Tuesday, November 18, 2008

7:30 A.M. - Stanfield Marsh

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2008 jim otterstrom

No Photoshop here. This is just how the picture came out of the camera with the early light filtering through the trees and reflecting back onto the pelican.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicken Thief Leaves A Calling Card???

Saturday Morning Excitement!
Click on photo to enlarge - © 2008 jim otterstrom
There's a very agile young black labrador who lives somewhere nearby and gets loose almost every morning for a little romp around the neighborhood. He comes down our street to chase the Cottontail Rabbits who live across the road and I've seen him effortlessly jump our next door neighbors 4 foot fence. I'm sure the only reason he hasn't come into our yard is that Dallas always challenges him at the gate.
I know he's been interested in our chickens for some time because I've caught him casing the joint and trying to figure out how to get closer to them. So, I only let the chickens out in the main yard when I'm here, with Dallas, to keep an eye on things.
Well, Saturday morning, I let the birds out about 7:30 and went back in the house for a few moments, to do something or other, when our friend Meredith called with some questions about caring for her young hens.
Mer, and her partner Deb, have acreage on the outskirts of civilization at the east end of the valley, and, at the very moment that I was suggesting they should be observant---for coyotes, bobcats, stray dogs, or any other critters which might jump their fence (not to mention hawks) while their hens are out free-ranging---I looked out my own front window to see the escape-artist labrador running up the street, toward our house, with our little red banty-rooster, Boris, in his mouth!
Dallas ran to the fence to confront him as I was coming out the door, but the obviously jubilant dog just ran on by at full speed.
Sure enough, I looked all around, and the hens were contentedly hunting and pecking about the yard, but there was no sign of Boris.
I was feeling very badly for the little rooster, who, as a sickly chick near death, had been nursed back to health with a shot of vodka, and I was also wondering how I was going to tell Jordanne, the young lady who raised Boris and gave him the vodka cure. I had promised her he would have a good life! I was wondering too, how the dog got in and out of our yard without Dallas noticing, and why I didn't hear any commotion.
Just then, the lab came running back down the street, but I couldn't see if he still had the rooster until he got right in front of the house, and no, he no longer had Boris in his jaws.
Then, after I came out from behind some trees, I saw the reddish pile of animal lying lifelessly in the road, dead-center of our property. I was heading out to pick up the remains of my deceased rooster when I looked down, and there was Boris, standing right in front of me, whole, healthy, and all full of himself.
I ran back to the house, to grab my other glasses, then returned to the scene of the crime where I found the above-pictured Halloween wolf-mask heaped in the road.
That show-off dog had found this awesome looking mask somewhere and was carrying it, snout first, in his mouth so all I could see was the fake red fur, which, from a distance, with my reading glasses on, looked to be the same size and color as little Boris.
Needless to say, Peggy and I both had a good long chuckle over our little tragedy turned comedy, the Resurrection Of Boris, and that rascal lab with his delightful wolf-mask, which is now in our possession. Peggy was especially giddy (actually in tears) because I'm always teasing her about not being able to see without her glasses.
But, the would-be chicken thief has left his calling card, and I've taken his blunt warning seriously.
The chickens will not be in the front yard unless I'm out there with them!
I must admit though, that I'm learning to admire this little black lab who so aptly communicated his desire for some fresh chicken.
The honesty in his cleverness (whether intentional or otherwise) has somewhat endeared the wayward dog to me, but I'll be watching him very closely, Jordanne.
I guess this was our belated Trick or Treat!

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Friday, November 07, 2008

My Current Project --- Eleven Photos

A Place For Jim's Junk
~One Mans Trash Is Another Mans Treasure~
Click on all photos to enlarge - © 2008 jim otterstrom

This post consists of the above photo, and ten more below, with comments.
Using mostly recycled and scrap materials, I'm building a badly needed tool shed as an addition behind our 'Temple Of The Lost Civilization' hop arbor.

The shed will actually be a small multi-purpose room. There will be a workbench along the south facing wall beneath the big window, shelves and storage for most of my tools, and the brick patio area will also serve as a hangout when friends come over to solve the world's problems over a few good beers (More likely we'll forget the problems and just enjoy the beer).

The Beginning
Last summer I built the floor with deeply discounted planks from the local lumberyard that were too twisted and split for retail sale. With some strong persuasion I got them to screw down flat to joists (Which are sitting on concrete piers) I recycled from the old porch we tore out in 2004 (Notice our first dusting of snow on the floor). Shortly after building the floor I also laid the red-brick patio you saw in the first photo. This first wall was tilted up a few weeks ago (Nobody said I was fast).

Taking Shape
The walls were framed from a pile of salvaged 2x4s I've had around here for years, supplemented with another batch of twisted studs I bought dirt cheap, and forced into position with a big pipe wrench as I nailed them down. I did need to buy 12 new studs to finish the side walls. The rafters are recycled deck boards from our old porch but I had to buy 4 sheets of plywood to sheet the roof. There were some fiberglass shingles left over from re-roofing the house 6 years ago so I only had to buy two bundles to complete this roof (Note that the front wall was re-thought and the window moved closer to the door since this photo).

South Facing Window
I dragged four of these great windows home from somebody's remodel job over a decade ago and finally got to use one of them (The window header was made from two salvaged 2x8s). This is where the workbench is going to be and the window will provide a well lighted space for me to work on my plethora of little hobbies & crafts (Freeing up the kitchen table). I think that's why the cute chick is washing my new panes for me, so I'll spend more time out here and she can have her kitchen back!

Speaking Of Hobbies
This front, opening window, will serve as ventilation and also includes an outdoor counter where a few friends can sit and nurse a beer (Believe me, that does happen around here). And, I decided to take advantage of the afternoon sun by building some small bottle windows up in the west facing eves. One of those crafts I've been longing to put into practice, seeing how I've saved up some hundreds of old bottles over the years too. Did I ever mention that I'm a pack-rat by nature?

Bottle Windows
The windows were made to fit the framing of the wall so they're not all exactly the same size.

I built box frames from 2x4s and then cut a piece of plywood to fit inside each frame. After tracing the profiles of the desired bottles onto the plywood I cut out the bottle-shaped holes with a sabre-saw before nailing the pieces into place.

I decided that a hot-glue gun would be a quick & easy way to hold the bottles in place until I mixed the mortar (After a frustrating attempt with black silicone caulking, which, I already knew, sets up way to slow). Then mortar was applied heavily to both sides (One side at a time until they set up a bit) and sculpted around the bottles to finish off the windows.

Bottles In The Wall I blacked out the front window here so I could give you a better idea of how the bottles look with the afternoon sun shining through them.

Don't Fence Me In
~How The West Was Lost~

Call some place paradise and they'll fence it in...

I collected all these fence company signs, and many more, over a quarter of a century ago. The greater portion of them are embossed tin, but a large number of the oldest ones are heavy enameled porcelain on steel.

For me they're a perfect and artfully graphic metaphor for the scourge upon the land we call civilization and progress.

Most of them are also reminders of a now historic time when we shared party-lines with phone numbers that had word prefixes such as Dickens, Diamond, Plaza, Capitol, or Exbrook. Some are really ancient, having only four or five digit numbers, with no prefix at all.

More Relics
The purple-tinged 1937 Ford headlight lens I found many years ago in a junk store (For a couple of bucks) will now serve as a porchlight and the extremely rare 7up screen will help keep flies out of my little studio/shop. I've had the screen about 40 years, and they used to be everywhere, but I haven't seen another since I rescued this one from an old saloon door in the late 60s. The siding above the counter is old redwood planks I hauled home from some ruins, the fence signs are screwed to weathered recycled plywood, the entire shed is wrapped in left-over tar-paper from a neighbors playhouse project, and eventually the other walls will be sided with well-weathered gray pickets salvaged from several hundred feet of discarded picket fence I purloined from another neighbor who replaced it with chain link (The same wood that frames the 7up sign).

If you could enlarge the picture enough you'd see that the rusty little sign left of the 7up screen, from an old rail yard fence, has the phone number 201-14. How old is that?

The Ford script underneath the '37 Ford headlight was made for me by Craig, one of my beer-drinking buddies, who also happens to do lost wax casting as a jewelry maker and sculptor.

It was made for my 1942 Ford Pickup which had a rare size script that Ford only made that one year. I was so taken with Craig's fine work and generosity, that, when I sold the truck, some decades ago, I couldn't part with the hand-made script.

You Like It, It Likes You
How many of you are old enough to remember these screen door ads? Back when advertising slogans were simple and little mom & pop stores could make some extra money selling soft drinks while getting a free screen door in the bargain.

When, as kids, we collected those discarded bottles along dusty dirt-road shoulders and turned them back in for penny candies and 5 cent soda pop.
Back when we looked forward to the future and all the modern conveniences that were about to transform our sleepy simple rural existences into lives of leisure, abundance, and luxury.

Way, Way, Back...
...where movies and photos were black & white, and all my fond memories are fading to sepia tone.

~From The Archives Of~

Earth Home Garden, The Temple Of The Lost Civilization, and The Last Outpost Bar & Grille.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We, The People...

...Have Spoken

Click on images to enlarge

Obama Collages by Charis Tsevis
Creative Commons Licensed
Something very beautiful just happened in America!
We mustered the largest voter turnout in nearly 100 years to elect the country's first African-American president by mounting a huge, truly modern, grassroots campaign funded primarily by average Americans like you and I.
An incredible 700 million dollars was raised online, mostly through small donations under $100.
From Earth Home Garden alone we raised nearly $1,000 of that total through our personal fundraising page at BarackObama.com.
It's a crying shame that this amount of money has to be spent to overcome the political influence of Corporatism but it's a reality of our times and an obviously fed-up populace rose to the occasion.
I vote in every election but I am rarely inspired by politicians and this is the first time I've done fundraising for one.
I'm proud to have been a small part of this historic moment and I truly hope Barack Obama can heal some of the mean-spiritedness which has dominated American politics and divided the country in recent decades.
The world is weary of greed, corruption and war, and perhaps President Obama can help restore some of the goodwill America once enjoyed in the international community.
We are also facing very difficult economic times, compounded by the problems of climate change, resource depletion, and increasing social unrest all over the globe.
It's time for diplomacy, dialogue, and responsible leadership to replace blind arrogance and callous brutality on the world stage. Time to share the fruits of democracy instead of pursuing a path of world domination through corporate sponsored tyranny.
And, if Barack Obama is to be a successful president, he will need all the support we can give him.
When Barack says we will all need to "sacrifice and work together", I hope people are listening, because there are very hard times ahead.
Remember, Barack Obama is not a saint, a savior, or a magician. He's just a man. An educated thoughtful man with the eloquence to inspire people. The man we chose to help us bring change to America.
No president will be able to effectively address the unprecedented challenges we face without a well-informed participatory and vigilant citizenry lending their voices.
And, at this time also, in this world of new possibilities, we might want to carefully and consistently be re-evaluating our needs while learning to live more sustainably and leave smaller footprints.
On this day of renewed optimism, my Hope is, that, with strong and thoughtful leadership, we can now begin to realize the magnitude of the Change we need to make as a society, and as individuals, in order to meet the challenges required for building a sustainable future.
Jim & Peg

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 4th, 2008

We Voted! What About You?
Click on image to enlarge - © 2008 jim otterstrom
We walked to our polling place this morning arriving at 7:04, four minutes after they opened.
The lines were long at the Bear City Fire Station but the folks were friendly and the mood relaxed.
We saw a lot of old friends we haven't seen in years and there were lots of hugs going 'round.
Now, we wait and see...

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.