Tag Archives: garden

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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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

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Filed under News & Reviews, Politics

Caboose and Cactus Arroyo

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, June 2016

My office replaced a swimming pool. WP668 is the 100-year-old railroad caboose in San Jose, California (“the Capital of the Silicon Valley“) where I work for Mentoring Standard.  Above is WP668 in our backyard now, and below is what the same space looked like in the year 2000.  The swimming pool was removed ten years ago – see more photos on the WP668 webpage.

family in the swimming pool in 2000

I designed the landscape setting for WP668 based on large rocks and cactuses, including a Y-shaped arroyo (or dry creek) that is small enough to be called an arroyito.  Like the bones of California, our arroyito is largely made up of granite, basalt, limestone, and quartz, with jasper, serpentine, sandstone, conglomerates, and other stones for variety.  We bought two large boulders from South Bay Materials but the other rocks were adopted as individuals.  Every time we go on vacation or a road trip, we come home with new garden rocks, so the arroyito becomes more solid and complex year-by-year.  My family complains when they have to ride home from a trip with their feet on top of the latest stones headed for the arroyito but they still help me stuff rocks into the car.

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

WP668 caboose and cactus arroyo, July 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Home & Family, Mentoring Standard

Happy 100th Birthday WP668 Caboose!

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Cake 25 June 2016

On Saturday, we celebrated the 100th Birthday for WP668, the railway caboose where Mentoring Standard has its office in Willow Glen (San Jose, California).  Many friends and family and train enthusiasts joined John and me in cheering on our old train car.  You can read the history of WP668 on her website.

There were balloons and a cake and we distributed WP668 Caboose Con-Duck-tors (a rubber duck toy dressed as a train conductor) as party favors.  John gave tours of his N-scale model train layout in our former garage.  WP668’s birthday present was new night lighting along her roof line.

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Cake 25 June 2016

Eleanor and Jessica, WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

Paul and Natalie, WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

Eleanor and John, WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

WP668 Caboose at night 26 June 2016

WP668 Caboose at night 26 June 2016

WP668 Caboose Con-Duck-tors 27 June 2016

Images Copyright Katy Dickinson 2016

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

Goodbye old pepper

New maple tree
Our neighborhood sadly said goodbye to what was probably its oldest tree this month. Despite regular arborist care, the California Pepper split in half on 30 March. It had lived 81 years (1935-2016), and measured at least 162 inches in circumference and 51.59 inches in diameter. When it fell, my son Paul said that the light into his room got noticeably brighter.  The old pepper was wet enough inside to be home to a Aneides lugubris, the Arboreal salamander, a species of climbing salamander native to California. The cut wood pieces were pink-orange and were quickly picked up by local wood workers.

Neighbors Gary and Linda hired more arborists to try to save what was left but an ultrasound test said that the remaining trunk could not survive and might fall on their house. This month, after four honey bee hives (and their honey) were carefully relocated, the rest of the tree came down and was replaced by a hopeful new Autumn Blaze Maple tree.

September 2014 – Thanks to Google Maps!

Pepper Tree, Belmont, San Jose Sep 2014

March 2016

31 March 2016 California Pepper tree fallen San Jose CA

31 March 2016 Gary and Linda with fallen California Pepper tree San Jose CA

Salamander inside California Pepper tree San Jose CA March 2016

pink wood from California Pepper tree San Jose CA March 2016

May 2016

Pepper Tree, Belmont, San Jose May 2016

Pepper Tree, Belmont, San Jose May 2016

Pepper Tree, Belmont, San Jose May 2016

Pepper Tree stump, Belmont, San Jose May 2016

Pepper Tree chips, Belmont, San Jose May 2016

Linda and Gary with new maple tree

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson – with thanks to Google Maps for the 2014 image

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Easter Egg Hunt 2016

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Sunday morning was our annual backyard Easter Egg Hunt – a very popular event among our friends, family, and neighbors. Children ages 20 months to 20 years joined the search for hundreds of plastic eggs filled with chocolate candies. For the adults, there were two specially hidden eggs: gold and silver. Only the following unreasonably-hard poems gave clues to their locations:

Silver Egg
(Hidden in the thatch of a jasmine vine on an arbor)
A Silvery Sonnet in Iambic Quadrameter

You’d have to share Bruce Banner’s height
to see me, though Scott Lang’s would do.
I spy Prince Adam’s gift and strong
John Henry’s lifelong deadly work;
those battlefield banner icons
of Henry IV and Richard III;
Cascadian separatists’
beloved Doug rises near me.
You Ravenclaws’ll examine text,
Those Gryffindors’ll fetch ladders,
Gauche Slytherins will counterfeit,
my badgers — Hufflepuffs — prevail!
I shine like the good captain’s shield,
keep on your search and don’t you yield!

Gold Egg
(taped to the top of a tree branch ten feet above the ground)
A Golden Sonnet in Rondel Form

From my stand I see tall privets
and high above me is a tree
above which trucks flew high & free
that now shade stones & thin rivlets.

You ate breakfast warm off trivets
while I perched here meek with glee
from my stand I see tall privets
and high above me is a tree.

My neighbor’s the joy of kid-lets
and grown-ups too shade in her lee
warm on her couch you can see me
above kitty’s curling ringlets.
From my stand I see tall privets.

Thanks to the Associate Easter Bunnies: my daughter Jessica for the poems, and son Paul who stuffed 775 eggs, and to John and Matthew and all the friends and family for helping create the festivities.  Such a delightful celebration of Spring and renewal!

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Church, Home & Family, News & Reviews

Front Yard Done and Growing Well

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I wrote last month about putting in our New Front Yard as part of the Landscape Rebate Program of the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD). I started working on this project in April 2015. The yard has already passed its final inspection and our refund check should arrive within the next eight weeks.

The drought-tolerant plants are growing happily and my hope is that the winter rains (should we get any!) will not cause mudslides in the new dirt mounds.

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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