Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Butterfly of the Baskervilles

I am now kicking myself that I did not make a butterfly the hero of my upcoming Dive Thriller, "Waiting for Gordo". It has an insect protagonist, who plays an important role, but its a very unglamorous insect indeed.   However it did come to my rescue many years ago, at a very tricky moment.

We belong to Butterfly Conservation now - and maybe I would have had a whole market ready and waiting for me if I had transformed my gallant rescuer into a Butterfly.  A Purple Emperor perhaps? They are fierce little creatures, who have been seen chasing birds away from their treetop.

The insect that came to my rescue has no Conservation Societies devoted to it. Rather the reverse in fact.

To write "Small Island" as it was originally called, I borrowed an Agatha Christie plot, "And then there were None", and put my divers on an island, where, one by one, they begin to disappear.

So I am wondering, if I am to write a follow up, is there another plot I could borrow - and put a Butterfly in it?

The Butterfly of the Baskervilles will be a fearsome creature that glows in the dark and makes a dead set at the new incumbent of Baskerville Hall - now Baskerville Hall Hotel   Given what Purple Emperors feed on, it will make quite a good match with the Giant Glowing Hound it will be sharing Grimpen Mire with.

We were out on the field service this morning - four of us - and had coffee at Waitrose afterwards. We had a good morning, though did not find many in. It was such a beautiful day - blues skies, mountainous fluffy white clouds, and a feeling of Autumn in the air.

I visited Maggie yesterday, in the rain.  And came back to find that Captain Butterfly had been called away on a search for a missing despondent.  Sadly they were not able to find him in time.

The world system we live in is such a sad one.  We need the coming rescue - the Kingdom of God - so badly.

The dead will not be forgotten then.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Chemical Fog on the Channel

Queen of Spain Fritillary ♂, Issoria lathonia
Just after I posted yesterday's blog, Captain B came rushing through to tell me about this:

So there was kind of chemical smog on The Channel that morning...  but why and where it came from I do not know.

Yesterday was a sunny Bank Holiday - so very busy on the Coast   The crowds included Captain Butterfly who went rushing off in the direction of the chemical Cloud because a Queen of Spain Fritillary had been seen in that direction.

I expect he would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel if a rare butterfly had been seen at the bottom - and he could guarantee to keep his cameras dry.

All have survived - people hit by the Cloud, the butterfly (see the photo), and, thank God. Captain Butterfly himself.  He was back with photos of the beautiful Beast, but we have to acknowledge that Neil has got the best one so far.  The Butterfliers were out in force apparently, pushing aside chemical Clouds, Blobs from Outer Space, and alien Spaceships to get to their lovely target.
Queen of Spain Fritillary ♂
And how good it is that they no longer net them and pin them to boards, but take photographs instead - of butterflies that is, not Alien Blobs (they have no interest in such things).

I had a quiet day at home - housework, study, dozing in front of the telly, being dazed when Captain B's return woke me up, and getting supper - bacon, eggs and things.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Fog in The Channel

Shocking pictures of Houston this morning, all horribly reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina - people stranded on rooftops in a world that has turned into a sea.  Was no evacuation organised?  Or did people just not want to leave their homes (which I can understand)?

How is a rescue being organised?  I was thinking of Dunkirk, which my mother told me about, when a government call went out for everyone with a boat, no matter how small, to set off for the coast of France and rescue as many of the trapped British soldiers as they could.   And a brave little flotilla of small boats set off and did rescue many.  I think one of my great uncles may have been involved. He did sail, and certainly had a boat, or boats, off and on.  But he also wrote children's books, and one was called "Fog in the Channel", so I might be confusing fact with fiction there.

 "Fog in the Channel, by Percy Woodcock (Nelson, 7/6) relates stirring adventures by sea, beginning with a collision in the fog when two schoolboys board a mysterious vessel supposed to be on secret service."

I can only hope plenty of rescuers are on their way. But what a mess we are all in.  And how much we need the Kingdom of God.

The account of Jesus calming the dangerous storm on the sea of Galilee has been preserved for us to this day, in the most widely distributed book in the world. Doesn't it show us what he can and will do when he is ruling over the earth, as the King of Jehovah's Kingdom?

All of nature will return to the beautiful harmony it had in Eden, before our first parents disobeyed, and when they had nothing to fear.

Just three of us for Waitrose coffee yesterday afternoon, one of them a Bible student who comes every week to the Sunday meeting, and sits there just drinking it in.  Drinking in the teaching first, the coffee later.

The talk was about the march of the world powers, as set out in Daniel, and we talked a bit about that. Then I rushed back thinking Linda of Arabia was on her way over.  However, she has had a change of plan and will now be coming today - or possibly some time this week. I am wondering if she has something she wants to talk over with Captain Butterfly, only I warned her he would not be in yesterday.

He taught her to dive many years ago, and she often likes to talk things over with him.

He was out treasure hunting.  But found no Viking hoards, or hoards of any description. Apart from the Ring Pull hoards of course.   That Ringpull tribe certainly got through a lot of fizzy drink.

I had quite a busy week. Jean and I were out on Tuesday - had a good morning and have return visits to make next month.   We went to our regular return visit - well its almost a doorstep study now - in Angmering; and I was out with the group on Saturday morning, working quite close to home.  It was a beautiful morning, but very hot and humid.  Jean and I also visited Maggie - our usual Wednesday afternoon, and got our usual warm welcome. She had even registered that we were a bit late.

I am now on Statins - both of us are.  Along with my bp meds.  Doctor M warned me that the Statins can cause joint pains. Oh, I said, my joints hurt all the time nowadays so I don't suppose I will notice.

That has turned out to be a foolish remark.   ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch

There is no fog on The Channel today.  Not even a sea fret.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Egg and I

The week reverses in retirement.  Most of my life I have dreaded Monday morning, as it meant either back to school or back to work.   But now, my weekend is a busy time, and I try to keep Monday quiet. Its nice not to have to rush off anywhere.

Not that my weekend was that busy exactly, but everything tires me now.  Jean and I did our calls on Saturday morning.  There was hardly anybody at the group as the families are on holiday.   Sunday I went to the meeting in the morning. We had a reversal of the usual order - Watchtower study first, Public talk second - as our speaker was first delayed and then couldn't make it in time. So one of our local brothers took over and he did a brilliant job.  The talk he gave was about our place within Jehovah's organisation. And he used an egg and an eggbox as a rather vivid illustration.

He pointed out that the eggs in the egg box are kept in an upright position - the reason being that this makes them able to take a lot of pressure.  He demonstrated by squeezing the egg between his hands (in eggbox position) VERY STRONGLY.  It made me quite nervous for our Kingdom Hall carpet, as he was squeezing the egg so hard, and I learnt my physics in The Laboratory Where the Laws of Physics were Suspended.

Our teacher, Mrs F, would say. "Now girls for a practical demonstration of the laws of physics, I shall drop this apple and we shall see how it falls to the...Oh...(we watch as apple floats to lab ceiling).. well, write in your exercise books that it fell to the floor."   (I was utterly useless at physics and probably can't blame the lab - all I can remember about it is that iron filings do something, if you do something to them.)

However all was sane and sensible at the Kingdom Hall and the gallant egg withstood the pressure.Then the Speaker put it in a jiffy bag, carefully sealed, put it on its side and crushed it with a little light pressure from his hand.

The lesson is obvious.  If we stick close to Jehovah, if we stay where he asks us to be, we will be able to resist all the pressure the world puts on us.  If we don't, we are so vulnerable.

Simple, but true. Where would I be without this constant, clear and gentle teaching?

Thanks to Betty Macdonald, whose book title I borrowed for my blog. Its well worth a read - fascinating and very funny.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Captain Cooks!

What did i do yesterday?   ... made another batch of cakes for the freezer - for the packed lunches - and dead-headed the balcony flowers.  I found it depressingly difficult to do the deadheading owing to being so crippled in my left arm.   Jean and I got to see Maggie in the afternoon and got 2 weeks worth of a warm and loving welcome.   The Captain and I shopped this morning - Waitrose  - and I was out on the field service with one of the young pioneers this afternoon.  She is just back from a week's Pioneer Training Course and is really built up.

And the Captain will have his chef's hat on tonight as he cooks us a steak supper.  He does not trust me to cook steak (rightly so too, I like my meat very very well done - not a cheffy well done, but a proper well done.)  I am his sous-cook though and have laid the table and prepared and cut up the onions, mushrooms and tomatoes which will accompany the steak

And we have a bowl of fresh cherries for afters.  Waitrose have beautiful cherries in at the moment and I am doing some intensive research into whether or not it is possible to die of cherry poisoning.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Another Lovely Review of "Till they Dropped"

"Fantasy? Science Fiction? Magical Realism? This book is all of these. But it’s a thoughtful, imaginative, and ultimately terrifying cross genre piece that stirs both emotions and ideas.
We’re plunged into an undefined land, except that it must be the so-called civilised world, in an undeclared time, which must be the future. What is clear quite quickly is the sense of threat, unreality, turmoil and confusion. This is a nightmare place with few answers to the many questions posed.
We follow the progress, if progress it can rightly be called, of the young woman trapped in this consumerist empire ruled by autonomous machines and AI. The suggestion is that society’s overbearing urge to consume, buy, and own, has been usurped by the serving machines and AI, which have initially enabled this pointless activity, then encouraged it. Without the moral restraints of humanity, the machines, guided by AI, decide that consumers may be fair game for consumption.
This world is depicted with great imagination and superb imagery. The relentless attempt to escape the banal but murderous entity that shopping has become is described with brief flashbacks that explain how this all came about.
A nightmare, brought to life, and populated by the innocents left in this world by previous generations of unthinking, greedy, selfish consumers. Beware!"

I found this review of Till by the author Stuart Aken on my Amazon site. Such a wonderful surprise, and thank you so much Stuart.  I have had some lovely thoughtful reviews and I appreciate every one of them.

Jean and I were out this morning on the work - in a lovely Close, and we had some good conversations and returned home tired but happy. it is a beautiful August day - blue skies and fluffy clouds. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

A Camberwell Beauty

A Camberwell Beauty has been seen at Burgess Hill!

So now I want to post this poem Kingsley Amis wrote to his first wife.

Instead of an Epilogue
To H
In 1932 when I was ten
In my grandmother’s garden in Camberwell
I saw a Camberwell Beauty butterfly
Sitting on a clump of Michaelmas daisies.
I recognised it because I’d seen a picture
Showing its brownish wings with creamy edges
In a boy’s paper or on a cigarette-card
Earlier that week. And I remember thinking,
What else would you expect? Everyone knows
Camberwell Beauties come from Camberwell;
That’s why they’re called that. Yes, I was ten.
In 1940 when I was eighteen
In Marlborough, going out one winter’s morning
To walk to school, I saw that every twig,
Every leaf in the vicar’s privet hedge
And every stalk and stem was covered in
A thin layer of ice as clear as glass
Because the rain had frozen as it landed.
The sun shone and the trees and shrubs shone back
Like pale flames with orange and green sparkles.
Freak weather conditions, people said,
And one was always hearing about them.
In ’46 when I was twenty-four
I met someone harmless, someone defenceless,
But till then whole, unadapted within;
Awkward, gentle, healthy, straight-backed,
Who spoke to say something, laughed when amused;
If things went wrong, feared she might be at fault,
Whose eye I could have met for ever then,
Oh yes, and who was also beautiful.
Well, that was much as women were meant to be,
I thought, and set about looking further.
How can we tell, with nothing to compare?

Jean and I were out on the work on Saturday and we attempted to go to the Broadcast at the Hall, but something had gone wrong with the arrangements so it wasn't on.  We think most people were at the wedding on Saturday, including our keyholder and projectionist. And I drove to Angmering yet again - on Thursday - with Jennifer - our householder wants to see us again Thursday week. 
Today we went out for coffee after the meeting, and I ran Jean and Ann Marie back home afterwards. Jacks came for a fish and chip supper on Saturday night - she treated us - and lasted till 8 o'clock. So she is feeling a little better, thank God.   
We have been watching the Athletics, saying farewell to Mo Farrar and Usain Bolt.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Peach Blossom Moth

Peach Blossom, Thyatira batis
Our beautiful visitor last night was a Peach Blossom moth.  It had parked itself happily under our balcony light and posed nicely for Captain B.
Peach Blossom
I think I have blogged before about the beautiful names of moths.

Yesterday we took Jacks for a Waitrose shop and brought back coffees and had them together.  Today, health and weather permitting, Jean and I will be off on the field service.

My main preoccupation the last few days has been my own health. How right the Bible is about "three score years and ten".  How right it is about everything, thank God, or what would I have to look forward to, what hope would I have?

I now have extra meds to take and am glumly awaiting the call from my GP about my repeat blood test, which I am sure will not have been good.

Apart from shopping and providing a roast chicken dinner, yesterday was a day of little accomplished.  I didn't even start my studying for the week. I think I just slept and slept, exhausted by one shopping trip and one cooking session.

I have been re-reading Joyce Maynard's "At Home in the World".   Now that would be something to blog about, but I think it would be a very depressing blog. Its a sad story she has to tell.

But then aren't most people's lives sad, seen in retrospect?   How can we be truly happy cut off from our Creator, Jehovah?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberry, Fragaria vesca
This pic that Captain Butterfly bought home on Friday - from Cissbury Ring - gave me a blog title. But I now have to find the blog to go with it.

I feel a bit like Beachcomber with his stunning tabloid headline:


Underneath it read: "The story to fit this sensational headline has not turned up yet."

The story to fit this lovely photo has not turned up yet, but maybe it will.   Though probably not this morning as I am just off to pick up Jean for the Field Service   - our group is joining the Kingdom Hall group this Saturday.  Its sunny, so Captain B is off to do his transect.  His sandwiches are all ready in the fridge.

In fact - and here is the thrilling part of the blog - they are yesterday's sandwiches - because HE FORGOT TO TAKE THEM.  (Don't try this at home.)

Before he left yesterday,  I did my usual checklist.  Have you got:
1  Your lunch?
2. Your phone?
3  Is it on Bluetooth (it took me a long time to stop saying Blackberry)?
4. Your money?
5. Your keys?

He answered "yes" to every one, but, after he had left, I found the box of cake and sandwiches sitting beside the fridge. It had been removed from the fridge, but not made it to the rucksack.

So I was worrying away about it - picturing his skeletal form being found in the Downs, his arm reaching desperately towards the last strawberry of summer...   but he rang during my Skype chat with Anne of the Cape, to tell me he had bought a pasty from a cafe.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Taking Latte with Miss Jackie

We shopped for ourselves and Jacks this morning and took some lovely Waitrose coffees to Jackie's and stayed for coffee and a chat.   And I watched this little video about my Northern hometown - a tramride through time.

If I did not already know what the Inspired Scriptures say, wouldn't I be looking now - trying to find the meaning in it all?  And how do you cope if you don't know?

The streets were so empty back then - I was also watching a tramride through Sheffield in the 60s - when I was a young teenager.     When I was out with Jean on the field service yesterday we were both talking about the traffic which, even in our sleepy little seaside town, seems worse than ever.

The rain the forecast promised for this morning has arrived on time, just before lunch.  I wonder if Jean will cancel our visit to Maggie, as it will involve getting very wet.

I know I have put this poem in my blog before, but its so wonderful, plus I have been re-reading "Young Thomas Hardy" by Robert Gittings.  And of course thinking of the old Sheffield makes me think of my young parents, as they were then. And going back further to when my mother was herself a young teenager during the war, and she and her school were evacuated to St.Leonards-on-Sea, just down the coast from us.

So, I give you:

by Thomas Hardy

I reach the marble-streeted town.
Whose "Sound" outbreathes its air
of sharp sea salts;
I see the movement up and down
As when she was there.
Ships of all countries come and go,
Bandsmen boom in the sun
A throbbing waltz;
The schoolgirls laugh along the Hoe
As when she was one.

I move away as the music rolls:
The place seems not to mind
That she - of old
The brightest of its native souls -
Left it behind!
Over this green aforedays she
On light treads went and came
Yea, times untold;
Yet none here knows her history -
Has heard her name.