Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sabino Canyon Strolls

With the rain down low and snow in the mountains,

Sabino Creek has been running full this past week.  Even the trams were canceled or abridged for a while because of water running too high over the bridges.

In any case we are walkers and trying to stroll daily in the canyon to build up my wife's stamina after her recent illness.  The other day we celebrated her goal of managing to make it all the way to the Bear Canyon Road Picnic Overlook where you can see a  further goal of reaching the dam. 

On the way back we saw our first patch of Ocotillo that had some buds starting. Spring is beginning in the dessert.

 A few days later we made it to the Bear Canyon Road Bridge.

Although the water was shallow enough to allow the Bear Canyon shuttle to proceed, walkers have to make other arrangements. Some intrepids dispensed with shoes and socks and simply slogged through the icy waters.

 We also saw a  fully prepared professional pull a pair of black garbage bags out of his pack and make the journey high and dry.

Nothing like a little trail smarts. 
Look for further entries devoted to flora and fauna and maybe even bubbles.  See ya!






The Rogue Does It Again

Tucson's Rogue Theatre has hit the jackpot again with their breathtakingly imaginative production of Mary Zimmerman's  The White Snake. The play is adapted from an ancient Chinese folk tale about a "non human" in the form of a snake who comes down from her mountain home with her faithful servant to try out life on earth. She falls in love with a nice but impoverished mortal man and in no time at all we have "trouble right there in river city."

The Rogue company has a tiny auditorium, a tight stage, and more limited resources than Broadway or major resident theatres, but they do have some jewels in their pockets.  For instance there is a magnificent company of actors--several of whom have worked together for years-- and a talented director (Cynthia Meier) who knows how to draw the best out of them.  They also have a faithful subscription audience that allows them to program exciting and challenging work.

The Rogue offering is leaner in terms of numbers of cast, costume changes, and eye popping scenery than the 2014 Goodman Theatre production but it is in a couple of ways more satisfying.  The leaner meaner production design called forth more imaginative participation from the audience and it drew me into the characters rather than encouraging me to watch an operatic pageant unfolding. The Goodman stage was filled with beauty, but encouraged me to watch the spectacle from a distance. In Tucson the humor in the production was pulled to the front.  Holly Griffith's "Green Snake" in particular played up her servant's role with a full complement of facial exhortations and huffy walks. This does make the transition back to seriousness at the end a little tricky, but overall this was a production that was great fun, truly imaginative, and ultimately thought provoking.  What more can one ask of the theatre?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Some Tucson Days

The warmth of the last couple of weeks has deserted us, but the cloudiness and precipitation has made each day different as we gaze out the living room window. The mornings with clouds have given us some deliciously streaky starts to the day.

Clearing brings blue skies with

just a nice little pink

And the showers often come with a rainbow

Most of the time we see this, but
last night we had more rain and lots of snow in the higher elevations. This was definitely a new look and we have not seen this much snow up there in some time.

With snow in the mountains runoff increases in the warmer valleys and when we headed out to Sabino Canyon around 2:00 PM on Saturday for a bit of a walk, we found a low section of Snyder Ave had become a running stream.  

Off course there are always the idiots in SUV's who ignore the signs.

Our daily  excursions to Sabino Canyon have not given up a lot of wildlife yet, but we are working on it.  Here are a male and female phainopepla.   The male is pretty much all coal black while the female is gray with some white wing markings.

Cactus wrens are also pretty numerous. Usually up top on Saguaros, but also on the ground.


When walking the paths you must also be careful to avoid the deadly wood snake.

No fear of a bite, just a trip up if you are not careful.

And it is your lucky day if you pass by a rare crested saguaro.



 Time to snuggle in now with a good book for the evening. 






Monday, January 16, 2017

Victoria is no Downton Abbey

Sat through the full two hour opener of Victoria on PBS  last night and can report that Downton Abbey will not be threatened.  First off, of course, is that this is history not fiction and therefore the outcome is known.  With no real suspense possible the interest, as in Shakespeare, is in how the characters will reach their already stipulated ends. At the moment the Queen is na├»ve and pretty and her opposition seems obsequious, and less than exciting. From the Germans lurking in the halls to the oily Lord Melbourne, they were to a turn pretty dull.  We look forward to a few more sparks when Pitt does manage to succeed.

Visually there are some stunning scenes, but mostly the director seems to lavish a bit too much love and time on overly formal processions and architecture. They are pretty but drag down the pace.  It is also unfortunate that the limited TV budget parameters are emphasized in the cheesy process shots of crowds and early 19th century London. 

Then there is an attempt every ten minutes of so to insert snippets of life below the rodent infested stairs.  None of the servant class gets more than thirty seconds at a crack and none of them jump out at you as appealing. I have not read the book so do not know if this was used in the same manner, but here it seems like someone ordered some programmed  interruptions for shots of the little people at work.  At this point they do little more than set up the next glorious costume or ballroom. The monarchy may be threatened but down below it is two bit chiseling about gloves rats, and candles.

To be fair this may be the necessary setup for fireworks to come.  We shall see if the actors can surmount the less than appealing reputation of this Queen.  

Monday, January 09, 2017

A bit of old Finland in Tucson

Went to a movie today at a huge 20 screen movie emporium at a large mall called Park Place in Tucson.  You buy your tickets on the ground floor and then take a large set of stairs or an escalator up a good two or three stories to the lobby and screens proper.

A closer look at the giant escalator reveals its manufacturer.

So what you say! Well Kone is a Finnish company with its main offices in Helsinki and my son works for them and lives in Helsinki. So all the way in Tucson this winter I can get a little reminder of  what he is doing.   Pretty cool.