking about the elephant and ten hyenas in the room.” You are welcome.

Time to gear up for rosary walk with Catherine. Will be praying for you and yours for good healthy and wellbeing.

Onward loves, Felipé.

Hey, It’s Saturday!

Pay attention!
(photo from Hawaii by W Hayes)

When you were a kid Saturday was the greatest thing ever. Time to build forts, play in the snow, to scream and yell. School is out! What a change to the present situation for most of us who don’t know what day it is anymore.

But my Saturday morning is marked by my trusty bible class so I know what day it is! To keep up with the Joneses we have been meeting on Zoom which is working well. Of course we look forward to the day when we can shake hands and hug and carry on like we know how.

Yesterday we had the historic first Zoom meeting for Caminoheads Bureau Chiefs. We had eight of us on three continents. We missed William who was off on some mission but we were mostly there. And it was super fun and we carried on for two hours before it was done. What a crew we have. What a huge grab bag of talent we can bring to the table.

Cris CSABC instigated this confab to keep our communications going in the present situation and to find the opportunities that this situation holds. Where most people see problems she sees opportunities, her superpower! So, we are coming together over that sensibility to probe and explore. What is there that we can accomplish or add to the conversation given our trusty pilgrim know how and unique tool bag of our combined life experiences and training. This is something like a combination of the Magnificent Seven and the Dirty Dozen with a little True Grit thrown in.

So we had this first meeting really to start working together. This technology is perfect for us at this time. That’s what amazes me, just when we need it it is here for us. So, I will have more news as we get up and running.

Now, I would like to say something that is appropriate to the present. I and many of us are seriously in the target zone of this virus, it has me and most of us in it’s crosshairs. And I am not saying this to be a doom and gloom guy or because I am giving up in any way. It is just that if there is one thing that I have learned from my Cancer it is that death is not the final defeat. Generally folks who “battle” Cancer reach a point where they run out of options or energy or inspiration and they as a result feel like their upcoming death is a defeat, that they have failed. They feel they did something wrong or they didn’t try hard enough or they didn’t take someone’s advice or they didn’t pray hard enough or they weren’t worthy. There are a thousand things to substitute in there.

But, it is not a defeat as we all will die at some point only God knows the time and reason. The ultimate defeat is to have been so wrapped up in this fear and fight that we fail to live. That we aren’t present to the world around us, our loved ones, our mission, our neighborhood. A thousand things to substitute there. Do you see that? That is the ultimate tragedy.

So, at this time, this crucial time, let me say that I or a few of us may not make it through this tidal wave. In a few months we could be fewer. Do not grieve. Do not panic. Do not negotiate with negativity. Trust God, your best self and your pilgrim buddies. Do not worry unnecessarily. You/we have incredible assets. The ultimate defeat is not to die but would be not to live when it is our chance. Be present!

heavy duty loves, Felipé.

Friday With Ryck

Our buddy Ryck, Caminoheads Puget Sound Bureau Chief.
(photo from R Tompson)

March 2020,

Burgess Merideth/Rod Serling, and the need for human touch.

Man, what a year, eh? Aren’t we all appreciative right now for having already hiked the Camino? I am very sad about those that were just getting started on their pilgrimage. I feel for the albergue owners, the country of Spain, America, the world. Truth be told, I support strong borders, however, I realize that borders and nationalism cannot stop a human problem. I went to the grocery store today. I looked at the hand sanitizer isle, gone. All gone. I could not help but think that it was unnecessary. Is it really better to make sure we are all blanketed with certain benefits, simply from being a human? Not getting political here, rather, trying to figure out the human construct.
In one way, very much so, I am realizing, forcefully, how the concept of world community is essential. What else could be presented to us for to not realize that everyone is connected in some way shape or form.
I have been thinking of the Second World War. A common enemy. A need to be efficient, living within our means. Resolve. This is the same feeling I had when 9/11 happened. I think we all feel that right about now. The difference being that the enemy is one for all humans, there is seriously no bias.
What do we truly value? Truly. It is human life, is the rest of what we value a means to an end?
The age of the internet and social media seemed to have brought about the bi-product of social distancing in itself. Ironically, when social distancing is now being enforced, it really is the opposite that I personally crave. I never realized how much I actually craved human interaction, the non-digital type. I never realized how much I value the feeling of human touch, to hug someone, to shake their hand, to see them eye to eye. For so long now, I desired the exact opposite. When I retired form the U.S. Navy, Submarine Force, the last thing I wanted was close social interaction. Trust me, I had enough of that…So I left everything, everyone, and I walked my Camino in Spain. I so much needed that alone time. As much as I tried, however, in Spain, the more I tried to distance myself from others and be alone, the more I feel they were attracted to talk to me. Perhaps it was my actual aura. Maybe it was the fact that they just craved the social connection; the human aspect of life. I did capitulate, numerous times, and I am glad I did.
I ended up meeting some of the best people in my entire life. I realized as I walked from small town to town in Spain, how much the Spanish loved the close, personal, family type of environment. You know, when you walked through each town, there was a sort of Piazza? A VERANDA:))…An open square where people just seemed to want to be next to each other, to have that human contact. The one thing I did not want when I initially arrived in Spain was the exact thing I crave right now. We cannot put a price on life. We cannot put a price tag on the human, social aspect of life. As much as sometimes I want to be a complete hermit in a cabin somewhere, prepped to the gills, (Now I am NOT talking Unabomber type…) or on a lone sailboat, endlessly sailing around the world, with my own version of “Wilson” from Castaway on the aft end of my boat next to me, by the till….I know deep down, what I will always crave is the human interaction. The good ones.
We cannot put a price on human touch.

There is a “Twilight Zone” episode with Burgess Meredith. It is the one titled, “Time Enough at Last”. It is about a man that wished nothing more than to be left alone from the noise of the world so he could read all of the books he could get his hands on. Then he gets his wish through horrible circumstance. When he finally got what he wanted, his glasses broke, and he could no longer have what he wanted. He then craved, the human interaction of others…Poor Burgess Meredith….Thank you, Rod Serling.


A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That

Chainsaw statue of Cool Gary by Gene Amondsen, Vashon, Washington, USA.
(photo Linda Thwaite Peterson)

Let me explain the pic above. This is Cool Gary, an Island character that grew up here and passed on early in his life. He is remembered in this rugged chainsaw carving which is along the Vashon Highway just south of Vashon town. It was done by Gene Amondsen another Island character who was a pastor, artist and part time abolitionist. He is unfortunately no longer with us either. Anyway, there is Gary with his chainsaw and some kind person has winterized him with a warm hat and scarf. There is a little wood elf at his feet. Reminds me of the usual statue of St Francis with the ever present birds and rabbit.

Catalina is going to love this. She will undoubtedly see to it that I get some sort of recognition in the art history world! And as usual there is always some symbols of what is going on in the world around us. Two summers ago there were some huge road projects on the a island and Gary sported a hardhat for that. You can see the color coordinated masks that protect them now giving us a reminder out of the corner of of eye to be safe as we cruise by. One day I was driving by and an owl was perched on his head and I said how clever of someone to put that there but it flew away.

Also in the news Cris, CSABC, and myself had a big powwow on Zoom yesterday in preparation for our big worldwide conference on Friday with all of our Bureau Chiefs. This is a first. We will compare notes on the situation. The goal is to come up with some sort of appropriate and robust crisis response to life as we presently know it. More on this later.

So, be safe, carry on and praise God loves, Felipé.

Finger Bowls

Visible progress with our firewood project.
(photo P Volker)

Last evening I was so exhausted after wrestling with firewood most of the day. My Rebecca had made dinner, potato pancakes and an omelette.
With the extra time that we seem to have these days we may fuss with leftovers to create something interesting instead of chucking stuff in the microwave for a quickie warmup. And we had some pears that came from the food bank that needing eating up. I picked through them in the fruit bowl with the bananas and avocados and found the two most ripe. She sat at the dinner table and peeled them and cut them up for our dessert. I mixed them with a little honey yogurt. Then of course her fingers were all sticky from the juicy fruit. I said something like you need a finger bowl. Now, I don’t tend to pamper people, never fixed anyone breakfast in bed for instance maybe because I have never really been pampered myself. And it took me a moment to say yes I could do that, to bring a little bowl of warm water to the table. And I did that for My Rebecca. Well, yes I could use a little atta boy but really I want to say that maybe in these unusual times we have some space to fuss with things, fuss with ourselves and for others close by.

A couple of days ago I was writing about dreams saying that I think due to our unusual circumstances we are entering a period of intense dreaming. I can feel this because I tend to have dreams in periods of transition or doubt. We seem to crave guidance and I think that we will get it. All we have to do is pay attention. Remember paying attention? They are other words for being present. Right now I am sensing that the Universe is fussing over us and we need to pay attention and benefit from it.

Here at Phil’s Camino I have the prayer machine cranked up to full capacity beaming out rosary pleadings with maximum wattage. Each lap that I walk of the terrain is one lap around the rosary beads. Simple, easy peasy. I contemplate the Four Great Mysteries as I walk, contemplate suffering and death, contemplate redemption. I am fussing over God I guess.

pay attention loves, Felipé.

We Are All Challenged

Stacking and stacking and stacking.
(photo P Volker)

Everyone is in figuring-it-out mode these days. How do we make this happen for ourselves, our family, our neighborhood and the world. That is a lot of entities to keep happy. We feel stretched this way and that.

As regards our neighborhood Caminoheads is putting together a Coronavirus Response. Cris our pilgrim in Buenos Aires is heading up this effort to come up with some way to help out now and in the future. We are having a worldwide confab this Friday with hopefully all the Bureau Chiefs attending a Zoom conference. This is very exciting stuff.

I went on a foray into one of the supermarkets this morning early. They were open an hour early for us the compromised folks. Folks were taking advantage of that. Again we are adapting.

Here is some exciting news Edie Littlefield Sundby was featured in an article in This Day magazine, I think that is a Catholic publication. She is terrific. Walked the El Camino Real, the Mission Trail through the Baha and California in spite of serious health issues. Editors are looking for uplifting stories for their readership at this time of crisis.

On the same topic the editor of award winning Northwest Catholic Magazine, Kevin Birnbaum, contacted me and wants to do another article on me/us, an update for their readers. They ran the the original article in March 2015. This publication goes out to something like a
hundred thousand families in the region. Pilgrim Farmer John originally heard of us through that 2015 article when it was forwarded to him in the Heartland by friends. So what kind of major league character are we going to attract this time you might ask?

Well, off to split wood. See you all tomorrow.

uplifting loves, Felipé.

They’re Pilgrims, They Will Figure It Out

Thanks for joining me on our walks over the years now!
(photo P Volker)

Hi gang! I just did my walk for Monday morning, 0900-1000. The trail is closed to the public but I walk on the regular schedule:

Monday 0900-1000
Tuesday 1600-1700
Thursday 0900-1000
Sunday 1600-1700

You can’t walk here but if you could walk where you are at some of those days and times that would be powerful. I am saying the rosary on each lap to pray for our rockpile. You can pray for our rockpile too. In a way it is a miniature of the whole world with it’s woes and joys.
I try and keep my flitting mind focused on our rockpile as much as possible. I/We are praying for our pilgrim community and broadly for the planet.

Last year at about this time plans were starting to be made for the 2019 Veranda. There were a lot of concerns but what made the whole management process easier was my firm belief that the folks coming were pilgrims and “they will figure it out”. In other words the meeting place did not have to be overly engineered. Keep it simple and sort of do-it-yourself. Not only will we figure it out but that is what we love to do. Just basically give us an empty space and a four day weekend and some wine and firewood and we will have a ball!

Beside physical knowhow we have spiritual, emotional and mental knowhow. I’m not just BS’ing you here. This is what I see. I see a group of very resilient people. And this is exactly what we need right now in this crisis. We are so prepared in a certain way, please realize that. Pilgrim Strong as Steve Watkins coined. Here we are.

We will be putting our heads together in the coming weeks and months to make an effort at a contribution to solving some of our troubles. We have talent and incredible communications and we have time now. Do you see what I am talking about? Cris shows us that everything bothersome has opportunity in it, that’s it exactly.

OK, I have energy work with Janet. Prayers for Janet for current health issues. We are going to work on our healing together.

putting our heads together loves, Felipé.

PS – St James is Afoot (SJA is back)

Dreaming Again

Putting together next year’s heating fuel. Making hay while the old sun shines.
(photo P Volker)

Yea, I wrote about my piggie dream yesterday. I hope you liked it. I’m always a little shy about talking about my dreams but I think I am getting over that. But other folks have been reporting on dreams too. Catalina in Berkeley told of one about the melding of Phil’s Camino with the Camino de Santiago. Catherine was here this morning to say the rosary with me, at a distance of course. She was saying that she had two major “spiritual” dreams that she was going email me. I’m saying it that way because all dreams may be spiritual, maybe.

But it may be important that we are having this uptick of dream activity. Maybe we are more comfortable about talking about it or maybe we are more prone, I don’t know. But maybe we can keep an eye on it. Maybe this is important. We know that dreams are important.

Also people are learning how to get together in new ways. My Bible Guys had a Zoom session yesterday morning which went very well for our first. At this moment My Rebecca is “at” her church service as she is sitting in our living room via some platform. And yesterday Cris our CSABC proposed figuring out how to have a Bureau Chiefs get together soon. She said that she could engineer it.

Here we are practicing the old tried and true Marine Corps motto, “Improvise, adapt, overcome!” We have assets, we have smarts. We have been trough hard times before. The sun shines, the soil warms, plants sprout, the deer are out in the woods having babies. We just need to remember to smile and keep our heads.

Please keep in touch. We will be here, you be there!

overcoming loves, Felipé.