Monday, 28 November 2016


Sessile Earthstar, Geastrum fimbriatum
Got back from the lovely meeting at the Kingdom Hall yesterday expecting to find Captain Butterfly at home waiting for his lunch.  Instead I came back to a silent flat, with a mysterious note on my computer:  "Mark rang. We've gone to find an Earthstar."

Had they been kidnapped by aliens?    In the  meantime, I thought, well, as I have no meal to get, I had better get myself out on the preaching work.  I have been trying to find a young borne-again girl we had a great talk with.  I have tried, but not found her at home.  Plus there are still some magazine route calls for November to do.  So after a quick lunch (bean and celeriac salad) I set off nervously. She lives in an area that I find difficult to drive to.

When I got back I did manage to contact the Captain, and he had found his earthstar!   On hearing of my heroic solo drive, over two rather large roundabouts, he suggested that I write one of the adventure books I am so keen on reading.   "I drove to Angmering!!"    Is there a Hollywood blockbuster in this?

The talk yesterday was to remind us how vital it is that we really are making Jehovah our refuge.  And it started with a vivid illustration.  It was of a man swept away by a powerful river.  He finds a rock jutting out of the river, manages to grab it, and angle himself on it so that it protects him from the strong current.

A few metres downstream is the Niagara Falls!

So, how desperately would you cling to that rock in those circumstances.  

As I said, it was a vivid illustration. Shudder.

He then asked us to read and think about these two Bible verses.

Firstly, 2 Samuel 22:3, which says:   "My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and my horn of salvation, my secure refuge And my place to flee, my savior; you who save me from violence."

Jehovah is our rock. Are we clinging to Him - and to no-one or nothing else?    Some people cling to money, to political power, or maybe put their faith in the right career, or a brilliant education.  But what is going to happen?   Are they rocks we can safely cling to?

We then read Nahum 1:6, which says:    "Who can stand before his indignation? And who can withstand the heat of his anger? His wrath will be poured out like fire, And the rocks will be shattered because of him."

All the rocks will be shattered.  They will prove to be false gods. We need to cling to Jehovah the true God, to give him exclusive devotion. And the talk was how we can do this, in all the areas of our life.

Jackie came to supper on Saturday. And I did cook this time - not Cooks.  Cottage pie, cauliflower cheese and carrots, followed by apple-crumble and a cheeseboard.

The leftovers took care of supper yesterday and will do for supper tonight.  It all turned out well, thank goodness, as we are still eating it.

Friday, 25 November 2016

A Collective Noun of Visitors and an Arthritis Flare Up

What would be the correct collective noun when a whole load of sisters turn up at the same bedside (Maggie is bedbound now)?      Jean and I always try to go Wednesday afternoon, but this Wednesday was complicated by Jean's leaving her phone off the hook.  I always phone her before I pick her up so we can meet in the carpark, as her flat is very difficult not to say impossible to park in.   Anyway, she rang me and it turns out she was at Jennifer's.

Captain Butterfly drove me over to Maggie - I am in the middle of an arthritis flare-up, left leg. I was back on my zimmer frame on Tuesday. The pain.   Oh joy.  I was hobbling slowly about on a stick by then, but not able to drive.   So the Captain kindly came to the rescue, dropped me at the Clinic where I joined Jean and Jennifer - and after about 20 minutes Cathy and Carol joined us!  So we were a crowd - a little flock? - and Maggie enjoyed all the company and the chattering.

The Captain meanwhile was off hunting fungi - in the churchyard just down the road.  He picked us up later and drove us both home. He is a gallant chauffeur.   I asked him if he found a more upmarket sort of fungus as we were in the posh part of town.  Any of those fancy Japanese ones we are all supposed to be cooking with nowadays?

Not that we pick and eat wild mushrooms!  Even experts can make lethal mistakes.  IF we are both on the earth when Paradise is restored - its an "undeserved kindness" so there is hope - then we shall have unnumbered Autumns in which to gather mushrooms from field and woodland.  No churchyards when the whole earth is the Paradise it was always meant to be - as "death will be no more".

Revelation 21:3-5 says:  "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.”  And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”"

Faithful and true.

Not one of Jehovah's promises has ever failed - or ever will fail.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Butterfly Business

BC Sussex Chairman, Nigel Symington
Saturday was the AGM of the Sussex Branch of Butterfly Conservation. Always a good day out for the Captain and me.    Nigel dealt quickly and efficiently with the necessary business and then we settled down to hear two excellent speakers - Neil Hulme  - and Adrian Thomas.  Both are passionate and knowledgeable about their subject and know how to enthuse others.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Boloria selene, Park Corner Heath 2011
Neil spoke about the loss to Sussex of the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, and of the efforts being made to save the Pearl Bordered, which is right on the brink.
Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Boloria euphrosyne, Rewell Wood 2013
And Adrian talked about the vast resource that our gardens can be for wildlife - and pointed out that a wild garden does not have to be wild, as such.

In between the talks we had tea and cakes - lovely cakes - I provided a fruit cake and it all went.  I was able to take an empty plate home with me.

And Jamie Burston was there with his amazing artwork.  He kindly donated one as a raffle prize.

Captain B donated a copy of his 2017 Calendar.

There was no meeting Sunday as it was the Assembly at Haysbridge on Saturday, to which I did not get...  Feel guilty about it, but I do always go with Captain B to the Butterfly AGM.  But I did get to the Field Service meeting that had been arranged instead.  I worked with another Sue and we did an hour and a half, and covered our assigned territory.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

What Were the Wild Waves Saying?

Fantastic seas, as it was a wild and stormy day on Thursday, with a brief sunny interlude at lunchtime. Jean and I had planned to go out on the work after lunch - Mick had given us some not-at-homes - but the weather prevented it.

I did go out briefly Friday morning before I was driven back by the rain. And managed to do a couple of calls this afternoon.  But I had hoped to get more done.    Feel so tired.  My usual cry these days.

Just got the bad news from Pen that Janet, who made the beautiful wedding cake for the Lilac Tree wedding, is very very ill.  She is such a lovely lady.

The media is still full of the American elections, but I suppose it will calm down after a while. And Jehovah's wonderful purposes towards the earth go on regardless of election results.

But I am reminded of a Hilaire Belloc poem - or should that be "an" Hilaire Belloc poem? - which goes like this:

The accursed power that stands on Privilege,
(And goes with Women, and Champagne, and Bridge)
 Broke - and Democracy resumed her reign:
 (Which goes with Bridge, and Women and Champagne).

Perhaps the wild waves were saying that this time it will be different... but who knows?   The important thing is that every day brings us nearer to the moment that Jehovah will act to "bring to ruin those ruining the earth". And that is what everyone needs to know.  Urgently. Please don't let politics distract you. We are all in "the valley of decision". And maybe that is what the waves would tell us, if they could.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Clever Children

This is a poem I have loved for a long time. I am a 1950s child - a child of the Nuclear Age and the Cuba Missile Crisis.

The Clever Children
by Philip Gross

"The chicken or the egg?"
                                    Their father
teased them on their way to bed
They lay awake for hours, those clever
children.  Then one little egghead said,

"Inside the shell the embryonic hen
has got all her cells in her, even the cell
of her egg, within which... So on, in, on
in time to the smallest conceivable."  Well,

now they couldn't sleep. They had to see
the ultimate egg, the egg of the future. On the way
how many breakages, unwanted omelettes, casually
discarded chickens?  At last, there it lay,

so tiny, so precious, so shimmeringly slight
it made them feel tremendous, like a pride
of giants. Now to sleep, but... "Wait!"
said one (yes), "What's inside?"

So they split it. What hatched out?
"Quick," they hollered, "put it back again."
But those clever children couldn't, not
with all the king's horses, all the king's men.

And this is from a wonderful Ted Hughes parody by Wendy Cope:

  Budgie Finds His Voice
     From The Life and Songs of the Budgie
               by Jake Strugnell
     ...When the sun was lifted away
      Like an orange lifted from a fruit-bowl
     And darkness, blacker
     Than an oil-slick,
     Covered everything forever
     And the last ear left on earth
     Lay on the beach,
     Deaf as a shell
     And the land froze
     And the seas froze
     ’Who’s a pretty boy then?’ Budgie cried.

We went to the Fortieth Anniversary of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme on Saturday.  It was a rainy drive up there - to Wallingford, near Oxford.  We passed a road called Jethro Tull Gardens. So, by using all my feminine intuition and with both brain cells at full stretch, I deduce that Jethro Tull must be a local lad.  And it was a tiring drive back for Captain B.  But it was worth it.  Very well organised, and encouraging for all the Recorders.  But quite technical.

What I gleaned from it is that Butterflies can be the canary in the mine; observing carefully what is happening on PlanetButterfly can give a timely warning about what is going wrong. And as they are so pretty and iconic, it is easier to raise awareness through them.

There was an interesting observation about the way it seems some new(ish) pesticide is changing the behaviour of a certain type of caterpillar.   So what else might it be doing?

It did underline the power of the Bible's warning that "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step".  Which brings me back to the Philip Gross poem I started with.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

From The Spectator

Delighted to find this in the Books of the Year review, in my current Speccie.

A.N.Wilson chose Michael Denton's Evolution:Still a Theory in Crisis.  Apparently its a sequel to his Evolution:A Theory in Crisis, and A.N.Wilson says:

"This takes us up to date with the dazzling developments of life scientists over the last 30 years. Denton is a sceptic about Darwin's theory of evolution on purely scientific grounds.  It is hard to see how anyone reading his book could not be persuaded. Palaeontology provides abundance evidence of evolution within species, but none of one species morphing into another. Denton is fascinatingly clear in his exposition of the science of genetics, and how it destroys the Darwinian position, A truly great book."

So happy to read this, as this is what we are trying and trying to tell people.  Science supports the Genesis view of creation, not the Darwinian theory of evolution.   And there are immense implications if Genesis is the true story of us.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Two poems. "Lament" by Zbigniew Herbert and "Visitation" by Robert Roberts

I happened to get out my Poetry folder - not poems written by me, but poems i have found down the years and wanted to keep.  And I thought how these two poems, both of which I love, connect.

To the memory of my mother
by Zbigniew Herbert

And now she has over her head brown clouds of roots
a slim lily of salt on the temples beads of sand
while she sails on the bottom of a boat through foaming nebulas

a mile beyond us where the river turns
visible-invisible as the light on a wave
truly she isn't different - abandoned like all of us.

So beautiful and sad it makes me want to cry.   But how I would have wanted to assure the poet that we are not abandoned.

Which leads me to the second poem.

by Robert Roberts

We walked out in high winds today
Through Harpford Woods, March daffodils
All knocked about and trees asway
Like masts at sea and stormswept hills.

Like ocean rollers all around
And underfoot the March-dry road
All iron ruts and underground
Or overhead a jealous god.

Out of an old old covenant
The awe and anger now no more
Troublesome than a gale's half-spent
And out of date bad-tempered roar.

Outside our house we found a man
Black briefcase, grey suit, well brushed hair.
He smiled. He was no other than
Jehovah's Witness waiting there.

We are not abandoned.  In every country, in every island group, Jehovah sends his Witnesses to tell people the good news of the incoming Kingdom of God.  He is not an angry God, he is a caring God, who is love. And he wants every one of us to have "the glorious freedom of the children of God" in the restored earthly Paradise.

But it is up to each one of us. He will not force anyone.  Jehovah respects the free will he gave us.

I was just doing my Workbook study for tomorrow and thought I would like to add this extract from our current Watchtower magazine:
Though Jehovah is the Supreme One, he invites us to approach him in prayer and assures us that he listens to us. (Psalm 65:2) God loves and cares for us so much that the apostle John could truthfully write: “God is love.”1 John 4:8.

And I hope so much that Zbigniew Herbert and his mother will meet in the resurrection - waking on an earth truly at peace, an earth ruled by the law of loving-kindness. I hope both poets will be there. I hope we all will be.

Jean and I visit Maggie this afternoon, and I am taking her over a fan, as she said she would like one like mine. Captain Butterfly had kindly ordered me 3 via the internet, so no problem.

Monday, 7 November 2016

A Talk Coming Up

Was handed my next talk at the Hall on Thursday - and can't do it.  This time I was going to be doing the Bible Study - 6 minutes or less - having graduated through Initial Call - 2 minutes or less - and Return Visit - 4 minutes or less.

My material was:

10 “The early Christians,” notes The World Book Encyclopedia, “considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.” The ancient Greeks, for instance, believed that each person had a protective spirit that attended the person’s birth and thereafter watched over him. That spirit “had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,” says the book The Lore of Birthdays. Birthdays also have a long-standing and an intimate link with astrology and the horoscope.

And I won't be able do it, as we will be 'oop North that week.  Captain B likes to go, and it is of course a family get together, which is how I try to view it.  I try to stay out of the Christmas stuff as much as possible as that is another holiday with pagan roots - well its rooted in paganism in fact. Look at the way its celebrated.

But I would be very happy to visit the family another time, and spend the 25th in the way we did a few years ago when I was between operations and couldn't travel.  We spent the day at the Lagoon watching the flotilla of newly arrived Merganser ducks, and having a sandwich lunch in the car.  It was a lovely day, with a lovely numinous light - dark clouds holding off like curtains round the wintry brightness of the lagoon.   As it the Merganser ducks were on stage.

It was Audrey's Memorial Service at the Hall on Wednesday, and afterwards Jean and I visited Maggie. She knew were were coming,- and knew us when we arrived,

And we had supper at Jackie's on Saturday night - one of her famous lamb roasts. We all agreed that its good to be back in our old routine.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Holly Parachutes

Holly Parachutes, Marasmius hudsonii, growing on holly leaf
These little fungi are so tiny you would never notice them if you were not on the hunt for fungi to photograph.  Captain B and Mark found them yesterday.
Holly Parachute
It was the big bonfire on The Green on Saturday night, along with the usual spectacular firework display.    Jackie came, and so did John and Linda.   I provided sausages, garlic bread, salad, pizza, samosas, a cheeseboard, and carrot cake and ice-cream.

We all had a good time (I hope).

It is the Memorial Service for Audrey at the Kingdom Hall today and I will be taking Jean and then we will go and visit Maggie.

I am busy with my edits for "Small Island".  Fantastic Books have done a great job of editing - I agree with all the changes they want me to make, apart from wanting to keep the "dalek lights" and someone being (metaphorically) "in stasis".

Yesterday was an at home day for me.  I did a couple of loads of washing, washed the floors, and made a veggie stew and an apple crumble for supper.