Saturday, April 29, 2006

We have milk!

I found milk today in a little shop that sells clothes, shoes, groceries, toys and underwear…all in a bedroom sized room. I only found the shop this week, and so went back today (having been paid) to buy a couple of litres of milk. Yippee! Spent a long time trying to find curtain wire hooks and nail polish remover, but could get neither.

Another fairly busy day, although hardly as productive as yesterday. I had to finish off grocery shopping today, and I must say it’s been one of my more successful grocery shopping experiences. The shops are really well stocked at the moment (other than the essentials) and the reductions shelf at Thorpes is heaven for a bargain hunter. And a lady from our congregation came by today with a huge grocery hamper for us, wanting to bless us and mom and dad. Apparently she is coming back on Monday with a cake (I was out at the time of delivery). So our cupboards, pantry, fridge and freezer are well stocked with all sorts of goodies (just not onions). Somehow I feel like we’re drowning in a sea of chocolates and snacks…they are oozing out of all cupboards, and we just can’t get through them fast enough. Actually, we’ll probably send some stuff back with mom and dad unless they manage to eat their way through everything in a month. Caleb is taking to this whole healthy eating thing, and very crossly tells us the whys and wherefores of what a terrible thing it is that we’re offering him chips and chocolates. Good though, if we can get him into some healthy eating habits at age 5, he’ll live long! Aaron, on the other hand, is a dustbin, and couldn’t care a fig about whether or not his blood is healthy and bones are strong. Thankfully he’s given up his habit of eating toothpaste and eating sugar out the bowl (and the mango trees still have all their leaves).

Not much else going on…we’re really just waiting for time to pass until Tuesday morning. There are 83 passengers aboard the RMS. Tomorrow there is a big street carnival happening, starting at 17h30.

Friday, April 28, 2006

More frantic preparations

Today’s been quite busy so far. With only five days to go, I’m getting all the final housework done and garden sorted out. Today already I’ve cleaned the upstairs windows, dusted, trimmed a tree and a bush, replanted a banana tree, cleaned leaves out of gardens, so that now the back garden is looking as neat as possible. Also a variety of other small things, like re-tidying the bookshelves, tidying the diningroom, washing dishes…the ongoing stuff. This afternoon I have grocery shopping planned (actually I must leave in about 10 minutes – best to do it in the afternoons when the shops are quieter and I can find a parking spot, but can’t go too late because Nick has early Bible Study and I still have to cook). I must also try finish making new net curtains for all the downstairs front windows, which I started yesterday. It’s really just a case of hemming the sides, so not too much effort.

Some sad news on the island …a 7-year-old boy fell off a cliff yesterday (somewhere close to the top of Jacob’s Ladder) and died. Apparently he fell down quite a steep drop, and it took the fire and police services about three or four hours to reach his body. What a tragedy! I hope never to outlive my children.

My parents flew to Cape Town this morning and boarded the RMS St Helena…they will arrive on Tuesday 2 May at 8 am. Much excitement all round!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Heads up, air traffic

I’m very busy getting the house all in order for my parents’ arrival on Tuesday. I bought some netting for new lace curtains for the lounge and diningroom today, and have just barely started that. This has been funded by a lady in the church as she thinks the old curtains are very tatty (which they are). Bless her. Did some more work on the bougainvillea in the front, and the work is finished but it looks pretty awful. I think we left it too long before pruning, so it’s gone quite woody. Might have to give it some more attention (like cutting it all down). Also cleaned up leaves out the garden, back and front, and did a bit of weeding. Went to town with the boys for bread and cheese, updated their scrapbooks, made a tent for them, did a tiny bit of homeschool which involved colouring by numbers from a new activity book Caleb got as a birthday present, did a science experiment with them about magnetism, swept the front garden walkway, did my early morning walk, went for a very quick swim….well, I’m pretty tired.

Some very exciting local news – a big step is being taken with the air access project (airport project). On Tuesday, a chartered flight will be leaving from Walvis Bay and flying over the island, just to make sure there are no surprises from the air. I might be wrong in saying this is the first time in the island’s history that air traffic has been overhead, but I think so…unless wartime situations created other scenarios, but this is pretty big all the same. It will fly over Prosperous Bay and Plain, where the proposed airport will be, but I’m sure the whole island will actually see the airplane.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

50p for a toy?

Well, this time next week I wonder what we will be doing with my parents. I suspect they might be resting and hoping that the house stops rocking soon, or perhaps we’ll go for a bit of a walk around town in the hopes that the fresh air will blow the landlegs right. It’s a funny feeling when one disembarks, although not noticed straight away – but you get so used to the rocking of the ship, that you feel strange again when walking on land. We might also go in search of milk and go check for post. It’s always exciting to check the postbox for anything the ship might have brought, but disappointing if nothing arrives. I’m still waiting for the homeschooling stuff, but doubt it would be coming from the Cape Town direction. If anything, it would come via Ascension.

This morning the boys found 50p in their toybox, and so Caleb wanted to go to The Emporium to buy a toy for Aaron, but I said maybe they should buy chips rather as 50p wasn’t enough for a toy. Of course then they wanted to go immediately, but I wanted to do school first…in the end I compromised and we popped across the road to the corner shop and they bought Smarties (chips out of stock until 2 May). Then we did school, and Caleb read a library book to me (I had prepared flash cards of all the new words, so he had been exposed to them, and therefore did quite well with the book – very slowly and he still forgot the words I had taught him, but he’s making progress all the same). They also painted today. I needed to go to town again later, but by then it had started drizzling and I didn’t feel like going out in that with the boys. We waited a few minutes, and the sun came out and the sky cleared, so we went and stayed dry!

This afternoon, I went through the boys’ clothes, and it was fun. They both patiently tried on almost every item of winter clothing in their drawers, and some new ones from the suitcase of too-big clothes, so now they have some new clothes. It’s wonderful to see that their clothes from last season are too small for them – even little Aaron’s legs and arms have grown. Caleb grew 7 cm in the last year, according to the growth chart we are keeping.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Island shortages again

Mondays are usually a bit of a blah day, and today was no exception. I think that the boys are tired from Sunday night’s late night with church, so they are not on their best behaviour on Mondays. And then we’re doing school again, where they’ve had a break over the weekend and they don’t feel like it, so I have to fight them to get them to co-operate. I went to town during the morning (on my own), and walked around all over trying to get what I needed. I was half successful with my purchases, but could only get powdered skim milk. There is no boxed milk until the ship arrives next week (and no onions, potatoes and I’m sure a whole lot of stuff I haven’t realized is in short supply). This makes supper dishes very tricky – can’t make anything with a cheesy sauce (macaroni, lasagna, tuna casserole) or anything requiring onions (mince dishes, tuna bake, lots of others). Bother. I vacuumed the interior of the car, can’t have it dirty next week, and managed to drop the vacuum cleaner off the outside wall onto the road, so now that’s broken. It still switches on, but sounds like it’s spinning too fast and may well take off or explode. There was another dead mouse in the pantry this morning, but the boys sorted it out for me. The babies are getting caught now – mum and dad are gone, so they have to find their own food. One can almost feel sorry for them, particularly when you see their little paws holding onto the nut, unaware of the surprise that awaits… The boys are constantly hungry, but I have little to offer them other than peanuts and raisins, or chocolate easter eggs. They had bananas, but I can’t think what else to give them as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack that doesn’t contain sugar, sodium or fat. Nick and I are trying to watch what we eat, so are cutting down on the junk – which doesn’t leave much! Poor kids. Maybe cream crackers with Bovril will satisfy. Last night was one of the windiest nights I think I’ve ever experienced. The wind blew hard and long, such that it was noticeably quiet during the few times it dropped. Lots of rain last night too.

Our water is currently discoloured. It’s brownish. You notice it mostly in the bath, but it’s not a pleasant thought knowing that you’re drinking that dirty water too. It’s perfectly harmless, just gross. I think it has something to do with when we were quite dry and the reservoirs almost empty, that the bottom of the dam has gotten mixed up in the water system. Something like that. Apparently they can flush the lines, but are in no hurry to do so (being St Helena).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Head covering becomes necessary

Today’s been the usual quiet Sunday stuff, although the boys and I had a bit of variety this morning by way of visiting Dot. I needed to print out a photo for her from our camera, and she has one of those nifty little photo printers, so we took a chance and walked up the road to her flat. We didn’t stay long, and when I said we should be going, Caleb was out the door like a shot and ran all the way home by himself, without me even realizing that he had left! I spanked him when we got home because he didn’t ask me or tell me he was going, although I was rather proud of him for being so independent.

I started knitting a scarf this morning. I actually wanted to knit a beanie or skull cap (skull cap is a beanie that is smaller) and found a pattern on the internet, but then it seemed a scarf would be easier. I’m going to have to wear these head coverings because Nick has decided a woman should keep her head covered to show her respect. No, not really – it’s just to keep my hair from blowing in my eyes and mouth all the time which is very annoying.

Nick took the boys for a swim this afternoon, and now they are out of the bath and we’re all waiting for supper, which is still a mystery to me. Probably some form or sort of breadie thing. Best I go now and sort us all out.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Aaron has a go with the kite

And the kite flies...

I didn’t blog anything yesterday because I didn’t really have much to report on – yesterday was very uninteresting. The most fun we had was swimming! The boys still think the pool water is okay, but Nick says it is getting a bit cold now. It’s down to about 27 deg. Aaron grazed his knee quite badly on Wednesday, and then fell and got it in the same spot yesterday, and Caleb also fell and hurt his knee. The mercurochrome has come into good use!

Today has been much more newsworthy. Good News Club this morning saw the highest attendance yet, with 23 kids. Nick is still going on with his 10 commandments, and today’s was the 6th, don’t kill. He spoke about not hating people, and not gossiping, and everything that goes with that commandment, so one boy said, “but that’s impossible!” “Quite right”, Nick said, and proceeded to explain that we need God’s forgiveness – he basically explained the gospel very quickly and simply. After the GNC we had a quick lunch of beef burgers on bread (no onions, no tomato, no cheese…) and then headed out to try find some wind. The boys wanted to see if we could get the kite up. We went first to Plantation House, but there were only a few puffs there, so we drove out to Horse Pasture (between Lemon Valley Bay and Dry Gut Bay) on the west of the island, where the camping grounds are, and there, for the first time, Skye Dragon took to the skies. It was awesome – she stayed up for ages, swooping and flapping. The boys thought it was great, and both had a turn holding the control, as did I. Aaron became quite desperate for a poo, and being a camping ground, there were facilities: one lone long-drop. He said it was stinky and was concerned about falling through the hole, but I’m sure the relief outweighed the inconvenience. After that the winds subsided (hmm) and we went home, with the boys singing “We are Christian soldiers, marching to the wall” in the back of the car. We picked some wild flowers on the way home, some of them Nick got by reaching out his window, and others I got out of the car to pick.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Insurance Matters

Thursday night has rolled around, and I’m really at a bit of a loose end. I have many things that I suppose I could be doing, like making necklaces or reading a book or tidying out the Tupperware cupboard, and I’m sure I’ll get to something just now. We’ve recently caught three or four mice in quick succession (following the initial drowning), so I’m a bit wary of the pantry, though I need to clean that again too.

Today has really been quite a dull day, though at the end of it I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Should I tell what I was up to? Went for a walk, did two loads of washing, made two fitted sheets for the boys’ beds, remade their beds with clean linen, tidied their room, walked to the library with them to select new books, bought bread from Spar and waited for ages to cut it, during which time it rained quite hard and then the sun came out again, read five library books, made rice-krispie marshmallow thingies, ironed a few shirts, cut down more long stems from the bougainvillea, and all the other usual household stuff. Fun hey?

The Atlantic Rose, which lost its moorings and was consequently sunk last week, is being hauled up again and the whole matter investigated. There might be some or other insurance terms which were not met or something like that, and apparently someone wants to use the boat to pump something…I didn’t get the whole story, but I just know that it’s being investigated. Along those lines, there are a lot of car fires on the island – amazingly, for such a small island, that so many of these car fires spontaneously happen. Of course, if your car gets burned, you can just put in a claim and get a new one. Coincidence? We think not…

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Good News Club and HIV Screening

We’re very tired after a day of many children…the Good News Club had an outing today, at the Sandy Bay Community Centre. We had about 19 kids or so, and 6 adults, and it was a great day. The kids were picked up at the Pilling Primary School (across the road from us) in a yellow school bus at 10 am. We had to take our car because we had the guitars and overhead projector, so too much for the bus. The community centre used to be a school, but no longer in use (not enough children). It wasn’t bad, we spent most of the time in a big room with a concrete floor and Christmas decorations strung across the ceiling. There was quite a lot of rain off and on, but when it wasn’t raining the kids ran around outside with a few footballs, or tried to wrestle Nick to the ground. We also played hide and seek, sack races, tug of war…it was super fun. We opened with some singing, but after lugging the OHP and guitars there, discovered that we (I) had left the music file at home, so all we could do were a few songs that the kids knew by heart, and only two of those with accompaniment as we didn’t know the chords for the others. Doh!

There’s been a lot of news lately about the airport and HIV/AIDS and screening of migrant workers. Initially the decision was taken not to screen for HIV, but the island is presently thought to be HIV free, and the people were NOT happy about all and sundry coming to the island for long periods of time. The concern is a real one, because the morality here is, well, not very good, so the risk of infection is high. An airport team came over from the UK to get a feel of things here, and heard the outcry against their decision to not screen. This information has all now been taken back to the UK, so the airport people MIGHT reconsider their decision. If they do, and they screen all workers, it will delay the airport project quite significantly and it will have to be reapproved by the UK. Makes you wonder whether the only reason they didn’t want to screen was to save time and money.

It’s 20h15 now and Nick has just come to say goodnight…he’s even tirederer than I am!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Opening presents

Caleb turns 5

Caleb’s birthday came and went today in a very quiet sort of way. We did his present-hunt this morning, and he opened and played with everything before breakfast. We went out for lunch at Ardees, and then hired a video for the afternoon, since the weather wasn’t too great anyway. We didn’t know what Svetlana’s plans were going to be during the day, but as it happened she was out for most of the morning, and then came and watched some of the video with us. We saw her off at the docks at 4 pm, but as I write now (18h48), the ship is still in the harbour. It was supposed to have left at 18h00. It will arrive in Walvis on Saturday, and then continue down to Cape Town. Oh yes, I also went to the hospital first thing this morning to get Caleb’s belly button looked at – today was the post-op checkup. The surgeon is very happy with it, and I must say, it does look a lot better even than Sunday. (Ah, the ship’s horn is just sounding now, 19h05).

As I mentioned previously, we saw Svetlana off at the docks. It was good that we did this, because now we know the procedure for when my parents leave in June. Very simple – luggage needs to be dropped off earlier during the day, and then passengers need to be at the docks at a certain time and wait for a bus which comes from the pier to the place where everyone is waiting. That’s how one knows that it’s time to board. It’s an easy little walk, but for some reason (I think safety), they transport RMS passengers by bus.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Outside the Sandy Bay Chapel


Svetlana, Nick and the boys and I were at the sunrise service yesterday morning. It was truly wonderful to be out there so early in the morning, although very cold and windy. The Salvation Army Band was set up, and played the accompaniment to a few Easter songs, interspersed with a few readings, then Nick delivered his sermonette. What an incredible message it was. He spoke about the fact that the women had gone to the tomb to clean Jesus’ body – he had had a very crude burial, so his body would have not looked good. The woman were probably not at all looking forward to doing this, but out of love and devotion to Him they wanted to do it properly. They saw the tomb empty, and then saw Jesus. When the disciples came running and saw the empty tomb, they didn’t believe that the women had seen Jesus, and it was only later that evening that He appeared to them. So they actually spent the whole day in confusion, not knowing what had happened to the body. It really just opened up the resurrection to me in a new way, and I think also being outside in the early morning brought it home that much more. Got home, and after a quick breakfast, the boys looked for their eggs which had been hidden downstairs (not outside). They found them all pretty quickly (there weren’t that many of them), and then of course wanted to start eating them. We let them have one big egg. I think, though, that most of the Easter eggs must have melted in the containers on the ship coming over and reformed, because the chocolate just tastes weird and looks old. Quite a pity, but just one of those St Helena things you deal with. Nick had to get going for church, and Svetlana and I spent the morning at home, just reading and relaxing. Later in the afternoon, we were all feeling quite bored (except for Nick who was just feeling tired), so we walked down town to Castle Gardens and spent a bit of time there. The boys ran around and looked at the tiny fish in the pond, and it rained a bit so we sat on a bench under a tree. Then we walked home again. Evening church was excellent. Nick preached on the resurrection body, one of my favourite topics, and I even took notes. He clarified some confusion about our heavenly bodies.

Today was a very quiet day – we thought we would go out somewhere, but only got going after lunch, after spending the morning doing this and that. We took a drive to Sandy Bay and walked around a bit at the beach. There were a couple of people there enjoying the public holiday, and some ex-pats who had really gotten themselves nicely set up with a braai and salads and stuff. Their kids were playing in a little stream which ran into the ocean, building a dam or something with lots of mud. Looked like fun.

Aaron was his usual naughty self today. He ate toothpaste, sugar, and tore leaves off the mango plant – the three things which he constantly gets hidings for. I told him that if he wants to he may brush his teeth, but may not just eat the toothpaste. He thought that was a good idea. Caleb is very excited about his birthday tomorrow. I don’t know quite yet what our plans are, but we’re not really having a party – will be postponed until my folks are here. Tomorrow we have to go to the hospital at 9 am for the surgeon to check her work.

Evidence suggested that a mouse had taken up residence in the pantry again, so I asked Nick to set the trap earlier today. I needed to get some tea from the pantry a bit later, and wondered if the mouse had been caught. I carefully opened the door and peeped in, and saw the mousetrap moving around. The poor mouse had been caught but only on its shoulder, so it was wriggling around and probably in lots of pain. Nick had to retrieve it and on Svetlana’s suggestion, drowned it (seemed much cleaner than clubbing it to death). I was completely disgusted but the boys took it all in with interest. We explained to them that it was better to drown it than to let it suffer in the trap.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Changing the dressing

Hospital visitation

Svetlana came by yesterday morning to drop off her suitcase and some groceries, and then went to the hospital because she was on call. She couldn’t come to the service unfortunately, but we all went off to Knollcombes for the 10.30 combined service. I had invited Steve and Maureen to join us for tea in the afternoon, which they did, and I supplied hot cross buns – so it was a proper Good Friday after all! Very pleasant and relaxed afternoon chatting in the lounge.

This morning we put together a picnic lunch and took it to Plantation House. Svetlana was quite keen on seeing the tortoises. Did a short walk through the forest, but it was very damp and muddy, as it rained a little bit early this morning (the rest of the day was as hot as February!). From there we went straight to the pool, and Nick and the boys and Svetlana had a dip. The boys didn’t stay in too long because the pool was a bit cooler than they are used to – I don’t know how much longer we will be able to swim. Caleb’s bandage, which had been steadily coming off more and more, finally lost its waterproofing, so we took it off altogether. The swelling seems to have gone down a little and his belly button is definitely receding and looking a bit more like a belly button. I was quite pleased to see the improvement, and hopefully Caleb was a bit encouraged. It still looks very bulgy underneath, but we’ll see what Dr Kardam says about that on Tuesday. When we went to the hospital this afternoon for hospital visitation, I asked the nurses for another one, and Svetlana applied it at home. About the hospital visitation, we had it scheduled as part of our Easter services, and a group of about seven of us went. S stayed here and babysat (yippee). Nick and I sang twice, the same song, once upstairs and once downstairs. It was almost heartbreaking to see some of the elderly patients. I have been reading Leota’s Garden, about a very old lady and the events surrounding her life (a Francine Rivers novel), and I just wondered what goes on inside these old people. They have a lifetime of experiences and usefulness, and now here they are, too old to look after themselves, sometimes not able to speak, and I thought it so sad that they have now outlived their apparent usefulness and in some cases, they are just discarded. No one really cares about their wellbeing, although the nurses do look after them very nicely I’m sure. It just made me sad. We invited the visitation people back to our place for tea, since they had all come a distance and it seemed a long way to drive just for half an hour of visiting, and they stayed quite long. That made supper late, but it was chips and fish fingers, so easy enough.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Needle in a haystack or toy in a container?

We’ve had our Maundy Thursday service at the church. It was a lovely service, Nick preached on Gethsemane. Nick and I sang a duet, which I think went well.

Last night’s dinner with Svetlana was very nice. She will be staying with us from tomorrow until she leaves on Tuesday. I cleaned out the single spare room today, even emptying some cupboard space. It was a good thing to do because it needed a tidy-up anyway!

Had to go to the docks today to see if we could get hold of the package Scilla arranged for us, with the Transformers for Caleb. Now imagine this: there are seven or eight very large containers (each the size of a single garage), each one filled to the top with boxes, furniture, bicycle tyres, etc. You have to try look at every parcel in every container to see if it’s yours! Quite a nightmare? They have a list of everything that is in the containers, with the container number next to it, so you at least have an idea of where to start looking. However, our item wasn’t listed, we couldn’t find it anywhere on their documentation. So I had as much of a look as I could but didn’t spot it. The customs officials and other people are all very sympathetic, and I explained that I needed this package urgently because of Caleb having his birthday on Tuesday, and it being Easter weekend and so on…eventually went to have a look in another place, and the chap there said there was a box for the Baptist Church, which turned out to be one of the boxes of books we were expecting. Nick was thrilled about that! They didn’t charge me any import or wharfage duties on the box, saying that since it’s for the church it’s free. Well, well. Anyway, so then I had the box of books but no birthday present. Had to get some shopping done for the weekend, and pay the telephone bill, and buy a small present for Caleb from Aaron, so I did all that. It started raining, quite hard, while I was in Spar, so I waited a while and then ran for it when it eased a bit. It was quite fun, really, some people were just walking at their normal pace, others were standing in phone booths for cover…and everyone laughing about the rain. Did I tell you that we’ve had enough rain now? The reservoirs are full to overflowing, and we are very thankful to the Lord who sends rain. Had a busy afternoon cleaning the house, and typing out songs and orders of service and things like that for Nick. The boys played outside in the blow-up pool which was FULL of rain water, caught from the gutter. By this time the sun was shining again. I was just about to phone the hospital, wondering if perhaps my package hadn’t gotten mixed up with Scilla’s ophthalmic consignment, when the phone rang and it was one of the chaps from the docks who runs the catalogue shop, who said he’d found my parcel. Can you believe it! We quickly went and collected it, and are so relieved to have it in hand now. That’s one of the lovely things of living in a small place and everyone knowing everyone. He phoned me purely out of the goodness of his heart, and I hadn’t even left my phone number with him or anything. Nick and I had to open both transformers just to be sure that they work, you know, and they do. Very complicated. We’ll give only one to him on Tuesday, and then if I can keep Nick from bursting, we’ll save the other one for his birthday next year, because it’s so tricky.

Oh oh, I bought hot cross buns today, so now it can really be Easter. I was so pleased to find some at Spar. I went there at about 11 and needed enough bread for the weekend, because they probably won’t bake on Saturday, but of course by then it had all sold out already, so all I got was one miserable loaf of Turkestan bread (brown) for 90p. Not bad tasting, but quite dense and expensive! Potatoes have already come and gone in Spar, and eggs are a rare find. Maureen gave me six this evening, yippee, which she had sourced from a special secret agent. They were intended for Jean, but she accidentally dropped them and three broke, so she asked if I wouldn’t mind just doing something with them. The three brokens are in a container in the fridge now waiting to be scrambled or omeletted.

I made a little advent calendar today to stick on the fridge, which has a countdown to Caleb’s birthday and then to my parents’ arrival on 2 May. Every day we’ll cross of a day. I might make little messages on there for myself too, like “uh oh, better start dusting!” and “yikes, haven’t taken the kite off the top of the cupboard yet, best attend to that today…”. Hee hee.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sometimes being a mom is just not nice!

Had a pretty rotten day, fighting with the boys a lot. Caleb has become very disobedient and willful since his op, I think because he knows we’re not supposed to smack him or cause him undue stress to make him cry – so he’s pushing the limits. Aaron’s just full of nonsense. His latest delight is eating toothpaste. Fortunately it’s quite minty, so I can smell it easily…so he busies himself upstairs for a while, then comes down all innocently but gets a smack all the same. I won’t even go into the other annoyances I faced today with island life, because I’ll just get that annoyed feeling again!

We had Svetlana to dinner again this evening, and she may be staying with us for a few days before going back to SA on Tuesday. I think it will be fun. The boys love her, and we could go out for walks and things (leaving Nick to carry on with his stuff). And a change is as good as a holiday, which I badly need! I don’t think I can even hang in another 2 weeks and 6 days for one…

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Easter Preparation

Nick and I have just finished watching quite a funny movie, and now I’m listening to it again in German – full German audio!

Had a very quiet day other than the docks to get our box from Ascension. It rained most of the day, or at least was gloomy and damp most of the day. I think the sun was out for a little while, but the rain definitely won today. It’s excellent that we’re getting so much, but I still don’t know if it’s falling in the right places. I haven’t heard on the news yet if the hosepipe restriction has been lifted, but of course we haven’t needed to water!

Nick is going well with his prep, still two more messages to prepare, and two more days to do them in. He finished his Good Friday message today. No bible study tonight, because of Maundy Thursday – the Sandy Bay and Head o’Wain people won’t have a study, therefore the others can’t either, otherwise they will be out of sync with the Jamestown and Knollcombes people. Nice little break though, but it’s going to be a heavy weekend. I was saying to Nick earlier that I really miss being in SA at times like these – we would probably have gone to my parents after our Good Friday service at CPBC for hot cross buns, then stayed the day and gone to whatever evening service was on offer at Honeyridge. I also miss April’s weather in Gauteng. There’s a particular feeling in the air, where summer is over but winter’s not quite around the corner yet. We haven’t experienced that here yet, perhaps it will still come. At the moment it’s either blazing hot and humid, or warm and damp and rainy. But at least the washing gets dry!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Clevely Island Tours

This afternoon I became a tour guide! I had just realized at about 2.40 pm that Nick had a guitar pupil coming at 3, so I initiated a quick tidy-up, with the boys, of the lounge, which hadn’t recovered yet from being a sick bed room – all of Caleb’s distractions and amusements were still lying all over. We were just into that when the doorbell rang, and the ringer was the chaplain on the Saga Ruby, which docked earlier this afternoon, and sails again this evening. He and his wife are Baptists, so they came to see if the island’s Baptist Minister was home, since they had called at the Anglican church and he advised them to try here. They needed a bit of Baptist fellowship! They have been on board the ship since the beginning of January, literally sailing around the world, and return home to the UK in two weeks’ time. He is newly retired, and was offered this position as ship’s chaplain. It’s fully paid-for, what a marvelous adventure for them! So we chatted a bit and had tea and some coconut fingers which thankfully were left over from yesterday, and then I offered to take them for a quick drive around the island, since they had only seen Jamestown which is very boring compared to the beauty inland. The boys came with, and Nick stayed home to teach guitar. I took them up Ladder Hill to Plantation House, then Knollcombes (Boer Cemetery), and then all the way to Bluehill. Then we turned around and came back, stopping at the top of Jacob’s Ladder for them to get the view down. We saw many of their fellow passengers all over the island, on guided tours mostly. The boys chatted non-stop to Yvonne in the back, and I relayed some bits of island interest to Frank. Since I didn’t have anything particular planned for today, I was very glad that I could help them. Yvonne has two grandsons aged 6 and 4, so related very well to Caleb and Aaron.

This morning I took Caleb’s bandage off, and we were all very disappointed at the result, including Caleb. It’s a huge cut, about 7 cm, from the top of his belly button all the way around and down a bit, and another cut across the top. It looks exactly the same as it did before, absolutely no difference in aesthetics. I tried to take a photo, but Caleb tearfully refused, saying it’s too ugly. We went to the hospital at 11 to get a new bandage put on, and the nurse also commented that it didn’t look much different. We’re hoping that when the wound has healed it will look slightly better, and also that as the swelling goes down and Caleb grows, the skin will be a bit absorbed into the rest of his body! Very disappointing though. We were expecting a small cut, maybe 2 cm or so, definitely not this huge one. But at least the muscles underneath have been pulled together, so there is no risk anymore with the hernia.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Save or Sink?

It’s 17h30 and a half an hour to go before the ship puffs in from the UK. We could see it on the horizon half an hour ago as a dot, so that’s quite exciting. We had a super afternoon at Jean and Joe’s house, with Steve, Maureen and Scilla, and Jean’s daughter, Sharon. We ate! There was roast beef, roast potatoes, gammon, fried drumsticks, chow-chow*, coleslaw, green salad, rice, curry, green beans…and lots of it. We all ate well, even the boys had a good helping. Caleb’s appetite is back to normal. For pudding there was ice-cream, ice-cream roll, jelly, trifle and a cream tart. Then there were also Quality Streets. For afternoon tea, a few hours later, we had roast beef sandwiches, cream crackers and cheese, coconut fingers, fruit cake, marshmallows, biscuits…you couldn’t possibly have had even a little of everything, there was just so much! But it was a lovely afternoon, very relaxed. The boys sort of mucked around, played with some dinky cars I had found on special at the Emporium**, chatted to everyone, ate lots of stuff, and generally were fine.

*Chow-chow is a vegetable which looks like a big green, prickly, pear. Not a prickly-pear, just a prickly pear. It has a texture similar to a pear but tastes more like potato, and is pear-coloured, Rather a vague vegetable really, and somewhat vague in taste. Not bad, just not very good either.

**The reductions shelf should never be missed. I had seen a micro-machine car for £10.33 and thought maybe I’d get it for Caleb’s birthday, if anyone gave him money. It’s a tiny little car which also comes with a pen, and is supposed to be remote controlled by infrared. The one on the reduction shelf wasn’t working, and was marked down to 99p. I thought that’s not bad for a little car and pen anyway, even if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. The cashier asked if I didn’t want another one, since she knows I have the two boys, but I said I didn’t have enough money on me. So she said I could have them for 50p each! We’re going to see if we can find new batteries, because perhaps that’s the problem, and then we would have saved ourselves £19.66…

Apparently a fishing vessel has gone into the rocks – its anchor broke and it drifted, and now its hull has been compromised. At the moment its 12-ton bulk is being held up with a crane, so a decision has to be made whether to let it sink, or try patch it up with quick-drying cement. It’s of critical urgency because the RMS is now due in 15 minutes, and the crane is needed for that. Now if the crane breaks…

Sunday, April 09, 2006

10 Commandments

It’s 3 pm on Saturday, and a very quiet day we’ve had, other than Good News Club. As you know, Nick’s been doing the series on the 10 commandments, and did the 5th one today. The whole series is having such an impact on the boys that they are incorporating them into their daily prayers…”please help me not to lie” etc…it’s very funny to hear Aaron asking God to help him not to commit adultery.

Caleb is very much improved today. He’s walking around a lot, albeit slowly and a little hunched over, but there is a huge difference since yesterday. He slept well, only waking up once to ask us to turn him over as he had found his way onto his stomach and couldn’t roll over. I haven’t seen what his belly button looks like yet because it’s all covered over, and he doesn’t want us to have a look.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Still at the Hospital

Caleb’s take on yesterday: “For one night I was at the hospital and I was waiting for my cut in my skin to heal cause I had an operation and my belly button’s got inside now and not outside anymore and mom was at home and dad and Aaron were at home and I was at the hospital with the nurses and the nurses looked after me. And I’m feeling better now.”

Nick dropped me off at the hospital shortly after 7. It was raining and very windy this morning so I didn’t want to walk up. Caleb was looking so much better. He was just sitting with the bed propped up, looking like his normal self. I helped him have a wee in the potty again, and since he’d had a drip in the whole night, there was lots of it! A nurse came and unhooked the drip and capped off the plug in his arm, leaving the drip attachment in. Caleb was concerned that this shouldn’t stay in his arm very much longer, certainly that it should be taken out before we came home! Svetlana, the anaesthetist and fellow-Pretorian, came in to see him at about 8.20 and chatted a while, then Dr Kardam came after 9 to check on him, and declared him fine to go home. We have to go back to the hospital on Monday for the dressing to be changed, and then again on the 18th to see the doctor. The stitches are on the inside, and will dissolve away. So then we got the drip thingie taken out, which made him cry because the tape was stuck fast to his arm. I got him dressed, and then we spent the rest of the morning while waiting for Nick, reading, chatting, and playing with the little things I had bought for him. Nick came at 10.45 and carried Caleb to the car, and from the car to the couch. Caleb’s only walked about four steps since the op because he says he can’t. He’s being quite dramatic about the whole thing and isn’t moving around very much at all, which is a good thing, but will get rather tiresome! Anyway, we’re watching another video this afternoon when Nick gets back from prison ministry. Aaron has become his right-hand boy, fetching things for him and doing what Caleb commands, though quite reluctantly.

The really strange thing about hospitalization here was the lack of cost. Everything was free for Caleb, being a British citizen. Therefore there was no admission process, we were just shown to the ward, and no discharge clearance either – we just walked out when we were ready! All very nice. I was fed quite well during my day yesterday too, with beef and rice for lunch, with pudding, and tea and sandwiches during the afternoon. So my impression of the hospital is positive. The nurses have been excellent too, giving Caleb a lot of attention and care.

Tonight is the night of my dad's 70th birthday party. I am so sad to be missing it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Caleb in Hospital

All about the Op

We got to the hospital at 7 am this morning, and had a bit of a wait in the waiting area before we were shown to the ward, where we picked a bed and Caleb sat on it. The nurses came around eventually to do the blood pressure and heart rate checks, weighed him, all that stuff, and then they smeared cream on the tops of both his hands, which would help with the pain of the drips going into his hands (not sure why they did this exactly, because he was under anaesthetic when the drips went in). Then they put a sticky plastic covering over the cream to keep it there. Caleb was handed a hospital gown which came to just below his knees and made him look rather angelic. He didn’t want his shorts removed, so I kept those on him. All this took until about 9 am, and then we had to wait some more. Eventually the orderly came for him at about 10.15. Up until now, Caleb had been happy and not at all scared, but when we walked through the theatre doors, the drama began. I think it started when the orderly said I wouldn’t actually be staying in the theatre with him, but could stay until he was asleep. We had been telling Caleb that I would be with him the whole time, so that might have thrown him. Then of course he saw all the machinery and the doctors standing by, and it became a little too real. Unfortunately no pre-med had been given (long story), so it was straight onto the operating table with all his faculties intact. He almost escaped out the theatre doors because confusion and chaos set in – Caleb screaming in terror, all the doctors and nurses giving conflicting instructions, me unsure as to whether they wanted me to put him on the table, or remove myself altogether…finally the orderly picked him up, pinned him onto the table with sheer brute force, and they quickly applied the gas mask. By this time I was in a state, but fortunately the gas took effect very quickly and Caleb calmed down and was out, though he was still drawing in big ragged breaths from all the crying. I was then firmly told that he was asleep and I may leave. Eventually he came back to the ward at 12.00 – I thought the op would only take about 40 minutes, so was getting quite concerned by then, but as it turned out the surgeon was just very slow, and the operation was successful and uncomplicated. When Caleb came around from the anaesthetic, he cried a lot from the pain, and cried off and on the rest of the day. They had given him a suppository in theatre, and then gave him a pethadine injection back in the ward because he said it was very sore. He also needed to cough, and the coughing made the pain worse, which made him cry more, which made him cough more…quite bad. He vomited a little from the pethadine. At one point in the afternoon Caleb realized that he was wearing neither shorts nor underpants, and looked at me in horror and asked why they were off. I explained that they had to take them off during the operation, and he was so upset that I quickly put just his underpants back on. I think for him it was the gravest indignity imaginable. I had to leave at 4.30, for Nick to get to bible study. Poor Caleb was desperately unhappy that he had to stay and begged me to let him come home – heartbreaking, but it wasn’t my decision.

Aaron was completely happy the whole day and unaware that his buddy was missing. No wonder, he had been watching videos all day! I expected him to at least be a little bit sad, but the only time he registered anything was now at bedtime when I said we must pray for Caleb who was sad to be sleeping in hospital, and then he realized that he missed Caleb and wanted him home. But still not overly upset.

I was called back to the hospital at 7.30 tonight, because Caleb had been vomiting, so they needed to give him a suppository, but wanted a parent present (I don’t know why, they really should be able to handle that sort of stuff, but I guess they were anticipating a fight). I quickly phoned Steve who came to babysit Aaron, and I half walked, half ran up to the hospital – good thing I’m getting plenty of exercise to be fit! When I got there he was chirpy and bright and playing with some toys the nurses had found somewhere. I got him to have a wee in a potty, and then they gave him two supps. I stayed for about 40 minutes and he was fine when I left, though still wanting to come home, but did manage to blow me a kiss. It was good for me to see him then, because I am more at ease as to his present condition and frame of mind. He said that the people (the nurses) kept coming and going and he was trying to rest, so eventually he made them all go out. I asked if he had been polite and he said no, he just said “stop talking” to them all. Oh dear.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rain and petrol

We’re all systems go for Caleb’s op tomorrow. He’s a bit scared I think, and says he doesn’t want them to fix his belly button anymore because he doesn’t want them cutting his skin. I guess up until now it’s all been very theoretical, but now that we’re explaining what they’re going to do, it’s a bit too real. He’s also worried that he’s going to feel it, despite our reassurances that he will be put to sleep, because he says that you only don’t feel things when you’re dead! I had to go to the hospital today to meet with the anaesthetist, so she could do a quick check-up to see that he’s healthy for anaesthetic, but waited for an hour, after which time the surgeon saw me, had me sign a consent form, and sent me home. The anaesthetist, Svetlana, happens to live in Pretoria and is here on a locum - small world. She was busy with other anaesthetics, so said she would just do all the vitals tomorrow morning. So a bit of a wasted hour, but no worries. Anyway, who should come calling at about 7.45 pm but Svetlana! She was on call at the hospital but came down to do her checks on Caleb. How’s that for service and care!

I was overcome with joy to find a sellotape dispenser, which I’ve been needing for ages. Wrapping presents is a real hassle when you have to cut little pieces of sticky tape and stick them to something while you’re holding down the paper around the presentation object. I might even go back and buy another one for downstairs, since it was only £1 and came with five rolls of tape! Aaron came wandering into my room when I was gazing contentedly at my dispenser and asked what it was. So I tore off a few pieces and stuck them on him. He looked at me with such indignation and almost shouted, “I’M not a present!!!” I laughed and laughed.

In the news lately is that there is an island-wide hosepipe and sprinkler restriction. Apparently the water situation is critical and there are reserves for only another 50 days, if we have no rain. Surprising, because there has been some good rain lately, but I guess it’s falling in the wrong areas and the island doesn’t have proper catchment facilities. The price of petrol has just gone up by 20% and is now something like 96p per liter. Hearsay is that the airport will definitely not be finished by 2010, if anything by 2012. It might actually get started in 2010.

Nick has a very busy week ahead. He is preaching at all the easter services – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday (sunrise service and normal services), bible studies, hospital visitation on the 15th, drug awareness talk on Friday…it’s non stop until the 17th, then it’s Caleb’s birthday, then a Good News Club outing on the 19th. He’s going to be plumb tuckered out! He’s busy with prep at the moment, trying to get Sunday’s sermon finished, then tomorrow he can start on next week’s Bible Study, and so it goes. Last night he started his series on Samuel, starting off with Hannah. Very good, and fresh content for me. We had a full house last night, and so much food…but they are not bringing as much sweet stuff anymore, so we had nice left-overs for lunch today – pizza, fishcakes, quiche, pies, eggs…quite a feast.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

How not to cook chips

Caleb did so well with his reading this morning. He is remembering almost all the flashcards now, and some words which had him puzzled he is getting. Poor Aaron gets a little neglected because I can’t actively teach Caleb and amuse Aaron, so usually have to send him into the lounge to occupy himself with library books. Sometimes Nick will read to him or do a puzzle with him. Had a disaster with the chips for supper as the oil was too hot and boiled over when I put the chips in, so had to turn off the gas, clean up all the oil, remove the few chips that had gone in and started cooking, reheat the oil and start over. Fortunately nothing caught fire. Just delayed me though, so I had to type Nick’s outline for tonight during supper. I’m really feeling so tired today, I think from this morning’s bout of exercise. My legs are a bit sore, hopefully they won’t be too bad tomorrow. I went further up the ladder than previously, so obviously had further to come down which I think is the part that makes stiff muscles.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Nick went off this evening to a deacons’ meeting this evening – he had to leave at 4.30 to fetch someone, to be in time for the meeting at 6. Imagine my surprise when Vincent and Vilma arrived at about 5.50 for the meeting, and me still in my painting clothes, the lounge a mess…fortunately I knew it wasn’t at our house and they had gotten their wires crossed, but they eventually convinced me that it was being held here this evening…so a very quick tidy-up followed! It just didn’t occur to me that it was being held here, as sometimes it’s at the Sandy Bay Chapel, and Nick forgot to tell me! Ha ha ha.

Last night’s service was good; Nick preached on the Samaritan Woman.

Today I finished off the peach painting. You can see it in the photo. I had to redo a whole wall, and cloud it instead of having it solid, because it was oppressively peachy. That took about two hours, but thankfully it’s done and looks better and brighter. Also popped out to town very briefly, and then just spent some time cleaning the house (clearly not the lounge) and other odd jobs.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Braai and my darling little thief

We had quite a heavy shower of rain this morning, definitely the most we’ve seen in one go on the island. It rained solidly for about an hour, after which all the clouds went away and it turned into another hot and sunny day. Good News Club was in our diningroom again, and it was fine. We introduced a few new songs in the hopes that it would take up more time, which it did – we had no outdoor activity planned because everything was still wet. Nick is still busy with the 10 commandments, and today’s was the 4th, about keeping the Sabbath day holy. He was very pleased at their attentiveness, although I felt that generally they had shuffled around a lot (the wooden floors make a nice noise), but he said they had been listening.

We had a braai at the Sandy Bay chapel today. We didn’t bother taking very much because we assumed there would be a lot of food anyway, and we were correct. There were loads of chicken drumsticks and pork chops, and some pork sausages too. Most of the stuff had been pre-cooked, then the ladies drench it in marinade or BBQ sauce and it gets heated up on the fire, which makes for a very delicious piece of meat. Nick was about to give thanks for the food, with everyone quiet and heads bowed, when Caleb, on his own initiative, gave the thanks. There are no water facilities anywhere at the church, so it made washing hands and drinking water quite a problem.

I was reading a library book to the boys earlier, and Aaron was looking a little strange. Every time I looked down at him, he said “nothing” and acted suspicious. Eventually I pulled his hands out from their hiding place behind his back to find a banana sweet which he had helped himself to, clutched in his fist. He was obviously waiting for an opportune moment to eat it, while I wasn’t looking. I had to laugh.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Boerey Rolls

I walked to the library with the boys this morning, I’m trying to walk down a lot more with them rather than driving. It’s good exercise for all of us, and they are getting better and better at the walk. After the library I smelled boerewors rolls being cooked, and since it was rather close to lunch time by then, I phoned Nick from town and he drove down to join us, so we had our rolls at Castle Gardens. Yummy! Walking back down to the car, which he’d parked at the docks, we had to pass by the ice-cream truck (it’s a little shop on wheels, you know the sort), so Nick and I just had to have a caramel dipped soft-serve each.