Stink Bugs Do Have A Natural Enemy!

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~John Muir

Stink bug close up Aunt Heather PiperI’m no expert on stink bugs, but I’m certainly no stranger to them either.  The weather in western Pennsylvania has been fluctuating lately, from snowy cold days, which is normal for January, to sunny abnormally warm days reaching the 60s.  Sometimes this temperature range happens within 24-hours.

Besides unfavorable road conditions, the up and down weather is tricking the stink bugs into an early spring.  The warmth draws them out to make their appearance in droves.

Annoyed with these stinkers, literally, I was curious about them, since I don’t remember the critters from my childhood.  Evidently, the stink bug were accidentally introduced into Pennsylvania, Allentown to be exact, in the mid-1990s.  They’re native to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Presently, the stink bug can be found in most states and are now posing a real problem with the fruit and vegetable farms.  The stink bugs feed on these plants as well as weeds and tree leaves.  Okay, now we’ve gone from annoying to a true issue.  Stink bugs don’t scare me as per say, but the thought of their ultimate damage doesn’t settle well with me.

Now some fun facts.  Stink bugs can lay 20 to 30 eggs, leading to developed adults within 35 to 45 days, in optimal conditions.  In the lifespan of a female stink bug, she can lay four hundred eggs.  That explains a lot.

From what I’ve read, these pests are impervious to insecticides.  Although, I’m not a fan of toxic remedies, especially when pesticides are harming the bee population.  I’m also not a fan of distributing the ecological structure of an area to deal with a single pest.  Sure, there’s more natural solutions such as soapy water, however, I don’t think that’s a reasonable solution for large farms.  What to do with the stink bugs?  I guess that’s the ultimate question.

Stinks bugs in mason jar Aunt Heather PiperI read an article on the consideration of introducing a parasitoid wasp, which is a primary predator to the stink bug, to solve the problem.  NO!  That’s not a solution.  That’s a recipe for an even bigger problem.  Instead, I have an idea.

Chickens!  Really?  Yes.  Since you can’t squash, frighten or even disturb a stink bug without it secreting its foul-smelling order, which seriously turns my stomach, I started collecting them.  Well, not in the collectible coin fashion, but rather for a food supply for my feathery friends.

Idiotic solution?  No more than using toxic chemicals and infesting the area with wasps.

Sure, stink bugs have always been a nuisance, but when they started flying into me while I slept, disrupting my sleep and freaking me out when I felt them walk across my skin, I had enough.  Using basic common sense,  I began capturing the smelly buzzing bugs in a pint size mason jar with a lid.  Originally, I started trapping them with the intent to kill the bugs behind glass doors, so to speak.  However, I realized they served a better purpose.  The chickens LOVE the stink bugs.

They do!  The chickens are now accustomed to the jar and flock toward the little protein crunchies.  It almost makes me want to find more stink bugs to deliver.

I’ve never read about chickens as a solution to stink bugs, but why not?  Now’s the time to get creative, through natural means.  Perhaps find safe traps for the stink bugs and deliver the tasty meal to some farm animal.   There could be other stink bug predators that are native to each area to use.  I don’t know if chickens could be the ultimate solution for farmers, but it might be a nice try.  This would also ensure we no longer have an egg shortage like we did a couple years ago.  Now that’s solving two problems at once, productive.

Anyone have a better solution?

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posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Farming & Planting,Hiking & Outdoors,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts and have No Comments

Kyle’s Christmas Scavenger Hunt

It’s true that adventures are good for people even when they are very young. Adventures can get in a person’s blood even if he doesn’t remember having them.  ~Eva Ibbotson

Scavenger-Hunt-Clue-for-a-Teen-Thrill-of-the-Hunt

This year, I had grandiose plans for Kyle’s Christmas gift, but alas they fell through.  So I found myself scrambling for his gift.  Keep in mind, I was up against time constraints and a 15-year old who has way too much in terms of stuff.  I was at a loss for last minute Christmas gift ideas.  Reluctantly, I turned to the ever popular and safe bet, gift cards.  Yes, I buckled.  However, my gift cards were strategic.  I got him iTunes (which I found out he has Google play, so money took that place), a movie card, since he likes to frequent the movies with his friends, and a Seven Springs snowboarding gift card, something we haven’t done in the last couple of years, but something we’ve always done together.

Instead of simply handing the kid the gift cards, because where’s the fun in that, I got creative.  I wanted Kyle to work for his gifts, plus have a little adventure and fun.  I made Kyle a custom scavenger hunt.  Why not?  I make them all the time for Thrill of the Hunt, and I’ve yet to do one for Kyle.

The idea rocked!  At least from my perspective, and from the enthusiasm and smiles that radiated from Kyle’s face, I’d say my assumption was correct.

There’s so many different ways to create a scavenger hunt.  This one, I added a lot of items that mean something, heirloom furniture, inside jokes, Kyle’s dog and so on.  Truth be told, I had a blast creating the scavenger hunt, and I had an even better time watching Kyle go through it.

I started off making Kyle a Christmas card that was placed under the tree.  I knew he thought he was getting money or gift cards, he was correct, but not that easily.  The front of the card gave Kyle an overview of what was happening, that he had to follow the clues exactly, how many clues were given, and how many gifts:

Get ready for a Christmas adventure of fun & prizes
Follow 10 clues to find your gifts of all sizes
But be warned, follow the instructions to a T
Hints are few, your Christmas gift rewards are 3

Let’s get started.  Good luck Buddy!

On the inside of the card, I gave Kyle his first clue, which had multiple steps.

Clue#1

Venture out to see the ladies
Also stop by House of Hades
Collect the clues at each spot  
They’re hints for your next trot

The first part “ladies” is a joke in our household referring to our chickens in the chicken coop.  The second part “House of Hades” referred to the 4th book from Rick Riordan, Heroes of Olympus series.  Kyle was a big fan of the books.  Each location contained a clue, the chickens housed the clue – Bowl, and the book contained the other clue – Punch.

You got it.  Kyle had to look in our punch bowl, which was brought back from my parents when they lived in Germany while my Dad was in the service.  Our family tradition is to bring out the punch bowl every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Over the years, Kyle has taken over the punch making responsibilities.

Clue number three was a blast, literally.  Dad just got me a new .12 gauge shotgun.  I figured I’d work it into the equation.  Plus, it’s been a while since Kyle shot a gun and I thought he might have a little fun blowing apart a milk jug.

Clue #3

Your next clue points to a gift
Remember backyard safety -be swift  
Any shotgun holds the key
Shoot the jug to set it free

In the backyard, I had a plastic milk jug filled with water and a clue floating inside (wrapped in a sandwich bag).  Kyle went straight toward the gun safe, pulled out my .12 gauge shotgun and shot at the jug, a few times for fun.  Once he was satisfied that the jug was pulverized sufficiently, he pulled out the clue Behind the guitar!  Not only did this location contain another clue, a rebus which was a little harder to solve, but he also received an iTunes gift card. 

Behind-the-Guitar-Clue-Teen-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt

The answer to the rubus was a bit tricky, but I couldn’t make it too easy on my guy.

The answer was, Aunt Heather’s Gravy Boat.  I made the gravy boat out of clay when I was in high school.  Since that time the gravy boat, like the punch bowl has made its appearance at the holidays.  The gravy boat housed a black light.  I wrote messages and some clues in invisible ink along the way.  Kyle loved that!  It added another element of excitement and adventure to the scavenger hunt.

Clue-4-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Scavenger-Hunt-1

Throughout the scavenger hunt, I included a Christmas ornament Kyle got my Dad in 2013, which held another clue hanging in the Christmas tree.  I included Kyle’s guitar, our punch bowl (mentioned above), a few books, a chess table built by my Grandpap Chester (a family heirloom piece, and Kyle and I like to play chess) and naturally Scooby, Kyle’s dog, who carried a clue around his neck.

Here’s the clue I placed around Scooby.  I didn’t place it on the dog until Kyle was close to the clue, for fear Kyle would jump ahead or worse, the dog would scratch it off.

 

Clue #5

Take a selfie with me Kyle!

Take me for a walk, let’s stop at the apple tree
Let’s take Seven, we’ll both run & be free

Kyle and I used to take the dogs (Seven is my dog) for walks all the time, and every Easter was spent in the orchard in the backyard collecting Easter eggs.  Kyle has also helped plant many of those trees on the property.  Not only was this location significant, but I also wanted to test Kyle’s tree knowledge.  He found it no problem.  Of course, I heard him ask my Dad which tree was the apple.  I had no problem with Kyle phoning a friend, so to speak.

In Kyle’s room, I hung one of my old snowboards as a shelf, and recently I added another snowboard to the wall.  Kyle and I have been snowboarding together since he was 4-years old, except for the last couple of years.

Clue #7

Under the Lamar, under the Ride
Another gift is found on the backside
For you & a friend to crush the slopes
You might have to show your friend the ropes

The one snowboard was a Lamar and my old snowboard was a Ride.  I got Kyle a gift card to Seven Springs for him and a friend.  I told Kyle I’d take him up alone so he could get his feet back on before going up with a friend, and I’d be tagging along.  Of course, I plan on riding the slopes, but I doubt I’d be welcomed with the young duo.

During the entire scavenger hunt, I had Kyle complete easy and difficult clues and challenges.   He even allowed me to shoot video clips of his excursion.  That really made my Christmas Eve day!  I’m sure Kyle won’t remember the gift cards or when he used them, but I’ll bet he’ll remember the scavenger hunt for ever.

Here’s my video montage of Kyle’s Christmas Scavenger Hunt adventure.

Great job Kyle!  I hope you enjoyed it.

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

Adventures in San Diego On a Dog Scavenger Hunt

Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.  ~Roberto Bolaño

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Mission Basilica in San Diego. What a great place & such history 9/10/16

Recently, I trekked across the United States from Latrobe, Pennsylvania to San Diego, California.  Why?  Thrill of the Hunt was hosting a scavenger hunt.  What an adventure!

On Saturday, September 10, 2016, Thrill of the Hunt hosted our very first public scavenger hunt in San Diego.  It was a dog scavenger hunt.  Yes, Thrill of the Hunt is going to new distances with our events and we’re really expanding, bringing our adventures to others.

How did the trip go?  Honestly, it was very stress free and actually relaxing.  Is this unusual?  Sure.  I mean keep in mind, planning an event and getting all the logistics in order prior to leaving is a challenge all it’s own.  Then, tack on making sure everything gets packed, arriving on location in good time, and getting acclimated to the area, plus dealing with any changes or roadblocks along the way, and making the event happen as best as possible is a huge task.  One I relish in.

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Sunset at Mission Beach, San Diego, CA 9/10/16

Usually, the first issue begins with me catching my plane on time.  Yes, believe it or not, that’s always an issue.  Is it because I’m naturally a late person?  No.  In fact, I’m notorious for being early.  Unfortunately, when flying, I always underestimate my departure time, or I run into unforeseen problems or literal roadblocks.

This time was different, I left with more than enough time and guess what happened?  Nothing!  No traffic, no getting lost, which does happen to me a lot, even though I know where I’m going, no plane delay, no suitcase lost, nothing.  I thought of everything, although I did forget the dog bowls to refresh the dogs, but the Bark Park had an actual water fountain for dogs.  Really?  Yes!

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The Bark Park at Westfield UTC Shopping Plaza for the dog scavenger hunt in San Diego, Ca. 9/10/16

We’re did I go?  I flew into San Diego.  The dog scavenger hunt was held at Westfield UTC shopping plaza.  I met the participants at the Bark Park and they maneuvered their way throughout the dog friendly shopping area.  It’s a lovely place with the store entrances in close proximity to one another and isolated from traffic. Perfect for dogs on the move.

Check out the pictures and videos from the dog scavenger hunt.  They’re a hoot!   Facebook  •  Pinterest  •  Youtube.

What else did I do while in sunny San Diego?  I didn’t have much time, but I did explore a little.  I went to Mission Beach, which was breathtakingly beautiful.  I loved the boardwalk (cement).  It stretched along the coast, with sandy beaches and crashing waves on one side, and houses, restaurants and retails stores on the other.  People on skateboards, bikes and some with dogs traveled up and down enjoying God’s handiwork.

Did I swim, go surfing, or jog while there?  No.  In fact, I didn’t realize I never packed my swimsuit and I forgot sunscreen.  I was so focused on the event, it never occurred to me that I’d have extracurricular time.  So I walked and walked up and down the coast until dark, watching the sun set Friday night.

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Mission Beach boardwalk, San Diego 9/10/16

After the dog scavenger hunt on Saturday, I was given a recommendation to visit Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá.  It’s the first Franciscan mission in The Californias, a province of New Spain.  Let me tell you, VERY COOL!  I even arrived in good time to tour around, hit the confessional, sit and pray, and then I attended mass, which incidentally they played a bunch of my favorite songs.   It was a very spiritually enhancing and refreshing experience.  I’ll admit, while I was praying for Kyle’s well-being, I wished he was there, knowing he’d be intrigued by the history and structure of the buildings and gardens.

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Mission Basilica in San Diego. Very spiritual place! 9/10/16

After church, I headed back to Mission Beach.  One could say, I was hooked, even though I’m not much of a beach person.  I stopped at a taco stand and ate my dinner sitting in the sand watching the waves roll in while the sun set.  I continued where I left off the night before, walking around, stretching my legs and enjoying the atmosphere until darkness fell.  I was going to stop in a pub for a drink, to relax and soak up more of the energy, but I didn’t want to push my luck.  After hours and packed bars on a Saturday night, plus an out-of-towner, seemed like a recipe for trouble.

By the time Sunday rolled around, it was time to pack and head home.

What books did I read?  One part about traveling that I absolutely love, beside the adventure of it all, is the time I get to read.  Usually, on any trip, especially one that involves an airplane, I read a book leaving and one coming home.  This trip was no exception.  I read The Girls by Emma Cline heading to San Diego.  I knew the book took place in California so I thought it appropriate.  Coming back, I read the Young Elites by Marie Lu.  This is a series, which I need to get the next book, and the third will soon be released.

mission-beach-san-diego-boardwalk-9-10-16-aunt-heather-piper

Mission Beach boardwalk. Lovely beach! San Diego, Ca. 9/10/16

Next year when I head out to San Diego, I’m going to be prepared and bring my swimsuit, sunscreen and maybe I’ll try a few surf lessons.  I’ve always wanted to learn.  Actually so did Kyle, when he was little.

I missed my little man.  Where was he?  He had a football game Friday night, and a band competition and practice all day Saturday, on their home field.  I wished I was there to cheer him on, but alas I was almost 2,500 miles away expanding Thrill of the Hunt into new territory.  I texted him on Saturday wishing him good luck, with no response.  I also texted and called him on Sunday before leaving, and again no answer.  I just wanted to hear how his weekend went and to tell him how much I love him before flying home.  Maybe one day Kyle will rejoin Thrill of the Hunt and we can travel together.

Kyle’s a great traveler, even at the age of fifteen.  We’ve trained him well, he’s been traveling since he was a little tyke, to either my sister’s in Virginia, New York for mom’s work, West Virginia to visit Casey, plus the trips Nicole and Kyle took.  Yep, he’s already a world traveler.

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Mission Beach … lovely sandy beach & white waters. Great beach! San Diego 9/10/16

Now for the funny story.  After everything is an adventure with me.  It’s actually only a funny for me, but I’ll share.  Being a Latrobe native, we don’t have many skateboarders around, it’s not a lifestyle like it is in San Diego.  While walking around the boardwalk, I’d hear the wheels and the clapping of decks from skateboard after skateboard.  Sure there were some roller blades and a lot of bikes, but equally as many skateboards.  Eventually, I paid attention to the people riding the skateboards.  More than not, I made a mental note that they were older people, with the exception of a few youngsters.  Then it dawned on me, Wait, I’m their age!  I do have this thing about me.  I seriously forget how old I really am.  That made me chuckle.  The noise was very soothing to me, taking me back to my childhood.

I had a great adventure and I look forward to the next.

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posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,News,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

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.

Storm-on-Grape-Harbor-9-2-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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

Happy Birthday Dad! – 65 Years Strong

Years fly by, but the heart stays in the same place.  ~Harlan Coben

Happy Birthday Dad! January 16, 1951

Dad U Sonny 10-1956 Aunt Heather Piper

Dad & Uncle Sonny, I think on a school field trip. 10/1956

I’m well aware Dad despises me talking about him online, not that he ever reads anything I write.  Why?  Because the old man’s never touched a computer in his life, let alone knows how to use a search engine. (He’s never even used an ATM machine.)  So how does he know I talk about him online?  I’m usually ratted out by people who read my blog and follow my social media sites, usually my Mom.  However, since Dad’s getting up there in years, he needs to have each and every year recognized and recorded, at the very least for Kyle to remember his dear old Pap.  My rule when reading my blog: read it to enjoy but never tell Dad where you heard the stories about him, or even those of Kyle.

Anyway, Dad added another year to his resume.  What’s been going on with my retiree?  Not much, he’s loving his simple life on the ridge.  His typical day consists of hanging with the dogs, Seven and Scooby, sneaking in a nap or two, sometimes cutting firewood or doing yard work, and visiting his ladies at least four times a day.

Ladies?  Who are the ladies?  That’s what Dad calls his chickens, which totally cracks me up!  He loves those birds.  Recently, they started laying eggs, which has now become the big excitement of each day.  No joke!

Sure, I still help Dad with our hobbies.  We have our honey bees, and up until this past fall, we were raising turkeys, who are now tucked away in the freezer.  Summer always brings a renewed interest in fishing and trapping snapping turtle, too.

Is Dad still hunting?  You bet!  In fact, he took the muzzle-loader out this year, and he participated in the senior citizen season.  Time for a true funny story.  Late October is the youth hunt or mentor hunting, coincidentally it’s also senior citizen hunting, prior to the standard deer season.  Every time I heard Dad recount this past hunting season with anyone, he talked about the youth hunt.  He always called it the youth hunt, not the senior citizen hunt.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, gave Dad a very inquisitive confused look when Dad, an old man, talked about hunting during the “youth hunt”.  In Dad’s head he knew he was legal, but most people were taken back by the term “youth hunt” in reference to Dad hunting.

Nowadays, Dad’s interested in purchasing a crossbow for archery season.  I’m okay with that!  Seriously, whatever keeps him active and happy.  He was even trying to nudge Mom (Gigi) back into hunting, to get her moving around since she too is retired as of the first of the year.  Personally, I think Dad has a better chance of shooting a 24 point, with an arrow that ricocheted off of a tree trunk, and a large rock before hitting the buck directly in the lungs, dropping it immediately.  Could happen, but highly unlikely.

What did we do today?  We butchered a 620 pound pig.  Seriously?  Yes!  Only in the Piper household.  Dad should have been a butcher for he loves harvesting his own meat.  Kyle even came over early to spend the weekend, although he passed on helping with the pig.  Instead, Kyle assisted me in making his pappy a pound cake.  We spent the day together, and had a really nice time.

Happy birthday old man!  I hope you keep going for another 60 years.

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

Silly Greeting, Aunt Heather Style

Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.  ~Jane Austen

Pittsburgh gals 1995 Aunt Heather Piper

Becca’s wedding. Me, (L) Becca, Kathleen, Tracy – Pittsburgh gals from Contempo Casuals & Trade Secret 1995

This is a bit silly, and anyone who knows me, can picture this one.  I guess old habits stay with me, and this one certainly has in a big way, for about 14-years.  I’d like to think that one day, Kyle is going to tell stories about his crazy Aunt Heather, and one such story will include this special phrase.  To ensure Kyle truly understands, and knows this phrase was always delivered with warmth and love, for it comes straight from my heart, I’ll explain.

I have this thing I do with Kyle, (and sometimes with my dog and cat) which has spread to selected individuals, only at the right moment.  It’s really pretty silly actually, but something worth noting.  In fact, when I say this phrase to others, I always share stories about Kyle, my little Narrow.  It goes to show, just how much that little bugger is always on my mind, and how much I care for him.

What’s the phrase?  Instead of saying “There he is!”, as in Kyle walks into a room and I show my love and affection for him by focusing all my attention toward him.  I’ve changed it slightly to “Dare he is!”

Why?  Initially, it started when he was a baby, hence the baby talk.  Also, sometimes I was so excited to see my little guy, I’d rush through the words to eliminate the “Th” and pick a letter at the front of the alphabet for quicker delivery.  Plus, it was sillier to say “Dare” instead of “There”.  At least Kyle got a kick out of it, and it made him giggle.  Then, it became our thing.  So it stuck.

Dave greeting Aunt Heather Piper c. 1997

Davey greeting me in his own unique way.  He cracks me up!  Philadelphia area visiting his mom. c. 1997

When do I use this silly phrase?  When Kyle was a little tyke, I’d say it with pure enthusiasm and gusto, upon him waking  from a nap or from a long nights sleep.  Sometimes I’d say it when he walked in the door or visa versa.  Sometimes I’d say it out of nowhere just for the heck of it to make him smile, and show my love towards my Narrow.  In recent times, I’d say it to get his attention, and if I wanted to see a smile.  Especially, if he was being crabby or the tension was a bit overwhelming, to help lighten the mood.  It usually worked.  At least, after the argument, not necessarily during.  Of course picture me saying “Dare he is.” over and over with all of my heart and soul, sporting a big old grin.  Who can resist me?  Not even Kyle!

In fact, over the years I’ve caught Kyle using this phrase, mostly towards our pets, but sometimes with his Aunt Nikki and with myself.  He always did like to get a rise out of me, and that’s the best way to do it!  Personally, I loved it when he tried to get my attention by saying “Dare she is.  Hey Aunt Heather, dare she is!”  That little stinker would flash me an ornery grin and look at me from the corner of his eye.  LOVED THAT!

When I say it towards friends, it’s obviously not as frequent, but it’s a way for me to bring a smile to others, and possibly lighten their day.  Plus, those who know the story, which is about everyone, appreciates its origins, and I enjoy sharing my joy of Kyle with others.  Kyle and that silly phrase are such a part of me, naturally they’d go hand in hand.

The big question, how is it used?  It was always sort of our own personal greeting.  But it’s not a single line greeting.  Oh no!  It’s to be said in repetition, with each time getting louder, projecting more excitement, and enunciating each word deliberately.  In the case of Kyle, usually I follow it up with a big hug and a kiss (later on the cheek).

Example:  “Dare he is.  Dare (pause) He Is!  DARE (pause) HE (pause) IS!” and sometimes one for the road only quicker.  “Dare-he-is.”  It’s to be said with gusto, pure love and a huge smile.  Not only is this greeting verbal, but it’s also body language and attitude, a good attitude.  More than not, I’ve found myself saying it with my arms extended ready to embrace my little man.

Just talking about our silly greeting makes me want to give Kyle a big old hug.  This is one thing I hope Kyle always remembers about me, and I hope he remembers it fondly with all of my love.

 

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

Turkey On The Run

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.  ~Jack Kerouac

Dad-Kyle-in-Boat-8-20-2010-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad & Kyle in the fishing boat, getting ready to fish! 8/20/10

It’s no surprise, I totally get a kick out of our chickens and turkeys.  Truly!  So when a story as amazing as this one presents itself, I feel obligated to share the experience.

We need to step back about two and half weeks.  Dad just mowed the lawn, which was pretty high from the continuous rainfall for the last two months, and he asked me to rake up some of the bigger piles of grass to feed to the chickens and turkeys.  Great idea!  They love fresh grass and it’s healthier for them and us too.  I raked the chlorophyll strands into a five gallon bucket, and headed to the turkey coop first, since it’s further away.

Please note, normally our turkeys are very docile upon entering their domain.  They either huddle together opposite to the door, or they remain steadfast on their roosts.  So you can imagine, any other behavior would take me completely off guard.

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The escapee… this turkey is a survivor! 7/14/15

From the minute I opened the door, the story began.  I entered the turkey coop with my bucket of fresh cut grass and simply turned the container upside down to release the contents.  Well, the turkeys didn’t welcome such actions, and all eleven, yes there were (keyword here is were) eleven turkeys, each weighing about ten pounds or so, nearly fully grown, flapped their wings.  They flew in all directions and quite frankly freaked out!  Can you picture it?  Me standing in the middle of a feathery wind tunnel with large projectiles flying at and around me.  Just then, I saw two turkeys heading for the opened door, mid-air.  I leaned back, pretty gracefully I might add, and swatted the one bird back in the pen.  However, the second frantic bird made a break for it and succeed.  Oh crap!

My dad was still on the lawn mower doing the upper part of the yard.  I immediately, jumped out of the crazy hen house (pun intended), closed and locked the door behind me, and ran to the house to get the large fishing net.  While I was running around like a chicken myself (pun also intended)  I stopped dad to explain the situation.  Thinking he was going to be really made at me, he rolled his eyes, sighed, and got off the lawn mower to assist in rounding up the bird.

Dad and I cornered the escapee in the woods in the brush.  Yes, I was running around the woods with a long handled fishing pole while my dad was trying to work the bird in my direction.  At one point, we swopped and dad had the pole.  Did we capture the turkey?  Nope.  Of course that wouldn’t make much of a story.  The bird took cover under some very thick brush, and we couldn’t find it, even though we heard it calling.

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Gram & Kyle for Gram’s birthday at her apartment. 7/24/10

That happened about midday, so we had no choice but to return to our chores.  That night, as dad I were sitting on my parent’s deck, I looked up the hill.  Low and behold the turkey was strutting around the turkey coop.  It was too comical.  This time, I had the big guns with me, Kyle!  We each grabbed a long handled fishing pole, and we went turkey hunting.  We were doing pretty good too, keeping the chase out of the thick brush, at least for a while.  I got the turkey by its back once, but it slipped out.  Kyle did the same.  To be honest, I actually had a fun time running around the woods, chasing the turkey with Kyle.  It’s been too long since Kyle and I have been involved in a silly situation like this one.  My little man did a great job assisting me, but alas the bird eluded us and we lost it in really thick brush.  I didn’t want to keep pushing the bird in the opposite direction toward my cousin’s fields.  I wanted to keep it close, so we gave up for the night.  We came back to the house empty handed, and decided to make mountain pies and s’mores on the fire.

That night, the following day and into Sunday it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained hard!  To me that was a good thing considering most animals hunker down in storms, meaning they wouldn’t be out hunting.  Not to mention, the rain helps to wash away any turkey scent.  On Sunday, Kyle and I went back into the woods, yes with our fishing poles, to look for our runaway.  Did we see her?  Sadly, no, but I also didn’t see a crime scene either.  Good sign. (Imagine what we looked like walking through the woods with long handled fishing poles!)

Upon exiting the woods, I decided to throw some feed alongside the turkey coop in case it would come back.

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Gram & Pap. 1986

This brings us to Tuesday, of the following week!  The turkey lived for over a week in the wild.  Every once in a while we’d see it prancing around but couldn’t catch it.  It was too big, too fast and now it was flying.  Keep in mind, a couple hours earlier that day, I was informed my Gram passed away.  I happened to be at my parent’s house getting work down, since it was a really nice day.  I got a text from my cousin Mikey saying, he just saw a strange looking turkey on the road near my mom and dad’s house.  That’s our turkey!  She’s still alive!

Excited over the good news, I put Gram’s death aside, and ran out of the house to be struck down.  As I slammed the front door and walked down the porch steps, something came up from behind me, landed on my neck right behind my jaw and stung me!  Can you believe it?  I was stung in the neck!  Joking, I said that was Gram fighting one last time.

I ran back in the house holding my neck panting, “Oh crap!  Oh crap!  Oh crap!  It got me dad!  It got me in the neck!”

Dad:  “What happened?”
Me:  “I got stung in the neck!”
Dad:  Calmly.  Snickering at my drama.  “Ya, they hurt, especially there.”
Me:  “Oh crap dad!  It really hurts!”
Dad:  “Ya, I can imagine.  It’s not so funny now that YOU got stung.  You laughed at me when those bees chased me out of the turkey coop and stung me.”
Me:  Snickering to myself.  “No I didn’t laugh about that.  I said, I’m glad it was you and not me.  I laughed at you last summer when we were eating on the deck and the bee stung you in the lip and your lip swelled.”
Dad:  Chuckled
Me:  “Wow!  It really hurts!”
Dad:  “Maybe you still have the stinger in.  Come here and let me look.”  Dad looked, without putting on glasses and proclaimed.  “Nope, no stinger.”  Like he could see it!
Me:  “What if I have an allergic reaction?”
Dad:  Calmly.  “Well, then me and the boys (our dogs) will take you to the hospital.”
Me:   “No dad I don’t want the dogs to go along.”
Dad:  “Why?  They’d like to take a ride.  Seven (my dog) would hold your hand.”
Me:  “Dad!  I don’t want the dogs to ride along to the hospital!”
Dad:  “Oh, they’d be good.  Everyone should have a Lab doggie by their side.”  Our dogs are Labs but not my sister’s dog, even though Dad refers to her as a Lab.

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Dad & Kyle fishing on Kyle’s birthday. The entire family joined in on the fun! 7/30/05

Luckily, the only reaction I got was really bad soreness in my neck and down into my shoulder, no major swelling, and no trip to the hospital with the dogs.

Dad and I armed ourselves with our fishing poles, and continued where we left off, chasing the turkey in the woods till we gave up.  Best way to spend the day after the loss of a family member!

Two days later, that Thursday, my sister came home for the funeral.  Nicole joined in on the hunt and we gave it the old college try when we saw the turkey strutting around the coop, begging us to chase it.  This time Nicole added a new element of surprise or challenge?  You decide.  Instead of using the long handled fishing poles, she decided to grab an old sheet.  Yes, a flat sheet, like the kind that goes on a bed.  A sheet! This just keeps getting better and better.  I think, she was expecting to gracefully throw the sheet on the turkey, and have the sheet perfectly spread out and land naturally onto of our bird, and then she’d tackle the lump in the sheet.  I’m guessing that was her reasoning.  What really happened was very different.

Nicole walked around the woods holding up this sheet, while I was opposite to her with my fishing pole.  (I wish I had a video of that!  It was as funny as you can imagine.)  If anything, I think Nicole gave that turkey a good laugh, or the runaway thought a ghost was following her around.  So far Piper 0, turkey 5.  All along, I’d throw turkey feed around the coop to keep our turkey in the area.  It worked!

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Turkey’s on their roost 7/14/15

That following week, me, dad and Kyle finished building the chicken run on Tuesday, the day after Gram’s funeral.  We enclosed the area so nothing could get in or out.  That Wednesday, the chickens were running around in their playground, and who decided to join the fun?  Our turkey.  She came down to hang out by the chickens.  Dad had a great idea.  He instructed me to throw feed outside the chicken coop, prop the door open to their enclosure, and throw more feed inside, thinking we’d lure the turkey in.

That evening, when I went to set Dad’s trap, I came face to face with the turkey.  It was roosting on the post.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  Thinking I could capture the bird myself, like a ninja I crabbed my trusty fishing net and threw the net up over the turkey.  Did I get it?  Nope.  It flew up in a nearby tree.

The next morning dad said he went out to check on the chickens.  Guess who was waiting for him in the chicken run, eating the feed I spread?  Our wild turkey!  Dad said, he simply stepped in the fenced in area with a net, shut the door, and caught the turkey!

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Chickens walking around their pen 7/14/15

We’re now back up to eleven turkeys, happily roosting in their coop, until this fall.  That turkey had no idea how close I came to pulling out the shotgun and taking care of this problem once and for all before another wild animal feasted on our bird.  To be honest, I’m surprised our dogs, especially my sister’s dog didn’t get the turkey.  At one point the neighbors Saint Bernard ran across the road and chased the bird, but I intercepted him before he had a turkey dinner.

I’m sure the refugee told the others about her adventures in the wild.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Farming & Planting,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Thanks Dancing Dog Natural Market!

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  ~Cynthia Ozick

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A happy participant from the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, VA – Sponsored by Dancing Dog Natural Market 5/30/15

As far as I’m aware, Thrill of the Hunt is the originator of the dog scavenger hunt, (Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt and the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt, spring and Halloween themed respectively).  They’re certainly very popular among our Thrill Seekers and their four-legged pals.  To be honest, I enjoy administering to these particular scavenger hunts, as much as the participants enjoy walking around with their favorite sidekick, figuring out clues, completing online challenges, and collecting dog treats and toys, while hanging out with others of like interest.  They’re a lot of fun!

This past Saturday, May 30th, Thrill of the Hunt held another such event, the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, Virginia.  Why did we choose Winchester to expand our most recent dog scavenger hunt?  It’s all thanks to Dancing Dog Natural Market! (Check out their website: dancingdognatural.com and follow them on Facebook: facebook.com/DancingDogNaturalMarket)

Last year, Adam and Leann Pask, owners of the Dancing Dog Natural Market reached out to Thrill of the Hunt suggesting we hold a dog scavenger hunt in dog friendly Winchester, Virginia.  Great idea!  After checking out the area, and speaking with Adam, we both agreed Old Town Winchester would be a perfect location for a dog scavenger hunt.

Please note, the City of Winchester was very friendly and supportive when presenting this idea.

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Checking out the goodie bag from the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, VA sponsored by Dancing Dog Natural Market 5/30/15

Now that we’ve decided to hold a dog scavenger hunt in Winchester, Virginia, some logistics needed to be outlined.

When is the best time to hold our event?  Recently, the Dancing Dog Natural Market celebrated their store opening anniversary, and so it was chosen to host the event in the spring, closest to their anniversary date. Perfect!

Eventually, after much research, planning and promoting, the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt became a reality.  Dancing Dog Natural Market was our official sponsor of the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, Virginia.

With Adam’s influence and suggestion, Kresha Hornby, publisher at Valley Homes & Style Magazine ran a double page article on the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt and Dancing Dog Natural Market, in the Valley Events section of the April issue.  That was very exciting!

In addition to the local vendors, Weruva was present to pass out samples of canned cat and dog food, and Carol from Pawtivity was on hand to socialize with the dogs and owners.

Pawtivity is a new site dedicated to staying active and involved with your dog, your local community, and the dog community in general.  They’ll be launching their website soon, so please look for it (Website: pawtivity.com).  In the meantime, please check out their Facebook page:  facebook.com/pawtivity.  Thrill of the Hunt will be partnering with Pawtivity to bring all dogs and their owners exciting adventures!

Dancing Dog Natural Market Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger HuntNow that the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt has came and left, was it a success?  You bet it was!  In addition to being blessed with perfect sunny blue skies, we also had some awesome participants from as far away as Washington D.C.  We couldn’t have asked for a better group of dogs and owners to join us for our first dog scavenger hunt in Winchester, Virginia!

One of the biggest questions I received shortly after the conclusion of the dog scavenger hunt was, “Will Thrill of the Hunt be back?”  Of course we will!  We plan on making this an annual event and Dancing Dog Natural Market is one-hundred percent on board!

Thank you again to everyone who helped make the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt a success!  Thanks to the participants for spending their Saturday morning with us and showing an interest in our dog scavenger hunt.  We loved meeting your four-legged friends and we loved being a part of your family activity.

Thank you to the local businesses who participated as part of the scavenger hunt.  Your enthusiasm and involvement helped the scavenger hunt come together, and made it a true community event.

Thank you to Carol from Pawtivity for helping out and capturing the day in pictures.  It was nice having Weruva present and of course a huge thanks to Dancing Dog Natural Market for everything they’ve done!  Working with you was seamless and refreshing!  We can’t wait for next year!

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Article in the Valley Homes & Style Magazine for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, VA by Thrill of the Hunt, sponsored by Dancing Dog Natural Market

Now time to promote Thrill of the Hunt.  If you’re interested in a unique custom scavenger hunt or just want to discuss the possibilities, email me at Game@ThrillScavengerHunt.com, Heather@AuntHeather.com or fill out the form on our Contact Us page for a free quote.  We’ll get back to you within 24-business hours. I promise!

Please note, Thrill of the Hunt will be hosting our annual Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunts in local cities including Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Annapolis, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and New Hope, Pennsylvania.  Tickets are on sale now, but are limited.  We’re still accepting local businesses to be added to the actual scavenger hunt to increase foot traffic to these locations.

Next weekend, Thrill of the Hunt will be hosting our Singles Scavenger Hunt in Arlington, Virginia.  Join us for a socializing good time!

Speaking of different areas, we are always open to hearing suggestions on scavenger hunt themes and hometowns to bring our events.  Please Suggest An Event on our website, or email Game@ThrillScavengerHunt.com.  I seriously want to hear from you!

Please make sure you’re following the hunt on our social sites. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, always using #ThrillofHunt

Remember, everyone needs to … Experience the Game!

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

Alert! A Turkey Escaped!

I have failed at many things, but I have never been afraid.  ~Nadine Gordimer

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Kyle & Aunt Nikki on the Ducky Tour of Washington D.C. 6/2010

Lately, our turkeys have become the topic of conversation.  Rightfully so.  It’s not every day someone decides to purchase peeps, build a substantial turkey coop, and raise their very own Thanksgiving meal.  Well, the Piper household took on the challenge.

How are the turkeys?  They’re doing great!  They love their new home, at least that’s what I thought, but perhaps one bird wasn’t so happy.  On Sunday, Kyle checked in on our feathery friends.  I watched him from a distance feed and water the mid-sized creatures.  It happened so quickly, it took my mind a minute to comprehend.  Somehow a turkey got past Kyle and made a break for it.  Considering there’s a single door leading in and exciting the turkey coop, how did a bird get past Kyle who happened to be in the doorway?  Watching the scene with my own two eyes, I still have no clue.  Only Kyle!

So it went something like this.  A bird darted out the front door, even though it was more like a stroll, but I’ll give Kyle the benefit of the doubt since I wasn’t in the coop at the time of the incidence, and I didn’t see if the bird actually sprinted or walked.  Kyle turned around to hear us announce a bird got loose.  The feathery animal trotted around the turkey coop, not running, not flying, not hiding, but simply strutted.

I’ll give Kyle credit, the first thing he did was close the door and lock it, so our now free range turkey wouldn’t get any visitors or spark a riot.  But what Kyle did next just amazed me.  He took a couple of steps toward the wondering bird, stopped, turned around and moved in the opposite direction.  Why?  He wanted to put his gloves on.  Why?  I have no clue, it’s not like the turkey was made of barbed wire or anything.  It’s not even a fully grown turkey!

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Scooby & Seven running around my Uncle Walter’s field. 2013

Okay, now that Kyle’s hands were protected from the killer animal covered in white soft fluffy features, my thinking was that he could scoop up the bird and return him to his home, right?  Nope!  Kyle swiftly walked up behind the strutting bird, bent down in a motion to pick it up, then threw up his hands and stopped dead in his tracks.  Was there a force field protecting the bird?  Did God just speak to Kyle?  I was sitting about a hundred yards from the live action, on the swing on my parent’s deck wondering what just happened.  I couldn’t believe it!  Kyle could have very simply captured the turkey and put this to rest, but he didn’t!  He wouldn’t touch it, even with gloves on!  I was stunned!  Well, after that close encounter, the bird took off running realizing the danger in the form of a thirteen year old boy.  Now the chase was on.

After coming to terms with reality and realizing the type of turkey wrangler, or lack there of, I was dealing with, I got off my butt to do the job myself.  I get it, accidents happen, but geez all it took was Kyle to wrap his glove covered hands around the small creature, picked it up, and walked it four or five feet to the doorstep and push it back in.  No major weight lifting required, no rabbit animal, and no special tools or skills needed.  Now we had a scared bird on the loose that was trying to fly and hide.

The turkey coop sits at the edge of the woods, perfect camouflage.  By the time I ran up the hill, that’s exactly where the turkey was headed.  Perhaps he wanted to be like his ancestors and run wild and free among the trees, or he did indeed have an escape plan.  Well, to add another challenge to the scenario, our beloved and not so obedient dogs tagged along by my side.   Seven and Avery listened pretty well, but not Scooby!  He nipped at the flying features and drove the bird deeper into the woods, ending up in a serious pile of jagged brush.  What now?

Keep in mind, Kyle was wearing jeans, a tee shirt and flip flops.  I on the other hand was wearing shorts, a tee shirt, flip flops and my body (mostly my upper legs, forearms and little bits of my back and stomach) was covered in poison ivy.  Not exactly attire appropriate for trucking through the woods in a hostile environment.  Regardless, I knew I was willing to risk bodily injury to bring the bird home.  Well, that was my thinking for that brief moment.

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Kyle & Avery watching TV … cuddling. 4/2015

I tramped down my obstacles and moved my way closer to the escapee.  Although, the turkey also kept moving forward, just out of arms reach.  Finally, I trapped the bird deeper in the huge pile of brush, which was seriously entangled with pointy projectiles.  Thinking I outsmarted the turkey, I recovered a long branch to nudge it along.  The plan?  To poke the bird and keep it moving in one direction, toward Kyle and my mom who were waiting on the opposite side out in the open.  Keep in mind, my mom was armed with a long handled fishing net, also wearing flip flops.  Seriously?  Oh, YES!  What a sight!

Did it work?  NO!  The bird laid down and remained so, even with me poking at its side.  Stubborn bird!  I did what I could until my poison ivy was ripped open so much that my legs and arms felt like they were on fire.  I even asked Kyle to put on a pair of boots and come and get the bird.  He refused!  After realizing dad was sitting on the swing, not helping in any way, I gave up.  I was the only one really doing anything and I was the one cut up and bleeding.

What next?  I told Kyle to get the bird as I walked away from the action.  What did my dad have to say?  He yelled at me!  Really?  Oh YES!  He accused me of not doing anything and letting the bird get away.  Seriously?  YES!  I was beyond mad.  I was the only one doing anything.  Before the argument heated up to match the ripped open poison ivy and scratches all over my legs,  I left the scene.  What did Kyle do?  He also retreated and sat and played video games on his phone.  Not cool.  That’s a problem.  He was the cause of this situation.  Granted, it was truly an accident, but it alarmed me to see that he so very easily dismissed it, and now it became someone else’s problem.  I’m going to have to work with him on that.

Well, the bird worked its way deeper into the brush until we couldn’t see it anymore.  We waited around for it to make its appearance, but alas it remained transfixed.

Thinking the bird wouldn’t survive the night, and it would become a turkey dinner for the local coyotes or another wild creature, I accepted its fate.  Now, fast forward to this past Tuesday, two days later.  We got a call in the middle of the day from the neighbor.  They had our turkey!  Are you kidding me?  Nope!  Apparently, the bird wondered across the street, survived the local dogs and our dogs, and all wildlife to make it into their hands.  That’s impressive!

I’m happy to say the turkey was returned safe and sound, and will be until Thanksgiving.  What an adventure!

Does Kyle know?  I texted him.  His response?  Nothing.  He probably forgot all about it, or dismissed it as it wasn’t his problem, even though I know he felt bad about the escapee.  I guess there are worse things in life.  But I did make a note to give Kyle a lesson on picking up a turkey, naturally in a controlled environment, to get a feel for it and to not be afraid.

P.S. It’s ironic I used to call Kyle my turkey and sometimes turkey jerky.

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

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

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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.

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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

Laughing About Nothing … Hitchhiker

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

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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!

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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

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

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!

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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.

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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

Closing Down the Garden

We are stardust, we are golden and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.  ~Joni Mitchell

Dad Uncle Sonny as kids Aunt Heather Piper

Uncle Sonny & dad as kids. c. 1950s

This past weekend, among all the activities with the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt for Thrill of the Hunt and Kyle’s homework, building a fort for history class, we also managed to address the garden.

When I was younger, my parents had a huge garden.  Mom canned, A LOT, to stock up for the winter, and naturally all of us had to help out with the chore.  Did I like it?  Nope!  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I loved picking the fresh vegetables and of course eating the goodies.  I hated picking the rocks, HATED IT.  It was the most dreadful activity I had to do, besides the dishes.  I didn’t mind planting seeds or the plants.  I never minded weeding either, although I don’t remember doing much of that as a kid.  When the tomato worms made their appearance, those bulbous shaped green gross tomato killers, and they would try and devour our tomato plants, I rather enjoyed smashing them with rocks to help keep them at bay.  I guess like anything, there’s things we like and others we don’t.

Do I enjoy gardening now?  I do!  I don’t mind preparing the ground for planting, although shamefully, I make Kyle pick any rocks.  Still by far my favorite part of the garden is plucking the suckers off of the tomato plants.  You know the extra stem growing between two.  Love that job!  Then, afterwards, my fingers smell like fresh tomatoes.  LOVE IT!

We had a great run this season, God blessed us with a healthy harvest.  We had an abundance of tomatoes, which we were able to can a dozen quarts or so.  Early on in the season, I couldn’t keep up with the cucumbers and lettuce. Usually, no matter what, our squash is overwhelming, but not this year.  We did have some, mostly patty pan squash, but not like in years past.  Apparently, some sort of critter attacked the squash plants at the root, somewhat killing off the plant.  Others I talked to had the same issue.  I guess it happens.  Our giant pumpkins started to form, but died off early.  Dad’s peppers did finally take off, only producing a couple peppers the size of a half dollar.  Overall, a good harvest.

Surprising me this year, we feasted on a bunch of cantaloupe and watermelon.  Funny thing?  I didn’t plant any.  It was only later that I found out Kyle added his own touches to the garden.  That made sense since they were all planted together.  Regardless, good job buddy!

I also had Kyle and the neighbor kids plant giant sunflower seeds.  They grew!  Big!

I kept the garden going until there was a threat of frost, all the way up until this weekend I was picking tomatoes.  To not take any chances, I picked the rest of the green tomatoes on Sunday before tearing down the garden.

What are we going to do with the nearly four large bags of the green tomatoes?  I sorted some to be cut up for fried green tomatoes, the smaller ones we are going to pickle and can, and the nicer, unblemished ones are going to be placed in brown paper bags and stored in a cool dry place to ripen.  By Thanksgiving, we should have a few garden ripened tomatoes.  Not all will survive  but we should have some to join our bountiful spread.

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dad, Uncle Sonny, Jeremy & Nicole & Uncle Denny’s back. Christmas 1992

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks before deer season starts in New York, we will be proactive and prep the ground for next season.

What do we do when getting the land ready for winter?  On Sunday, we pulled up the tomato stakes, lifted the plastic (we use garden plastic to help control the weeds) and we folded up our make shift fence.  To get the garden ready for next summer, we’ll spread peat moss, sand and a big old pile of manure on the ground.  It’s better to let it set all winter.  We get my cousin Jim to plow for us if he has time before the seasons change, then disk and level the ground in the spring, but if not, he’ll do it all in the spring when he has the plow hooked up to the tracker.

Kyle was a huge help!  Seriously, a major three-hundred sixty degree change from last weekend.  Yes, he was screwing around and playing with the dogs as he worked, but he did a spectacular job!  Minimal to no complaining and he was in a good mood, no doubt the effects of the brisk sunny air and little bit of exercise.  He was a happy kid, the way I truly enjoy seeing him.  Not to mention it helped the dogs were cracking us up and running around like wild animals who were finally released from prison.

It was a good day!  Poor dad was really sick with a sinus infection, but we got the job done.  Gardening doesn’t just fill the tummy, but the soul too.  Next year I’m planning on expanding my product selection.  I have all winter to decide what additional crop we are going to enjoy next year.  Can’t wait.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Farming & Planting,Milestone,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Autumn’s Sights, Sounds & Smells

Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it ‘the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.’ The mere imitation, however accurate of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of ‘Artist.’ ~Edgar Allan Poe

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Our ridge in the Autumn … love this drive no mater the season. 2013

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved this time of  year.  ALWAYS.  Something about the cooler, yet usually sunny weather that makes me want to move around and be active.  Even on cold dreary rainy days, I must admit, I still find it refreshing and appealing.  To me, Autumn is simply a season to fill all my senses.

Sights/Touch

The fall colors always mesmerize and draw me into their paintings.  They create an almost surreal world where mystical meets reality.

The other day I was walking through Latrobe and the wind kicked in, releasing colorful dead leaves from the branches as I was under the tree.  It was amazing!  All the leaves gently fell all around me and gathered at my feet.  Like a little kid, I did a small twirl with my face turned toward the bright blue sky with my arms stretched wide, feeling the sun and the wind.  It was a small moment, but a huge one in terms for thankfulness of experiencing such beauty.

The Laurel Highlands are so very pretty on a macro and micro level.  Whether you’re looking at the ridges from a distance with all the clumps of different bright fall colors, or starring directly into a pile of raked leaves, visually it’s intoxicating, in a good way.

Yes, the leaves and bare trees scream of death, letting us know winter is around the corner, which I’m happy about for that’s my second favorite season.  But you have to admit, the process to get us to the next cycle of life is well worth it.

Besides the leaves turning, partaking in the creepy Halloween decorations are exciting.  The ghost and ghouls and witches and bats line yard after yard, ready to creep out a kid or two is entertaining.  Again, bringing me back to my youth.

Fall festivals like Fort Ligonier Days Fort Ligonier Days Parade – Marching Down Memory Lane and pumpkin patches also scream fall and the arrival of Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Like most kids, I too carved up a pumpkin or two in my day.  In fact, that was one tradition I kept going for most of my life, expecting Kyle to take the reins.  Well, when Kyle was about three years old or so, I found out that wasn’t going to happen.

True story.  My parents and I took Kyle to the pumpkin patch to pick out, none other than pumpkins.  Kyle chose the biggest one for himself and smaller, less appealing orange squashes for me and my parents.  He’s always been a stinker like that!

I got everything ready for the carving adventure to begin, which Kyle was still on board and excited to help hack away at his very own pumpkin, that is until we began.  After I cut the top off for Kyle, I instructed him to scoop out the guts before cutting the face.  That kid sniffed the inside and took a good long look down into the innards.  Turning his nose up, he instructed me to scoop out his guts.  No way, I was working on my own pumpkin.  I did get him started before he reluctantly joined in.  Bravely following my lead he stuck his bare hand inside, to quickly remove it announcing he doesn’t like the feel of the seeds on his skin.  Are you kidding me?  Nope.  That’s our Kyle.  For a couple of years after that we got him latex gloves, yes like he was doing surgery, but if the wall of the pumpkin grazed his arm he would freak out.  Eventually, Kyle would sit while I carved the pumpkins for him, all while he dictated what I was suppose to be doing and telling me how to do it.  This proves my love for that kid!

Soon that even got old and our pumpkin carving days pretty much came to an end, something Kyle could care less about.  At one point, I had Kyle paint his pumpkin, but again that didn’t keep his interest.  So now we just decorate with plain old pumpkins.

Sounds

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Kyle picking grapes to make grape juice & grape jelly. 9/2/13

In addition to enjoying the mosaic colors of God’s impressionistic landscapes and human imagination of Halloween decorations and pumpkin carvings, I like the sounds of autumn.

Fall seems to bring with it a unique sound.  Sure the crunching of leaves under my feet certainly sets the stage for winter.  Granted, it’s not very helpful when hunting, but there’s something so therapeutic about stomping on dried up leaves.  To me it’s the same effect that bubble wrap has, it’s just fun to hear the sound of popping and the anticipation before the “explosion”.  Of course no matter what season, perhaps not a hot humid summer day, hiking through the forest is the best medicine for any ailment.  Walking in the woods is like being in my own personal telephone booth and answering a direct call from God, very spiritual when your heart and mind are open to listen.

During the fall season, even the wind vibrates differently, like it’s sounding an alarm for the coming of snow and winter.  I know the geese hear it for they too blast their own siren announcing their travels to the south.

Besides the peaceful sounds of nature, there’s the Halloween screams and horror that fill the air.  The creaky floorboards, the terror of young ones being frightened, the maneuvering through corn mazes and the sounds of tractors driving around a wagon full of hay and spectators who are also enjoying the fall season.  Exhilarating!

Smells/Tastes

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A perfect fall day on my Uncle Walter’s farm. 2013

But the best part of autumn are the smells and the foods that hold those scents!  Spices!  I’m not talking about Cajun seasonings or hot sauce.  No.  I’m talking about ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Each is a unique and wonderful aroma, but put them together you get autumn in every bite.  Naturally, I’m talking about deliciousness such as pumpkin pie, mom’s absolute favorite; spice cake, hot apple cider, sunflower seeds, mostly the action of harvesting the seeds and baking them; and apple butter.

The other day mom got a jar of apple butter and slathered it on a piece of bread.  As a youngster, I helped mom can food all the time in preparation for the long winter months.  What did we can?  Just about everything from the garden, tomatoes, beans, beets, (we do can deer meat too, and sometimes we find the deer in the garden) cucumbers for pickles, and corn.  I also helped my mom and grandma make apple butter.

Yes, I was part of the entire process from picking the apples, which I never cared for due to the bees buzzing around the rotten apples on the ground, to grinding the fruit and boiling the jars for canning.  Over the years, I’ve even enjoyed opening a fresh jar of apple butter to accompany my toast.  My brother, Ryan, LOVED apple butter.  Sometimes I would catch him eating it straight from the jar.  Forget waiting for the toaster to make toast, Ryan would sit in front of the television with a loaf of bread, not slices, an entire fresh loaf of bread and a pint size jar of apple butter.  In a matter of minutes he would fill his craving and empty stomach and polish off all the bread and the apple butter.

Apple butter is good, but nothing gets my mouth watering like homemade grape juice!  We’ve always had a grape arbor and sometimes dad would make wine out of it, now recently my cousin Mikey harvests the grapes for his wine, but when I was little we picked the grapes strictly for grape jelly and grape juice.  Making grape juice is really easy, too easy.  The hard part is the time it takes waiting for the juice to ripen for consumption.  I used to suck down juice like it was water.  (Later on did I find out that juices were my number one trigger for my serve attacks with mouth ulcers, no more juice for me)  Making grape juice was really a lot of fun, so much so I even had Kyle join in on the tradition. Smallest Moments, Mean the Most Kyle’s not really a juice type of guy, but he’ll drink the sweetness especially if he invested time in preparing it.  He also really likes our homemade grape juice.

No matter what your favorite season is, you have to admit, autumn has a little bit of something for everyone.  Our family has a lot of traditions that accompany this time of year, which makes it even more meaningful.

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

The Dog Catcher Part 2

The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.  ~Aung San Suu Kyi

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Very sad beagle found at the dog catcher, reminded me of Ryan’s dog Jake. 10-9-14

With my previous blog Dog Catcher Part 1, I set the stage with respect to our dogs taking off, giving themselves a nature run, and not returning with Avery.  Now for the truly scary part of the story.

Once mom got the message that my cousin saw some post on Facebook about a stray dog, a.k.a. Avery, we then found out they called the dog catcher.  Yikes!  This was a new one for us.  I don’t believe it was a malicious action, for this family stated that they asked around and no one claimed this stray, who happened to be a  Virginian dog.  Avery probably gave off the out-of-towner vibe up on the ridge.

Since we were moving into unknown territory, questions started surfacing.  How does one get a hold of the dog catcher?  Who is the dog catcher?  Where is the facility?  Seriously, we had no clue to any of those questions.  I called the Greensburg state police and they gave me a phone number, but they didn’t know where the kennel was located.  Really?  That’s what he said, and he wasn’t brushing me off, but on the contraire being very sincere.  He informed me that Hoffman’s Kennel doesn’t answer their phone, but I should leave a message and they’ll get back to me.

We did as instructed, but we also didn’t want to wait around for a call back, Avery was wrongfully placed in prison and it was our duty to bust her free.  This process was all new to us.  I never even realized there was such a thing as a dog catcher in the area.  To me, he was a myth you only see in cartoons. You know the mean old nasty man who wanted to catch dogs with an over-sized fishing net.

Thinking smart, mom called her veterinarian for an address.  Bingo!  In addition to the address, there was a stressful tone in the voice that gave a sense of complete urgency to retrieve Avery, immediately.

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Another curious prisoner at the dog catcher 10/9/14

Now the worrying really kicked into fear.  Even though we never spoke to this mysterious dog catcher, mom and I headed in his direction to 285 Cloverleaf Drive Delmont, Pennsylvania 15626.  We were told he lives on the property, so we might be able to pop in and get the goods before bedtime.

On the way, mom told me about a story she read on the You Know You’re From Latrobe, PA IfFacebook page.  (There are screen shots of the conversations)  According to these individuals, Hoffman’s is a dog serial killer!   There is even a Facebook page to try and shut him down Stop Hoffman Kennels.

Okay, hearing that, and only those stories and nothing to contradict, I made up my mind regarding this faceless figure.  Not fair I know, but think about the stress I was in, not to mention Nicole kept calling and hounding us, asking if we got her dog yet.

Finding the place was easy, if you knew the address.  The facility wasn’t marked like I expected a government funded location to appear, but instead it was very creepy, and almost shady.  I mean that, granted it was dark but regardless, I felt like a dog thief intruding on someone’s house.

Once there, I knocked on the door and he, a.k.a. the dog catcher, Gary Hoffman, graciously opened it, hearing me out.  I gave a description of Avery, and informed him that he was holding her.  Mr. Hoffman gave me a puzzled look and simply told me no, he didn’t have a dog by that description.  What?  Still standing awkwardly in the doorway, with no sense of invitation, I stood my ground and wouldn’t take that as an answer.  I told him I know for a fact he picked her up today.  Still sporting a confused look, he again reassured me he didn’t have my dog.  Again, sternly I informed him yes he did, I know for a fact a person called him, and he picked her up, mid-day today.  Mr. Hoffman’s response, “I was in Fayette County all day.”  Personally, I don’t give a crap where he was, he had my sister’s dog!

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Poor lonely dog at the dog catcher 10/9/14

Still not believing me, he said meet me around as side door.  I was invited into a waiting room type, that smelt horribly of ammonia!  We continued this repetitive conversation, and I never backed down. I was stern yet polite.  Finally, after repeating myself and ensuring him he does in deed have Avery, without question, he suggested, “I don’t have her, but you’re more than welcome to have a look.”  Couldn’t he have just offered in the first place when I told him I know for a fact he had my dog?

Giving Mr. Hoffman the benefit of the doubt, let me explain.  He might have been confused during the conversation because I kept calling Avery a puppy.  She is technically a puppy, just a large one, nearly fifty pounds.  But one would think if I have a missing dog, and I said she was here, he would automatically let me see the dogs?  He was almost dismissive of me.  Granted it was 7:00 pm, past normal hours, but that’s his job.

Once inside the actual Kennel, I caught Avery’s eyes immediately!  She looked so sad from behind the chain linked fence.  Now another obstacle stood in my way, literally.  He wouldn’t release Avery.  What?

He stated all dogs need to have their tags on them to be released.  Seriously, if she had her tags on her then he would have known where to find her owner.  Frustrating!  He wasn’t going to let her go without tags, which are all the way in Virginia!  I get the reasoning, to make sure all dogs have his or her shots.  I explained, I was dog sitting for my sister and the dog got away from me, and she must have lost her tags in the woods.  I informed Mr. Hoffman, Avery’s tags were in Virginia.  I also gave a solution that we could call my veterinarian’s office, they have all of Avery’s paperwork since I took her there for her final shots while babysitting.

He still was not going to release Avery, and gave me a run around saying I couldn’t take the dog.  Seriously?  I was ready to tackle this guy, grab the dog and run!  My mom was waiting in the car and when needed, she could peel rubber like the best of them.

Dog Catcher Aunt Heather PiperSolution!  Call Nicole!  My thought was that she surly had copies of Avery’s tags!  I know my geek sister and that sounded about right.

In front of Mr. Hoffman, I wasn’t shy about my intention of leaving with the dog, I called Nicole.  Once I got her on the phone, the dog catcher did ease up a bit and said, she doesn’t need tags since she’s an out of state dog.  What?  Why didn’t he just say that in the first place?  He knew she was from Virginia, a.k.a. out of state!  What is going on here?  He took down Nicole’s contact information, and filled out some form.  Now can I get her and go?  Nope!  He said there’s a fee.

Okay, how much?  He kept saying it wasn’t for him it was for the state.  Whatever.  How much?  Fifty bucks.  In all the confusion, guess who didn’t have my purse.  I felt like this was a nightmare that wouldn’t end.  It was taunting me.

Mom!  I exited the smelly waiting room to pull my mom into my nightmare, to meet our villain face-to-face.  Mom was prepared, and wrote the man a check.  This was a bit comical.  Mr. Hoffman kept repeating that the money wasn’t for him, it’s for the state funds of some sort.  Mom asked “Who do I make the check out to?”  He replied, “Hoffman’s.”  A snicker escaped my lips.  Personally, I don’t even care if the money was for him.  He was doing a job, and he should get paid, I get it, but he seemed very defensive over the money.  We did get a receipt, so as far as I can tell it was all legitimate.

Now let me lay all the cards on the table, which are fact and which are fiction, I truly have no idea?  All I know is what I went through, and eventually our own personal story was a happy tail (that’s a pun).  We got Avery back home safe and sound.

Dog Catcher Hoffman Facebook Aunt Heather Piper48 Hour Rule
I was told everyone has 48 hours to retrieve their dog before he euthanizes them.  48 hours?  Really?  That’s just enough time to realize your dog is gone, and the neighbor’s haven’t seen the 4-legged refugee.

I also heard after the situation, that Hoffman’s works with a local no-kill shelter to get the dogs before they are killed, as long as the shelter has room.  Again, I have no proof, but this is what I was told.

Finding Owners
Many people claimed Mr.  Hoffman doesn’t try and track down the owners beforehand.  Avery did have a chip in her, which he did wand but the wand came up negative.  Perhaps he needs to change the batteries in his wand.

First of all, one would think he would have done that before placing Avery in her prison cell.  What’s wrong with being proactive?

On the contrary, a close friend of mine informed me Mr. Hoffman scans microchips, and ID tags to contact the owners.  He is not required by law to seek dog ownership, only to keep them for 48 hours.  Again really?  Unfortunately, he is just doing a government funded job.  Again back to my issue with government having too much control.  Dogs die.

Location
Now, let’s get down to the location of the dog catcher and his prisoners.  No one seemed to have a clue where his facility was located, not even the police!  If you check the website, it just gives a phone number.  I’m somewhat fine with leaving a message and having him screen his calls, but let’s face it, this is a job and that’s part of the job.

While writing this blog, I did manage to find the address online, but it took a little digging.  It also helped, I was more informed of the kennel’s name and location.

This one I do have a huge issue with.  The kennel is unmarked, at least from what I saw!  It just had the house number like any other house on the street.  If this is a government funded facility, meaning I can’t even take my pistol in there even with a permit, then it should be marked as such.

I had someone share a counter point-of-view on this.  They stated that not publishing the location of the kennel was done by design so people wouldn’t abandon their dogs.  Perhaps cameras and large fines would solve that problem.

In case the contact information for Hoffman Kennels was missed here it is again:
285 Cloverleaf Drive
Delmont, Pennsylvania 15626
724-468-5505

Hoffman Kennel Contact Information Aunt Heather PiperSolution
Basically, what this boils down to is Legislation.  I don’t know who’s Mr. Hoffman’s boss, or how we can get the rules changed, but in this digital world we live in, helping these strays and missing dogs being reunited with their owners shouldn’t be like moving mountains.  Perhaps if Mr. Hoffman was required by law to photograph all captured dogs and ID them immediately, then post this information to a central Facebook page, it would help a lot of dogs and their owners, since going viral is the quickest way to get the word out,  eliminating the old fashion methods.

Also, I get it Mr. Hoffman’s job is 24-hours, but if he signed up for that, and is getting paid for such, then that is his job.  He either needs to continue or resign.  Maybe, there is a way to have an assistant, perhaps there is one in place to help with some of the workload?

I’m really not sure what I feel about this entire encounter, and the policies of the dog catcher.  I must say, it seems as though legislation needs to revisit policies and procedures.  I’ve heard both sides, yet my experience was a bit odd, not helpful and understanding, but shady.  Again, it was a strange situation.  Am I missing something?

I was suggested by many to contact the local news stations and report my experience.  Doing some digging around, I found out Hoffman Kennels was in the news on several occasions!  About a year ago, the TribLiv had this article and Channel 4 News ran a story on Hoffman Kennels.

http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/2517886-74/hoffman-animal-dog-control-dogs-kennel-walters-license-soxman-plum#axzz3GD7BLv5P  TribLive Hoffman's Kennel Aunt Heather Piper

Channel 4 news Hoffman Kennel Aunt Heather Piperhttp://www.wtae.com/news/local/westmoreland/Residents-upset-with-Delmont-dog-kennel/16200662

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me with advice, prayers and informed me on the opposing views.  All this was very new to me.  While I was touring the clink, I did manage to snap a few pictures of captured dogs.  I posted them to Facebook on the ride home, hoping to alert a dog owner.  Also, I should say thank you to Mr. Hoffman for answering the door in the evening and hearing me out, eventually releasing Avery to us.  From what I understand, he doesn’t make that his policy.  See, prayers really do work!

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

The Dog Catcher Part 1

Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.  ~Ben Okri

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Avery relaxing on the couch. She looks more like my cat … 2014

Recently, we had a run in with the dog catcher.  Yes!  Let me step back to explain.

Last Thursday, I had all three dogs, Seven (black Labrador), Scooby (blond Labrador) and Avery (a.k.a. Acorn a Doberman mix) outside to stretch their legs and run around.  Let me step back even further that very day to state, I was suppose to put the tracker on Avery, which I was going to do when I went back into the house.  However, I didn’t get the chance.

Why?  Because all three dogs, yes they formed a posse, eluded me and made for the woods.  Truly, it was like one of the dogs said, ‘Hey look over there’ while they pointed in the opposite direction they were heading, and then took off running before I realized what had happened.  I know that makes me sound like a simpleton, but you don’t know these dogs.  Normally they are clunky, loud and up my butt, until they get into ninja mode.

Anyway, my heart sank when I came to the realization that I lost ALL three dogs, on my watch!  It’s bad enough when Seven and Scooby go on their walk abouts, but this time they have my sister’s precious mutt.  Yikes!  I knew if I didn’t get that dog back soon, I was in deep water.

Naturally, right before this happened, I had to leave.  Crap!  No worries, I thought, they’ll probably go trotting around the woods and be back in a couple of hours, at least that’s their behavioral pattern.

Upon my return around diner time, I found Seven and Scooby and Storm, my cat, waiting for me on the porch.  All three animals were ready to go inside and relax.  What!  I’m missing one?  Avery!  O no!  Now that’s serious.  Not only because she’s my sister’s dog and Nicole would go spastic, but Avery is a puppy, who doesn’t know our woods like our boys do.  Plus, we highly suspect Seven relies on Scooby’s nose to get them back.  Now Avery is completely solo.  What to do?

I called my mom.  She knew they all left in the morning, because I informed her and I was happy to report two out of the three dogs returned.  When she asked which ones, we both got a little scared.  I stated, “Why didn’t she just stay with the boys?”  Mom’s response, “‘Cause she’s an idiot!”  Later on, I would find humor in that statement, I don’t think Nicole did.

That’s when I stopped up the neighbors house to tell them to keep their eyes peeled.  While talking to the neighbor gal, she made a very good point.  She stated that I was out numbered!  Yes I was!

Mounting the quad, I drove it around to areas of woods in close proximity, places I could reach on four wheels.  Nothing!  No Avery.

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Look at this dynamic duo, Nicole & Avery walking in rain. 2013

Again, I had to depart but was planning on returning in a couple of hours.  By the time I wrapped up work, mom and I started searching for this lost bad puppy by 4:00 pm or so.  I even strapped on my boots, packed my flashlight and pistol and took Seven and Scooby for a hike through the local woods.

On a side note, there have been a number of bear sightings in the area.  Great!  I thought watch me come face-to-face with one.  My luck, I’ll startle it taking a crap or something, hence the need for the pistol.  I know if faced with a relentless bear, you are suppose to make yourself look big and menacing.  Right?!  I only look that scary when I don’t get enough sleep or Kyle is pushing  my buttons.

You see, over the years tracking our boys we’ve grown pretty custom to their running behaviors, so I had an idea where to look.  Having a few options, I chose the one that made the most sense and the one I wasn’t personally familiar with, near the soccer fields.

There is a stretch of woods from one ridge road to another.  Closest to my parents house is my Uncle Walter’s property, then it spans to other property owners before reaching Bethel Church Road.  Set back in the woods are the Loyalhanna Soccer fields.  We’ve tracked Seven and Scooby way over there before, but I’ve never hiked that far in that direction.  I guess it was a perfect time to get familiar with those woods. 

Did I mention it’s bow hunting season?  O yes!  I was praying no one took a shot at that puppy or was planning on using me as a target.  While trudging through the leaves and branches, I saw a couple of hunters in their tree stands.  Feeling bad about disrupting them, I quickly redeemed myself when I accidentally kicked up a deer and pushed it in their direction.  That made me feel a little better.

I let Scooby take the lead, perhaps bringing me in the direction of their earlier adventures.  It seemed to work for a little until he tuckered out on me and Seven was simply excited to go for another walk.

On another side note, the dogs led me into a bunch of thorns and jagged brush.  Seven refused to go first, remaining safely behind me while I got all sliced up tramping down the natural barbed wire death traps.  Then, he pushed my butt with his head to get me to move faster, nearly face planting me, yet wouldn’t take the lead.  I kept yelling at him to stop pushing me.  It was like being in the woods with Kyle!  I know the hunters saw or at the very least heard us.

As I was hiking some pretty steep rocky hills, mom called to give me a heads up, that our next step was to inform Nicole.  Mom wanted to post Avery’s picture to Facebook but not without giving her fair warning.  Agreed and understood, yet scared!  We knew that was our best chance of recovering Avery, yet we really didn’t want to face the wrath of my sister.

Eventually, Nicole did call while I was winded from hiking a cliff of death, to yell at me and to blow off some steam.  She informed me that she was personally holding me responsible and blaming me for Avery’s disappearance.  My reply, I wouldn’t think anything other.  She also asked me if I was calling her name while hiking.  Really?  No, I wanted another challenge, and I thought I’d move through the woods like a Sasquatch and sneak up on the dog. (sarcasm)  Yes, I was yelling, my throat was raw and sore.

To sum it up, I eventually found my way to the soccer fields and no Avery.  I called mom to pick me and the boys up.  I also thought, since there were games going on and kids running around, I had a touch of hope that Avery pushed her way onto some other family, but nothing.

As mom pulled in, I saw she was on the phone.  She got a lead!  Avery was found up on Butina ridge (not a technical term but if you’re a local you know where that is).  Apparently, Avery found some kids and decided to try and make friends. (I knew it!)  While Avery is truly only a puppy, she’s still a fifty pound dog that likes to jump and plant her long tongue in people’s faces, like it or not.  The kid’s dad didn’t know what to do with her, since her tags were missing and their neighbors didn’t recognize her, so he called the dog catcher.  doom doom doom.  We’ve all heard horror stories about the dog catcher!

This was the first time we’ve ever had to deal with the dog catcher.  Our boys usually stick to the woods and shy away from people when they take off.  Of course with one exception, Dog Gone Irony they always return.

Now the second part of our adventure, the dog catcher!  To be continued… The Dog Catcher Part 2

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

Laughing About Nothing … Our Dog vs. A Robber

Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.  ~Oliver Sacks

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Seven & Scooby running & relaxing in the backyard. 2014

Even though Kyle is growing up and becoming more independent and “cool”, he still has a witty sense of humor and makes me laugh, hard!  This past weekend his humor shined through and through.

These silly situations usually happens when we have dashboard time in the car.  One of us makes a comment, then the other joins in with another comment, only more ridiculous and so on.  This continues until we have a seriously stupid yet very comical fictional story for our own pure entertainment.

What was so funny?  Our dogs!  Kyle asked about Scooby’s behavior with a stranger in the house, the DirectTV guys working on our cables to be exact.  I had to lock all three dogs in the bedroom (yes I am still dog sitting Avery), not a good thing!  Then, somehow we started on a scenario involving a robber entering the house.

For those of you who don’t know, Scooby is our blond Labrador.  Normally, Labs are very friendly dogs, well not Scooby, at least not with anyone else besides us.  Scooby is seriously the most gentle and loving dog, borderline clingy, that is ONLY with us.  Scooby is not even very nice with friends and family who frequent the house.  Yep, he’s a one dog family.  He’s too needy for my tastes, but very good with Kyle and pretty protective of him.  Kyle lays on Scooby and tugs on him and smothers him and runs him around.  Scooby loves every minute of it, unlike my dog Seven who is the Black Labrador.  Seven likes to be loved, but does not need saturated with affection like Scooby craves.  Scooby mean side is the basis of our sense of humor, at least for this particular story.

Kyle and I went off on ideas  of a robber entering the house and how Scooby would react, charging and latching on no doubt.  Typical stuff you’d see in a movie when a robber enters the house with an attack dog.  At least that’s how I envisioned it.  Then, our made up story went a bit non politically correct from there.  Do disrespect intended.

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We loved pap! Me to the far left, Nicole, Jeremy & Chad. 1977

We started laughing about this fictitious robber who now has a wooden prosthetic leg.  I know, now-a-days most prosthetic legs are made from some sort of metal, however I also know first hand they used to be made of wood.  How do I know?  My beloved pappy had not one, but two prosthetic legs.  I’ve talked about my dad’s dad many times before Truly Homemade, Who Does Kyle Favor More, Pappy?  He had his first leg amputated below the knee before I could remember, and the other leg amputated above the knee when I was a little girl.  At the house, he used a wheelchair to get around, but when he was at work (yes he worked in a sawmill until he had a stroke and died) he had two prosthetic legs.  He would walk on them with two canes.  My pap was mentally and physically strong.

Our story started with Scooby getting a hold of this mysterious stranger’s leg and yanking it off.  To add to the fun and drama, our scene continued with Scooby gnawing on the leg and turning it into sawdust while the robber hops along.  Then, somehow Scooby got outside, still clutching the wooden prosthetic leg and running around the backyard, proud of his new “stick”.  Scooby would throw it in the air and catch it and then the other dogs would join in pulling and play with the leg.

What happened to the robber?  No clue.  We focused on the humor of Scooby running around with a wooden leg.

As we detailed this ridiculous story, I commented how funny it would be to come home to Scooby running with a wooden prosthetic leg in his mouth.  “Can you imagine him greeting us as we pulled in the driveway with a leg hanging out of his mouth?”  Kyle and I died!  We were laughing so hard, no sound was exiting our mouths.  If it wasn’t for his seat belt, Kyle would have been rolling around on the floor of the car.  It was one of those gut stretching laughs that caused your body to convulse and the muscles to tighten up, one of those perfect laughs that relaxes you.

I know my words don’t do the story justice and for the life of me I couldn’t remember all the silly comments we both made, but thinking back on it now, it’s still totally hilarious to me!  Guess you had to be there.

I love my little man!  He makes life so much fun and entertaining.  Even a simple car ride turned out to be a memory that I’ve been chuckling about all week.

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!

Below is a video of Kyle, Mr. Shirtless running around my parent’s backyard with our boys, Seven and Scooby.  Two good Labradors!

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

Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt

You have to be burning with “an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out. ~Steve Jobs

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Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt participant from Latrobe, PA 10/19/13

Admittedly, I am very blessed, especially with my job.  Mentioning it a time or two, I own Thrill of the Hunt a product of The Piper Corporation.  I know I’ve talked about Thrill of the Hunt on a number of occasions, but I’ll reiterate.

Thrill of the Hunt is a company that solely develops and administers to theme scavenger hunts.  Yes, this includes birthday parties, business functions, company outings, team building activities and fundraisers, just to name a few.  We also host scavenger hunt events, which are open to the public.  Anyone can purchase a ticket and join others of like interest in a particular city on a scavenger hunt adventure.

Where was I this past weekend?  Annapolis, Maryland, administering to a pet friendly scavenger hunt for Halloween.  Yes, it’s October and my popular Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunts have commenced for the entire month.  I just started these last year, and since the interest was heightened, I decided to expand to include additional cities.

The biggest question I’m asked, “What is a dog scavenger hunt?”  Yes, it may sound odd and no, your dog is not taking the lead on this one to sniff out clues.  It’s a laid back family friendly event.  When I created these scavenger hunts, I wanted something for families to do with their dogs, so both parties could get out and stretch their legs, while exploring the community.   I also wanted to help promote the local businesses, so I started including the shops as part of the actual scavenger hunt.

The next question, “What do I have to do?”  Easy.  First you have to Like Thrill of the Hunt on Facebook or TwitterThrill of the Hunt combines a traditional scavenger hunt with social interaction to create exponential fun and to add another dimension to the game.  Some of our scavenger hunts require you to have a QR reader app for scanning QR Codes to complete online challenges.  Then, all you have to do is figure out the riddles that take you to specific locations in a particular area.  Once you’ve arrived, you get to collect your dog treat or toy and then tackle the online challenge, post it and then move on to the next location.

Since these are dog and family friendly events, it’s not a fight to the finish.  You can treat it as such, but as of now, these dog scavenger hunts are an activity to spend time with your dog and possibly family while taking in the sights and fresh air.

I do conduct other dog scavenger hunts, however the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunts are by far the most popular and certainly the most entertaining.  Dog owners love dressing up their 4-legged friends in costume, as do I!  It’s quite entertaining for everyone involved, although not a requirement.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do other scavenger hunt themes, excluding dogs.  But since these are sometimes so comical, I wanted to share my weekend of fun.

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Nicole & Kyle with Avery a.k.a. Acorn. She’s an angel (riiiigght!) for the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, PA 10/19/13

Kyle is usually my side kick, especially for these dog scavenger hunts, but alas his Aunt Nikki came home and he wanted to spend time with her.  At the very least, Kyle will be joining me for the Latrobe Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in two weeks.    I’m not sure about New Hope, Pennsylvania’s or Alexandria Virginia’s.  Of course, I’m having a hard enough time getting Kyle to keep our database updated and organized.  I guess he’s finding his own interests and they don’t seem to include Thrill of the Hunt.  Maybe that will change and he’ll find a renewed interest in the company.

About the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt

Tickets are on sale now, but are limited.  Purchase your tickets HERE.  We are still accepting local businesses to be on the hunt, at no cost for Alexandria, Virginia.

We are always open to hearing suggestions on scavenger hunt themes and hometowns to bring our events.  Please Suggest An Event, either on our website or email Game@ThrillScavengerHunt.com or fill out the form on the Contact Us page.  I seriously want to hear from you!

Make sure you’re following the hunt on our social sites. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, always using #ThrillofHunt

Remember, everyone needs to … Experience the Game!

 

VOTE

I am also very pleased to mention, Thrill of the Hunt is in the running for a small business grant through Chase Mission Main St. Grants.  Please help us get into the final running by voting.  As of today, we only need 72 more votes and we only have eleven days to do it.  So VOTE Thrill of the Hunt and thank you in advance!

Follow this link–> http://t.co/nE2souOg8J @ChaseSmallBiz @ThrillofHunt ‪#‎ThrillofHunt‬

 

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Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt for Halloween in Latrobe, PA 10/19/13

Read about other scavenger hunt blog posts

Scavenger Hunts – Getting Our Start at Seton Hill University & Continuing
Singles Scavenger Hunt & MELODIME Show
Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt?
WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy In a Day
Scavenger Hunts – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt!
Scavenger Hunt – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt! … Continued

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Dog’s Perspective vs. Reality

All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…I choose love.  ~Johnny Cash

Joel,-Jill-Aunt-Heather-Piper-1980s

Me & Joel with my dog Jill. We were on the swings in our front yard. 1980s

There’s always moments in life that just plain work your nerves.  Sometimes it’s Kyle, my family, work, a trip to the grocery store etc.  This time?  The dogs!

I mostly consider myself a cat person, even though I’ve always had dogs my whole life.  I appreciate those friendly barking beings and I most certainly love our dogs, Scooby and Seven, but they can sometimes be a pain in my bottom.  Both are Labradors, Scooby blond and Seven noir.  In truth, they are a couple of good dogs and I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but it would be nice to have a babysitter on speed dial, especially when their corks are heightened.

There are so many good things I can say about them and really mean it, like they are friendly (at least Scooby is with us), somewhat well-behaved (at least Seven is with me) and they are full of love (only Scooby with us, Seven loves playing with the neighbor dogs and kids).  But then they have their hiccups too, so let me vent for a moment or two or three.

I’m sure my perspective is off slightly, since I’ve also been watching Nicole’s dog, Avery.  I’ve had her for two weeks now and I still have another week to go.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.  I just found out Nicole may need to go out of town for work again, then after that out of the country for a month.  Guess where that leaves me?  Yep with a third dog.  When did I become the dog whisperer?  I’m going to have to add dog wrangler to my resume.

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My pap with his dog Pudge. 1970s

Avery’s a Rottweiler, pit bull, Doberman mix. (Something like that).  She’s a little over a year old, so she’s still a puppy.  A very vocal annoying puppy.  Nicole took her to be professionally trained by those who actually train dogs for the CIA and such.  Acorn (as I like to call her) knows how to listen and be good, but like all puppies (or kids) they know how to push major buttons.  Avery’s major malfunction?  She is constantly barking and whining, for no apparent reason and she chases my cat.  Major no!

I’m sure having Avery here with Seven and Scooby has caused everyone to be off his or her game.  Regardless, I’m going to speak freely about those actions that irritate me the most, mostly about Scooby and Seven.

There is the obvious, every time I go to lace up my shoes I get bombarded.  Both dogs instantly jump up, start panting and breathing heavy in my face, with their noses not even two inches from mine.  I can’t even get through their bodies to put my shoes on.  They believe every time, and I mean EVERY time I put on a pair of shoes, it’s so I can take them for a walk or a hike in the woods.  No!  I am not your personal walker!

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Seven & Storm (a.k.a. Lady Fluffington) Storm loves Seven! Seven could care less. Picking grapes…. 2013

They used to only do this when I would put on a specific pair of tennis shoes, the ones I walk them in, but somewhere they decided any shoe will do.  Then, they  jump around barking and crying in excitement, LOUDLY.  I can almost handle that, ALMOST.  Until they start knocking things over and jumping on my feet.  Let’s face it, a couple of nearly ninety pound Labs jumping in a small space leads to disaster, whether they are happy or not.  Unfortunately now-a-days, they get in my face even if I’m putting on a pair of stiletto heels.  Come on guys, I’ll let you know when it’s walk time!  Sad part?  They taught Avery to do the same!

Then, when I try to build the trust and give them some freedom to roam around outside in the yard, they all of a sudden disappear.  Even if I’m watching and simply take my eyes off of the hounds for a moment.  A SPIT SECOND!  They take off for the woods for a four or five hour plus, walkabout.  Forget it if they are spotted making their great escape.  Once they’re at a certain distance away, I swear they give me the middle finger and continue on their journey, only to find them on the porch hours later, totally muddy, panting and exhausted.

I will admit, I am relieved when they return, I’ve been through Dog Gone and Dog Gone Irony!  It’s also a great outcome upon closer inspection and they return with no signs of porcupine quills stuck in their noses or obvious injuries.  But seriously, what is wrong with them?  It’s not like they don’t get walks.  Does it have to be when they decide they want exercise?  Frustrating!

Moving on to the next pet peeve.  I like how every time I don’t have the door to the bathroom shut completely, they feel it’s their right to barge in, leaving the door hanging wide open!  Naturally, you are not able to get up and shut it at that particular moment.  So you sit there, with the door flapping in the breeze and a dog starring you squarely in the eyes and breathing in your face.  Love that!

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Scooby (blond), Seven (black) & Avery (annoying) out for a walk. The boys are old hands at it, so no need for a lease when running through the woods. 2013

While we’re on the topic of bathrooms, let’s continue.  Our dogs believe the rug in the bathroom is another bed for them to hang out on, again while you are doing your business.  Now since that is their self proclaimed, temporary bedding area, it’s always covered in dog hair, ALL THE TIME.  Then, every time I get out of the shower and my wet feet hit the area of cushion, I look down to find hairy hobbit feet where mine used to be.  Gross!  It’s not like I leave the rugs go for a month to be washed.  In fact, before I wash the hair catchers, I have to take them outside to give them a good shake first.  YIKES!

That’s the one time I can get a break from the dogs, when I’m in the shower.  They are terrified of water.  Funny, right?  Labradors who are afraid of water.  Yep, they hate baths!  They don’t even really enjoy doing their business in the rain.   Scooby will hold it until he’s ready to burst like a rain cloud, which is ironic, because my cat loves to hang out while I’m showering.  She’ll sit on the toilet (with the lid down) and stare in my direction.  She’s also the one who will go outside and walk around in the rain.  Comical!

Usually our Labradors are pretty good when it comes to their own bathroom time.  Usually, they try and go in the weeds or closer to the woods, keeping their piles of business out of direct line of my foot when I’m walking in the yard.  However, when we have to babysit my sister’s dog, who thinks it’s her right to crap next to the deck or by the front steps, things start to change.  The other day, I was getting the boat ready to go fishing Catfish Hunter and low and behold what did I step in?  Avery crap!  Which is not petite in the slightest.  I was beyond livid.  That’s the one thing that totally grosses me out and I can’t stand.

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Seven riding along in a car, he always gets the back seat, when Scooby gets the front. 2013

It’s very true I can do what every other American does and go out and clean up the crap to avoid such matters.  But then again, that’s the perk about living in the country.  We have the woods for them to do their business without clean up time and I don’t have to leash the dogs to take them for walks.  They are able to run free in the woods, which makes everyone very happy.

Going back to my previous thought, why is it when dogs actually have a good habit, it’s automatically turned to the dark side when the bad example is set by another dog?  Couldn’t the dog with the bad habit learn good?  Nope!  I guess the force is strong with Avery because when she visits, our dogs find it a need to crap closer to the house, apparently to show who has the bigger pile.

On a side note, I noticed my cat has been meowing to go outside, and now sometimes she uses the restroom near the dogs’ areas.  Nice!  I’m liking that Storm! a.k.a. Lady Fluffington.

Next item up for discussion, the kitchen.  I don’t particularly like cooking with dogs in the kitchen, not only because they always get in my way and are constantly begging, but because … well that’s usually it.  And the fact that their hair just flies through the air with the greatest of ease.  I can’t control where it lands.  Another gross!

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Scooby always takes shotgun, sometimes when someone else is in the car. 2013

How is it, when you say ‘Move!  Get out of my way?’ they instantly align perfectly centered with your body and stay a half a paw in front of you, so you’re walking on their heels?  This talent is particularly evident when I have a hot pan in my hand walking away from the oven.  Same goes for a pot that is too full and I’m rushing to the counter to only have a dog or two, instantly appear out of nowhere to trip me up.  Dangerous for all parties involved!  Stop that!

On the opposite note, my dogs insist on walking on my heels, literally.  When I’m wearing flip flops, that’s when I notice it the most.  Of course, there have been several occasions when I nearly shot myself forward due to a paw tramping down at the back of my shoe.

Personally, I never said it was acceptable to walk past me while I’m wearing shorts and lick my leg either!  Or when I’m lying on the couch and the tongue drags (usually Avery) across the bottom of my foot. Double gross!  This ambush is effective when I’m carrying groceries and I don’t have a hand to push them away, or worse wipe the spit from my leg, allowing it to just dry there as a reminder I need to jump in the shower and scrub.

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-washing-Avery-6-28-14

Me & Kyle washing Avery.. no this was not pre-approved by Aunt Nikki! 6/28/14

Again, I do like dogs, but I’ve never been a fan of dog kisses, licks or slobber, whatever you want to call it.  My old dog Jill, who was part Colly and part Coonhound, was the best!  Instead of lapping up my face with her tongue, she would do the gesture without ever making contact.  It was the thought that counted and I appreciated her for that.

However, when the dogs are fast asleep, they are pretty peaceful and worth it.  Especially when I’m having a bad day.  Even worth the effort to coddle Scooby when it’s storming out.  He is frightened of thunder and lighting (which is funny because that’s Scooby and Seven’s nicknames respectively) and he’s too fat to fit under the bed.  It is worth it when Seven cuddle’s up to me at night and it’s definitely worth it when I bring my sidekicks along for hikes.  Yep, I guess the dogs are alright, even Avery.  Well, Avery in small does.  They are apart of the family.

 

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