Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scottsdale for a week and Gumbie the cactus!

Last week I went to Phoenix/Scottsdale for work and I feel so lucky for it!!! It is so beautiful and interesting and different out there, especially for an East Coast/ Southern girl like me.
Holy succulent, but do I LOVE cactus! Oh my, but there are so many different kinds and shapes and colors. It was such a treat to be out there this time a year too, as everything was blooming.
The work for David was also really good. We did the opening parties for the Musical Instrument Museum. Everything went well and smooth and turned out beautiful. Susie did an amazing job choosing the plants and we made a bunch of new friends with in our group of bad ass local guys who were helping us. I also got to see a short set by kd Lang to celebrate the opening! She was amazing!I was so happy to be included too as I got to check out the museum and all its neat installations. They have it organized really well, by continent and then by country or region. It is really easy and fascinating to discover the overlap or the cross culture of the instruments or styles of playing. The museum is still in progress, so I do hope to go back some time to see it complete. I have decided that I NEED to have a Venezuelan cuatro guitar!
My first night there the girls and I went on a short hike right at sunset just 10 minutes from our hotel called Pinnacle Peak. The views were spectacular and it was educational too, because they had most of the varieties of plants labeled. Also, each day before we had to set up for the parties we had a few hours to do some exploring. Juli and I checked out the Desert Botanical Garden, Lost Dog Wash hike, and on our last day there Shari, Juli, and I climbed a monster elevation hike on Camelback Mountain.I recommend all of them!! Lost Dog Wash was easy and a nice choice for early in the morning, it also wasn't too crowded on a Thursday. The Botanical Garden at times was like being on another planet... Juli and I both loved the old man cactus, creeping devil cactus, and the crazy giant agave that were everywhere. We also loved a succulent that looked like gumbie. It did!! I'm going to try to figure out what it is called. The garden also had a nice desert wild flower exhibition, and a herb garden and more.
These are called lithops... and in ancient Greek that means rock like. And they are, we almost missed them! But, don't touch, because the oil from your hands stunt their growth!

Camelback mountain, was a really vertical hike!! And it was impressive, there were lots of people doing it, but at times we literally had to climb like spider man to get up the trail. The top was worth it though!!
It has been so great lately to hop around from changing climates and regions. Today I was just driving around Georgia with my brother and I was all drooly over azalea bushes.

Thanks for reading, next up: Mississippi wedding, Florida birthday, and Virginia Appalachian trail! xoxo

Monday, April 26, 2010

5 Days in St. Croix: Chocolate, rainforest, and SAILING!

Week before last, I had the pleasure to spend 5 days in St. Croix, with an old friend, Alisha, and hopefully many new ones!!! St. Croix was so so great! The weather was perfect, the company was superb, and the eating was good.

My first full day there, Alisha and I awoke early to make our way to the harbor where we met her father, Llewellyn. He took us for a trip on his beautiful trimaran sail boat, where he makes his living chartering folks out to Buck Island National Reef Monument. Llewellyn's business is "green" in the truest, simplest form, and has been for decades. To get aboard the sail boat, we climbed into a little skiff and Alisha's Dad effortlessly and skillfully rowed us out to the trimaran, which relies 100% on the wind and his know how with the sails to get around. I have been on many boats, and a few sails boats, and it just seems beautifully rare that one exists with out a motor (for emergencies?, for convenience?). It was just such a nice treat to sail out of the harbor soundlessly!!

Our first stop, to the east of Buck Island was snorkeling!! And, oh my goodness, it was awesome!! The water was so clear, completely clear! The variety of the fish and corral and sea life was awe inspiring. I saw so many things, and I could have kept at it for hours. My favorites were the squid and the parrot fish! The parrot fish were purple, pink, and glowing turquoise. Alisha described them perfectly saying they looked like stain glass.

Next, we anchored within swimming distance of Buck Island. Buck Island is about a mile and a half off the Northeast side of St. Croix and about 176 square acres. There we found naturally occurring pumice - or what looked like volcanic rock washed ashore from another island. When someone says paradise, I think they are referring to Buck Island!! It was magical and as part of its protected waters is one of the Caribbeans most loved and abundant coral reefs. I am so honored that I got to experience it!!! Alisha and I wandered the beach and swam around the boat, AND as we were all about to leave, we saw a barracuda swimming under the boat!! The sail back was delayed by an approaching squall, that we had to sit out, but once we set sail home it was a speedy trip with a beautiful giant sea turtle waiting to greet us back in the harbor.

That night, we wandered across to Artfarm, an organic family operated farm. There we volunteered to lend a hand and ended up caulking the new farm stand and socializing, which was great! Luca and Christine, their adorable little one, and Luca’s folks were very warm and welcoming! We enjoyed the fruits of their labor that night, with a yummy spicy salad!!

The next day, Alisha commandeered the owner of the jewelry shop (Crucian Gold) where she works to give me a sort of nature tour of the island, Brian, a semi-retired jewelry designer has lived on St. Croix his whole life and knows it well. We spent several hours together and I learned and saw a lot! I got to see, taste, pick right from the ground, tree or bush: young coconut, sugar cane, passion fruit, bay leaves, bunch-o types of mint, cashews, avocado, almonds, papayas, callaloo, wild cherries, and coco!!! Ok, this was the coolest. The coco pod has the coco beans stacked all nice and neat in a pie shape pattern. The bean is where the coco powder and butter comes from, but they are nestled in this yummy white gooey stuff that was super tasty and fruity but doesn’t resemble chocolate in the slightest, although, Brian told me it did have caffeine in it?!?! The coco was one of the most memorable new experiences of the day, but I also tasted or saw tamarind, lemon, breadfruit, mango, sour sop and more. The drive through the rain forest with the freshest air I will ever breath….It was such a great day and I am floored by people’s generosity, willingness and excitement to share their time and knowledge with a strange tourist like me who just is curious and wants to learn. Brian also had a beautiful home with artful touches here and there. Here is a picture of his walkway with conk shells. I was also privileged to meet his friend Ernesto who has the first farm we stopped at. He tagged along for the day and shared what he knew with me as well!!! THANK YOU!!

That night, Thomas made super yummy vegan pizza that I am still dreaming about!

The next morning, Alisha and I picked flowers over at Artfarm for their booth at the Taste of St. Croix. Alisha and Thomas shared a stand with Artfarm to promote their budding new business Sweetface, chocolates. Their vegan, raw, organic chocolate paired with Artfarm arugual was to die for!! People loved it and so did I. Taste of St. Croix is an annual event celebrating the restaurants, wine shops and eateries of the island. A ticket gets you access to hundred of booths where you get to sample tasty bits from each place. The night was a total success! Alisha and Thomas were pleased and I was satiated with a tummy full of vegan treats. The dance party afterward was so so fun. Thanks guys for including me!!

My trip was short, a little too brief, I know I could have stayed longer and experienced more, but, I am so very happy that I went. Even more so very happy that I am so lucky to have such great people in my life!! Thank you Alisha and Thomas for opening up your home to me, feeding me, and tour guiding me. I only hope I can do the same for you some day!!! xoxxoxoxoxoxo

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jackson Lake early morn

This morning. I was reminded why I am in GA at my brother's place these days. The fog was heavy over the lake and so beautiful and mysterious. I ran out in my pajamas to take some photos.It lasted only a few moments, here is a picture just half an hour later.
It should also be mentioned, that my brother rules and he was a cute kid.

Weal, Woe, and Helleborus: Brooklyn April 1-9

Welp, I was back in Brooklyn unexpectedly these past 9 days, and I am NOT complaining. It was such a beautiful week! I worked on some great projects for David, and saw a few lovely old friends!! On Sunday, I wandered around the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for hours... soaking up the sun, spying on the turtles, and yes, petting and cooing over some of my favorite flowers. Here are a few pics.My last night in town, I went to one of my favorite spots for live music.... Barbes. AND!! I saw a great band, The Weal and Woe!! My old friend Barbara Ann is the bass player and harmony singer! She was especially fantastic. Russell, played a mean guitar and sang his heart out on some classic old time tunes as well as a few new ones that Barbara wrote. The fiddle and lap steel players were also really great! There was lots of harmony singing on carefully chosen Carter Family and Louvin Brother's tunes, amoung others. They also played a few instrumental numbers, a good mix of up tempo and songs that pull on the heart strings. I love this kind of stuff!!! Real people making real music... they played two sets, and I could have stayed for four. Check them out on myspace. http://www.myspace.com/thewealandwoeOff to The Virgin Islands on Monday. More soon. xoxox