Sunday, March 30, 2008

No news

Yesterday I found some fibre-optic toys in the corner shop, and since they came in a twin-pack, on special they were 50p each. The boys had earned a reward, so I let them have those last night. They were absolutely enthralled with them – actually, Nick and I were also! The picture attached is a little-bit little-bit not-so-good, but somehow nice in its own way.

Today was the normal Saturday – GNC, town, DVD for the boys, scrapping for me, braai-building and band practice for Nick.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Deadline shifted

I had the final installment of dentistry on my troublesome tooth today. At last now it has been permanently filled, and the work is done. It wasn’t a fun dentist outing, as he first had to drill away the temporary filling, then screw a cap around the tooth which hurt my gum, and then do all the fillings. He cautioned me that this tooth is only for smiling, not for eating! So I have to concentrate on eating on the right side of my mouth. After all these sessions of work on this tooth, and finally the root canal, I had to pay the bill…₤1.30!

We were back at school this morning, and it was fine apart from the boys being chatterboxes and wrigglers. It’s quite amazing how much noise they can generate by scraping their chairs in and out, rocking on their chairs on the uneven floor (maybe I should be considering gluing felt to the feet of the chairs), and general mumbling and muttering. We started the day, after the bible reading and prayer, with writing their words in water, with paint brushes, on the outside wall. They got a real kick out of that. Then it was back inside for the rest of the usual stuff. It was a bit weird launching back into school on a Thursday and trying to pick up where we left off last Wednesday.

Tammy phoned Nick today to say that the album needs to be finished by 9 April, so they are really going to have to work hard now. Nick came downstairs to tell me that bad news that between now and then, all his free evenings will be spent at Tammy doing recordings. I think I’ll survive though, knowing that it’s a short-term arrangement!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tiling, new scrapper and extensive shutdown

Steve and Maureen were in the schoolroom today, starting to tile the kitchen section. It’s hugely exciting to see some progress in that area! The cupboards will be arriving when the ship comes back from the UK, and then the real fun begins. They joined us for lunch in the back yard – they had brought their own packed lunch – so we socialised between the washing!

Caleb has started scrapbooking. He’s been wanting to do it for ever so long, and I’ve been saying that when he’s 7 he can start, but he sort of made his own start anyway last week. I provided some A4 pieces of cardboard, which I cut down to a square, so he has a few things to work with. He’s content really to do his own drawings and writings, using things he finds lying around as embellishments. He’s quite a creative boy, actually.

The hole in Nick’s gum where he had the extraction has healed well. He’s so pleased that he has an extra hole in his mouth that he make noises with. His shutdown procedures at night, as he calls them, are quite extensive now. He has to burst all the bubbles in his mouth and get the airpockets out the corners. With such clean teeth it’s very difficult to get your mouth comfortable for sleeping. The mouth is dry and has to be salivated, and then the spit has to be sucked off until all is equally lubricated, which can take several coats. This often disturbs the spit in the mouth and causes bubbles, which are then broken by (a) sharp intakes of breath, (b) swallowing, (c) fishing the small bubbles out from underneath the tongue with the tip of the tongue and pressing them hard against the roof of the mouth. Some bubbles need to be chased as they evade squashing, which results in cheek-squeezing, and any talking or smiling causes new bubbles to form. If one has flossed before bedtime, each gap between each tooth must be opened with the tongue suctioning any excess saliva out. (This paragraph was dictated by Nicholas – think of me with sympathy as I lie quietly next to this obsessive bubble-squashing air-intaker, wondering when his mouth will be comfortable and shutdown completed…).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday

The governor preached our Easter Sunday service today, and Jean played the organ, leaving Nick free of responsibility for the day, other than setting things up for the fellowship tea. Earlier in the week, I offered to do a children’s talk, which the Govnr. okayed, which went off well today. I drew three meanings from the easter egg – that when we eat an egg, we first break it, which reminds us about Jesus’ broken body; that the egg is empty (hollow) inside, reminding us of the empty tomb; and a real egg will produce a chick, reminding us of the new life we can have in Christ, because of his death and resurrection. I was nervous to do it, but the Spirit helped me. The fellowship tea afterwards was nice – good food as always. Jennifer provided two trays laden with mince-filled ‘vetkoek’ – die egte Suid Afrikaanse ding! They went down like a ton of bricks. Nick ate about 20, he says! The clean-up afterwards went well with lots of people helping, some in the kitchen and some in the schoolroom. It will be a relief to have the kitchenette installed, where everything can be done there and then, and the Pastor’s Wife won’t always bear the oversight of the tea!

Nick didn’t have a band practice yesterday afternoon, so instead he went on to the mountain to continue with what he started yesterday, which is building up a thick stone wall, to act as a barrier in the event of rockfalls. I don’t know how effective it would be, as rocks coming down tend to bounce, but it’s something anyway. I tried to do a bit of scrapping, but am currently without inspiration for the next museum page. Instead, I baked a batch of cheese scones which were pretty good, especially hot out of the oven.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No moss on this one

On Tuesday, Steve and a plumber were working in the schoolyard to install fixtures for the kitchenette, when a big rock broke away from the mountain and came bouncing down right towards them, finally ending its descent on a tin roof on the property next door to the schoolroom, about two metres from where they were working. They were somewhat shaken up to have watched the rock coming down, and by the propinquity of its landing spot! Minor damage was sustained by the house next door – the tin roof on which it landed has a big dent. Rock guards were called in to examine the mountain, but it was declared safe shortly thereafter. Again, we are thankful that no one was injured!

Our Good Friday service today was at Sandy Bay at 10 am. We left here at 9, to be there in plenty of time to get a parking, and put the songbooks out etc. The little chapel was very full. Nick’s message was focused on Christ as the Passover Lamb – he is our sacrifice, our substitute, and our safehouse (referring back to the blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels when the angel of death passed over). It was another excellent message. After church we joined forces with the ex-pat Baptist community, which is growing, for soup and rolls at Steve and Maureen’s house. There were 9 of us, and the boys – Andrew and Jean, Harry and Jennifer and Scilla being the other ones. The Governor and Mrs had to leave before the soup though as lunch had been prepared for them at their house, but the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed Maureen’s vegetable soup. After the soup we had spicy buns. Conversation was good, with much friendly bantering. I tried to get a photo, but the camera’s batteries refused me that occasion. We had an international phonecall during the afternoon from a retired Baptist Minister in East London, to say that he is praying for us here. We are very privileged and humbled!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rain, rain, rain, and Girls for God

Two things to report on today. The first was that we had the heaviest rain today that we’ve experienced since being on the island. To say that it rained hard is like saying that Methuselah was very old. It seemed like the entire Atlantic Ocean was dumped upon us in a very short space of time. Our bedroom ceiling was leaking in three places, but fortunately the drips could be caught with only two containers. We found two more leaks in the passage, one in Nick’s office, and the rain was entering the house downstairs as it dripped down the outside wall. The gutter outside our driveway got blocked, so water was gushing around the top of it in a wide muddy river. Further upstream, the torrent took away part of the concrete that makes up the bridge over the gutter into the schoolyard, where we park the car, so that a chunk of it on one side has been washed away, and the steel girders are visible in places. Fortunately Nick could still manoeuvre the car out, once the mud had dried a bit. The sun actually came out though during the morning, although we had another very hard shower later during the morning.

The second thing is that I had my first girls’ group today. I thought no one was coming, as none had arrived by about 4.05, but they all got there shortly thereafter. Only one girl from the sleepover didn’t come, but she wasn’t at school today either – the girls reckoned she slept late and so didn’t worry to go to school! I want the group to be fairly relaxed and discussional, rather than me preaching at them, but since they didn’t have much to say today I did a short teaching about faith without actions – that they can’t say they are Christians, but not have a life-style to prove it. I’ve assigned them the task of reading some Bible each day, and tracking what they’ve read, to show me next time we meet in a fortnight (we’re not meeting next Monday due to it being Easter). I think overall it was pretty good, despite the blank stares. Some of the girls really seem to be interested. One girl told me that after my tirade on Friday night, she deleted all her music off her MP3 player!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Get out of your house!

Nick and I were so looking forward to going to bed last night and catching up on some lost sleep, but at 1.30 we were both awake because there was such a lot of noise on the street outside – the usual Saturday night funmakers – and it was stuffy inside. The phone rang five minutes later, and we both thought, oh dear, someone’s died. But it was Teddy phoning from the Police Station, where he works now part-time, to say that we needed to evacuate the house immediately. There was an accident up on Ladder Hill, almost directly above the Manse, where some guy was driving too fast and had to brake suddenly, and drove his Subaru into the mountain. Rescue workers were concerned that there would be a rock fall when they removed the wrecked vehicle, so they got all the houses in the near vicinity evacuated. Nick got the car out the garage, we put the back seats down for the boys, and then had to drive down into town first to turn around. It was an eye-opener to be in town at that late hour on a Saturday night, because there were simply so many people about! The shops were long since closed, but people were just walking around, window shopping, chatting to friends, and being sociable. Of course there was also plenty of drinking going on. Anyway, back up the road past the Manse to Barracks Square, which is a group of houses with a little car park in the middle, where we had been instructed to wait. We left the boys in the car and got out to enjoy the night air. Fortunately we didn’t have to hang around for too long, as we were told at about 2.10 that we could go home again, all clear. I’m thankful for two things though – firstly, that it didn’t happen on Friday night when all the girls were here, and secondly, that it wasn’t raining! There were no injuries in the accident.

Our Sunday has been quite normal then, other than the evacuation part. Nick had his usual services, and I did my usual scrapping while the boys watched their usual DVD. Lunch was a pork stir-fry which the boys plodded through with long teeth, and then we had ice-cream outside. After that we scattered to our own directions again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sleepover #4

Amazingly, I’m not trashed after last night’s sleepover. We had lights out at 12.35, followed by only a short period of whispering – I really didn’t have any trouble settling the girls. The evening was filled with noise, fun, excitement, dancing, music, DVDs, chatting amongst themselves, origami, pillow fights, crafts, nibbling on chips and chocolates, and washing up. We had ice-cream at about 10.30 pm. At 11 pm I put on a DVD and told them to get themselves settled and ready for bed, so that when the movie ended we could go to sleep. I was very disappointed at their choice of a movie to watch though, and I banned it – I don’t know what the actual content was, but it was rated “R” – restricted – because of sexual content and language. I got very heavy and deep on them, explaining that I was disappointed and thought it was inappropriate, and that they should examine their relationship with God if they are prepared to watch movies like this at their young age – certainly not God-honouring! It’s patently obvious though, that they have no guidance in these matters, other than their own uneducated consciences. We take it for granted that we know what’s right and wrong, but these girls simply haven’t learned. They have unchristian parents and live in a godless society. I am very burdened for them. I’ve been wanting to start a regular group for them, independent of the Good News Club, and was hoping that the sleepover would be a kickstart for it. Well, the opportunity didn’t arise last night to broach the subject, but this morning I just mentioned it rather casually to one girl (the oldest, who I particularly want to get involved as she is already attending the high school, and our only GNC person who hasn’t stopped coming since going there) and she was keen, so I took it up with the rest while they were sitting fairly quietly. I explained what my goal for the group is – that it’s to help them grow into Godly Christian women – and we’ve set Monday afternoons from 4–5 pm for the group to happen.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Boys are boys

The boys each have a spider in a bottle, which they are looking after like little pets. They open the lid a few times a day to let in fresh air, and each spider has at least one live bug for food when it gets hungry. There is also a fair selection of dead grass and dirt in the bottles now, although this latest edition has obscured the sightings of the spiders. Aaron loves his spider but the nearest he can get to showing it affection is hugging the bottle. I had my last craft group at Pillings today - we made serviette rings by cutting up toilet roll inners and then wrapping wool around them. I untangled many knots!

Nick is still busy with the outside stuff when he has time, although today was quite a busy office-work day for him. He’s cut down a lot of the bamboo to size, but has come across about six pieces so far that are unusable – either slightly too short, or too thin. These he has allowed the boys to play with, for their construction games. He fashioned a tepee frame for them, lashing them together with flax. The boys wanted to cover the whole thing with black bags, and so started today in the hope that they would be able to sleep in it tomorrow night (outdoors), but Nick informed them that sleeping outside would not be appropriate given the current weather. It’s become windy again, and we’re having a lot of rain at night. The days are still hot and sticky, but at least the wind moves the air around!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Construction site

Nick’s morning involved Steve and Teddy coming around to help him construct a framework upon which to fasten the bamboo over the braai area. They did what they needed to do, so that when Nick is ready, he just needs to drill a few holes and can then bolt the angle-iron to the walls. Don’t ask me for any more details! That was on the go from about 10.15, so the boys could watch for a while during our break, and then while the one was busy reading for me, the other could watch etc. Maureen also came for a while after her craft group, so when we had a lunch break we all had tea together outside, dodging the washing! We didn’t finish school before lunch, but just had two more books so it didn’t take long. In the early session, the boys had to write a journal entry. I had to first explain the whole concept, which Caleb caught on to, but I had to really help Aaron quite a bit, which is fine as it was a new concept. The point was for them to write down their own thoughts about life in their own writing and their own spelling, and then as the year goes on we will do them again, to see the progress in their spelling, handwriting, and hopefully, thoughts! The results were interesting, and very good.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Back to the dentist

Hooray, I didn’t have a tooth pulled today! I had an appointment for the continuing work on this silly broken tooth, which was either going to be an extraction or root canal. This new dentist, now the fourth to work on the tooth, didn’t even suggest an extraction, although he said that the tooth would probably break at some point in a few years anyway. But for now, he’s happy to salvage what he can. He started root canal today, which involved drilling out the old temporary filling (how many times has that been done??), then something else by way of cleaning all the way up to my brain just about, and then inserting some sort of filling and ‘welding’ it in (?), judging by the smoke and smell at one point. He seemed surprised that this tooth had been an ongoing problem for so long – I suspect that if the first dentist had done her stuff properly, there would have been closure months ago, but alas, her great idea of a temporary filling wasn’t a great idea at all.

Nick’s load of bamboo was delivered this morning, which he will be using to create a roof of sorts over the braai area. He finished his bible study prep early and then spent a large part of the afternoon sawing it to the right lengths. He’s extremely motivated with the outdoor stuff!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I am a child of God!

I was just busy hunting around in the workshop for an old lock face that I needed for a museum layout, when Nick came home, at about 10 am. Being a Lay Preachers’ Sunday, he wasn’t preaching, so when he dropped Nick W off at Head o’Wain, and discovered that Maisie was doing the music at that service, he didn’t need to stay. It was so nice to have him home early. Together we found what I needed, and then I made pizza while he sat in the kitchen chatting. After lunch, and pudding, and coffee, we went to the pool for a swim. It was very nice to be there, as it was cloudy but hot. I swam too – the water was so warm that I hardly felt cooled, but at least I wasn’t sticky any more! After the swim we still had a long stretch of afternoon at home, which was great.

Church this evening was excellent. The Governor preached a message on adoption, which was very well prepared and delivered, with one of the applications being that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, we need to remind ourselves that “I am a child of God”. Financial worries? I am a child of God. Struggling with something? I am a child of God. Feeling anxious? I am a child of God – and so on. Nick thought it was good too. Jean did all the music and the Andrew led the service, so Nick could just be a regular church-goer. After church we invited our South African friends, Harry and Jennifer, around for a cup of tea, and then decided to ask Andrew and Jean as well, so we had a merry party.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday stuff

A light drizzle is falling, as it has been off and on for a large part of the day. Drizzle isn’t really the right word, actually – more like a mist spitting from the sky. It’s been hot and sticky again, despite the precipitation, or perhaps due to it! It’s been the fairly usual Saturday, but not bad at all. I whipped up some invitations for the girls for the next pyjama party, which will be this coming Friday night, so finished those off quickly this morning so I could hand them out after GNC. Nick (my Nick) did the teaching this morning, about the different religions on the island, and it was really very good and informative. The warning was “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, essentially a summary of last Sunday’s sermon. After the club we went to town, primarily because the boys wanted to each buy a fly gun with their pocket money. It’s such a great little device, which works better as a toy than an actual fly-killing gadget, I’m convinced!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fish repopulation

Terribly hot again today, and sticky, which is worse. School lately has been going really well, and I think we’re all enjoying it. I got the boys to write their words with sticks of drawing charcoal, but they didn’t really like it as it squeaked on the paper and put them on edge! So far the sugar writing has been the most popular in the “mix it up” category. In the afternoon I had my craft class, which went well as it always has with this class. The teacher in charge said that next week will be my last one with this class, and then after that I’ll switch back to the first class for a new set of crafts. Hold on, I told her, I didn’t sign up for another round! The head teacher came by a few minutes later, having been told the news that one of their valued volunteers would be falling off the list, but she didn’t try to pressure me into staying, simply thanked me very much for what I’d done. I told her I’d consider doing it again at the end of the year, but for now I need a break. After the class I had time to ice the second carrot cake, defrosted now, in time for threezees, where we all sat outside with our tea and cake, admiring Nick’s freshly mowed lawn.

It was reported on the news this week that there is a glimmer of hope for the fishing industry now, as a few hundred kgs of small tuna were caught. They were pulling in a few tons at a time, so this is not good compared, but is the first relatively big catch in about four months.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lost and found

Between Nick and Caleb, the missing baby pigeon was found today – dead, under the cupboard in the workshop. Nick’s nose led him to it. We don’t know what the cause of death was, but I would speculate that it was malnutrition. We’ve seen another baby pigeon, quite likely the sibling of ours, in our backyard. Although it can fly, it still wanders around after the same mother bird, wanting to be fed. I thought it was only in the human race that when a child leaves the nest to fly on its own, and can fend for itself, it still comes back for meals!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Special enough day?

It’s been some hot here again. No more rain, and lots of sun. Our house isn’t bad at all downstairs, but one can’t really sit around in the lounge all day! I noticed Nick doing some reading in there in the afternoon though. He put in quite a lot of time with the building project today. His hands are really taking quite a beating from the concrete, despite that he’s using gloves – it’s eating little holes into his fingers. We had a pretty good time in school. The boys had to do a bit of creative writing, first fleshing out a sentence with adjectives and descriptions, and secondly using a simile. Caleb’s first one was, from the sentence “Jim ran to the stand”, something like “Jim ran as fast as his pitiful legs could carry him. His shoes were worn, but he had to go on.” Aaron’s simile, kicking off with “I am mad”, was “I am as mad as a crocodile whose food has been taken away from it”. I was delighted with their efforts and excellent creativity, and so they both earned a “well done” sticker.

In the afternoon Aaron was feeling sad that nothing special was happening in the day, and I felt so sorry for him as he was crying about the woeful plainness of the day, that I took the boys out for an ice-cream. We were hoping that the nice soft-serve trailer would be open, but it wasn’t. The Star had a hopeless array of frozen lollies, so we tried Tinkers which was as bad if not worse, but we settled on two lollies anyway. These they ate on the bench across the road, but such a sticky mess of dripping juice was made that we had to go to the public convenience to wash off. It wasn’t really a fun outing, but Aaron confirmed that it was special enough. Then I had a hair appointment at 3.30 at the Consulate hairdresser. I made the appt today, quite spontaneously, as I’m rather sick of my hair and needed it properly done before I took the scissors to it myself in desperation. After 40 minutes of scissor cutting and razor trimming into the edges and whatever other modern methods are used, the hairdresser produced something that is very wearable, quite a bit shorter, and feels good.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

News, news, news

Three items of news from the island. The first happened a week or two ago, which is that there was an incident at Donny’s place. Apparently some guy came on to another guy’s girlfriend, so the boyfriend told the other guy to back off. Guy #2 went outside, broke a bottle, came back in with a piece, and stabbed boyfriend in the neck. Boyfriend sustained severe injuries, but is in a stable condition. Guy #2 is awaiting trial, and might well get a life-sentence as it was a pre-meditated act of violence. The second item is that one of Solomon’s trucks overturned yesterday, carrying a load of goods from the docks to their stores. It was top heavy, you see – overloaded – so going up Main Street in town it simply toppled over. A big load of milk was squashed. We wait to see whether the milk is still saleable, but if not, there will be a milk shortage quite soon, what with the ship heading up to the UK on Saturday. This would normally be the time when things run out anyway, but now there will definitely be a problem. I bought 18l of milk from Thorpes today, and will probably go back next week again for another load, to keep us in stock until the ship comes back from the Cape at the end of April. The third news item is that I can slice the bread at the Star in Jamestown again. I noticed last week that they had a slicer in the bread section, so when I bought bread today I didn’t make the trek to Half Tree Hollow. It’s great!! What a luxury. Best thing since…um…the wheel?

We were back at school today, and it was pretty good. Caleb was in an impossible mood, just being silly and sounding like an hyperactive parrot, muttering and mumbling away when he wasn’t supposed to be talking at all. But everything was fine otherwise. Before school, Caleb did a drawing of a new world he invented, complete with pictures of what the people look like (it’s a hot country so they have very thick hair (?) ), and they had their own alphabet and everything. I let him talk about it all during an ad-hoc ‘show and tell’ session.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Some forest!

We had Scilla around to lunch today. I did a pot roast yesterday in preparation, but it almost turned into a disaster – I put it on at about 5 pm, so I could keep an eye on it while I was busy in the kitchen, and then completely forgot about it when I started watching “Meet the Robinsons” with Nick. At 9 pm I suddenly remembered, so with a jump I ran into the kitchen, expecting to see smoke. Fortunately there had been enough water in the pot, and I think it was just on the point of burning. Disaster averted, I cut up the meat and put it in the fridge for today. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the ideal cut for a roast, so even after four hours of cooking it was still pretty tough, although tasty! Scilla brought a chocolate fudge cake and I had ice-cream in the freezer, so it was a good pudding too. It was very relaxed with Scilla – she gets on very well with the boys; I think they like her because she talks to them and takes an interest in what they say. She went outside to examine the centipede larvae they are observing, and to look at the mango tree, and then after lunch we took a drive out to the Millennium Forest. She doesn’t drive on the island, and although she gets pretty far on foot, she doesn’t normally get to the Longwood side. We took a bit of a picnic tea, and it was very relaxed and nice. The vegetation on that side of the island is so different to other parts, it’s like being in a different country. I found some goats on the way, so we stopped to take necessary photos of those for a scrapbook layout. We left the “forest” at about 4 pm, and then stopped by Steve and Maureen on the way home, as Scilla had not been to their new house. Steve hasn’t been very well of late, suffering with dizziness and nausea from his blood pressure tablets. He had just got off the bed when we arrived, but our visit seemed to cheer him up, as he regaled us with stories from their visit to Russia and laughed himself better.

Tammy phoned to cancel their band practice, so Nick was home all day yesterday. It rained a lot, off and on, but that didn’t stop him from working outside on the braai place he’s making, which is really progressing nicely (temperature still pretty high, but a bit better after yesterday’s rain). He’s finished building up the height with stones, and now will be working on the table top as such, adding extra length to make a counter top. I spent some time scrapping, and also watched the boys’ DVD with them (the same one Nick watched last night). It’s Mothering Sunday here today, so I had to wrap up a bunch of little Top Deck bite size chocolates with a note, to be handed out today. We don’t really celebrate this one in our family, rather using the traditional South African Mother’s Day as our day.

The pigeon has mysteriously disappeared. We can only surmise that the ginger cat got hold of it. The parents are still hovering around looking a bit bewildered. I feel a bit sad for them, and wish I knew what had happened! It would have been nice to see our little one learn how to fly and become self-sufficient.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Week over already :-(

We had some heavy rain during the night, but surprisingly no leaks in the house. I was awake for a long time wondering when the drips were going to start falling on the bed, but none did this time. We had a pretty quiet day otherwise – went to Sally’s for lunch, but couldn’t eat outside as there was too much rain about still, off and on, so we ate while we walked down to the docks to see if Nick’s guitar pedal had arrived, but it wasn’t listed on the manifest. Nick took the boys swimming after his prison ministry (the skies had cleared a bit!), and then he went to Knollcombes for more sand.