Tuesday, December 8, 2009


One of the things about becoming a beekeeper is that you have to register, and included in that process is describing where the hive is: you are required to give a verbal description AND give map coordinates. The form referred me to a website but that didn't work (no such page, it said), or failing that it suggested using a GPS device. We don't have one of those, so borrowed noe from Mac's sister. In the event, we discovered hers wasn't sufficiently sophisticated to give coordinates, but it did help me navigate my way to a friend's place in Auckland.

On the way home from Pat's place after collecting the device, we took the short cut, and discovered that the GPS device did not really approve of short cuts that take you over gravel roads!


Leaving the bush line of Mt Pirongia
Bouncing down the country driveway

*Find the nearest road*

Coming home the short way

*Perform a u-turn when possible*

Heading west down Whittaker Road

*Turn right into Limeworks Loop Road*

Turning left into Filliary Road

*Perform a u-turn when possible
Turn left into Limeworks Loop Road*

Biting into a crisp out-of-season apple,
spitting out the sticky label

*Perform a u-turn when possible*

Milky Way in the black sky
like a jarful of glitter sprinkled
across black sugar paper
by a joyous two year old

*Perform a u-turn when possible*

Over the black hills
and past the quarry
Past the point of no return
(though really I could if I so chose)

*Perform a u-turn wh.........
Continue straight ahead for 7.8 kilometres*

I’ll not perform a u-turn for u.
I’ll not go straight ahead
for a defined distance.

I’ll take the short-cut
or the long cut
the twisty gravel road
or the straight state highway

I’ll take the walkway
or cut my own path
through the tangled bush

Monday, December 7, 2009


My enthusiasm for bees and beekeeping didn't wane, despite the thought that I might not get any of my own until next year. There was an introductory talk at Whale Bay, Raglan, and Mac and I went along. Barbara then showed us her hive.

I joined the Waikato Domestic Beekeepers Association, and when I heard Barbara say that she was planning on putting a new queen cell (from Lorimers) into her hive, I asked if I could go over and watch, and help if there was anything I was able to do. That was the start of us becoming 'bee buddies'.

So, I thought I may not get bees until next year, but on 11 November, on my way back from Auckland I got a text asking me to be in Dinsdale at 7.30pm to collect a swarm Peter (from the Beekeepers Association) had caught for me. Driving as fast as I could without being (too) illegal, I made it there only ten minutes late. We put the hive, the entrance blocked up with a piece of wood, in the boot and home I went. Mac helped me lift the hive over the fence then stood well back and took photos, while I removed the piece of wood, so that the bees could get out.

Then I waited......

......................................and waited

...........................................................for three and a half weeks which was torturous.

I could see bees going in and out, some carrying pollen, but had no idea what was happening inside the hive.

Then last Sunday, after I went to Barbara's and helped her check her hive, she came over and we took a first look inside my hive. The bees had been very busy.

Peter had told me to put just 9 frames in the hive when I took it to him, and he also told me to leave the hive to settle down for four weeks: I did exactly that, but I should have put another frame in, or at least opened it when I got home and spaced the frames evenly, I think, because.......

when we finally looked, there were big lumps of comb where there shouldn't have been.

But there was also lots of brood, honey and pollen where it should be! Yay!

We removed the worst bits of inappropriately placed comb and discarded it.

Then it was time to put the lid back on and leave them in peace. They had been really calm, in spite of me not managing to keep the smoker going, but we didn't want to risk disturbing them any more.

Oh! I had better than Mac for the photography - and the neighbour's yearlings for keeping an eye on the proceedings:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spending Time with Bees and Women

Well, it looks as though I may not be able to acquire any honey bees for my hive until next year, so we will have to make do with native bees and bumble bees. We do have a huge number of bumbles, and at the moment they are enjoying the flowering multiplying onions:

However, today I enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours helping and learning from a Raglan beekeeper, who was splitting her hive, using a purchased queen cell. While at the Hamilton bee club meeting on Thursday night, I heard her say that she planned to do this today, and so I plucked up courage and asked if I could help / observe. Amazing though it may seem to those who know me as a loud, in your face sort of person, I do in fact find it incredibly difficult to talk to people in situations where I know few others. For the past 28 years I have made myself talk to strangers (and do all kinds of things I would not have otherwise done) for the sake of my children. Now my 'baby' has gone (he went flatting in Hamilton two weeks ago) and I realise that if I do not wish to spend my days doing mundane chores in boring silence, I have to learn to talk to strangers for my own benefit.

So, I asked B if I could help her, and she agreed. I had a wonderful morning. I used the smoker to calm the bees. I helped lift boxes off and on to the hive. She showed me where the brood was, the honey, the pollen, and pointed out the different types of bees. And I wasn't scared for a moment - I didn't even think of being scared until afterwards when B commented on how calm I'd been! We agreed that I will go back and help when she is doing her bees, which will be a great way to learn, and whenever I do get my own bees, I will feel way more comfortable.

Afterwards we went into her house for a cup of tea, and the first thing I saw was a book of poetry - my favourite book of my favourite kiwi poet! The Art of Walking Upright by Glen Colquhoun.

First bees brought an old friend back into my life decades after losing touch, and now the bees have brought another interesting woman into my life. Perhaps there really might be life after children.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Week one of the next stage

Well, it is a week since Jeff moved out of our home and I remain bereft. Loading his belongings into the van, and onto the trailer was horrible; unloading them was worse. Jeff, Simon and Rebecca were oozing excitement at as they claimed their own space; Mac and I didn't stay to help beyond getting Jeff's stuff in place. We headed off to do a couple of chores, then to the new cafe at Hamilton Lake for lunch, and eventually home to our empty house.

We were both feeling very sad: not just that Jeff was gone, but because suddenly we both had to face up to the fact that a part of our life - perhaps the very best part - was at an end. I thought it would be just me that felt like that, but it is Mac too. Eventually I went and dusted and swept and mopped until Jeff's room was tidy and clean in what seems a most unnatural way. I keep that door closed now too, along with Simon's and Steven's doors. It's too hard to pass by and glance in at their empty rooms.

I know that many of my friends have far worse things happening in their lives, yet this emptiness and and loss of meaning and purpose is so hard. I have spent twenty nine years mothering my boys into independence and to venture forth into the world as young adults - and damn! it appears I have succeeded! Part of me is glad and proud that they have all made it, and that's the part of me that I need to encourage, I guess.

So, to keep myself busy in ways that don't allow me to think too much has been important this week. On Monday, as usual, I worked at Trade Aid for a few hours. Mac had the day off to do some work on our house, so I wasn't alone when I got home.

On Tuesday night I met Mac after work and we ate out at an Indian restaurant (mmmmmm mango lassi) before going to a talk at the university about climate change and its implications for the way we live.

On Wednesday I visited a friend and played Connect Five and Cluedo with her and hertwo beautiful children - that was so much fun, I miss our homeschool game playing days so much - before going and getting a hair cut.

On Thursday I helped a friend move her husband out of their house and into a flat. Despite the sadness, it was good for me to spend time with friends, and keep busy. Afterwards I came home and mowed grass that has not been mowed all winter - some was nearly half a meter long! So the next thing was a long soak in the bath with lavender oil, Trade Aid chocolate and a book.

Friday - I was home alone all day until Mac got home.

It's not really much different from how I could have described most weeks this year, with Jeff away most days at university: it's the knowledge that he won't be home later that makes each day so empty.

But last night Steve and Heidi came to stay and we watched a movie. Heidi left about 2pm today, and I took Steve into Hamilton to meet up with her again after dinner. This morning Simon came out to work on his car with Mac, and stayed into the evening a while. I was so lovely to have them here, especially today, this first weekend after our youngest son moved out. It helped me realise that although Jeff's departure was the end of a part of our lives, it is not the end of it all. I have to learn to relish these happy moments, and to use the memories and the anticipation to get me through the other times.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A life of subtraction

I'm feeling a mixture of depression and panic attacks at the moment. My youngest son, Jeff, is moving out of home on Saturday - going flatting in Hamilton (40 mins away, just down the road from university) with his next oldest brother, Simon. I will still see him every week, but it won't be the same. I will miss him so much - his laughter, the discussions about literature, humour, philosophy, you name it. So many things that I don't have in common with my husband, though of course, Mac and I have other shared interests.

It makes me regret my unschooling days in some ways: living this way has enabled me to become good friends with my sons, but they, of course, have to move on and make new friends and new lives. They seem to add and add to their lives, while mine seems to have become a life of subtraction.

I'm trying hard to add to my life, but it feels like things are just slipping away from me, in the same sad, sweet way that, in mid summer on Ngarunui Beach, sparkling black sand slithers through my fingers as I sit with the sun warming my back after an hour reveling in the surf. Speaking of which - I will no longer have anyone to go swimming with more than very occasionally.

The best memory I have of my childhood was of traveling in a train to Wellington. I must have been very little, because obviously I did not have a seat of my own. I remember my father passing me to my mother to have a turn to hold me. I remember snuggling down on her lap and wishing that I could stay on the train forever, so that I could stay feeling loved and cuddled always. I don't remember being cuddled on any other occasion. I know my mother loved babies, so I hope it is my memory that is lacking, rather than the relationship with my mother, but I am sure that hugs and cuddles were not part of my later childhood.

One of the things I have loved about motherhood is the physical contact I have had with my sons. Cuddling babies, pouring more love than I had dreamed I could possibly give into them was even better than being loved. My boys have never gone through a stage of refusing to give me a hug, even in public. What I hadn't realised was that the physical affection I gave them, knowing how much I wanted and missed that from my mother, was, in fact, also filling the hollow place left over from my childhood.

I'm trying not to think of the fact that there will no longer be anyone to give me a hug in the morning and another at night.

I am trying to add to my life.

I have so many things I want to do more of - gardening, book making, and maybe one day I will be able to write poetry again, though at the moment the muse has fled.

Mac and I have enroled in a night class together, which is less of a class than an series of presentations about political / economic / ethical issues - not just because it sounds interesting, but also as something we can do together.

Last term I did a course in beekeeping, and now I am all set up and ready - I just need to find som bees. That may be difficult as I was told by a man who sells nucs that he has had more people looking for bees this year than ever before. It is a scary challenge, but one that will introduce something new to my life.

Bees have already brought something new - or perhaps old - renewed - into my life in the form of the woman who took the night class. She turned out to be M, who I had worked with in 1972, in the Post Office Savings Bank. We had been friends back then, but our lives took different paths and we lost touch decades ago. Now this amazing, strong, alive woman is back in my life and inspiring me with all she has done and become, despite having many bad things thrown at her over the years. She too is soon to have her youngest child leave home, so after all these years our lives have drifted back together.

And I think this may be part of the answer: strengthening the connections and relationships with Mac and with other friends, and perhaps even establishing a few new friendships.

But oh, how I will miss the presence of youth (I already do, with Jeff being pretty independent the last couple of years, and the others having also been gone for years) and the physical, immediate presence of my boys.

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Kaiapoi and Back

Well, our holiday was wonderful! I enjoyed our time with friends, and our time on our own, just the two of us was great. I did wonder for a little while, why we were going away - our place looked so beautiful when we got up on Fathers' Day Sunday to leave:

But we did go - and had brilliant sunshine the whole time, until the last day when we were driving home - and even then, we only got five minutes rain, quite a lot of cloud but also some sun. On the way down to Wellington we could see not just the central North Island mountains, but also my favourite, Mt Taranaki. (Didn't get a photo of that though.)

In Wellington we stayed two nights in a Railway Welfare Society apartment even though it is 22 years since Mac worked for NZR. It was great being in the centre of town, so we could walk everywhere - but I don't like apartments; they make me feel very claustrophobic.

We had a day in Wellington when we went to Te Papa (Mac took the camera and took dozens of photos of the Formula One racing cars that I didn't even go and see), then the next day we were off on the ferry.

It was interesting to see the wind farm as we left Wellington harbour - soon we will have one on the hills by our place. Fortunately, I think they are lovely!

No matter how many times I enter Queen Charlotte Sounds, I can't imagine that I could ever tire of the sight.

On our way to Kaikoura we saw some seals - and I managed to take photos of them without poking myself in the eye like last time we went south - I ended up in A&E and had to have eye drops and very dark, huge coverall glasses for a couple of weeks that time!

Last time we were at Kaikoura we were tenting and it was cold and raining - in January. This time it was early September, and the weather was perfect! Again, we stayed in a Welfare place - a three bedroom, older house, very comfortable, just across the road from the water and a pub, and looking out at the mountains. This was the view from the sitting room window.

The shags on the rocks across the road:

The house we stayed in:

Sunrise: worth getting up for! This is what I looked at from bed!

I don't get up at sunrise just for sunrise itself though - we were off whale watching.

We saw five whales. And it was just as awesome as last time.

And a Wandering Albatross:

In the afternoon we went for a walk along the waterfront - I loved the rocks, they were amazing!

And then when we got back, it was a few drinks at the pub before we stumbled home across the road.

The next day we headed off for Christchurch - and saw these amazing Cathedral Cliffs on the way.

The first morning we were there, we dropped Malcolm and his son Hamish way up river somewhere and then went back to their place and waited for them to make their way back down again.

In the afternoon we went fro a drive to Taylor's Mistake (so called because of the ship's captain who ran aground, mistaking this small bay for Lyttleton Harbour.) There were lots of amazing old baches tucked into the cliff faces.

Malcolm and Mac sitting in the ruins of an old house.

On Sunday night we finally caught up with James, who had been away most of the time we were down. It was so good to see him, and where he lives now, as with Malcolm and Vicky - I have a need to be able to visualize people in their places.

Then on Monday it was back to Picton. We got there early, and the ferry was delayed so we were able to have a good look around for the first time - in there past we've just been there for the ferry.

We got to Jenny's house and collected the key from it's hiding place at the neighbours - but nobody told us about the alarm. I'm not sure they are worth installing, as nobody called the cops, despite the awful noise. I had to run down the road to the neighbours and then they had to hunt out the bit of paper with the alarm number on, and in the mean time poor Mac was being deafened and wondering if he was going to be arrested! But it wasn't long before were were in bed asleep. In the morning I walked around and took lots of photos of Jenny's gorgeous garden to make her homesick.

And then we drove and drove and drove and came home to this:

In the (approximate) words of the story about a knight that I used to read to my sons when they were little: "It's a fine thing to go adventuring, but it's great to come home."

Friday, September 4, 2009


It's been a strange year (well, longer than that really) as I have tried to get accustomed to the fact that I am no longer who I was for the past two plus decades. From when G was born in April 1981, I defined myself as a SAHM (stay at home mother), and then as a homeschooling SAHM. And now I'm not that anymore.

I have found it so hard to adjust to this. I am too old to 'retrain' - by the time I qualified at anything I would be 60. There are a million things to do here at home on our land, but I just can't seem to get organised. I have always done my 'stuff' around the day to day needs of my children, and somehow I can't seem to find a new framework on which to build.

There is also this lost feeling, and a tendency to withdraw into the boring chores and become duller and duller. But I know I have to step out of my comfort zone or I will fall into decrepit old age very quickly.

So........ I have set up an online place to sell my books - it is terrifying even though I know in my head that no one is going to tell me, 'this stuff is crap - what do you think you are doing putting it out there?'. I have no idea how much is actually sold on Felt, but that is my starting point.

And........ even more terrifying, I have been doing a night class on beekeeping, and last week when J and I went to Auckland to see S for his 26th birthday, I bought a whole bunch of equipment to get started with a beehive! When I get back from our holiday south, I 'just' have to put the kitset hive together, paint it, and then get a nucleus and I'll be up and running. It's exciting, but very scary.

This holiday......... longest holiday without kids ever. Earlier this year we had our first holiday without kids in the 28 years since G was born, but we stayed with Mac's sister. This will be the first holiday in that time without family of any kind. And five nights out of nine will be just Mac and me. It should be lovely, but there's a nervous little part of me worries that we haven't spent this amount of time alone without house / land work to do for over 28 years - what if he finally realises what a terrible mistake he made getting lumbered with me? Mind you if he hasn't got that figured out after nearly 40 years, he's probably not going to now, right? (Our first date was on 4th December 1979.)

I've been waking in the night hot flushing and hardly able to breathe from panic attacks lately, thinking about all these things, but I know I just have to keep pushing myself forward. There's living or there's dying, and having decided that suicide is not the way for me to die, I need to make life as interesting and fun as I can - even if that is scary to the point of panic!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Creating and Giving

I love creating things, and there are times when I am feeling down that I think that I would feel better if I could sell the things I make: that strangers finding my creations worth paying for would somehow make me a more worthwhile person. Well, I am moving towards trying to sell some of my books, but more of that in a week or two.

Most of the time though, I find making things for people I care about the most enjoyable. I love making things for a specific person who I know - personalizing them. It is as if, by making something while thinking of that special person, I am giving, not just a present that they will (hopefully) value, but actually giving them a little bit of me.

Recently I have made a gluten-free birthday cake

and a photo album for my #3 son's green-loving partner's 21st birthday,

and now I am making a pair of fingerless gloves

for my #2 son's wife, who loves pink and red (I just finished the first glove.)

These things make me feel so much better than selling to strangers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Living Positively through the Bleak Days of Winter

Winter always hits me hard - I've come to realise that on top of my normally depressive personality, I also suffer from SAD. I am seriously thinking about getting one of those special lights before next winter.

This winter has thrown some particularly unpleasant things at us: first, as I wrote about in June, the death of my last uncle. Then the progressive decline of my mother-in-law and her death in early July. And over all of this, the anxiety surrounding the restructure of my husband's work place, in which his job was restructured out of existence, and the two month wait to find out if he had been appointed to one of the new jobs. We are glad that he has indeed still got a job, but we had to wait to find out until just one week before his old job finished. It has been a very stressful time.

Along with both of us becoming the older generation, our aged status is even more emphasized by our youngest son's plan to go flatting in Hamilton just as soon as he, his brother and his brother's partner have found a suitable flat. As a parent, you want your kids to grow up to be independent and comfortable going out into the world, but damn it's hard when they do!

Of course, when there are these big bad wolf things happening in your life, you tend to notice all the medium size, and little, bad things that happen, more than in the good times.

However I have survived this winter amazingly well. I really am learning, slowly, very slowly, to focus on the good stuff.

All my life I have been driven nuts by people who talked blithely about Positive Thinking, insisting that you can turn anything into a positive if you just have the right attitude. I remember a friend being particularly incensed on being told this when her son was in hospital with leukemia, possibly dying. I know a number of born-again Amway-dealing Positive Thinkers who refuse to acknowledge negatives in their personal lives, determinedly denying sadness, anger, grief and who come across, to me anyway, as ridiculously and artificially Positive. What is so wrong about grieving for my uncle? For my mother-in-law? For worrying about the threat of redundancy?

The problem lies not in the negative events and the feelings that go with them, it lies in getting stuck there. The Positive Thinkers get stuck in denial. As a Negative Thinker I get stuck in grief / worry / depression / anger - especially depression. Neither is productive. Neither leads to growth as a whole person. I stay stuck in the past, constantly churning over what happened yesterday or five decades ago, that means that I am who and where I am now.

What I have finally come to realise is that real positive thinking isn't about pretending the bad things don't happen: it is about feeling the bad feelings and then moving on. It doesn't even have to mean that I let go of the feelings, just that I don't immerse myself in them forever, and today.

So this winter I have felt grief and loss and depression - but I have looked for small pleasures to sprinkle over them like chocolate to mitigate the taste of bitter medicine.

I cannot believe that life will ever be as satisfying as it was when I was a full time mother - but I am trying not to dwell on that. That children grow to independence is the proper way of things, I accept that, and now I am trying to find new things to enjoy even if they do not bring the overwhelming, love-filled satisfaction that my life with my children has been. (And for those who are still enjoying that time of their lives, no, I have not forgotten the exhaustion and frustration!)

Thoughts of suicide have haunted me for decades: when I was a teenager, I thought of my parents and knew I couldn't bring such misery to them (feeling that they did not deserve unhappiness, while I did.) When the desire for oblivion next descended, I had children, and similarly I felt that I did not deserve release at the expense of their wellbeing. I still feel that. For decades I have felt resentment at the thought that others' feelings mattered more than my life, resentment almost that I loved my children so much that I didn't feel my life was my own.

I'd happily die for them
but there's been no call for that.

It's the living that's hard;
and loving them more
than death itself.

I think that the real difference between the negative thinker and the positive thinker is acceptance. The negative thinker can be the ultimate optimist - if I just sit around fermenting in my misery for long enough, a fairy godmother with a magic wand will appear and change everything to the way it should have been. The Positive Thinker imagines that every bad thing that happens is a a goodie if only they look at it the right way: God (or The Universe) moves is mysterious ways. The positive thinkers are such pessimists - they take the attitude that there is no magic except that which is inside themselves so they have to make things happen.

This is what I am trying to do (which is probably what 99% of other people do already): I am trying hard to move on, to make life as good as it can be in the context of the past that I can't change and decisions I have made, instead of sitting miserable and disappointed. Still, I am happy to accept little bit of the magic that I know is out there somewhere!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Winter, spring, summer,
autumn, sometimes fall.

Falling into winter.
Never falling feet first
like the black cat,
green eyes shining.

No. I fall flat.
Not just flat on face,
but flat on legs
flat on back
flat on belly
flat; flattened
into the black earth
covered with the
chill blanket
of midwinter frost.

I fall down:
down side up
up side down
up side gone
down side down

Falling into winter
into the long dark
into the cold black
down side down

the light returns
up side rolls
over, slowly,
struggling to turn
up side up.

Even I feel the dark recede
just a little
up side rising

Shall I let up side up?
Can I let up side up?

up side is fleeting
up side is fickle
down side is down
but so very reliable

down side up
down side down

Up side up?
A Possibility?

Up side UP?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Older Generation

Last week I went to Whanganui (note my politically biased spelling!) for the funeral of my uncle, Moore. After my parents both died eight months apart in 1988, I thought I adjusted to the fact that my sister and I were now The Older Generation. But when Moore died I discovered that I'd only been pretending to be a well adjusted oldie - the death of this last parental sibling came as a shock: not the fact of his death, but the fact of my status.

Once There Were Ten: Five a Side

Just eleven years old
Nancy was first to go:
My mother’s twin
lost to polio.

Then Sergeant Robert
went off to the war.
died in Greece
just twenty four.

Ned was sick
before he died -
for so many years,
it was no surprise.

Much later was George
who clung to life
trying so hard
to stay with his wife.

Lyndsay left next,
nine months later she died
neither she nor George
met their sixth grandchild.

Then the other Robert,
Alison, and Guy,
and finally Moore.
the last to die.

My sister’s still here,
our children, and theirs,
but we have become
the Elders, I fear.

Out of the Darkness

This year, for the first time in decades, I have managed to stay on top of depression by being very aware of how my body is reacting to the lack of daylight. Even when I know in my head that I have so much to be grateful for, there are so many times in my life when I can't feel it in my heart, times when depression is indeed a black dog on my back, and especially in winter. I have been counting down the days until Solstice, and reminding myself that soon the days will start growing longer again. Soon the chooks will stay laying again. The spring bulbs have already got several inches of leaves showing. However the last couple of days have been so wonderfully light-filed that I don't need the passing of Solstice - I'm already feeling like I'm on the way up.

Today, I rose before dawn - which is, of course, relatively late - because my sister was staying and was going to be leaving about 8.30 to go back to Auckland.

Looking wet from our sitting room, Mt Karioi was looking glorious in the early morning sun

The goat wasn't so keen on our frosty morning.

But though the stawberry plants were edged with ice,

I found this!

Ng Tong, the cat was enjoying a roll in the sun and dust,

and the chooks were looking a lot happier than on the bedraggling rainy days earlier in the week.

The ram pump that fills the chooks' water bowl, the cow's trough and our toilets, had stopped, but the chore of having to go down to the stream in the bush to clean it out and restart it, wasn't really a chore today

because the bush was looking so very lovely with the sun filtering through .

Even though it is winter, because we live in a temperate zone, I still have a bit of colour in my garden: the native flaxes and coprosma;

the arctotis;
the pineapple sage;
and even food - parsley by the bucketful, and look! a handful of pure sunlight to eat - Cape gooseberries.
I hoped the tagasaste would attract kereru and honey bees, but although all I see feasting in these trees are bumble bees and rosellas, I love their white flowers in the middle of winter.

I watered the hebe plants grown from cuttings that my friend Kate gave me last Wednesday when we visited her after my uncle's funeral in Whanganui. I love that my garden contains so many reminders of friends.
Bob the Dog ran away a few weeks ago, we think after being scared by nearby possum shooting neighbour. We spent a very anxious two days before Bob managed to find a car 4 km away on SH 23, and someone to drive him home. He drives us nuts some days (the cats as well, as you can see from his scratched nose) but we love him and are so glad he made it back safe and unharmed.
After all that, what a treat to sit down with a cup of tea and a piece of my sister's delicious chocolate caramel slice.
Then it was time to go into Hamilton for Jeff to get some Aussie dollars for his visit to Melbourne next week, and to sit his first university exam - maths.

Even in the carpark at The Base (Hamilton's biggest shopping centre) there were beautiful things to see.
And then while Jeff sweated through his maths exam, I spent a lovely afternoon with friends, Chantal and Cate: what could there possibly be to get depressed about?