Archive for the ‘Arizona’ category

Midsummer Tale

August 20, 2018

In the middle of this harsh, Tucson summer filled with plenty of heat and anticipation of the monsoon rains, plus my exhaustion with our country’s political reality show, something very joyful happened that directed my attention to a very different reality.

Returning home from a three week vacation, I discovered that I had a new neighbor!  A charming, energetic female established her home very near my studio where I work. Actually, she moved so close that it was a bit shocking for me, as I never imagined such a possibility. Her place is so near that I can see it (and her, as well) from the window above my desk and when opening the studio’s door. Such a neighbor could be very annoying if it were a human, but it is… a hummingbird!

In the Nest

Yes, they are present around our property, and we are aware of them. A couple of feeders and local desert plants, which are part of our landscape, keep them happy. They seem to like the long dense row of oleanders next to the small white building that is my Word Studio.

It was immediately very clear that my tiny neighbor is a SHE, because I know that HEs (male hummingbirds) do not participate in building nests, or sitting on those two (they lay only two) precious eggs, or feeding the offspring. She has to do it all! As a woman and a mother, I immediately felt solidarity with her!  I have felt such solidarity with cats, cows, horses, and other mammals, but not with a bird.

What possessed her to build that nest on the wires of lights decorating our outdoor covered ‘sitting room’? I do not know! Perhaps she is an intellectual bird that likes books? Actually (joking apart), it is a very safe place – sheltered from rain and winds by a huge tree on the north side and the walls of the enclosed part of the patio on the south side. There also is a fringe benefit – closeness to a hummingbird feeder that might be very handy for a busy, expecting mother hummingbird.

Lenika's Nest

The next question was, will she accept my frequent coming to my studio or will she abandon the nest? Being concerned and knowing that hummingbirds love red and other bright colors, I initially wore my red summer dress. Each time I approached the door of my studio while she was in her nest, my heart was beating a bit faster from excitement, but of course, it could never match her amazingly powerful heart that beats more than 1000 times per minute when in flight. She did not fly away from her nest, and I felt great relief!

A day or so later, she accepted my presence around the studio, even when I was wearing a variety of colors. Wow, it felt great!  Soon a couple of frequent visitors were accepted by her, as well. One of them suggested that we should name her; after all she (the hummingbird) is a part of this establishment now. ”Tina or Tania, perhaps?” They were almost okay – short, energetic names…. “Oh, no, nothing with a T”, I protested!  “Grace maybe, since she is so graceful?” That one did not fly either — there was something “too much” about that name. “How about Ana, Ania, Anna?” The fact that there are Anna’s hummingbirds, and I am still not sure what kind of hummingbird she is, we decided that such a name might be too confusing. Finally we settled for Lenika, created from parts of our two middle names. And that’s who she is – Lenika.

Lenika closer

One day Lenika got inside my studio by accident and immediately flew straight into one of the windows. Of course, she was not able to get out. Surprisingly, Lenika let me take her into my hands without any resistance or fight. She sat there calmly and let me enjoy feeling her silky small body as I walked outside to let her go free. Soon enough she was back in her nest.

Lenika trapped 2

Three weeks or so past, and I noticed that Lenika became restless and less trusting. She flew away when I entered my studio, or even when I approached it from the far side of our large patio. I have to confess that upset and hurt me, as if she were a real person and not a very small bird. I concluded that it might be the time for her to become a mother, and I started tip toeing around her, like around a woman at the very end of her pregnancy. Other times she behaved like before and at night was back in her nest – very calm, deep in her sleep. That made me calmer, too. Still, some worrying thoughts entered my mind; maybe there is some delay in hatching? Perhaps they are already hatched, and I can’t see them because new born hummingbirds are the size of a raisin and would not be visible yet. And what if the eggs got broken for some reason?

Nest on Patio 2

I truly hope that Lenika’s story will have a happy ending — for her sake and mine. She will have her babies, and I will be free from worries! In the meantime, I am amazed how powerful this tiny, wild creature influenced my behavior and feelings!  Such is the case when one cares about another person or another living thing. It can by joyful, and it can be painful, but it makes us more connected to each other and to this planet.

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Text and photos Copyright © 2018 by Alicja Mann, alicjamann.com

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

January 16, 2014

Besides being an opening in the wall of a building (framed and glassed) or the side of a car or train, a window symbolizes an openness, freedom, opportunity, and hope. So does a door, one might say, but a door can be shut in front of us and separate us from others – rapidly and powerfully. A door is not as penetrable as a window with its fragile glass. One can look through a window both ways – from inside out and from outside in.

Girl looking into glass window

Curiosity

People looking out train windows

As the world goes by…

Tucson traditional windows

Tucson traditional windows

Tucson modern windows & reflections in them

Tucson modern windows & reflections in them

Windows are vulnerable, just like our feelings. There is a reason why a house without windows often represents sadness. So when Roy Orbison sings, “I am moving to a house without windows,” it is clear that he is unhappy because his heart was broken by the loss of a great love.

A table with bottle of wine next to the window decorated with delicate curtains

Solitude

And there is another type of symbolism that relates to eyes and windows. Some see eyes as the windows to our (so called) soul, while others see them as windows to the world and how we perceive that world.

A decorative ceramic plate by Fornasetti

Piero Fornasetti’s concept

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann, except for the Piero Fornasetti decorated plate © 1995 by Fornasetti

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy and … Happy New Year!

January 3, 2014

This past year I started with “dancing my troubles away.” I also danced for rain in Tucson while on Solana Beach last June. In both cases the dancing was not very effective – my troubles did not go away, and we did not get as much rain as we needed.

Every New Year is supposed to be joyful, and of course often it’s not. When you live long enough, you lower your expectations. To my surprise, this New Year’s Eve was more joyful than I anticipated. For that I am very grateful to Tucson’s Laffs Comedy Caffe! That is where I met the New Year of 2014 (http://www.Laffstucson.com).

Comedy Club at New Year's Eve

Alicja laughing

Every one of us defines joy differently. However, we can all agree that a smile is a good indicator of joy … I mean a genuine smile!

Rodney's Smile

It is hard not to feel the power of Rodney’s smile, which is totally disarming. He owns a one-man-operation restaurant on the main street of Wilcox, AZ. If you are ever in Wilcox, I am sure you will try his cooking as I did in November.

Rodney Menu posted on the window

There is another type of smile full of joy that is not interactive, but self contained. This flower girl in a wedding ceremony on a Cape Cod beach just couldn’t resist the joy of touching and sifting the soft, warm sand.

Flower Girl smiling while playing with the sand

I experience a similar feeling of joy while looking at luminaries – the characteristic holiday lights that are common in this part of the country – their soft glow evokes a soft smile.

Luminaries in Tucson

Happy New Year 2014! 

Let it glow with JOY for each of us!

Alicja at New Year's Celebration

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

November 13, 2013

There is a natural readiness in us to label our habits as bad or good ones. They are also difficult to photograph. For instance, my good habit of religiously wearing a seatbelt while driving is not very photogenic, nor is my bad habit of misplacing sunglasses and frantically searching for them – a few moments before leaving home.

My custom of drinking wine on the patio at sunset I consider a very pleasant and definitely photogenic habit.

Patio on the end of the day.Glass of wine on the patio's table

Ever since we built our large, sunny patio that connects and embraces the house, my studio and a beautiful mesquite tree, we have had the custom, an end-of-the-day routine, to sit on the patio and enjoy the last warm rays of sun. The fact that the sun goes down right behind my studio is a nice coincidence for me. I welcome that soft announcement of the end of the day and, perhaps, the end of my work…. A glass of wine is a must!

closeup of the glass of wine and image of the studio

I offer a toast to the gentle, late warmth of Tucson’s sun, since most of the day that very same sun is hot and harsh – even in the middle of November.

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

July 4, 2013

I hesitate greatly to reveal my secrets, but this weekly photo challenge calls for it … so here you have it – my favorite companionable friend is… my shadow! By stating this I might upset some of my dear “flesh and blood” friends, but yes – I truly like my shadow and enjoy its companionship a lot! We walk and hike together; we sit together and think about thousands of issues and wonders of the world.

My shadow is very patient and flexible – never complains or argues. It follows me everywhere, disappears tactfully when I go to sleep, and is ready to go at weird hours in the morning. What a great companion in the very late hours of the night since it is never tired! Youthful, reliable, and very loyal. This is truly one of my best “for better, for worse… till death do us part” relationships!

My shadow on the patio

Shadow on the patio

My shadow on the deck

Shadow on the deck

And here is another secret of mine. I learned to pay attention to my shadow many years ago and I learned it from my 4 year-old (at that time) son Leo (not his real name but an astrological one for my writings). I do remember that day so well, as if time had not passed at all since then!

It was the quiet morning of a sunny spring day on Cape Cod. My toddler Leo was playing outside all by himself; his older brother was in school already, and no other friends of Leo were around. Being a bit concerned, I walked outside and asked, “You don’t have any friends to play with today, Leo – aren’t you feeling lonely?” “Oh no, Mommy,” he responded, “I am playing with my shadow!”

What a terrific concept! I was stunned and deeply touched, my eyes became misty.

From that day my shadow and I started a good friendship as well. That relationship became even more significant when I began my photographic endeavors. In fact, after several years, I honored my shadow by making it the trademark of my photography. Some of you who have read my blog for a while might have noticed that already, especially since my shadow is placed in the header of this blog.

 My shadow - my trademark

My shadow – my trademark

I love to travel in summer, and so does my shadow. Every year in June Tucson is under a strong and very uncomfortable spell of heat. What a pity! June is a lovely month elsewhere. So I followed the call of the ocean as indicated in the previous post: https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/weekly-photo-challenge-curves/

This time an attempt to escape the heat took us, for a short time, to the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, California. Del Mar was the destination, but Solana Beach became my favorite spot.

 Entry to Solana Beach - long and steep wooden stairs

Entry to Solana Beach

 View of Solana Beach

Solana Beach

Author of the post walking on the line where ocean meets the sand

On that line

What a treat it was – I wish everybody who needs a small break could have it!

My shadow and I took late afternoon walks on the beach (usually empty at that time) following that line where the hard wet sand and the water touch each other in the rhythm of the ocean waves.

I love dancing, and I never had a better dance partner than my shadow. The day before returning home, we made a perfectly synchronized dance in honor of the monsoon which was supposed to arrive in Tucson any day.

Dancing on the beach - step one

Dancing on the beach - step two

Dancing on the beach - step three

Dancing on the beach - step four

The dance was effective – there was some rain in Tucson upon our return, but it did not last long. Perhaps the dance was too short. Perhaps we will have to repeat it over here in the desert. Perhaps more people should dance to bring down the rain – just like Native Americans do. I wrote about that in my post: https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/monsoon-report-from-the-patio/

Have a nice Independence Day holiday!

Please do some dancing for rain or for sunshine… or for whatever you wish the dance will bring.

Alicja

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

June 18, 2013

Fun with curves! That is what this photo challenge is about. After all, there are curves around us in great abundance, probably more so than straight lines.

Curves are sexy, mysterious, how can we not love them? There is a softness and charm in curves. Like the charm of a curving road and the gentle wave of the mountains in the picture below that I took a couple of months ago while driving from Amado to Tucson – a place not very far from the border with Mexico.

Curving roadin Arizona with the mountain view

Thinking about this photo challenge last night, I decided to focus on curves that are around us in our home. Well, there is a good reason for it – it is very hot in Tucson lately and not much fun to be outdoors – we are still waiting for the monsoon to arrive….

So I took some photos to honor the curves that are often unnoticed and taken for granted in our busy life, yet they define the charm of that daily life. Here are just a few of them:

Bowl of apricoats

Fuzzy Curves

Stack of colorful soup bowls

Stacked Up Curves

Colorful teacattle with cups

Great Companion

 Light in the Hallway

Light in the Hallway

White sea shell

Sea Shell

The shell in the last photo is a small treasure connected to my writing life. It sits patiently on the bookshelf most of the year, but in summertime (and it is summer here!) in the evening when the house is calm, I can hear it whisper – “Go to the ocean, go to the ocean….”

I might just do that…

Alicja

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

June 12, 2013

OK, fleeting, passing swiftly, not lasting…. The clouds on our famously characteristic blue Tucson sky are seldom present and are very welcomed but…fleeting.

Pink and fluffy clouds

Pink and fluffy clouds

Clouds at dusk

At dusk

Brief  shower

Brief shower

Clouds gathering for the monsoon

Gathering for the monsoon

Clouds bring the promise of rain so badly needed in this part of the country, especially now when temperatures are repeatedly 105 F daily, and the official beginning of summer is still 10 days away. They come and go and often nothing happens – till the monsoon arrives. Oh, and then what a relief! These heavy rains are worth waiting for, and they are celebrated with joy! So far we are waiting, we are waiting….

I wrote a special post about the monsoon – please check it out. Here is the link:

https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/monsoon-report-from-the-patio/

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann


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