A nine year old girl 
We're a bit short for people to run the projector at church, so this week Rachael did it. I gave her a quick lesson on Thursday night, and got her set up this morning. She did really well. I made the announcement that with up to 100 adults there, the show was being run from the back by a nine year old girl. We've now got a couple of volunteers wanting to learn, which is going to make things a lot easier. Apparently two guitarists have come out of hibernation too, now that summer is on the way.

Thanks Dave, and others who were shocked by Bronwyn losing her job. She's been writing things down, in case we bother to take the matter further, but for now it's probably best to get some sense of normality and get her on the list for part time relief work. I'll keep you posted.

Warm and sunny here. I've decided to stop planting trees and instead look after the ones we've got, and collect seeds for next year. So far the pukekos (purple swamp hens) have only uprooted a couple. I'm working on the basis that I can plant more than they can uproot.

We lost two lambs this week and gained a sheep. It looks as if two lambs were abandoned; they were quite well grown but dehydrated, and they didn't last long. However, a muddy brown sheep appeared in the drive one day. I thought it had been rolling in something, but apparently it's meant to look like that. It had escaped from over the road. We'll keep it in out paddock until it's time to take the sheep to the yards. If it doesn't escape back first.

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Endings and beginnings 
Bronwyn got dismissed for walking out. They were quite adamant about it, and ignored the reasons for it. We had a neighbour support us, for which we're very grateful. I probably best not say too much at this stage. Bronwyn's work has now lost 5 people in 2 months, and perhaps it's all for the best.

Our old plum tree collapsed this week. It's been there for years, and had begun to sprout again and grow plums, but the trunk was completely rotten; it just took a strong breeze from the wrong direction.

I took a few cuttings, and some have showed signs of rooting. Bronwyn spent a lot of Saturday weeding the front of the house, and planting flowers. She also bought a tennis pole, and she and Rachael have had great fun attempting to hit each other with the ball as it swings round. Somehow I think Bronwyn seems freer than she has for a long time. She enjoyed it immensely.

We had Bronwyn's old friend Tyrone and his partner and baby visit this afternoon. I usually meet Tyrone once a year, at 3am, in the Parachute festival. The conversation doesn't last long, because there's usually a queue behind him. So it was great to catch up. Sarah obviously loved holding the baby.

I've been out tree planting as usual. 20 yesterday. But it's now quite warm and dry, so probably time to take it easy until it's time to collect seeds.

I'm on the roster twice at church next week. Either:
- I get someone else to man the computer
- I move the computer on stage next to the trombone
- I squeeze each song onto a single screen, and train Rachael to switch them
- I write the lot out on a flip chart and do it like the old daya

I think I might go for option 3. We've only got 2 people willing to run the computer, and people need to be aware that there's 120 adults sitting doing nothing, and a nine year old girl running the show at the back...

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MOTAT, bamboo, bananas and curry paste 
Rachael's friend Stephanie had a sleepover in the tent last night, and today we all went to the museum of transport and technology (MOTAT). It's quite a big place, and we didn't get to see all of it. Steam engines, the tram, the aeroplanes, the science play areas, the model railway, and numerous other exhibits. I think a lot of it was lost on the girls, but they had great fun on the assault course! Glad we missed most of the rain. The tent will have to wait outside for another day or two.

When I close my eyes, I see bamboo. There's a stand of it on the roadside, and I've been cutting stakes to mark the trees I planted last year. Put seventy in so far, and I keep finding more little trees struggling under the grass. There's a hosepipe out there somewhere too, but I'll have to resort to archaeological techniques in order to find it.

Bronwyn got shouted at for borrowing two eggs on Friday. They had some old bananas, and she wanted to make banana cake. Apparently she should have planned out the activity as part of the two weekly planning cycle. Except that nobody had planned for old bananas. She walked out in tears.

I had some sandwiches yesterday. I used some cheese, and some leftover bratwurst sausages. I looked about for something else and found the curry paste. So I had cheese, bratwurst and curry paste. Not too bad, except that the curry obviously has some sort of anaesthetic in it, and parts of my mouth have gone numb!

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The wanderers return 
The plane was early, but obviously midnight is rush hour at Auckland Airport. It was about 1am by the time we finally got home.

Sarah adjusted fairly quickly. Rachael still has issues getting up in the morning, but that's pretty normal. Bronwyn got a delayed reaction. She got jetlag about 5 days afterwards.

They've come back with a pile of photos, lots of cheap clothes, and a large credit card bill. I suspect the hotel gave them a double room, hence it cost twice as much! It'll take us a while to pay it off, but at least they all got back safely.

Rachael made it to the agricultural day at school 45 minutes late. She was supposed to make several things out of natural materials, so I raced round the garden with a few bags and piled in everything I could find. She got first prize for a decorated hat, and second for her flower arrangement in an old gumboot. Plus a Highly Commended (i.e. "thanks for turning up") for her miniature garden.

Rachael has been given the task of looking after Claire's son Cooper, in the hope she might learn responsibility. Well that's the plan, anyway. Just so long as Cooper doesn't get hold of the axe again...

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Terror of the lamb 
After Bronwyn and the girls left, Princess spent a couple of days at Claire's house. Now lambs have a bunting reflex; they head butt their mothers in the groin to stimulate the milk flow. Larry the Lamb gave Princess quite a pounding apparently, and she's spent the rest of the time over here.

The house is almost completely tidy. The lawn is mowed. I'm running out of things to do! I'm sure the girls will keep me occupied when they return however. They arrive home at 11:25pm tomorrow...

My big toe has been hurting lately. I showed it to Dave at work, who said immediately "That's Gout!". Gout is diet related, so I spent the day drinking water and missing coffee. However Doctor Kathy reckons it's just a ganglion cyst - a bubble of fluid from a ligament strain. She said she would thump it with a large bible for me, but it might scare the other patients. It should go down eventually.

Made a first attempt at baking bread last week. I think I didn't use enough yeast, because it came out quite small and heavy. But it still tasted good, so I'll try again at some point.

11 flaxes, four swamp cypresses, two birches a Kanuka and a Pin Oak. Ross has been planting a few himself too. The swamp is suddenly looking a lot less barren...

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