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!

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

Improbable Beauty

I would like to start this Blog with an apology and with a warning.

First off, I am sorry for how long it has taken me to write this blog. My lack of writing has been a direct result of being busy with instrument flying and trying to have fun while doing so. Which has been a success! Whooo!

Now the warning: Do not, I REPEAT, do NOT eat the Holiday Turkey Sandwich from the Denny’s in Douglas, Arizona. I am debating how much to elaborate on this subject.. but for now.. I will just say that it put me out for at least a week. Like, OUT, out. Like no mas comida for Maggie for a looong time. Like laying on my floor wishing that the centipede my Instructor found on his desk (Yes, a creepily poisonous bug was in my classroom. As well as a baby snake. I still don’t ever really know what is happening in my life) would put me out of my misery. I will leave it there. Just don’t eat it. Please. Don’t.

In the month or so that has passed since I last wrote, quite a few interesting experiences have taken place.

County Fair: Tickets are free if you pick them up from the college. Pick up my ticket. Get to the fair. Whoops. Forgot ticket. Try to convince them to let me in. Fail. Pay for ticket. Look at chickens. Imagine what chicken I would be if I could be one. Do this for every animal. Eat caramel apple. Accidentally eat the entire thing. Core and all. Mental note to not eat like a goat anymore. At least I didn’t eat the stick. Watch a rodeo. Feel bad for the calves. Walk around a little bit more. Play the “who can hear somebody speaking English besides us first wins” game. Go home.

Hike: I heard about a place near Sierra Vista that you can hike around in and looks like North Idaho (Ramsey Canyon). So.. missing falling leaves and streams and pine trees like nobody’s business, Todd (my cute lil’ non back country red car) and I head out. And it did look like home! It was so nice.. to walk through crunchy leaves and hear streams and see green, real green, trees. In fact, it was so nice, that I just wanted to keep walking! I walked so far and so high that before I knew it, I was in a different wildlife preserve! And at a completely different elevation. Looking back, I should have known I was in difficult hiking territory when I passed a couple of heavy duty marine guys coming down from the path, drenched in sweat, wearing those desert head towels, looking at me like I was crazy. But I was just so stinking happy to smell trees that there is exactly nothing that could have stopped me from continuing up. Now I was never lost, per say, but at one point I decided that in order to get back to Todd, I was just going to have to follow the river down. THANK YOU 4,578 survival books I have read over my lifespan. Was it smart to go hiking by myself down here? No, no it wasn’t. Will I do it again? No, no I won’t. But did I have a great time thinking and just being in nature? Yes, and it was one of the most peaceful times I have had in a very long time. Minus the way down. That wasn’t so peaceful. Mostly because I got bit by a mosquito on my right eye and I couldn’t really see out of it. You win some you lose some.

Bike: Well, at least this time I wasn’t by myself. My friend, Maggie, and I decided we needed to get some exercise. (Is it weird having my best friend down here have the same name as me? It was confusing until I broke my lifelong habit of always referring to myself in third person.. that was a breakthrough in our relationship for sure. Just kidding. I have never referred to myself in the third person. Well, rarely. It always scares me when I do. I digress..) Fortunately, my tires didn’t deflate (thank you barefoot Bisbee bicycle man) and overall, it was a good ride. The issue, though, is the hill we went on had tons of rocks and gravel and ruts. Which is all fine and dandy if you have a mountain bike, but if you have a hybrid bike like I do, the tires are quite a bit thinner. There were a few times I swear I was one with Evil Knievel, jumping over the Grand Canyon the way I maneuvered those 6” ruts and mini-mini boulders. We might have walked up the last bit. We might not have. Nobody will ever know. At the top of the hill, that we may or may not have walked up, we came upon a MASSIVE Border Control camera on this huge crane looking thing. It was clearly controlled by somebody who was in some office somewhere NOT on the hill, and would scan the desert, looking for Illegals. Well, somehow it/the controller found out we were on the hill. As we were looking at it, the basketball sized camera (that looked like Mike Kryzowski’s head…off of Monsters Inc..) began to swivel and come nearer to us. It was one of the eeriest things that has happened to me. This big, seemingly unmanned, robotic machine trying to look at my face. Not a fan. Needless to say, we got out of there. On the way down, some parts were so steep that even with all of my brakes fully applied, I was still going faster than I wanted to. SO I got off and walked down that part. No shame. No shame at all. And I lived to tell the tale.

Some road signs I have seen in this area and my thoughts concerning them:

Beware of earth fissures” … WHAT? Why! Why is there a road where the earth could theoretically open up and swallow me! I wasn’t aware I am living on a tectonic plate fault line! Oh wait.. I’m not!

Warning: Visibility frequently reduced to zero with no warning” Am I living at the top of Mount Everest during a snowstorm? Am I living in the middle of a dust storm in the Sahara Desert? NO and NO! So why on earth is this a potential hazard? And why.. WHY! Would I not be able to see it coming?!

Caution: Severe gusting winds. Drive with caution” In other words, if you drive on this road, there are large odds that you will be driving through a horizontal tornado. Have fun, suckers.

Beware: Edge of the Earth, 2 miles.” Well, maybe not this one.. but sometimes it sure seems like it.

Fast Food Experiences: I went to Subway awhile back to get a salad because I just really needed some fly-free vegetables. As I was waiting in line, the fire alarm went off! And nobody.. not a soul.. reacted in any way to it. Not a raised eyebrow, not a covering of the ears, not a bewildered eye or a rush to the exit. N O T H I N G. I honestly thought I was getting that disease where your ears ring and ring and there is no cure. As I was halfway through ordering and debating how much ear damage I was getting and if eating healthy was really worth being deaf for the rest of my life, one of the employees got on the phone and said something about “fuego” and eventually it turned off.

Another time, I was trying to order a chicken sandwich at Church’s Chicken, and I wanted it without pickles and mayo.. just lettuce and chicken. And a non- sweet tea. After repeating myself 4 times.. both at the ordering box and the window, I receive a sandwich with ONLY pickles and mayo and a very, very sweet tea. It is such a struggle sometimes.

The one that takes the bacon, so to speak, is when we went to McDonalds the other day. As AJ rolled down the window to order, he lets out a yell. As I was telling him to hush, this massive locust-cricket-grasshopper thing hits me in the side of the head! I start to yell and wave my arms around like a maniac. BAM! It hits the windshield. WHOMP! AJ tries to hit it with his shoe. POP! It hits me in the chest. SLAM! I run out of the car and realize there is quite the line of cars behind us. I get back in the car, both of us thinking the beast is no longer in our presence. He started ordering and I swear to you, out of NOWHERE.. out of thin air.. this Houdini Devil bug falls from the ceiling and starts pin-balling off of us and off the windshield! It was too much. At long last, it catapulted itself outside. I yelled sorry to the employee as we screeched away, lucky to escape with our lives. Burger-less and breathless. We just went back to the college after that.. too much excitement for one day for sure!

I went to a Luke Bryan and Lee Brice concert this weekend in Phoenix and it was one of the most fun times I have had in a long time. I was with really good friends, surrounded by country loving people in the warm Phoenix night. I think when I look back on college, that will be one of my favorite memories. To be young..

Flying is going well. I am getting ready for some pretty big stage- checks and then the big kahuna tests are coming up in about a month or so! I am studying a lot, flying multiple times a week, and trying to keep my head above the water as far as all this information in concerned. I have pretty much all the approaches down pretty well.. am a big fan of the ILS.. and am now working on procedures and perfecting them. It is hard work and mentally tiring work, but I know how rewarding it will be when I finish. I flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor the other day and was taxing next to and around some BIG airplanes.. surreal really. I still really like it, am glad I came here, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. Okay, that last statement wasn’t exactly true, but I am glad this is where I am getting my training.

To wrap this up, I saw something beautiful the other day. I was driving on a back road near Douglas, and the sun was beginning to go down. Arizona sunsets are everything that they are talked up to be. The most beautiful golds and purples and pinks fill the expanse of the sky and reflect upon the red dirt in the most magical way. I was driving slow, appreciating the beauty, and I came upon a cow pasture. There was this mound of dirt in the middle of it, not a remarkable mound of dirt, and a lone cow on the mound of dirt, not a remarkable cow by any means. But the dark silhouettes of the cow and the mound with the backdrop of the gorgeous Arizona sky created the most beautiful scene. For a moment, just for a moment, I was a part of the amazing beauty of this world and I was allowed a glimpse into just how incredible this earth really is. You wouldn’t think these ordinary pieces could or would create such intense beauty, but that just goes to show that everything and everyone is beautiful. You just have to know how to look and be willing to see what is in front of you.

Thank you all for all the continued support. I love you all, miss you more, and would love to hear from you.

Love,

Maggie

I want to think again of Dangerous and Noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable, beautiful, and afraid of nothing.. as though I had wings.”

-Mary Oliver

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Just Another Empty Nester

Today was laundry day.

Well, today was the day my laundry got done. Laundry day should have been about three days ago.. but I digress. This should not be a blog worthy story. It should have been a simple, mundane task that took about an hour. But no.

Upon waking up today and deciding it was time to get dressed and welcome the morning, I came to a rather stark realization. I had nothing to wear. Nothing. Usually I have a few pairs of shorts to spare or a shirt or two but (aside from a few dresses and winter jackets.. not sure why I packed the latter when it typically doesn’t get below 65) I had nothing clean but the pajamas I had on. I looked down to see what I was wearing, was not all that impressed, but needed to get to the laundry room so I made a judgement call and began to gather the soap and necessary washing items. As I was doing so, I caught a full length glimpse of myself in the mirror and froze in shock and mild horror. During my previous scan of my outfit, I must have had my eyes closed. I looked a fright. I had on Hobbit Pants (think Lord of the Rings.. moss green felt.. 48 sizes too big), an oversized Larry Bird collectors shirt (#TeamLarryForLife #ThanksDad), and my hair in a bun directly on top of my head.

But my laundry needed to get done.

I opened the door to my room.. made sure there was not a soul in sight.. and ran as fast as I could the 100 yards to the Laundry Room, high stepping over the bug carcasses, while carrying a bag full of clothes that would have rivaled the Grinch’s bag of stolen Christmas Gifts (I watched that movie the other day.. what a classic). Phew. I made it unseen. I threw all of my clothes into one washer, colors and whites be damned, and ran back to my door. I could hardly believe my luck! Not a single person saw me in my Hobbitish glory!

Aaaaand my door was locked.

As I checked my pockets for the 14th time.. I came to the realization that in my haste to run to the Laundry Room, I had left my keys in my dorm. But being the level headed and quick thinker that I am, I decided I had two options. The first was to hide in the communal bathroom for the next 4 months until the semester was over and everybody had left, and the second was to march my little self across campus to Central Housing and get an RA to come unlock my door. After about 10 minutes of listing the pros and cons of both .. sure death by starvation or eternal humiliation were the key contenders.. I decided to go get the key. I also decided that if I looked like I was fine with what I was wearing, then everybody else would not look twice. Fake it till you make it baby! And fake it I did. Twenty minutes and 52 strange looks later, I was safe in my room.. key in hand.. pride only slightly damaged.

These last couple of weeks have been busy ones. All of my flying is starting to become very complex and mentally draining which has led to a significant amount of sleeping and studying, in that order. I shot my first approach a while back and am now about to start ILS approaches as well as ATC Communication (Booo radios!!) to start tying things together. I am still enjoying it and am still having fun although I wouldn’t mind doing an aileron roll or a loop every now and then.

I wore a sweatshirt last night and it was 78 degrees. I am becoming a disgrace to North Idaho. Please forgive me.

Some friends and I were cruising around Douglas one night, trying to find an elusive frozen yogurt shop that I had driven by once but been unable to find again, and we came upon a movie theater. Yes, an honest to goodness movie theater! I haven’t been that excited since I found out that we were having pumpkin cobbler instead of pudding for dessert the previous night! Up until our discovery, we had been driving 45 minutes to the nearest city to go to movies every once and awhile. Albeit, this theater only shows two different movies for a week or so and they aren’t exactly new releases and the times are really all that convenient and there is a perpetual firework on the right side of the screen because the projector is 72 years old but hells bells!! It’s something to do! And on Wednesdays and Thursdays it is only $5 for two people!! Wahooo!! We go hard in Douglas.

On another note, my birds are gone. I knew the day would come, I knew that they had to grow up and literally spread their wings, but I never imagined it would be so hard to emotionally let them go. And I am being one hundred and fifty percent honest when I say that I love my little birds. And that the day I woke up and went to say ‘good morning’ to them, and they were gone.. was easily the worst day I have had down here. I actually almost cried. I know it is irrational and to a very real degree, ridiculous, but they were born around the time I moved down here, and seeing their cute little faces every morning was a constant that I looked forward to and took for granted. One day, two of the four were gone and the next day there was only one. And the following day.. my little nest was completely empty. As mentioned, that was a rough day. I actually called my parents and told them how sad I was, and my daddy mentioned something about that was how he and my momma felt about me leaving .. and that was about the most depressingly beautiful thing I have ever heard. I found it in my heart to try and let them go, but there were four tiny holes where my babies used to be.

But the next day.. there they were! Sitting, waiting for me in the morning again! Fully grown, beautful as ever, except now they could fly. They could fly, but they still came back to me. And maybe that is how life is. You grow up, just enough to be able to be on your own and fly away for a little bit, but then you come back home. Not forever, and maybe not very often, but you know where your heart is because that is where your family is and then for a little bit, everything is okay in the world again and life is as sweet as ever.

If you all thought I was a Crazy Bird Lady before that last paragraph, I shudder to think what you think of me now!

I miss you all and will be better at trying to keep this a weekly Blog.

I would love to hear from you all and if you have any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to comment below or to e-mail me (Maggie.Kirscher@gmail.com).

Maybe it is because it’s late, or maybe it is because I am in a sentimental mood, but I would just like to thank all of you, my family in particular, for creating such a beautifully supportive and loving nest for me to come home to. I love each and every one of you and am so blessed to have you in my life.

 

Love,

Maggie

 

P.S. I would like to give a shout out to the coolest, funniest, sassiest, most beautiful sister and best friend in the entire world.. GRACE KIRSCHER .. for turning 15 on the 11th. I love you Grace, more than you will ever know. 

 

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Above are Todd and I, cruising down some Arizonian Highway, a line of my birds and their friends after they flew away, my last bird to leave the nest, and a happy picture of me. I will try to be better about taking pictures of myself and my activities and my friends.. I just never have a camera on me!

Goodbye for now 🙂

 

 

An Insectophobiasts Worst Nightmare.. and Other Tales of Horror

 Hellllloooooo Liiiitttlleeeee Ooonneeessss!!!!  *Imagine a British Accent*

(This is what I say to the little baby birds in the nest outside my door every morning (or any time I walk by them, actually). I actually feel like I am apart of their family and when people pass by my little babies without checking up on them or saying “hello”, I usually get either mildly offended or demand that they speak to my step-family. I may or may not be known as the crazy bird lady. Better than crazy cat lady, I suppose. Marginally.) 

This has been an incredibly busy week in the flying world, so I did not partake on one of my adventures per say, but usually walking from my room to the laundry room and back is an event in itself, so I will elaborate on a few of those happenings as well as show some pictures, and talk about flying.

I love flying. Love it. I was a bit worried that if it was something that I had to do everyday, it would get monotonous and my love for it would falter, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am working on my Instrument Rating right now (An Instrument Rating is used for flying in the clouds, smoke, or pretty much any time you can’t see ANYTHING outside. It is typically seen as the most difficult rating to get because of all of the procedures, rules, and the fact you have to completely rely on the instruments inside of the plane to keep you alive.) and I look forward to not only flying every day, but also going to class! I actually enjoy studying.. who would have thought I would ever say that? It isn’t easy, but I see it as a challenge and perhaps the most important rating I will get as an aviator. Right now, we are working on VOR/DME/NDB/GPS/ILS Approaches (ways to find an airport without being able to see) and I really like them. I especially like DME Arcs (Tune 10, Turn 10 Baby!!) and I am starting to really get the hang of this stuff I think. I was starting to get a little crazy with my altitude, but now that I stopped chasing it so much, our rides are significantly smoother (duh, I know!). I am flying in a 182RG (which means it has a retractable gear) and I was having a bit of trouble landing it.. I think I was carrying it in with a little too much power.. but after about 3 landings I FINALLY made a good one.. that is always an excellent feeling! There literally is a runway on campus .. does it get better than that? No. I have Instrument Ground School as well every day and right now we are going over Approach Plates and how to read them. I know I have said this, but I am just really enjoying learning and being challenged in something that I enjoy and love. 

It still rains at least once a day.. usually extremely hard. It rained so hard two days ago that when I walked outside after dinner, there were literally CURRENTS of water running through the road. It was above our ankles and the bottom could not be seen. WHICH IS SKETCHY! I half expected to see Todd (my car) being swept along the rapids, never to be seen again, but Todd is a little fighter, and lived to drive another day. 

The rain is awesome and amazing and refreshing and all … but with rain comes bugs. So. Many. Bugs. Especially these little Black Beetle Things (BBT’s, I call them). If you took the top part of your pinky and cut it length ways in half, you would have their approximate size. If you took a carpenter ant, gave it armor and the illusion of 16 more legs, along with wings and a bit of a stench.. you would have the BBT’s. And they are EVERYWHERE. They usually start coming out of their hiding places around 5 or 6 pm and are most attracted to places of light. Which, consequently, people tend to be where light is as well. I have horror stories that I could write about for pages and pages about these little creatures.. like how it is a daily happening to have them fall out of your hair in the shower, or crawl across your face at night.. but I will stick to one story to traumatize you, just like how they traumatize me. Last night, must have been a BBT holiday because they were out in full force. You could not walk outside without stepping on at least 15 of them every step.

I was in one of my friends rooms watching Prince of Egypt yesterday evening (Which is incredibly ironic because at the scene when all of the plagues are happening.. we recognized almost all of them! Locusts? Sure. Giant toads? Every day. Beetle things everywhere? Yup. Bug bites and sores? Of course!! It was crazy. Maybe we should all paint some lamb blood above our doors.) and we started seeing movement from under his door. Upon further investigation, we realized that the BBT’s were literally, somehow, coming through his closed door. One after the other, they just kept coming. He would get up and try and sweep them outside, but every time he came back in, there were some in his hair and on his clothes and about the third or fourth time that happened, his Good Samaritan side began to dwindle and he just began to smash them. But it didn’t matter! Nothing would stop the endless parade. It was actually kind of a helpless feeling and made me a teeny weeny bit queasy, but I made it and will continue to make it, I suppose. 

That night I ended over 40 BBT’s lives. They were all over my room. All over my floor.. a few in my bed.. it was madness I tell you.. madness!! I used to walk around campus, flipping over beetles who somehow ended up on their backs so they could have a second chance at life. Not anymore.. that was the old Maggie. The desert changes people, I tell ya.

The thing about the BBT’s, though, is that in the morning.. they are all dead!! It is the strangest thing! On my way to breakfast this morning, the wind started to blow and I heard a very strange sound. I turned around, and I swear to you, there were hundreds of these bug carcasses swirling around, about to create what I could only compare to a dust devil.. but made of beetles. 

I think the reason I was able to stomach all of this without too much of a problem is, about a week ago, my worst fear came true. 

I found a tarantula in my room.

In my room.

I found a giant, hairy spider, the size of my fist.

On my wall.

In my room.

The only one I have seen in my entire life.

I found in my room.

The only one anybody has seen on campus this year.

On my wall.

In my room.

And that is about all I can say about that. Waaaayyyyy too soon for elaboration but let’s just say I did not move for about 10 minutes in case that it would startle and disappear into my room.. never to be seen again.. until one night I felt something moving across my face… BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Rereading what I have written so far, it would potentially seem that I am miserable down here due to all of the little death creatures. False statement. I love it here. I am right where I am meant to be, I look forward to every day, I can’t wait for the next adventure to happen. 

Plus, I am playing basketball again. Some of you know how difficult these past couple of years have been, and I was sure I would never touch a ball again. But something about this place and these people are helping me heal, and for that, I will always be grateful to Douglas, Arizona.

I love you all, miss you all, and am so grateful to have such a great support group.

Love,

Maggie

 

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 A cactus! In the desert! A common sight down here. It is a bit more green at the present moment because of the monsoons, which makes it beautiful also, but this rugged beauty is really, really growing on me.

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I found this on my New Mexico journey.. a monument for Geronimo’s Last Stand. There is so much culture and history down here, but you really have to dig to find it!

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Notice the size of the bricks and flyswatter… BOOOOOOO!

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A happy picture of me to show you that I am still alive and smiling even after the last picture 🙂 On my way to church!photo (2)

There are the most beautiful rock formations down here.. I could explore them for days. Except I am terrified of rattle snakes sooooo maybe for minutes. Maybe I could explore them for minutes.

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Also on my New Mexico trip. Todd, a Javelina hat, and a smile. Can’t go too wrong there!IMG_1881

 

A little over half of the BBT’s I found in my room the other night. The only consolation is that everybody in the town of Douglas is in the same disastrous boat. We will all float on!!