Sunday, November 22, 2009

On to the next Abe adventure

The Amazing Abe Adventure 2009 has drawn to a close. In its place, I face the reality of laundry to be folded, bills to be paid, a return to work. My two-week Lincoln adventure in Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg will be replaced with real life, with Lincoln squeezed in between the must-dos.

What will my next Amazing Abe Adventures be? Trips, books, speeches? Yes, I want to. Yes, I plan to. Yes, I'm hoping.

During the Washington, D.C. stint of our trip, I realized there is much more there I need to see and do, including using my new Library of Congress reader card. Having one and "getting the taste a bit" convinces me I've not seen the last of the manuscript room.

The Lincoln Forum Symposium was all I'd hoped it would be and more. It won't be my last. And, now that I know of the other interesting commemorative activities Gettysburg hosts each year, I am convinced I'll want to return there as well.

I'm also looking forward to visiting Lincoln's haunts in Kentucky and Indiana, including making time to see the Library of Congress Lincoln exhibit when Indiana hosts it.

And then there's the blog, Twitter, book reviews, scholarly papers, my planned Lincoln books - three or four, at least - and giving speeches about Lincoln again.

Yep, my next Abe adventures have just begun. Sometimes, as on my recent trip, I'll meet myself coming and going. If, however, I can continue to live my mission of spreading enthusiasm about the life and legacy of Lincoln, it will all be worth it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gettysburg commemorates with class

It's our last full day in Gettysburg and leaving is hard. In just a few short days, I've grown quite fond of this town where Lincoln's 10 sentences still resonate and the spirits of those who fought and died still radiate.

Why is it, do you suppose, that on the days we turn out to commemorate our veterans or war dead, the sun seems to shut its eyelids and release its tears? It happened last Wednesday at Arlington and again today at Gettysburg. The drizzle didn't stop the ceremony, though, and Gettysburg did it up right. I tweeted during the event, so you can get a flavor of it there. I'll write more in a future blog post.

Thanks to the rain, I had to do a little "hair repair" before going to my next event - the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania's luncheon at Gettysburg College. Talk about doing something right - this event was so jam-packed and enjoyable that I was nearly an hour late meeting my hubby and didn't even realize how much time had passed. Met some very interesting, very talented, very promising and very well-loved folks. Can't wait to tell you about them, but I'll have to save these stories, too, for another day.

I spent my afternoon in downtown Gettysburg, visiting the newly restored Wills House, the train station and a yummy restaurant the townies choose. We closed our day at the historic Majestic Theatre, where we heard a world-class world premiere of a musical production, a very inspirational talk by author Jeff Shaara, a very, very funny acceptance speech by young author Nick Taylor, recipient of the Michael Shaara award for Civil War Fiction, and a speech by Michael Burlingame that entertains no matter now many times I've heard parts of it. And, Michael, you've got another feather in your hat. You just may have hooked my hubby on Lincoln!

The Amazing Abe Adventure is winding down and I'm starting to feel like an unwound wind-up toy. It's been a long couple weeks, but a time I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. Hope you felt a little of my excitement along the way and share even more of my enthusiasm for Lincoln. If so, the late nights and early mornings were worth it. Come back to visit the blog again. I'll try to tell you more about many of the people I met, talks I heard, things I experienced.

I'll be leaving Gettysburg, but I don't think it will ever leave me. I won't even try to put into words the power of this place. I just don't think it can be done.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brevity of words served Lincoln well

As my time at the Lincoln Forum ends, I’m reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s brevity of words . I’m also tired, so keeping this short seems fitting and proper.

The Lincoln Forum was magnificent. Everyone who loves history, Lincoln, the Civil War or being among friends should go. Fair warning, though – it’s like a popular brand of potato chips. You won’t be able to stop at just one.

Author Fred Kaplan started this last day with “Lincoln’s Genius with Language” and showed his own genius as well.

Harold Holzer moderated a panel where Catherine Clinton, Jason Emerson and Charles Lachman disussed Lincoln “Family Matters.” From their ancestors to Lincoln’s grandchildren, it was obvious family did matter to Lincoln.

We had free time in the afternoon to explore Gettysburg, starting with the Wills House. I didn’t get my Wills tour in today, though. I had some Lincoln business to attend to in a couple downtown shops.

Our evening speaker was to be Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, but since her husband passed away last week, Richard Dreyfuss filled in as the dinner speaker. His reading of the Second Inaugural Address would have made Lincoln proud. Our sympathy to Justice O’Connor and family.

I’m close to using up my word count and tired to boot, so I’ll be back with more on The Amazing Abe Adventure another day. In the meantime, keep the Lincoln legacy alive in your world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Long days, short nights, but worth it

As I'm sitting here late at night in a room far from home, I'm reminded of other nights long ago when something kept me up late. Back then it was one of two soft little bundles needing to be rocked to sleep and put to bed. Though the days of staying up late with my young daughters is long gone, I am up late with another of my babies. Even after a long day at the Lincoln Forum Symposium, I can't go to sleep until I've tucked my baby in bed. This time, though, the baby is a blog.

Lincoln Forum XIV
I'm at the 14th Annual Lincoln Forum Symposium in Gettysburg, my first. If you follow me on Twitter, you may already have a pretty good idea of today's activities. If you don't, I'll let you in a little on the fun.

I never get tired of learning new things about Lincoln, and today was no exception. I couldn't have asked for a more engaging lineup:
  • Eileen Mackevich filled us in on the accomplishments of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and, believe me, they're impressive.
  • John Marszaleck reported on the U.S. Grant Papers. After hearing him speak, I know they're in good hands.
  • Ron White used Lincoln's eloquence himself in his presentation, "Abraham Lincoln 2009: Wisdom for Today."
  • Vernon Burton was as enthusiastic as always as he shared his "Age of Lincoln" talk.
  • Catherine Clinton's "Mary Lincoln Reconsidered" entertained as only Clinton can. She's one spunky historian - and one of too few women writing about history.
  • Lewis Lehrman hit the mark with his talk about the Peoria speech. "Lincoln at the Turning Point: From Peoria to the Presidency" even attracted a question from one of my Twitter followers.
  • Daniel Weinberg led a great panel on Lincoln collecting, with Lewis Lehrman, Frank J. Williams, Norman Boaz and Don McCue
  • English Lincoln scholar Richard Carwardine rounded out the evening with "Just Laughter: The Moral Springs of Lincoln's Humor."

I'll try to come back to some of these in more depth later, but I think I'll turn the baby in tonight and get some shuteye myself. Follow me on Twitter tomorrow. Tomorrow night's speaker is sure to be a crowd pleaser - one of my favorties and one who has brought joy to many others through the years. Tomorrow is another Amazing Abe Adventure. Hope you'll join me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog post 200 celebrates a dream come true

I wonder if Abraham Lincoln ever got frustrated with the telegraph. Where's Tom Wheeler, the Lincoln and the telegraph expert, when you need him? Bet he could tell us!

I just had one of the coolest experiences of my life. I sat down and poured it all out in a blog post sharing why I've just had a dream come true, and lost everything I wrote when my hotel Internet connection cut off. Guess that will teach me to write them in Word first instead of typing directly into the blog publishing tool. And, on top of that, it's my 200th post!

So what's the dream?
I am in Gettysburg, Pa. at the Lincoln Forum Symposium with nearly 300 other Lincoln enthusiasts and/or scholars celebrating the life and legacy of our 16th President. I've wanted to come to a Lincoln Forum Symposium ever since 2005. You can read why in my tribute to the late David Herbert Donald. I took the advice he, Harold Holzer and Matt Pinsker gave me when the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened - and I'm not disappointed.

If you're not a Lincoln buff, but you like sports, imagine what it would be like to get all the top athletes into one room at same time - but leave the ego behind. The Lincoln scholars I've met are the most supportive, humble people I know, and the Lincoln buffs here are just as enthusiastic as I am. It's a great place to be.

McPherson on Lincoln
I got to hear James McPherson speak tonight and there are lots more great speakers to come in the next two days. McPherson's talk on "Lincoln and the West" was a fine reminder that the West in Lincoln's day and before was much further east than the West of which we often are reminded. He also spoke on one of my pet Lincoln projects - Lincoln and the railroad. You can bet this talk will be one of my sources as I move forward with my research.

I got to meet Dr. McPherson last night, and told him I'd reviewed one of his books. Unfortunately, that late at night at the end of a very long week and the start of another, I couldn't remember which one I'd reviewed. I looked at the three in front of me and wondered, "Which one did I review, and why don't I have it here?" I later realized it was his neat little 79-page volume, and I didn't have it with me because I'd read a library copy. Guess I'd better get my own before the next time I see him! It's a true gem - a short, easy and delightful read. Here's what I had to say about it.

Don't forget - I tweet, too
I'll try to share the enthusiasm as I can. I won't be blogging during the day, but I will tweet when possible. If you are a Lincoln buff and you want to know what we're up to out here in Gettysburg, follow me on Twitter, too. I'm also LincolnBuff2 on there. I'm almost at 600 Twitter followers. Wouldn't it be cool if we could hit that milestone during the Forum?

Watch out, though. I'll be in the clouds the next few days. Reading this blog and my tweets may elevate your Lincoln enthusiasm to new levels, too.

*Revised Nov. 17, 2009 to add further detail on McPherson talk and my review of his book

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The greatest president - differing views

I spent today in foreign territory - not foreign soil, though. Our Amazing Abe Adventure took us away from Abraham Lincoln sites and further back in our nation's history. We spend a beautiful, temperate, dry day at Washington's estate, Mount Vernon.

The last time I was at Mount Vernon was forty years ago this past June. My, has it changed since I was there. I don't remember all the parking lots, the brick paths, the restaurant and food court and the marvelous interpretive center and museum. Everything is done so nicely.

As I complemented one of the interpreters - a gentleman who had the privilege of speaking in Washington's library - on his work and Mount Vernon, I mentioned my interest in Lincoln. He commented on polls done from time to time on the greatest president. It was obvious we weren't going to have the same view, so without putting it into words, we seemed to politely agree to disagree. His argument was rather powerful though, as he said, "Without Washington, Lincoln wouldn't have had a nation to save."

Watch my future blog posts for a bit more on Mount Vernon and a Lincoln connection I found there. I'll also have a little to share with you about Alexandria, Va., the beautiful, bustling place where we spent a few hours this evening.

Enough of the first George W.
My visit to Mount Vernon was delightful, but this is The Amazing Abe Adventure, and I'm a Lincoln Buff. Tomorrow I move on to the next phase of my adventure.

The Lincoln Bicentennial has been one of the most exciting times of my life. I've met scores of fellow Lincoln buffs and many Lincoln scholars. I've visited Lincoln sites and attended Lincoln events. I've even been at two events where the president was the keynote speaker. I've seen more dreams come true in this past year than many do in lifetime. And, tomorrow, I'm off to fulfill the next one. Please come back to join me on the blog as my Lincoln adventure takes a new twist tomorrow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lincoln, Lincoln and more Lincoln

Where do I begin to tell about all my Lincoln adventures today? Washington, D.C. is just filled with Lincoln opportunities.

We started our day in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History with the Lincoln exhibit there. After lunch, I went to see the Lincoln exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery, the presidential portrait gallery and stood in the Great Hall. Each and every one of these experiences was extremely powerful, so please watch for more on them in future blog posts.

My evening was spent with an OnBoard tour of several historic sites, including the Lincoln Memorial. That in itself is an experience I'll remember all my life.

It's very late in D.C., and this old grannie is getting tired. Watch for the next Amazing Abe Adventure soon. In the meantime, check out my Lincoln adventure tweets.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The other White House and another Lincoln buff

The Amazing Abe Adventure continues. Today we visited Lincoln's Other White House - President Lincoln's Cottage. While we were there we met one of my Lincoln mentors' former students and some people with a connection to Hodgenville. Watch a future blog post to hear all about these people and this marvelous edifice.

One of my Lincoln buff friends had invited us over to talk Lincoln and have lunch. The visit was delightful, as was his wife and pooch. With some people, you feel as if you've always been friends. This was one of those times. Even the non-Lincoln buffs in the group hit it off.

We wound through Embassy Row on our way to the National Cathedral and realized we all need to take International Flags 101 all over again. It was embarrassing how few we could identify.

The National Cathedral was as magnificent as we expected and even more so. Can't wait to share some of the pics I took and the things I learned.

We wound through a very vibrant Georgetown on our trip back to the Potomac. All I kept thinking was, "Where do all these people come from?"

We ended our day with a visit to a really cool microbrewery where I found a beverage just to my liking and the happy hour appetizer prices were a pleasant surprise.

Correction - we almost ended our day at the microbrewery. Actually, when I came back to the room, I decided I should catch up a bit on laundry. Why is it that motel dryers cost an arm and a leg and don't even get your clothes dry?

We may have another adventure tomorrow - if the jeans finish drying, that is. Until then, find your own Lincoln adventure, learning about his connection to your locale, reading a book or visiting one of the many Lincoln websites listed at the left.

Be sure to return to Lincoln Buff 2 again. I'll be telling you more about all these exciting adventures as time allows. Catch ya later, fellow Lincoln buffs. Don't forget. You can follow me on Twitter, too, and experience the adventure as it happens.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

D.C. firsts don't disappoint

On day three of the Amazing Abe Adventure in D.C., we had one first after another - and savored every one of them.

Watch future blog posts to hear about my experiences learning the nuances of the Metro and believing, "I can do this!"

Learn my feelings upon my first visit to the U.S. Capitol, which included stops at the House and Senate galleries. In an upcoming post, I'll tell you how to get tickets and gallery passes, all about the cool people we met there and how to get to the Library of Congress without having to go out and get wet in a D.C. rain that won't end.

Hear all about my visit to the Library of Congress and my excitement at getting to register as a researcher there so I can do Lincoln research.

Let me tell you about at great restaurant we found in Shirlington, Va., and the good time we had with old friends there.

The D.C. adventure continues. Thanks to all who made today one I'll never forget. Come back to read in detail how you all made it so.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rain-drenched Veterans ceremony small sacrifice

This was day two of Lincoln Buff 2 and friends' Amazing Abe Adventure - our trip to Washington, D. C. to fulfill many lifelong dreams. Today's dream was my husband's first, and mine because it meant so much to him.

My Vietnam vet has wanted for some time now to go to Arlington National Cemetery for the Veterans Day ceremony. We got 'er done today - and in a big way. Didn't know ahead of time we'd get to see President Barack Obama speak.

Also didn't know we'd sit it the rain for several hours to honor the veterans and active duty military who serve our country. It was a small sacrifice, though, compared to that of our veterans and soldiers stationed around the world today. How can we ever thank them enough?

You may have seen some of my tweets from the ceremony. It was neat to be able to share history as it happened. I also shot some video I'm hoping I can use for YouTube. I'll let you know if I upload any when I have a little more time. It's late in D.C. now and I had a long day.

Watch also for blog posts about a restaurant we discovered in Arlington, Va. - Hard Times - and our first visit to Kennedy Center. More adventures to come, too, so come back to hear firsthand impressions of a Midwestern granny Lincoln Buff's trip to Washington, D.C.

Just one more thing, though. A question for D.C. folks: How in the heck do you find your way around? We've even got our poor GPS confused. To compensate for the frustration we've put her through, we've named her Martha. We had as much trouble getting back and forth across the Potomac as that other Martha who's hubby, George, was also an American vet and the first President of this great land. Oh, by the way, that guy has all kinds of things named after him. Maybe Martha misses him and that's why she kept taking us on his roadway.

Don't forget, you can also follow Lincoln Buff 2 on Twitter for history as it happens on The Amazing Abe Adventure.

To America's military and veterans, Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lincoln Buff 2 goes to Washington

Wow! I finally did it. My first trip to Washington, D.C. in 40 years. The last time was a whirlwind trip through the city in with my parents and younger sister with a stop at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Amazing Abe Adventure
I'm calling this trip The Amazing Abe Adventure. We arrived this morning, heading straight to 10th Street for our Ford's Theatre visit. We were fortunate to find valet parking in the garage next to the theatre. It was lunchtime, so our valet suggested Lincoln's Waffle Shop across the streeet. You'll hear more about it and the parking garage in a future blog post.

Today was another first for me - my first YouTube video. I actually shot two, but the first one just wasn't good enough to publish. I have a ways to go before I'll be offered a job by any film producers. My first video, of the exterior of Ford's Theatre was just too rough - lame dialogue, poor camera work and people walking in front of me as I shot. The second, however, was a little better, so you'll have to check out "Lincoln Buff 2 visits the Peterson House."

We had a special look at the theatre, spent time absorbing the magnificent displays in the new Ford's Theatre Museum and visited the Peterson House. It's been a long day and I don't want to short any of them, so watch for more on this adventure another day.

We also made a quick trip to the National Archives. We didn't plan nearly enough time for this depository of our nation's treasured documents. Watch for more on this, too, in the future. I've got pictures of today's adventures, but can more easily load them from my home computer. I'll be sure to include them in future blog posts.

For now, this tired Lincoln buff is going to cut the blog short to do some tweeting and catch up on email. Tomorrow The Amazing Abe Adventure takes us to Arlington Cemetery for Veterans Day ceremonies and to the National Mall. I'll get to see the Lincoln Memorial up close and personal. Can't wait.

To all the kind people I met today - at the waffle house, the Fords and the National Archives - thanks for your warm welcome. I'll be writing more about you later, so please come back.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Welcome to new visitors, thanks to returning readers

I'm thankful for the many loyal readers who visit Lincoln Buff 2. Lately, I've been a bit lax in doing fresh new blog posts as I've worked to catch up on some other obligations. I'm back...

Bursting with Lincoln lore
When I started this blog, it was because I was learning so much about Lincoln that I just knew I'd explode if I couldn't share all of this great knowledge. I also wanted to help spread enthusiasm about the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln in celebration of the bicentennial of his birth.

As I took a Lincoln course at Heartland College, attended lectures at the McLean County Museum of History, the Lincoln Colloquium at Knox College, Bicentennial events in Springfield and the Illinois History Symposium in Jacksonville, I shared stories about the things I learned and the people I met who knew so much more about Lincoln than I do.

I also wrote about Lincoln books, Lincoln productions and Lincoln sites. Watch for more of the same.

Fun stuff to come
I'll soon be sharing stories about Washington, D.C. sites with connections to Lincoln, helping you to experience just a little of the enthusiasm I feel as I visit these sites. Later, I'll also have more for you as I share what I learn at scholarly events.

Tweeting bits of Lincoln every day
Until I can get some blog posts written, please look for me on Twitter. I watch for and retweet things others are posting about Lincoln, the Civil War and our nation's history during the 19th century. I also tweet links to articles I find about Lincoln events or new Lincoln books and I try to let you know of as many Virtual Book Signings at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago as I can.

On Twitter, you'll also find a little of me - my strong belief in lifelong learning and a positive attitude. You'll see an occassional tweet about a few musician patriots I follow, like the Oak Ridge Boys and Lee Greenwood. Once in a while, I'll retweet a tweet about communication or social media, because I believe so strongly these are keys to keeping history alive for a new generation of learners and mature learners who love being connected as much as I do. And besides, Lincoln was the great communicator, wasn't he?

For the most part, my tweets are about Lincoln, but once in a while, I just may have to retweet something that has nothing to do with Abe, but which will make you smile. I don't think the storyteller who charmed the prairie would mind at all, do you?

Watch for Lincoln Buff 2 on YouTube
One of my favorite non-Lincoln-related tweeters is Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications. Thanks to a cool little video clip he did recently, I bought myself a flip camera, with which I'm supposed to be able to easily film and upload videos to YouTube. I've built my YouTube channel and have lots of ideas. As I see sites, when I can, I'll try to capture a few minutes of the experience so you'll feel as if you've been there, too. Keep your fingers crossed and please overlook crooked camera angles. We'll see how this next venture goes.

In the meantime, try to learn something new about Lincoln everyday. Check out my left-hand sidebars for lots of ways you can do that. And, whenever you can, spread a little of this Lincoln enthusiasm yourself. You'd be surprised how often people really do want to learn more about Lincoln, but just haven't taken time to do it themselves. With a little prompting, you can get many people to pick up a Lincoln book or watch a piece about Lincoln online.

Thanks for visiting. Come back often.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Authors explore Grant, Teddy and more on VBS

Be sure to stay close to your computer tonight for another interesting Virtual Book Signing from the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago. Daniel Weinberg invites two authors to speak about their books on American presidents.

Here's the scoop
It's Thursday, November 5, at 6:00 pm CST. Featured authors are Joan Waugh, author of U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth. and Peri Arnold, author of Remaking the Presidency: Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson 1901-1916.

Waugh book
The VBS website says, "U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Legend is an insightful blend of biography and cultural history, Joan Waugh traces Grant's shifting national and international reputation, illuminating the role of memory in our understanding of American history."

Arnold book
This is the first comparative study of the three Progressive Era presidents, examining the context in which they served, the evolving institutional role of the presidency, and the personal characteristics of each man.