Monday, August 30, 2010

celebrating dance

This past weekend my dance troupe Saguaro Bellydance performed a little number at San Diego's Celebrate Dance Festival out in Balboa Park. It was remarkable because we were joined by five of Christa's lovely students, and they certainly made the show. As many of you may know, we did a wild west themed set, dancing to several of Ennio Morricone's tracks from spaghetti westerns, along with some newer electronic stuff. It was the perfect fusion, and other than the CD player at the event being unable to read our CD, which worked fine in other players, it all went rather smoothly. Luckily we had all but one track on Christa's ipod, and so only had to give up performing the one. We had a super engaging audience, and I really had a blast up there. Christa and I choreographed all the songs for the set, and I designed the costumes and made many of them, and I have to give mad props to the girls for making parts of their costumes and for their creative style. I thought everyone looked really great, and it was so fun for us to have 5 more dancers up with us, as we are so used to it being just the two of us. Here are some pics from the show.

I got to see a couple of other dance groups perform as well, and they were all beautiful and amazing dancers. I loved being part of an event whose purpose is to celebrate my greatest passion in life. It's such a wonderful thing to share, and there are so many beautiful dancers and styles out there to see.

a visit from family

Two weekends ago, my mom and my aunt came out to Tucson to visit. It was so wonderful to have them here, as we most certainly rocked the desert.

They arrived Wednesday night with bags full of jewelry and fabric for me from my grandmother. She gave me some amazing jewelry pieces, that I have already worn in performance!

The following day we all made our way down to Tombstone- the old west town famous for the gunfight at the OK Corral. Sure it's a bit touristy these days, with souvenirs and actors, but it's really rather interesting to imagine what life must have been like on the real frontier. It's easy to glorify the wild west thanks to all the spaghetti westerns and cowboy stereotypes that exist, but in reality it must have been one hell of a hard life. I have so much admiration for all the people who endured it, because they made it possible for me to be here now, learning what I am from the desert. So anyway, I love visiting Tombstone.

We wandered the dirt streets and little shops, and even did one of those old time photos, which was really fun and really cheap, it being the 100 degree off season. Heading into Big Nose Kate's Saloon for a bit of libation is really like going back in time, as the decorations are all old west appropriate (and possibly partly authentic), and the waitresses all dress as saloon girls. The atmosphere was pretty laid back, and there were tons of tourists inside. There was even an old cowboy who interrupted our snack to bring us all over the bar taking funny pictures.

Later that night, I served them one of the many vegan gourmet dinners that I would make over their visit. They didn't seem to mind too much. :)

We spent the next day in antique/ thrift/ and second-hand stores (of which there are many) all over town. It was really fun. I haven't been shopping other than for food in who knows how long, and to have some lovely ladies to do it with was quite a treat, as all of my female friends in Tucson have young children, making the shopping experience quite a bit different. We found some amazing little treasures, had lunch at Lovin' Spoonfuls (the yummy vegan restaurant here), and ended the spree by a visit to the boot store, where they both found some lovely cowgirl boots to complete the desert experience. That night we watched some very talented fire dancers performing on 4th, and had a grand ol' time.

Saturday I took them to my favorite farmers' market, so we could stock up on fresh local veggies. There has been a couple selling herbs and spices the last several times I've been there, and I've been so excited about this. They have a killer curry, and most everything else I need on short notice, because when I order from Mountain Rose, it takes about a week to arrive (which is well worth it for bulk, but have immediate access is nice for a few things).

Mom and Janet helped me all day preparing for Satomi's goodbye party which was that evening. I made a soba noodle dish and a green tea agar agar dessert, which didn't turn out as I hoped. It was a bittersweet evening, because I hate saying goodbye to dear friends, but I was glad that the monsoon sort of sanctified the whole experience with a downpour, thunder, and lightning. All the kids had an absolute riot playing in the mud, and I think the adults were pretty jealous watching them.

After the party, we headed to the Surly Wench for a show by Black Cherry Burlesque. It was highly entertaining and at some parts extremely amusing.

The next morning we woke up early to go greet the desert morning at Sabino. You really have to be in the middle of it in order to experience the true abundance of the desert. A perfect thing to do before catching a flight home. Ah, more goodbyes. It will be really nice to live close enough to family to be able to see them more often.

It was so awesome having them here. Now, I'm trying to convince my dad to come out and visit. He would love it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

on the beach and around the house

This past weekend, we headed out for a bit of ocean breeze. San Diego was wonderful as always, albeit a bit too cold for my taste. This weekend was dress rehearsal for Saguaro's big performance at Celebrate Dance at the end of this month. The girls looked fabulous in their costumes, designed and sewn by yours truly.

Our afternoon at the beach involved one too many jackets, but I sincerely appreciated the chance to dig my toes into the sand and listen to the waves. Saturday evening we partook of some absolutely mouthwatering *vegan* Ethiopian food. Oh yum. I now hope to learn how to cook these things, because I really loved them.

A weekend of dance, good food, oceans, and sleeping in a tent can never be bad. Especially if it's all with the love of your life and your best friend. Definitely a good weekend.

Sometimes, though, it's the little things at home that can make me as happy as a grand adventure. Perhaps I need to give more credit to these things. Perhaps they are worthy of a post every now and then.

Today, I am awaiting the arrival of my mom and my aunt for a greatly desired visit to the desert. In preparation, I'm cooking up some collard greens, pinto beans, and butter"milk" cornbread. I buy dry beans in bulk and cook them over hours- which is a nice way to enjoy an afternoon. You can't leave because the beans are on, so you have to take a deep breath, relax, and read a book, or sip a cup of tea, or sing to the plants. I usually cook the beans in vegetable stock, which we make when we have enough vegetable scraps or veggies that are on their way out. Recently I've started to add herbs to the stock. Things like echinacea and burdock root that are happy to simmer for an hour or two, releasing their medicinal properties along with the veggies and more conventional cooking herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, fennel). I feel like this is a great way to get some extra "medicine." Not to mention a yummy stock. So now my pintos are beyond nutritional.

On a different note, I've been getting away from commercial body care products for a while now, but I've had lots of trouble finding a shampoo alternative. I've tried about 10 different homemade herbal shampoos, but they all involve a little bit of castille soap which is oily, and thus does not work on my oily hair. So I had been using Trader Joe's Tea Tree shampoo about once a week just to cut the grease. But the other day, I researched some alternative and found a great trick: Tea!! The tannins in tea will act as a grease cutter when sprayed onto your hair/ scalp. I spray it on, let it sit for a bit, and then rinse my hair out with water. Voila! My hair looks freshly washed. I'm super excited about this find. And, in my opinion, the best place to buy your tea (organic, fair trade, etc) is Mountain Rose Herbs. So, make yourself a pot of tea, drink a few cups, and spray the rest in your hair before a nice relaxing shower.

Now, it's time for lunch. I'm going to attempt a Japanese dish called Inari. My friend so kindly gave me her recipe, and went with me to the Asian market to find all the right ingredients. It is absolutely delicious, so I'll let you know if it works out.

Until then, Itadakimasu!