A Name? Or a Noun?

The lovely Robin made me buy a new pair of shoes last night. Cruel, yes. But I forgive her. 
At one point as I was trying on one pair, I heard her say, "Bob, these shoes have your name on them." I thought she was speaking metaphorically. She wasn't. I refused to buy them, however, since the possessive apostrophe is missing, which makes me think they didn't even intend the shoes for me. 

Bookasaurus Bookstore, Sunnyvale CA

I posted yesterday in this space about my visit earlier this week with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids (that's them above) to Leigh's Favorite Books in Sunnyvale, California (here). What I didn't mention in that post is that right next door (in fact, we visited it first) is the Bookasaurus Bookstore, which is the separate-entrance-but-otherwise-connected children's section of Leigh's.
I'm not only a lover of books in general but also of children's books in particular, so I had to check it out. We were greeted immediately and helped attentively by the chatty store clerk, and had a great time. We all browsed the displays and I bought the lovely Robin a porcupine puppet (for her work as a play therapist--she doesn't let me play with her toys). Bookasaurus isn't large (you can see almost all of it in the photo above), but it has a diverse selection. 

Bookasaurus is located at 125 S. Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale, California. You can't miss it; it's right next door to Leigh's Favorite Books. 

Leigh's Favorite Books, Sunnyvale CA

Have I ever mentioned that I love locally owned bookstores? I think I have; most recently here, here, and here. My son and daughter-in-law know that, of course, so last week they (and my grandkids Mia and Miles, above) delighted me by taking me to Leigh's Favorite Books in Sunnyvale, California.
What a great bookstore in a quaint shopping district. Leigh's is home to more than forty thousand titles, as well as a large selection of cards and gift items. They also buy books for store credit that can be used towards any purchase. It is well organized, and capably staffed. There was something there for everyone in the family, and we had a great time.
Plus, any store with a classic Royal typewriter on display is more than fine by me.
It was a feast for the mind and eye, too (though the shelves above look like they are in darkness, it's just the exposure I had to use--with my son's help--in order to include the pretty setting at the rear exit). 

Leigh's Favorite Books is located at 121 S. Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale, California.

Coffee Society, Campbell CA

My son, grandson, and I ventured to The Pruneyard (no, seriously, that is really the name of the shopping center) in Campbell, California, earlier this week for a cup or two of coffee. We had to wend our way (I'm not very good at wending) through some construction barriers but eventually found the entrance to Coffee Society.
Coffee Society is a warm and inviting coffee shop with an extensive menu. We were greeted immediately and served quickly. I ordered a Funky Monkey shake (coffee, chocolate, and banana). Aaron got lattes for him and Nina and hot chocolates for Mia and Miles (see him looking at the camera, above?).
While I can't say the Funky Monkey was the best drink I've ever had, it was plenty good. My only regret is that we carried out instead of drinking in (see what I did there?) our surroundings.

The Coffee Society shop is located in the popular Pruneyard shopping center at 1875 South Bascom Ave. There are also two locations in Cupertino.

Patxi's, Campbell CA

After a full and rich five days at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Santa Cruz, California, I had the unmitigated (and also unmediated) joy of visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren at their home in San Jose. 
For dinner Tuesday, they took me to Patxi's Pizza in Campbell, which has become their favorite pizza place. I now know why.
 We ordered a deep dish pepperoni pizza (I'm sure there were other things in there, but that was the gist of it), which was a treat for the senses. Most of them, anyway.
We made short work of it, although Nina hogged all the cheese. I don't resent her for it. Not much. Well, okay, I do, but I'll get over it. Eventually. 

In addition to their Campbell location, Patxi's also has restaurants in San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, southern California, and more. Tell them Hoss sent you. 

Sabbath Walk, April 8, 2017



Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Santa Cruz CA

I have long wanted to attend and present at Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Santa Cruz, California, so I was thrilled last year when I finally received an invitation. No idea what took them so long.
I arrived last Thursday, checked in, consigned my books, unpacked, and did my best to get my bearings in the jaw-droppingly scenic environs among immense California redwoods.
Mt. Hermon is the "grandaddy" of Christian writers conferences, having run for forty-eight years or so, if I remember right. This year's conference is the largest ever, I think, with 230+ people enjoying the hospitality, food, teaching, and fellowship of these rich and rewarding days.
It has also been a pleasure to listen to pastor and author Mark Batterson, the keynote speaker for the week (and also author of one of my favorite books, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day), among many other fine aspects of the conference. Plus, I get to talk about books and writing with my kind of people while renewing old friendships and starting new ones. I did, however, resist the urge to go on the early Sunday morning kayaking adventure, hard as it was. 

Recycle Bookstore, Campbell CA

Among the joys of this past week was a visit (my second) to Recycle Bookstore in Campbell, California, with my son, daughter-in-law, and (above) grandkids Miles and Mia.
Recycle Bookstore has a resident cat named Bob. Because of course. Patrons of the younger variety (mostly) actually ask if Bob is "out." On this occasion, he was not. Pity. The more Bobs, the better, I always say. 

Recycle Bookstore is a wonderful place, well organized and expertly staffed. I especially enjoyed perusing their collection of leather-bound collectors' volumes, though they were all a bit too rich for my blood. And wallet. 




Stacks, Campbell CA

While some in my family (who will go unnamed in order to protect Robin and Aubrey) are insanely jealous that I get to visit my California family before heading to the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I choose not to let that bother me. Especially since it involves food, at Stacks' Restaurant in Campbell, California.
I had the Farmer's Breakfast. Couldn't eat it all. But enjoyed it immensely. More so because I shared it with my loved ones--especially when I asked if anyone wanted a piece of my toast and Mia (who had already scarfed her breakfast and some of her mom's) answered, "Oh! Yes!" Some things (delightfully) never change. 

Reds Opening Day 2017

There is nothing quite like Opening Day in Cincinnati. It is the Queen City's Mardi Gras, but with baseball.
I can't remember the last time I got to go to an Opening Day game. Maybe not since Great American Ballpark opened in 2003. In any case, it was a joy and a wonder to share this day with my grandson, Ryder (above and below) and his other grandfather, "Pops" (Ryder's dad had planned to join us but had to work through the game on his current movie project).
We arrived at the park about forty minutes before gametime and finally made it through the gate (above). We each got a free Reds towel, and met up with Pops and headed for our seats.

The pregame ceremonies included the unfurling of a ginormous American flag, and the recognitions, national anthem (sung for the third year in a row by Marlana VanHoose), and flyer by two F-16 fighter jets were moving. 

The hometown team didn't get the W but the pitching after the second inning was excellent, the rain in the middle innings didn't delay the game, and it was fun seeing a few favorites (Votto and Hamilton) and new faces (Scooter Gennett, particularly). 


Der Dutchman, Walnut Creek OH

There are many imitators, but only one Der Dutchman Amish restaurant. Well, okay, actually, there are five. This past weekend, the lovely Robin and I enjoyed a meal at the Walnut Creek, Ohio, location (there are also Der Dutchman restaurants in Sugarcreek, Plain City, and Bellville, Ohio, and even one in Sarasota, Florida.
It was not our first visit to Der Dutchman, but it has been a few years, I think. And we were not disappointed. We were graciously seated at a window table and thoroughly the view of the rolling farm country beyond the restaurant (in the general area where, by the way, my great-great grandfather once lived).
Through a herculean exercise of the will, we ordered from the menu rather than taking advantage of the hot-and-cold buffet. I had to have the broasted chicken (with mashed potatoes and noodles). Three pieces of dark meat. Thank GOD for chicken; didn't have to do it but he did!
We couldn't decide on a single dessert so we ordered a sampler of Dutch Apple pie, peach pie, and pumpkin pie (note to self: the pumpkin pie served in Ohio's Amish country is a bit different, and not what Robin would call her favorite).
On the way out, we noted the fairly uniform assortment of hats and oats in the entry way. I was sorely tempted to switch them around but I resisted.

Der Dutchman is located at 4967 Walnut Street in scenic Walnut Creek, Ohio.

"The Return" Book Launch, Berlin OH

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, I met my coauthor and fifth cousin J. M. (Joan) Hochstetler at Gospel Book Store in Berlin, Ohio, for the official book launch and first book signing of The Return, the sequel to our previous historical novel (based on events in our common family history), Northkill.
We had a magnificent time signing books and meeting friends new and old (above is one of them, my long-time friend--notice I didn't say old--Bev, who drove from Orrville, Ohio, to chat and pay full price for both books. What a friend!). And it is always a pleasure to spend time with each other and with Eli "Small" Hochstetler and his wife, Vesta, the proprietors of the bookstore.
I couldn't resist surreptitiously snapping a photo of (apparently) the local Amish men's basketball team as they talked together in the rocking chairs nearby. Oh, and the local grocery store (right next door) was offering FREE coffee and donuts! Need I say more?

Return to the Oaks Inn, Berlin OH

Visitors to "Amish Country" in Holmes County, Ohio, have many choices of places to stay. The lovely Robin and I have tried several, but we keep returning to The Oaks Inn in Berlin...for various reasons (among which is its proximity to the Main Street business and shopping district in Berlin, which makes it possible for me to leave the car for Robin and walk to my book signing at Gospel Bookstore in the German Village). Also, we have met with only the best hospitality, clean and comfortable accommodations, and kind consideration from the proprietors.
This weekend we enjoyed the roomy and comfy "Home Suite Home," er, suite (we have also stayed in two of the three other available rooms at The Oaks Inn; see here, for example). The living space allowed us to visit for hours with dear friends from the area.
We could even have cooked a meal in the well-equipped kitchen. But we didn't. But I love the coffee cake our host leaves for us.
We already have reservations for future stays at The Oaks Inn, which is perfect for multi-family get-togethers and group retreats.

The Oaks Inn is located at 4752 Route 62 in Berlin, Ohio. I couldn't more highly recommend it.

Minnesota Christian Writers, Minnetonka, MN

What an honor and joy it was to be the guest of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild for their Spring Seminar on Saturday, March 11. I presented four sessions to an avid group of aspiring writers on "Writing Masterfully." 
I also enjoyed being the group's guest for their March meeting on Monday, March 13 (above), at which I spoke on "Write Like Will: 8 Ways the Bard of Avon Can Make You a Better Writer." 
I couldn't have been hosted any better by my friends Joyce and Steve Ellis, nor treated any better by the guild president, Bev, and all who attended. No one threw anything, no one chanted protests while I was speaking, and no one made fun of my Ohio accent. Well, not to me, anyway. 

Salvage Yard Church, Indianapolis IN

Just when I think I've heard and seen every imaginable name for a church, I come across Salvage Yard Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, near the airport (on Hwy 61, if I remember right). I didn't stop but I probably should have.

Bob's Red Mall Oatmeal

On the last morning of my recent sojourn in Minnesota, my hosts served me the most appropriate meal of the whole trip. It included Bob's Red Mall Gluten Free Blueberry and Hazelnut Oatmeal. Because it really is all about Bob.

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis MN

One of the many delights of my recent sojourn in the Minneapolis area was a visit to Minnehaha Falls and the park that surrounds it. We expected the falls to be frozen (the temperature since my arrival has been in the teens) but it wasn't.
A favorite subject of pioneer photographers (and the most photographed site in Minnesota), the falls are located on Minnehaha Creek near the creek's confluence with the Mississippi River. More than 850,000 people visit the falls each year.
The waterfall is of course famously associated with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "The Song of Hiawatha" (though the poet never set foot in Minnesota). That's a statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha above, not Longfellow. But you probably knew that.