Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Hot ice cream

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
The little girls on the 25th:

Me.   "Do you like turkey Eleanor?"
Eleanor:   "No."
Me;  "Do you like: roast potatoes/sausages/trifle/chocolate log/fruit salad/strawberry ice-cream?"
Eleanor:  "No times 6"  with a slight pause when she asked what a chocolate log was.

She made a hearty lunch off the despised items.

Me:   "Do you like Uncle Colin's homemade ice-cream Beth?
Beth:  "No. I don't.  Its cold, and it tastes of strawberry."

Not sure if that counts as a success or a failure.

My bro in law had a small stroke on Boxing Day - but is now out of hospital and perking up. Thank goodness.  And Captain B nobly took me to the park today - me clinging on desperately as we skidded over ice. He wanted to show me a Kingfisher in the snow, and Dippers in the snow.

First pond he got me to - there was a Kingfisher as bold as brass. I could almost have reached and touched it.   It posed for a while and Col kept his camera going. Then we staggered across the road into the next park and saw three Dippers - and one had a ring on that Col has not seen before.

Pen is coming over on Thursday, weather permitting. But all other outings are off.   The snow is still lying everywhere and its frozen hard.

We enjoyed the new Mapp and Lucia last night.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Large Furry Bird

Extraordinary amount of snow fell in a few hours Friday evening - the front path was blocked with snow-flattened trees.

I saw little wren type birds scuttling along the strip of snow-free ground outside the dining room window as we had breakfast, so I threw some of the grated cheese left from our supper (a fry up of all the leftover veggies) for them.   Keith joined us for lunch on Friday, and we had turkey soup yesterday, so all the cold stuff is pretty much finished now.

Then Ollie was clamouring to go out the backdoor.  I let him out for toilet purposes, and the next thing was that I saw a large furry bird round the side of the house snuffling up every morsel of cheese.

Someone had left the side gate open!    Or perhaps the snow has brought it down?  I have no boots with me and can't go to look as yet.
Sunshine this morning - lovely light on the snow.   The valiant Captain Butterfly and his sister in law have hitched Ollie to a metaphorical sledge and taken him off for his morning walk in Endcliffe Vale Park.

Friday, 26 December 2014

A Generation is Coming

Dipper, Cinclus cinclus
I feel a bit translucent today, as if I hardly exist.  Is it the feeling of time, and fading away?  We spent yesterday with the grandchildren and their families.  The eldest grandaughter is thinking about applying to Newcastle University when the time comes.

That is where Captain Butterfly and I met and did our courting, all those years ago. And yet its only a few decades ago.

Anyway - we managed to get the turkey dinner and all the trimmings to the table on time and still hot. Excellent. And it was followed by a wonderful dessert trolley.  Nute had made a fresh fruit salad and Helen provided ginger cake with ginger cream filling, trifle, and a chocolate log. She is a brilliant baker.

I was on Eleanor duty for a lot of the morning. We hunted all over the house for Scooter, who, wisely, did not let herself be found till people were leaving. Eleanor kept wanting me to carry her, which made me realise just how old and arthritic I have got.   The little girls all got on well and seemed to enjoy themselves, although the baby had a meltdown which mean the poor parents had to eat their lunch as a relay team.

The Captain and I are going off dipper-hunting. I hope to add a photo or two to the blog later.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Berlin Wall - the Rules

The wall between beast and beast at the bungalow has changed, and so have the rules.   My sister and her husband have - or had - three rescue animals - 1 dog (Ollie) and 2 cats (Daisy and Scooter).  None of them gets on with each other, and so the house is divided by a Berlin wall between living rooms and bedrooms.  Cats one side, dog on the other.  The door must be closed during the day, but open at night, when Ollie and his basket are locked away in the lounge.

And, as Scooter and Daisy don't get along either, they have another dividing door, and so we share our bed and bath with Scooter when we are staying.  Our door must remain shut and she clatters in and out into her own bit of the garden through her catflap at various times during the night - usually just as we are dropping off to sleep.

However - the rules have changed!

Since our last visit, Daisy, sadly, has died (old age).  And Ollie the dog became very ill and was allowed to spend the night in the bedroom, in his basket, with my sister and her husband.

He has since refused to sleep anywhere else. AND he sleeps on the bed now.

As he and Scooter still don't get along, this requires a whole new set of rules about which doors must be open/closed and when...

We got up there on Monday - a very easy drive traffic-wise, with a couple of stops for sandwiches and our flask tea - and Col rushed us off to Lathkil to see the dippers yesterday morning - no dippers, but they have been seen - and we shopped in the afternoon - with a nice pub lunch in the middle - steak and kidney pudding for the Captain and a veggie chile for Mrs.Captain.

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Tender Beauty of the Sunset

Saturday's sunset...   Jean and I were talking about it in the car on Sunday.  She said she was caught by the beauty of it as she came out of Waitrose.  We both said a heartfelt thanks to Jehovah.

What an extra lovely talk we had at the Hall yesterday.  It was given by a young brother. It was all about paying attention to Jehovah, to his inspired word, and surviving Armageddon - and coming through to the Paradise earth.

He started with an illustration, about a wonderful Japanese mayor who, having seen what a tsunami could do was determined to protect the people of his little fishing village. And in the face of great difficulty, protest, and scorn, he had a 51 foot seawall erected.   This was back in 1967.  The mayor died in 1997.  The tsunami did not come till 2011, but when it did, that wall saved the village.


Obviously we made the comparison with Noah, his obedience in building the Ark, and the warning preaching work he did.

It all underlined the importance of listening to Jehovah, and acting on what we hear.

Jean came with me afterwards to do four return visits I needed to get done.  Two were still not at home, will have to try again next year!   But two were in.  One was up a ladder, putting up his decorations(?) or something.    

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Walking the Roman Road

We rode out from Sue's this morning, Jean and I. She came with me while I did my last three route calls, then we got to our territory to do a list of Not at Homes. We did find a couple of people in, and they both talked to us.

A beautiful sunny day - with the sun right in our eyes. It was hard to make out the names of the houses and we walked up and down several of the wrong drives.

I drove her home and we decided we would go out tomorrow after the meeting if the weather is OK.

Jackie was round last night for supper - turkey, ham and sage pie from Abel & Cole, with croquette potatoes, pumpkin and cauliflower cheese.  Mousse and chocolates to follow. We missed her, and its great to have her back.

I am still reading the Tomalin Hardy biography.  It wakes me up to what poverty was in the 19th Century.   And also the harsh ethos of the time.

Here is a lovely poem Thomas Hardy wrote about his mother:

The Roman Road
by Thomas Hardy

The Roman Road runs straight and bare 
As the pale parting-line in hair 
Across the heath. And thoughtful men 
Contrast its days of Now and Then, 
And delve, and measure, and compare; 

Visioning on the vacant air 
Helmeted legionnaires, who proudly rear 
The Eagle, as they pace again 
The Roman Road. 

But no tall brass-helmeted legionnaire 
Haunts it for me. Uprises there 
A mother's form upon my ken, 
Guiding my infant steps, as when 
We walked that ancient thoroughfare, 
The Roman Road. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thomas Hardy again

On Tuesday, after I had dropped off Cathy at the old co-op car park, I had to take Dave's December magazines and the butterfly paperwork to the Post Office.   The queues!   This time of year has become a real hassle.  But at least its done till next year.

But we had a good morning - doing some of our magazine route calls together.  Had a nice chat with a couple of people.  Was out again yesterday, with Joel and Mick.  And hope to be out again this morning, if I can get myself together.

Just emailed my very sick internet friend in the U.S.  He is having such a terrible time, and I am trying to get him to draw close to Jehovah, the God of all comfort.   He is not someone we can reach on the door to door work, as he lives in a gated community.   But Jehovah will always find a way if the heart is right.

After I had done the posting, I popped into the Oxfam shop and found the Tomalin biography of Thomas Hardy.  It cost me £1.50, and that is value for money.  I am enjoying it, though it is sad of course.  But doesn't everyone's life look sad in retrospect, cut off as we are from our Creator?

There is a lovely picture of his first wife Emma.   And, while I have always loved Hardy's poetry, the life does confirm my opinions about the dangers of marrying a poet.  He had two wives, neither of whom were happy.   Of course, its impossible to say exactly why. Both may well have been difficult women, and none of them were getting the guidance they needed from the Maker of marriage.

And Thomas Hardy loved the beauty and the glory of the creation, even though he was a Darwinist.

But I am happy to say that Captain Butterfly has never written a poem to me, or about me. And I am confident he never will. Which is a real comfort.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Midsomer Redux

We watched an old Midsomer Murders tonight - and were surprised when Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby was amazed when someone hammered on his door at midnight to tell him that there had been another murder.

He must have been dreaming, and forgot where he was.  In Midsomer you are amazed when someone hammers on your door at midnight to tell you there HASN'T been another murder.

A housebound day for me today.  The Captain flew off in the afternoon leaving me toiling at the Butterfly Coalface. Anyway, the memberships are done and dusted and the packages are ready for the Post Office.  They came in an annoying new format this month - much more difficult to process. And my shoulder is hurting, so I got a bit grumpy about it all.

And I got my studying done. Which made me feel better.  We are in Jericho at the moment - the walls have come down  - and Rahab and her family have been saved.  They listened, obeyed, and were blessed.

And Jackie is back!   Hurray.  She will come for supper - and champagne? - on Friday night, and we can hear all about her Viennese adventures.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

On Thin Ice

Water Rail, Rallus aquaticus
The ponds at Arundel had a lot of ice on them today. The Captain spent the day there with his box of sandwiches, and carrot cake I made yesterday, and I went to the meeting at the Kingdom Hall.

We are still learning about the Biblical covenants that Jehovah gave as the legal basis for the Kingdom.   Very faith-strengthening.

I was out on the doors with Jean yesterday - we finished our territory and then did some calls, as Jean was getting too cold.   I met her and Ken later when I went for a walk in the seafront and we walked to the Pier together.  Well, when I say "walked", we all did the best we could under our elderly circumstances.

They went off into town and I stayed on the Pier watched the sea come up the river.   And got talking to a guy called Chris, who seems very lonely.   I did try to witness him, wishing I could draw him close to Jehovah, the God of all comfort. But he wanted to talk, not listen.   So I  just let him talk, and listened.   But maybe I will see him again.   And try again.

Friday, 12 December 2014

On the Platform with my Sister

Is this another landmark?  I don't know that I have done a demo before, but nervous though I was of making a mess of it, and worrying about looking foolish as I struggled to get off my chair, I was very touched to be asked.  

Although Tammy had the harder part. All I basically had to do was to say "Yes" at regular intervals, and to briefly summarise the information below.     Our demo was based on an experience Tammy had just had on the doors.  

She had decided to go straight to the ransom, as this is the time of year, when, in theory, people should be thinking about Jesus. Although I must also note that we do not know the date of Jesus birth - except that it was clearly not in midwinter.  Nor are we asked to celebrate it.  It is his death that Jesus asked us to memorialise. 

This was the material we used, from chapter 5 of the "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" book:

"Chapter Five: The Ransom—God’s Greatest Gift

What is the ransom?
How was it provided?
What can it mean for you?
How can you show that you appreciate it?

WHAT is the greatest gift you have ever received? A gift does not have to be expensive to be important. After all, the true value of a gift is not necessarily measured in terms of money. Rather, when a gift brings you happiness or fills a real need in your life, it has great value to you personally.

2 Of the many gifts you could ever hope to receive, there is one that stands out above all others. It is a gift from God to mankind. Jehovah has given us many things, but his greatest gift to us is the ransom sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28) As we will see in this chapter, the ransom is the most valuable gift you could possibly receive, for it can bring you untold happiness and can fill your most important needs. The ransom is really the greatest expression of Jehovah’s love for you.


3 Put simply, the ransom is Jehovah’s means to deliver, or save, humankind from sin and death. (Ephesians 1:7) To grasp the meaning of this Bible teaching, we need to think back to what happened in the garden of Eden. Only if we understand what Adam lost when he sinned can we appreciate why the ransom is such a valuable gift to us."

The book, which shows how the Bible answers those questions, is being offered to you on your doorsteps, without charge.

That was last night. And this morning, the promised storm has arrived.  I heard it arriving in the early hours, and the Channel is now roaring away outside the window like a million freight trains.  No snow down here though. At least, not yet.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Original Helicopters

Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta
We went to a talk in Arundel with Terry on Monday night.  It was all about the original helicopters - Dragonflies and Damselflies.  They are more wonderfully engineered than the most complex machine we have ever managed to put into the sky - and more beautiful than the finest Tiffany jewel.  If Tiffany made jewellery?  Or am I thinking of Faberge and his Eggs?  More exquisite than anything they made, anyway.
Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula
And yet "the world" is determined that we shall believe they evolved...     I don't know how Dragonflies could speak more clearly of their Grand Creator than they do - especially when you see them in a slide presentation. You see the detail, the colour, the stained-glass wings.  I shall rifle through Captain Butterfly's Dragonfly Gallery and choose some pictures for the blog.
Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum
Terry treated us to a cup of tea and a mince pie in the interval. Thanks Tel.  And thanks to the Arundel Wetland Trust staff for baking for us.   Or did those mince pies just evolve?   If so, no need for thanks.

And if the Dragonfly just evolved, no need to thank anyone for it. But, if it was created, wouldn't we want to say thanks?

That was what started me on my search. Wanting to thank Someone for it all.

Dragons and Damsels are fierce little carnivores at the moment of course, but when Paradise is restored we shall see them as they are supposed to be.

I was out on the work yesterday morning - with difficulty - bad night - but Cathy and I finished our territory and had a couple of good talks on the doorsteps.  As promised the wind has started to get up - and the waves are running across the Channel.  There is supposed to be a big storm on the way.

Though its sunny this morning, and the Channel outside my window is only rippling. But I am trapped indoors until my frightening arthritis medication gets delivered. It has to be signed for, and go straight to the fridge.

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Hoard of Treasure Seekers

Or Detectorists, as I must more correctly call them.  But what would be the collective noun?  A ringing, or pinging, of Detectorists?  Anyway, whatever it is we were with them Saturday night for the end of year dinner.   It was a much nicer venue than the last time I was able to go.   Much more comfortable. It was a 3 course do.  My starter was a goats cheese tartlet with salad, that was very filling - not used to starters any more.  Then I ordered a veggie tagine.  It came in a banquet sized tagine, which I nibbled desperately away at, but didn't seem able to make much impression on. And dessert was an excellent panacotta, of which I only risked half (cream/arthritis, not a good combination).  Captain B helped me out with tagine and dessert.

And I made one glass of white wine last the whole evening, and didn't manage to finish it.  My banqueting days are clearly over.

It was a good evening though. We were with a nice crowd at our end of the table, and we won a bottle of champagne in the raffle.  We bought a bottle with us - Port - for raffle prize, and won another bottle.  So that seems fair enough.   We will probably welcome back Jackie from her travels with it.   I hope that doesn't count as gambling!

And after the meeting yesterday, which was wonderful, we were discussing the various covenants in the Inspired Scriptures, which provide the legal basis of all Jehovah's promises, Jean and I went off to try to find Margaret again. She wasn't home, but we left her the magazines as promised, with a little note on one of Col's butterfly cards.

Lilian of Arabia (now of Kent) rang later and we had a long talk.  We hope to meet up next year.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Another Poem

Wondering about the coming winter storms, I remembered a poem/verse I wrote ages ago.   I have no idea why I wrote it - certainly was not living by the sea then.   Obviously, I hope they won't be as bad as this.

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

The sea can come right into the village of Bosham sometimes.  When you visit, you have to be careful where you park your car, and you will notice that the front doors have very high - what would you call them - threshholds?  - seaholds?

Here is a video of an exceptionally high tide there:

It is believed that King Canute's little daughter is buried in the church at Bosham. Which makes me realise, once again, that the past is not as far away as we think it is. Its just that our lives are so short now.

Southern Flyers

Common Blues mating, Polyommatus icarus
Another landmark in my recovery.  My last trip to the Lagoon was on Christmas Day- between operations.  We had chicken sandwiches, a flask of tea, and watched the Merganser ducks.   And we went again Wednesday morning - to see more Mergansers. Though that was not what we were looking for- we were hoping to find - er - the Duke of Fritillary of the Duck world (i.e. I can't remember its name) - I am just checking with Captain Butterfly at the next computer - it was the Red-throated Diver duck - confusingly it has a white-throat in winter.

We didn't find them, but nice to see the Mergansers.   And I was able to walk all along the lagoon and back this time, plus do a little bit of bank scrambling.

Yesterday I was out on the field service with a young brother. We had a couple of long chats on the doorsteps, though it was very cold. And my knees still feel very uncomfortable when I have been standing for a while.   We finished our territory and I drove him to one of his regular calls before taking him home.  It was a lovely, if cold, morning.  And of course it was the meeting in the evening. Maggie is back, and I took her the 2015 calendars.
Sand Martin, Riparia riparia
It is a slightly different calendar this year, and we called it "Southern Flyers".  Not every shot is a butterfly, or a moth.  It is the best ever though.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Re-reading "The Mayor of Casterbridge".

The Mayor of C is surely Thomas Hardy's best novel.  Its the only one I re-read at any rate.  I am more a fan of his poetry.   He can be quite funny when he wants to - which is not very often. At least in The Mayor he can.

We - Jackie, Linda, the Captain and his missus - went to see Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Imitation Game" on Saturday night.  Supper at ours first (pie and mash, with cauliflower cheese and carrots courtesy of me, and sherry trifle, courtesy of Linda) - then  a walk to our little cinema.

What to say about it?  It was well-written and well-made.  There was no graphic violence and no sex scenes (the reviews had indicated as much or I would have dropped out).  It was all in the writing and acting.  So it passed a couple of hours pleasantly enough.   But, two problems...

Firstly, it distorted and twisted the story.  Of course you have to make changes to tell the story within the confines of a movie, but to do so that extent seems plain wrong.  I was reading about Alan Turing and, as far as I can see there was no question of his ever having been blackmailed into keeping quiet about a Russian spy, or ever having been suspected of it.   So why put that in the movie?

Secondly, we had to sit through the previews of the coming movies. At least it confirmed me in the wisdom of leaving the product of Hollywood well alone!   Thanks for the warning, I thought, as we sat there glumly watching horrid preview after horrid preview.

Oh, and another point is that the movie also reinforced the wisdom of the teaching in the Inspired Scriptures. They teach us to be "no part" of the world - to take no part in its divisive politics and cruel wars.  The world of espionage is a cruel and devious world to be a part of.

The only thing that tempted us to come back to the cinema was that they are putting on a re-jigged version of  "A Hard Day's Night".  That would be a trip in a time machine, back to our courting days.  But, if the preview is anything to go by, its going to be so loud that I won't be able to sit through it.

How long ago it all seems now... tempting to go though, and see a lost and vanished world up there on the screen.