Archive for the ‘Photo reports’ 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,



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:

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

December 4, 2012

Surprisingly I have recently caught the “bug” for the Weekly Photo Challenge by WordPress.

Here are a few of my photo reflections:

From Cape Cod
From Cape Cod © Alicja Mann

From Yuma
From Yuma © Alicja Mann

From the Patio
From the Patio in Tucson © Alicja Mann

From the Road

From the Road © Alicja Mann


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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

A Photographic Detour

February 22, 2012

This is a small detour on my writing road – a photographic one. My commitment to this coming Saturday’s (February 25th) SOUTHWEST ARTISTS SHOW in downtown Tucson has taken my writing focus away. My concentration on writing this blog has gone down to zero!

Unfocused photographs are sometimes interesting, have some purpose, and can be attractive. Unfocused writing, however, is seldom desirable. Consequently, I have decided to delay my writing this week and focus on the show.

Flyer for Southwest Artists Show 2012

Below are a few of my photos.

Desert flowers by Alicja Mann

Two Windows by Alicja Mann

Cafe Yellow by Alicja Mann

If you are in Tucson this “Rodeo Days” weekend, please feel invited to the historic Bates Mansion and visit our diverse group of artists.

Enjoy the courtyard and the mansion. Enjoy the art and conversation. Enjoy the music, food, and wine. Just have a nice time!

Entrance to Bates Mansion

There is plenty of space to park nearby – free of charge on the weekend.

I hope to see you there!

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Text and photos (except Southwest Artists Show flyer) copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

American Tragedy in Tucson

January 12, 2011

What a different idea I had for 2011’s first entry in my blog! The writing was almost ready — poetic and happy as the first day of this year was for me — among loving friends celebrating the new year’s arrival in our house. A time of fun, best wishes, and new dreams. Being involved in an important and very hopeful event in my personal life, I delayed a bit finishing that entry. Suddenly I found myself in a moment when I could only sing the familiar “what a difference a day makes”… and wrote a totally different entry for my blog. In this space I had planned to have my photo “Dancing Lights.” Instead you see today “Lights of Sorrow.”

Gabrielle Giffords vigil

I am frustrated, sad, and devastated by the tragic shooting in Tucson this past Saturday. Living here it is hard to focus on anything but that. My gentle and kind Tucson is the center of attention for the national media and I wish that it would be for a very different reason. Almost nonstop, newspapers, TV stations, and a wide range of Internet media pour out information about the tragedy of our Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the violent shooting. Today President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrived in Tucson to participate in a memorial ceremony. So I wonder, should I add my drop of water to the ocean of words of sympathy, information, commentary, and condolences? The answer is, “Yes!”  I feel a desire and obligation to do so. WHY? “Because in a strong democracy, the arts are inextricably linked to civic dialogue and hard-won freedoms, with arts providing leadership as observers and reflectors,” stated the Arizona Commission on the Arts in response to the Tucson tragedy. I couldn’t agree more and I do believe that writers have a special responsibility to voice themselves.

So here are my observations and reflections of the tragic event in Tucson.

Ironically on that now infamous Saturday we (my husband, my son visiting from California, and I) had plans for that evening in the very same area (at the corner of Ina and Oracle) where the tragedy happened. The plan was to go to the Bluefin restaurant located there, have dinner and listen to the music of Reno del Mar – two guitarists whom we know and like, and whom I wanted my son (also a musician) to meet. Instead, we spent that evening at a very different place — at the corner of Swan and Pima where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ offices are located.

We went there with flowers and candles to join others in our grief. The vigil was small and not coordinated by anyone — totally spontaneous. People were there because they felt that it was the place to be at that moment. There were a few reporters talking to some of us. I happened to be interviewed by the Washington Post.

Leaving flowers outside Gabrielle Giffords' office

The place is familiar to me. It is very near our home and I pass it every day. We live in the Congresswoman’s district and are strong supporters of her. In fact, we were there several months ago for a totally different and joyful occasion — to participate in a Thank You party for Giffords after she voted for the health care bill. I even had a picture taken with her.

Alicja Mann with Gabrielle Giffords Smashed window at Gabrielle Giffords' office

Gabrielle Giffords needed special support from her constituents at that time. A few hours after she voted in favor of health care reform, the window of her Tucson office was smashed.

By focusing on our Congresswoman I do not want to diminish the tragedy of the other victims of this violent shooting.

Judge John Roll will not be able to serve us and fight for more fairness. The charming nine-year-old Christina Green will never experience the mystery of her adulthood. The lovely older couples will not celebrate their birthdays or wedding anniversaries. Many will suffer their physical and psychological wounds for a long time. Even though the prognosis for Gabrielle Giffords’ survival is optimistic, we do not know what her future will be. What we do know is that she was the main target of this violence — others just happened to be there at her “Congress on Your Corner” event.

We can call Jared Loughner insane, lunatic, irresponsible, etc., but it is clear that his target was Gabrielle Giffords. Congresswoman Giffords was chosen by us. She is part of our government. The act of violence against her is an act of violence against us, against democracy, stability, and peace.

Gabrielle Giffords memorial

Perhaps we will find that Loughner had no political motive, but we cannot deny that lately our country has experienced a terribly intolerant political atmosphere. It has been greatly amplified by the angry rhetoric of the Tea Party and especially of its queen Sarah Palin.

“Oh, words are just words,” people often say. Really? How about these words: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly” — a notice for a campaign event for Jesse Kelly, Giffords’ Republican opponent in the 2010 election.

Words have meaning. Words can hurt or can heal and should be used with respect. Words, their suggestive meanings, and their imagery are powerful tools. They can encourage violence. And if words are used as a weapon, they can indeed turn into real weapons!

So what to do?

I am signing a petition that I received from The petition will be sent to every member of Congress and major TV and cable news networks, and it reads:

“I call for an end to all overt or implied appeals to violence in American politics. We must debate, not hate.”

I urge you to do the same. Here is the link to sign the petition.

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Copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann

Studio Event – Photography

November 9, 2010

This weekend I will be wearing a different hat, that of a photographer rather than a writer. I will participate in a popular event among artists and residents of Tucson — an Open Studio Tour.

Every year in the fall the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) organizes that event with great skill and dedication. As a result the Open Studio Tour is growing into a bigger, more popular, and more prestigious event. This Saturday and Sunday, November 13th and 14th, from 11am till 5pm, over 200 artists of Tucson will open their studio doors and welcome visitors. Here is the LINK where you can find the participating artists and their studios.

I will be honored if you find time to visit my studio. Please do come, see my new photos, gather some information about our book design and publishing, and just have some fun.

Here are a few words about my photography.

I was a writer before I became a photographer. The photography sprang from my writing and publishing assignments and it became an integral part of my life — a joyful one. It brings a good balance to the very demanding, lonely, and often frustrating act of writing. Writing and photography — I love them both, just like two different children.

So far my photography is narrative, rather than experimental. I try to show how I see things around me, what fascinates me, tell a story, or make a comment.

My strongest interests in photography are people, plants, and architecture.

Photographic close-ups of people’s faces are the landscapes of their souls in my opinion, while plants fascinate me with the contrast of their fragility and strength.

Thistle Man in Tubac, Arizona

I like photographing architectural structures because they tell us a lot about the place, the time, and the people who created them.

Tucson through an archway Agave

While traveling across this country twice a year (from Tucson to Cape Cod and back) and enjoying being a passenger most of the time rather than a driver, I have a great opportunity of taking my photo observations “on the road.” My hope is to share them later with others in my photo essays — an exciting combination of words and images.

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

Bridging the Gap of Time

May 29, 2010

Eight months have passed since I conceived this WAVES blog idea and then what? Nada, silence, silencio, cisza… no waves were made with new entries in this blog. Why?

Cover of Looking at the World Tiwce by Alicja MannWell, I became extremely busy making waves not with new writings, but making waves about my writing, namely with promoting my newly (not so new anymore!) published book Looking at the World Twice: Essays & Poems on Identity, Belonging and Otherness.

It is amazing how much time and energy such activity does consume!  And there seem to be no limits to that consumption. The ‘limits” line seems to move in front of you like the horizon as you walk towards it in an open space.

So today I am posting my super condensed photo report in an attempt to bridge that gap of time and to resume writing this blog at least every other week.

Here is the report:

I was making waves with readings and signings of my book at a variety of bookstores, book festivals, reading groups, and other book loving places.

Alicja Mann reading at Booksmith in Falmouth, MAHere I am with my captive audience

The photos above and below are from my reading and signing at Booksmith in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Alicja Mann reading and signing her book in Falmouth, MAReading my book and signing it for a friend

I was making radio waves about the book and exchanging books with other writers.

Alicja Mann giving radio interview, and exchanging books with author Mary RobinsonGiving a radio interview for KJLL 1330AM at the Tucson Festival of Books
Exchanging books with Mary Robinson,
author, civil rights activist & textile union advocate from Alabama

Another attempt at making waves was entering several competitions for the recognition of the book in the world of independent publishing. My book had to compete with the books published by a wide range of highly visible and reputable presses including those of universities, museums, and National Parks. I am happy to announce that my book has made several big waves.

Looking at the World Twice: Essays & Poems on Identity, Belonging and Otherness is:

Winner of 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the Short Story Nonfiction category
Finalist of 2009 ForeWord Reviews magazine Book of the Year Awards in the Essays category
Finalist of 2010 Glyph Award of Arizona Book Publishing Association (ABPA) in the General Nonfiction (Adult) category
Winner of 2010 Glyph Award of Arizona Book Publishing Association (ABPA) in the Best Cover Design (Adult) category

Concerning this last award, I am very thankful to GC Myers for allowing me to use his art on the front cover. I always felt that his “Elevation of Being” would fit the spirit of my book perfectly.

Let’s face it, being announced as a winner or finalist in a particular category of books is very exciting and brings a lot of satisfaction, but receiving ABPA’s Glyph award this month will be imprinted in my memories forever.

Three photographs of Alicja Mann at ABPA Glyph awards banquetABPA Glyph awards banquet photos / top to bottom:
Accepting my Glyph Award from ABPA President Bill Fessler and Executive Director Gwen Henson — With Alan Korwin, founder and former President of ABPA — Among other happy winners

I think that the way the ABPA event was organized, its aura and the handsome look of the award itself, made a big difference. The 2010 Arizona Book Awards Banquet took place in Phoenix on Saturday evening, May 1st at the Phoenix Country Club. Dressed up participants, elegant dinner, background live music, projection on a big screen of book covers of the finalists and the presentation of the Glyph Award to each winner reminded me quite bit of the Oscar ceremony. Being honored in that fashion is indeed a special treat. ABPA and especially its members directly involved in organizing the event deserve applause and many thanks.

And I thank you today for visiting this blog and being patient with my bragging. Now I can get back to work on my next projects.

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