Posted tagged ‘Tucson’

Helsinki Moment

July 19, 2018

A few days ago, one of my friends brought me a small gift – a bumper sticker that she thought I would like, knowing my political compass. On a white, frugally used space you can see two rhyming words in dark caps – DUMP TRUMP. No exclamation point, just a straight message. I loved it and immediately thought that it should be distributed around. “Perhaps we should reproduce it in large numbers and pass them out in supermarkets and other public places?”

Later that evening I thought about that sticker again. “OK, it is cute, it is clever, and it feels good to have it, but in the reality of today’s political situation in our country, how could Trump be dumped?!  Impeachment comes to mind, but… it’s a very lengthy, complicated process and with today’s Republicans infected by the Trumpism disease and their self-interest… forget it!

I recall numerous slogans, propaganda statements, and political posters from the time of my growing up in post-war Poland controlled by Soviet style Communist apparatchiks. I developed a strong dislike of propaganda that stayed with me till today. After years of living in this country, I learned to accept the fact that propaganda is alive here as well, but it’s called “political advertising.” However, I like bumper stickers, and when I am touched by one, I put it on my car or on my studio’s wall like this one: DUMP TRUMP.

Like many, I have been very frustrated, stressed, and politically angry from the day Trump got elected and became the 45th President of this country! Trump’s domination by creating chaos and entering our lives every day with his bombastic personality, lies and endless tweets made me sick and evoked a form of political lethargy. This is similar to the response by many of us living in Tucson to its powerful sun generating almost unbearable heat in summer – it evokes physical lethargy with a desire to sleep and wait for cooler days. And they do come – with the monsoon’s rains! The lethargy disappears and new energy emerges! But that is the work of Nature. Political lethargy is much more complicated to deal with because is it caused by man-made politics and, in this particular case, Trump-made confusing politics. The cure has to come from us – society.

Then came the 16th of July 2018 which we Americans and the entire world will remember for a long time – the Helsinki Summit of Trump and Putin.

Helsinki Moment

In truth it was not a Summit, but a two and a half hour private chat of the two most powerful leaders of the world: President Trump and President Putin! Such a private chat should take place in a bar and focus on their wives, lovers, children, pets, or favorite sports, but NOT on matters concerning world politics! Such private chats are fine for us, the ordinary people. However, private chats of Trump and Putin are a totally different matter because they have great consequences.

You can imagine that I watched that Helsinki press conference glued to our TV – making notes, taking photos and recording words of Trump and Putin. Like many I was out-raged.

I will not repeat the epithets or statements the press and some political figures addressed towards Trump at that time. Those opinions are flying like small and large birds on the world’s political sky. However, I will share the one text I immediately sent to a close friend, “Trump’s ‘performance’ was a great embarrassment to this country!”

Let’s face it; Putin definitely won that “match”! With his characteristic calm confidence he presented Trump with a soccer ball from the World Cup, which Trump quickly tossed to Melania as a gift for their son Baron.

Tossing ball

World politics is not like a soccer game, a business deal, or a TV entertainment show – it is more like a very sophisticated chess game! In such a game Putin is a much better player than Trump, who most likely couldn’t beat Putin in a game of checkers!

I have been living here long enough to notice that this society does not like losers – the focus is always on the winner. So why not to DUMP TRUMP?!

Helsinki’s 16th July event will not be forgotten. It was proclaimed by many journalists, diplomats, and politicians as one of the darkest moments in American history.

The Helsinki sky on that memorable night did not get dark. There was a penetrating, gentle light diluting the sky’s darkness. One who does not live there might be surprise by that. But that is Finland – light is always present on summer nights! It might be hard to sleep on such nights, and that specific night was sleepless for many, especially journalists like Anderson Cooper and others.

Helsinki Moment 2

Poetically and politically speaking, I see that gentle light as a symbol of an awakening. Perhaps that Helsinki event will be an awaking moment for our society to see this divisive President in a new light. Perhaps we will unite and decide to DUMP TRUMP.

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: 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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

December 13, 2012

I was born and grew up in a country that has been celebrating the four seasons for centuries! Spring was always beautiful with little flowers peeking from under the snow, and so was autumn with nostalgia of the falling leaves in Warsaw. Majestic winter, generously spreading its white fluffy blanket, could beautify anything. But my favorite season was summer! It represented freedom from school and a lot of fun with friends on the Baltic shore. The warmth of the sun was unforgettable.

a
My life in this country started on Cape Cod where I settled for “quite a while” raising my two sons and working professionally. All four seasons marked the rhythm of our life there. Again, summer was my favorite and compensated for the grayness of winter.

a
It was on the Cape that I defined the color of my parachute. And that is how I landed in Tucson, Arizona, a place where summer never ends…well, almost never. Actually, there are some changes of season here in Tucson. And that is the point of this photo essay.

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Saguaro Bloom (c) Alicja Mann

2) Lilies

Southwest plants are blooming all year round – just different ones in different (calendar) seasons. With the flowers, the blue sky, and the warmth of the sun, every day seems like a summer day.

3) African Daisy

4) Durable Verbena

5) Orange Trumpet

 After the hottest days of June the monsoon season is greatly anticipated. Dark clouds signal its arrival. The heavy, warm rains are welcomed and celebrated.

6) Before the Rain

7B) Monsoon Rain

7C) After the Rain

Even in December the patio plants look as if it were summer.

8) Geraniums

9) Yellow Trumpet

10) Spike and Window

I know it is winter when our neighbor, Joe, decorates his orange tree with large, colorful lights to celebrate the Holidays and keep the tree warm at night. That is the sign for me to be ready to cover our plants to protect them from the occasional touch of frost. It also is the time to hang the Holiday wreath and acknowledge the arrival of winter.

11) Joes Lights

12) Winter Wreath

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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Spring Fever

April 13, 2012
Ms. Spring

Ms. Spring by 6-year-old Beatka from Poland

Ms. Spring has definitely arrived where she should arrive by this time. In Tucson she has been spreading her charm with flowers for a while already — yellow and pink ones dominating. She also brought me the yearly fever – Spring Fever that is! You might have some symptoms of it too. Here are mine — a hard time to concentrate on any creative work (like writing) that confines me to my studio, restlessness, the desire to garden, to walk, to bicycle, to watch birds, to shop for a new patio umbrella, to visit with friends, to do whoever knows what!

She is very demanding and insists that I be with her — outdoors of course! So the idea of spring break is very attractive to me, and I decided to take one. I hope you can do it too.

mesquite tree and flowers

Zorba the Tree and Flowers

wheelbarrow and flowers

Spring Work

bicycle in front of studio

Ready and Tempting

Alicja Mann's shadow with flowers

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Copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Affectionate Pink

February 2, 2012

February is already here and, as always, tinted with a strong touch of red and pink dictated by Valentine’s Day.

I consider pink as the “gray” of red and white because of its gradations from pale to hot pink. Pink is not diluted red, but the transition from pink to red. Consequently, it does not symbolize for me a diluted love, but rather the possibility of growing into love. It has a strong association with the affectionate feelings of mine: for places, for persons, or for groups of people. Considering that Valentine’s Day is coming soon, this post is about my feelings colored in pink.

The first stream of my warm pink goes to Bohemia, a colorful shop which was always filled to the brim with art and crafts created by local artists of Tucson. I was proud being one of them. Tana Kelch led this small enterprise with great gusto for an entire nine years. First in the Lost Barrio and most recently on Broadway Boulevard near Country Club.

Sign and parking lot in front of Bohemia, Tucson, Arizona

Outside Bohemia

Inside the former Bohemia, Tucson, AZ

Inside Bohemia - from their website

I had always strong affection for Bohemia because of its spirit, philosophy and hospitality. I was happy to see its large logo visible from a distance while driving on Broadway towards downtown or back from it. I was happy with its success and I thought that Bohemia would be there forever. When I shopped there for last Christmas, I did not realize that it would be my last shopping there, but it was!

On January 19th Tana announced in her newsletter the closing of Bohemia:

“There are so many emotions as Bohemia was more than just a business to me and, I hope, to you. Alas, it was a business and the end is an unfortunate sign of the times. These years have been an incredible journey and I thank you for the lessons and successes and experiences that were part of the Bohemia world.”

I was shocked and terribly sad. How could this be? It was hard for me to imagine this spot on Broadway without Bohemia…so I went there and took some photos.

Bohemia entrance door and closer view of stickers on it

Bohemia's front entrance and closer view of spirited stickers

I will miss dropping by to pick up Zócalo and Tucson Weekly and to browse for a while among the amazing and amusing objects that people can create. I will miss buying them for a variety of occasions, excited that my friends will enjoy receiving original gifts created by local artists. I will miss the parties there with music and wine, its eclectic crowd, and true bohemian atmosphere.

Farewell Bohemia, thank you Tana! The memory of Bohemia lives in several charming objects in our house — like a colorful bench, some small ceramics and my funky bracelets. They are more valuable for me today than I ever anticipated.

Alicja Mann's image twice in shop windows of Bohemia, Tucson, Arizona

My double image and double sorrow

Bohemia’s closing made me sensitive to the possibilities of losing other things I love. My thoughts flew immediately to the KUAT-FM Classical radio station. Ever since I moved to Tucson, 11 years ago, I have listened to their music every morning. I was “conditioned” for this by Morning Pro Musica of WGBH while living on Cape Cod. Robert J. Lurtsema and his signature openings with chirping birds did bring a smile every morning. So discovering KUAT in Tucson was a happy event for me. Although I am a jazz fan and like all kinds of music, my mornings, while still in bed, have to start with the smell and warmth of a cup of coffee and sounds of classical music announced by James Reel or another pleasant voice of this station. And KUAT sure does have a great “collection” of terrific radio voices! I have never met any of the announcers, but their voices have become part of my life.

10 classical CD covers

Some of my CDs

I know how easy it is to take for granted the reliable, stable elements of life. I was reminded of it most recently when I did not hear James Reel for several mornings and I started to worry, “What has happened? Is he on vacation? Maybe he had to travel somewhere? Maybe somebody in his family is sick? Perhaps he is ‘under the weather’ as I was a couple of weeks ago?” Then a series of “what ifs” entered my mind. “What if this program would disappear? What if the station does not have enough money? What if…?”

David had a little laugh about all my worries, but for me imagining that this program might not be available was a truly scary thing — I saw it as a huge black hole, a dark void in my life.

I deal with small voids like that every time I travel, especially because hotels provide only lousy clock radios, totally useless for listening to good music. Of course, one can carry one’s own collection of music downloaded onto a computer or an iPod, but it is not the same. Not at all!

The element of surprise is missing. The element of discovery of some unfamiliar composer or new piece of music is missing. The entire concept of adventure with music is missing and, of course, the comforting presence of the announcer’s voice is missing! So when I hear “Good morning this is 90.5 classical, I am James Reel,” I feel secure, calm, and very much at home.

For the coming Valentine’s Day my affectionate pink goes to all at KUAT-FM with many thanks of being there — every day.

Have a warm pink day on February 14th — Alicja

Chair, table, gauzy curtains, pink flowers

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Text and photos (except of Bohemia interior) copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.


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