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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

Another homely bird, a white-throated sparrow, perched on a log in the Ramble.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

More photos of Rayen


One more place I didn't quite get around to -- Rayen, an old citadel in the desert near Kerman.

Parts of it are over 1000 years old, but it was still inhabited until about 150 years ago. (There was a much larger citadel at Bam, but it was destroyed in the massive earthquake of 2003.) Some of it is obviously reconstruction, but there are alleys between old mud brick walls that are hundreds of years old.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Urban poetry

An abstraction of scaffolding around the terra-cotta lump of a dome at the bazaar in Kerman.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

Comet ISON, as seen by Hubble in 2013. When the comet was first discovered, there were reports that it might be brighter than the full moon. Sadly, the comet broke up as it approached the sun and it was never visible with the naked eye.

Sic transit gloria stellarum.

Welcome to the working week

A baker in the old town in Yazd.

Yes, his hands were moving that fast. He makes 160 loaves of bread an hour, seven hours a day. His sons have a bakery as well, in one of the big cities, but they have machines. He does everything by hand.

We got to taste some of his handiwork -- the best bread we had in Iran.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Whole-ish Foods

This shop in Yazd made me laugh, and not just because it's called Whole Foods -- because, sure, why not? -- but because the guy standing inside, with the leather messenger bag and his hand cocked on his hip, would look perfectly at home in the store of the same name in Brooklyn or Portland.

And yes, they have Cheetos.

Random things I saw in Yazd

Yarn in soft colors, waiting to be woven into carpets; shoes made from the traditional Yazdi cloth in a store window; an old wavy window in the Lariha House complex reflecting the pomegranate trees in the garden; looking up, up, up at a squinch at the mosque.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


The dome in the Jameh Mosque.

Yazd Mosque

The Jameh mosque in Yazd has the tallest portal in Iran, and some of the highest minarets.

I love the design on the underside of the balconies (click to see better) -- it's even more elaborate than the decoration in areas more likely to be noticed. I don't think anyone uses the balconies much anymore -- the call to prayer is usually a recording -- but it's appropriate that if a believer should cast his or her eyes up, every detail would be beautiful.

Collection: Doors in the old town

Iran Flashback: The Old Town in Yazd

The old town is a warren of mud brick lined alleys. Arched tunnels provide some relief from the sun, but these open arches may be buttresses. Or just decoration.

Click for a closer look.

Sunday bird blogging

A nice homely bird, in the best sense of that word -- cozy and comfortable, like home.

And an American Robin seems appropriate on this Memorial Day weekend. Which is fortunate, because robins and house sparrows were the only birds in plain sight in the park yesterday; it was the first time I've been to the park since I got back from Iran, and the trees are thick with green now, the birds only a bright glimpse in the gaps between leaves.

But they sang. Oh they sang.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

More fans

There were groups of boys running through the gardens, eating ice cream, and interrupting Goli's explanations of what we were seeing with questions about who we were and where we came from.

Later, when we had time to wander around on our own, it was mostly spent talking to the boys, taking pictures -- and posing for a few.

A few more pictures of the Governor's house


The dome inside Dowlat-Abad, the former Governor's House, in Yazd, which was apparently designed with a Spirograph.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Street photography

Caught you looking.

An unguarded moment at the bazaar in Kerman.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yellow roofs

Unrelated to the Shazdeh Gardens, but taken the same day, as we drove through the desert. Just because I like this picture.

Shazdeh Gardens, continued

One of the vendors outside the garden, with his daughter.

They're Baluchi, or Balochi -- a semi-nomadic people who live in southeastern Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Shazdeh Gardens, continued

It doesn't get more mundane than this -- just outside the entrance to the gardens, vendors sell dates and nuts and -- Cheetos. Lots and lots of Cheetos.

Iran Flashback: Down in the Shazdeh Gardens

(Finally filling in a few of the gaps.)

This garden, which we visited while in Kerman, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the epitome of a desert oasis: flowers, fountains, cushions to sit on, and excellent meals under the trees.

This is the view from outside the garden -- typical Iranian dusty desert.

But behind the mosaic walls, water cascades down the tiers of a double staircase punctuated by fountains, surrounded by trees and snow-capped mountains. It's truly magical, as though the gates were some kind of portal to another world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

Gaudier than the gaudiest palace a shah could dream up -- the globular cluster M13, as seen by Hubble.

This is one of approximately 150 globular clusters hanging out in the vicinity of our Milky Way galaxy. It was officially discovered by Halley in 1714 (and of course, as the name indicates, catalogued by Monsieur Messier fifty years later) but since it is visible -- just barely -- with the naked eye, I'm not sure you can really take credit for discovering it.

The stars in globulars tend to be older than those in the galaxies they orbit, but what's wonderful about this image is that it's multigenerational -- you can see the very old reddish stars right next to the bright blue babies.

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Welcome to the working week

A bricklayer in the old town in Yazd, smiling obligingly for my camera and looking much more cheerful than I would if I had to wear those heavy rubber gloves in that heat.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

I didn't have the right lenses to photograph birds in Iran, but here's a not very close shot of a common myna, in the Niavaran complex in Tehran.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday reflections

A jewelry store in the Armenian quarter in Isfahan, with the proprietor peering through the glass.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

This looks like the tangle of colored threads at the bottom of a sewing basket, but it's the remnants of a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small companion galaxy to our Milky Way. Eventually the gases and particles that shine so brilliantly here will be recycled into new stars, maybe new planets.

Now that I have finished all the draft postings from my trip to Iran, I need to finish going through pictures and write about some of the things I skipped. But for now, I want to just take a deep breath, be home, be grateful to be here.

Image Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

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