Sounds of Deep Sleep … Purrrrr

I went to collect the few personal belongings which…I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.  ~Colette

Storm in Suitcase 2014 Aunt Heather Piper

While packing for Davey’s wedding in Minnesota, I turned around to find this … guess Lady Fluffington wanted to come too 4/2014

Picture it, I was laying on my back, head propped up on my pillow, fast asleep, enjoying some much needed rest, when something woke me from my dream state.  Was it someone?  No.  Was it a noise?  No.  Was it a feeling?  No.  Was it a ghost?  No.

As I was minding my own business, Storm a.k.a. Lady Fluffington got into bed and took up space next to my head.  Is that unusual?  No, but what she did was never done before, at least not to my knowledge.  She deliberately laid her furry tail across my face.  Now that was a first!  I was actually half awake and half asleep, moving my head from side to side, blowing puffs of air out of my mouth and nose, like you do with a piece of fuzz, trying to remove the tickle from my skin.  Even through those actions, I still couldn’t pull myself completely out of sleep, to fully comprehend what was happening.

The best part?  Her tail rested under my nose on my upper lip!  If someone actually saw that, that would have been hilarious!

Instead of rolling over or removing the fuzzy extremity from my face, still half asleep, I began to pet Lady Fluffington as an automated response.  Really?  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for that little ball of fur.  Well, naturally her reaction was to start purring.  That did it for me, I actually fell back asleep with her tail across my face, to wake in the morning fully rested.  Once the purr engine rolled to life, I don’t remember another minute of the situation.

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Lady Fluffington getting back to her wild side… among the grapes 9/2/13

Seriously?  Oh, yes!  Forget the babbling brook, the crashing waves, or the sounds of nature, a cat’s purr can put me in a sleep comma, instantly.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’d be playing with my cats on the porch in the summer, they’d start purring and I’d wake up hours later, alongside my cats.  If you add being in close proximity to their soft warm fur, combined with the purr vibrations, it’s a lethal dosage of sleep medication for me.

As I was telling the tail (pun intended) of Lady Fluffington and how I fell asleep, would you believe no one understood the sedative effects of a cat’s purr?  I’m talking about cat people.  I get it if you’re strictly a dog person, which I happen to love my Seven too, but he has the opposite effects on me.  Nope, I have yet to meet anyone who shares my kryptonite for a cat’s purr.  Am I alone?

Only after I awoke, I realized Storm’s food bowl was empty and then my mind rushed back to the incidence, recalling that darn tail.  My guess?  She tried to wake me for a midnight snack.  Well, the joke’s on her!  She put me into a deep sleep for the duration of the night or morning or whatever time it was.

If you have trouble sleeping, try curling up to a purring cat.  I’m tell you, it does the trick every time!  Sweet dreams.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing and have No Comments

A Near Fatal Mistake

There is a sacredness in tears….They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.  ~Washington Irving

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Storm sleeping… not very ladylike. c. 2012

This story is no fun to tell and was certainly no fun to live through, however I want to share my tale to stop this situation from happening to another.  What happened?  I nearly killed my cat by mistake.

Accident or not, the results ended the same, with a near fatal blow to Storm, my cat a.k.a. Lady Fluffington.  First let me explain, Storm is a three year old short hair weighing in around nine pounds.  Our Labradors top the scales at around eighty to ninety pounds each.  Clearly they are in the extra large category, while Storm falls in the small or extra small category.

Let me explain the details leading up to this near fatal error, if for anything else to give myself a little leeway.  I have been sick off and on for nearly two months now.  I’ve had everything from bronchitis to sinus infects to tonsillitis, very unlike me.  For the past couple weeks, I was suffering from this really annoying cough.  The kind that hits you out of nowhere and you can’t stop coughing, especially in the middle of the night.  Needless to say, I’ve been pretty sleep deprived.  Last Tuesday, I woke up, from a not so good night sleep, very groggy and with a new surprise.  I opened my eye, yes only one eye because the other was swollen and infected with conjunctivitis.  Yes, in layman’s terms, pink eye.  Fortunately, I am now on the road to recovery, but not before I took Storm down with my sinking ship.

Continuing with the last Tuesday thought, I wanted to give the dogs and the cat their flea medication.  The weather is breaking and I didn’t want our pets to start off the summer with fleas and ticks.  Knowing the dog flea medication is lethal to cats, I always give Storm her dose in the morning, along with the boys, and let her out for a walk about, keeping her away until the medication soaks up in Scooby and Seven.

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How Storm got up on the deer head is beyond me. Dad would not be happy to see this, especially when I caught her gnawing on the horns c. 2013

A pretty solid plan.  That is, if done correctly.  I was half paying attention and took Storm outside and applied the flea medication to her neck.  As I was doing so, I noted there seemed to be extra flea medication in the tube.  At that moment, Storm jumped out of my hands, no doubt angry about the application and ran off.  My gut was telling me something was wrong, so I grabbed the wrapper and read, For Extra Large Dogs over 55 pounds.  Do Not Use On Cats.  What?  I messed up big time!

Actually, at first I thought I read it was for puppies under 55 pounds.  I had to look again to see correctly, that’s how out of it I was.  Upon this realization, my heart began to race and pure panic settled in.

I took off after Storm.  I didn’t want her to get too far in the woods or I would never see her again.  Naturally, she didn’t want held, so she sent me on a chase through thorn bushes, down into a creek and into my uncles field before I tackled her.

Running as fast as I could, I darted back to the house and nearly threw her in the sink and instinctively ran water over her fur, specifically the area with the flea and tick treatment.  Using Dawn dish soap, I began to scrub a very confused and stressed cat.  Trying to avoid her angry claws against my soft wet skin, I did the best I could before wrapping her in a towel and jumping on the computer.

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Storm relaxing in my lap while we watch Elementary c. 2012

Advantage II is made by Bayer.  I looked up the company and called their pet line.  Yes, they actually have a pet emergency line, obviously for careless individuals like myself.  Jessica administered to my call.  She was so sincere and helpful even at the point when my sobs caught up to me, and the tears were uncontrollable.  I felt horrible!  The entire time, Storm is soaking wet in my arms, ticked off.  I didn’t want to let her out of my sight until I knew she was safe.

The time frame, from applying the drug till I was able to give Storm her first bath was almost an hour.

Jessica instructed me to give Storm another bath with Dawn, which I guess was the only thing I did right that morning.  My question, what was going to happen to her?  Was she going to die?  Apparently there is an ingredient, permethrin, in the dog flea medication that causes muscle tremors and seizures and yes it could be fatal.  There is also no anti-drug.  It just needs to work its way out of the cat’s system.  However, I was instructed to take her to the veterinarian if the tremors got really bad.

To play it safe, I called the veterinarian’s office to warn them of the events from the morning, just in case.   The vet’s office told me to bath her again.  At this point, I did let Storm go off on her own in the confines of the house.  I kept running back to check on her after scrubbing her up again.

Now about two hours from the point of conflict, Storm was having trouble jumping on the chair and her face started to twitch.  Crap!

Calling the vet’s office again, they said they only had an opening at 1:45 pm.  It was roughly 10:00 am.  Ok, I’ll take the appointment.  However, no more than thirty minutes later, Storm really started to shake all over and convulse in complete spasms.  I called the vet’s office again to get her in now.  With a little bit of an attitude from the one girl at the front desk, she said, “Well, we’re really busy.  You can bring her in now but you’ll probably have to wait.”  There were a few choice words I wanted to say to her, but I didn’t want to waste my energy arguing.  I needed to get this cat some medical attention.

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Storm getting rest after coming out of the ICU. See her front paw was shaved for the IV. 4/23/14

The ride to the vet only takes about ten minuets.  In that time Storm really got bad!  She started to spit and then it happened, she had a full blown seizure in my arms!  What have I done?  I sped into the parking lot and ran into the office, again with eyes full of tears to only hear the one girl, behind the wall spitting with sarcasm, “O no, you can come any time, it’s not like we have appointments.”  Believe it or not, if Storm wasn’t about to have another seizure, I would have reached around the corner and grabbed her by the throat.  That was just plain wrong and she said those harsh words so I would hear her.  Didn’t anyone ever hear of an emergency?

Telling my parents about this later, my mom commented how strange that was since they are all normally very nice.  I guess not in an emergency situation when I move their cheese.

The vet, Doctor Ben, was absolutely amazing and kind.  He squeezed Storm in shortly after I arrived and explained everything to me with the blunt truth.  He didn’t want to get my hopes up for a positive or speedy recovery.  I appreciated that!

Dr. Ben took Storm for the day and gave her an IV to avoid dehydration and administered muscle relaxers to make her a bit more comfortable.  They had to watch her temperature so she didn’t spike a fever and monitor her sugar so it didn’t drop.  He also made the time in his busy schedule to have someone give Storm another bath, again trying to scrub the toxins off of her skin and out of her fur.  He even suggested that I call in the office at any time to check on Storm’s progress.

About 1:30 pm, Dr. Ben personally called me to give me an update.  Upon hearing, “Honestly, she’s getting worse.” I about died!  Trying to focus on Dr. Ben’s words, I held back my tears.  The plan of action was to keep Storm until right before they were to leave for the night at about 6:45 pm.  He would wait till the last minute to pull the IV and give her another dose of muscle relaxers to help her through till the next morning.

Dr. Ben reviewed how to take Storm’s temperature and what it should range.  He even prepared me for her appearance before he had her brought out.  Updating me on her progress during the day, he said Storm did spike a fever at one point but her sugar never dropped.  He wasn’t sure, but felt certain she might make a full recovery.  However, I was instructed to bring her in right away the next morning  if she looked the same.  Poor Storm, her entire body was shaking like she had Parkinson’s disease.

That night was a tough one, but as the hours went by, she slowly started to show signs of recovery.  Slowly might I add.  I was warned by Dr. Ben, who also called another doctor for a second opinion, and Jessica at Bayer all agreed that it would take anywhere from 24 hours to 48 hours to work its way out of my cat’s system.

An example of the cat’s reaction to the flea medication, which was totally heartbreaking to watch,  Storm’s leg involuntarily curled up under her and she fell over.  Then to hear her cry out in pain was nauseating.  There was a time Storm started to hiss and growl before a spasm hit.  She was in serious pain.

By daylight, Dr. Ben again personally called me to check on Storm and reassure me if I needed to bring her back in the office, just stop in.  Too bad his front desk girl didn’t have the same heart for this poor little kitty.

Throughout this process I kept petting Storm and massaging her muscles, which seemed to help.  Her body was still in spasms into Thursday, now two days later and twitching into Friday.

What a horrible ordeal.  I hope no one and no cat ever has to go through this.

Using my error as a learning lesson for Kyle, I told him the story when I picked him up last Friday.  I wanted to show Kyle that mistakes happen, but sometimes they are fatal and irreversible.  I’m not so sure that actually got across to my little immature man.  For some reason, probably sheer exhaustion, as I was telling Kyle the story, we both got the giggles.  Maybe I shouldn’t have demonstrated how Storm stiffened up in the car.  I didn’t mean for it to come out humorous, but there we were.  Poor Storm, laughing at her own expense.  Honestly, it was something I truly needed.  Kyle was concerned for our little kitty, but again, maturity runs lows in the Piper family and knowing Storm was fine, opened the doors for laughter.

Another funny, on Wednesday or Thursday, I received an email birthday card for Storm, marking her third birthday.  I nearly killed my cat on her birthday!

Another comical situation.  While Storm was making her recovery, I locked us in the bedroom, so she wouldn’t jump up on something, spasm and fall to the ground and get hurt.  Well, naturally she wanted out, even though the cramps were prominent and severe.  She was scratching at the door and meowing loudly under the crack to Seven, who was sniffing on the other side.  It was like she was calling out to him for help.  Just then, a stray cat from the neighborhood sat on the window seal outside and started to meow with a distressed sound.  Did Storm send out the bat signal to break her out of her temporary prison?

I’m glad I can breath a sigh of relief over what could have been a tragedy.

Thank you Jessica at Bayer and thank you Dr. Ben at Latrobe Animal Clinic.  Your support and guidance was very much appreciated!  I can not speak highly enough for both parties.  Storm thanks you too!

Here are a few clips I pulled of a healthy Storm.  She has this weird obsession with wool and any article of clothing containing the material.  I caught Storm trying to steal my sweater!

 

I heard a noise to find my cat pawing at the tub.  Why?  Who knows but she seemed to be enjoying herself.

 

 

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

Planting the Trees of Memories

Aragorn: Gimli, lower your axe.
Legolas: They have feelings, my friend. The elves began it, waking up the trees, teaching them to speak.
Gimli: Talking trees. What do trees have to talk about, hmm… except the consistency of squirrel droppings?  ~Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

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Kyle going through is basket, Easter morning…. Scooby helping. Keeping tradition with the books & kite! 4/20/14

Being sick now for weeks, I am finally on the road to recovery, even though these rainy windy days like today, make it hard to get out of bed, sick or not.  Recently, I was thinking back to what had happened over the last several weeks, while I was under the weather.  Actually, a lot went on.  Over the next few days, I will start to document the stories.

Sunday, April 20th was Easter!  A day I slept most of the daylight hours.  I did get to play Kyle at Quarto, a strategy game I purchased for him for Easter from a store in the Mall of America in Minnesota.  Naturally, Kyle won the first game.  I truly thought I had this game in the bag, but alas I was proven wrong again by a twelve year old.

On Saturday, however, it was a beautiful sunny day and I was feeling well enough to help dad in the yard.

The event of planting trees actually started way back in December over Christmas.  We purchased Chestnut trees for dad and had them mailed this spring.  Perfect Gift –  Chestnut Trees  Guess what?  They came in!  Boy was dad elated! He was looking forward to this day since he heard about his perfect gift.

What really makes these trees significant to plant around Easter, is that the orchard was always a big part of our Easter celebration.  Every year since Kyle was a wee one, we would fill multi-colored plastic eggs with money and candy and hide them around the orchard.  Yes mom and I would go out in the middle of the night after Kyle went to bed, usually late, and hide the eggs with the help of flashlights.  Then, it never failed, Kyle would wake up at 3:00 am, sometimes 4:00 am and want to go out and hunt Easter eggs left by the Easter bunny.  Even though the rest of the family remained in bed, I always got up with him, wrapped a blanket around me, slipped on my rubber boots, grabbed the flashlight and trotted out to the backyard.

Kyle always had a blast!  It was nice seeing the kid so excited in the morning, even though it was usually so dark it was hard to see him at all.  My job, was to count the findings to make sure no egg was left behind.  Although, it never failed, while mowing in the spring we would always find an egg or two.  I guess I didn’t do such a great job at counting.

This year that tradition didn’t take place, since Kyle is nearly thirteen, but it didn’t mean we couldn’t go outside and sit among our trees and freshly planted crops.

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Seven in front, Scooby behind him, Avery to the right, Gigi, & Aunt Nikki enjoying the shade while planting fruit trees. 4/19/14

That orchard holds a lot of memories, memories when Ryan was still with us.  Ryan helped to plant some of the original trees and he always mowed and weeded the area.  It was nice to have Kyle a part of that tradition and have his roots grow among the memories and stories of dad’s orchard.

When I say the family participated, I mean the entire family.  Nicole and Avery were home; the boys, Seven and Scooby; Storm and naturally the rest of us.  We all joined forces to plant the trees.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a pretty day, especially before Easter.

We dug up a couple of trees that had died over the years.  Dad was hoping each year would bring renewed life back into the brittle dead branches, but no such luck.  We pulled those out, believe it or not with the help of the pick-up truck.  Digging up the dirt around the roots to loosen the deceased cherry tree, dad wrapped a chain around the trunk and attached it to the truck, then gave it the gas.  With the help of Kyle and me loosening the dirt and pushing on the tree, the roots surfaced and we drug it to the burn pile, leaving a new hole for another life to flourish.

The day consisted of planting new trees, including finding a home for dad’s elephant ear tree and another chestnut tree.  There are about twenty fruit trees in dad’s orchard, ranging from paw paw to plum and peach and naturally apple.  He’s very proud of those trees and his blueberry bushes.

The weekend before Easter, I was in Minnesota for my good friend Davey’s wedding.  Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Seminary  That’s when Kyle helped dad plant the original two Chestnut trees purchased over Christmas.  They also planted a couple of mulberry bushes and a mystery tree that lost its tag.

During the day of playing in the dirt and hauling saplings back and forth, Dad kept saying to Kyle and the inadvertently the rest of us, “When I kick off, now you can go out and have a piece of fruit and think of me.  You’ll always have food with these trees.”

He’s right, it is nice having fruit trees in the back yard.  I enjoy them too, not only for the fruit but also for shade and the beauty of the trees, but more importantly for the memories of planting the trees with the family and watching them grow.  Perhaps that is the most valuable part of dad’s orchard.

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Kyle using the digging iron to open the hole where we pulled a dead fruit tree, to only replace it with another. Dad was supervising. 4/19/14

On a side note, during the day the neighbor boy Philip was out walking his dog Thor.  They stopped over to say hi and visit.  Avery was excited to see another dog, as was Seven.  Scooby on the other hand, had to be placed in dad’s truck for the duration of the visit, he’s not very nice.  We call him the enforcer or the grumpy old man.  While in the front seat of the truck, which he usually rides shotgun, no one would have thought Scooby, would do what he did.  He jumped out the window!  Yes!  He pulled an underdog and flew out the open window and charged Thor.  Dad broke up the little altercation without incident.

Personally, I stood in shock.  Our nonathletic, clunky and slow moving dog jumped out of a truck window, down on the side of a hill and was able to speed past us like the breeze.  Truly amazing!  I guess he meant business when he barked, ‘No one on our property’.

It was a great Easter weekend.  I continued the tradition mom started when we were kids by giving Kyle books in his Easter basket.  This year it was the rest of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky.  Kyle started to read them and seemed to be enjoying the books, so I fueled his journey.  I love his love for reading!  Every chance I get, I reward him in books, and he’s excited about it!  Mom continued the tradition of receiving a kite, or two in Kyle’s case.

Can’t wait to enjoy the shade of our newly planted trees and pick the fruit they produce!  I was also told by Mr. Kyle that I would enjoy reading the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series and he wants me to read them too.  I guess I have a new series to start!

Happy Belated Easter!

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

It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

It isn’t ever delicate to live.  ~Kay Ryan

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Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

Two weekends ago, well actually that entire week, I was working in my yard.  Yes, the very same yard work I should have done in the spring, or even the summer and yet here I am, trying to get it done before winter sets in and hunting season starts.  Luckily, we’ve had a pretty mild fall.  We’ve even been blessed with nice temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s and overcast with some sun.  Perfect for outside work.

I’m glad I got my work done because as of today,  the snow rolled in.  Only a few inches but still a pleasant sight.  I love snow!

You see spring always seems to sneak up on me and then I miss the boat with respect to tending to the lawn.  Then summer rolls around and I don’t handle the heat and the sun too well.  Literally!  Being outside in the sun makes me sick to my stomach.  I get really bad headaches and let’s not forget about my sun sensitive skin.  I have to be pretty well covered and protected from the harmful rays at all hours of the day, especially in the summer.  And those summer months, I am usually busy with Thrill of the Hunt events.  So there you have it, back to fall work in the yard.

What needed done?  The usual, mowing and weeding and trimming, which I have elected to do about once a month now-a-days.  I’m sure my neighbors love that sight.  Actually, they should be thankful, for I make their lawns look perfect!

Last Thursday night, early Friday morning we had one heck of a windstorm roll through.  It resulted in a tree branch taking down a power-line, right down the road from my parents.  Guess what?  I couldn’t work on my company stuff nor my freelancing work, since my “office” is in the corner of their kitchen with my desktop and my external drives.  Don’t worry, I always have something to do.  No free day for me!

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This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

On a side note, I purposely set up my “office” in my parents house, as opposed to my house, to get me out, dressed and moving.  I want to make sure I never get lazy, especially with The Piper Corporation.  So I force myself to travel to my work station.  It’s perfect actually, I have a great view of my Uncle’s farm and a view of Saint Vincent College out looking through the picture window in the kitchen.  The best office space ever!  Plus my office companions aren’t too bad either, Scooby, Seven and Storm.

I recruited Kyle to assist me on Saturday at my house, since my parents were still without electricity.  I took this as a sign from God, telling me to get in the yard and finish it up.  After all I couldn’t work on the computer.

Starting my day as soon as the sun rises, around 6:00 am, Kyle and I went to work.  Yes it was not light duty chores.  It was hauling mulch and river rock, pulling weeds and walking up and down my back steps around my landscaping.  Truly hard work even for a professional landscaper.  So how did Kyle fare?

Well, at first it was a big argument.  He didn’t want to do the mulch and was seriously exaggerating his motions in such a way, I made him carry the river rocks while I took over the mulch job.  I knew I could get it done faster, making better progress than Kyle.  Then, I caught him trying to do the job half way, cutting corners that sort of thing.  I was livid!  There are few things I really truly can’t stand and detest, beside smoking, and that’s laziness.  I just can’t understand making that choice to wimp out, especially on something that is benefiting oneself such as my house.

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My backyard while we were just getting started… before the steps. c. 2009

After about an hour of me loosing my patience, yelling and Kyle dropping his attitude and getting acclimated to the job of the day, he really began to work.  And I mean he worked!  That kid was on fire!  Really after, we got moving and he started to get into a rhythm and saw progress, he was such a hard little worker.  He was even proud of himself saying, “Wow Aunt Heather I think I’m getting stronger with each rock!  Soon I’ll be even better in the weight room!”  What a cutie!  I had to concur with his reasoning, because he was right.  The more work he did, the stronger he was getting.

You see, for the next few weeks Kyle is in the weight room at school for gym class.  They are teaching him how to lift and such.  He seems to really like it.  Kyle even asked me, “Hey Aunt Heather, how much can you do on the leg press?”  Truly not remembering I said, “Probably around 100 pounds or so.  Why how much can you do?”  With a victorious and ornery grin, Kyle responded proudly with “I can leg press 240 pounds!”  Wow!  Holy smokes buddy!  That’s great!  I really was proud of him.  He is a strong little compact bugger!  He said only one other kid did more than him and he did 260 pounds.  Still all very impressive.

With the weight room talk, it gave Kyle another incentive to keep on truck’in.  He was great!  All the way up until it started to rain on us.  I was almost done with the mulch, when I turned around to see my little man with his hoodie up, soaking wet carrying buckets of river rock and looking defeated.  We had to leave soon anyway.  Kyle was serving mass at 6:00 pm that night.  After seeing the look on his face, I said, “Go jump in the shower, we’re done for today.”  Shear joy fell over him.  Not to mention a sense of accomplishment.  Kyle did remark, “Wow Aunt Heather it’s actually looking nice.  We got a lot done!”  Yes we did buddy, especially with all his hard work.

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My backyard while in the progress of landscaping… ton of brush! c. 2009

As it turns out Kyle wasn’t done working, not by a long shot.  You see he had off of school on Monday for an in-service day.  So I took advantage of that fact and asked him to assist me again to try and finish the work once and for all.  Surprisingly, he was enthused to help me wrap up the yard.  That morning, we first helped my dad by stacking some wood before making our way to my dreaded lawn.

On another side note, sometime on Saturday I must have weeded out poison ivy and proceeded to scratch my face and my eye.  Yes my eye!  By Sunday, my face was all swollen, itchy and my eye looked like a big marshmallow.  Not believing in doing actual work on Sundays, I try to honor the Sabbath Day as much as possible, I took a few Benadryl pills and fell into a sleep coma.  By Monday, my eye was even worse and we had to make a pit stop at Med Express to get me on steroids again.  I really hate those things!

Yes, I worked like that with basically one eye since I could only see out of it with a sliver.  I figured, I would rather get in contact with the poison ivy again, now that I was on medication, rather than later when I was healed and had to go through this again.  Plus, I wanted to stay away from people with all my ugliness.  I even avoided the gym in the mornings.  But lucky for Kyle, I had no qualms about hanging around him.  I would even tease my little man by leaning in with my bulging eye and saying, “Go ahead and touch it.  Feel how squishy it is!”  He was grossed out and would squirm around me.  Eventually, we made a joke out of it saying “Don’t make me give you the stink eye.”  And then I would point my eye in his direction.  That cracked us both up! If you can’t laugh at yourself, then what’s the point in living.

While we were talking and working Kyle mentioned again about getting an apartment and buying land to build his house and huge fish tank on.  I said, “O buddy between me and your Aunt Nikki, we will probably have enough rental properties for you to live in so you don’t have to worry about it.”  Kyle took that as a sign that he will take my house.  It’s yours buddy, you earned it through sweat equity!

While wrapping up some of the work on Monday afternoon, Kyle started to comment about hard work and how hard our activity was.  Then, he started to get a bit sarcastic and threw out the attitude again.  He said, “This is suppose to be my day off from school and I’m not suppose to be doing work.”  Really?  Says who.  I retorted with, “What do you think most people do Kyle?  They work all week and do yard work in the evenings and weekends.  Welcome to reality.”  He had nothing to say on that note.

I get it, he was tired and not used to working that hard for that many days in a row.  I completely understood.  But I still won’t tolerate an attitude.

After that came the fury of Aunt Heather.  I asked Kyle to dump a couple of buckets of dirt up by my back fence in a mulch pile of leaves and branches.  Not wanting to walk up the hill, we both kind of laughed at the thought of making another trip there.  Finally, Kyle did what I asked and made the first trip, promising I’ll make the second.

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No this was not in my yard! Me & the boys saw this while on one of our walks… I LOVE IT!!

When I made my trip, to help him out and show he is not doing all the hard work, I noticed he dumped the dirt right in the yard, not even coming close to the pile!  Fiery anger shot out of me and resulted in a lecture on laziness.  I wanted him to understand that he has to train himself now, NOT to be lazy and to NOT take shortcuts, for it will always bite him in the butt in the long run, especially in a professional environment.  I went off explaining how I trusted him to do a job and I expected it to be done right and not to have to redo it.  Then, I went into a tangent about how he doesn’t want the reputation of being a lazy kid.  And so on and so forth.

When teaching a child to NOT be lazy, you’re actually teaching them more than hard work, you’re teaching a sense of worth and self-accomplishment, good foundation structures that I fully believe in to create a solid character.

Okay, granted I was tired too and it was a long few days, plus with all the poison ivy irritating my skin, I’m sure my nerves where just a little bit sensitive.  He felt horrible and kicked it up a notch until he was out of steam.  Seriously, I haven’t seen a kid his age work that hard in forever!  I was really proud of him, and maybe I was a little too hard on my man.  But I wanted to make a point, that it’s not just about my yard.  I am training his character, the man he will hopefully grow to be.  The one I hope him to be, minus any laziness.  And you know what?  I believe he will get there.  It was only at that moment, he was being a kid and a tired human.

Thanks buddy for all your hard work!  You earned every muscle you worked out and you earned both movies and popcorn.

This past weekend I took Kyle to see Thor 2: The Dark World and I believe the second movie of his choice is The Hunger Games – Catching Fire.  I even told him he earned popcorn, which he gave me a victorious smile.  I love paying this kid in movies.  It makes for a well deserved date night.

I never thought to get finished pictures of the yard, so once the snow disappears I will take pictures and do a comparison.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy In a Day

Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.  ~Hermann Hesse

WannaBe-80s-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt Event in Shadyside. Great time! 8/17/13

This past Saturday proved to hold an exciting day!  My sister was on her way home with a new bundle of puppy.  The very same day, my company, Thrill of the Hunt, was holding another scavenger hunt event in Shadyside, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, called the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt.  Not to mention a big day wouldn’t be complete without a little attitude and whining from Kyle.

Let’s start in the early afternoon with the arrival of Avery Piper.  This 20 pound cute playful puppy really turned the house inside out.  Scooby, being a grumpy old man was not too pleased to have the rambunctious visitor.  He was growling and nipping and just plain being a bully.  Pretty much everything we expected out of Scooby.  Seven on the other hand was curious and almost excited to have a new friend.  Maybe he remembered how hard it was to be the new doggie on the block.  Seven had to deal with Scooby solo and maybe Seven just wanted to be a mentor, a friend to Avery.

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Nicole hanging with Avery! Don’t let her cute looks fool you! She’s a stinker! 8/17/13

Then let’s discuss, Storm, my cat.  She is a year old and is not very friendly with other people, strange places and certainly not puppies.  She was clearly the one who was the most upset.  She sat up in her perch (This is a tree house type of structure I built for her.  It stands about six feet tall and is equipped with multilevel sitting areas and carpeting.  It’s a place for her to escape the dogs.) and puffed up till she resembled a soft fluffy ball of cat.  She was hissing, and growling, and spitting and swatting her razor sharp claws (I can attest to that!) at the completely ignorant puppy.  Did I mention, as far as we know, Avery has never seen a cat before?  So this was a real treat for her.  Her Avery, not her Storm.

Avery, a.k.a. Acorn (yes I already gave her another name to instigate my sister!) was just so happy to be hanging with all of us and truly didn’t understand the disdain of Storm and Scooby.  She was jumping on the furniture and wanting to play like it was a big party.  Even though I did soak up the playful energy projected from this short haired, pig tailed eared, clumsy, teething youngster, I was still concerned for the stress levels of my Storm.

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My perfect little Thrill of the Hunt assistant! He is a great businessman & he worked at the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt Event. 8/17/13

While all this was going on, Kyle and I needed to get ready for the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt in Shadyside.  It started at 3:30 pm, which means we needed to be there between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm to set up, sell any last minute tickets and hand out brochures to continue to get our name out there.  Not to mention it takes at least an hour from Latrobe to get to Pittsburgh, depending on the traffic.

Kyle and I had the car packed and everything ready.  I am not a procrastinator, I figure why give myself added stress that I can control, when there is always something unforeseen or uncontrollable that inevitably pops up.  That’s enough excitement for me, so that’s why Kyle and I packed the car and ran through our checklist the night prior.  We also went through the same list one last time before heading out, to cross our T’s and dot our i’s.

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Pap & Avery taking a nap together! 8/17/13

God has really blessed us in our new adventure.  I mean it.  Recently, Thrill of the Hunt has been commissioned to develop and administer the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt for Seton Hill University, the Pittsburgh Marathon is having Thrill of the Hunt build a scavenger hunt for the race expo, Exploring Inspiration Scavenger Hunt and for their 10k, 5k, Pet Walk in North Park this October, Witches Brew Scavenger Hunt.  Did I mention thus far, for all of our scavenger hunt events we’ve had perfect weather?  Yes!  I know the weather will never cooperate one hundred percent, but to start out and get acclimated to our scavenger hunt events, it certainly does help.

WannaBe-80s-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -19 Aunt Heather Piper

I’m ready to get the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt on the way! We had a perfect day! 8/17/13

The WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt went off without a hitch!  It’s funny, Kyle was being such a kid during the day, wanted everyone to play his card game and wanted to sit on his iPod and play games and not practice his piano or read his Lord of the Rings The Two Towers book, yet when he was in the car with me and most certainly when we got to Shadyside to set up, Kyle changed his tune quickly, without being asked.  Kyle didn’t complain one bit, he went right to work helping to set up and he even started reaching out the pedestrians supplying them with brochures.  He was supporting Thrill of the Hunt in best possible manner.  When he met with people, he shook their hands confidently and truly was the perfect assistant!  I don’t know if Kyle likes the work, enjoys being part of the company or is just innately aware I would kick his butt if he misbehaved.  But he was a great business partner and the perfect assistant!

Kyle & Aunt Heather Piper TextingEither way, as like most times hanging with Kyle, we had a great time!  I try to be very approachable and friendly to potential clients when I’m representing Thrill of the Hunt.  I stand by my station ready to answer inquisitive looks and comments as those unknown to Thrill of the Hunt walk by.  Yes, I stand for the hours it takes to complete the scavenger hunts, unlike Kyle.  One of his weaknesses.  To keep his body from complete shock, I had him stand with me in little spurts before he would retreat to his bench to sit and relax.  I’m fine with that, for now!

Kyle cracked me up!  During the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt, the participants not only had to figure out the riddles, but they had online challenges to execute as well.  I also had to review the online activity to see if anyone was stumped or questioning a specific clue.  Yes, so while I was greeting “passerbyers”, I was also following the online activity.  During all this, Kyle was texting my sister to see the status of the mad house back home.  Then, to throw me off my concentration, Kyle began to send me funny text messages, like asking if my legs were tired and calling me a Bad Girl (inside joke within our family due to the labeling on the butt of my sisters underwear).  Kyle was cracking me up!

Side story.  The last time I was down at my sisters, we were commissioned to develop and administer to the Discover Scavenger Hunt for a five year old birthday party.  That Friday night, after I got in, I came around the corner to ask Nicole something, while she was in the kitchen and what did my eyes read?  Yep, Bad Girl written across her underwear as she stood at the sink.  Immediately, I lost it!  I could barely say, “Bad Girl” when Nicole instantly busted out laughing, while running to the bathroom.  She was laughing so hard she had to pee!  Now I couldn’t just let something like that only be shared between the two of us, so I told my family.  Mom, died laughing!  Even dad got a chuckle out of it.  But Kyle thought it was the funniest thing he’s ever heard.  Since then, everyone once in a while we just say, “Bad Girl!”.  It cracks us all up!  Especially Kyle, who loves being in on the inside joke.

WannaBe-80-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -4 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle promoting Thrill of the Hunt & getting ready for the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt in Shadyside, Pittsburgh Pa. 8/17/13

Well, the feedback from the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt participants were very positive.  I didn’t have a huge turnout, but enough to make the event fun.  It seems like I can’t give the tickets away for my scavenge hunt events lately, at least at present day.  Although I have a feeling, that comment will be just unbelievable and silly in the future.  Especially, when it catches on that these themed scavenger hunts are challenging, interactive and just plain fun!  Not to mention, my scavenger hunts also help to support and promote small communities and local merchants.  Win, win for everyone!

When we got back to the house, it was still standing and everyone learned to calm down a bit.  Kyle was back to being my fun little man again, especially after I was praising him for his help and behavior.  We celebrated with Primanti Brothers sandwiches and we rented The Burbs.  Perfect evening to a crazy day!

Please vote for Thrill of the Hunt!  We have a chance to win a commercial during the Superbowl!  We need all the votes!  Everyone can vote daily, so keep them coming!!

VOTE HERE!  Thrill of the Hunt

 

Check out the pictures / videos from the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt from our Gallery page, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube!

Follow the Hunt!

                   

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

Fishing Towards Independence

All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.  ~Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

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Me fishing at Parker’s Dam. These were the only fish I caught… while dad & Kyle reeled in the big ones.  Yes it was very early in the morning!  5/18/13

Kyle amazes me, he really does.  Some days he is still the kid I’ve always known, maybe too much like a kid, and other days, he’s such an independent little man.  It’s really weird to say Kyle is independent.  He’s never really exhibited self-supporting behavior, ever.  Kyle has always been the type of the child that needed someone to join him in doing any activity, even watching TV and sometimes playing.   Sometimes he entertains himself, but he usually likes the social activity.  When he was really little, it was even difficult for him to walk back the hallway without someone by his side.  Nope, independent and Kyle have never been synonymous.  That is until recently.

Two weekends ago my family, including the dogs and my cat, went to Parker Dam for a short weekend get away.  My sister couldn’t make the camping and fishing weekend of fun, but there will be a next time.  Mom and dad got there really early Friday morning.  When I mean early, I mean early.  Mom said dad had her up at 3:00 am to leave early and get a head start on the day.  Not me, I had to pick Kyle up off the bus, before heading out and joining up with the parents, and Seven and Scooby.

Friday night was pretty uneventful, except for Storm.  She worked her way out of her harness, twice, and made a break for the woods.  The night went perfect when she came back unscathed.  In fact, she ran around all weekend, going in and out of the woods along side our campsite.  I was afraid of a coyote or owl or some other wild beast getting their claws in her fluffy middle, but to keep her caged up would be inhumane.  She loves being in the woods, much like myself.  Sometimes it’s hard to let go without hovering or controlling, but it’s a part of life.

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Scooby hanging out in Parker’s Dam. Ever since the tumor was removed from his chin, he looks 10 years younger! He got a facelift. 5/18/13

And so my story begins, at 4:00 am on Saturday morning.  The time dad felt was the appropriate hour to get everyone up to go fishing.  Yes, it was still pitch black and for some reason he wanted us to have our hooks baited before we drove down the road, maybe a half a mile to our fishing site.  All the while we were getting ready, Storm got out of the camper and was running around, jumping and leaping for joy.  She was like Houdini.

As we started fishing and getting our bearing straight, basically rubbing the sleepers out of our eyes and realizing we are dealing with little hooks attached to our four pound fishing line, something changed.  As I looked around, the sun rose over the misty still water, and as I was standing in the crisp morning air, life seemed peaceful.  It felt as if God Himself was squeezing my shoulder as if to say, ‘Things will be fine, all is in My hands.’  And you know what?  They were, they are and they will always be.  Even more than that, something was changing, was different.

Once dad began pulling a few fish from the undisturbed water, I looked around to see what was so unusual.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Everything seemed normal, and then the fog lifted and I saw it as plain as an early morning.  Kyle was fishing alone.  It was an interesting observation, a unique sight, a bittersweet moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy he went off on his own, yet felt a ting of pain for such a shift in the normal.

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Kyle & dad fishing at Parker’s Dam. They both are fishing machines! 5/18/13

At Parker Dam where we fished, there are two different lakes if you will.  They are actually one connected by a tunnel under the road that separates them.  The same fish move between the two areas.  All along, dad who is really the only real fishermen between us, commented periodically to move around if we weren’t catching anything.  As he’s always done.  At first dad always tells us what bait to use and where to stand, only because he wants us to be as successful as possible.  Nothing makes dad happier than to have us out fish, or out hunt him.  However, dad is always open to our judgement calls, sometimes.  This time I was in a little bit of shock.  Kyle was sitting on the bank, of the opposite lake to me and dad, all by himself.  I never even noticed the change, even though I should have because up until that point, Kyle was talking nonstop and that sudden silence should have tipped me off of the break in the ordinary.  He was quiet.  Just sitting there fishing, I think enjoying the moment.  At least for that moment.

As I watched Kyle fish with his back toward me, all that popped in my head was the movie A River Runs Through It, when the Brad Pitt character, Paul went off fly fishing on his own for the first time to find his own rhythm.  And then I thought, ‘Boy he’s growing up!’  I must say, I am honored to be there for Kyle’s next step in life.  After all, I was honored having the 0pportunity of being there when he first rolled over, first pulled himself up, first learned to walk, his first words.  Heck I even took him to get his first hair cut, and now his first big movement towards independence.  Yes bittersweet!  It’s funny, at that moment I also realized the dad in the movie, out fished his sons, just like dad always does with us.

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Kyle just had to bring his new Lego’s camping & fishing in Parker Dam. I guess you can never take the Lego out of the boy. 5/18/13

Me, dad and Kyle had a great morning fishing.  However, after a few fish under his belt, Kyle decided he wanted to head back to camp.  What?  By himself?  Yes, he started walking toward our camp solo.  Dad and I both looked at each other as he crested the top of the hill, past the water, out of our site.  In fact, we were both taking bets if he would change his mind and just turn around to come back, or if he was going to complete his journey.  Keep in mind, there were boxes of Lego’s awaiting him.  So I’m sure that was his driving force.  Apparently, he made it to the rangers office, which was about the halfway point.  He said he couldn’t remember his way back so he call my mom to come and pick him up.  That surprises me because Kyle has a great sense of direction, much like my parents and not like me and Nicole.  But he did, and mom came and life was all good while dad and I continued fishing.

After we were done, we drove to a more remote part of the water running into a creek to clean the fish.  Dad and I scaled and gutted the catch of the day.  It was another moment that I couldn’t help think, this is what dad used to do with Ryan all the time.  I was even using Ryan’s knife.  It was a great day, and for most people, it was just about to start.

Now to lighten the mood, funny story.  When we got back mom was extremely eager to share a story with us.  She was already laughing so hard, she could barely tell it.  Intrigued, I gave her center stage and my fullest attention.  Apparently, when we left at the crack of dawn, mom and the boys went back to bed.  Go figure. (sarcasm)  Mom said all of a sudden her sleeping bag was pulled off of her and she felt the camper shake and lean to one side.  For the record we have a little pop up type of camper with the fold out sides.  She said the camper all of a sudden leaned to one side, she heard a thud and it bounced back.  Thinking it was us, coming back early and screwing with her, she popped her head up and looked around.  Then she noticed Scooby was no longer beside her.  She got up to find Scooby at the door, and as she opened it he ran and jumped in the opposite bed.  She figured that he was so sound asleep, he somehow rolled out of the side of the camper.  The area where the fabric is only pulled down over the foldout bed.  I’m guessing the slippery sleeping bag helped his escape.  He seemed fine, but he could have seriously injured himself.  But don’t let that stop us from laugh historically.  We are still cracking up over that story!

We had a great weekend of fishing, sitting by the campfire, walking the dogs, bike riding and hiking through the woods.  On one of our adventures via bicycle, Kyle and I were riding through the camp site to get down to a dirt road we found the day prior.  Kyle rode up beside me and started singing Jingle Bells!  I actually almost ran my bike off the side of the road from both, laughter and from shock at his choice in music.  Actually from any choice in music, since he doesn’t like exercise.  He was really enjoying himself!  That kid cracks me up!  One minute he’s showing his independence and the next he is still the small little man sitting in the backseat of my car, in his car seat singing Jingle Bells.  He never ceases to amaze me.

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Mom & dad hanging by the fire playing with the boys. Seven (black Lab) & Scooby (Blond Lab) Parker’s Dam 5/18/13

Then, he turns around and completely surprises me again!  Saturday night, we took turns watching the dogs and walking down to the showers.  Roughing it I know!  But when there’s a shower available, we’re all about it, especially after baiting hooks with maggots, wax worms, fish eggs and such.  As I staying at the campsite with the Seven, Scooby and Storm, through the black of the late evening, Kyle walked back.  Alone?  Solo?  Without fear?  Being in a little bit of shock, I said, “Kyle?”  just to confirm that it was indeed Kyle I was looking at.  He confirmed my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and then my next question, “What’s wrong?  Where’s Gigi and Pappy?”  He said they were still at the showers and he wanted to head back.  What?  Kyle walk in the dark by himself?  Granted it wasn’t that far away, maybe 200 feet if that.  Again, that kid never ceases to surprise me!

Then to make me question if this was indeed my nephew and not an alien taking over his body, Kyle said, “Go ahead Aunt Heather, go shower, I’ll watch the dogs.”  What?  Is this Kyle?  Kyle Piper?  He was volunteering to sit in the dark, by himself (with the dogs and cat), with spotty cell phone service and wait for us to return?  Where did my little man go?

A little confused I made sure he was alright with the scenario and I headed to the showers, where I ran into mom.  A little confused, as was I a few minutes earlier, she asked me where Kyle was, and who was watching the dogs?  I explained the story.  Mom basically just said, “Ok?”  She hurried herself along with dad, as to not leave him alone for too long.  Of course, if anyone would mess with Kyle, Scooby would probably tear the perpetrators face off, but no need to take unnecessary chances.

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My cousin Heather cutting Kyle’s hair for the first time, while I hold him. He was afraid of haircuts for a long time! 2002

The next morning we got a little late start leaving around 5:30 am.  We are such slackers! (sarcasm)  We fished a little again in the perfect morning peace that we experienced the day before.  Not staying too long, since the fish really weren’t biting, we started to head back to camp.  Dad did stop along the creek to try his hand at the water hole just below us off of the bridge.  Once dad almost snagged himself another fish, Kyle was all about getting out his pole again.  Please keep in mind all I caught the entire weekend were a few, two and three inch blue gills.  The four inch sunfish was my prize. (sarcasm)   Kyle did manage to feed us a few trout along with dad’s catch for dinner on Saturday night.  Also no contribution from me, which humored Kyle to no end.

After casting our lines a few unsuccessful times, we headed back for breakfast.  Dad had some pretzels in the truck, which we were both nibbling on like starving fish ready to be snagged by a hook.  Just then Kyle turned to dad and said, “Your eating after you baited your hook?  That’s disgusting!”  I died!  That was such a sincere statement and too funny!  Dad just looked down at his fingers, then licked them and put his had back in the bag for more.  Yep, typical dad.  He is a true woodsman, never getting grossed out by anything and never getting sick by such acts.  Of course I was doing the same thing, and it didn’t bother me either.

Kyle is growing up before our eyes.  It’s always been happening, but sometimes there are moments that really stand out.  That weekend had many of them.  I wish my sister was there, even though she always is, even through spotty cell coverage and through stories and pictures and videos.

Apparently we are going back again, this time with the entire family.  I sincerely can’t wait!  Maybe I’ll catch a fish worthy of eating.

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

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.  ~Albert Schwitzer

Nicole-with-Draco-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole pocketing Draco

A few weeks ago, while taking Kyle to his piano lessons I realized there must be something about us together in a car, alone, with our imaginations that makes these stories.  Our minds go out of control.  I mean sometimes really silly out of control.  This time the topic was cats.  What got us on the subject of cats?  I have no idea, probably Kyle asking how Storm was doing.  Regardless, the stage was set and we were armed with humor, wit, and imagination.  At this point, no one can tell where the conversation was going to turn, especially us, but we always know it’s going somewhere.

We started talking about Storm and the next thing you know Storm was visiting my sister’s cat Toshi (I call him Lester) in the Washington DC Metro Area.  Keep in mind this is a completely fictitious story that we started to make up.  Why?  No clue, just to simply humor ourselves I guess.  As the story started to take shape,  I said imagine that conversation, “Storm would say meow, like a kitten and Lester would respond back with a loud ear piercing MEOW!”  We both started laughing.

You see, Lester has this really loud and annoying meow that doesn’t end.  I can understand the cat meowing when I’m visiting Nicole, being in his domain and all, but he does it while I’m on the phone with my sister.  Let’s not forget when I’m talking to Nicole on Skype and I swear I hear the cat when I email and text message my sister.  One time when I was staying at Nicole’s, the cat sat outside my closed door to the spare bedroom and meowed all night.  Lester just sat in the hallway and projected his really loud and drawn out meow towards me.  I’ve had cats all my life and I’ve never experienced anything like Lester before.  Finally, I told Nicole to take the cat in her bedroom, which she did only to find out it didn’t help.  The cat kept meowing just as loud, if not louder from Nicole’s room.  It sounded like Lester was meowing directly into an intercom, which hung over my head.  Again, I can understand this, because I was occupying his space, but he does it all the time!  Whether you’re in the living-room, bathroom or kitchen, there is no escaping Lester’s alarm system.  Due to this annoying and slightly entertaining behavior, he has been the subject of many conversations in our household, over the years.  Can’t imagine why? (sarcasm)

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Lester sitting in the ceramic bowl I made Nicole for fruit… guess Lester didn’t get the memo

There’s such a difference between Lester and Storm.  Mine meows only when she wants something.  Lester, lives to meow.  I swear that cat has meow “CATivated” paws, he meows with every step.  Either that or he has meow turrets.   (No disrespect to those suffering with turrets.)

I know what you’re thinking, it’s me.  Nope, Lester acts like that for everyone, not just me.  Mom, dad and espeicaiily Kyle has lived through the Lester siren.  Nicole said, during this past “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s week of fun” Lester walked on top of Kyle while he slept and kept meowing.  I told Kyle he was probably saying “What is this large lump in my bed?”  To this day we still laugh over that one.

When I first got Storm, Kyle said we should take her down to meet Lester.  My sister chimed in saying, “He would think his time was up, he was being replaced.”  Well, this current conversation started with those words in mind and created another, little darker scenario.

Back to me and Kyle in the car.  I said, “Ya Kyle, the conversation between Lester and Storm would go something like this…

Storm: meow, meow (Hi my name is Storm, I’m the traveling kitty)

Lester: MEOW, MEEEOOOWW, MEEEOOOOWWW (I’m done, I’m being replaced!)

Storm: meow, meow (Where’s your litterbox?)

Lester: MMMMEEEOOW, MMEEOOWW (My time is up, this is just the beginning they have a replacement!)

Storm: meow, meow, meow (Do you have any kitty treats?)

Lester: MMMMEEEEOOOOOWWW, MMMMMMEEEEOOOOWWWW, (I’m going to starve to death!)”

Needless to say, we were cracking up.  Sometime in the middle of this conversation, it took a downward spiral.  Kyle said, “Remember what Aunt Nikki said, if we brought Storm down to her house, Toshi would just die?”  I busted out laughing.  My sister did say that!  I took it one step further and said, “Ya then Storm would have to do CPR on Lester.  She would have to rub her paws together to create a spark, then say ‘Meow’ which means clear and shock the cat back to life.”  We were dying!  I said, “All Storm would need to do it lay her paws on Lester’s chest and bring out her claws.”  Kyle following the story said, “Ya then Toshi would scream back to life MMMEEEEOOOOWWW.”

Ok, pretty stupid story but just picturing Storm leaning over Lester and administering CPR was too much for us to pass up.

Then two weekends ago when Nicole was home, dad asked her how her cat was doing.  He said, “Nik how’s your cat, is it dead yet?”  Nicole said, “No, he’s good but the other day when I came home, he scared me.  He wasn’t there to greet me at the door, like he always does.  I thought I was going to have to look around for a dead cat.”  Kyle and I lost it!  We are still rehashing that conversation.

Sometimes it’s animals that make life fun and exciting, even if they are stemmed from our imaginations.  Thanks Lester for the laughs!

*In the making of this blog, no cat was harmed.
**Since Lester has been ill, Nicole told me to be sensitive to his feelings and not call him Lester.

 Read more on our stupid humor

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Her Name Was Pudd’in

No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.  ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Puddin-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Pudd'in doing her usual routine 2012

Kyle has always seemed to understand the idea of death and dying.  The concept that death is permanent and it is a part of life.  I guess that’s what happens when you loose your dad before you even really remember him, and the only answer of his absence is that he is with the angels in heaven.  I don’t think Kyle really comprehended that explanation, I mean do we as adults really understand?  Yet, it appears that Kyle has always understood, almost in an adult fashion about loss.  Although, Kyle has yet to loose anyone really close to him.  By the time I was Kyle’s age, I lost my grandpap Chester and my pappy, not to mention my cat, Morticia, along with other relatives and animals.  Once, about six or seven years ago, I was looking for Pudd’in in the house, as I did every time I entered the house.  “Pudd’in? Pudd’in?” was the only sound projected from my vocal chords, that and, “Mom where’s Pudd’in?”  Kyle came around the corner and said to me in a very neutral, as-a-matter-of-fact way, “Maybe she died, cause you know Aunt Heather she is old.”  He said it in a manner like an adult talking to a child.  I was aghast!  Instantly I came to Pudd’in’s defense saying, “She is not dead!” and Kyle retorted, “But she is old Aunt Heather” almost like preparing me for the inevitable.  Ironically, Pudd’in was still in very good health at the time.

Ryan-and-Jake-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan holding Jake as a puppy c.1990

But eventually the inevitable came, today, this morning to be exact, Pudd’in’s time has expired.  She was 19 years old and I had her for nearly half my life.  She really was a good cat and a true companion.  Training her early on to stay off of the counters and tables, she obeyed the rules of the house, well most of the time.  I love cats, but I don’t believe their paws, that are used to dig in the litter box, should be allowed on eating surfaces.  I never had Pudd’in’s claws removed, I think it’s a mean practice and not fair to her since she would wonder outside sometimes.  She was certainly a house cat, remaining on a strictly Pudd’in diet all her life, I never fed her people food.

Now being a typical cat, Pudd’in wouldn’t follow me around like a dog, but she did have her moments.  I always had this thing where I would make a ‘Twoo twoo’ noise as I padded my chest as if saying come here.  Sometimes she would come, if she felt like it, unless it was time for bed.  Pudd’in always slept with me.  Sometimes she would start meowing at me in the evenings letting me know it was time for bed.  All I would say is, “Ready for bed?” and she would follow me back the hallway and run and jump on the bed.  Usually she wasn’t ready for rest because she slept all day, what she wanted was to play.  I will absolutely miss falling asleep to her purring, that sweet sound was so soothing to me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I knew what went on in the middle of the night.  You see, Pudd’in would lay with me till I fell asleep, then undercover of darkness, she would roam the house.  Doing what, I have no idea?  Then, before I would get up, she would go back to bed and lay there, still purring like she was resting all night long.

Chad Nicole Piper Jill Aunt Heather Piper

Nicole holding Jill & Jeremy & Chad in the background. Jill was a great dog.

Even with the arrival of Kyle, Pudd’in showed she could be trusted with infants.  She pretty much left Kyle alone, however she did love playing with his toys, after all A Toy’s a Toy.  When Kyle got older, he became quicker and a craftier kid, sometimes cornering Pudd’in.  She never brought harm to Kyle, even when he pulled her tail.  Once when Kyle was learning to pull himself up and walk, he got in Pudd’in space.  She swatted at his face, which made me hold my breath waiting for scratch marks, as it happened so fast.  But not a scratch, she never revealed her claws to the curious, harmless baby.  I wish she was that courteous to me when we played.

Pudd’in wasn’t always such an innocent hermit.  She was a lot like me in the respect that she loved to instigate.  Yep, sometimes she would tease the dogs to get them in trouble.  Her favorite was waiting for Scooby to lay on the floor and fall asleep, then ambush his ears.  Sometimes the dog would almost roll his eyes as the cat attacked his face, pouncing all around him.  Mom said that sometimes in the middle of the night, Pudd’in would jump into their bed, which contained both dogs and get them all wound up, jumping around, then leave to go back to her room.  Then we must remember Pudd’in vs. Dad – New Kind of War.

Pudd'in Piper-Close-Up-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Close up of Pudd'in. I wanted to get her eyes, but she wouldn't let me. c. 2012

Looking back on Pudd’in’s life, I originally got her from my friend Tree.  I was suppose to be her foster home, but we know how that turned out.  I always did laugh at that, saying “I’m Pudd’in’s foster home.”  But really she was apart of the Piper household from the time I brought her home.  Although, I had no idea how tight we would become and our special bond that would form between us.  Thinking back on that time, Ryan was still alive.  Heck, so was Jake and they were good friends.  When Jake passed away in December of 2010 at the ripe old age of 17, Pudd’in was clearly upset.  In fact, when I moved out of the house, I didn’t want to take Pudd’in for fear her and Jake would miss each other too much.  I had Pudd’in for years before the arrival of one Mr. Kyle Edward Piper.  Then three months after Kyle’s birth, Pudd’in stayed by my side when Ryan died, laying there purring and comforting me.  Pudd’in was always there through life’s celebrations and when life took some really bad turns.

Being well aware that loosing a cat is nothing of a true tragedy, especially one as old as Pudd’in, but it still stings at the heart a little, to loose someone I’ve known for so long.  I have been through my fair share of complete sadness, but this one was hard to accept, even if I knew it was coming.  I hope everyone has a Pudd’in in their life.  No doubt loosing her was hard, but I can’t ignore all the joy she brought me.  Thanks Tree for giving me such a terrific cat!  Rest-in-Peace Pudd’in Piper.

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

Pudd’in vs Dad – New Kind of War

Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.  ~Mark Twain

There are all sorts of ways to battle.  Battles can happen physically in multiple forms using an infinite number of weapons.  Then there’s the mental battle, using wit and a persons internal psyche, and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes battles take the form of actions based on symbolism, especially when one of the warriors cannot speak, only to say ‘meow’.  I am referring to Pudd’in, my cat of roughly 17 years, who is about 19 years old now.  Her opponent: My dad, who’ve I’ve known for 25 years now, being 61 years old.

Puddin Piper - Aunt Heather Piper

Pudd'in playing with her toy mouse

My dad likes all animals, but not particularly cats.  He tolerates Pudd’in but I’ve never seen my dad actually hold a cat let alone cuddle up with one.  I, on the other hand, have always been infatuated with cats.  I’ve always had at least one cat my entire life.  When I was Kyle’s age, I used to stay on the ridge with my grandparents.  They seemed to always have feral cats running around on the edge of the woods.  I would sit in the yard behind the house and tame those cats.  Looking back on it now, it was kind of a sight. The cats would walk up to me and I would hold them until they were purring.  Then we were instant friends.  Sure they would scream a little and try to run once I was holding them, but I was never afraid and rather enjoyed playing with the kitties.  Then I would walk around the yard and they would follow behind like I was the Piped Piper, no pun intended.  Well, maybe a small pun, but it was totally appropriate!  My pappy used to call me old Cat Woman.  Aside from household cats, I love big cats, but I can get into that another day.   Back to the battle royale.

Ryan Piper holding Jill 1984 Aunt Heather Piper

Ryan holding Jill -early 1980's

Well, we have this one bathroom in the house, which is right beside my dad’s office.  Dad used to use it all the time, but within the last, I want to say 15 years or longer, the toilet wasn’t working right and it just resided as a room.  A room that, since that time, housed Pudd’in’s litter box because, well it’s a bathroom for one and it’s on the other end of the house.  Within the last few months, my parents finally got around to replacing the toilet to make it a working bathroom again.  Now, the problem arises.  Pudd’in doesn’t really like change, not at all.  I’m guessing, from what I’m about to tell you, she is not taking this change very well.

Puddin Piper 2011 Aunt Heather Piper

Pudd'in is ready to swat at my phone

Dad has re-adopted that bathroom as his own.  In fact, he is pretty much the only person who really uses it and Pudd’in is taking a stand.  In stead of using her litter box, she is now, daily, from what I understand, showing her disdain by leaving her opinion on the floor in front of the toilet.  She has also increased her war efforts by peeing on dad’s pants in his room.  And, not to mention, mom was folding clothes on the futon in dad’s office while watching TV. Mom left the folded cloths there to return to find a once clean pile of dad’s underwear wore soiled with Pudd’in liquid.

It does appear that only dad’s items have been targeted.  My guess is because dad has never been really partial to Pudd’in.  He would shoo her off the furniture and chase her back down the hallway when they encountered one another.  This has gone on for years, I guess it’s dad’s way.  From what mom tells me, within the last couple of years, Pudd’in started to become radical, actually suicidal.  At night she would climb into bed with mom and dad and walk across my dad.  That is completely unheard of and a complete kamikaze mission.  Maybe this is her last straw with taking over what she felt was her bathroom.

The Piper / Olczak cousins with the dogs.

Elizabeth, Joel, Casey, Ryan, Nicole with Jill and Baby. 1983

Now, I know how gross this war has become. Trust me, if there’s anyone who has a serious aversion to feces, it’s me.  I did pretty good with Kyle until the age when he could manage for himself in the bathroom.  Then I was glad I was done.  Even during the movie, American Wedding, when the one character eats a dog turd and has it stuck in his teeth, I about vomited.  I can’t watch that. Not funny, one bit.

Ahh, what to do with this battle between Pudd’in and dad.  Mom is beside herself and I don’t know how to fit this.  Dad is mad and expressed it to me the other day by saying, “Damn cat! I’m going to fix her. She can sleep outside from now on.”  Then I clearly stated that he should be a little nicer to her. Not that he’s mean at all, just not loving.  I said, “I’d be careful, it’s war between you two, and she’s winning.”  Dad just grunted, probably knowing it was the truth.  So what do I do?  I definitely need some professional guidance on this one.  Yikes!  It’s kind of funny, but I’ll admit, totally gross.

Help me! Any thoughts?  Suggestions?

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