The dinner on Saturday night went down really well, and the dog appreciated all the leftovers. I didn't finish tidying Rachael's room yesterday, but at least most of the floor is clear, and it doesn't stink of cat pee *quite* as much. Bronwyn's parents are coming round tonight to finish off the leftovers.

Last Sunday there was an extra meeting at church. The organiser had decided at the last moment not to plan anything, and just to invite people to come forward. The result was awesome. People were pouring out all sorts of things, asking for prayer, and calling up their friends to pray for them. It finished about 40 minutes late. Our youth pastor was "really gutted" that he'd been off in Wellington and missed it. This week he was down to lead the normal Sunday meeting, and his topic was "What is church all about?". He finished off with some space for more people to come forward. And they did. People were in tears. One guy had nearly lost his daughter to meningitis that week. Some could hardly get words out; they were so choked up. I guess that's what church is really about. I think we had an important lesson this week, and I hope we don't forget it.

Off to Waitangi next week for the national conference of the youth work organisation that's helped us put a youth worker in the local college. We've got to sing some waiata, pray some karakia, do the haka, bring a koha, and don't forget the Maori dictionary. I'll bring a coat; it's been cold and wet lately!

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Next weekend, Bronwyn is organising a dinner for her parents' church home group. Yesterday she attacked the lounge, and cleared all the clothes off the bedroom floor. This morning she sanitised the toilet. I've done about 4 loads of washing so far, and sorted through all the clothes littering Rachael and Sarah's bedroom floors. I put on a gas mask this time, and for once my lungs aren't full of dust.

Wasn't well last week. I've been hot and cold, tired and brain dead. I found some antibiotics in the cupboard from when I had a similar infection, and they seem to have helped. I feel fine for once!

Arthur the arthritic sheep is still in the garden, but seems to be in better health. He's very garden friendly. He's been eating grass, and also the jasmine, which otherwise infests the garden rapidly. Don't think he's touched anything else. Eventually he'll be let out again, but probably in a separate paddock to keep him from being bullied by the other sheep.

My car isn't starting. Well, not without 20 minutes and some rather hot jump leads. Might be time for a new engine. Or car.

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The usual, but with added extras 
Washing machine broke down. It was happy up until the point where it was supposed to drain the tub and refill it. I knew this because it was flashing 'rinse' but appeared to be full of soapy water. After more detective work, I detected a definite click followed by a hum. Very reassuring, that. A click on it's own would be bad news for the pump. A hum without a click could mean a call to the fire brigade.

Eventually I opened it up, and pulled the drain pipe off the pump. I used my best analytical instrument available (I stuck my finger down the hole) and detected something metal rattling inside. With a cunning arrangement of a little mirror in one hand, a bent paper clip in the other and a torch balanced against my head I extracted a short length of bendy craft wire wrapped around the pump blades. The machine is happy now, which is good, because the cat has been peeing in Rachael's wardrobe and all the clothes need washing.

Sarah has done really well in her first week at school. She's quite happy to catch the bus home on her own and then walk up the drive. Rachael's been looking after her, and showing her round the school. They've got up to two years together before Rachael moves on. We haven't put Sarah on the bus TO school yet, since it's really early and she'd be hanging around waiting for the classroom to open. But Rachael's been showing her The Library (apparently a good place to hang out) so it might not be long before all I have to do is open the door and send them both walking down the drive!

Rachael hasn't been well this week, and I'm feeling rather run down (possibly after sniffing Rachael's clothes). However Bronwyn's foot has got a lot better (she suddenly discovered one night that she could wiggle her toes) and it seems that the nerves have begun to link up at last. She's been back at work doing two days last week.

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Nose blocked 
I'm over the jet lag. Now I've just got a cold!

People have been asking me if I've had a good holiday. I'm not sure I can describe it as that. I certainly didn't sit on the beach with a bucket and spade! Neither was it all plain sailing. It was hard to turn up at someone's funeral when your friend has just jumped off the twelfth floor that morning. It was hard making sense of all the things that happened and the things people said. But it was worthwhile.

Many thanks to everyone who put me up for the night, fed me, hugged me and mended my trousers. I'll get round to thanking you individually eventually. Thanks to Eng Guan and Priscilla for the night and the day I spent in Singapore - we've been playing a vastly simplified version of Mah Jongg (I'll introduce the rest of the rules in stages, once I've deciphered the instructions) and we're enjoying the biscuits and pineapple tarts.

I made it home in one piece, but was pretty shattered. I managed to work at home on Tuesday, and went into the office on Wednesday, but I went home early, and had Thursday off. The doctor couldn't pin it down to anything apart from a possible allergic reaction and lack of sleep. I managed to get some work done on Friday. This week my nose is on strike, but at least my head is clear.

Rachael's sleepover went smoothly, although the lounge needs a shovel and a large rubbish sack. Bronwyn organised a treasure hunt in the dark, slightly hampered by a significant downpour that afternoon. At least the girls appeared to appreciate it. Sarah spent the night with Nanna, and got some sleep at least.

It was Sarah's last day at Kindy today, so Bronwyn made a cake, and bought a box of Marlborough sauvignon that was on special. It's been the end of an era - Rachael used to go there for a couple of years before Rachael. Sarah starts school on Thursday. She's just beginning to learn to read, so hopefully she'll be OK.

It's wet. Very wet. Bronwyn's a bit concerned about one particular sheep that's got arthritis (we named him Arthur) and has hardly moved for a few days. She's going to try moving him tomorrow, with Dad's help.

Bronwyn's foot is a lot better, but still a long way to go. The nerves aren't all wired up right, and her toes don't move properly, so she's been given a lot of exercises to do to teach them how to move again. But she's out of crutches (mostly) and more or less ready to do some part time work. She's coped really well considering all that's happened, and has become quite independent while I've been away. She uses a hostess trolley to carry firewood from the back door to the fire, as well as everything else, including dinner.

We've now got a new bed (Bronwyn ditched the old one) and I carried home an old brass coal box which my parents bought when I was very small. We're using it for the paper and kindling by the fire. Took us ages to polish off all the dirt from the previous fireplace!

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Jet lag 
Took a while to recover this week. I didn't get a lot of sleep on the planes, and did quite a lot in Singapore. It's now Friday, and I'm still tired.

I haven't begun to think through all that's happened in the last month. Many thanks to all those of you who gave me a bed, a car, a hug and plenty besides. I'm going to need a while to think through everything. Probably won't get it this weekend - Rachael has her birthday sleepover, or perhaps stayupstupidlylate might be more accurate.

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