Sunday, October 8, 2017

Serious aMusings

I haven't thought about Grandma Laura for a long time.I don't even recall what reached down into the deep well of memory and pulled it up in pieces. At first it was just that a lady used to call our landline,(which was the only phone we had at the time, most likely), and ask for her grandson by name.
"No, you have the wrong number."
"He gave me this number..."
"No, no one here by that name."

Present time:
I am thinking what was the grandson's name...what was her name...

The phone rang again.I was probably juggling my kids and their friends, and/or the dog was barking, and I rush to call Isabel inside as our crazy back neighbor has complained, and threatened, and been a general asshole about it.Not one to back down from a confrontation, I had gotten in his face about it, but quickly realized I was dealing with the Mayor of Dangerous Crazytown, and now I fear for the life of my sweet dog, Isabel, who probably is trying to warn us that the mayor lives behind us.

My daughter has answered the phone and hung up.
"Who was that?"

Present time:
It is coming back to me now.His name was...

"Is this Richard's house?"
"No, you have the wrong number."
"When will he be home?"
I am getting irritated now. There is quarreling in the other room.
A little stronger now."You have the wrong number!"
"Well, tell him his Grandma Laura called."
There is a crash.
I hang up.

A few days later, again.
I was relatively nice, for me.We compare phone numbers.
464-7950. "Yes, that is the number you have reached, but there is no one by that name here."
"Richard(fill in the blank name)?" 
"No, Richard doesn't live here!"
I still don't remember what the last name was.We have the same conversation a few more times on a few more days.She calls in the evening. There are phone messages on the answering machine. "Richard, this is your Grandma Laura."and then there is some family news that she imparts.We talk about it at dinner, and play it for my husband.

The kids get her again too. daughter sets the phone down..."Maaawm...It's Grandma Laura!''

I believe I start out with civility, but now it is funny, and I laugh. She is further confused and says that this is the number he gave her, yada yada...

She is Relentless, that Grandma Laura.

Probably, I was a little shitty at some point.(safe bet) I remember this in snippets.Now, I know she is old and confused and I have been mostly patient, but she is so sure that Richard gave her 464-7950.It doesn't seem to sink in that she has to be wrong,even though I spelled it out to her and even though Richard is probably gay and doesn't have a wife and children.And if he did, she would be a very nice girl, not like me, who is a little flawed.

Finally, I have the time and presence of mind to ask his last name and what city he lives in and I look it up in the phone book...(how archaic-, a landline,an answering machine, a phone book)
Ok, mystery solved. Richard's number is 464-7590(truth is it was one number off, but for the sake of the story, 7590).I get his answering machine, and mind you, this is after several of Grandma Laura's messages on our machine.

"Lookit Richard, you don't know me but, for the love of gawd, would you call Grandma Laura??She is driving us fucking crazy!"

My memory is spotty these days.Even though I have a calendar on my cell phone that gives me alerts the night before, and still forget shit. Sometimes, I am driving, and I forget where I am going. Seriously. Sometimes my car exits on Park Avenue, even though I no longer live in that home I lived in for 23 years with the batshit crazy neighbor who Capitola PD has on file, a rambling letter he wrote, threatening to shoot our dogs. Ah, the good ole days...
I forget to get another quote on car insurance and, dang, I gotta do that tomorrow.I forget where I put my glasses. I leave my credit card in the chip machine, even though it is beeping at me.And, I know! 

I know why I remembered this distant and fond memory of Grandma Laura! Cuz I was driving somewhere and forgot where I was going, and I think I am getting senile, and, ya know, I don't have any grandchildren yet but when I do, I don't want them to call me Grandma. That is for old people. I have, going on 4 now, grand nieces and nephews...and I want them, and my future grandchildren,Knock on wood and spit, puhooey! I want them to call me Yetta, like on the sitcom, The Nanny.

Which reminds me of a story my friend Eric told me about his Mom, who made him drive to the Goyum neighborhood so she could superstitiously spit on their lawn for some reason...that was a funny story, I wish I could remember that...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hang on to your Personal Items!

I feel like I am floating.
Not the euphoric kind of levity, but a reluctant but intelligent form of self preservation that accepts that this, this is where I am, because...(taps chin)there must be some reason...( brain, what's left of it, whirls)because , ah! I get it!, this IS where I am!Attaching a reason seems to be a waste of hard won energy.

I am back at the place where my stuff is (avoiding the word Home)after a lovely, once I got there, trip to visit and honor my niece who is about to give birth to her first child.

We flew on a newer airline,a no frills, and by that I mean, you get a seat with seatbelt, and we eventually got to our destination. 

Oakland to Denver, via Las Vegas.Denver to LA To Oakland.
As Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida, sheering the caribbean down to the ankles,air travel is up-ended on this side of the country, and we were perched on the runway, like swimmers on their mark, for an hour and a half,( running off to pee and then assuming the position again) while 25 planes plunged up into the air before us.

Being a no frills situation, this airline charges for everything. For half the price of other airlines, you get to your destination, roughly in the same calendar day, you get strapped into a seat. If you want to bring luggage,you may as well just cough up the dough for a normal airline that serves water at no charge and allows one carry-on.I don't know why they have flight attendants cuz we really are on our own, and virtually nobody takes the opportunity to buy the Pringles for a 5 dollar bill.They could save so much money by cutting the flight attendants to only one Dale Carnigie Speed Talker.

As usual, when I travel, there are the self imposed hurdles.It must be a written-on-my-dance-card-of-life rule that for each day of the journey, there will be some test of patience, some absurd happening, either of my own making, or of collective inconvenience that tests ones integrity or character.

1. Previously communicated wait on tarmac is rewarded by stale crackers and a glass of water, gratis.Hang on to your personal item!

2.The standard loud kid noises and annoying kicking of your seat from inconsiderate fellow passenger behind you.

3.My daughter had to drive because, although I renewed my drivers license and took a hideous picture complete with a new weight and arrows designating the extra chin that I swear I do not have, I left the accompanying paperwork on the side table in my postage stamp cottage, at the place where my stuff is.My car rental guy was not going to rent to me without proof of a currently valid drivers license.Here is where I thought about staging a big protest, but remembered that I am floating in a sea of acceptance of what is.
Om shanti shanti om.

4.General chaos of deplaning while 163 people each take their sweet ass time getting their shit from the overhead bin, while the person behind me who was jabbing gawdknowswhat into the small of my back sweetly thanks someone for helping her find her glasses.

This time,once we actually got to my nieces home it was all a pleasant visit, only slightly tinged with the worry we all had for her father who was boarded up in his home in Tampa, awaiting Irma.

But on our way home, it started to stir up again.No gas station near the car rental place, om shanti shanti om...Paid 7 dollars a gallon upon return. Daughter sailed through security but the TSA guy questioned the validity of my expired drivers license,the no shoe removal line made an exception of this is really nothing. Layover at LAX includes the slapping down of halfway decent food but 5 minutes of requests for utensils intensifies the hunger.A wave of sadness descends upon me as all through the trip I cannot seem to use the word Home.When you are waiting half the day to get there, you realize you do not have a home anymore,no one to take care of, no one concerned with you,really;you float.

5.While you wait 3 fucking hours at LAX, people watching, the girl across from you is a bit too heavy to wear the short dress she sports and you can't decide whether to gently point out that she is revealing more than she intends.You are momentarily saved by the cross of her legs as she Facetimes loudly with what you presume is her father whom she refers to as Poppy, but then the view up the backside of the leg is also unadvisable but a step down on the oops-o-meter. Your responsibility is downgraded to averting the eyes.

6.The entire staff of this airline apparently holds a certificate in the Dale Carnegie course in speed talking...Ladiesandgentleman, weaskthat hdhhwebf fghmuflegupplemughd youfasten yiaihfcnandjhdcnccghnble...whctnlkegnkvgh...axhsuinrn..cehnuiweri...thankyouforchoosin Spirhdut airlineswerealizeyou fhifachoice.Welcometothelosangelusarya.Flightattendantsprepare forlanding crosscheck.
If there was any useful information there, like "assume the crash position",you are shit outta luck.As we waited, not-so-patiently for what seemed like weeks, the gatekeeper announced that it was last call for minneapolis/stpaul like 5 times (not good practice for parenting as in "johnny, I am giving you one last chance to come to the table or I will put you to bed with no dinner")
Would passengerjohnnyrottenpleasecometo gate 54A immediately,jhjhfuhhighsih.. the doorswillclose in 30 minutes and will not openapainforanyreason.Like 5 damn times.You notice stuff like this when you are miserable. I assume he meant 30 seconds but he said 30 minutes which would lead JohnnyRotten to believe he could order another beer with a shot, watch the rest of the game, and saunter over in 20 minutes.
After Minneapolis/StPaul was gone, we had the good fortune to be treated to the same young man's expertise while he explained the repercussions of having a carryon bag that does not fit into the size guidelines and what kind of exhorbidant fee one will incur, akin to the turning over the first born child. He also added in a monotone, jdndghpodfv hdfhdghpersonaalitem and the guidelines for a personal item means it should fit between your legs in front of you. 
Let me get this straight. Your one allowed "personal item" should fit between your legs. No. He didn't just say that. He meant that the one backpack or briefcase or purse should fit underneath the seat in front of you, surely.
Um, actually, me and the ill fitting dress girl lock eyes and I say, "omg, did he just..."and she gives an incredulous look and shakes her head...and then he says it again that your PERSONAL ITEM should fit between your legs! This is not lost on several people, as they perk up and twitter to their traveling companion, and a few men involuntarily body check their junk.

I am reflecting on the unconscious nature of this whole country, on the new Miss America from North Dakota who brilliantly denounced the poor excuse for a president's exit from the Paris Agreement. I have people I love in my family(from North Dakota) that I dare not communicate with(voted for him)for fear of completely losing my shit.
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Wildfires, no, there is no climate change, no abuse of the land, seas, racism, sexism, this is...wait, how did I jump over here? Just me, floating in a general sea of the incredulous state of the world...

At least Miss America has her crown on straight.

My floating is minimal compared to Tampa,Miami and the Caribbean.I am dry and warm, and I have my friends closeby. I can't forget to check on my son in his new life in DC, incase the storms head that way.

Uh oh.
Here comes Jose.

But also, here comes my new grand nephew, yay! and already arrived recently, my new grand nice, Nori.yay!

And my personal item is stored neatly between my legs, at the ready,no charge!
Om shanti shanti om.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Mountain

The next birthday is chasing me down.I don't feel my interpretation of 60,let alone 61. I still am shocked when I look closely in the mirror, and note the wear and tear, as I see myself at about 40 in my mind.I am trying to choose to be optimistic in the face of my evolving life and person.I, like most, I presume, prefer comfort and the illusion of solid ground.I remember once, standing grounded in Mountain pose, and my yoga teacher saying that while we stand solid and grounded, the breeze blows and the little rocks shift and tumble and change is always happening, sometimes subtly (is that a word?), and sometimes Mt. Saint Helen's erupts, the top third of what was is gone and what was solid and predictable is rearranged. My rocks continue to shift.
But here are the great things about the time my life:(several moments of silence)
1.Your ovaries do not feel like they have fucking bricks on them every month.
2. (I am working on it, don't rush me.)
well, when I talk to younger women who still are waiting for some undeserving-of-their-consideration man to look in their direction, I am thankful to have this wisdom to share: don't ever try to talk someone into loving you, and fergawdsake, don't mold yourself into something you are not!
3.I have finally arrived confidently at the idea that whatever is meant for me in this life will manifest when I need it, and more importantly, when I allow it. 
4. No more tedious kid birthday parties to host. Now, there are adult beverages involved.
5.Bullshit meter is more reliable with age.
6.Shameless use of tweezers at red lights.
I will expand on this more later but I got shit to do.After all, not getting any younger...

Monday, May 29, 2017

What's Banana Bread got to do with it?

In my family, food is important. Thankfully there was always enough of it and so we expanded its importance to quality, and quantity. My Mom was a great cook.Everyone thought so.She made the best grape leaves, (Dolmas to a lot of the world),the best cabbage rolls, the best fatayah ( stuffed triangles of beef pies), and the best boysenberry pie from the vines my father grew in the back yard.And cinnamon rolls. Every saturday morning when we were kids.
Thanksgiving was hers. She rocked it every year. My Aunt Freda claimed it one year, much to Mom's chagrin.So when the obligatory fruit salad was omitted, it was noticed,"Where's the fruit salad??".Mom was stickin' it to her sister.Freda never lived that one down.We heard about it for years, and in fact, it definitely became her mantra every November 25th, as she recounted the inferior talents of her sister's culinary abilities.Even after Freda was gone.In addition, on that historical Thanksgiving, my Aunt exclaimed, "It takes 3 days to make it and 3 minutes to eat it!",which was also frowned upon, and the conclusion, for Mom, was that no one could out perform her. 
Now, every Thanksgiving, someone always repeats "Where's the fruit salad?" and Mom shakes her head up there in the great kitchen in the sky.

Another sacred thing was her Banana bread. It was sublime.All the grandchildren loved Grandma's Banana bread, and she always had one or two loaves with her when she came to visit. It has a special ingredient and again, everybody, Everybody loves Dolores's Banana bread.

Now, I have come a long way with my personal, shall, we say, weensy little anger feelings toward the wasband. I will not rant on that, but let's just say I have good reason to resent the cavalier way he pulled the rug from under my life.
I am ok,I do not want to wake up next to him for the rest of my days. I laugh and talk with him about our extended family and and we share a lot of the same world view points. I met his girlfriend, she seems nice. All is good. We are getting our long overdue divorce.

But the other day, he shot me a text that said, Hey, could you email  me your Mom's Banana bread recipe? A co-worker wants it.

I was thrown.I am not even clear why it was so offensive to me.Something along the lines of he thinking he has any kind of rights to the inner circle of my culinary domain. He left.(well, I asked him to leave because he was driving me crazy.)We had an agreement, a contract. Better or worse. 25 years, 31 if you count the separation.I suppose I could justify my feelings by writing a list of his offenses, but I am trying really hard to save that for the book, and many of you readers who are friends already know.If I was 33, it might have been easier, but well, whatever.I am not 33. (see title of blog)Life is daunting, bleek even, at times. Thank you,Walter.( not his real name, but one someone mistakenly called him once and I don't like to let it go, just like Mom couldn't let go of the fruit salad incident).

I responded swiftly, "Nope! and your (air quotes)co-worker?, I don't think so.You have taken my home, my whole way of life, and No, you cannot have the banana bread recipe." When he walked out that door, he not only lost me, but he lost the banana bread rights. 
But ever since, I have been a bit regretful that I was so swift with the biting reaction. I could have ignored it and just never responded, I could have given an inferior and flawed recipe, I could have tried to  gently relay why I decline, or even made up a story of why I don't have it. Come to think of it,it is probably in some obscure box in my storage unit and I would be hard pressed to find it.

In my family, you don't fuck with the sacred food, You are blessed with it, and his rights to Banana Bread are terminated.It may not make sense to him and for sure he thinks I am petty; maybe I am, but that is just one line I must draw.I will have to meditate on why, what's the deeper metaphor. My heart is guarded, and banana bread is just not gonna happen in his world anymore.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nine Days Later, the camino Camino

These little feet have covered a lot of ground in 6 weeks, and  about 9 days ago now, hung up my non breathing Camino boots, took a train back to Barcelona and wrapped up that amazing adventure, with a whirlwind Gaudi scramble and visit to the Dali Museum in Figueres.

Sangria load up, stopover Stockholm,stumbling into the home and arms of good friends,I find myself still fighting jet lag in a little studio that feels far from home, with all my most essential crap in it.

As I drove through familiar streets, yesterday, doing mindless errands,I pondered my good fortune juxtaposed against my lack of purpose in life. I passed a woman with a sign that said "Need Food and Water" and I had neither with me at the moment.Nice to see the person in the car ahead of me was able to provide it. I need to get a purpose pretty quick here.I need a dresser for my clothes.I need to figure out how to register for class now that it has been determined that my password no longer works. I have food and water handled. But new shoes that breathe and just the remnants of blisters turned callouses, I wish I was back on the Camino.

Universe: I need a purpose now. Thank you.
It is very painful without one.

Um, I think that THIS IS my Camino folks.My therapist sister says you do your work with whomever is in front of you, and I think it is probably true that you walk your camino on whatever path you find yourself on.

The rewards are still trickling in. 
Memory: I am standing in the middle of nowhere, feeling a breeze and vastly alone. It is a vineyard, just the wood, no leaves yet, no grapes, and no yellow arrow or camino shell marker. I could continue forward, or go right or left. Right or left look like some sort of access road for the vineyard, but I stand there,still. Water would be good. I have to swing my pack off to get to it. From the stressful book I read"I'm Off Then", by Hans SomethingErOther, he learned to ask the universe for what he needed, food, lodging, a reason to go on....and so I asked for similar things along the way. Mostly it was direction. Give me an arrow, a shell, a pilgrim more sure that I am...
Just the breeze, the beauty of where I stood.I was going to have to go on the logic that the last indicator I had directed me forward.Swinging my pack back up, I hitch the lower strap into place, and as I look down to do so, at my burning, blistered feet, amongst the monochromatic rocky path, is a GIANT fucking arrow, made of rocks, pointing forward. My pack had been resting on it.
Thank you.Thank you fellow pilgrim who had the same question I did.I am not alone.I am not blind, apparently,I just had to have a different approach, a sort of braille-like way... My pack dropped on the bloody arrow. I hobble on.

Later, in my comfy, quiet room,legs propped up the wall, heat rash a-blazing, I pondered options.(covered previously).
Essentially, I am in that same metaphoric place, here in my new"home" for lack of a better word. Struggling. The only option is forward.It is a very nice place to rest, but I am feeling every bit of virtual lost.I have food and water.And Shelter.
But it is never as simplistic as it may look.
I'm Off Then.
Heading to the college computer center for help, and ya gotta get your roots done...swing by and pick up that dresser. 
I have traded in those non breathing hiking boots for breathable, and clocked in about 8 miles on them.

Next Camino, I will have those babies broken in.Until then, it is the camino Camino. I keep asking for direction and it is faint, it is here somewhere, I just need to be still enough to see it.Or feel it.

Direction, Purpose...and thank you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


The long journey back from Villafranca del Bierzo through Astorga and back to Barcelona was a good call.I was relieved of my virtual confinement to my room with a tiny window view, although charming, was way too much alone time.And the heat rash was a  factor, adding a fairly significant anxiety level.So to take the long train ride was at least visually distracting and afforded me time off the blisters which you just cannot get around. 
I slept for 4 hours long the way,I wrote in my journal, which up until then, was just a record of where I stayed and some inspirational quotes that are useful.
I had a few, shall we say, interesting distractions that I used to observe my assessments of people, people who are irritating, and how I handle that irritation.All an extension of the inner Camino which I actually still feel like I am on to a certain extent, without having to walk up a mountain on painful water filled pockets of skin.
For sure, there is a well of self criticism and disappointment about ending the walking camino, but I try to observe that as an interesting insight and I've  assigned myself the accolades I would bestow any other person.It is a moment by moment,day by day, step by step thing. There has been great value in what I have done in this month long endeavor.I am sure I will continue to have insights as a result, but here is a little excerpt from my journal while on the train:

Two people in the seats in front of me are eating sunflower seeds in rapid fire succession and I would like them to STOP please.
This is my new habit of asking the Universe for what I need and want. It worked pretty well on the Camino. That, and practicing conscious gratitude.
I am slightly more tolerant of the lady in front of me, because earlier, two older Austrian or perhaps German guys( I make it up that they were a couple)boarded the train with us and were taking selfies before they even sat down and chatting loudly. I mean, nonstop; the chattiest one did not even take a breath.Because I was seated behind them, I was not pleased to be documented in their journey.I should have scowled or made faces for them to discover later. I was literally holding myself back from leaning in and asking"Do you plan to talk all the fucking way to Barcelona?"
I mean what could one have to possibly say that could not be interspersed throughout the day.Must every thought be given voice?
If I understood the language it would have been worse but it landed as a droning, and I kept expecting...surely he will let the other guy respond in some way. I tried to make it background noise but once you are this deep into annoyance, it is hard to zen-out about it.But back to the Spanish lady.Every once in a while we would exchange an eye roll, so we are practically girlfriends.She had gotten up to sit with her daughter and sees that I have now moved my seat behind her, she looks in askance. I think she owned this seat I moved to, and I ask her, she says no, and I say," I just couldn't stand it anymore". Austrian chatter continues at break neck speed, and she makes her two hands yak and smiles, shakes her head in agreement.We are one in our judgement and sarcasm;like I said, we are girlfriends. 
She and her son have thankfully stopped with the sunflower seeds, and I don't have to break up with her.
( The Austrian couple get off the train and all is right with the world again).

My insights dwell in the arena of when you are not being served in some way, it is ok not to suffer, whether it be walking uphill on blisters (possibly risking infection), or listening to incessant irritation. Remove yourself, choose again, take care of yourself, and subsequently other peoples well beings as well.

I have concluded, after speaking to other hikers, that my waterproof boots were a kind of detriment as they also did not breathe.The second proof of that is while off my feet on the train, my feet were hot and burning and I wasn't even using them, pounding away on hot pavement or a rocky path.Now that I feel better, and can stroll around Barcelona, I am a bit wistful about bagging it.It was a really really unconventional thing for me to take on, and it quickly showed me my limitations and lack of experience. I have lost my momentum, but I would do it again with training and better planning.
At this point, I am still processing the impact. Since my life path has shifted, it seems like doing things differently, giving myself a new perspective, experiences, skills, are much more appropriate and really, you get a different result when you change your approach.
I am not sorry I did it and it was probably perfect, but that value might be more fully known at some point in the future. But today, I can only do what I can do.Until I can do something else...I think it is Nelson Mandela that said "It is always impossible until it is done".It may have been a 5 day actual feet-on experience but getting here was a huge endeavor for me.I had to imagine myself as a new possibility to even get there. I may have mentioned that I read a book about the Camino while I was in Italy, that began my deep set reluctance, turning into a full blown sanity questioning endeavour. The thing that freaked me out the most was a leg of the journey where he walks up a mountain road, Spanish trucks whizzing by with only about 3 feet distance between him and them, and a fast running river on the other side...upon my return to civilization, I referenced that part of the book, and guess what?
That would have been the next leg of the camino for me. No coincidence, I am sure.

On a lighter note, I had an awesome time riding the train to Figueres today and seeing the Salvador Dali museum there.

"The only difference between me and a mad man is that I am not mad".
salvador dali
He was one out there guy for his time.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Tomorrow is Another Day

Spain does not eat dinner at 5 or 6, they serve it up at 8:30 or 9.I am a tolerant person of other cultures and am not saying that it's wrong but you really shouldn't go to bed with that kind of full stomach.
In other words...wrong.
I am too beat up to venture out at 9 pm and struggle with the language and menus and misunderstandings.  This is not the big city and I find that they don't always have an English translation.So, today,inferior breakfast,the last of the pistachio nuts mid day. Water. I rarely miss a meal so you know I am down for the count.

The Good News:
I haven't forgotten anything in 48 hours.
The Not So GoodNews:
Six blisters.

My feet feel like they are on fire. I sweardagawd I got fitted at REI and they were fitting well, bought a size bigger to accommodate swelling and double socks. I was assured I was set. Tonight, after very good foot care and a shower, in addition to the six, I believe there is a red hot spot about the size of a football field that is threatening # seven. So. I won't be walking tomorrow. At this writing, I can't decide whether to take a bus up to O'Cebreiro, and hope I can walk down that mountain, or a bus back to where there is other transportation. I suppose I could stay here one more day. I feel undecided and a little lost.

I really love the countryside and moving up and around and through the scenery. I like meeting different people, like John, from Dublin and his amusing take on Spain. People walking the Camino are warm and open and I find that in my self too. I see things about myself. Like I am a little superstitious.I usually wait to be invited into an interaction and so I am working on that. I see that I judge myself harshly. I should go farther, I should pay attention, I should ask people about themselves.Why didn't I bring a tweezer fercrissake, what woman does not come prepared to yank chin hairs? 

I thought I should keep moving tonight and so, all bandaged up and clean, I went in search of food. It was 7:30 and to kill some time I respond to the church bells and think this will be an interesting experience in Catholicsm. Sure enough, I used the time to try and pick up a little Espanol and maybe ask , Could you lighten up on the blisters?? I did my usual light the candles and overpay. It was actually quite nice and they had a pilgrim blessing at the beginning, which I scored. It did get a bit tedious but I enjoyed the music. The little old lady next to me kept taking an inch of my space each time we stood up so I tried to beat her to the butt landing but she had the advantage. And it was chilly. I beat it out of there in the flurry of communion, and went in search of berries and nuts in the park, with no luck but I enjoyed an amazing display of pale pink peonies. I did have to strain a bit  to see them as,at this point, the "dogs were barking" and I had to do a belly crawl,dragging my bloody feet/dogs to safety.ok, the blood part isn't really true and dang! I probably shouldn't have ruined my good standing and so here is my confession: I didn't really do that, I said it to illustrate my desparate podiatry situation.
I was reading about Villafranca del Bierzo in my Camino book and it see here that they dub it Little Santiago and,on account of an illness or accident, a pilgrim can walk through a gate only if it is a holy year, confess your sins, go to church and pray and you get a Jubilee which I guess is a Pass Go and collect 200$, and you don't have hit Santiago to be in good standing as pilgrims go.
I'll have to work on sins: 
Ok once in awhile I might have helped myself to a cloth napkin in a restaurant  so I could cut it up in a quilt.Haven't harmed anyone in recent memory. I wish good things for my Wasband.
No, I am struggling here.
Ok, I am not very patient, I can be bossy, but I am working on that. I don't panic around spiders and usually use an envelope to get them outside. Unless they try to get in my bed and then they are toast. 
I was tired when someone at the spa in Italy asked me what I did for a living and I said I was a writer.That was kind of harmless, and a half truth...just no one is paying me for it. If you wanna help out with that I do accept donations or dinners out.

Oh, why did I have to be reminded of  dinner.
I saw a sign tonight Santiago 200 miles. I figure I have walked 15,13,10 and today 8... around 46?miles in four days. Doing the math and with the blister factor I may  just hit Madrid by train and get back to Barcelona for a decent meal and call it done ,with or without a Camino certificate.

Just for fun, I will leave my walking sticks somewhere.
But Domani e una altra giornata...bad Italian for Tomorrow 's another day.