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.
November 2020
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12 of 12, September 2020 – Falling water

There is a little waterfall on Mt Wellington which I have been wanting to visit for a while and today seemed a good day to choose to do so. I borrowed my brother, who I thought would be interested in exploring as well, and so we headed up to O’Grady’s Falls first which I have photographed a few times before, but, since it is lovely and it is also the 12th, I decided to photograph it some more.

We then continued a little further and headed along a faint track through more wet sclerophyll forest,

a cascading stream

fern fronds, 

and more moss

before reaching Featherstone Falls and taking quite a few photos (more than enough to round out the 12 shots needed for 12 of 12). This waterfall is only a couple of metres high but has a beautiful shape to it.

[And with this, the 132rd “12 of 12” post the tradition enters its 12th year. You were lucky this month: I was somewhere particularly scenic.]

Just big enough

On the final day of the camp we went back up to the ski village (hauntingly empty) in search of some decent snow drifts. There really wasn’t much on offer but we managed to find a couple of patches of snow that were just big enough and slopy enough for the Scouts to go tobogganing and have a bit of fun.

In fact they had lots of fun and I took heaps of photos of them … but I’ll only share a few.

In short, they had a great time and it was oh-so-good to be having an extended activity again.

Sunset on the tor

Carr Villa Hut, which is owned by a northern Tasmanian Scout Rover crew, nestles just below the escarpment that marks the edge of the Ben Lomond plateau and affords some rather spectacular views of the dolerite cliffs and crags.

While tea was being organised and the chocolate self-saucing pudding was cooking I popped outside and captured the light of the setting sun as it lit up the rocky columns. 

The light was beautiful, and Misery Bluff glowed yellow-orange and then red as the sun went down. It was just magical.

Journey to Little Hell and back

It’s been nearly 6 months since our last proper Scout camp (as opposed to camping in our backyards) and, since Tasmania seems to be coronavirus-free at the moment, we are now able to do overnight things as a group. With barely contained enthusiasm we made a booking for Carr Villa Hut on the slopes of Legges Tor/Ben Lomond and headed up on a Friday night for a weekend of outdoors and whatever snow we could find.

On Saturday, we headed up to the ski village, to discover that, while there was snow around, it certainly wasn’t going to win any prizes for being a ski resort. However, who can resist lovely alpine landscapes? We decided to go for a walk around a cross-country ski route which had the advantage of being marked by poles, and the disadvantage of not actually really being much a walking track. It was also quite damp underfoot (the snow was no longer in solid form!), so it wasn’t the most simple of walks, but we headed east to a region known as Little Hell.


There may have been some snowball fights …

and some sliding on the few decent-sized snow drifts …

and there was certainly plenty of scenery to enjoy.

The kids’ energy levels were starting to drop as we made returned to the start of the 5km loop, but the wonderful views continued.

The final 500m or so of the journey required negotiating our way around the snow-melt streams that were pouring down the valley from the tows to the ski village.

The kids (and us leaders) had enjoyed the walk, but were definitely in the mood for the warmth of the hut and a good evening meal … and the existence of an oven meant that we could do chocolate self-saucing pudding for dessert. Nom!

The “Sunrise Project” goes interstellar

Well, maybe not … but today’s exotic location for the TSOChorus’s outdoor film shoot for our “Sunrise Project” was the University of Tasmania’s radio telescope in the late afternoon, rather than sunrise. The telescope provided quite a dramatic backdrop and was listening for pulsars rather than listening to us as we sang several repeats of the song we are doing.

Towards sunset we headed off to another location, to add to our collection of interesting spots, and at least one more excursion is planned for later (but it’s going to be interesting seeing what happens when all the footage is edited to suit the 4 minute song!).

The “Sunrise Project” at sunrise

I’ve posted earlier about the TSOChorus’s “Sunrise Project” where we are filming ourselves in various locations performing a song (we have already recorded ourselves doing the audio). One chilly mid-week morning—with winter giving the advantage of late-occurring sunrises—we headed down to Calvert’s Beach and sang on the beach first and then up against the cliffs at the southern end as the sun did its thing.

It actually wasn’t the most spectacular of sunrises, but there was some nice light eventually.

We had our audio track being broadcast to us on small FM radios so that we could synchronise our singing as various bits of footage were taken, all under the watchful eye of our chorus master, June Tyzack. Fortunately there wasn’t much swell, as she was perched rather close to the edge! The things we do in the name of art!

12 of 12, August 2020

It has been a strange year, and I’ve felt somewhat off-kilter and disconcerted, as the patterns and habits of old have been disrupted in more ways than one. I confess I have struggled to be fully motivated and productive at times, and I am way too easily distracted. So today I was still working from home, as I have been for a few months (I’ve lost count!), and I can’t always “get going” on tasks in the way I want. I wasn’t inspired to do anything particular for 12 of 12, and so had to come up with a few ideas late in the day when I went off for my walk.

Fortunately there were ducks …

and a coot.

There were some abstract patterns to be seen in a newly-hewn tree stump …

and additional sets of symmetrical patterns to be seen in Imogen’s cactus collection when I got back home (she has a large number, and they seem to be thriving in her care).


Josh has had his birthday already this month and Imogen’s 18th party is soon, so the garage needs sorting out so it can host a party (and a drum-kit). There’s a little way to go still (a lot of it is Lisa’s stuff which it has taken me some time to sort out and get into storage in the shed).

I’m afraid the birthday cakes weren’t quite as creative as last year’s, but there have been other things to organise instead and, for a year which has felt “less”, it has been hard to do “more”.

[This is the 132nd “12 of 12” post which makes the completion of 11 years since I started. If nothing else, you’re getting a glimpse of my walking routes.]

How can I keep from singing?

During the restrictions of COVID-19 we have been having our TSOChorus rehearsals via Zoom, which has at least allowed us to keep working together as a group even though it is less than ideal for group musical activity. However, with Tasmania having closed its borders and dealt with outbreaks, we have been able to get together in small groups, and are now working towards bigger gatherings … but these need larger spaces than our usual rehearsal venue in order to maintain appropriate distancing. We have thus been starting to rehearse in half-choir-sized groups in venues such as City Hall and the rather spartan and chilly—but acoustically very satisfying—building known as the Goods Shed.

The Goods Shed is just a barn of a tin shed, and so beanies, gloves and puffer jackets are definitely de rigeur some nights … but it is oh-so-good to be singing together, and we are very aware of how fortunate we are to be able to be doing this (and very aware that our opportunity to do this may not last if the virus reappears, given that elsewhere some choirs have had bad experiences with spreading the virus during rehearsals).

A commemorative beach walk

It would have been my friend Lisa’s birthday today, and after cooking a traditional family breakfast for the kids before they headed off to school, I went down to Carlton Beach for a reflective walk around the river mouth. It was a beautiful day and I recalled some occasions we’d shared in this lovely spot, but, perhaps as expected, there was a tinge of sadness as well.

Singing at sea

With restrictions on the size of gatherings easing, but with awareness that choirs might be at higher risk of spreading the coronavirus amongst their singers, the TSOChorus has been continuing online rehearsals, but also starting to have some small outdoor gatherings of people, in spaces big enough to keep a reasonable distance between choristers. As yet, however, we don’t know when we might gather as a full choir, let alone when our next performance might be. Nevertheless, our music director, June Tyzack, and the chorus committee have come up with a bigger project nicknamed “The Sunrise Project” in which as many members of the choir who felt able have recorded themselves singing (and filmed themselves). Initially I think this was done with thoughts of doing a montage choir video of the sort that have become quite popular around the world in these isolation times, but now that we can gather outside the plans are to be more creative in what we might be able to do visually. With the sound already recorded, we can go ahead and film ourselves singing in various groups and locations.

Thus it was that one cool Saturday morning in July about 30 or so of the Chorus gathered at one of Hobart’s yacht clubs, and boarded four yachts and headed out onto the Derwent. We lined ourselves up along the rails, and, cued by the broadcast recording coming through various radios, sang several times through the song we are doing.

As we sang, bits of footage were taken, although the planned drone shots didn’t go according to plan when the drone ended up in the drink (retrievably, but in need of attention).

It was great to be singing with a group again, with the unusual circumstances making it more fun.

A few more locations/events are planned … and then, once all the footage is compiled, hopefully there’ll be something cool to show at the end of it.