My family woke up Saturday morning with a surprise in the front yard.

Toilet paper - and lots of it - was streamed across the bushes, wound around the scarecrow and pumpkins, and tossed up high into the trees.

It was an impressive showing of the kind of mess that a few rolls of Charmin and a little determination from some teenaged girls could create.

Standing in a ratty bathrobe with a steaming cup of coffee in my front window, I couldn't help but admire the work. The attention to detail. The strength it must have taken to hurl those white rolls so high into the air.

Indeed, this was a masterpiece created by kids with a mission.

Then it hit me.

There had to be an adult behind the gigantic mess that was staring back at me. We live in the country, so I knew the culprits didn't just walk over to do their dirty work. They were driven - driven by someone who knows where we live.

I vowed revenge.

When my kids woke up, we grabbed some trash bags and headed outside to start the clean up effort.

“Look, mom, we found a whole roll they didn't use!” my daughter said.

“Ha!” I said. “We'll keep it and use it later!”

My kids thought I was crazy for keeping a roll of toilet paper that was lying on the ground. But for me, the unused roll was like a little prize, a symbol of the toilet paperers' failure. I knew that roll was meant for a bush and I took strange comfort in knowing that it had somehow gone unused.

Now it was mine.

We still, however, have not been able to get all of the toilet paper off the top of the trees. And Monday's rain didn't help matters.

Now it's cemented to the branches as a daily reminder to get even.

I was a little crabby Tuesday morning when I headed into work. Feeling unusually hungry, a little sluggish and daunted by the amount of work piled on my desk, I decided to run through Starbucks for a little pick-me-up. I ordered the usual - a tall soy latte and low fat blueberry muffin.

When I got to the window to pay, the lady said, “It's already been paid for. The lady ahead of you bought your coffee and muffin.”

I looked up just quick enough to see a dark blue SUV type vehicle pull out of the parking lot and head down Washington. I didn't get a good look at the driver, but thought I saw that she was sporting a short ponytail.

“Do you know who that was?” I asked.

“I don't know and she didn't say if she knew you or not. She just said she wanted to pay for your order. Maybe it's like one of those pay it forward kind of things,” she said.

How nice, I thought. And then my day took a turn for the better.

A sincere “thank you” to my Starbucks Santa.

In more important news, I moved up two whole spots this week in the Guessing the Gridiron standings. I'm elated. Now, (phew!) Mindy Wooley is in last place.

I have to admit, however, that climbing the gridiron ladder is daunting. I'm exhausted. I actually spent part of my Sunday watching and rooting for the Cowboys.


SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.