Soho Japanese Bistro, West Chester OH

Aubrey's Belated Birthday Dinner:

Mini Reunion, Concord CA

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed a mini-family-reunion today with our Baker relations in Concord, California. Our cousins George and Jeanne Baker had journeyed to Concord (east of Oakland) to visit with our cousins Glen and Linda (Baker) Madsen and their mom, my Aunt Dorothy. So we had lunch together at the Sun Valley Mall (I think) and thoroughly enjoyed visiting and reminiscing and loving on 91-year-old Aunt Dorothy.
The visit was too short but oh so wonderful. We shared many wonderful memories and made a handful more. 

Hostetter Road, San Jose CA

Main Street Burgers, Los Gatos CA

Apple Store, Los Gatos CA

Today the lovely Robin and I accompanied our son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids Miles and Mia to Los Gatos, California, where we visited a number of businesses in the town's tony shopping district.
Of course, one of those businesses was the Apple store, where Aaron and Nina had scheduled a genius bar appointment for Nina's fun. But I'm NOT saying that the reason for the visit was that she had dropped her new iPhone after just a few days of owning it. Because that would be unkind. And I'm not that kind of guy. 

SA Officers Councils at Big Bear Lake, CA

The lovely Robin and I were honored and excited to share in this past week's Salvation Army Officers Councils, held at Pine Summit Camp in Big Bear Lake, California, in the San Bernardino Mountains. What a beautiful setting for an incredible event.
I was asked to present most of my "Dancing with God" series (available here in ebook format), so I did. The group mostly stayed awake and attentive throughout, and it was a delight to participate in the many ways the careful planning supported the theme. 
It was such a delight to re-connect with my cousin, George Baker (above), with whom I shared many memories (and mischievities) growing up. He's still a pretty good guy, but spending time also with his wife Jeanne (below, with the lovely Robin) was even better. 

Keeping with the "dancing" theme, one of the evening activities was a session of line dancing lessons for which we were told to wear our best western garb. Since we flew to the event, I had to leave my boots and hat at home (seriously), so had only a borrowed shirt. But it had fringe. So there. 

The whole week was a great blessing, thanks to the Bakers and all of our new friends in the Sierra Del Mar Division. 

Bob Sighting in Big Bear Lake, CA

I spotted this scarecrow of Bob Ross (see the sign?) outside the Big Bear (CA) Chamber of Commerce. "Please do not mess with Bob" is always good advice.

Church Retreat, Old Orchard Beach ME

This past weekend the lovely Robin and I journeyed to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to conduct a retreat for The Salvation Army corps there. We met with part of the youth group on Friday evening and spent much of the day Saturday studying the Bible and talking about becoming and being a "dangerous church." 
What an overwhelming welcome we enjoyed from many, many dear friends from years past (notice I didn't say "old." I wouldn't do that. Because they might say it back). 
The discussion and response from everyone was gratifying, and I only regret that they didn't accept my suggestion that I just scrap all the content I had prepared and just spend the day reminiscing and catching up with each other. Sad. 
On Sunday morning, we were blessed to once more sit under the instruction of Lt. Colonel Sharon Berry in a Sunday school class and then worshiped with our friends, led by our dear friend Corps Sergeant-Major Ian Anderson (above). 
The band (above) provided sensitive musical ministry, as did the songsters (below), along with an offertory by Craig Evans and stirring congregational singing of a sort one seldom hears these days. 

To top it all off, I got to preach, and my efforts were tolerated pretty well by everyone. Well, mostly everyone. I thought I saw corps officer Major Bryan Smith checking his email at one point, but I would never say so.
We were generously hosted all weekend by our friends Faith and Ian Anderson (above), who after church took us to Two Lights, where we took the above photo. We couldn't have been better treated, and could not possibly have enjoyed ourselves more. Thank you to CB Crowell, who suggested us as guests, to Majors Bev and Bryan Smith, who expertly coordinated our participation and with whom it was a joy to reunite, to Faith and Ian who treated us royally, and to all who received us so lovingly.

Mark's Feed Store, Louisville KY

Oh my. One of the highlights of last week's "writer's fun day" in Louisville, Kentucky, was the finale. At Mark's Feed Store in the Highlands neighborhood, close to where we stayed.
We were seated immediately and choose a second-floor indoor option because we obviously needed the exercise.
 I ordered the assortment of "slider" sandwiches of brisket, pork, and chicken, fried corn on the cob, and potato salad. I wasn't crazy about the potato salad, but everything else was excellent. But the best was yet to come.
Because it was our first "Mark's" experience, each of us were given a complimentary slice of buttermilk pie. I don't think I've ever had buttermilk pie before, but this was amazing.

Our server was wonderful, giving us each (because we were first-timers, again) a free bottle of barbecue sauce to take home. We felt like kings.

The Original Heine Brothers' Coffee Shop, Louisville KY

Last week's "writer's fun day" in Louisville, Kentucky, included a stop at The Original Heine Brothers' Organic Fair Trade Coffee Shop, which is conveniently connected to a Carmichael's Bookstore. Can't do better than that.
Heine Brothers’ opened their first location--this one--in October 1994 in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, KY, and now have thirteen shops and a mobile Airstream espresso bar in Louisville.

The coffee was good, the company was better, and I even got a blog post started with the help of my writerly friends. The location actually faces Longest Avenue (but is it--really?), but the address listed on their website is the same as Carmichael's Bookstore, 1295 Bardstown Road. Seems like a cozy arrangement, if you ask me.

Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville KY

I know I've mentioned it before (here, for example), but I love locally-run independent bookstores, and I've come to know that a visit to Louisville, Kentucky, is not complete without a stop at a Carmichael's Bookstore (there are three locations in Louisville).
So for last week's little "writer's fun day" with a few writer-type friends, I was excited to visit one of the Bardstown Road locations (the other, just a half block away, is devoted to children's books). It was opened in April 1978 at 1582 Bardstown Road by Carol Besse and Michael Boggs (the store name is a combination of their first names), and has been owned and operated by them ever since. It is a family business in the best tradition. As the business grew, so did the number of family members involved, and the staff now includes a second generation.
I made a purchase, as I always try to do, that will remind me of this place. And could have spent the day. But, alas, they don't serve lunch at Carmichael's.