Saturday, 18 January 2014


“For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.” - William Penn

For Music Saturday, the “Requiem” by Gabriel Fauré. Gabriel Fauré, in full Gabriel-Urbain Fauré   (born May 12, 1845, Pamiers, Ariège, France—died Nov. 4, 1924, Paris), was a composer whose refined and gentle music influenced the course of modern French music. Fauré’s musical abilities became apparent at an early age. When the Swiss composer and teacher Louis Niedermeyer heard the boy, he immediately accepted him as a pupil. Fauré studied piano with Camille Saint-Saëns, who introduced him to the music of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. While still a student, Fauré published his first composition, a work for piano, Trois romances sans paroles (1863).

In 1896 he was appointed church organist at the church of La Madeleine in Paris and professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory. In 1905 he succeeded Théodore Dubois as director of the conservatory, and he remained in office until ill health and deafness forced him to resign in 1920. Among his students were Maurice Ravel, Georges Enesco, and Nadia Boulanger.

Fauré excelled not only as a songwriter of great refinement and sensitivity but also as a composer in every branch of chamber music. He wrote more than 100 songs, including “Après un rêve” (c. 1865) and “Les Roses d’Ispahan” (1884), and song cycles that included La Bonne Chanson (1891–92) and L’Horizon chimérique (1922). He enriched the literature of the piano with a number of highly original and exquisitely wrought works, of which his 13 nocturnes, 13 barcaroles, and 5 impromptus are perhaps the most representative and best known.

Fauré’s Ballade for piano and orchestra (1881; originally arranged for solo piano, 1877–79), two sonatas for violin and piano, and Berceuse for violin and piano (1880) are among other popular works. Élégie for cello and piano (1880; arranged for orchestra, 1896), and two sonatas for cello and piano, as well as chamber pieces, are frequently performed and recorded.

Fauré was not especially attracted to the theatre, but he wrote incidental music for several plays, including Maurice Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande (1898), as well as two lyric dramas, Prométhée (1900) and Pénélope (1913). Among his few works written for the orchestra alone is Masques et bergamasques (1919). The Messe de requiem for solo voices, chorus, orchestra, and organ (1887) did not gain immediate popularity, but it has since become one of Fauré’s most frequently performed works.

Although he had deep respect for the traditional forms of music, Fauré delighted in infusing those forms with a mélange of harmonic daring and a freshness of invention. One of the most striking features of his style was his fondness for daring harmonic progressions and sudden modulations, invariably carried out with supreme elegance and a deceptive air of simplicity. His quiet and unspectacular revolution prepared the way for more sensational innovations by the modern French school.

Here is the Requiem, with Victoria de los Angeles, soprano; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire; André Cluytens; conductor, recorded in 1963.
Introit et Kyrie
Pie Jesu
Agnus Dei
Libera me
In Paradisum

Friday, 17 January 2014


“One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.” - Thomas Fuller

The last of the grapefruit are hanging on our tree in the back yard and they are deliciously sweet and ripe, just as the new, small green ones are beginning to grow. With the heat, we have been enjoying them as a simple and refreshing dessert.



4 grapefruit (may use pink or yellow, one for each person)
2 fruit yoghurt (each 100 g), citrus flavour
4 dessertspoonfuls of gin
4 dashes of angostura bitters
1 pomegranate, seeded, for decoration (if desired)

Segment the grapefruit according to the instructions here:

Put the grapefruit segments in a bowl and drizzle them with the gin and bitters. Mix gently and put in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.

When ready to serve, put 50 g of yoghurt in each serving bowl, add the grapefruit segments and garnish with pomegranate seeds (if desired).

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

Thursday, 16 January 2014


“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.” - Benjamin Franklin

The anniversary of the birth of:
André Michelin
, French first tyre mass producer (1853);
Edward Gordon Craig
, theatre designer (1872);
Robert Service
, poet (1874);
Laura Riding
, poet (1901);
Diana Wynyard
, actress (1906);
Alexander Knox
, actor (1907);
Ethel Merman
(Zimmerman), actress/singer (1909);
William Kennedy
, writer (1930);
Susan Sontag
, writer (1933);
Marilyn Horne
, US opera singer (1934);
, singer (1960).

The plant for today’s birthdays is yarrow, Achillea millefolium.  The herb is named after Achilles, the ancient Greek hero who fought in the Trojan War.  When the Greeks landed near Troy, some Trojans, led by Telephus, one of King Priam’s sons-in-law tried to stop the Greeks.  Achilles wounded Telephus with his spear, helped by Dionysus, god of wine.  Telephus had been told by an oracle that Achilles would both wound and cure him. He promised Achilles to lead the Greeks to Troy if only he would cure his wound. Achilles scraped rust from his spear and applied it to Telephus’s wound. The filings from the spear fell to the ground and yarrow sprang from them.

Yarrow symbolises heartache and cure.  Astrologically, this is a herb of Venus.  An older name of the herb is Venus-tree and several love oracles are based on this plant.  It was said that if the stem was cut across the initials of one’s future husband would appear.  An ounce of yarrow wrapped in a piece of yellow flannel and placed under one’s pillow would enable one to dream of one’s future spouse.  Eating yarrow at a wedding feast, ensured that the bridal couple would love one another for seven years.

The Greek Orthodox Church today venerates the Chains of St Peter the Apostle. The Veneration of the Honourable Chains of the Holy and All-Praised Apostle Peter relates to the following: In about the year AD 42, on the orders of Herod Agrippa, the Apostle Peter was thrown into prison for preaching about Christ the Saviour. In prison he was held secure by two iron chains. During the night before his trial, an angel of the Lord removed these chains from the Apostle Peter and led him out from the prison (Acts 12:1-11).

Christians who learned of the miracle took the chains and kept them as precious keepsakes. For three centuries the chains were kept in Jerusalem, and those afflicted with illness and approached them with faith received healing. Patriarch Juvenal (July 2) presented the chains to Eudokia, wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, and she in turn transferred them from Jerusalem to Constantinople in either the year AD 437 or 439.

Eudokia sent one chain to Rome to her daughter Eudoxia (the wife of Valentinian), who built a church on the Esquiline hill dedicated to the Apostle Peter and placed the chain in it. There were other chains in Rome, with which the Apostle Peter was shackled before his martyrdom under the emperor Nero. These were also placed in the church. On January 16, the chains of St Peter are brought out for public veneration.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” - Steven Wright

Presently in Southern Australia we are experiencing an extreme heat wave. Melbourne is set to sizzle through 44˚C on Thursday as temperatures are on course to peak above 40˚C for four consecutive days for the first time in 100 years. On Friday the temperature is predicted to rise to 42˚C before a cool change in the evening. I went out briefly today and it was quite unpleasant.

Extreme heat causes more deaths in Australia than floods, cyclones, and lightning combined. Children, the elderly, people who have certain medical conditions, and people who spend time outside have the greatest risk of suffering from heat exposure. However, getting overheated can cause high body temperatures, brain damage, organ damage, and death in anyone, not forgetting pets and household animals.

It pays to take steps to protect yourself and your family from heat-related disorders:
  • Stay inside, especially between 10 am and 5 pm, which is the hottest part of the day.
  • Stay in air conditioned rooms.
  • Dodo not leave pets outside for extended periods and if possible take them with you in air conditioned rooms. Ensure you provide enough drinking water for your pets.
  • Walk dogs only for short periods and do so in the cooler parts of the day (early morning, evening and night).
  • If you must be outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and ensure you put on sunscreen.
  • Dress in breathable, light clothing.
  • Use lightweight, breathable covers when sleeping.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, carbonated beverages, and caffeinated beverages that can dehydrate you.
  • Drink plenty of water, iced tea and fruit juices.
  • Close your blinds and curtains to block the sun and heat during the day.
  • Exercise in an air-conditioned gym or exercise early in the morning or in the evening once it is cooler outside.
  • Supervise children playing outside and ensure they often are drinking cold water.
  • Visit your community swimming pool to cool off.
  • Remember that car seats and metal clasps for seatbelts can reach temperatures high enough to cause a burn. Avoid driving, especially if your car is not air-conditioned.
If your home is not air conditioned, consider going to a public place which is air-conditioned (shopping centres, public libraries, local council rooms that may be made available). Otherwise, at home:
  • Stay downstairs or in your basement where it is coolest.
  • Keep pets with you in cool locations.
  • Use a fan and position it to blow in the room and out a window instead of from outside to inside.
  • Avoid using your oven and stove; use small appliances such as slow cookers and tabletop grills.
  • Eat cool meals such as cold soups, salads, and fruit.
  • Drink iced water and other cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Never leave children, pets, or people in a car on a warm or hot day!
  • Check on older, vulnerable family members and friends on hot summer days.
  • See your doctor immediately if you have cramps, become nauseous, or you start to vomit.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


“The story of life is quicker then the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” - Jimi Hendrix

Poetry Jam this week is influenced by the cold weather that has paralysed Northern America over the past few days. "The challenge this week, is the word refrigerate and/or refrigerators. How can you use the word refrigerate loosely in a poem?"
Here is my poem:

Les Adieux

Fusing cascades of raindrops
Make of the window a distorting lens,
And I behind it look
At fractured, ever-changing images
Refracted, strangely broken and re-melded
As if through weeping eyes beheld.

The sombre, sober colours
Of winter’s limited palétte
Run, mix and separate again
Through my prismatic window.
Each hue with purest liquid mixed
Becomes translucent,
Each raindrop a note of colour in a chromatic fantasy.

Smelling of citrus tang
In wan, short, wintry afternoon,
The sun, tart, like an unripe orange
Appears, shines dully on wet cobblestones
And every lemon, yellow-green is its reflection
Shattered as it were
By every raindrop clinging to the window glass.

The ailing sun swathed
In sheets of leaf-green clouds
Expires, leaving a mauve remembrance
Heir to the cold starry realm of night.
Frigid, relentless, old mistress of silence,
Moon Lady rises, killing
Even the memory of sun with a refrigerated kiss.

Shining stabs of light
The stars rend the frozen atmosphere
And penetrate the window pane,
Burning their starlight tracks on my transfixed gaze.
Winter comes early this year
And Spring long gone and well away –
Unlike her, nevermore will you return.

Monday, 13 January 2014


“My invention, (the motion picture camera), can be exploited... as a scientific curiosity, but apart from that it has no commercial value whatsoever.” - Auguste Lumière

The Golden Globe Award is an American tribute bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recognising excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign. The annual formal ceremony and dinner at which the awards are presented is a major part of the film industry’s awards season, which culminates each year with the Academy Awards. The 71st Golden Globe Awards, honouring the best in film and television for 2013, were presented on January 12, 2014, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, where they have been held annually since 1961.

The awards originated in 1943 when a group of writers banded together to form the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and created a generously distributed award called the Golden Globe Award. The first Golden Globe Awards, honouring the best achievements in 1943 filmmaking, were held late in January 1944, at the 20th Century-Fox studios. Subsequent ceremonies were held at various venues throughout the next decade, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Profits from the annual ceremony have enabled the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to donate millions of dollars to entertainment-related charities, as well as funding scholarships and other programs for future film and television professionals. The most prominent beneficiary is the Young Artist Awards, presented annually by the Young Artist Foundation, established in 1978 by late Hollywood Foreign Press member, Maureen Dragone to recognize and award excellence of young Hollywood performers under the age of 21, and to provide scholarships for young artists who may be physically and/or financially challenged

The Golden Globe Awards are as follows:
Motion picture awards

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Best Director
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Best Screenplay
Best Original Score
Best Original Song
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature Film (since 2006)
Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures

Television awards Awarded since 1956
Best Drama Series
Best Comedy Series
Best Actor in a Television Drama Series
Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series
Best Actress in a Television Drama Series
Best Actress in a Television Comedy Series
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television
Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television
Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television

In terms of the winners for the best movies this year, the best drama movie winner was 12 Years a Slave which concerns the true story of Solomon Northup. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. I certainly look forward to seeing this movie.

The best comedy or musical movie winner was American Hustle. This is a fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock the USA. American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. This one is less appealing to me.

The best foreign language film award went to the Italian film The Great Beauty. It concerns journalist Jep Gambardella, who has charmed and seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades. Since the legendary success of his one and only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city's literary and social circles, but when his sixty-fifth birthday coincides with a shock from the past, Jep finds himself unexpectedly taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the extravagant nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome in all its glory: A timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. This one I shall definitely have to watch!

In terms of best director, the honour goes to Alfonso Cuarón for the film “Gravity” a science fiction flick, which tells of medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space. This one I would like to watch also.

The full list of awards can be seen on the HFPA site. Now that the buzz is over for the Golden Globes, the film industry is anticipating the Oscars, which may come up with a few surprise winners this year.


“A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef.” - Navjot Singh Sidhu

“La Jument, off the coast of Brittany”, a photograph by Jean Guichard, is this week’s visual stimulus to followers of her blog for all sorts of creative writing pieces, as hosted by Magpie Tales. Here is my offering:


To stand firm,
While all around me wild storms rage,
When furious winds make oceans roil,
That is my purpose.

To send out light,
While darkest night quickly falls,
When even hope drowns in inky blackness,
That is my role.

To sound my horn,
While fog rolls in, enveloping all in cottonwool stillness,
When clouds come down to drown in stormy seas,
That is my function.

To be there,
While all betray you, and you feel unloved,
When none it seems has need of you, none wants you,
That is my reason for existence.

To be steadfast,
When all is lost, when you’re deserted,
While night falls and stars are all extinguished:
My love, a lighthouse steadfast,
There for you – a safe haven in stormy seas.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” - Khalil Gibran
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca 1520 – 1569) was a South-Netherlandish painter and father of Jan Bruegel. His contemporaries dub him 'Boeren-Bruegel' (Farmer-Bruegel) for his skilful sketches of country-life, a nickname that does not do justice to either his work or his talent. In addition to the famed ‘Wedding’ and ‘Kermis’ paintings, Bruegel creates landscapes, devout works and impressions of Hell in a confident and expressive style with great flair for composition and space. Much of his work is clearly inspired by Jeroen Bosch. What is unusual about his religious work is the setting: The landscape and figures in many of his works are Flemish, not Middle Eastern, and Saul’s conversion takes place in the Alps – most likely a remnant of Bruegel’s most recent trip to Italy.
Bruegel was probably born in the village of Brogel (also: Breugel or Brugel) in the Kempen. Until 1550 he studied with Pieter Coecke. In 1552-1553 he travelled to Italy, where he was introduced to the works of, among others, Michelangelo. For the development of his style, the landscapes he painted on the way were of greater significance than the impressions Italy made on him. Once back in Antwerp and after his marriage to his tutor’s daughter (1563) he settled in Brussels, where he died in 1569. He signs his work as ‘Brueghel’ until 1559. Later he leaves out the H, and signs as ‘Bruegel’.
The 1564 painting above is “The Procession to Calvary”, painted on wood, 124x170cm. This is the second-largest known painting by Bruegel. It is one of sixteen paintings by him which are listed in the inventory of the wealthy Antwerp collector, Niclaes Jonghelinck, drawn up in 1566. It was Jonghelinck who commissioned ‘The Months’ from Bruegel and he may also have commissioned this work. Jonghelinck’s Bruegels passed into the possession of the city of Antwerp in the year in which the inventory was made. In 1604 it was recorded in the Prague collections of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, then transferred to Vienna, and in 1809 (until 1815) in Paris, requisitioned by Napoleon Bonaparte as part of his war booty.
For Bruegel the composition is unusually traditional. Perhaps because he was treating such a solemn religious event, he adopted a well-known scheme, used previously by the Brunswick Monogrammist and Bruegel’s Antwerp contemporary, Pieter Aertsen. Christ’s insignificance among the crowds is a familiar device of mannerist painting (it recurs in the ‘Preaching of John the Baptist’, as well as ‘The Conversion of Paul’), as is the artificial placing of Mary and her companions in a rocky foreground, which is deliberately distanced from the dramatic events taking place behind them.
The procession to Calvary comes to a dead halt when Jesus collapses under the weight of the Cross (centre). Calvary is a different name for the Golgotha hill. To the right in the foreground a small mournful crowd has gathered around Mary and John the Evangelist. The composition consisting of several small groups vaguely calls to mind the work of Jan van Eyck. The landscape is more Flemish than Palestinian - if it wasn’t for the strange mountain the windmill stands on. Some think Bruegel may have tried to compare Flanders and Palestine: Flanders was governed by Spain, and Palestine was occupied by the Romans. Both were aspiring for freedom. In 2011 a motion picture premiered about this painting: “The Mill and the Cross”.