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

Friday, November 30, 2018

Headlights, as promised

I love the way these two came out in black and white.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Urban poetry

Leaves, actual and reflected, in a car windshield around the corner from my apartment.

I went weeks without taking pictures with an actual camera when I came back to New York in September, and then when I was finally well enough to be glad of the distraction photography provided, I still wasn't well enough to venture very far from home.

So I took many pictures of cars and windshields and headlights and taillights on the streets of Hell's Kitchen. I used to be obsessed with headlights and taillights, and I'd forgotten how much fun they can be. Anyway, I think so -- I'm not sure anyone else has ever enjoyed them as much as I do, but I'll post some of the new pictures in the next few days and you can decide for yourselves.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Astronomy Tuesday

The Red Spider nebula is located 3000 light years away in Sagittarius. It's a planetary nebula, meaning all of that gaseous beauty is the product of the stellar winds from one extremely hot star.

Image credit: ESA/Garrelt Mellema (Leiden University, the Netherlands)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday bird blogging

Well, this is an improvement: a titmouse with some detail and a better background, taken with my Canon and a telephoto lens on Friday.

I won't be in any rush to drag that lens back to Central Park any time soon -- I spent most of yesterday recuperating -- but it was so beautiful in the park, crisp and cold and full of sparrows and squirrels rooting through huge piles of fallen leaves, that I think I felt really myself, really home, for the first time since I left for Africa in August.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The missing season

I feel as though I missed autumn this year. It's always the best season in New York -- fall colors, new movies and cultural events, and weather that makes walking anywhere a pleasure.

But maybe it wasn't just that I spent most of the past couple of months too sick to walk very far, much less get any pleasure out of it. I don't think we actually got much of an autumn this year. It was hot and humid until, abruptly, it wasn't, and the unseasonable blizzard killed all the leaves before they had a chance to turn.

The picture on the left is the Azalea Pond in Central Park a little more than three weeks ago, at the end of October. I took the picture on the right yesterday.

Saturday reflections

One last picture from the parade: an elf reflected in the glass of an office building on Sixth Avenue.

Friday, November 23, 2018

At least it's not Godzilla

Two snowmen (one of them for some reason in a spacesuit) make an appearance through the towers of Sixth Avenue.

More balloons

The only one of these I recognize is the Grinch; I think the others are characters in some holiday cartoon I haven't seen.

But if I were a child I think that enormous grumpy cat-elf would scare the bejeezus out of me.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's a giant elf somersaulting down Sixth Avenue this morning, part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I've occasionally seen some of the balloons from a distance but I'd never actually gone to the parade before. I'm not crazy about parades for one thing, or crowds, and after standing in the rain for four hours in Ath, Belgium, watching their annual Giants Parade a few months ago, I would have said I've had enough of parades for the rest of this century.

But I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, even if things haven't exactly gone the way I'd planned, that I decided I should maybe go to the parade once, just so I could say I had. And because I could!

I didn't stay long; it was 20 degrees and despite wearing a layer of my Antarctica fleece under my down coat, I couldn't stand in one place for very long. And it was very crowded, and the balloons, seen up close rather than on television, are a little creepy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Astronomy Tuesday

These sand dunes on Mars were photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The mound in Juventae Chasma on the left-hand side of the picture is a mile tall.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Monday, November 19, 2018


The day after the surprise storm last week: flowers in the snow and fallen trees everywhere.

We ended up getting eight inches, breaking a 130 year-old record for November snowfalls. There's a reason trees usually shed their leaves before winter starts; otherwise they hold too much heavy snow and their branches break.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday bird blogging

Here's a robin, another easy bird to find and photograph even on shaky legs with a point and shoot camera.

He may be common but he is certainly beautiful.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday reflections

Earlier that same rainy evening, while waiting for the uptown bus.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Urban poetry

All of my doctors are on the East Side, and I live on the West Side, so I've been spending a lot of time on crosstown buses. I miss being able to walk more, but I love taking the bus in New York. It's much slower than the subway, but if you have the luxury of time, it's more entertaining than most TV shows, watching the daily lives in this ever-changing city slide past your window.

And I see neighborhoods I haven't frequented in years. These stairs are on First Avenue, across the street from the United Nations, and there's a small park at the top where I used to occasionally eat lunch when I worked on 42nd Street. That's a quote from Isaiah on the wall:
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Speaking of wintry weather...

The view from my living room this afternoon as the first snowstorm of the season barreled through.

It's only November 15th!


Bins of embroidery floss in one of the few remaining fabric and notion stores in the Garment District. It's been unremittingly gray in New York this week, and though we're weeks away from the solstice and the official start of winter, the high temperatures haven't been much above the freezing mark.

I'd planned to take up felting again when the weather got cold, but that takes more physical strength than I have at the moment -- you really have to knead and pound and slap the wet wool around to get it to turn into felt. So I've been doing embroidery instead, appropriate for the sickly Victorian heroine I sometimes feel like, and the perfect occupation with tea and shortbread on a wintry afternoon.

I could buy supplies online of course, but I love wandering the aisles of these stores and getting a dose of sparkle and color to brighten these gloomy days. And it feels like an achievement that I am actually able to walk all the way to West 38th Street, even if I have to stop and rest and have a hot chocolate before I'm up to tackling the walk back. A couple weeks ago I would have taken a cab.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Astronomy Tuesday

For everyone in my home state, here is the California nebula, located in the Orion arm of the Milky Way, not far (at least from our point of view) from the Pleiades.

I'm supposed to be in the Bay Area now, but had to reschedule my visit for January, when I will presumably be fit to travel again. My friends reassured me it's for the best, as the air is full of smoke from the Chico fire  and my beleaguered body probably wouldn't like it. 

My heart does ache for those affected by the fires though -- I can't imagine the horror of being stuck in a car as the fire closed in -- or rather, I can imagine it all too well.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday bird blogging

I was well enough to go to Central Park last week, but not strong enough to tote my good camera there.

Still, this tufted titmouse was photogenic enough to come out all right with the point and shoot. And they always make me smile.


This plaque is just off the Grand Place in Mons. It reads:
Mons was recaptured by the Canadian Corps on 11th November 1918: After fifty months of German occupation, freedom was restored to the city: Here was fired the last shot of the Great War.
One hundred years ago this morning.

Inside the belfry

The clockworks and the bells. 

In The Nine Tailors, one of Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, a man is murdered by being locked up in a church tower while the bells are being rung -- the noise kills him.

I was glad these bells were silent.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Les toits de Mons

Views from the belfry in Mons. The tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was built in the 17th century and is only 87 meters tall, but  when these are the views you don't have to be that high up.

More Grand Place

That's the City Hall on the left. The jumbled wood canopy on the right is an art installation.

Another Grand Place

This is in Mons, a charming town southwest of Brussels where I spent the night with a friend before going to Ghent.

Saturday reflections

Waiting for the bus on 42nd Street, on my way to get yet another CAT scan.

This is maybe the fourth or fifth scan in the past two months. Between the scans and the x-rays and the radioactive isotope injections, if you plugged me in, I would probably light the Eastern Seaboard.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Urban poetry

And we're back in Belgium.

This particular restaurant was in Mons, but I saw them in Ghent as well. Alas, I did not get a chance to sample their offerings, but the name made me laugh out loud. It's the perfect example of globalization: a restaurant chain with an Irish-sounding name selling what it claims is the original French version of a Mexican dish.

Update: And, I neglected to add, with a slogan Original French Tacos that's in English.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Astronomy Tuesday

PGC 42871 doesn't look like your typical galaxy. Those ghostly shells contain globular clusters of stars whose varying ages suggest that there have been multiple collisions with other galaxies in this one's past.

I love the way this strange galaxy looks like a giant silk organza flower, but as always what I like most in this Hubble image is the background, all those other tiny nebulae and galaxies and smudges of light. I know they're impossibly huge and impossibly cold and impossibly far away, but when I see these deep space images I always feel as though I've caught the universe dancing.

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA; Processing and Copyright: Domingo Pestana

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunday bird blogging

Mourning doves don't move that quickly and even a less than agile photographer can manage to capture them on camera.

Still using the point and shoot, which doesn't get the best quality for birds, but each picture still feels like an accomplishment.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday reflections

Another picture after the rain last weekend -- buildings on 44th Street reflected in a car window.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Urban poetry

Brussels, away from the touristy Centre Ville.

The poster on the old church reads Life escapes us, but art gives it back.

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