Time to Pause

I was away from the refuge for 5 months. Almost half a year! Stuff got in the way, like moving house and being in lockdown. I felt a little stressed about being away for so long. Once I was back in the refuge though, I realized that being away for a long time was not such a bad thing. It’s good to step back once in a while. It gives you time to pause and re-evaluate your routines and habits and see if they are still serving you well.

In The Natural Way of Farming the famous Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka tells the story of silkworm farmers in Japan. In the beginning, silkworms were collected in the mountainside and released in the woods. Then the farmers bred new varieties of silkworms. These new varieties were raised indoors. They were watched day and night. Early in the morning, mulberry leaves were collected, washed, dried with a cloth, chopped into strips and fed to the silkworms. The room had to be kept at just the right temperature with heaters when it was too cold and ventilation when it was too hot. The had special tools and baskets for taking care of the silkworms. It was difficult work! In modern times, some farmers tried returning to more natural, less labor intensive methods. When synthetic fibers were developed, silk lost its popularity for a while. When it became popular again most silkworm production became industrialized. Now it is done in factories with conveyor belts, automated temperature control, and artificial feeds.

I can relate with the hard working traditional silkworm farmer with his special tools and desire to innovate and improve his craft. I like to identify a problem, think of a solution, and buy the gadget that I need to implement my solution. I like working with my hands. I am so enamored by gadgets and tools that I have one storage room for tools and another one for cleaning supplies!

I now realize that :

  • some of these problems are not really problems and don’t need solutions
  • your first idea is probably not your best idea
  • if you over think something, your ideas can get away from you and lead you down very involved and complicated paths
  • just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it
  • I don’t have to do everything myself even if I can
  • new innovations are not always better
  • maintaining all the gadgets and cleaning tools takes up a lot of time and effort

It was nice to be at the refuge and feel very relaxed. I felt grateful for the people who work for us. They do a great job keeping things tidy, caring for the horses, and watering the plants. I had no compulsion to pull out weeds myself. I just wanted to walk around with the dogs, look at the plants, take pictures of birds, walk, swim, draw, and paint! And that’s what I did!

The Red Keeled Flowerpeckers were very busy in the aratiles trees in front of the cottage

Red Keeled Flowerpecker in the aratiles tree
Red Keeled Flowerpecker

During my morning walk, two Philippine Collared Doves flew in front of me, landed on a nearby tree, and posed for a bit!

Philippine Collared Dove

I was headed back to the cottage with Momo, Lulu, and Ollie when I decided to check out one of the side paths. I was surprised to see something big perched near the ground. I was even more surprised that the 3 dogs listened to me when I told them to just stay beside me while I crouched down to take photos! The dogs were so well behaved! I was able to take many pictures of the Pied Harrier in a variety of poses!

Click on the the photos to see them full screen.

Here are common birds that are just nice to see!

Brown Shrike, a migrant bird
Lowland White Eye
Pied Fantail

Doggie Diary

This is my illustration project starring Momo, Barkley, and Lulu!

June – We are building a new pond in the picnic area. Each time we start a pond, we have hopes of it being bigger than the previous ponds. There’s a lot of space for a big pond, but is there enough time to dig before rainy season starts?

watercolor of Momo in a hat and overalls driving a backhoe
June 2020 – Let’s build this pond!

July – One of the Mangkono seedlings we planted last year has a flower! This is at the planting area near the old bridge. The seedling is still very small. From afar it looked like a rose!

watercolor of Lulu in a dress admiring a small mangkono seedling that is flowering
July 2020 – Lulu admiring the Mangkono flower

August – We went inside the “foresty” part of the refuge to look for ferns! I painted Barkley holding scissors instead of a digging tool! We all had a lot of fun exploring the area and admiring the plants growing by the rocks.

watercolor of Barkley in overalls holding pruning scissors inside a forest with ferns
August 2020 – Not the scissors Barkley!

September – Barkley in the lead, Momo at the rear, Lulu in the middle. More often nowadays Barkley will skip the walk to go swimming instead! Momo still enjoys going for walks. He smells so many interesting things in the grass! I think he can smell the spots where the bigger birds like ducks and rails were hanging out.

watercolor of Momo, Barkely, and Lulu walking through a field of grass
September 2020 – The pack walk

Barkley the Model

When I get frustrated with drawing birds, there’s always Barkley! You can always count on him to take a nice nap during the day. And look really cute while he’s doing it.

Unlike those birds!¬†When I see a bird perched nicely, I grab my sketching gear! Sometimes, the bird is gone by the time I’ve pulled out my sketchbook and pencil. If the bird stays in the area, then it’s a very intense few minutes of looking through the binoculars or scope and sketching and painting.

At the end, I’m always surprised when I look at my sketchbook and see how few bird sketches I’ve made. It always feels like I drew a lot!