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Hare–Raising Adventures
15th Publication, July 28th–September 11th, 2001

Well, even this newsletter is late. I can never seem to get one out at the time I set for myself, but I always have a good excuse. This time it was because we have had such a hectic month, as you shall see from the following pages. I believe I left off last time anticipating our trip to the agricultural facilities — namely, the farm run by Dad’s family. That went well, but quite quickly, as we were only there for a weekend. We departed on Monday and made a detour to French Creek State Park, where the French Creek Bible Conference’s camp for senior high school students was being held, and Peter was attending r

On the following Saturday the three older Plowman girls, Gabe West, and I all headed down to visit for two days. We were planning to return on Sunday afternoon, but our plot hinged on one point; whether the director would let us stay over Saturday night since he was having a lot of visitors. Fortunately for us he allowed us stay. Gabe and I camped out in Pete, Chuck (a fellow classmate from school), and Mike MacDonald’s cabin, and Andrew MacDonald, sensing people were going to have a good time without him, joined us as well. The main reasons that prompted us to pursue such a time–consuming endeavor were Sarah and Rachel’s disappointment at not being able to go for the whole time, due to a summer Chemistry class, Gabe’s having never been there before was curious to see what it was like, and I just went along for the fun of it. Since the camp was going to charge us an exorbitant rate for our meals, I had packed some leftover Capellini (the best food in the world) and a sandwich, which, properly rationed, held me through the duration. Saturday night was talent night, and along with the usual songs and instrumentals, there were three things that stood out: Andrew and Mike played The Cheeseburger Song (from Veggie Tales movie), with Andrew singing. It was quite amusing. The second event was James Porter (apparently of one the most popular people that attend French Creek) playing the guitar and singing a solo from The Little Mermaid. The third was my future counselor, though I didn’t know it at the time, singing a mock children’s song that a friend of his made up, with two girls as a chorus of kids. All three were quite hilarious. But all good things must come to an end, even if it is only a short one, and so we had to return home Sunday afternoon r

Luckily for me, I was able to return to French Creek the next day for a week–long stint with my trusty sidekick, Paul MacDonald (younger sibling to Andrew and Michael). As fate would have it, one of the very people I ate and sat beside at counselor training way back at the beginning of July was to be my counselor. I suppose it’s a small (and ironic) world after all. I had to endure much incredulity when those who knew that I had counseled found out that I was going to the seventh and eighth grade camp, and I was forced to explain multiple times that I was going down a grade for Paul’s sake, since there is no 8–9 camp. Amusingly enough, three counselors from 4–5 were there again as counselors, while I was there as a camper. It felt strange. There also were a number of staff and counselors from last year that returned, so I definitely didn’t feel lonely, with all those acquaintances (how they felt, however, I would not venture to say). This week is different from all the others in that there are eight clans (all the campers and counselors are divided into clans) instead of the traditional four. I like it and the general set up a lot better, in that it gives you more of a personal feel, instead of always being in a group of thirty or forty. One aspect of this set up is that each clan gets its own “teacher” for one class. We were bestowed with Bob Harting, whom Paul and I referred to as “Reverend Harting, Sir” and “Busdriver Bob” alternately, for he was both a bus driver and a pastor (he also was cool) r

The female counselor in our clan was Sayard Tanis, another repeat from last year (you almost wonder if these counselors are flunking, since they don’t seem to advance much), and she displayed her unique personality quite simply by saying she likes going cow tipping. She also regaled us with tales of farmers with shotguns chasing them in trucks (I can easily picture this in some action movie) once their tricks had been discovered. She also claimed to have a cassette tape recording of it, since she keeps a recorder with her all the time, and she had hit the record button at some point during the chase r

Our counselor, Timothy Coffin — whom we called Timothy Luke, because he didn’t like the name “Chippy” (he looks like a chipmunk when he smiles, which he does often) — was, as Paul put it quite succinctly, crazy and cool. We had a lot of fun times together, including some highly satisfactory moments, one of which involved successfully ambushing him with two liters of water around ten thirty on his way back from the washhouse r

We were also blessed with clan–mates who weren’t cool people, yet not wimpy nerds (except for me, but I’m not my clan–mate), unlike last year, when our clan could have been called with some justification, “clan of the weakling nerds,” if that were a legitimate name r

Speaking of clan names, that brings me to another subject: our clan name this year. The theme was sea creatures (or water critters or sodium chloride infested hydrogen oxygen members of the animal kingdom, depending upon who you are), and Paul and I immediately came up with five or six names: Algae, Sea Cucumbers, Plankton, and Krill, to name most, but tradition must be upheld at all costs, and if there is any certainty in this world, it decrees that I will never get the clan name I want at French Creek. The twin of the clan name is the clan chant. This Paul and I had given up all hope of ever doing it in a way that didn’t make us wish that there would be a spontaneous volcanic eruption and we would be dumped into molten magma, never to be seen again, until I came up with an idea — it was a truly brilliant idea, if I do say so myself, but it was already too late. We had just finished our lame attempt (we actually had a glimmer of hope that this might not be as bad as previous chants, but it was squashed by machinations of The Great Majority), and it would require premeditation and preparation. The idea was this: the clan chant didn’t necessarily have to be in any way connect to the clan, other than the clan had to chant it, so why couldn’t it be some chant already made? The only chants that came to my mind were the Gregorian chants, and they were perfect! If I could search the internet and find the text for some Gregorian chant, I could print it out and distribute it, and we could chant that instead of the usual trash. I told all this to Paul, and between us the idea was elaborated and transformed so that the end product had everyone wearing brown robes with ropes as belts (easily pulled over clothing, then tied), and we would all silently walk in a line to the front of the group, turn simultaneously, and start chanting. Once we finished, we could slowly return to the back of the awed crowd. There are a number of difficulties with this plan, but if itworked, I think it would be a great victory for Freedom Fighters Battling Bombast And Angry Clan Chants (FFBBAACC), and it would restore the long dead hope of a better French Creek experience for posterity (other than this it’s kind of hard to improve upon French Creek) r

There were only two disappointments aside from the usual and expected ones. One reason was the weather. For the first half of the week, it was beastly hot and humid, and then there was a complete change, and it became soaking wet and muddy, and when French Creek becomes muddy, you go through clothes very rapidly. The other annoyance was It and General Tso. They were two campers who seemed intent on making fools of themselves and enemies of the rest of us. They succeeded very well, in my opinion. It was a girl with a very whiny voice and unenchanting temperament. General Tso is actual a nick name of a nick name — he was a camper who thought he was “cool,” and skirted the line all week. We originally dubbed him “The Stupid One,” for he displayed admirably the qualities of that appellation, but then changed it to General Tso (the T for The, S for Stupid, and O for One) to avoid having staff or counselors inquire as to whom we were referring. It also meant something, which was a plus (There is a Chinese food called General Tso’s Chicken). While it might seem uncharitable to call them such, though we never called them that to their face, they both earned it not only from their general behavior, but from personal experience — It, unprovoked by me, attacked me in the pool, and after she had desisted, General Tso came up and dunked me numerous times in the mistaken assumption that I had attacked his girlfriend (it seemed cruelly appropriate that they should like each other). He left me with a warning not to bother her again and a very strong desire for a lethal weapon. In the end, I managed to salvage some amusement in my generating names for them, but that is only so fun... But those were the only annoyances worth speaking of — the rest of the camp was quite enjoyable, excepting cleaning the wash houses r

I spoke of traditions earlier. Another French Creek tradition is that Paul and I always got a two person cabin to ourselves. This year, alas, that tradition was broken. We had a cabin–mate from New York, and he was what I think cool people wannabes emulate. He always wore something similar to a handkerchief on his head (I referred to it as a skull cap, but he insisted it was something else which I have forgotten now), and wore typical “cool person” clothing. He was actually nice, though, and Paul and I practically got ourselves impaled on a broom handle several times late at night when we would scare him by using The Voice. The Voice is hard to explain, but I am willing to demonstrate at almost any time. Amusingly enough, despite being from a tough section of some city, he was paranoid, as we found out r

Just to see what the reaction would be, one early morning I wrapped up the front porch, Paul’s bed, guitar, and violin case, and my suitcase in caution tape, which I had brought along with no definite thoughts in mind. We then took pictures of it as if it were some crime scene, and departed. The cabin inspectors didn’t really feel one way or another about it, which was rather disappointing, but you can’t win them all r

With all this talk of French Creek, I feel it is now time to mention someone who should have been noted in the last letter, but was unintentionally left out. She made a special point of asking if I had mentioned her, and I was ashamed to say that I hadn’t, and sincerely promised to do so in this letter. Her name is Sharon Barshinger. She was at the 4–5 camp, and made it her job to torment Josh Koch, another counselor and a friend of Daniel’s, and me for the latter part of the week with unwarranted and disputatious accusations of a scurrilous nature, risibly claiming that we had been teasing her. We were shocked and dismayed at this treacherous attack from a modern day Brutus, and exclaimed that it had been she, not we, who had been the one doing the teasing. This had no effect on her, and she persisted in her misguided attack on our very natures, cutting us to the heart. A number of people chimed in for one side or another, with most of them for us, including all of Sharon’s relations who commented on the matter. On the very last day Josh was cornered and was forced to submit to an intensified experience, and at last, without me there to hold him up (somewhat akin to Aaron holding up Moses hands when he got tired, so the Sun would not set and the Israelites could win a battle, though slightly less important or theological), he gave forth and confessed to the false accusation, and apologized to Sharon. He later rescinded his apology, and, last I heard, Sharon was still contending with him, but with Sharon’s cousin taking upon himself my job. Josh and I left Sharon on good terms, and many a forgiving phrase for her behavior passed our lips, though I’m not she was on such good terms with us r

Eventually I had to come home from camp, and I found out that a lot had happened while I was away. Our pastor had sold his house and bought a house nearer to the church after years of trying to do so, Peter had fractured his ankle and had to wear a brace for soccer practices, Dan had come back for his birthday — which was August ninth — and left, Mom accepted a request for me to babysit a rabbit for a week, and we acquiesced to host an English soccer coach r

Once we had bid farewell to the coach and bunny, we received a request from the Fletchers, friends of our who live in New Jersey, to babysit their chocolate Labrador for twelve days. After some deliberation, we said “Sure!” So the Fletchers came, and it was somewhat wild. Their car had some ailment that required attention, so the kids and Mrs. Fletcher stayed at our house and ate lunch while Mr. Fletcher went to get it fixed, which took a little while. Then, as they were giving final instructions to me and packing the stuff back up (in fact, it was right after Mrs. Fletcher said, “Now, she never poops in the house”), Mr. Fletcher announced that Belle had, in fact, excreted in the hallway. There was great confusion as we tried to clean it up, and when they tried to leave, Belle kept trying to climb into the car, so we eventually had to lock her in her cage, and after a couple escapes because it hadn’t been set up properly, they left. We found out about a half an hour after they had departed that they had left their cooler with all their food in it in our back yard, but when we had called them, they said they would just leave it — I suppose they wanted to cut their losses and get out of here r

So I walked her twice a day (Of course, I found out when they came back that she is never walked at home), fed her once a day, as per their instructions, and that was pretty much it, except for making sure I didn’t step on her when she was splayed out on the middle of the kitchen floor, or that she didn’t wander out of the house, and that Steve and Ben didn’t excessively feed her scraps. It was really pretty easy. Finally, the Fletchers returned, and they descended once again somewhat like a hurricane. This time they had a new car, for the old one had troubled them to no end until they finally dispensed with it and purchased a new one, and they had to rearrange everything so that the dog supplies, the dog itself, and their cooler could fit in. While Mr. Fletcher was doing that, Mrs. Fletcher checked her E-mail, and the rest of us had soft pretzels and cookies (we saved a cookie for Mr. Fletcher). Belle was quite overjoyed at seeing the Fletchers; I think she had finally given in to being leashed to us to the end of her days, and the liberating force was greatly welcomed. She did refrain from the behavior exhibited at her arrival, thankfully. Once everything was in order, Mr. Fletcher bestowed upon me a check with a large monetary remuneration for my work, and while I protested violently, he beat me in the end my quoting Bible verses at me… I suppose there is a reason for verse memorization there r

Immediately after he left, the vultures and other desert scavengers tried to move in on my prize, so to speak, claiming that they had helped in various greatly significant ways. In the end, I finally gave in and divided up the dough as I saw fit, merely to get them off my back. Ah, the avaricious cupidity of some is enough to make one ill r

Ever since I came back the summer has been crazy, as you might have noticed. Along with all these other distractions, I’ve been slowing plodding along with my school, and I am finally finishing up my Algebra, having completed everything else. I also had to complete a year’s worth of memorization for Sunday school (Bible verses, a number of questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and a couple hymns) in the month of August, since I had procrastinated for the first portion of the church year, and then had lost my book, and only got a replacement at the beginning of August r

We seemed to have a lot of medical visits in August. I had a annual physical, and they declared me good for at least another year, and Pete and I had orthodontist visits, while Mom had a dentist visit. Then Peter fractured his ankle, instigating for a week or so visits every other day to some kind of therapist, and then, once his ankle was better, he broke his clavicle, and so he had has to wear a sling, and that created more doctor visits. I also had my annual (or at least supposed to be annual) Cardiologist visit, and they told me that I had to double the amount of medicine that I’m taking, so now I have to remember to take medicine twice a day, and change the little rubber bands in my mouth (the orthodontist proscribed them to yank my jaw back into place) three times a day. It’s a rare day when I remember all five things. But I got back at the doctor by putting on the wall all the little stickers they stuck on me so they could look around in my insides. That amused them, and they told us that by the end of the day, they usually have stickers on their backs, pants, and everywhere else. I reflected on that, and realized that that is probably one of the things they don’t warn pediatrics majors about in medical school r

On Labor Day my most beneficient Uncle David was in a philanthropic mood, and took me to Dorney Park. Dorney Park is an amusement park relatively near us, and since all my other siblings (excluding Ben) had already been there by one means or another, I was the obvious candidate for his generosity. We first spent an hour or so searching three different stores for that elusive commodity, Creative Cubes, or Neat Idea Cubes. They are one foot by one foot metal squares, with one inch squares inside. The reason I wanted them was for my guinea pigs. I want to enlarge their living area, and have one cage instead of two, and while it would be quite easy to buy a bottom for a cage (some large shallow plastic tub of some sort — there are plenty in stores like Wal Mart), the sides are a different matter. A great number of other owners of guinea pigs purchased these cubes and linked them together (see example to right), which is what I wanted to do, but all the various stores that should have had them in stock let me down. In one store, Sam’s Club, they actually had some that were linked together into a cube holding golf clubs, but the employees said that they no longer sell them. We finally gave up on that idea and headed out to the park. We had a great time there, though I think Uncle David was hampered in his more reckless pursuits by my disinterest in gigantic roller coasters (I’m also not sure how wise it would be because of my weak heart, so I had a medical reason as well, not just my cravenness). I managed to best him in two ways, though. One way was in the water park section, at “The Lily Pads;” large foam lily pads with a thick plastic covered wire above it, which you have to cross to get to the other side. The first two lines he didn’t manage to get across, but he finally succeeded on the third line. The other venture in which I regained my honor was the speedway. We had tickets to this event where you each get a little car with brake and a accelerator. I got into the car behind Uncle David, and, when the light went green, sped past him and only saw him again once, when another car came up from behind me and bumped me out of the way (breaking the rules). So I temporarily fell back and caught sight of my tardy uncle. All in all we had a great time, and we even stopped into a restaurant to greet Amy, Uncle David’s daughter, who was working there r

After Dorney Park, we went and descended upon Dr. Femister, who was having a Labor Day picnic, which was quite enjoyable. So all in all, I had a wonderful time. If only there were more days like that r

The transition back to school (or transition to a different grade, but not back, for I, at least, have never stopped) has been very turbulent for us, because Peter, Steve and Ben all have soccer practices and games now, and Peter has school and Lehigh classes. RYFES has started back up, and despite rumors to the contrary, I have returned there for a third round. I haven’t heard anything about French class, but I assume that it will be starting up eventually as well. The Lehigh students have arrived as well, so various activities were scheduled to lure them into joining RUF’s Bible study, including a marshmallow roast (to be made into s’mores or eaten plain), miniature golfing in a thunderstorm, and bowling. We have had a record number of people — I think twenty eight went to the miniature golfing, and six went to church with us last week, which is good r

The plane tickets have been bought, and Nana and Poppa are planning on returning to Bethlehem on October fourth after a seventeen year vacation in Hawaii, so we are hurrying to get all the renovation work done before they arrive. A number of people have asked whether I am glad that they are moving next door. I don’t know why there is even need to ask — of course I’m glad r

Our garage is now fixed, and has an automatic door and a lockable side door, along with vinyl siding and being yanked straight (it was leaning). There is still a lot of debris in the yard, which I think will take a while to get put away again, but it is basically done. We also got a new dining room carpet, and while I don’t really approve of the color, it’s definitely a step up from our last one. I suppose everything is a compromise r

I received the second only official or “real” babysitting job recently — Mr. George and his wife, members of our church, wanted to attend a going away party for a colleague of Mr. George’s, and they hired me to watch and feed their four kids for a couple hours. It went pretty well, and so I think I may actually be proficient at babysitting kids when their mothers aren’t only one room away and easily called upon in an emergency r

Yesterday everyone except Pete (and Dan) in our family went down to New Jersey to visit Uncle John and his family, because Aunt Gail’s father had died of cancer just a couple of days before. We had a nice time and went to an Italian restaurant for supper where I had a cheese steak stromboli, which was quite scrumptious (I finished off the remains today for lunch). We proceeded to grace a nearby (according to Uncle John — “nearby” to him means crossing no large bodies of water, a reliable source told us) Rita’s Italian Ice with our presence. After standing around and consuming our various frozen confections and talking for a while, we decided to part company. We all piled into the car and had an uninterrupted — except in two cases: we had to stop to purchase coffee and use the bathrooms, and to refuel — trip, which was very long and uncomfortable. We arrived in around eleven thirty, and I went to bed, after giving the pigs their nightly snack (lettuce, this time) and refilling their water bottles r

The next morning — today — I had the shameful yet somehow greatly satisfying experience of sleeping in until ten eighteen, which is an almost unprecedented event for me. The only other time I can think of when I slept in later than or around that time was after counseling at French Creek, when I slept in until noon. Anyway, I’m sure you all don’t want hear about my sleeping habits. I finally woke up, and was told by Mom that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and one had crashed into the pentagon. This, as you can imagine, was not what I was expecting to wake up to. So I spent the rest of the morning pretty much just listening to the radio, hearing about all the devastation. It sort of reminded me of a computer game we have, in which terrorists blow up the Statue of Liberty. Anyway, maybe I’m still in shock and I don’t know it, or maybe I’m just really cynical or something, but while everyone is talking about how they can’t believe it, I can believe it quite easily. I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but it is believable r

I suppose I’ll leave you with that sobering occurrence. Oh yes, the picture came from I hope you have a pleasant month or so,

–~Snowshoe Hare~–
–~Christopher Green~–

*Here Endeth the Newsletter*