30 Jun 2012


He was sitting alone, looking out towards the ocean when I spotted him. He was in his own world some 150 to 200  meters below me, away from the maddening weekend crowd. I was walking the tourists bridge with many other people who stopped to take pictures of themselves, to chat, to laugh and just to enjoy the view of the ocean.

Yet, by instinct he suddenly turned up towards me, and looked me in the eye, his gaze bold and confident. He knew I was watching him. Such is the power of God given instinct, that he was able to "feel" me despite the large crowd around me.

It is strange to describe to you, how in that moment we connected for a while. I saw his boldness, his survival instinct, his non conformity. I sensed that he  knew that he was "untouchable", indomitable.

I know not what he saw in me, if only I could read his mind.

Anyway, intrigued by his "aloneness" and confidence, I snapped a photo of him. Then he decided that no, he was not to be disturbed today. So he got up,

and sauntered confidently, slowly, away into some dark corner between the rocks, somehow knowing that I was still watching him. Born wild, born free. Not a care about what others think of him.

~How do you feel about being alone in public, let's say dining at a restaurant alone or being alone at a party? Are you able to be yourself, confident? Or are you conscious "fearing" that others may think you're a loner without friends? When I was a child, being alone carried a negative stigma thus people always wanted to be in the "in" crowd, to be popular. A loner was often teased.

Do you turn down invites to gatherings and stuff because you are afraid to be alone in a crowd?

As for me, this is my struggle, and I'm still working on it. Perhaps that's what drew me to that cat.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


27 Jun 2012

6 months since I last painted (Wild orchid)

6 months since I last painted, can you imagine! When there are tight schedules and routine, there's just no motivation to paint at all. During the recent break, I wanted to show the kids how to paint. We went outdoors, and took time to paint.
This is not perfect, and I did not have the patience as I did before. Perhaps the mind is just too tired to focus. Anyway it is a watercolour sketch, done in under 2 hours.
Hope it doesn't take 6 months before I paint again.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012

23 Jun 2012

The Unnoticeables- Through the Eyes of My Children

Have you ever stopped to watch a snail or a millipede cross the road? Or shushed up a while and really, really listened carefully to the rhythmic chirping of the crickets at night?  Have you noticed the funny way a Minor bird walks and moves its head? Did you stop to listen to it make funny "knocking" and "quacking" sounds? Have you taken time to walk with your children and look at the world through their eyes?

I  fondly recall days when I used to go for long walks with my toddler holding my hand, and a baby tucked warmly in my "sarong". Those were walks much needed to stop the crying of  my colicky baby, to melt my stress away and to use up the pent up energy of my toddler. Those walks opened my eyes to the wonders of nature, through the eyes of my child.

Yes, I have stopped to watch the millipede cross the road, listened and analyzed the rhythm of the crickets, watched and giggled at the minor bird and  all because my children told me to stop, observe and listen. My children have taught me to appreciate the beauty of little things that we so often ignore and pass by without a glance. They taught me to see that beauty is everywhere around us.

Some shots below, inspired by my children, plus some quotes I found online.

Katydid on a purple weed

 A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. ~Doug Larson

Seeds on a journey to find new ground

"Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring..." Henri Frederic Amiel


In the heart of a flower

These tiny bells look just like an ordinary weed to a passerby, but up close, it holds so much beauty.

I didn't want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature. ~Wynn Bullock.
My child, Jo, often stops to pick weeds for me. She gives them to me with love often saying "I love you mum, flowers for you." I accept these weeds with joy, for through her eyes, these are beautiful as roses. (Notice some wind blown seeds hanging on to this weed.)

A weed is no more than a flower in disguise, Which is seen through at once, if love give a man eyes. ~ James Russell Lowell

Oh the joy when my children find one of these. My children would huff and puff with all their might to see if these would fly.

 “To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these ar” John Burroughs

Believe it or not, my children have even taught me to notice the variety and wonders of the snail world. :) They pick them up, examine the snails thoroughly, poking and prying with their little fingers sometimes while ooing and aahing.

Finally, here's something I noticed  on my own. A lonely rose at dusk. I'd walked by this rose many times, and because I'm not a big fan of roses (but of sunflowers) I'd just glance briefly and nod in acknowledgement  when my children point out it's vibrant colour in the morning.
 But one evening while walking alone I saw it at dusk...and it had a beautiful glow, which I couldn't really capture with my camera. But I saw beauty and it struck something within me. I'm not sure what it is....but perhaps ...I do know, but I'll keep those thoughts to myself.

Finally just a few quotes I found.
 There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. ~Jean-Paul Sartre

I  mean, it is an extraordinary thing that a large proportion of your country and my country, of the citizens, never see a wild creature from dawn 'til dusk, unless it's a pigeon, which isn't really wild, which might come and settle near them.~(David Attenborough)

Human rights are not a privilege granted by the few, they are a liberty entitled to all, and human rights, by definition, include the rights of all humans, those in the dawn of life, the dusk of life, or the shadows of life.~(Kay Granger)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


19 Jun 2012

Trekking Maxwell Trail with Children

Last year I wrote a post about trekking Pine and Bishop Trail where we came across Balanophora most parts of Pine trail and heard the call of the Gibbons for most of Bishop trail and saw an impressed tortoise. This year we trekked both again, Pine (only halfway) and Bishop continuing into Maxwell.
Seen along Pine Trail...thorn like growth (galls) on leaves.

A viper found under fallen tree branches on Pine.
Maxwell Trail (about 2 km)

Initially we had only planned to trek Bishop, but when we got to the midway point where you turn right to exit, we had a desire to see the forbidden Maxwell trail. I call it forbidden coz everytime I approach information counter, they tell me the trail's been closed and we knew it might be risky with six children aged between 3 and 10.

But our children are the tough sort, who've experienced many trails and so we decided to go for it!

Along Maxwell trail there are many varieties of ferns such as the one seen below. They come in different patterns and colours. I even saw pink ones. Lovely!

Most of the trail is dark, dense with huge, tall trees. The ground we trod on was mostly very muddy because of the rain the day before. Very soon we realised that the horror tails of hungry, huge, blood sucking leeches were very true indeed. Every 10 to 20 minutes we'd throw off between 5 to 10 leeches from our shoes and socks. The brave children did the same.

At one time, fighting too many leeches, I saw Jo's mouth beginning to twitch downwards at the corners. I went up to her and said "High 5 for those who've fought off more than 5 leeches!" Immediately all the kids came up to me and we high fived. I proclaimed them brave warriors, adventurers and overcomers! haha... They trekked on very bravely indeed, pulling off leeches, as if they were no more than some chewing gum.

Well, there wasn't a sound of Gibbons or a trace of the Impressed tortoise which we saw the last time, still the group continued.

I thought this a beautiful picture, a little leaf protected by 2 huge ones on the side.

Aside from the many many leeches seen waving at us or crawling onto us or dropping on our arms along the way!!, we met many obstacles. There were some narrow paths with loose soil, where the only way to continue was to cling on to the rope and carefully cross over. Our children who were fast, went first. And as I crossed each obstacle I wondered aloud "Wow,.....how did the children  cross this without our help?" Well, never underestimate children. A lot of times they are tougher than us, more nimble in feet, stronger and braver than us.

Sometimes we had to call out to them to stop, and we meant it. It is frightening knowing some people have lost their way on this trail before.

Here Ad is crawling beneath a fallen tree to continue trekking.

Lil Josh, only 5, trekking by himself.

At one point, the trek became very dense and the group came to a complete halt. The path had been covered by overgrown shrubs and grass leaving very little of the trail. We had to decide whether to turn back or continue. To turn back meant going back through the many obstacles we've crossed. The brave children decided to try the almost closed path.

They went ahead and after a while shouted "We're almost through, come on." And so we continued, and I regretted wearing shorts then, as the itchy shrubs scratched against my legs.

Aud and Jo searching for a path between the overgrown plants that covered the path.

Finally we came to a slight clearing, a welcomed change from the dark forest we've been trekking, and this was the view we saw.

We continued through the path and encountered many more obstacles such as the one below..

Fallen bamboo plants. No way over, except to crawl under this "tunnel" of fallen bamboos. We were careful to watch for snakes.

More fallen trees here, and Jo climbed a boulder to find her way over the fallen trees before jumping down towards the path.

Here's Dylan who grabbed on to some vines before leaping off the boulder onto the trail, which we found out later, was a wrong path.

Not wanting to admit they were wrong, Dylan and Nel continued through the dense trees (already near the end), and found their way to the road. They made it through, we did it, all our children and us. I'm proud of them. :)

Some interesting fungi found on the path

As large, wait...larger than my head!

Such a beautiful combination don't you think?

This here was larger than 2 of my hands put together

I loved the way this is patterned almost like some sort of musical instrument
Very huge beautiful trees along the path
I call this Nature's Collage. A beautiful combination of colours.

This marked the end of the trail.
This here is a mark left by the leech on Dylan's feet.

Leech bites
As for me and leeches, I thought I'd escaped them and was the winner. Well then I saw 2 patches of blood on my shorts. They bit me good. One on the left thigh, and the other on the right. Another behind the calf and one more on the arm. The bites on my thighs left and incredible itch (and swelling) that irked me for a good whole week!

Still, we enjoyed the trail. The children enjoyed the obstacles (and leeches, they claim) but would not trek it again the next day again when asked. haha... :)

I think Maxwell is a lovely trail with interesting plants, insects and birds to see. Throughout we didn't see a single soul on the trail. Perhaps a little clearing to the dense, closed sections of the trail might inspire some to trek the trail in the future.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


14 Jun 2012

Jo's Bird Story (and bird pics from Frasers Hill)

After our recent trip to Frasers Hill where we went bird watching and looking for insects, Jo asked if we could study about birds.

Since I didn't have much material on me, except for the Frasers and South East Asia bird guide, we looked through some online sites and learnt just a little on birds today. We learnt the meaning of  Ornithologist, what they do, and ways that are used to trap birds for study. We also read a little about habitats, birds of South East Asia and read up about a few distinct species of birds.

Then we looked at some bird videos and poems about birds, and really liked a video featuring the Bobolink and its sound. Kids giggled and asked why the bird looked so incredibly cute and angry. :)

Well, inspired, Nel decided to write a poetry on birds (Still work in progress) while Jo whipped up a short story in a minute. Just sharing her very short story here, and her illustration. Hope you enjoy it. :)

There the above was done in a very few minutes. The lazy bird is the one with the red messy hair, while the hard working bird is blue and dressed in a tie. :)
To end, here are just a few of the many birds we spotted in Frasers Hill.
 Mountain Bulbul, Chestnut Capped Laughing Thrush (on top), lower pictures - Long tailed Sibia and Fire Tufted Barbet.

We also potted this bee feeding on a dead bird 

Yup, so the plan to continue with the bird unit, hopefully by building our own bird feeder, more bird watching, bird stories, flight etc.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


11 Jun 2012

A Walk with Dylan (Frasers Hill)

Being the person that I am, I love escaping back to nature to recharge. 

In Frasers Hill this week, I revisited the many paths that I’ve trekked  with my girls Nel and Jo. We’ve been on these nature walks ever since my children were born. On every walk I’d point out different things to them, such as the vibrant colours of nature, insects, spiders, slugs, birds, the sounds of the wind, sounds of the wild. Then there came a time, where I’d take them on walks, and their little sharp eyes and heart in tuned with nature began to spot the wonders of God's creation and soon they were pointing out to me things in nature with great excitement.

This trip, though initially I’d planned to go alone just with my two girls, somehow, joyfully we were accompanied by Jessy’s family, a family of 8. Still every morning I’d escape for my alone time, just me and my camera.

One of those mornings  towards the end of our long stay, I awoke early as usual and was about to escape on my "alone walk", when I saw a pair of eyes looking at me. It was Dylan who was up early. Deciding a child's company would be delightful, I asked “Wanna walk with me?”

He nodded and so we went.  I wanted to show him  stuff I’ve showed my girls so many times. It was a very very cold morning, and several times I told Dylan to just stop, listen to the powerful wind howling between the trees and embrace the cold with deep breaths. We watched and listened amazed! He definitely was by the look on his face.  :)

Then barely 20 minutes into the walk he asked “Can we turn back? I don’t think my legs can take this anymore after all the trekking we did yesterday.”  (we trekked 3.6km through very dense forest just the day before.)

“Well Dylan, you could walk back another 20 minutes, or you could complete the trail. We’re nearly at the end,” I lied.  *grin*
 And then I added, “Besides, Dylan, little Jo who’s younger than you, has made it round this loop many times, surely you’re stronger than her?”

This kicked up his little budding manly ego and he proceeded with a sudden surge of strength. :)

We stopped as I pointed out to him spiders, birds and insects. I even placed a huge beetle on Dylan’s shoulders to his utmost horror, but because he didn’t dare to disobey me, he quietly obliged a photo, his face scrunched up in fear. Haha…
The beetle I placed on Dylan's shoulder
Then Dylan spotted a chipmunk who was as curious about us, coz it came right out on the branch and looked from Dylan to me, and back to Dyl.  This continued for a good 5 minutes at least. 
We  then continued walking and on his own Dylan started to notice lots of chipmunks and squirrels.

“Why is it that all I can spot are squirrels and nothing else?” asked Dylan.

“Well…coz that’s what you’re looking for and if you want to spot insects you need to look carefully into the bushes and leaves. I’m looking for birds, so I’m not really noticing the thousands of insects that live here. Tell you what, why don’t you look for insects, and I’ll pay you 50 cents for every unique one you spot, ” I offered.

What ensued was a discussion about the differences between insects and spiders. And so we talked. Well..Dylan really wanted to earn money to buy his siblings and my girls ice cream, so he worked hard. His eyes magically opened and he began to notice a host of things, from the uniqueness of flowers to spiders to insects. What joy :).

 In the end, he earned RM5 from me, which he was very pleased with, and I really enjoyed my little company that morning walk, which lasted a good 2 and half hours!   *wink*
At the end of it all, this gentleman Dylan came up to me and said “Thanks for inviting me Aunty Martha. I really enjoyed it. Thank You.”

Well Dylan, thank you for walking with me, for being my little helper at spotting things. I enjoyed your company very much indeed. :)

Dylan running to check out birds
 We looked up at the misty sky and trees, listened to the wooshy washy sounds of the strong winds

 At one point we saw a jogger going bare foot and decided to give it a try. I liked it, Dyl didn't.
Spotted this spider and showed it to Dylan who went "Wow!!"

Now then, here are the items which Dylan spotted to earn his 5RM. Initially he was just suppose to spot insects. But he managed to sweet talk me into accepting flowers too! haha..:)

 This was the icing, the final thing he spotted just before we arrived at the end. :)

My other post on Frasers Hill found here.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012

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