Cat food 
The brass band is gearing up for the Auckland contest next week. I've got a couple of bits I need to practice, and I've been driving everybody mad with them. But they're nearly there. The contest is at the far end of Auckland, and we're supposed to be there for 10am. This means leaving home at 9am. We won't be on stage until 1pm.

Smokey has been seen up by the barn, and I now have a paw print to prove it. His greatest weakness is food, so if I can find a cage trap, we might be able to retrieve him.

Went to a birthday party for my old boss last night. He's 41, but decided to celebrate his 40th a year late. He's a great connoisseur of all things edible, so I ended up rather full...

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More birthdays 
It was Rachael's birthday yesterday. Bronwyn bought a small chocolate cake, and we lit some candles, but we've already had the big party so she won't get a lot more. Bronwyn's parents are coming round tonight for yet another family meal (we seem to be getting a lot of birthdays with two parents, five children, and three grandchildren in the family so far).

Stormy has been spotted! Bronwyn's dad was out in the tractor up by the hay barn, and spotted him hiding up there. So we've been putting out food, and something has been eating it. Don't think it's our dog, but he does have a liking for cat food, or indeed any food apart from carrots and green vegetables. But the hay barn is a quarter mile away, and the dog doesn't wander far.

Our mousetraps disappeared after the party. I suspect one of the children might have moved them, or quietly disposed of them. Meanwhile, we've had mice in several rooms, and a loud squeaking under the sink. Bronwyn bought a couple more mousetraps, and we've caught three so far.

Don't know how much longer I'll stick it out at work. They're in financial problems, and I got paid nearly two weeks late. I feel a duty to the old boss, who's still there as a programmer, because he brought it up from nothing and paid a high price for it. But I don't like the way it's been run recently. We seem to have too many chiefs and not enough indians, and lurch from one crisis to another.

Bronwyn is still at her job. One staff member (who had been a bit of a problem) was suspended recently, and another has left. This makes Bronwyn effectively second in command. Things seem to have settled a bit, because she hasn't been talking of leaving for several weeks now.

Two of Bronwyn's brothers are also in difficulty. One hasn't been paid properly for months, and another has just been made redundant. Seems like everyone is having problems right now!

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Night Of The Washing Machine 
On Sunday night, both girls threw up twice, at evenly spaced intervals. Sarah first, and then Rachael. After the fourth event, there was enough washing for two loads, so Bronwyn put a load in at 3 am.

Since neither child was allowed anywhere on Monday, and since both parents were also suffering (from nasal and laryngeal gloop) we decided to take the whole day off. So we had a quiet day on Monday, apart from hanging out the washing...

I made it to the brass band rehearsal on Monday night, although not at my loudest. I also made it to the trombone rehearsal on Friday night. Due to the clash with the auxiliary band rehearsal, the trombones had to go to The Shed Of Eric instead. Fortunately it was warm and well lit, and we had a fun evening picking up tips, since the conductor used to be principal trombone in an English championship section band. His favourite trick is to blow very loud low notes with a mute in. Opens up the throat, apparently.

Had a mini party for Sarah on Wednesday when she turned three, and then a more involved party at the weekend, with some staying overnight. We're all rather tired and washed out, so the mess can stay where it is for the time being.

They have planted a garden in a patch of bush on the farm, where they're planning to bury baby Faith. Haven't seen it yet, but it sounds as if it was quite involved, with a number of people working on it.

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Great balls of fire 
The bonfire went well. I hardly needed to use any of the dry wood - it caught fire very quickly and helped to guide everyone up to the paddock. It was also sunny for two days, so it was cold and clear. Ideal bonfire weather. A bit muddy through the gate, however, and some fun for certain people who didn't take the approved route driving up the paddock.

Someone had a football, which was wrapped in chicken wire, then tightly wrapped with old rags and soaked in turpentine. Once lit, it produced a dramatic fireball which they proceeded to kick around the paddock. The idea is that the flame is fairly cool and doesn't burn anything. It didn't, but there were a couple of singed trousers. Just don't tell Dad...

We were supposed to be off visiting friends this weekend, but that fell through, so it looks like I have a free weekend. Free as in chance-to-catch-up-with-everything, not as in sofa-all-day...

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Moving on 
The funeral for baby Faith was quite moving, and the place was packed. There had been at least 400 photos taken of her in one short week, and many of them were shown at the funeral. Afterwards, as the car left with the tiny casket, we all let off helium balloons.

Bronwyn's parent's dog had to be put down recently too, and an old horse died out in the paddock. Our cat has not returned either, so there have been quite a few changes lately

Sarah has been, um, exploring boundaries. She has learnt to use scissors, and cut the straps on her shoes. Last Saturday, she got the sack of dog biscuits and tipped most of them out on the floor. She also chopped up some drinking straws on front of the TV. On Sunday, she opened a bean bag. Thousands of tiny polystyrene balls all over the spare room. Then she got the cat repellent, and squirted it everywhere. This week has been quiet by comparison, but we're careful not to let her near the felt tips...

The solo competition with the brass band went well, but took quite a while. I managed most of my piece, but fell over on the high and difficult bit in the middle. Next year I might try something a little easier!

They're planning the bonfire at our place again on Wednesday. The forecast says it'll be fine. But it's pretty wet out there at the moment!

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