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Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

As you may have guessed from my long silence and this entry’s title, I have been very, very busy these past few months. I finally have a couple of weeks to catch my breath, so I can tell you a bit about what’s been going on.

My job at the snack bar lasted until August 31st, and no sooner was my contract up than I got drafted back at the big nougat factory. I was there almost six weeks, and to be honest, I’m glad my contract ended a few days early. The folks there are generally nice, but I can only take working in a huge, loud place for so long. Plus, at the time they were still attempting to get reorganized after buying out one of the other major factories back in January. In other words, things were decidedly less organized than before, and guess who felt it the most keenly? That’s right, all of us floor workers. Not a day went by where I didn’t hear at least one person complain about it. My team leader was particularly vocal in her displeasure, and the whole situation had her nerves so frazzled that her temper was on a hair trigger most days. Needless to say, I frequently found myself praying for an extra dose of patience. Oh, and did I mention that this was also in the middle of the rush to get the (huge) Christmas orders done? Which meant working overtime every day? My bank account was thankful for the extra hours, but my feet and head were not. πŸ˜›

I think that after that experience I won’t be going back there if I can avoid it. Some things just aren’t worth a massive headache.

Anyway, right after that I had an interview at a small local company that specializes in, among other things, gift boxes composed mainly of local products. They get orders year round, but their busiest time is around Christmas. The past seven weeks have been a blur of boxes and bags of every description, cases and cases of wine, and tons upon tons of foie gras, patΓ©, nougat, and various other goodies. We had to put in some overtime the last week to get everything finished in time (the deadline was last Friday evening), and despite a late shipment of raspberry marshmallows, we managed to complete the last order with about an hour to spare.

Now that that contract is up, I’m taking a break until January. I’ve been working almost non-stop for the past six months, and the last three have really drained me. Between the long hours at the nougat factory and the unheated warehouse after that, I am utterly wiped. I did finally get a start on my Christmas shopping today, but I’ve mostly been resting the last few days.

My busy work schedule has meant that up until now I’ve generally only been able to ride once a week instead of twice, but it’s better than nothing. I’ve been able to do a few shows as well, which went well for the most part. The dressage show I did with Naika in October was kind of a disaster (I didn’t fall off but we finished dead last of our event), but surprisingly we did better in eventing a few weeks later. I still did better in eventing with Leslie a couple of weeks before that, despite having come down with a massive cold a few days prior. That little mare might be almost 18, but she’s still got plenty of oomph. πŸ™‚ Mountain Blue, one of our new mares, may have robbed her of the title of Resident Speed Demon, however: you barely touch her and she takes off like her tail’s on fire. I rode her for the first time a few weeks ago and as you can imagine, it was far from dull. And of course it was a jumping class (Fred really likes throwing me into the deep end, it seems). Still, she’s a fun challenge and I would love to work with her some more.

In other news, we’ve learned that hosting two conferences two weeks apart is a very bad idea. Said conferences both went really well and God did some amazing things, but after the second one we were all wiped out. And because I was still working at the time, I didn’t even get the luxury of sleeping in the next morning. That was one of those situations where you have to rely on some supernatural strength to get through the day. Playing some extra upbeat music in the car in the morning helps too. πŸ˜‰

Now, in case you’re wondering if I’ve had any time for photography with all the insanity, the answer is yes. Not quite as much as during the summer, but I still have plenty to share. I already posted a few back in October; more to come soon. One more to tide you over until I finish sorting:DSC_0328cbws

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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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Pics from the conference:

Jess, worship leader extraordinaire

Stevie, Charly and Justin

These guys led worship on Sunday morning

Dueling drums

Charly and Elijah

Random poppy picture

Pics from BJ’s wedding:

Walking down the aisle with Dad

Karen and Jim, aka Adopted Mom and Dad to BJ and me πŸ™‚

Dragons on the cake = WIN πŸ˜€

Close-up

The lovely bride πŸ™‚

Robyn (BJ’s sister) with Gracie (a friend’s daughter)

Cutting the cake

Pics from Sandrine’s birthday celebration:

Sandrine and Breon

Saw these just outside of the restaurant

The artist hard at work

I think she liked her present πŸ™‚

Pics from the ranch:

The barn, aka Home Sweet Home

Minis!

Kit Kat

The Homestead

Kelly and Tex, practicing for Parade of Breeds

Logan and Indy

Marilyn giving a roping demonstration

Some kitty cuteness:

No, Chica, you can’t come back in my suitcase…

Pickles, Keeper of the Puzzle

Another flowery snapshot:

Finally, something we get treated to just about every day:

Fascinating, isn’t it?

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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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