Category Archives: Home & Family

Good Year for Cactus

Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and terrible air quality, my cactus garden has been happy this year. Several species which usually only flower once a year have bloomed again. The local honeybees are delighted to roll around in the pollen of huge flowers. There was enough prickly pear cactus fruit that my daughter Jessica made syrup from it, and John made pancakes to celebrate!

More on the WP668 railroad caboose.
Updated 21 Oct 2020.

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Four Family Clocks

We have four old family clocks, two of which work and one of which chimes. The sound of the two ticks and the chimes fills our downstairs with small comforting noises, even when everyone is silently interacting with their computing devices. The clocks keep time but not with each other. It is somewhat like how Terry Pratchett describes the clocks in his fictional city of Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld,

“Noon in Ankh-Morpork took some time, since twelve o’clock was established by consensus. Generally, the first bell to start was that one in the Teachers’ Guild, in response to the universal prayers of its members. Then the water clock on the Temple of Small Gods would trigger the big bronze gong. The black bell in the Temple of Fate struck once, unexpectedly, but by then the silver pedal-driven carillon in the Fools’ Guild would be tinkling, the gongs, bells and chimes of all the Guilds and temples would be in full swing, and it was impossible to tell them apart, except for the tongueless and magical octiron bell of Old Tom in the Unseen University clock tower, whose twelve measured silences temporarily overruled the din. And finally, several strokes behind all the others, was the bell of the Assassin’s Guild, which was always last.” (Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms, 1993).

The Junghans chiming mantle clock was a wedding present in 2000 from John’s parents. It was purchased by John’s great-grandfather Johannes Plocher in Holzhauzen, Germany. Joannes and his wife Anna gave it to their son (John’s grandfather), Karl on his wedding Adelia, in 1930. I love the art deco design on the clockworks inside the case.

I bought the Gilbert wall clock in 2008 as a birthday present for John. The clock itself is from about 1915. The Western Pacific glass is not original but is one of the reasons we like it, since we own WP668, a Western Pacific caboose. John winds up his Junghans and Gilbert clocks every week.

The two clocks which have stopped working are from my family. One is a gilt metal Rococo style clock that my father’s mother, Gladys Grace Oakes Dickinson, loved. The other is an ornate horseman clock that my mother, Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, had since I was young. Surprisingly, even though they are from different parts of my family, both were made by the New Haven Clock Company, probably over a hundred years ago.

Web search results showing many horse-only New Haven Clocks

Update: I have been looking for more information about the New Haven Clock with the ornate warrior horseman figure. I found that a version of this clock with the exact same horse but no rider is relatively common. All of the versions I have found on the web have a top piece above the clock that is missing on ours. Sometimes the horse is on the right and sometimes on the left of the clock on the pedestal. I still have not found an exact match. My Aunt Louise Creekmore Senatore read my blog and wrote that her father (my grandfather), Robert Elmond Creekmore, was once its owner in Knoxville, Tennessee, “the Ornate Horseman clock was on my Dad’s bureau for years when I was a child. It traveled with us to Windgate (1964), stayed on his bureau, and Eleanor asked Mom for it when Dad passed away (1976).”

I found this tiny, blurry thumbnail photo on the web of a gilded variant of our clock but it is on a dead website. Still hunting for more information!

New Haven Gilt Clock, horseman figure

(None of these clocks is for sale – please do not ask.)

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Updated 20 Oct 2020

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Fabric from Africa

Face masks, fabric from Sierra Leone

Since we are sheltering in place during the Covid-19 lockdown, and I have a new machine, I have been sewing. In particular, I have had time to use some of the sophisticated and beautiful wax print fabrics I carried home from 11 trips to Africa since 2010. Some of it has become face masks and some curtains. My dining room is now bright with potato print tablecloths featuring elephant and guinea fowl patterns from Zimbabwe, and fish pattern curtains I made from fabric purchased in Sierra Leone. In the curtains, matching the leaping fish on either side of the center took some planning!

Earlier Katysblog posts with pictures of arts and crafts from some of my travels in Africa:

Potato print tablecloths from Zimbabwe
Dining room with African fabrics August 2020
Fabric purchased Sierra Leone 2017
2014 TechWomen in fabric shop, Rwanda2014 Rwanda
2017 Sierra Leone
2019 Sierra Leone Fabric2019 Sierra Leone

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Images Copyright 2014-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Traveling During a Plague

Katy and John, 20th anniversary, 4 July 2020

For our 20th wedding anniversary, John and I had planned to go on a fancy international trip; however, the Covid-19 lockdown prevented that. So, we spent last weekend on driving tour of the local Santa Cruz area instead. Traveling during a pandemic requires more planning, expense, and a willingness to be flexible and change your mind if circumstances do not feel safe. We stayed at Chaminade, a resort with a well-designed social distancing plan, including disinfecting and sealing rooms between guests. It is a pretty location with a great view but expensive (over $60 for breakfast for two, take out style in plastic containers on the deck). There were so many unmasked kids and parents running around we did not feel comfortable using the pool, and there was so much poison oak we did not feel comfortable using the trails. So, we went driving to find more secluded locations.

near Big Basin Redwoods State Park, 3 July 2020

Some places we tried were clearly too crowded for comfort, so after admiring the beaches, and Roaring Camp steam engine from the car, we went for a walk along the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific rail line, in Felton. An almost-never-used rail line is a great place to walk, away from both people and poison oak.

Capitola beach 4 July 2020Capitola
Roaring Camp and Big Trees railroad, Felton 3 July 2020Felton
Santa Cruz Big Trees and Pacific rail line, Felton 3 July 2020Felton
Santa Cruz Big Trees and Pacific rail line, Felton 3 July 2020Felton
Poison Oak, Santa Cruz county, July 2020Poison Oak
Poison Oak Santa Cruz area July 2020More Poison Oak

Some of our memorable meals included dinner in the redwoods at Casa Nostra in Ben Lomond, and a delicious lunch at the The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz in an outdoor room with glass bottle walls. We had fun drinking Barbera wine in the glasses made for our wedding twenty years ago. We particularly enjoyed lunch at Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola, the only place where we ate indoors. We arrived early in the afternoon and were seated in a very large room which was empty when we arrived and had only two other tables filled by the time we finished.

The Crepe Place Santa Cruz 4 July 2020The Crepe Place
Casa Nostra Restaurant, Ben Lomond 3 July 2020Casa Nostra
Casa Nostra Restaurant, Ben Lomond 3 July 2020Casa Nostra
Katy and John wineglasses, 20th anniversary, 4 July 2020Cheers!
Shadowbrook restaurant Capitola 5 July 2020Shadowbrook
John at Shadowbrook restaurant Capitola 5 July 2020Shadowbrook restaurant Capitola 5 July 2020
Katy and John at Shadowbrook restaurant Capitola 5 July 2020Shadowbrook

Our best walk was at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park where the trails are set up for social distancing.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, 5 July 2020
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, 5 July 2020
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, 5 July 2020
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, 5 July 2020
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, 5 July 2020

We still plan to take our big international trip once the world settles down a bit, but that may not be for quite a while.

 

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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20th Wedding Anniversary on 4 July


John and I are looking forward to our 20th wedding anniversary this weekend. Thinking back on some of our adventures and looking forward to many more. It is fun to be married to your best friend!

2020 virtual family dinner
2020 Mother’s Day
2018 family vacation
2018 Paul SJSU graduation
2018 St Andrew’s
2017 Katy Dickinson and John Plocher with UP1983 engine, Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 20172017 Reno
2016 Ashland
2016 Ashland
2016 Jessica Matthew John Paul Dunsmuir CA2016 Dunsmuir
2016 John Katy Klamath River CA2016 Klamath River
2015 Amtrak trip
2015 St Andrew’s
2014 John and Katy Lalibela, Ethiopia2014 Lalibela Ethiopia
2012 St Andrew’s
2012 Katy John Natural Bridges CA2012 Natural Bridges
2012 Jessica CMU graduation
2011 Jessica + Matthew
2011 Jessica Matthew wedding2011 Jessica + Matthew
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family camp2010 Lair of the Golden Bear camp
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family campLair of the Golden Bear camp 2010
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Aswan Egypt Katy John2010 Egypt
2010 Paul John Cairo Egypt2010 Cairo, Egypt
2008 John flying to Baja Mexico2008 Flying to Baja Mexico
2008 Katy flying to Baja Mexico2008 Baja
2007 Katy India2007 India
2007 John India2007 India
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 Caboose move
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 move
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John St Petersburg Russia2006 St. Peterburg, Russia
2006 John Katy St Petersburg Russia2006 Russia
2005 Katy John Beijing China2005 Beijing, China
2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China 2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China2005 China
2000 Katy John wedding mementoes 2000 Katy John wedding ketubah2000
2000 wedding
Paul Katy John Jessica wedding 4 July 20002000 wedding

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Images Copyright 2000-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Wear the Mask – We Are Strong Together

Wear the Mask by Paul Sizer, June 2002, sizer_wear_the_mask_2020-736x1024

I try to offer congratulations to friends and family for the life events they so generously share on social media. I am glad to be even a small part of their busy and interesting lives. However, I am having increasing difficulty saying something positive when I see wedding and party pictures where no one is wearing a mask. It is so fundamentally disrespectful in these pandemic times. Forgive me if I cannot celebrate your endangering others. There is so little we can do to stop Covid-19 but masks work. Lead by example: wear the mask. We are strong together.

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Image Copyright 2020 by Sizer Design + Illustration.Free Download Available.

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Micro Farm Update

Katy Dickinson micro farm San Jose CA June 2020

My Willow Glen micro farm is thriving. I usually grow cactus, and herbs like fennel, rosemary, and sage. Since we are mostly staying home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am taking the opportunity to grow vegetables. I started this project in April by converting a section of our little orchard. The first fruits of my farming efforts are cherry tomatoes and delicata squash. Both indicate their readiness by a color change. The tomatoes shift from green to yellow to red. The delicata squash start white and develop green lines as they mature.  The tallest plants are sunflowers, which are currently competing with the apple tree for head room. I am expecting beans, peas, corn, and watermelon over time.

Katy Dickinson delicata squash San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson delicata squash San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson cherry tomatoes San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson cherry tomatoes San Jose CA June 2020

Katy Dickinson cactus blooms San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson fennel San Jose CA June 2020

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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