Welcome to Nature's Cottage!

Thank you for dropping by. I'm not quite sure what exactly this blog will be yet. Join me in our journey of evolving!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


A couple days ago I discovered a hive of Apis Dorsata bees hidden in the skirt of one of a trio of our trees.
(Sorry I just have a low-class, ancient camera) I took this shot while squatting on the ground.  It actually isn't that high. I'm about 5'2 and the swarm is about level with my head. If I walked under the tree I'd get bees (and stings!) on my head.

Here's a closer look :

Nature's Cottage Apis Dorsata
While the swarm looks relatively small, it's actually quite a nice sized swarm.  It's about 2.5 feet wide and about 2 feet long. 

I've been watching them every chance I get.  They're beautiful insects.  I grew up with bees (melliferas) and through the years of caring for them and watching them, I have so much more to learn and am constantly amazed by the bees. I've noticed that most of these bees have just been clinging onto each other and clinging onto the branch. Almost unmoving except for the lower portion of the swarm, where a bunch of the worker bees fly in, do their bee dance, bring in pollen and nectar (there's a lot now), then fly off again.  I've been watching and hoping to get a glimpse of a drone of theirs- or, even better, their elusive queen.  They allow me to stand about a foot away from them and don't get irritated by my presence. 

All the Dorsatas I've seen here are black and white, unlike the ones in other Asian countries.  As far as  know, as of year 2005 or so - no one has ever seen the queen bee of the Apis Dorsata because they're quite hard to study.

Here's a photo of my apis mellifera's:

I took this photo at noon time.  They were feeling rather hot and decided to move out of the house for a while.  It's a first time for me to be taking care of bees in the heat.  I'm used to caring for them in much cooler weather. There's a few things to get used to but generally it's not all that different after all. 

On a side note, it's raining right now, and this is just what I've been praying for.  We haven't had rain for about two weeks now and everything's gotten so dry.  I just helped my friend prep her garden this afternoon for planting tomorrow- so here's to hoping that it will rain again soon! Nice to "smell rain" again.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Get activated

There are many things I'd like to write about. I have to write about the lessons from ants-how it's all been, and well- just everything.  But I'll start off with my week.  What a week it's been!

I did two trainings at Red Cross this week- BLS-CPR for Healthcare providers, and Standard First Aid. It was all good fun. We just finished today. My co-teachers and I (we're all good friends) took the courses together since it was mandatory for us to become certified first aiders for the yoga asana course... and as teachers, parents, friends or citizens, it's always good to be prepared.

We had a full day of tests- CPR stuff, bandaging, carries, etcetera.  Then as part of our final exam- there was a simulated disaster. I ended up being a victim- a corpse actually. I had some big rocks near my head (which had apparently hit my head and caused my death) and lots of "blood" was poured all over me.  We had our training near the beach so there I was, face on the sand, pretending to be dead.

It was a rather hilarious scene in a sense that my team mates- i.e. the other people who took the course, were totally panicking.  They kept coming up to me and shaking me and asking if I was alive or not.  Of course I was instructed to play dead so I was just lying there for the longest time.  I was the last one to be taken up since I was the "dead" victim.  But for a real life scenario, I know I would be totally rattled myself.

It's definitely a huge responsibility and challenge to be any sort of rescuer or anything of the sort.  More often than not, life plays out worse scenarios than we can possilby think of as possible until they happen.  When they happen, there are those of us who either crumble under the pressure and intensity of the event, or - who are able to react and move with clarity of mind and perspective and do whatever we have to do without losing the plot.  I salute those people who are able to do this.  Thank you for what you do!

Anyhow... so here I am, finally re-trained with the updated CPR and first aid techniques. I'm planning to sign up as a part time volunteer at Red Cross.  They're a great organization to work with.  Gotta love the selfless spirit in the service they offer to anyone in need.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's in the name?

I know some people who not only did not take their husband's last name, but also made it so that the kids didn't carry their dad's last name. In this regad, Sam is definitely not one of those open minded men. One conversation we had long ago I half joked and asked if I could keep my own name- rather than his family name which is hard to say (it means bush in French). Needless to say, he wasn't too happy about it.  I bowed out easy out of that and said I would take his name.  It's a relatively small thing. 

I'm not quite sure about why he- and a lot of other men are very sensitive about it.  I guess they just get some pride in spreading their name around.  If I were a guy I don't think I'd really care that much.  I guess I'm just used to living and being simple and naive in so many ways. Sometimes I'm surprised at how guys react to certain things.  Maybe I'm just simple.  Maybe I'm just naive or down right stupid.  I'll let things go quite easily though.  Imagine saying, "We cancelled our 3 year engagement because she didn't want to take on my name".  Doesn't say too much about our relationship.

So what's in the name?  Is it just some people who go through this or is this more or less common these days?  Did you have arguments or at least disagreements about this topic?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A day of remembrance

In honor of all the people who lost their lives on 9/11 several years ago, - may you all rest in peace and be happy in your lives.  For those who lost loved ones or friends, my condolences. 

I was but a teenager when it happened. Asleep on my top-bunk bed.  Phone rings- my mom goes out of her room and picks it up.  I hear her on the phone- tones of disbelief.  Soon the television is on and we can hear reporters.  The second tower has been hit.  A few minutes later we're all glued to the television set, shocked.  Watching the heart wrenching videos of people either being blown out of or jumping out of the buildings. 

There's danger in every step. Love the people around you- like, truly love them.  You never know what will come.  Better be prepared.

For all those who tirelessly worked to save others- whether they still live or died trying, I salute and pray for you.  I think what makes horrible memories very much worth remembering are the people like you. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time passes me by

A Taiwanese friend of my parents' came over to visit us recently.  I learned my first chinese words from her little boy (then 2 years old).  It was the first time I met her (I was 12 I think) and her boy- and she said, "I'm going shopping with your mom. If he says 'niǎo niǎo' that means he needs to pee.  If he says 'dàbiàn' that means he needs to poo."  Thankfully all he said was "niǎo niǎo" when his mom was out.  Then he dropped his toy airplane in the toilet and refused to leave until we got it out! :p  Anyhow, he was a very energetic little boy - and very pleasant so he was always fun to be around. I saw him almost every year until he was 5 after that.  Then he started school and I didn't see him for many years- until a few days ago.

He's now a 15 year old- half a foot or so taller than I am.  Quiet and skinny (so unlike his loud chubby self) - I don't think he even remembers me.  I was happy to see them.  I used to babysit a little girl along with him- they were partners in crime.  Now she's way taller than I am as well.  Where has all the time gone?

I used to always say, "Old places, old faces, I'd rather keep."  But things happened- and more often than not, I'm happy to be looking forward.  There's a time in my life I'd rather forget. 

There are times I stop and wonder how or when I turned 24.  When did I get engaged?  The years have just zipped past since I was a teenager.  And that's a very good thing in a way. 

So whats up with me today?  I've got a full day teaching.  I've been so excited about my bees. I went to peep at one of them today and got stung on my earlobe.  I was asking for it though- what else could I expect? I had no veil on, no smoker.  It was early.  Duh.

Have a nice day everyone.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


We're faced with choices everyday.  What we choose determines the direction we'll end up.  One of my favorite Chinese proverbs says just that: "Choose a habit, determine your destiny".  So true.

I've been an aching, regular pain-in-the-butt person to my WBH for a while.  Here he is: jumping around.
  Not all the time- but quite often.  I felt like he'd only call or email or sms me if I did first.  I felt like I was basically just dragging him along.  I did initiate our relationship- so sometimes I'd just feel really terrible, like things weren't working out and wouldn't work out.  We haven't seen each other for nearly 2 years (Sept 26, 2008 was the last time we saw each other) and sometimes the time, the distance just makes it tougher.  I have to accept what he says as true.  I have to trust.  I have to trust that he hasn't gotten married or had a string of girl friends while he's been gone.  I have to trust that he really made the choice to commit to me- and I have to trust that he's really coming back.  Honestly, it's not been easy.  But here we are, nearly three years of being engaged and being several thousand miles away from each other- thanks to Skype

Anyhow, sometimes I would be fuming at him. Fuming that he didn't come on. Fuming that he never texted. Fuming that it's so hard to get him to answer emails. Hurt that he'd say I'm like a "wall", being very "difficult" and "annoying" and that I was wasting his time when we'd actually get to talk.  That hurt me a lot too.  I've cried more times than I can count and thought long and hard about the choice I've made to marry him.  It was easy to make the choice based on just what I've known him as (besides, my dad approved!), but it's been hard to accept my choice knowing how different our plans are.

I often ask myself, "Will I be regretting this choice? Aren't I a fool to give up being around everyone and everything I've loved and all those who've loved me and stood by me for this one person?"  And often the answers do not come.  I'd cry and pray, and pray.  A few days ago my prayers and questions were answered.  I had a good, long talk with a wonderful friend and mentor of mine.  She was reminding me that we make choices everyday- and we can make the choice to either have relationships which are happy, thankful, and actually based on love - or have relationships which are in the guise of love- but are actually just filled with lust, jealousy, anger, and resentment.  She was telling me how many people like to give their friends or partners the "cold treatment"- but if they really loved that other person- would they actually want them to suffer in that way through their "cold treatment"?

We spoke about many things.  But after that I was feeling ashamed of myself.  Ashamed for doubting. Ashamed for being so cold and really like a wall at times.  Ashamed for thinking so many bad things about different people.  I want to live a life of real love, of real happiness- where I can actually love and care for others without needing them.  I want to have relationships with other people which will last and which are not based on how good they look or how they treat me now or later.  With prayers- my choice shall be blessed and will become a reality.

Ps. I was especially ashamed of how I've behaved when I talked to WBH and apologized about how cold I'd been so often.  Of course I know he's got his faults and quirks- but so do I.  I'm lucky and thankful for him.  (Hopefully we make the right choices so that 10, 20, 30 etc years down the road we can still be saying this!) 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Something to Buzz About

I've been puzzling over where the idiot-friendly bar for posting blog entries went.  I have a bunch of photos I've been wanting to post.  Now that I've found it again, (what an idiot I am!) I'll get to it.

It was a beautiful day here for us.  First sunny day in two weeks or so.  It's been raining so much.
Our bees were happy today. They just felt a little hot, as you can see here:

Bees are some of the most amazing creatures in nature.  I've been learning how to take care of them since I was a young girl, and there's still so much to learn.  I've always been convinced that almost all (if not all) lessons in life can be learned in nature.  As a teacher, this is something I always try to imbibe in my classes to help kids develop a good sense of awareness and appreciation for the environment.  

Spending time in nature is so much more calming and fun than being bombarded by the radio, tv, cell phones, the invisible Wifi (not that I'm against WIFI) and just being overwhelmed by everything.  Nature is nurturing after all.  On a side note, Richard Louv wrote an excellent book on how being in nature affects kids- or on the other hand- how raising kids out of nature spells disaster. I highly recommend his book, "Last Child in the Woods" to any parent or teacher. It's helped me understand many things about the children today and how to help them learn better.

 Wishing you well,
Nature's Blogger

Ps. I'm glad nobody died in the New Zealand quake. My WBH-Sam and the rest of his family are fine. Condolences to the people who lost their loved ones/friends in that sky-diving plane that crashed yesterday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Look Into Myself

I'm quite very ashamed of myself today. Actually, I often feel ashamed of myself when I look at things in retrospect. It's almost like most of the time- I act without a brain. (I hope my students don't read this! They'd gladly agree :D) It can be really infuriating.

Speaking of infuriating, that's very much what Sam, my might be husband if nothing goes wrong fiance has been thinking about me. Some of my students are constantly infuriated with me as well. Can't please everyone right? The good thing about being a teacher or at least just getting off the computer and talking to people is that- well, we get challenged.

I get challenged all the time by different people- be it the policeman down the road, my neighbor, different students, my parents, my friends, strangers, etc. And when I am infuriated with someone else, it brings to light what I often don't want to see- my own faults.

Dealing with Sam can be really infuriating sometimes. And sometimes I can only hang my head in shame seeing how horrible a person I am. When I'm with my parents - I basically feel that, well, I've done so much wrong. I have no more face left. The only reason I may have face left is because, well- they love me despite the many silly and stupid things I've done.

In the eyes of others, I see myself. Unfortunately, most of the time I don't like to see what I am seeing. But I will not run and hide. I will pray and work and pray to change and become a better person.