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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Welcome to the working week

Here's another sunrise.

I took this from the hotel I stayed in last week, where the rooms were compact, but there were views of the river and I saw tugs and ferries and cruise ships sailing by.

This, unfortunately, is the view from the hotel I'm in now. At least I'm not spending a lot of time looking out the window.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

A house sparrow, rolling her eyes at the tourists on Broadway this morning.

I have better pictures of birds, but I picked this one because house sparrows made me smile this afternoon when I was sitting at a cafe in Rockefeller Center, in a dangerous mood after a visit to a war zone my apartment.

Okay, there was also a significant amount of chocolate involved in my recovery. But the house sparrows were so charming, hopping under the tables and peeking down from the umbrellas, that I shared the last of my eclair with them, and it was a very good eclair.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday reflections

A different kind of skyline altogether -- sunrise reflected on the towers of Manhattan, taken earlier this week.

My apartment is still uninhabitable, and yesterday I moved into the fourth hotel I've stayed in since coming back from Iceland. I've also been sick for most of this time, so even though I try to kid myself  about First World Problems -- Oh boo hoo I'm living in hotels because my renovation's taking too loooong! -- it's so dispiriting I can't even write about it. Maybe tomorrow.

Last look

Here's a last look at the curvy spires of Reykjavik.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

More urban poetry

Yesterday the chairs, today the tables. A Sunday evening after the rain, in Reykjavik.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Urban poetry

Cafe chairs stacked outside a restaurant in Reykjavik.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

Another of our neighbors in the so-called Local Group, M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy.

Image credit and copyright: Giovanni Benintende

Random things I saw in Reykjavik

Reykjavik street art

Viking ship

This stunning sculpture, by Jón Gunnar Árnason, is called Sun Voyager (Solfar.) It's on the esplanade along Reykjavik harbor, one of many public art pieces there.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Also, that hair just slays me


On our way back to Reykjavik on the last day of the tour, Gunnar asked if we'd like to stop and see some horses.

Since everything we had seen that day was cold and very very wet, and the horses were dry and inside, the response was very enthusiastic.

Icelandic horses are a very pure breed, descended from the horses brought by the early settlers a thousand years ago. They're small -- not much bigger than ponies -- but extremely strong. So although they can easily carry an adult man, human legs dangling off those little bodies can be very comical.

We saw a short film and then got to wander through the stables making friends with the inhabitants. They're gentle and curious, snuffling sweet horsey breath at our outstretched hands and allowing themselves to be petted and gushed over with calm dignity.

Sunday, October 23, 2016



Or waterfalls. There are many, many waterfalls in this very small country, and even when it wasn't pouring rain, they provided ample opportunity to get thoroughly wet.

This is Gullfoss, a spectacular double waterfall, not far from Reykjavik.

Sunday bird blogging

A gannet, taken from a distance on a whale watching cruise I took my first day in Reykjavik. It was more like a wave watching cruise, as there were no whales to be seen so late in the season, but we did see a lot of dolphins, and they were leaping and frolicking in a most satisfying, if unphotographable, manner. (You just couldn't tell where they'd appear. Out of at least fifty shots, I got one picture of two very blurry fins.)

But the guide did start to sound a little desperate about two hours into the three hour cruise, when the dolphins had yet to show up and she was trying to sound as though we ought to be excited about all the gannets and skuas we were seeing. Which I was, of course, but I was clearly in the minority.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Harpa II

The back of the Harpa building, jutting over the more traditional views of Reykjavik harbor.

Saturday reflections

This is Harpa, the concert hall in Reykjavik. Those honeycomb windows are somehow set so that one of them will capture reflections from the street below, while the windows next to it don't, so it looks like a few of the windows are broadcasting videos of traffic, people walking, city life.

Friday, October 21, 2016


There was one geyser that erupted every five minutes or so, and I stood there with camera ready through a couple of cycles before I realized that there actually wasn't much point in trying to take pictures of them.

There was so much steam my lens fogged up immediately and even with manual focus there wasn't much there to see, or photograph, besides a very large white blur.

This picture, taken from a distance, is one of the better ones.

More Geysir

Wednesday, October 19, 2016



The upside of being a volcanically active country is that you can get 100% of your energy from the earth. Geothermal energy provides all of the heat and electricity for Iceland, and although the hot water frequently has a distinct smell of sulfur, you can linger in a hot shower until your fingers and toes prune up without feeling guilty about it. Which is fortunate, because I found that I needed some very long hot showers to warm up after the long drizzly days.

This is Geysir, source of one of the few words that has made its way into English from Icelandic. There are, unsurprisingly, many geysers there, along with streams and pools of boiling hot water that create a permanent layer of steam wisping over the landscape.

Parking lot poetry

This little washstand -- a couple of sinks and a mirror -- was in the parking lot of a gas station not far from Reynisfjara. In the summer the idea of washing up outside is probably a lot more attractive.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

One more look at the aurora in Iceland.

Taking these pictures was a fun group project -- there were eleven of us on this trip, with at least a dozen cameras and five tripods, and we turned the back room of the restaurant into an outpost of the local high school AV club while we configured and set up.

“Don't forget to turn down the LED brightness.”

“Please someone remind me tomorrow that I jacked up my ISO.”

I do intend to try astrophotography again, but it will definitely be somewhere warmer next time.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

One more

Still more views from Thingvellir

These pictures are a little dark but still worth sharing.

More scenes from Thingvellir

Random things about Iceland

There's a ring road that encircles the country. It takes 24 hours to drive the complete circuit.

The only native tree is the birch, which grows very slowly and doesn't become very tall. They have a joke that if you're lost in an Icelandic forest and need to figure out where you are, stand up.

The name of the country in Icelandic is Island.

I got back to New York Thursday night, but I'm camped out in hotels for another week while my bathroom is being renovated. It's an odd limbo -- home but not home -- but at least I might actually get through my unsorted pictures by the time I can move back into my apartment.

Ice soup

Shards of ice broken against the rocky shoreline.

More icebergs

Icebergs up close

Some of them were the size of schoolbuses, and despite the best efforts of the zodiac riders, a few times they did hit the boat, with an unnerving thunk that conjured up images of Kate Winslet lying on a plank of wood in a freezing sea.


As described below, it was gray and drizzly the day we went to the Glacier Lagoon -- perfect weather for hopping in a small amphibious vessel and sailing among the icebergs. It was fun, though, and not quite as cold as I had expected. We saw seals and seabirds and many many large pieces of ice, some small enough to dazzle crystal clear but most the usual unearthly blue with black streaks of volcanic ash. The guide on the boat passed around a large lump of ice and then broke it into chunks so we could taste it. (My sample went back into the lagoon -- it wasn't the kind of weather that made frozen snacks appealing. In Alaska, they make margaritas out of the glacier ice -- just a suggestion, Iceland.)

On the other hand, these gentlemen were definitely even colder and wetter than the rest of us. When the tour boats go out into the lagoon, they're accompanied by a couple of zodiac cowboys who herd the icebergs out of the way and clear a path for the boat.

Definitely on the list of Jobs I Could Never Do.

Sunday bird blogging

I don't know what kind of bird this is -- it was big, but I couldn't get a good look, as I was bouncing around in a boat when I took this picture.

This is one of the few ice-free open spaces in Jokulsarlon.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

So I'm packing my bags for the Misty Mountains

Foggy crags (and a preview of glaciers to come) on the road to Jokulsarlon, the glacier lagoon.

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