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.
May 2019
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12 of 12, May 2019

A rather miscellaneous collection of photos for this month’s 12 of 12.

Over breakfast I finalised the preparation of the lesson I had been asked to give at Church today.

This is the view from the room in which I taught the lesson. I reckon it has the best view of any chapel in the world (based on the sort of small statistical sample from which no such conclusions can confidently be drawn except by those who are totally biased). And the lesson went well, I think.

It was also Mother’s Day, so the ladies at Church got to wear chrysanthemums.

In the afternoon I went for a walk, and came across a flock of cockatoos …

which were startled into flight by some other walkers.

Continuing the bird theme (briefly), there was a flotilla of tiny cormorant chicks paddling about on the water and occasionally diving beneath (cormorant chicks is my best guess; I am not actually certain what they are). 

A different view of my favourite mountain.

I took this photo because I was surprised to see things in bloom in autumn (and then I felt like an idiot, because hadn’t I worn a chrysanthemum in the morning!).

A view of the Derwent River and the Tasman Bridge.

I like the colour contrasts in the next shot, and the abstract water patterns.

When I got home I finished preparing dinner for the extended family: vegetarian bolognese sauce and a non-vegetarian bolognese sauce (and a non-vegetarian bolognese sauce without onion for someone who doesn’t do onion) … and, yes, of course you can cook Italian in a wok.

My brother came bearing a gift (although the photo doesn’t do it justice): he’d sculpted this really amazing scene of penguins on an iceberg in the ocean (complete with killer whale), out of polymer clay and some other touches. It is only 10cm in diameter, and is really cool. At 7mm tall, these are probably the smallest penguins I have; just over a week ago my sister delivered to my front door (initially anonymously) what I think is, at 50cm, my biggest penguin (included in the bonus 13th photo).

(The “12 of 12” project involves taking 12 photos on the 12th of the month (actually, it usually involves taking more). Some days the day is just an everyday day; some days things are a bit more adventurous. I have been doing this since 2009, and this is episode 117.)

Sunset at Lewisham foreshore

I haven’t explored the Lewisham foreshore before, but took a short stroll this evening just before sunset. It was quite peaceful and beautiful, and I think it will be worth visiting again, and with something more photographically competent than my phone (the phone hasn’t done too badly, but I could have had a bit more fun with one of my “real” cameras).

Sunset over the bay

Circumstances meant that I took my evening walk late in the afternoon just as the sun was about to set. As I strolled around the southern edge of Lindisfarne Bay, the sky glowed spectacularly, lighting up the water as well. Lucky I had my phone with me; pity I didn’t have a better camera (and you have to imagine the dragon boat that was silhouetted beautifully at just the wrong time and position for photographing).

Because you can never have too many hikes

The weather over Easter has been awesome, and with a good friend and her husband visiting from Queensland in search of hikes, I grabbed my brother on Monday and the four of us headed down to the Hartz Mountains National Park. It was here that we realised that the weather wasn’t universally awesome … or, at least, that “awesome” has multiple applications, and that in this case it was going to apply to the awe we felt about the much cooler temperatures and rather stronger winds that we experienced when we got out of the car.

So we rugged up and set off anyway.

We visited Lake Esperance and Ladies Tarn, and various other little tarns along the way, with clumps of pineapple grass and the occasional cushion plant.

With the summit cloud lifting, we then started heading up to Hartz Pass, having some close encounters with pandani on the way (as seen in the next photo). The climb to the pass is steep (both up and down!) and when we reached the saddle we were hit with a strong gale hurtling up from the west and channelling through the gap. Walking was occasionally unsteady and we were grateful for the small sheltered spots that we passed and for the views which rewarded us.

We reached the summit at about 12:45, and found ourselves a sanctuary on the eastern side of an outcrop, where we had a yummy lunch of cheese and rolls that Jill and Clive had brought along. The clouds were racing overhead and sometimes getting lower, so we headed back down, although our fears of worsening weather did not actually eventuate.

Mount Snowy.

Summit crag with the distant mountains of the southwest (Precipitous Bluff, one of the south-west’s distinctive peaks, is towards the right end of the horizon).

Distinctive outcrop, with Hartz Lake below.

Clouds heading over the summit towards Geeveston.

Return from the summit.

Precipitous Bluff, from the slopes of Hartz Peak.

Dolerite outcrops on the way back to the pass.

Skeletal branches of alpine plants.

View back to Hartz Peak from the pass.

Cushion plant and dolerite (not totally in focus, sorry).

Sunlit pandani at the pass.

On our return to the car park we decided we had time to pop in to Arve Falls, since Jill and Clive hadn’t been there before.

And then it was time to head homewards, via Geeveston for a hot chocolate, and then a pleasant dinner together in the evening.

I really needed the two hikes (well, three, kind of) that I’ve had over Easter. They’ve been good for my psyche.

An afternoon jaunt up Collins Cap

Easter Saturday dawned pleasantly, allowing me to take the APs for a morning drive (through interesting countryside, but I didn’t take photos). In the afternoon, having returned them home, the day became more spectacularly autumn blue mild, and I couldn’t let it go to waste. I threw some snacks, a drink, a map, some warm tops, my good camera and my tripod into the car, and headed up to Collinsvale. Having squeezed into the last remaining car parking place I loaded my gear and started up the Myrtle Forest track, its dense rainforest dark and gloomy despite the sunny day (it shelters on the southern side of a hill, and so loses the sun quite early).

I made my way steadily higher—well, unsteadily higher, as the track got steeper—and started to be rewarded with a little more sunshine and the beginnings of some great views of the Wellington plateau. It was a relief to come out at the top of the track (I was dripping sweat, and my glasses kept fogging up), but it was a false relief because there was still another 160m of vertical altitude change to go in order to reach the summit of my target: Collins Cap.

By now, though, the views were spectacular, and I reached the peak, with its big rock cairn, about 1.5 hours after setting off. I rewarded myself by taking lots of photos, having a couple of hot cross buns and a drink, and popping down over the side to find a geocache. In the photos below, the peaks of south-west Tasmania are in the far distance of the first couple of photos, and the prominent peak—that has a photo to itself in the fourth photo below and is the backdrop to the second of the selfies—is Collins Bonnet (why Collins had mountains named after his headwear is your responsibility to Google!).

The late afternoon sun and resulting shadows created interesting effects on the nearby slopes, and the views of Collinsvale below and the Derwent River in the distance were also impressive.

I started heading back at 4pm, finding the downhill much easier on the heart and lungs, but perhaps just as painful on the knees. A fire had obviously gone through some of the area, as there was a forest of dead trees which had its own stark beauty.

I had a couple of brief stops to try to get some waterfall photos, but the one annoying thing about the expedition was that both the batteries of my good camera were flat … so I had carried the good camera and tripod to the top to no avail. Fortunately I had also carried my good little camera, but it is limited in what it can accomplish by way of time exposures.

Although I suspect some of my muscles are going to complain tomorrow, I really needed this walk for some rejuvenating mountain/sky/green/water/rocks.

A little jaunt in a certain Direction

I have been hanging out for the Easter break as I am in desperate need of some R&R. After a bit of a sleep in (by which I mean I turned off my alarms, and then still woke early anyway, but at least didn’t have to rush to get up) I set off on a morning adventure. This involved driving to Risdon Brook Dam and making my way westward and upward to a geocache on top of a hill attached to Mt Direction. I haven’t been geocaching—except opportunistically—for ages.

The climb was a nice sweaty one, made challenging by sidling and scrub-bashing across a steep rocky slope (I didn’t want to lose altitude by going into the gully). Eventually I came out onto the more open ridge and enjoyed some nice views of the river and mountain. Before long I had the cache in hand, and I was able to take advantage of an unmarked trail to make my return journey a whole lot easier. I picked up another cache a bit later on, although I kicked myself as I approached it because I had walked right past it earlier in the morning when I was focused on getting to the first cache. I had an unsuccessful search for a sneakily hidden third cache, before making my way back to my car, having already clocked up my 10000 steps for the day.

It was nice to be out in the bush, and doing something a little more interesting than my more typical short walks (which I do for the exercise, and which I enjoy but they’re not the same as a good solid walk in the bush).

Mariners Trophy 2019

For a variety of reasons I haven’t been able to attend the annual Mariners Trophy competition for Scouts before now. It involves a weekend of sailing and rowing events, plus tests of other Scouting knowledge, and patrols compete in teams of (ideally) 7. This year I was able to go, although unfortunately I didn’t take many photos.

It was an enjoyable weekend and our crew did a good job (especially as they were a small group to begin with and then hosted two extras from other groups). I learned a few new things although I still don’t know enough about sailing to be much help in that area.

12 of 12, April 2019

A long day, which began with me having to reassemble my prepacked-ready-for-Scout-camp bag, which had become disassembled after Jamboree and Regatta. It was a rush job, and so it still isn’t quite in the state I used to keep it.

I went to work. It was a lovely day outside … and so I took some photos from inside.

I love the light over Battery Point in this shot.

I also took some photos of inside. The office is a disappointing mess again, I’m afraid.

I needed this next calculation for a discussion about the proof that there are infinitely many primes.

It was too nice to stay in the office, so I went home and worked outside.

At some point it became too warm/bright on the front porch and so I shifted to a shadier spot.

I have pittosporums growing in my yard. I like the dappled light through the leaves but, to be honest, I don’t really like the pittosporum all that much.

The reason I was packing my Scout bag in the morning was because we were heading to Mariners Trophy on the weekend. I was going to tow the trailer …

… but then we decided I didn’t need to, and so my car stayed behind in the hall.

Daylight savings has ended and so we were driving at dusk … and then in the dark. Given my weariness it was good that Skip/Georgie was happy to drive.

And eventually we got to St Helens, and we set up camp, and I took one last photo before falling into bed.

(The “12 of 12” project involves taking 12 photos on the 12th of the month. This provides the opportunity to get snapshots of different aspects of your life. I have been doing this since 2009, and this is episode 116.)

Bach’s “St John Passion”

After several weeks of intense rehearsals, and having a tenor-line rehearsal track on continuous play-back in my car so I could get things into my head and voice as I was driving, we reached the final week of rehearsals and met the performance conductor, Stephen Layton. He is a very famous choral conductor and has done Bach’s St John Passion about a hundred times, so we were very aware that he would know his stuff. In contrast, I believe that this was going to be the first time the TSO had done it, although a few of the choristers had performed it before, and the TSO Chorus had done the St Matthew Passion a few years ago. Apparently we were a larger-than-typical choir for this particular work, but we were all keen to do it well.

By all accounts, tonight’s performance was a resounding success, with fantastic soloists, sensitive orchestral playing, and powerful choral singing. All the things that Stephen Layton had urged us to do were achieved and there were some intense dramatic moments as the Passion story progressed. Stephen Layton seemed happy with the performance which pleased everyone. It was a long, challenging sing—nearly two hours with no interval—with demanding emotional contrasts between the chorales and the “mob” choruses, and the chorus is standing for much of the performance, which meant that we were all feeling a mix of weariness and adrenaline high at the end of it. Many of the audience gave us a standing ovation once they realised the performance had ended (or, at least, were prepared to break the atmosphere of the moment): we did the final climactic chorale, then there was silence and it took a bit longer than anyone expected for the applause to begin … but it was thunderous when it did.

Here are some photos (the first two were taken by James Powell-Davies and the final one by David Horn). I am second from the right in the second back row in the first photo, and in the second you can see that we were many in number, especially in comparison to the size of the orchestra. The final photo is the post-concert celebratory group photo (and I’m way up the back standing on a chair).

We had good reviews from those who saw it, and we also had some great feedback from the conductor:

Please pass on this message with my heartfelt thanks to the TS0 and chorus for the wonderful week of music making culminating in Saturday’s performance of the St John Passion. I have taken part in many performances of this music since my childhood. This was a fine one. Unusually the audience in Hobart in Federation hall were remarkably still. We did not really ever hear them. I cannot remember such quiet. This sense of peace in the building said it all – Peace in the hall but electricity on the stage.

Moods of the Mountain #108

Autumn equinox has just passed, the days are rapidly getting shorter, and the sun is drifting further to the right/north of the mountain come sunset time. These spectacular clouds are being lit by a sun that is way off frame for the first photo, but which is making another set of spectacular clouds above the northern slopes of the range as seen in the second.

The full “Moods of the Mountain” collection is here.