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Something we often pondered while driving in France: Why do they have signs that say "All directions" and "Other directions" right next to each other? It seems odd.

I miss the narrow roads all ready. They didn't make driving that much harder, yet being a pedestrian was far easier. I felt like a scurrying animal on my way home with groceries yesterday on foot dodging traffic.

On our five hour drive to Chuck D (my new nick name for Charles De Gaulle airport- somehow it helps me like it more- as do the free luggage carts) we stopped at a gas station etc. and I saw an appalling newspaper headline. It was a cartoon of Michael Jackson as a skeleton and a caption to the effect of "Now he really is white." Whoa. Most offensive thing I've ever seen in France I think.

Its good to be back with my hubinator and my kitties. Engels slept next to me today when I was crashed out after an awful medical procedure (which, for the sake of us all, I won't describe).

Housework is overwhelming. I did a lot of housework over in France (we stay for free at my advisers house, but we pay for it in being housekeepers, cooks, etc.) and now I'm doing a lot of housework here when I should be finishing my Anth 101 syllabus for Fall. Dammit. No more internet noodlings for me. Back to work.
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We finished the workshop. Reviews were very very good. It was gratifying. I got super duper sick for the last half of the workshop and missed a day. That was disappointing, but not a disaster. I did do a bit o' good networking, so I have a new contact. Hooray. I'm going to arrange for him to come and do a colloquium talk in Fall at UNC.

I am going to miss France, but not having the stress of driving and herding academics for a week. It'll be good to go home. I miss my sweetie.

I got some ideas for my forest survey. I'm going to have to get up to speed on the ecologists statistics. And I now have notion of how to do it. "Gradients" are going to be important, so I have to pay attention to slope and aspect in my sampling. Given how crazy hilly this area is, and the size of the patches I'm working with (small) this is going to be interesting. I do hope I can get some proxy data via tax records for harvesting information. We'll see. Its a big project and I really wish we had a field ecologist for a collaborator.

Had a discussion with my adviser C regarding career stuff. She agrees with W that I need to improve my French to keep working here. She also said it would be a good idea to email I.R. to see if he had datasets that I could work on. He does CRM stuff in Europe, so it is likely that he'll have materials.

Today we are going to go out and look at some crop marks. Its our last day, so we are taking it a bit easy. We are going to have dinner at the Uxeau cafe, which is nice. Less work there and good cheap food to boot. We'll need to pack (oooh, this is going to be haaard) and clean a bit. Tomorrow we drive to Paris and depart. I kind of hate the A6, but that's the fastest road so that's what we are doing. Ugh.
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Everything here is so pretty. I keep wanting to shout that periodically. I will buy a house around here at some point. All the locals will think I'm Dutch. That's okay.

There were many Mairie visits yesterday (Vendenesse, Toulon sur Arroux, Issy L'Evec, M- oh crap can't remember right now- too much wine) and I played chauffeur for my injured colleague and took pictures of historic maps.

Today we visited the ceramic artist Carla, who is a Dutch ex-pat. I purchased a few things and I hope they get home safe. She is so awesome, I met her in 2003 and I was glad to see her again.

We also picked up the vans for the workshop (oh, man, I'm dreading all this driving, hairpin turns on the narrowist of roads) which took a couple of hours. And we had a lovely lovely meal provided by my most excellent colleague Will where we got to know the director/funder person of the workshop we are doing. She's cool, which is a big relief, as her emails made her sound irritated.

I have decided the key variable in my forest survey is going to be harvesting rates/use of the forests. Some are left alone (few) most are harvested, some are plantations. How much they are harvested varies. I'm also curious about the number of owners a forest has and how that might effect species composition or not (many forests are divided into many plots). The ownership variable is pretty straight forward. The harvesting variable... we don't have that data yet. It may exist though. We expect tax records may shed some light on the subject, at least in the first part of the study period (1800-1930 approximately). The methods of survey are still going to be problematic. I hope I have a brainstorm and a solution appears.

The cat is curled up in bed with me. She is a very standoffish little thing, so I'm a bit surprised. She is more than welcome, though, as she makes a fine defense against the local rodent population.

This is the text of the post I tried to post yesterday:
One of these fell from the ceiling of the bedroom I'm staying in, repeatedly, last night starting at about 2 AM. I set the resident cat on it, and the cat took care of it. My lovely colleague woke up and briskly got a broom and dustpan and pitched the corpse out the bedroom window. My other lovely colleague woke up and after being told what all the ruckuss was about, announced "I wanna see it" and bounced out of bed to view the corpse because she is terribly charming and funny.

Sigh. I'm pooped. Today we wandered around and I was the snake scaring person for the charming colleague who was taking water samples in a dryish pond area. I gave her some ideas about things (like pointing out that the burning on the hillside was probably making the water alkali). I also took pictures of casdastral maps at the very well taken care of Uxeau Marie.

I have been trying to think about scale, and how I might organize a forest survey in this area. I want to compare species diversity and composition between longstanding forest patches and newer ones, and also based on how many owners the patches have over the duration of our GIS. I am not an ecologist. I am also not a botanist, per ce. I recognize the in over my head thing, but given the fact I have consulted forest ecologists in this matter and not gotten solid advice, I'm figuring I'll just keep trying to figure something out even if I'm not technically qualified. The problem is that the patches are relatively small and heavily managed, so the usual 30 meter square isn't going to work. I'm thinking maybe of figuring out the average patch size, using that, and walking x numbers of transects over it. I mean, cripes, if anything I know its survey, just archeological survey not tree survey. No reason I can't apply the same strategies, I don't think. I wish I could find some good references to back my ideas up though.

I'm not a proper botanist either, and I have old French friends of my advisers bringing plants for me to identify. Oy vey. We'll see how this goes.

The workshop we are doing continues to be irritating. The funders continually get basic facts wrong or mixed up and then we have to do damage control with the participants. But the show will go on. The problems are administrative, not substantive and ultimately aren't my problem. So there.

On the bright side...
I love Regal De Bourgogne cheese. Its this sweet, soft, cows cheese covered in Marc (a liqueur) soaked raisins. I might have to revise my atheism in the face of this cheese. I've only found it once in the states and it was a tiny tiny slice for 12 dollars. Here you get a ball of it for around 8. Aaah, I love France.
ilex_cassine: (Default)
There seems to be some sort of Sturgis with crotch rockets going on around here. There are a lot of motorcycle groups zipping around. Which I don't remember.

As far as the landscape goes... more Limosin cattle (rust color) as opposed to 100% Charollais (white cattle). More sheep. Instead of just cattle feed, corn and hay, there is also some wheat being grown. I expect this is because wheat prices have been high globally.

We went up to Bibracte for the museum and they were having a La Tene exhibition. So I got to see a few artifacts from the site that named the time period. I was not as wowed as I thought I would be. And there were far fewer artifacts than I was expecting too. The museum at Bibracte is always lovely though, and the permanent exhibits reminded me of how to really present a site well.

There is a race being run up and down the Mont Dardon here, and so there is some hoopla. I've seen some of the runners. Its a 5k/10k being run up and down a very steep hill. I think I'm going to try to enter next year if I'm here (its possible, the geologues put in an NSF which included us, so who knows).

Tonight is the Celtic Fire. On the weekend of St. John's Day they have fires on all the hilltops around here. Lately there has been some replacement with fireworks, but on Dardon, there are still fires.
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We went to a little ceremony in Guegnon honoring WW2 vets today. Normally we wouldn't attend that sort of thing, but the person leading it was a friend of our adviser/project leader, he was 14 at the time of the broadcast. There was a small parade of flag bearers, they placed a floral display on the WW2 monument, and some ladies sang a memorial song and then the La Marseillaise. My French is not good but it was an interesting experience anyway. At the after party (wine) they toasted us as "The Four Americans" (if I ever have a band, there's a name) at the after party. It was a local experience that was cool to have. It freaked me out a little bit trying to understand folks (I did not even try to have a conversation with folks, my French is not up to that- good grief I'm aggravated by my lack of capacity for languages, I've tried to work on it for years and years and it just never clicks... I'm resigning myself to not being able to get it). Anyway, it was weird but good, and it got me thinking about WW2 and my grandfather a little bit. Lucien, the ceremony leader, spoke to us afterward about the concentration camps and his father being taken away by the Germans. He never saw his father again. Horrible. My grandfather liberated a concentration camp during WW2, I really should find out more about that.

We did find out about a collection of artifacts that is held privately from one of the folks at the reception. Its a sad thing that the elderly are dying off and these private collections are just being tossed, never cataloged, never used in research, gone.
ilex_cassine: (Default)
I thought I was going to post more while over here than I am managing. I'm really tired. First it was travel tired and now its work tired. We ran around and looked at things today. I identified some trees for my geologist colleague who had cored the trees last year but had not properly identified them. Which reminds me, I need to make sure those species are in the same red oak group; it may be problematic for her if they aren't. That was my big task for the day, but we also documented some ponds sites, and we checked out a spring site where ambiguous ceramics had been found.

And I made a huge dinner of Gueyere mac n' cheese with thick bacon bits on top and a salad. I love that the Gueyere is so cheap here. I need to make more things featuring it while I can.

So fricking tired. Oh, I said that all ready. Perhaps I should retire to my little bed under the stairs in the little basement room which is moldy (which is all much nicer that it sounds, its a refurbished farm building from the 1600's, so it has charming character up to wazoo).


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