Tag Archives: House Work

Craig’s Crimson Cherry


In 1999, I planted a bare-root Craig’s Crimson Cherry semi-dwarf fruit tree in our Willow Glen backyard. Our dog promptly bit it in half. Despite this rough start, the little tree is flourishing and just gave us a our annual large bowl of deliciously sweet red cherries.

The fruit a week ago – not quite ripe:

Cherry flowers in April 2013:

The tree tags:

Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Easter Egg Hunt


Despite all official weather prediction to the contrary, we had no rain but a warm lovely morning for today’s Easter Egg Hunt. This year, we made some procedural changes. Young people who have been coming to this party for years volunteered as Associate Bunnies – staying over the night before or arriving very early to help the Assistant Bunny (me) hide 500+ plastic eggs with candies inside. Jessica (Senior Associate Bunny, in the Washington DC Branch Office) drafted the Gold and Silver Egg poems:

Gold Egg (hidden on the roof beam of the cabana, next to the hot tub) – found by Paul:

In my hutch I am squatting,
Through a triangle I see,
Above the earth I’m spotting
A train, two dogs, and a tree.
Next door water is too hot
But folks sit in there alot.

Silver Egg (tied up inside the San Francisco fire plug) – found by Jim:

My nest was moved from the city,
There its job was very gritty.
It once was wet but now is dry.
A little river I can spy.
Like a bunny safe in a log,
I’m hidden here from nose of dog.

Hunters lined up by age on the new porch – where they could see the eggs in the garden and plan their launch strategy. One family arrived late – I was so pleased to watch the big kids re-hide their eggs so that the new little ones could hunt. One teenage boy dumped his whole basket for them. Of course, there was food and drink (John made pulled chicken sandwiches, mint tea, and punch) and WP668 caboose tours for all.

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Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher


Filed under Church, Home & Family

Flowers in Pipes for Easter


I have been getting my garden in Willow Glen, California, ready for our annual children’s party – the great Easter Egg hunt this Sunday. We are also collecting goodies for our little guests, including stuffies, candies, and baskets.  Every child in the hunt picks a stuffed animal to be their personal advisor (since parents are not allowed to help), plus a basket for their eggs. Last year, we hosted over a dozen children searching for eggs on Easter morning.

Over the years, I have collected ceramic flue liners of many sizes – to use as planters. Some I inherited from my father’s garden. I have just planted two of these (plus an old steel pipe section) with red and yellow kangaroo paws, to go with the two I already have filled with pink geraniums. These tall planters create a new visual level (and keep the flowers away from our boy dog’s attentions). In the pictures, you can see the pipes against the background of WP668, our backyard caboose.  The new flowers will be a pretty background for the egg hunt.

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Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Sad Lawns


The city or suburban lawn, although a delightful play place for pets and little people, is controversial -particularly in its water usage and run-off:

  • The California city of Santa Cruz offers a lawn removal rebate to encourage water conservation.
  • The US Geological Survey and others are studying how lawn fertilizer run-off may damage lakes.

Our family has been decreasing the size of our three areas of grass and creating drought-resistent gardens in their place.

John and I go for daily walks around our San Jose neighborhood of Willow Glen and naturally notice what our fellow-gardeners are doing. As we approach Easter, we now see the results of both fortunate and ill-advised Winter gardening efforts. As patchy as our back lawn is from enthusiastic dog wallowing, at least it is not the saddest lawn around!  Some neighborhood notables:

Zebra-lawn (from uneven fertilizer distribution):

Dandelion crop (too long between weeding):

Bowling lanes (from mowing when wet):

Dirt (work in progress?):

Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Pre-Easter (aka Lent)


We are getting ready for our annual family Easter Egg Hunt here in Willow Glen (San Jose, California): tidying the garden, coordinating schedules with guests and family, thinking about menus and decorations. This Lent (the forty days before Easter), I am also enjoying the unique Episcopal devotion called Lent Madness:

Lent Madness 2012 . Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Tim came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”

The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

Today’s contest is “Hilda of Whitby vs. Harriet Tubman“. It sounds silly and it is (but I am also learning more than I ever knew about the inspiring lives of 32 men and women who have given their lives to the service of God).

My flowers in full bloom for Easter:



Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Mentors Lunch

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16 TechWomen 2011-2012 mentors (and potential-2013 mentors) gathered at my house in San Jose California last weekend for a potluck lunch and to hear Conference Chair Taghrid Samak tell us about EgyptNEGMA (Entrepreneurship for Development in Egypt – to be held next week at MIT).  One of our own TechWomen mentees, Heba Hosny, is an EgyptNEGMA-2013 finalist. My guests enjoyed the new porch and a tour of WP668 – the backyard caboose where I have my office.  Three had also been mentors in my SEED mentoring program at Sun Microsystems.  It was such a pleasure to be able to host this remarkably talented and energetic group of technical women!



Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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

Digging the Past – Making a New Garden


Between professional duties, I have been creating a garden around my new porch. This has required days of digging – both to remove concrete, boulders, brick fragments, wood, nails, wire and trash from the dirt and to add compost to improve the soil. Most of the bushels of concrete bits I dug out were hand-sized or smaller, with a few the size of my head. The big surprise was an exceptionally heavy boulder, more than twice the size of my head, which for some reason was sunk deep in the planting bed. It took an hour to dig around it enough to pry up an edge, then roll it out without cracking the PVC water pipe it was nestled against.  I dug through old patches of sand, concrete rubble, sawdust, and clay from the various uses to which this ground has been put since 1930.  Other than ornamental rocks, the only item I discovered worth keeping was half a fork with a drilled end, probably part of an old wind chime.

The major plants I put in are drought-resistant and should do well in our hot San Jose California summers:

  1. Phormium (“Pink Stripe” and “Black Taya” New Zealand Flax)
  2. Lavandula (“Goodwin Creek” and French Lavender)
  3. Rosemary (prostrate)

Ground covers include Dymondia and Blue Fescue. The only plant to survive the construction (and heavy-booted construction workers) is the Meyer Lemon which seems much happier since we took away the fence and vine that were next to it.  I hope we get more rain to help settle the new plants before the weather gets much warmer.



January 2013:
Last Import-15

December 2012:

July 2012:

Images Copyright 2012-2013 by Katy Dickinson


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