Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

It's that time of year again when people follow the time-honored tradition of making resolutions for the New Year.  There seem to only be two sides to the New Year's resolution debate:  to make a resolution, or to resolve not to resolve. 

Resolutions, Change

Last year, after many years of failed resolutions, I chose to make no resolution whatsoever.  With this choice came a great sense of freedom.  Freedom to do what I wanted, if I wanted, without worrying about whether or not I was going to have regrets at the end of the year.

With the new year beginning in a few hours, I have taken a hard look back at the past year.  Instead of having resolutions which urged me to diet and exercise to lose a few pounds, attempts to stay organized, and half-hearted efforts to do daily devotions as I have done in years past, this year I look back and see................... nothing.

Apparently for me, having no resolution makes me quite the overachiever at........... not doing squat.  Yes, I started this blog, but technically that was under duress and more to pacify certain unnamed individuals.  Who knew I'd actually have fun doing it?!  But, it still doesn't count because I didn't actively seek to do it.  I also lost some much needed weight.  But again, that was because I got sick in the summer and not because of a great exercise and diet routine.

So, as we get ready to ring in the New Year, I am not going to make a resolution again this year, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to do something.  To quote Tony Robbins "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten...".  With that in mind, in this New Year I am choosing to work on things within me.

I read about one of my friends who chooses a single word which describes how they are going to handle life in the New Year.  I like that idea and will definitely be incorporating it into my plan.  As a matter of fact, I liked it so much that the single word I will be using hit me instantly.  For 2014 my outlook towards situations will be "Faithful".

With being faithful, I also recognize a couple of things that I want to work on.  Notice I'm not using the word "change"?  With the idea to do things differently means I don't have to be perfect.  I don't have to lose 3 dress sizes, or eat vegetables more than I eat chocolate.  No, what I'm going for this year is recognizing my imperfections, embracing them, and creating workable solutions around them.

I haven't quite figured out how this is going to work out but I can tell you that for me, a life without some form of goal, is a life of complete laziness.  And that is just not how I feel I should be living.  As Thomas Edison said so eloquently "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."  I have given up on things way too many times and it's time to get off that train's tracks.

I have a fire burning inside of me and I'm not quite sure what sparked it or how long it will last, but hang onto your hats because for 2014, I'm letting go and coming unleashed from the ties I've allowed to bind me.  Yes, 2014 will be the year that I am not going to give up.  This may be an interesting ride..........

Christie Bielss

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

For Christmas last year my children decided they wanted a puppy.  They promised to take care of her, tend to all of her needs, and love her and protect her.  For the most part, they have done a fabulous job.  The dog is alive and healthy, so in my way of thinking, that counts as a success.

Holidays, Pets, Gifts

For Christmas this year, they both decided they were ready to take on more pet responsibilities.  My husband and I haven't been so excited about turning our home into a zoo, but agreed to it nonetheless.  After doing quite a bit of research, we found a few pets who are a bit less maintenance than a dog ..... and pets that we would be willing to accept responsibility for if they actually lived until my kids hit college.

With a new animal being added almost daily to our household, it has kind of reminded me of the Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas".   So, in honor of my new zookeeper status and the Christmas season, I have rewritten the lyrics to this most popular Christmas tune so as to find the humor amongst the barking, glub-glubbing, pig-squealing chaos.

"On the first day of Christmas my children gave to me, a dog who really likes to pee ....everywhere. 

On the second day of Christmas my children gave to me, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee....boy is it everywhere.

On the third day of Christmas my children gave to me, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee ..... on the furniture.

On the fourth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee ......no place is safe.

On the fifth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 5 neon Tetra fish..... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee.......... argh, not the sofa!

On the sixth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish..... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee ........and now poop.

On the seventh day of Christmas my children gave to me, 7 days of guinea pig medicine, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish.... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee ......and poops on my magazine.

On the eighth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 8 leashes to walk their critters, 7 days of guinea pig medicine, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish.......... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee ......good heavens what are we feeding this dog?!

On the ninth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 9 special animal foods to purchase, 8 leashes to walk their critters, 7 days of guinea pig medicine, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish.......... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee....... oh lordy, it's getting deep.

On the tenth day of Christmas my children gave to me, a 10 gallon fish tank, 9 animal foods to purchase, 8 leashes to walk their critters, 7 days of guinea pig medicine, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish........ 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee....... I'm swimming here.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my children gave to me, 11 pooper-scoopers, 10 gallon fish tank, 9 animal foods to purchase, 8 leashes to walk their critters, 7 days of guinea pig medicine, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish.......... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who really likes to pee and poop........ I may need a bulldozer.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 12 cages to clean, 11 pooper-scoopers, 10 gallon fish tank, 9 animal foods to purchase, 8 leashes to walk critters, 7 days of guinea pig medicine, 6 broken fish tank pumps, 5 neon Tetra fish....... 4 different lizards, 3 veterinary bills, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog who has drowned me in pee......... and poop.

From my crazy zoo to you, The Redhead Sez wishes you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one of you!  May your days be blessed and may you feel the love, joy, and comfort of the season.

Christie Bielss

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Spirit

"Patience is a virtue".  How I hate that phrase.  Whenever someone says it, all I want to do is scream "HELLO?!! I'm a redhead!  I have ZERO patience!".  There have been so many times in my life when I have wished God had gifted me with patience, but, for whatever reason, He didn't. 

Christmas, Magic

Since patience seems like it could be something you can pattern into your psyche, I made the decision to try and practice it when I'd rather scream and rant.  I figured it may not take completely but if I could knock my stress level down a notch or two, that could be considered a moral victory.  I'm pretty sure God, having a great sense of humor, said "Yeah, right!  Let's see how committed you really are!" and immediately tested my level of commitment within moments of me making that proclamation.

My daughter and I were in the car headed up to the grocery store to restock my pantry since my son has been eating us out of house and home.  Driving around our city on a good day can be aggravating with our great diversity of horrendously bad drivers on the road, but during the holidays it seems like these people drive even worse (if that's even possible) and there seem to be lots more of them.  When you combine these terrible drivers with all of the out-of-town drivers who don't know their way around, it's a recipe for serious aggravation and road rage.

So, as we were making our way down a multi-lane road, we kept having to go around drivers who were doing 25mph in 40mph+ speed zones.  My jaw was set as I was determined to just go about my errand and not be cranky.  Apparently I wasn't doing that great of a job controlling my aggravation since my daughter patted my hand and said "Hmmmm, there seem to be a lot of slow drivers out today Mom.  We'll get there".

Not sure how many times I've said those last 3 words to my daughter when she's running full-tilt to get to something she's excited about, but it sure does stink having it spit back at you.  I inhaled deeply and forced myself to relax.  We finally made it to the stoplight where we turn right.......... and sitting smack-dab in front of me is an out-of-stater who is wanting to go straight....... in the right turn only lane.

Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!  I started thinking "Christmas spirit........... Christmas spirit............ Christmas spirit.........".  I guess I was thinking it so hard, I actually said it out loud.  My daughter looked at me and started cracking up.  She then leaned over and kissed my hand and started rubbing my shoulder as she said "That's right Mom!  Smile and get the Christmas spirit!  At some point the light will change and then somebody from the other lane will run him off the road as he tries to weasel his way in from the wrong lane.  See!  Happy place!".

Now she had me laughing since that was pretty darn close to what I was thinking!  The light finally changed and as we (and 20 cars stuck behind us) turned right, we could hear the cars honking with great gusto at the person who had been in front of us as they did the bumper shuffle to see who would let the out-of-stater into their lane.  We giggled to ourselves as we made our way up to the next stop light so we could turn into the grocery store.  This time though we were turning left.

As the light changed and we started turning, out of nowhere the car from the middle lane decides that he needs to grocery shop and nearly side-swipes us in his zeal to replenish his milk and bread reserves.  As I laid on my car's horn and expertly dodged this moron's vehicle, my daughter yells at the other driver "Hey!  You can't turn from there!  Can't you read?!"

Laughing hysterically, I looked over at my daughter and patted her hand as I said "Christmas spirit, dear!  Christmas spirit!".  She smiled broadly as she said "Not when it's on my side, Mom!"........

Christie Bielss

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


When I was a kid I was so excited for the day I would finally learn to drive.  Driving would give me the freedom to get to where I needed to be on time, with the added benefit of being able to hang out with my friends whenever, and wherever, I wanted.  Oh how the elation and sheer excitement coursed through my body when I was legally able to register for Driver's Ed!

Driver's Ed
Photo copyright:  Ildar Sagdejev

My Driver's Ed course was taught through my high school.  My instructor was the incredibly fabulous and famous, Mr. Pursel.  He had the greatest sense of humor and was, quite honestly, one of the bravest men I've known.  Considering the number of cars he got in which were being driven by scores of horrendously awful and grossly over-eager 15 year olds, the man probably should've received the Medal of Honor. 

Of course, Mr. Pursel did have a chicken break and extra steering wheel, so in the event he started to see his life flash before his eyes, he could retake control and prevent his own premature demise.  He never had to use either of those when I was driving though.  I was a very good driver........ for the most part.  Now the other 2 young ladies I was paired up with (who were also very good friends)...... well, let's just say they gave us memories to cherish for a lifetime, although I think  psychologists would say the clinical definition of these memories are "flashbacks".

I was wishing I had my own chicken brake and steering wheel in the backseat when my friends drove.  One of my friends liked to get to her destination early.............. very, very early.  My other girlfriend and I would be sitting quietly in the backseat with eyes as big as saucers and holding onto anything we could grab hold of as we'd hear Mr. Pursell speak in progressively louder tones "Now, you're going a bit too fast and need to slow down here.  Ok, it's time to slow down.  Slow it down.......SLOW DOWN!!!!!!!!  And that's when Mr. Pursel would pull the chicken brake sending us into a fishtailing slide.

My other friend didn't have a speeding problem, it was more of a directional issue.  She liked to drive straight........... even when the road curved.  Yeah, apologies sent to the many homeowner's yards and landscapes which were rearranged by her great desire to make her own path through the bends in the road.

As for me, well, my problem was always the same:  a manual transmission car at a stoplight.........on a big hill.  I am pretty darn sure Mr. Pursell had a clicker which changed a certain blasted stoplight to red EVERY.SINGLE.TIME I got anywhere near it.  I'm not quite sure how many hours we spent on that hill, but suffice it to say there were many drivers who had to back up and go around us at that blasted stoplight.  Heck, we spent so much time on that hill my friends were asking Mr. Pursel if they could get out and walk over to the Jack in the Box to get us all a soda and walk back.  They were that sure we weren't going anywhere any time soon.

Looking back on these experiences though isn't really much different than what my Great-Grandmother experienced the very first time she got behind the wheel of a car.  She grew up with a horse and buggy and that's what she "drove" for most of her life.  Then one day in the early 1900's, one of my Great Uncles came home with their first car.  He put her behind the wheel and my Grandmother said you could see the excitement all over her face.

She courageously got behind the wheel of the car and they showed her how to make it go.  As she stepped on the gas pedal, she yelled "Giddy-Up!" and wouldn't you know, the horses under that hood got going!  They said you could hear her giggling and laughing all the way down the drive and out onto the street.

What they forgot to show her was how to stop.  As she went down the street and was ready for this contraption to stop, she couldn't figure out what to do.  In a panic she did what she'd been taught to do all her life:  she pulled back hard on that steering wheel and started screaming "WHOA!  WHOA, I SAID!".  After my Great Uncles picked themselves up off the ground from laughing themselves silly, they chased her down and showed her how to stop.  I'm guessing this is when the chicken brake was invented.........

Christie Bielss

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Self-Destructing in 3.....2......

I have a love-love relationship with computers. I love them when they are working and I'd love to take a sledgehammer to them when they aren't.  As you might have already guessed, with this kind of relationship my luck with computers has generally been not so wonderful.

That streak continued on the Friday before Thanksgiving when my computer self-destructed.  I got up that morning and pushed the power button to start the computer up.  I saw the blue light blink itself awake and heard the fan start up.  Knowing my computer would take the better part of 30 minutes to completely power up, I stepped back into the kitchen and made myself breakfast.

Yes, I know.  For a computer to take 30 minutes to boot up means my computer was having issues, however, I really didn't want to think about having to purchase a new system.  No, I was quite happy to keep my head firmly implanted deep in the sand and just think of my computer as getting old and a smidge persnickety.  In reality, it was a worn out bucket of bolts so antiquated it was starting to fossilize.

I took the computer in for repairs and they discovered the motherboard, graphics cards, power supply, cooling fan, and external ports, were all toast.  The computer had self-destructed.  The techs looked at me with great sadness and said "Ma'am, we're sorry, but it's gone.  It's not cost-effective to replace every single part of the computer".

It was like losing a pet. I was stunned and sad.  I really thought it just needed a new power supply or graphics card.  They told me they could recycle the computer but the thought of leaving it with strangers to be torn apart was just too difficult of a decision to make right then.  I carried my computer ever so carefully out of the store, gently placed it in my car, and sighed so many times my children stroked my back and told me it would all be ok.

Never having been one to willingly embrace the changes in technology, the thought of having to research and learn what the best processors, graphics cards, memory, and operating systems are was just too daunting, if not flat-out overwhelming.  The computer and tech companies seem to launch some new gadget every week.  How am I, just a normal non-tech saavy person, supposed to learn all of this information, retain it, and be able to converse with the highly tech-saavy salespeople in the computer stores and not look like a moron?

Determined to do right by my old computer, and with the theme from Rocky playing in the background, the first thing I did was do some research online.  There was so much information on the web with so many reviews, it made my brain hurt. With all of this information swirling around in my brain to the point that I didn't know "sick-'em" from "come here", I decided that the best course of action was to go to Sam's Club where there's never a salesperson to wait on you and read the little info cards they have attached with each computer system.  I wanted to see if I could attach all the information swirling around in my head with an affordable computer system.

As I walked around Sam's I was getting so overwhelmed that I was ready to give up.  It was then that I decided it was time to bring in the big guns.  I was going to use my "phone-a-friend" life line.  Thankfully my friend is also a redhead, so he understands my eccentricities and knew to expect a vast array of questions......... and I'm sure I lived up to my redheadedness by driving him nuts with the five million questions I asked.

He quickly (although I'm pretty sure he would say "quickly" is not exactly accurate since it took me the better part of a week to settle on a computer) compartmentalized everything which was wandering aimlessly around in my head.  With great confidence......... and my cell phone in-hand so I could text him instantly ....... I walked into the computer store.  I was approached by the computer salesman and with a condescending smile he asked "So, do we know what we are looking for today?".

*Rant:  Starting off a conversation with a redhead, especially one which involves you making a sale from my tight-fisted little hand, and which begins with a condenscending attitude, will almost always get you a bit of redheaded attitude smacked upside your ignorant head. *End Rant

I replied, "Well.... if you are buying little old me a computer today, then I'd have to defer to what you think is best.  But, if you aren't actually purchasing me a computer and you are actually trying to make a sale and thus are asking me if I know what I am looking for, then yes, I do have an idea as to what I am interested in.  The question now is whether you actually know what I am looking for.".

I had picked up the gauntlet he had thrown down and slapped him across the face with it, signifying I did indeed understand some of today's technology and wouldn't need to be led around by the hand............ my friend had already been generous enough to do that in a very kind and patient manner, thank you very much.  The salesman then asked me what I was looking for specifically.

I smiled inside as I watched the expression change on his face as I said ever so sweetly, "I'm looking for a system which has ......" and spouted off all of the components I needed.  When I got to the end of my list, his eyebrows were raised and his condescending attitude had turned to one of respectfulness.  He immediately started showing me systems which had most of the components I asked for. 

He also tried to talk me into buying a new touch-screen monitor to go with the tower.  I explained to him that while that state-of-the-art technology is really nifty, as a photographer, having fingerprints on a monitor is not conducive to production as it will generally mean I try to clone out dirt spots on a photo for 10 minutes before realizing it's a smudge on the monitor and not the photo. Touchscreen technology and photography just do not mix for me right now.  In the end, the system the store had which would have met my needs was out of stock.

A lot of stores later (and many more text messages to my friend - bless his heart for not going insane with my hundreds of questions), I found a good computer.  Unfortunately, it came with Windows 8, which is a far cry from the Windows Vista operating system that I'd been using for the past 5 1/2 years.  Yes, Vista was a dinosaur but it was easy to learn! It has taken me the better part of 2 weeks to figure out Windows 8 enough to use it more than just to check my Facebook account, and it took me 2 days just to learn how to do that!

Yes, new technology is a beast to understand for those of us who are not quite tech saavy.  But, I now have a new computer (pictured at the top of the post) which is up and running in under a minute, and one I am hoping will last me another 5 years so I don't have to go back through all this mind-numbing tech-speak for quite some time.  But, I do have to admit that while Windows 8 was terrible, my computer just updated to the new Windows 8.1 and I like it.  Yes, it has a learning curve, but it's really, really cool.  I guess new technology isn't all bad.......... it's just the process of understanding it, purchasing it, and learning how to use it that can do you in.

Christie Bielss