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 2024
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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.

A short walk marginally ruined

They say that golf is a good walk ruined. Mini-golf involves a shorter journey but, in the absence of competence in its players, is similarly not a particularly stellar walking experience either. However, it was the end of the school holidays and I’d determined that a fun afternoon with the youngsters was in order and the five of us—Imogen and Joshua, two other significant persons, and myself—duly amused ourselves in a klutzy and generally uncoordinated way.

There were the occasionally fluky miracle shots,

and the usual collection of embarrassing moments.

We sort of kept score, but I don’t think I would rely on the results, and, since I didn’t win, I don’t care who did!

The live rosella photo (not the dead parrot sketch)

There’s a deciduous tree in my front yard, and today, when I was out on the balcony, I noticed that it was occupied. This is a green rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) which is a species that is endemic to Tasmania. I often get wattle birds and the occasional pigeons in the tree, but the rosellas are rarer.

12 of 12, July 2020

Today was not an especially momentous day, nor were my imagination and creativity at their peak. However, I did go for a walk during the day (one of my standard nearly-one-hour routes) and kept my eyes open for interesting things along the way.

My outward route took me along the higher streets of my neighbourhood, affording me good views of the bridge and river.

The prettiest part of the journey is the level path that circumnavigates a nearby hill and passes through pretty bush.

It had been raining and there were still droplets of water on the foliage.

Just over three years ago there was a fire on the hill, and some of the trees lost their outer layer of bark, revealing the surprising ruddiness of the wood and the scribbly patterns etched/eaten into the trunk.

As the path continues around the hill, you get a good view of the boats in the next bay and what I still call “the zinc works” (Nyrstar) across the river, with its artistic industrial aesthetic (it’s beautiful in a William Blake “satanic mills” kind of way).

And then as I started the return journey the afternoon light caught a bulk ore carrier and two tugs making its way down river to pass under the bridge.

[This is the 131st “12 of 12” post since beginning this habit in September 2009. If it does nothing else, it means that you’ll always get a minimum of 12 blog posts a year … provided I keep the habit going.]

Liffey Falls and Mt Paris Dam

During a few days in Launceston visiting relatives, the kids and I did a day trip out to Liffey Falls and Mt Paris Dam. The morning was crisp and cool, and there was plenty of water tumbling over the two sets of falls that are just a short walk from the car park. I’d taken my tripod and so could do some time-exposures; these two shots are about half-a-second long.

The morning dew was beautiful on the fern fronds as we returned to the car.

Our other stop for the day was a place I have always wanted to visit: Mt Paris Dam. This dam is no longer used for water catchment, and has had holes cut through the dam wall, and a creek flows through one of them and over the slippery rocks beyond.

The dam itself, with its buttresses, is an impressive piece of engineering and is probably about 150m long.

I love the way nature has found its way around this intrusion, with tree ferns and trees right up against the wall on the down-stream side. We pottered around here for a while, taking photos and just enjoying the ambience. It was a glorious winter day, although this actually made the light a little challenging for photography at times. 

Oh, well, I’ll just have to go back sometime!

Cape Direction

Some days things go stupidly wrong, and yet you end up getting a surprisingly good outcome. I’d been attempting some astrophotography recently with my good camera and new telescope, and in order to do this I had the camera on manual mode … and, of course, I forgot to change it back before heading off on today’s excursion. I took a whole bunch of photos before realising and most of them turned out to be disastrously overexposed, but I actually love this one of Josh and his girlfriend (which I have tweaked in “post”).

It was a glorious day and my mental health needed a trip a little further afield than the streets and coast of Lindisfarne and so we headed down to South Arm and skirted Fort Direction army base (having read the big signs that said “do this at your own risk”). I hadn’t been here before, and the coastal route took us along a couple of beaches and up onto a headland.

There were some old military bunkers (of the concrete brutalist style) on the hillside, which were interesting, and there were also great views of the Iron Pot Lighthouse just offshore and Bruny Island (visible in both of the photos below), and also across to Betsey Island and Sloping Main. It isn’t an especially long walk (about 5km return), but the views were well worth it.


Sunset under the bridge

I did one of my longer walking-from-home routes this evening: a 6km, 1 hour stroll to Montagu Bay and back. The return leg passes under the bridge, and I fluked my arrival at sunset and captured a nice silhouette with the old iPhone.

Moods of the Mountain #122

Ahh, winter time and snow on the mountain. 🙂

Putting the “outing” back into “Scouting”

COVID-19 restrictions have eased a little and permitted activities now include socially distanced outdoor gatherings with people outside of households. We can’t yet have camps, and we’re not yet able to meet back in our Scout hall, but today we could have a Scout hike. The kids were so excited to see each other (and so struggled to stay the appropriate distance apart at times), to the point where we didn’t really try to do anything formal or badgeworky, because they just needed time to reconnect. So, we enjoyed each other’s company and the pleasant but local scenery of Shag Bay.

In previous years we have often had a “cardboard box sleep out”, and we tried to continue the tradition this year with the kids challenged to sleep out at home. Not many did, but I was one of them, setting up a rain-proof fly over my head-and-shoulders-sized cardboard box near my front porch (although it was so low and tight that it was a laborious process to get in and out!).

12 of 12, June 2020

This month’s 12 of 12 fell on a Friday in the middle of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which means I stayed at home for work while the kids went off to school which they can now do without my assistance, since the elder of the two now has her Ps (we were pleased to be able to achieve this last month despite all the craziness of the year).


I had a morning of meetings, including one with one of my PhD students in China.

Although we’re not as “locked down” as we were earlier in the pandemic, I still feel a little fenced in, especially as I haven’t been able to go to uni to work. This feeling gets exacerbated when it rains … although at least the spring bulbs and daisies have put in an appearance to brighten things up a bit.

When the rain eased off a bit it was still light, and I seized the moment to go for a walk to get my step count up (and to get out of the house). My brother does a weekly podcast as he goes through his collection of owned-but-as-yet-unwatched movies, and if my walk is later in the week I listen to his latest episode.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am fortunate to be able to have some tolerably scenic walks that I can do from my house, without having to venture very far afield. Often, as with tonight’s trip, my outward route is along streets, but my return journey follows the foreshore path alongside the river. When I lived in Melbourne, not only did I miss “my mountain” but I struggled with being so relatively far from a decent body of water.

And when I got home I finished printing off some maps that I’d constructed by putting pseudo-proper UTM gridlines onto a Google map image (since I needed a large scale map AND I needed to be able to interpret UTM coordinates on it because … wait for it … we’re going to have an outside face-to-face Scout activity tomorrow, after nearly three months of not being able to do anything apart from online.

[This is the 130th “12 of 12” post since I began this strange habit in 2009, bringing you 12 photos on the 12th of each month, capturing the ordinary and the imaginative, depending on circumstances and inspiration.]