Trees and kittens 
My grandmother died this week, at 97. She had a minor stroke last week, but it sounds as if she had another, which was more serious. She had been in a lot of pain, and found it hard to do anything, so in a way it was a relief. My oldest memories of my grandparents were from when they had already retired. I can't remember either of them working, although Granddad was always out in the garden, and Grandma was always sewing or knitting something. She reckoned she made a thousand aprons to sell at the WI stall. She was always generous, and I would rarely leave with less than I arrived with!

Granddad is fine. He can't remember a lot, so he's happy. He can walk a little too, so Mum has been taking him into town. She considered bringing him to New Zealand, but my uncle wasn't sure if he'd make it!

Didn't mention that we got two new kittens last week. A ginger tom named Diamond and a grey queen named Sapphire. I think that's the right way round. The names don't bear any connection to the colouring! They have spent the week shut up in the kitchen, and have largely behaved themselves, so we've let them roam the house a little.

Bronwyn's mum gave me some money to buy trees (as I said, it's their land, and they promised the council to plant trees on it several years ago) so I made the most of the current bargain price and bought 104 trees. That's 100 standard native trees, and 4 assorted ones I bought as an experiment.

I've planted 30 so far. Bronwyn's dad Ross strengthened the fence this afternoon after a cow got through. Fortunately it didn't do a lot of damage, and must have only just got in.

We've had a friend to stay the night this weekend. We met her on beach mission six years ago, but just recently she's got back in touch. She was going to a 21st party of a friend of hers. The party was over on the east coast about 45 minutes drive away. Since I also knew this friend (he'd been on the same beach team) and since it was quite a journey, I crashed the party and stayed until our friend decided to go home. It was a really good party, mostly friends from church and school, with the obligatory embarassing stories. And there were three others from the beach team there, so we organised a quick Beach Mission Reunion photo too. Got back at 1am.

Got up early to take our friend Michelle to catch the bus. However, she'd booked the bus from the east coast, and we decided to pick it up as it stopped in the city later in the day. So, after a short visit to church, we went into the city. Arrived in good time, put Chelle on the bus and then had an interesting time exploring the new underground train station. Turned out we'd parked right on top of it!

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Spent all of yesterday (from 7am to 11:45pm) out with the brass band. Went in early to set up the display boards with all the photos. I also had some of the old uniforms on display, and quite a few photo frames, certificates and other bits and pieces. Got some of it done, then set off for the first Santa parade. This time, we were playing carols rather than marching, which was just as well, because it was a really hot day. After fighting my way back through the traffic, I finished setting up (and scoffed my packed lunch) just as people started to arrive for the reunion.

We had a total of five mini-concerts during the afternoon, and I was playing in three of them. Somehow I managed to keep my strength up after several litres of water, juice, coffee and anything else I could find. We then had the dinner (after the speeches) and Bronwyn and the girls came to stay for the evening. I was just about the last one to leave; there were two of us loading stuff back into the band room, bleary eyed, and not really bothering where it got put.

But it all went well, partly due to the preparations I had made in loading up the car the night before. I had just about everything imaginable, although I forgot the clothes pegs. Very important when your music is blowing in the wind. It was fascinating to hear the stories of how the band started 60 years ago. Right now, I'm enjoying a quiet day recovering.

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More trees 
A local nursery had a special offer for November - $1.50 per tree. So I've got another 30. Planted 10 so far. These are going into a larger block which was set aside when Bronwyn's dad sold land to her sister Claire. It's a sort of Brownie Point system - normally you can't subdivide land, unless you can also covenant a block to be returned to native bush. Since it's in the covenant that he plants native trees on it, I was planning to ask him for money to buy them. However, he's off in Australia for ten days, so I'll have to wait until he gets back.

Finished the rest of Rachael's bunk bed. We've spent more on paint than on buying the frame, and we had to get a mattress as well. We'll need a second mattress now, but for this weekend, we've used the one off the spare bed. To celebrate, Rachael's had her friend Stephanie round to stay.

Had a rather damp fireworks party, but Claire's house has a big deck with a roof so there was plenty of room to watch them getting soaked as they lit the bonfire. We let off most of the fireworks near the house.

There seems to have been more coverage of the US elections here than the New Zealand ones. It was almost an anti climax when we went down to the school to vote yesterday. It seems everyone just assumed that National would get in, and that was the end of the debate. So now John Key is Prime Minister. He used to be our next door neighbour. Or at least he owned a house next door to us - he normally lives in the city. He just had the house in order to be able to stand in our electorate. But we've met him on a number of occasions, and he likes to show his face around, so it'll be like having a local boy running the country. Whether Key or Obama will influence us most remains to be seen.

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A quiet week 
Moved the bunk bed into Rachael's room, Rachael's old bed into Sarah's room, Sarah's old bed into the spare room. Still have the bottom bunk to paint, but the shop has run out of purple.

Transplanted about 34 tree seedlings, which are now growing on my windowsill along with some little seedlings that I grew from the seed pods. So I've got about 55 trees on my windowsill, but none are more than four centimetres tall.

Spent most of Saturday sorting out photos of the brass band. We have the 60th reunion in two weeks, and they wanted to display the old photos. Spent the rest of Saturday attempting to show Rachael how to build a contour model of the farm using cardboard. She doesn't quite have a grasp of '1:12500', but she loves cutting out the cardboard layers.

Bronwyn has been shipping stuff out of work. She hasn't handed her notice in yet, but discovered that she wasn't the only one thinking of leaving!

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The Big Meeting 
A few weeks ago, Bronwyn had been at work, and was putting the children to bed. But another woman was off on a break, and so Bronwyn had to collect and prepare the children as well. It's a little difficult to get children to settle - if one starts playing, the others do too. Our daughter Sarah didn't want to go to sleep, and started screaming and scratching at Bronwyn. So Bronwyn tapped her on the hand.

The leader happened to be in the room at the time (and apparently chatting about something else and not helping). She saw the tap on the hand. So she charged Bronwyn with gross misconduct, and gave her a formal letter.

That weekend, several people looked through the letter, and the procedures, and agreed it was completely over the top. They had quoted the wrong procedures, and the statements conflicted. One friend phoned her son, who happened to be a lawyer. He wasn't able to take the case, so he phoned a friend of his who could.

At this point the company got really defensive, and threatened to contact the teacher's council, which could have ended Bronwyn's career. So it was well worth hiring the lawyer, even though it cost us quite a bit.

The meeting started with the company presenting case, in a manner which suggested they'd already made up their mind. But the lawyer stated the case quite plainly, and Bronwyn managed to stay calm as she described the incident. After a short break, the company people came back, and said that in the circumstances (i.e with the ambiguities in the statements) they were going to make it just a First Warning. So Bronwyn went back to work on Thursday.

It seems the leader of the centre wasn't too pleased, and hasn't said a lot to Bronwyn since! Bronwyn is planning her escape. I've told her to keep her head down...

Spent most of yesterday sanding and painting the bunk beds for Rachael. Got through four cans of purple paint. Will probably need two more. Decided not to do any painting today, so I've been over to Bronwyn's mum's to transplant some tree seedlings that have grown in her garden. I now have 38 trees growing on the windowsill, plus the seeds that I sowed a few weeks ago.

Bronwyn and the girls are currently off looking at some kittens. We've had a long saga with cats this year. Perhaps it might go more smoothly if they start young rather than rescued as strays!

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