Saturday 27 May 2017


“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” - Bruce Feirstein 

Sebastian Bodinus (ca. 1700 – 19 March 1759) was a German composer about whom very little is known. Bodinus was born in the village of Bittstädt in Saxe-Gotha and trained as a violinist. It is known that in 1718 he entered the service of the Margrave Karl III of Baden-Durlach at the court in Karlsruhe. Bodinus worked elsewhere but always returned to Karlsruhe and was concertmaster there for two periods.

He left Karlsruhe in 1752, returned in a disoriented state in 1758 and was committed to an insane asylum in Pforzheim where he died. His compositions include concertos and symphonies but there are predominantly chamber works in the late Baroque style, including not only solo and trio sonatas but also quartets, a considerable rarity at the time he composed them in the 1720s and 1730s. Of his quartets it has been said that this “minor master appears to have written first-rate music.”

Here are his “Divertissements” played by Camerata Köln:
1. Siciliana En Pastoral
2. Adagio
3. Giga, Allegro
4. Allegro Assai
5. Adagio Ma Un Poco
6. Giga, Presto/Allegromente
7. Allegromente
8. Adagio
9. Presto
10. Allegro
11. Adagio
12. Allegro
13. Presto
14. Adagio Un Poco
15. Allegro
16. Adagio Ma Un Poco, Allegro
17. Andante E Non Adagio
18. Allegro

Friday 26 May 2017


“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” - Paul Theroux 

I love the cool, misty days of Autumn when afternoon sun comes out and shines warm, but quickly gives way to a rapidly falling night. Leaves turn yellow and fall, rain comes and goes, puddles shine like silver platters and soon, Winter shows up with cold, dark days when rain, sleet, snow and frost savour the season as if it were tossed in sea salt. Winter afternoons hanker for lots of fragrant, hot tea and a spicy, rich cake… Nothing like this wonderful fruit loaf, the recipe for which was given to us by a dear family friend, who unfortunately has passed away. She is remembered fondly.

Fruit Loaf for Afternoon Tea

150 g dried apricots
150 g pitted dates
100 g dried figs
100 g sultanas
100 g mixed candied peel
2 cups orange juice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups Self-Raising Flour
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Butter or mascarpone cheese, to serve (optional) 

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 7cm deep, 10cm x 21cm (base) loaf pan with baking paper.
Combine dried fruit and juice in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Stir in bicarbonate of soda. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Transfer fruit mixture to a bowl. Stir in honey, sugar and eggs. Sift flour and spices over fruit mixture. Stir gently to combine. Spoon into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Stand for 10 minutes in pan. Turn onto a wire rack to cool. Serve slices at room temperature or toasted, spread with butter or mascarpone cheese if desired.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday 24 May 2017


“You cannot eat apples planted from seeds. They must be grafted, cloned…” - Michael Pollan

I’ve had a break from Poets United for a few weeks as I have had to attend to several pressing work matters and these did not allow my mind to turn to poetry. As things slowly get back to normal, today’s theme of “Flowers” at Poets United inspired this, my offering for the Midweek Motif this week:

Spring Flowers

Looking at Spring flowers in the garden
Blooming recklessly in the cold wind,
Fulfilling with expediency their purpose,
Repaying in full the gardener’s ministrations,
Reminds me of their origin:

Hailing from some humble wild blossom,
Carefully cultivated for years on end;
Torn from the fickle hillside and grown under glass,
Long inbred, carefully tended, crossed –
So that each new generation breeds true.
Once pale and fresh but insignificant,
Now a gaudy, dazzling display of colour,
But lucklessly sterile…

As for their propagation,
They rely on cuttings,
And the gardener’s whimsical affection,
Their seeds but a distant,
Almost forgotten remembrance...

PS: "Double-flowered" describes varieties of flowers with extra petals, often containing flowers within flowers. The double-flowered trait is often noted alongside the scientific name with the abbreviation fl. pl. (flore pleno, a Latin ablative form meaning "with full flower"). The first abnormality to be documented in flowers, double flowers are popular varieties of many commercial flower types, including roses, camellias and carnations. In some double-flowered varieties all of the reproductive organs are converted to petals — as a result, they are sexually sterile and must be propagated through cuttings. Many double-flowered plants have little wildlife value as access to the nectaries is typically blocked by the mutation.

Tuesday 23 May 2017


“The only good thing that comes from the East is the sun.” - Portuguese Proverb 

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.  
The Azores (Portuguese: Açores), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (Região Autónoma dos Açores), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km west of continental Portugal, about 1,643 km west of Lisbon, in continental Portugal, about 1,507 km from the African coast, and about 1,925 km southeast of Newfoundland, Canada. Its main industries are agriculture, dairy farming, livestock, fishing, and tourism, which is becoming the major service activity in the region. In addition, the government of the Azores employs a large percentage of the population directly or indirectly in the service and tertiary sectors.

The main settlement of the Azores is Ponta Delgada. There are nine major Azorean islands and an islet cluster, in three main groups. These are Flores and Corvo, to the west; Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, and Faial in the centre; and São Miguel, Santa Maria, and the Formigas Reef to the east. They extend for more than 600 km and lie in a northwest-southeast direction. All the islands have volcanic origins, although some, such as Santa Maria, have had no recorded activity since the islands were settled. Mount Pico, on the island of Pico, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m. The Azores are actually some of the tallest mountains on the planet, measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean to their peaks, which thrust high above the surface of the Atlantic.

The climate of the Azores is very mild for such a northerly location, being influenced by its distance to continents and the passing Gulf Stream. Due to the marine influence, temperatures remain mild year-round. Daytime temperatures normally fluctuate between 16 °C and 25 °C depending on season. Temperatures above 30 °C or below 3 °C are unknown in the major population centres. It is also generally wet and cloudy. The culture, dialect, cuisine, and traditions of the Azorean islands vary considerably, because these once-uninhabited and remote islands were settled sporadically over a span of two centuries. 

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby 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 22 May 2017


“Egypt is a great place for contrasts: Splendid things gleam in the dust.” ― Gustave Flaubert 

Bes (also spelled as Bisu) and its feminine counterpart Beset are an Ancient Egyptian deity pair worshipped as protectors of households, and in particular, of mothers and children and childbirth. Bes later came to be regarded as the defender of everything good and the enemy of all that is bad.

While past studies identified Bes as a Middle Kingdom import from Nubia, more recent research indicates that he was present in Egypt since the start of Old Kingdom. Mentions of Bes can be traced to pre-dynastic Nile Valley cultures; however his cult did not become widespread until the beginning of the New Kingdom.

Images of the deity were kept in homes and he was depicted quite differently from the other gods. Normally Egyptian gods were shown in profile, but instead Bes appeared in portrait, ithyphallic, and sometimes in a soldier's tunic, so as to appear ready to launch an attack on any approaching evil. 

He scared away demons from houses, so his statue was put up as a protector. Bes was a household protector, throughout ancient Egyptian history becoming responsible for such varied tasks as killing snakes, fighting off evil spirits, watching after children, and aiding (by fighting off evil spirits) women in labour (and thus present with Taweret at births). 

Since he drove off evil, Bes also came to symbolise the good things in life - music, dance, and sexual pleasure. Later, in the Ptolemaic period of Egyptian history, chambers were constructed, painted with images of Bes and his wife Beset, thought by Egyptologists to have been for the purpose of curing fertility problems or general healing rituals.

Many instances of Bes masks and costumes from the New Kingdom and later have been uncovered. These show considerable wear, thought to be too great for occasional use at festivals, and are therefore thought to have been used by professional performers, or given out for rent. In the New Kingdom, tattoos of Bes could be found on the thighs of dancers, musicians and servant girls.

Like many Egyptian gods, the worship of Bes or Beset was exported overseas, and he, in particular, proved popular with the Phoenicians and the ancient Cypriots meanwhile she got popular in Minoan Crete. In the late 500s BC, images of Bes began to spread across the Persian Empire, which Egypt belonged to at the time. Images of Bes have been found at the Persian capital of Susa, and as far away as central Asia. Over time, the image of Bes became more Persian in style, as he was depicted wearing Persian clothes and headdress.

The Balearic island of Ibiza derives its actual name from this god, brought along with the first Phoenician settlers 654 BC. These settlers, amazed at the lack of any sort of venomous creatures on the island thought it to be the Island of Bes. Later Romans called it Ebusus.

Sunday 21 May 2017


“It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night.” - Friedrich Nietzsche  

Richard Gerstl (14 September 1883 – 4 November 1908) was an Austrian painter and draughtsman known for his expressive psychologically insightful portraits, his lack of critical acclaim during his lifetime, and his affair with the wife of Arnold Schoenberg which led to his suicide.

Richard Gerstl was born in a prosperous bourgeois family, Emil Gerstl, a Jewish merchant, and Maria Pfeiffer, non-Jewish woman. Early in his life, Gerstl decided to become an artist, much to the dismay of his father. After performing poorly in school and being forced to leave the famed Piaristengymnasium in Vienna as a result of “disciplinary difficulties”, his financially stable parents provided him with private tutors.

In 1898, at the age of fifteen, Gerstl was accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he studied under the notoriously opinionated and difficult Christian Griepenkerl. Gerstl began to reject the style of the Vienna Secession and what he felt was pretentious art. This eventually prompted his vocal professor to proclaim, “The way you paint, I piss in the snow!” Frustrated with the lack of acceptance of his non-secessionist painting style, Gerstl continued to paint without any formal guidance for two years.

During the summers of 1900 and 1901, Gerstl studied under the guidance of Simon Hollósy in Nagybánya. Inspired by the more liberal leanings of Heinrich Lefler, Gerstl once again attempted formal education. Unfortunately, his refusal to participate in a procession in honour of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria further ostracised him and led to his departure. Gerstl felt that taking part in such an event was “unworthy of an artist”. His final exit from Lefler’s studio took place in 1908.

In 1904 and 1905, Gerstl shared a studio with his former academy classmate and friend, Viktor Hammer. Although Hammer had assisted in Gerstl’s admittance to Lefler’s tutelage and their relationship was friendly, it is difficult to determine how close the two men were as Gerstl did not associate with other artists. Regardless of their personal feelings, by 1906, Gerstl had acquired his own studio.

Although Gerstl did not associate with other artists, he did feel drawn to the musically inclined; he himself frequented concerts in Vienna. Around 1907, he began to associate with composers Arnold Schoenberg and Alexander von Zemlinsky, who lived in the same building at the time. Gerstl and Schoenberg developed a mutual admiration based upon their individual talents. Gerstl apparently instructed Schoenberg in art.

During this time, Gerstl moved into a flat in the same house and painted several portraits of Schoenberg, his family, and his friends. These portraits also included paintings of Schoenberg’s wife Mathilde, Alban Berg and Zemlinsky. His highly stylised heads anticipated German expressionism and used pastels as in the works by Oskar Kokoschka. Gerstl and Mathilde became extremely close and, in the summer of 1908, she left her husband and children to travel to Vienna with Gerstl. Schoenberg was in the midst of composing his Second String Quartet, which he dedicated to her.

Mathilde rejoined her husband in October. Distraught by the loss of Mathilde, his isolation from his associates, and his lack of artistic acceptance, Gerstl entered his studio during the night of 4 November 1908 and apparently burned every letter and piece of paper he could find. Although many paintings survived the fire, it is believed that a great deal of his artwork as well as personal papers and letters were destroyed. Other than his paintings, only eight drawings are known to have survived unscathed.

Following the burning of his papers, Gerstl hanged himself in front of the studio mirror and somehow managed to stab himself as well. The incident had a significant impact on Arnold Schoenberg and his opera ‘Die Glückliche Hand’ is based on these events. After his suicide at the age of twenty-five, his family took the surviving paintings out of Gerstl’s studio and stored them in a warehouse until his brother Alois showed them to the art dealer Otto Kallir in 1930 or 1931.

Although Gerstl had never managed to mount an exhibition of his works during his lifetime, Kallir organised one at his Neue Galerie. Shortly afterward, the Nazi presence in Austria hindered the further acclaim of the artist and it was not until after the war that Gerstl became known in the United States. Sixty-six paintings and eight drawings attributed to Gerstl are known, although it is possible he destroyed many more or that others could have been lost over the years.

The painting above is a detail of a portrait of Arnold Schoenberg from 1905.