Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Invisible Man

I have been re-reading Michael Coren's biography of H.G.Wells: "The Invisible Man  The Life and Liberties of H.G.Wells".  Most interesting.    I don't really have the energy to do it justice here.  Wells successfully forecast that WW2 would break out in 1939 - though he got many other things wrong.  He  was a strong proponent of eugenics (to be fair, many were at that time), and a big proponent of the League of Nations and a one world government.   Though I think he was disillusioned by the end.  And what a difficult man he must have been to be married to.  And what amazing energy he had as a writer!

When he was seventy years old, Literary London gathered together to celebrate, and he made a speech in which after thanking everyone for coming, he said:  "Yet all the time I will confess that the mellow brightness of this occasion is not without a shadow. I hate being seventy.... Tonight I am very much in the position of a little boy at a lovely party, who has been given quite a lot of jolly toys and who has spread his play about the floor.  Then comes his nurse, "Now Master Bertie," she says, "it's getting late. Time you began to put away your toys."  I don't in least want to put away my toys..."

I too don't in the least want to put away my toys. But I am not so far off my own seventieth now.

We were meant to live forever.

Captain Butterfly and his sandwiches left early for conservation purposes, and he travelled back via some lovely picture of gulls near Worthing.   I managed to get the dusting done and caught up on the washing and ironing. And had a hot meal ready for Himself the moment he came through the door.  Good timing on both our parts.   It was baked potato with beans and salad. And the usual yoghurt.  And it was sunny so I was able to do my studying on the balcony. We are back in Genesis at the moment - telling us where it all went wrong and why our lives are so short now, but also telling us how Jehovah is putting it right.   We are beginning to see the emerging of Israel, with the sons of Jacob.  I talked to Jackie and Audrey on the phone, and Dorothy of South Island sent an encouraging email from her latest ski trip.  The operation is looming closer and closer...   If it all goes horribly wrong I may have to put my toys away a lot sooner than I thought.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The First Pre-op Dream

But first, here is Stevie Smith again:

This Englishwoman (by Stevie)

This Englishwoman is so refined
She has no bosom and no behind.

A lovely little Stevie sketch accompanies the poem.

Captain B and his sandwiches left early on Sunday to join the treasure hunters, and I listened to the meeting on the phone line.  Can't think what I did Saturday, beyond hobble around whinging about the pain in my knees.

I did get all my magazine route calls ready for posting. I have 16 houses - so 32 magazines to go.  I didn't send any cards or letters with them this month, but did put some of the new tracts in.  David and Christine have taken over my seventeenth call and knock at her door every month. And rarely find her at home, which was my experience.

The meeting, by phone, was so interesting.  We started with the first verse of Genesis, and something else I had never noticed before (for all the times I have read it).  Genesis 2:15:  "And Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of E′den to cultivate it and to take care of it."

I hadn't registered the word "settle" before now.  The Speaker pointed out that Jehovah didn't just dump Adam down in the Garden of Eden, but "settled" him there.   Maybe one day we will find out - though not from Adam himself of course - just what that garden was like.  And learn of all the arrangements that Jehovah made.  I am guessing they must have told their children about it.

It is a sunny Monday morning.  White horses galloping across the Channel.  And last night I dreamt that I was in hospital, waiting all day for my op to start. That was realistic at any rate as last time, I was told to get there at 7.30 in the morning - and when I arrived, I was told my operation would not be until 4.30.    Those hours of terror, waiting, in a hospital, and feeling so frightened and thirsty are not a small part of the horror of the whole procedure.

Anyway, in my dream, I was served lunch along with everyone else. And it wasn't till later in the dream afternoon that I realised I would not now be able to have my op, as I was supposed to have been starved.  I suppose my mind is searching desperately for a way out.

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Light on the Channel

There was such a lovely light late afternoon - we have had a day of wintery sunshine with the odd afternoon shower - then some ominous clouds.  The Channel looks jewel like, with its white horses, its white seagulls, and its colours going and flowing.

The Captain was off beachcombing with butterfly Mark, and I have done my studying - on the balcony - and made a start on my magazine route.  All will have to be posted again of course.

Carola sent me some home-made marmalade. And Col took me to the meeting at the Hall last night.

My Stevie Smith obsession continues.  As a war poet - of WW2 - she is unique.

I REMEMBER  (by Stevie)

It was my bridal night I remember
An old man of seventy-three
I lay with my young bride in my arms
A girl with t.b.
It was wartime, and overhead
The Germans were making a particularly heavy raid on Hampstead.
What rendered the confusion worse, perversely
Our bombers had chosen that moment to set out for Germany.
Harry, do they ever collide?
I do not think it has ever happened,
O my bride, my bride.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Watching Paint Dry

A good night's sleep - and a vivid dream just before I woke up.  That I am now going to write down - so, if you need something a bit more exciting you can go and watch some paint drying.  I was back in Expatland - it was both deserty and industrial - with two of my brothers from the congregation, one Chinese, one Arab. We had been for a swim and they were walking me back home (so, yes - swimming, walking - it was definitely a dream). We had to stand outside the Holiday Inn type place where I was living, drinking tea out of paper cups.  Men were not allowed in the building. We even had to hide behind some bushes.

The arthritis flare-up has subsided, thank goodness.  But it did remind me depressingly of the pain of the operation to come.     Col was busy with his conservation work today, and I made a big veggie casserole that used up all the left over veg.

I am having a bit of a Stevie Smith obsession at the moment, as I posted one of her poems to an internet friend in America.

Alfred the Great  (by Stevie)

Honour and magnify this man of men
Who keeps a wife and seven children on £2.10
Paid weekly in an envelope
And yet he never has abandoned hope.

Many years ago Captain B and I saw "Stevie" at the Richmond Playhouse.  Glenda Jackson played Stevie, and Mona Washbourne played her aunt - "Auntie Lion".   I can't remember who played Freddy, but they were all good. It was a spellbinding evening at the theatre - relying so much on the power of Stevie's words.

Monday, 17 February 2014

John Milton and Bible Prophecy

As Captain Butterfly was at a Conference (with Butterfly Mark) yesterday, I had to listen in on the phone to the meeting.  So glad I was able to, as the Public Talk was exceptional.  It included such an interesting point about Milton - he of "Paradise Lost"/"Paradise Regained".   Clearly, from the poems, he did know what the Bible says, that it tells how we lost Paradise and how its going to be restored. And that the hope for obedient mankind is "to inherit the earth", not to go to heaven.

Apparently Isaac Newton knew that too.  But the fascinating thing is that Milton knew that the truth - which he spoke of as being fragmented - would not be taught clearly again until the time of Jesus' presence.

Which brings me back to the second question that Jesus' disciples asked him, after he told them that the Temple was going to be destroyed, when they asked:

“When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matthew 24:3.

So not only did they ask when the Temple would be destroyed (which happened in 70 C.E.) they asked how they would know when Jesus' presence began, and when the end of the present system of things on the earth was imminent.

Among the signs Jesus gave was this:  (Matthew 24:14) "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come."

So the end of the system would not come until the good news of the incoming Kingdom of God is preached all over the earth. And that is being done now.  Every attempt to stop the preaching work - and there have been many - have failed, because this is the time for it to be done.

John Milton, the poet, must have understood that from his Bible studies. The talk was about how vital and beneficial a study of the Inspired Scriptures is.

A painful day.  Severe arthritis attack in unoperated knee - a frightening reminder of the painful operation ahead - and it makes me worry about how I will cope if I have a severe arthritis attack after the op...     I wish they were more generous with the pain killers.

Can't think what I have done today - felt exhausted, kept falling asleep, realise it was the build up to this attack.  Talked to Audrey who is now back at the meetings so we hope to see each other on Thursday.  Bea rang - always nice to hear her voice. And I got a lovely email from my Bavarian sister-in-law.  Very good timing on her part, as kind words are good painkillers too.

It hasn't rained much today.  STOP THE PRESSES!   It Has Not Rained Much Today.   Thundery showers forecast for tomorrow though.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Sadness that Belongs to the World

This quote is from the first part of Janet Frame's autobiography "To the Is-land".

"I remember a gray day when I stood by the gate and listened to the wind in the telegraph wires. I had my first conscious feeling of an outside sadness, or it seemed to come from outside, from the sound of the wind moaning in the wires.  I looked up and down the white dusty road and saw no one.  The wind was blowing from place to place past us, and I was there, in between, listening. I felt a burden of sadness and loneliness as if something had happened or begun and I knew about it.  I don't think I had yet thought of myself as a person looking out at the world; until then I felt I was the world.  In listening to the wind and its sad song, I knew I was listening to a sadness that had no relation to me, which belonged to the world."

I understand that feeling.  But what is the sadness that belongs to the world?  She asks again a few chapters on, when she says:  "The aunts were there...and the uncles with their shy Frame look and the particular set of the lips that said, 'Everything should be perfect. Why isn't it?'"

Everything should be perfect. Why isn't it?

Janet Frame doesn't answer the question.  Yet the answer is there - and always has been - in the first chapters of Genesis. But "the world" will do all it can to make sure we don't hear it.  Just as it does not want us to know where we are in the stream of time.

We are born desperately lonely, cut off from our Creator, our Source of life. We are dying from the moment we are born.  It was not supposed to be like this.

And a rescue is on the way. That is the good news of the gospels - the urgent good news. Which brings me back to 1914 - a marked year in Bible prophecy.

We went to our first virtual book launch yesterday!    "Edge of Arcadia" by Ken Reah.

We are being hit by another violent storm - the wind howled round the flat all evening and was still doing so in the early morning.   Jacks came for supper last night. Cooks shepherds pie - very good and enough left for Captain B today.  I did carrots and broccoli with cheese sauce to accompany, and we had cheese, biscuits, grapes and ice-cream afterwards.   The Captain left early in a brief sunshine window which closed and the gale came back.  We keep having sunshine windows in the storm.   Strange strange weather.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Two Questions - and World War 1

The sun was out yesterday!  But it rained during the night - and the floods are deepening and spreading. And the strong wind seem to have caused some havoc nationwide.  Our plumber was telling us how he and his family were almost hit by a roof that was blown off an enormous barn.   Natural disasters...  which brings me back to two questions posed by Jesus' disciples - questions that had an urgent meaning for Christians back then, and an urgent meaning for us today.

Jesus has just told his disciples that the temple in Jerusalem is going to be destroyed.

"Departing now, Jesus was on his way from the temple, but his disciples approached to show him the buildings of the temple.  In response he said to them: “Do you not behold all these things? Truly I say to you, By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” " - Matthew 24:1,2

The 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel has also warned that, after the Messiah is "cut off" in death, Jerusalem and the Temple will be desolated.

The disciples then come to Jesus with two questions:   Matthew continues:  "While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”"

Two questions. Firstly: when will the Temple be destroyed?  And it was very urgent to pay attention, because if people did not get out of Jerusalem at the moment Jesus told them to, they were trapped there by the advancing Roman armies.  The Romans sacked Jerusalem, tore down the temple, stone by stone - and terrible slaughter ensued.   History records that those who had become Christians left at the time Jesus told them to. The Arch of Titus stands in Rome to this day, and memorialises the fulfillment of that prophecy.

But the disciples had also asked a second question.  What would be the sign of Jesus' presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?

The answer to that question brings us to 1914, and a time of increasing trouble in the world.  I hope to get back to that.

Jackie is coming for supper tonight - and I am wondering what to cook...   Or rather, have had to stop wondering, as my personal shopper (Captain Butterfly) fluttered off to Arundel yesterday, as the sun had suddenly come out, and a small photographic window opened. So he won't be shopping till today. In which case, it will be a question of what to buy from which chill cabinet.  And heat up.  Or should we have fish and chips?

My brain cells - all two of them - had better get to work.  Its quite frustrating not to be able to go out and choose something.  

I am up early - woke in the early hours, started thinking about coming hospital horrors - and can't sleep. I've just watched House Doctor. Lovely email from Anne o'the Cape in my inbox - and yesterday a beautiful card arrived from Bea.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Kierin and The Mogul

Watching the Winter Olympics I have become aware of  a new sport - it seems to be called The Mogul, and involves ski-ing over lots of bumps and leaping and swirling in the air every so often.  Even more amazing is another new thing (new to me anyway), in which they ski down bannisters then over immense ski jumps, sometimes backwards.

Isn't life scary enough!

Its wonderful but hard to watch as when the falls come they are really nasty ones.   I loved the other new (to me, definitely not to everyone else) Olympic sport at the London games - the Kierin.   I could identify with that - with the guy on the trike, who trundles slowly out, in no danger of crashing.  He never wins, mind you. But I can identify with that too.

And I missed my chance of a Winter Olympic silver...  if only...    A group of skiers were hurtling round the rink, all bunched up in the final lap, when one slipped and took the rest down with him - except one Aussie guy who had fallen behind.  He skated through and got the gold.  Now if I had only thought to enter, I would still have been picking my way carefully round the course, holding on to the barrier firmly with both hands, while everyone else was tangled in a dazed knot on the ice.  A little effort and I could have got silver.

I would have a lot of trouble getting up onto the podium to collect my medal though, so perhaps its all for the best.

Very rainy start to the day - strong winds - but a sunny coldish afternoon as promised.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Troll Wall

Dead and dying puffins are being found on the South Coast. They shouldn't be here, so I suppose it is something to do with the strange winter weather we are having.   It has been the wettest winter since records began - and with more to come.   At first I was excited to think we might see a puffin on our beach - one of the most charming of birds - but not when I realised that it would mean it was in deep trouble if so.

The sea is much calmer at the moment, and its not raining.  Its not raining!   But we are assured it soon will be again.  The news is full of the flooding which is now hitting the Home Counties hard.

We had a lovely evening at Jacks, of course. She had made us chicken kiev, which I love, with cauliflower cheese, which I also love.  Followed by cheese, including a creamy goats cheese for me, and a carrot cake - with ice cream.

A lovely meeting yesterday, and Maggie and I worked out that we won't see each other for a week as I can't make it on Thursday night (my chauffeur's night off) and she can't make it on Sunday - family visiting. Neither of us can travel at the moment - though it doesn't seem so long ago that we were both driving.

I have just read "Fiva" by Gordon Stainforth.  Wow!  If you want a good absorbing read for a journey, take this with you.  Its a true story of how two brothers went to climb the fearsome Troll Wall in Norway, back in 1969.Thinking it would be a much easier climb than it was, they go unprepared and...  well, read it.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Beast

A storm system they call The Beast is supposed to be hitting us at the moment. Its been an odd day. Sunshine with portentous dark clouds. And at 4 o clock, a few minutes ago, a violent storm outburst that sent the valiant dog walkers scuttling for cover.   The sea is driving forward very fiercely. I doubt the tide could go out even if it wanted to.

We are going to Jacks for supper tonight, so will likely get soaked.

At least I have managed a busy day.  Got the butterfly paperwork mountain climbed.  All is ready for the post office on Monday now.  And  I made a giant lamb casserole out of the shopping Col brought back yesterday. That will do us for Sunday, Monday and possibly beyond.  I am trying to keep my resolve up re the coming operation by reminding myself that I will be able to take over the food shopping from poor Captain B, who finds it very tiresome. Whereas I like to see what is out there - it helps me to decide what to cook.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

More Cakes

It was a bit of a cookery day yesterday - I made the veggies Col bought back into a veggie stew - not bad considering I forgot to add herbs - and then, realising I had just used the last muffin from the freezer, I made another batch - not a large one as not many eggs left. But at least I have a supply in.  Otherwise I could hear myself saying:  "Sorry there's no cake in your packed lunch, but I was too busy watching "The Great British Bake Off", "The Great British Bakery", "Cakes Galore" etc etc to do any baking..."  And I wanted to avoid that.

Feel a bit stir crazy today. So my bad leg must be healing. Or maybe I am sleeping a bit better?  Hope so. Not that I could go anywhere even if I was able, as it is pouring with rain again. The sea hasn't reached the levels it reached yesterday though. Yet.

The Captain and Butterfly Mark are off at a conference about waterways - rather an urgent subject just now where in so many places its hard to tell where waterways end and roadways begin.  He was here for lunch though - pork pie and salad for him, the rest of the veggie stew for me.  It was a nice pork pie, from the Farm Shop, but I eat very little meat nowadays.

Actually the waves are quite spectacular now. I was just looking out of the balcony doors. There is a noise as of a thousand freight trains and the balcony is awash.

I have been having an interesting internet conversation with someone called Eli - we were talking about the way Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses behaved during WW2, both of them knowing they should stay out of it and not kill.  But coming from slightly different angles. Quakers, as I understand it, are pacifists.  We, JWs, are neutrals, we try to be "no part" of the world, taking no part in its divisive politics and cruel wars.  We don't vote, so can't exercise even an indirect influence on things political. And we were severely persecuted by both sides during WW2.  Possibly Quakers were too?  Eli and I didn't get round to discussing that.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A new career?

I was watching the repeats of  "The Great British Bake-off", watching the judges Mary (Berry) and Paul (Hollywood) sampling sponge cakes filled with cream and chocolate and strawberries, and iced buns, and chocolate croissants, and what have you, and I wondered how I could get a job like that.

I would have sent off my CV, but the Captain pointed out we couldn't afford the door-widening and floor-strengthening that would be needed after I waddled home from my first day at work.   He is probably right -but those cakes!

He chauffered me to my appointment with the Anaethetist this morning. You don't just have an operation nowadays - there are all sorts of  hurdles to be got over first.   I am very grateful for the NHS though. An internet acquaintance in the U.S.of A. had terrible trouble trying to get treatment for cancer - the stress of it being enough to give anyone cancer - and now, under this new Thingummy they have, she apparently can't get any treatment at all, without paying a fortune for it, which she simply does not have.   Its a pity they didn't take a close look at the NHS - see what works and what doesn't - and tailor their health care accordingly.

Once again, as I don't get out much, I was surprised by the extent of the flooding.  And more rain is on the way.  The sea has been very stormy, and the wind is starting to get up.  It looks like the incoming tide will come over the road again tonight.

I got a card and letter off to Vera, who is in hospital and not at all well. And am talking to Audrey most days now she is home. She is housebound too - and is trying out meals on wheels. She said her first one was very good.   My mother used to deliver meals on wheels for some years.  That was a long long time ago, so its good to know they are still around.  Dorothy of South Island was in touch - is on her way to a ski-ing holiday with daughter and grandaughter.  My ski-ing days are long gone - insofar as they ever existed.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

WW1 Redux

The Pity of It

Thomas Hardy

I walked in loamy Wessex lanes, afar
From rail-track and from highway, and I heard
In field and farmstead many an ancient word
Of local lineage like "Thu bist," "Er war,"

"Ich woll," "Er sholl," and by-talk similar,
Nigh as they speak who in this month's moon gird
At England's very loins, thereunto spurred
By gangs whose glory threats and slaughters are....

This poem is dated April 1915, so was written at a time when war frenzy had been whipped up and the first ever world war was under way. So it is a brave poem.  It is also a linguistic window into time...  a look down the time telescope back to the time when Dorset - Hardy's Wessex - was part of the ancient kingdom of the West Saxons.  

If Genesis tells the truth about our origins - as I believe it does - than all wars are civil wars - all wars are brother fighting brother.  And here it is so obvious- the language in the remote villages is signalling that these are the same people.  How was brother turned against brother so quickly, so easily, and so lethally?

And without that conflict and the punitive - and unChristian - treatment of the losing side, would Hitler have risen to power in Germany?  So the seeds were being set for WW2 even as Hardy wrote this.

Who are they "at root and bottom" of this?

The answer lies in the Inspired Scriptures.   And that is why for decades Jehovah's Witnesses were warning about 1914 - even though we did not then fully understand what was going to happen.

The Captain kindly chauffered me to the meeting this morning. We had a lovely talk about the cure for all our sickness, which included a reminder that we are getting this excellent training in how to teach not just for now - though now is urgent! - but for the great teaching work to be done in the millennium as, one by one, the dead are re-created from the ground of dust and wake to find themselves in Paradise.

Tom and Jackie were round on Friday night - and we had a fun evening together - lots of laughter.  It was a wild and stormy night though.   This morning was sunny with a clear blue sky, but as we drove along the seafront to the Hall, we saw that the sea had come over the road in two places - and it was close to coming over this morning