Saturday 6 February 2016


“Where words fail, music speaks.” - Hans Christian Andersen

Our memories are one of the fundamental things that define us, and to a certain extent, influence who we are and how we shall react to present and future situations. Many of those memories, for me at least, revolve around music. Music that we first heard on a certain occasion, background music that assumed special importance because of what was happening to us at a certain moment, music that was recommended to us by a special person our lives, music that was given to us as a gift, music that we heard at a concert where we were with someone special, music that we perhaps played on a particular moment when there was nothing else that we could do except play music…

Rallentanda, one of the readers of my blog (hello, Rall!), reminded me the other day through one her comments of a special moment in the past when I was first told to listen to a magnificent set of concerti by Georg Friederich Händel. The one that recommended them to me was my music teacher in High School, the one who also encouraged me to take up the study of music theory and the one who played on the piano my first compositions. I remember with fondness and gratitude that very special person who first saw sparks of musical talent in my nature and fanned them into a flame that has been kept alight for decades now. And these concerti always remind me of her, whenever I hear them (and that is often)!

So here are Georg Friedrich Händel’s Concerti Grossi Op 6, Nos 1-12, played by  The Avision Ensemble, conducted by Pavlo Beznosiuk.

Concerto Grosso in G Major, Op. 6, No. 1, HWV 319:
0:00:00 - I. A tempo giusto
0:01:33 - II. Allegro
0:03:17 - III. Adagio
0:05:52 - IV. Allegro
0:08:28 - V. Allegro
Concerto Grosso in F Major, Op. 6, No. 2, HWV 320:
0:11:21 - I. Andante larghetto
0:15:31 - II. Allegro
0:17:50 - III. Largo - Larghetto andante e piano
0:19:58 - IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Concerto Grosso in E Minor, Op. 6, No. 3, HWV 321:
0:22:22 - I. Larghetto
0:23:28 - II. Andante
0:24:57 - III. Allegro
0:27:23 - IV. Polonaise: Andante
0:32:22 - V. Allegro, ma non troppo
Concerto Grosso in A Minor, Op. 6, No. 4, HWV 322:
0:33:42 - I. Larghetto affettuoso
0:36:25 - II. Allegro
0:39:23 - III. Largo e piano
0:41:48 - IV. Allegro
Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op. 6, No. 5, HWV 323:
0:44:47 - I. [Larghetto e staccato]
0:46:20 - II. Allegro
0:48:33 - III. Presto
0:52:38 - IV. Largo
0:54:46 - V. Allegro
0:56:58 - VI. Menuet: Un poco larghetto
Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 6, HWV 324:
1:00:01 - I. Largo e affettuoso
1:03:17 - II. Allegro, ma non troppo
1:04:56 - III. Musette: Larghetto
1:09:58 - IV. Allegro
1:13:01 - V. Allegro
Concerto Grosso in B-Flat Major, Op. 6, No. 7, HWV 325:
1:15:29 - I. Largo
1:16:25 - II. Allegro
1:19:23 - III. Largo, e piano
1:22:31 - IV. Andante
1:26:18 - V. Hornpipe
Concerto Grosso in C Minor, Op. 6, No. 8, HWV 326:
1:29:34 - I. Allemande
1:36:08 - II. Grave
1:37:41 - III. Andante allegro
1:39:36 - IV. Adagio
1:40:41 - V. Siciliana: Andante
1:44:12 - VI. Allegro
Concerto Grosso in F Major, Op. 6, No. 9, HWV 327:
1:45:40 - I. Largo
1:47:11 - II. Allegro
1:51:04 - III. Larghetto
1:54:24 - IV. Allegro
1:56:10 - V. Menuet
1:57:30 - VI. Gigue
Concerto Grosso in D Minor, Op. 6, No. 10, HWV 328:
1:59:45 - I. Overture
2:01:14 - II. Allegro Lento
2:03:26 - III. Air: Lento
2:06:24 - IV. Allegro
2:08:37 - V. Allegro
2:11:22 - VI. Allegro moderato
Concerto Grosso in A Major, Op. 6, No. 11, HWV 329:
2:13:13 - I. Andante larghetto, e staccato
2:17:24 - II. Allegro
2:19:07 - III. Largo, e staccato
2:19:38 - IV. Andante
2:24:03 - V. Allegro Concerto Grosso in B Minor, Op. 6, No. 12, HWV 330:
2:29:21 - I. Largo
2:31:20 - II. Allegro
2:34:13 - III. Aria: Larghetto e piano
2:37:34 - IV. Largo
2:38:24 - V. Allegro

Friday 5 February 2016


“It's the 21st century. It's healthier for us, better for the environment and certainly kinder to be a vegetarian.” - Ingrid Newkirk

We have a couple of zucchini plants growing in our garden in amongst the rose bushes. They have been very happy and productive this year and we have been using the zucchini in all sorts of recipes, this one below being quite a tasty one, but also quite healthful.

Vegetarian Quiche Squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Pepper to taste
3 large eggs
80 mL milk
3 carrots, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
150 g coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp chopped dill (optional)

Heat the oven to 190°C. Lightly coat a 20 cm square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the zucchini and carrot. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until zucchini is soft and the liquid has evaporated, for about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk and add the vegetable mixture, cheese and dill. Spread in prepared pan.
Bake until quiche is just set in the centre, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Thursday 4 February 2016


“The starry, fragile windflower, Poised above in airy grace, Virgin white, suffused with blushes, Shyly droops her lovely face.” - Elaine Goodale

Anemone is a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native to temperate zones. The genus is closely related to Pulsatilla (Pasque flower) and Hepatica; some botanists even include both of these genera within Anemone. In Greek anemōnē means “daughter of the wind”, from ánemos the wind god + feminine patronymic suffix -ōnē. The windflower often grows on craggy hilltops exposed to the wind and the name signifies that the wind may blow the petal open, but will also eventually, blow the dead petals away.

Anemone are perennials that have basal leaves with long leaf-stems that can be upright or prostrate. Leaves are simple or compound with lobed, parted, or undivided leaf blades. The leaf margins are toothed or entire. Flowers with 4–27 sepals are produced singly, in cymes of 2–9 flowers, or in umbels, above a cluster of leaf- or sepal-like bracts. Sepals may be any colour. The pistils have one ovule. The flowers have nectaries, but petals are missing in the majority of species. The fruits are ovoid to obovoid shaped achenes that are collected together in a tight cluster, ending variously lengthened stalks; though many species have sessile clusters terminating the stems. The achenes are beaked and some species have feathery hairs attached to them.

Anemone coronaria is the type species and is a single flower found in red, magenta, mauve and white forms. Found growing wild in the Mediterranean countries, Anemone coronaria is also widely grown in gardens for its decorative flowers. Numerous cultivars have been selected and named, the most popular including the De Caen and St Brigid groups of cultivars. The De Caen group are hybrids cultivated in the districts of Caen and Bayeux in France in the 18th century.

Greek mythology linked the red anemone to the death of Adonis. This handsome young man was loved by both Persephone, queen of the underworld, and Aphrodite, goddess of love. Adonis enjoyed hunting, and one day when he was out hunting alone, he wounded a fierce boar, which stabbed him with its tusks. Aphrodite heard the cries of her lover and arrived to see Adonis bleeding to death. Red anemones sprang from the earth where the drops of Adonis’ blood fell. In another version of the story, the anemones were white before the death of Adonis, whose blood turned them red. Christians later adopted the symbolism of the anemone. For them its red represented the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross. Anemones sometimes appear in paintings of the Crucifixion.

Anemone coronaria means “crown anemone”, evoking regal associations. The Arabic name is shaqa'iq An-Nu’man translated literally as the wounds, or “pieces”, of Nu’man. One possible source of the name traces back to the Sumerian god of food and vegetation, Tammuz, whose Phoenician epithet was “Nea’man”. Tammuz is generally considered to have been drawn into the Greek pantheon as “Adonis”. Tammuz's Phoenician epithet “Nea’man” is believed to be both the source of “an-Nu’man” in Arabic which came through Syriac, and of “anemone” which came through Greek.

Another possible source of the name is An-Nu’man III Bin Al-Munthir, the last Lakhmid king of Al-Hirah (582-c.609 AD) and a Christian Arab. An-Nu’man is known to have protected the flowers during his reign. According to myth, the flower thrived on An-Nu’man’s grave, paralleling the death and rebirth of Adonis.

In Hebrew, the anemone is calanit metzouya. “Calanit” comes from the Hebrew word “cala” לה" which means “bride”, while “metzouya” means “common”. The calanit earned its name because of its beauty and majesty, evoking a bride on her wedding day (remembering that traditionally brides wore brightly coloured clothes on their wedding day in the Middle East). In 2013 Anemone coronaria was elected as the national flower of the State of Israel, in a poll arranged by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (החברה להגנת הטבע) and Ynet. Anemone coronaria grows wild all over Israel, Palestine and Jordan. During the British Mandate for Palestine, British soldiers were nicknamed “kalaniyot” for their red berets.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 3 February 2016


“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” - Bertrand Russell

This week, Poets United has as its theme “Identity”. Participants write a poem that fits into this suggested theme and the results are shared with other participants of the challenge. Here is my contribution:

Mistaken Identity

You think you know me,
Because you buy me the cologne I favour,

You believe you can guess my thoughts,
Because I smiled when you said you read my mind,

You assume you understand me,
When you ordered lunch for me, without asking me what I wanted,
Last week…

You’re convinced you read me like an open book,
When you had the room painted with what was my favourite colour,
Last year…

You trust my feelings for you,
Expecting me to carry on loving you, undeservedly,

Well think again – don’t dare to believe;
Assumptions are unjustified;
Your convictions are hollow:
You have mistaken my identity,
I am not who you have the effrontery to imagine I am.

Love feeds on love and a reciprocation of feeling,
Not on Pavlovian bells, nor on concessionary gifts.
Love grows when tended tenderly, like a delicate flower,
Not swamped with deluges, nor burned with Summer sunshine.
If you want to know who I really am, ask me, and I shall tell you.

Tuesday 2 February 2016


“We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” - John Archibald Wheeler

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel!

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest us! Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Symi, also transliterated as Syme or Simi (Greek: Σύμη), is a Greek island and municipality. It is mountainous and includes the harbour town of Symi and its adjacent upper town Ano Symi, as well as several smaller localities, beaches, and areas of significance in history and mythology. Symi is part of the Rhodes regional unit. The economy of Symi was traditionally based on of shipbuilding and sponge industries. The population reached 22,500 at its peak during that period. Symi's main industry is now tourism, and its permanent population has declined to 2,500, with a larger population during the summer.

Geographically, Symi is part of the Dodecanese island chain, located about 41 kilometres north-northwest of Rhodes (and 425 km from Piraeus, the port of Athens), with 58.1 square kilometres of mountainous terrain. Its nearest land neighbours are the Datça and Bozburun peninsulas of Muğla Province in Turkey. Its interior is dotted with small valleys, and its coastline alternates between rocky cliffs and beaches, and isolated coves. Its main town, located on the northeast coast, is also named Symi and consists of the lower town around the harbour, typically referred to as Yialos, and the upper town is called Horio or Ano Symi. Other inhabited localities are Pedi, Nimborio, Marathounda and Panormitis. Panormitis is the location of the island's famous monastery which is visited by people from all over the world, and many Greeks pay homage to St Michael of Panormitis each year.

It is a small, picturesque and quiet place to relax and perfect for a Summer holiday. At the same time, there are quite a few activities and places to visit, while in Summer there is entertainment to be had in the evenings also…

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Please link your entry using the Linky tool below:

Monday 1 February 2016


“There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.” - Virginia Woolf

For Movie Monday today, an Australian film, the 2015 Jocelyn Moorhouse movie “The Dressmaker” starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis. The film is based on Australian author Rosalie Ham’s Gothic novel first published by Duffy & Snellgrove on January 1, 2000. The story is set in a 1950s fictional Australian country town, Dungatar, and explores love, hate and haute couture. The novel is divided into four sections, each named after a different fabric and representing different phases in the story: Gingham, shantung, felt and brocade. I have not read the novel, but the quirky film was interesting and entertaining.

The plot centres on Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Winslet) who returns home to rural Australia after spending time abroad becoming an accomplished fashion designer. Much of the story hinges on her childhood: As a child Tilly was sent to a boarding school in Melbourne by Sergeant Farrat (Weaving) as she was accused of killing the boy who bullied her. Her mother, Molly (Davis) initially doesn’t recognise the adult Tilly on her return o town and thinks she is dealing with an impostor. Molly eventually accepts her into her home and Tilly transforms it into a couturier’s salon where she begins to make haute couture clothes for the women of the town. In the meantime, she becomes romantically involved with Teddy McSwiney (Hemsworth) whom she has known since they were children. The town still hasn’t forgiven Tilly for apparently killing the boy and believe she is cursed. Tilly’s plan is to exact revenge on all those who did her wrong and she will apparently stop at nothing to succeed...

The film is episodic in nature and difficult to classify into a single genre. There is quite a great deal going on and there are many characters introduced throughout. Many familiar Australian actors get lines in this movie and it’s great to see them doing their thing so well. Kate Winslet assumes a fantastic Australian accent and it certainly complements Hemsworth’s drawl. Judy Davis is fantastic in her role, which deserves a supporting actress Oscar.

There are moments of hilarious humour, moments of poignancy, great sadness, frustration and quirkiness. A true roller-coaster in terms of everything that is going on. Part of the film’s charm perhaps is because of this failure to classified and pigeon-holed and it can be considered to mirror life in this respect. There is poetic license, of course, and an almost magical realism about the situation as well as an unconventional ending. Given the film’s title and the short publicity blurb I read about it before seeing it, I thought it was going to be a standard chick-flick, but no, it doesn’t fall into that type either.

The sets, costumes, cinematography and authentic touches of the 1950s era were extremely well done and one felt transported back in time, watching this idiosyncratic tale. I would recommend it anyone and I would say that it was quite an entertaining two hours we spent watching it. The film has a great message, as well, about the few bad people who are hasty in making terrible judgments and who are able to influence a whole lot of others, thus making life miserable for everyone…

Sunday 31 January 2016


“My art tends toward the literary. My pictures tend toward the outskirts of painting: But why generalise? It is possible to realise one thing or another, according to the impressions gained from one point of view or another. But it is too difficult to make a general rule.” – James Ensor

James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor (13 April 1860 – 19 November 1949) was a Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life. He was associated with the artistic group Les XX.

Ensor’s father, James Frederic Ensor, born in Brussels of English parents, was a cultivated man who studied engineering in England and Germany. Ensor’s mother, Maria Catherina Haegheman, was Belgian. Ensor himself lacked interest in academic study and left school at the age of fifteen to begin his artistic training with two local painters. From 1877 to 1880, he attended the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where one of his fellow students was Fernand Khnopff. Ensor first exhibited his work in 1881. From 1880 until 1917, he had his studio in the attic of his parents’ house. His travels were very few: Three brief trips to France and two to the Netherlands in the 1880s, and a four-day trip to London in 1892.

Ensor was an acknowledged master by the time he was 20 years old. After a youthful infatuation with the art of Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens, he adopted the vivacious brushstroke of the French Impressionists. When Ensor’s works were rejected by the Brussels Salon in 1883, he joined a group of progressive artists called Les Vingt ( Les XX, The Twenty). During this period, in such works as his “Scandalised Masks” (1883), he began to depict images of grotesque fantasy—skeletons, phantoms, and hideous masks. Ensor’s interest in masks probably began in his mother’s curio shop.

His “Entry of Christ into Brussels” (1888), filled with carnival masks painted in smeared, garish colours, provoked such indignation that he was expelled from Les Vingt. Ensor, nevertheless, continued to paint such nightmarish visions as “Masks (Intrigues)” (1890) and “Skeletons Fighting for the Body of a Hanged Man” (1891).

As criticism of his work became more abusive, the artist became more cynical and misanthropic, a state of mind given frightening expression in his “Portrait of the Artist Surrounded by Masks”. He finally became a recluse and was seen in public so seldom that he was rumoured to be dead. After 1900 Ensor’s art underwent little change. When, in 1929, his Entry of Christ into Brussels was first exhibited publicly, King Albert of Belgium conferred a baronetcy on him.

As Ensor achieved belated recognition in the final years of the 19th century, his style softened and he painted less. Critics have generally seen Ensor’s last fifty years as a long period of decline. The aggressive sarcasm and scatology that had characterised his work since the mid-1880s was less evident in his few new compositions, and much of his output consisted of mild repetitions of earlier works. Significant works of Ensor’s late period include “The Artist’s Mother in Death” (1915), a subdued painting of his mother’s deathbed with prominent medicine bottles in the foreground, and “The Vile Vivisectors” (1925), a vehement attack on those responsible for the use of animals in medical experimentation.

James Ensor is considered to be an innovator in 19th-century art. Although he stood apart from other artists of his time, he significantly influenced such 20th-century artists as Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, George Grosz, Alfred Kubin, Wols, Felix Nussbaum, and other expressionist and surrealist painters of the 20th century. The yearly philanthropic “Bal du Rat Mort” (Dead Rat Ball) in Ostend continues a tradition begun by Ensor and his friends in 1898.

His works are in many public collections, notably the Modern Art Museum of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and the Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Ostend. Major works by Ensor are also in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. A collection of his letters is held in the Contemporary Art Archives of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. The Ensor collections of the Flemish fine art museums can all be seen at the James Ensor Online Museum (

The painting above is Ensor’s “The Despair of Pierrot” of 1892 and is typical of his oeuvre. The Commedia Dell’ Arte characters Pierrot, Columbine and Harlequin typify the eternal triangle of relationships, and Ensor’s obsession with masks can be allowed to vent in this thematic wonderland. The central jealous and despairing Pierrot is depicted in his blackest misery while Columbine and Harlequin are jauntily making their escape towards the windmill in the upper left. The masked figures around Pierrot seem to be deriding him and mocking his despair. It is a powerful image and one which creates unease, anxiety and disquietude. The blues and browns of the palette complement and contrast one another and contribute to the psychological effect of the painting.