Tuesday, October 30, 2007

'Twas In Another Lifetime...

...a world of free-spirited primal-dancing flower children
Click on photo to enlarge - © 1972 jim otterstrom
"Happiness runs in a circular motion,
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea."
Donovan Leitch
From the children's round 'Happiness Runs' on Donovans 1969 Barabajagal album.
A Dear Old Friend - Cheryl - Agoura, California 1972Click on photo to enlarge - © 1972 - jim otterstrom
Check out those sexy skin-tight hip-huggers and that chicken bone necklace!
Still lookin' fantastic Cheryl!
This was taken just about the time we were all beginning to face the fact that the '60s really were over, but some of us will never give up.

I rediscovered the negatives for the monochrome pictures below in a throwaway box sometime last year, with a bunch of other 'bad' negatives from 35 years ago that somehow never got thrown away.
Instead, they sat around in hot, or cold, leaky storage sheds & attics all these decades, gaining age and character like good vintage wine.
These particular gems were all taken with and old Zeiss Ikon camera I found in a secret compartment hidden beneath the floorboards of a little shack where I once lived in the '60s.
The camera used 2 1/4 X 2 1/4 (medium format) film and took very nice photos when it worked properly, which it rarely did. Something was amiss with the film advance mechanism so the great majority of the pictures came out as partial double exposures, like the sepia-toned photos below and the still-life at the top.
You can easily make out the double exposures in the pictures, which is why the negatives ended up in the junk box. But the passage of time has a way of making junk more valuable and now I consider these to be priceless artifacts.
The two monochrome negatives were so deteriorated from exposure to extreme elements; heat, cold, dust, dirt, abrasion and moisture, that I all I could do was smooth them out in Photoshop enough to make them legible.
The color transparencies above, of Cheryl, and the still-life of the window, were found in a different box. They didn't fare much better over the years, and also required considerable manipulation to get a usable picture. I used Photoshop brush & watercolor effects to cover scratches and age spots in the emulsion.
For me, these images capture a much more hopeful & free-spirited time and place, where money didn't matter because there wasn't any. A simpler time, where life was lived for the joy of it. We had nothing in those days, but we arranged that nothing beautifully, decorating our lives with the cast-off junk of the wasteful world around us.
The distasteful world of war, racism, violence, hate, greed, consumption and competition for the almighty dollar, a world we were attempting to reject.
Our communities, and our very lives, became an experimental art form in search of love, peace, and freedom. And, for awhile, we thought the world was changing, and that we might live out those sweet idealistic lives.
We were mistaken.
To those who weren't fortunate enough to be there, this may look like poverty, but anyone who truly lived & breathed the 1960s counter-culture will recognize something in these photos, and be reminded of how very much we've lost...
...of our innocence, our joy, and our optimism.
During the 35 years since these pictures were taken, every incremental increase in the material wealth & convenience, now being enjoyed by the privileged few of our richer countries, has come at a very great cost to freedom, democracy, human rights, and the natural diversity of Earth.
Billions of human beings suffer needlessly today because of our gluttony, greed, and indifference.
And much more of the planet now resembles a pigsty than a living garden.
~We have literally sold our souls~

Cheryl's Living Room
Click on photo to enlarge - © 1972 jim otterstrom
Cheryl's daughter Olwen at the Triunfo Canyon house where they lived for several years. This is the same window in the picture above.
Click here if you haven't seen the 'Grandfather Frog Gets A Ride' photo I took in Olwens room, later on in my Nikon era.
Cheryl's Kitchen
Click on photo to enlarge - © 1972 jim otterstrom
So what went wrong with the counter-culture?
Partly, it was our own success...
We were having a hugely positive effect by influencing societal & governmental change, in forcing issues like civil-rights, the Viet Nam War, and the environment to the forefront of public debate.
Our highest values were being strongly represented by the media outlets of TV, magazines, newspapers, and most effectively, FM radio, and, we could hear our own voices resounding in many political speeches of the day.
...and partly it was the naive recklessness of being young.
We were just kids, photogenic, hedonistic, and obviously reveling in our youthful sexuality. So Hippies became the sensational media darlings of the time (somewhat like the Paris Hiltons' and Britney Spears' of today) which sent millions of kids running off to join what was being inaccurately hyped as one big naked love-in of sex & drugs.
And then there were the so-called LSD gurus, lime-light seeking publicity-whores such as Timothy Leary, who especially contributed to the circus-like atmosphere that would overshadow a once creative, democratic, and highly participatory social movement, but I believe these problems could've been overcome with time, experience, and maturity.
Social consciousness, an unabashed passion for life, thumbing our noses at convention, and courageously speaking truth to power was the initial charm of our generation, which also spawned a large back-to-the-land culture.
As the movement grew larger, so did the excesses, until we were becoming caricatures of ourselves. I began to suspect things were unraveling in other ways too, when I started seeing peace signs, gods eyes, and ankhs for sale at big chain stores. Corporate America had discovered there were $$$ to be squeezed out of Hippies after all. We were being commercialized, turned into a commodity for sale.
But, in my opinion, the final death knell of the '60s social movement, our own cultural 9/11, was the infamous Manson Family (They weren't a family---and they certainly weren't flower children---they were a gang of drug-addled thugs who preyed upon Hippies.)
Once this psychopathic ex-convict unleashed his 'family' of mental cases upon the world, the media wasted no time in portraying these depraved violent lunatics as a Hippie family.
The political/corporate establishment---who had been caught way off-guard by the strength and tenacity of our rebellious generation---was all over that like flies on shit, using fear, once again to mold the minds and emotions of the American people.
Hippies instantaneously became monsters, the terrorists of the day and our voices were silenced much like the voices of the few who would call for calm and reason in the revengeful war-mongering aftermath of 9/11.
Fear & hysteria prevailed, and within days of Manson's arrest I could feel the difference in my world.
Where just a few weeks earlier, grandmothers & little children would come up to me chatting and exchanging pleasantries, now, people I encountered in public would cringe and recoil, grabbing hold of their kids, who were sometimes asking if I was part of the Manson Family.
Fear and hatred became palpable, you could almost taste it, like Arab-Americans (or followers of Islam anywhere) certainly must since September of 2001.
There's no limit to the societal damage and hateful destructiveness that can be perpretrated upon the world, simply by making sure people are very afraid...
Ironically, the prototypical flower child troubadour, Donovan, released his Barabajagal album (top photo) on August 11th of 1969, just 5 days before the Manson gang was arrested for their horrific murderous rampage.
It would be Donovans last highly popular album. The vibe had changed, the feeling was gone.
PEACE & LOVE went out of style.
A generations message of Universal Love was recast into one of Universal Fear.
'Tricky Dick' Nixon was the newly elected President, Alvin Tofflers 'Future Shock' was about to be published, and the world was on its way to where it is now.
"What became of the changes we waited for love to bring?
Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?"
Jackson Browne
From 'The Pretender'
As long as I'm quoting Jackson Browne, here's one of my all time favorite songs, a sort of requiem for the '60s...
Before The Deluge
Some of them were dreamers
And some of them were fools
Who were making plans and thinking of the future
With the energy of the innocent
They were gathering the tools
They would need to make their journey back to nature
While the sand slipped through the opening
And their hands reached for the golden ring
With their hearts they turned to each other's hearts for refuge
In the troubled years that came before the deluge
Some of them knew pleasure
And some of them knew pain
And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered
And on the brave and crazy wings of youth
They went flying around in the rain
And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered
And in the end they traded their tired wings
For the resignation that living brings
And exchanged love's bright and fragile glow
For the glitter and the rouge
And in the moment they were swept before the deluge
Now let the music keep our spirits high
And let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal it's secrets by and by
By and by--
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky
Some of them were angry
At the way the earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
And they struggled to protect her from them
Only to be confused
By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour
And when the sand was gone and the time arrived
In the naked dawn
Only a few survived
And in attempts to understand a thing, so simple and so huge
Believed that they were meant to live, after the deluge
Now let the music keep our spirits high
And let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal it's secrets by and by
By and by--
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky
Jackson Browne
I am currently reading Naomi Kleins 'The Shock Doctrine - The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism'.
And last night we watched the DVD 'Ralph Nader - An Unreasonable Man'
Very good stuff for those of you who might be wondering 'whatever became of Democracy'?
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.
The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Homey In The 'Hood On Sunday Morn....... Four Pictures Of Today

~LONG OVERDUE PROJECT~ Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

We've been sporadically working on this 'TOP SECRET' project for months so I've decided to de-classify it, making it available through our own sort of Public Information Act!

This is a gift for family members, and their baby boy, who was born back on January 11th!

I'm off to visit them by train next week and their gift still won't be finished! That's why I'm posting this now, so at least they know we really are working on something for them, and maybe as a bit of motivation for us too.

The project is a crib-sized quilt (if the baby grows up before we finish it maybe they can use it as a wall hanging) made in the same design & colors as a stained glass window I made for my parents almost 30 years ago (click here to see a photo of the window).

The above photo shows my part of the project, cutting out the paper patterns for the applique parts, and then tracing them onto the cloth and cutting the fabric pieces out.

For the pattern I printed out a full-size image of the design from our computer onto 28 sheets of heavy 8 1/2 X 11 paper stock and taped them all together.

~PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER~Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

Here's who does the real work!

The rectangular background panels have already been stitched together with charcoal bias tape added to define the seams, as the lead came would in an old window.

That was the easy part!

Now Peggy is assembling the 121 elements (plus batting & bias tape) for the applique portion of the quilt.

The vine, leaf, and floral parts will be applied over the background with extra layers of cotton batting to give dimensional relief. The white flower parts, and the green leaves, will have two extra layers of batting, and the stems one. All the applique pieces must also be bordered with charcoal bias tape.

Peggy is well-skilled with a sewing machine, but we aren't quilters, and this is a challenging experiment for us, making things up as we go along.
I'm hoping a little home-made treasure from one branch of the family can be extended to another part of the tree. So let's hope this thing comes out OK, because we're on the spot now.
It looks good so far...

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

Our winter beds of greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, beets-for greens, and some green onions) are well-established now, but, for the first time ever, we had to replant the original seedbeds because European Starlings descended upon the place and devoured the first planting as soon as they sprouted. We haven't had Starlings here until the past couple of years but now they're over-running the joint. So I fabricated these cages from rabbit wire, solving that problem, and they keep out the ground squirrels too, who have also moved into the neighborhood in the past two years.

We've already been using some of the baby spinach!

The plants will go dormant when the weather gets extremely cold, but we'll have early greens peaking up through the snow (let's hope we get snow) as early as January or February. A heartwarming sight!

~HAZY SUNDAY SUNRISE~ Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

For those of you wondering about the fire situation, here's a picture from about 7 A.M. today looking west toward the fire. Beyond that little peak to the far left, fires are still burning, with some containment reported on a few fronts. We are still not in any immediate danger, and, as you can see, today we only have some light smoky haze hanging over the alley.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


7:30 A.M. Thursday
Click on photos to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

~A Smoky Morning Walk~
Peggy & Dallas, smiling through the smoke at 7:45 A.M.
We're all OK here!
Taking Flight In The Smoky Din
There wasn't enough light to really capture this Great Blue Heron taking flight but I like the image anyway.
The giant bird looks almost as awkward as the Sikorsky helicopter below. It's hard to believe either of them can actually fly.
I made the helicopter video below about 4:30 P.M. yesterday after riding my bicycle over to the airport and, by the time I got home, I was coughing and my chest was feeling a bit tight.
There was a lot of fine ash floating down, which doesn't seem as bad today.
Still very smoky though and you can imagine the noise around here with this steady stream of helicopters and fixed wing tankers.
Kind of like a war zone I imagine.
For friends and family that are concerned about what's going on here in Big Bear I'm posting some links to local news so you can stay updated.

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Sikorsky CH54B Helitanker

A Helitanker takes off from the Bear City Airport Wednesday afternoon after refueling. The crew will be dropping their 2400 gallons of water on the Slide Fire in Running Springs, maybe a 5 minute flight from here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Deceptively Serene...

...for the time being
Click on photos to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
Looking north across Stanfield Marsh

Big Bear was deceptively calm at 7:20 this morning considering that the raging 'Slide' & 'Grass Valley' fires are burning just about 20 miles west of here. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed in those mountain communities nearest to our valley. We have good friends in both the Running Springs and Lake Arrowhead areas and I hope they haven't lost their homes. Yet more homes are surely burning even as I post this picture of tranquility.

A View to the west from the same location
An ominous layer of dark smoke lies over the San Bernardino Mountains west of the Big Bear Dam where much destruction is occurring. Because of the Santa Ana winds that have been blowing from the northeast, fanning these fires, we have had smoke free blue skies here throughtout the firestorms but that may be about to change.

The Santa Ana's have died down now and we'll most likely return to our normal westerly winds which will bring the smoke directly into big Bear.

A Rising Plume
This shot was made 15 minutes later & a 1/4 of a mile farther west along the shore of the marsh.
A plume of smoke begins rising in the general direction of Lake Arrowhead and I suspect that before today is over Big Bear will be a very smoky place.

Hopefully we won't get any strong westerlies or we may be in trouble here.

Very large fires are burning right over there and last I heard they were zero percent contained.

See post below for an update

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A few hours later...

Smoke Moving Into Big Bear
Click on photos to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom

Six hours after the 3 previous photos were taken smoke has moved into our valley.
Anxiety levels in Big Bear will be on the rise for the next several days now unless there's some dramatic improvement in the fire situation.
Number 715
For days now a steady stream of fire-fighting helicopters has been coming and going from the Big Bear Airport, just a few blocks from our house, but the urgency becomes somewhat more apparent when the wind blows your way.

I took this picture at 1:38 P.M. today just a couple of hundred yards from my front door.
If you're watching the news about the fires you'll see number 715 dropping water on the Slide Fire in Running Springs, maybe 5 minutes from here by air.

As you can see the smoke hadn't reached the airport, or our house yet, but it's coming.
Ignore the posting time for this one, it was actually posted at 3 P.M., but I wanted it below the other pictures for continuity.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Six Days In September --- Mountains, Music, & Merryment --- 34 Pictures, with links...


September, 13th

MT. WHITNEY FISH HATCHERY Click on any photo to enlarge - all photos © 2007 jim otterstrom unless otherwise noted

Peggy and I went on vacation in September to the Eastern Sierras.

We rented a car---for the second time this year*---to visit friends in Independence, California.

Our friends, Brad & Amy, pictured below with their daughters, are wildlife biologists who live near this historic hatchery, built in 1917.

We arrived at their house shortly before noon and the girls immediately took off grocery shopping, so Brad & I had to entertain ourselves out in the back yard with beer, music, dogs, a few yarns, & the majestic Sierras as a backdrop.


*We rent a car between 2 & 4 times a year to visit friends, attend family gatherings, or just get away. We don't own one or use them in our daily lives.


Amy, Hannah, Claire, and Brad

Hatchery Pond

The hatchery pond is full of Rainbow Trout and sometimes Claire and Hannah get to feed the fish.

Claire & Hannah Pose
Among The Rocks Of 'Secret Valley'

On Friday, our first full day of Independence, Claire and Hannah wanted to take us on a hike to one of their favorite places, "Secret Valley".

On the trail to Secret Valley

Along the way to Secret Valley is an ancient dump containing priceless hidden treasures. Brad, Peg, and Claire head up the trail trying to catch up with Amy and Hannah, while Jim lags among the rusty old cans & broken bottles.

"Hold On Guys, I Could Use Some Of This Stuff!"

Peg & Jim's Treasure Trove

In just a few minutes we found and old whiskey bottle, two pieces of melted cobalt blue glass, the embossed bottom of a Sani-Clor bleach bottle, a piece of a fancy candy dish, and old perfume bottle stopper, a nicely rusted---pre pop-top---steel Lucky Lager beer can, and a metal California license plate tag from 1952, the year of Peggy's birth.

PRICELESS, I'm Tellin' Ya!!

~Entering Secret Valley~

As we entered Secret Valley, Gracie, the matriarch of our friend's three-dog pack, took a short cut, which led to my 'find of the day'.

The Remnants Of An Antique Electric Hotplate

photo by Amy

Thank you Gracie, for leading me to this great artifact I'll be adding to the collections of...

The Earth Home Botanical & Beer Gardens

~Last Outpost Museum~

& Temple Of The Lost Civilization.


Peggy takes in the view, looking south, from the other side of Secret Valley.

And Yes, The Sky Really Was This Blue
Looking back at boulders we climbed over on the hike out of Secret Valley.

Dallas, Cooling Off In Oak Creek
Frolicking & quenching his thirst for quite some time in this cool rushing Sierra snow melt, Dallas was reluctant to come out of the water, after our long warm hike. I'm glad I wasn't wearing that coat!

After our morning hike we drove a few miles south to the

Manzanar National Historic Site

A World War II Japanese Internment Camp

Manzanar has been partially restored and is now under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

Below is a description from the NPS website.

"The Manzanar Interpretive Center includes 8000 square feet of exhibits, a bookstore, and theaters which show the site's award winning 22-minute film, 'Remembering Manzanar'.

Extensive exhibits span a century of history, from 1885 to the present, with a focus on the World War II relocation and internment of Japanese Americans from the west coast.

Exhibits include a large scale model of Manzanar War Relocation Center crafted by former internees, historic photographs and audiovisual programs, and artifacts. A large graphic includes the names of over 10,000 Japanese Americans who spent all or part of World War II at Manzanar."

My camera batteries died on this heart-wrenching historical excursion so I have no pictures, but I'm adding several links below so you can read about the place.







September 14th, 15th, & 16th, 2007

We all had tickets for the 3-day, Inyo Council For The Arts, Millpond Music Festival in Bishop, California.

Peggy & I came to Millpond in 2003 on our way home from The Strawberry Music Festival just outside of Yosemite, and we loved it here.

This is the first chance we've had to come back.

Here's an accurately descriptive blurb from their website.
“Millpond Music Festival brings an eclectic and fine collection of traditional and contemporary music to one of the most intimate festival surroundings imaginable. Crossing ethnic and cultural lines in a celebration of life in all its diversity, you can immerse yourself in an exotic mix of world music, surrounded by the stunning mountains at autumn's first blush.”

There were 18 acts performing over 3 days, beginnng at 6 P.M. Friday, and ending about 9 P.M. Sunday. So much is going on at the festival that I didn't get pictures of all the performers, but some of our favorites are pictured below.

Other perfromers we liked included:







*Joe Craven is a wonderful wild man, just visit his website and put a smile on your face.


Ashley Broder & Jamie Laval

"Traditional Scottish, Irish, Bretagne and bluegrass music with innovative hints of classical refinement and ethnic music from around the world."
(read more at Ashley's website)

For us, this extremely talented Celtic duo was one of the highlights of Millpond this year.
We bought their great CD, Zephyr in the Confetti Factory, and Ashley Broder even posted my photo of them on her website.


David Tiller and Enion Pelter-Tiller, of TAARKA, create energetic magic with their "seismic gypsy hypno-jazz" on Saturday, following Ashley & Jamie, with another crowd-pleasing performance.

Saturday Night Jam At Nina's Camp

Nina (in lavender at the right), a friend of Brad & Amy's, plays her mandolin during a sweet little jam at her Millpond campsite on Saturday night. Some very good players dropped by to sit in.
At the left of the table in the background, you can see Peggy with Claire on her lap.

More players at Nina's Jam

Another view of Nina's jam, from the opposite side of camp, catches Brad playing some of his fancy guitar licks, just before the guy in the center, playing mandolin, started belting out some great vocals---and a fine yodeler he is too!

The Horse Flies

Rich Stearns, Judy Hyman, & Jeff Claus, of The Horse Flies

Composite photo by jim otterstrom

"A band that's earned a buzz ... The Horse Flies churn out swirling, addictive songs, blending tradition with invention." -- Rolling Stone

Peggy and I came to Millpond to dance, and The Horse Flies really delivered the groove with their driving, primal---almost trance-inducing---techno-bluegrass mind-bending rhythmic jams.


From 9 P.M. til after midnight we danced non-stop, which took us into the wee hours of Sunday, September 16th, our 28th Wedding Anniversary, and what a fantastic way to celebrate it!

Fellow Revelers Dancing To The Horse Flies

As you can see, everyone was having a helluva good time!

That's Nina again, on the left.

She hiked for 4 days, alone, out of Sequoia National Park to attend Millpond, and then hiked 4 more days back in again.


The Waybacks with Joe CravenThe closing act on Sunday night, still our Anniversary, was The Waybacks, a hot band of musical prodigies with dizzying chops. Another group that had everybody on their feet!

A Happy Blurry Peggy In Dance Mode
Just Before Sundown As The Waybacks Get Started
What can I say, it's hard to focus the camera when you're dancing.
That's Claire 'dancing' with Brad on the right.

What Is She Doing With That Guy?

~Love Is Blind~

Peg & Jim In Front Of The Waybacks
~photo by a thoughtful girl in the audience~


more adventures in nature On the way to Mount Whitney Road, and a day of hiking at the edge of the Golden Trout and John Muir Wilderness areas, Claire shows me and Dallas a cave that would be perfect for us to live in.
Good Find Claire! I'm Ready To Move In...
I think I even have a door to fit it!

A Little Farther Up The Road
We saw this beat up old Desert Tortoise on the shoulder, heading for the highway, so Amy very carefully moved it across the road so it wouldn't get run over.

WHERE WE WERE HEADEDThis sign was the end of the line for Dallas, he's not allowed in Wilderness areas.

Along the Way...

Peg & Claire on a log bridge

Hannah dropping pebbles in a pool...

Brad exploring nooks & crannies...

~Coming Back Down, After The Hike~
Looking Northeast toward Lone Pine...
...and no, we're not in an airplane!

An adventure in itself...

...but then came


One of the most breathtaking places I've ever seen.
I''ll be coming back to this spot with my camera, for maybe a week, just to explore & take pictures!
I love this photo, it's the new backgound on my computer screen.
And it's just how it came from the camera, no color enhancement.

The end of a long day...
...back at Brad & Amy's place


On The Way Home

A stop at Fossil Falls

~and then~

Back Home, Tuesday Afternoon, September 18th???

The sky was full of water-dropping helicopters...


photo by Jonny-the Computer Doctor

This is what had been going on in Big Bear while we were lost in bliss in the Eastern Sierra.
The town of Fawnskin, on the north shore, was still evacuated, but no homes were lost, and the fire was pretty much contained by that time.
Glad we missed it!
Sometimes Ignorance Is Bliss!

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