Trip to Dunedin Part 2—Climbing Mount Cargill

While we were in Dunedin (pronounced Doo-NEE-din, in case you wondered), we stayed with a family who live on Pine Hill, on the road to the Mount Cargill Lookout. Saturday afternoon they took us up to the top, and we hiked around for an hour or two. It was quite a strenuous walk for those of us who are terribly out of shape, but the scenery was worth it. The boys took the opportunity to practice rock climbing. This is Mr. Inventor.


We went to a rock outcropping that overlooks the city of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. I hustled Mr. Inventor away from the edge with his little sister. It went straight down a long way there.


Mr. Imagination


Mr. Diligence


Everyone posed for a picture on top of the rock.


Looking north along the coast. It was an incredibly clear day, and we were all thankful for very little wind—they said that was quite unusual.


That rocky point in the middle is where we took the picture of everyone.


Climbing up the rocks.


Entrance to the Otago Harbour


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Book Review—Front Window and Hartfield Mysteries series

I am loving the fact that my favorite author is a prolific writer. Her fourth book for the year is publishing this week! Because this is the fourth book in a series, I “had” to read the first three, of course, so I’ve had a fairly steady diet of Chautona Havig lately. I’m not tired of them yet!

You can preorder the Kindle version of Front Window right now; it will be delivered on September 29. If you do preorder, be sure to ask Chautona for the bonus story. I can’t wait to read that—it’s going to be fun! I may have to reread the book, though, since the bonus gives more information to help solve the mystery. Go here to find out how to get the bonus.

I really enjoyed Front Window. It was really hard to put it down—sometimes it’s pretty frustrating to only be able to read for a couple of minutes at a time, although it’s good discipline.

There have been a lot of changes in Alexa’s life. She has switched houses again, and her relationship with Joe is better than ever. She is also enjoying having Aunt Faye in Fairbury. However, Aunt Faye has found the perfect way to disturb a honeymoon. When things start disappearing from the retirement apartments Aunt Faye is living in, and the police don’t seem alarmed or helpful, how can Aunt Faye prove that one of the residents isn’t stealing the items? Things go from bad to worse over the next few weeks. Aunt Faye just isn’t impressed the how the police are investigating the string of crimes, and she lets Joe and the rest of the force know in no uncertain terms.

This is definitely not just a mystery story. There is so much else included! Ask my children about the time Mom was laughing out loud in the bathroom—the Christmas gift scene is hilarious! There are several other very funny scenes as well, and some serious ones. Aunt Faye, though never married, has some extremely good advice and observations. For example, “I decided that if I had to act a fool to get a fellow’s attention, then I didn’t want it.” I also loved, “I always despised those arrogant kids who set themselves up as authorities when God gave them perfectly good ones in parents.”

For those who love mysteries, this is a good one. You will be kept guessing at the identity of the thief until nearly the end of the story. I appreciated the Christian values portrayed in it, although there wasn’t nearly as much about Alexa’s and Joe’s faith in this story as in some others by Chautona Havig. I’m still not convinced that I want to read very many murder mysteries, but I don’t mind reading hers.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

WARNING: A couple of the characters say a mildly bad word when under great stress.

I also wrote a review of the entire series, for those who are interested:

Murder mysteries? Not my cup of tea—usually. I prefer books that have sage advice woven throughout, books that make me really think about things. The Hartfield Mysteries, however, do that.

Alexa Hartfield is an author living in the small town of Fairbury, near Rockland. Her specialty is murder mysteries. She lives alone and likes her life that way. To most people, she appears eccentric; most of her clothing appears to be from other eras, from medieval times to the 1980s. Her comfortable life is suddenly shaken up when, in the first book, Manuscript for Murder, people start dying. The strange thing is that they are being killed in exactly the way she’s writing about in her current book! What is going on? Joe, the policeman who comes to her rescue a few times, ends up a frequent visitor, but she is certainly not interested in romance—and neither is he.

Crime of Fashion involves a new business which Alexa becomes involved in—but odd things happen there, too, and tragedy strikes close to home for her. After that is all resolved, she goes to California for her biannual visit to her parents (in the author’s hometown!) in Two O’clock Slump. She anticipates the usual stressful visit, with her extremely religious parents trying to get her to repent of something that happened when she was a teenager, but then a man is found dead in the next motel room to hers, which was supposedly empty. During the investigation, she must flee. I had a hard time with this book; you don’t find out until one of the last two or three chapters who the villain is, and it’s very hard to put the book down at that point.

Front Window picks up soon after Two O’clock Slump ends; one of the main characters is Alexa’s Aunt Faye. We met her in the last book, but she really shines in this one. She has moved from California to Fairbury in the interval between the two books, into a retirement apartment. While Alexa is away from home, Aunt Faye finds the perfect excuse to annoy her greatly—someone is stealing things from the residents! The police are convinced that the thief is someone who lives in the complex, but Aunt Faye doesn’t believe that. Can she find a way to prove her point?

If you want a clean Christian mystery series, check out the Hartfield Mysteries. Just be careful when you get engrossed in them, or you may find meals being put on the table late—and you may well find yourself annoying the people around you as you hoot with laughter at some of the situations described. I hear that my children heard me laughing hard a couple of times in one day as I read Front Window! Mystery and humor aside, I really enjoyed watching Alexa grow and change in her relationships with other people, especially Joe, and the community in general. The only thing I did not appreciate about the books was the character who married a divorced woman; I take Matthew 5:32 literally.

WARNING: There is at least one murder in each book, not graphically described but there all the same. In Front Window, the police chief is mentioned as swearing a time or two.

The book titles are Esther’s affiliate links. By clicking on them to buy the books from Amazon, you’ll help support her website, with no extra cost to you.

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Trip to Dunedin, Part 1—The Trip South

We took a trip to Dunedin, a large city near the south end of this island, a week ago. We left here fairly early Friday morning, and drove till it was nearly dark that evening, with just a few stops. This first picture shows the typical landscape in the Canterbury Plains, south of Christchurch. Mr. Diligence, who sits in the front of the van between his daddy and I, was getting bored, so he borrowed my camera. What this doesn’t show, which is very hard to pick up with the camera but very spectacular in real life, is the snow-capped mountains off to the west. The covering of snow this time of year makes them look a lot taller than they look in the summer, somehow. They look like they just rise suddenly out of the flat plains. 05-IMG_0480

Esther was able, with her good camera, to get a picture that gives an idea of what we saw. This is taken from the bridge over the Rakaia River, which is 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) long. The structure you see is the railroad bridge.08-DSCF1670

Late in the afternoon, we stopped for half an hour to take a break and enjoy the sea, at Shag Point. This first picture was taken as we drove along the sea; the rest were taken when we stopped. The cliff went nearly straight down, probably 50 feet! Esther and I, and Mr. Diligence who had a headache, stayed at the top; the rest went down a steep path to the sea.


Mr. Inventor and Mr. Intellectual walking along the beach.


Mr. Diligence wishing he felt better, and getting as close to the edge as Mom will let him.


Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Handyman, with Little Miss. Thankfully, he didn’t slip like Mr. Inventor did as he came around that point!11-IMG_0494

Daddy and Little Miss.


Mr. Inventor and Mr. Intellectual discovered a structure of some sort!


Mr. Imagination and Mr. Sweetie


Daddy with Little Miss


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Daffodils—and a Winter Storm!

Last Sunday afternoon on our way home from church we took a few minutes to drive through the Domain, the public land, to see the daffodils. They were sure gorgeous!2-IMG_04593-IMG_04624-IMG_0463

Then, Wednesday, a storm arrived from the south. As the weather forecast I saw put it, the wind was coming “straight off the Antarctic ice shelf”. It sure felt like it! All day Thursday, we had alternating rain, hail, and sunshine. I took these pictures less than a minute after one squall started—the hail turned the ground white that fast!6-IMG_0468

After dark, when another hail storm went through, Mr. Diligence went out and scraped ice off Mr. Inventor’s trailer. He brought it in the house and built this sculpture. Mr. Sweetie called it the Tower of Babel.7-IMG_04708-IMG_04719-IMG_0472

I wanted to clarify something from the post about hitting water in the well. Mr. Inventor did not find the design he used for a “drill” anywhere; he thought it up himself. He did watch YouTube and got several other ideas, but hasn’t tried any of them yet.

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Back in March, I wrote about our boys’ project of digging a well by hand. They got down 2.9 meters, and then lost momentum. It rained, and we were concerned about the ground softening up and caving in. They didn’t do any more with the well until today. Mr. Inventor has been agitating for us buying a posthole driller to finish the well, rather than digging farther by hand. It sounded like a good idea, but we never got around to it. He started working on building his own. He cut a circle out of a flat piece of iron, and cut a slit in it and bent the metal to make a sort of screw, but that didn’t work. He watched a few YouTube videos for ideas, then cut up a small old propane tank and attached that to a handle. It worked well to drill through the clay at the bottom of the well, and they hadn’t gone far when water started seeping in! They are drilling through gravel and sand now, and it’s looking really promising.1-IMG_06352-IMG_06363-IMG_06374-IMG_0640

Does it look a bit safer now, than when they were digging by hand at the bottom?

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A Few Random Photos

We haven’t been taking very many pictures lately, apparently. I have time today to write a blog post, though, so I’ll share the few we have. We’re on our way to Dunedin for the weekend, so while we’re traveling on a straight, flat road between Ashburton and Timaru I’m taking advantage of a good battery in my laptop and writing. I do apologize for the fuzzy pictures; after noticing that several were that way, Esther noticed that someone had touched the lens of my camera and it was very smeary. She sweetly cleaned it for me.

Here she is, rocking her little sister right after we arrived home from church.1-IMG_0437

This is Mr. Inventor’s flock of turkeys. Too many toms! Five of them went into the freezer a few days later. Aren’t they gorgeous though? We’re planning to pick up a new toms for our flock on this trip, to avoid inbreeding.


A week or so ago, Mr. Intellectual helped me dig the rest of last year’s carrots. It was such a warm, sunny day that we cleaned them outside, and a few days later the boys helped me chop all of them and get them in jars. That will make quick soups even easier for the next year.


Little Miss was playing with this hat. She was delightedly waving “Bye-bye” to Esther in this picture. She is so much fun! She’s talking more all the time. Yesterday, she was chasing Mr. Imagination around and around the living room, and finally, in exasperation she exclaimed, “He has it!” It turned out that he had been given a small piece of candy, and she wanted it.


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August 2016 Family Pictures

Mr. Sweetie was being silly one day, twirling around and around on my desk chair in this position! Little boys can be pretty amusing.02-IMG_0349

Little girls can be amusing, too. Little Miss has obviously been watching people lay down to read, so she did the same thing one morning while I was doing oral reading with some boys.


Little Miss helped Mr. Intellectual make breakfast one morning.


I was getting her ready for bed, and she ran away, jumped up on Daddy, and giggled.19-IMG_042320-IMG_0424

This is why I record a lot of the books I read aloud to the boys. Mr. Sweetie spent an afternoon this week listening to Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates—a lovely story about a little boy and his lamb.


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Boys’ Projects

As usual, Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence have been very busy building. I don’t have pictures of all their projects, but they borrowed my camera to get pictures of a few recent ones. Mr. Inventor started this trailer in April, and got it finished a couple of weeks ago. It passed inspection, so is now legal to use on the road. He is very excited—and has already started the next one!14-IMG_040415-IMG_0407

Mr. Diligence was hired to build the box on top of this cage for a neighbor boy’s guinea pigs. He took several pictures so he could write the dimensions on them in case he is asked to build another cage.18-IMG_0419

Mr. Inventor was given this shed when it fell over in a high wind a month or two ago. He brought it home on his bike trailer! Mr. Diligence took a picture of that, but his camera is lost, unfortunately, so all I have are these “after” pictures. Originally, the shed was just snapped together with tabs, but he put wooden bracing in, and built a floor in it. He’s hoping to sell it soon.22-IMG_042623-IMG_0428

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We got a little bit of snow this August. It wasn’t much; here at our house we had a tiny skiff one morning. Can you see the snow falling in this picture?01-IMG_0347

The little boys scraped up the snow that slid down the greenhouse and made a little snowman on a sled, but I don’t know if anyone got a picture of it. They were excited about the snow, even if there wasn’t much. The next morning when we went to church, the hills and mountains were gorgeous! We left early in case the road was slick, and kept four-wheel drive on till we got through the dangerous hills. 05-IMG_036406-IMG_036707-IMG_0371

Because we left for church early, and didn’t have any trouble, we had an extra 15 minutes before time for church to start, so we went out the the Peninsula. We hadn’t been out there in a long time, and it was fun to see the rocks, seals, and waves again.08-IMG_037509-IMG_037610-IMG_037811-IMG_0380

We certainly live in a beautiful place!

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Today’s Big Project

I finished a project today that I’ve been wanting to do for several months. We have a couch that is still very comfortable to sit or lay on, but the upholstery wore out several years ago. Before we moved to this house, we sewed a piece of fabric over the seat, but it had to be mended several times and was looking horribly dirty. A few months ago, I got the idea to buy some used curtains and sew a slip-on cover, and I found a matching pair of curtains at a secondhand shop for only a few dollars. Finally, this week, I got started working on the job, and finished it today. It’s certainly not a professional job, but hopefully it will extend the life of this couch for awhile!



And, so you get a little cuteness in this post, here is Little Miss:21-IMG_0425

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