December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May you approach
this new year
with optimism and enthusiasm!
Wishing you bright and beautiful blessings,
much happiness,
positivity and grace!

Happy New Year!

Love & light.
Jay Jii


December 30, 2010

Northern Dreams for Next Year

My week off from work so far has been mostly about cleaning the house. The blizzard we had on the 26th has kept me indoors and I thought it the perfect way to use the time wisely. I've been slowly taking down the Christmas decorations and cleaning each room thoroughly. I've gotten rid of a lot of clutter and it feels great. I'll take down the Christmas tree tomorrow and then the house will be completely fresh. Good way to start 2011...

So, do you make New Years resolutions? I sort of do. I approach them like a wish list of things that I would like to accomplish within the year. Mine are never of the "Lose weight" or "Save money" type; they're usually the "Learn another language" or "Try scuba diving" sort. I also start mapping out my summer travel plans at this time of year. I'm looking into a June road trip that will take me to Vermont and then up to Montreal. I picture a few days in Vermont at a cozy log cabin on a secluded lake; rising to the sounds of nature just beyond the door; taking early hikes, stopping to spot bird nests on the boughs of high trees or look for tracks made by scurrying woodland creatures; paddling a canoe into the middle of the lake and having a private lunch while trout breach the water's surface all around leaving tiny ripples; sitting in the dewy grass beneath the evening stars breathing in the cool maple air. Then it would be north to explore Old Montreal, witness its vast Underground City, and experience all of the joie de vivre that this Quebec wonder has to offer. Ah yes! :)

Anyway, I had a wonderful Christmas. My favorite gift that I got this year is the Amazon Kindle. What a cool gadget! It will probably make books obsolete some day, but that is a good thing. No paper. No trees chopped down. I know that some people like to write in the margins of books and are against the whole idea of eReaders; however, the Kindle does allow one to do that digitally. I remember when the iPod first came out. I didn't think it could ever replace CDs, but now I don't know how I ever existed without my entire music catalog hanging from my belt at all times. I only buy CDs now for the purpose of ripping them into mp3s. Soon, I'll have my complete private library on a thin tablet in my backpack. That's technology...

My New Year's Eve will be kinda mellow. I have plans to go see Lazer Zeppelin at the Planetarium. Then, I'll do my annual struggle to stay up until the crystal ball drops in Times Square. 2011. Yee-ha. Cheers!!!

"Like newborn infants,
long for the spiritual milk,
that by it you may grow up
into salvation."

~1 Peter 2:2


December 25, 2010

Many Christmas Blessings to You!

May this Christmas Day
bring you hope & happiness,
solace & serenity,

Wishing you 
a world
of joy.

God bless you.
Merry Christmas!
Jay Jii

"And, lo,
the angel of the Lord
came upon them, and the glory of the Lord
shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying, Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men."

~Luke 2:9-14


December 24, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Every year, I start my Christmas shopping in October so that when December rolls around I am finished and can avoid the long lines at crowded shopping centers. The only place that I don't mind waiting in queue is at Fish Market on the morning of December 24th. It is kind of a tradition with me. Every Christmas Eve, I go to the market to get dinner. Stuffed flounder. Baked clams. Crab cakes. Seafood salad. Yum! The line always extends out of the door, but I don't mind it at all. It is such a merry atmosphere that I look forward to it every year.

Well, yesterday was my last day of work for 2010. We had our office party at Stony Brook. It was a fun day with lots of good food. I brought my guitar and we had a holiday sing-along. The highlight was when we did our own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with each person at the table contributing a different item. "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a brand new convertible GT." The song went on to include color TVs, carrot sticks, and bags of garbage. It was a blast. Now, I'm off for the next 11 days which means that I am officially home for the holidays! :)

I have a lot of cooking and gift-wrapping to do today. Tonight, after my fish dinner, I'll probably settle down with a mug of hot cocoa (250+ mini marshmallows) to watch "It's a Wonderful Life." Throughout the day, I'll check on Santa's progress HERE. At the typing of this, he's in New Zealand.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve! Here are pictures of a few of my favorite greeting cards that came in the mail this year. Enjoy.

"The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right."

~Psalm 84:11


December 21, 2010

"Candlelight Evening" at Old Bethpage

Happy Winter Solstice!

I'm very excited. At the writing of this, I have only two more workdays to go, then I will be off from both of my jobs until January 4th. This is going to be a great end of the year! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! :) :) :)

On Sunday night, I once again went over to Old Bethpage Village Restoration for their annual holiday tradition of a "Candlelight Evening." Before stepping into Christmas in an 1800s village, I took a few moments to browse around in the Visitor Center. They have several showcases set up to display vintage Christmas posters and decorations. I always love the artwork represented in old advertisements and I got a great kick out of seeing the old light strands. In another room, a series of electric trains was running on an elaborate maze of tracks.

With the full moon casting its silvery light through the bare trees, I walked out into the village. I could immediately hear the sound of fife and drums playing in the distance. All of the paths leading between the buildings were lit by torches and every window glowed with soft incandescence. It was a Hallmark setting to be sure!

Many of the activities revolved around music. As I stepped into the first house, I came across a group of 1800s characters singing carols accompanied by a harp. Along with the fife and drum players that strolled the dirt trails, a brass quartet stopped for a few moments by the tavern to burst into a refrain of "Angels from the Realms of Glory." There were fiddle songs in the one-room school house, choir voices filling the church, and parlor music in the Layton General Store. At the Noon Inn, I grabbed a cup of hot cider before being regaled  by a storyteller beside the bonfire in Village Square.

Then, it was over to Exhibition Hall for a holiday craft fair. Booths were set up selling a variety of things including jewelry, fudge, and handmade Christmas ornaments. In the center of it all, a peppermint-themed tree stood, reaching to the rafters with its frosty glow.

My last stop of the evening was in the auditorium to catch a Magic Lantern Show. I was impressed by the old projection equipment and original glass slides, all hand-painted works of art. This was a form of entertainment that preceded motion pictures. I could imagine groups of people in the 1800s gathering to watch as these colorful images were shown for the first time. It was quite fascinating.

"The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it."

~John 1:5


December 20, 2010

Let There Be Light!

One of my favorite things to do at this time of year is to simply drive through the neighborhoods to view all of the colorful lights that people put up. It makes me feel very warm inside when I turn on to a block that is well lit. I absolutely love it when I come across a house that has been decorated from top to bottom with holiday joy. What a great expression of Christmas Spirit!

In the town of Bayport at a place called Camp Edey, the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County have been hosting their Annual Lights Show for the last seven years. It is a drive-through display of beautifully sculpted Christmas lights. On both sides of the car, twinkling lights illuminate the woods with the theme changing every few yards. There are candy canes and gingerbread men, toy stores and tunnels, even the Empire State Building. To prepare for December, the Girl Scouts and volunteers begin setting up in October and use over ten miles of lights. Admission into the event is $12 per carload and the line to get in usually extends out of the camp and down the highway for miles. All of the proceeds from the show go to Girl Scout programs and outreach services.

At about this same time last year, I heard the announcement for Brookhaven Brite Nites on the radio. I was soon in my car with Handel's "Messiah" playing on the CD player and a few iced sugar cookies in a bag on the dashboard. It was a similar kind of display to the Girl Scouts' and I turned off my headlights to follow the winding road through the world of vivid lights. It had snowed the day before and the colors shimmered on the fresh blanket of white. It was enchanting; perfect for a crisp December evening. Hope you enjoy these photos. May the wonder of Christmas settle deep into your heart, filling you with its tidings of comfort and joy!

Let it glow. Let it glow. Let it glow...

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives."

~Psalm 37:23