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Posts Tagged ‘photo’

Luís interrupted his Sisyphusean task of sweeping the African tulip tree blossoms off the driveway this morning, to come upstairs to show me this baby hummingbird sitting on the driveway.

Baby hummingbird on drivewayThere’s a lot of hummingbird action going on in the African tulip tree above and we decided it was best to leave baby alone and hope mom flies down to give it some help.

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This morning’s sunshine (after days of gray) brought a visitor to my door…

Green grasshopper on screendoor

A Sphenarium purpurascens, also known as Chapulín de la milpa.  No cornfield nearby.  Hmmm… perhaps the recent storms blew it off course?

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Feliz cumpleaños to Cantinflas.  Today, the beloved Mexican actor, comedian, writer, and producer, born Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes, would have turned 103.  I’ll be waiting in line to the movie, Cantinflas, based on his life, when it opens in Mexico on September 19, 2014.  For those in the USA, you get first crack, as it is scheduled to open on August 29, 2014.

Cantinflas on a wall in Teotitlán del Valle

Image of Cantinflas on a wall in Teotitlán del Valle — painted by the lovely and multi-talented, Luvia Lazo.

I would also like to say RIP, Robin Williams, another actor with the gift of combining humor and pathos.  How blessed we are to have shared this planet with both and to continue to have the opportunity to experience their creative genius.

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Young man painting face of another young man

How now, spirit! whither wander you?  — Puck, Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Close-up of face painting

Just another Wednesday walk in Oaxaca.

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Early Wednesday evening, I walked down to the Palacio de Gobierno to see Dreamer, one of the Oaxaca FilmFest4 offerings.  It had been raining on and off all day and so, to lighten my load and make room for my umbrella, I left my camera at home.  Why would I need it?  I was just going to be sitting in a small dark theater.  Sheesh, was I mistaken!  It was twilight when I entered the Palace via the side door on Flores Magón, but we were directed to exit through the main front entrance — and I was blown away by the scene before me.  The rain-soaked zócalo glistened and glittered, awash with El Mes de la Patria green, white, and red lights.

Needless to say, last night when I returned to watch, Twenty Million People, I took my camera!

Government Palace lit with green, white, & red lights

Heroes of the independence movement, Hidalgo and Morelos in the spotlight as they gaze down from the Government Palace.  I always forget how beautiful the zócalo is at night!

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Ahh, young love…  On the walls of Oaxaca, among the extraordinary art and pithy political statements, there are declarations of love.

In red heart on wall: Angel y Edna

People speak of love don’t know what they’re thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of belief and belonging
Try to fit some name to their longing
People speak of love

—  In the Shape of a Heart by Jackson Browne

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Colibríes?  I can’t resist!

Hummingbird from a wall in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas…

Hummingbird painted on wall

Hummingbird from a NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope photo…

Hubble image looks like the profile of a hummingbird

Separated at birth?  Cool article from Slate about this photo…

The Hummingbird Galaxy

I was pondering writing a longish post about the picture above, talking about what galaxies are, how they can physically collide, how their gravity can twist and distort their shapes into all sorts of weird things …

But seriously. That galaxy looks like a hummingbird.* What more do you need?

OK, you need a little more. For one, I’ve written quite a bit about how galaxy collisions happen, so you can read about how these work here and here. The two galaxies in this collision are called NGC 2936 (the blue birdie one) and NGC 2937 (the smaller cottonball one). Together they are known as Arp 142, named for an astronomer who observed weird, distorted galaxy pairs.They’re located about 300 million light-years from Earth.

Two things really stand out to me in this picture (besides a galaxy that looks like a flippin’ hummingbird). One is the long, delicate tendril of dark reddish dust exhumed from the previously spiral-shaped galaxy NGC 2936, flung into a long arc across tens of thousands of light-years of space. I wish we had more three-dimensional data here; I’d love to know what this structure really looks like from different angles. Since dust is very dark, it blocks light coming from behind it, so this tendril is in front of the hummingbird galaxy, or perhaps embedded in it.

The other thing is that the smaller galaxy seems to have survived this collision pretty well. The shape is only mildly distorted; you can see a bit of off-centered nature to the glow of stars around the core. I suspect its more compact nature has a lot to do with that; the stars are closer together, perhaps, and the overall gravity of all those stars helped it retain its shape.

And there is one other thing. These are two very different galaxies colliding! The ex-spiral galaxy is very blue, indicating lots of star formation happened recently. Young, massive stars are blue, and when galaxies collide, the gravitational interaction can cause huge clouds of gas to collapse and furiously form stars.

The other galaxy is yellower, indicating an older, more stable population—blue stars don’t live long, so a galaxy this color must not have formed stars in a long, long time. Billions of years, for sure. You can tell by looking that it doesn’t have much gas and dust in it, which fits; if it had, the collision would have stirred them up, and we’d see more blue stars there as well.

Note too that you can see a handful of far more distant galaxies in the picture. The ones to the lower right are red, which is most likely due to having their light absorbed and reddened by the dust in the hummingbird galaxy; that’s another thing interstellar dust does, much like dust and haze in the air can make a sunset look red.

All in all, there’s a lot going on in this image! The hummingbird shape makes me smile, and don’t get me wrong, it’s cool. But what you’re seeing here is far more than just a shape in the clouds; you are seeing a massive collision on a cosmic scale, the collective might of 100 billion suns, their gravity reaching out and twisting the shapes of these galaxies, stretching them like taffy, molding them like clay.

The Universe operates on the grandest of all scales, manipulating forces and energies far too large for us to grasp in our puny brains. Yet when it does so, it generates beauty and perhaps even amusement in those same brains. It helps us appreciate it and gives us another reason to want to. And, after a while, we really can begin to grasp what the Universe is telling us.

Maybe our brains aren’t so puny after all.

*Some folks say it looks like a penguin. I can see that, but it’s silly. I mean, c’mon, a galaxy shaped like a penguin? Ridiculous.

h/t Chris

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Listening to the rhythm of the falling rain.

Wet patio with water in buckets

Ahhh…  At long last, relief from weeks of energy sapping heat and a long very dry winter.

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The Semana Santa poster said the Viernes Santo (Good Friday) Procesión del Silencio was to begin at 6 PM in front of .  Knowing the drill, I arrived at 4:45 to take photos as contingents and participants arrived — but nobody was there.  The old antiwar slogan, “What If They Gave a War and Nobody Came” came to mind.

Of course it was going to happen, it’s just that time isn’t what it seems here. Word on the scene had it that, despite the poster info, it wasn’t to begin until 6:30 PM.  No worries!  Well, except that Mexico doesn’t begin Daylight Saving Time until next weekend, the light began rapidly fading, and 6:30 PM became 7 PM.  Por favor, let Oaxaca’s 27th annual Parade of Silence begin!

And it eventually did — up Macedonio Alcalá, left at the Cruz de Piedra, left again on García Vigil to Independencia, another left, and back up the Alcalá.  And so, in darkness and silence the procession returned to the church where it all began.  Contingents could be heard late into the night parading through the streets of the city, as they returned the Jesuses and Marías to their respective home churches.

Lots more photos can be seen over at Oaxaca-The Year After.

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Intricately designed and executed iron gates have been installed at either end of Antiguo Callejón de San Pablo, ushering visitors into the “Old meets new” grounds of the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo.

Iron gate

Oaxaca’s favorite son and Mexico’s foremost living artist, Francisco Toledo, narrates a video documenting the construction of the gates.  It’s in Spanish, but even if you don’t understand the language, it’s worth watching, anyway.

By the way, today is Toledo’s 70th birthday.  ¡Feliz cumpleaños, maestro!

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Just before this afternoon’s rains came, Casita Colibrí’s first African tulip tree blossom of the season.Orange red African tulip tree blossom .

And that means, colibríes (hummingbirds) won’t be far behind!

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Carved wood woman sitting -- back curved into chair.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  — Henry David Thoreau

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It’s been a week since the end of Semana Santa and I’m still sorting through photos and videos and reflecting on impressions and feelings.  However, I’m finding that, with too much thinking, the experience slips through the fingers and the magic vanishes.

Thus, I give you the night of Pascuas (Easter) at Carmen Alto…

And then, the hisses, bangs, and brilliant explosions of a castillo…

Flaming castillo

brought Semana Santa to a spectacular close.

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The back of the official 26th anniversary t-shirt for the Good Friday, Procesión del Silencio, doesn’t come close to telling the tale.

Back of T-shirt: Face of Jesus; text "1986 Procesion del silencio 2012"

Images of belief add texture to the ritual procession of mourners grieving the crucifixion and death of Jesus, as related in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

Close up of a bleeding Jesus head and torso on a cross

But it’s the eyes of believers…

purple hooded face with only eyes showing

that gives the narrative a silent voice.

Virgin Mary statue with halo from shoulders up.

And, grieving mothers everywhere understand.

Profile of a woman wearing black veil and glasses.

No matter where one lands on the belief continuum, it’s hard not to be moved.

(ps)  For lots more terrific photos, take a look at Chris’s posting, The Procession of Silence.

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Man in purple hood, leaning against large wooden cross.

Mary with praying over Jesus

Jesus seated; head leaning on hand; on arm resting on knee

In front of Preciosa Sangre de Cristo Templo on Viernes Santo (Good Friday), waiting for the Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence) to set off up the Álcala, down Garcia Vigil, and back up the Álcala to Sangre de Cristo.

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