Tag Archives: San Jose

Dogs and Birds

At the end of March 2021, we adopted Bailey from the San Jose Animal Shelter. She is a mostly Malinois (a type of Belgian Shepherd) who is just over a year old. That is, Bailey is a teenager in dog-years. She is smart and active and curious, so John is spending quite a bit of time socializing and training her. In the afternoons our two 10 year-old dogs (Redda and Gilroy) are happy to sleep in their kennel, away from her energetic puppy demands to play.

We have dogs not only as pets but also to warn us when there are trespassers on the Guadalupe River bank that is our back property line. Several times a week there are homeless or random people who think (despite the signs and fences) that our yard is some kind of public park. Some of these transient neighbors decide that our ladders, bikes, tools, or other stuff are just what they need. Our dogs earn their keep by making our yard less accessible to petty thieves and unwelcome sightseers.

Bailey is sweet and cuddly, loves to run fast, jump in her water trough, and try to drink from the hose. Gilroy is teaching her to play fetch but while she will take his ball, she does not want to give it back. On the advice of a dog trainer, we are nose training Bailey – that is, giving her the task of hunting for treats using only scent – to engage her mind. We have to enforce daily naps so Bailey does not get over-tired.

At the same time as managing the dogs, our 15 year-old cockatiel birds (Guapo and Sparky) have developed health issues. Guapo in particular has been falling off his perch. Our vet suggested that we raise the floor of their cage. We also added cotton pillowcases for padding to make his splats softer. Guapo’s tail feathers are already starting to grow back.

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Willow Glen Garden Update

Cercidium Floridum, Desert Palo Verde, Parkinsonia Florida, San Jose CA, June 2021
Cercidium Floridum, Desert Palo Verde, Parkinsonia Florida, San Jose CA, June 2021

Now that I am done with Spring 2021 classes, I have been able to tend my garden. Our house in Willow Glen (San Jose, California) was built almost 100 years ago in the old bed of the Guadalupe River, so the soil is amazing. Yesterday, we planted a green-bark, yellow-flower Palo Verde tree (Desert Palo Verde – Cercidium floridum – Parkinsonia Florida), that should thrive in our increasingly-hot summers. The tomato garden I planted in March is starting to fruit, and the giant white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai), Pink Stripe Flax (Phormium), Matilija Poppies (Romneya), and four types of yarrow are blooming exuberantly. The oak tree named after my friend Seham Aljaafreh, who helped me plant it in 2014, has doubled in size this year.

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In Memory of Daniel Vega Martinez (1969-2021)

Daniel Vega Martinez 1969-2021, collage, from Peggy Bryan
Daniel Vega Martinez 1969-2021, collage, from the Rev. Peggy Bryan

On Sunday, a group of family and friends gathered to remember Daniel Vega Martinez (1969-2021). Daniel or “Big O” was a beloved member of our Stepping Stones reentry community, and had been in my class at Elmwood county jail. The Rev. Peggy Bryan, who leads the Stepping Stones community with Jack Fanning, wrote this tribute and account of Daniel’s death.

“Sadly, we said goodbye yesterday to Daniel Martinez, one of the first men I met at Elmwood and who, in reentry, was my teacher about the authentic challenges faced by living on the streets. Daniel was handed a tough life and the demons of addiction and shame finally tracked him down. Sunday he was found in flames in the cab of the truck he was living in. He was transported to VMC’s Burn Unit but his injuries were deemed unsurvivable so yesterday I offered final prayers as his wife, children and sisters circled him with love…Expressions of condolences and love are pouring in from those incarcerated and those outside who knew, loved and respect Daniel, ‘Big O’, as a man of God and a real St. Paul when leading behind bars, in prison or jail. The cause of the fire is unknown—accident, suicide, homicide…Please keep everyone in your prayers, those who call him father, brother, husband, mentor, friend and teacher are spread far and wide. As plans for a service are known, I’ll let you know. My heart is broken, this has been beyond brutal, but it helps knowing Daniel finally rests In God’s perfect peace.”

Fifty of Daniel’s friends and family got together in the San Jose parking lot to honor his life and lay flowers at the burn site where he was fatally injured.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him

30 May 2021 Update: Daniel’s Memorial Service at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Daniel Martinez memorial, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 30 May 2021
Daniel Martinez memorial, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 30 May 2021

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Guadalupe River – Flood Season

San Jose, CA, Guadalupe River 27 Jan 2021

It’s that time of year: flood season on San Jose’s Guadalupe River. Late yesterday afternoon, yellow rain slicker clad city workers went house to house to tell us of immediate danger of flooding. In addition to the houses, city workers went to each of the homeless camps near us to be sure that our unhoused neighbors were also prepared. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many homeless living under bridges and in culverts near the river where they are in danger as the water rises. We are watching the water levels on the NOAA map.

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Four Family Clocks

We have four old family clocks, two of which work and one of which chimes. The sound of the two ticks and the chimes fills our downstairs with small comforting noises, even when everyone is silently interacting with their computing devices. The clocks keep time but not with each other. It is somewhat like how Terry Pratchett describes the clocks in his fictional city of Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld,

“Noon in Ankh-Morpork took some time, since twelve o’clock was established by consensus. Generally, the first bell to start was that one in the Teachers’ Guild, in response to the universal prayers of its members. Then the water clock on the Temple of Small Gods would trigger the big bronze gong. The black bell in the Temple of Fate struck once, unexpectedly, but by then the silver pedal-driven carillon in the Fools’ Guild would be tinkling, the gongs, bells and chimes of all the Guilds and temples would be in full swing, and it was impossible to tell them apart, except for the tongueless and magical octiron bell of Old Tom in the Unseen University clock tower, whose twelve measured silences temporarily overruled the din. And finally, several strokes behind all the others, was the bell of the Assassin’s Guild, which was always last.” (Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms, 1993).

The Junghans chiming mantle clock was a wedding present in 2000 from John’s parents. It was purchased by John’s great-grandfather Johannes Plocher in Holzhauzen, Germany. Joannes and his wife Anna gave it to their son (John’s grandfather), Karl on his wedding Adelia, in 1930. I love the art deco design on the clockworks inside the case.

I bought the Gilbert wall clock in 2008 as a birthday present for John. The clock itself is from about 1915. The Western Pacific glass is not original but is one of the reasons we like it, since we own WP668, a Western Pacific caboose. John winds up his Junghans and Gilbert clocks every week.

The two clocks which have stopped working are from my family. One is a gilt metal Rococo style clock that my father’s mother, Gladys Grace Oakes Dickinson, loved. The other is an ornate horseman clock that my mother, Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, had since I was young. Surprisingly, even though they are from different parts of my family, both were made by the New Haven Clock Company, probably over a hundred years ago.

Web search results showing many horse-only New Haven Clocks

Update: I have been looking for more information about the New Haven Clock with the ornate warrior horseman figure. I found that a version of this clock with the exact same horse but no rider is relatively common. All of the versions I have found on the web have a top piece above the clock that is missing on ours. Sometimes the horse is on the right and sometimes on the left of the clock on the pedestal. I still have not found an exact match. My Aunt Louise Creekmore Senatore read my blog and wrote that her father (my grandfather), Robert Elmond Creekmore, was once its owner in Knoxville, Tennessee, “the Ornate Horseman clock was on my Dad’s bureau for years when I was a child. It traveled with us to Windgate (1964), stayed on his bureau, and Eleanor asked Mom for it when Dad passed away (1976).”

I found this tiny, blurry thumbnail photo on the web of a gilded variant of our clock but it is on a dead website. Still hunting for more information!

New Haven Gilt Clock, horseman figure

(None of these clocks is for sale – please do not ask.)

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Updated 20 Oct 2020

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Micro Farm Update

Katy Dickinson micro farm San Jose CA June 2020

My Willow Glen micro farm is thriving. I usually grow cactus, and herbs like fennel, rosemary, and sage. Since we are mostly staying home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am taking the opportunity to grow vegetables. I started this project in April by converting a section of our little orchard. The first fruits of my farming efforts are cherry tomatoes and delicata squash. Both indicate their readiness by a color change. The tomatoes shift from green to yellow to red. The delicata squash start white and develop green lines as they mature.  The tallest plants are sunflowers, which are currently competing with the apple tree for head room. I am expecting beans, peas, corn, and watermelon over time.

Katy Dickinson delicata squash San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson delicata squash San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson cherry tomatoes San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson cherry tomatoes San Jose CA June 2020

Katy Dickinson cactus blooms San Jose CA June 2020
Katy Dickinson fennel San Jose CA June 2020

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Leading by Example

On Facebook, I have been posting stories which demonstrate leading by example. I disagree with Sharon Keating’s assessment in her Buzzfeed article yesterday, “Stop Sharing Viral Photos Of Cops Kneeling With Protesters”, in which she writes, “This movement is not about individuals.”  Systemic evil like our country’s racism and violence toward people of color was built up one person at a time. I believe this toxic system can only be torn down by each of us honoring each other’s importance as an individual, a valued and loved child of God. A moment of humble solidarity is important, is something we can build on and celebrate. Even though they may not last, I will continue to share those moments of leadership.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)

Facebook Posts on Leading by Example

Dee Alcott-Rogriguez post 5 June 2020

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Thanks to the Rev. Peggy Bryan for the “Faith can move mountains…” image!

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