Wednesday, 30 November 2022

A Medical Week

I distinguished myself this week by making a rhubarb crumble, but putting salt into the crumble instead of sugar... I hope this is not the beginning of the end, dementia wise. Mind you it was not me who put a bag of salt in the sugar cupboard.

I often use raw brown sugar in my crumbles and it would have been fine it I had only done so this time.

Col had his eye test yesterday, and I have my next Covid vax today, which I lay awake worrying about. Will my poor battered immune system, which can't even shake off this ongoing cold, be up to it?  

I also have my physio tomorrow, but that at least is local and does not require half the day to get there and back. We had planned to do a bit of shopping in Chi after the Tuesday trip, but were so tired out by all the hospital procedures, all involving a long wait, that we didn't feel equal to it. We would have landed ourselves in the rush hour anyway.

I enjoyed the drive though - with notes of Autumn colours gleaming in the greyness. Who could get tired of living on the earth, even now when it is so far from the paradise it was meant to be, and will be?  

I am in the bonus years - under the Threescore Year and Ten rule. We both are.  We do not have many Autumns left. So once again, I hope and pray that Col and I (and all of us) have unnumbered Autumns ahead of us, in the restored earthly paradise - with absolutely no medical appointments needed - ever! 

And here is a great poem to say goodbye to another November. I first came across it in The New Oxford Anthology of English Verse, edited by Helen Gardner, and I found it online, on the website:

I really like the half rhyme it begins with, between willow and yellow.

SONG by Richard Watson Dixon

The feathers of the willow
Are half of them grown yellow
Above the swelling stream; And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes,
And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
His head is white as snow; The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
The robin pipeth now.

The photo that heads this blog is of Conifer Tufts, and was, of course, taken by Captain Moth-Butterfly.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

A Sad Anniversary

It is now the third anniversary of Ken's death and Nute was saying that it has not got any easier.  She has done all the right things - she went back to work, when they asked her if she would;  she is working on her next book; and she is a busy mother and grandmother.

But the loss remains. And in spite of being so busy, she feels she has just been marking time ever since.

Above is a photo of their wedding day, and of one of Ken's lovely pots - I especially like the colour of this one.

I took my first tentative steps towards getting back to the door to door preaching work on Saturday.  I got into my normal shoes and drove myself to the group.  I did not go out with them, but it was lovely to re-connect with my siblings, and, all being well, it means I will now be able to drive myself to the meeting today, and get myself out on the door to door preaching work in the week.

I find it very difficult, as I am not one to talk to people at the best of time, plus I am a very nervous driver.  But I remain grateful to this day that two Jehovah's Witnesses took the trouble to call at my door in Sheffield all those years ago.  And it is so urgent.  I do not have a lot of time left, and neither does the current system of things on the earth.

Other than that and my exercises, Saturday was a bit of a cooking day, as I made a wokful of bean and veggie chile, and stewed some apples for Captain B to have (with custard) for his weekend puddings.

This is a Wendy Cope poem that really strikes home now that Col and me are so old:

On a Train

by Wendy Cope

The book I've been reading
rests on my knee. You sleep

It's beautiful out there -
fields, little lakes and winter trees
in February sunlight,
every car park a shining mosaic.

Long, radiant minutes,
your hand in my hand,
still warm, still warm.

So I have to add some more words - another poem - a powerful and perfect promise from our Creator, Jehovah, who cannot and does not lie:

"Your dead will live.
  My corpses will rise up.
  Awake and shout joyfully,
  You residents in the dust!
  For your dew is as the dew of the morning,
  And the earth will let those powerless in death come to life."
- Isaiah 26:19

Your dead will live.  Jehovah can remember them and wake them from the dreamless sleep of death, so my hope is that Nute is marking time, busily and productively, until the moment comes when Ken wakes up again.

He loved and appreciated the gift of life - and family and friendship and the endless possibilities of creativity. So he would love being in the paradise earth with the possibility of endless life ahead of him.

I hope we will all be there.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Watching Paint Dry

This is a Scarlet Swallowtail, taken by Captain Moth-Butterfly. If you read through the blog, you will see why I have chosen it. The clue is in the world "scarlet".

It's the year for the World Cup, which has now started. And it seems that all teams have turned up at the very controversial venue.

Anyway, Captain Moth-Butterfly will be happily watching paint dry until - well, for about a month I think. England won on Monday. That is all I can say about it so far. Oh and so did Saudi Arabia, against the odds.
I try to remember to shout "Get your specs on Ref!" occasionally, just to show willing.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have been watching a show called "Tipping Point" - a quiz show that is totally banal and that I really enjoy. The Presenter is very likeable, and the Contestants are all lovely to each other.

Recently one of the contestants was asked this: "What is the name of the novel that begins:"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful but..."

After much thought, the contestant decided that, as he had no idea, he would pass the question on to his opponent. After more thought, she decided it must be "Wuthering Heights".

And I must say that the thought of Scarlett O'Hara turning up in Wuthering Heights is an interesting one. For one thing, would Cathy have had a chance with Heathcliffe once Miss Scarlett had turned up?

Captain M-B - still down with a bad cough - had a funny turn on Monday night. He suddenly became so cold he was shivering. And while it was getting colder, it wasn't that cold. We live in a second floor flat, surrounded and insulated by other flats. We turned the heating on, he got a quilted thing to huddle under as he watched the current Paint Drying match, and I got him a hot water bottle. He was fine in a couple of hours, but it was odd.

We are not young any more. And yet, in our seventies, we have only had a short time on this lovely planet, and only the briefest of glimpses into the astounding universe in which we float.

Poets have lamented the shortness of our lives down the centuries. Don't we know that this is not right, that we were not meant to die?

In "In Memoriam", Tennyson, speaking to his Creator, says:

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

We think we are not made to die.  And, according to the Bible, we are right to think that.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says. of our Creator: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has even put eternity in their heart; yet mankind will never find out the work that the true God has made from start to finish."

Yes, according to the Bible, we were originally made to live forever, in happiness, not to get old, wither and die. And wonderfully, if we do accept the rescue Jehovah is offering to us and live forever, we will never stop learning about our Creator and his amazing, splendid creation.

Monday, 21 November 2022

My SmartPhone and Me

The problem with my Smartphone is that it is much smarter than I am.  And Col left me with a fearsome job to do on Saturday, as I had to supervise and photograph the return of a parcel.  The slippers I had ordered, hoping to find something I could wear on my feet without making them worse, were the wrong size.  In fairness, they did not send me the wrong size, I had ordered the wrong size - my usual one.  I know my feet are always a bit swollen these days, but I had thought because they were slippers it would be OK.

It wasn't. So Captain M-B, a very neat parcel maker, got them all parcelled up to return and I was under strict instructions that when the Postlady came to pick them up, I was to check that the address label she had was the right one, and also take a photo of her with parcel as proof of our having returned it.

I did my best but am wondering if all I got after much clicking was a selfie of me looking especially puzzled and gormless.  I daren't look. I will find out when Himself returns from The Field.

The Imaginary Cats continue to rule the roost at the bungalow. Here is their latest fb post:

Abra, Imaginary Cat mark 1, decided to revisit her kittenhood at approximately 3 this morning. I was woken up by an e-type cat racing round the bed, opened my eyes to see mad yellow ones looking back at me, ducked under the covers as she pounced, then she leapt off the bed and landed on Tabs (Imaginary Cat mark 2) who was minding her own business in the cat basket. Robust feline exchange of views was followed by a sort of diminuendo effect as they both shot down the corridor, followed by the clatter of the cat flap and blessed silence. Feeling a bit jaded this morning.

When I think about the Imaginary cats, I do wonder about their Person, Janet. She took in so many rescue cats during her life. The Imaginaries are her last two rescues, who Nute promised she would take in if no other home could be found.

And while very shy, they settled in at the bungalow with Nute straight away, so to the extent that Janet could be happy with anything, she would be happy with this.

She was of the "Everything should be perfect, why isn't it?" school of thought. And it is a completely valid question. Everything should have been perfect. And now it isn't.

If Janet sleeps safe in Jehovah's memory, every hair of her head numbered, she will wake up one day and learn the answer to that question. Everything will be perfect then. And I hope she will meet her cats again. Though that is all in Jehovah's hands, which is where it safely belongs.

The photo that heads this blog? Well, it was taken while I struggled to get a photo of the parcel and the postlady. It turns out I had managed to get one of parcel plus official return label, including our cheerful postlady's hands and scanning device. But I also had this one - of our Maldives doormat! My feet ought to be in it, but they don't seem to appear. It might not win any prizes in photographic competitions, but never mind. I am rather pleased with it.

I bought that mat from the Bandos Island gift shop many years ago - in our expat years, when Captain Moth-Butterfly was the Sheik of Araby - and we used to go to the Maldives every year with a shoal of Aramco divers. I dedicated my novel "Waiting for Gordo" to the Aramco Shoal. So it is a mat of many memories.

Friday, 18 November 2022

Ms Bean arrives on the Platform

Poor Col is still coughing and coughing, but not quite as badly... we had a better night. The sun is shining today but it seems the North may be getting the torrential rain - I read of flood warnings for Scotland in the online news this morning.

I got back to the Kingdom Hall last night - helped by my chauffeur Captain M-B, who drove me to the door. My heel is still not capable of much in the walking line, but at least it let me wear proper shoes.

My part is below. It was a 4-minuter, first return visit, and I was working on: Scripture Application made Clear. I am a clumsy person at the best of times and when you add arthritic hands... and I had to juggle: a Bible, a Brochure, a Card, and a Script. It could have ended up like an episode of Mr.Bean. Mercifully, it didn't. Not quite. So my prayers must have been heard.

Pen attended, in Pixel form.

This was my script:

Sue: Hello HH, I am glad to find you at home.  I was hoping to catch you before you moved. But I guess you are very busy with packing and everything, so can you spare me 5 minutes this morning?

HH:  Oh hi Sue. No - that’s OK.   In fact I have been thinking about what you told me last week, about the idea of peace on earth. Because things are going in the opposite way as far as I can see - and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it.

Sue: Well, if it is up to us to sort out our problems, I’m afraid I would have no hope to give you.   But if you remember I said last week that I would call back and show you a wonderful promise from our Creator, who assures us that he has not abandoned us to this. I bought this brochure to show you. It is an introduction to an interactive Bible Course and is called “Enjoy Life Forever!”  I wanted to show you this from the chapter entitled “The Bible brings hope” - as hope is what we need.   Under this question: “What kind of future does the Bible describe?, it quotes these verses from Revelation 21.  Could I ask if you would read them for us, out loud, really thinking about what they are promising us is going to happen here on the earth.

HH: Ok. Reads Revelation 21:3.4: With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. 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.”

Sue. Thanks HH. You read that beautifully.  Do you see that God will wipe out every tear from our eyes?  So what are those words telling us?

HH:  They are saying that there will be nothing to make us sad any more, no more suffering, no more stress, no more pain.

Sue. Exactly. Every tear.  Everything that makes us unhappy now will be gone, for good.  There will be no more sickness, old age and death, What do you think about that promise?

HH:  Of course, I would love it to be true. Who wouldn’t?  But how can I believe it?

Sue. Yes, it can certainly sound too good to be true, given what is happening in the world.  You really need to study the Bible to be able to put faith in everything it promises.  That is why this brochure has been published, to help people understand what the Bible says and why we can trust it.  For example, when we can see how many of Jehovah’s promises have already been fulfilled, it gives us real confidence in what he promises us will happen next.  We offer a free home Bible Course to all who want one.

HH:  The problem is we are just moving  to the other end of the country.  Otherwise I would ask you to call back and we could talk some more about this.  It is fascinating, 

Sue:  Yes, I know you are in the midst of a move and you will have so much to do. It is yet another stressful thing.  I hope it will go really well for you - you are moving to such a lovely part of the country, and that new job you have sounds great.  But please don’t forget what we have talked about. Please think seriously about it.  And we have an excellent website,, and you can find this publication, and have a look at it. You can watch the short videos that are part of it, which really do help.  Would you consider doing that?

HH:  I will, yes. But let me just find a pen and write the website down. 

Sue:  No, you don’t need to bother doing that. I have a card here with all the details. And I have written my email address on the back.  If you have any questions, I would be happy to help.

HH: Thanks.  I will do that. And I will find the time to look at that site.

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

All is Vanity (and Coughing)

Poor Col spent most of last night coughing, and getting up to take more cough medicine. And he has been coughing all day.  Still, he is determined to go metal detecting on Thursday. They are all spaced out in a large field - or several large fields - so he won't pass it on to anyone. And he is not giving or taking lifts for the duration.

And our Covid tests have come up Negative.

My cold persists, but is now a full on cold more than a cough, and was greatly helped by a mug of lemsip this morning.

I have been re-reading the biography of Jean Rhys: I used to live here once by Miranda Seymour. Interesting, and very pro Jean, who was a great writer, a stunning writer, every word alive on the page, but who could be a difficult person, full of bitterness and anger - and also a person of great charm according to many who knew her.

She was certainly lovely to look at, even in her old age, and let me say again - Could she write! She, Lewis Carroll, George Orwell, Shirley Jackson and Agatha Christie are great inspirations for me. If only I could produce a book that was a perfect blend of all of them... but my Muse seems to be in retirement at the moment. And I think that would stretch any Muse anyway.

If you went by Jean's fiction you would have thought she was neglected and abandoned all her life, yet if you look at the bios you will see she was always cared for a succession of people - often devoted men, including of course her three husbands.  Her charm, her talent and her fragility seemed to draw help to her when she needed it, which she often did.

Her life was no picnic.

We are living in a tragedy and have been since the loss of Eden, and it is all futile in the end unless... but I will return to that "unless" at the end of the blog.

Anyway, the bio has inspired this blog as Jean's anger finally landed her in prison - five days in Holloway after she attacked one of her tenants, twice.

Her biographer reported that she was treated with understanding in prison and got on with the other prisoners. But even a few days there filled her with horror. If you read anyone's account of our prison systems, you will likely be horrified too.

Anyway, this is a para from the bio:
"It was the misery that got under Rhys's skin during her stay at Holloway. 'But Oh Lord why wasn't the place bombed?' she wrote that autumn to Peggy Kirkaldy: 'If you could see the unfortunate prisoners crawling about like half-dead flies you'd understand how I feel. I did think about the Suffragettes. Result of all their sacrifices? The woman doctor!!! Really human effort is futile.'"

Prison doctors can be on the harsh side, if I am to judge from the Dalrymple columns of long ago in The Spectator, but in fairness, this woman may not have been so bad. Jean was prone to take violent dislikes, as well as violent likes. But Jean's conclusion was the right one.

We cannot put things right. And it's not as if we haven't tried. But everything we have tried has failed.

And that also put me in mind of this rather charming Guiterman poem:

On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness
by Arthur Guiterman

The tusks that clashed in might brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the just
is feric oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear whose potent hug
Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar's bust is on the shelf
And I don't feel too well myself.

I came across this poem in "Poem for the Day, One with a Foreword by Wendy Cope. It is an excellent anthology.

The Creator of language, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, said it best of all, when he inspired King Solomon to write these words:  "I saw all the works that were done under the sun, And look! everything was futile, a chasing after the wind" - Ecclesiastes 1:14

But Ecclesiastes ends on this positive note:   "The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole obligation of man..."

Doing so can make us happy even now, and give a meaning and a purpose and a hope that nothing else can.  I hope that Jean Rhys will know that one day.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

The Slate-grey Sea and the Blistered Foot

The English Channel was slate-grey on Thursday morning, the sea was roaring on the pebbles and there was quite a strong wind - not warm, not cold.  I was able to sit out for 30 minutes, getting some sea air, and maybe a bit of sunshine too.

It is a lovely time to talk to Jehovah - to thank him for the oceans, and to ask for his help - and for his forgiveness - and to study his word - with all the power and the beauty of the sea in my ears and my eyes.

There are two witnesses to our Grand Creator. His creation, and his inspired word. The one tells us as clearly as if it spoke that there is a Creator, and the second tells us who our Creator is and what he requires of us.

Captain Moth-Butterfly spent Thursday detecting (and eating hot sausage rolls - one of the detectorists is a baker) and came limping back.  Just at the moment he is watching a Rugby final between the English ladies and the NZ ladies.  Apparently a Brit Lady has just been redcarded.  Not good, I am guessing, from the cries of anguish coming from the armchair.

What can I say about the News?  Apparently a senior policeman at the Met has been wearing a "menovest", so he can empathise with the problems of all menopausal ladies, as (I can dimly remember) we tend to get a bit hot and sweaty during the process.

So I have to assume that the increase in knife-crime, gang violence, the dangerous disruption of our motorways by mobs of the self-righteous, etc etc etc. is all caused by menopausal women. Who knew?  At any rate, if that is the cause, the Met are well on the way to finding the solution...

This is an Alice-through-the Looking Glass world - only not as rational.

I made what in retrospect was not a good decision - to attend my postponed Physio appointment yesterday. Captain M-B said he would drive me, so I would be delivered right to the door. My left foot it still blistered and raw from the arthritis, but it seemed to be a bit better, so we got it into a pair of walking shoes and I went.

The new young Physio was very kind.  She just chatted to me - gave me a version of one of the exercises more suited to my age (i.e. one that does not involved standing on something) - she had not realised how old I was.  She has never seen me without my mask. (She has a shock in store!)

She has given me a follow up appointment 3 weeks from now, in the hopes that the heel might have healed by then.

Anyway, afterwards I was to ring Col and he would drive me back.  Got outside Clinic - tried to phone him - phone would not work - it was telling me all sorts of things - but would not actually ring him. So I had no option but to start to walk home, very slowly and carefully.

It is not a long walk and one I would not have thought twice about a few years ago - but now... I was so relieved when Col and car drew up when I was halfway home. He had tried to ring me and realised that my phone was not working.

My hero,  flying to my rescue - Captain SuperMoth!!

The problem of course is that it has not improved my foot any.  My hands have been blistered for weeks now.  I can only hope that my foot/feet will not go the same way.

I can walk round the flat, and can even do my exercises, but I cannot wear a shoe on my left foot.  I am ordering a pair of soft slippers that might, at a distance, look like shoes, to see if I can get back to the Hall in them.  But I see no hopes of getting out on the door  to door preaching work. Unless of course it stays dry and the slippers I have ordered really do look like shoes.

Old age is so difficult.  But I know I must be grateful I am still here. And I truly am.  The older I get the more wonderful the gift of life seems, and the more interesting and fascinating everything gets.  I am looking out over the English Channel as I finish this blog - a slightly restless sea under a watery sun - and it is so beautiful.