Saying goodbye 
Baby Faith passed away on Tuesday afternoon. She lasted a week longer than expected, long enough for us to take a plaster cast of her foot which Bronwyn plans to paint and mount on a board. She went downhill quite rapidly over less than a day. The funeral is on Monday. There was a fishing contest on Saturday, and Stephen, Allan and Ross were planning to go, but Ross decided to cancel their boat under the circumstances. He's also had to put down his dog, Suzy, who had stopped eating completely and was very ill. At the fishing contest, they decided to donate one of the prizes to Stephen and his family out of sympathy.

We had the motorbike rally last weekend. Princess had to be chained up for the morning. But that's all over now, and all that's left are some bare patches on the hillside and a couple of earthworks on the flat!

We're not having much luck with cats at the moment. Haven't seen Smokey for about 5 days now. He's not the sort to wander long distances, but has disappeared occasionally for a day or two. He's possibly found a new owner that doesn't have a dog. Princess has got bolder in her middle age, and now chases horses, although she stops short at 4 feet and slinks away again.

Baby Cooper was rushed into hospital with breathing difficulties this week, but is back at home now. It was probably a lump of phlegm down her windpipe, but quick action by Nanna saved the day.

Just been collecting firewood for the youth group bonfire in a couple of weeks time. It's in the hay barn. Hopefully that will give us enough dry kindling so we can get the fire going regardless of what the weather's been!

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A beginning and an end 
Two babies were born this week, almost within a day of each other. Bronwyn's sister Claire had a boy named Cooper. Her husband Nigel is mad on cars, which probably influenced the name. Claire has spine problems, and was booked in for a caesarean, but the contractions started a month early. All went well.

Bronwyn's brother Stephen and his wife Dianne had another boy. They have known for some time that the baby only had two ventricles in his heart, and that the baby isn't likely to survive for very long. So the family went over for a baptism yesterday, and it's now just a matter of time. It must be a very emotional time for them both.

It rained this week. We were due to have the youth group over for a bonfire tonight, but everything is sopping wet, and there was supposed to be more rain today. So that's been postponed. The original idea was to get the water slide going, but sunset is around 6pm at the moment, so it was likely to be very dark and rather cold. Hopefully we can get the slide going next summer. Sarah is just about big enough for it now.

The central North Island had a lot of rain too, and they've gone from a drought to widespread flooding!

The Katikati concert band came to visit for the weekend. We had two people to stay overnight. There was a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, followed by a curry at a nearby restaurant.

After the curry, we found out that the price didn't include dessert. So the younger end of both bands (plus me) decided to go and buy some ice cream from a nearby shop. We then realised we couldn't eat it in the restaurant, so we bought some plastic teaspoons as well. Most of the tub was consumed on the side of the road, while waving gleefully at passers by.

The concert on Sunday was rather windy, and I had to keep one foot on the music stand to stop it falling over. There weren't too many people around either - they were all huddled in the cafe nearby. But overall it all went well (the rain started shortly *after* the concert), and the Katikati band are planning a return visit later in the year. The younger players have formed The Order of the Cold Tub, and have preserved their plastic teaspoons (and the tub) as a momento.

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The advert 
The advert has appeared on TV... or for a close up ... index.html

Note (in order, and in quick succession)

Our dining room, table and chairs.
My favourite coffee mug. Im tempted to auction it for charity
Our driveway
Our front door
The old Dexta tractor and a few shots on our front lawn
Walking out from the front lawn onto the front paddock
Some shots from the second location, then
My office, converted into a bedroom, and our single bed. Carpet and curtains tacked on for the day
The bay window on the lounge, alternating with some outside shots from the other location.

Weve still got an extra jumper and a sack of makeup which remain unclaimed.

Planted seven trees, and used 25kg of concrete to try and repair some of the 'stonework on the house. Need some fine mortar to smooth over some remaining holes.

Each weekend I've been over to water the trees - it's still very dry here. I have two hosepipes - one 15 metres and another 25. I managed to join them up, and siphon water out of the dam. It didn't quite reach the trees, but saved a lot of walking back and forth with a bucket...

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Free pine cones... 
On Wednesday, Rachael came home, and nobody was at home. This wouldn't have been so bad, if the cows hadn't finally broken down the fence, headed up the drive and mowed the garden. Somehow she managed to chase them out of the garden, shut the gate and then walked over the hill to Bronwyn's parents.

Then on Thursday, Smokey went up the tree by the garden gate. Bronwyn tried the ladder, but it wasn't very stable against the trunk. Smokey then decided to go further up the branch. Bronwyn phoned Dad, who brought round the big Ford with the digger attachment. I got a ride up in the digger bucket, but Smokey was clinging on far too tightly for me to wrench him off. So I pushed him back down the branch. He complied, then picked a different branch and went right to the top.

We left him there. Soon as it got dark, he was down again.

The boys are planning a motocross rally this weekend, and hired a 20 ton digger to do a bit of landscaping in the bottom paddock. They also removed the big old tree at the the bottom of our drive.

It's been there for about 40 years, and has never grown straight since one Christmas when Bronwyn's dad removed the top for a Christmas tree. Since then, most of the branches grew outwards. Last year the council lopped off a couple of branches after a truck clipped one of them as it hung over the road, heavy with pine cones. Since then, two more have fallen of their own accord, leaving just a couple left, which happened to be the only ones pointing upwards.

Rachael was upset; she has often played under that tree after getting off the school bus. Me; I gathered some large bags and started picking up pine cones. They do really well for starting fires. I gathered over a thousand, and there are probably a similar number scattered over the paddock and still attached to the branches.

As a result of this, and the earlier episode with the cows, we now have three paddocks and the driveway joined by open fences. As I type, one of Bronwyn's brothers is enjoying the extra space on his motorbike. Hope he doesn't hit a pine cone.

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The movie makers 
I forgot to mention. Princess got a hair cut last week. Bronwyn's parents got a dog-hairdresser in to do their dog, and offered to share costs with us. I didn't recognise her when she came back. She looked half the size, and if it wasn't for her obsessive compulsive desire to fetch sticks, I would have thought it was a different dog. She's a lot more lively now. Must have been quite a weight of fur!

A car came up the drive on Thursday. It stopped. I thought they had taken the wrong turn by mistake. Then a camera lens appeared out of the window, and flashed about four or five times. It was a location scout, looking for an old farmhouse.

They were filming an advertisement - an appeal for the Leukaemia and Blood foundation. They had a boy with leukaemia, plus his parents and friends. The story was that the friends arrive before dawn, and cut "To Ryan, love Dad" in the gorse on the hillside. They didn't have any actors - the boy really did have leukaemia.

They arrived at 6:15am, and were filming all day until 3pm. Then they set off to film the gorse cutting. There was the producer, the director, the cameraman, the technician, the trainee camerawoman, the guys hauling props and sunshades around, the make up women, the caterers and a few others that I didn't identify, Plus all the family and friends, and quite a few children. Rachael had a whale of a time entertaining them all.

It was a long day. They promised to send us a copy of the completed advert, which I'll make available to anyone who's interested! Since it was for charity, they couldn't pay us a lot, but it certainly covered a day's work and came with chocolates and a couple of bottles of wine.

Funny. I keep meaning to paint the house. Perhaps I won't. They actually wanted me to preserve the cobwebs for the window shot. It adds character to the house!

Did the covers for the sofa cushions. Made one, then used it as a template for the other. Except that I should have done it in reverse! The cushions both have a small projection that extends outwards to the end of the sofa. I had to carefully cut off one of them and sew it onto the other side. They look great now!

Smokey has had a couple of days absent without leave, but returned at night each time. I think he's settled here now. He's quieter, and more affectionate, but seems to eat more, so we'll have to make sure only one of us feeds him at once!

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