Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The housebound life

I did get out yesterday. With Audrey. And we toiled about for nearly an hour, doing calls.  I have now found all but two of the people I have been looking for - and those I haven't found will at least know I called, as I have left a little tract.  I now have another one who wants me to deliver the magazines every month.

I can't say I ever thought much about Jehovah's Witnesses, beyond the idea that they kept calling.  And it never occurred to me to think of the effort that went into keeping on calling.  Its hard to find people at home again, yet you know you must. And I do feel guilty about those that I have failed to get back to.   Something surfaced from faraway grammar lessons there, and I think I should have said "those to whom I failed to get back".   This is well-worked territory so I hope that someone will find them in.

But will they listen?  Its like trying to wake people from a deep sleep. And its a sleep I was in for so much of my life.

Can't think what I did for the rest of the day, apart from studying-  we are in the Gospel of  Mark at the moment - and lie on the bed and sofa trying to stop my knees hurting.

The sea is calm today - and the palest turquoise - with a deeper line along the horizon.  I was thinking of the Indian Ocean, as in my pre-oldcrock days, I used to go every year with the Captain and his shoal of divers.  The vivid saturated colours of the tropics made everything in Expatworld seem drab for the first few days after we got back.

What I need is to have a few accomplishments today - a few things done -  I must not spend it between bed and sofa, whinging about my knees.

Its evening - and I am sure I could say a lot about my knees - and, indeed, what could be more fascinating?

Watching paint dry?

Well, perhaps.

Anyway, the Captain was out, working for the Butterfly Empire, and I did manage two loads of washing, my studying and to make a big tray of carrot cake, as I used up the last piece of cake in his lunchbox today.   And I was not a stranger to the sofa - reading a rather depressing life of John Lennon.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Halcyon River Knees

They had another episode of the Halcyon River diaries on over the weekend.  Fantastic.  Charlie Hamilton James and his camera get us completely absorbed in the beautiful, wonderful, touching and tragic life of the river.

The most amazing sequence was the two lady kingfishers (halcyons) fighting over the male.  They fought low over the river, trying to drown each other.  It was awful, and  about to get worse.  As their fight took them along the river bank, suddenly, with a terrifying pounce, a creature leapt out of the undergrowth and carried one of them off in its jaws.

It was a mink.  I have never seen one before. And what a predator it is.

It was a moment of pure horror.

The serpent is still in the garden, and nature is still "red in tooth and claw with ravine".  But not for much longer, thank God.

Jackie came for supper on Sunday. My curry was a bit of a fail this time, so the Captain and I had it on Saturday and we had a Cooks Moussaka instead.  It was very good. We followed it with cheese, fruit, coffee and cake. And laughed a lot.

Very calm Channel today - grey and cold, with a line of blue along its horizon.

Audrey and I plan to be out on the work tomorrow.

I have been brooding about the possibility of knee operations - dread, dread - assuming that I am eligible for them.  The arthritic state of the rest of me might preclude it.

However, IF I am to have them, I have been wondering about customised knee joints.  Its just that there doesn't seem to be a day goes past now without some dreadful episode of random violence...

You can't run for it when you have arthritis.  So I am wondering about having the Boadicea knee joint fitted - knees that swords will spring out of if anyone should try to mug me.

Then there is the golfing knee.  The suave middle aged gent on the cover of the "Understanding your Knee Operation" brochure is playing a mean game of golf after his op. Nothing in the brochure suggests that he could play golf before.  So, should I have that kind of knee fitted?

Saturday, 23 February 2013


After all my moaning and whingeing about having to go back to P.E.lessons - i.e. physiotherapy - I will now admit that lovely and kind (and pretty) young Alice has been replaced by equally lovely and kind (and rather good-looking) young Dan.  He checked my knees thoroughly, assured me, as Alice did, that my muscles are not in bad shape, but that he can improve them.  And took me through some exercises - 300 press ups - over the vaulting horse many times - well, no, actually, a few gentle leg movements while lying on the couch.

My knees feel like they have done a thousand press ups, but at any rate, I am not dreading the next session so much now.

Tottered to the meeting on Thursday night. The Captain was at his rescue training, so I had to take myself.  I was driving my walking stick slowly along the road to the Hall when, suddenly, out of the night, on a white charger, appeared one of my young brothers, come to help me.   The meeting was lovely - and we start delivering the Memorial invitations a week today.  I am going to have to try to have a part in that.

Maybe the physio will help. 

My project today is to get the curry for tomorrow cooked.  And lie on the sofa a lot saying: Oh, my knees.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The nightmare called school

Wonderful comment today on a Daily Mail article about the long-term affects of bullying at school.   Caleb, from Augusta, says:  "Forget about the nightmare called school."

Thank you Caleb.  Cramming children into large peer groups seems a recipe for bullying.  Plus, another sad thing is that there is nothing young children want to do more than to learn.  They are always asking questions, questions, questions.  But when you get to school, you learn that learning is "boring", and also punitive. It is something you can do wrong and get in trouble for.

I am, of course, talking about the school system of 1950s England. It stayed "1950s" pretty far into the 1960s too.  It is the only school system I have any personal experience of, and I did not enjoy it.

A plus was the intense orderliness - it was an environment in which you could learn, when you had a good teacher who made it interesting, rather than a boring and/or a punitive process. Step forward and take a bow Mrs Pugh (history) and Mrs Linstead (English). It also limited the bullying. There were definite boundaries.  And there was no scope for truanting, as far as I am aware. Every teacher was aware of where we were at all times, plus we wore school uniform.

Later, in my working life, I was talking to a young office junior.  I was suprised to find that she couldn't work out the ten per cents for the VAT invoices without a calculator. Even I, always considered a maths dunce at school, could do that, and I asked her about maths at school, wondering what had changed.  She told me that she went to one of those big new (back then) comprehensives and so didn't actually go to school.  She would turn up to register, and then she and her friends would go off to town.  Just not an option for us - our absence would have been noticed instantly - though I can't deny it is an option I, as a schoolgirl, would have loved. And later regretted, as she was doing.

But how to give children schooling without making it a nightmare?  We will probably have to wait for the restored earthly Paradise to find out.  For one thing, everyone on earth will be one loving extended family, and I think children are best educated within the family.   And when reading the Law that God gave to Moses, I note that he gave parents the responsibility for teaching the children - and most especially for their moral education.

My great achievement yesterday afternoon was making a chicken casserole - sort of Hungarian style, with caraway and paprika. Quite nice. And my great achievement this morning was getting myself in and out of the shower.   The expedition I was going to lead to the top of Everest and K2 is clearly going to have to be put on hold.

Though, the more I read about climbing those mountains, the more I think all such expeditions should be put on hold. It is simply a gamble with a precious human life, every time.

Anyway, talking of mountaineering, I am off for my gym lesson after lunch...  gloom, doom and despondency. Thank goodness we have the congregation meeting tonight, which will build me up again, even though it will certainly point out many areas in which I can at least try to improve.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Sausages and the tyranny of sell-by dates

I went out on the work with one of my sisters yesterday morning.  Roadworks blocked the way to her house so I had to go round - and then got rather grumpy as she wanted to go to the corner Tescos to buy some sausages - which meant going round again.   The sausages she bought last week had gone past their sell-by date.

They could only have been past it by a day or two at most - and they are sausages - preserved meat - and like all of us, she has a fridge.

So the tyranny of sell-by dates is truly wasteful. It wasted sausages, petrol and time. And yet you can't tell anyone not to respect them - just in case.  Especially when they are not young.  So we got the sausages and set off for the other end of town hoping that the roadworks there were now finished and the road was unblocked.

And, thank you so much Jehovah, we had a positive morning - finding people in (a bit of a miracle in itself) - good talks - and yet another on my magazine route!  I didn't think she would even remember me, as it was last year when I called for the first time, and she is now in the middle of having a new kitchen. However, she took the Watchtower and Awake for February and would like me to continue to deliver them.

I felt so bad about not having called back till now, but its not easy.  I kept thinking that I would call in after the meeting on Sunday, but at the moment it takes me all my strength just to drive to the meeting, be there for a couple of hours, and get back.  So grateful I can though - as Jehovah's spirit is incomparable for giving comfort.  He is rightly called "the God of all comfort".

It was a beautiful sunny day.  Its grey and damp to day, although Captain Logger has set valiantly off on his Clearing Forest Rides for Butterflies Wednesday, with his usual box of sandwiches.

My knees are killing me this morning - whinge whinge - so I will not be doing much.    I have to start gym lessons again tomorrow.  This time with a physio called Dan. The lovely Alice has left...  hopefully Dan will be as nice.  But - gym lessons - I thought I had left those horrors behind when I left school.

Talk about a second childhood.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A glimpse of Spring?

A sparkling day. The sun is out, the English Channel is glinting with little waves in sunlight, there are lots of people on the green - and how i wish I could join them. Knees very bad today. Tottered to meeting which was great, and have pretty much been dozing over my strong painkillers ever since.

We had supper with Jacks last night. A roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings followed by a lemon pie.  And it was the usual fun evening - lots of laughing, which I needed.

I am brooding over the thought of knee operations...  I will have to talk to Jehovah about this. A lot.  

For one thing, at my age - in the Autumn/Winter of my life - the triage will be against me.  Will I find myself whisked onto the Liverpool "care" pathway before I know what's happening. And, if so, do they at least give you large doses of morphine? 

All things I shall have to ask the surgeon.

New knees.  What will they be like?   Will they charge up and down stairs with the rest of me desperately trying to keep up?

It was great to be at the meeting and to be reminded that this world system is temporary - and that when it is gone, no resident of the earth will say: "I am sick".

We will come alive again. Something we, the children of Adam, have never known. We are dying from the moment we are born. And, sadly, that is normal to us - we don't know anything else.

Though it doesn't seem right.  Interesting to read about Philip Larkin and the horror he felt about death from when he was a child.  He knew how wrong it was, but, sadly did not know what the Bible really says about it.   I wonder if it would have helped him if he had?

It would had he believed it.

I meant this blog to be about the feeling of spring in the air today, but my knees have rushed me off in a different direction. Well, not exactly rushed...

Friday, 15 February 2013

Hotpool, farewell

Last session of Hydrotherapy today.  Feel a bit achey.  We looked for the waxwings on the way back, but didn't find them. Pity as the light was wonderful. We also shopped at Lidls and Col kindly drove me up to my furthest magazine route drop.  I am not finding this lady at home, but at least I can leave the magazines...

I have no idea if the hotpool has helped, but it was lovely to be in. I am hatching a plan to fill the flat up to chest height with really warm water so I can swim everywhere.  But I fear there might be a snagette or two which will prevent me from actually carrying out my plan.   The two flats below us for a start.

Got back to find the news that George is in hospital.

What is happening to us all?

I think its called: We are not as young as we were.

And yet we are not old. Any of us. We have only lived a few decades, and its no time at all.  It goes so quickly.  And how grateful I am for all Jehovah's promises that we can have the life "to time indefinite" that our first parents so tragically threw away.

Such a lovely meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night.  They are encouraging all who can to do the reduced pioneering hours in March.  We will be bringing the invitations to the Memorial of Jesus' death to your doors from the 1st of March on. And I hope my knees will permit me to have a part in delivering them.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The past is closer than we think

Here is an interesting quote from The Spectator this week - from Charles Moore's "The Spectator's Notes". He and his wife have just got to know a Jim Smith, who used to do building work for Rudyard Kipling! 

"In "Puck's Song", Kipling speaks of the mill at Bateman's: "See you that little mill that clacks/so busy by the brook?/She has ground her corn and paid her tax/Ever since Domesday Book". But in fact one of Kipling's first acts when he bought the place in 1903 was to stop the mill and convert it to a turbine. In the 1970's, the National Trust decided to restore the mill. It was Jim Smith who did the work himself, building the new hursting, cutting the 200 teeth, and making the bearings for the shaft. So the mill clacked once more. Only nine Jim Smiths, laid end to end, if you see what I mean, and you get back to Domesday Book."

Batemans is well worth a visit. It is as if the Kipling family have gone out for a few hours and will be turning up any moment to be amazed by all the people wandering round their house.  And you can visit the mill of the poem, clacking away.

Audrey and I got out on the doors yesterday though only for half an hour, as I had to take her for her big supermarket shop.  The sister who usually takes her is on her holidays, in Devon. And I hope she won't be snowed in. They forecast snow nationwide today, but it hasn't arrived at our bit of the English Channel as yet.

Had the worst arthritis attack of my life (so far) last week and am so glad to be over it.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A landscape

The world by the sea is all moody greys and greens this morning, with lots of white waves and a line of deep turquoise where Channel and sky meet.  Our balcony tiles are shining with rain.

I am hoping to get to the meeting this morning.  It will be my first time out since Wednesday.  We have a lovely Watchtower study - all about the stewardship that every Christian has. We have been given the treasure of the good news of the Kingdom, and we must share it.

I am in an internet correspondence with a Christian academic in the U.S.A.   We are talking about evolution - in which he is a believer.  I wrote to him yesterday, apologising for taking so long in replying and got an email straight back, saying he was enjoying our discussion. So I must respond today.  And Dorothy of South Island has been in touch.

It is afternoon now, and still raining  Sea and sky are a pretty uniform grey - the water a bit darker than the sky.  Captain B was not able to go out so he kindly gave me a lift to the Kingdom Hall and when he picked me up, he gave Joyce, a sister visiting from Worthing, a lift to the Tamarisk.

It was an afternoon of  butterfly paperwork.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Envoy from Zimmer City

Thursday was a day from hell - that is to say, the hell taught by Christendom - a place of torment - which is a teaching that put me off the whole idea of God and the Bible for many years.   Whereas, the Biblical hell - "Sheol" in the Hebrew Scriptures, "Hades" in the Christian Greek - is simply the ground, the grave, where the dead sleep "conscious of nothing at all",  awaiting a resurrection.

It would have saved Hamlet an awful lot of soliloquizing if he had only known that there are no dreams in the sleep of death.

Anyway, I had such a terrible attack of arthritis - or I assume arthritis - that I couldn't move. So painful - no sleep  - didn't know what to do with myself - couldn't stand up - couldn't lie down - in the end Col propped me up in a chair in a tower of cushions and during the day I managed occasionally to doze for a few minutes before being jerked awake as I started to topple off.   I have now graduated to a zimmer frame, and a different type of painkiller has been prescribed.

I don't know if they will help. I don't know that much is effective against the pain of an arthritis attack.

Captain B was wonderful.  Rallying round all day, and going out in the evening to get the new painkillers.

Obviously I did not get to the meeting last night, and I have had to cancel the physio today.

It is a beautiful sunny day, and a charming present from Bea just arrived in the post - some beautiful butterfly bookplates.

Stephanie came for supper on Wednesday night, before she and the Captain set off for the Detectors meeting.  I provided quiche and salad, followed by trifle.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The wrong Geranium

After managing over an hour on the doors - in the cold, which Audrey does not like - we tottered back to my little geranium red car.  But we couldn't get in.   "What's wrong with this key!?" I angsted, "It's not working."

Then we realised it was the car that was wrong, not the key. It was a red car, right enough, but not my red car.

We found a lot of people in and had some good conversations.  And we now have some more magazine route calls.  We must ask and ask for Jehovah's spirit, so that they will become Bible students.

More harrowing news from America about the death of an ex-expatriate friend. The only good thing that has come out of it is that Anne of the Cape and I are back in regular email conversation.

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Anti-Pollyanna

I had a bit of a meltdown after my knee diagnosis, followed by a gym lesson, which revived all the horrors of schooldays - though only because I was in something of a state of shock.  Anyway, I sobbed all the way home in the car.

Captain B came back from his outing with a present for me.  My tears dried as if by magic, as I pulled the wrappings off to reveal a lovely little cup with a pretty golden chaffinch on an autumn branch.  It said:
"Chaffinch's tufty peachy feathers, they are happy in all weathers."

"Chaffinch that!" I shrieked making headbutting movements,  "I'll give him happy in all weathers."

However, now I come to think of it, its amazing how Jehovah and the Christian message always do give you something to be happy about.  At the moment I am absorbed in replying to a nice American Academic, about evolution and such things. So the chaffinch and I are both perched prettily on our branches, singing away happily, in harmony.  

And I have to admit that we can learn so much from the creation.

Captain B is out, a'twitching, so I can sing. Otherwise he keeps looking pained and handing me the indigestion tablets, as my singing is nowhere near as harmonious as the chaffinch's.  

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The good news and the bad news

The good news being that the fearsome new medication is working - and the bad is that in the interim my knees have reached their sell by date ahead of me.  They are gone.  My only option medically is two knee replacement operations.  And as I won't be seeing the surgeon for 3 months, I have plenty of time to think it over.   And, of course, he may not be prepared to operate. For one thing, I can't have a blood transfusion.

But I feel as if I am too old and ill to be able to cope with hospital.

Its all a bit of a shock.   And my computer has died, taking all my info with it.   I am hoping the stork will bring me a new one tomorrow.  Captain B has been arranging things.  I can only compute at the moment when El Capitano is busy, as I have to use his machine. He is watching the Rugby just now, so I can do a hasty blog.

Some sad things happening with friends and with some on my magazine route too.

On the plus side... I was hobbling back from the meeting this morning, a slightly longer walk than usual as roadworks had eaten up my customary space, when Malcolm and Steve sped along, rescued me and drove me to my car.  It is true what Jesus said, that when you become a member of the Christian congregation you join a loving family, made up of people from every tribe and nation and tongue.

And I found this in our Watchtower study very comforting.   "Faithfulness to God is not dependent on intelligence, talent or ability".    As I don't feel at the moment I have any of those things, (going back to Gym lessons is proving very demoralising) it is wonderful to think that it doesn't matter to Jehovah, as long as I go on doing my best to listen and obey. What is important is keeping my heart full of love for my Creator, for his creation, and for his law. Everything else good will follow from that.

Jackie, Tom and Jill came over for lunch yesterday which cheered us up.  I was all at sixes and sevens doing my shopping, not knowing what i was going to give them, but we ended up with a plate of sandwiches (tuna pate and egg mayonnaise), a hot plate of sausages, Thai spring rolls and suchlike, and a cheeseboard. Followed by lemon drizzle cake (step forward Waitrose and take a bow) with my three favourite ice-cream flavours - lime & coconut, mango sorbet (take another bow, Waitrose) and some salted caramel ice-cream from Cooks.

Col was a hero and rushed out Saturday morning to get a few minor things I had forgotten (bread, eggs, mayonnaise) and did his usual superb clearing up job afterwards.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and we laughed a lot.