The Two Sisters Bookstore, Richmond, IN

I am a big fan of local bookstores, and especially those that sell new, used, and rare books and host book clubs, writer's groups, and more. The Two Sisters Bookstore, in Richmond, Indiana, is all that--and a cup of tea! 
The store is located in Richmond's historic Depot District. I was there to meet with a friend coming from the north, and I took a risk in suggesting this for our get-together, since I'd never been there. But I wasn't disappointed in the least. Everything about the store was both comforting and stimulating, with inviting seating areas, specialty looseleaf teas with literarily-themed names (I had a cup of the "Prince Hal" mix), unique literary gift items, and 2800 square feet of books, logically organized and carefully shelved. 
My friend and I found our way to the back of the store, and enjoyed tea and conversation in a room devoted to one of my favorites, Sherlock Holmes (see below). 
The family-owned Two Sisters has been in business for four years and will soon be the only bookstore in Richmond! I recommend it highly and plan to return as often as possible. It is located at 193 Fort Wayne Avenue in Richmond, Indiana. 

Sugarfire Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO

Visitors to St. Louis should eat some ribs, part of the local cuisine for which St. Louis is known. . . right? So the lovely Robin and I, along with my brother Don and sister-in-law Arvilla, inquired of the local population for a recommendation, and said locals sent us to Sugarfire Smokehouse, which has several locations in the area.
After parking around the corner, we walked to the downtown (Washington Ave.) location, and figured we were in for a treat when we passed the smoker on a side street (above).
All four of us ordered a half-rack of ribs, along with two sides and bread and drink.
Doesn't look like much (above), does it? Well, it was glorious. I had the "street corn" and sweet potatoes, while others enjoyed baked beans or cole slaw or scalloped potatoes, all of which were a hit.
And the above was half the assortment of available sauces. I tried a few, but the ribs didn't really need any dressing up, in my opinion.

We all loved our meal and ate way too much. But, to be fair, that's how it's done. That's how it is done.

Old Courthouse, St. Louis, MO

Yesterday, I accompanied the lovely Robin, my brother Don, and sister-in-law Arvilla to the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, a stone's throw from the Mississippi River and the iconic Gateway Arch.
The courthouse is the location of two trials in the landmark Dred Scott case, which eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court and played a role in sparking the War Between the States. A statue of Scott and his wife stands on the site where they sued for their freedom.
Operated nowadays by the National Park Service, the courthouse is beautifully preserved and filled with meaningful displays marking not only the Scott case but also other events in the history of St. Louis and the area. It was also where Virginia Minor's case for a woman's right to vote came to trial in the 1870s.
It is also the visitors' center for the Gateway Arch. It is located at 11 North Fourth Street in downtown St. Louis.






St. Louis Art Museum

The lovely Robin and I spent much of yesterday afternoon at the St. Louis Art Museum, in beautiful Forest Park (above), with our brother and sister, Don and Arvilla, with whom we are sharing a week of vacation (along with other brother Larry and his wife, Dovie, who had better things to do).
Though I was disappointed that Level 3 (which includes American and Native American art exhibits) was closed, it was nonetheless a great time. Admission to the museum is free (which fits my budget nicely), and the extensive exhibits of European, Asian, African, Pacific, and other art was absorbing and rewarding.
Among the many striking pieces was the above image of St. Paul by El Greco, which hangs beside a Titian. Amazing.
 
Don and I literally got lost among the displays...especially while trying to locate the gift shop and café where our wives were late in our visit. But we finally found our way out, sans bread crumbs.
 
The beautiful St. Louis Art Museum is located at 1 Fine Arts Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63110.

Dunaway Books, St. Louis MO

My brothers and I ventured out this afternoon to Dunaway Books, home to more than 100,000 used and rare titles. 

What a great place for bibliophiles like us. We spent about an hour or so browsing the store's two-and-a-half floors.


I was tempted by a three-volume illustrated Shakespeare, but eventually settled on a much less expensive volume I found on the mezzanine (above). It is a 1936 Scribner facsimile edition of the Titus Andronicus First Quarto, a beautiful volume. . . For just five dollars.


The labyrinthine lower level deepened the experience (see what I did there?). I really wanted to know what lies behind the padlocked door in the farthest corner of the basement.


Even the restroom was a literary experience (above). And the staff member at the counter could not have been more helpful. I highly recommend it. Dunaway Books (www.dunawaybooks.com) is located at 3111 South Grand in St. Louis, Missouri. The store is open every day.

The Bard and the Bible Launch #2 at The Arts Center at Dunham

Yesterday afternoon the lovely Robin accompanied me to yet another Shakespeare in the Park perfomance--and Part 2 of the official book launch for The Bard and the Bible at The Arts Center at Dunham, in Westwood on the west side of Cincinnati. 

What hospitality they showed us! Thanks so much to all the volunteer staff at the Arts Center at Dunham, who made us feel so welcome and treated us like...well, gentles.
The free performance of Romeo and Juliet (maybe you've heard of it) was delightfully well acted, with charm and vigor, by young members of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. 
While we approached the event with trepidation, since our hosts lost the central air conditioning a few weeks ago, the temperatures inside were comfortable, and more so as the afternoon progressed. The players had to be dehydrated by the afternoon's end, but we managed quite well (the Bard even fared well in his velvet attire). 
So many people stopped by our table in the lobby and learned more about The Bard and the Bible, and many folks even went home with a copy. Thanks to all who came and especially to Carrie and the staff at The Arts Center at Dunham. We'll definitely be back! 

The Bard and the Bible Launch #1 at Vinoklet

It would be tough to find a better venue for Shakespeare in the Park--and the official book launch for The Bard and the Bible--than Vinoklet Winery in Colerain Township, north of Cincinnati (except maybe The Arts Center at Dunham, which is hosting Part II of my book launch and a performance of Romeo and Juliet this afternoon!).
The Bard himself showed up for the event. Though we were expecting a hot and sweaty evening, it turned out to be quite pleasant, with gentle breezes blowing through the vineyard and cooling things off.
I met many new friends and had a great time (forsooth) spreading the word about my new book, a one-year devotional that pairs quotes from Shakespeare's works with verses from the King James Version of the Bible, both of which were created not only in the same period and same country and city, but within a few hundred yards of each other!
I was supported in my endeavors by my wife, the lovely Robin, and my daughter, the incredible Aubrey, who helped man the book table and guard the Smarties.
The Bard posed for a photo with one of the players (above), Aiden Sims, who played four roles in last night's performance of Macbeth and will appear as Juliet in this afternoon's performance.
The Bard even posed for a very sunny photo with two young admirers. Well, one of them only begrudgingly agreed to the photo with the creepy old man.

It was a wonderful evening in a spectacular venue. Though rain was in the forecast, it was only clear skies--and a few regicides--for the assembled crowd.