Category Archives: News & Reviews

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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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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Reading _The Plague_

In 2012, we had a mouse infestation in our home, one of the potential downsides of pet birds. I was thinking of this when our book club read The Plague by Albert Camus  (in which the bubonic plague starts with rats). Plague and pestilence books have been popular during the Coronavirus pandemic, with book recommendations lists being widely published. We read sections of Camus’ 1947 book in last semester’s “God and Suffering” class at GTU‘s Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology (DSPT). Ironically, The Plague was part of the reading list for the class before Covid-19 came upon us. It seems to me that in the months since the pandemic started, we have slowly become like the people of Camus’ town of Oran in Algeria who, “in the very heart of the epidemic… maintained a saving indifference, which one was tempted to take for composure.”

The Plague‘s narrator ends with qualified optimism,

He “…resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

None the less, he knew that the tale he had to tell could not be one of a final victory. It could be only the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, despite their personal afflictions, by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers.”

While our community has become less focused on the pandemic and has turned to other matters, I pray that we continue to honor and support the heroic doctors and health workers who are still fighting Covid-19.

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Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson.

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Process for Online Video Services

Since 2014, my husband John Plocher has been running the Video Ministry for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga, CA. What started out needing a few hours a week using spare equipment has grown vastly since the Covid-19 pandemic took over our lives this year. John now routinely spends 12 or more hours a week creating and editing videos of music and worship services using sophisticated software and hardware. (Some of which were paid for by a 2018 St. Andrew’s Opportunity Fund grant.) John has been mentoring Youth Group members for over a year to develop their technical skills and extend the Video Ministry. In the hope that recruiting and training even more helpers will reduce his own load, John has written these process documents.

Online Worship Services and Music

John has developed a chat and video best practices exchange group – contact me if you want to join. He publishes stand-alone videos of the classical and folk service music on  Saint Andrew’s Sings. Go there to hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” the “Navy Hymn,” a folk Taizé “Jesus Remember Me,” “Rest in the Lord,” “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and other favorites. Or, hear the music as part of the weekly worship service videos. (More in my blog post New Music for Quarantine Times.)

I have been helping John by reviewing videos during development, finding memes for the end, and providing photos for preludes and postludes:

John Plocher, St Andrews Video Ministry January 2020

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Silicon Valley and the Congo

Please consider joining me in donating to ERD. I am part of the Episcopal-Anglican Congo Network that coordinates information and support for the DRC. Violent militia raids against villages are common – causing people to flee to the relative safety of one of 60 internal refugee camps. Covid-19 and Ebola are active.

Think this has nothing to do with you? Congo produces 60% of the world’s cobalt, used to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, laptops, and smartphones. We in the Silicon Valley helped to create this mess. Let’s work to solve it. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is coordinating much-needed aid. What ERD does: “Episcopal Relief & Development works in collaboration with church partners and other local organizations to facilitate healthier, more fulfilling lives in communities that are struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease.”

Recent stories from the Congo:

Not all the news is bad, some Silicon Valley companies are working on recycling as an alternate solution to the problem of needing Congo’s  cobalt. For example: “Daisy is Apple’s new iPhone-recycling robot” (The Verge, 19 April 2018)

The Congo Network is chaired by the Rev. David Copley, Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel, Ministries Beyond the Episcopal Church.

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