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This is one of my favorite times of the year.

The dust from the frenzy of the new school year has settled. I can expect to enjoy a period of quiet and calm before the arrival of the combo holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas to overfill my plate with their yearly demands.

One of these joys is my backyard. With the kids in school, and the ideal fall temperature, my backyard is often a peaceful sanctuary for me to sip a cup of coffee or to catch up on my reading. Also during this time of the year, three of our four fertile fruit trees yield a generous amount of juicy and delicious fruits.

Our young Jujube tree is covered with jujube fruits.

Our Jujube Tree

A tart tasting fruit that is surprisingly sweet, very nutritious, and loved by my two kids. They are nearly as big as the limes from my prize lime tree.

Jujube vs Lime

Then there are these mouth-watering big sweet pears from our ever-growing Asian pear tree.

Asian Pears

Recently, there is one unexpected problem that made me afraid to go to my own backyard alone.

I saw foxes in my backyard!

Fox in our yard!

My jaw must dropped to the floor the first time I saw it. We don’t live in some rural foothill where such sightings might not be a big deal. I live in a large residential community, where one would think that masses of human civilization has LONG forced such wild animals out of this turf.

The foxes must agreed with me that my backyard is a peaceful sanctuary. I have seen one or two of them in my backyard regularly during the morning, and occasionally in the late afternoons. Once they even brought along a smaller fox. They must be a family with a den nearby.

I observed them often by now. Upon arrival, their first business is to mark “their” territory, which I considered liquid vandalization. Then they lay under the sun to nap. After tanning for about half an hour to an hour, they would disappear.

Next I saw a large skunk hanging out in my backyard about a week ago. The only reason I don’t have a picture to show was because I was afraid to startle it, leaving me with the abhorrent consequences of a smelly backyard.

But it gets even better.

Last Sunday morning, a furious pigeon squawking spoiled our weekend morning routine of sleeping in as late as possible. We cursed those hateful pigeons that occupied the edges of our roof for years, leaving disgusting bird droppings all over the sides of our house and on our cars.

When we opened the front door to go outside, we saw obvious evidence of a pigeon struggle that went horribly wrong for an unlucky pigeon.

“What do you suppose happened here?” I asked no one in particular as I looked at the pigeon feathers in disarray on our front yard.

“Hey! Maybe the foxes got one of them!” I said in great excitement.

“I would love for the pretty foxes to stay if they can get rid of the pigeons for us.” I added. I hate the pigeons.

It wasn’t the foxes.

The real hero came to claim responsibility for the kill the very next morning.

The eagle and its prey in our yard

You saw right. On Monday morning, this large eagle stood all mightily in our backyard with another lifeless pigeon pinned under one of its powerful claws.

“I can’t believe this! What is going on around here?!” me, as I was snapping pictures of it.

The eagle too stood in my “peaceful” backyard sanctuary sunning itself for a long time before devouring its prey before our eyes. When the Eagle flew away, it only left behind feathers, and hardly any traces of blood. I was impressed by its efficiency.

“Maybe the eagles can move into our backyard and eat all our pigeons.” I said wishfully.

“What if the eagles turned out to be an even worse menace than the pigeons?” hubby.

“Then our foxes will move in and eat them.” me.

“And what would you do with a den of foxes in our backyard?” hubby.

“Then a mountain lion will come and eat them.” me.

Could happen…

Related previous post: Our Apple Tree
Father’s Day and a Project

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Not quite a month into the new school year, unexpected trouble started brewing in my 12-year-old’s middle school.

This trouble is unexpected because it came from the area of P.E., yes… as in Physical Education.

A couple of weeks ago, the P.E. teacher started this mile run test, and to earn an A on this test, you will have to complete this mile run in 8 minutes and 30 seconds or less. Apparently, this became a test given weekly, and is threatened to go on FOREVER.

On week one, my kid did 11 minutes and 11 seconds. That earned her a “D”.

On week two, my kid did 11 minutes and 10 seconds. That just barely earned her a “C”.

These grades are a monstrous eyesore on my child’s otherwise Stanford bound worthy online progress reports.

What kind of school lets a silly P.E. class ruin a student’s straight A status!!

I must set this straight, and fast. I came up with a bold strategy: I am going to lead my 12 year old to this eight minute victory! How hard can it be to run a mile in 8 minutes…

Last Saturday, shortly after lunch, I told my 12 year old to suit up in running shoes, and we drove to our middle school’s sandy track field. I chose to run right after lunch, because her PE class is after lunch, when the sun dispenses her strongest heat. We were going to achieve victory together in the same miserable running condition.

As soon as we got to the sandy track field, we wasted no time. My 12 year old set the running clock on her wrist, and off we went.

Sandy Track Field

I set a good pace, we were running side by side, and I was feeling great. Except….That great feeling was extremely short-lived. Ops.

As I passed the second bend on the track, I quickly conceded that running 4 laps in this track would amount to a daunting task. Especially since I could already feel that hollow feeling in my chest, and the air was choked off from my lungs.

My 12-year-old turned to take note of me in my obvious struggle. She had that combo amused and surprised look.

“Hey, don’t wait for me,” I yelled out in between my labored breaths. “You just keep going, and beat 8 minutes 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make 8 minutes. You are the one who needs that 8 minutes.”

The kid was grinning big now, and ran off without me.

Kid left me in the dust

Finally, I made it to the finish line.

“Mom! I beat you by a whole minute.” 12-year-old.

I paced in circles to slow down my heart rate, and said, “Oh, were YOU close to being 8 minutes?”

12-year-old was all giggles, and blurted out, “Mom, your time was 12 minutes and 32 seconds.”

I will admit that I have miraculously overestimated myself before. But this is a parenting disaster!

I just spent all that energy providing my kid with the awesome excuse of inheriting bad running genes from me.

Luckily, I have a better half. I am going to dispatch my husband to lead our 12-year-old to this 8 minute mile run next weekend.

We are so getting an “A” in P.E.

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