Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I treated myself to some new music....

We spent the weekend in beautiful Melbourne; visited Docklands and tried some new restaurants. Yesterday, while DMJ was discussing things piscatorial with government, I spent the morning and most of the afternoon strolling, browsing interesting shops and treating myself to some CDs and sheet music.

I visited my favourite haunt, Thomas' Music, established in 1922. They are the classical specialists and the staff there are so helpful. I was looking for the Purcell Quartet in particular and found two; one of Vivaldi's Sonatas for Strings and the other, Arcangelo Corelli's 'La Folia' and other sonatas, both very beautiful.

The third CD I bought from a young man, Alejandro Florez, busking in Bourke St Mall. He plays Spanish guitar and had two others playing with him. He had quite an audience around him, all tapping their feet. It's a bright, bubbly CD that urges one to dance! "Solquemia" means 'The alchemical light energy from the sun that illuminates the path from one's pain into happiness, then ultimately into enlightenment.'

'The Joy of Baroque' contains 44 pieces; works by Bach, Couperin, Handel, Purcell, Rameau, Scarlatti and others. Seems as though today will be filled with music!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Mud Dauber

When in the laundry the other day I saw that my yellow and black friend was back again, building a nest. I stood and watched it for a while, wondering how it was done. It flew off for a few minutes, then came back. All I could see it doing was rub its head with its two front legs and walk all over the dome.

I googled 'Australian wasps' and found out that it is the 'Black and Yellow Mud Dauber', Sceliphron caementarium. The female builds the nest and daubs with the lower mandible (jaw). Each nest contains only one egg. The nest will last for years and is quite often used by other types of wasps and bees.

Apparently they're non-aggressive but will sting, if handled; who'd want to pick one up?! They do pose a threat to aeroplanes, as they build their nests in small openings and tubes, which can impair the function of the craft. In fact, they're held responsible for the crash of Birgenair Flight 301, killing 189 passengers and crew.

I had a look yesterday and found that the construction had been completed. Unfortunately, I'll have to destroy it in a couple of months' time; it's just a job that has to be done, otherwise the house would be covered in them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Life is like playing a violin solo in public....

'Violinist' - Wandalin Strzaleski, 1855-1917

......and learning the instrument as one goes on.
- Samuel Butler, 1835-1902

At the age of seven I was given the choice of violin or piano lessons; I chose piano as at that age I heard the noise of the violin much like a cat meeowing! After nine years of tuition, the love of classical music was firmly ingrained. Over the years I went through several stages from rock to country but never hard metal, as that genre came in the years of struggle as a single mother with two toddlers and they were my priority. I didn't own any LPs, a record player and can't even remember a radio in those days; just a small television set, so music was lost to me. My piano was gone also; gosh, I was miserable!

My love of violin came much later when things were happier. I had re-married, life was good and one of my favourite things to do was to haunt antique or second-hand shops to search for special items to decorate our house. Most of the antique stores smelled of Tudor Rose and, invariably, a chamber ensemble was playing softly in the background. I knew most of the tunes and what stood out was the soulful violin. I'd look for an empty cassette near the player to surreptitiously write down the title. If the person behind the counter looked approachable (most were snooty!), I'd cheekily ask what was playing.

I haven't posted music on éclectique for quite some time and it's about time; so here is the Purcell Quartet playing Henry Purcell's Pavan in G Minor.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Eggplant Balls

These are even tastier the next day, cold.

Preparation time: 80 mins
Makes 15-20

  • 3 large eggplant (aubergine)
  • olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp dried oregano or thyme
  • 1 free range egg or 1/2 tbs plain flour
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C/356F and lightly oil large oven tray.
Dice eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes and place on oven tray, sprinkle with a little salt and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a moderate oven for 20mins until golden and soft; remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl mix the finely diced onion, garlic, chilli, 1 cup of the breadcrumbs, oregano or thyme, combine well. Add the whisked egg, parmesan cheese and eggplant, season with salt and pepper.

Mix thoroughly (easier with your hands); check consistency and add more breadcrumbs if the mixture is not coming together easily.

Form mixture into small balls, place on non-stick oven tray and bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes, until golden.

Alternatively they can be deep fried for added crunch.

Serve as a side or appetizer with bread and dips.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

As Summer into Autumn slips....


The leaves are turning and gremlins are in my image uploader; everything is being FLIPPED!!! There's nothing I can do about it, so I've decided to leave it. It doesn't matter with leafy pics but I wonder what will happen to my tree pics!!

Manchurian Pear

Claret Ash

Robinia 'Mop Top'

Thankfully, all standing!

In a few more weeks they'll be bare.

Title: Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A lovely work of art inspired by a dismal poem....

'Mariana' - Sir John Everett Millais, 1850/51

Sir John Everett Millais based Mariana (1851) upon Tennyson's poem of the same name, which derives from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and tells of a woman who has lived alone for five years after having been rejected by her fiance, Angelo, after her dowry was lost in a shipwreck. Millais chose to illustrate the following lines:

She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

Alone in her house on a grey autumn afternoon, Mariana stands up from her needlework to stretch her back and look longingly out the window. Autumn leaves are scattered about on the floor. The changing of the season from summer to fall is impending, so much so that it is overtaking the interior of Mariana's home. Just as the seasons change outside, the fertile spring and summer of Mariana's life is coming to a close as she is left alone, facing life as a lonely spinster. -

(2nd stanza)
published 1830

Her tears fell with the dews at even;
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.
After the flitting of the bats,
When thickest dark did trance the sky,
She drew her casement-curtain by,
And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
She only said, "The night is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892

'The Moxon Tennyson'
Pen and Ink illustration by Millais
Wood engraving by Dalziel Brothers 1857

Scanned image by George P. Landow

Edward Moxon published "Poems" by Alfred Tennyson in 1933

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Land of the long, white cloud...

The indigenous Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, 'the land of the long, white cloud'. The above pic is of Lake Otamangakau on the North Island where my hubby is fishing for the second time this year.

The chap in the boat on the left is his mate, Jim, who appears to be having a snooze but I'm told that he's preparing his gear whilst waiting for the fog to lift and the fish to rise.

I don't understand why they spend thousands of dollars on gear and airfares to catch fish, scare the living daylights out of them and then let them go! But relaxation and getting in touch with nature I certainly understand and releasing the fish I wholeheartedly agree with. Now this is where I could show you the big fish shots but I won't!

A mythological story or historical fiction offers a good picture of how the name was given or something of the ideas which motivated it. In some traditional stories, Aotearoa was the name of the canoe of the explorer Kupe, and he named the land after it. In another version, Kupe's daughter was watching the horizon and called "He ao! He ao!" ("a cloud! a cloud!").

A different story figures that it was actually his wife and not his daughter who called out these words. The story tells that the voyagers of that period were guided by a long white cloud in the course of the day and by a long bright cloud at night. Consequently, after a long voyage, the sign of land to Kupe’s crew was the long cloud hanging over it. The curious cloud caught Kupe’s attention and he said “Surely is a point of land”. His wife called out "He ao! He ao!" ("a cloud! a cloud!"). Afterwards his wife’s words and the cloud which greeted them, Kupe named the land Aotearoa - "long white cloud".The first land sighted was accordingly named Aotea (Cloud), now Great Barrier Island. When a much larger landmass was found beyond Aotea, it was called Aotea-roa (Long Aotea). - Wikipedia

Monday, March 1, 2010

Farewell, great white hunter!

'The Huguenot' - John Everett Millais, 1829-1896

DMJ's off to lure the huge brown trout in New Zealand again; his second trip this year!  They all go back to swim another day; he doesn't eat them!  I have plenty of chores to keep me busy, relaxing in the afternoons with a book or a movie and enjoying the solitude for a while; thankfully, only a while.