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

Monday, July 31, 2017

Welcome to the working week

Here's a trifecta of faces from Times Square to start off the week: a dancer, a security guard, and a pretzel vendor.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

It turns out I got a decent picture of a jungle babbler after all. When I looked through India pictures last weekend, I found this one, which was named only with a q, my shorthand when I don't remember the name of a bird or a place and will have to look it up.

Love the fuzz!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday reflections

Here's something a little different: reflections in the windows of a hotel on Rush Street in Chicago, solarized into something even more abstract.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Urban poetry

The lettering is faded so you may not be able to read the sign, but this is The Tri-Store Bridge, in Providence.

This bridge linked three long-gone department stores -- Cherry & Webb, Gladdings and Shepard -- in what was once the retail center of downtown Providence. The Google tells me that the bridge was built in the late nineteenth century, so it would have been handy for the ladies in their long dresses to move from store to store without having to go out in the rain or snow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

This magnificent emission nebula has the unromantic name of IC 1396, but that dark structure just below the center does have the more whimsical, and descriptive, name of the Elephant's Trunk Nebula.

Image Credit and Copyright: César Blanco González

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

“Oh, just hanging out watching the kids -- what are you up to?”

The tropical weather makes makes me feel like I'm back in India, so here's a pair of teenage storks babysitting in Keoladeo National Park.

Those backward knee joints just look so uncomfortable to me, but I have to admit they're much more practical for sitting on the ground than ours.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday reflections

From the archives:

This was taken in Portland, a few years ago, and for some reason never processed. I love the red truck.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Urban poetry

This “public parklet” is a small covered pavilion on one of the main streets in Newport. No one was actually sitting there though -- maybe it just looked too perfect to use -- despite shady seating and the Newport Creamery nearby. This would be a perfect place to sit and enjoy your ice cream.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Sometimes I think the universe is like an enormous Christmas tree, minus the tree: globes and stars and twinkling lights in every color we can imagine (and many that our eyes can't even see.)

Omega Centauri is the largest of the approximately 200 known globular clusters that hover around the halo of our Milky Way. It may actually be the remnants of a small galaxy that merged with ours.

Image Credit and Copyright: Mike O'Day

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

My pictures of goldfinches are never that great, but that bright yellow feels appropriate for the thick of summer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Providential architecture

Some of the very cool buildings, mostly around the Brown campus (those are the main gates in the first picture.)

Saturday reflections

It was blazing hot the day we walked around Providence, and most of the interesting sites are at the top of very steep hills, so air-conditioned art galleries were a welcome break.

Here's some of the art reflected in the very glossy floors at the Providence Art Club.

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Baptist

I've seen many churches called the First Baptist, but this one in Providence is the first First Baptist, founded by Roger Williams in 1638.

They didn't get around to building an actual church until 1775, and the result is the largest surviving wooden structure from Colonial America, according to the blurb on my tourist map.

The prominent spire is modeled after the one on St Martin in the Fields in London.

I've been queuing up Providence photos to post over the next week or two. It was probably my last weekend off until I go away on vacation next month, and I want to savor it as long as I can.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Urban poetry

One of the quaint Colonial communication devices in Newport.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's two for the price of one -- a composite of pictures from two different telescopes, showing Messier 20, the Trifid Nebula, in the center of the image, and Messier 21, the star cluster in the upper left.

Image Credit and Copyright: Martin Pugh

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Random things I saw in Newport

The International Tennis Hall of Fame, which occupies a large chunk of downtown Newport, and a book in a shop window that made us laugh.

If you can't read the title, it's How to Split Wood, Shuck an Oyster, and Master Other Simple Pleasures. Somehow I doubt that anyone in the market for those crystal candleholders next to it is really interested in learning how to split wood.

Newport Tower, close up

Enigmatic, maybe not. But it is an odd thing to see among all the colonial buildings.

Touro Park

This beautiful cherry tree isn't the main draw in this Newport park. It was also the site of a now-demolished mansion built by Benedict Arnold, the first colonial governor of Rhode Island, and great-grandfather of the traitorous general.

The stone structure in the lower right corner of this picture is the Newport Tower, the remains of the windmill built in the mid-seventeenth century. Or so the scientists with all their fancy carbon dating claim; there are numerous theories about Vikings, Chinese sailors, and the Knights Templar actually being the builders. A small museum across the street calls it "the most enigmatic and puzzling single building in the United States."

Sunday bird blogging

The birds of Providence are basically the same as New York -- robins, house sparrows, starlings -- and I didn't take any pictures worth sharing. So here's a cardinal in Central Park.

Because you can always look at another cardinal, am I right?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

More Salve Regina University

Salve Regina

If we hadn't skipped the Breakers, we might have just gotten back on the trolley afterwards and headed back downtown, and would have missed one of my favorite things in Newport: Salve Regina University, a private Catholic college built on seven former Gilded Age estates, just down the road from the Breakers.

I had fantasies of enrolling in one of their graduate programs -- I didn't care which one -- just so I could spend a couple of years living on that campus.

The Breakers

The most famous of the Newport mansions was built by the Vanderbilts in the 1890's, and has 70 rooms.

When we saw the back of the house from the Cliff Walk, I have to admit that $24.50 no longer seemed like such an outrageous price to pay for the privilege of paying a visit. I still wasn't interested in the interior, but I very much wanted to sit under one of the big shade trees on the velvety lawn and stare out at the ocean for awhile.

Then we walked around to the front and saw the long, long line waiting to get in, and I realized that I had much better things to spend $24.50 on after all.

Saturday reflections

An art exhibit on the Brown campus in Providence.

Friday, July 7, 2017

One of the mansions

Views from the Cliff Walk

Cliff Walk

So, despite a rocky beginning, we did get to spend a day in Newport. I knew about the yachts and the famous Gilded Age mansions, but I didn't realize that it's also just a very charming New England town, full of old houses and little parks. There's a trolley, $6 for an all-day pass, that is blessedly air-conditioned, so you can actually see a lot in one day.

We decided to skip the mansions -- it was too gorgeous a day to spend inside looking at furniture. This is the Cliff Walk, which is described as a hiking trail, but is more like a crowded sidewalk with above-average views. (Okay, spectacular views.) You pass several of the famous mansions along the way, so you can admire the architecture and manicured lawns the size of football fields, but still enjoy the sea breezes.

Adventures, continued

And then maybe things happen for a reason. The best part of the ride to Newport was getting to know our fellow travelers.

    You live by Gramercy Park? I live two blocks from you!

    You grew up in San Francisco and moved to New York to work in publishing? Me too!

    You're from Illinois? I was born in Chicago!

    You're going to Africa? I used to live there!

These are our new friends Mary and Kent Jones, on the ferry back to Providence. Not only did Kent use the GPS on his phone to guide both the fill-in shuttle driver and the guy who drove us to Newport, when we got off the ferry and found that, big surprise, there was no shuttle waiting for us, he called an Uber.

Adventures always look better in the rear view mirror

Astute readers will have noticed that there aren't any pictures taken on the morning ferry ride from Providence to Newport. That's because there wasn't one -- or rather, there was a ferry, and it left for Newport as scheduled at 9:30 am. We just weren't on it.

There's a free shuttle that runs from several locations in downtown Providence to the ferry, and we were at the convention center stop early. Where we waited. And waited. We called the ferry company, but the customer service desk was closed for the holiday. Jayne was on hold with the main ferry office when a beat-up Providence city bus with a Not in Service sign pulled up and the driver announced that this was the super-duper emergency backup holiday shuttle. Hurray!

The only problem was that she'd never driven the route before, and she wasn't exactly sure where she was supposed to drop us off. And we had five minutes to get there. And so though we were later told that they had held the ferry as long as they could, we ran down the ramp to the landing just as it pulled away.

The next ferry wasn't for three hours, and since the ferry landing consists of a parking lot, a trailer and a Pepsi machine in basically the middle of nowhere, hanging out for three hours wasn't an attractive option. Especially since the 12:30 ferry was completely booked and there was no guarantee they'd even let us on it.

That's when one of the women selling tickets, now and forever to be known as Saint Lori of Providence, came to the rescue. She arranged for a van to pick the seven of us up and drive us to Newport, where we arrived at Perrotti Park only a couple of minutes after our ferry did.

Needless to say, those of us on the 5 o'clock ferry returning to Providence were in line by 4:30.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

More pictures from the ferry

I took a ridiculous number of pictures for a weekend trip, and my first day back at work had me crawling into bed with a book shortly after dinner, so posting will be slow.

I know that these three pictures look like they were taken on three different days -- the sky's a different color in every picture -- but I spent most of my time on the ferry cleaning the salt spray from myself and my camera, and didn't pay enough attention to what I was doing.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!

We got back late last night after what turned out to be a really fun weekend.

Here's a Providence-style tribute to the holiday: a flag dangling from a crane on the wharf, taken from the ferry coming back from Newport Sunday night.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Greetings from Providence

No birds today. I'm spending the holiday weekend in Providence with my friend Jayne. Though I've passed through here several times, I've never actually stayed. But it's charming.

More pictures will follow.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Saturday reflections

This is simple but spectacular: the clouds of a summer afternoon reflected in a Midtown facade.

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