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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday reflections

It has snowed every weekend since early January, so when the sun came out this morning I went up to the park for the first time in many weeks. (Of course, it was only 14 degrees outside and probably colder inside the park, but you can't have everything -- that's why God invented the down coat.)

The lake and the Azalea Pond were frozen, and some of the paths in the Ramble were still thick with ice, but it was pristinely, serenely beautiful, and I'm sure I'll get the feeling back in my extremities eventually.

You can just see a cardinal in the center of this picture, coming down to get a drink from the stream.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Urban poetry

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

That isn't really the motto of the Postal Service, but it is inscribed in marble on the old main post office building on Eighth Avenue, and everyone thinks it is. I was actually disillusioned when I went through my first official blizzard in New York and learned that, heroic slogans notwithstanding, there usually isn't any mail delivery after a blizzard.

However, I've yet to see a calamity -- blizzard, hurricane, blackout, terrorist attack -- where it wasn't still possible to order in. Bills and catalogs aren't always available; Chinese food or pizza is.

And I find that quite comforting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

M104, also known as the Sombrero galaxy.

I think it looks more like a flying saucer than a large hat, or maybe one of those glow in the dark Frisbees -- this is what a spiral galaxy looks like from the side. You can see another, more conventionally positioned, spiral galaxy in the lower left, near the bright yellow star, and there are at least a dozen more galaxies visible in the high-res version of the photo.

I keep looking at that little galaxy in the corner, with millions and millions of its own stars and planets and nebulae and a hungry black hole or two, and wonder what kinds of life, what kinds of stories it might contain. And it's not even the focus of this picture; it's just a little blur off to one side.

I don't know why there is so much of everything, but I'm grateful for my own ridiculously tiny piece of it.

Image Data: NASA, ESO , NAOJ, Giovanni Paglioli - Processing: R. Colombari

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

In memory of warmer climes (and making up for this) here's a Nazca booby against a perfect blue sky in the Galapagos.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

26 days until spring

It snowed all afternoon. Here's a slushy Manhattan street this evening.

Saturday reflections

A jumble of reflections on a snowy morning.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Urban poetry

This is an old kind of poetic expression -- quatrains, maybe, or a villanelle: the vaulted ceiling of St. Patrick's, on Ash Wednesday.

I've always loved the ritual of getting ashes -- Remember, man, you are but dust, and unto dust you shall return. (Okay, I was a very strange child.) But for some reason, while most people end up with fairly small, vaguely cross-shaped marks, I always get a huge shapeless blob that makes me look more like a coal miner who happened to wander onto Fifth Avenue than a suitably chastened congregant observing an ancient custom.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

I'd know those red stripes anywhere.

Here's Jupiter as captured by Hubble last month, with three of its four Galilean moons visible, along with two of their shadows.

The yellow moon in the top right is Io, and the large shadow beneath it actually belongs to Callisto, which is the large brown moon in the lower left. The shadow to the right of Callisto belongs to Europa, the small white dot at the bottom.

I always find the pictures of the moons circling the gas giants so much more incredible than the planets themselves. They're ridiculously small by comparison and yet each could be its own planet in a different solar system, a different universe.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Monday, February 16, 2015

On second thought….

We may have missed the three or four feet of snow they're wading through up in New England, but that doesn't mean it isn't thoroughly wintry here. The forecast for today had been much, much warmer and I had all kinds of plans for my day off, which I will now seriously rethink. Baby, it's cold outside. (This is minus fourteen degrees, for those of you in Celsius world.)

I'm not basing my plans on just the weather report -- I have already been out. In an almost too perfect example of a first world problem, my coffee bean grinder picked this morning to quit working so it was a choice between decaffeinated tea or going outside. (Or, this being New York, calling down to the deli across the street and asking them to deliver two large coffees with milk, and throw in a toasted onion bagel while they were at it. And I considered this, believe me.)

But showing the fortitude I no doubt inherited from my Colonial ancestors, who hacked a farm out of the North Carolina wilderness in the 1700's, I pulled on my boots and went around the corner to buy a latte.

Which I am now drinking while I wait for the feeling to return to my toes.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday cow blogging

Just because this cracked me up. Who knew cows were into Lorde?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday reflections

Tricks of the winter light.

Here's the oh so proper St. Patrick's cathedral on Fifth Avenue looking a little -- gaudy. Exotic. More Eastern European than East Coast, or maybe even farther east than that. Turkish. Middle Eastern.

But look a little more closely (click to enlarge the photos) and you'll see it's just bands of light reflected from the office building across the street. The sun is still so far south even in the middle of the day that it hits the southern exposure of buildings like this full on, turning them into giant projectors and creating beautiful patterns of reflection everywhere.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Urban poetry

Fair's fair.

Women also have unpromising storefront spa options in the West 50's.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

There are always different ways of looking at something.

Here's the sun, one of the very cool gallery of images at the Solar Dynamics Observatory, part of NASA's Living with a Star program. (I personally think that's the best name ever given to a government program. Ever.)

This photo was taken in extreme ultraviolet light, making the highly decorative magnetic loops on the sun's surface visible. You can also watch this as a movie on the SDO website, which is beautiful and more than a little spooky.

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

A nice plump chipping sparrow steadfastly refusing to look in my direction.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A head full of snow

(Though I don't think I mean it in the quite the same way as Mick and the boys did.)

There were flurries all afternoon, and in the middle of my usual Saturday errands, I treated myself to a chai latte, which I drank sitting on a concrete wall on West 43rd Street. It was a tolerable 30 degrees or so, and it was lovely to drink hot tea while snow swirled gently around and dusted my clothes.

Eventually the cold concrete leached enough heat out of my ass that I couldn't stay still anymore, but it was a lovely interlude, like sitting inside a snow globe.

Saturday reflections

Early morning on Sixth Avenue, as reflected in a snow-dirty, streaky car window.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Urban poetry

The stalks of last year's flowers poke through this week's snow in an untended planter outside an office building in the West 50's.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

These two galaxies, M81 and M82, really are dancing with each other, gravity pulling them slowly, slowly together. It's a leisurely seduction, even by galactic standards -- it will be a billion years or so before they actually hook up.

Image Credit and Copyright: Ivan Eder

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

Yes, another woodpecker. Sorry, I haven't seen much else recently, and at least those clownish colors brighten up the winter browns.

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