Hard times 
For the last three months we haven't had Bronwyn earning anything. We've also had major dental bills, the motel, new glasses for Bronwyn after the handle broke off and several other things. Bronwyn has been doing really well as far as spending goes. We've got a second account that we're using to budget with, and she's hardly spent anything. Which is just as well because the washing machine is making a loud noise and my car spilled half the coolant on the ground yesterday. Still haven't paid the mechanic for fixing the brakes.

But she has a new job starting next week. It's at Old MacDonald's Farm, and she'll be doing three full days a week. Hopefully we'll have my car back by Monday otherwise I'll be stuck at home. I got paid yesterday. Well, supposedly. It takes at least a day and a half to orbit the banking system before finally reaching my account.

In the meantime I've had a quiet Saturday. Largely because I couldn't do a lot, since I've got no car and no money. I went out earlier to visit my trees. It helped me unwind a bit.

Giles, my colleague from work, got trapped in Thailand last year from the protests at the airport. He took a bus to Singapore and flew from there. It took three days, plus another two in Singapore. Now he's eight or nine thousand in debt, and not doing very well at repaying it. At least things aren't quite so bad for us.

Had dinner with a friend last night. He gave me a tour of the house, and pointed out all the places where he'd had to make major repairs after they'd basically dumped the house there in sections and glued it together again.

Rachael was out at a friend's birthday yesterday. They all went out for a meal, and then spent the night there. Last year they all went off to a theme park and went on a lot of the rides. Not sure I could match that, but at least Rachael hasn't asked us for a similar party...

Our third cat (Smokey) is still allegedly at large, and terrorising our current cat and everybody else's. So we're discussing ways of catching it. Bronwyn's dad says he knows a friend of a friend who recommends putting a fresh wild duck in the trap. So Bronwyn has asked Neil to go bag a duck. Ducks are tricky. It may be easier to go for one of the Canada geese that have set up residence on the big paddock. Don't know if they'd fit in the trap, though.

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A weekend away 
One of my old friends passed away this week. It all happened very quickly - she had been unwell for a while, then was unable to do anything one day, and went into hospital. She died a couple of days later of cancer. Everyone is in shock. She touched a lot of people through the sunday school, and kept in touch with numerous people even when the rest of the church had given up on them. She had an awful lot of faith in people.

We're away for a weekend; Bronwyn's old friend Natalie is getting married. Sarah is going to be a flower girl, and Rachael is a dog girl. Natalie is very keen on animals, and has become the South Island representative for Swedish Vallhunds. Not that there are an awful lot of Swedish Vallhunds in the south island, although one of her neigbours runs a husky sleigh team, and keeps the town awake all hours. Thankfully we're not leading a horse up the aisle.

The wedding is in the Ngatea Water Gardens. About 15 years ago, someone bought a paddock, and turned it into a garden. It's full of all sorts of odd things. The dovecote has "For rent" signs on it. There are fake crocodiles floating in the water, and a sign pointing straight down saying "Buried village - 10 metres". It's officially closed for the weekend, but they're opening it up for the wedding.

Bronwyn now has a new denture with four teeth on it, and several fillings. It cost us quite a bit, but hopefully she won't need any more work for a while. Meanwhile she went for a cholesterol test, and they said her blood sugar was too high, so she had to go in for more tests last Friday!

Bronwyn's been for another job interview. This is at a creche in a tourist attraction. It's called "Old MacDonald's Farm". It's about 25 minutes drive, but along the back roads so there shouldn't be a lot of traffic. No news on that, or the original agency job, but it takes weeks to get a police check here so anything could happen.

Monday. Three limp helium balloons are on the floor, and it's taken us a while to get up. My comment about the horse very nearly happenned. We were on the road to Ngatea. It's typical of many of the roads in the Huaraki Plains - dead straight, flat as a pancake, and 6.7km long. Suddenly Bronwyn slowed down. There was a horse on the road. With no rider. And another on the side. We pulled into the nearest house, but nobody was in. WE then tried a farm house. Nobody there either. But the cows were in the milking shed. So off Bronwyn goes, and tracks down a woman in the shed. She makes some comment about "#^@?! husband leaving the gate open" and phones her son. We then head out to the other farm on the far side of the road, and apprehended the horses. They obviously knew what they were doing, because one had made his way straight for a bale of hay.

Meanwhile. we set off for the wedding. Natalie was late. Over an hour. There is a one lane bridge that we all had to cross, and half of Auckland was heading home on it. From then on it all went smoothly. The dog was very well behaved, and Rachael and Sarah were the star attraction on the dance floor. It was past 10pm by the time we finally went home.

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A brief respite 
It's going to be a busy two months. Two contests, two concerts, three times running the computer at church and twice playing trombone. But next week we're off to a wedding; one of Bronwyn's old friends from Way Back. So we'll be away for the next weekend. May is going to be so quiet, but I'm sure I'll find something to do.

Rachael and Sarah are going to be flower girls. Well, actually Rachael is a dog-girl, because Natalie wanted to include one of her dogs in the wedding. She's quite into animals, and worked as a vet nurse for a time. I just hope Rachael's dress survives! Sarah's dress used to be Rachael's at Claire's wedding. The two of them look really good with their matching sashes.

We've had more rain, and it's now warm and sunny again. So the dam is overflowing (or at least up to the drainage pipe) and the paddocks are green again. Haven't seen my trees for a while, but my little collection at home is slowly growing.

Bronwyn is still looking for work, but has a couple of offers in the pipeline. I'm really busy at work. I think it's the tablets my product manager is taking. He keeps signing us up for more projects from the Ministry of Education, which is great, but I generally end up doing the work!

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Even wetter 
We had about 5cm of rain this week. The tank is full, the dam has reached the overflow pipe and the fields are green. The trees are doing well, along with the others in various stages from seeds upwards.

Had a full weekend in Katikati. It's off to the south east, about 100 miles away. We had a rehearsal on Saturday, a meal out in the evening, and the concert on Sunday. The concert was at an old homestead, where they were holding an open day. So everyone was in period costume (well, anything old, anyway) and we had a number of vintage cars and a display of old wedding dresses. A man arrived, in a frilly dress and a large hat covered in flowers. It took me a long time to work out he was actually male. He introduced the parade of people in wedding dresses (there must have been at least 30).

Both bands played quite a bit, and we had plenty of fun. I need some sleep. Meanwhile, Bronwyn struggled alone with the girls, and is very glad to see me home again. Sarah is getting quite a handful, and regularly gets Rachael into trouble.

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We've had rain at last. About 4cm, and more is on the way. I've been watching the MetService website with great interest. We had a series of high pressures standing guard over the country for several weeks. Then one of them let its guard down, and a herd of low pressures piled in from the north west. Another high pressure made a desperate attempt to regain posession, but was bulldozed by a second low pressure that charged right through it. So much rain fell on Friday that a great cloud rose up from the central plains and came back to Auckland. So we had more rain on Saturday. That cloud is still heading north west, and has teamed up with another low pressure, planning to return for a third go on Monday. Once that lot goes through, there's another one behind it ready for the weekend. It's going to be a wet start to February, but the grass is happy.

It's going to be a busy few weeks for me too. I'm off with the band to return a visit to the Katikati Concert Band next weekend (raining or not). I'm on the church roster to play twice and do the computer three times. Bronwyn's friend Natalie is getting married in March, and the band is playing at two contests and the agricultural show. And that's just as far as April. Hopefully it should calm down after that.

Bronwyn is still awaiting her police check for the agency job, and has been applying to a couple of other places too. We're rather short of money this month, so we need to earn more or spend less!

Sarah has adopted Bronwyn's nighdress, and has sucked it to bits. For valentine's day I bought Bron a couple of new ones. Sarah isn't allowed to suck those...

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