Playing As Kids – Car Chasing

Compassion is the basis of morality.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read About Our Other Activities

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling


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

Her Name Was Pudd’in

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


Pudd'in doing her usual routine 2012

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


Ryan holding Jake as a puppy c.1990

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

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

Chad Nicole Piper Jill Aunt Heather Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking News…Pudd’in Concedes – Dogs Wage War…

When most of us talk to our dogs, we tend to forget they’re not people.  ~Julia Glass

Puddin-Concedes-Aunt-Heather-PiperGiving an update to the war that was raging in the Piper household, I am happy to announce it has since subsided.  Pudd’in has thrown up the white flag and has been behaving herself, as is dad.  However, as history has always told us, it’s not long before another war breaks out.  This time it’s dogs waging war.

Scooby vs Pudd’in, well not Pudd’in per se but Pudd’in’s lifeline, her food and Scooby and Seven against mom and dad.  Ok, it’s not full blown war like we’ve seen with dad and Pudd’in but it’s certainly well played sneak attacks.  Let me step back about five or six years ago when we got Scooby.  He was a tiny little puppy that Kyle held on his lap and brought him home.  Scooby has never known a time without us.  Needless to say, over the years he has picked up certain eating habits from my parents.  Basically eating anything he wanted, when he wanted, which he did a lot of.  Now jump to a year ago when we rescued Seven from the pound.  Unfortunately, he had two sets of families that returned him back to the pound before making his way straight into the hearts of the Piper’s.  He was a year old.  Seven, as far as we can tell has only had dog food.  On a side note, I have never, in the 17 years I’ve had Pudd’in, given her anything but cat food and water.  Anyway, over the most recent year my parents tried to ease Seven into their eating habits just as Scooby has always eaten.  As it turns out Seven has a sensitive digestive system and he can’t handle different foods.  Actually, mom found out that the Dad’s brand dog food has been agreeing with him the best.

Great!  Problem solved, well no, it started another problem.  Since Seven couldn’t eat scraps from the table, mom and dad felt it’s not fair to give one dog and not the other.  Over the last few months they’ve really reinforced this rule in the house and reiterated it to me and Kyle.  So new rule, don’t give the dogs food scraps!  Check!  No food scraps to either dog and as I’ve mentioned, Pudd’in never received any anyway.  Seven, didn’t seem to know the difference, but Scooby on the other hand is taking this quite personal.

Scooby-Who-Me-Aunt-Heather-PiperA few weeks ago mom told me she made dad fish with veggies for dinner.  She set the plate of food on the table while dad took a shower.  When dad came out, the plate was cleared, however he didn’t notice the cleared plate of missing food.  I guess dad sat there for a while, then asked mom where the dinner was?  Mom responded, ‘You ate it.’ followed by dad saying ‘No I didn’t, I didn’t eat anything.’  Mom said, ‘Ron, I made you fish and vegetables, where’s it at?’  At that moment those two, who probably looked like a skit from Abbott and Costello discussing Who’s On First?, realized there was a thief among them!  All they had to do was ask, ‘Who ate pap pap’s food?’ and the guilty party walked right into his cage.  So you see, Scooby decided he wanted to eat what dad was eating, throwing a good old fashioned temper tantrum.  Scooby is basically telling my parents, you are not cutting me off of food just because of the new addition.

It gets even better, Scooby’s blatten defiance doesn’t end there.  He is now showing his discontent through an easier innocent source.  Pudd’in’s cat food!  Since Pudd’in has a heart condition and she burns so many calories, we are having a hard time keeping weight on her.  She acts very healthy and happy with long strong whiskers, shiny soft coat, and a playful demeanor, however she is very anorexic looking.  In order to help Pudd’in keep some weight on, we have her on a special indoor high calorie formula.  Well, apparently Scooby is in on the same special diet, because recently, mom and dad have been busting him, sneaking to the back room where Pudd’in’s food resides and dibing into the bowl.  Mom made a comment not long ago to get more cat food for Pudd’in.  I thought that was odd since she is only a six pound kitty and I just got her cat food.  I shrugged it off thinking it was longer than I realized, no biggie.  Then I heard the news.  At that moment my eyes opened and as I compared the dogs, Scooby is noticeably thicker in the middle than he was before.  I guess the high calorie kitty food is doing it’s job.  Just on the wrong animal.

A weekend or so ago, mom made dad eggs and toast for breakfast.  As she buttered the toast on the counter and walked away, apparently Seven decided to takes Scooby’s lead and help himself to a slice of toast.  I asked mom, how do you know it was Seven. Mom’s reply, “Because Scooby was in the living-room and when I came out in the kitchen Seven was licking his lips.” Ummm

Just like children, the boys don’t realize we are trying to help them and not limit them.  It’s for their own health.  Well, I guess there’s another war raging in the Piper household.

Read more on the wars in the Piper household.

Pudd’in vs Dad – A New Kind of War

Pudd’in vs Dad vs Kiwis – War Continues…

Puppy Problem Called Seven!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets and have Comments (2)

Pudd’in vs Dad vs Kiwis- War continues…

The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Kyle getting rid of allergies Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle uses tea bags to alleviate his allergies

A couple weeks ago I stopped by parents house in the evening after work.  I was at a client’s and I was in the neighborhood, so I popped in at mom and dad’s (one way to keep tabs on the old folks).  I was chit chatting with mom, hanging with the boys and giving Pudd’in some extra attention, since she’s been having a hard time adjusting to change lately.  Everything seemed to be in order at the Piper household and it was getting late, so I went back to my house.

Just  as I was ready to slip under the covers and retire my mind for the night, I received a text message.  Now, I will admit that when I sleep I truly don’t hear text messages, emails, twitter messages, and facebook alerts on my phone.  I am a pretty heavy sleeper. In fact, I have been known to answer the phone late at night, have an entire conversation, and not remember a word of it. I was basically sleep talking.

Depending on how tired I am, sometimes I will ignore the text until the next morning.  However, recently, since Kyle has been reaching out to me via text message from his ipod Touch, I tend to review all text messages sent my way as soon as I hear them, unless Kyle is with me.  This one was from my dad.  “My dad?” I thought.  First of all, my dad doesn’t know how to text and why at 10:00 at night? I immediately reviewed the text, almost ready to call first.  It was my mom texting me that my dad was in the ER.  What?  Really? I just left their house maybe an hour ago.

Dad and his deer 2011 Aunt Heather Piper

Dad's deer 2011

Immediately calling my dad’s phone, I found out one answer to the mystery: Why was mom on dad’s phone?  Mom evidently didn’t charge her phone.  Ok, now mystery number two: Why was dad in the ER?  I guess he had an allergic reaction to something.  He was dizzy, nauseous, covered in hives all over his body including the bottoms of his feet, and was not feeling right.  I guess it was pretty bad, they had him on an EKG machine to check his heart.  Mom was told that when you have an allergic reaction like that, the blood flows to the areas of the body which need addressed, dad’s skin.  So dad’s blood pressure dropped severely and they had a hard time getting it back up.  He was hooked up to an IV machine and was given medicine.  Mom brought him home sometime in the am hours after his blood pressure became stable and he was feeling better.

He was fine, but now the more pressing mystery: What was he allergic too?  The doctors were speculating it was the kiwis he ate, even though he just had kiwis this past summer.  My bigger question was, why are you buying kiwis that are completely out of season?  The doctor was guessing it was whatever was sprayed on kiwis and maybe not the fruit itself.

The next morning I was at work telling Kelly about it.  Her first reaction was, “Did Pudd’in poison dad?”  That’s great!  I never thought of that!  Then we started making up our own story on how Pudd’in licked the kiwi and then licked dad on the cheek while he slept.  Or Pudd’in was cooking something up and slipped it in dad’s food.  Our imaginations were in overdrive!  Now that would be funny as a cartoon or comic.

Gutchess Hardwood Picnic Aunt Heather Piper

Dad, Kyle, me & Nicole at Gutchess Open House

As we went off on our little tangent, I started to really think of the situation.  What cracks me up are the details within this war.  Dad and Pudd’in share a bathroom.  It’s a real life turf war!  Pudd’in’s litter box is still in the bathroom around the corner from dad’s toilet.  You see Pudd’in is still holding her ground in the bathroom, while dad invades her space every once in a while.  I wonder if they’ve ever run into one another in there?

Mom thinks she’s just getting old and senile.  On the contrary, I think Pudd’in is one very smart little kitty who is taking a stand.  Actually I think she’s had enough.  About a year ago we brought home Seven from the animal shelter, which she did not welcome with warm paws – and now, this!  I really wish dad would allow me to conduct a test.  You see, my hypothesis is that if dad stops using that bathroom, this war will discontinue.  Every once in a while, Pudd’in’s still leaving a little pile of discontent in front of dad’s toilet, merely feet from her litter box.  Ahh, alas, dad is extremely stubborn and he is not about to alter his life for one distorted cat.  I guess I can never prove or disprove my hypothesis so the war will continue.

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

All In Your Dreams

Be careful what you wear to bed at night, you never know who you’ll meet in your dreams.  ~Unknown

Kyle laying on a sleeping Aunt Heather Piper

Me napping on Aunt Nikki, while Kyle munches on his Cheerios

Dreams can really bring a smile to your face, bring fear to your heart, or stop you in your shoes and get you thinking, that is if you remember them.  The mind is an organ that alters reality, brings inspiration and causes sleep deprivation.  Sometimes all in one night or within a good Sunday afternoon nap.  Recently I’ve had some very funny dreams.  They were actually brought on by reality.  Please indulge me with a few fun dream memories.

When I stay at my parents house, I usually sleep in Kyle’s bed.  It’s a queen size bed and, for the longest time, Kyle slept with my parents.  Not to mention I hate sleeping on the futon.  The last few weekends, I found myself waking up to Kyle in my bed.  He cracks me up, he wedges himself up against me and pushes me to the side to take over the entire bed.  His presence in bed with me while I slept caused these funny dreams.

Three weeks ago I was half asleep and half awake.  I thought I kept hearing Kyle say, “Aunt Heather your arm, where’s your arm?”  In my dream, I couldn’t feel my arm and I was looking for it.  I kept saying, “I don’t know where it is buddy,” and I kept trying to grab my missing arm with the other.  As I was doing that, I laid my hand on Kyle’s head, literally.  I instantly woke up and realized Kyle was laying on my one arm and it was so asleep it was numb.  I couldn’t feel it.  I had to slide his head off of my arm like sliding cookies off of a cookie sheet.

Two weeks ago, I was back in my blissful sleep.  As I dreamt, I felt like I was in a wind tunnel.  I mean, in my mind the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t breathe.  What made it even worse, there was a foul smell that came with the wind.  I was walking through this tunnel, it was actually a sewer.  It was dark and I wasn’t sure why I was there or how I got there.  In fact, I think I was somewhere else and then I was abruptly pushed into this scene.  I kept walking but was choked by the smell and the wind.  I knew I had to get out of there.  I was feeling claustrophobic and I couldn’t breath with the wind in my face.  I walked until I ran into something with my head.  At that moment I woke up to find myself facing Kyle on my pillow.  He was breathing hard in my face with his morning breath.  I actually started to laugh, instantly having the dream on the forefront of my mind.  At that moment, Kyle woke up and I couldn’t help but share the story with him.  We both lay there half awake and half asleep laughing over the story.  Kyle still sometimes walks up to me and quickly blows a few puffs of wind in my face and he says, “Remember Aunt Heather?”  What a card!

Kyle and Aunt Heather Piper relaxing

Me and Kyle kicking back. He even would sit on me when he was younger.

There were other dreams that took me off guard, still clearly remembering them to this day. One night I was sleeping in my room.  This is when I was still living at my parents house, so I’m going back some time.  I was dreaming that I was standing in pins and they were pricking all around my foot.  I woke up thinking my foot had fallen sleep.  As I brushed one foot over the other that appeared to be sleeping, a soft texture caught me off guard.  I sat upright and turned on my night light to find Pudd’in wrapped all around my foot, clawing it and biting it.  She was playing with my foot that slipped out from under the covers.  Apparently she thought my foot was fair game and me sleeping was an invitation to play.  Once I loosened her kung fu grip from around my foot, I realized my foot really wasn’t asleep after all!  That was crazy.

Ok, one more story since I just thought of it.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love my afternoon naps.  Not that I get to take them often, but Sunday afternoon naps are the best!  One afternoon, I really couldn’t tell you what day it was, I fell asleep on the couch.  As I dreamt, I thought I was having a heart attack.  I had a heaviness in my chest and my chest felt like it was being stabbed by a bunch of needles.  I remember I had a shortness of breath and I thought this was it, I was going to see a white light.  Just then I opened my eyes to see my reflection in Pudd’in’s big green eyes.  I actually gasped and started to evaluate the situation.  My first thought was Pudd’in was there to lead me into heaven.  I’m not sure where that thought came from, but I can’t deny I thought it.  After I really woke up and came to my senses, I realized Pudd’in was standing on my chest kneading the dough, or at least that’s what I call it when a cat is purring and using their claws to fluff an area.  It just so happens that this area was my chest.  She gave me the feeling of having a heart attack, or a least I’m guessing that’s what that feels like.

Dreams can be life altering.  Not usually mine, or at least the ones I remember, but at least they make for good stories.

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