Moving On Too Soon – Thomas Watson Piper

Death is a distant rumor to the young. ~Andrew A. Rooney

March 12, 2001 – May 9, 2014

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Thomas Piper – image courtesy of Terri Lynn Lewis on Facebook.

Death is not an easy part of life, however there are some circumstances, which are harder than others.  This one is truly heartbreaking.  I want to send my deepest sympathy and condolences to Thomas’ family and friends.

My cousin Thomas Watson Piper was killed in a car accident on Friday, May 9th.  I don’t know much about the details, but like my mom says, “It doesn’t change anything anyway.”

Stepping back to understand how we’re related, since there are so many Piper’s, here is a very brief general outline of our family tree.  My pap (Walter Piper) had a brother, Merle Piper, my uncle.  Again there are a lot of other siblings but I’m just tracing one line down.  His wife was my Aunt Mary and among all the kids, they had Richard, who later married Eileen.  They had a son, Aaron Piper, who in turn had a son Thomas Piper.

Unfortunately, with such a large family we each get lost in the shuffle, or in Thomas’ case, live out of state in North Carolina.  I never really had the opportunity to get to know my little cousin, but regardless he is still family.  Perhaps over the years I met him, but I am saddened to say, I truly don’t remember.

Again not knowing a lot about this young man, I can say for certain he was loved and seemed like a pretty good kid.  Following Aaron’s Facebook posts helped to keep me in the know with my distant relatives.

It’s true, I did attend Eileen’s funeral, Thomas’ grandmother, but those are moments when I put my head down, pay my respects and give support to the family, before scooting out the back door, so to speak.  I know getting reacquainted with my relatives is never on the top of my list.

When I heard about Thomas’ tragedy, of course I was saddened, not wanting anyone to endure such an ordeal.  Admittedly, the details of the misfortune really hit home with me.

Tommy was only thirteen years old, about the same age as Kyle is now.  That really puts things into perspective.  As mentioned earlier, he died in a car accident.  Now that paints a whole new scene of nagging sorrow and depression, since loosing Ryan, Kyle’s dad in a car accident.

My heart bleeds for the family and friends of the deceased.  I will continue to reach out through prayers and thoughts during this time.

God Speed Thomas Watson Piper!   

Online condolences may be made by visiting www.millerfhc.com.

Here is the complete obituary as well as a screen shot below.

Thomas Piper Obituary Aunt Heather Piper

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

25th Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby

The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.  ~William Wordsworth

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Grant Olczak getting ready to catch the big fish at the 25th Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby. 5/10/14

The 25th Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby was a one-hundred percent success!  Did it rain?  Sure!  But that didn’t stop our little fishermen and the families from getting together and enjoying themselves.

It was actually a perfect cool morning to start the Fishing Derby.  The rain held off for a little while and came and went throughout the day, eventually letting up in the evening.

Kyle had a spectacular time!  On the contrary to years past, this time he was the fishing king.  Not in respect to winning the biggest trout, for that honor was ultimately awarded to Chuck Webb for his eighteen and half inch trout.  Nicely done!

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Dad, Kyle, Olivia are prepped & ready to start the Fishing Derby! 5/10/14

Nope, Kyle ruled in a different way, in terms of fish biting and reeling them in.  I know he was up to at least nine fish.  Of course we could only keep three and released the rest, but that didn’t matter to Kyle, he was having a blast!

Dad was helping Kyle, and Casey was right beside us helping Grant and Olivia.  Occasionally, dad was assisting with baiting Grant’s line, pulling in fish for Olivia or untangling line for Amelia and her friend.  Somehow, I became the net girl.  Dad would yell, “Heather, get the net!” or “Heather, where’s the net?” or “Heather, help them out with their fish”.  Even Dave, a.k.a. Boo would inquire about the usage of our net.  I felt like a dog running back and forth trying to catch fish.  It really was an entertaining time.  I loved seeing the kids having so much fun and dad enjoying the same.

Kyle, Grant and Olivia each caught a Palomino, which results in a small prize.  I believe Olivia caught two.  Kyle’s prize of choice, Bait Lure, which fell out of his pocket later on in the day and was never found again.  Although this minor instance didn’t stop Kyle from telling his tales of the fish reeled in.

During the day, while shooting the breeze with other Fishing Derby enthusiasts, it was brought to my attention that Tricia Sutton Elliott enjoys reading my blog posts.

Thanks Tricia!  I appreciate your feedback and interest in reliving my silly and sometimes unique stories told from my point-of-view.  I know on occasion I can get pretty animated with my descriptions and details, so I hope I do you proud with this one.

I did promise Tricia a stellar blog post.  Well, there really wasn’t much in terms of excitement throughout the day, but it doesn’t mean it was boring.

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Grant & Casey unhooking his catch! Fishing Derby 5/10/14

It’s true, the day consisted of the usual, fishing, food, drinks, fishing and more food, food, food.  This year, Jimmy Singer added to our entertainment and nostalgia with a video slide show from Fishing Derby’s past.  He made a couple beautiful videos, complete with music and pictures he scanned and organized into an amusing digital flashback.  It was nice to be under the pavilion with everyone, pointing out familiar faces that have grown up over the years and those who are no longer with us.  Truly a sweet tribute.  Nicely done Jimmy!

Now to a silly story.  Nothing is ever simple when you get Kyle and me together.  But then again, that’s the fun of hanging out with my little man.

I let Kyle run around and play with the kids well into the night.  The campfire was blazing and everyone was enjoying small talk and silliness, so naturally I joined in.  Even though I looked down to see it was after eight at night, I never said a word, figuring I’d wait for Kyle to determine our time of departure, even though my bed was calling my name.

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Getting ready to start the 25th Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby. 5/10/14

Eventually, I by nine-thirty or so, Kyle was ready for bed.  Keep in mind we got there at 7:30 am.  Making our way through the mud and slop created by the falling rain throughout the day, we headed for my car, which was parked on the far side of the pavilion.  While heading int that direction, we passed the pond to only spark our memory.  THE FISH!

Kyle’s catches from the day were still chained waiting in the water.  Yikes!  If I remembered earlier, I would have gutted the fish and cleaned them in advance.

Now we needed to literally find the fish.  Picture the two of us, exhausted, in the pitch black, up by the pond, using my iPhone light to guide us along the path, to find the chain leading into the water holding two trout and a Palomino.

It took a little back and forth, and cat-like vision on my part, but we found our slimy friends from the depths of the pond and headed to car, to only realize a minor problem.  I didn’t bring a bucket or a bag to transport the fish!  O crap!  Even in the darkness I could see Kyle giving me an ornery grin.

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Beth Planinsek upfront, behind Cindy & Dave Planinsek & Barb Planinsek to the left. Fishing Derby 5/10/14

He suggested I place the fish on the car floor.  My answer came to me in less then a fraction of a second.  No!  Actually, heck NO!  What to do?  I knew leaving the fish with someone else was not an option and neither one of us felt like heading back to the late night party to ask around for a solution, so I came up with my own.  Hang the fish outside the car.

I know, sounds funny, and believe you me, it was!  Originally I wanted Kyle to hold onto the chain that held the fish, but he wouldn’t, so I did.  I simply wound down the window, hung the fish out, held tightly onto the chain (praying I wouldn’t accidentally drop them while driving) and headed to my parents house, about five minutes away.

Everyone once in a while a fish would kick and scare me.  It was dark out, so I’m sure the passing cars didn’t see my new decor hanging out the window, but if they did they probably brushed it off as late night eyes playing tricks on them.

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Dave Planinsek reviewing the rules before the bugle blows to being the Fishing Derby 5/10/14

Kyle and I were cracking up!  While cruising along it suddenly dawned on me, we were heading into Youngstown (Pennsylvania, no we didn’t drive into Ohio) on a Saturday night and it might be busy with restaurant traffic.  Immediately, Kyle and I noticed the light turned yellow and then red, stopping us in our tracks.  Yes, being first in line at the four way intersection, under the street lamps, I sat in my car holding onto a chain with three dead fish.  That was too much for us, we were dying, laughing at my solution.

Then to add to the funniness, Kyle said in the most sarcastic dry tone, “Well, this isn’t awkward.”  Hilarious!

Eventually we made it to mom and dad’s and the next morning Kyle and I cleaned the fish for dinner and all worked out.

On a side note, I want to give big kudos to Kyle for a number of reasons.  First he really was on his best behavior!  I found out that sometime during the day, Kyle – twelve years old assisted Grant – six years old and Olivia – nine years old, (I think) with untangling their fishing lines, baiting their hooks and casting, (fishing continues till 5:00 pm) when no one was around.  Then, later on in the evening, Mrs. Tricia Sutton Elliott herself approached Kyle and me and thanked Kyle for playing with her son Jacob, who is nine, and for being a friend to him.  Tricia told me they played very well together.  Way to go buddy!

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Pan of the 25th Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby. 5/10/14

On another side note, before the prizes were raffled off of the kids table, I was joking with Kyle how much I like the fishing vest displayed for some lucky winner.  Truly I liked it, but joking because I didn’t expect him to give up a prize for himself to get me one.  Low and behold he walked up to me with a HUGE smile on his face to present me with the fishing vest.  I was totally elated!  However, I told him he didn’t have to, and to put it back and get something he wanted.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Na it’s ok.”  Thanks Kyle!  You are too sweet!  I appreciate you thinking of me.

While writing this post I heard Kyle relive his catches from the previous day with my mom, who didn’t make it up until after the start of the fishing.  He said, “It was good teamwork on both parts… the fish jumping up in the air and catching my line and me reeling them in.”  Too much!  Dad was getting a kick out of Kyle’s fishing experience.

I’m glad it was such a fun and relaxing day for everyone.  Again a special thanks to Cindy and Dave Planinsek for really being the heart and soul behind the Fishing Derby and continuing the tradition!

See everyone next year!

Below is a video of Ken Planinsek going through the family tree and giving a brief history of the Planinsek Pavilion and the Fishing Derby.  Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/3kQbCeoSfSc

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

The Fishing Derby Story

You never realize how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes.  ~Tom Wolfe

Stacey-Olczak-1995-Winner Aunt Heather Piper

My cousin Stacey Olczak. She won the 1995 Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby!

Another Mother’s Day is upon us and that means the Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby!  The 25th Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby to be exact.

Participating in this event year-over-over, I take it for granted.  But it does take a lot of work and effort to organize this tradition.

About this time last year, I was curious with respect to the origins of this family fun event.  “How did it start?” and “Who started it?”

Since the Fishing Derby is now a quarter of a century old, and I’m a little bit older than that, it doesn’t take a mathematician to realize I was indeed around for the event’s inception.  However, that was twenty-five years ago when I was entering my teenage years and doing my own thing.  Kyle’s age now.

So what DO I know?  I know my cousin Casey Olczak (Kyle’s godfather) won the very first Fishing Derby and my brother, (Kyle’s dad) attended the weekend fun when he was younger.  Aside from that, I don’t know much about the origin of the Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby or who’s idea sparked a tradition that is going strong today, and by the grace of God will continue to do so.

For these details, I reached out to my good friend, Nina Enfinger, former Planinsek, a pretty solid source to satisfy my curiosity!

On a side note, with this blog I not only record life events and lessons learned for Kyle to read at a later date, but I also try to anticipate future questions and clarify details, so Kyle has a strong understanding of his past and his true family and friends.  It occurred to me, he might want to know about the Fishing Derby, like myself.

From what I’ve been told, Dave Planinsek started this Mother’s Day tradition after attending a similar event.  He saw how much fun those kids had and how everyone enjoyed themselves.  Take that idea along with a place to have the Fishing Derby, the Planinsek Pavilion, then a seemingly simply tradition was created.  The Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby, named after his dad.

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Dave Planinsek going over the rules before blowing the bugle to start the fishing Derby. 2012

The Fishing Derby always starts on the Friday night before Mother’s Day, pitching the tents, a big bonfire, plenty of food, and a bunch of kids running around playing tag, dodge ball or whatever else they dream up.  It’s five dollars to purchase a ticket to the Fishing Derby and everyone brings a covered dish.  There’s always homemade popcorn made on the fire and the raffling of donated items begins.  The adults eat and drink and shoot the breeze until late into the night before retiring to their tents or for the less die hard, to their nice warm beds to only start again the next morning.

Saturday starts fresh at around 6:00 am or so, with the smell of breakfast cooking over the fire, typically scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes and french toast.   Someone always brings fresh doughnuts and fruit, plus the assortment of homemade covered dishes from the night before and new ones appearing throughout the day.

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Planinsek’s lined up, celebrating the 18th Annual Louise Planinsek Fishing Derby. (top row) Jimmy Singer, Sean Michael Lynch, Patrick Lynch, Amelia Enfinger, Jenny Singer, Rachel Campbell, Dave (Boo) Planinsek.  (bottom row) Jacob Singer, Lizzie Planinsek, Will Enfinger, Lexie Planinsek & Natalie Rodgers  5/13/07

From early in the morning till right before the bugle is blown, (yes they actually have a horn they blow!) all participants set up their chairs and fishing gear around the pond.  The derby starts at 9:00 am after the acknowledgments are announced, thanking those who helped out or assisted in some way to make the day a success.

Now let’s not get silly, the area isn’t set up ready on command and the pond isn’t stocked by chance.  The Planinsek’s really do a lot of leg work to get this event together.  Family and friends help clean up the Pavilion beforehand by stacking firewood and stocking the pond.  This usually takes place a few weeks before the Fishing Derby.  Like I’ve said, this is a well planned and much anticipated activity every year.

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Congratulations Emma Jackman! She won the 2010 Louise Planinsek Fishing Derby

Let’s not forget, all the leg work to gather the donated gifts and gift baskets for the raffles, purchasing the toys for the kid’s raffle, getting the breakfast food, the paper utensils, the signage, and I’m sure there is a lot more that are hidden behind the scenes that doesn’t even scratch the surface.  Not to lessen any efforts from anyone, but I was informed that Cindy Planinsek is responsible for a majority of this pre-planning work.  Thanks Cindy!

At this time, after acknowledgments, they also recognize friends and family who have moved on in life, giving a moment of silence.  Then the rules are recited and the derby is ready to begin.

Forgive me for butchering anything up or missing any key parts, but it’s pretty straight forward and simple.  All participants must be 16 years of age and younger.  Since it’s a small pond, with an army of little ones who may not have the best casting skills, the adults can help the child cast.  This makes sense since the adults are the ones who have to untangle lines, remove bobbers and hooks from tree branches and help bait the hooks.  All participants need to reel in their catch, while usually the adult waits with a net to again assist.  No adult can be caught with a fishing pole without being accompanied by a child!

The goal is to catch the largest rainbow trout.  There are also additional prizes for the largest Palomino and other species.  But the coveted trophy and the honor of having his or her name recorded in the books is strictly for the trout.  Naturally, all the fish can be caught and kept for frying up or released to be caught again.

Over the years, I’ve heard stories upon stories of tales from Fishing Derby’s past.  It’s so much fun to hear all the tall tales while sitting around a campfire.

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Mick, Lexis, Lizzie, Wendy Planinsek.  Lexie Planinsek won the 2010 Fishing Derby!

One story, they do share right before the kids cast their first lines of the day, more to demonstrate safety and being aware of ones surroundings, is the face hook story.  This story really makes you think before you cast your line!

As you might have guessed it involves a hook and a face.  About forty some years ago Dave Planinsek hooked his Aunt Sally in the cheek or the nose or some facial feature with a fishing hook while he was casting his line.  Ouch!  Can you imagine having a fishing hook in the face?  Can you imagine being the one who did it?  I’ve caught my own fingers, but that’s pretty serious!

Now the activities vary from year-to-year, but the theme remains the same.  In addition to fishing, which is the heart and soul of the day, Mick Planinsek usually gives hay rides and the kids always get a mean game of dodge ball going.

With twenty-five years worth of history, I can’t outline all the winners but here are the recent few.  A few years ago Joshua Enfinger (Nina’s son) won with a twenty-four and half inch rainbow trout.  The year after Lexie Planinsek (Mick’s daughter) won (not sure of the size).  Our last year’s champion, Ryan Hiles won with a twenty-three inch rainbow trout.  Each year it seems like new records are broken, but the fun always remains the same.  Winners have gone from seven and eight years old to sixteen, the maximum age for the participants.  There’s a huge age span, so it’s anyone’s trophy.

The Planinsek family is a great group of people, a truly sincere hardworking dedicated fun bunch.  They are responsible for creating the memories that last eternity.  Thanks so much!  Happy fishing!

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

Go Fly a Kite

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kyle with a goat at the auction in Maryland. 2014

Last Saturday dad asked for assistance in getting the garden ready to plant.  What needed done?  He wanted to add sand to loosen the soil, peat moss and yes manure.  Cow manure to be exact.  Our garden isn’t exactly a small rinky dinky plot of land and yet it’s not an acre large area either.  It’s a relatively nice size roughly twenty-five feet by fifty feet garden.

Naturally, we expected Kyle to help gather the material required for good soil and spread the ingredients on the ground before my cousin Jim plowed it to mix it all together.

Was my almost thirteen year old excited to participate?  Nope!  Was my little man helpful?  Kind of!  Does Kyle need the exercise and the work ethic?  You bet!

Lately, Kyle has been a bit “lippy” with us and sporting an attitude.  Yes, I am well aware he is nearly in his teenage years, but it’s still not right.  Especially for Kyle to give his pappy such a hard time.  He does so much for that kid, going above and beyond.  Come on, it’s not like we were asking him to run a marathon.  We just wanted a little bit of good old fashion hard work and nice family time together.  Win win in my opinion.

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Great fall day on the ridge. Uncle Walter’s field to the right. 2013

After the feet dragging and moaning to get dressed and out the door, we started to have a nice time running around to the different lawn care stores, picking up things here and there.  Dad has a one ton dump truck we road around in, squeezed in the front seat.  It was never a dull moment and I thought we might just have a nice time finishing up our tasks.  I was wrong.

On a side note, while getting the sand at the Kingston Supply Company, dad spotted this little forklift for sale.  It reminded me of Guido and Luigi from the movie Cars.  “I’d like to have that!” dad blurts out.  Kyle and me bust out laughing picturing dad driving that little forklift around for no reason.

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Kyle asked me to stop so he could get a picture of the sun shining through the trees. I took the opportunity to snap a picture of him getting a picture. 2012

Once we got back to the house and started to unload everything, Kyle started his whining and complaining.  Just like he does before our hikes.  You have to fight with him and push him in a direction before he comes around.  Personally, I hate arguing with the kid, but insisting he gets some exercise by doing real work and spending quality time with the family and learning how to farm are all good enough reasons to push back when he starts his crap.  That’s how much I truly care for Kyle, I’m willing to get a headache for his own good.

What did he do?  The usual.  He didn’t want to walk the few yards to the garden.  He didn’t want to help shovel the sand.  He didn’t want to help spread the peat moss.  Then, when he did help with the peat moss, he spread the material in the most inefficient and slowest moving method known to man.  That’s Kyle’s way of being difficult.  He knows very well it drives me crazy and ticks me off.  Yet, I tried to hold my cool, well after I had to yell a number of times for him to do something.  It just isn’t right, here is my nephew who is three months shy from turning thirteen, having my dad who is in his sixties do most of the work and the heavy lifting.  Not to mention me, who is also out performing the kid.  Not right!  He needs to step it up.  His dad, Ryan was not like that at all!  He was a really hard worker, from at least the age of nine, he was working in the sawmill.  I guess that’s another story.

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Perfect fall day at mom & dad’s. 2013

On another side note, that Sunday we stopped out to a friend of dad’s.  He owns a farm.  The perfect place to load up the truck with fresh wet ripe cow manure for the garden.  We got into talking to Dwayne and offered Kyle’s services for any work needed on the farm, free of charge of course.  Dad and I both agree Kyle needs to learn to work, or he’ll never appreciate anything.  Dwayne couldn’t have agreed more.

Believe it or not, once we worked Kyle a little, just enough to get his blood pumping, his attitude changed.  Then he even surprised me.  Once finished, we both headed back down to the house.  Kyle actually grabbed his kite mom got him for Easter and began to put it together to take outside.  What?  He didn’t just jump on his computer and play games or flop himself down on the couch in front of the television?  Nope!  It was a beautiful sunny day and Kyle must have felt good and wanted to fly his kite.

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Seven & Scooby running free in the field… enjoying the fall day. 2013

On the third side note, when Kyle was a little tyke of about three or four, I took him out in my parent’s front yard to fly a kite he received for Easter.  Always carrying on the family traditions!  At the time, we had Jake’s (Ryan’s beagle) wire run strung up across the yard.  The kite slipped out of my hands and was captured by the wire run to loosely remain there with the wind whipping around it.  Quickly, I grabbed a chair to give me some height so I could retrieve our entertainment.  Kyle was so stressed out, he ran in the house, woke up my dad who was napping, to blurt out, “Pappy, quick!  It’s Aiya.  Quick pappy she needs help!”  Poor dad probably thought something happened to me.  Just then pap surfaced on the front porch to see me reaching for the kite.  Kyle was below my feet, trying to push me up.  It was so stinking cute!  He was trying to lift me up by my ankles.  Dad and I got a kick out of him!

For this past Easter, Mom got Kyle two kites.  So I joined him in the kite flying fun.  We all stayed outside in the perfect sunny mild temperature day and watched the multicolored birds (that’s what the pictures were on the plastic kites) sore through the air.  We were out for hours.  In fact, I had to go inside before getting a sunburn and Kyle continued guiding his kite to the sky.  That is until it landed in a tree and broke free from Kyle’s string.  Who cares.  The kid was having a blast being outside and enjoying nature and spending time with the family without distractions and the toxins of electronics clouding his brain.  His muscles were moving and I’m guessing releasing endorphins.

He was so mild tempered when he eventually came inside, he was the good kid I knew he could be.  In fact, Kyle reached for his Guardians of Ga’Hoole books and began reading!  It’s true, he loves to read, but he actually gave up playing Minecraft to read on a Saturday afternoon with me saying a word.  I was so happy for him!

So when in doubt.  Go fly a kite!  It will make your day.

 

 

 

 

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

A Near Fatal Mistake

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

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Storm sleeping… not very ladylike. c. 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Planting the Trees of Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Belated Easter!

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

Popes & Saints

We ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like him is to become holy, just, and wise.  ~ Plato

The Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio

The Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio

Yesterday marked a truly blessed occasion.  Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonized as saints.  This is the first time a dual canonization has ever taken place, with the presence of two Popes, another first.  Pope Francis declared the canonization in the Vatican City, in front of a million supporters with the company of Pope Benedict XVI.

In my short life alone, I have been honored to witness such acts of goodness from God’s chosen disciples.  It certainly helps me to continue my belief that people are innately good and the wrong in the world, however tragic and devastating it is, even though we seem to be consumed in its wake, is not prevailing over good, nor is it a commodity.  It’s actually very refreshing and reassuring to be reminded of true goodness since there seems to be such an influx of malignant spirits.

Now onto those who set an example of how to live and conduct life.  Please note, even popes are not perfect, not in the slightest.  We are all human with the ability of free will.  However, these saints have worked very hard to follow in the way of the Lord and set an example for all to join, going above and beyond.

(Obediencia et Pax – Obedient & Peace) Pope John XXIII, was successor to Saint Peter from 1958-1963.  What did he do exactly?  I was not around to see his works, only reading about this benevolent spirit.  He convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.  This type of meeting should never be taken lightly, for it is rare collaboration of the worlds most influential and spiritual leaders and discussions are made on major issues, affecting the world’s spiritual guidance.  During such a time, Pope John XXIII helped to modernize our Mass by spreading the word of God in the local languages rather than the traditional Latin.  (Even though there is a push to bring back the Latin Mass, which is nice to keep traditions.)  He also encouraged and spearheaded discussions and interactions with those of other faiths, specifically Jews.  He was a sort of mediator.

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Pope John Paul II – now officially a saint

(Totus Tuus – Totally Yours)  Pope John Paul II, the one I remember, was the second longest reining Bishop of Rome from 1978-2005. (26 years)  The longest was Pope Pius IX, 31 years.  He was also the first Polish Pope and the first non-Italian pontiff in four hundred years.  As per my mom, who is half Polish, she said her grandmother would have loved to see the day we had a Polish Pope.  We did!  And a fine one he was!

Pope John Paul II ventured out in the world were no Pope had been present.  He too, like Pope John XXIII opened communication with different faiths including the Protestant and Orthodox denominations.  Living through the Nazi invasion of Poland, Pope John Paul II spoke out heavily against war, economic injustice and political oppression by helping to overturn communism through his support of Poland’s Solidarity movement.

Pope John Paul II established the World Youth Days, bringing back a renewed interest in the Catholic Church.  However, he didn’t let his morals slip, but instead maintained the conservative church teachings, even after the morally loss and influence of the 1960′s.

Vatican_II Aunt Heather Piper

The Second Vatican Council

He left us his legacy and spiritual enlightenment through a dozen encyclicals and many, many other documents.  Pope John Paul II also seemed to believe in the goodness of others, around him and before his time.  He beatified and canonized more than a thousand men and women from every aspect of life, including Mother Teresa.

My wish is that this act of canonization for both popes brings a renewed hope in the goodness of people and sets the example for the next generation.  It makes for a more positive day when we share in goodness rather than hate or wrong doing.  I am also praying for the canonization of Mother Teresa.  In my opinion one deserving of such a title.

God Speed Everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

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

Playing As Kids – Building Forts & Making Gold

All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.  ~Pope Paul VI

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Our cousins, Casey holding Marla, Joel in the back, Michael & Elizabeth. Stacy has yet to come. c. 1986

Trying to teach Kyle that you don’t need money or the latest and greatest video games to have fun, is surprisingly a really hard lesson to teach.  At least with my little stubborn man.  I can’t say it enough, he is a good kid, a truly good hearted person, but he only sees playing and having fun as an activity that has been dictated by his generation of video games.  He is not accustomed to good old fashion playing outside, unless I demonstrate and participate of course.

This past weekend, Kyle wanted to play a game with me.  Great!  I suggested a game of chess.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Battle Ship.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Trouble (love that mindless game.  We used it to reach Kyle how to count when he was wee little.)  Denied!  He wanted to play a few games with me on the Wii.  Ok, I’ll give him that since we haven’t busted out the Wii for a while.  His compromise was to play the hunting games and the Wii Sports Resort (Swordplay, Fruit Ninja, Wakeboarding).  I wanted to dance to Micheal Jackson, denied!   I gave in and we played, having a pretty good time.  But after so long, I didn’t have the patience to sit in front of the television and play games anymore.  I would rather get up and move around.  Not Kyle, he wanted to continue for hours upon hours.  Denied!

I pretty much have to force Kyle to undertake any activity before he realizes he’s actually having fun or enjoying himself.  Time and time again this has happened.  Perfect example would include his perceived dreaded hikes with the dogs, which he does enjoy while on the hike.  Even after we come back from having a nice time, he still won’t admit to it.  I guess it’s not cool.

As kids we made up some pretty crazy games and undertook some unusual activities to keep ourselves entertained.  One of the stories I’ve shared with Kyle was the fort building.

Let me step back to state, I grew up with my brother and sister and my cousins around.  So there was never a shortage of kids to play with.  For Kyle, not so much.  I know that has a lot to do with the way he plays and his interests, but I do try as best I can.

Anyway, when we were kids, we used to chop down trees, yes with a hatchet, smaller trees, probably about six inches in diameter and stack them on top of each other to form a fort.  Yes, a real fort with four sides, nestled back in the woods.  We would play in and around this fort all day.

Near this location were these large vines that hung over a small creek.  We would take turns swinging back and forth on the natural ropes like Tarzan and Jane.  It was so much fun.  We did all this with our dog Jill hanging around, without parental supervision, while everyone was getting along and getting dirty and exercise.

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Cousins playing at Twin Lakes for Lisa’s birthday. L to R Nicole, Tim, Lisa, Ryan, Casey, me, Elizabeth & Mikey behind trying to claim a spot on the swings. c. 1986

Let’s be realistic, I don’t really have a desire to build another fort anymore.  However, if Kyle really wanted to, I would, but since manual labor is not at the top of his list, we never relived those good old days.

Instead, dad decided he wants to raise chickens.  Apparently, I’m going to construct a chicken coop, correction, Kyle and me are going to build a chicken coop soon.  I guess that’s close enough to a fort.  At least he’s doing something productive, in real life.  I Need To Build My House – Video Games.

As far as the whole experience including the vine swinging goes, I’ve actually taken Kyle in the woods and we have done just that!  He even enjoyed himself!  Although for me it seemed more fun as a kid, but for Kyle, who is still a youngster, it was a new experience.  There is something about swinging past trees that is so relaxing and fun.

Now onto the gold.   Another quick story of how we used our imagination and every day items to create our own pastimes.

One day Ryan was tinkering around in the garage, yes I believe we were still in elementary school. He was always in that garage.  Anyway, he came running out yelling, “I’ve found gold!  I’ve found gold!” as he darted down the driveway toward my cousin Casey and Joel’s house.  What on earth?

Ryan found a can of gold spray paint and took some rocks and spray painted them.  They did look like nuggets of gold.  Yes we added that to the items we played with as kids, simple rocks.  We even fought over the rights to the “gold nuggets” and made up war games with the “gold” as the booty.

Really it shouldn’t take much to have an imagination and to be entertained.  At least not with us as kids.  We found fun in everyday life, with every day things, even rocks!

Read other related blogs

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling
Playing As Kids – Chasing Cars

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

Playing As Kids – Car Chasing

Compassion is the basis of morality.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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

Maturity in the Form of Loosing Teeth, Takes Time

In this pocket you will find
A teensy, tiny tooth of mine.
So while I sleep where dreams are made,
Let’s see if you can make a trade.  ~Author Unknown

Kyle's-first-day-of-6th-grade-9-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle’s 1st day of the 6th grade. What a nice smile buddy! 9/2012

Ever since Kyle was in the third grade, or there about he has been obsessed with loosing his baby teeth.  He, like the rest of my family is a Late Bloomer.  Personally I don’t think it’s a bad thing, always priding myself on it, it’s just the way it is.

In fact, I’ve told Kyle, he is lucky to loose his teeth later on in life, but he never wants to hear it.  Especially, since it’s like pulling teeth to get him to brush his, pun intended.

On a side note, it took us years of bribing the kid and reminding him to brush his teeth, when he wasn’t with us, to do so.  Seriously, years.  Sometimes I would swear he didn’t brush his teeth all week, they were so caked with crud I was grossed out and couldn’t understand how he even tasted his food.  To this day, he still has an issue with waking up and brushing his stinky breath, a habit that needs to be reinforced every day and inspected, a battle I refuse to give in to.  If he doesn’t know he’s missing areas of tarter, then how can he correct it if it’s not pointed out?  Leave it to me, I have no qualms with making him stand there and revisit questionable areas.  Anything to keep his teeth as healthy as possible.  I don’t budge on this issue.

Hygiene is not an concern with Kyle.  His only concern is with the number of baby teeth left.  You see according to his friends, he is the only one with remaining baby teeth.  I get it, he’s in the seventh grade, but he doesn’t realize he’s very young for his class and put on top of that, he’s a Piper, all makes for a totally immature individual. (maybe I should lighten up on other acts of immaturity)

Granted, he wasn’t always like this.  O no, at first, when I finally plucked out his first tooth, and yes, I yanked the darn thing out, Kyle was excited about the space between his teeth.  Not to mention he loved the promise of the tooth fairy, which made the ordeal worth while, and of course the money that generally accompanies a baby tooth, all combined made for one happy toothless kid.

Although times have changed.  A few weekends ago, as I was picking up my little man off of the bus, he sat proudly in the passenger seat and showed off another missing tooth.  He wasn’t excited over having a hole where a tooth should be residing.  O no!  He was elated for knowing he had one less baby tooth, but then obsessed over the hole and when the other tooth will take its place.  And so goes the vicious cycle.

Recently, it seems like Kyle is knocking down the count.  Last weekend Kyle showed me a tooth that was barely hanging on.  He has real issues with causing pain or seeing blood or the possibilities of either.  Nope, instead he played with that baby molar, with his tongue, until it popped out.  While working at my desk, Kyle hands me something.  It was his tooth!  I was so excited for him!  I said, “Wow buddy they’re coming out in full force now!”  He gave me the biggest grin and then informed me of the final count of those still standing.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the count but the numbers are dwindling.

Whenever the conversation of baby teeth comes up, Kyle comforts himself with the knowledge that his Gigi, my mom, lost her last baby tooth when she was in her early twenties, while working at Kennametal.  It’s true, the dentist had to sedate her to yank it out.  Mom’s a big baby too!  Kyle loves rehashing that tale like he was there.

Nicole, Ryan and me all took a long time to loose our baby teeth too.  In fact, I remember pulling out the few popular front teeth, but as for the rest, I have no idea when they made their grand exit.  To be honest, I forgot all about them by the time I too got to the junior high.  The posterior teeth were probably consumed with a meal, giving added crunch.  I never cared about my baby teeth, at least not after I found out the tooth fairy was mom and the money dried up.

What cracks me up, soon this will be all over and totally forgotten about by Kyle.  But until then, it is a focus of his, in addition to his video games.  He needs to learn to accept the fact that he is a Piper, which is synonymous with late bloomer, but he is still having a hard time dealing with the baby teeth situation.  I don’t want Kyle to rush growing up.

Enjoy life as it comes buddy!

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

Respectfully Standing Up For Yourself

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.  ~Anne Frank

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Kyle digging into his basket on Easter Sunday morning. 2011

The one thing I learned quickly when Kyle was just a little tyke, was that he was indeed a person.  Not a half person, not a non-person, but a real life living and breathing person.  Just because he wasn’t a full grown human being and he had a lot to learn, didn’t make him any less of an individual.

Before Kyle could speak, he knew what was going on and remembered things, even though I’m sure he can’t recall those memories today.  My point is, children of all ages should be respected for who they are, and the person they will become.  Any and all interaction kids have with the world shapes them for the future at any age.  So my question is, why aren’t children treated with as much?

Maybe some are, but Kyle keeps having these situations of disrespect and dismissive behavior pop up, and they are truly upsetting me.  Kyle is being overlooked or worse, totally ignored by adults, complete strangers, in retail outlets.  Yes, I get it he’s a kid, but that doesn’t make what he’s doing any less important, especially if he’s trying to help me out by standing in line or retrieving items.  Common sense should dictate that the kid is twelve and obviously didn’t drive himself to the store, so one would think he has been asked to undertake a task for an adult.

I know these situations seem trivial, and they are, but there’s a lesson I want to teach Kyle now and that’s not to be taken advantage of or walked all over.  However, teaching a kid to stand up for himself, respectfully, which is the keyword, is a bit of a challenge.  At least one I’m facing.

This happened a few times in Giant Eagle.  To help my mom out, Kyle and I will get her groceries.  Great!  Nice gesture.  So in turn, Kyle will help me to expedite our order even faster by standing at the deli counter to get dad’s beef pastrami and cheese.  There has been countless (though not all the time) times adults would overlook the kid, obviously holding a ticket, and jump the line.  Not cool!  I bet they wouldn’t do that if I was standing there, or perhaps they would be that rude.  That’s one situation that annoys me, but the one that really gets me fired up, was the deli guy at Giant Eagle and his blunt disrespect for Kyle.

Kyle-in-front-of-Shriner's-Band-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Parade-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-2010

Kyle at the Fort Ligonier’s Day Parade, in front of the Shriner’s Band. Ligonier, Pa. 10/2010

I was in the check-out isle and I totally forgot dad’s lunch meat.  Yikes!  So what does a gal do?  You guessed it, I volunteered Kyle to go and stand at the deli counter to retrieve the processed salty meat.  My hope was that Kyle would return with the goods before I paid.  However, knowing how notoriously slow they are, I accepted the fact that I was going to have to give Kyle money to go through the check-out while I take the groceries to the car.  No big deal.

Well, in Kyle’s eyes, I’m going through the check-out and he needed to hurry.  Nice gesture buddy!

He stood in the deli line like anyone else, pulled the ticket, like anyone else, and when it was his turn, those waiting in line respected my little man and accepted it as his turn.  Good so far, until the deli guy said to Kyle, “That’s ok, someone else will get you.”  and proceeded to skip over him totally and take the next customer in line.  Are you kidding me?  I was ticked beyond belief!  I didn’t know what had happened until we were out the door.  That was one of those times I wished I was standing right there!  The nerve.

You know people loosely talk about discrimination, well that’s exactly what happened!  I’m guessing he was discriminated because Kyle’s a kid, or perhaps for being a boy or maybe the deli guy knew what Kyle was going to ask for and didn’t want to get it?  I’m not sure the reason but it wasn’t right.

I’m actually a pretty relaxed person, and I don’t even care if people jump in front of me in line, especially if I’m not in a hurry, for perhaps they are.  But I will never stand for obvious disrespect toward me or my family.  Kyle was beside himself and didn’t understand the mean gesture.  He came back all stressed trying to hurry for my sake.

Taking this negative and trying to turn it into a positive, I want to use it as a lesson.  I’ve tried my best to tell Kyle, “Without an attitude you need to stand up for yourself and say, ‘Excuse me but I’m next’ or ‘It’s my turn’, but say it respectfully.”  In general, Kyle is not an assertive person and I get it, there’s a fine line of what a kid is allowed to say, but he needs to stand up for himself!

This didn’t just happen at the grocery store.  O no!  This past weekend, Nicole, Kyle and me went to see Divergent.

On a side note, I loved it!  They really stuck to the book.  I can’t wait for Insurgent!  Kyle and me are fans of the book series (Aunt Nikki didn’t finish reading Insurgent or Allegiant yet).  Kyle actually read them all before me.

That particular movie theater, offered food items, one that caught Kyle’s eye was the soft pretzel.  I gave him money about eight bucks for his pretzel, while Nicole and I sat in our seats.

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Ryan, Kyle’s dad bathing in Gram’s tub. Look at that face! c. 1981

Kyle came back a little upset.  Apparently, someone cut in front of him in line.  That was the first thing.  Then, the cashier never gave him his change, correction my change.  My first thought was, “Well, Kyle did you say, “I’m sorry but it’s my turn in line?”  Of course he didn’t.  Then the money thing.  “Kyle didn’t you ask for your change?”  Of course he didn’t.  What is so wrong about that?  I don’t think I was over stepping my bounds of what I expect from Kyle.

Time and time again I keep telling him if there’s an issue come and get me.  Heck, he could have called me on his cell phone from the line and I would have been out instantly.  So basically I paid eight bucks for a soft pretzel with cheese, which really wasn’t the point.

While getting caught up on the pretzel situation, Kyle looked at me, like it was now my job to go out and fix it.  In my eyes it was too late.  Perhaps it wasn’t and I could have helped him out or showed him what to do.  Maybe I too was being too passive.  It wasn’t the loss of money, it was Kyle not standing up for what’s right that really gets me.

Kyle’s dad, Ryan was the same way.  Very nice, too nice to people and many, many, many people walked all over him and took advantage.  Not only as a kid, but more so as an adult.  One day, I’ll call out those who wronged Ryan, you be surprised for they are closer than you think.  Maybe it’s a family trait, for my pappy was the same way.  Just too nice and trusting, if there is such a thing.

I hope one day, and soon, Kyle learns to stand up for himself and always demands respect, as well as gives it.

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

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling

You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.  ~Stewart O’Nan

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“Traditional” Korean hotel/house. Check out the game of pushing the wheel. 7/2002

The other day at the gym, the topic of playing as kids and the things we did came up.  It’s so very true how different I had it growing up compare to Kyle, and I’m sure my mom could say the same and so on and so forth.  Although, mom’s childhood was not entirely different from mine, no surprise considering we both grew up with our slew of cousins as neighbors, on the same hillside, on my uncle’s farm and in the same house my mom lived.  How about that for family stability, which is almost unheard of now-a-days!

Sure, we had Atari and Pong and we did have one of the first apple computers that could have been programed to dance multicolored lines across the screen.  However, those electronics were never the focus of our entertainment. Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man and Gamers Start Small & Grow

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My Aunt Emily Olczak, sister to my Uncle Walter. Love the Babushka! c. 1980s

What did we do exactly?  Well, first I’d like to say, my brother, sister, cousins and myself were all a bit odd in our merriment.  We made due with what we had around us.  Honestly, we enjoyed life and had a great childhood without all the frills!

There are so many strange activities we discovered, as they come to mind, I’ll be sure to record them in my blog, so Kyle can read about our crazy pastimes.

Please note, not all of our stupid entertainment happened when we were young, some but not all.  Sometimes we were well into our teens, heck twenties, humoring ourselves.  Now on with the tire rolling…

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Our beloved Jill sitting in the front yard, over looking my Uncle Walter’s field & house.

Once after school, roughly  junior high age, I stepped outside to see what Ryan was up to.  I’m still not sure where it from came or from what, but Ryan was rolling this tire around in the yard.  It was about half the diameter of a bicycle tire, but it was wider.  I remember Ryan was pushing it to get it rolling and then running up to wheel and catching it.  Seriously?  Yes!  Naturally, I wanted to join in, so we started taking turns.  We were pushing a tire to get it rolling and then running beside it to stop it.  Did we loose our minds?  Perhaps, but we were having a good time!

Our initial challenge was to get this tire to travel a far distance before falling over.  Then, one of us got the brilliant idea to push our limits by rolling the tire down the hill into my Uncle Walter’s field, below my parent’s house.

We pushed the tire, down a hill, into a field, and ran beside it.  Once we wrapped our hands around the rogue tire, we would march it back up the hill and start all over, taking turns of course.  Sometimes gravity chose to join in on the fun by pulling us to the ground tripping us up and creating a good face plant before reaching the tire.  Sometimes the tire would just fall over from hitting divots in the ground and not get very far.

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“Traditional” Korean hotel/house. We slept on wooden floors under mosquito nets. 7/2002

Did I mention we had a blast?  That is until mom pulled up the driveway and saw what we were up to.  One would think, ‘Who cares, the kids were having harmless fun’.  Well we were, but what you didn’t know and as kids we never considered, my Aunt Mary’s green house sat at the bottom of the hill.  A greenhouse made entirely of glass held together by metal cross sections.  If that tire would have picked up more steam and stayed on course, it could have made a direct impact for the glasshouse.  Let’s face it, that wouldn’t have been so fun.

Where was my sister during all this?  Inside watching television ignoring us.  There was no way Nicole would have thought chasing a tire, set in motion by oneself, as enjoyment, not in the slightest.  Ryan and me on the other hand, thought it was the most entertaining activity to date!  Seriously, I can’t even remember how many passes we made, but I do now they reached the double digits.  We were exhausted, yet it was a good time.  I’m sure I slept well that night.

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Over looking the front yard into Uncle Walter’s field & house. The greenhouse was on the other side of the pine trees.

Many, many years later when I traveled to South Korea (The Republic of South Korea) in 2002, I stayed at this “traditional hotel”, that’s what I called it since we had to sleep on the wood floor, under mosquito tents, in the middle of no where.  I guess it was kind of like a bed and breakfast, since the family lived there and fed us our meals.  We only stayed one night, and that evening we hung out in the center court.

It was a dirt area in the center of the buildings separating the sides of rooms.  The one side housed the guys and the other side the ladies and the dining room and kitchen areas.  The center court area was not roof covered and I believe both sides of the building were independent from each other if my memory serves me correct.  It was really a very nice but very rugged establishment, a traditional house without showers and other modern enmities.

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Korean boy showing us how to play the game with the wheel & stick. 7/2002

That evening the little boy of the house came out to entertain us, or check out the foreigners in his house, or both.  He had this wheel without the center.  He used a stick to push it around and control the round object.  Instantly, when I saw this activity, I was reminded of Ryan and me with our own wheel game.  No joke, it was about the same size and as I watched the child use a stick to push his wheel.  Instantly what came to mind is ‘We never considered that!’.  For a moment, the worlds intertwined, my youth and my adulthood, North America and South Korea, and I realized our game of chase the tire was not so uncommon.  Pretty cool!

It was a random weekday, after school in the spring air.  It only took one tire, one hillside and two hyperactive kids that made our own semi-harmless fun.  An activity I was reminded of years later, half a world away and still to this day!  Did I mention it was great exercise too, which was never even a thought at the time?

I have many more silly stories much like this one.  As they come to mind, I’ll write a blog entry about each.

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

Bringing Home the Bacon…Literally

Onions and bacon cooking up just makes your kitchen smell so good. In fact, one day I’m going to come up with a room deodorizer that smells like bacon and onions. It’s a fabulous smell.  ~Paula Deen

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Pappy & Kyle hanging together on the highlift at Gutchess Hardwoods c. 2005

Two weeks ago dad asked me, “Are you going to be around on Saturday?”  Meaning, “Heather I need your help so be at the house.”  No biggie, but very curious I ask, “Why what did you need?”  To be answered with dad’s newest project, “I think I’m going to buy a pig and butcher it.”

Really? O yes!  Dad left early last Saturday morning with a friend of his, Chris, to go to an auction in Maryland to purchase a live pig.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to us when the day finally came because dad’s been talking about getting a pig for quite some time now.

Before he left, dad told me and Kyle we weren’t aloud to pet the pig or name it.  I guess someone was thinking ahead.

This may sound odd to some, however dad used to butcher pigs all the time, either at my Uncle Ray’s, Uncle Irvin’s, or at my pap’s house, the Piper brothers.  Dad raised a pig or two in his day, not to sell or breed, but simply for butchering.  I kinda sort of remember dad having pigs, but I was really little.

Why you may ask, would someone take the time to build a pig pen, raise the creature and then invest all the time in butchering it, as opposed to buying the bacon in the store, nice and clean ready to go?  Simply because it’s healthier.  When you raise an animal you can control how it’s raised and what it’s fed, meaning no hormones or other synthetic substances.  Unless you know those key facts, then buying it off of a reputable farmer and butchering it oneself, allows you to control the preparation factors.  Factors like the preservatives added to the food for shelf life, all the extra salt and dyes, that sort of thing.  If you do it yourself, you don’t have any of those foreign contaminants in your meat (unless you add them), plus it’s cheaper.  It’s a lot of work, but I will admit, if the animal is properly butchered and utilized, one well worth it.

Dad got back late Saturday night with an extra body.  Yes you guessed it, a pig!  Was it alive?  You bet it was!  The keyword here is, WAS.  Dad’s friend had this “house” (it was actually a really nice super sized dog house) on the back of his trailer.  Lucky for us the structure had windows so we could peek in to see our three hundred pound walking bacon.  Naturally, since it was late, we couldn’t drop it, meaning kill the pig, until the next day.

Sunday morning came and dad shot the pig.  I know, on a Sunday morning, but we couldn’t keep the pig in such a confined space any longer.  That would have been cruel.  He put a .22 bullet in it’s head for a quick death.  He also sliced the throat to start the process.

On a side note, evidently there is a special way to shoot a pig.  Dad said the pig’s brain sits lower, so you have to shoot straight back from between the eyes.  Unlike a cow, whereas you draw an “X” from its ears to its eyes to get your bulls eye.  Good to know.

Lard-Press-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad’s antique (lard) press, which can be used for anything to press. I helped render the fat from our butchered pig…messy!

Many may not know this, but the nerves are still working after an animal has been killed.  Same with chickens and turkeys, which I’ve seen first hand.  Even after you cut off their heads, they can still run around.  Apparently, the pig was laying on its side in the “house” and kicking.  Kyle tracked me down in the kitchen to tell me the pig was running.  What?  For a brief moment I thought the pig got out and was literally running around.  All I could picture was this three hundred pound beast making a mad dash for the woods, and I would have to chase it down and kill it.  Not in my agenda for the day.

Eventually, I went outside to help Kyle with the butchering process, meaning the emotional strain on someone not used to witnessing such an activity.  He was fine, he just needed to get acclimated.  It’s a shock for someone who’s not around this type of living, meaning Kyle doesn’t’ know what to expect or how to handle it.  Me?  I’m good, I’ve been around dad for too long.

I helped dad move the massive beast into the garage.  No easy task!  Once inside, dad hoisted the pig up with his engine lift he uses for skinning deer.  He said it will hold up to a thousand pounds, but I was very skeptical.  It did, at least a three hundred pound pig!

Kyle’s initial job before he had to get ready for church (he was serving 10:30 mass at Sacred Heart Church) was to clean up the blood on the trailer, so we could return it in good shape.  Kyle asked, “Why didn’t pap walk the pig out before he shot it?”  Mom chimed in with one hilarious statement, “Did you ever try walking a three hundred pound pig that was scared?  You just don’t do it!”  Then the jokes started to surface about wrestling it to the ground and jumping on its back for a ride and so on and so forth.

Thinking this was not going to be a big deal, I was quickly informed differently.  Skinning a pig is nothing like skinning a deer, which dad and I have down to a science.  A pig is a bit of a challenge.  Actually, it’s all the fat and the heavy hide that make it so difficult.  Perhaps because I’ve never done it before, but as dad scolded Kyle and me by saying, “What are you guys doing?  You’re hacking it all up!”  Yes our side of the pig didn’t look nearly as nice as dad’s.  Our half was all choppy while dad’s has was fairly smooth, what it should look like.  Either way no harm to the meat, it takes practice.

Kyle was on the edge of his seat from the time the pig arrived till it was being cut up.  It was an exciting couple of days and two weekends, I mean it’s not like many of his friends ever got to say they butchered a pig before.  But it’s good experience and good knowledge for the kid.  As dad says, “You never know when you can’t afford to shop in a grocery store or government regulations stops the stores from selling meat, but if you know what you’re doing, you can always butcher your own.”  I agree, life is very unpredictable and possessing invaluable survival knowledge can mean life or death, or worse, a life without bacon!

On another side note, while we were butchering up the pig on Saturday into bacon, pork chops, roast, ribs and sausage, dad kept calling Kyle Putin, as in Vladimir Putin, as in the egotistical president of Russia (since 2012).  Not because Kyle is full of himself nor because Kyle is questionable in his moral actions.  Nope, because he was running around without his shirt on!  I was dying!  We watch Fox News and they love picking on Putin (rightfully so) especially when he struts around in front of the cameras bare chested on his horse.  Not a good look for a president but a great joke for dad toward Kyle.

These are the little piggies dad’s friend Chris purchased to raise as pets.  They were swilling and Kyle wouldn’t hold them.

This is the pig we butchered and is wrapped up in our freezer.

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

Happy Birthday Aunt Nikki! The Big 40!

Life begins at 40 – but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.  ~Helen Rowland

Nicole-Piper-Senior-Picture-Class-of-1992-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole’s senior picture. Greater Latrobe Class of 1992

Today marks a truly momentous day, Aunt Nikki is the big 40!  Yes, my sister is officially over the hill, even though she’s resided on that hillside for some time now.  Giggle giggle.  (Unlike me, I’ll always remain on the other side.)  Or as Kyle used to say, “Aunt Nitti is ozer (over) the hill!” as he motioned going over and down a hill with his chubby little figures.

Nicole came from a time before the internet and email, when we still used rotary phones, listened to record players and tapes (heck dad still had his 8-track player in his truck), and before cable and satellite.  Nicole has lived through eight presidents and counting including Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

Nicole has seen and accomplished a lot over these forty years, graduating from Penn State University in engineering, traveling the world over (sometimes with me), starting a side company (with me) and most importantly becoming Aunt Nikki, a title she does not take lightly.

So what has gone on over these last forty years from that faithful day, March 16, 1974?  A lot!  Let’s focus on 1974.

  • Blazing Saddles was the top movie of the year
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care Of Business” was a top, pop music single hit
  • Sadly, the Amityville horror happened in Long Island, New York on November 8th.  Six family members were shot dead
  • Richard Nixon becomes the 1st United States president forced to resign after the Watergate Scandal & President Gerald Ford gives unconditional pardon to Richard Nixon
  • 55 mph Speed Limit is imposed to preserve gas usage, nation wide
  • Sears Tower in Chicago becomes the worlds tallest building
  • President Ford announces an amnesty program for Vietnam War deserters & draft evaders
  • Gasoline shortages and price increases (guess some things never change)
  • On June 5th – Henry Kissenger convinces Syria & Israel to agree to a ceasefire on the Golan Heights
  • Work begins on the 800 mile long Alaska Oil pipeline
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Nicole & our little man sipping on his bottle at my cousin Chad’s wedding Our little 1-year old – BYOB. 2002

Nicole shares her birthday with some famous people.  Here are a sampling:

  • James Madison – president
  • Curtis Lovell III – magician
  • Erik Estrada – actor
  • Alexandra Daddario – actress
  • Victor Garber – actor
  • Jim Bridger – explorer
  • Jerry Lewis – actor
  • Rupert Sanders – director (I had to throw that one in, because of the Kristen Stewart scandal)
  • Felisha Terrell – actress
  • Chuck Woolery (we loved watching Love Connect as kids!) – TV host
  • Tim Kang – actor
  • Walter Cunningham – astronaut
  • Sienna Guillory – actress

Please review the years of Aunt Nikki.  Moving clockwise, starting with the upper left corner, Nicole’s 15th birthday (yes that’s me to the right & my cousin Katie to the left), to the right Nicole’s 6th birthday (my cousin Casey to the left of Nicole and cousin Timmy to the right), below that is a her sophomore class picture – 1990, below is Nicole sitting with our cousin Chad for her 2nd birthday -1976 and finally to the left is Nicole’s 7th grade picture -1987. (Apparently she really, really loved those glasses!)

Happy Birthday Nicole!

Happy-40th-Birthday-Aun-Nikki-Aunt-Heather-Piper-3-16-14

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

Lessons From a Cell Phone

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.  ~Steven Spielberg

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Me as Iron Man in Toys R Us. Kyle snapped my picture on my phone. We sent it to Aunt Nikki! 1/11/2014

Kyle’s had a cell phone for a little over a year now.  It’s nothing fancy, no smartphone but it works to send and receive calls and text messages, perfect for a twelve-year old.

However, Kyle loves my iPhone!  He has for as long as I’ve had one, and he’s been itching to get his hands on one too.  Right before I got the iPhone 5, Kyle looked at me with wide eyes suggesting that I should give him my old one and I get the new one.  Great thinking kid, but NO!  At the time Kyle was eleven.  To be honest I thought about it, putting the extra cost aside, which was a big factor considering I knew how much data time Kyle would use; and putting aside the security I would need to put on the phone similar to his iPod to try and remove inappropriate content from reaching Kyle’s eyes and permanently taking up space in his mind; I was stopped at the idea of Kyle getting everything he wants and having too much.

Yes, the later really weighed in on me.  It’s not that I don’t want Kyle to have everything and every opportunity in the world, because I do and yet I don’t.  I want him to appreciate what he has and work toward better, like life should be.  It shouldn’t just be a hand out, especially for no reason.  That’s a huge lesson in itself that even adults have a hard time accepting.  I want Kyle to be better, to be a better person.

Aunt Heather Piper as Iron Man Kyle texting Aunt Nikki 1-11-2014

Kyle texting his Aunt Nikki 1/11/2014

At the time of my phone purchase, it wasn’t his birthday or a special occasion and Kyle hasn’t impressed me with all his volunteer work (meaning none, except being an alter boy at church) nor has he gone out of his way to be an exceptional child.  Not that he’s a bad kid, absolutely not!  He’s a great kid, but again I want him to learn these lessons now to be an even better adult.  Nope, all reasons for my decision not to give him his own iPhone.

Granted, I know other children, probably younger than Kyle have smartphones.  Great!  That’s none of my business nor do I care.  I’m sure the parents have their reasons, like I have mine and I’m happy for the child.  However, in my particular case, it was not going to happen, at least not yet.  Did Kyle did mention about his friends who have iPhones?   You bet that stinker did, and he tried to sell me on the idea that he already knows how to work one.  Yes, it’s true not the reasoning, as I tried to explain.  Honestly, that single comment about his friends brought a smile to my face, not because I’m a cynical person, which sometimes I am, but because it helped and continues to help me teach Kyle.

What are these lessons?  Simply humility, Kyle doesn’t have to have the best and flaunt it (not that he really does); patience, good things come to those who wait; appreciation, so he never takes what he has for granted, which he does like most kids, so I feel this is a much needed lesson; adaptability, learning to use what you have at ground level, if you can do that you can work with anything; minimalism, I didn’t want to clutter Kyle with too many electronics, even though it’s too late.  The list goes on and on.  I want to give Kyle an opportunity to live life and enjoy it for what it is, not through the eyes of electronics.  I don’t want him to be the person who is only focusing on his or her smartphone that they don’t pay attention to their children crying for their attention or the world around them and truly missing life, or the man who literally walked into a bear while texting.  (Yes it was caught on camera somewhere.  A bear was running a muck in a neighborhood and they needed to tranquilize it and the guy was so focused on texting he ran into it then quickly ran away.)

Kyle-Youth-Group-Sacred-Heart-Aunt-Heather-Piper-9-2013

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group 1st meeting of the year. They participated in a Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt Meet & Greet. 9/2013

Please don’t mistake my opinions and dissertation for a hatred toward mobile devices, because it’s not.  I love my phone and I use it probably too often.  I also love being able to call or text Kyle and reach him whenever, except when it’s not charged or when he’s playing video games.  However, if he wants something he will call and call and call and text and text and text till he reaches me.

Then, there are those cases when the phone gets Kyle in trouble.  Yes, this one is really not Kyle’s fault.  This one comes straight from Kyle’s mold, his Aunt Nikki.  A few weeks ago, trusty old Aunt Nikki decided to call Kyle in the middle of the day, thinking he was home from school due to the snow.  Guess what?  He wasn’t, he was sitting in the middle of class when his phone rang.  I asked Kyle why he didn’t have it turned off and he confessed, “I thought I did, I must have sat on it and it turned on.”  I totally believe the kid because nothings worse to him than getting in serious trouble with authority figures, especially being sent to the principal’s office.  He did the dreaded walk down the hall into the unknown trouble, giving that kid the worst anxiety.  Kyle said, “We were just about done with class when the phone rang and I knew it was Aunt Nikki!”

Kyle's youth group meeting text Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s youth group meeting text message to me.. cracked me up! 2014

What did Aunt Nikki have to say?  She laughed and called me to tell me she got Kyle in trouble.  It’s true, I did giggle along with her, knowing how devastated Kyle was over the situation and knowing he doesn’t like to break rules and get in trouble, but it was all in good fun.  Nicole said the next time this happens, Kyle gets detention.  Boy that will just kill him!  Sorry bud, but that was funny!

Now for a positive note regarding Kyle’s cell phone.  Keep in mind most of my pictures and video of me and Kyle, as well as records of his daily life are streamed from my phone keeping friends and family updated on the package.  Good thing!  There are also so many, many more great reasons for Kyle to have a cell phone, especially in his particular case.  I won’t get into all that but I would like to share a funny story that had me cracking up!

About a month ago, Kyle had a youth group meeting at Sacred Heart School for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group.  They asked the parents and guardians to be there because they were discussing major events that involved all parties.  As they were throwing around ideas and discussing them, they were asking for volunteers to spearhead specific items.  I did volunteer to for a specific job.  After it was discussed and agreed upon, I heard my phone beep with a text message.  Knowing it could be anyone for Thrill of the Hunt, my clients or my family, I looked down to see one Mr. Kyle Piper’s name across the screen.  Sitting across the room from me was that little critter smiling while holding onto his phone.  The text read, “That means u.”

While the meeting was going on, I busted out laughing and looked right at Kyle.  He gave me an ornery look with this cute little mischievous grin.  I was smiling from ear to ear, now not paying attention to the meeting and getting sucked into his silliness.  Naturally, I began to text him back.  It was seriously so much fun and worth the distraction.  It was our own inside joke that humored both of us equally.  Love that little man!  Sometimes his communication skills scare me and sometimes he has the best personality and is so quick witted.

I guess with everything there is good and bad, all depending on the user and the intent.  Everything in moderation, taking away extremes helps to create a full and balanced life.  Like it or not, cells phones are here to stay.

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

Riding In a Car Gives Me a Headache

I’ve helped people get rid of headaches by placing my hand on their forehead, and backaches by placing my hand on their back. It’s a powerful example of love that really works.  ~Shelley Long

Young-Kyle-in-glasses-c.-2009-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle sporting his new glasses. Love his smile! c. 2009

For the last several years, Kyle has complained about getting headaches.  They only seem to occur during car rides.  It’s always just as we head out, he’ll say, “My head hurts” or “I have a headache.”   Last week Kyle said, “I can’t wait till it’s nice out and I can put down my window when I get a headache, it makes me feel better”.

What’s really funny about that statement is I can’t ride with just one window down, I have to have a least two or more to cut the pressure in the car or that kills me!

Yesterday, heading to church for our Ashes (Ash Wednesday, signifying the first day of Lent in preparation for Easter.) Kyle made the same remark, “My head hurts.”  My response?  “Really buddy?  We just left.”  Literally, I just pulled out of the driveway and couldn’t have been more than two hundred yards before he spoke up.

What is going on with this kid?  I would be on red alert if this ailment was continuous, inside and outside the car, but it’s not, it’s only when riding in the car, at least that’s what he tells me.

It seemed to start years ago when Kyle first got his glasses.  Granted, he was pretty young when he started wearing them so I can’t really speak of the time of pre-glasses.  It’s not like the little tyke was able to say, “Excuse me Aunt Heather my head hurts.”, while safely strapped into a car seat sucking on a Binky.  However, I don’t think he got headaches.

Originally, Kyle was only suppose to wear his glasses when watching television or reading, but then he started wearing them all the time.  Thinking the cause of his head thumping was the magnified pieces of glass suspended by wire frames resting directly in front of his eyes, I use to tell Kyle to take his glasses off when riding in the car.  It seemed to help until he developed a common childhood obsession for video games.  He would play his Nintendo DS and later his iPod, both glued to his fingers.  Yes, he would play video games till his head was pounding!  He learned quickly to minimize his online activity while riding along.  Now he waits for a red light before fighting off stick people.

Kyle-on-Merry-Go-Round-Idlewild-Park-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle riding the Merry-Go-Round at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pa. Rides don’t seem to make Kyle sick but cars do. 2012

As this issue continues, my thoughts try to factor in all variables and take into account my car.  Either the way it rides or sits, that sort of thing.  I even considered the very slim chance, it was the driver of the vehicle, a.k.a. me.  I asked Kyle once if his headaches only happened in my car.  His response, “No every time I get in a car.”  I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because I don’t think it’s EVERY time, just often.  However, yesterday I asked him the same question.  His response, “Yes, I think it’s just your car Aunt Heather.”  Wonder if that’s true or not or if he was teasing me?  Again, that’s hard to tell since I am usually the one picking him up and driving him around, not really a fair assessment.

Could it be me, personally, triggering his headaches?  If that was true then one would think he would always have them, since I’m with him so much.

Over the years I’ve blamed this problem on lack of water, eating too much junk food and playing too many hours of video games, but I have nothing to base my hypothesis on.  Kyle claims these are not the reasoning, but again he has no proof for his argument either.

My biggest fear is it could be something more serious showing itself before it really does.  Between my friend Markelle and her aneurysm bursting More In Her Head Than An Aneurysm and loosing several cousins to brain tumors, I can’t help but think of the worst.  Granted, I don’t dwell on those thoughts but they do come to mind from time to time. (no pun intended)

Honestly, as a kid and into my adulthood, I very rarely got or get headaches.  When I do, believe it or not it’s simply because my neck needs adjusted.  The more I go to the gym, the less that happens, the less I get headaches.  This crazy cycle only really started later on in life when I got a job sitting at a desk, typing into a computer.  Prior to that, my headaches were far and few between.  Then, Bam!  Neckache and headache!  Although I’m not immune to migraines either, having only a handful in my entire life, thankfully I don’t have a chronic issue like some unfortunate souls.

I’m going to throw this truly outlandish idea out there; an observation I’ve made over the years and I do believe it, although I absolutely have no proof; but when I get headaches, they’re usually during hurricane season.  Yes!  When the air pressure takes giant leaps, especially right before a storm, my head will ache terribly.  But once the storm passes, suddenly my pain is relieved.  Sounds crazy I know, but I’m telling you, I can’t deny it!  It also seems to get worse the older I get.  Can I be that sensitive to air pressure?

Markelle-VA-trip-Aunt-Heather-Piper

My good friend Markelle showing off her picture perfect face on one of our trips… Virginia.

So what is the problem with Kyle and his throbbing head?  I guess the better question is how do I fix it for the poor kid?  He’s been on many, many road trips with us, especially his Aunt Nikki.  Sometimes riding in the car for long distances can effect me as well, but Kyle’s problem seems to stem from quick rides back and forth to the movies, the store, or to piano lessons, not major distances.  I would like to alleviate his pain or at the very least pinpoint the problem to address it, if possible.

The fresh air seems to help Kyle.  Could it just be a case of plain old car sickness?  He usually doesn’t get nauseous, but that has accompanied the headaches on occasion.  And like me, we can’t read in the car or we do get a little vertigo.  I know my Uncle Walter used to get horrible car sickness, but no one in my immediate family does, not even Ryan did.  Kyle can also ride any ride at an amusement park without issue.  So what is it about a car?

On a side note, the overly cautiousness in me wants to get a CAT scan for my nephew’s melon, just to rule out anything serious.  Not reasonable I know, but always a thought in my head…

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

Everything is Awesome – The Lego Movie

Emmet: That’s the signal, but the shield is still up.
Batman: Then I guess we’ll just have to wing it.
Batman: That’s a bat pun.

Kyle-&-Duncan-at-5-Guys-Burgers-&-Fries-before-The-Lego-Movie-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-21-14

Duncan & Kyle … two good kids… yet too addicted to video games! Five Guys Burgers & Fries before The Lego Movie 2/21/14

On Friday, I took Kyle along with his friend Duncan to see The Lego Movie.  For those who know Kyle, that’s certainly no surprise. His entire life (all of 12 years give or take for infancy age) has been one big obsession over Lego’s.  Even being a seventh grader, Kyle still enjoys putting those multicolored building blocks together and on the occasion, play with said structures.

We first saw the advertisement for The Lego Movie in the theater.  I’m not sure what blockbuster we were there to see, maybe Frozen.  Then it happened, a moment to change all of history, the trailer for The Lego Movie flashed across the screen and captivated Kyle instantly.  He turned to me, smiled and nodded his head saying, “We have to see that!”  I didn’t even get a vote.

Kyle-playing-with-Legos-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle lining up his Lego figures for battle. 2013

In all honesty, I too wanted to see this movie, thinking it was going to be really funny.  Well, that wasn’t the case, at least not in my opinion.  I know I’m not the target demographic, not even close, but come on, I expected a little bit more.   For the most part, I love watching kids movies.  Some I’ve thoroughly enjoyed include: Despicable Me movies, Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. (especially Monsters U), the Shrek movies and the Toy Story movies, but not so much this one.  Yes, there were some funnies, but nothing that had me rolling in stitches.  I was assuming with such popular characters as Gandolf and Batman there would be a ton of puns based off of their respected movies.  Nope.

Perhaps it’s because I watched the showing in isolation.  You see, Kyle and his friend wanted to sit closer to the front, which we all know I don’t like to watch a movie with my nose touching the screen.  Together Alone – Movie Night   Actually in Kyle’s defense, as we walked in, I assumed they wanted to sit without authority hanging over their heads, so I told Kyle “I’ll be up here”, I pointed to the back of the theater.  Kyle gave me a confused look at first, and then realized he could pick whatever seat suited him.  Smiling on my way up the steps, I lightly yelled to both boy, “Behave!”  I waited a few seconds till they got situated and then chose my seat, keeping them in my line of sight.  Kyle and Duncan were so well behaved I thought someone paid them off.

But back to this movie.  Seriously, the only humor I got a kick out of, was hearing Kyle laugh from five rows back and the little kid behind me singing the theme song, Everything is Awesome.  I found more humor in those two actions then I did the entire movie.

Kyle-&-Duncan-at-The-Lego-Movie-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-21-14

Kyle & Duncan after The Lego Movie. Boys loved it, I wasn’t sold… 2/21/14

Slight Spoiler alert:  I can handle Legoland being an imaginary place the movie was centered around, but then to jump back and forth in and out of reality?  What?  I picked up on the lesson to be learned, but whatever.  Not a fan.  At least I have a new theme song to sing to Kyle, Everything is Awesome!

At least Duncan and Kyle enjoyed their night out on the town.  Prior to the movie I took them to Five Guys Burgers & Fries to eat dinner.  The entire time listening to them talk, mostly about video games, made me feel like I was in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.  I had my own Sheldon and Leonard.  Love those guys! (Kyle and Duncan and Sheldon and Leonard)  I’m truly glad they are friends who share the same interests.

I was telling mom about Duncan and how the boys interact, very well might I add.  I went off about the mind numbing conversations between the two.  Half the time I had no idea what they were talking about and when I did, I didn’t care to hear any more.  The conversations  were about video games, characters in video games, game trivia etc.  I wanted to scream, ‘Next topic, please!’

The way those two communicated, and I use that word communicated loosely, mom said Kyle reminds her of my sister when she was young.  Yep, Kyle and his Aunt Nikki are very similar.  The video games may have changed, but the clunky awkwardness remains the same.

On a side note, the plan was to take the boys the week prior, however, Kyle never told Duncan he wanted to go to the 5:00 pm showing which is what Kyle told me, and Duncan thought we were going to the 7:00 pm showing because he had piano lessons earlier but never mentioned anything to his parents.  I guess typical boys.  I assumed they had all plans figured out but I was clearly wrong.  This past night out on the town with the boys, before it turned into another fiasco, I spoke directly with Duncan’s mom to clarify all plans.  We were good to go!

Here are a few videos of Kyle putting together his Star Wars Death Star from Christmas 2011.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Another Chapter to Face … Growing Up, Him Not Me!

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.  ~Molière

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Idlewild-Park-Pony-Ride-c.-2002

Me & Kyle at Idlewild Park for the Gutchess Picnic.  He always loved horses! c. 2002

“You knew this day was coming.”  My mom gravely reminds me.  What day is that?  The day I am no longer the coolest person to hang out with, the day Kyle doesn’t really want to plan his activities with me, the day when I find myself replaced.  Yes that day has happened, at least it’s on the verge.  My own person Apocalypse.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, not in the slightest.  I’m more than thrilled Kyle has friends and he’s learned to build a relationship with someone other than me, his Gigi, pappy and Aunt Nikki.  Good sign Kyle is on his way to being a normal teenager.  We hope!

The issue doesn’t reside with Kyle but with me.  I personally need to adjust to this new standard and new way of being.  Kyle has always been by my side, for everything.  It’s pretty commonplace to find us together, no matter what we were doing, the movies, roller skating, snowboarding, cooking, grocery shopping, Christmas shopping…. you get the point.  Even going to picnics and parties at my friends’ houses, Kyle was always invited and he would tag along, mostly for the food or the idea of playing with other kids.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Kyle-bedtime-pic-c.-2009

Me & Kyle screwing around at bedtime, taking selfies & texting them to Aunt Nikki. c. 2009

Why this sudden reminiscing about the good old days?  Because they are slowly slipping away and becoming a thing of the past.  Kyle is not wanting to hang out with his Aunt Heather as much.  Who am I kidding, soon it will turn into, ‘Not At All!’

The other day I mentioned to Kyle, “Buddy we still need to hit the slopes, before winter is over.”  His response, “Umm we’ll see.”  What is he the adult regulating my activities?  I added, “Why don’t you see if Duncan skis or snowboards and I’ll take you both up to the slopes.”  His comment, “Ok!  I’ll ask him, that would be fun!”  Yep!  I thought that was going to be his response.

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Swinging-c.-2002

Me & Kyle at the Planinsek’s Pavilion, playing on the swings. c. 2002

It wasn’t just the snowboarding, although that’s always been our thing together, but it was the movies too!  Same story, I’d ask him if he wanted to go to the movies and the same blasé response, until I mentioned he should ask his friend to go, then it turns into a big deal and it’s exciting.  Again, I will reiterate, I am ecstatic that Kyle has friends and he has fun with them, but come on, throw the aunt a bone.

I knew this was going to happen, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing.  I should have seen it from that single moment when I dropped Kyle off at school and he wouldn’t let me walk him to his classroom in first grade.  That was the beginning of the this uncontrollable, unpredictable avalanche.  Yep, even as recent as this past June in the sixth grade, not even a year ago, he wouldn’t dance with me for his Folk Festival at school.  Denied!  No Dance For You!

Yes, I remember it wasn’t that long ago when Kyle was at daycare, one of his favorite places to hang might I add, and even though he had friends, when I walked in the door he was excited to see me!  He would come home and tell me all about his friend Luke.  He would say, “Aiya, my sviend (friend) Lutty (Luke).”  I remember when he first started talking about his friend Luke.  It was Luke this and Luke that.  Ironically, I did get to meet Luke and his parents and get to know his mom over the years.  I still talk to Sue Lander, the mom on Facebook from time to time.

Unfortunately, Luke was a grade younger than Kyle, so I’m sure they see each other, but aren’t glued at the hip like they once were.  Plus Luke is a lot like his mom, into running, not Kyle’s cup of tea.  He prefers his video games.  Different interests build distances between old friendships, I guess it happens.

His newest gang?  That would be Mr. Duncan, Kyle’s Very Own Big Bang Theory.  I’m happy he has friends he enjoys, and Duncan seems to enjoy hanging out with Kyle.

Kyle-roller-Skating-in-Latrobe-Aunt-Heather-Piper-c.-2009

Kyle at the Latrobe Roller Rink, roller skating. Look how flushed he is, working hard, skating like his dad! c. 2009

Kyle and I still have our interests, reading books and discussing them, church, sled riding and cooking.  All good activities to do together.  My favorite is our exchange of books.  Yes we swop books that we read and enjoyed (age appropriate).  We discuss the characters and the storyline and we use these new worlds for our own person inside jokes and funnies.  Example, this past weekend, yesterday morning as a matter of fact, Kyle and I took the dogs for a hike up through the woods, not Kyle’s suggestion might I add.  When we were walking back, Kyle was trying to uproot smaller trees.   Why?  No clue, but who cares, he’s a boy and he was having fun.  I said, “You better watch it, you might upset Treebeard!”  We both laughed at that one, for only someone who read the Lord of the Rings books would understand, I’m not just talking about watching the movies.

Yep, me and Kyle are two of a kind.  I only hope and pray we will always remain this tight.  He is my little man and I am his Aiya.

Here are some old videos of Kyle roller skating, he really worked hard at it.  Enjoy!

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

More In Her Head Than an Aneurysm

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.  ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Markelle-Harden-c.-2006

Me & Markelle hanging at Connie Leeper Baker’s in Latrobe. c. 2006

Markelle has been a very dear friend of mine for so many years, I almost can’t even count that far back.  The first question I get asked when talking about my mon ami is, “How did she get her name?”  Good question, which I’ve asked her too.

I was told this story is two fold.  Markelle’s mom had a friend in high school who named her little girl Marquel.  The word on the street, literally,  was she saw a street with that name somewhere and got the idea.  (The girl’s maiden name is Marquel Province from Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania.)  About a year prior to Markelle’s birth, her poor mom had a still born, named Mark.  Once they had a beautiful baby girl, (they thought was a boy, like my parents thought about me before I was born)  they wanted to honor him.  So Markelle arrived! I always knew that lady was born with special significance!

Believe it or not, we met working at a local bar called Mr. Toads, waitressing and bartending.  She was a great person back then and she’s remained the same to this day.

Many, many giggles and good times always accompanied working with Markelle.  Way back when, she was going to the University of Pittsburgh and I was at the community college before I transferred to Seton Hill University.  If one of us was working and the other was hanging out, we would help the other clean up and such, without asking!  I’ve always admired Markelle’s strong work ethic.  She was and still is a hard worker, paving her own way in the world.  I respect that big time!

Yes, we had a blast!  Looking back on it now, Markelle instantly become a big part of my life, almost like a sister.  Heck, there were many a night we would sit with a beer in hand, and shoot the breeze for hours.  What a great gal!

Sincerely, I can’t speak highly enough about Markelle.  Truly, she is one of the most caring and considerate and encouraging friends I have.  She will help you with anything, but will never ever judge and will always stand by your side.  The best part?  Markelle tells you how it is, no sugarcoating, no lying, no fuss, no muss.  A straight up good soul.

We’ve stayed in touch over the years, even when she moved to Phoenix, Arizona.  I visited her a couple times, once when my sister lived in Tucson.  After hanging with Nicole, I went to stay with Markelle for a few days, killing two birds with one stone.   That was the trip we hiked Camelback Ridge Trail in Scottsdale.  For some reason I remember that day very fondly, it was a fun simple day hanging with Markelle. (Except it was really, really hot!)

Trying to convince my friend to move home, Markelle did eventually head for the east coast, but not as close as I suggested, my backyard.  She moved to North Carolina.  Ok, I’ll take that!  Again, to stay in touch we would take mini vacations to visit one another, meeting in the middle whenever we could.  Although, the best trip was the Hilton Head weekend with the girls.  Markelle was gracious enough to invite me with her friends from the south.  It was perfect weather in October and we hung out, relaxed, read, walked the beach, danced, all with a bunch of fun good-hearted ladies.  At the time it was exactly what I needed.  Markelle always knows what’s best.

Olivia-Harden-8-months-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Markelle & Eric’s daughter Olivia at 8 months old, showing her favoritism to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now don’t get me wrong, Markelle and I would talk on the phone, email and naturally Facebook to keep in touch through the long pauses between vacations.  Periodically, she would make it back to Pennsylvania.  Although I know it gets hard to see everyone on short trips, but whenever she wasn’t wrapped up with the family, we would get together to catch up.  Sometimes I would have Kyle, and Markelle had her daughter Olivia.  It’s funny how we went from hanging out in a smoke filled bar (yuck) to going to restaurants with the kids like responsible adults.  Notice I didn’t say mature, neither one us hit that milestone in our life yet.

We’ve been friends for so long, I often wonder how this happened.  The only sound explanation that I could possibly muster is simply our values.  Besides being a hard worker, Markelle shares a lot of the same conservative views I do.  We both try to walk in the way of the Lord and live a good strong morally sound life, relying on each other for advice and guidance.  Yep are basically alike in many way, just a couple of average chicks.

For some odd reason, out of all the nice things Markelle’s done for me, and let’s face it I could fill a book, the most memorable was the support I received after my brother died.  Typically, everyone is supportive, so what was so different about Markelle?  First let me say, Ryan’s death came as surprise to everyone, he was in a car accident, taken from us immediately and suddenly.  During this time, Markelle lived in Phoenix, so she was miles and miles away.  Naturally because of family, time, money, work, you know the drill we’ve all been through it, she wasn’t able to be at the funeral.  After Ryan passed, Markelle graced me with her presence in the simplest yet most heart felt way.  What did this creative young lady do?  She sent me a Vermont Teddy Bear!  Yes, she sent me a hug!

The weeks during the funeral were very hard and the weeks that followed weren’t that great either.  But for one day, the sun seemed to shine on me, telling me everything was going to alright.   That was the day I arrived home and received a box on my doorstep.  In it was this Teddy Bear with a card attached, simply saying she was sending a big hug my way.  It was a random day that brought with it a moment I really needed.  It was that moment that helped me start to heal.  She couldn’t be there, yet she was.  Markelle always knows what’s best for me!

When her dad passed away, I don’t think I even came close to helping her out like she did me.   I wanted to be a rock for her, but instead I was more like a pebble.  My heart bled for her and her family and I tried to send prayers their way.

So why am I talking about Markelle like I’ve just lost my best friend?  I am very happy to say that is NOT the case!  Nope, or this blog would be seriously taking a dangerous turn for the worse!  No worries, I expect Markelle to be around for at least a hundred years or so.  I simply wanted to take this time to show my appreciation for my friend before our inevitable end, whenever God chooses.

On a side note, personally I’m putting my dibs in to go first.  Not because I know Markelle will make sure the funeral runs smoothly and everything is organized, because she will, but loosing a jewel like Markelle would be truly heart breaking.

Why am I thinking about life and death?  Recently, Markelle had a brain aneurysm.  Yikes, is all I could say.  Then my next question, what the heck is a brain aneurysm?  Believe it or not I’ve heard of them, mostly associated with old people, but I never really knew what one was.  Thankfully, my other dear friend Holly happens to be my residential nurse, answering all of medical questions.

Apparently, it’s not a good thing!  Holly explained it to me in layman’s terms, emphasizing the severity of the situation.  Holy crap!  Then I heard she was going into brain surgery!  BRAIN SURGERY?  Seriously?  O my Markelle!  That’s when it really hit me!

Immediately I thought of getting on a plane and flying down to stay with her and help out with the family.  Why didn’t I?  Unfortunately at the time, I got really sick!  Bad timing!  My dad and I both had this sinus bronchitis thing that was really bad for a week and a half.  So heading to North Carolina to hang out with someone who was fresh out of brain surgery, would be very irresponsible and selfish of me.

Eric, her husband was the best at keeping all of her friends and family updated on her progress and her procedures.  I mean he did an outstanding job!  Even explaining the procedures and her symptoms so they could be understood by all.  What a trooper!

The result?  Markelle has been home for over a week now and she seems to be doing very well!  She is improving everyday from what I understand.  We’ve been Facebooking each other through private messages.  Good sign!

See, I’m convinced Markelle is no ordinary woman.  O no!  Besides being pretty and youthful in appearance and attitude, she is mighty in her will.  I hope that doctor took a good long look in her head, putting aside the stubbornness, to see her intelligence with a strong emphasis on common sense, to see a one of a kind gal.  I know in my heart God has even bigger plans for my friend.

Personally, I can’t wait till we’re both little old ladies.  My guess, we’ll both be feisty and fun!

I couldn’t image a world without Markelle.  She is proof that prayers do get answered!  God Speed to Markelle, her husband, her daughter, her family and all of her friends!

Markelle when you’re ready for a Piper visit, let me know.  I miss you terribly and I pray for you often.

Below are a few screen shots I took from the Facebook posts with respect to Markelle’s surgery.  Some were written by Eric and some Markelle.

Brain Aneurism news 1-17-14 Aunt Heather Piper

Brain Aneurism out of Surgery 1-17-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-17-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-18-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-22-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-22-14 Scary Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-29-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-29-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 2-8-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 2-12-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 2-13-14 Aunt Heather Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I Need To Build My House! – Video Games

This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’  ~Jack White

Kyle-Olivia-Grant-Twin-Lakes-8-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle with his cousins, Olivia & Grant at Twin Lakes for a picture day. Kids should get back to nature & hang out with each other more often  8/2012

I know I’ve talked about video games, Gamers Start Small & Grow & Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man, and the issues and arguments that seem to accompany them, No Video Games? Running?  Why Do I Have To?.  So it should be no surprise to me that Kyle’s video games are not falling by the wayside, in fact they are advancing at a rapid rate!

Again, I’d like to reiterate, I have no qualms with video games, I do like to play a game or two, but I do have a problem with video games consuming your entire life.  If I’d let Kyle, he would play his Minecraft or whatever game he’s on, ALL day.  No joke!  Not taking a break, not getting tired, not thinking about anything else, not even getting distracted.  Maybe I should be giving him kudos for his dedication to this discipline.

However, I can’t get past the detox I have to go through every time I ask Kyle to wrap it up to do something else, or when he has to stop because he exceeded his video playing limit.  (Yes for the record I do try and monitor and reasonably limit how much time he plays video games on his computer – the only thing he uses it for.  No schoolwork!)

Yes the detox.  Telling Kyle he has “five minutes left” or “wrap it up buddy, your done for the day” or “take an hour break” is almost devastating to his ears.  He’ll give me a look, like I’m talking Chinese, as if he doesn’t comprehend what I said to him.  Or even better, he instantly starts to whine and grumble like a tiny child.  But the absolute best, the one action that really gets my goat, is when he doesn’t even lift his eyes to look at me when I’m talking to him, and he continues playing as if I’m not even in the room, then to appease me with an “Ok”.  I know he may think my instructions are negotiable, but I have news for him.  Nope!  That laptop is closed, permanently.

Sometimes it feels like I’m peeling that electronic device from his fingers.  I imagine this is what it would be like to pull drugs from a user.  He really does get addicted to these games, like many other kids his age.

Kyle-with-is-pap-and-rifle-Aunt-Heather-Piper-7-2011

Kyle sitting with his pappy sporting a rifle at my cousins, Connie & Skip’s house. Uncle Ray (RIP) is in the background. 7/2011

Fortunately, Kyle knows when I mean business, I mean it and there’s no messing around.  Granted, I do give him his time to play and allow him the chance to save whatever he’s on before shutting down his operation, but the minute the attitude comes and the arguments surface, I loose it. Especially when I hear, “Why do I have to?” and “Why can’t I play a little longer.” and my favorite, “Why do I have to take a break?”; that’s when the computer is completely taken away, to not make its appearance until the following day.

This week while walking with a friend of mine, Holsters, the very same topic came up.  Her nephew has the same demeanor, and he’s two or three years younger than Kyle.  She’s beside herself.  Plus she doesn’t have the same authority I do, to enforce what’s right.  These kids just want to be slugs and sit around with their head in fantasy land, not facing reality.  Young people are not going to be able to cope with real life if they don’t start taking baby steps toward it now. (I’m not even going to get into the diet that accompanies the hour long stents of video game madness.)  No wonder they are whiny and miserable and tired all the time.

Seriously, I wish more parents would stop using video games as a babysitter and get involved with their kids.  And I’m not talking about joining them on the controls, although in moderation, that could be a good bonding experience.  I’m talking about building a cabin or a chicken shed, or dig up the earth looking for dinosaurs.  I know I’m going to extremes and being silly, kinda, but there is so much to do!  Do it.  And get creative, it will entertain all parties.

Kyle-reading-Hunger-Games-at-IHOP-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

At least reading is another one of Kyle’s addictions, besides the video games. He does love to read, even at the IHOP – Hunger Games! c. 2012

Video games are a bit of an enigma with me.  Last weekend Kyle made a comment that he had a lot to do.  “Really what do you have planned for today?”  Silly me, he had to finish building his house in Minecraft.  What?  I said, “Kyle building an imaginary house in a video game is not considered work, nor should it ever be a priority.”  He gave me the “whatever” grin.  I believe he even rolled his eyes at me!

This was my time to sound like an old timer.  I told Kyle, “Now if you go out and build an actual house, that someone could live in or a play area, now that’s considered work and worth your time.  I would also help you build it, but not a digital house that doesn’t benefit anyone.”  His response?  “My people need somewhere to live!”  Yikes!   I should have stopped there, but I didn’t and I began to explain how we built a fort (yes we took small trees chopped them down and build ourselves a fort to play in, in the woods) and a cabin.  Seriously, we did this when we were in elementary school.   I didn’t mention that we were unusual kids for our day, I didn’t find it a need when I was trying to make my case.

Not taking the hint Kyle didn’t seem to care or really comprehend what I was saying, I continued, “Look, your dad and Casey and Joel (cousins) build the party shack just to hang out in when they were in high school and not to play video games.”  Again, I didn’t get into what they did up there, nor do I even want to know, but that’s not relevant to my argument.

Kyle knows the cabin very well.  We sometimes hunt around there and when Kyle was younger, Casey would come home and take him for a walk up to the permanent structure, remembering Ryan,  The cabin is equipped with a wood burner, windows, a porch and a shingled roof.  Definitely no dive.

Quick story.  I don’t know how many times this happened, but I do know it was at least once.  The guys, Ryan, Casey and Joel, plus whoever else was hanging around, called to have a pizza delivered.  They actually gave directions to the edge of the woods and told the driver to wait there, someone will meet them.  To me that’s the funniest story.  First of all this took place late at night and secondly, no delivery driver would even do that today for fear of being jumped.  Lastly, who just orders a pizza to have it delivered to the woods?  I would have walked to my parents house to wait for it and then carried the pie back up.  Not those guys.  They got hungry and ordered a pizza to be delivered in the woods with no real address.  Too funny!

Now back to my video game rant.  On Monday Kyle text me asking for an apple pie recipe we recently made.  I had mom type it up and email it to him.  I text him back letting him know it was on the way to check his emails, no response.  Again, I reached out to him via text message to ensure he did indeed receive the requested information, no response.   I tried calling, to only be put into his voicemail.  Fine, it must not be that important, even though I believed he needed it for school.

Kyle & my text he needs work on his spelling- Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle texted me for an apple pie recipe, obviously he needs work on his spelling

The next day I got a text saying “Got it”.  Ok a day late but whatever.  Then yesterday, just after he got home from school, he CALLED  me, not texted or emailed me but he picked up the phone to make the call, asking for his password on Minecraft.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from Kyle, no matter the reason, but seriously?  Evidently, he updated the game and it logged him out, therefore his password was not saved.  Crisis! He wanted me to jump up immediately to access our password list to give him his login information.  Fat chance kid!  I told him I’ll get to it later, after asking if he had homework and if he practiced his piano.

I guess it doesn’t feel so good to be blown off, because the next thing I knew, I saw an email come through resetting the password. (Yes I have all his emails copied to me so I can monitor his activity.)  That kid is something else!  Instead of waiting for the info, he had to have it right then and there, immediately.  So he reset the password to play his game.  Funny thing, he never gave me the updated password.  I see another issue in the near future.

Not to be all negative about Kyle and those stupid video games because he sometimes does pretty good with playing in moderation, sort of.  Granted, I do need to tell him to log off when the hours have been racking up.  By no means does he usually volunteer to be released from the video game addition, but once he’s off, he’ll play other board games, go to the movies, sled ride, cook, or my favorites, play the piano and reading.   He just needs to be guided toward other activities. I’ve noticed he really doesn’t pay attention to the hours spent on the computer.  I suppose that’s my job.  I’m very thankful he does have other interests, even though they tend to take a backseat to the video games.

I’m hoping this is still a faze, but maybe I’m the one living in the imaginary world.

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