Monday, 30 December 2013

The Day of A Thousand Phone Calls

Had a long chat with Bea - we talked quite a lot about medical matters, and what the doctor said to us when we had our tubes tilted.   Tom rang to say he would love to come over on Friday. Its been a long time since I saw him.   I had a long chat with Jackie.   And Captain Butterfly rang to update me.  He was called away by the earliest phone call which required him to rush into the nearest telephone box, put his tights on over his underwear, and zoom away as Captain Rescue.  I had to hurtle (slowly) around, abandoning my half-eaten breakfast, making sandwiches for his packed lunch. Thank goodness I had made that cake yesterday.  Butterfly Mark rang to ask if Captain B could come out to play today.  He couldn't, but through no fault of mine. And then my young surgeon rang!  It looks like my operation will be before the Spring.  Fear, fear, dread, dread. At least I now know when to stop my meds.

Will I survive another two hours in the operating theatre?   And the days in the hospital afterwards.  You have to be fit, strong and sturdy to survive in hospital, but, due to some cruel Catch 22, they never send you there when you are.

Anyway, I must be, and am, very grateful for the NHS. And feel rather guilty about all the money it is having to spend on me.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Back to Real Life

Sort of  back to real life anyway - the New Year will interrupt things a bit I suppose, though we are looking forward to the new Sherlock Holmes on the evening of the first.  Can it maintain the brilliance of the first series?   Hope so.

We had a lovely evening at Jackie's last night - smoked salmon, risotto, cheese, grapes and chocolate log. With ice-cream!    A lot has happened since we last saw each other. Some of it very sad. But we enjoyed each other's company, and being alive.   I had to listen in to the meeting this morning, as my chauffeur has taken himself, and his box of sandwiches, off treasure hunting.

And now I need to go and make a carrot cake. I have to wrestle with some brown sugar that seems to have turned to concrete in its container.

Got some lovely pictures from the Oz Branch this morning - and a nice card yesterday from The Roger, asking for an update on my dancing skills.  I have emailed - and assured him that I did give the other girls a chance in this year's Strictly.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Another Year Winds Down

2013 is winding down with stormy weather though its not yet as cold as it should be. I am feeling rather stir-crazy which is hopefully a good sign.  Perhaps the most intense phase of healing is now completing itself and I am getting a bit of energy back.

Can't do much though. The knees and the weather prevent it.   Kind Col chauffered me to the meeting last night, which was a big help. And I got and sent a card from and to Lilian - and I hope I have sent her some encouragement from Jehovah after the tragic year she has had.

We are all in the death zone now... and this is going to be a recurring theme until either we too fall off that edge, or Armageddon comes and Jehovah allows all our faults and failings to be covered by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ and shepherds us through to the new earth, with life "to time indefinite" ahead of us.

I have been re-reading "Tess of the D'Urbervilles".     And rather wish I hadn't.  What an irritating big girl's blouse Angel Clare is.


Jill died on Christmas Day.

We wondered, sadly, as we ate our sandwich lunch at the lagoon,  if it would be her last day.

So now she sleeps in the dreamless sleep of death.  But there is hope because  "a hiding place is the God of ancient time, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Everlasting arms don't go away. They don't fail to catch and hold. So I am sure she remains in Jehovah's memory, every hair of her head numbered. And when the time comes for the resurrection she will wake up on an earth ruled by the law of loving-kindness - an earth ruled by the Kingdom of God, with Jesus as its King.

Maybe she will wake up in her own beautiful rambling garden - with life "to time indefinite" ahead of her.

Jehovah looks for the gold in us, the goodness, the valuable things. And surely there was plenty of gold in Jill.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Just Call me Tiny Tim

I hobbled pathetically around Widewater Lagoon on my crutches this morning, saying wistful TinyTim-like things, such as: "Please sir, Can I have some more?"   No, wait a minute, that was Oliver Twist.

It was such a lovely day. The light!   There was blue sky with fluffy white clouds in one corner and an ominous dark sky in the other, with the low winter sun making everything glow - especially the seagulls. And, for the first time, it was cold enough for December.  We had sandwiches in the car for our Christmas lunch - or at least he did. Chicken sandwiches at that. I no longer eat wheat bread, so I had a yoghurt and a biscuit. And we had a flask of tea.
The beauty of it all made it extra sad that a friend with cancer was taken by ambulance to the hospice yesterday.   This could be her last day...  

I have made a lamb stew for tonight - the Captain helping me by chopping up the root veggies - I am having a bit of an attack at the moment and am not up to much.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Hurricane Winds

The wind apparently reached hurricane strength last night, and it certainly sounded like it.  Its much calmer today, though still grey and rainy.  Captain B valiantly rode out and bought back some shopping, so we won't be reduced to drawing lots to see which of us eats the other.

I was up in the early hours, unable to sleep - arthritis pain.  And the lights were flickering. We had a tray of candles, matches and a torch on standby in the hall. However, thankfully, it was not needed.

I am feeling a bit stir-crazy,and that is perhaps a hopeful sign recoverywise, though the last time the feeling was followed by a bit of relapse.  Time will tell.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Strictly Come Dancing - and Abbey

Abbey won Strictly this year.  She had become our favourite - in fact the Captain and I have fallen in love with her.   She is so graceful.  Born to dance.  She and Alijaz were an inspiring team.  However we divided our votes fairly, as Natalie was also excellent - and we thought her and Artem's Showdance was the best.

We were sorry that Sophie and Brendan didn't get into the final three, as we would have loved to have seen their Showdance too.

Well, that is it for this year.

It is stormier than ever today - the Channel is as wild as we have ever seen it.  I would love to walk on the beach today, braced against the storm. But maybe next winter.  Spent  a fair bit of the morning in calls to the hospital, trying to confirm things, give them answers to questionnaires and find out when I should be thinking of stopping my medications, pre-op...  plus I did a couple of loads of washing and getting us lunch.  The Captain is trapped indoors by the weather.  He had the rest of the chicken with salad and garlic-fried potatoes.

Here are two poetic glimpses of the Captain at Home in our deserty expatworld.  They are verses of course, not poetry.  We used to do our own developing in those pre-historic days.

WHAT COLIN DID    13th December 1985

 by me

Colin and Mark crouch on the floor
Looking through photographic magazines
By the score
More gadgetry to spend their money on
Is what they’re looking for
Or a ten thousand dollar photographic tour
All the goodies that will lure
Monies out of bank accounts
In large amounts
Bank Managers and wives are feeling sore.

Colin, developing photos at the kitchen sink
Framed in the hatch above a shell filled shelf
Seen through a fringe of potted plants
Makes quite a good picture himself.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

It was a Wild and Stormy Night

And looks like being a wild and stormy day.  Wonderful waves on the Channel.  Captain Butterfly took me to Arundel yesterday - but just for afternoon coffee, not for lunch.

We had a dramatic start to our morning, as Butterfly Mark rang early to say he would not be over for coffee as planned - he had collided with a herd of deer while en route!    Or rather, they had collided with him, running and leaping into him as he drove along. Terrifying.  He was OK.   The deer were not. One was killed instantly, and one limped off with the herd.  

I did pray to Jehovah and ask that it would either make a quick recovery or be found quickly.

But what can you do when deer run into your car?   The car was quite badly damaged, but driveable to the garage.  The Captain rushed over to see if Mark needed any help but the AA guy was there already.

Once again, I am thinking what a mess we have got ourselves and the animal creation into.  Animals are full of common sense and cope valiantly with the way we, the children of Adam, have done things, but we can't expect them to deal with roads...  We can't deal with them ourselves, so how can we expect them to?

As our Creator, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, has warned us:  "It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."

Did I ever post my poem about the power of the sea?    If so, I am now posting it for the second time:

Hi Tide
by me

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.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Freight train, freight train

The Channel was roaring like a million freight trains this morning as I sat out on the balcony doing my study for the day.  It had been a stormy night.  We - the congregations worldwide - are now in the Book of Revelation, and sometimes it is like reading the News.

It was a splendid morning - there was a big bank of cloud on the horizon with the winter sun coming and going behind, and outlining the top right hand edge of the cloud in gold.

A quiet day. Chatted to Bea on the email and Audrey on the phone.   The Captain and I made an apple, quince and medlar crumble, and he went out and caught some shopping while I did the washing and ironing.

I am keeping ahead of all the cards and letters - and that is a first.  There are plusses as well as minusses to being housebound.

Here is a good joke from Bea.  Context:  a health and safety survey has been done of doctors surgeries, and some of them have failed - spectacularly from the sound of it.

So, the joke:

A friend says to her neighbour - "Did you hear that maggots were found in a doctor's surgery?"

Friend replies -  "I don't believe it!   How did they get past the receptionist?"

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

My first ever comment The Guardian.   There is a discussion going on about the benefit cuts and the bedroom tax, and it has taken a sidestream into a discussion about the Salvation Army. Which reminded me of something in a George Orwell I have recently re-read, so I commented as follows:

George Orwell ends "Down and Out in Paris and London" with these words:
"Still I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army...."

The paragraph ends "nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal in a smart restaurant. That is a beginning."

Today was taken up with medical matters - two rather unpleasant and painful tests - oh joy.  It was grey and rainy all day - there is a name I have now forgotten for when the weather is in sympathy with the trials of the heroine -and if I could only remember what it was, I would have used it here.

And we were woken in the early hours as Col got a call out to a rescue.  So I was bumbling sleepily about making him sandwiches.  Thankfully I had two slices of bread left with which to do so - otherwise I too would have been needing a rescue.

The Misper (missing person to peasants such as myself) was found, safe and well.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Wild Sea and The Winter Storms

The Channel is stormy today - as the sun rose there was ominous grey cloud underlined by a thin band of red and the wild sea underneath. Everything was dancing in the storm.    I thanked Jehovah, the Creator of it all, for making such a wonderful world.  And I asked Him too, if Col and I (and all those we love) can be here on the earth a thousand years from now, able to thank Him from a perfect heart.

Col took me to the meeting yesterday.  I felt very very tired. Its hard to get comfortable with these knees - and would be even more difficult without them (I must not be ungrateful!).   There will be no meetings this week as there is a two-day Assembly at Haysbridge.  I won't be able to go.  Unless...

The Captain also took me to Arundel for lunch.  It was a grey old day, but he still got some photos.  I think that was the day he got some lovely swan portraits.  I noticed two had arrived as I sat and did my studying by the glass wall over the lake. We met up with Terry.  He too was lunching, and he and I chatted after he had eaten and I had studied.  And the Captain gave him a lift back, which saved him getting very wet, as it was pouring down when we left.

Having lived somewhere where it doesn't really rain, I am  one of the few people who likes the rain. I like all the weathers - am only scared of ice because of my age.

We had a long Skype chat with Anne of the Cape.  If only she lived closer...  I can't imagine me being able to travel again. And I would be scared of travelling with metal knees anyway - I would have a problem at every x-ray.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Cows in Space

I am reading H.G.Wells "The First Men on the Moon".   Its not one of his best, but its quite interesting what they are finding there - including a herd of moon cows, rather like gigantic slugs.  Our heroes (the first men on the moon) have been captured by the Moonmen - and given some mooncow to eat - and have now escaped, killing one of the poor old Moon guys in the process.

I am up in the early hours as I can't sleep. Col kindly chauffered me to the meeting last night.  We have run out of calendars and are going to try and get a couple more for Jean.

I got down to a lot of end of year letters today - replying to the ones that have come.   It is grey and rainy this morning, in contrast to the sunny days we have been having.  Not cold for December though.

We had a long Skype chat with Dorothy of South Island this morning - it was evening for her of course. And we said a virtual hello to Simba the hunting cat.   I got a baleful sideways look from the mighty hunter that made me glad there was an ocean or two between us.  He would make mincemeat of those poor old mooncows.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


I just remembered I am part of a blogtour this week and must answer some questions in my blog!

Penny answered the questions last week. You can find her answers here:

So, here goes:


Oh dear.  Can I plead the Fifth Amendment to any of these.  In theory, the revising of my Dive Thriller which was called "Small Island", but which now has to find another title.  It did find an agent some years ago, but she finally decided against it as, apparently, it doesn't fit easily into publishing categories.  I based it on an Agatha Christie - "And Then There Were None".  Only this is a dive island - a small, newly opened island - and, one by one, the divers begin to disappear.   I had intended them to get murdered, but that made me uneasy as I have been to so many small dive islands with the Aramco Shoal. And even though I was very careful not to base any of my characters on anybody I know, it still felt wrong. So I had them disappear, mysteriously, instead.   The wimpy heroine is me. And I hope I have found a rather clever way to get round the need for a feisty, tough, and large chested Hollywood heroine.  Time will tell.


Apparently, according to the Agent, it doesn't really have a genre. I am not sure why.  I have tried to make it readable, scarey, but funny too. And keep my readers guessing about Who Done It to the end.  I didn't know myself till halfway through, so I don't think they will be able to guess.


We all have something creative we do. We are made in Jehovah's image, flawed though we are at the moment, and He is a Creator.  I can't paint, or sculpt or any such thing, but I love creating with words.  I started out writing poems many years ago as I began to realise how short our lives are and I wanted to catch some of the moments in word as they flew by. I have had a handful of poems published down the years - the latest when Fantastic Books asked me to contribute to their anthology "Ours".
Then I progressed to short stories.  One is soon to be published - by Fantastic.  And now I am trying thrillers.


At the moment, I have no writing process as such - but should find one.   I am retired, though as I am a Jehovah's Witness, not retired from the preaching work, which is urgent and compelling.  I do try to write something to someone every day to try and get across what the Bible actually says (as opposed to what we have been told it says).  I can't go door to door at the moment as I am convalescing between operations. Writing takes quite an amount of energy, and I am hoping to get some back when my Knew Knees are finally up and running.

Thanks so much for reading my blog - and do leave a comment/question if you have any.

Next Week, joining the blog tour will be the following fascinating bloggers:

COLIN KNIGHT   (aka Captain Butterfly) is a diver, a photographer, a writer, and many other things.

JANET DEAN is a writer, a painter, and many other things too- so many that she has three blogs at the moment.

What a waste of sherry!

Hyacinth Bucket (after a phone call from her sister Violet - "the one with a Mercedes, a sauna, and room for a pony" - who is upset because her husband has passed out after drinking a whole bottle of sherry):
"What a waste of sherry. Think of the trifles she could have made."

Yes, I have been watching some "Keeping Up Appearances" to take my mind off things, as I have finally gone down with Col's cold.

Had a long talk with Audrey- butterfly Audrey, not my sister Audrey - this morning. She is facing her first knee operation.  No date as yet, but she has started the preliminaries, so its close. She is going to a small specialist unit, so I think she will have a much better time post-op and get out much quicker.  I hope so anyway.

Jackie is back.  Hurray!  But, on the other hand, she has had a traumatic holiday owing to the fact that the husband of the close friend she was staying with died while she was there.  The only silver lining is that the bereaved friend could not have had a better or more stalwart helper on hand than Jackie.

We plan to get together as soon as I am no longer coughing and sneezing.

Captain B came back today laden with some of my favourite things, including chocolate ice-cream. And he hates food shopping.    And he doesn't much like chocolate ice-cream either.  He is out-marveling Captain Marvel at the moment.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Brain about the size of the Tip of a Ballpoint Pen

And, no, I am not talking about my brain, for reasons which will become clear if you read on.   We were discussing the Monarch butterfly at the Hall today.  It has a brain about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen and yet that brain is so complex that the butterfly has the ability to migrate nearly 3,000 kilometres from Canada to a particular forest in Mexico - where it is known as the Mariposa (a beautiful name for a beautiful creature). It uses the sun to help it navigate. And its brain is designed with the ability to compensate for the sun's movement.

This is something beyond any computer we have yet to design.  So can't we clearly see that this is not the work of a blind watchmaker, but the work of the Grand Creator, the Grand Designer, Jehovah?

And, given that I am the sort of person who can't find the way up their garden path to their own front door without having to stop and ask passing butterflies for directions, I am not going to speculate about the size of my brain.  I shall plead the Fifth Amendment.
Captain Butterfly is back from a dig - no hoard today - but he has brought back a treasure of photos from Chanctonbury Ring.   I want to appropriate one for the blog.   Linda came over bringing home-made mince pies and biscuits (she is a wonderful cook), and flowers for me, and some salad.   I am so glad she has ended up living within visiting distance - the only one from Planet Expat who has.  

Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Winter Sky

Col took me to Arundel for lunch today. And what an amazingly beautiful winter day it was. The sky!  The concentrated Winter sunlight.  Arundel was busy - there was a festival on. And the Restaurant was full of parents and noble grandparents with small children.

Col posted the butterfly memberships and the butterfly calendars this morning. And Linda is coming over for coffee tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Winter Storms

The North of England and the East Coast have been badly hit by storms.  So far, apart from a rather restless Channel and moody sky yesterday, they haven't arrived here.  In fact it is such a sunny morning I have had to draw the curtains - I think I had better make Himself up a sandwich lunch and get my cushions out on the balcony so I can do my studying there, and get a bit of sun.

The butterfly memberships have arrived - not nearly as many as over the summer and autumn, but we still have a small increase, so the Butterfly Board is pleased.  At least Col won't need to hire a team of porters to get these to the Post Office.   I have done all the entering and suchlike and now just have to make up the packages.

Col drove me to the Meeting last night.  A wonderful meeting, of course. We are nearly through the Christian Greek Scriptures, and we will soon be back in Genesis.

We are ending the day by watching the programme about wildlife in Burma/Myanmar.  It is both wonderful and terrible.  Terrible because of the trade in animal parts which is intensifying.  The camera crew got caught up in a fire almost certainly started by poachers.

If we did not have the sure promise, from Jehovah, the Great Purposer, that he will "bring to ruin those ruining the earth", I would be feeling completely hopeless now.  As it is, I have every confidence.  But it does show how close Armageddon is, as the earth is so close to ruin. And how urgent the preaching work is.  People need to know about the incoming Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Fragile Edge

More sad news today.   An old friend who lost their partner suddenly and shockingly a few months ago has just lost her brother as well.  Her sister rang today to tell me, and we had a long talk.  They will all be setting off for Canada for the funeral.   It seems we are in the Death Zone now... getting closer to that edge.

"Fragile Edge" is the title of a book written by Maria Coffey about the death of her partner Joe Tasker, who died on an ascent of Everest along with Peter Boardman.   They were both so young. It is a book well worth reading.  I have just re-read it.  It tells of the cost of mountaineering, in young lives, and in the pain and loss for the families left behind.

A quiet day - both of us housebound - me by my recalcitrant knees, and Captain B by a bad cold - think: Two Bears with Sore Heads.   We made an apple crumble together with these lovely apples from a friend's ancient orchard, including some medlars and quince.  The Captain chopped and peeled and I made the crumble topping.  It turned out well.

I also tried a new stir fry chicken recipe.  It turned out - and I am quoting here -"OK".

Monday, 2 December 2013

Panning For Gold

The Circuit Overseer has just given us two more wonderful wonderful talks.  The second one was based on 1 John 3:19,20, which says: “By this we shall know that we originate with the truth, and we shall assure our hearts before him as regards whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things."

And I want to say something about the image the Speaker used to explain what is meant by "greater than our hearts".  He was helping us to get Jehovah's perspective on things.

Imagine a prospector - in the Klondyke maybe - panning for gold.  He has sieve after sieve full of stones and rubble, which he discards as he looks for gold. Then he finds some. Maybe its only a tiny nugget - but that is very precious to him. He takes it, polishes it and treasures it, leaving all the rubble behind at the stream.

Jehovah searches all hearts. And he is looking for the good in us.  He wants to find something that will make him think, yes, if I took this person, and put them in the restored earthly Paradise, and gave them a thousand years (the length of the Millennial reign) of perfect teaching, what a wonderful and valuable person I will have.

We can get so disheartened by our faults and failings, our past mistakes, and selfishness, that we could end up losing heart and giving up.  We need to see things as God sees them.   He looks for the gold in us, and discards the rest.

He made an interesting point.  Jehovah, who is perfect, is not a perfectionist.  We, imperfect as we are, tend to be. We expect perfection from others, and maybe from ourselves too.  But Jehovah knows and understands just how imperfect we are.

Psalm 103:14 says:  "For he himself well knows the formation of us, Remembering that we are dust."  

He knows how we were made, what fragile creatures we are, and he knows the fatal damage that was done to us by what happened in Eden.  He want everyone of us back safely, but he will never violate the free will he gave us. We have to turn to him, and accept his help.

Jacks came round for supper last night.  We had an Abel & Cole chicken pie, with mash, leeks and carrots, followed by ice-cream (rhubarb - rather strange), local cheeses (including a lovely Sussex Brie) and choc mints with coffee.   We got the cheese from the new Farm Shop at Crossbush.  

We all lamented our ageing decrepit states, and had a good laugh as well.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Elijah and the Rider of the Clouds, the Bringer of the Rain

The Circuit Overseer gave us a lovely talk Thursday night - how can I do it justice in the blog?  For one thing, I wish that Izzy, my virtual friend (is "virtual" the right word?  I mean we only know each other through the internet) could have been in the seat beside me to hear it. We were learning from the example of one of his faithful ancestors, the prophet Elijah.

The Speaker first set the scene for us - and although I have read this account many times - he brought out so many things, so much meaning.

At this time the Israelites had become divided - into the 2-tribe and the 10-tribe Kingdom.   And King Ahab was ruling over the 10 tribe kingdom.  He was not a good king, and had married Jezebel - a worshipper of Baal - who had brought the cruel practices of Baal worship right into the congregation.

Jehovah, through his prophet, is going to try and help bring the people back to their senses.   He sets it out clearly and simply at 1 Kings 18:21:  "Then E‧li′jah approached all the people and said: “How long will you be limping upon two different opinions? If Jehovah is the [true] God, go following him; but if Ba′al is, go following him.” And the people did not say a word in answer to him."

So - make up your minds.  And then, because Jehovah always makes things clear and simple, he wants us to listen, understand and obey, he empowers Elijah to demonstrate the facts of the matter.

Elijah first appears in the record when he is sent by Jehovah to announce chastisement upon Israel for their sins. His first reported words are: “As Jehovah the God of Israel before whom I do stand is living.” Elijah points out that Jehovah the living God of Israel has decreed that no rain or dew will occur for a period of years, except at Elijah’s word. This time period proves to be three years and six months. (1Ki 17:1; Jas 5:17).  And here is the point of the blog title.  Apparently Baal was known as "The Rider of the Clouds" and "The Bringer of the Rain".  Israel was worshipping "The Bringer of the Rain" instead of Jehovah - and they got no rain at Jehovah's word.

That could have told them something.   However, if you read 1 Kings 18:21-40, you will see that Jehovah went on to make it absolutely clear who the true God is.  Jehovah wants us to know the truth, it is Satan who wants to deceive us.

I hope to come back to this talk - blogwise.  And I need to keep thinking about it too.   It drew us all even closer to our Creator, I think, seeing the tender care he took of his prophet.

Talking of tender care, Captain Butterfly sacrificed a whole days photographing in the sun to take me out for lunch at Arundel.   The light was so wonderful - I hope that an Autumnal picture will appear at the head of this blog in time.  We had a sort of Colcannon, with a fried egg on top.  Properly fried, not done chef-style, i.e. it was cooked right through, which is the way I like my eggs.

I had 3 projects for the day. To get my Watchtower study done - done at Arundel, in the car while Capt.B did his photography.  There was a concert on in the restaurant, so I couldn't study there as usual, and missed out on my lovely mug of frothy coffee.  To get my reply to Kathryn finished and posted. Done. And to blog. Which I am at least doing now.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Bricks without much Straw

What to write about?  What I watched on daytime telly?  What I made us for lunch yesterday?  (Scrambled eggs on toast - and making that exhausted me and I had to go and lie down!)  Captain Butterfly nobly went out and hunted down a load of shopping and brought it back to our lair.  And he chauffered me to the meeting last night.

It is the week of the Circuit Overseer visit - so most of us in the congregation are very busy.  Not me sadly, as I can't get out.   But the first talk last night was wonderful. The theme for the week will be about the condition of our figurative heart - as Jehovah is a reader of hearts and what he reads there is so important to him - and to us.

We were reminded of David's and Solomon's prayers for a pure heart, and an obedient heart.

Our problems all started from that one act of disobedience when our first parents decided they did not want to follow Jehovah's standards of good and bad, but set their own - be "like God".  In doing so, they cut themselves and us (their unborn children) off from their Source of life - and of course, they left the law of loving-kindness.

Its a damp grey November day this morning - hard to tell where grey-blue Channel meets grey-blue sky. Its very lovely though - a jewel of a planet.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday Morning, and the bright Morning Star

Both knees seem to be getting worse at the moment - I hope its just that the bad knee - sorry "unoperated" knee (the physios were very insistent on not using the words "good" and "bad" -which is interesting in a sort of Newspeak way) - is pulling the other knee down, as it gets worse and worse.

I can't make it to the Meeting this morning as my Chauffeur has gone off treasure-hunting - he left early, with sandwiches.   Someone would give me a lift if I asked, but I am limited in the cars I can manage to get in and out of at the moment, so I will listen in on the phone link.   I told Maggie and Audrey - my fellow denizens of Old Crocks Corner  - not to expect me in person, but that I would be hearing their answers.

We had a lovely supper at Jacks last night - Thai chicken curry, hot mince pies with cream (yoghurt for me), and a nice cheeseboard (including a goats cheese for me).   We left quite early though as I was in a lot of pain and needed to lie down.

Every day there is something so terrible on the news. Apparently a disabled grandmother was walking home from the shops when she was set on by a gang of feral youngsters who verbally abused her (pretty much telling her she was a "useless mouth" - if they had had the vocab), beat her and kicked her in the head.  She is now terrified to go out.  The shape of things to come...

But, as we are trying to tell you as we go house to house, this is the darkest hour before the dawn. And a wonderful dawn it is going to be - right here on the earth.

 “Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts. For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Who or what is the “daystar”? The word “daystar” occurs just once in the Bible, and it is similar in meaning to “morning star.” Revelation 22:16* calls Jesus Christ “the bright morning star.” At certain seasons of the year, such stars are the last ones to rise on the eastern horizon. They rise just before the sun appears, and they thus herald the dawn of a new day. Peter used the word “daystar” to refer to Jesus after He received Kingdom power. At that time, Jesus rose in all the universe, including our earth! As the Messianic Daystar, he heralds the dawning of a new day, or era, for obedient mankind.

*Revelation 22:16:  ‘I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you people of these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star.’”

Thursday, 21 November 2013


Either there is a very large ship on the far horizon, or the Isle of Wight has come loose and is drifting down the Channel. I suppose I will find out on the lunchtime news.  For the first time in a year of being housebound, I am feeling a little stir-crazy. Does this mean I am starting to get better?

The Captain would have taken me to Arundel for lunch to alleviate my symptoms, but its the meeting at the Hall tonight, and I know I can only manage one outing a day.

We got the distressing news last night that one of my brothers-in-law has been rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke. Hopefully he will be out of hospital and back home today.

How did we all get so old?    Only we we aren't that old.   Is seventy or eighty years enough time in this lovely world, this awe-inspiring universe?  Our lives are tragically short at the moment. And every generation has gone through this terrible decline.

What I want for all of us is expressed perfectly in Psalm 37 (and please note it says "the righteous", not "the self-righteous".  The thought of living for ever on an earth full of the self-righteous... shudder...):

"The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it."

"And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be.  But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. "

Our exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.  Its not only that there will be no more war - a miracle in itself- there won't even be an unkind word or unkind thought then.

After all, where do hatreds and wars come from?

I am hoping a picture of a small fishing boat, surrounded by birds, will arrive at  the head of this blog in time.  It appeared close to shore sometime after the Isle of Wight (or whatever it was) had sailed out of view. I am just emailing Captain B to put it on his To-do list, after he has finished being so grimly busy with some paperwork.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Its all ended in tears

The climb of Annapurna, I mean.  And I thought it wouldn't, as I knew that, amazingly, no-one was killed on this climb. But the two who reached the summit - Herzog and Lachenal - lost their fingers and toes to frostbite.  And had harrowing weeks of being carried back, in terrible pain, over rough terrain, with the medic amputating bits of them, without anaesthetic, as they went.

Can it be worth it?  Even for a first climb?

Lachenal did try to get them to turn back before they got to the Summit, which is clearly what they should have done. But Herzog would not. And Lachenal would not leave him. Then Herzog lingered on the Summit, thinking beautiful thoughts - though Lachenal kept urging him to go. Though I think frostbite was inevitable once they hadn't turned back when they should.

I am looking forward to reading another view of this climb (I have the book in my hospital stash).  I am guessing from what I have read so far that Herzog found it worthwhile, but Lachenal did not.

An amazing achievement though - and to come back without leaving anyone dead on the mountain is quite something with a mountain like Annapurna.

I am in the middle of a painful arthritis flare-up and have had to return to my zimmer frame.I can't even make Col's sandwiches today.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Toiling up Annapurna

This time with the very first expedition to get up there - the Maurice Herzog one.  In fact, the first climbing book I ever read (in Readers Digest form) was his account of the expedition.  I don't think that, as a child, I understood a lot of it, but found it fascinating.

So interesting to be reading it again.  At the moment its all a little bit RumDoodle, as we can't actually find Annapurna. We are setting off in what we hope is the right direction on the next page.  How can something so big be so hard to find?

Explorers are amazing and impressive - and so completely different from homebody me.  Still as long as they don't mind towing my couch along behind them.

Col chauffered me to the meeting today.  Wonderful wonderful teaching as ever, though I had a bit of ordeal with my first answer as neither mike seemed to be working...  one minute I had to shout, the next speak softly. By the time we got it fixed, I had pretty much forgotten what I had wanted to say.

Friday, 15 November 2013

My Talk

This was my talk in the Ministry School last night. David kindly put me in the small school, which, as I sit at the back, is an easy hop without crutches, and involves neither step nor slope (as the main platform does).

I was especially nervous about this. I would have written it differently had I known from that start that Natasha was to be my householder. I would have said less myself, and given her more to say, as she is confident in the school.  However, we did it. And David was very kind about it. And Carol helped me there and back from my seat.

James 3:17,18

Study No 19.: Use of Bible encouraged

Setting 3:  Making the first return visit on someone who showed interest

Sue:  Hello Natasha, its good to see you again, and thanks  for asking me in.  Do you remember  the question you asked me when we talked on your doorstep last week.

N:  Yes, I do remember asking you how Bible teaching can help us, as it's such an old-fashioned book.  We live in a very different world nowadays.

Sue:  And I have been thinking how best to answer that because, yes, if the Bible is a book  written by men then it would certainly be out of date by now.  But I want you to look at this claim it makes - you don't have a Bible do you - so would you read it from my Bible.

N:   (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."    

Sue:  Now that is quite a claim isn't it.  All Scripture is inspired by God and it completely equips us for every good work.  So, if that claim is true, then the Bible contains advice from our Creator, Jehovah, the very source of wisdom.  So I thought we might look together at these verse (James 3:17,18):  "But the wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical.  Moreover, the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace." The Bible teaches us to be chaste, to be peaceable, to be reasonable, to be full of good fruits, to be impartial, not to be prejudiced.  And aren't they all qualities that the world needs right now?

N:  Certainly, but how can the Bible teach us to be like that?

Sue:  To be chaste really means to be wise from the heart, that is to have taken Jehovah's standards of good and bad into our heart and to be doing our best to act on them.  I think Proverbs 3:7 sums it up quite well.  Could you read it for us?

N: (Reads Proverbs 3:7):"Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad."

Sue:  Do you see the point being made there.  Whose moral standards, whose wisdom, should we follow?

N:  Well, its saying Jehovah's - and not to trust in our own wisdom.

Sue: That is exactly the point. The wisdom from above.  That is why we need to study the Bible to find out what God's standards are.    And to give you an example, we talked of the wisdom from above being impartial - it does not make partial distinctions.  Have you ever thought how Bible teaching could help us to be impartial?   For example, it tells us this:  (reads Acts 17: 26)  "And he made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of men". He made out of one man every nation of men. We are all the children of Adam.  Doesn't it follow then that we are all brothers and sisters, that we should have been one united loving family.

N:  Yes, if that's true.

Sue:  But think how the world and its wisdom has got us all divided up by race, by nationality, by religion, by social class, in so many ways.  Isn't it this clear Bible teaching about our origins that can counteract that?  For example, when we go door to door with the Bible message, we go to every door. We don't target some people, and leave others out. Godly wisdom teaches us that everybody needs to hear the Bible's message.  And what about peacefulness?  Do you think that religions are known for being peaceful?

N.  Not really, to be honest.  I think religion is often the cause of wars.

Sue:  Yes, that is sadly true.  But isn't that because, whatever those religions may claim, they are not teaching or following Godly wisdom.  Jehovah tells us to be "no part" of the world, to take no part in its divisive wars and politics. And, importantly, this peaceableness should start within our family and within the congregation family too.   God's wisdom is said to be "full of mercy", so we are taught to be patient with each other, being slow to take offence, and quick to forgive.  And if we are like that, aren't we showing that we are paying attention to our Creator?

N.  Yes, if that is really what the Bible teaches, then I can see why you feel we need to hear what it says.  Marriages don't seem to last these days.  I think I'd be scared to even think of getting married, as it seems impossible to make them last.

Sue. Yes, that is so true.  And just to show you how we can be helped right now by learning  "the wisdom from above", could I call by next week and bring you a small publication that highlights all Jehovah's advice for a happy family life?  He is, after all, the Maker of marriage.  I could bring you a Bible too.

N.  Yes, do.  I am usually at home in the mornings. 


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

News from the Philippines

Thankfully, Clody and family are well. He emailed me today. But here is some sad news from the internet (various places):

"Sadly, 32 of our brothers & sisters from Tacloban City (the worst-hit place) are confirmed dead from super typhoon Haiyan, many are still missing and 1 Kingdom Hall destroyed".

" Communication is very difficult as power lines and cell sites are down. The circuit overseers are visiting the brothers and local elders are caring for their sheep. Tomorrow a brother from the Branch Committee will go and visit the Taclooban area to see what needs to be done."

"An as if the disaster last month was not enough, then came the super typhoon badly hitting Central Visayas that brought untold deaths and destruction especially in the Samar and Leyte provinces facing the Pacific Ocean. The people were warned and they were ready for the strong wind but were unprepared for the storm surge creating waves 10 to 15 feet high, This is first time that people here in the Philippines experienced that problem and those living by the seashore suffered the worst tragedy.... Sad to say that 26 brothers and sisters died in Leyte not to speak about their houses destroyed. Some escaped to higher grounds 3 days before the super typhoon had first land touchdown in Eastern Samar and Tacloban City in Leyte.
Now the branch organized 5 truckloads of relief** goods to the distributed in Samar and Leyte but we do not how long it will take to reach the affected areas. Some of the roads have yet to be cleared due to debris like fallen trees blocking the highways

We all hope and pray that our brothers and sisters there (and all who have died) are held safe in "the everlasting arms" until the time comes for them to wake from the dreamless sleep of death. And we must pray that the relief gets through.  There seems little infrastructure left in the places hit by the storm.  

And when they do wake, the world will be coming back into a perfect balance once again, as the Kingdom of God - the heavenly government for whose coming Jesus taught us to pray - will be in charge. And we will be ruled by the law of loving kindness - and awed by the power of nature, but no longer afraid of it.

Today - as this is supposed to be my diary- what did I do?  Three loads of washing - some tidying and dusting - and my studies, out on the balcony in the Autumn sun.   Captain Butterfly and I plan to watch the last episode of Poirot tonight - the very last as (spoiler alert), he dies.

Audrey rang about the calendars and to ask me if I had seen the sunset last night.  I hadn't as I had retired to a darkened bedroom with the worst headache of my life.  Don't often get them these days either.   However, the Captain just told me he photographed it, so I might ask for a photo for this blog.

Its an interesting, and lovely, sunset over the Channel tonight.  Bands and bands of clouds being edged with pink, and a calm blue Channel underneath.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The books begin to arrive

What have I been doing - to feel so exhausted?  I think the answer is "not sleeping well".

We had a brother down from Bethel who gave us a special talk on Saturday night, followed by sandwiches, tea and cakes.   Col chauffered me there and back, but wouldn't come.   The talk "Friends and Followers" was angled to make us think about what we read in the Bible - about how extraordinary Jesus' life was. We read through the Inspired Scriptures constantly, so it is easy to become so familiar with them that we forget that.

I didn't make it to the meeting on Sunday, but I did listen in on the telephone lines.  I have just emailed a brother in the Philippines, hoping to find out he and his family are OK, after the recent disaster. The worst tropical storm in recorded history apparently! tells me that the brothers are already there, helping.

Linda came over Sunday afternoon for tea, cakes, and a chat.   I wasn't able to get to the morning meeting, but listened in on the phone.  The little bit of walking about - on crutches - that I did at the Hall on Saturday night seemed to cripple me.  I woke up hardly able to move.

The books for my next operation and convalescence have begun to arrive and are being stored, tantalisingly, at the bottom of my wardrobe.  A couple of Gerda Charles - a marvelous writer, long out of print.   And three climbing books, with, hopefully, more to come. I can't now remember what I ordered.  I want to go and read them all now now now. But I mustn't. If I remember it rightly, the first two weeks I am back, I can't do anything, beyond get myself in and out of bed, and to the loo, so I need them then.

I will need to be whisked up to the top of Annapurna, or back in time with Gerda Charles, who evokes her life in Jewish lower-middle class, provincial England, in the first half of the last century in magical words. There is so much bad writing about nowadays, that the good shines like a beacon.  And good writing can take you away from the pain too.


Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Schemes of Mice and Men...

Robert Burns would have been able to say "I told you so" last night - and probably in a wonderful poetic way too - as our schemes for supper went "agley".  Jackie came for supper, and we had planned to order a takeaway from the newly vamped Indian restaurant round the corner.   But, we couldn't get through to them on the phone. They were either engaged, or not answering.

So we gave up and went back to our usual "Lemon Grass".   We got straight through - and the order arrived at our door 20 minutes later.  And the food was excellent as always.  The restaurant is run by Thais, and the delivery men seem to be Eastern European - usually Polish I think. And it all works with charm and efficiency.

One time they were deeply apologetic because their delivery van had broken down, so we went up to collect it.  Those were my glory days when I could drive and walk.   And when I made my little joke about how they should get a Tuk-Tuk, they laughed a lot (even though they had probably heard it 50 times that evening).

As I said, charm and efficiency.  And, of course, tasty Thai food.  I think we will be faithful to them, takeaway wise, in future.

I actually slept the night through, but it wasn't all that relaxing as I dreamt we were fleeing from a tsunami.  Col was on a beach, on his mobile phone, with his back to the sea, and the sea began to recede and we were shouting "Run, a tsunami is coming."  We took refuge in a tower, in a completely flat landscape, and...

Once again, I wonder why I do this to myself.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Search for a Householder

Jay rang to say she couldn't make it next Thursday so I had to search round at the meeting last night to find a householder - and Gay's daughter kindly agreed to stand in. We hope to practise it Sunday after the meeting, but I am now worrying about how I am going to get there on Sunday, as Captain B has a treasure hunt on.

We have a special talk at the Hall tomorrow evening, followed by tea and cakes.  So maybe we can get together than and practise it.  

It has been quite a fraught morning with this monster typhoon hitting the Philippines. I hope my brothers and sisters there are all safe. They have only just been through the earthquake. And we have been phoning back and forth re the son of a friend who lives there - till he managed to contact his brother and us and ask us to let his mum know they are all ok. Thank God.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


I couldn't sleep last night. Since my hospital stay, I seem to have lost the knack. And so I found myself watching a Bollywood movie in the early hours.  It was called Pakeezah, and means "Pure of heart".  And I loved it.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the Friday evening Bollywood movie when we were in Expatworld.

The heroines are so lovely and feminine. They don't, or didn't back then, have that Hollywood there-has-been-a-terrible-accident-in-an-embalming-parlour look.   And I love the dancing and singing.

There was an apple pudding recipe posted on my fb site this morning - it used six apples.  And I have six apples left from the Captain's last picking.  So I made it.  Its rather nice.

Then Captain Butterfly took me for my weekly outing to the Arundel Wetland Reserve. The light was wonderful. We lunched - him off pork, me off veggie chile - then he left me with my mug of foamy coffee and my studies while he went off to do some filming.

I found a voice from the past in my mailbox the other day, which was a lovely surprise, taking me back to the days of Nabbs.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Cyril the Lemming

The Speaker at the Hall gave us two memorable illustrations, one being Cyril the Lemming.   He described a cartoon showing the (now discredited, I think) picture of a whole herd of lemmings throwing themselves over a steep cliff. One, though, has stopped right at the edge, and is looking thoughtfully around. The caption read:  "This was when Cyril realised he was different from the other lemmings."

For the second illustration, the Speaker reminded us of the windmill gnomes that used to be on (some) peoples' front lawns. The little gnome held a windmill, and at times it would look as if his arms would turn vigorously so that he would appear to be twirling the windmill.  Of course, it was the wind turning the windmill, which then turned the arms.  He was at the mercy of every wind that blew.

The point of the illustrations is of course to remind us not to be at the mercy of every wind that blows; to be different from "the world" - and not to head right over the cliff with the crowd. So it means trusting in Jehovah with all our heart, keeping on learning his law, and sticking with it.  And swimming upstream, against the current, to the end of our lives, or to the end of this system of things - whichever comes first.
We were also reminded of how lovely the world is, how wonderful the creation is, when we read these words from Job, when Jehovah asks:

"Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth?
Tell [me], if you do know understanding.
Who set its measurements, in case you know,
Or who stretched out upon it the measuring line?
Into what have its socket pedestals been sunk down,
Or who laid its cornerstone,
 When the morning stars joyfully cried out together,
And all the sons of God began shouting in applause?"

And of course, this, from Psalm 19:

"The heavens are declaring the glory of God;
And of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.
One day after another day causes speech to bubble forth,
And one night after another night shows forth knowledge.
There is no speech, and there are no words;
No voice on their part is being heard."

Without words, the creation tells us every day and every night of the qualities of its Grand Creator.

There was another rainbow today - we have had a cold but sunny morning, followed by intermittent rain - and wonderful big waves on the Channel.

I spent most of yesterday struggling away trying to do my talk for the Ministry School.  I don't have to deliver it till next week, but my householder, needed to see it today. Its far from brilliant, but its a subject that I think would be easier to address in a public talk, rather than a five minute dialogue.

A flock of butterfly memberships came through the letterbox yesterday, so that is Monday taken care of.

Friday, 1 November 2013

A Rainy Autumn Day

Raining yesterday, Captain Butterfly was not able to get out into the countryside and photograph things...  aargh.  Trapped indoors with a bear with a sore head.  Though I must admit it was very nice to have him here all day, working away at the next computer. And he is busy de-frosting the freezer at the moment. What a hero! He did get an outing in the afternoon as I gave the poor guy a vast shopping list.

Its overcast this morning, its been raining, and will apparently be pouring down tomorrow.  The sky is full of clouds, dark grey at the horizon and the Channel is such a pale blue its almost white. It all looks lovely.

The gallant Captain chauffered me door to door to the Kingdom Hall for the meeting last night. We - the congregations world wide - started a new study - one of the brochures:"Who is doing God's will today?", and we are going through the Christian Greek Scriptures once again, book by book.   I wish I had thought to note where I started all those years ago, as I would know how many times I have read the complete Bible.

I never read it through even once in my Catholic Convent years.  I can see why now, as had we read this:    “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth.  You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them....", wouldn't our religion - the Catholicism of the Fifties (I cannot speak for the Catholicism of Now) - have come to pieces in our hands?   It was very statue-based. We prayed to That Statue for this, and to This Statue for that.

Well, I am more grateful than I know how to say that the God of Abraham sent his witnesses to my door. And feel bad that I still can't go door to door myself. Grateful I can get to the meetings though. I now manage to stand for the opening song and prayer, and for the song in the middle, but I have to stay seated for the closing song and prayer.  And when my recovery seems slow and I get depressed I must remember that before the op,  I wasn't able to stand at all during the meetings, and wasn't even able to make it for the last pre-op week.  So I need to note whatever progress I make.

As I hobbled on crutches into the Hall last night, one of my brothers said: "You are hurtling along now!"   I glowed with pride.  So watch out Usain Bolt, your gold medal reign may soon be over (as long as I can persuade the surgeon to install the kneejet engines during my next op).

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Bonfire

They lit the bonfire - early yesterday morning.  It was still burning last night and will still be smouldering now I guess. Some kids let off fireworks on the Green at startling intervals.  I can't think what I did yesterday, apart from my studying, and making a carrot cake. We had some carrots that needed using up, plus I had no more home-made cake left for the Captain's packed lunches.

Audrey rang to say that Vera had got my letter.  And Col posted the letter and card for JL.

It is a sunny Autumn morning here, with a chill in the air.  And AutumnWatch has begun.  Hurray!  It comes from Lancashire this year, from near Morecambe Bay.  My mother's family have lived in Lancashire since the beginning of time (pretty much), and our childhood Paradise (Nabbs) was there.   I enjoyed it all, but especially the flock of tame starlings.

The little family of starlings that we fed down by the Pier here many years ago has grown and prospered and does small murmurations across the Green.

The best moment in AutumnWatch was watching the starlings flock together at twilight - wheeling round and round, gathering everybody up, until, suddenly, they settle.  It was one of those moments when you can see the holiness of the world so clearly - its beauty and its glory.

Monday, 28 October 2013

A Shock

Yesterday, I got a phone call from the sister of a friend. She needed to talk to me.  Straight away I thought something had happened to my friend JL, but no it wasn't that.  JL's partner had just died - in his sleep - no warning - no previous illness - not even especially old.  Well a couple of years older than me, which does put us all very close to the death zone...

Then I spoke to JL.  She was hysterical with shock and grief.

The world is going to be a strange and frightening place for her without him.  He was such a lovely guy.   I was talking to him on the phone only a couple of weeks ago, and the four of us were planning to meet up for lunch at a pub next Spring/Summer - depending on the state of play with my knew knees.  we were going to find a nice place halfway between our two homes on the South Coast.

Its very hard to take in and understand.

Though IF I have to go, I would like to go like that, peacefully in my sleep. And I am glad for Dave that it was so peaceful.   The next time he opens his eyes, the earth will be more lovely than he could have imagined.

But such a terrible terrible shock for JL, the family, his children, his grandchildren.  We can't even go to the funeral service, as I can't travel at the moment, not much beyond the bounds of home anyway.

We will try to keep in as close touch as we can, obviously.   I have just finished a letter I promised her, putting down my memories of Dave.  I first met him, many years ago, in Dhahran. I had gone round one evening to visit JL, in her little single-girl house, and outside was this good-looking Brit guy sorting out her front garden for her.  He said she didn't even know he was there yet, he had just come round to tackle the garden for her.  I thought: What a nice, thoughtful guy.  And so he proved to be.

Her life is going to be sadly changed without him.

Our storm came and went, leaving some fatalities in its wake, and some damage.  No trees down here though, and the winds not as strong as some forecasts suggested.  I was awake, listening to it howl round the flats, but it wouldn't have woken me up. I was awake because of arthritis pain, in my back, shoulder, neck, knees (old and new), you name it...

As I said above, our sell-by dates are looming.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Damp Squib

Jackie and Linda came round last night -  Linda especially early so she could park her car outside before they closed the road off.  Jackie had to toil up the stairs as the lift is broken!   (I may have to listen in to the meeting today, unless they can fix it in time.)  So not the greatest of starts.

Anyway, we watched Strictly with wine and nibbles and then I brought out the usual bonfire stuff - cheese, biscuits, pate, hot sausage rolls and garlic bread  - (to be followed by apple crumble and ice-cream) - but  we began to realise there were no crowds outside - the bonfire was not lit - nothing.  The whole thing had been cancelled by Health and Safety - because the weather might worsen.

The spirit of the Blitz has clearly gone.

It was a stormy night though, with, so they say, much worse to come tonight.   The Captain has moved the balcony furniture indoors, and all the pots right to the back of the balcony.  The sky is overcast, full of cloud , the Channel is racing, and the seagulls are shining white against the intense green of The Green.

And it making me think of the great power and artistry of the One who created it - the Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.  And thank Him.

It all looks so lovely.  But how will it look tomorrow if the coming storm is going to be as bad as they say?

So I am also remembering how Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. When God's Kingdom is ruling over us, we will be able to enjoy the wonder of storms, without having to fear them.  Everything will be back in the perfect balance that prevailed in Eden.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Aroma of Cows

When we were driving over to Arundel today - on a lovely Autumn morning - and we passed the field of cows, I was thinking how excited Shadow the Golden Retriever would have been to drive with us in England. He never saw cows, let alone smelled them.  He would have been wild with excitement. Though we would not have taken him into a field with cows, obviously, but if he could have been in a field where they had been, and could have smelt all the cowpats...

We had a veggie chile for lunch, then Col got me a mug of nice foamy coffee and I did my study for the Sunday meeting while he went off and photographed.  You can see the results in the Captain's Log.

The bonfire is now built, the fairground is in place, and we are all set for the fireworks tomorrow.

A big storm is forecast for Monday, so we shall be seeing some stormy seas.  The leaves are falling already - and every fallen Autumn leaf is a perfect work of art.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Bow (and The Climb)

On Sunday afternoon there was an enormous double rainbow, showing briefly and perfectly against an ominous grey sky - see The Captain's Log for the pictures.

Now that I am a student of the Inspired Scriptures, both Hebrew and Christian Greek, I can't see a rainbow without thinking about what it means.   Here is an extract from an Awake! magazine (January 1975):

"The world’s oldest history book, the Bible, draws attention to the first rainbow and gives the reason for its continued appearance. It reports that God made a covenant, a promise to the survivors of the world flood, namely, Noah and his family, that “no more will the waters become a deluge to bring all flesh to ruin.” And as a sign of this covenant, God said to Noah: “My rainbow I do give in the cloud, and it must serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Gen. 9:8-16) What a splendid way to remind mankind of God’s promise!"

And how beautifully Jehovah does everything.

I have been re re-reading Peter Boardman's book about his and Joe Tasker's climb of Changabang's West Wall:  "The Shining Mountain".   As I get to know them more through their writing I feel sadder and sadder about what was so soon to happen, and wonder what on earth did go wrong.  I want to rush into the book and warn them.  And I came across this, on the net, written by Dr.Charles Clarke, who was on their last expedition:

"Although Peter’s achievements with his partners will be recorded in the archives of
mountaineering, it is his warmth, humanity and wisdom, which will be sorely missed by those
of us who loved him. He did not agree with Howard Somervell’s epitaph, ‘There are few
better deaths than to die in high endeavour’. Nor did Joe. As I carved a headstone for their
memorial in the Rongbuk Valley my only wish was the last few moments of their lives to be

Yes. They clearly did not want to die.  And Dr.Clarke wonders too - about what could have happened.   It must have happened very soon after they were last seen, or very soon after they woke up in the morning.  If indeed they did wake up. Perhaps it was simply that the altitude killed them.   Once again, I wonder if - IF - I am to be among those who "inherit the earth", and if they are, would it be alright to ask them?

Well, if I am there, I will know whether to ask or not.  We will be living in "the land of straightforwardness" and the right path will be so clear.

Its a rainy morning here, but with a bit of pink beginning to appear along the horizon. The bonfire is being built, and I must start to think about what  to cook for Saturday. There will only be four of us this year - depleted as we are by old age and illness.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

An Outing

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
It was a beautiful Autumn morning on Friday,and Captain Butterfly took me out to the Wetland Trust for lunch - my first such outing for a couple of months.   The new lake was swarming with birds, including a kingfisher which Col had fun photographing.  (see The Captain's Log).

I had fish and chips - he had soup and most of my chips.  I am on my crutches when out and managed fine.

Col chauffered me to the Kingdom Hall on Thursday night - my first time there for over 6 weeks.  I got a warm welcome, especially from Audrey and Maggie.  We have such a busy month coming up - special talks, C.O. visits, and the offering of a new publication at all doors.  At the moment, I can't imagine me managing to have much part of it as my walking/standing is still so poor.  I found it as much as I could do to stand for the song and the prayer.  I do have a talk in the Ministry School though, which I will be writing and performing.  It is all about "the wisdom from above".  If I can, I will use that quote from Proverbs which tells us to trust in Jehovah with all our hearts, and not rely on our own understanding.

Both ankles are now painful after "all" that walking...   I must remember that it was a big operation and only 6 weeks ago, and not expect too much too soon. And just be grateful it is going well so far.

A landmark was reached yesterday, as I can now stop wearing the support stockings.  I am dreading my next operation, but somehow last night all my anxiety about it got displaced onto an anxiety about choosing the butterfly pictures for the Captain's next calendar.  Not sure why, as that is a fun thing to do.   We only have 8 pics so far, we have yet to decide on the last few. And, somehow, that translated into a night of waking and worrying and dreams in which I turned up at some terrifying Corporate Headquarters to discuss it.

Why do I do this to myself?

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Visitor from Planet Expat

Julia arrived yesterday, and Jackie joined us for supper.  (Cottage pie, cauliflower cheese, and carrots, followed by ice-cream with a chocolate flake).  A good evening.

Julia bought us a beautiful book about the painter Eric Ravilious. I am looking forward to showing it to Bea, who is also a fan. Though its possible she has already got it.

Julia was also reading through my published poems (not all that many), and especially liked this one, so I thought I would put it in the blog.

It appears in "Ours", and in "Old Playgrounds", two anthologies published by Fantastic Books Publishing.

by me

Grown-ups had made us
Bomb sites to play on
Wasn't that grand?
They'd sown the sea
With fireworks
To explode on the sand
Us kids played at war
But who were the Baddies?
Now no-one was sure.

Was it the Germans?
The big boys said "No"
Baddies were Russian
But how did they know?

Don't call people enemies!
Daddy said it with passion
We didn't go shopping
We went for our rations
Clinic juice was orange
Treacly and free
We journeyed into space
On the wireless
There was no TV

Daddy went to work
Six days of seven
To Silverdale, Jordanthorpe
Planning new Eden
We always found mummy
At home, in the kitchen
Then farewell Coles Corner
Au Revoir, Trams
Goodbye bomb site, hello building site
The brave new world began

Grown-ups soon made us
Landmines to play on
Sunk into sand
Finely adjusted for leg or small hand
Us kids played at war
But who were the Baddies?
Now no-one was sure.

In many ways, the Fifties was a good time to be a child, if you had good parents. There was still a certainty and a cohesion about society - though it was a harsh one  in many ways - and a real feeling of a brave new world coming.  It didn't come. But it couldn't, as "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step".

Isn't this why we say the Lord's Prayer? We want a government that really can bring about peace on earth.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

More Mountaineering

I am just re-reading the book about Alison Hargreaves, the young climber who died on K2, on the way down, leaving two young children without a mother.  It has an irritating title "Regions of the Heart" (by David Rose and Ed Douglas), but is well worth reading. She was harshly judged afterwards, for taking such a risk, K2 being much more of a killer than Everest.

It reminds me of that Scottish verse, where the two rivers grimly compete (I don't know who wrote it):

"Tweed says to Till
What gars ye rin sae still?

Says Till to Tweed
Though ye rin with speed
And I rin slaw
Where ye droon one man
I droon twa."

Everest and K2 could have much the same chat, if they wanted.

But, having read the book, I understand the dilemma Alison Hargreaves was in - why she felt she had to climb K2.  And it was not to do with her not thinking or caring about her children. Quite the reverse in fact.

Yesterday Butterfly Mark rang early and the box of sandwiches and the Captain disappeared shortly after.

There such an interesting sunrise this morning that I went and woke up Col, and he came sleepily through and photographed it.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A Symphony of Light

This morning it is overcast, lots of cloud, but lots of light too. The sea is a pale shining blue with dark edges, there is the soft red glow of the rising sun in the corner of the clouds, the green is very green, with white seagulls swooping across it.  The balcony geraniums are waving bravely.  It is a symphony and I have just thanked Jehovah for it.

This blog post is a sort of thanks too I hope.

If I am on the earth a million years from now, as I hope to be, I will never have seen another sunrise exactly like this one.

Colin and Butterfly Mark are off to an Insect Exhibition today, and I must get back to the dusting, tidying and polishing as we have a visitor from Expatworld next week.

We had a wonderful evening with Jackie last night. She has had some very good news. She is about to become a granny for the 8th time!   And she becomes a great granny for the second time very soon.  She cooked us a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, including crispy roast potatoes. And we had choc ices for dessert.

The beautiful colours of the morning have reminded me of that lovely passage in Proverbs chapter 8 where Jesus speaks directly to us.   “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth."  He is God's only-begotten son, the only one created by Jehovah alone.  Everything else was created by Jehovah with Jesus working beside him as a master worker.   Jesus says:  "then I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time,  being glad at the productive land of his earth, and the things I was fond of were with the sons of men."

He loved, and loves, his Father's creation. The beautiful earth, floating like a jewel in space. And he loves us too.  So,as Proverbs goes on tell us: "Happy is the man that is listening to me by keeping awake at my doors day by day, by watching at the posts of my entrances.  For the one finding me will certainly find life, and gets goodwill from Jehovah."

As we go door to door, with our Bibles (not that I can at the moment, sadly), we are trying to get people to listen and to find life and to get goodwill from Jehovah.

There has just been a lovely lovely sunset, to end the day.

Friday, 11 October 2013

"The Ascent of Rum Doodle" by W.E.Bowman

I have been re-reading all my hospital/convalescence climbing books and have been getting hysterical over Rum Doodle.

This is from Bill Bryson's introduction:   "I just love this book.  Everything about it is nearly perfect - the names  of the characters, their mannerisms, their sulks and squabbles, their comfortingly predictable haplessness in the face of every challenge."

Yes.  The names - of both terrain and people - are so right.    Spoiler alert (as if anyone is going to read it for the plot...). The hapless expedition does manage to place one man on top of the mighty summit of the previously unclimbed Rum Doodle (just after all the rest of them have climbed the wrong peak).  Due to the Yogistani word for "mountain base" being exactly the same as the word for "mountain summit", apart from an esoteric gurgle, the Yogistani porters misunderstand the command to return to base and they all trek to the top.  They take with them the one member of the party who isn't on the wrong mountaintop. In fact, one of the porters simply tucks him under his arm and carries him there.  So he becomes the Conqueror of Rum Doodle.

The name of the Yogistani porter who carries him up and down again?   Perfectly, is is Un Sung.

All I can say is that I enjoyed it even more on the second reading.

I listened in to the meeting last night.  The Society has just issued a new, updated, English-language Bible translation. We should all get one in a month or two.  So much work must have gone into that, but, English being a living language, I can see why its so important.

My shoulder is still really painful. No pain killer seems to help.  I hope I am not in for yet more joint operations.  I don't know how many more I can cope with.

To Jackie for supper tonight.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The New Knee Versus the Old

My knees are not working in harmony at the moment and I am hobbling about very lopsided, having occasionally to revert to crutches/zimmer frame. And my physio is sick and has had to cancel her visit today. I can have someone else in, but think I would like to stick with Diana. She is lovely. And also I know how busy they are, especially with someone off sick.

The sun glinted through the gloom this morning and there was a swift rustle of wings, a blur of cameras, the disappearance of the box of sandwiches from the fridge, and Captain Butterfly is nowhere to be found.

I am still mired in butterfly paperwork - I have a production line going on the kitchen table, and hope to get everything parcelled up today.

It is really sunny now.  A lovely Autumn day.  The balcony geraniums are blazing away - red and lilac, though our indoor plants, the orchids are not doing so well at the moment.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

An Odd Thing

Its an odd thing, but my culinary triumph last night was not the stir fry ginger chicken and the egg fried rice, which took me quite a bit of time and trouble,  it was the cheese straws that I hastily made at the last moment, as I realised I had forgotten to put crisps/nuts on the shopping list I gave the Captain.

They didn't look elegant, but they tasted lovely - though I says it myself as shouldn't - and every single one was eaten.

A fun evening, but it always is with Jackie, even though nowadays, we find ourselves talking about the strangeness of finding ourselves in old age.  But we always agree that, much as we would love to be young again, we would only go back knowing then what we know now.

Of course that is what I hope for us all, that we will be restored to perfect health in the Paradise earth - we will be living instead of dying, as we are now.

I am just about to go and dial in so I can listen to the meeting - lovely Watchtower article helping us to continue putting spiritual things first, with a public talk to start with - Why we should live by Bible principles.  It is a beautiful sunny day so far which is good as Captain Butterfly has his Treasure Hunting cap on, and is off out into the Sussex wilderness with his metal detector and packed lunch.

We will soon be adding to our ring pull hoard.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Song she was Singing

This is about the recent tragic siege in the Kenyan shopping Mall.  The article begins:

"During the Westgate siege in Kenya last month, one of the iconic images showed a mother lying on the floor, protecting her two children. Her name is Faith Wambua. She was in the shopping centre with her nine-year-old daughter Sy and her 21-month-old son Ty when the attack happened.
Faith spent four-and-a-half hours playing dead in the mall while keeping her young children quiet, before they were all finally rescued by a Kenyan policeman, Iyad Adan. She spoke to the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse about her experience that day:"

The article tells us that:

"At some point when they came too close and I could smell the gunpowder and I could hear the bullet casings dropping on the ground, then I knew we were finished.
That's the point when I started singing a song about the resurrection because I thought we were all going to die"

On the BBC News yesterday, the little girl sang us a bit of the song, and it is this, from the Jehovah's Witness songbook:

It is based on Job 14:13-15:   
"O that in She′ol you would conceal me, That you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, That you would set a time limit for me and remember me!  If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, Until my relief comes.  You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning."

The chorus of the song is:

He will call; The dead will answer.
They shall live at his command.
For he will have a longing 
For the work of his own hand.
So have faith, and do not wonder,
For our God can make us stand.
And we shall live forever,
As the work of his own hand.

I always think of my parents and my granny when we sing this.  I hope that Jehovah longs to see them again, as I do, and that He will call wake them from the sleep of death once the earth is restored to Paradise.

How thankful we all are to Jehovah that our sister, and her two children - our young brother and sister - did survive. And we hope that God will remember all those killed, and they too will wake from the dreamless sleep of death when the time comes for the resurrection.

Captain B went to a reunion with old school friends in London yesterday.  And Ron and Lawrence, two of my brothers, visited me (with a bottle of wine!).  Lots of phone calls too - including two from Audrey.  The next load of Butterfly paperwork arrived.

Unfortunately I have regressed a bit healthwise and was back on my zimmer frame this morning.  I have had an arthritis flare up, so now my "good" leg is not operating well either.  I did manage to hobble about and get the chicken made for supper with Jacks tonight.  I have a stir fry rice to make this evening, but hopefully I will be a bit better by then.