Saturday, 29 June 2013


by me

Who makes fantasies
In clay
Jars, bells, and chimes
Seems to have a knack
That I lack
All mine
Turn into ashtrays
Useful at least,
I thought
(and I'm not joking)
When I bought
my five thousand wobbly ashtrays
I found that the Sheik
Had given up smoking.

"Hadn't you noticed", said Captain Butterfly (in Sheik of Araby mode in our expat days), "that I haven't had a cigarette for the last few days?"

I had noticed he had been rather grumpy.

Anyway, the reason this little verse suddenly appears is not so much that I am hoping they will make me Poet Laureate (hint, hint), but that Bea kindly took a photo of some of the pots I made in my expat days. 

She left on Thursday, which made me feel a bit flat.  She had a safe journey, and quick except for getting across London.   Col kindly chauffered me to the meeting in the evening.  It was the monthly review.  Quite a few empty seats as so many are on holiday.

I wonder if I have any chance of the Potter Laureateship?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Busy Bea

We have a lovely new painting - acrylic - from Bea - as well as my beautiful butterfly robe and a butterfly bag.  And Jackie got her silk scarf last night.

She, and Jill and Tom, came over for supper - cold chicken, salad, hot potatoes and garlic bread. followed by the Comprehensive School version of Eton Mess (i.e. made with yoghurt not cream), cheese and chocolates.  We hope to go out for lunch in Arundel today - to the nature reserve, where we ought to see lots of fluffy little ducklets and moorchicklets and swanlets.

Its a sunny morning, so Captain B may decide to do his transect.

We were talking about Wimbledon last night- and about the fact that you can earn a fortune by being knocked out in the first round.  We all agreed that at our age we would be super at being knocked out in the first round, and really deserved the money.  But it was admitted that I would be best of all - top seed, as it were.

By the time I had zimmered slowly out to take the first serve - then zimmered slowly back again to get my glasses which I would be sure to have forgotten - and zimmered slowly back on court again, I would have incurred some time penalty that meant I would have forfeited the game.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


Bea set off on a round of family/friend visits on Friday and is back this afternoon.  The sun is on our balcony this early morning, shining on the geraniums and our new cushion covers, the bushes along the wall are swaying in the breeze and the Channel is in turquoise-blue mode with little white horses flourescing in the shallows.

Bea has made me a beautiful butterfly robe to wear for hospital - it is light and silky and will be so easy to get into.  And she has made a lovely silk scarf for Jackie.   And yesterday, Aunt Jo, my only other remaining aunt, rang and we had a long chat. She is concerned about the operations that face me... and is not all that well herself.

One of the many things you don't think about when you are young is that, as you get older, you will lose all your uncles and aunts.  They seem as fixed as the stars in the sky when you are a child. And of course that you will become an aunt yourself. And then - gulp - a great aunt - four times over so far.

Aunt Jo, looking so young and glamorous, is in the first photo of me ever taken.

How quickly it all goes.   Well, as I have said before, that was one of the things that set me searching - nearly 30 years ago.  Was there any meaning to it all?  Is this all the time we get to spend with the people we love?   That, and above all, the beauty and glory of the world.   I came to realise it had been made so beautiful just for us. By Someone.  And I wanted to find that Someone and thank Him.

And, then of course, I talked to two Jehovah's Witnesses who called at my door and found out what the Bible on my shelf had been trying to tell me all along.

I only hope that, after the operations, I can get back out there and try to tell others myself.

Friday, 21 June 2013


Bea and I were entertaining each other with our failed railway journeys down the years.  Bea was remembering how she sailed past her stop on an unfamiliar line one snowy winters night in the North, and that reminded me of an experience of my own, also on a cold dark night, but in the South, many years ago.

I was taking a train home for the first time and hadn't realised that it was a splitting train, until it began to dawn on me that we were going through some oddly named stations - insofar as I could see through the snow and the gloom.  I then found out that I was in the wrong half of the train, and it had already split.  The other half was heading home, the half I was in was going somewhere else altogether.

So I got off at the next stop at a little country station, crossed over the footbridge, and caught the next train going back, intending to get off at the first familiar station, cross over again, wait for my train, and get in the right half this time.

However - and you may have seen this coming (I didn't) - the next train was also a splitting train, and, once again, I was in the wrong half.

I ended up at some even smaller and darker country station - not a soul about - waiting in a waiting room with an old fashioned fire, watching a little harvest mouse whizz round the room and the wastepaper baskets like a mad clockwork toy.  It was a darling little thing.

Then, through the silence and gloom the figure of a man loomed up at the door.  He was in uniform and was holding something. It was the Stationmaster and he was holding a nice hot cup of tea.

"You're in for a long cold wait, love, so I've brought you some tea."

Well, you can pretty much carbon date that experience from the way it ended- back in the Nicecupofteaocene Era.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The House of Two Milks

Bea arrives tomorrow.  But we will remain the house of Two Milks, as she is not on the soya at the moment.  My June magazines have all been delivered and Ursula rang up to say thanks and to have a chat.

A quiet day of housework, studying, and watching daytime TV.

I have been re-reading my climbing books, and have re-climbed Everest with Bear Grylls, John Krakauer, and Matt Dickinson.   They all take you right up there with them - even though, in my case, I do slow everyone down as they have to wait for me to zimmer up the difficult bits.

It has reminded me though that life is too precious to climb mountains.  It is a gamble, from top to bottom.  The strongest and most careful climber can die up there. And a rescue is pretty much impossible. That was demonstrated only too tragically in John Krakauer's "Into Thin Air", as Rob Hall and Andy Harris both died trying to save Doug Hansen.

I hope all three of them will wake up when the time comes, and see this lovely earth again.  I don't think Jehovah will forget them.  

As Job said: 
"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."


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Butterfly Paperwork

The second batch members for May arrived on Thursday, and their membership packages now await Captain Butterfly's next trip to the Post Office. 

Lovely sea yesterday. There was a strong wind - the balcony geraniums were waving about and the waves were racing at us.  Tennis at Queens seemed to have been rained off.

To Jacks for supper last night - fizzy wine, salmon, with a dill sauce, and choc ices - after a good cheese selection.  I have been craving something chocolate all week.  And to the meeting this morning, self-chauffered, as Captain B has had to get into his Superhero mode and go out on another rescue. His call-out buzzer rang at 4.00 this morning - and at 1.30 last night.  I am exhausted, so I dread to think how tired he is going to be when he gets back.

Its raining, and we will soon find out if Queens has been rained off again.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Walking - and the Increasing of Lawlessness Worldwide

Tuesday involved walking down seemingly endless miles of hospital corridors. I really should have taken advantage of the wheelchairs provided but I feel somehow that once I get into one I will never get out again...

Captain B was hurtling about all day, chauffering me, visiting the plover - no sign of the hatched egg scuttling about on the beach - which is either very worrying or  a tribute to its perfect camouflage -  posting a lot of butterfly magazines which have been requested by Audrey, and which I can parcel up but no longer take to the Post Office.

Yesterday was very quiet - I was exhausted - I felt like someone who had just tottered down from the summit of Everest - by one of the harder routes - in a blizzard (it was raining).

The increasing of lawlessness worldwide - a friend who lives in a quiet little cul de sac nearby had a terrible evening (dis)courtesy of a load of young  - very young - 11? 12? year old - thuglets, who damaged her house, threw stones at her windows, and upon her daring to object, shrieked obscenities at her, and said - correctly - "there is nothing you can do".

When she dialed 999 in desperation, the Police were wonderful, as was the girl on the other end of the phone who could hear what was happening and who told her not to go outside but to STAY on the phone till the police arrived.  Though it must be deeply frustrating for them, as in the end there is nothing much the law allows them to do.

But then the whole world is run by Satan and he encourages and rewards the sort of behaviour he wants - i.e. lawlessness.  He earned his title, Satan, by his rebellion against his Creator.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Yellow Poppies

Yellow Horned Poppy, Glaucium flavum
Captain Butterfly has given me a glimpse of the poppies now out on the beach via his camera. 

I drove to the Hall yesterday- and managed the reverse out of the (non-existent) carpark.  I feel a bit guilty taking up the elders offer of parking, as I don't want to be the thin end of a wedge for them. I am not the only one in the congregation with walking difficulties.

The Captain took me out for lunch to Arundel today.  The new bird lake is now filled up with water and is in the process of being planted.  There is a Kingfisher bank, and a new hide.  And a little island. It should be lovely. And this is surely one of the things Jehovah put us on the earth to do, to garden it, to make it a Paradise for man and the animal creation.

We had a nice lunch - quiche and salad for me, spag bol for him - and then I did my studying for the day - Jeremiah and Acts - while Col tried to photograph some warblers in the reeds.  I watched a mother duck and her ducklets bobbing about on the lake. She was bringing them across to the other side when a seagull came in for a landing.  It suddenly put the brakes on as it realised it was going to land right by the ducklings. Wisely I think.  Mum was already rearing up in a scary way.

Then the littlest duckling, in the rear, got fascinated by something in the water, and suddenly realised it had got left behind.  It clockworked like a jet plane across the water and got safely back to mum. Thank goodness.  What a dangerous world it is at the moment for the tiny things.

Spent much of this afternoon ringing up about medical appointments.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Butterfly tongues

Captain Butterfly is getting ready for a Butterfly Conservation Day tomorrow.  The flat is full of colourful posters and handouts and what have you, all trying to alert people to the stresses on the butterfly populations.  Get things right for them, and it becomes right for so many other things.

I wondered if he would like copies of my "Butterfly Tongue Pate Recipe (a million butterflies a bite)" as an extra handout, but he went pale, and waved garlic at me.

A wonderful meeting last night.  I know I keep saying that, but the teaching just gets better and better, as they give us a deeper and deeper insight into the Inspired Scriptures.  We are still in our study of Jeremiah, and we can learn so much from how faithfully he kept going in very difficult times.  He relied completely on Jehovah, and not one of us will get through unless we have that strong a faith.

We begin the book of Acts next week, and once again learn how faithful, valiant and beleaguered the first Christian congregation was.

Col kindly chauffered both me and Audrey - we had door to door service to and from the Kingdom Hall.

When I got back I found there was a programme about William Tyndale on, with Melyvn Bragg presenting.  It was a powerful tribute to Tyndale and the love had for the Inspired Word of God and his determination to translate it into the vernacular so that everyone in England would be able to read it for themselves.  The programme pointed out how the power of his translation had a profound effect on the English language. As it would, given that the Bible is inspired by the Creator of language.   And Tyndale made his translations from the original language.

He died a terrible death - burnt at the stake - because of his determination that God's word should be read by all.  Jehovah will never forget that. So William Tyndale will surely live again. And if he was one of the saints, or "holy ones", (something for Jehovah to decide, not us), then he will already have been resurrected to heavenly life.

And I did wonder what he thought of the programme, if so. I hope he would have approved.

I did nothing yesterday beyond minimal housework, get us our lunch and supper, and do my studying...  I must do better today.   Maybe I should go and read to my moth babies on the balcony and get them reading ahead of time. I don't want to fall behind the other moth-ers in the coming sessions at the school gates. 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wave Dancer

I have also been reading "No Safe Harbour - the Tragedy of the Dive Ship Wave Dancer" by John Burnworth.  He was a diver on the ship that was moored beside the Wave Dancer when the hurricane threw her across Big Creek Harbour (in Belize) and sunk her, killing 20 people: seventeen members of the Richmond Dive Club and three crew members.

What is especially tragic about it is that no-one else died in Big Creek Harbour that day, even those on the other boat.  No-one should have died.  Apparently the Captain could have taken the advice to run the boat into the mangrove swamps, but didn't.  The Belizean crew realised the danger, but the Captain was not a local.  I don't think he had been through a hurricane before, and I suppose its hard to imagine the power and devastation.

I presume that would have worked as the hurricane threw the boat at the mangroves and a couple of them survived because they were thrown off the boat into the mangroves before it turned over.   So presumably, all that would have happened, had they only been there to start with, is that the boat would have been driven further into the swamp but it would have been held upright. 

The boat may have been lost, but it was lost anyway, along with twenty lives.

The survivors, including the Captain, were very brave in the aftermath, swimming about in that storm trying to rescue people - some divers even going inside the upside down boat.  Which is probably one of the most dangerous things a diver can do.

I have been on so many dive trips with dive club members - mostly American too - that I felt almost as if I knew all the people on the trip - knew how lighthearted it would all be - how much fun everyone would have -  how they would talk about the diving in the bar in the evening. And then, all in a few minutes, most of them were gone.  One couple had two young sons.

I hope they have a wonderful awakening ahead of them when the earth is restored to Paradise.  We will still find the power of nature awe-inspiring, but it will no longer hurt us.  If you remember, Jesus, as the King of Jehovah's kingdom, had the authority to calm the storm.

Managed a totter to Waitrose yesterday, supervised by Captain B.  And made us lunch and supper.  And studied. Oh and had a long talk with Audrey and short one with Carol, my last householder, about caterpillars, but that was about it for yesterday.  Paid for my dizzy exploits in Waitrose today and have spent too much of the day lying on the bed trying to reduce the pain in my knees.

Some of the caterpillars that I discussed with Carol have now moved in and are in a caterpillar nursery on the balcony. Apparently they will turn into beautiful - and definitely NOT carpet - moths.  I must get some spiderweb and start knitting lots of little bootees for my new batch of children.

Monday, 3 June 2013

A Virtual Walk on the Beach

Sea Kale, Crambe maritima
Captain B did the walking and brought the photos back for me.

Another sunny day today.  The meeting yesterday was full of comfort and reassurance.  A wonderful talk by David - reminding us of what  a protection godly respect for authority is for us.

All being well, a very quiet day ahead.  In which I hope to start my studying for the week, continue restoring order after the bathroom chaos and make us lunch or dinner, depending on when Captain B will be dining today.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Washing China by the English Channel

That could be the title of a Booker Prize winner, if I could write the book to go along with it.  But I did spend much of yesterday washing all our china and bits and pieces - a lifetime collection.   Captain Butterfly had wrapped them up and put them away for the duration of the building work, and I unwrapped and washed and polished for most of yesterday.

That always used to be my job, wrapping the china for our many moves, but I am about as much use as a chocolate teapot a lot of the time now.  I did have a proud record of No Breakages, which I spoilt in our last week in Expatland.  I had taken a whole load of carefully wrapped china round to an Indian friend who worked at the hospital. I gave her all our china.  Or I thought I had, but when I got back, I found some more plates in a cupboard in our vast American kitchen.  It crossed a dateline or two, and I once found a whole cupboard full of tea and coffee I didn't even know I had.   Crossly and carelessly I wrapped the plates up, drove too fast over a speed bump on my way back to her place, and broke one!

Jacks came round and we had our usual happy evening. We always seem to cheer each other up.  We had fish pie - all had second helpings - and a fancy fruit salad with ice-cream.

Its a sunny morning, and was sunny yesterday.  I was able to do my studying for the meeting today out on the balcony.

Today I hope to move all the books back out of my bedroom into the restored bookshelves, and get the bathroom stuff sorted and restored to my new bathroom.