Whitman's chocolates

I remember getting those boxes of Whitman's chocolates at Christmas time and reading the chart on the inside of the lid. This post is just a few of my thoughts about various Christmas topics, somewhat random but tied to a common theme, a little nutty and a little sweet.


I have no shortage of creative people in my life. One such creative friend, Maria, decided to do a photo shoot of her teen-aged daughters and some of their friends in a snowy Oregon woodland scene this year.


The effect was wonderful. Beautiful girls with braided hair, Scandinavian knits and scarves posed among trees with lace-like branches covered in crystal. On one close-up, I noticed a snowflake on the girl's eyelash. When I commented to my friend -- this was a Facebook post -- she admitted that she had shaken the tree over the girl for effect!


snowflake closeup

Yes, we know how snowflakes are shaped. We've known this since we first cut paper snowflakes in elementary school. Still, when I see snow falling or on the ground or even a single flake nestled on someone's eyelash, I rarely contemplate its microscopic beauty and uniqueness. God has put a lot of beauty into the world. Lately, I have come across these nature photos in my perusal of Pinterest, and I really appreciate them.


snowflake closeup

I'm reminded of a biographical children's picture book, Snowflake Bentley, a book that won the 1999 Caldecott Medal. The book tells the story of Wilson Bentley, one of the first known photographers of snowflakes who gained some renown in the late 1800s.


Snowflake Bentley book cover

I confess that I have not read any more of this book than I was able to preview on Amazon, but based on that preview alone, I would purchase it for or recommend it to those in the targeted audience.


Here are a few of Bentley's snowflake photographs.


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Today, Facebook reminded me of what I posted on Dec. 4, 2014. Here it is. "I decided to read 'The Nutcracker,' the original story by E.T.A Hoffmann on my Kindle this month. I came to a little rhyme that included this line 'Hee hee, pee pee.' I think it is basically meant to be nonsense syllables, but I have to wonder did 'pee pee' have a different meaning to Victorian children than it does today? Of course, it was translated to English from German. So, now I wonder, what exactly is the German for 'hee hee, pee pee?'" Ah, there's nothing like a little unintentional potty humor when reading a Victorian era book.


The precise version I read was
Nutcracker and Mouse King and the Tale of the Nutcracker which included the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Alexandre Dumas version.


Nutcracker Hoffmann Dumas

I've enjoyed Tchaikovsky's music "The Nutcracker Suite" ever since I was a little girl listening to my father's vinyl records. Very recently, I heard a very different interpretation of some of those classic instrumental pieces. My friend's son, Bill Arnold, has an album available on CD Baby, Expedition: Nutcracker Suite Eight tracks including "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies," "Dance of the Reed Pipes" and "Waltz of the Flowers" are reinterpreted with various world sounds such as reggae, Dixieland jazz, Celtic, samba and gypsy jazz. Bill is a composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist specializing in world flutes and voice.


Nutcracker Chinese Dance

I don't know if it's a calypso or reggae beat I hear, but I especially like Overture Miniature. Another fun track is Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, a version with a Latin jazz feel featuring a bass and castanets.


I like surprising fun musical style fusions. This came out in a small way in my mystery, Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery.


Action Men with Silly Putty cover

In the very beginning of the novel, we are introduced to a suspect that only Jack Donegal has seen. This suspect has an interesting condition, heterochromia iridum, where he has two differently colored eyes. My narrator, Andy Westin, gives him the nickname Kaleidoscope Eyes, inspired from the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." To quote Andy, "It wasn't my favorite song in the world as I'm not too fond of getting looped up and seeing pink elephants or walruses with egg men or whatever it is you are supposed to see while under the influence, but it was that line 'the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.' It seemed fitting."


Much later, Jack and Andy are sitting in a Mexican restaurant with a strolling mariachi band. The two decide to talk about this suspect using his nickname, and the mariachi band at their table thinks they are putting in a request for "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and begin to play it mariachi-style.


All of this came out of my crazy imagination for the humor of it, but after I wrote this scene, I became curious if there was such a thing as a Beatles mariachi fusion. I did not find "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" specifically, but I did find Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, by a group called Mariachillout and several other Beatles songs by the same group. And you know what? I liked it! I liked it so well that I incorporated "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" into the scene as well.


Mariachillout Beatles back cover

So, maybe this last bit wasn't so Christmasy, but this is -- a fun Christmas medley on an album called Fiesta Navidad

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