Something Wicked This Way Came

The lovely Robin and I journeyed to Cincinnati's Eden Park for our date night tonight to enjoy the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth in Seasongood Pavilion, next to the art museum.

The pavilion is a wonderful setting for such a production (we've seen many there), and we couldn't have asked for a lovelier night. Mild temperatures, good seats, and Shakespeare in the park. Sweetness.

The play was ably performed by the same six actors who presented The Tempest, which we saw a few weeks ago. Kudos especially to Jessie Wray Goodman, who (among other parts) deftly portrayed all three witches.

Thank you, CSC, for another great night of Shakespeare under the stars.

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A Church Staircase

This photo of a twisting staircase in the Sainte Marie Madeleine Church of St.-Marie-Aux-Mines, France, is among my favorite travel pics. The only lighting was early evening light coming through the window.

Worship, Family, Friends at Camp Swoneky

The lovely Robin and I worshipped this morning with old and good friends at The Salvation Army's Camp Swoneky.

A perfect day, weather-wise and worship-wise, in Chamberlain Hall (a site which holds many fond memories for us), under the leadership of divisional leaders Majors Hugh and Kathy Steele (whom we knew when they weren't nearly so impressive).

The divisional band sounded excellent (as usual, I'm sure; we just don't often get to hear it). We tried to focus on their stylings, but also spent some time nudging each other and whispering the names of old friends--or their children--we recognized as they played.

Lt. Col. Mark Tillsley gave a fine message drawn from Luke 5:1-11. Robin and I both scribbled furiously in our iPads, anxious to note as much of it as possible.

After church we were so graciously hosted by the Steeles and Tillsleys for lunch. Alas, however, even though we got to see and talk briefly with many, as we headed off, we lamented that there were still so many we missed talking to.

Still, it was (as always) wonderful worship and fine fellowship.

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Pinch Me Places: The Grand Canyon

The idea of this occasional series of "pinch me places" on this blog is to catalog places I have visited that were awe-inspiring enough that they made me almost want to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. The Grand Canyon is that kind of place.

I've seen it at least twice--when I was ten years old, with my grandparents, and a few years ago with the lovely Robin. She had never been there before, so it was a real joy to share it with her. We stayed a night at El Tovar Lodge on the south rim (pretty much a pinch-me kind of experience in its own right), and then walked the rim the next day. It was cold (note the coats!) and windy. But the scenery more than the brisk wind took our breath away.

If you've never visited the Grand Canyon, you must understand: photos cannot--will NEVER--do it justice. It must be seen to be believed. You won't be sorry.


What a great day at Great American Ballpark! Weather: Great. Our seats: Great. The results: Great.

It was such a good day to take my oldest brother to the Reds' game. He had not yet been to Great American Ballpark, which is ten years old this season, I think. And he hadn't seen Johnny Cueto or Aroldis Chapman in person. So we got to do all the above and more before he and his wife head back home.

After a rocky first inning, in which he gave up a two-run home run to Alfonso Soriano, Johnny Cueto was outstanding, earning his sixteenth win. And homers by Paul, Frazier, and Cairo propelled the Reds into the lead, with a sac fly by Frazier (scoring Bruce) completing the scoring. Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch the ninth, and though three runners reached base (and one scored), he earned his twenty-ninth save of the season.

Great day, great game, great memory, great ballpark.

Shakespeare in the Vineyard

After dinner tonight, the lovely Robin and I headed out with my brother Don and his wife Arvilla for Vinoklet Winery on Colerain Avenue in Hamilton County, just a few miles south of home.

Vinoklet is a picturesque vineyard, winery, and restaurant. Located on thirty acres of rolling hills and ponds, it is the only working winery with a vineyard in Hamilton County.

We headed through the arbor of vines to the outdoor amphitheater, flanked by vineyards.

The vines are bearing grapes, and the amphitheater was all set up for the main event of the evening: a Cincinnati Shakespeare Company performance of The Tempest.

The cast of six young performers did a marvelous job, each actor playing multiple roles and keeping the crowd engaged throughout. Though the setting sun was strong for most of the first act, forcing us to shield our eyes, the evening was thoroughly comfortable and enjoyable.

The Tempest is one of two "Shakespeare in the Park" offerings that continue through mid-September (the other is Macbeth). I hope to make Macbeth in Eden Park in two weeks.

Montgomery Inn

I did my duty tonight, correcting an unthinkable oversight of my oldest brother Don and his wife Arvilla, who are visiting from New York State.

Don, a Cincinnati native, had never eaten at Montgomery Inn. In my opinion, for a Cincinnatian, this is akin to someone from Hershey PA who has never tasted chocolate. Inexcusable.

No more. That terrible state of affairs has been rectified. The Montgomery Inn's signature ribs did what they do best: disappeared into diners' bellies. And I also knew my brother would enjoy the vast collection of sports memorabilia throughout the restaurant.

In addition to Pete Rose (above) and Davey Concepcion (below) items, the restaurant's collection includes signed balls, bats, helmets, photos, and more.

It is a great place, and I'm glad to get to share it with my wife, daughter, brother, and sister-in-law.

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Paul Ryan Rally at Miami University

My brother Don and his wife Arvilla arrived yesterday for a visit, and soon after their arrival I learned that Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan would hold a rally on the Miami University campus in Oxford today.

We arrived an hour before the rally's scheduled 5:30 start, and walked to the end of the long line.

On our way to the end of the line, I saw a number of good friends, among them Doug, who was loaded down with some high-powered photographic equipment. Including an iPhone.

It was quite a crowd. One of the security guards who checked us in through the metal detectors said they were told to expect a crowd of 1,000. He estimated that six or seven times that had arrived. We heard they actually had to shut the gates at 5:30 and send the rest of the crowd to viewing positions outside the barriers.

The first speaker was one of Paul Ryan's professors during his student days at Miami. He spoke in glowing terms of Ryan and then introduced Ohio governor John Kasich and and Senator Rob Portman, who took the stage together.

Kasich spoke first, and Portman followed. Both men did a fine job and kept their remarks appropriately short before the senator introduced the man of the hour, the Miami graduate, Congressman Paul Ryan.

Ryan strode confidently to the stage, smiling and waving to the cheering crowd.

He won the willing crowd immediately with references to Skyline Chili and Oxford institutions, Skipper's and Bagel & Deli.

The sun and my position made it hard to get a decent photo, but his short speech was engaging and inspiring, especially for a man who has only had three or four days on the stump.

It's not every day (or any day heretofore) I get to see and hear a governor, U.S. senator, and congressman and vice presidential candidate just a few miles from my home. It was well worth the effort, in my book.

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Grotto Falls

Here is another in my occasional series of favorite travel photos. This one, however, wasn't taken by me. It was taken by my son-in-law Kevin, on our May 2012 trip to Gatlinburg. It's a view of Grotto Falls, one of the waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He didn't see the rainbow effect until after he snapped the photo.

Travel Regrets: Missing the Monastery

The lovely Robin and I traveled in Egypt in 2010, before the Arab Spring and uprisings in Egypt in early 2011. It was a wonderful trip, during which we visited the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings, and so much more. I'm so glad we went.

But I do have a regret. I wish that I had planned and pressed to visit a Coptic monastery while in country. One of the most impressive is in Cairo: the Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner (above).

Saint Simon the Tanner (St. Sama'an, in Arabic) lived towards the end of the tenth century. At the time, the Copts (Egyptian Christians) engaged in handicrafts. St. Simon worked as a tanner, a craft still practiced today.

The monastery was erected and dedicated to him a thousand years after his death, behind "Mansheiyet Nasser," the village of garbage collectors. This village was created in 1969 when the Governor decided to move all the garbage collectors of Cairo to one of the hills of the Mokattam. There, they built themselves primitive houses of tin, and tens of thousands live there now.

The monastery contains seven churches and chapels hidden in a series of caves in the Mokattam (Muqattam) hills, one of which is pictured below:

It may not have been possible, though my tour company has always bent over backward to respond to such requests. Reaching the monastery is reportedly quite an ordeal. It must be reached through narrow village streets, navigating past trash carts piled high with garbage, plastics, and tins.

But I wish I had at least tried. It might have been as close as I come to another dream, and that is to visit St. Catherine's, the world's oldest monastery on the slopes of the traditional Mount Sinai, in the Sinai peninsula.

Family Fun Day

Here's something I've never done before.

Butler Rural Electric Cooperative's annual Family Fun Day was today. So I arranged to take two of my four grandkids, Miles and Mia (the other two weren't available, more's the pity).

They had a fun slide in the shape of a fire truck.

They had fun games to play, and prizes to win.

We won sunglasses, a trophy, a shark on a stick, lollipops, Skittles, handcuffs, a gooey stretchy thing, and more.

We cooled off in the spray tent.

We petted little goats and turtles and bunnies and chickens and horses in the petting farm.

We got our hair painted. Well, Miles and Mia did. I couldn't decide on colors, so they kicked me out of line.

And we met Mr. Lightbulb, whose secret identity had been divulged to me. But I kept the secret. So far.

We spent just under three hours there, and had a great time. And the best part of it was, it was all free (because we're coop members). But free is right in my price range.

So thank you, Butler Rural Electric! And thanks, Aaron and Nina for letting us go.

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Location:Lanes Mill Rd,Hamilton,United States

Pinch Me Places: Ford's Theater, Washington, DC

It was a surreal experience to me, on the occasions (two or three times) when I visited Ford's Theater, in Washington, DC, where President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth.

The lovely Robin and I visited here in 1978, I know, in the company of my brother and sister-in-law, Don and Arvilla, and my father. We also visited when our children were young (fourth or fifth grade, maybe). Ford's Theater, used for storage and office space in the years since the 1865 assassination of Lincoln, was finally renovated in the 1960s and reopened as a museum and functioning theater in 1968. The lower level of the theater holds a Lincoln Museum, which includes artifacts such as Lincoln's clothes worn on the night of the murder and Booth's derringer.

In addition to the theater (and the box in which the president and Mrs. Lincoln sat, above), we also viewed the Peterson house across the street, where Lincoln was taken after the shooting...and where he died the following morning.

Those places--and especially the box where the shooting took place, which can be viewed from the theater and from the hall outside the door, where a guard was supposed to have been on duty that night--are "pinch me" places for me.