Wednesday, September 16, 2009


...30 Years TodayClick on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom
Peg and I are celebrating our 30th Anniversary today.
And just how are we celebrating it?
By immersing ourselves in the common everyday beauty of our simple fragile lives, by taking an early morning walk with our beloved Dallas, and, by sharing a delicious home-cooked breakfast together out on the junk-shop patio before we get back to work painting the house and cleaning up the yard in preparation for winter...
To live a life of voluntary simplicity, "Simple in Means, but Rich in Ends", to borrow a phrase from the Deep Ecology movement, has been our goal for many years, and our commitment to that ideal strengthens with each passing day.
Extravagance and consumerism are not habits either of us find attractive, sustainable, or rewarding, but we did purchase a gift for ourselves which is in harmony with what we've accomplished thus far in our lifestyle changes.
Peggy has been researching Haybox Cooking and I've decided to build one for us in the very near future. So we bought ourselves a new Lodge cast iron 5 quart Dutch Oven (regularly $43.99, on sale for $26.99, with free shipping) which will be ideal for use with a Haybox.
Thirty Years...
...and you got Peggy a dutch oven???
Exactlioto Quasimoto, Peggy is the frugal one in our household, and I would've been in hot water had I gone out and squandered a wad of money on some lavish gift. Peggy is extremely down to earth and I really love that about her.
Remember, it was her idea to get rid of the car almost 13 years ago.
Thank goodness, because I wouldn't be the least bit interested in, or compatible with, a 'Material Girl'.
And tonight, after the day's work is finished, we'll be enjoying a nice hot bath together, a little massage, and then, who knows???

...another anniversary gift

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom
Shortly before 7 A.M., during our walk this morning, three Great Blue Herons were congregating near the footbridge, two of them sitting on the railing. As we approached I was taking pictures and two of the giant birds flew off before I was close enough for a good shot. But this one here allowed me to get within 12 feet or so, staying there for a good long time while I snapped pictures and Peggy & Dallas looked on.
It's rare for a heron in the wild to allow a human to get this close, let alone two humans with a big black dog.
A gift indeed!!!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Painting The House...

...I spent much of today on this ladder Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 peggy otterstrom

The past several days we've been prepping and painting the house in between our other activities around here. We're hoping to have the whole thing done before the weather turns on us.

It was 25° F on our back porch this morning, but the tomatoes, eggplant & squash are doing fine in the greenhouse thus far, and the vegetables growing outside are relatively cold tolerant.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Yesterday's Tomatoes...

Home Grown & Vine-Ripened
Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

We got a late start on our tomatoes this year but they're coming on strong now. These were all started from seed by Peggy, and the varieties shown are Super Sweet 100, Yellow Pear, and Early Girl. We have several other varieties too including a couple of heirlooms, Black Krim, and Cherokee Purple, which should be ripening very soon.

It's starting to cool off here now but the tomatoes are all in the greenhouse and should be fine, at least through September.

The beautiful weaving under the bowl of tomatoes is one of a pair of chenille placemats woven for us by our friend Judyl (see Santa Barbara trip here) on her loom.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Whimsical Nostalgia Junk Chimes...

...rust never sleeps Click on image to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

Tinkering around in my nearly completed junk-shop I was inspired to put together these wind chimes from more of my junk collection.

While removing an old hole saw from my electric drill recently I bumped the edge of the blade into something noticing that it rang out with a beautiful clear tone.

I have dozens of these old saws, of various sizes, rusting away in a box, so I had a great time digging them out and clanging 'em all together to hear their various tones, thus the idea for this wind chime was born.

For the following week or so Peggy and I were picking up every picturesque tin-can & lid we saw lying by the roadside and she also found the lovely bit of barbed wire & the old spring hanging there.

I went through our collection of beach glass from a vacation with the kids in Fort Bragg over two decades ago, finding the shell, a bottle neck, and some old ceramic pieces from electrical devices.

I strung a bunch of old dog tags, from our dear-departed pets of the past, together on a chain, an old metal California license plate tag from the year of Peggy's birth, and old brass Post Office registry cage chit, with the number 14 on it, the day of the month on which I was born.

There's an old pocket watch cover with my initials, a gift from Peg on our 10th Anniversary, which I used daily until the cover broke off (we're celebrating our 30th in 10 days).

Add some glass beads, a few old reflectors, some spinners from the tackle box, and some rusty old bailing wire, and there you have it.

I did buy some thin steel cable to suspend the whole mess from the beaded rack of manzanita wood at the top (see picture below).

I looped the cables through a pair of holes in each saw, fastening them together with aluminum cable ferrules. Suspending the hole saws in that manner allows them to ring without the tone being deadened.

The wind chimes now hang over the table on our beer garden patio, gently swaying in the breeze to play their soft clear song.

Rust never does sleep, especially around our place.

~Entire Wind Chime~ Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tool-Shed/Workshop/Studio/Beer-Garden Nearing Completion

Front Entrance & West Facing Beer Garden Patio
Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom
All summer long we've been enjoying our meals out here on this cozy little patio decorated with the recycled artifacts of the lost (Mid-Twentieth Century) civilization I grew up in.

South Facing Wall With Big WindowClick on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

I just finished siding the north and south walls of the shed, the day before yesterday, then painted the recycled window olive drab.

The siding on these walls all comes from four 10 foot long sections of weathered picket fence we salvaged from a neighbor several years ago when he replaced it with chain link. I still have three more 10 foot sections for some future project.

This beautiful wood was either going to be kindling for a fireplace or would've ended up at the county landfill.

The big window came from an old lodge up here that was being remodeled some decades ago and fitted with new windows. I got several of them free of charge, just for hauling 'em away, and they've been used here over the years as tomato hot-houses and even a temporary home for baby chicks once. I have at least two more of these I'm saving for a garden potting-shed.

North Facing WallClick on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

On this wall I staggered the old fence pickets randomly, using as many of the original nail holes as possible and then drilling new holes where they were needed.

The very old marble-reflector porcelain-on-steel DETOUR sign was given to me by a friend & neighbor some years ago.

Workbench Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

As you might guess, I spend a lot of time out here now tinkering around with my various hobbies & crafts. Again, most everything here was built from scrap, salvaged wood, or recycled junk. The 'carvings' at each side of the window are from an old piece of junk furniture we dismantled (I have 3 more of them too).

The workbench and ceiling are from salvaged wood, and the wall around the window is covered with empty seed packets used in our vegetable garden, which I adhered to the wall then tinted with amber shellac. The trim by the ceiling is recycled wiggle-board.

The small stained-glass windows hanging there were the first two windows I made, for a stained-glass class I took way back in the early 1970s. The tulip design was made from a very simple beginner's pattern.

Beer Wall Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

As some of you may be aware, we have several friends who get together now and then to enjoy the many delicious craft beers being brewed these days, so, just for fun, I decorated the back wall of the shed with nearly 100 different beer carton graphics, giving them the same amber shellacked finish as the seed packets.

These are the actual cardboard six-pack (or four-pack) cartons which I cut out and pieced together one by one. They were mostly donated to me by my beer drinking buddies, Bill and Denny (thanks guys), but I've had just about every one of these beers over the years. Ohhhh, and so many more!

They make an appropriate addition to the workshop considering that the adjoining patio is the beer garden which will be served by the tap in the front wall, starting on September 27th, when we will be christening the joint with keg of good beer and a shrimp-kabob barbecue.

Jim In His Workshop/Studio This MorningClick on photo to enlarge - © 2009 peggy otterstrom

Peggy took this shot of me in the studio about 8:45 this morning, a quite common sight around here now.

I have a just little more work to do inside, finishing up trim on the interior west wall.

Click here, here, & here, to see older posts of the beginning and evolution of the project...

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