Archive for the ‘Memories’ category

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

December 12, 2013

Silver Bridge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon

There are many grand things, events, and people that I have encountered in my life, but the day of hiking the Grand Canyon down and up with my Canadian friend several years ago stands out. It was awesome to be able to face that ancient and grand creation of nature and at the same time to feel our minuteness in contrast with that rocky giant. I took this photo on Silver Bridge over the Colorado River – at the bottom of the Canyon, facing the lengthy journey (9.5 miles = 15.3 km) up the Bright Angel Trail to reach the top before the inevitable arrival of darkness.

I wrote about that hike in my post Footprints Left Behind  https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/footprints-left-behind/

Potrait of Nelson Mandela

A similar feeling of awe and humbleness enveloped me last week when we faced the departure of Nelson Mandela – his strength, vision, perseverance, and political skills were not only grand, but super GRAND and will continue to inspire others for many years to come. I am happy to cherish memories of encountering that man during his visit to Boston in 1990 – soon after his release from prison. Even though I was a minute spot in the huge crowd of others who gathered at the Hatch Shell to honor Mandela, I will never forget that grand day.

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

November 21, 2013

Commonly the word layers is associated with layers of rocks or bricks, layers of sweet tasty cake, or layers of clothes – especially now when cold days are on our horizon. However, there are several meanings of this word. Here is one of them: layer – “a hen kept for egg production.”

Chicken in their coop

Here are my photos of “layers of layers” traveling or rather being transported to their new destination – perhaps to lay more eggs or…perhaps not.

Layers of white containers with chickens (layers)

Chicken in theirs containers being transported on a red truck

During one of my visits in Amsterdam (several years ago) I was stunned and mesmerized by colorful layers of bicycles waiting patiently for their riders in specially designated places – right in the heart of that big European city.

Layers of parked bicycles in special designated multi level place in center of Amsterdam

Many European cities are bicycle-friendly. Amsterdam is in fact super friendly. Consequently, the Dutch can eat their layered cakes without feeling guilty or fearful of gaining weight. Our cities should be full of bicycle-envy and follow Amsterdam’s path.

More bicycles in Amsterdam

 

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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: The Sign Says

June 6, 2013

Signs are all around us – warning, informing, communicating, decorating, and often irritating. They seem to be more visible when we travel by car.

I looked through some of my travel photos and made a choice of just a few, but with signs that differ greatly.   

Huge Rooster mounted on  white truck

This huge rooster is welcoming visitors to the small village of Hatch (population less than 2000) in New Mexico, located 40 miles north of Las Cruces. This village is proud of its bountiful chile crops and the annual event – The Hatch Chile Festival. The village is known as the chile capitol of the world!

Warm hospitality is part of the charm of Hatch and will stay in my memory as strongly pronounced Americana sprinkled with the chilli powders that I purchased there.

New Mexico Americana

While Hatch is a small village and there are so many small villages worth visiting, I had no idea that it is possible to have an official town of population 1… till we stumbled upon Lost Springs while driving along highway 20 West in Wyoming. So there it was – a green official highway sign stating just that: POP1.

Green road sign of Lost Springs with POP 1

I took this photo in 2010, not being aware that Lost Springs had a lot of media attention due to its demographic uniqueness at that time. Today, I learned, Lost Springs lost considerably its attraction since its population grew to 4 in 2011. Oh well… some gains and some losses.

The Sherwin-Williams Paint truck

Close up of the SWP truck  with their slogan - Cover the Earth.

This Sherwin-Williams Paint truck took my attention immediately. The Cover the Earth slogan reminded me of a political joke from the Cold War times when the tension between the Soviet Union and the United States also generated a strong competition in the exploration of space. Although in reality the Soviets did not land on the moon, for the sake of this joke they are placed there together with the Americans.

The Joke

Two teams of astronauts, one from the Soviet Union and one from the United States, were sent to the moon. After their landing, the Soviets immediately started to paint the surface of the moon with red paint – the color of their flag and symbol of Communism. Concerned, the Americans called Mission Control and reported that. They were advised to ignore the Soviets’ action.

When half of the moon was covered with red paint, the Americans called Earth again asking, “What shall we do?” The answer was, “Wait and do not worry!” So they did.

After a while, the American team called Earth again – this time with great urgency. “Look, the Soviets have already covered most of the moon with their paint – the whole world will see the moon in red!  What shall we do?! “

Mission Control now gave them an order, “Wait till the Soviets have covered the entire moon with red and then paint in huge white letters Coca Cola.

The End 🙂

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

April 25, 2013

Sometimes we do not need words of explanation or captions for photos. Such is the case here with my interpretation of “Up”.

 

Tall building in New Yourk

GW Bridge

View from the car of  a highway loop

Soutwestern Church with ringing bell

Tall business building in Tucson

I responded to several Weekly Photo Challenges before:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

The Power of Daffodils

March 30, 2013

I consider daffodils to be a cosmopolitan flower. They are cultivated in many countries at this time of year to be sold for spring celebrations.

The power of daffodils is the same over here as it is in Poland, Bulgaria, or Sweden. It lies in the power of the contradiction between their energy and their vulnerability. Their yellow represents great energy and optimism. At the same time these delicate plants are greatly dependent on an abundant supply of water for their survival. They definitely are not suitable for my Tucson garden!

Yellow daffodils on a dark background

Daffodils are beautiful when in masses – as in an open field. They are as beautiful in cut form, but their lives then are much, much shorter.

The daffodils of this spring have had a strong touch of sadness and drama for me. I brought them to my dear friend, Susan, in the last hours of her intense and brave battle with cancer. I shared them with good friends to honor both Susan’s departure and this Easter Holiday’s arrival.

I am now looking at the daffodils standing royally in a vase in the center of the table at my home. They look strong and happy, while I feel deflated and sad. Never before had their yellow reminded me of other yellows: the massive gold of forsythia blooms next to my house on the Cape – the plant that I have always considered the birthday plant for my older son who now is totally estranged from me…. The yellow of the lower row of the daffodils’ petals reminds me of the gentle yellow of the roses associated with two friends who are no longer among us. Finally the strong yellow of the daffodils’ blooms brings to my mind the bloom of the mesquite tree that I loved and lost several years ago. Losses, losses, losses – all in a yellow hue….

Is that yellow melancholy going to take over my heart for the entire Easter weekend? I wondered. So I examined again carefully the daffodils in the vase. And here was the surprise – their tender green stems and ruffled yellow trumpets were not affected by my dark mood at all! Yet, their irresistible yellow energy slowly replaced my darkness. That is the power of flowers!

Alicja

P.S.

Many poems were written about daffodils and their youthful dancing energy. Here you can listen to the poem of William Wordsworth:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK9UWpYuZiE

Have a good Easter weekend and a MULTICOLORED Spring!

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

To Vote, or Not to Vote, that is NOT the Question.

October 20, 2012

We are in the midst of political campaigns and debates as Election Day approaches. Actually, we have been living in the midst of campaigns for the entire year! I feel fatigued by it and am looking forward to the end of it on November 6th. Regardless, I recognize how important casting one’s vote is and how important it is to be a well informed voter.

I did not always feel this way. Before my emigration to this country, my voting or not voting was totally irrelevant. Why?

Well, imagine yourself living behind the iron curtain in so called Communist Poland where you would have to vote for the list of candidates preselected by the Communist Party.

On Voting Day, which was always a Sunday, you would go to the voting place, pick up your ballot, glance at it quickly, and promptly insert it into the slot of the voting box. Most likely that box would be positioned in front of a rectangular table decorated with flowers and flags. At that table you would see the faces of several Party officials, sitting there and watching you carefully.

Oh yes! There would be available one booth with a black or green curtain. You could enter that booth to pencil out a couple of names on the ballot. But why would you bother? Living there at that time you would understand that “your patriotic duty is to trust the Party,” so even entering that booth would be a sign of your distrust. You would also know that those watchful comrades at the decorated table would make a note of it, and sooner or later you would be questioned about it. After all, the Communist Party had ultimate power over your life—like having a job, a place to live, permission to move to another city or to travel abroad.

Coming to this country changed my perspective on voting dramatically. So today when someone tells me, “I will not vote because it does not make any difference,” I get upset and argue, “It does matter a great deal!”

2012 presidential and vice-presidential debates

Romney-Obama and Biden-Ryan debates

I do admit that living in this country for many years has dimmed the rosy picture of Democracy which I had at first. Still, I believe in our democracy. Learning about the Civil Rights Movement in this country contributed greatly to that belief. It preserved my optimism and hope for change in spite of some cynicism creeping into my heart.

Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, is known today as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. It is the place where a quiet action by Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Ten years later, another spark ignited the fire of the Voting Rights Movement — the famous, bloody march from Selma to Montgomery.

Last year I took the opportunity to visit Selma and Montgomery to “touch” the reality of those places.

Entrance to Selma, AL

Selma, Alabama

Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama

Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

The Edmund Pettus Bridge is the landmark in Selma that “witnessed” three attempts by the Voting Rights Movement to march peacefully to Montgomery. The first attempt on March 7, 1965 was bloody and ended at the bridge with the marchers being brutally beaten by Alabama State Troopers and forced to turn back. The last one on March 21 was successful — it took 4 days for protesters to walk to their destination, the state Capitol — this time with armed protection enforced by a U.S. District Court order. These marches led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act on July 9, 1965.

Cover of "The March Continues" from Southern Poverty Law Center

Cover of exhibit guide

Marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma

Marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma.
Click on photo to watch the video “Faces in the Water.”

Entrance to Civil Rights Museum, Selma, Alabama

Entrance to The National Voting Rights Museum, Selma

Inside the National Voting Rights Museum

At the desk of the Museum

Civil Rights Memorial fountain in Montgomery, Alabama

Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery

"Faces in the Water" video, and "A Lawyer's Journey: by Morris Dees

Mementos from the Civil Rights Memorial Center

Two woman holding sign "Votes for Women"

I experienced the women’s movement in this country during the 1970s and was strongly influenced by it. However, the women’s struggle for their voting rights had taken place much earlier in most countries including the United States. Somehow I did not take any special interest in the history of women’s suffrage until now.

It is amazing that women, half the population of this proudly democratic country, did not have the right to vote for over a century. Women had to take that issue into their hands and fight for that basic political right. Many dedicated their lives to it.

Women's suffrage march, Washington DC, March 3, 1913

Women’s suffrage march in Washington, D.C., 1913

While I simply hated the unlimited power of the Communist Party in Poland, today I dislike and distrust the power of “Big Money” (corporate and individual) trying to influence and distort the democratic process in this country. That is why I believe in the importance of being an informed voter.

In my opinion the act of not voting is a form of betrayal of those who in the past suffered, and in some cases died, for the right to vote.

November 6th is Election Day — be sure to VOTE!

Back cover of Bridges Magazine, published by Imani Press

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Photo of exhibit guide from Southern Poverty Law Center. Photo of marchers from “Faces in the Water” video. Women’s suffrage photos source unknown. Photo of men and flag from back cover of Bridges published by Imani Press. Text and other photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.


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