Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The NFL Draft Widow

dallas cowboys, widow, NFL

"If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead." - Erma Bombeck.  I think this quote not only applies to football games, but to the NFL Draft as well.

Last week was the Draft and my husband (Mike) was glued to the tv.  Every now and again we would see signs of life in the form of moans, groans, and comments, but not much else. 

Each time the Dallas Cowboys were "on the clock", the air in our house would become so electrified, it positively crackled with excitement over the prospects still available.  Are they going to pick the Incredible Hulk for the offensive line, or maybe a towering defensive tackle, or even a Sherman Tank-like running back? 

The kids and I stood on either side of the television like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders cheering for the next pick.  "Offense! Defense! Or a Running Back!  We don't care, just don't give us another hack!!" was our cheer.   And then the Cowboys would announce the player they were drafting and we'd eagerly watch my husband's face for a reaction.  Sadly, it was like being in a heavily fought football game and having the ball on the one yard line with :03 seconds left in the game.  The quarterback would drop back, find his receiver and throw a beautiful spiral right into the receiver's hands .......... only to have him drop it in the end zone and lose the game.  Everyone's faces displayed their disappointment over the loss and you could see tears rolling down the faces of some of the players and fans.  Yes, we saw the same reaction from Mike for each selection Jerry Jones made.

Unfortunately, after several disappointing picks and our inability to produce a good enough cheer to turn the draft around, or get our sports fan enthusiastic, we were benched.  We packed away our pom-poms and left Mike to handle his disappointment in peace.  I checked on him a little while later and he was still sitting in the same spot with his eyes glazed over, mumbling something incoherent about needing Jimmy Johnson ..........

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Redhead vs. The Boogie Board

hawaii, surfing, the redhead, honeymoon, maui

When my husband and I got married, we decided to honeymoon in Hawaii.  We were so excited to get there and spend a week just relaxing on a beach after all the craziness of a wedding.

After a very long flight, we arrived in Maui and it was the hottest day on record there.  Figures.  Ah well, at least we'll have plenty of sunshine and cute tropical drinks with umbrellas in them, we thought.  We rented a car and drove to the condo we had leased for the week.   We opened up all the doors and windows to let in the ocean cooled breezes.  We stepped out onto the balcony and saw scores of people out on the ocean surfing and boogie boarding, and equally as many people laying out on the beach sipping drinks with those cute little umbrellas.

Mike decided that surfing looked a little too close to what sharks liked to eat for a snack and instead decided to try boogie boarding.  He rented a board and a couple of young men showed him how to scoot along the waves next to the shore line.  Mike got on that small surf board and did spectacular.......... falls.  I laughed until I cried at some of the flips and crashes he experienced.  The young men worked with him until he started figuring out how to balance himself.  Once he had it figured out, he was flying across the shore line having an absolute ball. 

As Mike gained confidence in his abilities over the course of several days, he decided we should go up to the north end of the island where the waves were much bigger.  He was doing so well and having so much fun that I sucked it up and gave in to his requests to try it.  As much as I tried, the waves were too strong for me to push through to get to a decent boogie boarding area. Mike got the idea for me to put on all of the rented snorkeling gear we'd brought with us, lay on the boogie board, and he would push me while I was laying on the board through the big waves.

Not a bad idea, I thought, so we gave it a go. I'm sure we were a sight - me with my rented snorkel and goggles on my face and flippers strapped to my feet, while he pushed me on the boogie board.  He would yell "wave coming" and I'd duck my head so he could push the board, with me holding onto it, through the wave.  After the first 2 waves, we'd gotten out past the coral reef and were thrilled with the progress.  Mike was gloating at his fantastic idea and estimated we were almost to the "sweet" spot to start boogie boarding.  

And then........... there always seems to be an "and then" with us........ Mike looks up just in time to see an absolutely humongous wave barreling toward us.  He yelled "OH *#@*!!  DON'T LOOK UP!".  Now, if you yell "don't look up" to someone, it is just human nature for that person to look up, especially when it begins with "OH *#@*!".  I looked up.  Before I could even repeat Mike's exclamation of panic, we were hit by this monster wave.  The force of the wave ripped Mike away from me.  I saw him get caught up in the middle of the wave and then he was rolled out of sight.  That same wave lifted me and the boogie board a good 15+ feet up in the air as I was hurtled toward the beach with an unbelievable amount of energy from the force of the ocean.  The wave crossed over the coral reef, which immediately broke the power of the wave.  As the wave started breaking, it quickly dropped me down onto the edge of the coral reef closest to the shoreline and rolled me up onto the beach like a whale being spit out of the water.  

Somehow Mike ended up halfway down the beach from me and came at a run to see if I was OK, along with a couple of lifeguards who'd witnessed our spectacular arrival back on land.  As I laid there in the surf, a quick assessment discovered that: my goggles were sitting diagonally across my face with one lens covering one eye and the other sitting halfway up my forehead.  The snorkel had been ripped out of my mouth and was sitting on top of my head still attached to the goggles, and both flippers were gone.  The boogie board was currently whacking me in the back of the head with every wave that rolled toward shore. 

I also had a myriad of cuts from the coral reef I had skimmed across but worst of all ........... oh dear heavens, the horror of it all!  The worst of all was that when the wave had rolled me over the ocean floor, every single grain of sand from that entire ocean floor had been deposited into the seat of my swimsuit.  The bottom became so heavy that while the swimsuit had stayed put at my waist, the section of the swimsuit that is supposed to cover certain body parts was now so full of sand it was literally hanging down to my knees!  One of the lifeguards (a female - thank you sweet Lord!) noticed and quickly pushed me back into the ocean waves, much to the horror of my husband, who hadn't noticed my predicament.  She then instructed me on how to quickly fix the problem and regain some modesty before tending to the multitude of coral reef cuts I'd sustained.

When Mike figured out the lifeguard had thrown me back into the ocean because of a swimsuit malfunction and not because she thought I was a beached whale, he started laughing like a hyena.  I guess Karma came back to get me after laughing at Mike's first boogie boarding attempts.

There are some trials in life that a person can only survive once.  Boogie boarding and having your swimsuit malfunction on a beach in front of a zillion people would be one of them.

Boogie board - 1; Redhead - 0.

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Student of Change

changes, student, change

While scrolling through Twitter updates, I saw a quote that said "Become a student of change".  Why?  For the most part, I don't really like change. Ok, so there are many different kinds of change and some of them are awesome, like the inventions of electricity, automobiles, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing.

Doesn't it seem a bit arbitrary to say that we should all drop everything to become students of change?  What change are they talking about?  Small changes, moderate changes, or big changes?  You've also got your lifestyle changes, emotional changes, pychological changes, dietary changes, and physical activity changes.  As well as societal changes, growth changes, changes of habit, and changes to habitat.  Or how about job changes, housing changes, familial status changes, income changes, and the least favorite: health changes.  

While I don't like the word "change" in general, I do appreciate and like some changes that happen regularly.  The daily application of deoderant would probably be at the top of my "like" list.  At the top of my "appreciate" list would be your daily application of deoderant.  I've been around people who I wished had made this change.  I'd be very happy if they became a student of this change.

Another good change I discovered was after I'd taken an airplane flight.  I arrived at my destination, but my luggage did not.  It took a full 2 days for my luggage to arrive.  I was never so thankful to be able to change clothes as I was that day.  Now that was a good kind of change.

I was pleasantly surprised by a recent change.  We were driving to an event and got lost due to our GPS navigating us to Arizona, and we only needed to go to the neighboring town.  My husband actually stopped and asked for directions .  Now that was a change I could live with.

I guess I'll concede that not all change is bad.  After all, if not for change, we'd all still be living in dark caves, grunting and dragging our knuckles, while trying to figure out how to start a fire.

by: Christie Bielss

Friday, April 19, 2013

Looking for the Helpers

helpers, mr fred rogers, helper

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." A quote by Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers.

When I was growing up, my parents always told us something similar: "There is good in every situation.  Sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper and look a bit harder for it, but there will be good."

The events of this week have been mind-boggling.  Every day has had an event occur which is so horrific, it has knocked me off-kilter and made me question where mankind is headed.  And then I see or hear about "the helpers" and my faith is restored.  I think we all could use some "helper" stories.

Monday I sat and watched the Boston Marathon bombing as it unfolded on the news.  The chaos and horror before my eyes was surreal.  I watched as the news camera was showing people running away from the bombed areas to safety and saw the look of panic and fear on their faces...... and I felt helpless.  I live across the country from Boston, so there was nothing I could do to help at that moment.  

Within seconds of seeing people fleeing the area, I then saw people running toward the injured.  They were like fish trying to swim upstream as they negotiated their way through the crowds of people running away.  But, by the looks on their faces, they were determined to help those who needed it so desperately.  A lump developed in my throat and my heart jumped as I shouted "THERE THEY ARE!  There are "The Helpers"!  These "helpers" started grabbing the temporary fencing that had been used to block off the sidewalk from the runners and were flinging it aside to get to the injured people trapped underneath it.  Men were taking off their shirts to use as gauze and whipping off their belts to use as tourniquets.  Others were quickly carrying, or racing wheelchairs loaded with injured people to ambulances and a triage area.  With little thought to their own safety, these people went back time after time to the affected area.

And just when you think the horror is over, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas explodes with enough force to register as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake and level part of a community.  Scores were injured and an unknown number were killed.  As my mind tried to wrap itself around this latest event, my heart leapt when I saw scores of communities from all over the state immediately send fire, police, EMT's, Careflight helicopters, and many others to assist this community.  There are "the helpers"!  A call went out that everyday items were needed to assist these families who had lost everything.  Within a few short hours, West was inundated with every item they'd requested from people around the state who had dropped everything they were doing, hopped in their vehicles, and immediately delivered it to this devastated community.  These are "the helpers".

As I sat down last night to watch the evening news, they showed a clip of the Boston Bruin's game as they were performing their opening ceremony for the first time since the bombing.  The National Anthem was being performed and all of the fans, players, and coaches were singing their hearts out.  It was one of the most powerful and patriotic versions I have ever heard.  If you haven't heard it, or you've only heard a small clip, then here is a link to the posting on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzMsagY7oRs.  They too are "the helpers".

If you know of more "Helper" stories, share them.  Help others find the good.  We all need help sometimes finding "the good" and "the helpers".  By sharing more of the good, you then become one of "the helpers", and we can all use some good.

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, April 15, 2013

Invasion of the Fire Ants

ants, fire ants, fire, fire ant, pest control
Courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

Back in the early days of our marriage, Mike and I were in our first house and had decided instead of having children, we would try out our parenting skills on a puppy.  We figured that if we messed up with a dog he's either retrainable or we'd only have to put up with our "bad parenting" for a finite number of years.  We were trying to potty train our tiny little fur-baby but every time he'd go outside, he'd  get bitten by fire ants.  This was severely thwarting our efforts.  And, because we would go outside with him, we would also become the unlucky recipients of those nasty little bites.

For those of you who've never been introduced to fire ants, they are mean, nasty little ants who are intent upon killing every living thing  and taking over Planet Earth with their giant ant colonies.  Hollywood could make a good scary movie casting these ants as the villains, although the cast and crew would need extra hazard pay because getting a single bite from one will create a scratching, burning frenzy of pain.

Determined to be good "parents" to our fur-baby, we tried every chemical in the home improvement stores to eradicate the dastardly little villains.  We were having no luck.  All they would do is move their mound 3 feet over.  Finally, after our yard had so many mounds it was looking like a low-income housing project, we tried treating the whole yard at once.  Victory!  The ants moved on.......but only next door to the neighbor's house, where they made new friends, hung out and partied together and created an even larger colony.

When the chemicals in our yard lost some of their effectiveness, those partying ants moved back into our yard and brought all of their new mooching friends with them.  There were so many ants going every which way in our yard it was like the toga party scene from the movie "Animal House".

Mike talked with some of his buddies about the best way to rid our yard of these invaders and, using their advice, he decided on a plan of action.  He didn't say much to me about what the plan was except that he found a new "chemical" mixture he was going to try.

One day while I was busy inside the house, Mike implemented his plan, which consisted of thoroughly dousing the biggest mound with gas.  He took great care to get the gas spread all the way to the edge of the mound and then set the gas can a couple of feet away from the mound.  Ever so carefully, he lit the mound on fire.

Through the living room window, the giant flash of the gas igniting caught my eye.  Within seconds the mound was engulfed in flames.  I watched as my husband chortled in glee and danced a little victory jig as the ant mound sparkled like fireworks.  As he celebrated, the fire grew larger, engulfing the entire mound .......... and then he noticed a problem.  When he'd set the gas can down, he'd inadvertently left a trail of gas from the mound to the can.  His chortling and dancing turned to a loud exclamation of fear and a dance of panic as he watched the fire move quickly from the fire ant mound, down the path of gas and hop right into the gas can. 

Without even stopping to think, he picked up the can and flung it with all of his strength toward the concrete culvert behind our house.  As the gas can was flying over the fence and through the air, it exploded in a giant fireball over the culvert.  Thankfully it hadn't exploded when he'd picked it up and nothing caught on fire.  The explosion did bring out all the neighborhood kids as they excitedly asked one another who had the matches.  Mike quickly ducked down before they could see him and turned back to our yard as though nothing had happened.

I stepped into the backyard as Mike grabbed the garden hose to put out the fire that was quickly spreading to the surrounding grass. Trying to think of the right way to ask what he was thinking, which didn't involve the use of words like "idiot", "moron", and "hair-brained", I peered down at the mound.  Hundreds of worker ants were already crawling out of the mound and rebuilding the damage that had been done to their home.  Mike looked up at me and said with a tone of defeat, "Well..... that didn't exactly go as planned.".   I said "Ummm, yeah.....I think you're gonna need a new gas can........ and better pest control advice.".
by: Christie Bielss

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Camping Trip to Remember.....

tents, tent, college, freshman, orientation, camping

In preparation for my first semester at college, the college required all incoming Freshman to attend Freshman Orientation.  I met 2 of my girlfriends there and we found seats together.  One of the first things the college counselors did was give us a paper to fill out.

The paper consisted of 25 different ways to experience the rigors of college life.  We were to rank each one of the items in order of preference.  The choices ranged from being pushed in a wheelchair for a day, to a weekend of camping. The idea of being pushed around in a wheelchair didn't sound too bad, so I listed it as my first choice.  I continued to make my way through the list and ended up marking the weekend camping trip as my least favorite choice.  Camping is never my first choice unless it involves a hotel room and room service.

The counselors walked us through orientation. At the end of the day, they handed back the paper where we'd listed all of our preferences in numerical order.  As the counselor was handing the list back to us, we were informed they had taken our order of preference and flipped it.  Horrified, I looked at my paper and true to their word, I was going camping.  One of my girlfriends, who loves camping, got the wheelchair choice.  My other friend also got the camping experience.  We asked if we could trade and the counselors refused.  Oh dear heavens, my friend and I were going camping.  There wasn't going to be a hotel or room service.  We were going out to the middle of nowhere Texas with a tent, sleeping bag, canned food, jugs of water and no bathroom other than a shrub or tree.  All three of us were silent as the horror set in.

We met early on the designated morning and car-caravaned to the extremely remote and very hilly location.  Not only did we have to hike to get to our campsite, but we had to take turns carrying the gallon jugs of water, tents, supplies, and all of our own gear.

We finally arrived at our campsite which was located up on a bit of a hill, next to a creek.  There were big trees that created a nice little border around us and a kind of trail that ran down the middle of the campsite. 

We were paired up and handed a 2-person tent with stakes, assigned an area to set it up, and told that each 2 person group had to set up their own tent - there was to be no helping other groups.  I looked at my friend and we got to work.  I had 3 brothers who were in Boy Scouts, so I'd done this countless times in our backyard growing up.  My friend - not so much.

We worked together to lay out the tent properly.  I grabbed the first stake and began to hammer it into the ground.  On the 3rd swing of the hammer, the stake bent in half.  I called out to the counselor and he told us to figure it out.  After trying to hammer out the bend in the stake unsuccessfully for several minutes, one of the young men setting up a tent next to ours discreetly took the stake and was able to wrestle it back into shape.  While the counselor's back was turned, he tried to hammer it into the ground for us.  The stake bent in half again.  The counselor in his brilliance had located our tent on a patch of rock. 

I called out to the counselor and explained our problem.  He grumbled something about girls and tents and straightened out the stake and tried to hammer it into the ground.  The stake bent in half again...... and then broke.  Being that we were at his mercy in the middle of nowhere-ville, we held our tongues while he moved us to the uppermost location in our camp.  Our new location also happened to put us right in the middle of the odd looking trail.  Within minutes of moving our tent, my girlfriend and I had it set up and it survived the counselor's wiggle test.  We were so proud of ourselves!

We were all advised then to zip up all zippers on the tents because we were in tarantula, scorpion, and all sorts of big hairy spider territory and it was the only way to keep them out of our tents and sleeping bags.  We complied with lightning speed and double checked to make sure all zippers were completely closed.

That night after eating our dehyrated dinner with our funny little camping silverware, we climbed into our tent completely exhausted.  With our flashlights, we checked every nook and cranny for spiders and, sufficiently satisfied that we were bug free, crawled into our sleeping bags. 

The camp settled down after a requisite round of "Good night John-Boy.  Good night Mary-Ellen's".  My friend was already asleep and I had just drifted off when I felt a tickle on my leg.  I scratched and went back to dreamland.  A couple of minutes later when I was deep in dreamland, I felt the lightest of tickles on my arm and then.............. I felt a gigantic creature crawling up my arm.  It was nearly to my shoulder when I realized this was no dream!

My eyes flew wide open and I saw a big hairy spider the size of my head staring me eyeball to eyeball.  A blood-curdling scream escaped my lips as my other hand moved to swipe the spider off of me.  Before I had even gotten the ginormous arachnid off me, my sweet, caring, long-time friend of a number of years, jumped straight up out of her sleeping bag.  I thought she was going to lend me aid but instead she ran smack-dab into the tent's center pole support, knocking it over.

She unzipped the multiple zippered opening in world record speed while screaming "SPIDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!".  The tent had not even finished collapsing as she exited.  In her great haste to exit the tent and thus desert her friend who was in great peril (me!), she ripped every single one of the tent's stakes out of the ground.  I was now not only in a collapsed tent, but was wrapped up like a burrito in the this darn thing.... and with Miss Muffet's gigantic spider!

The counselor and other campers ran out of their tents at the sound of her blood curdling screams to immediately slay whatever beast was trying to eat us.  I finally was able to poke my head out of the collapsed remnants of our tent after having to roll around and belly crawl to find the opening. 

The first thing I saw was our fearless counselor and the other campers standing around consoling her and trying to get her to calm down.  I called out "HELLO?!!! Can somebody please help me get out of here?!".  The group then realized I hadn't been carted away and eaten by a mountain lion or other wild beast or monster, and helped untangle me from the wreck of our tent.

The men checked the tent inch by inch but the spider was not there.  They checked me over to make sure it wasn't in my hair, and thank you sweet Lord, it wasn't.  They checked my friend and she was free and clear.  The spider had obviously met his match in my friend and had high-tailed it out of there.  I could understand why.

The young men in our group kindly reset the center support pole in our tent and hammered the stakes back in the ground for us.  After we had crawled back into our tent, they ever so carefully zipped all of our zippers closed ensuring we didn't have any more night-time visitors.
We finally drifted off to sleep again and in the wee small hours of the morning, my friend and I were both awakened at the same time by an odd sound.  clop, clop, clop, clop ........ snort ...... huff, huff .........................  Oh, what the heck is it now?!!  And then our tent started to shake. We could see by the way the walls of our tent were moving that animals were brushing up against the sides as they were moving  past!  

Within seconds our tent was in the middle of a herd of cattle that was nearly stampeding to the local watering hole!  That dadgum counselor had set our tent right in the middle of a cattle trail and we were in danger of being trampled if the tent collapsed!  The counselor yelled from his tent "Do NOT leave your tent! There is a bull and he does NOT like people!  He will try to kill you!". 

Oh, this trip was just getting better by the minute!  First a spider the size of a Volkswagon and now a herd of cattle with a bull that's mean enough to be used for the Professional Bull Rider's circuit?! I was afraid to ask what next.  All I wanted was a hotel room and a nice hot bath.

After a little bit, the herd finally passed and happily splashed around in the water.  The cattle got their fill of water and made their way back up to their pasture in small groups.  As the danger passed, we drifted off to sleep again.

The next day was full of climbing hills several hundred feet high, doing team-building activities, looking at live scorpions and rattlesnake skin that had been shed (shiver), and we learned to pee in the wilderness without wetting our shoes or exposing our backside to the entire group. 

We finished that camping trip, passed Freshman Orientation with flying colors, and drove home. That was my last time camping. My friend, on the other hand, goes camping regularly. I think that's because she discovered how to get out of a tent faster than a speeding bullet.

by: Christie Bielss

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Iron Men vs Athletes

football, athlete, NFL job, dishwasher    trash, waste management, garbage

Lately around my house our discussions have revolved around news reports of local sports figures.  From basketball, to football, to baseball, it's about this athlete, or that coach, or something about a team's owner, it's the talk of the town.  Sports is a given for part of our daily conversation because both my husband and I do like sports, but I started thinking (always dangerous!) and wondered why sports figures and celebrities capture most of our attention while the people who make life more comfortable for us we completely disregard.  Shouldn't we focus at least some of our attention on the "dirty jobs" people of the world? 

Imagine if instead of giving so much tv time to men who get paid big bucks to play childrens' games and then act like spoiled 2 year olds, ESPN's SportsCenter produces an end-0f-week wrap-up using "dirty jobs" workers showcasing their sports talents.  Trash collectors could do a flash mob dance for having de-stinkified a city.  Isn't tossing trash bags similar to the shot put?  They could dance gangnam style to Hank Williams, Jr. performing his "All My Rowdy Friends" song.  Or maybe the sewer or septic tank cleaner people could do their best impersonation of Michael Jackson's moonwalk after having cleared someone's clogged septic line or city sewer pipes of ........ ickiness.  This job seems akin to shuffle board or tug-of-war.  The ground they stand on would certainly provide a surface conducive to easily sliding their feet for the dance and the song "Thriller" seems appropriate.   Or how about about a dishwasher jumping into the arms of the waiters/waitresses after he's finished cleaning all the dishes in a restaurant, like players do into the stands when they score a touchdown.  After all, isn't flinging dishes around in a kitchen similar to the discus throw?  I think the "Rocky" theme song might be appropriate.

Honestly, I don't know how these men do these jobs - but shouldn't giant kudos go out to them? Aren't these men the everyday equivalents of Iron Men?  They may not be able to pull a 747 by themselves but I know I'd never make it climbing onto the back of a garbage truck before the stench of the truck itself would either make me toss my cookies or I'd pass out, especially during a hot Texas summer.  And if I did actually make it onto the truck, I'm sure I wouldn't last long with having to heft people's garbage and do step-aerobics getting on/off the truck all day.  I'm huffing and puffing after 10 minutes just watching Richard Simmons exercise in "Sweating to the Oldies". 

And how do people react to the guy who works for the city sewer or septic tank company when they find out what his occupation is?  Do they immediately take a step back, start mouth breathing, and douse themselves in the nearest hand-sanitizer?  Would they be looking at his shoes to make sure he didn't bring a little bit of "work" home with him?  But without his services, we'd still be using outhouses.  I've never used an outhouse but I had to use a Port-A-Potty once and have been scarred for life ever since.

As for the dishwasher, well, I don't even like washing the dinner dishes for my own family, much less for hundreds of people at a restaurant.  By the end of my shift, I'm sure I'd be screaming for Marge from the old Palmolive commercials to come and treat my dishpan hands, or maybe for Calgon to take me awaaaayyyyyy.

These occupations, as well as many others, could be a weekly piece of tv sports broadcasting that I would definitely make sure to tune in to.  When you think of all the contributions these people make that help to ensure our everyday comfort, health and well-being, it leaves you wondering where we'd be as a society without them.  I'm thinking we might still be living in caves, dragging our knuckles, and grunting.

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, April 8, 2013

Perfume Encounters

sales, spray, encounter, perfume

I like going to the big department stores and walking around looking at the latest styles and accessories.  I usually prefer to go on a weekday morning because the sales staff isn't overrun with lots of customers and they're happy to wait on you, although it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming with all of the salespeople asking "can I help you".

Recently I had to depart from my normal morning shopping time and make a trip in the afternoon.  It had obviously been a very slow sales day at the store as I was again overwhelmed with all of the salespeople.  As I made my way to the makeup counter to pick up some lipstick, out of the blue I got hit with a walk-by-spraying.  I'm sure you've seen the lovely young ladies who ask if you'd like to try their  perfume and, before you can respond, you get sprayed.  That's exactly what happened to my little unsuspecting self on that day. 

As I was coughing and sneezing from the trigger-happy perfume bomber, she asked what I thought of the fragrance designed by What's-her-name, the infamous model/actress.  I told her I thought it was a most interesting combination.  With her interest peaked, I went on to explain that it was a richly blended concoction of eau-de-skunk and kid's gym clothes which had not been washed in nearly a year, with a little after-taste of what's been lurking at the back of your refrigerator that's grown into an alien life form.  The perfume sniper was quite deflated.

The whole experience reminded me of when my neighbor's Chihuahua got sprayed by a skunk.  The poor unsuspecting dog was doing his business in the backyard and was in a most compromising position when he got bushwhacked by Pepe Le Pew.  Lucky for the dog, our neighbors called and we had tomato juice and V8 juice and were able to neutralize the horrific stench.  I wasn't so lucky and I could've really used a V8 at that moment.

The sneezing fits I was experiencing from the perfume terrorist wouldn't stop, and nearly out of tissues, I headed out to my car and tried using hand sanitizing wipes to wipe down the saturated areas of skin and clothing.  Not even alcohol based wipes could get rid of the smell.  And, with the scent of the wipes mingling with the perfume, I now smelled like a New York taxi cab.  I gave up and started driving home.  I had barely pulled out of the parking lot when a green cloud engulfed the interior of my car.  It became so thick I was forced to roll down the car windows to be able to breathe, which had unintended positive results.  The whole way home, through horrible road construction and rush hour traffic, I didn't have a single car tailgate me....... matter of fact, they all seemed to give me a very wide berth that day. 

by: Christie Bielss

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Study in Hearts Beating as One

love, in love, heart, hearts, beating, beat, study

A psychology professor out of UC Davis recently released a  study on couples in romantic relationships.  He found that when couples were sitting several feet apart and facing one another, but not touching or speaking, their heart rates were in-sync and they breathed in and out at the same intervals.  When moved apart, their bodies continued to stay as one. 

When these same couples were switched with unfamiliar partners, none of their heart rates or respirations were in-sync.  They also discovered in the course of this study that women adjusted their body's heart rate and breathing more to fit their partner's than men's bodies do.

In other words, when we are together with the right partner, our bodies are in perfect harmony, and the woman picks up her partner's slack so they stay in harmony.  

I can see that last theory because even after being together for nearly 25 years, my husband and I work together:  he leaves the toilet seat up and I put it down.  He sets a fresh roll of toilet paper right on top of the empty cardboard tube and I replace it.  He will hand me my raincoat and the dog leash with his free hand, while using the remote to change tv channels with his other, when the dog needs to go for a walk on a rainy day.  

And our heart rates can really get in-sync when I discover I'm the only person in the house who knows that the dirty dishes go in the dishwasher.  Or, when there is one piece of chocolate left and he picks it up, you can bet we are in perfect sync then.

As for our respirations, I'm sure they have been in perfect harmony many times, especially when the kids were babies.  While holding his breath, he would hand me a stinky baby who desperately needed a diaper change, which would cause me to hold my breath.  

See, perfect harmony. It's good to know schools are still conducting great informational studies like this one.

by: Christie Bielss

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Under Surveillance

surveillance, camera, security

No matter where you go these days, you almost always see security cameras.  My kids' favorite are the ones with the video monitor positioned so you can see yourself.  My kids like to make silly faces or dance a little jig and then laugh at one another.  It's a pretty funny sight and one I should videotape myself to use as parental blackmail later on in their lives - like before their first date.

As for me?  Those monitors always make me want to run and hide.  When I see my reflection, I usually have a grey pallor to my skin, have circles so dark under my eyes it looks like I've been on a 6 month drinking binge, and somehow there's just enough shadowing so it looks like I've grown a beard.

Both my bank and credit union have installed 2 way cameras  at all of their drive-through kiosk lanes.  It's  very disconcerting to see myself straining against the anaconda-like stranglehold my seatbelt has on me as I'm trying to reach out of my car window to grab the little banking canister.  I certainly understand them needing to see me but why on earth do I need to see myself?  If I want to see myself, isn't that what my rearview mirror is for?  I'm pretty sure the Department of Public Safety's driving manual says: the rearview mirror is for applying lipstick, quick hair checks, swiping under the eyes for dropped mascara, making sure there are no salt remnants left around your lips after eating some McDonald's french fries, and the occasional check to see who is actually driving behind you. 

When I look at my reflection in these bank cameras it makes me wonder if I really do have a chin that extends halfway down my chest, but I'm pretty sure it's just camera distortion.  If I did have that kind of double/triple chin, does the bank really think I'd want to look at that while I'm waiting for my money to be deposited or withdrawn?  If they're going to force me to look at myself, can't they at least supply me with a single use lipstick, blush, and a hair brush? They could place it in one of the slots right next to the blank deposit slips in the drive-thru.  They could even label the slots so all are aware "Checking Deposit...... Savings Deposit...... Christie's Video Banking Enhancement set".

The thought also crosses my mind that should something happened to me, the police could retrace my path for the day and discover this tape.  It's enough of a fright to make me want to avoid the bank altogether.  I can already envision the local television news anchor's description of the tape:  "Please watch the bank's videotape of this missing woman and see if you can help the police locate her.  As you can see, she was at the bank and had pulled a little too far forward and is having to perform a gymnastics backbend with a full twist using one hand to hold the car door slightly open while keeping her foot on the brake and grasping the bank canister with her other hand.  I'm sure that 2 foot long flap of skin below her chin is just camera distortion and the unflattering angle they positioned the camera.  I bet the lack of make-up and unkempt hair is pretty close to accurate though.  Back to you, Jim.".

The only thing worse would be if someone found me because I looked exactly like the bank's videotape.  The tv news reporter would be interviewing "Bubba" who found me: "Ayep.  I's found her up yonder a'ways.  Durned if she din't look 'xactly like dat der bank camera thang.  E'en had dat der 2 foot long turkey wattle under her chin jist like da camera showt.  She wuz mumblin' incoherent-like sumtin 'bout bank cameras.".

No, I would prefer it if they showed a picture of me when I was 25, slender and had 1 chin, with a caveat from the news anchor saying the photo was "not recent and from a few years back".

Obviously these new surveillance cameras are the wave of the future.  Maybe I could be more open to all this new technology if the security cameras came equipped with some preferred features........ like an "enhance image" icon where all you have to do is touch the screen and the circles under your eyes disappear, your hair is smoothed, a bit of blush is added to your cheeks, and it clones out the turkey wattle.

Or maybe an even better idea would be to give me an option of allowing me to superimpose a really great looking actress over my reflection.  I'm a redhead, I think Julia Roberts would be my perfect twin.  Why, that might even make me want to roll all of my kids' pennies, just so I could go through the bank drive-thru.  It wouldn't surprise me if I became a daily customer:  "Why yes, I'd like to deposit 1 roll of pennies into my account.  And I'd like to select Julia Roberts as my reflected image for the day.".   And if I really wanted to be adventurous, I could be Jennifer Anniston or Sandra Bullock that day.  Now this could be a security camera system I would most definitely support!

by: Christie Bielss