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Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.  ~Fred Rogers


Me during a Winterguard performance at Latrobe High School. We were wearing yellow ribbons in support of our troops during Desert Storm.  c.1990

Being a Latrobe native, I have a special place in my heart for the city of Latrobe. Actually, let’s face it, I can’t just say I’m from Latrobe, I exude of Latrobe pride. Yep, I am a Latrobean through and through. Some may know Latrobe for the originator of Rolling Rock Beer or being the home of the Steeler Training Camp. But there is so much more to Latrobe, unbeknownst to many, including myself until I started digging.  Since I just recently brought a Thrill of the Hunt Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt? to Latrobe, here are some fun facts about my hometown.  On a side note, if you get a moment, check out the pictures from the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt.  They are hilarious!

First let’s start with the pronunciation of Latrobe.  It is correctly pronounced (leɪˈtroʊb), with the “LA”, in front of TROVB.  However, if you are a native to Latrobe you pronounce it (lay-trobe) with a long “A” sound.  Subtle, but a huge noticeable difference.

 Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

United States Census Bureau

  • Population was 8,235 (2012)
  • 2.16 persons per household (2007-2011)
  • Land area in square miles – 2.23 (2010)
  • Persons per square mile – 3,600.2 (2010)
  • Situated in the eastern part of Westmoreland County, in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands region


  • In 1750, recorded of first white man
  • Christopher Gist (surveyor for the Ohio Company) passed through Latrobe
  • In 1765, many owned land in Latrobe including first Congressman to represent Westmoreland County,William Findley
  • In 1851, official founding of Latrobe began when Oliver Barnes (civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad) purchased Thomas Kirk’s 140-acre farm
  • Latrobe was named after Barnes college roommate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe never set foot in the town
  • 1852 founded by Oliver Barnes, a civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • In May of 1854, Latrobe was officially incorporated
  • In June of 1854, a borough government was established (at a meeting in the home of David Williams, contractor for the Pennsylvania Railroad)
  • Latrobe is named after Barnes best friend & college classmate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe was a civil engineer for the B&O Railroad
  • Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Henry Latrobe was the architect who rebuilt the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. after the War of 1812
  • Youngstown, Pa. was established more than 50 years before Latrobe (George Washington stayed in the Youngstown Hotel)
  • About 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh
  • Early residents included Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca and Mingoe Indians (fished in the Loyalhanna River)
  • In 1999, declared a city

Greater Latrobe Marching Band (part of) senior night. Yes, the Colorguard were pirates! c. 1993


  • One of the first in the nation to use Pay-per-Parking app
  • Home of golf legend Arnold Palmer – born & raised
  • Home of Mr. Fred Rogers – born, raised & died
  • Home of the Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College
  • In 1770s, the Unity Chapel was built (Presbyterian)
  • In 1780s, the first Catholic parish was formed
  • In the 1840s, The Benedictine Monks were established in Latrobe
  • In 1852, the Pennsylvania Car Works began building railroad cars
  • In 1900, first Jewish congregation, the Beth Israel was established
  • In 1904, pharmacist David Strickler created the banana split
  • In 1910, Latrobe Area Hospital began with the School of Nursing
  • In 1927, Latrobe Public Library started  (2,500 volumes – 500 books issued first day opened)
  • George Hamilton Adams (freight agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad) left in his will for a new building for the library
  • In 1954, the new library opened named Adams’ Memorial Library in his honor
  • In 1938, Kennametal, global leader of mining and construction tooling, and national leader of metalworking products was established

Even More

  • Latrobe Art Center offers classes for budding artists and exhibits local artists’ work
  • Built in 1903, the Latrobe Train Station (DiSalvo’s Station) functioned as a railroad station up to 1970
  • In the 1980s, the train station was restored and in 1986 was registered as a national historic landmark
  • The DiSalvo family purchased the train station in 1989 – added Italian restaurant
  • Amtrak service is available in the historic landmark train station (houses DiSalvo’s Station- fine Italian restaurant)
  • Westmoreland Scenic Railroad offers a train ride through the Laurel Highlands
  • Today Latrobe Area encompasses the city of Latrobe, Derry and Unity Townships, and the boroughs of Derry, New Alexandria and Youngstown

Christy Queer, Andrea Shafran & Me the Captains of Colorguard/Winterguard our senior year. 1993-1994

Greater Latrobe Schools

  • Students who take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT) consistently score above state and national averages
  • Over 80% of graduates go on to post-secondary education (either 2 or 4 year college or trade school)
  • Computer instruction begins in kindergarten
  • All 3 elementary schools are lined into the district-wide network
  • All middle and high school students and faculty members have their own laptops computers lined to building-wide networks by wireless connections (NETSchools)
  • GLSD was the 1st school in Pennsylvania to implement a program of NETSchools initiative – all students have immediate access
  • In 1936, the Special Collection was started by 2 teachers to develop the students’ appreciation for the arts
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School has the Center for the Student Creativity – designed to integration the arts into education
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School houses the Special Collection of Greater Latrobe School District (about 200 works of original regional art)


As I was holding the Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Kyle and I met up with my cousins Dr. John Olczak and his wife Sherry.  While we were catching up during lunch, John was reliving his undergrad days at Saint Vincent with Kyle.  He also mentioned that his dad, my Uncle Frank and my grandpap Chester, along with all the other brothers, Uncle Tex, Uncle Walter they used to caddy at the Latrobe Country Club.  Now that he said that, I kind of remember hearing about it,  However, what I didn’t know was my grandpap and his brothers were taught to golf by the same man who taught Arnold Palmer.  True story!

Arnold Palmer

  • His childhood home was close to the 6th hole at the Latrobe Country Club
  • His father was the club’s course superintendent & golf professional
  • At 11 years old started caddying
  • By 17 years old won his first 5 West Penn Amateur Championships
  • Attended Wake Forest University then joined the Coast Guard for 3 years
  • Married Winifred (Wini) Waltzer
  • In the fall of 1954 turned golf professional
  • Won 92 championships in professional competitions starting in the 1955 Canadian Open
  • During the 1960s, National Associated Press poll named him the “Athlete of the Decade”
  • Won the Masters Tournament 4 times
  • Won the British Open 2 times
  • Won the U.S. Open once

Marching in the Latrobe Parade… the Colorguard wasn’t so lucky to wear T-shirts & shorts.  Sequins in heat is not pretty!  c. 1991

Mr. Fred Rogers

  • Born in Latrobe in 1928
  • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was inspired by the streets of Latrobe
  • In 1953, he joined the staff of WQED Pittsburgh (nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station)
  • In 1955, won the Sylvania Award for best locally-produced children’s program “The Children’s Corner” (featured music & puppets)
  • In 1963, ordained as a Presbyterian minister
  • In 1966, debut of “MisteRogers”, became national in 1968
  • Show was renamed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood so began the famous trolley and “Land of Make Believe” populated by Lady Elaine, Fairchilde, Kind Friday XIII and Henrietta Pussycat
  • Recipient of 2 George Foster Peabody Awards and “Lifetime Achievement” Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (nation’s highest civilian honor)
  • Died in February 2003


Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

  • Charles B. Carroll, a Scottdale resident would use Saint Vincent Aviation field as a landing (meadow of clover on a hilltop at Saint Vincent College)
  • In 1919, 2 Army Pathfinders made an emergency landing
  • Carroll leased the pasture at the junction of Lincoln Highway and Manito Road (now US Rt. 30 & Rt. 981)
  • In 1924,  Longview Flying Field was open for business
  • Built hangers to house the military army surplus planes
  • The pilots were soon called “Longview Boys” or “Carroll’s Hooligans”
  • In 1926, Longview Flying Field held 4 aricraft – 4th highest in Pennsylvania
  • Longview Flying Field ranked 4th highest in number of flights and 3rd in number of passengers
  • Carroll renamed the field J.D. Hill Airport, 4 years after opening (in honor of his friend who was killed in 1927 during an attempt to cross the Atlantic to Italy
  • In 1935, christened Latrobe Airport after Carroll and Latrobe joined forces to expand runways
  • May 12, 1939, the Latrobe Airport (now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport) hosted the country’s first scheduled airmail pickup
  •  In 1950, the former farmland was formally purchased from the Kerr family by Latrobe Borough
  • Next few years the Tri-County Municipal Authority was formed
  • In 1958, Bruno Ferrari took over management, then became known as the Westmoreland-Latrobe Airport (officially a commercial facility)
  • 20 years later became known as Westmoreland County Airport
  • In 1999, renamed in celebration of Arnold Palmer
  • Today handles about 50,000 aircraft departures and landings each year
  • Runway can accommodate aircraft up to a 727
  • 125 planes are based there (half are for business use and half for recreational use)
  • Amenities include: free parking, flight training (Westmoreland Aviation), aircraft maintenance, car rental, charter service, restaurant (DeNunzio’s), travel agency and gift shop
  • US International Airways maintains a terminal
  • A study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found that the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport contributes to $51 million annually to the economics of the surrounding area

During a Latrobe football game.. I could never sit there that long without moving around…c. 1993


  • In 1895, John Brallier was one of the earliest football players to openly turn pro
  • Brallier’s compensation was $10 plus expenses when agreed to play for the Latrobe YMCA against Jeannette Athletic Club
  • In 1897, Latrobe Athletic Association was the 1st to field a team made up entirely of paid professional players that played a full season
  • Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College since 1969 – 3rd longest continuously running site in the National Football League

Rolling Rock Beer

  • In 1939, Rolling Rock began brewing beer by the Latrobe Brewing Company in downtown Latrobe
  • 4.6% abv (alcohol by volume) pale lager
  • Mid 2006 sold to Anheuser-Bush (Moved to Newark, NJ)
  • 7 oz. bottle of beer that became known as a “pony”
  • Number 33 is printed prominently on all bottles of Rolling Rock
  • Many speculation about the number 33
    • The “33” refers to the founding year of the Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 33 degrees is the proper temperature to keep beer
    • Latrobe test-brewed 33 batches of beer before coming up with the final formula for Rolling Rock (which I thought was a recipe from the Saint Vincent Monks)
    • There were exactly 33 stair steps from the brewmaster’s office to the brewing floor in the original Latrobe brewery
    • The PA fish & game commission at the turn of the century numbered the streams within the commonwealth and the water that was used to brew this beer was taken from the stream numbered 33
    • Marked the repeal of prohibition in 1933
    • “33” signifies the 33 words in the beer’s original pledge of quality, which is still printed on every bottle
    • An executive wrote “33” at the end of the slogan, indicating the number of words, to be used as a guide for the bottle printers. Assuming it was part of the text and incorporated it into the label graphics
  • The current pledge is on the 12 oz. bottles, while the “little nip” pledge is from the 7 oz. bottle version

Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Current pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle

A little nip from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe. We tender this package as a premium beer for your delight and economical use. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Original pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Bees

If the bee disappears from the surface of the globe, man would have no more than four years to live.  ~Albert Einstein (attributed)

honeybee Aunt Heather PiperIn this digital age, does anyone really read magazines?  I mean the real deal.  I do!  Now let’s not get silly, anyone who knows me, knows I love my books, the real printed pages of complete escapes into other worlds, yet I mostly read magazines and newspapers online.  That is until I had to use up some frequent flyer miles and chose to order a few magazines.  Among my mix, Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, Entertainment, Fortune and Time.  Do I read them?  You bet I do!  Why not, there is a lot of information in those pages.  Do I actually read the articles?  Yes I do!  Now granted, sometimes they pile up until I have the opportunity to address the piled stacks of printed pages, but I really truly try to give them attention.  Some articles interest me more than others but I do at least skim through those pieces.

Recently, I got Kyle into reading a few found articles.  One was the Auntie Anne’s franchise, since Kyle is such a fan of the soft pretzels.  It told of how one women created herself an empire, starting off at the farmers market with her little idea.  He loved it!

honeybee on flower-Aunt Heather PiperI also had Kyle read a few articles in Fortune about the Apple company.  He loves their products and was very interested to hear about any new technologies, how the company is doing and such.  Pretty cool coming from a twelve year old.

Anyway, why my dissertation on magazine articles?  Simply because I came across one that I found so interesting, I couldn’t just let it go.  It was in the August issue of Time magazine.  It was an article on honeybees and their demise.  This article was pretty thorough and I found it very intriguing, maybe because I am a fan of honey, as is the rest of my family, especially Kyle.  Dad loves to get the honeycomb and eat it.

Years ago I read an article that stated, when consuming honey over long periods of time, it was said to decrease allergies.  Since then, Kyle has held that near and dear to his heart.  So when any one of us gets sick or seems to be filling the effects of seasonal allergens, Kyle becomes the honey pusher.  Literally!  Once he made me a bowl of oatmeal and there was so much honey in it, I swear he invited an entire hive to stop by and regurgitate into my bowl.   Love that kid!

According to Hannah Nordhaus “Honeybees are the glue that holds our agricultural system together.”  I hope you enjoy this information as much as I did.  It was pretty much taken directly from the article.  Enjoy!

Random Fun Facts:  Bees     

Bee History 

  • Bees are not a natural resident to North America
  • 17th century bees were imported to the continent
  • The oldest known honeybee specimen dates from 100 million years ago
  • During the 17th century, Ian Swammerdam discovered that the king bee had ovaries and was in fact a queen
  • In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, a scientist predicted that within 100 years artificial cultivation of honeybees would have a sever consequence on the bee population
  • There’s an Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern in Switzerland
  • Honeybee, also known as Apis Mellifera
  • There are more than 20,000 species of bees worldwide, only 6 main types are kept commercially (Italian, Russian, Carniolan, Caucasian, German, Buckfast)


Bee Basics

  • There is the worker bee, drone bee and queen bee
  • Worker – construction, storage, keeping the nursery, guarding, care-taking, scouting and foraging, lives 20-30 days
  • Drone – mates with virgin queen in midair, can fly backward, rotate and flip, dies after mating
  • Queen – lays up to 1,500 eggs a day, secretes pheromones to control workers, lives 3-7 years
  • Honeybees can fly as far as 5 miles (8km) in search of forage
  • The queen bee communicates by dance
  • 1/12 teaspoon is the amount a worker bee will produce during its short life

honeycomb-Aunt Heather Piper

The Hive

  • A colony typically has 20,000 to 30,000 bees
  • The colony creates a winter ecosystem during the winters months and lives off honey
  • Bees use their wings to generate warmth
  • Middle-aged worker bees build by attaching each comb to the walls of the hive, requires more than 2lbs. of wax
  • A worker bee can visit 100 flowers and carry more than half its weight in pollen in a single trip
  • To produce 1lb. of honey, hive workers fly a collective of 55,000 miles, while tapping 2,000,000 flowers


Bee Anatomy

  • Bees have 5 eyes (2 large and 3 ocelli used to detect light intensity) The workers have nearly 7,000 lenses
  • Bees have 2 sets of wings.  The rapid flapping generates warmth and evaporates water from nectar to make honey
  • Bees have wing hooks, which enable them to attach 1 of each set of wings together during flight for maximum efficiency
  • A charge on the bees hair attracts pollen, known as electrostatic charge
  • The proboscis is an airtight, strawlike tube that sucks up nectar and also works in reverse to feed offspring from a honey stomach
  • Bees’ jaws help bite and pack pollen as well as shape wax for building honeycombs
  • Bees have a 2nd reservoir where nectar is temporarily stored before being regurgitated
  • Bees have a pollen basket, this is a sac attached to the rear leg.  The legs scrape pollen from front to back and is collected there.
  • Bees have wax plates.  They secrete the wax from beneath plates on their abdomen and use it to build honeycombs
  • A bees venom (a unique mixture of chemicals) has been known to destroy HIV
  • A barb prevents a bee’s stinger from being pulled out.  The bee tears its abdomen while freeing itself before dying

Flying honeybee Aunt Heather Piper.jpg

 The Dance

  • Scout workers locate food and alert fellow foragers location with a series of dance moves
  • Through the number of turns, the duration of the dance and the moves themselves, the scout can communicate the distance to the food, the angle of the food to the sun and whether it is near or far
  • The scout dances in a figure-eight shape to tell other workers to fly toward the sun
  • Number of dance patterns in a given time indicates distance
  • The angle to which the scout dances gives the angle (relative to the hive and the sun)



  • Bees bring in $15 billion in value for farming each year
  • In the winter of 2012, 1/3 of U.S. honeybee colonies died or disappeared (42% increase from the previous year)
  • Normal winters beekeepers experience 10% to 15% losses
  • California’s most valuable agricultural export, the almond ($4 billion) is at risk of decline or collapse
  • Almonds are totally dependent on honeybees
  • Honeybees increase the yield of fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupes, cranberries and cucumbers
  • Bees (unnatural to the continent) are a  man-made, mercantile ecosystem that helps bring big revenue for grocery stores, super centers and such
  • Studies have shown that honeybee pollen was contaminated on average of 9 different pesticides and fungicides
  • European Commission put a 2-year restriction on the use of some neonicotinoids

Suggestions for the disappearance?

  • Agricultural pesticides
  • Bee killing pest like Varroa destructor (a parasitic mite)
  • Bacterial and viral diseases
  • Neonicotinoids
  • American foulbrood, a bacterial disease
  • Hive beetle, a pest that can infiltrate and contaminate colonies
  • Fungal infections like Nosema ceranae
posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Add Thrill of the Hunt to the Latrobe List

The road to success is always under construction. ~Arnold Palmer


Nick & Kyle hanging with Brutus at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe Pa. 2013

Being a Latrobe native doesn’t just mean that I have a specific location I can point to on the map and declare, ‘I’m from here!’  Nope!  Stating this fact holds a lot more, the history, the traditions, those who have paved the way for others and also the pride of the people and surrounding areas.

Many can claim the same about their area, but we, Latrobeans are truly a special breed. I’m not saying my broad stroke, ideal perception is consistent across the board one hundred percent true for everyone, but from my observations and where my heart stands, it is.

Latrobe is one of those typical small towns. You know the kind, most everyone knows each other and in my case because I’m a Piper, somehow I’m related to everyone. Latrobe is also large enough to give a little elbow room when desired. Originally it was a borough and then made into a city. Latrobe was named after Benjamin Latrobe. It’s true, it’s not suppose to be pronounced with a long “a” sound. However, if you are from Latrobe, you use the incorrect pronunciation, that’s our badge of honor and proof that we are true Latrobeans.  Yes I know, we also have the typical Western Pennsylvania slang, and distinct accent criticized by all, but there is so much more.

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Scavenger-Hunt-Banana-Split-Latrobe-Pa-2013-Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at the Banana Split Festival at our Thrill of the Hunt booth in Latrobe, Pa. 8/24/13

What else makes Wildcat Country truly special? Well, lets start with the accomplishments surfacing from this area and the people. Even though it’s not official because it was never really proven, Latrobe is home to the first professional football game ever played. At least, that’s how I always understood it. Incidentally, Latrobe is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp, held at Saint Vincent College every year. Latrobe, mirroring our neighbor Pittsburgh has very much the same die hard type of personality. “Pittsburghers” are known world wide for their dedication to the city, especially the Steelers. I mean, we have Steelernation! Latrobe projects the same pride and love of the city, for both Pittsburgh and Latrobe.

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Scavenger-Hunt-Banana-Split-Latrobe-Pa-2013 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & what I thought was a Guerrilla Girl (nope). Banana Split Festival in Latrobe Pa. at the Thrill of the Hunt booth. 8/24/13

Saint Vincent College, Latrobe’s very own, unbeknownst to many has a history that impacted many around the world for different reasons. Long before the college was the Steelers training home base, Saint Vincent Church was the first Benedictine monastery in the United States, founded by Boniface Wimmer, a monk from Bavaria Germany. The monks not only started the Catholic tradition and built a beautiful church that turned into the college, but they also held the recipe for Rolling Rock Beer, home grown form the fields of good old Latrobe Pennsylvania.

Growing up around the Rolling Rock Brewery, I never realized how famous the beer really was, until one trip changed all that. During one of my senior high band field trips, we went to New York City. A small town Latrobe girl in the big apple. Naturally, we did all the touristy things, but on our final day, we participated in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. On a side note, up until that point, that was the most I’ve ever walked in one trip, ever! My feet and legs were so sore from marching miles on the New York streets I thought I would collapse. Anyway, as we marched along, and the crowds took note of our banner, ‘Greater Latrobe Marching Band’, they began to yell. It wasn’t making fun, or ridiculing us in any way, it was praise and excitement! They were yelling, “Latrobe! #33 Rolling Rock!” I’m not talking a small group of drunken individuals. I’m talking pretty much the entire city of New York! We were famous! Living in my own corner of the world being oblivious to outsiders, I had no idea that anyone knew who we were! Let alone loved us! People, cheered for our group of Latrobe natives and truly loved recognizing us. It was great! It was at that moment, I didn’t take it for granted that I was a Latrobean, a Wildcat!


Nick & Kyle making a friend (Brutus) at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, Pa. 2013

Beer is not only our claim to fame and neither are our black and yellow footfall fans. Latrobe has birthed some inspiring people. One being Mr. Fred Rogers who graduated from Latrobe High School. Actually, my grandpap Chester went to school with him and I believe Mr. Rogers was the class president. Graduating from the freshly built Latrobe Senior High School, my mom and brother and sister all walked down the same halls and graduated from the same alma mater. Mr. Rogers lived not far from my parents house in Edgewater. Some may not know or remember the TV personality, but he had a show for children on PBS, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001). One of his sweaters is actually on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. He had many more accomplishments, but he was made famous from his show and calming personality.


Ice-Cream Joe, Valley Dairy (My first job) in celebration of the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe, Pa. 8/24/13

A friend of Mr. Rogers, and matching or perhaps exceeding in popularity would be our very own golf professional, Arnold Palmer. Yep the inducted World Golf Hall of Fame Latrobean was born and breed in the area. He too doesn’t live far from my parents house, right down the road from the Greater Latrobe High School. Every once in a while, I would see him pulling out of his driveway and I heard he still flies his plane in and out of the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe. Personally, I’ve never met the man, but I’ve known many who have and have commented on what a great guy he is. He was not only known in the golf world but to presidents too. I remember when Mr. Palmer’s wife, Winny (Winifred) passed away, former president George Herbert Walker Bush came to town to pay his respects.

More recently, Latrobe made their mark again with proving they are the home of the original banana split. Yes, invented by Latrobean David Strickler came the banana split. He didn’t just stop there, he also created the banana split boat to hold the ice-cream dessert.

This past weekend was the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe. Great time by all! I represented Thrill of the Hunt as part of the local vendors. We had a perfect sunny day and I loved running into old friends and meeting some new ones. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive about our start-up company. It was inspiring!


The New Playland in Legion Keener Park, Latrobe Pa. 2013

Latrobe has produced greatness, yet remains humble and true to our roots. I love this city and what it stands for. Thrill of the Hunt is home grown in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and I hope my company will continue to bring the pride back to Latrobe like many before me.

There is a lot more to Latrobe and I just touched on a few. Everyone should take some time and visit this lovely area, nestled in at the base of the Laurel Highlands. And those who have since moved away, should stop back. It’s a great place to live and do business. I am proud to be a Latrobean through and through. Even Kyle has taken on the title of Latrobe native, well after all he was born and partially raised here. He considers himself a Wildcat and I agree, he is!


posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Oooh I Like Johnny Depp!

I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.  ~Johnny Depp

Faces of Johnny Depp Aunt Heather PiperA few years ago, Kyle and I attended the movies and naturally while waiting for the paid entertainment of choice, we were forced to watch a slew of movie trailers, one promoting a Johnny Depp movie.  I think it was Dark Shadows but I truly can’t remember.  Anyway, what threw me for a loop, was Kyle’s response to said trailer.  After he saw it showcased the premiere actor Johnny Depp, Kyle said, “Ooooh Johnny Depp!  I like him, he’s a pretty good actor.”  I just smiled.  That was such a funny and unexpected comment to jump out of Kyle’s mouth.  I didn’t even know he knew who Johnny Depp was, let alone liked him!  Although, at this point in my life, I should be acutely aware of Kyle’s attention to detail and observation.  Not to mention he’s a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and I’m a fan of the quirky actor myself, probably commenting on Johnny Depp a time or two.

Soon after that instance, every now and again, the Johnny Depp conversation would make its appearance.  Usually, due to another movie to re-spark Kyle’s interest.  He’s always commented, “I think Johnny Depp is funny.” or “Johnny Depp’s a good actor.” or “Does Johnny Depp always wear weird make-up?”  Then, usually after making Johnny Depp new again, Kyle usually finishes the conversation with, “Umm I should watch the Pirates of the Caribbean again!”  One of his stables, along with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As the conversation makes its usual progression, it shifts slightly and Kyle tries to recall all the Johnny Depp movies.  Like he’s ever heard of Cry Baby or Platoon, but I enjoy the direction and the challenge of our interaction.  A neat exercise that includes Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Rango.  Then, I help Kyle recall a few of my favorites like, Sleepy Hallow (the headless horseman is one of my favorite Halloween stories) and Finding Neverland.  Being slightly older than my little man, I am able to recall a few more movies he’s never seen or has even heard of such as, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetThrashin’, and Edward Scissorhands (another one of my favorites).  Let’s not forget 21 Jump Street, the show and the movie (yes he made a cameo at the end of the movie).  There are many more, but those are the ones that stand out in my head and seem to make the list within our discussions.

So I guess to answer Kyle’s initial question, “Does Johnny Depp always wear that weird make-up?”, the answer is no, he does not and he doesn’t always play funny.  Although I think he does silly well!

Two weeks ago, before the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’, I took Kyle to see Despicable Me 2.  What do you think flashed across the big screen?  Yep!  Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger.  We both agreed that, that movie was on our list of must sees.  Although that lucky little bugger went to see The Lone Ranger with my sister when they were in New Hampshire, on their road-trip tour of the New England States.   Only that kid!  When I asked him if he liked the movie, he said “Umm good.”  At least that’s as much enthusiasm I get from him for anything other than Legos. So it must been pretty good.


Kyle likes the roles Johnny Depp plays.  As do I, but I also have grown up with him on the big screen.  Once I saw an interview, well let’s face it I’ve seen many interviews involving Johnny Depp over the years, but this one brought a smile to my face.  Pretty recently he was talking about his kids.  He said he loved taking his son Jack to school, but his son was not happy about the arrangement.  I had the same situation with Kyle.  Kyle would let me drop him off, but I was no longer allowed to walk him inside and certainly not to his classroom.  Forget about giving me a hug and Lord forbid a smooch on the cheek!  Johnny Depp had the same situation.  That entire conversation cracked me up!  It brought Johnny Depp out of the spotlight and into common reality.  During the interview, he was not a superstar celebrity but a dad who enjoyed hanging out and being a part of his kids’ life.  It was refreshing!

His little boy Jack had no idea who his dad is and he certainly had no idea who his dad is to the rest of the world.  Makes you realize that you never truly know what you have.  Instead of showing off his dad or really playing up the hype, Jack was pushing him away like any other child of his age.

I read another story on how Johnny’s daughter was really sick and in the hospital.  To repay the facility and those who took care of her, besides donating a million dollars to the hospital, he also visited the sick kids.  Not as Johnny Depp, but as Captain Jack Sparrow!  He spent most of the day walking around and reading to the kids as the famous captain himself.  Too cool!  What a way to give back!

Funny story.  Once, years ago when I had Kyle up to the Foggy Goggle at Seven Springs Ski Resort while snowboarding, we passed by a larger than human sized Captain Morgan statue.  Kyle turned to me and pointed saying, “Look Aiya, Captain Jack Sparrow!”   Too cute and too funny.  I just encouraged his thought.  Besides, he doesn’t need to know about the Captain Morgan Rum Pirate, at least not yet.

Maybe one day Kyle and I would be able to meet this intriguing actor, whom we both are fans.  More than that, I’m just hoping Johnny Depp keeps his nose clean, at least in the eyes of the news.  I would hate for Kyle to be disappointed by the actions of someone he admires.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Heather?

She isn’t my mother.
She isn’t my sister.
She’s one of the family
Who’s more like a friend.
She has fun with me,
laughs with me,
listens to me, encourages me.
She spends time with me,
believes in me,
shares with me, cheers for me.
She understands me like a mother.
She’s there for me like a sister.
And perhaps best of all –
she loves me like a friend. ~Kimberly Rinchart


Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Picnic

My little man, what else can I say? I’ve reviewed how Kyle resembles my brother – his dad, my sister – his Aunt Nikki, my dad – his pappy, and my mom – his Gigi. There are a lot of cross over similarities and yet there are some traits that are distinctly a particular person.

Does Kyle resemble me at all? He sure does! Yes it’s true, Kyle is more of the engineering mind, but he is also a rare bread, complete with innovation, a strong personality, social skills and a  business visionary.

Obviously, Kyle’s physical traits don’t really resemble mine much. I will admit we do have the same type of skin, at least at this point in his life.  Also our noses.  We both have the perfect button noses.  A trait I’ve claimed as ours.  As for all other physical traits, you can’t even tell he’s related to me, our body types are different.  We don’t stand the same, or walk the same, and our outward presentations are not similar, not in the slightest.  If we talk about personality traits, now we’re getting somewhere!

As a baby just learning to walk, Kyle was always very structured.  What I mean is that everything had to be perfectly aligned.  Perfectly!  Kyle loved his Matchbox Cars, literally having hundreds of them. He would take the cars out one-by-one, examine them, and then line them up on the coffee table in rows. Every car was facing the same direction, front bumper to back, in perfect lines, until the entire coffee table was covered in Matchbox Cars.  That’s all he would do until it was time to put them away. Well, except if I was being ornery.

Kyle-in-Aunt-Heather-Piper-sunglasses-laughing 11-18-03

Me & Kyle screwing around with my sunglasses 11/18/03

Once when Kyle was nearly finished placing the cars, I waited for the perfect time for him to look away to retrieve another car.  I took my foot and pushed the coffee table over so the cars slid off and all landed on the floor. I know it sounds mean, but the look on his face was hilarious!  He was first in complete shock like he just witnessed an earthquake for his cars.  Then, as he noticed my foot still on the evidence, a complete realization of what just happened settled in.  His nose crinkled, his face soured, and he came over to me and begin to push my foot off the side of the table saying “No Aiya! No!”  Making it very clear that this was no acceptable behavior.  He looked like my sister when she gets angry with me!  I know, it’s not nice to tease, but it’s good to shake things up with these engineers.  Keeps it real.

Kyle not only aligned his cars but also his juice boxes in the refrigerator.  They had to be right side-up, facing front in a perfect line on the shelf. Let me tell you about convenience stores. If I would extract a bottle of water from inside the cooler, Kyle would realign the bottles making sure all the labels were facing out.  If the second bottle didn’t slide down to the front, then Kyle would help it along.  Bystanders that have actually witnessed this behavior, smiled at the precious narcissistic little boy.  I will admit, I tend to have the same disposition, everything orderly, tidy and aligned.  I do notice details, as does Kyle, and sometimes the smallest things drive me crazy.  Although, Kyle tends to be very selective with his details and neatness.  He is not always consistent but the natural tendencies are certainly there.

Granted as Kyle grows and as he is presented with different situations, he shows traits from all of us, including his business mind. Not everyone has the ability to be structured and think out of the box and use forward thinking.  My brother had a business mind, as does my dad and both equally have the work ethic to accompany such talents.  I do believe I possess these traits as well, similar to Kyle.  He has this unique thinking of setting and accomplishing goals and the ability to understand the idea of profit while maintaining the integrity of business.  A regular businessman.  How do I know?  I’m not just making a broad statement.  He has proved it through the interaction and assistance of my company The Piper Corporation (Thrill of the Hunt, SpyRing).  Yes with the little involvement he has had, he has shown me all these traits.  He is also a natural leader and he knows how to (and does without any quorums) delegate.  Once I teach him to properly follow up and address everyone with respect, and learn how to really utilize resources, he will be a force to reckon with.  I just hope I am able to instill a good work ethic and appropriate business practices with good moral intentions.


Me & Kyle at Idlewild… he is always a lot of fun at every age!  I love his perfectly round head!

Kyle’s people skills are pretty impressive!  He knows how to use his manners and speak directly to others.  Granted, sometimes he is a bit too direct, but like me, I love the candor and tend to steer in that direction.  Again as he matures, I can see his social skills tightening up and sharpening.  He already knows how to work a crowd to get their attention and to get what he wants, similar to his Aunt Heather.

As much as Kyle thinks, and he is a thinker, he forgets to think equally as much.  This behavior tends to get us both in sticky situations.

We both love to fish and I will admit, like Kyle, if I’m doing something I like, I want to perfect it and practice beforehand. Story time! Once when I was in elementary school, probably a little younger than Kyle is now, I decided to go outside and take advantage of the nice day and practice casting my fishing pole.  At the time mom had a dogwood tree in the middle of the yard.  Why is this relevant?  Because as I repeatedly cast my pole, I would caught a branch and have to pull my line out.  One would think that I would have just moved away from the tree, after all I had an entire yard.  But nope, I stood my ground until I cast my line in the top of the tree and couldn’t pull it out.   Yikes!  I didn’t know what to do.  Naturally the smart thing to do would have to cut the line.  Not me!  Instead I decreased the slack on the line and pulled the entire pole toward the top of the tree.  Yes, I let the fishing pole hang there in the dogwood tree.  Later that day, when dad came home from work, he noticed it instantly and asked no one in particular, in a very even toned voice, “Why is there a fishing pole in the tree?” I said, “I was practicing my casting and it got stuck.”  Nonchalantly dad replied, “Well don’t you think you better get it out?”  I knew I should, but for the life of me I didn’t realize at the time, breaking the line was an option, that is until weeks later when dad did just that.


Me & Kyle rocking the night away at Chad’s Wedding

Sometimes Kyle goes on his one track-mind and doesn’t bother to open his eyes to those around him.  I’m sure this will change as he grows, after all he is a sincere caring kid.  He is not malicious in anyway.  Although, I do the same, but it’s only because my mind is usually focused on other things, probably similar to Kyle’s.  At this point in his life, I would put my life on it, that it’s Legos!  Over the years, I can’t even tell you how many people would say they saw me, and I NEVER saw them.  Even if I walked right past them.  This happens a lot when I’m driving.  Hopefully, I’m concentrating on road, although I’m guessing my mind is wondering elsewhere, but not towards Legos.

Kyle’s a dreamer too.  Not just uses his imagination, which he totally does, but he is a visionary.  He always creates these grandiose ideas of how something should be, or how it will be or how it’s going to unfold.  I tend to be that dreamer too.  But I do believe that’s a great quality to have, especially being an entrepreneur.  Dreaming big is never a bad thing, just failure to act on it is.

There are so many more comparisons including the love of snow!  We both enjoy sled-riding, snowboarding and the crisp cool days.  Neither one of us like to be hot and we certainly don’t enjoy sweating, even though he does more than me.

We both love to cook and to experiment with ingredients.  Maybe more me than Kyle, but we love to try new foods and learn and understand different culture.

And like the rest of the family, there is one trait we all posses besides believing in God.  I don’t mean to omit the big Guy because to me that’s a standard, however I’m learning it’s not the case with most people.  But this time I’m talking about TRAVELING!  We are all equally intrigued by the rest of the world, new sights and the sense of adventure.  None of us has ever been afraid to explore and my parents have always encouraged this behavior.  Which speaking of, this week is ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun!’  They are doing a road trip tour of the New England States.  How fun!  Next trip, I’m going to sneak my way in on the action!

I guess Kyle is a little bit of each of us, making him the perfect mix!  He’s a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll.  (That’s for mom’s benefit!)

Read the complete list of comparisons

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Pappy?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Nikki?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Gigi?

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Snowboarding,Travels and have No Comments

Aiya! Kyle’s Name of Endearment

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  ~William Shakespeare


Me, Kyle & Nicole at the Gutchess Picnic at Idlewild 8/2004

I don’t know how most people are, but our family is big on nicknames or childhood names continued throughout life.  When Kyle was just able to speak he would call me Aiya, pronounced \ī-yuha/.  I’m guessing it was a combination of Aunt and Heather.  No matter, it was Kyle’s word for me and I loved it.  ‘Heather’ is a bit difficult for children to say and then to throw in the ‘Aunt’ can cause a little difficulty.  Not to mention for the first few years of Kyle’s life, he was hard of hearing due to all of his ear infections, respiratory problems, tonsillitis, phenomena and such.  Kyle created Aiya, I understood it to refer to me, I answered to it, and that was my name!

When Kyle was three months old, my sister and I started calling him Narrow.  Evidently, the name ‘Kyle’ comes from the Gaelic origin, meaning a place-name referring to the narrows.  When Kyle was a little tyke he was nothing but narrow.  He had a wide neck, wide feet and legs and a big head, yet he was compact and short in length.  To humor ourselves, we used to say “Our little Narrow” because he was the opposite of slim and narrow.  Then, the name just stuck.  That was nearly twelve years ago.  When talking to Kyle, I usually refer to him as Narrow, but when writing about him, it’s easier to write Kyle.  I love both names and intermix them equally, after all the name Kyle, which I love, was given to him by his dad.  Now his Aunt Nikki and I gave him another name of endearment.  Similar to all his other nicknames I’ve used such as:  ‘Stinker’, ‘Turkey’, ‘Turkey Jerky’, ‘Little Man’, and my favorite, ‘The Package’.

I used to ask Kyle, “What do I call you?” and he would reply “Narrow.”  Then I would ask “What is your name?” by which he would reply “Kyle”.  Then I would continue our interrogation by asking  him “Why do I call you Narrow?” At first he would get this confused look on  his face and sincerely say, “I don’t know”, with which I would reply, “‘Cause I love you!”  He would simply smile and know I was speaking the truth.


Aunt Irene, who is really my cousin & godmother, yet I call her Aunt Irene. She’s holding a little Kyle & her daughter Katie is peeking over her shoulder. c. 2002

Over the years as Kyle’s speech improved, once we got him into speak therapy classes to get him caught up to children of his age, he learned to say my name.  I remember the first time he really tried it out and enunciated it with complete perfection.  It brought tears to my eyes.  As I was sitting there, Kyle walked up to me, held my face in his hands to get my complete attention, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Look I can say Aunt Heather!”  He said it very slowly and deliberately, to catch every syllable.   He was so proud of himself, and as was I.  All I could say was “Wow buddy!  That’s really good!  You’ve been practicing!  But what do you call me?”  Instantly he smiled and said “Aiya!”  As much as I loved hearing my name release from his lips with crystal clear precision, I will admit I loved my little nickname.

While Kyle continued saying my name appropriately and eventually abandoned Aiya, I continued to call him my Narrow.  It’s funny, when people mistaken Kyle for my son and call me mom, Kyle will correct them with pride and say, “That’s my Aunt Heather!”  Love my little man!

Every once in a while we share or re-share Kyle’s childhood stories with him.  Stories he really fancies.  Not long ago I brought up the time when he used to call me Aiya and when he started calling me Aunt Heather.  Not remembering that far back, keep in mind it was only a few years ago, I told Kyle the evaluation of my name through his eyes.

Then the strangest thing happened.  He has now reverted back to calling me Aiya.  Keep in mind it’s more of a conscience effort, but I can tell he still wants to use it.  It’s almost as if he likes the name, or more our tight bond we have, and he wants to display it out loud.

Do I care?  Nope!  Not one bit!  I am his Aunt Heather or his Aiya or whatever he chooses to regard me with his love and affection.  After all, my mom has been named Gigi by Kyle and that has stuck ever since.  He only references mom as ‘Grammy’ when he is speaking to other people so they understand.  In fact, we all use Gigi to refer to my mom, trying to keep a piece of Kyle with us at all times!  Love my Narrow!


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

Señor Don Gato – We Meet Again!

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown

This blog post is dedicated to my sister’s cat Toshi (a.k.a. Lester) who used up his nine lives and sadly no amount of fish will re-animate him.  Rest-in-peace Lester!  You’ve had a good adventure, now a new song must be sung.

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!


John Manders signed the Señor Don Gato book for Kyle! He signed it to Señor Don Kyle! Love it! I love the Señor Don Gato song! c. 2004

During our most recent adventure to Parker Dam Home Away From Home – Parker Dam, I was reintroduced to an old friend, Señor Don Gato.  Who is this foreigner who seems like he would be friends with Zorro?  He was a childhood friend who I introduced to Kyle years ago.

How did Señor Don Gato make it to Parker Dam?  No one knows, but while we were splashing around in the Parker Dam creek, he came out of nowhere to make our fun even more enjoyable.

Seems like every time we go to Parker Dam, we head down to the creek, which is the overflow of water straight from Parker Lake itself.  We take the dogs there to splash around and stretch out their legs, not to mention Kyle and I enjoy the cold wet fun too.  While spending this past weekend at Parker Dam, on Saturday we participated in our side activity, just like from trips before, except my sister joined us.  As we trudged through the rocky cold water, looking for rocks or trying to make a new discovery, Kyle busted out in tune.  Can you guess?  Yes! Señor Don Gato!

Being in a little bit of shock, since I don’t remember the last time I heard Kyle singing that song, let alone thinking he remembered it, I listened to him stumble over the words for a moment.   Eventually, I joined in and we went off on our adventure like a couple of hobbits singing and experiencing the surrounding nature.


Nicole & Kyle splashing around in the Parker Dam creek with the dogs. 6/15/13

You see Señor Don Gato was a song we sang in elementary school, Sacred Heart.  Me, being a lover of all things cats, I loved the song instantly!   I remember sitting on the floor in the classroom having music class with Miss Gasper and going over the lyrics.  Keep in mind this was the first time I had ever heard of Señor Don Gato, so I really didn’t know how the story ended.  When we got to the part when he died, I started to shed a few tears for poor old Señor Don Gato.  My heart was broken.  Then, as we continued reading the lyrics, I was so happy for Señor Don Gato.  Literally, I fell that deeply into this song.  I believe it made our spring musical one year, although I can’t remember which classroom had the honor of singing it.

It was one of the few non religious songs we sang.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the other tunes, but something about Señor Don Gato really captured me.  It was as if I could see the story unfold in my head as we sand along.  I saw him reading the letter, I saw him leaping from the rooftop, I saw the funeral pass the market square and I could smell the fish.  (In my mind it smelt like Sea World which almost made me puke when I was there!)  Naturally, I never forgot it and Señor Don Gato has stayed with me ever since.  So much so, that when Kyle was just able to talk, I started teaching him the lyrics.  I’m pretty sure I sang the tune to him when he was little too.  For some reason I wanted to make sure he was exposed to the clever lyrics of Señor Don Gato during his childhood.  I knew he would love it as much as I did.

Fun facts according to Wikipedia:

The lyrics are loosely translated from the traditional Spanish song “Estaba el señor Don Gato”, but the melody is from a different song, “Ahora Que Vamos Despacio”.  There is also a French version of “Estaba el señor Don Gato” called “Monsieur le Chat”.

I thought everyone knew of this fun and silly song, however as I moved along through my adult life, I found it was sadly the opposite.  Yes there were a few, but the majority had no idea what I was talking about when mentioning old Señor Don Gato.


Kyle having a great time singing & splashing in the Parker Dam creek! We were singing Señor Don Gato, an all time favorite of both of ours. 6/15/13

Until one day, I saw John Manders, a very talented and one of my favorite illustrators of present day, illustrated the book Señor Don Gato!  This was around 2004, and he was going to be at a Barnes & Noble store in Pittsburgh demonstrating and reading from another one of his illustrated books.  I wanted to take Kyle so bad, but alas it was one of the few weekends he was not with us.  So I went with my previously purchased book to have him sign it.  What a great guy!  I met him on a few other occasions in the past, usually at art exhibits. He signed the book to Señor Don Kyle!  That was great!

That book and another one, both signed and illustrated by John Manders, was my gift to Kyle for either Easter or his birthday that year, I can’t remember.  It was a hit!  He recognized the song and to have it illustrated out before his eyes was a real treat.  Not to mention having the books signed directly to him made it personal.

I’m so glad another generation will carry on the legacy of old Señor Don Gato!

For those of you who do not know the song or those that need refreshed on the lyrics, please sing along below!


Oh Señor Don Gato was a cat,
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
He went there to read a letter,
Meow, meow, meow
Where the reading light was better,
Meow, meow, meow
T’was a love note for Don Gato.

I adored you wrote the lady cat.
Who was fluffy, white, and nice and fat.
There was not a sweeter kitty
Meow, meow, meow
In the country or the city
Meow, meow, meow
And she said she’d wed Don Gato.

Oh, Don Gato jumped so happily,
He fell off the roof and broke his knee.
Broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
Meow, meow, meow
And his little solar plexus,
Meow, meow, meow
Ay carramba! cried Don Gato.
(when Kyle would sing this he would say, “I cry and I cry Don Gato.”)

When the doctors all came on the run,
Just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation,
Meow, meow, meow
About how to save their patient,
Meow, meow, meow
How to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
Poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
Oh it wasn’t very merry,
Meow, meow, meow
Going to the cemetery,
Meow, meow, meow
For the ending of Don Gato.

As the funeral passed the market square,
Such a smell of fish was in the air.
Though his burial was slated,
Meow, meow, meow
He became re-animated,
Meow, meow, meow
He came back to life Don Gato!

Below is a video of us splashing around the creek at Parker Dam.  Me, Nicole, Kyle, Seven and Scooby had a blast!  6/15/13

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Ingrained in the Wood

Haldir had gone on and was now climbing to the high flet. As Frodo prepared to follow him, he laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.  ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


Dad sharpening his chainsaw blade, while Kyle watches. I guess he doesn’t realize he can push back his hat to see instead of stretching his neck?

Sometimes I have stories to tell, and sometimes I just want to write a dissertation on observations from the Piper family.  This one is just plain funny.  Who knows, maybe there are others like dad or have a different infinity for something.  I guess some people notice old cars, or landscaping or birds, dad notices trees and piles of wood.

I guess that’s where I’m going to start, with wood.  Yes!  The only renewable resource placed on our planet that covers approximately 9.4% of the Earth’s surface, 30% of the total land area, or so I’m told by Wikipedia.  The sometimes tall, always intriguing and beautiful structures projecting upward towards the heavens from the ground.  Yes, woods, trees, forest, all of the above.  Dad has this affinity for the resource, rather an obsession.

Now let me step back and mention he started working at nine years of age making posts.  Can you image any child now-a-days working that young?  I mean working hard.  Well, he did.  Maybe that’s what started his appreciation for wood and his gravitation toward it.  It probably helped.  My guess, it was his career of being a woodsman, a logger that did the trick.  My pap, my Uncle Sonny and my dad owned a sawmill for years.  Dad was in charge of scouting out new timber, cutting down the logs and hauling them to the sawmill to be cut into boards.  So naturally his eyes were always on timber and of course he can name the local species of tress.  Or at least he used to, he’s slipping in his old age.


Dad’s truck he used to haul logs with from the sawmill.

When I think of my dad, the smell of cut wood comes to mind.  No joke!  When I was little and dad would come home from a long day of manual labor, he would bring some of his work home with him.  It came in the form of sawdust in his pant legs.  Dad’s not very tall, so he always had to cuff the legs on his jeans.  Then, when he was cutting down trees, the sawdust would make their way into the protection of his pant cuffs.  Before dad would walk into the house, he would sit on the top step of the porch and unroll his jeans to release all the tiny bits of wood he was dragging around with him.  I love that smell!  To this day, when I catch the whiff of fresh cut wood, dad comes to my mind and a sense of my childhood.  A truly comforting feeling!  I can’t help but try and consume the fragrance of fresh cut wood, it’s such a sweet scent and I want it all for myself.


Uncle Sonny at our saw mill  c. late 1980’s

But then again, wood, might just come from our genes, not jeans, unless we’re talking about dad’s pant cuffs.  Then yes, wood chips and sawdust did come from there.  But let’s talk about the Piper DNA.  I do believe while being conceived there is a wood gene that enters each one of us, some more than others.  Maybe I should step back even further.  The Piper’s have a long legacy of logging and working in the lumber industry.  There wasn’t just one Piper sawmill, but many.  Are they all related?  Pretty much, somewhere down the family tree, so to speak.

Do I have a strong affection for wood?  The more I think about it, I kind of do.  Not to the extreme of dad, but it’s definitely there.  I love the texture, the look, the smell of wood and everyone knows I love being in the woods, much like dad.  He always did love spending time among the trees.


Uncle Sonny walking around Shober’s camp, near Parker Dam

So what brought up this realization?  Dad of course.  For years now, dad has been known to be caught checking out other peoples woods and trees.  Heck, he just doesn’t check out their trees on their property, he notices their wood pile.  Yes!  If someone has wood stacked or just piled up in their yard, especially if they’re logs, his eyes automatically gravitates toward it.  Usually followed by a comment of something like, “Ooo check out their wood pile!” or “Wow they have some nice wood.” or “That’s a nice stockpile they have, looks like they’re ready for winter.” even if it’s the middle of summer.  Yes this has been going on for as long as I can remember, no matter where we’re at.

Once when we were visiting Nicole, outside of Washington, D.C. we went out for breakfast one morning.  While everyone was working their way out of the restaurant, dad walked to the other side of the parking lot, which faced a little patch of woods and stood and stared.  Can you believe he stood there examining the trees?   Out of curiosity, thinking dad might have saw something, I stood beside him and looked on.  Finally I said, “What are we looking at?” Without taking his eyes off of the trees, he said “I was just seeing what kind of timber they have.”  Then he began naming the species of wood and the nice trees.  I just walked away.


The side of our sawmill

All these years I thought it was just dad who seriously lives in the mind of trees.  Nope, a couple of weeks ago as a matter of fact, I was meeting with my cousins Jimmy Scanlon and Marie-Paule.  We were going over the details of the Chad Delier Scanlon Golf Outing they organize every year in memory of their son, who passed away from a brain tumor.  (It’s all in The Chad Delier Scanlon Story)  I don’t know how we got on the subject, but I brought up dad’s obsession with wood, trees and wood piles.  Sasha, their daughter, started laughing and said, “He does the same thing!” as she pointed toward her dad Jimmy.  I was in utter amazement!  It’s true, there are others!  Jimmy just laughed and confirmed what Sasha said was true.   That blew me away!  So it must be in the genes!

After saying all this, I will admit when Nicole and I were in Forks, Washington Rain Forest, Forks, Beach… All in One Day! Twilight Pilgrimage Part 2, which happens to be the logging capital of the world, or at least they used to be, I noticed everyone, and I mean everyone had stockpiles of wood in their yards.  As we drove around to see the sights, I would notice all the wood piles.  I’m guessing since that town is so remote and they have access to cut timber, burning wood is their source of heat for the winter.  Yes!  I was doing what dad does, however I kept telling Nicole, “Boy if dad was here he’d be checking out all the wood piles!”  We both laughed at that very true statement.  Ironically enough, I was indirectly checking out the wood piles as well, on behalf of dad.  I even told him when I got back, “Dad you would be drooling over all the piles of wood in everyone’s yards!”  Mom just rolled her eyes, but that caught dad’s attention.

I’m guessing everyone has their thing, dad’s just happens to be wood, which I have no doubt inherited proudly.  One day I hope to take him out west to Washington to see those trees!  I believe that’s on his bucket list.  I truly hope dad never looses his interest in wood, for I fear it would be the end of dad.

Below is a video of dad running my cousin Merle and Bruce’s forward logging truck.  Personally I shot to the video because it has been awhile since dad loaded wood like that, and I thought I would catch him doing something funny.  Nope!  He showed me, he jumped into the rhythm in a matter of minutes just like he’s been loading every day of his life.  Actually, it was pretty cool to capture a rare video of dad working with in his comfort zone.

Dad saw the junk pile of wood and didn’t want it thrown away and wasted, he wanted to at least burn it.  So that’s what brought us there, dad and his observation for wood!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Tornado

tor·na·do  noun \tr-ˈnā-(ˌ)dō\ 

1.  archaic : a tropical thunderstorm
2.  a : a squall accompanying a thunderstorm in Africa  b : a violent destructive whirling wind accompanied by a funnel-shaped cloud that progresses in a narrow path over the land
3.  : a violent windstorm : whirlwind

Being astounded by fun facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it has caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!

tornado form Aunt Heather Piper

Random Fun Facts: Tornadoes

This post may not be very random, after all with the recent events of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado destruction.  On Monday, May 20, 2013 a devastating EF5 tornado struck down Moore, Oklahoma, with winds of more than 210 miles per hour.   This natural disaster caused at least 23 deaths, more than 100 rescued, 237 injured and as many as 20,000 families displaced.  According to Fox News, this tornado is placed in the same class as the deadliest in United States history.  The one who owns this title hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011.  That twister killed more than 158 and injured hundreds.  As per Fox News:

An EF-5 is as bad as it gets,” said Joe D’Aleo, co-chief forecaster for WeatherBell Analytics. “It’s equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. It means winds were more than 200 miles per hour, and it means you have to be underground, because there will be nothing left above ground.

While reading about recent tornado destruction, I found some really intriguing information.  Now I am no weather expert, so I am hoping all this information is one hundred percent accurate.

  • In the last 63 years, only 59 EF-5 tornadoes have touched down in the U.S.
  • One-tenth of a percent of all tornadoes are ranked an EF-5
  • Most powerful twisters cause 20% of all tornado damage & destruction
  • United States has the most powerful tornadoes
  • On the average, tornadoes only last a few minutes
  • Every tornado is unique – its own color, sound, shape
  • Tornadoes have been reported in every state during every season
  • Most tornadoes occur between 3 pm and 9 pm – although they can strike at any time

Pennsylvania Tornadoes

  • 1985 had the largest EF-4 tornado in Centre County (Moshannon Tornado)  – only 10 reported since 1950
  • Since 1950 only 650 tornadoes reported in PA
  • In Pennsylvania, a tornado bigger than EF-2 is rare
  • There have been a tornado reported in every month of the year in PA
  • The strongest storms happen in May
  • Severe weather primary time in PA is from April 27th to September 5th
  • The peak time of severe weather in PA is between July 1st through July 8th

Take from Weather Wiz Kids:

Weather Wiz Kids Aunt Heather Piper

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

Parker Dam State Park Story

There are two big forces at work, external and internal.  We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain.  What really matters is the internal force.  How do I respond to those disasters?  Over that I have complete control.  ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Parker-Dam-State-Park-Aunt-Heather-PiperDuring a recent visit to Parker Dam State Park, Fishing Toward Independence, Just Had to Take It to Parker Dam, we naturally went down memory lane.  As we fished and shot the breeze by the campfire, dad brought up the time the tornado went through Parker Dam.  I totally forgot all about that!  With the most recent tornado disaster hitting Oklahoma, I guess tornadoes were on our minds.  This tornado, that hit home and presented a miracle and a happy ending for a group of boy scouts, was the subject discussed.  Kyle listened as we shined a light on local past news.

Just to recap, on Monday, May 20, 2013 a devastating EF5 tornado struck down Moore, Oklahoma, with winds of more than 210 miles per hour.   It was such a tragedy of 23 deaths, more than 100 rescued, 237 injured and as many as 20,000 families displaced.  What really hit home was the elementary school that was leveled out by the massive twister.  Sure natural disasters are upsetting and horrible, but when you’re pulling children out of rubble, it strikes another cord with onlookers and tends to pull on the heart strings a little bit more.


(FEMA Photo)  Devastation from the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma on  May 20, 2013.

My thoughts and prayers are still with those who have lost loved ones and had their lives leveled in a single blow.

Moving from that natural disaster and reminiscing on another, the tornado at Parker Dam.

Fortunately, due to no loss in life and because of the remote location, most people don’t know a tornado even hit Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County.  But it did!  On May 31, 1985 an EF4 tornado leveled about 100 miles of state forest with winds of up to 260 miles per hour.  It even pulled the water right out of the creeks.  Dad said, as far as he could see up and down the hills, trees were flattened.  “It was as if someone clear cut the woods” and left behind splinters in the wake.  “You could see all the way up and down the ridge.  It was something else.”

There were other outbreaks of tornadoes on the same day in Pennsylvania, and the one that hit Parker Dame was the longest lived, staying on the ground for a distance of 69 miles in an hour and a half, reaching Clearfield, Clinton, and Centre counties.  It was one of four EF4 tornadoes to touch down in Pennsylvania on that very same day.  A state who is no stranger to tornadoes, but not really accustomed to the natural disaster either, experienced a major change in the ordinary.


Parker Lake at Parker Dam State Park

Granted, the tornadoes that touched down in Pennsylvania don’t even compare to the Oklahoma tornado, yet the awesomeness of God’s had is still amazing.  Luckily, there weren’t a lot of people in the park when the tornado struck, with the exception of a few campers and a boy scout troop to tell the tale.

The really amazing thing was the zero death toll!  The tornado went right over the camp of boy scouts without touching them!  Granted it ripped off parts of the roof from the octagon shaped building, yet they all returned unscathed.  The boy scouts held onto the doorways and their troop leaders for support, while the massive twister hovered over them and ripped down trees and power lines.  I read an article about the 25th anniversary, commemorating their survival.   To that day, they commented on the locomotive sound that hit them fast and seemingly out of nowhere.  Without shortage of memory, they detailed the events from that day.  That is one of those moments that have stayed with them and always will.  I can only imagine!

Everyone credits the octagon shaped building the boy scouts were hunkered down in, for the reason of their survival.  They feel the way the winds were whipping over them and the unique shape of the building gave them safety.  Perhaps, but if God didn’t want them to live, they wouldn’t have had a chance, even from a sturdy structure.


The Octagon lodge the boy scouts hunkered down in while the EF4 tornado swept over them on May 31, 1985. They all survived!

It took rescuers days before they were able to rescue the survivors, because of their location and all the ground debris.  Frightful as the event was during the tornado and equally as chilling as their tales, I still love hearing those survivor stories!  They are full of hope and faith!  Not to mention, it puts everything in life into perspective.

Today, you can still walk through the recovering tornado ravaged woods.  Naturally, the trees came back, all at different rates, but nature took care of its own.  Parker Dam is another piece of heaven on earth with the green luscious woods, wild animals running free and creeks full of fish.  Yep, pure heaven, maybe with the exception of the mosquitoes.

I guess we’re all going back to camp and fish and just plain chill out.  Seriously, can’t wait!

Parker Dam History

Finding the origins of Parker Dam interesting, I thought I’d share some fun facts I’ve read on the state park.  Some information came from Wikipedia, and some I read on the signs at Parker Dam, and some from online articles.

Construction of the 968-acre state park really started in 1794 with the removal of trees, to eventually leading to the need to reforest the lands by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  During the Great Depression, in the 1930’s the real construction of the buildings and such began, giving us Parker Dam State Park, of Huston Township in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.

Surrounding the state park is the Moshannon State Forest.  Many critters call the park home including the ovenbird, American redstart, turkey, beaver (which I saw on my last adventure to the park), white-tailed deer, bears (which dad has hunted), coyotes, foxes, bobcats, porcupines (better not tell Scooby Scooby Meets a Porcupine) and elk.  Pretty much a stranger to Pennsylvania, I guess elk have settled in the remote areas of the local counties and are now among the inhabitants sometimes spotted there.

So now to the reason for the name, Parker Dam.  Laurel Run was dammed up to make the man made Parker Lake.   This 20-acre lake is usually the centerpiece of picnicking, fishing and even swimming on the sandy beach.  Yes, they have a small beach on the one side of the lake for families to cool down and splash around.  Sorry Seven and Scooby, no dogs allowed!

During fishing season, the lake can be outlined by many trying to catch their prize largemouth bass, various species of trout and catfish.   Evidently, the lake is open in the winter, once frozen over, for ice fishing and ice skating.

As I’ve mentioned hunting is permitted in designated areas of the Park as per the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Also something else I found interesting and didn’t know.  As per Wikipedia

Parker Dam State Park is the western trailhead of the Quehanna Trail System.  This trail is about 75 miles (121 km) long and meanders its way through the surrounding state forests. The Quehanna Trail connects with the Susquehannock Trail near Sinnemahoning State Park.  Backpackers are not permitted to camp overnight at the park. The trails are open to cross-country skiing during the winter months.

Everyone should visit a State Park!  You’ll be surprised at the peace nature can bring to the soul.


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

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.   ~Author Unknown


Ryan’s birthday party.  Yes Ryan’s wearing Mork & Mindy suspenders & yes that’s the back of my head & our cousin Tim, inspecting Ryan’s gifts. 1979

Sometimes we sit back and wonder, ‘Who does Kyle favor more?’.  It has been the topic of many conversations over the years.  Not because it really truly matters, but out of sheer curiosity.  At times, Kyle is like a mirror image of one of us and other times we see blended traits.  I guess there are two sides to the coin when making a comparison, the physical and the behavioral characteristics.

Let me start with Kyle’s dad, Ryan, my brother.  Seems like the best place to start, especially since Ryan’s half the reason Kyle exists in the first place.  When Kyle was first born and when he aged into a really little tyke, he looked like a spitting image of Ryan as a child!  Comparing images of the two, they were certainly similar, almost twins.  Naturally the resemblance helps with the blond hair and blue eyes, but the shape of his face and his smile were all his dad’s, even down to his teeth.  As for the rest of him, he was a mix between my dad and my sister.  Kyle always had a thick neck and legs and a stocky frame, unlike Ryan, who always had long skinny legs and a frame to match.


Ryan waiting for Kyle to arrive at Latrobe Hospital. Ryan & Kyle both LOVE donuts 7/30/01

Kyle not only shows some of Ryan’s physical characteristics, but Ryan’s behavioral demeanor really seeps out of Kyle’s pores.  I guess I’m talking about sugar!  Yes Ryan loved sugar!  He would put so much on his cereal it basically was a paste of sugar milk.  Gross!  Every time I watch Men In Black and the “Edger” alien asks for sugar water, I totally think of Ryan.  Ryan could have hung out with the alien and Kyle could have easily joined that group.  Both, Kyle and his dad alike, have been caught dipping their fingers in the raw sugar to sample.  Like they forgot what it tasted like!  And let’s not forget the container of chocolate milk mix.  Both boys had a sampling of that contents a time or two.  Ironically, each one having a sweet tooth did draw them into candy.  Neither one really ate much candy, but the pair had an affinity for pastries, cakes and treats.  The only difference is Ryan could eat.  I mean put away food like he never ate before.

Once when Ryan and I were in high school, we came home and started watching TV.  Naturally, after a long day of draining the brain, we were both starving.  Now I will admit, I used to have a huge appetite, being able to consume large amounts of food and out eat everyone I knew, except Ryan.  Ryan went to the kitchen to grab a bunch of bananas.  Not two or three in this bunch, there was at least eight or nine bananas there.  Without blinking an eye, he sat and peeled one banana and ingested it in three or four bites, then proceeded to the next.  Once he got through four bananas, I couldn’t help but stare in amazement.  Ryan looked at me and sincerely asked, “What?”  In complete disbelief over this consumption of food, I said, “I really want a banana but I’m afraid to grab for one, for fear of loosing my hand.”  He laughed and simply said, “I’m hungry!”  Obviously!  He continued on a steady ingestion course until he polished off about six bananas before slowing down.  Amazing!  And his waistline never went above 29 inches, until he hit his twenties then it went to 30 inches.


Ryan in his pj’s c. 1981

Ryan didn’t eat horribly, but he was never concerned with healthy choices.  When he would stop at McDonald’s, he would not only pick up one double Big Mac, but he would eat two or three!  Kyle doesn’t have an appetite like that, the food similarities end with the sugar and the love of fruit and meat.  But Ryan was never a picky eater.  I can’t really say the same for Kyle, even though he does pretty good about giving different food choices a try.

Kyle has always had an infatuation with wheels, cars, the sounds of an engine and big equipment.  Always!  There are a few simple stories I’d like to share to truly put this into perspective.  First, I’d like to point out that some traits are taught and some are environmental.  Ryan passed away when Kyle was three months old, therefore, I can only believe that there is a gene somewhere inside Kyle supplied directly from Ryan, or Ryan is in heaven encouraging and guiding the young man.  Either way, it’s pretty funny.

While attending Seton Hill University for my second degree, I had to babysit Kyle.  This was not a new concept, if the family was working and I had to watch my beloved little man, I would take him to school with me.  Getting pretty creative when attending classes, I would pass Kyle along to my friends who had free time, until I was able to pick up my responsibility.  Being the only one to stand to loose if I missed a class, I never did, not to mention I was paying for my own education.  It worked out brilliantly!  In fact, one spring semester during finals week, I happened to be toting around my favorite little man.  My friend Sarah was kind enough to watch him on campus while I fulfilled my final exam requirements.  At the time, Seton Hill was building the Athletic Center so there were plenty of big trucks moving dirt and material.  Sarah walked him around the campus and stopped to let him watch the construction sight.  She said he loved it!  Unbeknownst to her, we already knew that Kyle loved trucks and equipment, but it was still cute and amazing at the same time.  His infatuation with the large equipment and the noises put a smile on Sarah’s face, as well as mine.


Ryan holding his newborn baby son -Kyle 7/30/01

On a side note, for all those who say they can’t tend to a child while attending school and having other responsibilities hasn’t really tried.  I am not the only one who has made this happen.  With the grace of God and support of family and friends, anything is possible if wanted enough.  To this day I still appreciate the efforts of my friends and professors!

Sometimes when Kyle and I would drive past a construction sight, he would intently stare in amazement at the life size Tonka trucks.  Then, without missing a beat he would begin to make engine noises, revving and shifting.  He almost looked like he was imagining himself in the vehicle moving the earth.  In fact, he continues to do that to this day!

Once when mom and I were at a funeral and there was an elderly person sitting in a wheelchair minding their own business.  Kyle, being two or three years old, walked over to the wheelchair, sat down, and started to move the wheels.  It looked like Kyle was going to shoot the person into the casket!  The poor victim of a push and run, had no idea what was going on because Kyle was obstructed by the back of the wheelchair due to his lack of vertical length.  Who would think they needed to be protected at a funeral while hanging out in a wheelchair?  Apparently, Kyle should have come with a warning.  As soon as it happened, I whisked up the perpetrator and saved us all from a potential embarrassing situation that would have surely won America’s Funniest Videos.


Ryan hanging with his pap on his birthday wearing his Mork & Mindy suspenders 1979

The comparisons don’t stop there.  Even though Kyle is now eleven, we’ve had years to see the similarities.  Believe it or not, Kyle loved to help out with house chores and work.  He was a hard worker and enjoyed it, well that is until a few years ago when he was influenced differently.  That was also the about the same time he discovered video games and found laziness.  Kyle loved to vacuum, dust, help with the dishes and stack firewood.  I mean it!  He would cry if he couldn’t help anyone who was doing chores.  We would put him to work, which not only helped him physically but helped to build his character and work ethic.  Plus Kyle is part of the family and everyone pitches in around the house.  We always have, and continue to do so.

My brother was such a hard worker.  When he was nine he started working in my parents sawmill during the summers.  Yes, nine-years-old and he worked!  Throughout his short life, he worked and worked hard, never complaining and never missing a beat.  Eventually, when he became a machinist he would function as a part-time mechanic on the weekend for extra cash.  Not because he was greedy, he was the farthest thing, but because he needed the moola.  I completely respect that!  No one paved his way and he never took the easy road.


Kyle hanging with is pap 11/18/03

Granted Kyle’s work ethic and motivation are not quite comparable now-a-days, but we still continue to push him along, for his own sake.  He is eleven and knows how to do laundry, cook, clean, grocery shop and yard work.  I believe that’s a good starting point and a great foundation.

While I’m on the topic of good character, Ryan was a kind and honest person.  He was sincere and not malicious in any way.  Proudly, these are characteristics I have seen from Kyle and they were certainly passed down from father to son.  Ryan would help anyone out, whether it was for a specific skill needed that Ryan possessed, or it was just the assistance of his brawn.  If someone needed help moving or work done on their car, Ryan was always the first in line to lend a helping hand.  He certainly took care of my car for years, changing the oil, replacing my breaks, cutting my drums and rotors and the list goes on and on.  He would never take a penny from me.  He just wanted to help.


Paula & Kyle 2001

On another side note, Ryan was a bean pole yet he was a very strong lanky guy.  One would have never have guessed he was as strong as he was, but I can personally verify it!

Even through Kyle always has a determination to get out of doing work, he is a good hearted individual.  He never wants to see anyone upset or in pain.  His heart bleeds for those around him, especially the ones he loves.  Just to redeem Kyle a bit, when help is truly needed, Kyle is there to assist, well maybe to bark orders, but I guess that’s his way.

It wouldn’t be a true comparison if Lego’s weren’t addressed!  Nothing captures Kyle’s attention more, than the mention of that word.  LEGO’s!  Even to this day he is still obsessed. (Lego Obsessive or Driven, Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Are Professions Born or Taught Part 3, Seattle – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 4 and the list goes on)  Ryan had Lego’s but didn’t really take such a liking to them as Kyle.  Although Ryan liked to work with his hands.  He would build in other ways and tear apart to investigate the inner workings of objects, much like Kyle’s curiosity.

Sometime in elementary school, Ryan decided to take apart a little black and white TV we had.  He was curious to see how it worked and how the innards were put together.  Did you know, you should unplug electronics before dissecting them?  Lesson learned on Ryan’s part.  We knew Ryan was up to no good because all of a sudden the breaker switched over and killed the juice to part of the house.  The part that included Ryan’s bedroom, Kyle’s current bedroom.  Just like Kyle, always curious to see the guts, the inner workings of objects and devices.  Although I’ll give Kyle credit, he would never have made such an error.  Kyle would have thought the process through before attacking it and simply unplugged the television set to be safe.

Ryan-with-his-godparents-Paula-&-Joe-1977 Aunt Heather Piper

Ryan with his godparents Paula & Joe 1977

Then, let’s not forget about Ryan’s first truck.  It could have been called a piece of art or just plain junk.  First of all it was a beater, that goes without saying, but he customized it.  I’m not talking about putting it up on blocks or adding a spoiler.  Nope!  Ryan decided he wanted to modify it so no one could really drive it.  He reworked the wiring so the horn was not a horn but controlled something else, same goes for the windshield wipers etc.  In addition to the internal parts being modified, he did manage to custom create his own exhaust pipe.  He welded it to snake up past the door and remain vertical with a flap on top.  Yes it looked like a big truck’s exhaust!  He thought that was funny and creative.  You know what? I’ll give him that!

Kyle loves to build.  More-than-not he likes structure and everything the way they its suppose to be, not a lot of free interpretation.  Ryan and Kyle similar in the arena of talented mechanical building, yet Kyle is more structured like my sister, which I’ll get to that comparison next.  Kyle is a building machine and structural visionary, like Ryan, just in a different way.

Kyle’s still growing so only time will tell if Ryan’s genes will ultimately take over, physically and characteristically.  He is certainly a part of his dad, no question.  There are so many other characteristics and stories to call out, maybe another blog post!  Next up, Nicole!  To be continued…

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: St. Patrick’s Day

Anyone acquainted with Ireland knows that the morning of St. Patrick’s Day consists of the night of the seventeenth of March flavored strongly with the morning of the eighteenth.  ~Author Unknown

Being astounded by fun facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it’s caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!

Random Fun Facts St. Patrick’ Day!

Aunt-Heather-Piper-at-Guinness-Brewery museum

Me enjoying a glass of Guinness in the Guinness museum at the Guinness Brewery in Ireland. 6/2005

I’m not a huge St. Patrick’s Day fan.  I don’t dislike it, but I don’t plan my days around it.  It’s true, I have taken in plenty of gallons of green beer throughout my twenties, but alas I guess the appeal was short lived.  However, St. Patrick’s Day is great for two reminders.  One, my sister’s birthday was the previous day and two, how much I loved visiting Ireland.  When I see the see of green during this celebration, I can’t help but remember luscious green painted hillsides on the island.  After all It’s Not About the Luck.  Anyway, this year I decided to supply some random fun facts.

  • 56% of Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today (2013)

I would think this number would be higher.  After all St. Patrick’s Day, is a day to celebrate Irish heritage, shamrock shakes, and green beer!

  • 77.3% of those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day are 18-24-year-olds
  • 38.9% are 65 and older

I guess the elderly do get out and party.

  • The average American will spend $35.27
  • 84.2% will sport the green look
  • 1/3 make a special dinner
  • More than 1/4 will attend a party at a bar or restaurant
  • 1 in 5 will go to a private party
  • Expected spend of $4.7 billion is roughly 1/4 that is predicted to be spent on Valentine’s Day

Is that a surprise?  I hope not.  St. Valentine’s Day is about the whole romantic experience, while St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with green cheap beer and green shaking shamrock headbands.  Not really much of a comparison.

Marketing Charts Aunt Heather Piper

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

Random Fun Facts: Papacy

The responsibility of our Apostolic office impels us to promote the study of Holy Scripture in accordance with the teaching of our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X.  We shall never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather thence food for their souls.  Ignorance of the Bible means ignorance of Christ.  ~Pope Benedict XVI

Being astounded by Fun Facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it’s caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!

Vatican Conclave Rituals

Cardinals walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, at the beginning of the conclave 2/18/05

Random Fun Facts!

Since we are in transition of electing a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, to replace Pope Benedict XVI, I thought this information was appropriate.  Below does not outline all the details for the Papacy but are just a few interesting facts.


  • Shortest conclave took a few hours
  • Longest conclave lasted 3 years
  • Modern conclaves install cell phone jammers in the floors
  • Any part of the conclave who communicates with the outside world while in session is excommunicated
  • The conclave is indeed locked together until a Pope is elected, originally done so to resolve deadlocks


  • Elected Cardinals need to be under 80-years of age before the death or resignation of the Pope to be eligible to vote
  • No more than 120 Cardinals may vote
  • A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope, and this also requires acceptance from the person elected
  • Women are not eligible for the papacy, they also cannot be ordained
  • In 1996, John Paul II promulgated a new Apostolic Constitution, called Universi Dominici Gregis (The Lord’s Whole Flock)
  • The Universi Dominici Gregis governs the election of the pope
  • Popes used to be appointed by heads of government or the wealthy
  • The voting takes place in the Sistine Chapel
  • Cardinal Dean also known as Cardinal Bishop reads the oath aloud in full, the other cardinal electors state while touching the Gospels, they “do so promise, pledge and swear.”
  • Voting comprises of 3 phases: the pre-scrutiny, the scrutiny and the post-scrutiny
  • Cardinals are encouraged to disguise their handwriting when casting votes
  • Once all of the ballots have been opened this begins the final post-scrutiny phase
  • If there is no election in the 1st scrutiny, the cardinals immediately proceed to the next scrutiny- the papers from both scrutinies are burnt together at the end of the 2nd scrutiny
  • Color of the smoke signals the results to the people assembled in St Peter’s Square- (Dark smoke signals not a result in an election / White smoke signals that a new pope was chosen)
  • As of 2005, bells ring after a successful election, to augment the white smoke
Annulus Piscatorius Papacy Ring Fisher of menAunt Heather Piper

The Papacy ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring


  • Cardinal Camerlengo takes possession of the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring
  • If the newly elected is a bishop, he takes office immediately
  • If not a bishop, he must be first consecrated as one before assuming office
  • If a priest is elected, the Cardinal Dean consecrates him bishop
  • If a layman is elected, then the Cardinal Dean first ordains him deacon, then priest, and then consecrates him as bishop
  • Only after becoming a bishop does the pope-elect take office
  • Since 533, the new pope has decided on the name by which he is to be called at this time
  • The Pope is the apostolic successor of Saint Peter


  • There are roughly 1.18 billion Catholics in the world
  • 1 in 5 people in the global population are Catholic
  • World’s largest church
  • 50% of the world’s Catholics live in North & South America
  • 24% of the world’s Catholics live in Europe
  • 15% of the world’s Catholics live in Africa
  • 11% of the world’s Catholics live in Asia
Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475 February 18, 1564)

Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni who lived from March 6, 1475-February 18, 1564



  • A adult man
  • In the Latin Rite church
  • Unmarried
  • Must not have unconventional sexual tendencies, such as homosexuality
  • Must be chaste- morally pure in thought or conduct
  • Received the Sacrament of Confirmation not less than three years before
  • Must not have any encumbrances- debt or caring for children or infirm relatives
  • Young enough to be ordained and serve as a priest before the mandatory retirement age of 75
  • No significant mental disorders
  • No significant health disorders.


  • Must be an ordained priest
  • Unmarried


  • A Catholic man in good standing
  • Exceptional priest
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Travels and have No Comments

Random Fun Fact: St. Valentine’s Day

Don’t compromise yourself.  You are all you’ve got.  ~Janis Joplin

Happy-Valentines-Day Aunt Heather PiperBeing astounded by Fun Facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it’s caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!



Random Fun Fact!

Since today is indeed St. Valentine’s Day, this isn’t really random but still fun nevertheless.

  • Historian’s link today with a celebration occurring ever February 15th.  What was this you may ask?  Basically the men stripped down to reveal the full moon and more.  While going commando, they would spank young maidens with animal-skin whips to promote fertility.

Maybe this was the inspiration for the 50 Shades trilogy.

  • Present day, St. Valentine’s Day is not only observed in the United States but also in Mexico, Canada, France, Australia and the U.K.

That’s a lot of love!

  • St. Valentine was noted for a clergyman in ancient Rome.  At the time marriage was outlawed because of a belief of the emperor.  He felt the union of man and wife during wartime made for a less effective soldier.  Bishop Valentine performed the covert missions of marring couples.
  • 200 years after the death of Bishop Valentine in 496 A.D., then Pope Gelasius I, officially declared Saint Valentine’s Day on February 14th.
  • Handmade Valentine’s Day cards were said to be exchanged, not mailed by the US Postal Service or emailed or Facebooked, they were handed to one another around the 17th century.
  • In the 1840’s, the first mass-produced cards began.

Hence the decline of homemade cards, until scraping booking came to mainstream.

  • There are 1 billion cards sent each year worldwide, according to the Greeting Card Association.  Ya, that’s what I thought, ‘We have a Greeting Card Association?’.  Is it censorship for cards?  Anyway, they also state that more than half Americans purchase at least one card.

 I mailed a Valentine’s Day card to Kyle.  It included a kitty that looked like Storm, flying through the air.  The inside said something about a hug.  Inside the card I send four multicolored Lego erasers.  I thought he’d get a kick out of that and the card would make him smile.

  • Still yet, the Greeting Card Association assures us that Valentine’s Day cards are the biggest greeting card holiday in the United States, after Christmas naturally.
  • As per a survey conducted by American Express, 56% of Americans plan on using digital to get their Valentine’s message across.  Of the group 29% will text love messages, 29% will post to Facebook, 23% will send email, 20% will send an e-card.

Priceless…for everything else there’s American Express (had to say it!  Great commercials!)

  • As per the National Confectioners Association, now that’s one I would like to join, reports Valentine’s Day is spoken in 1 billion dollars of sales each year.
  • Of the 1 billion spend on sweets on Valentine’s Day, 75% are chocolate, which since the 15th century has been considered an aphrodisiac
  • In 2009, 8 billion candy hearts were made.  If they were lined up, they would reach from Italy to Arizona 20 times.

That’s a sweet trip!

  • Valentine’s Day gifts, meals and entertainment costs the average consumer about $130.  Men usually pay about $287 compared to women $164.

Why are women paying for anything?

  • As of 2013, 51% (5 in 10) of women are likely to gift a meal or tickets and 41$ (4 in 10) will give jewelry and flowers.

Where’s the chocolate?

  •  The National Restaurant Association guesses 25% of American adults will eat out on Valentine’s Day.  This is the second busiest dine out day next to Mother’s Day.
  • These diners are estimated to dish out #3.9 billion on grub, with an average $142.11, plus gifts.

 I guess it’s no longer the thought that count.

  •  World Record: On 2/14/11, 14 couples competed for the longest kiss, which was previously set at 32 hours.  This took place in Thailand.  The rules for the event included:  contestants couldn’t sit, sleep or separate.  One person fainted within a half-hour into the challenge.  The winning couple lasted 46 hours, 24 minutes and 9 seconds.  They were awarded $3,200 and a diamond ring.

MSN News Aunt Heather Piper


posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Facts About Farting

I didn’t want to do a throwaway, mindless movie with fart jokes just to make 6-year-olds laugh.  I want to provide my children with some substance.  ~Fred Durst

Fart Facts Aunt Heather PiperI’m not normally the slap stick, stupid humor type of writer…well sometimes I am, but this one is silly yet educational.  My family is going to kill me for sharing this humor, so I will keep it general and not give too much detail.

First, I want to comment on how tight our family is.  Probably too close according to some.  Not only do we speak our minds, anything that appears up in the cranium cavity exits our mouths; but our rear-ends are free to speak as well.  We are not shy about belching and we certainly are no strangers to flatulence.  Some may say we are simple honest open people, while others may say we are gross and improper.  Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t act like barbarians in public and around others.  We do practice our manors, but I’m talking about behind closed doors in the privacy of our own home among family.

To be honest, I thought everyone was like us, well maybe not as dedicated, but certainly open.  Nope!  I was just recently talking to a good friend of mine who commented that her and her husband do not fart around each other and they’ve been married for over a decade.  Having to confirm what was just declared, I had her reiterate that they do not fart around each other.  Seriously, I was in shock!  Really?  I just couldn’t believe it!   You don’t fart around one another?  To make a comparison from my point-of-view I explained the general Piper practices.  I’m sure there are others who agree with her, but that wouldn’t be my family.  And come on, EVERYONE farts!

Now sticking to the theme, I want to tell you about a joke in our house.  My dad was watching something on TV, probably Dr. Phil since dad has this infatuation with him, I don’t know why but I’ll move off of that topic.  Dad said “I heard on TV when someone farts they are lowering their blood pressure.”  The minute Kyle heard this he busted out laughing.  Moving forward, every time there was an exchange of gas Kyle would say, “I guess you’re lowing your blood pressure.”  It’s actually too funny!  Once, Kyle passed gas and shot me an ornery grin and said, “I just lowered my blood pressure!”  I died!  It really was so spontaneous and funny, I shared it with the rest of the family.  Dad especially got a kick out of it.

So back to why am I sharing this very personal stories?  Mom sent me this email titled Fwd: Facts about farting…very educational.  You know the emails that have been forwarded ten thousand times, literally.  Evidently, my cousin Ray emailed it to her, then it ended up in my inbox.  Mom knows I hate those generic forwards.  I pretty much delete them right away, however, this one mom made it a point to call it out to me.  She wanted to make sure I would read it.  Ok, I thought, this must be a good one, I’ll bite.  When mom was asking me about the email, Kyle happened to be standing in close proximity actually paying attention.  He looked over at my mom with curious eyes and very quizzically asked, “What Gigi?  What’s it about?” as he joined my mom, sporting a huge grin.

Farting Text Aunt Heather PiperNeedless to say, mom showed Kyle the email, upon his request and he intently read through it.  During the entire weekend and flowing over into the following week, Kyle kept quoting from the information he read.  Out of no where I would hear, “Aunt Heather I can’t believe termites are the top farters and they give off more methane gas than cows!  How can that be?”  How do you respond to that?  I would laugh and nod my head and say, “I have no idea buddy.”  Then he would bring up vegetarians saying, “Vegetarians fart more than people who eat meat.  I love meat so I must not fart as much as them!”  That’s a pretty good deduction and one way of looking at it!

From vegetarian to dog, Kyle compared his new found statistics with Seven’s flatulence history.  Poor dog resides in the group of silent yet deadly.

Through all this, Kyle’s number one favorite fart fact, was the information on farting after death.  He just thought that was amazing and funny at the same time!  He said, “Aunt Heather a person can fart after they died!  Can you believe that?!”  Yep, we are a wealth of knowledge around the Piper household.  I wish I could say this was the strangest conversations we’ve had, but alas I don’t think it was.  I guess it goes to show that anything can be made into a conversational piece.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Random Fun Facts,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments
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