Making Sourdough Bread


Kathy Jenks (my partner at Mentoring Standard) and I discussed our current work projects on Thursday as Kathy taught my son Paul how to make sourdough bread. We have been growing the yeast in our San Jose kitchen for the last week. She used the book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman (2012) as a reference.

Paul is a skilled ceramicist and his current classes at San Jose State University include both raku ware pottery and metal work, so kneading and moulding a loaf then baking it came easily to him. Future loaves will have a more regular shape, I am sure, but these tasted wonderful!



Here are some of Paul’s recent art projects:


dragon 3 . dragon 14

tiki 2
Images copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson and Paul D. Goodman

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Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I had an accident while working on a home improvement project, which resulted in a 5 hour visit to the Good Samaritan Hospital (San Jose) Emergency Room.  We were lifting a big air filter in his workshop and it escaped our grasp.  I came home from the ER with a bruised left hand and seven stiches in my little finger. I am ridiculously right-sided but even so, it is hard working with one hand.  So far, the most difficult part of being unidextrous is washing on my right side and earning stabs of pain when I unthinkingly use my left hand.  The wages of clumsiness.


Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson


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Easter Egg Hunt 2015


Yesterday morning was our annual backyard Easter Egg Hunt – a very popular event among our friends, family, and neighbors. Children ages 9 months to 20 years joined the search for hundreds of plastic eggs filled with chocolate candies. For the adults, there were two specially hidden eggs: gold and silver. Only the following poems gave clues to their locations:

Silver Egg
(buried in the dirt under a stepping stone of the steps up the riverbank)

The stone above me keeps me in the dark.
I would glow like moonlight if I could be
found. But long you’ll search in vain to find me,
because no single quality in your
thub-thubbing heart will guide you to my home:
a canine drive to find me in the ground;
a gardener’s love of dirt; you can possess
no loathing of Jerusalem Crickets’
shy heads; you must be brave to stoop to find
me here. Small hunters may contain within
themselves advantage for they are quite close
to where I make my hidey-home. But look—
you’ll find me if you search closely and dare,
to seek by bark if you would find my lair.

Gold Egg
(tied to a young palm tree frond about ten feet above the ground)

Surrounding me is evidence of past
strong growth, for when my home came here it was
a child, with slender fronds and coiled roots.
But now! My home is tall and casts a shade
quite deeply on the stones beneath my feet.
They do not reach the kennel or the bank
for my tall perch is not yet fully grown.
A teenager provides me with both shade
and shelter from the never-ending drought.
My home is safe from desiccating years
for she was bred from stock that has survived
millennia on California’s dry shores.

Desiree and Dan found the Gold and Silver eggs eventually.  eleaThanks to the Associate Easter Bunny, my daughter Jessica for the poems (composed in Washington State), and thanks to Paul and John for helping create the festivities!  I love watching the children finding eggs in the garden to fill their baskets, then re-hiding eggs for each other after most of the eggs have been collected. A delightful celebration of new life and renewal!









Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Bardo: World Class Museum in Tunisia


If you have a list of things to do before you die, seeing the Bardo Museum in Tunis should be on it. On 15 March 2015, the TechWomen Tunisia Delegation visited the Bardo Museum as part of our orientation day before formal meetings started. Three days later, the Bardo sadly became famous for being the scene of a violent attack. I hope that this post contributes to understanding the Bardo as a world-class museum, a must-see destination on any educated person’s bucket list, rather than just another location for terrorism.

We saw one of the most famous ancient Roman mosaics of Tunisia before we got to the Bardo. The delegation paid homage to 2,841 US World War II military casualties buried at the North African American Cemetery and Memorial (Carthage, Tunis). In the reception area is the King of the Sea Poseidon in a seahorse chariot, over two plaques in English and Arabic saying:

Presented by Habib Bourguiba, First President of the Republic of Tunisia, to G. Lewis Jones, First American Ambassador to Tunisia (1956-1959) on the occasion of the latter’s departure.  Ambassador Jones in turn presented this exceptional work of art to the North Africa American Cemetery on the condition that it remain always in Tunisia.

One of the many charms of Tunisia is its remarkably well-educated population. Over and over during our trip to Tunisia, we heard tributes to First Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba for his wise leadership and reforms 1957-1987, which included (according to Wikipedia) “…female emancipation, public education, family planning, a modern, state-run healthcare system, a campaign to improve literacy, administrative, financial and economic organization….” The importance of Tunisia in history seems to be part of civic consciousness there. Reproductions of ancient Roman mosaics are common civic decorations – including a large Poseidon on the bottom of our hotel swimming pool and reproductions of Bardo tresaures on the walls of the Tunis airport. Mosaic panels are popular souvenirs in the local shops.

Entering the antiquities side of the Bardo Museum last week, the TechWomen were surprised to find ourselves walking on ancient mosaics – put to their original use as floor coverings. A depiction of two nude male boxers (complete with a spray of blood – just like in a video game!) gave us warning that we were entering a place of different sensibilities than modern Tunis. The Bardo features Christian mosaics as well as many celebrating the Roman pantheon. My favorite mosaic shows Venus being crowned by two well-developed female centaurs. Many Bardo mosaics present food-related themes – featuring fish, fishing, and hunting scenes (maybe originally installed in dining rooms?).

I was delighted to be followed by three little girls who, seeing me looking at two large statues wrapped in tarps, gently moved the fabric off of the stone faces so that we could see who was inside. It is worth a trip to North Africa just to visit the Bardo Museum!












Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson


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Camels and Crafts in Tunisia


When the TechWomen Tunisia Delegation was not touring, or eating, or meeting with remarkable STEM women and girls, we did some shopping and camel riding.  The 16 March Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) – Entrepreneurship and Social Media Training included a reception with craft vendors.  After the sad and scary Bardo Museum attack on 18 March 2015 in Tunis caused an early end of our formal Delegation meetings, most of the Silicon Valley delegates stayed very close to the hotel before our flights home. Luckily, there were camel rides on the beach and a Carrefour market and small shops nearby.  At the Carrefour, we bought Tunisian honey, olive oil, harissa spice, and other delicacies. I also found some date candy and date syrup at the Tunis airport, so I was able to bring small gifts home.







Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Tunisia Delegation – Short but Excellent


The TechWomen Tunisia Delegation ended early due to the violence at the Bardo Museum in Tunis on 18 March 2015. Twenty-four delegates from California’s Silicon Valley, plus four IIE San Francisco staff, our Washington DC representative from the US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the forteen TechWomen Fellows from Morocco, Lebanon, Algeria and Tunisia were sad for the families of those killed, and for the people of Tunisia.  Some of us took pictures on 19 March holding a sign saying “We Love You Tunisia – We Will Be Back”.

We were sorry that we could not continue our inspiring meetings with technical girls and women but it seemed wise to go home sooner than scheduled.  Before the tragic attack that lead to 21 deaths in one of the world’s great museums, we were able to tour (including an afternoon at the Bardo on 15 March), and connect with remarkable leaders in STEM:

Thanks to our TechWomen Fellows in Tunisia who made these meetings possible, including: Ameni Channoufi (Service Manager, PKI operations), Amel Ghoulia (Bioinformatician – Institut Pasteur de Tunis), Olfa Khelifi (Maya Organization President and Founder), and Ines Nasri (Owner, Web Power).  Due to the early end to the TechWomen Tunisia Delegation on 18 March, we were not able to participate in Tunisia Digital Day at Cite des Sciences in Tunis; however, some of the TechWomen who were scheduled to speak recorded messages for playback at the event on 19 March. I was happy to be able to distribute all 12 of the Notable Technical Women posters and 30 decks of cards to schools and educators in Tunisia (and Algeria) before I left. Other TechWomen delegates also left their educational materials. We will continue our communications with the impressive technical leaders of Tunisia now that we are home.

The Lufthansa strike made it very difficult to get home earlier. Many of us (finding that there was a two hour phone wait to try to arrange itinerary changes – if calls went through at all) abandoned our original flights and bought new tickets.








Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Wonderful Tunisian Food


Since arriving in Tunis on Friday, I have had two excellent Tunisian meals (and too much disappointing hotel “food”). The first memorable meal was lunch at a small roadside restaurant where we ate grilled lamb and chicken spiced with rosemary, with a salad of roasted green peppers with olives, and Khobz Tabouna bread.

Last night, a group of us were lucky enough to be invited to dinner at the Tunis home of the gracious and generous TechWomen Alumna Ameni Channoufi who served us

  • green pepper salad with olives, egg, and tuna
  • fresh crusty baguette-shaped bread
  • mixed green salad with vegetables and meat
  • couscous with vegetables and lamb and egg and garbanzo beans and raisins
  • lamb frittata (called a tagine – but very different from the Moroccan dish of that name)
  • fruit and sweets
  • green tea with mint and pine nuts

Delicious! I am looking forward to tasting more lovely dishes during my week here with the TechWomen Delegation (but I am avoiding the tasty but very hot red harissa chili pepper paste).









Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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