Monday, June 30, 2008

Free gift (box)

Nick and Tammy were interviewed on the radio this morning regarding Tammy’s second album, “Say a Prayer”. It is set for release on 1 August, but this morning a single was aired for the first time. Tammy spoke first about the album, and the actual recording of it, and then handed over to Nick to say a little something. Nick came on air and said “a little something”, not being sure of what else he could possibly add to what Tammy had already said! They both thanked me and the boys for giving Nick up so many Saturdays, and the boys were squirmishly pleased to be so publicly acknowledged!

Back to school today, and it was great. During the first session the boys started getting a bit silly, but I decided that instead of getting cross with them, I’d let them have a bit of fun before reigning it in. That was a good idea. We’re still getting into Ancient Greece, and I’m finding it extremely interesting. One poor set of people from the Santorini island in Greece had to leave their homeland because food was scarce (there wasn’t much farmland in Greece due to the islands and mountains, so as the population grew, they had to start dispersing). They tried to settle in North Africa, but didn’t have success. On their return to their island, they were greeted with showers of stones and rocks from their own people, who didn’t want the extra burden of feeding these returned men, so they had to simply turn around again and sail back to Cyrene, where they had a more successful go at colonizing. I just wish I had some use for all this extra knowledge, because otherwise it goes as quickly as it comes! In the afternoon I prepared a craft for the girls’ group, which was to make little gift boxes. My topic this afternoon was God’s grace. The little yellow box I made became symbolic of salvation and God’s grace – it can’t be bought or earned, but simply has to be received. They loved making the craft, as always. It was 5.30 by the time I got Keisha and Tysha home, and only then could I start supper which was a vegetable-enriched cottage pie.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Special combined service

Today we had our combined baptismal service. Leading up to it, we had a fairly easy morning at home, although as always there is much to be done beforehand – teacups to be put out, and Nick cleared out a big section of weeds behind the church, as the people being baptised would need to walk around that way – although they didn’t end up using that path after all. Lunch was smackaroos, chips and vegetables (quite a big helping of mixed veggies, which the boys got through without too much fuss). Then it was the final preparations and getting ready etc etc. The service was really good, and very full – probably about 80 people, judging by the hymnbooks which were used. It was good to have Jean playing the organ again, and Teddy led the service so Nick could relax for the first part. His sermon was about the Trinity in salvation and baptism, and he used the chalkboard to help explain the Trinity – as much as anyone can explain GOD. It was a very helpful visual aid. Basically, he explained that there are 6.2 billion people in the world, sharing one ‘human essence’ – i.e. we have a soul, we can love, we have language, we can reason, we have the ability to create, and we can worship. These are some of the things that make us human, different from the animals. So that is one humanity, shared by 6.2 billion persons. God has a divine essence – He is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, holy and eternal. His essence is shared by three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons sharing one essence – the three in one, the Godhead – all three are equal, but the Son and Spirit have arranged themselves in submission to the Father. It’s a very clear and understandable explanation! After his sermon, he called up the candidates to share their testimonies (optionally) and be prayed for. It was my privilege to pray for Pam, and we had joked beforehand that she had better not start crying during her testimony, otherwise I would cry too! She managed to get through fine, but I got myself all emotional when it came to praying, so had a bit of a pause, during which time the whole congregation welled up! The people love it though – some of them who don’t regularly attend our services, come especially for the baptisms because of all the emotion. Hmm. Enid prayed for Harold and Kieran (he is only 9), and Nick prayed for Donald, who was very nervous. Nick was a bit worried that his back might give out while he was dunking people, but everything was fine! We had the fellowship tea after that, which was also fun. I chatted with Harry, caught up with Jean G, and a few others, and then it was the cleanup. Nick jokingly asked the boys if they wanted to swim – it never even crossed their minds that he might have been joking, and before you could say “John the Baptist”, Aaron was in there with his costume and armbands. Caleb followed shortly after, and Regan and Maddison sat on the edge with their legs in. Harry, Jennifer and Peter were the last ones left, and we ended up just sitting around for a while in the schoolroom, so we invited them home for another cup of tea. Ons het baie lekker gekuier. They left at about 7, and then after getting the boys into bed, Nick and I watched a few episodes of the old BBC production of the Narnia series. Compared to the latest movie-making technology and standards, it was really cheesy, but it was wholesome!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Giant bread

Today I more or less cleaned the house all day. I also made a loaf of cherry and raisin bread, but my days with the breadmaker are numbered, as its original owner is back and enquiring after it. The loaf rose…and rose…and rose…I got a shock when I checked on it late in its baking, as it was almost touching the viewing window! The rest of the day, apart from a quick trip to town, was taken up with vacuuming, dusting, ironing, sorting…the urgency, or motivation rather, is tomorrow’s baptismal service…I just can’t have the four candidates traipsing through a dirty house to change!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friends and fellows

Last day of school holidays…at 11.30 we went out to town, for lunch at Sally’s. It was a gorgeous day, with clear skies, and it was so wonderful to be outside. Nick decided to take the boys out swimming later in the afternoon, as the sun had been shining all day. While he was out, Jean Gurr popped in, and she had no sooner arrived than Nick and the boys came home, after a short swim. Jean wanted to run through the songs for Sunday on the organ next door, so she left quite quickly, but came back again once she had finished, and we caught up with her on their time away – they’ve just been for their first holiday back home, although she said it was frenetic and not much of a holiday. At 4.30 we were all due at Ann’s Place for a presentation about “Images of St Helena” – a photographic representation of the island at this period in time. This project is being run, in conjunction with the Museum, by an American, Kyle Williams, who is here with his family for about two months – they leave again at the end of August. They have a teenage daughter and two boys, aged 10 and 6, who had a great time running around Castle Gardens with our boys. I met Kyle’s wife Genevieve, as we sat next to each other and chatted. They are also homeschooling their kids, for much the same reasons we are. They attend a Pentecostal church in the States. We’ve made a date for Wednesday afternoon for the boys to come here and play, since they obviously hit it off so well!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Do or don't?

This morning I met up with Elza at the coffee shop for our Thursday morning coffee. She said that she’s going to cry next Thursday when I can’t make it anymore because we’re back at school! We had an excellent two hours of chatting, chatting, chatting. The boys had been very happily engaged at the mule yard for most of the time, where several other little kiddies were also playing under the eye of an older man, so the boys were safe and occupied. They had a great time. When Elza and I parted ways, I left the boys playing while I went up to the Star for bread, and I also popped in at the consulate to make an appointment to have my hair cut. She could take me in the afternoon which suited the impulsiveness of the decision. I tried to explain how I wanted it cut, but it turned out to be one of those occasions where, not brave enough to take the plunge on something radical, the hairdresser takes the plunge for you and gives you something completely different to the original idea. I wouldn’t have dared ask her to make it so short considering my husband’s preference regarding hair length, but she did a great job.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Yesterday, Tuesday, Nick had a relaxed day as bible studies are in recess this week for the school holidays. He offered for us to do something together, but there isn’t anything to do! The weather wasn’t good for country-visiting, so we decided just to go out for lunch. We went to Sally’s as usual. I was sitting on a bench eating my usual chicken-salad sandwich, and Nick was standing in front of me drinking his Pepsi, watching a couple at the other side of the garden have a ‘domestic’. Nick said that the chap would be a fool to try anything in public, as there were at least five other guys in the gardens who would have climbed into him. I felt sure that the bloke wouldn’t have hit her anyway, public or not, but Nick said “you’d be surprised what guys will do”, as he spat a mouthful of Pepsi at me. What the??!!!! I looked up at him, dumbfounded to be so suddenly spattered, and he was peering into his can, convinced that a bee had climbed in!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday and Monday

We’re into our second week of school holidays, and the boys assure me that they are not bored. They don’t look bored – they seem to find endless things with which to amuse themselves. Today, for most of the day, it was gloriously sunny and actually quite hot – what a change after yesterday afternoon, where I was so cold after getting back from our lunch engagement, that I got under the duvet! Because of today’s weather, the boys spend a large chunk of time outside, even though it was fairly windy. Nick and I went for an early-morning walk, which was very enjoyable. We went down the ladder today, as Nick wants to get back into swimming, so he was headed for the pool after our walk. We sat on the Ladder talking for some time – this morning the discussion revolved around baby dedications and blessings, and the regulative principle. I carried on the walk home on my own while Nick braved the winter weather (ha) for his first swim since he hurt his back. When he got home, I was busy in the garden, tidying up what remained of the bougainvillea operation. There were still a few stems needing tying up, and lots of leaves lying around. I also did some weeding again – they grow so quickly! I spent a long time in the garden. The last thing I did before heading inside for a bath was to uproot a weed which had found a happy spot in the stone wall. I had to stand on tiptoes and slowly pull hard, which eventually brought it flying out in a cascade of dirt. It was well after 9 before I even got into the bath, so I didn’t bother brushing my teeth or the boys’ – we waited until after tenzees! I did a load of washing after that, which I forgot to hang until nearly lunchtime, but I made up for it by getting all the ironing done this evening. I went out to town at around 11 to run a bunch of errands, which included checking for post, where I was really excited to find a parcel from Letraset which I had ordered. The lady at Letraset in the UK who was handling my order said that it was returned to her from the States, with a postal note saying that the address was not valid. Strange, since I often make use of that address. After some debate backward and forward – she wanted to be sure that there was an actual country in my address, not understanding that “Island of St Helena” qualifies as a country – she posted the parcel directly to here. I was anticipating a long wait, as this happened less than two weeks ago – so I was dumbfounded to see it. That really must be a record speed for things to get here! I also received the latest Sonlight catalogue in the post, which I took a look at, and have started ticking off the items we will want. I plan to buy a lot of extra readers, as both boys have suddenly become interested in reading by themselves. This is a really big thing…we very much want to instil in them a love of reading, and what better way to encourage this good start than by purchasing interesting and engaging books to read! Sonlight carries an excellent range of readers. We will be getting the entire set of necessary books for Aaron, but will supplement with books I have selected from the optional intermediate and advanced packages. I can’t actually believe that it’s nearly time to be ordering the next curriculum, but there you go! I’ll probably order in August or so. We’re a week away from being halfway through our current year’s schedule. After this very laid-back afternoon, with absolutely no appointments, groups or urgent things to do, I made hotdogs for supper.

Did I mention that the boys caught a caterpillar a few weeks ago, which changed into a pupa a few days later? We were very excited about this, as we have studied the life-cycle of moths and butterflies, so we have been keeping an anxious eye on the bottled pupa. Being a homeschooling parent I take great interest in this kind of stuff, otherwise I’m pretty sure it would have been binned a long time ago. Well do you know what I found this morning when I looked in the bottle? I didn’t either, as the pupa had changed but I couldn’t see anything – it just appeared to have opened up a bit on one side. I thought, ‘shame, maybe it died trying to get out’, but when I looked again later, I saw the beautiful new moth sitting at the top of the bottle, on the underside of the paper towel which had been elastically attached over the top of the bottle. I just didn’t see it the first time around. We were all very excited about our very first caterpillar/pupa/moth metamorphosis.

Yesterday we had a good afternoon having lunch and fellowship with Jeff, Pam and their daughter Maddison. Pam is an Anglican who is one of the baptismal candidates for next Sunday. It was a very informal and enjoyable visit. Nick and I had taken our instruments, as Pam is going to be joining us in the worship – she plays guitar too. We had a quick practice of the songs we would be doing in the evening service, and then played through a bunch of other worship songs, singing as we went. The boys, meanwhile, were watching a DVD on Maddy’s computer, and Jeff was washing dishes! We left there at about 4.30ish, by which time I was really really cold. It had rained a bit, but the air temperature had dropped too. So, that was our weekend.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yet another great kitchen failure

Yesterday hardly bears mentioning – I may as well go back to a previous blog from a Saturday and copy and paste it! We had Good News Club, went to town, had ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch, watched a DVD, and the rest of the day we were just at home together. I had to go out quickly in the evening for biscuits for today’s pudding, as we’re going out to lunch. I couldn’t find any tennis biscuits at the Star though and didn’t feel like going up to Thorpes in the dark and drizzle which was 6.30 pm, so the pudding was doomed from the start (more about that just now). Oh, winter officially started yesterday, although one would never know that we’re in winter. One of our ex-pat friends said this is like an English summer.

This morning I cut my hair, as it was looking and feeling ‘uncut’. I had had in mind to go back to the hairdresser at the consulate, as he did such a good job, but he is leaving the island with his young son as his wife has been cheating on him with one of the French labourers involved in the rock stabilisation project. It’s pretty sad really, in that they were one of the few young families where the mother and father were actually married. His wife is staying – she is the other hairdresser at the consulate, but I wasn’t sure if they would be having business as normal when their lives are falling apart. So, being too impatient to see what happens, I took scissors to locks again myself. It turned out shorter than I had anticipated, although I don’t really know what I was expecting. I can’t imagine that Nick is going to be very complimentary when he gets home! Since we’re going out to lunch today, I offered to bring the pudding, which I had planned would be lemon custard fridge-tart. Sadly, when I came to making it this morning, both tins of condensed milk I had in the cupboard had expired in February…the contents were light brown and thick. I’m not sure if condensed milk would naturally caramelize on its own eventually, but this finding makes me wonder! Not being very good at improvising as far as cooking goes, I’ve just opened a tin of peaches, and poured the custard into a jug. The custard was supposed to be really thick for the original pudding, but what do you know? I didn’t have quite enough custard powder left in the jar, so it wouldn’t have worked in the pudding either. Turned out to be great for pouring though!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Haircuts and coffee

This morning I had arranged to meet Elza at the coffee shop for the Thursday morning coffee, but the weather was very unsettled and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. I got to the coffee co a little early, by which time the sun was shining beautifully again, and I helped one of the ladies to wipe down the benches and tables. Elza arrived soon after, but Jennifer must have forgotten. I gave Elza the salt and pepper grinders which I had beaded, with which she was thrilled. We had a good time of chatting, and she still had plenty of things to tell me about the holiday – they were in Europe for a few weeks first, before going home to SA for the op. I cut the boys’ hair during the afternoon. Caleb really hasn’t changed much in appearance in about the last four years!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clean bill of health

I had my follow-up visit at the doctor this morning, to discuss the results of the mole which was sent to Cape Town for analysis. After about a half-hour wait, Dr Kruger saw me. She launched straight into the reading of the medical report which was faxed from Cape Town, which involved a lot of medi-babble which all sounded like Latin. The only things I really understood were ‘carcinoma’ and ‘excised’ and ‘clear’. She translated the report for me, to say that the mole was cancerous, but that the lab analysis showed that all the cancer was removed and so I am fine. I guess this is fairly standard for many people who have growths and things cut out or burned off, but I can now say that “I’m a cancer survivor”!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nick apparently a heretic

I’ve had a super-productive day today. Must be from the vitamins that Elza gave me yesterday! This morning I wanted to really knuckle down for some scrapping, but I had some housework to do before I could get started, and then had to faf about in my room for a while, tidying and sorting, so it was really only after the morning news that I got started. Worked for about an hour, then went downstairs for tenzees, to hang up washing, and I even made a batch of date squares. Back up to my room after that, and I finished the page! I’m sure that was the fastest I’ve done – probably about two hours of work. Lunch was a sandwich and boiled egg for the boys, although they only ate the white, so I chopped up the yolk and added it to last night’s left-over tuna, with some onion and mayo, for Nick and me. That was tasty. After lunch I set to work on the next scrapbook page for a short while, which will be called “Bonnie Wee Bairn”, featuring Nick as a 2-year-old in Scotland. I needed to get to town during the afternoon, because I wanted to check for fruit at the Star. Aaron came along, and we bought two bags of apples, four loose apples, two grapefruit and two tomatoes. Quite a marvellous find. I also bought some cheese which was quite inexpensive, and a few other bits and pieces I needed. I was only home again long enough to pack away the groceries before Nick and I went out to take Steve’s car home. I was very nervous (being a MOM) to drive down the track, which wasn’t as bad as the last time we were there, but still sufficiently muddy and watery to cause me to assume the typical driving posture of a nervous driver – you’ve all seen it – sitting forward in the seat, neck craned as far over the steering wheel as possible, and peering over the bonnet. To add to this anxiety, a big black dog came running at the car from somewhere, barking at me in a frighteningly ferocious manner. This didn’t aid my concentration, but thankfully I didn’t slide off the track with my mud-enlarged tyres into the field where I could have been crushed by a surprised bull. You know how the mind works. We quickly offloaded a few boxes that Nick had collected for Steve from the docks earlier this morning, checked the house to see that everything was in order, then went home again. The boys had been playing on their own, being fairly used to being home alone. It was time for threezees at that point, which was raisin bread and an apple, and then I needed to get the macaroni together. Once that was done and ready to go into the oven, I cleaned the kitchen, took the washing in and remade the boys’ beds. I actually was going to start with the vacuuming in the lounge, but just as I was lugging the vacuum cleaner into there, Harry and Peter arrived at the front door. They visited with Nick for about half an hour, and had a good chat. Caleb, of his own accord, got cups down and a tray out, so I could make tea for the gents. I got on with the rest of the housework after they had left. Aaron, of his own accord, got all the chairs out in readiness for tonight’s bible study. Usually we only do this after supper, but today the boys got a spurt of helpfulness in them, which was rewarded with a sticker on the chart!

Come back with me to yesterday. I was out more than I was at home! I did a bit of housework and pottering in the early morning, then after I had hung up the washing I went to town quickly, then to Elza. I took my museum scrapbook to show her – she wanted to see it before Lucy takes ownership of it. She loved it all which was very encouraging. We had a good visit – as always, it’s difficult to get away. After a quick lunch, I had my last beading afternoon for a few months, as Liz leaves for her UK holiday on Sunday. Again, it was just the two of us, and again, we had a good time together. I fetched Maddy from school again, stopping at the HTH grocery store on the way home. The boys were pleased to have her with them for a short time again, as she really engages them so well with various games. I didn’t have any supper preparation as it was just going to be tuna and chips, so in the between time I read over the chapter for the girls’ group, and then quickly went to town again.

Our water has gone clear again – such good news for us! It actually tastes a whole lot better too. It’s a relief to bath in clean water.

Tammy’s new CD has come back to the island after being reproduced in the UK – i.e. the master copy that Nick engineered was taken to the UK, where lots of copies were made, and the sleeve insert done etc etc. He saw it today for the first time, and brought home a copy – it looks really professional. Tammy’s photos are really good, and the overall effect is just so excellent. It will only be released in four weeks though, as Darrin and Sharon need to set up their website for internet orders and that sort of thing. I’m sure Tammy is just bursting to have it on the shelves!

A big news item for us at the moment is one surrounding the potential baptism of one of our ladies. She is an Anglican “by birth”, but has been attending our services for some time and feels convicted to obey the Lord’s commandment to be baptized. However, a complication arose in that if she is baptized, she will not be permitted a burial in the Anglican cemetery, according to one of the priests. This is a big problem because her sister is buried there, and being a sentimental soul, she wants a spot next to her sister. Nick has taken it up with the bishop, a locum as the regular Bishop has just left for a holiday. The bishop informed Nick that it is heresy to rebaptize a person, but was not interested to discuss the Scriptures with Nick. This might even need to go into the temporary Bishop’s “pastoral report”!

Monday, June 16, 2008

People-full weekend

Steve and Maureen swung by our place in the afternoon, ready to go down to the docks to board the ship. Our plan was to accompany them, and then bring their car back with us, so as to take it to their house and leave it there for the duration of their time away. It was a right party at the wharf, with everyone and their auntie there to bid farewell to their loved ones. Sarel and Elza, and Harry and Jenny were there to see S&M off as well. We stood around chatting for a while, and when the call was issued for passengers to head through the mule yard, we said our goodbyes to Steve and Maureen. In their usual style, they were very unexcited – much like Nick! After they had left, we sat down at the coffee shop with our ex-pat social group and had a very good time over cappuccinos. The boys, in the meantime, had disappeared in the mule yard, lost among friends and the playground equipment. We didn’t see hide or hair of them until we were nearly ready to leave. Church this evening was outstanding – I told Nick it was one of his best. He made God big again – challenging our thoughts on God’s sovereignty. Does rain make plants grow, or is it God? Does medicine make us better, or is it God? Does God control every single wave that ripples in the ocean, and every rock on the cliff, and every drop of rain that falls? If we say ‘no’, then we have to be careful that we don’t side with those who say that God set the universe in motion and wound it like a clock, throwing it off to see what would happen, every now and then controlling events here and there. God is much more in control of everything than we can imagine! The actual message was from Acts 4:23-31, about the early believers’ long prayer.

Yesterday was another reasonably busy and social day. After GNC, I went on my own to town first, and then to Elza to drop off a package of scrapping goodies she had ordered through Lorna, which I had to pass on as Lorna is off-island. She was as keen to show me all the papers and goodies she brought back with her as I was to see them! I spent over an hour there, and it was 1 pm by the time I got home for lunch. I expected Nick and the boys to either be starving and irritable, or to have seen to their own lunch, but they were neither – Nick had just finished playing guitar and had come downstairs, and the boys were happily rearranging the lounge and hadn’t particularly noticed that they were hungry. After a brief discussion as to what the nature of Saturday lunches should be and usually is, I persuaded Nick to come with me to town to buy the apparently necessary cold meat and cheese. At 4 pm we were due at Harry and Jennifer for supper, in honour of Harry’s birthday. Steve and Maureen where already there, and another couple whom we hadn’t met arrived about an hour later. It was an excellent afternoon and evening of chatting and laughing. M & I helped J in the kitchen, where she was cooking up an enormous batch of pork dumplings, followed by fried chicken, to go with rice and peas – Chinese style. There wasn’t much space left for pudding, let alone the chocolate cake which followed! After supper, the men and women naturally separated to talk business. After the boys had gone to bed (very willingly), we had a good chat about all sorts of things, ranging from dogs and the advantages of female dogs and puppies, to the problem of street children and the heart of the matter which is that people aren’t using God’s instruction manual to live their lives.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A morning at the docks

This morning, inexplicably, we were all awake well before 6 am, even though it was pitch black still, and no amount of closing the eyes would bring sleep back. Nick said he was going to go for a walk, and I initially declined, but suggested he ask the boys, as we could hear them talking. They were keen of course, so I decided to go along too. We had cereal first, and then by about 6.30 we were ready. We could feel a bit of rain in the air though, and since I didn’t want the boys walking about in the rain (can get quite cold), we just did a shortened route, down Shy Road and up past the garage. The market serves breakfast and there were such tantalizing smells wafting out, I almost went home and fried onions! After bathing and getting dressed, we had a bit of time to kill before going to the docks at 8.30 to meet Elza and Sarel. Steve and Maureen were standing there waiting already, and Harry and Jenny had also arrived. It was a regular social event, with them and so many other people to talk to while waiting! S&E came through pretty quickly, as she had had to take the air taxi, still not being very mobile after her hip operation. We decided to join in with the party and go to the Coffee Shop with everyone, which was fun – I managed to chat quite a bit with Elza, even though we were at different tables! The weather cleared while we were there, with the sun coming out in full force – great to be outside. After parting ways with the merry company at the coffee co, we meandered through town. I had a short shopping list, which took us all over town, and by the time I was finished we were ready for an early lunch at Sally’s. Finally home at about 12.30. Nick wanted to try locate his guitar and pedal which he bought from a friend in Cape Town, which the Bloems had brought as part of their hold baggage. He had no sooner left for customs, than a lady phoned from the shipping office to say that the purser had phoned them from the ship to say that his guitar was on board, and would he like to come and collect it. She managed to get hold of him at customs, and so after a short wait for a ferry, he actually boarded the ship to retrieve his guitar and pedal from the purser’s office! Pretty radical – a free boat ride!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden time

This morning I was informed by my firstborn that moms are just nervous people – apparently all moms, not just his. They warn you to be careful all the time, they get nervous when they’re driving, and nervous when their kids are climbing things. At least I know I’m not alone then. We had a fairly decent time in school, and we’ve now finished with Ancient Egypt and have moved to Ancient Greece. It’s all very interesting – we’re doing all the many Greek Myths as our read-aloud, which ties in with the history.

During the afternoon I was at a loose end – I was going to do some baking, but Nick suggested as an alternative that I could weed the front garden. Usually I bristle when he uses “you” and “weed” in the same sentence especially when “should” appears in between, unless it’s something like “you shouldn’t smoke weed”, but today I actually thought it was quite a grand idea. The portulackas are really doing well in both front garden sections, and looking healthy and succulent, so we want those to spread and cover over the whole of both beds. I weeded out all the other junk which had sprung up after the rain, which was quite easy because the ground was so moist – not muddy, just soft. I was pleased to see many little portulacka plants growing, which seem to have sprung up from seed. Once I had done the weeding, I thought I might give the bougainvillea a bit of a trim – it was really overgrown and looking scraggly. We haven’t trimmed it once since its major cut-down before we went on holiday. I was about halfway with that, when Nick came back from visiting Harry down the road, whose birthday it was today, and promptly got a saw and pitchfork to completely remove the thing. He cut down a few of the big branches first, with me as his helper laying all the strands and branches neatly over a string for later tying up (we made about five bundles of cuttings for the rubbish men to take away) before being able to actually dig up the root. He only did one of the three today, but the other two have been cut right down so will just need to be dug up. Nick has a little orange tree growing in a pot, so he’s going to reserve the space where the b/vs have come out for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Just another Manic Monday (oh-ooo-oh)

Today was my very busy Monday, exacerbated by having to fetch Maddison, one of the girls who comes to GNC but not to the Monday group due to living out of town, who wanted to come. I fetched her from school after doing my beading at Liz – she attends St Paul’s, which is just around the corner from there. She came home with me, and while I was making the supper, so as to have it ready for later, she entertained the boys. It was pretty cool having her there as I didn’t need to actually occupy her with anything! We had arranged to have a picnic for the girls’ group, as it is Kimberley’s last week before she leaves on the ship on Sunday, going to somewhere in the States for about 8 months. It was a fun hour and a half, and all the girls brought way too much food, and ate and laughed, and took photos of each other with their digital cameras, then photos of two of them together, three together, four together, different combinations of themselves, different poses with the different combinations, the dog that came in the door, the card that I made for Kimberley, and most probably the food on the table too. I taught them a cup-shuffling-hand-slapping table game, which was quite fun although they didn’t all get the complicated movements. I finally managed to drag Keisha and Tysha out of the schoolroom at 5.30 to take them home, and by the time I was back home, supper was ready. Maddison joined us for supper, as the plan was that she could meet up with her mom at the Consulate for a ladies’ orchestra practice. Phew!

Our water is so brown at the moment, you can actually see its colour as it runs out of the tap. My theory is that with all the rain (although only a tiny bit today, in the morning – otherwise sunny and warm), mud has run into the reservoirs, which is now in the system. Not very appealing. My favourite part is seeing the brown scum forming in the pot where the pasta was cooking.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lots of rain = lots of mud

We went to Steve and Maureen’s house for supper last night, which was really great. Harry and Jenny should have been there too, but Harry has been quite unwell the last few days and they had to cancel. We nearly cancelled too, because the rain makes their track extremely muddy and a little dangerous, but it is the last time we will see them socially before they go on holiday next weekend. We left home at about 4.45 to get there by 5, but couldn’t get up Side Hill Path because it was closed – the Public Works Department was clearing rocks off the road, and the Fire Department was washing mud away. We had to go back through town, up past the hospital, and via Constitution Hill road, which was also kind of treacherous with all the small rocks that had been washed onto the road. The rainwater was simply running down the roads – we drove past a brand new waterfall, gushing over the embankment onto the road from the road above the hairpin bend. We were quite amazed at the volume of water on the roads. When we got to S&M’s track, I was horrified – had I been alone, I would either have turned around and gone home, or walked all the way down to their house to ask Steve to come and drive the car! The water was lying in huge puddles – not bad to drive through, IF you know what lies underneath. Nick just took it very slowly, and we got to the bottom at their house with no incidents. The tyres were thickly coated with mud so that the car was starting to slip, but Nick kept it on the track very well. Getting up the track was even more terrifying – the first attempt was no good and the car just couldn’t go any further, so Nick had to roll down and try gather a bit more speed – this done without doing a wheel spin on the loose stones which have been laid over their driveway, which took us up sufficiently to get past the steepest uphill. Was I ever glad to get home! The evening itself though was very pleasant. Maureen had planned for supper to be ready by 5.30, so that the boys wouldn’t have a late dinner, which was thoughtful of her. We made a chicken dish, with rice, brussel sprouts and mixed veggies (the sprouts for the boys, the mixed vegs for the boys). Pudding was peaches and yoghurt in chocolate cups, and then we had mango liquorice from Australia afterward. Conversation was bounteous and varied. The boys went to bed at 7, as usual, but Caleb was having an asthmatic reaction to something and hadn’t brought his pump, so couldn’t settle – he came and sat on my lap for a while, and then Aaron followed. Since they were now out of bed well after their bedtime, they got very silly. Since there was no hope of getting them to sleep there, we just went home. It had been a very good evening though.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Don't leave stuff lying around!

This morning didn’t start off too well, as the housework situation got the better of me and I got angry that everyone messes up and I have to clean it. After throwing a few of the boys’ things around, I left the house before school had even begun – just drove down to the docks, and sat there for a while. Then the good idea came to me of penalizing the boys by means of confiscating any toys left lying around after I have issued a tidy-up order, which they can redeem by buying back from me. They will also have to pay me money any time they leave a mess, eg spilled milk, things left out of kitchen cupboards, etc. I went home and explained the situation to them very calmly, and they understand now the problem and the proposed solution. I explained that they will need to grow up to be men of character who don’t simply leave things lying about for other people to pick up, but men who can tidy up and clean up after themselves! By that time it was nearly 10 am, but we had a quick spelling test and a sort of game of categorizing words, and then we had tenzees. It was raining quite heavily, and the new bathroom curtain is already soiled by the brown water which drips onto the windowsill. Speaking of brown water, our water is so dirty at the moment that the load of washing I did this morning came out dirtier than it went in. I had to rinse out two white t-shirts to try to remove the brown spots. The bathwater leaves a ring if it’s left sitting, and it’s not from body dirt! We finished school shortly after 12, and went out for lunch – instead of our usual Sally’s, we went to Ardees, as there is nowhere to sit outside and eat our lunch if it’s raining, which it still was. Vincent came by during the afternoon, and visited with Nick for a while, between Nick getting home from prison and going out to visit a lady who wants to be baptized. The boys were hoping that their friends would come by for their Friday afternoon ‘meeting’, but since they weren’t sure if the other boys knew it was supposed to be a weekly event, they weren’t too crushed when no-one arrived. Instead, they played outside, using a flipper and long pole as a homemade bat, at which was bowled a tiny rubber bouncy ball.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Understood Aaron

It’s been raining almost all day today…sometimes heavily, other times just a drizzle. Very nice though – I enjoy the rain. It’s not very cold either, so really makes the day quite nice. Nick hates this weather – he feels hemmed in. The boys seem to be indifferent. I really didn’t feel like doing school this morning, so Nick suggested I put on a DVD for the boys and just do my own thing. I told him, however, that we’ll fall behind our schedule, so it’s best just to get on and do it! Once we had started it was all fine. During the second session, in the reading of “Understood Betsy”, when Betsy received a letter from her Aunt Frances to say that she would be coming on the train to take Betsy home, and Betsy was quite devastated, Aaron burst into tears. So there were the two of us crying, while Caleb was sighing and wishing we would just stop it. He got up and left, returning from the kitchen with a towel to dry our eyes! It was really very funny. I struggled to read after that – I was all choked up, mostly because of Aaron’s reaction! We finished school just after 12, then had fresh homemade six-seed bead with cheese and mayonnaise. After lunch I finished the sewing I had started yesterday. Nick’s Sandy Bay Bible Study for this evening was cancelled because of the rain – the roads tend to get closed or blocked or dangerous, so he cancelled the Bluehill study as well. It’s such a rarity to have him home on a Thursday evening – nice!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Some bad news from last night, although let me start with the happy ending that nobody was hurt. After bible study, Shirley’s husband Tony came to fetch her as he always does, at 9 pm. She had no sooner left, and we had started with the tea, than she was in the house again, saying “fire”. There was some confusion, and then Nick rushing into the kitchen for water, and then a few of us finding containers to hold more water, to throw on their car, which had spontaneously combusted. It was an electrical fire, which started in the engine just as they were driving up the road from our house – they were as far as the church’s front door when it just went “pfft” and a flame appeared from the bonnet. They got out as quickly as they could, which was quite slow as Tony has a bad hip, plus they had collected another lady on the way who moves like a sloth due to painful joints and age, all the while worrying about the car exploding. Teddy phoned the fire department from our house, but they took ages to arrive, so in the meantime we kept running back and forth with jugs of water while the flames grew bigger, until Nick got the housepipe in the alley sorted out and was doing his best with it, all the while breathing in lungfuls of the poisonous air. We had to all get out of the manse, under the police department’s orders, which meant rousing the boys and hustling them out the house, where they were ushered to Steve’s parked car to watch from a safe (and warm) place. By the time the fire department arrived, the flames had eaten most of the interior of the car, so we knew it would be a write-off. We all just stood around outside watching helplessly, while clouds of smoke billowed out, filling the air with the stench of burning rubber. Tony put on a brave face, although he really loved the car, had had it for 22 years and loved to tinker on it. They had just paid out loads of money to get it serviced and fixed up, so it had a new lease on life, as well as ₤20 of petrol in the tank. Shirley was also a bit traumatized, but both had the external attitude of “oh well”.

School this week has been pretty good. I was feeling quite cheerful this morning, so was singing to the boys and acting a bit too weird for their liking! Aaron was overcome during the reading of “Missionary Stories” where God held back rain in Korea long enough for the American missionaries to hold a week of outreach meetings, addressing about 100,000 people over five nights – exciting story, and I would love to think that the Holy Spirit is active in Aaron’s life and causing the joy, but he reacted in the same way during “Understood Betsy” where Betsy and Molly managed to get home safely and the Putney cousins were actually proud of Betsy, and how pleased she was…he and I were both nearly in tears! Caleb’s eyes went watery too, but only because he was looking at my teary eyes, he said.

During tenzees we went to the schoolyard to have a look at the burned-out car which is being temporarily stored there. We had left our baby dove outside in the sun, where an adult dove had come to eat some of the food we left there. Our little dove did its usual shivering act which it does anytime an adult is near, and we always think any interaction with other doves is good for it. It flew quite far this morning, out of my hand onto the step, which was halfway across the yard, and although it didn’t achieve any lift, it certainly maintained a good horizontal drift. When we got back into our yard 10 minutes later after looking at the car, our dove and the adult were nowhere to be seen. We looked all over the yard, in the grass, and even in the house, but it’s just vanished. The options are: 1) a cat took it; 2) it suddenly learned how to fly up and away, perhaps with the encouragement of the adult, although I’m sure the lack of tail feathers makes this an unlikely explanation; 3) it is still in the yard somewhere and we can’t find it. Not that I mind that the bird is gone, but I don’t like not knowing what happened to it. When your baby flaps its wings and leaves the nest, you want to see it fly safely away – not simply turn your back and have it disappear on you!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I devoted myself almost exclusively to housework this afternoon, and really got through a lot. I thoroughly cleaned the diningroom, which included turning over the soil in the pot on whose plant the dove lives, and cleaning said dove, vacuuming, dusting, and retrieving the cushions for the couches from Nick’s office where they have been for so long as sound proofing agents, before heading upstairs. During all this I also went to visit Caroline. The visits are so pointless though – I took the dove to show her, as she loves doves (God’s holy doves), and she nearly squeezed it to death trying to kiss it. Fortunately it survived. She can’t really hear what I’m saying though, even if I speak slowly and clearly, so not much of a conversation can be had. School today was fine, as it was yesterday. I’ve been blessed with “big chunks of patience”. In yesterday’s reading of “Understood Betsy”, Aaron was nearly crying for joy when Betsy and her friends sewed new clothes for poor little ‘Lias, which were subsequently sold for whisky by his wicked stepfather. ‘Lias got adopted in the end, which was what the girls were hoping for, so it was a super happy ending to the otherwise very sad little chapter. Today we only read half a chapter, which left Betsy and her little friend Molly alone at the County Fair with no ride home. The boys are a bit anxious as to the outcome.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ah, it's that time again

Confession time: today I turned 34. I had a super day, and was certainly quite spoiled. The day started a little too early though, when the boys came in before 7 (it was still dark) with their cards. I had to look at them by torchlight! After breakfast I listened to the song which Nick wrote for me, which he had recorded, so we sat and listened together. It is very beautiful. Then it was the usual stuff – Nick had prayer meeting, and then we had Good News Club. He used my birthday as an object lesson (inspired at 4 am Saturday morning when the rain thudding through the ceiling into the strategically-placed dustbin kept us awake), teaching about being born again and having two birthdays. He had a moment of silent prayer after the lesson, inviting anyone who wanted to be reborn to ask God to forgive them and make them spiritually alive. It was a very good lesson. He asked the kids to guess how old I was, and most of the answers were somewhere in the 20s! After GNC, the real fun began. Nick and the boys took me shoe shopping, as gifts from the boys. I had in mind to get a pair of casual shoes, which I wear constantly in winter. We went first to the shop in China Lane, but there was nothing to be found there, so hopped it off down town to Y&T, which we thought was the most likely place to find something good. We did find something – I found two pairs that I liked and couldn’t choose, so Nick said I should get both, which I did (one pair from each boy!). That done, we went to Ardees for lunch – the boys shared a cheeseburger and chips, Nick had a cheeseburger and chips, and I had the fish, which was outstanding. We saw Harry and Jenny in the market, as Jenny was selling some of her confectionary – toffee apples, koeksisters, fudge and cakes. Nick chatted with them for a while and I browsed the bookshop in the market, buying a little book for the boys. On getting home, we watched a DVD together, then we just had a little time to kill before going out to the Cuttings. Steve and Maureen were already there. It was a wonderful afternoon – Jennifer had made a cake, beautifully iced, which I was made to cut (Nick tried to get a photo of the two of us standing behind the cake, but the photo here was the result – she was camera shy and couldn’t be persuaded!). She also provided chips, sweeties and more koeksisters. We sat around the diningroom table having our tea, and then the ladies and gentlemen separated – the men into the lounge, Jenny into the kitchen to start on supper, and Maureen and I in the diningroom where we could still talk to Jenny through the serving hatch. It was very relaxed and companionable. The boys played outside mostly, but also looked at their books inside and chatted to the grown-ups a bit. After a not-long-enough gap, supper was ready, which was pork chops, t-bone steaks, chips, sweetcorn and salad. Jenny is an excellent cook, and very relaxed about everything. We couldn’t manage any pudding, which was a tipsy tart, so had to bring the whole thing home with us, along with half of the birthday cake which we couldn’t finish at the time!

Going back to yesterday (Friday), I needed to be at the dentist early, but even so I was seen last as I hadn’t let anyone know I was there, so they didn’t get the order right. Didn’t really matter, since I had a book to read and I tried not to mind that we would miss a chunk of school again. He had to drill out part of the existing tooth to get something for the filling to hold on to, and in order to do that he had to numb my gum. This he did by means of three separate injections, all of them painful, and one of them into the gum where the tooth meets it! It seems that it’s worked this time though – as Roger said, he feels ‘in his waters’ that this is the keeper! I saw him on Saturday morning in town and he asked after it; I also saw his assistant who asked how I was! Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a little village where everyone knows everyone’s business…then I remember that it’s not a village, it’s a town, and everyone does know everyone’s business!

Caleb and Aaron took the initiative of starting up a ‘meeting’ – they have been listening to way too much Secret 7. They invited four of their friends from the Good News Club, who dutifully turned up at our house today for the meeting. The agenda was something along the lines of pray, discuss what is happening with the mountains and the rock stabilization project, see if anyone else had any other comments, and then play. They couldn’t meet in the back yard though as it was raining, and I certainly didn’t want six boisterous boys romping in the lounge, so Nick took them to the schoolroom. Agenda forgotten, they spent the next hour throwing Frisbees around and riding scooters up and down the length of the room. They had loads of fun, and I assume this will be a regular play slot for them. I’m impressed that they dreamed up this scheme by themselves; more impressed that the other boys remembered!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Nurse Nick? Not!!

Today’s grand Sunday lunch was a chicken concoction with bacon, pineapple, peppers, peas, corn, pasta and a packet mix sauce of sorts. It was nice, but the boys didn’t really take to it. We had 1/3 of the tipsy tart with fresh custard, the other 2/3 being in the freezer already. Did you know that when you’re making custard, you don’t need to mix the custard powder, sugar and milk, and boil the milk separately? You can actually put everything in the pot together, and bring it to the boil together. I tried this today for the first time after Maureen saw me making custard the last time, and recommended this method. I was hesitant, as I never known it to work any other way, but it actually worked perfectly – and you use one less pot! We let the baby dove wander around outside for a while, in the sunshine. There was another dove nearby, and our baby ran to it and shivered in excitement, but there was very little interaction. Ours seems quite big compared to the adult – it just needs its tail feathers to grow. It’s still eating well and pooing lots, so seems to be fine. The plan for the afternoon was that after I washed the dishes, Nick would take my stitches out. He seemed confident that he could do it, and since he sounded so self-assured I was happy for him to do it. However, after taking a close look at them, he decided that he wouldn’t be able to after all, because there were two which seemed to be attached to one another, and he thought he might get an elbow in the head if he hurt me. Instead, he drove me to the hospital (I could have gone alone, but begged for the moral support), where we quickly found a nurse who did it in a flash. Because they were joined, she only needed to sever one, and they came out together. It stung slightly, but otherwise was pretty painless. I’m hugely relieved to have that done! The wound has closed up nicely, and now the scar and surrounding area just need to heal. A note for all those currently with stitches in them: don’t get the doctor to do it! Doctors are very good at putting sutures in, but hopeless at removing them. Find a nurse!