Down on the farm 
Bronwyn is off to Singapore for the week. My car is currently at the mechanics with a bad case of non-starting. I'm not feeling too good either.

I've hardly been able to start the car all week, and on Thursday I persuaded my father in law to tow it up over the hill to the mechanics. It's a bit nerve wracking to be towed by a five ton tractor with a fork lift sticking out the back. Managed to bump start the car on the way, but it's going to stay there until Monday at least so he can have a look at it, and then do the warrant of fitness on Monday. It's a company car now, so we're discussing with work as to whether it's cheaper to fix or buy a new one, depending on the tax implications.

At least Bronwyn's car is still moving, although that one will be away too on Monday and Tuesday for a new seatbelt and some make-it-work juice in the power steering.

Went to the doctors on Friday. Had swabs and a blood test, and two weeks of antibiotics. Feeling a bit better today, but still rather weak and tired. I feel like a war zone!

Bronwyn's left me plenty of food to do meals this week. Cheese burgers tonight, and some remaining Bolognese on Monday. Then I'll have to plan the rest of the week. I'll cope, but we could have some odd combinations.

She's going to be catching up with friends during the week, and then going out to one off the nearby islands to near where her friend's ashes were scattered, to add some flowers. I made some of my chocolate fudge last night to take with her. Hope there's some left by the time she arrives.

Arthur the sheep has found a spot in an old shed round the back. He's now officially back in the paddock, but tries to hobble back in if at all possible. The calf is now over with Claire, whose son has just hidden the feeding bottle somewhere in the house, or the cavernous garage, or the drive, or somewhere nearby. Claire found a poor weak little lamb this morning. It was unable to stand, so she took it inside. As far as we can tell, it was unable to stand because it had only just been born, and my father in law put it straight back with the sheep again! Claire's goats are also back at her house again, after following the sheep for a week. I'm glad; they can reach higher than a cow, eat everything, and they're not afraid of humans!

Kiwi make-it-last-longer example 101:
The gate from our garden to the front paddock. Its hinges failed long ago, and it was held up by faith and a length of mains cable. A few years ago, one of Bronwyn's brothers broke the post accidentally with a large digger, and it's currently held on by a couple of splinters. Just recently, Bronwyn's dad added the cross beam, and nailed it to the remains of the post to keep the gate shut. (Bronwyn's dad believes in his Gate Angels, who stand guard at open (and broken) gates and persuade the cows that there's really an impenetrable barrier there...)

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Bronwyn's car has a sticky steering wheel. Our mechanic thinks it's a sticky valve in the power steering. But he's found this stuff that is supposed to soften the valve, and thus make it work better. Another of his "make it last a bit longer" recipes. It's one thing I note about New Zealand - they try their hardest to get their money's worth out of something instead of throwing it away when it gets dirty. On the other hand, there's quite a few sheds and fences around here that could do with a bulldozer and complete rebuild!

Bronwyn's car also has a nasty dent from when someone hit it in a car park. (Fortunately they got in touch with us and will be sorting out their insurance.) And it's due for a service. So when Bronwyn's off in Singapore, the car is going to the mechanics for a day, then the panel beaters for the rest of the week. My car's booked in for a warrant on the Monday too. So I'll be shuttling cars around all week. Unfortunately I can only drive one at a time, and Bronwyn's parents are going to be in Australia. Maybe I could install a remote servo control and pilot them remotely.

My car really needs a new engine. It didn't start this morning and we had to try again at lunch time. Depends on whether it's worth a new engine or a new car...

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Waitangi, and the rest 
Bronwyn suprised me on our anniversary. She emailed the band and said I wouldn't be coming, then booked a meal in the city. It was well worth it. Thanks Bronny!

Bronwyn is going to Singapore at the end of the month to say goodbye to her friend who died recently. She'll have a chance to catch up with the others there too. Meanwhile, I'll have the girls for a week, but at least they'll be back at school.

Had an awesome time up at the youthwork conference in Waitangi. We had a formal welcome onto the marae. I somehow ended up standing in the front left corner of the group, with bare chested guys screaming and waving sharp looking paddles. Scary. Our leader had to pick up three sprigs of leaves from a guy with a spear, who then led us inside. The guys did a haka in the marae. Again, I'd somehow wound up on the front row and it was equally awesome. They slapped themselves and shouted as part of the dance, and when it finished they were all gasping for breath and had red marks on their chests and arms.

The organisers had managed to fix up a trip around the bay, so we got a historical tour followed by a trip out to the hole in the rock. A rainbow followed us all the way home, and some dolphins met us back at Waitangi.

Got up early on the last day for a prayer meeting on the treaty grounds, where the British first signed a treaty with the local Maori. As we watched the sun come up, gathered round the flagpole, there was another rainbow behind us. When we got back to the hotel the ground was sopping wet, but we'd stayed dry!

I've been busy trying to sort out funding applications for the youthwork at our local college, and pestering people to work out our budget and plans. I've got another couple of weeks before the deadline, but there's still plenty to sort out! Haven't been feeling too well either, and raided the medicine cupboard for our entire stock of spare antibiotics. I'm currently wrapped up in a blanket trying to keep warm.

It's been cold. I've been protecting a little mandarin tree with a curtain wrapped around chicken wire, a ponytail palm with a shopping bag and a flame tree in the drive with a double bedsheet. Don't know if the flame tree will make it, but it regrows every year anyway.

Still busy at work. We've got several weeks worth to do before we can start proper testing!

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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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