Friday, 31 March 2017

The Wild Mushroom - George McCarthy

Magpie Inkcap, Coprinus picaceus
Wednesday night, when we came back home from the talk in Steyning by The Wild Mushroom man, George McCarthy, we saw a fox resting peacefully on the grass by the garages.  On seeing us, it got up and disappeared into the bushes.

As things are now, we keep disturbing and frightening the little creatures. When the earth is Paradise again, it will be able to sleep happily on, sure that we are not going to hurt it.  Not that we would have done anything to hurt it now, let me quickly add, but, with the serpent still in the garden, it can take no risks.

We saw some great photos from George. And there was some valuable info for all those who are trying to sell their photos.  Which is not so easy these days. Jackie came with us, but it wasn't the usual foursome, as Terry is on his hols.

The talk was called The Four Seasons - fours seasons of wonderful wildlife photos - especially of birds in Winter. And we have reached another seasonal landmark in that, on Tuesday, I drove to the evening meeting at the Hall without needing the lights on.  (Our meeting was on the Tuesday as it is the week of the Circuit Overseer visit.)   The next landmark will be when I can drive back in the light...

Did nearly two hours on the field service yesterday - including a load of tricky and stressful driving - came back, fell asleep.    I did manage to use the mushrooms to make two batches of mushroom/veggie soup, but that was about it.

Masterchef has started, which will give rise to the following dialogue:

Captain B:  "Honey, I'm home. What's for supper?"

Mrs Captain B;  "Er... baked beans on toast.  I'll just go and open the tin. Too busy watching Masterchef to cook anything."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Old Playgrounds - and an Arthritis Flare up

A weekend of self pity - due to yet another arthritis flare up in my right hand - is not an interesting thing to write about, now that I can type again.  The hand is still red and swollen, but the awful pain has gone, just soreness now, and I can use it, pretty much.

I keep thinking about my mother and what she went through in her seventies... she became completely crippled and her heart gave out at 74.

The spring blossom should be especially precious this year, as whether I shall have many more springs to my name lies in the hands of my Creator, Jehovah.  On my own, and in this current damaged system of things,I don't think I will last much longer.

So I think I will add a poem that goes back to the 1950s, to the playgrounds of our childhood, which my youngest sister has written very lyrically about, inspiring the title of my first (of 2) books, a collection of family poems.  We played in the bomb sites, and then in the building sites they became as the brave new world we had hoped to build out of the rubble began to take shape.

                                         OLD PLAYGROUNDS   by Penny Grubb

A place to go. Remember where?
With cold, stone floor and dark, damp air.
Remember? It wasn't always there.

Perched up on the rafters high.
A breath! Dust billows, thick and dry.
The view's not walking feet, but sky.

Childhood's jungles all around.
Disused quarry's eerie sound.
Thistle sentries stand their ground.

The Rose-Bay higher than we knew.
Nettles, brambles, old and new.
And always poppies - just a few.

The juice ran thick and sweet and red
From berries wild as the kids they fed.
Garden's owners - long since dead.

Only the blue delphiniums show
That these were gardens, long ago.
Now mainly weeds. A place we know.

Through tangled growth, a shelter bare.
Relic of war - Like poppies there?
We didn't know, so didn't care.

Were there ghosts deep down below?
The men who had made the gardens grow?
There was no one there we knew, I know.

Now the attic's gone, the shelter's lost
The price of progress, or the cost?
Who thought about delphiniums tossed

Against the bricks of a brand new wall
A monster seventeen storeys tall
Where and when did the flowers fall?

Strangers walk the cold, stone floor
And where there was an old trapdoor.
Fill the space that was ours before

And though it's new, it's said maybe
That there's a ghost that people see.
I daren't go back. It might be me.

The "ghost" refers to the way that the places of our childhood are haunted by memories. The Inspired Scriptures assure us that the dead are "conscious of nothing at all".  We need neither fear them, nor fear for them.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Yet Another Arthritis Flare up

This time one finger of my right hand - came on overnight on Friday/Saturday- had to ring Jean and cancel - oh dear oh dear oh dear - I hope this isn't a permanent turn  - but am remembering what happened to my mother in her seventies... the arthritis overwhelmed every treatment...  of course there are more powerful drugs now...

And now I can't make it to Haysbridge.  Whole right hand red, swollen and of very little use.  Apart from the pain, I can barely cope with the loo here, which is set up for me.   A difficult night - dozing, waking, stressful dreams...

And Captain Butterfly, my Carer, is off to Corfu on Butterfly Business soon.    Oh dear.  and this is about all the typing i can cope with

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

An Evening with Dan and Libby...

...and with the other members of the upcoming Corfu trip.  On Friday night.  It was a lovely evening - good company, good food, in their rambling house, full to the brim with books.

I was in a lot of pain with my knee - hot and swollen.  But why?  My knees are Knew and Artificial. I will have to discuss this with my arthritis doctor at the next visit.

I hope I am not going to find myself starring in a book about  strange new medical conditions - SueKnightitis, in which the artificial joints become arthritic too.

And I was seated on a high dining room chair all evening. Thank God.  I could not have got myself off a sofa.

I did not make it to the Field Service Group Saturday morning.   But I did manage to drive myself to the Hall for the Broadcast.  It was a very short drive there and back and I felt I could just do it. But it took me an age to hobble from my car to the Hall. The walk loomed ahead of me like Mount Everest (it is flat, by the way).  And I used to be such a great walker.

However, as the English Blues Singer sang, "Mustn't grumble".  I did get to the lovely Broadcast. Such a good Watchtower study, such a good and encouraging public talk. And another powerful reminder that we are a worldwide family, united in our love for our Creator, Jehovah, and our love for each other.  This was a live broadcast that included JW congregations from the UK to Cyprus to Pakistan.

We had supper with Jackie in the evening - chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies, and  a chocolate torte for pud.  A fun evening, as it always is. We seem to cheer each other up.

Then - no meeting on Sunday, but a field service group at 10.00.  Which, to my surprise I managed to struggle to.   After yet another Jean/Sue muddle, I did manage nearly an hour on my last 2 route calls and some return visits. And that included a long talk that has left me with two Biblical questions to answer, which I hope to do today.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Past my best...

... and probably past my sell-by date (under the Threescore Years and Ten rule). Oh dear.  After this latest flare-up - 2 days of paralysis and pain - well, actually more like a day and a half, I feel exhausted- so tired it hurts - and on top of that I feel as if I have a bad cold coming on.

Captain B and I are both taking First Defence in an attempt to fend it off.  We both have a busy weekend coming up.

We are out at Butterfly Dan's tonight, and to Jack's for supper tomorrow.  Then I have to pick up Jean at 9 o clock tomorrow morning and take her to the Hall. We start offering the Invitations to the Memorial door to door tomorrow.   Hopefully you will be offered one.  Please please accept and come.   It is the most important day of the year.  

They are putting on a lunch for us at the Hall after the field service, as it is the live Broadcast from the Governing Body Saturday afternoon.  I will take Jean home afterwards, and collapse, thankful that Jackie will be cooking us a lovely supper.

No meeting on Sunday, but Jean and I hope to get to the special 10. a.m Field Service Group at the Hall, to continue with the Memorial invites.

So I do need to keep healthy.

Have been in a discussion with my young publisher and his editorial team about a new title for "Small Island".  It is the perfect title, but sadly it has taken me so long to write the book, and get it accepted for publication, that there has been a best seller with that title since.  We were wondering about "Island" or "The Island", but suddenly in the early hours a quirky and totally different title came to me.

I put it to Dan tentatively, and he liked it!

So here we go. I will say more when I have a publication date.  And I will try to give it a good review this time.   Col said, of my previous blog, about editing it, that this must be the first time an author has given their own book a bad review...  really I was just wondering if other authors felt the same?   Does everyone have these terrible misgivings?

Monday, 13 March 2017

An Arthritis Flare up

It started in the early hours and now i am back on my zimmer frame, moving very slowly and very painfully.  Left leg this time.  Oh dear...   I had to cancel my Dentist appointment this morning -and they will be completely within their rights to make a late cancellation charge.

All my joints ached yesterday, but I put it down to the weather and to tiredness.   I really have to pace myself these days, in quite a pathetic sort of way. And I often think of my mother and my granny, and what they went through, as they too were custodians of the Family arthritis gene.

Thank Goodness I have got all but 4 of my route calls done - and one of those I always have to post anyway. Maybe I can do that today, along with a card to Peggy's family.  That will be little bit of witnessing anyway.  And Captain B will kindly post them.  He may not be a JW, but he approves of the moral standards.

Having the knowledge of the Kingdom of God is a privilege that must be shared.

Jackie came to us for supper on Saturday night, and, as I knew i would have a busy day, I Cooked it, rather than cooked it.  We had a Cook's Beef Bourguinon, which was excellent. Its not something I have ever cooked, and it wouldn't be nearly as good as that one if I did.   We had new potatoes, carrots and leeks with it - all cooked by my own fair hand.  And Captain Butterfly made a big bowl of fresh fruit salad which we had with ice-cream.

Saturday morning, I picked up Jean, but, yet again, managed to forget to bring our shared brain cell along, as we ended up knocking hopefully (and hopelessly) at the wrong door.  The group was meeting somewhere else.  Anyway, we both had calls to do, locally, and ended up having a good morning.  We went home for a quick lunch and I picker her up again, and we went to the Broadcast at the Hall.

It was very much  about the young brothers and sisters this month, trying to keep them steady in the face of the attractions and distractions of "the world".

Friday, 10 March 2017

Will the Proof be in the Pudding?

On Wednesday Jean and I managed to get ourselves together and met up efficiently and visited Maggie.  We got a very warm welcome, as we always do.

 The morning was taken up with shopping and cooking - Captain B navigated us to Waitrose - and I made a cheese, potato and tomato casserole from my Mexican Veggie Cookery book.   We had it for supper and it was very nice.  Well, I liked it.  Not too sure if it is the Captain's sort of thing,

And my dive thriller has come back to me - for proof reading.   I did it yesterday, but it's not as exciting as I hoped, but worrying, as I found myself wanting to cut and re-write. And yet I can't tell you how many times I have cut and re-written. Whole chapters have gone, including the first chapter, which I loved, but which just did not fit.  I first wrote it many years ago.  It was even taken by a big London agent at one time - also many years ago.  But then she changed her mind, saying it did not fit the extant publishing categories.

But sitting over it yet again is difficult.  How do authors deal with this moment I wonder.    The ending does seem absolutely right.  And I think I am now happy with the beginning.  Its the large bit in the middle that worries me.

Its Friday morning and the proof reading is now done - and I feel more strongly then ever that I should start again, and cut and cut and cut until I just have a long short story.  It all seems like padding now.

The Butterfly paperwork has also arrived, along with a Brimstone butterfly that Col and Mark saw yesterday when they were doing the fungi rounds. So that, plus doing my study for the Sunday meeting, will take care of today.

I did manage a little witnessing yesterday - and had one lovely talk at the doors.  I also found that I had got a wrong number for one of my return visits...  However, the young man who answered the door took a magazine, the one about the precious gift of the ransom, and I can call back with an invitation to the Memorial. So I can only hope it was a productive mistake.

And here is a lovely experience from the meeting at the Hall last night:

JESUS declared: “Things impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) Many of us have experienced the truth of that statement. Despite all the efforts of those who want to stop the preaching work, Jehovah has helped us to carry it out.

Zacharie Elegbe (aged 66, baptized in 1963) recalls how a ban against the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Benin actually helped the brothers: “In 1976, when we had 2,300 publishers, our work was banned and the government ordered the ban to be broadcast in every local language. That was unheard of. Though Benin’s population speaks more than 60 languages, radio programs back then were usually broadcast in only five. So when the ban was broadcast in all local languages, many thousands of people living in remote areas heard of us for the very first time. They wondered, ‘Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why are they banned?’ Later, when we reached those areas, many accepted the truth in short order.” Today, there are more than 11,500 Witnesses in Benin.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Just the One Brain Cell Between Us

Jean's and my brain cell must have slept in this morning as we got in a real muddle, with me frantically phoning Jean and not finding her - and getting very worried that she might have fallen. However, we somehow managed to meet up at the Field Service Group and had a good morning on the doors.  We did an hour and a half - finishing our territory, and doing some calls on the way back to Jean's.

The afternoon was pretty much taken up making a big carrot cake, as I realised this morning that I was down to the last piece of cake in the freezer.    

Captain Butterfly was off with Mark, they are still following the fungi hordes, but any day now the butterfly season should start.  Which will require more cake.

I am still very tired from Monday morning, when Col got a SUSSAR call out in the early hours:

It was an urgent one, and quite a long way away, so off he went. And I was frantically making up sandwiches and a flask of tea at about 4.30 a.m. - and feeling so relieved that I shopped yesterday on my way back from the meeting.

The congregations worldwide are just starting on a study of the Book of Jeremiah. And we will be watching this short video:

These little intros are a real help.

Jean and I hope to visit Maggie tomorrow, if we can manage to get ourselves sorted.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Shredder of Time

We got our new Paper Shredder the other day, and the melancholy thought comes to me that I ought to devote 5 minutes of every day to shredding.  I have an enormous box of old letters and cards, going back to my childhood, and a filing cabinet full of stuff. And loads of manuscripts...

When mummy died, we found that somehow, even though she could barely move, she had quietly sorted through everything.  She lived in one room plus bathroom at Lilac Tree Farm then - and had a large old bureau - walnut I think.  Every bit of paper in it was current, sorted and labelled. She had made it as easy for us as she could.

And now that I am in the death zone - under the threescore years and ten rule - then I ought to start doing the same.

But, as I said, a melancholy business.

On a much more cheerful note, Jean and I got to the Field Service group on Saturday, and had a good morning out.  We did half return visits and half first calls. And had some good conversations.  Then, in the afternoon, I visited Sue, and spent well over an hour with her.  I want to try to convince her to start a formal study with us.

Then we went to Jacks for supper last night. She had made us chicken and rice with broccoli, followed by tiramisu, and a cheese board.  Lovely evening, lots of laughs at the plights of our old age.

Friday, 3 March 2017

In the Dark Ages

Scarlet Elf Cups, Sarcoscypha coccinea
I was trying to think of a blogpost that would warrant one of the Captain's wonderful photos of some dazzling scarlet fungi he and Mark found.
Scarlet Elf Cups
It was a very busy Thursday for me, as I am now.  Yet again, I drove to Angmering, to return to talk to a very nice young man who is the deacon - I think he said deacon - of one of the local churches.   He was very interested in what we said about the ransom sacrifice last time, and said we could call back. So we did.  And found him in.

We had half an hour's talk.  He was saying that he believes there are only minor differences within Christendom - and that basically Catholic and Protestant Churches are in agreement.    I thought,  but did not say, that within living memory, Catholics and Protestants have killed each other over these differences.    I did mention though that many years ago,  I was a Catholic Convent schoolgirl - back in the Dark Ages.  He laughed at that, and said he was not going to mention my age. (Clearly he was not wanting a black eye.)

But what a long time ago it does seem - though I do try to think as little about my schooldays as possible.  Not happy memories.

We can call back, with an invite to The Memorial. And I must pray and ask Jehovah how we should proceed with this.

Then in the afternoon I went out with a young pioneer sister. Thursday evening was the meeting at the Kingdom Hall.  I was walking up the drive - it was dark, with the little light shining ahead of me. And I had a sudden feeling of joy, thinking about walking to meetings when the earth is Paradise again - how lovely all will be. How peaceful. And how we will look forward to hearing all the new things Jehovah has to teach us.

The Captain was out all day with his sandwiches, and three pieces of cake, as he was meeting both Mark and Mark's dad.

Jean and I went to the Field Service group on Tuesday, but we did calls - trying to catch up a bit, as Jean has done so much first call work over the last year.  We do try to follow up on every call, but its not easy. And I certainly have failures.  Sometimes its that you can never find people at home again, sometimes its that I never do get back...

And we hope to be out again tomorrow morning - on first call work, weather permitting.  And I have a call to make in the afternoon, on a very nice lady who I called on last year with the Memorial invite.

Its grey and rainy this morning, and if it goes on like this, the Captain will be prowling and growling around as he likes his outings.  Whereas I am a homebody - and love being at home.  For one thing, its the only place that is really comfortable for me now.