This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING Eye Contact

READING Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (it’s gonna take me a while but it’s a ripper!)

WATCHING The Eurovision Song Contest with my kids.

VISITING The Finders Keepers’ Markets at Barangaroo with Lucy and Briony and

DRINKING hot cider (Mmm Mmm)

SPENDING Saturday at school for some Professional Development on Spelling (do you know what “schwa” is?)

MAKING a whole bunch of tools out of silver foam for a Steam Punk inspired costume for our dance group.

TALKING and WALKING by the harbour with Lucy one day and Saskia the next.


CELEBRATING Mothers’ Day on Sunday, hope you all had a good day!

 

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.

This week

By Vita Forest

In the quadrangle at Sydney University


This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales Despatch 5: Christabel and the Huntsman

READING 

  • The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Phew! What an experience, great ending too).
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit (another gem).

WALKING 

  • part of the Great North Walk at twilight and seeing herons, tawny frogmouths and water dragons.
  • over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and around Barangaroo with Briony and some old school friends.

SNORKELLING at Shelly Beach, Manly in the crystal clear water amongst schools of fish and a teeny tiny seahorse – magic!

VISITING Sydney University with my sketching pals and 

GOING out of my comfort zone with an architectural subject (as another friend said “challenging but good”).

VISITING 

  • the MCA for the Tatsuo Miyajima Exhibition (poignant and introspective).
  • the dentist…

WATCHING 21 Grams again (what a great film).

MAKING a chair cover for Max’s armchair.

ENJOYING my staycation – Sydney is a great place to be in summer.

This week

By Vita Forest

img_0730

This week I have been

READING The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I’d forgotten how great it is!)

WRITING

WATCHING the Olive Kitteridge miniseries

CHEERING for Lucy in her inter-school dance performance (she even got to do a bit of public speaking!)

PRESENTING gold medals at our school’s Olympics day

EATING radicchio and Parmesan cheese salad in a pretty Japansese bowl

VISITING Sculpture at Barangaroo

This week

By Vita Forest

Barangaroo

Barangaroo

This week I have been

READING (voraciously, finishing one and immediately picking up the next.  My head has been in turmoil…)

  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
  • Those who leave and those who stay by Elena Ferrante

WRITING

WATCHING The Princess Bride with Lucy. Ah Inigo Montoya!

REMEMBERING Year 8 Algebra with Max (exams this week).

TEACHING in front of my Professional Learning group – we agree it’s always a little unnerving having anyone watch you…

EATING slow cooker roast pork after a tiring day at work – love coming home to the smells of dinner!

VISITING Barangaroo for a Sunday picnic.

A big space full of nothing

By Vita Forest

View from Barangaroo

View from Barangaroo

“Smog is a mixture of smoke and fog,” Lucy informed me today as the train sped into the city through the smog.  They are doing a lot of back-burning around Sydney at the moment and the smoke was thick again.

We walked down to Barangaroo to meet our pals for a picnic, the smell of smoke in the air.  But over the course of the day, the air cleared, the sun shone, the sky was blue.  Another summer day at the end of autumn.

“Is this north?” Lucy asked, pointing forward.  When I answered in the affirmative, she observed, “So we are walking towards the Arctic circle.”

Which we were, I supposed.

We waited near The Cutaway.  Lucy saw something bright and yellow floating in the water and bounded down the sandstone blocks to see what it was.  When she reached the sometimes-submerged rock, she kept going, despite the green moss, despite the slipperiness, and so slid and fell.  She stood up gingerly and inspected her hands and her seat as she climbed up again.

“It was a lemon,” she announced as she watched the heel of her hand swell and purple into a bruise.  She’s a tough one.

We sat in the sun and waited for Sui-Sui and Alessandro, for Saskia and Rowdy the dog.  The phone pinged, updating us on their progress, closer and closer.  Sui-Sui and Alessandro arrived first, hauling treats in an esky.  It was their first trip to Barangaroo.  I advised them to check out The Cutaway while we waited on Saskia, and in they went.

“What’s so good about The Cutaway?” asked Lucy, “It’s just a big empty space full of nothing.”

“Like my life… ” she added,  “Just kidding!”  Brat.

They returned and the phone rang again, Saskia was around the coastline minding a shady picnic spot by the water.  We joined her and Rowdy, spreading out picnic rugs and food.

Our colourful lunch

Our colourful lunch

We lazed in the sun or shade and watched the boats streak past around the headland and caught up on news.  We ate quinoa salad, tuna and corn fritters, mandarins and grapes and my new favourite chocolate cake that Lucy and I had made yesterday.

Rowdy made friends with the steady parade of promenading pooches and their owners that passed by.  Lucy recovered from her fall and climbed trees, leaped on rocks and did cartwheels.  She took Rowdy for runs around the headland and up and down stairs.  In the process she earned a fourth piece of chocolate cake (it was very tasty).

We talked about books and movies, parents and friends with babies, markets, studies and future trips.  The cake got smaller and smaller.

That pretty salad

That pretty salad

“Look!” shouted Saskia pointing behind us, “A native mouse!”

“It’s a rat!” corrected Alessandro.  But we agreed it was still cute.

The thermoses were empty, the tea was drunk, the last slice of cake disappeared.  We rolled up the picnic rugs and said our goodbyes.

“Now we are walking towards Antarctica,” said Lucy.

And we were.

Barangaroo

Barangaroo