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Preparing For Another Trip to New England

Recently my daughter sent me a message saying that my granddaughter would be graduating from high school on June 4th. Before I received that message I had just assumed that Brianna wouldn’t be graduating until 2019, so I thought I still had plenty of time to arrange my trip. Now I had 3 weeks to figure out how to get back to Northern New Hampshire, if I wanted to watch her receive her diploma.

It will take me longer than a normal weekend just to arrange for the trip there…nevermind a return trip. We are short-staffed at work, so I am assuming that it would be impossible to ask for a whole week off. So I ain’t asking for time off, I will just tell my boss that I am leaving. My last day of work will be May 31st. Yes that won’t help the staffing situation at work…but sometimes you just have to say “Oh f♡<k it!” and do what you want and not worry about what someone else wants.

I have missed so many family events…weddings, birthdays, family reunion, holidays, funerals, and I have never even met most of my 13 grandkids. I don’t even know when half their birthdays are. I missed most events because I was working in different states, mostly on the other side of the country.

Brianna is my oldest granddaughter and I have no idea who she is as a person. I know that she recently started a job but have no idea what the job is or if she even likes it. I don’t know if she will stay at this job or go on to college somewhere. I have no idea what her interests are, so I don’t know what she would even study in college if she ever decided to go. I’m not sure if she will stay in New England or decide to move to AZ, to be closer to her dad’s family. Geez, don’t grandparents usually have a clue on all that stuff? Well I guess this is one grandmother that really is just a name on the family tree and nothing more.

Well seeing as I have now bought my plane ticket from Phoenix to Boston, and got a hotel room in Northern New Hampshire for 2 or 3 nights it’s time to get packing. I have 1 small suitcase for my checked luggage. So small that my winter coat doesn’t even fit in it. I will just have to leave all winter clothes behind, and worry about them in another 6 months. Oh hell, I don’t even know where I will be in 6 months. Oh hell, I ain’t figured out yet what I will be doing after I attend this graduation.

Just when I start thinking it’s safe to relax and settle in at my present location, life throws a curveball at me. I should be used to it by now.

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Credit Card Class

Now I assume that most of us have some type of bank card, either a credit card or debit card. It doesn’t matter which because both can be used to go shopping online or in a physical store. Now I won’t preach about budgeting your money. What you spend your money on is your business.

The problem is that banks just want your money because that’s how they stay in business. When you open an account, you give the bank your money and they give you a little plastic card in exchange, and to many banks have to many rules/fees about using the cards to access your own money.

But I really wish that it was required that every bank gave a mandated class on how to use a credit card everytime you get one. What I mean is…a class to teach you how to use the card to pay for items at a register if the business doesn’t have a chip reader. You would be surprised how many people argue with me about the fact that their card has a chip, so they HAVE to use it. Well guess what folks, your chipped card also has a strip on the back and it’s about time you refresh your memory on how to use it. It wasn’t that many years ago that we all used that strip before the silly chip was invented. Actually the chip was added to bank cards in the Fall of 2015, so unless you got your very first card after 2015, then you should remember how to slide a card at any register.

There are times when a credit card machine will decline a card, and sometimes it’s just because they can’t use the chip reader. I had a customer who had just used his card in another business before shopping in my store. His card worked fine in the other business but not in mine. He called his bank up to find out why. He had to explain that he was on vacation at a national park and that he was shopping in a store that didn’t have a chip reader. Quite a few stores in small communities (in the middle of nowhere) are not set up to accept the chip on cards. After being on the phone for about 15-20 minutes asking for permission to spend his own money, the bank told him to try the card again. After the phone call his card worked…which proved that the only reason it declined before, was the bank was refusing to let it go through not because there was anything wrong with the store’s machine. So now I use that guy as an example when other customers have cards that decline. So far, nobody else wants to take 20 minutes to call their bank. It’s easier for most people to just have someone else in their group pay with a different card.

I had another guy slide 5 different cards through our register to pay for his items. Why someone needs 5 different cards is beyond my comprehension. If a register declines your card when you use the magnetic strip, then you might have the option to try the same card by “tapping” the card with Apple-pay. I don’t fully understand Apple-pay and because I move around all over the country so often, my bank has never offered me that option. But I do recognize cards that have the option and will tell customers to use it if their card declines when the use the magnetic strip. Then I end up with a customer who will try to tap their card, even though their card doesn’t have that option. It’s because the bank never took the time to verbally explain their particular card’s account to them. They are just standing in a register line and see 1 customer use apple pay so they assume that they can also.

If I tell a customer to enter the card manually, they have no idea what I am talking about. When I tell them that they have to type in their numbers, then they will just type in 4 numbers as they are putting the card back in their pockets. Huh, ok, obviously it’s a debit card and they just put their pin number on the screen, for anyone to see. So I have to explain that all cards run as a credit card and unless they have all 14-16 numbers of their card memorized they need to get the card back out and type all the numbers from the card, along with the expiration date and the 3-number code on the back.

Sometimes they get all confused and have no idea what to do. So they either hand me their card telling me to do it or they decide to pay with cash. Then they get disappointed when I tell them that my store (and no business in the area) does Cashback with cards. The atm machines in the area have been empty for about a month because they guy whose job it was to fill them with cash has quit so customers can no longer get cash from them when their cards decline. If customers would just learn how to use their card for everything then they wouldn’t need cash…well unless they need to go to our post office or the laundromat in the campground nearby. Obviously if you have a bank card, you got it so you wouldn’t have to carry cash around, so why ask for Cashback?

Banks claim that a chip makes your card more secure. My argument to that is, if anyone stole my card there is nothing stopping them from using my card in any business that runs all cards as credit. If the business ran debit cards correctly then whoever was using the card would need a pin number. That new chip can’t tell if the card owner or a thief went shopping.

Even with all the information that’s supposed to be in a chip, my bank still has a hard time keeping track of me. I move around often and don’t always update my address with my bank. So now my bank will send me a new debit card about every 4 months. Sometimes it will take almost a month to get the new card because the bank sent it to an old address that I’m no longer located at. If the chip in my debit card is so secure, that my own bank can’t read it’s information to know that I have moved across the country again…then why does a chip hold such information? Who is this info for?

Actually I do have a few older relatives that refuse to shop online or pay any bills online because they would never dream of putting their card info on the Internet. Oh heck, some of them still send out paper checks to pay utility bills, while others will drive to the utility office twice a month to pay cash towards a bill. I also have one relative who pays for everything with his credit card. It’s easier for him to keep track of where is money went. If he ever needs to challenge a charge from any business and the business doesn’t want to refund his payment, then he can pull out his file of receipts…with dates, item purchase numbers and what else he needs to get the head of his credit card company to get his money back. So it boggles my mind, when customers don’t want receipts at my store..they even tell me that they don’t want to know how much they spent on vacation.

I have been waiting for the day, when every single customer in my store uses a bank card at my register. I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of change in my drawer. Of course I have been waiting for that for a long time. I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.

Spring Cleaning: Clothes Inventory

After coming home from McDonald’s on Wednesday, I decided to do my laundry. I wanted to go through all my clothes to see exactly what I had and what I hardly wear. I wanted to see if there were anymore clothes that I could get rid of. A couple weeks ago I took a small bag of clothes and left them at the laundromat in the campground near my home. It seems like a lot of campers don’t pack enough clothes for a camping adventure here.

Now the picture above^ is my clothes laid out on the spare bed in my room. Seeing as the new roomie still hasn’t shown up, I can use the bed as my table for folding laundry or just throwing my jacket onto when I am to lazy to hang it up right away, or in this case….for spreading clothes out on for a picture.

4 long sleeve shirts and 5 short sleeve shirts…another long sleeve top isn’t in the picture because I was wearing it. All of my shirts was given to me for free or I got them for a cheap price at thrift shops. When I am cold, I wear one of the long sleeve shirts under my work shirt. But not counting “work clothes”, 10 shirts is actually more than enough for me, and more then enough to keep in 1 dresser drawer. I can’t comprehend why anyone would think they need a different shirt for every day of the month. That’s just extra unnecessary laundry to do. Maybe some people get a strange thrill out of doing laundry.

The 3 pair of leggings I bought from Amazon…the wild looking purple designed pair are getting loose now, but I like them so I will save them for a couple more months. Even though I am on a diet hopefully I won’t have to get smaller clothes until Fall. The leggings get kept in my 2nd dresser drawer along with my socks, underwear, hats, gloves, and pajama pants that seemed to get cut off in above picture. I am also wearing a pair of gray sweatpants (or jogging pants…whatever you prefer to call them). It was windy and snowing, so I had to wear cold-weather clothes today.

With 1 or 2 days off work every week, I can usually do laundry at least once a week. If I do laundry at least once every 7 days, then I see no reason to own more then 10 shirts, especially when I can wear the same shirt all weekend. While walking home yesterday I stopped into the trading post…just to see what they had. In case a customer came into the store looking for an item that wasn’t in there, I would know where to send them to find it elsewhere. While I was there, I found a couple shirts that I liked. I didn’t buy any, because I knew that I had enough. I also knew that I didn’t want to start cramming clothes into drawers and making it impossible to see what was in the drawer.

If you are thinking…”but isn’t that the American dream?” Doesn’t everyone want to walk into a store or gift shop and just buy whatever they like? While I am glad that I can afford to buy whatever I really need, I don’t have enough space to spread things out so buying whatever I want seems rather dumb. Why waste money on something that will get crammed into the bottom of a drawer or stored into a box under my bed. I might as well just stuff my paycheck in a Box under the bed.

Usually if I am going to spend money, it will be on e-books or food. Ebooks get downloaded onto the tablet that I already own so I don’t have to make space in my room for them. Yes, I still have some books in my closet and as soon as I read them all then they will get dropped off in the laundromat. Right now, I am reading a novel called “The Independence Club”, written by: Rachel Ann Nunes.

May 2, 2018

Mother Nature is full of surprises..the campers behind my house woke up to snow. Hopefully they were smart enough to pack lots of blankets for their adventure, or able to buy lots of hand/toe warmers in my store.

Meanwhile, inside the national park it was sorta impossible to see the canyon through the snow and fog. I grabbed the pictures below from NPS.

I assume that anyone who was waiting for May flowers will just have to wait longer..it’s cold and windy as I sit in McDonald’s typing this. A big tour bus full of Asian tourist arrived just as I came in to order food. I bet none of them expected this snow.

I finished my Pico guacamole chicken sandwich. They musta known I like guacamole because it was oozing out with every bite. Now I am sitting here downloading new books onto my tablet so that I can read later at home.

Getting Ready For New Roommate

Someone from the housing office came over to the house last Tuesday, just before noon to tell me and Elsie that we would both be getting new roommates on Thursday.

Now I really have to kick my butt into gear and clean off the spare bed. Yeah, I have known that I needed to organize my stuff but I kept putting it off. I am the queen of procrastination, or as my ex-husband used to say…I live in the “Land of Later”, meaning I would do something/anything later…way later, like next week or next year.

Well my times up. Good thing I don’t have to be at work until Thursday morning. Looks like I will be cleaning on my weekend. The housing guy was nice enough to leave me a vaccum.

We have to share a closet here. The only clothes that I have in my half of the closet is my jackets and my work clothes. The rest are in my dresser drawers that is between the two beds. The small night stand near the closet in the above picture will also be used by both me and the new roomie. I have all my shower items and vitamins in the top drawer. I don’t keep anything in the bathroom because there are to many people sharing the bathroom and I don’t want anyone else using my stuff.

Well I finally got all my stuff organized and vaccumed the room before I went to work on Thursday morning. But then the new roomie never showed up. So for now I still have a room to myself. Today was Saturday , which means that the HR office is closed. So new employees won’t be able to check in for a couple days. So I get to relax in the room by myself for a bit longer.

It is now Tuesday again. There will be an employee appreciation BBQ at work. Seeing it’s my day off (after working 13.5 hours yesterday) I get to take random photos of everyone.

Grocery Shopping Inside a National Park

In February, sometime before my last roommate moved away, she mentioned a budget software that her son bought her. Well it got me checking for budget apps to download onto my tablet. Found one that I had enough space for. Its called “Spending Tracker”. It seems pretty easy to use and was an eye-opener when I posted the income that I had actually brought home in January (not the gross pay). I kept looking at the total I brought home “VS” the amount in my bank account at that time, and the realization hit me that I really do need to stick to a budget more then I had thought.

Lately I have seen a few blogs around the internet and some comments in facebook groups where different people post what they spend at a grocery store. Usually it’s from people who live in locations with more than one store, which allows them to shop around and compare prices. Well in my tiny community outside of the national park there is only 1 store, with 1 bigger store inside the park. Stores like Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway, are in Flagstaff which is about 90 minutes away. Without a car, they might as well be across the country. Thankfully I can order some food online from Walmart and Amazon, to be delivered to my post office box.

So with my new spending tracker app, I want to see exactly what I spend in a month for: #1. Starbucks, #2. Dining out (restaurants) #3. Groceries at store (both inside and outside the park), #4. Schwan’s food truck delivery. #5. Foods ordered online. The idea is to find out exactly what I am spending on all the food and drinks that I consume and then figure out a way to save money. This should be an interesting month, as myself and all the other locals like to complain that it’s expensive to shop and eat here.

Sure there are days where I don’t care about a price and will go eat out at one of the local buffets. My last buffet was for Easter dinner. Then I become a Scrooge for a few days after my big-spending moments and refuse to buy anything.

(Saturday) for lunch I finished up a bag of frozen broccoli and cheese sauce that I had gotten from the Schwan’s truck last week, and I mixed it with a mini Minute-Ready container of red quinoa & brown rice. My lunch is technically not on my diet, but it’s what I had ,easy access to today before I get ready for work.

Around 5:30pm, I started feeling kinda BLAH. Got an ice cream sandwich during my lunch break and felt better afterwards. It normally cost $1.79 but with my employee discount, it cost me $1.43. I didn’t really eat much all day which is probably why I wasn’t feeling my best.

(WEDNESDAY) 4/25/2018

I came up to the store to buy a couple avocados, bag of spinach, shredded cheese, and some junk that I didn’t really need. So what does the produce section look like in your store? My total (with my employee discount) came to $14.34.

Now I am heading back home to have a huge salad while I do laundry.

Beautiful Weekend

While warming up some of last night’s chicken, I noticed some elk in the campground nearby. So I went out to see if I could get some pictures with my tablet.

One of my housemates saw the elk early in the evening on the other side of the campground but I didn’t go chasing them down for more pictures.

But I did get to see a beautiful sunset, when I went to take out the trash. I have been here off & on for 11 years, and I am still in awe everytime I see the elk or a gorgeous sunset. I swear that you would think that I have never seen them before.

This week at work, it was fun to watch one of the international girls get excited over snow and the sunset. She ran outside to get pics of both while we were at work. Now for her, snow really is a rare sight. You never know what to expect here. One day it’s windy & snowing, and the rest of the week the temps have gotten up to the 70’s.

Yesterday one of the housing guys, came to tell me and Elsie that we would both be getting roommates on Thursday (tomorrow). So at the moment, I walked up to work to buy some avocado and check my mail…and obviously post this blog. But then I need to get home to finish cleaning my room.