Posts Tagged ‘work’

Let me explain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up. πŸ˜‰

The past few months have been busy with work, weddings, and assorted “stuff.” Add a hefty dose of procrastination, and, well, here we are. I’m not quite even sure where to start at this point.

Work-wise, things are still going well. This summer was pretty busy, as I expected, but nothing overwhelming. I have to say, it’s nice to have a boss and co-workers who don’t freak out over everything. Looking back, we made and processed a ton of nougat (lots of huge orders for the rest stop, plus quite a few tourists coming through), but we always managed to get everything done without anyone having a meltdown. I was still pretty pooped at the end of the day, but nothing compared to when I was at The Big Nougat Factory That Shall Not Be Named. Things have slowed down a bit since September, but Christmas season is approaching fast, and we’ve already started on the nougat logs (they’re fun to eat, but a pain to make). At least I’ll get a break after Christmas.

As far as the critters go, I unfortunately have some sad news: we had to put Twilight to sleep back in July. Her arthritis had gotten really bad and the pain just wasn’t manageable anymore. Needless to say, it’s been a little rough on everyone. 😦 Lucy had a pretty bad bout of anxiety for a couple of weeks afterwards. It didn’t help that just a few days after Twilight passed we all went away for the weekend to attend a wedding. Lucy stuck to me like glue for days after we got back. She’s doing better now, but she is definitely a lot cuddlier than she used to be, even with the others. Before, I was pretty much the only one she’d snuggle with, and even then only occasionally. Now she wants cuddles at least once a day, and she’ll even ask other people for petting.

Blue is still as energetic as ever, though she’s certainly settled down quite a bit lately. She still has the occasional spazzy moment, but overall she’s much more focused. We mostly worked on jumping over the summer, and both Fred and Lucie have been very pleased with her progress. For the last month or so we’ve been focusing on dressage, which is what she’s had the most trouble with, and miracle of all miracles, she’s been improving significantly there as well. I might finally be able to do eventing with her this year! In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the little victories. πŸ™‚

In other news, there were two weddings this summer: Thomas and Melodie got married in July, and Olivier and Sissi in August. Both weddings were accompanied by lots of rain, which was mildly inconvenient, but supposedly it’s good luck. In any case, everything went well, everybody was happy, and I got lots of good pictures, so yay. πŸ™‚ That said, I hope the next wedding I go to doesn’t last until the wee hours of the morning. I was kind of a zombie after those two.

Sandrine was here for 3 months before heading over to Wales, where she plans to settle permanently. *sniff* My little sister is all grown up and leaving the nest. Okay, she was already pretty much gone with those 5 years in the States, but this is the Big Move. Naturally, this has been a mixture of exciting and mildly terrifying. But mostly exciting (I hope).

Oh, and guess what? I HAVE A NEW CAR!!! πŸ˜€ I finally saved up enough to buy a very nice (slightly) used car at the start of the summer, and here she is. Folks, meet Lizzie!

20160708_110356bThis car is a real blessing, let me tell you. For one thing, IT HAS AIR CONDITIONING. You never appreciate stuff like that until you have to go 7 years without. Driving in the summer suddenly got a lot nicer. Particularly when we went to the beach one day and got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way back.

Anyway, that’s pretty much what’s been happening lately. Pictures to follow at a somewhat more civilized hour. Right now, sleep beckons. Good night/morning/whatever…


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Employment. I Has It.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had a new job. However, unlike the various temp/seasonal jobs I’ve been working for the past 5 years, this one is decidedly more long-term.

It started innocuously enough: I got a call from the temp agency asking if I was available to work at one of the local artisan nougat places the following week. Not having worked since before my trip to the States, I said yes. The first week went smoothly and they asked me to come back the next week, and then the next. At the end of the third week, the boss called me into his office and said, “I have a proposition for you.” He went on to explain that one of the employees was taking a parental leave on top of her maternity leave, and asked if I was interested in replacing her during that time. My reaction: “Um, wow.”

Funny how we’re always asking God for stuff and then get all surprised when He delivers. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, as of mid-September I am officially an employee and will be staying for the next two years. After that? Who knows. In the meantime, it’s nice to finally have some real financial stability.

Also, just to show that God doesn’t do things halfway, my hours are such that I can still go to the barn and ride 2-3 times a week. Add to that the fact that everyone is super friendly and the place is overall pretty quiet, and this is basically the perfect job. Not to mention the nougat is really good. πŸ˜‰

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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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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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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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As promised, here’s the first part of my picture-heavy update.

I spent the entire month of August (and part of September) working at this place:It’s one of the local artisan nougat makers, and definitely one of the more interesting places I’ve worked around here. My co-workers told me they seem to have a habit of attracting all the oddballs, both when it comes to customers and temps. According to them, I’m the most normal person they’ve hired in years, and, after witnessing the disaster that was the other temp (she lasted all of one week), I’m inclined to believe them. It’s actually kind of sad when you think about it, but on the flip side it’s nice to know my work ethic is appreciated. πŸ™‚
In my spare time I grabbed a few pictures here and there:

One weekend some friends who own a fish farm out in the mountains of ArdΓ¨che invited a group of us for fishing, fun, fellowship, and baptisms for three of them. My camera batteries died just before the baptisms, so I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures of those, but I did get quite a few of the rest:

Heeere fishy, fishy, fishy…


My goofy friends πŸ™‚


Welcome Desk Kitty is on a nap break


These were everywhere – so pretty! πŸ™‚


Bonfire – and roasting marshmallows, of course





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