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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A hard working weekend 
Spent a lot of Saturday piling more sand on the water slide, and then pinned down the plastic sheet, along with a second strip to cover the outside of the bend. The wind blew part of the sheet away, so I pinned it down again with a load of bricks. It's holding for now.

On Sunday morning there was a motocross rally on the next paddock, creating clouds of dust which fortunately drifted east, thus missing any nearby habitation. We had planned to get the slide going in the afternoon, and have a barbecue later. I invited everyone from work, and Rachael invited everyone from school. Only two turned up from work, and three of Rachael's friends (plus a couple of mums), so it wasn't as busy as we'd anticipated. But the slide worked well. Still needs yet more sand on the lower section.

Took my workmates on a tour of the farm, and ended up chasing a sheep that had ended up in the wrong paddock. And then another lot that had escaped down the drive. I was just about to sit down when I noticed the back gate was open. Decided to shut it. Just as well. By the time I got my shoes on there were a dozen sheep in the garden, and more following!

We're planning to have a quiet weekend down south next week, then Sarah's getting dedicated the weekend after that. The next weekend is the local agricultural show, where the band will be playing. We've also been invited to a friend's 5th birthday on that weekend, and to see his new baby sister. I suppose it's nice to have your life planned out, so long as it doesn't get too busy...

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High summer 
I hear they had 4 inches of snow in Coventry. And it's been 4F at one of Bronwyn's friends in the USA. Here, it's 33C, and we're in need of a bit of rain. Thunder yesterday, but the downpour didn't happen.

Got the water slide going on Tuesday. Bronwyn's dad dug it out last Sunday, and on Tuesday I lined it with sand and spread out the plastic sheet. It was quite an effort, and tricky emptying a wheelbarrow half way down a hill. I cut my leg when the wheel slipped away and the wheelbarrow leg sliced me. But it was mostly just the shock; after a couple of hours it was healing nicely. Quite a clean cut for a rusty bit of metal. Yes Mum, I'm up to date with the tetanus after getting skewered on a couple of nails (the other leg) a couple of years ago.

I still can't get used to public holidays not being on a Monday. I slept in on Monday, and was about to do the water slide then, when Bronwyn asked me if I was going into work. So I was a bit late, but there was hardly anybody there. Don't ask me why they had to sign the treaty on a Tuesday...

Got the water slide working, but Dad dug it out deliberately with an interesting kink part way down. Problem is, it makes it very hard to stop people flying high up the dirt bank and getting scraped on the dry clay. It'll need more plastic and a lot of sand before we can make it a more pleasurable experience. Don't tell OSH. (Office of Safety and Health)

Been a good harvest for hay. One hay shed is jam packed - room for just two short bales at the very top. The other still has space but we've got more hay to come in. It's probably the rain we had in early summer. Helped to bulk it up a bit. We're putting salt on all the bales now. Horses love it. The owners are really suspicious about anything new, so we generally don't tell them...

Had an invite back to Hamilton (where Parachute was held) and Bronwyn's had a rough week, so I thought we'd have a quiet weekend away again some time.

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