Before partying outdoors becomes a skin-blistering affair, consider attending the day-long Fiesta de Garibaldi on April 29, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The long-running event ends the four-day Tucson International Mariachi Conference by re-enacting "the sights and sounds of Garibaldi Plaza in Mexico City." The fiesta features world-class mariachi music on two stages, baile folklórico, a "Food City" that offers ample tastes of Mexico, and arts and crafts vendors of the Southwest.
Fiesta de Garibaldi benefits the children of La Frontera, a community behavioral health center that has served Pima County residents for the past 36 years. La Frontera will use all proceeds from the fiesta to build a better playground for the children they serve.
"The money that we raise goes specifically to children and the child health center," says Lolie Gomez, coordinator of the mariachi conference for La Frontera. "Last year, we were able to resurface the playground area, things that are very costly, but that we don't often think about. ... We want to keep up the great work (La Frontera) does."
And while the fiesta is in its 24th year, Gomez says the fun continues.
"We have as much fun as the audience does," she says. "It's such a lively and safe feeling with so many people around. You know, you're happy. It's a happy event."
Tickets for adults cost $5; it's free for children. For more information, call 838-3908. --M.H.
I recently found myself in the hushed cavity of the St. Louis Basilica. The cathedral's ceiling, walls and floor possess the world's largest mosaic collection, with more than 83,000 square feet of teeny tiny glittering bits forming sacred images, like those of Elizabeth Seton, American saint and prolific writer.
Women like Seton have written in and about the Catholic tradition since early medieval times. The long literary tradition of Catholic women writers includes Willa Cather, Flannery O'Connor, Julia Alvarez, Denise Levertov and Louise Erdrich, to name a few.
Like those before her, Nancy Mairs has written about the role of Catholicism in her life, from her acclaimed spiritual autobiography, Ordinary Time: Cycles in Marriage, Faith and Renewal, to her collection-in-progress, Good News! A Catholic Feminist Contemplates Faith.
Many readers know the Tucson author's oft-anthologized essay, "On Being a Cripple," but for those who are unfamiliar with Mairs' larger body of fierce, witty and unflinching work, one ought to consider attending Mairs' reading on Friday, April 28, at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, at 7 p.m.
Mairs will read selected personal essays from Good News!, which details her thoughts on the sociopolitical issues we must confront if we want to create a more habitable world. The collection is due out in 2007 from Boston-based Beacon Press.
Other issues Mairs will tackle include imperialist ambition and the gluttony inherent in the current depletion of human and natural resources. Saints, sin and suffering are also potential subject topics.
Tickets to the reading are $10 at the door, with a wine-and-cheese reception to follow. For more information or directions, call 327-6857. --M.H.
I am not an animal lover. I do not understand celebrities who carry pets in their purses. I do not smile at schmaltzy kitten greeting cards. I really don't want to see pictures of someone's parakeet.
And whenever I admit this proclivity to outside parties, I am immediately greeted by amateur character analysis.
Folks who love animals just don't get people who don't want their clothing covered in cat fur, or who prefer going on vacations that don't require calls to kennels or pleading pet-care e-mails.
But what I do love about pets are their accessories. I like the concept of a pet when I realize that I could buy a pink "pup-cake" dog T-shirt or catnip "kitty cigar" toy for someone else's beloved furball.
And so, when I found a store that carries these exact accessories, Muttropolis Dog and Cat Boutique at La Encantada, I was excited. Muttropolis is, in fact, a local treasure, as only three other stores exist in the nation (all in California). The boutiques feature designer pet bedding, canine couture and all-natural pet treats, among other items, such as the "cat cocoon" and squeaky sushi sets replete with "sushi pups chop-stix."
And for animal-lovers who wish to protest my proclaimed disinterest in pets, why not snub me and take your four-legged friend to the free Muttropolis Spaw Day and Wellness Day on Sunday, April 30? Bask in your pet-love glory by giving Fido a calming aromatherapy treatment, dog treats and advice from pet nutritionists.
Five percent of in-kind product donations will be donated to area shelters and rescue organizations. For more information, call 299-MUTT or visit
www.muttropolis.com . --M.H.
I have never been to a high tea, although I have friends who are tea fiends. They banish teabags, own tea presses, possess elegant tea services and know the right composition of milk and honey to complement, say, gunpowder green tea from Peet's.
And so, when I saw yet another Episcopalian church doing something cool this weekend, I thought that the tea-drinkers of the desert would want to know if the St. Michael's tea service was a serious, traditional English event. While I won't be able to confirm or deny such authenticity, you can check out the event yourself on Saturday, April 29, at 2 p.m.
Plus, who can resist what the St. Michael's press release describes as a "variety of finger sandwiches, assortment of delicious desserts and scones, and as many pots of tea as you like"? This sounds suspiciously like "low tea," however, according to my Internet sleuthing. Low teas are traditionally taken in the late afternoon and focus on tea and tidbits instead of the heavier, more savory high tea, or "meat tea," that happens around dinner time in England.
High or low, to attend this tea you'll need $10 for adults and $5 for children below the age of 12. To secure your high-tea reservation, call the church office at 886-7292. Raffle tickets for mystery prizes will also be available for purchase during the tea for $1. Toodles! --M.H.