Got the slide going again yesterday. Think I should have smoothed out the sand a bit because there were quite a few bumps in it. But it went down well.

Also got bruised at Rachael's school this week. We had a parent-teacher-pupil interview. Just beforehand, Rachael took me on a quick tour of the playground. She showed me the slide. It's one of these wavy slides that goes along, down, along, down and along. Unfortunately I picked up too much speed in the first down section and went airborne during the second. I didn't participate much in the interview; I was trying to find the least painful way of sitting down!

Rachael's doing well at school, but gets distracted easily. They're currently doing building work right outside the classroom!

Bronwyn has started painting the stonework outside the front of the house. It's now brilliant white, and Bronwyn is suffering from snow-blindness...

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Rain at last 
No idea why that branch broke last week. It had been calm and sunny for weeks. That evening, we had nearly an inch of rain, and over the next two days some very strong winds. It blew the plastic sheet off the water slide, but fortunately it didn't blow a lot of sand off, and I fixed it up reasonably quickly this morning. The paddocks are still looking a bit bare, but the green is beginning to show through.

Just dug up a row of potatoes. Got 6kg from a seven foot row. We always seem to do well for potatoes. Now we've got more than we can eat!

Bronwyn's painted the old picnic table that belonged to her parents, and currently sits in our back yard. Looks a lot better now! I've been trying to tidy up a bit; we invited her parents for dinner tomorrow night.

Got some new music at the band this week. One was an arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon that someone in the band had done. Nice piece, but it goes way too high for a number of people (he's a bass player) so he's rewriting parts of it for next week.

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Quite a week 
Still no rain! We're down to half a tank, but it's taken us weeks to get that low, so I'm not too concerned. Everyone else seems to run out of water completely every three weeks. We seem to use hardly any, yet it's not as if we're being careful...

Bronwyn went into respite again on Wednesday, and had a better time than last. She's been out fishing several times (caught a sizeable snapper) and has played the flute. Meanwhile I've been at home looking after the children, with some help from family and friends.

I've been out all day playing in the band for the Kumeu agricultural show, and I'm tired and thirsty. We had a barbecue afterwards, and I nipped back to pick up Bronwyn and the girls, since we had plenty of food left over. We came back to find a large tree branch collapsed across the driveway. Fortunately it's just possible to drive underneath it, but it's taken out the fence on the other side, so Bronwyn had to move the sheep there into the next paddock. (She's quite good at herding sheep in a Toyota Caldina. Only gets out of the car to shut the gate.)

Picture: Bronwyn's brother Neil (in orange) and his mate Robert (in the tractor) try to make the drive safe and passable. Bronwyn and Sarah pretend to hold up the tree. Princess is next to Bronwyn, and Rachael can just be seen hiding behind the fence, next to the damage caused when a previous branch was taken down.

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Endless summer 
Still no real rain. It has been a long hot summer, and most of the grass is now dead. The hills are straw yellow, and the European trees are dropping their leaves. The New Zealand species are all doing fine, thank you. Got the water slide going again this afternoon after another 14 barrow loads of sand on the lower section. It works well, but due to the interesting curves and camber, you end up going down a different route depending on your speed and weight. Which makes the ride a little more interesting, and a little painful if you reach the areas that aren't padded with sand.

Missed the lunar eclipse; it was on the wrong side of the planet. But I've had the telescope out and managed to see Saturn's rings for the first time. There's a bit of an art to using the telescope. Too much magnification and all you get are rainbow coloured blurs. And it's got four different knobs for adjusting the position. Which makes it tricky especially as the movement of the earth means you have to readjust the thing every 20 seconds or so. You can actually see the stars move if you don't get cramp squinting down the thing first. The best view so far has been the half moon, since the sunlight across the crater brings it out in quite spectacular 3D. No point looking at stars; they just come out as dots. But the Pleiadies and milky way aren't too bad. Saturn definitely has a round body, and a separate ring, but I can't see any more than that.

Rachael was sick on Wednesday night and missed a day at school. Two of our phone points went dead. And my car broke down, all on the same day. Fortunately they're all fixed now. Rachael bounced back within hours as usual. We had our electrician repair some rodent damage in the roof (and I disposed of a dead one) (a rodent, not an electrician). And the car has a new battery. It died at a petrol station, and the guy behind me gave me a jump start.

Two birthday parties on Saturday (plus the 14 barrowloads of sand), so I was pretty tired that night. We all made it to church (for once) for Sarah's dedication. And an afternoon tea for Bronswyn's brother Allan, who's also had a birthday. So I'm hoping for a quiet week at work.
Next weekend is the Kumeu agricultural show, and the brass band will be playing. I was volunteered to organise a tent from the winery next door, so I'll squeeze it into the car on Friday, take it to the grounds that night, and then arrive at 7am on Sunday to help put it up. I've also acquired the old fridge from the band hall, because the one at work is falling to bits. But I'm not sure if this one's any better - it's a prehistoric model with a butter conditioner and only one shelf (it's main purpose was storing beer). So I might end up taking it back again. Takes two people to move it, let alone fit it in the car.

Keep praying for Bronwyn, and if you're country is wet, please send us some rain.

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A much needed break 
Bronwyn's been feeling really low lately, and they booked her into respite care for a couple of days this week at short notice. It was in a place up north, on the top of a hill, overlooking the sea. It was really nice, apart from the long drive cross country on rather old roads. But it was well needed.

We're now down with our friends for the weekend, having a couple of quiet days with Sarah before going back home again. Rachael has been left with Bronwyn's parents; it's easier to cope with one child at once! We went to see the Hamilton gardens, which have been extensively built with different themed enclosures. They had a festival on this weekend, so there were quite a lot of people. So it was good to get home and sit down!

I hope this all gives Bronwyn a chance to get back on track, because otherwise she's been doing really well.

Had a problem on Friday. Our main webserver had crashed in the night, and had to be restarted manually. While we were investigating it, it crashed again, and again. Eventually we tracked it down to a high level of traffic from a certain address. We blocked that address, and all returned to normal.

On further investigation, it looks like a search engine got stuck in one of our websites, and was looping round and round and tipping it over the edge. Guess there'll be a few questions to answer on Monday morning!

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