November 29, 2011

Long Island Festival of Trees

On Sunday afternoon, I went out to an event called the Long Island Festival of Trees at the Cradle of Aviation: Air and Space Museum in Garden City, NY. I wasn't sure about what kinds of activities this festival would offer, but, upon pulling into the museum's parking lot, I saw a large group of people in ballet costumes checking in at a side entrance and I knew at the very least that it was well planned.

As I stepped into the building's lobby, I found row after row of designer Christmas trees donated by various organizations. Each of the trees was put up for auction with all proceeds going to the United Cerebral Palsy Association. I marveled long at the creativity and care that seemed to be put into every bough. The trees were done in different themes and I had several favorites such as the Empire State Building Tree, the Dragon Tree, Santa's Red Suit Tree, the Mardi Gras Tree, and the John Deere Tree (which appropriately included a snow blower in the auction). On the lobby's second and third levels, a holiday craft fair was set up with booths selling Christmas decorations, jewelry, toys, and confections. It was a fine place to take one's time and browse.

Toward the rear of the museum, an entire Gingerbread village lined a corridor that led to a back room where guests were able to partake in various crafts such as cookie-decorating and sand arts. Each gingerbread house was also elaborately decorated and made available for purchase to benefit the charity.

In the museum's cafeteria, a stage was constructed to host a daylong program of acts by various dance groups and choirs from Long Island. I really enjoyed the interesting harmonies of some of the traditional holiday songs that I heard being sung. A big salty pretzel and an iced tea completed the moment.

Along with the entrance fee into the Festival of Trees, I got free admission for the Air & Space Museum. I couldn't resist the opportunity to take another walk through the history of flight. It is always cool to see all of these old photographs and historical aircraft.

To finish up the day's activities, guests were invited to take a complimentary ride on Nunley's Carousel. As I went around in circles on my noble fiberglass steed, listening to its tinny carnival melodies, I felt utterly relaxed. It's Christmastime again and everything is alright...

Jesus turned, and seeing her he said,
“Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”
And instantly the woman was made well.

~Matthew 9:22


November 25, 2011

'Tis the Season to Be Jolly!

It's official. As soon as I saw Santa Claus come to town aboard his festive Macy's Parade float on Thursday morning, I knew that my favorite season of the year had finally arrived. I had a most wonderful Thanksgiving Day. From the turkey gravy to the chestnut stuffing to the candied yams to the sparkling apple cider, everything was perfect. I really got into the whole spirit of gratitude. I feel very thankful to God for making this life so good.

Well, today was Black Friday. I already finished all of my shopping and I'm glad that I won't have to be involved in any of the holiday rush. My Christmas season will be all about joy, goodwill, peace, and love; all about honoring the birth of Jesus and celebrating in all the ways that I enjoy; not one bit about anything commercial, exactly as it should be. So, with no reason to head out to any stores for door-buster sales, I spent this morning decking my halls. My heart always feels so warm when I'm taking the red and green storage boxes out of the garage. I have lots of ornaments for the Christmas tree, some of them very old. One of my favorites is the Hallmark Apollo Lunar Module. It plugs into a light strand and every time the tree gets lit, I can hear Astronaut Alan B. Shepard report from the moon to Mission Control, "We sure picked a clear day to arrive. There's not much of a haze in the air at all. Incredible. It's really a wild place up here."

To finish off my evening, I went to the Second Annual Huntington Harbor Parade of Lights. I had also gone to this event last year and it was cool to see how much it grew. Lots more spectators. Lots more boats. I had a slight mishap when I lost my footing on a slippery boat launching ramp and I ended up sliding through a pool of fishy slime. Even though I was wet and pretty foul smelling, I still enjoyed the whole atmosphere. The boats looked great and the crowd burst into a chorus of Jingle Bells at one point. So much fun!

"I know that there is nothing better for people
than to be happy and to do good while they live.
That each of them may eat and drink,
and find satisfaction in all their toil—
this is the gift of God."

~Ecclesiastes 3:12-13


November 22, 2011

Native American Thanksgiving Feast

On Sunday, I headed out to Garvies Point Museum & Preserve in Glen Cove for their Annual Native American Thanksgiving Feast. It was a crisp, yet sunny day; absolutely perfect for just such an event.

The festivities began on the museum's lower level with a pottery making exhibition. Docents explained how the local natives would grind the clay into a powder with stones, sift out the bits of rock and shell with baskets, add water, and knead it into a smooth consistency for molding. After a pot was sculpted, it would be dried in the sun and then baked in a bark fire until hardened.  

After the explanations were over, each guest was given a ball of clay to form into a native finger pot. I was shown how to create the initial bowl shape, add height with clay coils, and embellish the design using the imprints of pine cones and shells. It was very inspiring to know that I was partaking in an art form in the exact same manner as it was done hundreds of years ago.

After rinsing my hands of the sticky clay, I headed upstairs to the museum's main exhibit hall. Here, I found many displays of artifacts, including tools, clothing, pelts, wampum, and wigwams.

Next on the agenda was the sampling of some native foods. Toward the rear of the museum, tables were laid out with a colorful spread of corn, beans, blueberries, tart cranberries, nuts, breads, and soups. I have heard it been said by professional chefs that more than half of the art of cooking is in the presentation and, if that is true, this display was a 5-star feast for the eyes. I had a most wonderful time sampling the flavors of a distant time and another culture, some of which were quite different in texture and taste as Native Americans (as I heard) didn't use any salt in their cooking preparations.

Some of the native food exhibits continued outdoors around a fire pit with a campfire-cooking demonstration. I saw fish and meats being smoked on racks. Acorn squash sat right on the glowing embers, ready to be cut open and eaten. There's nothing quite as warming as the smell of kindling firewood on a cool autumn morning. That scent stayed with me all day and it was just lovely.

Next came the spear-throwing demonstration. Guests were prompted to try to hit a turkey target on a stack of hay some thirty feet away using a device called an "atlatl." I gave it a try, though, sad to say, my spear barely made it five feet beyond the staging area. LOL.

To round out the festivities, guests were gathered in an outdoor area to hear members of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council tell stories of native life and perform 1860's music and dances. I always love to see tribal dancing and this was great!

The whole event got me very much looking forward to Thanksgiving. I can't wait to start the cooking on Thursday morning. This year, in addition to my turkey gravy, I'll be trying out a new recipe for chestnut stuffing. Ah, the scent of roasting turkey. The Macy's parade. Laurel & Hardy. Oh yes! May your Thanksgiving also be a day of joy and blessings! Love & light...

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

~Isaiah 54:10