Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Beauty joined to energy

Here is my review of the Degas Exhibition at the R.A. that Col, Jacks and me went to on Monday:

There were not enough seats, and those that were supplied were not comfortable.  The Earl Grey tea was good and I loved the teapots - they looked nice and poured properly.

The paintings?

Here is a verse from a poem called "Museum Piece" by Richard Wilbur:

"See how she spins!  The grace is there,
But strain as well is plain to see.
Degas loved the two together:
Beauty joined to energy."

Yes.  Wonderful dancers. But he was interested in the body and the energy, the movement.  He didn't seem to be interested in the faces at all.  And I hadn't realised how fascinated he was by the new art of photography.  Exciting times.

There was a few seconds of  film showing an elderly Degas walking in a Paris (I suppose it was Paris?) street with a young girl.  Sitting there watching it was like getting into the Tardis for a moment.

So its an exhibition well worth seeing.

Audrey and I were out on the work this morning. We both placed literature and will need to call back.  Mick is going to help me with the possible Bible student, but not till next week. We are all so busy this week.

I had a bad night with an arthritis shoulder.

Col and I had a walk on the beach this afternoon. There was a strong wind, white water and foam flowers blowing everywhere.  Standing on the pier watching the immense sea surge up the river was fantastic.  Beauty joined to energy.

It was another lovely day in retirement.  I am grateful for every one of them.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

In which I become a Butterfly Bureaucrat

Jean and I were out on the door to door preaching work this morning. We covered our territory, without any response, and then did a couple of return visits.

Yesterday we (me and the Captain) met Linda in Cowfold and she handed over all her paperwork to me.  I am now a Butterfly Bureaucrat and must start to get to grips with all that the Membership Secretary has to do.

Its a bit of a puzzle at the moment.

Col has taken his wings off and put on his SUSSAR hat  and left early, with an extra large packed lunch, for a Mountain Bike Training day.

No I don't understand it either. All I know is there were four of them, I was asked to provide cakes, and made a batch of marmalade muffins for them all.

When we were in Expatland, I used to make a big tray of carrot cake to take on the dive boat.  I hardly bake these days.

Jackie gave us supper last night - an Italian dish, not lasagne, but the one without pasta whose name now escapes me - followed by hot mince pies.  We see her again Monday.

Today is grey with a coldish wind, and the Channel is blue grey outside the window - with long white waves curling and uncurling.

How did Jehovah create water?  It is so beautiful and powerful.   And when the earth is finally restored to Paradise and there are new things again, what amazing things will we see?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The last of the Nabbs Family

We got more sad news yesterday, as we heard that Aunt Deirdre has died.   I think Mr.Skimpole would have called her The Beauty Aunt.   All our aunts were and are beautiful by the way, but I think it is Deirdre that Mr.Skimpole would have given that particular designation to.

The photo is of the family at Nabbs, many years ago.  We are on the bottom lawn - the steps to the top lawn can be seen behind us.

Aunt Deirdre was the last of the Nabbs "grown-ups".

The Bible's warning that, at the moment, "death reigns as king over us", sounds louder every year.

How young we all were then, including the timeless aunts and uncles.  But how quickly the years have gone by.

Audrey and I were out on the work that morning, trying to tell people the good news of the incoming Kingdom of  God, and to reassure them that the dead will wake up from the sleep of death when the time comes.

We worked in an area with a lot of shops and, where possible, i.e. when the shops were not busy, we left little leaflets with the staff.

Its was a grey November day, which was appropriate.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Butterfly Business

Sonia Copeland Bloom
It was the Butterfly AGM yesterday - at the Cheltenham Racecourse.  Which is a splendid building with fantastic views.  It is not somewhere we would visit in the normal course of events as we do not involve ourselves with horse racing.

What can I say about it?  Well worth the visit - what a professional organisation Butterfly Conservation is.  The speaker from Marks and Sparks - Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business - was impressive, as you would expect.  The Treasurer's Report was both interesting and understandable.  (I am usually like Edwina in Ab Fab when it comes to discussing money matters, holding my head in my hands and sobbing "Just tell me how much money we've got!", as fiscal this&thats get discussed.  I have even sobbed over the phone to a girl at the Tax Office about filling in my Tax Forms: "You know more about my money than I do. Can't YOU fill it in?!")

Sonia Copeland Bloom (Orlando Bloom's mum) gave us a short talk on the series of children's book she is writing about insects.  She read an extract from her butterfly book: "Crystal, the Small Miracle".  It was wonderfully anthropomorphic, which as someone who has been a moth-er of several moth babies, I appreciate.   But she also researches so that the books are accurate and the children can learn happily from reading them.   I am so glad she used the word "miracle", as egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly is exactly that.  A miracle.

I joined the queue and got her to sign books for Eleanor Margaret and for Beth.

Neil joined us for lunch, which was baked potato with chile and salad.  Altogether a nice day out.

Today Captain B was off early with his Treasure Hunter hat on, and I was off to the meeting - then a few return visits - and then home.

It was such a beautiful Autumn day I only wish I could find the words to describe it.  As I was doing my return visits I was thinking that this is surely another glimpse of the Paradise the earth is going to be, and I was longing to tell people about it.

Friday, 18 November 2011

A misty November afternoon

We spent Tuesday afternoon at Cissbury Ring.  The sun was shining on the last of the Autumn colours, but it was also damp and chilly, and the horizons disappeared into soft mist.  Mushrooms and toadstools had sprung up everywhere - each one a miracle.  Wednesday was a housework day, with Col off on a butterfly work party.  I made a fish pie for him to come home to. Thursday I was out with Louise, but we found hardly any of our return visits at home.  I am hoping - hoping! - that we can start a doorstep Bible study with a very nice guy as we have had some interesting talks recently.  We will be flying North with the annual migration of the butterfly herds, as it is the Butterfly Conservation AGM this weekend.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Another lovely Autumn day...

... but with a hint of Winter, down here by the Channel.   The sea is fairly calm, the sun is shining, but it is quite cold.   Captain B is settling down again to real life after his dive holiday.  I swooped and flew and hovered round his luggage as he unpacked it in the hall Saturday night, until with an interesting rustle, a parcel wrapped in Maldivian newpaper appeared.  I carried it off to my lair on the kitchen table, and I now have a lovely clownfish coffee mug.
He is back at the helm of the coffee machine too.
Jacks came round on Sunday night to hear about his adventures and have supper (chicken and chick pea casserole and apple crumble).
Audrey and  went out this morning - return visits and route calls.  I was able to take the "Does God Really Care?" brochure to a lovely lady who had asked me the question as to why there is so much suffering if there is a God who is good and all-powerful.
Its a question I always used to ask, and I hope she will find the Biblical answer as wonderful as I did.  And do.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A cycling fish

Col just rang from Gatwick!

I don't know if anyone remembers that Womens Lib slogan: "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs A Bicycle".    Well, I think I must be a cycling fish, and will be very glad to have him safely back - and will spend the next 45 minutes trying not to worry about the drive back from the airport - in the dark.

Anyway, it was a busy day.  Out with June in Arundel this morning, working in a lovely close, on a beautiful Autumn day.  Just right for trying to tell people about the Creator of it all.   And this afternoon I had a sudden surge of energy - perhaps my detox helped - and went out for nearly two hours, and found two people I have been trying to find at home for months.

And I have a curry simmering away, as Jackie is coming for supper tomorrow.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The House of One Milk

Soon to become the house of two milks again - all being well - and Captain Butterfly arrives back safely from his Indian Ocean adventures.   The "real" milk is thawing out even as I type.  And I have made an apple crumble - his favourite pudding.

This morning I took Audrey to the shops and had a coffee with her afterwards.   She has some lovely Autumn toadstools on her lawn, and that got us thinking about when the earth is Paradise again. Will all fungi be edible?  Or will our brains be working so perfectly then that we will have no problem sorting the good mushrooms from the bad?

Either way, it would be wonderful to go mushrooming every Autumn.

Headlines today worrying about a "financial Armageddon".  There are hard times ahead - but it is on a darkest hour before the dawn basis, as we are trying to tell people as we go door to door.  

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

At your age

Something I am hearing more and more frequently as I trek from doctors surgery to hospital outpatients is this:
"At your age, you have to expect (whatever)".

"What are you talking about -and to a sprightly young thing like me!"  I mutter crossly to myself as I zimmer home.

Jehovah is called "the God of all comfort", and here was this wonderful thought from Him, via his congregation, in my "Examining the Scriptures Daily".  Food at the right time.

This is our Thought for Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

"The women telling the good news are a large army." - Psalm 68:11

"By having a full share in the ministry and by willingly making sacrifices for that work, sister prove that they treasure their role in the congregation.  In writing to Titus, Paul stated: "Let the aged women be reverent in behaviour... teachers of what is good that they may recall the young women to their senses to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sound in mind, chaste, workers at home. good, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively". (Titus 2:3-5)  What a force for good the mature sisters in the congregation can be! By respecting the brothers who take the lead and by making wise decisions in such areas of life as dress and grooming and entertainment, they set a fine example for others, and show a high regard for their own place in the congregation."

I felt a lot better after reading that.  

Audrey and I (mature sisters if there ever was one) did some magazine calls and return visits this morning - in the drizzle.   And after I had taken her back home, I took myself straight off to the shops and got a load of stuff in, as I knew i would not want to go out again.

Captain B and I typed at each other under our blurry Skype pictures and waved a bit. And Bea and Audrey rang.  My conversation with Bea - about "The Diary of a Nobody", reminded us of the Betjeman poem "Middlesex" which starts off so funny, but ends on an elegiac note about the death of rural Middlesex, and for Murray Posh and Lupin Pooter "long in Kensal Green and Highgate, silent under soot and stone".

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Diary of a Nobody...

Its a bit hard to know what to put in my blog at the moment.   Especially as the Captain's is so vivid.  Some lovely colours today - saturated reds and blues.   I spoke to him this afternoon - and Audrey has been on the phone a couple of times.  Yesterday was the meeting at the Hall, and i did some magazine route calls on the way back.

If I were to write up today it would basically be: did nothing, saw no-one, as I have been cleaning the flat and slowly climbing paperwork mountain.  It is more of a hill now, so something has been accomplished.

There is an interesting article in this month's Awake! which I hope will make all who read it think about the violent attempts that have been made by the powers-that-be to prevent people from finding out what the Bible actually says.

The article is "John Foxe" and his Turbulent Times."

In part it says:  "A citizen of nearby Coventry, Agnes told Foxe about a widow named Smith (or Smythe) who had taught her children the Ten Commandments and Jesus' model prayer, often called the Lord's Prayer. Instead of teaching her children in Latin though, she taught them in English.  For this "crime" she was burned at the stake, along with six men who were similarly charged. Because this gross injustice angered the people, the local Bishop spread the word that the victims were burned for the "greater crime" of eating meat on Fridays and other fast days."

Its hard to know where to start with that one.   Though I will just point out that the Christian Greek Scriptures enjoin no fasts.  You can eat meat, or not eat meat, as and when you want. All they do specify is that if you eat meat, it must be properly bled. You must not eat the blood.

Why was teaching children God's word in their native language so horribly punished?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

An evening with Jackie

Just back from Jackies.  She made a lovely supper of soup, then salmon with asparagus, followed by chocolate pot.  No blog from Captain Butterfly which is a bit worrying.   Jean and I were out on the doors this morning. We decided to do route calls rather than go to Arundel. It seems to have been a good decision as we found quite a few people in.  And I heard about her holiday in Cornwall - which is another place that holds some wonderful childhood memories for me, as my granny used to have a house down there, on the beach at Praa Sands. Its now a premier surfing beach, but then it was empty.  There has been a dreadful crash on the M5, down in the West Country I believe - one of the worst motorway pile-ups ever. Very frightening, and such a tragic ending for many peoples journey.

Friday, 4 November 2011

A Migration

There should be a cloud of 2012 butterfly calendars winging their way to their various overseas destinations - Germany, Oz, Nz, and Saudi - as I am just back from posting them.

Did I see David Attenborough and his camera team in hot pursuit?


The Channel is much calmer today and there are a lot of clouds, but its oddly warm.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Walking on the Moon

After an intensive training course from Captain B, I did manage to get the percolator to make me a cup of coffee, but not till after flying it to the moon and back a couple of times. Bea rang this morning and we had a long talk. Yesterday was a hectic packing day, and on Tuesday I went out on the door to door preaching work with Maggie. We had a very good morning - Maggie especially - lots of good talks - and people to call back on.  Or, more grammatically, people on whom to call back.  This morning ought to be a housework and paperwork morning - plus I need to turn yesterday's mushrooms into a curry, then I plan to go out on the doors with a young pioneer sister, and tonight its the meeting.  As the Psalmist said:  "I rejoiced when they were saying to me:
“To the house of Jehovah let us go.”"

It is a blue grey sort of day - it has been raining - may still be - hard to tell - and I am enjoying watching the waves on The Channel.  The balcony geraniums are waving in the wind.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The feathers of the willow

(This should have been posted yesterday. I had a careless moment and deleted a whole load of my blog posts. Captain Butterfly managed to reclaim some of them from the DeleteoSphere, but not all).

Suddenly its November.   The "feathers of the willow" month (as in the Dobson poem).  Maggie and I were in Angmering this morning, on the door to door preaching work.  That meant an excursion onto the grown-up road with its big boy roundabouts.   We found quite a lot of people in and will need to make some return visits.

My eye problem is down to getting old (sigh) and I will have to learn to live with it (according to the Specialist at the hospital yesterday).  I had an ocean load of drops in my eyes and they were scanned to the max.  "Aha", said the doctor, "I can see the little spider.  It looks more like a tadpole though."  Apparently its a shadow caused by the thing that has happened in my eye.  I will be content if it gets no worse - and look forward hopefully to perfect eyesight in the restored earthly Paradise.

The Captain and I went to Cissbury Ring this afternoon for a two hour walk.  And, wonderfully, we found Neil crouching over a Clouded Yellow he was photographing.  So the Captain's day was made as near to perfection as is possible at the moment, and therefore so was mine.

We are looking forward to watching the final of "71 Degrees North" tonight.

It has been another beautiful Autumn day.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Oct 30
Its 3 p.m. and the bonfire on the green is still burning merrily away!  It was amazing last night - see the Captain's Log for photos.  I don't think there is anything left for me to record really. It was a bit frantic trying to get the supper ready for everyone, but it got done and we all had a good time. And we can live on the left overs for the next week I should think. 

The Butterfly AGM was fun.  Excellent speakers, one of them being Michael Blencowe who gave his usual funny and informative summary of the Butterfly Year (with great photos).  And the other speaker Torben Larsen was amazing - a Butterflier Supreme -  see the Captain's log for more info.

David of the Clouded Yellows drove us there and back. And it was such a beautiful afternoon - the blue blue sky of October along with a whole tapestry of Autumn colours.

Blue Skies

 Oct 27

Can skies get bluer than this?

We went to Cissbury Ring yesterday afternoon, which is where the photo was taken.  I had coffee with Audrey in the morning.
Maggie rang to ask for another butterfly calendar.
We saw our first picture of the new great niece today. She looks so lovely. And I am now thinking about how fresh and new the world is for her.  And how much of the olden days we are.

A great aunt and uncle

We became a great aunt and uncle again today, as Nadine and Alex have had a little girl.  We look forward to meeting her in December.

I think back to my young childhood and my uncles and aunts.  I can't even remember the "great" generation, except for my great aunt Hilda whose dressing table I still have.

As Ecclesiastes says:  "A generation is coming and a generation is going."
Oct 25
It has been a lovely lovely Autumn day - amazing light - a great day to first open your eyes in.

Simon and Co dropped in for a cup of tea and a chat on their way back up North - which was a lovely surprise.  

Captain Butterfly's Dream

The Willow Pond
Oct 24
"Last night I dreamt that I disturbed a Clouded Yellow" said Captain B striding off hopefully into what was left of the summer meadow at Brandy Hole Copse.

Sadly the dream didn't come true.  All we saw was a large bumble bee, a wasp, a green woodpecker (briefly), two dog walkers and a jogger.   Lovely to be out there though, on a perfect Autumn Monday morning, when we have spent so many of our Monday mornings cooped up in offices.    The wind is strong, the Channel is roaring, and now the sky is clouding over.  There is supposed to be torrential rain down in the West country.
We had a sandwich lunch on the bench by the pool. 

Yesterday was a quiet day - just the meeting in the morning.   Audrey and i are off on the field service tomorrow morning.

A beautiful Autumn and a beautiful girl

How wonderfully Jehovah made Autumn.

June and I were working on the doors near the station this morning, and when we finished our territory we walked on round the corner to see if I could find a young girl that I met about 18 months ago.  She was a Filippina, and one of the most beautiful girls i have ever seen. We had a long chat and she took a "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" book.   I have called back many times and never found anybody at home.  However today the door was answered and I was able to find out that she now lives in another town, but keeps in touch.  I sent her my love and hope that her new congregation will be able to contact her.

June gave me a jar of home made ginger marmalade and a jar of home pickled onions.   

Yesterday I took Maggie on her magazine route.   And it was a cooking afternoon - mushroom soup and apple crumble for His Lordship's tea.  Looks like another cooking afternoon tomorrow - ginger marmalade muffins.

A young lad called by unexpectedly to look at, and quote for, the problem windows in the block. We had  quite a long chat, and he took a "Who Really Rules the World?" brochure with him.

Jackie is back - hurray - and we are invited to supper there tonight. 
It is another lovely Autumn day - cold but sunny - Autumn leaves everywhere, and the balcony geraniums flourishing.

The London Aunt

We had lunch with Aunt Jo yesterday - in London.  It was a beautiful day - dazzling blue sky, the odd white fluffy cloud - coldish - London very green with the Autumn colours everywhere.  Lovely rowan tree from Jo's window with the Autumn sun making the red berries shine.

We gave her a copy of the 2012 Butterfly Calendar, which has come out very well.

She gave us a quiche with salad, followed by creme caramel, with a very good red wine.  And coffee.   We talked about new things, and old things.

Every generation goes through this process - the layers and layers of memory accumulated.  Uncle Paul's funeral is now receding into the past. And we were remembering our time in the
Lake District with them when we were all young.  And the lovely curries Paul used to cook for us.   And how, before I was married, Uncle Paul used to walk me home to my bedsit in Baron's Court.

The bus ride to and from Aunt Jo's was also a trip into the recent past - our expat past - as it is very Islamic now, with Arabic writing on nearly all the shops, lots of ladies in abayas, Lebanese restaurants, a prayer call going on somewhere, and verses from the Koran at the bus station.  I was hurtled past them by Captain Speedy before I could take in more than the first one - which is basically that there is only one God. 


 Oct 18

I have been re-reading Janet Frame's three- part autobiography: "To the Is-land", "An Angel at my Table" and "The Envoy from Mirror City" - and I want to quote and quote from it.

Here she is speaking of her earliest memories, including one that is "something that could not have happened".  She captures the strangeness of those first few remembered things - seen and felt so vividly, but not understood.  There is no context to put them in.

Then she writes of her most vivid memory of that time:   "I remember a grey day when I stood by the gate and listened to the wind.  I had my first conscious feeling of an outside sadness, or it seemed to come from outside, from the sound of the wind moaning in the wires.  I looked up and down the white dusty road and saw no-one. The wind was blowing from place to place past us, and I was there, in between, listening.  I felt a burden of sadness and loneliness as if something had happened or begun and I knew about it.  I don't think I had yet thought of myself as a person looking out at the world; until then, I felt I was the world.  In listening to the wind and its sad song, I knew I was listening to a sadness that no relation to me, which belonged to the world."

The sadness that belonged to the world.   I used to feel that walking through the beautiful Derbyshire Dales of my childhood.   Why was there a sadness about everything?  What had happened?

Audrey and I were out on the preaching work this morning, trying to get people to see what the Inspired Scriptures tell us about this sadness and what Jehovah, the Creator, is doing to restore the Paradise we lost.  We did magazine route calls and return visits as the map today had too much walking for Audrey. And I took her to the bank.

I re-met a lovely Asian lady - I think perhaps Filippino - haven't been able to ask, as on both occasions I seem to have got her out of the shower.  But she took last months magazines - which had an article about what the Bible has to say about who really rules the world - she has taken this months - and would like me to drop by with November's.

My Talk and a Monsoon Sky

Oct 16
This after-the-monsoon sky was taken by Captain B the Great yesterday afternoon.  It was an afternoon of lovely light and violent showers of rain, plus a rainbow which I didn't see.  I was out with a young pioneer sister in the afternoon - we did some return visits, until we were rained back to our car.  And then it was my talk at the Hall last night.  I was very very nervous and did not deliver it well, but at least it got done.   Anyway, here it is below.

The setting was: Encouraging a Bible student to attend meetings

And the brief was:  How are we assured of God’s love for us at Romans 8:26,27?

I was to work on Gestures - and I did remember to add a few wooden herky-jerky gestures as I went through it.


Sue.  Its been lovely to conduct the study with you L. as always.  Is the same time next week fine?

L.  Yes.  I’ll look forward to it.  What an amazing book the Bible is.  I just hope I didn’t ask you too many questions!

Sue.  Not at all.  Its encouraging to see you are thinking about it.  Jehovah asks us to love him with all our mind, as well as with all our heart, so you need to make sure of everything. But I do want to mention our meetings again. If you would come to the Kingdom Hall - maybe just come to the public talk this Sunday for example - you would get so many of your questions answered.  All our meetings are teaching meetings – there is no ritual involved.

L.  I don’t think I’m ready for that. I’ve got real problems with the idea of ever joining an organised religious group again.  I don’t mind studying the Bible with you – in fact I love doing it - but that’s as far as I want to go.

Sue.  Were you bought up in a religion?

L.  Yes, but its not something I want to talk about.

Sue.  Fair enough, if you don’t want to talk about, I respect that.  But I can’t help wondering if you have thought to talk to Jehovah about it?   You do know how to pray to him now.

L.  No, I wouldn’t do that. I don’t know if I can even explain it to myself, let alone to God.

Sue.  Then before I go, may I ask you read these verses – Romans 8:26,27?

L.  (Reads Romans 8:26,27)   "In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the [problem of] what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered.  Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones."

Sue.  Do you see that God’s spirit will plead for us with groanings unuttered – things that we perhaps don’t know how to say, or don’t even know we need to say.  Jehovah loves us and wants to help us.

L.  But how can I be sure of it? 

Sue.  Think of the Bible itself as a perfect example of the power of Jehovah’s spirit to help us.   Lets look again at the claim it makes.  (Reads 2 Timothy 3:16,17)  "All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness,  that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work."   So this book that can make us fully competent and completely equipped for every good work has been inspired by God’s spirit and protected and preserved by that spirit down to this day.  Now why would Jehovah have done that?

L.   Because he wants us to know Him?

Sue.  Yes, exactly.  And because Jehovah wants to get us safely back to him.  He doesn’t want anyone to be lost.  He will guide and help us every step of the way, if we let him.   As he said to the Israelites centuries ago at Isaiah 48:17,18 – please just read these words Louise. They are as true now as they were then.

L. (Reads Isaiah 48:17,18)  " This is what Jehovah has said, your Repurchaser, the Holy One of Israel: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.  O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea."

Sue.  Jehovah is the one teaching us to benefit ourselves.  He wants us to listen to him, so he can get us safely back to him.  And he will help us.   So pour your heart out to him as best you can – ask for his help with the difficulties that you have.   And next week I’ll bring you details of the next public talks, just in case you feel able to come along to one.

At which point I tottered gratefully off the stage and was able to enjoy the rest of the meeting, and the Elder taking the Ministry School was (of course) very kind about my efforts.

Went to doctors for blood pressure things this morning and then on to Audrey's for a cup of tea.

On the menu?

Oct 15
One of the travel stalls at the Alexandra Palace Wildlife Expo - responsible, low carbon footprint etc etc - offered this:  A Self-Drive Safari.   I thought about us, Captain Butterfly and his Mrs, driving ourselves off into the backwoods of the Masai Mara, and then thought about the local lion prides musing over the Meals on Wheels menu.

If anything is worth self-driving through London for, the Wildlife Expo is.  IF.  And the view from the Palace is quite something. I think the Captain's Log will have more detail, including an interesting butterfly name.  We had a fascinating talk on the ecology behind London place names - and a talk from a Canadian lady who helps run an amazing brown bear reserve in Alaska, and two other wonderful talks/video/slideshows, but i can't remember the names of the Speakers, and Captain B has the programme.

Horse drawn kettles, and eating barbed wire

Oct 5
Its back to student days today.  The kettle has packed up and until tomorrow when we can make an emergency dash to the shops, I am making tea the old fashioned way: drawing the water laboriously from the well, filtering out the tadpoles, hitching the horses to the kettle.   Or, to put it another way, its back to the student method of heating up water in a saucepan.

I think the last time I had to do this was in our early years in Expatland, when the Sheik, Chuck and Mary, and all the divers went to the Maldives, and I stayed behind house and kitten sitting for Chuck and Mary.  They had three very tiny and valuable Persian kittens (plus mum and aunt) to be sat on.

My first morning there it dawned on me that Americans don't have kettles as they don't drink tea.  There was a coffee making machine that could have flown me to the moon - and would certainly have made me a cup of coffee had I wanted one.  But I didn't.  So I was reduced to saucepan tea.

In the early hours of the following morning I had a strange dream of being at a big Buckingham Palace style banquet and lifting the food to my mouth, only to have it turn painfully into barbed wire as I tried to eat it.  I woke up to find that two tiny Persian kittens were fighting on my head.

Audrey and I were out on the doors this morning. We finished our territory and then I took Audrey to her Russian lady.   A quiet night in lies ahead for me and Captain B, I hope.  I am anxiously practising my talk for Thursday.

Autumn Sunrise

Oct 3
Col has been photographing the wonderful sunrises.  We are having strange weather - an Indian summer, very hot but with a haze of Autumn all round.   The green and the beach were packed yesterday.   A quiet weekend.  I took Saturday off and spent it with Col.  We watched the rugby - not that I can tell one end of a rugby bat from the other - and did a big shop at Tesco's.   And on Sunday I turned some of what we lugged home into a roast lamb dinner and a nectarine and plum crumble.

The talk at the Hall on Sunday morning was all about Christian hospitality.   A worrier for me as I am the exact opposite of a people-person...

Maggie and I are adjusting happily to our new seats in the back row.   We will have some decisions to make when we have our new Kingdom Hall next year.  Our old one is not only old, but is bursting at the seams.

Bob of the North Americas is sending me his travel blog.  He has recently pitched his tent by the wide Missouri. How evocative all those names are.  And what a golden country America seemed when I was a Convent schoolgirl in the Fifties.   It reminds me of a line by an Oz poet, something about listening to an American radio station "singing a song of sidewalks".

An Autumn Day in Retirement

Sep 25
Here is a toadstool/mushroom to celebrate the season.  It could be an inkcap, but it is in fact a parasol mushroom (Captain Butterfly has just looked it up for me).

It has been a lovely Autumn day here - Captain B roving the woods - and me at the Kingdom Hall.  After I had given Audrey a lift back, I drove back along the seafront,  The Channel was a pale clear turquoise, the tide was high, and there were little yachts regattaing about.

Our brother from Bethel HQ gave the public talk today - all about our Christian identity.   It was a good reminder never to take "the way of the truth" for granted.

We talked to Jackie, back from the North.  She really enjoyed her tour of York and loved Keith and Janet's house.   We hope to see her before she sets off on her travels again.

Though nature, red in tooth and claw with ravine...

Sep 24
It is a Tennyson blog today, given Captain B's "Stoatally" pictures.  As Tennyson wrote (in "In Memoriam"):

"Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
    Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
    Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

Who trusted God was love indeed
    And love Creation's final law-
    Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed."

Tennyson is here equating Nature with the Creator - the Evolutionary view I suppose. Whereas nature is part of the creation.  But it is a dilemma - something that always bothered me once I got old enough to think about it.

If God is good and all-powerful (as we were told in my faraway convent schooldays) why is nature so cruel?

I had no idea that all the time Genesis has been telling us, simply and clearly, that nature was not created red in tooth and claw.

"And God went on to say: “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food. And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so.
After that God saw everything he had made and, look! [it was] very good." - Genesis 1:29-31

This was a perfect world. It was Paradise. Nothing hunted, killed, or ate anything else.

And we are promised a return to that perfection.  Isaiah 11:6-9 says:

"And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull.  And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea."

Even the lion will eat straw just like the bull.

When Tennyson wakes from the sleep of death, he will find himself in an earth that has been restored to Paradise.

We were out in one of the villages at the furthest limit of our territory today offering the knowledge of Jehovah to all who will listen.  And after that I went back for a cup of tea and a very encouraging shepherding call.  Lovely of the elders to take the time, given how busy they are.  We had a Bethel speaker at the Hall tonight, followed by tea and cakes.  He was talking about how close Jehovah is to every one of us.

High Tide

Sep 9
Given that the storms on the Channel have already started, I thought it might be time for another poem I wrote years and years ago:

Hi! Tide

The sea had long wanted to go into town
So, early one morning, it roared in
Found the arcades still closed
And battered them down.

Obviously I very much hope The English Channel isn't reading this blog.

Went out with a young pioneer sister yesterday and we tackled some of our return visits.  I didn't find any of mine in, but did find Dave on my magazine route at home, delivered the mags and had a brief chat.   Went to the meeting last night and joined the small school as audience, as Audrey had a part.

I also got a part in October, in the big school, on the platform, with a microphone...

After the storm

Sep 7
A much quieter day today - rain clouds kept threatening, but it stayed dry on the coast.   Audrey and I managed an hour and a quarter on our magazine routes.   And Col and I went to Swanbourne Lake during the afternoon. It was very quiet - and I bought some food for the birds, and we were mobbed.

This is the Arthur Rackham tree.

"Without a Map" by Meredith Hall

Sep 5
This blog should have been called "A Murmuration of Starlings" - if only Col had managed to get a photo of the giant flock of starlings as it zoomed past our window, skidded to a halt on the green, and took off again like a rocket.  If that is the little family - mum, dad and two generations of offspring - teenagers and toddlers - we used to see on the beach before we lived here, they have done well.

Didn't make it to the Field Service on Saturday - not at all well - feel very bad about it - but did manage to do a couple of answers to emails about the Bible.   Got to the Meeting at the Hall on Sunday - lovely talk, of course.  But still felt too bad to manage any calls after.  So far my email witness continues at least.

Odd day here - one moment its sunny - the next its pelting down.  We went to the supermarket this morning and loaded up with goods.  Other than that it has been a cleaning, washing and ironing day, and I have done my studying. We are doing a close study of the Book of Acts, as we can learn so much from the way those earliest Christians witnessed.

Anyway I have called this blog "Without a Map", as a tribute to Meredith Hall's memoir which I have just read and re-read.  I can't recommend it enough.  I hope to write to her and say so.

She was forced to hand over her son for adoption in the Sixties - she was an unmarried schoolgirl mother - and mother and son did not see each other again for twenty one years.  How they both dealt with what happened during that time is amazing, most especially in the case of her wonderful son.

Its upbuilding too, where it could have simply been a Misery Memoir.

So this blog is about families I suppose.

The Smell of Bracken

Aug 31
We went for a walk in Rewell Woods yesterday - early evening.  The heather was out and the air was full of the smell of bracken - which takes me back to my childhood picnics in the Derbyshire Dales.

Julia of Arabia arrived on Monday, in time for a sandwich lunch.  And Jackie came over to join us for dinner - which I kept simple - a Cook's lasagne, salad, cheese and tiramisu (Lidl).  We had a lovely evening and laughed a lot.  And we caught up on the current news from ExpatWorld.

We walked along the River Arun in the afternoon - the Bramley Apple Walk.  Julia left yesterday just before lunch.   No apples as yet, but lots of blackberries.

I am taking Audrey out on the doors this morning.  We have a few Not at Homes we can try to find At Home, and perhaps make a start on our September magazine deliveries.

Its the last day of Summer.  And likely to be a cloudy and overcast day.   I only hope that the Captain will be able to get out and about on butterfly business.  Otherwise you may read about Hurricane Butterfly hitting the South Coast of England.

Watching the Weather

Aug 26
Just sitting here watching the weather - and a flock of starlings flying along the seafront.  I wonder if they are the same little starling family we used to see and feed on the riverfront when we first used to visit here.  If so, they are thriving.  Maggie and I are going out this morning if it isn't raining heavily.  The Channel has gone very pale and flat, so I think some heavy rain may be on the way.  If so, we will re-schedule.

But, if the weather permits, I will take her on her magazine route calls today.   I didn't sleep too well last night for worrying about it, as I have to drive on the road with real big boy roundabouts on it.  Plus it means going over the rail crossing at least twice.

And we have busy railway lines here in the Downland.    I wonder if we will have trains when Paradise is restored?

I did a few return visits of my own yesterday, but only found two people at home.

The meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night was wonderful.   But can I be a doer of the word - and not a forgetful hearer?

A Rainy Tuesday in Retirement

Aug 24
I took Audrey to the Field Service group yesterday morning.  The rain, which had been heavy overnight, stopped as we started on the doors and we had a good morning.  We found quite a lot of people in from our Not At Home list, and we delivered the last of our August magazines.  Audrey has given us a very pretty white geranium which Captain Greenfingers says may go on the orchid table.
We - El Capitano and his Mrs - spent the afternoon at Pagham harbour.  It was a grey day, but that made all the greens and the white of the swans shine.    We picked up fish and chips on the way back.

I am trying to think what I did on Monday... I did walk into town to try and find the cardigan Audrey wanted, but they didn't have it in her size.

I have just watched Total Wipeout - people falling off things into water and/or mud.  Brilliant!

The Return of the Return of the House of Three Milks

Aug 17
Once again we are the house of three milks.  Girly goats milk and soy milk for me and Bea, and Big Boys milk (from the cow) for Captain B.  Apparently the riots moved North last night, but London was comparatively calm.   I really have seen "the increasing of lawlessness" the Bible warns about in my lifetime.  Riots and looting on the streets of Manchester...  Its a different world.

And I feel guilty that I won't be getting out on the doors with my Bible this week.  People need to hear the truth so much.

David and Shirley joined us for lunch yesterday - chicken salad with some hot dishes - and we all seemed to have a good time.   Dan and Gabi should be joining us tonight, if all goes to plan.