Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Long(ish) March

I delivered the magazine to Bob yesterday - sans stick - and after a chat with him - he also took a "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" - I carried on, crossed the road, not holding on the Captain's arm (he was off butterflying) and posted my letter to Vera.   It really is a second childhood, and so I am now re-learning to cross the road on my own.

Our Watchtower study this week is all about caring for the elderly...

Talked to Audrey, talked to Jeremy about the upcoming lunch for Aunt Jo in London - don't know yet if I will be up to a trip to London, but hope we might make it.  Did a couple of loads of washing, some routine dusting (that never ends) and tried to work out what to cook for Jacks tonight.  Decided on Chinese, as Col was shopping at a large supermarket. He was there on butterfly business, as a rare butterfly - lets call it The Duke of Fritillary - had been spotted nearby.

However, and so much for giant supermarkets, they did not have all the ingredients I wanted. And it was nothing very exotic, I am just planning stir fry chicken and mushrooms and stir fried veggies in a sweet/sour sauce.   How it will turn out now I don't know. On the bland side, I suppose. Plus the Captain came home very grumpy as he loathes food shopping, and especially shopping for food in giant supermarkets.  I am with him on the second one, but look forward to getting back to shopping for myself, as I often only decide what to cook when I see what's available.

Anyway, he did a valiant job, killed sackloads of groceries, slung them over his manly shoulders and brought them home.

It is a sunny morning here - the Captain flew off with sandwiches and cameras tucked under his wing as soon as I opened the windows - and I have had a half hour of studying on the sunny balcony.  I am praying a lot about getting back to going out on the door to door walk again, as I hope to do over the summer. I do not find it easy. But then who does?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Treasures of the Beach

Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula
Yesterday was a grey day- the Channel was a blue-grey, well more a grey-blue, with dark clouds above, and a perhaps ominous calm.  Though no storm came our way.  The Captain drove me to a beach where we saw Ringed Plover parents with their two fluffy chicks.  They have done well to manage to bring two up - there is so much against them. Too many dog walkers, too many seagulls, too many foxes.
Ringed Plover chick
I walked a little and found a wall I could perch on among the treasures of the beach; the stones, the shells, the egg cases of various sea creatures, and the fluffy chicks.  The sea always makes me think of eternity - of being here on the earth, thousands of years from now, with the Captain - watching the ringed plovers bringing up their chicks - able to go up and say hello.   They wouldn't be scared of me then.  And it also makes me think of childhood holidays with my parents, so many years ago, in Cornwall.  It was a remote and empty place.  Those Cornish beaches of the 1950s remain my ideal - the perfection of seaside.

I managed to restock the freezer with marmalade muffins - though I had to use goats butter.  Will the Captain notice?  He will if he reads this...  oh dear.

We are enjoying soups from our Soupmaker - a great invention.   And I am enjoying The Great British Menu. Watching it, not eating it.  Though I would love to eat some of those dishes, given the chance.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Redundant Bees

Yellow-legged Mining Bee, Andrena flavipes
We travelled without my stick to Arundel for lunch yesterday on a  rainy Bank Holiday.   Lots of children there.  I had my usual veggie pasta and salad and The Captain had a rather pallid sausage with mash. He then left me with my coffee and went off to prowl the hides.  It was not photography weather.

While he was away we had a tragedy.   One wall of the restaurant is glass so we look out over the bird lake and island - and a herring gull took a tiny duckling.  It was not a quick death - the valiant little thing struggled - and in the end the gull seemed to drown it.  Before eating it.

Such a short life - and it ended in terror.    The serpent is still in the garden.  But not for much longer now.

I finally got down to my magazine route calls, and all are parcelled up and ready to go, apart from the one I can now deliver on my own - and hopefully without stick.  Its a sunny morning, with showers forecast.  The Captain's Big Butterfly Day Out has had to be cancelled so I hope I have booked him for some shopping and posting.

I came across a sad thing today when browsing the internet. Caroline Glyn, author of the wonderful "Don't Knock the Corners off" - a book that every Minister for Education ought to read (along with Andrea Ashworth's "Once in a House on Fire"), died at the age of 33 - and in a convent at that.    Following  a link on the blog I see she had a congenital heart condition.    What a writer she was.

The poor bedraggled yellow legged mining bee on the Captain's Log!   If only he had had some honey with him he could have helped it. Most bees perk up amazingly if you give them a bit of honey.   No wonder its in trouble though. There isn't really any mining industry left.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Sunny Sunday

Mullein Wave, Scopula marginepunctata
But its a Bank Holiday weekend - so can the sunshine last?    Captain Butterfly chauffered me to the meeting this morning, and after a soup lunch he flitted off to photograph things.  He is into micro moths at the moment - and we have had a little moth visitor who was comprehensively photographed before he left.  I hope he wasn't Carpetus Carpetus.

The Watchtower study article today was all about us old crocksters, so I was able to contribute quite a lot. Although how did this happen?  Just yesterday, I was a young wife...

We got together with Tom and Jackie last night - and Jackie cooked us paella. Which was followed by cheese and a raspberry roulade.   All delicious.   Plus Tom had brought champagne!   The weather wasn't very Spanish though, as it monsooned all night. He is taking us out for a pub lunch next month.  Another landmark in my recovery, I hope.

We got news from the Oz Branch of the family - the children are growing up fast.    And Aunt Jo and I had a telephone chat.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Yet Another Landmark

I wish I could convey the beauty of the light on the Channel as we did our Landmark Walk almost to the pier.   A stickless walk too.  The sea was stormy, the wind was very strong. Everything was so lovely, filling me full of confidence in the Creator of it all, Jehovah of armies.


More Landmarks

The dizzying, heady excitement of it all.  Yesterday I went to the Library, and to the Meeting in the evening without my stick.  WITHOUT MY WALKING STICK.   Same same for our lunch at the Wildlife Trust the day before.  The stickless Mrs.Captain B had mushroom and spinach pasta, while the Captain had spag bol.

Feel exhausted today, but we have planned an early morning walk by the beach.

Odd weather - violent rainstorms yesterday, with thunder and even hail in some parts of the UK.  The Channel is quite stormy this morning.  There is a strong wind blowing. It should be a bracing walk if we take it.

We are looking at the example of faith and courage that Abraham left us in our current studies.  And its something I need to think about as I creak back towards the time when I start to drive again and can get back out on the doors.  I know it doesn't compare with what Abraham did, but I don't find any of it easy.

He will certainly be in the earthly Paradise...  will we?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Summer Meadows

The photos on the Captain's Log are making me think of summer meadows - and of our trip to the Tyrol in early June, many years ago. We spent a lot of time knee deep in wildflowers.  And I wrote this.

by me

Through Colin’s camera we saw
Tiny details of the Tyrol
Little flat mushrooms
Stained glass inside flowers
And on moths’ wings
One foot of Tyrolean meadow
Could occupy us all day.

I have done so little - washed out by the arthritis flare-up - that its hard to know what to put in the blog.  I had a Butterfly query to sort out yesterday, which involved a bit of a paper chase - but its all done and the relevant paperwork is heading for the post office.  And yesterday was my annual health check.  Louise was working there that day and we had a brief chat as she flew past.  My bp is up - probably because of the pain.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Making Soup and Short Stories

Nute and Pen left yesterday.  Sad they had to leave, but a  lovely few days, only marred by my having a violent arthritis flare-up in the recently operated leg. Very strange and painful - where arthritic bit meets metal bit.  I was back on a zimmer frame for half a day or so.  I am now rather lopsided.

We got a lot of writing done. They both have thrillers in the pipeline, and I have managed to polish up another story for my coming anthology.  It is a story I wrote many years ago, that has been given an update.

Jackie came round to join us for fish and chips on Friday (followed by ice-cream and sorbet). We had a fun evening.   And the girls bought me a SoupMaker!   Pen and I spent about 5 minutes chopping such veggies as I had in - the remaining carrots, a couple of potatoes, and an onion, plus a few salad leaves, fresh ginger, an orange (zest and juice), chile, and a stock cube, poured in some water, pressed the On switch, and 21 minutes later out came a tasty vegetable soup.  I hope we will be using it a lot.

All the congregation family were at the Assembly yesterday, so no meeting today.  Audrey and I chatted on the phone - neither of us being well enough to go.

I found this when doing my studying for the week - we are in Exodus at the moment:

"Now 75 years old, Abraham began to move his household out of Haran to the land of Canaan, where he lived out the remaining hundred years of his life in tents as an alien and migratory resident. (Ge 12:4)
It was following the death of his father Terah that Abraham went out from Haran in 1943 B.C.E. and crossed the Euphrates River, evidently on the 14th day of the month that later became known as Nisan. (Ge 11:32; Ex 12:40-43, LXX) It was at that time that the covenant between Jehovah and Abraham went into effect, and the 430-year period of temporary residence until the making of the Law covenant with Israel began.—Ex 12:40-42; Ga 3:17." (This is from "Insight on the Scriptures, Vol.I; published by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.)

Once again I note the significance of the date of Nisan 14 in the Inspired Scriptures.  That is also the date of the Passover, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, and its blood sprinkled on the doors of the Israelites, so that the angel of death passed over their houses.  

Jesus - "the lamb of God" - was sacrificed on the same day.  And Christians are to memorialise his death on Nisan 14.   It makes me wonder...  will there be some further significance to the date?   Well, I hope we are all there - in the restored earthly Paradise - to find out.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


We are probably going to get a visit from The Royal Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants as Linda has just emailed a health bulletin on our Amaryllis.  Apparently it was almost terminally potbound!     It has now been re-homed and is convalescing in her conservatory. Poor little bulb.

I am jotting some disjointed things down and hope that they will suddenly come to life and make a story. It only has to be a short one.   I am also thinking of all the excellent short stories I have read.   Elizabeth Jane Howard's "Three Miles Up" for example.  If I could come up with something half as good as that.  Pen is working away beside me, and Nute arrives today, if all goes to plan.

I have the title (how does "Four Miles Up" sound?) - I just lack the right words to go beneath it.  Those I've put down - some of them  - may be right, but they completely lack a context.

The rhubarb became a crumble  - an excellent one too, though I says it myself as shouldn't.  The Captain was out on a full day of butterfly excursions with various enthusiasts. I made him two boxes of sandwiches. Foodwise, I am keeping it easy - salads, a takeaway on Friday (when Jackie joins us), and a chill cabinet chicken dish for tonight.  And I have a load of ice-creams and sorbets in the freezer. Thank you Waitrose, and isn't it about time you put me on a salary?

The weather is good and the sea is calm.  A couple of days ago we had rainbows - and hail!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Taken into Care!

Our Amaryllis has been taken into care, by Linda.  All hers are flowering.  Ours, clearly suffering from emotional neglect, is not.  She will bring it back when its flourishing again, but I suspect we will have to prove, to her satisfaction, that we are suitable flower parents.  And fair enough.  Even our orchids which have been splendid for years are not doing brilliantly at the moment.

Is it all the medical stuff that has got to them?  I feel washed out, and poor old Captain Butterfly has been burdened too.

Pen arrives tomorrow, and Nute the next day. And we will settle down to some writing and some reminiscing about old times.   I am desperately trying to think of what to write, but I woke in the early hours and remembered that I had worked it out.  I need another story for my (hopefully soon to be published) anthology.  My young publisher is up to his eyes in more contemporary stuff at the moment. But he does appreciate the idea in my long short story - and the way I have worked it out.   I have put a theme that is more relevant now than when i wrote it into a childhood setting.

I have thought of a title - quite a good one I think (and that is harder than you might imagine) - but as yet I have no idea of the story that goes with it.  Maybe the sisters can help...

There was a double rainbow over the sea yesterday, after a monsoon that almost flooded the balcony.  It was beautiful beyond belief - and you can see a photo of it on The Captain's Log.

"And the rainbow will occur in the cloud, and I will certainly see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of every kind on the earth.”  God repeated to Noah: “This is the sign of the covenant that I establish between me and all flesh that is on the earth.""

Monday, 12 May 2014

A Takeaway Curry (from Cooks)

I "Cooked" a curry last night. Which is to say we went to Cooks and bought two of their special offer Curry takeaways.  They are offering a main mean for two, plus a rice dish for two, plus a side dish, for a tenner. So we got chicken, beef, dahl, a cauliflower dish and two different rices.  Jackie and Linda joined us.  It was nice. We all had second helpings. I didn't think I would have the energy to cook, given my day out on Saturday and the Sunday meeting. We actually over-ran on Sunday by 20 minutes, which is most unusual for us. Everything usually goes exactly to time.  But it was the last C.O. talk, and he showed all the rest of the children's artwork. Fortunately my chauffeur, the gallant Captain Butterfly, was late too (got caught up in his wildlife filming) so he was spared lots of anxious clucking by mobile phone from Mrs.Captain wondering where he was.

It reminded me how many children we have in the congregation - so many families.  And there is a whole group who were little girls when I was first attending, on our repats, who are now pretty young teenagers.

A generation is coming, and a generation is going.

The Circuit Overseer mentioned both old and young in his talk.  And he gave us old crocks this comforting reminder from the Book of Daniel.  When Cyrus let the Jews return to their homeland, Daniel was too old and frail to go with them, and he had to stay in Babylon.

At that point, Jehovah sent an angel to him with this lovely comforting message:   “O Daniel, you very precious man, give attention to the words that I am about to speak to you. Now stand up in your place, for I have been sent to you.” - Daniel 10:11

He reassures Daniel. His years of faithful service have made him very precious to Jehovah.  The angel then gives Daniel that amazing prophecy about the struggle between the King of the North and the King of the South, taking us right through both world wars.  And that prophesy assures us that, even though the world will remain divided until this system of things is brought to its end, there will not be a third world war. The two kings will not go head to head again.

We can see why now too, as, given the state of modern weaponry, WW3 would ruin the earth.

Then Daniel finishes this way, when the angel says to Daniel:   “But as for you, go on to the end. You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” - Daniel 12:13

Daniel sleeps in death to this day - knowing nothing of the years going by over his head - but he remains in Jehovah's memory, treasured by his Creator for his years of faithful service.  And so he will wake from the sleep of death, and stand up for his "lot", his allocation in the restored earthly Paradise, when the current system of things has ended. He will wake up during the Millennial Reign.

He will certainly be there.  Jehovah, the Great Purposer, has said so.  But will I?  Will I get to meet and talk to Daniel?  Its something to hope for.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A Landmark Tour (and Philip Jackson sculptures)

This was my first real outing for months. We went to an open day at the sculptor Philip Jackson's garden in aid of the Murray Downland Trust.  Captain Butterfly works on the conservation project at Heyshott Escarpment in the winters.   And we did a little tour of the Captain's domain. We looked at the Escarpment from the road, and we went to the Lord's Piece to see if we could hear the crickets.   However the wind was so strong that I don't think we would have heard a pride of lions roaring - had the Piece contained one.

It was a beautiful morning - bright sunshine through clouds and a strong wind.    And blossom everywhere.   We lunched (un)healthily off a hotdog and a cup of tea and home-made cakes - all made by volunteers and all delicious.  We have brought back a lemon drizzle cake for supper tomorrow (Jackie is coming).
Philip Jackson's garden is lovely - with his elegant and witty sculptures meeting us a every turn.  He has a large clear pond/mini lake fed by a stream.  Its a garden that has lots of rooms, and its in a charming Sussex village.   Its the sort of place everyone will have in the Paradise earth.  For one thing, we will all be young and healthy then.  Much as I loved the Philip Jackson garden (and am grateful to him for letting us visit it), I do acknowledge that, at the moment, a two-bed flat and a balcony is as much as we can cope with.  And we have this sea view - the shining Channel is covered with racing white horses at the moment.  And there are loads of lovely gardens to visit.
I had an undignified struggle over the little humpbacked bridge, but made it. And managed to sit out in the tea garden chatting to two friendly ladies ("as the doctor said to me when I had my tubes tilted..."), and managed to get up again with a little help from the gallant Captain. I have got used to carrying a bag of cushions around to raise seats - but today I did without. And I seem to be ok...  tomorrow morning will tell, but all seems well.

We bought some home made rolls from the tea shop and are going to have a ploughman's supper.We also bought some rhubarb, so I must make a crumble.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Morris Dancing Penguins

The blossom!  Laburnum, lilac, chestnut candles.  It was a grey and rainy day, but it made the fresh greens of May shine. We drove through the beauty to the appointment with my young surgeon in the afternoon.  A long wait, as usual, but all is well with the healing and he won't see me again till next year.

The hospital penguins had been dressed as Morris dancers - caps and bells and whatnots - to celebrate May Day I guess.  By the way, these are the big penguin statues in the hospital courtyard garden, not the real mccoy - before anyone phones the RSPCA.

Steve and family kindly chauffered me to the meeting last night - even driving right into the Hall carpark, which I assured them I didn't now need. It was very kind though, as I would probably have had to cross a road from their usual parking spot, and that is not as easy as it used to be. I need a fairly large gap in the traffic nowadays. The Captain was out Search and Rescue training. It was our second C.O. Talk.  I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet, and am puzzling as to what his accent is.   "Busy" is "beezee" and I heard "Jesus' Apostles" as "Jesus' applesauce", which threw me for a moment. Its a charming accent - and he is (of course) a wonderful speaker.   But what is it?  The problem is I am tone deaf and find it hard to tell.

If it turns out he is a native Glaswegian, then I have just seriously embarrassed myself - and am even more tone deaf than previously supposed. I will have to put it down to old age - as usual.

The subject of his talk was all the changes the Society has made over the last 5 years - and are we keeping pace with the organisation - especially in the urgency of the preaching work - once again informal witnessing is being stressed.  Lots of food for thought and lots of room for improvement. And at the end he went through all the children's artwork. He had asked them to draw a picture of themselves in the restored earthly Paradise. Their friendship with the animals featured strongly - and that is something I often think about too. And nearly every drawing had a river in it.  Once again, this is something I have thought about - beautiful clean rivers to swim in.  A paradise memory from childhood is of swimming in the river at Chatsworth - surrounded by inquisitive fish.  It was one of those moments when the world suddenly seemed to be as it should.

The light on the Channel this morning!  I had to stop and thank Jehovah for it..  Who could get tired of this lovely lovely world.  And how wonderful it will be when its all at peace once again.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Overlapping Lives

Interesting point that came up at the meeting last night. We were discussing Abraham - trying to learn from his example of faith - plus it was our first talk from the new Circuit Overseer.

"Since true faith is based on accurate knowledge, Abraham may have received his understanding by personal association with Shem (their lives overlapped by 150 years). Abraham knew and used the name of Jehovah; to quote him: “Jehovah the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth,” “Jehovah, the God of the heavens and the God of the earth.”—Ge 14:22; 24:3."

I hadn't realised that Shem and Abraham had a 150 year overlap. Its easy to forget that people lived much longer then - being so much closer to that perfect start.   Our lives are so short now - a few decades at best, and that is it.

Today was butterfly paperwork - all done, dusted and flown to the Post Office.  We shared a pizza for our tea today.  Looking forward to Nute and Pen coming to stay next week. It seems an age since we got together.

Monday, 5 May 2014

A truly lovely wedding

It was a  lovely wedding day - a lovely bride - she was escorted to her handsome bridegroom by her son and grandson. The congregation family was there, the Kingdom Hall had special flowers, red roses in a bed of white somethings (Mrs Captain Butterfly's eyes are not what they were), and one of our brothers gave a talk. Starting with some very good jokes, and then into a beautiful exposition of what the Inspired Scriptures tell us about marriage - and how to apply all the instructions.

Steve and Geraldine are already doing that. They simply have to continue.  They both lost their partners, through illness,some years ago, so both come from a background of a happy and successful marriage.

Captain Butterfly enjoyed it too.  And appreciated the simplicity of it. There was a reception at The Windmill in the evening - a buffet table, and wine and beer.  The congregation family turned out in force.

We had supper at Jacks last night.  Chicken Kiev, new potatoes and salad, cheese and cake. With Oyster Bay wine!   A lovely summer supper, and a great evening - lots of laughs and mutual commiserations about our various plights. Many of which are to do with our not being as young as we were.

Its a Bank Holiday today - and the sun is shining.   Not that I want to go anywhere really, not on a sunny Bank Holiday.  One of the privileges of being old and retired is that you don't have to take your outings when everybody else does.

What I did today...  I keep forgetting to keep a record, but I want - hope - to be able to look back as the months go by and see an increase in energy and ability.  But will I?     So - 40 mins on balcony studying.  Cleaned fridge - and two loads of washing and some ironing done.  Talked to Maggie on phone - she can't make Tuesday but hope to see her Thursday. And yesterday Anne of the Cape and I had a long interesting chat on Skype. And we have watched an exciting Snooker final at the Crucible (in my Northern hometown) between Selby and O'Sullivan.  Selby won - by potting the black.  But it was very very close. One of those matches when you wish they could both win the Championship.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

A Wedding Day

Blue Bottle Fly, Calliphora vomitoria
Its Steve and Geraldine's wedding today.  And the sun has come out. Its quite cold, but a beautiful day.   If its possible to have favourite months - and I love them all - then May and September would be my favourites. All the green is so fresh and new - and the wildflowers!  The grass verges are starred with daisies, each one a miracle.

And the world of Butterfly is buzzing.  Or is that the world of Bee?     Col got an amazing shot of a bluebottle yesterday - I had never realised before what beautiful stained glass wings they have. Every time anybody casually swats one, they are killing a living Tiffany jewel.

As the year surges forward, full of vitality, I feel very out of step. But then I am only 3 years off my sell-by date (under the "threescore years and ten" rule).

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Voley - the Movie!

Yes, it was the water vole that the Captain photographed the other day (see The Captain's Log).   A darling little creature, tucking into his dinner.  And the water vole is very sweet too.

click for Vole video: Water Vole feeding

Its so Beatrix Potter, which shows what a good drawer and observer she was.

Roger was here - we lunched off lasagne, salad, and ice cream, and we looked at some old photos - of his leaving party - which we held at our house.  It gave me a strange feeling to see our expat home again. Looking at old photos can be quite painful as we all get older.

He bought us a slab of homemade fruit cake from Anne of the Cape!  What a perfect present.