Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Friendly friends

Today I had an arrangement to meet Cindy and go to Rosemary Plain, because we’re all on school holidays. We had a super morning, Cindy and I chatting up a storm about life, the universe and everything in between, while the kids eventually got themselves going with some good playing. It took a while for them to find their groove and play together without hanging around where the food and moms were, but after a little while they clicked and had fun.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday rush

It’s a good thing that we’re on school holiday, because I’m sure I wouldn’t have had time for school today! I started the day with grocery shopping just after 9 am, but first had to go to the bank and post office. There was a letter for me in the post from Mrs Collins, my old German teacher! Lovely to hear from her. It’s always nice receiving things in the actual post, although e-mails are great too. Then I started on the actual shopping, first at Spar, then at Thorpes. I had parked just outside Thorpes, so it was easy to get the milk from the wholesalers, and carry all the parcels in one go. I left the car there and walked around to Queen Mary’s for some more things on my list, then Tinkers for the cold stuff, although I only procured frozen veggies from there. Anyway, was just walking back to the car when I spotted Elsa, who returned from holiday in SA yesterday. As it turns out, she was on a mission to find me…she stopped by the house, and Nick of course told her that I was out shopping, so she asked Nick if she could take me out for coffee if she found me. Then she went from shop to shop asking if anyone had seen me…isn’t that nice? Since I was finished with my shopping, I was delighted to accept an invitation to the Coffee Co, where she treated me to a chocolate milkshake. It was wonderful to catch up with her and hear all about their holiday. We had a wonderful time chatting, but at about 11.45 I had to get going because I needed bread from Spar still, and then to get home to feed the starving flock. After lunch I headed off to Lorna for our usual beading. Today I started making lemonade from the lemons I have left…I have a lot of very little beads, in all shapes and colours, so have started making bag dangles, which I think will sell nicely with the girls. I got home from Lorna just after 3 pm, after stopping off at the HTH Spar for fish, and then since Nick’s guitar pupils had cancelled due to their driveway being flooded (heavy rains this morning, briefly, followed by an excessively hot day), I suggested that we go to the docks and see if there was a box for us, which we were expecting, from Scilla, containing photocopier toners and paper and cardboard for the holiday club. The box was there, which we were very happy about…we haven’t had bulletins since the end of last year! Got home and unpacked that, sat around for approximately five minutes, and then went swimming, all of us. The water was lovely and it was great to be in the pool. Some of the girls from GNC were there, and Callum too. Home at 4.45, then I had to get supper going, which was a tuna curry, except with only about a quarter teaspoon of curry so you couldn’t even detect it. I enjoyed it, but I think I stood alone there! I finally had a chance to unpack the groceries while the stew was simmering…

I had an opportunity to chat to a friend about the Lord today, which was sparked off by me asking if she wouldn’t mind not taking His name in vain all the time. It grates me to hear the constant blasphemy. She was quite taken aback and said she meant it more as a prayer, which was a good springboard for me to question her a bit further. Why do people think that God owes them something – she felt that God had let her down over the last years and so is on the fence as far as ‘religion’ goes. The fact is that we can count our blessings that God shows us any mercy at all and doesn’t simply stamp us out, being so wickedly sinful!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Party on!

We went to Georgie’s birthday party this afternoon It was nice – only about six boys there, but that was plenty! Lots of noise and shouting, but they had fun. Svetlana had arranged a black forest cake to be made, which was delicious, although of course the kids only really ate the cake part and left the cream.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lunch in the garden

Yesterday was our last day of school for the term – we made it! I don’t feel that I was desperate for a holiday, but it’s a welcome break anyway. Actually this last week was quite good, on the whole. Aaron is seeing the letters he’s learned all over the place now and pointing them out to us. Nick took the car in to the garage yesterday morning because there’s been a clunking noise coming out of it, but since the garage didn’t have a loan car, he walked home. After school we all walked to town for bread and to get a DVD for later, and decided to have lunch at Castle Gardens. We bought rolls and chips, to make chip rolls. Got some slush puppies from Sally’s, and sat down on a bench in the garden for a leisurely lunch. It was great – it started drizzling a bit while we were there, but it wasn’t bothersome. The boys found a trail of ants which led into a tree, and were bubbling over with excitement at how many ants there were. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many ants in one place either – they seemed to have a home in a huge tree, with trails of them diligently scurrying up and down the tree from all sides and trailing quite far around the paths in the garden. Nick spent the afternoon cementing the back wall, canceling the prison ministry due to lack of transport (carrying a guitar down the road would be very hard work). We got the car back during the afternoon, sans the noise.

This afternoon we watched Ice Age 2 together. Nick and I laughed our heads off, but Caleb thought it was too scary and started crying, and eventually left the lounge. No amount of persuading could get him to continue watching. When it was nearly finished he came back to see the happy ending. There is a thread running through the movie of a saber-toothed squirrel and his acorn which keeps on eluding him, which is actually very funny, but Caleb felt sorry for the squirrel all the time. It was just too much for him when all the animals seemed to be drowning during the ice age meltdown!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Marine Awareness Week

We went to the Consulate Hotel today, where there has been a marine awareness display on the go for the week. The display was very interesting, with an interactive computer program all about marine life, which Caleb took a liking to, and a DVD playing on a big TV about diving in St Helena, and there was a slide show running, and also on display were shells, crustaceans, and even a dolphin skull. Various other activities have been organized for the week too, ending on Saturday with dolphin trips, swimming races around the bay, raft races, and a fancy dress.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Helfen Sie mir, bitte?

Directly after school today, we went to Steve and Maureen's country house so that Nick could help move things into their place. It's almost at a point of completion now, certainly enough so for them to move in. The floors, which have laminate wood flooring throughout, have only been laid in the main bedroom and kitchen. There is still loads of tiling needing doing, and the front doors actually aren't on yet. They have no running water yet, and the electricity isn't connected in the house yet.

I had Georgie coming at 3, as Svetlana has asked me to help him along a bit with his German. He will be attending a German school when they go back to SA mid-year, so she doesn't want him getting completely out of practice between now and then. I’m so out of practice with the language though, but it’s okay…kind of like the short-sighted leading the blind!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A maf flew into the beer

We’re doing Aa this week, finally a vowel…so now Aaron can actually start learning how to read, by putting together the sounds he has learned so far, to make rat, fat, mat, bat etc. I put together “t” “a” and “b”, and told him this is something that Grandpa likes to drink. The wheels turned for a few seconds, and his answer was “beer?” We all just laughed and laughed. Then I gave him “maf” to read. “What is maf?” he asked. So Caleb, sitting at the diningroom table, displayed the beginnings of a great Balderdash in his answer: “It’s the South American way of saying ‘moth’!”

Monday, February 19, 2007

Combined service

Our combined service this morning was well attended, although there are always noticeable gaps of people who should be there, who aren’t. Steve, Nick and I were the band, with Anthony leading the service. After the singing part, before Nick preached, he dismissed the children and teachers, and we went off to the Manse for Sunday School. Our boys volunteered plenty of extraneous information during story time, like Caleb volunteering that sometimes he gets angry, and then little brother’s voice piped up, “sometimes Caleb gets so angry that he hits me”. Maureen’s craft, which linked in with letting your light shine, was to make playdough tealight candle holders, which was a fun activity. Then it was all over and time for the lunch, which was the usual array of fishcakes, pizzas, quiches and sandwiches. Very enjoyable, very filling, and very much.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New friends

After Good News Club this morning, which was well-attended and enjoyable, some new people came home with us (apart from the regular girls who like to come and hang out). They are a South African family who arrived on 3 Feb, he is the new adult education somethingie. Cindy has been finding it difficult to adapt to island life, and John reminded us of a friend from back home, just taller. They have two girls, Hannah and Sarah, also 19 months apart, who are respectively just a few months younger than our boys. Their girls and our boys had a blast playing here, getting on like a house on fire. Also in the house was Riana, who entertained herself by making paper things from a craft book I have. She likes to just come and be here, whether or not anyone is playing with her! They were living in Krugersdorp before coming here, and are familiar with places like Cresta, Menlyn, Clearwater etc. We chatted non-stop about all sorts of things, mostly about island stuff. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of them – since we all got on so well, it will be no effort to get together for a braai or something from time to time. Yippee, South African friends! While they were still with us, Jean arrived, bearing about five packets of groceries for us. I had just commented to Nick this morning that he must go easy on the muesli because I want to try make it stretch to the end of the month, when Jean comes today with this bounty – including a box of muesli!!!

This afternoon Nick went to the old age home, the Haven, as he had arranged to do some sort of church thing there. He took the guitar and sang a few songs, which were more of a solo nature because the old people didn’t sing them too well. He was supposed to also deliver a talk of some sort, but said he ran out of time, as they started serving tea at 3. I think it was a bit disorganized, but it was a start. Nick has been wanting to get an old person’s ministry started for some time now, with the aim of handing it over to someone with a passion for old people, so I guess this is its humble beginning.

Saturday, February 17, 2007 loving memory

Reepi didn’t seem himself this morning. He looked like he was battling to walk a bit, we noticed this yesterday too, that he was sort of limping. Still sitting up though, and eating little bits during the day. Well, he just got progressively worse and then was battling to breathe, his chest was heaving with the effort. There wasn’t much we could do, so we left him on his cage flap and went to Sally’s for lunch. When we got home he was hanging upside down from the perch, having fallen off but gotten a claw hooked. I don’t know how long he’d been that way, but Nick quickly disentangled him and handed him to me. He was pretty much catatonic and unresponsive, unblinking and still. He flapped his wings a bit when Nick took him down, but he died in my hand. I cried and cried, but I think I’m okay now. The boys are still saying that they feel sad about Reepi dying, but they aren’t tearful. We wrapped him up in his little kitchen towel and buried him in the back garden next to the hibiscus.

When I went for my walk this morning, I skipped my usual Jacob’s Ladder route and instead walked down to the sea, and along the seafront to the left, to where the huge rockpool is. I love the rockpool – the way the water rushes in through two inlets, rising up and swirling over the rocks, a great foamy cauldron of angry soup, and then just as quickly being pulled out again like a giant toilet bowl being flushed. I stayed there for about ten minutes, watching two crabs who were trying to mate, hanging tenaciously on to the rocks as the water tried to pry them off.

In school we transplanted the bean plants into peat pots, with potting soil and pots which were provided in the science kit. They are about 20cm tall now, and had a bit of a pause in growth today with the transplant, but are back on the rise today. There are 8 little plants lined up on the windowsill now in the diningroom, and the bottled garden is there too.

When I went outside to bring in the washing, at about 6.40, the sky was unusually yellowy, so I looked up at the clouds as the sun was catching them, and saw a great rainbow, spanning from the top of a mountain, over the church steeple, and arcing down again. It was so bright! Two minutes later it was pouring with rain, and continued raining for about an hour, off and on.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fee fi fo fum!

You wouldn’t believe what happened to the boys’ bean plants overnight…but it makes the story of Jack and the Beanstalk more believable! From having no shoots yesterday, only roots, they now have leaves which have grown up past the neck of the bottles. Even during the day we have noticed a difference – they’ve easily grown three inches during the day. We’re looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. Caleb wrote in his nature diary without prompting and drew a picture of the plants.
I renewed my drivers’ license today. I was severely reprimanded for driving around with an expired license. The police lady asked if I know it is a criminal offence to drive a vehicle without a valid license, which I did know, and I felt terribly guilty. I even thought she might give me a fine or put me in prison. But she just said I mustn’t let it happen again. After town we went to Plantation House, so that the boys could run around and I could read. It didn’t really happen that way though, especially about me and the reading part, because the boys kept on talking to me, and then Aaron wanted to look at one of his books with chip-crumby fingers, and then Caleb didn’t want to finish his apple so I had to hold it, and then needed a nose blow, and then Aaron was cold…so after a while I gave up and we came home. At least they got out of the house for a while.

Nick is giving Reepicheep flying lessons, which means that Nick is taking him outside and throwing him in the air and then catching him again. Reepi doesn’t mind though, he flaps his wings madly while he’s in the air although it does him no good. Good exercise though. Last night while we were watching the DVD, we saw our pet mouse running in the lounge. Caleb had earlier put a biscuit in a plastic container, in the hopes of luring him into a trap. Well, the mouse found the biscuit, and started eating it, taking a little nibble and then dashing back behind the wall units. Then he tried to drag it back with him, which he couldn’t do because he couldn’t pull it over the extension cord. He tried so hard, pulling and pushing, even flipping himself right over the biscuit trying, that I felt sorry for him and moved the biscuit when he had run for cover. At the end of the evening we observed that he had eaten half the chocolate covering off the biscuit, leaving the innard untouched! Definitely a sweet tooth.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine surprise

I gave Nick a torch and card for Valentines’ Day. During the morning I slipped a note under the door for Nick, which said, “Nick, You are Sexy, I love You” with all the letters cut out from magazines. It was supposed to look like an anonymous love letter. The boys found it and gave it to him, so he took one look at it and said I could throw it away…ha ha ha ha haa haaaaaa….I thought he would know straight away it was from me, but he didn’t even suspect…so I was laughing hilariously when I confessed. The boys and I wore red today.

In science today we did an experiment of planting a bottled garden…pebbles, charcoal and potting soil went into a lying-down bottle, and then two little plants, okay weeds, which I found in the garden went in, and the lid went on. I dampened the potting soil first, so now the garden never needs to be watered. The boys are really enjoying all this plant stuff and seeing the things grow. We wrote in their nature diaries again today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mouse in the house

We’ve had a tiny mouse living in the house for a couple of weeks. We often see him running for cover in the lounge or kitchen, and sometimes the stupid thing runs right across the carpet while we’re watching a DVD or something, so we’ve seen a lot of him. Caleb’s been trying to catch him, setting up traps with Nick’s help – not to kill it, but to have a look at it. We just don’t have the heart to set a proper mouse trap and break its neck. Last night when I went into the kitchen quite late, he was sitting on the small table next to the stove, so I approached very cautiously. He jumped into the spice rack box, so I called Nick down to see what we could do. The mouse eventually jumped off the table and ran under the stove, so Nick got a bit of bread and held it on the floor near the stove, to lure it out. It actually came out, after peeking its tiny head out to see if it was safe, and grabbed some bread from Nick’s fingers. We have it on video tape. I also had a try, but the first time I wasn’t watching properly and got a huge fright when it came scuttling out, sending it dashing for cover again. It came out again, and sat holding a crumb in its front paws, sitting on its hind legs, having a munch. It’s still out and about somewhere, but we’re not sure what the next step is.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bean sprouts

On Friday we did a science experiment, which was simply to put bean seeds in a jar with a paper towel and water, so that hopefully they will germinate. Then we had to make nature diaries. I had already bought two reporters notebooks, so in school today we covered them nicely, sticking a piece of coloured paper over the front and then decorating them with feathers, foam animal and plant shapes and stickers. The boys are very proud of them. Those diaries will be to report on the things that we do in science. Today’s entry, which I had to write, simply said “put seeds in jar”, and then the boys drew a picture. Today after lunch, Caleb noticed that the seeds we ‘planted’ on Friday have grown shoots. He was nearly beside himself with excitement, so I suggested we write in his nature diary which he was very pleased to do. He was well satisfied that they had germinated.

Reepicheep is back to his normal self today. We are grateful to God for sparing his little life!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mackerel...don't read this entry if you're squeamish!

Emma Bennet, from the Fisheries Department, stopped by yesterday with seven mackerel for us. She was really surprised that we’ve had him for so long, and was also surprised that he was so small – she was expecting that he would have been older and further developed, so was especially amazed that he’s done so well up until now. She says that most of the time when people find terns, they only last a day or two. I told her that we’ve been praying, so I give all the credit for his survival to God! Anyway, about these mackerel…the only thing that had been done to them was that their necks had been sliced open (if you can call where the head joins the body a ‘neck’). I had to de-head them, de-tail them, cut them open and remove the innards (I don’t even want to know what exactly was in there…it was a bloody mess and there was white fatty stuff and it was GROSS), then take off the skin, and then pull the flesh off. Well I got as far as preparing six of them for de-fleshing, and just cut the seventh one up in slices. I’ve kept all the heads, in case Reepi likes those when he’s older. The rest of the fish bodies are in the fridge for when I can face them again, also because I think the flesh comes away easier when it’s cooled. I’ve never really handled a whole fish before, but I guess when you get past the fact that it’s just recently been a live animal happily swimming in the sea, and now you’re dismembering it, it was quite interesting. I showed the boys how the mouth opens (bob bob), and I showed them the gills, very red, layers and layers. I guess those must be rich in iron. Yummy.

We visited one of our church ladies in the afternoon out at Blue Hill, clothed warmly in jackets because it had been raining all morning and was on the chilly side in town, so we expected the weather to be worse in the country (it was). Had a good visit with Shirley and her husband. She had a back op in Cape Town three months ago, so still has to be very careful. This gave me a good excuse to help her with the tea in the kitchen, which otherwise she would never have heard of…you can’t bother the pastor’s wife to help with something like that!! Again, that horrible pedestal thing. We’re hoping that people will see us as normal, regular people as time goes by - it’s a Saint peculiarity that we are viewed as only The Pastor and The Pastor’s Wife.

On the way home from Blue Hill we encountered an ex-pat couple who arrived on the island at the end of last year, on a two-year teaching contract. Their car had run out of petrol, so they were hoping to push the car up the hills and freewheel down the slopes until they got to a garage. Unfortunately, even with Nick helping, the hills proved too steep to push the car up, so we drove them to the garage in Half Tree Hollow (amazingly, it was open on a Saturday afternoon) where they could get petrol in a container. Then we drove them back to their car. After they had emptied the petrol into the car and got it started, we all stood outside (in the freezing wind) chatting, and having such a nice time! It was a providential meetings, I’m sure.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Eat Dirt!

Reepi was alive this morning, which we were surprised about from a ‘natural’ point of view. He ate really well today in fact, wolfing down two generous helpings of mackerel so far, and we’ll feed him again after our supper. Nick told Vincent about the bird last night at bible study, and Vincent, who has bred chickens and knows what he’s talking about, didn’t hold out much hope for Reepi. He says that the food goes into a gizzard first, where it gets ground up, and thereafter gets passed into the stomach. But sometimes the food can’t get ground up properly, so it sits in a ball in the gizzard and becomes infected, causing the bird to die. From what Nick described, this is what sounded like the problem. The birds need to have some sort of grit in their food to help the gizzard grind it – you can imagine that a bird eating fish would naturally pick up dirt and bits of bone and hard stuff. The solution was to introduce dirt into Reepi’s diet, so this morning we dug up some dirt from the garden, and rolled a few bits of fish in it. R had no trouble with it at all. He’s still quite floppy although looking much better than he was yesterday. He managed to stand up and walk about a bit today before flopping over, but we’re hoping that with eating better his strength will return.

Caleb just happened to be standing in the wrong place yesterday when Reepi needed the toilet, so he got it on his head. It dripped down from his hair on to his shoulder, and we all thought it was very funny. I got pooed on four times yesterday (once on my bare toes) and again today, because Reepi isn’t his usual self and doesn’t have the strength to find a good position to aim. This morning Aaron found some poo on the diningroom floor under the cage, so he told me about it and that it was still wet. How did he know that, you might wonder? He was sticking his fingers in it. I sent him outside post haste to wash his hands, but he came in again because Nick was outside and Aaron didn’t want his dad finding out what he had done. Shame!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sick bird

Our poor Reepicheep is not doing so well today. We think he might die - it’s touch and go whether he makes it through the night. We don’t know what has happened, other than that he hasn’t been eating enough. It seems that he’s not strong enough to hold his body up, so instead of standing on his legs with his head all perky, he lies on his whole body with his wings spread out on either side. It’s a pathetic sight and we’re very sad. I found three mackerels at the Fish Market, but it might be too late to put them to use. He wasn’t even interested in those today! Of course we’ve all been praying incessantly, but God might have other plans than Reepi’s survival.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cross & Blackwell

I bought mayonnaise today!!! My heart skipped a beat when I saw about six bottles sitting innocently on the shelf in Spar. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They must have got them in on Sunday’s ship, and unpacked them this morning. I have no doubt that they are already all sold out now. I bought two bottles of it, small bottles of Cross & Blackwell. We haven’t been able to buy mayo for at least two months. After Spar I went up to Queen Mary’s, in the hopes that their fruit had been unpacked, and once again, I rejoiced! I bought a bag of beautiful red tomatoes, and also a cucumber, and even a quarter of a watermelon (sliced today). Lunch was cheese and mayo sandwiches (with tomato on mine and Nick’s), and watermelon afterwards. Sheer luxury, I tell you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Shouldn't be driving

I persuaded Nick to go to town with me late afternoon, because we need to get our drivers’ licenses renewed (the expired at the beginning of January). We have to renew them every year, which costs £7.50, but it’s quick and easy. All we had to do was go to the Police Station, fill in a form, present our expired licenses, and they renew it. Unfortunately we got there at 4pm when the whole world of St Helena stops working and goes home (other than the shopkeepers), so we just missed being helped.

Lunch guests

Scilla Brown, the optometrist, arrived on the island yesterday. She’s a lovely Christian who comes to our church when she’s on the island – she does a yearly optometrical stint here, from about January/February to April. Her church back home is also very supportive of ours, and have helped tremendously with finances for our building projects. We invited her to lunch today, since it’s not very nice being alone on a Sunday, and also had Steve and Maureen over. Fun to do something sociable on a Sunday, although we’ve grown accustomed to being on our own over the weekends. Makes me lazy with cooking, so having people over is a good reason to cook a proper meal (my poor family!).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our pet

We’ve had some rain today, and also some hot weather. Yesterday was also hot - enough for us all to go swimming. Reepicheep is going whiter by the day. The feathers that are growing out on his wings and neck are particularly noticeable, and he is also getting some white downy feathers on his chest. He’s such a sweet little bird, very placid (perhaps a little too tame), and has a funny habit of burrowing…he will press his beak between our fingers and wriggle his head so that eventually he can get his whole head between two fingers, or a finger and a thumb, and then once we’ve got his neck in a good grip, he closes his eyes and goes to sleep, blissfully happy. Also likes to have the top of his head scratched. If you do that, he gets himself comfortable with his beak resting on something, tail in the air, and enjoys the attention. Absolutely adorable. Still not eating very well. I always thought “eats like a bird” was a misnomer, as birds are supposed to eat their body weight in food every day, but then again, maybe there is something in it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Car news

This morning we had some fun in school, when we went outside to see how water comes out a hosepipe – first it curves up, then falls down. So Fireman Lynn says this is how the letter ‘f’ is made…quite a good idea from the book! I did a spot more grocery shopping during the afternoon, specifically needing mats for a mosquito repellant machine, as Jane has lent me one. It has to plug into Nick’s transformer though which buzzes, so the whole thing ends up being quite noisy. I think I’d rather take my chances with the mozzies! Ha ha ha.

Great news…the money from Constantia Park Baptist for a new car for the church has arrived. It might still be another month or two before we actually get the car, but we’re excited that it’s imminent! As you will know if you’ve been reading the blog, our yellow golf is on its last wheels…

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Very exciting entry...really

Had another fairly uneventful day, other than that the boys went to play at Jane’s house today, leaving me free for about two and a half hours…wonderful! Supper tonight was fishcakes, although we didn’t actually have supper per se…Nick had a lay preachers training session at 5.45, so I made the fishcakes and then just cooked some corn for the boys, with the intent that Nick and I would eat supper later, and I’d make more veggies. Didn’t happen that way of course, so supper for us was just a couple f/cakes here and there, and two quality streets! My theory for cooking is, why cook only one meal when you can cook enough for at least two, so I have frozen a whole batch of the fishcakes for another time.