McKee Quality Landscaping
Ballet San Jose
But, is it art?
Goats on the
Eastridge Mall was still deep in the throes of its monumental renewal and renovation when they invited area folks over to take a peek at the goings on. While it is true that one can now move about freely in the corridors among the shops and kiosks, it is not true that most of the food court or Barnes and Noble were open for business. To all appearances, B. & N. is not much more than a gleam in the eye of its developer. It’s clearly marked on the map, but only blank painted walls with no signage at all greeted visitors. Roving ambassador type employees walked around with big smiles waiting to guide customers and answer questions. However, they were unable to locate themselves on the map, let alone point out the wing where Barnes and Noble will be. Many, many businesses are still not open. The Grand Opening is promised for November with some stores and restaurants not slated until next spring or summer even.
The anchor stores, Sears, JC Penney and Macy’s are unchanged and there will be no new ones. Most of the small shops are back with an emphasis on lingerie (think Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood), jewelry and shoes. Starbucks Coffee will have a shop near mid-center on the first floor, but looking down from the second floor into its space-in-progress, visitors can see that it’s basically an empty shell at this point.
There apparently will not be a See’s Candy store! This omission alone is tantamount to a rank insult to many Eastsiders who took their candy shopping business to Eastridge and stayed to buy holiday gifts and new spring outfits for the kids while they were at it. The developers of “The New Eastridge” say they gave much consideration to the wishes of their customers. It would be interesting to know just who was polled and/or whose wish list was honored. NNV is aware of several newsletter readers who phoned the management company and made suggestions regarding favorite shops. Beverages and More, Trader Joe’s and See’s Candies were all suggested as were “white table cloth” sit-down restaurants. It doesn’t appear that a BevMo, T.J.’s or Mrs. See’s made the cut. To be fair, however, we believe the Eastridge management when they say they courted Trader Joe’s passionately, but didn’t get to first base.
And about those sit-down restaurants? Chili’s and Macaroni Grill are the first ones to commit. No one is talking yet about the other three except to say they will all open in Spring, 2006. It is assumed that some restaurants must be in negotiations just months from their opening but mum’s the word on what chains they will represent. NNV will continue to inquire. Meanwhile, the denizens of the large, gleaming, new food court represent cuisines from around the world – fast food style.
How does the mall look with its one hundred million dollar makeover almost complete? Well, it’s lighter and brighter and shinier and classier. They’ve gone for a sophisticated palette with smoky and café au lait tones. There are some fifties retro squiggles and nifty tile work. The revamped skylights and lighting fixtures are impressive and create an airiness which did not exist before. The luxurious living-room-style relaxation and waiting area outside the lower entrance to Sears is a masterpiece – especially when viewed from above.
But was the renovation worth the time, money and inconvenience it cost? Probably not - unfortunately. Shoppers will essentially see the “same old same old” footprint, the same old anchor stores and many of the same old marginal shops. The expectation that, since they were going to spend all that money, there would be some new special drawing card was an illusion. While having an Eastside Barnes and Noble is wonderful, by itself it may not bring in the shoppers. However, Eastridge will continue to have plenty of easy parking and good access for Eastsiders. It one day soon will have its U.S. Post Office back in the mall which has always been a plus. NNV thinks that many Eastsiders will still be drawn to Steven’s Creek Boulevard to do their serious shopping though. Perhaps it’s still not too late for mall owners, General Growth Properties, to fine tune the vendor list?
What do you think of the new Eastridge? Send a Letter to the Editor to JudyET@NNVESJ.org or phone (408) 272-7008.
Click here for photos of the the new Eastridge.
After doing 45 San Jose Grand Prix promotional events and putting in over 350
hours of volunteer time you would think I'd had enough of this street race stuff
and cars in general. Think again. In order to wind down from the last seven
months of getting the Bay Area ready for this Grand Prix, I road tripped up to
Reno for the Hot August Nights show for a view of the over 5,000 hot rods of
every vehicle make, color and wild style. I didn't even let the fact that my
mobile hotel (my buddy's van) blew a water pump on the way up in 100 plus degree
weather slow me down.
My fellow car nut neighbor, Doug Moore (into Packard cars, not Alfa Romeo's)
nearly ran me over in the parking lot of the Atlantis Hotel/Casino in his Mach 1
immediately following an unscheduled thunderstorm. OK, he wasn't driving, but
was stuffed in the back seat. Where else would you see men in their 50's and
60's riding five in a Mustang, like high school kids, other than Hot August
I just got back from a full weekend of the world-famous Monterey Historic -
sport cars galore and Pebble Beach (Yes, Jay Leno was there again to announce
the raffle winners) and to further convalesce after the San Jose Grand Prix.
Doug Moore, this time not behind the wheel or in the back seat of his Mustang,
crossed paths with me outside the famed Pebble Beach Lodge. Where there's a
Packard car, there's Doug.
San Jose Grand Prix
To quote the Vice President and General Manager of the San Jose Grand Prix, Bob Singleton, he was “blown away” by the last minute crowd (11,000 walk-up tickets) that showed up for the race on Sunday (for a total attendance of 62,000 fans on Sunday!). A grand total attendance of about 153,000 people made the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix a history-making event for San Jose. This event was truly more than a race. With my media pass strung around my neck, I proceeded to cover every inch of the temporary street course and snap about 1,500 photos. I'm still editing photos.
The Friday Canary Fund gala, Cabana Night, with its auction and cash
contributions, raised over half a million dollars for early detection cancer
research. The top two items auctioned were a bicycle ride with Lance Armstrong
and his buddy, Robin Williams, anywhere in the US. The winning bidder would be
flown there in a private jet. Each ride went for $30,000. On Saturday, the PR
firm of Orloff/Williams promoted the celebrity/CEO charity go-kart race. Our own
Eastside-raised resident and former news anchor, Brian Adams, was part of the
event. Orloff/Williams had just hired Brian prior to setting up the celebrity go
kart race with the Canary Fund. They hope to do more events with the Canary Fund
next year. And let's not forget actor/Champ car team owner Paul Newman, at the
age of 80, was on hand to drive in the go-kart race, proving age doesn't mean a
thing, at least not for him.
I'm happy to report that a fair number of my James Lick High School chums
were spotted walking around the track or to the local pub. Steve Ramirez, Mike
Gonzales, Bob Bariteau and Scott Paul all enjoyed the race weekend as of
Saturday. Spotted in front of the Hilton Hotel, Nick and Gino de Rose of
Antipasto's scored some free tickets from their beer supplier, Southbay
Beverages (Miller Beer sponsor for the SJGP) for Sunday's race. Nice going ...
Joe Leonard did have a small role in the Grand Prix. He rode in the driver parade lap as an honored guest. The official race program did a very nice story about our local racing hero, Joe, and even a little on Willy T Ribbs. Willy T unfortunately did not participate in any of the official Grand Prix events during the weekend - maybe next year. I was able to introduce Joe to the president of the Canary Fund, Don Listwin. They established an immediate special bond as they both lost loved ones to ovarian cancer. I haven't been to talk to Joe since the race, I certainly hope he enjoyed himself.
A well-attended public meeting held in mid-August at the San Jose City
Manager's office provided a forum for all to speak to officials about the event.
All came to praise the Grand Prix as a successful event but many also came with
concerns, gripes and suggestions for next year’s event. The folks from the Jazz
Festival looked for every opportunity to slam the Grand Prix and to re-mention
the condition Cesar Chavez Park was left in, and the broken fountain as well,
because of the Grand Prix event. Next year, instead of two weeks between the
Grand Prix and the Jazz Festival, there will be only one week between the two
events. In addition, an electronic arts convention will be on its heels in a
time slot close to the other two events. City officials and event organizers:
order your supplies of Valium early! SJGP VP/GM Bob Singleton admits to the
problems that occurred during the race weekend and he is already working on
improvements such as widening the track, getting the bumps out, having more
pedestrian bridges and better communication access and opportunities with and
for the local businesses in the immediate and not so immediate area of the race
course. They now know it takes six weeks to set the course and not four weeks.
Even with all that, everyone is upbeat for next year’s festival weekend event of
The Bay Area this summer has been jam packed with motor sports events. The
SJGP, like other cities’ races, has proven that urban street events are being
well received as a new source of entertainment. San Jose now joins those other
cities and, in doing so, is forever changing where auto racing events can and
will occur. We are regrouping and planning for next year's race promotions.
Hopefully you will see the yellow Canary show car around town, letting you know
that on July 28, 29 and 30th, the streets of downtown will come alive with the
sound of the Champ car series again.
The Webmaster at the SJGP has put together a fantastic photo gallery of the overwhelmingly successful, first ever, San Jose Grand Prix. Many of my photos were selected and combined with those selected from the pro's money shots in a format that really highlights the action and excitement of our first Champ Car race on the downtown streets of San Jose. Click here for the photo gallery. Enjoy.
Oh, last weekend, I ran up to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the IRL race, Champ Cars competing race series. Had to see our competition and find out what all the fuss was about with this Danica gal.
Click here for Dan's photos of the race. Click here for Dan’s earlier story on the San Jose Grand Prix and here for his story on Willy T Ribbs and here for his story on Joe Leonard.
NNV Note: Rafikis, Alum Rock Village’s favorite meeting place/café and Wi-Fi hangout, is much more than meets the eye. Proceeds from the little business help to fund medicines, nutritious food and educational opportunities via Christian ministry to desperately poor people in Africa and the Philippines.
This year we have seen our friends, Charles and Joyce von Hammerstein and their two little boys, pack up and move to Africa. Their house has just been completed and a nice Land Rover purchased for them to trek through the bush. This has been a big step of faith for us at New Covenant Christian Center, but we knew it was time and we needed a person to oversee the ministry there and work towards the building of an orphanage and school. Already they have begun classes for the adults to learn to read and write in their own language - Luo - and then later in English. Supplies of pencils and work books were purchased for them and they were so excited!
Many of the people there contend with illness on a daily basis and die, from malaria to pneumonia to AIDS. Since the von Hammersteins left in April, four have died and many are sick each time we speak to them. So they have been busy acquiring medicines and making trips to the hospitals on their behalf. This could be a full-time job in itself!
Charles travels by bike into the bush and the little surrounding villages doing Bible studies with the people since the car is down due to such harsh road conditions. (Right now they are waiting on a simple belt which takes 3 weeks to arrive from England IF they ordered the right one!) The people are so hungry to learn and know truth. Our goal is to teach them to be students themselves and equip them to search out what God desires for them. Africa is full of so many kinds of doctrines from the U.S. and European countries, and most conflicting. This leaves the people blowing about with each one and no understanding of how to measure what is of God and what is of man. They are such a simple people and believe so readily if God is attached to it. This leaves them used by many who are only in it for money and reputation. We teach them that Jesus' true servants will wash their feet and give all that they may live. This touches them more than anything to see this because they have been so enslaved and used by the "white man" and even their own people for so long.
The youth there leave their homes nine months out of the year to go to school. They awake at 4 a.m. to do chores and laundry, go to classes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a two hour break for a Catholic mass. They never see their families during this time and it is very costly for them to be sent to go. We are hoping soon to establish a school there like we have in the Philippines where the children can stay at home and be educated. Pray for us because this will be a big undertaking to train teachers, find materials, bring curriculum from the States, and keep it supported. Books are so hard to come by over there. Each time I go, I take a TimeLife book on the space program or other special editions they put out. The youth there are captivated for hours as we look through and read. They ask so many questions and are so eager to learn what is going on in the world. Some never knew that a man was on the moon or went to space!
The orphans there are so many. Last trip I wanted to gather them all and have a day for them to come and play games, feed them and serve them, but Peter, who lives there, said it will be too many and they will never leave. How sad, I thought, to do this and then have to send them away. It would break my heart. So I long for the day when we can call them to come and show them their own little rooms to stay in and their own school to be taught in with so many of the sisters to love them and raise them as their own. May God multiply our seed sown so this can come to pass.
So as you can see, the work is great! Every time you frequent Rafikis for
your morning coffee, afternoon smoothie to escape the heat or come in and relax
in the evenings with a relaxing cup of tea, you are helping this work. We need
your support! Invite your friends and family to Rafikis. Stop on the way to work
instead of visiting Starbucks or Pete's. Make the lives of people richer instead
of corporations. May God bless you for it!
Click here for photos from Africa.
One morning in the middle of last month, accompanied by neighborhood historian and former Calvary office manager, Carol Schultz, NNV discovered just who it is who maintains Calvary Cemetery and interfaces with the community on a day to day basis. We visited in the pleasant offices of Family Services General Manager, Carlos Rascon, a polite and friendly young man who began at Calvary as a groundsman eighteen years ago while Carol was still on the staff. Carol remembers well how Carlos came to cemetery work as a very young man who was surprised to find himself employed in an atmosphere he had carefully avoided until then. Superstitious and cemetery-averse, he took a job mowing grass at Calvary only because he fell into a job which was all he could find at the moment.
Carlos learned quickly that a cemetery is not the dark place he had envisioned and he found that his talents were a good fit at Calvary. He burnished his mechanical skills keeping equipment maintained and found that his capabilities were appreciated. One day, a senior cemetery employee came to Carlos and tapped his bilingual Spanish-English skills to confer with a Spanish-speaking client. It was not long before he found himself needed as much in the office as on the grounds and he soon officially became a receptionist and then a counselor.
Carlos Rascon has a great reverence for the ebb and flow of life which is documented in cemeteries. He takes pride in lovingly preserving the old registration ledgers which go back to 1883 when tiny Frankie Williams was the first person to be buried at Calvary. “James F. Williams” says the spidery handwriting of the first entry in the oldest of the large leather bound tomes.
History tells us that Frankie’s body was secretly brought to the newly established Alum Rock Avenue cemetery in the dead of night because he had died of highly contagious diphtheria. Later, in the light of day, his parents came back and placed a marker on his grave. It was a small stone lamb and the accompanying inscription said, “First one burried (sic) here.” An ignorant iconoclast, perhaps a self-described “collector” of grave markers, stole that small lamb. This summer Carlos had a replacement marker created to mark the location of Frankie’s remains. This thoughtful gesture is characteristic of his dedication to his work and his careful attention to the souls who are at rest at Calvary Cemetery.
Carlos makes a great issue of holding on to the old paper files which document so much of the cemetery’s past. He preserves boxes and boxes of old receipt stubs – each one tells a story of the passing of a life. He showed us a file box of large index cards. We had him photocopy one for us to document a transaction of July 17, 1929. It itemizes “Two graves at $15.00 per grave - $30.00.” “For opening a grave, $12.00.” The fountain penned handwriting is shaded and precise – there is nothing in the year 2005 which approaches the individual touches which marked a life’s final transactions seven decades ago. But Carlos will be sure that the evidences of these lost arts stay safely tucked away in Calvary’s storeroom.
He shared old photo albums showing the demolition of structures which once stood on the cemetery grounds. There was a small wooden chapel with gothic inspired stained-glass windows which graced the cemetery’s center. There are photos of the old worn, termite-weakened edifice being demolished in the 1980’s. The windows, although not distinguished as stained-glass goes, have been preserved in hopes they can be suitably reused in the future.
Carol and Carlos shared tales of the artesian wells which inundate the cemetery grounds. A water tower fed by one of those wells stood along the property line at Capitol Avenue and the well water was used for irrigation of the lawns. Not that there were always lawns! Even as late as 1971 when Carol went to work at Calvary, there was more dirt than grass. The headstones primarily stood surrounded by stark stone “coping” with the only green in evidence being in the flowers which mourners brought to decorate the graves. There still are old family mausoleums near the southwest corner of the cemetery which sit in their long-time stony isolation because the families’ descendents are concerned that water to irrigate new lawns would slowly destroy the old stone construction.
In 1975, about four years after Carol Schultz went to work at Calvary and twelve years before Carlos took that fateful groundsman job, the cemetery’s blighted condition inspired a major renovation. Carlos handed us a July 6, 1975, East San Jose Sun article which begins, “The grass is brown and weeds have sprung up around tombstones that no longer stand tall, but tip to the side. Some families have forgotten the gravesites of their dead, some buried almost 100 years ago. Calvary cemetery on Alum Rock and Capitol avenues has been aging ungracefully since its founding in 1882 as a parish cemetery for St. Patrick’s Catholic church.”
The archdiocese of San Francisco took over management of Calvary and immediately made plans to “completely renovate the cemetery, putting in lawns, a new water system and landscaping.” The renovation was to be done over a five to ten year period and would be a “very costly process, probably involving $500,000 to $750,000.” According to another article of the time, this one from the San Jose Mercury of September 25, 1975, “It may look as if they’re digging up Calvary Cemetery for a subdivision, but there’s really no cause for alarm. The departed aren’t being disturbed.” Doesn’t that sound like a recurrent concern in 2005’s “infill housing” projects?
Carlos’ responsibilities include managing sister cemetery, Gate of Heaven in Los Altos, as well as Calvary. He is overseeing expansion of the Calvary grounds on the Alexander Avenue side to the west. He said that “activity is low” just now at Calvary because their above-ground crypts are nearly full. Due to cultural traditions, the parishioners of the Portuguese Church of Five Wounds, not far away on East Santa Clara Street, favor burial in above-ground crypts. Calvary will embark on a new wave of construction this fall with plans for the eventual building of three new 500 space mausoleums. Carlos and his pleasant fellow staff members, receptionist Eva Aguilar, and counselor Alfred Ambriz will then rise to the task which they do so well, making final arrangements for the interment of the earthly remains of many of the community’s loved ones.
Click here for photos from this visit to Calvary. Click on these links for Calvary Cemetery Part I and Part II.
|Strong Neighbor Turn Out for McKee/Vista Question - Auto Care Center Proposal Nixed|
|Library System Adds Sunday Hours - CARL will be open every day of the week|
|County Historical Heritage Commission “Scoping” Meeting Draws Few|
|Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Photo of the Month - Indian Paintbrush|
|Six South American Orphans “Camp” in San Jose by Ed Solis|
|On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue: Chantilly Lace Shadow – Serendipitous discovery|
|On the Road – McKee Road: Squeaky wheel neighbors get results at Quality Tune-Ups|
|Kristin Henny, Lead Teacher at LUCHA School Honored - ARUSD “Small Schools”|
|December Faire Planned for JLHS - Athletic Booster Club invites artists, crafters ... You!|
|Duplexex? For Renta? Fascinating example of evolving language in Alum Rock Village|
|East San Jose Reads! Annual Community Literacy Event from Yenda Prado|
|Knight Foundation Funds Ballet Scholarships - To enhance Valley’s cultural life|
|Deckers’ Wonderful Home Open Again in October for YSI - Generous benefactors host|
|Free-form Art Installation at Old Country Club Bus Stop - Masterpiece of color and form|
The McKee/Vista neighborhood really did themselves proud when they inspired an overflow crowd of perhaps fifty or sixty people to attend a Community Meeting hosted by the City of San Jose Planning Department at Foothill Presbyterian Church on August 18th. The single issue on the agenda was whether the owners of the corner lot (which used to be the location of the small family produce market up until several years ago) could or should put an auto repair shop on that corner.
The owners, the Ho family, own several small auto repair businesses in the area and they wanted to add one more “neighborhood oriented” shop to their domain. The neighbors, however, had other ideas – mostly that they didn’t think that a noisy, unsightly auto repair place which generated traffic onto their sidewalk-less streets would be a welcome addition to the hood.
As it happened, the Ho’s had already decided that they did not want to provoke the neighbors of whatever new business they installed on the corner – so they had withdrawn their application and were ready to hear what the neighbors had to say and, in particular, what types of business they would like to occupy the space.
The neighbors had come loaded for bear and some had a hard time digesting the fact that the Ho’s had already given up on their original plan and some antagonistic words flowed until Joe Horwedel of the City Planning Department made it absolutely clear that they were tilting at non-existent windmills. However, one neighbor, Shan Y. Hsieh, had carefully prepared a report detailing the City’s carelessness in alerting the neighborhood to the Ho’s original proposal (they sent the hearing notices to the wrong set of people several blocks away). He earned grateful cheers from the assembled neighbors when he pointed out that the City was so “grossly neglectful” that, only because someone overheard a conversation in a local store, did anyone know that the City had accepted an application and given approval for a conditional use permit to the Ho’s. Joe Horwedel and his staff could only apologize for the goof-ups which apparently happened because of those old bugaboos – “computer” screw-ups. They even admitted that McKee/Vista’s lost hearing notices were not the only ones!
So, asked Brian Ho, the Project Manager of his family’s business, “What would be a suitable business for that corner?” It appeared that no one was quite sure what they wanted except Mr. Hsieh, who opined that an organic food store would be nice. Mr. Ho said that what they’re considering would be something like law offices or perhaps a dentist’s office or a florist shop or a postal annex. The neighbors were quick to point out that a previous floral shop had gone under. The Ho’s will find out quickly that the area is awash in postal opportunities.
What will happen next? The City will develop a “Site Development Permit Application” and will come back to the neighborhood for discussion – this time making absolutely sure that the hearing notices are received by the folks who live on Vista and Summit Avenues which are impacted by any business which goes into the corner. The Ho’s will demolish the old gas station/produce store and build something appropriate to the neighborhood. It will be a win-win for everyone except perhaps the patient Ho’s who say they have “suffered loss and distress” since they started the approval process in good faith in 2003 and thought they had a conditional use permit five months ago. Score one for a mobilized neighborhood. Score one for the Ho’s generous attitude. Score zero to the City for messing this up, but cut them some slack for their belated responsiveness to a well-organized bunch of citizens who went to bat for their neighborhood.
Click here for photos from the meeting.
Our new library will be open for business on Sunday afternoons beginning September 18th. The decision to change to being open on both days of the weekend was “controversial,” to say the least, because library personnel will never have a full weekend off without some special arrangements or taking vacation days. However, they will gamely make the most of the new schedule because serving the public is what they do.
Being open on Sunday afternoons (from 1:00 to 5:00 PM) will allow families to spend library time together and students to do homework assignments with the aid of library resources. The Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Branch Library, 3090 Alum Rock Avenue (at White Road), opened on July 9th and boasts 26,000 square feet of floor space, a Family Learning Center, study rooms, a technology center, Internet Café and a large community room.. They offer many family oriented services, large media collections and special language materials.
Regular hours are: Monday 2:00 to 7:00 PM, Tuesday and Wednesday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and, starting September 18, Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 PM.
For more information, click here or call the branch at (408) 808-3090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the meeting was announced on the NNV Community Bulletin Board and readers of the paper version of the August NNV received a special notice, only a small handful of area folks turned out at the new library to give their input to help set parameters for a new historic preservation ordinance which could impact our properties and homes. The few attendees heard a presentation from Yollette Merritt, a commissioner of the County Historical Commission, and Dana Peak, County staff member to the HHC, regarding the effects a neighborhood could expect from having a structured ordinance in effect. The Power Point presentation pointed out the negative misperceptions that seem to go hand-in-hand with many citizens’ understanding (or lack thereof) of the purpose for ordinances which protect “historic resources.”
The Historical Heritage Commission conducts surveys of historic resources within unincorporated Santa Clara County. They make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors as to which resources should be listed in the County’s Heritage Resource Inventory and suggest appropriate listings in state and federal registers. They review demolition permit applications and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. They review designs for projects for properties located in Historic Preservation Districts. And, what they hoped to do on August 17th was to begin gathering input from our community to develop and review ordinances and guidelines related to historic preservation and do a little historic preservation education and community outreach with the citizens of the Alum Rock area and the East Foothill community.
Alas, many folks vacation in August and there are more good causes to attend to than there are nights in a week. The Historical Heritage Commission will have to find the appropriate buttons to push to get Alum Rockers more interested in giving their opinions on the procedures and criteria which will be applied to historic items and property – possibly including their own homes and neighborhoods.
If you would like to communicate with Yollette Merritt or Dana Peak regarding historic properties or zones, the components of the proposed ordinance or the formation of a group of supporters for our historical resources, please contact Yollette at (408) 942-1776 or email@example.com or Dana at (408) 299-5798 or Dana.Peak@pln.sccgov.org.
Click here for a photo of Yollette at the meeting.
Last spring when neighbor Richard Brown began sending us his marvelous photos, we were deluged with many shots of the gorgeous wildflowers which he and his wife Sue came across in the park. We couldn’t publish them all at once (this is, after all, called “Photo of the Month”!), so there are several which we’ve been anxious to share with NNV readers. We hope readers don’t mind viewing a spring beauty in the autumn – it’s such an outstanding photo that we think you’ll want to devour it with your eyes anytime!
Indian paintbrush is a wildflower which blooms in many of the United States. It’s the state flower of Wyoming. It’s prolific in Alum Rock Park where its red-coral colored bracts provide a vivid hue to the park’s palette. “Bracts” are not true flowers; Indian Paintbrush plants (Castilleja linariaefolia), like poinsettias, have tiny inconspicuous flowers surrounded by colorful leaflike parts.
Richard’s photo shows an outstanding specimen up so close that one can see what appear to be tiny sugar granules scintillating on the bright surface. Looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it?
Click here for the photo.
Another summer has come and just about gone in San Jose. It was a hot one this year. Lots of kids and families signing up for summer camp. Raging Waters, skating, Santa Cruz, Great America, and the ever popular IMAX downtown were just a few of the favorite trips lined up for the participants in our day camps. We saw a lot of familiar faces and some new ones too. But for six kids this summer, the everyday mundane field trips we do every year, were just about the most exciting places they have ever been. In fact, being in the United States was the first trip in their young lives away from Colombia.
As part of a collaborative effort with Kidsave International and The City of San Jose, six children from Colombia were treated to six weeks of summer fun, recreation, and trips to some of the Bay Area’s best spots.
On the first day at camp, the City of San Jose rolled out the red carpet. Bilingual staff worked closely with the special visitors to spend extra time teaching them the camp rules and helping them become accustomed with their new campmates and staff. It was a very exciting and tense day for the six strangers from Colombia. The oldest girl, Leidy, was very apprehensive about joining the festivities. But with some reassurance and support from her chaperone, Ruth Guana, she joined in. Within one week, it was difficult to pick the new kids out of the crowd.
The children are under the impression that they won a contest or drawing to attend camp in the United States. The underlying purpose and true nature of the Kidsave program is to pair prospective families with children they may choose to adopt. If the match does not work for the host family, the children return to their home country without the feeling of rejection.
After six weeks, the six kids were on their way to the airport at 4:30 AM. Zeke Garcia, one of the host families’ members recalls, “It was a very emotional time. I have to admit, me and my wife had a number of emotional meltdowns on the way to drop them off.” Garcia was the original contact for Kidsave and the City of San Jose. After a conversation with me (on behalf of the San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department), the two organizations collaborated to provide a great summer experience the youths would remember for the rest of their lives - and perhaps a new family for each.
It was a summer to remember on a number of different levels. The budget continues to be a challenge, our country is at war, but for six orphans from Colombia, it was possibly the best summer ever. As of late August, all but one of the kids was adopted! But the one who was not has a possibility of a Texas family taking him in. It was a successful summer indeed.
Click here for a photo. Click here for Kidsave Silicon Valley and here and here for more stories on this program.
Walking up Alum Rock Avenue around four o’clock one warm summer afternoon your editor came across a wonderful phantom image cast on the sidewalk by an ornate white wrought iron fence. The lowering sun traced the shadow of every graceful curve and paling precisely on the concrete for a most elegant composition. You can stroll through this transient interactive public art yourself at the corner of North Claremont Avenue and Alum Rock.
Click here for a photo.
Well, well, well! A McKee Road area dweller complained to City Councilmember Nora Campos’ office about the sad state of affairs on the corner of McKee and White Road where the Quality Tune-up folks had allowed weeds and debris to accumulate. Lo and behold, within a week or so, the weeds were whacked by the owners and the debris was gone. It was not a particularly sensitive weed-abating job, but it surely looks better. NNV hopes that our citing Quality’s crummy-looking corner in an earlier On the Road photo helped catalyze the effort.
Click here for before and after Quality photos.
An article in the Mercury News TheGuide section of August 11th featured LUCHA teacher, Kristin Henny as “Teacher of the Week.” Kristin helped to design the “small school” which is situated on the campus of Clyde Arbuckle Elementary School. The unusual name stands for Learning in an Urban Community with High Achievement. LUCHA is one of three new small autonomous schools (two elementaries and one middle school) started in the Alum Rock Elementary District last fall. This year, she moves to teach second grade to her first-graders of last year.
In 2002 Kristin earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Human Development at Boston College. She was part of the Teach for America Corps which placed her at Meyer Elementary in ARUSD for her first year of teaching. During her second year, she became part of the LUCHA design team. Small autonomous schools offer opportunities for creative, outside-the-box programs and teaching techniques and require committed parental involvement.
She worked for Teach for America Institute in Los Angeles this summer and is also pursuing a Master’s degree at SJSU in Educational Leadership. Congratulations, Kristin!
Click here for photos of Kristen and LUCHA.
Lick High School Athletic Boosters are getting a major jump on the competition by starting early to organize their December Arts, Crafts and Vendor Faire. All the better to line up lots and lots of artists and crafters with handmade items to sell, home-party vendors with on-hand inventory and, they hope, up-and-coming music artists and bands who will want to purchase time slots for performances.
The faire will be on the first Saturday in December (that’s the 3rd) in the main gymnasium. Right now there are 75 8’X8’ spaces available to rent for $50 plus a donated item worth $25 to raffle off to raise Booster funds. Handmade and handcrafted items are preferred for the arts and crafts area. To be involved, home-party vendors such as Partylite, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Discovery Toys, etc., must have inventory to sell at the event.
For more information or if you have an extremely unique item you would like to show and sell, please call or e-mail Lynnette Rodriguez, event coordinator, at (408) 258-6697, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it Spanglish – or is it Engspañol ? A little sign stuck on the window of the still shuttered “La Bodega” deli/produce at the corner of Alum Rock and Manning Avenues caught NNV’s attention. It has small tear-off information strips for passers-by to take with them. Sounds like a nice place – the undisclosed rent includes a “Refrig, stove gas, water, garbage and P.G.&E” plus you’ll get a “pribate back yard and pribate entrance.” And, it’s disponible right now!
Click here for a photo.
Grail Family Services invites all interested families and individuals to attend their annual community literacy event “East San José Reads” celebrating the grand opening of the Robert L. Severns Children’s Library. Confirmed guests include Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, Council Member Nora Campos, County Superintendent Colleen Wilcox and Assembly Member Joe Coto. Representatives from the offices of Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Mike Honda, and representatives from Governor Schwarzenegger’s offices, have also confirmed attendance.
The event will take place September 9th, 2005, from 4:00PM to 5:30PM at Grail Family Services located at 2003 East San Antonio Street in San Jose. During the event, families will participate in a family reading time activity, receive free books, and elected officials and their representatives will be invited to be special guest readers. Recognition will be given to former State Senator John Vasconcellos for his ongoing support of Grail Family Services and to the Severns Foundation, Scholastic Inc., and Design Response for their role in making the Robert L. Severns Children’s Library a reality.
Grail Family Services fosters learning and the empowerment of low-income families in San Jose’s multi-cultural neighborhoods through the provision of services that educate, develop leadership skills, and build a sense of community. To date, Grail Family Services has served over 1300 families living in the East San Jose area.
To attend the event, or to serve as a volunteer, please contact Director of
Operations Anne Dunham at (408) 347-7892 or via email at
Visit us at our website,
www.gfsfamilyservices.org, for more information regarding our programs and
The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation has funded Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley School in the amount of $30,000. The monies will be used to fund 45 ballet school scholarships for economically-disadvantaged students who demonstrate merit. These students will include;
Outreach participants, taking a semester-long session of classes called "First Step."
"Next Step" students, who wish to continue their studies after the introductory classes, but require financial assistance in order to do so; and
PRO division students demonstrating both merit and financial hardship.
The request fell under the Foundations' focus area, to "enhance the vitality of cultural life; to provide all residents access to a wide variety of artistic and cultural pursuits; to nourish creativity in children, youth and adults." The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.
Click here for a photo of the students.
Gil and Sandy Decker will again hold Sunday afternoon Open House at their large, gorgeous Craftsman style home to benefit the science education programs of the Youth Science Institute. This year the party, “an afternoon of fun and fundraising,” will be held on October 16th.
Last year’s event included a tour of all three levels of the house led by Gil Decker himself, excellent catered cuisine, fine wines and an art-studded silent auction. And, speaking of art, the Deckers’ home is furnished with outstanding paintings and sculptures (both “fine” and whimsical) as well as museum quality furniture. The house sits in a beautiful neighborhood of similarly elegant homes and definitely warrants your visit. Watch NNV for further details as the date draws closer.
If you would like to receive an invitation or want further information (or if you’d like to make a donation!) please contact YSI’s Marion at (408) 356-4945 ext. 10 or email@example.com.
Click here to read about last year's event.
Sometimes it takes an artist’s practiced eye to discern sculptural significance in discarded junque tossed by the side of the road by thoughtless folks too lazy to find a suitable receptacle for their stuff. Or, it might take just a little goofiness on the part of the NNV photographer. You call it!
Click here for a photo.
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Many frequent hikers and locals in the Boccardo Trail Corridor area came upon a surprising and fascinating sight recently at the trailhead. Living Systems Land Management, in collaboration with Patrick Congdon and Derrick Neuman of the Santa Clara Open Space Authority, brought in a herd of goats to graze a 6.1 acre section of grassland bordering Boccardo during the last two weeks of June 2005.
This graze was part of a larger plan of the Open Space group to explore different methods of land management in this area. The true after-effects will be seen after the first rains and next year when we expect to see an increasing number of native species and a decrease in the invasive populations. We also expect a richer soil because of the natural fertilizing and the opening up of the cap soil by the goats’ hooves. The area included mustard, several types of thistle (Italian and yellow star) and other invasive species.
Properly managed Goat Grazing is an effective and sustainable way to manage vegetation in open space areas and other parts of the urban interface for the following reasons. First, goats can access areas that are steep (canyons and ravines) where mowing and hand pulling may be more difficult and more expensive.
Second, the goats mitigate the need for removing litter that conventional treatments (hand pulling, mechanical or herbicides) leave in the managed area, incurring the additional expense of removing excess vegetation from the area. Third, Goat Grazing utilizes more biomass and essentially recycles flammable and unwanted vegetation, converting it to readily available (to the soil and plants) and nutrient rich fertilizer. In turn, litter that is left as a result of proper animal oversight and adequate stocking densities provides a necessary buffer between precipitation and the soil, preventing the potential for erosion in the steeper areas. Finally, managed grazing encourages the variety and type of vegetation that maintains soil structure and encourages the reestablishment of native vegetation that provides an additional intermediary between rain and soil.
Often the question arises about the goats’ omnivorous habits and the problem of eating indiscriminately. Although there is truth in this, goats target the non-native annual grasses first (many European and invasive annuals have actually derived from varieties developed for the specific purpose of feeding livestock a palatable and nutritious feedstuff) and more aggressively because they are more attractive than the native perennial bunch grasses. This hierarchy in the graze leaves a higher percentage of native bunch grasses (less palatable to grazing animals) as well as opening up space for the natives to better compete with the non-native species.
Poison oak is a problem in many areas and goats readily eat this plant. The best timing for poison oak management is from June to September to avoid spreading seeds.
For more information on grazing that might be helpful in your area, call Charlotte W. Lewis at (415) 845-6747 or visit our website at www.livingsystemslandmanagement.com.
Click here for photos of the goats used on the
Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with Eastside gardening and related topics here.
Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 with your gardening questions or check out our website at www.mastergardeners.org/scc.html.
Cool Season Vegetables: Most areas of Santa Clara County are warm enough in the winter to allow year round vegetable growing. Fall is the time to plant food crops such as lettuces, broccoli, greens such as chard and bok choy, cabbages, artichokes, peas and more. A complete list of varieties and their best planting month for both seed and plant starts can be found at http://mastergardeners.org/picks/cool.html.
Fruit Tree Overload: If you have a fruit tree that is ready to pick and you just don't have the time or energy to pick the fruit before it falls and rots, please contact Village Harvest. This terrific organization has volunteers who will come to your garden and remove the fruit. The fruit is then donated to food bank organizations such as Second Harvest. You can reach them at www.villageharvest.org. Because of the demand for their services, they are focusing on senior or disabled homeowners and on orchards or gardens with several trees. Their website gives hints on how to manage your fruit production reasonably and has many links to fruit tree information. Their telephone number is (650) 740-7725.
Apricot Tree Pruning: September is the last month to prune your apricot trees if Eutypa dieback is present. This gives the cuts enough time to form a callus before the spores become active with the first rains. Now is also the time to plan for winter treatments on other fruit trees. Details on planning ahead can be found on our fruit tree care calendar at http://mastergardeners.org/picks/treecalendar.pdf.
Fall Planting: Thinking about adding some ornamental shrubs or perennials to your garden? Because we get our natural rainfall in the winter, the best time to start off ornamental plants and trees in your garden is in the fall so the new plants can take advantage of the rainfall to establish a good root structure. In fact, if you use plants from the Mediterranean climates (cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers) around the world, you can actually stop summer water after the first year for many of the plants since they are acclimated to having no summer water. A recently published book from East Bay Municipal Utility District (www.ebmud.com) covers the techniques and the plants with superb photographs. The book is available in bookstores and through the website.
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Specializing in native and drought-tolerant landscapes. We live and work in the neighborhood.
These past three years, I have been watering my garden once a week to help young plants become established. This summer, I cut back on the watering, but learned the hard way that some plants were not as well established as I thought. I lost a beloved holly-leaved cherry and two ceanothuses.
Other plants are thriving, though. The coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) is the star of the front yard this year at 8’ tall, a stately specimen with green-purple leaves and mahogany stems maturing to gray. This handsome shrub illustrates best the maxim that flowers aren’t the only significant attribute of a plant. What’s more, this is also a good habitat plant, supporting many butterflies and birds.
The dwarf coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’) forms a carpet of bright green in full sun with no water at all. Forget ivy, forget vinca. If you want a lovely, carefree, drought tolerant groundcover, this is the quintessential plant for California gardens. It needs no maintenance except a hard pruning in winter to keep it fresh and low.
My manzanitas – both the shrubby big berry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca) and the groundcover San Francisco manzanita (Arctostaphylos hookeri franciscana) – are holding their own in the blazing sun. The leaves are held vertically, a marvelous adaptation to the heat of the noontime sun. I can’t wait for the big berry manzanita to mature so I can run my fingers over its exceptionally smooth trunk.
While others merely survive the summer, datura (Datura wrightii) thrives. Dormant during fall and winter, this perennial bursts into bloom during the peak of summer. Large white trumpet-like flowers are held up above handsome blue-green leaves, and last for only a day. They are such prolific bloomers, some days I have a dozen in bloom on the same plant. Be warned, all parts of this plant are toxic and should never be ingested.
Summer is also the time of the California aster (Lessingia filaginifolia), its silver gray leaves topped by pink daisies with yellow centers. The flowers draw many small creatures, from skippers to bees. The plant makes a colorful summer groundcover.
I could name few plants that are more desirable for a summer garden than California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum). At this time of year, it is covered with white pompon-like flowers and their admirers like the buckeye butterfly. They will age slowly to a bronze red. This drought tolerant shrub needs little care except a severe pruning (to 6”) every winter to keep it looking fresh.
Then there is the California fuchsia (Epilobium canum canum), whose red flowers make the hummingbird take up residence in the backyard. It feeds on the nectar every few minutes, and protects its turf aggressively from other competitors.
Although the shrubby sages (Salvia leucophylla, Salvia mellifera) have stopped blooming, their gray and green leaves, respectively, impart an intense aroma to the garden. These hardy shrubs dislike summer water, and are nearly maintenance free. I prune them by half each winter.
These native plants bring greenery, blossoms, or fragrance (or all three) to the summer garden without demanding much water or attention. They keep the water bill low, and give me a lot more time on the swing. Now you know why I am such a fan of native plants.
Check out these plants at your local nursery. Payless Nursery on 2927 King
Road at Aborn in San Jose 408 274-7815 has a special section for natives; ask to
speak to Wanda Olson who is very knowledgeable. If they don’t have a plant in
stock, she can order it for you from their wholesale supplier and have it for
you within a week.
Click here for photos of Arvind's Native Plants.
Looking for something special for your garden this fall? Something that looks good without a whole lot of watering and spraying? Something to attract birds and butterflies? This fall, consider planting California native plants to enjoy stunning displays in spring. Discover the possibilities at the Native Plant Sale at Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos Hills on Saturday, October 15, 2005.
Choose from scores of hard-to-find species, from deergrass and monkey flower to redbud and blue-eyed grass, from orchids and lilies to sedums and buckwheats. Speak with seasoned gardeners about unthirsty alternatives to a lawn, including native perennials, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. The plants are accurately tagged and lovingly nurtured by volunteers from the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Browse books, posters, and note cards featuring native plants.
California native plants are naturally adapted to the local soil and climate, thrive without amendments, fertilizers, or pesticides, and offer incomparable habitat value. Fall is an excellent time to plant in California, when the summer heat has dissipated and rain is just around the corner. The rains help native plants establish root systems, and reduce the need for supplemental water. In California’s unique climate, this below-ground growth during winter powers the stunning floral displays of spring.
The non-profit, all-volunteer CNPS Nursery opens to the public only two times a year, once in Spring and once in Fall. Proceeds fund chapter activities such as Gardening With Natives, Field Trips, Conservation, and Education, as well as the Trust for Hidden Villa.
The sale takes place Saturday, October 15, 2005, from 10am to 4pm, at the Hidden Villa Ranch, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. The ranch is 2 miles west of the I-280 Moody/El Monte Road exit. Free parking. Come early for the best selection; bring boxes to carry your purchases home. Cash or check only.
For more information: www.cnps-scv.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, (650) 691-9749.
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|Who painted the letters and decorative shapes on the concrete “East Highlands” sign?|
|Who is ARNC and what do they do besides paint large objects in the neighborhood?|
|When will the parking lot for the new Alum Rock library be completed?|
|What’s the need for rezoning at Foothill Presbyterian Church on McKee Road?|
|Who’s responsible for the new blacktop in the Linda Vista Elementary parking area?|
|When will the Mountain Mike’s Pizza Open? Where Alum Rock Florist used to be.|
|Does anyone know what businesses will be at the old barbecue place on White Road?|
A. Would you believe that no one seems to know just who took it upon him/herself to highlight the letters? In the past it’s been the members of the Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition (ARNC) who have done the painting. Over the years they’ve painted it gray and white, “peach” and aqua, and most recently, just plain cream-color with the letters and diamonds un-highlighted. At the last painting a couple of years ago, they had thought they’d come back and paint the letters a sort of light hunter green. However, it seemed to make the neighborhood happy to have the sign Plain Jane cream-color, so ARNC just left it as is (or maybe they just lost momentum and didn’t get back to it with the green paint).
So, it really IS a mystery as to who else, in a fit of civic-mindedness, decided to get out the creamsicle orange and olive drab trim paint and do their own number. Can NNV readers shed any light?
Click here for a photo.
A. The Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition is undoubtedly the oldest do-gooders group doing good in Alum Rock. They have cleaned debris, cut weeds, planted shrubs and trees, cleaned up graffiti and generally taken it upon themselves to make Alum Rock a better place. They are a small group which would like to become a bigger group so that their Saturday morning work groups can accomplish lots more. They would dearly love to have more neighbors involved. You can find out more about them on their web site, www.ARNC.org, or click here for their recent Letter to the Editor.
A. “The lot should be completed in a couple of months,” said the kind librarian who answered the phone on August 23rd. “But, we don’t really know anything definite yet – just that they told us last month that it would take about three months,” she continued. So, look at it as an opportunity to have some dandy aerobic exercise!
Click here for a photo.
A. The church hopes its lot is going to be home to a 60 foot Verizon wireless communications “monopole” (cellphone tower) disguised to look like a pine tree! Of course, the neighbors have to agree to have this faux fir in their midst, however.
Click here for a photo.
A. Ownership or responsibility for this area has been a bone of contention among the City of San Jose, Santa Clara County and the Alum Rock Elementary School District for years. No one wanted to fill the enormous potholes because they “belonged” to someone else. Last spring when the large lakes formed again, NNV snapped a photo and tried to find out whose jurisdiction this was. “Not ours!” said everyone. Now, according to ARUSD trustee Tanya Freudenberger, the school district has filled the holes and repaved the area although, she opines, it probably wasn’t really their obligation. “But, at least it’s done!” said she.
Click here for a photo of the newly paved Lake Linda Vista.
A. Jeff, a Mountain Mike’s corporate spokesman in Sacramento, says the new restaurant is “4-5 months away.” The 25-year old California and Oregon chain started out in Palo Alto and there are 105 stores. Jeff says they have five new stores opening in the next three months! On the window there is an application for a license to serve beer and wine.
Click here for a photo.
A. Well, according to the developer, Anthony Caruso, it’s pretty much for sure that there will be a Subway sandwich shop. He’s also pretty certain that there will be a juice franchise – and he’d like to see a Mexican food place. All told, there will be five or six businesses there and Anthony is trying for national chains which he feels will have more permanence than local “mom and pop” enterprises.
E-mail us at JudyET@NNVESJ.org or fax to (408) 272-4040. Please limit letters to a few hundred words (shorter items are more likely to be used in the newsletter and read) and include your name and phone number in case we have questions. Contributions may be edited for content and space requirements. Want to take photos, write articles or essays? Please let us know! And don't miss our new Letters page on Deer, Fire and/or Drought Resistant Plants if you'd like to share information with our readers.
E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org to let us know about your events of interest to our readers.
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 9/1/05.