Living in the Valley of the Apples

They say you never forget where you were the first time you saw a dead rat. Well, actually I don’t think they say that. Actually, I think nobody has ever said that except for me, right now. But. The fact remains, that if you have ever seen one, you will not forget where you were. I had, up until recently, thought that I had escaped the vermin infested days of my Arizona youth. And for good reason! Things were looking up! I live in California! Surely no rodent dare cross into the golden state! Well, my fellow compadres, let me tell you something. If La Jolla (where I used to live) is California’s poster-child for elegance and success and grace, Apple Valley (where I currently live) is the tweaked out step-nephew who frequents the local lock up. In fact, the area I am currently residing in is, quote unquote, on the outskirts of Felony Flats. Yes, you read that right. Felony Flats. And no, I did not make this up. It is regionally known as Felony Flats, I knew it to be Felony Flats when I moved here, and I do believe you can Google FELONY FLATS and it will point you in my very exact direction. (I feel the need to type Felony Flats as many times as possible to reiterate to my dumb-dumb, no-regard-for-my-personal-safety brain from refraining to repeat such a poor life choice in the future. Felony Flats.) The high desert is a place that people traveling through gas and go very quickly, and a place that locals may never depart from. In Apple Valley’s defense, it used to orchestrate a thriving, you guessed it, apple orchard production and was even a metaphorical oasis for movie stars to escape to, from Los Angeles. But then came a very specific apple tree destroying beetle, and gone went the orchards, and with it, the money, and with that, the livelihood of the town. It’s always amazing to me what can bring down a city. Whether it be an insect, the closing of an important business, a lack of quality water, a reputation.. whatever it is, it leaves behind thousands of people with the life changing choice to either adapt, or uproot. They say that the grass is always greener, but in this case and in this particular place, there is no grass. So it honest to goodness must be greener on the other side. That being said, I have the utmost respect for the people that chose to carve out a life in this 110 degree, dry and dusty desert. And I have about 8 more months here, so it is my mission to find the grass, literal and metaphorical, in this tough little town. But, I can tell you where the grass was most certainly NOT. It was not, by golly, in my backyard, in the back corner, where I saw my first rat. It was huge. It was as long as my hand. NOT including the 8 inch tail. It was almost cartoon-ish. It was unsettling. It was borderline scarring. But it was dead. And not IN my house. And my landlord took care of it. So perhaps, there was a little grass after all. It is my goal in life to live in a place where I do not have to deal with rodents on such a regular schedule. It is also my goal in life to make enough money to not have to think twice about paying extra for guacamole. And to have a pet pig. It’s the little things, right?

Well, Keegan has been gone a month. It is incredible to me how relative time is. How some days can take hours and some hours can take weeks. It’s getting easier, in most regards. The hard part is not knowing where he is, or how he is.. it’s the little things I miss the most. Telling him about my day, laughing about nothing and everything, just the security that his presence, even if hours away, brought me. So, I decided I would write a little bit every night and tell him about my day. Last week, I wrote and told him I ate 3 Del Taco Taco’s and a milkshake and then got really sick, because, I ate 3 Del Taco Taco’s and a milkshake. What I really need to do, is get a life. But really, it’s becoming my new normal and that is okay. (Not the taco binging, I now know my limit is 2 Del Taco Taco’s and a mini shake, just clarifying.) I know that we are going to have a deeper level of trust and understanding and appreciation from this separation that I am not sure can come from anything other than prolonged distance and a lack of communication. The thing that I keep telling myself, is that he is coming back.. and we will look back on this and be so proud of ourselves for conquering this deployment. I know that this time in the desert for me, is going to be a time for cultivating gratitude. Thankfulness for a family that supports me and loves me and is forever for me, for a steady job that is allowing me to reach my goals and dreams, and for a tough deployment that has put this country and this world in a much better perspective for me.

And on that same note, or similar note, I have found one of the keys to happiness. At least in my life. My grandma always has said that life is a roller coaster, full of highs and lows and everything in between. And you don’t appreciate the highs without the lows. And whenever she would say that, I would always think, “Uhhh, I think I can appreciate the highs all the time. Don’t need no lows for me!” (Apparently my mental train also had no formal education, but that is beside the point.) But guys, she was right. Like she said, we live in the valley. And I don’t think we should fight to live on the mountain top any more than we should fight not to live in the canyons. Being satisfied and fulfilled in the valley means that when you get a mountain top experience, it exceeds any and all expectations. Let me explain.. last weekend, my sister came down to San Diego for a basketball tournament. Now, as already mentioned, I lived in La Jolla for awhile. Absolute paradise. And I truly thought I appreciated it while I was there! The ocean, the flowers, the people, the food! But it’s so easy to get complacent, to keep reaching for better and better and not being satisfied with where you are, and I found myself not being happy. Not being happy with my job, with my lack of friends, with things I took for granted. But then I moved here. And I decided to have a better outlook, because having a positive outlook on life is the only way a person can survive here. So by the time Grace came down, I had acclimated to my new valley. And I was okay with it. BUT. I got to spend a whole day with Grace in San Diego and La Jolla, and let me tell you, I have rarely felt so much joy in my heart. Even on the drive over, watching the terrain change and the temperature drop, my heart began to swell. That day, I marveled at the many vibrant flowers, stood in awe of the mighty sea, tasted tacos (not Del Tacos Taco’s) that rivaled perfection, and truly indulged in what was, by all accounts, the perfect day. I relished the company of my sister and am so thankful for her kind spirit and generous heart. It was one of those days that, even as it’s happening, you know is going to be one of those special, special memories. So, I learned that I would take as many valley days as it takes for one day on the mountain top, for one day of pure, unadulterated joy.

So, all of that being said, did I mention where I slept that night? No? Well, let me tell you a little story. Apple Valley is about a 2.5/3 hour drive to San Diego, and I had fully planned on returning Saturday night after her games, and returning Sunday morning for more. But 5pm rolls around, and Grace and I are having the aforementioned day, and NO WAY IN HELL am I breaking that up to drive back to AppHELL Valley. So, 7pm rolls around and I have been intermittently calling hotels, googling rates and rooms, and going further into a state of denial about my continued failure in finding a vacancy. I drop Grace off at 830 at her hotel, sit in that parking lot, and continue my quest. Nothing. And by nothing I mean NOT a thing (and by that, I mean nothing under $200). But I, armed with my pride and the bank account of a pre-airline pilot, decided in no way am I about to drop that kind of money on a hotel that LOOKS SKETCHY IN THE PICTURES. I almost wanted to call some of these people back and just tell them that even their website pictures of the hotel look sketchy, and I was personally offended they could even CONSIDER charging someone that much money for such a dump. It was robbery! And I was out of luck. (I do need to mention here that my parents offered multiple times to pay for a safe hotel, but dammit I am an adult and I don’t need no help! (There is my uneducated mental voice coming back.. going to have to work on that, I think it is the Idaho coming out in me.)) But then I had a light bulb. I had an air mattress, a blanket, AND a pillow all in the back of my Rav4! You know me! Always prepared! (This is untrue, I just happened to work a 15 hour day the previous week and we are allowed to take a nap and I was too stinkin’ lazy to clean out my car.) So, after about 30 minutes of mental dilemma and steeling myself to the idea, I pulled around the hotel complex, it truly was a safe area, and parked in a lit area with lots of nice looking cars with little family stickers on the back. I then put down the back seats and started to fill up the mattress. Well, the pump thankfully is battery operated but MAN was it loud. I didn’t want people to think I was sleeping in my car, so every time somebody came even remotely within hearing distance, I slammed the back door and ran around to the driver’s side. In hindsight, I looked like some type of drug dealer or maybe even a drug consumer. But rather that than hotel-less!!! I eventually got it filled up (with only a couple of parents quickly ushering their children to the other side of the parking lot to maneuver around the cracked out backseat drug dealer, might I add!) I do need to mention, that when I moved from La Jolla to Apple Valley, Keegan helped me pack up my car. And he put items in cracks and crevices I didn’t even know existed, but thanks to him it only took one trip. However, when I was trying to put down my seats, they wouldn’t budge. So I did some investigation and I found, wedged underneath the middle seats, my long lost magic bullet, Tupperware specifically designed for salad with a separate dressing compartment (Thanks, mom) and a fork. And with the front seats now completely full of my flight bag, suitcase, and numerous other oddities, I decided to just leave it in the back with me. So there I was, in the back seat of my car, closing out one of the most perfect days of my life, nestled between a magic bullet, a salad specific container and a fork. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. (ESPECIALLY the $200 those hotel robbers were trying to get out of me.)

Well folks, that’s it for now. I hope all is well with you. Love to all.

Maggie

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Hidden Sacrifices

Hello my friends,

It has been quite awhile since I last wrote. Recently, there have been some events in my life that have caused me to really examine who I want to be as a person, and the type of person I want to become. I enjoy writing, it is a release of sorts to me. So I am going to try and start blogging again, mostly for myself but I hope you get some enjoyment out of it. I want to continue to bring humor into much of what I write, mostly because it keeps me looking at the bright side of life. I look back on my previous posts, and while they bring a smile to my face, I also remember how scared and alone I felt at times. I didn’t write about that, perhaps to try and pretend like I was above all of that, I am not really sure, but going forward, I am going to be as real as I can here. I am going to share my joys, my griefs, my delights. There will be short thoughts, there will be rambles, there will be humor. But mostly, there will be realness. And truth. Thank you for your patience and encouragement, it means the absolute world. And please, if you feel inclined, share your truths with me as well.

About 90 minutes after this picture was taken, it felt like half of my heart was being ripped out of my chest.. I had to say goodbye for quite awhile to the man who had become my other half. But before that, as I was walking around watching all of the pre-deployment festivities take place, I realized something that really shifted my views on this country.

I saw wives clinging to their husbands of less than a year, trying to memorize and re-memorize every feature of their faces, I saw grown men stroke their daughter’s ponytails and tear up as they thought about the months of their lives they were going to miss, I saw late term pregnant mother’s rubbing their stomachs, watching their husbands load up their gear into the bus that was about to take them away, knowing they were going to miss the birth and first few months of their child’s lives.

I saw women who were trying so hard to be brave for their Marines and would only let a tear slip or their chin tremble when he wasn’t looking.

I saw couples getting ready to go through this for the seventh time.

I saw strength and courage and sacrifice that I have never experienced before, I saw what makes this country great. It’s the constant sacrifices of thousands of men and women, children and families who are torn from what they hold most dear to their hearts, so that millions of Americans never have to experience the pain that comes from such separation. Before Keegan, I had always heard about the great service our military does for our country, but until I literally watched hearts breaking right in front of me, and felt my own shatter, I never knew the depth of that sacrifice.

And the thing that really is getting to me, is I still don’t.

These men and women are willing and ready to sacrifice their very lives for people they will never meet. I will never fully be able to fully grasp such an honor, but I will always be so incredibly thankful to them, to all of you, for what you have given up so I can be free.

Thank you, and thank you to the families that stand behind these men and women.

 

Much love to all,

Maggie

My Angel Dog

I think that sometimes in life we are each given a little mini miracle to help us get through our days. Well guess what guys.. I got mine in the form of a Labradoodle named Truman. 

I had been researching and praying and researching and praying some more and then researching just a little bit more for the perfect dog breed. And I thought I had found it in a Xolo.. Otherwise known as a Mexican Hairless dog, and had even found a rescue in Phoenix! He weighed about 7 pounds and had no hair other than a coarse white Mohawk on his bald little head. I was all set, and almost ready to go when I happened to talk to a veterinary student who said something to this effect:

“Uh.. Have you seen the size of the hawks and owls around here?”

Good point. Real, real great point. Seeing my precious little dog flying away in the grasp of a monster owl would traumatize me. For life. He then told me that a Labradoodle would be my best bet and I happened to find one at a poodle rescue in Phoenix .. And the rest is sweet, sweet history. 

Now I know that you will think that I am biased, and maybe I am, but Truman is, by all acounts, an angel sent straight from Heaven. In one day, he learned how to fetch, sit, walk off leash and now can do so much more. He is my constant companion, my confidant, and is quickly becoming one of my fastest friends. He sleeps by the foot of my bed, only barks when someone is at the door, and smiles at me whenever I look at him. Literally. Smiles. Every time. And wags his tail.. You know Thumper the rabbit from Bambi? Well imagine that sound coming from a very long, very strong tail and then you hear what I hear 85% of the day and it sounds like beautiful music to me. 

You know how they say money can’t buy happiness? Well, it bought me Truman .. And that is pretty darn close. 

I’m sure that I will regale you all with the Adventures of Maggie and Truman in the future, but for now, just know that he is a golden, happy, bundle of love and has opened a little place in my heart that I didn’t know was there. 

So. Now back to the mice. Mr. Exterminator did diddly squat to improve  my situation (the mouse situation, that is) and I have caught a total of about 14. He did inform me, however, that mice use their own fece and urine trails to navigate around the house, that they almost always carry parasites that will jump hosts when the original one dies, and that there really wasn’t much he could do about it. Cool bro, thanks for telling. 

Anyway, I had it under control for a couple of weeks and just today we had a bit of a relapse. I put one of those peanut butter scented sticky pads under the sink with a nice crunchy corn chip right smack dab in the middle.. because who can’t resist that? And when I got home today, in the place of the nice crunchy corn chip was an abnormal amount of droppings and an abhorant amount of grey fur. Meaning, I have a half naked-escape artist- potentially parched- mouse running around my house. So that’s cool too. 

And I saw a black and orange striped Gila Monster! And a tarantula that was half bright orange that reared back in its hind legs at me! And a few rattle snakes.. living and dead.. and lizards and jack rabbits and you get the picture. 

The reason I haven’t written much about my flying down here is I haven’t really been doing much if it.. There have been quite a few complications with financial aid and scheduling, but I will still finish by the end of this semester and it will all be okay!

It will be okay because.. of not only Truman, but Chuck and Patty! I have been cooking and sewing and branding and learning everything I can from these amazing people. And guess what? I made an apple pie from scratch almost kind of by myself!! And if you know me and my previous cooking skills, you would know that I used to have a hard time with the cereal and milk ratio.. So this is quite an accomplishment. And I kind of sort of held the front legs of a calf being branded! And I gave a calf a shot! Who am I?! Who AM I!? I’m Jeeaaannn Vvaaall Jjeeaaaannn… Moving on. 

So, in closing, I will tell you about my evening. 

The ranch is about 10 minutes or so from town, which normally is a completely fine amount of time. Except for today.. Today it was a bit too far. I realized as I was pulling out of my driveway that not only was my gas light quite illuminated, but the gauge was extraordinarily close to empty. I loaded up Truman into the back and we headed in to fill up and return some DVDs. As I was leaving the ranch road to turn on to the highway, I saw a border patrol vehicle parked on the side. There wasn’t anybody in it, but I didn’t pay it too much attention. 

When we arrived at the gas station, I reached behind my seat to grab my wallet.. and lo and behold it was nowhere to be found. Actually, it was sitting on my kitchen table.. but that fact didn’t help me much at the time. I realized, with a sinking stomach, that there was a very real chance I was not going to make it home. I called Patty and she said to try and make it back to the ranch and if not, Chuck would come meet me with some gas. Godsends, right?! So on the way home, I just kept praying that I would not run out and be stuck on the side of the highway for awhile. 

As I was doing that, the rolled down windows somehow turned the blanket that Truman sits on in the back seat into a giant tortilla and next thing I know, I turn around and he is completely wrapped up Taco Bell style. All I could see was his cute little nose and thumping tail. Somehow, between the praying and the trying to unwrap my dog, the gas gauge bumped up a little bit.. Seriously.. And I made it home. 
Well, kind of. Remember when I told you about the border control vehicle at the turn in to the ranch? Well, as I turned back on to the dirt road, running on literal vapors.. I saw another vehicle and a couple officers with a lot bigger guns than the one I now pack, and three illegals handcuffed on the ground. 
Yeehaw! It’s all in the “ranch experience” 🙂
Love to all and a very special HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the most amazing, beautiful, funny and best sister I could ever dream of calling mine. 
Happy 16th MPP3 ❤
Love,

Maggie (& Truman)

   

   
    
    
   
    
    
 

  

Snakes and Mice and Everything Nice

My Fellow Friends and Family,

I wish, that just for one blog, one single blog, the main focus would not have to be rodents. Or snakes. Or bugs. But guess what? That is just not the row I am destined to hoe.

A bit of a recap before I jump into the dust devil that is my life.

I had originally planned to live in Bisbee this year, but an amazing opportunity arose and I am now living in my own house on a real, live, Arizona Cattle Ranch! The owners live on the ranch about a mile or so away, and they are the kindest, most amazing, beautiful couple and I am so blessed to know and live by them. Their names are Chuck and Patti; he is retired AirForce Lieutenant Colonel turned rancher and she is retired school teacher, vice superintendent, and reigning best cook in the entire world. And the best part? They include me in their adventurous lives and I get to learn about cooking and sewing and cattle and wildlife, among a plethora of other things.

I live in a beautiful house with a gorgeous view and I absolutely love it. Except for the fact that I am currently undergoing what I can only describe as a raging Mouse-acre. (Like massacre, but with mice. Mouse-acre. Yes, I am fully aware of my pun-niness.)

Warning: If you are overly fond of mice or snakes PLEASE do not continue reading. I have made a promise to myself to make this as PG (maybe PG-13) as possible, but I can only censor so much. You have been warned.

I have never had much experience with mice. I actually, to be honest, have had a mild fondness towards them. I admired Templeton in Charlotte’s Web for his friendship to Wilbur and Charlotte (I know he was a rat. Whatever.) and I kind of thought Stuart Little was neat. And don’t even get me started on my lifelong love of Santa Mouse. However, the only personal experience I have had with rodents of that nature are the rats that my cousin used to own, and they pooped on my head sooooo the old real life track record isn’t great. But for the most part, we have existed in peace. I live my life, they live theirs.. it’s cool.

Until now.

I suppose it all started when I left for summer break and mistakenly left a drawer full of granola bars behind. Now before you think to yourself, “what a stupid, idiotic thing that was to do, you ding bat!” please believe me that I know how stupid stupid stupid that was. For most people, the most negative and reminisce worthy moments of their lives are those such as leaving the Thanksgiving bird out on the table and having a pack of neighborhood dogs come in and eat it. Or breaking the leg shaped lamp on purpose that your husband bought. Or even shooting your eye out. (Yes, I’m alluding to A Christmas Story. I find myself doing odd things such as this on a regular basis ever since moving down here. I think it might be my survival mechanism. That and listening to The Rebel Johnny Yuma on repeat. Johnny Cash for life.)

But for me? It is the image and memory of putting the granola bars in that drawer that haunts me. Night after night. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up, it’s where my mind wanders during the day, it really is just where I am 96% of the time. Because let me tell you. It. Was. A. COLLOSAL. Mistake.

Let me describe to you the types of mice I have encountered in the last week or so and their behaviors.

There was:

Vanishing-Into-Thin-Air-Mouse: This was the first one I saw in my house. It was the day I got back from a fantastic road trip down from Idaho with a great friend. I was loving life and feeling good. And then I saw a gray blur, streaking across my living room floor. It ended up in the corner behind some boxes, and after a fair amount of screaming, jumping up and down, begging for my life and such, I decided that it was time to act. I took a few steps toward it and it darted out to underneath my end table. I quickly, with the help of my friend, built a barricade around the piece of furniture. We never took our eyes off of the table. Not once. I even had a flash light spot light on it. The plan was for her to poke it and I jump on it with a box. Was it a great plan? Ehh. Was it what we could do with what we had? Absolutely. 3..2..1.. INITATE OPERATION TRAP THE MOUSE! And it isn’t there. In fact, it isn’t anywhere. There were no holes on our barricade.. there was no escape. I have since dubbed this one El Chapo and left it at that.

Crazy-Kitchen-Mouse: My friend and I were standing in my kitchen the next day, debating about what to do for the remainder of the time she was here. It was around 12.. in the afternoon. DAYLIGHT. And all of the sudden.. a mouse comes blaring across the kitchen floor.. pedal to the metal.. skidding turns.. the whole 9 yards. I jump back, and stare in shock. Because you know what? Mice are supposed to be timid. And scared. And only active at night. But this little bugger was a rebel and mice etiquette be damned he was going to be out and about on his own terms. And then, with zero warning.. he runs out from underneath the stove towards us! Stops in the middle of the kitchen, sits on his haunches for a few seconds.. STARING at us like the cold blooded killer he is, and then scurried back under the stove. NOT cool Jerry. No bueno.

Crazy-Living-Room-Mouse (related to Crazy-Kitchen-Mouse): I was trying to work out in my living room to a work out DVD.. trying to better myself and my life etc. etc. On the way to the couch where I balance my lap top to work out, I saw a mouse chilling on the kitchen floor. I froze for a minute, much like the many pictures of Bigfoot.. mid stride and all.. and decided that I just could not deal with it at the moment and continued into the living room. And I’ll be darned if not five minutes later that mouse did not come charging across the living room to the couch where the computer was placed. It followed me. It literally.. followed me. I called my parents and they suggested I try to hit it with a broom, so for the next 30 minutes of the work out video, he would dart out on occasion, I would grab my broom and just start swinging. Towards the end.. I wasn’t even really hitting the ground I don’t think. I was just swinging that broom like the crazy person these mice have turned me in to.

Mouse-Who-Licks-Peanut-Butter-Off-Traps: How. The hell. Is this possible? And believe me. I don’t forget to put peanut butter on them. In fact, I smear it and squish it so there is no earthly way that something could get it off the trigger without setting the trap off. And I know I set them right, because in order to re-load the peanut butter, I barely touch them and they about break my toes. This has happened about 5 times now. They somehow get every single morsel of peanut butter off. And then, just to spite me, they leave their nasty little pellet droppings just to say, “Hey, DumbA**, I was here. And I’ll be here again. Just TRY and stop me.” (I know I am making up dialogue for mice. Again, survival mechanism.)

And last but not least..

Mouse-Who-Wandered-On-To-Sticky-Pad-I-Was-Trying-To-Catch-Spiders-With: I can’t talk much about this one.. it was traumatic for everyone involved, more him than me I suppose. I can’t talk about how I disposed of it, how he was still alive when I woke up, how I still have nightmares. I can’t talk about that. But I thought you needed to know he existed.

So I think that is it for now. I have about 15 other stories I could tell, but I don’t think I can type one more word about a mouse and I am sure you do not want to read another one. I have, however, caught 9 so far. And I learned that you should always gather up the dead mice AFTER breakfast, not before. And the exterminator comes tomorrow. So things are looking up! Things are looking up.

I will, however, leave this topic with this thought. I’ve gotten to the point that when I wake up, I almost get this strange excitement in the pit of my stomach to see what I’ve trapped during the night. It is like some twisted Christmas Morning Syndrome over and over again. It must be what Mountain Men feel like when they trap a lion. Or a beaver. Except maybe just a little bit different.

We also have a bit of a snake problem down here. But other than a brief encounter with a snake in my doorway in June, I have not had a personal encounter with one until tonight.

I was driving back from Chuck and Patti’s house. Patti and I cooked chicken all day and she taught me all kinds of amazing tips and tricks and then we made a feast for the 3 of us to eat. And we fed the chickens, watched some TV.. and I was off to my house for the night. It was a great day! I love them so much.

On the way home in the dark, though, I saw a snake in the middle of the dirt road. And let me tell you, I have had it up to my ears in snakes and mice and such, so I thought to myself “I am about to run this son-of-a-gun over!” So I did. And then I got to thinking.. “You know.. I think that snake had black rings around the tail. Crap. I should call Chuck. (Rattle Snakes kill cattle because they bite them on their noses and mouths when they are grazing.. look at all I’m learning!!) Nah.. I just want to go to bed. No I should call Chuck. Okay, I’ll turn around and get a better look at it.” So I did a 16 point turn in the middle of this dirt road and shined my brights at it. I couldn’t get a good look from that angle, so I decided to go back to the other side of the road to get a better view. And you better believe I aimed at him again when I drove back across. So this sucker has been run over twice and is still trying to get across the road. I for sure see the black stripes so I give Chuck a call.. he comes down and confirms it is indeed a Rattle Snake.

I am standing/hanging on my car about 7 yards back because I am a big fat chicken and Chuck goes out with his gun. BANG! BANG! Two shots and he drags the snake into the middle of the road for a better visual. And the snake is not dead. I start cheering Chuck on, because what else can I do? Besides wet myself. Just kidding. Kind of. He then gets a wooden club/ stick from the brush and starts hitting it with that. WHAM! WHAM! WHAAAM! About 7 or 8 times.. and guess what? The snake lives!

“WHOO CHUCK! Goooo Chuck!!!” Look how much help I am!

He takes out his knife and starts to do a number to the little devil with that. He then calls me over to look at “the perfect rattle” it has, because after being shot and beat and stabbed.. you’d think it’d be dead. But all the sudden.. SWISH! It starts to swing! I see the inside of its mouth! I then HAUL myself back to my car and finish wetting myself. Chuck whips out his knife, gives it a few more lickings. The sucker still won’t die.. and then he cuts off its head.

Dead. Gone. RIP. Game Over.

And that was that. But all it took was: Getting ran over twice, getting shot in the head twice .. with a GUN, being pummeled by a club, stabbed repeatedly, and then the removal of its head. And they say cats have 9 lives…

Rereading this little story, I almost started to feel a little bad for the snake but then I thought about what I was actually thinking and that these are cold blooded killers and that better him than me. Because I guarantee it would not have taken all of that to take me out.

So maybe next blog I can tell you a little bit more about my road trip, or school, or normal things like that. But this time? No, this time was all about the mice and the snakes. And with that, I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week 🙂

Love,

Maggie

Mini Blog Numero Uno

Well hello everybody!

I have to apologize for not writing for such a long time. Hopefully that will not happen again. My solution to this is Mini Blogs! They will be shorter, but more frequent. Hooray! However, the good news is that I have had an action packed semester that has involved:

Snow Boarding up near Show Low, AZ: I have never been as sore as I was the next day. Ever. Every single muscle hurt. I fell almost every 30 feet .. on my buttocks, my face, my hands. There were 3 year old children who could barely walk that were passing me. In fact, I was so bad, that my instructor went to drink during the lunch break. For real. I drove somebody to drink. Cheers to that.

Exploring Cliff Dwellings near Silver City, New Mexico: We hiked up to these actual dwellings in the side of a mountain that were massive! Carved into the rock were huge rooms, specifically dedicated to bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, spiritual rooms.. It was amazing and just reinforced my desire to drop everything and go live in a cave somewhere in Africa with a pet javelina and perhaps a peregrine falcon.

Barnstormed New York City with my Grandma: This trip was one of those trips that, while it is happening, you know just how incredible it is. Every moment was magical from the Broadway Plays to visiting the World Trade Museum to the food that was so good I constantly wanted to cry. The best part of the trip, though, was getting to spend so much time and make so many memories with one of the most special, kind, and incredible people in this world- my grandma. The culture, the people, the sounds, the energy, the smells.. it captivated me even more than the first time I went. I cannot wait to go back and hopefully even live there someday.

Learned that snakes can move up to almost 20 km when they want to: I can’t walk to the laundry room anymore without constantly being prepared to run as fast as I can.. tennis shoes everywhere I go. I saw a massive snake that spanned the entire length of the road I was about to drive on, slithering into a ditch, and it was then I decided I was going to buy a handgun and carry a large stick.

Walked the London Bridge (Yes, the real London Bridge): Guess what! They moved the London Bridge to Lake Havasu! And guess what else! I flew there for one of my solo cross countries, used the crew car they have at the airport, drove to the London Bridge, got out, walked across it, got back in the car, got back in my plane and flew back home! It is actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but who cares.. at least it didn’t fall down. PS I am pretty darn lucky to be in aviation.

Biked next to a javelina:  I was biking (haven’t biked this road since, albeit) along the Douglas highway, and I look over to my right, and there is this javelina, maybe about 10 yards away, running alongside me. This continued for a solid 100 yards or so. I have never felt so wild and free! Me, biking as hard as I can to keep up with this sprinting wild pig, side by side, both of us loving the feeling of the wind in our hair/bristles and the smell of camaraderie and adventure. It was a beautiful moment, however looking back I am kind of glad I didn’t get gored.

Experienced the loss of a close friends loved one: I don’t really have much to say about this other than he was one of the strongest, bravest, kindest, most faithful men to ever walk this earth and it was a privilege to know him.

This semester, I have been taking Commercial Ground School, Commercial Flying Class, Multi Engine Ground School Class, and Certified Flight Instructor Ground School Class. This means.. by October I will have my Multi Engine Rating and will also be teaching flying at the college!! Yayyyyyyyy money!

I also, for next semester, have found my dream house. It is high up in a canyon, light blue, surrounded by wilderness.. and a place I cannot wait to start my working life in! (And it has a clothesline.. booyah!)

Also, I would like to say Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms out there.. but specifically mine. Thank you for giving up your life so I can follow my dreams, for working so hard so I never go with out anything, and for being such an amazing role model and woman.. one who so many people look up to and love. Thank you for everything, Momma- See you real soon 🙂

Thank you all for being so supportive and understanding.. can’t wait to come home in a month!!

Love, Maggie

P.S. I will soon be making a picture blog so you can see all of the places I’ve been recently!

Here We Go Again!

Well Hello Everybody!!

I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I know that I did! I got to go home and spend a little under a month with my family and friends. It was a very special time that went way too fast, but I am very grateful for it. I miss everybody very much which also causes me to realize how blessed I am to have such great support. I love you all.

It has been a while since I last wrote. I got extremely busy the last few weeks of school because of studying and then the last thing I wanted to do while I was home was write about the desert (shocking, right?) so I will do a short recap of the last few weeks of the semester and a prediction of things to come!

I officially got my Instrument Rating on December 13th! For those of you who have not had to undergo the terrible, awful, no good last stages of getting any type of aviation license or rating, let me paint you a verbal picture.

FIRST, you spend all semester going over questions for a written test. The overwhelming majority of the information required to know is extremely outdated and not important to current flight. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is notorious for trying to confuse you on the test as well (because 1000+ questions aren’t easy enough to memorize anyway) and have many trick questions. It is a 60 question test and you must get a 70% on or above to pass. Not only is each test $100+, but you need to pass it in order to continue on to the other tests, and I did not have time to fail anything or I would not have gotten my Rating the first semester. And then…

There is an Oral Exam that lasts anywhere from 2-4 hours, on average, where an official examiner traps you in a room and asks you questions, about anything and everything Instrument related (weather, charts, airplane systems, approaches.. everything), straight through for hours and hours. AND THEN. If you pass that, and still are conscious and relatively sane, you go flying for about two hours. In that flight, there are numerous maneuvers and approaches that you must fly almost to perfection. If you are a little bit too high (past the standards), you fail. If you are a little bit too low, or don’t correctly correct for wind etc, you fail. It is an awful thing.

But if you manage to scrape your way through these 3 parts and come out ahead, you are a Instrument Rated pilot. And that I am 🙂

I have some rather concerning news to report, however. Synthia the Spider, from my previous blogs, is missing! In fact, not only is she missing, her big, intricate, terrifying web is completely gone! There is a saying that goes something along the lines of “the only thing worse than seeing a spider, is seeing it.. and then NOT seeing it!” Touche, touche.

As for an update on Lockpaw the mouse.. I have not seen him since before break either! The last sighting was one night as I was walking up the stairs, (same stairs Synthia used to monopolize and Lockpaw and I first met) I was not paying much attention, silly me, and I spotted a blur shooting out behind the trashcan. This time instead of turning around, the little guy continued to gain momentum and I’ll be darned if he didn’t fling himself off of the balcony. I shrieked! Not in terror or disgust, but because my little friend had launched himself to his death. Or so I thought. I frantically started to search for him, perhaps to bury him, I cannot be sure what I was thinking as the fact that I was actively looking for a mouse carcass is a bit unnerving upon reflection anyway. But I could not find him! I literally looked EVERYWHERE. He disappeared! Into thin air. Literally, honestly, straight up, could. not. find. him. So either I was losing my mind, or I saw Santa Mouse right before he teleported to the North Pole! (So either way, I was insane.)

There was also a squirrel in my room. A real, live, squirrely squirrel in my room. I accidentally left my door open a crack as I was going to get a vacuum to take care of the comforter-leaks-equal-three-inches-deep-of-feathers-in-my-room situation, and when I came back, I felt something was not quite right in my room. I look around, and there the little guy is. Staring at me, intertwined with my Lasso. How on this green (brown) earth do you get a squirrel out of your room?! They are incredibly fast and the verb “squirrely” is incredibly aptly named! They fit anywhere and can go through anything. I called my mom, “MOM! There is a squirrel in my room!” After laughing for an amount of time that I thought was a bit too long, she gave me the sage advice to sit outside of my room and leave a trail of nuts to the door. So, not having nuts, I ripped up a cashew protein bar and left a trail Hansel and Gretel would be proud of. After waiting about 15 minutes and seeing no action, I decided to call my Grandpa. He had the idea to get something, like a net, to scoop it out. Which was a great idea, but I had no net. He then suggested poking and corralling it out of my room, which is what I tried next. I untwisted a wire hanger and fashioned it into a loop in case he (I named him Bobby) would run through it. (Just go ahead and call me Maggie Macgyver) So by this time, Bobby was in the far back corner of my room. I almost didn’t see him, because, I kid you not, he found my little group of stuffed animals and was hiding with them! For the next fifteen minutes (Unfortunately for my dear mother, she got to witness all of this via speakerphone. She was quite supportive and motivating, however) I alternated between cooing, because he was so cute, and screaming, because he was coming after me. “Aww Mom he is so cu… AHHHHHHHHHH HE IS RUNNING… ohh look at his cute little face I just want to pick him up and WAHHHHH HE IS GOING TO EAT ME HELP ME I’M GOING TO DIE … bu wook at his widdle paws they are so cuutee…” And so on. and on. Eventually, somebody heard me and came in and chased him for awhile and got him out after jumping on him with a towel! Bobby was quite the little acrobat though, jumping off walls and doing flips and stuff. When he was no longer in my room, I missed him deeply. I felt like we had a bond. My mom said I should keep him as a friend, and I partially wish I would have. But if you truly love something, you’ll let it go. Bye Bobby. (Yes, I know I get too damn attached to the wildlife here.) BOOOHHOOOO 😦

On Monday, AJ and I were trying to go to American Sniper in Sierra Vista (a bigger town about an hour away from Douglas with a more culturally diverse population), a movie that is supposed to be really good, and I have been wanting to see for a long time. We get there, though, and it was completely sold out. Bummed and mildly depressed, I start to turn around, tears already starting to pour out of my eyes (not really), when AJ says, “Hey, why don’t we go to Selma?” And I dejectedly agreed. But what followed was an incredible experience that doesn’t happen to very many people very often. As many of you know, (I did not know, dummy me) that Selma is about Martin Luther King and his march(s) from Selma to Montgomery. What an incredible movie. Go see it. But here is what happened. I went to a movie about Martin Luther King, with an African American friend, in a full theater that was probably 90% African American.. On Martin Luther King Day!!! How amazing is that? There were a lot of older people in the theater who had clearly been subject to the atrocities of racism and all it involved. What an incredible experience to be surrounded by people who have overcome so much on the day that commemorates the man who made it possible. It honestly made me a little bit ashamed to be white, but mostly it made me rethink and recheck my life and make sure I do not treat anyone with discrimination. We are all people, with hopes and dreams and families. It was just a very memorable experience.

On a completely different topic, I am now working on my Commercial License (so I will be able to get paid to fly) and soon my Multi Engine Rating (so I can fly planes with more than one engine). I am flying in Piper Warrior which is a low wing plane and less powerful that the one I flew last semester, but also less expensive! I still have the same great instructor and am looking forward to another adventure filled semester!

I would love to hear from you, thank you for everything 🙂

Magsterz

Flying, Centipedes, and Lock Paw

Hello all!

The temperature changed! Whoo!! So now, instead of it being in the 70’s plus ALL the time.. it is only that hot from 9 am to 9 pm! It then abruptly drops to about 20 degrees and stays that way until 9 am the next morning. And repeat. This is so strange to me. I wake up, go to breakfast bundled up in sweatshirts and sweats and by the time I finish and walk back to my room.. I am drenched in sweat and have to stand in front of my fan for a few minutes before I can function.

Did you know that the centipedes of the south will paralyze you if they bite you? And if immediate attention is not sought, it creates permanent paralysis? Did I mention that I have found three of them since I have been here? One was outside my room.. one was in my instructor’s office.. and one was in my ground school classroom. On my desk. I think the only thing worse than a snake (and a tarantula, obviously.. but I’ve already confronted that fear) is a poisonous bug that looks like a snake with legs. We must move on.

The other day, I was walking up the stairs in the dorms. It is a split level staircase.. about ten steps, a platform, and then the other ten steps. The platform is a treacherous place, and one I do not like to dwell upon because of Synthia. Synthia is a big, fat, nightmare making spider that has a very intricate and death creating web that happens to be situated right around the light that illuminates the platform. Synthia never leaves her domain. She is always there. Watching, waiting for a person to forget to watch her throughout the entire staircase journey so she can leap into their hair. In order to go up the second set of steps, you have to walk under her web and then turn your back to go up the rest of the steps. At the top of the steps, I always whip around to make sure Synthia didn’t attack me and to be honest, I usually go up the stairs either sideways or backwards. A lack of eye contact can be the difference between future trauma counseling and having a nice day.

Well, for some reason the other day, Synthia was missing when I got to the platform. And I couldn’t remember if I saw her as I was walking up the first set of stairs, which queued a massive internal panic attack, as you can imagine. I began to hit random parts of my body, much like a game of Whack-A-Mole, just in case she made the leap, unbeknownst to me. As I turned and started to run up the second set of stairs, my eyes were level with the second story of the dorms. I saw a little blur of gray streaking towards me and, through the Synthia terror, I realized that with the current momentum of the gray blur, and my trajectory running up the stairs, I was about to have a mouse fly and land on my face. Fortunately, we saw each other about the same time and both of us put on the brakes. The mouse was going much faster than I, and I saw his little paws lock up and try to stop. For a brief moment, this mouse was in an uncontrolled slide without showing any signs of stopping. As we looked into each others eyes, we both silently agreed that whatever was about to happen would not be anybody’s fault and that we would get through it, together. But I’ll be darned if that little stinker didn’t pulled what I can only describe as the most heroic and skilled U-turn in history. Lock Paw in full force and body whipping around, it was one of the most athletic feats this world has ever seen. And before I knew it, he is bounding the opposite direction and I am continuing my escape from Synthia the Spider.

As for flying, it is going well! I just passed my stage-check (kind of like a pre-test to the REALLY big tests coming up) and am now studying for my written tests and then soon after, the actual test to get my Instrument license. I have about three weeks to absorb an enormous amount of information, but I am studying and believe I can get it done.

My instructor, Rick, keeps telling me to be a sniper and not a shot gun. I have this rather unfortunate habit of blurting out the first thing that comes to my head when asked a question (or in high pressure situations, the first thing that enters my head. Period), and although that is a great trait for personality tests, it is a rather bad trait for someone who will be taking an Oral Exam in the very near future.

Example: I was taking my stage check with the Chief Flight Instructor of the college. The Head Honcho. The Big Kahuna. As I was flying an ILS approach (an extremely precise approach that requires intense concentration) I look over at her and, being the shotgun that I am, say, “Belinda? You smell WAY better than Rick does!”

Oh. My. Gosh.

Trying not to let the horror of what I just said affect my approach, I continue to fly, wishing one of those centipedes would come bite me. Fortunately, she laughed and said “thank you!”.

Crises averted, Shot Gun Maggie lives to fly another day.

I am also coming home for Christmas in just under a month – I can’t believe it! – and am very much looking forward to that.

Thank you all for the support, as always, and thank you for reading 🙂

Maggie