Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Night of Alarms

We had supper with Jackie, which cheered me up no end. She gave us chicken alexander, chocolate mousse, and fizzy wine. Just what the doctor ordered, because I had spent all day trying to find out when my operation date is.  Half the hospital says it is the original date, the other half says it has been postponed for a month AND WILL I STOP BOTHERING THEM.  But how can I find out the new date? I ventured timidly. Apparently I need to contact another hospital altogether AND DON'T I REALISE THAT?!  The Other hospital seemed surprised and puzzled, and will, hopefully, ring me back on Monday, if they are brave enough to ring Hospital No.1 and find out what is going on. I really needed to know by tomorrow as my next injection is due then, and the date of my operation hangs on when I last take it.  It must not be too early, not be too late.

I have lost all confidence now and am on the verge of cancelling the whole thing, and settling for being housebound.  We have a flat with a view and I am a homebody anyway.  Why take the risk?

After all that, and feeling a bit more cheerful after an evening with Jacks, I was just drifting off into a merciful sleep, when BANG! there was a terrible crash right by my head.  "What?!"  I panicked back to consciousness.  "I had to kill that fly" said Captain B, fly swat in hand.

Poor old bluebottle. I think it had settled down for the night. I certainly had.   I began to drift off again.  RING RING RING - Col's call out alarm went off.   He struggled out of bed, and I struggled with some very unChristian thoughts about his volunteer rescue work.  I was vaguely formulating the thought of his needing sandwiches and a flask of tea, when RING RING RING - emergency over, misper (missing person to you civilians) found.  All OK.

I tried to drift back off to sleep. It took a long time.

We have woken up to a sunny morning, but with quite a lot of cloud.  The last day of summer.

How many more summers for us?

Well, I am hoping we will have "unnumbered summers" in the restored earthly Paradise.

We have tea with our new neighbours this afternoon, and more visitors tomorrow.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Let Them Eat Mangetout!

Jamie Oliver has caused a lot of controversy with his remarks about the way people on benefits manage their food budgets, including a rather unfortunate remark about mangetout being cheaper when bought from your local market.

An obvious problem, leaving aside the mangetout, is that not everyone has a local market within walking distance these days.

Food Poverty seems to be the new black. The Beeb (I think it was the BBC) had a programme on recently where celebrity chefs helped low-income families to cook nutritiously and cheaply.  And it was clearly needed - one pensioner was living on cuppa soups.  Of course, you could also say that a larger state pension would help...  but as that is not on offer, any help has to be good.

And some of the advice was good. But some was dubious; for example, we were reminded how important it is to shop round the various supermarkets.  But I'm not sure how you can do that on a low income, with no car.  And small children. You, presumably, have to shop at whatever is within walking distance.

However, Jamie has a new series coming up - and its all good publicity.  And I am always receptive to ideas for how to eat well on less.  I had a chicken curry from the chill cabinet of a local supermarket a couple of weeks ago, and also made one from scratch for us.  The curry I made was far from brilliant but it was a lot better, and cheaper, than the chill cabinet one. Plus the oil I used was olive oil.  

I think that is the point Jamie is trying to make. And good for him.  I think he will be able to make it effectively.  He is good at showing that cooking can be fun.

Its a lovely sunny morning by the English Channel.  Philip and Seppi arrived last night, having had a great holiday in the West country.

I am still waiting to find out what the new date for my postponed operation will be.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013



 by me

Sasha slides crossly past the sprinklers
On the lawn
What business does his Person have
Turning them on?

This garden is one large sand tray
And Sash could really feel at home
If Mara wouldn’t mess it up with grass
And soggy, peaty loam.

Sand and sun and birds to catch
A Person of his own
Araby would be Paradise
If no for that darned sprinkler on the lawn.

Another cat from the past.  From our early days in Araby, when we spent a lot of time at Mara's - and with her beautiful fluffy Siamese.

Its a sunny morning here - with a calm blue Channel outside.  The Bavarian branch return for a couple of nights on their way back to Germany  - and we are having another Thai takeaway.  Col chauffered me to the meeting on Sunday morning - wonderful talk, given by a local brother.

How much we - the human race, the children of Adam - need the incoming Kingdom of God - the heavenly government that will make "all things new".

I can't think what I did yesterday, beyond my studying on the balcony. We - the worldwide congregations - are still in our detailed study of Jeremiah, trying to learn from his faithful example.  And I did loads of washing so it would all get dry and out of the way before the visitors arrive.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Householdering on a walking stick

My stint as Rosemary's householder reminded me of my schooldays in an odd way.  I had to hobble, with walking stick and Rosemary's arm, to the small school, and I held up both schools while they had to wait for me.  Then the kind Ghanaian brother who conducts the second school let us go straight to our seats in the front so we didn't have to get up and down again.  Which really helped. I had been worried about that.

My last appearance in the Ministry School - I hope not ever! - but certainly until after my operations.

Anyway, during my second year at big school, our House needed a swimmer - was it Compiegne (spelling?), Picardy, or The Other One - I can't now remember and can't imagine what the point of the House system was - trying to bring some sort of ersatz public school spirit into our Convent High School? - anyway, Sports Day - horrors of horrors - or any rate a Swimming Gala at our local baths.   And - tragedy for Compiegne, Picardy or The Other One, their champion swimmer, the only girl in the House in my year who could dive and swim was off sick. And I was press-ganged into my House (whichever one it was, I'm not sure I even knew at the time) swimming team, to swim for the honour of Whichever House It Was.

Why?  I suppose it was because I was the only other girl who could stay afloat in the deep end.

So we all lined up.  They dove in like speedy arrows.  I jumped.  And then I started my laborious breaststroke.   Slowly slowly I trundled down the first lane, and even more slowly back up the second.  The audience got out its sandwiches and had its lunch while it waited for me.  I did get a cheer at the end, but I think it was a cheer of relief, as finally the next race could begin and they would be that bit nearer to going home.

They call old age "a second childhood" and so its proving to be.

Yesterday was my second pre-op appointment at the hospital. Terrifying.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Great British Bake-off is Back

Hurray!  I love it.  My Tuesday nights are sorted for the foreseeable future.  Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, the contestants, the cakes.  Who could ask for more?

One contestant made a Gaudi Cathedral out of chocolate cake on Tuesday night.

More hospital tomorrow in this continuing run up to THE OPERATION.

And we have heard from Roger who will be in the UK about that time.  Hopefully we will be able to see him, but it will depend how it all goes of course.  Talked to Audrey on the phone a couple of times, and got a lovely card from Seahouses from Penny and George.  I hope that by this time next year I might be able to be doing a bit of travelling in the North myself.

And as the Cakeathon is still on, I managed a couple of batches of marmalade cupcakes to take to the Hall. The brothers and sisters working on the new Kingdom Hall build like homemade cakes in their tea breaks, and its lovely to be able to contribute something.  Jane is up there cooking for them in the field kitchen.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Rapture

Rosemary came round yesterday and we practised her talk for Thursday. I am her householder, and am going to be someone who has been told about the Rapture by a friend, and is confused. Which is no wonder really.  I now need to see if I can net Captain Butterfly before he flutters off and practise my talk on him.

Insofar as I understand it, the Rapture is a doctrine originating with the Pentecostal church in America.  It teaches that God will remove the faithful from the earth - sort of snatch them up to heaven - just before the great tribulation - and return them afterwards.  Although I think there are different versions and timelines.

Rosemary's assigned material includes Proverbs 2:21,22 which says, simply and clearly: " For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it.  As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it."

So the upright remain on the earth.  It is the wicked who are removed from it when they are destroyed at Armageddon. And Jehovah does not want to have to destroy anyone. Hence the worldwide warning work as followers of Christ preach from door to door.

Which I hope I will be able to do again sometime next year if my operations go well.  In the meantime I am keeping my magazine route going by post, with card and letter.  One of my route calls rang me yesterday to ask how I was, and we had a nice chat. I was out on the balcony at the time.

A sunny day today. The Channel is pale, calm and a bit heat hazy.   And the dishwasher has broken!   Aaargh.  We will have to hitch up the horses to the dishcloths and try to remember how we used to wash dishes in the olden days.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Consoling chocolates

Philip and Seppi bought us some home made jam and a box of chocolates. I meant us to have the chocolates with our coffee after our Thai meal, but I forgot about them.

However, it worked out well as a friend who is going through some severe emotional turmoil came round on Saturday night, and so we got out the wine and opened up the chocolates - for medicinal purposes.

The British team has just been disqualified from the 4 by 100 relay.  We thought they had the bronze, but they had got one of their baton changes wrong.  Captain Butterfly worried that they would before they even started and sadly he was right.

I chauffered myself to the Kingdom Hall this morning, while the Captain detected metal with the club.   It was raining a bit, but is sunny now.  The Channel is sparkling away outside the window.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Bavarian Branch

The Bavarian Branch of the family arrive this morning for a short stay. We haven't seen them for some time, and are looking forward to it.  Jacks is coming round tonight to join us in a Thai takeaway.

Two hours of Bible study last night at the Kingdom Hall were the usual lovely antidote to all the horrors going on in the world, and I am wondering how long after my operation before I will be able to get back to meetings.  All our meetings are teaching meetings.  They will link me in by phone line though, so I won't be missing any teaching. I am wondering if I will be able to listen in when I am in hospital - I think you have a kind of private phone arrangement by the beds - but religion is a very touchy subject, so I think I will content myself with taking in my Bible and Watchtower and quietly doing the study article and hoping and praying that I will be back home for the Thursday meeting.

The balcony mint is getting very tall and is flowering. There is a real feeling of the coming Autumn in the air today.  No problem with that.  I love Autumn, and I love the way in which the summer winds down so beautifully into it, but its realising how short the seasons are - how quickly they fly past.  And wondering how many more I have left.

Though I am hoping for unnumbered Autumns in the restored earthly Paradise, so if there is an Autumnal feeling in the air, its a lovely feeling, and full of hope.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Masterclass in Thai Cooking

Linda came round to cook a Thai dinner for us last night. She arrived laden down with supplies and made us a Green Chicken Curry with lots of fresh vegs, with a tropical fruit and lime salad for afters.  She even provided prawncrackery things for a starter.  We provided the wine, and I helped in a minor capacity in the kitchen.

It was excellent - a real Thai taste, without being hot - and I had the remains for my lunch today.  Captain Butterfly is out in the wilderness of the Downlands somewhere with his sandwiches and marmalade muffin. We have chatted on the phone but mid-sentence there was a cry of "There she blows!!" and off he went, camera at the ready.

It has been a paperwork morning- toiling over the latest batch of Butterfly Memberships.  All are now ready to go to the Post Office, and if I can get the second half of my magazine route done then they can all go together tomorrow, and it will only be one trip to the Post Office for the Captain.

Two British girls have been caught at the airport in Peru, allegedly leaving with heroin in their luggage.  I have two harrowing memoirs in my bookshelf, one by Sandra Gregory ("Forget you had a daughter") and the other by Rita Nightingale ("Freed for Life").  Both served time in Bangkok for drug offences.  And how I wish these two young girls had read those harrowing accounts before they went to Peru. Would it have made them stop and think?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Grateful not to be a Centipede

Friday was a day of medical terrors - all pre-op stuff.  All to be gone over again for the second knee op - assuming I survive the first one.  Which is why I am very grateful I am not a centipede - or I would be going through this one hundred times.

Yesterday was recovery, with a bit of study and some housework. A load of the books I have ordered arrived and were whisked away and hidden by a stern Captain Butterfly before I could read them all. They are supposed to be for my hospital stay and subsequent convalescence.

Being a great armchair climber, I have ordered some more climbing books, including that classic "The White Spider" which is going to be really harrowing.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Not a sparrow falls


 by me

Basil lies across me
Furry, warm
I lie awake and worry 
He is calm
I twist and turn
He sleeps and purrs
And sometimes dreams
Of fancy mice
And frantic birds.

We had to re-home our three cats Cindy, Basil and Custer when we became expats. And it is still very painful to think about that.  They must have died many years ago.  

My consolation - my only consolation - is that the Inspired Scriptures assure us that not a sparrow falls without Jehovah's knowing it.  He knew Cindy, Basil and Custer, and loved them even more than we did.

And  He loved Whites, our fierce Saudi cat too.  He was a battered old stray we took in for the last years of his life. We buried him our garden with a few tropical flower petals, so that if anyone found him they would know that he was loved.

A very quiet day yesterday.  Col left early for his fund raising day, followed by a BBQ in the evening. And I did disgracefully little - some studying, a letter and some emails answered, a bit of routine housework, and a lot of re-reading of my Agatha Christie's.  Just finished "Sleeping Murder", just starting on "Crooked House".

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Clouded Yellow Sky

Just got a phone call from Captain Butterfly - he is once again in the thick of it, having found a Clouded Yellow to photograph.  Apparently they sometimes used to be seen in clouds coming across the Channel.  I am looking out for them now, but all I can see is a calm blue Channel with a lot of shipping on the far horizon.

If I were to write up the script for yesterday it would not make a blockbusting Hollywood movie.   Although me and the kitchen did look a like a scene from one after I had finished stoning the cherries to make the crumble.  We - the kitchen and I - were both covered in red juice.  "Why didn't you put an apron on?!" asked Captain B.  Not surprisingly really, as I must have looked like a survivor from The Texas Cherrystone Massacre.

He was back early on account of their being a violent rainstorm, so we had lunch together.   And I made us a chicken curry from the leftover chicken.  Much more successful than last time, as I used a basic curry recipe given me by an Indian friend many years ago.

Izzy - my internet friend - and I are continuing our discussion by blog and PM. He has some some very interesting questions.

The hospital rang to say they were changing the date of my pre-op tests and thingummies to this week! Apparently on account of my medicine.  They have realised I will need to stop taking it fairly soon, if I am to have the op.

I feel too old and frail to be in hospital.  You need to be young and sturdy to stand up to it all... (whinge, whinge).

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Jigsaw

Was woken in the early hours by my ankle - hobbled about getting medication - wondered about getting to the Meeting at the Kingdom Hall - especially as I have no chauffeur today and will have to drive myself.

Captain B was off early with his Metal Detector head on.  "Find me a Viking hoard", I trilled as I waved him out the door.  It hasn't happened yet - but there is no shortage of ring pulls in this house.

Anyway, I wanted to be at the Meeting so I went. And am so glad I did.  The teaching gets better and better, and it was lovely to hear Rita in her answer say that as she began to study the Bible with the Witnesses it was as if a jumbled jigsaw inside her head began to click together, as she began to understand what the Bible says.

That was exactly what I said - over 25 years ago.  Exactly the same jigsaw image.  It was as if a lot of jigsaw pieces in my head began to click together - almost frighteningly fast sometimes.  And I began to see the truth at last.

Another sister at a Convention said it was like seeing a very faded old photograph suddenly start to come into focus and reveal itself.

This - the power of Jehovah's spirit-inspired word - is what welds us JWs, all such disparate people, from every tribe and nation and tongue - together.

The Captain and I are at our computers - he detected no hoards, but did find treasure in the shape of some rather lovely butterfly photos which will appear in The Captain's Log in time.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Light on the Channel

There is such a lovely light on the Channel this morning - I wish I could paint it for you.  The sea is turquoise and blue and blue grey, with shining white horses springing up all over it, and the balcony geraniums are dancing in the wind.

It is painted and created by the Grand Creator Himself, Jehovah of armies, the God of Abraham.  He made it all so lovely - just for us.

It was a very quiet day for me yesterday, though not for Captain Butterfly who was out chasing the wild Clouded Yellow herds, braving the thundering antenna to get some wonderful photos - as you will see if you click on The Captain's Log.   I roasted a freshly shot Clouded Yellow for our tea... no, wait a minute, I didn't.  It was veggie stew plus baked apple and custard.

And I forgot to put the sugar in the custard.  How many times in my life have I made custard?  Its always worrying when you get to my age and start forgetting things...

Tomorrow, the congregations worldwide will be considering "Safeguard Your Inheritance by Making Wise Choices".   And I did my studying for that out on the balcony.

It has nothing to do with tax issues and the recession let me quickly add. The questions being considered are:
How would you define our spiritual inheritance?
What warning lessons can we learn from the actions of Esau?
How can we safeguard our inheritance?

If you want to know, please drop in to the meeting at your local Kingdom Hall tomorrow.

Last night we watched the repeat of the final episode of the latest version of Sherlock Holmes. Wonderfully cast, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes.  And still very moving as Watson(Martin Freeman)  turns and walks away from Sherlock's grave in the churchyard.

The point being of course that Sherlock will soon return.  Not alas, Moriarty (brilliantly played by Andrew Scott).  At least I assume not, under the circumstances.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Thunderstorms on the South Coast.

A thunderstormy breakfast. I have just moved the cushions indoors from the veranda.  The balcony geraniums and the mint are starting to blow about, and there is a lovely soft light on everything.  The Channel is starting to ripple, but no waves as yet.

So its already August and we are tumbling towards Autumn.  My favourite season.  But this year it marks the start of my knee operations.   We had a visitor at the Kingdom Hall last night - he is studying with us I believe.  He had his knee ops two and a half years ago, and was in a wheelchair and still in pain... aarrgh...

I was relieved to come back and find an email from Don, an internet friend, telling me how successful his knee operation had been.  

Oh well, I don't seem to have any option - child of Adam that I am.

A lovely meeting, of course. We are still in our study of the valiant Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. We also discussed the experiences of Witnesses in Myanmar - who like Jeremiah have endured valiantly in the preaching work.