Saturday, 30 December 2017

Sunset over The Snake

A road of many memories - from my earliest childhood.  And it was particularly lovely on Wednesday as we drove over to see Aunt Bea and family.   Icy too, and it is not the sort of road you want to skid off.

Thursday we met up with Pete - amazed to realise we had not seen each other for nearly 11 years.   The last time we saw him was at our flat in London when he brought Jill, his wife to be, over to meet us.

Since then they have been married, had a busy, happy life, including setting up a nature reserve, and Jill, so sadly, has died.

Woke up yesterday morning to find a blanket of snow!  It all looked lovely but...   Col took Nute over to the Real Meat Co to collect the joint of lamb for the weekend and then we drove to York through a heavy snowstorm - with me saying "lets turn back" at every other moment.

But we didn't. And we got there and back. And had lunch with Keith, Janet, Tom, Brian and a couple of their friends - cold turkey, ham, roast veggies, cheese and fruitcake.   Their plans for the house have changed now that Brian is living with them, so it might be a very different downstairs the next time we see them.

The Derby Branch is coming over today - for a roast lamb dinner - and Pen of Lilac Tree arrives tomorrow - all weather permitting of course.

And then 2017 will be gone. So quickly.   I hope to survive to write about the new year.  I hope we all do.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Dialling 999

Dipper, Cinclus cinclus
I had to dial 999 for the first, and I hope the last,  time in my life as we drove up to see Julia  on Friday. We saw a column of black smoke on the motorway, and it was rising from an Eddie Stobart truck. A fierce fire was blazing between the driver's seat and the body of the lorry behind, which I hope was not carrying anything terrifically flammable.  The driver was racing back to his cab, presumably having got out to phone for help. We can only hope he did not get back in.

There was nothing we could so, sweeping past on the other side of the motorway, but it looked serious. We said to each other it will already have been phoned in, but realised we would have to call it in, just in case.  So I dialled 999, said "Fire", and was put through to the Fire Service. And, yes, they did know about it so, hopefully, fire engines were already on the way.

I hope the driver was alright. But what a start to his holidays!

Anyway, it was lovely to see Julia and the furry ones again (4 dogs, 2 cats,all rescued, all having a wonderful life). Her house is great too - she has been having work done all year on both house and garden and its finally finished.  Like us she is finding retirement very busy, and notices that her Expat years are already fading into the background, she is so busy with new things.

Captain B got some great Dipper shots on Saturday, one of which will almost certainly be appearing in his 2018 calendar, IF we are all still around by then.   Age is taking a heavy toll on our generation.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Arthritis Flare Up

Left leg, to some extent, right shoulder, building to be a bad one. Right shoulder especially worrying as my left shoulder is so bad. I have already  cancelled Jean, who I was to take to see Maggie this afternoon. There is no way I can drive at the moment, and I fear that it is going to get worse.

Though if this is not a flare up, but a deterioration in my shoulder, that is even worse, as flare ups do die down. But if I start to lose this shoulder too...

Its after lunch and I have just rung Jean to say that I don't feel too bad - which makes me worry about just what it is. But its only minimally painful now and I can drive. However, she is now not too well!  She is having to rest after being on the work this morning.   Which is wise.   She is very valiant, tends to forget her age, and press on regardless.   A good example for me (a whinger supreme), but, nevertheless, she has to pace herself sometimes.

We are all going down like nine-pins.    And Captain Butterfly is off with Butterfly Mark, though they are hunting the wild fungi at the moment - out there in the untamed heartlands of the Sussex Downs.   (Here there be Teashops).

I hope they are both OK.

How lovely it will be when God's Kingdom is ruling over the earth. Our bodies won't let us down - we won't let each other down. And we won't have to be anxious about anything.  I will know that Captain Butterfly is safe, and he will know that I am safe.

In the meantime I am very grateful to Jehovah that I won't (I hope) be letting Maggie down this afternoon.  Its hard to know whether she is actually expecting me these days, but I do sometimes find her sitting over her diary for the previous Wednesday, looking puzzled.  So I think she is expecting me as much as it is possible for her to now.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Land Corals

Bitter Oysterling, Panellus stipticus
Captain Butterfly has been very busy for many days now with a new process called Focus Stacking.  It gives an interesting 3D effect - and also sometimes has the effect of making him rather cross.
Wrinkled Crust, Phlebia radiata
He has been taking fungi shots - mushrooms don't move while the stacking goes on. And again I notice how they remind me of the corals and sponges he used to photograph in our expat days.
Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
We had lunch at the Wetland Trust yesterday and spent the afternoon there. The Captain and Terry had shepherds pie, and I had roast veggie pasta with salad and garlic bread.  Excellent and very filling. The Kingfishers posed beautifully in the lovely December sunlight.   And we bought ecologically sound pressies for the little girls from the shop (hope they won't find them boring).

Here is an interesting snippet from our midweek meeting:

When in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples customarily spent the night at Bethany, today marked by the town of el-ʽAzariyeh (El ʽEizariya), an Arabic name meaning “The Place of Lazarus.” Jesus undoubtedly stayed at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

 It is known as the place of Lazarus to this day.   We do not need to doubt the truth of anything recorded in the Gospels.   In fact, we, in the worldwide congregations, are starting an intensive study of the Gospels this week.   And the more you study them, the more true you find them, and the more you find in them.   And the stronger the hope of the coming - and imminent - rescue.

Monday, 18 December 2017

No Bud in May

This is the time of year when I like to publish my snow poem. Well, its not mine - I wish I had written it!.  Its a De La Mare - and it is, for me, a Paradise earth poem.  Sometime, during the Thousand Years, when Jehovah wakes the poet from the dreamless sleep of death, he will see this lovely earth again.

Will he write more poems then?  Or not?

We were reminded at the Sunday meeting that Jehovah longs for that time, when he will awake all those he has held safe in his memory down the centuries.  He longs to see them again.

We read these lovely words from Job.

"If a man dies, can he live again? I will wait all the days of my compulsory service until my relief comes. You will call, and I will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands." - Job 14:14,15

Jean and I managed to get out on the door to door work Thursday, Friday and Saturday.   So we are more caught up than we usually are. And we did do some first calls and found some interest.

I have a talk in the Ministry School this Thursday.

Anyway, here is the poem.  Not that we have had any snow down here, in the lands of the South, but they certainly have had some 'oop North.   Just frost on the cars in the mornings so far.

There blooms no bud in May
by Walter de la Mare

There blooms no bud in May
Can for its white compare
With snow at break of day,
On fields forlorn and bare.

For shadow it hath rose,
Azure, and amethyst;
And every air that blows
Dies out in beauteous mist.

It hangs the frozen bough
With flowers on which the night
Wheeling her darkness through
Scatters a starry light.

Fearful of its pale glare
In flocks the starlings rise;
Slide through the frosty air,
And perch with plaintive cries.

Only the inky rook,
Hunched cold in ruffled wings,
Its snowy nest forsook,
Caws of unnumbered Springs.

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Food Bank First

We went shopping yesterday morning - which included posting a copy of "Waiting for Gordo" to Dorothy.  And we got a card from Peter, who says he is taking it as his travel reading!  I am so pleased.  But how I wish I could have shared it with Marie.

I am trying to get my talk for next Thursday done - 4 minutes or less - I have the outline sorted but not the time. So it still needs some work.

A food bank first. Never been asked for donations in our sleepy seaside town before, but it turned out Waitrose had a trolley ready just past the checkouts. Had I known it was going to be there I would have bought something specially for it.  But as it was we had already shopped, so I donated some toiletries that I can always buy again next time.

My talk is a return visit, 4 minutes or less and the counsel point is : Effective Conclusion. As I have to invite the person to our meetings, I guess that will be the effective conclusion.  Hopefully.

Jean and I plan to go out on the work this afternoon, weather permitting.

The weather did permit and we did.  It was cold but sunny, and we managed and hour and a quarter.  All being well tomorrow, we plan to go to the Field Service Group and do a bit more.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Creatures of the Night - and a Nightmare

Michael (Blencowe) gave the talk at the Arundel Wetland Trust last night - interesting, funny and very fast.  He told us that this particular talk came out of his problems with sleeping. And, yes, its hard to imagine Michael resting, let alone sleeping.

One of the most surprising things to me was the way you can hear the calls of migrating birds in the night, in the early hours.  What journeys they make.   And also how invisible bears can be, given how big they are.  Oh - and don't pick up Armadillos - at least not in the USA - apparently they can carry leprosy!

The talk included a recording of the Boom of a Bittern - something I have never heard.

Jackie and Terry came with us, and enjoyed it very much.    And we had mulled wine and homemade mince pies in the break.

I had a bit of nightmare last night - the first one for ages. I put it down to "The Creatures of the Night" being so vivid, and all those stories about the Death's Head Hawksmoth.  Just as the dream took a frightening turn, I realised it was moving into the realms of spiritism, thought "No, I am not going there". And the dream stopped instantly. So thanks to Jehovah it was a failed nightmare.

It was very cold last night, the coldest night of the year, with ice everywhere this morning, so Jean and I did not go out on the work.  I dare not risk another fall.  I made another big casserole - this one chicken - with loads of veggies, and got the two magazines I have to post ready to go, along with two copies of "Waiting for Gordo" for friends.

Captain Butterfly took me to the Post Office in the afternoon and we posted the Awake magazines, and the Waitings - one to an old school friend who lives on the Isle of Wight, and one to Gale, a friend from Uni. She too has been published this year (again) - scholarly publications though.  Not fiction,   And we dropped my prescription in to the Pharmacy.  These medical things take up a lot of time in retirement...

Sunday, 10 December 2017

It was a Dark and Stormy Night...

The wind rattled and howled round the flats last night, and we woke up to a wild world with wonderful waves (and Alotof Alliteration). Captain Butterfly left early laden with sandwiches and a metal detector at every corner.  I thought he was mad to go, given the weather, but it did begin to clear up a bit - the sun came through ominous clouds and there was a dark lilac light on the sea.

At least there was no frost on the car this morning.  Yesterday Jean and I failed to get to the group as I simply couldn't get my car thawed out early enough. But we did some calls later in the morning, and I chauffered Jean to the Hall for the broadcast in the afternoon,

It was different from the usual, as it was a broadcast of the talks given at the 143rd Gilead Graduation Class.

You can find it here:

The point that stays with me from the broadcast is the reminder that all we see and all we know now are just "the fringes" of Jehovah's ways.  There is so much to know, so much to learn, and there always will be.  Which is wonderful.

Sadly the school system of the 1950s so often made learning (which children naturally want to do) both punitive and boring.   But being taught Jehovah's way is wonderful.  He is the kindest and most patient - and of course the wisest! - of teachers.

As the Bible says, he is our Grand Instructor.

By the time we came out of the meeting the storm was up and running again, so after I had dropped Anne Marie off, I scuttled home and stayed in.  Captain Metal Detector was not far behind. Having been rained off, he bought his tea and sandwiches back home and ate them here.

And I had made a big lamb casserole yesterday afternoon, so supper was all in hand.

Talked to Bea, via phone (yesterday), email today, and to Jacks.   And the Christmas cards with news from scattered family and friends continue to arrive, though I never send any now of course.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Lord of the Rings

Apparently Storm Caroline is on the way - should hit us tonight. So I am watching the Channel for signs of her arrival.    I was going to say that its quite calm, but actually the odd white horse is starting to appear - its all getting a bit agitated.

We have a project on this morning to get the engagement ring re-sized so it will fit my swollen arthritic finger - the one that Col detected some years ago (the ring, not the finger!). Its a very pretty Victorian ring.   Then it is a trip to Maggie this afternoon, followed by meeting up with a young pioneer sister as we are going to call on a lady we have been talking to for a couple of weeks now.

Its getting colder - the sea is roaring a bit - and our ring mission failed.  It would cost as much to get it altered as it would to buy a new one... or almost.  So I was looking enthusiastically in the jewelers shop windows while the Lord of the Rings (Captain Butterfly) was looking glum and thoughtful.

I suspect he will be taking his metal detector down to the beach quite a lot this winter to see if he can detect a ring in my size.    My original ring, bought in our student days,  had to be cut off my finger in Casualty while I was in the throes of a violent arthritis flare-up which caused my hands to swell up like balloons.

I am watching and loving the Masterchef Professional  Series.   So the Captain wondered why he got baked beans on toast for lunch.   Too busy watching Masterchef?!    I have offered to make him raw pigeon tomorrow, as it seems to be an in thing at the moment.

He has since decided that he loves my beans on toast.

Its pie for supper tonight - Steak and Ale for Captain Carnivore, Mushroom and Asparagus for me- with leeks.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Zimmer Sisters

The Dynamic Duo (Jean and me) hobbled round yesterday morning doing return visits and managed an hour and a half on various doors.  Jean found two of her calls at home and had some good talks.  We ended by delivering a small care package  - card and chocolates - to a lady who, while recovering from a broken shoulder, fell and broke both her ankles,,,

Jean and I have been through our share of recent health horrors and feel so much for her. Her husband told us she has been in hospital for weeks, though they are hoping to get her home for Christmas.   A week in hospital is more than long enough...  We are both praying for her.

Life is so scary and uncertain. But it was never meant to be like this.  And it will all be put right.

Please do have a look at our latest Awake! magazine:

It was the Detectorists AGM last night  - held in a nice pub not too far away.  All was beautifully organised as it was last year - 3 course meal for about 30 of us served concurrently and with the minimum of fuss. And we came away with an enormous box of chocolates to take 'oop North, a box of liqueur chocs, a travel towel, and a Tesco cheese assortment (via the Raffle).

It is the sort of raffle where everyone gets prizes.

It was the meeting this morning.  And Cousin Sheila rang this evening and we had a long chat and hope we will manage to get together next year.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Hand of God?

Terry gave me this poem, written by a good friend of his, who has since died.  He said she would have liked it to be read and published.  And this is the best I can do.

I would love to have been able to talk to her about the last line, and assure her that this was not "the hand of God", or "an act of God" as some people might define it.   It was in fact the very opposite.  What she describes so vividly in her poem happens because we are cut off from our Creator.

Anyway, here it is:

by Maureen Williams, written 2010

The wave emerging from the deep
Was soon to the make the whole world weep.
Out of the ocean like a ghost
Before progressing to the coast.

This line of surf moves on with speed
A silent threat to do its deed.
The people on the distant shore
Beheld this sight with puzzled awe.

The crest arrived, nowhere to run.
The place where all had had their fun,
The young, the old, they met their fate,
They watched too long, it was too late.

The sandy beach that is no more,
There's only death upon the shore.
Huge boulders thrown up by the sea
Destroyed the jetty, boats and quay.

After the tumult there is no sound.
Devastation is all around.
The cries for help, the screams of fear,
The call of birds all disappear.

Water and bodies everywhere,
Those who are left can only stare.
To comprehend is always hard
That this could be the Hand of God.

A vivid description - especially of the sudden silence in the tsunami's wake.  But I would have loved to talk to Maureen and show her what Genesis so clearly and simply tells us.  Because when our first parents made that fatal decision to cut themselves - and us, their unborn children - off from their Creator, their Source of life, they found that they could not even keep themselves alive, let alone run this beautiful and complex planet.

We, their damaged children, cannot keep ourselves alive either.  Nor can we manage the planet with its immense forces and its complex patterns.  So we have these "natural" disasters - like tsunamis... But are they natural?   Had our first parents obeyed their Creator, things would have been so different.   All the natural forces would have been under perfect control.  We would find them splendid and awe-inspiring, but we would have nothing to fear from them.

And I would have wanted to remind Maureen of what Jesus did when he was on the earth.  How he calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 8:23-27 tells us:  "And when he went aboard a boat, his disciples followed him. Now look! a great storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but he was sleeping. And they came and woke him up, saying: “Lord, save us, we are about to perish!”  But he said to them: “Why are you so afraid, you with little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and a great calm set in. So the men were amazed and said: “What sort of person is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him.”"

The winds and the sea obeyed Jesus.   So when he is ruling over us as the King of Jehovah's Kingdom, he will bring the earth back into the peace and the harmony there was in the beginning.

And, wonderfully he has also been given the authority to wake the dead from their dreamless sleep.   Once again, he demonstrated that while he was on the earth. We all know about Lazarus to this day!

Jehovah's spirit can and will empower him to restore the earth to the Paradise it was always meant to be, and to awaken "many of those asleep in the dust of earth".

So when Maureen the Poet next opens her eyes, it will be in an earth ruled by the law of loving-kindness, and an earth in perfect balance. No more "natural" disaster to fear.

Captain Butterfly went up to London today to see the Natural History Photography Exhibition.  We would usually go together. Will I be able to get there next year?

I am now a bit scared of "that London" - though we lived there for many years, and had some lovely day trips in the early years of our retirement.  Jackie and I were talking about them this morning.  But she, like me, is now anxious about the idea of a London trip. And she is a London girl.

I devoted my day to shopping, making a roast chicken dinner for the weary traveller to come home to, finishing my study for tonight and practising my part in the Ministry School with my pretty young householder.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Guy and a Gal have got Engaged

Its all over the papers today. If WW3 has started, we will have to look to the back pages to find ou...   aarrgghhh... disappears in large radioactive blast.

Actually, according to Bible prophecy the two superpowers are not going to go head to head again, though the world remains divided. And I think we can understand why, given that a WW3 unleashing all the weapons of mass destruction we now have would ruin the planet for human habitation.  And the Inspired Scriptures assure us not only that Jehovah "will bring to ruin those ruining the earth", but that "the meek" (those meek towards their Creator) will "inherit the earth" and live forever upon it.

Jean and I were out on the doors yesterday - not for long as it is so cold - beautiful sky, but icy wind. We went back to a road I had many return visits on - found only a couple at home, but both were interested and we can call back.

Today, cold but sunny, I plan to be out with one of the young pioneer sisters after my visit to Maggie. We plan to call back on a lady who has taken a Bible and a Good News brochure and see if we can get a study started.   I hope at least we can point out to her a couple of important things Genesis tells us, as she has already started to read it.

But of course we have to find her in first.

Captain B has been called out on a lot of SUSSAR search and rescues recently - some of them very sad.

Oh - and back to my heading.  I wish Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a splendid wedding - which I am sure they will have (us Brits are very good at organising these State occasions) - but most of all I wish them a long and happy marriage.  I hope they will take the advice of the Creator of marriage, as set out in His inspired word, because that advice works. 

Monday, 27 November 2017

Waiting for Reviews (of "Waiting for Gordo")

I only have 2 reviews of  "Waiting" on my Amazon page.  But they are both lovely. And I got a boost yesterday when I got an email from an Oz friend - we gave her a copy of the book when they visited us. Not only did she love it, but a visiting friend picked it up, started reading it, and was enjoying it so much that she took it back to Victoria to finish!

What author could ask for more, that people are enjoying her book?

I listened in to the meeting yesterday - as Col (off on his Detectoring) rang me to say there was a lot of ice about, and he was worried.  The thought of another fall...  The Watchtower was about courage, which made me feel a complete wimp (which actually I am), but I don't think I am going to be able to be at all courageous in the face of ice.  It is too easy to fall. And if I fall I will break something. I am still quite crippled in my left arm from that fall in Sheffield.  And also poor old Captain B will be back on nursing duty.

And then I got our calendar in a mess and double booked us for Saturday night. It was Jackie who helped to sort that one out.  Now I have managed to get in a muddle all my life, but when it happens in your seventies, it takes on a sinister overtone...

Jean and I went to the Field Service group on Saturday morning - though we did return visits, not first calls, and had some good calls. Still so hard to find people at home though.

I have a talk on Thursday night - just 2 minutes - and I have emailed it to the young sister who is my householder and she will come over on Thursday for a practice session.

We had Jacks over for supper on Saturday - beef chile with small small things (spring onions, chopped tomato, yoghurt, grated cheese) - and lemon drizzle cake with ice-cream after. I made the chile on Friday so it wasn't a rush.

It is a recipe I learnt many many years ago on Planet Expat when I did a Tex Mex cookery course.   I have cooked it many times since then, and it has never let me down.  The Captain and I finished this batch for our supper tonight.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Northern Lights, the Southern Lights

My sister in law - well worth a watch!

Busy day today - to Angmering this morning, then out with a young pioneer sister this afternoon, meeting tonight.  The lady we were calling on turned out to have 2 very large alsatians and 2 smaller dogs. Thank goodness they were friendly. 

And in the middle of it all a second batch of Butterfly Memberships arrived.  Aaargghhh.

But what have I been doing during the week?  Its gone by so quick.

I was out on the field service on Tuesday - doing not-homes and return visits.  I have to remember to give all the ones we still could not find at home back to the field service group.

I visited Maggie on Wednesday. She looked brighter than last week. And I got the usual warm welcome, though I am not sure she knows who I am now.  But she still loves the sparkly fan that Col bought me - she always remembers that.

Tomorrow will be butterfly paperwork, shopping, cooking for Jackie on Saturday night, and getting the Watchtower study done.

The young sister who lives across the road is meeting me in the car park as I shall be chauffering her to the meeting. She is my householder next week.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Smallness of Kingfishers

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
It was a busy weekend - in my terms, nowadays.  It was the Assembly at Haysbridge on Saturday. Captain Butterfly nobly chauffered me and a pretty young sister (he never minds driving her).   It was a lot of driving for him as it was also the AGM of Sussex Butterfly Conservation.   I was sorry to miss it as it's always a good day out. And poor Col had to miss the Michael Blencowe talk, which is a highlight.    Then we went to Jackie for supper and she had cooked us a roast lamb dinner - with raspberry tart and ice-cream to follow.  Perfect.

Sunday - the Captain detectorised all day - but did not find a hoard of Viking gold.   Still he had a good day out, in this lovely Sussex Autumn.

There was no meeting on Sunday. Field service instead. I did not make it to the group - but did get out a bit later in the morning and had 3 very interesting calls. But how to keep up with them? And how to find someone to come with me to all of them?

Col was out in the week photographing Kingfishers.    Apparently some years ago a kingfisher flew into the visitor centre at The Wetland Trust, flew into something and was killed.  The member of staff who picked it up said it was so small - such a tiny fragile creature. Yet they are fierce little fighters and fishers.

How wonderful it will be when God's Kingdom is ruling over us. The little thing would not have been frightened of us then, but could have flown straight over to the first person it saw to get help in finding the way out.

What a mess we have made of the paradise planet Jehovah gave us. But a rescue is on the way - so close now.   Our Saturday Assembly was to remind us of that and to strengthen us to keep going, because as Jesus said:  "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." - Matthew 24:14

We - every one of us on the earth today - has the privilege offered to us of being part of this great Kingdom preaching work.  It will never come again.

Friday, 17 November 2017

George Orwell and Us

Its now Friday and I am trying to think what I have been doing... the answer is probably Not A Lot.  Made another fruit cake for the AGM.  And Jean and I were out on the preaching work on Tuesday. We had a very good morning out - nearly two hours, amazing for us. It was sad too though, as one of Jean's regular calls is in such distress. She desperately needs proper medical attendance for her husband at home, but is not being given it (for "health and safety" reasons). Suddenly, in retirement, their lives have become full of pain, and almost impossibly difficult.
Yesterday I was out with one of the young pioneers - young compared to me that is (though who isn't these days?) - yet she too was talking about the difficulties of ageing!

And for some reason it made me think of A Clergyman's Daughter by George Orwell.  He writes very movingly about the loss of faith of his central character.

And given only faith, how can anything else matter?  How can anything dismay you if only there is some purpose in the world which you can serve, and which, while serving it, you can understand?  Your whole life is illuminated by that sense of purpose.  There is no weariness in your heart, no doubts, no feeling of futility, no Baudelairean ennui waiting for unguarded hours.  Every act is significant, every moment sanctified, woven by faith as into a pattern, a fabric of never-ending joy.

She began to meditate on the nature of life. You emerged from the womb, you lived sixty or seventy years, and then you died and rotted.  And in every detail of your life, if no ultimate purpose redeemed it, there was a quality of greyness, of desolation, that could never be described,but which you would feel like a physical pang at your heart.  Life, if the grave really ends it, is monstrous and dreadful.  No use trying to argue it away. Think of life as it really is, think of the details of life; and then think that there is no meaning in it, no purpose, no goal except the grave. Surely only fools or self-deceivers, or those whose lives are exceptionally fortunate can fact that thought without flinching?

So I think we both wondered just how those who do not know the truth cope with the ageing process.  Its not easy, even when you do know there is a meaning, and a purpose, and a rescue on the way.

Re faith, George Orwell says this:  "It is a mysterious thing, the loss of faith - as mysterious as faith itself. Like faith, it is ultimately not rooted in logic, it is a change in the climate of the mind."

And there is the problem.  Because for faith to be real living and enduring, it must be rooted in logic, in reason.  Jehovah asks us to love him with our whole mind, as well as our whole heart and soul.

We need that connection to our Creator to give meaning and hope to our lives. It won't be completely restored till the end of the Thousand Years, but just to be heading back there makes all the difference.   At the end of the Thousand Years, which will be wonderful in themselves, our real lives will begin. There will be so much to know, so much to do. So much happiness.  And everything will be full of meaning.  Nothing will be futile.

This morning it was shopping - the big Marks and Sparks - with Captain B.   It was a lovely Autumn day - low sunlight, shining Autumn colours.   A day to tell those who will look and listen of its Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.

Monday, 13 November 2017

"Islander" - Patrick Barkham at the Sussex Wildlife Trust AGM

We - Captain and Mrs Butterfly - went to the AGM of the Sussex Wildlife Trust on Saturday morning.   The guest speaker was Patrick Barkham, talking about his latest book Islander, A Journey Around our Archipelago.

Col has met him in the Butterfly world and he remembered Col and remembered his name...  left me awe-struck as it keeps my two remaining brain cells at full stretch remembering my own name these days.      We have heard Patrick speak before in the year of his launch of The Butterfly Isles.  He is s very good speaker.  We now have a signed copy of Islander - and a rare edition at that, as the first run was printed with The Isle of Man upside down on the cover.

It was a very well organised AGM. The boring business bit went like clockwork, the Chairperson's speech about the year's achievements was impressive and interesting. Patrick's talk was excellent, funny and informative.  And it included islands I have never even heard of, for all that the UK is so small.  I am looking forward to reading the book now.

Then we had an excellent buffet lunch, and a drive home through the loveliness of Autumn Sussex.

Jacks came for supper - I did cook, rather than Cooks, this time.  A beef curry a la Delia (Captain B just found me a new Delia at a Charity bookshop), a trusty old Madhur Jaffrey carrot and cabbage stir fry I used to make a lot on Planet Expat,  And a dahl courtesy of the Waitrose chill cabinet.  There was at time when I would have made it all and more.  The usual ice-creams to follow.

Yesterday was the meeting at the Hall, The teaching seems to get better and better all the time. What will it be like a thousand years from now?  What wonderful things will we be learning then?

I hope we will all be there to find out.

I did three calls in the afternoon - one to a young girl I called on weeks ago, but have never found home again. I think I will have to leave it now as that map will be being worked again soon.  But I also called on two elderly ladies, leaving both a little card asking if all is well with them.  I have been faithfully delivering the magazines every month but have not seen them for ages. And one of my sisters at the Hall usually sees one of these ladies on the bus.  But she hasn't seen her either. So we were a bit worried.

At one door, I found that the bells had been dismantled and there is one of those keyholder boxes outside.  So I did not knock, just left card and magazine, and hope that someone will contact me.

But my other lady - the lady of the bus - rang me in the evening to assure me she was fine.  Apparently her door bell is not working!  It lights up as it if is, but it isn't.  She seemed touched we were worried about her.

I was trying to think what on earth I did on Friday, but realised it was a shopping and cooking day.  We shopped and I made the spicy beef casserole in the morning, and a big carrot cake in the afternoon. Captain B and Butterfly Mark are now going out into the field again - mushroom season - and I need a freezer full of cake for the packed lunches.

Talked to Bea of the North yesterday. Apparently I either haven't sent her a copy of my book - or it never arrived... and she wants to read it.  I was sure I had sent to both aunts, but maybe I didn't. Anyway, as soon as the next batch arrive from the US of A, I will send.  Jean wants me to send one to her daughter in Oz - she insists on paying for both book and postage.    So that hopefully will be 2 I have sold!  The dizzy heights of bestsellerdom beckon.  But not in my direction. 

Still, I just want people to enjoy reading it. Hopefully it might make them think a bit. And I would love to make a bit of money for my young publisher...

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Yawning and Spinning

I was driving poor Captain Butterfly mad yesterday by yawning all the time... he even started to spin round in his chair saying "I divorce you, I divorce you..."   But I reminded him it was too late - we are no longer in Saudi.

"Not fair" he sulked
"Life isn't fair" was my cruel but accurate response.

Though, to be fair, I had had quite a busy day for me.  Hospital in the morning - sleep clinic - for my sleep problems - then to Maggie in the afternoon - a bit harrowing as she was having a difficult time.   She startled me as I was leaving by saying something new.  She has been consistently losing words and phrases and is now down to very few. But she suddenly said "Thanks for putting up with me."

She has never said that before.

I had to go back and reassure her that I wasn't putting up with her. That I wanted to come and see her. She and Don were very good to me always.  But I don't know how much of what I said she understood. Nothing, I guess, but you have to try.

And I also did some calls on the way to Maggie and on the way back.  Mostly they were not at home, but I did find two in. And one I can call on again.

They are stressing return visits in the meeting tomorrow. But it is not easy.

The Captain had a good day as he and Butterfly Mark went off adventuring.  And he also sorted out his pictures for the 2018 Calendar.    But where did 2017 go to?   People sometimes ask me if I am bored in retirement, and I have to assure them that I haven't had time to find out yet.

Great telly.  Masterchef - the Professionals; followed by The Apprentice; followed by the new series of Detectorists.   My head was spinning by the time I went to bed.  I wonder what all this constant input is doing to our brains?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Saving Elephants

We went to a talk by Saba Douglas Hamilton on Saturday night.  Wonderful, and tragic.  But it is amazing what one person, one family can do.

Very well worth going.  The hall in Haywards Heath was packed and it went on quite late, but we were enthralled.  Interesting, funny, sad. The Kenyan government seems to be making a valiant effort to protect its precious elephants, but they are up against the destructive currents of the world.

And the tenderness and bravery of elephants in the face of all this is heartrending.

Saba is realistic about what she is up against, but is achieving some great things.   I hope she will talk to the next Jehovah's Witnesses who call on her, because we want to tell her of the promised rescue for all the earthly creation.

Yesterday morning got off to a dramatic start. One of our neighbours, not young, had a bad fall and so we took him to the A & E, and did our shopping there, instead of locally.

On the doubleplusgood side, a lovely bunch of flowers arrived, beautifully packaged, roses and flocks in creams and lilacs. They are from cousin Linda, Catherine and Jessica who came over to see us on Saturday.   Jessica is a darling little girl of nearly two, with a real Hay look to her when she laughs.

It was a busy weekend for us - for us these days.  Wine and cheese at Micah's on Friday night, which was great. And Captain B really enjoyed it.  We chauffered Jean.   She and I had intended to go out on the work on Saturday, but it poured with rain all morning so we had to cancel. Then Linda and family came - then we went to Saba - then it was the meeting in the morning for me - Detectoring for Captain Butterfly - and - A LANDMARK MOMENT - to supper at Jackie's!  It has been nearly 6 months but maybe we are back to normal - or as normal as we can get these elderly days.

Aunt Jo rang and we managed a talk  we are both a bit deaf now. She is 93, but still valiantly living on her own and coping.   Not easy though.  We talked about my  mother, and what a lovely person she was.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Herding Elephants

African Bush Elephants, Loxodonta africana
I am just re-reading Ffyona Campbell's wonderful "On Foot Through Africa" and among its many gems came across this:

Speaking of her father, a man of very strong character, and his visit to her walk, Ffyona says:  "As I tried to direct him into a tent I was reminded of an old Zairois proverb: "He who wishes to herd the elephant must first take into account which way the elephants are already heading."


The photo is from Captain Butterfly's recent safari.

I have read my copy to death and will now have to get another one.  It is very well written and gives such an interesting view of the continent, as she walks through its various countries.

She even meets one Jehovah's Witness as she walks along - a local guy - and has a brief chat with him. 

Once again, I am reminded of the importance of the Kingdom preaching work.  Which we were out on yesterday. We had some very interesting calls, including one to a young journalist who was on the phone to Joan Bakewell (!), and one to a lady who was working in her garden as we passed by en route from the journalist. She took some literature from us, assured us she has a Bible, and said we can go back.  And Jean and I were out on return visits on Tuesday.  We hope to get back to the first call work on Saturday, but only for an hour as a busy weekend is coming up, starting with visitors for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Ear Ear

Littlehampton bonfire night 28th October, 2017
Started on a new course of treatment for my ears yesterday - a nose spray that will help to clear a possible blockage in the right ear.  Dr. M did a test in the morning and I can hardly hear anything in that ear.  I knew it was the bad one, as it was that ear that provided the strange auditory illusion, when it sang "If I loved you" in Nathan Granner's voice to me.

Keith and Janet stayed the night on Saturday, and we swapped books.  I gave them "Waiting for Gordo" and Janet gave me:
York Literary Review Spring 2017
The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry
to both of which she has contributed some excellent poems.

She is in prestigious company in the Anthology, which includes Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Duhig, and Clare Pollard.  All favourites of mine. And I love Janet (Dean)'s poetry too.

Didn't get to the meeting on Sunday as we had visitors. We sat over a long breakfast and then they headed North via a lunch with friends en route.  It was good to catch up, and I do wish we lived nearer to family.

Jean and I drove to Angmering on Saturday morning - and got some calls done.  We turned in and out of cul-de-sacs, here, there and everywhere, only got ourselves a bit lost once, and had some good calls.   The Fairground was set up on the Green, and Jacks joined us for supper, bonfire and fireworks.  I made us some chicken and mushroom, and we had ice-cream afterwards.

The bonfire was splendid, but Jacks and I felt that the fireworks were not quite as spectacular as usual.   They were still spectacular though.
Littlehampton fireworks 28th October, 2017

Friday, 27 October 2017

The Decisive White Bar

Decisive White Bar, Eustrotia decissima
This Decisive fellow is from the Captain's (b)Log - from his recent Africa trip.  What wonderful names moths have.  And why is it Decisive?  Did its Discoverer and Namer see that it was very brisk and definite about its choice of flower to nectar from?  Or about its choice of mate?

It has got me thinking of a name for me if I were a moth.  The Indecisive Susan might do, I guess, as my Discoverer, which would have to be Captain Butterfly, observed me hovering and havering over flowers, worrying about choosing the wrong one.

Still I did make a good choice of mate.  And I listened to the Jehovah's Witnesses who called at my door all those years ago - and have clung to them ever since.

Had my ears syringed yesterday.  Never had it done before.  I hope it will restore my hearing... if not, it will be the hearing aid route.

The nurse and I managed a running joke all the way through the process, because I had told her about my strange experience of finding a little radio inside my right ear that played a perfect rendition of Nathan Granner, (of the American Tenors) singing "If I loved you" in rehearsal.

It played and played in my ear.  It was both scary and a definite improvement on the tinnitus, as it is a song I love, and Nathan has a wonderful voice.

Apparently these auditory hallucinations are a known. but rare (or rarely reported?), side-effect of tinnitus...  and as I said, it did give us a running joke through the syringeing process. We ended with a rousing chorus of: "She's washed that man right out of my ear".

Jean and I did calls on Tuesday.  But its so hard to find people at home.  And I am still behind.  Today the Captain and I will shop together - and I will cook something for tomorrow night, so I can get out on the doors tomorrow and hopefully continue to catch up.

Monday, 23 October 2017

A Retro Moth

Salagena tessellata

I was looking through Captain Butterfly's African moth and butterfly blogs - lovely creatures, lovely names - and was struck by this retro-moth. Surely there is something of the Fifties about this design?  Very Festival of Britain.  The style of my youth.

Which goes to show that, as the Inspired Scriptures tell us, there is nothing new under the sun.  Jehovah created retro before Retro even existed.

"What has been will be again,
  what has been done will be done again;
  there is nothing new under the sun,"
          Ecclesiastes 1:9

Which might seem obvious. And is certainly true.  But why?   Isn't it because Jehovah is the Creator of all new things, and at the moment he is doing a restorative work towards the earth.  He is in the process of restoring it to the Paradise it was always meant to be.

Then, after that, after the Thousand Years, there will be new things. Things we can't even dream of now.

In the meantime, there is more than enough to keep us interested.  A new series of "Blue Planet" is just starting - and David Attenborough was being interviewed on the BBC News this morning - saying how wonderful, how fascinating, the sea and the life in it is. 

Our meeting yesterday was such a help.  There is no teaching like it in the world - and I only wish that everyone...     We, Jean and myself, went to Waitrose afterwards, to have coffee with a Bible student who is attending the meetings regularly, and who says he really looks forward to the coffee get together.   He reminds me of myself when I first started to attend the meetings - just drinking it all in.   Drinking in the teaching, not the coffee that is.  Though in his case, both.  We found a couple of the young sisters there and joined them, so it was quite a jolly table. I gave Jean and another sister a lift home afterwards.

I am a far from sociable person - being somewhat on the Aspergers radar - I really identified with the Chris Packahm docco where he spoke about his life with Autism/Apspergers.  One of the hardest things about coming into the truth - Christianity being called "the way of the truth" - for me was being congregated, becoming part of a large family.  Lovely, of course, but difficult.

But there is room for everyone in the truth, and I can feel both happy and useful in it. Though I am also feeling very guilty about all the people I have not got back to....

It was a beautiful day yesterday, blue skies, white clouds, big waves on the beach. We all enjoyed the drive back along the seafront.

Its grey and rainy today, with waves.  And the Captain and I shopped this morning - Waitrose (using up our coupons), the Post Office (posting the Butterfly Memberships) and to the Pie Shop (doing a bit of Billy Buntering).

Jackie has finished "Waiting for Gordo" and said she found it very scary (I hope it is funny too).  But she seemed to have enjoyed it, and did read it quickly.  And my aim was to make it a good read, so that gives me a positive feeling about it.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Storm Who?

Storm Somebody or Other arrived today.   Jean and I decided not to go out. She is very frail and I worry about her in a high wind.  I am not much use these days, with painful knees and so crippled in one arm.

We really would have needed a sturdy brother to drive us about, and help us with getting Jean's walker down the stairs and into the car. As Winter arrives we may have to make some such arrangement.

So it was a quiet day.  Which suited me. Captain B has not been well and we have had two difficult nights.  He is feeling a lot better today, thank God.   I did my studying for Sunday this morning, and got the butterfly paperwork done, dusted, and ready for a trip to the Post Office on Monday. And I made us lunch and supper - veggie soup and yoghurt, and a supper of cod goujuns from Lidl's with rice and peas and a sweet and sour sauce.  No Jackie this weekend, but she is coming over next weekend when Keith and Janet are here.

Aunt Jo rang to thank me for the book - as did Lilian.  They both loved the cover, so my publisher has done me proud.   I hope they will also love the book...    it seems so slight now I re-read it. Though I do think the beginning and the ending are just right.   And I hope no-one will guess who the villain is.

Jen and I had a good morning together on Thursday.   I told her the story of my Daniel in the Lion's Den experience (in minor key, with cat) and she thought it was very funny.  Which it is in retrospect, but quite desperate at the time.   And I was out with one of the young pioneers in the afternoon, and it was the meeting in the evening.

I don't think I did much at all on Friday, apart from a bit of housework, as that was such a busy day for me, nowadays.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Posting "Waiting"

Monday morning - while we were waiting for Hurricane Ophelia to arrive (hopefully just as a storm) - I got the first copies of "Waiting for Gordo" posted.  One to each aunt - Bea and Jo - one to the Oz Branch of the family - one to Julia who, many years ago, helped me with the first chapter (she advised me to ditch it, I did), one to Lilian whose lovely and unusual (and unused by her) first name I have borrowed for a character (one I get safely off the island), and one to young Amy, who did such a positive and intelligent review of "Till".

I have asked David in Oz to let me know his new address if he wants a copy too.  And I must also get a copy despatched to the Bavarian branch of the family.  I ran out of envelopes.

Jackie has her copy and says she has already started and has four chapters under her belt. And Jean has her copy too - she said she loved the cover - "a work of art".  I can take no credit for it, as the publisher decides, but it was based on a photo that Col took on one of our dive trips. so it conveys the tropical paradise well.

I can only hope people will find it a good read - and both scary and funny.  I have one review on my Amazon page, a positive one.  Hurrah.

At 2.30 in the afternoon the sky was full of darkness and there was a wonderfully ominous light from the West. The wind was starting to blow and there were white horses on a previously calm Channel. It was very dark to the back of the flat, inland.

However, the storm blew away quickly without really touching down here. It has caused some devastation elsewhere though.

Monday night the talk season at the Arundel Westland started.  The first was about birds - their feeding habits.    We - the Captain, Terry and me - went.  Terry bought us all a tea, and he won a nice sturdy shopping bag in the raffle, which he gave me - and I am grateful for the addition to my shopping bag hoard - valuable things nowadays.  Jacks, sadly, was not well enough to come.  Jean and I went out yesterday morning, but not to the Field Service group. We did calls - a cluster of Jean's calls and four of mine too. I am getting further and further behind, so that was a help.

Now Captain B is off for his hairdressing appointment, so he will take a copy of "Waiting" to Malcolm, who said he would like one when I told him about it.

I just hope people will enjoy reading it. I have lost all confidence in it now. But I have to agree that the cover is a work of art.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

My Talk

I had my first talk for ages in the Kingdom Ministry school on Thursday night. This was the talk I was doing:  

Return Visit: (4 min. or less) g17.5 cover—The magazine was featured on the preceding visit. Continue the conversation, and lay the groundwork for the next visit.

 And this is the current magazine (g17.5):  

And this is the talk:

Sue:  Hello A.M. nice to find you in. I'm Sue from your local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.   If you remember, I called earlier this month and I found you in the middle of decorating  - painting.  How is it going?

AM:   Oh, it's never ending.  But I've got the day off as I have a friend coming over.  In fact, I thought you were her when I heard the door bell.

Sue:   You are a busy lady - so I will get straight to the point. I just wanted to ask if you had found a moment to read the magazine I left with you.

AM:   Yes...  I did... but I wasn't interested in that article about disasters - too much gloom and doom on the news as it is. But there was an article about shells I found quite interesting. I used to collect them when I was a little girl.

Sue.  That was this one on the back page. Yes, they are so lovely. Do you see why we included that article?

AM:   Yes - clearly you are saying that the beauty of shells, the way they are made, says they must have a maker, a creator.

Sue. That's it!  When we see such perfect design and engineering and artistry what does it tell us about their Grand Creator, Jehovah?

AM:   But you see really your magazine contradicts itself because when you look at that article about all the disasters that can happen, that are happening, doesn't that tell us that, if there is a Creator, he does not care for us?

Sue: That really is the question. All this beauty and all the tragedy. (I gave a short illustration about how a parent making a lovely garden for a child would not include lots of dangerous animals, poisonous plants, open wells for it to fall down, etc)  And I do wonder why more people don't ask it.  But I would love to show you how the Bible answers it.   I then read her this para from the article:  Disasters assault our very sense of justice. In response, some people mistakenly blame God. Many, like Joshua, experience “survivor’s guilt.” “I still wonder if I could have saved more people,” he says. “I am comforted by my belief that God will soon bring complete justice to the earth and will right all wrongs. In the meantime, I cherish each day of life and do what I reasonably can to preserve it.”​—Revelation 21:4, 5.

And then I read the quoted verses, stressing the "faithful and true":

"And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”  And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” - Revelation 21:4,5

AM:   Of course I would love that to be true, but how can I believe it?

Sue:  If you could spare me a bit of time - would next Thursday morning be good - I would love to show you how the Bible reassures us. 

It seemed to go down very well - thank God.  In fact, a Bible student who regularly attends the meetings said that he wished it could have been longer!

Now I am not sure if that was due to my brilliant script, my dazzling stage presence, or the fact that my householder was a particularly lovely young sister.    I asked Captain B, who had watched our rehearsal, but he pleaded the Fifth Amendment and remained silent.

So I shall accept it as a tribute to the power of Jehovah's inspired word to reach peoples' hearts, and the excellent teaching we get in the Kingdom Ministry School, week after week, which has enabled even me to get up on the big stage and speak effectively.

And as I was watching Winter Wipeout yesterday (people falling off things into water, marvelous stuff), and watching the fake snowflakes fall, I thought of the beauty and complexity of Jehovah's creation.  Apparently every snowflake is different...  yet there are countless billions of them.

So I was thinking about Thursday night, when, in congregations worldwide, the same little talks would be given - so many brothers and sisters with exactly the same brief, yet each talk would have been different.

The creation is wonderful now.  What is to come in the restored earthly Paradise?

I hope we are all there to find out.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Chase - and the Waiting is over

It was a very slow chase, involving my artificial knees (taking me with them) and a very elderly gentleman in his pyjamas. We were chasing a beautiful fluffy Siamese cat, not each other.

The gentleman is a regular call and we found him in, but he had forgotten to shut his cat - who is not allowed outdoors - in the bedroom, and the cat made a dash for freedom.  It shot under hedges, into gardens, under vans, with his owner and myself creaking along miles behind. Jean guarded the front door keeping it open as she felt that the householder did not have his keys with him (being in his jim jams).

Three young men joined in to help us, but no use... the cat had innumerable gardens to go into, hedges to get through and cars to go under.

Then Jean shouted to us that the cat had gone down one of the alleys close to the house - the elderly gent tottered down one, I tottered down another.  As I was doing so I realised there was no way we were going to catch this cat unless Jehovah intervened. So I quickly asked for his help.

I went into the next garden and there was Fluffykins sitting in the middle of the lawn.  I went up gently talking to him, and praying and he let me pick him up and carry him home!

It reminded me of Daniel in the lions den, to be honest.    Jehovah spoke to those lions and I have to believe that he spoke to that cat.

The elderly gentleman was so overcome with gratitude that he kissed me.  But it took it out of both of us.

Then I got stuck in the car park.  I took Jean to Sainsbury's on the way back so she wouldn't have to go out again. But the parking spaces are so narrow there that it took a whole load of backing and fillings for get out when our shopping was done.  In the end poor Jean had to get out and try to guide me, and I think we both asked Jehovah for help again. 

What would we do without Him?

The waiting for "Waiting for Gordo" is over. The books arrived yesterday.  It looks lovely, but now that it comes to sending it to people, which I have been longing to do, I have lost confidence and am wondering why would anybody want to read it...

oh dear

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Still Waiting for "Waiting for Gordo"

Back into our routine on Saturday - Jean and I went out together - walking to local calls - but it does mean I have to cope with driving out of the block of flats.  The parking on the road is so intense that you come out blind. There is no way of seeing what is coming either way.  I do a lot of praying.

She hurtled about on her walker, leaving me breathless in her wake. Amazing.

And we had Jacks round to supper last night - staying till 9.30, which is pretty much the usual time these days.   We had mascarpone chicken, mashed potato, veggies, followed by ice-cream. And we laughed a lot.

Still haven't seen a copy of "Waiting" - which has given me an idea for a follow up:  "Waiting for Waiting for Gordo".  Apparently my copies are on the way from the USA.    Longing to see it.  Have sold two copies so far, and have loads to give away - when they arrive that is.

In the meantime, a great cloud of butterfly memberships arrived. They are done and dusted and are in the hall awaiting their trip to the Post Office - hopefully first thing tomorrow morning.   And me and my lovely young householder practised our talk for Thursday.  I have the return visit in the Main Hall - 4 minutes or less.

And I had a lovely long chat with Nute and Pen - who were both a Lilac Tree - on Skype.  It unsettled me a bit, as there is a part of me that wants to be living back up North near to my sisters and their families...  but we are also very well settled here...   

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Hearts and Minds

The headline news is about the massacre in Las Vegas when, we are told, one gunman has managed to kill nearly 60 people, and wound hundreds.  Motive unknown so far.    But we are being told that his father was a violent criminal... which reminds me of the worst shooting (so far) in the UK, in Dunblane, when the killer targeted a gym full of young schoolchildren. His family background was a very unhappy one. 

Why do some rise above it, but others spectacularly and tragically do not?  In her book "Without a Map" Meredith Hall finds the young child she was forced to give up for adoption - and finds he was handed over to a childhood of severe abuse - his body is covered with scars.

Yet he is the most amazing and loving young man.

There is now a big debate about gun laws in the US.  And, taking no sides in it, it is surely hearts and minds that need to change, not so much laws. The criminally violent will always be able to get guns for as long as this violent system of things goes on on the earth.

And, talking of changing hearts and minds - God's inspired word has unparalleled power to do that.  So it was back to the field  Tuesday morning - and it was surprisingly hard to make myself get out there after a week off. So glad I did, as I knew I would be.   My sister and I did nearly two hours, which is good for me these days - we finished our territory and managed a couple of return visits on our way back home.

But I am so far behind with everything once again.  People sometimes say that if you talk to us, we won't stop calling. But I wonder if anyone thinks how difficult it is to get back to all your calls, and when you do, to find them at home again?

I never gave it a thought. I do now of course.

Sunday, 1 October 2017


Friday morning we met Ian and Sheryl at a new coffee shop that I won't name. We planned to have brunch there.  They are over from Oz, visiting family and friends and they managed a brief stopover, which was lovely.   We haven't seen them since the evening we spent on their lovely yacht in Chichester Harbour some years ago.

They really did look just the same - and seem to be keeping busy and happy.

So - we met at this glamorous new venue we have been watching them build for the last year and were looking forward to trying it out.    It was empty apart from one other couple.   We sat there for ages, then realised we had perhaps better look at the menu.  Which looked good.  There was a lovely veggie brek on that I was going to order - and some other wonderful sounding things for the others. 

The young staff, who never came near us, were having fun at the counter and playing loud jangly music.  Which I don't really want at any time - let alone 9.30 in the morning.   So Captain B asked them politely if they could turn it down.  No, they couldn't.  Or at any rate, they didn't. So we left (as did the other couple) and we went and had breakfast at Waitrose.   Porridge and blueberries for himself, a bacon butty for Ian, bacon and avocado for beautiful Sheryl, and sourdough toast with honey for myself - plus large lattes all round.  It was excellent.

We will not be bothering again with the new place. It is clearly only for young and trendy people - the sort who know what the word "barrista" means.

It has been a real nothing weekend - we are both feeling so tired - most unusual for Captain B, not so unusual for me these days.  I did get myself together for the field service on Saturday, but realised that I would not be able to drive - legs too painful.   I got myself to the meeting this morning though - so they must have been a bit better - and was able to give a lift to the lovely young sister who lives across the road. She usually walks there and I drive her back, but it was raining this morning, so I chauffered her both ways.  Which was something useful at least.

Friday, 29 September 2017

First Review of "Waiting for Gordo"

The waiting for the first review of "Waiting for Gordo" is over, as I found this on the Amazon site today - and from a fellow author too.    I am so happy with it.

"This very unusual novel combines magical realism with tension, suspense and humour. Miranda and her husband Jim arrive on a luxury, but remote, island for a diving holiday. Jim will dive with their party, and Miranda will enjoy the sea, the sun and relaxation. But like all Paradises, something is lurking on the island that may not welcome the visitors. What is it that moves in the undergrowth as Miranda strolls round the island enjoying the night sky? Why is the long-awaited Gordo continually delayed - and why is it that one by one, Jim and Miranda's party, the only visitors on the island, are starting to vanish? WAITING FOR GORDO explores eco-destruction, responsibility, and the darkness that so often underlies the beauties of nature. Miranda and Jim are characters who engage and convince, the slow burn of the narrative means the tension gradually builds. And what about the golden cockroach? Highly recommended."

But I am still waiting for my first copy of "Waiting"  - which is kind of appropriate, I guess.  People have been asking me how long it is, how many pages. And I have to admit that I don't know.

I was talking to Lilian from PlanetExpat about it yesterday. And talking of the lost Planet, we are meeting two of it ex-denzins for brunch today - they are touching down locally for an hour or two in their travels.  We last saw them on their super yacht in Chichester Harbour before they sailed it to Oz.

I made it to the Meeting last night - thank God - under my own chaufferage.  My first outing since Captain B took me to the dentist on Monday morning.

Monday, 25 September 2017


 I heard today through a facebook post that a very old friend, Mary Jane, has died. She died in March - and apparently quite a few of her friends do not yet know it.   And, yes, who would have told us.  Her mother would have, but she died a year ago.

Janie and I knew each other from the age of 12, when her family moved in next door to ours.  We have kept in touch over the years, though recently it has been a matter of an end of year letter, but she has been down here to stay with us.  We always got on well as a couple with both her husbands...

Her second husband - her happiest marriage - died many years ago, very young. And she never married again.

I hope that she is safe in "the everlasting arms" - safe in God's memory, along with Barrie- and that when the time comes for the dead to wake, he will be the first person that she sees.

They are holding a Memorial for her in Medicine Hat - where she lived for many years.  Col and I will have a glass of wine for her tonight. He liked Janie a lot - they got on really well.

I have managed to contact the lady in Medicine Hat who says she only has one contract for Janie - who I think is her sister in law.  I have asked her if she could let me have it, IF she feels OK about sending it to me.

Its a sad old world we live in at the moment.  However, I hope I will see Janie again one day.

On a more mundane note, I did make it to my dental appointment this morning - but only because Captain Butterfly was my chauffeur.   All well, apart from one lost filling, which he neatly repaired in about 3 minutes with no drilling.   It was so quick I could hardly believe it when he told me.

"Right, I'll make my escape then" I said hurting off the couch at the speed of light.  Well, at the speed of a rather elderly light beam, zimmering through the universe, light years behind all the other beams.

He thought that was very funny so we ended the appointment on a laugh, which is the best way.

But then of course I got home to this melancholy news.

I have been playing "Elizabethan Serenade", which takes me back to the lost world of 1950s/60s England when Janie and first knew each other.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Flare-up

The horrendous arthritis flare up began late on Friday afternoon. Friday night and Saturday were awful.  Now on Sunday after another sleepless night, I seem to be turning the corner.  Apart from my back, which is worrying me. The attack started with my right ankle, but during last night it seemed to progress from the bottom of my spine to the top.

At one point I thought I was having a heart attack - painful tightness in chest, and difficulty in breathing - but after a while it seemed more like the roaming arthritis attack.

So I am missing the meeting today - and the Circuit Overseer's talks!  Which is sad. I have tried to listen in, but the line is a bit crackly this morning and that, combined with my tinnitus, has made it impossible.

I am becoming more of a wreck every day that passes.   This growing old is difficult.

I thought I had paced myself too.  I visited  Jean and her daughter on Friday morning, shopped first, and so took it easy on Friday afternoon. But... maybe it was the stairs?  I do try to avoid them these days wherever possible.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Very Very Precious Cargo

Actually two precious cargoes. Firstly I had to take our Circuit Overseer's wife to Angmering, and then I had to pick up Captain Butterfly from the station. He is safely back from his African Safari - tired, but hopefully happy.

He has now seen the Big Africa. His previous trips were firstly to dive with the Great White Sharks, and secondly (and with me) to go to a friend's wedding in Jo-burg and then stay with Anne of the Cape on, obviously, The Cape.   It was lovely. And we did see some of the big animals. But not in their big setting.

Busy week for me as it is the Circuit Overseer visit - always a boost for the congregations. And I feel I learned a lot this morning working with my sister.

Tomorrow I hope to visit Jean - now back home after her operation - and fit in some field service too.  A lot will depend on the weather.

I visited Maggie on Wednesday, and got my usual warm welcome. And managed half an hour on the door to door work, before we were rained off.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Quickest 10 Seconds in Human History?

Usually Col times my arthritis injection while I jab the thing into my leg and scream Hurry Up, Its Hurting, as he counts a  v e r y  s l o w  t e n  s e c o n d s...  but as he was not around Sunday night, I had to do it.     12345678910.   And I got the injection pen the right end up this time - which I failed to do on the other occasion I had to do it on my own, and injected my finger instead of my leg.  A painful surprise.

If there is a stick lying around anywhere, that is sure to be me firmly holding onto the wrong end of it.

Talking of which I managed to get us to the wrong road on Saturday morning - even though I do  have a map. I drove us to the Way not to the Crescent...  still it had not been done, and we did have some good calls.  But if I can manage that WITH a map, what would I have done without one?    We would probably have ended up on a crescent in Timbuctoo, wondering why it was so hot and dusty, and why we had to drive most of the way under water.

Today I have to make a trip to the doctors with my blood pressure results and to the pharmacy with a prescription.  To my  horror some more Butterfly Memberships have arrived and will have to be done.   I have changed the bedding, washed the sheets etc, have a veggie soup cooking, and have done my errands.   But no studying as yet, and I do need to get on with it as it is the Circuit Overseer visit this week,

Friday, 15 September 2017

"A Hillsborough Situation"

A young girl. who was caught up in some kind of bomb(?) attack on a packed London underground train today, was being interviewed on the BBC News and said that she saw many injured in the panicked rush to get off the train and out the station.  She described it as "a Hillsborough situation", which was chilling.

Its hard to know yet what happened. People are talking of an explosion, a fireball, screams and a panicked exit.  People are packed in like sardines during rush hour...

We commuted on the London underground for years, in our youth, through IRA bomb scares and all.

What next?

On a more happy note, I got to the meeting last night, though I didn't make it to the field service in the morning. I have had two bad days, painwise.  But I hope to be back on the work tomorrow morning.   We have just come to the end of Ezekiel, with its amazing restoration promises.

There is so much to look forward to, if we listen to our Creator, Jehovah, the God of Abraham.

Jacks is coming for supper tomorrow night - lasagne and salad.  I have Cooked them, not cooked them. Well, I will be making the salad and dressing.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Storm Aileen

We were out in the field yesterday morning, on an estate in which all the streets have the names of flowers.  I left a magazine with one gentleman who didn't claim to have much faith in the Bible, or even in the idea of a God, but was prepared to have a look as he could see no way out, beyond praying and hoping there is someone there...

As it becomes more and more obvious how true the warning in the Inspired Scriptures is - that "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step" - will more people start to look for their Creator?

I certainly hope so  Its very urgent.

It was a beautiful September day - turning into very stormy weather by the evening. The wind howled and roared round us all night.  The sun is appearing this morning and there are still big waves on the Channel.

I just saw the News and apparently it was Storm Aileen!  And its now heading North.  My tinnitus was so bad last night that I was only vaguely aware of it and was amazed when I stepped out onto the balcony. It stormed and roared all night, but it was the pain in my leg that kept me awake.

And of course it was nothing at all compared to what those in the Caribbean and America have been going through.

News of my siblings there on today:

BREAKING NEWS | Hurricane Irma Update

Information is becoming available regarding the status of our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and southeastern United States in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Sadly, an elderly brother in Florida and one of our sisters in Georgia died while evacuating. Additionally, two of our brothers were injured in Tortola, which is the largest of the British Virgin Islands. Throughout the Caribbean, over 40 homes have sustained major damage and at least 40 of our brothers have been displaced. Assessments are ongoing as the brothers gain access to affected regions.Our prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and the many who are impacted by the storm. We continue to rely on the comfort Jehovah provides through the congregation.—1 Thessalonians 3:7.

Saturday, 9 September 2017


The waiting for "Waiting for Gordo" is over!  It was officially launched at the Fantasticon in Hull this  month, and has even sold some copies.  I'm really sorry we could not be there. Maybe next year?

I started writing it many many years ago - and it was taken by a London Agent briefly (also many years ago), but she then changed her mind and said it did not fit existing thriller categories.

Some years later I submitted it to Fantastic Books as an "eco-thriller" - and voila!  it found a home.

I now hope it will find readers and reviewers. And I would LOVE it to make my young publisher some money...

The inspiration for this book came from the annual dive holidays Captain Butterfly used to organise for the Aramco Shoal.  We went to some lovely tropical islands.   And so I combined that with an Agatha Christie plot - "And Then There Were None" - put my characters on a small island, and then, one by one...

This is one of the many lovely photos he took.

I've just noticed its being marketed as a novella. so while its a lot longer than "Till They Dropped", it is clearly quite a short book.  I have not yet seen it in book form, and am longing to.

So, its short, and I hope it is very readable. I have tried to make it entertaining, while touching on some more serious subjects - tourism (the benefits v the damage), global warming, and the way we are ruining the earth.

It is very much not a political thriller - it takes no sides and has no political solutions to offer.  And given that even I did not know who was doing it (and why) it till I was halfway through writing it, I hope my readers will be surprised when they find out.