Archive for the 'Reminiscing' Category

Pittsburgh – Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 3

We are all vainer of our luck than of our merits.  ~Rex Stout
Cory-Tree-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Cure-Concert-Mellon-Arena-7-17-96

Cori, Tree & Me at the Cure Concert at the Mellon Arena (now Consol Energy Center) Pittsburgh, Pa. 7/17/96

If you’ve been following along with my previous posts, Pittsburgh – A Night Out in the Big City!  Vol. 1 and Pittsburgh- Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 2, you’ll realize, on the occasion, I make bad decisions.  During this particular night that never ended, I made several really bad decisions.  One after another, after another, after another.

To recap, I took my old car into Pittsburgh when I wasn’t allowed.  Said car broke down, in a tow away zone, in the middle of the ghetto, somewhere.  We were lost beyond hope.  I took a ride to get a new car battery, from a homeless man who lived in his car, who had no breaks and used his emergency break.  Incidentally, that same homeless man, hit a transvestite throwing her/him on the hood of his vehicle, intentionally I might add.  Once the battery was purchased, no one had tools to install it, however we did have candles, naturally.  Now introduce a new stranger, who was completely intoxicated, but had tools.  I took my second ride of evening with that stranger, the drunk one, to return the unused battery, since that wasn’t the cause of the car not starting.  Now you’re caught up … Enjoy the ride!

The drunk man did as promised, and found the store.  It was open!  Kinda.  It appeared closed, but people were standing among the darkness inside.  So I entered the shady establishment, and asked to return my unused battery, that I just purchased.  Surprise!  They refunded me!  My luck was turning around.  At this point, any silver lining was a step in the right direction.

Friends-in-Strip-District-Pittsburgh-Early-1990s-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Not sure, Jill, Lori Beanner, Justin Baldonieri, & me at a concert in the Strip District, Pittsburgh, Pa. mid 1990’s

Our drunk driver took us back to our friends and back to my broken down, illegally parked car in the ghetto.  This time, we didn’t hit anyone, but we definitely ran a few red lights.  Giving this stranger some grace, it was late at night with almost no traffic, and beggars can’t be choosers.

Upon approaching the corner store, all three of us, me, Sefo and our drunk driver, saw all the lights dancing around, lighting up our temporary home that resembled a dive convenience store in the middle of the hood, and the center of our demise.  It was the boys in blue.  In a way, I was relieved, yet I wasn’t.

Our drunk friend wasn’t happy to see the police, AT ALL.  He refused to drop us off, and sped past our destination.  I get it, he was drunk and who knows what else controlled him, but let us out!  This once relatively calm drunk man, turned into a frantic freak.  Now I was getting scared.  I know, NOW I decided to become scared, what can I say?  I’m a late bloomer.

The drunk man drove down the street, barely stopping, and ordered me and Sefo to get out and walk back.  We did as instructed and watched the man sped out of sight.  On our way back to the car, I knew I had some explaining to do to the Pittsburgh police.  Obviously, I was illegally parked, and personally I was aware of my Cinderella license, and the rules that accompanied it.  I also knew those flashing lights meant that I was going to pay out the nose for getting lost, figuratively speaking.  Truly, I didn’t care.  In my eyes, no one got hurt and the police were friendlies who swore an oath to serve and protect.  Good enough for me!  From what I’ve experienced thus far, in the short amount time from the conclusion of the concert to this point, the men in blue were a welcoming sight.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-at-concert-in-Pittsburgh-early-1990s

Me presenting my shoes in a an odd fashion…Yes I had a runner in my fish net stockings.  Strip District for a concert at the Metropole, Pittsburgh, Pa. mid 1990s

The officer instructed me to move my vehicle or I’d get a ticket.  Seriously?  That was the least of my worries.  I’d gladly accept the ticket if it meant I could get my friends and my car back home safely.  I explained the situation, omitting the details about the homeless man, and the drunk driver, and most importantly the homeless man hitting the transvestite.  No sense in rehashing actions that caused no harm and couldn’t be changed.

What did the police have us do before offering assistance?  They made us push the car back out of the illegal spot and park it along the curb on the street.  Really?  It was late at night and that’s what they were concerned about?  First, I want to say, I’ve never nor would I ever park in a handicap spot.  I was merely beside the convenience store, where it said  No Parking.  Why?  I have no idea.  To me it was a none issue.

What next?  One of my friends sat in the driver’s seat, while we pushed the car away from its current location.  In that time, the cop asked us to try and start the engine again.  We did and voila!  It started!  Are you kidding me?  No, but as soon as it started and it registered with me, the engine turned off again.  Okay, now this I can work with.  My logical side of the brain was telling me something supplying juice to the battery was loose.

The one cop asked me to pop the hood.  I did as directed, this time holding onto every bit of hope I had left, thinking they’d find a solution we overlooked.  We went through the same procedure as before with the same result, nothing.  However, this time we had actual flashlights, as opposed to candle light to look around the engine.  My eyes frantically followed their lights looking for anything out of place or suspicious.  Then, I saw something.  It was a cord snapped in half, near the battery.  Not knowing what it did, or if it was indeed the root of the problem, I just reacted.

What did I do?  This is all one-hundred percent true.  I usually wore berets in my hair, and on this eventful evening, I had a metal beret.  I simply unclipped the beret from my head, and snapped it to the broken wires to hold it together.  The engine fired to life and remained so.  Halleluiah!  Instantly, I thanked God.  I finally felt myself relax a little, at the very least my stomach stopped doing flips.  Now we needed to make hast!

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Tree, me & Tracey in the art room at Greater Latrobe High School 1993-94

The cops gave us directions and sent us on our way.  We left without looking back and continued on getting lost.  Was I ticketed for my illegal park job?  Nope.  Things were looking up.

We continued on our way, trying to find a familiar road or sign, pointing us east.  Every few miles, the clip came loose, shutting down the juice to the car, in turn shutting down our travels.  As that happened, I’d stop, usually in the middle of the road, get out, and re-secure the wires, and repeat.  This was an inconvenience, but I didn’t care, it was the little bit of hope I was holding onto.

That is until the car shut down for good, probably about halfway home.  This time, we actually knew our location, and we were well past the city limits, headed to the safe suburbs.  Another little silver lining to our adventure.  I tried wiggling the wires together, nothing.

I truly had no idea what the problem was this time.  Not a clue!  That is until someone spoke up and mentioned the idea that the car might be out of gas.  Yes, Of course!  Can you believe it?  We ran out of gas!  At least that was our theory.  Now what?  We’re stranded on the side of the highway, in the dark (of course there wasn’t a street light around), still miles upon miles from home, with a temporary fix on the car engine, thinking we might be out of gas but really not sure.

To be continued…

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

Pittsburgh – Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 2

Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.  ~S.E. Hinton

Gary-Aunt-Heather-Piper-at-Cure-Concert-Mellon-Arena-Pittsburgh-PA-7-17-96

Me & Gary & not sure at the Cure Concert at the former Mellon Arena (now Consol Energy Center), Pittsburgh, Pa. 7/17/96

Let me recap.  I was reminiscing from my high school days, actually about one night in particular.  A night that is so outlandish it sounds like it was made fictionally for television, but it’s entirely true!  Pittsburgh – A Night Out in the Big City!  Vol. 1

I took my old car, 1976ish Buick Limited, into Pittsburgh for a concert, when I wasn’t allowed, especially with a group of teenage friends.  We got lost in a bad section of Pittsburgh, illegally parked my car at a shady convenience store, to only find the night got worse when my car wouldn’t start.  Then, we accepted a ride to an auto parts store to purchase a new battery from a homeless man living in his car, which he may or may not have stolen.  We made it to the auto parts store and headed back to my friends who stayed behind with the broken down vehicle, in the middle of the ghetto, in the middle of the night.  Oh yeah, the homeless man’s car had no breaks.  He used his emergency break to stop.  I think that about sums up the last post.  It only gets better from here.

Our homeless man, or more accurately, the man living in his car, drove a little fast, as per the speed limit signs, and definitely too fast considering we had no real means to stop.  Suddenly, another obstacle struck us, or I should say we struck her.  What looked like a woman, dressed in stilettos, a micro mini skirt, and big hair, staggered in front of us.  Naturally, what else could make my story more colorful than a stranger appearing out of nowhere, to make contact with a moving vehicle, with no breaks!  Granted, we weren’t cruising at top speeds, but we were certainly in motion, and remained there despite the pedestrian.

Our driver used his emergency break to come to a stop, but not before we nudged her.  I know it wasn’t right, but we barely grazed this unconcerned night walker, who just walked in front of a moving vehicle.  Well, she wasn’t have having any of it, and showed her disdain by punching the hood of the car.  Then, our driver pushed the gas peddle, throwing her up on the hood, before using the emergency break again, throwing the stranger from the car.  What?  YES!  Can you imagine my shock?  I was mortified!

Tree-Tracey-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Graduation-from-Greater-Latrobe-High-School-6-1994

Tree, me & Tracey, graduation day from Greater Latrobe High School. 6/94

Please understand I never grew up around any alternative lifestyle, let alone knew what an alternative lifestyle was, or witnessed actions such as this one, meaning yelling out of a car at someone!

Again, what I thought was a lady, correction, I thought she was a prostitute, was not.  I sat there speechless, craning my neck to look over the hood of the car, trying to find life, hoping she wasn’t dead.

Eventually, what seemed like an hour later, the night walker got up, looked around, and stumbled a little.  To add to the terror, our angry driver began honking the horn and yelling out the window to get her to move.  Then, he started muttering a few words, one being transvestite.  Transvestite?  What?  Again, I’m a small town gal from Latrobe, who believed that a transvestite was a fictional character on television like a vampire, or an urban legend.  Instantly, my attention left our driver, my eyes grew three times the size, and I began to really examine the lady/guy standing in front of us, in the middle of the road, completely forgetting she/he was just hit by us.

Still staggering, she/he appeared to be either completely intoxicated or on drugs, or both.  The gal/guy stumbled to the passenger side of the door, where Sefo sat with the window down (allowing me to get air before I puked).  Why that side, and not the side of the verbal driver?  No clue. Aside from the staggering, which was evident before impact, our hit and run victim seemed unscathed.  The next thing I remembered, she/he tried to punch Sefo!  What did he do?  Sefo leaned into me, to put some distance between his shoulder and the staggering fist.  Luckily, our driver’s reflexes were quicker.  The homeless man, correction, the man who lived in his car, hit the gas, leaving my first transvestite encounter in the dust.  I mean Bruce Jenner (Caitlyn) wasn’t all over the news.  My heart was racing and never slowed down.  I looked at Sefo with wide eyes, expecting him to tell me all will be fine, that is until I saw his reaction.  It was exactly like mine!  Maybe a little more since he was in the line of direct fire.

Lori-Beanner-and-Justin-Baldonieri-at-Strip-District-Pittsburgh-Pa-early-1990s-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Lori Beanner & Justin Baldonieri at a concert in the Strip District. I’m not sure why SCREAM was written on Lori’s leg. Pittsburgh, Pa. early 1990’s

Our unconventional hero of sorts, the homeless man who lived in his car, held true to his word and took us back to our friends and my broken car, almost safely.  We had a battery, now what?

It appears the craziness is nearly behind us, right?  That’s what I thought.  How could it get worse?

Would you believe we never thought about tools!  I didn’t have any, and our homeless man didn’t either.  Personally, I thought with all that junk in the car, he’d at least have a screwdriver?  Nope.  Now what?

While we were off hitting, literally the night life, (pun intended), my friends took a walk to a local hangout to use the restrooms.  They traveled down the street and came upon a gay bar.  Again, please keep in mind, times were very different back then, and my innocence was not ready for the reality of the world aside from my own personal corner of Latrobe.  My friends told me all about the sights they saw.  What did they witness?  No idea.  I wasn’t paying attention in the slightest.  It was at that moment, I started to hear ringing in my ears and I felt lightheaded.  I was breathing heavy and the world was in slow motion.  It was so surreal.  The last thing I wanted was to put my friends in any sort of danger or crazy situation.  Although, I will admit, they didn’t seem to mind and weren’t bothered by anything at all, except Sefo, rightfully so.  I can’t imaging hitting anybody, let alone a transvestite with a car was normal.

Friends-in-Art-Room-at-Greater-Latrobe-High-School-1993-94-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Not sure, Vanessa Vadas, me & Erin Butina in the art room at Greater Latrobe High School 1993-94

Sefo told our tale to everyone, and it was at that point, I knew changes needed to made, immediately.  What did I decide?  I instructed a few of my friends to call their parents to come and get them, while I stayed with the car and figured out how to get it home.  The idea of a tow truck did lurk in the back of my mind, but remember, I was about 30 to 40 miles away from Latrobe.  I probably could have called a tow, but to travel that distance would have cost me a fortune, and I didn’t have much cash left. Reality, I didn’t even have that much cash in my bank account.  Well, naturally my friends wouldn’t leave, so we all pulled up a seat along the curb discussing our next plan of action.  Sometime in there, our homeless man who lived in his car departed without incidence.

Please note, it’s now probably about two in the morning and I had my Cinderella driver’s license.

Just then, a beat up truck pulled into the parking lot.  Remaining consistent with our seemingly poor judgement, someone got up and asked the gentleman for assistance.  This time, we simply asked for tools to install the brand new battery.  He had tools!  Now we’re in business.

Giving this new stranger, who was obviously drunk, a few bucks to change out the battery, he did so, with the help of our candles.  One might wonder just how I was going to explain a brand new battery to my dad, and I thought about that.  I’d tell him the truth.  I had to have a new one installed since the old one died.  Done!

Feeling hopeful, I jumped in the driver’s seat to turn over the engine.  Nothing!  Are you kidding me?  No almost.  No turning over and grinding.  No attempt at trying.  Nothing.  Oh doubly crap!  It wasn’t the battery after all!  Now what?

Cure-Concert-Star-Lake-Aunt-Heather-Piper-5-23-92

Me on some sort of flippy ride at the Cure Concert at the former Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheater (now First Niagara Pavilion) 5/23/92

Our situation got even worse, and I didn’t have the money for a tow the whole way to Latrobe.

Now a second minor problem.  What was I going to do with a brand new battery?

Take it back of course!  Keep in mind, I had no idea where this auto parts store was located, or how to get there.  Personally, after the situation with the staggering transvestite, my mind was wiped clear of all awareness and reality.  How would we know where to go?  I got it!  I had the receipt containing the name of the auto parts store.  Would it be open?  It was worth a try.

Unbeknownst to our drunk driver, he was about to be added to our nightly events.  Sefo asked him to give us a lift back to the auto parts store.  Not knowing if the store was closed or not, me and Sefo jumped back into another stranger’s vehicle, this time we knew his full story, or at least the pertinent details, he was clearly drunk.  We took a ride from whence we came, for a small fee of course.  Driving like a manic, actually like a blind man, we departed, not knowing if we’d make it back, leaving our friends in the ghetto.  Who was safer?

To be continued…

 

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

Pittsburgh – Night Out in the Big City Vol. 1

Sometimes I make bad decisions.  ~Heather Piper

Jill,-Lori,-Justin-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Concert-in-Pittsburgh-Pa

Jill, Lori Beanner, Justin Baldonieri after a concert in the Strip District, Pittsburgh, PA early to mid 1990’s

It’s funny how a simple conversation with someone can bring back memories nearly forgotten.  Throughout my life, I’ve found myself in unusual situations, putting it mildly.  This story is certainly one of those but is one-hundred percent true.  This stuff cannot be made up!

To this day, my parent’s have no idea, and I’d prefer not to bring it up at all, but to teach Kyle from my mistakes, I’m willing to share.  In a way, I don’t want Kyle to know my stupidity as a teenager or young adult, but then again I do, so he learns from my errors and immaturity, and knows I’m not perfect.

I’m very proud to proclaim I’ve never lied to my parents, at least not in the traditional sense.  However, at times, I’ve kept pertinent information from them that would have incriminated me.  I know, I know, the same thing, but not.  However, I’ve never looked them in the eyes and told a bold face lie, never!

tape recorder Aunt Heather Piper

Same tape player Nicole had & I used in my 1st car, since it didn’t have a radio.

As I’ve mentioned, my very First Car – My Very Own Days of Thunder was a 1976ish Buick Limited.  A big black beast with red interior, nicknamed Black Beauty.  I loved that car and so did my friends, one because I had wheels and two, because that car could seat a crowd.  Perfect for transporting large groups of teenagers who didn’t have rides, which is synonymous with that age.r.

Being a Latrobe native, I never really ventured any further west than Greensburg, about 15 miles.  East was a different story, my family is from Ligonier and I was familiar with the Laurel Mountains and the ridge.  In all reality, my parents were comfortable with that direction, as opposed to Pittsburgh.  Not that I was restricted by many rules, but one my parents reinforced was me traveling long distances, especially in my old car.  Understandable.  I really wasn’t permitted to go into Pittsburgh, about an hour and a half away, 40 miles or so.  Guess what?  That’s were I always wanted to explore, and I did.  Did they know?  They did, but mom and dad had the security of reinforcing my Cinderella license, when I had it.

Now that the stage is set, and the anticipation is built, here comes the most unbelievable night of my life.  It’s been a little over two decades since this adventure, so the details are a bit fuzzy, but the major events are still crystal clear.

Another big no in our household was concerts.  Really?  Unfortunately yes.  Mom and dad didn’t let us go to concerts, especially with friends.  I would have been open to my parents taking me to a show, but alas it never happened.  However, in this instance, I think I did tell them I was going to the show, since I paid for it myself.  In my senior year of high school, I waitressed at Valley Dairy.  I paid for my own gas, concert tickets, and associated expenses.  Regardless of my employment status, I do know for a fact that I wasn’t allowed to take Black Beauty into Pittsburgh, especially traveling with friends.  Yeah, I disregarded that rule.  We needed a ride and I had one, priorities!

The night started with a live show from Porno for Pyros (now that I think about it, what a horrible name).  Anyway, it was Perry Farrell’s band, the front man from Jane’s Addiction.  It was August 20, 1993, I found my old ticket stub!

Colleen-Aunt-Heather-Piper-South-Side-Pittsburgh-Piper's-Pub-c.-1999

Me & my cousin Colleen in the South Side, in front of Piper’s Pub. Night out before our friend Markelle moved to Arizona. Pittsburgh, PA late 1990’s

About five or six of my friends, including my good friend Maggie and I, made plans to stay at our friend Vanessa’s house.  Everyone met at Vanessa’s and I drove our eclectic group to Station Square in Pittsburgh.  To cut to the chase, we made it to the concert without incidence and it was a blast, but when it was time for us to simply exit stage right, we did, or so I thought.

Common sense would dictate that this story will take a hard right turn, especially since I was in charge of driving and maneuvering a group of teenagers from the suburbs into Pittsburgh and back out again.  Did you forget how Directionally Challenged I am, and always have been?

That’s exactly what happened.  I got us lost.  Where?  No clue, even to this day.  Also keep in mind, there were no cell phones and no GPS systems to guide our way.  We had to rely on road signs and verbal directions from locals.  To add another element of challenge, my gas gauge was broken.  I was instructed by my parents to record my mileage every time I got gas.  Did I?  Almost never.  I would go on gut instincts when fueling up.  Occasionally, I’d run out of gas and I’d have to walk to a house to call my brother, Ryan to rescue me.  A little foreshadowing here.

Eventually, after driving around for what seemed like forever, we ended up at a convenience store in the ghettos of sorts.  We stopped for two very important reasons, one, to get directions, and two, to stock up on snacks.

Did I mention I illegally parked the car too?  I figured our stay would be short lived, so no worries.  Well, that’s where it all went awry.

Please note, I’ve never and will never park in a handicap designated area.  The spot where I temporarily left my car was indeed in a tow away zone, but there was no real reason why it was marked as such.  There was additional access to the store from all angles.  The lot was triangular in shape, and I was in the back corner.  To me, a rule to be broken.

As we exited this dinky, dive store that sat on the corner among the shadows, we filed back in the car to find our way home.  Did I also mention I left the keys in the car because I was used to doing so?

Melanie-Aunt-Heather-Piper-at-Wedding-late-1990s

Melanie Grimm & me. Wedding in Mount Pleasant, late 1990’s

It didn’t matter anyway.  Once I tried to turn over the engine, all I heard was click.  It wasn’t like the starter was grinding and trying to start.  Nope!  There was nothing!  No trying.  No almost.  Nothing.  Oh crap!  It was at that moment a sickness settled in the pit of my stomach nearly making me vomit.  Then, visions of my angry dad popped in my head.  YIKES!  Now can you say Adventures in Babysitting?

Being slightly familiar with engines, meaning not really at all, I had to try something.  I popped the hood to look inside.  Of course, no one had a flashlight. Why would we?  However, oddly enough, someone had candles and matches.  Seriously?  Yes!  I didn’t question, I just rolled with it.  We lit the candles to look inside to see if something stood out.  Nothing.  Keep in mind, the melted wax had to go somewhere, including dripping down into the engine.  A side note for later.

Okay.  Now what?  We had to try and fix the situation.  How?  By accepting a ride from a homeless man to a local garage.  Really?  Yes.  Who’s brilliant idea was that?  I have no idea, but I was desperate.  Almost immediately after coming to terms with a broken vehicle, this guy pulled up to the convenience store.  Sefo (his real name was Matt) was talking to this stranger who seemed semi-normal and I believe we paid him ten bucks to take us to a nearby auto parts store to purchase a battery.

Lori-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Strip-District-Pittsburgh-PA-late-1990s

Lori Beanner & me in the Strip District in Pittsburgh, PA. Pre-concert at the Metropole. early to mid 1990’s

Keep in  mind, at the time, we believed it was the battery that just died. Why didn’t we have someone jump the battery?  We didn’t have jumper cables.  Did I know how to give the car a jump anyway?  You bet I did!  But without cables, I couldn’t transfer juice from one battery to another simply by wishing it.

Our plan?  Sefo, who was no bigger than me, would travel with me and this homeless man to the auto parts store, while the rest would stay with the car.  Homeless?  Yes, he converted his backseat into a closet, meaning I had to sit in the front seat between Sefo and this stranger.

Only when we began our trip, did I find out he had nearly no breaks.  How did I know?  When we approached a stop sign, the car sputtered and jerked because he had to use his emergency brake, before obviously admitting to the lack of break system.  That wasn’t the worst part.  Upon closer inspection, I saw all the wires from the dashboard strung up on the outside, and hanging down at our feet.  It really looked like he stole the car!  Scary!  To be honest, I was still more afraid to tell my parents I took the car into Pittsburgh.  Why didn’t someone else call one of their parents?  I have no idea.

Somehow this man, who was somewhat pleasant drove us, recklessly through downtown Pittsburgh, bringing us an auto parts store, as promised.  Sefo stayed with the stranger in the car, while I went in the store to purchase a battery.  Luckily, I had a checking account and I had my checkbook with me, yes when we used checks and not Mac card or credit cards.  I didn’t have either.  Now for the trip back.

To be continued…

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

Gram, I Hope You Finally Have Peace

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.   ~Agatha Christie

Alice M. Piper 

July 24, 1930 – June 30, 2015

Gram-&-Pap-at-Harbor-Inn-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Gram & Pap at the Harbor Inn.

My 84-year old Gram, Alice Piper passed away today, Tuesday, June 30, 2015 sometime mid-morning.  (It’s kind of ironic, since she hated the mornings and never got up before noon.)  To some, it may come as a surprise to honor this lady with a blog post.  Reality?  She was my Gram, actually my only grandmother I ever knew.  My maternal grandmother passed away, long before my parents even met.  It’s true, we don’t get to pick our family, but we should try and support each other, at the very least, wish them well, and pray for them.  This is my opportunity to do that for Gram.

Gram is survived by two great grandchildren, which I think is pretty special, Kyle and Cheyenne, among the rest of the family, minus my Pap, Walter and my brother, Ryan.  I also believe Gram was the last surviving sibling in her full-blooded family.  She had half brothers and sisters, some still living.

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Dad, Gram & Uncle Sonny. 1990’s

There’s no doubt to anyone who spent any sort of time with Gram, knew she was a true firecracker in every sense of the word, even up to her last breath.  It’s no secret that Gram wasn’t your typical loving, nurturing, old lady that baked and was a saint.  No!  She was a loud, opinionated, trouble maker, who used to chain smoke. (for much of her life until she was placed in a nursing home)   I could tell many tales of disrespect and meanness.  However, thinking more on this, those are stories that have been told and retold all throughout Gram’s life, and I’m sure will be retold in the future.  Besides being an embarrassment, they only display the negative side to my grandmother.  What many don’t know, is that Gram actually had a positive side.  Granted, it was buried deep down, and only appeared very sparsely at random times, but she did in deed have a heart.  Those are the stories that really need to be told.

Unbeknownst to some, Gram had a rough childhood including living dirt poor (complete poverty), a mother abandoning all her children and leaving them to a mean and violent man, who drank, was lazy, didn’t work and was supported by welfare.  First hand accounts of this man were never positive, so I can only image what it was like living in that household.  No wonder all the women desperately tried to get out.  Years after Gram’s mother ran away, her dad remarried a women who was slightly older than my Gram was at the time, and they had kids together.  Right about now, I hear the dueling banjo’s playing in my head from the movie Deliverance.

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Uncle Sonny, Gram, Pap & Dad 1965

Long before suffering the loss of a grandchild, my brother Ryan, Gram lost her first born.  In addition to having my uncle and dad, Gram’s first offspring was a still born baby boy, a situation that was common back then, but I’m guessing equally as devastating.

Believe it or not, Gram was pretty active in her church when I was a youngster.  She taught bible school every summer at Bethel Lutheran Church, and I believe she helped out with Sunday school too.  Helping the church, and God’s children is always a good thing.

Because of Gram’s insistence on spending time with her and my pap on the ridge, every third weekend (Nicole, Ryan and myself alternated weekends) and staying very third week in the summer, I was also able to keep in touch with some of my cousins.  Otherwise, I would’ve only seen them once a year at the Piper Reunion or occasional family gathering because they went to Ligonier, and I went to Latrobe school.

Did you know Gram loved going to the movies?  She did, and so my interest in the big screen came to be.  Granted, Gram loved westerns, not a favorite of mine, but she also watched thrillers and comedies and such.  Again, she wasn’t the typical grandmother who baked and taught her grandchildren to do so.  She considered homemade, opening a box of cake mix and adding the oil and eggs.  She was a less than par baker, and a borderline editable cook.  She didn’t garden or sew, at least not with consistency that I can remember, and she definitely didn’t knit or croshay.  So after my pappy died, what do you do to not be alone?  You hang out with your grandchildren.  What do you do with them that didn’t require much effort in terms of physical activity or interaction?  You take them to the movies!  Did I mind?  Not at all, in fact I loved going (still do)!  I see this interest in the big screen continuing with Kyle, for he too loves going to the movie theater.

Gram loved to play cards and board games.  Every evening in the summer, we’d sit on the front porch on the ridge, she in her rocking chair, and I on a plastic fold up chair (that latter collapsed on me, sending me down the cement steps head first), in front of a card table and we played games.  Pappy watched us from his glider.  What did we play?  We played Three of a Kind, Go Fish and Uno.  (My pappy taught us to play poker.)  She also loved board games like Trouble, Sorry, Connect Four, Candy Land, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Backgammon, Clue, Battleship, Chutes and Ladders, Life, Yahtzee, Scrabble and Operation.  Sometimes we’d sit and fill out crossword puzzles together or word searches.  All of this I did enjoy, minus her cigarette smoking.  Again, Kyle has always showed an interest in playing cards and boardgames, a trait he genuinely shared with his great grandmother.

Gram-&-Nicole-at-Penn-State-Graduation-1996-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Gram & Nicole at Nicole’s college graduation from Penn State University 1996

Gram tried to stay involved in our activities.  All throughout school Gram and pap attended our spring musicals at Sacred Heart, every sacrament received, and every function, even after pap passed away.  Gram joined us at Penn State College to witness my sister receiving her college diploma.  Nicole was the first in our family accomplish a formal education.  Gram honestly loved and cared for us.  Many years later, when Kyle graced us with his presence, Gram always requested his presence at her apartment for visits.  She loved our little man equally as much as we do.

Did you know my Gram never had a birthday party?  (Now Harry Potter pops into my head.)  Nope, never as a child or even as an adult.  So by the time Gram was ready to celebrate her sixtieth birthday in July of 1990 (I believe), mom planned a big surprise party.  Me, Ryan and Nicole took her to see Pretty Woman (obviously we didn’t know what it was about) while all the guests arrived at mom and dad’s house.  We showered her with gifts and cake and ice-cream.  I remember how honestly surprised she was and truly happy!

A few years after my pap died, Gram became an in-home caretaker to an elderly person.  She took classes to get certified and that was her very first job, ever.  She was in her sixties.  To be honest, I was proud she went to school and began working.  Perhaps that experience carried over to her ending days in the nursing home.  I was told by some nurses that Gram actually helped calm a dementia patient at times, another good deed nearly gone untold.

I’m certainly not making excuses for Gram, or her behavior over the years, but I am saying we are all God’s people.  There is good in every single person.  Gram lived a life, keeping us on our toes and everyone one around her.  I hope she finally has the peace I think she’s always needed.

Gram, Pap might be hiding from you, so let him know you’re ready for peace and quiet, and give it to him as well as yourself.  Make sure you look for Ryan, I suspect he’s hanging with Pap, you know those two were always so tight.  Tell Pap and Ryan how much we miss them and let Ryan know Kyle’s getting big and is a great kid! God Speed Gram!  Until I see you again.

 

Grams Obituary Aunt Heather Piper

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

Cruising the Open Seas

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.  ~Kate Chopin

Kyle-swimming-with-dolphin-on-cruise-6-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle finally got to swim with the dolphins! One of the many activities on his cruise trip with Aunt Nikki. 6/2015

Summer has arrived and has consumed all of my time.  Between Thrill of the Hunt and my scavenger hunt events, the garden, the bees, the chickens and the turkeys, and trying to wrangle in a 13-year-old to spend quality time with me, there’s little time to do anything else.  Personally, I wish I’d open my schedule for more leisurely reading and writing, and I will, but until then, busy, busy, busy.  Those are my days, which are clearly very different from Kyle’s.

Kyle seems to be enjoying his summer thus far.  He’s in the marching band, practicing one day a week.  He’s also trying his hand at the Tuba.  I’m glad he’s challenging himself and I’m very proud of that young boy, who still hasn’t shaken his attitude (partially).  However, that’s not all, besides fishing and mostly laying around playing video games, Kyle recently added some miles to his life experiences.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 6-10-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle and his Aunt Nikki set sail for Kyle’s first cruise.  Seriously?  Yes!  It was the annual Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun trip(Please note, I’m still not invited on these trips, which would make them even more adventurous and fun, just saying.  We could call it Kyle and the Aunts’ Week of Fun!)    I can’t believe the trip was nearly a month ago now.  To be honest, it started a few months back when Nicole and Kyle began discussing this year’s “Week of Fun” trip ideas.  Then, the anticipation grew even more when Kyle’s passport came in the mail.  What 13-year-old kid has a passport and has used it?  I’m sure some kids, obviously Kyle, but I never did until I reached my twenties.  He is blessed!  Then, the true excitement, when Nicole came home the weekend before departure to pick up the package, a.k.a. Kyle.

On Sunday, June 7th Nicole and Kyle drove to Baltimore, Maryland to jump aboard their cruise liner and set sail for a memorable week.

Aunt-Nikki-&-Kyle-Week-of-Fun-Cruise-Ship-6-7-15-Aunt-Heather-Piper

“Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun” … this year a cruise. 6/2015

Where did they go?  They went to the Bahamas, stopped off in Florida and visited NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, and they participated in activities on the cruise ship while at sea, including the hairy chest contest.  Nicole won!  Just kidding! (That totally made me laugh out loud!)

These were all firsts for Kyle, including the hairy chest contest!  I’m glad my sister was able to introduce him to new experiences.  Like what?  Kyle got to swim with the dolphins!  Did he love it?  You bet!  He also got to explore the Bahamas, something I’ve never even done.  In fact, whoever his tour guide was left an impression on Kyle that lasted long after his trip.  Unbeknownst to the tour guide, he knew how to speak Kyle.  Basically the language of Kyle is through statistics and numbers.  Nicole and Kyle came home on Sunday, June 14th.  I was in Arlington, Virginia on Friday administering to the Singles Scavenger Hunt, so I occupied Nicole’s house until my world traveler arrived, so I could bring our precious cargo back.  On the four hour ride home, Kyle kept rattling off trivia regarding the Bahamas.  “Aunt Heather, do you know how someone can become a citizen of the Bahamas?” (one is to purchase a house on the island) and “Aunt Heather, did you know they don’t pay taxes?” and “Aunt Heather they only lost eight people with the last hurricane, so it’s really not that dangerous.”  Yep for most of the ride, Kyle was simply spouting off facts and figures, mostly about the Bahamas and some regarding NASA.  That’s my Kyle!

Week of Fun Cruise 6-10-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Nicole-Kyle-&-the-captain-on-cruise-6-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle insisted on meeting the captain of their cruise ship. Aunt Nikki, Kyle & the Captain. 6/2015

While sitting in Nicole’s living room, listening to the two reminisce about their trip, I was reminded just how much Kyle is like me.  Apparently, while waiting to take the elevator, they had to, well… wait.  Then, the elevator stopped at every level before arriving at their room.  Patience wasn’t strong with Kyle.  As the story goes, Kyle made my sister, who has an aversion to exercise, take the steps.  The agreement was, if it was more than two floors they’d take the elevator, if less the steps.  Now that’s my Kyle!  In general I usually take the steps, a habit Kyle has certainly picked up from me.  It’s that little extra effort that can make a world of difference to a person’s health.  While Nicole was commenting about the steps, I jumped into the conversation to defend Kyle, reminding Aunt Nikki that taking the steps was a wise choice considering all the food consumed.

Nicole said Kyle literally ate a burger a day, and treated himself to an ice-cream a day throughout the trip.  When bringing this fun fact to light,  Kyle gave me an ornery look as if saying “Ya Aunt Heather, I ate whatever I wanted and not healthy.”  I smiled and said, “Good for you buddy, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.  That’s what vacations are all about.  I’m glad you got some protein in your system and not all sweets.”  He seemed pleased with himself.

There’s no doubt Nicole and Kyle had a blast and created memories for a lifetime.  Like I’ve always told Kyle, I want him to take every opportunity to travel and see the world, explore every inch and enjoy life.

During our ride back, Kyle mentioned that he could live in the Bahamas.  I’d visit him, but that’s about it.  That comment kind of surprised me, since Kyle doesn’t like being in the sun, and hates the heat, and really hates to sweat.  Who knows, maybe the Bahamas will be his favorite vacation spot.

On a somewhat side note, while driving home with Kyle I looked down to see he changed his iPhone cover.  What is it?  The NASA logo.  I guess he did have a great time and was very influenced by his experiences!  After pointing out the case and telling him it was nice (it really is), I told him about his Aunt Nikki’s childhood obsession about working for NASA.  He seemed intrigued, yet I’m sensing he picked up on this little known fact during their visit to Florida.

Kennedy-Space-Center-6-10-15-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kennedy Space Center. NASA 6/10/15

The annual tradition of Aunt Nikki’s and Kyle’s Week of Fun has been in existence since Kyle was a small tyke, growing in wow factor, mileage and expense year-over-year.  I hope it never stops and always continues for those two!  Personally, I love hearing the stories.  Wonder what next year will bring?

 

 

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

Miracles of Our Time

In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.  ~Mother Teresa

Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.  ~Mother Teresa

Fall-on-our-ridge-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Autumn on the ridge. 2013

Recently, I caught the movie A Walk To Remember (2002) on television.  The book by the same name was written by Nicholas Sparks.  Although I’ve never read that particular book by Mr. Sparks, I’ve seen the movie on numerous occasions.  I really enjoy the bittersweet love story, and I’d like to give the book a try.  Perhaps one day.

For those of you who read the book and/or watched the movie, ultimately a miracle happened.  The main character, Jamie Sullivan wanted to witness a miracle, and after a few years, she got her wish.  That was one of the items on her bucket list so to speak.

While watching, and knowing how the movie ends, I still found myself sitting on the edge of my seat and getting a warm fuzzy feeling at the actions leading up to the miracle.  It was in that instance, I began thinking of miracles, small and large.  With so much negative and unsettling actions taking place all over the world, some unknown to the masses and continue privately, it’s nice to think that we live in a time of actual miracles.  That goodness does exists.  We see tragedies and the ugliness of human behavior, but there is also the opposite.  The good does exist, it just not as popular or accepted.

Being raised, and is a practicing Catholic, who attended proctorial school for seven years, in my lifetime, as short as it is comparatively to history in general, I’ve seen, witnessed and heard of miracles.  The seeing and witnessing miracles, I’ll get to momentarily, but the hearing of miracles have been documented for ages.  The saints have been blessed with an extra dose of God’s grace, and God has had a very special relationship with these chosen people who do good in His name.  During the canonization process, these miracles are brought to light.  Random Fun Facts:  Becoming a Saint 

I once read Mother Teresa said her calling came to her in the form of a poor person.  She said she looked him in the face and saw Jesus.  Everyone knows Mother Teresa from her accomplished days of helping the poor in Calcutta.  Since Mother Teresa is on the road to sainthood with her beatification by Pope John Paul II, and she is the epitome of spiritual purity, I thought it fitting to incorporate her.

On a side note, originally, when I began writing this blog post a few years ago now (wow how time does pass by quickly!) I was helping Kyle with his geography homework, Europe before World War II.  Every time he mentioned Albania, I thought of Mother Teresa, where her roots began.

Over the years, speaking with people from all walks of life and faith practices, most have never heard of such modern day miracles, I mean even the big ones!  Keep in mind, Columbus was credited with discovering America in 1492.  Miracles happened and continue to happen all over the world.  The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe took place in Mexico in the 1530’s.  Then there’s the very intriguing story of Joseph of Cupertino, the Christian mystic and saint who had the power of levitation.  He was from Italy in the mid to late 1600’s.  I have to add the miracle of the bleeding Eucharist with the consecrated host.  In fact, there are several such instances.

Down-the-ridge-in-snow-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Snowy day on the ridge 2015

Of course, some miracles have been heard of, but perhaps not completely understood.  Thanks to the movie Stigmata, Saint Francis of Assisi, who suffered the marks of Christ’s Passion through the stigmata, was brought to light.

There are so many other miracles that unfortunately, I don’t know them all, or I only remember the overview of the story, and not the pertinent details.  Keep in mind, I’m no expert on saints or miracles, but I’ve heard and accepted the stories as a sign from God and I believe wholeheartedly.  Perhaps miracles happen to reinstate our faith and to give us hope.

Not too long ago, I was told a story from a person who used to be an alcoholic.  For privacy sake, I’ll leave his name out and how I know him.  He told me of his emotional journey toward sobriety, having a similar experience like Mother Teresa.  Now here is this assumed ordinary Catholic man (I’m not saying you have to be Catholic to partake or witness a miracle), who was literally touched by Jesus.  After I heard the story, I didn’t doubt it for one minute!  Actually, I was so excited for him, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even to this day.  To me, I was blessed enough to have a first hand account of such a miracle and holy intervention.

Really?  Oh yes.  My friend was befriended by a man who worked at this rehab facility.  The two men spent weeks together, sharing stories and working out my friend’s inner demons.  My friend even said the man’s face (worker) was like light.  Years after my friend’s release, he went back to the facility to find the worker who made such an impact in his life.  He wanted to thank him and keep him abreast of his new life in the clean and sober world.  Guess what?  The man never existed.  There was no record of him, anywhere, nor his likeness or his name.  It’s as if the worker didn’t exist, yet my friend spend hours upon hours with him, even in front of people.  To this day, he said he has no urge to drink and that God simply took that away.  Something to think about.

What miracle have I seen and witnessed?  First a good friend of mine survived a brain aneurysm that erupted, with little to now side effects.  She’s a walking modern day miracle.  Any others?  Sure.  Every time I attend mass and watch the priest consecrate the host and the wine into the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ.  If you think I’m being naive or mislead, refer to the seventh paragraph above and look into it with an open mind.

I hope everyone gets to witness a miracle or at the very least a good deed!  We could all use a little reminder of good in our lives.

On a funny note, my biggest miracle would be to have Kyle drop the attitude.  He’s a good kid, with an edge to him.

This screen shot below is too comical.  I participated in one of those silly games on Facebook, and this was the answer for what is my calling.  Since I know it’s not true, as much as I’d be honored and blessed for it to be true, I wanted to prove we all have it in us, even me, even for a moment in a game.

Screen Shot of a game on FB 2014 Aunt Heather Piper

I took one of those silly trivia games on Facebook, & this was the answer. Since I know it’s not true, as much as I would be honored & blessed, I wanted to prove we all have it in us, even me, even for a moment in a game. 2014

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

What’s For Dinner?

The proof of the pudding is the eating.  ~Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Cheyenne-Piper-&-Kyle-at-Bethel-Church-2005-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle & his cousin Cheyenne Piper at Bethel Lutheran Church. 2005

Ever since Kyle was a little tyke, he’s been very structured, eventually including his eating habits.  Truly.  It could be ten o’clock at night and he’d sit back in retrospect asking, “What was for dinner?”  Usually I ask, “Are you hungry?”  With Kyle’s response of, “No, but I wanted to know what was for dinner?”  Seriously?  Oh, yes!  Like he’s taking a tally or checking of his daily list.  He’ll even reiterate what he ate and what category it was considered, either breakfast, dinner, supper, or snack.  Kyle can’t simply eat when he’s hungry and leave it at that, he has to place it in a mental check box.

On a side note, in our household, we call “lunch”, dinner.  So what do we call dinner or the last meal of the day?  Supper.  Yes, dinner is our midday meal, or commonly called lunch, and supper is our later day meal, or sometimes called dinner.

Anyway, when conversing with Kyle over his meals for the day, a big WARNING needs to accompany this discussion.  If you try and assist Kyle recollect his food consumption for that particular day, and you categorize a food item as part of the wrong meal, or worse, call out an item eaten from the previous day, he’ll call you out on it and make a big deal about his supposedly missed meal, even when he’s not hungry.

Example time.  Now I can’t exactly recall a specific conversation between us, but they basically go like this:

Aunt-Heather-Piper-baking-in-Pittsburgh-Apartment-1995

Me making cupcakes in my apartment in Pittsburgh (Beechview on Broadway Street) 1995

Stage:  (It’s 10:00 pm on a Saturday night and Kyle is laying on the couch watching television, winding down before bed.)
Kyle:  Aunt Heather what was for dinner?
Me:  (Not thinking to hard on the question)  I don’t know, are you hungry?
Kyle:  No, I just wanted to know what we had for dinner.
Me:  I don’t know, steak and eggs.
Kyle:  No that was breakfast.
Me:  Oh, we had grilled chicken and potatoes.
Kyle:  No, that was for supper.
Me: (Getting frustrated over a pointless conversation.)  I don’t know!  Are you hungry?
Kyle:  No, I just wanted to know.
Me:  If you’re not hungry does it matter?
Kyle:  No
Me:  (LIGHT BULB!)  Oh, we had sandwiches!  (Now feeling pleased with myself for finally remembering.)
Kyle:  Oh, yeah that’s right!
Me:  Now do you want me to review all your snacks including the quart of chocolate milk you drank in one gulp?  (Sarcasm and silliness, for I truly don’t care what Kyle eats or how much, as long as the majority of his consumption is healthy, and in moderation for the not-so-nutritious food items.  Please note, the remark about the chocolate milk was not an exaggeration.  He really does fill up a quart jar with milk and chocolate syrup, and gulp it down instantly.  I guess he’s a growing boy.)
Kyle:  (snickering) No.  But what was for dessert?
Me:  I saw you eating Oreos earlier.
Kyle:  Yeah, but that wasn’t dessert for supper.
Me:  You don’t have to have a dessert for every meal.  Desserts are only for special occasions, or as a rare treat, not for everyday.
Kyle:  Why not?  I like desserts!
Me:  I do too buddy, but it’s not good to have all that sugar and fat.
Kyle:  I like sugar.
Me:  I know!  Same as your dad!
Kyle:  (Snicker, before he heads off to bed, satisfied that his checklist is completed.)

Dad-U-Sonny-Jeremy-Nicole-92-Christmas-Party-Aunt-Heather-Piper

In the back row: Dad, Uncle Sonny & Jeremy. Uncle Denny’s back is on the left & Nicole on the right. Christmas Party 1992

Perhaps this strange and sporadic phenomenon is partially my fault.  When Kyle was little, I became aware that when he wasn’t with my family, he’d miss meals or the sustenance eaten was less than par, not healthy in the slightest.  So I began to teach Kyle to eat at least three meals a day, and snack healthy in between.  That’s about the time I taught him about nutrition.  I especially stressed the importance of breakfast, which was completely omitted from his diet before school.  Or worse, he’d eat his jelly sandwich and crackers on the bus headed to school because he was hungry, and then have to go without for the entire day.  It broke my heart to think of Kyle sitting in the cafeteria with his friends, watching them eat their lunches, while he was hungry.  I’m not saying a jelly sandwich (at the time he hated peanut butter, so that was his PB&J minus the P) is the most nutritious for breakfast, but it’s something.

Naturally, there’s always an excuse, but with a five, six, seven, eight, nine and even a ten year old, there doesn’t need to be an excuse, simply doing what’s right for his well-being.  This is paramount during a child’s developmental stages.  Plus, it’s good habit forming.  Granted, to counter act this, over the years, I began my mission to teach Kyle to make himself some simple and quick dishes to equip him to fend for himself.  Like what?  Oatmeal in the microwave  or eggs. (Yes, Kyle has always known how to make eggs and to properly and safely use the stove and oven since he was probably two or so.)  Grabbing a banana or apple isn’t too taxing and is an acceptable breakfast or snack, both of which Kyle loves.  Even toast would be better than nothing.

On another side note, I also gave Kyle money to buy a hot lunch, not saying the cafeteria meals were any healthier, but at least it was food for his empty stomach and a warm meal.

Well, enough heavy.  Kyle is now a healthy teenager, one who still confirms his three meals of the day.  Maybe something really did sink in when I was teaching him about healthy eating habits.  I hope so.  I only want Kyle to have every opportunity in life, and that includes eating healthy and staying that way for a long time.

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

Shake, shake, shake … Shake Your Booty!

The music in his laughter had a way of rounding off the missing notes in her soul.  ~Gloria Naylor

Kyle-busting-a-move-at-Casey's-Wedding-c.-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle (about 3 years old) busting a move at Casey’s wedding at Green Gables in Jennerstown, PA 2004

The other day I was listening to the radio and what song came on?  Yes!  (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty by KC and the Sunshine Band.  Okay, catchy song, but why would that tune in particular bring a smile to my face?  Simple.  Because it has the same effect on my sister and parents, yes even my dad.  Ready for the story?  Before I begin, one might guess this story has everything to do with a certain little boy.  If that was your thought, then you’d be correct!

When Kyle was a baby, still in diapers and not yet speaking, his Aunt Nikki would shake his little chubby belly and sing, “Shake, shake, shake … shake, shake, shake … shake your booty, shake your booty!”  Coming from my dry humored sister, it was pretty funny.  Periodically, when she’d fly home from Arizona, she would continue this tradition.  It caught on, and I’d find myself singing the same song to Kyle while shaking his little body.  Eventually, my dad joined the bandwagon and it became a thing in the Piper household with the theme song originating from the seventy’s.

Looking back, a little over a decade ago, we needed more reasons to laugh than ever before.  Having Kyle around all the time brought light to our darkness and allowed us to enjoy life.  Incorporating those funny instances momentarily brought us out of our depressed state, from the loss of Ryan.  Yes, we humored ourselves at Kyle’s expense.  Don’t judge!  I’m sure there’s worse things in life.

This sporadic and silly behavior continued for years until Kyle was a toddler.  He became so accustomed to the song that upon hearing it, he would automatically shake his booty, literally.  No joke!  It was hilarious!  Instantly, when we began to sing the first set of “shake” he’d give us a smile to light the world, kick his legs around and pound his heels on the floor.  Sometimes if he was feeling spry, he’d get up on his feet, stabilize himself with a wide stance, and rapidly shake his backside back and forth.

The older Kyle got, the funnier the reaction came from him.  Sometimes we’d be sitting in the living room and my dad would give Kyle this peculiar look, indicating what was to follow, before spouting out “Shake, shake, shake.”  Kyle would return his pappy’s look with a HUGE smile and a twinkle in his eyes, and begin his mini performance.  It was too cute!  We loved watching and encouraging Kyle to dance around and be merry.  It was a positive experience for both parties, Kyle thrived on our attention and being center stage, even if it was only for a few minutes, and we loved seeing him happy.  Yes, of course we’d applaud and cheer him on.  Kyle always did love music, especially one with a solid beat or catchy lyrics.  Funny part?  The only lyrics we knew were “Shake, shake, shake… shake, shake, shake… shake your booty, shake your booty.”

Those days ended when Kyle was two or three years old, maybe all the way up till the age of four.  Then the appeal was lost in Kyle’s eyes, certainly not ours.  Nothing would bring me great joy as to have Kyle stand there again shaking his bottom and singing “Shake, shake, shake…”  Although, Kyle’s now thirteen and I’m sure he’s forgotten all about that song and dance.  I’m also fairly certain, he’d be devastated if I suggested such an action.

I guess this is the joy of life, when it’s least expected, something happens, like a song coming on the radio that takes me back a few years of fun memories with my little man.  It warms my heart over and over again and makes me truly appreciate this little boy God gave us, and the wonderful family and life I was blessed with.  My only regret?  I wish I would’ve captured that memory on video!  That would’ve been the best ever!  At the time, I never thought of it, and when Kyle got older he wouldn’t let me record him.  Dang!

P.S. On Friday, 5/22/15 I went to the movies with a group of my friends to see Pitch Perfect 2.  (Love those movies!)  What song did they begin singing?  Yes!  I about fell out of my seat giggling at the perfect timing of this blog post.

 

“(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” Lyrics

Aah, everybody, get on the floor
Let’s dance
Don’t fight the feeling
Give yourself a chanceShake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Oh, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your bootyAah, You can, you can do it
Very well
You’re the best in the world
I can tell

Oh, Shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Oh, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Woah, woah, yeah

Shake shake, shake shake
Aah, Shake shake, shake shake

Aah, Shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Oh, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty

Aah, Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Aah, don’t fight the feeling
Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Aah, give yourself a chance

Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
You can do it, do it
Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Come home with mama now

Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Woo woo hoo
Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Aah, run down to sister

Shake shake (come on), shake shake (come on) on your booty
Aah! do your duty. Aah haa
Shake shake (come on), shake shake (come on)

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

Resemblance of Past Ryan & Present Kyle

The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.  ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Baby-Kyle-2001-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Our little man … Kyle as a 3 month old baby. 2001

In keeping with one of my goals for this blog, recording stories about Ryan as they come to mind so Kyle has the opportunity to read them later in life and get to know his dad, I have a very sweet story to share.

A few weeks ago, Kyle mentioned he was hungry, and was going to make himself cinnamon toast.  You know, toasted bread, spread with butter, and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Great, whatever buddy!  That’s what I thought until I saw what he did.

Kyle took that comment as a full time job.  As I rounded the corner, I saw Kyle perched in front of the television with a stack of cinnamon toast, and I mean a STACK.  I didn’t count the slices, but I bet there was nearly a loaf of bread there!  The best?  He meticulously stacked the bread onto a small plate.  It was almost comical.  The base of this structure was less than half of the height.

On a side note, I did sneak a few slices of cinnamon toast for myself.  However, Kyle didn’t go without, he added more bread to the toaster to replace the casualties.  Of course, when he gave me a look, I said, “Go make more then.”  For once Kyle listened to me.

Sometime, after I satisfied my immediate craving, and the humor of Kyle’s actions subsided, something else came to light.  Kyle’s resemblance to his dad!  No joke!  Not only did Kyle look like Ryan physically, at least at first glance, sitting on the couch wearing jeans and a tee shirt with sandy blonde hair, sitting in my parents living room, but the entire scene took me back a few years.  Ryan used to do the exact same thing, literally.

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Ryan with his godparents, Paula & Joe. To the right is my Grandpap Chester’s checker table he made. 1977

Similar to Ryan, Kyle’s dad, Kyle also has a sweet tooth, especially for cinnamon toast!  Ryan used to make an entire loaf of bread, and I mean THE ENTIRE LOAF, (including the ends) dripping with butter and a heavy hand sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to each slice, covering the very corners.  With the stack nearly reaching the ceiling, Ryan would plop himself in front the television to chow down and watching cartoons.  Sometimes, Ryan would make himself a cup of hot chocolate to dip the bread.  The hot chocolate was a condiment for the cinnamon toast.  It was truly an amazing sight!  This activity didn’t last all day.  Oh, no!  It only took Ryan a few minutes to ingest the contents of his plate, and sometimes work on round two.  Seriously?  No exaggeration!  I don’t know how mom and dad kept us in stock of food.  This incidence didn’t just occur once a month or once every few months.  Nope!  It was more like twice a week, mostly in the winter.  The summer was reserved for indulging in fruits and vegetables. Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?  No matter how many times I witnessed this phenomenon, it always captured my attention.

Naturally, I did the same thing with Ryan as I did with Kyle, steal a slice or two from the bread tower.  However, Ryan never really cared, he’d simply go make more if the contents in his stomach didn’t reach the brim.  This is one of those stories that seeing is believing.

So here we are, over two decades later, and Ryan’s eating habits have come full circle, without his influence.  Unbeknownst to Kyle, he was reenacting the same scenario his dad participated in.  Kind of weird, yet heart warming.  It’s those little moments that comfort me with the loss of Ryan.  It also brings  me joy to see the similarities between Ryan and Kyle.  It’s almost refreshing when Kyle isn’t acting like his Aunt Nikki or his Gigi or others, simply like his dad.

How did Kyle learn this behavior?  On a very rare occasion we make cinnamon toast, but it’s certainly not a staple in the household.  That’s how Kyle learned about cinnamon toast, but choosing to make a truckload at a time and ingesting it within minutes must be all genetics, I guess.  Perhaps Kyle is gaining Ryan’s metabolism and hunger.  Yikes, I can only imagine if Ryan and Kyle were alive at that same time, the world would be wiped out of food, especially bread!  Add me to the mix and it would be a world deprived of all sustenance.

Kyle you are your daddy’s son, in more ways than you can imagine!

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Kyle trout fishing with me & his pap at off of Route 30, Causeway at Loyalhanna Creek 4/24/15

 

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

Moving Day, the Turkeys Have a New Home!

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it.  ~Edith Wharton

Start-of-Turkey-Coop-with-dogs-4-11-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Let the construction of the turkey coop begin! Dad was consulting with Avery, Scooby & Seven.  They were excited!   4/11/15

Since we decided to raise chickens and turkeys this year, we needed a place to house the birds.  My dad had a smoke shed, which we converted into a chicken coop, easy.  However, the turkeys needed a place to call their own, equals building of a turkey coop, and fast to accommodate the rapidly growing birds.  Needless to say, the big project of this spring was the construction of the turkey coop.

Did we go to the store to purchase wood?  Not the Piper’s!  Dad utilized the few trees that previously fell in the woods near his house, and sharpened the chainsaw blades to take down a few more trees.  We called on my cousin Mikey to drag the logs out, and Mikey and his dad cut the boards for us.

Now building time!  Dad and I didn’t start construction right away.  We waited for Kyle to assist, knowing he’d enjoy the activity and wanted to participate in the building process.  Except, every time we planned on working on the building, Kyle made other plans or the weather didn’t cooperate.  Feeling pressured from the turkeys, dad and I began the project without our number one handyman.

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The planning stage of the turkey coop. Dad was ready! 4/11/15

Personally, it broke my heart to work on the turkey coop without Kyle.  I knew he would’ve loved building it, and it would’ve been a great experience for him to spend quality time with his pap, not to mention the learning value.  But I guess Kyle’s priorities are not with us at this time.  So it was just dad and myself, the dynamic duo.

For the most part the erection of the structure went smoothly, no major incidences and no injuries, always a plus.  Dad had it in his head before starting the project that it could be completed in a single day.  Really?  That’s what he said, but dad didn’t take into consideration his age and endurance, or lack there of.  When we worked on the building, it was only for a few hours at a clip, not from morning till night like I would have preferred.  No biggie, it simply took us a few days to finish as opposed to a single day.

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The turkey coop floor. 8′ x 10′ building. 4/11/15

Kyle did help with the roof.  It took some coaxing to get him off his phone and off the couch, and let’s not discuss the argument about wearing a shirt and shoes.  Once he surrounded himself in the construction materials, with a hammer in hand, and instructions given, Kyle became genuinely enthused.  Truly!  He even got up on the ladder to nail in a few boards.  Reluctantly, I might I add, he climbed onto the roof and helped me nail a few boards in place so we had a small platform to work from.  He was a little weak at the knees being up high, only about eight feet from the ground, but he braved his environment.  Granted, it was a new experience for Kyle, for he’s never done anything like this before.  Regardless, Kyle overcame his uneasiness and helped me hammer the boards until it started raining.

Before the rain hit, I stopped production to measure the void in the roof, to know exactly how much was needed to complete the area.  I measured about forty-seven inches (nearly four feet).  I handed Kyle a pencil, hinting to write that number down and to start subtracting till we had a pile of boards to fill the gap.  I measured the boards on the ground to ensure the length was appropriate, about twelve feet long, before spouting out widths for Kyle to subtract.  At first, Kyle gave me an inquisitive look and then starred at the pencil in confusion.  If it was me, I would have used the pencil and a board to do my calculations.  I guess that method is too old fashioned for my teenager.  Once Kyle realized what I was trying to accomplish, he enthusiastically pulled out his iPhone and used the calculator function.  Brilliant!  Even though it’s good practice to maintain those basic math skills, but I wasn’t arguing.  I wanted to put this project to rest.

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Dad taking a break after we finished the floor and the corners of the turkey coop. 4/11/15

It’s a guarantee that any story involving Kyle and myself contains a comical aspect or two, especially if you add my dad to the mix.  We’re like the perfect Piper storm.  I can’t do this story justice without addressing Kyle’s working attire.  He did manage to cover his bare chest with a tee shirt.  However, the rest of his outfit wasn’t exactly conducive to construction work, especially on a roof with rough wood.  Instead of wearing his boots, he chose my mom’s winter booties.  No joke!  Why?  If I had to take a guess, it was because they were slip on boots with no laces.  Of course, why should that matter when he was wearing shiny basketball shorts.  I bet his bare knees felt good dragging across the wood boards.  Either way, Kyle helped with enthusiasm and no whining.  That’s a big plus!

Now the true funny, and slightly frustrating part of the adventure.  Once I got a few boards stabilized, I showed Kyle were to nail, to follow the seams to the opposite end.  Not paying attention while I was adding boards and nailing them into place, Kyle was hammering like a made man.  His hammering technique went something like this, a hit to the nail head, then followed by a few misses, to be proceeded by a hit.  This rhythm continued for the duration of his labors.  Although, I did appreciate his efforts, but what I mostly enjoyed was spending constructive time with my nephew.

At one point, Kyle freaked out, “Aunt Heather!  I saw a spark!”  Laughing, I responded, “What do you think happens when metal hits metal?  You must’ve been swinging hard to create sparks!”  Kyle smiled and seemed pleased with himself and continued pounding even harder, that is until dad halted production.

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That’s a wrap! turkey coop construction is completed! Turkeys have a new home. 4/2015

“Look at all the nails sticking out!”  What?  Dad was inside the turkey coop looking up at our handy work.  Before I understood what he was talking about, dad began counting, “One, two, three, FOUR!  FIVE! SIX! SEVEN!  Heather!  There’s SEVEN, EIGHT nails sticking out.  Who’s missing the two by fours?”  It took me a few minutes to realize what he was talking about.  Evidently, the nails weren’t making contact with the rafters, resulting in unsecured boards on the roof and nails sticking out of the ceiling like a torture chamber.  The light bulb suddenly came on as I looked in Kyle’s direction.  My brain was able to put two and two together.  Kyle was working hard, no doubt, however, he wasn’t accomplishing anything.  He started off good, but grew sloppy.  Instead of following the seam and making a straight line with his nails to adhere to the two by fours under the boards, he was simply hammering, sporadically.  What started out as a straight line took a hard right curve to practically end up between two, two by fours.

Almost frustrated, yet finding humor in my little man, I showed him how he strayed.  Dad yelled up to Kyle, “Buddy, if it’s not hard to drive the nail all the way in, then you’re probably not hitting the two by four and you need to move your nail over slightly.”  Kyle’s response, which almost made me fall off the roof laughing, “I thought it was all hard hammering.”  He said those words with complete sincerity.  My little gamer was experience manual labor and physically feeling it.

Did dad really care about the missed nails?  Not in the slightest, he very much enjoyed doing something with Kyle that didn’t involve electronics and his participation as a family member.

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Turkeys have a new home! 4/2015

Once I got Kyle straightened out, pun intended, I heard him comment, “Boy Aunt Heather this is hard work.  I don’t think I’d make a good construction worker.”  Yes, it is hard work but one I’m very thankful that Kyle has the opportunity to experience.  He’s right though, I don’t think construction work is his calling!  At least Kyle’s a realist, like his Aunt Heather.

Not a lot of people know how to begin to build such a structure, let alone could tackle the job.  I hope Kyle learned something from working with us.  That valuable knowledge will be forever engrained in him, like the roots he was born into.

One more funny.  While I was hammering in the floor, I hit and nail and bent it.  Naturally, I continued hamming it into the floor to get it as flush as possible.  That was the only nail I bent during the entire project.  Did you know, dad kept commenting on that one single nail?  Our of nowhere, he’d say, “These turkeys are going to have to be careful not to trip on that nail.” and “I hope our turkeys don’t get snagged on your nail” and “You already put a place for them to roost.”  It was never ending!  But pretty funny.

I’m happy to announce the turkey coop is finished and is still standing.  During construction, I kept teasing dad about his fine craftsmanship (sarcasm) and he kept reminding me that I was the one who measured everything.  To be honest, when we started out, the foundation was perfectly squared and leveled, thanks to yours truly.  But something did go awry during the building process.  It all worked out in the end.   Our eight foot, by ten foot, by eight foot height structure welcomed its new residences about two weeks ago.  To counter act the cold nights, we placed a few heat lamps and straw inside.  The turkeys seemed pretty happy.

Okay, another funny.  While I was pounding nails to build up the walls, dad was showing me how to draw the boards in tight.  He said, “Here, use my hammer, it’s better.”  You know what?  It was better!  It had a good weight and really drove those nails into the wood.  So every time dad asked for HIS hammer, I would hold onto it and point the hammer toward the sky and yell, “The Hammer!”, like I was Thor.  It cracked me up.  Dad…not so much.

While working with dad, he began to reminiscence occasionally, mostly about Ryan.  Personally, I love hearing the stories that I wasn’t aware of or I’ve forgotten.  It feels good to talk about Ryan.  We all miss him terribly.  Dad commented that he built the smoke shed in about a day or two all by himself.  He said, “Ryan wouldn’t help me build it.  He was mad at me for some reason, I don’t remember for what.”  That was so sad, but it’s called life.  It also shows how tight we really are, that dad didn’t remember the argument, only fondly remembers Ryan.  And Ryan would have been the first person in line to help dad out, for those two were buds.

Take my advice to reconnect with the family and do a major project together.  It is really worth the time and energy!

 

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

Paint Nite Fun!

Art, art of any kind, shows that folks are trying.  ~Walter Kirn

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Me & Lisa at Paint Nite in Pittsburgh (Allison Park) at Rocky’s. Great time! Lisa’s painting has so much depth! I love it! 4/10/15

My friend Lisa Zettelmayer, yes the same Lisa from Happy 50th Anniversary, had a great idea to get together for a Paint Nite!  For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of experiencing or even hearing of such an event, they’re seriously so much fun!  I can’t believe that was two weeks ago already!  I’ve been so busy.  With what you may ask?  You’ll find out in the next few blog posts.  In the meantime, I’d like to talk about Paint Nite.

Our event was held at Rocky’s on Route 8 in Allison Park in Pittsburgh.  What exactly is Paint Nite?  Simple, it’s an event whereas you purchase a ticket to paint a specific painting.  Yes, before signing up for the gig, the coordinating artist, along with the painting of choice is listed for review before committing.  These activities are held in multiple locations periodically throughout the year.  Do you have to be an artist?  Absolutely not!  That’s what makes it so much fun.  You get to hang out with friends, kick back a few brews, and listen to Ben, who happened to be our artist extraordinaire two Fridays ago.  His job?  In addition to setting up the brushes, our paints, supplying our aprons, and the canvases, yes they were very nice canvases stretched over wooden frames measuring about nineteen inches wide by sixteen inches height, he also instructed us with the steps to painting our very own masterpiece.  Ben was in essence playing Bob Ross.  He gave step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish the finished piece.  Naturally, when reviewing all the paintings in the room, about forty individuals, everyone maintained the same general theme but with their own artistic touch.  Is this fine art?  No, not in my opinion, just a neat way to introduce the arts and some culture into the lives of everyday people, while getting out and socializing and trying something new.  Personally, I loved it!

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Paint Nite at Rocky’s in Pittsburgh (Allison Park) with Lisa Zettelmayer… she’s smiling in the background. I just started my painting. 4/10/15

Not only has it been a while since I’ve seen Lisa, and it’s nice to catch up, but it was also a pleasure to meet her friends.  However, what I really enjoyed was holding a paintbrush again and being around art.  You know, my art history professor Maureen Vissat, who was an excellent teacher and a wonderful person, once told our class, “Unless you’re involved in the arts, there will be a time when you miss it.”  Paraphrasing her of course, I realize just how true that statement is!  I do miss being around art, and participating in it.  Granted, I do graphic design on the side, but it’s not the same.  I actually long for the interaction between artists and the inspiration floating in the air.  There’s nothing like it.

While we were painting, I had a feeling of déjà vu.  I knew exactly what it was.  It was being among artists, lined up in front of easels, focusing on a single piece, from way back to my days at Seton Hill University, when I had drawing class with Phil Rostek.  Only our subjects consisted of  nudes, or some sort of masterpiece projected on the wall, or a fun center display.  I used a lot, and I mean a lot of charcoal and conte crayon in that class.  Seriously, I looked like I was mining the coal mines every time I left class.  I sported charcoal on my face, cloths, ears, hair, under my nails, neck, you get the idea.

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Paint Nite with Lisa (in the background) at Rocky’s in Pittsburgh (Allison Park). My painting is about halfway done. 4/10/15

What I miss the most is getting my hands dirty in clay and sculpting pottery on the wheel.  Pottery was always a passion of mine, and I do miss that the most.  (After spending a few hours in the clay studio, I wore more of the clay than what was used in all my pieces combined!)

I don’t consider myself an artist, even though I love art, art history, I have a Fine Art Degree, which gave me the opportunity to have a gallery show My Senior Art Exhibit at Seton Hill University – ARTsylum, and admittedly, I do have an artist eye.  Perhaps, if I participated in developing art for the sake of art, then I might be able to classify myself in that manner, maybe.

Prior to the event we met at the Tuscan Inn, a few minutes away, for dinner and wine.  It was truly an enjoyable dinner with a great group of gals, delicious food, and fun conversation.  Maybe too much fun, for we were laughing and bringing the place to life.

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Another progression of my painting from Paint Nite in Pittsburgh, Pa (Allison Park) at Rocky’s. 4/10/15

This trendy paint party, has become a big thing.  I’ve heard of them before, I’ve just never participated.  And you know what?  I’m ready to do it again.  Once I posted my painting to Facebook, a few of my cousins commented that they wanted to join me the next time I go.  That sounds like a plan!  I was told the Latrobe Art Center has them occasionally and the participants are permitted to bring his/her own alcohol, if desired.  I’m in!  Hopefully, I can get a ticket from Groupon, like I did this one.

Now, my next step is to create my Thrill of the Hunt scavenger hunt Events as such a hot topic!  One day, my scavenger  hunts will be the thing to do all over the nation, at least I hope so.  I love adventure!

 

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After a hard night of painting, socializing & having a few brews… this is the result. Paint Nite in Pittsburgh, Pa (Allison Park) 4/10/15

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.  ~Rachel Carson

Coloring-Easter-Eggs-3-26-2005-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Coloring Easter eggs with Aunt Nikki, Kyle, Pappy & me. Kyle mostly dictated what Nicole & I were to do… 3/26/05

Happy spring!  The first day of spring (vernal – Latin for spring, equinox – Latin for equal night) is one of only two days when the sun passes directly over the equator and crosses that celestial equator going from south to north.  The spring and fall equinoxes are the only two times of the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west.  Pretty interesting!

Did you also know Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after spring?  I’m no astronomer, but that’s what I’ve read.  Along those fun facts, the egg is a symbol of fertility in spring, and this time of year is also called Lent or Lenten.

With Easter around the corner, everyone is posting their fun Easter ideas and traditions, mostly on Pinterest.  I’ve read about a variety of Easter basket items, and fun activities, and so on and so forth.  These innovative suggestions got me thinking of different ways to enhance our own typical Easter traditions.

Naturally, my mind turns everything into a scavenger hunt!  Yes, incorporating the standard Easter egg hunt with a scavenger hunt!  Why not?  Actually, I wish the idea crossed my mind when Kyle was younger.  Adding another layer to the typical Easter egg hunt would’ve been the perfect challenge for my little man.  He would’ve loved the extra effort on my part, and I most certainly would’ve loved to create something unique for his Easter experience !  What fun!

When I was little, our family tradition was for the “Easter Bunny” a.k.a. mom, to hide our dyed eggs around the house.  The more I think about it, that was risky in the event we missed an egg and it remained hidden, especially with the summer heat fast approaching.  That could’ve been lethal!  I’m pretty sure mom counted the eggs to ensure none were overlooked.  Although, that would’ve made for an interesting story about a rotten Easter egg, but no such luck.

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Me, Nicole & Ryan Easter morning before church. 5/1981

With Kyle, we added another level of excitement by stuffing colorful plastic eggs with quarters and candy, and sometimes Matchbox cars in the larger eggs.  He loved each of those equally.  When the weather wasn’t too shabby, we’d hide the eggs in my parent’s orchard in the backyard.  Early Easter morning, I’m talking about 4:00 am or so, Kyle would attempt to wake everyone for his Easter morning adventure.  No one would budge, except leave it to good old Aunt Heather to give in to my little bundle of enthusiasm.  I’ll admit, it wasn’t too difficult to get up early, since I was like a kid myself, excited for Kyle to find the eggs mom and I hid the night before.

Together, Kyle and I would pull on our rubber boots, still in our pajamas (Actually, I stand corrected, I was in my pjs, while I had to make Kyle dress in some sort of pant, usually sweatpants and a t-shirt.  I was lucky if I got him to wear a coat.) and venture into the early morning hours to run around the yard looking for plastic eggs with flashlights in hand.  That was always fun, watching Kyle dart from one tree to another, looking high and low.  When the weather didn’t cooperate, we’d hide the eggs in the house, not exactly ideal but it worked.

So, back to my idea.  How does an Easter egg scavenger hunt work?  Simple.  Create a map or a serious of riddles and clues to uncover the hidden Easter eggs.  It can even be as detailed or as simple as desired, as per the age range of the participants.  One idea is to give a single clue to one egg, which contains another clue to the next, and so on and so forth.  If I was developing the Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt, I’d add scholastic questions to really challenge the child and reinforce his or her school subjects.  I’d also add religious questions to reinforce the true meaning behind Easter.  And if I’m designing the scavenger hunt in the typical Thrill of the Hunt fashion, I’d add online challenges for the child to take pictures and video along the scavenger hunt adventure.  The entire family could join in on the fun for a family fun good time!  This scavenger hunt doesn’t necessarily have to be targeted to young children (I’m thinking 4+), but could be developed for pre-teens and teenagers alike.  That’s one way to include everyone on an Easter Egg Hunt Scavenger Hunt!  This can be accomplished inside or out, or both.

Thrill of the Hunt offers many different types of themed scavenger hunts.  Check them out at (www.ThrillScavengerHunt.com).

Think Team Building … Think Scavenger Hunts
Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt
WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy in a Day
Scavenger Hunt – Getting Our Start At Seton Hill University & Continuing

Now time to promote Thrill of the Hunt.  If you’re interested in a unique custom scavenger hunt or just want to discuss the possibilities, email me at Game@ThrillScavengerHunt.com, Heather@AuntHeather.com or fill out the form on our Contact Us page for a free quote.  We’ll get back to you within 24-business hours. I promise!

Please note, Thrill of the Hunt will be hosting our first ever Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, Virginia on Saturday, May 30, 2015.  We’re also hosting our annual Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunts in local cities including Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Annapolis, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and New Hope, Pennsylvania.  Tickets are on sale now, but are limited.  We’re still accepting local businesses to be added to the actual scavenger hunt to increase foot traffic to these locations.

Thrill of the Hunt is in the planning stages for our Singles Scavenger Hunt in Virginia.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Speaking of different areas, we are always open to hearing suggestions on scavenger hunt themes and hometowns to bring our events.  Please Suggest An Event on our website, or email Game@ThrillScavengerHunt.com.  I seriously want to hear from you!

Please make sure you’re following the hunt on our social sites. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, always using #ThrillofHunt

Remember, everyone needs to … Experience the Game!

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

Don’t Judge, Everyone Has Scars – Part 2

The past beats inside me like a second heart.  ~John Banville

Pap-Ryan-on-Front-Porch-c.-1979-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan & his beloved pap sitting on Pap’s porch on the ridge. Pap only had one prosthetic leg at this point. (left) c. 1979

Previously, I talked about not judging a situation and forgiving those that do.  Everyone Has Scars, Don’t Judge Part 1  Again, easier said than done.  I know.  What’s really upsetting though, or even worse in my opinion, are those that believe they don’t judge or judge others for judging.  Yikes!  Come on.  No one’s perfect.  NO ONE!  I do try to avoid such actions in general, but it’s something I need to work on too, for I’m not perfect.  It’s an ugly human behavior that needs to be addressed to be avoided and corrected.

I don’t mean to bring a heavy topic on such a beautiful Thursday, although slightly chilly, but perhaps this will get everyone thinking differently this weekend and change behaviors for the better.  In fact, I was so inspired by a friend of mine who commented on my previous post that I wanted to share it.

“Instead of judging, wouldn’t it be nice if people offered up a smile?  Or to help in little ways?”

YES!  Excellent ideas!  Since we’re in the lenten season, a time of penance and reflectance, I think this might be a step in the right direction to being a better person.  I know me personally, I will try to offer up more smiles and lend assistance when needed!  I LOVE THESE IDEAS!

Now time for an example.  Not too long ago, we ran into my third grade teacher at Saint Vincent Church, for Sunday mass.  Kyle had the privilege of meeting one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had!  (Kyle’s met her on a number of occasions but alas he was just a little tyke.)  One that I still respect and appreciate to this day.  (I’ll keep her name anonymous in case she’s not comfortable being on my blog.  I never asked permission.)  Unfortunately, when I reminisce on that part of my life, third grade, I can’t help but remember what happened to Ryan that very year.

The day started before school, early morning.  Ryan was in first grade, Nicole in fifth and I in third, at Sacred Heart School.  I believe it was spring, with the school year coming to an end, hence the reasoning for our hyperactive morning.  We were running around simply being silly.  I believe the situation initiated with Ryan or Nicole locking me out the front door, or threatening to do so.  Why?  Why not.  We were kids enjoying a bit of energy release before heading to school on a pleasant morning.

Ultimately, I had it in my head to retaliate and lock Ryan outside.  I clearly remember mom was on the phone trying to quiet us while she conversed, probably to another PTA mom.  Eventually, I succeeded in locking Ryan on the opposite side of the door as myself.  I was on the inside.  So what does a first grader do who was tricked and forced to the front porch by his older sister?  He knocks on the door with his fists, demanding reentry, of course.  Nicole, yelled at me, naturally taking Ryan’s side.  Please keep in mind, I realize I was not the initial instigator in this situation, but I certainly was guilty of continuing it.  

To add to the taunting, I stood directly in front of the door, which at the time had glass panels running from the top to the base.  Also note, this was an older door, with equally as old glass panes, each measuring about two feet wide by about eight inches height.  While taunting Ryan by waving through the small windows, he continued to pound on the bearer that separated us.  Just before I was actually going to unlock the door and run, it happened.  Something I didn’t anticipate or even considered.  Ryan pounded not on the solid wood door frame, but on a single flimsy glass panel with both hands.  In a single moment, I was faced with glass flying in my direction, and Ryan’s hands protruding through the door. 

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Ryan & Nicole Christmas … look at Ryan’s bony legs! I have no idea what’s in Nicole’s hand, but mom’s on the couch behind Ryan. I must have taken the picture because Ryan & I got her something funny. c. 1990’s

Instinctively, Ryan withdrew his hands, at the same time I looked around making sense of the mess.  My only concern?  The idea of me getting in trouble for the broken window.  Glass was shattered all over the kitchen floor, and the once whole glass panel, was now a voided rectangle with jagged shards of sharp glass protruding from the edges inward.  No one, not even Ryan, had a clue to the extent of the situation.  Not even my sister, who didn’t waste any time yelling in my ear, in stead of evaluating the scene and offering assistance.

Was I injured by the flying glass?  Nope.  Perhaps a scratch on the leg, but nothing to keep me down. Ryan on the other hand was not doing well, except the adrenaline was keeping him from feeling pain.  Either when his hands went through the glass, or upon retracting them, probably both, his wrists scrapped the edges of the sharp shards, slicing them up.  Ouch!  Within minutes I saw blood dripping from the glass.  Eventually my eyes made their way to Ryan and his wrists, were the blood was flowing freely.

My mom, who was still on the phone, had no idea what just happened.  Leave it to my sister to get mom’s attention and in the same process tattle on me.  She reminds me of Kyle!  There was a lot of yelling going on, all from my sister and mom, Ryan and I remained quite.  After reality settled in, Ryan may have shed a few tears, but certainly no whaling.  I’m not sure who mom was talking to but I know they were met with a dead line, when mom realized what happened and simply hung up.

Time went from slow motion as the glass flew, to high speed ending in a lot of blood, in a matter of seconds, matching my heartbeat.  Mom ran straight for Ryan, who stood in shock.  She’s never been a fan of blood, not the ideal candidate to deal with this terrible accident.  To assist with the bleeding and probably to cover up the wounds, mom ran to the bathroom, grabbed a towel and wrapped both wrists in the terrycloth.  Ryan pressed both wrists together against the towel to control the bleeding.  Mom yelled again, yes mom yells when things are fine, but she has more of a knack for yelling, especially in stressful situations.  What did she say?  I have no idea.  Something along the lines that Nicole and I were to go to my cousin Karen’s house down the road.  Our normal routine was to walk to Karen’s and pick up my other cousins, and walk to school as a group.  We did so minus Ryan.

The rest of the day, was a blur.  I really felt bad for my brother, even telling my third grade teacher, yes the one I saw recently in church, about the entire morning.  She was so since and caring, in fact all the teachers heard about the accident by mid-day.  I know I shed a few tears for Ryan, especially as the day unfolded and we heard no word from mom.  Later that day, we either had an assembly in the cafeteria (which also housed our stage) or we were practicing for our spring musical, either way, everyone was gathered in the cafeteria when mom finally arrived with Ryan.  Finally!

He was sporting two wrists wrapped with stark white surgical tape.  I never thought about it at the time, but he did resemble someone who tried to slit his wrists.  The result?  Ryan had to go into immediate surgery to repair the nerve damage to his wrists.  They weren’t sure if he would regain complete feeling in that area again.  However, they seemed certain he would have functionality.  Seriously?  Yes!  All because a couple of kids were screwing around and it was a nice morning?  Unfortunately, yes.

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Chad & Ryan hanging at Grams apartments. c. 1990’s

Eventually, Ryan healed up, sort of.  He was able to use his hands without incidence and hunting or fishing was never an issue.  Great!  However, his wrists told a different story.  For the remainder of his short life, his wrists were permanently decorated with laceration scars, and one wrist had no feeling at all.  How do I know?  Ryan would demonstrate the lack of nerve sensation under the scars by grabbing the skin and twisting it and turning it, without pain!  His nerves on the skin were damaged and never healed.

Over the years, as we got older, I heard some folks ask Ryan about the scars, wondering if he tried to commit suicide and slit his wrists.  Seriously?  YES!  Okay, I’ll admit, I can see that deduction, but totally wrong assumption.  Ryan was always goodhearted about the accusation.  He never got bad, in fact he would give a little chuckle before explaining.  It used to bother me a little, but since Ryan never really gave two figs about what others thought, I didn’t either.  As a well trained circus act, he would demonstrate the lack of nerves in those areas, and give a brief for them.  That always made me wonder, how many others thought Ryan tried slicing his wrists, but never said a word and just assumed.

I know very well no one can control the thoughts of anothers.  And I don’t know which is better, the curious (nosy) person who asks up front, or the one or never brings up his or her thoughts?  Regardless, there’s always at least two explanations for a situation, but the correct one it’s not always the most obvious.  Ryan and I both carried scars from that single morning, only Ryan’s were visible.

Read other entries:

Everyone Has Scars, Don’t Judge Part 1

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

Happy Birthday Aunt Nikki!

The thing about getting older is that you don’t need everything to be possible any more, you just need things to be certain.  ~Monica Ali

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Nicole’s birthday. Our cousin Chad looks like he beat Nicole to the candles.  My pappy is in the background. c. 1975

Nicole is officially in her forties, forty-one to be exact.  What could have possibly happened in a year’s time worth mentioning?  A lot, besides family fun and normal wear and tear.

Let’s discuss Nicole’s midlife crisis called Avery, a.k.a. Acorn, a.k.a. Dobby.  (Dobby is the free elf that worked at Hogwarts from Harry Potter.  Dad made the connection that Avery looks like Dobby.  Kyle and I are in complete agreement with Dad’s assessment, either that or Yoda.)  I won’t even get into Nicole aliments, for there are too many in my opinion.  She’s not a youngster anymore.

When I think of Nicole getting older, the Golden Girls instantly comes to mind.  (Kyle used to watch that show with us until Dad commented that he didn’t like it.  Ever since then, Kyle “claims” he hates the Golden Girls and won’t watch it.  However, I’ve caught him giggling at the old ladies a time or two.)  Especially the episode when Dorothy had a mysterious illness and the doctor thought it was in Dorothy’s head.  Her mother, Sofia came to her rescue by commenting …

My daughter may be no spring chicken, and her jaw might crack when she chews! And she may have noticeable trouble digesting raw vegetables! …

That’s Nicole!  There’s no denying how very different we are in many, many, many ways, but we’re both big fans of the Golden Girls, even to this day.  I thought the quote was very fitting and appropriate.

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Aunt Carol & Uncle Denny, Nicole’s godparents. Nicole’s First Holy Communion at Sacred Heart. c.1981

I know there will be a time when we’ll live together in mom and dad’s house, sitting on our rocking chairs, on the front porch, bickering as two old ladies.  Well, I’ll be in my mid-youth because I’ll always be able to do laps around Nicole, while she’ll be ancient.  Kyle will reluctantly visit his two old crazy aunts who love him more than anything.  Just don’t expect me to change Nicole’s clothes or wipe her butt.  It will NEVER happen!  I nominate Kyle!

The best part about Nicole’s birthday is the fact that I’ll always be younger than her.  And if you count my lack of maturity and my hyperactive nature, I’m decades younger still.

Nicole has accomplished so much thus far, and still has so many more adventures ahead of her.  Perhaps a bucket list is in order, after all she’s at that ripe old age.

Happy Birthday Nicole!

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Just for the fun of it… check out the comparison between Avery & Dobby… remarkable!  This is hilarious!

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

Don’t Judge, Everyone Has Scars – Part 1

Wounds turn into scars and scars make you tough.  ~Aisha Tyler

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Kyle’s 5th Birthday, party at SeaBase in Greensburg. He had a blast! 7/2005

Everyone knows the old saying, “Don’t judge a book …”  Even though it’s true, sometimes it’s hard not to make our own assumptions.  I know me personally, I’ve been on the receiving end of judgement, and even though I’d like to think I’m not a judgmental person, I’m sure I’m equally as guilty.  I don’t hold grudges but sometimes stories need to be told to learn from them.

Like what?  When Kyle was a baby, even until present day, I’ve had strangers give me stares and accusatory looks, assuming I’m a single parent.  Yes!  All true, no exaggeration.  I noticed, but never gave it much thought, nor did I hold it against anyone.  Why waste energy worrying over something that didn’t matter?  Also, why dwell on the negative?  Not worth it at all.  In fact, I tried to look at my situation from the opposing point-of-view.

Let me give a single example and set the stage.  At the time, I was a young single gal, who looked even younger still, sporting a five month old baby in a papoose, walking around the mall like an unemployed mall rat.  The reality was, I was about twenty-five years old, working two jobs, in college finishing up my marketing degree, and taking care of my nephew because his dad, my brother, recently passed away about two months prior.  Reality verses assumption, big difference!

Once, this very inaccurate judgement happened while at SeaBase, in Greensburg.  SeaBase is a local indoor child’s play area, where the youngsters run around, play on climbing walls, jump among padded floors and walls, and take a swing at goofy golf, that sort thing.  We actually held Kyle’s fifth birthday there.  During this particular period in my life, I was working a lot, and consequently I was always completely exhausted.  Plus, I was back in college working on my fine art’s degree in graphic design.  Did I mention, I was also taking care of my wonderful nephew too?  On one particular day, I wanted to do something fun with Kyle, as my dad would say, “To get the stink blowed off him.” and let him get out and have fun.  Kyle was about two years old and needed to socialize, and do something different to break up his repetitive day.  Seabase.

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Casey, Kyle’s godfather & me, Kyle’s godmother at his Baptism at Sacred Heart Church, the day prior we buried Ryan. 10/28/01

I remember the situation perfectly.  It was a rainy cold mid-day, during the week, hence why I chose an indoor activity.  There were no words to express just how drained I truly was, and the rhythm of the rainfall didn’t help my cause.  Why did I go?  I knew Kyle needed to get out, he really did.  He needed to stretch his legs and run around and burn off some energy, something of a luxury for him.  If I didn’t step up, then he would have missed out.  More importantly, I was long overdue to spend some quality time with my little man and give him my utmost attention.  You know, instead of hanging with him while multitasking.

While we were playing in a pit full of colorful plastic balls, I started to doze off.  Yikes!  I couldn’t help myself.  Not to mention, my appearance was a bit rough, looking like I just rolled out of bed.  Once I was able to pinch myself hard enough to keep my eyelids from drooping, something caught my eye and I saw things clearly.  Please note, this wasn’t that long after Ryan’s passing, which still felt like it just happened, much like it does presently.  So yes, I’m sure depression played a big roll for my lack of energy, and unconcern for my attire and overall physical appearance.  I didn’t care, my only concern was Kyle’s happiness.

What happened?  Well, first let ME pass judgement.  I was in close proximity to a few stay at home moms, who no doubt didn’t have to work and were able to get a good nights rest to really participate and enjoy their children.  Yeah, those women actually gave me glares.  Granted, they never did say a word to me, but it was evident in their caddy whispers and stares in my direction what they were saying.  Again, I’m sure I looked a lot younger than I was, and I know I appeared as unemployed, and I’m absolutely positive I seemed like a neglectful parent, trying to catch a few zzz’s in the plastic balls with a small child at my side graving for my attention.  Regardless, the situation wasn’t as it appeared.

Even though my scars were not visible, they were clearly there.  Did those unaware individuals bother me?  Not really, the only thing that aggravated me was my lack of energy for Kyle.  As long as Kyle never felt the passive aggressive judging demeanor of others, I never gave it a second thought until now.

Being on the receiving end of judgement, I can see how this type of unspoken treatment could effect someone, especially being in a delicate state like I was.  But again, I never let it get to me.  Also at the time, we were dealing with Kyle’s medical issues, alarmingly his ears (ear infections) and bouts of pneumonia, croup, sinus infections etc.  That’s the main reason I had to get Kyle out that very day.  Regardless of my own fatigue, Kyle wasn’t sick and I wanted him to take advantage of his health and share in his happiness.

I could go on, but I won’t, there’s no point.  Plus, I’m sure there were many more instances that I didn’t even catch.  I’d like to think someone saw me, and instead of making assumptions for my situation, they said a prayer for me instead, or more importantly for Kyle.

What made me think of this?  I passed SeaBase the other day and it just came to me.  I had a lot of great memories there, mostly when I was energized and could hang with Kyle.  However, it only takes one time, and that one in particular, I felt horrible for not giving Kyle my fullest energy potential and my undivided attention (actually any attention).

I know Kyle never remembered and if he did, he probably could care less, but I do.  I love my buddy!

So let that be a lesson, everyone is fighting their own battles, don’t judge.

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

Simply Silence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Fiber One Memories

In a way, looking back, it seemed a long, long time since she had been eighteen, but in another way her memories were so clear and vivid that it seemed like yesterday.  ~Helen Hooven Santmyer

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Planinsek Fishing Derby. Kyle hanging with is pap, probably tying another hook that he yanked off. I’m in the background talking to Ryan’s friend Jesse Planinsek & his dad, Fred. 5/10/14

I’m not sure what made me think of this story, but here it is.  I was probably rehashing recent events involving Kyle, and it came to me.

Regardless, a few years ago, I recalled Kyle’s first Fiber One experience.  Fiber One Discovery  Yes, that single moment in history, which changed Kyle’s life forever, and started his short term obsession with the quasi healthy snack bar.  True Story!  Kyle LOVED those General Mills Fiber One bars, not to be confused with the Kellogg’s Fiber Plus bars.  Branding the Next Generation  He tried both, only because I wasn’t paying attention when making my selection.  After sampling each and making very valid comparisons, Kyle proudly announced that he preferred the first rather than the later.  He spoke of those Fiber One bars fondly and often, with an almost reverence.   From that accidental chance in history, Kyle had a favorite snack.  It only increased in popularity, when he found out that the product line expanded to include Pop Tarts.  Love at first bite.  This was such a hot topic, it became a big joke among family and friends, Kyle and his fiber passion.  How could it not?

In recent times, Kyle hasn’t really requested those trusty fiber snacks.  Perhaps, they did a number on him, and the number I’m referring to is TWO (pun totally intended).  Maybe it’s because I haven’t purchased the Fiber One bars for him, or he wasn’t exposed to the brand every time we ran through the grocery store (my money is on Kyle paying too much attention to his video games and not his surroundings) and it’s now become a thing of the past.  No clue.  Unbeknownst to me, we would come full circle with his fiber talk.

About two weekends ago, we found ourselves back in WalMart grabbing a few grocery items.  Yes, back to where it all began, about six years later!  Again, normally, I don’t shop at that constantly crowded, patience required store, especially in the middle of the day, at the height of craziness, but there I was, with Kyle at my side.  While rushing past the isles, we were halted by a sight in the near distance, no more than four feet from us.  Equipped with bright lights, and a familiarity to stop the heart and cause an uncontrollable smile to surface, was a vision of the past.  Almost dreamlike, the way it flooded me with memories, stood the Fiber One sample cart!

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Casey, Kyle & me in a cave while visiting Casey in West Virginia for a snowboarding trip. I know we brought Fiber One bars to snack on! c. 2007

Immediately, the sign caught my eyes, and my mind recalled conversations upon conversations of my little man talking about fiber and the Fiber One bars, way before becoming a teenager.  I know what made me put on the breaks, but I thought Kyle was simply following my lead, for he too stopped.  Instinctively, I turned toward Kyle, ready to make a comment and see if he remembered his Fiber One infatuation, when he did the same, giving me this expression to steal my words.  His look said,  “The Fiber One display!”  He didn’t need to say a word, for we had a universal understanding between us.  After the initial shock, we did a double take toward the display, watching the worker for only seconds that seemed like an hour, while she prepared her samples for a busy Saturday.  Our eyes paused momentarily, lost in the past, before we looked back at each other and busted out laughing.  Kyle did remember his love of Fiber One!

I was cracking up!  I don’t know why Kyle’s realization of his past love meant something to me, probably because it was a memory that began with the two of us.  Then, Kyle flashed me that ornery grin, pointed, and said, “Hey Aunt Heather!”  Too funny!  All I could muster was, “Yes buddy, I see.”  He never did ask me for a sample, or if we could buy a box.  I don’t know if he wasn’t hungry, because usually that’s when all the snack foods seem to jump into the cart, even the little red plastic basket hanging from my arm, or I was moving so fast, Kyle thought we’d wreck if he’d speak up.  Looking back on it now, I should have grabbed a box for old time sake.  That would have made his day, but as usual I was in a hurry.

It may seem silly, but it was one of those precious, although a little odd, moments that can never be planned.  A funny memory that brought with it many, many humorous stories and conversations about all things fiber.  Kyle is the coolest ever!

 

 

 

 

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

Our Avatar Adventure

All the world’s a stage we’re going through.  ~Lorrie Moore

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A book I purchased for Kyle, Avatar 3-D, includes a sleeve, hardback book with images & 3D glasses. c. 2011

While writing TAKEN by Movies, I was reminded of the time I took Kyle to see Avatar.  Another day at the movies in December 2009, January 2010.  A day I had to defend my actions to a little tyke.

It was a Saturday, late morning, and it was raining none stop.  It started the day prior, and continued into the next, without a sign of letting up.  It was a typical, dreary, foggy, rainy, dark, cold Western Pennsylvanian day.  The kind that makes a person want to curl up on the couch with a blanket, in front of a roaring fire, and read a book or watch a movie.  If it was a little colder, we could’ve played in snow, but alas no such luck.  So going anywhere was a brave move, and forget about playing outside.  Kyle and I watched some television during the morning hours, and we played with Thomas the Tank Engine and his Matchbox cars.  However, the day was dragging along without the sign of promising fun.

Kyle came to me and said, “Aunt Heather (I believe I was Aunt Heather at that point, but I could have still been Aiya) I have an idea!”  He had such excitement in his eyes!  Kyle always did beat around the bush when suggestion anything, but his ideas were usually really good.  He continued, “Since it’s a rainy day, and we can’t go out, and you said during rainy days, it’s a good time to go to the movies.  Let’s see a movie!”

First, I was cracking up, because that kid never forgets ANYTHING!  I do remember saying that very thing, almost word for word.  Rainy days are perfect for staying inside and watching a movie!  I must admit that was a great idea, and I told him so!  We jumped on the computer, and I looked up the list of movies playing and showtimes.  Naturally, in addition to the movie titles, advertisements with the cover of the movies appeared in bright colors, as well as an option to watch the trailer.  Kyle, having a keen eye, was stopped at the image of Avatar.  He also pointed out the button to watch the trailer, which we did.  Okay, I’m hooked.  Even though I was interested in that movie prior to this.

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A page out of the Avatar book. There are layered images for the 3D effect. c. 2011

For a change of pace, I decided to take Kyle to Lowe’s theater in Pittsburgh’s Waterfront.  They were playing Avatar in 3D!  This would be Kyle’s very first 3D movie.  I was excited for him.  Since it was going to take us about an hour, just to get to the theater, plus parking, getting in line, and finding our seat before the movie began, we had to leave straight away!

It was a miserable rainy ride, but the idea of seeing Avatar, a movie we really wanted to see, and in 3D, kept us both focused.  The theater was packed!  Kyle commented that perhaps others had the same rainy day idea.  I concur!  We stood in a long line within the velvet rope area.  When we hit the midpoint in line, I looked at the time to realize our movie was about to being.  Still, no worries, I knew they would play a half an hour of previews, I thought we were still good.  I thought.

During this time, Kyle thinking ahead, suggested that he go and get us popcorn and water while I waited in line, to keep things moving along.  I must admit, that was another great idea, however a scary one.  Kyle was only eight years old.  Yes, I trusted he would not go off with strangers, yet he was young enough to have that decision taken from him.  Reluctantly, I gave him money and instructed him to go to the one counter, where I was able to watch him from my position, and not stray away.  He did as instructed.

Just as I got to the ticket counter, still craning my neck to watch Kyle, I noticed he too was done and headed back.  I asked for two tickets, for the 6:00 pm or 6:30 pm showing (I can’t remember the time).  Sadly, she informed me it was sold out, and the next showing was around 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm (Again, I can’t remember the exact time, only that is was too late).  They didn’t even have an opening for the non 3D movie!  Not wanting Kyle to wait that long to see a show, and then have him try and stay awake while watching, I asked my big screen buddy if he wanted to see another movie.  Naturally, there wasn’t a movie open, at least not appropriate for him, or one he wanted to see.  Plus, he insisted on Avatar.

Okay, okay, I purchased two tickets to the later showing.  I had a plan!

With popcorn and water in hand, Kyle and I made a beeline for the Avatar theater, the earlier showing that just begun.  I handed the ticket person our receipts and entered.  Yes, I know what I did. I entered the wrong theater according to our tickets, but I wasn’t’ going to wait that long to see a movie, especially with a little tyke, and being an hour away from home.

Upon entering the theater, Kyle looked at me with worry in his eyes and said, “Aunt Heather, this isn’t our movie, we’re in the later one!”  O, no I was breaking the rules.  Yes, I kind of was and I didn’t care.  I told Kyle my reasoning and I also added, “There are always empty seats, and I’m willing to stand or sit on the steps to watch the movie, making way for those who purchased tickets for this showing.”  I also told Kyle that I was aware of my wrong doing, and if we got in trouble and got kicked out, and I lost out on the movie, that was a price I was willing to pay.

Avatar-Book-opened-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Avatar book opened showing the beautifully colored images, & sleeve with 3D glasses. c. 2011

Kyle was stressed over my actions and was torn, he wanted to see the movie, and he didn’t want to call me out on our criminal activity, especially since he was now my accomplice, yet didn’t like breaking the rules.  He reluctantly agreed and followed me in.

The previews were almost done.  At that point I figured the general public was seated.  I spotted a couple of seats close to the front, not my favorite seat, but I had no right to be picky.   I grabbed them, again if we were told to leave I would have without incidence, or if someone didn’t have a seat, I would have immediately offered mine.  Neither happened, and besides, we only needed one seat, Kyle continued to sit in my lap, especially when the action consumed the big screen.

Before the movie started, we got cozy, started munching on our popcorn.  It was actually perfect timing.  At the time, Kyle was wearing glasses.  He couldn’t make up his mind, if he wanted to wear his 3D glasses over his glasses, or watch the movie without his glasses, and just wear the 3D glasses.  I never thought of such an issue, me never wearing glasses.  Eventually, Kyle opted to watch the movie wearing his 3D glasses over his glasses.  (He was instructed by the eye doctor to wear his glasses when he watches television or for reading.  Kyle could not have handled breaking two rules in one night!)  It looked a bit awkward, but he managed.

About mid movie, Kyle leaned into me and said, “Aunt Heather, I feel a little dizzy.”  The 3D glasses made the kid seasick!  Seriously?  Yes, and I couldn’t resist chuckling to myself.  I too was a little off balance, but I think it was because we were so close to the screen.  Eventually, Kyle took his red rimmed 3D glasses off, to never wear them again.  In fact, to this day, he prefers NOT to watch a movie in 3D.  (Partially because he hates to layer up the glasses, not that I blame him, and partially because it gives him a headache.)

Well, the movie was a success, and by the time it ended, it was bedtime for us both.  We left rainy Pittsburgh to arrive in rainy Latrobe.  Loving all things Kyle, my parents wanted to see our little man and hear about our movie adventure.

Kyle was all smiles when we walked into the living room.  (That was mostly for the excitement of seeing my parents, which he didn’t see all day)

The story that Kyle told them, had me flabbergasted.  He didn’t focus on the movie, but instead on my quasi illegal activity.  He told a story of how we sneaked into the theater, leaving out that I did indeed paid.  He continued to inform my parents, the theater was full, yet we grabbed two seats.  Correction, we grabbed the seats no one was sitting in.  He also stated that he went off by himself to get our popcorn and water, again leaving out that I had my eyes on him the entire time.  Boy, his story made me out to be a thief and bad parent!  His story was quite colorful and full of adventure.  I guess Kyle has my talent for storytelling.  I didn’t mind, until mom brought it to my attention that he may tell others his story.  I really didn’t want anyone to think I set the example for a kid by sneaking into movie theaters, or letting an eight year old run wild in a busy public place.  I did have to correct him, before he continued to tell my parents about the movie.

Regardless of the rain and a few roadblocks, I had a great time, as did Kyle!

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

TAKEN by Movies

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.  ~Walt Disney
Kyle-all-smiles-7-28-10 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle all smiles in celebration of his birthday! Mr. 9 yr old. 7/28/10

This past weekend, Nicole, Kyle and myself went to the movies.  The movie of choice?  TAKEN 3.  Was it good?  Being a Liam Neeson fan, in my eyes, he could never do no wrong.  But seriously, it was a good movie!

Spoiler alert!  At the end of the movie, while Liam Neeson was fighting the bad guy in a shootout, the vilian was running around in his underwear.  Yep, his “tighty whities” (briefs).  Kyle was sitting beside me cracking up, knowing I would never be caught running around anywhere, in my undergarments.  Please note, Kyle is not shy about sitting around the house in his underwear, not in the slightest.  In fact, that’s his preference.  During this fight scene, yes a fight scene with a man in his underwear, I kept saying, “I can’t believe he’s in his underwear, in the middle of a shootout!”  Kyle was cracking up!  I commented, “I would never be caught dead (pun intended) running around in my underwear.”  Kyle’s response?  “But if you’re already dead, who cares?”  Too funny!  “Yeah, I’d still want someone to cover me up!”  Kyle thought that was such a funny response, he was giggling the entire way up until the end.  

We had dinner at the movie theater, which serves sandwiches and such.  Kyle’s stable?  He always eats the Miss Piggy (pulled pork sandwich), plus other items such as a soft pretzel, ice-cream, popcorn etc.  It’s not always a junk food fest, but sometimes that does turn into the case.

On a side note, Kyle continues with this behavior that he won’t eat anything until the movie starts.  I’ve mentioned it time and time again, but it still amazes me.  Especially, on Saturday, when he was truly hungry.  Nope, he would not touch a thing until the movie started.  Can you say Rain Man?

While waiting (not so patiently) for our movie to begin, I was reminded of the first time I took Kyle to the cinema.  Yes, I introduced him to the world of big screen pictures.  How old was he?  He was definitely walking, I’m guessing around three or four years old.  I know, he was a bit young to be attending the movies, but I knew he’d love it, and have a great time.  It’s true, I was worried his attention span would pucker-out mid movie, but then I was prepared to leave if needed.  What movie did we see?  Honestly, I can’t remember.  Originally, I thought it was a Winnie the Pooh movie, but Nicole corrected me saying she took him to that one.  I’m guessing it was The Incredibles, after all, a year later, I made us The Incredibles costumes for Halloween.  It could have been The Polar Express, Shrek, or Finding Nemo.  All great movies, all Kyle’s favorites at the time, and all seen in the theater. 

Kyle & Scooby, camping.  Yes, that's Kyle in his underwear & his Aunt Nikki's flip flops.  What a look! 8/21/10

Kyle & Scooby, camping. Yes, that’s Kyle in his underwear & his Aunt Nikki’s flip flops. What a look! 8/21/10

Whatever movie we saw, I took Kyle to Carmike Cinema 15 in Greensburg.  It’s not a huge theater compared to those in the D.C. Metro area, or even the Lowe’s Theater in Pittsburgh, but nice enough.  Upon entering the doors, Kyle was mesmerized.  We went mid-day on a Saturday, only because it was an ugly day out.  There wasn’t a line, so I ducked under the velvet rope, to get to the ticket window quicker.  What did Mr. Play-it-by-the-rules do?  He walked the entire length of the roped off area.  I waited for him to finish his trek before getting our tickets.  I remember, Kyle stated his age to the young person working behind the window.  Why?  Rules!  He wanted to clarify he was a child.  Again, what a cutie!

Once we walked around the ticket window area, Kyle’s olfactory nerves picked up on the smell of popcorn.  His eyes were wide from the lights and the colorful interior, and his mouth watered from the smell of butter and popcorn and candy.  Did I get him a bag of popcorn?  You bet I did!  I wanted him to have the full movie experience.  And you know, he never waited for the movie to start to dig into the buttery bag.  That has been a recent event as of the last couple of years.

Kyle held my hand while we watched the monitor in the lobby, waiting for our theater to open.  Back then, Kyle was always attached to me by the fingers.  I’m not sure when that era ended, but it wasn’t for many years later.  Thank goodness!

While standing in the lobby, Kyle intently examined his surroundings and took it all in.  I could tell he was a bit overwhelmed, but not in a bad way, just in a “something very new” way.  As we proceeded back the large carpeted hallway, looking for our door, still hand-in-hand, Kyle looked up and simply said, “Umm this is nice, Aiya (Aunt Heather).”  I was cracking up!  Believe it or not, I bet I had a better time watching his facial expressions and listening to his comments, than he did with the movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, still remembering it to this day (except the movie we watched).  On our journey back the hallway, Kyle examined the life size posters and standup advertisements for future and present movies.  He pointed and smiled, especially with recognizable characters.

Upon entering the theater, Kyle’s eyes practically shot out of his head with excitement!  Sporting a huge grin, he pointed and proclaimed, “Loot (look) Aiya (Aunt Heather), loot at that big TV!”  That hooked him!  He was all smiles, and so excited for this new experience.  Little did I know, this single outing would become one of our shared interests, even presently.

Kyle-in-underwear-with-flip-flops-8-21-10 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s favorite look… simply underwear & his Aunt Nikki’s flip flops! Kyle loves cloths (sarcasm) Camping 8/21/10

During most of the movie, Kyle sat in my lap, especially after the lights dimmed to a dark room.  I didn’t mind, it was nice to cuddle with him, and I never missed a reaction.  ALL THE WAY THROUGH the movie, he added his own commentary, talking at full volume, a trait that still holds true today.  I tried to get him to use his “inside voice”, but that was futile during actions scenes.  Kyle also kept asking questions about the movie, while watching it, another trait that holds true today.  Sometimes, he stood up, sometimes he retreated to his own seat or my lap.  It seemed like the musical chairs helped him stay focused.

Can you tell I paid more attention to Kyle, than I did to the showing?  Hence, the reason I truly can’t remember what we saw that day, the one that changed Kyle’s life forever.  (It’s really bothering me!)

Kyle had such a great day!  I equally did as well.  On the way home, we called my sister, who lived in Arizona at the time.  Kyle talked her ear off about his adventure.  I know Nicole couldn’t really make out what he was saying, but she shared in his enthusiasm.

It was after that, that Kyle started to take notice of new movies coming out.  He would request to see certain feature films.  It also didn’t take him long to realize that he was prohibited from watching rated “R” movies.  How do I know?  He would tell me he wasn’t allowed to watch those movies.  My Kyle, always playing it by the rules and never wanting to get in trouble.  Later on, I did take him to see “PG-13” movies before he was  thirteen, but he also knew he was allowed since I was accompanying him.  Kyle is all about the details.  Perhaps, one day, I’ll tell our movie experience with Avatar in the theater.

Together, we’ve seen so many movies thus far, I couldn’t even begin to count.  Some were in the theater, and some at the drive-in.  My sister also adopted this form of entertainment, especially on “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun.”  It’s a fun way to spend time together, as long as the picture of choice is age appropriate.

As a kid, I too loved the movies.  However, back then, it was more a luxury item, than a rainy day staple.  The Latrobe movie theater, the very one we take Kyle to, is the same one I went as a kid.  Back then there were other movie theaters at Gee Bees, Greengate Mall, and at Westmoreland mall, but we rarely went up the highway.  Times have changed, but the love of movies has always remained!

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

Santa Took My Bottle!

The reality of what we really are is often times found in the small snips, way down at the bottom of things.  ~Jean Shepherd

Piper-Christmas-with-Santa-Aunt-Heather-Piper-1980

Ryan, me & Nicole with Santa at mom & dad’s house.  On the mantel is mom’s nativity scene from her mother & the same stockings we’ve always had.  12/1980

‘Tis the season for Christmas and Christmas memories!  Reading stories of friends and family reminiscing about Christmases past on Facebook, brings me back to my very own Christmas tragedy.  In all honesty, most of my childhood memories during the holiday season are very positive.  Actually, all of them, except one.  However, this story has stuck with me since I was in my single digits and funny enough, doesn’t take place around the holiday season, but in the dead of summer.  Yes!  Let me explain how it has everything to do with Christmas.

When I was little, I had this purple bottle.  Yes, a baby bottle.  Who got it for me?  No clue.  When did I get it?  No clue.   Do I really remember my bottle?  I do!  That bottle and my “banky” (blanket) were the only two things I cherished most as a kid.  (One day I’ll explain the horror story regarding my blanket)  Sure I had other toys, but for some reason, my memories are always focused on those two items.  Next in line would be my beloved Morticia (cat) and Jill (dog), both very sad stories.  Today, I’ll only explain the bottle, which isn’t a horror story, put a heartbreaking one.

This all started when I was about three or four years old.  Sure, I was probably too old for a bottle, but it’s not like I sucked on it day and night.  In fact, I usually drank out of my sippy cup.  I just really loved carrying around my bottle.  Where was the harm in that?  It wasn’t any different than a plastic doll.  Apparently, according to my mom and gram, I should not have been toting around such a baby item.  That’s where the story really begins.

Kyle-with-Christmas-lights-12-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle helping take down the Christmas lights after the 2013 Christmas. 1/2014

For many years, my pap would dress up as Santa and stop by the house to visit us.  I know there were other people who dressed up as Santa, but this time I know it was pap.  How?  I’ll get to that.

One evening before Christmas, Santa stopped by to pay us a visit, checking in on Nicole, Ryan and myself, as well as my cousins, to see if we’ve been good.  It was awesome, having a real-life Santa in our living-room!  He always sat in the rocking chair, a detail to be used later for solving this riddle.

Well, anyway, we took turns sitting in Santa’s lap, telling him how good we were and what we wanted for Christmas.  You know the standard procedure.   While it was my turn, after rattling off what I wanted, Santa gave me a small gift.  Yeah!  But there was a catch.  With Santa?  Well, not exactly but with my grandma and mom.

Before I left Santa’s lap, gram stopped me and posed a question, “What are you going to give Santa since he gave you a gift?”  I didn’t know what to say.  In the back of  my mind, no one else was giving Santa a gift, nor were they asked, so why was I?  Guess what item was so graciously suggested by my mom and grandma to give Santa?  Yes, MY bottle!  Coincidentally, I was cradling my bottle, as I always did.  I don’t want to say my bottle was forcefully taken from me, but guilt was certainly used by the adult figures to aide them in me forking over the precious item.  Does anyone else smell a set up?

Being a good little girl, at least at Christmas time in the presence of Santa, (no pressure) I reluctantly gave Santa my beloved purple bottle.  He took it and gave me a big smile and a hug to match, thanked me for his “present”, before he tossed it in his sack.  What?  It should never have been tossed anywhere!  That was a priceless gift, at least in my eyes.  Truth be told, I was excited to get something new, but yet I felt bad I made the trade with my bottle like I betrayed an old friend.

Fast forward.  Months passed by and summer arrived, never really thinking about my bottle, in fact I almost forgot about it, ALMOST.  Back then, every summer we took turns going to gram and pap’s house to spend a week.  During one of those weeks, while gram was napping, I decided to play in the basement.  It was an unfinished cellar, divided by the stairs going up to the kitchen and a stone wall.  Usually we never went on that side of the basement, only because there wasn’t anything interesting over there.  It housed gram’s ringer washing machine (the kind that you had to crank the cloths through the rollers to squeeze out the excess water before hanging) and a ton of cloths lines were strung back and forth, to be used in the winter or rainy days.  Along the perimeter of the walls were shelves of canned goods.  I believe there was also a deep freezer in the corner, but not much of anything else.  Well, for no particular reason, I ventured to that side of the cellar to play with my barbies, cars or a toy of sorts.  I’m not sure how long I was in there before something on the shelf, among the jars, caught my eye.  Yes!  My beloved purple bottle!  I jumped up like lighting, and without thinking I gravitated toward the object of my past.  (keep in mind I was only about four or five years old at this point)  Funny enough it wasn’t out of my reach, at least nothing a chair couldn’t solve.  That beautiful purple plastic bottle was in plain sight, like it was absentmindedly placed there.

Aunt-Nikki-Christmas-Eve-1974-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole with Santa at mom & dad’s house. No that’s not my bottle, but looked very similar … foreseeing the future? 12/24/1974

Upon removing the bottle from the shelf and getting back on the concrete floor, I began inspecting the authenticity of what I was seeing, to ensure it wasn’t an imposter.  It was not!  How did I know?  There were scratches on it from years of abuse.  It was in deed my bottle!

At first, I was ready to get gram and wake her, letting her know Santa returned my bottle.  But then it hit me, what was MY bottle doing in gram’s basement after I gave it to Santa?  Yes, even as a young tyke I was thinking this through and I wanted to solve the mystery and get to the truth.

What did I do next?  Believe it or not, I was going to question my gram, but waking her in the middle of a nap was pure suicide.  So I went upstairs and raided my pap’s closet.  Why?  I have no idea, but it seemed like a good place to start, since gram was in her bed in her room and pap was working in the sawmill.

At the very top shelf, again not that far out of my reach with the assistance of a stepping stool, I found a big box.  Believe it or not, I didn’t open it.  That is until I was moving things around haphazardly and the lid popped open.  Instantly, my eyes were drawn to the bright red velvet suit the box was concealing.  A Santa suit!

Then my world came crashing down. (Not me, I was always a climber)  My pap was impersonating Santa Claus!  Truly, it never occurred to me that Santa wasn’t real, not  until my mom dropped that bomb on me years later.  No Santa?!  At Least There’s an Easter Bunny!  I couldn’t believe my pap would do something that cruel to me, ever!  Trying to get my mind around this discovery, flashes of pap sitting in our rocking  chair, his favorite seat, shot through my mind.  I almost started replaying that very tragic Christmas day, and I remembered, it was my gram’s idea to offer up my sacrificial bottle.  Mom was standing by and second the gesture.  It was all planned out!

Ryan-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Christmas-1977

Me & Ryan (background) at Christmas at mom & dad’s. In the background to the left is the toy chest I fell asleep in &  on the right is grandpap Chester’s cedar chest he made. 12/1977

After uncovering the facts, I quickly placed the suite back up in the closet, put the bottle back on the shelf downstairs and went out in the backyard to deal with my own personal dilemma.  I needed a moment of silence, for I was really upset over this conspiracy against me.  I couldn’t believe it!  Funny enough, I never did blame my pap, for he was the greatest!  I knew he would never ever, do anything to upset me or any of the grand kids.  Pap always treated us with love and respect and was an innately good person.  It was my grandma I didn’t trust, eventually the Morticia story adds to my ill feelings toward her, among other situations.  (Again a story to be told another day)  My mind was racing toward my mom, again there is a “banky” story behind her too.  With each of these I don’t remember which came first, but over the years they compiled and resonated in my mind, each bringing a sickening feeling to me, and perhaps a little bit of bitterness.

Did I confront my gram, pap or mom?  No.  Was my dad involved?  At the time, he didn’t seem to be a participant and I excused him from the suspect list.  I simply went outside and spent the rest of the day in the backyard, taking refuge in the barn and exploring the woods behind grams house.  Feral cats ran rampant on the ridge.  As a pastime, I would sit patiently and catch the cats to tame them.  Seriously?  Yes, I did it all the time.  (I have no patience except for cats for some reason)  They were used to me, plus I was quick and fearless, with the help of a very thick towel.

That night I went to bed early, which wasn’t unusual for me.  By the next morning I don’t remember how I felt.  But I do know that I remembered the entire day.  It left a scare on me that ran deep, one I still reflect back on to this day.

Even though that is one isolated story, one the adults were ignorant to for I buried it deep down inside, it still stuck with me.  However, I am blessed, for that is my only Christmas horror story from my childhood.  I could have had it worse, and I know others did.

I hope Kyle only has great Christmas memories, for we’ve gone out of our way to ensure that’s the case.  And if he doesn’t, perhaps he too will write about his tragedies as a therapy session.

Merry Christmas! 

 

 

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