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It's LENT, and I'm already in trouble!

Today is Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar. That marks the first day of Lent, when many of the faithful ones make personal sacrifices for the 40 days leading up to Easter.

Some go without chocolate. Others forgo cakes, candies, colas, or other sorts of treats. Many turn away from other indulgences.

I am already in trouble, and it’s not even noon on the first day of Lent.

Public domain artwork.
Maybe confession really is good for the soul.

I woke up with a killer migraine this morning, but that may not be a great excuse. Either way, I have already had a Coke, a few strands of red licorice, a couple of peanut butter cookies, and a couple of caramels. I’m pondering M&Ms … OK, maybe not. Chocolate can wreak havoc on a headache.

Still, I’m not nearly done.

So, on this first day of Lent, I am wondering what I can give up – that I haven’t already eaten.

Maybe it isn’t about food, anyway.

Perhaps I’d better give up something even more difficult – like complaining about politics, prices, or weather I don’t like (Sloppy snow is predicted for the next couple of days.) … and my fourth day of headache.

Or maybe I’ll stop and look around and realize that, despite discouraging reports and my throbbing brain, the overall outlook for life around here is pretty darn good. The Almighty still holds tomorrow. He’s been there and back.

And He’s already forgiven me for failing to make a suitable snack sacrifice for Lent. Basides, His sacrifice trumps any meager effort I might attempt.

He’s after my heart … more than my menu.

And for that, added to many other blessings, God is to be thanked.

Hmm. Could it be that He’s getting me ready for the Lenten season, after all?

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Hung up on hand-me-ups

Ssh! Don’t tell. I’m pilfering my kid’s closet again.

Yeah, I know real grownups aren’t supposed to go out in public in those strappy stretch camisoles, racerback singlets, or  little ribby tank tops. But the colors are fabulously fun. And those little undershirts fit nicely under bigger over-shirts.

Maybe those tiny teen shirts can be almost tasteful, if they are worn beneath other garments. (You didn’t really think I’d wear them without layering, did you? OK, maybe only for running.)

So, if my kids can raid my sock drawer, I can snatch up a tank top now or then. It’s only fair.

Just don’t spill the beans. And I’ll try not to spill out of – oh, never mind.

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Nine folks no one wants to find at the drive-up ATM

We’re not exactly laughing all the way from the bank, when banking etiquette goes bad.

The automated teller machine (or bank-in-a-box) is everywhere. It is virtually impossible to run out of cash nowadays, as long as one has sufficient funds in the bank account. Forgot to pack a lunch today? Stop at the ATM on the way to work. Need $20 for the movies or fast food? Hit the ATM. Stopping for dinner with a friend? Grab some greenbacks at the nearest ATM.

These ultra-convenient teller-in-a-box units, first rolled out more than 50 years ago, can now be found in grocery stores, shopping malls, and even on street corners. In addition, many bank branches offer drive-up ATMs for handy hurried transactions. This computerized cash-dispensing convenience often brings out some intriguing individuals, most notably at the drive-through ATMs. (Walk-up ATMs have their own set of issues.) Maybe there’s something about the presumed camouflage of sitting in a car. With this banking courtesy can come plenty of folks who will act discourteously, thoughtlessly, and outright ridiculously. 

Adapted from public domain artwork

Here are a few memorable examples:

NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

1. “Not-Ready Nettie”

She pulls her sedan right up to the ATM station and parks.  She switches off the ignition in her car. Then she rummages through her purse for her banking card. Next, she opens the glove compartment to look for her little note containing her personal identification number (PIN). Finding it, she opens her window to begin her transaction.

About ten minutes later, she pulls her banking card and her $20 out of the machine. She puts her key back into the ignition of her car, starts the engine, and pulls away, leaving a long line of irate drive-through customers in her wake.

2. “Chatty Charlie”

This guy zooms into the drive-up lane at more than 45 miles per hour, driving with his knees and talking on his cellular phone. He screeches to a halt, inches behind the bumper of the preceding car, which actually rocks from the wind momentum his car transmits. When his pathway is clear, he pulls up to the ATM and begins his transaction. Meanwhile, with his car window open, he publishes his entire telephone conversation audibly to the tri-county area.

3. “Broadcaster Bob”

This guy is probably Chatty Charlie’s son or nephew. He veers into the drive-up lane on two wheels in his souped-up sportster with dark tinted windows. Those around can hear a faint rumbling and pounding, as he arrives. Once he reaches the ATM, he lowers his car windows, and regional residents can be certain that it is not an approaching storm they heard, but only his amped-up automotive sound system.

4. “Rebecca Re-Parker”

This little lady drives a super-sized suburban utility vehicle (SUV). She used to have a minivan. As she arrives at the banking lane, she cranes her neck to see over the steering wheel hub. Suddenly, her vehicle leaps up over the curb, causing a screeching and scraping sound. She turns the wheel sharply, and her car darts to the other side and leaps the other curb.

After eight to ten minutes of jockeying and adjusting, she is able to maneuver her mega-machine in place, so she can perform her banking business.

5. “Rita Re-Sparker”

Here is one hot ticket. This is the woman who catches everyone’s eye with her vibrant colors and flashy style. If the weather is warm, she drives her convertible with the top down. Her fingernails are long and recently manicured to fine points. Her big hair is styled in a color never found in nature.

She zips up to the ATM, where she leaves her engine running (along perhaps with those of certain men in the vicinity). She begins punching in her code with the stub of a brand-new pencil, so as not to ruin her nails. Playing to the audience that she knows is watching, she concludes her financial affairs. She grabs her key and switches the ignition again, causing a deafening grinding noise.

6. “Mickie Makeup”

Her front bumper is dented, and folks may wonder why, at first. She accelerates unsteadily into the drive-up banking lane. Her car seems to lurch forward and stop, again and again. As she approaches, folks can see why. Her visor mirror is down, with the light lit. She is applying her mascara and lipstick, as she drives.

7. “Lorna Lean-Out”

She’s a near cousin to Mickie Makeup. This lady stops her car in the ATM spot. She opens the window, only to find that she has parked too far from the banking machine to reach. She hoists herself up and through the window, perching on her midsection, in an effort to punch the ATM buttons. Doing so, she spills her purse and perhaps certain body parts.

When that acrobatic technique seems to fail, she plops back into her car and opens the door, slamming it into the bank machine. Eventually, she climbs out of the vehicle to do her financial transaction, as the other drivers in line pray she has put her car in park first.

8. “Line-Hopper Louie”

Into every line, a little reign of terror must fall. This guy drives a power-packed four-wheel-drive with oversized tires. His rear bumper sports stickers saying, “Kiss This, Ford Boy,” “Truck Off” and “Nice Bass.” He bounces across the parking lot, zips around the line of waiting cars, and hops the curb to use the ATM. Of course, no one dares to stop him. Hey, at least one of the guns in that rack may be loaded.

9. “Taylor Tailgater”

This guy has no clue about personal space. He nudges his vehicle forward, as if to urge the car in front of his to progress faster through the ATM line. When he is on-deck, he huffs and puffs and rubbernecks the driver ahead of him. It’s more than a little creepy.

These folks frequent both small towns and big cities. Perhaps they have been cloned. Definitely, they could be rezoned, postponed, dethroned, or possibly disowned – but never condoned. They turn up at drive-through ATMs and at staffed bank drive-up windows, practicing the same tricks.

Maybe parking the car and walking into the bank to interact with an actual teller isn’t so inconvenient, after all.

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