Saturday 13 August 2016


“Has it struck you that the music which is regarded as the most sublime in western civilization, which is the music of Bach, is called baroque?” - PierreSchaeffer

Johann Adolph Hasse, byname Il Sassone (born March 25, 1699, Bergedorf, near Hamburg—died Dec. 16, 1783, Venice) was an outstanding composer of operas in the Italian style that dominated late Baroque opera. Hasse began his career as a singer and made his debut as a composer in 1721 with the opera “Antioco”.

He went to Italy, where he studied with Nicola Porpora and with Alessandro Scarlatti and where his opera seria “Sesostrate” (1726) established his reputation; in Italy he became known as “il Sassone” (the Saxon). After spending several years in Venice, where he married the celebrated mezzo-soprano Faustina Bordoni (c. 1700–81), he became music director of the Dresden Opera (1731). He resided in Dresden from 1739 to 1763, when he retired and went to Vienna.

His last work for the stage was “Ruggiero” (1771), written for the wedding of the archduke Ferdinand at Milan. Hasse’s compositions include more than 60 operas, many of them to librettos by Pietro Metastasio, and nearly a dozen intermezzos, as well as oratorios, masses, and instrumental works. His music was enormously popular during his lifetime; its chief characteristics were melodic beauty and formal balance. His operatic overtures had considerable influence on the development of the symphony, especially in northern Germany.

Hasse’s extensive addition to the repertoire of contemporary church music continued to have occasional performance in Dresden. His oratorios, some with texts by Metastasio, have largely disappeared from repertoire. Hasse’s instrumental music includes flute concertos, and solo, duo and trio sonatas.

Here are some of his Sonatas and Trio Sonatas:

Trio Sonata in F major for oboe, violin and basso continuo
Trio Sonata in D minor for oboe, violin and basso continuo
Sonata No. 5 in E minor for violin and basso continuo
Sonata in G major for oboe and basso continuo
Sonata in F major for chalumeau, oboe, bassoon and basso continuo
Trio Sonata in C major for oboe, violin and basso continuo.

Friday 12 August 2016


“I don’t want to spend my life not having good food going into my pie hole. That hole was made for pies.” - Paula Deen

Our Winter continues and nothing better to come home to in the evening than a hearty Winter vegie pie steaming hot from the oven… Here is a favourite recipe of ours. I must admit that often we cheat and instead of fresh vegies we use a packet of mixed, snap frozen vegies from the freezer, which is convenient and the next best thing to fresh ones from greengrocer.

Vegetarian Pot Pie
2 Tbs. corn flour (=cornstarch)
 1 and 1/3 cups prepared creamy potato-leek soup
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
500 g mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, cauliflower, turnip, etc), cubed, parboiled and drained
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed 

Position oven racks in middle and bottom positions, and preheat oven to 230˚C.
Whisk 2 Tbs. cold water into corn flour in medium saucepan. Whisk in soup, rosemary, and cumin, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, stir in vegetables, then spread mixture in 23 cm deep-dish pie pan.
Unfold puff pastry, and place over vegetable mixture; allow pastry to drape over pie pan. Trim pastry edges with scissors or sharp knife so that it fits tightly in pan. Prick pastry all over with fork or knife. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until puff pastry is puffed and golden.

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Thursday 11 August 2016


“Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.” - Francis of Assisi

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. It is native to temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region. Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm tall, with opposite leaves 1–4 cm long. Oregano will grow in a pH range between 6.0 (mildly acidic) and 9.0 (strongly alkaline), with a preferred range between 6.0 and 8.0. The flowers are purple, 3–4 mm long, produced in erect spikes. It is sometimes called wild marjoram, and its close relative Origanum majorana is known as sweet marjoram.

Oregano has purple flowers and spade-shaped, olive-green leaves. It is a perennial, although it is grown as an annual in colder climates, as it often does not survive the winter. Oregano is planted in early spring, the plants being spaced 30 cm apart in fairly dry soil, with full sun. It prefers a hot, relatively dry climate, but does well in other environments.

Many subspecies and strains of oregano have been developed by humans over centuries for their unique flavours or other characteristics. Tastes range from spicy or astringent to more complicated and sweet. Simple oregano sold in garden stores as Origanum vulgare may have a bland taste and larger, less dense leaves, and is not considered the best for culinary uses, with a taste less remarkable and pungent. It can pollinate other more sophisticated strains, but the offspring are rarely better in quality. The related species, Origanum onites (Greece, Turkey) and O. syriacum (West Asia), have similar flavours. Some varieties show a flavour intermediate between oregano and marjoram. The ‘Greek Kaliteri’ cultivar  is a small, hardy, dark, compact plant with thick, silvery-haired leaves, usually with purple undersides. It has an excellent reputation for flavour and pungency, as well as medicinal uses, with a strong, archetypal oregano flavour (in Greek i kaliteri means ‘the best’).

Oregano is an important culinary herb, used for the flavour of its leaves, which can be more flavourful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Good-quality oregano may be strong enough almost to numb the tongue, but cultivars adapted to colder climates often have a lesser flavour. Factors such as climate, season, and soil composition may affect the aromatic oils present, and this effect may be greater than the differences between the various species of plants.

Among the chemical compounds contributing to the flavour are carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene. Oregano’s most prominent modern use is as the staple herb of Italian-American cuisine. Its popularity in the US began when soldiers returning from World War II brought back with them a taste for the “pizza herb”, which had probably been eaten in southern Italy for centuries. There, it is most frequently used with roasted, fried, or grilled vegetables, meat, and fish. Oregano combines well with spicy foods popular in southern Italy. It is less commonly used in the north of Italy, as marjoram generally is preferred.

The herb is widely used in cuisines of the Mediterranean Basin, the Philippines, and Latin America. In Turkish cuisine, oregano is mostly used for flavouring meat, especially for mutton and lamb. In barbecue and kebab restaurants, it can be usually found as a condiment, together with paprika, salt, and pepper. The dried and ground leaves are most often used in Greece to add flavour to Greek salad, and is usually added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that accompanies fish or meat grills and casseroles. Oregano is used in the southern Philippines to eliminate the odour of carabao or water buffalo when boiling it, while simultaneously imparting flavour.

In Austrian folk medicine, oregano was used internally (as tea) or externally (as ointment) for treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and nervous system. Traditionally, oregano has been used in Mediterranean countries as an aid to digestion in the form of tisanes, as a topical remedy for infections in the form of poultices for the skin and as a dietary aid to lowering blood pressure.

Oregano oil is under research for its potential use on foods or skin as an antibacterial agent. It is also tested for its ability to reduce the methane production in cows, which emit 70-120 kg of the greenhouse gas per year per cow. Origanum vulgare viridulum extracts inhibited the growth of HepG2 hepatic cancer cells. Herbalists use the herb as a powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent, that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties. It’s typically taken as a supplement or used as an essential oil.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of the fresh herb without flowers means: “You have piqued my interest”. A sprig of the herb in flower means: “You have filled my heart with gladness”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday 10 August 2016


“Whatever deceives men seems to produce a magical enchantment.” - Plato

For this Mid-Week Motif, Poets United has set the theme of “Predator and Prey”. The motif states: "Life exists with both the spirits of predator and prey. As in animal kingdom so in human society. The most interesting point is that predator and prey evolve together. One, in order to eat and the other to avoid being eaten."
Here is my contribution:

Selene the Enchantress

Your eyes are made of flint and limpid quartz
And evil witchcraft is in your arcane gaze.
Your eyes the green of serpents, fireflies, lizards;
The sweet laurel, the bitter deadly nightshade,
A touch of balsam mixed with fiery poison!

You speak and siren sings while nightingale warbles:
So sweetly sung, but words that hide fatal meanings.
Your voice enchanting music to my ears,
Your pearly teeth biting each syllable
Making it shout in barbarous pleasure.

Your lips inflamed like a gaping wound,
Your kiss, cold as sepulchral marble,
Yet it burns me with infernal fires.
Your lips are scarlet like a strawberry,
A bite and sweet blood gushes - juice of the forbidden fruit…

The vice of your embrace crushes me,
I die and suffocate whispering your name.
My hands caress your supple skin
As your silver nails gash my flesh,
Exposing raw sinew, tense tendon.

Up in the sky the sickle of a moon
Cuts swiftly the thin thread of my life.
Virginal Artemis laughs and in her blood-stained hand
Lies yet another trophy – her prey vanquished,
In a hunt that from the start was doomed.

The illustration above is from the work of Susan Seddon Boulet.

Tuesday 9 August 2016


“Good wishes alone will not ensure peace.” - Alfred Nobel

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 of 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.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous city in the Nordic countries, with 925 934 people living in the municipality, approximately 1.4 million in the urban area, and 2.2 million in the metropolitan area. The city is spread across 14 islands on the coast in the southeast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago and the Baltic Sea. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by a Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.

Stockholm is the cultural, media, political, and economic centre of Sweden. The Stockholm region alone accounts for over a third of the country’s GDP, and is among the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita. It is an important global city, and the main centre for corporate headquarters in the Nordic region. The city is home to some of Europe’s top ranking universities, such as the Stockholm School of Economics, Karolinska Institute and Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

It hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies and banquet at the Stockholm Concert Hall and Stockholm City Hall. One of the city’s most prized museums, the Vasa Museum, is the most visited non-art museum in Scandinavia. The Stockholm metro, opened in 1950, is well known for its decoration of the stations; it has been called the longest art gallery in the world. Sweden’s national football arena is located north of the city centre, in Solna. Ericsson Globe, the national indoor arena, is in the southern part of the city.

The city was the host of the 1912 Summer Olympics, and hosted the equestrian portion of the 1956 Summer Olympics otherwise held in Melbourne, Australia. Stockholm is the seat of the Government of Sweden and most government agencies, including the highest courts in the Judiciary, and the official residencies of the Swedish monarch and the Prime Minister. The government has its seat in the Rosenbad building, the Riksdag is seated in the Parliament House, and the Prime Minister’s residence is adjacent at the Sager House. The Stockholm Palace is the official residence and principal workplace of the Swedish monarch, while the Drottningholm Palace, a World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Stockholm, serves as the Royal Family’s private residence.

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

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below,and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday 8 August 2016


“I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I'm spending my adulthood wishing I were younger.” - Ricky Schroder

We watched an old favourite movie last weekend, one which we had watched more than 25 years ago, but it was watched again with pleasure and great satisfaction. It was the 1986 Rob Reiner movie “Stand by Me” with a screenplay by Raynold Gideon, based on the novella by Stephen King. It stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland and Richard Dreyfuss.

The film is set in Castlerock, Oregon in the Summer of 1959. Four 12 year-old boys, Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern, are fast friends and as boys at that age do are seeking adventures and new experiences. When they learn of the general location of the body of a local boy who has been missing for several days and presumed to be killed by a train, they set off into woods to see it. Unfortunately for the four friends, the town’s bullies are also out to find the body for the same reason. This will lead to all sorts of trouble and it will also lead to the four boys discovering a lot about each other and themselves.

The film is about the pain and pleasure of growing up, it’s about the blessings of friendship and the heartache of loss – loss of people, loss of the sense of wonder, loss of happy times and loss of innocence. It looks at what makes us who we are and how our family, friends and foes can shape our character and so determine how we become the sort of adult we are. It is a coming-of-age movie and it is filled with nostalgia and the ache of how good some things used to be, even if they didn't feel good at the time we lived them.

The casting in this movie is inspired and every actor does a great job in bringing to life King’s detailed and rich novella. The leader of the four friends is Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), a strong boy who has to deal with how unfairly he’s been treated. Gordie Lachance (Will Wheaton) idolises Chris and he too has to deal with a “situation” at home since his brother died. Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) is the renegade revolutionary whose war-wearied father has influenced him greatly. Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) is the plump and nervous “tag-a-long friend” who plays an important role in the story. The leader of the older bullies is Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland), who plays a villainous role with great aplomb. An older Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss) narrates the film and we see here perhaps King’s autobiographical ruminations.

Running at 89 minutes, the film packs a lot of action, many a memorable scene, some wonderful dialogue, humour, poignancy and drama. This is a wonderful movie about kids, for kids, but not only for kids. It is a great example of how a movie can be made for children without patronising them and without assuming they are senseless idiots. If you haven't seen it, go find it and watch it!

Sunday 7 August 2016


“I would rather be the first painter of common things than second in higher art.” - DiegoVelázquez

Diego Velázquez (ca 1599–1660) was one of the most famous artists of the 17th century. Although his early paintings were religious-themed, he became renowned for his realistic, complex portraits as a member of King Philip IV’s court. In his later years, the Spanish master produced a renowned portrait of Pope Innocent X and the famed group portrait of “Las Meninas”. He died on August 6, 1660, in Madrid.

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was born in Seville, Spain, circa June 6, 1599. At the age of 11, he began a six-year apprenticeship with local painter Francisco Pacheco. Velázquez’s early works were of the traditional religious themes favoured by his master, but he also became influenced by the naturalism of Italian painter Caravaggio. Velázquez set up his own studio after completing his apprenticeship in 1617. A year later, he married Pacheco's daughter, Juana. By 1621, the couple had two daughters.

In 1622, Velázquez moved to Madrid, where, thanks to his father-in-law’s connections, he earned the chance to paint a portrait of the powerful Count-Duke of Olivares. The count-duke then recommended Velázquez’s services to King Philip IV; upon seeing a completed portrait, the young king of Spain decided that no one else would paint him and appointed Velázquez one of his court painters. The move to the royal court gave Velázquez access to a vast collection of works and brought him into contact with important artists such as Flemish baroque master Peter Paul Rubens, who spent six months at the court in 1628. Among Velázquez’s notable works from that period were “The Triumph of Bacchus”, in which a group of revellers falls under the powerful spell of the Greek god of wine.

Velázquez travelled to Italy from June 1629 to January 1631, where he was influenced by the region’s great artists. After returning to Madrid, he began a series of portraits that featured members of the royal family on horseback. Velázquez also devoted time to painting the dwarves who served in King Philip's court, taking care to depict them as complex, intelligent beings. Along with his painting duties, Velázquez undertook increasing responsibilities within the court, ranging from wardrobe assistant to superintendent of palace works.

Velázquez made a second trip to Italy from 1649 to 1651. During this time, he was given the opportunity to paint Pope Innocent X, producing a work that is considered among the finest portraits ever rendered. Velázquez also produced a portrait of his servant, Juan de Pareja, which is admired for its striking realism, and the “Venus Rokeby”, his only surviving female nude.

Velázquez returned to his portraiture after rejoining the Madrid court, his technique more assured than ever. In 1656, he produced perhaps his most acclaimed work, “Las Meninas”. In this snapshot-like painting, two handmaidens dote on future empress Margarita Theresa while Velázquez peers from behind a large easel, ostensibly studying the king and queen, though his gaze meets the viewer’s. In 1658, Velázquez was made a knight of Santiago. After being tasked with decoration responsibilities for the wedding of Maria Theresa and Louis XIV, Velázquez became ill. He died in Madrid on August 6, 1660.

Velázquez is remembered as one of the great masters of Western art. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali are among the artists who considered him a strong influence, while French Impressionist Édouard Manet described the Spanish great as “the painter of painters”.

Above, is his “Vieja friendo huevos” (1618, ‘Old Woman Frying Eggs’), now in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. This is a homely painting of an everyday scene painted at about the time that Velázquez got married and before he joined the Spanish Royal Court. Such genre paintings were commonly executed at the time and in it one could admire the technique of the artist, not only in the resemblance of the painted images to the real people depicted, but also in the successful rendering of the objects depicted: The transparency of the glass flask, the shine on the brass basin and mortar, the hardness and whiteness of the glaze on the earthenware, the weave of the basketwork and the softness of the fabric of the clothes. The subject matter could be viewed as a simple depiction of a commonly observed scene in any Spanish household, but also an allegory of food as sustenance and the bounty of the Spanish land for provision of nutrition to a growing population.