Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The weekend comes back to me...

... in all its glory.   I was out on the field service on Saturday morning with a young Ghanaian brother and a sister who is older than me - I am approaching that stage when soon there won't be anyone older... no, i can't think about it - we were working behind the station where they both live, so I didn't need to give either of them a lift back.  There was a match on in the afternoon so i was able to listen to Captain B being, variously, over the moon/sick as a parrot, and yelling: "Get your specs on ref".   And Sunday of course was the meeting at the Hall. One of our last at our old Hall, as we soon start building our new one.  The old one is not only old, but bursting at the seams.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Birds

Col will be missing his beloved Countdown Rachel today due to a hospital appointment.   In fact, I haven't seen him since early when he sped off with his lunchbox and various cameras to meet Mark and photograph a new bird that has just arrived at Pagham Harbour.

Apparently its known for its distinctive call of "And today's numbers are 5, 7, 2, 4, 1 and 75".

Wait a minute!  Sets off grimly towards Pagham Harbour with large rolling pin in hand.

In the meantime, while they were frivolling about with birds, Audrey and I were out on the field service.  We missed the group, owing to a medical appointment of mine own -  but did manage an hour on some not at homes that Audrey saved for us.

I'm trying to think what on earth I did yesterday but nothing is happening.   Beyond that I did make a fish pie (for today) out of the fish selection that Abel and Cole delivered.  And managed a fair amount of housework. The weekend is a blank.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Too Much Information - and another visit from the Thought Police

What has been preoccupying me for the last couple of days - the state of my insides - definitely comes under the: heading of: Too Much Information.

Hospital visit yesterday?  No, too gloomy a subject, though positive overall as it seems I will get on the new med, though it will take about a month to organise. I have to inject myself - though Captain B is very happy to do it too.  His eyes positively gleamed... Anyway, I injected the nurse's desk with great success - and then practised on my own leg.

The Nurse in Charge is Filippino, which makes me feel at home, as my last congregation was mainly Filippino.  And a lovely warm congregation it was.  

Neither Maggie nor I was at all well, but we did manage to do her February magazine route on Wednesday, although halfway through we had to make a mad dash down the coast road - while NOT exceeding the speed limit (after my slow expat years I have difficulty getting anywhere near a terrifying 30 miles an hour) - so I could dash home to the loo.

Another bit of Too Much Information.

I was so exhausted by all the hospital stuff I never got to the meeting last night, which makes me feel guilty, but I slept all evening and slept all night (first time for days), so I do feel a lot better this morning.

Dan and Gabi are racing ahead with the book and we are now making some final decisions about the cover and about how it is to be published in its virtual version.   The suggested cover photos are a shot of a tumbledown stone wall in Derbyshire taken by Captain B the Great.   The other is also taken by him.  Its a shot of one of my father's paintings we have on the wall here of woodland in Poland.

My father was a country boy from the fields and forest of Belarus which was then in Poland, was then deep in Russia, and is now Belarus again.  The remains of his family were ethnically-cleansed from there many years ago.  In fact, they have not been heard of from the day that Stalin's Red Army arrived in their village - and, presumably, "cleansed" them.

So both pictures are suitable, as the book travels from Poland to Yorkshire, and the Derbyshire moors were our childhood playgrounds. Wonderful playgrounds too.

And, yes, another visit from the Thought Police.  What do I mean miles?!  Well, alright 30 kilograms an hour then or whatever it is we are supposed to call them now.   And have I forgotten that Stalin and his Red Army are officially the "goodies" in WW2?!!

So will I please sweep my missing family back under the Omelette carpet pronto, along with all those millions of others, remembering that You Can't Make An Omelette Without Breaking Eggs.

The problem is that, as there are so many millions of dead under there, the blood will keep seeping through the carpet.

I also know, comfortingly and reassuringly, that shed blood can't be hidden from the Creator of life - no matter how vast the carpet and how thoroughly it is policed.

Jehovah told us that from the start when he said to Cain.   "“What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground."

The blood of Stalin's victims too cries out to God from the ground.   And I know that as long as Jehovah remembers them they will live again.  They will open their eyes in the restored earthly Paradise.

It will be a more joyful awakening than we can now imagine.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What to say about today

Yesterday we - Captain B, Jackie and myself - went to Wisley.  It was a beautiful day - blue sky - fluffy white clouds - banks of crocus at Wisely - and the ponds and puddles all iced.  The Glasshouse was very hot. Jackie and I had enough after an hour, and went off for a coffee.  We also looked at the hatching frames - where there were miracles aplenty - tree nymphs hatching out of their golden cocoons.  There should be a lot of photos on the Captain's Log.

Today I took Audrey shopping and we went out on the work. We worked in a street behind the station with Ken and Jean. Once again Audrey did place some magazines. I am not finding much interest at the moment, but the brother taking the field service group may well have told me why.  He asked "Did we all pray about our field service before we go out?"  

The problem is that I am so worried about the driving that I have only been praying - fervently - about that.  I must ask Jehovah to help me with the witnessing as well as the driving before Maggie and I go out tomorrow.

We also finished Audrey's magazine route - and did some not at homes that she had.

Then tiredness overtook me - again - and I have done nothing - beyond getting us lunch and tea and doing my studying.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Fluorescent Seagulls

The sky today has been amazing - blue, big fluffy white clouds, with seagulls fluorescing across it.  I was wanting everyone to stop and look - and think about what its telling them.

"The heavens are declaring the glory of God
 And of the work of his hands the expanse is telling."

Lovely meeting at the Hall - v. interesting talk about the fruitage of a belief in evolution versus the fruitage of a belief in Genesis, which says that we are all one family and all made in God's image.

I managed to finish my magazine route and had a good talk with one young girl.

Had a terrible night. Couldn't get warm, even though I had the electric blanket on, and then had feverish dreams and awakenings all night, in which I had to make over a hundred hot meals for the congregation very urgently.  It was a relief to wake up and find that no cooking was required.  I don't know whether i am going down with some horrible bug, or whether its the medication making me strange.  At least I am off it for the moment - my last dose was yesterday.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Poetry Book

The family Poetry collection is coming on well. We are searching for a cover photo now - Col has sent off a selection and we will leave it to Gabi's artist's eye.   The name has changed, which means that the original title poem - mine - has had to go.

If I ever do another collection, I will use it and go back to the original title.

For some reason I was thinking today of a poem by William Brown - from the Richmal Crompton books.  I hope Miss Crompton wouldn't have minded me putting it on the blog.   The William books were a very happy part of my childhood, so this is a thank you.

Miss Milton the Sunday School teacher is organising the children in her class to take part in a village pageant.  Each one of them is to be a bird, and have a little verse they will say - supplied by Miss M herself.

William is to be a tomtit.  And this is his verse:
"Around the garden I do flit
 Tom Tit I am, I am Tom Tit."

William is not too happy with this. He wants to be a vulture - and has written his own verse:
"I swoop down upon 'em and then
 Dead men I eat, I eat dead men."

"Miss Milton paled."

That would be quite a title for a poetry collection.  "Miss Milton Paled".

I did try to live up to my talk about the faith that Peter showed in that he kept on following in Jesus' footsteps no matter what - and I got out on the door to door work this morning.  It is the work that he left for his followers to do.  We covered our territory and left little tracts where we still couldn't find people at home.

I hope to be out again tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

My Talk

I have just delivered my talk in the Ministry school.  My householder was brilliant and we were to time - we have exactly 5 minutes.  And the Overseer was very nice about it.  though he is a noticing brother as the point I am to work on next time will be reducing the outline.  As you will see, I work from a script as below, but will have to have much briefer notes next time.  I may have to arrange for a brother to stand at the back of the Hall with some idiot boards.

How does Peter’s Example of Loyalty Benefit us?  
John 6:68,69     Study No.28 - Conversational Manner

Setting No.7:  Encouraging a Bible student to come to meetings

Sue.  Thanks for the study.  You are doing so well.  And you know if you want to learn even more you can always come to our meetings at the Kingdom Hall. We have a public talk this Sunday that I think will interest you.

HH.   I’m sorry Sue, I love our studies, but I don’t want to get involved with the congregation.

Sue.  Is there something specific troubling you?

HH.  Yes, to be honest, it’s the blood transfusion issue. I can't see that it is wrong - and I think that those who donate their blood to help others are doing a good and unselfish thing.

Sue.  I can understand that, as that’s exactly how I used to feel.   But I hadn’t realised how strongly you felt about this.  You seemed to accept that the Bible tells us we shouldn’t eat blood.

HH.  Yes, I do.  I can see it does. And I am shocked that I was never taught that at our church.  But blood transfusions are different as far as I am concerned.

Sue.  Its wonderful that you have stayed with our study feeling like that - you could have let this make you walk away. And let me see if I can help.  Well, let’s see if the Bible can, because it records that Peter had a similar problem – interestingly enough it was to do with blood.   Can you turn your Bible to John 6:68,69?     Before I ask you to read it, I want to show you the context. Jesus had just said this to his followers - at verse 53: “Most truly I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves."   Do you see how disturbing they found this as they didn’t yet understand about the ransom sacrifice.

HH. Yes, they may have thought Jesus meant they were literally to drink his blood.

Sue.  You’re right. And because of that they were stumbled.  Do you see what happens?  (reads 66 and 67)  "Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him." - that must have made him very sad.  And he said to his disciples: “You do not want to go also, do you?”  But see how Peter replied.  Would you read verses 68 and 69.

HH reads John 6:68,69  "Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Sue.  Peter didn’t understand what Jesus was saying about blood, but he really believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed one of Jehovah. He knew there was nowhere else to go to hear the truth, so he was not going to leave him.  And isn’t it the same with the true Christian congregation today?  Where else can we go to hear the truth?

HH.  Well, I will admit that since doing this study, I am understanding the Bible in a way I never could in my churchgoing days.

Sue. I felt exactly the same when I studied the Bible with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that is why I am still here, still listening, still being taught 25 years later.  And do remember that Jesus, knowing what difficulties lay ahead for his disciples, prayed to Jehovah on their behalf.  Its here at Luke 22:31,32.  Could you read it?

HH reads: “Simon, Simon, look! Satan has demanded to have you men to sift you as wheat. But I have made supplication for you that your faith may not give out; and you, when once you have returned, strengthen your brothers."

Sue.  When we show the same faith in Jesus that Peter did and keep following him, he helps us.   And he helps us through the Christian congregation, of which he is the head.  For example, the congregation provides this excellent little brochure called “How Can Blood Save Your Life?” so we can gain an insight into what the Bible has to say.   And also it helps to reassure us that what Jehovah and Jesus teach us is always always for our benefit. For example, just look at this quote from a Dr. Knut Lund-Olesen, who is quoted as saying:  “Since . . . some persons in high-risk groups volunteer as donors because they are then automatically tested for AIDS, I feel that there is reason to be reluctant about accepting blood transfusion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have refused this for many years. Did they look into the future?”—“Ugeskrift for Læger” (Doctors’ Weekly), September 26, 1988.  No, we didn’t look into the future, we looked into the Bible and there we found perfect teaching, leading us to life and safety.  Like Peter, all those years ago, we found the sayings of everlasting life.  If I leave this with you. will you read it, and we can talk about it next week.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Bear/Salmon Thing

"You can't leave it at that. You must explain about the bear salmon thing (in your last blog)".  Or so my readers clamoured.  Or at least one of them, Captain B, did.   But can I explain it in the way Chris Packham did?  Answer to that is no...

But, in brief, the bear take the salmon out of the river - usually away from the riverside and into the woods to eat in peace so their salmon is not stolen by a larger bear - they only eat the best of the salmon as there are so many in the river when the salmon run - so there are lots of leftovers in the woods - those leftovers are then taken by smaller predators - who, for safety's sake, take them further away - then birds take the scraps.   The result is that a lot of salmon gets taken a long way inland, rots down and fertilises the ground, hence making and prospering the very woodlands in which the bears live.

It is a delicate balance and could be very easily disrupted.  Especially by us intensively fishing up all the salmon.  And I am thinking guiltily that we shared a tin of red salmon for our salad tea tonight...  we don't eat a lot of meat or fish, but it seems horribly insensitive now I come to think of it.

And we didn't donate any to the local flora and fauna either. We ate it all. Every scrap.  Though I had to growl at Captain Butterfly occasionally to make sure he didn't get any ideas about what was on my plate.

When Paradise is restored, the salmon will run in peace, and the bears will have nothing to fear from other bears, or from us.

My householder, came round today and she and I went through my talk a couple of times.  I hope its going to be OK, I usually have more time to devote to writing it.  I did a big shop - studied - emailed - cleaned and tidied.  And couch potatoed.

Blood test tomorrow, last of meds on Friday, and then off to see The Specialist in a week or so.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Brian the Damsel Fly

If I still wrote poems I would write one to Brian, who we met last night, via a couple of slides, at Chris Packham's talk.  Among all the other amazing things he (Chris, not Brian) has done over the last year, including spending time in the Antarctic, and with the bears and salmon of the North American wilderness, is to have spent some days in a local pond, watching all the little creatures.  And Brian the Damsel Fly became his friend and popped over and settled on him and his camera every day.

There was another Damsel Fly - Steve - who was not friendly at all.  But perhaps he was just shy?

A wonderful wonderful talk - he filled the theatre - so we hope he will be back next year.

Chris is so good on the complexity and the beautiful order of the natural world and how we disrupt it by what we do.  I had no idea of the bear/salmon thing - I mean I knew the bear ate the salmon - but its what happens next.  And, as we start to overfish the salmon, its what will stop happening.

And even though his talks are full of fun and upbeat, he is more than able to show us the horror of what we have done and are doing.

He told us about the overfishing going on off the Falkland islands right now, as the factory ships fill the sea there, and he showed us the vast ruined vats where thousands - hundreds of thousands? - millions? - of the Antarctic penguins were thrown, alive, into boiling water, so they could be melted down for their oil.

When Adam and Eve made their fatal decision to cut themselves off from their Creator, their Source of life, they found they could not even keep themselves alive, let  alone run this beautiful and complex planet.  And of course their decision was a deeply selfish one - and we have been selfish since.

Chris Packham is optimistic in the face of it all - and believes we - the children of Adam - can and will do something to stop the earth being ruined.

I am optimistic too - very - though I believe, as the Hebrew prophets of old rightly warned us, that "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." (Jeremiah 10:23)   But I put my trust in our Creator's promise, that He, Jehovah, "will bring to ruin those ruining the earth". - Revelation 11:18

Chris ended with his poodles - Itchy and Scratchy.  He discussed their feeding habits and their efficient digestive systems.  And I am going to spare you the details of what we saw them doing.

But you can if you want look up 2 Peter 2:22.

In the meantime I hope Jehovah will bless little Brian and Steve the damsel flies - and that they are having, or maybe have had, a life full of joy.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A winter sunrise and a summer poem

Captain Camera has been out on the cold balcony taking photos of a lovely winter sunrise.  The Channel has disappeared to its far horizons and the red sun is reflecting in all the seapools it has left.  Don't worry seapools - your mum will soon be back.

A wonderful start to the day.  My poor little car looks cold down there.

Jean and I were out on the field service yesterday - just for an hour as it was freezing.  Its the meeting today and we are going to see Chris Packham tonight.  Am still wrestling with the third difficult letter, but the other two, plus that last mysterious butterfly membership, went in the post yesterday.

When my sisters were here Col was looking through all his boxes and boxes of slides, so we saw the young us over and over at various stages.  How young we all were once...

And we were surprised how many butterfly photos he has taken over the years.   I was reminded of a poem I wrote years and years ago about our holiday in the Italian Tyrol - which is one of those places where it is easy to see the Paradise the earth was always meant to be and will become.  Thank you Philip and Seppi for suggesting we took ourselves down there. We were there in June and spent days in mountain meadows full of wildflowers.

                by me

Through Colin’s camera we saw
 The tiny details of the Tyrol
 Little flat mushrooms
 Stained glass inside flowers
 And on moths’ wings
 One foot of Tyrolean meadow
 Could occupy us all day. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Questions people ask

Is retirement boring?  What do you find to do?  How do you fill up your days?

Well, when I can find time, I will answer them.   Yesterday, it was off to the group, then on to our Bible student, then a dash to the shops to post butterfly memberships and to buy something for lunch and cook it in time for Captain Eyetest's return from his expedition to Specsavers; afternoon, write talk to give to my householder at the Hall tonight - we are on the big stage in a weeks time - couldn't leave it any longer - make supper (aka "open a tin of soup") and drive to meeting.  Drove back through heavy snow, though it didn't last and hasn't stayed.  Today I have 3 urgent letters to do - letters, not emails - one in answer to an anguished postcard that arrived a week ago - study, make chicken casserole for weekend, and get ready for field service tomorrow.   Although, bearing in mind that I am retired and tired (arthritis) my days are punctuated by plenty of couch potatoing in front of my daytime favourites and regular intervals lying on the bed (aching back, arthritis again).

But there is no reason to be bored in retirement.  And in any case, you don't retire from the Christian preaching work.   And there is no more satisfying and important - and urgent! - work.  Which is not the same as saying that its easy.

Captain B who still has immense reserves of energy has left for Wisley.  He will meet Mark there and they will photograph butterflies to their hearts content.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sweet Lovers Love the Spring

"Don't come cooing on my drainpipe!"  roared Captain Butterfly as he strode forcefully towards the balcony, and a pair of courting doves sped wisely off.

Spring must be on the way.  A pair of them tried to nest in our downpipe last year.

Pen left for London this morning and I was out on the door to door preaching work with Audrey - cold but sunny - croci everywhere - very little interest - a bit cold to keep people at their doors talking anyway.  Still at least I am back to work.

Col was off at Wisley, drinking in the butterflies.  There will be some wonderful photos on his blog soon.  He bought me back a present from the bookshop there.  An anthology by Owen Sheers called "A Poet's Guide to Britain".

I have already found an old favourite from my Uni days - Wulf and Eadwacer.  We  don't know who wrote it.  It is a voice of longing from the past - maybe from a spring many many hundreds of years ago.

It begins:

"The men of my tribe would treat him as game:
 if he comes to the camp they will kill him outright...

Wulf is on one island, I on another.
Mine is a fastness: the fens girdle it
and it is defended by the fiercest men.
If he comes to the camp they will kill him for sure...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Two Sisters

No.1 sister left today and should be approaching our Northern hometown as I write.  We - Col, Penny and I - went to Arundel this afternoon - bought some books and disappeared under a sea of hungry seagulls and such.  I had brought the left over rice from last night and some seeds - and wish I had taken more food with me.  The sisters treated us to a Thai takeaway last night - Jacks joined us.  Col produced champagne and Baileys - and we ended up with a selection of chocolates - from Carol O'the North and Jean O' the Hall.  Over in East Sussex - where there bee dragonnes - the snow apparently lies deep and thick and even.  Here is it grey and mild and wet.  And the Channel is calm.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

No Snow Sunday

Apparently its snowing everywhere else, but here it is mildish (for Winter) and very wet, though not actually raining at the moment.  The Channel was a bit stormy, but even that is calming. Though it is the sort of sea surface that speaks clearly of its latent power.

Our writers weekend proceeds - with a mini-detox - one that allows cups of tea and coffee and a glass of wine in the evening.

Jackie is coming over tonight for a Thai takeaway.  And us three sisters went to the Kingdom Hall for the public talk this morning.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

February begins...

... and its cold. Snow this weekend apparently.   A whole 3 inches has been forecast.   Snowmaggedon!

Back to the field this morning - Steve swung by and took me to the Bible student and we studied for an hour.  Our student was saying that he had read Isaiah many times, but never understood it till now.  And, touchingly, he said he had never had anyone to talk to about the Bible before.

It reminds me of when I began my study with the two Jehovah's Witnesses who called - all those years ago.   Some very happy and amazing memories of that time.  But there will be difficulties and obstacles too, and I must keep asking Jehovah that he will help our student over every one of them.

Captain Butterfly is staving off butterfly starvation in the bleak no-butterfly months by visiting Wisley regularly and bringing back some wonderful photos of the tropical butterflies.  See the Captain's Log.

Made soup and baked apple and custard for his hungry Lordship's return, and went to the Hall for the meeting - really really cold but no frost or snow, yet.   Sat with Audrey and gave her a lift back.