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THIRTY-SIX TIMES IS THE CHARM. The Tucson Songwriter Showcase hosts another--yes, you guessed it, 36th--in their series of friendly, acoustic, non-smoking concerts. Thursday, December 12, offers up the music of Eric Hansen and Habaneroin, starting at 7:30 p.m. If you've never been to one of these concerts at Hazy Dayz Lounge Café, located at 187 N. Park Ave. at Ninth Street, you're in for a treat. By day, the café sports comfy couches, a bunch of rooms to study in or groove to DJ-spun tunes. On alternating Thursdays, the acoustic crowd takes over the couches--and believe me, there are definitely regulars. You might even spot someone in the 40-something crowd bound off their seat to dance along to the folk, blues or jazzy music.

It's free, there's no cover. Call 749-1880 if you have questions.

NEWBIE GREEN THUMBS. For newcomers--to gardening, to Tucson, to home-owning--The Tucson Botanical Gardens offers classes on the first Thursday and third Saturday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to noon. This Saturday, become familiar with Tucson's seasons and soils. Learn basic design principles. Find out which plants will help to create a garden of both beauty and comfort in our desert environment.

There's discussion of watering and planting techniques and the class ends with a walking tour of the Gardens. Instructors are happy to point out many examples of trees, shrubs and groundcovers suitable for our climate.

Classes are held at the Gardens, located at 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Each one costs $9 (or $7 if you're a TBG member). Call for reservations at 326-9686.

DRIVE IT OR WALK IT. Local author Pete Cowgill has written the consummate book on the Back Country, Back Roads and Beyond: By Truck and Foot in Southern Arizona. He's also co-written The Santa Catalina Mountains: A Guide to the Trails and Routes. This guy knows his stuff.

Come hear what he has to say at Sabino Canyon Visitor Center on Saturday, December 21, at 10 a.m. as he regales secrets about Arizona's amazing and windy trails. He'll even sign copies of his books.

The Visitor Center is located at 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road. Cowgill's lecture is hosted by the Public Lands Interpretive Association. Call them at 749-7711. They'll have more information. It's free with Sabino Canyon admission.

KICK IT. Tucson Friends of Traditional Music hosts their twice-monthly dance on Saturday, December 21. That's Contra and Square dancing, for those who don't already know about this little gem of an evening.

Drop by at 8 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 915 E. Fourth St, near Park Avenue, when the hooting and hollering begins. Local callers and the driving energy of a live string band kick up the dust all night. Bring a friend or chance a dance with a variety of partners. Newcomers are beamed upon. There's no drinking and no smoking in the Church.

Community dancing harks back to the log-cabin dance form but, as TFTM says, still lights a fire under dancing feet today.

Admission costs $7 general, $6 for members, $5 for students and free to first-time dancers for the next month's dance. Call 293-3783 for details.

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