Meeting Place

I have taken photos of deer in our area several times before. I have even documented not too long ago, about my “pet deer” who have hang around in my yard for a whole season (see previous post here).

Now that the winter is over, I have more sightings of them again. They are in my lawn to feed….


They come here to rest………


And then one morning, coming back from the gym, I saw that they even use my yard as their meeting place.


How many deer can you see?

(*all photos taken in a span of a week last month)

Ugly Topiary

(topiary |ˈtōpēˌerē|: the art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes.)

It’s officially spring time here, and its time once again to tend the yard and the garden. I have posted before that my wife love topiaries and we have them both inside and outside of our home (see previous post here).

However in our backyard is a line of evergreens that looked like hideously clipped topiaries. Don’t we have the artistic skill to trim them?


However, we are not the one who trim these disfigured shrubs. We’re not thinking our neighbors are vandalizing our plants either, causing this unusual design. In fact, these evergreens are not even intended to be topiaries at all.


Who’s responsible for this art work then? A drunk Edward Scissorhands?

No, it’s the pesky deer!


During winter, when the grass and food is scarce, these evergreen could be a gourmet meal for them. They nibble on what they can reach, leaving the top untouched.


Good thing we don’t have roaming giraffes!

(*photos taken with an iPhone)



Oh My Deer

I thought deer usually roam all their life, like pilgrims or wayfarers that don’t stay in one place. But that is not the case. They can stay in one area for an extended period of time, as long as they have food and they deemed that the area they are in is safe. And I have photos that chronicles this.

It started one morning last summer, when I opened the garage door as I was about to go to work, I saw this deer standing in my lawn near our driveway basketball hoop. She just stood there as our eyes met, as if she’s saying “hello there!” Or maybe it was that deer-in-the-headlight look.


I tried not to scare her, though she ran away as soon as my car pulled out of the driveway. However few days later, I saw her again and this time she brought her family along. There’s three of them.


Since then, like a regular visitor, she comes and greets me.


Her fawn also plays fearlessly in our front lawn.


All summer I spotted them in my yard, all three of them. They are a regular fixture at my place.


Summer turned into fall, but they remained. I even saw them resting comfortably in my yard. You may even think they are decorative statues in the lawn.



Then the cold air came, the leaves have all fallen to the ground, and the grass have turned brown. My sightings of them became few and far between. But they hang around, all three of them.


Finally winter arrived, the arctic wind blew, and the snow fell. For a long time I have not seen them. Days passed. Weeks passed. Two months passed. And there’s no sign of them.

Maybe I was just not going out of the house that much anymore as it is too cold, so I have not spotted them. Though I see tracks in the snow. Or maybe they really have moved away to find food and relocated to a safer haven for this harsh winter. Did they give their final goodbye?

But this morning, they came!


All three of them still. Perhaps telling me, that they’re here to stay. At least for now.

(*all photos taken with an iPhone)

Deer Run

I went out for a run in our neighborhood this morning. It was a beautiful summer day.


As usual, I spotted many deer along the way. But unlike before, where they were too fast and scurried away before I get close, this time they seem to stand still and let me take their photo.



There’s even two in one shot.

IMG_5206Also a mother and her fawn.


Even the rabbits were not bounding away, as I was approaching.



I even stopped to smell the flowers.


Or maybe taking photos was just my excuse to stop and take a breather, in completing my 5-mile run.

And here’s one deer that even crossed my path. I was able to capture it in action.


Just like the slogan of John Deere: nothing runs like a deer. Have a good day!

(*photos taken with an iPhone)


Noong isang umaga, habang ako’y tumatakbo sa aming lugar, ay napadpad ang aking isipan sa lugar na aking kinalakihan. Ang aming kalye ay masikip at ang mga bahay ay dikit-dikit.

Ito ang kalye kung saan ako nanggaling, at ito ang dati naming mga kapitbahay sa Sampaloc, Manila. IMG_1598_3 Hindi lang mga batang paslit ang laman ng kalye kundi may mga lalaboy-laboy na hayop din sa dating naming lugar.

Ito ay mga askal (asong kalye). Kapag sinamang-palad, nagiging pulutan sila ng mga nag-iinuman doon sa kanto. IMG_1595_2 Ngunit iba na ang mundong ginagalawan ko ngayon. Layu-layo ang mga bahay at malalawak ang mga bakuran at bakanteng lupa.

Ito ang isa sa aming kapit-bahay, isang barnhouse, na nasa gawing likod ng aming tahanan dito sa Iowa. IMG_3606 Ito naman ngayon ang mga lalaboy-laboy na usa (deer) sa aming lugar ngayon. Maaring sabihin na mas masarap na pulutan ito kaysa “asosena.” IMG_3642 Kahit paano ay nami-miss ko pa rin ang dati naming lugar at mga kapit-bahay. Maliban sa mga maiingay na lasing doon sa kanto.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Our Family Tree

This post has nothing to do with genealogy or my family’s ancestry. It is about a real tree.

Four years ago, we planted an apple tree in our backyard. It is a 5-in-1 tree. That means it has 5 varieties of apples – Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonathan and Golden Delicious – all grafted into one tree.

Here is a photo right after we planted it. My wife was lovingly trimming it and placing rich soil, fertilizer, and mulch around it.


Due to the many wandering deer in our area, we have to put a fence around our young tree to prevent it from being dinner (or breakfast) for hungry animals. They eat twigs, leaves, and all, not just the flowers or fruits.

Below is a picture when I was putting up a fence around it.


On its second year, it only produced a couple of fruits. They were small, and we did not even had the chance to taste it as they fell to ground before we can even pick them.

After three years it grew much taller that we felt we can liberate it from its protective barrier, so we took out the fence. It also bore more fruits, and this time we were able to taste the produce of our family tree.


Above is a photo of our tree last year. Note that the lower branches were bare, as deer nibbled on them. My son was trying to pick the apples, but it was beyond his reach.

Too high? No problem. He used a ladder!


We were able to picked 5 or 6 apples last year. Not bad at all.

This year our tree really blossomed. Here it is this last spring, full of flowers and full of promise of a bounty harvest.


We had so many budding fruits this early summer that we have counted more than 100 apples.

As summer turned into fall, which is the time for picking, we were unable to harvest them all. Some fell before we can get them. And some simply disappeared. There must be some mysterious apple thieves in our neighborhood, or maybe it was the pesky deer.

Yet there were still plenty of apples left to go around. Here are red apples of the Gala variety in one branch.


Here are the green apples of the Granny Smith variety in another branch.


You can notice that due to its many fruits, the weight of the apples made the branches of our tree stoop low. Thus, making it more reachable for us. And that is so true in life – the more fruitful one gets, the more giving it becomes.

Here’s my daughter picking an apple, way within reach.


We are looking forward to several more fruitful years from our family tree. We are hoping that in the coming years, we would be able to taste all the five varieties of apples from our tree.


I know, this tree will outlive me provided that it is nurtured and cared for. Maybe my children or my children’s children will enjoy its fruits even after I am gone, if they choose to stay in this house. And even if we move out of here, still somebody else will benefit from it. Not a bad legacy, I would say.

Or if tomorrow, our family tree will get bulldozed by a rampaging buck or chopped down by a deranged axman, at least I already immortalized it in the world of blogosphere.

Live, Pray, Run

Many runners regard their endeavor as a religion. They are so devoted that they may be members of the Nike’s Witness, or the Church of Later-day (and Early-day) Runners, or the Cross-Country Faithful, or the 7-day Joggers. Maybe I am a member of this creed.

Then there are other people who treat other things as their religion. Like eating. They perform this as if it is their sole God-given duty. Well, I will not divulge on this subject any further, at least for now.

But why shouldn’t we treat running as spiritual exercise? I mean, literally.


My training for the half-marathon for this fall is in full swing. I have been doing the short runs (3 miles) at least twice or thrice during the week, and one long run (5 miles and increasing by a mile every week) on the weekend. I am currently on 8-mile long run.

That is a lot of time dedicated (or wasted?) on running, you might say. What else can you do with that time?

For me, I use that time to clear my head. Or do some serious thinking too. With the beautiful scenery around me, my creative moments (due to relative lack of oxygen?) come during those runs. I have even composed in my head, snippets or even whole article blogs during those period, and I just have to download it into the computer when I sit down.


But more recently, I have used those times running alone, as my meditation hour – communing with nature and its Creator. We certainly need those quiet moments. Not much talking, but listening.

Not too long ago, during a heat wave in our area, it was so hot that we had a string of 100-degree F days. It was so dry too that we had no rain for weeks, and we were in a drought-like condition, much to the demise of corn and soybean fields here.

Then one morning, as I went out for my run, the surrounding was all wet from the rain the night before. The parched land was soaked with water. It was breezy, cool and refreshing. I was grateful for the rain, as the farmers in our area were as well.

As I was running, I encountered a deer who perhaps was also thankful for the rain. She stood motionless as I passed by, just staring at me.

A thought was impressed on me. “As a deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee.” What a good reminder. To this I add: as a runner panteth for air, so my soul longeth after Thee.

May we all have a blessed week.


(*photos taken with an iPhone during my morning runs)

Life Interrupted

It was a beautiful, clear, crisp November morning. The sun has made its way up in the low horizon. I was scurrying my way to work and just pulled out of my driveway. My car clock said only eight more minutes till eight o’clock, which is the time that my first patient in our clinic was scheduled to be seen that day. But nothing to worry. I would make it on time. Even though my office is 8 miles away from my home, it only take me 10 minutes or less to drive there, as there was no real traffic to talk about.

I was speeding down the lonely but scenic, winding country road from my home to the interstate highway when a deer out of the woods bolted into the road in front of my car to cross to the other side. I had to slam on my brakes hard so not to hit the deer. By the way, this is the stretch of the road that I see a lot of roadkill. Good thing there was no car behind me, nor in-coming vehicle on the other lane, otherwise it could have caused an accident.

But what followed the jumpy deer was six (yes, six!) more anxiously looking deer that dashed across the road a few feet in front of my car. They must be traveling in herds. I had to come to a complete stop to let them all cross to the other side. Now I would be late. Darn deer!

We don’t like being interrupted. Whether it is somebody rudely butting in when we’re speaking, or someone disturbing us when we are quietly meditating, or somebody ruining our set schedule or plans, or deer jumping in front of our way, hindering us.

But was it me that was interrupted by the deer, or was I the one who interrupted the deer’s peaceful existence. By the way, it is mating season for them and they are constantly on the move. (November has the highest incidence for deer-related vehicular accidents, and Iowa is rank #2 among states in the US with the highest car insurance claims relating with deer collisions). Or maybe those deer are running away from someone, as they looked scared, for it is also the peak of hunting season.

As I continued my drive to work, after being unceremoniously stopped by deer, I saw a flock of geese in flight, maybe 10 or more of them, in their beautiful V-formation. Perhaps they were flying south for the winter, as the air had really gone cold here in our area. The harsh winter is coming, so they are fleeing to a much warmer place. But they will be coming back here in spring. That is the cycle of life.

geese in V-formation

As I marvel their majestic flight, the geese suddenly broke out of their orderly V-formation. There was chaotic flapping and confusion that followed. Then I saw one of the geese spiraled downward to the ground.

It took me a moment to realized what I had witnessed. I surmised that a hunter somewhere nearby, perhaps hiding in the fields, had shot the goose and hit it. I am not a hunter, and have no desire to be one, and so my heart goes out to that poor bird who was taken down abruptly out of its flight of passage.

I want to slow down and find out further what happened to the flock of geese, but I was approaching the interstate highway, and besides I was already running late. My view of being interrupted have completely changed in the past few minutes. I cannot shake the sight of that hapless bird plummeting down to its death. Talk about life being interrupted ….. permanently. And I complain just because I was delayed for a few seconds?

I was in deep thought when I was again interrupted when a big semi truck pulled close behind and overtook me on the interstate highway. I then became aware that I was driving slower than the speed limit. That has never happened before.

(*photo from here)