Monday, July 28, 2014

The Queen of Organization

I would love to be organized.  To walk into my kitchen and not see a stack of junk mail, bills, and other statements sitting in a pile would make my heart deliriously happy.  To sit next to my computer and not have to constantly restack the pile of junk that keeps falling over onto my keyboard would make me more productive.  I look at everything around me and wonder "Am I ADD or ADHD?".  And then I remember "No, I'm just lazy.".

paint, office, guest room, clutter
The original paint color in my office/guest room
I can organize just about anyone else's closet, office, kitchen, etc..  When it comes to my own piles of stuff everywhere, it just makes me want to put on blinders and go hide in a hole.  The amount of "stuff" is overwhelming and the fact that I have to think about whether to keep it or toss it makes my brain bleed.

clutter, organizing, office,
Desk Disarray

We moved into our current home 3 years ago.  3 years and I still have unopened boxes in my formal dining room.  3 years of not being able to figure out, or really care to figure out, how to organize this home.  3 years of looking at such ugly colored walls inside the house that I haven't cared whether it's straightened up or not.

clutter, organizing, decluttering, craft room
Just a few things in the middle of the floor

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Humdinger of a Sale

My first real part-time job was at the age of 16 as a cashier at a national discount store way back in the early 80's.  Back in that day, you had to key in all of the code numbers on a price tag in order to ring up the price.  Because the store didn't want customers waiting in long lines at the cash register, they required you to undergo 10-key-by-touch training, shoplifter security training, and pass a test before they'd allow you to work for them.  

shopping, store, Target, cashier, job
Public Domain image courtesy of

In addition to the training , we also had to learn the preset phrases for greeting customers, taking their money, and closing their purchase.  "Hi! How are you today?  Will this be cash, check, or charge today?", "Your total purchase today is.....", and that ever popular "Thank you and have a nice day!" still stick with me 30+ years later.  Those phrases became so ingrained in me, I could spout them without even having to think about it. 

Being a cashier, I got to meet all sorts of people.  I had customers who were friendly, unfriendly and some who were grossly over-friendly.  Ones who questioned every price on every item, and others who would add one of everything from the point-of-purchase display in the checkout line.  Even had some who only put one item at a time on the conveyor belt so they could watch you ring up every part of their purchase.

Some jobs are mundane and boring, but this job definitely had its funny moments.  When store security would be hot on the trail of a shoplifter and the person in question would come through my lane, I'd invariably get a phone call from security.

I'd answer the phone and hear "We are following a white female in your line who has shoved clothes down her pants to make a fake fat butt.  She has on a very large pair of carpenter pants that are bulging at every pocket and a purple top that has items stuffed under it to make her look like she's pregnant.".

With a comical description like that I had to glance at the people standing in my line to see if I could pick the thief out of the line-up.  Security on the phone would yell "Don't look!".  I'd reply with a "Sooooo what?  You're just calling to say I shouldn't ask what her due-date is?". 

I even had funny family moments.  Like when a husband and wife with 8 daughters in tow decided to take advantage of that week's sale.  Each daughter had a grocery cart, as did each parent.  Each one of those carts was fully loaded with maxi pads....... and not a single price sticker on any of the boxes.

That poor father of 8 not only had to be in a train of carts pushing feminine hygiene products through the entire store, but then had to stand there while I paged on the store intercom for a price check on maxi pads for Lane 8.  I apologized to the man.  He smiled and said "It's not a problem, I just keep thinking of how much money I'm saving.  With 8 girls, plus my wife, there's always someone with a raging case of PMS, so a price check is really no big deal in comparison.".

The all-time funniest experience in that job, and yet most embarrassing for a young naive 16 year old girl, was when a single man came through my line.  I greeted him with the well ingrained company line of "Good Evening! How are you today?", and proceeded to begin ringing up his small number of items. 

To this day I still remember that transaction.  A 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola, a bag of Doritos, a big bag Hershey's Kisses and under the bag of chocolate was a box of condoms.  I tried to hide my mirth and remain professional throughout the transaction. Quite proud that I'd held myself in check, and without thinking, I concluded the sale with the company line "Thank you and have a nice evening!".

With a grin on his face and a wink of his eye, he replied "Thank you!  I'm planning on it........".  This young redhead blushed bright red from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  And that's when I learned that sometimes a simple "Thank you" is more than enough.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Send in the Clowns

My daughter, like so many girly-girls, loves to do crafts. She loves it so much that in the name of taming some of the chaos, I finally broke down and devoted an entire shelf in a closet to all of her crafting supplies.  One day while I was painting our guest bedroom ceiling, she asked if she could do some crafting. Thrilled at the thought of her staying occupied and out of the paint, I gave her the go-ahead. She was so excited and quickly decided to make a new magnet for the refrigerator.

creepy clowns, scary clowns
Public Domain Image "Clown Face" by
She worked hard on that magnet for a solid hour.  With different colored felt squares and other leftover pieces from other craft projects, she made a clown face.  With great fanfare she announced her completion of the project and quickly hung it on the refrigerator for all to see.

I tried to show excitement over her cleverly crafted artwork.  I did my best to swallow the lump in my throat and the goosebumps that were quickly raising up on my skin.  She had worked so hard and so diligently, but my enthusiasm was a bit lacking.

I'll admit it:  clowns creep me out.  It's like they're hiding some kind of evil behind all of that weird face paint and the goofy looking rainbow colored wigs.

I stood in the kitchen with a smile plastered on my face as I told my daughter what a great job she had done.  I searched for the positives of having Bozo the Clown on the refrigerator.  The only thing I could come up with was that it would definitely deter between meal snacking.

Many hours later after my daughter had unveiled her piece of art, I noticed Creepy the Clown was sitting a bit wonky.  It's bad enough to see a clown on the refrigerator, but it takes on a new level of eerie when it's looking at you with its head cocked to one side.  I went to straighten The Joker but it didn't budge.

Figuring the magnet was a bit stronger than I'd anticipated, I got a better grip and tugged harder. It still didn't move.  I tried to push up on the side that was sagging.  No luck.  I tried pushing down and even side-to-side.  That blasted clown wasn't budging.

Bozo the Clown sat there with its pom-pom eyes and creepy, crooked smile, taunting me to try and straighten him out. Childhood nightmares started flooding back and haunting me with each futile attempt to move this ghoulish creation.  My imagination ran wild as I envisioned a clown army arriving in one tiny Volkswagen ready to launch an invasion on my home.

With the hair standing up on the back of my neck like a scared cat, I yelled for my daughter.  She quickly arrived in the kitchen and I pointed to her clown that had gone askew.  She laughed and reached up to move it.  Creepy the Clown did not even move a fraction of an inch. 

"Ok, that's weird", she said.  She grabbed hold of the clown by the sides of its face and pulled with all of her might.  All of a sudden, the clown's head separated from the magnet causing my daughter to fall back a couple of steps. 

'Dear heavens, she's decapitated the thing!', I thought.  I just knew the clown minions were going to be knocking down our door any minute.

But wait!  She had decapitated it.  Technically, the evil clown was dead.  He couldn't get on his funny phone and call in the Volkswagen cavalry now.  The only thing he was good for now was the trash can.

I started to breathe again when I realized that much like when Dorothy threw the bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz", this clown's reign of terror was over.

What remained of the artwork on the refrigerator explained why the clown hadn't moved when we'd tried to reposition him.  It totally explained its creepy, sinister look of glee.

Apparently my husband had accidentally put a bottle of Super Glue in my daughter's crafting supplies instead of in his supplies.  When she created The Joker and carefully placed him on the refrigerator, he thought he would have the last laugh by permanently adhering himself to a surface where he could cast evil grins for the next 15+ years. 

We had foiled the crazy clown's plot.  His caper was discovered and he was where he belonged - in the trash.  But, there was still a lot of Super Glue stuck to my refrigerator, which meant I would always remember what had once been there.

I knew I had to eliminate all traces of him so I could open the refrigerator door without trepidation.  With just a few simple keystrokes and the power of Google, I had the answer to removing him from my life permanently.

I quickly got to work.  A few dabs of acetone-based nail polish remover and his creepy smile was turned upside down as the Super Glue was quickly removed, along with any trace of his presence.  Creepy the Clown was off to the local landfill and my refrigerator was now shiny and clean.  His reign of terror was now conquered, the clown army was defeated before it ever had a chance to organize, and their clown Volkswagen was just another heap of metal in the local junkyard.

In the battle of Redheads vs. Clowns:  This time the Redhead -1; and Creepy Clown - 0.

Written by Christie Bielss

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fitness Fanatic

At my last doctor's appointment, with no prompting whatsoever, my doctor informed me that I was "cleared" to start working out in a gym.  "What do you mean I'm cleared for the gym?", I grumbled "I only asked about swimming."  I wasn't overly thrilled with this clearance, but my family and friends said it would be a good thing.  They said it was necessary.  They even said it was time.  All of them assured me I would feel better and maybe even stronger.  I was told I'd have more energy and I'd build muscle to replace what Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease was slowly eating away.  Yes, the buggers all went in cahoots together and decided it was time I put down my chocolate and put on some walking shoes.

Public Domain image by the US Air Force

With great encouragement they enticed me into working out with the idea of using our city's community exercise center.  At the city's center, you can walk on an indoor, fully air-conditioned track and they even loan out hand-held track lap counters so you don't forget what lap you're on.  Wasn't sure I liked that so much since my favorite way to count is:  1, 2, 7, 9, 10, done!

Before I ever had the chance to make the argument of not being able to leave my children home alone since they are out of school for the summer, I was informed they are old enough to walk or run the track with me, as well as work out in the non-exercise machine area of the gym.

When I walked into the gym the first time, I had preconceived expectations as to what my experience would be and who would be there.  What I discovered upon entering the facility completely blew those expectations away.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I expected my children to run laps around me - literally.  My expectation was met in the first minute of stepping on the track when my son ran backwards faster than I could walk forward.  My daughter, not to be outdone by her brother, literally walked in circles around me as I walked the track.  I was ready to make them both go stand with their noses in a corner.

What I didn't expect though were the number of older people in the gym.......... who were all easily kicking my butt.  These people have gray hair, for crying out loud!  Ok, so do I but I'm at least young enough that I still want to color those grays.

You know, it's one thing to get lapped by a bratty pre-teen, it's rather humiliating to get lapped by an octogenarian.  Hearing that courtesy call of "coming up on your right" from behind made me want to block them so they'd have to stay behind me.

As if it wasn't bad enough to be getting passed on the track by people 20-30 years older than you, they can even do strength training exercises and work the machines as well as professional athletes in the prime of their lives.  Some of the older gentlemen even have muscles as well defined as Olympic athletes.

I mentioned to my mother about being schooled on my first gym visit by students from the Jack LaLanne era.  I thought she was joking when she mentioned they could be participants in the Senior Olympics.  I've heard of the Summer and Winter Olympics, as well as the Special Olympics, but the Senior Olympics?  Surely she jested.

She promptly got on the computer and showed me men and women aged 50+ competing in almost every regular Olympic sport.  Yes, they compete in track and field events (including the high jump), swimming, baseball, and lots more.  And they're having a blast while they're doing it! 

Here's the short video my mother showed me of these athletic seniors competing:  

Something I have discovered about working out with seniors is they aren't your typical gym rats.  They aren't competitive and they aren't there to put on a show.

When you walk in, they greet you like you're Norm from the old television show Cheers.  They encourage and motivate you..... and quite possibly rib you a bit with their well-seasoned humor.

After a week of working out with the oldies, I'm not feeling too bad about getting lapped by them.  It would be nice if they would consider a change, out of respect for us out-of-shape whipper-snappers.  Instead of calling out "passing you on the right", they should call out "free chocolate passing you on your right".  I think I'd be more inclined to pick up my pace than to want to throw out an elbow.

Written by Christie Bielss