Category Archives: Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Disjointed Thoughts on a Winter Desert Hike

Ventana Canyon
January in the Sonoran Desert – time to explore what becomes off limits as the mercury rises in the summer.

A little desert hike for the family this MLK weekend.

Fox’s first hike into the desert canyons, creeks and among the cacti.

Bean’s first hike where she isn’t carried at any point.

Ventana Canyon, Green’s favorite Tucson canyon.

Water and green among the scrub.

I fantasize about being in good enough shape to make it back up to the window arch by the end of this year. Like I did 15 years ago.

Bean just enjoys.

Ventana Canyon



Filed under Arizona, Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Tucson-Bike Vigil

We were all set to join the Bike Vigil for the victims of Saturday’s shooting last night. Bean was all bundled up against the cold night air and then we couldn’t find the plate that locks her bike seat to Green’s bike. Aghhhhh! Not to be thwarted Bean and I went down by car to the U of A mall to watch the vigil. I know it runs contrary to the whole Tuesday Night Community Bike Ride, but still we went, and I’m pleased we did. As the mass of bikes traveled down the UofA mall, headlamps twinkling, riders speaking in hushed tones, it was another reminder of the beauty that does exist within our community and the shared hope for peace, solace and healing. This is Tucson Velo’s video.


Filed under Acting Up, Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Tucson

Tucson Treasure – All Souls Procession

asp lantern
I remember seeing the rag-tag group moving down Fourth Avenue in the early 90’s and then in the mid 90’s sitting in O’Malley’s with Julie, I think, watching it again, still small. Today, the All Souls Procession, is truly a sacred Tucson Treasure. It represents something so magical, so community-based, and so healing that it should be nurtured, protected, revered. If you’re in Tucson and you haven’t been, mark the second Sunday in November 2011 now. You should go.
asp skull
What is it?
The All Souls Procession is a time to celebrate the lives and mourn the death of loved ones and ideas. Echoing the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, face paint, homemade costume and creative lanterns bring a sense of ritual to the event.
asp guitar
Why go?
The culture I belong to, (perhaps you do too?) has such issues with death. We have lost the ritual and tradition of wakes. The above all things work culture demands that death of loved ones be quickly addressed and not interfere with work production. How wonderful is this then? A time to celebrate, to laugh and love and cry. A time to remember. Death meets us all, but before that we get to live. We shouldn’t try to pretend that death isn’t part of the deal.
asp mama1

Do you take your child with you?

For a humanist/atheist, the death of a loved one provided me with a real parenting test. How do you explain death to a small child? Oh, how easy it would be to say the dead loved one is in heaven, or in the case of our sweet pups in doggy heaven chasing trains and rabbits. Easy to say we would see them again, but the truth, the truth is harder. We told Bean that death means the person is no longer living, we can no longer see them, or touch them, all the energy has left them, but that we still have love for them in our hearts, and sweet memories in our minds. That we always have them with us in a way as long as we have that love and those memories. *
Altdot Fall Exchange
Bean’s First All Souls Procession in 2007.
Sometimes, Bean says she is keeping Huxley in her stomach. Heart, stomach I get them confused too. Sometimes, like tonight she corrects me when I tell her that we’re celebrating the lives of those that have passed, “No Mummy, they haven’t passed. They’re dead. But we can remember them, and we can think about them, and we keep it here in our hearts.” As someone who spends too much time worrying that my child will be left motherless, it is important that she has a framework for understanding death. To understand the sorrow, but also how important memory and celebration of life is.
asp whitemask

The All Souls Procession draws upon Día de los Muertos and traditional rituals that include Catholicism, but the procession is for all walks of life and does not have to be religious. Whether you are religious or not, the procession is for all ages.

*remind me to tell you about a really lovely childrens book we found that deals with death without religion.


Filed under Arizona, Celebrations, Community, Family, Humanism/Atheism, Navigation of Dangerous Water (Parenting), Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona


The dog days of summer are upon us. It is blistering outside and the incessant noise of the cicadas is deafening. Oh, and I love it. Not the blistering heat, but the cicadas. I know it drives people nuts, but it is so bloody cool. Zrrrrrrrrrrrr zrrrrrrrrrrrrrr zrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
We’re a big ol’ pile of cicadas. Don’t mess with us. YEAH!


Filed under Arizona, Science Geek, Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Tucson Treasure – Cinema La Placita

It is the Thursday evening before payday and your wallet is rather thin. You’re looking for something to do that only costs what you can scrape up in change from the recesses of your sofa cushions and the bottom of your purse. Your other condition? Something that takes advantage of the relatively balmy evening temperatures. I did say relative, but who doesn’t love Tucson summer nights?

The answer? Cinema La Placita.

The Cinema La Placita Film Series is a Tucson Treasure without doubt. It brings Tucsonans together of all walks of life in a beautiful plaza downtown to enjoy American, and on rare occasion British, classic movies, but mostly to enjoy their city and each other. It has a fabulous  laid back Tucson vibe to it and for the suggested $3 donation is possibly one of the sweetest evenings out in Tucson. You even get free freshly popped popcorn.

Cinema La Placita Diaper Drive

Yes, you could rent many of these movies and sit in the darkness by yourself in a sterile air-conditioned house, but it wouldn’t be as much fun by a long shot.

Given the dedication to community that the originator, Erika O’Dowd, and the volunteers of Cinema La Placita show on a weekly basis May through October it isn’t really a surprise that they lent their support to Help A Mother Out’s May Diaper Drive campaign and let me set up an information table and collection spot for HAMO’s drive for the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona.

Before the show begins

We filled the back of the vehicle and took enough cash donations that we’re probably looking at approximately a thousand diapers through Cinema La Placita so a hearty thank you to Cinema La Placita and those that donated.

Cinema La Placita

Thing is, the Help A Mother Out campaign isn’t just about collecting diapers, it is about raising awareness. By setting me up next to the popcorn station Cinema La Placita allowed me to bombard hold  captive talk and answer questions about the need for diapers and continence supplies with a cross section of Tucson citizens, including those who have such need or have in the past.  It was awesome. Thank you!

Cinema La Placita has a facebook page that you can check out and find latest monthly schedules. June’s schedule looks pretty sweet. Hope to see you down there.

ps. Thanks to Josh for letting me pop popcorn in the fancy popcorn machine.


Filed under Acting Up, Arizona, Diapers, Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Sneaking off to watch Harold and Maude

Sometimes I think maybe I’m just a little bit sneaky. Tomorrow I’m off to watch Harold and Maude under the Tucson Sky at the very fabulous Cinema La Placita. Cinema La Placita is Tucson’s Open Air Film Series. It is totally supported by donations and sponsorship and they play cool classic movies in a beautiful downtown plaza complete with gazebo. Of course, I’m going under the guise of raising awareness about the need for diapers as part of Help A Mother Out’s Diaper Drive. So, if you’re in Tucson tomorrow evening, or next Thursday, come on down to La Placita Plaza at 110 S. Church Ave. The suggested donation for Cinema La Placita is $3 and I’ll be hanging out, probably with knitting in hand, collecting donations for the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona. Swing by and pick up a pack of diapers (size 4-6 are in particular need) or a box of wipes and grab a bag of good karma along with that popcorn and settle down for the classic Harold and Maude. Can’t join me tomorrow? Next Thursday is Island of Lost Souls.I’ll be there.


Filed under Acting Up, Diapers, Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Tucson Treasure -Jennifer Lee Carrell

What a treasure of a writer that Tucson gets to claim in the form of Jennifer Lee Carrell. Carrell wrote the spectacular Speckled Monster which details part of the smallpox vaccine story usually left of the mainstream discussion in fascinating fictional form and highlights the role of women in this work .

Carrell’s subsequent work is more thriller in nature and what I’m thrilled by is that she lives here, here in Tucson. Tucson is a small enough place, even with a population of a million, the chance of interacting with someone in a casual manner are fairly likely. Turns out Jennifer is part of the TucsonMama community.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I hear of writers, artists, musicians, and activists who live in Tucson.  I might be a science geek, but the arts and humanities are such a mystery to me that I am in awe of such abilities.

Carrell is reading at Antigone (there is yet another Tucson treasure) this Friday and in the meantime TucsonMama is running a book giveaway of Carrell’s latest  book Haunt Me Still. Don’t worry if you’re not a Tucson Mama, the competition is open until Friday. Check it out, go leave a comment and take a chance on winning a book. I can’t.

Here is the trailer for the book:

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Filed under Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona, TucsonMama