Wednesday, 26 October 2016


“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” - Dante Alighieri

The mid-week motif at Poets United this week is “Neutrality/Objectivity”. The challenge is to: “Create a new poem that explores one instance of neutrality or objectivity. Try NOT to be either neutral or objective.”
Here is mine:

The Sick Planet

No sense in sitting on the fence,
On this issue, nobody should be neutral.
The earth has need of us, now – 
There’s no time left to postpone decisions
That already should have been made.

No point in talking of superficial changes,
Shallow beautification is not the target;
Applying stop-gap measures, blindly
Will only cause problems to escalate.
Rebirth needs effort, pain and many sacrifices.

Let our inspiration be a new world
Rid of its poisons by audacious strategies.
Let the cathartic processes be drastic, let us renew,
Revive nature, rejuvenate the ailing planet,
Let’s give our children back their future.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


“The Mississippi River towns are comely, clean, well built, and pleasing to the eye, and cheering to the spirit. The Mississippi Valley is as reposeful as a dreamland, nothing worldly about it . . . nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.” ― Mark Twain

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.
St. Louis is an independent city and inland port in the U.S. state of Missouri. The city developed along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which forms Missouri’s border with Illinois. In 2010, St. Louis had a population of 319,294; a 2015 estimate put the population at 315,685, making it the 60th-most populous U.S. city and the second-largest city in Missouri after Kansas City. The St. Louis metropolitan area includes the city as well as nearby areas in Missouri and Illinois; with an estimated population of 2,916,447, it has the largest metropolitan area in Missouri and is the nineteenth largest in the United States.

St. Louis was founded in 1764 by fur traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, and named after Louis IX of France. Claimed first by the French, who settled mostly east of the Mississippi River, the region in which the city stands was ceded to Spain following France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War. Its territory east of the Mississippi was ceded to the Kingdom of Great Britain, the victor. The area of present-day Missouri was part of Spanish Louisiana from 1762 until 1803; the French persuaded King Charles IV of Spain to cede Louisiana back to France in 1800, but the Spanish continued as administrators of the territory until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

After the United States acquired this territory in the Louisiana Purchase, St. Louis developed as a major port on the Mississippi River. In the late-19th century, St. Louis was ranked as the fourth-largest city in the United States. It separated from St. Louis County in 1877, becoming an independent city and limiting its own political boundaries. In 1904, it hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the Summer Olympics. Immigration has increased, and the city is the centre of the largest Bosnian population in the world outside their homeland.

The economy of metro St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. Its metro area is home to major corporations, including Anheuser-Busch, Express Scripts, Centene, Boeing Defense, Emerson, Energizer, Panera, Enterprise, Peabody Energy, Ameren, Ralcorp, Monsanto, Scottrade, Edward Jones, Go Jet, Purina and Sigma-Aldrich. This city has also become known for a growing medical, pharmaceutical and research city. St. Louis has two professional sports teams: the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball and the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League. The city is commonly identified with the 192 m tall Gateway Arch in Downtown St. Louis.

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

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Sunday, 23 October 2016


“The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere - in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. No one would desire not to be beautiful. When we experience the beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming.” - John O’Donohue

Théodore Rousseau (in full Pierre-Étienne-Théodore Rousseau) was born April 15, 1812, Paris, France and died December 22, 1867, Barbizon, was a French painter who was a leader of the Barbizon school of landscape painters. His direct observation of nature made him an important figure in the development of landscape painting.

Rousseau, the son of a tailor, began to paint at age 14. In the 1820s he began to paint out-of-doors directly from nature, a novel procedure at that time. Although his teachers were in the Neoclassical tradition, Rousseau based his style on extensive study of the 17th-century Dutch landscape painters and the work of such English contemporaries as Richard Parkes Bonington and John Constable.

His early landscapes portray nature as a wild and undisciplined force and gained the admiration of many of France’s leading Romantic painters and writers. In 1831 Rousseau began to exhibit regularly at the French Salon. But in 1836 his “Descent of the Cattle” (c. 1834) was rejected by the jury, as were all his entries during the next seven years. Despite the Salon’s censure, his reputation continued to grow.

Rousseau first visited the Fontainebleau area in 1833 and, in the following decade, finally settled in the village of Barbizon, where he worked with a group of landscape painters, including Jean-François Millet, Jules Dupré, Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de La Peña, and Charles-François Daubigny. Their artistic goals were similar, and they became known collectively as the Barbizon school. During this period Rousseau produced such tranquil pastorals as “Under the Birches, Evening” (1842–44), reflecting the influence of Constable.

After the Revolution of 1848, the Salon briefly relaxed its standards, and Rousseau finally received official recognition as a major figure in French landscape painting. His works were well represented in the Universal Exposition of 1855, and he became president of the fine-arts jury for the Universal Exposition of 1867. Rousseau’s paintings represent in part a reaction against the calmly idealised landscapes of Neoclassicism. His small, highly textured brushstrokes presaged those of the Impressionists.

Rousseau’s paintings are always grave in character, with an air of exquisite melancholy. They are well finished when they profess to be completed pictures, but Rousseau spent so much time developing his subjects that his absolutely completed works are comparatively few. He left many canvases with parts of the picture realised in detail and with the remainder somewhat vague; and also a good number of sketches and water-colour drawings. His pen work in monochrome on paper is rare. There are a number of good pictures by him in the Louvre, and the Wallace collection contains one of his most important Barbizon pictures. There is also an example in the Ionides collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

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.

Saturday, 15 October 2016


“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” - Abraham Maslow

Eustache du Caurroy (baptised February 4, 1549 – August 7, 1609) was a French composer of the late Renaissance. He was a prominent composer of both secular and sacred music at the end of the Renaissance, including musique mesurée, and he was also influential on the foundation of the French school of organ music as exemplified in the work of Jean Titelouze.

According to Jean-Benjamin de La Borde, writing in 1780, Du Caurroy was born in Gerberoy and was baptised in Beauvais. He probably entered royal service around 1569, and in 1575 is first mentioned in documents from the royal court, when he won a song competition. He was to win two more, in 1576 and 1583, for a motet and a chanson respectively. He became sous-maître de la chapelle royale, a post that he held until 1595, at which time he was appointed to be official composer of the royal chamber; in 1599 he also acquired the post of composer at the royal chapel.

Du Caurroy accumulated wealth and honours in the first decade of the 17th century, including benefices and a large estate in Picardy. In his late years he also held the post of canon at several churches, including Sainte-Croix in Orléans, Sainte-Chapelle in Dijon, as well as others in Passy and Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg.

Du Caurroy was a late practitioner of the style of musique mesurée, the musical method of setting French verse (vers mesurés) in long and short syllables, to long and short note values, in a homophonic texture, as pioneered by Claude Le Jeune under the influence of Jean-Antoine de Baïf and his Académie de musique et de poésie. Many of Du Caurroy’s chansons written in this style were not published until 1609, long after the disbanding of the Académie, and they contrast significantly with his otherwise more conservative musical output. According to Du Caurroy, he was initially hostile to writing in the style, but was so moved by a performance of a composition of Le Jeune’s, a pseaume mesuré sung by a hundred voices, that he wanted to attempt it himself.

Du Caurroy was primarily interested in counterpoint, and was widely read in the theoretical work of the time, including that of Gioseffe Zarlino, who provided the best available summation of the contrapuntal practice in the 16th century. His contrapuntal interest is best shown in his sacred music, of which the largest collection is the two volumes of motets, 53 in all, entitled Preces ecclesiasticae, published in Paris in 1609. They are from 3 to 7 voices. His Missa pro defunctis, first performed at the funeral of Henry IV of France, was the requiem mass which was played at St. Denis for the funerals of French kings for the next several centuries. It is a long composition containing the Libera me responsory, the chant for which is similar to the famous Dies Irae. Du Caurroy also used the musique mesurée technique in his sacred compositions, including seven psalm settings, published in his Meslanges (Paris, posthumously, 1610): One is in Latin, one of the few examples of a musique mesurée setting in a language other than French.

Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie universelle contains a setting by Du Caurroy of Pie Jesu, which is a canon for six voices. In this same book, Mersenne held that Du Caurroy was the finest composer of musique mesurée, outranking even the renowned Claude Le Jeune. Du Caurroy also wrote instrumental music, including contrapuntal fantasies for three to six instruments. The collection of 42 such pieces, published posthumously in 1610, is considered to be a strong influence on the next generation of French keyboard players, especially Jean Titelouze, the founder of the French organ school.

Here is Du Caurroy’s “Vingtcinquiesme Fantasie. A Quatre (sur le Seigneur dès qu’on nous offense)” interpreted by Jordi Savall and Hesperion XX.


Friday, 14 October 2016


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” - J. R. R. Tolkien

This is a recipe I found in an old family notebook, with the recipe written down by my grandmother. There is a note beside it saying: “Natasha’s recipe”. Pirozhki (Russian: пирожки, plural form of pirozhok, literally a “small pie”), also transliterated as piroshki (singular piroshok) or pyrizhky (Ukrainian: пиріжки), is a generic word for individual-sized baked or fried buns stuffed with a variety of fillings. The stress in pirozhki is properly placed on the last syllable. Pirozhok (пирожок, singular) is the diminutive form of the Russian pirog (пирог), which refers to a full-sized pie.

Ingredients – Dough
7 g (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1 cup warm milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
≈500-600 g plain flour
Vegetable oil to deep fry
Ingredients – filling
Canned cocktail sausages, and/or
Freshly mashed potato with chopped dill, and/or
Chicken liver pate, and/or
Sauteéd mushrooms

Dissolve the yeast, sugar and a pinch of salt in the warm water, stir well and add a handful of flour to make a gruel. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise.
Once risen, add the warm milk, the remaining salt, the butter, the egg and mix well.
Add the flour little by little, to form a soft, slightly sticky dough (you may add more or less flour to achieve this). Knead well. Cover and leave in a warm place to double in bulk.
Once risen, punch down and knead. You may use a little oil on your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick. Take a little dough and make a ball about 4 cm in diameter. Roll in a little flour and set on a tray. Make more of these balls until the dough is used up. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 10-15 minutes.
Once risen take each ball and flatten it out with your hand to make a disc about 7 cm in diameter. Put the filling of your choice in the middle, wrap the dough around it and shape with your hands to make a small cylindrical package.
The fillings can be varied and may be vegetarian or with meat. Traditionally we have made them with tiny cocktail frankfurters but I have also liked them with a mashed  potato, herb and cheese filling. Friends of ours also make them with a sweet, berry fruit filling and dust them with icing sugar.
Deep fry the piroshky until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

Thursday, 13 October 2016


“Gleaming skin; a plump elongated shape: The eggplant is a vegetable you’d want to caress with your eyes and fingers, even if you didn’t know its luscious flavour.” - Roger Vergé

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), or aubergine, is a species of nightshade grown for its edible fruit. Eggplant is the common name in North America and Australia, but British English uses aubergine. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal. Other common names are melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash. The fruit is widely used in cooking. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum, probably with two independent domestications, one in South Asia and one in East Asia.

The eggplant is a delicate, sub-tropical to tropical perennial often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates. The stem is often spiny. The flower is white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The egg-shaped glossy purple fruit has white flesh with a meaty texture. The cut surface of the flesh rapidly turns brown when the fruit is cut open. It grows 40 to 150 cm tall, with large, coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm long and 5 to 10 cm broad. Semi-wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm with large leaves over 30 cm long and 15 cm broad. On wild plants, the fruit is less than 3 cm in diameter, but much larger in cultivated forms: 30 cm or more in length. Botanically classified as a berry, the fruit contains numerous small, soft seeds that, though edible, taste bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids like the related tobacco.

The plant species originated in cultivation. It has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory. The first known written record of the plant is found in Qimin Yaoshu , an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544 AD. The numerous Arabic and North African names for it, along with the lack of the ancient Greek and Roman names, indicate it was introduced throughout the Mediterranean area by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages. A book on agriculture by Ibn Al-Awwam in 12th century Arabic Spain described how to grow aubergines. There are records from later medieval Catalan and Spanish. The aubergine is unrecorded in England until the 16th century. An English botany book in 1597 stated: “This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere... bringing forth fruit of the bigness of a great cucumber.... We have had the same in our London gardens, where it hath borne flowers, but the winter approaching before the time of ripening, it perished: nothwithstanding it came to bear fruit of the bigness of a goose egg one extraordinary temperate year... but never to the full ripeness.”

Because of the plant’s relationship with other nightshades, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely poisonous. The flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine. The eggplant has a special place in folklore. In 13th century Italian traditional folklore, the eggplant was said to cause insanity. In 19th century Egypt, it was said that insanity was “more common and more violent” when the eggplant is in season in the summer. The Italian name is “melanzana” related to “mela insana” (crazy apple).

Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape, and colour, though typically purple. The most widely cultivated varieties/cultivars in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 12–25 cm long and 6–9 cm broad with a dark purple skin. A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colours is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties weighing up to a kilogram grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colours vary from white to yellow or green, as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a colour gradient—white at the stem; to bright pink, deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars with white striping also exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and are sometimes mistakenly called Japanese eggplants in North America. But there are also Asian varieties of Japanese breeding.

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, or even an astringent quality, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavour. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining the sliced fruit (a process known as “degorging”) to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties (including large purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe) do not need this treatment. Eggplant is used in the cuisines of many countries. Eggplant, due to its texture and bulk, is sometimes used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cuisine. The fruit flesh is smooth, as in the related tomato. The numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible. It is said that eggplant can be cooked in 999 different ways!

In the language of flowers, when a bouquet contains a sprig of flowering eggplant, beware! The giver is saying “I want to marry you for your money!”.

Some eggplant recipes can be found here:

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


“There are people who have money and there are people who are rich.” Coco Chanel

The subject of Wealth is today’s topic at Poets United. The challenge is to write a poem about wealth, whatever wealth means to us. Here is mine:

As Time Passes

As time passes, I remember how:
We used to share a single bed
And laugh as we squeezed so close together
That our breaths would synchronise
And our hearts would beat in syntony,
As each heartbeat would fall into the other.

As time passes, I remember how:
Our hands would clasp each other
And through the sense of touch our souls
Would mingle through the skin;
And our chemistries would share reactions
In the test tubes of our sweaty palms.

As time passes, I remember how:
We would share a simple meal
And the food was made delicious
As we poured happiness on it –
Better than the richest sauce,
Our joy a condiment better than the rarest spice.

As time passes, I remember how:
Our lips would thirst for kisses ceaselessly
And our mingling breaths would communicate
Our innermost desires, our thoughts, our hopes…
Our eyes, though closed, would clearly
See into the depths of each other’s soul and share our boundless wealth.

Now, we share the broad expanse of a large gilt bed
And touching is rarely anything but accidental.

Now, our hands may hold each other every once in a while,
But our dry palms are places too arid for the excursions of our souls.

Now, every meal a rich repast: Caviar, truffles, champagne…
But we may as well be eating cardboard.

Now, our lips are locked closed, imprisoning our souls,
And our eyes wide open, barely acknowledging each other’s presence
When circumstances would have us pretend to kiss…

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


“On many accounts, Cornwall may be regarded as one of the most interesting counties of England, whether we regard it for its coast scenery, its products, or its antiquities.” - Sabine Baring-Gould

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.
Cornwall (Cornish: Kernow) is a ceremonial county and unitary authority area of England within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of 536,000 and covers an area of 3,563 km2. The administrative centre, and only city in Cornwall, is Truro, although the town of Falmouth has the largest population for a civil parish and the conurbation of Camborne, Pool and Redruth has the highest total population. Cornwall is the homeland of the Cornish people and is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, retaining a distinct cultural identity that reflects its history.

Looe (Cornish: Logh, meaning deep water inlet) is a small coastal town, fishing port and civil parish in the former Caradon district of south-east Cornwall, UK, with a population of 5,280 at recent census (2001 & 2011 census). The two electoral wards mentioning Looe but also including Polperro had a total population of 7,117 at the 2011 census.

The town of Looe is approximately 32 km west of the city of Plymouth and 11 km south of Liskeard. and is divided in two by the River Looe, East Looe and West Looe (Cornish: Porthbyhan, meaning Little Cove) being connected by a bridge. The town centres around a small harbour and along the steep-sided valley of the River Looe which flows between East and West Looe to the sea beside a sandy beach. Off shore to the west, opposite the stonier Hannafore Beach, lies the idyllic St George’s Island, otherwise known as Looe Island.

Looe’s main business today is tourism, with much of the town given over to hotels, guest houses and holiday homes, along with a large number of pubs, restaurants and beach equipment, ice cream and Cornish pasty vendors. Inland from Looe lie many camping and caravan sites, as well as the famous Woolly Monkey Sanctuary. Other local attractions include the beaches, sailing, fishing and diving, and spectacular coastal walks (especially via Talland to Polperro).

South East Cornwall boasts several stately homes, including Antony House, Cotehele, Mount Edgcumbe and Lanhydrock House, as well as the Eden Project near St Austell which tourists can access by road. Outside the busy summer months, the town remains a centre for shopping and entertainment for local villagers. Annually in late September, the town is the destination of choice for thousands of music lovers and top name performers for the Looe Music Festival, which takes place in temporary venues around the town, harbour and on East Looe beach.

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

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