Post WWII, The Christmas Song, Music Monday

Christmas song chestnuts roasing

Next to Bing Crosby’s renowned White Christmas, and Judy Garland’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Doris Day’s Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is one of the popular songs that hit the radios post WW II.

What is amazing is that Doris had no idea just how musically gifted she was. While recovering from a car accident she would sing while listening to the radio: ‘the one radio voice I listened to above others belonged to Ella Fitzgerald. There was a quality to her voice that fascinated me, and I’d sing along with her, trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.’ (Doris Day)

christmas song Chestnuts roasting
Roasted chestnuts in a paper bag

Doris Day shared a long and fruitful collaboration with Les Brown & His Band of Renown. Here is their ageless collaboration, Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire:

Post WW2, The Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Doris Day vocals with Les Brown and his orchestra – lyrics:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by the choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny little tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is going to spy
To see if reindeer’s really know how to fly
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you!

(Source Musixmatch)
Songwriters: ROBERT WELLS / MEL TORME
The Christmas Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Tunes LLC

christmas song Chestnuts roasting
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Achieving Calm through all the Chaos

I just gotten used to writing 2019 and, in a flash, it already flew by, taking with it milestones and achievements, forgotten plans and stolen moments with my family. Life is faster, we work harder, have more plans, higher goals, yet we are busier than ever before. I grasp at the meaning of calmness through the chaos that my present day translates to. My heart knows it before my mind, achieving some state of calm through all this chaos is a must. Deep breath now…

Some say we are addicted to stress, that our neural pathways thrive on it, on back to back meetings and the adrenaline rushing through our bodies. But is pushing ourselves actually making us more productive?

Is more, always better?

Perhaps spreading us thinner through juggling numerous projects at a time – ours, a co-workers, the kids’ – is not a measure of how much we can achieve. Perhaps doing less, resisting the urge to focus on other’s business, focusing more on our needs, on what really matters, is the true way forward. Being able to say ‘no’.

Asking ourselves: do I really have time for this? Do I need to add this to my schedule? Am I the one that has to do it? – is just as important as the skill needed to solve that extra issue.

achieving calm through chaos

Achieving Calm through all the Chaos in 5 Steps

Prioritize: life before work

Ask yourself, which are the most important people in your life? To me is my family. What manners next? Perhaps work, a hobby. And then? Friends, sport, social life?

These are aspect of your life you need to prioritize at the beginning of each year. Put them in your calendar first: birthdays, anniversaries, school holidays, family gatherings, dates.

Do not worry to leave the leftover time for work – it will still be plenty available!

Create a path through all that clutter

I am not talking about desk clutter, but all the bullet points on your daily ‘to do’ list. For some, an Excel spreadsheet works well, for others, a daily planning stuck on the fridge door will do. Start with that.

There you go, now you know in what order to prioritize your daily tasks. Focus on only one task at a time.

Plan, prioritize, but also make time to breathe – every day.

achieving calm through chaos

Know your personal and your career goals

If you make them clear to yourself at the beginning of each year, you would have reduced most of the clutter from your daily planner. They say, if you know your yes’s, then your no’s are easier.

Keeping your goals in mind makes it easier to prioritize on a day to day basis and it makes your decisions a lot easier.

And family time? Sharing daily, joyful moment with your family keeps you connected, thus making it easier to keep your personal goals in sight.

Face it, head-on

Often, solving the top issues, the most stressful ones, and reshuffling the rest can remove most of the daily stress our minds deal with.

Next assess these issues that seem to be constantly moved from one day to the next and ask yourself: will I feel a sense of accomplishment if I finish them? Are they important? If you think yes, then schedule one a day, prioritize it and finish it. If no, then they were just cluttering your daily schedule.

achieving calm through chaos

Meditate and Sleep

Maybe not for everyone, and I am the first to admit that I have a problem with both – I find them equally time-consuming. But when I do meditate – I realize that my objectives are clearer, what was a conundrum is clarified, I know how to approach a problem and, in conclusion, I feel less stressed.

Sleeping is a whole other issue. Beneficial for all and it does improve the immune system. And, yes, a good night’s sleep does give us a performance-edge and increases our mind’s agility.

It is easy to allow small worries to become big issues, but achieving that sense of calm through all the daily chaos is doable and can be a positive aspect of your 2020. I hope it will!

And read on. Poetry, in particular, calms the mind. Poetry is as good as gold 🙂

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Snow’s Thousand Faces and Meanings

frozen snow mening pictures

I love snow in all its aspects, yet browsing through past holiday pictures I realized that snow has thousands of faces and meanings. From the simple joy of snowflakes to the excitement and rush of making a snow angel or a snowman; from the wonder of an icicle to the art nature instills in a frozen fence; or, simply, the unspoiled wonder the morning after a snow storm holds.

Join me in finding the different meanings that snow holds.

The weather channel announced the blizzard, so everyone was expecting it: the snowfall. It came over a few days, quietly falling, day after day. The ground has to be frozen, you see, for the snow to settle and we were holding thumbs that first day: freeze, freeze. Checking the windows every half an hour: does the tar still shows? Has a dusty layer of snow settled yet? It takes a couple of day, you know. And it starts with a skift, a light snowfall.

Then, one morning, we woke up to this:

snow thousand faces meanings

And to some footsteps left on our windowsill:

snow thousand faces meanings

Need I say how fast we got dressed to go outside? As fast as our endless layers of clothing allowed us, anyway. And this is what we saw:

snow thousand faces meanings

One of snow’s thousand faces certainly is wonder! Its meaning? Live in the moment.

snow thousand faces meanings

Let it snow… or make it snow!

I think you have to be very patient if you are a coniferous tree. And have lots of practice sitting perfectly still.

snow thousand faces meanings

Snow angels, through their serenity and peace, do confer winter a higher, spiritual meaning. But the joy that goes into making them certainly anchor the holiday season firmly into childhood. Maybe this symbol of winter is the fine, silver thread that connect so many hearts around the world, an universal language.

snow angel in winter. a spiritual meaning

And snowmen! Yet you need a certain type of snow to built one, it has to warm up a little, so the snow will release some heat that, in turn, will bound the snowflakes together and help them hold their shape.

a first winter's snowman

Then the onding, the heavy snow, returned. That’s a massive snowfall, but not big enough to be qualified as a blizzard. An onding is a regionalism used in Scotland and Northern England since the middle of the 18th century.

And a day later we walked to the shops…

The snow was THAT big:

Brave us, we traveled to Sighisoara by train, through snow. This will be a story on its own, but for now this is what we saw: grue, thin, floating ice:

grue, thin floating ice in Sighisoara
rollerblade on ice, snow, winter

Here is a first glimpse at Sighisoara, the amazing medieval city built along Târnava Mare River:

I have ambivalent feelings for the snow and ice clinging to a fence. It can be art, like this spiraled fence capped with snow:

snow on a fence in winter

Or this glowing, frozen chicken wire fence:

frozen chicken wire fence

Yet this barbed wire frozen in winter makes me wince:

barbed wire frozen in winter

I leave you with this: as spiky as a barbed wire, as graceful as a ice-skater’s blades, the icicle is wonder and physics combined:

Glowing icicle
Winter’s artful magic wand.
Alohomora!

For more winter poems and haiku:

Christmas Haiku
Christmas Haiku

Get Christmas Haiku from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or worldwide.

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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Humanity of U.S. Marines

5. Birthday Cake made of a soldier's meal ready to eat, MRE - heartbreaking in its humanity.

While researching for my latest book, contemporary fiction Silent Heroes, I discovered five secrets which I later revealed in my novel: one of them about the U.S. Marines’ true sacrifices. The other four secrets involve a hidden underground fortress, the hush-hushed holes in the military chain of command, a secret too dangerous to even be researched and shared, involving the Taliban, and one inconceivable in the 21st century, involving women’s rights.

Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ lifestyle in a war zone forward operating base, FOB

secrets revealed U.S. Marines Silent Heroes
Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ humanity and lifestyle at war

So many simple things we often take for granted, like the song of a bird, the peace of the early morning, or a birthday cake. These are all highly-priced commodities in a military base in Afghanistan. The smaller sized bases often don’t have a cook (or didn’t used to, at the very beginning of the War in Afghanistan), thus food reaches the soldiers in form of meals ready to eat, MREs.
MRE First Strike is provided to soldiers when they go on a mission outside the base. These include three meals in one pack, enough food for an entire day. The MREs have numbers, each number corresponding to a different menu.

A First Strike MRE contains enough food to last a U’S. soldier for an entire day. There are, individually wrapped: a bag of tuna, beef sandwich, tortillas, crackers, apple sauce, lemon pudding cake, dessert bar, corn nuggets, cheese spread, mayonnaise, pepper sauce, nut & raisins mix, various flavors energy bars, instant coffee, lemon-flavored powder beverage in a level-marked waterproof bag, also a tropical punch one, coffee creamer, coffee, sugar, salt, chewing gum, moist towel, napkins, matches, and a trash bag. All this amazing information was sourced from (but not limited to) Crazy Russian’s Hacker’s video. Have a look, he is extremely entertaining. It was my son who first introduced me to Taras Kulakov’ videos 🙂

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices

More secrets revealed regarding all Marines’ sacrifices.

Birthday Cake made of a soldier’s meal ready to eat, MRE – heartbreaking in its humanity.

When one of your platoon mates turns 21 and you are all deployed in Afghanistan, no way to source a cake with blue and red icing – what do you do? You improvise the best that you can:

‘Right now, the two fellow Marines were assembling a surprise birthday cake for Seb by stacking together prepacked slices of pound cake, peanut butter cookies, Rice Krispies treats, jams and dessert bars, all saved from their military rations. Although FOB Day had a pretty good cook, birthday cakes were not part of the Marines’ menu. It’s been Dunn’s idea to fashion this MRE-sourced cake.
“After all, one turns 21 but once in his life,” he said.’

Silent Heroes

Imagine those U.S. Marines, away from their homes for three, six months at a time, having little means of communications with the family left behind, saving their rations to put together a single serving of birthday cake. Because it is their mate’s birthday and they want to celebrate it, to bring some home-feel to the cruelty of war. Create an oasis of serenity in the midst of the battlefield.
You can celebrate this birthday alongside the U’S. Marines fighting in Silent Heroes. They would surely appreciate your presence, as it will bring that home-feeling to a war-torn, sun-blazed piece of land that no one knows, anymore, why they still fight over.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices. family

Are you ready to delve into the secrets revealed in Silent Heroes, involving the U.S. Marines, their bravery and sacrifices?

Silent Heroes. secrets revealed U.S. MarinesAmazon 5 Stars Review:
“Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day.  Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.”

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices
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Writing Tip-offs from Fine Authors

writer tip-off fine authors

Consider this an early Christmas prezzie: a collection of some of my favorite writing tip-offs from some fine authors.
Every once in a while, you could say during a writer’s block or a dry spell, I try to discover what worked for other writers. How they moved forward. What is it that made them persevere. It inspires and encourages me and it fuels me with energy for the day ahead.
Sometimes we just need a moment’s lift.

Graham Greene’s writing tip on getting started

‘In periods when I can’t write, I keep a notepad beside my bed. When I wake up in the night after having a dream, I note it down at once. I’ve discovered dreams are like serials and the instalments sometimes carry on for weeks and in the end form a whole.’ (Graham Greene)

writing tip-offs fine authors

Agatha Christie on working on the plot:

‘The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.’ (Agatha Christie)

Jane Austen on the power of written word

‘I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper what one would say to the same person by word of mouth.’ (Jane Austen)

William Faulkner on how to keep on going

‘Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing. Being ‘a writer’ means being stagnant. The act of writing shows movement, activity, life. When you stop moving, you’re dead. It’s never too soon to start writing, as soon as you learn to read.’ (William Faulkner)

Chuck Palahniuk on how to write when you don’t feel like it

‘When you don’t want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you’re free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you’ll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you’ll keep going. Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work.’ (Chuck Palahniuk)

writing tip-offs fine authors

P. D. James on reading while writing:

Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.‘ (P.D. James)

Phillip Pullman on writer’s block:

‘a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used that as an excuse not to do any work that day?’ (Phillip Pullman)

Kathy Reichs on having multiple layers to a story:

‘an ‘A’ story that might involve a particular plot/incident, and a ‘B’ story involving ongoing things about characters, along with perhaps a ‘C’ story and other strands for plots and characters.’ (Kathy Reichs)

Alfred Hitchcock on what to expect from a novel:

‘Drama is life with the dull parts left out.’ (Alfred Hitchcock)

writing tip-offs fine authors

Write with your ending in mind, says Edgar Allan Poe:

‘Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.’ (Edgar Allan Poe)

Paulo Coelho on being a confident author

‘You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have.’ (Paul Coehlo)

Zadie Smith on technology:

‘ Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.’ (Zadie Smith)

Neil Gaiman on finishing that book:

‘ Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. ‘ (Neil Gaiman)

And perhaps my favorite one:

Agatha Christie on perseverance:

‘I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.’ (Agatha Christie)

writing

I always remind myself: write with your heart, write what matters to you.

I hope these writing tip-offs from some really fine authors gave you that tiny boost. What are your best tips on writing and keeping it going?

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