Sunday, December 13, 2015

A busy month

A whole month has past since the last post -- not because nothing has happened but because we were too busy.  The biggest focus of attention was Ingrid and I finishing our chapter for the Annual Review of Phytopathology, titled The evolutionary ecology of plant disease: a phylogenetic perspective.  Writing an annual review is a huge undertaking, since it is supposed to be an authoritative, insightful, complete review of an area that also helps set the agenda for what most needs to be done next.
Working together was great as usual, dividing some tasks where we are most complementary in our strengths and then working together to craft the ideas, structure, and text.  It was a great chance for us to catch up on literature, clarify our thinking, and be creative in conveying why we think using phylogenetic tools is useful way beyond where they have been used so far.  We both learned a ton, and it will be really useful in our next writing projects coming up in January through June.  We sent that off on 1 December, and now are waiting for reviews and revisions sometime in the new year.  Great thanks to the Jordano lab group at the EBD for all their tremendous support and insightful comments that really helped shape how we presented our ideas.  
I have also been really busy with grad student activities, with Heather and Sharifa finishing up, Juniper doing her qualifying exam, and Jessica and Shannon submitting grants. 

Ingrid and I got to take two field trips with people from the Jordano and Vilà labs to help bring in long-term seed traps and visit and ongoing diversity experiment that we might layer some disease work into.  These were great opportunities to spend good time in the field with the great scientists in the groups plus see some cool regions -- one full of wild olives and laurels and the other seasonal marshes. 
The research sites are too far from Sevilla for a quick visit, but close enough to be able to get in a good day's work. 

There were also lots of great birds coming in for the winter.  

Eli and I made a cheesecake for Ingrid's birthday, and a few days later we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey and all the usual accompanying dishes except cranberry sauce -- there are no cranberries to be had anywhere.  We shared our dinner with friends from Eli's music conservatory, a Peruvian-Venezuelan-Spanish family of artists, with hours of lively and fun conversation. 

We also experienced two very Sevillian events -- the annual Arabian horse show (with hundreds of thousands of visitors), and yet another parade by our flat -- but this time with Jesus instead of Mary riding the platform. 

Finally, it was time to head back to California for a mid-sabbatical visit.  We discovered that we made flight arrangements for a Wednesday many months ago, but that Eli had that Monday and Tuesday as a "super puente", days off of school.  So we found a great air b-n-b in Madrid and headed north on the super-fast AVE train on Sunday to spend a few days visiting museums before flying out.  Wonderful collections of Goya (here shown, not too happy with the treatment he gets from pigeons), Picasso (really cool to see Guernica in person), El Greco, El Bosco, Velázquez, Dali, and more.  Both El Prado and the Reina Sophia museums were like thumbing through my old art history text books. 
We even got to row a boat around a lake -- Eli's first time rowing! Oh, and really great churros con chocolate -- hot chocolate so thick it verges on warm pudding!