December 31, 2011

Fresh for '12

Well, I've been home from work since Thursday and I don't have to return until January 3rd. So far, I spent the last two days taking down all of the Christmas decorations and giving the house a good cleaning and vacuuming. I always like to start off the new year with a refreshed environment in the house. I own a lot of artwork from all around the world and this gives me the chance to rearrange everything and get rid of the clutter. It feels wonderful.

When it's all clean like this, I love to simply sit in my living room to read or listen to music. I took a few photographs so you can get an idea of how it looks, though a picture can't capture the entire story. You'll just have to imagine the warming glow of flickering candlelight, the sweetness of vanilla-scented incense wafting through the air, the beautiful sounds of a guitarist and orchestra on the CD player performing Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez." It's a milieu that exudes good vibrations and makes me feel very serene and happy. Fresh for 2012. Now, I'm ready for tonight when I do my annual struggle to stay up until midnight when the crystal ball comes down in Times Square. Happy New Year's Eve! Love & light...

"By wisdom a house is built, 
and through understanding it is established;
 through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures."

~Proverbs 24:3-4


December 27, 2011

Southern Dreams for Next Year

Whew! I can honestly say that 2011 has been one incredible year and the joy of this Christmas season really finished it off on a beautiful note. I'm feeling very peaceful at the writing of this and looking forward to hanging a brand new calendar on the wall. Everything is good.

This week between Christmas and New Year's Day is usually the time when I start to think about what kinds of things I would like to see and do in the coming year. I only have one resolution for 2012 and that is to get the Avant Garden Poetry Amphitheatre up and running. Things are going smoothly and my plans for a spring launch seem to be coming together. This is also the time when I start thinking about travels. Last year at about this time, I put up a post called "Northern Dreams for Next Year" that talked about my proposed trip to Vermont, Montreal, and Lake George; a trip that I would end up dubbing "Due North: Road Trip 2011." As I start dreaming about an adventure for next summer, the words "Due South: Road Trip 2012" are coming to mind. I'm thinking about a road trip that would begin with two days in the colonial atmosphere of Williamsburg, VA; continue down the coast for a night in the southern hospitality of Savannah, GA. At its southernmost point, this journey would stop off in Orlando for seven days of Disney magic. Then, on the way back up the coast, I would check out the powdery sands of Myrtle Beach before making a return to Washington D.C. I'm thinking that the whole vacation would last for about two weeks. It's just an early idea at this point, but I kind of like it. Enjoy the rest of 2011. Cheers!

"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you."

~Psalm 33:22


December 25, 2011

Welcome, Christmas Day!

 On this day, please take
a few moments to remember
the reason why we celebrate this season,
the birth of Jesus Christ!

Wishing you peace, joy, warmth,
happiness, light, hope,
and love.

May God's blessings
always stay
with you.

Merry Christmas!
Jay Jii


Here are a few
of my favorite greeting cards
from this season:

Jesus answered,
"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

~John 14:6


December 23, 2011

TSO Winter Tour 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011: This is the seventh December in a row that I've gone to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I can remember many a cold walk through the parking lot to the Nassau Coliseum gates for their concerts, though this year it was a rather balmy and somewhat drizzly evening. Also different this time was an added second performance, 4PM and the usual 8PM. While the the thought of the early show did have some appeal, I opted to stick with the latter. I know from plenty of experience that a TSO concert is an epic 3-hour affair, so I wasn't at all surprised when I pulled into the parking lot at 7:00 and had to wait on a line outside while the clean up crew got the venue ready for the next performance. At that point, I was glad for balmy weather. When we were finally let in, I stepped into the arena to find it still filled with smoke from the pyrotechnics of the earlier show. I knew that I was about to witness another spectacle.

Before the show officially began, a few members of the band came out on to the stage to donate a check to local charities. TSO always gives one dollar from each ticket sold to the causes. Next, the audience got to be part of a pleasant moment when one of the stage hands called his girlfriend up from the crowd, got on one knee, and proposed to her. The ovation was massive! :)

Soon, the show began. Amazing vocalists. Tight and powerful instrumentals. Tremendous stage show and lighting. A few surprises, such as the inclusion of a rocked-out version of the "Linus & Lucy Theme" from the Peanuts. Year after year, this performance gets better and better. Last December, when I wrote about Winter Tour 2010, I highly recommended going to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert and I'm sticking to those words. This show really fills my heart with Christmas spirit. It is an absolute phenomena!

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid."

~John 14:27


December 20, 2011

Three Nights of Jollification

On Friday night, I went out to the Conklin Barn for a poetic winter celebration. After a few announcements were made, the fun kicked off with the poets splitting up into five groups (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Center). Each group was given a few minutes to write a series of couplets that would capture the essence of their season. I ended up in the Spring group. If I remember correctly, we came up with something close to this:

New thoughts for the coming dawn
Crocuses break though ground in thaw

Robins sing on blossoming limbs
To fill the day with sacred hymns

Kingdom of a pastel morn
Our souls, our hearts, our lives reborn


Next, the lights were dimmed and the hostess of the evening took us on a journey in our imaginations through a path in the woods to a cottage. Inside the cottage, we sat beside a fireplace where we were to encounter a guiding creature that would give us a message. After the lights were turned back on, we went around the room with each person sharing what he or she had experienced. The creature that I met was a purple giraffe with eagle wings and an ethereal aura; his message to me was "Be creative and always dare to dream."

Each poet was then asked to place a poem on the floor in the center of the room and take out a different one. Once again, we went around the room reading each others works. It was very cool. After the event was over, several of the poets broke into some Christmas carols in the parking lot. We actually sounded really good. :)

On Saturday night, I went out to a work Christmas party at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook. It's a ritzy restaurant that features a buffet line of some delicious foods--baked ziti, tomato/mozzerella salad, paella, a carving platter for roast turkey and ham, etc. After a wonderful meal and some stimulating conversation, the evening turned into about 4 hours of nonstop dancing and singing along with every song. Disco. Oldies. Latin. Pop. Hip Hop. There was a little bit of everything and it was a complete blast!

I left the Three Village Inn a little after 11:00PM, but the night wasn't quite over yet. I stopped off at another Christmas party that I had been invited to at Napper Tandy's Irish Pub in Northport. More music. More dancing. More singing. By the time I finally got home at about 1:30AM, my ears were ringing, my knees were aching, my voice was gravel, and I couldn't stop smiling. What a great, festive night!

On Sunday, I went out to my 4th holiday celebration in three nights. This time, it was the annual Pomes Christmas Caroling Party. Donning Santa hats and mittens and armed with acoustic guitars, sleigh bells, and flashlights, we strolled the streets of the neighborhood filling the evening air with song. After singing "O Holy Night" for one neighbor, she tearfully replied, "That is my favorite Christmas song. I lost a dear friend today and this is the best gift I could have gotten!" Such is the heartwarming magic of the Christmas season.

Back in the warmth of the house, the party continued with an amazing spread of food and more songs at the piano. Christmas Caroling seems to have become somewhat of a lost tradition, though I am so glad that I get the chance to do it every year. This party has become an important part of my holiday season and it is always very joyous! Cheers!!!

"That my glory may sing your praise
and not be silent. O Lord my God,
I will give thanks to you forever!"

~Psalm 30:12