Category Archives: Home & Family

Graduations

GTU Commencement 7 May 2022
GTU Commencement 7 May 2022

Spring is graduation season and this year, I joyfully walked the stage in-person for my Graduate Theological Union – Master’sTheology degree, as well as graduating three of my own student-mentees from the University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry (EfM) extension program.

My GTU – MA and Master’s hood were officially presented online last year* but GTU offered the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-years graduates an opportunity to walk in-person this year. I was hooded by Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Wendy Arce in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. I was also awarded the Interreligious Chaplaincy Certificate, as only the second person to complete the new GTU – ICP program. Part of ICP is completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which for me meant working part-time as a Chaplain Intern for five months at Stanford Hospital during a pandemic surge. Several of us from Stanford Hospital – Spiritual Care Services graduated from GTU together this year. I was happy that my family which lovingly supported me during my long educational journey was present for my graduation.

Co-Mentor Karen LeBlanc, with whom I have led EfM seminars together for over twelve years, celebrated with me the graduations of Joel Martinez (graduated 2020, diploma presented 2022) and Beth Hopf at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA), and Mark LeBlanc (Karen’s husband) at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (Cupertino, CA). Joel, Beth, and Mark faithfully completed four years of EfM study and theological reflection on the Bible, church history, theology, and ethics.

*Read my thesis here: “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”

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Filed under Chaplain, Church, Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Short Family Visit with Headhunter’s Bowl

Transferring 2021 Christmas presents, 1 May 2022
Transferring 2021 Christmas presents, 1 May 2022

My brother Peter Dickinson visited briefly this afternoon. We enjoyed lunch with friends and family and transferred 2021 Christmas presents that have been waiting for the opportunity. Pete and I also made our every-ten-year swap of the Headhunter‘s Bowl our mother gave us. I think every family has its odd traditions and this is one of ours.

When Pete and I were little kids, our mother (Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson) bought special Christmas present for our father (Wade Dickinson). We were so curious that she said if we could guess what it was without unwrapping the package, we could have it. Because it was such an odd thing, she was sure we could not guess and gave us unlimited questions. Eventually, we did guess that it was a very old wooden headhunter‘s serving bowl from the Solomon Islands. (I remember we had to get out a global atlas and narrow down the location by global quadrants and then ask many questions about what the Solomon Islands were historically famous for.) Ever since we were old enough to have our own homes, Pete and I have been trading our strange bowl back and forth. It is now Pete’s turn to play host.

Note: The San Francisco store where my mother bought the bowl said it was from the Solomon Islands. Its design looks similar to the Kava bowl of Samoa or Fiji.

Transferring Solomon Islands Headhunter's bowl, 1 May 2022
Transferring Solomon Islands Headhunter’s bowl, 1 May 2022

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Pandemic-motivated Weight Loss

Weight loss was a decision that came out of my experience as a Chaplain Intern at Stanford Hospital (September 2021 – February 2022). I worked there during a COVID-19 pandemic surge and as part of my duties, provided family support and decedent care for a number of patients whose comorbidities (including obesity, diabetes, and asthma) seemed to contribute to their early death. I decided to act on my doctor’s long-standing advice and do what I could to reduce my own potential for a similar end.

The most I have ever weighed was 212 pounds, in 2007. Starting in October 2021, I followed my son Paul‘s good example and started using the Noom program for weight loss and wellness. Paul and John are also losing weight and we find that doing so as a family is easier. So far, I have lost over fifty pounds. I have about fifteen to go before I reach the weight that my doctor recommends. I feel better and am enjoying getting new clothes (and having more choices in the smaller sizes). Attending a deathbed may seem like an extreme reason to lose weight but it made a big impression on me.

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Side Garden Upgrade

Katy Dickinson garden, San Jose CA, 23 March 2022

It’s time in the San Francisco Bay Area to start planting our summer vegetables. Since I have some time during GTU‘s Reading Week, I cleared out winter weeds, dug in compost, and added tomatoes, basil, and borage to my planting beds. I left the rhubarb in its wheelbarrow since it seems happy. This year, from Yamagami’s nursery I bought three cherry tomato plants for salads and snacks (Yellow Pear, Sun Sugar Hybrid, and Super Sweet 100), plus three Ace tomatoes for soup. I also upgraded the Guadalupe River bank area next to the planting bed. The big yuccas, huge prickly pear cactus, and an elderberry tree dominate that space. There are also three lavenders (French and English) and two California Sagebrush (Artemisia Californica – from Jessica) continuing from two years ago. I just added four gloriosus “Heart’s Desire” prostrate ceanothus to fill in under and around the cactus. Another ceanothus “Centennial” plus some yarrow (Achillea Little Moonshine, and Red Velvet) will go in the front yard. I mostly add California Native Plants for long-term plantings. I am looking forward to everything growing happily all summer!

Update 24 March: I decided to go camping with Jessica and the TechWomen in Yosemite this weekend, so I planted the ceanothus Centennial in the side yard, supervised by guardian cats Princess and Ketchup. I am also moving some of garden stones into the side yard where they will be more visible.

Update 28 March: My neighbor Russell gave away some of his extra heirloom tomato starts today – so I added a seventh (and final!) plant to my bed. The little plants are enjoying today’s rain.

Ceanothus Centennial, Katy Dickinson garden, San Jose CA, 24 March 2022
Marvel stripe heirloom tomato, 28 March 2022

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TechWomen Volunteer Day in the Garden

TechWomen Volunteer Day, St.Stephens-in-the-Fields, San Jose, California, 18 Mar 2022

Today was TechWomen Volunteer Day and twenty-three of us gathered at St. Stephen’s-in-the-Field Episcopal Church – Community Garden in San Jose, California, to work together. We divided into three groups: the Hunters (looking for oak seedlings to pot), the Killers (taking down an oleander hedge), and the Diggers (making an accessible path for elder gardeners). We included technical leaders from the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, some of whom were novices and others who had deep gardening experience, as well as two regular community garden volunteers and four TechWomen mentors. My daughter, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, manages the community garden but she was managing another TechWomen volunteer group today, so I was in charge. It was a fun and productive day!

Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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

Welcome TechWomen Team Kenya

TechWomen Team Kenya, 10 March 2022
TechWomen Team Kenya, 10 March 2022

I am honored to work with TechWomen Team Kenya this term. My Co-Mentors are Ella Morgulis and Samantha Raniere. Everyone was at my house in San Jose, California, last night for a team meeting and dinner. We are getting to know each other and enjoying learning together. They had fun touring my caboose office, WP668.

TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program. I have been working with TechWomen since I helped to design it in 2010. Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Mexican Alebrijes, Boruca Masks of Costa Rica

Our family just returned from a lovely vacation at Cielo Lodge in GolfitoCosta Rica where, among other discoveries, I learned about the indigenous artisans of Boruca. The Boruca folk art wood carvings remind me strongly of Mexican Alebrijes. Many years ago, I started a collection of Alebrijes when I was a member of the Board of the Mexican Museum in San Francisco. Alebrijes are fantastical folk sculptures often originating from Oaxaca. They are carved from copal wood and other materials, then painted. Many times it is the carver who signs the piece but the painting is often done by the whole family. Many people were introduced to Alebrijes as spirit guardians in the 2017 Disney movie Coco.

In the Boruca village, our indigenous guide told us that the carving wood is from the fast-growing balsa and designs are often inspired by traditional masks from the Danza de los Diablos ceremony. The annual ceremony celebrates the Costa Rican tribe fighting off the Spanish Conquistadores. Devils are a common theme in Boruca carvings but there are also images from nature, particularly jaguars (symbolizing male power and protection of the tribe) and butterflies (symbolizing female power and beauty). The bright blue Morpho butterfly is a favorite.

Insect Alebrijes by Tribus Mixes, Oaxaca, Mexico

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