I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Urban poetry

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope this Frites-monster outside a shop in Brussels doesn't scare you off carbohydrates permanently.

I've been quite lazy this week. Apart from a few long walks on the heath and the high street, enjoying English suburban life, it's been mostly tea and chats with first and second and third cousins (well, the third cousin is only 18 months old and not much of a conversationalist, but she makes up for her silence with pure charm.)

Now I'm ensconced -- definitely the right verb for the situation -- at a rather clubby hotel in St James, and the sun is shining on Central London and I need to get out before it disappears entirely.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I liked the mossy greens and dappled light on this statue much more than the actual figures, although it did make me laugh because the figure on the left with the winged hat and caduceus doesn't appear as though he ever goes anywhere in much of a hurry -- certainly no one I'd hire as a messenger if I were a god and there were other options.

But thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that this is actually meant to be Commerce, in the guise of Hermes/Mercury. The figure with his thumb grazing Commerce's knee in such a familiar manner is Navigation. And apparently they are Quite Good Friends, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Parc de Bruxelles

This lovely park is in the center of Brussels, between the royal palace and the Parliament. It's a nice bit of green -- or red, copper and gold this time of year -- in the midst of all the brick and stone.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Belated bird blogging

I was going to skip the birds this week, but then found this picture: the incongruity of a tropical bird against the gloomy Northern skies in the Parc de Bruxelles in Brussels.

I knew what it was right away because I'd seen these rose-ringed parakeets the last time I stayed in Croydon, but although the parakeets are apparently quite happy living in Northern Europe it just seems so wrong to see them here.

Bumpy landing in London

I'm a little lazy today, so this is a phone picture of the trees in my cousin's garden in Croydon this morning. You can't see the magpies who were busy chattering away in the branches, but just pretend there's an annoying soundtrack to the image.

I flew in from Brussels Saturday morning, and after standing in the immigration line at Heathrow for an hour and a half (I could get an EU passport -- why haven't I just done it already??) I wasn't feeling great by the time I arrived here two hours later than expected. And unfortunately for all concerned, I got worse -- nothing screams “gracious houseguest” like barfing up your hostess's lovely homemade lasagne an hour after dinner.

After lots of sleep and some industrial-grade TLC including a pot of homemade soup, I am much better today, and more Brussels pictures will follow shortly.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Medieval masterpieces

I almost went to Bruges today; it's been on my list for a long time and I hate the thought of being so close and not seeing it. But I'm still tired, and the idea of spending hours on trains didn't appeal to me, and since I got to take my time wandering through the Grand Place on a sunny morning I can't say I didn't get a full immersion in Medieval Splendor.

Many pictures to come -- I really loved Brussels today, and I will definitely come back if I can.

Belgian reflections

Greetings from Brussels! This was the Palais des Congrès built for the 1958 World's Fair, now a convention center. It's a nice hyper-modern contrast to the older facades in the reflections and the background.

My hotel room wasn't ready until late afternoon yesterday, and I hadn't managed much sleep on the stuffy, overcrowded flight, so I wandered around Brussels in a gray haze that matched the drizzly Northern European weather, without having much sense of where I was going or what I was seeing.

The pictures I managed to take show how out of it I was; I'm thinking of them as placeholders for better shots I might manage today. Both my phone and the BBC promise me there will be sunshine later, despite the sludgy gray skies I'm looking at now. My brain is a little on the sludgy side as well, despite having had a double espresso with a cappuccino chaser for breakfast, but a brisk walk in bracing air should help with that. And I know that I can count on the “bracing” part, anyway.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Astronomy Wednesday

Apologies for being a day late -- getting through those two days at the office was a little more challenging than expected, and I had no time for blogging.

I'm at Newark airport, waiting for my flight to Brussels, so finally have a chance to catch my breath. The United lounge is closed for renovations and I am sitting in the charmless “pop-up” temporary lounge. It isn't much more comfortable than sitting at the gate -- it doesn't even have a bathroom -- but there are free snacks and wi-fi, so at least I can post this lovely image: NGC 7789, also known as Caroline's Rose, after its discoverer, Caroline Herschel. She's a fascinating character in the history of astronomy; her brother was William Herschel, best known for discovering Uranus. While she spent most of her time assisting him, she also discovered eight comets on her own, and was one of the first women granted honorary membership in the Royal Society.

Image Credit and Copyright: Guillaume Seigneuret

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

Here's another twofer: a pair of northern flickers. They were way, way up at the top of a very tall tree, and though they were relatively close to each other, I didn't manage to get a single shot that had both of them in any kind of focus.

I love that tail!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday reflections

Here's a twofer: a gaudy bracelet and a truly unfortunate necklace in the windows of Cartier on Fifth Avenue. I like the effect of photographing the windows at an angle so the reflections are all smooshed together and the focus is on the jewelry.

Two photos, two more days in the office and I'm off to London for Thanksgiving, with a brief stopover in Brussels on the way.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Urban poetry

A bin of colorful crabs for sale in Chinatown.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Well, this is very cool.

I posted an image from the surface of comet C67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko several years ago, commenting that the Rosetta probe wasn't getting a sufficient charge on its solar panels and there might not be any more pictures. But Rosetta, like the Mars Rover, just kept going, and sent this picture last July, shortly before self-destructing. This plume of dust and water-ice emerging from beneath the comet's surface may show how a comet gets its tail.

Image Credit & Copyright: ESA, Rosetta, MPS, OSIRIS; UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

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