Saturday 22 October 2016


“I don’t think anything can touch the expressive range of the guitar.” - Gary Clark, Jr.

Francisco Bartolomé Sanz Celma (April 4, 1640 (baptised) – 1710), better known as Gaspar Sanz, was an Aragonese composer, guitarist, organist and priest born to a wealthy family in Calanda in the comarca of Bajo Aragón, Spain. He studied music, theology and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the baroque guitar that form an important part of today's classical guitar repertory and have informed modern scholars in the techniques of baroque guitar playing.

His birth date is unknown but he was baptised as Francisco Bartolomé Sanz Celma in the church of Calanda de Ebro, Aragon on 4 April 1640 later adopting the first name ‘Gaspar’. After gaining his Bachelor of Theology at the University of Salamanca, Gaspar Sanz travelled to Naples, Rome and perhaps Venice to further his music education. He is thought to have studied under Orazio Benevoli, choirmaster at the Vatican and Cristofaro Caresana, organist at the Royal Chapel of Naples. He spent some years as the organist of the Spanish Viceroy at Naples. Sanz learned to play guitar while studying under Lelio Colista and was influenced by music of the Italian guitarists Foscarini, Granata, and Corbetta. When Sanz returned to Spain he was appointed instructor of guitar to Don Juan (John of Austria), the illegitimate son of King Philip IV and Maria Calderon, a noted actress of the day.

In 1674 he wrote his now famous “Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española”, published in Saragossa and dedicated to Don Juan. A second book entitled “Libro Segundo de Cifras Sobre la Guitarra Española” was printed in Saragossa in 1675. A third book, “Libro Tercero de Mùsica de Cifras Sobre la Guitarra Española”, was added to the first and second books, and all three were published together under the title of the first book in 1697, eventually being published in eight editions. The ninety works in this masterpiece are his only known contribution to the repertory of the guitar and include compositions in both punteado (“plucked”) style and rasqueado (“strummed”) style. In addition to his musical skills, Gaspar Sanz was noted in his day for his literary works as a poet and writer, and was the author of some poems and two books now largely forgotten. He died in Madrid in 1710.

His compositions provide some of the most important examples of popular Spanish baroque music for the guitar and now form part of classical guitar pedagogy. Sanz's manuscripts are written as tablature for the baroque guitar and have been transcribed into modern notation by numerous guitarists and editors. Gaspar Sanz’s works fell into obscurity for more than a century after his death. They were revived by Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922) who advocated a more nationalistic approach to musical composition, and influenced a host of Spanish Romantic composers such as Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909), Enrique Granados (1867-1916), and Manuel de Falla (1876-1946). He encouraged them to draw on the rich musical heritage of Spain and the work of the Spanish Baroque guitarists (and the earlier vihuelists of the 16th century) was a ready fountain of creativity to draw from.

Emilio Pujol (1886-1980) was particularly instrumental in providing transciptions of Sanz’s music for the modern six-string guitar, and these have been most popular amongst guitarist throughout the 20th century. The composer Manuel de Falla utilised some of Sanz’s themes in his work “El retablo de maese Pedro” composed in 1923, and in 1954 Joaquín Rodrigo, at the request of Andres Segovia, composed his guitar concerto “Fantasia para un Gentilhombre” which consisted of themes from Sanz’s 17th century guitar method.

Here is Sanz’s “Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española” played by Hopkinson Smith.

Friday 21 October 2016


“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” - Pablo Neruda

The weather keeps on being cool and wet, so our outings are generally limited and we are spending more time inside the house, but that’s fine as there is plenty to do and enjoy indoors. In keeping with the weather, today’s recipe is a nice warm and rich vegetarian stew. You can substitute various vegetables if you don't have what is listed in the ingredients and make the recipe your own.

Vegetarian Stew
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
30 mL olive oil
4 celery stalks, thickly sliced
2 vegetable marrows (or zucchini)
400 g mushrooms, sliced
400 g can undrained Italian stewed tomatoes
400 g can beans
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

Sauté the onion, carrots and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes. Stir in celery and mushrooms and sauté until soft.
Add tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, stirring often for about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and serve, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday 20 October 2016


“I am a classy dame.” - Evangeline Lilly

Hesperis matronalis is a herbaceous plant species in the mustard family, Brassicaceae. It has numerous common names, including dame’s rocket, damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening and winter gilliflower. Plants are biennials or short-lived perennials, native to Eurasia and cultivated in many other areas of the world for their attractive, spring-blooming flowers. In some of those areas, it has escaped cultivation and become a weed species. The genus name Hesperis is Greek for evening, and the name was probably given because the scent of the flowers becomes more conspicuous towards evening.

Hesperis matronalis grows to 100 cm or taller, with multiple upright, hairy stems. Typically, the first year of growth produces a mound of foliage, and flowering occurs the second year. The plants have showy blooms in early to mid-spring. The leaves are alternately arranged on upright stems and lanceolate; they typically have very short or lack petioles and have toothed margins, but sometimes are entire and are widest at the base. The foliage has short hairs on the top and bottom surfaces that give the leaves a somewhat rough feel. The larger leaves are around 12 cm long and over 4 cm wide.

In early spring, a thick mound of low-growing foliage is produced; during flowering the lower parts of the stems are generally unbranched and denuded of foliage and the top of the blooming plant might have a few branches that end in inflorescences. The plentiful, fragrant flowers are produced in large, showy, terminal racemes that can be 30 cm tall, or more, and elongate as the flowers of the inflorescence bloom. When stems have both flowers and fruits, the weight sometimes causes the stems to bend. Each flower is large (2 cm across), with four petals.

Flower coloration varies, with different shades of lavender and purple most common, but white, pink, and even some flowers with mixed colours exist in cultivated forms. A few different double-flowered varieties also exist. The four petals are clawed and hairless. The flowers have six stamens in two groups, the four closest to the ovary are longer than the two oppositely positioned. Stigmas are two-lobed. The four sepals are erect and form a mock tube around the claws of the petals and are also coloured similarly to the petals. Some plants may bloom until August, but warm weather greatly shortens the duration on each flower’s blooming.

Seeds are produced in thin fruits 5–14 cm long pods, containing two rows of seeds separated by a dimple. The fruit are terete and open by way of glabrous valves, constricted between the seeds like a pea pod. Seeds are oblong, 3–4 mm long and 1–1.5 mm wide. In North America, Hesperis matronalis is often confused with native Phlox species that also have similar large, showy flower clusters. They can be distinguished from each other by foliage and flower differences: Dame’s rocket has alternately arranged leaves and four petals per flower, while phloxes have opposite leaves and five petals.

H. matronalis has been a cultivated species for a long time, and grows best in full sun to partial shade where soils are moist with good drainage. It is undemanding and self seeds quickly, forming dense stands. Extensive monotypic stands of dame’s rocket are visible from great distances; these dense collections of plants have the potential to crowd out native species when growing outside of cultivated areas. The successful spread of dame’s rocket in North America is attributed to its prolific seed production and because the seeds are often included in prepackaged “wildflower seed” mixes sold for “naturalising”.

This species is commonly found in roadside ditches, dumps and in open woodland settings, where it is noticed when in bloom. It makes an attractive, hardy garden plant and probably does not pose a threat in urban settings. H. matronalis is propagated by seeds, but desirable individuals, including the double-flowering forms, are propagated from cuttings or division of the clumps.

The plant and flowers are edible, but fairly bitter, adding a sharp and distinctive note to salads and greens. The flowers are attractive added to green salads as an edible decoration. The young leaves can also be added to your salad greens (for culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers). The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads. Note that Dame’s Rocket is not the same variety as the herb commonly called Rocket (Eruca sativa), which is used as a salad green.

In the language of flowers, a pink-flowered bloom means: "You are the queen of coquettes"; a white-flowered variety stands for: "You are always fashionably dressed." A variegated blossom is rather insulting as it means: "You have no dress sense!"

Wednesday 19 October 2016


“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Poets United this week has as its theme in the Midweek Motif series the topic “Conversation”. Poets who take up the challenge are instructed to write a poem that focusses on conversation. Here is mine:

Silent Conversation

Would all be said if eyes met eyes
That were meant to gauge each other’s depths?
Would every word redundant be
And thus remain unspoken?
If with that single glance
It were enough for my crystal heart
To resonate to your insistent note,
Then surely I would know it,
For my heart would break.

Yes, it is certain that those eyes,
That strong and penetrating look
Would pierce me to the soul,
Impaling me like a helpless butterfly
On album leaf with silver pin.
Some other eyes merely look, enjoy,
Laugh, happy are;
But those eyes would mirror grief and anguish
On the surface of the bottomless seas they hide.

Before you speak with empty words,
Gaze into my eyes and talk to me gently,
Silently, with intricate unspoken detail.
Fathom my depths and realise my questions.
As for me, I’ll know your each reply,
For in your eyes all will be answered.

Tuesday 18 October 2016


“Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world.” - Jack Layton

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.
Quebec, also Québec, City of Québec, is the capital of the province of Quebec in Canada. In 2015 the city had a population of 540,994, and the metropolitan area had a population of 806,400, making it Canada’s seventh-largest metropolitan area and Quebec’s second-largest city after Montreal, which is about 260 kilometres to the southwest, respectively. Quebec is the second-largest French-speaking city in Canada after Montréal.

The narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River proximate to the city’s promontory, Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond), and Lévis, on the opposite bank, provided the name given to the city, Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”. Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as the ‘Historic District of Old Québec’.

According to the federal and provincial governments, Québec is the city’s official name in both French and English, although Quebec City (or its French equivalent, Ville de Québec) is commonly used, particularly to distinguish the city from the province. In French, the names of the province and the city are distinguished grammatically in that the province takes the definite article (le Québec, du Québec, au Québec, respectively ‘the Quebec’, ‘from the Quebec’, ‘in the Quebec’) and the city does not (Québec, de Québec, à Québec, respectively ‘Quebec City’, ‘from Quebec City’, ‘in Quebec City’).

The city’s famous landmarks include the Château Frontenac, a hotel which dominates the skyline, and La Citadelle, an intact fortress that forms the centrepiece of the ramparts surrounding the old city. The National Assembly of Quebec (provincial legislature), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec), and the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilisation) are found within or near Vieux-Québec.

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 17 October 2016


“Inside of many liberals is a fascist struggling to get out.” - John McCarthy

We watched a quirky little movie last weekend, Stacy Title’s 1995 movie, “The Last Supper”. It starred Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner, Courtney B. Vance and Ron Perlman and the screenplay by Dan Rosen.

Jude (Diaz), Luke (Vance), Marc (Penner), Paulie (Gish) and Pete (Eldard) are liberal-minded grad students at a Iowa post-secondary institution who all share a house. Every Sunday for a year, they have hosted a dinner party, inviting a friend over to have an open-minded discussion about whatever topics are of interest to everyone. On a dark and stormy night when Pete was supposed to bring a friend to one of those dinners, he comes home with Zachary Cody (Bill Paxton), who rescued the stranded Pete when his car broke down. They invite Zach to stay to dinner instead of Pete’s missing friend.

They soon find out that Zach is among other things a racist neo-Nazi, which brings up a potentially dangerous situation for Jewish Marc and black Luke. After some physical altercations and verbal threats, Marc ends up stabbing Zach dead out of what he considers self-defence. As the friends discuss what to do about Zach, they finally come to the conclusion that in killing Zach, they have done society a service. So they ponder “why not invite other people who are society’s scum and get rid of them once and for all?” Things get our of hand…

The film is a black comedy but it does raise the important issue of political extremism – far left or far right, it doesn’t matter as the two extremes meet on common ground! The basic premise of the film, “would people be justified in murdering someone if they knew he was evil?” is illustrated by the typical time travel scenario, where the five dinner hosts ponder the question  “If you could travel back in time, would you kill Hitler before he rose to power, to prevent the extermination of millions?” The question in their mind finally becomes easy to answer as their dinner guests one by one are disposed and buried in the garden giving bumper tomato crops.

As well as being a tolerable comedy, it is on the second, more philosophical level, that the film really succeeds. The liberals become intolerant killers, revealing the dangers of political correctness and the very real possibility of a left-wing police state in which alternative views are crushed in the name liberal values… The liberals become as “evil” as the rednecks they are dispatching into the next world.

The acting is good, although some of the (now famous) actors were just starting their acting career then. It has a poppy sound track and good settings and overall it was a cerebral, subversive, intelligent, and thought-provoking comedy. Well worth watching if ti comes your way.

And by the way, if you could time travel, would you go back and kill baby Hitler?...

Sunday 16 October 2016


“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” - Aristotle Onassis

For Art Sunday today, Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903), one of the foremost French impressionist painters of the 19th century. He was born on July 10th, in the Danish West Indies, the third son of a Jewish French merchant of originally Portuguese descent. When Camille was 12 years old, his parents sent him away to a school in Passy, near Paris. The young Pissarro showed an early talent for drawing, and he began to visit the collections of the Louvre.

At age 17 he returned to St. Thomas, where his father expected him to enter the family business. Young Camille, however, was more interested in sketching and painting and ran away to Venezuela. He returned to St. Thomas in August 1854 and after convincing his parents that he wanted to become an artist, he moved to Paris in 1855. Pissarro arrived in time to see the contemporary art on display at Paris’s Universal Exposition, where he was strongly attracted to the paintings of Camille Corot. He began to attend private classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1856, and in 1861 he registered as a copyist at the Louvre.

He also attended the Académie Suisse, a “free studio,” where he met future Impressionists Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Armand Guillaumin. Through Monet, he also met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Pissarro painted rural and urban French life, particularly landscapes in and around Pontoise, as well as scenes from Montmartre. His mature work displays an empathy for peasants and labourers, and sometimes evidence of his radical political leanings. He was a mentor to Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin and his example inspired many younger artists, including Californian Impressionist Lucy Bacon.

Pissarro’s influence on his fellow Impressionists is probably still underestimated; not only did he offer substantial contributions to Impressionist theory, but he also managed to remain on friendly, mutually respectful terms with such difficult personalities as Degas, Cézanne and Gauguin. Pissarro exhibited at all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions. Moreover, whereas Monet was the most prolific and emblematic practitioner of the Impressionist style, Pissarro was nonetheless a primary developer of Impressionist technique.

Whilst in Upper Norwood, Pissarro was introduced to Paul Durand-Ruel, the art dealer who overstocked a large amount of oil paintings for sale, who bought two of his ‘London’ paintings. Durand-Ruel subsequently became the most important art dealer of the new school of French Impressionism. Pissarro died in Paris on 13th November 1903 and was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery. During his lifetime, Camille Pissarro sold few of his canvas paintings. By 2005, however, some of his works were selling in the range of U.S. $2 to 4 million.

Here is his “L'Avant-port de Dieppe, après-midi, temps lumineux” of 1902. In the first years of the twentieth century, Pissarro took to painting urban landscapes in carefully selected series. The current work derives from one such series, depicting a view of the harbour at Dieppe. Pissarro returned to the town of Dieppe on the Normandy coast in the summer of 1902, where he had already painted several depictions of the church of Saint-Jacques the year before. This time he rented a room on the second floor of the Hôtel du Commerce, which looked out onto the fish market. From his room he could see the port and the inner harbour, and he painted several pictures of these views, of which the present work is a brilliant and sun-drenched example.

The weather that summer was splendid, and Pissarro, who was very enthusiastic about his surroundings, encouraged his son Lucien to join him there: “I have a first-rate motif, indeed I have several. It is really a pity that you can’t come to Dieppe this year, but perhaps you will be able to escape for a little while.” After passing through several prominent French collections, “L'Avant-port de Dieppe, après-midi, temps lumineux” was sold in an auction at Hôtel Drouot in 1938 and has been in the same family since that sale. This was then sold in 2012 in New York by Sotheby’s for 1,538,500 USD.