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

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

Here's an unexpected bird picture from Grand Teton National Park.

This redwing blackbird is probably just looking for something to eat, but I love the way he appears to be studying, and admiring, his reflection.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday reflections

Mountains and trees reflected into abstraction by a lake in Grand Teton National Park (flipped for effect.)

Friday, May 29, 2020

More mountains

Sometimes the world actually does resemble a picture postcard.

Flashback: Grand Teton National Park

Next up on the list of old travel photos I'm cleaning up and clearing out is another trip from four years ago: my long weekend in Jackson Hole.

I remember being sorry that I never got a closeup shot of any of the bison, but I love this picture anyway -- three of them just munching on the dandelions in one of the most spectacular settings I'd ever seen.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

Some of my fellow New Yorkers who were outside enjoying the spring sunshine yesterday.

It was pleasantly warm, but it was also the first really humid day we've had, and wearing a mask was like having a wet diaper pinned to my head. But we do what we need to do.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Opening up

Here's West 42nd Street this afternoon -- much emptier than it would have been on a weekday in the Before times, but it's a big improvement over the zombie apocalypse emptiness of mid-April. There are cars. And a bicycle. And people.

Most of the state is in the process of allowing some businesses to re-open, but New York City is still the national epicenter and remains in lockdown.

Even so, more and more of us are starting to emerge from our dens, timidly stepping into the light, squinting as our eyes adjust,  sniffing the air like wild animals checking for predators. I walked to the post office to mail my absentee ballot application and mostly enjoyed the excursion, though I still strip off my clothes and take a shower the minute I get home.

It will be a long time before I can touch something that's been handled by strangers and not feel the need for a complete decontamination.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Finally I see something recognizable in a nebula -- a genie, right? Or possibly a samurai?

Nope. This gorgeous pillar of gas, several light years tall, in the Carina nebula is known as Mystic Mountain. You might as well call it Running Chicken Nebula 2.

Image Credit: Hubble, NASA, ESA; Processing and License: Judy Schmidt

Monday, May 25, 2020

Monday flashback: Frankfurt

A few last pictures -- really, these are the last ones -- from the Römer district in Frankfurt.

I have always been a little ditzy -- this would not surprise anyone who ever met my mother and believed in either nature or nurture -- but I think it's getting out of control during this lockdown. I keep losing things. I keep forgetting things. I have trouble focusing.

I misplaced an avocado a few weeks ago, much to the amusement of the friends who followed my three day search via text. (Yes, we are all that desperate to be amused.)

But an avocado is small -- and it turns out, practically invisible if for some reason you drop a t-shirt on top of it. Last week I lost a fitted sheet from my bed. I realized when I was doing laundry that I had a top sheet, and pillowcases, but the bottom sheet wasn't in the bag. Okay, obviously I'd left it upstairs in my apartment.

Except that it wasn't there. I looked in every likely -- the floor of the closet where I keep the laundry bag -- and unlikely -- had I somehow kicked it under the bed? -- place. It drove me crazy.

I did find it. Apparently I didn't actually take the old sheet off when I was changing the bed -- I just put the clean sheet on top of it. I don't know how I managed not to notice that there was already a sheet on the bed while I wrestled with getting all four corners of the mattress crammed into the clean sheet, but I didn't.

Covid brain.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A white-throated sparrow in Central Park.

Those bright mating markings are from last spring, but I'm sure they were just as vivid this year.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday reflections

The train station in Frankfurt, this time in black and white.

I know everyone's sense of time is distorted -- I feel as though I deserve a medal for managing to keep track of the days of the week -- but I cannot understand how this is Memorial Day weekend. How can it be summer already?

I don't really enjoy New York summers, so have never been eager for the three months of sweating to kick off, but I'd like another couple of months of spring weather, please. We've earned it. And also please enough of a decline in our new cases that we can skip the masks outside by the time it gets really hot.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Römer

This is one of Frankfurt's most famous landmarks -- it has been the City Hall for more than 600 years -- and somehow I never got around to posting a picture of it.

Better late than never.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Urban poetry

Still in Frankfurt -- I took this picture from my hotel room, charmed by the small sign in the corner of the window.

In case you can't see it clearly, it says H is for Happy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Ah, Gravity, thou art a bitch.

The Porpoise Galaxy was a perfectly ordinary spiral galaxy, minding its own galactic business, when the massive elliptical galaxy NGC 2937 came into the neighborhood and quite literally started pushing everyone else around.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA; Reprocessing and Copyright: Raul Villaverde

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monday flashback: Frankfurt

I found some more pictures from Frankfurt that I never went through -- not surprising that I forgot about them, since I was only there for a day, and I went on to Brussels and Ghent and Rwanda on that trip and took a thousand more photos.

I love this picture of the train station. I'm always a sucker for arches and ironwork.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

The baleful glare of a raven in Jasper National Park last summer.

Lots of robins singing in the backyard trees this morning. I've been so aware of birdsong since I've been isolated at home; I can only identify four or five birds by sound alone (and one of those is the mourning dove, which hardly counts) but hearing their chorus every morning is one of the many things I am grateful for.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Saturday reflections

Because everything is an interior right now, isn't it?

This is my apartment reflected in the glass over a painting of foggy mountains I bought in Beijing many years ago.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Urban poetry

Lining up for a taping of The Daily Show last summer.

Yet another thing we won't see again for a long time.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

One of those flashes of beauty that I appreciate so much these days: tulips on a sunny sidewalk in Hell's Kitchen. Yesterday a mockingbird appeared on the antenna on the building across the back yard and sang while I had breakfast; I haven't seen a mockingbird outside the park for many years and it was a moment of pure joy.

Yesterday I had a ham sandwich on sourdough and potato chips for lunch, and it felt like a luxurious dinner in a 5-star restaurant. Every bite was scrumptious. I'd been craving potato chips, just plain potato chips, for a few weeks now and I finally gave in and bought a bag.  I can't remember the last time something tasted so delicious. And it was just potato chips!

Maybe it's that my nerves have occasionally been stretched so far during these long anxious weeks that the slightest nudge sets them twanging, but I am oversensitive to everything these days. I'm enchanted by the play of light over the trees outside my window. I cry when I hear old pop songs. I moan with pleasure over the salty crunch of a mouthful of potato chips.

I don't know how I'll ever regrow a skin thick enough to allow me to resume anything like a normal life again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Flashback: Jökulsárlón

This image from the glacier lagoon in Iceland actually came out really well.

There's my accomplishment for this week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

This one made me smile: the red giant Betelgeuse in Orion. This long-exposure image allows the stars in the background to be seen clearly; usually they're drowned out by the luminosity of the huge star in the foreground.

Betelgeuse looks reddish-gold in this image; I usually see it as pink. I always think of it as My Star -- I've seen it winking from my bedroom window when I was in high school, glowing from a ship's deck in the middle of the Mediterranean, burning in the skies over Zambia, peering like a friend through breaks in the evening fog over Berkeley. It's ironic that I've lived for so long in a place where stars can seldom be seen, but maybe it makes me appreciate them more when I do see them.

Image Credit and Copyright: Adam Block, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona

Flashback: Iceland

Another picture from Iceland: a road near Thingvellir.

Maybe you have to have grown up out in the Fog Belt of San Francisco to find this an appealing hike, but I do -- I'd love to lace up my hiking shoes and see where this road goes.

Or maybe it would look good to anyone who's been mostly stuck inside for the past two months.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Travel flashback: Iceland

I went to Iceland in 2016, so I've only had four years to go through the photo backlog.

As usual, most of them aren't that interesting, but here's a much better shot of the beautiful caldera Kerið than the one I posted originally.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A white-breasted nuthatch. I love their acrobatics -- they're fond of hanging upside down on branches like little feathered bats, then swooping and cartwheeling down to grab a tree trunk and hang on sideways, as in this picture.

Today is clean the bathroom day -- I find I can handle a maximum of one chore per day, so if I manage the bathroom today, then vacuuming can be postponed another day in good conscience. It's not as though I've got anywhere to be tomorrow.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Saturday reflections

Windows on West 44th Street -- not the most interesting photograph, but these days we are grateful for what we can get, in every area of life.

I dreamed about the supermarket, that every aisle had shelves full of Bounty paper towels, enough to wipe up an entire city's messes and spills.

I'm amused by the quarantine version of a classic wish-fulfillment dream -- imagine being able to use as many paper towels as you wanted and never running out! I actually have plenty of paper towels, and toilet paper, at the moment, but I do catch myself panicking at the thought of running low on anything. You can't do much hoarding in a one-bedroom apartment, but I have extra peanut butter and granola bars and canned soup in my living room closet, and I no longer wait until I'm completely out of something before buying more.

Actually buying two more.

Just in case. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

What once was and maybe will be again, someday

Some of the beautiful architecture in the old part of Frankfurt, taken in 2018 when I was on my way to Belgium and then Rwanda.

I was scheduled to leave for Frankfurt tonight. I was going to stop over for a couple of nights (taking the train to Cologne to get a better look at that cathedral if I had the energy) before flying on to Baku for a two-week tour of the Caucasus.

I'm not complaining. Anxious and claustrophobic as I often am during this lockdown, I am lucky compared to so many others, and I know it. (And I've been joking that these weeks of living in Pandemic Central have cured me of any desire to be in the center of the action, any action, ever again.) 

Still. Masking up so I can scurry around the block is a kind of adventure, maybe, but it's not as satisfying as getting off a plane in a country I've never been to, knowing that I'm going to see amazing things, meet interesting people, and possibly even get a photo or two worth sharing.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

I took this picture one year ago: fallen cherry blossoms on shadowy rocks in Central Park. Presumably they're blooming again even if I can't see them.

As the number of infections in New York continues to slowly, slowly fall, we finally have testing available to anyone who wants it. I got the antibody test at an urgent care clinic near my apartment on Saturday -- no one in line, maybe a five minute wait after checking in.

It came back negative, so losing my sense of smell for a couple of days earlier this year --  who knows when? March? February? -- and the accompanying cough weren't Covid. I know the antibody test has a lot of false positives and immunity isn't guaranteed anyway, so a positive result was never going to be a Get out of my apartment free card. But it would have made me a little less paranoid even if none of my routines changed.

Instead I'm telling myself that what I'm doing has worked, so keep it up!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

This is an extreme closeup of my forefinger. I've been having problems with the TouchID on my phone -- I've deleted and re-added it a couple of times, and it works for a day then stops again.

Then I took a close look at my skin, and realized that I basically no longer have fingerprints -- this is what happens when you wash your hands fifty times a day.

It's obviously not the biggest problem I'm dealing with these days, but it made me laugh, and that's always a good thing.

Astronomy Tuesday

My what a big tail you have!

Newly discovered comet SWAN has just  passed inside the Earth's orbit, and will be closest to us on May 13 before moving on to approach the sun. It may be bright enough to see with the naked eye in June -- or it may not; comets are notoriously unpredictable.

Image Credit and Copyright: Gerald Rhemann

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A beautiful gray catbird in Central Park.

Oh how I miss Central Park.

That's all.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Saturday reflections

A motorcycle reflected in an apartment building door on West 44th Street. I did manage to get a few pictures on my very brief walk last weekend.

I'm sure we're all very glad that the cruelest month is finally behind us, but I don't suppose we'll have much reason to sing about the merry, merry month of May.

Except for my daily mantra: The sun is shining. The birds are singing. I'm not sick.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Urban poetry

A grand piano in Washington Square Park last fall.

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