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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rain music

We strive for perfection, but mistakes are often more fun. I was trying to take pictures of the rain drops on tree branches; the gloomy light required long exposures and I accidentally jostled the camera in the middle of one shot.

There were a few others that came out the way I wanted, correct but ordinary, and it was the mistake that I ended up keeping: triple exposed ghost branches with little white squiggles that for some reason remind me of notes and notations strung along three line musical staffs, like a song only the rain knows how to play.

Sunday bird blogging

A fierce pigeon stands sentry in New York.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Back to a favorite photographic subject, the modernist angles of Rockefeller Center in New York.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Urban poetry

Peeling paint in the colors of the season. (Click to enlarge to see the color and texture in more detail.)

Past the solstice, the sun is starting its long slog back north, and each day the darkness creeps in a few minutes later. It makes the calendar year feel even more artificial; here I sit in the Northern Hemisphere thinking the usual late December thoughts about the waning of the year and how quickly it passed, how much it contained, and the planets have already pivoted into a new cycle, dragging us along into their own new year whether we're ready or not.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

To all the Santas out there, thank you and ho ho ho.

Monday, December 24, 2012

More shiny objects

This time in black and white -- a few of my favorite headlight shots.

Shiny objects

Here are some of this year's series of taillight pictures. I still find taillights -- and headlights too -- endlessly fascinating as photography subjects, both in extreme closeup so all you see is a red abstract, and zoomed out a little, reflecting the city around them.

And as red shiny objects, they are perfect for Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday bird blogging

This picture was actually taken during the summer, but the browns seem more appropriate for the first official weekend of winter. A mourning dove, almost invisible on a bed of old twigs and dead leaves, pausing in the middle of preening.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday reflections

The last of the London pictures, I think -- one last set of spectacular office windows in the City.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Urban poetry

Peeling paint and red leaves.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I didn't notice it when I first took the picture -- this is a building near the Borough Market in London -- but after I'd cropped and tweaked, it had somehow found its way into the center of the shot: a single rose sitting in a water glass.

Someone put a flower in this dingy window to brighten up the desk or storeroom or work table behind it, and that gesture gives me a little hope for the human race in a week in which despair is all too easy. Sometimes even a small sign of grace can have an enormous impact.

Go and make something, anything, a little better today.

Sunday bird blogging

A gull caught mid-stride.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A saturation of Santas

I'm pretty sure there isn't an official collective noun for a group of Santa Clauses, but the city was overrun with them today, hundreds on Tenth Avenue alone.

After yesterday's grief and horror it was wonderful to step outside and find myself surrounded by whimsy, with what appeared to be normal adults going about their usual weekend routines -- brunching, shopping, checking messages -- wearing unflattering red tunics and lots of fake fur.

Saturday reflections

And geometries. Eight windows in London.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Urban poetry

The curved lines of a railing in London.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cat's eye

I'm cat-sitting for a neighbor for a few weeks, and find it hard to believe that such beautiful eyes could belong to such a mischievous feline.

Sunday bird blogging

As one gray day follows another in the waning of the year, here's a flashback to brighter, more tropical days -- a pied kingfisher by the Chobe River in Botswana.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday reflections

An office building on Southwark Street in London. You can see the staircases inside, diagonal lines and sharp angles, through the curvy reflections of the brick walls and windows across the street.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Urban poetry

Stacked tires outside a body shop. I love the patterns on the treads; they look like alphabets in a language I've never learned.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday bird blogging

A blackbird at Tivoli. I love the different shades of brown on her breast.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday reflections

I'm not sure what this building is -- it's on the north bank of the Thames -- but I love the silvery reflections of the moody London sky.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Urban poetry

The handrails by the stairs on a double-decker bus in London. The yellow reminds me of the pipes in the Richard Rogers building.

I was tempted to Photoshop out the piece that's bolted to the wall, to make the photo more abstract. But it looks like a little face, maybe an elephant, and it adds a nice, cheeky, very London, touch.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

One last look at London old and new

Gracechurch Street

I walked back to the hotel via Gracechurch Street. It was a little out of the way, but -- this is a little embarrassing -- I'd never walked down it before.

Since I can recite entire pages of Pride and Prejudice by heart, and Gracechurch Street is the home of the infamous "uncle in Cheapside" who had made his fortune in trade, and therefore, according to Mr. Darcy, doomed the Bennet girls from marrying men of any consideration in the world, I don't know why curiosity never brought me there before. I've made many literary pilgrimages in London; I've been to Keats's house  and Dickens's house and Samuel Johnson's house and Thomas Carlyle's house. I've sought out the house where the Stephen children first lived when they fled to Bloomsbury, and where Leonard and Virginia Woolf lived when they came back from Richmond. I saw where Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes lived when they were still married and where she lived, and died, alone. Not to mention houses inhabited by George Eliot, Jonathan Swift, Henry James and Elizabeth Gaskell, all on one street in Chelsea.

But I never looked for fictional addresses (okay, with the exception of 221B Baker Street); I wanted to see where actual writers lived. But I couldn't have been more excited to see Gracechurch Street this afternoon if Jane Austen's ghost had been providing the commentary.

There's not much left that Uncle and Aunt Gardiner would recognize, apart from a pub and a couple of buildings around Leadenhall Market, but I whispered a hello to them anyway.

Dirty old river

That's what Ray Davies calls it in Waterloo Sunset, but the Thames doesn't look dirty to me (here it's lapping against steps on the north side of London Bridge).

It looks more like strong tea with a little milk, which seems quite appropriate.

St Paul's

The famous dome, reflected in a building on the Southwark side of London Bridge.

Borough Market

The market is closed on Sundays, although there were some random stalls open for business (and oh, did hot mulled wine sound extremely tempting!)

But I enjoyed walking through the market without the huge crowds. It seemed a little forlorn; you would never believe that thousands of people were elbowing their way through only twenty-four hours earlier.

The two towers

Here's another view of the Shard, asserting itself behind Southwark Cathedral.

And across the river, the Gherkin, definitely not my favorite Norman Foster building but one I do find myself liking more and more, framed by some of its older neighbors and even newer construction.

And now for something completely different

In the midst of all the ancient stone around Southwark Cathedral, these chairs were an unexpected burst of color against the green wall.

And I enjoyed the sign. If the scaffolding was alarmed, you can imagine how I felt!

More old and new

I'm heading to Heathrow late this afternoon for a very early flight back to New York in the morning, so I had a few hours to walk around and take some pictures, and I was glad to see the sun was back. It was very windy however, and I'd lost my scarf somewhere along the way, so the trek across London Bridge took my breath away, and not just in the good way. 

Here's an old window in a broken wall nicely framing modern glass.

Sunday bird blogging

I have not seen many birds in London, though there were some very impressive pigeons flying around inside Victoria Station yesterday.

Here's one of their relatives exploring the moat by the old Roman wall Friday. Otherwise, I got nothin'.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Rainy night in Trafalgar Square

A double decker bus in the rain, on my way back to the hotel tonight.


This handsome gentleman is my uncle Bert, who came up from Southend for our family reunion today.

There were cousins, and children of cousins, and we hadn't seen each other in too many years, and it was great, great fun.

And I only cried once.

Two facades

The old and the new Liverpool Street Station -- an old brick facade viewed through modern glass.

Not your average bus stop

The ceiling at Liverpool Street Station, where I was catching a bus to Victoria to meet my cousins.

You can't get much more Victorian than these vaults and columns, but there's enough craziness in the curves and angles to remind you that the infamous Bedlam hospital once stood on this site.

For unless they see the sky but they can't and that is why

I've always loved that song in spite of the unwieldy lyrics -- you would swear that English is not Bernie Taupin's first language.

Here's where the London version of Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters might hang out. Although you can actually see a bit of sky here, in London that's going to just give you gray most of the time.

Barclays bikes

A row of bicycles in the City, by London Wall.

There's something about rows of bicycles that just seem so photographable, as though they're begging "Take our picture!"

And I always do.

Night views

The older London, as seen from my hotel room last night.

Saturday reflections

A closeup of the Richard Rogers building at 88 Wood Street.

I know it drives Prince Charles to distraction, but I love the new architecture in the City of London -- well, most of it. (I have not yet learned to appreciate the Gherkin.)

Lower Manhattan has some of the same mixture of towering office buildings set among small, hundreds of years old stone and brick structures, but there's very little that snags my eye there the way the cheeky buildings in the City do.

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