Flat out Silly

A few years back our niece sent me a “Flat Stanley” but created and styled to look more like her fabulous self. 👑
If you hadn’t guessed already, I am exactly the type of person who your child should send a Flat Stanley or Flat Savannah to!

I added the scorpion lollipop 🤣🌵

At that time I was volunteering at a local museum. Me and my new flat pal went everywhere!!

This reminded me of quite possibly THE best prank ever pulled on me by a few of the funniest and most creative individuals I was blessed with befriending at the Phx Zoo.

Our Experience Team was sent a Flat Stanley. I was thrilled and also put in charge of it!! With an entire Zoo at my disposal, plus being the Senior at the time (meaning I had access to some seriously cool stuff!!) I all but lost my mind at the chance to goof off on that level and take photos all in the name of education!!!

Yes I was standing there !! Yes Paige took me out there on my very last day 👑💚yes this was a screen shot from my computer because nothing was cooperating this morning!!! Zuri and Makope 💚👑
I am obviously the less smarter of the two of us 🤣 Thank You Jessica for a last day I’ll never forget ❤️

I treated that Flat Stanley like VIP! We went to the best of it all!

On my day off my evil friends Michelle CN and Ben Brose plus who knows who else was in on it, ( you all know who you are!) started sending me photos of my Flat Stanley roaming the Zoo! 😳


Stanley was on the zip line !

Stanley was going nuts!

Next thing I know Stanley has a sling on his arm and crutches !!😳


I start losing my shit at these two via text screaming that I have to send this thing back on behalf of the PHX Zoo!! Wtf are you doing?!?( super professional but it was my day off and I now have a Flat Stanley with a leg cast, an arm in a sling , crutches they have made …)

Uh laughing their asses off behind the scenes. 🤣🤣💚That’s what they were doing!

They had made a duplicate Stanley on the copier and were hell bent to turn him into the next star of Jackass!!🤣🤣🤣🤣 I don’t have photos of this mayhem but if you guys do please share !

Omg did they get me good!🤬😤😂🤣😂We all had harassed each other before by doing dumb stuff to our desks ect . But this was brilliant.

Fit for a Princess 👑
Michelle my pretty pretty princess


Now that I have the nonprofit Desert Nature Alliance and am
free of serious pranksters! I would love to get more Flat Whoever’s and enjoy sharing more of this desert with whoever wants too!!!#goodtimes #flatstanley

That’s a wrap

Invasive Species

I am going to challenge YOU.

Are YOU an invasive species?
Have YOU moved far from YOUR basic area of origin only to forcibly try to recreate where YOU came from in an entirely different environment ?

Why?

Did you adapt to your new environment or did you move there and simply continue your habits and behaviors and even disrupt the ecosystem by building homes with concrete walls to stop that awful wildlife from entering??? Did you poison “weeds”?

Do you suggest to anyone who will listen that shooting a native animal to the area you plopped yourself in is the answer to all problems ???

DId you seek out your new community when you arrived ?

How is it any different when a human does this and causes harm to an area they are not remotely from by their attitudes and bad behavior but when an animal does it ….

Well, we know how the animals get treated .

Compare Contrast Videos from the DNA

Next Educational Video Coming SOON From The
Desert Nature Alliance
“Compare and Contrast:
Coyote vs Your Spoiled Dog”
In this video we will explore some obvious and not so obvious ways we treat these two canine relatives SO differently. Get ready. I’m not going into this one with soft gloves.
If you haven’t already, head over to YouTube to our channel ( oh so Stace and the Desert Nature Alliance) and watch a few of my education conversations. All are designed to be used in conjunction with classroom learning,#stem and #steam education. the DNA has created lessons to help you follow along.

You can find lessons on our website http://www.desertnatureallianceaz.org Not designed for small children or sensitive viewers due to the graphic nature of some of the discussions and examples shown, yet entry level so all of us who are interested in science, nature, biology ect. can share ideas, learn and grow. Use our videos for your own lectures or classes ! Please contact us with ideas or topics we could cover. Videos from us directly to your classroom are available. Please support our mission by donating today 💚🌵☀️ #compareandcontrast #coyote #domestic #wild #canine #dog fund us now on tik tok, Instagram, FB, WordPress, Linkd, and our YouTube channel.

Baby Rattlesnakes are Hard to See

Last night out, by the dumpster, barely visible until it’s almost too late, too young and too small of nubs to really rattle and warn a predator away. Curled into the usual floppy disc position, a tiny baby rattlesnake.

A rattle snake is born with a tiny nub at the end of its tail. As it grows it sheds its skin. Every time it sheds, a new segment is formed on the rattle. The rattle doesn’t tell how old a snake is. That just shows how many times this snake has shed, plus the rattle can easily break off. Snakes vibrate their tails when nervous. Even my pet gopher snake will do it. But rattlesnakes do it to try to warn you to back away. They don’t chase you. They stay coiled and the rattling becomes serious until they feel threatened enough to rear up and strike a pose . At that point you are in a crap position and need to back away fast.

All rattlesnakes are deadly and need to be dealt with respect . Losing your fingers, hand or life ( let’s not even discuss how incredibly expensive anti venom from any hospital is!!!) is almost certain if you were to try to pick one up. It is a huge NO.

You can NOT let your guard down when you live in the desert and you know you live along with rattlesnakes. So small and at night I am assuming it is a Western Diamondback ( extremely common here) or a Mojave as was suggested to me online.

Temperature, weather , dictates the probability of seeing any snake. It was still in the 80s last night. October 14th. Our heat hasn’t trailed off enough for the snakes to brumate yet. They don’t hibernate like bears do. Look it up.

Be careful and use a flash light! But as you can see, this tiny danger noodle would be almost impossible to see in daylight due to the natural camouflage. #Rattlesnake #babyrattlesnake #desertlife #naturebased #stem #steameducation

The Black Keys, Band of Horses at Ak-Chin a Review

There are very few bands that, when my phone alerts me Monday morning tickets are still available for Monday night half the state away, I hit buy now. The Black Keys are one of those bands.

My introduction to the Black Keys came from my husband Jay years ago. He always find the best new music. For me “Howling For You” seemed like my theme song , being born raised desert and loving coyotes. But it was “Gold on the Ceiling”and “Lonely Boy” when the Black Keys became one of Stacys favorite bands.

I live out in Gold Canyon, East side of the Valley of the Sun. Roughly an hour drive to get to Ak Chin for a concert starting at 7pm on a Monday night. For those of you who might be unaware, our freeways on the West Coast are massive ( picture 7 lanes, one direction, driving into the setting sun, going 65 mph minimum if it’s not dead stopped, full of cars and trucks ) Deciding to jump into that nonsense and danger to drive 100 miles round trip when you work from home is a big deal.

Opening for the Keys were the Velveteers and Band of Horses. Arriving late due to the heavy traffic, I got to listen to what was a very energetic and bombastic ending to the Velveteers set from the Ak Chin ladies bathroom. Therefore I can not give a review of their performance.

However, we were present for Band of Horses and we both said Neigh! I want to blame their sound tech for a chunk of it. We truly could not hear one word lead singer Ben Bridwell sang clearly. For a “Band” who has been together producing music for as long as they have ( formed in 2004) I expected better sound quality and a better live performance.

The bands “logo” makes zero sense with what looks like a Coyote with the words Band of Horses around it. Boring, flat uninspired, trying to make it big sounding band is the best I can say. Not worth the drive in the least. Two fans of theirs stood behind us and seemed excited for at least one song. If there was rhythm to dance or move or sway to trust me, I was in the mood to do so, I came to see the Keys, but the horses let me down. I took the lag in entertainment as my opportunity to go check out the merchandise and grab a shirt.

The intro for the Black Keys was a silly video

Keys Lead Singer Dan Auerbach sounded great. Drummer Patrick Carney pounding away. Of course it was hot, 80 at night, it’s Arizona, but the fans overhead blowing helped a bit. Only complaint I really had was the smells wafting around Ak Chin. Sewer? I don’t know but it had moments of pew.

I will admit that during the show, while they indulged themselves playing a jam type session of old music along with old friends they rolled out on stage ( KB!) my mind wandered off to the gossip and drama surrounding Pat and his baby momma and soon to be ex Michelle Branch.

Pat’s a good sized guy. He pounds on drums for a living. Though I’m not attracted to him, plenty of folks are attracted to guys in bands. There has never been any secret that guys in bands are far from faithful given the smorgasbord of offerings nightly. Michelle is also a singer and performer. She must tour once in awhile though I’m not sure females get sex tossed at them in the same manner or as much as a dude in a band or even hanging around near a band. So staying home, having babies with a drummer, is literally a recipe for being cheated on. No surprises there. The surprise is hearing she tried to kick his ass! He’s huge Michelle, but I feel ya girl! I’d smack my man too for cheating but yours is in the Black Keys! Shoulda figured he was bad.

Overall the Black Keys sound and performance was on point but I felt like there were times they had the crowd up dancing and singing only to slow everyone down to sitting. If I had my way we would be dancing and Howling for you all night.

The Keys stalled us out until the encore for our Lonely Boy dance along. Was well worth the 100 mile round trip drive to exercise my demons dancing and singing on a Monday night. Been too long since I let my hair down and flung it around. I gotta love that keeps me waiting …

Guided Tour of Our New Storefront for the Desert Nature Alliance

As a newly developed nature based nonprofit who devotes itself to loving this desert here in Gold Canyon AZ and keeping us all safely enjoying it, I would like to invite you to follow me on this tour and experience what we have to offer. Being small and brand new, any support you can offer is greatly appreciated.

Come Visit Me!

Open Thursdays and Fridays 12-8pm Saturdays and Sunday’s 9-6pm.

She Works Hard For No Money So You Better Treat Her Right: the story of one female’s nonprofit startup journey

Part 1

I pull my truck into the small empty parking lot and park. Tears staining my cheeks. One argument first thing in the morning too many. I’m running out of options. I sit and stare at the empty spaces in the old plaza. The location is great but there’s little life or foot traffic. Is it even worth the effort to get out and peek in the windows? How am I going to afford this?

For some reason I’m drawn to an open space on the end near locked, but for public use bathrooms. I peak in. Immediately my creative brain wants to decorate. I can’t take this as a “sign” because my brain does this with any empty space it sees. But I do see the possibility.

I look around and notice there is a Uhaul rental in this plaza so I head over. It’s early and by the posted sign they aren’t even open but dogs run up to the door then a women answers. Nice enough she lets me in and finds the contact information for the plaza rentals.

Back in the truck heading home I just want to throw up. Nothing I had planned for the last few years was really going to work the way I had hoped or dreamed. It wasn’t falling into place. If anything it was falling apart and I needed to make some serious life decisions. But at this point, not counting my husbands keeping me fed and a roof over my head, I was broke.

Once Covid hit I made the decision, stayed home and put my life and soul into the tiny non profit I had created, the Desert Nature Alliance. My DNA, literally blood, sweat and too many tears. Mine. Though making videos and keeping up with my online presence was starting to gain traction, money was not . YouTube wanted thousands more subscribers than I had. Instagram didn’t find me influencing. My friends and followers were solid and truly encouraging me to grow but they aren’t millionaires.

The gravel driveway gives away my return. The tension in the house still lingers. A lot of it is my fault and I know it. My frustration at life in general had turned me into a growling, sharp toned bitch blaming him for breathing. Mad, angry, burning inside from a life of hard work that never got rewarded but instead came with bosses, customers and clients insults and abuse. Forcing my way out of the employee role and into the Queen Boss Bitch was my goal. Money had never been the pinnacle, but to actually make a difference was where I was headed. A true Nonprofit.

Filling my detached garage and multiple sections of my home were parts of the bigger picture. Half of the garage had become my museum, housing my collection of bones and skulls, my workshop, home to making all of my YouTube videos. Inside my house were pieces of furniture and items I dreamed one day I could house altogether museum style with my collection like the old wooden organ from the 1800s, a style clash with our actual personal tastes.

But my dreams of people coming way out to visit the DNA on our property weren’t coming true. It was not convenient. It was awkward. Sure, I had really cool things to see and learn from and the view is to die for but the reality was I needed to meet my audience half way. But how? I had no income.

I walked into the house and tried my best to stammer out where I had just been and that maybe I had been very wrong. By forcing my dreams into one location (safe at home) I limited so many possibilities to really grow. But the right timing and finding myself needed to happen. Stripped of all but pride, I asked for help. Was there anyway in the world he could give this awful woman who he claims to have loved for the last 25 years enough money to pay first and deposit on a public space? Did he believe in me like that? Did I believe in me like that?

Magic Bug

Sitting outside in front of my mini DNA museum/workshop, melting in the Arizona sun, I am doing the very unglamorous part of my field work, cleaning up recently found bird parts and bits (I have a special permit, don’t trip out, I’m legal) Using a bucket of rain water to clean my hands and what not, out of the corner of my eye I see something bizarre.

Whoa!

Iridescent green is catching the intense sun and beaming from the bucket next to me. The color is so glorious and shimmering I’m immediately mesmerized.

Born and raised desert , using all the animal knowledge I possess, I’m only vaguely familiar with what I am staring at. My limited background around insects tells me it’s a huge beetle. I can’t identify it further than that without Google. But honestly, look at it!! Such a fabulous looking beetle, covered head to toes with an insane level of iridescent green sparkle, this beetle must be part of the community.🌈 These shimmering creatures probably only vacation here in Gold Canyon. The monsoon rains must have ushered them in. Honestly I have no clue if this type of beetle is even dangerous or deadly. End of my TED Talk.

Okay?!?!

I scoop it out of the water and onto a stack of paper to dry. I’m covered in flies and sweat and filth and need to clean up and go shower before taking pictures of my new green friend and finding it a place in the collection.

I’m special and I know it.

The AZ sun is so intense it makes outdoor photography hard at certain times of the day. I wanted to make sure I could capture all the colors bouncing of this beetles entire body. Exhausted from working in the heat, I figured I would come up with a better lighting situation after a shower and a bong load.

Sitting at the table, talking to my husband about work, debating on whether I should eat or nap, Jay looks over at the beetle on my desk and says “ uh babe, it’s moving”

What? No…I took that crazy looking thing out of a bucket full of water almost 30 minutes ago! It’s alive?

Can’t stop won’t stop just keep movin

Why yes, it was.

And still is! After I took enough photos and videos of this insane looking creature we moved it to under a flowering bush in the shade . Good luck you fabulous green flying machine 🌵💚👍

Magic Bug! I want it, I want it, I want it…

Emotionally What It’s Like to See a Rattlesnake

youtube.com/watch

https://youtu.be/ZWjbsEIARTs

I would love it if you popped over to my YouTube channel Oh So Stace and the Desert Nature Alliance for this video and more. I started making videos to work on my public speaking at first but started to enjoy it more and more. The education I can share for free and in my own style with no editing feels liberating! My channel has over 400 videos now. Some are of me sharing my desert love and safety tips, but most are of the wildlife living here in Gold Canyon Arizona. https://youtu.be/ZWjbsEIARTs

…so we created an Art Department

At the beginning of every school year my favorite thing happens, my husband/high school math teacher brings home the questionnaires from his students. These are usually filled with ridiculous answers that completely crack me up. I know me and how I was as a high school student, I can just imagine what I would have said in a questionnaire from my math teacher.

This year, instead of a huge public school, he teaches at a smaller charter school for students  5th grade through 12th. Incredible difference in environments for sure. Total student population for his new school I’m guessing is around 30 instead of the1500- 2000 student populations like the average public schools out here.

I eagerly grab this year’s stack of questionnaires sitting on our table and start reading. The difference is immediate. These answers feel sincere, not hard or sarcastic. Not a cuss word in sight. The voices are coming through.

The question standing out to me the most: “If you could create a new class what would it be?”

For some it was exercise/sports, for some it was computer gaming, but for more than just a few it was art. The answers varied but it all came back to the arts. Drawing, painting, free form, calligraphy, woodshop, they wanted ART.

Their words rang through to my soul.

Art saved me growing up and in school. Having the fun combo of an over active creative mind living in an unstable home, a pencil and a pad of paper was my escape.

My art classes were why I had any motivation to go to school at all. That and socializing were the reason I stood at the bus stop and endured.

By senior year high school I risked life and limb by dropping an AP English class and ignoring the expensive books my middle-income family had purchased for the “over the summer mandatory reading list”. I still say it really wasn’t my fault. Upon arriving to the first day of school I saw no art class on my schedule. There was only one Advanced Art class offered that year and I sure as hell wasn’t going to AP English instead. Nope. Art meant that much to me that I was willing to face those consequences at home and did…oh yes… I did. Trust me my dad was not happy.

I keep reading through this year’s questionnaires. I know I can give you guys the art you want and more. If given the chance…

Ideas are now flooding my brain. How on earth can I explain what all I am capable of teaching or to even explain what I have in my mind? I have years of art back ground in the rattle box of a brain.

I literally raise my hand and wave it at my husband saying “Pick me! Pick me! I got this! I can do the Art!”

Now mind you, I am married to the half of my brain that seldom works. He is a Marine and a math teacher with his masters. I need to write down what I am thinking if I have any hope of making  any sense to him at all and not the noise the cartoon “Peanuts” adults make.

We can create an Art Department. I will volunteer. This cuts through tons of red tape. I write up the basics and offer it. He loves the idea. Let’s throw it by the boss. He loves the idea too.

The second week of school, Wednesday, early afternoon half asleep on the couch, I get a text “Can you be here in an hour to present your Art Department idea to the kids?”

Adrenaline kicks in and I race around gathering up my notepad and the props I had planned on using. Not only have I come up with the idea of a department but I also have a first project ready just to see who really wants this.

I planned on using the Bee poster I created for the museum. Its bright and colorful with my own close up photographs of  local bees surrounding information in the center. I will give the students the same Bee coloring sheet I give out during my Saturday museum animal talks and tell them they have a week to do whatever with whatever they want.

I’m surprised at how nervous I am. I drove trains for the PHX Zoo giving 20- minute unscripted tours. I talk all day on Saturdays at the Museum.  All I seem to do is talk. This is Art.  It’s exciting. There should be no problem at all.

But there I stand, shaking, voice quivering. I am a pro so I take a sip of water but it almost hurts my chest to swallow. I can’t slow my breathing. I’m sweating but that’s in part to it being over 100 degrees outside and me racing my things inside with little time to spare. I try sitting as I speak but it makes it worse. I openly tell the kids I am truly surprised at this but bear with me.

They do.

I make it through my presentation more than self- conscious, my teacher/husband has been watching the whole thing and I’m positive it was less than impressive. When I finish, one of the girls comes over to me and tells me not to worry about it, that all of them have issues and laughs.

I go home having no idea if they will do anything with these bee coloring sheets or if they even want my weirdo self being their Art Director.

I insist on going back to school the next day to see what room I will be using and to get a better feel and to relax. On Thursdays, more than half the students don’t attend so it’s a quiet, easier day for those who are there. The room I am given is big and bright and clean. Carpet feels new, bathroom is large and nice. The room has two working refrigerators and a microwave. There is a huge empty desk and plenty of long and round tables to use. I am told any art supplies in the building I am free to move on over.

It was Christmas.

Everywhere I turned were markers and pencils and chalk and scissors and glue stick and crayons in big pretty bins here and there hidden on shelves just waiting to be sorted through. I had landed in free art heaven! There was no need to purchase anything! Just gather it all up and go create!

The few students that were there saw my extreme joy and before you know it I had a table full of kids coloring sheets I had torn from one of my coloring books from home and a helper or two sorting through colored pencils and markers. I learn right away that some of my artists have special needs that may or may not have been identified or diagnosed. Some have and it’s apparent. I will have to take all of this in consideration when I am offering projects and deadlines. My brain goes into overdrive.

Week three I arrive early on Tuesday having no idea if any of the students returned the Bee picture like they were told.

9 of them did.

The envelopes are sitting on the table in a neat stack. I want to cry I am so happy. The art is above and beyond what I had expected.IMG_1310.PNG My plan can go on! I hang their art on the wall. I move tables blocking anyone from getting to close. I create a gallery for our opening.IMG_1309.PNG

I am given only a half hour once a week on Tuesdays for Art Department meetings. I am hell bent to fill it with as much diverse learning as I can offer.

It’s lunch time, in they come, unsure as to what I have done with their pictures, what I have planned in general. I haven’t shown them much except a huge dose of crazy from me at this point so I’m surprised any of them forgo free personal lunch time to hang out with me.

I have written “Respect” in huge letters on the massive white board with the definition underneath. I want them to understand I respect their art and what that means.

I take them to our very own gallery to discuss their art, then we head to round tables for our next projects and ideas.

I am so inspired by the kids and their efforts, I go home and write up a little article I think the local papers would use. I send pictures and the article for approval to the school and get blessing to move forward.

Week four. We have an even larger group for the lunch time meeting. We have multiple projects in the works. I give them a demonstration to inspire them for the Nutrition Art requested  for the school’s kitchen. They are given their next challenge for the week, a race car inspired contest, “The Fast and The Furious” and I head home exhausted.

Half-awake from my nap I see the mail sitting on the end of the couch and reach for the paper. It’s a long shot that I made the deadline, it’s hardly a week later, but it’s worth the look. It’s not my title but it’s in there.IMG_1357

There is no way you can convince me something that magical isn’t happening over there.

…as if nothing ever happened

 

There is a patch of desert not too far from my home that, I am told, was the original site of Apacheland Movie Ranch. If I am to believe, this is where from 1960-2004, some 44 years, 29 movies, 17 television series and hundreds of commercials were filmed.

But there is nothing out there. Sure, there are trails used by hikers and dirt bikes but nothing else. Nothing that would tell you the self- proclaimed “Western Movie Capital of the World” was here for 40 years.img_4456

The first time I walked down Kings Ranch towards Apacheland it was lightly raining.

August in Arizona is hot. Random showers during monsoon season bring us relief. I had no problem wandering around in the drizzle to see what I could find. I had walked over alone. I didn’t bring the dogs because I wanted to take pictures. At that time, I thought for sure if there had been a full movie studio and buildings there would be something worth taking pictures of.

There really is nothing out there except for a rock fence that looks like it could have been some sort of corral.img_4418

When I approached this area, I felt this energy then immediately tears welled in my eyes. The only way I could describe it was it felt like someone saying “Finally! What took you so long?”

My reaction surprised me. Why tears? I didn’t feel scared or that I was surrounded by ghosts. I just felt like I belonged there and was wanted.IMG_4391.JPG

It bugged me enough to head over to the museum to see what I could learn.

I learned they needed volunteers and the requirements were easy to meet. I could show up for 3 to 4 hours every Saturday, help sell things in the General Store and watch Elvis pretend he’s a cowboy in Charro! Paid with tons of free reading and education.

Besides, where else was I going to learn about this lost era…for free?img_4272

Born in Las Vegas, raised in the high desert of California and even lived as a kid for a couple of years in BAKER “the gateway to Death Valley”, I can easily say I have desert running through my veins. I had never heard of Apacheland until moving to Gold Canyon Arizona.

A few months and a few hundred viewings of Charro! later, I am meeting people who worked at Apacheland and that can tell actual stories.

The blacksmith John that volunteers at the museum has fun stories. His mom was an extra on the set of Charro! when he was a kid so he was also hanging around the set. Tells me he tried to sit in Elvis’ chair!

The local newspaper The Independent has printed two full page articles about the Stamp Mill and the Train that I have written and photographed for the museum. The monthly Superstition Living printed both articles as well. With my Blog, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram, I can share what I continue learning about this amazing area. I truly hope to be a part of preserving this little chapter in history.img_4250

Cholla

She pulls her hair straight back into a tight ponytail. Stuffs the loose ends into her dirty baseball cap then pulls her long ponytail out the back. Old ripped shirt and jeans. Heavy steel toe boots. She’s ready to work.

Her backyard is open desert. The mission this morning is to clear a deadly patch of Cholla. Jumping Cholla. Cactus known to leap off at unsuspecting passersby. Thorns so long and sharp they easily pierce through the heavy duty gloves she wears. Cactus dangerous enough that it needs to be controlled or removed.

She knows todays work is not going to be much fun but it has to be done or it will continue to grow into a nightmare maze of spikey jumping thorns. She grabs her tools and heads toward the back yard.

There is an obvious transition from the open and easy to walk through desert into the ominous thick patches of Jumping Cholla.

Her chest tightens as the fear sets in. This patch of cactus is not going down without a fight. She feels it.

She uses her heavy duty rake as a defense to enter into Cholla territory. Slowly she pushes back at the angry plants to see which parts willingly fall off and which parts are ready to leap out at her with frightening speed and force.

Spikey balls of pain fall all around her as she steps ever so slowly trying with every controlled move to not disrupt large amounts of jumping thorns. Slow progress is made carving a trail further into the thick patch. With every awful clump she removes, another seems to fall in its place.

Sweat dripping into her eyes, she can’t risk wiping them, her arms now covered in thorns. The salt will just have to sting. There is no turning back now. She is fully in and committed to winning this fight.

Pushing and fighting her way through, a sense of victory is starting to emerge. She powers on knowing eventually she will see the light at the end of this very nasty Cholla tunnel.

Thirsty from so much intense work she turns to reach for her water. The hours must have passed quicker than she realized. Surrounded by thorns and overgrown cactus the shadows slowly creep in.IMG_2505.JPG

She looks behind her to see there is no visible path. Every bit of cactus she thought she had removed now somehow replaced and multiplied! She is surrounded. The Cholla have started closing her in.img_2504

Panic sets in as she realizes there is no path, no direction, no water. She is surrounded. The Cholla are ready to fight back.

Her sweaty hands grip the rake tight. It is her only weapon to fight this overwhelming attack. She closes her eyes tight trying to get the sweat and sting out so she can focus, but clearing her vision only makes the reality of her confinement bring on a full panic attack.

Heart racing, short of breath she spins around dizzy and scared. Where is the house? What direction am I facing? She grabs her phone frantically pushing the screen but there is nothing. It is dead. No signal no power. No way to cry for help.

She throws her phone at the Cholla that are inches from her face but that only sends more pieces of flying shrapnel into her cheek. Pain shoots through her face sending hot streams of tears stinging down her bloody cheeks.

She falls to the ground only to have a thick layer of Cholla spikes pierce her knees and shins. Stabbing through her jeans bloody pieces of her flesh hold hundreds of thorns.

She screams and tries to make a break for it. Kamikaze style she runs full speed wildly through the Cholla with it firing back from every direction.She feels the hot, sharp pain in the side of her neck and knows another clump has landed. She is the target and the enemy has zeroed in.

Disoriented, terrified, shock sets in. The Cholla are spinning all around. Her arms and legs no longer move. The Cholla tighten their hold. Coming in from all sides. Spikes piercing every inch. Encased. Held in place like a bloody and twisted scarecrow. Waiting to be found.