Sunday, August 31, 2008


Yesterday was an action day. We left here at 9 to get to town for Good News Club. I was the teacher and we only had a handful of kids. I got a few more things from the manse before it started – more craft stuff, a few more items of clothing for the boys and me, some kitchen things…we’re going to have quite a lot to take back with us when we eventually leave Piccolo! After GNC we went into town for a couple of things. I gave Nick half of my shopping list and I did the other half, although partially unsuccessfully, as I was looking for mats for the bathroom and loo but didn’t find anything. We didn’t dally long in town, as we were due to be helping Jeff and Pam move home. I had offered to provide lunch which turned out to be a bit awkward as I couldn’t make sandwiches so far in advance, but while I was lying awake at 4 am I realized that Friday night’s left-over macaroni would be perfect – we barely touched the second dish! So it worked out well that I had made so much on Friday night. We got to Jeff and Pam to help them move shortly before 12 to a chaos of open boxes and packing tape, so after heating up the macaroni and having lunch, we pitched in and did what we could. Nick loaded up our car and took it while I taped boxes and the boys played on the laptop, although they managed to help a bit too. The moving truck, a flatbed truck they had organized, arriving at 2 pm and took about 60% of their boxes. Nick did two more loads, and then we finally left them at 3 pm. We had an arrangement to be at an 80th birthday party at 3.30, but Nick happened to see the people whose house it was at and when he asked for directions they confirmed that it was actually happening today. Doh! This put us in a bit of a predicament as we had already arranged for Andrew and Jean to have tea with us this afternoon, so Nick phoned and made an alternate arrangement to have tea at Plantation House at 4.30. However, they phoned back later yesterday to cancel altogether as they’d had quite a busy week and so were grateful for an afternoon alone. Anyway, we went home via town again where I found the carpets I wanted, which tie in so well with the colour scheme in the bathroom, and home at last. It has been rainy, cold and foggy in Longwood these last two days.

This morning Nick left as usual for church, although at about 7.45. It will be a relief for him when Ladder Hill Road opens this week, cutting down on his travelling time for church because of fetching Donald and Edith. While Nick was out I made a start with sorting the new beads, which is a mammoth task – not only are there lots to be sorted, but I need to also integrate my own stash! I made a chicken casserole for lunch, but didn’t give it enough time to cook, only putting it into the oven at 12.10 – what was I thinking? Nick was home at 12.30, starving, and lunch was nowhere near ready. He had some chips and settled on the couch for a nap while the boys and I carried on with the beads. We all started whispering when we heard some gentle snoring coming from Nick’s head region! Lunch was finally ready shortly before 2 pm – so late! I apologized to all for the lateness thereof. It was quite nice though – potatoes, carrots and chicken which I baked in an Ina Paarman creamy sundried tomato sauce. After lunch there was just time to pack away all the beads, sorted or not, and wash some of the dishes, before heading out to the birthday tea. We didn’t really know many people there, other than Audrey herself who is very deaf, and Enid and Harold. We were the only ex-pats. It was nice though, and the hostess attends the SDA church – she definitely sounded saved! Nick chatted with the men in the kitchen, and I just stuck to his side. At 5 we were ready to leave, although the first to leave, and on the way home we stopped in at a clothing shop (open on a Sunday, unusually) which is closing up and selling off their stock at 30% discount. Nick wanted a leather jacket, and found a super-duper thick and heavy biker’s jacket which had already been reduced to ₤25, still less 30%. You would normally pay about R1000 for something like that!! I also found a leather jacket in cream, with a pearly finish, very plain, and a velvety pink jacket. Aaron chose a yellow short-sleeved smart shirt and Caleb didn’t want anything other than a jacket which we wouldn’t buy him. We nearly ran late for church, as we only left the shop after 6, then still had to get home to Longwood and back to town. We got to Pillings at 6.36 and fortunately no one had arrived yet. Nick played the guitar on his own tonight. We had quite a good turnout, which was encouraging to see. The message was the second half of the Ethiopian Eunuch section in Acts, which was excellent and quite funny at points. Caleb wants to become a Jew, but we would prefer that he gets baptized! The Sandy Bay service this morning was recorded and broadcast tonight at 7, and I told Nick that I thought it had been a good one for broadcast. After church we were invited to have a cup of tea and chocolate cake with Pam and Maddy at their new house in town – it’s actually the Salvation Army house, attached to the hall. It’s a lovely place, very comfortable. They’ve already unpacked the majority of their boxes and it’s looking quite homey.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Around the house

It’s been a glorious day today, with mostly-clear skies almost the whole day – I took the rare opportunity of blue skies to take some pics around the complex:

At the entrance to the complex - Flagstaff is the peak just to the left.

Diana's Peak and her neighbours are just to the left of the windswept tree. On a clear day we have beautiful views all around.

I love the hibuscus hedges all over the complex, forming walls between the road and properties - it's really pretty here!

I did a load of washing in faith as usual, and so of course I was very pleased that the sun was out and I could take in the washing at about 2 pm and pack it all away. Nick had an early start to get to Knollcombes to help Charles and Maisie pack up their valuables, as they will be relocating for a short while during the time that their house is reroofed – it leaks quite badly, apparently. After C&M, Nick went to town to start clearing things from the church and schoolroom. I’m not sure exactly what he did, but Teddy was there as well. The boys started their day by watching some of last year’s science experiments, which I put on while Caleb was having his morning neb. Nick was home at about 1ish, by which time I had started cleaning the house. I spent the morning doing a bit of scrapping and e-mailing and this and that. I also cut the boys’ hair which I have been wanting to do for a few days. Aaron had 2-minute noodles for lunch but managed to drop them all on the carpet, so he picked them up again and we let the cats have them. All three kittens have appeared now and are regularly at our doorstep. I actually even bought cat food!

We had Harry and Jenny to dinner, along with their houseguests – Jenny’s aunt and her husband are visiting them for a few months. I made a macaroni cheese (with fresh tomatoes from our garden), but I got a bit confused with the quantity. I knew I needed to make a big one, so I used the entire 500g packet of macaroni, with 1.5l of cheese sauce. The sauce and macaroni were perfect for each other, but it made two huge casserole dishes! And I had two garlic loaves and broccoli, so it was a good meal and very sufficient – we barely touched the second dish. It was a great evening. Harry and Jenny’s friend Peter left the island two weeks ago, and sent back a suitcase full of beads for me. His late wife was a keen beader, and Peter has been looking for a home for the beads since she passed away about a year ago. Wow, what a huge gift!! She had already made up a lot of necklaces and earrings, so I think I am going to have to apply for a work permit now and sell them.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Here and there

We spent the morning at home today, doing the last of last term’s school work, which only took about an hour. Then the boys wanted to watch Mathtacular, so they spent most of the remainder of the morning learning about area, perimeter, time telling and days of the week, while I finished the “Rockfall” page. I found this page difficult to do, in that I kept on feeling sick looking at it all! It’s all good and well to cut gashes in a page, but when you know there’s actually a wall at home looking like that, it’s not all that much fun. So I struggled, but it’s done:

In the afternoon we took a drive to town – Nick wanted to do the meter-reading at the manse, which involved moving some furniture in the diningroom to get to the cupboard in the corner. While he was there I asked him to retrieve some school materials from the cupboard. He dropped me and the boys off in town, where I had more grocery shopping to do – part two of yesterday’s beginning. I got all the frozen things, and also wanted to find something to replace the ugly and unmatching curtains in the bathroom and loo, so hunted around at the emporium. I surprised myself by finding and liking a plastic strip curtain in a combination of gaudy colours.

I had Aaron in the bath with wet hair when the phone rang, so I quickly ran to answer before shampooing him. When I got back he had styled his hair all ‘fancy’ as he likes to call it…with his toothbrush!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Caleb’s cold developed into the usual chest infection. He was running around outside yesterday afternoon, because Maddy was here, and it was Kay’s birthday, so we couldn’t really keep him indoors unless we tied him up. It was just very unfortunately timed. Last night his chest was badly closed up and he was having difficulty breathing. His asthma pump was having no effect, so at about 2 am we steamed him in the bathroom, running a hot bath and filling the handbasin with three kettles of boiled water. It helped somewhat, but we had to do it at 5 am again. In between that there was a lot of coughing, crying and nose blowing, so none of us got very much sleep. I took Caleb to the hospital first thing this morning, and they nebulised him which helped considerably, but I could only get a doctor’s appointment at 12. I had to do the grocery shopping anyway, and needed to get into the manse for our nebuliser and some other things. I got to Elza just after 11 for a short visit. By 11.30 Caleb was wheezing badly again and desperate to get to the hospital to be done again, so we left Elza (with Caleb practically pushing me out of the house, poor thing) and got to the hospital just before 12. The doctor, Herr Gunther, had a patient with him but he was ready for us quite quickly – we waited for literally about a minute! He wasn’t particularly helpful, but I think that other than treating the symptoms, there’s not too much more to be done. He had Caleb nebulized again and prescribed the brown asthma pump, which is the preventative pump, and then sent him for another round of nebulizing. I remembered that I wanted an anti-histamine as well, so we went back in quickly after Caleb was finished and I asked for Phenergan, as well as some sort of cold medicine. He was happy to prescribe all that I asked for. Once I had picked up the meds from the dispensary we went home, where I found a sick little Aaron looking very miserable – he has also picked up a cold, but it’s just a runny nose, watery eyes and a flushed face.

Yesterday, Nick and I went for an early morning walk in Longwood, along the edge of the golf course to a bus-stop, and then turned around and came back. The return walk was all uphill, a very gentle uphill, but taxing nonetheless. It was bitterly cold and my ears were hurting – I could definitely have done with the beanie yesterday! We had to be in town at 10 am as Nick had a meeting regarding the removal of rocks from various properties, and I wanted to do a bit of shopping. Pam, Jeff and Maddy came for a picnic-style lunch, comprising my home-made bread, French loaf, boiled egg and mayo, tuna and mayo, cut up sausages, quiches and tomatoes – quite an excellent spread.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No kidding

You know I’ve said that there are so many kids in the complex, and Caleb and Aaron seem to always have company…well, yesterday while Nick was out at church, Josh and Kayleigh came over and they were watching a DVD together (the weather wasn’t good and Caleb has developed a cold, so he is house-bound). Anyway, while they were watching, three more kids wandered by the front of the house, and onto the patio. I was very surprised to see these particular kids, and I crept outside to take a photo. When they saw me coming they got very skittish, and in a panic they jumped over the patio wall, onto the grass and ran away. Shame, they were quite sweet, and I’ve never seen goats so close before! Ha ha.

When Nick got home from church (after a total of two hours driving time), he said that Harry and Jenny were coming for afternoon tea. Yippee! Lunch was meatballs, chips and veggies – quite a nice meal. H&J arrived at about 2.45, and we had a good afternoon together – other than me having a noticeably ‘off’ afternoon – I was extremely irritable, especially with the boys. Possibly due to non-sleeping on Saturday night (after waking at 2 am with Caleb’s coughing, I couldn’t get back to sleep on the uncomfortable bed which sags in the middle, causing Nick to roll into the middle and me to be left with 30cm on the edge…I opted for the lounge floor!). But otherwise, it was very good. They left at about 4.30, giving us enough time to get ready for leave for church at 5.30. Nick wanted to be at Pillings early, because we still needed to see exactly where we would be meeting and set out chairs. By 6.30 we were having our band practice. There were only 16 people at church, including Nick, me and the boys – a disappointing turnout, but at least there were some people! Nick prayed especially for our church in his intercessory prayer, to encourage the people.

Today we woke up to fog and chilly weather, although it cleared a little during the morning. The boys watched a DVD again, but otherwise they were just inside the whole day. I have started scrapping a rockfall page which is going slowly. Jennifer phoned during the day to invite us around for hotdogs – today was a bank holiday, so Harry was off work. We were there at 4, and ate soon after. With Jenny, no meal is ever plain…hotdogs aren’t just sausages on a roll with tomato sauce – no, no, she made vetkoek and a tomato and onion mixture, in which she submerged the sausages. It was so yummy! We always have a good time of fellowship with them. I wanted to get home in time for the boys to have a quick bath, so we left at about 6.30, and now the boys are bathed and waiting for a bedtime story.

We have adopted a cat, sort of – one of the strays which roam around here. She has three kittens, with whom we became acquainted when we used to visit the Williamsons next door. Anyway, she sits on our doorstep and meows, so we give her a saucer of milk, or bits of ham, or whatever we can scrounge. One of the kittens was with her today – I don’t know what’s happened with the other two. Sometimes she sits at the lounge window, just staring out. Caleb made a sculpture of her today with Lego, which looked very sphinx-like – actually it was very good!

Peanut butter and bread (below)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

5 Piccolo Hill Estate, Longwood

At last, some pictures of the house…it’s looking pretty good! Fetched another load from the Manse this morning, and I think I have enough ‘basics’ now to last for a few months! It seems that we have easy access to the Manse though – I went on alone this morning, phoned the police station, who said they would just make a note that I was there. Caleb and Aaron have been playing with Kay and Josh again, and all four are now watching Charlotte’s Web at our house. Unfortunately, and we found this out yesterday, they are leaving in October! The poor boys…friends come and go.

The lounge - the boys' school desk and chairs are in the corner.

View from the bedroom area into the lounge.

The lovely little kitchen - with a few 'homey' touches!

Not so pretty from the outside, and identical to all the other units.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good ol' regulars: Sally's and pizza

Nick had an arrangement to be at the house at 9 this morning, meeting with the fire department and Teddy to move all the pews and the organ and piano out of the church and into the manse so that they don’t get rained on and more damaged. While they were there I could gather a few more belongings from the house, loading the car up again. The boys weren’t really allowed in the house, so they played outside in the front for most of the time, but snuck into the lounge where there was plenty of furniture to hide under or behind! I was due to meet Pam at Prince Andrew at 10 so we could do some internet shopping for the holiday club. I ran late, getting there at 10.30 (had to time it with the upward traffic on Shy Road anyway), but made up for my lateness with a chocolate cake we had been given! It was one of Jennifer’s, bought by the HIV/AIDS consultant who is a lovely Indian lady, for the boys – it was very kind of her! I don’t know how she thought the cake would actually get to us since we don’t live in town anymore, but she had passed it on to two nurses who happened to be driving past the manse at the very time I was outside loading the car. Isn’t that amazing? So, once at the school, we sliced up the cake with a ruler and enjoyed it thoroughly. Pam had Maddison with her, so the three of the kids played on the computers doing maths games on the internet. They thought it was fun. Pam assigned me to another computer and tasked me with downloading digital scrapping goodies and gathering links to sites for her. Wow, what a non-odious job for me! Unfortunately the internet connection was very slow – the entire school has a residential connection, split across about 20 computers. I couldn’t grab very much, but that’s okay. At about 12 I realized that I needed bread – if you go too late there is nothing left. Pam, Jeff and Maddy left then too, and I followed them into town using the alternate route, as Shy Road was still up bound. Once I had bread and a few other shopping items, I tried to find Nick, as I thought by now he would be finished at the manse. Teddy was going to give him a lift either all the way home or to his house which is halfway. I phoned Teddy’s place, Steve and Maureen’s place, our house, and as a last resort, the manse, where I found him. We decided to have lunch at Sally’s as per our usual Friday arrangement, then found a DVD to watch for tonight. I had to squash in at the back with Aaron into half the back seat, as the rest was taken up with the TV, lego blocks scattered all over, the vacuum cleaner, scrapbook stuff and packets of groceries (the boot was taken up with the breadmaker, more scrapbook stuff, clothes and various oddments. We were finally home at about 2 pm, and then there was more unpacking, organizing and sorting to do…but all nice stuff. It’s good to have more than just the bare basics now…soon we will be able to start really living here! I needed to make another trip back to Steve and Maureen to collect some things we had left there, and do a bit of tidying up (cleaning toilets and stuff). I’ve left the vacuum cleaner there so I can do a proper clean up in the next few days. During the afternoon while we were here, the boys disappeared. I think that’s going to be the way of it when we are here and the school holidays are on, or over weekends – they already knew Kayleigh and Josh, two South African kids (actually from Pretoria), and have made friends with two or three others living here. It’s super for them – there is a constant supply of games going on, always outdoors, like soccer or running or hide-and-seek. They are very happy! Once I was home from Steve and Maureen it was time to make pizza – so nice to be comfortable in the kitchen with my own bowls and trays and knives and things. I’m a little disoriented still but I’m slowly getting used to where things are.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One week later

It’s been a tiring day – as moving days tend to be. I was at the Manse this morning at 9 am, leaving Nick to do his sermon prep and the boys to play. I was supposed to be met by a police man, but no one was there, and by 9.20 it seemed that no one was coming. I went down the road to the corner shop, and phoned Nick who in turn phoned the police station, and they sent an officer over. I don’t know what went wrong with our actual plan. Anyway. Once in the house, I started in the kitchen, packing up pots, pans, groceries, crockery, cutlery, utensils, the kettle…basically everything you would need to make a kitchen fully functionable. I didn’t have any packing boxes so just had to use plastic packets and shopping bags…not the most efficient way of moving house, but it worked out fine. I moved all the bagged kitchen stuff into the passage by the front door, and thought that I would never get it all into the car – and that was only the kitchen! I asked the police officer to put the microwave into the boot for me, after which he had had enough of waiting around outside the front door watching cars go by, so he told me he was going up to the hospital. I was happy to be left on my own, because I could take longer and not worry about him waiting around, but I was a little surprised. I stripped the beds and then carefully crept into the bathroom over the rubble, still hoping the floor wouldn’t collapse, to retrieve our old toothbrushes and the two very dusty toilet rolls we had left, plus the wicker baskets which will give the house here some homely touches. I’ve also brought picture frames, all the photos and magnets from the fridge and two plants – so it looks quite nice now. When I left the Manse I had to go through town where it took forever to answer so many questions from so many people – where are we living now, how long will it take to fix the house, where were we at the time, what was it like, how are the boys, and what do I think of the petition to close Pilling Primary School and relocate to another empty school? (Which I think is a silly idea by the way – two sets of parents have started a petition, what an overreaction). Once I made it out of town I came straight here to Piccolo to offload the car. By the time that was done it was after 12 and time for lunch.
You wouldn’t believe what we have growing in the little block of garden outside the house – tomatoes!! There are a number of them that are sizeable and ripe. Caleb found one yesterday and picked it for me as a present, which I had on a sandwich today with mayonnaise. It was so tasty. We haven’t had tomatoes in a really long time, so this was an unexpected blessing. Nick harvested about 10 this afternoon, some of which we cooked for supper. Back to the afternoon though – I had a cup of tea after lunch, and then packed up some of the things at Steve and Maureen’s house. The boys were in on it this time around, very helpful in bagging their toys, and before long we were back at the house. The boys wasted no time in finding their friends; after helping me offload the freezer stuff they were off to play. They love it here – they are so excited to be in a complex where they can run around, and since it is school holidays they have a ready supply of kids to play with.
I had left Nick at home still with his sermon prep and got busy with unpacking the organizing the kitchen – I got quite far by the time Nick phoned at 3 for me to fetch him. I left the boys here, running around outside, which was quite a fine thing to do, and then Nick and I quickly packed most of the rest of our stuff into the car. Still one or two things left at S&M’s house, but the bulk of everything is here now. For the rest of the afternoon we carried on with moving in. It’s already looking very organized – everything has found a place. I guess it was so quick because this isn’t our entire household’s worth of stuff! There were a few things at the Manse which I should have brought but forgot, like fabric softener and the draining rack for washing dishes, but we’re going back tomorrow so I have another chance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home sweet home?

We picked up the keys for our new home today – 5 Piccolo Estate, Longwood. It’s right next door to the Williamson’s unit – identical in layout. They would have been lovely neighbours! We took a drive there this afternoon after lunch, and it’s very adequate if not actually quite nice! It has three bedrooms, although the third one is designated as a study as there is a desk and bookshelf in there and no bed. The boys’ room has two single beds and of course ours has a double. It has a separate toilet and bathroom, spacious lounge/dining area, and separate kitchen. There are loads of cupboards and worktops in the kitchen and lounge etc, and lots of cupboards in the bedrooms. So I think we’ll be very comfortable there. It is fully furnished, but has no bedding or kitchen goods, so once we have extracted what we need from the Manse we can move in. The police phoned this afternoon to offer to escort us into the Manse tomorrow, so since Nick has sermon prep to do, I will go on my own to fill the car with as much as possible. It’s going to take a number of trips and a few days to really empty the manse for the next few months, but there’s no immediate rush. We’re looking forward to moving in though – it’s like a holiday house in a way, and will be ‘ours’. We signed a three-month agreement, but if we need it longer then they will simply renew the agreement. The government is being very good to us – our tax money is working for us! The boys are looking forward to being at Piccolo where there are two other South African children; there’s lots of space to run around and play and if we could get their bicycles out of the workshop it would be an ideal place to ride. I’m not sure if the bikes made it though.

The emergency services were busy in the church and schoolroom this morning, stabilising the properties. This meant that they were pulling down anything loose which was threatening to fall down – so the sounding board at the front of the church has been taken down but quite sadly broken. They had to get into the church ceiling and throw down a number of rocks, which added to the rubble all over. More damage. Nick noticed that the flat pack kitchen stuff being stored in the schoolroom was picking up dampness and the counter tops had started swelling, so together with the firemen who were there he unpacked it all and laid it out so it can dry.

It’s been lovely at Steve and Maureen’s place with the fireplace going in the evenings…it gets very cold in the country, so every night Nick has been lighting a fire. Tonight Aaron wanted to help…Nick showed him how to light a match. The last time he lit a match was when he was 2; it was without adult supervision and he was severely disciplined for it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moving day is coming

Today I have some actual news to share! We have been given accommodation at Piccolo Hill Estate in Longwood, praise the Lord!! The government has agreed to let us move into one of their houses, and they’ve waived the rent. We are thrilled. All we need is a place to call home for the next few months until the Manse is sorted out. I say ‘months’ because the engineers were in town this morning inspecting all the buildings. The chief engineer needs to write up a report now, but they are concerned about the kitchen and outside walls, and it seems that a lot of tearing down will need to happen. The church is also going to need some demolishing on the back wall – I think we already knew this. I guess it’s disappointing to realize that this isn’t going to be a two-week patch up job, but at least now we will have our own place where we can continue school and Nick can do his bible study and sermon prep. Living in someone else’s home, even though Steve and Maureen have graciously offered for us to stay on even after they return from the UK at the end of the month, would really be unideal. I think we will pick up the keys tomorrow morning and then move in straight away – they are just fixing the extraction fan in the kitchen. I’ll send photos when we’ve settled in.

This morning we were in town at about 9.15, following at phonecall at 9 to say that the engineers would be at the house at 9…could we please be there. Doh! Nothing like a bit of warning. We were all ready and waiting though, so hopped in the car with no delay. Nick opened up the house, church, schoolroom and yard, and we quickly gathered a few more belongings (it’s amazing how many things you really need – nail scissors, more shoes, more clothes and especially underwear for the boys, etc). Nick really didn’t want us being in the house when the officials arrived because it’s still out of bounds, so we were quick. It would have been a bit silly for us to trail around with them, plus which they had about ten properties to inspect all the way up the road, so we all went into town to do some shopping, go to the library, fill up with petrol, and so on. We were in town for a long time, and back at the house once or twice in between to check on progress. The Governor’s wife stopped by, so we showed her the inside of the church which was still open and she was amazed at how it looks – photos don’t really capture the whole mess.

I took these from the road-side of the church,

...and the road-side of the schoolroom – so many rocks, such destruction.

At this point the ‘way forward’ regarding the fixing of buildings is still unclear, but we trust that the Lord will continue to provide miraculously as He has already done with Piccolo. In a way it’s exciting to see His arrangements unfolding!

We were home by about 1ish, had lunch of fresh bread and either cheese and mayo or tuna and mayo, and then the boys and I watched a DVD together – Nick wasn’t interested in our Walt Disney selection.

We’ve taken over the corner of the kitchen with our stash of groceries, either brought from home (I had to ask a policeman let me into my own house to get milk out the pantry!) or bought.

Looking at a library book at the shiny glass kitchen table (try keeping fingerprints off that!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Small bits of progress

Nick had on his agenda for today some telephonic organisation. He spoke to the Chief Engineer, the Chief of Police and the Head Teacher at Pillings. The Chief Engineer said that they were having some meetings today, and tomorrow morning they would want to have a look at our house and church buildings to assess the damage. The Chief of Police said that Nick must phone the person in charge of government housing tomorrow, as they would be trying to get us accommodation (probably in Longwood) for a reduced rate. The Pillings Head Teacher said that we can have our Saturday club and Sunday evening services at the school – that is good news. So at the moment there is no progress as such, but things are happening. I just don’t want us to get forgotten about! We stayed at home most of the day since there was no reason to go to our house. We had school almost as usual, not without a lot of complaining from the boys though, but they got through all the work anyway. I’ve found that the threat of schoolwork can be a great motivator for them to find something to do… “you’re bored? Here’s a Maths worksheet for you” sends them scootling off to occupy themselves. They played outside for a while and found a really huge web spider at the top of the garden which they thought was quite amazing (actually it was). Tammy phoned during the day to invite us around for supper there tonight. Nick has a bible study this evening, but we went to their place at 5.30 for an early macaroni cheese, and left just after 7. It was good to be there – Tammy is a lovely person, very concerned for us all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday's events

After a bit of pottering around here this morning, with finalizing details for the AGM and doing the blog, we left for Harry and Jenny’s place at 10. We have to give ourselves plenty of time for travel, because of the closure of Ladder Hill road. Public Works and Services Department has devised a clever scheme though for traffic headed to the western stretches of the island from town, in that they’ve opened Shy Road, which links up with Ladder Hill Road directly above where the car accident was. However, Shy Road is only a single lane with no passing bays, so at certain times of the day it is for up-bound traffic only, and at other times for downward traffic only. They announce the times on the radio, but in case you miss that you can look on your car radio if it’s enabled to receive text messages, and the times scroll across the display. Quite high-tech stuff. Getting back to our travels though, we needed to stop in at the Manse to get church clothes, and I also retrieved my mandolin and a few more schoolbooks, and then we were off. Jenny was hard at work in the kitchen and had been busy all morning already, and by lunch time we could see why. She blessed us with enormous quantities and variety of food – sweetcorn, pumpkin, rice, steaks, amazing roast potatoes (lots of them) and a gorgeous salad with battered tuna sticks, fresh pineapple, carrots and lettuce. For dessert she had made a steamed ginger pudding and custard. Then there was a chocolate cake which we didn’t even get into both because we were simply too full, and because we ran out of time before we needed to get to church. Nick left at 1.10 to be in time to pick up two people and get to the chapel, and we left about 40 minutes later. As it was, Nick ran slightly late – we ended up getting to the chapel at the same time! It was already quite full. Vincent led the service, so Nick could join us in the second bookshelf, I mean pew, in the chapel. During the singing of the second hymn, we both wept – I guess we just needed to. It was wonderful to cry things out. The first verse of the hymn was particularly meaningful:

Let Your living water flow over my soul.
Let Your Holy Spirit come and take control
Of every situation that has troubled my mind.
All my cares and burdens on to You I roll.

I had to repent of feeling sorry for myself and allowing anxieties to catch up with me, instead of simply trusting that God will work everything out. When Nick got up to preach he was still very emotional and struggled to read the devotion he had prepared for the bulletin:

Here are some verses to guide us in our response to the rockfall and the damage done to church property.
Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
In the book of Job we see a righteous man being allowed to suffer the loss of all of his property and family. It is never revealed to Job the reason why God allowed this to happen, and when God appears to Job at the end of the book He does not offer Job an explanation either. The most powerful lesson of the book of Job is his example which is captured in the verses above. Notice that he responded to God in worship in verse 20, accepts God’s sovereignty and right to give and take away in verse 21 and never accused God (verse 22). As we as a church face the crisis of the loss of church property, we need to make Job our example in how to respond. God has unseen purposes and all that matters for us at this time is to be faithful and to trust in the Lord.

After that the preaching proceeded as normal. I don’t think that the people will remember Nick’s message as much as his response to the disaster. I think a lot of people were a bit weepy during the service. We had the AGM directly following the service, and it was long and boring as AGMs tend to be. Also slightly disorganized in that certain pieces of paper which should have been photocopied and distributed are lying covered in dust at the Manse. It was good though, with much thanksgiving to God for His provision for us over the last year. After the AGM we had a little slide-show prepared on the laptop of the damage to the church properties, and I suspect that our church folk hadn’t had any idea of the actual extent of the devastation or the very real danger we were in up until then. After that there was a lot of hugging and more tears! We only left church at 5.30; Harry and Jenny had been waiting around all this time to help us with transport in getting home, knowing that Nick would be full up, which he was.

Caleb says he doesn’t know what the big deal is all about, and Aaron is also living in la-la land. A major disaster for them is not rocks falling on your house and nearly killing you, it’s when they can’t get the solitary cherry in the middle of the chocolate cake. So, on the whole they’re happy and untraumatised (even though I ate the cherry).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not allowed home

It’s 16h52. Nick and I are doing the bulletin – he just finished his sermon about 20 minutes ago. What a relief to have that done, finally! Instead of starting over, he continued with what he had started preparing on Thursday morning. It took a long time though, between the interruptions of phonecalls, visits to our house and a splitting headache today. We slept quite well last night. After breakfast and a shower (and it was nice to use my own shampoo again), I wrote the Chronicles. Jenny and Harry arrived at about 9.30, for Nick and Harry to pray. We first had tea and chatted, and then Nick and Harry went into the study. Jenny chatted to the boys while I hung up washing on a clothes airer – it had started raining. I’m so used to being at home where my washing line is under cover and it makes no difference whether I wash in the rain or shine, that I was quite surprised at this turn of events. Definitely a down-side to living in the country, which a lot of people complain about! Anyway, Harry and Jenny were ready to leave at about 11, and then Nick continued with his sermon prep. I kept moving the clothes horse between the inside and outside – the sun came out, but then the wind knocked it over so some things got dirty again. This has been very annoying. I think I read a bit and the boys played, then we had lunch of sandwiches with a yeast extract I found in the cupboard – similar to Oxo but much stronger. After lunch Nick’s head was so bad that he went to rest. Oh, throughout the day I’ve been photocopying reports for tomorrow’s AGM. I still have to print and copy the pastor’s report and then the bulletins, so I’m trying to install Steve and Maureen’s printer now – had to hunt around for the driver disk which I found. Anyway, we had arranged to meet Teddy at our house at about 2 pm, so off we went home. The boys were very excited to see the mess and wanted to go everywhere and play on the piles of rubble. Two policemen were also there at that time, photographing the debris and damage, so we had to be very careful in restraining the boys, having been reminded by the stern bobbies that our house is officially out of bounds. I went into the church for the first time and even though I had seen through the window, I was horrified to see what it actually looked like. It is very sad and quite unbelievable. The offering table has been smashed and there is a huge hole in the wall, looking out to the sky where the schoolroom roof has been demolished. Truly, it looks like a bomb exploded in there. Pews are broken and there is a thick layer of dust covering everything. I didn’t walk down the aisle because there was so much debris lying over the steps that it looked a bit dodgy and unsafe.
We couldn’t go into the schoolroom at all – that we could see was dangerous because the metal sheet roofing was hanging down and flapping in the wind. All I could see was lots of sky. Fortunately I had enough time and liberty in our house to pack a lot of groceries from the kitchen, pantry and fridge (had to throw away some fridge things – Nick had already disposed of the broccoli, such a waste), and some things from upstairs. I even crept into the bathroom and removed the wash basket with the dirty laundry I would have washed yesterday – now covered in dust – to bag it and bring it here. I first had to warn the boys to move into the lounge though in case the bathroom floor collapsed, as they had been directly below the bathroom making a tower from the chunks of plaster and rock which shot out of the passage wall. Honestly, the things kids do to amuse themselves. I also packed away the ironing I had done on Thursday morning as it was getting dusty from the ceiling. Meanwhile Nick was packing up all his and Tammy’s music and studio equipment, to be able to drop it off at Tammy for safe-keeping. Home again at about 4 pm, time for a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate and a choc-chip cookie, and then I hung the washing properly on the dryer outside as the sun had come out. Packed away all the stuff we brought, using some available counter space in the kitchen for our supplies.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Assessing the damage

At about 11.30 today we were telephoned to say that the energy division wanted to get into the house to assess the situation. They wanted Nick to be there too, so we all went into town. The road is still closed, so we parked close and Nick walked up the road to the police line. They let him through, and pretty soon he went in to the house with two officials. After some time Nick whistled down the road for me to come up. Meanwhile though, Harry had arrived on the scene, so I left the boys with him (we didn’t think it would be a good idea for them to be running around the house in its present condition – not for their psyche, just for safety!) and went in. We were told that we had 5 minutes. That wasn’t much time to gather clothing for the next few days, camera cable, all our pillows (we didn’t sleep well last night), toiletries, schoolbooks, toys, the rest of the freezer stuff (alas, there is fresh broccoli going bad in the fridge still which we forgot to bring), and for Nick to move his music equipment to a safe spot in his office, under the desk. We brought two suitcases and a few bags. No doubt we will still be able to get back into the house tomorrow, but for now at least we can set up camp in Steve and Maureen’s home. We had lunch at Sally’s, did a bit of shopping and then came back ‘home’. There is still a lot of disorganization in Jamestown as the main road running through town is closed, so to get from lower Jamestown to upper Jamestown, you have to go quite a way around on the mountain road, which is, as you can imagine, quite congested. We were nearly in a car accident as an oncoming Jeep was looking at the damage in the valley while driving, and only managed to correct at the last minute.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The day our lives got rearranged

In the newspaper this week, an article something like this would have appeared: This morning at approximately 10 am in Jamestown a massive rockfall occurred – certainly the biggest rockfall in 20 or 30 years. A large portion of rock was dislodged from the top of the Ladder Hill mountain, falling down with a frightening rumble into the Jamestown valley. Several properties were badly damaged, from the Baptist Manse up past Alan Richard’s workshop. The Governor, in his statement, said that “we are grateful to God for the preservation of life”. Indeed, not one person was killed or even injured. This has been declared a major disaster.
Our personal account would sound more like this: On Thursday morning the Williamsons had just arrived at our house to spend their last morning on the island with us. Kyle and Ema went across the road to the Haven to bid farewell to some of the people they had interviewed. The boys were all chatting in the lounge or diningroom (no water fights today) and had had their juice and freshly-baked choc-chip cookies. Genevieve and I had just settled in the diningroom with our tea and biscuits, when we heard a terrifying cacophony of rumbles, crashes, glass breaking – it took a few seconds to register that there had been a rockfall and that our house had been hit, but the adrenalin rush sparked an immediate reaction of shouting to get out of the house. The four boys, Genevieve and I ran out, but on the road there was more pandemonium as small rocks were bouncing on the road and all around us. I heard Nick from the upstairs windows shouting “RUN!”; we raced down the road to safety in time to watch clouds of dust billowing out of the Baptist Chapel and off the mountain where the rocks had left a trail. Everything happened so quickly, but once the adrenalin wore off we were severely shaken and tired. Kyle and Ema had reappeared from the Haven when they heard the rumble, and so all were accounted for except Nick, who took some time to come out onto the road. He had been stuck upstairs as he had been working in his office when he heard the clamour, and couldn’t get downstairs – he could hear rocks thudding against the outside wall of the house. The best he could do was run to the road side of the house and wait it out, keeping a quick eye on the ceiling in case he had to dodge anything. When it subsided he made his way down and out as well, looking surprisingly calm and happy. At the time we didn’t really realize the enormity of what just happened, but when we went back and saw the devastation in our house, the chapel, and schoolroom, we were just humbled and thankful that God has spared us all – particularly the boys, because if they had been playing outside at the time, it’s not likely that they would have survived. Nick was probably in the greatest actual danger as his office is on the mountain side – rocks came down all around, but his office was untouched. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! There were surely angels watching over us that day; we came out with not one scratch or bruise.

The damage to our house is small compared to the chapel and schoolroom, but I’ll start there. The bathroom has a hole in the wall approximately 1m high and wide. The bath has been repositioned and so has the handbasin, but the toilet stood its ground and remarkably so did the mirror on the wall and the glass shelf in the corner. There is a disturbingly wide crack in the sea-facing wall, so the structural damage will need to be assessed.
Nick’s office, the boy’s room, our bedroom and the guest room are unscathed, but in my craft room there is a rock on the bed which came through the roof, shattering one of the ceiling boards.
Downstairs, the diningroom and lounge are fine, albeit dusty. In the kitchen a couple of windows broke. Behind the stove, the entire wall has buckled inwards – not collapsed, but cracked in several places and leaning inwards. The bamboo over Nick’s BBQ area has been broken like toothpicks, and an outside wall crumpled. There is a hole in the wall which separates us from the empty house next door, and rocks and debris all over the back yard, including an enormous boulder on what was left on the lawn and big gashes through the grass where it bounced. The boys’ tree house area is only half standing, with more splintered wood scattered about. The workshop was badly hit too, with a big corner broken off.
Moving on to the church, it seems that rocks came all the way over the chapel and penetrated the roof toward the road side – you can imagine with what force and speed they were moving. Many of the wooden railings in the gallery have been splintered, and the wooden railings at the stage have broken. The organ seems to be unscathed, but the OHP is smashed – a big blow to our children’s ministry. The big sounding board at the front of the church is hanging off the wall at a sad angle, and a few of the pews seem also to be broken. The extent of the damage is actually quite unbelievable.
Then, the schoolroom itself is pretty bad. Half of the roof has been ripped off – that roof was put on about two years ago, you may recall. I haven’t seen in there, but there are apparently a lot of rocks lying about there. Next to the schoolroom, the yard is lying full of rocks. From a view point on the opposite mountain the damage is evident – our carport has been squashed and the rented garage next to it looks like it exploded. The property next door to that, Alan Richard’s property, was also badly damaged but I don’t know details.
Our house is uninhabitable at present and will remain so until the bathroom at least has been repaired and the structural damage assessed by engineers – it may either be worse than we think, or not too bad at all. In the meantime we have moved into the home of a couple in our church who are away in the UK on holiday. They offered us their house before they left, in the event of a rockfall – definitely not anticipating something of this magnitude! Rock guards were on the hillside later in the afternoon, probing the surrounding area and dislodging anything else that needed to come down. We actually happened to be watching from the opposite mountain as another big boulder bounced down; we discovered later that it landed in our back yard, smashing the steps leading from our yard to the church. We saw where part of the Ladder Hill road has been damaged, and the car that was crushed in the rockfall – bonnet and boot destroyed, but miraculously the passengers could open their doors and get out of the car.

Please pray with us that God would be glorified through this all, and that His church would come through it with strength. We will need to find alternate arrangements for the Jamestown services for the next few months until the chapel has been repaired. We don’t yet know His purposes in allowing this to happen, but we know that He is sovereign; inasmuch as not one sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge, also not one rock tumbles down a mountain that He has not already known about. Caleb and Aaron are handling the situation extremely well. Of course we will keep an eye on them, because I understand that a trauma like this can manifest itself over the course of time, but for now they are at peace. I suspect they are sadder at losing their new friends who left on the ship today: saying goodbye to Kyle, Genevieve, Ema, Ben and Sam added to the general trauma of the day. Genevieve was wonderfully calm throughout the whole ordeal this morning and I was so grateful to have her support. What a way for them to spend their last morning!

We invited ourselves to Harry and Jenny for supper, also feeling like we could use Christian company – the arrangements were a bit sketchy though and Jenny didn’t really know we were coming to eat, but managed to rustle up some superb burgers with lettuce and fried egg. They phoned their local shop up the road, who obligingly opened their store for Harry to buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, cereal and milk for us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Friendly friends

Guess what we spent the afternoon doing today? Socialising! We were very honoured to have the Williamsons spend their last afternoon on the island with us. I phoned during the morning to see if I could help with getting their luggage to the docks, or looking after the boys while they were packing or something, and it seemed that I could be useful with the extra boot and passenger space another car afforded. I went on my own to their house after lunch, and we loaded up the suitcases that needed to be handed in today. We dropped the boys and Ema off at our house, then took the stuff to the docks where we didn’t have to wait. I went straight back home, and Kyle and Genevieve went to the museum to have a quick chat with Lucy. Meanwhile, the boys had all been playing together very happily. K&G arrived about an hour later and had some tea/coffee etc. Nick had been busy with a guitar lesson but joined us when he was finished. I don’t think they really intended to stay as long as they did, leaving at 6.20, but we were so glad that they could! At about 5 pm the boys asked if they could watch a DVD, but we said no, because they would probably be leaving soon. We went outside to take a group photo of the two families (with Kyle’s camera – I don’t have the photo yet), and then the grown-ups stayed outside chatting while the boys disappeared again inside.

Meanwhile, Vincent and Vilma arrived for Lay Preachers’ training which Nick had actually called off, but they didn’t get the message. They chatted with Kyle while us ladies chatted, and Ema photographed my shoes (!). Anyway, after much chatting, we went inside when it started raining and were very surprised to see all four boys watching Open Season – already an hour into it! Aaron had put it on, remembering which buttons to push on which remotes; we couldn’t believe we had been standing around outside talking for so long! We just went right on chatting until their movie was finished, and then they headed off home. I got a quick supper together (very quick – literally, 10 minutes) of quick-cook pasta with fried onion and tinned tuna. Actually it was quite delicious – Caleb took a long time to get through his, but the rest of us enjoyed it.

Tomorrow we will skip school entirely, catching up next week when we have holiday, so that we can have a last morning together with the Ws. They are going to come here at about 9.30, then we will leave the boys here and go shopping for some things they want for the ship or whatever. Their embarkation is betw. 12 and 1, and the ship leaves at 2. It’s going to be dreadfully hard to say goodbye! I’m quite amazed at how it feels like we’ve known them for ages.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Today was higgledy-piggledy. This morning, feeling a bit anxious about some things needing doing before the ship leaves on Thursday, I thought I should rather just take what time I need this morning, since this afternoon I had plans, and catch up the missed school next week, when we have a holiday. Since I am a homeschooler, I may as well not stress myself out by sticking to schedules when some flexibility is required! So, we just did the first session, fitting in most of the Maths and the language studies, and then after giving the boys their snacks at ten, I went out shopping. I wasn’t out for very long and found what I needed, having gone from Queen Mary’s to Rose & Crown, and then down to the Star. I left my shopping bag at the Star on the shelf, as is customary, and when I went out the shop it was gone. Either someone stole it, or someone picked it up by mistake and will return it. I found a lady who looked like she was in charge at the Star and explained what had happened, even though there probably wasn’t much she could do about it, but she said they would call the radio station to get it aired, so if it had been accidentally picked up, the person would realize and return it. I didn’t listen to the radio after that, so I don’t know if that happened. I have to say though that I think it was stolen – there were no other shopping bags around, so it’s not really like someone could have picked it up with their bags. We had our usual lunch of sandwiches and Oxo/jam/peanut butter, and then Pam arrived at 12.30 to visit and play guitar. We had a jolly good time together, playing off and on for about 2 hours. We played through some kids’ songs as well, in early preparation for holiday bible club which will be from 20-24 October.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Obviously not very South African

When I got home from the dropping Keisha and Tysha off at the top of Ladder Hill after the girls’ group, I said to Nick, “I don’t really feel like cooking; let’s go out for Kentucky instead”. Nick played along, and asked the boys in his best fake-enthusiastic manner if they wanted to get KFC…Caleb’s reply was “what’s KFC?” Nick and I laughed in disbelief at his de-Southafricanisation!

Banks' Battery and Birthday Party

Yesterday morning we had an early start to see Wilson off at the docks at 8 am. We ran a little late getting there, as Harry and Peter arrived at 7.30 to pray with Nick, but were standing around waiting at 8.15. It’s always fun to chat to everyone else who is there, and see who is going and all. By ten to nine they were calling for passengers for the last busload, and we still hadn’t seen Wilson – Nick checked with the shipping person who said that Wilson was on the very first busload, at 8! Couldn’t believe we missed him – pity. The plans for the rest of the day were unexpected, in that we went on a hike to Banks’ Battery, which is accessible from Rupert’s Bay. We went with Kyle and Genevieve and family (of course), who had phoned earlier on Saturday morning to invite us. Directly after Good News Club we headed over to Ruperts, where they were already waiting. We set out along the path with led us steeply uphill, away from the Jamestown direction. The beginning bit covered us in burrs which were very uncomfortable for Aaron especially as they kept pricking him through his clothing – we had to try pick most of them off, but their shoes and jackets are still full of them! The hike was just shy of an hour, I think – being along a coastal route it was very stony and barren, not like the walk to the flax mill on Thursday. The path was mostly level along the sides of ridges, along three or four bayheads, and we spotted a group of dolphins in the distance. I was a real ninny when it came to walking downhill on the gravely bits – I was terrified of slipping and either falling on my bum and really hurting myself, or not stopping before the edge of the path and tumbling over the cliff into the sea which was frighteningly far below us. I was right at the back and at one point I stopped completely, being too scared to carry on. Genevieve was on the point of going ahead to call Nick to come back and help me, but I pulled myself together and kept going – feeling pretty embarrassed when I finally arrived at our destination a good ten minutes after everyone! We ended at a collection of little tidal pools right on the coast, where we explored and had our lunch. We were all intrigued by the sea urchins – there were many of them growing in the largest of the pools, and Kyle gently lifted one out for closer inspection. They are alive, which I guess was surprising to me, and I don’t suppose it liked being out of the water because it was waving its spikes around quite dramatically. I tried to feed it by dropping breadcrumbs onto its mouth part, but it simply expelled them by slowly moving them to the edge of itself and dropping them off. We saw little fish and crabs, and a few dead flying fish, closely attended by myriad flies. Nick, Caleb and Kyle did some further exploration up the next ridge, enthusiastically tackling the hills. They went as far as the path would take them, where they discovered an underground tunnel of sorts. Meanwhile, Aaron needed a poo, so we had to find a spot on the rocks where the sea would hopefully wash it away. Boy, was I glad I had taken a toilet roll! The walk back to the cars was more manageable, partly because it seemed to have less downhills, and partly because on the downhills I was walking close behind Nick and could hang on to him! Aaron fell and bruised his hand, but other than that there were no casualties. All in all, a memorable walk and mostly very enjoyable! We all went back to our house afterwards – Nick rushed out to a band practice, but the rest of us flopped in the lounge where the boys watched a DVD.

Today we had more socialising planned – Sam’s birthday party/lunch. I spent the morning catching up on a few things, and then only had to make a pizza to take with us. As soon as Nick came home we left for the Williamson’s place in Longwood, and were surprised to see the sun shining there – having prepared ourselves clothing-wise for a cold afternoon. We had a delicious lasagna, broccoli, fruit salad and the pizza for lunch (we all guessed that it was an American thing to have the fruit salad as part of lunch – us South Africans would have served it for dessert!). There were, I think, ten kids in all, if you include Ema as a kid, which she really is not. The kids played outside most of the afternoon while the oldies stayed in and chatted – Pam was also there for lunch, while her husband Jeff went off to play football. Aaron picked a hibiscus flower and two daisies for Genevieve, which he said were to say thank you – how sweet!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Koop hierdie verf

School this morning was quite fine. Since that hiccup last week, there have been no problems. I had a little bit of catching up to do, but nothing too drastic. We went out to Sally’s for lunch, and then did our read-aloud when we got home. Then I had to go back to town for a few goodies for tonight. When I got home, Elza was here for a quick visit. I dropped off my shopping bags in the lounge, and when I looked five minutes later, Aaron had unpacked most of the stuff on the lounge floor to see what I had bought! Elza had already looked through the museum scrapbook in its prototype form while I was still out, and says she wants to be the first person to buy it when it comes out! We quickly went to town together so I could show her which sort of acrylic paint to buy for dry-brushing, and it was fun walking about the Emporium, chatting away in Afrikaans.

We had Harry, Jenny and Peter over to dinner this evening – we’ve been wanting to for ages, but since Peter is leaving next Thursday, we thought we’d better attend to it soon. It was an excellent evening – I made lasagna, and Jenny had dropped off a cake earlier in the day. We always have a good time of fellowship with them, and tonight was no exception.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Tooth story concludes

I got up early this morning to have my quiet time, got breakfast slightly earlier than usual, and then got started on the day. I wanted to fit in a lot before 11 when we were scheduled to go on our hike to an old flax mill. First thing was to write out a ‘check list’ for the boys so they could work through some maths and language studies independently. I set out all their work for them, explained what to do, and left them to it when I went to the dentist at 8.15. Since my tooth cracked on Monday I have been hoping it wasn’t going to do anything, but last night I could feel a loose bit again. I was the second person there, but the first one just went in for a check-up, had an injection and was out again to wait in the waiting room for the anaesthetic to kick in – normal procedure for the emergency appointments. Then it was my turn. Shame, the poor dentist doesn’t know what to say when he sees me back there! He had a look at the tooth and established that he couldn’t do anything more with it, which is what I suspected – the final option being to extract it. I asked when he would want to do that, thinking it would be scheduled for some time in the future, but he said “now”. Oh d-d-d-dear. He administered the anaesthetic, which tasted vile and ran down the back of my throat, and then sent me back to the waiting room. I was just praying all the time, asking God to make me brave, and for the tooth to come out easily. Then there were cotton wads being put into my mouth, and forceps, and a lot of pushing, and the assistant standing behind me holding my head, and more pushing, and bits of teeth breaking off…I was waiting for the final tug which would send the dentist reeling backwards, and so had just gripped the arms of the chair in readiness when he put another wad of gauze into my mouth and told me to bite down. It was all over – I didn’t even know it had come out! I was mightily relieved, and thankful to God for such immediate answers to prayer. I was sent back to the waiting room again, which was embarrassing as I had to sit there with a big chunk of bloody bandage sticking out one side of my mouth, and spit dribbling out the other side because I couldn’t suck it all up to swallow properly, with all the other waiting patients. He just wanted to be sure that the bleeding had stopped before sending me home. He called me in for a final check, the assistant gave me a little piece of paper with advice on what to do after an extraction, and I could go home – no charge, as it was the same tooth they had worked on several times. So, that is the conclusion to the story of that tooth. These are the things I am grateful for:

· That I didn’t have to fork out thousands of RRRs to get a root-canal done, which ended up being extracted just a few months later. My root canal here cost ₤1.30.
· That the tooth is not right in the front of my mouth; it’s visible when I smile broadly but only just.
· That I will not be bothered any more by this tooth.
· That God was with me the entire time.
· That the dentist pulled out the right tooth (horror story – someone went for an extraction around the time Nick had his pulled out, and the dentist pulled the wrong one!)
· That one day in heaven I will have a glorified body with a perfect set of teeth!

When I got home I had no inclination to talk much or teach any more school, so after showing-and-telling Nick and the boys the actual root of the tooth which I had brought home, gave them their tenzees, hung up washing, then made sandwiches and got things together for our hike. We were invited yesterday by Genevieve to hike to an old flax mill in Sandy Bay area – actually it was down the Fairy Land road. We were in two minds about going, considering my morning, but I didn’t want to let the boys down and Nick also felt that it would be good for me to get out and get my mind off things. I agreed, and so after taking two painkillers, we set off. By now my mouth was hurting so I was reduced to nods of the heads and grunts, and my face was still very numb and distorted. We arrived there and had a bit of a wait for some other people to arrive. By the time we set off we were quite a merry party – it was the five Williamsons, the four Clevelys, Judy (the Australian lady who joins us on Monday afternoons for crafts) and her friend Jeremy, Henry Thorpe who was our guide, and the Financial Secretary Ginny and her two young adult nieces who are visiting. The 20-minute walk towards the mill was lovely – all downhill, on a good track which wound through the countryside – green hills all around us looking down into the valley – and then parts of it were wooded and shaded. We all thoroughly enjoyed being in nature. The mill itself is very old and unkempt, but all the machinery, even though broken, is still there. Henry did a bit of a talk about how things worked but we missed most of it, being in the rear. We could walk in amongst all the old stuff, and even pick on the two bales of flax which had been left there. I was amused to see a herd of cows staring at us from behind a barb-wire fence – they were literally all facing us, just looking at us as though they had never seen people. Now I know what animals in a zoo feel like. After a short while of looking around and chatting to various people, we settled down for lunch. I picked off bits of my peanut-butter sandwich and ate them very carefully on all my right teeth. The boys had a super time – they had been ahead of the group the whole time, even with taking a wrong turn and getting called back, they still maintained their lead. The skies were looking very grey after lunch and the air had turned cold, so we headed back. Judy and Jeremy were going to walk further, and Henry and the ladies started back a bit before us, having something else they wanted to do, so the Williamsons and Clevelys were left. Instead of taking the path all the way up, we just cut across wide grassy plains, which were steeper, but quicker! Still, it was a long uphill to get back to the cars and we were all a little out of breath at the top. It was well worth the effort though, just to be outdoors and doing something different. I was especially glad that Nick had been able to join us, as Thursday is usually his main sermon prep day. He started this morning and got about half way before we left, and he will finish tomorrow afternoon, I think, instead of doing the path at Head o’Wain.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

DIY school

This morning I was thinking that I should really phone Genevieve and find out how they’re doing, when the phone rang…of course from the beginning of the sentence you will already know who it was! She asked if we were free today, to which I happily replied in the affirmative, so we arranged for them to come after lunch. First we had school though, and got through all our normal goodies. I had to get to the museum during the morning to show Lucy the book, so after I hung up the washing I set the buzzer for the boys, telling them that when the buzzer rang they were to go inside and start their Maths – I had everything laid out and ready. I did what I needed to do quite quickly, and when I got home both boys had finished their Maths, except for a bit which Aaron didn’t understand and so left it out until I came home. They both looked so pleased with themselves, especially when they said that they had started even before the buzzer went off!

After school I did a bit of work on the museum book, as there are a few things I’m not happy with, now that I see it in print. I got through a couple of things before our visitors arrived, and from then it was a wonderful afternoon of chatting. The boys got on with themselves, doing a bit of this and that. When it was time to go, Caleb and Aaron ran to the car with Ben and Sam, and as usual, they climbed in. Genevieve and I decided to play a little trick, as she needed to go down the road to turn around anyway – so we left my boys in the car and off she went! Aaron got a bit worried…“I want to go home”!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tooth fixed...and...broken again

I’ve just finished putting together the museum book, after printing out the little bits yesterday. It was a lot of work. Now that it’s done, it looks really lovely, even though it’s only 2/3 of the size it should ultimately be, and it’s come out quite skew…still a good indication of what it will be like. Nick is also impressed.

Yesterday morning I was at the dentist at my usual time. I was the second patient to go in, and explained the history of the tooth (even though he has all my records). He probed the tooth quite a lot, wiggling the loose part which was painful for the gum, and I kept expecting him to pull a big chunk out. He didn’t though, and after a bit of thought he decided to repair the crack instead of removing half the tooth and trying to build it up again. I am very impressed with his dentistry skills. He more or less stuck it together using two different compounds. I was on top of the world when I got home, feeling very relieved to have it sorted out, with no extraction and not even an anaesthetic! School ran a little late but we got through the work, and I must congratulate Caleb on his improved attitude. He is back to the normal Caleb who works diligently and gets on with things. I did a timed drill this morning in Maths, and there were no complaints or playing around – both boys finished in the allotted time. There have been no tears in the last two days. True, there have been general complaints and the usual silliness, but that is much easier to handle than the switching off. I was planning on doing a craft with my girls in the Monday group, so didn’t prepare any talk or anything. The girls came unprepared though, so we couldn’t do the craft of covering tins to make pencil pots. Instead, we spoke about scrapbooking! It was a very unspiritual session, but I don’t mind that once in a while - it’s still bridge-building! I ran them through the basics of scrapping, and told them all the things that they can get on the island if they want to take it up. They had a look at the five scrapbooks I have going. I popped home to put the supper in the oven (tuna bake with the white onion soup, which I had prepared before the group), and went back to the schoolroom with some jelly babies for us. I bit into mine and ‘crack’ went the tooth. Quite sore, too. I felt around cautiously but there doesn’t seem to be anything loose, so I’m not sure what to do about it. I can’t chew on it at all because it hurts, but I’m going to just give it time and see if it settles. If there is a crack, then it will eventually fall apart because germs will get in and it will rot. Until then, I’ll keep it in my mouth! I don’t think there’s anything more the dentist can do with it. It’s just annoying that it broke again on the very day it was so well fixed up.

Today has been a quiet, at-home day, other than popping out to town for bread and a few goodies. I bought fresh mince at the Star – I don’t think I’ve ever bought mince on the island that hasn’t been frozen, except for tuna mince! Tonight will be spaghetti bolognaise.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Outdoor studio

After last night’s unusually late bedtime, Aaron peeled out of bed just before 8, with very puffy eyes, and Caleb was fast asleep until 8.45! He came down as bright as a bird, feeling very pleased with himself for having slept so late. In fact, it was the first thing he told his father when he walked in the door after church – and every person he saw today since! The boys didn’t have much time to kill this morning before tenzees, and then I put on a DVD for them – we didn’t hire one for them this weekend, so they watched Bionicles. Lunch was left overs from the braai – we had potato salad, pasta salad and savoury rice – and bacon-wrapped sausages under the grill. After that we scattered – Caleb and I played checkers, which he lost and sulked over for a while (we're still working on character issues here), and Aaron and Nick had some rough and tumbling in the lounge.

In the late afternoon we went out to check on Steve and Maureen’s house, which Nick has to keep an eye on while they are away on holiday. We used the opportunity to take a family photo, trying to take advantage of the splendid scenery, but couldn’t incorporate it without getting the grey sky in. On the way home we called in at Gavin and Tammy and stayed for tea and pancakes, and I was treated to two songs by Nick and Tammy which will be for the third album.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Dangerous food!

Nick and I browsed through a dictionary this afternoon – I tried to stump him with words that I thought he wouldn’t know, but it turns out we have quite a large vocabulary. Some may think this exercise would be prosaic, but it wasn’t at all banal! I even found a use for ‘pugnacious’ later in the evening. Tammy’s second album was launched yesterday, 1 August, and to celebrate we hosted a BBQ. Darrin and Sharon were our first guests to arrive, with Tammy, Gavin and the kids arriving soon after, and Danny arrived some time later. I had made a focaccia bread, but it stayed in the oven a bit long and got overcooked, so I renamed them ‘cheese sticks’. I was just enjoying one of them when I heard a ‘crack’ in my mouth – no prizes for guessing where I will be at 8.15 on Monday morning. The good news is that it’s not the tooth that was fixed up on Friday – no, no, this is the other root filled one that was fixed up about two months ago. It cracked right down the middle of the whole tooth, so that the inside part is loose. I felt like crying but that wouldn’t help, so I didn’t. I wasn’t much inclined to eat after that, because I can’t apply any sort of chewing pressure to the tooth as it kind of flaps about and hurts my gum. I had to moosh the food around on the right side of my mouth, trying to be careful with the new filling. Needless to say I’m quite discouraged about the whole thing, but have to put it in the hands of our Sovereign God who even knows about such trivial things as teeth. The rest of the evening was very pleasant though. The grown-ups sat around the braai area, and Gavin had brought a huge fluorescent light which was perfect. Strangely, no insects were attracted to the light, or the food – not even one little miggie. Possibly because it had rained earlier in the day? Harley and Katie, Tammy’s two, were shy at first but warmed up to our boys and they seemed to have a good time playing, right up until everyone left at 22.30.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Good as new

School today went pretty well. Caleb caught up on the Maths worksheet he missed yesterday quite willingly – I didn’t press it at all, but he voluntarily did it. His attitude was much better, but also it was an easy day with nothing of any particular difficulty to do. After our tenzees we did science, which is always an experiment on Friday, and today’s was very interesting in that we made a solenoid – it’s to do with electromagnetism, in case you’re wondering! Then, using the solenoid, we made a little railway station, where the signal goes up because one end is pulled down by a threaded needle. All very exciting. We finished school quite late, and then I had my dentist appointment at 2.15. I had to walk up the road, leaving the boys at home on their own, as Nick was out at Head o’Wain again doing the path. I got there well before the time, but still had a bit of a wait anyway. The appointment was a big one – I was in the chair for an hour. Let me just clarify what I mean by having my tooth filled: it’s not a tiny hole which needed filling. Half the tooth had broken off, because it’s root filled and therefore brittle. So the last locum battled to get a filling to stay because there’s not much to really hold it in place. So this new dentist, having seen how easily a regular filling fell out, decided to use pins to hold it there – kind of like the metal supports in a concrete block. There was a lot of injecting and drilling and filling. He used one of those big drills that rattle the skull – actually felt rather like he was drilling into my skull. Eventually the filling was all in place, with FOUR pins! Then he had to file it down, and every time I opened my eyes during the break between drilling, I could see a puff of tooth (filling) dust pouring out my mouth. Nick had arrived while I was in the chair, on his way home from the country, to fetch me. He had quite a long wait, but I was really glad to see him. Interestingly, after all that work, my face didn’t have the usual dentist numbness. I think because he injected quite shallowly, in various places, instead of one deep one. So although I couldn’t quite smile properly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as in the past. Nick and I went past our house and down to town, to get a DVD for last night and a few nibblies to go with it. By the time we got home the boys had been alone for nearly two hours, but they were happy; hadn’t burned the house down or anything.