Tag Archives: San Jose

Making a Rock Garden

My daughter Jessica and I took a break from our professional and academic responsibilities to make her a new rock garden yesterday. When we travel, she and I interview rocks large and small which might want to come home with us. This summer, Jessica and I each brought home a selection of boulders. I used mine to extend my informal rock wall which is both decorative – and keeps the dogs from racing through my flower beds.

Jessica dedicated her new boulders to a rock garden next to the driveway and then used the decorative river rocks that we took out of where the rock garden was installed to trim her street side planting bed.  For the plantings in her rock garden, Jessica selected:

  • Lithops – also called living stones
  • Aloe – descended from a single plant I gave her in college
  • Portulacaria – also called elephant bush (both green and variegated with red stems)
  • Sedum – or stonecrop
  • Echeveria – also called hens and chicks, with pink edges

After tilling the soil below, taking out larger rocks, and digging in soil amendment,  we used pieces of slate and flat stones behind the boulders to create basins of top soil for the news plantings – and to direct moisture away from the side fence.  The stones form the bones of the garden, the aloes provide form and structure, and the smaller plants and seashells add color and contrasting shapes.  We added two potted succulents in green pots for height and variety.  Jessica will extend the garden further when she adopts new boulders during future travels.

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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson and Jessica Dickinson Goodman.

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Easter Egg Hunt 2018

Easter was on Sunday 1 April in 2017 (also John’s Birthday!) and as usual we had friends, family, and neighbors over for a potluck brunch and Easter Egg Hunt in our back garden and on WP668. The Associate Easter Bunny wrote a very difficult set of riddles for the adults to find the Gold and Silver Eggs.

Gold Egg
The clue has 3 words; each quatrain is a clue for one of them.

Birds circle in their dances, bright pinions
a-spinning as they whirl; making circles
and ovals and untracable-shapes to
describe with their sleek bodies this first clue.
The second clue is the colonial name
of an Alaskan burb, whose name now means
either a place for gathering potatoes
or snowy-owl in old Iñupiat.
Third clue: what do snakes and shells and people
and varicella-pox and cats and dogs
and lizards and chameleons and rats
and nematodes and bats do in common?
Hold up one finger, tap three on your arm:
that’s quatrain one and two. A charades charm!

Solution: The Gold Egg was in a brown paper bag behind a storage shed next to a yellow wheelbarrow.

Silver Egg
Literary references may require a search engine for non-English majors

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote |
In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a
song. | queer / old balloonman whistles / far and
wee and bettyandisbel come dancing |
Can curls rob can curls quote, quotable. As
presently. As exactitude. As | [Here]
keys in hand, I’ll reach the landing and / you’re
there—the one lesson I never get right. |
It has taken / seventeen years. This trip,
these characters patterned / in black ink, curves |
having been previously hardened, tempered
or sprung. Precision Steel’s inventory |

Solution: The Silver Egg was in a brown paper bag tucked into the end of a leaf spring under the WP668 caboose.

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Images Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson (with one from Jessica Dickinson Goodman).

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Coolest Office in San Jose

WP668 Railroad Caboose in San Jose California

Thanks to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (and Ahmad Chapman, his Communications Specialist) who created the Great 408  community celebration program for San Jose which says about “77. Backyard Railroad Caboose” –

You can have your glass-walled high rises and ergonomic standing desks; Katy Dickinson has the coolest office in San Jose. That’s because it’s a 1916 Western Pacific steel framed wooden caboose in the backyard of the Willow Glen home she shares with her husband, John Plocher. The couple purchased the caboose in 2006 from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in San Francisco after it lost its lease. It was in storage in San Jose for more than a year until it was moved to their backyard in May 2007. The couple has been restoring the caboose bit by bit for more than a decade. Be sure to check out Katy and John’s website for more photos and the history of the caboose.

The web page features the 2007 video by Sam Fineberg of WP668 moving into our backyard. WP668 is the office for my company, Mentoring Standard.

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Photos Copyright 2008-2017 by Katy Dickinson.

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

Visiting Central California Missions

Jessica, Laura, Cathie, Katy on Mission Trip June 2017

My daughter Jessica, friends Laura Biche, her sister Cathie Ferris, and I are continuing our quest to visit all of the California Missions. In 2015-2016, we visited seven Missions (listed north to south, with the order of establishment in parenthesis):

  1. Mission San Francisco Solano, (#21) in Sonoma 
  2. Mission San Rafael Arcángel, (#20) in San Rafael
  3. Mission San Francisco de Asís (“Mission Dolores”, #6), in San Francisco
  4. Mission Santa Clara de Asís, (#8) in Santa Clara
  5. San Juan Bautista, (#15) in San Juan Bautista
  6. Nuestra Senora de Soledad, (#13) in Soledad
  7. San Antonio de Padua, (#3) in Jolon

Last weekend starting from San Jose, we visited six more Missions, plus another visit to San Juan Bautista since we had dinner in town:

  1. Mission San Miguel Arcángel, (#16) in San Miguel
  2. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, (#5) in San Luis Obispo
  3. Mission La Purísima Concepción, (#11) near Lompoc
  4. Mission Santa Inés, (#19) in Solvang
  5. Mission Santa Barbara, (#10) in Santa Barbara
  6. Mission San Buenaventura, (#9) in Ventura

Since we were traveling on a Sunday, we attended services at Mission San Buenaventura.  Many of the missions are still in active use by the Catholic Church. A few are public museums. We have eight more Missions to visit, in two trips: one to Southern California and the other near where we live in Northern California:

Southern California

  1. Mission San Fernando Rey de España, (#17) in Mission Hills (Los Angeles)
  2. Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, (#4) in San Gabriel
  3. Mission San Juan Capistrano, (#7) in San Juan Capistrano
  4. Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, (#18) in Oceanside
  5. Mission San Diego de Alcalá, (#1) in San Diego

Northern California

  1. Mission Santa Cruz, (#12) in Santa Cruz
  2. Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, (#2) in Carmel
  3. Mission San José, (#14) in Fremont

Pictures of Mission San Miguel Arcángel:

San Miguel Arcangel Mission June 2017

San Miguel Arcangel Mission June 2017

Pictures of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa:

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Mission June 2017
San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Mission June 2017

Pictures of Mission La Purísima Concepción:

La Purisima Mission June 2017
La Purisima Mission June 2017

Pictures of Mission Santa Inés:

Santa Ines Mission June 2017
Santa Ines Mission June 2017

Pictures of Mission Santa Barbara:

Santa Barbara Mission June 2017
Santa Barbara Mission June 2017

Pictures of Mission San Buenaventura:

San Buenaventura Mission June 2017
San Buenaventura Mission June 2017

Mission San Juan Bautista:

San Juan Bautista Mission June 2017

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Extra Gear? Gifts for Sierra Leone

Gifts for Sierra Leone trip June-July 2017

My daughter Jessica and I will be visiting Families Without Borders in Sierra Leone next week with Terri Khonsari. If you have any extra laptops or smart phones we can bring – no matter how old or dead – the students will be delighted with your donation. Please contact me soon!

I have visited the inspiring and fascinating continent of Africa at least once a year since 2010. With TechWomen Delegations, I have been to Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, plus participating in Delegations to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa below the Sahara. With People to People, John and I visited Ethiopia. My only actual vacation in Africa was to Egypt in 2010 – a much longer trip than planned since our family was stranded there by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  This will be my first trip to West Africa.

I bring gifts on each trip for our generous hosts and for new friends and colleagues. For my first TechWomen Delegations, I had custom pencils made but more recently, I have brought San Francisco keychains and geeky pens and toys given away at events like the Grace Hopper Conference.  For this trip, I bought keychains, the Willow Glen Wells Fargo Bank branch gave me a big bag of red pens, and I am also bringing packages of stickers for the children.

However, the best present for the students in Sierra Leone would be empowerment and greater connection to the wider world.  Your outdated computer gear can help them.  I hope to hear from you!

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Image Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Easter Egg Hunt 2017

Thoko Miya and WP668 - Easter, April 2017 IMG_9858

Catching up on my postings… Easter was on Sunday 16 April in 2017 and as usual we had friends, family, and neighbors over for a potluck brunch and Easter Egg Hunt in our back garden and on WP668. The Associate Easter Bunny wrote a very difficult set of riddles for the adults to find the Gold and Silver Eggs – one of the clues was on Twitter! Jessica, Matthew, Paul, and John all helped – as did our house guest Thoko Miya from South Africa. John cooked Maqluba (chicken and rice “upside down” from Jordan) which was much appreciated!

Jessica and Matthew and Paul - Easter, April 2017 IMG_9855

John and Larissa Shapiro and Maqluba - Easter, April 2017 IMG_9926

Paul and kids - Easter, April 2017 IMG_9933

Gold egg found - Easter, April 2017 IMG_9911

Silver Egg

    • I am a beautiful-bold building block,
    • a 1-to-2 ton ballerina queen.
    • My reach spreads from Iskanderia to
    • where Toko lives (though there are fewer of
    • my ances-sisters bellowing than lived
    • there free when Ibn Batuta roved from
    • the Cape to Cairo and Mongol Guangzhou,
    • from shadowed Fez to wet-and-wild Mosul.)
    • I’m sunning myself in the shade of yolks
    • that hold their albumen inside their skins,
    • that parents feed their dogs for YouTube lulz,
    • and babies cry-smile when first they taste them.
    • So far I’ve led you on a lumbering chase
    • Msr, AsSeen, Arak — where is my place?

(the Silver Egg was hidden in the dirt, under a concrete hippo, under a lemon tree)

Gold Egg

    • Six unkind clues will guide
    • you briskly to my haunt,
    • in shadow where I hide.
    • Get hopping – it’s a jaunt!
    • You’ll climb among downed-trees
    • and wander through spike-leaves…
    • Hop quickly so Ethan won’t flaunt!

(the Gold Egg was on top of the light bulb, inside the glass cover of the overhead light fixture, on the porch)

Gold Egg – Clue 1

    • I’m surrounded by pot apparatus
    • But it’s not a medicinal grow.
    • You’ll not have to climb up to the attics
    • or wander wader-deep in the snow.
    • You’ll just have to walk
    • to a gate that unlocks
    • and find out where Paul’s clay does go.

Gold Egg – Clue 2

    • The next clue is online
    • you’ll practically titter
    • when you see the next poem
    • is posted on Twitter.

Gold Egg – Clue 3 – from Twitter

    • Upon a bright flower
    • You’ll find my small bower.
    • Not on a rosethorn,
    • or leaf-ling of corn
    • – under cactus and dragon I glower.

Gold Egg – Clue 4

    • Under Princess’s butt I was warming
    • My contents I hope you’ll find charming
    • But because she’s a cat
    • And upon me she sat
    • My message by now will be warming.

Gold Egg – Clue 5

    • You’ve lined up and squarely stood still
    • You’ve caught-on and gotten your fill
    • and now hear’s the treat:
    • an Easter-hunt feat
    • You’ll find me outside grey-bird’s sill.

Egg hunt - Easter, April 2017 IMG_9903

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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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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