have you seen the lady with the donkey?

A friend of mine that usually works up in the main gift shop in the Museum came out to the barn Saturday afternoon and asks “Hey, have you seen the lady with the Donkey? Did she come through here?”  Now horses and mules are no strangers to our place, especially the barn, but this particular friend of mine has a great sense of humor and a poker face so this question came loaded. “No, no…?”

I knew it must be good when she told me “Go ahead, I will cover for you, they are in the Museum.” “IN the Museum?” I ask. “Yeah they are inside… it’s a little donkey”

There are people in this world who have such creativity that it lands on another level completely. One of those magic individuals was now alone inside our Museum with her donkey discussing the displays!

I stood there mesmerized, the imaginary spoon going into my mouth because I could not eat this up fast enough. Not one but two new characters had come to life before my eyes! I had to go meet them.IMG_4823

The attention to detail was amazing. Never breaking character I was welcomed into their world as if this was nothing new. I was introduced to Digger the donkey and Wanda. Honestly she has a “W W” something before her name( wild west wanda?) but I lost it because my mind was way too busy absorbing every nuance of the donkey’s clothing and movements. Then as my attention shifted to Wanda my brain went into overload simply giddy with childlike delight. I was sold. I could write down her name and the details later. Someone give this pair the information to come live here at the Museum permanently please! Ok give them the info to volunteer. Something. My boss already had.

A little while later they came out to the barn. It was so obvious that they would fit in as part of that energy that changes our place from ordinary to extraordinary.

With the Museum already having one of the prettiest back grounds the Superstition Mountain, the Stamp Mill and the men who run it, the amazing train and the team that takes care of it, barn dwellers like me, the Elvis chapel, all the people who maintain the grounds or help build the different structures, a blacksmith, the Superstition Mountain Museum still has plenty of room for more good natured, giving volunteers, especially one with a donkey!IMG_4810.JPG

I look forward to seeing them again. I promise next time I will write down her complete name!

Nice to have met you Wanda and Digger!

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Remember what the wise man said…there’s nothing to fear…

It is so easy to give a “thumbs up” to the quote “Do what you are afraid of.” The most popular of the overused yet under realized current online “positive messages”.

I include myself in the group of individuals who have kicked themselves out of a self-imposed safety zone and stepped into the land of fear.

Do not for a moment confuse this with recklessness.

Fear comes in all forms. Confronting fear does not always include a danger to your personal safety. Speaking in public can be as debilitating for some as the rattlesnakes I face.

Due to the pride I feel, the free education I receive, the friendships I have formed and sense of community that comes from volunteering at the Superstition Mountain Museum, I will not give up  simply because the reality of where I will be doing it might be unsettling.

Volunteering in the barn requires me to face my greatest fear as a life-long desert kid. I will see live rattlesnakes on a regular basis.

The quote “Oh someone else will do it.” should actually be what gets hundreds of those easily given “thumbs up” online.

“Someone else” seems to live in a magic land “somewhere” and shows up magically when everyone else decides not to bother or care.

You see, magic individuals moved the barn I stand in piece by piece over to the museum. Each slat of wood numbered so it could be rebuilt exactly as it was before fire destroyed everything around it. The barn holds memories I am now proud to help protect.IMG_0701

For free.

Why should I get paid to stand in that amazing old barn for a few hours every Saturday? In an air-conditioned shop, selling trinkets and ice cream and watching Elvis, why should I receive anything when around me are people who don’t and have given so much more?

Because there are rattlesnakes and “someone else” can do it.

Well guess what?

No, there isn’t a line of eager people who can seem to give a few hours of their time. Nope. Too busy. Plenty of excuses. Someone else can.

My most recent encounter with a very aggressive rattler had a profound effect on me physically once it was all over. I don’t want you to think for a moment it didn’t.

Facing your fear is bigger and means so much more than a stupid “thumbs up” from a stranger online.

As evil as I can be at times, being completely alone facing a rattler who has reared back is not anything I would wish upon anyone.

Blessed with a combination of born and raised desert instincts, prior Zoo training and being a Mom, fear stepped into another realm so focus could slide in. Though I was alone, the Museum grounds were not closed, so an unsuspecting person could walk up at any time and I can guarantee they will be wearing flip flops. The rattler was in direct route of me getting help and at the entrance to the barn. My boss was not answering his phone so once the rattler settled back down and started to move on,IMG_0392.JPG I made the decision to RUN as fast as I could to get help while still trying to watch the snake to see where it would go into the Blacksmiths area. I am the only one who knows where this loaded weapon is and I have to get help and get back over there before a child finds it.

In steel toe boots I am a blur across the desert.img_8533

When all was said and done, I sat in my car to go home and I burst into tears. I am not for a moment going to let you think I am some non-feeling desert robot. I got home and threw up. The reality of what I had dealt with, including a sandal wearing idiot who insisted upon leaning over the wooden Blacksmiths counter to take a picture of a loudly rattling snake before the Fire department could arrive, had set in. This man was really lucky I used my stick to move him back and not knock him up side the head with it.IMG_0397

It took hours for me to feel relatively normal again.

Now after that story, not even complete with all of the details, and knowing this was my third straight week in a row of facing a rattler, I am positive there are plenty of you who would say I have every reason to not go back.

Except I am needed and qualified. And as it turns out I am one of those “someone else” who can be counted on to show up not because she’s getting paid but because she said she would and picked up a few more shifts because no one else did.

“Do what you fear…”

So, what are you afraid of really? Less time in front of the T.V? Less computer time for you to give a “thumbs up”? Weight loss?

Afraid of an ounce of inconvenience? A minute of un comfort?

Are  you afraid to sweat?

Or are you afraid I am talking honestly and directly to you and you now feel a need to answer…well don’t. I’m not looking for your thumbs up or your why.

I have two shifts this week…you can put money on it I will see at least one rattler.

Remember what the wise man said…there’s nothing to fear…

Ignore All Warnings

Ignore all the warning signs. Ignore the suggestions. Don’t read any signs. Go about your day oblivious to your surroundings only concerned with your own personal immediate happiness.IMG_0694

I’m starting to not care anymore. I’m starting to hope you suffer the consequences.

No, not a healthy mindset is it? But it’s true. For every eye roll I have received, for every “oh I know”, for every mock laugh I have heard when giving out honest words of encouragement and safety, I now hold a special place in my evil little heart.

I wear boots while working in a barn for a reason. We post signs about rattlesnakes for a reason. IMG_0322We suggest you stay on the trails for a reason. We tell you to drink water for a reason.

But you insist upon shuffling your way through the desert with tiny flip flops, open toed sandals, even high heels.IMG_0549 You proudly tell me your plans to hike at one in the afternoon to a destination you haven’t even arrived at and it’s already 90 degrees. You carry a bottle of Diet Coke and tell me you know all about staying hydrated.

You have no idea there is not a gas station for miles if you continue on the road you are on or that reckless driving on that same road helped three cars go off the cliff last weekend. So yeah, go ahead and check  Google maps on your phone.

Continue being dismissive to friendly locals who just might know a thing or two. The ones that suggested closer, shorter trails. Only partially listen to the those who have the desert ability to rescue you when you get lost.IMG_2092

Don’t take a second out of your oh so busy and important life to hear that if you take two more steps forward you will get impaled by the cactus you aren’t paying any attention to.IMG_1739.JPG

Don’t smile or be considerate as you travel. Don’t say thank you or please. Openly make fun of the things and people around you. Oh, and be sure to throw your plastic tooth pick right on the ground. No need to locate a trash can…IMG_6425.JPG

I love the desert I live in.

I will continue to protect it and offer words of wisdom from an honest and pure heart only looking to keep you safe.

…roll your eyes…you’re on your own…