Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Snowfall---February 27th 9:21 A.M.

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
"What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours".
From the song written by Maria Grever & Stanley Adams
A much-needed snow has been falling since we woke up at 5:30 this morning.
Big Bear's current winter, as of today, has brought less than half of the precipitation of our previous driest year on record, 2002.
We're still hoping for a couple of big 'March Miracle' storms but this one is definitely timely and appreciated.
About 3 inches has fallen here thus far but the storm seems to be dissipating now.
We had another 4 inches last week, which melted as soon as the sun came out, and we'll happily take every inch we can get.
Our daughter Jamie called from Lake Tahoe last night to tell us she had over 4 feet of fresh snow at their place, and it was still falling.
We are a mountain and snow loving family.
I posted today's wintry scene in good old-fashioned black & white for effect.

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Monday, February 26, 2007


Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

Our unusually mild spring-like weather is bringing out throngs of house-hunters of the feathered kind. There's a Pygmy Nuthatch inspecting the interior of this house while the male Western Bluebird tries to intimidate him into going elsewhere.

Pygmy Nuthatches just aren't that easily intimidated, they may be tiny but they're very persistent.

I built the little house for either Nuthatches or Chickadees and it has been successfully used for the past four years or so to fledge several generations of little Pygmy Nuthatches, sometimes two fledgings a season.

The Western Bluebirds did run our Violet-Green Swallows off last year, so I'm going to move a Bluebird house to another location, further away from the gourd-house the Swallows have used for over a decade.

Two years of blogging!

What have I learned?

For one thing, I've learned you can spend entirely too much time blogging!

More on that later...

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our kind of folks! Unsung heroes of The Stanfield Marsh

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
Meet Joe, Jim, and Charmaine
We encounter these folks almost every morning on our walks along the marsh, where they can often be found picking up trash and repairing vandalism to the boardwalk.
Jim is 82 years young and Charmaine is 78. Their autistic son Joe (on the left) is 51, and never developed the ability to speak.
Rather than institutionalizing Joe, Jim and Charmaine have dedicated much of their lives to caring for him, which has included taking him out daily for long walks, and the healthful benefits of fresh air and exercise.
A couple of years ago Charmaine fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her neck, and I worried that she might never recover. But, as soon as possible, Jim had her back out on the boardwalk, in a wheelchair, pushing her along while holding onto Joe at the same time.
Charmaine has been walking again for quite some time now, out there every day like the trooper she is, but they still bring the wheelchair along in case she gets tired.
The kind of care Jim and Charmaine give their son, and each other, is also evident in the way they care for their environment.
Every week-end, especially around holidays, hoards of tourists flock to the marsh to picnic and view the beautiful scenery & wildlife of Big Bear. And every Sunday they drive off in their humongous rolling trash-bins, leaving behind, literally, mountains of garbage along the lakeshore.
Consequently, throughout any week, you will find Jim and Charmaine, walking Joe, and selflessly collecting trash without thoughts of recognition or reward for their work.
Some people also enjoy vandalizing the boardwalk by tearing the wire fencing loose from the wooden railings but Jim is soon there, with his hammer and a pocket full of horse-shoe nails, putting the fence back together again (see photo below).
For years, Peggy and I have also gone out with our bike trailer (and an extension pole with a home-made hook, fashioned from an old paint-roller, for snagging floating trash out of the water) picking up trash behind thoughtless humans who think nothing of desecrating nature and beauty.
While I completely understand that, for Joe and Charmaine, doing this work is its own reward, I personally want to thank them for being the kind of people who restore my faith in humanity.
As a society we seem to look for some hero, or leader to solve our problems for us, but Joe and Charmaine, by their caring example, demonstrate that each of us, through personal responsibilty, can make a huge difference in the world, if we choose to.
If the human species is to survive the 21st Century, I don't believe it will be through the efforts of celebrities, politicians, technologists, or philanthropists.
I believe any future we have is in the hands of average men, women, and children, who can change the world profoundly by caring enough to change themselves.

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
Jim, at a young 82, repairing fence along The Stanfield Marsh boardwalk.

Click on photo to enlarge - 1954 photo credit unknown


Charmaine and Jim on their Wedding Day

The very lovely young Charmaine, and her handsome Jim, were married on September 25th, 1954 and will be celebrating their 53rd Anniversary this year.

Jim, a B-24 pilot during World War II, later earned an engineering degree and went on to a career with Rockwell.

A veteran with a conscience, Jim is rightfully proud of his WWII service but also thinks the Viet-Nam and Iraq Wars should never have been waged.

Charmaine was a personnel manager for Atlantic-Richfield before she married Jim, thereafter becoming a devoted housewife and mother.

They also have a loving daughter, Nancy, who lives in Colorado.

Thank You Jim And Charmaine!

For Caring...

Postscript 2-26-07

When Jim gave me the wedding picture to scan, he also pointed out that his father had painted the beautiful landscape scene hanging on the wall behind the newlyweds.

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
A Yellow-Rumped Warbler perches in a Jeffrey Pine near a suet cage & birdbath at Earth Home Garden on Friday, February 23rd.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

.................Be My Valentine..................

Click on photo to enlarge - Photo courtesy of NASA
rendered by Jim Otterstrom with Photoshop 7.0



Monday, February 12, 2007

............HAPPY BIRTHDAY PEGGY...........

Click on photo to enlarge - photographer credit unknown

In my eyes, you're even more beautiful today than you were way back then...

...Happy Birthday...


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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sierra, Molly, and Rojo...

Click on photo to enlarge - Photo by Bill La Haye - December 2006

Pictured, left to right, are Sierra, Molly, and Rojo, the faithful companions of our friends Bill and Kathy.

These dogs also inhabit the hearts and lives of Peggy and I, and our four-legged friend, Dallas.

Rojo and Sierra are seasoned veterans of many years of Spotted Owl surveys here in the San Bernardino & San Jacinto Mountains, having hiked much of the terrain between Wrightwood and Mount San Jacinto with Bill many times over.

And sadly, as Peggy, Dallas and I were taking in the beautiful Big Bear sunrise yesterday morning, another sweet sun was setting.

Sierra had to be put down because of bone cancer, she was 12 years and 9 months old.

She will be sorely missed by her constant companions, Rojo and Molly, and her loving owners, Bill and Kathy...

...and by her friends here at Earth Home Garden too.

Below are some reflections from Bill about his companion of nearly 13 years.

"Sierra was a funny dog. Only six to eight weeks old when we bought her from North Shore Animal Clinic (now VCA), in July of 1994, she was extremely independent right from the start.

As a puppy, she had no problem sleeping outside by herself that very first night we brought her home. Yet, she was really afraid of the world (looking at the big picture) for most of her life. Routine was her salvation. Of course, having to constantly comfort her and bring her out into the real world only tugged at my heart strings more and more everyday throughout her life.

Thus, while she could be incredibly independent, she was also my baby girl who needed special love and attention on a regular basis. She was also a loving dog, but she had to fight herself to come to you to asking to be petted. Most of the time I had to go to her, or make her come to me, so I could give her the physical affection she craved and needed. The only time she could bring herself to break out of this emotional handicap was when another dog came to me to be petted. Then she would show up front and center and sometimes growl or nip at the offender that invaded her special space.

The funniest story about Sierra that I can remember, right off the top of my head, was when she was about one year old. Her and Rojo were running like the devil, rough-housing on our normal, daily dog walk. Somehow, Sierra lost track of important objects, like trees, and ran full-bore into one, because she was distracted by Rojo. Of course, it was a personal and emotional crisis (not to mention physical) for her at that point. So, she came running over to me and I had to comfort and soothe her while sitting down on the ground with her cuddling for several minutes until her whimpering subsided and she could once again cope with real life and we could complete our walk.

Sierra was a great dog that I took everywhere, that never needed to be on a leash, and rarely got into trouble because she based her behavior by cuing off me. On my 1,000s of owling hikes, I rarely even spoke to her. She new the routine, got out of the truck, went owling, laid down whenever owls were around, hiked back to the truck and hopped in without a single command from me.

She was like a satellite appendage, which worked on trust and love.

You can't describe this to other people adequately. It's one of those things that you appreciate tremendously. Yet, its like breathing. You don't have to think about it, it just is. And, it is truly amazing and special. If you have never experienced it, you don't know what you are missing. Needless to say, I sure know what I'm missing now and it's a very sad time for me."

Bill La Haye


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Saturday, February 10, 2007

6:31 A.M.

Click on photo enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
Sunrise over the Stanfield Marsh at 6:31 this morning during our 5 mile walk.

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