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.