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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Goats Beach with the APs

I rang Mum and Dad to see if they would like to come for a drive this afternoon, and we headed off down to Cremorne, Clifton Beach, and, finally Goats Beach. They are not able to be as adventurous with walking as they once were, but they managed a little doddle onto the sand at Goats Beach and out to the lookout on Goats Bluff. We all really enjoyed the excursion on what was a beautiful early autumn day. And to top things off I spotted an echidna just as we were a bit to leave, snuffling its way among the dunes (you can just see its snout if you look closely in the final photo).

12 of 12, March 2019

Today I picked a theme: clouds. Every so often during the day I would get out and look skyward and take a picture. It was an interesting day for clouds, and my favourite shot is the third one (although the ninth technically doesn’t belong in the collection!). [The advantage of this month’s collection is that no commentary is required beyond this introduction!]


[The “12 of 12” project involves taking 12 photos on the 12th of the month. Sometimes this gives a record of the day, sometimes I just pick a theme and take photos. This is the 115th edition of 12 of 12.]

2019 Guide Scout Regatta

The March long weekend brings the annual Guide and Scout Regatta event, held at Snug. We topped last year’s best ever attendance-from-our-troop, and had a very enjoyable and successful time. On the Friday evening, as has become our tradition, we had an investiture ceremony up on the cliff tops in the dark … only this year there were some showers adding some dampness to the occasion.

On Saturday morning there were 18 Scouts from around the state being awarded their “Australian Scout Medallion” (the highest award that can be earned in the Scout age group), including three of the older Scouts from my Troop along with the son of a good friend of mine. It was great to be able to be acknowledge the achievements of these young people.

In the sail past, which gets the regatta underway after the official ceremony, our Scouts managed to deliver cake to the Governor while she was on board the Egeria.

Over the next few days (Saturday afternoon to Monday morning) there were plenty of activities: patrol boat rowing, dinghy rowing and dinghy novelty events, kayaking, raft building and disintegrating (there was some brief floating in between the building and the disintegrating, but it didn’t last long!), tug-of-war competitions, swimming, and various other events. And the weather got better as the weekend progressed (meaning that we could pack up dry tents on Monday — yay!).

Skip got a few of us to rig La Perouse for sail one afternoon, and took out an all-girl crew (as it happened) including me, and let us try our hands at different roles on board.

Our rowing crews did really well this year, taking out a clean sweep of the under 13 and under 15 sprint and long-distance events.

This year I was able to be part of the leader-parent female rowing team that took out that event (last year I was still recovering from surgery and so my activities were curtailed). There was a particularly nice thing about this success: one of the crew members was a long-time friend of mine, Vicki (second from the right; we met in Grade 7 many many years ago!). Although not part of our Scout group, she has an interesting link to it, as her dad had been involved in La Perouse‘s genesis, and one of her older brothers had carved the name plate that still adorns La Perouse‘s stern.

And here’s the gang after the closing ceremony on the final day.

Moods of the Mountain #107

As mentioned in the last Moods of the Mountain post, the sun moves northwards as we move into autumn, although we are still enjoying “summer time”. Here are three shots from the beginning of March: the first two showing a spectacular sky on the 2nd, and the final one showing a differently spectacular sky on the 4th.

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

Moods of the Mountain #106

Summer sunsets over Mt Wellington are usually pretty special. By winter the sun is setting more northerly, which means that the dramatic effects occur much further to the right of the main peak.

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

Master class with Simon Halsey

The TSO Chorus were privileged to be able to experience a master class day of rehearsals with Simon Halsey, who is a famous English choral conductor (he is Chorus Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, Artistic Director of the chorus of Palau de la Música Catalana, in Barcelona, and Conductor Laureate of the Berlin Radio Choir).

He had a real knack for being able to tease out small and big changes in what we were doing and how, and helped us to understand better the music and the text. (As someone who regards herself as moderately expert in the idea of “pedagogical content knowledge”—at least for mathematics education and, to a lesser extent, outdoor education—it is interesting to think about the PCK that he was exhibiting as a choral teacher!)

We spent the morning working on a couple of the movements from the St John Passion: dissecting, reassembling, interpreting, analysing, and improving it. It was surprising to me to spend so long on two relatively short numbers, but there was so much to learn and fine tune, and Simon Halsey is an engaging teacher with the capacity to help choristers know what he wanted and how to achieve it, and a raconteur’s gift for stories and anecdotes that made the whole music world become more alive and desirable.

In the afternoon we worked on parts of Faure’s Requiem, which the choir had performed earlier last year but which I hadn’t done in over 20 years and then as an alto (although I’d had a couple of runs through of the tenor line in advance of today’s practice), and went through a similar and enlightening process. There was a little chuffed-provoking moment when Simon complimented the tenors on one particular section and made particular reference to the two women tenors, who, he said, blended really well with the male voices … which really did make me feel good because I’d been very nervous about being in the front row!

Anyway, it was a really good day, and he had lots of highly complimentary things to say about the TSO Chorus and how well prepared we were. He also described us (and the members of similar choirs around the world) as “volunteer professionals”, since we do not get paid for our work but are expected and strive to perform as professional musicians.

12 of 12, February 2019 (and Moods of the Mountain #105)

The day began with a rainy morning, after a hot, dry January with many bushfires. Hopefully the rain will go some way to finally extinguishing the remnant smouldering bits.

My Mum kindly dropped around an egg and bacon pie, which will solve the Tuesday dinner problem before my evening rehearsal (and some other meals later in what is going to be a busy week).

I spend a large portion of the day working on an ARC research grant application, with some of the time wasted because I had to make revisions once I had found the correct spreadsheet to use instead of the wrong one.

As you may recall I have started singing again, this time with the TSO Chorus. Currently we are working on Bach’s St John Passion, which will be performed just before Easter. I am finding it hard work to learn my part, but rewarding. One of the challenges is that we are singing in German faster than I’ve ever sung in English and there are lots of tricky intervals. I know I need to get it “sung in”, so I have a tenor rehearsal track on repeat in the car.

As it is rehearsal night I need to find a place to park. Despite being an employee of this inestimable institution, I am not sure that I am allowed to park in this particular car park at this particular time. I chanced it.

Here’s where we rehearse (well, in a room at the back of the main performance hall), and there’s a quick sneaky shot of our mid-rehearsal supper break.

I hadn’t had a walk during the day, so I wandered around the docks after the rehearsal as it is always fun to take night photos and the wooden boat festival had just finished up meaning there were still a few tall ships around.

[The “12 of 12” project involves taking 12 photos on the 12th of the month; this is the 114th instalment of something that started in 2009.]

Wooden Boat Festival

Every two years Hobart hosts the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, which showcases lots of wooden boats, large and small. This year our Scouts were invited to come along and build a couple of wooden canoes. These are made from plywood (and the guy running the workshop pre-cuts the pieces for the kids), and then assembled with screws, cable ties (initially), and lots of resin to make them waterproof. Here are a few photos of the first day’s construction efforts. The finished products (not shown) really did float, although they need a little more work to make them reliably seaworthy. It was a great opportunity for the Scouts, who got to do most of the work themselves.


Moods of the Mountain #104

There have been some terrible bushfires raging through some of Tasmania’s wilderness and not quite so remote areas, resulting in a grim smoke haze over Hobart. In the morning the mountain was still visible …

but by late afternoon it had all but disappeared.

Unfortunately quite a few other things are going to have disappeared. [There was some loss of human property, but the firies did a fantastic job of saving places, but they couldn’t save some beautiful tracts of wilderness, some of which may never recover. 🙁 ]

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

Port Arthur kayak

I headed south with a friend and her family for the Australia Day long weekend and we stayed at a holiday house in Carnarvon Bay. From a water perspective, this is “just around the corner” from Port Arthur, and one afternoon I launched my kayak and went for a paddle around the coast.

There is a lovely patch of bush that covers the point around which I paddled.

Once around the point I got views of the convict ruins. It’s been a while since I have visited Port Arthur, and this is the first time I’ve seen it from this perspective.