Tag Archives: Paul

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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New Front Yard

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During the last week or so, we have been following up on the water conserving landscape plans I wrote about in August. So far, we have removed the old lawn, brought in new topsoil and decorative boulders, created Paul’s seating area, and placed hundreds of new plants. While I am in Monterey tomorrow with the TechWomen mentors and Emerging Leaders from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, John is going to finish installing the new watering system. The last step is to put mulch (bark chips) around the plants to conserve water and protect them. So far, I am happy with the results!  Once everything is complete, I can submit receipts to the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) for a refund of part of the cost of this big project.

August 2015:
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October 2015:
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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Moving Day for Mom

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Yesterday was tough. About 12 of us (5 family members plus a great team of professional movers) spent 12 hours shifting my mother from her Independent Living apartment to a new Assisted Living apartment across the parking lot on the same campus. My kids took their Grandmother out for the day (to breakfast and church and to visit the Cantor Arts Center) while my brother, husband, and I moved her stuff. She did not want to move but her family and doctors all see that with progressive memory loss, my mother needs more help than we can provide with less-than-fulltime caregivers. We hired movers who took photos of everything and did their best to set up the new apartment in exactly the same arrangement as the old. Her cats were unhappy to be kept safe in carriers all day – and are probably still hiding under the bed.  We moved everything: furniture, kitchen, art, more art, art supplies, her big easel, electronics, and an entire deck-full of heavy plants and planters.  The point in reproducing the old place in the new was that she would not notice – and she didn’t.  Success meant that our day of sorting, heavy lifting and tricky decision-making went largely unrecognized.  Hooray?

A few years ago, I was touched when my younger brother sent me this poem about difficulties in taking care of our mother. My two brothers live much farther away, so I manage her day-to-day business, caretakers, and medical decisions. My brothers and I confer on resolving larger issues.  Sometimes it feels like having another child myself – but one who gets less mature as time passes.  No matter what, we love her as she is.

The Guardian
by Joseph Mills

I don’t think my brother realized all
the responsibilities involved in being
her guardian, not just the paperwork
but the trips to the dentist and Wal-Mart,
the making sure she has underwear,
money to buy Pepsis, the crying calls
because she has no shampoo even though
he has bought her several bottles recently.
We talk about how he might bring this up
with the staff, how best to delicately ask
if they’re using her shampoo on others
or maybe just allowing her too much.
“You only need a little, Mom,” he said,
“Not a handful.” “I don’t have any!”
she shouted before hanging up. Later
he finds a bottle stashed in her closet
and two more hidden in the bathroom
along with crackers, spoons, and socks.
Afraid someone might steal her things,
she hides them, but then not only forgets
where, but that she ever had them at all.

I tease my brother, “You always wanted
another kid.” He doesn’t laugh. She hated
her father, and, in this second childhood,
she resents the one who takes care of her.
When I call, she complains about how
my brother treats her and how she hasn’t
seen him in years. If I explain everything
he’s doing, she admires the way I stick up
for him. Doing nothing means I do nothing
wrong. This is love’s blindness and love’s
injustice. It’s why I expect to hear anger
or bitterness in my brother’s voice, and why
each time we talk, no matter how closely
I listen, I’m astonished to hear only love.

“The Guardian” by Joseph Mills, from Love and Other Collisions. © Press 53, 2010.

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Water Conservation Landscape Program – Santa Clara Valley

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We have been reducing our home water use for many years and have recently been approved to proceed with a landscape redesign as part of the Landscape Rebate Program of the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD). In April 2015, we started the process of replacing our 1006 square feet of water-hungry front lawn with a garden that needs less irrigation. During the last four months while the severe California drought has helped our our lawn to die,  John and Paul and I have completed these process steps:

  1. “Pre-Inspection Survey” by Conservision – in which our eligible landscaping was officially measured and evaluated and reported to SCVWD, 8 May 2015.
  2. Returned “Landscape Rebate Program Request for Application Form” to SCVWD, 8 May 2015.
  3. Received blank “Landscape Rebate Program Application Form” from SCVWD – mailed to us 3 June 2015
  4. Returned “Landscape Rebate Program Application Form” to SCVWD – mailed 22 June 2015, complete with detailed garden diagrams (created using Garden Planner software) with plant, materials, and irrigation equipment lists. This required much cross checking of the Sunset Western Garden Book against the SCVWD Qualifying Plant List – as well as family discussions about what we want at the end of this process.
  5. Received “Notice to Proceed” from SCVWD, dated 28 July 2015.

In designing the new garden, I was very disappointed that many of the California native plants I had originally thought to use in my landscape design were marked in the Qualifying Plant List as having “Genetic Concerns”.  I think most home gardeners will be like me – unwilling to hire/pay a plant ecologist (or find a qualifying native plant database) to determine the local wild populations. I ended up picking from listed plants that are non-natives.

“*G = Genetic Concerns This genus contains species native to Santa Clara County or cultivars that have parents which are native to Santa Clara County. Consult a plant ecologist or native plant database to determine if your landscape project is located within 5 miles of wild populations. If so, please follow these suggestions to protect local genetic integrity: 1) select a local ecotype 2) avoid use of cultivars or hybrids, especially those with non-local or unknown parentage and 3) avoid use of nonnative ornamentals which share the same genus in order to prevent unnatural hybridization.” (from the SCVWD Qualifying Plant List)

I think that the complex and drawn-out application process assumes that most people will be hiring a landscaping company to do the work.  The Landscape Conversion Rebate potentially pays $2 per square foot for converting high water using landscape to low water using landscape (through December 31, 2015).   SCVWD will only reimburse for materials (plants, equipment, dirt, mulch, rocks), not labor, so even with the rebate this could be a very expensive project for those who cannot do the work themselves.  My planting list includes:

  • Phormium – flax (purple/brown)
  • Bearded iris (red and purple and yellow)
  • Muhlenbergia rigens – deer grass
  • Helictotrichon sempervirens – Blue oat grass
  • Verbena lilacina (purple)
  • Verbena peruviana (red)
  • Achillea tomentosa – woolly yarrow (yellow/grey)
  • Agapanthus inapertus (purple)
  • Narcissus – daffodils (yellow)
  • Dymondia margaretae (yellow/grey)

I have 90 days from 28 July to finish!

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Photo Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson. Diagram created using Garden Planner software

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New Fire Hydrant in Willow Glen

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Three years ago, I wrote about our north east Willow Glen neighborhood losing one of its two fire hydrants and what it took to get it replaced. A fire hydrant helps firefighters tap into the municipal water supply to extinguish a fire. We are delighted to be getting a third local fireplug – even if it has meant dancing do-si-do with large construction equipment to get into our driveways all week. It will be a month before the new/larger water pipes become active but with the severe California drought continuing into its fourth year, having better access to emergency water is one less thing to worry about.

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The San Francisco Bay Area saw a big dry lightning storm last night – which fortunately does not seem to have added to the count of wildfires already burning in the Golden State.  On the drive home from vacation in the San Juan Islands in Washington State, last week John and Paul and I drove through the thick smoke of the Stouts Creek Fire in Oregon, which has burned over 20,800 acres (32.5 square miles) since 30 July. There was smoke along Highway 5 for more than 200 miles south of that fire – giving us a great sunset over Shasta Lake in California.  It was a scary reminder of how destructive fires can be.

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Willamette Valley Winery

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On the drive home from vacation in the San Juan Islands in Washington State, last week John and Paul and I visited two wineries in the Willamette Valley, south of Portland in Oregon. At the recommendation of my business partner, Kathy Jenks, we tasted wines at Willakenzie (founded by former Sun Microsystems executive Bernard Lacroute), and also at Domaine Serene. The area is famous for its Pinot noir grapes and wines.  We came home with a case of bottles to enjoy during the coming year.  I am not sure why Domaine Serene had a full-size wolly mammoth sculpture on the grounds but it makes for a good photo.

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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San Juan Islands, Washington State

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We are just driving home from a week with family in the San Juan Islands at the north end of the State of Washington, just below Canada. This is about a thousand miles driving each way from our home in San Jose, California! All along the way, we saw the looming background presence of some of the largest California-Oregon-Washington mountains: Shasta, Baker, Rainier – part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean.

As this was our first visit to the islands, we also saw many of the tourist sights: Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, Pelindaba Lavender, whale watching with San Juan Excursions, Orcas Island Pottery, the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Lime Kiln Point State Park, etc. There were a great variety of wild and tame animals along the way: foxes, orcas, a great horned owl, deer, a camel, a black snake, salmon, seagulls, harbor seals and dolphins, sea anemones and barnacles, bald eagles, turkey vultures, quail, honey bees and bumble bees, raccoons and alpacas – and of course, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, cats and dogs. We enjoyed two Shakespeare performances: Much Ado About Nothing (at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR), and Cymbeline (at Island Stage Left, Roche Harbor, WA). A delightful trip!

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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