Cars 
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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Church? 
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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Cleaning 
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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