Sunday, 13 December 2015

Yesterday's weather

Yesterday it hailed...

We've had hail a few times in the last month, nothing as bad as Christchurch had yesterday though; they got a few inches, and some of it was pretty big. 
The strip down the side of the drive is my new pumpkin bed.  We scraped the turf off and piled it down the middle, then covered it with horse manure, cardboard, straw, kelp then carpet.  I ran the soaker hose along under the carpet too as the rain wasn't getting through very well.  Hopefully the pumpkins/courgettes will be ok in there, we'll see.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Drama wind-up

This weekend we had our end-of-year Drama production, a short play based on Tolstoy's "The Three Questions".  It went really well - I was the prompt but my services were not required at all as everyone did a great job of their lines.  Daniel was a wise advisor, Renee was the Accountant and Hannah was the Herald.  Andrew was one of the Royal cleaners but I forgot to take a photo.  Afterwards there was a potluck tea.

We also had the last Music morning for the year, so next Saturday we can all sleep in for a change.

Monday, 9 November 2015

More garden

This aquilegia is my favourite flower out this week, this one came from Mum's garden.  She gave me four and they're all doing well, and look lovely.  Light blue one, below.

David has caught the chainsaw bug - he bought one earlier this year and finally had a chance to try it out this week, taking out a sick Rhododendron.  We wondered (briefly) if tender loving care might fix it but as it was my least favourite (pasty yellow) it got the chop.  Just as well too, looking at the stump.
Something nasty living in there...

Speaking of sick plants, I'm a bit concerned about my Stayman's Winesap Apple tree.  It has mildew on some of the new growth, not the end of the world, but I just noticed today there are brown spots on the leaves:

Arrgh! Pink fingertip disease too!  Oh well...

The rest of the trees look fine, apart from a wee bit of mildew here and there, and quite a few tiny wee apples :)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Garden shots

Kids running along the beach at St Clair

We've had a busy couple of weeks, with Hannah off at a Labour Weekend camp and Daniel and David off to Cromwell the same weekend for the Sea Scouts Regatta.  Petra and Eva spent the weekend at Grandma and Grandad's so we had a quiet house, only Mum and 3 kids.
This weekend, as well as music lessons as usual, Hannah had a birthday party and Andrew had the scouts swimming sports.  Also David was on call, got called out 6 times on Saturday, the day he planned to write most of his sermon for the next day.  It turned out ok in the end, he had a quiet evening at least, and got it all sorted out in time.

The garden is looking lovely this week.  The irises I got from a freecycler have flowered, a lovely dark purple, and the self-seeded stock is flowering.  The cardoons are getting alarmingly big, I might have to put them somewhere else when we have room.

Spring is such a beautiful time of year!

Latest bargain

 I found this huge piece of carpet for $10 at the tip shop this week, some of it is in very good condition still.  The worst bits will be used for paths in the garden or weedmat around fruit trees.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Andrew Update

This morning Andrew came to tell me something and halfway through I realised he wasn't holding his nose to talk, but talking more-or-less normally.  He can also whistle, and drink properly, whereas yesterday he couldn't.  So that is wonderful, a real answer to prayer :)  He still has a few "mushy" consonants but I'm sure they'll come right soon - he's 95% back to normal!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


So on Friday last week Andrew woke up and couldn't talk properly and when he tried to drink, the milk came out his nose.
I took him to the doctor, who consulted another doctor and rang an expert, and the general consensus was "very unusual".  There seems to be something wrong with Andrew's soft palate (palate insufficiency/incompetence/inadequacy - the terms seem to be fairly interchangeable) as it is not doing its job of closing off the back of the nose during speech and swallowing.  He's otherwise healthy, mostly over the last cold, and in no discomfort.  Andrew can't whistle, as when he blows the air comes out his nose as well as his mouth.  For speech, he can only manage "m", "n" and "ng" sounds as well as vowels, the rest of the consonants are gone.  Over the last few days he's managed to produce very faint "t", "g" and "k" sounds but I'm not sure if it's an indication of his palate improving, or him adapting to produce the sounds some other way.  I suspect the latter as he pulls faces while enunciating.  If he holds his nose he can talk but is still hard to understand, and can't speak loudly.  He can drink but only in sips or it comes out his nose. Eating is fine.  In typical Andrew fashion, he hasn't let it slow him down, or get him down; he's still in pretty good spirits.
So we are waiting for a letter from the hospital so we can take him in for an expert opinion.  I've had a look around on the internet but most of the information is concerned with the problems associated with cleft palate and fixing it surgically.  There doesn't seem to be much about what could cause it in a previously healthy (apart from the colds/flu we've all had this winter) 8-year-old, or whether it will go away by itself.  I did find one thing about a child who had it and it "resolved spontaneously" after a month, but nothing about cause or treatment.  So, apart from making sure he has enough to drink, we just have to wait...
Prayer would be appreciated, especially that it won't be permanent. Thanks :)

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Spring Flowers

Hannah spent some of her hard-earned pocketmoney on flowers, specifically hyacinths, which are flowering now.  They look lovely, and Hannah can't wait until we get the back yard sorted out so that she can plant them properly.

 Bryony has also been growing bulbs.  She was pleased to see the pups she picked off her lilies are growing.

We're working on terracing the slope up the back.  Realistic economics has led to the decision to build our retaining walls from tyres, which are free at the local tyre shops.  All we need to do is drag them up the hill and do a lot of digging and filling.  We have been digging a trench for a few weeks now (part of our homeschooling!) but haven't made any headway on getting the tyres down as it seems to rain every weekend.  Once the first row is down and level the kids and I can work on the rest during the day.  The next job will be to find some trailing plants to cover it all up, and plant the fruit trees which arrived yesterday from Southernwoods nursery.  We have a couple of apricots, a prune plum and 2 cherries to go in up the back, as well as a Hetlina Apple to go onto the bottom end of our line of apple trees.

Carnivorous Plants

Daniel has started a carnivorous plant collection this year, and was very excited the other morning to see a flower on one of the Venus Flytraps. 

 He's hoping for seeds so he can grow more.  We found 2 plastic bins at the tip shop which are ideal for a mini glasshouse, although his new Pitcher plant was a bit tall for it so Grandad made some spacers
to make a bit more headroom.  The pitcher plant had a spectacular flower a few days ago.

Daniel's still looking for a decent Sundew, as the one he and Andrew bought off trademe was a LOT smaller than the picture and looks pretty dead right now.  The plant shops get their carnivorous plants in later in the year (next month) so he's saving up.

Thursday, 9 July 2015


We've been a bit sick lately.  I (Jean) spent most of the last week of term in bed with the flu.  Thankfully the kids are old enough to keep out of trouble.  Eva did find a couple of boxes of hand downs and probably tried on half of them (leaving them on her bedroom floor afterwards, of course), but that was no big deal.  The girls, especially Bryony, did a lot of meals. Everyone has had a touch of it, with sore throats, headaches and phlegm, but Daniel and Renee are the only ones who seem to have the actual flu - until a couple of days ago when David came down with it too.  He's had a couple of days off work and is not feeling that flash.  We've been playing a lot of boardgames and watching a few DVDs and generally taking it easy.  When it snowed a couple of days ago, Andrew was the only one who felt like going outside to play in it.  At least it's the holidays so there's no pressure to do anything except sit about and keep warm.

Botanic gardens

We went for a mid-winter trip to the Botanic Gardens for a run and to see the glasshouse plants.  

There is a big pile of long skinny stones in the background of the cactus garden.  We have some of the same kind of stones in our garden.  The arrangement here makes me wonder if they come from the Organ Pipes, a basalt formation near Dunedin.  They are the wrong colour though...  There must be a lot of these kind of rocks around Dunedin somewhere for them to show up in our garden and here as well.

They have a nice selection of carnivorous plants, 

including some very healthy-looking sundew.

You can ask at the Information Centre for a free bag of feed (crushed barley?) for the ducks.  The pond was frozen the day we went and it was funny to see them slipping and sliding on top of the water.  Most of them stayed on the footpath and mobbed us.

It was freezing up North East Valley and the ice had pushed the soil up as it froze.

We talked to the parrots (some of which talked back) then went home to warm up.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A good day to live on a hill

Last week there was a flood in Dunedin.  David woke up to find the laundry roof, which we thought was fixed, was leaking badly.  We went out in the morning to get run errands and by 11am the Pak n Save carpark had some serious puddles and I had to drive through about 1-foot-deep water in the gutter on the way out.  By the time we drove to Opoho and back, the entire footpath outside Pak-n-Save was under water as well as the taxi parking and only half a lane on each side of the road was out of the water.  As we headed up the hill there was water spurting out of the manhole covers and firemen working around Fulton Rest Home.  Our afternoon drama lesson in Mosgiel was cancelled, which was no surprise as Mosgiel is low and flat.  The rain carried on steadily all day and the water started coming in the back of the laundry cupboards.  When David got home he pried off the (nice, new, freshly painted) plywood from the ceiling and put a bucket under it.  It seems the roof has been leaking for a wee while, probably a washer-nail not sealing properly, but we didn't know because the bats in there has been soaking up the water - so it was just as well we had such a lot of rain or we may not have noticed for a long time.  It filled at least 2 buckets-full by the time the rain stopped.
After tea David went down and picked up Grandma Anderson who lives down on the flat.  She stayed the night, just in case, but the water didn't get into her house.  It was deep enough to come up to the lower step on our van even though David parked with the wheels up on the footpath.  Knee-deep on the road.
The next day we took Grandma Anderson home again, driving through foot-deep water in some places.  There were a lot of people mopping or pumping out their shops, and sandbags everywhere.  Bathgate Park, the local soccer ground, was a big lake, covered with waterbirds, probably eating all the drowned worms.  There were seagulls, ducks, geese, herons, oyster-catchers, etc. all over it.  I wish I'd taken a photo but I was just concentrating on heading home.
Many people have had to strip out their carpets and throw out a lot of stuff that got wet.  I thought about going down and getting some old carpet from the skips down the hill (for biodegradeable weedmat) but it has been contaminated with sewage, not worth it.  It's going to take a while for all the damage to be put right, tarmac lifted off the road in a few places and there were a few slips.  I feel for the people who had water come right through their houses.
A good day to live on a hill.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Embroidery Guild

This morning we went off to Embroidery Guild, Andrew, Petra, Eva and I.  It's the first time Andrew or Petra have come to learn and they had a great time.

The kids did needlebooks, from the top Eva's, Petra's then Andrew's.

I finally finished my nametag

I just need to put a brooch back on it and it will be done.  Now I need a new project to work on while the kids are at music lessons...

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Pumpkins etc

 We harvested our pumpkins this week.  There are also a few in the garden, and we've eaten some, so altogether a decent number.  I love growing pumpkins, more than the family loves to eat them so we always end up giving half of them away, which is all good.  This year we put in Thelma Saunders, Marina di Chioggia, Musquee de Provence, Wee be Little, Australian Butter and Amish Pie (not sure whether any of those last actually grew), as well as some big greys that came up from food scraps.

 The nerines have been lovely - nice to discover what bulbs are around the place - and the banana passionfruit has bounced back from being decimated last year.

We went for a trip to the Kaikorai Lagoon out by Waldronville (10 mins out of town) and explored the estuary environment.  It was, quite frankly, pretty yucky.  Apart from the smell of mud, which is not that bad, there was rubbish everywhere and the kids found a dead pig skeleton which was still pretty stinky.  Andrew learned not to run out into mud and escaped losing his gumboots by the skin of his teeth.  There was plenty of wildlife but it didn't come anywhere near us, so we didn't get to see the cygnets we've seen from the van - they seem to be shyer of people walking than vehicles driving past.
Daniel was busy for a while making lego ships which turned out pretty well.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Beach visit

Bryony, Renee and Hannah went to stay with Grandma and Grandad for a few days and went for a walk to see the seals, which are breeding.  There were some cute wee guys who had a favourite hiding place under a big rock ledge.

They also did a whole lot of baking for Grandma's birthday, including yummy shortbread

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Happy Birthday Grandma!

We've had a few birthdays this week, as this is birthday season for us.  Between the 23rd of March and the 2nd of April, there are 2 birthdays in our immediate family and 3 in the extended family.  This year the most important was Grandma Anderson, who turned 80.  Because it's the only time she'll have an 80th birthday I made her a quilt.  It's the first quilt I've made for anyone and it wouldn't win any prizes but I thought it turned out ok.

I put silhouettes of all the grandchildren on the front and a bargello pattern on the back, which is actually centered although the perspective in the photo makes it look off-centre.

I did a lot of free-motion quilting to hold it together, thanks to David buying me a decent machine for my birthday, as my old cheap plastic one couldn't handle anything like that.