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


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.


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. 


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.


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.









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

Thanks Dancing Dog Natural Market!

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


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: and follow them on Facebook:

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.


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:  In the meantime, please check out their Facebook page:  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!


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, 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  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

A Near Fatal Mistake

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


Storm sleeping… not very ladylike. c. 2012

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

Playing As Kids – Car Chasing

Compassion is the basis of morality.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer


Ryan holding Jill, our 1st family dog, on our front porch. She was part collie & part coonhound. She was named Jill after our cousins’ dog, Jack c.1984

As I’ve mentioned before in Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling, as these crazy stupid memories of entertainment come rushing back to me from my childhood, I will record them in a blog entry for Kyle’s later enjoyment.

Two weekends ago we had the dogs out and about since it reached forty degrees, before the anticipated winter blast from the northwest rolled in.  My mom decided to take the boys for a ride, their favorite activity after eating and sleeping that is.  While mom drove them up and down the road, it reminded me of another stupid/fun activity we invented.

What was this crazy pastime?  From the blog title one might assume we acted like dogs and literally chased cars.  Not exactly.  Let me first explain about my first dog, Jill.  She was named Jill because my cousin’s, who lived down the road from us, had a dog named Jack.  We thought it was humorous to say Jack and Jill (went up the hill to fetch a pail of water…).  Anyway, we received our beloved Jill for Christmas one year, circa 1981.  I was about six or seven years old in the first grade, Nicole the third and Ryan wasn’t in school yet, going into kindergarten the following year.


Jill enjoying the fall foliage under the grape harbor. 1980s

We had mom’s dog Baby in the house, but Jill was our very own dog, our first one.  The dog we were suppose to share among the three of us, and we did.  Jill was a beautiful mix of Coonhound and Collie.  Basically, she was a blond collie with black fur outlining her features, especially around her ears and eyes.  To us as little kids, she was a huge dog, but in reality she was a medium to large size dog, with a few extra pounds, as many of the Piper dogs sport.

Jill had this bump on the top of her head where her skull came to a point.  In my eyes as a youngster, that meant she was really smart.  Let me tell you, she wasn’t stupid in the slightest.

Jill loved all of us kids, cousins included.  Never, ever, did she nip or snap at us, even when we’d lay on her, chase her around, give her baths, cut her hair and all the basic things kids would do to a dog they adored.  She followed us everywhere, for bike rides, running through the woods, and she’d stay on the porch at my cousin Casey’s (and the crew) while we played in the yard.  Yep, Jill was the best dog who lived.  She stayed with us for a good long while, until I was out of high school sometime.  (Scooby and Seven are pretty good too!)  Jill even hung with Ryan’s dog Jake for many years, but she never got to meet my late cat Pudd’in, but she did have friends who were cats.

Jill LOVED car rides too, like all of our dogs after her.  (Mom’s dog Baby, Jill’s predecessor hated car rides).  Naturally as little kids we couldn’t exactly take the car out for a spin to fulfill her adventurous wish, so I got creative one day.


A close-up of our beloved Jill. Part collie & part coonhound, she was one of a kind! 1980s

How could a kid roughly ten years old at this point, satisfy the dog’s hunger to feel the wind in her ears and feed her wild side?  Simple.  We acted it out.  I remember this day all too well, probably because it was seriously the silliest thing we’ve done, or close to it, to date.

It started with a beautiful sunny Sunday.  I remembered coming home from church and changing into my play cloths.  Since it wasn’t too hot, I would peg the season to be spring.  These crazy adventures always  started with Ryan and me looking for some trouble to get into.

Opening the door to the car, we thought it was all too funny Jill jumped in and sat down, thinking she was going for a ride.  That’s when I felt terrible for misleading her.  Knowing, mom and dad had no plans of getting in the car and taking her for a ride, I improvised.

I had an idea!  Instructing Ryan to get in the driver’s side and act like he was driving, I stood beside the car and ran back and forth to simulate motion.  Thinking back on this situation now, I truly laugh at that sight!  Ryan really got into it too.  He was motioning like he was shifting gears (mom’s car was a manual transmission) and making loud engine noises.

We even wound down the windows, while Jill sat in the backseat with her head hanging out like she was cruising along.  It even became a race, once Ryan would “rev up the engine” I would run slower behind the back passenger door, like the car was passing me.  Then Ryan would act like he was slowing down, taking that as my cue to speed up to be parallel to the hood of the car, never going too far in either direction.


Ryan, me & Nicole in the living room. Yes I believe we were fighting over the baton c. 1983

Oh but that was not all!  Ryan turned over the key to get juice to the car without turning on the engine, putting it in accessory mode.  With the electrical components working we were able to add to our quasi driving experience.  Ryan turned on the radio to give me some running music, and him and Jill some driving tunes.  We even thought it was funny to blast the music.  Sometimes Ryan would switch on the windshield wipers.  Great idea until he hit me with over spray with the windshield wiper fluid, although that caused giggles to erupt from both parties.  I bet Jill thought we were a bunch of idiots.  Yet I know she appreciated our sense of humor and our passion for having fun.

Nicole must have heard our ruckus and decided to investigate, finding this unusual behavior exciting.  Being so wrapped up in our activity, all we heard echoing from the porch was “What are you guys doing?” in that same authoritative brush voice of hers that still rings true today.

Would you believe even Nicole got in the car, granted she wouldn’t take turns like Ryan and me running beside the car, but she would sit and pretend to be a passenger or drive.

We were out there for hours, doing the same thing, that is until mom checked in on us and realized we’ve been draining her car battery.  That ended electronic entertainment but the car fun continued.

Eventually, we had to come in for dinner.  Jill jumped out of the car with such enthusiasm and satisfaction it made us all happy.  She loved playing with us, even though the car never left its spot.

Using the imagination is the best way to play!  At least Jill thought so.

Read About Our Other Activities

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling


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

Back To Routine – Dogs Daily Hike

Sunny day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet  ~Joe Raposo


Seven sporting his broken leg, taking a break in the grass 9/13

This past September, the 28th to be exact, I arrived at my mom and dad’s house to find Seven slightly different.  What was this change?  His injured leg.  What happened?  Seven broke his leg!

Over the years, we’ve never experience a dog with a broken leg, ever!  I mean dogs meet porcupines, yes.  Dogs meet skunks, yes.  Dogs even get too much exercise and have sore muscles for a few days, sure, but a broken leg?

Evidently, Seven and Scooby got away from mom and they headed straight for the neighbors dog, Thor.  Yes Thor, he’s a really friendly German Shepperd pup.  Knowing our dogs, the mad dash for Scooby meant he wanted to bully the dog.  The mad dash for Seven meant he wanted another friend to play with.  Either way, our boys, mostly Scooby, do what they want, when they want, even if mom is standing on the porch yelling at the dogs to listen (my cousins down the road can hear mom yelling, no joke!) and they simply choose to do what they feel like.  Both dogs, Thunder and Lightening as I like to refer to them, headed down the driveway and onto the road, till they reached the neighbors driveway before making their way back.


Seven even mastered running with his cast. He was a good sport. 9/13

Mom said Scooby trotted up the driveway all proud of himself, wagging his tail like he did something admirable.  Now, Seven on the other hand didn’t come back right away.  That’s not normal behavior, at all.  Seven is faster than Scooby and Seven likes to run around like a puppy.  Not to mention, he’s the one out of the two that semi-listens.  Mom called for Scooby’s sidekick and eventually he came into her line of vision, limping along the way.  What happened?

Her and dad looked it over and they guessed it was broken, but couldn’t verify.  Being later in the evening on a Friday night, there wasn’t a whole lot my parents could do for the dog, so poor Seven had to go to bed and try and rest.  Mom informed me he laid in the extra bed, the one I usually sleep in when I stay there, and whimpered all night.  Poor Seven was in pain!


Seven walked around with is broke leg & cast pretty good. Nice tongue shot! 9/13

By the next morning, they could see an area on his leg that was swollen and Seven couldn’t put any weight on the injured limb.  By the time, I got there, mom had already taken Seven to the Vet’s office.  After a few X-rays, low and behold, one broken right leg.

The Vet’s office was praising Seven’s behavior, being mild tempered and a real trooper.  I was proud of him.  I mean, a bunch of strangers poking and prodding, being held in a strange place, all while in pain.  Seven even let them move him around to get proper angles under the X-ray machine and never said a peep.  Once they were done with him, mom and Seven headed home with my buddy sporting a cast.

On a side note, Kyle and I felt really bad for Seven, although we were both excited to sign his cast, just like I was in high school again.


Seven gradually started to put weight on his cast. Poor broken puppy! 9/13

Seven eventually became very efficient at walking and then running around with three legs.  Soon he started to put some pressure on the cast and use it like normal.  Well, nothing about the situation was normal.  Not being mean, but it was funny watching him walk stiff legged and dragging that cast around.  Sometimes, we would bust out laughing at him walking on the cast and the ticking sound he would make on the hard wood floor.  I know mean, but Seven took us in strides, knowing it was a humorous situation.

The only part that put us all in danger, was when he became too comfortable with the cast.  He felt the need to be his old normal self, and would try and jump up in our laps, which resulted in him jabbing us in the gut with the stiff leg.  That hurt!  He even whacked me across the face a few times trying to get in my lap so I could hold him.  The worst came, when Seven was trying to jump around with excitement as all Labs like to, and he brought his cast to meet my shin.  Half hurting and half laughing I said, “O, he clubbed me!  He clubbed me!  Man down, man down.”  Kyle and I got a kick out of that one.  In all seriousness, he did bruise my shin pretty good, yet I know he didn’t mean to.


Seven & Scooby walking on the road. Seven’s broken leg is all healed up! 10/13

As time was healing our broken dog, the vet told us to take the cast off and let Seven continue to apply weight as he could.  He was still not allowed to run around and believe it or not, Seven was not allowed in bed.  I think the later really upset him, but we wanted him to heal up without causing additional pain to our little doggie so we held tight to that rule.  I had to cut off the darn, dirty, stinky cast.  That  melted my heart.  The further I continued to cut away at the cast, I started seeing signs of distress.  Seven rubbed the back of his leg raw from itching and there was a lot of dried blood.  Poor Seven!  At least with the cast off, it wasn’t so itchy and now the air got to his fur, giving him some comfort.

Eventually, Seven was walking around pretty good.  I was not allowed to take the dogs for our usual daily hikes until Thanksgiving, which I was going to do after I came back from running in the Turkey Trot in Latrobe and after we ate Thanksgiving dinner, except the dogs took it upon themselves to go for an unapproved walk for a couple of hours in the woods.  By that Monday, it was hunting season, so no walks in the woods for two weeks.  After that, it seemed like the holidays always consumed the days, then it was raining all the time and then we moved into those few subzero days.  I couldn’t take the boys out in those conditions!  That is until last Friday.  Yep, me, Seven and Scooby headed back up to our path for a three mile hike, round trip.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the mid-day break to stretch out our legs.  I quite enjoyed watching the dogs jump around in the woods.  They were truly happy!  Can’t wait for our walk today!

Seven’s leg seems to still bother him every now-and-again, especially in the cold, but he’s doing much better.  What exactly happened to him?  No one knows.  He could have stepped wrong along the side of the road, or stepped into a pothole (Pennsylvania is famous for those) or twisted his foot wrong.  Who knows, but he survived and is still recovering nicely.

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

Smallest Moments, Mean the Most

The true genius shudders at incompleteness – and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.  ~Edgar Allen Poe


Kyle taking a break from picking grapes… making grape jelly. 9/2/13

A part of loving a child, is really appreciating them for their humor, reasoning, intellect, innocence and for those unplanned, unexplained small moments that really bond adult and child.  At least that’s my opinion.  I mean there are many many more parts to loving a child like discipline, teaching respect, education and so on and so forth.  But if you don’t truly appreciate them for who they are, then there’s a part missing, because like I said, it’s a PART of loving a child.

I love all aspects, well maybe not the disciplining them, but it goes with the territory.  Recently, the small moments part really revealed itself to me through Kyle.  My last blog touched on it, Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond, but there’s been more!  I’m sure these small moments happen at a higher rate than I can see them.  Let’s face it with running around checking off my task list and getting caught up in the pace of the day, I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’m aware.  In my eyes, that’s fine as long as I catch and glimpse every now and again.


Storm had a blast playing with us while we picked grapes! 9/2/13

Last Sunday Kyle was at my house, winding down for the day.  Lately, I’ve been struggling with Kyle regarding his reading.  He loves to read, but this summer he hasn’t found much interest to get lost in the books.  Now that school has started up, I thought he would get back to his routine and pick up where he left off.  Nope.  At least not just yet.

While sitting in the living-room Kyle got up and walked over to one of my bookshelves to examine the spines of the books.  Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s nothing like the feel and the smell of an actual book, where you can turn the pages, makes notes in the margins, smudge up the pages with food and drink to later rediscover yours or someone’s past.  There’s nothing wrong with digital books, I think they are great for traveling and such, but I still have an affinity for the real deal.  The words on my pages and cover design will never change, unlike its digital sister.


Storm getting ready to climb the grape harbor…Kyle was picking grapes to the left. 9/2/13

Anyway, Kyle started to read the titles and question me about them.  He saw the Mortal Instrument series and stopped and noted The City of Bones.  We just saw that movie and now his interest was peeked, asking me which books are good.  I love going through my past reads, introducing my old friends to my nephew.  Then, he stopped at The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  For some reason over the years those books keep catching his eye.  They are the old plain covers with a small symbol on each in muted solid colors.  Nothing flashy, yet intriguing to him.  Personally, I loved those books, immensely and I told Kyle so.  Of course, I had to sadly inform him they are more adult oriented and very violent, but really good reads.  He just nodded and continued perusing, until he came on an old book with a red cover entitle Works of Edgar Allen Poe.


Kyle reaching to pick the grapes.. thinking grape jelly! 9/2/13

I’ve never seen another book with this cover, in fact I know it used to be a part of a larger collection of classic writers, but I have no idea what happened to the rest of the compilation.  Somehow Mr. Poe has been following me over the years, hanging out on my bookshelf.  It contains short stories, poems and essays.  I’ve read through the entire book several times, but I can’t say in the past decade.  During high school and college I would pull out stories and poems for a class project, but I haven’t sat and enjoyed his works in quite some time.

With a huge smile, I introduced Kyle to Edgar Allen Poe.  I said, “Here buddy let me read you a few poems.  Gigi used to read some of them to me when I was little and I loved them!”  I opened up the aged pages and the first poem I saw was The Raven.  Every time I think of that poem, the move The Crow starring Brandon Lee, the son of the famous Bruce Lee, comes to mind.  Recapping the movie to Kyle, I dove right into the poem, since he didn’t seem to have a clue what I was talking about, nor did he care.  When reading poetry, it’s so much fun to keep the rhythm and enunciate the words with gusto, to truly paint the picture.  I must say I am pretty good at it, at least enough to capture some of Kyle’s attention.


Seven & Storm hanging out under the grape harbor. 9/2/13

After The Raven I moved onto mom’s favorite, Bells.  Kyle listened, but I could tell he wasn’t too into it.  He even said, “All I heard out of that was Bells.  Bells, bells, bells, the ringing of the bells.”  I laughed and said, “See!  You enjoyed it and even started to memorize it!”  I must say I was quite entertained and was loving the time, maybe not as much as Kyle, but I do believe he will remember it, just like I remember the first time I was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe.

I think I really lost him sometime around A Dream Within A Dream.  Asking Kyle if I could read him a short story, he quickly said “No!”.  I was really getting into this walk down memory lane and reading to Kyle once again.  So that was a major disappointment.  I’m not sure if it was the way I was projecting the poems, the idea of poetry or if the kind-of-creepy content threw Kyle over the edge.  Yes, Bells is rather upbeat and cheery, yet it has the creepy dead thing about the content.  Kyle hates suspense, thrillers or anything remotely scarey and disturbing.  I’m sure he picked up on it, especially from The Raven.  Note to self, maybe I should pick another classic to introduce to Kyle.  Regardless, I enjoyed our small moments of togetherness and having the opportunity to read to Kyle again.

Putting the book aside to turn on the stove, Kyle and I had a great time on Labor Day making grape jelly.  It was the day after we got back from our New York trip, What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand and What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand … Continued.  Before we left, dad mentioned the grapes were ready to pick.  So on Monday, Kyle had it in his head that he wanted to pick grapes.  Not really on my list of desirableness, but I thought what the heck, I was just sitting around anyway.


Storm kept pouncing on our hands while we picked the grapes. 9/2/13

We actually had a great time.  It was nice and peaceful, except the two of us chit chatting occasionally.  Seven and Scooby came out to join us and run around, as did Storm.  She had a blast, running up and down the grape harbor, creeping among the leaves to pounce on our hands as we reached for grape bunches above our heads.  It turned out to be a nice time full of accomplishments.  We ended up with five or six brown grocery bags full of grapes.

Now what to do with them?  Initially, Kyle wanted to make grape juice, except we still had grape juice from years ago we never drank.  So we agreed upon grape jelly.  We only made a few batches and gave the rest of the grapes to my cousin Karen for her crew to use up.

It was a fun day in the kitchen, even though my mom would probably disagree.  I love knowing that Kyle is exposed to traditions, especially canning.  He was even getting creative by substituting the sugar for honey.   He was very proud of himself, as was I.  It turned out to be another unplanned time to bond, and for that I am very thankful and blessed.

You can’t plan these small moments, just realize when they are present and soak them up like the sun, for they’ll disappear before you know it, like grape jelly.

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

Dog Gone Irony!

My little dog
a heart-beat
at my feet  ~Edith Wharton

Missing-Dog-Poster-Aunt-Heather-PiperThey always say when it rains it pours.  Sometimes that’s the case, it certainly was this past weekend, starting Friday morning.

Let me set the stage.  I’ve been developing and organizing the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt all month, getting ready to launch our first Thrill of the Hunt scavenger hunt event in Shadyside.  So if you can image, there’s a lot of details and last minute items that need addressed.  All week I was unable to take the dogs, Scooby and Seven, for their daily three mile hike.  That’s my normal lunch break now-a-days.  Plus, keep in mind, Kyle was at his Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College.  My lunches were consumed with Kyle, going to pick him up, getting him lunch and taking him back for his afternoon sessions.  Then, the rest of my day and evenings, I was consumed with plugging away at the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt.  Busy, busy, busy week.

Then, Friday morning rolled around.  Naturally, I was up early with my head in my work, trying to wrap some items up before having to drop Kyle off at his Lego Camp.  I knew I had to make a trip to Shadyside and meet with the participating business owners before the work day ended, and I had to send brochures to the printers, pick them up and assemble all the Thrill of the Hunt bags for the participants before the day came to a close.  Needless to say, there was a lot on my mind and I was completely pre-occupied.  I’m not making excuses, just outlining the events of the day.

Roughly around 7:00 am, mom emailed me telling me to change Seven’s tracker, the battery was really low.  We use Tagg, which is a great service for tracking our freedom seeking dogs.  Only keeping a tracker on Seven, we’ve found that the buddies travel together so no need to weigh Scooby down.  My response to mom’s email?  “I don’t have time and I’m not planning on taking the dogs for a walk today, I have too much to do!”  Mistake number one!  Then around 7:30 am, Kyle was playing with my cat, Storm, on the porch and he had the front door wide open, without putting up the baby gate.  I was also going back and forth to my car loading it up with needed Thrill of the Hunt paraphernalia.

Then by 8:00 am, we both noticed we were two dogs short!  Around that time, I had to hurry up and update the Piper Reunion postcard and send it to press, since that was sneaking up on us; my friend Holly wanted to run hills and was calling; and mom called to ask me to bring her a large bowl to work.   Yikes!  Too much to do!  Not to mention I had to get Kyle over to his last day of Lego camp by 8:30 am and now the boys are missing.


Seven & Scooby getting some rest after the rescue mission was a success! Poor Seven still had those porcupine quills in his face. Tired pups after 3 days missing. 6/30/13

Right around this very hectic time, mom emailed me giving me the update on the already known missing dogs.  She saw his last check-in was in Ridilliatown, not far from our house, but his tracker died so we really had no idea where their actual whereabouts were.  My response?  They’ll come back.  Did I mention this was when I was in route, between Saint Vincent, to Latrobe and mom’s work?

You see the dogs have a track record of taking off, running through the woods for a few hours and then making their way back home after they are good and tired and completely muddy (Dog Gone).  So who would have thought they would have deviated off of the norm?  Certainly none of us did!  In fact, we thought they would show up on the porch before dark, ready to sit out there punishment under the kitchen table.  That’s were they go when they’re in trouble.  The thinner, crappy doggie beds reside under there, making them really suffer their punishments out. (sarcasm)

Well, needless to say nightfall came and left and no signs of the dogs!  I woke up Saturday morning around 5:00 am to get ready for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt to find the house still a little empty.  I hate to say it, but when I talked to mom, who incidentally slept on the couch so she could hear are late night arrivals, I said, “I bet someone shot them!”  Mom agreed.  I know what a horrible thought!  I didn’t say I wanted that to happen, I was just trying to be realistic and prepare myself for the worst.  That’s what happened to my cousin’s dog when we were little, it was terrible!  Jack the dog, came back with half of his jaw shot off!

Speaking of shooting dogs.  That might sound like an over active imagination and not a present day reality, guess again!  When we were going around to the local neighbors where the dogs were once spotted, a lady told us that someone in Youngstown, near Latrobe Pennsylvania is known to shoot stray dogs.  She said they shot one before and wounded another!  Can you believe it?  I understand dog owners have to be in control of their dog at all times, but come on, things happen.  There is no reason to shoot a dog!  Maybe if it was bringing direct harm to another animal or person, sure for self defense, but just because they are loose and running around?  Even if they were on your property, shoo them away!  Don’t just shoot them!  What is wrong with some people?  Apparently, they have no heart and we need to say prayers for them.

Wishing I could have stayed to help with the rescue mission Saturday morning, Kyle and I headed into Pittsburgh for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt.  Before I left I had time to make a missing poster and I distributed it to my social sites far and wide.  While we were in Shadyside, the irony of the situation hit me!  I was running a scavenger hunt for dogs, when ours ran away and were lost, called Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt.  Not funny at the time, but has brought new humor.


My poor Seven. Did he put his face directly up a porcupine’s butt? At least he’s home! 6/30/13

The scavenger hunt went really smoothly and was well received by all the participants and business owners.  During the hunt, besides reaching out to our participants via social sites along with my sister, we were  also helping to spread the word, on our very own missing four legged pals.  I was taking calls, and checking Facebook, keeping in touch with my friend Tree who was following up on leads and touching base with my family.  Talk about a lot going on!

As soon as I got back to the area, I joined the search and rescue team.  Getting in the car with mom, we rechecked the the last areas the dogs were spotted, and a few areas we thought they might have gone through.  What made this so difficult was the location of our runaways.  They were running through mostly woods, even worse, mostly unfamiliar woods to me, making their appearance every now-and-again near someones house or a main road.  Even though it was extremely frustrating, each report brought a bit of hope.  At the start of this all, the last place we knew the dogs were located in Ridilliatown, early Friday morning.  Keep in mind it is now Saturday afternoon.

The sightings included:  Someone saw them together off of route 30 near Sleepy Hallow at 6:00 pm on Friday.  Someone saw them near Kingston on Friday around 5:30 pm.  Someone almost hit them with their car off of route 30 near Ligonier around 6:30 pm on Friday.  What?  How did they make it that far coming from Youngstown?

Well, later on Sunday when I hiked the woods in that area, I found out it didn’t take me long to cross the ridges through the woods, only traveling about four miles.  Piece of cake for a couple of four legged travelers.

Then God gave us another bit of hope, Dave Planinsek saw them off his property Saturday morning around 6:15 am.  Great!  They made the night.  He did say it looked like the black one, Seven was foaming at the mouth.  That would explain why the others who spotted our pups said the one looked like he had porcupine quills in his mouth.  My poor Seven!

Seven-with-porcupine-quills-6-30-13 Aunt Heather Piper

Seven in the car after we found him, he was lost for 3 days & apparently met a porcupine on the his travels. 6/30/13

Saturday night was fast approaching and nothing, no sign, no word.  I even walked back in unfamiliar woods of Sugarbush, calling the entire mile in and mile out.  Once darkness completely took away my sense of sight, I reluctantly left the woods.  I will admit, it was pitch black and I had about three quarters of a mile to go just to get out of the woods and meet up with dad, who was on the quad.

We arrived at my parents house Saturday night, feeling completely defeated!  Especially knowing the dogs were going to have to spend another night in the woods and knowing that Seven was hurt and possibly Scooby.

That did it!  I had a new game plan.  I woke up early Sunday morning, we went to church the night before because Kyle had to serve mass, and packed my book bag.  I was going to hike all the woods in the area to try and find them.  Our logic, since no one had seen them since Saturday morning, they were hanging out in the woods.  They were injured, tired, hungry, scared and lost.

I packed up my .22 pistol, some food and water, first aide kit and a few other essentials.  I made sure my phone was completely charged so I could check my location on my GPS.  Mom was nervous since I have a track record of getting lost, (Directionally Challenged) but I had no qualms about walking around the woods.  I knew I’d pop out somewhere.  To play it safe, as long as my phone was on, Kyle could find me on Find Friends apps.  Not to mention I was using my RunKeeper app, which Tree and mom had my login information to track my last checked in status.

Breaking some of my RunKeeper records I continued on foot, while dad was on the quad and mom and Kyle were in the car driving around and checking with neighbors and putting up more posters.

This went on for hours on Sunday, it seemed like a lifetime.  When I would make my way to a main road, I would have mom and Kyle come and get me, to drop me off closer to start again.  By Sunday at 1:30 pm, I was with mom and Kyle in the car.  We decided to call dad to see how his progress was going.  When mom was talking to dad trying to outline our next plan of attack, possibly take a break for the time being, dad spotted Scooby!  We were in complete shock!  He called Scooby, and after Scooby recognized dad, he came running over to the quad, leaping up in his lap.  All dad was saying was, “Bring the car around and get him!”  I said, “Where are you?”  His vague reply was, “By the woods.”  Really?  Is this a joke?  “What woods?” I said.  Again, vaguely dad replied, “The ones we were by last night.”  Really?  Again, we were all over the ridge on Saturday.


Scooby just woke up from hours of sleep after being lost for 3 days. He was looking for his buddy who still was not found at this point. 6/30/13

Trying to get dad’s exact location proved to be as difficult as trying to find the dogs because he just wanted to talk to Scooby.  He was even asking our blond pal where his pal Seven was.

Once we picked up Scooby, who had a few porcupine quills in his face, that I plucked out, Scooby fell asleep in the car on the way home.  Then back we went to track down number two doggie delinquent.  Apparently, the one house saw them, just before dad got to their house while he was on the quad, and they tried to call the dogs over.  Scooby came to our good Samaritans, (to my complete surprise)  but Seven was scared and took off (even more of a shock, I thought the opposite).  Now for the first time in days, the dogs are separated.

We looked and looked, to no avail.  Finally, as we were ready to make another pass at the ridge in the car, we got a call from the same house who found Scooby.  Seven was in their yard!  Mom drove like lightening to get there.  Once I saw my obviously distraught, disoriented and in pain pup, I welcomed him with open arms.  He reluctantly came to me, but eventually made his way into the car, for our ride home.

Seven and Scooby are safe back home!  Seven spent Monday at the vets getting those darn porcupine needles out of his face.  I was going to try and remove them like I did once for Scooby (Scooby Meets a Porcupine), but Scooby’s weren’t in for three days.  Seven was also really dehydrated and starving.  I thought it be best to wait out the night and take Seven to the vet first thing in the am.  They weighed him and it seems he lost nearly ten pounds!  Poor pup couldn’t eat or drink or even sleep for that matter, for three days.

Missing-Dog-Poster-Found-Aunt-Heather-Piper.psdThe boys were gone from Friday at 7:30 am and Scooby was brought home around Sunday at 2:00 pm, while Seven didn’t make it home till Sunday at 8:00 pm.  He also had to endure another night with the quills in his face before we could take him to the vet on Monday at 8:30 am.  He’s still not quite himself, but he is coming around, at least physically.  Scooby’s really stiff and his paw is proving to be hard to walk on, but he bounced right back.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to call in the sightings of the dogs, and those that tried to help completely strange dogs and unknowns owners!   Your efforts made the world of difference!

While everyone was extremely helpful, I want to give a big thanks to specific people.  One being my friend Tree.  She gave me all the updates of the reported sightings, posted on Action for Animals Facebook, responded back to posts and inquiries, tracked me as I walked through the woods so I didn’t get lost, sent us phone numbers and helped to remind me to keep the faith and reach out to my inner Wonder Woman!  Thanks Tree, you rock!  She was saying prayers and asking for Saint Francis and Saint Anthony to pray for us too.  Then there was mom’s friend Mary, who called all the police departments, local and state and reached out to specific key individuals in the area to spread the word and retrieve updates.  All of the Planinsek’s were most certainly helpful and patient with us driving around their property yelling for our delinquents, and walking and driving our quad through their woods.  The Seminsky’s went out riding around looking for beasts.  Renee Yazvec Hall’s husband and son drove around after seeing the posts on Renee’s Facebook page.  They also offered their services if we needed them, and truly meant it!  And not to mention the fellows from Frowen’s garage went looking with trucks and quads.  Thanks everyone, and those who I did not mention, some taking it upon yourselves to make calls and assist.  Thank you!

Although everyone in the surrounding areas were more than helpful, a big kudos goes to PJ Self and his family.  That young man, saw the dogs and let us know.  Then joined our rescue team on foot and ran through the woods and made a huge circle to look for Seven.  He actually ran.  Seriously, I mean he actually ran!  He even kicked up some deer, I saw them leaping like gazelles through Steiner’s field, while PJ ran along the tree line, miles from his house!  We never asked, he just wanted to help out.  Thank you so very  much!

Thinking about it now, I wonder if our boys learned a lesson?  Somehow I doubt it!  But for now they are safe and sound!

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

Home Away From Home – Parker Dam

Home is where the heart is.  ~Pliny the Elder


Mom, Kyle & dad are packed & heading to Parker Dam. The boys (Seven & Scooby) are in the back. 6/13/13

Making another voyage to Parker Dam this past weekend, proved to be as nice of a time, as our other trips.  It was funny though, for some reason I really payed attention to my neighbors.  First, I’d like to explain that we always camp in the area approved for dogs.  Our favorite spot is lot number 90.  A nice little section out of the way, just outside the woods and near the restrooms and not far from the showers.

On Saturday, when Kyle and I were coming back from the Parker Dam beach, while riding my bike waiting for Kyle to drop his attitude and catch up to me, which incidentally he was moving so slow he could have grew moss, I people watched.  On a side note, I was reminded of something said to me last time we were riding our bikes at Parker Dam.  Kyle said, “Aunt Heather, we are on self propelled two wheel transportation devices.”  I have no idea where that came from, but it shot out of his mouth and almost made me fall off of my bike.  Anyway, as I peddled along, for some reason I really paid attention to the eclectic group of individuals staying on the camp grounds.  Some visitors only stay a night and move on, while others set up camp for what seems like a lifetime.   As different and unique as our fingerprints, same goes for the camp site setups and their dwellings.


Sunday morning it rained at Parker Dam. Look at Nicole heading to the restrooms! I was dying when I saw her…yep she blends. Is she going to the bathroom or hunting? 6/16/13

Looking around at the different types of campers, meaning the vehicle they reside in while camping, not a reference to the person, I was utterly amazed!  Some camp sites are very rugged, getting back to the basics with a simple tent on the ground, while others set up a second home complete with satellite TV and a name plate posted in front of their temporary residence.  To be honest, I never noticed everyone else before.  We tend to stay to our own little rented out corner until it’s time to depart.  Personally, I really don’t care what everyone else it doing.   I, like my family, enjoy a little solitude and peace with nature, however as I peddled along my eyes were wide open.  I couldn’t believe what I saw!  I mean lights strung up in all shapes and sizes including chili peppers and ice-cream cones; a neon palm tree stuck in the ground with pink flamingos positioned all around; potted plants hanging from awnings; and huge tents to fit a wedding party staked to the ground.  Can you believe others take all that extra time for such embellishments while camping?  You better believe it!

I’m a pretty simple traveler no matter the destination Traveling Habits, only taking the essentials, not extra stuff.  That certainly holds true for camping.  Before we left and started packing up the camper, I thought to myself, ‘Boy this is a lot of work just for one weekend.  Is this really worth it for a two hour trip, a three day stay in a camper?’  I can’t imagine how long it takes those elaborate campers to pack up for their weekend stay, let alone set up camp.

You know, at first I can sit back and kind of make fun and laugh, but the more I looked, the more I noticed something, these little pieces of grassy lots holding all this stuff, is a home.  It certainly is that way for us.  In fact, there was a couple of times mom would say, “When we get back home”, meaning our camper.   It’s true what they say, ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’.  And as I watched everyone have a great time, their heart was fully into camping, maybe not so ruggedly but the experience was there.  It almost made me feel like I was a part of something bigger.


Seven & Scooby are packed & ready to head out to Parker Dam. They love the ride! 6/13/13

My parents had a neighbor, the Davis’ who used to take their RV camping.  They even had an electric golf cart so they could drive around the camp grounds visiting friends and socializing.  We are not that outgoing, but we did manage to break away for our isolation to chit chat with a few of our neighbors, who were nice and very interesting.  The one lady was in a wheelchair, yet she liked to camp, so their beast of a camper called the Wolf Pack folded down in the rear, allowing her to drive her motorized transportation up into her safe haven.

There was another lady walking her dog and kitten.  Yep!  Kitten!  A cute little tiger striped eight week old kitten.  The fury feline walked alongside the lady and her husband, while he walked their dog.  Now that kitten got me to stop and make a friend, as did Kyle.  He was obsessed with the fur ball!  When I told her I also brought my cat, she said, “O ya!  I had to, she’s still on the bottle and I didn’t want to leave her with my other cats.  I thought people would think I’m weird, camping with a cat.”  I totally laughed and said, “Cats are as much apart of the family as dogs are!”  Yep, we were surrounded by interesting and really down to earth people.

The weekend turned out to be another enjoyable trip.   It started off on Thursday night.  Kyle rode up with mom, dad, Seven and Scooby and the camper packed full, while Nicole and I left Friday during the day.  We were suppose to leave Latrobe around nine, however my sister convinced herself it was Saturday and apparently she wakes up later on the weekends.  Me?  I prefer to get up the same time all week long so my body is used to it and it becomes habit. Now I’m not saying I do wake up at 5:00 am every day of the week, but I do set that alarm to keep me in the rhythm.  Anyway, Nicole didn’t get up until around 8:00 am and she had a four hour drive to get me.  What?  Really?  Yep!  She finally got to the house at 1:00 pm and we made it to camp around 3:00 pm.  Not bad, even though I was looking forward to fishing with dad and Kyle in the morning, but no harm done.  Dad said the fish weren’t biting anyway.

Throughout our time at Parker Dam, we did a little biking, a little swimming and playing in the sand at the beach, we traipsed around with the dogs in the creek, made mountain pies and s’mores over the camp fire and relived the last time we were at Parker Dam.  Somewhere between Kyle’s need of an attitude adjustment and the fun and pleasant young man I know, he was singing uncontrollably.  All sorts of songs, including Christmas tunes.  What really brought a smile to my face and a song to the my lips, is when we were cautiously walking around in the creek and Kyle started singing Señor Don Gato!  I love that song!  I taught it to Kyle when he was just able to speak.  What brought that on?  I have no idea, but it was the perfect song for singing, while splashing around in a creek, in the middle of the woods.

Saturday night they had movie night!  They played Brave at their outside amphitheater.  It was really cool watching a movie in the middle of the woods outside in the nice cool air, while sitting under a blanket.  I loved it!  Almost like the drive in, only better!  While we were there we met a lady who was originally from Latrobe.  Incidentally, she was good friends of my parent’s neighbor, who were also friends of the family, the Ferry’s.  What a small a world!


Check out the Piper bonfire! We never do anything small, not even hanging around a campfire at Parker Dam. 6/16/13

Funny story:  Sorry I can’t remember her name, but she is a manager of the park.  She also previously came across my blog, finding it on her Google alerts for Parker Dam.  She read my last few blog posts about our camping experiences at the park.  Smart lady, doing her homework and hearing first hand what others are saying.  I can only say good things about Parker Dam.  The facilities and amenities are very clean and really nice and the park rangers are very pleasant and respectful.  I’m not the only one who thinks so.  I have a friend who goes there twice a year, they’ve been doing since she was a little girl.  Well done!  Two thumbs up for Parker Dam!

Sunday morning rained.  Did we care?  Nope not at all!  We were in our very own dry safe haven.  It was just like being at home.  Nicole, Kyle and I played card games, Three of a Kind was the game of choice, although sometimes we broke out a mean game of war.  I brought the chess set, however it never made its appearance.  Kyle and I both read, I was working on Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring and his journey took place in Lord of the Rings The Two Towers.  Mom, dad, the dogs and Storm?  They laid around and nodded off and on.

With all this “stuff”, guess what also managed to make its appearance?  Yes you guessed it the Legos!  On Saturday night I sat with Kyle on our big rock by the camp fire and helped him set up the battle and played a little.  Funny story!  Kyle thought me and his Aunt Nikki were taking my car to camp so right before he departed on Thursday night with mom and dad, he loaded my car up Legos.  I mean loaded!  They covered the backseat, the passenger seat and the floor of all three places.  When I opened the door I thought I was at war.  Kyle said, “Ya that’s so when you get there, I would have already set up my battle and you can bring the reinforcements.”  Naturally, that’s exactly what I was thinking for our camping trip, to drag around a ton of Legos.  Only a few made the trip.

Now looking back on the weekend, and realizing what I am remembering are now memories, memories of fun, memories of togetherness, memories at our home away from home, I realize all the packing and hulling stuff, setting it up and tearing it down, ‘YES it was totally worth it!’  Can’t wait to do it again!

Read other adventures at Parker Dame

Fishing Towards Independence
Just Had to Take It to Parker Dam
Parker Dam State Park Story
Lego Love

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

Lego Love

If you got to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you.  If you to to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you.  Whatever good things we build end up building us.  ~Jim Rohn


Kyle built his new Legos. His favorite activity even at Parker Dam. 5/18/13

Kyle, even at eleven years old, ready to go into the seventh grade, still has a love for Legos.  Mentioning it a time or two, or three or four (Another Lego Christmas, Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoKidsFest 2012, Shopping Spree, Kyle Asks for Prayers, Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Seattle – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 4 and the list goes on and on), Kyle’s love of Legos is even stronger now than it ever has been.  This past Easter was no exception, as well as our last camping expedition.  In fact, just about everywhere we go and everything we do includes this building block activity.

Let’s start with Easter.  Unfortunately, I missed this past Easter.  I was seriously sick and just laid there like a slug.  Actually, I felt bad for two big reasons.  One, because I wanted to enjoy the holiday with my family and two, because I promised Kyle I would wake up with him at the crack of dawn, like I have done every year, to watch him find the Easter eggs.  Yes, he instructed us to hide the eggs, even though he is well aware the Easter bunny is not real.  The kid didn’t want to miss out on anything and that included looking for the pastel colored plastic eggs, usually filled with change.  Kyle is anything if consistent.

Side story!  Kyle’s youth group held an Easter egg hunt.  While they were setting it up, Kyle had to serve mass and missed being apart of the assembly of the event.  They let him participate since he didn’t know where the eggs were hidden.  Naturally, Kyle found the golden egg, which allowed him to take this chocolate bunny wrapped in gold foil embellished with a dangling collar ornament.  Mom, who picked our little man up after he was done said, “You should have seen Kyle.  He was so excited about participating he forgot he was upset.  He showed me his chocolate bunny.  He even pointed to the collar and said ‘OOo Gigi, look!’.  I tell ya what, that kid!  He always manages to come out on top.”  And he certainly does.


You’d think this smile was from the excitement of heading to Parker Dam for the weekend. I’m not entirely certain. 5/17/13

Kyle and the rest of the family enjoyed Easter, while I laid on my death bed.  I’d like to call out an observation I made.  Easter used to be a celebration of Jesus and it is, but it has certainly taken on another form, an almost Christmas gift giving quality.  To counter act this new trend, I make sure I take Kyle to the Stations of the Cross during lent.  I even reviewed the Stations of the Cross with him independently, in addition to CCD class and going to church.  Kyle knows the true meaning of Easter and Christmas, however he also has this affinity for those Legos.

Easter, arriving on Sunday, March 31st of this year was the same.  Kyle was at no shortage of Legos to put together and play with.  Did I break down and fall into the Lego frenzy?  Nope, I purchased Kyle a few books on how to play chess and an Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  I must say, even though he loves his Legos, that goes without question, he did like the books.  Since then we’ve made a few recipes out of the cookbook and we’ve perused the chess books while playing a few mean games, picking up new tips.  Even though he appreciates his supply of Legos, I think the chess books took him off guard and was a pleasant surprise.  He loves to play chess and he’s pretty good at it.  He even wants to join the chess club at school, if they have one.  Knowing that, I wanted to encourage him.

Did he use the chess books as much as he played with the Legos, nope but that’s fine.  At least he plays with his Legos and still uses his imagination and enjoys himself.

I’m just going to discuss his Lego love from this past spring.  Nicole and Kyle have this on going deal.  When he gets A’s on his report card, she slips the kid some cash to spend on whatever he chooses.  Can you guess what he had his eye on this report card?  Yep, more Legos!  Seriously, I thought he owned them all!  I guess not.

The ordering process is down to a science.  Kyle picks out the Legos he wants, emails the Lego name and sku number to my sister and Nicole usually orders the goods to be delivered to the house.  That way he can track the packages and there is no hold up waiting for my sister to come home to drop off the Legos.

However, this one particular time there was a flaw in the system and the Legos never showed up.  Even though the online receipt was claiming it was delivered.  Kyle was stressed!  Who had his Lego?  Is he ever going to get another one?  And so on and so forth.   That sparked emails back and forth between me, mom and Nicole.  It was really funny, even though I know Kyle was sincerely stressed over the situation.  Eventually, Nicole had me go to the store to pick up the Lego to cool his horses.  I did, reluctantly.  I don’t think we should jump every time Kyle says how high, although he wasn’t pushy with us, just distressed.  Also, he did do a great job on his report card and earned that money fair and square.

Aunt Heather Piper 2-4-13

Would you believe months later, the neighbor realized they had the package all along and returned it to Kyle?  I’m not sure how someone doesn’t recognize a package delivered that has LEGO, written clearly across the top in bright letters.  I mean didn’t the sound of a million tiny little brick pieces give it away?  Not to mention, Kyle personally called and stopped over to see if Kyle’s mail found its way to the wrong house.  Whatever.

After the missing package resurfaced, I guess Kyle called my sister and asked what he should do with the Lego, since she already paid for this one and he got the same set, when I picked it up.  Another side note.  That was a nice gesture, Kyle could have just assumed he was getting that Lego or not mentioned it at all.  Yet, instead he called my sister right away to keep her in the loop.  Nicole told him to keep the Lego and have two.  A comment that sent pure happiness through Kyle.  A random surprise for the day.  For once no argument came from our little Lego lover.

Now let’s discuss this past report card, for the third quarter.  Yes, my little man got all A’s and a B in writing.  I’m perfectly fine with that!  He worked hard and did a great job!  His reward?  Ask his Aunt Nikki, who seems to be his Lego supplier.  He was rewarded with more Legos to build and play with, at his request.  His theme of choice for this batch?  Lego Star Wars.

Aunt Heather Piper 2-5-2013On May 17 – 19, just a few weeks ago, we went to Parker Dam for camping and fishing.  (Fishing Towards IndependenceJust Had to Take It to Parker Dam, Parker Dam State Park Story)  Mom and dad left earlier on that Friday before us.  I had to wait to get Kyle off of the bus before making our journey.  While we were packing and making our preparations, the Legos Nicole ordered came in.  All along prior to this time, Kyle would call Nicole and mom to check and see if the precious packages arrived.  Can you believe him?  Yep, it’s true!

Mom instructed me to put the new, highly anticipated Legos in my car.  What?  Are you kidding me?  We were going camping and fishing, not hanging out putting together Legos!  Reluctantly, I did as instructed and added the Legos to the contents of my car.  As Kyle got off the bus, he peeked inside the windows to see the huge boxes, a total of three were present.   The smile that erupted from his face was contagious and truly delightful!

Kyle-assembling-Legos-Parker-Dam-in-camper-Aunt Heather Piper5-18-13

Kyle hid away in the camper to put together his Legos. Kyle brings camping to a whole new meaning. 5/18/13

As soon as we got on our way, Kyle did his usual inspecting of the packaging and reading the number of pieces in each box, the characters supplied in each Lego set and so on and so forth.  I think he does that on purpose to build his excitement even more.  He couldn’t wait to bust open the boxes and go to town.


Close-up of Kyle assembling his Legos. A new way of camping at Parker Dam 5/18/13

Once we got to Parker Dam on Friday night, after Storm took off for the woods to play Jeremiah Johnson, Kyle opened a box of Legos and began to assemble.  He didn’t want to head down to meet up with his pap to fish, he didn’t want to help me look for my missing cat, he didn’t even want to get out his bike and go for a ride.  He wanted to build!  It’s like an addiction for him.  At least it’s a healthy learning one!

Literally, I had to pace him with the Legos and force him to think about other things while camping.  Once Kyle is involved or introduced to something else, he has a great time.  It’s just getting him to that point that can be tricky.  Throughout the weekend, we did manage to get our bikes rolling and explore the campsite a bit, as well as an unmarked dirt road.  On Sunday, we took the dogs for a walk in the nearby woods.  Even though we weren’t suppose to separate them from their leashes, we did so the boys could stretch out their legs.  After all, they were used to running free in the woods while we hiked.

But I bet the highlight to Kyle’s weekend, besides trudging through the creek and splashing with the dogs and getting all wet, was building and playing with those Legos.  Ok, maybe out fishing me made the top of his list too.

Saturday, after fishing in the morning, became the Lego building time.  Our camp fire was positioned by a large rock.  Kyle used that to play on.  It was his base of his Lego war.  As we hung around the campfire shooting the breeze, Kyle played with his Lego characters and their flying transportation devices.  He really enjoyed himself!

I guess any situation is a perfect situation with Legos, and any situation can be made a Lego good time.  Even if it was an enjoyable one without the primary colored building blocks.  I’m looking to sign Kyle up for Bricks for Kidz camp.  I bet he would enjoy that!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Fishing Towards Independence

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Life’s Not Fair

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.  ~Mother Teresa


Life’s Not Fair… sometimes you get a bloody lip from your walking stick. Kyle & Nick were acting like Jedi Masters…my little Yoda 2013

“That’s not fair!” has been exclaimed from Kyle’s mouth time and time again.  In fact, I heard it proclaimed this past weekend at the fishing derby Gone Fishing!.  “Why is everyone else getting fish?  That’s not fair!  Why am I the only one?”  and on and on.  It’s fishing, no one ever in the history of the world said that every fisherman was suppose to catch the same amount of fish, let alone at the same time, all being the same size.  It’s called life!

I know, I’m guilty of muttering those words too, for various reasons, mostly from my youth.  Being an adult, I really don’t care to keep tallies and to track fairness.  I realized long ago, everyone has their cross to bear and what may seem unfair, is ultimately in the hands of the Almighty One.

Is life suppose to be fair?  It was never promised, by anyone at any time, not even in the bible.  Yes, it’s true it talks about being fair and just to others but that is instructed of us, the ones with free will who sometimes stray from what’s right.  Even with dictatorship rulings and socialist countries, everything is seriously not fair.  There are always going to be those born into wealth or have status and opportunities that others don’t.  Some are more intelligent and have great ideas etc.


Dodge Ball, sometimes you win… sometimes you loose… sometimes you get smacked in the face. Kyle did twice! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Two Friday’s ago Kyle lost his molar.  Yep, poor kid will be going into the seventh grade and is still loosing baby teeth.  Maturity is not a strong trait in the Piper family.  Anyway, we went to see Iron Man 3, which was great!  He always has to get popcorn, except this missing tooth threw a monkey wrench in his behavior.  He said, “O man, now I can’t have popcorn with the movie!  Not with my sore gum.  That’s not fair.”  My parents said, “Just eat to one side.”  He wouldn’t hear of it.  That’s not the way you are suppose to eat, and he would not do it.

On a side note, Kyle is a bit of a weakling, putting it mildly, when it comes to any sort of physical pain.  No matter how minor.

As we drove to the movie theater, he commented again on how that wasn’t fair.  Really?  With all the poverty, starvation and lack of proper nutrition in the world and him not eating popcorn for a movie on opening night is not fair?  Someone needs to reevaluate his position.  Better yet, let good old Aunt Heather put it in perspective.  Keep in mind, this whole conversation was based on the fact he couldn’t eat popcorn!  He could very well eat the snack, he just needed to adjust his chewing.  That too ticked me off.  Before the whining could begin, and before I seriously lost my temper, I go into one of my rants of how children are starving and don’t have the opportunity to go to the movies, especially on opening night.  Kyle quickly dropped it, only because he didn’t want to listen to my ‘Everyone has it worse’ dissertation.  I stopped because I didn’t want to hear his ‘Poor me’ arguments.


Kyle at the Friday night showing of Iron Man 3, we are big fans! 5/3/13

That got me thinking, life just isn’t fair.  And I’m grateful for that!  God made each and everyone of us unique in our way.  Every person has strengths and weaknesses, which means there will never be complete “fairness”.  He made us that way on purpose so we rely on each other to exist, to socialize, to be his children, his family.

Let’s discuss physical traits that can and cannot be helped.  Some people are short, some are tall, fat, skinny, fair skinned, dark skinned, and the list goes on and on.  Some may say, that’s not fair she has prettier eyes or a better smile than I have.  Those, ‘That’s not fair’ comments is what makes us all unique and different.  It brings variety to life.

Since the physical traits are all different, doesn’t the same principal go for all other aspects of life?  Example time.   Does everyone need to have the same amount of money as their neighbor?  I don’t think so.  I love the fact that I always worked, and worked hard for what I have, never accepting hand outs.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve received assistance in one form or another, but isn’t that what life’s about?  Helping our neighbor when they’ve earned it or in time of need?  I also don’t believe a ‘time of need’ is every minute of every day.  Sometimes you have to stand on your own two feet and pave your own path.  After all, how can you feel a sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose, a sense of giving, when you are always taking?

Since everyone is different, and to the best of my knowledge that is a very true statement, wouldn’t each person treat all situations differently?  Maybe some people need to be driven or they can never accomplish anything or learn.  You always respect and appreciate the rags to riches story.  The person who came from nothing and made a better life for themselves.  Maybe that person needed to be put in a poor scenario to establish drive and motivation.  If that was taken away because of even distribution of wealth, then how would that life have ended?  Also wouldn’t the starting out in humble beginnings allows one to appreciate the flip side of life?  It may or may not instill a humility, but the option is now there,  as well as all the other lessons of life.


Sometimes you get the toy you want… sometimes you give your turn up to another kid with only 1 prize. Way to go Kyle! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

That’s what drives and motivates me, knowing I can reach a goal and be rewarded for it.  When I see a challenge I want to tackle it, taking it on ten fold.  If I have a goal to reach, I will work myself silly trying to reach it.  However, if I was just handed “things” and never felt the sense of pride or contribution, then I would not respect the handout as much, if at all.  I would never want to strive for what I think is better.  Worse, if what I worked for was taken from me, not by my choice, and given to someone else.  How would my actions change?

Sometimes lessons of life do not create a fairytale ending.  Sometimes they are just horrible and tragic.  But doesn’t that give us the opportunity to turn such darkness into light?  It’s not fair my brother died so young and sudden, for no apparent reason except God said it was his time.  It’s not fair that my nephew will never know his dad or grow up without a father.  Our family has made the most out of the cards we were dealt.  We never walk around saying, “It’s not fair.”  Never!  Instead, we’ve all stepped up our game, as with other friends and family.  I’ve been blessed to witness and be apart of such acts of kindness and sincerity over the years from others.  Sometimes it was just a pat on the back or words of encouragement and sometimes it came in the form of action and activity.  Even a simple invite or inclusion into an activity makes a world of difference.  I’m blessed in my life, and no it’s not fair but I’m fine with that.


I made Kyle pose in the Monster’s Inc. display before we saw Iron Man 3. I was cracking up! 5/3/13

This is a bit silly and simplistic, but I think it’s just the story to put my thoughts into plain English, common sense.  My cat, Storm believes she is one of the dogs, our Labradors.  She want’s to do everything they do, including taking hikes through the woods.  Alas, this would not be safe for her if she ever wondered off while we were hiking, or worse, adventured off on her own at night.  She meows at the door and angrily flips her tail to show her disdain for the situation.  It’s just not fair.  Nope, it’s not but it’s the way it is.  Storm is allowed to do things the dogs can’t, like being on the furniture and she gets to take more car rides than the dogs and so on and so forth.  The dogs get to take hikes but get more attention than the cat.  I understand I am making a rather feeble attempt at an Aesop’s Fable (I have no idea if there is one similar to this story) but certainly worth the calories burnt to ponder the simple thought.

Instead of focusing on “Life’s not fair”, shouldn’t we be exclaiming the obvious question?  ‘What can I do to help my fellow brother or sister?’

My CCD teacher told us this story and I always come back to it.  Forgive me for butchering it, but the lesson is the same.  He was in a very poverty stricken area, I can’t remember where, maybe South America doing missionary work.  He told us of this small child who was bouncing a ball.  Just playing with this rubber ball up a dirt road, which overlooked a very steep bank filled with garbage, sewage and rats.  As the child was self entertained, the ball happened to hit a rock sideways and was projected out of control.  Yep, you guessed it, the fun bouncing ball made a direct course of action for the filth down in the ravine.  Lost forever!  Did the child whine or cry?  Nope!  The young person, wearing only rags, continued on their route toward their straw hut with a dirt floor.  That was the only toy the child had, and now there was no more.


Sometimes you win the race & sometimes you take it slow and enjoy the sights & conversations! Me & Holly at the Great Race 2012

My teacher was actually on the way to visit the family, helping with the child’s sick sibling.  That’s how he knew the living conditions.  What my teacher witnessed made an impact on me.  I can’t even imagine the thoughts that would have erupted, if I witnessed this story first hand.  Is it fair that some live in extreme poverty?  Nope but that’s why we are called to reach out with what resources we have, to make a difference.

Mother Teresa is a perfect example of that.  She wanted to make a difference.  She never said, “It’s not fair” that no one is helping me with the sick, or no one is giving me money.  Nope, she took the resources she had and made a difference.  Is it fair that she had such a strong relationship with God and I’m not that tight with him?  If I want that, then I need to work for it.  God gave us plenty of opportunities to establish and build that relationship.  Each one of us have a different purpose in life and are called for specific reasons.

So really, maybe ‘Life isn’t fair’ should be tied directly to respect?  If we truly respect one another and respected all the things we have, then we wouldn’t be saying ‘Life isn’t fair’.  We would be more willing to lend a helping hand or give generously.

If a friend bought me something, more often then not I would take extra special care of it.  However, if I was given the same gift without a face or a reason behind the charity, then it would loose some of its value and not be treated with equal importance.  Charity and giving is all about the intent.  Not the notoriety and certainly not for selfish reasons.

It’s our job to help our brothers and sisters far and wide.  To help, from one person to another.  That’s what really makes the impact.  Not being forced to give my money in the form of taxes or some other undercover way, even if it is to assist those in need.  Yes, helping others is the end game, but the road traveled to get there is equally as important.  Giving, should be benefiting both parties involved, those that gave and those that received.  Naturally, the rewards are very different, yet equally as important.

So I guess, when I see that something “is not fair”, that really means, there’s an opportunity there to make a difference.

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

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!

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


Nicole pocketing Draco

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Read more on our stupid humor

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

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

Laughing About Nothing … True Story

Personally, I would not give a fig for any man’s religion whose horse, cat and dog do not feel its benefits.  Life in any form is our perpetual responsibility.  ~S. Parkes Cadman


Mom with her dog Fritz c. 1959

While Kyle was taking his Hunter’s Safety Course – Passed! last weekend, they gave the kids a short recess on Friday to stretch out their legs.  Kyle hung out with me during the break and we got to talking, actually screwing around.  After all, that was the first I saw Kyle since Monday night and I missed him terribly.  Well, it doesn’t seem weird talking about deer and animals in such as class, but this one may throw you for a loop.  Somehow we started talking about mom’s pet deer.  Yes!  Mom had a pet deer when she was little that lived on my Uncle Walter’s farm down over the hill. How she came about this pet, I have no idea.  Please note, my mom has lived in the same house since she was five.  My grandpap Chester and his brothers built the house on a section of the farm given to him by my great grandma.  Anyway, I’ve heard the stories about this deer.  Another side note, please keep in mind all my uncles and aunts who lived on the farm were big hunters.  Hunting is a lifestyle from both sides of the family.  Anyway, from what mom told me, during hunting season they would decorate the deer so no one would kill their unconventional pet.  Apparently, they placed a big red bow around its neck.  That was it, but this story became so much more.


Dad with one of his many deer

First Kyle didn’t know about the deer.  He was truly amazed.  He new about Rascals Raccoon or Cat? but we must not have talked about this deer.  Of course it wasn’t my pet, but I still enjoy the story.  For some reason this deer with its holiday decoration became the highlight of our conversation.  Kyle asked “How did they decorate it?” I told him, “They put ribbons and bows on its antlers.”  As that came out of my mouth, Kyle busted out laughing.  Then naturally following suit, I joined him.  I said, “Can you imagine this poor buck with ribbons and bows and glitter hanging off its horns?  Gigi probably decorated the deer with pink streamers that blew in the wind.”  We were dying!  Especially when I followed up with “Can you image being the hunter seeing that deer in your scope?  I think I would have to rub my eyes and take a second look.  Imagine if that was your first buck, Kyle?  What do you think pappy would say?”  We both lost it!


Mom with her brother, Uncle Denny at the Rolling Rock club, Ligonier c. 1957

I told Kyle that Gigi decorated the deer in hopes no one would shoot it during hunting season, which was true.  Kyle asked, “What happened to it?”  I bluntly responded, “I think someone shot it!”  Kyle gave me a gut-stretching laugh and I totally lost it.  Then I blurted out another fun fact between laughs, “Ya Gigi said she even put a wreath around its neck.”  This was too much for us.  I’m sure we were bringing attention to our corner of the room, but we didn’t care.

Ok, now we were out of control throwing out scenarios and embellishments to the story.  Kyle questioned the size of the wreath saying, “How did they get the wreath around its horns?  It would need to be this big.” as he held out his hands as far as they would stretch.  Only Kyle would think of the logistics to such an out of control story, but he did.  I said, “No wonder the deer was shot, it was probably weighed down with so many decorations it couldn’t pick up speed anymore.  It was probably dragging all decorations behind it.”  Kyle added, “Ya what if it was wearing a sign, property of…” as I interjected, “Rita Piper, actually Rita Olczak at the time.”  All I could picture was this perfect buck, wearing pink shimmery streamers, glitter and bows on its antlers, wearing a huge wreath with a large wooden name tag saying ‘Property of Rita Olczak.’  Our laughter took over our bodies as we stood there shaking and turning red from such an exaggerated story.

Really, can you imagine walking through the woods and seeing this deer dressed in couture?  That would have been so funny!  Especially to see it run through the woods with streamers hanging from its antlers, like a magical unicorn,  what a sight to see.  At this point, I’m liking my story better than the actual one mom tells.

Then we started to go dark, well I did, Kyle just joined in.  I said, “What do you think the deer thought when someone kill a deer and drug it back to the house to be skinned?”  Kyle looked at me with curiosity like, ‘Where is she going with this?’.  I said, “It could have been its uncle or neighbor.”  Kyle said, “Ya he’d say, ‘Aren’t you my uncle?’”  We were seriously so engrossed in our conversation; I truly have no idea who heard us.  I hope no one, because after you hear what I said next they would have seriously wondered about the two of us.  Going with the dead friend or dead family member angel I said, “What if Gigi fed the deer, deer meat?  Would he like it?”  That comment just shot us over the edge.  We could hardly talk at this point, but we didn’t want to stop.  I said, “It would be like feeding a pig, pork rinds.”  Kyle didn’t know what those were, nor did he get the reference to Designing Women when the character Julia Sugarbaker had a pet pig and that’s what she fed it; but Kyle got the idea.


Mom with her dogs, Duke & Fritz c.1958

I love it that Kyle and I can take any situation, any comment, at any time and turn it into a fun imaginary story to humor us.  Kyle is my buddy!  Even though he’s pretty logical and has very structured thinking, he also has an imagination and is a creative thinker.  I love it!

Good job passing your class!

Read More About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing

When I was gathering pictures for this blog, Kyle looked at me and mom and said, “The pictures are in black and white?”  He laughed, I forget kids have a totally different lifestyle.  I mean, we didn’t have black and white photos either but I certainly knew what they were.

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

Raccoon or Cat?

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.  ~Edgar Allan Poe

Rascals- Raccoon &-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Me & Rascals. My raccoon loved the kazoo! c.1993

It has been about four months since I brought home a little kitten called Storm.  In that time, her actions have flashed me back to my former self.  I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve always had cats.  My pappy used to call me old cat women.  So the true nature of a cat is not foreign to me, but some of the things Storm does reminds me of another pet I had, Rascals.

Rascals was our raccoon.  Yes I said raccoon!  She was amazing!  Is it legal to have a raccoon as a pet?  No, but it’s not like we went out in the woods and stole a baby raccoon from its mother.  My dad was a woodsman for most of his life.  He was the guy who cut down timber and hauled the logs back to the sawmill or wherever they needed to go.  Throughout his life he’s run into his share of animals, wild and domestic.  Yep, dad would come across cats that were starving in the woods because their owners would abandon them, so he would bring them home to give them a fighting chance at life.  Dad did the same with abandoned or injured wild animals, one happened to be a raccoon.

This bundle of helplessness came as a package of three newborn raccoons to be exact.  Unbeknownst to dad, he took down a tree with the babies, who were so little, their eyes weren’t even open yet.  Dad would never let these little babies lay there to die.  I mean who could?  They would have never had a fighting chance.  Ever!  They were just babies!

Rascals- raccoon eating-cracker-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Rascals loved Nilla Wafers c. 1993

I’ll never forget, this happened the day of my junior prom.  When I got home that night, well actually the next morning, there they were three little tiny critters, who needed to be bottle fed.  Unfortunately, two of the them died shortly after arriving at the Piper household.  They were also the two runts of the bunch.  Dad said they could have had internal injuries that we didn’t know about, or they could have already been sick.  Regardless, we did our best and with that, Rascals survived!

Trying to be responsible, we called the vet and asked if we could bring her in to get her shots, specifically rabies shots.  They told us, we are suppose to release Rascals back in the wild, even after we informed the vet of her age.  They informed us that she was not a domestic animal.  Really?  We had no idea! (sarcasm) Again, who would release a helpless baby and set her on the course for sure death?  Not my family. Especially after we bottle fed the animal to health.  Still denied!

Anyway, Rascals grew up fast and bad, she was a little stinker.  Little known fact to some, but raccoons are very intelligent creatures.  Almost too smart for their own good.  Just to share a few examples, if Rascals was out  in the garage, she would stand on a pile of boxes by the door leading into the kitchen.  She knew how to turn the door knob and push it open to let herself in, believe it or not!  I’ve seen it first hand.  Eventually, when she got to be too big for the house, mom actually had to lock the door to keep her out.  I felt so bad, I would sometimes unlock the door and let her find her way back in.

Rascals-raccoon on-Gun-Cabinet-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Rascals favorite place to hang out was onto of dad’s gun cabinet.

In our bathroom at my parents house, we have a tub with a shower as well as a shower stall shielded with a plastic curtain.  We would leave the door slightly ajar when taking a shower so Rascals could “sneak” in to play with the water running down the drain.  Can you imagine showering and all of a sudden you see these little feet peeking out from under the shower curtain trying to catch the water going down the drain?  It was too funny!  The first time she did it, I nearly shot out of the shower with surprise.  Considering I had my eyes closed, washing my hair and then feeling something grabbing at my feet!  It was kinda freaky.  But eventually it became a game and I looked forward to Rascals playing in the water while I showered.

Ok those are true raccoon traits, almost human like intelligence and logic, and the love of water.  Neither of which are Storm.  However, if I was talking about obsession with my hair and hair ties, that describes both of them to a tee.  Sometimes Storm likes to lay across the back of my neck while I’m standing or sitting.  She did it when we were at the vet, I stood and she was anchored between my neck and the wall.  She also did that when we were driving, between my neck and the seat.  Very Rascals like!


The litter of raccoons, only one made it…Rascals c. 1993

Rascals loved being up by my neck, usually to play with my hair.  When I was in high school my hair length would vary from a little past my shoulders to boy cut short.  When we first got Rascals my hair was down to my shoulders.  Then at one point, I got my brown locks cut up to my ear lobes.  Needless to say she was upset.  Rascals would sit on my shoulder grabbing the empty space that used to contain my hair, and she would snort.  Apparently showing her feelings toward my new do, showing me that she didn’t like this change.  Storm doesn’t seem to care if my hair is up or down, but there were a few times already, I would wake up with Storm in my hair!  Yes, she would nestle her face and front paws among all of my curls on the pillow, either to sleep or I to play among my knots.  Believe it or not, it’s kind of relaxing.

Let’s not even discuss hair ties and such.  In high school I could never find my hair things.  They would always go missing, even while I was wearing them.  Sometimes as I sat on the couch, Rascals would creep up on the back of the furniture to play in my hair.  But then she would slowly move her paws up to the top of my head where my headband was resting.  She was quick, because before I could even read her mind, she grabbed the hair accessory off my head and was running away with it.  I would find my hair things in the 10lb bag of dog food, under the couches and in corners tucked away.  Recently, this same occurrence was happening again.  The other day, I saw something peeking out from under my bed.  When I got down on all fours to better examine the space, I found a big pile of hair ties!  Mystery solved.  My raccoon has been reincarnated into my cat.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Rascals-Raccoon Sleeping-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Rascals needed a nap. Spring 1993

The similarities don’t just stop there.  With both of those fur balls, my closet doors have to remain shut.  When Storm hears me getting ready in the morning, she will ambush me and run at mock speeds to get into my closet.  I don’t know if she thinks its a secret play land for her, but I don’t want her using my cloths, which are resting on hangers, to be her rock climbing wall.  Rascals used to do the same thing, except I would also lock her out of my room.  She would get into everything, even destroying my red lipstick.  I will admit, after I got over being mad at the pulverized new red lipstick, I did laugh at the raccoon wearing it all over her face.  It’s silly to say that I have to lock these creatures out of certain areas.  But I did with Rascals and I do with Storm.

Did I mention that Storm is a stripped kitten?  As she gets older patches of red/pink are showing up between the stripes, but her tail is dark and patterned with lines.  When she puffs up her tail, let me tell you, I feel like I’m staring at Rascals.  Even their fur is the same, course yet soft.

As the similarities unfold between Rascals and Storm, I’m sure I’ll be reporting on them.  It’s funny, I’ve known others who’ve had raccoons as pets.  Yep, I’m not the only one.  All the stories are very similar, the love of dog food and Nilla wafers,  the intelligence, the orneriness, as well as the realization of how amazingly smart raccoons are and how much fun they had with the creatures as pets.  Anyone who had the privilege of raising such a little critter loved their time with their raccoon, at least until they got older.  Although, that’s a separate blog post.  I’m not saying everyone should run out and get a raccoon.  Absolutely not!   And no one should ever approach a wild animal, but to have had the opportunity to really appreciate such a living thing was a blessing.  Rascals was an experience, one I would never have traded for anything, she is apart of me and who I am.  I love it that Storm brings back those memories.


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

Scooby Meets a Porcupine

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.  ~Mark Twain


Yep those are the porcupine quills, I wish I could have gotten a shot of his lower lip, that’s where most of the quills stuck.

As I was writing about Love of Animals, Even Fictitious Pets, I realized I never addressed the incidence with Scooby and the porcupine.  Usually I have Kyle on Wednesdays, but he was on vacation with my sister, for ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’ during the second week of July.  Being at a loss for my little man, I went for a run with my friend Holsters in the evening.  Afterwards, I made my way to my parents house to see how the old folks were doing.  Since I was already sweaty and warmed up, I thought I’d treat the dogs to a hike in the middle of the week.  We did our usual route of three miles, however by the time we were heading back nightfall was upon us, not that it bothered me.  As kids, we used to run through these woods at night without flashlights, chasing each other and plotting strategies of attack at Halloween.  My only concern was twisting an ankle, on the over abundance of loose rocks covering the trail.  No problem, I took my time and really paid attention to my steps, while the dogs continued to run around.  They were having a blast!

As we were within the last half a mile from the house, Scooby who was a good fifty feet ahead of me yelped in a painful cry.  What the heck?  I saw him pretty clearly and he kept pawing at his face.  At that moment, I thought that knucklehead found a nest of bees!  He likes to snap at bees, don’t ask me why!  O great, I thought here I am allergic to bees and it’s dark and I’m in the woods.  How am I going to make my way around them?  I actually contemplated turning around and hiking back where I came from, another two miles to the main road and have mom pick me up.  Then, as I approached the area where Scooby was pawing at his face and shaking it violently, I had another thought.  For some reason I was convinced it was a snake!  I have no idea where that came from, but I thought a copper head bit Scooby in the jaw, since I saw some white around his mouth.  Common sense told me that it couldn’t have been a rattle snake because I didn’t hear the warning noise from its tail.  At that moment, my mind was racing, thinking that if it was a snake, I really would never be able to see it in the dark.  Yikes! Run!

As I scooted the dogs down the trail, I noticed Seven kept staring over the hill and was ready to take off for whatever started this situation.  He listened to me, thank goodness, when I called him to join us, but he was still on alert.  As I approached the opening of the woods and my feet hit the pavement, I looked down at Scooby who kept shaking his head,  It was at that moment I noticed he had porcupine quills in his face!  What?  I didn’t even know we had porcupines in the area!  My only thought was, ‘Well I guess I have to get them out’.  While we made our way down through the yard, Scooby took that as an opportunity to roll around in the orchard.  Then I heard a really loud yelp.  He must have rolled onto his face and hit the quills.  For some reason, Scooby didn’t want to go in the house, he wanted to stay in the yard.  That is until I really yell at him.

All three of us stormed through the front door into the kitchen, and I yelled for mom to get tweezers.  She jumped up off the couch, apparently reading the sense of urgency in my voice.  She came around the corner and wanted to know what the heck was going on?  I told her that Scooby had an encounter with a porcupine.  Then she saw the quills stuck in his face.  Mom looked at me and said, “We have porcupines?”  I said, “I guess so.”  Mom was still really confused and said, “Heather I have never seen a porcupine around here, ever!  I’ve never even heard of a neighbor’s dog coming across one! Ever!”  So in the sixty plus years mom has lived in the house, she never encountered a porcupine.  Then I was thinking, am I really looking at porcupine quills?  Neither one of us were experts in porcupines, but we both agreed, that’s what Scooby ran into, literally.  It looked like Scooby stuck his face directly into the rear end of the spiky critter.

As we brought Scooby into the living-room so mom could sit there and hold him while I plucked the quills out, I saw Seven.  He had a few in his face too!  What the heck?  I took care of Seven first, since there were only a few quills and he just wanted to jump around.  Then, I locked him in his cage, to keep him from getting in my way while I evaluated the situation with Scooby.

Just as I got a really good look I was mortified!  His entire bottom lip was COVERED in quills to the point it actually looked like a beard!  I needed to get these things out and fast.  Well, my inexperience with porcupines was showing when I tried to use the tweezers.  They didn’t work at all!  Next I tried using my fingers, and I did manage to get a few out, but they were so smooth it made it difficult to get a grip.  Then, I grabbed a paper towel, which assisted me with extracting a few more quills but didn’t allow for a really good grip on the others.  Once the upper lip was clear and I felt like I was getting somewhere, I moved to the polluted lower lip.  The paper towel method work for a few, but even that wasn’t cutting it anymore.  I was at loss, I didn’t know what to do?

Think!  Yes, pliers!  I went in the garage and pulled out a set of my dad’s pliers, allowing me to evacuate a few more.  As I continued, Scooby yelped.  Instantly, I stopped to take a serious look at his mouth.  With a double take, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me, I saw the real damage on his face.  The quills went the entire way through his lower lip!  O my poor, poor Scooby!  What to do?  Knowing the vet retired for the day, mom called to see if there might be an emergency number to reach someone.  It was a number to a pet hospital in Monroeville.  Monroeville?  That would take us at least an hour to get down there.  I wasn’t going to have Scooby wait in the car for over an hour with these things puncturing his face, and then, who knows how long it would take them to alleviate his discomfort.  No way!

Back to the drawing board.  Let me tell you, approaching a dog in pain with a pair of pliers is a little surreal.  Mom tried to hold him, while I moved in on Scooby’s face with the clamps of pain. He caught on to me and kept turning his head every time I came near.  He would look at me and give me the sense that I had his permission to yank those darn things out, but then at the last second, he would turn his head away.  Come on! I get it he was scared and in pain.  I felt like I had no choice but to be a little more aggressive with the embedded quills.

Twitter Scooby & Porcupine Aunt Heather PiperScooby was a trooper!  As the process of yanking the foreign objects out, blood began  just dripping from Scooby’s chin.  It was sprayed across my white T-shirt, my arms, on mom and all over the hardwood floor.  At one point mom stopped me and said, “What what if he bites you?”  Remaining focused on my mission, I said, “Well, I’ll deal with it if he does.”  Only twice did Scooby growl at me and snap at the pliers.  He didn’t snap at me, he directed his pain and fear towards the pliers!  What a good dog!  Every now and then, mom would interject, “He doesn’t mean to growl.  He’s just scared and it hurts him.”  I certainly was not holding Scooby’s hostility to heart and I didn’t want those things to stay in his skin any longer.

While all this was going on, Seven was in his cage, crying and wanting out.  No doubt, he thought he was missing out on something, all while Storm hid under the recliner and was trying to play with Scooby’s feet.  She apparently didn’t realize the tense look in the dog’s eyes.  I had to try and keep her away from him, to give Scooby a break.  I’m sure playing with Storm was the last thing on his mind.  Not to mention I didn’t want this upset lab striking out at the kitten.  Yikes, too much to think of at once!

After over an hour of literally blood, sweat and tears, Scooby was done.  He looked happy and like himself again.  The bloody chin seemed to heal up instantly and stopped bleeding.  Using a flashlight to inspect the area, I noticed he had a few quills in his leg.  Those were a breeze to pull out after the ordeal we just went through.  Scooby was sore, but hopefully on the road to recovery.  He didn’t seem to hold a grudge against me either, wagging his tail and wanting attention.

After I left the injured to rest, I had to stop and fuel up the car.  I didn’t even realize the streaks and spattered blood on my T-shirt, arms, legs and hands until I got out.  I looked like I just fed someone to the pigs!  Either that or I worked in a butcher shop.  What was really amusing, was when I went to take a shower and saw I wiped my forehead and face with a bloody hand.  Can you image what a bystander thought as they saw me pumping gas?  I had blood spatter across my chest, and streaks of it on the rest of me including my face!

The next day mom took Scooby to the vet’s just to make sure I handle the situation correctly and to ensure he was healing properly.  The vet was impressed, how I managed to get the quills out, all without Scooby taking a chunk of my arm or seriously hurting the dog.  I can’t take all the credit, Scooby was the brave soul.  Of course, he was also the knucklehead who stuck his face in direct line of fire of a porcupine.  But that’s another topic.

Well, clean bill of heath, or so we thought.  After some time passed Scooby started to develop a lump under his chin.  Mom hauled him back to the dreaded vet, which the dog absolutely despises.  Scooby growls at him every time and won’t let the vet come too close, let alone touch him.  The outcome?  Scooby was to take some medicine to hopefully dissolve this trapped piece of quill.  Initially, the vet had Scooby on an antibiotic to ensure the wounds wouldn’t get infected.  Now he was back to more medications.

Well, after medications were consumed the lump still remained.  Let’s discussing giving this dog his pills.  Scooby isn’t the easiest patient.  Mom had to roll up his pills in lunch meat and bread to get his drugs into him.  However, mom said that shortly after she started this daily routine, Scooby caught on to the extra love.  He seemed to develop a talent for eating the food and spitting out the pills onto the floor.  What a stinker!   Then mom would have to go through the process again until he consumed the medications.  The dog is too smart to take his pills, but not smart enough to stay away from animals with built in weapons.

This past weekend we took Scooby back to the vet’s to have the lump inspected.  The vet said that he thinks it’s actually scare tissue.  He measured the two centimeter bump and told us to watch it, making sure it doesn’t grow.  The vet looked Scooby over and you know what?  He wasn’t in pain, at all.  If that was an abscess, Scooby wouldn’t be able to eat, and certainly not play tug of war with Seven, which he does occasionally.  Can you believe all this from one innocent walk through the woods.  I guess it could have been worse and I’m glad the our Labrador  seems to be healthy and happy.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets and have Comment (1)

Love of Animals, Even Fictitious Pets

I really love pets.  They’re like children.  They know if you really love them or not.  You can’t fool them.  ~Donna Douglas

Kyle-with-dog-Aunt Heather-Piper

Kyle is the bumblebee c. 2003

Recently, we watched the movie I Am Number Four Last Weekend Before School – 6th Grade.  Not a bad movie at all, in fact Kyle really like it!  Toward the end, when the action scenes started rolling out, the beagle in the movie changed into a creator of some sort to fight off the bad guys.  Anyway, to sum it up, the beagle became injured during their battle.  Then as the rest of the movie unfolded, there was no sight or sound of the dog.  The entire time, Kyle kept asking what happened to the dog?  Even when the action got good, Kyle would interject, “Wonder what happened to the dog?  Pappy, what do you think happened to the dog?  Do you think he died?”, clearly upset over the possibility.  We were all watching the movie like he was and none of us had a clue.  Not satisfied with his pap pap’s lack of knowledge, Kyle turned his set of questions onto me.  Getting my opinion and responses weren’t as nice as my dad’s, “Kyle!  I have no idea!  I’m watching the same movie as you are, I’m not psychic! Shuhh!”  He actually stood up and watched the remainder of the movie that way, I’m guessing trying to remove some of his anxiety.  As he stood there clearly engrossed in the movie, I couldn’t help but sport a big smile on my face.  Just because he physically gets into movies and stresses over things like, ‘Where’s the dog?’.

Finally, at the very end of the movie, the beagle made his way to his owner, limping but clearly alive and on the verge of recovery.  Kyle smiled with a sigh of relief when the dog was framed on the screen.  He was sincerely happy to see the pet make it.  Kyle even looked around at us to see if we were sharing in his joy.  Now I will admit I did say, “There’s your beagle, now you can relax.”  He nodded and sat back down.

After the movie we took the dogs, our real pets Scooby and Seven, for a hike.  While stretching our legs Kyle kept talking about the beagle, and how relieved he was to see it alive.  How happy he was to see it make it through the battle.  I guess this was a nice change of pace, as opposed to the usual Lego talk. But can you believe the dog from the movie was still on his mind?  It was!

Kyle’s passion for animals shouldn’t take me by surprise, because he is a very caring youngster.  When Dog Gone, good old thunder and lightening (Scooby and Seven) ran off, he was sick over their mischievous actions.  Not only because he knew they would get in trouble but he didn’t want anything to happen to them.  Being relentless, he kept calling them and walking around looking for any signs of the runaways.  Kyle was completely worried and stressed until they came back.


Ryan holds Jake as a puppy… he loved that dog. c. 1990’s

Let’s not even discuss Puppy Problem Called Seven, when Seven got in big trouble for eating the oatmeal creme pies off of the counter.  I will admit I lost my temper and yelled like a wild banshee and punished Seven by putting him in his cage.  That day, Kyle put Seven’s food and water in with the prisoner, even though his jail time was only maybe an hour.  And ever since that instance, Kyle was very aware of leaving food out on the counter and table for fear the dogs would try the same stunt.  Not because he didn’t want the dogs to eat the food, but because he fears for their punishment, getting yelled at having a time out in their cage.

During our hikes through the woods, I always have the shock collars on the dogs.  I rarely need to shock them, they listen pretty well.  But before there is an opportunity for the dogs to get in trouble, Kyle inspects the remote and makes sure the intensity is turned down, really low in case we need to use it.  Recently, I misjudged our remaining daylight hours as we set out for our hike.  In the middle of our walk, darkness started to fall on us pretty quickly, not to mention nightfall arrives in the woods first, under the cover of trees.  As we made our way back on the trail,  I decided to cut across onto a logging road where there was more light, ultimately bringing us out of the ticket sooner than our current course of action.  Just as this decision was made, Seven encountered a creature of the night.  How do we know? While we were blinded by darkness, Seven yelped and we heard a little bit of a tussle between animals.  I have no idea what it was, but Seven sustained a scratch from the beast on his leg.  At that moment, Kyle said, “Let’s get out of here!  When we get back to the house we can inspect him.”  Kyle was scared when he heard Seven cry.  I jumped too!  My first thought was it must be another porcupine, since Scooby’s last encounter.  However, it wasn’t.  Then Kyle started to say, “I’m never going into the woods when it’s dark or getting dark again!  I’ll go first thing in the morning, when I know it’s going to get light out. But NEVER when it’s getting dark!” I felt really bad he was so upset and at that moment my concern was not for Seven but to alleviate some of Kyle’s fear.  I said, “Kyle there are all sorts of animals out during the day too.  Not all animals come out at night.  We just haven’t ran into any animals during the day. But they’re there.”  He replied, “Ya but at least I could see the animals during the day and at night I can’t!”  Point taken.  Now I felt really, really bad. Let’s face it, I make Kyle hike with me and the dogs, he really doesn’t have a choice, and now he’s afraid of the woods.  Being afraid of the dark is not a new thing for Kyle and fueling that fire was never my intention.  I just wanted all of us to stretch our legs, get our bodies moving when it was cooler in the evening.

Anyway, now Kyle was paying very close attention to where the dogs were walking, on our journey back.  As we got to the edge of my cousin’s sawmill, Kyle kept reiterating that I need to check Seven to make sure he’s ok.  He was truly worried.  I did try to debunk his stress by saying he looked fine, no porcupine quills.  Kyle asked me what it was, and I couldn’t honestly answer for sure, except to say, “I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a porcupine, it could have been a raccoon.”  Just then Kyle said, “I think there’s something wrong with Seven’s leg Aunt Heather.  I think he’s limping!”  At that moment Seven ran past us at mock speeds to ram Scooby.  I said, “Ya I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his leg.”  Kyle sort of smiled and nodded in agreement, but he was still concerned for his puppy.  Later on we did find a scratch on his inner leg, but the vet said it was healing fine and Seven never seemed to be bothered by it.


Jake running free as a puppy… he always liked to be free

As we headed toward the entrance of the sawmill, I couldn’t find Scooby.  Granted it was dark, but he wasn’t listening to me when I called.  Just then, a very stressed out Kyle grabbed the zapper remote and hit it once for Scooby. Nothing.  No dog.  Then I saw Kyle turn up the strength of the zapper and hit it again.  Miraculously Scooby appeared by our side.  Kyle mentioned to me, as if confessing, “I didn’t want to hurt him but I didn’t want him in the woods in case there was another porcupine.  I don’t want him to get shot in the eye or something.”  I was actually in shock, this was not the Kyle I know and love, yet it was.  He was portraying my traits of tough love!  Usually he’s the one to make sure the zapper it turned down but now in order to protect Scooby from potential larger harm, Kyle zapped the dog to bring him back to safety.  Even thinking about it now, I am still dumbfounded.

This was not the only instance of tough love.  Recently, my Kyle, the one who never could hurt any animal, started to spray Storm with the water bottle.  Granted, it’s not hurting the cat in the slightest bit, but Storm is certainly not happy with Kyle’s new actions.  Apparently, Storm was biting Kyle, which I don’t want to continue, so Kyle’s taking it upon himself to bring justice to the guilty.  This has actually gotten kind of funny.  The other day I caught Kyle walking around the house with the spray bottle like he was packing heat.  Take it easy Tex!  I think he thinks he’s a vigilante.  Anyway, as I gave Kyle a look of ‘What are you doing?’ he instantly justified his actions by saying, “I’m teaching her not to bite, especially me.  I know she doesn’t like it, but it’s for her own good Aunt Heather.”  Too much!  When he said the last part, he leaned his head to the side and gave me a look like he was an adult disciplining a child!  I just smiled and said, “Ok buddy, whatever you think is best.”  He quickly added, “Ya Aunt Heather so she doesn’t get in really big trouble.”

Kyle, what a stinker!  I’m very proud of him!  He has such a big heart.  I hope no one ever takes advantage of his loving and caring nature and he continues to stay this way.  His dad, even though he was a hunter, had a soft spot for animals too, especially his dog, Jake.  But that’s another story.  Pets really do hold a special place in our hearts and I believe they are much needed.

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

Last Weekend Before School – 6th Grade

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.  ~Victor Hugo


First day of 6th grade…his fashion sense hasn’t gotten any better… 8/27/12

Kyle is officially in the sixth grade!  Wow!  I know to expect these milestones, but every year I’m taken off guard and it’s still a surprise.  This past weekend I kept reminding Kyle about school on Monday and I kept teasing him of all the homework. He kept grunting and giving me the look of ‘O No!”.

On Friday night we just hung out, kicking back, relaxing.  Kyle went to the grocery store with me to pick up a few items for dinner.  We finally agreed on steak, since we were having corn on the cob, cooked on the grill.  While at the grocery store, we ran  into my cousin Karen, coincidentally the one who gave us the corn from her garden.  Yep, Friday set the stage for the rest of the weekend, the theme of laid back.  Usually Friday’s are all rush, rush, rush till bedtime.  Nice change of pace.

Saturday morning we loaded up the truck with the pistol, Kyle’s .22 rifle and a couple of dad’s rifles and headed out to the shooting range.  Which reminds me, I need to get a new set of headphones like the ones dad and Kyle wear.  I don’t like the foamy ones that are placed in the ear.  I’d rather have my ears engulfed in padded protection.  Anyway Kyle mostly shot his .22 rifle at a target about 50 feet away, while dad was shooting at 100 yards, testing out the different mixtures he loaded in the bullets and the accuracy of the rifles.

My job, to keep an eye on Kyle.  There was another group of guys there who were shooting clay pigeons.  I had to make sure Kyle didn’t get in their way, stayed out of his pappy’s danger zone, and didn’t put anyone in danger through the reinforcement of proper rifle handling.  Shooting is fun, but it’s certainly an activity of responsibility.  I gave Kyle all the shooting time he wanted.  Dad hooked us up with a full box of .22 bullets.  Every once in a while, I would sneak in a few shots.  Kyle like to share his rifle and time behind the trigger. I think he enjoyed the togetherness of the activity, not to mention I think Kyle liked to see who was the better shot.  Plus it gave him a break, he’s not really die hard with anything except his marathon of playing video games.  He didn’t do too bad at all.  He shot standing free hand and sitting, but his favorite was using the sticks and sitting on a bench.  He hit some dead on!  Way to go buddy!

After a few hits to the target, I could tell Kyle was getting bored, so I got out the .22 pistol.  It’s a neat little pistol that I’ve shot countless times, one that I’ve always favored since I was little.  As I loaded the clip I showed Kyle where the safety was, how to line up the sights and how to load the chamber.  As I handed the pistol to Kyle, he almost leaned away from me, as if saying ‘I don’t know’.  Picking up on his body language I said, “Did you want to shoot the pistol first?”  With the beginning of an inquisition, he said, “Does it have a kick?”  I simply stopped him from going down his list of questions and debunked his anxiety by saying, “How about I’ll shoot this clip first and then if you want to take a turn you can, but you don’t have to.”  Happily he nodded his head and presumed his position behind me.

How did I do?  Well not very good free hand.  Actually, very disappointing.  Shooting off of the sticks or a support I’m alright, but shooting free hand was nothing to brag about.  Kyle was the same.  I guess we need serious practice.  After I shot in a clip of about eight or nine rounds, I think Kyle felt a little more comfortable with this foreign firearm.  You know I always forget, I’ve grown up around guns so there was never a fear of them.  In fact, I don’t remember the first time I shot.  I was little, in fact, thinking about it, there was never a time where I didn’t know how to shoot a gun.  As a family, we would go up on the ridge and target shoot pretty frequently with other family members and friends.  During that time,  I was able to see what each firearm sounded like and how it handled with the shooter.  That’s knowledge that Kyle has not really been privy to, at least not consistently.  I don’t think he has ever seen my dad clean the guns either.  When we were little, I used to complain about the smell that accompanied that action.  Now don’t get me wrong, being a part of the Piper household, by default Kyle has been exposed to firearms since we was born, the result of a hunting family.  However, Kyle’s exposure was not in the same way that me, Ryan and Nicole were.  Actually, I was always a decent shot.  Even to this day, I still enjoy shooting.  I wish I would have kept it up over the years, frequency means accuracy, but alas life gets in the way.  From what dad has told me, mom used to be a dead on shot.  She doesn’t really shoot anymore, but Nicole is getting back into it again.


Kyle with his pappy at the shooting range. 8/25/12

After a few hours at the shooting range we headed back to the house for lunch.  It was a hot one on Saturday, so the desire to be outside was not there.  Instead, we decided to plug in a couple of movies, Hunger Games and I Am Number Four.  Mom and dad didn’t like Hunger Games.  What?  How can that be?  Maybe they should have read the books first and then they would have understood the movies better.  I took Kyle to see that movie in the theater when it first came out.  Eventually he wants to read the books.

Sometime during admission, I ran to the Dairy Queen (DQ) to pick up some cold treats before retreating back to the cool insides of the house and starting the second movie.  Now that was my idea of a near perfect day, eating DQ, hanging out with the family, spending time with Kyle and watching movies!

Alas, now the day was escaping us and we waited till the evening to take the dogs for their weekly hike.  The entire way, Kyle talked about the movie I Am Number Four.  He wanted to see if there was a sequel.  He said, “They have to have another movie, so they can finish the story.  They have to find number five and seven, eight and nine.  They just can’t end it, we have to know what happened.”  I was cracking up.  I told him, “I don’t know buddy, maybe they will.  But if they didn’t make enough money on the first movie, then they probably won’t make a second.”  A little concerned over that comment he said, “They have to finish the story!  Did they find number five?”  While I was laughing, I said, “Honey, I don’t know.  I don’t even know how old the movie is.”  Not accepting that answer he asked me how I know about up coming movies like Iron Man 3 and Avengers 2?  “I know that because I read it online, different articles and news feeds.”  He couldn’t stand it that he didn’t know anything about a part two of I Am Number Four.  He even started to name the sequel, saying “I Am Number Four, two”  Naturally I started laughing just as Kyle realized what he said.  He then decided that since Aunt Nikki was the one who suggested the movie, she would have the skinny on the sequel.  He said, “I’m going to ask Aunt Nikki about it, I’ll have her look it up.  She would know.”  Kyle is too much, very persistent!


Kyle shooting in his .22 rifle, we also shot in the .22 pistol 8/25/12

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful.  Church on Sunday morning and a lot of loafing around for the majority of the day.  It was another hot one, so Kyle and played with Seven, Scooby and Storm inside.  I was actually going to take him to the movies, but the idea didn’t hit me until it was too late.  Sunday was a perfect “nothing” day before Kyle had to be back to the responsibility of school.

Did I mention that Kyle was gathering loose change and counting it all weekend?  That kid, if he doesn’t become a banker then he might be missing his calling.  He also talked nonstop about this Lego chess set he saw online.  I think he thought since I have no issue with him playing chess, either online or the actual physical board game, which I actually encourage, he feels that it’s a shoe in for him getting the game for Christmas.  Yep, Kyle is already prepping for Christmas!  He kept searching different sites for different Lego chess sets and different price points to give me options.  Oh, it’s never a day with Kyle without at least the mention of Lego’s.

Yesterday morning I saw Kyle off for his first day of school.  I kept that tradition ever since he was in kindergarten and this year will conclude it.  Watching him grow up has been fun and helpful to my own personal growth.  He is going to like sixth grade, I just know it.  I called him last night to see how his day went.  He didn’t seem enthused, but I was probably interrupting cartoon watching, since I’m sure he was going through withdrawal.  Sixth grade, his last hooray before junior high…I have a feeling this year will fly by FAST!



Kyles target… he started hitting the center the more he shot… even though the rifle was not shooting accurate as we later found out. 8/25/12

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Bad Decision – Storm’s Locked In

Sometimes I make bad decisions.  ~Heather Piper


Storm ready to leap off of my books 2012

Last Wednesday, after a day at Idlewild Park with Kyle, (Round Up the Math at Idlewild Park) we headed back to my parents house to visit before calling it a night.  I will admit I was beat, not getting much sleep the night before, being up at the crack of dawn, and spending the entire day at Idlewild Park.  Mark this one in the calendars, Kyle wore me down!  Before we left mom and dad’s I started to fall asleep in the chair.  Kyle was gracious enough to wake me up and get me moving. (sarcasm)

As I gathered my things up, I headed out to the car with Storm.  Kyle gave me the “Ya I’m going, I’m going.” all while he was watching a cartoon on TV.  Me being tired and impatient, I waited in the car for a few minutes before deciding to extract Kyle from the house.  With a little irritation, I left Storm in the car to go back inside and find out what was taking Kyle so long, even thought I new it wasn’t a mystery.  During the entire time it took me to get my stuff together, wrangle up a cat and head out to the car and wait on him, Kyle still didn’t even get his guitar in the case!  He was glued to the TV.  I said, “Come on Kyle, it’s getting late.” as I turned off the TV to show my sense of urgency and irritation.  Just then, he jumped up and gathered his things and headed out with me.  As I proceeded to board the car, I was surprised to find it locked.  Locked?  Yep Locked!  At first I was sincerely confused, ‘Did I lock the door?’ Where are my keys?’ and the thoughts circulated until I came to the realization that this was BAD.  Instantly feeling sick, I found myself staring at Storm on the other side of the window with the car keys in the ignition.  I never thought about Storm hitting the lock button on the door and trapping herself inside! What the heck?

Poor Storm didn’t understand what had happened.  She was pawing at the window toward me and meowing.  She wanted out!  I wanted in!  O crap, really?  Not to mention, just before we left I didn’t realize she we up under the recliner and when I went to stand up, she got caught.  Yikes!


My sleepy kitten 2012

Ok, I’ll admit my first reaction was to yell at Kyle.  Now on my defense, I said, “Kyle!  This is what happens when you’re slow and everyone is waiting on you.”  Only because Kyle is notorious for being slow moving and he takes FOREVER to get his crap together when we’re leaving.  On HIS defense, I know he doesn’t like to leave us and it’s his way of delaying.  I did comment, “I’m not saying it was your fault for the car being locked, but this wouldn’t have happened if you moved your feet!”  Again, not nice words especially since he didn’t do it, and in fact it was my fault for leaving the cat in the car with the keys.  But regardless, I’m human, and at that point, a tired grumpy one.

Evidently, while I was outside trying to think of a reasonable solution without freaking out, Kyle went inside to get my mom.  Later, mom told me that Kyle was saying, “It’s all my fault Gigi, It’s all my fault!” as he cried and whimpered.  At that moment I might not have noticed the obviously upset child, but now when I hear the story, it does break my heart.  He felt so bad!  It really wasn’t his fault at all.  It was an unforeseen accident.

Being desperate, I even tried to coax Storm to step on the button on the door.  I knew it was a long shot but I had to try something.  Even Kyle tried it too.  We checked all the doors and window because sometimes I am known to leave a window or two open.  In fact, while we were at Idlewild that day, I came back to the car with my back window down.  My car was an open book all day, but not now, now it was like Fort Knox.

Mom came out and said, “Let me take you to your house, don’t you have a spare car key?”  Just then, Kyle and I looked at each other because that morning when we were on our way to Idlewild, I happen to notice my spare house key in my consult.  I told mom, “When I came back from Seattle, my neighbor gave me back my spare key when I was heading out of the driveway.  I just dropped it in the console.”  All while I turned my head to stare at the sealed up car containing a stressed out cat scratching to get out.

So let’s get this straight,  I have my cat locked in the car, in my parents driveway, with the car keys in the ignition, with the house keys on that key ring, the extra set of house keys in the console, and I didn’t know where my extra car keys were located.  Really?  Not to mention it’s going on 9:30 in the evening, nearing my bedtime.

Mom tried to lighten the situation, more for Kyle’s sake.  She said, “You know Kyle, you did the same thing to us in pappy’s truck when you were a baby at the Piper Reunion.”  Mom gave him a very warming and understanding smile.  She said, “O it happens to everyone, even your Aunt Heather has locked her keys in the car.”  followed by Kyle saying with a quivering voice, “Ya Gigi, but at least a person locked in a car would understand to unlock the door.”  O my poor little man!  That really melted my heart!  I could tell he was not only upset because I was, but because Storm was a little on edge and he was nervous for her.


Storm hanging out on some good reading material 2012

Mom, still trying to lighten the mood said, “Well, let’s think about this.  At least it’s not really hot, the sun is down, so we have a little bit of time to figure this out.”At one point I said, “Ok, what are my choices?  Either I break the car window to get in or I break into my house.”  Mom interjected by saying, “Well I can call a locksmith.”  I stopped her by saying, “But I have no idea how long it will take him to get out here and who knows how long to get in the car.  Plus it might be cheaper to pay for a broken window”  At that point, I thought if only I could get in my house, I might have the spare key to the car in my key display.  Mom again suggested for me to get in the car and she would drive me to my house.  However, I didn’t want Storm left alone.  I said, “It’s a waste of time for you to drive me to my house.  I would rather someone stay her entertaining Storm.  Give me the keys mom, I’ll be right back.”  Reluctantly mom handed over her car keys, to a very frazzled upset driver.  At that point, she knew I was going to go mock speeds to get to my house.  And I knew she knew that, because she said, “Please be careful.” with a serious look projected toward me,  as I grabbed the keys and threw myself in her car saying, “Ya Ya”.  Then I heard a “Do you have your phone?” as I nodded before backing out of the driveway.

Admittingly, I did floor it.  I don’t think mom’s car has ever exceeded the speed limit.  As long as I’m focused, I feel fine driving, which means no talking.  Perfect, since I was by myself!  Now things would have been different if Kyle was with me.  Even being upset and stressed out, I would have been more careful.  But he wasn’t with me so I was free to ride.

As I pulled in my driveway, I remembered I had another spare key at a local friend’s.  Excellent!  Once I retrieved that piece of the puzzle, I entered the house.  I immediately went to my key display, courtesy of my friend Lisa Zettelmayer who purchased it for me as a house warming gift, and started rummaging.  At that moment, I felt like light rays of sunlight were shining on me with music singing Halleluiah, like I just found the Holy Grail.  Now some stress was exiting stage right.  I almost grabbed my extra Honda key but then realized I needed my Nissan key.  Found it!  Great! Now let’s end this nightmare.

All along, God must have been on my side, because I never had to sit at a red light the entire trip, no wasn’t really any traffic, and all seemed to be turning for the better.  While I was on my way back to mom and dad’s, I wanted to call and let them know I had the key.  But alas being distracted would not have been a safe move, so I chose to wait for a red light, which never really came.


Typical cat, sleeping on the job. Storm 2012

As I pulled in the driveway, no one was out there!  Kyle immediately ran out  when he saw the headlights.  I jumped out of mom’s car saying, “Why aren’t you keeping Storm company?”  Looking sick and clearly upset, he replied, “Aunt Heather, Gigi told me to come in.  I wasn’t trying to be mean.  I tried to get her to stand on the unlock button.”  Ok another set of poorly chosen words.  Poor kid!

Now after all this stress and worrying, the funny part of the story.  I get the key and hit the unlock button and nothing happened.  Kyle and I just stood there stunned.  Then I remembered, I switched keys because the battery died on that key.  Kyle and I both stood there looking puzzled like ‘Now what?’.  I could tell his heart just sank when our only solution didn’t work.  The funny thing was, I didn’t think to use the key like it was designed to be used.  We live too much in an electronic remote control age.  What really struck me as humerus, I don’t think Kyle has ever seen someone use a key to unlock a car door.  Too funny!  He is certainly a child of the times.  After my moment of idiocy passed, I used the key to free the wild cat.

I don’t know who was happier, Storm or Kyle.  Or maybe Seven, when he saw I came back.  NOW, we were ready to head out.  During our car ride it was my chance to make sure Kyle was aware it was not his fault and I wasn’t mad at him.  I did say, “Well, I guess God wanted this to be a learning lesson.”  He said, “Ya Aunt Heather, it could have been worse.  It could have been in the middle of the day when it was really hot.  Or the car could have been running.  That would have been bad!”  I must say, he was right!  That all would have certainly been worse.  Ok, I learned my lesson.  Note to self, never leave the keys in the car with the cat inside.

Another funny part of the story. Kyle informed me that at one point Storm turned on the lights.  Still trying to lighten the mood, I said, “Was she planning on going for a spin?”  Kyle snickered, more out of relief than humor.  But he did manage to throw a smile my way.  I told him I don’t like him stressing so bad, especially over things out of his control.  I commented that moving forward, instead of worrying, I want him to say a prayer, or many prayers.  He needs to realize that ultimately God has control and he can change the situation in a heartbeat.  Have faith in Him.

Later on when I talked to mom about the situation, she said that Kyle was pacing back-and-forth while I was gone.  I guess he even asked my mom, “Gigi what kinds of toys do cats really like to play with?  What’s Storm’s favorite toy?”  Mom asked him why and he said that and apparently he was going to use it to distract Storm and try and get her to stand on the unlock button.

Mom: “Well she likes her fishing pole.”
Kyle: “I don’t know where that is.”
Mom: “What about her mouse.”
Kyle: “Ok”

Mom said Kyle would take Seven outside with him since he is scared of the dark, would pace around and then come back in.  She said, he was also waiting by the phone, waiting for me to call.  And I did manage to get the phone to ring once, but then the light changed before I even came to a stop, so I hung up.  I guess Kyle was right there and answered the phone.  Kyle walked around the house with his head hung low the entire time I was gone.

I am blessed to have such a caring and heartfelt little man!  I love Kyle with everything I have and then some.  He is a special kid.  I wish he wouldn’t carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, he’s eleven and he’s always been like that.  If that was me in his shoes, I would have been upset, but I don’t really internalize stress, not like he does. Dad was mad at me, blaming me for making him worried, however  I informed the old man that it was a learning lesson for all of us.  God spoke loudly and clearly!  Point taken.

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

Storm Has Arrived!

They say the test of literary power is whether a man can write an inscription. I say, ‘Can he name a kitten?’  ~Samuel Butler


Me & Storm

Friday’s tend to be a whirl wind of hustle and bustle and this past one became a tornado.   Right after I picked up the package, (Kyle) we ran to the grocery store, then back to mom and dad’s to make dinner.  Sometime in the middle I had to let the dogs out, and start a fire in the backyard for hot dogs and mountain pies, as promised to Kyle.  Yikes!  I was seriously in high gear, tripping over a ten year old and two dogs in the kitchen, who all wanted to be planted up my butt and I just wanted to hurry up and get out the door to get a run in before dark.  In the middle of this somewhat organized chaos, Kyle told me a friend of mine was on my phone.  She informed me that she had a kitten for me.  What a surprise!  My friend Holsters found me a cute little tiger stripped kitten!

Then to add to the events, Holsters sent me a text message containing a picture of the three cute little grey tiger stripped kittens with blue eyes.  At this point, Kyle wanted to know what my excitement was when I was on the phone and I told him about the surprise.  Now Kyle is equally as excited as I.

Once Holsters gave me the call, I didn’t know what to do.  I just started the fire in the backyard, mom and dad weren’t home yet, and dinner was half done on the stove.  I made baked stuffed zucchini and a cowboy casserole, both found on Pinterest and both were really good.  Being informed that we had to pick up the kitten tonight, or schedule another time to do so, which I didn’t want to wait, I started to evaluate my situation and concoct a new plan.  Since mom and dad still weren’t home, being late from work, Kyle was going to have to come with me to pick up the new bundle.  Then, I was going to bring them both back to the house and hopefully someone resembling an adult figure was going to be home, so I could leave for a run.  Informing Kyle of my plans, he says to me, “Aunt Heather since the dogs are pretty much like watch dogs and they are pretty protective of me, could you just leave me here with Seven and Scooby?  Gigi and pappy will be home soon.”  What?  I said, “I don’t think so buddy, they are dogs, not adults and you are ten, not thirteen.”  He just kind of shrugged his shoulders.  Then maybe five minutes later, just as I turned off the stove and was getting ready to put a screen over the fire, Kyle said, “You can go Aunt Heather.” I said, “You’re not staying by yourself in the house.”  He spoke up correcting my assumption by saying, “No pappy just pulled in.”  Perfect timing!  Just as my dad walked in the door, I heard Kyle say, “Guess what Aunt Hot Dogs got us?  A kitten, there are three of them we can have.”  Dad just said, “O ya?” as I basically ran out the door with excitement, telling dad I’ll be right back.

Once I got to Holly’s, I made up my mind that we were going to get our run in first, or else it would never happen and we have a race to run this Friday.  Apparently at this point I was so excited, that when we exited Holly’s house getting ready to add some mileage to our shoes, I noticed my car door was just hanging open.  I didn’t even remember to close the door.  O boy!  Can’t tell when my mind was elsewhere.


Storm's siblings... how could I resist? 6/22/12

As we ran the neighborhood, we actually pasted the house with the kittens.  At this point, Holly and I were both painfully excited and couldn’t wait any longer,  We cut our run short with the sheer anticipation of meeting a new member of the Piper household and headed back to get the new addition.

The owners of the kittens were very nice people and let me pick one out.  Even though all three kittens were very similar looking, I did bond with one instantly.  The gentlemen, which I don’t remember his name, probably because I practically knocked down in the front door as I barged into the house, showed me the kitten’s mom.  She was mostly all white.  Interesting.  They also had a young son, who was so very sweet.  I checked in with their son, who looked to be about five or so, to make sure it was alright with him to take a kitten.  He gave me a big smile and nodded.  Too cute!  As I exited the house with my new pile of fur, I noticed that I never even removed my shoes at the door!  Yikes!  When I’m excited, I apparently become very rude.  Their house was spotless and here I’m standing in my shoes that just traipsed around the neighborhood and still pouring with sweat.  My sincerest apologies!  Soon I will have to stop by and bring the little boy something and let them know how the kitten was doing.


Me & Storm 6/22/12

The kitten rode back with me in my lap, meowing a little here and there.  As I walked in the front door, Kyle was there eagerly greeting us.  He said, “Come on let’s show Gigi and pappy.”  Well, dad was already asleep on the couch and I didn’t want to wake him so we headed out back to find mom.  Mom wasn’t too thrilled, although from my understanding, she was more relieved that I only had one little bundle of fluff and not three.

One thing I can count on, is getting the complete conversation regarding the kitten from Kyle, while I was gone.  Kyle did not disappoint.  He said, “Gigi said you can take all the cats to your house if you want them so bad.”  What is too funny, Kyle is not shy about calling anyone out on what they say.  Fact is fact and if you said it, he will completely reiterate it and say it back to your face, which he did, in front of mom, who just sat there and rolled her eyes.  Kyle instantly told me that “Gigi’s not really happy about the kitten.”  Then mom said, as if waiting for someone to take her side, “What did pappy have to say about this?”.  Kyle said, “He said, that’s good, Aunt Heather needs a cat.”  That’s my dad!  He told Kyle, after Her Name was Pudd’in passed, that we need a cat in the house.

When talking to Nicole on the phone, she snapped out saying, “Aunt Heather maybe you could clean out the litter box instead of Gigi.” and I simply stated “I have this gag reflex thing, it makes it hard for me to clean out the litter box.  I used to years ago, but it’s hard for me now.”  Kyle quickly justified my statement by saying, “Don’t worry Aunt Heather, I have this gag reflex thing too.  Once when I was on the bus and there was this smell, I don’t know what it was but it made me gag and I threw up.”   O Kyle!  That is too funny!

Me, mom and Kyle sat around the fire talking to Aunt Nikki on speaker phone thinking of names for the new arrival.  My sister is the queen with naming animals.  She’s actually named quite a few of my cats over the years including Draco, Vega, Deneb and Pudd’in.  In fact, the only cat I had, that I can remember naming all on my own was my precious Morticia.  As we started to think of names, I naturally went to my books throwing out names such as Katniss (Hunger Games), Lucinda (Fallen), Esme (Twilight) and I really liked the name Neville (Harry Potter).

Then as the names continued to fly, but not really clicking, Kyle being Mr. Logical, said, “Umm let me think Aunt Heather.  We call Seven and Scooby, Thunder and Lightening.” as the thoughts were forming in his head, Nicole, on speaker phone said, “Storm”.  I perked up saying, “Ya, from the X-men!”  She quickly popped my bubble by saying, “Well, no I was just thinking of a storm.  But I guess.”  Kyle’s eyes got really bright and said, “Storm!”   As I laughed, I said, “Umm I don’t know Kyle, I really like Neville.”  He instantly said, “Nope, it’s Storm!”


Me & Storm in the car 6/22/12

Ok, I’m not really sure why Kyle was telling me what my kitten’s name was, but it didn’t surprise me.  Nicole and I started to reminisce when Kyle named Scooby.  You see he was a big fan of Scooby Doo, the cartoon.  At that time, Kyle was probably around four years old and he gave us a choice for the dog’s name of Scooby or Flame On, from The Fantastic Four.  Everyone unanimously agreed on, Scooby.  Nicole and I laughed and told Kyle, “Could you image calling the dog, ‘Here Flame On'”  We were cracking up!  Then Kyle spoke up saying, “Ok Aunt Heather, the kitten’s name is Storm.”  I said, “Why?” and he instantly said, “Because you got to pick Scooby’s name, so I get to pick the kitten’s name.”  O Kyle!  He is too much!

Needless to say, I really didn’t have much of a say so in the matter.  Kyle instantly started to call the kitten Storm and he informed me that the kitten is already used to her name so we have to stick with it.  Clever Kyle!  Well, the name did wear off on me and stuck.  Storm has arrived!

As we departed on Sunday night, Kyle explained to me that Storm was more attached to me because I drove the kitten home.   Then he immediately made a comparison to when he rode home holding Scooby as a puppy.  He said, “That’s why me and Scooby are so close.  How did you get Storm home?”  I replied, “I held her in my lap as I drove.”  Reassuring his thoughts, he said, “Ya Aunt Heather you held her when you brought her home.  So now she’s going to be close to you.”  Apparently, according to Kyle when you bring an animal home, while sitting on your lap, it solidifies the bond between the pet and owner.  Interesting theory.  Is it like making ‘the bond with the halo’? (humor reference to Avatar).

Well after an eventful weekend, Storm has warmed her way into our hearts already.  Even Seven seems was behaving and now has taken the responsibility of watching the kitten and following her around.  Scooby checked out Storm when I first brought her in the house, but then could care less.  Now whenever we want to find Storm, we just ask Seven, “Where’s the kitty?” and he starts sniffing around and points her out.  Yep, I think this is going to work.  One of the best surprises!  Thanks Aunt Hot Dogs!

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

Her Name Was Pudd’in

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


Pudd'in doing her usual routine 2012

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


Ryan holding Jake as a puppy c.1990

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

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

Chad Nicole Piper Jill Aunt Heather Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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