Saturday 3 March 2018


“A human being is only breath and shadow.” - Sophocles 

For Music Saturday a wonderful piece, surely one of the masterworks of the repertoire of sacred music. It is Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”.  Stabat Mater refers to a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary, variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III. The title of the sorrowful hymn is an incipit of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa (“The sorrowful mother stood”).

The Dolorosa hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Dolorosa has been set to music by many composers, with the most famous settings being those by Palestrina, Pergolesi, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Haydn, Rossini and Dvořák.

The Dolorosa was well known by the end of the fourteenth century and Georgius Stella wrote of its use in 1388, while other historians note its use later in the same century. In Provence, about 1399, it was used during the nine days processions. As a liturgical sequence, the Dolorosa was suppressed, along with hundreds of other sequences, by the Council of Trent, but restored to the missal by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. In his short life he managed to write some amazing music and one wonders what further marvellous works his genius would have been capable of had he lived longer.

Above is the Pietà,  a painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden dating from about 1441 held in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels.

Stabat Mater (1736) for soprano, contralto, strings and basso continuo by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) Margaret Marshall (soprano) Lucia Valentini Terrani (contralto) Leslie Pearson (organ) London Symohony Orchestra Claudio Abbado (conductor) Recorded in 1985.

Friday 2 March 2018


“Do you know the land where lemon trees are blooming,
Where in the dark foliage, the golden oranges glow?
A gentle wind blows from the blue sky,
The myrtle stands still and high is the laurel.
Do you know it? Go there! Go there!
May I go with you? O my beloved!” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

This is a cake we often have at home, especially if we are expecting company, or for special afternoon teas. It is quite simple to make and tastes lovely. We generally make our own almond meal, except when time does not permit, and we buy it from a very good nut shop in our neighbourhood where its freshness can assured. 

Almond and Orange Cake
2 medium thickness skin oranges (i.e. not too much pith)
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau)
3 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup caster sugar, extra
300g almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
Orange flower water
Icing sugar
Seville orange marmalade (optional) 

Preheat oven to 170° C and grease a 22cm round cake pan.
Take the whole oranges and carefully remove the zest superficially without damaging the integrity of the orange. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place whole zested oranges into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. Repeat. Refresh under cold water and drain.
Coarsely chop warm oranges and remove and discard the coarse stem, membranes and pips. Place into food processor and process until smooth, adding the liqueur in the last few moments.
Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Add processed orange mixture, almond meal and baking powder and gently fold until combined. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle with some orange flower water as soon as it is out of the oven and dust with icing sugar. Cool.
If desired, warm some marmalade and spoon over cake instead of the icing sugar.

Wednesday 28 February 2018


“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” - Abraham Lincoln 

This week, Poets United has as its theme “Carpe Diem”, a phrase taken from one of Horace’s odes, which incites us to seize the moment, take every opportunity presented to us and enjoy ourselves, for time flies… 

Carpe Diem 

“Carpe diem,” you said and boasted your classical education
By completing the quote: “…quam minimum credula postero.”, 
And not missing the opportunity to drive home my lack of Latin,
You translated it for me…
“Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow.” 

And I smiled, because I loved you and whatever you said
Was music to my ears, flammable fodder for the fire in my heart.
And I failed to heed the dire warning of the quote’s meaning
And the smirk on your face as you carefully drew out the Latin long vowels
And clipped the short ones… 

You were always one for seizing days (and nights moreover),
Taking each opportunity, like plucking a ripe juicy plum;
Mindless of the consequences, unthinking of tomorrow,
Using all and everyone as accessories of your momentary enjoyment
Mindless of the long-term pain you inflicted.

And I forgave you, as I gave you my all, because I loved you,
And my pleasure was to always ensure yours,
Giving you all the plums your heart desired,
Plucking all happiness and making your days worthy of being seized,
(And all the nights, moreover…)

Then came tomorrow and you left, deserted me,
Your only goodbye the hackneyed words by Horace:
“Carpe diem…” and you didn’t complete the quote this time,
As its ending was self evident from your actions –
Nor did you bother to grace me with long and short vowels… 

And I wept, because my understanding of ancient tragedy is deep,
Even though I lack a classical education.
And I cursed Horace and Epicurus and their ilk who fill people’s minds
With hedonistic platitudes (or so do shallow people interpret them);
And I bawled with long vowel “a’s” and screamed with short “e’s”,
Piling maledictions on you, and I trust that your tomorrow
Will make you pay dearly for every day you seized from me
(And every night, moreover).

Tuesday 27 February 2018


“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” - Buddha 

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. 
Borobudur, or Barabudur (Indonesian: Candi Borobudur) is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, and the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.

Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple design follows Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana. The temple demonstrates the influences of Gupta art that reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.

The monument is a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The pilgrim journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades.

Borobudur has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world. Evidence suggests Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians.

Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, followed by the monument’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur remains popular for pilgrimage. Once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.

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

Monday 26 February 2018


“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain 

Books I’ve read lately and enjoyed: 

Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Lesley Adkins and ‎ Roy A. Adkins
This is a detailed, scholarly work on every aspect of Roman daily life, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD. The chapters are arranged thematically and the information is organized methodically and lucidly. While it is a valuable reference work, I found reading through it quite enjoyable. 

Music A Very Short Introduction by Nicholas Cook
This was an interesting book on music/musicology written in an engaging way, which draws the reader into thinking about the nature of music in all of its numerous manifestations. While some of Cook’s analyses of topics and interpretations of musical styles and pieces are useful, obvious or even self-evident, others no doubt will be controversial and give rise to much cogitation in the mind of the reader. 

Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly
This is a “boy’s own adventure” style thriller with good measures of supernatural/fantasy, action and historical/mythological elements thrown in. Reilly is an Australian author who has written quite a few similar books in this genre and provides readers with thrills and escapism in what are easy to read and digest (and then excrete, I guess) novels.

This was a diverting read based on the following conceit: Around 4,500 years ago, the capstone upon the summit of the Great Pyramid of Giza absorbed the energy released by the Tartarus Rotation (a monstrous sunspot that occurs every 4,000-4,500 years), and saved the earth from major flooding and catastrophic weather. This capstone was later divided up by Alexander the Great with one piece hidden in a booby-trapped location within each of the other seven wonders of the world. If and when they are reunited and replaced on the capstone during another solar event, they can bring 1,000 years of peace or power for the nation that possesses them. The Tartarus rotation is about to recur and the search begins to reunite the fragmented capstone. Reilly’s derring-do hero Jack West Jr plays a central role in the novel.