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

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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!!