daze of vines in rows(es)

SPIDER9There’s a giant spider living somewhere in my room. I’ve seen him once. I turned away to grab a shoe (to gently convince him to live elsewhere, you see), and turned back around just in time to see him scuttling under my bed (…the horror!) I haven’t seen him since… clearly his intelligence is evolving. He’s biding his time until I relax my guard.

Maybe even gathering reinforcements…

Dammit.   Let’s talk about something else.

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the hills are a lie

The carcasses of a deer and a wild boar are hanging up in a cold locker in my backyard right now. The former is roadkill, recovered by my landlord; the latter a prize from hunting the night before. It’s clear we’re not in Kansas anymore… The views here are spectacular but I’m realizing that there’s much more to Alsace than the picture-perfect images of mountains, quaint houses and vines absolutely everywhere. What is certain is that any romanticized expectations I may have previously harboured about working in the vines are well and truly dashed. My arms and legs are covered in fly, mosquito, spider and even horsefly bites, not to mention thistle spines, bruises and sunburn (the latter thankfully camouflages the worst of it). It actually reminds me a lot of my camino experience – physically demanding and exhausting but mentally exhilarating and rewarding. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

New digs, and the neighbour checks us out. On the street where I live, you can see the clouds up in the vines.

Our new digs, and the neighbour checks us out suspiciously. On the street where I live, you can see the clouds up in the vines.

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à plus tard, Bordeaux; salü Turckheim!

School’s. Out. For. Summer! It’s brilliant to have all the assignments behind us now. (Actually, all but one. A surprise take-home exam snuck its way onto the roster juuuuust before the last day of school. But, mentally and certainly geographically as much as one can say that, the semester is over, and that’s what’s important.) We have put a lid on the technical audit that has consumed our time for the last two months, culminating in our final presentations.

The fruits of our labour! A lot of work analysing the domaine, including the age of the vines (these ones were just planted), the soil, and the vigour (like how fast they start budding). Excel spreadsheets galore. Some moments of insight! And finally one of the presentations.

The fruits of our labour: a lot of work analyzing the vineyard, including the age of the vines (these ones were just planted), the soil, and the vigour (like how fast they start budding). Spreadsheets galore. Some moments of insight! And we’re finally ready to present.

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here’s looking at you, alsace

“It’s possible that I have some control issues…” I begin saying, but my friend’s chuckles cut me off before I can finish the thought …after nine years of being a project manager… Dammit. OK, there’s probably some truth in that, particularly as I’m determined to write about the past week in chronological order, even though the bits at the beginning of the week are suspiciously blurry. After three days in Alsace, stumbling about in a food-and-drink stupor, you’ll understand why I leave you with mostly pictures for this post. Apologies for the brevity of this post (though 1000 words x # pictures… surely counts for something?), but it’s another busy week which I’ll get to in the next post (coming soon, as there was too much to put into one entry). Read More

all the world’s a stage

Talk about an awkward ele-vader encounter.

Talk about an awkward ele-vader encounter.

Although I like to tell myself that I am the soul of wit and easy repartee in English (constantly…validation is so comforting!), it’s becoming painfully obvious that I’m nowhere close in French. Generously, I’m about the level of awkward elevator dialogue: my conversational one-two punch is 1) the weather and 2) how’s it going..? – with the hope that the answer is a simple ‘fine’, or ‘ça va’ as, with nothing left in my verbal arsenal, my follow up usually reverts back to 1) the weather. Fortunately, I am somewhat less terrible at hearing and understanding French, more so in person than, for example, over the phone. I’ve made much more progress here, but I need to focus very hard to pick up on facial and vocal cues to understand the words and context. Were I to be less forgiving, I might admit that it probably looks suspiciously like staring. So: awkward elevator encounter with someone who says next to nothing and stares, probably stands too close, and that’s French me in a nutshell. (I’m a hoot. We should totally hang out some time.) …This is why I prefer to communicate via email. Read More