CF Night at Great American Ballpark

I surfaced from my writing cave for a few hours this evening to enjoy Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Night at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati with family and friends.

The Reds won, 3-1, on the strength of a complete game outing by Mat Latos.

And our grandchildren--Miles, Mia, and Ryder (pictured above and below)--attended their first ever Reds' game. Calleigh, who also attended, is an old hand.

The weather, the company, and the result couldn't have been better. Oh, and with the 11+ strikeouts Latos rung up, every ticket is good for a free LaRosa's pizza and scoop of UDF ice cream! Yeah, baby!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Pinch Me Places: Grotto of the Nativity

The latest installment in this series of "Pinch Me Places" on this blog is one I have visited four times, all in the company of the lovely Robin, and once with our children, Aubrey and Aaron, as well.

It is one of the most indisputably authentic sites in the Holy Land: the birthplace of Jesus, in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This spot--marked for 165 years now by this star--has been venerated by Christians since the first century as the place of Jesus' birth. It has attracted pilgrims from the earliest days of the Christian era. The star is made of silver and has fourteen rays that represent the fourteen generations from Abraham to David, the fourteen generations from David to the exile of Babylon and the fourteen generations from the exile of Babylon to Jesus’ birth mentioned in the Gospels. The inscription on the star bears the words “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est” (Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary). The opening in the center of the star has a view of the natural rock of the cave. The original star disappeared in 1847; the present star was given to the church by the Greeks in 1852.

The Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The first basilica on this site was begun by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine I. Construction started in 327 and was completed in 333. That structure was burnt down in the Samaritan Revolt of 529 and the current basilica was rebuilt in its present form in 565 by the Emperor Justinian I. Today, the church is administered jointly by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and the Armenian Apostolic church.

Though I've visited the Grotto of the Nativity four times (and the cave of St. Jerome, the Shepherds' Field, and other sites in the area), it still boggles my mind to very likely have stood--and knelt, and sung--at the place of Jesus' birth...a "pinch me place" if there ever was one.

I Know It's Kentucky, But Still

Earlier this month, the lovely Robin and I took the Newport Gangster Tour across the river in Kentucky.

On the mostly-walking tour we passed the Northern Kentucky Gambling Museum, in the building on Monmouth Street that once housed the Mustang Club. I wasn't tempted in the least to come back for a visit, though, because I am opposed on principle to paying "admitions" of ANY amount.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A Grand Finale

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed a grand finale to a grand weekend at Grand Finale in Glendale (Cincinnati) with Glenn and Rick, who came to visit for the weekend and to celebrate Ryder's dedication.

After welcoming Rick and Glenn (at various times) and enjoying the celebration of our grandson Miles's fifth birthday party on Saturday, and then participating in the dedication of Baby Ryder this morning at church, followed by a sterling luncheon gathering hosted by his parents this afternoon, we made our way to this fine restaurant, which we know to be one of Rick's favorites (as well as one of ours).

Rick ordered the Steak Salad Annie (above),

and Glenn had the "chicken duo" (above). Robin's and my entrees were a tad less fancy, but thoroughly satisfying.

And it was a joy to share with Glenn the puff pastries which Rick, Robin, and I know to be an exquisite specialty of the Grand FInale.

It was a fitting finish to a beautiful weekend. We came with excitement and left with gratitude.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

School For Officers' Training, Suffern, NY

I had a wonderful time these past two days with the staff of The Salvation Army's School for Officers Training, in Suffern, NY--the place where I trained for ministry a bajillion years ago (when the main lobby entrance, above, was still primeval forest).

I was blessed by how those devoted, consecrated folks received my series of messages, Breathe Again. And what joy to renew fellowship with so many old friends (much older than me, all of them).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Texas de Brazil, Yonkers, NY

I was blessed this evening to be included in a farewell dinner for officers under marching orders from The Salvation Army's School for Officers Training, where I'm speaking today and tomorrow.

The meal was held at Texas de Brazil in Yonkers, New York.

The decor of this restaurant was outstanding.

The meal began with a large salad bar surrounding a massive flower sculpture...type...thingy (above).

But that was only the beginning. In addition to mashed potatoes, fried bananas, and cheese puffs brought to the table, a half dozen varieties of succulent meat were brought around on skewers and carved to each diner's request (below).

Several kinds of beef, as well as lamb, pork, and chicken were available. And beautiful, generous dessert portions and coffee followed.

It was a memorable repast with delightful company, and an experience I couldn't more highly recommend.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Possibly the Best Airport Ever

I'm on a layover at Charlotte-Douglass International Airport tonight. From where I'm sitting, in a rocking chair on a balcony overlooking the airport's central atrium, I can count more than thirty rocking chairs! And there are far more than that outside my line of sight.

That makes Charlotte my favorite airport, I think. And Newark (where traffic has delayed my next flight two hours so far) my least favorite.

I knew you were curious about that.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Pinch Me Places: 221B Baker Street

One of the most fun travel experiences I've ever had was my 1995 visit with the lovely Robin and our awesome kids to 221B Baker Street, the London address of Sherlock Holmes.

The location has been lovingly and meticulously recreated from the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle into a museum and tourist attraction honoring the world's most famous consulting detective. That's Aubrey, above, by the hearth in Holmes's sitting room.

And that's Aaron, above, in Holmes's deerstalker cap and holding his meerschaum pipe. The occupant wasn't in at the time, so I felt free to let Aaron have a little fun. Oh, yeah, and I also got a picture of myself in the same chair. Same cap. Same pipe. Yeah, buddy.

I was so enthralled with the details (the engineer's thumb was in a cabinet in this room, for crying out loud, and the Queen's initials still marked the wall--both details from Holmes stories) that Robin thought it necessary to remind me, "He is a FICTIONAL character, Bob." Pshaw. All she had to do was look around and she could have seen that Holmes was as real as the walkup lodgings of Dr. Watson:

It is truly a "pinch me" place for me, and not less so because Holmes was (supposedly) fictional. It was a thrilling and absolutely enjoyable step into Victorian England, the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, and the enduring figure of Sherlock Holmes.

Newport Gangster Tour

For date night tonight, I took the lovely Robin to Newport, Kentucky, for the Newport Gangster Tour, starting from the Dueling Piano Bar on Fifth Street.

After a short three-part presentation on the history of gangsterism in Newport (above), the group of several dozen set out on the walking portion of the tour.

The location above was once called the Sparkle Bunny Club, if I heard right.

Once called the Starlight and several other names, the Brass Ass is still in operation.

We were led by several guides, one of whom told the story of a hit (above) on the very site where it happened, in front of what was once The Mustang (and is now the Kentucky Gambling Museum).

The Monmouth Theater (above) is located in the former La Madame's, and Bernhard's Bakery (below) occupies part of the once-famous Yorkshire casino.

These were just some of the stops on the tour, which of course ended at what is now called the Syndicate, built in the 50s.

It was a load of fun on a beautiful night. I had expected to actually go into a couple places, but other than the piano bar, we stayed on the street for the entire tour. Still, I loved the local history, and Robin liked the stories of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Marilyn Monroe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Smoky Mountain Grooming

Nothing like single-file Smoky Mountain scenic tooth-brushing moments:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Helpful Sign

Spotted in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (at the Hafields & McCoys dinner theater):

McDonald's Play Place

Life's simple pleasures are the best. Shakespeare said that. Or maybe it was Van Kamp's Pork and Beans.

But it's true. So, entrusted as I am with the care of my grandchildren Miles and Mia this evening, I let them persuade me to set out in my "supercar" for the Fairfield McDonalds on Rt. 4, which has a Play Place.

Just in case Mom or Dad happen to read this: they ate all their dinner before I set them loose on the Play Place. Honest.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Boymel Dr,Fairfield,United States

Great Strides 2012

What a great day this was for our 2012 Great Strides walk, on our grandchildren Calleigh and Ryder's behalf, to raise funds to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Our family and friends came out in force, and Ryder (above) and Calleigh (below) behaved themselves admirably.

The walk, in its second year (as a Hamilton event) was better attended than last year.

Twelve teams participated, comprising more than a hundred walkers, an estimated 33% increase over last year.

It couldn't have been a more perfect day--sunny, clear, just warm enough without being too warm--for a walk through Joyce Park in Hamilton.

And our family's team--"McCane's Miracles"--led the way, raising more than $5,275 (so far) of the $11,500 (so far) toward a goal for the day of $12,000, and there is every expectation that funds still coming in and being totaled will push the total for the Hamilton location past the 12K figure.

Once we finished the walk, well, there was time to eat pizza and chips, and play on the playground. Calleigh and Ryder gave no indication that they were aware that they were the stars of the whole show, but they were. And we fully believe, one way or the other, today brought them both closer to healing, by God's grace and in his timing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Great Miami River Recreational Trail,Fairfield,United States

These Smoky Mountains Sure Are Smoky

I spent much of this morning on our last full day in the Smokies out on the balcony, watching the "smoke" roll in and out and in again. Beautiful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone