Saturday, December 30, 2006

Five Things You Don't Know About Me........ A Belated MeMe!

©1970 by Ron Mesaros & Playboy - Click on photo to enlarge
I was tagged for the '5 things meme' awhile back by Claire at the Clairesgarden blog and I've finally obliged.
So, here's 5 things you don't know about me...
1. I bet you didn't know that I once posed topless for Playboy Magazine!
Yup, that's me on the far right, at 24 years old, with a group of Topanga residents who were hired by photographer Ron Mesaros to pose for this photo which illustrated a November 1970 Playboy Magazine article, 'West Of Eden', about Hippie Communes (I believe we were paid 20 or 25 dollars apiece which was good money in those days when you consider I was making $2.50 an hour doing odd jobs here & there).
I had previously participated in a few communes, but this group wasn't part of a commune, we were just hired randomly for the photo.
Playboy actually sold a large-sized wall poster version of this picture, and, even years later, people I didn't know would approach me, out of the blue, to say they had the poster hanging on their wall.
Today, almost 37 years later, there are rainbow colored retro posters being sold on eBay, titled MORNING STAR COMMUNE, which use this same photo cut out in a heart shape. Who woulda' thunk it?
The picture posted above was tweaked in Photoshop to smooth out the halftone color process printing dots.
2. I'll also bet that most of you don't know I was married once before.
Yup, and that's my first wife, Julie (3rd from the right), holding a child that actually belonged to the naked couple in the foreground. Julie and I were together for several years but she ran off with her Karate instructor a few months after we got married. The photo was taken in Topanga Canyon sometime in 1970. The guy on the far left is Bruce, and the girl standing next to me is Gail, but I don't remember the other people's names.
3. Around this same time I was also hired by a fashion designer to dance with a group of Hippie types on Art Linkletter's House Party TV show.
The dancing was a complete disaster and the designer's career probably ended with that show. We were all wearing this person's latest "gypsy styled" creations (I was stylin' in a long-sleeved leather pullover shirt with rawhide lacing & wide-bell-bottom paisley print pants---NICE!!!) and trying to dance in a wild, beat-heavy Hippie groove, to sleepy Lawrence Welk style orchestra music. One of the female models actually cried her way through the whole absurd ordeal. I earned every penny of $100 for this pitiful gig but was too embarrassed to even watch the episode when it aired.
4. My biological father was a diabetic who drank himself to death (at 36 years of age) when I was 15, just a couple of years after he and my mother divorced.
My mother re-married when I was 14 but my stepfather didn't adjust very well to having a house full of rowdy divorcee's kids (4 of us at first, then 5 after his own daughter was born to my mom), so he took to locking us out of the house while they were at work all day. Consequently, during my life as a 'latch-key kid', between the ages of 14 and 18, I pretty much raised myself on the streets, in the company of the other hoodlums from my neighborhood.
5. When I was 17 years old I was arrested for robbing a dry-cleaning shop of $17 and spent 3 months in the old Juvenile Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
The headline in the paper read, "Daring Teenage Bandits Rob Dry Cleaner In Broad Daylight" (there were two of us). The old woman who worked there claimed that we got off with a couple of hundred dollars (she must've had some money hidden that she kept for herself, so we weren't the only crooks taking someone to the cleaners that day). She was also an artist who drew very good likenesses of us for the police, along with a description of our car (which had been parked around the corner on a different street). So, a few weeks later, the police staked out our school and blocked the gate as we were leaving. We were then handcuffed to the fence as school was letting out for all of our friends and classmates to gawk at.
Fortunately for me, after staying out of trouble between then and my 21st birthday, I had my juvenile police record legally expunged, through the courts, or I never would've been able to work for the Post Office.
I consider myself very lucky because, at the time, my life could've continued down the wrong path so easily. But I decided to leave my old neighborhood, and my old gang of hoodlum friends behind, and set out for the 'beatnik' lifestyle of 1964's Greenwich Village in New York City.
There, I discovered more creative ways of getting into trouble, but I managed to stay out of jail long enough to grow up a little bit.
Well, there you have it, 5 things you didn't know about me (and probably didn't want to know) involving my adolescent transition from angry young felon to beatnik-hippie-flowerchild-fashion/photography model. Of course, this was all prior to my glamorous 30 year career as a postman.
~But the picture is from the glory days, when I honestly believed my generation was changing the world in ways that would yield a brighter, more sustainable future. Way back then, I was known around Topanga as "Beautiful Jim", a nickname given to me by a local hair-stylist who admired my thick wavy locks, even though she never got to cut or style them. Much to my chagrin the name stuck to me for years, and even today there's one person, Janet, the model in my 1977 20th Century Crucifixion photo, who still calls me that.
What a long strange trip it's been!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

HO! HO! HO!...

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2006 peggy otterstrom
...and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and to all...
...from jolly old Sinterklaas (alias Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Saint Nick, or Santa Claus).

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Solstice Dinner

Click on photo to enlarge
Peggy and I enjoyed a delicious stir-fry dinner on the Winter Solstice, fully appreciating each other's company and a very relaxing evening.
A toast to the returning sun...
...and to good healthful food, a warm fire in a cozy mountain cabin, and loving companionship, as we begin another cycle in our lives together.
Love and Peace...

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Thursday, December 21, 2006


Click on photo to enlarge - © 2006 jim otterstrom
Tokens of love, peace, and friendship...
The deer antler & bamboo pipe was made for me, as a Christmas gift some 20 years ago, by my life-long friend Charlie.
The Sun-Goddess pendant with the ball-bearing eyes was carved in wax, and then cast in brass, by my step-father Claude. He gave it to me maybe 15 years ago, before he was stricken with Alzheimer's Disease.
The beads are from our friend Keith's shop, the old 'Bead Shack' (except for the Juniper Berries which I collected beneath one of my sacred Western Juniper trees alongside the Pacific Crest Trail near here), and were strung by me about 10 years ago as a small token of my love for Peggy.
The Peace box was hand-crafted by 'Enchanted World Of Boxes', and purchased on our way home from the Strawberry Music Festival in 2004 when we stopped to visit our dear friend Brian in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The candle was lit at 4:22 P.M., the actual moment of the Winter Solstice, and burned until we went to bed. We couldn't find a hand-dipped Bayberry candle in time for the Solstice, but I have found some for future use.
Life is to share, and to cherish...

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Yuletide Greetings On The Winter Solstice...

Click on photo to enlarge
The Yuletide Wreath has many origins, not the least of which was the Pagan custom of the Evergreen Wheel, symbolic of the recurring seasons and the Circle Of Life.
Around the globe today many different holiday (holy day) customs are practiced on or near the Winter Solstice, and regardless of which religion you follow, or tradition you observe, Peggy and I would like to wish you a joyous season and a very good new year.
Today is the Winter Solstice, and, as we move through the shortest day of 2006, we celebrate the returning of the sun to bring us longer and lighter days. The precise time of the Winter Solstice this year is 4:22 P.M. (Pacific Standard Time).
This first day of winter marks the beginning of a new annual cycle, a time of renewal which also moves us humans, in cyclic harmony with the rhythm of life, to seek our own personal renewal.
Every year billions of us make New Year resolutions in an effort to improve ourselves and our lives. We quit smoking, or drinking, vow to lose weight, improve our health or get out of debt.
Maybe we'll strive to better our relationships with friends and loved ones, to be more open and honest, or less selfish, prejudiced and judgemental.
The making of these resolutions each year reflects the fact that we're not always as responsible in our personal lives as we would like to be.
So here's my resolution for 2007.
'To try and demonstrate thoughtfulness and personal responsibility in my every action.'
That covers about everything I can think of and is more than enough challenge for me.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Was Our November A Canary In A Coal Mine? How Hot Might It Get In The Next Few Decades? You Tell Me...

Click on chart to enlarge - courtesy of Yahoo!/The Weather Channel


This IS a RANT!

...and not a very nice or funny one.

I knew we had an abnormally warm November here, I lived it, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I saw these Yahoo!/Weather Channel temperature charts!

If these numbers are accurate, and I'm assuming they are, we've just had one extremely freakish November.

In Big Bear City we surpassed our previous record high November temperature by 15° F.


And, not only that! We surpassed the previous November record of 74° on 22 of those 30 days, with seven days of 80°+ temps. And not one day of the month did we dip down to even the average low temp of 25°.

It was 89° on November 7th (88° on the 8th), fifty-five degrees above average, and just 5° shy of our all-time summer high of 94°.

All over town I hear people cheerfully saying, "Isn't this weather wonderful?", as they go to and from their X-Mas shopping destinations in their SUVs.

Yes folks, it's just lovely, and pretty soon you may not even have to battle the traffic that comes with living in a ski resort either.

Of course you won't have anywhere to work because Big Bear's economy is dependent upon the ski industry. So you'll have to sell your house and move someplace where there is work, but then your house won't sell because there'll be a glut of sellers and no buyers.

And, we may not need to worry about forest fires much longer either, because, with temps like these, the bark-beetles can just chew their way through the forest all year long. Who needs a forest anyway? Then we can just haul all that dead wood home to burn in the fireplace instead of letting the wildfires have it. But we may not need fireplaces to keep warm, we may need air-conditioning instead.

Ahhhhh.... Endless Summer!

So hop in those Escalades, Excursions, Navigators and Hummers folks! You know, the ones with the Jesus fish, the American flags, and the 'family values' oriented bumper stickers plastered all over ém.

Make all the trips you want to McDonalds, Starbucks, Carl's Jr., Taco Bell and Burger King . They all have drive-throughs and you don't even have to climb down out of the car to notice the weather.

Just sit there in your air-conditioning listening to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or NASCAR results while you wolf down those mega-calories.

Even the Pharmacy has a drive through so you can refill your Prozac, Valium and Viagra prescriptions right from the driver's seat. And if you forget to have your hair cut, or your nails done, you can always make another trip. No worries! Because, thanks to oil subsidies, corporate welfare, and very creative economic policies, gasoline is back below $3 a gallon.

But the hidden costs are becoming more obvious aren't they?

Global Warming may be the most insidious, but what about that $350 billion of our hard earned money spent on the War in Iraq? Or the tens of thousands of human lives sacrificed, just so we can continue driving behemoth gas hogs around in circles all day.

Ooops! Sorry!
Do I sound a bit testy?

Perhaps I'm sick of hearing people say Global Warming is no big deal?
Or maybe I'm a little under the weather from breathing all those exhaust fumes on my walk to the grocery store yesterday morning, especially the diesel fumes?

Oh Look! I just noticed the first syllable of diesel is 'die', as in Die-Off!

I wonder what it feels like to be broiled?
Or what it's like to watch your children or grandchildren being cooked in a solar oven.

Stick around, the fun's just beginning...
...but the party's coming to an end.
Whether we believe it or not.


Hey, it's my blog, and I can vent today if I want to!

Because our collective ignorance is infuriatingly pathetic and Peak Oil can't come soon enough for me... you can consider this my exhaust, I certainly have to breathe enough of everyone else's!

Love, Peace, & Mercy Earthlings...

It’s looking to me like we're gonna need plenty of each!

The chart below shows the daily high and low temperatures for Big Bear this past November.

Enlarge it and compare them to the record highs, lows, and average from the chart above.

Click on chart to enlarge - courtesy of Yahoo!/The Weather Channel
Most of the folks who visit this blog are well-informed about Global Warming and are making big personal changes toward sustainable living. This post isn't meant for you.
It's for the masses who are either ill-informed or just don't seem to give a damn!
The people who say, "Isn't this weather wonderful?, Have a nice day, and a Merry Christmas"
They sound to me like Stepford Children.
All programmed to speak polite, meaningless, rose-colored gibberish.
Maybe I should apologize for another of my impassioned outbursts, but I'm not going to.
This is a real world we're living in, and I have a full spectrum of feelings about it, so there's little relevence in my simply posting pretty pictures every day.
Now I'd like to refer you back to some charts I posted last January which show the correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature. Click here to review the charts, especially the fourth one down which uses data from the past 160,000 years. Compare where the CO2 levels are right now with the historically corresponding temperature line.
Then you tell me. How hot do you think it might get?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One For The Madcap...

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2006 jim otterstrom

Madcap Mum,
Yesterday morning this very friendly female Mallard was following Dallas and I along the shore, and everytime we'd stop somewhere she'd waddle out of the water and approach us.
Poor Dallas was licking his chops and twitching, but he's a well behaved dog and I told him gently, "no, you leave her alone", so he just sat by my side quivering a bit.
A lot of people come here and feed the ducks bread, so many of them have become rather tame, which is dangerous when other people walk their dogs in the same area.
I remember that you really liked the last Mallard picture I posted, and when I saw how nice this one came out, I immediately thought of you. So I'm calling this one Madcap's Mallard.
The soft early morning light was just right, and yet you can see the first glimmer of sunshine that was peaking through the trees---from the ridge above the south shore---reflected in her wet feathers at the waterline.
This is the kind of photo that makes me really appreciate my camera.
Taken in auto-mode, it was simply a point & shoot moment.
Have a great day Mum, and I hope you're feeling better...

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Beauty And The Ice...

Click on the photos to enlarge - © 2006 jim otterstrom
Lakeside Decembers
December tilts toward the longest night
as ice and wind transform fluid surfaces
into fancy heaps of shattered crystal
where, upon the shore
slumbering 'neath the frozen bones of summer's garden
seminal marrow lies, dreaming
in rhythms slowed by time and place
of warmth, and song
of birds and bees
and butterflies
© 2006 - jim otterstrom
This morning, Peggy, Dallas, and I, were out walking by the marsh where we were treated to this very cool (indeed) early winter ice display.
The temperatures have been up and down for several days causing the lake to freeze and thaw.
What you see in the first three pictures is the result of a thin layer of ice being windblown to the eastern shores of the marsh where it piled up and re-froze.
The bottom one was taken in a sheltered area, out of the wind.
There's snow forecast here for tonight, tomorrow morning, and next weekend too, so I'm off to clean out the raingutters again and put some things away.
addendum (a), December 13th, 2006
The above poem has been edited at least 20 times since I posted it and it's probably not finished yet.
I may just delete it.
I'm never happy with my poetry but I keep trying to write it anyway.
There's something about writing poetry that I simply don't get.
It seems to me that it's not what you put in a poem, but what you leave out, that gives it wings.
Mine usually fly like like lead balloons.
I was hoping for some comments, tips, or criticism on this one, but all eleven commentors politely avoided the poem.
addendum (b) January 1st, 2007
Thank you for your thoughts and observations and I have edited one more time to smooth the flow of words, and to try and clarify meaning. By the way, it's not minnows dreaming, but seminal, as in seed, and marrow, as in bone. I assume the minnows are still swimming and eating in their cold liquid depths.

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