Kyle’s Christmas Scavenger Hunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.  Good luck Buddy!

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

Clue#1

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

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

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

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

Clue #3

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Clue #5

Take a selfie with me Kyle!

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

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

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

Clue #7

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

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

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

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

Great job Kyle!  I hope you enjoyed it.

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

Simply Silence

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa

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A view that no photo can capture… a perfect snowy night. 2/2015

Since it’s Friday, and my days have been filled with a lot of heavy, I wanted to step back and reflect.   Today, I awoke in the early morning hours to find another dusting of snow blanketing the world outside.  Gazing out the window, trying to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I was instantly warmed with nostalgic memories and a serene feeling.  All from watching the snow sit still among the darkness?  Absolutely!

It’s funny, just the other day, dad commented that he loved the late evenings, in the middle of winter, when everything is covered in snow and is at rest.  I’m paraphrasing for he probably said something along the lines of, “I always liked this.”  But I knew exactly what he meant.  He’s right, that time of day is the best!  Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve always held an affinity for those qualities to grace me with their presence.  That’s one of my favorites during hunting season, the dark hours, snow hiding all details of nature, and the silence that seems to accompany that exact moment.  I love it!

Last week, while I was trimming the blueberry bushes and the grape vines at mom and dad’s house, I let the dogs run around in the snow (mom and dad live in the country).  With the frigid days, our four-legged pals were suffering horribly from cabin fever, and I knew they needed to stretch their legs.  It was in the twenties, with little to no windchill, the sun was brightly shining overhead, and the yard had a healthy dose of snow.  All perfect conditions for playtime.

Well, naturally, I got involved in my work and unbeknownst to me, all three dogs made their escape, and decided to go on a walk about.  I never know if I should be insulted when they make plans without me, or happy because they’re getting exercise, but regardless, they made a break for it.  When the boys and Avery pull this stunt without adult supervision, there’s a 50/50 chance it will end well.  Although, on a good note, my cat, Storm, a.k.a. Lady Fluffington, had a blast running around the snow and climbing up on the grape arbor without the dogs chasing her around.  Luckily, we had the tracker on Avery, but it soon died and lost connection with our delinquents.

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Love the silence of the night, covered in snow! 2/2015

Anyway, after some time, I layered up and headed out to follow their tracks before it got dark.  Just as I approached the middle of the woods, a few miles out, I received a call from dad saying the hounds were back.  What?  It was now getting really dark and I knew dad had the fireplace blazing for them, yet, here I was stuck hiking through snow, in the middle of nowhere, while everyone warmed up and relaxed!  Did I mention, there were a ton of coyote tracks all around me, and in the distance I saw a fresh deer hide ripped to shreds?  Kinda scary, only because I didn’t have my pistol and my phone was ready to die, but then again I really didn’t care.

To be honest, I didn’t mind being in the woods, or even being in the woods with darkness hot on my heels.  Actually, it was a relaxing point in time, a moment of not worrying, for the dogs were safe, Kyle was accounted for, and I didn’t need to be anywhere, or do anything at that particular juncture.  My mind wasn’t racing and I wasn’t in a hurry.  In fact, I was were I needed to be at that point in time.  It was hovering in a state of simple silence and peace.  When was the last time you felt that?  God took a potentially bad situation, and blessed me with the complete opposite.

Did I care it was now dark among the trees?  No, actually I didn’t.  When I was little, Ryan, our cousins, some of our friends and myself (Nicole would sometimes make her appearance), would run through the woods all night long, mostly during the summer months and sometimes on the weekends in autumn, especially during Halloween.  We’d either play war and corn each other, explore and go on adventures, or simply scare each other.  It was our childhood, and the woods were our playground.

While walking back, the only sounds I heard was the soft crunching of snow under my feet, and the slight wind blowing past me, rustling loose branches and causing the treetops to clap.  The moonlight reflected just enough light from the snow to guide my way.  Everyone once in a while, I’d stop to take it all in, all the benevolence of nature.  I’d like to think Ryan was walking with me, for he too loved the woods and winter time.

Always try to look on the good side of any situation, for God always reveals a gem of delight found in silence among the noise and chaos.  Happy Friday!

 

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

Laughing About Nothing … Hitchhiker

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

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Kyle riding a motorcycle at Idlewild Park, Ligonier for the Gutchess picnic. 8/2004

Kyle always surprises me, especially with what he knows.  This time it’s what he didn’t that took me completely off guard.

Okay, I’ll set the stage.  Sunday night, I picked Kyle up from his youth group meeting and we proceeded to drive through Latrobe.  It was later, probably about 8:00 pm or so and definitely dark.  Why is this pertinent?  It is!  As we drove along, I barely noticed an older gentleman, who practically jumped into the street sticking his thumb in the air.  His white or silver hair  juxtaposed against his entirely black attire scared me.  I know smart right, head-to-toe in solid black, lurking in the shadows of the night, while practically playing chicken with moving vehicles.  I swerved into the left lane to miss him, before I stopped at our red light about ten yards away.  Yeah, I checked to make sure our doors were locked.  Check!

During this ordeal, Kyle was jarred a little from my fancy footwork behind the wheel, as well as me saying something like, “Whoa, buddy!” and “What the heck ?”  It really happened so fast.  While waiting for the light to turn green, I kind of reiterated the scene.  That’s when I found myself baffled and yet humored.

I made a comment about the hitchhiker and Kyle asked, “What’s a hitchhiker?”  What?  Yep, I’m totally serious!  He truly didn’t know what a hitchhiker was.  Then the conversation went something like this.

Me:  “He wants a ride somewhere, that’s why he’s hitchhiking or trying to, I almost hit him.”
Kyle:  “How do you know he was trying to hitchhike?”
Me:  Slightly sarcastic, “Because his thumb was in the air.”
Kyle:  “Does that mean he needs a ride?”
Me:  “Well, yeah.  You know, you’ve seen people walk along highways with their thumb sticking in the air, basically screaming, “Pick me up”, they’re hitchhiking.”
Kyle:  “I’ve never seen that before!”
Me:  “Really?  Well, that’s what he was doing.  Although, they’re usually not that aggressive.  He practically jumped up on the hood of my car.”

Let the silliness begin!  There’s always one moment with us that sends us over the edge to the land-of-no-return humor.  That was it.  Kyle looked at me with wide eyes, and a huge ornery grin.  So the ridiculous story unfolds!

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Kyle driving his bumper car around at Idlewild Park, Ligonier for the Gutchess Picnic 8/2004

Yes, we started laughing.  I’ll take the blame for initiating this one when I said, “What would you do if he jumped on the hood of the car and held on?”  Kyle and I busted out laughing.  Then, I started to make noises like a car while I faked me driving erratically from side to side, to shake the imaginary hitchhiker from the hood of my car.  Instantly, Kyle joined in adding to the sound effects and mimicking my motions.  He said, “Can you image Aunt Heather?  That would be so funny!”

Now, I’m taking it a step farther by adding, “Want me to pull over and have him ride in your lap?  What would you do?”  I was trying to get a rise out of Kyle, however he turned the tables on me with his wit.

It took Kyle merely a moment to concoct his own scenario,  “No Aunt Heather, we’d put him in the backseat.”  Laughing trying to properly express his thoughts to me, he adds, “With all three dogs!  And I’m in the front seat.”  Yeah, that made uncontrollable roars of laughter erupt straight from my gut.  Kyle really painted the picture when he described the scene.  “Can you imagine?  Our boys would be walking all over him and he wouldn’t have any room to sit.”  Kyle’s now really humoring himself, as well as me.  He even added my cat, Storm, a.k.a. Lady Fluffington, to the story.

Playing off of Kyle’s new direction, I declare, “Scooby would be in his face growling and the guy would be too afraid to move.”  I motioned with my hand toward my face, where Scooby’s face would be in relation to our fake hitchhiker.   “Avery would just sit there and drool all over him, and Seven would pay no attention and tramp him down as he pranced back and forth on the seat.”  That’s our dogs, exactly!  Kyle found this story hilarious.  He buckled over laughing.  Actually, we both did.

Now, the crème de la crème, I blurted out, “No!  We pull over, with you sitting in the front seat, and all three dogs in the back.  I open the hatch and tell him that’s his seat.”  We died!  “He might say, “No thanks, I’ll wait for the next ride.”  I love that moment of pure hilarity, whereas you can’t event catch your breath.  In fact, not a sound could be heard.  You know it’s gut stretching!

South Carolina Fort Jackson Summer 1969 Bootcamp Terry, Dad, Charlie Ferry-Pap-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Fort Jackson Bootcamp, South Carolina – Terry, Dad, Charlie Ferry, Pap. Summer 1969

Yes, all this excitement was going on while I was driving, but at least I got Kyle off of his video games to engage with me, even if it was imaginary.  We re-played that entire situation for the duration of the ride, changing things here and there and laughing at each new discovery.

I did explain that hitchhiking was more commonplace in his Gigi’s day.  I explained it to him, as I was told, especially with war veterans who came home and didn’t have a vehicle, so they hitchhiked.  I continued to explain that back in that day, most families only had one car, and sometimes not even that, and sometimes they needed a ride.  I also told him, since the olden days, it’s became less acceptable and now dangerous.  “So don’t ever pick up a hitchhiker or hitchhike yourself!”  Even though he didn’t appear to be listening, I know he was.

I’ve said it before, Kyle is the coolest!  I love being around him and under his thirteen-year old attitude, and general sluggishness brought on by poor eating and mind sucking video games, he has a strong personality and is really very funny.  His sense of humor still reminds me of his Aunt Nikki, very Saturday Night Live “esk”.  Nothing wrong with that!

Catch all the ridiculously funny stories!

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!
Laughing About Nothing … Truck Horn!
Laughing About Nothing … Dog in Space!
Laughing About Nothing … Our Dog vs. A Robber

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Family,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Travels,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

The Dog Catcher Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dog Catcher Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laughing About Nothing … Our Dog vs. A Robber

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

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Seven & Scooby running & relaxing in the backyard. 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch all the ridiculously funny stories!

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!
Laughing About Nothing … Truck Horn!
Laughing About Nothing … Dog in Space!

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

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

Dog’s Perspective vs. Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My pap with his dog Pudge. 1970s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Back To Routine – Dogs Daily Hike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ringing in the New Year

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes…you’re Doing Something.  ~Neil Gaiman

Well here we are, 2014!  Happy New Year!

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Me & Kyle celebrating New Years! Storm photo bombed us from her perch. 12/31/13

Kyle and I rang in the New Year like we always do.  We made our rice crispy treats, (actually I made them while Kyle watched Despicable Me 2).  Thanks to my friend Tree for helping to make that a New Year’s tradition!  We were making the delicious sticky treats when we were in high school and it stuck!  We ate our pork and sauerkraut and hot dogs, brats, and kielbasa.  Yep, the same sauerkraut we just made Family Traditions Through Sauerkraut in November.   Another tradition started by my mom when I was little, was the meat and cheese tray.  Usually, it’s complete with a variety of crackers, carrots and celery, olives and such, but this year we just nibbled on the meat and cheeses.

Keeping ourselves entertained, we played Trouble and a little Wii, even though I didn’t give Kyle hours on the game, we did play a few rounds of shooting and fishing and horse riding.  Since then, Kyle has a renewed interest in the video games.  Maybe this weekend we’ll bust out the Michael Jackson Experience and dance to a little MJ action.

We watched Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve as many do.  Mom and I were reminiscing days of New Year’s old.  One New Year’s, my sister went to New York and rang in the new year in Time Square.  That was fun having Kyle try and find his Aunt Nikki among the sea of celebratory people.  That is until he spotted the Lego store in the background.  Yes!  Only that kid would hone in on the Lego store among the crowds and crowds of people and on-air activity.  I remember he immediately called my sister and instructed her to go into the Lego store and take pictures and send them to him.  What a card!  He wanted the mission completed at that very moment, while my sister was corralled into limited space with millions of others.  Nicole was not able to tackle such fetes, but later that summer or the following one (I can’t remember) Nicole took Kyle to New York so he could experience the Lego store for himself on the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’.

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Seven celebrates New Year’s in style… Happy 2014! 12/31/13

Around 11:30 pm or so, we really humored ourselves by making the dogs wear party hats.  Once midnight hit, we blew our party horns and blasted our party favors till we covered the living-room with streamers.  Naturally, we took pictures and sent them to Aunt Nikki, keeping her in touch with all things Kyle.  We had a really good time!

New Year’s day we took the .22 and the 20 gauge out squirrel hunting.  We didn’t see any signs of life, but maybe that’s because of our invited guests, Seven and Scooby.  They had a blast running through the snow in the woods and jumping around.  This was the first walk I took them on since this past fall, when Seven broke his leg.  Great way to ring in the New Year!

Yep, it was a pretty good 2013.  I mean, I was able quit my nine-to-five office job at the ad agency and start working on Thrill of the Hunt full-time.  Thrill of the Hunt is going into our seventh month of business, full-time.  Technically we started Thrill of the Hunt in September of 2012, but it was only a part-time gig.  Even though the company is not self-sustaining, it is picking up notoriety and popularity.  My goal for the New Year is to make the company profitable and organize our finances and database.  Sounds simple enough, yet I know the challenges and I am ready to take them on ten fold.

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Scooby receiving his New Year’s attire… Happy 2014! 12/31/13

Kyle is now in the seventh grade, taking advanced science and math classes and doing pretty well.  Nicole and I discussed it, and this year we’ll start training Kyle to take over all finances including entering expenses, accepting checks and possibly creating invoices in Quickbooks for The Piper Corporation.  Yep!  You heard that right!  I trust Kyle explicitly, and finances and dealing with numbers is kind of his thing.  Plus, I feel it gives him great work experience and exposure to business and will build good work ethic and character.  Not to mention he will truly be a part of the company.  He is now, especially with all his help promoting scavenger hunts and working the events, but he will be an integral part of the company.  Did I mention, I will follow-up on the information entered?  You bet!  I can’t very well expect Kyle to not make mistakes or do things incorrectly, at least not until he really learns the program and gets into a routine.  My accountant will also be aware of our unofficial employee and keep an eye out to ensure all is entered correctly.  How else is he going to get this experience and learn?  He’s worth the extra time!

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Me & Seven celebrating New Years! 2014! 12/31/13

Nicole and I discussed Kyle’s new role with him over Christmas and he was truly excited!  Excited to be learning something new, excited to be dealing with numbers, exciting to be helping us out and excited to be getting paid.  I think the later was more important to him.  He called me yesterday asking when he was going to start working in Quickbooks.  Apparently, he wants to buy something.  What a stinker!  But a very ambitious one!

I asked Kyle, as I always do, what his New Year’s resolution was?  His reply?  A dismissively “Umm I don’t know.”  He could care less, but I guess that will come over time, although when I was his age I made resolutions.  I mean it’s good to set goals, right?  This year mine includes, blogging at a minimum of three days a week, finally writing my book (not sure about that one, but why not), branching out Thrill of the Hunt into Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, in addition to Pennsylvania and building the company to a profitable state.  I’m not looking for millions, just enough to say we’re profiting.  But I guess in time all things will work out the way they are suppose to.

The snow has been falling all day yesterday and all night long.  It’s beautiful out!  Even though we have my Uncle Ray’s funeral tonight, Uncle Ray – Passing of a Piper Legend it’s a bittersweet beginning to a new year.  I have faith that God will bless us with an extraordinary 2014!

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

Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Westmoreland County

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.  ~L.M. Montgomery

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Another shot of the cabin, hanging out, relaxed & peaceful. I sat on the steps for a few minutes watching deer & remembering the stories that surfaced from this place…. 2013

… Continued Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

On Wednesday, dad and I hunted on a friend of mine’s property.  My friend Susan was kind enough to let us take a shot at some new surroundings.  Pun totally intended!  Her kids shared the knowledge of a few buck sightings.  Why not?  We haven’t had any luck at this point, at least not in Pennsylvania.  Did we see anything?  Dad did!  But he said it wasn’t a legal buck, so no shot.  If Kyle was with him, Kyle would have been able to shoot, since he is not limited to the number of points.  Even though we came back unsuccessful, we found our new hunting spot for next year.  Dad and I both LOVE the area.  There are plenty of deer and it’s really a nice piece of property.  Not the cliff of death with spiderweb brush to get caught up in, like Green County.  And not that far away, maybe forty-five minutes.  Dad can also get around on his quad safely and I must admit, walking was a lot easier and very enjoyable.  Can’t wait for next year!

By Saturday, Kyle joined us back in the woods by my parent’s house in Westmoreland County, on my cousin’s property.  Finally, we were blessed with a fresh coating of white fluffy snow!  It really was so peaceful and pretty.  Early that morning dad and I saw a couple of deer running down through the woods, but no shot was obtainable at that angle.  Saturday opened up doe season.  We were permitted to shoot buck (three points on one side) and doe.

I’m beginning to think it’s not me that causes our adventures, it’s Kyle!  While sitting on a log, Kyle wanted to walk back to the house to use the restroom and grab a quick bite.   Anyone and everyone who knows dad, is well aware he doesn’t stop hunting for anything, not for food, not for drink, for nothing unless he drops a deer and is dragging it out of the woods.  Kyle was in shock over this revelation but wouldn’t give in.  Naturally, I was elected to head back with our halfway hunter, even though I wanted to stay and hunt.

While Kyle was doing his business I made a thermos of hot chocolate for us and I made dad a thermos of coffee.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the hot chocolate might not have been the best decision.

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As I was pushing deer for dad during hunting season, I walked past the cabin (a.k.a. the party shack) that my brother & cousins built. Why? For no reason … very peaceful 2013

When I finally got back to dad, taking a different route to try and push the deer in his direction from lower on the hill, I gave dad his coffee to warm him up a bit.  Dad asked “Where’s Kyle?”  Replying while I rolled my eyes, “No clue, probably a mile down the road.  You know how slow he moves and he knows the way.”  A few minutes later dad said, “I’m going to walk over to the other side of the road to look to see if anything is moving.”  Just then, here comes our great white hunter, dragging his feet up the road.  Dad turned to me and said, “Never mind.  If there was anything, they’re gone.”  That was so funny!   I did give a chuckle, as dad rolled his eyes and grinned.  We love our Kyle to death, but he can be challenging.

So we sat, and sat, waiting for movement.  Nothing.  Then Kyle takes out the thermos of hot chocolate, clicks the cap to get the liquid rolling, blows (loudly) to cool it down, then slurps up the warm drink.  Dad turned to look in our direction with a look of, ‘What is going on over there?’  It was Kyle drinking his hot chocolate as loudly as he drags his feet.  Dad was starting to loose his cool.  As per reading dad’s body language, I told Kyle to put it away and don’t get it out again.  I couldn’t believe how loud he was!  Of course looking back on it now, we can laugh over the situation, but not when the pressure was on and no deer dropped in Pa.

Dad and I continued to hunt on Monday and Tuesday.  No luck, but a lot of snow!  We went around my parents house.  I walked a few miles each day, trying to push deer, but nothing.  I love those woods, I am very familiar with them and it’s really nice stepping out the door and walking or riding the quad to our hunting spots.

Dad continued to hunt Wednesday morning.  It was more of an adventure when the dogs got out and decided to go on a day trip.  It was even better when dad and I saw them head up through my cousin’s field and they ignored dad yelling, turned and headed up through the woods.  Dad was like lightening on the quad after them, like he was the lone ranger.  Those stinkers eluded dad all the way up onto Frosty Lane.  The chase was on.  Even Gigi was calling from work while she was tracking them, as was I.  While this was going on, I would call and give dad the valuable intel of their location.  Dad said once he rounded the bend and saw Scooby, he dropped his head like ‘We’ve been discovered, our fun has come to an end.”  You see during hunting season, it’s happened when hunters will shoot the beloved four-legged friends, especially if the dogs were chasing deer.  Mean, I know!  Something none of us would EVER do, but it has happened and we desperately didn’t want to experience it for ourselves.

While tracking them I realized our boys went a lot further than we’ve ever seen them.  They also seemed to follow my lead, the same course I was pushing deer for dad from the day prior.  Obviously the dogs were mad because we kept leaving them in the house while we went through the woods hunting.  What a pair of spoiled dogs!

All in all, it was a pretty good year.  God blessed us with a buck and a doe, dad shot and a buck Kyle shot.  That meat is already butchered, wrapped and awaiting to be called upon from the freezer to be made into a meal.  Yes we gut, skin and butcher our own deer, every year.  That way you are certain it is done right and it’s your deer, no question.

Even though it was an unsuccessful hunting year for me personally, it was a great year!  Kyle and dad filled their tags and we all had a great time hanging out with each other.  Family time, nothing beats it!  There’s always next year.

Read our hunting adventures of 2013

Our Hunting Adventures … New York
Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued
Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

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

It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

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

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Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

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

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

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

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

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

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This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smallest Moments, Mean the Most

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WannaBe-80-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -5 Aunt Heather Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTE HERE!  Thrill of the Hunt

 

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

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

Dog Gone Irony!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing Towards Independence

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

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Fishing-Parker-Dam-5-18-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life’s Not Fair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Squirrel!

You can’t be friends with a squirrel!  A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.  ~Sarah Jessica Parker

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Kyle tripped over an animal carcass while walking to our next location to squirrel hunt with dad. He splattered in the snow. 2/16/13

This past Saturday, me, dad and Kyle participated in a squirrel hunt contest, hosted by Gutchess Hardwoods, mom’s work.  Everyone had two or three people to a team.  It started at daybreak and ended at 3:00 pm.  Since it’s small game season, they assigned points for the legal animals in addition to squirrel, after all it was a squirrel hunt.  We received a list of our legal targets such as coyote, crow, pheasant, rabbit and naturally squirrel, along with a point system for each.  You were docked if you shot a red squirrel.  Raccoon and fox were also on the list but I refuse to shoot either.  I don’t know who came up with the list or the point system, but both needed to be reevaluated.

I’ve only ever seen a fox once in my life, and believe it or not, it ran across the road in front of me a few months ago near my parents house.  So cool!  I felt blessed and privileged to see this miniature dog-like beast scurry past me.  Since I haven’t seen many foxes, actually only that one, and let’s face it my love for raccoons Raccoon or Cat? is an instant protector of the fury nocturnal bandits, both critters didn’t make my list of small game to shoot.  On a side note, I do want to state a fact.  If a sick animal, of any kind approaches me or my family, even a raccoon, I wouldn’t think twice about putting it down.  I told Kyle about my adjusted list and he gave me the orneriest look and said, “I’m shooting them Aunt Heather!  They are worth more points.”  I told him I’m doing it on principle.  One, “I like those animals and I don’t want to shoot them”; two “We weren’t planning on eating them, unlike the squirrels so I see no point in killing them”; and three “I’m your Aunt and you have to live with me if you do shoot them.”  With that I gave him a very unsure smile, half serious and half joking.  Turning the conversation quickly to his side, Kyle said, “Pap pap is planning on shooting them.”  I smiled and confirmed his thoughts by saying, “Yes, pappy does what he wants.”  And with that the discussion was over.

The night before we gathered up our cloths, rifles and .22 bullets, so the morning would run smoothly.  Dad let me use Ryan’s .22, while Kyle picked his semiautomatic, with what seemed like an endless clip.  I asked him, “Are you planning on turning our small game into Swiss cheese?”  He just laughed.  It’s always exciting getting ready for a day of hunting, it really is!  Even when I was younger, before I could hunt, watching mom gather dad’s stuff in preparation for the following day was exhilarating.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of what might happen and what creatures will make themselves known.

Throughout the evening Kyle kept saying, “Squirrel”.  He was cracking me up!  That was taken from the Disney movie Up.  We would be packing my trusty backpack with provisions like a Thermos of water, crackers, apples and such and Kyle would just throw out there, squirrel!  We became Thing 1 and Thing 2 echoing the word, squirrel every-now-and-again.  I don’t think anybody else got our humor.

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Kyle enjoying a fall day with his pap on the quad. 11/18/03

The next morning didn’t move as swiftly as I’d like.  Dad is slowing up in his old age.  He used to be dressed, fed, at his location,  and ready and waiting for the action, even before sunrise.  Not so much now-a-days, but he’s still faster than Kyle, just not what he used to be.  Right before we headed out I let the boys run around in the snow.  I swear they saw the guns and saw us getting layered up for the cold, and knew they weren’t invited.  So Scooby and Seven took it upon themselves to go for their own walk.  I’m guessing they were mad at me for not taking them on their hike the week prior.  So this little hiccup delayed us because dad had to leave on the quad and go and track down the bad dogs.

As dad was playing bounty hunter, Kyle and I headed up the woods in dad’s direction.  Would you believe Kyle complained the entire way up the hill?  Yep!  He didn’t want to wear his bibs, or his hat, or a T-shirt under his bibs (he wanted to go bare chested), or warm socks, or gloves and he certainly didn’t want to walk with all the clothing on while holding his own .22.  That’s our Kyle, it wouldn’t be a day without some sort of complaining about clothing or walking.  I will admit, he was sweating under his gear, which is not good when it’s cold out, but he needs to learn to layer when needed and strip down when he’s hot, preferably without whining.  If it was up to him, he would have left in the snow with a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops.  Not on my watch, when it was clearly freezing outside.

We reached the top of the hill and made ourselves a spot on a rock.  It was such a pretty day!  The snow fell all night long and covered everything with fresh fluffy snow, like the ground and trees were covered in cotton balls.  Since the weather moved in, all the animals hunkered down in the morning and weren’t moving around, not good for hunting, but very peaceful.  Dad said he saw coyote tracks and deer tracks, but no squirrel.  In addition to the woodpecker we heard, Kyle and I heard a crow in the distance but nothing within visibility.

Eventually we walked down the road near the cabin.  To create a little adventure and to follow the dogs tracks, Kyle and I followed the power line right away down to our location.  Along the way, Kyle tripped and splattered down the hill in the powder.  I turned around and saw him flattened on the ground, partially covered in snow.  His rifle flew out of his hand and landed a foot away from him.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  At first, I started laughing, especially when Kyle lifted his snow covered, bright red faced, black dog hat wearing head up at me.  After I helped him out of the snow and shook most of the cold fluff from his limbs, I noticed an object surfaced from the ground.  Kyle tripped over a carcass of some small animal.  Really?  I just walked through there and managed to make it without raising the dead.  Not Kyle.  Once I pointed out the ribcage, Kyle joined in on my laughter.

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Kyle after he pulled himself out of the snow. He loves that .22. 2/16/13

Then, you think Kyle got it out of his system, but nope.  After the three of us sat in the woods near a tree holding squirrels nests and saw nothing, we decided to head back home.  Dad was on the quad and Kyle and I were on foot, well at least for a little while.  In middle of the path there was a huge branch off to the side.  I get it when the objects are camouflaged by the snow, but when they are clearly visible there is no reason to trip over them.  Apparently, Kyle didn’t get the memo because the next thing I knew, he splattered all over the ground again.  Really?  Yep!  At this time, I lost it.  I was between seriously expressing my amusement and my amazement.  Walking right beside Kyle, I was laughing all the way down the hill, that is until Kyle realized he lost his small clip.  Yes the child has a small clip that same with the gun and a larger one courtesy of his pappy. Kyle, clearly upset over this discovery stated, with absolute certainty that the clip used to be tucked away in his pocket.

After we backtracked, and by the grace of God found the clip, we headed back to the house again.  This time we decided to cut down through the woods to pop out onto our neighbors driveway.  Would you believe just as we approached the clearing, Kyle did it again?  Yes!  He fell again!  To be honest, at this point I’m glad we had a few inches of fresh power to break his falls.  If not, that kid would have been pretty bruised and possibly bloody.  I turned to Kyle and said, “Buddy, what is wrong with you?  First day with the new feet?  I have never seen someone fall as many times as you have in one day, let along one morning!”  Kyle seemed to be accustomed to his consistency of gravity taking hold of him because he just started laughing and laughing.  At least he was amusing himself!  To really make light of the situation I said, “What are you trying to wrestle the squirrels?”

We giggled over Kyle’s actions all the way to the paved road.  Then it dawned on me that this is a recipe for disaster.  Trying to give fair warning, I commented “Kyle you better be careful on the road, if you fall again, it’s really going to hurt.”  Kyle considered this and said nothing.

We made it back to the house and enjoyed the rest of the day inside.  I really had a lot of fun, even though there wasn’t any movement.  It’s nice sometimes to just get out in the fresh, crisp air and enjoy the silence and beauty God gave us.

Eventually around 1:00 pm, our neighbor called and said Seven and Scooby was hanging around his house.  Yep those dogs were running from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm.  I took the quad up the road and had them follow me back, into the punishment of mom.  Needless to day, they spent most of the day under the kitchen table being punished for their rebellion.  Maybe if they could say ‘squirrel’ there scolding wouldn’t have been so harsh.  Perhaps next time I’ll prep them a little better.

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