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

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

I saw this titmouse in January; the park isn't quite so brown now as spring approaches.

That seed in the beak, held so delicately, made me think of a joke my stepfather used to make about my mother—She eats like a bird, a peck at a time. I'm sure I was taught in some dreary lesson in elementary school that peck refers to a unit of measure, as well as the more common usage describing what birds do with their beaks, but I doubt that most people would even get that pun anymore. (Unless they're old enough to also remember the song my grandmother used to sing to me. I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.)

My students love idioms, and I usually start my class with one, explaining the meaning and showing how it's used. Yesterday I did a whole lesson on idioms about food: I've got bigger fish to fry, don't cry over spilled milk, not my cup of tea. It was really fun, but unexpectedly exhausting. The last half hour of the class was fairly lackluster as the students were basically struggling to stay awake.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Saturday reflections

I took this picture from the window of the Uber after the surgery a few weeks ago; looking for things to photograph is one of the ways I deal with stress.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

I know I posed a Cassini image of Saturn just a few weeks ago, but I can't resist this one: Saturn's moon Hyperion. This small (approximately 250 kilometers across—small for a moon) strange object looks to me like something I might pick up on the beach, and so I suppose in a way, it's not strange at all. Unlike so much of what we're able to see in the universe now, it looks almost familiar.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, JPL, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

It's been another one of those weeks. Here's a handsome Northern Shoveler in the Central Park Reservoir by way of compensation.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

Evening on Mars.

The Curiosity rover took this picture last month. That fan effect is called crepuscular rays; they're seen when the sun's rays shine through clouds near sunrise or sunset. They're very familiar to those of us on Earth, but this is the first time they have been seen so clearly on Mars.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/SSI

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

One belated titmouse for your viewing pleasure.

A minor surgical procedure to remove a tiny, but unfortunately malignant, wart above my eyebrow left me with a black eye, a two-inch incision, and no energy for anything beyond minimum prep for yesterday's class and reading mysteries on my Kindle.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

The Cassini probe may be gone, but fortunately we still have all of its amazing images of Saturn. This is from 2006.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute;

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

A female downy woodpecker hanging out in Central Park last winter.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Saturday reflections

A storefront on Madison Avenue a few weeks ago.

Thursday, February 23, 2023


Missed a few regular postings here—just the usual business of life, like trying to get in all the overdue doctor's appointments and new job paperwork, plus going in circles on upcoming lessons that just aren't coming together.

Spring may be a month away, but the pigeon trees are already in bloom.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Saturday reflections

Yes, sometimes when I'm waiting at a red light, I take pictures to pass the time. Why do you ask?

Friday, February 17, 2023


Despite the crocuses and the optimism of the bees, it isn't spring yet. It rained most of the afternoon, but I took advantage of a break in the clouds to run a few errands and as soon as I was a ten minute walk from home, it started to hail--sharp little ice pellets bouncing off my head and every inch of exposed skin.

Which reminded me of this picture: confetti at the conclusion of my graduation ceremony last month.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

But spring is coming

It's early for crocuses, but I was so happy to see them pushing their purply way through the dead brown leaves. And the bees already hard at work!

Did I mention that leaves are brown? Brown, brown, brown

Où sont les neiges hortensias d’antan?

More of the crazy chaotic winter foliage in Fort Tryon Park Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Look around, leaves are brown...

There hasn't been a single patch of snow on the ground and the weather the past few days has been sunny and almost springlike, but it is still undeniably winter, as these remnants of last year's gardens in Fort Tryon Park yesterday can attest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

A group of some of the smaller and lesser-known nebulae in Orion.

Image Credit and Copyright: Daniel Stern

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

After closely monitoring the object spotted in the sky over Central Park this weekend, I was able to determine that it was a cardinal and did not pose a threat. No further action is required at this time.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Saturday reflections

A store window on Madison Avenue a few weeks ago.

The first thing I taught my English students this morning was the expression “just one of those days.” Mine started like this: I was running a little late so I took an Uber to school. The driver was charming and when he heard that I was an English teacher he told me about his own ESL classes twenty years ago. He dropped me off, I walked towards the main door and realized that I'd left my purse sitting on the back seat. I ran after the car, caught it at a red light, pounded on the window and retrieved my purse.

Then my classroom was locked (I don't have a key.) I went to the lobby, convinced security that I'm actually a teacher even though my ID still says student, and got the door opened. The classroom computer was disconnected and I couldn't log in. I called the help desk, and while I waited for them to send someone, I realized that I'd left the clipboard with the sign-in sheet in the lobby. I ran downstairs to get it, and missed the help desk guy, who reconnected the computer and logged it in with an ID I don't have a password for. So I had to call again.

And then I had to teach my class. Just one of those days.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Urban poetry

Rainy evening on Ninth Avenue a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

This image of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus taken by the late great Cassini probe is interesting because of the light. That crescent of brightness on the right is from the sun, but if you look at the shadows you can see that there's another, less intense, light source on the left. That light is coming from Saturn itself, reflecting sunlight back onto its moon like a giant mirror.

Image Credit: NASA; ESA, JPL, Cassini Imaging Team, SSI; Color Composite: Gordan Ugarkovic

Monday, February 6, 2023

Sunday bird blogging on Monday


I saw a blue jay on my fire escape a few minutes ago and realized I never posted a bird yesterday—too caught up in emails about students changing levels and grading writing samples. Because I'm a teacher now, and that's how we roll!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Saturday reflections

A store window in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan.

I taught my first class as a genuine English teacher today. Well, it was the first class of the semester so there was very little teaching involved; it was mostly orientations and introductions and paperwork and assessments. These students are low intermediate, much more proficient than the students I had last semester.

However, as part of a discussion about how it's hard to understand spoken Engish because of the way we smoosh words together, I taught them Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. It's not exactly literature, but they loved it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

Hey, where did all the stars go?

This frankly creepy image shows Barnard 68, a dark absorption nebula. These are clouds of dust and molecular gas which absorb the visible light emitted from background stars, creating the illusion of a hole in the skies.

Image Credit: FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

This one is a little blurry but the titmouse is still adorable.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Saturday reflections

I don't love the new skinny spires that continue to take over Midtown; I think they throw the skyline out of balance and overshadow the shorter but lovelier buildings around them.

And that's enough Grumpy Old Lady for today, thank you. The lake in Central Park still produces lovely reflections of the skyline.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Urban poetry

You might guess that the people in this line, which snaked around three sides of a city block on the Upper East Side on a miserable day last week, must be trying to get Taylor Swift tickets or the latest iPhone. But they were actually lining up to go to a graduation—mine, and a few thousand of my closest friends.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

A new image from the Webb Telescope. This shows NGC 346, a star-forming region in our neighbor, the Small Magellanic Cloud. The Cloud has a composition similar to much older galaxies so by watching star formation there, scientists may learn how the process looked in the early universe. The Webb can get a much better look at the baby stars in this region than we've ever had before, including the clouds of dust around them which could eventually form planets.

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, O. Jones (UK ATC), G. De Marchi (ESTEC), and M. Meixner (USRA), with image processing by A. Pagan (STScI), N. Habel (USRA), L. Lenkic (USRA) and L. Chu (NASA/Ames)

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

Another look at the red-tailed hawk from a few weeks ago.

This week I went to graduation, had my first job interview in many many years, and got the job. All good things, but I'm exhausted.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Saturday reflections

A rather wintry and stark car reflection.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)

That song was stuck in my head while I was walking in Central Park this afternoon. After decades on the East Coast, it still surprises me how unrelentingly brown the landscape becomes in winter. The sky wasn't actually gray today, for a change, and the temperatures were pleasant enough for January, but it was all still depressingly monochromatic.

But clearly that's why God invented cardinals.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Saturday reflections

A winter evening reflected from the USS Intrepid, an old aircraft carrier turned museum at Pier 86 in Manhattan.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

I always love images of the Pleiades, but this one really shows off the blue reflection nebula surrounding the star cluster.

Image Credit and Copyright: Stefan Thrun

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

A red-tailed hawk in Central Park this morning.

Hawks are fairly common in the park, but I usually see them up in the trees. This guy was hanging out on the ground, near the bird feeders in the Ramble. The titmice congregating nearby ignored him. (I assume it was a him; female red-tails look very similar to the males but are much larger.)

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Saturday reflections

A store window near Times Square this week.

Friday, January 6, 2023

I am half-sick of shadows, said the Lady of Shalott

It is unrelentingly gray and gloomy here; winter has barely arrived and I'm already tired of it. Tuesday I had jury duty, and though I had magazines and puzzles and my Kindle, I was bored and fidgety. It was raining but I went for a walk at lunch just to get some fresh air; I stepped on what looked like a wet patch of sidewalk and found myself ankle-deep in ice water. So I spent the afternoon bored and fidgety with cold wet feet.

Here's a pleasant memory from last summer: a Saturday market in San José. I skipped an all-day beach excursion to meet up with a friend. We ate arepas and bought fruit and listened to live music and then walked around the park. It was a lovely day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

The massive type O star at the heart of the Dragon's Egg nebula created not only the planetary nebula in the center of this image, but also the blue halo surrounding it.

Image Credit and Copyright: Russell Croman

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

Happy New Year!

This picture is from last winter—we haven't had any snow here yet—but I think a cardinal on a snowy day makes an excellent start to any year.

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