Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Arizona Desert Wildflowers

Yesterday’s trip with D. through the Miami-Globe area and on further east onto the San Carlos Apache Reservation was a delight – great scenery and companionship, lots of humorous moments, good road music, beautiful weather, plus the chance to practice some of the new photography skills that I am learning.

Associating with a professional photographer is improving my eye and compositional sense, though it is also creating a bit of gear envy. F-stop, ISO, and depth of field, are all terms that are rapidly becoming a part of my vocabulary, even though I don’t yet have a camera with which to put that new knowledge to use. (My little “point and shoot” camera’s days are numbered.)

The following photos of poppies and lupines were all taken late Tuesday afternoon, March 25, 2008, on a hillside just north of Highway 70, near San Carlos, Arizona. Other than changing the size and resolution for the web, they’re pretty much straight out of the camera. I hope to have some time soon to do a little retouching in Adobe PhotoShop. If so, I’ll post the results. Enjoy!

Desert Hillside Covered in Mexican Poppies Saguaro Cactus and Poppies Mexican Poppies and Saquaro Cactus, San Carlos, Arizona
Lupines and Poppies on Desert Hillside Lupines and Poppies carpet the desert Photographer among desert wildflowers

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Fun, friends, hikes up side canyons to hot springs, wildlife–it was soooo good to get out on the river! The weather was absolutely perfect–low eighties air temp, low fifties water temp. The sky was clear and we had a full moon. It was a real stroke of luck for it to be so pleasant so late in the season.

In the past, I’ve rafted the upper Grand Canyon, from Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch (hiked out the South Kaibab), and I’ve done the San Juan, a tributary, but paddling Black Canyon just below Hoover Dam was my first excursion on a lower section of the Colorado River. The magnificent desert canyon scenery compensated for the flat water. We hiked in a slot canyon, played in numerous hot springs and seeps, and saw cormorants, herons, ducks, and even a mama bighorn with her youngster hopping up a canyon wall.

I learned something on the trip, too. For the last few months, I’ve been trying to “push the river,” to make things happen in my life. The first day on the river, I was still doing the same thing. Pushing the boat, seeing what it could do, what I could do with it. I was a little frustrated that we didn’t go further that day.

The second day, I began to flow with the river. I started dancing with the water, the boat, the breeze. Not fighting the current, but finding my way within it, getting the rhythm of each section, shifting as the river moved through wide and narrow stretches, slower and faster water.

We did have to push some for the last couple of hours to make our takeout, but even that was fun. I found the speed and rhythm that I could maintain over time, not unlike grubbing a line around a wildland fire, keeping the pace with a paddle instead of a pulaski. The strong, steady pulling felt good to my back and arms and the tiredness at the end was a welcome reminder of all we had seen and done.

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Maybe it’s lack of excitement or adrenaline rushes in my life these days that I feel the need to risk life and limb by teetering around on little stilts. It’s kinda fun and it symbolizes a certain kind of confidence that I am bent on developing.

With all of this job-hunting, applying, interviewing, temping, and otherwise parading around as a “professional,” I think I’ve worn heels more in the last few weeks than I have in the whole rest of my life. It feels that way, anyway, to someone who has spent the majority of her life in boots–”jump” boots, wildland boots, structure boots, cowboy boots, steel-toed construction boots. Even when I was a commercial artist and a software developer, I wore “sensible” shoes. It’s hard for me to cram my duck feet into the narrow confines of pointy-toed pumps and smile.

Though I have had my times as a performer, all gussied up in a fancy dress to play harp or guitar at a wedding or other event, I usually cheated on my shoes. Flats or very low heels, those were for me. When I got klutzier with the nerve problem in my legs, I gravitated even more to “safe” shoes.

Not any more. In the last few months I have bought two pairs of the highest heels I’ve ever worn in my life. I like them. I wear them to gigs, even though I have to set up sound equipment. I totter along as I wear them to concerts, shows, and events to hear what the competition is up to. This is all a kind of practice, a meditation on balance and equanimity. I am in training.

These days, it’s not having to jump out the officer’s seat of the first-out engine and command an incident that gets butterflies flitting around my stomach. It’s not even the walking into a new office as a temp and having to adapt on the fly to new people, new duties, new pressures. (Nobody’s in danger of dying, nothing’s about to blow up, and I only wear dinky 2-inch heels on temp assignments. Big deal.)

It’s the thought of going out on a date that scares the bejeezus out of me. Dinner. Dancing. Catching my foot on the doorstep and falling from the dizzying heights of my 4-inch heels in front of someone I desperately want to kiss…

The broken neck. Lights. Sirens. I can hear the EMTs now, “Get the backboard. I’ve got C-spine… Make that collar a ‘No-Neck’.”

Ah well, I’ll get over it. What’s the worst that could happen? I’d look stupid and provide some unexpected entertainment. Nothing much new there. I’m almost ready.

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I don’t know why I get such a kick out of stuff like this, but I do. A couple of days ago I signed up for a free account on Clustrmaps.com and they just drew up my first map. (See lower portion of the sidebar to the right.)

They do a very good job of explaining how it all works on their site. They are evidently experiencing major growth – and the associated growing pains – so updates are a little slow and I only got a partial day’s worth data on the first one, but I’m a happy little camper.

Ari, signing off for TCU, September 21, 17:21, UTC.

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Wiki Mind Map

Geek fun. Well, flamencophile.com is going to have to have one of these…

WikiMindMap is a free, open source Flash browser that organizes a set of links into a mindmap. Too cool. It’s written in Java using the Swing toolkit and it’s compatible with Drupal, too. Try it out on Wikipedia.org by clicking the picture to the right.

The link I’ve included will take you to a mind map on “John Steinbeck”, but once there you can enter anything you like in the search bars at the top of the page to play with it some more.

See other posts on John Steinbeck:

Quotes on Writing by John Steinbeck

Three Steinbeck Quotes

John Steinbeck on U.S. Stamp

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This just in from Yumi and I figured I’d post it here since Flamencophile isn’t scheduled for public release until the end of the month:

Flamenco Show at Pepin Restaurant
September 1, 15, 29
Saturdays: 7:15 and 8:45 p.m.
Pepin Restaurant
7363 Scottsdale Mall
Reservations: 480-990-9026
Info: www.pepinrestaurant.com

Discover why Scottsdale’s oldest Flamenco Venue is still around. The restaurant offers great Spanish food (not Mexican). Flamenco Pasión (Jon Newton- guitar, Javier Hernandez- singer, and various Dancers) performs every Friday and Saturday in an intimate setting.

Flamenco Spirits at the Hyatt Scottsdale
September 1, 8, 14, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29
Tuesdays: 9 and 10 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays: 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Hyatt Scottsdale Resort
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Info: Scottsdale Hyatt, Gainey Ranch

Mosaico Flamenco (Gaetano, Monte Perrault, Max Perrault, Simon Aimes, Emerson Laffy, Ioannis Goudelis and various dancers) has been performing at the Hyatt Scottsdale Resort since August of 2000. Yumi’s performance dates are shown above, but Mosaico plays flamenco music and dance every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at the above times. Staccato footwork, soaring voices and amazing musicians harmonize in an elegant setting. Feel the power!!

Flamenco Show at the Kazimierz World Wine Bar
September 2 and 16
Sundays: 10:15 and 11:15 p.m.
Kazimierz World Wine Bar
7137 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale
Reservations: 480-946-3004
Info: www.kazbar.net

Chris Burton Jacome Flamenco Ensemble is performing at the Kaz every Sunday in September. As soon as you step in to the bar, you will be transported to a old wine cave/cellar. It is truly a unique place to go and enjoy great food, wine, and entertainment. ¡Que mas quiere!

More on Yumi La Rosa at yumilarosa.com, including some great photos, instruction information, and more flamenco links.

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As I walked across the cobblestoned parking area shaded by tall sycamores, I could hear rasgueados on flamenco guitars and the punctuated taconeo of a bailora’s dance floating out of the Patio del Norte.

September 8, 2007 was the 34th annual “Fiesta del Tlaquepaque” (pronounced: “ta – lockee – pockee”) which celebrates Mexican Independence Day with art, music, dance, and food of Mexico and the Southwest. There were musicians and dancers scattered throughout the maze of fine art galleries, courtyards, and shops, that makes the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona, Arizona such a popular destination. Less than an hour’s drive from Flagstaff down the scenic switchbacks of Oak Creek Canyon to hear flamenco…hey, life is good.

Yumi La Rosa at Tlaquepaque I headed straight for where I could hear Mosaico Flamenco playing. (Full disclosure: I take guitar lessons from Gaetano and dance instruction from Yumi La Rosa, so don’t expect an impartial review here – I’m definitely a fan.) The monsoon clouds gathering along the Mogollon Rim were out of sight within the high, stuccoed walls of the rectangular courtyard.

Blazing blue above, bright white surround topped by red tile – my overall impression was of vibrant, sunlit color. Striped serapes hung from the balconies and the walls of the patio and from the poles of the canopy over the band. The dancers and musicians wore red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple…

Flamenco Music and Dance at Tlaquepaque, Sedona, Arizona

The beat and energy of the music was infectious. There’s no doubt that these guys play together often and they like what they do. They were having fun, so were the dancers, and so was the audience. There was even a little girl of about three who liked it so much she joined in right down in front of the stage.

Amusing Antics by Gaetano

The musical selections ranged from the familiar Gipsy Kings rumba “Bamboleo,” to a traditional Guajiras in which dancers Yumi La Rosa and Lolita used fans, to a Mosaico original, Gaetano’s “Ven, Ven Gitanita.” One of the real crowd pleasers was another Mosaico original, Max Perrault’s “Beautiful,” which featured Max on the flute.


Guajiras with Yumi and Lolita Guajiras with Yumi and Lolita Lolita Dances Guajiras
Lolita Dances Guajiras Lolita Dances Guajiras Lolita Dances Guajiras

But the best was yet to come…Angelina Ramirez stole the show with her energy and intensity in a Tientos por Tangos.

Angelina Ramirez Dances Tientos por Tangos Angelina Ramirez Dances Tientos por Tangos Angelina Ramirez Dances Tientos por Tangos
Angelina Ramirez Dances Tientos por Tangos Angelina Ramirez Dances Tientos por Tangos Angelina Ramirez Dances Tientos por Tangos

During the performance the clouds continued to build, and the first few drops of rain spattered the courtyard just as the show was ending.

It was fun and a great show, as always. I also had the good fortune to meet another middle-aged flamenco fan who struck up a conversation with me. Her take on it all:

“I was so totally captivated by the vitality and energy of the music and the artistry of the performers that I found myself sitting through two sets of their performance when I had no intention of spending more than a half hour walking through Tlaquepaque.” ~ A. Lee

Mosaico Flamenco plays in the lobby of the Hyatt Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale three times a week and features dancers Yumi la Rosa, Angelina Ramirez, and others. (related post)

Mosaico’s band members are:

Gaetano – Guitar and Vocals
Monte Perrault – Guitar
Max Perrault – Flute and Percussion
Simon Ames – Bass
Emerson Laffey – Drums and Percussion
Ioannis Goudelis – Piano

Also: Allan Ames – Violin, Mario Mendivil – Bass, Eric Zang – Percussion


Yumi La Rosa
Angelina Ramirez
And others…

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