Observing some change?

I have noticed that I am less tied to my mobile phone.  I am not checking it repeatedly for messages and missed calls, sports events and results.  I am not constantly checking for weather predictions – actually there’s no need, because just by looking out one window or another you can see what the weather is going to do next.  I leave my phone behind when I am in the garden or walking Xara, so I don’t always know what time it is and I don’t have a check on how many steps I have done in the day.  The number of games of solitaire I play on it has reduced as well.    

What’s going on? Over the last six months before leaving Howick, it was all go on multiple fronts.  I was: getting people in to do small “do up” jobs around the house, in conversations with Real Estate agents, trying to finish well at Howick Presbyterian and also with the people I had developed relationships with over the time we were there.  I was always waiting for someone to get back to me, or finding out about one thing or another.  Because of the busyness and stress, I always felt I had to keep doing things. I felt on edge.   The worst was slipping into checking my phone while at dinner with friends.  This is something I hate others doing and which Miranda got cross about!  Actually, if I’m honest with myself, although it got worse in the first half of this year, it had been with me for some time.

Now that some pressure has reduced and the lifestyle changed, I do believe that, initially anyway, there has been an improvement. I am less addicted to my phone (Miranda scoffs).  Its not perfect (I have checked cricinfo for cricket updates while writing this) but it is better.   

Other noticed differences, less sleeps in the afternoon, even though I’m doing more physical work and am more physically tired.  Going to bed earlier and sometimes sleeping all the way through the night.  Being a little out of town means stopping at a cafe is becoming more of a treat than a regular habit.  I’d like to say I’ve reduced my coffee intake, but that would be going too far!!!

This week: Miranda has nearly completed her first week back into Social Work.  In between the rain storms I have been constructing fencing to create a space for Xara to have some off leash space.

Photo is one example of a burst of colour all over the section – stunning.

Magnolia somethingoranotheraflora

If not “Economic Man” who am I?

People have said to us: ‘oh you have trees laden with grapefruit and oranges and lemons, you must set up a stall and sell them.  You can’t eat all of them yourselves; they’re an income stream for you.’

Others, noting we have a 2 bedroom unit on the side of the house, have said: ‘oh you could make a bundle from it as a bed and breakfast unit. ‘

This, along with a few weeks now with little income, and the plight of a person we met who reported being unfairly paid for work they were doing, has made me reflect a bit about who I am. 

Also, we were given a strange sort of a farewell gift, which was a book on Dementia. This discusses how we view people and raises some hugely important questions.   If someone can no longer work to earn a living, are they still a person? In the instance of the book – which Miranda is reading and telling me about – if someone can’t remember what they had for lunch, are they still a person?  

What if I choose to give fruit away to people who would appreciate it, rather than try to make money off it? Am I less of a human than someone who worked it for all they could get?  Maybe being “Relational Man” is more important for me now at this stage in my life? Maybe there’s something in here about being free to be generous?  To date, there have been a number of opportunities to give fruit away. There would be a conflict in me if I was eyeing them as a cash crop.   Maybe I’m just lazy and should get off my butt and get the fruit to market?

Through one’s early life, earning is important.  Bringing home the bacon has significance when there is a family to feed.  But, is that all I am? Can I be more than  “Economic Man”?

Now… off I go to work out a budget because Miranda starts work next week and I’m getting some part time work as well!

travel well

Kevin & Miranda

First world problems

  • Having no dog proof fencing so Xara has to stay on a leash all the time.  She’s a spoilt dog (more spoilt than usual) at the moment as she sleeps inside.  This means, if she has to go to the toilet, outside, in the middle of the night, one of us (normally Miranda) has to go out with her and freeze while she relieves herself.
  • Ordering some fencing materials so Xara has some green space to use off leash and having the order checked 5 times over a period of about three working days, before the trade department of a reputable hardware store got the order sorted. Then, when delivery was loaded they didn’t have enough panels for the delivery and so the rest will have to be delivered next week – one expensive beagle we have!  
  • No internet for three whole days! 
  • Having to go to a café to use their internet (while having large trim flat white coffees).
  • Internet which is slow and regularly cuts out. No fibre here!  Have to use a slow copper line.  Its reported we’re in a hole where no cell phone tower will reach and satellite broadband is, we’re told, “very expensive”.  Actually, a very helpful tech at Vodafone gave us a loan of a modem which connects to a tower to try and its not bad.
  • One bar, or no cell phone coverage, so have to go to certain places in the house if you want to make a call.  Hello, we’re only three a minute drive from the airport.  I bet they have good cell phone coverage there!
  • Having to drive for ten whole minutes to get 5 litres of petrol to keep the chainsaw happy, only to find out the pump was on pre-pay which is a pain when you only want a little bit of gas.
  • The fan part of the fan-bake oven has broken down, so it’s a bit slower to heat up.  Still bakes yummy bread and other things though.
  • One of the tilting doors on the double garage is broken and the other one only works sometimes.

Sigh – nothing remotely meaningful in this blog. Actually, we’re doing pretty well!


Kevin & Miranda.

The right tool for the job.

We had this blog ready to send last Friday, but out internet cut out. Such a first-world problem. Anyway, up and running again now. 🙂

When I (Kevin) went to Vancouver, Canada in 2015 for five weeks, the journey of faith (apart from the study leave) was to trust in myself that I could do this in a place which was completely unknown to me.  I had to trust in what God given talents I had, and also in the provision of the opportunities which were before me, so as to not just to survive but actually thrive.  Along with that went the challenge to trust the people around me, like bus drivers, shop attendants and people I met along the way, that when needed they would be there to assist me to achieve what I wanted to do at that time.

In coming to Rotorua, new challenges emerge.  One of the key phrases Miranda is using is: “we need to be resourceful.”  We haven’t lived here for 30+ years.  We haven’t had a lifestyle block before and certainly we’ve never had the size of orchard we are trying to tame before spring.  After about 3-4 stints in the orchard, I thought we had covered about 10% of the pruning which was needed, but it was overwhelming.  The chainsaw was good, but going up and down a stepladder was slow, tiring and dangerous.   Also, it was obvious that there were trees, which had major branches that were too high to reach.

After hearing about the virtues of a battery powered pole-saw, we had a look in the local Stihl shop.  They didn’t hire battery powered ones, but had a petrol one we could hire.  So, we thought we’d give it a go!  Two half-days of work later and now it’s more like 90% done!  It was safer, quicker, and it got the high up branches we could not reach – still a pretty good work-out for the arms!    

So, another aspect to my faith journey is to trust that the right equipment and the right advice will be available to us when we need it here in Rotorua.    It’s not just about trusting in what God has made me to be, it is also about trusting what God has made others to be – regardless of whether they know or acknowledge God’s gifts or not.   Now that most of the branches are down, there’s a mountain of trimmings to tidy away, not so much fun in that.

The right tool for the job!

At the end of the week.

Both of us are a bit weary.  Being unemployed is rather tiring.  There’s so much to do!

An update on the chooks!  They have settled in really well. During their first full day with us they laid 3 eggs! They even escaped their haven when Miranda left the door open. 

In the garden – garlic are just starting to come up.  In the orchard – we’ve maybe done 10% of what is needed before spring.  With heavy rain over night and a showery forecast we left the orchard pruning and attacked overgrown, trees and shrubs which were overcrowding other plants down one of the fence-lines.  We’ve made friends with a neighbours’ black faced sheep – who love to eat any tree lucerne we throw over the fence to them –  and we discovered a Totara and some little Kowhai trees which were totally light deprived.  We’re getting a good lot of firewood for next year, but the piles and piles of branches building up is quite overwhelming!

On the job front – Wednesday, we had a meet and greet with some of the members of the St Stephen’s Church in Reporoa.  Actually they whipped up a morning tea big enough to feed an army.  Apart from the hospitality centred around the food, it was a good chat and we’re looking forward to attending their service on Sunday.   I feel excited about the possibility of a part time ministry among them.

Thursday, Miranda had an interview for the same type of community social work as she was doing.  This went well too, and so we wait.

Reflection – All this cutting and trimming is quite addictive.  You see one more branch to be trimmed and then another and then just one more.

In the kitchen the Lemon and Mustard Seed Chutney turned out really well.  The recipe follows…

8 large lemons, 1.8kg. (top and tailed then sliced finely and remove pips)

450g onions, peeled and sliced finely. Layer the lemon and onion slices with 3 Tablespoons of salt into a large non-metallic bowl, leave covered for 12 hours to draw out moisture. Drain and rinse.  Place rinsed lemons and onions into large cook pot, adding water till only just covered, bring to boil and simmer 35 mins till very tender.

Add the following ingredients, simmering for 45-60 mins till reduced and thick.

0.5kg sugar, 225 g sultanas, 25g mustard seeds, 2 teaspns ground ginger, 1 teaspn cayenne pepper, 900 mls cider vinegar.

Spoon into sterile jars, seal and keep in the dark for 2 months before using.

If you taste a little out of the pot, it is spicy, with a good lemon hit.  It is great with cheese, cold meat, or stirred into hot rice.


Kevin & Miranda.

yum, yum!

Rescue Hens

Today we got 4 chooks!  They are brown shavers.  They’ll be roughly 2 years old.  We got them from “free as a bird rescue” https://www.freeasabirdrescue.org/ . They are ex-cage hens who have been rehabilitated into free-range hens @ $15.00 each (Thanks to Clare Robinson for putting us onto them).  We drove to Whatawhata to get them.  Yes, it would have been quicker and possibly cheaper to buy some pullets locally, but we liked the idea of re-homing these birds, and it provided a chance to have lunch with my sister Kathleen.  We believe they will lay well for a good number of years. 

There was a chook-run here already, so all we had to do was add hens.  They settled in straight away. By dusk they had already scratched up a patch of bare earth and on dark they took themselves off to their hutch to sleep, so they are well adjusted hens! 

Before leaving Howick Presbyterian, I was presented with a bird feeder and instructed that the first 2 hens were to be called Jane and Bronwynn after the staff there.  So, what to call the other 2?  Jane suggests Becca ( her granddaughter) and Gabbi (Bronwynn’s daughter).  I’ll never know who is who but: Jane, Bronwynn, Becca and Gabbi – that’ll do fine.

 Reflection – Setting things up is time consuming – but fun.

In the garden – had a little time to do some pruning of three fruiting cherry trees!  Miranda fixed some fencing to stop Xara from being able to get into the vege garden – yes, our beagle loves veges!

Jene, Bronwynn, Becca and Gabbi settling in.

On Faith

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 12:1

This blog-site, roughly revolves around three things: food, family/friends and faith.  Now, recognising that we’re all at different places in terms of faith in God and not wanting people to tune out, how do we talk about faith?  A blog gives me a chance to think out-loud, so bear with me :-).  At one level everyone is a person of faith.  We all have a set of beliefs which help us to make sense of the world.  We cannot always find evidence of the truth of these beliefs and so faith involves an assurance about what we do not see.  ‘The world is becoming a better place’ is a faith statement, as is, ‘you can trust no one’.  

This weekend we visited Great Barrier Island and I took a service at St John’s which is an Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian union – honestly!  I’ve gone over annually for a number of years now and so wanted to tell them a little about our move.  Here is an excerpt from my message.  I explained how we have an orchard a huge vege garden, and a couple of small paddocks. “However, there is a bigger vision with this place.  At the start of the process to leave Rotorua, I would casually say to people that I’d like some land with accommodation options which had space for a mini retreat centre.  I think I said it one too many times and I think God was listening in.  The place we set our heart on has been used as a bed and breakfast place and can be split into three separate areas and 4 bedrooms can be set up for guests.  It’s like God has laid down the challenge. ‘Ok, so you want this, now you go and set it up.’

Apart from leaving good jobs behind and, not having jobs to go to, the real step of faith for me is to now to act on what I hope for. ‘Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’  Faith for me, is to have confidence in that hope and to work towards what is unseen.  Ultimately, within much of Christianity, the hope is eternal life, where God’s will is fully accomplished, or in other words where the Kingdom of God is fully realized. However, in terms of a step along the way, and as something which God is calling us to now, this is our act of faith.  This is in a way, what God might be asking of Miranda and I as a part of the prayer: ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

So, this is a little about the journey of faith we are on! Your comments are welcome. Share how you see faith.

In the food section.

We’ve got lots of citrus ripening. We’re loving lemon curd (lemon honey) and freshly squeezed fruit drinks most days. 

Miranda is going to make a lemon and mustard chutney and also we’ll be preserving lemons as well.  We’ll let you know how it goes.  Maybe Miranda will post the recipes, or put them up on the blog-site – somewhow.


The big excitement is that tomorrow we get four chooks.  We’ll let you know how that goes and the story behind them as well.

Nga mihi nui

Kevin & Miranda

Ornamental garden looking back towards the cottage.

Visitors welcome!

Over the first 8 days or so of moving to Rotorua we were graced with visits from three family groups, ranging in age from pre-school, teenage, through to mature adults. It was great to see these families from Auckland and to have the sense that relationships can carry on, even if we do not see each other as often or share activities together so much. We enjoyed showing people around and sharing a bit about our hopes for this place. We also enjoyed, time around the table over a cuppa and some food. We do want to value the relationships which are established and look forward to new ones developing.

As we walked the grounds, weather permitting, a tradition was set. Families were invited to take what they wanted from the citrus trees which have ripening fruit. Bags and pockets were filled. Some of the mandarins didn’t last long! Actually, I’m (Kevin) aware that giving fruit away is also self-serving because there’s plenty here now and there’s the promise of much more to come, so it helps us out because we’d hate to see it get wasted :-).

So, yes we want people to come and visit. In months to come there will be 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 lounges spare which give space for for people to stay in. There’s also turn around space for holiday homes. Basically, we’re saying that loving relationships and generosity are two of the building blocks in our lives going forward.


Kevin & Miranda

Settling in!

Here’s something humorous to get things started. How we marked our territory after moving in. Xara (Beagle), by weeing on the carpet in any room she could get into – this went on for about 3 days! Effie (the cat) by curling up in a tight ball in strange places and then refusing to go outside even when she was allowed to. She has now claimed her rightful place on the mat in front of the fire. Miranda by cleaning down the walls – incessantly (open wood lockwood style home, so lots of grooves to hold dust)! Also, by positioning and re-positioning pictures on walls and pretty things on shelves. Kevin, by getting some plants and putting them into the garden even though it is mid-winter and they’re not going to grow much for 6 weeks (also garlic and shallots -Charlottes – have gone in and its the right time for them). Getting the chainsaw going and cutting something down helped a lot too :-).

So, here we are and after a week we’re beginning to feel more settled. not sure yet whether it feels like a “holiday” home or “our” home.

Go well

Kevin, Miranda, Xara & Effie.