Monday, December 29, 2008

Update On The Earth Home Garden Temple Of The Lost Civilization, Tool Crib, Workshop, Fallout Shelter, Den Of Antiquities, And Beer Garden Pub...

The Chernobyl Door
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

One can't erect a monument of junk to the folly of the Twentieth Century without including a reference to our nuclear adventurism, so I've christened my new shed door in honor of that most infamous of meltdowns thus far.

I kept my eyes peeled for months, looking for an old beat up door I could salvage for the shed, to no avail. It finally came to the point where winter weather was bearing down and I had to buy a door.

The cheapest sturdy door I could find cost $88 at Home Depot, and, aesthetically, it was completely unnacceptable as an entrance for my funky Den Of Antiquities, but it was modifiable.

It's a steel door! Or, I guess I should explain, a wood frame with a thin steel skin attached to both sides, filled with expanded foam. And, It was painted white. Disgusting!

The day after I brought it home I was walking on a back street near the airport with Dallas and saw a perfectly good used wooden door sitting out with someone's trash. So, I figured I'd come back and carry it home, with some help from Peggy, and return the ugly metal door to Home Depot and get my 88 bucks back. However, by the time I went home, got Peg, and came back, the door was gone.
Alas, I was stuck with the sterile white door!
What to do?

To match the old junk that I built my new shed from, I decided to transform the new door into old junk!

Really a quite simple process, if a bit time consuming, but art takes time...

Sanding The Brand New DoorClick on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

The first step in transforming the door into something I could live with was sanding off most of the white paint. This took less than an hour to accomplish. I left a little paint in the crevices of the stamped panels for character (or, out of laziness, whichever you'd prefer).

My plan was then to spray the unpainted metal door with a mixture of sea salt (from our condiments cupboard) and water, until it rusted to a nice reddish brown patina.

Detail Of The Sanded Door
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

What I hadn't anticipated, was that the steel under the white paint was galvanized, zinc coated to inhibit the formation of rust. Once I realized this, I had to spend many, many, more hours sanding off the stubborn galvanizing so the door would actually rust (nice stuff to breathe that zinc dust, but my beard doesn't accommodate a sanding mask very well).

Days later, once the door was rusting nicely (and my lungs were beginning to recover), I set the jamb and hung it in place. I installed a metal threshold, measuring the bottom clearance to make sure I had allowed enough room for the rubber seal to compress. Everthing looked like it would fit perfectly until I shut the door. It was a pretty tight fit at the bottom seal so I thought I'd open it back up and lube the rubber with some graphite.

But the door was stuck! I pushed & pushed, but the damned thing was frozen shut! Finally, I thrust all my 195 pounds against it with enough force to break the seal, which also peeled off the front metal skin to about six inches up from the bottom.
Hmmmmm! Now, how am I going to repair this disaster?

I got out the tin snips and raggedly trimmed about 1/4 inch off the bottom of the metal skin, screwing it back down with drywall screws.
Perfect!!! Just what my door needed, some authentic jury-rigged character borne of indomitable American ingenuity!

Almost Finished
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

Add some vintage porcelain enameled PG&E signs to the door, an old Cold War Fallout Shelter sign, and there you have it!

~The Chernobyl Door~

Just beautiful!!!
If I do say so myself...

I still have to distress (beat up with secret aging techniques) & paint the cheesy spliced jambs with some appropriate color, like flat olive drab or battleship gray, and, add a few more of my fence signs at the left of the door, but you get the idea.


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More Details...

1937 Ford Porchlight Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

I cut the front off a 1 gallon can of Star Olive Oil to use as a rain shield over the porchlight.

It worked perfectly during our big snowstorm keeping moisture away from the fixture, and the little 6.5 watt night-light.

A Locally Historic Fence SignClick on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

I clipped this sign, some 25 years ago, from a chain link fence around an abandoned industrial building near the old San Bernardino rail yards just before the place was demolished.

The address where this iron works business was located, 368 Third Street, is about 1/2 block east of the present San Bernardino County courthouse.

I don't know exactly how old this sign is (check out that phone number) but I did a search of Allen & Sons Iron works and found records of their existence in San Bernardino from the early 1880s through at least 1913.

Allen Iron Works built Hose Wagon Number 1 for the fledgling San Bernardino Fire Department back in 1890. The fire wagon has been restored and is now owned by the San Bernardino Historical And Pioneer Society (scroll down to the 6th image at this link to see hose Wagon #1). The beautifully restored wagon has participated in Pasadena's Rose Parade several times in recent years.

Allen Iron Works, an old blacksmithing outfit, is also listed as buying the first car ever sold by Carey's Fine Automobiles in 1913, a 1911 Buick.

Carey's Fine Automobiles is still in business today, in San Bernardino.

My guess is that this sign is from the very early years of the 20th Century.

A wonderful find.

Hula Girl Beer Tap Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

My friend Craig, who also cast the Ford script under the porchlight, is setting me up with the equipment I'll need so we can have craft beers on tap at the very local Earth Home Garden pub.

I found the Hula Girl Tap Handle on eBay.

One of these days you are likely to hear a chorus of off-key voices singing the words of John Prine right here at EHG.

Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian - ©1988 John Prine

Well I packed my bags and bought myself a ticket

For the land of the tall palm tree

Aloha old Milwaukee...
...Hello Waikiki
I just stepped down from the airplane...
...When I heard her say,
"Waka waka nuka licka, Waka waka nuka licka
Would you like a lei?"


Hey! Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian

Whisper in my ear

Kicka pooka mocka wa-wahini

Are the words I long to hear

Lay your coco-nutta on my tiki

What the hecka mooka mooka dear?

Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian

Say the words I long to hear

It's a ukulele Honolulu sunset
Listen to the grass skirts sway
Drinking rum from a pineapple
Out on Honolulu bay
Steel guitars are playing
While she's talkin' with her hands
Gimme gimme oaka doka make a wish I wanna poka
Words I understand
Hey... Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian
Whisper in my ear
Kicka pooka mocka wa-wahini
Are the words I long to hear
Lay your coco-nutta on my tiki
What the hecka mooka mooka dear?
Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian
Say the words I long to hear
Well, I boughta lotta junka with my moolah
And I sent it to the folks back home
I never had a chance to dance the hula
Well, I guess I should have known
When you start talking to the sweet wahini
Walking in the pale moonlight
Oaka noka whatta setta nocka-rocka-sis-boom-bockas
Hope I said it right
Oh... Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian
Whisper in my ear
Kicka pooka mocka wa-wahini
Are the words I long to hear
Lay your coco-nutta on my tiki
What the hecka mooka mooka dear?
Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian
Say the words I long to hear
Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian
Say the words I long to hear
The ornate cast iron piece to the right of the hula girl tap is part of an old treadle sewing machine base I found in a burned down homestead in a remote part of Topanga Canyon back in October of 1972. I've had it hanging on a wall somewhere ever since.

Need A Post Office Box?
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom
When the now defunct Bay Post Office in Boulder Bay at the west end of Big Bear Lake was decommissioned about 20 years ago I was given a couple of the old P.O. Box doors from the place. I was the window clerk there when the little substation in the Boulder Bay Market was shut down.
These beautiful old bronze castings make a nice addition to the Temple wall. I have the combinations and the boxes work perfectly after probably 70+ years of hard use.

If anyone knows the approximate time in postal history that this type of twin dial alphabetical combination box was made, I'd love to know.

My guess is that they are from the 1920s or '30s at the latest.

Old Window Framed And Installed
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom
I resurrected an old broken window from my very early days of stained-glass work and used it for the counter-window of the pub portion of my little multi-purpose room.
You can see a better picture of it here.

An Inside View
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom
A local contractor friend gave me some beautiful leftover 3/4 inch birch-faced plywood from a kitchen cabinet job, so I used it for the inside front wall.
Here you can see a little of the progress on the interior space but there is still much work to be done.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The First Dawn Of Winter

Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

This fleeting moment was captured at 6:52 this morning along Highway 18 between Big Bear and Lucerne Valley.

A couple of minutes later the sun disappeared behind the clouds leaving us with this golden memory to warm a gray and drizzly day.

A perfect beginning for winter.

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Winter Solstice...

...A Quiet Dinner In The Round
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

Peggy and I toast each other last evening, over a bayberry candle, in celebration of the Winter Solstice, before enjoying a simple home-cooked 'Dinner In The Round'.

In honor of the shortest day of our four seasons, the official beginning of winter, we prepared three dishes, 'in the round'.

Our spinach bacon quiché with hominy, olives, and salsa, was decorated with the pagan Solar Cross, formed of bacon. The Solar Cross, a cross within a circle, is an ancient design symbolizing the four seasons defined by the solstices and equinoxes.

We made cornbread with jalapeno peppers, corn, cheddar and jack cheese added to the mixture. The cornbread was also decorated with the Solar Cross, this time in thin strips of jalapenos.

The third round-dish was tostadas with refried blackbeans on corn tortillas buried beneath the fresh red and green yuletide colors of lettuce, tomato, avocado and salsa.

We also shared a bottle of Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir (2006) in honor of the human powered bicycles which have been our secondary mode of transportation for nearly 12 years now (our primary mode of transport is our feet).

The dinner was delicious and we very much enjoyed our quiet peaceful evening together.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008


~WINTER SOLSTICE~Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom
On this shortest day of the year, as we begin moving once again toward the warmth, light, and optimism of longer days, Peggy and I wish, for each of you, that the days and seasons of this new life-cycle will be tempered with compassion and progress toward peace among all the diverse people of the world.
And, as a species, that we will also deepen our understanding and appreciation of this beautiful planet, and the interdependence we share with so many other wondrous forms of life.
The window pictured above is the third stained-glass window I made, way back in 1974.
It is a small window, 11 1/2 x 15 inches, which has never before been installed in a frame, but was carted around in boxes for the past 34 years.
It's been dropped, bent, cracked, broken, and repaired several times, and, has now found a permanent home in my new tool-shed/workshop.
I was fresh out of my stained-glass window class when I built this from my very first original design.
I was still learning to solder and the window is a bit amateurish compared to my later work with glass, but I always liked the design, the colors, and the selections of glass I used in the piece.
I'm glad the window now has a home where I can enjoy it's bluesy, wintry, introspective illumination every day.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

The Beauty Of The Season...

...From Our Own Yard Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

The view eastward across our yard yesterday morning was breathtaking. How suddenly a landscape we have become accustomed to can be transformed by the magic of nature.

If you look closely, between the trees, you will see about six inches of our four foot high fence protruding from the snow.

Our Street - Robinhood Boulevard
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom
Looking east from in front of our place. The fence on the right is our 4 foot high chain link perimeter fence.

To The West

Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

The view down Robinhood to the west from in front of our place.

Our PlaceClick on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

From the street you can barely make out our little cabin snuggled beneath the snow-laden trees.

From The Deck Click on photo to enlarge -©2008 jim otterstrom

This photo was taken from outside the front door of our house.

Our Mountain Cabin In The Snow
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

Morning light filters through the trees onto our roof, as Dallas, on the deck there, wonders what I'm doing as I wander around pointing my little black box at things.

This photo was taken from the east side of the yard looking due west.

The 'Temple Of The Lost Civilization', and it's new addition, my tiny toolshed, workshop, pub, and fallout shelter, is directly behind where I was standing.

More pictures on the progress of that project coming soon.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Got Snow???

~We Certainly Do~
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

This is how it looked on our deck this at 3:57 this afternoon.

It's still snowing, with more on the way.

Just Beautiful!!!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Big Bear Snow 12-15-08

I shot this video from the living room window yesterday afternoon so I could share a couple of minutes of our snowstorm on the blog. I love the birds flitting from feeder to feeder, and the big Band-Tailed Pigeon making its entrance at he very end.

By this morning we had a total of about 14 inches of snow, transforming Big Bear into the Winter Wonderland it should be at this time of year.

The song, Beauty, was written and performed by our dear friend Kenny Hamsley, from his 'Georgia Boy' CD which I produced back in 2003, a few years before Kenny died.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Earth Home Garden at 2:15 PM Today
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

Nearly 12 Inches And Still Falling
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Peggy is falling asleep...

Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

...goodnight all

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We Are All One...

...each life but a moment in time
the pollen of the flower
the milk of the breast
the sperm
the egg
the seed of the future
from the passion of the past...
LOVE IS Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

The image is a scan that was then Photoshopped a little bit (I finally got around to scanning a body part).


The shell fossil was a birthday gift from my friend Cheri; the hand belongs to me (for the moment); the moon, Jupiter, and Venus were borrowed from the internet, and the stars are but dust on the scanner glass.

The thoughts are mine...


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Monday, December 08, 2008

December 1st, 2008

Stanfield Marsh - 7:42 A.M.
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

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