Friday, February 26, 2010


Click on photo to enlarge - © 2010 jim otterstrom

On February 26, 2005 I sat down at the computer and created Earth Home Garden out of thin air, and now 5 years have passed and this is my 659th post.

In many ways the blog is not what I had envisioned back then but it has also become something far more personal and meaningful for me than I could've imagined.

Earth Home Garden was conceived as a place where Peggy and I could share our ongoing experiments with living more self-reliant sustainable lifestyles---something we've had in common since we first met 30 some years ago---which we started focusing on more acutely over the past twenty years.

As it reads in our Blogger profile, "Earth Home Garden represents what we love in life; our bountiful planet, Earth, and all her natural diversity; our cozy little cabin Home, and the family it has sheltered for 29 years; and the Garden around us which nurtures so many native creatures and helps feed us as well".

So my intent was to write here specifically about nature, homesteading & food production on a small property; about do it yourself home maintenance, crafting and sewing; and about moving toward a salvage based personal economy where what we acquire is mostly used, second-hand, or recycled, whether it be household items or other materials. And, I have posted quite a bit on those topics.

However, it didn't take long for me to realize that Earth Home Garden also represents something more than that, because, also involved, is my oddball decision making process which has driven me to wholeheartedly embrace big changes in our lives, such as living car-free.
An innate sense that we are one with the earth (and the entire cosmos for that matter) tells me that what happens to our ecosystem also happens to me (and to those I love). Therefore my perception of our culture, and the world around me, is highly subjective, and I strive to make decisions accordingly. I've often been advised to be more objective but I believe, as author Barry Lopez suggested, that "the objectification of everything non-human" is what has allowed us to treat our world with such callous impersonal disregard.

Consequently, Earth Home Garden also became a place for me to bare my radical ecologist soul, and vent my frustration with the omnipresent destruction of all that which I hold so dearly.

Surprisingly enough, I've received as many enthusiastic or supportive comments on my sociopolitical diatribes and rants as I have on photos of nature & wildlife, or posts about pine-needle basketry, acorn processing, and gardening, etc., and I've made far more than a few friends here who I feel very close to.

For the past month I'd been contemplating ending Earth Home Garden with today's post, but after reviewing all the pictures, and some of the posts, I realize how much I still enjoy doing this when I find the time and energy.

Still, I must say, writing is like pulling teeth for me, it hurts until all the words are out there...

I love reading well written words, and I've learned over the years that those words are never going to come easy for me, but I'm often strongly affected by images---the fun part of blogging which I truly enjoy---so most of my posts are inspired by a picture. Somehow, when I look at an image that interests me, the words start coming along easier. It's why I became interested in photography in the first place I guess, so I might be able to express my thoughts or feelings with some clarity of focus.

I have my camera with me constantly and there are times, when the light is right and my head is clear, that everything is photogenic to me, and then several days may go by when nothing looks interesting at all. Because of this reality, I began going through my old photos, slides, and artwork to find material for blogposts when I'm not otherwise feeling inspired or creative.

For me, this happy accident of a method has added a depth to Earth Home Garden that weaves today, and sixty four years ago, together into an ever-evolving artful record now spanning much of my life.

And blogging in this way has reconnected me with many old friends and created new opportunities in my life, and the lives of my kids too. Our daughter is now living in Santa Barbara, working on a boat there, and attending college, partly because of a friend I reconnected with after posting some old pictures and stories on the blog.

Something else I've learned while blogging is that any kind of preconceived continuity is almost impossible to maintain because, "life is what happens while you're busy making plans", and some of the constant disruptions and distractions which come along can be long term life changing events for an entire family, such as the car accident our son was in 4 1/2 years ago that left him legally blind.

And, like everyone else alive these past five years, we've had much to deal with; family members battling cancer; my stepfather passing away from complications due to Alzheimer's Disease; our kids struggling in today's economy.

We've had the kids and their significant others, including the dogs, staying with us on several occasions. We have friends & neighbors in similar situations, or in economic dire straits, or with health problems, but much of this doesn't go on the blog because people don't want their lives made that public.

Then there's the normal social obligations of having friends, of being part of a neighborhood, and a community, and when you add all that to the everyday responsibilities of caring for your property, your gardens, your animals, and each other, it's often hard to make time for blogging, which is why this is my first post in almost a month. And why I'm often negligent too at responding to comments or checking in with my blog friends.

Once again, I apologize for that.

Still, all things considered, when I look at the mere 100 pictures (out of more than 700 posted thus far) which make up the composite photo above, and think about all the posts they inspired, about the lives, memories, and collective span of time they represent, I'm truly astounded that I've managed to post almost seven times that much content here in this brief but tumultuous 5 years.

My, how time flies when we're having fun!

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Blogger canyon naturalist said...

Peggy, Jim, Hi!Reading all you've been through-wow. It's amazing how time truly does fly!
Your blog is awesome-and a great way for us to keep up with you two(in between Xeriscape Tours!)-
PLEASE don't end it!
~ m.m.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Madcap said...

Glad you're still here, and I CAN'T BELIEVE it's been 5 years! Holy smokers! Where did the time go?!

6:48 AM  
Blogger CG said...

we love you just the way you ARE!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Val said...

I am glad I wandered by a while back, and that I will be able to continue to admire and enjoy and be inspired. Happy Annivesary!

9:07 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Such a beautiful post, Jim. And yes to everything you write here. We started our blog a few weeks earlier than Earth Home Garden with the same intentions and fervor. I also did not know that a photograph would spur and stir me to words more than almost anything else. Just now I came into the house, after standing in the middle of a quiet country road photographing the setting sun.

We have grown quiet on our blog too while life and time swirl around us. These are the days we are living in, always hoping and dreaming that something good will come of it all.

Keep writing and photographing. We will too. It's like a blogging commune!

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on 5yrs! I've been reading your blog for about 2yrs and not sure if I've commented but now I have. Keep up the blogging with all your rants and beautiful pictures.


6:40 PM  
Blogger roger said...

well said. congrats on the 5 years. you can tell by the frequency of my posts how hard it is for me to squeeze out words coherently. we hope to soon get back on track with homesteading.

8:12 AM  
Blogger DennisP said...

I greatly empathize with you about writing. I always wonder "Where is the next sentence going to come from? Now what do I say? What am I actually writing about?" Each sentence seems like a terribulous struggle.

But when I'm finished, I look back at the whole thing and wonder "Where did I pick up this diarhea of the keyboard?"

4:05 PM  
Blogger clairesgarden said...

I love your photography and rants both equally well! happy blogversary!

12:09 AM  
Anonymous kiwi said...

Congratulations on the 5 years Jim & Peggy. In a crazy world you're a refreshing reminder of what's really important.....and sometimes what's not! Thank you for that!

1:22 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

I'll settle for one post a month. sorry that writing is painful for you, because it doesn't show!

4:45 AM  
Blogger jules said...

I've been blessed to make your acquaintance these past many years ago. I enjoy reading what you have to say, and your photos, no matter how long between posts.

Happy Bloggiversary! Please keep it up!

1:45 PM  
Blogger Birsen Şahin said...

happy blogversary and thanks for all fantastic photos jim and peggy; ı'm always having good time, whenever ı drop by

11:00 AM  

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