HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for May, 2009

Scarlett Oyster visits London

Posted by HelenEdith on May 31, 2009

Scarlett Oyster

Scarlett Oyster

Now that I’m working in The City of London again, I am renewing my interest in the shipping on The Thames. I can find out when boats like this one are visiting because their high mast means that they require a Tower Bridge lift, which has to be booked in advance, and for which a schedule is published.

This boat was a sailing yacht, and she was in London for a couple of days.

The picture was captured using my cameraphone. I could have hauled my DSLR up to town, but decided against it as the weather wasn’t that good, as you can probably see!

I’ve cropped in on Scarlett Oyster heself in the picture below. She is tied to a pontoon which is tied to HMS Belfast and you can see the crew crossing across the pontoon, from where there is a ladder up to the stern of HMS Belfast, which in turn has a gangplank to the south bank of The Thames.

Scarlett Oyster

Scarlett Oyster

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Book Review: Nora Roberts – Angels Fall

Posted by HelenEdith on May 31, 2009

Nora Roberts’ books are being categorised by the library more often these days as ‘Cri’ or ‘Fan’ than as ‘Rom’ and this one falls under the ‘Cri’ label.

Reece Gilmore survived a brutal crime and has since decided to go away on a journey of discovery. She fetches up in a small town called Angel’s Fist because her car breaks down; and when she finds out that the local diner needs a short order cook, she decides to stay a while and repair her finances.

There are some entertaining moments associated with someone who used to be a restaurant chef taking on the job of short order cook, not the least of which is the running battle with the owner over what herbs and spices are absolutely essential to have in a kitchen – and whether they should be dried or fresh!

The main plot of the story concerns a murder which Reece witnesses, but for which no evidence and no body can be found. The local writer, Brody, is the only person who believes Reece, but when strange things start happening to Reece, it seems that Reece really must have seen something that she wasn’t meant to.

Reece does eventually get a lead to follow up with Brody, and it draws the book to its climax, and eventually uncovers a murderer.

An enjoyable read.

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Hello from WordPress!

Posted by HelenEdith on May 30, 2009

I have migrated my blog to WordPress.com. This is my first WordPress post.

I’ve chosen a theme that seems to suit me and I’ve edited the posts where the images didn’t show up properly. I’m still categorising them, and will have to go back and manually apply my old Yahoo! 360° tags. I think I’ve got a few smilies to sort out as well. 🙂

Anyway, I’m about ready to turn on my RSS feed so that my blog posts show up on my FaceBook profile, and I’m all set to continue blogging in here.

I like the categories: my readers will be able to choose posts by category and those who aren’t interested in my book reviews or music posts will be able to limit themselves to the things that they are interested in relatively easily!

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Entry for May 30, 2009 – Yahoo! 360° is closing down

Posted by HelenEdith on May 30, 2009

My blog needs a new home.

I could move it to the new Yahoo Profile, but I like the www.wordpress.com community, and I’ve decided to go there instead. I’ve just set up my blog over there: helenedith.wordpress.com and need to figure out how to make it look the way I want it to. I’ll be taking as much of my stuff from here as I can, although I suspect that I might lose my comments. I don’t have many of those anyway, as most of the people who would wish to comment on my blog never signed up to Yahoo! 360° and therefore couldn’t leave comments. 😦

I’ve got a backlog of book reviews to post, but might wait until I’ve arrived at wordpress to do that. I thought about creating a separate blog for book reviews, but they’re part of the minutiae of my life, so I think I’ll keep them where they are – along with reports of concerts I have played in or attended, update announcements for my website, and of course the general minutiae of my daily life that I originally started this blog for!

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Website Update: Visit to RHS Wisley Gardens, Saturday 9th May 2009

Posted by HelenEdith on May 16, 2009

Stephen and I wanted a day out to enjoy the beauty of nature and maybe find some water to sit and look at; and we went to the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley. Although there was water there, the ponds weren’t as interesting as some that I’ve visited, but the spring flowers were lovely and we had the sort of day out that we were looking for.

The pictures I took during our visit are now up on my website here: RHS Wisley Garden Pictures – May 9th, 2009 – Index. They are spread out over three pages linked from this index, and have been grouped as indoor plants, outdoor plants, and everything else. The everything else includes buildings, statues, water features and fish!

Here are a few of the pictures you can find on the page linked above:

RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6505_ed_cr_3x2 The main house at Wisley, which forms the backdrop to the major water feature at the front of the gardens.
RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6401_ed Fish in one of the small ponds further into the garden.
RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6416_ed Wisteria. This one was growing on a rustic bridge near the fish, but there was wisteria in bloom anywhere that it had something to climb up.
RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6423_ed Rhododendron flowers. We visited during prime rhododendron time and saw them with flowers in a variety of colours throughout the central section of the garden.
RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6500_ed Our favourite peony. This flower was massive.
RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6308_ed Orchid. There were numerous varieties in the Greenhouse.
RHS_Wisley_20090509_IMGP6332_ed A rather pretty pink flower in the Greenhouse, whose name I didn’t write down. (Or photograph. The name, that is.)

You’ll have to visit the link provided if you want to see the rest of my pictures!

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Entry for May 07, 2009 – Joyce Edith Stephenson, 11th April 1920 – 4th May 2009

Posted by HelenEdith on May 7, 2009

It is my Mother’s funeral tomorrow (Friday) at 2pm in South Australia, and this is my personal eulogy.

I am not with you today, but I have written a few words to be read out on my behalf.

Mother was always there for me when I was growing up, and I will always be grateful to her for being a good mother. She regularly attended the Primary School Welfare Club meetings and later on, the High School Parents and Citizens meetings. She was on the sidelines when I attended Pony Club; and she made the journey into Mount Barker twice a week just to pick me up from music lessons.

Mother had too much to do between looking after in-laws, husband and family; plus assisting with farm tasks, so she simply didn’t have time to be houseproud. Possibly she didn’t possess the houseproud gene in any case! We always had the important things like plenty of good food on the table and clean clothes to wear – and nobody wanted to eat their dinner off the kitchen floor in any case, so she probably had her priorities about right!

She also never got around to the finer points of bed-making like hospital corners, but in this day and age of fitted sheets and duvets, such skills are largely redundant, so she was actually ahead of her time there.

Being an ex-teacher, she was always ready to help out with homework, although surprisingly for an ex-teacher, she did actually connive with me a few times when I wished to play truant from sport. She definitely felt that the “Three Rs” should have priority at school. We didn’t get away with much when it came to our Maths and English homework; but she used to cut us some slack on the “soft” subjects like Social Studies.

Mother believed in old-fashioned discipline. I have to agree with her rejoinder to my reminders over the course of many years about the time when I was wrongly punished for something that Alison did. She just said that if I could remember one incident so vividly that it must have been an isolated one and that she usually got things right!

Mother imparted a love of classical music in Alison and myself, although it seemed to miss Raymond. Mother was an excellent pianist who was in demand in the district for her skills at the keyboard. Her pianistic skills didn’t rub off on me despite some years of piano lessons, but those early lessons did give me the musical background I needed when I branched out into bassoon playing in my thirties. Mother said that she never expected to have a daughter who played the bassoon.

Mother had perfect pitch. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, she was able to tell exactly when a note was correctly in tune. I’d always known that she had this ability, but it really came home to me when she visited me in England and tried my digital piano. “It’s out of tune”, she said. Every note on that keyboard was in perfect tune relative to the other notes, but I had been behind it with a screwdriver and turned the tuning screw up a bit. The pitch was only raised a little bit, but she knew. That was an amazing demonstration of her ability to me.

This is possibly Raymond’s story rather than mine, as a friend of his features in it. Mother, despite being more than a decade younger than Daddy was much greyer than he was. I think she was often quite peeved by this, but never sufficiently so to resort to hair colour out of a bottle. She regarded that as a slippery slope, which once embarked upon, was very difficult to leave gracefully. Therefore, she was grey by the time she was fifty, but being grey did not mean that she was in any way slow. One day she was waiting at some traffic lights in Adelaide, and when the lights turned green, she floored the accelerator for a good getaway. The automatic transmission of the Holden we owned at the time responded enthusiastically, and the man in the next lane remarked to his son: “That old duck took off quick!” The son recognised the old duck in question as being the Mother of a school friend and shared the story with Raymond, who was that school friend. He in turn brought the story home and shared it with Mother, who far from being offended, was highly amused and thereafter the act of getting away quickly from a traffic light was known in our household as “doing an old duck”.

I used to consider Mother to be the more serious of my parents, but she did have a fun-loving side. I will never forget the time when she was visiting me in England and she suddenly stopped what she was doing, pointed to the wall behind where I was sitting, and said in urgent tones: “What’s that behind you!” My immediate thought was “spider!” and I jumped up from the sofa and was on the other side of the room before I saw the expression of absolute glee on Mother’s face. I’d been had!

Mother let a few opportunities in her earlier life slip by her and lived to regret them and was insistent in her advice that when an opportunity came along, if you wanted it, you should take it, as that opportunity may not present itself again. In my case, the big opportunity was a job on the other side of the World. I went abroad with the expectation that I would live abroad for two or three years and then return to Australia, but it didn’t work out that way, and almost exactly 30 years later, I am still living in England. Mother never expressed any regrets to me that one of her daughters was so far away. In fact, she visited me in England a couple of times, which may have been an opportunity she wouldn’t have had without a family member to stay with. She loved wandering around London and finding the places in her favourite travel book, H.V.Morton’s London.

That advice to grab opportunities when they are available undoubtedly deprived Mother of my frequent presence, and maybe I should apologise for not being there. However, we carried on a frequent correspondence for many years, and I often felt that I was in better touch with Mother than many children who lived much closer to their parents.

I will remember Mother, particularly when I hear certain piano pieces which she used to play – and also when I make my own rapid getaways from traffic lights!

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Book Review: Fern Michaels – The Marriage Game

Posted by HelenEdith on May 1, 2009

I have been reading Fern Michaels’ “Sisterhood” series, which is about revenge, and this book showed all the hallmarks of being about revenge, too, even though the library had classified it as “Rom” rather than “Cri”.

Samantha Rainford gets back from her 3-week honeymoon to discover that her new husband with whom she has just shared an idyllic honeymoon has served divorce papers on her. A trip to the law firm of Prizzi, Prizzi, Prizzi and Prizzi alerts her to the presence of three further ex-Mrs Rainsfords, who had apparently also suffered the 3-week honeymoon then divorce scenario. There’s not much Samantha can do about it right then, so she and her model friend Slick, who has just been replaced by a younger longer-legged model decide to join the FBI and spend the next six months in a training school at Quantico.

Both Sam and Slick don’t make the cut at the end of the course, and neither does Eric Hawkins. Sam, having a suspicion that she was going to wash out anyway, has been using FBI facilities to track down the other Mrs Rainfords, and when she duly washes out, along with Slick, they contact the other three Mrs Rainfords to make plans about getting even.

They also get recruited by a secret organisation who thinks that some of the FBI’s and CIA’s rejects have potential after all. In fact, all four Mrs Rainfords get recruited, and so does Eric Hawkins, the other FBI dropout. They all go off to Big Pine Mountain to start their training.

The training is tough, but the four Mrs Rainfords, plus Slick and Hawkins make an awesome team. When they get a week off before Christmas, Sam spends most of the week in a cyber café, tracking down further Mrs Rainfords. She suspects that there are more, and indeed she is correct. The problem is that she can’t track down Mr Rainford, who doesn’t seem to exist.

Enter the step-brother of one of the Mrs Rainfords. He’s a cop, and they put him onto the case while they go back for six months more of training. When they come out, he’s come up trumps for them, and it’s time to work out some payback.

There’s rather more than that to the story, and the “Rom” sticker on the back of the book’s spine does turn out to be justified as Sam falls in love with her instructor on Big Pine Mountain, although I wouldn’t really describe this book as exactly a romance. It was a satisfying read, though.

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