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Hare-raising Adventures
22nd Publication, 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 and such.

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 training.

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 Kiersten Timpe.

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 cigarettes.

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 except Kiersten.

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 mention.

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 seed.

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 outreach.

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 once.

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 First Half*

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 Diems arrived.

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 co-ordinated.

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 different things.

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 tastes.

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 school year.

Ė~Snowshoe Hare~Ė
Ė~Christopher Green~Ė

*Here Endeth the Newsletter*