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I may as well give up promising not to go AWOL for months on end, because it always ends up happening anyway. Stuff likes to happen in big chunks, it seems. And then I’m exhausted for weeks afterwards.

Anyway, where were we? After my last post the Christmas season really kicked in full force and it was busy, busy, busy right up to the end. Once again, I was very thankful for my wonderful co-workers who did not, at any point, freak out or cause me to get stressed out. We just all pitched in and got stuff done.

I had the week between Christmas and New Year’s off (well, from the 23rd to the 30th), which was perfect since Sandrine was moving into her new house over Christmas weekend. So we spent Thursday evening loading all her stuff into the truck, drove up to Calais on Friday, then on Saturday we took the Channel shuttle train and drove up to Sandrine’s house.

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Inside the shuttle

The rest of the day was spent unloading and unpacking (and many, many trips up and down some VERY steep stairs). By dinnertime the house was starting to look like a house, although there were still quite a few boxes left. We tackled those the next morning after Sandrine opened her presents (the rest of us saved ours for New Year’s Eve).

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All in all, it was a decidedly un-traditional Christmas, but those tend to be the ones we remember the most, I think.

I was fully ready to crash for a few days after we got back, but the very next day we got a call from Aunt Susie saying that Grandpa had passed away. He hadn’t been doing well for a while, so it really wasn’t unexpected, but the timing could hardly have been worse. We were all pretty much running on fumes at that point, and somehow we had to pull ourselves together to make it through the family New Year’s dinner at my uncle’s and a last-minute trip to the States. Said trip went well, overall, even if we did have a bit of a blizzard on the day of the funeral (we all agreed Grandpa would have found that hilarious). It was good to spend a little time with family, even under less than cheerful circumstances. Plus I got to spend an afternoon with BJ, which was a bit of a miracle and very much needed.

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Me and my bestest friend

Since we’ve been back, I’veΒ finallyΒ gotten to unwind and process a bit. Things are pretty quiet at the moment, so I should be able to get caught up on things.

Until next time, have a little Lucy cuteness:

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“Umm, how do I get down?”

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Or, Why I Will Never Have a Career in Retail

My summer job this year has me working at what is apparently the biggest rest stop in Europe, and so far it’s been interesting, to say the least. I actually work for the company that supplies the nougat (and related products) for the shops, and my sole responsibility is stocking the shelves. Sounds simple, right? Actually, once I figured out the stockrooms and such, for the most part, it is. The stocking shelves part, that is. Dealing with customers… well, let’s say there’s a great deal of truth to the saying, “Whoever said there’s no such thing as a stupid question never worked in retail.” I get treated to all sorts of ridiculous questions every day, some several times a day (those of you who work/have worked in retail or customer service know exactly what I’m talking about). It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to make myself a T-shirt that preemptively (and somewhat snarkily) answers said questions, among other things:

1. If your question is not nougat-related, I may not (ie. probably don’t) know the answer.

2. Don’t ask me which brand is the best. I am contractually obligated to tell you that they’re all good. Just pick one.

3. You don’t want that bag/bar of nougat after all? That’s fine, but please do me a favor and put it back where you found it.

4. In the same vein, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, kindly remember that nougat bars are not Jenga blocks.

5. It’s calledΒ soft nougat, not “chewy.”

6. Read the label carefully before asking me a question. Chances are the answer is on said label.

Another question that pops up frequently is, “Where is [X]?” Answer: “It’s right behind you.” Mind you, I can’t snicker too loudly at that one because let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of not seeing what’s right in front of our faces at least once.

Every now and then I’ll get a more original (but no less baffling) question. The winner to date is: “Where can I find nougat without honey?” Umm, that doesn’t exist… This is when I truly realized that while most people might know that MontΓ©limar is basically the nougat capital of the world, they don’t necessarily know much about it. Looks like I really have gone native.

Now if I could just stop dreaming about refilling the storage bins, that would be fantastic…

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OK, technically summer doesn’t start until Friday, but up until two weeks ago it seemed like Mother Nature forgot it was supposed to be spring (I was wearing sweaters until the 3rd) and then suddenly skipped straight to summer. It’s been a little disconcerting, to say the least. I’m not exactly complaining about the warm temperatures, but I do wish things had warmed up a little more gradually.

No pictures this time; my laptop crashed again and unfortunately I didn’t back everything up, so… I’m hoping at least some stuff can be salvaged, but seeing as I’m pretty sure my hard drive is toast, I make no promises. At the very least, I have everything I backed up a few months ago plus the pics I posted on Facebook, so not all is totally lost. Still, I think I will be investing in an external hard drive and backing everything up from now on.

In happier news, God provided me with a great new job a few weeks ago. I was making the rounds of the temp agencies in town when I got a call from my dad. He was also in town and just happened to walk past a snack bar that had a “help wanted – urgent” sign in the window. I hadn’t worked in food service in a couple of years, but I figured it was still worth a shot, so I headed over to check it out. Turns out the manager broke her arm falling off her horse, and when she saw on my resume that I also ride, she said – and I quote – “It’s a sign!” And I was hired on the spot. Two weeks later, I still can’t get over it. Things just worked out perfectly for everyone. It’s in the pedestrian section of downtown, just a mile away, so I can walk to work. And I have a nice long break between shifts, so I can still head over to the barn most days and ride (though I will be stopping the lease for the summer and save up some money for next year). At the moment my contract is just until the end of the month, but there’s talk of keeping me on for the summer if business continues to pick up (and seeing as tourist season is starting, I think it’s a distinct possibility).
Like I said, God definitely provided. As always. πŸ™‚

In other, completely geeky and inconsequential news, it seems that I’ve started a tradition of catching up on sci-fi shows over the summer. Last year was Stargate:SG-1 and Atlantis; this year is Eureka (I just finished season 1). Depending on how long it takes me to finish (probably not long at all at this rate), I may watch Farscape too. I know, I always seem to discover sci-fi shows after they’ve been cancelled. Well, except for Doctor Who (incidentally, I’m still a little in denial about Matt Smith leaving at Christmas). Well, better late than never, I suppose.

Anyway, it’s getting to be bedtime over here, so that’s it for now. I should have some pics salvaged for next time… keeping fingers crossed.

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I know, it’s been 4 months, and I’m pretty sure I swore I wouldn’t take so long between updates, but… well, it happened. So, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and just for good measure, Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Easter, happy birthday, and whatever other holidays you feel like celebrating. πŸ˜›

It’s been a mix of crazy busy and not-so-busy around here lately. We had a conference in early December (which was pretty mind-blowing, by the way), and we had our annual youth conference a week and a half ago (also mind-blowing), plus we’ve already got a few more planned through June. As for me, I’ve done three shows, had a couple more odd jobs, been leasing Leslie since early January, had a bit of an adventure fixing my car and my laptop, and been having loads of fun playing with my new camera. In between, it’s been ridiculously quiet.

Oh, and I recently started playing around with Photoshop and Gimp, learning how to make my pictures even prettier. Which will likely come in very handy in the near future, since I officially have one foot in the door as a professional photographer: I got my first paid photography job last month. I got a phone call one morning from one of the local temp agencies saying they had a client who needed someone to take some pictures for them, and since I’d listed photography as one of my hobbies on my resume, was I interested? I think it took me all of one nanosecond to think it over. πŸ˜‰ Said job consisted of taking pictures of a vacant lot slated for construction, plus a few of the neighborhood, presumably for an ad. It was just a few miles from my house and the shoot lasted all of one hour, so, really not bad at all for my first paid shoot. Plus I managed to grab a few extra shots for my portfolio while I was at it. Of course, Murphy’s Law had to intervene in some fashion, and it took me about 3 times as long to email the pictures as it took me to take them. I did eventually get them all sent, and since I received no word to the contrary (and got paid), I assume they were found acceptable. Just goes to show that it literally pays to list your hobbies on your resume. πŸ™‚

I’m still sorting through and editing the literally thousands of pictures I’ve taken over the past couple of months, so no pics in this post. But I should be able to post some soon. *fingers crossed*

As for the other jobs I’ve had recently, I’ve been back to the plastics factory for a week, which went well despite being on the morning shift (which starts at 5 am). I also worked a few days at a local print shop, which was interesting.

Getting to lease Leslie kind of came out of the blue; I’d been riding her almost every week since September, and around Christmas, after noting that I’d made quite a bit of progress with her, Fred asked me if I’d be interested in leasing her. After getting him to explain to me what all that entailed (and how much it would cost – less than I initially thought), I said yes. And it’s been great. I get to come out to the barn almost every day and work with her and spoil her rotten. πŸ˜€ Mind you, some days are better than others, but I’ve learned to roll with the punches. Besides, working with horses (and animals in general) requires a fair amount of patience. And most days are a lot of fun. Plus it’s made for some great impromptu photo sessions. For example, one day I went for a trail ride, then took some shots of Leslie grazing afterwards, and when I got back from bringing her back to her pen, I found my friend Lucie getting ready to exercise her horse. So I grabbed my camera and tagged along, and got some great shots. Or last week when I showed up to find Leslie had been borrowed for a horse camp class; I had my camera with me, so I took pictures of the class. One of the girls actually asked me if I charged for my pictures, to which I responded, “No, I’m not a professional… yet.”

Which reminds me, my friends Sissi and Olivier got engaged a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve officially been drafted to be the photographer for the wedding, which is tentatively scheduled for sometime next year. ‘Tis very exciting. πŸ˜€

As for my car-fixing adventures, back in early January I had a slight mishap while pulling into a parking space and cracked my left headlight and turn signal. I had my car inspection coming up at the end of the month, so I needed to get it fixed ASAP. So, I went to the local Renault dealer/parts shop and showed them the damage. They had the turn signal cover in stock, but not the headlight. In fact, that model had been discontinued a while back (not too surprising since my car is a 1986 R5 – still popular, but old). My best shot at finding a replacement was a junkyard. Problem: I couldn’t remember where the nearest one was, and when I checked the yellow pages, the nearest one listed was a couple of towns over, and, as it turned out, the address listed was wrong. I must have spent an hour turning in circles looking for it. Then, remembering there was another headlight model available for my car, I went back to the Renault dealer, only to find that it too had been discontinued. They did, however, give me directions to another junkyard which, while further away, was very easy to find, and had what I was looking for. Then came the fun part of replacing both headlights (as far as I could tell, the two models were extremely similar, but both headlights needed to be the same model, so I had to replace both). It took about an hour of fiddling and nearly freezing my fingers off, but I finally got both properly installed. I made an appointment to get my car inspected the very next day, and it passed. Whew.

So… that’s pretty much all that’s been going on lately. Now back to picture sorting and editing…

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Checking in…

Just a quick post to say that yes, I am still alive and well, and no, I haven’t forgotten about this blog, just been insanely busy. What with work, riding and my computer acting up, blogging kind of fell by the wayside. But, as soon as I finish sorting through all my pictures from the past 3 months I will try to make it up to you.

In the meantime, take care and God bless! πŸ™‚

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*checks calendar* Apparently, yes.

Whoops.

Things have been a mixture of crazy busy and extremely not busy around here.

After New Year’s, the biggest thing was gearing up for the youth conference at the end of February. Said conference went really, really well. We had quite a few familiar faces and some new ones, and just about everyone got completely and thoroughly blasted. πŸ˜€
Things ended on a bit of a bittersweet note, though: during the last meeting, we got a phone call saying that my grandmother had passed away. That in itself wasn’t really a surprise; she hadn’t been doing well for the last several months and we knew it probably wouldn’t be much longer. Still, the timing could hardly have been worse. My mom had to go up to the nursing home and meet with her brothers to start the funeral arrangements, and the rest of us had to pack up and clean up by ourselves. This was when everyone proved how much of a family we’ve become: nearly everyone stayed and helped, and we finished in record time. They also prayed over us and loved on us, which was exactly what we needed. Breon (Sandrine’s boyfriend) was especially wonderful. He helped me stay awake and keep it together on the drive home: I’d been up and running around like mad since 6:00 that morning and I was wrecked. If I hadn’t already adopted him, I would have then. Breon, if you’re reading this, I love you, bro. πŸ™‚

The funeral was March 1st, exactly three years after my grandfather passed away, appropriately enough. It was just a short graveside service and then we all gathered at my cousin’s house for some much-needed family time.

In horse-related news, I did a few more shows. Some went better than others (Naika can be a bit temperamental and some days I was not quite all there). I did manage to place fifth in one show, and I always took a boatload of pictures, with quite a few gems each time. I’ll post some of my favorites next time.
Also, if all goes well, at some point this summer I’ll get to take my Level 6 horsemanship test. I moved up to the Level 6-7 class a few months ago, and so far it’s been going pretty well.

May was probably the busiest month of all for me. We had a conference from the 4th to the 8th, and I missed the last day because I was flying out to the States for BJ’s wedding, which was on the 9th. Good thing said wedding was in the evening, because I’m not sure I would have been completely awake otherwise. Anyway, I made it, the wedding went well despite being moved indoors at the last minute because of rain, BJ and her new hubby Mike are very happy… all is well. πŸ™‚

I spent 2 weeks in the States, and they went by insanely fast. I got to spend some time with Sandrine, which we both needed and thoroughly enjoyed. I got to help out at the barn she works at, which, while tiring, was a lot of fun. Like I told her, you know you’re a horse freak when you get excited about getting to clean stalls. πŸ˜‰ We also went to see The Avengers (great movie) and I got to meet the family she’s staying with – and their pets. My mom flew in the week after I did, and we put together a belated birthday party for Sandrine. I have to say it was a little weird to be buying the cake this time instead of making it. At least I was able to find one that was not eligible for Cake Wrecks.

I also got to spend a good chunk of time with BJ’s family (they all adopted me years ago so really they’re my family now too), which was a lot of fun. I got to meet up with a few other friends as well, and just before I left I got to spend a day at the ranch. Even better, I got to ride in the Parade of Breeds that night, which I hadn’t gotten to do in years. Thanks, Marilyn! πŸ˜€

When I got back, I basically hit the ground running. Just a few days after I flew back in, I got drafted to help a friend of mine move up here from Nice (about a 600-mile round trip). I drove the U-Haul, which actually wasn’t nearly as tricky as I’d feared. Driving through a torrential rainstorm on the way down was a tad nerve-wracking, though, I will admit. But I managed, and she’s all nicely settled in now, just 10 minutes from here, which is nice. πŸ™‚

The weekend after that, a group of us (mostly from the last youth conference) got together for some fun and fellowship, which was great.

Since then, it’s been fairly quiet around here, especially since Audrey’s in London now, working at the Olympics. Yes, you read that right, and yes, I am just a tad jealous. But just a tad. πŸ˜‰

We’ve got another conference comingΒ  up this weekend, and despite being incredibly short-staffed this time around, I think it’s going to be great. πŸ™‚

That’s what’s been going on, in a nutshell. Pictures coming soon. And I won’t leave you all hanging so long next time, I promise!

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Howdy! No, I did not fall off the face of the earth; I’ve just been semi-busy and had a good bit on my mind. OK, and I’ve been procrastinating a bit too. My humblest apologies.

Anyway, the past two months have been spent entertaining guests, celebrating birthdays, riding horses, going to soccer games, concerts and wedding receptions, and taking LOTS of pictures. I’ve already posted most of those on Facebook, but I’ll post some of my favorites here too.

In September, my mom’s best friend and her husband came to visit for 2 weeks. We had lots of fun showing them around town and taking them sightseeing pretty much all over. Oh, and introducing them to traditional French cuisine. Fun times. πŸ™‚
Sandrine headed back to the States the first week of September to start massage therapy school, which, last I heard, is going really well. Not that I really expected any different, considering how God opened up all the doors for her to get in. I’m really glad she’s finally going to get certified to do something that she truly enjoys.
Doors are opening up for Audrey too: she recently got to volunteer at a tennis tournament and is already scheduled to work at two more. She’s been wanting to do this for a while, so this is very exciting for her.
As for me, well, I’m trying to find something that’s a little more “me” than the jobs I’ve had recently. I enjoyed those for the most part, but ultimately they were just a way to make some much-needed cash. I’ve been looking at freelance translation, for starters (being bilingual certainly does have its perks). Another option that’s been brought to my attention is photography, which kind of makes sense considering how shutter-happy I’ve been lately. That said, at the moment I’m still strictly just an amateur. I would need a snazzier camera than the one I currently have if I were to go pro/semi-pro, and I’m not sure I can afford one just now. But I am keeping that option open and practicing as much as I can with what I’ve got.

In non-job-related news, we also celebrated my parents’ and my birthdays and topped it off by going to see a men’s Champions League game in Lyon (which Lyon won 2-0).

This month we did a bit of roadtripping: to Grenoble to celebrate Joshua’s first birthday (per his mom’s request, I won’t be posting pictures of him anymore, but rest assured he’s as adorable as ever), then to Paris to see Jesus Culture in concert and this past weekend back to Grenoble for a wedding reception.

Riding classes started back up the first week of September, and not a moment too soon, as far as I was concerned. It’s really great to be back and see lots of familiar faces, both human and equine. A few have left, and there are some new ones, but for the most part it’s the same gang. πŸ™‚ So far Fred’s been having me work mostly with my two favorite mares, Leslie and Naika, which has been lots of fun. A bit of a challenge (neither is exactly what you’d call a cupcake), but fun nonetheless. πŸ™‚ I’ve also gotten into the habit of hanging around after my class on Saturday and taking pictures of the next one (along with a couple of other shutter-happy friends).

I think that about sums it up. Like I said, not super busy, but enough to keep me from getting too bored. (And now that most of my favorite shows are back on, that provides me with some fresh entertainment as well.)

Pictures coming very soon…

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