By the time you read this, I will have had my last, or nearly my last, working meeting with my dissertation advisers and will be well on my way to finalize my 13,000+ word masterpiece. As I shared with you in my last post, I have spent 4-6 hours a day for nearly seven weeks writing, editing, and re-writing my draft. Oxford requires my submission in three weeks and I am ready to complete this project. The process has been an all consuming labor of love that has crept into my subconscious. I’ve literally been dreaming about it.

Since arriving, I have had to draw on untapped reservoirs of strength, compassion, love, trust, and fortitude. If you follow me on Facebook you see the cream, the fun, the good times; but this journey is still painful, challenging, and lonely. The virus and its impact is still with me. The good days are good and the bad days are hollowing. This passage resonated with me:

“I am but paper. Brittle and thin. I am held up to the sun, and it shines right through me. I get written on, and I can never be used again. These scratches are a history. They’re a story. They tell things for others to read, but they only see the words, and not what the words are written upon. I am but paper, and though there are many like me, none are exactly the same. I am parched parchment. I have lines. I have holes. Get me wet, and I melt. Light me on fire, and I burn. Take me in hardened hands, and I crumple. I tear. I am but paper. Brittle and thin.” 
- T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

I will need to vacate my flat by early Sept., and the Delta variant continues to spread the specter of another lock-down. My time is ticking down and that means — and I cannot believe I am thinking about his — that I need to start thinking about applying for PhD programs in the US to start in the Fall of 2022. I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring, I hope it is at least a continuation of this level of freedom and safety, but I am not sure what the future will bring or what I will need to do to adapt so I can get me home to those I love and so very much miss.

Stay safe, stay happy, and do something amazing.

The Things Cameron Has Seen Walking Around

Oxford is a very old city, but I had no idea that many of its Jurassic residents still roamed its streets and meadows.

Oh, we also have lamas here.

And superheros.

I stumbled across this little gem at the market and chuckled because it reminded me of Philadelphia. My friends and old neighbors with their Philly accent pronounce the word ‘Eagles’ as ‘Igg-els’. So, if you say the above fast these could be Eagles Cakes.

Punting, standing on a small boat pushing yourself along with a pole, is a traditional and honored activity here. Personally, I think it is not only fraught with danger because of the likelihood of tipping over, but it has to be one of the dumbest activities I’ve yet seen. So, yes, I am pretty sure I will be giving it a try at some point soon.

I vote for the universal adoption of Gumdrop boxes.

After a long hike last week I took a rest at a pop-up beer garden across the Thames River from the Port Meadow at The Perch. It seems that as soon as the sun comes out my fellow Oxfordians, and from the weeks of clouds and rain that we tend to go through I can’t blame them, adopt an attitude of it being FULL ON SUMMER no matter the water temperature.

On that same hike, I passed this couple preparing their tea. If you look closely, you can see their portable camping burner and kettle. I tip my hat to their dedication and love for afternoon tea.

Champaign at a pub? Apparently, yes.

My newly discovered, perfect pub snack. I am grateful to have been introduced to it.

And, during that same pub trip, I met a chap who made the most out of the lock-down by teaching himself cuneiform. These are his flashcards.

Americans, let me know when you figure this bus sign out. To my local UK friends, you won’t understand the confusion the ‘4st’ creates.

‘Mind that child’ and ‘mind the gap’, I love it.

Window latch and clasp still in use in Bath, UK.

The stone inscription is hard to see, but this stone vase and its pair were proudly displayed in a park in Bath, UK. I was struck by the fact that they were brought back to England as trophies from the Napoleonic wars and the wonderful sign. At one point in time they were gifts from Napoleon to Josephine. Little looted treasures like these are all over the UK to celebrate the Empire and to not be urinated on.

These brave solders are from a display case — one of hundreds filled with porcelain, gold and silver decorative items, statues, and collectables — at Blenheim Palace. I end with this image to urge you to keep pushing, to keep loving, to keep stretching, and to keep fighting for not just what you want, but to help others. Use this utter mess of a pandemic to come out on the other side stronger, happier, and more focused on not just getting back to normal, whatever that is now, but to go beyond what makes you comfortable. We’re in this together, so let’s make it better.