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

Friday, September 30, 2022

Urban poetry

The brutal storm surges flowing through the Florida streets this week reminded me of these gutters in San José. There are steps and ramps—usually— for crossing them, but it's one more thing that made navigating San José challenging.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

Twitter user the moon's wife (@bookishseawife) posted this last week: 
the appalachian mountains are older than saturn’s rings. the appalachian mountains are older than dinosaurs. the appalachian mountains are older than trees. the appalachian mountains are literally older than BONES. the appalachian mountains should be regarded with pure terror.

I am so accustomed to thinking of the universe as unimaginably large and unimaginably old that I sometimes lose sight of the how old and weird our Earth is.

And though when I first read this I thought, “Well, that can't be right,” the Appalachians (which are about 480 million years old) are in fact older than the rings of Saturn. The rings were long thought to be the same age as the planets (about 4.5 billion years old), but the data collected by Cassini showed that they are actually only about 100 million years old.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

It was not a good week, culminating in an extended internet outage Friday when I really needed to be able to upload, download, search and print to prep for my classes yesterday.

So this beautiful female American kestrel hanging out on an antenna across the yard made me smile when I really needed it.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday reflections

Reflections in the window of a cafe on East 23rd Street in June.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

I don't think I've ever seen the Great Lacerta Nebula before. But it is spectacular, and I'm just going to let the image speak for itself.

Image Credit and Copyright: Jarmo Ruuth, Telescope Live

Monday, September 19, 2022

Ruinas de Ujarrás

Another ruined church. This one, dating from the late 17th century, is all that is left of the village of Ujarrás, which was abandoned after a flood in 1833. The land surrounding the ruins is now a park.

Sunday, September 18, 2022


I didn't post a reflection shot yesterday, so here's something appropriate: two chairs in the cafeteria at school.

Teaching yesterday went well, but I was so tired last night I couldn't even read. The overhead projector crapped out in my Level 1 Speaking and Listening class, and I had 50 slides of pictures to use for prompts. (I improvised by turning the computer monitor around and having the students move closer.)

And I sent a text to one of my fellow teachers asking which room she was in. Or I meant to—I dictated the text because I was in a hurry, and somehow What room are you in went through as Wow marihuana.

But the students are lovely and eager to learn.

Sunday bird blogging

A brown jay in Monteverde.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Urban poetry

I love the tropical colors on these buildings on my street in San José.

I'm teaching the first classes in my practicum tomorrow and I'm still cobbling together lesson plans and activities. Last night I dreamed that I tested positive for Covid and couldn't teach. I already knew that I was stressed out; having my brain suggest that coming down with Covid might be a lucky break just confirmed it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

I am always fascinated by images of the sun, all the detail that's hidden by the overwhelming brightness.

This image shows a filament—a formation of hot gas held aloft by the sun's magnetic field—that appeared at the beginning of September. This filament was approximately 350,000 kilometers long; filaments usually last for a few days before collapsing back into the sun.

Image Credit and Copyright: Alan Friedman (Averted Imagination)

Monday, September 12, 2022

Garden break

Here's a pastoral interlude: light on the leaves in my garden in San José.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I took this picture of a great kiskadee in Monteverde, but they were also one of the more common birds in San José and throughout the central valley in Costa Rica.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Saturday reflections

Not the best reflections, but a lovely view all the same: a lake in the Orosi Valley, below the hotel where we had lunch on the last day of the program.

Today I'm administering placement tests to the students who will be taking English classes this semester. I'm really nervous, though I imagine not nearly as nervous as I'm going to be next Saturday when I start teaching them.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Urban poetry

I have no idea what this contraption is—it was on top of a truck driving down the street in my neighborhood in San José. I would have liked to get better pictures of it, but if I hadn't already had my camera in hand, I wouldn't even have gotten this one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Orosi Valley

I've been back for a month, and Costa Rica already feels like something that happened years ago. But here's photographic evidence that I was actually there, at an overlook above the Orosi Valley.

Astronomy Tuesday

This beautiful new image from the Webb Telescope's near-infrared camera (NIRCam) shows the Tarantula Nebula in stunning detail.

Image credit and copyright: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

Monday, September 5, 2022

Y una bicicleta

It's missing the elaborate decorations but the red on this bicycle (at the language school) reminds me of the carretas.


Oxcarts—called carretas in Costa Rica—have been used in rural communities around the world to transport goods, but these distinctive bright orange and red designs are unique to Costa Rica.

The tradition began when a farmer wanted to decorate his carreta so he could use it to take his family on Sunday outings, and he painted it orange because that was the only color paint he had. And then of course everybody wanted one. A highly decorated oxcart became a status symbol because it meant the family was wealthy enough to hire an artist, and different regions developed their own styles of decoration.

This carreta was at the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation in Alajuela.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I saw flocks of these large birds hanging out in the trees in Monteverde, but it took me a while to identify them. I thought at first they might be a type of guan, another very large bird common in the area, but all of the guans had distinctive red or blue markings. And except for having feet that were so much bigger than their brains, there was nothing distinctive about these birds at all .

Except, as it turns out, for their name. May I present: the gray-headed chachalaca! Much as I love exotic and amusing bird names, I had somehow never heard of chachalacas before. And now, just knowing that there are birds called cachalacas and that I have actually seen them makes me absurdly happy.

Chachalaca! Chachalaca! Chachalaca! Say that three times really fast.

Fruit p**n

Some more bananas, just because they are so photogenic. And a portrait of the pineapple that I bought at the market. It smelled so divine that I hesitated to cut into it, thinking it couldn't possibly taste as good as it smelled.

But it did.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Yes, they had no bananas

Some of the vendors. No, they weren't all selling bananas, but it was definitely the most common fruit for sale.

People at the market

This is kind of a crappy picture, but when I wandering through the market I was too mesmerized by the food for sale—and taking pictures of that—to try to take many pictures of the other shoppers. And it was really crowded, so the few pictures I did take were uninspiring.

When my bag was getting too heavy to lug around any more and I still had half an hour before meeting up with the group for our ride back to the school, I went to the food stands along one end of the market and bought an empanada so I could sit down. You couldn't see much of the market from where I was sitting but I was too lazy to walk around any more, and so this is the best I've got.

Farmers' market

The first weekend in San José we went to the Zapote market. It was hot and crowded and I am still dreaming of the beautiful, ridiculously inexpensive fruits and vegetables I bought there: pineapple and watermelon and avocados and mangos and carrots.

Saturday reflections

Downtown San José.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Urban poetry

Tires against a garage wall in downtown San José.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Butterfly break

For your afternoon respite, a selection of butterflies from Costa Rica.

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