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

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Another unexpected treat at the AGO: I didn't make it to Ethiopia a few years ago, so I'd never seen any of their religious art. The exhibit had both Christian art and magic scrolls and they were fascinating. This diptych, from around 1700, shows a collection of archangels who could pass for modern supermodels on their way to a benefit at the Met.

Some of the AGO treasures

Here's something I'd never seen before -- a series of German chalices from around 1600. The ornate metal filigree is typical; what's unusual are the materials used for the cups themselves. The chalices on the left are made from carved coconut shells. The ones on the right are ostrich eggs.

I'm sure that coconuts and ostrich eggs were rare enough in 16th century Europe to be considered precious materials, but it's still jarring to see them mounted like jewels.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday reflections

The very modern facade of the Art Gallery of Ontario (part of a Frank Gehry redesign 10 years ago), reflecting the much less modern facades across Dundas Street.

It was gray and gloomy today and I didn't spend much time outside, just the walk from my hotel to the AGO and back again. But there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than looking at art, and the AGO collection is wonderful.

Friday, November 15, 2019


I took this picture as the plane came in for a landing this afternoon.

Friends warned me to expect snow, but I was expecting a little dusting, some slushy gutters, not a Norman Rockwell Christmas card. And downtown, where I'm staying, it is mostly slush. Still, I feel as though the calendar suddenly fast forwarded a couple of months. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

“It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.” – Richard Feynman

A beautiful look at the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters (though through the magic of modern astronomy we can see that it's actually a much larger family than the ancient observers suspected.) Fall's careening into winter here which always makes one philosophical, and appreciative of the cycles of life. The universe does something similar, but on a much grander scale. Matter comes together, it glows, it burns, it dances, it dies. Darkness, light, then back to darkness, over and over again.

Image Credit and Copyright: Adam Block, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona

Monday, November 11, 2019

Something there is that doesn't love a wall

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, here's a picture of my own small piece of it.

It's small -- only a couple of inches across and maybe an inch thick. I think I paid around $5 for it. It was several years after the wall had come down, but there were still a few sections of it left standing, and young entrepreneurs were breaking off chunks of it and selling pieces, spread out on blankets on the ground.

I picked this piece because I liked the colors -- the paint shows that this was from the western side of the wall, which was covered with art and graffiti. It may have been more expensive than the plain concrete of the eastern side, but that didn't matter; I wanted a painted piece.

I'm glad I did, because the paint still astonishes me all these years later -- those dayglow colors on a relic of such a harsh history.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

This past week was emotionally and physically draining, and I'm happy to spend a gray Sunday afternoon eating chocolate and doing puzzles.

Here's the avian equivalent of chocolate: a tufted titmouse in Central Park. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Saturday reflections

It was a few degrees below freezing when I woke up this morning and it's only slightly warmer now, so here's a welcome flashback to July, and the Japanese garden in Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

Friday, November 8, 2019

In Memoriam

Appropriately gray skies on a sad and solemn day. This giant flag suspended from fire ladders across Yonkers Avenue yesterday was in honor of John Peteani, a firefighter who worked at Ground Zero and lost his long battle with the cancer he got as a result last Sunday.

The funeral was yesterday, and the police and fire departments of Yonkers and the surrounding communities did a wonderful job honoring his service. I'm tearing up remembering the funeral procession from the church to the cemetery, and how on every overpass on the highway fire trucks were parked with the crew standing at attention, saluting as we passed beneath.

Rest in Peace, John.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

So much universe, and so little time -- Terry Pratchett

The universe, of course, has all the time it needs. It's we poor mortals, gazing on its glories from the comfort of our little rock in the balcony, who never seem to have enough. But do spare a minute or two to admire this lovely image of the Lagoon Nebula, in Sagittarius. I just want to swim in those blues.

Image Credit and Copyright: Zhuoqun Wu, Chilescope

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

Here's another flashback, from the dolphin cruise in Hilton Head: a mama osprey tending her nest.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


This is what those windows at Burrard Landing are reflecting -- the wonderful sails at Canada Place on the waterfront in Vancouver.

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