As a little girl, I didn't have a single doll. But I did have a dollhouse, which I filled with little animal toys and tiny furniture made out of household objects. It was primitive, but I loved that miniature world.
I completely understand the folks at the Tucson Miniature Society (TMS). Even though they're adults, they're not embarrassed to advertise their obsession with making, collecting and displaying dollhouse items. In fact, says TMS president Gail St. Clair, miniatures constitute the third-most-prevalent hobby in the country.
"It's sometimes hard to explain to people that miniatures are not toys, and they're not meant for small children! (People) begin to understand when they see the delicacy and workmanship of miniature pieces," she says.
This weekend, TMS members--along with miniature dealers from all over the country--will have the chance to show off their amazing collections at the TMS' 29th annual show and sale. There will be a display of a circus-themed group project, featuring tiny booths, clowns and sideshows; a "room box" competition with the theme "Past, Present, Future"; and even a Victorian dollhouse filled with witches and miniature Halloween paraphernalia. And while the more collectible, delicate miniatures "are not toys," kids will definitely love to look, and they can use their quarters to buy certain miniature items donated by club members at a special children's table.
"If it has been in real life, you'll find it in miniature (at our show)," says St. Clair. "There are dollhouses and miniatures to fit every pocketbook, and everyone should have a hobby--why not miniatures?!
Admission to the show will be $4 ($2 for kids younger than 12), and it's for a good cause. All proceeds will benefit the Comstock Children's Foundation, a group that helps kids with unmet health needs. --A.M.
It's pretty much impossible to listen to mariachi music and not feel elated. Whether the song is about having fun with amigos or the death of un amante, those musicians just emanate happiness. Maybe it has something to do with tequila.
"Mariachi music is very joyous, energetic and passionate," says Juan de Dios Noperi, the leader of local group Mariachi Cielo de Mexico. "(It's also) a very mobile music. ... We can play very traditional music and also modern arrangements ... (and) we can play just about anywhere at any time."
The origins of the mariachi ensemble aren't easy to trace, but we know that the musical form began sometime in the 19th century in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Mariachis first used instruments introduced by the Spanish, including violins, guitars and harps, which were intended to be played during Catholic masses. Much to the chagrin of Mexican priests, the criollos (Mexicans of Spanish descent) began using these instruments for popular music as well, adding the vihuela and the guitarrón to play some of the most scandalous, satirical and anti-clerical couplets of the times. According to de Dios Noperi, there is at least one documented case of a Mexican friar complaining to his superiors in Spain of the mariachis' drunk and disorderly conduct.
You can experience all the fun of mariachi music--minus the "disorderly conduct"--at The Gaslight Theatre's Mariachi Extravaganza, which will feature the bands Mariachi Cielo de Mexico and Mariachi Sonido de Mexico, as well as soloist Josefina Gallegos. The event has been tremendously popular in the past, and it's the last Mariachi Extravaganza of the year, so don't miss it. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. --A.M.
When it comes to housing, small is the new big--no matter what the real estate agents tell you. Who can keep up with all the repairs a large house constantly needs? Who wants to make huge mortgage payments every month and pay high electric bills? And who wants to clean all that space?
That's why there's a new movement addressing all these issues--the small-house movement. And one of its pioneers, Shay Salomon, lives right here in Tucson and has just written a new book, Little House on a Small Planet. It's a guide to planning, renovating, inhabiting--and possibly even building--your own small house, and it's full of floor-plan examples, advice and anecdotes, photographs and basic principles for anyone wanting to scale down.
"The small-house movement encompasses a wide range of people who are all consciously ... striving to live in less space," says Salomon. "Some have built small, well-designed houses. Some are enjoying sharing with housemates or their extended family. Some build tiny guesthouses in their backyard and rent out their main house. ... Others have moved onto sailboats or into trailers--there's a huge range."
Besides all the personal benefits small-house living offers, it's good for the environment. "If you're concerned with global warming, issues (of housing size) matter," Salomon adds. "Construction and home energy contribute to global warming as much as cars do." Not only that, but recent research shows that the trend toward large, spread-out housing is one of the biggest causes of animal extinction.
Salomon will talk about all of this and more at a discussion of her new book this Friday. The event is free, and refreshments will be served. --A.M.
The nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and people all over America are gearing up for Halloween and Thanksgiving. But in India, they have a different holiday to add some cheer to these darker days: It's called Diwali.
"Diwali means 'festival of lights or lamps,'" explains Sandamini, co-owner of the Hare Krishna-run restaurant Govinda's Natural Foods. "(The holiday) is celebrated all over India with great pomp and excitement. ... All the houses are lit up with lights, candles and ghee lamps, along with lots of sweets and fireworks."
According to legend, Diwali originated with people setting out lamps to light the way for the Hindu god Lord Rama, who had been banished from his kingdom, Ayodhya, and made to live in the forest for 14 years. Upon the god's return, he and an army of monkeys and bears won a fierce battle against the demon king Ravana, who had captured Rama's wife, Sita. In celebration of Rama's victory and Sita's rescue, the people of Ayodhya danced and lit fireworks to show how happy they were. For Hindus, the holiday signifies thanksgiving, the renewal of life and the triumph of good over evil.
If these seem like causes for celebration to you, you should attend Tucson's own Diwali festival, put on by Govinda's to coincide with the real Indian holiday. The event will feature music, a shadow puppet show, Indian dancers and even Flam Chen fire dancers enacting a scene from the great Indian epic Ramayana. There will also be "a hill of sweets" for distribution and a vegetarian feast served around 8 p.m.
The event--even the feast--is free, so there's really no excuse not to attend. It's a fun, educational and healthy way to practice stuffing your stomach in preparation for Thanksgiving (the American version). --A.M.