Simply Silence

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa

view-from-the-Piper-House-2-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A view that no photo can capture… a perfect snowy night. 2/2015

Since it’s Friday, and my days have been filled with a lot of heavy, I wanted to step back and reflect.   Today, I awoke in the early morning hours to find another dusting of snow blanketing the world outside.  Gazing out the window, trying to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I was instantly warmed with nostalgic memories and a serene feeling.  All from watching the snow sit still among the darkness?  Absolutely!

It’s funny, just the other day, dad commented that he loved the late evenings, in the middle of winter, when everything is covered in snow and is at rest.  I’m paraphrasing for he probably said something along the lines of, “I always liked this.”  But I knew exactly what he meant.  He’s right, that time of day is the best!  Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve always held an affinity for those qualities to grace me with their presence.  That’s one of my favorites during hunting season, the dark hours, snow hiding all details of nature, and the silence that seems to accompany that exact moment.  I love it!

Last week, while I was trimming the blueberry bushes and the grape vines at mom and dad’s house, I let the dogs run around in the snow (mom and dad live in the country).  With the frigid days, our four-legged pals were suffering horribly from cabin fever, and I knew they needed to stretch their legs.  It was in the twenties, with little to no windchill, the sun was brightly shining overhead, and the yard had a healthy dose of snow.  All perfect conditions for playtime.

Well, naturally, I got involved in my work and unbeknownst to me, all three dogs made their escape, and decided to go on a walk about.  I never know if I should be insulted when they make plans without me, or happy because they’re getting exercise, but regardless, they made a break for it.  When the boys and Avery pull this stunt without adult supervision, there’s a 50/50 chance it will end well.  Although, on a good note, my cat, Storm, a.k.a. Lady Fluffington, had a blast running around the snow and climbing up on the grape arbor without the dogs chasing her around.  Luckily, we had the tracker on Avery, but it soon died and lost connection with our delinquents.

Backyard-View-2-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Love the silence of the night, covered in snow! 2/2015

Anyway, after some time, I layered up and headed out to follow their tracks before it got dark.  Just as I approached the middle of the woods, a few miles out, I received a call from dad saying the hounds were back.  What?  It was now getting really dark and I knew dad had the fireplace blazing for them, yet, here I was stuck hiking through snow, in the middle of nowhere, while everyone warmed up and relaxed!  Did I mention, there were a ton of coyote tracks all around me, and in the distance I saw a fresh deer hide ripped to shreds?  Kinda scary, only because I didn’t have my pistol and my phone was ready to die, but then again I really didn’t care.

To be honest, I didn’t mind being in the woods, or even being in the woods with darkness hot on my heels.  Actually, it was a relaxing point in time, a moment of not worrying, for the dogs were safe, Kyle was accounted for, and I didn’t need to be anywhere, or do anything at that particular juncture.  My mind wasn’t racing and I wasn’t in a hurry.  In fact, I was were I needed to be at that point in time.  It was hovering in a state of simple silence and peace.  When was the last time you felt that?  God took a potentially bad situation, and blessed me with the complete opposite.

Did I care it was now dark among the trees?  No, actually I didn’t.  When I was little, Ryan, our cousins, some of our friends and myself (Nicole would sometimes make her appearance), would run through the woods all night long, mostly during the summer months and sometimes on the weekends in autumn, especially during Halloween.  We’d either play war and corn each other, explore and go on adventures, or simply scare each other.  It was our childhood, and the woods were our playground.

While walking back, the only sounds I heard was the soft crunching of snow under my feet, and the slight wind blowing past me, rustling loose branches and causing the treetops to clap.  The moonlight reflected just enough light from the snow to guide my way.  Everyone once in a while, I’d stop to take it all in, all the benevolence of nature.  I’d like to think Ryan was walking with me, for he too loved the woods and winter time.

Always try to look on the good side of any situation, for God always reveals a gem of delight found in silence among the noise and chaos.  Happy Friday!

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Fighting For What’s Right

Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.  ~Oscar Wilde

Kyle-in-Halo-Aunt-Heather-Piper 2011

This says it all!  Kyle sporting a halo at our cousin Lee’s wedding. 2011

This is not a finger pointer, but a way to realize what needs fixed for Kyle’s well-being.

I’m not a perfect person, not even close, nor did I ever claim to be.  There are many, many people who can attest to that.  Sure, usually my methods for handling certain situations are a bit abrasive and direct, especially when it comes to Kyle.  However, at least I’m not passive aggressive, and I’m always honest, usually brutally. (If the true can’t be handled then perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and make some adjustments.)  However, it’s no secret to where I stand with Kyle, for I’m not shy about my thoughts and showing that he’s a priority.

Believe it or not, I’m actually a pretty easy going person, except when it comes to Kyle’s well-being.  I’m well aware that these young teenage years shape and develop traits to strengthen his adult character, or they can be a detriment and hinder him in the long run.  Kyle’s early learning structure is pretty stellar, but molding a kid doesn’t stop when he wants all the freedom in the world at thirteen.  I’m talking about the big three, mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

This past Sunday, which started out as me picking up Kyle for church, turned into a big, almost silly, blowout.  (It’s silly now that it’s over, but not at the time.)  Granted, Kyle wasn’t totally to blame, I played my part, as well as others.  I won’t rehash the long drawn out scenario, but I would like to point out the good that came from this potentially lethal situation, actually a few positive key points and the solutions we agreed upon.  Kyle is a good kid, and I plan on keeping it that way!

First, Kyle claims all I do is yell at him.  Probably true, but if anyone had to deal with Kyle’s attitude, and to top it off by listening to his whining and back-talking all the time, I believe even Mother Teresa would raise her voice, too.  Secondly, Kyle believes that he can never do anything right by me.  Not true, in fact I make it a point to complement him and encourage him when does good, but I won’t sugar coat his actions or behavior when the opposite is true.

Kyle-hiking-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle getting ready for a hike, this time minimal arguments as long as he had his iPod & his trusty walking stick. 2012

Personally, some of these issues are real, but his emphasis on the severity and number of instances aren’t.  Kyle’s pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.  Seriously!  He’s gotten really good at playing the martyr.  He’s so dramatic!

Example, if I tell Kyle he’s kicked off of his video games for a half an hour because he played for four hours straight, he’ll respond with the usual whine and arguing.  Then, his time-out is such a traumatic experience.  He’ll poor it on thick to anyone who’ll listen to how he’s not allowed to play his videos games for the entire day!  When in reality it’s only a half an hour.  Did I mention he claims he’s not allowed to do anything during that time, even though I suggest a game of chess or a walk.  Yes, according to Kyle, he’s in prison serving hard time.  Think I’m kidding?  Not even close.  This is what Kyle does to get his own way, and work everyone to the dark side.  Who wants to deal with this?  It’s not right, and I won’t tolerate it.  Sadly, no one sees his stunts or if they do, they continue to cater to his whims to avoid an argument.  Not me!

Let’s discuss Kyle’s grades.  They’re not terrible, but I know he can do better, and I won’t stand back and accept skimping by.  I hold him accountable.  Why?  Because I believe in him, and I know he’s smarter than what his grades reflect.  However, he’ll argue and claim other.  I have faith in my little man and praising his grades is basically saying, “You’re not that smart, and I accept your half-way attempt.”  Nope!  Did you know he told my sister he knew he was slacking a little, and he needed to buckle down?  Yes!  Those were his words after he made excuses for his grades.  I appreciate his honesty, but I knew it!  There are so many more instances, I won’t even elaborate on.

When discussing my situation with a good friend of mine, who has a nephew a few years younger than Kyle, it was discovered that she had the exact same problem, almost word for word.  While describing Kyle’s behavior, she said it was an exact replica to her own behavioral situations with her nephew, exactly, down to every drama moment.  What are the common denominators to this behavior?  Both kids eat junk, play hours upon hours of videos games, get no exercise, and basically have little to no structure.

Trying to get this under control and do right by Kyle, I don’t assume I have all the answers, but I will find an expert who does.  I  consulted another friend of mine, who’s a school psychologist!  Perfect!  She handles children’s behavioral problems on a daily basis.  I explained the entire scenario.  Her solution?  Reward with good behavior.  I agree!  If Kyle does good, then a reward is called for.  But what?  My initial friend, mentioned earlier with her nephew, and I tried to brainstorm ideas.  You know what conclusion we came to?  There’s nothing!  No, seriously.  These kids have way too much, and that takes away the opportunity to treat them, or surprise them.  Ultimately, they are rewarded all the time for bad behavior.

This is a poor example, but one that came to mind.  When I was a kid, we were never allowed fast food, only when we went to the doctors as a treat.  Not that fast food or even food should be a reward, but I can’t even use that because his off days, Kyle’s usually filled with junk. (We always cook three meals a day and most of it is raised or butchered by our own hands.  Although my parents do sneak in garbage every once in a while.)  If I gave Kyle another video game, I’m fueling the fire for spending more time on those mind sucking animations that create laziness, and that started this miserableness with the kid.  (I try to teach moderation.)  Money?  Forget it!  I tried to have Kyle work for my company, Thrill of the Hunt entering data, and I paid him.  He wanted nothing to do with it.  Why?  Because if he wants money to go to the movies or to buy something, he simply asks for it and it appears.  He’s not stupid, he’s working the system.

kyle's-9th-birthday-7-24-10-Aunt-Heather-Piper

For Kyle’s 9th birthday, I bought him flying lessons. It was a fun day! 7/24/10

Yes, at this point, anyone with any common sense is realizing the real problem at hand.  It may result with Kyle, but it doesn’t stem from him.  This is what’s causing friction between us.  I don’t, and I will never buckle to the kid, even if it’s not totally his fault.  Sure, I do make compromises, but I won’t tolerate all this, and he knows it.  Hence, his reason for ignoring my phone calls, pushing my buttons and then claiming I’m always yelling, and trying to avoid hanging out with me because I expect him to do chores.

Let’s get this straight.  He does chores maybe once a month, more in the spring and summer months, but I don’t ask him to break his back, or to consume his entire day.  Well, actually it usually does take the whole day, about five hours of arguing, whining and moving at a snail’s pace, and then a half an hour of actual work.  Do I give in?  NOPE!  Why?  Because I want to do what’s right for Kyle.

Kyle’s biggest complaint about me?  You’ll love this one!  I make him take walks (less than a mile, to three miles total) with me and the dogs in the woods.  It’s good for him to get off his iPhone (yes he has an iPhone 6 loaded with video games) and stretch his legs, while recharging his battery in God’s country, and giving the dogs some exercise.  Kyle’s response nearly EVERY time, results in crying for at least an hour, taking another hour to get dressed, and complaining the entire walk, at least until he breaks a sweat and then he’s good (sometimes).  Yes, once he starts clearing his head, he’s happy and enjoys himself.  Granted, it’s getting harder and harder to get to that point, but I won’t give up.  Why?  Because I want to do what’s right for Kyle.

How about other activities?  I’ve tried these and then some, but are denied as the ideas passed my lips.  Shooting at the gun range?  No.  Roller skating?  No.  Shopping?  No.  Playing a board games or chess?  No.  Going to the comic book story. (used to be his hang out)  No.  Walking around a park?  Hell no!  Movies?  Maybe.

So back to my original story, what good could come from our blow out on Sunday and all this tension?  A lot!  I was able to justify my true intentions, so Kyle really understood my point-of-view.  I explained that I’m willing to fight for him.  I’m willing to fight to my last breath for his well-being and his long-term happiness.  I will fight all the video games in the world, and preservative filled foods, and anyone trying to sabotage his natural goodness for their own self satisfaction and easy parenting.  I’m not doing this for myself, but for him.  I won’t give in to him or give up on him, not because I enjoy the fights or I have nothing else to do or it’s the easy way.  NO!  On the contrary, I’m taking the difficult path.  Sometimes doing what’s right isn’t easy, but I will fight for Kyle every step.  I also explained to Kyle that no matter what happens in life, I have his back and I will fight for him every time.  I will fight the devil if I have to, to make sure he’s following in the way of the Lord.  My actions won’t be halfway, or passive aggressive, I will fight for him head on.  Why?  Because Kyle’s worth it, every difficult argumentative whiny moment of his existence is worth trying to do what’s right by him.  That’s how much I love that little guy.

His response?  A few tears were shed, but nothing said.

Kyle-&-Nicole-Hiking-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle & Aunt Nikki hiking up the hill with their trusty walking sticks. Look who’s pulling up the rear? 2012

My job as his Aunt Heather and godmother, isn’t an easy one, but one I’ve been completely dedicated to since he was born.  Ryan trusted me these responsibilities and he knew, when it came down to it, I would always fight for what’s right by this little boy.  I know if Ryan was alive, he’d have my back and agree with me, for he wouldn’t have tolerated a bratty kid either.  And he would believe in Kyle like I do, and know he’s a better kid than his actions are portraying.  Kyle’s not bad, just spoiled, and a kid who’s becoming a teenager, a difficult stage in itself without compounding it with other issues.

The solution to all this?  I agreed to never raise my voice to Kyle again (even though that’s how I was raised), as long as he promises to keep his attitude in check and listen to me when I tell him to do something, no more whining and complaining.  Begrudgingly he murmured, “Yeah.”  I did blatantly explain, to avoid confusion, that I love him wholeheartedly and I’m not trying to be a roadblock or an opposing force, but one that’s trying to guide him to being a good person and to keep him on the path of righteousness for his own sake.  We’re a team, we’ve always been a team, and we’ll always be a team.  I will never give up on him!  No matter what.  That’s family, and that’s love.

On a side note, my cat Storm, a.k.a. Lady Fluffington, and my dog, Seven hate it when I’m yelling, they really get upset and I don’t enjoy it either.  I’m kind of relieved over our new compromise.  It will force me to stop and think, in turn making me a better person.  I told you, we learn from each other!

I believe this was a good stepping stone, one long over due.  I have faith in Kyle, and don’t expect perfection from him, but only good intentions and everything for his own well-being.

It was also brought to my attention that this blog is hurting Kyle and his adolescents.  I disagree, for I never divulge everything, and I still keep Kyle’s privacy, more so than most.  This blog is the same as other “mommy” blogs and those who post on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Vine etc. I don’t regularly go in that direction, instead I choose a well thought out blog post.  If I thought this blog was truly hindering Kyle, then I would delete it immediately.

Unbeknownst to some, I get a lot of private messages giving me guidance and sharing personal stories to assist me with Kyle, or others take my advice for his or her own personal dilemmas.  This blog has been a learning experience for me and my readers.  Plus, it’s a way for my family and Ryan’s friends to stay in touch.  Let me get back to the real reason I write.  It’s for Kyle, to have an account of his life stories, something to read when he’s older.  I want him to always know his dad and his family.  A minor point, but I do use this blog for my company, Thrill of the Hunt.  Perhaps, I might cut down on the Kyle stories, and focus on his dad and other activities.  Time will tell.  God speed!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Fiber One Memories

In a way, looking back, it seemed a long, long time since she had been eighteen, but in another way her memories were so clear and vivid that it seemed like yesterday.  ~Helen Hooven Santmyer

Planinsek-Fishing-Derby-Kyle-and-Pap-5-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Planinsek Fishing Derby. Kyle hanging with is pap, probably tying another hook that he yanked off. I’m in the background talking to Ryan’s friend Jesse Planinsek & his dad, Fred. 5/10/14

I’m not sure what made me think of this story, but here it is.  I was probably rehashing recent events involving Kyle, and it came to me.

Regardless, a few years ago, I recalled Kyle’s first Fiber One experience.  Fiber One Discovery  Yes, that single moment in history, which changed Kyle’s life forever, and started his short term obsession with the quasi healthy snack bar.  True Story!  Kyle LOVED those General Mills Fiber One bars, not to be confused with the Kellogg’s Fiber Plus bars.  Branding the Next Generation  He tried both, only because I wasn’t paying attention when making my selection.  After sampling each and making very valid comparisons, Kyle proudly announced that he preferred the first rather than the later.  He spoke of those Fiber One bars fondly and often, with an almost reverence.   From that accidental chance in history, Kyle had a favorite snack.  It only increased in popularity, when he found out that the product line expanded to include Pop Tarts.  Love at first bite.  This was such a hot topic, it became a big joke among family and friends, Kyle and his fiber passion.  How could it not?

In recent times, Kyle hasn’t really requested those trusty fiber snacks.  Perhaps, they did a number on him, and the number I’m referring to is TWO (pun totally intended).  Maybe it’s because I haven’t purchased the Fiber One bars for him, or he wasn’t exposed to the brand every time we ran through the grocery store (my money is on Kyle paying too much attention to his video games and not his surroundings) and it’s now become a thing of the past.  No clue.  Unbeknownst to me, we would come full circle with his fiber talk.

About two weekends ago, we found ourselves back in WalMart grabbing a few grocery items.  Yes, back to where it all began, about six years later!  Again, normally, I don’t shop at that constantly crowded, patience required store, especially in the middle of the day, at the height of craziness, but there I was, with Kyle at my side.  While rushing past the isles, we were halted by a sight in the near distance, no more than four feet from us.  Equipped with bright lights, and a familiarity to stop the heart and cause an uncontrollable smile to surface, was a vision of the past.  Almost dreamlike, the way it flooded me with memories, stood the Fiber One sample cart!

Kyle-Casey-in-cave-in-WV-2007-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Casey, Kyle & me in a cave while visiting Casey in West Virginia for a snowboarding trip. I know we brought Fiber One bars to snack on! c. 2007

Immediately, the sign caught my eyes, and my mind recalled conversations upon conversations of my little man talking about fiber and the Fiber One bars, way before becoming a teenager.  I know what made me put on the breaks, but I thought Kyle was simply following my lead, for he too stopped.  Instinctively, I turned toward Kyle, ready to make a comment and see if he remembered his Fiber One infatuation, when he did the same, giving me this expression to steal my words.  His look said,  “The Fiber One display!”  He didn’t need to say a word, for we had a universal understanding between us.  After the initial shock, we did a double take toward the display, watching the worker for only seconds that seemed like an hour, while she prepared her samples for a busy Saturday.  Our eyes paused momentarily, lost in the past, before we looked back at each other and busted out laughing.  Kyle did remember his love of Fiber One!

I was cracking up!  I don’t know why Kyle’s realization of his past love meant something to me, probably because it was a memory that began with the two of us.  Then, Kyle flashed me that ornery grin, pointed, and said, “Hey Aunt Heather!”  Too funny!  All I could muster was, “Yes buddy, I see.”  He never did ask me for a sample, or if we could buy a box.  I don’t know if he wasn’t hungry, because usually that’s when all the snack foods seem to jump into the cart, even the little red plastic basket hanging from my arm, or I was moving so fast, Kyle thought we’d wreck if he’d speak up.  Looking back on it now, I should have grabbed a box for old time sake.  That would have made his day, but as usual I was in a hurry.

It may seem silly, but it was one of those precious, although a little odd, moments that can never be planned.  A funny memory that brought with it many, many humorous stories and conversations about all things fiber.  Kyle is the coolest ever!

 

 

 

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Communication! Keep Me Posted!

In the absence of information, everyone assumes the worst.  ~Robert McClelland

Pittsburgh-Peddling-Trip-with-Acusis-7-18-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Peddling trip around Pittsburgh bars with the Acusis team. Bob McClelland, me & Penny Patch-Sobehart Pittsburgh, PA 7/18/14

A good friend of mine, Robert (Bob) McClelland who happens to be an outstanding leader, once said to me, “In the absence of information, everyone assumes the worst.”  You know he’s right!  He was referring to work and client projects, but it holds true with family, especially kids.

Typically, I’m an easy going person, except when it comes to Kyle.  Well, that’s not completely true, as long as he’s keeping me in the loop, and opening the lines of communication, then life is good.  I’m reasonable and understanding, to an extent, depending on the situation.  Typical for someone who truly cares for her little man.

This weekend, Kyle really frustrated me, to the point of total anger and caused me to hit a fifty on the old tension scale (reference to the movie The Burbs).  On the contrary to Kyle’s current belief, I’m not a fan of yelling or getting bent out of shape.  But when I’m intentionally blown off, and taken advantage of, without an ounce of respect and consideration, then my inner demon will surface.  It’s not pretty.  “Come on buddy, this could have been avoided!”

Saturday’s the perfect example.  I get it, Kyle’s thirteen and he’s pushing boundaries and wants to hang with is friends.  I’m totally fine with that, but be a little considerate of my plans and my time.  Friday night, Kyle was hanging with his friend, they went to the movies.  Great!  I’m happy for you, even though we still need to discuss his report card.  Regardless, sounds like fun.  Keep in mind, pulling this information from Kyle was a task in itself.  Okay, I’m still working with the kid.  Assuming Kyle wanted to hang with his friend Saturday morning, I didn’t bother him.  That is until mid-morning, and I still haven’t heard a peep from Kyle.  I texted him, trying not to be too pushy, but I wanted to know the plans of the day.  Kyle got back to me, and said he wasn’t sure of the plans.  Okay, I get it, two teenage boys, hanging around, probably playing videos games.  No worries.   I’ll wait.  I still haven’t talked to him, only via text.

Keep in mind, I didn’t make any plans or work on anything too consuming, expecting Kyle to do his usual, and call last minute expecting me to pick him up.  That’s Kyle’s standard process, which I don’t usually mind.  Now the day is fast approaching mid afternoon and still no word.  I want to know what’s going on!  After several calls and texted messages, no word, not a single peep.  At this point, I’m starting to get worried, what is going on?  Are two teenage boys home alone, left to their own devices?

Kyle's-concert-band-12-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle’s band concert. I love him dressed up! That looks screams 13-year old! 12/2014

One hour turned into two, and then three, no word.  Finally, Kyle responded to me, via text message, informing me he’s no longer with his friend.  What?  I asked why he didn’t call.  He simply stated, “‘Cause I don’t know what’s going on yet?”  What does that mean?  He’s not a business man with a tight schedule.  He’s a kid, that’s suppose to be under my supervision.  He’s the one changing our routine.  I agree, giving him a little freedom, sure, but not all the freedom in the world to do whatever he desires.  Plus, he’s been keeping me hanging ALL day.  It’s basically a blizzard outside, and I didn’t know if he’s on the road or who he’s with.  I wasn’t happy!

I called Kyle, he wouldn’t answer, I texted him, no answer.  This was a few hours later, from the previous communication.  He texted me and said he was at dinner.  What?  With whom?  Who drove in that white out?  Where was he at?  I called him immediately knowing he had his phone in hand, no answer!  I texted him stating to call me asap and that I was getting mad.  No answer.

Now I’m boiling!  There’s no reason for any of that, none, very disrespectful and inconsiderate at the very least.  Kyle did eventually call me, making sure to set the stage, having all the company sit around listening to me yell at him, like he’s some martyr.  Of course, no on one the other end knows the games he played with me ALL day, and the stress and worrying I’ve been experiencing.

All Kyle had to do, was let me know he was going to dinner, and who he was with, and where he was dining, so I wouldn’t wait any longer and worry.  He needed to inform me of the plans.  Even if he didn’t know them, he should have called me to see what my plans were, or tell the other party that he needed to give me a heads up.  Something!  Anything!  Not ignoring me like I was a nuisance.  I was so mad!  When I asked Kyle again, trying to be flexible, what his plans were for the evening, he said, “I don’t know, maybe Jeff might come over.”  No that’s not a plan, that’s Kyle saying, “Leave me alone, I’m doing what I want.”  Nope!  I don’t think so.

Naturally, by this point, which was early evening, I’ve lost it.  My patience ran out the door and was now lost in the snow.  I was also sensing something was up because he was being so sneaky and secretive.  Yes, I yelled at Kyle, but he did bring it on himself.  He could have excused himself from the table to speak with me.  Instead, he welcomed a big old audience.  Let’s face it, I wasn’t shy about informing Kyle about his rudeness and inconsideration, and how I was worried.  Nope, I let it all out.  Hours, upon hours of all day waiting and concern, exited my mouth via cell phone.  Of course, Kyle clammed up and had no explanation for his actions.  He said maybe two words, again like he’s an innocent victim here.  I’m onto him!

_Pap-Kyle-Fishing-Derby-5-10-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The Planinsek Fishing Derby. Shooting the breeze & having a good time. Dad, Kyle & me. 5/10/14

What happened next?  After I yelled and told Kyle to be ready at 6:45 am, the next morning for Sunday mass, he begrudgingly agreed and sulked on the phone.  Before closing the line of communication for the night, I did tell him that I loved him.  He murmured it back to me without conviction.

Shortly after that, I get a phone call from my sister, yelling at me!  What?  First of all, she’s three hundred miles away, and she had the audacity to step in the middle, and give ME an earful, over a situation that she wasn’t even a part of, nor is she ever around?  Then, to take the word of a teenage boy, who was completely in the wrong, over my actions, without gathering all the facts?  Are you an A$# or what?  Apparently, Kyle called Nicole after we hung up.  I guess he finally learned how to make a call on his phone.  Basically, he tattled on me to my sister, and probably laid it on thick, like I was being unreasonable.  I can’t believe she fell for it!  Whatever!  I hung up.

We took Kyle to church on Sunday and things calmed down.  I warned him, the next time that happens, I will be in my car, tracking him down and then he would have an even bigger problem.  He snickered at me like I was joking, but we all know, I mean it.  He’s a good kid, and I plan on keeping it that way.  He did ruin by entire day, but Kyle’s safe and healthy, so I can’t be too mad, in the grand scheme of things.

Looking back on it now, I know Kyle was treating me like a parental figure, and that should bring a little comfort to me, but it’s still unacceptable.  If I wasn’t any sort of adult figure, I would’ve let him run wild without any explanation to his whereabouts.  Nope, I know he needs to seek independence, for I too did at that age, even though my dad held tight on the reins, but he also needs to be guided through his freedom and pulled back at times for his own safety and well-being.  I would do anything for that kid, and he knows it.  He also takes advantage of me, and tries to play us against each other.  That’s down right wrong, and it will stop now!

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Laughing About Nothing … Hitchhiker

Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.  ~Thomas Wolfe

Kyle-at-Idlewild-Park-8-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle riding a motorcycle at Idlewild Park, Ligonier for the Gutchess picnic. 8/2004

Kyle always surprises me, especially with what he knows.  This time it’s what he didn’t that took me completely off guard.

Okay, I’ll set the stage.  Sunday night, I picked Kyle up from his youth group meeting and we proceeded to drive through Latrobe.  It was later, probably about 8:00 pm or so and definitely dark.  Why is this pertinent?  It is!  As we drove along, I barely noticed an older gentleman, who practically jumped into the street sticking his thumb in the air.  His white or silver hair  juxtaposed against his entirely black attire scared me.  I know smart right, head-to-toe in solid black, lurking in the shadows of the night, while practically playing chicken with moving vehicles.  I swerved into the left lane to miss him, before I stopped at our red light about ten yards away.  Yeah, I checked to make sure our doors were locked.  Check!

During this ordeal, Kyle was jarred a little from my fancy footwork behind the wheel, as well as me saying something like, “Whoa, buddy!” and “What the heck ?”  It really happened so fast.  While waiting for the light to turn green, I kind of reiterated the scene.  That’s when I found myself baffled and yet humored.

I made a comment about the hitchhiker and Kyle asked, “What’s a hitchhiker?”  What?  Yep, I’m totally serious!  He truly didn’t know what a hitchhiker was.  Then the conversation went something like this.

Me:  “He wants a ride somewhere, that’s why he’s hitchhiking or trying to, I almost hit him.”
Kyle:  “How do you know he was trying to hitchhike?”
Me:  Slightly sarcastic, “Because his thumb was in the air.”
Kyle:  “Does that mean he needs a ride?”
Me:  “Well, yeah.  You know, you’ve seen people walk along highways with their thumb sticking in the air, basically screaming, “Pick me up”, they’re hitchhiking.”
Kyle:  “I’ve never seen that before!”
Me:  “Really?  Well, that’s what he was doing.  Although, they’re usually not that aggressive.  He practically jumped up on the hood of my car.”

Let the silliness begin!  There’s always one moment with us that sends us over the edge to the land-of-no-return humor.  That was it.  Kyle looked at me with wide eyes, and a huge ornery grin.  So the ridiculous story unfolds!

Kyle-on-bumper-cars-Idlewild-8-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle driving his bumper car around at Idlewild Park, Ligonier for the Gutchess Picnic 8/2004

Yes, we started laughing.  I’ll take the blame for initiating this one when I said, “What would you do if he jumped on the hood of the car and held on?”  Kyle and I busted out laughing.  Then, I started to make noises like a car while I faked me driving erratically from side to side, to shake the imaginary hitchhiker from the hood of my car.  Instantly, Kyle joined in adding to the sound effects and mimicking my motions.  He said, “Can you image Aunt Heather?  That would be so funny!”

Now, I’m taking it a step farther by adding, “Want me to pull over and have him ride in your lap?  What would you do?”  I was trying to get a rise out of Kyle, however he turned the tables on me with his wit.

It took Kyle merely a moment to concoct his own scenario,  “No Aunt Heather, we’d put him in the backseat.”  Laughing trying to properly express his thoughts to me, he adds, “With all three dogs!  And I’m in the front seat.”  Yeah, that made uncontrollable roars of laughter erupt straight from my gut.  Kyle really painted the picture when he described the scene.  “Can you imagine?  Our boys would be walking all over him and he wouldn’t have any room to sit.”  Kyle’s now really humoring himself, as well as me.  He even added my cat, Storm, a.k.a. Lady Fluffington, to the story.

Playing off of Kyle’s new direction, I declare, “Scooby would be in his face growling and the guy would be too afraid to move.”  I motioned with my hand toward my face, where Scooby’s face would be in relation to our fake hitchhiker.   “Avery would just sit there and drool all over him, and Seven would pay no attention and tramp him down as he pranced back and forth on the seat.”  That’s our dogs, exactly!  Kyle found this story hilarious.  He buckled over laughing.  Actually, we both did.

Now, the crème de la crème, I blurted out, “No!  We pull over, with you sitting in the front seat, and all three dogs in the back.  I open the hatch and tell him that’s his seat.”  We died!  “He might say, “No thanks, I’ll wait for the next ride.”  I love that moment of pure hilarity, whereas you can’t event catch your breath.  In fact, not a sound could be heard.  You know it’s gut stretching!

South Carolina Fort Jackson Summer 1969 Bootcamp Terry, Dad, Charlie Ferry-Pap-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Fort Jackson Bootcamp, South Carolina – Terry, Dad, Charlie Ferry, Pap. Summer 1969

Yes, all this excitement was going on while I was driving, but at least I got Kyle off of his video games to engage with me, even if it was imaginary.  We re-played that entire situation for the duration of the ride, changing things here and there and laughing at each new discovery.

I did explain that hitchhiking was more commonplace in his Gigi’s day.  I explained it to him, as I was told, especially with war veterans who came home and didn’t have a vehicle, so they hitchhiked.  I continued to explain that back in that day, most families only had one car, and sometimes not even that, and sometimes they needed a ride.  I also told him, since the olden days, it’s became less acceptable and now dangerous.  “So don’t ever pick up a hitchhiker or hitchhike yourself!”  Even though he didn’t appear to be listening, I know he was.

I’ve said it before, Kyle is the coolest!  I love being around him and under his thirteen-year old attitude, and general sluggishness brought on by poor eating and mind sucking video games, he has a strong personality and is really very funny.  His sense of humor still reminds me of his Aunt Nikki, very Saturday Night Live “esk”.  Nothing wrong with that!

Catch all the ridiculously funny stories!

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!
Laughing About Nothing … Truck Horn!
Laughing About Nothing … Dog in Space!
Laughing About Nothing … Our Dog vs. A Robber

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Family,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Travels,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Singing to Kenny Rogers

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Aunt-Heather-Piper-singing-Pittsburgh-1994

Yes I was singing with deodorant … back in the days when I wore a watch… this was my first apartment in Pittsburgh after graduating. 1994

Silly story time!  Last week, while leaving the gym with my friend Holly, I heard Juice Newton sing Queen Of Hearts.  She was shocked to find out that I liked country music.  (I’m not sure if Queen Of Hearts constitutes country music but for this conversation, it does)  I stand corrected, when I was a kid, I liked THAT country music, from THAT time.  The Charlie Daniels Band, Crystal Gayle, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Pardon, Johnny Horton, and Willie Nelson were among some of my favorites.  Yes, when I was young some of the artists were already dead or pretty old themselves, regardless, that’s were my interest rested.  Keep in mind, I also loved Boy George and the Culture Club, the Go-Go’s and the Bangles.  I even enjoyed listening to country gospel tunes.  My music interests were certainly eclectic.  Presently, I’m not a country music fan, nor was I even in high school.

So it’s really no surprise that I’m a fan of Kenny Rogers, or I was.  I loved Kenny Rogers!  The movie The Gambler was one of my favorites.  (That reminds me, I need to introduce Kyle to that one!)  It ranked up there with Mary Poppins, Sound of Music and Singin’ in the Rain.  (Every once in a while, I also bust into one of those show tunes.  My family appreciates those moments. sarcasm)

So, it’s not so far fetched that when the Geico commercial came on, and Kenny Rogers began singing, I joined in, and then some.  Yep, I know all the words, forwards and back!  I couldn’t help myself.  While Making Deer Bologna & Deer Jerky on Saturday with Kyle and mom, I busted into song.

Admittedly, I went on for hours singing, the same song, over and over and over again.  Please note, I can’t sing, which made it even better!  At times I started at the chorus, sometimes at the beginning, and others I sang the last part and stomped my feet like the original song.  And somewhere in the darkness, the gambler he broke even, and in his final words I found an ace that I could keep…

At first Kyle ignored me, then he started protesting with his usual, “STOP!”  “STOP!”  “STOP!”  I can’t believe he thought that would really make be cease and desist.  After about an hour or so, (it truly did go on for a while) he found me a tiny bit humorous, even though he wouldn’t admit it.  Kyle, trying to be good humored about my stage act, started to tease me with a chorus of “Boo”, accompanied with silly smirks and motions of a thumbs down.  Now he found himself funny.  Kyle giggled and made sure I didn’t miss his gesture of thumbs down.  No worries, I know artists are sometimes misunderstood.  I held my ground, and continued singing the song of my soul.  Seven, my Black Labrador, even joined in by jumping around barking.  He was my back up singer, a supporter of the arts.  It was a fun family time in the kitchen!

What made the situation even better?  Every time that commercial came on the rest of the weekend, before Kenny Rogers was spotted on the television screen, I’d turn my heard toward Kyle, shoot him an ornery look, and sing.  As if on cue, Kyle would chuckle, roll his eyes and do his best to ignore me, which provoked me even more.   He continued giving me his standard thumbs down.  I love getting a rise out of that kid!  It makes life entertaining and keeps him on his toes.  We all know he LOVES it!

It was all in good fun, typical Aunt Heather style.  I bet I got that song stuck in Kyle’s head!

 

 

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Making Deer Bologna & Deer Jerky

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.  ~Julia Child

Deer-Bologna-1-25-15-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Close-up of the deer bologna, made with cheddar cheese. 1/24/15

On Saturday, we finally had the chance to make deer bologna and deer jerky.  Is it hard?  Nope, not even close.  The hardest part is monitoring the cooking, or in the case of the jerky, the dehydration machine.  As long as you keep a close eye on the meat, perfection!  A healthy snack!

Way back in December, during hunting season, which seems like a lifetime ago now, we ground up the deer meet into hamburger.  Yes, we have a grinder to grind our own meat.  Believe it or not, we use it during the winter months, not only for deer, but also if we’re butchering a cow (ground chuck) or pig (sausage).  By next year, I’m going to raise my own turkeys, and make ground turkey meat. (I love turkey burgers!) We weighed the meat, sealed it in plastic wrap, wrapped it in freezer paper, labeled it, and froze until ready to use.  We use the ground deer meat for burgers, taco meat, and meatloaf, among other recipes.  This year, we set some aside specifically for the bologna and jerky.

Deer-Bologna-1-24-15-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Deer Bologna ready to be snacked on … made with cheddar cheese! 1/24/15

Before beginning, the weighed meat needs to be removed from the freezer, at least a day or two in advance to slowly defrost.  I wouldn’t suggest using a microwave to assist with this process, because even though the microwave “defrosts” the meat, it still cooks the edges slightly, and that’s no good.  Do yourself a favor, and take the time to let the meat thaw naturally.

In the past, we’ve made deer Salomi, but from what my parents said, they didn’t care for it as much as the bologna.  So bologna it is!

We purchase our bologna mix at Gander Mountain, and sometimes Cabela’s.  There’s a certain brand my parents like, although I can’t remember the name (It’s in an orangeish bag).  You can purchase bologna kits, that contain the pertinent spices, as well as the casings.  We prefer the fat casings, as opposed to the thinner ones.  The thinner ones tend to dry out fast, especially when cooked alongside the fat ones.  So cook them separately, if you choose to use a combination of fat and thin casings.

Starting with the bologna, since it takes a while to cook, we dropped the thawed weighed ground deer meat in our hand crank mixer.  Using dad’s homemade red wine instead of water, we diluted the spices in the liquid.  Simply follow the directions on the package for exact measurements.  Now, it’s really as easy as adding the diluted spice mixture to the meat, mixing, and then stuffing.  Make sure you soak the casings in warm water prior to stuffing.

Really-close-up-deer-bologna-with-cheese-1-24-15-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Close-up or our deer bologna, made with cheddar cheese. Perfect snacking goodness! 1/24/15

To assist us a step further, we added the meat mixture to our hand crank stuffer, typically used to stuff sausage.  It works wonderfully with the bologna casings, as long as you use the smallest tube and keep the air out by holding the end into the meat.  Simply, crank the mixture into the casing, leave a little room at the open end to twist, and seal.  Lay the long cylinders together ready for baking.  I wouldn’t recommend adding the bologna rods in the oven one at a time.  Save yourself some frustration, and confusion and add them all together, on the same rack.   Again, use the cooking directions on the package.

On a side note, during the mixing stage, we added chunks of cheddar cheese to the meat.  My family is partial to the meat and cheese mixture, but you can add, jalapeno peppers, spicy cheese, or garlic pieces.  Experiment to find out what your family likes best.  Keep in mind, when another ingredient is added to the meat mixture, it will increase the amount of bologna, in turn increasing the number of casings used.  So, have an extra casing or two handy, you’ll need it!

I do want to call out, during this process, Kyle would not touch the raw meat with his hands.  That cracks us all up!  He simply just can’t do it.  Knowing this, I couldn’t help but smear a little meat on his cheek or hand.  Kyle snickered and played along for a while, until he had enough.  He’s not the adventurous or traditional type of cook.  He’s more the, stand-on-the-sidelines and dictate direction.  I love that kid!

Nicoles-Ramen-Noodles-Stockpile-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

This picture is just hilarious…as I opened my sister’s hallway closet, I saw these Ramen Noodles. Apparently, she purchased them as part of her doomsday prep!  Gross!  The best part?  She bought them on Craig’s List! I was dying! 2014

Okay, funny story, yes besides me grossing Kyle out.  It’s always an adventure in the Piper household, especially when Kyle and I are involved.  While Kyle was cranking the meat mixture into the casing, he was struggling a bit.  Toward the bottom of the metal container, it does get tough to crank.  Smarty pants me, told Kyle to step aside, thinking he was being dramatic.  When I began cranking, Kyle sarcastically commented, “It’s not that easy is it Aunt Heather?”  In a way, he sounded just like his dad, Ryan, when he was trying to prove a point.  While I was flexing my muscles, literally, I too wanted to prove a point.  My point?  That there was still plenty of cranking room.  While doing so, we heard a huge BOOM noise.  Everyone looked at me, like I had a clue what that noise was.  I back peddled the crank to find that I was pressing the mixture so hard, it created a vacuum and blew the cheese cubes flat to the bottom of the metal container.  Keep in mind, there was still meet mixture in the tube leading to the casing.  During the back peddling process, the space beneath my sealed top, where there was a void of air, it pulled the meat mixture back into the container.  It was amazing, it happened so fast we just stood dumfounded.  The force was so great, the meat gathered in a large single mass in the center of the container.  Science, too cool!  It’s little moments like that, that make this so much fun!  We were giggling, and having a good time.

While the bologna cooked, we started the deer jerky.  Same process really, take the thawed weighed ground deer meat, and the spices diluted in dad’s wine, and mix well.  Instead of using the stuffer, we added the meat mixture to a press, which resembles a cookie press, or an odd looking firearm. (fitting)  Anyway, we used the thin narrow tip to squeeze the meat directly onto our plastic dehydration racks.  Since the racks are circular in shape, we lined up the meat strips from outer ring to the center, giving it a wheel appearance, leaving space between strips for air circulation.  Then, on the next row, I staggered the meat strips, compared to the rack below.  This continued until all the meat was used.  One batch filled our machine, almost perfectly (I believe we have extra trays).  We placed a timer on the machine, and let modern technology do the rest.

With each, the deer bologna and deer jerky, it’s prudent to constantly check the progress, and not let the oven or the timer on the dehydrator dictate when the meat is done.  Nope, you be the judge.  Check the temperature of the bologna, and check the texture of the jerky.  Also, keep in mind with the dehydrator, some trays will finish sooner than others.  Don’t over do it.

Once you’re done, sit back, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  It’s totally worth it!  Gathering as a family, and passing along cooking traditions such as this one with Kyle, makes it a truly memorable experience.  Kyle loves his deer meat, and he enjoys cooking, but he loves being a part of the family the most.  Even at his thirteen years, I could tell he likes to be included in our traditions, as much as we adore including him.  Happy snacking!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Happy Birthday Dad! – 64 Years

A party without cake is just a meeting.  ~Julia Child

Happy Birthday Dad! January 16, 1950

Dad-Uncle-Sonny-1951-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad as a baby with Uncle Sonny. 1951

Dad is still kicking it into another year, slowly but surely.  Sure his bones creek, his muscles sore, and his hearing is sporadic, yet I’m glad the old man is hanging in there and is a big part of Kyle’s life.   He may not be as fast, or as intense as he once was, but he still continues his passion for all things he loves.  Like what?

Dad LOVES hunting.  I can’t even stress that enough.  I mean everything about hunting.  He enjoys loading shells, and more importantly having Kyle and me load with him.  He enjoys shooting in the guns at the range, again having the family tag along.  He enjoys scouting out hunting areas in the spring and fall, and watching hunting shows ALL year long, day and night!  He can still make his way through the woods if there’s a chance of loosing a deer, and he can still climb into a tree stand (ladder stand), not gracefully, but he manages without incidence.  Yet, the most unbelievable, Dad can still shoot with amazing accuracy, up to about three hundred yards, outside.  Pretty impressive!  Yes, I would say that Dad is an experienced hunter, hunting since he was nine or so.

Then, there’s his love of fishing, which happens to be more of Kyle’s passion.  Dad lives for taking his rickety old fishing boat out on Loyalhanna Lake in the summer, especially when Kyle and I, and sometimes mom join the voyage.  He continues to make traps for catching snapping turtles.  A little known fact for some, but Dad can’t swim, and is very uncomfortable in a shaky boat (ask Kyle).  Dad does however, like being on the water, and reeling in the big ones.

Anyone who really knows Dad, knows his love of wood.  Yes, remember Ingrained In Wood? He loves walking among the trees, chopping down trees, and splitting firewood.  Being Dad’s right hand gal with all outdoor activities, I can attest to that hard work, yet, one Dad enjoys.  He just moves a little slower, and somehow faster than Kyle.  Seriously!  Unintentionally, dad is always checking out timber, making note of trees that should come down and ones that are worth money, or areas that were cut down in the past.  I’ve even caught Dad, several times I  might add, ogling other people’s firewood stock pile.  Yep, Dad was born a woodsman, and one he will forever be.

Lastly, I can’t leave out Dad’s favorite love of all time, Kyle and the dogs.  Believe it or not, I bet they run equal nowadays.  Sounds silly, and in truth, Kyle always ranks supreme, but Seven and Scooby, and now Avery have won over Dad’s heart many times over.  Dad would be lost without our dogs, (maybe not Storm, my cat).  Even though Dad lost one of his loves, Ryan, at least in physical form, Ryan remains in Dad’s heart, as he does all of ours.

Later today, Kyle and I plan on making Dad a pound cake, one of his favorites.  Perhaps we’ll cook down some strawberries for a little sweet sauce and call it a birthday cake.

Happy 64th Birthday Pap!

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

Our Avatar Adventure

All the world’s a stage we’re going through.  ~Lorrie Moore

Avatar-Book-and-Sleeve-3-D-glasses-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A book I purchased for Kyle, Avatar 3-D, includes a sleeve, hardback book with images & 3D glasses. c. 2011

While writing TAKEN by Movies, I was reminded of the time I took Kyle to see Avatar.  Another day at the movies in December 2009, January 2010.  A day I had to defend my actions to a little tyke.

It was a Saturday, late morning, and it was raining none stop.  It started the day prior, and continued into the next, without a sign of letting up.  It was a typical, dreary, foggy, rainy, dark, cold Western Pennsylvanian day.  The kind that makes a person want to curl up on the couch with a blanket, in front of a roaring fire, and read a book or watch a movie.  If it was a little colder, we could’ve played in snow, but alas no such luck.  So going anywhere was a brave move, and forget about playing outside.  Kyle and I watched some television during the morning hours, and we played with Thomas the Tank Engine and his Matchbox cars.  However, the day was dragging along without the sign of promising fun.

Kyle came to me and said, “Aunt Heather (I believe I was Aunt Heather at that point, but I could have still been Aiya) I have an idea!”  He had such excitement in his eyes!  Kyle always did beat around the bush when suggestion anything, but his ideas were usually really good.  He continued, “Since it’s a rainy day, and we can’t go out, and you said during rainy days, it’s a good time to go to the movies.  Let’s see a movie!”

First, I was cracking up, because that kid never forgets ANYTHING!  I do remember saying that very thing, almost word for word.  Rainy days are perfect for staying inside and watching a movie!  I must admit that was a great idea, and I told him so!  We jumped on the computer, and I looked up the list of movies playing and showtimes.  Naturally, in addition to the movie titles, advertisements with the cover of the movies appeared in bright colors, as well as an option to watch the trailer.  Kyle, having a keen eye, was stopped at the image of Avatar.  He also pointed out the button to watch the trailer, which we did.  Okay, I’m hooked.  Even though I was interested in that movie prior to this.

Opened-Avatar-Book-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A page out of the Avatar book. There are layered images for the 3D effect. c. 2011

For a change of pace, I decided to take Kyle to Lowe’s theater in Pittsburgh’s Waterfront.  They were playing Avatar in 3D!  This would be Kyle’s very first 3D movie.  I was excited for him.  Since it was going to take us about an hour, just to get to the theater, plus parking, getting in line, and finding our seat before the movie began, we had to leave straight away!

It was a miserable rainy ride, but the idea of seeing Avatar, a movie we really wanted to see, and in 3D, kept us both focused.  The theater was packed!  Kyle commented that perhaps others had the same rainy day idea.  I concur!  We stood in a long line within the velvet rope area.  When we hit the midpoint in line, I looked at the time to realize our movie was about to being.  Still, no worries, I knew they would play a half an hour of previews, I thought we were still good.  I thought.

During this time, Kyle thinking ahead, suggested that he go and get us popcorn and water while I waited in line, to keep things moving along.  I must admit, that was another great idea, however a scary one.  Kyle was only eight years old.  Yes, I trusted he would not go off with strangers, yet he was young enough to have that decision taken from him.  Reluctantly, I gave him money and instructed him to go to the one counter, where I was able to watch him from my position, and not stray away.  He did as instructed.

Just as I got to the ticket counter, still craning my neck to watch Kyle, I noticed he too was done and headed back.  I asked for two tickets, for the 6:00 pm or 6:30 pm showing (I can’t remember the time).  Sadly, she informed me it was sold out, and the next showing was around 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm (Again, I can’t remember the exact time, only that is was too late).  They didn’t even have an opening for the non 3D movie!  Not wanting Kyle to wait that long to see a show, and then have him try and stay awake while watching, I asked my big screen buddy if he wanted to see another movie.  Naturally, there wasn’t a movie open, at least not appropriate for him, or one he wanted to see.  Plus, he insisted on Avatar.

Okay, okay, I purchased two tickets to the later showing.  I had a plan!

With popcorn and water in hand, Kyle and I made a beeline for the Avatar theater, the earlier showing that just begun.  I handed the ticket person our receipts and entered.  Yes, I know what I did. I entered the wrong theater according to our tickets, but I wasn’t’ going to wait that long to see a movie, especially with a little tyke, and being an hour away from home.

Upon entering the theater, Kyle looked at me with worry in his eyes and said, “Aunt Heather, this isn’t our movie, we’re in the later one!”  O, no I was breaking the rules.  Yes, I kind of was and I didn’t care.  I told Kyle my reasoning and I also added, “There are always empty seats, and I’m willing to stand or sit on the steps to watch the movie, making way for those who purchased tickets for this showing.”  I also told Kyle that I was aware of my wrong doing, and if we got in trouble and got kicked out, and I lost out on the movie, that was a price I was willing to pay.

Avatar-Book-opened-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Avatar book opened showing the beautifully colored images, & sleeve with 3D glasses. c. 2011

Kyle was stressed over my actions and was torn, he wanted to see the movie, and he didn’t want to call me out on our criminal activity, especially since he was now my accomplice, yet didn’t like breaking the rules.  He reluctantly agreed and followed me in.

The previews were almost done.  At that point I figured the general public was seated.  I spotted a couple of seats close to the front, not my favorite seat, but I had no right to be picky.   I grabbed them, again if we were told to leave I would have without incidence, or if someone didn’t have a seat, I would have immediately offered mine.  Neither happened, and besides, we only needed one seat, Kyle continued to sit in my lap, especially when the action consumed the big screen.

Before the movie started, we got cozy, started munching on our popcorn.  It was actually perfect timing.  At the time, Kyle was wearing glasses.  He couldn’t make up his mind, if he wanted to wear his 3D glasses over his glasses, or watch the movie without his glasses, and just wear the 3D glasses.  I never thought of such an issue, me never wearing glasses.  Eventually, Kyle opted to watch the movie wearing his 3D glasses over his glasses.  (He was instructed by the eye doctor to wear his glasses when he watches television or for reading.  Kyle could not have handled breaking two rules in one night!)  It looked a bit awkward, but he managed.

About mid movie, Kyle leaned into me and said, “Aunt Heather, I feel a little dizzy.”  The 3D glasses made the kid seasick!  Seriously?  Yes, and I couldn’t resist chuckling to myself.  I too was a little off balance, but I think it was because we were so close to the screen.  Eventually, Kyle took his red rimmed 3D glasses off, to never wear them again.  In fact, to this day, he prefers NOT to watch a movie in 3D.  (Partially because he hates to layer up the glasses, not that I blame him, and partially because it gives him a headache.)

Well, the movie was a success, and by the time it ended, it was bedtime for us both.  We left rainy Pittsburgh to arrive in rainy Latrobe.  Loving all things Kyle, my parents wanted to see our little man and hear about our movie adventure.

Kyle was all smiles when we walked into the living room.  (That was mostly for the excitement of seeing my parents, which he didn’t see all day)

The story that Kyle told them, had me flabbergasted.  He didn’t focus on the movie, but instead on my quasi illegal activity.  He told a story of how we sneaked into the theater, leaving out that I did indeed paid.  He continued to inform my parents, the theater was full, yet we grabbed two seats.  Correction, we grabbed the seats no one was sitting in.  He also stated that he went off by himself to get our popcorn and water, again leaving out that I had my eyes on him the entire time.  Boy, his story made me out to be a thief and bad parent!  His story was quite colorful and full of adventure.  I guess Kyle has my talent for storytelling.  I didn’t mind, until mom brought it to my attention that he may tell others his story.  I really didn’t want anyone to think I set the example for a kid by sneaking into movie theaters, or letting an eight year old run wild in a busy public place.  I did have to correct him, before he continued to tell my parents about the movie.

Regardless of the rain and a few roadblocks, I had a great time, as did Kyle!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

TAKEN by Movies

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.  ~Walt Disney
Kyle-all-smiles-7-28-10 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle all smiles in celebration of his birthday! Mr. 9 yr old. 7/28/10

This past weekend, Nicole, Kyle and myself went to the movies.  The movie of choice?  TAKEN 3.  Was it good?  Being a Liam Neeson fan, in my eyes, he could never do no wrong.  But seriously, it was a good movie!

Spoiler alert!  At the end of the movie, while Liam Neeson was fighting the bad guy in a shootout, the vilian was running around in his underwear.  Yep, his “tighty whities” (briefs).  Kyle was sitting beside me cracking up, knowing I would never be caught running around anywhere, in my undergarments.  Please note, Kyle is not shy about sitting around the house in his underwear, not in the slightest.  In fact, that’s his preference.  During this fight scene, yes a fight scene with a man in his underwear, I kept saying, “I can’t believe he’s in his underwear, in the middle of a shootout!”  Kyle was cracking up!  I commented, “I would never be caught dead (pun intended) running around in my underwear.”  Kyle’s response?  “But if you’re already dead, who cares?”  Too funny!  “Yeah, I’d still want someone to cover me up!”  Kyle thought that was such a funny response, he was giggling the entire way up until the end.  

We had dinner at the movie theater, which serves sandwiches and such.  Kyle’s stable?  He always eats the Miss Piggy (pulled pork sandwich), plus other items such as a soft pretzel, ice-cream, popcorn etc.  It’s not always a junk food fest, but sometimes that does turn into the case.

On a side note, Kyle continues with this behavior that he won’t eat anything until the movie starts.  I’ve mentioned it time and time again, but it still amazes me.  Especially, on Saturday, when he was truly hungry.  Nope, he would not touch a thing until the movie started.  Can you say Rain Man?

While waiting (not so patiently) for our movie to begin, I was reminded of the first time I took Kyle to the cinema.  Yes, I introduced him to the world of big screen pictures.  How old was he?  He was definitely walking, I’m guessing around three or four years old.  I know, he was a bit young to be attending the movies, but I knew he’d love it, and have a great time.  It’s true, I was worried his attention span would pucker-out mid movie, but then I was prepared to leave if needed.  What movie did we see?  Honestly, I can’t remember.  Originally, I thought it was a Winnie the Pooh movie, but Nicole corrected me saying she took him to that one.  I’m guessing it was The Incredibles, after all, a year later, I made us The Incredibles costumes for Halloween.  It could have been The Polar Express, Shrek, or Finding Nemo.  All great movies, all Kyle’s favorites at the time, and all seen in the theater. 

Kyle & Scooby, camping.  Yes, that's Kyle in his underwear & his Aunt Nikki's flip flops.  What a look! 8/21/10

Kyle & Scooby, camping. Yes, that’s Kyle in his underwear & his Aunt Nikki’s flip flops. What a look! 8/21/10

Whatever movie we saw, I took Kyle to Carmike Cinema 15 in Greensburg.  It’s not a huge theater compared to those in the D.C. Metro area, or even the Lowe’s Theater in Pittsburgh, but nice enough.  Upon entering the doors, Kyle was mesmerized.  We went mid-day on a Saturday, only because it was an ugly day out.  There wasn’t a line, so I ducked under the velvet rope, to get to the ticket window quicker.  What did Mr. Play-it-by-the-rules do?  He walked the entire length of the roped off area.  I waited for him to finish his trek before getting our tickets.  I remember, Kyle stated his age to the young person working behind the window.  Why?  Rules!  He wanted to clarify he was a child.  Again, what a cutie!

Once we walked around the ticket window area, Kyle’s olfactory nerves picked up on the smell of popcorn.  His eyes were wide from the lights and the colorful interior, and his mouth watered from the smell of butter and popcorn and candy.  Did I get him a bag of popcorn?  You bet I did!  I wanted him to have the full movie experience.  And you know, he never waited for the movie to start to dig into the buttery bag.  That has been a recent event as of the last couple of years.

Kyle held my hand while we watched the monitor in the lobby, waiting for our theater to open.  Back then, Kyle was always attached to me by the fingers.  I’m not sure when that era ended, but it wasn’t for many years later.  Thank goodness!

While standing in the lobby, Kyle intently examined his surroundings and took it all in.  I could tell he was a bit overwhelmed, but not in a bad way, just in a “something very new” way.  As we proceeded back the large carpeted hallway, looking for our door, still hand-in-hand, Kyle looked up and simply said, “Umm this is nice, Aiya (Aunt Heather).”  I was cracking up!  Believe it or not, I bet I had a better time watching his facial expressions and listening to his comments, than he did with the movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, still remembering it to this day (except the movie we watched).  On our journey back the hallway, Kyle examined the life size posters and standup advertisements for future and present movies.  He pointed and smiled, especially with recognizable characters.

Upon entering the theater, Kyle’s eyes practically shot out of his head with excitement!  Sporting a huge grin, he pointed and proclaimed, “Loot (look) Aiya (Aunt Heather), loot at that big TV!”  That hooked him!  He was all smiles, and so excited for this new experience.  Little did I know, this single outing would become one of our shared interests, even presently.

Kyle-in-underwear-with-flip-flops-8-21-10 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s favorite look… simply underwear & his Aunt Nikki’s flip flops! Kyle loves cloths (sarcasm) Camping 8/21/10

During most of the movie, Kyle sat in my lap, especially after the lights dimmed to a dark room.  I didn’t mind, it was nice to cuddle with him, and I never missed a reaction.  ALL THE WAY THROUGH the movie, he added his own commentary, talking at full volume, a trait that still holds true today.  I tried to get him to use his “inside voice”, but that was futile during actions scenes.  Kyle also kept asking questions about the movie, while watching it, another trait that holds true today.  Sometimes, he stood up, sometimes he retreated to his own seat or my lap.  It seemed like the musical chairs helped him stay focused.

Can you tell I paid more attention to Kyle, than I did to the showing?  Hence, the reason I truly can’t remember what we saw that day, the one that changed Kyle’s life forever.  (It’s really bothering me!)

Kyle had such a great day!  I equally did as well.  On the way home, we called my sister, who lived in Arizona at the time.  Kyle talked her ear off about his adventure.  I know Nicole couldn’t really make out what he was saying, but she shared in his enthusiasm.

It was after that, that Kyle started to take notice of new movies coming out.  He would request to see certain feature films.  It also didn’t take him long to realize that he was prohibited from watching rated “R” movies.  How do I know?  He would tell me he wasn’t allowed to watch those movies.  My Kyle, always playing it by the rules and never wanting to get in trouble.  Later on, I did take him to see “PG-13″ movies before he was  thirteen, but he also knew he was allowed since I was accompanying him.  Kyle is all about the details.  Perhaps, one day, I’ll tell our movie experience with Avatar in the theater.

Together, we’ve seen so many movies thus far, I couldn’t even begin to count.  Some were in the theater, and some at the drive-in.  My sister also adopted this form of entertainment, especially on “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun.”  It’s a fun way to spend time together, as long as the picture of choice is age appropriate.

As a kid, I too loved the movies.  However, back then, it was more a luxury item, than a rainy day staple.  The Latrobe movie theater, the very one we take Kyle to, is the same one I went as a kid.  Back then there were other movie theaters at Gee Bees, Greengate Mall, and at Westmoreland mall, but we rarely went up the highway.  Times have changed, but the love of movies has always remained!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Good Intentions

The minute you become conscious that you are doing good, that’s the minute you have to stop because from then on it’s wrong.  ~Paula Fox

Kyle-hugging-Avery-12-24-14-Aunt-Heather

Kyle loving his Aunt Nikki’s dog, Avery. 12/24/14

As usual, we made it through another Christmas and New Years without any major issues.  It was a bit warm for my tastes, I would’ve preferred a white Christmas, but it was a blessed time all the same.  (I am loving the snow now!)

Kyle had another successful Christmas.  This year’s theme?  Warmachine.  (Warmachine Tournament, Painting Warmachine)  He received new figures and played a mean game with his Aunt Nikki.  Most of Christmas consisted of him gluing, and admiring the new additions to his army.  I can’t tell you, how many times he asked me to get him Loctite Super Glue, to keep his assembly line moving.  Kyle recieved a few unconventional gifts from me, one being a red laptop messenger bag, the latest Wimpy Kid book (I know he’s too old, but he has the whole collection so I thought, Why not?) and Percy Jackson The Blood of Olympus (I found out upon Kyle unwrapping the book, that he already read it in the school library.  Kudos to the school for supplying kids with current reading material.)  We also managed to go to the movies to watch, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.  Great times!

Sometimes, I believe Kyle is aware of how fortunate he is, yet I’m not always so sure.  I do remind him, and bring it to his attention about those less fortunate in the world.  Does it sink in?  It has been my experience, that children do indeed get it and hear what is said or preached to them, but never let on.  So, I guess the next question is, does he care?  I believe Kyle’s participation with his youth group, and the community service they partake in, is a step in the right direction.  Of course, these actions mean nothing unless it’s done from the heart.  Who am I to say it’s not?

I worry about Kyle and his character and the man he will become.  Sometimes, I worry so much, I don’t realize I can set by example, which in my opinion is the best way to teach.  I’ve always tried to demonstrate being a good person, at least to the best of my ability, even though I fall short.  I’m not a perfect person, so when I mess up, I take responsibility, and try and make things right.  I don’t hide my mistakes, I explain to Kyle why I was wrong, and how to fix it.  I’m always encouraging him to continue to be a good person and make decisions with good intentions, no matter what happens in life.

What brought this up?  On Tuesday, this past week, I was at my sister’s in the D.C. Metro Area.  We had to get up early, to go to the hospital for her to have outpatient knee surgery.  Nothing major, just a simple routine to address her torn meniscus.

On a side note, it was a simple procedure.  However, to my sister, she had MAJOR surgery and she acted as such.  I bet her blood pressure was through the roof!  After surgery, the doctor said he placed a band-aid on the entrance wound.  Later this week, Nicole would defend her actions by saying, “Heather!  I had major surgery!” and I would correct her by saying, “You have a band-aid on your knee!”  Typical us.

Kyle-and-Avery-12-24-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle posing with Avery, his Aunt Nikki’s dog. 12/24/14

We woke early morning, allowing enough time to make it through the fresh snow and traffic.  I would like to clarify, the Pittsburgh area is pretty good about clearing the roads, especially when they have warning of a snow front coming through.  However, in Virginia, they must have a shortage of salt trucks.  No joke.  We were on major Interstates, and the roads were completely covered.  During our travels to and fro, we spotted one truck.  One!  I was flabbergasted!

Anyway, as we moved along, getting ready to make a left hand turn, there was a car in front of us not moving at the green light.  Then, we saw the vehicle’s four-way lights begin to flash.  Nicole, simply went around the car, and we were on our way.

Just then, it dawned me, when did we, referring to every human being, abandon our concern for others in roadside distress?  I was not faulting my sister, or anyone else, because we’ve all done it.  We assume the other motorist has a cell phone and has someone to call for help, or roadside assistance.  When in reality, that might not be the case.  Perhaps we’ve become callous to these instances because of our assumptions with our own electronic devices?  Or we simply don’t care?

I believe people are innately good, and I believe they are genuinely concerned for his or her fellow neighbor.  It has always been my experience, ever since I started driving, that people have helped me, or offered to do so, for one reason or another.  Always! Playing Chicken with a Drunk Driver.  So why don’t I now?

Believe it or not, when I’m driving I do.  However, if I have Kyle with me, I tend not to, for fear of trouble seeking me out with my little man present.  Regardless, I try to have good intentions, behind everything I do, even though it might seem like I don’t care.  I believe the same goes for a majority of the population.

Perhaps we can all make a change for the better, in the new year!  Even among all the hostage and terrorists situations taking place in Paris now.  God Speed!

Happy New Year!  2015!

 

 

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Santa Took My Bottle!

The reality of what we really are is often times found in the small snips, way down at the bottom of things.  ~Jean Shepherd

Piper-Christmas-with-Santa-Aunt-Heather-Piper-1980

Ryan, me & Nicole with Santa at mom & dad’s house.  On the mantel is mom’s nativity scene from her mother & the same stockings we’ve always had.  12/1980

‘Tis the season for Christmas and Christmas memories!  Reading stories of friends and family reminiscing about Christmases past on Facebook, brings me back to my very own Christmas tragedy.  In all honesty, most of my childhood memories during the holiday season are very positive.  Actually, all of them, except one.  However, this story has stuck with me since I was in my single digits and funny enough, doesn’t take place around the holiday season, but in the dead of summer.  Yes!  Let me explain how it has everything to do with Christmas.

When I was little, I had this purple bottle.  Yes, a baby bottle.  Who got it for me?  No clue.  When did I get it?  No clue.   Do I really remember my bottle?  I do!  That bottle and my “banky” (blanket) were the only two things I cherished most as a kid.  (One day I’ll explain the horror story regarding my blanket)  Sure I had other toys, but for some reason, my memories are always focused on those two items.  Next in line would be my beloved Morticia (cat) and Jill (dog), both very sad stories.  Today, I’ll only explain the bottle, which isn’t a horror story, put a heartbreaking one.

This all started when I was about three or four years old.  Sure, I was probably too old for a bottle, but it’s not like I sucked on it day and night.  In fact, I usually drank out of my sippy cup.  I just really loved carrying around my bottle.  Where was the harm in that?  It wasn’t any different than a plastic doll.  Apparently, according to my mom and gram, I should not have been toting around such a baby item.  That’s where the story really begins.

Kyle-with-Christmas-lights-12-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle helping take down the Christmas lights after the 2013 Christmas. 1/2014

For many years, my pap would dress up as Santa and stop by the house to visit us.  I know there were other people who dressed up as Santa, but this time I know it was pap.  How?  I’ll get to that.

One evening before Christmas, Santa stopped by to pay us a visit, checking in on Nicole, Ryan and myself, as well as my cousins, to see if we’ve been good.  It was awesome, having a real-life Santa in our living-room!  He always sat in the rocking chair, a detail to be used later for solving this riddle.

Well, anyway, we took turns sitting in Santa’s lap, telling him how good we were and what we wanted for Christmas.  You know the standard procedure.   While it was my turn, after rattling off what I wanted, Santa gave me a small gift.  Yeah!  But there was a catch.  With Santa?  Well, not exactly but with my grandma and mom.

Before I left Santa’s lap, gram stopped me and posed a question, “What are you going to give Santa since he gave you a gift?”  I didn’t know what to say.  In the back of  my mind, no one else was giving Santa a gift, nor were they asked, so why was I?  Guess what item was so graciously suggested by my mom and grandma to give Santa?  Yes, MY bottle!  Coincidentally, I was cradling my bottle, as I always did.  I don’t want to say my bottle was forcefully taken from me, but guilt was certainly used by the adult figures to aide them in me forking over the precious item.  Does anyone else smell a set up?

Being a good little girl, at least at Christmas time in the presence of Santa, (no pressure) I reluctantly gave Santa my beloved purple bottle.  He took it and gave me a big smile and a hug to match, thanked me for his “present”, before he tossed it in his sack.  What?  It should never have been tossed anywhere!  That was a priceless gift, at least in my eyes.  Truth be told, I was excited to get something new, but yet I felt bad I made the trade with my bottle like I betrayed an old friend.

Fast forward.  Months passed by and summer arrived, never really thinking about my bottle, in fact I almost forgot about it, ALMOST.  Back then, every summer we took turns going to gram and pap’s house to spend a week.  During one of those weeks, while gram was napping, I decided to play in the basement.  It was an unfinished cellar, divided by the stairs going up to the kitchen and a stone wall.  Usually we never went on that side of the basement, only because there wasn’t anything interesting over there.  It housed gram’s ringer washing machine (the kind that you had to crank the cloths through the rollers to squeeze out the excess water before hanging) and a ton of cloths lines were strung back and forth, to be used in the winter or rainy days.  Along the perimeter of the walls were shelves of canned goods.  I believe there was also a deep freezer in the corner, but not much of anything else.  Well, for no particular reason, I ventured to that side of the cellar to play with my barbies, cars or a toy of sorts.  I’m not sure how long I was in there before something on the shelf, among the jars, caught my eye.  Yes!  My beloved purple bottle!  I jumped up like lighting, and without thinking I gravitated toward the object of my past.  (keep in mind I was only about four or five years old at this point)  Funny enough it wasn’t out of my reach, at least nothing a chair couldn’t solve.  That beautiful purple plastic bottle was in plain sight, like it was absentmindedly placed there.

Aunt-Nikki-Christmas-Eve-1974-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole with Santa at mom & dad’s house. No that’s not my bottle, but looked very similar … foreseeing the future? 12/24/1974

Upon removing the bottle from the shelf and getting back on the concrete floor, I began inspecting the authenticity of what I was seeing, to ensure it wasn’t an imposter.  It was not!  How did I know?  There were scratches on it from years of abuse.  It was in deed my bottle!

At first, I was ready to get gram and wake her, letting her know Santa returned my bottle.  But then it hit me, what was MY bottle doing in gram’s basement after I gave it to Santa?  Yes, even as a young tyke I was thinking this through and I wanted to solve the mystery and get to the truth.

What did I do next?  Believe it or not, I was going to question my gram, but waking her in the middle of a nap was pure suicide.  So I went upstairs and raided my pap’s closet.  Why?  I have no idea, but it seemed like a good place to start, since gram was in her bed in her room and pap was working in the sawmill.

At the very top shelf, again not that far out of my reach with the assistance of a stepping stool, I found a big box.  Believe it or not, I didn’t open it.  That is until I was moving things around haphazardly and the lid popped open.  Instantly, my eyes were drawn to the bright red velvet suit the box was concealing.  A Santa suit!

Then my world came crashing down. (Not me, I was always a climber)  My pap was impersonating Santa Claus!  Truly, it never occurred to me that Santa wasn’t real, not  until my mom dropped that bomb on me years later.  No Santa?!  At Least There’s an Easter Bunny!  I couldn’t believe my pap would do something that cruel to me, ever!  Trying to get my mind around this discovery, flashes of pap sitting in our rocking  chair, his favorite seat, shot through my mind.  I almost started replaying that very tragic Christmas day, and I remembered, it was my gram’s idea to offer up my sacrificial bottle.  Mom was standing by and second the gesture.  It was all planned out!

Ryan-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Christmas-1977

Me & Ryan (background) at Christmas at mom & dad’s. In the background to the left is the toy chest I fell asleep in &  on the right is grandpap Chester’s cedar chest he made. 12/1977

After uncovering the facts, I quickly placed the suite back up in the closet, put the bottle back on the shelf downstairs and went out in the backyard to deal with my own personal dilemma.  I needed a moment of silence, for I was really upset over this conspiracy against me.  I couldn’t believe it!  Funny enough, I never did blame my pap, for he was the greatest!  I knew he would never ever, do anything to upset me or any of the grand kids.  Pap always treated us with love and respect and was an innately good person.  It was my grandma I didn’t trust, eventually the Morticia story adds to my ill feelings toward her, among other situations.  (Again a story to be told another day)  My mind was racing toward my mom, again there is a “banky” story behind her too.  With each of these I don’t remember which came first, but over the years they compiled and resonated in my mind, each bringing a sickening feeling to me, and perhaps a little bit of bitterness.

Did I confront my gram, pap or mom?  No.  Was my dad involved?  At the time, he didn’t seem to be a participant and I excused him from the suspect list.  I simply went outside and spent the rest of the day in the backyard, taking refuge in the barn and exploring the woods behind grams house.  Feral cats ran rampant on the ridge.  As a pastime, I would sit patiently and catch the cats to tame them.  Seriously?  Yes, I did it all the time.  (I have no patience except for cats for some reason)  They were used to me, plus I was quick and fearless, with the help of a very thick towel.

That night I went to bed early, which wasn’t unusual for me.  By the next morning I don’t remember how I felt.  But I do know that I remembered the entire day.  It left a scare on me that ran deep, one I still reflect back on to this day.

Even though that is one isolated story, one the adults were ignorant to for I buried it deep down inside, it still stuck with me.  However, I am blessed, for that is my only Christmas horror story from my childhood.  I could have had it worse, and I know others did.

I hope Kyle only has great Christmas memories, for we’ve gone out of our way to ensure that’s the case.  And if he doesn’t, perhaps he too will write about his tragedies as a therapy session.

Merry Christmas! 

 

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Christmas Equals Childlike

I think you should be a child for as long as you can. I have been successful for 74 years being able to do that.  ~Bob Newhart

Aunt-Nikki-&-Santa-1970s-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole & santa, late 1970s.

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine, who’s kids are now grown adults.  Let’s keep it into perspective, they’re only in their twenties.  We were laughing at how, especially boys, are sometimes grown and yet, they are still kids.  He called them man boys.  That about sums it up.  It’s those moments when they act like little adults and impress the heck out of you, but then turn around and make the stupidest or most immature decisions.

Example time.  The other week when we put up the Christmas tree at my parent’s house, Kyle was a huge help!  The Christmas Tree  He basically took the reins and screwed in the base of the tree by himself, and did it right and swiftly, without being asked.  It saved dad from laying on the hardwood floor and contorting his old out-of-shape body from doing it.  Dad and I were a bit astounded.  Literally, dad just stood there and asked if he needed help.  Nope.  None was needed.  Kyle even gave me direction on how to move the tree around to assist him and have it set correctly and sturdy.  Excellent job!

While we were adding the lights, I was jumping from couch to stool to recliner and back again.  On one of my trips, I caught the edge of the recliner, which caused it to tilt, into the tree, with me on it, out of balance.  During this seemingly slow motion event, Kyle instinctively reached for me, but threw himself on the recliner to counter the weight.  Eventually, I came crashing down on the edge of the recliner and into Kyle.  First, we both looked at each other in shock, and then I said, “Did you try saving the tree over me?”  Kyle snickered and said, “Well, it looked like the entire chair was going into the tree and I didn’t want it to fall over.”  Well played buddy!

Now for the mind of a kid.  After decorating, Kyle was going on a tangent about getting toys to build and play with.  Granted, he is thirteen and his interests now include Warmachine as well as his videos games.  However, he was getting excited like he was two years old again!  A few weeks before that, he comprised a list of what he really wanted and called my sister to review the items, just like he always has since before he was able to read and write. (Either mom or myself would write up the list as per his dictations)

Ryan-at-Gram-&-Paps-1984-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan at gram & pap’s. As far as I can remember, they always had a fake tree, which I never liked. 1984

This one is mind blowing!  Within the last few months, Nicole hurt her knee.  When Kyle found out that my sister was out of commission and was having a difficult time getting around, he exclaimed “What?  Well, can Aunt Nikki send my presents home for Christmas?”  That was his big concern.  Not for her, but for his gifts.  He also called her to remind her to order his presents so they will arrive in time for Christmas.  He is too much!

Recently, Kyle found out that his Aunt Nikki has to work a half day on Christmas Eve Day.  We always celebrate Christmas the day before, a tradition that has always been since I can remember.  That way Christmas Day is not so rushed and can be more relaxed.  Well, once Kyle got word of his Aunt Nikki’s schedule, he freaked!  “Can we still open presents throughout the day before she gets here?” he asked.

You see, ever since Kyle was a little tyke we set up Christmas Eve Day in that fashion so Kyle would enjoy each of his gifts, and more importantly so he wouldn’t explode while staring at the pile of wrapped packages under the tree.

It goes like this, once Kyle gets up, which is usually around 5:00 am or 6:00 am, he gets to pick one present to open.  He always staked out the presents before hand and had a plan of attack walking into the day.  That kid always knew the shapes of the boxes and the sounds made upon rattling.  He would play, or put together, or whatever needed applied to the first gift, then by the time he was done with the first toy, it was time for him to pick the second, not necessarily every hour on the hour, but whenever it was all agreed upon.  This continued all day, even after church into the evening.  It was a great way to spread out the fun of Christmas and allowed Kyle to enjoy and play with each gift, not that all of them were toys.  Nope, not with his Aunt Heather on the case bearing the unconventional gifts.

Anyway, Kyle was still holding this pre-arranged plan to heart for this Christmas Eve Day.  He was also walking around talking about the items he was going to put together.  I know he’s getting some Warmachine figurines that are little models to be glued and painted, but no one was getting him Legos or such.  What is going on in that mind of his?  He really wants to build something!

Another quick story.  About a week ago, I was picking Kyle up off of the bus.  I knew I was cutting it close, either the bus dropped him off or was on its way.  I called Kyle to inform him that I was waiting for him in the driveway.  He updated me that he was in the house.  Great!  In my mind, perfect timing.  Well, I was told differently.

Chad-&-Pap-1973-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Pap playing with Chad at gram & pap’s house. I have no idea who is sitting by pap with the barrel of the rifle pointed up. I bet that’s Chad’s rifle from pap! 1973

Kyle was not happy with my early arrival, questioning me why I was so early.  I simply responded that I was and I told him to get his stuff together so we can leave.  His response?  “Well, can you wait I wanted to play this video game for a little bit.”  Seriously?  Are you kidding me?  My response?  “So you want me to sit in the driveway (in the cold) and wait for you to play a video game, that you play during the week?”  Kyle’s response?  Crickets.  Then he said, “Well, ya, I really wanted to play this game and you weren’t suppose to be here till later.”  Kyle’s tone was whiny and mine was getting angry.  “Kyle!  Are you suicidal?  I can’t believe you actually expected me to sit in the car and wait for you to play a VIDEO game!  Let alone ask me!  Who do you think you are talking to?”  More crickets.  Then he proceeds to inform me,  he still needs to get his stuff together, like that put me in my place, until I responded.  “You’re not even ready?  And yet you planned on playing a video game first?  NO!  You have five minutes!”

Needless to say, Kyle made it in time, not very happy with me, but almost realizing the mistake he made, almost.  Yes, I did give him a good talking to.

I was telling another good friend of mine about this man boy phenomenon, while on the way to the gym.  Her one nephew is going through the same stage, although he is a few years younger than Kyle.  Her nephew is claiming to be nearly a teenager, (he’s only ten or eleven) and that he can watch “R” rated movies and he’s practically an adult.  Yet, his actions scream child.

Sometimes I wonder if my brother was the same way, for I truly don’t remember or never paid attention.  Ryan was always mature with his work ethic and drive.  He could always work on cars, like adults, but sometimes would construct the strangest contraptions, the imagination of a kid.  Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?

I guess I should just face facts, Kyle is in deed a Piper, through and through.  Maturity is secondary to us and sometimes never achieved.  I love Kyle’s enthusiasm for Christmas, even though it’s about his gifts.  Regardless, Kyle always did say “Christmas lights make the whole world beautiful.”  Lighting Up the Holiday I also know Kyle does know the true meaning of Christmas, even though he doesn’t let on.

Kids do make Christmas!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Hunting: Our Pennsylvania Adventures

One day might be different from another, but there ain’t much difference when they’re put together.  ~William H. Armstrong

Hunting-in-New-York-double-rainbow-11-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

While hunting in New York with dad, I couldn’t help but capture the view from my seat. Perhaps Ryan was joining us? 11/2014

It’s official, hunting  season for deer with a rifle in Pennsylvania is over, at least for the year.  No, hunting is not done, archery and muzzle loader for deer come back after Christmas.  After then starts small game season and spring gobbler, but the big hunting event of the year, the one that only lasts for two weeks, has come to an end.  Was it a good year?  You bet it was, in more ways than one!  God blessed us with a good harvest and great family time in nature.

Besides hunting in New York Hunting: Our New York Adventure, dad, Kyle and myself had fun and were able to harvest several deer for canning and some meat for the freezer, to be consumed for dinner in the near future.  Even though Kyle and I didn’t get a single deer in Pennsylvania, dad filled his doe tags and added to our stockpile of meat.

The best part of hunting?  Yep, hanging with dad and Kyle and getting out in nature!  I must admit, I missed Kyle being with us in New York, but he made up for it on the first day of buck, which was Monday, December 1st, plus this past Saturday and the one prior.  It’s always an adventure with the Piper family, double when Kyle is involved!

There are so many funnies, I seriously can’t remember them all, but here are a few for the records.

Something that started in New York, but I forgot to mention it, was dad and his smarties.  My dad LOVES those small pellets of sugar that come in clear plastic packaging.  If those aren’t available then he settles for sweet tarts.  This year, he kept stocking up on the rolls of Wonka Sweet Tarts.

Wonka-Sweet-tart-roll-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad loves his Wonka Sweet Tarts! He claims they bring in the big deer during hunting season… too funny!

While in New York, I was sitting in our tree stand with dad watching out for deer.  All of a sudden I heard the subtle tearing of paper?  I turned my heard toward dad to see him carefully tearing his candy roll as to not drop a single sweet tart.  After he popped in a colorful disc, he leaned into to me with a serious face and said, “These will help bring in the big deer.”  I started cracking up!  During the day when things got slow, dad would pull out his sweet tarts and reiterate, “The deer like these, they’ll come now.”  Very unlike dad in the woods, joking around, but it was funny!  I mean we weren’t dancing around, but those comments cracked me up, not to mention, my dad, a big lumberjack type of guy, tearing at his Wonka candy with precision was hilarious!

Now back to Pennsylvania.  By now, dad was fully addicted to his Wonka Sweet Tarts.  That Wednesday, after the first day of buck, dad and I sat together in the woods.  We never did see anything, but it wasn’t due to a lack of sweet tarts.  Dad did the same thing, unrolled his paper to release a colorful disc when there was no signs of deer.  I even joined him, popping a few colorful candies to pass the time.  At one point, dad almost knocked me off my chair, he nodded at me to look in his direction.  Just then, dad unzipped his vest and pulled the fabric back to expose his top shirt pocket.  There were two more rolls of those darn sweet tarts sticking out of his pocket!  He showed me his candy with a straight face, like a gangster was showing his pistol.  I actually laughed-out-loud!  Dad and that candy was totally silly!  After that, the Wonka candy became part of our checklist before entering the woods: rifle, check; shells, check; deer tags, check; candy, check.  Kyle got a kick out of me telling him about his pap and the new “deer lure”.

hunting-by-Keystone-12-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Down the hill from our hunting location in Indiana, Pennsylvania. 12/2014

I can make anything into an adventure, even by myself.  On Saturday, December 6th, the first day of doe, I made my way down to my spot, marked with orange ribbons, placed by dad a week prior to hunting season.  The same spot I sat for the first day of buck.  It was a soggy Saturday, raining ALL night into the next morning and continuing ALL day.  I chose my tree and pulled out my portable seat.  It was the kind that folds up, like a directors chair, only smaller.  I placed it in position and pushed it firmly into the saturated muddy ground.  The chair was strategically placed in front of a fallen log, so if I needed to shoot off of it, I could.  Great!  I was facing a couple deer paths and ready to go, or so I thought.  As I sat my bottom down on my portable stool with a metal frame and a fabric seat, I began sinking and sinking and sinking.  Initially, I thought the gravitational pull would cease, and the ground wouldn’t swallow me up whole, and that I would be secured momentarily.  Wrong!  I continued to sink until I was laying flat on my back with my rifle laying over my chest.  What?  It seriously all happened in slow motion and I was completely dumbfounded.

After a moment or two passed, and the shock of me spread out on the floor of the woods became clear in my mind, I jumped up to examine the scene.  The fabric on the chair ripped, sending the metal sides to flatten out, since there was no fabric to hold them together, allowing me to meet the ground.  Standing in the rain looking down at my flattened seat, I just laughed and laughed, almost thankful no one was around.  Although, I wouldn’t have minded someone joining me in the humor of the situation.

So what did I do?  I folded the seat back up, almost meeting the metal framework together, and forcefully ramming the legs of the stool into the muddy ground till it was secured.  Simply, I sat on the metal frame projected from the ground.  Not comfortable, yet not entirely uncomfortable.  I didn’t care, after all it was already less than favorable hunting conditions with constant rain, which never let up.

Naturally, that’s the one day I got to see something, and I missed at the doe.  As I was trying to see the deer in my fogged up scope with rain falling down my face, a big rain drop hit my scope with a pitch perfect “tinking” sound that seemed to echo for miles around.  Before the echos could travel far, the doe was getting ready to run and “hightail” it out of there, not that I blame her.  All the deer in the area were already spooked, so I quickly took a shot… and missed!  She didn’t stick around for me to reload and took off down the hill into the brush.  It happened very quickly, with low visibility on my part.  Dang!  It happens.

Hunting-locally-12-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Near the lake, down the hill from our hunting spot. I couldn’t resist checking it out while pushing deer for dad. 12/2014

Another funny… the same day, I was wearing a camouflaged rain coat with a thin bright orange vest and an orange baseball cap.  I know, what a sight!  Dad had on similar clothing to try and keep as dry as possible.  Kyle on the other hand, was dressed in a bright orange poncho, as to not be mistaken in the foggy rainy woods for something other than a pre-teen.  After all, no one would get close enough to hear him whine, or munch on food and determine the mystery figure was indeed Kyle.  Dad kept calling him the Ninja Turtle.  That’s comical!  The whole ride back and the week until this past weekend, Kyle was referred to as the Ninja Turtle.  Sometimes dad comes up with good ones!

By 1:00 pm, we were all ready to call it a day.  Even with our ponchos on, we were soaked to the bone and cold.  The temperature was just warm enough to bring rain, yet cold enough to chill the body.  We left without a deer, but I had some excitement.

This past Saturday, the last day of hunting season, I did see a few deer, but was not able to get a shot.  One deer only showed the top of its ears and tail, too much brush to find the body, let along shoot through that mess.  It does make it exciting, to see anything, even if a shot isn’t taken.

During the day I called dad to check in on him and Kyle, they were at a nearby location in a ladder stand.  As I was talking, in low tones, dad responded, “I can’t really hear you, someone is chomping on trail mix in my ear.”  Obviously referring to Kyle.  I could tell, they both had enough.  It was pretty cold and I bet the wind off of the lake, hit them hard in their stand.

Eventually, Kyle convinced dad he was too cold to hunt anymore.  This time it was about 1:30 pm.  Only Kyle can work his pap over to leave the woods early on the last day of hunting, without dad getting his buck.

On the ride back, dad and Kyle told me what they saw in the woods.  Deer right?  Nope.  They saw a small hawk swoop down from the sky and grab a hold of a bluejay passing by.  Both birds dropped to the ground and were wrestling.  Kyle said the bluejay was screaming and squawking, but the hawk had a good grip on its victim.  Dad said, “I thought that bluejay was a gonner.”  It must have been an exciting sight, for Kyle and dad were consumed with the intensity of the situation while telling the story.  Then, Kyle gleefully piped up saying, “Ya, and then all of a sudden the bluejay flew away and the hawk sat above us, watching us”.  Dad added, “I don’t know how it got away, but the hawk wasn’t much bigger than the bluejay.”  Kyle was nodding in agreement and repeated, “That hawk sat above us and watched us.”  I started laughing and added, “Boy he had a big appetite, maybe he was eying YOU up Kyle.”  Kyle just grinned as he reiterated the story with added details and gusto.

While pulling into mom and dad’s driveway what did we see?  Not a buck, but a few does in my Uncle Walter’s field. I called out my finding to dad, who was driving.  Before the words were fully out of my mouth, the truck stopped immediately, dad jumped out, loaded his rifle and scanned for deer.  Kyle and I were still sitting in the truck.  Kyle looked at me with wide eyes saying, “Wow!  I’ve never seen pappy move that fast!  I didn’t know he could load his gun that fast!”  I just smiled for I’ve seen that swiftness many times before.  Kyle was amazed.

At the position dad was standing he couldn’t see the deer.  I took that as my cue to comment to Kyle, “What does pappy need us to draw him a map?”  Eventually dad saw his target, lined up his sights, took aim and shot the doe, about a hundred yards away!  Great shot in the front shoulder, but that didn’t bring it down right away, unbeknownst to us at the time.

Hunting-in-Indiana-Keystone-Lake-Aunt-Heather-Piper-12-2014

Another view down the hill from our hunting location in Indiana, Pennsylvania. While pushing deer for dad, I traveled closer to the water for a better look… not that I thought I’d find deer walking on water… 12/2014

Seeing more does, Kyle and I grabbed our rifles creeped around the small patch of woods in the field hoping to get a shot at our very own doe.  What we found, surprised us both.

Dad’s deer popped up in the field, nearly twenty feet away from us, and ran across the field.  She scared us both!  Kyle was quick to pull up his rifle to shoot and drop the injured doe, however I stopped him.  Why?  He was standing at least a few feet behind me to the side.  I completely trust my little man, and he is a good shot, but I don’t want him to get in that habit, it’s not safe.  In all the excitement, I did explain my reasoning for stopping him.  He understood, but was focused on the area the doe eventually dropped in.  Kyle moved down the hill like lightening, by now dad was on his quad fast approaching us.  Kyle moved in the direction of the injured deer and shot.  Unfortunately, he shot her in the body, through the guts, when I told him to shoot her in the head to put her out of her misery, quickly.  Kyle told me, “I saw her head in my scope.”  Well, that’s not where you shot, but that’s ok buddy, good practice with free hand.

While all three of us came up on the deer, dad and I noticed she was still kind of alive.  Yikes!  I told Kyle, who had his rifle out and ready to fire, to shoot her in the head.  He looked at me and told me to do the deed.  I could tell he felt bad for the doe and couldn’t do it.  Me, on the other hand, I will absolutely shoot any animal in the head to avoid suffering.  I borrowed Kyle’s .243 and brought the brave animal to peace.  It was an exciting end to a pretty boring day.  Dad and Kyle saw nothing for the duration of the last day, until we came home.

Personally, I’m very happy to know Kyle is fully aware where the meat we consume comes from, and he is capable of survival.  I am also very happy to see he has such a tender heart and didn’t like to see the deer suffer.  He knows he can always count on me and his pap to help him out.  He trusted us to do the right thing and fix the situation.

Overall, it was a great harvest!  Now it’s time to put away the rifles until target shooting in the summer.

On a side note, while butchering the doe dad shot, Kyle responded, “It’s a good thing I got cold and came back early, huh pap?”  He felt bad for wanting to leave early and was trying to justify his actions.  Little does Kyle know, my dad would NEVER have that kid sit there with cold feet, even on the last day of hunting.  Kyle is worth more to us than any doe or buck!

Another note, while butchering the deer, Kyle busted into Christmas songs playing on the radio.  He is such a great guy!  I love hanging out with him!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! 45 Years Strong

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

 Happy 45th Anniversary mom and dad!

Mom-Dad-wedding-announcement-in-paperWhile going through pictures, I found mom and dad’s original wedding announcement from the newspaper.  How cool is that!  I’m guessing it was either from the Latrobe Bulletin or the Tribune Review, our local papers.  (I was amazed at the detail the paper described mom’s wedding dress!  While dad only got an honorable mention!)  How times have changed, from when the printed paper was one of the biggest sources for news that everyone read daily.  Now, newspaper circulation is nearly extinct and online and television news is the go-to source.  Just think, when mom and dad got hitched, the internet didn’t exist, neither did email, nor did social media sites, and certainly not blogging.

Well, mom and dad are still kicking with 45-years of marriage.  I bet my grandpap Chester would have never guessed it.  Mom and dad have come a long way since December 12, 1969.  I’m sure they’d both agree it has been, and still continues to be an adventure.  I know it has been from where I joined the crazy train, December 12, a few years later.  Yes, every year since I was born we’ve celebrated both mom and dad’s wedding anniversary and my birthday together, for I graced them with my presence on their anniversary.  (not the other way around)  There for a while, it was also the first day of doe season, which used to take priority with dad, but that’s a minor note.

This past August, good friends of mine celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  Happy 50th Anniversary!  It’s neat to think, that that will be mom and dad in just five short years.  With all of mom’s positive attitude (sarcasm) she claims they’ll never make it that far, not due to divorce, but to death.  Yes, I’m sure the old folks are amazing and astounding their doctors for just being alive.  Personally, I think they still have a fight left in them, if Kyle and I have anything to do about it.

Forty-five years is a long time, almost none existent today.  Mom and dad are a rare breed, in more ways than one, so I guess their anniversary is fitting.  Because of their commitment to each other, we’ve all had a wonderful and stable family life, including Kyle.  I’m not saying it was perfect, only typical for such a tight knit family.  It says a lot about mom and dad’s character for having maintained their marriage, raised a family and dealt with outside forces, good and bad, for nearly a half a century.  Their anniversary (not their eating habits nor lack of exercise) should not be taken lightly, but only celebrated and viewed as a goal for others to strive towards.  I am blessed to be apart of their legacy and I am proud they have set the example for Kyle for what it really means to be married.

Happy Anniversary Gigi and pappy!

 

Since I’m discussing celebrations, I never got to write mom a blog post, formally celebrating her birthday from October 26th, this past year.  At the time I was visiting my sister in Virginia, helping her get her rental property ready for new tenants.  The week escaped me.  I planned on being home in time for mom’s birthday, but alas that didn’t happen.  I wanted to give mom a shout out for her 65th birthday too!  Happy Birthday late mom!

As we’ve always done, mom, dad and I exchange celebrations between us.  Dad asked me with an ornery grin, the same one Kyle gives me from time to time, “So do you feel old?”  Fat chance!  Acting young, some may say immature, is my thing!  It’s what I truly believe allows me to stay youthful at heart and in appearance, that and I drink a lot of water and stay out of the direct sunlight.  I guess there’s a lot to celebrate today!  TGIF!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Family,Milestone,News and have No Comments

Hunting: Our New York Adventure

You know, one of the tragedies of real life is that there is no background music.  ~Annie Proulx

Kyle-at-shooting-range-with-.22-8-25-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle at the shooting range with his .22. Kyle’s not a bad shot! 8/25/12

It never fails, my life is an adventure.  Sometimes it brings a smile, or in the case of my dad, it causes a lot of eye rolling.  This past weekend, dad and I were in Cortland, New York hunting.  We left early last Friday (only after we finally remembered to pack everything and had to turn around in Derry, and right before that, Seven and Scooby took off for a jaunt in the woods).  The first day of rifle season was Saturday.

As I’ve mentioned before, the New York hunting rules are slightly different from Pennsylvania’s.  Example, we are allowed to fill our tags with a buck and a doe starting at sunrise on Saturday, the season includes Sundays, and lasts for three weeks.

We arrived Friday mid-afternoon and met Larry, for all intents purposes he was the orchestrator of the hunters.  I was also given the honor of meeting sergeant Mike Bennett.  He’s a wounded warrior from northern New York, who served in the Afghanistan conflict and was a part of our hunting group.  Larry showed us our new hunting spot, and we rode the quads around a bit to get acclimated, seeing five doe on the way.

That night, all the hunters gathered around the campfire on the edge of the woods to finalize the game plans for the next day, and to enjoy idle conversation and socialization.

Dad and I got up early Saturday morning, about 4:30 am, got ready and headed for the woods, riding the quad to our tree stand.  We were on the opposite end of the woods, compared to last year; a really nice spot, with rows of trees, a few trails and a logging road, near a few patches of pines and up the hill from a crab apple section.  In theory, and later on in reality, a great spot!  Actually, I preferred dad hunt in this area, only because getting to it was not such a roller coaster ride and less dangerous for the old man, again compared to his other tree stand.  It was even closer to the truck, pretty ideal. Our Hunting Adventures … New York Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

Waking up to about a half inch to an inch of snow was a nice surprise.  Why?  It makes it better to hunt.  The deer pop off of the background, making them effortless to see.  Plus, it’s easier to follow the deer tracks when pushing deer through the woods or tracking the wounded.  Dad said this was the first opening season in years that snow laid on the ground.  So far so good!

NY-6-point-buck-11-15-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

My 1st buck ever! It as a nice size deer, with a small 6 point rack. Cortland, NY 11/15/14

I do love being in the woods, like dad.  There is something so tranquil and calm, especially sitting in a tree stand, overlooking the woods, blanketed in snow, before the darkness lets the light in.  It’s really quite lovely watching the sun paint the sky with a red and yellow glow as daylight approaches.  It seems at that moment, the cold is not bothersome, in fact refreshing.  The anticipation of the day’s events hold your mind hostage, yet keeps you at peace.  A feeling that needs to be experienced, for words do it no justice.

Hunting started out like it typically does, nothing, nothing, nothing, until that something.  Dad saw a deer wondering through the trees.  Actually, the conversation, which consisted in a loud whisper because dad is hard of hearing, went something like this.

Dad:  There!  Past the big stump.  Do you see it?
Me:  Where?
Dad:  There Heather!  Do it see it move its head?  To the right of the (some species of tree).
Me:  Where?
Dad:  Heather!  Look straight down past the big stump! (while there are several large stumps with blown over trees)
Me:   O think I see it! (I did see its backside for a brief moment)
Dad:  Do you see it?  It went behind the trees.
Me:  No.
Dad:  Do you see it now?
Me:  No.
Dad:  Do you see it now?
Me:  No.

Repeat that last part for about a half an hour.  I could not see the deer to save my soul.  At first, I thought I saw it briefly, but then it was behind a cluster of trees and out of my vision, or at least that’s what I’m claiming.  It also took me off guard that my dad, who is in his sixties with questionable eyesight, spotted the deer that far away, at least one hundred fifty yards, through obstacles.  Initially, I was looking closer to us, till I realized dad was looking at a large stump way down over the hill among the trees, through the brush.

The rest of the conversation continued with:
Dad:  There, its moving to the right.  Do you see it?
Me: (as I looked toward the left with my scope)
Dad:  Your other right!
Me:  (I chuckled a bit, for I was starting to get stressed out and flustered) O I see it!  (This time I actually did!)

Hastily, I lined up the deer in my scope and shot through the brush… and missed.  To make sure, dad had me get out of the tree stand and check out the scene to make sure it wasn’t wounded.

Naturally, once on the ground, I couldn’t find the location of the action.  While walking around an area, I looked up to see dad waving me in the right direction.  Now, I was able to really chuckle to myself, for I am always directionally challenged.  Eventually, dad must have been frustrated, so he too got down from the tree stand and trekked toward me to look around.  We saw no signs of the deer and most importantly no blood.  Total miss.  A little disappointing, but the day was still young.

Trail-to-tree-stand-NY-11-15-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The trail leading up to our tree stand in Cortland, NY 11/15/14

By the time we got back to the tree stand, dad was stripping off his neck warmer and hat and breathing heavy.  I had to wait for him to enter the stand first, since he’s so large and awkward, it makes it easier on him, and me, to use all the space to get adjusted before I plant my bottom down.  Dad needed to take a minute to catch his breath at the lander, before heading up.  Being a stinker and in not bad shape, I simply said, “Does someone need more cardio?”  Ya, dad gave me a snarly look, but totally worth it.

The next few hours weren’t very exciting, that is until dad pointed out a few does.  Picking out the largest one, I shot her at a close fifty to seventy-five yards.  We went through the process of getting out of the stand again, inspecting the harvest and tagging it with my name, and getting back in the stand again.  Believe it or not, that was my very first deer.  Yes, I did hunt when I was younger, but I never got anything.  I took a hiatus for many years before returning to my roots.

Believe it or not, in less than an hour later, even before I could get cold again, I saw a buck walking through the trees.  This one I spotted on my own.  I now had deer vision.  At this point, my heart was pounding and I was getting nervous.  Once dad spotted the graceful beast, which didn’t take him long, he coached me a bit.  “Wait for it to get out of the brush, don’t try shooting through the brush.”  He spoke in a whisper.  After watching the buck in my sights for what seemed like an hour, it finally gave me a clear shot, with less than a minute window to react at about one hundred twenty-five yards away.  I did, and the result?  I harvested my very first buck!  It was a nice size deer, no doubt I knew it would yield a lot of good meat.  How many points?  The buck had a small rack in relation to its body, but there were six points!  Dad was really proud of me; for the solid shot, for providing food for the table, for my first buck, for my efforts to keep our hunting tradition alive, you name it dad was happy!  He gave me a big old hug and a smile that lit up the already bright sunny blue sky.  It was a good day!  One I will always remember.

Now that my tags were filled, dad was next.  The rest of the day was uneventful, with the exception of gutting and skinning my deer.  That night everyone met at Larry’s house for some late night snacks, to show off everyone’s harvests and to share stories.  We stayed for a good while before our eyelids became heavy and the anticipation of the next day was overwhelming.

Sunday was much like Saturday, only a bit colder.  Early in the day, dad filled his doe tag, but not his buck.  The guys made a rule to those seasoned hunters, that they were only allowed to shoot eight points or better.  The only exception was me and the kids and those who have never shot a buck before.  We were allowed any number of points.  Did we see any bucks at all?  Nope.

Funny story.  During August or September, dad and I made a day trip to Cortland to bring our extra tree stand and help clean up, getting ready for deer season.  On our way back, I noticed all these birds sitting on the highway signs.  I mean, it seemed like thousands of them!  Every time I pointed it out, dad would drive by and miss this gathering of birds.  Repeating this phenomena at least twice, dad missed both.  By the time we came to a third sign, dad looked up and said, “Boy look at all those birds, looks like they’re going to bend the sign!” with total sarcasm.  I looked up to see about three birds sitting on the metal pole.  “Not funny!”  I told dad and tried to justify my observation.  The entire way home and after, dad teased me about the birds that bent the sign.  Whatever!

New-York-Deer-Hunting-11-15-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The Trooper Hunt Club in Cortland, NY. 1st day of rifle season. I got a buck & doe. Great harvest! 11/15/14

Well, as we sat there, all these geese started flying over head.  Naturally, they were making all kinds of noise.  There must have been a hundred, even though it seemed like a thousand.  The funny part, they flew in small sections, continuously making noise.  It went on for about fifteen minutes.  I couldn’t help myself, I started laughing.  Dad chimed in to say, “I bet they’re going to bend a pole.”  I was cracking up!  It was one of those silly moments, which are rare with my dad, who takes hunting very seriously.

A little later, dad pulled a Kyle.  He got out his trail mix and was trying to open the plastic bag, which was SO noisy.  It sounded like something Kyle would do.  I gave him a look of ‘Are you done yet?’.  That sparked me to say, “Ok, Kyle.”  Dad and I snickered and then started telling Kyle stories to humor ourselves, but mostly because we missed our little man so much.

Where was Kyle?  He wasn’t able to join us on our trip.  He already missed too much school, plus he was sick from the week before, still holding onto a cold.  The trip wasn’t the same without Kyle, but a good regardless.  Everything is more adventurous and fun with Kyle!  Maybe next year.

By Monday, it warmed up a bit, with steady rain ALL day.  It was a cold, bone chilling rain that was not comfortable to sit in.  Being the only ones in the woods, dad and I moved out of our wet spot to another tree stand nearby with a roof.  Well, in my opinion, it was too late since I was already sopping wet.  Dad and I stuck it out till about 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm before calling it a day.  I even hiked through the pine trees to push some deer toward dad with no luck.  We didn’t see any deer and we both knew they were hunkered down not moving, waiting out the rain too.  Eventually, we retreated to the local convenience store for some soup and hot chocolate (dad got coffee).

It took our little space heater in our motel room the rest of the day and all night to dry out our gear.  During our down time, which dad napped a bit, I brought my iPad to get some work done and enjoy the quiet time (with the exception of dad’s snoring).

By Tuesday morning, we decided to hunt a half day and before heading home.  That night the temperatures dropped, forming ice over everything and luckily enough, snow also fell to give some traction to the slick roads.  It was cold!  I mean really, really cold!  The temperatures were in the twenties with major wind, giving the feeling of single digits.  After about two or three hours, we both buckled and went home.  In that time, I walked for about an hour, trying to kick up deer and push them toward dad.  No such luck.  I didn’t even see fresh tracks.  It was time to exit stage right.

I do enjoying hunting, but the best part is spending time with dad in the woods.  God blessed us with a great harvest!  Can’t wait for Pennsylvania’s hunting season to start!  This time I get to hunt with Kyle!

Thank you to Larry, his family and everyone in New York for the hospitality!  I had a great time and I look forward to meeting up with everyone next year.

 

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Hunting: Why I Hunt

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  ~Maimonides

Kyle-smiling-at-trail-cam-1-9-11-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle hamming it up on dad’s trail cam. 1/9/11

Recently, I saw a Facebook entry questioning the practice of hunting, especially posting pictures of the harvested deer.  I take that back, I’ve seen many posts praising hunting and many opposing the practice.  I wanted to respond, but I know I couldn’t justify my actions in a few words, however, hopefully I could get my point across to naysayers through a few more words, actually many many more.  I don’t’ want to single anyone out because this is not about bashing, but simply informing and educating.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can about my family, some of my friends, and me personally.  Sure, there are those who don’t hold the same opinions as I do with respect to hunting, and there are those who give the practice a bad connotation.  Again, I can only outline what I know and hopefully teach through my experiences.

Before I go into detail, I would rather see a picture of a deer harvested from the woods and prepared for dinner, than see it splattered all over the highway.  Over population of deer is very dangerous and a real problem.  That’s why hunting is regulated by the Game Commission and is a legal practice.  Some remote parts of the world only survive on hunting and wild game.  Would you rather a family starve to death, instead of consuming the wild beasts God provided?  Would anyone deny hunting to those tiny communities in Alaska whereas a bear or a moose feeds an entire village?  Guess what?  It takes generations of teaching this skill and a lot of practice to accomplish said goal.  A person can’t just wake up one day and know what to do and the ethical practices with respect to hunting.

FB-entry-Aunt-Heather-PiperIdea of Hunting
Hunting is not about the kill, sure that is in deed what happens, but that is not the true end result.  The absolute result is about providing food for the family; good quality, natural deer meat, which is the healthiest meat to consume and not prepackaged prepared stuff sold in the grocery stores, loaded with preservatives and toxic junk.

My family not only harvests the deer, but we butcher our own meat.  The entire process straight from the woods to the skillet.  Some of the deer meat is canned, (yes it’s very tasty) some made into jerky and bologna and most of it is cut up into steaks and roasts and ground meat to be wrapped and frozen for later consumption.

I don’t judge those who take their meat to another facility to have it butchered.  Some may not know how to cut up a deer, for they were never taught.  Or they don’t have the space and equipment to do so.  The materials for this process alone are expensive and time consuming.  I am blessed because I do know how to cut up a deer and prepare it for storage, and I have the material to do so.  In fact, dad and I are pretty quick at gutting and skinning the deer in the woods and when needed, sectioning it up, especially if it’s freezing cold outside!

From there, my parents have the all the equipment to cut up the meat into steaks, roasts, ground meat, bologna etc, nothing gets wasted.  Growing up, my parents didn’t have much.  No exaggeration.  For my mom to buy box cereal was a luxury item.  However, we never went hungry and my family never asked for a hand out, and no one ever paid our way, not even the government.  Nope, instead we relied on hard work with our garden and hunting to provide food for the table.  Hunting was a means for survival, like it was designed to be.  It was never about the kill but about providing for the table.  Sure it’s also a favorite pastime and hobby, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with combining necessity and fun.

Benny-Chad-Jimmy-Scanlon-Hunting-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Cousins Benny, Chad & Jimmy Scanlon. Chad passed away from a brain tumor 9/4/94 – 5/25/07. They captured every moment they could before his passing.

Picture Taking
Getting back to the idea of taking a picture with the trophy of the hunt.  Taking a picture not only records the actions at that present, but it also captures memories and the reality of survival.  So when I post a picture of me or my nephew or whoever, with a freshly harvested deer, it’s not about showing off death and killing, but pride for being able to be a part of providing for the family.  That is a true honor, which I wish more people would be able to experience.  For if they did, others would learn to respect firearms and their food source more.  Same with gardening.  If more people solely, or mostly lived off of their hard word with gardening, there would be a greater respect for fresh food and healthy eating.

Granted, when my dad was young, picture taking was a rarity (not only because dad didn’t and still doesn’t’ know how to work a camera or phone) because of the generation.  They didn’t have social media, but they did share stories and passing around the horns of the kill instead of taking pictures.  That’s how to teach younger generations to learn what to do and what to expect, through visuals.

Did you know some kids truly don’t know where meat come from?  In some ways, we as a society are becoming to removed from reality.  It’s not healthy and damaging.

I cherish every picture I have of my brother, especially those with my dad and him in the woods, doing what they both loved, hunting.

Above is a picture of my cousins (Benny and Jimmy’s mother was Helen Piper).  The youngest in the picture is Chad Scanlon, my thirteen year old cousin who passed away from a brain tumor.  The Chad Delier Scanlon Story They tried to capture every moment of his short life.  Can you blame them?  Life happens quickly, I wish I would have captured more pictures of Ryan in the woods hunting, with or without the harvested animals.

Keeping Traditions
Hunting is a tradition, a long honored tradition in the Piper family, regardless of gender.  Everyone is treated the same, no one is snubbed in our family when it comes to hunting.  It was always a family activity, my mom, sister, brother, dad, cousins, aunts, uncles and now my nephew.  All aspects of hunting have been learned from generations before.  In fact, my one rifle was handed down from my pap, to my brother, and after his passing, to me.  Eventually, the rifle will end up in Kyle’s hands, Ryan’s son.

There is more to hunting than going out with a rifle, and plugging a deer.  Nope, first is starts with learning to load the shells, shoot, and clean and maintain the firearms.

Loading
All summer long we load our own shells with the exception of .22 bullets, and target shoot at the range.  Loading our own rifle shells is a science and is becoming a lost art.  Recently, I was made aware that not a lot of people know this practice.  Well, I do!  And Kyle does.  Dad has made it a point to pass down his knowledge of loading to us, like he did with Ryan.  It’s really important to dad to keep this tradition alive, and for that I am very grateful.  The more I learn, the more hunting means to me and I appreciate.

Kyle-at-shooting-range-pick-up-pins-11-10-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle at the shooting range practicing with bowling pins. 11/10/13

Learning to Shoot
Even target shooting is a real skill.  Sure, it sounds easy going out in the woods and pulling the trigger.  That’s the basis of the action, but there is so much more to it than that.  First, learning to shoot at various distances is a practiced skill.  And learning to shoot through a scope is a big difference between shooting with open sights.

Sometimes the rifle isn’t shooting straight and learning to shoot in a gun to line up the sights properly is another skill.  Yes, there are methods such as taking the rifle to get it boresighted, but that’s not always a guarantee for shooting dead on.

Then, there’s different ways to shoot, off of a guide like a bi-pod or tri-pod, or free standing.  There’s a difference between fifty yards and two hundred yards.  I myself am pretty good up to two hundred yards, at the target range.  There’s a big difference between shooting at a piece of paper with a cross-hair marked in red, and a moving one in the woods.

The woods contain a ton of obstacles including brush and weather conditions and time.  That’s the hardest part for me, waiting, quietly.  Sometimes it takes hours and hours before a deers makes its appearance, if at all.  The deer don’t just show up at a convenient location and wait around for someone to shoot either.  Nope.  They could be running, walking, either head on, walking away or moving side to side, which is ideal to shooting the deer in the front shoulder.  My dad has taught me to drop a deer with one shot, and you know what?  Every time I’ve shot a deer, I dropped it with one bullet, within a minute from the bullet exiting the barrel of my gun.  (please note, I’ve only ever shot three deer to date, and there were misses in there too).  However, it doesn’t always work out that way, even with a seasoned professional like my dad.

Sometimes bullets will ricochet off of brush or trees and cause the bullet to miss it’s intended target spot, or the target wasn’t standing in the ideal angle for a perfect kill. With every bullet fired, dad investigates the potential death of the deer, especially if it’s wounded.  Dad has always, and even in his older age, continues to track EVERY wounded deer, even if it results in miles and miles of tracking.  Dad doesn’t believe in shooting an animal to let it suffer or waste the meat.

Tacking
Even learning to track a deer can be a challenge.  Sure, it’s not so bad when it’s snowing and there is a lot of blood loss, but try it when there’s no mud trail or blood trail and possibly a lot of brush to tackle.

Respecting the Rules
Then, there’s knowing what you are shooting within seconds before pulling the trigger.  Sometimes it’s only buck season, or the rules dictate a certain number of points on the horns.   Rules?  Yes, there are formal rules maintained by the Game Commission and there are unspoken rules, ones that aren’t necessarily illegal, just respectful.  Like what?  Shooting a deer that is bedded down is not very sporting. Shooting a very young deer is not very sporting.  Leaving an animal to waste is not very sporting.  Leaving an animal to suffer on purpose is not very sporting.

Kyle-&-Scooby-on-trail-cam-1-9-11-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle & Scooby playing on the trail cam. 1/9/11

Learning the Deer Habits
Even before a shot is fired, learning the habits of the deer should be addressed.  Usually we go hiking through the woods in the summer and or fall, preparing for hunting season, following tracks, taking note of rub marks on trees, looking for bedded down grass or weeds where they hunker down, so on and so forth.  Even when sitting during hunting season, deer don’t just jump out waving a flag.

Many times, the hunter needs to have a three hundred sixty degree awareness for all moving animals in the area.  Sometimes looking a couple hundred yards, through crooked trees and brush and branches over rocks into valleys or up hillsides, for an animal that might be creeping like a ninja.  Did I mention sometimes it’s snowing or raining or the sun is shinning in the eyes, not always perfect conditions?

Tree Stands
Tree stands are a relatively new tool used by hunters.  They were more common during archery season, but have been adapted to rifle season as well.  When I was a youngster learning to hunt in the woods, I would sit on a log or a rock.  I was also taught to hunt while walking through the woods, like my dad did for many years.  Or course, it’s a harder on my sixty-some-year-old dad to do that nowadays.  Sure, being in a tree stand does have its advantages, but not always.

Cleaning the Rifles
Throughout the year, the rifles are cleaned and maintained.  Dad has taught us all the proper way to clean and oil our guns, in a safe manner. Usually this is done late summer before hunting season, depending on how much the firearm was shot.

Kyle-&-Dad-at-shooting-range-8-25-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad & Kyle at target range, shooting in rifles. 8/25/13

Family Bonding
Like dad, I too love being out in the woods, sitting in nature.  It’s very peaceful and serene.  That I chalk up to being a Piper.

Some of my favorite memories with the entire family include hunting.  Even to this day, every time we head to the woods, whether hunting or not, dad always seems to reminiscence about Ryan and their time together in the woods.  Those memories are priceless.  Even my First Day of Hunting – My Story was an adventure that still cracks me up to this day.  Not to mention all the stories I can tell about Kyle and his own hunting adventures with us.

Hunting isn’t something that started with my dad’s generation, or my pap’s generation, but generations upon generations before.  This is the means people have practiced for survival since the beginning of time. It saddens me to see these true traditions are slipping away to the unknown or criticized when they are a part of everyone’s roots, like it or not.  My dad is a true hunter, even in his older age.  He has this sense about him that can’t be taught, but is either innately built in or has been engrained over the years.  Something I haven’t seen a lot of, something I wish I possessed.

Hunting-season-NY-11-15-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A portion of the woods in Cortland, New York for deer season. 11/15/14

Granted, I didn’t address everything including safety, pushing deer, and all about sportsmanship.  But after going through all this, I believe taking a picture of my hard work is justifiable.  Perhaps, many people don’t like to view these images and prefer to live in ignorance with blinders on.  If the pictures are offensive, hiding the posts are in everyone’s right.  But remember, it’s all about the intent of the action, not the perceived intent, but the actual intent.  I don’t believe the pictures I’ve seen are malicious in any way, simply a picture of accomplishment.

I would never choke my way of life down anyone’s throat, never.  But I also would never speak out against something I don’t understand or have never experienced.  God made us all different so we would rely on each other and learn from one another.  (As long as what we’re doing it morally responsible)  Personally, I invite anyone that criticizes or speaks ill of hunting, that has not experience the tradition, to join me for one hunting season.  Not to shoot, but to assist me in most aspects that I’ve discussed, at least before speaking out negatively with the time honored practice.

Sure not a lot of hunters know what I have been taught, and there are a lot of hunters who give hunting a bad reputation, but the only way to change that is to maintain the true way of hunting, and to pass along the respect I have been taught to the young generations.  Happy Hunting!

On a side note, Hunting-of-a-Lifetime does a lot with kids dealing with terminal diseases.  The Chad Delier Scanlon Memorial Fund sponsors a youngster every year who always wanted to hunt.  I believe the families of these kids cherish the pictures of their child with the harvested animal.

 

This is a great article with respect to hunting.

www.fox23.com_f90cd3f076f74cdb89dfb24d35c86acd

 

 

*Look for another post telling about my adventures hunting with dad in New York this past weekend.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Painting Warmachine

People do not change, they are merely revealed.  ~Anne Enright

Kyle-modeling-a-book-bag-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle modeling a drawstring book bag for Thrill of the Hunt c. 2012

Kyle’s newest interest is called Warmachine.  Warmachine Tournament  It’s a game that young and old play, whereas the players purchase an army of models and battle each other in tournaments and in fun games.  Even though it’s more in depth than that, that’s my boiled down version.

Warmachine consists of model figures, some plastic and some metal.  The players not only glue their pieces together to reveal the creature or warrior, they also paint them and add embellishments for a desired effect, depending on the army.  There are actual competitions for best artwork!  Yep, in the Warmachine world, these model pieces are a really BIG DEAL!  Participating in the actual game holds no interest to me, unlike Kyle’s Aunt Nikki, but I sure can get into painting.  Kyle knows it!

Last weekend, Kyle wasn’t feeling his best.  He was all congested and just plain miserable.  As the weekend progressed, Kyle was starting to heal and come back to the land of healthy.  As a result, he was feeling a little bit crafty, which in turn made me a bit crafty.  Only because he recruited me to help him paint his Warmachine figurines.

Because Kyle was Pushing My Buttons a few weeks ago, I took away his new Warmachine models as punishment.  A threat that resonated with him BIG TIME.  He didn’t get these game pieces back until last Saturday.  Since he was being so good, and he really was, and I felt bad for him being sick, I buckled and returned his models.  Boy was that chicken soup for his soul, he lit up with pure excitement!

I love doing activities with Kyle, some more so than others, but this one I will admit I do enjoy.  We both sat in the living-room with his chess size figurines that he had previously glued and primered, and began adding color and accenting armor weaponry.  Kyle dictated the color schemes for each, and I gladly followed his instructions, enjoying our quiet time.  After all, it’s his game and I’m just a worker bee.

While painting with a very fine paint brush, trying to use a steady hand, Kyle admitted to me that this was his least favorite part of Warmachine.  In a way I had that feeling, for Kyle is not much of a crafty kid, nor was he ever into coloring and painting.  Even as a youngster, I tried to get him interested in art, drawing and painting with him and taking him to gallery shows and museums, but nope Kyle is genetically designed for other interests, and I guess that includes Warmachine.

Kyles-Warmachine-Figurines-11-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper-

Kyle’s Warmachine figurines 11/2014

My family and I support Kyle’s interest in Warmachine one hundred percent, in moderation of course.  I’m truly glad he found something he enjoys and is not mind numbing or troublesome for the soul.  From what I’ve seen and experienced, Warmachine is an interactive strategy game that is a challenge for all players and requires the use of the brain and pure thinking.  Basically it’s a board game, just a little unconventional, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,Patience,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Latrobe Theme & Variations Art Gala

All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.  ~Federico Fellini

Mom-&-friends-at-Latrobe-Art-Gala-11-6-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Latrobe Art Gala in the auditorium. Mom, Aunt Carol, Kathy Dominick & Donna Fannie 11/6/14

Last Tuesday mom, Aunt Carol and I, attended the Theme and Variations art gala at the Greater Latrobe High School.  This wasn’t a typical high school function.  Nope!  When Latrobe does something, we go all out, turning the already elegant school entrance way into a ballroom with stations upon stations of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.  The art not only included the impressive school collection consisting of hundreds of pieces of work from established artists curated over the years, but it also included the art hand chosen for the gala.  Again, local artists.

Like many, I too take Latrobe’s art collection for granted.  Our school halls have always been decorated with an eclectic arrangement of artists using a variety of mediums, even before my grandpap Chester, along with Mr. Fred Rogers graduated from Latrobe in 1937 at the old school (currently Latrobe Elementary School, LES) and long before my mom, who was the first graduating class from the new high school (current location), my Alma Mater.  While studying art in high school, we were exposed to the culture that surrounded us on a daily basis.  Personally, I wish I knew more about our collection and was required to do so.  I have always been proud of the acquired art, and that pride has only intensified over the years.  Trying to  get that message across to Kyle is a bit of a challenge, or perhaps he does get it but doesn’t want to give me the satisfaction of showing it, either or are very possible with Kyle.

My-Neighor-by-Kathy-Rafferty-11-6-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A piece in the Latrobe art collection, My Neighbor by Kathy Rafferty

When speaking with those who have not been exposed to Latrobe High School, I always forget about our influence by culture in the arts is a rarity.  A privilege not a lot of schools and their students experience.  I’ve actually encountered individuals from other learning facilities who were amazed at the quality of the school, especially the art that lines the halls.  Usually the comments consist something like “Do they ever get vandalized?” and “How do you protect your art?”.  Seriously, until those questions were brought to light, I never thought about it.  You see, much like a family, it’s all how your were raised.  Latrobe students were raised on the arts, at the very least exposed to it early on.  There is always an underlying respect for our collection, which I believe resonates in the minds of the students, whether they are aware of it or not.  Like anything, introducing a child to something early and it will be a part of them for life.  Unfortunately, sometimes those privileges are taken for granted.

Latrobe is also known for our music programs, athletics and academic excellence, but today I’m focusing on the arts, my personal passion.

What was this gala about?  It was an event, not only to view and appreciate local artists, but it was a way to bring the community together to vote on the next piece of art joining the collection.  Yes, everyone attending had a vote, as did the Latrobe schools: elementary, junior high and high school.   This function brings young and old together, from people of all art appreciation levels and understandings, and all sorts of backgrounds.

Portrait-Study-by-Mara-Light-Latrobe-Art-Gala-11-6-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The winner of the art gala at Latrobe High School is titled Portrait Study by Mara Light 11/6/14

In my opinion, Latrobe should be used as an example for surrounding and national schools alike.  I believe we have discovered a simple underlying solution to respect for the community, our heritage and ourselves.  It not only is present in the art, but how we elevate the arts and bring everyone together to celebrate in our local accomplishments.

When discussing the subject matter of art, the question of ‘What is art?’ always comes to mind.  Perhaps it was my education going through the art program at Seton Hill University that always has me thinking, for we were asked to define that very question.  To me art is history, whether it’s art imitating life or life imitating art, it can’t be denied, it’s history.  There is a specific year always tied to a piece, or sometimes several years.  Looking at the paintings displayed at Latrobe High School, usually the year it was completed, directly reflects the happenings at the time, although not always.  Still art is a time piece that can be and should be revisited time and time again.

So who was the winner?  It was Portrait Study by Mara Light.  Her painting also ranked among the ones selected by the students.  It’s a beautiful piece of mixed media that included gauze as part of the painting.  A truly striking painting that captured my attention immediately.

It was a wonderful night of beautiful artwork, all stunning and very talented artists!  I can’t wait until next year’s gala.  I wish I was more involved in the arts, after all, Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas are very supportive.

It’s great to see Latrobe excelling in all aspects of learning, especially with their continued interest and support for the arts over all these years.  Go Wildcats!

Below is the program booklet from Tuesday.  I scanned it to give credit to all the artists,  the donors,  and to all of those who helped organize the event.  Thank you!

Latrobe-Art-Gala-Booklet-1-11-6-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Latrobe-Art-Gala-Booklet-2 11-6-14 Aunt Heather Piper

Latrobe-Art-Gala-11-6-14-Booklet-3-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Latrobe-Art-Gala-Booklet-4-11-6-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Seton Hill University

I would wish to fit you for that world in which you are destined to live.  ~Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Educate a woman and you educate generations.  ~Sr. M. De Chantal Leis

Seton-Hill-University-Panel-Dr.-Giunta-Mike-Aunt-Heather-Piper-11-4-14

Me, Dr. Catherine Giunta & Mike Fecik at Seton Hill University for the Customer Centricity Panel, Cecilian Hall 11/4/14

This past Tuesday, I was asked to be a part of the Customer Centricity panel at Seton Hill University.  Dr. Catherine Giunta, my adviser when I attended Seton Hill for marketing management, asked me to join the panel, totaling of three alumni.  In fact, I’ve been included as part of the venue every year since its inception in 2011.

Speaking to Dr. Giunta’s MBA and undergraduate business majors is an honor, one I enjoy.  Not because I like to build presentations, which I do, but because it helps me reflect on Thrill of the Hunt and my own business model.  It’s a great exercise to go through to truly reevaluate the direction of the company and it recharges my energies when discussing my start-up and the progress made.  Having students interested in Thrill of the Hunt and inquire about the steps and the processes I took to get to present day, is inspirational.  Plus, public speaking is a talent that needs to be exercised.  This is a perfect way to do so.

Over the years, Thrill of the Hunt has built scavenger hunts for Seton Hill’s homecoming block party Discovering Greensburg in the Rain, Scavenger Hunts – Getting Our Start at Seton Hill University & Continuing and as part of the alumni weekend activities.  Building these scavenger hunts are a lot of fun and educational, not only for those participating in the scavenger hunt, but for me as well.  I try to incorporate history or fun trivia as part of the game, in turn, I usually learn a thing or two.

Since I’ve spoken about Random Fun Facts:  Saint Vincent College and Random Fun Facts:  Latrobe, Pennsylvania, why not my old Alma Mater?  Join me as I outline some of the history that created the tree lined drive, to the top of the hill.  Seton Hill, a place where a whole new world exists, one that is working to make a difference with its students and community.

Random Fun Facts:  Seton Hill University

Sullivan-Hall-Seton-Hill-University-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2004

My black & white photography, Sullivan Hall at Seton Hill University 2004

History

  • Founded in 1885 as a college (Seton Hill Conservatory of Music & Seton Hill Conservatory of Art)
  • Seton Hill was named in honor of Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton,  founder of the Sisters of Charity & the 1st American-born saint

A statue of her is in the lower level of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  On one of my trips to visit my sister, Nicole, mom and myself went to mass there & toured the Catholic Church.

  • August 7, 1882, Mother Aloysia Lowe (Mother Superior of the Pennsylvania Sisters of Charity) purchased the hilltop farmland for the site of a Mother House for the Sisters in the region
  • The farmland was known as the Jennings farm
  • In 1883, Saint Joseph Academy, boarding school for girls was established & operated until 1947
  • In 1914, the Sisters opened the Seton Hill Junior College & in 1918, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved Seton Hill’s charter for a four-year institution of higher learning
  • April 21, 1887, the cornerstone for the new building was laid in place
  • Everyone in attendance of the ground breaking ceremony, each signed their name to a scroll of paper that was placed in the cornerstone of the building (along with a medal, rosary, or relic from each, copies of the newspapers of the day, a number of rare coins, & pictures of Bishops Phelan & Tuigg)
  • 1887 – the Sisters’ Mother House were permanently & officially established at Seton Hill
  • 1887 – 1st year a class graduated from Saint Joseph Academy (The Saint Joseph Academy class of 1887 consisted of Sarah Sullivan, Rose Padden, Anastasia Casey & Alice Akers)
  • 1889 – Saint Mary’s Preparatory School for Boys moved from Blairsville, Pennsylvania to Saint Mary Convent at Seton Hill (since then always referred to as Saint Mary’s Hall)
  • 1908 – Maura Hall (originally called Saint Mary’s Seminary) was completed to serve the boys of Saint Mary’s School
  • Seton Hill was a working farm from time of purchase until the 1960s
  • In 1909 the original barn, located near the bend in the current drive burned to the ground
  • In 1911, The Pennsylvania Railroad built a new road to bridge the gap between Seton Hill’s hilltop buildings to College Avenue at the bottom of the hill  (prior to, it was a long wooden boardwalk)
  • 1914 – The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was built in a wooded alcove below the Administration Building (remains to this day)
  • April 1916 the coal rights to 18 acres of the property were sold.  The proceeds were used to fund the construction of new buildings
  • 1921 – Mother Mary Raymond Creed was inaugurated as 2nd president of Seton Hill
  • 1923 – Saint Joseph Dormitory completed
  • 1924 – Saint Mary’s School for Boys discontinued
  • October 25, 1929 – official opening of Sullivan Hall (called the activities building for nearly 20 years)
  • 1930 – Seton Hill establishes its Honors Program
  • 1931 – Rev. James A. Wallace Reeves inaugurated as 5th president of Seton Hill
  • September 30, 1958 Reeves Library was dedicated (named for Seton Hill’s 5th president)
  • Reeves Library houses Reeves Theatre & Harlan Gallery
  • Fall of 1958 – Havey Hall opened (Havey Hall named after the 1st president of the College, Mother Mary Joseph Havey)
  • Fall of 1965 – Brownlee Hall (named for Sr. Francesca Brownlee, 1st academic dean of the College) opened
  • 1970 – Sr. Mary (Thecla) Schmidt inaugurated as 7th president of Seton Hill
  • 1970 – the Clay Frick Lynch Hall of Science completed (commonly known as Lynch Hall)
  • September 14, 1975 – Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized (founder of the Sisters of Charity)
  • In 1986 – the School of Fine Arts began accepting male students interested in pursuing majors in art, theatre, communication & music
  • 1987 – JoAnne Boyle, Ph.D. (a 1957 graduate of Seton Hill) was inaugurated as 9th president
  • 1987 – National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education as established at Seton Hill (in response to Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Holocaust and to “promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today”)
  •  April 19, 2005 – McKenna Center Opened (The Katherine Mabis McKenna Center)
  • September 2009 – the Performing Arts Center opened (73,000 square foot)
Saint-Joseph-Chapel-Seton-Hill-Univsersity-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Saint Joseph Chapel at Seton Hill University. My color photography 2004

Saint Joseph Chapel

  • On November 18, 1896 – Saint Joseph Chapel (“the heart of Seton Hill”) was dedicated
  • Pillars of rose Georgian marble & side altars of Carerra marble
  • 18 stained glass windows (including 2- 16 foot rose windows & a circular angel window in the ceiling above the altar)
  • Hand carved wooden pews
  • Artist Mother Joseph Doran directed the construction of the chapel & designed the stained-glass figures in its south front doors
  • Donations from the families & friends of the Sisters furnished the chapel including gold jewelry, which was melted down & reformed as a halo for the statue of the Virgin Mary
  • Above the main entrance stained glass window depicts the values dear to the  Sisters of Charity: humility, simplicity & charity (actual words are part of the stain glass)
  • Pipe organ was donated by Andrew Carnegie a few years after the chapel’s completion
  • The wing housing Saint Joseph Chapel contains Cecilian Hall (The same hall I spoke in for the Customer Centricity Panel)
  • November 11, 1998 the Tenzin Gyatso (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet) visited Seton Hill Mister Fred Rogers  introduced the Dalai Lama at the 1st public lecture
  • 2011 – The 112-year-old Administration Building re-opened (3-years of renovation)
  • 2002 -Seton Hill College was granted University status by the Pennsylvania Department of Education & became Seton Hill University
  • 2002 – Seton Hill officially became coeducational
  • September 2004 – Farrell Hall (residence hall named for former president Eileen Farrell) opened
Admin-Building-Seton-Hill-University-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Administration Building at Seton Hill University. Black & white photography 2004

General

  • 35 miles east from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Mascot is the Griffin
  • The legendary medieval character, the griffin has a head, beak & wings of an eagle & the body & tail of a lion As per the myth, griffins are blessed with the speed, flight & penetrating vision of the eagle, & the strength, courage & majesty of the lion.  Symbolically this represents the combination of intelligence & strength
  • School colors are crimson and gold
  • University motto is Hazard yet Forward
  • Originally the campus sat on 200 acres of old farmland, near downtown Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Curriculum

  • In 1914, the Sisters began further their education to prepare to teach college level courses
  • In 1914 the Seton Junior College opened to provide 2-years of college instruction for women
  • 1992 – The National Education Center for Women in Business (re-named E- Magnify in 2006), was established
  • In 2006 – E- Magnify achieved designation as a Women’s Business Center (WBC) by the U.S. Small Business Administration
  • 1995 – Seton Hill College offered first 2 graduate programs (Master of Arts in Elementary Education & a Master of Arts in Art Therapy)
  • 2,000+ students attend the university from across the U.S. & around the world
  • 80 + undergraduate, 8 graduate degree programs offered & an adult degree program & advanced certifications in a variety of disciplines
Window-of-Admin-At-Seton-Hill-University-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

I had to lean out a top floor window from the Admin Building at Seton Hill University to get this shot.  Worth it!  What a beautiful view of Greensburg, Pa.  2004

There is so much more to Seton Hill than what is listed above.  The school will always have a soft spot in my heart, not only for my scholastic education, but also my cultural exposure, and the opportunities it gave me to shape my professional career and later my entrepreneur journey.  Seton Hill is like an old friend, one that has been with me through many ups and downs in my life, and has helped me through life in one way or another, while attending and post graduation.  The students, past and present, and facility are very special and are monumental to shaping lives.  I received so much more from Seton Hill than what my diplomas state.  Hazard Yet Forward!

Resoureces
http://www.setonhill.edu/aboutus/history_and_traditions/then_and_now and the Westmoreland Historic Society (books and newspaper clippings)
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments
Send to Twitter
%d bloggers like this: