July 5 Ė September 19
Well, the summer has been busy.
My last letter was sent ó albeit in my absence, and on something of a
hurried note ó since I had very little time to finish it before I
departed on my "three week intensive camping spree." Since then
things seem to have never slowed down enough to allow time for a
newsletter to be written, and now it is long past two months without a
letter, and I am finally getting around to writing one.
Many of you have inquired about my experiences at various camps, and I
have frequently been at a loss for words to do them more justice than a
simple "good," "very good," "excellent," or
other such pithy response would give them. They have been full of many
memorable things, but, unlike some things, they donít lend themselves
easily to retelling. I shall do my best, however.
Counselorís Weekend at French Creek was quite enjoyable and
worthwhile. It was much as I described it to be in my last letter ó laid
back and relaxed. Anna and Sharon Barshinger were there, as was Kiersten
Timpe (if my memory serves me), and some others whom I knew to various
degrees from bygone French Creek camps. I met one interesting fellow
there, Neal Robbins, who was a friend of Nathaniel Fletcher, whom I knew
since our mothers have been friends since time primeval. As it turned out,
Neal was also at the ninth and tenth grade camp, so Paul and I spent some
time with him then.
Dad drove me straight from French Creek to DeSales University, where
the Worldview Academy (WVA) was being held ó I
briefed him while in transit on how to send out the last newsletter, and
we arrived, despite doubts to the contrary, in a timely fashion. Since I
was somewhat tired, my first impression of the camp was somewhat dark. The
staff all seemed like the "cheerful, nothing can go wrong, and letís
all be happy" types, and I was tempted to bring them back to reality
with a good dose of cynical pessimism. I refrained, however, because I
realized that I would probably be in a better mood the next day, as I was.
The rest of the week was very good ó there were multiple classes in both
the morning and evening, and one in the afternoon, so it was a rigorous
schedule. I think they mentioned once that the camp has a philosophy ó
"Let them sleep at home." They certainly lived up to it.
Nevertheless, the teaching was excellent, and for the first time I wished
I had taken more notes. Gabe and I were not in the same room, or small
group, or large group, unfortunately, nor was Andrew MacDonald, who also
went, but we three spent most of our time together at meals and classes
Wednesday afternoon the whole camp got on two large buses and we
traveled to Philadelphia to practice evangelism. I was not anticipating
this with much glee, but it turned out a little less painful than I
envisioned, and Gabe really enjoyed it. It was certainly, if nothing else,
a good experience.
On the second to last day, the digital camera that I informed you of in
the last letter (and that some of you have come to know ó and fear) was
dropped off by Mom, for the camp was only five minutes or so from my
house. I managed to take one picture, and then spent many hours baffled as
to how to take another. I finally, by pure providence, figured it out ó
I hadnít been sliding the lense cover entirely off. By then, however, it
was the last day, and I was not used to taking pictures, so my visual
documentation of the camp is very sadly lacking. However, some pictures
were taken by the staff (and made into a daily slide show Ė a very nice
touch) and posted on their web site, so I downloaded them.
In conclusion, the speakers were excellent, the staff was excellent,
the location, bed, and board were excellent, and the many special touches
were excellent. It was a very good camp. Andrew and I both signed up for
next year, and Gabe would have, except he will probably be in basic
Gabe has decided that he would like to join the reserves, and is
proceeding with that plan ó getting the papers signed and all that stuff
in preparation for making it legal. He is rather excited about all this,
and has been expounding to his various friends all the advantages of
joining the reserves at all, and joining at seventeen in particular. One
strong advantage is that the army will pay for his college tuition. The
disadvantages, however, are that heíll be gone for most of the summer
for the next two summers, at least, and has weekends chewed up with
reserve training and such. Of course, this seems like less of a
disadvantage to him than it does to me, since I wonít be benefitting
from any of the plusses.
The week at French Creek was something of a culture shock, after the
competent and technologically advanced capabilities of WVA.
There was a short weekend in-between the two to catch my breath in
preparation for the next plunge, thankfully, since I was to spend two
weeks at French Creek without returning home. I knew a large number of
people who were attending the ninth and tenth grade camp (though some had
to beg special admission because they were too young or old to go), and
among them were Paul MacDonald (my old French Creek camping friend, and
general sidekick ó weíve had a cabin to ourselves every year that he
has been able to go), Anna and Sharon Barshinger, Andrew MacDonald, and
I also got to meet several with whom I had talked quite a bit over AOL
Instant Messenger, but never seen before. Nick Thor Timpe (to whom I refer
strictly by his middle name), Kierstenís brother, came by to drop off
his sister. Karen Hudzinski (the sister of a counselor whom Paul and I
know) told me she wasnít coming, but it turns out this was a deception
necessary to surprise me by her presence (which it did, but she got a
surprise of her own ó she was roped into counseling). Elizabeth Mallin I
had met in a perfunctory sort of way last year, but with whom I became
more acquainted with over IM, also came. Neal Robins
was there that week, so along with the campers that I see only once a year
at camp and the various counselors I knew, I felt like I knew practically
half of the camp.
The 9-10 camp was very enjoyable, especially
since I knew so many people (and some having been able to finally meet,
after talking with them for months). It would have been nice if Gabe had
been able to go, but I suppose one must be content with oneís blessings.
Paul and my counselor, Dan Hailey (or some such spelling) was really neat,
as we have come to expect and even demand that our counselors be. By a
long and complicated process that only Paul and I fully comprehend, we
gave him the nickname of "Shadow of Man." The primary reason for
this was that he was always disappearing inexplicably. Paul and I sagely
assumed that he was sneaking off into the woods to smoke illegal
The week was full of memorable events. . . Long discussions during
meals over the merits or demerits of chivalry, odd conversations and
teasing. I was still somewhat timid about taking pictures with my camera
(by contrast Iím a seasoned professional now, will be teaching four
classes at Lehigh next year ó or so I would have you believe, anyway),
but I employed it to good use in tormenting Anna Barshinger under the
pretext of curing her of her phobia of having her picture taken. The
culmination of these events was one meal where I was actually proposed to
by Kiersten (she fashioned a ring out of a pixie stick wrapper held
together with duct tape). I ate the ring, and declined her offer. At the
same meal, Paul requested the milk, and Kiersten (still embittered by her
being rejected, I suppose) refused to relinquish it. I, being the good
friend that I am, grabbed the milk carton and attempted to wrest it from
Kierstenís clutches and hand it to Paul, but, alas, the cap popped off
and Kiersten was besplattered with milk. I suppose it was poetic justice.
If anyone doubts the veracity of this tale, ask anyone whom I mentioned
All good things must come to an end, and so the week at French Creek
ended. Lest anyone accuse me of not paying attention to or recalling the
theme of that week, the part that I remember the best was about
predestination. All the speakers were very good, and deserve honorable
I, recall, was staying to counsel at the 5-6
grade camp which was starting a couple hours after the 9-10
camp ended. Mom arrived about an hour after the ending time, and we went
to buy me a flashlight, candy, lunch, and get my clothes laundered. By the
time we got all of that done, I had missed the staff meeting I had
forgotten I was supposed to attend. Thankfully, the meeting had very
little of importance in it, I was told. I had three campers under my
charge during the week, and they were a well-behaved lot, as it turned
out. I donít think I had much influence on them, which some may consider
a good thing, but it was somewhat disappointing ó though humorous, too
ó when all three of them (they were transported together) fled at the
end of the week without even saying goodbye. Maybe I shouldnít have
dubbed them Obediah, Mahalaleel, and Methuselah. I suppose there is always
the hope that what they learned that week about the Bible will have some
impact that wasnít obvious on the surface. . . The proverbial planted
On the trip back home at the end of the week (two weeks, if you include
the 9-10 grade camp), I realized I had yet to
procure a present for Kiersten, whose birthday party I was going to attend
that evening. I quickly wracked my brains, and found the perfect present
ó a metal ice cream scoop. Now, before the protest begins, let me say
that this present would have some significance more than at first
apparent, since Kiersten frequently uses a Dull, Shiny Edged Ice Cream
Scoop (DSEICS) in Instant Messenger battles, and she
had mentioned a longing for a real one. As it turns out, I was told later
that they actually got some good and practical use out of the scoop. At
the party we played innumerable rounds of "Bloody Murder," a
game in which one unknown person is the murderer. You turn off all the
lights, and everyone crawls around on the floor, and if the murderer
touches someone and whispers, "youíre dead," they then die,
after following any instructions he might have (e.g. go to the corner of
the room with the little table). Others can tell if someone is dead by
asking the profound question, "Are you dead?" If the person
answereth not, then the discoverer yells bloody murder, and the lights are
hit, and if the detective is still alive, he gets to ask a couple
questions of the dead people, and from that try to determine the murderer.
It is a very fun game, though it rubs oneís knees raw after too long.
The day after the end of French Creek and Kierstenís party we left to
visit my paternal relatives in Maryland, or more colloquially, the farm.
The occasion was the celebration of my grandfatherís fiftieth
consecutive year of preaching at his church. We stayed for the weekend,
and returned home on Monday.
Uncle John and his family spent a week in the Poconos at a cabin by a
man-made lake which was, according to them, rather wretched. At the end of
the week they drove to our house (which is only about forty-five minutes
away), which was sort of on the way back to their home, and spent several
hours here, before finishing the trip home. It was nice to have them over
for a couple hours, especially since we havenít had a family reunion
this year, as we usually do.
Both the high school and the college Bible studies continued apace ó
the college one sometimes got as many as fifteen people, and the high
school one, while low in numbers (usually only three or four), persevered,
and those who came, continued to come. Iím hoping that next year, if we
have another high school study, we shall have more attendees, for many
factors conspired to make this year have a rough start. The college study
ended with a pool party, and the high school study ended while I was away
on vacation (both on a high note, interestingly enough).
The month of August, which I anticipated to be idyllic and halcyon,
turned out to be nonexistent ó I planned for many empty days, in which I
would have plenty of time to finish off my school, talk to friends, and
enjoy the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, due to a bump in the flow of
time, almost all of August except the last week disappeared. The last
week, ironically enough, was just as busy as July. I guess thatís where
all my activities went.
On that Tuesday a bunch of high school students from our church went on
a day trip to New York with our pastor, Dr. Femister, and Mrs. Hansell.
The night before, we had the high school Bible study, and it suddenly
occurred to me that I should invite Sharon and Anna Barshinger to come
along. Somewhat to my surprise, they were quite enthusiastic about the
idea, and managed to persuade their mother to allow them to go. As it
turned out, it was to my advantage that they went. We got up at the crack
of dawn, congregated at Mrs. Hansellís house, and drove to New York. We
parked on some island or another, and took the free ferry to the primary
section (my geography fails me), and visited the hole that indicates the
place where the World Trade Center used to be. I was rather unimpressed
ó it looked remarkably like any other gigantic hole that marks a place
of construction or destruction.
After that dud, we went to Wall Street and got our picture taken by the
bronze statue of a bull. There were suggestions that I kiss the bull, but
that fell through for unknown reasons. We also visited a Catholic
cathedral on Wall Street which was very impressive.
We then divided into two groups ó the shoppers, and the sane. The
shoppers and Mrs. Hansell went off and we didnít see them again for many
hours. Pastor Stone, Jim (also known as Dr. Femister), Anna, Sharon,
Jonathan Ennis (a kid in my church), and I wandered the streets in an
aimless and desperate fashion, scouring the barren landscape for
somewhere! ó somewhere to find food, drink, and air conditioning. We
finally took refuge in a Tennessee steak house, which specialized in pork,
actually. The food was good, and surprisingly not exorbitantly expensive.
Afterwards we visited a store we had noticed which had something about
evolution in its title (being the ardent evolutionists that we are), which
actually just turned out to be a front to a store selling all sorts of
exotic stones, bear heads, giant cased insects, and many other things. By
the time we did that, it was about time to return to the ferry, so we
traveled many miles back to our beginning point.
Either our intrepid leaders and navigators were leading us astray or we
had walked much more than I thought on our way into the city, since it
took what seemed to be a very long time to return to the ferry. Iím
inclined to suspect the former. Nevertheless, we did find the ferry stop
again, and we got to sit while waiting for the tardy shoppersí return
from the depths of the of urban maze.
They did finally show up, laden with various and presumably expensive
clothing, and we took the ferry back over the water to the other island,
returned to our cars, and drove back home. All in all, it was a worthwhile
and interesting trip.
On the drive back to my house, however, I was experiencing some chest
pains, which I had been told should be mentioned if felt, due to Marfanís
Syndrome irritating tendency to make connective tissue weaker than it
should be. So, against my will, I told of them to Mom, and she said we
would have to go to the emergency room. So we waited there after signing
in, and after a short time my temperature was taken (normal) as was my
blood pressure (same), and I was sent back to the waiting room. Eventually
I was taken to a room, where I got into one of the poorly designed
hospital gowns, and I got to lie in a bed. Over the course of the evening
I had many firsts ó I had my first blood taken (though I probably had
some taken when I was a baby, come to think of it), I had my first taste
of morphine (if it can be called taste, since it went directly into my
blood from an IV tube), my first CAT
scan. . . The attendant fellow (lower-level nurse type) noticed that I was
reading Arabian Nights, and we soon got to talking about different
favorite authors, and it turned out that he was a fan of science fiction
and fantasy as I was. As I knew, it all turned out to be nothing, but, as
Mom or I pointed out, better safe than sorry. . . I didnít mention this
incident to anyone because I didnít want to unnecessarily scare or worry
people, and by the time I would be mentioning it, it was already over, so
I waited until this letter where I could lay it all out clearly.
The next day, Wednesday, was full of preparations for Thursday, on
which the Lehigh freshmen would be arriving. Dad, of course, had a number
of previously unannounced projects for me to do, so I was kept busy all
day. Hans, a graduate student that Dad roped into leading the music for
the large group meetings, volunteered me to help with the freshmen
Let me enlighten you about this "Hans" character. Your first
impression, as was mine, that he must be German or Dutch or some such
nationality, from his name, but it turns out that heís Indian, and spent
his childhood in Singapore (or so his story goes). This, of course,
immediately put me on my guard, and I have come to suspect that for some
reason he chose the wrong English alias. His English is surprisingly good
for him to have made such an obvious error, but I suppose even the best
fail sometimes. His claim for the unusual name is that his parents were in
Germany when he was born and liked the name Hans. Knowing my duty, I
decided I should "befriend" him and see if I could ferret out
his true purpose, but so far it has been to no avail. I think he suspects
me for what I am, so I shall have to be doubly careful.
One event that has made me come to think that he is, in fact, an
amateur in espionage was this: He had a boring weekend in August, and so
asked me if I wanted to see a movie with him. I agreed, and we drove for
about seven minutes to a nearby theater. We got out of his car, shut the
doors, and then Hans realized, much to my amusement, that the car was
locked and running with the keys still in the ignition. We went into the
theater, called AAA, and assessed our situation. Road
to Perdition, the movie we were planning to watch, would be long
started by the time the repairman came and fixed the car, so we decided to
watch Signs instead. Signs was an interesting movie ó
Hans was disappointed by it, but I found it acceptable fare for watching
Freshmen move-in day was pretty successful, as far as I can tell. Dad
had a green shirt with a logo that he wanted to use, so I took a digital
picture of it, edited the colors so it was a white-on-black image,
reversed the colors, and manually smoothed the image edges out. Dad then
printed the image out, took it to a T-shirt printing place, and they
printed it in time for us to wear blue RUF shirts on
the move-in day. We handed out brochures, got some people to sign up for
an E-mail list, and assisted the freshmen with all their luggage.
The day after that, Friday, Sharon Barshinger was having a birthday
party. The Barshingers are fond of "mystery parties": a game in
which all the attendees dress up as someone, and have a certain character
to play. For instance, in the mystery party that we played on Sharonís
birthday, I was supposed to be dressed as a Roman, and my character was an
impecunious and disgruntled ex-bodyguard of the hostessí father, who
left me some land when he died which the hostess refused to give to me.
The setting was a party (Sharon was the hostess), and Sharonís jewels
had been stolen, and we had to figure out who had pinched them. The game
was fairly fun, but it did take a while. Unfortunately, I didnít think
to take my camera, so I donít have any pictures of the guests in their
regalia. We did figure out who the thief was in the end.
Before we played the game, which took a couple hours, Gabe, Anna, and I
had a tabasco quaffing contest. We had been planning this for weeks, and
this was the first time all three of us were together since we thought of
the idea. Gabe managed to procure shot glasses, and so we filled each
glass with tabasco sauce, toasted "To pain!" and downed our
spicy beverages. Tabasco sauce, for those who donít know, is a fairly
hot liquid that is used to spice up taco salad and such things. We then
each ate a small bowl of ice cream to alleviate the intense heat and
burning. Mrs. Barshinger had bought three miniature souvenir bottles to
commemorate the event, which she then presented to us.
Gabe, little beknownst to me, was working on a literary endeavor of
great hilarious proportions. He decided to take all the various names,
aliases, pseudonyms, personalities, and such things from each of our
friends (and ourselves), and combine them into characters in a fairly
tale. He recounted his work thus far at Sharonís party, and he solicited
my help with figuring out the plot and polishing it up. So far it is still
being created in the first draft/outline form, but once it is complete it
should be a wonder to behold, though few will realize the full
significance, since few know much about our friendsí odd nicknames.
*Here Endeth the
After returning home at around ten, I commenced packing all my bags for
our two week trip to the Outer Banks, for which we were leaving the next
morning at seven. It is a matter of fate that when going on a trip; I must
always leave something behind. With this in mind, I tried to make sure,
despite my rather tired state, that I had everything I needed and at least
most of the stuff I wanted. I thought I had succeeded, but after I was
done packing my suitcase to its greatest capacity, I suddenly realized
that I was missing my swim suit. (I would like to parenthetically point
out here that since I had no intention of bathing in the sea, the clothing
specially designed for swimming is called, "swim suits" not
"bathing suits"). I reflected on how annoying it would be to
spend two weeks at the beach without one, and then went to fetch it and
put it with the rest of the stuff. I somehow managed to trick fate, for I
still cannot think of anything I desired that I didnít take.
This year, instead of traveling two days and each day driving four and
a half hours or so (and usually visiting some historic site along the way
for a couple hours), we decided to caravan down in one day with the
Georges. Being charitably inclined, we decided to take Stephen MacDonald
with us for the two weeks. Things worked out differently this year than
last year in other ways as well, for we spent two weeks at the beach
instead of one. The George family and we rented a smaller house the first
week, and the second week we moved to a larger house and the Hansells and
The house we had was very nice, and by far the chief highlight was the
fact that I had my own queen sized bed and personal bathroom. This pleased
me to no end, especially since the second weekís sleeping quarters would
not be so grand (sharing a two-bed room with the Stephens). Despite this,
the two other queen suites (as they really should be called, I think,
considering the opulence of the bathrooms) were even better ó one had a
whirlpool bath, and the other had a gigantic, practically hot-tub sized
whirlpool. Mom commented that getting to it was like ascending to an
altar, for you had to go up several steps to reach it.
The weather, however, was not quite as thrilling, for it rained most
days that we were there, though the waves were better than the second
week. As I counted it up, I realized that I had only gone to the beach
twice the entire week. As part of the package, we were allowed to use a
trolley system that took you to the beach (we were on the "sound
side" ó closer to the water between North Carolina and the Outer
Banks than the Atlantic proper), and we also were allowed to use an indoor
pool at a gym. The two Stephens, Mom, Ben and I tested the pool once, and
it was found worthy. The Stephens and I in particular had much fun playing
with the childrenís paddle-boards.
Another nice thing about the house was that it had several bicycles in
one of the rooms, so we could go bike riding. I asked Mr. George if he
wanted to go riding with me, but it never worked out. However, we did bike
to the beach and back, so we got some use out of them. Because there is
such little traffic on the Outer Banks where we were, biking was rather
fun, since we practically had the roads to ourselves.
So, I didnít go biking and only went to the beach twice and pool once
ó what did I do? Well, one day I went to what Mr. George described as a
junk store. I was thinking he meant this literally ó and that there
would be all sorts of odd junk and interesting things to rummage through,
so I requested to go along with the Georges, for they were going there. As
it turned out, it was just a store custom designed for beach goers. . . it
had a whole aisle full of sandals and water socks, about half the store
had T-shirts with lighthouses, sea shells, and various other beach motifs.
One interesting item which I had never seen for sale before was a pop gun.
They were being sold for eight dollars apiece, and were made of wood, an
inch diameter colored PVC pipe, and a cork on a
string. This was a big hit with the George kids (and practically every
other kid in the store), and so they each bought one. I thought it would
be a good Christmas present for Ben, and so I bought one for him. As it
turned out, it seemed more advantageous to give it to him right then,
since the George flock were all running through the house popping their
guns like madmen. These guns would come back to haunt the two Stephens
(whom the kids seemed to particularly enjoy antagonizing), because two
evenings after supper the kids would go to the second floor where all the
bedrooms were, and the Stephens spent most of their time, and run around
yelling at the top of their lungs and popping their guns.
Another day Stephen MacDonald and I went to a book store that was
advertising a giant sale. As it turned out, the store was pretty tiny, but
everything in it was sixty percent off the list price, so I bought a
classical CD (I think the first CD
I have bought for myself) and, at Stephenís insistence, a book of
quotations from Winnie-the-Pooh, organized topically.
Most of the time, however, I spent reading. I finished Arabian
Nights, started and finished The Scarlet Letter, and also
started and finished You Just Donít Understand: Women and Men in
Conversation (a good book on the difference in conversational styles
between men and women). We also played several board games ó one game of
four man Stratego lasted three hours, and we then spent the next hour or
so discussing the game.
The first week was fairly idyllic, but that was made up for by the
second week. We packed up and moved to the second house, which was
initially disappointing, since the exterior looked rather small and plain
for 25 people. We had fifteen kids, eight adults, and then Daniel and
myself, though Dan was only there for a day and a half. The interior of
the house was much more pleasing though, and we came to conclude that it
had the best interior decorating of all the houses weíve stayed in. It
had a nice sound system, and very comfortable couches and chairs. The
bedrooms were all thematically designed, and the kitchenware was all color
We went crabbing at least three times during the second week (a
tradition ó one of the few that has been retained over the years), and,
unlike previous years in which we caught as few as three or four crabs in
one expedition, the Sound was bounteous, and those who enjoyed eating the
crab feasted well. I much prefer the catching of the crabs, and so I did
not partake of the catch. Iíve come to think that eating seafood is not
conducive to my well-being.
Mrs. Hansell has an ambition which she revives from dormancy every
year... She tries to get a suntan, and each day of vacation she showed us
how much she had progressed. None of us had the heart to tell her, though,
that what she had was sunburn, not suntan. I suppose at this point it is
better to just let her think that she has a tan ó after all, it canít
really do much harm.
The weather the second week was much better than the first, and it was
sunny every day. Beach trips were daily occurrences, and use of the house
pool was also quite high. One day Mrs. Hansell even strung up a volleyball
net across the pool, and we played some very informal games of water
volleyball. The waves at the beach, alas, were pretty poor. They may even
have been the poorest since weíve been going to the Outer Banks. This
wasnít all that bad, since the ocean is really only a part of the whole
beach vacation experience. A large part is being able to live with three
other families for a week, being in a beach-style house. . . just a change
of pace. It is hard to explain, for it is a combination of a myriad
Over the course of the week I managed to gain a trio of followers.
Katie George and Jacob Diem (two and one and a half, respectively) were
the two main ones, and Jonathan (who is three) Hansell joined in
occasionally as well. I was the designated "porch walker" with
them. On the third floor there are two decks that donít have stairs
descending from them, so it is fairly safe to let little kids run around
on them, since they have no way of killing themselves. The above three
seemed to derive great pleasure out of running around on these decks and
looking around (from the third floor one can see both the sound and the
ocean at the same time), and Jacob liked pointing out the occasionally
passing (or stationary) vehicle, and would exclaim, "Carrr!" or
occasionally "Tuck!" By the end of the week I decided that I
wanted to trade Jacob for Ben for about three years, and then switch back,
since I prefer that age to most.
One event which lent some extra excitement to our trip happened on the
beach, while I was blithely attempting to find a wave big enough to make
boogie boarding in on it something less than ridiculous. A friend of Mrs.
Georgeís (whom I only heard referred to as "Sally" during the
whole week, and so shall thus call her) was walking along the beach, and
sighted Mrs. George standing and looking out at the waves. Deciding to
have some fun, Sally snuck silently up to Mrs. George, and pinched her
bottom. Mom was standing and looking out at the waves when she thought
that Mr. Diem, who was standing beside her, suddenly pinched her bottom!
Sally immediately realized her mistake, and that it was not Mrs. George
but Mrs. Green whom she had pinched, and began apologizing profusely.
Meanwhile Mom realized it was Sally and not Mr. Diem who had done the
deed, and exclaimed she was so glad that it was her. Mr Diem turned
bright red at the whole incident. Eventually it was figured out, but it
would provide much humor in the retellings to all the unenlightened.
One evening Mr. and Mrs. George, Mrs. Hansell, Mom, and I went over to
a house that the aforementioned Sally and some of her friends were
renting, and played a round of Cranium, a board game which combines
aspects of Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Charades, and some other games
into one game. One astonishing thing that Mrs. George pointed out was that
the house which had no children in it was considerably louder than the
house which had fifteen children in it.
Finally, the time came to return home. We were tired, sleep deprived,
and worn thin after our relaxing vacation at the beach. We made the trip
home without any major mishaps, however, and after a couple days we were
back to normal: being mildly vexed with each other.
However, most other things were not back to normal, in that summer
ended and fall started while we were away. Daniel had been staying with us
for the summer, and he returned to Johnís Hopkins for his senior year,
and was asked to co-lead a Bible study with InterVarsity. I suppose I
should request prayer for that, though it seems to be going well so far,
against all odds. Peter picked a college and has now departed far off to,
of all places, Lehigh University. So now he is all of five minutes away
from us. However, he is living in the dorms instead of at home, which was
pleasing to all parties involved. Heís been going to Dadís RUF
stuff, and seems to be enjoying himself thus far.
Without Daniel or Peter, the house is strangely empty, for now there
are only three kids at home, and frequently the house has only one or two
people in it, what with Dad off at Lehigh, and Stephen and Benís soccer
stuff and other activities. Iíd be the last to suggest that Peter was
very social and his absence made a great difference in the amount of
conversation in the house, but for some reason it has struck me as more of
a difference than when Dan left. Maybe it is a geometric effect, and when
I leave, Steve will find my departure four times as impacting as Danís.
. . Itís food for thought, anyway.
Despite some peopleís assumptions that I will find being the eldest
child at home something to be desired and pleased to have, I would much
prefer to let someone else be the oldest, so long as they left me alone,
so the current situation is actually a step down in preference.
School started off at a stumbling gallop, with my completing the online
AP English Language and Composition assignments for
both that week and the latter week I was on vacation (to top it off, my
teacher forgot I was away on vacation, and after sending me an E-mail
asking if I was receiving her E-mails, she called Dad, who was at home and
set her straight). I got that fixed up, and then I took the final exam for
my 9th grade Latin, for which I found out later I had
ill-studied for. I studied some parts which I didnít need to and not
studied others which I did, due to misunderstanding Poppaís assignment,
but I ended up getting a 95% on it despite all that.
This past Sunday evening Dad and I pored over four biology textbooks,
and decided which one to use after about twenty minutes of debate and
deliberation, and then I asked, "Why, if biology requires information
taught in chemistry, do you do biology first?" I really just wanted
an answer to this perplexity, but Dad, in typical style, answered with
another question. "Do you want to do chemistry?" I was somewhat
surprised by this response, and said, "Well. . . why not?" And
so, Iím now taking chemistry (for which by the way, I was instructed to
give a gush of enthusiasm).
Last week I attended the second class of the BEAT.
The BEAT is the Barshingerís English Acting
Troupe. The reason for "English" is that during the voice
exercises, Anna (the director and the same as was at French Creek) affects
an English accent, and "new" is supposed to be pronounced "nyew."
According to Anna and Gabe (the strongman who keeps order amongst the
unruly future actors, and also previously mentioned in this newsletter),
an English accent carries farther and doesnít sound English from a
distance. I am still skeptical.
I got entangled with the motley crew of the BEAT
in an interesting manner. Being tired of MAFIA for a
long time (you have heard my tales of horror and woe about it), I pled and
supplicated to Mom that I be released from it, and finally, she took heed.
However, I had to make a swap. Paul, Anna, Sharon, Gabe and Kiersten all
had suggested at various times and in various places that I join the BEAT
(of which they are all minions or bosses), and I finally gave in under the
enormous pressure. So, I traded MAFIA for the BEAT,
and I think I made out well in the deal.
In any event the second class went well enough, and I was given the
scripts of two of the scenes in which I will be acting, presumably. I was
told that I probably should study the scripts to get to know my character,
but it was only a suggestion, and I have plenty of time, Iím sure.
I also dug out my history book, and so my school is pretty much all set
up, apparently, and running somewhat smoothly, if rather fast for my
Iíve mentioned my camera before, but I thought I should devote some
more space to it at the end. Many of the events above are now captured in
digital format for all eternity, or at least until I delete them or they
get destroyed in some freak accident,. I hope to have them posted on my
web site as soon as is feasible, and will send out a notice when they are
up. I have found (despite an initial severe attack of buyerís remorse)
that the camera has been of great use, and well worth the investment.
A couple days ago Poppaís two sisters and their husbands drove down
from Canada to visit him and Nana. Poppa apparently hadnít seen one of
them for twenty years, and they had a good time, it seemed. As they were
leaving, Stephen, Ben, and I were summoned (somewhat like a prized
possession to be shown off, it seemed), and we went and greeted them, met
them, and said farewell to them, all for the first time (and probably
last, Mom mentioned, considering how far away they live). It was odd, that
four people who are related to one can pass so swiftly through the realm
of oneís life, and leave so little a trace. . .
The Hansells, mentioned in the beach trip section of the newsletter,
just had a large house fire a couple days ago, though they and their
children are all fine. They are displaced for three months and a fair
number of their possessions were destroyed or damaged in the fire,
according to my sources. If you all could pray for them, I, and they,
would appreciate it.
Iím sorry this is late and long, but much has happened in the two and
a half months since my last letter, and I didnít wish to exclude
noteworthy material. Thanks for bearing with me, and I wish you all a good
*Here Endeth the Newsletter*