Friday, 31 December 2010

Back Home

We got back home on Wednesday afternoon.  The drive back was OK - apart from one hold up caused by a horrendous crash involving at least four cars.  I can only hope that everyone involved  survived it.  There were ambulances, a fire engine, and bits of a car and luggage scattered all over.  A nightmare.

As we drove south, it got foggier and foggier, and we arrived here to find the Channel had disappeared into a thick sea mist.

It was strangely quiet with no cat/cats on the bed.   Col became convinced at one point during our stay in Sheffield that there were three cats in the room (officially there are only two).  However by the morning we were back to our usual one (Miss Scooter herself).  She was still with her tail.  They have signed The Wardrobe Pact, and have formed an uneasy alliance.

I felt a bit flat, but it was wonderful to get to the meeting last night and to find Maggie back again, so she and I could be in our usual seats.  And Col has a dig on Sunday so hopefully we will be back in our routines in no time.   What is still lovely (after two plus years of retirement) is not having to go back to the working 9 to 5 routine as we always used to after our holidays.

I am making a start on replying to all who sent Christmas cards and letters - greatly helped by the fact that Captain B's 2011 butterfly cards have arrived - and lovely they are.  He ordered a set of postcards too.

People sometimes say that they will believe in a Creator if he shows them a miracle.  But we are surrounded by miracles.  Think: caterpillar turning into chrysalis turning into butterfly - just for a start.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Scooter, enraged with her tail

I was putting clothes back in the wardrobe in the guest bedroom yesterday afternoon when there was a fierce low growling from the bed.  When I looked round I saw an angry Scooter facing up to her tail.  It was annoying her by lashing about in her face and she was growling at it.

The tail failed to take the hint and lashed about even faster.

It was turning into a Harry Hill situation.   I like Scooter.  And I like her tail.   But which is best?

There is only one way to find out.   F I G H T !!!

So, before the mother of all civil wars broke out, I tiptoed quietly out of the room.

Monday, 27 December 2010

The Day of the Walking Sticks

Jen, Kathryn and Jo came for lunch at the bungalow.  All three were on walking sticks - and we had quite a confusion on leaving as to whose stick was whose.

How did this happen to us all?

It snowed this morning, but it looks like there might be a bit of a thaw tomorrow.   The Lilac Tree Farm branch of the family are coming over here for lunch, weather permitting.  We are hoping to have a turkey curry cooked by Ken.

I have discovered my "A Few Green Leaves" by Barbara Pym in the Sheffield branch of the family travelling library and am enjoying reading it again.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Encounter - and Ollie - and moments in time

Ollie is taking time out on his walk through the snowy park to pose prettily - and the moment has been caught by Captain B's camera.

I think this is an appropriate time of year for another poem - this one by a Polish poet.


by Czeslaw Milosz
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

                                                         Wilno, 1936
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee 

I love the "red wing" of the Winter sunrise. 

A poem is another way of  preserving a moment before it gets lost in time.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

North to Alaska

Well, as far as Sheffield as any rate.  We drove up Thursday - no problems at all, although there is a lot of snow about.   I took Maggie to the post office on Tuesday to get all her calendars posted and some last minute shopping done.  Poor Jacks has come down with a terrible cold in time for Christmas.
Col and I went into Derbyshire yesterday. It was so beautiful - snow, freezing cold, blue sky, wonderful sunset - see the photos on his blog.   Big family and friends dinner in process, must now go and help in kitchen.

Monday, 20 December 2010

A snow free oasis?

There is still some snow lying on the ground - and the sky was dark and ominous this morning, but now the sun is starting to come through.  Travel seems to be chaotic in most of the country though, according to the News, so going up North looks more and more unlikely.
Captain Treasure Hunter drove off into the snowy wilds of Hampshire yesterday on a dig, and I hitched the huskies to the sledge and mushed them up to the Kingdom Hall.  Only then did I notice that the pavements there (away from the sea front) were coated with ice.
Now ice is one of the 'terrors in the way' spoken of in Ecclesiastes, in its haunting poetic evocation of the process of getting old and dying.   At least it is for me.  Loved ice when I was a child - and we tried to make it even slippier by making slides (shudder) - but nowadays I am so afraid of falling and breaking something.
I wouldn't have made it up the ice-coated slope to the Kingdom Hall if a gallant young brother hadn't come down to help me.  And then I saw another bro coming to the rescue with shovelfuls of grit. I am very grateful to them both.
And I am so glad I made it - wonderful talk, wonderful Watchtower article, all about the love and respect we owe each other.  The teaching gets better and better and better.
Jackie came to dinner, looking very well and rested after her Channel Island holiday.   We had a roast chicken dinner, with the Captain's help.  He carved and organised the chicken and its trimmings onto the plates while I made the gravy.  For pudding we had a plum crumble I had made earlier, as they say on cookery programmes.
We will probably have a walk on the beach at some stage today - and maybe a twirl or two with Maurice.  I wonder, will the Beeb come and film our rehearsal diary?
Anyway, its 9 a.m., the Channel is a dull (as opposed to glowing) turquoise, and its not snowing - yet.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Spanish dancers

We walked on the beach again yesterday afternoon and the Western wind was icy.  Col clicked and dug for ring pulls, while it seemed that I danced with Maurice. 

What a great Latino dancer that mussel is!   He is not so great on the hip work, as he doesn't actually have any hips, but castanets -  Wow!!

In the morning, when the sun came out,  Col drove us through the icy slush and we did a big shop and also went over to Maggie's, so I could take her  'Examining the Scriptures Daily' and the Calender for 2011, which is rushing up fast.  We had a coffee and a chat in her lovely warm house.

Then the Final of Strictly.   Pamela and James were the first voted off - which was upsetting (especially for the Captain), but we thought that Kara and Artem were worthy winners - she so graceful and him such a brilliant choreographer (as well as dancer).

I hope Maurice can choreograph. 

The James and Pamela showdance was best though (in my opinion).   And I still long for the showdance that could have been - the Ann and Anton showdance - and the judges comments that would have followed.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Maurice the Mussel dances (possibly)

Wonderful weather this morning - one minute there are snow flurries from a dark and ominous sky, then the sun pushes through and the Channel lights up turquoise and blue and gold.  I am not out on the preaching work this morning as with my driving experience having been mainly in The Middle East, I am not used to driving on ice and don't feel safe doing so.

Its been a busy few days with medical appointments and things.  And a lovely lovely meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night.  Quite a few empty chairs though as many of us are sick.

We got the remaining calendars posted, plus the lens for Dan and Gabi, and my letter to Chuck and Mary in Texas.

We had a walk on the beach yesterday.  It was freezing, but sunny, and very beautiful.   The tide was coming back - but there was still an acreage of firm flat sand to walk on - and Col took a strange fish photo.   It should turn up on the Captain's Log sometime today.

A large codfish had washed up and had been picked clean by the seabirds.  I have never known them bother with dead fish before. The gulls round here prefer their fish hot, battered and with chips, and hang round The Street of the Thousand Fish and Chip Shops when they are hungry.

I wondered what had happened to the codfish out at sea that it had died.   And I also wondered if fish die of old age or if something else always happens first.

Once again, I seemed to hear a little clammy voice greeting me - very warmly.  Maurice thinks my new haircut is simply wonderful.   Apparently he is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing too!   And is looking forward to the Final tonight as we are.   We both think that James and Pamela have a very good chance.

I wonder if Maurice and I could enter next year!?   Stranger things have happened.

I think he is just the one to whirl me round his head like a piece of fairy thistledown in a sparkly pink frock.  He is, after all, all mussel.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ice - and hearts with chips of ice in them

If only I had gone to the beach today who knows what compliments I might have garnered from the charming Maurice?  But I went to the shops instead.  It was so cold. There was ice inside my car.  I have never known that before.   I have not done my studies yet, oh dear.  But i have replied to Chuck and Mary's letter, plus I posted the butterfly calendar to the Bavarian branch of the family, and one to Rob and Judy in Northumberland.  And of course made lunch and dinner for the two of us.
We watched a very powerful documentary by John Pilger on the telly last night about the current crusades in the Middle East.   There is a good review of it in The Guardian today.  
Whoever said: "The first casualty of war is truth" was not wrong.  And of course I was thinking all the way through it how important the Christian preaching work is and how I must must must improve.  Mick has promised me a shepherding call this weekend which is really good of him as I know how busy the elders are.
The documentary was heartbreaking, and it was hard to go to sleep after watching it.  

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Col is out on the balcony trying to see if he can see the Geminids - they are supposed to be very bright tonight, but the sky is still rather cloudy.  Its very cold out there.  It all reminds me of another Thomas Hardy poem... have i put it in my blog before I wonder...

In case I haven't, here it is.

The Comet at Yell'ham
by Thomas Hardy

It bends far over Yell'ham Plain,
   And we, from Yell'ham Height,
Stand and regard its fiery train,
   So soon to swim from sight.

It will return long years hence, when
   As now its strange swift shine
Will fall on Yell'ham; but not then
   On that sweet form of thine.

What a short time we have to see the beauty and the glory of the world.   And here is the comfort of the Christian message.   It assures us that those who saw that comet will be re-created from 'the ground of dust' and will see it again - only all will be as it should be when they wake up from the sleep of death.  There will be no more wars, no more hatred, and nature will no longer be 'red in tooth and claw'.

Col has just seen a fox, and has rushed out to photograph it. But no meteor shower as yet.

I worked with Jenny this morning. We found quite a lot of people in and placed some copies of the tract about Jesus.  This time of year, with him continually pictured as a helpless baby in a crib, can be a great distraction from what he is doing now.  He is the Rider on the White Horse of the Book of Revelation - riding out to complete his conquest.

Louise has asked me to work with her Thursday afternoon, and i have a dental appointment on Thursday and a doctors appointment on Wednesday.  I just hope we aren't all snowed in instead - the weather forecasts are getting more alarming and it is certainly cold tonight.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Gone Swimming

Although when we got there we found that the swimming pool had gone - closed for 3 weeks for maintenance or some such.  Apparently there have been notices up about it but I don't wear my glasses when at the pool.  Captain B was determined we should get our swim so we went to the next town along the coast and swum there.

Freezing cold day.

Its the Geminid meteor shower tonight but too cloudy here to see them.

I posted Audrey's letter and shopped. talked to Audrey on the phone, and did my studying.  Hope to be out on the field service tomorrow morning.  

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The two Ronnies

I was out with Ron and Ronald on the field service this morning. Most of our group is away on the London Bethel Museum Tour (which I hope the Captain and I will do one day - Bible prophecy brought to life), and, with the permission of El Capitano, we met here.   Ron decided he would take us on his calls, so we had a lovely morning out.  We also called - me with young Ronald - on the lady whose partner I mistook for her son on my last visit!  She was out, which was possibly a good thing.  It will give her more time to get over it.

If I get the chance I will have to explain that it was nothing personal.  I am slightly Aspergery and have very poor face recognition.  I was in a pub in Sheffield some years ago and I said to my husband: "That young man at the bar is talking to me just as if he knew me."   "He probably is" he said dryly, "given that he has been your brother for the last thirty years."

Oh to have a perfectly working brain.  In the meantime, I have to console myself with the thought that none of us children of Adam has that, but, if we put faith in our Creator, we can hope to be perfect in the future.

Otherwise a quiet day - shopping, cooking, housework.

And we watched the semi-finals of Strictly.   We hope that Matt and Pamela will be in the final.

I hope retirement will go on being as lovely as this.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Ice on the windscreen

When I came out of the meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night, I found my front and back windows iced up and requiring the spray.  That ice was not there when I parked the car, so I thought we would wake up to a white world.  However, its been cold and damp today, not frosty.

Went out on return visits with Louise yesterday  afternoon.  It was difficult driving into the low sun, but the light was beautiful.  We only found one person at home, but at least we tried.

It can take a lot of time to find people at home again and sometimes it seems you never do.  I have been looking for one lady for over 2 years now...  we had a long talk about the Lord's prayer - IF I am remembering it right (my remaining brain cells are kept at full stretch trying to remember my own name these days) - and I think I asked her the question that I was asked, all those years ago.

What is she praying for when she asks for God's Kingdom to come?

I popped over to Audrey's for a cup of tea and a chat this morning.

Oh and I got a lovely card from Sharron, one of my sisters, that lifted my heart, especially given that she took the time to write it, with all she is going through at the moment.

The news, showing the rising anger outside is frightening.   There are riots in London, and pictures of Prince Charles and Camilla being attacked.  It must be a terrifying thing to be surrounded by the mob.

Its not that I don't understand  why people are angry.  I do indeed.  And I am so grateful that Ruby and Wilhellmina called at my door with their Bibles and Watchtower magazines all those years ago.

The Christian congregation is a true refuge.

There is a strange new tactic for dealing with rioters now, called 'kettling'.  It definitely does not involve being given a nice hot cup of tea though.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Bright Morning Star

A wonderful winter sunrise over the Channel this morning.   The sun is burning away just below the horizon, sending up a clear red glow, sharply delineating the edge of the Channel, which is a calm dark blue.  The sky has a small line of soft glowing colours as the red shades into the blue of the early hours.

The morning star is sparkling above it all, with a few tiny black clouds very low on the central horizon.  They are like punctuation marks, or musical notes in the song of morning.

And the red glow is reflecting along the beach in the pools left by the tide.

It is so easy to see the holiness of the world in the early morning. And I hope that somewhere along the South coast the beauty of this morning is causing someone to wonder about the Creator of it and begin to search for Him.

And I am thinking of those lovely words in Revelation, where Jesus says:

"I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star."

And also  this:

"Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts."  (2 Peter1:19)

Its a sunrise full of reassurance.   And a powerful reminder to pay attention to the prophetic word.  Otherwise we might lose hope.  But the dawn will come, and we will have our 'exquisite delight in the abundance of peace' right here on the earth.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Health issues

The Captain harnessed his team of butterflies to the sledge and off we flew to the hospital to see the Lung Lady. She was very nice and reassuring - my tests seems fine - and she doesn't want to see me again for another 6 months.  And there is no reason I shouldn't join the Aramco Shoal on Bandos Island next year.

A very cold day with frost on the ground. But sunny. And the drive was so lovely.  The low Winter sun on the empty trees, the blue sky, everything.  It made me wish I was a painter.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Winter Sunday in Retirement

I should have been in deepest darkest Surrey today but the weather has forced them to postpone our assembly. The elders obviously put in a lot of effort behind the scenes and we were able to have a meeting this morning, with Micah giving a very effective (and in my case guilt-making) talk.  And i was able to get the magazines and DVDs for Maggie so we popped round with them this afternoon, and had a cup of tea. She looks very well and is being good about resting her foot as she has been told to.
We had a walk on the beach this afternoon.  The tide was out - the sun was out - a big flock of seabirds were also out shining very white in the Winter sunshine.  It was beautiful, speaking so clearly of its Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.
Col metal detected a couple of modern coins and I got a wink from Maurice the Mussel as we walked by. (What a charmer he is - and Bea has emailed to say she agrees.)
Anne Skyped this morning with more Bible questions - I have emailed more info - and we hope to talk again on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I hope she will start to go back to the Kingdom Hall. She says she is thinking about it.
We lunched off the chicken from yesterday, plus the apple crumble (thanks to Sue for the windfall apples she brought to the group), and I used up the mushrooms to make a soup.
A lovely day.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Maurice the Mussel speaks!

It was a dark and stormy night last night, and we went to sleep in a white world, but  have woken up to a damp green world and a stormy Channel.  The tide is in and I am watching wonderful waves surging towards me.  The valiant dog walkers are out on the green as always.   I still find myself thinking how much Shadow would have loved being here.

We went for a walk on the beach.   Fantastic waves, with six brave surfers on them, and we were enclosed in mist with a watery sun coming through.    I was wandering about lost in thought while Col took loads of atmospheric photos - which should appear on his blog later - and also I had to return a lost ball to a dog - when suddenly I seemed to hear a tiny voice - with a very charming French accent.

"Hello young miss" it said, " I haven't seen you out with your father for a while."

"Oh Maurice" I said (for it was he), "I'm afraid you've made a mistake.  That isn't my father, its my husband!"

"No!" said the little clammy voice, with its charming accent.  "What a cradle snatcher!".

"Oh, indeed no," I said, all of a flutter, "In fact I am slightly older than he is."

"Impossible my dear.   I simply can't believe it."

I rushed off to tell Captain Butterfly that I had finally spoken to Maurice and what he had said.

"He shoulda gone to Specsavers", was his only comment, as he clicked away.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Thoughts of Chairman Couch Potato

Did I even have any thoughts today?   We were snowbound - and i have requested a picture for my blog to demonstrate - a photo of my poor snow covered car.  While Captain B flew around with his camera - early, while the snow was all fresh and new - I made a gigantic fruit cake.  And I have made our lunch and our tea and done some emails and studying and that is about it.  Louise and I had to cancel the field service.

We are supposed to be going to Haysbridge at the weekend for the two day Assembly - Ken doing the driving.  But we will have to see how the weather turns out. The Assembly Hall is out in the countryside, down winding country lanes, and would almost certainly have been ungettatable today.

Oh and i spoke to Jackie and Audrey and Paul (on the phone) and got a reply done to Kathryn's letter, which is not posted yet.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Five Students

Woke up on the first day of December to find a white world outside with more snow forecast today for the Downland.  This seems a good moment for the December poem, and once again I have decided on a Thomas Hardy favourite.   It might seem an odd choice at first, but not if you get to the end.

by Thomas Hardy

The sparrow dips in his wheel-rut bath,
The sun grows passionate-eyed,
And boils the dew to smoke by the paddock-path;
As strenuously we stride, -
Five of us; dark He, fair He, dark She, fair She, I,
All beating by.

The air is shaken, the high-road hot,
Shadowless swoons the day,
The greens are sobered and cattle at rest; but not
We on our urgent way, -
Four of us; fair She, dark She, fair He, I, are there,
But one--elsewhere.

Autumn moulds the hard fruit mellow,
And forward still we press
Through moors, briar-meshed plantations, clay-pits yellow,
As in the spring hours--yes,
Three of us: fair He, fair She, I, as heretofore,
But--fallen one more.

The leaf drops: earthworms draw it in
At night-time noiselessly,
The fingers of birch and beech are skeleton-thin,
And yet on the beat are we, -
Two of us; fair She, I. But no more left to go
The track we know.

Icicles tag the church-aisle leads,
The flag-rope gibbers hoarse,
The home-bound foot-folk wrap their snow-flaked heads,
Yet I still stalk the course, -
One of us . . . Dark and fair He, dark and fair She, gone:
The rest--anon.

Once you get into your sixties, its hard not to see the metaphor in the seasons - or do I mean 'of the seasons'?

But then I have to remember how quickly time goes and that soon it will be Spring again.  And that likewise, the time will come for the resurrection, when those who are sleeping in death will wake up again.   Their Creator, the God of Abraham, will call them from the dust and re-create, or resurrect, them.

My parents loved the beauty of the world - they used to let every vestige of the winter sunset leave the sky before they would draw the bungalow curtains - and I hope very much they will wake up to see it all again.

Perhaps they will wake up in the middle of a beautiful Autumn in the Paradise earth?

In the meantime I need to use my time as best I can, and enjoy the beauty of whatever season I am in.  I won't be able to go out today, but I still have some questions about Isaiah and Revelation that I can answer via email.  Thank you, Anne from The Cape!

And I have my studies - and more housework than you can shake a duster at.