Tag Archives: Paul

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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Maker Faire in San Mateo, California

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This weekend was the 10th annual Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area. John and Paul and I bought weekend tickets to the event at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. I could not go yesterday due to the schedule conflict but I had a great time at the fair today. John has been involved in open source hardware and software for many years (see his publications on SPCoast). Paul is a skilled ceramics artist and has recently started metalwork at SJSU. We all enjoy seeing the new DIY tools and demonstrations.

I was delighted to see the US Patent and Trademark Office had a booth where they were distributing cards honoring American inventors – among them Ellen Ochoa who is also an honoree on the Notable Women in Computing card deck and poster. The best part of the Maker Faire is watching children engage with tools and technology – learning to create the world they will live in.

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Making Sourdough Bread

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Kathy Jenks (my partner at Mentoring Standard) and I discussed our current work projects on Thursday as Kathy taught my son Paul how to make sourdough bread. We have been growing the yeast in our San Jose kitchen for the last week. She used the book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman (2012) as a reference.

Paul is a skilled ceramicist and his current classes at San Jose State University include both raku ware pottery and metal work, so kneading and moulding a loaf then baking it came easily to him. Future loaves will have a more regular shape, I am sure, but these tasted wonderful!

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Here are some of Paul’s recent art projects:

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dragon 3 . dragon 14

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Images copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson and Paul D. Goodman

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Easter Egg Hunt 2015

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Yesterday morning was our annual backyard Easter Egg Hunt – a very popular event among our friends, family, and neighbors. Children ages 9 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 poems gave clues to their locations:

Silver Egg
(buried in the dirt under a stepping stone of the steps up the riverbank)

The stone above me keeps me in the dark.
I would glow like moonlight if I could be
found. But long you’ll search in vain to find me,
because no single quality in your
thub-thubbing heart will guide you to my home:
a canine drive to find me in the ground;
a gardener’s love of dirt; you can possess
no loathing of Jerusalem Crickets’
shy heads; you must be brave to stoop to find
me here. Small hunters may contain within
themselves advantage for they are quite close
to where I make my hidey-home. But look—
you’ll find me if you search closely and dare,
to seek by bark if you would find my lair.

Gold Egg
(tied to a young palm tree frond about ten feet above the ground)

Surrounding me is evidence of past
strong growth, for when my home came here it was
a child, with slender fronds and coiled roots.
But now! My home is tall and casts a shade
quite deeply on the stones beneath my feet.
They do not reach the kennel or the bank
for my tall perch is not yet fully grown.
A teenager provides me with both shade
and shelter from the never-ending drought.
My home is safe from desiccating years
for she was bred from stock that has survived
millennia on California’s dry shores.

Desiree and Dan found the Gold and Silver eggs eventually.  eleaThanks to the Associate Easter Bunny, my daughter Jessica for the poems (composed in Washington State), and thanks to Paul and John for helping create the festivities!  I love watching the children finding eggs in the garden to fill their baskets, then re-hiding eggs for each other after most of the eggs have been collected. A delightful celebration of new life and renewal!

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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