Date: June 25th 2010

It's a midsummer nights dream.  We dare not mention that we want change because we love the sun.  The lack of rain is great for weeding.  May is a good month to weed because most plants have not yet seeded.  June isn't bad either and many plants were delayed this year. It's certainly been a pleasure to work in the garden because progress is possible, weeds can be controlled, slugs must hide away. Generally we've caught up in most respects, not least because of everyone in the family lending a hand.  The results of the harsh wiinter are not as bad as I had feared.  The fig trees seem to be resprouting - thanks to Sarah for suggesting we give them a bit of time.  The strawberry tree might push up a sucker even thouth the main trunk seems to be gone.  The chocolate trees are also having a go at regrwoth.  The banana trees are all pushng up suckers.  We did lose a couple of avocado, citrus, curry, palm and others, but we'll still wait another month or two before taking the axe to the dead wood, just in case. And we'll suffer a dry well, especially since we can supplement irrigation needs from the stream.  And even though the river is very low we brave a dip in the shimmering pools by her banks on a hot day.  It is nice when visitors proclaim that it is paradise, and guests from abroad talk about how lovely summer in Ireland is. 

The summer solstice was wonderful - at 10 o'clock in the evening as the sun set, the sky was still light but you could see stars like small diamonds in the sky, I forced myself to stay up till after midnight when twilight slipping over the horizon was still sufficient to light a path; and a couple of hours later the ornage gibbous moon sank below the horizon in a haze of mist.  These days those indoor chores are pushed to the bottom of the list, the office is not a refuge but a cell and we are lucky to have so much to do outside that we don't feel guilty about letting that paperwork slide another day ...

Our birds have been very productive this year - loads of eggs (goose, duck and chicken) most of which we've found - though the new roosters never really learnt any manners.  Their persistent raping of the hens meant I had to do something which is very difficult for someone who does not like killing. I even research how to pluck a hen - a dirty, bloody and sweaty business. In the end I gave five roosters away at the Ballykeenan small animal sales.  It was a great morning for us and I highly recommend it for families.  Three of the children helped me take the roosters to the sale (which takes place on the last Sunday of every month eg net Sunday) and while we offered them to visitors, the children took turns to walk around and look at all the creatures on sale from chickens to turkey ot pigs to goats, as well as craft work and garden supplies.  By lunch time we had bought four small ducklings which amused them for a couple of weeks and are now being integrated to the flock.

We gave up our organic certification this year - I just couldn't justify 500 for someone to spend 20 minutes walking around the garden and telling me that I was being organic.  Costs have probablyincreased because the Dept of "agriculture" has created another wave of paperwork.   But it is ironic that we still subsidise unsustainable practices and penalise sustainable ones.  I guess we all vote for that in the supermarket - a litre of pop is cheaper than a brocolli or even a litre of petrol!

The summer yoga group courses are over though Pam has been giving some private lessons.  We've also been attempting to DIY a yoga nkasa so that she can do some special courses here.  We'll let you know when (if) it gets off the ground.  Thanks to Mossie for some really cool translucent roofing felt which will make a little window in the roof (if Tom's design stands up).

My godmother died a few weeks ago just after her 97 birthday.  She was very cool and we miss her.  Here is a prayer she kept and which was read at her memorial.  even an atheist like me appreciates it:

Lord thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old.  Keep me from that fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every ocassion.  Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.  Make me thoughtful but not mmoddy, helpful but not bossy.  With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pty not to use it all, but thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.  Seal my lips on aches and pains.  They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is is beocming sweeter as the years go by.  I dare not ask for grace enogh to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memory of others.  Teach me the glorious lesson that occassionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint - some of them are so hard to live with - but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.  Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.  And give me O Lord the grace to tell them so.  Amen.

PestalozziWorld had a redesign of its website to coincide with the publication of the English language version of Head, Heart and Hand. Education in the Spirit of Pestalozzi by Arthur Bruhlmeier, which offers insight in to how schools can be more child-oriented and produce better-educated school-leavers. It is recommended to be of great benefit to those in the field of education, as well as to parents. Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk or download the pdf (862KB) (donations welcome).  Pam ran the Flora Mini Marathon in her best time so far - congratulations and well done!  Many thanks to all of you who sponsored her.

Astraea.net also got a bit of a makeover, but there's more to be done there as well as ballintemple.com.  We did however put social networking links on after Pam, Paula and others pushed me to do it ;-) .

The last quarter saw some attention to the boring administration of business - accounts :-(.  Fortunately ours are pretty simple and my meeting with the accountants was a 10 minute affair.  But we continued chatting for an hour about the Irish economy.  I always find James' observations stimulating and recommend his firm (Harney Nolan).  But my conclusions from our chat were depressing - the bullet points: falsification of data to misrepresent the state of the economy, continuing bail out of foreign investors at the expense of Irish taxpayers, failure to reliquify the economy despite huge cash injections to the banking systems, increase bureaucracy at the expense of small business, failure to reprice assets (a further 50% decline is required); the bottom line - 5 years to turnaround.  Its a good thing we've all got a sense of humour.

The last couple of months have seen a few noteworthy developments in the wider world.  People have become aware of the amazing power of data retention, analysis and manipulation by big internet businesses like Google and Facebook.  Some still say its going to happen anyway or it's too much information to handle.  I more cycnical simply because I know there are other ways of doing thing, you don't have to be big to be happy, and if we can fly to Mars and take pictures of the dawn f time we can certainly manipulate a bit of data.  Anyway those excuses have been proved wrong before.  So its nice to know that people are beginning to care about the consequences of choices.  Open information and open technology is becoming more attractove among a wider population.

The coalition government in the UK seems to be following a trend in other developed countries, like Ireland, where voters are choosing cooperation rather than confrontation. It is a hopeful sign that politics will grow-up (but don't hold your breath).

The blockade of Gaza has drawn attention to the atrocious violence in the middle east and the ironic hypocrisy of a young nation which justifies its violence of others on the violence meted out to its forebears.  It would be a welcome sign if they could all grow up.  The recent report and apology on Bloody Sunday is an example of how  a sincere apology can heal emotioanl scars.  Though in the middle east there has to be a great deal more humility and empathy by all.  It is very sad but perhaps a turning point will be catalysed by the removal of economic and emotional support of Israel alone by the US.

The other global event is the oil slick in the gulf of Mexico.  As people and politicians lay blame, everyone forgets that the reality that accidents like these happen, that no one person s responsible, that the destruction of environment and livelihoods is a real cost of the addiction to oil and that it is a really good thing that it is not an accident at a nuclear reactor.  It distracted attention from the humanitarian disaster in Haiti where people are still destitute from another kind of accident.  Unfortunately it is unlikely that this disaster will promote a culture of precaution over permissiveness or ameliorate our gross addiction to oil. 

So while the big picture outside is pretty embarrassing for humanity, the midsummer dream continues in the paradise of Ballin Temple.

Enjoy nature.  Be happy.  Love life.

Tom

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