Thursday, July 31, 2008

Four extra hands

Well, this morning I was at the dentist at 8.15, feeling very pleased that I was the first patient in the waiting room (actually, the only person who was there before me was the cleaning lady). I waited until 8.45, when I was called in, only to be told that they were to be going into theatre shortly, and so wouldn’t have time to do my filling this morning – it is going to be a bleeder, they reckon, and he’s got to put a pin in to hold the filling in place, so I have been scheduled for tomorrow at 2.15. School was pretty awful this morning, and I had to expel Caleb from class during the first session. We had a good talk afterwards though and mended any gaps in our relationship. It’s strange that I’m having these problems with him as he really doesn’t struggle very much with anything in school. The second part was just the reading and read-alouds, so that was all fine. We got to see what the Braille alphabet looks like – quite interesting! The boys helped me make lunch, since they wanted tuna snackwiches (using last night’s left-over tuna; we had steaks). I took the bread out of the freezer and set it out on the counter for them to butter, and went up to the loo. When I came down I nearly laughed at their attempts to butter the bread – Caleb hadn’t done too badly, although he had only done one out of every two slices of bread, and not all the way to the edge, but Aaron was still busy with his. He was simply trying to smear on the marg with the flat of the knife, instead of actually spreading it with the knife at an angle to the bread. I can’t really describe it properly, but I thought it was a very precious attempt. I showed him how to do it properly, but then carried on with the rest of them myself. Then they chopped up the tuna in the Braun, and helped to mix the mayonnaise in. They seem to enjoy being kitchen helpers.

At 1.30 I had an appointment to see Lucy at the Museum to print out the book. We’ve decided to print it on A4, so it is about 20cm square, to make the prototype smaller than the final product will be. I’m thrilled even with this intermediate result. We printed all the pages, and everything looks so real – still very touchable, even though everything is flat! The quality of the scans is excellent, so that even at this smaller size, the text is absolutely legible. I have to go in on Monday again to finalise some more printing, but we managed to sort out the page order, so I am busy with assembling most of it tonight into an actual book format. It’s really exciting to see it looking like this!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tooth filled ... and ... not filled

This morning I cracked a filling. Remember the tooth that was most recently worked on, where the third time was supposed to be the keeper? It kept, but only until now. So vexing. I don’t know what happened, but the filling was moving around a lot and I didn’t really think I should leave it, so at 8.30 I was at the dentist (and very neatly parallel parked, I might add). The waiting room was crowded, so after about half an hour’s wait, I thought I should rather ask the receptionist for a proper appointment since I wasn’t actually in pain. There was nothing for about three weeks, other than one little slot later in the morning today, so I took it with glee! I went home and did the bulk of school, and was back in the waiting room at 11.15. It’s a new dentist again, so he had to look at my records and I saw his eyebrow lift. A bit of probing dislodged the old filling and it nearly went straight down my throat, but I sat up in time and took it out. He explained that the tooth really needs a crown, which they don’t do on the island, but I assured him that I would be happy if he could just save the tooth and keep it going with temporary fillings, even if I have to come back every month when it falls out! He didn’t need to do an injection, just filled it up again which took some time because the drill was acting up, but eventually he got it sorted out.

I went straight to town for a few goodies after that, and by the time I got home, Nick had already seen to the boys’ lunch and was about to do an art lesson with them. Harry arrived though so that was postponed and instead I finished our read-alouds. Harry finished his visit as we finished school, so Nick continued with his art lesson on shading. I participated very obligingly, since Nick had already photocopied one of the pages for me to colour in, although I was wanting to make a batch of cookies. I let the boys help me with them when they had finished – so easy, since it’s a packet mix (10p on the reduction shelf). Aaron helped to mix the dough nicely with his hands, and both boys shaped them into flattened rounds. Caleb did the spray and cook outside. The boys had to exercise a great deal of patience in waiting until threezees before eating theirs! I had one of mine while it was still warm and soft, but I felt a very hard bit in it which was in fact this morning’s filling, already out. So here I sit with a big hole in my tooth. I’ll have to go back tomorrow morning. Nick went off to his guitar lesson in the afternoon, and I had the afternoon at home, on my own.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dustpan for Jesus

School was a trial this morning in all areas – language, Maths, reading and read-alouds! The boys had to write a few sentences describing how “the sun on your skin feels like a good back rub”. I thought the assignment was a bit vague, and they really struggled. This I can deal with. What irks me is Caleb’s attitude to things that are difficult for him – he gives up straight away and it’s very difficult to even get him to try. Then in Maths we had to deal with time – hours and half hours are fine for them, but they still battle with the ‘quarter to’. I explained it again for the umpteenth time, but of course had to keep reminding the boys to listen and pay attention. Then it was a fight over who got to read first, and despite playing ching-chong-cha, there were still tears from Aaron who had to read second. During the reading of the missionary story, which was a touching story about a missionary in South Africa and a little black boy who got saved and renamed himself ‘dustpan’ because he wanted to carry out the dirt (sin) from the lives of his family and friends, Caleb just laughed about the name and couldn’t get past that. I got so fed up eventually that I went grocery shopping. Aaron came to help. I was starving by this time though as it was lunch time but we didn’t have any bread anyway, so it was tough going! After lunch we had to finish school, which was slightly better than the morning section, then I started with supper preparations, as I knew I would run late if I left it all until after Pam had left. I was just finishing off when she arrived, and we played guitar for an hour before looking at the holiday bible club stuff. She also comes prepared with interesting Maths goodies for the boys – today she did paper folding to produce a kite. She is a qualified Maths teacher, and is finding ways of helping me make Maths more fun for the boys.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Museum scrapbook progressing

I didn’t go walking this morning although I could have and should have, but instead I did a bit of scrapping on a page of Caleb, which is coming along slowly. School was okay, back to our curriculum, but I struggled a bit to reign the boys in as they kept on with their silliness. Overall though it was good. We’ve started a new read-aloud called “Follow my Leader”, about an 11-year-old boy who has an accident with a firecracker and loses his sight. I suggested to Nick that we have our lunch at Sally’s today, as we’ve missed the last few Fridays because of the path at Head o’Wain. He was keen, so off we went. It was a lovely day outside, with just a slight chill in the air, but otherwise quite mild. We didn’t stay in town long after that, as I needed to be back in town at 1.30 to meet Lucy at Legal and Lands so that we could use their scanner to scan the scrapbook. This all went well and the scanning was quite successful, other than losing .5 cm on one side of each page because the scanner could only go as big as A3, and my pages are 30.5 cm. We did all the big pages there, and then went back to the museum to scan the rest of the little bits and pieces. Lucy suggested that we can just print out the pages at the museum as she has a nice colour printer, but we ran out of time today so I will go back on Thursday afternoon. So we are definitely making progress! She will be leaving the island to go to the UK in the next three weeks, so she will take the original book with her and see if anything can be done in the UK – this is very good. I got home just after 4, and then waited a few minutes for my girls to arrive. They were all completely hyperactive and I could do very little with them, but I think I squeezed in a few gems anyway. After taking Keisha and Tysha home, I heated up yesterday’s left overs for supper, and then brought in the washing etc etc. Busy day. Nick went off to gym at 6 pm.

Yesterday’s lunch arrangement with Kyle and Genevieve and family was super (heh heh...the photo says "don't photograph me!). I didn’t have a lot to do in the morning, so had time to update the blog and stuff, and a little bit of scrapping. The lunch wasn’t overly wonderful although the garlic bread was nice, but no one really minded (I hope). The boys drifted off outside after lunch, and we left them to themselves. They sounded like they were having fun. We investigated later, and they were having a water fight! All of them pretty much got soaked, but the sun was shining so the parents didn’t mind. We screened a video of St Helena produced in 1990, about an hour long, which was enjoyed by the adults, and then the kids watched a DVD as they had been running around all afternoon and were getting tired – plus, Ben and Sam really wanted to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks! It was starting to get towards church time when I suggested that they just stay on, as they were going to go all the way home to Longwood and then back for the service. So we gave the boys cinnamon toast, and Genevieve and Ema had some left over pasta from lunch. We made beef tea for Kyle, which I figured out is actually just a tsp of Bovril in hot water. The numbers in church were very depleted as there was some other parade or something at St James’. It was still a good message though, about the nominating of deacons in Acts 6. We are coming up for an AGM next month, so it was quite timeous as the deacons will be (re)elected.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Buy when you can

Keisha came home with us after GNC, as Enid couldn’t give her a lift home, but instead of simply taking her up Ladder Hill straight away, she first came here and then we all went to town together. The Hive is still having their 50% off sale, so I bought a jacket each for the boys to go into the ‘too-big suitcase’. They are aged 9/10 and 11/12, in beige and grey respectively. They were each ₤2 on the sale! Had a few other shopping goodies to do before going home for our cheese, ham and mayo sandwiches, after which we settled in for the DVD of “Alvin and the Chipmunks”. Quite a cute movie. Keisha couldn’t quite stay to the end as she needed to be home by 2, so we just stopped watching for a while so Nick could take her home quickly. After the movie was done it was time for Nick to leave for Tammy, and then I got stuck in to housework and cooking – a bit of preparation for tomorrow’s lunch guests.

Yesterday, the last day of our muddled-up school week, was also muddled-up. I needed to get to town for some urgent grocery shopping before Nick left for Head o’Wain at lunch-time, so all we did in school was Maths and a bit of writing, before I went out. I got quite a lot of shopping done in the short time I had, and was pleased as always to get hold of more blocks of chicken fillet and punnets of mince. I missed the fish-market’s opening times again – I can never seem to get them right – but I saw Jennifer selling her wares in the market and Peter was with her, hovering, so I asked if he wouldn’t mind selecting two chunks of tuna and dropping them off at the house later. He was very happy to do this. I chuckled about it later – where on earth can you bump into a friend who was no more than a complete stranger a month prior, hand over some money and ask them to do some shopping and then deliver it to you?! The boys helped me unpack the groceries, only because they wanted to see what I had bought, and then after lunch I read to them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

White gold

I’ve been trying to keep our non-curriculum school week interesting, so after a bit of writing yesterday, I did a craft with the boys, making foam bookmarks. I had them stitch a border with real needles and embroidery thread, and I must say, they did it better than some of the girls I had in my craft class at Pillings! Maybe sewing is really more of a man’s thing after all, because the boys at Pillings didn’t struggle either. Once the sewing bit was done, we stuck on foam shapes. I told them about the bookmark I made for their grandpa when I was in primary school, which he still uses in his Readers’ Digest! In the afternoon it was so balmy outside that we ate our lunch and then didn’t want to go indoors straight away, so Nick started examining the potato plants and felt that it would be a good time to dig them out and see if anything had grown. We were very surprised that quite a number of potatoes had grown – all these out of four or five rotten potatoes that just needed to be buried because they stank too much to be thrown away. We harvested about twenty, although at least half were no bigger than brussel sprouts. I roasted a few of the tiny ones last night, as I had chicken on the go in the oven, and they were pretty good. Potatoes are nowhere to be found in the shops, so these are really valuable.

This morning I cancelled the first part of school so that I could quickly finish off a scrapbook page I started yesterday, to be able to show Elza when we met for coffee at 10. I took the boys’ maths books and other reading books so that they could do their school out, and although the Maths wasn’t too successful, Caleb enjoyed reading his book in a tree. Elza took this photo of Caleb. She needed to leave at about 11 to get to physio, so we just went home after that and finished off the Maths, and I did a read-aloud. Nick went to gym in the afternoon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting in some practice

Nick and I went for a walk this morning. We haven’t been together for ages, because of the recent bout of flu which is finally starting to wear out, and so we enjoyed the walk, and being outside in the early morning. We sat on Jacob’s Ladder for a short while, looking at the very calm sea and the green mountains. I started school shortly after nine with the boys, kind of making up as I went along what we would be doing. I assigned them a few sight / spelling words to write neatly, and Aaron wanted to do a show-and-tell of a caterpillar he found yesterday (which poo’d on his hand while he was holding it). Then we made some cupcakes from a box mix which I bought on sale, which was a reading lesson for Caleb and a cooking lesson for Aaron, as Caleb directed us. Aaron broke the egg into the mixture, but he doesn’t possess any finesse when it comes to the delicate touch required! I don’t think there were any shells in the mix though, at least not in my cupcake. Those were ready some time during tenzees, after which we did the maths, and then we decided to do a newspaper. The boys dictated the latest news stories to me from the last few days, which we formatted in a rough draft on a piece of A4 paper, which I then typed out later. In the afternoon I had a guitar-playing session with Pam, one of our ex-pat ladies, who has started playing with Nick and me in the Sunday evening worship. We are going to try combine our resources of songs we have and know, so she played some that were unfamiliar to me, and I did likewise. It was really great, and Nick joined us for a few songs here and there too.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Leak, tooth, visit and meeting

Well lookie lookie here…it’s finally out! After supper, which was chicken nuggets on rolls for the boys, Aaron commented that he could get his tongue underneath the back of his tooth. I felt it, and nearly pulled it out, but said he should try himself, which he did, and it came out with a little pluck! He was very excited to have it out – he gets excited about strange things. He and Caleb decided that it should be kept a secret from their dad, who was out at a deacons’ meeting when it happened – Nick will only find out tomorrow morning when he sees Aaron! Meanwhile, the Tooth Fairy has come and gone.

Our sewerage removal system has been leaking for a few days. It leaks from the handle, so we have an ice-cream tub underneath to catch the drips, which almost amounted to 2l overnight. It was getting a bit annoying though, and Nick and I have both been looking in the cistern to see if we could figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. Prestik wasn’t doing it. And so it happened that at 10pm last night, we found ourselves in the bathroom peering into the cistern to have another go at it. Nick had fiddled in the afternoon, which I felt had made it worse, so we unfiddled the fiddle, and after insulting one another’s intelligence for a few minutes as to the other’s plumbing know-how, we established that the toilet was overfilling, and that the floaty ball thing was coming up too high, so that when the cover was on, it was pushing the ball down causing the valve to remain open. Very complicated. Nick removed the arm holding the ball, and tried to straighten it over the bath, but instead broke the whole fixture. Meanwhile, the toilet was still filling, as it now had nothing to tell it when to stop. I was assigned the objectionable task of depressing the button which closes the valve – it was even suggested that I should stay there all night until the shops opened this morning so that Nick could get the replacement part, but we both realized that this should not be considered an option. Anyway, the end of this account is not very exciting so I won’t drag it out anymore – this morning, Nick found the right part and fixed it, and so ends the toilet story!

Now you may be wondering what exciting high-brow events the suddenly-socialised Clevelys had going on today. Well, shortly after 9.30, the Williamsons arrived! We arranged this in church last night – since we are having a non-curriculum school week this week, I didn’t mind rescheduling school for the afternoon. We’d much rather have friends over; somehow it’s more fun than school. The boys don’t seem to tire of tag (catchers, we used to call it, but the boys have caught on to the Saint name for the game of ‘chasin’s’). Then they were outside (it was a pretty good day, weatherwise) for the rest of the time. Genevieve and I sat in the diningroom chatting, never seeming to run out of conversation. Kyle had been up at the hospital, where he was shown every inch of it including the morgue. He was teaching an art class this afternoon, so needed to be home by lunchtime to gather himself up. He walked down to our place, and they all left at about 12.30. Caleb and Aaron both got into the car as well, as Ben and Sam tried to smuggle them home! After their departure, I took the boys to town for the ride, to get bread and rolls, and then it was lunch, and finally, school time. I only wanted them to do Maths, really, but also had Aaron read his sight-words, and then I read a story to them. We only took about 45 minutes on school. Tomorrow we will hold regular hours again, just making up things to do. It should be fun.

At 3 pm I had a meeting at the museum with Printech, the island’s printing company, but after spreading out all 20 pages on one of the big upstairs tables, and discussing the project, it seems that they can’t really help us at this point. They don’t have an A3 scanner, and their A3 photocopier is broken. Still, it was interesting. The next step now is for Lucy to try track down a large format scanner on the island. I was home again in plenty of time for my girls’ group, which I felt was quite good today. We played a toilet paper game, where I asked them each to break off a section of toilet paper, and for each square, they had to tell us each something. I had no plans to do this, but the Lord must have prompted me and it was quite spontaneous. Interestingly, a lot of them said “my ambition is to…”, which tied in exactly with what I wanted to talk about today, which is ‘the most important decision in your life’. They listened while I spoke very seriously about the need to accept Christ, and I explained the watchman in Ezekiel 33. It was a good time. We touched on a couple of other issues today as well, like divorce – they just don’t seem to know anything about what the bible teaches! I excused myself at 4.45, leaving them to carry on chatting, while I went home to make our quick supper of chicken burgers, as Nick needed to leave early for his deacons’ meeting. The burgers were ready by 5.15, and Nick had just finished washing the car by then. BUT – he still wanted to vacuum it, so I quickly helped him with it and we got it done in no time. He left, we had supper, Aaron’s tooth came out, they bathed, I washed up, and that’s that!

Nick went to gym this morning at the AVES centre. Harry has gotten him into it. The gym has been there for a few months already, and although small, is suitably furnished with treadmill, weights, rowing etc. This is about the third time he has been. The rest of his day was spent in preparation for his deacons’ meeting, and reading.

Sandy Bay BBQ

An unusual Sunday…because Nick wasn’t preaching at all today, he and Harry decided it would be a good idea to have a braai at Sandy Bay. Jenny and I weren’t so sure, considering the logistics…you can’t drive all the way down to the beach anymore, so anything has to be carried a good 700m or so from the cars to the braai area. They were insistent though, so plans were made. We met up with them at the Sandy Bay Chapel at 10.30, passing some of our parishioners on the way who had just come from church where Vincent preached. Then we drove as far as we could, reaching a section of the dirt road which was just thick mud covered in water. There was some debate as to whether we could take the cars over the flooded section of the road. Nick was all for trying, but the rest of us managed to dissuade him. So we had to unpack the cars and take up our burdens for the trek through the mountains. We had braai grills, charcoal, salads, meat, cooldrinks, snacks, toys, one camping chair, picnic blanket, towels, fishing rod, bait box, cutlery, plates, and more…lots to carry! Nick and Harry got the braai going as soon as we got there, once enough firewood had been gathered – the boys were helpful with this. Jenny and I explored the beach on our own, and Peter was coming and going, mostly with the boys. The weather, by the way, was not really outdoor, braai weather…it was overcast and windy and slightly on the chilly side because of the wind. We all dressed warmly though, even hats, and so we were okay. The boys had a great time playing and exploring on their own, and also managed a few games of ‘go fish’ with Uncle Peter. We were on a long stretch of stony/sandy ground, which led to a stream flowing into the sea. If you followed the water upstream, inland, you would go under a bridge, and once through the bridge (treading carefully so as not to fall into the stream), you would be in a huge area with a gravel road leading up a hillock, at the top of which was a lone canon. Peter and the boys scaled the stony hillock to the top, while Jennifer and I decided that we’d walked enough, so sat chatting on the side of the road. Caleb is like a mountain goat – very confident, but very capable too and quite responsible. He got a bit carried away though, and tripped and fell once, skinning his knee. He was okay though. Lunch was finally ready at about 1 o’clock, and our appetites were good. Sitting out in the open air, smelling the good smells and waiting for the food really makes the stomach ‘lus’ for it. The t-bones that Jenny provided were so tender and juicy, and I had done chicken kebabs. I also did a potato salad, and Jenny had made savoury rice. It was goooood food. After lunch Jenny and I washed the plates and cutlery and empty dishes in the little stream – I commented to her that I felt like I was on a ‘survivor’ show, although we had the luxury of long-drop toilets at our disposal. We were in the middle of a game of Boulles when Herr Doktor arrived on his motorcycle – he was really just taking his newly-acquired bike for a ride, and figured that Sandy Bay would be a good place to go. I feel sorry for him in that his wife and daughter are in Germany (they holidayed here briefly over Easter-time), and so he is alone. I asked if he’d had lunch, and he looked sheepish and said he was about to go home and get lunch, so we invited him to stay, since there was still plenty left over. He was very happy to join in our little party, and it was good that he didn’t have to go home to an empty house and miss a good old South African braai! By the time he left at 3 pm, we were feeling like we were ready to go too, so quickly packed up and reversed the journey; there was quite a long uphill section this time that hadn’t been there before! The boys fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Have some custard with your pudding

Well, this afternoon’s meeting with the printer had to get postponed, because Nick went out to Head o’Wain to continue with the path, and although I wouldn’t have minded walking to town and back, I couldn’t have taken the boys with or left them here, because they had their Friday afternoon meeting going at 3. I didn’t think it wise to have five or six boys playing in the schoolroom with no adult supervision nearby! So it’s been rescheduled for Monday afternoon at 3 pm. Instead, I spent some time weeding the front garden, so everything in there is supposed to be there now. There are bits of green dotted all over. An arum has come up on its own; the bulb is probably still from the plantings that my Dad did in 2006. Many of the marigolds which I planted are thriving, and in fact one has even flowered, but the longer I took to get them in, the more wilted they became, and the worse they look. I think only the corner section ones have survived. It’s okay though, I’ll try again but just get them into the ground quicker next time.

We left for Kyle and G’s house at about 5 pm, getting to a very cold Longwood before 5.30. They have been adopted by a stray cat and her three kittens, who hang around the house, but unfortunately have fleas so we couldn’t pet them. Such cute little things though. Nick was all for taking one home with us, but my voice of reason was loud and determined in stamping out his fluffy idea. We had a lovely evening with the Williamsons – great food and very easy conversation all evening. We exchanged some of our ₤₤₤ for their $$$, as our Maths course always uses American money, and so it’s helpful to actually have the right coins now. We had an interesting discussion about the meaning of words (what’s that called?); where we call anything that follows supper “pudding”, their pudding is custard, and dessert is our pudding. Confusing! The boys played well, but our boys got sillier as the hour got later, and so there were a few breakdowns at some points. We were home shortly before 10, and well ready for bed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Come for lunch

Today we got through school quickly, because I wanted to be ready in plenty of time for our anticipated lunch guests – Kyle and Genevieve and family (what, again with these people, you ask? Yes, we’re making the most of it while they’re here). I made a loaf of bread, and put together an egg, tuna, onion and mayo mix which was delicious on the fresh bread. They arrived at about 12.30, and stayed until about 4.30 which was the arranged time for them to depart as I had to get Nick sorted out for bible study. Kyle was in and out, and so was Nick, so sometimes it was just Genevieve, Ema and me, or one or both of the men. Again, it was a lovely afternoon, although the boys seemed to have a few quarrels.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Get a quote to make a book or make a book to get a quote?

Aaron has a decidedly loose tooth which will come out in the next few days. I wailed at the thought – my lovely-toothed smiley boy is going to look like a ragged-tooth shark for the next few years! And we had a mince stew for supper, which was not called a mince stew otherwise the boys wouldn’t have liked it. I had to announce that we were having Granny’s Stew for supper, which was then very exciting for them. It doesn’t matter to them whether it tastes or looks like Granny’s stew – I think the important thing is that it has mince in it. Anyway, it turned out very well, especially because I cooked it quite long until the potatoes were just going mushy. Nick said he didn’t want to eat Granny Stew.

School today was all fine. Caleb is reading Mr Twiddle to me, and he enjoys the stories by Enid Blyton of this muddled-up man who hangs his umbrella in the workshed and puts his hat in the dustbin and so on. He reads with a fair modicum of fluency. I had to nip out to town for biscuits at tenzees, and also got a few other groceries, so our day ran a little late, but we were finished before 1. I needed to go to the museum to show Lucy the final page which I finished off last night – the inside front cover with the acknowledgements and stuff, so I took the boys and we went at about 2. Lucy and I decided, spur of the moment, to pay a visit to the island printers to see if they could quote us to print one copy of the book, as a prototype. The feedback from the bank is that they want a quote for printing the books before they decide to finance it or not. We’d like to get one done so that we can send it away to potential publishers. I think it will be a long process ahead of us still. Anyway, the printer was just leaving as we got there, so he had a quick look at one of the pages, and we’ve scheduled an official meeting for Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Froggy went a-courtin' and he was caught, uh hum...

Nick caught a frog last night. It was a little thing, sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. It’s amazing to watch how their legs tuck away under their bodies so neatly until they jump, trying to elude the glass bottle which slowly closes down on them. Nick didn’t want to touch it for fear of warts – is that an old wives’ tale? And I never know if it’s the wives that are old, or the tales. Once froggie was safely bottled, we left it for the night. This morning I didn’t know if it was dead or alive, and I didn’t really want to peer too closely over the top of the open jar in case it proved its vitality with a mighty leap into my face. But it wasn’t long before it was trying to stretch up on its spindly back legs to see if it could reach the top of the bottle, which it couldn’t. After the boys had admired it over breakfast, they let it go outside. The poor thing must have been a bit cold because its hops were slightly retarded, but after some time it vanished and is most likely in our back garden somewhere.

The rest of the morning followed along routinely. School was not complained over, and the Maths was duly caught up on after Aaron’s spurt on Friday night, with only a little whining from Caleb. I decided to thin out the marigolds in the back garden which are really growing well, and pulled out 34 of them (I wasn’t planning it, but ended up counting them (OCD?) and there were as many flowers as I am years old). I wanted to get them replanted in the front garden, so after the washing was hung, I took them around with my kitchen gloves and a spoon. It was easy going – the ground was damp and soft and the sun was shining. I let the boys get on with their Maths while I was outside. Nick took the opportunity to plant his orange tree in the front garden while I was out there. It was becoming pot-bound, and we would really like to see it succeed.

Nick had his lunch early and then left for Head o’Wain, where he and Peter are putting in a stone path, so that the governor’s wife will not have to wear her wellies to church anymore. No, this isn’t really the reason, but the swamp which has to be navigated before getting into the church is most uncongenial to the smartly-attired church-goers! We continued with school until 12.20, then had our lunch. It was tuna and mayo on defrosted seed-bread, and Aaron wasn’t at all keen on the tuna. I suggested that we pretend we are the children in the Alaskan school, who always have fish for lunch, and then it was a game and lots of fun. One of the little girls in this Alaskan school has a deaf sister, who doesn’t attend school because she’s deaf and dumb and so what’s she supposed to learn? The teacher things otherwise though, and before long they’re all learning sign language. This prompted the boys to find one of last year’s school books and look up the alphabet in sign language, which intrigued them. We signed out “I love you” to one another, although there is a shorthand sign for it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How about some grocery shopping?

Today we had Kyle and Genevieve and the family over to lunch. During the morning I Skype’d my brother to wish him a happy birthday, and while discussing my crisis of having only castor sugar and no icing sugar, realized that I could ask his wife for advice, who is an expert cake-maker. She suggested that I make a lemon loaf which has the sugary icing, which I thought was an excellent idea. As soon as I had finished on the computer, I got rice going, made the loaf, then did the chicken-a-la-king. I was also running low on flour though, so by the time I had made the cake, there was not quite enough flour left for the chicken sauce. I added a bit of bread flour, but since it’s quite a heavy flour, I thought it best not to add too much. But I got the ingredients somehow muddled (and didn’t have enough green pepper in the freezer either), so it wasn’t quite thick enough. Adding a tin of creamed mushrooms actually helped a bit though, so it wasn’t quite as runny as it could have been. I had everything ready by about 12.30, which is more or less when I was expecting them, but they arrived closer to 1. I quickly did the vegetables (mixed and brussel sprouts), and then it was all ready. I had the four boys at the smaller tables, and the remaining five of us at the main table, set with the Hessian placemats I made a while ago, and paper towels for serviettes – another thing which I had run out of! We had some excellent fellowship over lunch. The boys couldn’t wait to be finished eating so they could run all over the house and play! We had tea/coffee and the cake after lunch, and it was just a very informal afternoon. I wanted to get a photo, but left it a bit late and the lighting wasn’t good – this is therefore more representative than correct! (I have to say that in case they read the blog and wonder why I posted such a terrible photo of them…). They left at about 5.30, giving us time to get the boys bathed and fed, and then they (the boys) continued watching a DVD (now for the third time), while Nick and I went to church at 6.30 for our music practice with Pam. The boys came to church at 6.45 as I had instructed them (I set the timer for them). Nick’s message was excellent, on persecution, and there were a goodly number of people. He is still not doing too well at the moment, and with three services to sing and preach at today, he is coughing a lot more. He was up a few times in the night. Aaron is still sniffing and coughing a bit, Caleb is about the same, and I am improving – an occasional cough and a bit of nose blowing still.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Second Saint Wedding

The wedding was really great. Nick was not feeling well – he developed a headache in the early afternoon, but was worried that if he took a tablet, he’d feel woozy and lack concentration, so he suffered with it. The little Sandy Bay chapel had been beautifully decorated, with flowers around the front gate and the archway leading into the chapel, and all on the windowsills. It was fully packed by the time the bride arrived, fashionably late. She looked lovely. Nick conducted the ceremony seamlessly, with no mistakes. His message to the couple was “Love is Patient”. Directly after the vows and signing, he had baby Kieran brought to the front for the ‘baby blessing’, which was very nicely done too – Nick simply spoke about Jesus blessing the little ones, and then prayed that Kieran would come to know the Lord, and be raised in the ways of the Lord. We gave thanks to God for the weather – the rain held off at the chapel for the whole of the wedding, and even shone briefly while they were outside greeting the guests. It could have been extremely miserable, but God answered our prayer in that regard. Then it was off to the reception at Ann’s Place – stopping at home long enough for Nick to have a headache pill, and for me to put something warmer on. The boys were prepared for the chilly wind with woolly hats and warm jackets – not very elegant wedding attire! The reception was very nice too – the venue had been decorated with balloons, and the tables were very beautifully done up. There was only one speech and a toast, and then a buffet meal with a wide variety of the usual Saint dishes. After pudding at 7 pm, we were ready to go home, although the reception was still going strong and there was to be an extended reception, with more invited guests, starting at 8. They seem to invite the close friends and family to the actual meal part, and then if you’re less important, you get invited for the second part! We didn’t really qualify in either of the first camps, but Nick’s profession gained us entrance.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sudden zeal

Nick had his last prison visit this afternoon, as Jerry is being released tomorrow, and there are no other prisoners who are interested in attending chapel. They will let Nick know when his services are required again. The island boys arrived for their Friday playtime, but sadly Caleb had to send them away for health reasons. In the late afternoon I was busy making my regular pizza, and the boys were drawing in the diningroom (actually I think Caleb was just resting on the couch in there). Aaron asked me how to spell ‘now’ and then ‘because’, and then came into the kitchen with his handwritten note demanding more school. I thought he was joking, or simply trying to impress me, so I said in my most enthusiastic manner, ‘okay, why not do some Maths?’ – picking on his worst aspect of school. “Oooh yes”, he replied with unfeigned eagerness, and proceeded to do an entire worksheet which would have been Monday’s work. I just gave him the instructions for each section, and he got on and did it – with much more vigour and speed than he usually does in school. This was a very weird turn of events. Once that was done, and I had marked it (only two or three mistakes), he wrote another note advising me that he wanted to do writing next, but he backed out of that one before it got too serious. So I’m pondering whether he really does like school, and especially Maths, as of this afternoon, or if he’s doing penance for a deed of naughtiness this afternoon – he took himself to the corner shop by himself without my knowledge or prior consent, against my express orders that he is first to check with me. If it hadn’t have been for Caleb coming to tell me about this misdeed (he felt he had to get it off his chest), I surely would have known by Aaron’s suddenly discoloured teeth. Jelly beans tend to leave an impression. I’m hoping the wooden spoon left an impression on Aaron’s heart.

And now for an update on the status of our health: Nick is still blowing his nose, but doesn’t seem to have been too bad today. I am still blowing my nose and have started coughing a bit, and my voice sounds sick. Caleb is getting worse, as the cold has settled like a squatter under a railway bridge on his chest. Aaron doesn’t seem to be sick at all, other than that his nose runs a bit.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Today we are a household of sickies. Caleb’s cold, which started on Monday, got far worse and is now in his chest; Aaron is sniffly but not particularly down otherwise; my cold which started on Tuesday developed into a nasty flu, and Nick started displaying the symptoms last night of a cold, which progressed slightly today. He struggled to think clearly when it came to his sermon prep, but managed to get it done. He cancelled his bible studies for tonight, and I’m glad for his sake – but I know the people in Sandy Bay and Head o’Wain miss out!

Yesterday, with the boys and I being under the weather, we cancelled school completely. Caleb spent most of the day in the lounge, either watching DVDs, looking at books, or sleeping on the couch. Aaron was at a bit of a loss to know what to do with his playmate out of action, but he largely amused himself with books too. I spent a chunk of the morning in bed too, but I couldn’t breath one bit through my nose so it was impossible to sleep. I made a pot of soup in the afternoon which was delicious, or at least it looked delicious and had delicious things in it. My taste was a bit thrown off and all I could really make out was a peppery aftertaste. Nick said it was very good. I made a loaf of bread to go with it too. Nick had a wedding rehearsal last night for Ian and Gavie’s wedding on Saturday. Directly after the wedding ceremony, Nick will be doing a baby-blessing thing, as the bridal couple have a 1-year-old son. It’s not a dedication, because after much thought, prayer and discussion, he has decided not to do dedications as we know them. It’s too long a discussion to get into, but I wholeheartedly agree with him. A baby blessing, on the other hand, satisfies the parents and is biblical, in that Jesus laid his hands on the little ones and blessed them.

The ship is in dry-docks at Cape Town harbour, where they are about 2/3 of the way through with the engine overhaul or something. They are inspecting the entire ship from stern to aft, and blasting and painting and things like that. Apparently it will only be leaving Cape Town on the 25th of July – two weeks behind schedule now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Field trip...

…to a bona-fide archaeological dig site! There is a small team of archaeologists on the island at the moment who are unearthing the remains of the slaves who were buried here on the island during the mid-1800s. These slaves came directly off the slave ships, and some of them were buried immediately upon assisted disembarkation. You may know that St Helena was a major player in the abolishment of the slave trade. This is apparently the only slave burial site of its sort in the world – they are all first generation slaves. Unfortunately, when work begins on the airport, an access road will need to be built right through Ruperts’ Valley where the graves are, so instead of allowing the earth-moving machines to plough their way through and crush the already-fragile bones, they are being carefully removed, labelled and boxed, and once an osteologist has examined the bones to identify the gender, age and origin of each person, they will be reburied further down the valley. The team has asked for volunteers to help with the dig, and while we haven’t signed up (yet), we were very interested to see what was going on. Since it’s open to the public, and Pam, one of our ex-pat church ladies, was going to be volunteering today, we thought we would pop along and see. The weather was beautifully sunny all morning, although it started raining shortly after lunch when we were thinking about going. The rain was scattered though, so we took our chances and drove off to Ruperts – I dragged Nick in as well! When we arrived, the five people there had just been sitting in one of the vehicles waiting for a break in the weather, which happened more or less as we arrived. It was sobering to see a skeleton in one of the open graves. There were two sets of bones, one larger than the other – possibly a parent and child. Apparently they have found multiple burials where the finger bones were interlocked. I wasn’t permitted to take photos of the bones, but here is a picture of the general site, and a pic of the boys looking into an active grave, which they were in the process of covering over as the rain was starting again. What was so interesting for us was that earlier in the year in school we read through a book called “Archaeologists dig for Clues”, and so we knew a bit of what to expect, and saw one of the teeny little trowels that they use! No shovels here…

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Let's do dinner!

School this morning was fine, other than me being in no mood for the boys’ silliness, but we ended early again (11.30), and then went out to Sally’s shortly thereafter for our usual Friday lunch. Nick and I both had the soup as well as a sandwich, simply because it’s so delicious (and of course healthy). We enticed Harry, Jennifer and Peter to join us at Castle Gardens with their home-packed lunch, and despite the cold wind blowing we had a good time of fellowship. Jenny was wanting to have us over again for a meal, so we arranged to have it this very night! No time like the present. So, after some scrapping in the afternoon, and some visitors for Nick, we headed over to their place at 5.30. We took a bottle of swanky-looking non-alcoholic sparkling grape-juice dressed up in a brown paper bag, as Harry had said we could come and have beer and wine and a lekker party. “We don’t drink”, I said. “Neither do we!” he replied. We played a game of Balderdash, which Nick aced by far, but had much fun – and we were all sober.

Friday, July 04, 2008

What's the opposite of arachnophobia?

School this morning was quick and easy. Because I wanted to get a loaf of bread going, but only started at 9 with it, I simply gave the boys the scheduled work to do which they can carry on with by themselves. They whizzed through it in record time – maybe I should employ this tactic of completely independent work more often – which made the whole early section very quick. In fact, we got through everything so fast that we were able to do our entire maths work before tenzees! That meant that after our break we only had to do the boys’ readings, then science and the other read-alouds, of which there weren’t many today. We were finished school by 11.30, AND that included spending a long time looking at a spider on its web in the front garden. Caleb discovered this spider yesterday. He was excited about it and especially wanted me to see it, because the web had been so precisely made, “just like in school”, he said, although I can’t remember where we learned about webs – must have been in Charlotte’s Web. That led him to hunt down a grey bug from the back yard, which he could throw at the web to see what would happen. What happened was that the spider, a peculiar bright yellow spotty thing, slowly approached the trapped bug and ate it. It certainly was interesting and quite exciting to watch. Later in the day, Caleb found a dead spider and put it on the web, but I happened to see the live one simply remove it from the web. Very clever little arachnid. Lunch was a hurried affair, which I didn’t want to prolong because the bread I had made in the morning was scheduled for a delivery, to Wilson and Jean. This was the same recipe I used on Saturday, the cherry and raisin bread, which Wilson enjoyed so much that he wanted his own loaf. The rest of the afternoon was very relaxed. I didn’t have anything particular to accomplish, so I went to town for petrol and a few groceries – oh, I happened upon the blocks of frozen chicken breast pieces again, so bought three punnets. I am now well stocked with chicken and mince for the month – great to have the variety. I also found carrots in the Star, which lately have been very hard to come by, but these carrots were of such huge proportion that I was sure they would be bitter. And sticking my finger into a concealed mushy bit where it was rotting served to set my mind against them. So when I saw more carrots at Thorpes, little ones, I happily bought a big bag.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New friends

This afternoon, as arranged though I wasn’t sure if it was a confirmed arrangement, Genevieve came to visit so the boys could play. Kyle came too, as he had to drive her down (driving stick-shift on the ‘wrong’ side of the road on these roads is just a little too much to master so quickly for G). Kyle and Emma, their 15-year-old daughter, had intended to walk down the road with their cameras, but we all got chatting as soon as they were here, and so they never got away. Nick could join us for a good chunk of the afternoon too, leaving for about two hours to teach guitar during mid-afternoon. We yackety-yacked the whole afternoon on so many topics I couldn’t even name them all, including photography, churches, homeschooling, insects and music. The boys disappeared and we didn’t see them the rest of the afternoon, other than the times that they were running through the lounge (though this was soon prohibited) in a game of tag. Benjamin is 10 and Samuel is 6. I questioned Caleb briefly as to the success of the afternoon, and apparently they formed a democracy in their games instead of having a tyranny (he could explain this after we learned about those forms of government in school this morning, dealing with Greece). School and education definitely have their uses.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Biblical history

I went walking on my own this morning, as Nick was going to go a bit later and swim. He’s been swimming quite often these past few weeks, getting his fitness levels up again. We crossed paths as I was on my way home, which was nice! School went off smoothly enough, despite only finishing at about 1 pm, after lunch. We were introduced to King Xerxes, who invaded Greece simply to avenge a previous defeat of his father’s army…the same Xerxes who was married to Esther! Interesting when history meets Bible. After school the boys watched another two or three episodes of BBC’s Narnia. Nick needed to quickly go collect his guitar and music equipment from Tammy, and I went with him, just for fun. We had a cup of tea together – Tammy always has much to say and is quite interesting. Caleb stood on a tiny fragment of glass outside during the afternoon, so there was a bit of drama trying to get his foot washed to inspect the damage, ascertain that there was something in it, and remove it with tweezers – this had to be done under threat of paternal discipline! It was very easy to remove – came straight out on the first attempt – but shame, he was very scared that he’d be hurt.

The ship is running about six days behind schedule – they anticipate that it will only be back on schedule after its UK run in October! It was supposed to be getting back here on 16 July after its two week dry-dock, but it will be late. That means that supplies will probably run low. Already there is a very meagre selection of biscuits at Thorpes, and shelves generally look a bit depleted in all shops.