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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Astronomers don't really know why the planetary nebula NGC 7027 has those strange square structures in the middle. It looks like a stylized Japanese flower to me, preserved inside a paperweight.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Joel Kastner (RIT) et al.; Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monday flashback -- Petra

A few of the tombs carved into the side of the mountain.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

I am not fond of geese in general or Canada geese in particular, but I always manage to get suckered in by goslings. They're cute like all babies, at least until Mama or Papa Goose takes offense and starts hissing.

My mother hated geese, and described having been chased by a goose when she was a child in Ireland whenever the subject came up. When I was young, I laughed at the story, but I filed it away under Isn't Mom Silly?  Outside of a Hitchcock movie, why would anyone be afraid of a bird?

This state of innocence persisted until I was well in my twenties, when I made the mistake of standing by a lake in New Hampshire in the vicinity of a large white goose. It ignored me at first, then without warning -- or provocation -- it attacked. I was so shocked that this, this bird was actually BITING me, that it took me a minute to react.

I assumed it would go away if I shouted or waved my arms. It did not. So I ran. It chased me all the way back to my car, and I drove away having learned two valuable lessons: Geese are mean. And they bite hard.

These particular goslings were in Jackson Hole.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Saturday reflections

Not the most interesting reflection maybe, but since it's from Jordan -- near my hotel in Amman -- it fits in with the current set of flashback photos.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Siq

The walk to Petra. The Siq is a mile long, and every inch of it is jaw-dropping.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Back to Jordan

I have more photos from Petra, starting with this mule for hire.

When I took this picture, I had no idea that I would be clinging to the back of that very mule a few hours later, on my way up the mountain to see the Monastery. I was and am grateful to the sturdy Suzo because I would never have made the trek on foot, but it wasn't exactly fun.

That I somehow managed not to fall off on one of those steep, slippery trails is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

We are in air conditioner season now, and it hasn't been as claustrophobic as I'd feared. I open the windows in the morning, and generally make it until mid- to late afternoon before I slam everything shut and turn on the AC.

When the windows are open, I do hear traffic and construction outside, along with the birds. It feels a little more like there's an actual city out there than it did during the bleak days of peak virus, and that's one more reason to put off closing them as long as I can.

This is a villanelle I wrote during the worst of it, when I was more than a little stir crazy.

The sirens wail their anxious song.
It rebounds through the empty street.
This night’s a hundred hours long.

A cough across the neighbor’s lawn;
Its percussion is my heart’s drumbeat
While sirens wail their anxious song.

And everything inside is wrong –
It’s sweaty blanket and tangled sheet.
This night’s a hundred hours long.

Distractions chug my days along,
Read, snack, Netflix – rinse, repeat.
The sirens wail their anxious song.

No nighttime charm I have’s that strong;
In the dark there’s no retreat.
This night’s a thousand hours long.

The window fades to a pale oblong.
I tick off one more day’s receipt,
Where sirens wail their anxious song
And night’s a hundred hours long.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

A closeup of the central region of nebula IC 410. Those “tadpoles” (and surprisingly, they do actually resemble tadpoles) on the right side are about 10 light years long, just for a bit of astronomical perspective.

I woke abruptly on Sunday morning in one of those strange fugue states where I had no idea where -- or who -- I was. I was listening to the birds sing and staring at my hand, and I thought, There are other universes and other worlds, but this is the only one I'll ever know.

Then my self came trickling back into my body and I remembered that I was Kathleen, at home in my apartment in New York, and I got up to pee and make coffee.

If this is indeed the only universe I'll ever know -- and odds are that's the case -- at least it's a good one.

Image Credit and Copyright: Trevor Jones

Monday, June 22, 2020

Sumer is icumen in

Clearly summer is already here.

Remember my tree? Here it is in the lush greens of late June.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

I saw this magnificent red-tailed hawk in 2018.

I would not care to have that golden eye fixed on me.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Saturday reflections

You can tell from from the mostly bare tree that this picture was taken back in April -- reflections in my neighbor's windows seen from my living room.

Now the tree is a lush green, I feel comfortable leaving the apartment a little more, and Governor Cuomo has given his last daily briefing as New York continues, slowly, steadily, to pull back from disaster. (And other states barrel heedlessly ahead, but I don't want to think about that this morning.)

I don't believe we'll see anything our former selves would recognize as normal in 2020, and realistically, I think it will be at least a couple of years before we do. And actually hopping on a plane and zipping across an ocean? I can't even imagine it now.

But this picture reminds me of how dismal the world looked from this apartment in April, and how trapped I felt. The view is better now, in every way.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Urban poetry

Last weekend, I was lured out with no urgent errand to run, just because the weather was so beautiful and I couldn't bear not to be out in it, just for a little while.

I walked over to Pier 84 on the Hudson, something that barely qualifies as a park to my jaded eyes under normal circumstances but which now looks like the bloody Garden of Eden. I mean, there are trees. And grass. And a river. And other people.

And all of it is outside!

Here are some of my fellow New Yorkers enjoying the day.

Life in the time of coronavirus

Some additional restaurants have opened up for takeout only; some remain closed -- in many cases, probably forever.

There doesn't seem to have been much increase in new Covid cases as a result of the protests a few weeks ago, which is very good news. New York's numbers continue to decline slowly, and if the trend continues restaurants are going to be able to offer outside seating as early as next week.

I probably won't be participating. I do miss restaurants; going out for breakfast is one of my favorite treats. But even in the Before times, I didn't like eating outside during the summer, even in the shade. But I'm happy for my fellow New Yorkers, and even happier for the restaurant owners who could use the business.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The end of Wadi Rum

One last shot of the red sands, in a truly magical place. I've really enjoyed going through this last set of photos.

Maybe I'll get to go back one day. And maybe I'll just have to settle for having been lucky enough to see it once.

Speaking of sexy, sinuous curves of red rock....

Still in Wadi Rum

These very old mountains are quite different from those sexy, sinuous curves of red rock, but a nice lesson in geology, and how time wears us all down eventually.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

From Mars' terrestrial stand-in to the real thing: this mosaic of images from Viking taken in the 1970's. That large blue-gray slash is Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the Solar System, almost four times longer and deeper than our Grand Canyon.

Image Credit: NASA, USGS, Viking Project

Monday, June 15, 2020

Monday flashback: Wadi Rum

A different kind of rock art, made by wind and weather instead of human hands.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

And speaking of languages I don't understand...

I've been pleasantly surprised to find a lot of interesting pictures of Wadi Rum I'd never processed -- I'll post some of them this week.

I'm fascinated by these petroglyphs. I see a symbol for the moon, I think, and a stick figure that's probably a man, but that's all I can understand.  Some of the rock art in Wadi Rum is more than 5000 years old, and the people who wrote the message, and the people it was meant for, are long gone. But they considered it important enough to justify the time necessary to incise it into bare rock, and that makes me wish I could read it, even a little bit.

There was a man. He would have lived in the desert, surrounded by mountains. A crescent moon rose in the black sky. 

That's all I can tell you, of a much longer story that no one now remembers.

Sunday bird blogging

I had to dig through old photos to find a picture of a robin I hadn't posted. This morning I dozed until almost nine o'clock and one particularly insistent robin sang through all my dreams, so that had to be today's bird choice.

The weather was beautiful yesterday, low humidity, sunny but not hot, and I was able to sleep with the windows open. It was so pleasant to lie in this morning, on a perfect day in late spring with the fan blowing softly across my face and that robin determined to tell the world whatever it is that robins have to say.

It was easy, for once, not to want to be anywhere else but here. Now.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Saturday reflections

I like the jazzy zig-zags on this red car, seen in my neighborhood this week.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Urban poetry

Another playground picture, this time in black and white to emphasize those glorious shadows.

It's some consolation to find that this world is still capable of so much random beauty.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

We are not accustomed to destruction looking, at first, like emptiness. The coronavirus pandemic is disorienting in part because it defies our normal cause-and-effect shortcuts to understanding the world. The source of danger is invisible; the most effective solution involves willing paralysis; we won't know the consequences of today's actions until two weeks have passed. Everything circles a bewildering paradox: other people are both a threat and a lifeline. Physical connection could kill us, but civic connection is the only way to survive.
-- Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
As the number of new cases of Covid in New York State continues to fall -- 674 on Tuesday, a number that would have been hair-on-fire alarming only a few months ago -- New York City is finally easing into Phase I reopening. A few more stores are doing curbside pickups, more restaurants are open for takeout, construction has started up again.

These playgrounds in Hell's Kitchen are still padlocked. I can't imagine that many parents will be letting their kids run around there even when they do reopen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

We humans refer to this edge-on spiral galaxy, NGC 3628, as the Hamburger Galaxy.  Since I'd much rather have dessert than a hamburger, I prefer to see a giant, ethereally light meringue with chocolate filling.

The tidal tail of gas stretching off to the right is more than 300,000 light years long -- that's an awful lot of meringue.

Image Credit and Copyright: Stefano Cancelli (1963-2020), Paul Mortfield

Monday, June 8, 2020

Flashback: Jordan

And moving on to 2017 in my photo cleanup project, here's a lovely shot I can't believe I missed: morning in the Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A black and white warbler, last spring.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Saturday reflections

Today I tick off another year on this beautiful planet (even if I haven't seen much of it lately.)

Here's a car reflecting light-dappled sidewalks near my apartment a few weeks ago.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Beavers were here

A dam and a lodge by Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park -- proof that just because something's messy, doesn't mean it isn't effective.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

Sometimes it does feel like I'm stuck in an episode of Little Pandemic on the Prairie. I sew face masks. I build (well, assemble) shelves. I make my own disinfectant wipes.

I haven't been baking bread only because there hasn't been any flour on the shelves in New York since the beginning of the pandemic.

(Also, anything I bake I eat.)

Now I'm about to attempt the trickiest, most daring, feat yet, and give myself a haircut. I used to cut my own hair all the time when I was young and poor, but it's been a long time. And I was never very good at it.

On the other hand, it's not as though anyone is going to see me.

(This tree in Grand Teton National Park has nothing to do with the coronavirus, except that red fuzzy growth of any kind now makes me immediately want to wash my hands.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's some welcome perspective on this blissfully quiet morning -- even the robins have shut up for a change.

The bright dot seen peeking through Saturn's rings is our own wounded planet, and the faint tiny dot just above it is our moon.

I take comfort in knowing that if you could step back a few hundred million miles, all you would see of us is that tiny beacon.

The light is there, even if we can't always see it.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, JPL-Caltech, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team; Processing and License: Kevin M. Gill

Monday, June 1, 2020

A more peaceful place

It is not peaceful here, in New York, tonight, so I am happy to lose myself in this beautiful scene in Grand Teton National Park.

The constant sirens are back today after a few weeks of increasing quiet, and I can hear helicopters rumbling overhead and distant shouting whenever there's a gap in the wailing. My apartment doesn't face the street, so I didn't realize that the protests had been on my block this afternoon until I read it in the news. I don't know what exactly is going on out there now, but we're curfewed as well as quarantined, and I'm not planning to go out and check.

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