Oswald the Mostly White Rabbit. And other Christmas tales. 
We decided that Oswald needed a bit more space. The rather expensive hutch from Animates turned out to be more in keeping with a large guinea pig. So we rigged up some chicken wire and trellis, and gave him a patch by the water tank.

However, Oswald is quite good at escaping, and made it to freedom several times. He never goes far though. He seems to like hanging out under the house, which has plenty opportunities to hide away well out of reach of anything larger than a rabbit. We wouldn't seem him for a couple of days, and then he'd quietly appear around the back somewhere. So he's back in the hutch for now, and we have extra chicken wire and the promise of some timber for when we get time to build a proper run.

Christmas is in full swing. It ends on the 24th December. The 25th will be a quiet dinner followed by an empty space. We have a third dinner tonight with the whole family around. Meanwhile, I've done two hours on trombone this morning, another playout tonight and I'm supposed to turn up to a barbecue this afternoon. I'll have to miss something. I'm playing carols every day until Wednesday...

We've got (another) Chinese girl staying with us for a few weeks (i.e. over Christmas and New Year). Yuwen is from Shanghai, and thinks our hot weather is lovely and cool. And the sky is blue, and you can drink rainwater. She's enjoying it immensely already!

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Escapology and miracles 
It's been a pretty full on couple of weeks. Three Christmas parades and a concert, plus quite a few other events in the run up to Christmas. Plenty more to follow...

Last week was the parade in central Auckland. I borrowed Bronwyn's GPS and set it to go to the one car park that was both free (for the afternoon) and accessible for a quick getaway. The GPS took me to the wrong side of the parade of course, and all the roads were blocked. So I had a fun time disobeying orders while I worked my way around. Afterwards, I made may way back to the car park on foot. However, there were now so many people that it was impossible to even cross the road. I worked my way along until I found a vaguely less populated stretch. I casually mentioned to someone that I was about to attempt to escape. Two other guys immediately said "We'll follow you!". After breaking free, they said they were tourists, and had just decided to check out the city centre and got trapped! They wanted to follow me because I "had a trombone and looked more official!".

Bronwyn's been going to a Tuesday night meeting at the church, where they've been practising prayer and prophesy. It was the last meeting for the year a week and a half ago. One of the leaders said he thought there was someone with hip problems. Bronwyn said she actually had one leg slightly shorter than the other. They prayed for her, and it balanced out and she's been able to walk without feeling out of balance. Then a girl was also prayed for. Her leg grew about 3 centimetres. It was apparently quite freaky. Her dad was standing there gasping. Then later in the week their other daughter went into hospital with an infected knee. The first scan showed a sac of fluid, so they were going to operate. They did one more scan and the fluid had completely gone. No operation needed. She was running around playing touch rugby on Saturday. Think our church is finally going places!

It's been hot, but apparently it's going to rain this week. I picked our first broad bean today. Rachael loves beans. She opened it up and put it down in horror because it was... furry inside... I hope I can find a way to make them look appealing; we've got a lot in the garden and they're growing well!

Christmas decorations beginning to go up. Bronwyn bought two pine Christmas trees, so we have one inside and one outside...

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Exploding car and smoking table. 
The car got us all the way home from Tutukaka. Then Bronwyn took Rachael in to school. While driving through Swanson, the car suddenly disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Bronwyn and Rachael leap out and run away. Five blokes leap out of the truck behind with fire extinguishers. Bronwyn phones the fire brigade. But it was only steam. One of the pipes on the radiator had perished and blown, and the pressurised system had dropped several gallons of very hot water on the road.

Fortunately nothing else had been damaged, so our mechanic fitted a new pipe. Same thing happened on Tuesday. A different pipe. So this time the car stayed at the mechanics overnight while they checked all the other pipes and replaced a few more. All good now, touch wood (or maybe rubber?)

Finally got round to incorporating Nick's trombone illuminations into my table. That may seem an odd sentence to some. Nick has a history of decorating trombones for carnival parades. It started with a few simple flashes. Now it's micro controllers and multi colour LEDs. He sent me an old version to play with. Some years ago, I took an old server from work, removed all the covers and then built it into a table with a glass top. It now has three 12 watt green LEDs underneath, plus my own lights on top and Nick's lights as well. Seems to draw a lot of power, but quite impressive. Just don't leave it on too long or it might start smoking...

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Dave and Sarah's wedding 
Dave is my old boss, now a business partner, joint shareholder, fellow self employed, something like that. Anyway, yesterday, he got married to Sarah, who started off as a lodger several years ago and obviously had some effect on him!

Saturday morning went like clockwork. Google told us it would take 2 hours 16 minutes to get to Tutukaka for the wedding. We had to drop off the cat to the cattery. We also had to get a warrant for Bronwyn's car, because it expired yesterday! The cattery opened at 8:30. The mechanic opened at 9. He did all the checks in record time and Bronwyn had enough time to get some lunch for later, before returning to bundle us in the car for 9:30. All went well until Whangarei, when the GPS decided to take us on the scenic route. It also became obvious that 2 hours 45 minutes was more accurate for the trip! After a few phone calls, everything was sorted, and we had enough time to settle in the motel at Ngunguru (officially pronounced ŋu ŋu ru which our Australian GPS pronounced n-gun-geree) before getting picked up to go to the wedding.

There was quite a sizeable band of rain heading for the site, but somehow it got delayed until late in the evening and everything went off smoothly. I spent a while playing Braddock Bingo. Dave has three brothers and two sisters, all married with children. I got all the brothers and sisters, the parents, and a couple of children. Need to try harder next time...



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A packed programme 
It's been a busy weekend. On Friday Sarah had her group agricultural day, then Rachael had a swimming lesson up in Silverdale at 5pm, Sarah had a dress rehearsal at 5:45pm in Auckland Girls, and I had brass band in Kumeu at 7:30. We ditched the rehearsal. On Saturday, Sarah had swimming at 10am, a drama performance at 12:45 and we all had a barbecue and fireworks from 5pm onwards. Today, I had to turn up early to do trombone in church, and Rachael was apparently down to girl the computer. Turns out she wasn't needed, so she went home to finish her English revision. We're all a bit tired.

The group agricultural day was for all the students who got first, second or third in the school days for calf, goat and lamb. Which was just about everybody, due to the number of different prizes. Sarah came home with a couple more ribbons for wool quality and a team one for best group of lambs. Tom did well, but so did all the others! Now he's out in the paddock, minus the collar. We only have a small amount of milk powder left, so he's going to be weaned soon!

Christmas has already started. We've been practising the Christmas items for three weeks at the band now...

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