T. J. Chumps, Huber Heights, OH

The lovely Robin and I were hosted by our dear friends Bill and Lorraine Riley last Sunday for Sunday lunch (after church) at T. J. Chumps in Huber Heights, Ohio. 
To my surprise, Robin ordered a half rack of ribs (she usually goes for something else), and I enjoyed the full rack (above). They were perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the fries were excellent. But the signature side dish at T. J. Chumps is the broccoli, which took up nearly the whole table (below).
I finished my ribs and fries, but could barely make a dent in the broccoli, so we brought most of it home. Such good food and great company makes a memorable meal. Thanks, Bill and Lorraine! 

Cincinnati's Finest Finale at Bell Event Center

Last evening, the lovely Robin and I got to accompany our daughter Aubrey, son-in-law Kevin, and friends Corey and Jessica to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation event, Cincinnati's Finest Finale at the Bell Event Center.
The gorgeous venue was built in 1850 as St. Paul’s Church. The church was decommissioned in 1975 and stood empty for six years. In 1981, The Verdin Company, North America’s oldest bell and clock company, purchased and restored the structure, to the tune of one and a half million dollars. After the two-year-long work was completed, the beautiful building housed The Verdin Company corporate headquarters and the Verdin Bell and Clock Museum.
Cincinnati’s “Finest” Finale is an event where guests join to celebrate the “Finest” Young Professionals’ fundraising efforts while partaking in a delicious tasting and silent auction all under one roof. The guests sip and savor some of the finest wines, finest beer, finest cupcakes and sample by-the-bite foods from the finest local restaurants. All attendees vote on their favorites of each category; the finest wine, beer, cupcake, and restaurant are awarded at the end of the night, along with naming the young professional who has won the title of Cincinnati’s “Finest”.

It's an impressive event for a great cause, one that is near and dear to our hearts.

Point Vicente Lighthouse

On our drive around the Palos Verdes peninsula in April during our family vacation in southern California, we made a brief stop at the Point Vicente Lighthouse on the most southwesterly point of the peninsula. The point was named in 1790 by Captain George Vancouver (who explored the Pacific coast for England in his ninety-foot sloop, Discovery) for his good friend Friar Vicente of the Mission Buenaventura.
Before the installation of this lighthouse on May 1, 1926, sailors deplored this dangerous stretch of coastland. Upon installation, it was the brightest beacon in southern California. The 1000-watt bulb, focused through a five foot lens, could be seen over twenty miles. The lens, hand ground by Paris craftsmen in 1886, saw forty years of service in Alaska before its installation here. The tower is 67 feet tall but the beam's position on the cliff gives it a height of 185 feet above the ocean. Operation of the lighthouse was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939. The lighthouse was manned until automated equipment and remote control operators took over in 1971. It is still in operation today.

Wayfarers Chapel, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

On our recent sojourn in southern California with our son and his family, the lovely Robin and I (well, mostly I) were excited to show them the beautiful Wayfarers Chapel on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, overlooking the Pacific Ocean (see this post about an earlier visit Robin and I made).
Not only was it a rainy day, but upon our arrival we learned that a wedding would be held in twenty-five minutes or so in the chapel, so we didn't have the freedom to tour it we would otherwise have had. We just peeked into the small chapel (the ushers and guests were already there), walked around the grounds, and browsed in the gift shop. The small prayer garden above is located behind the gift shop.

It was a short visit, and a disappointing one. But the Palos Verdes peninsula is a beautiful drive anyway, and we had a great time just being together.

The Yellow Vase, Rolling Hills, CA

On our last day in southern California with Nina, Aaron, Mia, and Miles, the lovely Robin and I enjoyed a unique lunch with them all at the Yellow Vase Cafe on Silver Spur Road in Rolling Hills Estates. 
What a unique place. While the young woman who took our order apparently was not having a good day, everything else about the experience was delightful. The Yellow Vase is beautifully and thematically decorated. 
Our meals were delicious and of course the company could not have been better. While we ate at several good cafes (among them the tiny Happy Diner in San Pedro, which we enjoyed) during our southern California sojourn, the Yellow Vase was the most stimulating. 
Not everyone was happy the whole time, however. Judging from the picture above, Nina had a bad attitude as we waited to order our food. 

Disneyland 2016, Day Three

Our third day of adventure and joy at "The Happiest Place on Earth" with Aaron, Nina, Miles, and Mia was a mostly overcast and partly drizzly day, but though we got a little cold and wet, we still had a great time. We took the submarine ride together (above), and the best part for me and the lovely Robin was watching our wide-eyed grandkids enjoy every bit of it. 
Of course, we had to take one more ride on Hyperspace Mountain, and as can be seen in the photo above, we had varying reactions. 
We stood in line for an unnecessarily long (it seemed to us) wait to meet Tinkerbell, but this time even Miles agreed to meet her and get his photo taken with her. She must have been the real Tinkerbell, because even Nina said, "She was little!" 
We happened upon Alice and the Mad Hatter in an out-of-the-way part of the park, and not only did Mia and the lovely Robin get to meet them, but when they learned that Mia is a princess, they bowed to her, explaining, "We bow to royalty!" Princess Mia was thrilled. 
We finally made it to Toon Town (think that's what it's called), and Mia posed for yet another photo. If she doesn't go into modeling, the world will surely grieve. 
Miles met a stormtrooper just his size in one of the gift shops. And (below) he tried on a pirate hat that utterly transformed him into Jack Sparrow. Happily, he put it back on the shelf before we lost him to a life of piracy on the high seas.
It was hard to say goodbye to Disneyland; before leaving the area, we shopped a bit at Downtown Disney next door to the parks. But we have no doubt that we will be back someday. 

Disneyland 2016, Day Two

Our second day at Disneyland with the California branch of our family was spent exploring "California Adventure." Everyone and his brother told us to go to the Cars ride first and get a fast pass, which we did...but we also got right in line after grabbing our fast pass and boy, were we glad we did.
Radiator Springs is an amazing replica of the town from the movie, Cars. We could have spent the whole day there.
Aaron was kind enough to share a tractor ride with me (above). I'm glad the lovely Robin snapped this photo when she did, because once the ride started it was impossible to get a good photo.
California Adventure includes Paradise Pier, an old-fashioned but up-to-date carnival area. Miles and Mia (and Aaron and I) loved the California Screamin' roller coaster, as well as the rest: Midway Mania, Golden Zephyr, Orange Stinger, and more. 
Mia got to meet Princess Sophia while Aaron, Nina, and Miles rode the Tower of Terror. Nina said, "Never again." 
As sunset approached we made our way back to Cars Land to wait for the lights to be turned on. While waiting, we watched a dance party, hosted by DJ (the blue car) and some of the ladies from Flo's Cafe.
I think Aaron was more excited than anyone when the lights started to flicker on, in the same order (he said, excitedly) as in the movie. The attention to detail and creativity in Radiator Springs was just astounding. 
And the way they recreated the scenery of that movie was breathtaking. Our only regret was that we didn't know Luigi's was a ride until we were getting ready to leave Radiator Springs. Oh, the humanity! 

Disneyland 2016, Day One

Last week's family vacation in southern California with Aaron, Nina, Miles, and Mia, included visits to Disneyland, which I think I last visited when I was ten years old (when California was still part of Pangaea).
Man, we did it all--including the AstroOrbitor, It's a Small World, Storybook Land, Tarzan's Treehouse, Pirates of the Caribbean, and (most memorably) Hyperspace Mountain and Star Tours (in which Mia was the "rebel spy").
Miles and Mia surprised me with their need for speed. But they enjoyed the more placid rides, too, and even got their mom to go on the AstroOrbitor one last time before the spectacular "Paint the Night" light parade.
It could not have been more fun. The best part was watching the kids as they rode the rides and watched the parade--Mia's wide eyes as she drank in Hyperspace Mountain and Miles's excitement when Olaf appeared in the parade. What a great time with the best family.

Mosaic Church, Los Angeles, CA

Last week, the lovely Robin and I enjoyed a vacation with our California family--Aaron, Nina, Miles, and Mia--in southern California. We arrived late Saturday night, so on Sunday we grabbed the opportunity to worship in Hollywood at Mosaic LA, located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea.
What a joy it was to worship once again with our loved ones! Oh my. Oh my. On our way into the church we were greeted warmly and often. I think at least six different people introduced themselves to me, and not all of them were part of the welcome team. 
The music and singing part of worship was outstanding--good and loud, immersive, sharp, and participatory (though Aaron and I both noticed that the guitars were absent from the mix; what's up with that?).  And the message, by Erwin McManus (one of my favorite preachers; he's ministered to me via podcast for many years), was excellent. 
After worship, stations and teams were situated in the courtyard to make it easy for people to connect and follow up. The crowd was (predictably enough) much younger than me and Robin--in fact, when I told Aaron that I was possibly the oldest person there, he remarked that even he felt old compared to most of the crowd! 

Mosaic hosts worship gatherings every Sunday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. They provide children's ministry during the morning gatherings, and the youth group meets during the 12:00 gathering.