Sunday, 30 September 2012

New Kingdom Hall and the Kindness of neighbours

Captain Butterfly came to the Hall last night for the Dedication Service - so I was able to hold his hand during the prayer.  Usually I can only do that once a year, at the Memorial, so it was a red-letter day.

A funny video had been made about the building process - we are going to get a copy to show to Jacks, who was away yesterday - and to the family (so you have been warned). Her daughter came to the Open Day though.

The experiences were wonderful. The brother who did the talk about them had tears in his eyes as he finished.   The site here is so difficult - tiny entrance with a shared drive - plus in making the Hall bigger we were, in planning terms, "overdeveloping" the site.   Then assuming we got planning permission,  we could not go ahead unless every one of the neighbours signed an agreement about it.  That involved three of them losing their garages and shared drive for three months - three long dusty, noisy months.  Another neighbour's fence had to come down for the duration.  And another neighbour's garden was needed to store the scaffolding.  And the pub would need to agree that we could use its carpark. And its a very busy pub.  Oh and we needed to build a landbridge over three neighbours gardens to give access into the pub carpark.

The brothers had looked everywhere for another site, but there was nothing.  So, after putting the matter to Jehovah in prayer, they decided to go ahead with this.   And it all went like clockwork. Planning permission was granted, on first application I believe.  And every neighbour signed an agreement that allowed us to do all detailed in the previous paragraph.

I hope Jehovah will bless every one of them for their kindness to us.  I know He will.

The final speaker reminded us what the purpose of the Hall is - a centre where we can worship and thank Jehovah.  And he reminded us how central this site is, how convenient.

And most importantly, he reminded us of how Jehovah promised he would smooth out the Israelites way when they were to restore true worship.

(Isaiah 40:3-4) "Listen! Someone is calling out in the wilderness: “Clear up the way of Jehovah, you people! make the highway for our God through the desert plain straight.  Let every valley be raised up, and every mountain and hill be made low. And the knobby ground must become level land, and the rugged ground a valley plain."

We thanked Jehovah very much for smoothing out our way, and for our lovely new Hall.

Friday, 28 September 2012

What to say?

A quiet week so far, with some stormy weather.   I got out on Tuesday with Audrey - we got to the Field Service Group and spent nearly an hour delivering invitations to the Open Day. We finished when we ran out of invites. Its the Hall Dedication tomorrow, with a brother down from London Bethel to give the public talk. He is also going to give the public talk on Sunday, so two things to look forward to.

Captain B has been to our local Tropical Butterfly House with Mark - to stave off butterfly starvation in the wet weather - and he has gone off to do his first woodland clearance today - a sure sign that winter is on the way.  I clucked him off with lots of remarks about "Watch out for your back".

I have a quiet day ahead in which I hope to achieve some paperwork and some study. But we shall see.

The Channel is a light grey blue and very ripply, no white frills as yet, and the balcony geraniums, lilac and salmon pink, still clash and whirl beautifully in the wind, framing the scene.

What a lovely retirement nest Captain Butterfly the Great has provided for us.  And what a beautiful world Jehovah has provided for us all.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sleeping Sally

Writing about Sally yesterday reminded me that I wrote this poem many years ago, after one of our walks in the park, when I was dog sitting.  I wasn't a JW when I wrote it, but I was wondering about the Why of things.

And please remember, re the idea of evolution, and ape-men, the fossil evidence still says Genesis - more and more strongly.  It does not harmonise with the idea of evolution.

And Genesis tells us we are falling from a state of perfection, not evolving.

by me

Sleeping Sally dreams of biscuits
Hordes and hordes and herds of biscuits
Herds of migrating chocolate biscuits
Thundering across the primeval plain.

Sally and ancestral sisters
Rush among the herds of biscuits
Bark and tumble, kill and guzzle
Satiated, they sleep under the hot sun.

The ape upon the hillside watches Sally enviously.
Soon the ape-man will have tools
He'll corral the biscuits into packets
And dole them out meanly - one by one.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Missing my sisters and remembering Sally

Nute and Pen left this morning, which is sad, but we had a lovely weekend together. There was a time when we were young marrieds, when we all lived in the same city - our brother included - and our parents, in their retirement bungalow. And Keith and Janet too.   I suppose we took it for granted at the time, but it was great just to be able to drop in.

Even Sally the dog used to take herself off up to her granny's at the bungalow every time she could - and head straight for the never-failing biscuit barrel.   She was quite an escape artist and, every time she disappeared, we had to search all the neighbours dustbins. She was very taken with the scenic beauty of dustbins - she found something within them (in a very literal way). Then if that search turned up nothing except a lot of ravaged dustbins and cross neighbours we began the trek up to the bungalow to reclaim her.

We went to the public talk at the Kingdom Hall - chauffered by the kind Captain Butterfly, who saved us from getting a soaking by providing a door to door taxi service.

Jackie came round for supper yesterday - Thai takeaway, courtesy of the siblings - lychees, ice-cream, cheese, and chocolates.  Its become a bit of tradition now.   We also got quite a lot of writing done.

The sea is exhilarating today.  It is turquoise blue, racing towards the shore, covered with white horses, and windsurfers.  It rained all morning, but is sunny now.

I hope to be at the field service group, driving Miss Audrey, tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Three Mermaids seen in English Channel

Brrr... we - Nute, Pen and me - just went for a swim in The Channel.  There was no-one else even paddling. It was bracing, as us hardy Brits say.

We are having a writing day today - to the new Kingdom Hall tomorrow for the public talk - and Jackie is coming round for Thai food tomorrow night.

Captain Butterfly escaped from the girly stuff by leaving on a course while it was still dark. And he won't be back till late.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Back to the Field

I made it to the Field Service group at the Kingdom Hall this morning - for the first time in 3 months!  By the time I had picked up Audrey, dropped her off, gone off to find somewhere to park (no parking at the new Hall), tottered back to the Hall, I was late. But I got there.

Audrey and I got our territory, then Mick assigned Maggie and Beryl (who don't have cars) to come with us, so it took us a while to work out where to drop everybody off and where to meet up again.  We did 45 minutes, which is as much as my knees will stand, then took Audrey back and went back and waited for the other to finish so I could take them back home.

Once again, I am amazed to be doing the most important work of my life in retirement...

Such a beautiful day. After I had dropped off Beryl, I drove back along the sea road. The tide was well in, with a sort of swell on, and the light was so lovely. The sea was a like a turquoise jewel, only alive.

Youtube keeps asking me if my anti-wrinkle cream works?!

What a cheek.

Monday, 17 September 2012

An unseasonal Spring Lamb

I got some medical advice from Tony of the doors today. He told me that the cod liver oil capsules I take will be much more effective if taken on an empty stomach.  He reckoned it really helped him, so I promised to give it a try.   "Maybe I will be leaping up your path like a spring lamb when I deliver the magazines next month" I chirped.  He paled, and made a cross sign with his fingers, to ward me off.

I suppose it is rather a scary thought.

Anyway, obviously, I got out on the doors this morning.  And had a good time.  We are delivering the invitations for the Open Day at our new Hall.  And I hope to be out delivering them with Audrey tomorrow.

We had a lovely supper at Jacks on Saturday night.  Chicken Kiev - and cheesecake.  

Captain B is on a course all day today - left early will be back late. I have a salmon salad ready to go when he arrives, plus I have started on the  two giant bags of apples he picked and have made an apple crumble. I had better go off now and make the custard.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Climbing Everest

My talk was delivered on Thursday night. And Martin, the elder in charge of the School, was very nice about it.  I should have known not to be worried about the climb to the platform, especially in a brand new Kingdom Hall.  The two little steps are right by the book counter, so I could hold on to it while going up and down.  No need for a team of sturdy Sherpas after all.  Am paying for those 4 little stairs now though!

Captain Chauffeur took us shopping on Friday, and we picked up my meds and got some library books. I lay on the bed most of the afternoon, resting my knees, which are screaming at me not to walk on them, so it helps to have some new books.

Rather cloudy on Friday  - the Channel was rippling away blue grey outside the window with banks of splendid Sussex clouds above.  Its been a lovely Autumn day today.

Today I did shamefully little - frozen shoulder plus knee - but finished my Watchtower study, chatted to Audrey and Jean on the phone, and we are now off to Jackie's for a lovely Jackie supper.  I am taking her over an invite to the Open Day at the new Kingdom Hall, plus one for her daughter, who wants to see how it has turned out.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A bit of a nothing day

Yesterday was a bit of a nothing day - an afternoon of butterfly paperwork - and Captain B was stuck in a traffic jam for ages.

I felt a bit depressed, which I rarely do these days. Though Bea has cheered me up by offering to go through my talk with me on the phone. We will use the blog version.

I talked to Audrey and to Richard.  It rained a little bit in the afternoon.  I am still resting a lot - not much option, though the knees are slightly better.   I was reading a new (to me) biography of Jean Rhys.  "The Blue Hour" by Lillian Pizzichini.

When I was a child, Jean was living in Cornwall.  She would have been about the age I am now, so we were  in Cornwall together, but at the opposite ends of our life.  It was a place of magical holidays for us, as for some years my granny had a house at Praa Sands - now one of the foremost surfing beaches - then wild and empty.

How differently we saw it all.  Jean Rhys at the end of her life, me at the beginning of mine.  This is a little poem I wrote about it years ago, probably after I read the Carol Angier biography.

by me 

I can’t believe Jean
That you and I
Were in Cornwall together
You write of freezing March weather
I remember only sun.

Of course we were never there in March.   But Cornwall set the standard for the seaside for me - rocky cliffs with sea pinks growing on every ledge, wild seas, empty sandy beaches, with rock pools full of anemones.   It was a place full of wonder and fascination and danger.    

We live now in a flat, neat, municipal seaside, but it is still an amazing thing to have the sea coming and going and surging and roaring just outside the window, and to see the enormous Sussex skies, deep blue with high fluffy white cloud in summer, and to see "the red wing" of the sun rising above the Channel in the winter mornings.  I was on the balcony studying after lunch. The sky was a perfect blue with one enormous dramatic swathe of white cloud - it was all racked up towards one end, and fat and fluffy at the other (like the best sort of cat). And the Channel underneath was a deeper more sombre blue - but it was covered in sun sparkles, so much so that it was almost white in parts.

The creation tells us so clearly about its Creator, Jehovah of armies.  I hope to be speaking about the importance of sanctifying, or hallowing, His name, at the meeting tonight, as I talk about the importance of making it known.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Further back in time

Last week we revisited our expat past, via a reunion with Dorothy and Sue.  This week we will be going further back in time - to my Catholic Convent Schooldays in fact.  (Yes, quite a long way back...)   Kathryn and Jen are touring the South Coast and are coming for lunch tomorrow.

Yesterday was the meeting in the morning. Richard was there!  His second meeting.  I must ring him today and have a chat and see what he thinks of it all.  And in the afternoon I did the Butterfly paperwork, which is waiting to go to the Post Office today. We of the Sussex Butterflyers are still ahead on our memberships - more joining us than leaving - which isn't bad in a recession.

And I rested a lot and finished my library books.  Dorothy, who is a Physio, has warned me, if and when my knees (and the rest) come back on line, not to go rushing about, but to keep on having lots of rest.   At the moment, the idea of rushing about seems as likely as climbing Everest without my sofa, but who knows.

I would love to get back to walking.  I have always been a great walker, but not once this summer have I even been able to take the little walk down to the pier.  I love to sit and watch the tide come and go.

But i am hanging on to Jehovah's promise that, when his Kingdom is ruling over the earth, "no resident will say 'I am sick'".   And we have the record of how Jesus, as the King of the Kingdom, was able to heal people when he was on the earth.  We know that Jehovah will empower him to do a permanent healing when the time comes.

I still haven't managed to find my householder for Thursday and practise my talk.  But i have sent over a copy of the script (see yesterday's blog) with her sister-in-law, so I am hoping she will ring me if she feels she needs to go through it beforehand.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

My Talk

I have to take my talk to the meeting tomorrow to practise with the sister who is my householder.  So here it is.  I actually have to give it, on the platform of the new Hall, on Thursday night.  As you will see, I have not yet been able to give up the security of a printed script for a minimal outline.  But sooner or later, I will have to.

Rs. p278 par1-3
Study 44:Effective Use of Questions

Setting: No.24, Witnessing to a member of the local Protestant Church

Sue:  Thanks for asking me in. I said last week that I would bring you a brochure that might help to answer your questions.  Its this: “The Divine Name That will Endure Forever”.

HH:  That’s kind of you, but as you know I attend the local church and I spoke to our vicar about my conversation with you, when we talked about God’s name, and he said that you are very wrong to have added God’s name to your Bible.   He said that the name is only in the Old Testament, and anyway, traditionally the Jews do not say or use the name, so Jesus would not have used it.

Sue: Oh. He is right in saying that the Jews do have a tradition of not using the name of God, but if you can spare me five minutes I would like to show you, from the Christian Greek Scriptures, the New Testament, why it is that we believe God’s name should be there.  For example, would you think about these words of Jesus, which he addresses to his Father, Jehovah: (reads John 17:26): "And I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them."  So when faced with a tradition that says we must not make God’s name known, and those words of Jesus saying that he has and will make it known, what ought we to do?

HH:   If we want to follow in Jesus footsteps, it would seem we should make God’s name known too.

Sue.  Yes, that is how we see it.  We wish to make Jehovah’s name known just as Jesus did.  And don’t forget what Jesus said when he left us the Lord’s Prayer. You will know these words well, but let’s read them now.  Would you read them?

HH: (Reads Matthew 6:9): “You must pray, then, this way: “‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified."  

Sue: What was the first thing, the most important thing that Jesus asked us to pray for?

HH: It was the sanctification of God’s name.

Sue. Yes, so Jesus must have used and made known the name Jehovah don’t you think?

HH:  It would seem so, from what he said

Sue.  And also remember that Matthew’s Gospel was written first in Hebrew, and he makes numerous quotations of passages from the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, that contain God’s name. Do you think he would have removed that name?

HH:  No, perhaps not.

Sue.  We don’t believe he would.  So we haven’t removed it from our Bible translation either.  And other writers of the New Testament, or Christian Greek Scriptures, quoted from the Greek Septuagint, which was a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, and fragments of those translations that remain show that they did contain the divine name.  And once again, as they were Christians, following Jesus teaching, do you think they would have hidden, or removed that name?

HH:  No, I don’t think they would.   When you tell me this, it does sound as if Jehovah’s name should be in the New Testament.  But, if it is so clear, why haven’t other Bible translators put God’s name in?  Why is it only you Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Sue. That is an excellent question, and one that I hope this brochure will help to answer.  As you read it, you will see what others, not Jehovah’s Witnesses, have said on the subject. And you will see that we are not the only ones who see that it is wrong to remove God’s name from the Inspired Scriptures.  For example, I wanted to show you this, as it is from a Protestant Publication – The Anglican Theological Review:   In it, a Dr. Walter Lowrie highlighted the need to know God’s name. He wrote: “In human relationships it is highly important to know the proper name, the personal name, of one we love, to whom we are speaking, or even about whom we speak. Precisely so it is in man’s relation to God. A man who does not know God by name does not really know him as a person, has no speaking acquaintance with him (which is what is meant by prayer), and he cannot love him, if he knows him only as an impersonal force.” 

HH:  Thanks, I will read it.

Friday, 7 September 2012


I, along with other blogs, have been asked a series of questions by Dr.Danusha Goska, on her fascinating Save Send Delete blog.

The first question is:  
1.) If you could not be a writer, and you had to be some other artist – a singer, a painter, a mime, a puppeteer – what kind of artist would you be and why? (For Kim and anyone else who is primarily a visual artist who also writes: reverse the question. If you could not be a visual artist, what other art would you choose?)

So, its time for the two brain cells to get another work out. This at least is an easy one for me.  My creative outlets are writing and cooking.   And everyone one of us needs to create, even if not very brilliantly. We were made in Jehovah's image, and He is the Creator.   But if i could be some other artist (and I am going to cheat a bit and say, as well), I would work in cloth.  I would weave, or embroider, or simply create beautiful garments out of beautiful fabrics.  Perhaps I could combine painting, and paint glowing silk pictures as Bea does.

Oddly enough, a parcel arrived for me yesterday morning, and it contained a vibrant silky caftan Bea has made for me.  She knows just what I need for the mornings - something light and easy to get into, until my joints have loosened up enough to be able to have my shower and get dressed.

I have no skills in that direction - either painting or sewing.  Captain Butterfly is the button-sewer-on in our house.   But I would love to have, and very much admire those who do.

I often think of myself in the restored earthly Paradise - and its an "undeserved kindness", so I am not supposing i have got there on merit - and one of the things I picture is sewing at some beautiful tapestry, or even just repairing things, at a large table, in a beautiful room, with big tall windows, looking out over a forest full of Autumn colours, or maybe mysteriously snowy, with lots of other ladies, all of us sisters, working together in perfect happiness and harmony.

"Save Send Delete" is a great title for a novel by the way.  And good titles are not easy to find.

Yesterday was a very bad day arthritis wise, possibly because of eating things I usually wouldn't, as we were entertaining visitors.   But I had a chat to Richard on the phone. He is coming to the Hall on Sunday.  Which makes me so happy.  And I got to the meeting, and am so glad i did.  Not only was the teaching so sustaining, as always, but two young elders both took the time out to say some lovely upbuilding things to me, seeing I was struggling.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Our baby hatched out

There was a shriek from the Captain this morning, and a hurtling about with cameras, as our baby butterfly, the Comma, had gone and hatched out.  He (or she?) had up and left before i had time to start worrying about the right school and getting through those teenage years.

I hope Charles/Charlotte the Comma will have a happy and fulfilled life out there, full of flowers and joy and wonderfulness - and a handsome/beautiful partner.  And many healthy caterpillars of course.

The Channel is a calm blue today, under a kindly September sun.

Dorothy o'South Island left this morning, off on her travels, and we had a bit of an Aramco reunion yesterday as Sue, who was also a long term resident on Planet Expat, came for lunch.  Then Jackie came over in the evening for a Thai takeaway - which Dorothy treated us to.

A nice reminder of old times, but also a reminder of how wonderful retirement can be, as we are all thoroughly enjoying it.    But how quickly it goes.

I gave them each a signed copy of "Old Playgrounds"...

Its the second meeting at our new Hall tonight, and I must get my talk - for next week! - panic panic panic - written.

And the second batch of butterfly members came flying through my letterbox yesterday and I need to get them safely hatched out and on their way.

Monday, 3 September 2012

A Landmark Day

The first meeting at our new Kingdom Hall - and Richard was there, for the first time. But I very much hope not the last.  We had a chat afterwards and he gave me his phone number, so I must ring him this week.  I haven't been able to go on the study for over a month now because I can no longer cope with stairs.

Anyway, wonderful to be in the new Hall, and wonderful to see Richard there.

We then went to the Nicola Benedetti Concert in Worthing - see the Captain's Log - and for a picture of Nicola, who wasn't exactly behind the door when they handed out the good looks.

She can play a mean violin too.

Two expats - plus friend in wheelchair arriving over the next two days - so I have just had to cancel Audrey tomorrow.  I can only cope with so many things in a day at the moment and tomorrow will be shopping and cooking.   It will be great to have an Expat reunion though - we haven't had one for a while, so we are looking forward to seeing them both and catching up. And, no doubt, talking about the desert days.

And then I have to write my talk - to be given on the new stage, in the new Hall - faint...   I remember, years ago, when I was studying with the Witnesses and I did my first public talk at the Broomhill Hall, I heard mummy saying to one of my sisters in the kitchen.  "Sue must be really serious about this. I didn't think there was anything that could make her stand up and speak in public."

And she was right.  I was very serious, and only help from Jehovah's holy spirit could, and can, get me to speak in public.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Driving Miss Maggie

Yesterday morning with Maggie, doing her magazine route and making a start on my October magazines.  We had coffee afterwards in her lovely warm kitchen. She is going to choose some special seats for us at the new Hall on Sunday. She is always there very early, which does help.

She told me of a wonderful dream she had, of being in the Paradise earth, with Don.  She is longing to see him again.

But how tired just that morning out made me. I feel like the little mermaid in the Hans Anderson tale (a larger and more elderly version), who got her wished-for legs, but walking on them felt like walking on knives.  Yup.  That is what walking with my knees is like. I dozed on the bed for a lot of the afternoon, just resting them.  And I climbed Everest again, this time with John Krakauer, and the heartbreaking 1996 disaster teams.

We have two ex-Expats coming to visit next week, and tomorrow is not only the first meeting at the new Kingdom Hall, with - I so much hope - Richard being there for his first meeting - but its also the Nicola Benedetti concert in the afternoon, with Himself and Jackie.

And here is another landmark of old age.  I find that nowadays I much much prefer a matinee performance to going out in the evening.