Sunday, December 05, 2010

Governors Island 10K Race

The Hood family was up early on Sunday, October 3.  The occasion was our son Michael's first 10 kilometer race, held on Governors Island. We took the 7:10 AM ferry, but the race didn't start until 8:30 AM so we had plenty of time to enjoy the views. The sun hadn't been up long, as you can see from the hint of a sunrise in the pictures below. What you can't see are the strong gusts of wind reminding us that fall had arrived.

The Manhattan Financial District,
with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge on the right.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fernando found my phone!

On Sunday, October 3, I lost my cell phone. The last time I remembered having it was on the ferry returning to Manhattan from Governors Island.  Hoping that it wasn't on the bottom of the New York Harbor, I called it several times but no one answered.  Being an incurable optimist, though, I thought I'd wait a while before canceling the service.  Well, sometimes optimism is rewarded.  Later that evening someone named Fernando actually did call to say he had my phone! 

Fernando and I planned to meet the next day in Battery Park. When I asked how to find him, he said, "just ask anyone for Fernando."  He claimed he was well known to the park regulars since he works there every day as a Statue of Liberty impersonator. Tourists pay him to pose with them for pictures. If you're not familiar with this custom, check out the picture below.

Photo compliments of The Bowery Boys, used with permission,
from their 2008 blog post entitled Spawn of the Statue of Liberty

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Thoreau You Don't Know

© 2009, HarperCollins Publishers, used with permission

I just finished reading The Thoreau You Don't Know: What the Prophet of Environmentalism Really Meant by Robert Sullivan, published in March 2009. From the outset let me say that Bob's daughter is a fellow musician in the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra. Therefore, I have had passing conversations with Bob on several occasions. So yes, this is a somewhat biased review.  Please read it anyway!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Close Encounter with a Snapping Turtle

I had seen real, live snapping turtles before, in zoos or shelters, but not in the middle of a lonely country road. As snappers go, he wasn't even that big, but he was still an awesome sight. Here he is, just as I saw him from the car, happily basking in the late afternoon sun smack in the center of the road in Greene County, New York (which is in the Catskill Mountains).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Enameling with Catherine Crowe

Since this was my sixth time attending Catskills Irish Arts Week (CIAW), I decided to try my hand at one of the Celtic art classes: enameling. The class was taught by Catherine Crowe, who made the enamel crown on my new flute.  I took a pretty consistent set of pictures during the work on my first piece. These pictures offer a glimpse at the process, starting with the copper strips above which will become earrings.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Catskills Bound

The title of this post is a throwback to a similar one written last year as I prepared to go to Ireland. As a matter of fact, at this time last year I was already in Miltown Malbay, having the time of my life at Willie Clancy Week. I've been reliving many fond memories and wishing I had gone back this year. Life (and finances) dictated otherwise, so this year I'm returning to the humble hamlet of East Durham, NY, for the Catskills Irish Arts Week (CIAW) - which is, after all, the best the US has to offer when it comes to traditional Irish music festivals. I leave on July 11th and, truth be told, I'm getting pretty excited about it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A few rays of hope...

We've all been sickened by all the continuing horrors of the BP oil spill and its perverse effects on the environment. Dead sea turtles floating in pools of oil or washed up limp and lifeless on the oily beaches. Gulls and pelicans doused with oil. The heartbreaking images seem unending.

Still, a few people are trying to do what they can. On June 4 the New York Times carried a story about the rehab work with the brown pelicans of Fort Jackson, Louisiana. Once very common in that area, the brown pelican was nearly wiped out in the 1960's by the effects of DDT pesticides. Since then it has made an amazing comeback, and last year the brown pelican was taken off the endangered species list. Now its existence is threatened again. Rescue workers are trying to prevent that. They have been capturing the birds, as many as possible, some so heavily coated with oil that they cannot stand. They are fed and hydrated and cleaned up, and as of June 4th all of the rescued birds had survived. Please click the link here and read the story for more details.

On June 16 CNN ran video report on the rescue of a nest of 105 Loggerhead turtle eggs laid on Orange Beach, Alabama. The hatchlings would be in danger from the oil as well as from the cleanup efforts. Again, a few people did what they could. They moved and protected the nest, and when the eggs hatch, they will be moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where the water is still clean. Please click here and watch the short video.

I know the efforts of these few good people are only a drop in the proverbial bucket. The number of birds that can be cleaned will be only a small percentage of those that will die. The turtle that laid the eggs has already returned to the oily sea, and one wonders about her fate. And hey, the reason turtles lay so many eggs is that the survival rate of hatching is low even in good times. (Very small turtles are quickly gobbled up by other sea creatures and probably brown pelicans too!) Still, we cling to these few rays of hope that endangered species will survive and that the environment will not be ruined forever.

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour Suggestions

(updated June 14, 2012)

photo by William Warby
(permission for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence)

The time it takes to see the Statue of Liberty can range from an hour to a whole day. I've divided up the options into various sightseeing scenarios. Times Square is the point of departure.

Scenario ONE - visit to Liberty Island and possibly Ellis Island as well:  4-7 hours total from Times Square and back.

Important note:  The inside of the Statue of Liberty will be closed for renovation until approximately November 2012.  You cannot climb up the Statue or visit the museum in the lobby.  You may take the boat out to Liberty Island for close-up views of the Statue and incredible views of the Manhattan skyline.  You will enjoy the lovely park around the Statue on Liberty Island.  But that won't take too long.  Therefore, your visit to Liberty Island would probably be less than an hour, making the total time for this trip more like 4 hours, depending on how long you spend in the museum at Ellis Island.

From Times Square, take the Downtown #1 subway to the South Ferry stop. (takes about 30 min) This lets you off on the WEST side of Battery Park. Walk into the park and follow the signs to Castle Clinton National Monument.

Statue of Liberty ferries depart from Battery Park and go first to Liberty Island and then to Ellis Island before returning to Battery Park. Tickets can be purchased online, a MUST during peak tourist seasons. (See the link in the next paragraph.) The ticket you purchase entitles you to visit both Liberty Island and Ellis Island. There is no cost for the museums on those islands, but I think there is an additional fee to go to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Audio headsets for self-guided tours cost extra also.

Going out the the Statue, looking around, and returning is normally about a 3-hour venture.  (Allow only an hour between November 2011-November 2012 while renovations have closed the inside of the Statue to visitors.)  Here's the website with info about the Statue of Liberty National Monument, including online ticket purchase. Be sure to note the bit about climbing stairs. Also, please understand that I consider the time estimates on the Statue of Liberty National Monument website to be grossly underestimated. My estimates here are based on actual visits and on the assumption that you READ as you peruse the museums!

There is another little island out in the New York Harbor called Ellis Island. In the early days when people were coming to the United States in droves, they were sent first to Ellis Island where government officials "processed" them before letting them into the country. Often they were detained for quite a long time. Ellis Island was eventually closed down and lay dormant out there in the harbor for 30 years. In 1990 a museum was established, and the island came alive again with fascinating immigrant stories. Some Americans are able to see histories and items belonging to family members. The exhibit is really timeless, though, as people emigrate from one place to another today for all sorts of reasons, and many of their struggles are the same. The Ellis Island museum is both a particular history as well as an account of a more universal experience. If this sort of thing interests you, I highly recommend going on to Ellis Island as well.

photo by Ken Thomas
(public domain photo, no permission required)

Scenario TWO - view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry: 2 hours total, from Times Square and back.

If you're pressed for time and all you want is a really nice view of the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry from the tip of Manhattan over to Staten Island, then turn around and come back. The Staten Island Ferry is free and the views of the Statue as well as the Manhattan skyline are terrific!

From Times Square, take the Downtown N, R, or W subway to the Whitehall Street stop. (takes about 30 min.) Walk to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. You'll see it when you come up from the subway.

The Staten Island Ferry website has not only the ferry schedules but cool info about the boats and their history.

Scenario THREE - view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, combined with other sightseeing in the nearby Financial District. All the places noted below are in walking distance of each other. Depending on how many stops you make, the time can vary from 2 hours to an entire day.

If you're starting at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, you see these things in this order. First the ferry ride to see the Statue as described in Scenario Two, then:
  • First stop is the Fraunces Tavern, located on Pearl Street very near the Staten Island Ferry. It is a small building with a museum containing many interesting Revolutionary War relics, also a comfortable pub and an upscale restaurant. George Washington said goodbye to his officers here at the end of the Revolutionary War.
  • Walk north on Water Street, turn right at Fulton Street and roam through the South Street Seaport. The Seaport contains a maritime museum as well as many shops and restaurants.
  • Walk south to Wall Street. Strolling west on Wall Street, you will see the famous view always shown on TV news programs.
  • At Wall and Broad Streets you will see Federal Hall where our first president, George Washington, took his oath of office.
  • At Wall and Broad Streets, facing west and looking to your left down Broad Street, you will see the New York Stock Exchange.
  • On the far west end of Wall Street is Trinity Church (at Wall Street and Broadway) - a beautiful historic church with a cemetery next door. Go inside, look around, have a seat, rest your feet and meditate.
  • Walking North on Broadway just a few blocks will bring you to St. Paul Chapel at Broadway and Fulton Street. St. Paul's is another historic church in an entirely different architectural style from Trinity. St. Paul's contains many memoirs of the World Trade Center disaster, as this was church was a base station all through the recovery efforts. (On the website, look for Ground Zero Ministry)
  • In back of St. Paul Chapel is the World Trade Center site. The construction of new buildings on the site is still in progress, but memorial is now open.  I haven't been there yet, but friends tell me it is beautiful and very well done.  
  • Behind the World Trade Center site is The World Financial Center. Go inside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the huge atrium - maybe a concert too if you're lucky!
  • As you exit the Atrium towards the river, you'll see a beautiful yacht marina on the Hudson River.
  • Walk south through Battery Park City, a new apartment and business complex with lovely walkways and parks and a GREAT view of the Hudson River. Looking south, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance!
Walk all the way to the end of Battery Park City, and you will come to Battery Park where you can find the South Ferry subway stop on the #1 Train which will return you to Times Square.

If you spend the whole day on Scenario One at Liberty & Ellis Islands, but still want to see the places listed in Scenario Three, you can return the next day and do just the Financial District attractions.

These are some of my favorite sites in New York. Hope you enjoy them too!

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood 
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cemetery Dance

Cemetery Dance, the New York Times bestseller by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, is an interesting and often absorbing murder mystery was set in Manhattan.  It is always fun to read about various Manhattan landmarks since that's where I live. Zombies commit murders, and exotic West Indian voodoo references are plentiful. The book held my attention throughout most of its 566 pages, but in the end it let me down.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Congratulating Mike Rafferty

I want to add my congratulations to Mike Rafferty for being named a 2010 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship. This award is the highest honor the United States awards to traditional musicians. I'm very pleased to see Mike recognized in this way. He surely does deserve it - for the students he's taught, the recordings he's made, and for being such a presence in the Irish music scene in both North America and in Ireland.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mourning Pete's-A-Place

Pizza box from Pete's

On May 12th a terrible fire occurred in our neighborhood, completely destroying the Stuyvesant Convenience Store and Pete's-A-Place. Local television station NY1 provided coverage (click here to view the short video). Accounts of the fire also appeared in the NY Daily News, the Gothamist, and the Village Voice. Neighborhood blogger Ed Grieve posted loads of pictures. The best details about the cause of the fire came from the NY Post: a welding accident at Pete's ignited some cooking grease during the installation of a fire safety device. Ironic, isn't it?

We shall miss the Stuyvesant Convenience Store. It was open 24 hours a day. If you were catching an early flight, you could get a cup of coffee at 4 AM to sip in the cab on the way to the airport. If you were coming home late, you could pick up milk, orange juice, and cat food to ensure a smooth start to the next day. The Stuyvesant Convenience Store was the only place I could reliably find the correct battery for my now-outdated digital camera (which I may now have to replace). Day or night, the guys at the cash registers would often joke with us. "Where you been? I didn't see you for a while..." when you were there just yesterday. Or, ringing up the bill, they might say something like "That will be $100" to erase a preoccupied look from your face. We will surely miss the Stuyvesant Convenience Store. There are similar stores in the neighborhood, it's true, but in addition to the fact that they're all a little farther away, they don't know us.

The bigger impact, though, will result from the loss of Pete's-A-Place. When my husband and I moved into Stuyvesant Town in 1976, Pete's was already well established. We ordered carry-out pizza pretty regularly, as did everyone else in this end of Stuy Town. After our son was born, Pete's took on a different meaning. You could take a group of kids in there for pizza, and the owners and staff never complained about noise or mess. The arrival of Italian ices at Pete's marked the true beginning of summer. How our children would beam with pride when they were finally old enough to approach the counter, dollar in hand, and order their own "icie." It was a neighborhood rite of passage! For adults, pizza from Pete's became a point of reference -- the crust was thinner than Pete's (read: too thin), the sauce was spicier than Pete's (too spicy), there wasn't as much cheese as Pete's, etc. You could order off-menu too. If they had the ingredients, they would make whatever you asked for and price it fairly. My husband's standard order was spaghetti with mushroom sauce and one meatball. Along with an assortment of Italian dishes and pizza, they also served Jamaican meat patties with coco-bread, a favorite with my son. And let's not forget the buffalo chicken wings! Even though I've been a vegetarian now for about 2 years, I would occasionally "cheat" by having just one of Pete's chicken wings when someone else in the family ordered them. Pete's delivered food to our apartment at least twice a week -- because there was sufficient variety on the menu, because we enjoyed the food, because it was convenient, and because the guys at Pete's were like old friends. We have no idea what we will eat next week!

Losing Pete's will change character of the neighborhood. More personally, it will change our lifestyle, and I venture to say we're not the only family in this predicament. I have no idea how to contact any of the owners or employees at Pete's. I can only hope that somehow they will find this blog, because I'd like to say thank you. From our family and on behalf of the whole neighborhood, thank you for helping define this neighborhood. Thank you for making life easier. To the delivery guys, thanks for trekking through snow and rain with our dinner. To those behind the counter, thanks for enduring hordes of young children and for providing teens a safe haven. Thanks for converting cups of change into paper dollars for the homeless people in our neighborhood. Thanks for your kindness and patience with handicapped patrons. Over the years I've consistently witnessed all these things. We're all glad no one was hurt in the fire, and we hope Pete's owners can rebuild and come back from this tragic event.

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Monday, April 19, 2010

Breaking the Silence / Angela's Ashes

Every now and then this blog goes silent because my schedule goes completely out of control. But now I'm back. I have loads of things I've been waiting to post. The "travels" topics range from some in-depth description of my adventures in East London last summer to recommendations about sightseeing in New York. Although vegetarian concerns are still a theme of this blog, I can't say I have any urgent "truffles" posts. However, I have an interesting "tunes" post coming up, as well as a new "technology" feat to report -- and you can be sure that "turtles" will creep in somehow!

I have just finished reading Angela's Ashes for the third time. I love that book. Every time I read it, I appreciate it for a different reason. This time I zoned in on how as young children we don't see how bad things really are. Regardless of what is wrong (poverty, bad parenting, poor relationships amongst family members), we accept our family life until we mature enough to start realizing that other families are different. Frank McCourt illustrates the lovely things as well as the unlovely things about both his parents, without bemoaning or extolling either aspect.

So come on back! Blogging season is in full bloom - just like spring!

To see blog posts about other books I've read, click HERE.

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Snow of 2010

New Yorkers got pounded with snow in January and February. Two of the bigger storms hit on January 2 and February 10. Generally I'm not a big fan of snow, but this year it was especially pretty because there was very little wind. The snow could cling to the branches of the trees, and my everyday world took on a bit of magic.

Here are the best of my winter snow pictures. Most are from Stuyvesant Town, the Manhattan apartment complex where I live. Others are from Times Square where I work.

The Stuyvesant Town Christmas tree looked quite elegant in the snow!

A completely different type of evergreen, I can't decide if this tree looks ballerina-like and comical, or menacing and ghoulish.

Back view of the playground outside the building where I live.
It's closed today, kids.

Front view of the same playground. Note the time on the clock over the center structure. It's 10:30 AM and I'm clearly late for work.

A cluster of snow-lined trees.

The red bark on this tree contrasts nicely with the snow.

The cab adds a splash of color.

Times Square, looking north on Seventh Avenue. Here, the snow melts quickly from the traffic and the heat of the subway under the street. My camera wasn't able to show how hard it was snowing, but that's why the cars and buses all have their headlights on at 11:20 AM when this picture was taken.

From the 15th floor of the office building where I work, we can see the snow gracing Madame Toussaud's hand atop her wax museum located on 42nd Street.

6:43 PM and it's still snowing in Times Square.
Yes, friends, I went to work in a blizzard. Sad...

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Flute Journey Continues

Since the December 25th arrival of my Peter Noy flute, I've been happily adapting to it. Both my embouchure and my hands are undergoing many changes. As I practice every day, I see rapid progress. If nothing else, switching from flute to flute over the past few years has taught me how to quickly adjust to a new instrument, a skill I hope I will no longer need!

Playing a different flute involves work in several areas.
  • EMBOUCHURE: One must learn how best to direct air across the flute's blow hole so that a variety of timbres can be produced and proper pitch can be maintained. This area of work involves strengthening and retraining the muscles of the face and lips.
  • HANDS: One must train the fingers to cover the holes. The fourth finger (the ring finger) on each hand is usually the most problematic, as it is the weakest and hardest to control. The finger span of my hands is average, but even so, I need to develop more strength to consistently cover the holes when playing at top speeds.
To strengthen my embouchure and hands, I am doing two types of work:
  • TECHNICAL: Long tones develop embouchure strength and accurate pitch. Finger exercises allow me to work on various patterns that will develop my coordination while I gain strength in the wider hand stretch required of my right hand. I'm working on my left hand position, rolling the headjoint inwards to give more freedom to my left wrist and to better balance the flute against my index finger. I'm also paying attention to throat articulation and the position of my right thumb.
  • TUNES: To keep from being bored out of my mind, I declared January to be Polka Month. Polkas are easy to learn and fun to play in sessions. Conal O'Grada, my teacher at Willie Clancy Week last summer, taught us some polkas so I reviewed those. I'm also learning a few from Fliuit, a flute instructional tutor by June McCormack as well as from The Irish Flute Player's Handbook by flutemaker Hammy Hamilton. I've worked on 15 polkas in January and I'm having a pretty good time, so maybe I'll keep going for another few weeks.
Thinking about how I came to develop these transitioning skills, I started to recall my journey through Irish traditional music. Being an inveterate list maker, my recollections took the form of a timeline which begins before I started blogging. Once the blog was established, I had a place to reflect on my frustrations and record my progress. Note the links and corresponding labels used for grouping similar topics.

The collage below makes the point in a more concise way, showing the variety of instruments I've played since 2003.

Top left - borrowed
Casey Burns keyless boxwood flute
Top middle - my Cillian Ó Briain tin whistle (2004 photo, lesson with Mary Bergin)
Top right - Peter Noy head joint, on loan, for my silver flute
Bottom left - borrowed Terry McGee keyless African blackwood flute
Bottom middle - my Casey Burns mopane folk flute
Bottom right - my Wm. S. Haynes handmade solid silver flute
Center - my Peter Noy 6-keyed boxwood flute

Yes, the years since that momentous visit to Ireland in 2003 have been full of growth and adventure. During that time I've become acculturated in the world of traditional Irish music and have learned many tunes. I've experimented with Irish piano accompaniment and have discovered I can sing a bit when I'm of a mind to do so. I've even tried set dancing. Flute is my primary interest though, and now that I have a good instrument I'm ready to do some serious work on my playing abilities. If only there were more hours in the day!

© 2010, Linda Mason HoodTruffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Music in the Mountains and on the Subway

On January 16, 2010, the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra performed in Queens at the New York Irish Center. Our pianist, Brendan Dolan, was giving a lecture called Music in the Mountains. This fascinating talk focused on a region of the Catskills where Irish Americans have vacationed for generations. Brendan researched this topic for his master's degree in Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University. The event was well attended and the food was great. Click here to see the New York Irish Center's report which includes a few pictures.

I traveled to our gig by subway. Nothing unusual about that. I was plugged into my iPod listening to a recent CD by Green Fields of America. The WSHSO plays many of the tunes on particular CD, so I was tappin' my foot and gettin' in the groove for the evening's performance when a young woman named Lisa interrupted me. Lisa explained that she was interviewing people for her blog called What Are They Listening To On The Subway. We chatted, she made careful note of my music and snapped my picture. In just a few minutes my routine subway ride was turned into a real New York adventure. Click here to see the post. Thanks, Lisa, and good luck with your project!

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My New Flute!

It arrived on Christmas day. A post office deliveryman rang my doorbell at 10:56 AM and handed me the package I've been waiting for since May 8, 2008. My new flute is finally here!

My Merry Christmas!
A new coat (with tags still dangling from the sleeve), a new watch, and a flute!

The flute Peter Noy made for me is a six-keyed boxwood flute. The head joint is unlined and unthinned, with a Cooper cut embouchure which includes a blow edge insert made of horn. The rings which reinforce all the joints are made of horn as well. Modeled after the Rudall & Rose 19th century flutes, it has rather large Nicholson-style finger holes. The middle joint is divided. With six keys, it is a fully chromatic instrument. The traditional Irish repertoire doesn't use the flute's third octave, but this flute does in fact have a viable and pleasant sounding third octave.

The flute, cleaning rod, and humidifier rest in modified art supply case.

The head crown of my flute was made by Catherine Crowe of Toronto, an enamel artist and traditional Irish singer I met in the Catskills. Unbeknownst to me, Peter and Catherine have been friends for years, which is how Peter came to have the enamel crown Catherine made. Reading my blog posts, Peter recently discovered that I knew Catherine as well and suggested I might like her crown on my flute.

Catherine's art uses patterns and objects that draw their significance from the folklore of ancient Celtic, Scythian and Etruscan cultures. The pattern she used for the flute's crown is the Celtic triple spiral. According to Catherine, The triple spiral is one of the oldest Celtic designs. It was in use from the 7th century BC right up to the present. This particular one is based on an enamelled escutcheon from around the 7th century AD. (Click here for more information)

Interestingly, Catherine's triple spiral is very similar to Peter's logo which incorporates a stylized representation of the three-pronged trillium, the emblem and official flower of Ontario. The trillium holds special significance for Peter because he grew up in Ontario and lived in Toronto for many years.

Like the flute makers of old, Peter engraves his logo on each section of the flute. The main stamp, to the right of the right-most ring in the picture below, has the letters NOY arranged in a semi-circle under the trillium shape. From this photo's prespective the stamp is on its side, with the N at the bottom. The main stamp is located on the flute's third joint. The stamp Peter uses on all the other joints is simply a very tiny trillium, as seen on either side of the left-most ring. You can see these a little better, especially the one on the lighter piece of boxwood. Double-click on the picture below to enlarge it.

At first I thought Catherine's design was a fancier form of Peter's logo. However, in email conversation with both Catherine and Peter, I realized that each design was distinct, with its own meaning and story. It's a rather an uncanny coincidence that the two are so similar!

In the end, I came to appreciate the synchronicity of my flute's two symbols. It reminds me of the ribbons in a Celtic knot, twisting through both personal and historical circumstances. All of the Canadian provinces, including Ontario, took in many immigrants from Ireland, particularly during 1800's as a result of the Great Famine. As a result, Ontario has a rich and lively Irish community, with an Irish Canadian population of approximately two million people according to the 2006 census. Living in Ontario and participating in the Irish community, both Catherine and Peter would have been exposed to many Celtic patterns over the years. Likewise, I'm sure they both would have seen the trillium represented in many forms for various reasons. In an email exchange with Peter about the relationship of his trillium logo to the triple spiral, he concluded it was what Joyce called " the ineluctable modality of the visible." (and if you need help with that statement, as I did, click here)

In closing, here are a few more pictures. Actually, taking good flute pictures is quite difficult. One needs a much better camera than mine and proper lighting to prevent the the flash or the sun from reflecting off the finish and distorting the rich hues of the wood. Nevertheless, I hope these photos will give you some idea of the marvelous workmanship that goes into a Peter Noy flute. I'm just thrilled with it. Bet you never would have guessed!!

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Friday, January 01, 2010

Testing the Times Square Ball

This year I had to work on December 30, 2009. I was happy about going to work on this particular day because being in the office meant I would be able to watch the test of the New Year's Eve ball drop. From the 30th floor of the Times Square office building where I work, I had a great view of an event which very few people get to see. Naturally I took a few pictures.

Here, the unlit ball is resting at the bottom of the pole behind the Toshiba sign.

Here's a closer view of the ball, showing one of it's many colored patterns.

The test of the ball went well, as you can see below. Using iMovie I was able to splice together several short video clips taken with my digital camera. The background music is Ramsey Lewis playing What Are You Doing New Year's Eve. Have a look!

(Tip: the video quality is better if you don't go to the full screen view. It's a rather old camera.)

Two years ago I wrote about the 100th Times Square Ball-Drop. Last year a new ball was installed. The Times Square Alliance website describes last year's ball as follows: "The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is a 12 foot geodesic sphere, double the size of previous Balls, and weighs 11,875 pounds. Covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals and powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS, the new Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square."

For the 2009 ball drop, the new 2008 ball was modified to include 288 new Waterford crystal panels. The clear glass panels have a swirling Celtic design with a colored icon in the center. The YouTube video below offers more details and shows closeups of the panels.

Twenty-Ten... 20-10... It has rather a nice ring, don't you think? It's a number that is fun to say aloud. (Remember how pleased you were when you realized you could count backwards?!) We can't turn back the clock. I'm not even sure we would want to. (Ok, I lied - maybe we could turn it back just a little bit!!) All kidding aside, though, hopefully 2010 will be an upbeat year in which we take more joy from the basic, simple pleasures of life and focus on what's really important.

Happy New Year!

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement