The first week of 2011 has involved lots of gorse: chainsawing it down. Yes, it is that big! It's hard work, but we really want to clear the bank beside the driveway so that it isn't so threatening as we (and visitors) drive up. First I chainsaw it and Mac follows along painting the stumps with waste oil in the hope that will slow the regrowth. Then I throw the cut gorse down onto the driveway where Mac and I load it onto the trailer (second handling). We then take it and unload (third handling) onto a pile which will later be burnt. One cloudy day we managed five trailer loads, but most days it's only two or three.
It's very satisfying to see the bank getting clearer, the bonfire piles getting higher - and the firewood pile also growing.
On the second day of the New Year, I spent 3 1/2 hours shut in a small almost airtight room helping my bee buddy Barbara extract 70kgs of honey from their frames. It's very hard work, very hot work, delightfully messy, sweet, aromatic work - I love doing it. And the result - honey to take home.
On Monday 3rd January Mac helped me to take a thorough look inside my beehive. I had been worried about how it looked, but put off looking inside because of all the busyness around Christmas / New Year. More fool me - it seems something had happened to my queen. And to lots of my hive. I have no idea what - other than that the plants in my top garden were also looking pretty damn sick, so possibly som kind of spray drift. After ringing several people and doing my best to get some local help, I turned to the internet and bought a box of bees plus brood and a queen on Trade Me, and went and collected them on Friday. I have merged them with the original hive as instructed by a professional I talked to - here's hoping it works and my hive survives.
Jeff and Konny organised a LAN party for Monday night, which involves 11 0r 12 computers and bodies lining the sitting-room for the night. Heidi, Mac and I escaped outside and spent a long time star gazing. The stars are amazing from our place but we don't get out to look at the enough, so it was good to have been driven out of the house by the LANers.
On Tuesday I went to Greg's place and collected Ti'ana and Ethan who came to spend two nights with me. I do love having them, and they seem much happier and more settled these days.
I had found a few left over fireworks and had bought some marshmallows so we had a fun first night.
After I took them back to Greg's on Thursday, I met my friend Violet for coffee before going to the supermarket. It was so good to catch up - it seems that the friends who live close often get neglected - we put it off because we can do it 'tomorrow' or 'next week' - this year I want to make more effort to see people in person, rather than just chatting on the phone or online.
Friday was sad - I took Jeff and Konny back to Auckland. I miss Jeff so much. We were such good friends for so long, doing so much together, but now he lives in Auckland, and has a better friend to do things with anyway. That's the downside of parenting: you spend years helping them to grow up to be independent adults - then that's just what they do! Trouble is, no one trains us mothers how to handle the sadness this brings. A beloved child cannot be replaced by any one or any thing else - there is a hole left by each one that leaves, and the youngest is the hardest. But that's just the way it has to be.
Swimming at the beach in Raglan takes all thoughts away though. In the waves I stop being me and just become the world. It is the best thing in the world, and our beach is the best beach in the world!