Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pinnacle Peak and Pulpit Rock

Today we had a beautiful hike on Pulpit Rock to Pinnacle Peak. We were treated to stunning vistas of Pennsylvania at its finest: rolling hills, woodlands, fields, and small family farms. Wildlife sightings included a black snake sunning itself on a rock, and a few members of our group saw a rattlesnake. Thankfully, he scurried out of sight under a rock, but we were certain to step carefully after that! The day was just perfect, mid eighties and sunny with a slight breeze.

Stopping for a break

Happy hikers

A gorgeous view

Pennsylvania's small family farms


Monday, May 25, 2009

Hawk Mountain and Kittatinny Ridge

Today we hiked the River of Rocks trail, Golden Eagle trail, and Skyline trail along the Kittatinny Ridge at Hawk Mountain. The Spring hawk migration season is over, but we were treated to a view of a brilliantly colored Scarlet Tanager in the woods.

Close up view of the River of Rocks.

It's good to be back hiking in the woods again!

Along the Kittatinny Ridge. This trail involved a lot of boulder scrambling and rock climbing.

Looking down on the River of Rocks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Picnics

Today I went to an extra special Memorial Day picnic because we were celebrating Christina from Colombia becoming an American citizen.

Christina and her daughter

A special celebration calls for a speech, a cake, and, of course, a patriotic hat!

The gang's all here!

The next picnic was a birthday celebration with lots of music and dancing.

Tito mans the grill.

Jamie joins the action.

Everybody loves a puppy!

Dancing Spanish style.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Moravian Greyhounds Cheer For Iron Pigs

Tonight was Moravian College alumni night at the Iron Pigs game. I had a great time seeing old friends and new.

Phillie Phanatic struts his stuff.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baseball Season is Here!

Saturday was a hot sunny day, perfect for sitting on a blanket and watching the Iron Pigs play. We were surprised in the eighth inning, when suddenly the skies opened up and a heavy rain ended the game. We could literally see the torrents of rain move across the sky towards us! Luckily, I am waterproof, so all ended well.

Sunday was much cooler, perfect for gardening and a long walk along the Ironton Rail trail.

I also watched President Barack Obama's speech via live telecast at the Notre Dame Commencement. Some highlights:

Your generation must decide how to save God's creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it. Your generation must seek peace at a time when there are those who will stop at nothing to do us harm, and when weapons in the hands of a few can destroy the many. And we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief.

In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family...

For the major threats we face in the 21st century -- whether it's global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease -- these things do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups.
Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and greater understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history...

For if there is one law that we can be most certain of, it is the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together. It's no coincidence that it exists in Christianity and Judaism; in Islam and Hinduism; in Buddhism and humanism. It is, of course, the Golden Rule -- the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. The call to serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth.

Golden Dome of Notre Dame

This just in! You can watch the Commencement address yourself here. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gardening Weekend: Plant a Row for the Hungry

This weekend was a beautiful time to start the vegetable garden. I planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, and basil.

One of my favorite bloggers, Los Angelista, wrote about Feeding America and Plant a Row for the Hungry (her post here). To encourage her readers, she had a contest for a Gro Good kit from Scotts, and I was lucky enough to win it (her announcement here)!

The idea behind Plant A Row is to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate the surplus to a local food agency or soup kitchen. If every gardener took this extra step to help our neighbors, we could make a significant impact and help reduce hunger. I was surprised to learn on the Feeding America website that one in eight Americans face the threat of hunger. Check out their website for plenty of information on food insecurity and poverty in America and how we can help in our own local neighborhood.

This weekend was warm and sunny on Saturday, and bright and breezy on Sunday. I enjoyed the movie The Soloist on Saturday after a day of gardening. It had a wonderful message about the power of relationships to transform us, and although they may not always bring us complete healing, they bring us to a new level of understanding and growth.

I also had a wonderful Mother's Day on Sunday with my family, and then in the late afternoon a walk around the neighborhood to see the colorful Spring blossoms.

It looks small now, but with some sunshine and loving care and a bit of good luck, I'll have an overflowing garden in Summer.

Trellis full of white blossoms

My azaleas always burst forth in brilliant pink by Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Interfaith Coalition of Allentown Day Of Community Service

Today the Interfaith Coalition of Allentown sponsored a day of Community Service. We had at least 26 congregations and groups participate in service projects throughout the city. Faith groups organized events and also participated in each other's projects, so people from different communities worked side by side helping each other. We served our community by helping at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and senior citizen homes. We cleaned up play areas, helped chronically ill children, donated blood, and collected books, clothes, and food.

Al-Ahad Islamic Center created toy boxes for chronically ill children; youth from Keneseth Israel and Al-Ahad and the Baha'i Community of the Lehigh Valley baked brownies for the soup kitchen and created posters for our evening dinner; Life Church cleaned up Camp Olympic, gardened at the Sixth Street Shelter, and cleaned the Spanish Council building; Christ Lutheran improved a child play area and also created necklaces to sell to benefit Allentown Ecumenical Food Bank; Temple Beth El painted the Lehigh County Senior Center; the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley had a blood drive; and Hope United Church of Christ and Faith Lutheran Youth group painted the Sixth Street Shelter.

We also had several collection drives: Episcopal Church of the Mediator collected materials for homeless support services; Congregation Sons of Israel had a food donation drive; Third Day Worship and Congregation Keneseth Israel had a book drive; Solomon's United Church of Christ collected toys for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation; Zieglers Lutheran Social Services had a baby drive; Saint Joseph's Lutheran Church collected used clothing for the Sixth Street Shelter; Saint Paul's Lutheran collected money for the soup kitchen; Life Church collected donations for Turning Point and also Life Academy; and the Hindu Youth Association collected clothing for Via of the Lehigh Valley.

Keneseth Israel, Al-Ahad, and Baha'i Community youth worked together to bake eight pans of brownies for Daybreak and also the local soup kitchen. We also created posters to be displayed at our Interfaith potluck dinner in the evening. Before we got to work, we discussed why all these groups were coming together today. We talked about Faith in action and the importance of service to the community. We read writings from Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Baha'i, Hindu, and Buddhist sources on befriending strangers, helping members of the human family, being generous to neighbors, guarding the poor, feeding the hungry, and cherishing all living beings. We discussed the importance of service in all religious traditions. Some of the youth incorporated these quotes into their posters. Some youth drew pictures of the planet Earth, people working side by side, and religious symbols from different traditions. We saw a lot of creativity today!

We wrapped up the evening with an Interfaith potluck including an address by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski who talked about how wonderful it was to have the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha'i, and Hindu communities of Allentown all work together to help our city. He hoped to see this continue for years into the future. Rabbi Rob of Keneseth Israel gave a us a tour of the beautiful synagogue and explained many of the symbols and history to us. Then we sat down to break bread and share refreshment with our new found friends from the diverse community of Allentown.

Mixing brownies and making new friends

Working together on a poster

Checking the ingredient list...

Second group makes more brownies

Making sure the batter is just right

Posters on Unity, Peace, Love

David shows his poster with symbols from many religions

Some of the youth

Rabbi Rob showed us beautiful Congregation Keneseth Israel

The Torah scrolls. The scroll in the center was salvaged from the Holocaust. It is cherished and protected by Congregation Keneseth Israel.

A blessing over the entrance

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