Monday, 29 June 2015

Being Scudded

Littlehampton Armed Forces Day, 27 June 2015
The awful news about the massacre on Sousse beach, and the WW1 re-enactments on the Green on Sunday (Armed Forces Day), must have fermented in my head along with memories of being scudded, as I dreamt about being in a carpark with my cousin Phil and suddenly little explosive charges started to go off in the concrete pillars. And we knew we must get out before a big explosion came. Then Captain Butterfly was with us, and there was an enormous explosion just outside, clouds of smoke billowing, and he disappeared into it. I could hear crying and groaning and I was calling for him but couldn't see him anywhere.

It was a great relief to wake up and find him in bed beside me.
We are seeing "the increasing of lawlessness" worldwide.   People urgently need to know of the imminent rescue, and that the dead will not be forgotten at that time.    Am I doing enough to tell them?

Clearly I could be doing more.  

The WW1 biplane battle they staged outside our window, and especially the Spitfire that turned up later (from the next war), also reminded me of the Biggles books, which I read as a child.  Biggles arch enemy was Captain Erich von Stalhein (I hope I have that right) and they had many a duel in the sky. But it was always very gentlemanly as I remember it  If Biggles dropped his sword mid-fight, Captain Erich von S would always gallantly wait till he picked it up again. And vice versa.
Spitfire P7350 (Mk IIa)
And that also reminds me of the only Biggles plot I can remember.  American planes are dropping out of the sky at an alarming rate.  But why?   No mechanical faults are being found in the planes. They are not being shot down. And then, through some Sherlock-type stuff, Biggles discovers....SPOILER ALERT!!!!! - that the enemy is doping the American pilots' chewing gum (lots more exclamation marks).

A cunning plan indeed - Baldrick at his best.

We asked Jackie and Linda over to see the re-enactments.  And Jacks came back in the evening for a curry supper - mainly from the Waitrose chill cabinet, but I did make a veggie curry, the rice and the small small things,

Jean and I worked together on Saturday morning, but I think Jean had overdone it on Friday, so we did only half an hour on the doors and then went off and finished our magazine route calls for the month.

We seem to be in summer now.  Its going to be very hot today. I don't do well in the sun - yet I have a guilt-making pile of return visits...

Friday, 26 June 2015

Driving Mrs Captain Butterfly - and Immigrants

Silver Y, Autographa gamma
We have a Silver Y moth resting on our kitchen windowsill - exhausted after its flight across the Channel.  Captain Butterfly is photographing it now - and we will leave the windows open and hope it makes its way successfully.   Amazing the programming in those tiny brains that guides them on such long journeys.

Jehovah is the Grand Creator indeed.

One of my sisters drove me round my magazine route yesterday morning.  So kind of her.  I had a pounding headache and was glad not to do it. We had a good talk with Tony, and met the son of another of my calls - a lady I rarely find at home as she works shifts.

Jehovah has made me part of a warm and loving family and I am so grateful - though, sadly, I am the very opposite of a people-person, but all any of us can do is our best.

Finished Claire Tomalin's Hardy bio.  Even if you are not a Hardy fan, it is a good read. It is an insight into the past.  And I was struck by how clearly Hardy and his mother perceive the hand of "the god of this system of things" - who, the Bible tells us is Satan the devil - even though Hardy was an atheist.

He saw that something very evil was behind war, the force that turns brother against brother, when he wrote that brave poem  The Pity of It  during the throes of the first World War.

1 John 5:19 tells us, simply and clearly:  "We know that we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one."

Claire Tomalin writes:   "Whatever Jemima (Hardys mother) expected of life, she did not nurse unrealistic hopes and dreams. She had worked out an idea - or possibly got it from her angry, unfortunate father - which she handed on to her son:  'Mother's notion, and also mine: That a figure stands in one van with an arm uplifted, to knock us back from any pleasant prospect we indulge in as probable.'"

Though Hardy rose to great heights from very humble beginnings, nothing ever caused him to lose this world view.

Yet he saw the beauty and the glory of the creation. And one of his last poems - maybe his last poem - shows a love for the perfect advice in God's word, as it is based on the Inspired definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13.   "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up,  does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury.  It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails."

Surview   by Thomas Hardy

"Cogitavi vias meas"

A cry from the green-grained sticks of the fire
Made me gaze where it seemed to be:
'Twas my own voice talking therefrom to me
On how I had walked when my sun was higher -
My heart in its arrogancy.

"You held not to whatsoever was true,"
Said my own voice talking to me:
"Whatsoever was just you were slack to see;
Kept not things lovely and pure in view,"
Said my own voice talking to me.

"You slighted her that endureth all,"
Said my own voice talking to me;
"Vaunteth not, trusteth hopefully;
That suffereth long and is kind withal,"
Said my own voice talking to me.

"You taught not that which you set about,"
Said my own voice talking to me;
"That the greatest of things is Charity. . . "
- And the sticks burnt low, and the fire went out,
And my voice ceased talking to me.

Interestingly, the Latin tag at the beginning of the poem - Cogitavi vias meas - is a quote from the Psalms:   "I have examined my ways, in order to turn my feet back to your reminders." Psalm 119:59

Interesting too how language changes.   The word "charity" has a different ring to it now - suggesting Comic Relief and those New York ladies who lunch and who all have their charities and go to important Charity events.

Which is why modern translations say love is the greatest of things - because Jehovah, the Source of all things - IS love.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Butterflies of Egdon Heath

Lulworth Skipper, Thymelicus acteon
We are in the throes of the butterfly season now - they are bursting out all over - flying flowers, every one.    I just came across an interesting bit of butterfly history in "Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man" - the biography by Claire Tomalin.

She is discussing his book The Return of the Native, and talks about Hardy's "usual loving attention to details of natural history", and goes on to say that "he (Hardy) writes confidently, for instance, of the 'strange amber-coloured butterflies which Egdon produced, and which were never seen elsewhere' that 'alighted on Clym's bowed back, and sported with the glittering point of his hook, as he flourished it up and down'".

Apparently they were Lulworth Skippers.

I have always loved his poetry - and "The Mayor of Casterbridge".  But I am liking him a lot as I read the bio - and feel sad that he and Emma could not have made each other much happier than they did.

It has impelled me to go to my poetry shelf and get out my collected poems, and find one for my blog. This is one that Claire Tomalin drew my attention to. I don't think I had read it before.

                   Thomas Hardy

One without looks in tonight
       Through the curtain-chink
From the sheet of glistening white ;
One without looks in to-night
       As we sit and think
       By the fender brink.

We do not discern those eyes
       Watching in the snow ;
Lit by lamps of rosy dyes
We do not discern those eyes
       Wondering, aglow,
       Fourfooted, tiptoe.

The Team of Cathy and Sue rode out this morning and had a lovely time on the door to door work.  I took her to see Mike again, and he says he is very impressed with the Society's website.   And Cathy really comforted a lady who said she was no longer able to have any belief in God - and left her with a publication showing her why the world is so full of cruelty and injustice - and what God is going to do about it!

I hope that Thomas Hardy and Emma will be woken up then - when Paradise is being restored - and that they will see this lovely world again.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Silently, in the night...

... the travellers return.   At least I guess it must be them. When I drew the curtains early this morning I found I was looking out on a sea of cars, caravans and tables and chairs.  If its them I must mention it to Ron and we can go down and knock at their doors.  If they are the ones from The Big Fat Wedding series, they are Irish Catholics.  I too was brought up in Catholicism - and the nuns at my primary convent school were mainly Irish. St.Patrick's day was very big. And we had a lot of shamrock about the place.

So if I am asked to go down and knock at the caravan doors, I think I will ask them what Wilhellmina and Ruby asked me when they knocked at my (non-caravan) door all those years ago in my Northern hometown.  What was I asking for when I asked for God's Kingdom to come?   I found I had no idea, though I cannot compute how many times I said the Lord's prayer.   IF they will let me, I will show them how the Bible answers.

Last night was Dan and Libby's annual party, in their beautiful garden. They always seem to have a lovely night for it.   It is their wedding anniversary. Dan told us they got married on the longest day, so the celebrations would go on longer.  During the evening, he presented Libby with the most beautiful butterfly ring.

I must see if Captain B noted the name of the band - 4 musicians who entertained us all evening.  

The moon on the drive back was so lovely - a fat crescent, large and bright and very low - and the evening star was as bright as I have ever seen it.   A lovely night sky over the South Coast.

I sometimes wonder if Jehovah is making it more beautiful and glorious by the moment to wake people up to their Creator, urgently.  Or is that the older I get, the more I love the creation?

Jean and I were out on Saturday morning.   But we didn't do first call - we caught up on some of our route calls, delivering the June magazines.   We found quite a few in, and had some good talks.

Friday, 19 June 2015

A Landmark Walk

Admittedly, a rather pathetic landmark, but a landmark none the less.  I walked to Waitrose and back,with 2 bags of shopping.   I don't think Usain Bolt is all of a tremble, seeing his speedy reign coming to an end. But it was something.  My knees hurt, but my ankles stood up to it.

I am trying to think what else I have been doing since Dorothy of NZ left...  and the answer seems to be: not a lot.   One short visit exhausts me now.  I got to the Meeting on Thursday night, and it was lovely, and so helpful - I am becoming more and more appreciative of how we are cared for spiritually - of how much time and effort is put in to teaching and helping us.

And we have the Brighton Convention next month.

I got my read copy of the July Watchtower last night - to be offered to you all on the doors next month - and it has the perfect article for me:  "How to Deal With Anxiety?"  It will appear on the website next month for all who are full of anxiety to have a read of.

It is advice from the Maker's Manual.  If applied it works, even to the Mother of all Worrywarts, such as myself.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

What Larks,Pip!

Rock Dove, Columba livia domestica 
"What larks, Pip!" as Joe Gargery might have said had he been at the talk at the Wetland Centre last night.   It was "In Archer's Footsteps - Birding in the Republic of Somaliland" by Nigel Redman.

Not only were the birds wonderful, but the country and its history were fascinating.  It seems to have avoided the chaos and lawlessness that is engulfing the rest of Somalia, and is running itself in a successful and peaceful manner.  Apparently the United Nations, in its UNhelpful way has refused to recognise it!

The Speaker was concentrating on the Somali larks, of which there were many kinds - which is why I started my blog with the quote from "Great Expectations".

Because it was the last night of this season of talks, Terry treated us all to a Pimms, except for poor Captain Butterfly, who can't drink alcohol until he finishes his course of meds.

Dorothy of the South left this morning for the next stage of her journey.   She treated us to lunch at Pulborough yesterday.   The Captain and Dorothy had a pork and sage casserole with veggies, and I had an excellent veggie lasagne with salad. Then we sat out by the bird feeders with a pot of tea and watched the doves and hoped for a woodpecker.   There was a gentleman dove, courting his lady, with a lot of chest puffing and some wonderful little dances.  However, it seemed she had a headache, and all his dancing was in vain.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Dorothy of South Island

Dorothy is still here - in the middle of her travels - she has been visiting many of the Istans that emerged when the Soviet Union collapsed.  Some are doing very well indeed and all are interesting.

Jackie had us round for paella on Saturday night, and she came to us for a salad supper last night.  I went to the talk at the Hall yesterday morning - did ask Dorothy if she wanted to come, but she didn't. Pity because it was excellent - given by one of our young brothers - and showing us, from the Bible where we are in the stream of time. And reminding us how important it is to stay close to Jehovah.

I had been looking for a Hilaire Belloc poem about politics/elections and just this minute found it.

"The accursed power which stands on privilege
(and goes with women, and champagne and bridge)
Broke- and democracy resumed her reign
(which goes with bridge, and women and champagne).


Friday, 12 June 2015


It was my talk in the small School last night.   This was my theme:


These were my Scriptures:
“Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love than a fattened bull where there is hatred.”
Proverbs 15:17 
“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One guiding you in the way you should walk.”
Isaiah 48:17 
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.”
Matthew 5:3 

As the point I was working on was extemporaneous delivery, I couldn't have my usual word for word script. Then my Helper was on her hols, and Cathy nobly volunteered, but with this hospital thingummy hanging over us, it was hard to get my thoughts together,and we had to practise it over the phone on Thursday afternoon.

So I made it a discussion between two sisters talking about a return visit we were planning to make, using the three allocated Scriptures as the script.  We wandered off it briefly at one point, but got back on again, and the brother in charge was happy with it. Which was a relief.

We made the point about how we would explain that being conscious of our spiritual need leads to happiness, because when we feel how cut off we are from our Creator and realise we need his help and advice, we seek for him. And then he will quide us in the way we should walk.

We then used Proverbs 15:17 as an example of that guidance - as it shows us  that Jehovah teaches us that happiness does not lie in the endless pursuit of material things that the world encourages.

We ended by saying that we hoped we could show him that Jehovah is the happy God and if we find him we will find happiness right now, and more happiness than we can imagine in the restored earthly Paradise.

Dorothy of South Island arrives tomorrow, and Jackie has invited us all over for a paella.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Hospital Day

Yesterday was a long long hospital day. But I will leave Captain Butterfly to blog about it if he wants to.   I spent much of my time reading Martin Chuzzlewit. And here is an interesting window in time, to the British breakfast of Dicken's day.   And this is at Todger's Commercial Boarding House, which is not a fancy establishment.

"A table-cloth (rather a tight and scanty fit in reference to the table it covered) was already spread for a breakfast: displaying a mighty dish of pink boiled beef; an instance of that particular style of loaf which is known to housekeepers as slack-baked, crummy quartern; a liberal provision of cups and saucers; and the usual appendages.

Boiled beef for breakfast! But of course it was the standard fare then, along with oysters.

In my 1950s childhood, bacon and eggs was the breakfast standard.  Nowadays its cereal.  Porridge oats, in our case.

Its my talk in the Small School tonight and I haven't even been able to get together with my Helper and practise it yet!  My mind is all over the place with all the hospital worries.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Nursery Consultant

From today's online Guardian:

"Play time is over, but did it ever begin? If these students have the kind of parents featured in the Financial Times last month, perhaps not. The article marked a new form of employment: the nursery consultant. These people, who charge from £290 an hour, must find a nursery that will put their clients’ toddlers on the right track to an elite university."

It made me think of the world of children that existed in the 1950s, when it seems us kids tottered out of the house as soon as our little legs would carry us and joined up with groups of our peers out in the streets and fields.    I think our parents main aspiration was to get a little peace, and time to get on with the chores.  The fathers worked, 9 to 5 and Saturdays, and mothers worked at home. They shopped and cooked every day.  And the washing, mangling, drying and ironing was non-stop. As was the cleaning.  My Northern hometown was Steel City in those days, and the stone houses were black with the soot from the furnaces.  When, years later they began to clean them, I was surprised by the lovely colours of the stone.  My mother made our clothes too, as many mothers did back then.

 Of course, it wasn't Paradise, far from it. But it is certainly a vanished world.   

Monday, 8 June 2015

A Worrywart

My right shoulder has been really painful for a couple of days.  I only hope I am not building up to another flare-up as there is rather a lot on this week.   And Dorothy of South Island arrives on Saturday.   Worry, worry, worry.

Jean and I were out on the doors on Saturday morning - we covered our territory, and did a couple of route calls.  I had hoped to get out again Sunday afternoon, but my shoulder defeated me.

On the happy side, I was thinking that if I hadn't listened to Ruby and Willhelmina, the two JW ladies who called on me all those years ago in Sheffield, I wouldn't know any of these lovely people in the congregation now, nor have this worldwide family.  Nor would I have a real hope to keep me going.

In fact, I don't like to think how I would be feeling.

Jacks came for supper on Saturday.  I tried a new (to me) Chinese chicken recipe - General Tsao chicken - that really requires a slow cooker, which I don't have - along with stir-fry veggies.  And, as its June, strawberries for afters, and coffee and After Eight mints (a present from Jean).   We all had second helpings, so it was OK.  And the Captain had the leftovers for his tea yesterday.

Summer seems to have arrived.  The Channel is blue and calm outside the window and the sun is on the Green.  The balcony geraniums are busy doing what it says on the tin - in red and white this year.

Early morning is one of those times it is easy to see the holiness of the world.

I am up early - not sleeping at all well at the moment - but am busy in an intense internet discussion with a fb friend about the importance of the year 1914 in Bible prophecy.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Sequin Faces

I missed Springwatch last night - the Meeting, but got back in time to see that Springwatch Unsprung ended with the three barn owl chicks and their sequin faces. So there are still three!. We were a bit worried about the runt of the litter.  And I hope to catch up on the two stickleback dads tonight. Spineless Simon rather lived down to his name this week by letting a lady stickleback come and eat some of his children.

Only Jehovah can put the world to rights. And He will.

We, the Captain and Mrs.Captain B, spent the afternoon at the Woodmills Reserve - a little bit of Paradise, or as near as we can get at the moment.        The coots had made a nest among the waterlilies.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Torrential Rain, a Talk, and Iva's Pantoum

Torrential rain yesterday and a wonderfully stormy Channel.   Cathy rang up first thing to cancel our field service.  It was impossible.    She has kindly volunteered to be my helper for my upcoming talk, as my assigned helper is going to be on her holidays that week.


And this is the material I have to cover (in the usual 5 minutes):

“Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love than a fattened bull where there is hatred.”
Proverbs 15:17
“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One guiding you in the way you should walk.”
Isaiah 48:17
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.”
Matthew 5:3

We are in the second school, not on the main platform, and I am working on point of counsel no.27 in the Ministry School Handbook, which is:

Study 27
Extemporaneous Delivery
What do you need to do?
Speak in a manner that is characterized by spontaneous word choice as well as careful preparation of ideas.
Why is it important?
Extemporaneous delivery is the most effective way to hold the interest of and motivate an audience.

Important one for me to work on as I like to work from a word for word manuscript, and I am really going to try to do without one this time, just using the 3 Scriptures as my framework.  I need to talk it over with Cathy, but I think I want us to be two sisters, back from the field service, discussing a call we have just had with an angry householder.

It was sunny enough today for Captain Butterfly and Butterfly Mark to be out in the wilds of Sussex, with sandwiches.  They had a great day.  I can't think what I did. Watched quite a bit of daytime TV (guilt guilt), did some housework, two loads of washing and washed the floors, caught up with my studying for the meeting tomorrow, and did a little bit of witnessing on the internet.

Oh, and I found a poem I read once many many years ago - 30 years perhaps - and always hoped to find again. This is what the poet, Marilyn Hacker, has to say about it:

This is a pantoum, a poem which was meant to be memorized, a Malaysian form written in quatrains in which the second and fourth line of each stanza become repeated as the first and third of the one following until it ends up with its tail in its mouth like the worm aruburus. And this one I wrote for my daughter Iva when she was younger and it's called "Iva's Pantoum".

Monday, 1 June 2015

Looking for Nightjars

Dark Purple Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris
We walked in Rewell Woods last night hoping to hear the whirr of the nightjar and maybe see one. But we didn't.   I think we were there a bit too early. We needed to be more into the "Empire of Light" time of the evening (Magritte).
It was a lovely evening though.   It is a working forest and more rides had been created by the loggers and there were lots more log stacks.  Giant insect hotels.   And if there were any giant insects inside them, they mercifully stayed inside.

Friday we walked by the sea, under a moody sky and Saturday I was out with Jean. Once again we both encouraged each other to get out there.  And we did at least finish our territory working with one pair of siblings, and a well-behaved baby.  We had a good call, a fresh crop of not at homes.

We also went to the Wetland Reserve - on Saturday I think -  where I was besieged by goslings and their hissing parents at every turn, and had to part with a lot of seeds.  That brute of a swan that caught me out in the open on my own, was lurking in the long grass, but I kept close to Captain Butterfly.  It came across the path and made us swerve a bit, but left it at that.  Captain B doesn't have the neon "Wimp" sign on his forehead that I apparently do.

Sunday morning was the meeting at the Kingdom Hall. It was pouring with rain so Col was not going out, and he offered to chauffeur me door to door, which save me getting soaked. Its not possible to park very near the Hall.  I gratefully accepted the offer.  I wish I could persuade him to come in, even if just for the public talk. The teaching gets better and better, and clearer and clearer.

I had made a giant lamb casserole with lots of veggies for our Sunday tea.

Jackie is back!   Hurray!!   And gave us a lovely supper- Chicken Alexander with spring veggies, and a cheesecake with strawberries.  And some excellent wine.    And much better news of Tom.