Sunday, July 3, 2011


The Box has been getting around plenty after it was refreshed with oil and other fluids and got its state inspection. So much, in fact, that little time has been left to write in this blog. So we'll try to make up for it with some brief comments about where we've been lately.

Jim Brown shows kids the new red parament
On June 12, we went to Market Square Church for Pentecost Sunday. It was a major Sunday, not only for its liturgical significance, but for the fact that both Holy Communion and Baptism were celebrated. Following worship, a church picnic was held on the front sidewalk. In the afternoon, we drove to York, Pa., to attend a concert by Jubilate! Choral Ensemble, a group directed by Eric Riley, the music director at Market Square. It was held at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, and I arrived just in time to watch a heavy downpour from the church's new gathering space. I was especially interested in hearing the concert because I had worked as a sort of coach for Eric to learn the French lyrics to a series of songs, which he then taught to the ensemble. I have to say, the group did very well, because I am a genius and Eric is very good at retaining the sounds he heard.

The next day, Susanne returned from New Brighton with Cole and Chloe in tow. Their mom, our daughter Sarah, had to attend a three-day office meeting in Columbus, so Susanne brought them home to spend the week with us. We had a lot of fun with them, but now I see why nature suggests only young people have babies! By the end of the week, when Sarah arrived and they took Susanne to Avalon, New Jersey, with them, we were wiped out! Kids are a full-time job, and we admire Sarah for her ability to cope and to make their youth fun, interesting, and educational.

A basket o'whoopies!
During their stay, we visited the Farm Show farmers market to have lunch and buy some -- wait for it -- whoopie pies! Next we headed to Hershey and rode the ride at Chocolate World, then maneuvered through the mine field that is the Hershey's sales floor at the end of the ride. We got off light, with no stuff animals or kiss-shaped gizmos.

On our way home, we stopped at the public playground next to the Hershey Library. The kids played on the immense structure featuring climbing devices, chutes, and ladders.

With Aunt Rachel.
On June 15, my sister Rachel took them to a games and sports arcade near Carlisle. I rode along but left them in her care so they'd have some "bonding" time. They played miniature golf, rode some go cart thingies, and swiped their "credit cards" in every type of game in the place. In the meantime, I drove down the road to an antiques mall and looked at the goodies there. The kids spent the rest of the day talking about the fun they had.

The next morning, we zoomed through the the partially-completed roundabout in the Linglestown square and had breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts. Chloe had a problem making up her mind about what donut to have, but she chose her drink quickly -- Gatorade, of all things. Cole insisted on some sort of blueberry slushy stuff and ended up with a blue tongue and teeth!

Soon Sarah arrived, and the next morning the kids were off to Avalon with their mother and grandmother, and I spent the week recovering. Susanne had no such luck, but she loves the kids and the shore, so she made out ok. I actually spent a lot of time on finding and interviewing prospective families to host the French kids coming to visit in July and August. It's always great fun to meet these people, because they are truly interested in people and are definitely kind and outgoing.

Kids and G.G.
The vacationers returned on Friday, then packed and left for home on Saturday. On the way, they stopped at Messiah Village outside Mechanicsburg to see their great-grandmother. Susanne and I went along and enjoyed a visit, too. Susanne's mother lives in an apartment but was staying in the assisted living building as she undergoes physical therapy for injuries sustained in a fall.

On June 26, the congregation at Market Square said good-bye to the pastor of fourteen years, Jim Brown, and his wife Nina. After the service, we trooped across the square to the Harrisburg Hilton and Tower, where we enjoyed a meal, heard tributes to Jim and Nina, and watched a Powerpoint Presentation of photos that I had been asked to prepare.

Later that week, the Harrisburg Chapter of the American Guild of Organists hosted a regional conference. More than 250 organists were in town. On Tuesday night, there was a concert in Market Square Church, followed by workshops there on Wednesday and Thursday. Choir friends Dotty Hotchkiss, Wilmer Henninger, and I volunteered to direct traffic throughout the church during the workshops.

The driver is in the white shirt, getting his head examined.
After the Thursday workshops, the Box and I crossed the Susquehanna River to visit a prospective host family in Camp Hill. I had a pleasant time with them, meeting the parents and children and a little puppy, too. It's amazing how distinctive each child in a family can be. I think their student is going to have fun with the three girls! How Dad is going to make out with yet one more woman in the house is questionable!

On the way up US 11, I drove along the riverside for the views, then came across a one-car accident that attracted a number of police cars and emergency vehicles. I noticed the driver being examined at the side of the road.

Stroopie, anyone?
By Friday, the Box was panting and humming, "Give me a break, give me a break," so I rode with my sister Rachel and Linda, her friend from college, to Lititz, Lancaster County. Linda likes all things Americana, so after lunch on Main Street, we visited several shops with antiques and crafts in the Americana vein. At lunch we discovered "Stroopies," a Dutch confection that is enjoyed best by heating it over your cup of java. Most enjoyable was the perfect weather as we walked up and down the avenue, passing 18th and 19th century stone, brick, log, and frame buildings, not to mention the anti-Obama Libertarians asking passers-by to sign petitions.I always enjoy the ride along US 322 in Lebanon County to see the rolling hills and fields.

Friday evening,  I drove to Paxtang, a very old suburb east of Harrisburg, to interview a couple who will host the last of the French kids coming in July. They live in a beautiful old home and were generous enough to show me around. The young Frenchman will enjoy the surroundings with his own room and bathroom, a swimming pool in the yard, and weekends cruising the Chesapeake Bay!

Wait here for the spring thaw.
Driving around the block to head home, I came across the entrance to the Paxtang Cemetery, and being a sucker for graveyards, I drove through. There was the usual assortment of stones, an old "receiving vault" for storage when the ground was too hard to open in the winter (in ye olden times), and a couple of modern stones, one of which contained a lengthy carved note from the widower to his beloved. It was something I had never seen before. There is also a large mausoleum dwarfed by a cell tower poorly disguised as a flagpole.

T. Roosevelt called it "the most handsome building I ever saw."
Yesterday, I met Bob and Alice Anne from Market Square Church to complete the job of setting up a daybed Rachel had given to an elderly woman who is a member of the church. We had set the bed up earlier but did not have the bolts for the back that turns the bed into a couch. We got that done pretty quickly, and I took advantage of being in the building by going up to the "penthouse," a sort of community/ group meeting space at the very top of the building. That would be on the 22nd floor, so you can imagine the views from there. One could see up and down the broad river with all its water craft enjoying the weather, the various bridges and office buildings, and most especially, the majestic Pennsylvania State Capitol. The view to the east was dominated by the Statehouse, which dwarfed everything around it.

South Street-scape
I also strolled down South Street, one of the oldest streets in town. I find South Street very attractive, with a mix of townhouses and single homes, including the gorgeous buildings of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the oldest part of which was the 18th century farm house of William Maclay, son-in-law of city founder John Harris, Jr., and the first U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. There are two houses for sale on South Street. I dream of living there and walking a few yards to stroll along the river. Perhaps one of them could be a weekend retreat!

On my way home, I stopped at the State Museum of Pennsylvania to use the, um, er, facilities, and took a few moments to view Art of the State, a juried exhibit of art from across Pennsylvania. The strongest work was in the painting category, I think. I am no expert, of course, but I found many of the works compelling.

Well, there you have it. Don't forget that you can click on any photo to enlarge it. Here are some additional photos of our recent activities.

 Cole eats pancakes with his name spelled out.

 Chloe got her initials.

 How about a plant for the garden?
 The obligatory whoopie pie picture.

 Cole chooses a small treat after
the Chocolate World tour.

 Chloe is supercharged on the
motorcycle ride at the fun emporium.

 When we get to Rachel's for a
picnic, Chloe is thrilled to find
mommy's already there!

 Sarah brought along some famous
Oram's breakfast treats from Beaver Falls.

 On Sunday, Jim and Nina Brown's family joined them
for the farewell party at the Hilton.

 During the organist conference, this young man was
daring enough to play and be evaluated in front of his peers.

 On my way to see a host family, I spotted this new
Dunkin' Donuts and admired its tidy architecture.

 On the way home, I saw this scene from the top of the
hill in Wormleysburg.

 In West Fairview this old firehouse caught my eye.

 A few blocks away, and still on my way home, I spotted
this bucolic view of the Susquehanna tripping over some rocks.

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