Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for October 2007


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Over the last month or so I worked my way through Truman, a biography of Harry Truman by David McCullough.  I’ve been looking for a biography of Truman for a couple of years and was surprised to find a copy 1) upstairs and 2) by an author I know.

It was an interesting read as much for the time period which it covered as for its main subject.  Truman’s presidency famously encompassed the dropping of the atomic bomb, the end of WWII, his conference in Potsdam with Stalin and Churchill, the Korean War, the sacking of General MacArthur, and the recognition of Israel . . . not to mention the numerous domestic issues that he faced.  I learned a lot of history (and a few terrifying things) reading Truman and particularly enjoyed the parts about his presidency.  McCullough deserves his acclaim as a readable historian.

Reading Truman made me wonder a good bit about the nature of biography as a genre.  How do you know how good a biographer is at taking the measure of a man and/or the goodness of his actions?

McCullough’s treatment of Harry S. Truman is a kind one, full of admiration and praise for the character of the man.   His praise of Truman’s actions are not universal but his treatment of Truman’s character is and rightfully so by the many quotes McCullough includes about Truman’s high regard for everyone he was around, especially the staff that he interacted with so regularly.

Reading such a glowing account of a president was a bit jarring compared to the biographies of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro.  There Johnson is portrayed as an angry, conniving jerk who claws his way to the top through endless manipulation of the people above him and Caro documents with the same care as McCullough the disdain Johnson has for those whose opinion he does not need for his own advancement.

So anyway, both are excellent biographies of major US presidents and I recommend them to those who like 1,000 page histories/biographies (though the Last Lion series is the best that I’ve read).

I probably will be a while before I’m up for another.  When I do, I’ll have my eye on The Making of the Atomic Bomb and be hoping that The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm will be completed.  Should neither of those strike my fancy, is anyone else a fan of this genre with picks they would recommend?

Written by furthermusings

October 28, 2007 at 8:37 pm

Posted in Reviews

Hiking the Holyokes

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On Saturday Bill and Val took us up to the Holyoke range where Bill and I hiked the ridge line to meet the girls and fellers on the other end. The view down into the valley, across Amherst and the Connecticut River were speckled with thousands of red and orange maples dotting the valley floor as far as the eye could see.

The trail was pretty cool, running from peak to peak punctuated with some stupidly steep climbs. Apparently the switchbacks are a southern invention. bill.jpg

As we hiked our eyes could rest alternately on either the the bright maple and oak forest that dropped away from us down the south side of the ridge or into the dark thick blue of a deep line of firs on the north side.

rainbow6.jpg Once we finished we headed for ice cream. Though we didn’t get it right away we did get one of the best rainbows I’ve ever seen.

Here are a few shots. I don’t know that the photos to the amazing light justice. It was pretty cool.

If you’re interested in seeing some more shots check out Charity’s blog for the series she is posting.






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October 26, 2007 at 7:51 am

Posted in Church, Pictures

A Day in North Amherst

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This past weekend Charity and I visited our dear friends the C’s at their home in North Amherst. Thursday morning was English muffins, crosswords and a pot of tea in the breakfast nook.


After spending some time in the garden pulling B’s bane, bittersweet, we ventured over to Puffers Pond and then strolled back along a wooded path to the house.


The highlight of the afternoon was the leaf pile. As I can attest it was fun both for watching the fellers jump in it and for jumping in it myself.


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Written by furthermusings

October 24, 2007 at 12:07 am

Posted in Pictures

In Case You Missed It

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I really liked this beautiful post by Renae over at The One Grand.

My sister Katie has a copy of the book Renae is writing about.  It’s been several weeks since I handled it and I can still feel myself seated in Katie’s living room, slowly turning the thick pages of her copy, letting the bold, solid colors and the clean, crisp lines of each cutting wash over me with its message and its art.

It was beautiful and it warms me to know that Renae liked it so much.

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October 21, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Blogroll

Returning from a Journey

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I first posted this many moons ago and it’s been on my mind this weekend during our travels.

“It is not true of the past or the present to say that ‘only the rich or those on vacation can take journeys.’ Most men make some journeys. Whether long or short, with an errand or simply to go ‘there and back again,’ is not of primary importance . . . For if there is anything in a journey of any length, for me it is this: a deliverance form the plantlike state of the helpless, passive sufferer, an exercise however small of will, and mobility — without which a rational mind becomes stultified.”

JRR Tolkien from The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Page 239.

Written by furthermusings

October 21, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Reflections

Dude! Where ya be?

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Good question. Life’s been a bit interesting and full for the past couple of weeks. I’m ah . . . having some job shakeups that are proving to be interesting and time consuming.

We’ve also been traveling some as well. Two weekends ago we were in Charlottesville to visit my youngest sister Katie. She’s got a cool life and a cool gig with her house, roommates and job all nestled in the mountains.

This weekend we were hosting several house guests.   One of the highlights of the weekend  was our box seats for the UNC v. Miami football game. They’ll probably be the nicest seats I’ll ever sit in in a stadium: front row of the box peering straight down to the 40 yard-line from our padded seats . . . and with access to all the buffets the box provided. Throw in the company of my dad and two good friends plus a Carolina victory and it was pretty cool.

We leave for Amherst, MA in just seven days to see the house and life our dear friends the C’s have moved to. We’re excited to get away from the 93 degree heat of Chapel Hill and to sample the fare we’ve heard so much about.

Hopefully I’ll get some good posting in at some point.  I actually had a nice time journaling the other morning.  Perhaps I have some reflective thoughts left in this old body after all.


Written by furthermusings

October 9, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Posted in General