Archive | September 2019

Circus Trip 2018: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library

Day 22, Monday, August 6, 2018

Springfield is home to the Lincoln Museum and Library, a fascinating place!  The museum has many interactive exhibits, which are fun for the whole family.

When you first go into the museum, there is a performance in the museum’s theater.  It is probably best described as a play, but features a live actor interacting with holograms as the other characters!  It takes place in the museum’s library and shows the viewer several items of historical significance to Lincoln’s life.  The technology also allows the live actor to fade out of the scene, and they literally disappear in front of the viewer’s eyes!  If you go, make sure you check this out!

The Lincoln Museum also has a number of exhibits.  I really enjoyed the live actor who discussed Lincoln’s draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and the events leading up to it.  The actor portrayed Francis Carpenter, the actor who painted the portrait of Lincoln and his cabinet members.  He was very well informed, and coherently expressed the arguments for and against issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.  I watched for quite a while and was impressed by his level of knowledge.

Another favorite of mine was the map that moves through the Civil War time period, showing the movement of battles throughout the country, the territory held by the Union and the Confederacy, and tallying up the toll of casualties.  The map moves at a consistent pace, so you can see how some periods of the war were much more active and deadly than others.  It is punctuated with significant events of the war – it was very well done!

There are also exhibits of Lincoln artifacts, as well as an interesting exhibit on the cartoons that ran in the media outlets during his presidential campaigns and presidency.  If you think the media is ruthless and not neutral now, well, it wasn’t any different back then.

And last, but certainly not least, the Lincoln artifacts.  The museum displays a number of items that once belonged to Lincoln and his family members, including letters Lincoln wrote, jewelry he gave to Mary, and various memorabilia associated with the family.  There are also Lincoln items of historical significance, like sculptures and photographs of Lincoln throughout his life.  It is powerful to be so close to these articles that Lincoln once held in his own hands and see items that are 160 years old.

Across the street from the Lincoln Museum is an additional exhibit in the historic train station.  The exhibit when I visited was the movie Lincoln.  They had costumes and props that were used in the movie.  They also showed photos of the original clothing that the costumes were based upon.  Sally Field bears a resemblance to Mary Lincoln, especially when she was made up and costumed for her role in the movie, and it shows in the photos of the two that were displayed side by side.  They did a great job in the movie making things historically accurate, and it was interesting to see some of the props up close.

After I left the Lincoln Museum, I continued my journey east and arrived in Indiana.  I was going to be staying two nights in Dana, Indiana, with Marilyn, my brother’s mother-in-law.  It would be nice to be sleeping in a real bed, in a real house!

I got to Dana around dinner time, and Marilyn and I went out for dinner at a brewery in Terra Haute.  It was nice to be a passenger in a car and not have to drive!

Circus Trip 2018: Lincoln’s Home

Day 21, Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lincoln lived and worked in Springfield, Illinois for 17 years.  It is where he established his law practice with William Herndon, and where he purchased his only home.  The home he owned, and several of the neighboring homes, have been preserved as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

Sign posing…

When Lincoln first purchased the home, it was a one and a half story cottage, with three rooms on the first floor and three sleeping lofts above.  Even though the home was only five years old when he bought it, Lincoln did extensive renovations, raising the roof to make a full second story, adding an addition on the back, and probably removing a large columned front porch.

After Lincoln’s death, the home was rented to a series of tenants, who began charging visitors to take a tour of the home.  This, and the fact that they did not leave the home in good condition, prompted Robert Lincoln to donate the home to the state of Illinois in 1887, with the stipulation that the home be available to the public at no charge. The home was restored to the period when Lincoln last lived in the home – 1861, so the home looks today like it did in the photographs taken at the time.

Ownership transferred to the National Park Service and it became a National Historic Site on August 18, 1971.  The site preserves the home and other period structures within a four block area around the home.

 

You have to sign up for a tour in order to see the home, but as agreed, it is free of charge.  The rangers take you through both levels of the home, from the public living areas to Lincoln’s and the children’s bedrooms.  The rugs and wallpapers are so loud and busy!  Most of the furniture is not original to the Lincoln’s time but is period.  However, Lincoln’s writing desk is the one he used, and it is humbling to see.  This is the desk where he wrote letters, studied and did his legal work at home.

 

I visited Lincoln’s Home once before, over 10 years ago, and really enjoyed the tour.  It was no less incredible this time around.  The rangers are great about telling the story of the home and answering questions.  The tour moves fairly quickly, because Lincoln’s Home is always a popular tourist attraction, so depending on the size of the group and the time of day you may feel a bit rushed.

A neighborhood home

 

Homes in the neighborhood

Be sure to take some time to wander the neighborhood as well; there are several other historic homes that have been preserved as a part of this historic site, and some interesting exhibits.

If you love Lincoln, you have to visit!

This is 44

Yesterday was my 44th birthday.  It was uneventful and quiet.  I went to work, and received very little birthday attention.  My two employees got me a card and a little succulent plant, and our payroll person wished me a happy birthday in a mostly empty lunchroom.  I like it that way.

After work, mom and I went out to sushi dinner, and although I fully intended on taking a birthday selfie with her, I forgot.  Sigh…  Dinner was delicious, and I tried a soft shell crab appetizer for the first time.  You even eat the shell!  Verdict – it was fine, but not amazing.  My cherry blossom roll was delicious – and mom even tried a bite of it – with raw fish!  She said it was fine, but not amazing…

Today I spent some time with some girlfriends. We went to the local Greek Festival, then a brewery, and poked around in an antique shop and a consignment shop.  I bought an antique book about Alexander Hamilton, and a one pound bag of assorted coins.  We each took turns picking a coin until we had chosen them all – it was fun!

43 was a year with a lot of ups and downs.  I started it in Maine, on my road trip, spending my birthday hiking Acadia National Park, and eating whole lobster and lobster rolls right on the coast, looking out over the water.  It’s hard to beat that.

Relaxing

I found love again, and found hope that I wouldn’t always be on my own.

I came home from my trip and got ready to get back into my career after my time away.

I lost my favorite boss and long-time mentor right before Christmas.

I lost my father in February.  I have had a new set of firsts to experience – first time visiting Dad at the cemetery, first Father’s Day, first birthday without him at my birthday dinner.  Those milestones are hard.

I found a new job which I enjoy.

My spring and summer have been spent working, with a few long weekend getaways mixed in.  It isn’t enough travel, but for now it will have to do.  I watch that vacation balance like a hawk, and in the meantime just try to put away as much money as I can for my early retirement.

I’ve got plans.  This life has a way of changing those plans from time to time, but I will keep doing what I can to get to where I want to be.  44 will be a good year!

 

 

 

Recharging

My dad’s birthday was last week.  It was an incredibly busy week, with my brother and his family here, my aunt and uncle here, and me working, and being sick.  Add in a Labor Day weekend mini-getaway, and another aunt and uncle here, and you have a recipe for one exhausted worker bee.

I have been a bit down about my dad since then.  I’m not surprised – but that doesn’t make it easier.  I thought I got more birthdays with him.  He always had everything he claimed to want, and if he didn’t, he generally just purchased it (or it cost approximately $2,500 and I couldn’t afford it).  He wasn’t really a stuff kind of guy, unless you consider that he bought numerous duplicates for every article of clothing he liked.  It explained why that Navy-blue t-shirt never seemed to wear out.

The other night my mom showed me what one of my uncles had been up to during their visit.  My dad was a hobby woodworker, and he died with projects in various states of completion.  Again, no surprise there.  My uncle restored antique wooden boats for a living, so woodworking tools were right up his alley.  My uncle finished a few of the project pieces that my mom had.

I’m so grateful to my uncle that he was able to do this for my mom, but it made me cry all the same.  This little chest of drawers was one that my parents had worked on together several years ago, while taking a woodworking class at the local technical college.  What a beautiful work of art that we will treasure having.

Book Review: Talking as Fast as I Can

I love Lauren Graham. I mean, not really, but figuratively… If you don’t know her, she’s an actor in one of my favorite shows ever.  I fell in love with her during her seven year run as Lorelai Gilmore in the Gilmore Girls, where she is witty, charming and funny, as she tries to have a career, family and a relationship in a world that often seems stacked against us.

Her fast talking and wit became a hallmark of the show, along with her commitment-phobia, love of coffee and a good burger, and fierce commitment to her daughter. She was a teenage mom who went from high school dropout to manager of a boutique inn, and tried to mend her fractured relationship with her parents so her daughter could have the best opportunities in life.  I was enthralled, and sad when it ended.

This book is a memoir that discusses her career and rise to fame, and focuses quite a bit on Gilmore Girls and its impact on Graham’s life. She treats it as a bit of a tell-all, although according to Graham, there isn’t a lot of gossip to be had. The actors genuinely loved and cared for one another and it showed.

She explains her early acting career, how she got the Gilmore Girls part, and even dives into her personal life to a degree.  I don’t really follow celebrities, but Graham is a woman I could see myself going camping with.  It helps that she knows her way around an REI store.

The book is funny and insightful; and basically all the things you would expect a memoir by Lauren Graham to be. Graham reads the audio book version and I think she did a great job.

4 stars.