Dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed – as much as I have – my latest Facebook-posted adventures. The Oxford investigations continue, I am staying well-fed with college meals and flat chefing, and now have two massively important and rewarding road trips to Dover and Wales under my belt. (See my Facebook page for more detail.) But I must confess, they, other than my first vaccination and spending time with my UK friends, have not been my prime focus. In fact, they have been an intentionally needed distraction, because I am now utterly consumed with one thing: my thesis.

By July I need to submit a comprehensive, 15,000-word master’s thesis. I have been waiting to get to this project since I arrived, but I first had to get through some demanding history theory and foundational courses. They did not overlap with my preferred area of specialization, early American history, but they challenged me to begin thinking, writing, and researching like a historian. Now, I am not bold enough to think that I know what I am yet doing, just ask my advisers – HA, but I am on my way.

The work that has gone into getting me to this point has been monumental. In all actuality, I began reading about the period, players, institutions, political and social machinations, Tobias Lear, and George Washington last Christmas because I knew I needed to know a whole lot, about a small period of history. Context is ephemeral and illusive, so it will not be easily attainable. If I was a betting man, I would wager that I have read, to date, somewhere around 11,000 pages of text.

I am daunted by the challenge of distilling my research and reading notes into an archive that I can access. Currently, I am using spreadsheets and Word documents to record what I have read and thought about, but at some point I may need to take the leap and use a program designed to footnote and archive.

Right now, the hardest thing is having the discipline to sit and write, because there are always temptations to pull me away from the work, but I try to block them out so I can ‘write the jawn’. It is not easy. It is all consuming, and, believe it or not, I am dreaming about my ideas, outlines, and subjects, which is equally bizarre and laughable. I currently have about 3,000 words in the can, but I have so much more to do. I expect to go beyond the 15,000 words and then, over time, distill it to something within the requirements.

My process is to write, re-write, write to compress, write to add needed information and historiography, and then do it all over again. From my experience, and if this person is out there who can do it one pass I bow to your ability, the best writing for me is re-writing. I liken it to refinishing a piece of furniture, it is coat after coat after coat of stain and varnish until the wood grains have taken in their new color and the varnish shines like a sheet of glass.

These next few weeks will be nothing more than succumbing to the blunt force of the thesis’ demands to force me to sit down for five to eight hours a day to write a first draft. Once I can do that, I will feel so much better and will be able to comb through my notes and add that glorious depth, color, and shine to the story of how George Washington operationalized the American presidency with allies like Tobas Lear.

So, please forgive me if I am quiet these next few weeks, but know I am working hard. In the meantime, I hope you and your family are well, safe, and happy.


Their signs are in Welsh and English, and

Upon entering this member of the United Kingdom, be aware that it is guarded by dragons and seagulls of equal ferocity,

The landscape is stunning. This is just one of the many rapeseed fields I passed heading west. (Apologies for the blurry photos above, but they were taken from a moving car.)

I have discovered — sadly I’m not too good at it at all — geocaching. I may have said too much, so I encourage you to investigate on your own.

In a previous blog, she was pictured in the water on her starboard side. Now she is back afloat on the Thames. I think, and am not sure because the signage is somewhat unclear, the vessel may have been part of the Dunkirk evacuation. If so, she should be refurbished and preserved.

My favorite Dover door.

Despite its rickety, rusted state, I am please to announce that the grilling season at the Stonemason House has begun with much success.

Any person who works for the cable company, please look away, this is probably your worst nightmare.

Aeronaut? I love this place.

This plaque is attached to the Westgate Mall, now I understand where the name came from.

Down the street from the above plaque, is the Royal Blenheim, the pub that had the best fish and chips I have ever had, sadly, they are still closed. Sigh, fingers crossed that we all can safely get back to normal soon and our favorite pubs and restaurants can survive and prosper.

Do you know what this is and what it is for? Hint: It involves your shoes.

I feel so very safe here, but one must always lock up your bicycle.

There are palm trees, ferns, and hearty trees like this one all around here. I know they are imported, but I still am amazed that they are surviving.

Snow and spring.

The weather swings from cold to rainy to windy to sunny, but the days are getting so much longer and so much more warm. These are some of the gems I pass every day.

For those of you who know me I have some order and cleanliness-related proclivities. This makes me SO HAPPY!