Dear family:

The past two weeks have been characterized by sickness and surgery for our extended family. A week ago Thursday I came down with a sore throat, perhaps a belated version of what the boys had. By the weekend, I was running a high fever and pretty much useless. More than a week later, I am still running a low grade fever but I feel much better. I have a deep chest cough and feel somewhat run down, but for the most part I have kept going because I had to. David now has the beginning of a cold, so Iím worried that he is going be the next victim.

Nancy Feaver had surgery to remove her gallbladder. I spoke with her the day after and she was feeling uncomfortable because she didnít react well to the pain medication, but at least the surgery was successful and without complications. Mary Lou Shay had cataract surgery, and Auntie Doris was experiencing some eye hemorrhage. Then Davidís father was in pain and finally went to the doctor on Friday. The doctor sent him right over to the hospital and they operated on him that night to repair a hernia. Johnís family had their share of this news, too. When I spoke with him last weekend he mentioned that Julianne had scarlet fever. They were trying to work around a birthday party for Megan that same weekend! The good news is that no one seems to be in a crisis state, but we are a sorry bunch, arenít we?

As a counterpoint to sickness, I notice that we have had our share of celebrations, too. In the days before I got sick, I was busy making and baking for various events. Ben had a regular valentine factory going Ė the more he made, the more he thought of people to make them for Ė so that project kind of took over our lives for a while. I made jello jigglers for his nursery school Valentineís party and then cookies and brownies for the Lehigh study. Also that week we had Benís half year birthday party at school. Since his birthday is in the summer, his school suggests that we have a school party at the half year mark. I made our Feaver family traditional cat cookies and punch. We also made a book, The Story of Ben, with pictures from his birth to the present. As you can imagine, this is currently Benís favorite book. Then, for a special treat, we took the guinea pig in to school. Christopher came along, and was talked into being a part of the birthday parade Ė everyone had a rhythm instrument and marched through the halls singing happy birthday, Ben leading the parade and clanging the cymbals. I wondered how we would get through this event without presents, but Ben didnít seem to notice the lack of presents.

On Valentineís Day itself, Christopher, Stephen, and I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of a MAFA field trip. I feel rather ashamed that we live so close to such a fine museum and just never go there. We had the place largely to ourselves. Our MAFA art instructor, who worked for years at the museum, gave us a guided tour through the Baroque period. Stephen came down with a case of museum fatigue, but Christopher has asked to go back, and has plans for systematically combing through the collection over four visits.

This immersion into fine art was a nice contrast with the reality of our daily lives. My dryer hose came off the vent and lint was being sprayed all over the basement. Then both the washing machine and dishwasher sprang leaks, so we had a repairman in for that. The main hassle has been a series of computer difficulties. A number were caused by shoddy repairs at the local computer shop. The hard drive they installed after Christmas suddenly failed. David had to replace that and reload all of our programs. On Jim Femisterís advice we tried to install Windows 2000, only to learn after several days that we couldnít make it work with our programs. For the most part, all of that has been taken care of now (back to Windows 98). The other things is our DSL company had been sold to another company, so we had to install a new modem they sent. This modem arrived without any letter of explanation; they later explained to David that they didnít send a letter because they figured everyone would just call the number on the box to find out what it was.. However, we could not get through to the company tech support because the lines were busy, and they recommended that we send an email instead, though of course we were without Internet connection! The instruction book said installation would take twenty minutes, but it ended up taking four hours. This company deserves a major bonk. The upshot of it all has been that we have had very limited email access for weeks and David and Peter have spent hours trying to get us back in operation. I wonder how other people manage. At least David and Peter are pretty knowledgeable, and we have Jim Femister and Daniel on call, too.

A sudden snowstorm this week left David stranded in New Jersey overnight on his birthday. The highway was closed due to a 50 car pile-up. David is convinced that New Jersey people are less competent than Pennsylvanians about getting around in snow. Fortunately he was able to sleep over at the Fletchers and they even produced a birthday cake for him, so we had his birthday dinner here a day late. Ben decided to give him a book he was finished with; I suggested he also give a highlighter marker, since Ben had left the cap off Davidís highlighter, and it dried out. This gives you a pretty good idea of the extent of our imagination when it comes to thinking of presents for Dad.

Well, it is not my intention to depress anyone with our family letter, but on rereading this I see it is not one of my most inspiring letters. I guess we are in serious need of Spring around here!



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