Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A cup of tea - gangnam style

Finally got back on the work this morning - an hour with Audrey, in the drizzle.  But I found three of my magazine route at home and was able to have a little chat as we delivered the magazines.  Captain B announced he was going to Wisley at about 7.30 this morning. I think Mark rang to say he would be there.  He set off early with a box of sandwiches.

Its grey and rainy today - hard to see where sky ends and Channel begins.  The waves are fantastic - rearing up high and crashing on the shore.  Telling us over and over again of the unimaginable power of their Creator, Jehovah of armies.

We went to a concert on Sunday night. The congregation had hired a local hall, and put on a great show - along with tea, cakes and sandwiches. It began with Jason and Hannah singing a mixture of Jazz and Country and Western. There was a lovely little drama somewhere in the middle "True Love Will Have its Way" - based on The Song of Solomon, surely the greatest poem ever written.

It is the story of the faithful love of the beautiful Shulammite girl for her shepherd boy - and how she turns down all that King Solomon. who wants her for his wife, can offer her because of that love.

It contains some of the most beautiful words in the Bible, and I had them read at my parents funerals.

 "Place me as as seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; because love is as strong as death is, insistence on exclusive devotion is as unyielding as Sheol is. Its  blazings are the blazings of a fire - the flame of Jah.  Many waters themselves are not able to extinguish love, nor can rivers themselves wash it away..."

I hope that Jehovah's love for my parents will be as strong as death is, and that He will wake them up from the sleep of death when the time comes.

There were Fillipino singers and dancers, which took me and Col right back to our Expat world.

The concert ended with a rousing troupe of dancers - Zumba - led by one of my Ghanaian sisters, her niece and others. Wow.  Can she dance!  And it ended up with a load of brothers joining them on stage and Gangnamming back and across at a gallop.

I was so carried away that I attempted a zimmery gangnam into the kitchen when we got back and I was about to make us a cup of tea.

"Steady on" panicked Captain B, "you'll frighten the horses."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Not doing much

It was a sunny day, but cold.  And I have done nothing really.  Back and legs v painful after my Olympic exertions of yesterday.   So rather a depressing day, except for a lovely link which Valerian sent me to a New Zealand Convention, with Maori brothers and sisters singing the closing song, the one which includes the line: "He soon will awaken those sleeping in death".

That makes me think of my dear aged parents.  And reminds me that i have loving brothers and sisters all over the world.

Oh and a Kathryn postcard came, which was nice.

Col was out photographing what I have been categorizing as finches, but are in fact (I am sternly informed) crests.  And he has rather a charming Kingfisher.  I did get the sheets washed, and made a potato curry. And studied.  And provided the hungry hunter of crests with a hot meal when he got in.  But nothing else to speak of, so a pretty wasted day.

But I feel pretty wasted.  Moan, moan, whinge, whinge.

Friday, 25 January 2013

My Olympic Swimming Gold

I guess all three of us in the hydrotherapy pool this afternoon got the gold. We had to race each other across the pool a few times, and all ended up with 4 points each. (Glows with pride.)

Martin was so lovely and kind about my talk - and Lara was a great householder. Anyway, I am now signed off in the "Illustrations From Familiar Situations" slot.  And possibly the next time I appear in the School it will be as a householder.

So, my day today was spent doing a couple of loads of washing, and studying in the morning, and exercise in the afternoon. And I cooked the Captain a full English breakfast for his tea. He came back from Arundel laden down with bacon and sausages. They have a great butcher and deli at the bottom of the hill.

Will I get back out on the field service tomorrow?  Its so urgent.  This present system of things on the earth is rapidly coming to an end. I think more and more people are aware of it too.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

My Talk in the Second School

This is the talk I will be giving in the second school tonight.

TALK – week beginning 21 January 2013

If someone says: “Pray with me first, then give me your message”.

Setting No.2. Overcoming a potential conversation stopper

And I am working on the use of illustrations - so I hope you note my two illustrations.

Sue.  Thanks for asking me in.  I’m Sue.

Lara.  I’m Lara. I see its not easy for you to stand for too long. Besides, if I am going to hear your message, we need to pray together first, and I don’t think we can pray on the doorstep. When I mentioned the Witnesses were calling on me, I was told by my minister that you refused to pray with him when you came to his door to talk to him.  I wanted to find out why.

Sue.  Thanks for much for giving us the chance to explain. Because it must seem odd, wouldn’t praying be the first thing we would do, before we started to talk about the Bible?

Lara.  Yes, that is what I think.  So why don’t you?

Sue.  The answer lies in these words of Jesus, here at Matthew 10:12,13.  Would you like to read them?

Lara.  (Reads Matthew 10:12-13) "When you are entering into the house, greet the household;  and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you."

Sue.  The context here is that Jesus is teaching his disciples how to do the Christian preaching work. And do you notice that he says they are to greet the householder as they call at the door?  But he doesn’t say that they are to pray together.

Lara.  Not there, no. But Jesus did teach us to pray.

Sue. Yes, he did. And prayer is of vital importance. But so is paying close attention to what Jehovah, our Creator, has had recorded in his inspired word. And in fact the Bible uses a very simple illustration to show us how important that is.  Its here at 1 Peter 2:21. I will read it for you.  "In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely."
Do you see how it says we are to follow Jesus’ steps closely?  Imagine, for example, if you were following a guide through a minefield, you would not go wandering off would you?  You would put your feet exactly where he put his feet.  Or to bring it much closer to home, think of the way you want your children to follow your instructions closely. When you tell them never to go near the railway lines for instance, do you want them reasoning that its OK when they are with a gang of more streetwise children who say they know all the timetables and when the trains are due?

Lara.  Of course not, children don’t necessarily see what the danger is, or who is a safe guide and who is not.

Sue.  .  Yes, but parents do.  And they love their children and want to keep them safe. And that is what our Creator, Jehovah, wants for us.  He wants to keep us safe. He knows that we live in a world full of spiritual dangers – a spiritual minefield, if you like - and he wants to guide us safely through it.  And he has given us a reliable guide in his Messiah.  So we try to follow in Jesus footsteps exactly, not taking anything away from what he taught, but also not adding anything. And, had Jesus wanted his disciples to pray with those they called on, wouldn’t he have said so clearly?

Lara.  I suppose so. And yet it was Jesus who left us the Lord’s Prayer.

Sue. He did Lara. And that is so important, because one of the first things Jesus taught us to pray for was the coming of God’s Kingdom. And we do pray for its coming. And if you read Matthew chapter 10, you will find how Jesus instructed his disciples to tell people that the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.  In harmony with that, I am here at your door now to tell you all about it.  This is a beautiful summary of what that Kingdom will do. Reads Revelation 21:4: "And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”  God's kingdom, which is a heavenly government, will wipe out every tear from our eyes.  All causes for suffering will be gone. What human government could achieve such a thing?  Yet God’s Kingdom can.  If you can spare me a bit more time, I would like to show you chapter 8 in the book “What Does the Bible Really Teach?”  - “What is God’s Kingdom?”.  It will explain more about the Kingdom whose coming Jesus asked us to pray for when he taught us the Lord's Prayer.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Clouds like mountains

The snow sky has lifted this morning, we have some sunlight coming through, and the line of clouds like mountains that often lie along the far side of The Channel are back.  I have just been re-reading Lauren Elder's "And I Alone Survived".  She was in a small plane with two others - the pilot and another passenger - which crashed in the Sierra Nevada, right at the top of one of the highest peaks.  When the plane was finally found, rescuers had to climb up to it, the spot was so inaccessible.

Behind them was a winter wilderness of rocky mountains, and in front of them was a sheer drop of thousands of feet to the desert floor.

All three survived the crash, but only Lauren Elder survived to tell the tale.  It is an extraordinary story and I believe it was filmed. But I don't think the film will have come anywhere near the immediacy of the book.

Lara is coming round this afternoon so we can go through my talk which I have to give in the Ministry School on Thursday. We will be in the second school, but if there is more snow and not everyone can get, we might find ourselves on the platform.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A winter dance

What have I been doing?  Can't go out, combination of arthritis and snow.... My hydrotherapy was cancelled.  I did get to the meeting Sunday morning, thanks to the gallant Captain B who drove me as near to the door as we can get, and came in, picked me up and walked me back to the car.   There were a lot of empty seats as the talk began, but people began to arrive and we were pretty full by the end.

This morning the sky and the Channel are equally grey - the sky looking full of snow - and there is snow still lying. We have to shop this morning and pick up my medications.

I think another poem is called for.   But do I have a snow one I haven't blogged before? There is this little verse about a cold New Year many years ago. We were staying with my  parents at the bungalow.

Those were the days when getting up from my chair was just that - getting up from my chair - not the marathon Everest climb by the North Face without oxygen and Sherpa support that it feels like now.

Whatever the weather - obviously apart from rain - my mother hung the washing out.

 A January Washday in Sheffield
                by me

Black trees rattle in the icy wind
Through gale-smashed panes the greenhouse sings
Tights, shirts, tea-towels, bras and knicks
Dance to welcome eighty-six!

Friday, 18 January 2013

A symphony in grey and white

The balcony is white with snow, the Green is white, and snow is clinging to the balcony rails.   Beyond it the Channel is steely grey with white horses - and there is a lighter grey snow sky above it. It has been snowing heavily since about 7.30, but seems to be stopping.  And it does seem to be thawing rather than freezing.

There are a few small touches of red - some valiant balcony geraniums still flowering through the snow, and my little geranium car keeping warm under its snow hoodie.

I rang up this morning to see if my hydrotherapy session was still on.  It was. But they rang later, just as we were having an early lunch, to cancel. They must have decided it would be safer to leave early today. The snow is clearly much worse inland.

We hope to be able to drive the huskies over to Jackie tomorrow for supper. And all I really have to do today is to make us a roast chicken dinner for tonight and start my studying for Sunday.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Geranium in the snow

It did snow - Captain B has a picture of my new car to prove it.  Its a bit frosty this morning, and the Captain is off to clear rides for butterflies. After my 45 minute walking yesterday, I can barely stand.

And I used to be a great walker.

We are enjoying Winter Watch from Scotland, and also the Polar Bear programme. Though it is harrowing. They have collared Lila, a mother bear with two cubs, and are following her.  She is clearly an experienced and good mother, but times are hard. One cub has already been lost - we don't know how. And from the glimpse of her we get next week, she and her remaining child are not doing well. She has got so thin.

I don't understand why they can't help her out with a few feeds.  To film a living being starving and not helping (if you can) seems wrong wrong wrong.  However, maybe she and baby are going to be OK.  She is clearly a bright and loving mother.   And gentle too.  At one point, the presenter gets between her and her food (a yummy dead walrus), and she and baby simply wait patiently till he leaves. (Don't try this at home!)

Now I may get a lot of letters from seals pointing out that Lila is not gentle at all as far as they are concerned.  To which I would have to say fair enough - and cite some similar letters about them from fish.  But the fact is that none of this should have happened. The first chapters of Genesis tell us, clearly and simply, that nature was not created "red in tooth and claw".

"And God went on to say: “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food. And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so."

This was not a world full of hunters and predation. This was Paradise - it was Eden.  And we are promised a restoration of that Paradise, world-wide.  The lion will lie down with the lamb.

Dougal the ExExpat send us some photos of his daughter today.  And I find myself saying the same things our uncles and aunts used to say to us. "Hasn't she grown!"   I wondered at the time why they were so surprised. Surely it would have been stranger if we hadn't?

However, I hadn't realised how time can change - how long a year is when you are a child - and how short it is when you are retired.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Out on the field service

Got out this morning, which is sunny but cold, and did 45 minutes work with Audrey. Not much, but as much as I could cope with.  A calm Channel today.

Mark O' the Waxwings came round yesterday for coffee, bringing a fresh supply of butterfly paperwork, so the membership packages are done, if not quite dusted. We have to take them to the Post Office this afternoon.

We got our 4 inches of snow yesterday.  It fell very quickly. I was up at about 6 and looked out the window. No snow.  Got up again at about 8, and it was a white world with snow still falling.  It looked lovely, and it disappeared very quickly.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Grasshopper

My hydrotherapy did not get off to the best of starts.  After I had toiled up the steps and down the steps and found myself in the hot pool - which is lovely - I asked the young physio which part of Oz he came from.

"The best part.  New Zealand."  he said.

Ooops. Anyway, we talked about our travels in NZ - how we (the Captain and me) considered retiring there at one time (to South Island) - and did some exercises.  I was longing to swim, and while Young Master NZ had his back turned doing some notes, I attempted a quick swim, but I forgot that he had attached a float to my foot, and the subsequent floundering attracted his attention and he set me some more exercises.

I feel in a lot of pain, but at least I have had some exercise.

As I toiled along the road to the Kingdom Hall this morning, I had to think of that beautiful poetic evocation of old age in Ecclesiastes.

"Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: “I have no delight in them”;  before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds have returned, afterward the downpour;  in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the men of vital energy have bent themselves, and the grinding women have quit working because they have become few, and the ladies seeing at the windows have found it dark;  and the doors onto the street have been closed, when the sound of the grinding mill becomes low, and one gets up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song sound low.  Also, they have become afraid merely at what is high, and there are terrors in the way. And the almond tree carries blossoms, and the grasshopper drags itself along, and the caper berry bursts, because man is walking to his long-lasting house and the wailers have marched around in the street;  before the silver cord is removed, and the golden bowl gets crushed, and the jar at the spring is broken, and the waterwheel for the cistern has been crushed.  Then the dust returns to the earth just as it happened to be and the spirit itself returns to the [true] God who gave it."

The grasshopper dragged itself along to the Kingdom Hall this morning.  And I was reminded of my Creator, and the hope that we can live forever, in the restored earthly Paradise.

Jackie is back!  Although only for a couple of weeks and she is off on her travels again.  We had a home-cooked (by Cooks) green chicken curry, followed by salted caramel ice-cream - which, if I am to go by the cookery programmes on the telly, is the trendy ice-cream. It was also from Cooks - and very good too.  We also had a lovely egg custard dessert from Lidls.  The only thing I cooked were some cheese straws for nibbles to start us off.

Friday, 11 January 2013

A Mystery Solved

Bohemian Waxwings, Bombycilla garrulus
The waxwings are back in town!

The current issue of the Awake magazine has solved a problem for me. I have been wondering why I am on a cancer medication.   I didn't realise until it was the cancer nurse who turned up to supervise my first injection and sit with me afterwards. I never thought to ask him why.

Is there something they haven't told me?

However, in an interview, Dr.Paola Chiozzi (a molecular biologist) says, speaking of the body's highly controlled and complex programme of cell death: "Some studies indicate that when cells fail to die as they should, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer may result. On the other hand, when cells die before they should, it could cause Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease."
("Awake!", January 2013,pp.6,7)

There is the connection. And it is a chilling one. But, if correct, it may indicate the area of genetic damage that affected me, my mother, my granny and who knows how many of my forebears.

She speaks of her study of the complex mechanisms of cellular biology, and says: "The process is so well-designed that it's absolutely awe-inspiring."

She could see, clearly, not only that the body is beautifully designed - as the Psalmist says: "in a fear-inspiring way, I am wonderfully made" - but also that it was made to last forever.  Why doesn't it?

Anyway, if you want to read her story, how she found out, then please accept copies of the current magazines when they are offered to you at the door.  Or go to the Society's website: http://bit.ly/ScMeUV

The butterfly paperwork for December arrived yesterday, and I did all the computer work, but am stymied when it comes to sending out the membership packages as I haven't to enough supplies. Mark o' the Waxwings is calling in with some more supplies next week.

My own fault. I took my eye off the ball. Frustrating though as I like to get them done, dusted and sent out asap.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lord Fifthgear

If I ever meet the inventor of the fifth gear - Sir Edmund Fifthgear perhaps? - it will be a test of my new Christian personality.  I herkyjerked the car out on one magazine route call yesterday, plus a trip to the shops.

It was a sad call, as my householder, a lovely guy who had taken early retirement, has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  What to say, beyond how sorry I am, and not to give up hope.   I did say a little about what the Bible has to say about death.  There is nothing more comforting and more reassuring. It tells us that death is a dreamless sleep, held close in "the everlasting arms",  with a wonderful awakening at the other end.

He and his wife are coping with it in a calm commonsense way.  They are selling their house, as she does not want to be left alone in a large house, and are looking for a suitable flat.  I said that we are very happy with our decision to move into a flat at retirement.  They have looked at our block, but noted that they rarely come up for sale.

I also did some shopping.  And have started on the paper mountain - lots of things to reply to. Two letters done yesterday (Kathryn, and the Broomhill KH).  And Captain Butterfly has parcelled up a camera for Gabi.

He is off on his woodland work this morning, clearing rides for butterflies.  So I am hoping to hitch up a sledge to my butterfly team and have them drive me off to the post office with his parcel.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Going Home

Our talk at the Hall this morning was especially lovely, and twice the speaker referred to us being on the brink of going back home.  We were always meant to live in Paradise, and very soon the restoration of the earth to the Paradise it was always meant to be will begin.

I must get back out on the doors. Sadly, today, gettting myself to the meeting and back, plus making us a supper, is just about all I have managed to do.  Everything hurts and I feel too shaky to drive very much.

I am still a bit herky jerky in The Geranium.  It has a fifth gear - technology which throws me a bit. What is it for? And am I in third?  Or am I in fifth?

I don't think I have ever quite mastered the physics of why we can't just have one gear and keep it simple.  And that would not have surprised my old Physics Teacher. Although given that the laws of physics seemed to repeal themselves in the Convent School laboratory, perhaps it wasn't completely my fault I was so hopeless at science.

"Now watch girls as I drop this apple and we will see Newton's law...  oh, well" (pulls apple down from ceiling) "write in your notebooks that it fell to the floor."

I have been asked if I can write a poem - a longish one - on the subject of Homeland/Motherland.  I haven't written any poems for years, so its an interesting challenge.  The impulse that lead me to write poetry has gone, so something else need to inspire me. IF I succeed it will appear here.

You have been warned.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Calendars, as previewed

January's butterfly calendar has a portrait of a Brimstone.  Here we see the exquisite work of our Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.  And also the work of an excellent photographer, in Captain Butterfly himself.

Had I taken that photo, my thumb or the lens cap would have featured strongly and the butterfly would have been missing its head.

The 2013 Jehovah's Witness calendar for January and February says this:

""To him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom" - Daniel 7:14

During Jesus Christ's 1,000 year reign, he will undo all the harm caused by the Devil. At the same time, Jesus will ensure that the entire earth is transformed into a paradise home for his human subjects. - Luke 23:43

For family discussion:
Name some of  "the works of the devil" that the Son of God will break up. (1 John 3:8)  What Kingdom blessings do you look forward to?"

The works of the devil. It was Satan who brought death into the world when he persuaded our first parents to cut themselves off from their Creator, their Source of life.  So, as the Bible promises, once the works of the devil are broken up,  "death will be no more".  And, therefore, I look forward so much to seeing my parents again, as the resurrection of the dead progresses.  And my granny.  I never thanked her for the wonderful world of Nabbs Cottage.

The Bible tells us that "many of those asleep in the ground of dust will wake up" - and that there will be a resurrection of both "the righteous and the unrighteous".

And I long for the time when nature is no longer "red in tooth and claw with ravine" - when all the earthly creation is at peace, as it was in the Garden of Eden.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Thoughts about Calendars

Our new calendars - Captain Butterfly's Butterflies of 2012 - and the JW one - are now in situ, and I wondered, given that the JW calendar is (of course) a teaching one, if I shouldn't put it in my blog every two months.  Think think

But first, I am trying to think what I did today and yesterday...   Mark O' the Waxwings came over for tea and biscuits yesterday afternoon - and this morning, I went for yet another blood test.  One day, as I crawl into the surgery for my millionth test, they will look all triumphant and say they have diagnosed me at last.  It will turn out that I am severely anaemic...

Then we shopped.  At Sainsburys. Did a massive restock. And I made yesterday's quorn mince into a shepherds pie.  We had it with spaghetti yesterday.   It was quite nice.  Tonight was the meeting at the Kingdom Hall.  Lovely to see everyone again.  And I needed that teaching.  Kind young Isaac was waiting at the bottom of the path and helped me in.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

How I became a Twitcher's wife.

"The waxwings are in town!"    Captain B and his cameras hurtled out the door and weren't seen again till lunchtime.  "I'll take you out to lunch" he said.  "Where?"  "The waxwings are now in Lewes!"   Cameras, hurtle, door, drive drive, through a beautiful winter day, the first day of the new year, screech to halt at roadside where a mob of twitchers are assembled with cameras and binoculars, and (later) lunch at The Giant's Rest.

I did my studying in the car, while watching the birds come and go and pose prettily.

Our Bible verse for 2013 is Joshua 1:9:  "Be courageous and strong... Jehovah your God is with you."

We will need to be courageous and strong and trust in Jehovah with all our hearts as this old system on the earth comes to its end.