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

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Images Copyright 2015-2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Images of God

1. Basilica of San Vitale - Lamb of God mosaic

This is an online version of a handout I created for my weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail – in Milpitas, California).  The students in EfM Year 1 (the Hebrew Bible) were reading Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Here are twenty varied images of God, dated from 527 – 2014, plus Bible verses describing God, for class discussion.

Here is a Printable Version of this material.  Click on each image to see details!

2. Vault mosaic - San Vitale - Ravenna 2016

List of Pictures:

Description More Information Image Source
1. Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) – mosaic in the presbytery, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy (527 CE) Basilica of San Vitale Basilica of San Vitale – Lamb of God mosaic
2. God in Heaven – mosaic in the apse, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy (527 CE) Basilica of San Vitale Vault_mosaic_-_San_Vitale_-_Ravenna_2016
3. Christ Pantocrator – All Powerful – mosaic, chapel of San Zeno, Rome, Italy (822) Santa Prassede Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century)
4. God as Architect of the Universe – Frontispiece of Bible Moralisee, Paris, France (1230) Bible moralisée God the Geometer
5. God the Father – painting by Giotto, Florence, Italy (1330) Giotto God the Father with Angels
6. Ghent Altarpiece (detail) – painting by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium (1432) Ghent Altarpiece Retable de l’Agneau mystique (Altarpiece of the Mystical Lamb)
7. The Creation of the Heavenly Bodies (detail) – painting by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, Sistine Chapel, Rome, Italy (1512) Michelangelo Poster Sistine Chapel: Creation of the universe
8. God the Father – painting by Cima Da Conegliano, Venice, Italy (1517) Cima da Conegliano Cima da Conegliano, God the Father
9. God the Father – painting by Ludovico Mazzolino, Ferrara, Italy (1520) Ludovico Mazzolino Ludovico_Mazzolino_-_God_the_Father
10. God the Father – painting by Girolamo dai Libri, Verona, Italy (1555) Girolamo dai Libri God_the_Father_with_His_Right_Hand_Raised_in_Blessing
11. Picture Bible “Die Bibel in Bildern” (detail) – engraving by Julius Schnorr (1860) Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern
12. Holy Lord Sabaoth – Russian Icon (date?) Russian icons Holy Lord Saboath
13. Kakure Kirishitan Heaven – scroll painting, Ikitsuki Island, Nagasaki, Japan (date?) Kakure Kirishitan The Hidden Christians – Stephen Turnbull
14. God as Mother Hen – Dominus Flevit Church, Jerusalem, Israel (1955) Dominus Flevit Church Mosaic_Art_at_Dominus_Flevit
15. God as Dove (Holy Spirit) – stained glass by James Scanlan, Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne, Cork, Ireland (1990) Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne Stained Glass at the Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne
16. Father (and Holy Spirit) – stained glass at St. Virgil Church, in Morris Plains, New Jersey USA (contemporary, date?) St. Virgil Parish Stained Glass Masquerade
17. George Burns as God, from movies “Oh, God!” (1977), and “Oh, God, Book II” (1980) Oh, God! Classics of the Corn
18. Alanis Morissette as God, from movies “Dogma” (1999), and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001) Dogma (film) God as Woman
19. Morgan Freeman as God, from movies “Bruce Almighty” (2003), and “Evan Almighty” (2007) Evan Almighty Evan Almighty Morgan Freeman as God
20. Ethiopian Orthodox Trinity – painted hide (2014) Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church 2016 Picture by Katy Dickinson

Pictures of God:

3. Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century)

4. God the Geometer

5. Giotto - God the Father with Angels

6. van Eyck - Altarpiece of the Mystical Lamb

7. Michaelangelo - Poster Sistine Chapel: Creation of the universe

8. Cima da Conegliano, God the Father

9. Ludovico_Mazzolino, God the Father

10. Girolamo dai Libri, God the Father

11. Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern

12. Holy Lord Sabaoth - icon

13. Kakure Kirishitan Heaven

14. Mosaic Art at Dominus Flevit

15. Dove Stained Glass - Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne

16. Father (and Holy Spirit) - St. Virgil Parish

17. George Burns as God

18. Alanis Morissette as God

19. Morgan Freeman as God

20. Ethiopian Orthodox Trinity

Pictures of God in the Bible (Selected):

“I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps” Hosea 13:8

“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Matthew 3:16

“He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” Deuteronomy 32:10-11

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Luke 13:34

“This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
John 1:28-29


  • “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” Hosea 11:3-4
  • “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” Deuteronomy 32:18
  • “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” Isaiah 42:14
  • “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
  • “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13
  • “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:2
  • “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” Psalm 131:2

See linked pages for individual image copyrights
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Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in Salinas on January 7

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Comes to Salinas on January 7, 2017

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be featured at an all-day event at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, California, on Saturday, 7 January 2017. I will be one of three panelists asking him questions after his keynote presentation.  The event is free and you are invited to attend – no registration is required.

El Camino Real Diocese Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves held a phone call this morning to discuss the panel with participants. I am very much looking forward to meeting Bishop Michael again. I met him briefly during lunch at General Convention 2015 and have listened to many of his talks.  Bishop Michael is the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and is the first African American to serve as PB since its founding in 1789. He is a remarkable and inspiring speaker.

One of the highlights from his keynote at the “Evangelism Matters” conference in November 2016 in Dallas, TX: “God made us for God’s dream.  We were made to be in communion with our God, with each other, and with the world God has made.  That is why we are here…  Evangelism doesn’t have a thing to do with a bigger church.  It has everything to do with a better world…  We Episcopalians are of the Anglican tradition of Christianity.  I want to suggest that Anglicans are not allergic to evangelism.  Episcopalians need not take Excedrin before saying ‘evangelism’…”

Bishop Michael’s most recent book, Songs My Grandma Sang, was published in June 2015; Crazy Christians:  A Call to Follow Jesus was his first book, in August 2013.  He has received honorary degrees from Episcopal Divinity School, The University of the South – Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, and Yale.

Top 10 Reasons for Being an Episcopalian (according to Robin Williams) 2015

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Technology for the Incarcerated

Christmas 2016 Elmwood Jail

I read Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh‘s recent article “How Technology Could Improve Mental Health in Prisons – But So Far Isn’t” (13 Dec 2016, in Fast Company) and considered other ways in which technology helps inmates.  I lead a weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail – in Milpitas, California). Here is how I see technology helping the ten men in my seminar:

  1. Because they do not have computer access, I make a standing offer to research topics that arise from our class discussions and bring the curious students more information.  Last night, I delivered printouts on Suetonius, Julius Caesar, prophecy in the Book of Daniel, the Caiaphas Ossuary, Galilee Boat, Ketef Hinnom, and Tel Dan Stele, plus a biography of Pontius Pilate. Wikipedia‘s easy access to vast fields of knowledge means in only an hour a week, I can bring the inmates a richer view into the world of the Hebrew BibleNew Testament, and Christian history.
  2. I was one of the St. Andrew’s prison ministry team who brought worship and song to Elmwood on Christmas Day. When leaving, I noticed a group of lovely deep purple irises blooming next to the back parking lot. Further on, I stopped to take a photo of two ducks on the water behind the jail. Just then, a big white egret erupted from under the bridge where I stood – as if an angel were arising from the water.  Because of easy and cheap digital photography and my color printer, I can show the inmates pictures of how nature was celebrating Christmas with them.
  3. One of my students was transferred from Elmwood jail into the state prison system.  He is highly intelligent and deeply faithful and wants to keep up his Christian studies.  Because prisons and jails will accept book deliveries directly from Amazon, I can use ecommerce to send him better books than are available in the prison library.  For Christmas, I sent him two EfM books: Transformed Lives: Making Sense of Atonement Today, and Care for Creation (a franciscan spirituality of the earth). We hope he will be transferred to a prison that offers an EfM Online course or one with an in-person class.
  4. The Elmwood class asked for song books in both English and Spanish so that they can sing hymns together.  I found Oramos Cantando – We Pray in Song. There are Spanish-only and English-only hymnals but this seems to be the only bilingual song book available. I even checked with our church’s Director of Music – who said he did not know of any.  I was able to locate eight paperback copies in good condition for less than $10/each on Amazon, delivered in a week from eight different used book sellers located all over the USA.

Oramos Cantando - We Pray in Song, 2005
Christmas 2016 Elmwood Jail

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Updated 3 January 2017
Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under News & Reviews, Politics

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

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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

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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
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