A Typical Buchman Vacation Day

Here was my plan for Friday – to go to the Joel Thorpe wedding in Philly a day early. I had the hotel booked. I wanted to spend the afternoon with Diana walking around to all the places we used to go when we first met at 1800 Arch Street. That building has been long gone, but many others would still be there. Lots of restaurants and parks and places of that sort would be at the same locations. Maybe we could grab some Philly steaks and a dessert at the Ice Cream Company.

But, a bundle of responsibilities in the morning delayed departure. Then the weather looked bad for Philly in the afternoon. Before long, it was too late to go.

Then, it started to rain in River Bend Farms … and it rained hard. The spouts could not handle it. I had the thought that perhaps I should check the basement, and sure enough, it was flowing through a crack in the bulkhead door. So I started bailing and carrying buckets. I was able to avert a disaster for sure.

Then, Caleb comes home to announce that a tree had fallen across our driveway. So, that was my next task… cleaning it up enough so that we can at least get by to actually go to the wedding in Philadelphia.

Vacation – Buchman style. We are vacationally dysfunctional. I shouldn’t even try to take days off; it seldom works out.

So I finished my vacation day with an elevated leg and swollen knee – but at least the Orioles beat the Nationals … so, it was a good day after all!


Jubilee Day – Not My Kind of Day

Since I’ve been putting a post each day about what I’ve done with my days off, I’ll write a few lines about Thursday. This is not as good as the last two days.

I spent my day at Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg, PA.  Why? I’m not really sure. And what is it?  I don’t really know how to explain it.

Jubilee Day is an annual event in Mechanicsburg – a city known for big events, like, the dropping of the wrench on New Year’s Eve (I’m not making that up).

It is an annual street carnival sort of thing with lots of funnel cakes places, lemonade stands, crafters, various organizations (including churches with stands), and music venues at various locations. They shut down the main street in town and something like 40,000 people come to it.

We own a franchise location in Mechanicsburg of our oldest son’s and daughter-in-law’s business, Potomac Bead Company. The location is on Main Street there, in a store that our family (mostly Aaron) renovated (it was originally a downtown movie theatre – so the front room slopes upward from the front door.  A stray bead can roll 50 feet before it stops!).

Diana manages the business, most days from a distance – travelling there once or maybe twice a week. I don’t talk about this much – mostly because I seldom see or experience the place, beyond taking inventory on New Year’s Day (can you imagine counting roughly 6 million beads?).

So on this Jubilee Day, there is quite a lot of foot traffic in the store. My role is basically security guard and bouncer!  (Things can get rough in a bead store!)  So, it was not the most interesting day, but I was glad to help Diana.

The following is a picture from the Mechanicsburg Chamber of Commerce about Jubilee Day. And after that are a couple of pictures of the store.

Official Announcement: I’ve Entered My Dotage

Yes, it is true. I will not deny it; I am officially a doddering old man in his dotage. Have you ever heard that word – dotage – or that phrase?  It came across my radar when reading the book John Adams by David McCullogh. Adams used the phrase all the time to describe failing old men – an ability at which he excelled beyond all his peers, living to the age of almost 91 (as Thomas Jefferson uttered his last words – dying the same day – “Adams survives.”)

The word dotage means “a decline of mental faculties, especially as associated with old age; senility.”

Yep, as if I likely need to prove this to any of you who know me, here is proof of my decline – evidenced by how I spent my afternoon on Wednesday of my vacation week…

I thought I would drive down into West Virginia to view some of the Civil War Trails historic markers of varied sites that are not commonly a part of the major incidents of the War. I’m always trying to learn new things and also gain more material for my Civil War blog (www.enfiladinglines.com … check it out if you’ve never seen it!).

So, I’m at a fairly remote location and came upon a marker at a spot where there honestly was not much to see other than the marker itself – the historic stuff no longer is standing at that location. Well, I read the marker, took a few pictures of it for later reference, and went to get back in the car.




What to do??  Among options I considered was finding a large rock to break the window! But down the country road I saw a home and thought I’d at least walk toward it. There was fellow outside to whom I told my sad tale of woe. He actually recognized me as a Williamsport coach, as he has a son who is a distance runner for Hedgesville High School. He had a cell phone on him, and I began to call my various progeny to come rescue me. However, one was in Ocean City, another was at work in Carlisle, and a third did not answer his phone. Caleb is the guy I really needed, but, since his phone number is “in my phone” which was “in the locked car,” I could not call him. Eric Boutieller (my Student Ministries Pastor) was fortunately at church, and I was able to call him there … “Eric, could you give me my son’s phone number?”  So, after about 30-40 minutes, Caleb arrived to rescue me.

OK… here is my excuse … old people make excuses for their behavior … like my 90-year-old mother did when she was robbed by a roving band of Gypsies (not making this up – just reporting what happened) who talked her out of her house to discuss home repairs, while a group of them stole a bunch of money and broke into a safe she had in the house!  When I said to her, “Mom, this is why you probably should not be living alone anymore at age 90,” her answer to me was, “Well, now that this has happened, I’ll know to not do that again!”

OK… where was I? … why did I write that story???  OH, ok, I was going to give you my excuse for locking myself out of a running car.

Here’s the story: It is a new-to-us car – the newest and nicest car we have ever owned. It is a 2002 Cavalier with only 53,000 miles on it. You see, we’re not really too “into” cars. But I really, really do still want to have a BMW or Benz – not a big thing, mind you. Just like a 325 series or a small 230 Mercedes – something like that.

Oh… I got sidetracked again with another story… sorry …

Notice the tiny little locking thinger!

So, this new car, for which I’m very thankful having had it given to us by my brother-in-law after my sister passed away … well … it does have a stupid feature – in my estimation. The door locking mechanism is not a vertical thing on the handle like in our Toyota cars. No, it is a horizontal latch connected to the door opening latch, and all you need to do it bump against it getting out of the car, and it goes into a locked position. I guess that is what I did … probably bumped it because of my dotage-infested aching knees that make every car-exiting experience the worst moment of any day.

So that’s my excuse; it could happen to anyone at any age, right??

Simply Surreal

I am mostly using vacation days this week, and as I mentioned at some point in the past, I’ve occasionally been doing some genealogical research – using Ancestry.com and a whole host of other ideas and research.

To quickly review my bizarre story:  I was adopted by my biological mother’s parents – so my known-to-me parents were actually grandparents. My biological father was much older and was already long married (but with no children) when I was born to a young single working woman. So I never knew him, though he lived but a few miles away. I talked with him once on the phone for a couple of minutes, wherein he declined my offer to get together. He died in 1979.

So, this half of my life and background is a relative black hole. And for some reason, I’ve felt the compulsion to dig into in and see what I can find. It has been difficult to learn much – there were/are few relatives. At the most, I might have 2-3 “cousins” living, and I’ve so far been unsuccessful in tracking them down. I’ve only been able to take the family back to three generations before me, and I’m stuck trying to understand why my great-grandfather in 1860 was a five-year-old living with people of a different name – whom I know for sure are not related to him. It appears he was an orphan?

I don’t think I’m going to be able to figure this out without finding a remaining descendent or two and gaining an oral history from them. And with that endeavor, I’ve so far scored the same number as the Orioles have scored runs against the NY Mets – Zero!

Well yesterday I went to the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society library in Easton, PA.  There I was greeted by the manager (and I’m not making this up) who is a woman who is exactly 100 years old!!  Though she was moving even slower than me, her mind was not dragging much at all!

As I sat down at a table in this small room, there were two younger women working for the library on some sort of project with stacks of printed materials piled on the same table. The spunky elderly lady sat down with me and asked me to tell my story so they’d know how to help. So I began with what little I know … starting with my biological father …

I told them his name and said that he would have been prominent in the community for only one thing – that he was much involved in musical drama and theatre with a local company called “The Chansonette Theatre” (a group like our local Potomac Play Makers).  Hearing my story, one of the ladies recording information on the other side of the table said, “Well, how about that! That is what we just sat down to work on right here right now – we are cataloging an entire collection of playbills and programs from that theatre group. This pile of stuff was just given to us.”  And then she picked up the first program on top – from 1955 – and opened it and there was a picture of my father on the inside cover! For this particular show – South Pacific – he was the Musical Director (so I came by the role of “Herr Victor Schwab” naturally! … long story there if you don’t know what that references). There were other programs where he was pictured and featured with leading roles, and some reviews of critics in newspaper clippings – that sort of thing.

So, is that surreal, or what?

The lady said, “I think the ancients want to be found as much as we want to find them.”  I don’t know about that … well, yes I do know about that – and know that it cannot be true. But I do think I was on some divinely orchestrated timetable, and that it was not a mere coincidence.  I don’t know why … because I’m certainly not having much divine orchestration going on with my efforts to track down a blood relative.

But there is more to be done and written on this story. My competitive, tenacious nature has now been aroused, and I’m likely to hound it until I figure it out. Here’s a picture … anyone else think he’s got a little bit of a Mitt Romney thing going on?

Now, look at this picture of my oldest son Nathan … do you think these people are related??

A Surprise for the Geigers

I did something in church yesterday that I’ve been planning for some time – to pull a surprise on our friends Lyle and Miget Geiger.

The Geigers moved to our area a couple years ago from the Lehigh Valley, as Lyle works for Volvo. When in Allentown, they attended our denomination’s church there – Faith Evangelical Free in Wescoesville (just west of Allentown). As you may recall, this is the home of my wife Diana, and is not that far from where I grew up. Faith has always been a rather large church, and even when I was a teenager, I’d often go to concerts there – as this church hosted many of the best-known Christian musicians of the time.

The Geigers have three married sons – one of whom serves in the Orlando, Florida area at a very large church (Northland Church – Joel Hunter pastor). He is on the musical/worship staff (yes, lots of people). He is an outstanding keyboard player, songwriter, and singer. At various times, his songs have been a part of their worship services and may be seen in the media section of their web page.

So, for the 11:00 song to gather people for the iGrow session, I had Diana (in the sound room) connect to one of these links and project the song. It was fun for me to watch the Geigers go to their seat and sort of begin to realize that, hey, their son was playing on the projection!  Lyle told me later that Miget said to him, “That sounds like one of the songs Pete has written.”  And then, looking at the screen, he said, “It is Pete; there he is!”  So that was fun for me to watch.

An extra connection of this family to our church is through the Craver family. Fred and Norma’s son and family attended Faith in Allentown, and the Craver’s granddaughter was a very good singer who grew up in the youth group together with the Geiger’s son – doing some music things together as well.

If you want to see the song that we projected, here is the link:


Just TOTALLY Annoying!

What is? Ugh!! The crazies of the world … who get some bizarre pleasure out of creating computer problems for someone else!

Yes, I got one of those stupid virus things – where someone is trying to sell you a fix for a problem that does not exist (a hard drive problem), or sometimes for an issue that they first gave you!

My trouble is likely a fixable problem without the loss of anything … so I’m thankful for that; and I’m even more thankful for my friend Rusty Claman – who is my hero. He came into the staff meeting today to pick up my sorry machine (I’m using an old one now), and I fell at his feet and worshipped! This is a good guy.

Selling a fix for a problem that does not exist – that is how a great many people look at the church and the evangelical gospel message. They deny the reality of the problem (that sin separates them from a relationship with God) and therefore they see the entire process of salvation/sanctification/service to be a sales job for an unneeded product. And they likely find the network of efforts of churches and organizations as about as annoying as I find these crooks who cooked up my computer glitch.

But honestly, to not sense a need for God and to deny the truths that even creation itself screams about this reality … well, it is like running through life without virus protection whatsoever, being fatally infected, and not believing it to be true.

Rusty walked out of church today saying that there will be no technology in heaven, as it is reserved for hell!  I can’t give you a Scripture reference for that, but I think Rusty is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known!

The Annual Youth Variety Show

I am sure that when my TSF years are all said and done, some of the warmest memories I will have will be of the annual youth spaghetti dinner and talent show (held Friday night). This was originally the idea of my 2nd oldest son Ben – who turned 28 a few days ago. Back when he was at Williamsport High School, he was in the famous Sophisti-‘Cats Show Choir, and they did numerous spaghetti dinner fundraisers. That first year, Ben pulled together a bunch of the teens and put together a choir number that was performed in a “Black church” style of soul – the song “Oh Happy Day” – as in Sister Act. He borrowed a collection of pure white choir robes from the high school, and it was great.

Of course, along the way, the boys of the youth group have put together the annual Male Interpretive Dance Team. This is a spoof that the guys originally did because the girls, many years ago, had a serious interpretive dance team. The girls were really good, but the boys of course did a lot of running into each other, etc.  This is one of those things that is sorta like when your infant child does something that is not exactly a good thing, but it was really funny and so you laughed – which encouraged the child to do it even more! Well, the “Male Interp” thing has grown to have a monstrous life of its own. It is now the highlight and finale song of the program. And now also, it has become a tradition for there to be an introductory video.  Some of these have been incredibly funny. A couple of years ago, one of them had me laughing about as uncontrollably as anything I’ve ever seen!

These events are fundraisers for our annual youth summer trip: on even-numbered years to the denominational National Youth Conference, and on odd-numbered years to a missions project trip. This year there is a conference to be held in New Orleans. Previous conferences have been at Georgia Tech, Purdue, Colorado State, and in the civic centers of Columbus and Salt Lake City. About 5,000-6,000 youth from around the country attend these life-changing events.

Here are a few pictures from what was truly a variety show:

I put this picture of a back-flip off a step ladder on our church Facebook page, and it was seen by our EFCA home office in Minnesota, and they re-posted on the Denominational page – to be seen all over the country.