Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 27, 2011, the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) Lectionary Ruminations is also cross posted on my personal blog,

Isaiah 49:8-16a
v. 8 “Thus says the Lord” certainly leaves no doubt about whom Isaiah claims is speaking here. What is the “time of favor” and “day of salvation” being referred to? What does it mean that God has “kept” us and “given” us as a covenant to the people?

v. 9 What prisoners are being referred to? Are “the prisoners” the same as “those who are in darkness”? How can bare heights be anyone’s or anything’s pasture if it is bare?

v. 10 Is this a reference to only physical hunger and thirst? Who is the one having pity? How can springs of water serve as a guide?

v. 11 This is not mountain top removal mining being referred to here. Might this same thought be expressed by a phrase such as “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” (See Isaiah 40:3-4)

v. 12 Why might the north and south be mentioned, but not the poetic parallel east and west? Is there anything special about the land of Syene?

v. 13 How do the heavens sing and how does the earth exult? How do mountains sing? Why would the heavens and mountains sing and the earth exult because the LORD has (note the tense) comforted the LORD’s people and will have (note the tense) compassion on the Lord’sSuffering ones?

v. 14 Have you ever felt like Zion?

v. 15This is one of my favorite passages in Isaiah, alluded to by A Brief Statement of Faith line 49. What does it mean that God cannot forget us?

v. 16 So God has my name tattooed in the palms of God’s holy hands? How special!

Psalm 131
I think this might be the shortest psalm in the Psalter!

v. 1 The first two lines sound to me like a lament, but the third and fourth lines sounds more like confessions of a follow of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy.

v.2 In light of Isaiah 49:15, I cannot but help envision myself as a nursing child at the breast of a maternal God.

v. 3 What does it mean to “hope in the Lord”? (See Psalm 130:7)

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
v. 1 Who is the “us”? What does it mean to be “stewards of God’s mysteries”? What are “God’s mysteries”?

v. 2 What does it mean to “be found trustworthy?”

v. 3 Who is judging and who is being judged and for what?

v. 4 In other words, we have all committed sins we are not even aware of committing?

v. 5 So if we expect the Lord to be our judge, we should refrain from judging one another until Jesus returns and then truly allow him to be our judge? For PC(USA) Presbyterians, what does this say about the Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order?

Matthew 6:24-34
v. 24 What does this verse tell us about any Pastor trying to serve yoked churches? Oh, this is not about churches but God and wealth. Most of the wee-kirks I have served have not had much wealth, nevertheless, I think it is just as easy to worship the wealth they do not have as much as the wealth they might have.

v. 25 According to the rules of logic and rhetoric, how does “Therefore” follow from the verse preceding it? Who is speaking here? I am sorry Jesus, but in this post recessionary period of high unemployment, it is very difficult not to worry just a little. Yes, life is more than and clothing, but according to Maslow, until theses basic needs are met, it is difficult to focus on needs further up the hierarchy.

v.26 Yes, I think that to God I am more valuable than a bird, but as a teenager I also read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Quoting from THE SPARROW “Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly father’s knowledge; but the sparrow still falls.” (See Luke 10:29-30)

v. 27 Most Medical Doctors and Psychologists would probably argue that we actually subtract hours from our life by excessive worrying.

v. 28 But I and the people I am responsible for are not lilies.

v. 29 True, lilies in the field appear more glorious than Solomon or any fashion model, but Solomon could afford a great wardrobe and fashion models can afford Botox, cosmetic surgery, personal trainers, and to afford a wardrobe most of us could never hope to afford.

v. 30 I am glad St. Patrick’s Day is not too far away, because it sounds like I am going to be wearing green.

v. 33 If I strive first for the kingdom of God, can I still strive second for these other things?

v.34 Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread” and the story about daily manna can be instructive here. Frankly, today’s troubles are more than enough for today. I would like to put off some of them until tomorrow so that I do not have to worry about them until tomorrow.

I have specifically invited the congregation I serve at North Church Queens to read these ruminations before worship, as they may form the bulk of my Sermon, entitled “Lectionary Ruminations”. I will copy these ruminations and distribute them to worshipers before worship.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Snowy Presidents Day

Presdients Day morning snow
in Ridgewood, Queens, NYC
A few days after most of the “Day after Christmas Storm” and snow falls following had melted, thanks to a recent high in Central Park of 67, New Yorkers awoke to yet another snow this Presidents Day morning. As I walked Myrrhlyn around the block around 7:30 am, there were sidewalks that were hardly any snow had accumulated and sidewalks where an inch or more had already piled up and made walking treacherous. Up to two inches, or more, had already accumulated on tops of cars and anything else elevated above the warm ground, like the tables and plastic chairs in our back yard.

Here is the NY1 Weather Update posted on twitter about 6:00 AM this morning, just an hour and half before our morning walk.
“Snow ends around noon time. 2 to 4" expected. High: 38. Tonight:Snow showers/22.Tue: Windy/Partly cloudy.31. Wed: Dry/40”
While NY1 predicted 2-4 inches, other forecasters have predicted 3-5 inches, with perhaps more accumulations to the north and west of the City. Eventually, the snow, which is still falling at 8:30 am, is to change over to a wintery mix by later this afternoon.

Could Punutawney Phil have been wrong? Maybe Spring was just not as near as we expected, and hoped.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 20, 2011, the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) Lectionary Ruminations is also cross posted on the Presbyterian Bloggers blog.

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
v. 2 Why should the people of Israel (and us by extension) be holy?

vs. 9-10 What do you know about gleaning? In addition to this being a form of social welfare, it probably also is good ecology.

vs. 11-12 So, contrary to last week’s Gospel Reading, it is ok to swear by the name of God as long as one swears truthfully?

v. 13 Let’s put these word on display on Wall Street and in the lobby of America’s mortgage lenders.

v. 14 Praise God for the ADA. I sometimes wonder what was going through the minds of people who designed and built church buildings before ADA. I fear we are now paying the price for their lackof awareness and foresight.

v. 15 As the economic disparity in America approaches levels that have not been seen since just before the Great Depression, this verse becomes ever more poignant.

v. 16 Good for kin and neighbor, but what about the stranger?

v. 18 The first part of his verse points toward the Gospel reading. The second part of this verse informs Jesus’ answer to the questions “Which is the greatest commandment?”

vs. 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17 Is the repetition of “I am the LORD” merely a literary device or does it suggest that these verse may have been used liturgically in a responsive fashion? Might the repetition of “I am the LORD” also serve a theological function?

Psalm 119:33-40
Do not forget that this is the second week in a row the Psalm has been an excerpt from Psalm 119, an acrostic.
v. 33 How does the LORD teach? Note that “way” is singular.

v. 34 Does understanding precede the keep of God’s law?

v. 35 Note that “path”, as “”way” in verse 33, is singular.

vs. 36-37 What is God’s responsibility and what is our responsibility for turning the heart?

v. 38 What is the “promise”? What does it mean to “fear”God?

v. 39 What disgrace does the Psalmist dread?

v. 40 Hey, God. Look at me. Look at me? I might not have kept all your decrees, but I wanted to. Give me life just for trying.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
v. 10 If Paul laid the foundation, who is now building on that foundation? How many ways are there to build on an already established foundation?

v. 16 What is the foundation of “God’s Temple”?

v. 17 Is Paul talking about self-destruction, or destroying the temple of another?

v. 18 Paul again writes about being “wise” and becoming “fools”. But become fools in order to become wise? What is Paul doing with these word games and twists of logic?

v. 19 And where is this so written? Perhaps Job 5:13? If so, I find it ironic that Job is traditionally classified as “Wisdom Literature”.

v. 20 Again, perhaps Psalm 94:11?

v. 21 All things are yours? What is Paul talking about?

v. 22 So, in the end, all things are God’s?

Matthew 5:38-48
v. 38 And how many times have we not only heard this said, but cited out of context?

v. 39 It sounds as though Jesus is asserting his own authority over the law. What do you know about “turning cheeks”?

v. 40 Did Jesus live in a litigious society?

v. 41 Why would someone force you to go a mile?

v. 42 Give? How much? Loan? With our without interest?

v. 43 I have not heard this one very often, if at all.

v. 44 I actually find it easier to pray for those who persecute me than to love my enemies.

v. 45 True.

v. 46 Does Jesus mean to suggest that the only reason to love is to be rewarded?

v. 48 Is human perfection really a reachable goal?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Prayer for Scientists and People of Faith on the occasion of Evolution Weekend

This is Evolution Weekend. I searched the internet, hoping I would find a suitable prayer for scientists and people of faith to use in Worship on Sunday, but did not find anything I found acceptable. Here is what I ended up writing, borrowing a key phrase from The Clergy Letter Project Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science.
God of mystery,
you have given us hearts to be warmed by your Spirit
and minds to be enlightened by your knowledge.
May all people of faith come to believe
that the timeless truths of the Bible
and the discoveries of modern science
may comfortably coexist.
And may scientists of all scientific disciplines,
learn that not all people of faith are luddites, creationists, or believe in a flat earth,
but warmly embrace foundational scientific truths
as complimentary of, rather than obstacles to, their faith.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 13, 2011, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) Lectionary Ruminations is also cross posted on Presbyterian Bloggers.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
v. 15 Life is paired with prosperity. Death is paired with adversity. How much is this a linguistic construction and how much is it a theological construction?

v. 16 Is this, by any chance, one of the longer passages in the Hebrew Scriptures? Are commandments, decrees, and ordinances synonyms used for emphasis or does each term refer to something different?

v. 17 Is the “not hearing” an allusion to the Deuteronomy 6:4?

v. 18 I find it interesting that while death will come quickly, the people will still enter and possess the land.

v. 19 Who can dispute with witnesses like heaven and earth? In verse 15, the pairing was life/prosperity and death/adversity. Now it is life/blessings and death curses. In verse 15 the scheme was A and A’, B and B’. Here, it is A and B, A’ and B’.

v. 20 Can we remain faithful to the text while adding Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, Bilhah, and Rachel?

Psalm 119:1-8
v.1 The First Reading establishes the choice. The Psalm outlines the rewards or affects of the better choice.

vs 1-8 Note the synonyms: (1) law, (2) decrees, (3) ways, (4) precepts, (5) statutes, (6) commandments, (7) ordinances, and (8) statutes (again). What can teachers and preachers learn from the Psalmist’s literary creativity in addition to the Psalmist’s theology? And I have not even mentioned that this Psalm is an alphabetical acrostic. Ah, but can dudes even feign great hyperbole? I judge keeping lovely muses nasty. Oh, please, quit reading sarcastic tomes. Unveil virtuous workers. Xanex yields zero.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
v. 1 Picking up where we left off last week . . . are you a spiritual person or are you an infant in Christ? What about most of the people in the Christian community in which you find yourself?

v. 2 As a preacher or teacher, do you serve milk, a Gerber’s Gospel, or a meat and potatoes Gospel?

v. 3 How much jealousy and quarreling exist in your congregation?

v. 4 To whom do you belong? Who are the Paul and the Apollos in the communities we know?

v. 5 Not that Paul, in this verse, sets himself on equal footing with Apollos.

v. 6 Are you a planter or a waterer?

vs. 6-7 God may give the growth, but who is the reaper?

v. 8 What wages are appropriate?

v. 9 Note the “we/you” language. Where do you fall in this dichotomy?

Matthew 5:21-37
v. 21 “It was said to those of ancient times” sounds like something in the past that has no or little influence in the present.

v. 22 Judgment, the council, the hell of fire. This sounds like increasing levels of punishment.

vs. 23-26 I think I might skip over these verses during the stewardship drive.

v. 27 This is beginning to sound formulaic (see v. 21).

n. 28 No comment. Instead, I refer you to former President Jimmy Carter.

v. 29-30 If we do not take this literally, then what is the meaning of the figurative language?

v. 31-32 Note the slight change in the formulaic introduction. Why do conservatives, evangelicals, and literalists tend to overlook this passage when it comes to G-6.0106b?

v. 33 More formulaic introduction.

vs. 34-37 How do we interpret this verse when we are required to take a civil oath, as in an oath of office or court of law.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Momentous Day I was Proud to be a New York Presbyterian

It is not every day that Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  Ministers and Elders get to vote of amending our church’s confessional documents. In fact, the opportunity has presented itself only three times in the past twenty-eight years. In 1991 we added A Brief Statement of Faith—Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to our Book of Confessions.  In 1999 we amended the language of the Nicene Creed to reflect a growing ecumenical consensus concerning its liturgical use.

Ministers and Elders of the PC(USA) are now considering whether or not to amend the Book of Confessions by adding the Confession of Belhar.  To do so would require that two thirds of the presbyteries concur with the amendment. So far, the voting is close, hovering around that two-thirds mark.

The Confession of Belhar was born in 1982 in the midst of apartheid. The confession, named after a suburb of Cape Town, was not so much the Dutch Reformed Mission Church’s response to apartheid but to the heretical theology that buttressed it.

The confessional bravery and theological astuteness of those who drafted and adopted the Belhar Confession, and the confession itself, have both challenged and encouraged Christians around the world. If the PC(USA) adopts this confession, it would be the first, and the only one out of eleven other confessional statements in the Book of Confessions, from the Southern Hemisphere.

I think the PC(USA) should adopt it. With our nation’s history of slavery and Jim Crow, and the Presbyterian history of splitting along Union and Confederate lines at the time of the Civil War, the Confession of Belhar forces us to confront our past. With our nation’s current debate around issues of race, including issues of immigration, and the appearance that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America, the Confession of Belhar ca help us examine present practices and behavior.

New York City Presbytery, of which I am a Minister member, considered and voted on adding the Confession of Belhar to the Book of Confessions at its most recent meeting, held January 25, 2011. I experienced a heightened sense of the historic importance of what we were doing as we debated the issue. The hairs on the back of my neck were about to rise as the momentous nature of the vote sunk into my consciousness.

The vote was not at all close. The “yeas” were 96. The “nays” were 0, zip, nada. The Presbytery of New York City had voted unanimously to concur with adding the Confession of Belhar to the Book of Confessions! The sanctuary where we were meeting erupted with applause as the result of the vote was announced.

I am not always proud of what we New York City Presbyterians do and do not do in our presbytery meetings, but on this occasion, I was most proud of my colleagues in Ministry. I hope that by the time all the presbyteries vote, I will be as proud to be a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as I was proud to be a member of New York City Presbytery on January 25, 2011.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Going Coastal New York City

Coverof the Second Edition
For me, one of the highlights of the 2011 New York Boat Show was meeting Barbara La Rocco, president and founder of Going Coastal, Inc. and author of Going Coastal New York City, the definitive Urban Waterfront Guide for the Big Apple.

When my wife and I moved to new York City three and a half years ago, one of the first local guide books my wife purchased was the first edition of Going Coastal New York City. The only problem with the guide was that, at the time, we did not know enough about our local ecological and political geography to take full advantage of it. We were still learning our way around our immediate neighborhood and how to negotiate the subway system. We had yet to broaden our excursions or explore the larger area, including the coast.

Three and a half years later, including kayaking and sailing on the Hudson and Jamaica Bay as well as kayaking on the East River, we have started to learn our way around the Big Apple. We know, however, that there is a lot more to learn about and explore. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that we had a copy of the First Edition of Going Coastal New York City in our library because it would have been a good resource to help us expand our exploration and learning.
I forget what drew my interest to the Going Coastal booth at the 2011 New York Show, but something about the booth compelled me to take a closer look and strike up a conversation with the person in the booth. That person was Barbara La Rocco. As we talked, I learned that we know many of the same people, especially those associated with the Sebago Canoe Club, of which my wife and I are members. Barbara and I talked about kayaking, sailing, and pump out stations. I also asked her that if I bought a copy of the Second Edition of her book (not realizing that we already had a copy of the First Edition) if she would sign it. She said yes. I did and she did.

Barbara and me
at the 2011 New York Boat Show
I started browsing through this little 281-page guide while riding the subway on the way home and was impressed by its content. I learned that the “Paerdegat” in Paerdegat Basin, where my wife and I usually launch our kayaks, means “horse gate” in Dutch. We have been paddling in Paerdegat Basin for nearly three years and never knew the etymology of the name. Now we know. Thanks, Barb.
Now that I better know my way around New York City, including many of its waterways and coastal areas, I think Going Coastal New York City will be a more valuable guide, telling me things I did not know about places I have already been and directing me to new places to explore and enjoy.
After having purchased the Second Edition, and having discovered the First Edition in our library and comparing the two editions, I think the Second Edition is a vast improvement. The First Edition was printed in only black and white. The second edition is printed in black, blue and white, blue being used primarily to designate water areas on the numerous maps. As a result of the introduction of blue ink and a different font, I find Second Edition more eye appealing and inviting.
The Second Edition of Going Coastal New York City is an invaluable resource for any New Yorker, new or longtime resident, wanting to learn more about the sixth borough, the water around New York. I highly recommend it. With six years between editions, the Second Edition contains enough updated material to justify its purchase even if you already own the First Edition.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 6, 2011, the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
v. 1 Last week, we shouted out to the mountains. This week we are shouting out to people. This is not the sort of shout out people want to hear, however.

v. 2 I think the two most important words in this verse are “as if”. I think I detect some sarcasm on God’s part. What place might sarcasm have in teaching and preaching?

v. 3 Note a shift in perspective, and then a shift back again. How much do we serve our own interests rather than God’s interests on our Sabbath (Saturday or Sunday)?

v. 4 I can think of a few churches this verse would fit.

vs. 5-7 I am hearing echoes of last week’s “what does the Lord require?”

v. 8 What is a “rear guard”?

v. 9 Preconditions for the LORD hearing our prayer? What is “the pointing of the finger”?

vs. 10-11 These verses read likme a restatement of verses 5-8.

v. 12 How might this promise of restoration serve as a vision of church renewal, revitalization and transformation?

Psalm 112:1-9 (10)
v. 1 This verse reads like the antithesis of the Isaiah Reading.

v 2. the reward goes to the next generation.

v. 3 Can we read in this verse the seeds of a health and wealth gospel?

v. 4 I want to correlate the light of this verse with Isaiah 58:8 and 10

v. 5 I assume the lending in this verse is a lending without interest.

vs. 6-8 How many such righteous people do you know?

v. 9 Based on this verse, this Psalm, and the First reading, how might we define “righteousness”?

v. 10 If this were only true in this life.

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
v. 1 As an amateur philosopher who used to teach Introduction to Philosophy at the undergraduate level, I am getting tired of Paul bad mouthing “lofty words” and “wisdom”. On the other hand, I like that he employs “the mystery of God”. I think we need more mystery in our churches and in our lives. What do you think?

v. 3 What weakness, fear and trembling does Paul refer to?

v. 4 Can a person not teach or preach with plausible words of wisdom as well as a demonstration of Spirit and power?

v. 5 What about Anselm’s “faith seeking understanding”? Can our faith not rest on both human wisdom AND on the power of God?

v. 6-7 Now Paul changes his tune! If I did not know better, I might think he is referring to esoteric and perhaps even Gnostic teachings. I think I smell the beginnings of a conspiracy theory novel here: secret and hidden teachings of Paul recently discovered and revealed! Dan Brown, are you reading this?

v. 8 Absolutely. When was the last time any ruler of any age got it right? They Crucified Jesus. They condemned Socrates.

v. 9 And what is Paul quoting? Isaiah 64:4 perhaps? Do you think Paul was quoting from memory, or from a text before his eyes?

v. 10 Does God reveal through the Spirit today or did all revelation cease with the end of the New Testament era?

v. 11 Paul is starting to sound like a psychologist.

v. 12 Shall we compare and contrast the spirit of the world and the Spirit that is from God? It might not preach, but it might serve as a good Ph.D. thesis. What gifts does God bestow?

v. 13 This sounds like a little Orwellian doublespeak, sort of hard to defend against let alone interpret. Or maybe Paul is just being “spiritual” but not religious.

v. 14 Now here is a topic for a Sunday School Lesson, Discussion, or Sermon: “Spiritual Discernment”.

v. 15 I have spiritually discerned everything I write here, therefore I am not subject to your’s or anyone else’s scrutiny!

v. 16 Who has known the mind of the Lord? Christ, maybe? Since we have the mind of Christ, we know the mind of God. Stay tuned. Next week I will tell you what God has in mind!

Matthew 5:13-20
vs. 13-16 Have we heard these verse so many times, together and in tandem, that we cannot hear afresh? What more can be said about salt and light? Do these first century metaphors still speak to us today or do we to translate them into new metaphors?

v. 17-20 The usual formula is “the Law, the Prophets and the Writings”. What are the Writings not mentioned here? What does this and the following verses have to do with the verses that preceded it. Do you sense there is no thematic unity? What “law” or “commandments” might Jesus have had in mind? Only the Torah? All the Levitical laws?

v. 20 Do you think Jesus (and/or the early church) though the scribes and Pharisees were a little lacking when it came to righteousness. Speaking of righteousness, you might want to revisit the First Reading and the Psalm and bring them into conversation with Matthew 5:17-20.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New York City Ice Storm

Ice Covered Tree in Ridgewood
Tuesday night
"Notification issued 2/2/11 at 4:20 AM. The National Weather Service has issued an Ice Storm Warning for New York City until 9:00 AM this morning. Freezing rain mixed with sleet will continue through mid-morning bringing a total of 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of ice accumulations. Exercise extreme caution when traveling."
I did not need this Notify NYC email this morning to tell me that it was nasty out there. Last night, while walking the dog, we were both slip sliding along as we made our way around the block. At least once, I had a firm footing but Myrrhlyn, did not, and looked like Astro on his treadmill, moving his legs but not going anywhere as his paws slid across the ice. Another time Myrrhlyn had the secure footing (or pawing) while I was on an icy patch. He simply pulled me along as I slid across the ice.
Ice covered branch in Ridgewood
Wednesday morning
The trees along our walk last night, encrusted with a film of ice and silhouetted by streetlights behind them, took on an eerie translucent glow, reminding me of the “Crystalline Entity” from a Star Trek Next Generation episode.
This morning the ice was a little thicker, but also more brittle and granular. Sometimes I broke through it to the sidewalk below. The mounds of snow, left over from three previous storms, were a different story. Myrrhlyn loves to climb on these snow mounds. Whereas his paws used to break through, the mounds sometimes engulfing him to near chest level, this morning he was able to walk on top of them, the thin layer or ice and crust supporting his sixty pounds.

I have experienced far worse ice storms while I was living in the Appalachian Mountains, but we usually received one or two a year and were used to coping with them. This is my third winter in New York City but my first Big Apple Ice Storm. New Yorkers seem to be coping well, as we do with most things.  On the other hand, on this Gound Hog's day, I am ready for Spring.

About the February 2011 Header Photo

I am suffering from Alpine Withdraw, not having been to the mountains, let alone a summit, for far too long. That means my catalog of digital summit photos has all but been exhausted. Therefore, this month’s header photo features a fake summit but a summit never the less.
Soon after moving into our present home, I purchased and bolted to the wall above the door in my office/study a Metolius Training Board. Let me explain Training Boards for my non-climbing readers.
Training Boards are a passive exercises/training device climbers use to build arm, hand, wrist and finger strength. Constructed out of rosin that simulates the feel of rock, Training Boards are an excellent way to get and stay pumped at home with only ten minutes of exercise a day. A training Board is the next best thing to a simulated rock wall.
Since I did not want to be staring at a blank wall while I hung and pulled on my training board, I mounted a poster size image of a mountain in an alpine setting on the wall behind the Training Board. Although they do not appear in this cropped photo, draped across the top of the poster is a short strip of Tibetan Prayer Flags.
The Metolius Training Board above my door is my summit away from the summit, a reminder of past adventures and a call to future ones.