Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
July 2019
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Going to the football

Lisa was an avid supporter of the Hawthorn Football Club, a Victorian-based AFL team which occasionally plays matches in Tasmania. We had the opportunity to go and see a game in Launceston today, with Lisa’s nephew joining us for the occasion. Josh and Imogen already had their own supporters’ gear, while I borrowed one of Lisa’s scarves. It wasn’t the highest standard game I’ve ever seen, but, fortunately, Hawthorn won.


12 of 12, July 2019

The second full day of our short holiday break began with a dramatic sunrise over distant Low Head, and then involved a bit of an exploration of the northern end of the Tamar River.

We visited Seahorse World, where we saw and got to hold seahorses (and we also saw the rare Spotted Handfish).

We then drove around to George Town and out to Low Head, where the blustery conditions made it very unpleasant outside, although they made for some spectacular waves.

When we got back to the holiday house it was to discover that the power was out (some power lines had been blown down). Fortunately we found some candles and there was enough charge held in everyone’s electronic devices to keep us amused/occupied until the power came back on.

We finished the evening with some games, which allowed us to have a bit of different fun together as well. The kids seemed to have a good time, and I know I did, so I’m really glad we were able to have this time away.

A holiday break

As you can imagine, the last few weeks have been challenging, as Lisa’s children and I have been navigating the changes and emotions that have been consequences of Lisa’s passing. The school holidays gave us an opportunity to have a bit of a break from all of that, with a friend offering us the use of a holiday house in the north of the state.

On our first full day we headed west and visited Gunns Plains Cave, where we had the tour to ourselves and the guide took a nice photo of the three of us.

We then continued south, and visited a couple of spectacular waterfalls. The first, Preston Falls, drops dramatically over a cliff, with a viewing platform providing a great perspective.

We also visited Silver Falls, where recent rains meant that the flow was very dramatic, although the light was a little on the dark side.

We then headed further west to Burnie, where we visited Guide Falls. The flow was thunderous and although I’m sure I’ve visited the falls before I don’t remember them being this exciting.

Imogen has a good eye for photography, and it was she who spotted this nice gap under a rock.

It was a good day together, and we finished it up by attending a theatre production in Burnie since a friend of ours and his son were doing the sound and lighting … and then we had the long dark drive back to Greens Beach.

Moods of the Mountain #111

A series of cold mornings have been characterised by the presence of the Derwent River’s (in)famous “Bridgewater Jerry”, a low fog-bank that flows down the valley.

Creative Prompt #4 – Burn it all

This week’s Lee Sargent “creative prompt” is “Burn It All”. I struggled to come up with a good idea for this, and I didn’t have the time to experiment with some of the artistic thoughts that passed through my mind which I knew would be challenging to implement. Instead, I ended up cheating a bit: this is a photo I took near Mt Kosciuszko in 2011 after bushfires had raged through the area. It has now had some post-processing (although it was pretty monochrome to begin with).

Fire, though devastating, can create some surprising beauty.

(Note: I’m afraid I haven’t really followed Lee’s prompt to the letter. To be accurate, this should be titled “Burnt Not Quite All Of It” … but this is nowhere near as poetic or dramatic a title as Lee’s prompt.)

[Production notes: Photo taken with a Canon350D, 28-105mm lens, and then processed by chucking it through a filter in Luminar and twiddling some sliders in a completely unsystematic way until it looked like I’d done something creative!]

Moods of the Mountain #110

A beautiful winter sunset, stretching across the northern flanks of the Wellington Range.

Creative Prompt #3 – Found under the trapdoor

The third of Lee Sargent’s weekly “creative prompts” was “Found Under the Trapdoor”. This time I decided I wanted to try get Illustrator to actually do artwork rather than graphic design. In the past I’ve used it to produce technical graphics for work, since it is a vector-based design tool, but I’ve never had the time to get to know how to do more freehand work. Well, I didn’t really have time this week, either, and so I still have very little idea what I’m doing with it. To be fair, I’m not totally unhappy with the end result, and I think I managed to progress through the changes in viewing angle reasonably successfully.

Well, what else would you have under a trapdoor?

[Production notes: initial pencil sketch, scanned into Illustrator CC which I can’t drive, and inked using a Wacom tablet which I also can’t drive, with the whole situation exacerbated by the fact that I failed kindergarten colouring-in.]

Moods of the Mountain #109

Early morning moon-set on a winter’s day (well, relatively early, given that it is very close to winter solstice!).

Major changes

You may have noticed, in the post about my friend Lisa’s funeral on the 12th, that I mentioned her two teenage children. While Lisa was in hospital they came and stayed at my place (a) because they couldn’t really stay at their home alone and (b) because I live much closer to town than they do, and so could take them in to hospital to visit their mum and get them to their schools.

Well, with Lisa’s passing, they and I are embarking on an unexpected new phase of our lives, as they are now living with me on what looks to be a permanent basis. Nearly three years ago, Lisa asked me if I would be the guardian of her children should anything happen to her; I’d said yes, and/but although I knew she wasn’t well, I never thought that I might end up having to actually do it. Nevertheless, here we are. They are lovely children, which is making things easier, but obviously there are big changes that we are facing. The three of us are thus trying to figure out our “new normal” and how to make this work, and I think we’re doing okay so far; I only hope that I don’t let them or their mum down.

I’m not totally sure what the future will bring, which makes me a little nervous, but I’m told that driving lessons are on the agenda … which makes me REALLY nervous!

Creative Prompt #2 – The secret life of the Mona Lisa

This week’s Lee Sargent “creative prompt” is “The secret life of the Mona Lisa”. As Lee wrote in his weekly prompt email: “You know what the painting looks like; just go away and write a short play about what she does when she’s not posing for paintings!” Well, I didn’t go for a short play (and the prompts are intended to allow you to take whatever creative approach in whatever medium or art form you want), but I had to stop and think about what might be a fitting spare time occupation for the owner of one of the most famous faces in history.

I haven’t quite carried this off as well as I’d imagined it in my mind, but it’s clear enough to convey what I wanted, I think.

[Production notes: initial pencil sketch, inked with Artline 200 0.4mm black pen, scanned to computer, and Da Vinci himself supplied the remaining finishing touches via Pixelmator.]