Monday, 31 December 2012

And more rain

Its a wet and windy afternoon by the South Coast. The rain is pouring down, the Channel is very stormy.  We had a good drive back yesterday - sunny most of the way - though there was a belt of heavy rain after Oxford.

We had another family get together at the bungalow on Saturday, in which the two youngest members of the family met each other for the first time.  Pretty, frilly, little Eleanor seemed quite fascinated by the tall, dark and handsome Harry, and kept toddling past him.  But he was busy with an Alien Making Machine, and I don't think she even appeared on his radar.

I was impressed by the way he offered his chocolates round without being asked.

They are both lovely and I only wish my parents could have been there to see them.

Talked to Audrey today, and am wondering if i can get to the field service group tomorrow and get back on the doors. Don't feel wonderful today but, obviously, am tired from the journey.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Rain

Torrential rain this morning. Col managed to walk Ollie just before it started - and we both went out shopping in the first mini-lull.  And got quite wet.  Ken provided an excellent and gigantic cottage pie for Lilac Tree, Derby and The Janet.   The two little cousins (Harry and Eleanor) met for the first time I think - the youngest of the great-grandchildren.

Us oldies are now sitting quietly, reading, or asleep, or generally flaked out.  Or blogging.

Janet and I now have each other's email address, so hopefully can stay in better touch.

The tribe from Derby do hope to visit us this year and give young Eleanor a few days by the sea.

Friday, 28 December 2012

The numinous names

Ringinglow, High Storrs, Oakbrooke...  all the numinous names as we drive through the city to my sister's - all overlaid with layers and layers of memories.   And today (Friday) we drove over  The Snake Pass, via Glossop, to visit the tribe of Bea - or three of them at any rate.    More and more memories... what will it be like if we have lived for a thousand years?

It is damp and misty - a lot of mist on the high moor tops.    Tomorrow Lilac Tree Farm - all of them - are coming for lunch, plus the Derby mob, and Janet who I haven't seen for some years.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Scooter the (un)Dread

Scooter has had a personality transplant since the last time we all shared the same bedroom. She tucked up next to me, and when I purred at her she purred and purred back.  She slept on me until my legs got too frozen (with arthritis) and I had to move. But she did not claw, bite, or sulk off the bed, just moved onto Captain B.

Perhaps she has finally got used to us coming and going?

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A wild and stormy December day

It seems an appropriate day to pull this little poem out of my poetry file.  The rain is pouring down, the Channel is roaring (with one valiant/mad windsurfer on it), and all those travelling this weekend are probably having to go by submarine.

I wrote this many years ago:

         HI TIDE   by me
The sea had long wanted to go into town
 So, early one morning, it roared in
 Found the arcades still closed
 And battered them down.

Captain Butterfly is at the other side of the table collating and referencing his years and years of wonderful coral photos.  He is going to provide a very interesting snapshot of the Maldivean sea.  I am listening to the DVD that Malcolm gave me of the Assembly I missed at Haysbridge.  Wonderful, and I so much hope I won't miss any more. It is a privilege to have two days with nothing to do but concentrate on being taught from God's word.

The speaker is just talking about the unselfish, loving and giving attitude that a Christian husband must have.  It reminds me how grateful I am for Captain Butterfly.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Gym Lessons

Or P.E. lessons to those a little less old than I am.  Anyway, my visit to the physio uncovered that my exercises have done more harm than good and I am now on the list for hydrotherapy - as - gulp - urgent.

Got to the meeting last night, but only because Captain Butterfly drove me.  One of my young brothers was waiting at the bottom of the drive to help me into the Hall, and one of the elders helped me back down the drive to the Captain waiting in The Geranium.

Feel guilty and not like a witness at the moment as I haven't been out once this month. Am in some interesting internet conversations though - one with an American columnist - she replied to my email, I have replied to hers, will she reply to my reply?  I don't know. It must still be in the middle of the night there.   Aurora and her Chariot of the Dawn have just passed over us here, uncovering a lovely sunrise, and are now heading in the columnist's direction.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The spirit of the world

It is a lovely sunny day today, but, par for the course at the moment, I am not able to go out. My right knee is swollen up like a balloon and the left one isn't too wonderful either. Nor is the rest of me - moan moan, whinge whinge.    Captain B very kindly drove me to the meeting on Sunday. I could have driven myself, but was so grateful to be spared the walk to the Kingdom Hall. We have no carpark now.

We had an outing yesterday!  To Pulborough Brooks.  We forgot to take my Blue Badge.  However I hobbled successfully to the Restaurant, clinging on to the Captain, we had a bowl of veggie soup, and then hobbled slowly to the pond afterward, where I sat on a bench and read my Daily Scriptures.

We went to Jackie's last night. She was feeling a bit down, I was feeling a bit down, but we all felt a lot more cheerful by the end of the evening.   She gave us Chicken Kiev with cauliflower cheese, cheese and biscuits, and, a Captain Butterfly favourite, apple pie.

I found this in the comments when reading the online Guardian this morning:

"You know, as a parent (albeit in the US) I think the problem is in another direction that nobody dares point the finger at. And that is at the culture itself. Once I had children, I found myself at war with a culture that was determined to undermine every message of self discipline, restraint, or respect towards others that I was trying to teach. I found myself alone in a world that bombarded children with messages of disobedience for it's own sake, crass commercials psychologically designed to hook them on all manners of bad foods, and a bunch of enablers who screamed at every instance of parents trying to at least assert a little control over this. It is amazing the toxic crap we spew out for our childrens consumption, both physical and mental, and then wonder "who's fault it is" that they are the way they are."

And this:

"Another bugbear was constant references to 'confidence'. My daughter is well-mannered and reserved but with a strong spirit and and involved in many extra-curricular activities. She's a good musical instrumentalist and plays with ensembles which have taken her abroad for concert trips and this year, at 17, is sufficiently confident to embark on a Canadian trip for two months as a youth leader at a children's camp. However, she was consistently described as lacking confidence which concerned and confused me. Then I realised that what was applauded as confidence was actually what I saw in many instances as loud, boorish, unrestrained and generally ill-mannered behaviour."

Ephesians 2:1,2 says:  "Furthermore, [it is] you [God made alive] though you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience"

So here are two parents noticing "the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience".  Satan made himself a resister of Jehovah.  He now rules the world and tirelessly promotes the same spirit of rebellion in everyone.  Jehovah's word, and his holy spirit, are our defence against the spirit of the world.   And this is a reminder of the vital importance, the urgency, of the Christian preaching work.   

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Richard and Hyacinth ride out

It was "Keeping Up Appearances" by the seaside today, only with an unusual casting. The Captain was Hyacinth, and I was Richard. We were taking my geranium coloured car out so I could get the hang of it before my drive to the meeting tomorrow.  "Mind that pedestrian, Richard!"  "You should be in first gear!"  "You should have signalled by now!"  "Mind that field of cows!".

Though it was heroic of Captain B to come. He doesn't much like being driven by anyone, let alone me. And he has now taken me through all the technical things I needed to know. Where are the windscreen wipers?  How do I make the seat go down? Which is the steering wheel?  You know the sort of thing.

As in the model I tremblingly test drove, the seat is that little bit higher which helps so much. And the door a tiny bit wider. When your knees don't bend so well that does make quite a difference.

We also test drove my new Blue Badge - and I drove carefully into the disabled parking space at Waitrose and carefully out again. ("Mind that pedestrian Richard!").  They too have a little bit more space, so it is easier to get both me and the car in and out.  I am grateful to that lovely young physio who interviewed me after they had initially turned me down. He saw that i really do need it.  And I wish I did not.

I am very pleased with the colour of my car. In fact I love it.  I would never have dared choose it - would have stuck to something sensible - but now I can pretend that it was the only option (which actually it was, apart from white, unless I waited till next year).

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Geranium

I don't think I have ever seen the English Channel as stormy as it is today. I would love to brave the wind and rain and go down to the seafront, but my knees simply won't come along with me. And I can't go without them.

My new car is here.  A vivid shade of red. I thought "tulip" at first, but have decided it is more "geranium".  Hope to try it out tomorrow.

Used up all the veggies to make a big chili veggie stew, with dumplings for supper.  It is stew and dumpling weather.

Col away fetching car most of day - and he lunched off a Bounty Bar.   Spoke to Bea and Audrey on the phone. Bea relieved to be out of hospital, but will be in plaster for a while.

News of a school shooting in the U.S.A. is just coming through...  It seems 26 may be dead - most of them young children.   Hard to comprehend what the parents are going through as I am writing this.

I suppose there will be new calls for a change in the gun laws  - which is something for Americans to decide, I have no opinion either way.  But what does need to change is minds and hearts.   And nothing has more power to reach hearts than Jehovah's word.

Hebrews 4:12:  "For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and [their] marrow, and [is] able to discern thoughts and intentions of [the] heart."

Once again, I see that the urgency and importance of the Christian preaching work cannot be over-stated.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Downland in Winter

A busy week really - like being back at work - all the butterfly paperwork yesterday - and today all the paperwork - and endless phonecalling - about the new car.  Fortunately the Captain returned from his work in the frosty downland to help me with all the technical questions.  How many steering wheels does my new car have, that sort of thing.  And he was there to make the big decision about the insurance. Plus I wrote letters and packaged up magazines to about two thirds of my route calls. The rest, hopefully, I will do with my new car (gulp) next week.

Talking of icy pavements - Bea has broken her wrist!   It is so scarey.  Just what we are all so afraid of when we get older.  You simply don't realise when you are young - you fall over, bounce up again.  Even if you do break a bone, it will likely heal quickly.

And of course I am remembering my parents, and what good care they took of me when i broke my leg so badly all those years ago - and the comfrey tea daddy used to make for me and made sure I drank every day.  A country boy, from the fields and forests of Belarus, he knew the uses of herbs.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The child in time

Jean and I shared a taxi to the Kingdom Hall on Sunday morning - Arun taxis were their usual reliable selves - and Ken gave us a both a lift back.  Jackie came round for supper on Tuesday - I made a beef chili, with small small things - and we had cheese and chocolate brownies afterwards.  A fun evening.

It was Butterfly paperwork day today - all done and dusted, though Captain Butterfly will have to fly it to the post office as my wings are not what they were.

I feel bad about not getting out on the door to door preaching work at the moment - I hope to do letters to all my magazine route calls tomorrow morning, while the Captain is out clearing woodland for butterflies.

He went for a walk on the winter beach this afternoon, and i hope to borrow a photo for the blog.  I love winter walks on the beach - we used to walk by the sea much more in winter than in summer, but don't know if I will be able to...  a second dose of new meds tomorrow. Maybe they will do the trick.

Roger turned up on our computer screens - via Skype!   A lovely surprise.  Hopefully we will see him next month.   How far away our Expat life seems.  Who knows where the time goes?

I have been reading Nella Last's 1950s diaries.  Fascinating.  She is writing about the world I knew then as a child, from the angle that I have now, as she and her husband were retired. And they had just been through a second world war, and even the calm and indomitable Nella is shaken by it. She also feels that the thread of hope that was there in the war years has gone.

It is a vanished world. And a world that I knew. And, apart from school, a world I was happy and secure in. But I think we thought then that we were going to build a brave new world. Nella by that time knew we would not.

Friday, 7 December 2012

An Outing!

An outing today to Pulborough Brooks.  I took my cushions and wrapped up warmly.  I can't tell you - wish I could - what a perfect day it is.  The sky is as blue as summer -with some fluffy white clouds - and the light from the low winter sun is amazing.  It had been raining heavily and everything was soaked, sodden and overflowing.

Waxwings had been seen at Pulborough - but were gone by the time we got there. We had lunch - parsnip soup - did a tiny walk round the ponds and then sat outside in the winter sun. The wind was blowing strongly in the trees (or was that the parsnip soup?).

Everything was so Paradise like - full of joy.

Col took Audrey and me to the meeting yesterday, and I managed to get up to the platform without taking too long about it - so I must be feeling a bit better.  Anyway, I was Natasha's householder and we did our little drama on the stage and Charles, who is conducting the school, seemed happy about it.

The subject was: Why Speak the Truth with Conviction.  The featured scripture was: 2 Timothy 1:7,8:
"For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind. Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord, neither of me a prisoner for his sake, but take your part in suffering evil for the good news according to the power of God."

I was Natasha' s student and was asking her how I could get up the courage to tell my workmates that I would no longer be joining in the Christmas celebrations.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

More sunrise and a second childhood

I hope that another picture of another lovely winter sunrise will appear on this blog, as we were watching it this morning, and the Captain rushed for his camera.

Getting old - and second childhoods....  Yes, its seems I am unlearning how to walk. I have to go back to Gym lessons - something I thought/hoped I had left behind for good when the happy day came that I left school.  But, on the positive side, I seem to be going back to feeling the joy at the beauty and the glory of the world that I felt instinctively as a young child.

I always loved it, but as I grew up I became more and more conscious of what Janet Frame called "the sadness that belongs to the world" - a desolation, a cut-off ness.

Then when I began to look for the Creator of it, to thank Him, (and I always thought Him not Her, ThoughtPolice notwithstanding), and found Him, I understood about the sadness - and why, and that its only for  a time - and the original joy came back.  Whether that is something else that goes as we get older, well, I may find out.  But I hope it won't.

I can't say I have been doing much.  Cooked a herb chicken casserole yesterday as Jacks was coming round, but then she had to cancel at the last minute. She has been struck down by one of these winter viruses that seem to be doing the rounds.  Talked to Audrey, Bea, Jackie and Mark on the phone.   We got the 2013 butterfly calendars done and dusted.  Captain B labelled, packaged and posted, and I did the letters...  "our first ten children have done fabulously well at work and all got promoted to managing director, and our next ten have just won Strictly Come Dancing...".   I did try not to go on for a more than a chapter about my arthritis medications, utterly fascinating though the subject is.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A red wing rose in the darkness

This was an Encounter morning:

Encounter by Czeslaw Milosz
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness...

The red wing of the Winter sun rose in the darkness this morning - and the fields - the Green - were frozen.

Mick and June swung by and took me to the meeting, along with Jean. And delivered me back - door to door.  Natasha is coming round tomorrow night as I am her householder on Thursday and we have to practise.  Hopefully Captain B will be able to take both me and Audrey to the meeting.  Jackie is coming for supper Tuesday night, so I have a chicken casserole to make.

Malcolm came over to ask how I was - still running-in my walking stick - and told me that he would get me a  CD of the talks from the Assembly that I just missed!

So a good day, despite a lot of arthritis pain.  

I hope that Czeslaw Milosz will be woken from the sleep of death when the time comes, and that he will see the sun rise again over the beautiful beautiful earth.