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 ❤

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 🙂



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 🙂