This week

By Vita Forest

On the track at Echo Point, Roseville

This week I have been

WRITING

READING

  • The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville (very enjoyable and positive about what could have been a dark tale)
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (finally managed to snaffle grab it from the library! This is the biography that Lin-Manuel Miranda read and resulted in   Only a few chapters in but what a story!)

Interesting that both these books take place during the same historical period and examine race, nations and slavery…

WATCHING

The Homosexuals at The Griffin Theatre company.

GOING back to school

TRYING out a few new things with my class – new seating arrangements, some new behaviour management techniques, some meditation… all going well.

PLAYING a lot of Bananagrams with my kids.

WALKING at Echo Point in Roseville.

I did not know. Echo Point, Roseville

MAKING an orange and almond meal cake for my Mum’s birthday.

Some good news from America

By Vita Forest

Though we risk being trampled

By updates on Trump,

The doom that is looming,

The lies, fear, rage, talk of war, catastrophes, down-turns and dire warnings.

 

Yet even now amid the screaming headlines

I find

Good news from America.

 

It seems that

after five years of drought

then welcome winter rain

the hills of California are blooming,

festooned with orange poppies,

waving on the hills

beaming up at the sun

so many of them that they can be seen from Space.

 

Think of those aliens looking down at the tangerine glow

At humans taking time out to wander in fields of flowers

That go on and on

Further than the eye can see

Imagine walking those hills, hands outstretched

Getting lost amongst the beaming, bobbing poppies

Simple pleasures

Lying back and looking up at the blue sky

Sight fringed by golden flowers.

 

And though the world rolls on

And it appears that disaster cannot be avoided,

Remember this is happening now too.

So clutch your bouquet of Californian poppies

Close to your heart.

 

This week

By Vita Forest

Snorkellers and Surfers near The Bower, Manly


This week I have been

READING

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

WRITING

  • Reverberations
  • Teaching programs for Term 2
  • Lots of chapters of my novel… revisions and new ones based on Sui-Sui’s suggestions and some new ideas I’ve had.

VISITING

  • School for some planning..
  • Homebush Aquatic Centre with Lucy.
  • The Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour, for some more sketching (and some experiments with some lovely black ink…)
  • Shelly Beach, Manly, for some snorkeling where we were lucky enough to be

SEEING

Two Gropers, a Crimson banded wrasse, lots of schools of different fish and lots of jellyfish.  Another gorgeous autumn day in Sydney.

Junior snorkellers, near The Bower, Manly


WATCHING Dead Poets Society

The Chinese Gardens of Friendship, Sydney


Reverberations

By Vita Forest

Papped by a sketch buddy at The Cutaway, Barangaroo

Last week sitting in The Cutaway at Barangaroo, a place that I’ve been so many times before and seen “dressed up” is many different ways – with a cardboard city, with hundreds of yogis, with thousands of white balls converting it into a dry beach.  But for Aurora Eora, the space was mostly physically empty and yet it was transformed.  It became a space to linger in, to reflect in, to close your eyes and be in (and in my case a space to get lost in a drawing in.)  What made it so?  What changed this big cavernous space, made people want to walk slowly to its centre and sit down?  Lie down?  Stop?

It was music.

The voices of the Australian Children’s Choir echoed through the vast interior reminding me of monks singing acapella incantations in a sacred space.  With speakers placed in a circle facing the centre of The Cutaway (to which we were encouraged by a pathway made up of strings of electric bulbs, like giant fairy lights, standing in for church candles), voices and rich harmonies washed over you from all directions.  People sat and looked about.  Looked up at the ceiling, looked at the rock cliff face, strolled quietly up and down.  There was nothing much to take a selfie with, it was just a quiet place to linger and reflect.


(Later as I wandered over the hilltop I heard the music again, this time drifting out of the large vent that opens at the top of The Cutaway.  Again, it altered the mood of the people who heard it, turning the Frisbee players into ballet dancers as they spun and leapt.  It called a gentle invitation to curious passers-by to try and locate the source of music – like a benign Pied Piper.)

And later, as I drove somewhere or other, I was listening to RN and caught the extraordinary story of Andrew Schulman who created Medical Musicians after music saved his life – literally.  He was deep in a coma with nothing more to be done when his wife played his favourite piece of music (Bach’s St Mathew’s Passion) and the medical team watched in amazement as his vital signs changed before their eyes.  They had verifiable and measurable scientific data that proved the power of music.  Schulman went on to create Medical Musicians playing Bach and other carefully selected pieces to patients in trauma wards as an “effective, non-invasive treatment” which “produced certain chemicals in the body” and “allowed the body to relax and heal”.

And I remember years ago, doing a meditation course and the teacher talking about “cleansing” your home by playing calming music in it – even if you were not there.  Leaving on some classical music and going out and letting the sound change the energy.

And think about my students over the years and how they love “doing Relaxation” where I put on some Vivaldi or Bach and they lay down on the floor and closed their eyes for a few minutes.  (If we missed it one day for some reason, they were quite put out).  How kids with behavioural problems would choose listening to music as one of their strategies for calming down, settling themselves.  They even started doing it at home, their parents reported back to me.

And even my cat Zadie, flopping down on this table on which I write, choosing to curl up right in front of the portable speaker from which Richard Tognetti plays the Bach Violin Concertos, the sound making the whole table reverberate, I can feel the physical sensation through my arms as I write.

There is something quite amazing about music.  You can’t listen to it in the past or the future, it makes you “be” here in the present.  Right here.  What is your soundtrack for calm?

 

 

This week

By Vita Forest

Clifftop walk at South Curl Curl


This week I have been

WRITING

READING About Grace by Anthony Doerr (Man oh man, I nearly stopped reading and skim-read the last part.  The main character really irritated me…)

VISITING

  • a cafe by the river with some teaching buddies.
  • the Northern Beaches for a walk and then a swim in the pool at South Curl Curl.  I enjoyed it, the kids not so much…

North Curl Curl

  • the harbour for a picnic afternoon tea with Lucy.
  • Lane Cove River Park for a walk with Briony and my parents.
  • Barangaroo for some sketching and where I was

LISTENING to Alice Chance’s Aurora Eora in The Cutaway – a sublime soundtrack which turned the empty space into a cathedral.

Barangaroo


WATCHING Hidden Figures with my friend Diana.

A truthful fiction

By Vita Forest


Big Little Lies.  I didn’t read it for a while but I kept hearing about it.

“It’s about a group of North Shore Mums,” said a friend from one of my old mothers’ groups, “We should have written our own version!”

“It’s about a school,” said a young colleague, “The parents are really crazy.”

“It’s about a single girl who finds love!” giggled a friend who until recently had been single (until she had found love).

One of the book clubs I belong to had read it but I had missed that meeting and the book.  It seemed to have a got a big thumbs up though.  I was really intrigued how everyone kept describing it differently.  How it was about different things to different people.

I asked Fleur if she’d read it on one of our long phone calls where books often came up.  She had not.  A few weeks later however, she had.

“Oh my god!” she enthused.  “You have to read it!”

And so eventually I did.  On a short trip to Fleur’s house in Canberra.  She pressed it into my hands and basically watched me read it.  I laughed.  A lot.

“Which part?  Which part?” she kept asking and I kept telling.

But then I stopped laughing so much.

Celeste.  It was Celeste.

Celeste, who had it all, perfect looks, perfect husband, beautiful house, beautiful children, overseas holidays.  More money than she knew what to do with.  

And a shameful secret.

For me, this book was about a woman deciding whether to leave a destructive relationship.

Celeste, who kept thinking about leaving, then changing her mind, planning to leave, then staying.  The excuses, the justifications, the damning self-talk.  The shame.  She could not trust her own instincts, her own thoughts, her own eyes.  The toxic relationship had become normal.

I talked to another friend about it who was in the middle of an awful divorce.

“There’s no way I could talk about that book at a book club,” she admitted.  “No way I could listen to the flippant conversation about it.”

I’m kind of glad I missed that meeting too.

I just reread it (probably due to the hoop-la about the TV series – I haven’t seen it yet but the word is that it’s very good).

There’s a lot of humour in this story about a group of women encountering each other as their children start school.  The competitive Mums, the bitchiness, the small events that get blown out of all proportion and become major dramas. All the “types” seem to be covered – the New Age Mum, the career Mum, the ambitious Mum, the helicopter parent, the single Mum.

But all the characters have secrets, hidden dimensions behind their clichéd facades.  I liked that too, because for all the snide remarks and petty back-stabbing, the women come together to protect and stand up for each other.

There’s a lot of truth in that too.

This week

By Vita Forest

Spit to Manly walk, Sydney


This week I have been 

WRITING She should be

READING the lovely poems of Misuko Kaneko (Are you n Echo?)


GETTING back to the gym after missing it for about 10 days (all those parent teacher interviews…) My mental and physical health is much improved.

HOSTING Bookclub and 

EATING slow cooker pulled pork (mmm mmm).


PLANNING programs and units of work for next term.

FINISHING Term 1

SKETCHING again after all the rain, at the truly delightful Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour.


CATCHING up with Fleur and having a cuppa and a laugh.

WALKING the iconic Spit to Manly walk with Vastra and Saskia then

SWIMMING at Shelly Beach at Manly – a weekend can’t get much better than that!