Category Archives: Home & Family

Presiding Bishop Speaks in Salinas

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was featured at an all-day event at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, California, on Saturday, 7 January 2017. I was on the panel that asked questions after his keynote presentation. I was also on the Tech Team that helped to create the event – with my husband John Plocher and the Rev. Stephenie Cooper.

With the “PB” on the stage was our own Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers.  On the panel with me were Dave Mora (former Salinas City Manager), and the Rev. Ian Dellinger (Rector of St. Stephen’s, San Luis Obispo).  The moderator was Joe Heston (President & General Manager of KSBW).  A video of the event is in development.  About 650 attended the event.

Thanks to my EfM Co-Mentor Karen Carlson for the photo of me on the stage!

John Plocher, Clay Whittington, Rev. Stephenie Cooper, Canon Stephanie Spellers, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Dave Mora, Rev. Ian Dellinger, Joe Heston, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017, photo by Karen Carlson

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Joe Heston, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson and Karen Carlson

3 Comments

Filed under Church, Home & Family, News & Reviews

Guadalupe River High

Guadalupe River at Alma/Lelong - with Paul, San Jose CA 8 Jan 2017

The Guadalupe River in our San Jose backyard is supposed to rise very high tonight – according to NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or Weather Service):

NOAA - Guadalupe River Above Almaden Expressway, 3:15 pm 10 Jan 2017

We and our Willow Glen neighbors along the river have been watching it with care. Twenty years ago, the other bank overflowed and water came up from the storm drains to wet our basements.  The Guadalupe River Flood Protection Project by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the United States Army Corps of Engineers has been working against a repeat of that disaster.

On 9 February 2015, I posted “Guadalupe River – Happy to Be Wet” with pictures of how high and low our river can go.  I measure by the distance of the stair railing (about half way up the bank) relative to the water. Two days ago, the railing went almost entirely under – NOAA’s measurement was 7.94 feet.  Tonight, the river is predicted to rise to 9.6 feet.

Guadalupe River at Alma/Lelong, San Jose CA 8 Feb 2015
8 Feb 2015

Guadalupe River at Alma/Lelong, San Jose CA 29 Sep 2016
29 Sep 2016

Guadalupe River at Alma/Lelong, San Jose CA 8 Jan 2017
8 Jan 2017

Guadalupe River at Alma/Lelong, San Jose CA 8 Jan 2017
8 Jan 2017

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2015-2017 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Benefits of Dementia

Jessica Dickinson Goodman and Eleanor Dickinson, Dickens Fair, San Francisco 18 Dec 2016

On this, my daughter Jessica‘s birthday, I want to honor and thank her for her creativity, love, and generous heart. It is such a pleasure that she and Matthew live here in San Jose, not only because I love and want to spend time with them but also because Jessica has made time each week for my mother Eleanor (her grandmother), to help her get all that she can out of life, despite her dementia and other health challenges.

In a recent conversation, Jessica told me she keeps a mental list of what is good about dementia. After a pause during which I reoriented my thinking about this degrading and frustrating disease, I remembered that in 2008 I made a similar list of some of the benefits of having a disabled child.   Here is Jessica’s list, plus some additions:

Benefits of Dementia

  1. Good Surprises: Jessica told me about man with dementia who would order socks or books or other needed items for postal delivery. By the time the packages arrived, he had forgotten he himself had ordered them. He was sure he had a loving friend sending him surprises that were just what he wanted.
  2. Making a Statement, Again: When my mother saw Jessica in a politically provocative tshirt, she was delighted. Later that afternoon, Eleanor noticed the shirt for the first time, and was delighted again.
  3. Keeping Contact: When my father Wade died in 2011 at the age of 85, Eleanor lost her greatest fan. They had been married for 59 years, fighting and arguing all the way. Eleanor’s dementia has softened that loss. Sometimes she speaks of Wade as if he is in the next room.

What would you add to this list of the benefits of dementia?

Dickinsons at the Dickens Fair, San Francisco 18 Dec 2016

Eleanor Dickinson, Christmas 2016

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family

Ideas? Getting My Mother to Drink More

Coffee cups painted by Eleanor Dickinson 1995

About every six months, my 85-year-old mother Eleanor ends up in Urgent Care or the Emergency Room with extreme dehydration. On Tuesday night, she was again given two full liters of intravenous (IV) liquid. Dehydration is very dangerous and makes her dementia worse – it muddies her thinking and judgement and makes her act even more independent than usual. For the last four years, our family and caretakers have tried everything we can think of – including working our way through all of the ideas on web lists – to get her to take more fluids.  She just does not want to drink.

Early Tuesday afternoon I got a call from the MedTech at my mother’s senior residence asking for help. After breakfast, Eleanor had pushed her way into another resident’s apartment, sat on his toilet and refused to leave. By the time I got there, she had been sitting for an hour – calmly saying “no, no, no, no” to everyone. She did not seem to be in pain. My mother said she was conducting an artist’s protest and planned to write a paper about the power of saying “no”. Eleanor has been a fine artist and politically active all of her life.  She was a Professor of Art at California College of the Arts 1971-2001.  Years ago, writing a protest paper would have been a normal activity for her.

Something in her mind told her that what she was doing made sense. Several caretakers tried sweet talking her while the owner of the bathroom threatened to call the cops to get her out.  My husband John finally wrapped her in a towel, picked her up, and walked her to her own apartment while she protested loudly.  Then we drove my mother to Urgent Care.  As usual, it took over seven hours for her to get evaluated, tested, and rehydrated.  We got home just before midnight.

Eleanor’s primary caretaker said my mother was very tired the next day but that she was cooperative for the rest of the week – eating and drinking more than usual.  Intravenous fluids fix dehydration for a short while but are not a long-term solution. If you have experience in this area, new ideas are welcome!

Eleanor Dickinson 2016

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

1 Comment

Filed under Home & Family

Every Day is a New Day

Eleanor Dickinson at St. Andrew's Snow Day, Dec 2016

Today I have a break from taking my 85-year-old mother Eleanor to doctors’ appointments. We saw the new Neurologist yesterday and see someone about her blood balance tomorrow. Her caretaker Ella and I go with her to provide context – what we see her doing and saying – since she does not remember. 15 months ago, we moved my mother from Independent Living to Assisted Living at the senior residence near our house in San Jose, California. This has been a difficult year of slow health and memory failures. There have been some successes (we finally sorted out my mother’s gastrointestinal problem so Eleanor smells better and has more control of her bowels), and some amusing incidents:

Eleanor took her cat Loki out of her apartment today to join a group activity in the common area. He was frightened and ran into the apartment of another resident who is scared of cats. Ella crawled under the bed to get him. Loki ran out through Eleanor’s legs. Eleanor fell hard on her butt and broke the other resident’s closet door. Eleanor and Loki are back in Eleanor’s apartment now. It sounds funny, I know. Ella had the Medtech give Eleanor some Tylenol since she is going to be sore. (from a 17 August 2016 email to my brothers)

She has good days and bad days. She loves driving around, seeing the trees and clouds and reading every road sign aloud. She loves family visits, especially from her grandchildren – of whom she is very proud.  Eleanor enjoyed watching kids play at the St. Andrew’s Snow Day last weekend.

We who love her do our best to keep Eleanor connected with the remarkable and creative person she was, before the dementia.  She has been politically active all of her life and is a passionate advocate for Hillary Clinton.  She was so excited to vote that for weeks she carried her Vote by Mail ballot with her everywhere.  She lost it.  I asked for a replacement ballot but it did not arrive by Election Day.  So, I took Eleanor to my polling place and helped her fill out a Provisional Ballot.  I hope her vote was counted.

In addition to Ella, my mother’s residence has a group of loving and dedicated caretakers available at all times. The hardest problem is that after decades as the Professor of Life Drawing at California College for the Arts, my mother loves to argue and has the habit of command. She orders people around and they often obey, even when what she wants to do makes no sense or is a very bad idea (like taking her jumpy cats out of the apartment).

When Ella is not there, we sometimes get urgent calls for backup from the staff.  A year ago, Eleanor decided she wanted to move back into her old apartment and conducted a one-woman-one-walker sit in at 10 pm outside in the cold in front of the door to her former building.  My husband and I came when the staff called.  We wheeled her back to her apartment and had a serious talk.  She did not remember any of this the next day.  Every day is a new day.

Eleanor and Katy Dickinson, Election Day, Nov 2016

Eleanor Dickinson and Family 2015
If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

2 Comments

Filed under Home & Family

Honoring Jail Ministry

Katy Dickinson's Simple Servant-efm-elmwood Jail Award, 4 Nov 2016

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves honored dozens of jail and prison ministry volunteers last month, among them, myself. Since 2007 Bishop Mary has served as the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) in California. Since 2015, she has also been the Vice President of the House of Bishops. Some years ago, Bishop Mary created the Simple Servant Award to honor those working as faithful ministers in the community.

I was out of town – in Sewanee, Tennessee, renewing my Education for Ministry Mentor Accreditation, and being trained as the Diocesan Coordinator for EfM – so I missed the Simple Servant presentation at the ECR annual convention on 4 November 2016. However, my husband John Plocher helped Bishop Mary prepare her presentation slides, so I was able to contribute photos and information in advance.  The Reverend Peggy Bryan worked with two of my student inmates on the artwork for the certificate.

Jack Fanning and I received our certificates the following week.  Jack helped me to start the first EfM program at Elmwood Correctional Facility (Milpitas, California).  There are about 25 EfM seminars in prisons in the USA but ours seems to be the first class in a county jail. We just started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes have six men in Year-1 plus four continuing to Year-2.  Thanks to the University of the South, The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, CIC Ministries, and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for their joint and generous support of this program!

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Katy Dickinson and Jack Fanning with Simple Servant Awards, 13 Nov 2016

Two photos taken by Elrond Lawrence of the 4 November 2016 presentation in Salinas:

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Top Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, 2 Lowest Images Copyright 2016 by Elrond Lawrence

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Home & Family, News & Reviews, Politics

TechWomen Community Cycle

Mai Temraz and Katy Dickinson at Cal State San Bernardino August 2016

The TechWomen mentoring program has been since 2010 a big part of my annual planning. 90 Emerging Leaders from 19 countries in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East will arrive in the San Francisco Bay Area in about ten days to start working at local STEM companies.  I am already working with the 6 ELs from Tunisia as one of their 3 Impact Advisors. Our Impact Advisory group has been meeting remotely every Friday – I look forward to meeting the Tunisia ladies in person soon.  The 2016 Emerging Leaders will be in the USA until mid-October, returning home after a visit to Washington DC.

I am also enjoying supporting one of my 2014 mentees, TechWomen Fellow and Fulbright Fellow Mai Temraz from Gaza, who will be starting her MBA at Cal State San Bernardino next month.  Several of us visited Mai and her family in Gaza City earlier this year.  The Temraz family is staying with us in San Jose while Mai goes through orientation at UC Davis.  Last weekend, my daughter Jessica, Mai, and I did a road trip to help find an apartment in San Bernardino and to see the Cal State campus.  In a few weeks, the Temraz family will move to Southern California.

TechWomen is more than an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it has become a beloved community and extended family for many of its participants.

Walaa, Mai, and Yazan Temraz in San Jose, California, August 2016
Walaa, Mai, and Yazan Temraz in San Jose, California, August 2016

TechWomen Eileen Brewer, Erin Keeley, Aliya Janjua, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, Mai Temraz, Katy Dickinson in Gaza City February 2016
TechWomen Erin Keeley, Eileen Brewer, Mai Temraz, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, Katy Dickinson, and Aliya Janjua in Gaza City, February 2016

TechWomen Seham Al-Jaafreh, Mai Temraz, Katy Dickinson, San Bruno Park, California, October 2014
TechWomen Seham Al-JaafrehMai Temraz, and Katy Dickinson, San Bruno Park, California, October 2014

TechWomen in Tunisia with Impact Advisors in California August 2016
TechWomen in Tunisia, with Impact Advisors in California, August 2016

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2014-2016 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews