Wednesday, 29 December 2010


I wrote an entire blog about Sunday´s after-church "Vermut" gathering, but somehow I blew it away into the ether. It was not meant to be. Instead of writing about a single, moonshine-flavored after-Christmas series of parties, I will write about an entire year. (I may post some of the party pics, just for hilarity´s sake.) (If /&&% Blogspot will allow more than one photo upload.)

When I look over 2010 at first it seems like a big tabulation of sad events. This year I lost a lot. Elyn and Gary, the only known Americans within 50 miles moved away in February to Girona. My cousin Micky died in March, at age 45.  Max the wife-beating rooster was iced in June. The August fiesta was marred by a fatal accident. Nabi dog was killed, and Una dog faded through October and then disappeared. My friend Juli suddenly was snatched away in November. (I am not saying human and animal losses are comparable -- but they are losses nevertheless.)

But compare that to the great things that came my way this year, and there´s no contest.

In January Una found two starving greyhounds, who became Nabi and Lulu. Tim was lost for a long afternoon, but he found his own way home. Murphy almost left us permanently in August after eating a  poisoned mouse, but the vet saved him (he is burning through those nine lives, however...)  We now have Rosey, another camino refugee, found this time by Kim.
We traveled long and far in 2010. We visited dear ones in London and Bournemouth, Pittsburgh and Ohio and Washington, DC. We spent three days in the mystical city of Avila. I visited Frank the Scotsman in Miraz, and rescued hospitaleras Leslie the Canadian and Sonomi the Japanese from terrible fates along the Caminos. I did an exhausting hospitalera gig in June in Navarre, and in August I went to Salamanca and Zamora and Potes with Miguel Angel. Kim was here with us for many weeks, and the Peaceable shimmered and glowed. She made it possible for me to walk this year, and walk very very far. I walked an entire Camino in the spring, from Roncesvalles to Santiago, via the Camino Invierno.  In September I walked the last bit of the Invierno again, with my dear friend Kathy and her sister. And in December I walked the Sarria-Santiago camino -- the most meaningful and lovely Camino yet. I´m a certified Walkin´Fool, and I hope to keep it up til my feet finally fail me, or the camino stops sending me kind souls like Kim who can help Patrick keep the Peaceable going when I´m out. (This  really is a two-person job.)

So many innovations this  year: the Italians showed up and started their Epic Albergue, next to Segundino´s carpentry shop, and a new 2-star hostel was begun on the other end of Moratinos. Paddy discovered several topical blogs on conservative Catholicism, and soon spawned his popular online persona "Toadspittle." We got new roof on the barn, a new PC, and new patio furniture -- Paddy served many al fresco meals out under the big blue umbrella in the fine weather. We got a bread machine from Holland, a slow-cooker from England, two new white hens from the Chicken Boutique, and a lovely and powerful telescope to feed my late-night stargazing habit.

The church got a new little Santiago image, the Confraternity of St. James in London got a new Camino Invierno Guide, and throughout the month of November I wrote a novel based on a true, 1,000-year-old story based in Sahagún. (No one´s "got" that yet!) We finally got a new induction hob in the kitchen, after wrangling with the repairman and warranty people for two years.

The other big positive weight on the scale is the people who came here this year.  Maybe not quite so many people as 2009, but very high quality people indeed: the Aussie girls of January; Grant Spangler from California; Roger and Ian from Peterborough Pilgrims; reporters from Norte de Castilla and Revista Peregrina; Malin and David and Brian, and then the Camino All-Star Weeks that brought luminaries like George Greenia and Frank Farrell, Mariann the Swiss and Sue Kenney and Tracy Saunders; Ignacio, Adam, Will, Peter, and René, musicians from the Camino Guitarras program; Jackie the Mastiff from Terradillos, and Rainer, the German guy who thinks he is Jesus Christ.

Real, certified (if not certifiable) religious people graced our summer: Verena the Zen Master from Austria, Father Amado the barefoot Filipino Redemptorist, Sisters Miriam and Maria Elizabeth, and Father Calvo from the diocesan art museum in Palencia. The Molloys, Mitch, Derek, Rafferty, Rom and Aideen, and Laura drew closer to our hearts.

Leo and Edu gave us shit, but only because we said our garden needed it.
Two Freds and a Patriç gave us the use of their skills and labors.
Kim gave us a Big Dog Party, and hours of invisible shimmering, videos, prayers, and a friendship with uncanny timing.
Juli gave me companionship, laughs, verb drills, and the best reason I ever found to walk a camino. Her mother Julia gave me acceptance I never imagined I´d ever feel as a foreigner in a tiny Castilian town. She understands about half of what I say, but she lets me rattle on... and she translates it into real Spanish for anyone else who´s trying to understand.

There´s not room here to tell you all the local people who´ve been kind, patient, or neighborly with us this year. We´ve been to their parties and funerals and pig-stickings and moonshine-samplings, and we´ve had them here, peering at our bodega roof and frozen water pipes and demonstrating how to carve up a pig´s leg and drink down many bottles of cosechero. We live in a fine community of fine people. They make our dream of life in Spain come true every single day, in some way or another.

The losses we suffered in 2010 only accentuate how fortunate we are to live in this place, with this great parade of characters going on around us. There are at least as many beginnings as endings, if you think about it. So more and more I use the year´s end as a Thanksgiving, too.

I leave tomorrow for Santiago de Compostela, where I plan to hang out a lot with Christine from Sweden, a new friend, and look through museums that I never had time for before, and attend a ceremonial Mass of Imposition of Medals for new members of the Archiconfradia del Apostol Santiago. I want to see fireworks over the big cathedral for the New Year.

And the old one, too. 2010 was, you know, an Año Santo. A holy year.



Anonymous said...

...and so indeed it was...

many passings, crossings, walkings and lots of true friendships...kindled and fostered at the Peaceable...

may peace prevail and we never get more than we can handle...


45N93W said...

Quite an intense year you had! For the sake of clarification, I hope Max was a real rooster, so there is no crime involved. But above all I hope you keep writing this fascinating blog of yours.

Happy 2011 to both of you!

Tino and Maria

Sil said...

A full life, Reb. I'll be thinking of you on the 30th in Santiago. Please give Christine a big hug from me - she is a special, special lady.
Hamba kahle (Buen camino in Zulu)

FrereRabit said...

Hi Reb, update on th timings... I'm freezing in Itero de la Vega at present, in a privae albergue with no heating and nothing working at all. (Microwave exploded while trying to warm up chicken soup.)

I'll finish my Camino as plannd in Moratinos, remembering Juli. I had a Mass said for her in Burgos on the morning I set off. If you´'re not back at Moratinos when I get there I will just walk on and get the train home from Sahagun. Enjoy Santiago.

Anonymous said...

Happy New year!Thanks for taking care of Björk. We miss you all! Enjoy Santiago AGAIN and ,gott nytt år! to your new swedish friend!We leave for Holland on New Years eve...and arrive the fourth to Peaceable.
Lots of love to all of you from Malin and David

JenMonster said...

Cheers to you and Paddy for truly living life to its fullest!