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Friday, January 1, 2010

Bonne Annee! Happy New Year!

It's a cozy day here in central France, very grey with a few stray snowflakes and drops of rain. Just perfect for staying home in front of the fire with a hot toddy. Or so I told myself as I lit the fire moments ago and made a hot lemon with honey, cinnamon, cloves and rum before sitting down to write this.

Normally I don't make New Year's resolutions. Or, more accurately, I make one and only one and always the same one: not to make any resolutions. But this year I'm making an exception. I really do want to finish the first draft of my travel memoir before my next birthday mid-March. And I want to be more conscientious about maintaining this blog...and finding a job...and learning French....

My first New Year's resolution however is trying to figure out where December went. Does anyone know? Will you tell me?

I took a vacation of sorts from writing after jamming so hard in November. Actually, come to think of it, part of December was spent jamming--literally. I had a freezer full of nearly 12 kilos of fruit from the trees of various neighbors, mainly figs and Mirabelle (tiny yellow) plums. So I put up half a dozen jars each of fig chutney and jam, and a dozen of Mirabelle rosemary jam. I can now actually use my freezer so that's a relief.

December also introduced a new member to my household, albeit temporarily. She's my first professional pet sit client and I'm grateful to be making some cash, even short-term.

Lupe (short for Guadalupe) is a Queensland blue heeler who arrived here December 14th and will stay until January 6th. It took a few days for her to adjust to Tilly's puppy antics and to realize that she had to be extraordinarily gentle when playing with someone about 1/8 of her body weight.
But we've reached a comfort level. And having to bring Lupe out for daily vigorous exercise has been good for me as well. Tilly's quite capable of exhausting herself just running around the coffee table. Lupe, on the other hand, needs to tear across the fields playing catch for nearly an hour to accomplish the same thing.

I'm just not used to having a big dog around though. I nearly had a heart attack last week when Lupe, who tends to pace a lot like a caged animal when she's not outside, passed beneath the kitchen table where I was sitting working. One of the electrical cords caught on her tail and my 500GB backup hard drive was swept to the tile floor with a sickening crash. This, I should point out, is the hard drive that contains the only copy of both partially finished book manuscripts. I froze, staring at it in horror as Lupe continued pacing, oblivious to my distress. My heart thudded into my stomach.

When I plugged the hard drive back in, it hacked like a smoker with emphysema. I prayed it wasn't choking to death on the shredded fragments of my precious data. It stubbornly refused to yield a single file. My laptop beeped a warning, and Windows popped up an error message, telling me whatever I'd plugged into my USB port had malfunctioned. Yeah, I got that. Thanks.

Not knowing what else to do, I unplugged it and set it safely out of Lupe's reach, hoping it was just suffering a brief coma and needed some rest to recover. I tried not to panic. I mean, where am I going to find a life support system for my hard drive out in this rural area? And even if I did, could I trust a stranger who speaks a different language to comprehend that I was not prepared to say goodbye to my treasured book drafts? The sole work product of the last three years of my life?

The following day I took a deep breath and tried plugging it in again. No death rattle. Was that a good sign, I wondered? Or not? I tried to open the drive. I exhaled, aware now that I'd been holding my breath. It worked. I whispered a swift prayer of thanks.

It's temperamental now, shutting itself down without warning sometimes but it's still operational. Oh, yeah, that's another New Year's resolution--back up the backup. Maybe I'd better start writing these down....


Stitching Cat said...

Sounds just like the weather here - so perhaps a hot toddy is in order! Bonne Annee to you! Wishing you all the best in 20-10. Deb

Debbie G.C. said...

Well hello there from New England! I hope you stick to your resolution because I can't wait to read your finished manuscript!!!
Here's to blocking out time !

Missing you, Debbie