Happy New Year to all. May your 2007 be a year filled with a lot of love, success, luck, and good health.
All is well over here in Annecy. We're still crossing our fingers wishing for a snowstorm. We did have some snow fall last night, but who knows how long it'll stick. Definitely not enough for a nice day of skiing.
My French is coming along. I haven't met with my tutor in a few weeks due to the holiday craziness, but will be starting again this week. I'm still volunteering a few hours a week at the artisan store. Last week, I met a volunteer who's a Palestinian refugee. When I entered the store, I spotted him speaking English to a couple of young ladies who were looking for items to buy. As I was ringing them up, I asked them where they were from, "Israel", they answered. That's when I learned about the volunteer being from Palestine. I wanted to scream, "Can't we all just get along?". It was a powerful moment. As I was listening to the three of them speak, I surprised myself by trying to translate their conversation to the other volunteers who don't know English very well or at all.
D and I spent NYE with some friends who were married this past October (my first French wedding). There were 15 of us in attendance. First, we went on a nice, casual hike. After the hike and a warm mug of tea, we prepped for dinner (raclette) and the events to proceed after dinner. I'm learning that the French love costume parties. This was our third. We forgot that the first two were costume parties and came unprepared. I wasn't going to let that happen again. The theme for NYE: winter. Not too difficult. Darin and I hate prepping for costume parties. Too much work. We decided to dress up as "snowfall in the night". This of-so-creative idea consisted of us wearing black clothes and hats with homemade white paper snowflakes pinned in all the right places. Funny enough, the hostess had the same idea but had shiny store-bought snowflakes.
In the country where meals last for hours and hours, we spent most of the evening sweating over the raclette machines, consuming way too many slices of different flavors of raclette cheeses (white wine, black pepper, mustard, red pimento flakes, smoked, garlic, goat, etc.), and me speaking enough French to put me to bed first. While digesting dinner, we did the gift exchange. Each of us brought a wrapped gift worth 5 Euros or less. Darin was the "Vanna White" during his part of the evening and would hold up a gift while someone else would pull out a name from a bowl. The person chosen was the one who received the gift. I liked this idea vs. the one where you can steal the gift from someone else. I didn't want to see any tears tonight. Especially from myself. Anyway, I unwrapped a bar of Swiss chocolate and a bottle of Genepi flavored syrup. Darin opened a set of shot glasses. The woman next to me opened a gizmo that one uses to massage their scalp. I was incredibly jealous and wanted to steal it. As midnight was approaching and dessert was beginning to be served, Darin did his "thing" and popped open a bottle of champagne by rubbing the neck of the bottle with a knife. Dessert ended around 1 am and that's when I began to fade and made my way up the stairs and into my sleeping bag. My hours of speaking French in 2006 were over.