Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This Is Not The Story You Think It Is...

\This is Not the Story You Think It Is...  A Season of Unlikely Happiness is often misunderstood or misrepresented.  Many online reviews say it's about how one woman saved her marriage.  Those reviews prove only that the reviewer really didn't "get it."  No, this book by Laura Munson is really about how a woman married 20 years saved herself.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Ties

I read Family Ties because I found myself in an airport without a book to take onto the plane.  Having never read anything by Danielle Steel, I hoped this book would be an absorbing page-turner that would make the flight pass quickly.  WRONG!  Family Ties was predictable and repetitive and contained no pithy truths about family relationships. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Case of Need

A Case of Need is a novel based on the facts and politics of abortion before Roe vs. Wade.  The book was published in 1968 under the pseudonym of Jeffery Hudson and won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1969.  In 1993 A Case of Need was re-released under the author's real name, Michael Crichton.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Irish Christmas, A Musical Solstice Celebration

They say good things come in threes...  and here is the third CD this year on which the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra appears.  Amazing!

An Irish Christmas, A Musical Solstice Celebration was recorded last year during the Irish Christmas shows at the Irish Arts Center.  The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra has been part of these shows since their inception four years ago, so it was only natural that we should appear on the CD.  Our track is a song called The Rebel Jesus written by Jackson Browne.  Louise Sullivan is the lead vocalist.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

In Partnership with the Poor

Artwork by the children of the Mercy Centre


"Waltz Me Around Again, Willie" -- my song with the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra -- has been released on the CD entitled In Partnership with the Poor:  Irish musicians for the Mercy Centre, pictured above.

To order, click HERE.

Your purchase will help fund a music program for the children of the Mercy Centre, a highly successful charitable organization in Bangkok, Thailand.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tributes to Mike Rafferty

Mike Rafferty died on September 13, 2011. If you're a regular or even an occasional reader of this blog, you know that Mike was very important to me.  To officially mark his passing, I have noted below the many remembrances he received.  I have compiled this list mainly for myself, but others may find such a reference meaningful or useful.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fatherly Connections

Ralph Mason (left) and Mike Rafferty (right)

Ralph Mason and Mike Rafferty were two very different men.  Ralph was my father, Mike was my flute teacher.  I began lessons with Mike in 2004, six years after my father died.  Over time, I found myself making comparisons between them.  A few similarities existed despite the fact that other things about them seemed to be reversed, just like their initials.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Updated July 4, 2012 

This post honors my Irish flute teacher and mentor, Mike Rafferty, who died on September 13, 2011.  At the time of his passing, so many people posted touching tributes on Mike's Facebook page (which was and still is maintained by his family).  The most moving of those remembrances, for me anyway, was the piece written by another one of his students, Brian Holleran. Although my association with Mike was not as long or as intimate as Brian's, the essence of my relationship with Mike --- indeed, of Mike's relationship to all his students -- has much in common with what Brian describes below.  Thanks, Brian, for giving words to what many have experienced and for allowing me to share it on my blog. 

by Brian Holleran

Photo by Tom Madden, used with permission.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Hawksbill Turtles Adapt

Turtle Tidbit #6 reports the amazing discovery that the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle, thought to be nearly extinct in the eastern tropical Pacific, may not be in fact not so close to extinction after all.  Now that fact alone is newsworthy, but the reason behind that statement is what really excited me. Get this: Hawksbill Turtles moved to a new habitat!  Researcher Alexander R. Gaos says, "This is a unique behavior that represents a new life history paradigm for this species..."   And we are talking about a species that's been around for millions of years.  Imagine that!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Galapagos Tortoises

Turtle Tidbit #5 is an "eyewitness report" on the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands. A friend of mine recently vacationed in the Galapagos Islands. Her adventure is recorded on her blog via the link below. In her post on August 17, 2011, Nancy writes about her reactions as well as about the tortoises. What she says is exactly what I imagine I would be thinking if I had been there. I totally recommend this post to you, and be sure to double-click on her high resolution photos. Each time you click, the picture get bigger! 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Andre Returns to the Sea

Turtle Tidbit #4 is a report on Andre, a green sea turtle who was severely injured by motorboat propellers in June 2010.  Advanced medical techniques such as VAC therapy and Strattice Reconstructive Tissue Matrix implants saved Andre's life.  Green sea turtles are classified as endangered in Florida, where this incident took place.  Coverage appeared on Reuters website on August 5, 2011.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Padraig O'Keeffe's Slide

On April 27-30, 2011, I attended Cruinniú na bhFliúit (The Flute Gathering) in the village of Ballyvourney in West Cork, Ireland. Modeled after pipers' gatherings, this workshop is completely focused on traditional Irish flute playing with lots of good discussion of flutes, flute technique, flute problems, flute tunes, and various flute playing styles. Organizers Hammy Hamilton and Conal O'Grada keep the attendance intentionally small to allow people to become acquainted personally as well as musically. The intimacy that's achieved promotes learning and sharing.

Instruction is a core element of the Cruinniú. The 40 or so flute players in attendance were divided into four groups. Each group received three hours of instruction from each of the four teachers: Hammy Hamilton, Conal O'Grada, John Wynne, and Aoife Granville. Additionally, each person enjoyed 20 minutes of one-on-one advice from Tara Bingham whose flute clinic ran concurrent with the classes.

In this post I want to focus on one of the tunes we learned from Aoife (pronounced EE-fah) Granville, a Padraig O'Keeffe slide(1). O'Keeffe, a noted performer, teacher, and composer, came from the Sliabh Luchra area of Ireland near the borders of Counties Cork, Kerry, and Limerick where slides and polkas(1) are very popular. This slide was the first tune I learned at the Cruinniú. I had never heard it before (or so I thought), and I really liked it. In fact, I was quite taken with Aoife's playing and enjoyed all the tunes she taught us.

Aoife Granville

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

JFK's Tweeting Turtles

Wikipedia's public domain photo by Mary Hollinger, NODC biologist, NOAA

Turtle Tidbit #3 is a report on the diamondback terrapins on the runway today at JFK International Airport. Flights were delayed by about 30 minutes while airport officials picked up the turtles and relocated them to a safer nesting area. JFK Airport borders Jamaica Bay where the turtles live. They leave the water every year around this time to lay eggs, and their appearance at JFK is an annual event. Today there seemed to be an unusually large number of them -- the highest count I read was 150.

The press had a field day with this story. Please check all the links below for the variety of pictures they contain as well as the audio from the flight tower.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Advice on Snapping Turtle Eggs

Photo by Brian Cook, used with permission
My friend Brian was excited to discover that his resident snapping turtle (Common Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina) laid eggs in the field near the pond on his property. Sadly, the eggs never hatched. Instead, they provided a gourmet breakfast for some local crows. Brian wondered if he should have done something to protect the vulnerable eggs. Good question!

Trying to provide him with some sound advice, I checked all my favorite turtle sites on the internet and did numerous Google searches. Interestingly, I didn't come up with very much information, so I took my many questions to Julie Maguire, a New York State Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator who runs Turtle Rescue of Long Island. Here are her answers:

Monday, June 06, 2011

Turtles Pay Tribute to Victims of War

Turtle Tidbit #2 is a report on the sculpture installation by French artist Rachid Khimoune. Now installed on Normandy's Omaha Beach, the exhibit consists of 1000 soldier's helmets fashioned as turtles. It protests global violence and commemorates the 67th anniversary of D-Day. Coverage by The Associated Press appeared in many newspapers today.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

In Pursuit of the Elusive Gopher Tortoise

(This post is a follow-up to my previous post dated May 18, 2011.)

Less than a week after learning gopher tortoises existed, I found myself in gopher tortoise territory. If there were enough gopher tortoises to warrant road signs, surely I could see one during our four-day visit to Sanibel Island to attend my cousin's wedding. I vowed to check out a few places where gopher tortoises might be seen in the free time between wedding events and family gatherings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gopher Tortoise and NASA Space Shuttle

Turtle Tidbit #1 (the first post in my new series) is an AFP photo by Bruce Weaver published by Yahoo! News. The photo, seen by clicking the link below, was taken at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It depicts a gopher tortoise against the backdrop of a NASA space shuttle.  This photo is truly a contrast between the old and the new because the gopher tortoise originated in North America 60 million years ago, making it one of the oldest living species.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Waltz Me Around Again, Willie

Updated November 28, 2011


That's my song!

I sang it at Symphony Space on March 10th, backed by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra, and three harmony singers ...

I sang it again on March 18th at the Blarney Star concert at Glucksman Ireland House to launch the WSHSO's new CD ...

I recorded it with the WSHSO in May ...

I sang it at the launch of the Mercy Centre fundraiser CD, In Partnership With The Poor, on November 14 at the Irish Repertory Theatre ...

And it's now it's available for purchase!!
To order, click HERE.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Since Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley

The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra's FIRST CD is finished and released and available NOW on CDBaby and iTunes.  Entitled Since Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley, it features a great selection of traditional tunes and songs, many from the Golden Age of Irish-American music-making in the 1920s and ’30s.

Monday, March 14, 2011

WSHSO on Facebook!

Here's the link to the Facebook fan page for my Irish music group, the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra.  If you're a "Facebook person," please click on the image below and LIKE us.  Things are really popping these days, and we're posting frequent updates and lots of pictures!

© 2011, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Saturday, March 05, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Performances, 2011

(updated on March 20th with pictures and videos links!)

The season of St. Patrick actually began for me before I turned the calendar into March. The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra started rehearsing quite some time ago for our upcoming concerts. Here's a list of all our gigs, including the March 18th launch of our new CD Since Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Three Days in the Olympic Peninsula

(Part I of a three-part series on my 2010 vacation in the Pacific Northwest)

I hate winter. One of my most effective coping devices involves either planning future vacations or reliving vacations I've taken in the past. In the spirit of getting through the winter, then, here's the first of a three-part series devoted to my excursion to the Pacific Northwest in September of 2010, when my husband and I toured through the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle, southern British Columbia, and the Mt. Baker wilderness.

Part I will confine itself to our three days in the Olympic Peninsula. Our route is depicted below. The various locations I describe will match the letters on the map.

View Larger Map

Saturday, January 01, 2011

In memory of Kitcat...

As I admired our Christmas tree this year, I missed Kitcat. This was our second Christmas without him, without any cat at all. Although there are certain advantages -- no tinsel eaten and no ornaments broken -- I missed having a cat under the tree.