Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dancing in Ohio

For the past week I have been in Ohio visiting relatives. While in the Heartland, I've also have had a few dancing opportunities.

Early last week, I was in Columbus. First let me say, the weather SUCKED-- rain + snow + grey skies. Aaaahhhhhh, the memories of driving Interstate 71 under terrible conditions danced in my head as I carefully maneuvered my rental car through the snow flurries. Monday and Tuesday, the weather threatened to slide into freezing rain, but luckily, I was spared. Freezing rain is one of the main reasons I moved to Tucson in 1981.

Anyway, I digress. Monday night I went to the weekly dance of the Columbus West Coast Swing Club. It was a blast. My friend Maru (former roommate from the Phoenix 4th of July convention) and I made plans to see each other while I was in Columbus. She is such a sweetie. She called ahead and told the swing club organizers that I would be there. Everyone was very friendly and I had several great dances that night. The Columbus swing club dances in the Bowties lounge at the Ramada Inn on Sinclair Road. The dance floor was about 1/4 the size of the Women's Center where the Tucson Swing Dance Club holds its weekly dance, but there were plenty of dance partners. (That's the important part of any dance!)

The only dance that really sucked was with a very good dancer. Ironic, huh? I had seen him dance with others, so I asked him to dance the cha-cha. I love the cha-cha and believe that it is one of my best dances. He started to dance (and didn't do the started step-- which surprised me-- since he seemed to be sort of "ballroom"). Anyway, the problem arose at the very beginning because he was TOTALLY off the beat. Ok, I took music lessons from 3rd grade through my freshman year in college. Plus, I have always had natural rhythm. According to my Dad said, the Irish have natural rhythm.) Whatever. All I know is that is nearly impossible for me to dance off the beat. I naturally kept trying to get on the beat. (Sometimes guys will start off wrong and adjust.) This dork just said, "LET ME LEAD" and shook my arms. We struggled through the dance. I think he was impressed with my moves when we were apart, but when he was holding me it was... well... messy.

Today, I left my home town of Amherst, Ohio, for Twinsburg, Ohio, south of Cleveland. I registered for one day of the C.A.S.H. Bash (Cleveland Akron Swing Hustle) convention. You can tell how exciting this convention by the fact that I am in my room blogging!!!! It took me forever to pack this morning, so I got here aroun 10ish-- just in time for the tail end of breakfast. I took one workshop with John Lindo, who is a great dancer. (He actually won the champion contest at the 4th of July convention. For a very large man, he's an absolutely great dancer.) So, the workshop and the dancing beforehand were good. The afternoon dancing was slow, so I came back up to the hotel room. The dancing goes until 4a.m., so maybe people are napping. There are some really good leads here, so I'm looking forward to great dancing later. BTW, the off-beat cha-cha dancer is in Cleveland. (I saw him watching me shaking my booty earlier today.)

So, far my 2 complaints about this convention are:
1) The music is boring. (No blues. No country. And, although it's not my fav, no electronica. The music in Cleveland--- and also the music in Columbus-- is primarily slow disco. Yuck. The dancers are also very "ballroom". West coast swing is much wilder and free-form in the west. Hey there, dance partners, I miss you!)
2) They don't have enough place setting for all attendees to have dinner! How lame is that? Only the people who signed up for the whole weekend get dinner. So, I guess I'll do room service. I was looking forward to mingling during dinner, so I could strike up acquaintances with more dance partners.

Overall, I was underwhelmed with the C.A.S.H. The dinner dance was very "ballroom" and mostly couples. The music stunk-- mostly sort of old-fashioned disco swing (in there is such a thing). No country music and very little blues, which is perfect for swing dancing. I longed for the dance scene in Tucson!

NOTE: A general rule of the web is to search carefully. I searched for "Columbus swing club", so I could link the dancing venue to this blog. Note that I forgot to put the word "dancing" into this search string. This is what I came up with. They didnt' have THOSE types of clubs in Columbus when I lived there!

All Souls Procession 2008

As usual, the All Souls Procession was an amazing event again this year. Although this post is dated November 29, 2008, I'm actually posting it on December 27, 2008-- due to multiple computer problems in recent weeks.

I had a real scare regarding my DOD pics. I prepared them for uploading a few days after the procession but didn't actually upload them to the blog or to Flickr and didn't back them up to my external drive. My bad. When my computer crash, I was really sweating it. Luckily, the motherboard was bad and not the hard drive. If it had been the hard drive, I would have lost my DOD photos and other recent images. Yikes!

I'm just uploading a few here. (Yes, that's me with my Roma look on the right.) Log onto my Flickr account to see Day of the Dead photos from 2007 and 2008. Cheers!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Studio Tour Recap

The studio sale went well this weekend-- lots of visitors-- far more than last year. Sales also were good. Here is a picture of my cute, little studio. Below are some of the mosaics I had for sale.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Buy Local: Reduce the Carbon Foot Print of Your Holiday Shopping

This weekend, November 8-9, Southern Arizonans have a great opportunity to view and buy local arts and crafts. More than 150 local artists are participating in the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) Open Studio Tour.

Artists all over town will open their studios to visitors from noon to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. The TPAC website offers a tour map and an alphabetical list of artists.The Studio Tour is self-guided. With the map, you can pick artists that are in a certain part of town, or if you are looking for a particular artist, you can use the alphabetical list to find their studio address. There are so many studios clustered in the midtown, university, and downtown areas that you can bike the tour-- a real reduction in your holiday shopping carbon footprint. (A friend and I did this one year and it was loads of fun and great exercise.)

My midtown studio is one of the stops on the tour. I have several new mosaic designs and tons of jewelry for sale. Stop by, have a snack, and check out the specials including buy one pair of earrings, get the second pair half off. TPAC has created a full color calendar that includes maps and artist descriptions. Some locations-- including my studio-- will have these available for tour guests.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dia de los Muertos: Altars and Artwork on Display at Raices

Each year in honor of El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Raices Taller 222 Gallery hosts a unique show of commemorative altars and artwork. This year, I had the honor of creating an altar honoring my father and grandparents. Assembling the altar was a moving experience. As I dug through old photos and mementos, I realized that every piece of the altar -- from the red nail polish to the can of sauerkraut and the chocolate cover cherries -- tells a story about my family. The opening was last Saturday, November 1, 2008 and runs through November 22.

Election Day 2008: Watching History Unfold

I probably should have put this post up yesterday-- election day-- but after the election of Barack Obama, I was too busying partying with Democrats across the country and progressives around the world. As Ronald Reagan would say, it's a new day in America!

I took yesterday off of work to volunteer to help the Pima County Democratic Party Get Out the Vote Effort. I have never seen so many people at the headquarters. There must have been 60-100 people making phone calls asking people around Southern Arizona if they had voted and/or turned in their mail-in ballots.
There were so many volunteers that some of us were outside under a tent making phone calls. Gabrielle Giffords, our Congressional delegate, and some state legislators stopped by to cheer us on. Here I am-- near my outdoor calling post-- with Gabrielle. After 4 hours of phone calls and some free food, I drove around looking for long voting lines to photograph but couldn't find any. I went home for a few hours, and later in the day I joined my fellow Drinking Liberally peeps (below) at Gentle Ben's for an election watch party. Drinking Liberally is a national organization of progressive political nerds who get together weekly to kibitz about politics and progressive issues. As the excitement mounted, we all headed over to the big Democratic Party Party at the Marriott nearby. The celebration at the the Marriott was amazing. The ballroom and most of the lobby were packed with noisy, excited Democrats of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Two big screens of election results and music by the Wayback Machine entertained the crowd. As we watched Washington, Oregon, and California turn blue, there was a roar from the crowd, and the election was declared for Obama. Men and women alike began cheering, screaming, hugging, dancing, crying, and offering high-5s to each other. It was exhilarating. I think the pictures tell the story.