Leave of Absence


Dear Readers,

Whether you are a long time reader or have just visited my blog, it won’t take you long to learn that I am a PhD student. I have written about the PhD process over the past few years and you will see that it is both a pleasure and a challenge. This latter part is especially the case now as I am in the final months of finishing my PhD thesis (‘dissertation’ to Americans).

I used to write book reviews, post recipes, pictures of favourite things about the place I live, updates about life, the news, anything. And you will have noticed that these things have trickled to a stop over the last few months. Anything that I feel ‘responsible’ for that isn’t absolutely necessary to life is being put on pause for the next couple of months, both online and offline.

So this post is to say that I am taking a Leave of Absence from this blog. Please be patient and check back in December.

Because I know some of my readers will be wondering, here are a few ideas if you want to know how to help me in the meantime: Please pray that I will have good health and energy and that my arthritis won’t flare up again. (This is very important. I suffer from headaches and fatigue enough that I don’t need my arthritis to flare up again, too.) Pray that what I need will be in the libraries I will be visiting and that I won’t have delays in doing last minute research. Pray that I won’t get too seasonally depressed by the coming dark, cold Scottish winter. And if you’re not the praying sort, then words of encouragement will help me a lot. If you’re someone who knows my actual snail mail address, then care packages with snacks and things that will make me happy will be most welcome. Thank you.

See you on the other side!

Kind regards,

Strange metaphors

A snippet of a recent conversation:

Chera: I submitted Elena’s thesis today. I feel like a thesis midwife. This is the third thesis I’ve helped deliver.

F.: Don’t worry. You’re pregnant now with your own thesis, and you will deliver it very soon.

Chera: Does this mean I can eat anything I want?

F.: Only what’s good for the thesis…

So far this includes dark chocolate Kit Kats, copious amounts of tea, and lots of yoghurt.

Favourite things

The Duchess:

IMG_9264 IMG_9262


(Click photos to enlarge)

This is my new bicycle, though I’ve had her for about a month now. She’s an electric bike and she has made my life SO much easier because I just haven’t had the same energy since my last flare up. I can actually keep up with F. now and before he moved to Oxford, we even cycled to Tentsmuir Forest — 10 miles away! The basket is new from this past week: I bought a wine crate and stained and varnished it myself. (A long project when you can only do it in bits and pieces.) F. helped drill the holes while he was here, but I did everything else. Eventually I’ll get around to getting new pannier bags, but not any time soon.

Isn’t she pretty?


This is just an update.

  • Yes, I am still alive. Today might be day #3 in bed, two days after a visit to the A&E (ER to Americans), but I’m feeling better and I might even eat real food today.
  • My conference went really well. My paper was received with interest and I received lots of helpful feedback.
  • However, I’ve noticed that whenever I take public transport from one end of the country to the other, I get ill. This may mean that the next train journey I have down south (to Oxford!), I will be the passenger sporting a face mask.
  • Due to illness, I wasn’t able to participate in any of the 600th anniversary events this week. I had a ticket to the graduation ceremony and they even did background checks for that! But I watched most of the ceremony on live stream, before I was taken ill…

So no, I didn’t get to meet Judith Butler, Rowan Williams, et. al. in person, but I did get to see them on my computer. Sigh. And I was able to see some of the fireworks from my house, so that’s a bonus. I’m still annoyed though because it’s not like I’m going to be around for the next centenary of my university.

Anyhow, I am getting better, and I hope to be well by Tuesday (which is in TWO DAYS), because it will be a certain someone’s birthday and he will be visiting…

Favourite things

The Easter Cat:


So named because I first met her one Easter a couple of years ago. (Though some call her ‘Princess Tripod’, which I think is rather undignified.) She is both ferocious and friendly. She has three legs, but that doesn’t slow her down! I have seen her leap onto walls and chase ducks. We’ve even played tag.

Writing up

The ship to Avalon has set sail. I’m standing on the shore waving at it gleefully as it sails away. Dear readers, ladies and gentlemen, the last chapter of my thesis is finished.


This is my desk when I’m in the middle of writing.

Well, the draft is finished. It still needs to be revised once my supervisor has looked at it. And I still need to revise my conference paper based on the Avalon chapter for the presentation I’m giving on Monday. And then there’s that gaping hole in Chapter 4 I need to fix, and Chapter 1 still needs a conclusion, and then I have to write the introduction and conclusion—


Avalon was my last chapter written from scratch. It’s only cleaning-up editing from here on out, and the only new writing will be the introduction and conclusion. There is Hope, after all!

Meal planning

OK, I know I ranted about cleaning schedules earlier and how unrealistic they are, but I suppose I have my own random super-planning schedules, too…

I’ve already started going into ‘tunnel mode’ in order finish my thesis. The only way I’ve been feeding myself the past few months is by eating out or because my mom and F. have been cooking for me. I just haven’t had the mental energy to come home and then figure out what I’m going to eat. Since he isn’t going to be here to cook for me daily, last week F. did a LOT of batch cooking and has stocked up my freezer with a month’s worth of frozen meals.IMG_9194

  • 10 servings of ratatouillie,
  • 6 servings of potato & carrot pasties,
  • 6 servings of roast tomato & spinach pasta sauce,
  • 4 servings of sugarsnap & savoy stir fry,
  • 2 servings of leek & courgette stir fry,
  • 2 servings of vegetable lasagne.

Basically, the goal is to not cook dinner for myself until I submit my thesis. Since he’s made thirty (30!) freezer meals, I think that’s going to be possible!

See? My absurd planning goes into organising my work and planning my meals. I’ve prepared for September, and I’ve started planning October, too…

(click to enlarge)

I’m pretty much set to only cook once a week in order to have soups for lunch for the next two months.* (Friends, send me your favourite soup recipes so I don’t get bored with the same old same old!)

Any suggestions for more batch cooking for October and November?

* The produce stall at church yesterday was selling jars of soup! I got a jar with three servings of curried parsnip soup. One less thing to cook this week.