New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter- Edition 31 - Section 2

November 6, 2005

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Eastside FISH


Dave Roever




Tomoko Nakajima



Arvind Kumar's


Horny deer

New City Hall -
now open

Kids were

But what's


Can you read
the lower line?


White Road
pigeon problems


Alum Rock Ave.
at Clareview


How did they
find Guinness?

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NNV Tours Marguerite Terrace

Wow! You should see it … and they’d really like you to!

Our neighborhood’s new-old retirement residence has opened its facilities and services to the public after 41 years as the exclusive domain of the ladies of P.E.O. Sitting quietly behind row upon row of dowager roses, the buildings used to passively turn their back on neighbors passing by the corner of Alum Rock and Kirk Avenues. However, all that has changed. A grand renovation recently reworked the front entrance into a warm, welcoming portico which seems to say to passersby, “Hey, look at us now. We’re part of your neighborhood after all!”

The rather dank, enigmatic “California P.E.O. Home” sign at the corner has been replaced by fanciful, leafy signage proclaiming a bright new entity, “Marguerite Terrace.” This is not to say that the P.E.O. members who lived there are gone. Sixteen ladies, all members of this “Philanthropic Educational Organization,” live in the four residence buildings and they’re still enjoying the sunny ambience and beautiful grounds which until now were theirs alone.

As of four months ago, Marguerite Terrace, opened its doors to “older adults” (from age 62) in the community. And men are welcome, too! Couples accommodations are in the offing. We denizens of the East foothills suddenly have a fantastic new resource available to us – right close to our homes.

Last month Marguerite Terrace held marketing sessions and an Open House to acquaint interested folks with their offerings. Two Thursday noon meetings included a sumptuous luncheon buffet in the sparkling dining room which, we were assured, is the usual offering available to residents every weekday. The buffet table was beautifully colorful and artistically arranged. It had a potluck feel (in the very best sense of the word) – with lots and lots of variety and elaborate, out-of-the-ordinary salads, meats, fruits galore, desserts and a soup du jour. On Thursday, October 13th, the soup was Sweet Potato Bisque – just to give an idea of the creativity involved in the nutritious food. Residents enjoy three meals a day – every day – as part of their perks.

Four long-time NNV readers joined folks from other parts of town to hear the marketing presentation, eat a tasty lunch and take part in a guided tour of the facility and grounds. Once we passed the portal of the entry area, we discovered that the gardens open up luxuriantly. One talented gardener, with occasional help we’re told, tends the perfect lawns, blooming plants, fountains and specimen trees. The vistas are simply beautiful. Scattered among the residence buildings, there are pleasant outdoor seating areas – some shaded, some sunny, something to please everyone.

Our guide, Esther Weger, who is an Eastside neighbor (she lives on Valley View), has worked at the P.E.O. Home for more than ten years. She took us first to the swimming pool/crafts studio complex at the furthest east end of the campus. We could feel the warmth of the indoor pool as we entered the room and it was obvious that its heated water could soothe sore joints and muscles. It ranges in depth from 3 ˝ feet to 4 ˝ feet – deep enough to support swimming – shallow enough not to overwhelm. Across the hall, we saw the arts and crafts area where residents are working on all sorts of projects ranging from simple “loving-hands-at-home” style to quite accomplished professional techniques.

We stopped in several buildings to visit a room here and there. Residents furnish their rooms with their own things. Creative use of space makes each room unique. It’s amazing how much furniture can be arranged in small spaces! Each building has its own communal space and a kitchenette area. The ambience of each communal area reflects the character of the residents who live in that building. It was obvious that there is great esprit de corps among the women who live there and there is an abundance of “flavor” in their lives.

Marguerite Terrace has a skilled nursing center on its campus. Local physicians refer their patients there. Residence at the retirement community isn’t necessary to take advantage of the center.

We visited all the public rooms including the library. The bookmobile brings books-to-order every week. Besides reading, residents enjoy traveling around town to shows and restaurants, exercise and other classes (optional, as are all the activities), cardplaying, and all sorts of merry-making as evidenced by their October calendar item “Oktoberfest Dinner and Beer Blast.” Residents may have their own cars. There are even garages available.

We felt that Marguerite Terrace’s prices were quite fair for such a classy place – and actually it turns out that it costs less to live there than any of us expected. You can call to arrange a visit and tour and find out for yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could move to this neighborhood gem when you no longer want to cope with the details of maintaining a home? Call Manuel Melchor at (408) 729-2017 for more information. See our Community Bulletin Board for this month's retirement planning luncheons and open house.

Click here for photos from our tour of Marguerite Terrace.

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Regional Medical Center Institutes Specialized Cardiac Surgery Program

Partnership with Stanford Brings Important Care Capability to Neighborhood Hospital

By Ben Stephenson

Regional Medical Center of San Jose, in partnership with Stanford University, recently instituted a new cardiac surgery program that will bring the level of care available at our neighborhood hospital to yet a higher level.

In a year that has already seen the hospital be certified as a trauma center, instill a stroke care management program, deploy a state-of-the-art medicine distribution system and break ground on a $155-million expansion effort, this new cardiac initiative will feature a full-time Stanford heart surgeon performing treatments previously unavailable at Regional.

Headed by Dr. Kai Inkhen, an assistant professor of surgery for Stanford’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, Regional’s cardiac surgery program will be supported by up to five Stanford surgeons and offer a number of specialized cardiac surgery procedures, including the ability to perform delicate open heart surgeries without the aid of a supporting heart-lung device.

“This cardiac surgery program is a vital piece to the health and well being of our patients,” said Bill Gilbert, chief executive officer at Regional. “We’re proud to continue to raise the bar on the level of care we provide at Regional.”

For more information, please contact 1-888-RMC-8881 or visit

Click here for a photo of the new cardiovascular surgery room.

NNV Note: Ground was broken for Regional’s upcoming $155 million expansion project on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 26th. There, under a big white tent, hundreds of people from the hospital and community gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for an additional 136,000 square feet of new space as well as renovation of 24,000 square feet of existing space.

Mariachi musicians serenaded away the gray skies as folks noshed on a huge variety of beautifully prepared (and delicious) finger foods, all manner of tiny elaborate desserts, red punch and coffee. Regional CEO Bill Gilbert praised the seamless blending of several disparate entities - Regional’s staff, staffers from San Jose Medical Center and those remaining from the original Alexian Brothers Hospital.

Mayor Ron Gonzales spoke for the City – joking that this groundbreaking was so long in coming, he felt as though it should be a ribbon-cutting. Councilmember Nora Campos pointed out the enormous value the expanded hospital will bring to the East side. A phalanx of HCA executives blessed the expansion efforts and the atmosphere of cooperation and goodwill. It seems the acrimony of last winter – when HCA precipitously closed its downtown San Jose Medical Center – has dissipated and all systems are on track for a wonderfully comprehensive medical facility to be on line in late 2008 - right here in our neighborhood on Jackson Avenue.

Click here for photos from the RMC Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 26, 2005.

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Calvary Cemetery, 1882 to the 21st Century, Part V

The last installment of NNV’s look into our neighborhood’s serene final resting place

And another poem by Lara Gularte

It seems quite fitting that Calvary’s beautiful polished granite sign was installed late last month just in time to grace NNV’s final look at the cemetery. The sign was a long time coming and was the culmination of the beautification of the cemetery’s “signature corner” at Alum Rock Avenue and Alexander Avenue which, not so long ago, was the site of a gasoline station. Now, Calvary comes all the way out to the corner with distinguished religious statuary - a gift from fellow diocesan cemetery, Gate of Heaven in Los Altos. Lovely professional landscaping (some of it made possible by a generous cemetery patron) completes the corner’s makeover. Much of Alexander Avenue, once a neighborhood of small houses, has become the western boundary of the cemetery. The cemetery, formerly announced only by small chiseled stone plaques on either side of the old Alum Rock Avenue entrance, suddenly seems to be a new presence in the community.

Now that it’s put its handsome new face toward passersby on Alum Rock Avenue, the cemetery may no longer be “the little secret” which former office manager Carol Schultz called it in a 1992 interview with The Valley Catholic. Then, she told the reporter “…we have some of the most prominent and historic people buried here.” The article went on to say that “The headstones read like nearby freeway exits – Berryessa, McLaughlin, Tully – and many graves bear the names of long-time Valley founders – Mirassou, McEnery, Alviso, Chaboy, Rebeiro, Alameda, O’Brien.” And yet, few noticed its existence – perhaps until now.

San Jose born poet, Lara Gularte, sent us her poignant poem “Finding my Great Grandmother at Calvary Catholic Cemetery – Augusta E. Pedro 1864 to 1948” to accompany our June article, the first in our five part series on the cemetery. Generous Lara has now graciously written a new one to put final punctuation on the series.

Calvary Cemetery

A poem by Lara Gularte

Rows of weathered stones
peaceful tribute to acres of sleeping souls
enclosed by chain-link,
protected from siren shrieks
and bus fumed air.
A bird unravels its song.
The cemetery rises up
manicured and still.
Sun filtering through trees
marks a family plot with room for more.
Two angels on ornate pedestals
bow their heads, pray.
New statuary
what became of the sleepers here.

NNV Note: Lara is of Portuguese ancestry and made a point of finding her ancestors’ gravesites at Calvary which is the burial place for many of our Valley’s Portuguese families. She has an excellent collection of old family photos of the Portuguese who settled and farmed the area and is actively researching and documenting their history. Click here for Lara's photos of her great grandmother's and her grandparents', Margaret and Antonio Gularte, headstones at Calvary .

Lara’s poetry has been published widely including work which was translated into Portuguese by the University of the Azores. She’s a Lick High School graduate and a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing Program at San Jose State. She now lives in Magalia where she works as a Tutor/TA of English for the Butte County Community College at the Center for Academic Success and doing private tutoring on the side. She says she is working with others to set up programs for the youth there who live isolated in the mountains. This month she will talk about the Azore Islands of her ancestors, Portuguese culture, and the experience of Portuguese immigrants in California at a World Culture Evening sponsored by the Paradise Center for Tolerance and Nonviolence. NNV hopes to share more of Lara’s photos and research findings with our NNV readers in future editions of the newsletter.

Click here for photos of the new Calvary Cemetery sign. Click on these links for Calvary Cemetery Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

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NNV Briefs

bulletRichard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photo of the Month - Red Poison Oak
bulletRed Poison Oak - A Poem by Roger Abe
bulletGallons of Batter, Miles of Links Disappear at ARYC’s Annual Fundraiser
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue: Venerable church will change hands – and congregations
bulletOn McKee Road: Security guy seen lurking among the palms
bullet“A Splendid Autumn Afternoon” at Deckers' Gorgeous Craftsman Home by Susanne Mulcahy
bulletYSI Wildlife Festival - Neighbors met critters, ate picnic fare, learned all sorts of neat stuff
bulletLive Homework Help Now Available On-line to Local Students
bulletEastside FISH Volunteers Provide Emergency Sustenance by Joyce Baker
bulletFriends of the Library Active at New Cruz/Alum Rock Branch by Joyce Baker
bulletBig December 3rd Faire Planned for James Lick High School
bulletLyndale Neighborhood “Pocket” Courted by City of San Jose - No recourse to annexation
bulletAREF Elects New Officers - Volunteers improve ARUESD schools
bulletGrievously Wounded Vietnam War Veteran Challenges Lick Students
bulletNewsmaker: Councilmember Campos Elected President of LOCC Latino Caucus
bulletNew Appointee to Fill Vacant ARUESD Board Post

Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photo of the Month

Red Poison Oak

Richard, our neighborhood’s creative nature photographer, snapped this photo of bright crimson  poison oak in Alum Rock Park in September. We set it aside to use in a later, Autumn season edition of NNV.

Something strange and serendipitous occurred.

Without suggesting a theme, we asked Alum Rock Park ranger/poet, Roger Abe, to pen an Autumn-in-Alum-Rock-Park haiku or poem for the November NNV. He chose to write a poem and, wonder of wonders, the theme he chose was “Red Poison Oak.” The poem is written from the smarty-plant’s point of view. We can’t decide if Richard’s photo is illustrating Roger’s poem or if Roger’s poem is illuminating Richard’s photo. Which do you think?

Click here for the photo.

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Red Poison Oak

A Poem by Roger Abe
I am so tired
and yet glad to be released
to float down the hillside
becoming lighter and lighter
less and less
until i am emptiness
but still full?
the soft green leaves
the clusters of moon-white berries
are gone
or are they?

It was a beautiful summer—
long days of heat and strong sun
burnished me
i grew tough to hold fast
in thundering gusts of south wind

I made shade

The deer trails are dry and dusty
when they are wet and muddy
where will i be?

This color i have become
the color of special sunsets
the color of animal blood
the color of the paintbrush in the spring

the dragonflies,
the fuchsia of summer
the hummingbird’s throat
the color of my birth
the color i will wear a second time
for a while
will mix and swirl
with leaves of Toyon, Buckeye, Live Oak
flowing over and between
dirt, rocks, roots, grasses, fences, houses
into the holes of ground squirrels
carpeting the gutters and roads of men

Rains will come
and oils vouchsafed to this moment
withheld even from
the shins of barelegged, off-trail hikers
the oils, the colors,
the way i shivered in the afternoon breeze
all will flow back into the earth
my skeleton freed, detoxified

The jumble of twiggy branches there
—that’s where I hung all year—
is fading into nothingness
again, it is the full, bright bush
full of love, full of gratitude
proud to be “leaves of three, let it be”

NNV Note: Roger Abe is a ranger in Alum Rock Park. He is a board member with both the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society and Poetry Center San Jose. Be sure to see Richard Brown's Poison Oak photo above.

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Gallons of Batter, Miles of Links Disappear at ARYC’s Annual Fundraiser

Alum Rock Youth Center Gym hosts happy hungry hordes – celebrates another year

A sea of tables filled with five buck flapjack fanciers, celebrity chefs at the griddles, a waitstaff of bright-eyed teenagers, just-right music in the background – what more could the eastside community wish for on a bright and shiny Fall Saturday morning early last month?

Actually, it was more than just a friendly crowd devouring uncountable tasty carbs to benefit ARYC. It was a celebration of the second full year of operation of our fantastic Alum Rock Youth Center on White Road near Pala Middle School. Folks of all stripes and ages came out to support the center, watch a photo presentation on its history and listen to government representatives on hand to give a hand to ARYC Supervisor Ed Solis and his energetic staff.

The center is an after school mecca for our area’s young folks and offers adult programs as well. This year a Tiny Tots class, a dance class and a drawing class were added to the regular roster of leadership groups, homework support programs, recreation, fee classes and sports leagues. “These classes and activities deal with interests and issues that are related to challenges our youth deal with daily. They are designed to provide opportunities for youth to enhance their decision making processes, increase their level of self esteem and communications skills,” according to Ed Solis.

Over 1,253 hours of recreational programming were provided over the past year. More than 2,500 youth were served in after school drop-in programs and 1,200 more were enrolled for the summer and Saturday events. New youth meetings, “Girl Talk” and “Stand” were added this year. Community events included “A Taste of the South,” which hosted more than forty-five chefs and featured great entertainment in celebration of Black History Month, as well as Fiesta Celebrando el Cinco de Mayo, which more than seven hundred community members attended. The annual Halloween Scary House, as usual, frightened people out of their wits late last month.

If you still haven’t set your eyes on this super near-new facility at 137 North White Road, you’re missing one of our neighborhood’s best resources. Drop by! Introduce yourself and take a guided tour. You can just feel the youth rubbing off on you. It’s a very good thing!

Click here for photos.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

Venerable church will change hands – and congregations

The congregation of the First Church of the Nazarene (at Cragmont and Alum Rock) has been enduring an agonizing wait to move to its new facility in Evergreen. Ground was broken in 2002 on a large new modern church. Last year at this time, the hope was that they could move into their 900 seat contemporary facility by Thanksgiving or Christmas. Then as the new year began, they thought they might move by Easter. The congregation is still worshipping in their old church.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is the congregation of Logos Christian Fellowship, a small church on McKee Road practically under an off ramp of the 101 freeway. They’ve been ready to move to Alum Rock Avenue for more than a year and have had to be patient as they waited for the Nazarenes to work out the kinks of their new building, get necessary permits from the City, etc.

Now, after much sprucing up, painting and re-landscaping, a handsome banner has gone up in front of the serpentine rock façade. “Coming Soon. Logos Christian Fellowship,” it reads. NNV checked to find out just how soon that coming will be. “Maybe in six weeks,” said Stacey, the Nazarene secretary. “Or maybe three weeks,” she sighed. Logos' arrival is contingent on Nazarene’s moving out. “We’ve about given up trying to predict when we can move.” Six weeks from NNV’s call will be around the middle of December. It’s the dream of both congregations to be in their new sanctuaries for Christmas services.

Click here for a photo.

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On the Road – McKee Road

Security guy seen lurking among the palms

One bright sunny day, your NNV staff went shopping at Save Mart in the Country Club Plaza on McKee at Toyon. Upon leaving the store, it became obvious that the parking lot was under surveillance of a security man who, for all the world, looked as though he was trying to blend in with the frond-y shadows. He seemed so intent on being furtive that we felt uncomfortable approaching him to ask why he was there. So, we just snapped a photo of the back of his shirt to document the occasion.

Later, we asked one of the Save Mart clerks why there seemed to be a sudden need for parking lot security. The clerk said she didn’t know there was ever a security person during the day, but she was sure there was one (or some) at night. She did reveal this interesting tidbit, however. “There are often security people inside the store,” she said. So, if you ever had the uneasy feeling that someone is peering at you (besides the ubiquitous Mark deTar who smiles at you from your cart), you might just be right.

Click here for our surveillance photo.

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“A Splendid Autumn Afternoon” at Deckers' Gorgeous Craftsman Home

Garden Party underwritten by the Deckers benefits YSI nature programs

By Susanne Mulcahy, Executive Director, Youth Science Institute

For the second year in a row, Sandy and Gil Decker hosted Youth Science Institute’s friends and supporters at their gorgeous craftsman home for what was truly “A Splendid Autumn Afternoon” for a garden party and silent auction. Given rain the previous day, the weather could not have been more perfect for the 75 that gathered in the beautiful garden and enjoyed tours of their immaculate and inspiring home.

Tours were led by both Gil and YSI’s Alum Rock Manager, Mary Carlson. Originally built in 1907, Gil and Sandy purchased the home in 1996 from Army Doctor Colonel Hadley, who lived there almost 50 years. They spent the next two years lovingly refurbishing, reconstructing and restoring this historic home in the Los Gatos foothills.

Gil spent a majority of his career in the defense industry both in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. including service as Under Secretary of the Army during the Clinton administration. Recognitions and awards for his many accomplishments, both corporate and philanthropic, are too numerous to mention. Sandy’s involvement in the community is legendary. She is the former Mayor of Los Gatos, and has always been active on many Boards. She will be recognized at Silicon Valley Philanthropy Day 2005 as a Distinguished Volunteer Fundraiser.

YSI is deeply connected to the Eastside, as the organization was founded at Alum Rock Park, and is a beloved highlight of the park there today. YSI’s Thrift and Gift Store on Alum Rock Avenue is completely volunteer-operated by YSI’s Guild, a majority of whose members call the Eastside home.

Guild member and Eastside resident Karen Tatro and her Daughter, Susan, were in attendance. Karen is currently chairing an effort to remodel the YSI Thrift and Gift, a project slated to begin this December when the store is closed for the holidays.

Guild members and Eastsiders Ellen and Gary Rauh donated two wonderful auction items from the fruits of their vineyard which were “bid up” and snapped up by wine enthusiasts. And, the Eastside’s Nancy Valby is YSI’s dedicated Board President (though she was ill and unable to attend the event), while Valerie Ball, YSI’s Treasurer, co-chaired the successful auction.

YSI’s event is additionally connected to the Eastside: Gil Decker raised his three children there, attending Linda Vista, Joseph George and James Lick High School. All three grew up with the YSI’s nature programs. Gil and Sandy are both extremely committed to education, and they believe that YSI’s programs offer engaging and comprehensive science education, through which kids learn to love both learning and science. They give back to YSI through hosting this Autumn Event, so that 100% of the proceeds raised from ticket sales and the Auction benefit YSI programs.

Also making a return appearance, a delicious hors d’oeuvres buffet was prepared and served by the epicureans of Crimson Restaurant, one of Los Gatos’ finest restaurants, inspired by chef/owner Diane Rose. Diane and her talented staff created delicious and unusual fare that was enjoyed by all, and echoed a very special day.

The event was a tremendous success, not only because it was “A Splendid Autumn Afternoon,” but because wonderful friends of YSI gathered to celebrate this 53-year-old organization, and support YSI!

Click here for photos from this event.

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YSI Wildlife Festival

Neighbors met critters, ate picnic fare, learned all sorts of neat stuff

The Youth Science Institute Nature Center was the hub for the activities of their 30th annual Alum Rock Park shindig-on-the-lawn on Sunday, October 2nd. The weather cooperated perfectly – unlike last year when Mother Nature opened the taps for a perfectly rotten, wet, cold, clammy day. Festival goers this year were able to enjoy their hamburgers and popcorn as they strolled in the sunshine from display to display learning about all manner of flora and fauna, handicrafts, and environmental concerns. Because wildland fires are part and parcel of life in a Wildland Urban Interface area such as the Alum Rock Park neighborhood, there were several fire-prevention organizations on hand and the San Jose Fire Department’s Shark Engine for kids to visit.

Kids and parents could see (and pet!) very large snakes, see a great horned owl up-close, hike the trails with a knowledgeable guide, do science activities and nature crafts, talk with park rangers and firefighters and watch the Falcon’s Court folks put their birds of prey through their fascinating paces.

New Neighborhood Voice had a table and took the opportunity to meet visitors and listen to community concerns. Several NNV writers and contributors stopped to chew the fat (or were we shooting the breeze?) Carol Schultz, our neighborhood historian, was there as was Bracey Tiede our gardening “Hot Topics” editor, and Arvind Kumar, our California Native Gardening guru. DJ Johnson, Joyce Baker, Chris Miller, Robin Edwards, Nella and Alan Henninger and will-be writer Karen Negrete all shared ideas (and chuckles) under our parasol.

This is an excellent community event right here in our neighborhood. Mark your mental calendar for next fall’s outdoor extravaganza!

Click here for photos from this event.

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Live Homework Help Now Available On-line to Local Students

Kids and young adults need never be stumped again!

All San Jose Public Libraries now provide a service which makes real, live, qualified tutors available at the beck and call of students grade four through the second year of college.

Got a vexing math problem, science conundrum, social science query or English enigma? Students living or schooling in San Jose can log on to the library’s web site or click here for Live Homework Help and aid is on the way within minutes from the Online Classroom. Students enter their grade and subject and are automatically matched with a tutor capable of rendering expert assistance. Parents or other adult homework helpers are invited to take part in the tutoring sessions.

The service was unveiled in the Tech Center of our new Cruz/Alum Rock Library branch early last month before members of the press and a variety of local government reps. U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Mayor Ron Gonzales, Library Director Jane Light, James Lick High School Principal Bill Rice and Kathy Low, Program Consultant for the State Library Development Services, all welcomed the advent of the program. Mayor Gonzales had high praise indeed, but ruefully regretted that there was no “Mayor Tutorial” on line. Addressing the half dozen Lick High students who were using the service during the presentation, Congresswoman Lofgren encouraged them all to “plan to be hot shots.”

Demonstrating the procedure, a Lick student named Elizabeth engaged an on-line tutor to help her understand weather cycles – precipitation falls as rain, the sun evaporates the moisture, clouds form, rain falls, etc. The program even allowed the student to draw an illustration of the process. The live tutor was sitting somewhere at her own computer, guiding Elizabeth and making sure the conclusions she reached were correct. The press conference attendees watched the interchange on a large screen at the front of the room as it developed on the small screen in front of Elizabeth.

Students can log on at all the libraries’ public access computers or remotely via the library’s web site. They can use their Internet-linked home computers but must log on each time via Hours vary for the availability of tutoring, but the service is generally available every day beginning at 1:00 PM for English language help and Sunday through Thursday for Spanish language help with math and science. The price is right. It’s absolutely free!

Click here for photos.

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Eastside FISH Volunteers Provide Emergency Sustenance

And say special thanks to the Master Gardeners

By Joyce Baker

Throughout the summer the volunteer Master Gardeners have been generous with their vegetable harvest by donating many items to Eastside FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity). We thank them because the recipients welcome fresh veggies. Eastside FISH? If you are a newcomer to the area you may not be familiar with this group of volunteers who have been in operation over 30 years. Our distribution point used to be at Alum Rock Methodist Church and, although they are still one of our supporters, we outgrew the space and moved down Kirk Avenue to Alum Rock Covenant Church.

From 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Monday through Friday, we distribute a 2-day supply of food to those in need. Working with the Second Harvest Food Bank, we give out food over-runs and unsold bakery goods to people in our area that have requested help from the Food Bank. Most people come because of a sudden emergency: loss of a job, displaced relatives coming into town, stolen purses that contained the month's rent ... as many problems as life dishes out.

Because no one in FISH receives a salary (yes, it is all volunteer), we really stretch donations to purchase eggs, hot dogs and little extras. Look for our small sign on Kirk at the corner of Summit. Stop by any day and say hello to the volunteer (who may be your neighbor) - a different person every day! So, thank you again to the Master Gardeners for adding to the food boxes. We will miss you in the winter months.

Click here for photos. Click here for the Eastside FISH Web site.

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Friends of the Library Active at New Cruz/Alum Rock Branch

Donate your cast-off books, buy new ones, support special programs

By Joyce Baker

Not only do we have a big, new, beautiful building to call "our library" but we are also blessed with an experienced, enthusiastic and dedicated librarian: Nora Sepulveda Conte (who commutes to us from San Juan Bautista!). She has helped us form a new Friends of the Library group which meets every 4th Tuesday at 5 PM in the library. An hour's gathering, led by our president, Barbara Dabel, enables us to plan fund-raising so that special programs can be offered. In September, we sponsored an International Night which was a great success and enjoyed by the many children participating. Please come and join us. I can promise there will be no membership fees, no forms to complete, no roll-call, just an informal gathering of caring people.

How do we raise money? At the moment it is primarily through the sale of used books - check out our booth at the South (parking lot side) entrance. If you have books to contribute, we're glad to have them. Watch for announcements of a book sale in a few months, a great chance to "stock up" for all the dedicated readers. A book can educate, entertain and transport you around the world as you stay in the comfort of your home!

So drop in to the next Friends' meeting because we need and value everyone's opinion. We are a community - let's join together

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Big December 3rd Faire Planned for James Lick High School

Athletic Booster Club invites artists, crafters, vendors, musicians and customers!

Lick High School Athletic Boosters are inviting participants to get involved with their December Arts, Crafts and Vendor Faire. They’d like 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. They’d love to have lots of customers from the community.

The faire will be on the first Saturday in December (that’s the 3rd) in the main gymnasium. Right now there are still some 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. November 18th will be the deadline for payment for rental space.

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,

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Lyndale Neighborhood “Pocket” Courted by City of San Jose

County ready to say “good-by.” City says “come hither!” No recourse to annexation.

The City of San Jose came acourtin’ (again) to a meeting of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association late last month. Lyndale is an unincorporated County pocket (or island) bounded by Alum Rock Avenue, Story Road, Capitol Avenue and White Road. The City would like to annex pockets like Lyndale to “eliminate inefficiencies and unnecessary expenses in the delivery of urban services” and make “city and county governments more accountable to local neighborhoods by eliminating mixed jurisdictional situations in which problem solving responsibilities are ambiguous.”

According to “Making Your City Whole: Taking Advantage of the Current Opportunity to Annex Urban Unincorporated Pockets,” a September 2005 publication of the Local Agency Formation Commission of Santa Clara County, City annexation will allow residents of pockets “to receive more and generally higher quality services and programs to benefit their neighborhoods than the County is able (or will ever be able) to provide.” The County feels that by ceding pockets to the City, they can “focus their efforts and … resources on addressing the countywide issues and services for which County government is primarily responsible, including health care, social services, courts and criminal justice functions.”

Pocket residents will be empowered “to have more influence over the decisions that most directly impact the quality of life in their neighborhoods, by enabling them to participate in the decision-making processes of the cities that surround them.”

All well and good, it would seem. However not everyone who lives in a pocket wants to change jurisdiction. Some like “the psychological distance between themselves and residents of surrounding city neighborhoods” which the powers-that-be cite as detrimental to the “greater sense of community.”

Can pocket residents resist City annexation? Well, no, not if their pocket is less than 150 acres. Lyndale, at 127 acres, is ripe to become just another San Jose neighborhood. Will the people have a chance to vote on annexation? Well, no. “New legislation allows cities to annex unincorporated urban islands through a streamlined process that does not require usual previous protest proceedings of elections…” according to “Island Annexations Streamlined Process Q&A’s,” a City of San Jose publication.

Are there all sorts of burdens which come with annexation? Will taxes change dramatically? Will residents have to pay $10,000 annexation fees? Those answers seem to be “No.” However, annexation will slightly increase property related special assessments and garbage collection fees – and, residents operating businesses will now need to have City of San Jose business licenses.

Are Lyndale-ites quaking in their boots? Well, some are happy to comply. Many are skeptical that City police can serve them as well as the County Sheriff’s department. Some hate the thought. According to one neighbor, the City has qualified seventy parcels to annex and will focus first on fifteen designated targets. Lyndale is not one of the fifteen - so nothing is going to change immediately – at least not for proud and self-sufficient little Lyndale.

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AREF Elects New Officers

Alum Rock Educational Foundation volunteers improve ARUESD schools

The members of the board of the Alum Rock Educational Foundation are proud to introduce its newest officers, Dr. Nancy Pang, and Mr. Edward Ortega, who were elected by the board in August as President and Vice-President, respectively. They join re-elected Treasurer Gaye Dabalos and Secretary John Leyba on the board. Kathy Chavez Napoli has ‘retired’ as board president (though not from the board) after dutifully serving the Foundation since its founding in 1999. Kathy charted a course through rough waters and the board is thankful for her continuing service to the Alum Rock students and community.

Dr. Pang is currently the district’s educational technology coordinator and manages professional development in the use and integration of technology in the curriculum. She earned her BA at UC Berkeley, her Masters in Education at San Jose State, and her Doctorate in Organization and Leadership at the University of San Francisco. Nancy’s work in grant writing for Alum Rock has netted the district over $2 million for special programs to integrate technology into the curriculum. She also brings experience with nonprofit organizations, including service on the board of directors for the Rebus Institute. Most importantly, she’s glad to be on the board of AREF. Dr. Pang says, “As an officer, I hope to lead the organization, which has a highly committed board of directors, in new directions to raise funds that will help Alum Rock students’ ‘dreams of tomorrow,’” echoing the theme of the fundraiser held last March at National Hispanic University.

Mr. Ortega has worked for Alum Rock for ten years in maintenance and operations, following a career in private industry. He was previously a resident of the city of Santa Clara, where he served on the board of the Santa Clara Schools Foundation and served as a Park Commissioner for the city. An avid golfer, Ed has a passion for open spaces that rivals his passion in working for students in Alum Rock and raising money for the Foundation.

Mrs. Dabalos continues in her service as Treasurer of the Foundation, the capacity in which she has served since January 2001 when she first joined the Foundation as the school board’s representative. (She served on the Alum Rock Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2002.) Having sent three daughters through Alum Rock Schools, Gaye holds great hopes for the Foundation, most especially the dream that in working closely with the school board, the superintendent, and the community, we can grow the Foundation as an endowment for Alum Rock children, “to raise money and create dreams and opportunities for kids that they wouldn’t otherwise get.” Mrs. Dabalos recognizes that programs like the Alum Rock Jazz Band made a special difference for her children and wants to see opportunities like that for all Alum Rock students.

An Alum Rock graduate, Mr. Leyba continues in his second year as Secretary of the Alum Rock Educational Foundation. Previously a candidate for the board of trustees (and currently a regular contributor to NNV), John is continuing in his efforts to make Alum Rock schools the best they can be for Alum Rock students. He says, “There are many ways to serve, and we can all do something to make a difference for the better in this district. Whether you have kids or not, these are our schools!”

Click here for the AREF Web site.

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Grievously Wounded Vietnam War Veteran Challenges Lick Students

Respectful audience earns speaker’s admiration

All seats in the James Lick High School gymnasium bleachers were filled. Nine hundred and thirty kids were packed in shoe-horn tight for a noontime assembly on Friday, October 7th.

The students became quiet as Principal Bill Rice walked to the center of the gym with a big, limping man. Dave Roever candidly invited the Lick students to observe his scarred face and torn body. Blind in one eye, wearing a reconstructed ear and a gray hairpiece to cover his blown-apart cranium, he talked for forty-five minutes to the rapt, sympathetic youngsters. They never took their eyes off the odd, big-bellied figure who hobbled slightly as he crisscrossed the gym, microphone in hand. In a raspy Texas drawl, Mr. Roever, by turns serious and comedic, explained how he was shot in Vietnam just as he was about to throw a phosphorous grenade at an enemy position. The grenade exploded at the side of his head.

It was a strange miracle that he survived, but after a year and a half in the hospital and with the support of his loving wife and family, he lives to talk about it. He shares his message of hope and faith and doing the right thing with high school audiences all over the country. “Never strike a woman! Never hit a child!” he said, engaging the young men in the crowd. He told of a disastrous auto accident caused by drunk driving and drew great earnest applause when he asked the Lick kids to vow never to drink and drive. He counseled the students not to let their life challenges drive them to substance abuse. He grieved with them over the hardships he knew many had in their lives. He shared his homely wisdom. “It’s never OK to take your frustrations out on someone else,” he told them solemnly.

Then he sat down at the small blond upright piano centered on the gym floor and, with his battered face uplifted, he played an emotional, rolling, thunderous hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” The kids may not have recognized the tune, but they knew Dave Roever was communicating with them heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul despite his damaged and thumb-less right hand. It was a riveting and moving experience. The students of James Lick High School learned a lot from a 58-year-old one-eyed Anglo guy who taught them to take care of the ones they love, do the right thing and to never give up.

Click here for photos.

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Newsmaker: Councilmember Campos Elected President of LOCC Latino Caucus

400 member caucus comprised of mayors and councilmembers throughout California

The League of California Cities (LOCC) wrapped up its Annual Conference with San José Councilmember Nora Campos elected as Latino Caucus President. Previously elected to the LOCC Board of Directors, Councilmember Campos will succeed Mayor Nick Inzunza of National City as leader of the 400-member caucus.

As President of the Latino Caucus, Councilmember Campos will lead regional advocacy efforts at state and local levels on issues that affect cities and the Latino community. In January 2006, Councilmember Campos will meet with Latino Caucus board members to develop the organization's agenda for the coming year.

"We are pleased to have Nora Campos as our newly elected League of California Cities-Latino Caucus President, which presents an outstanding leadership opportunity" said John Arriaga, Latino Caucus Executive Director, "Nora not only will serve as our President, but she is also a member of the League of California Cities Board of Directors and sits on the National League of Cities HELO Board, creating a local, state and national level platform for leadership"

"In California, we live in a diverse, pluralistic society that needs a full spectrum of voices involved in discussions on state and local issues," said Councilmember Campos, "My role as the President of the Latino Caucus is to provide leadership and advocacy as we work to represent the largest growing population in our state."

The Latino Caucus is a non-profit official affiliate of the League of California Cities. Established in 1990 as a community resource, the organization continues its goal of improving quality of life through advocacy by addressing professional, socio-economic, educational, cultural, and political issues. Working closely with the League of California Cities and the California State Legislature, caucus members participate in the development of public policy that is important to the Latino community. As the statewide network for Latino elected officials, the organization sponsors a broad range of workshops and forums on issues and concerns important to the Latino communities and local economic development.

In addition to her leadership as League of California Cities Board Member and President of the Latino Caucus, Councilmember Campos is on the Board of Directors for the National League of Cities (NLC) and a member of the NLC Hispanic Elected Local Officials constituent group.

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New Appointee to Fill Vacant ARUESD Board Post

At their Wednesday, October 26th board meeting, the trustees of the Alum Rock District interviewed several candidates for the trustee position recently made vacant by the resignation of long-time trustee, Esau Herrera.

After lengthy interviews, the members of the board voted unanimously to appoint Jaime Alvarado to fill the rest of Mr. Herrera’s term. Mr. Alvarado is Executive Director of the Mayfair Improvement Initiative and lives in the Mayfair community.

Click here for a photo from the meeting. Click here for the Mayfair Improvement Initiative web site.

NNV Note: Jaime Alvarado resigned from the ARUESD board on Monday, October 31. The board of trustees now has three choices to fill the vacancy. They could appoint one of the other two applicants, John Leyba or Mark Freitas, to the post at their meeting Wednesday, November 9. Or, they can start the nomination process over - taking applications from interested citizens. Or, they can wait about sixty days from Mr. Alvarado’s resignation at which time the County will step in and set up a special election. 

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Nakajima’s Band (and Chorus, of course)

Vibrant young Lick Music Director shapes high school musicians

Tomoko Nakajima is smaller by far than most of her students, but she doesn’t let that stop her from getting a big, beautiful “noise” out of them. Ms. Nakajima, six years out of Boston University where she studied Music Education, has leapt with enormous enthusiasm into the fledgling music program at James Lick High School.

She grew up on the Peninsula, graduated from Gunn High School and now travels down the road every morning from Sunnyvale. She satiated her lust for far-away places with her school years in Boston. She went there, she says, because she wanted to go far away – not realizing just how much she was going to hate those New England winters. But, now she’s back - and after cutting her music-teaching teeth with two years at Cupertino elementary schools, she knows she’s ready for high school teaching “which I knew I always wanted to do,” she says.

She was a voice major, played flute in the band and studied guitar and piano as well. She’s using all these skills at Lick, teaching fifty to sixty students in two classes of guitar, one piano (keyboard) class with twenty-three students and a twenty-six student (three gentlemen) choir. The band has twenty-eight musicians, but they’re stretched thin during football season because some band members’ first commitment is to cheerleading or the football team. Ms. Nakajima remedied the situation for Homecoming by combining the much-reduced Lick band with the large, nearby, Pala Middle School band. NNV watched their combined rehearsal of the Star Spangled Banner and Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” one afternoon a few days before the big (but unsuccessful) game. Tiny Ms. Nakajima and large Ted Henderson, the Pala music director, made quite a picture, vigorously pumping energy into the resulting eighty-five member band.

Ms. Nakajima has high expectations for herself and her students at James Lick as she becomes more established at the school. Her goal is to build the confidence of the young musicians so they see themselves as being an important element of the “movers and shakers” at the school. She wants them to realize they are making a beautiful sound. “They don’t know yet that they can make a good sound,” she explained to NNV. Giving them positive feedback and appreciation will be something with which the community can help. She’s looking for opportunities for the students to play for the community and is rehearsing them now for a winter concert to be held at 6:30 PM, December 6th, in the multi-use room. (You’re invited – watch our Community Bulletin Board for a reminder.)

Ms. Nakajima is thrilled with the kids at James Lick. She has chaperoned two dances and discovered that, “It’s part of the school culture that the kids ‘stay clean.’”

She loves the feelings of nurturing she receives from her fellow teachers and the administrative staff. “I haven’t had a bad experience yet! I’m very glad to be working here,” she told NNV with her big, engaging smile. And, of course, it was a great boost when Lick science teacher Roberta Cabigas sent a message with the compliment that the choir was the best she had heard at the school during her seven and a half years teaching there!

Tomoko Nakajima is approachable and welcomes interaction with the community. “Come and be serenaded!” she suggests. And, though she didn’t say so, donating your old musical instruments is a welcome way to help a school which has few resources and many students who can’t afford their own instrument. She’d love to hear from you at (650) 575-5046.

Click here for photos.

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You Dig It?

Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with Eastside gardening and related topics here.

November Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 with your gardening questions or check out our website at

Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Med fly): If you've lived in this area since the late 1970's, you probably remember the helicopter spraying for the outbreak of this very damaging pest. Fortunately, aerial spraying is no longer needed to control the Mediterranean Fruit Fly. Millions of sterile male flies have been and will continue to be released over the next year to prevent the fly from breeding. In addition to the sterile males (dyed pink!), fruit and vegetable gardeners within the quarantine area in San Jose are asked to either bag up extra produce and toss it into the trash or keep all produce on the property and compost it for personal use. For information about this control program, go to the Master Gardener Mediterranean Fruit Fly Information website.

Poisonous Plants: As we approach the holidays, there are a lot of questions on poisonous plants. Fortunately, many of these plants have a very bitter taste that limits the amount of the plant eaten. Poinsettia and mistletoe should be kept away from curious children, but the list includes other flowers and plants such as azaleas, callas, carnation, daffodil, foxglove, hydrangeas, iris, lantana, narcissus, poppy, sweet pea and tulips. Different parts of the plant may be toxic. See the excellent information at the California Poison Action Line site.

Citrus Bud Mite: Have you ever seen weirdly shaped lemons or oranges that appear to have 'fingers'? The Citrus Bud Mite attacks newly forming flowers and fruits. The mite is only visible with a magnifying glass and has an elongated yellow body with four legs that appear to come out of its head. The mites feed inside the buds, killing them or causing a rosette-like growth of the subsequent foliage and distortion of flowers and fruit. The problem is usually limited to just a few fruit on the tree. Previously recommended oil sprays have not proven effective. This is one of those pests that is best left alone. The oddly-shaped fruit is edible. There is a citrus fruit that is normally shaped like this called Buddha's Hand but all the fruit on the tree will be this form instead of just a few. Here's a photo of Buddha's Hand. Citrus fruit that just splits apart is usually the result of a change in humidity, whether a sudden rain followed by a heat wave or uneven watering.

Sooty Mold: Aphids, scale, mealybug and whitefly pests all excrete sticky honeydew that is the home for sooty mold fungi. By itself, the fungi cannot kill the plant but it can coat the leaves to the extent that sunlight is prevented from reaching the leaf surface which can weaken the plant. Ants actually "protect" the sucking insects from their predators in order to eat the honeydew. A good first step to reducing the sticky mess that the fungi produces is to keep ants out of trees and away from honeydew-producing insects. One method is to apply a sticky compound such as Tanglefoot (tm) on a tape wrapped around the trunk. Trim back any tree limbs that touch buildings, fences or other access points as well. Baits such as ant stakes can be placed under trees and shrubs to help reduce ant foraging. A strong stream of water will wash the mold off leaves. The mold can be washed off fruit with mild soap and water. For ant information, click here. Click here for sooty mold information.

Readying Fruit Trees for Winter: Many fruit tree pests and diseases spend the winter on or under the tree. There are several steps to take to remove the threat. Rake up fallen leaves and debris. Put down an inch or two of compost around the trunk. Clean up nearby weeds that can also harbor pests and diseases. Check the bark of the tree for borers. If you find holes, use a sharp knife to dig out any larvae. Apply the first spray for shothole fungus on stone fruits using a fixed copper spray. In December, spray for peach leaf curl as recommended in the calendar below. Now is not the time to prune except for dead wood that may harbor pests. Wait until all leaves are gone and the tree is dormant, usually in January/February. Keep a copy of our Fruit Tree and Vine Care Calendar handy to schedule the treatments so you have pest and disease free trees next year. You can see the calendar here (PDF File).

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Toyon Brings Good Cheer

Native lights up winter landscape

By Arvind Kumar

When driving in the California countryside in winter, you may have seen a shrub laden with red berries. No, not the small cotoneaster or the thorny pyracantha, both of which have red berries. The one I am referring to grows 10-20’ tall, and has large green leaves with serrated margins. The top of every stem is bent over with the weight of the berries, and the birds seem to think that a feast has been served.

This is the toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), a member of the Rose family. This handsome shrub is bedecked with red fruit from November through February, providing color to the landscape when it is most needed.

This plant offers interest in other seasons as well. In late spring, its stems are topped by clusters of tiny white flowers. In summer, they turn into green berries, maturing to red by November. Many types of birds feast on the berries throughout the winter months. The cultivar ‘Davis Gold’ has yellow-orange berries.

Toyon is remarkably easy to grow. Best in full sun, toyon takes partial shade, too. It accepts any type of soil, as long as it is well drained; in clay soils, put it on top of a small berm. This California native is tolerant of summer water, with which it grows faster. When fully established (in 3-4 years), monthly watering is sufficient to keep it looking its best.

Toyon accepts pruning, and in small gardens, it can be grown as a specimen, shaped into a small tree; a friend has successfully espaliered it against the fence in her Sunnyvale garden. On larger properties, toyon can be given free reign as a multi-trunked shrub, forming part of an informal hedge or windbreak.

As with other members of the rose family, toyon can be attacked by sooty mold or thrips. In most cases, these are not serious and can be ignored. If the infestation turns severe, apply neem oil spray.

Toyon is available at all native nurseries (Yerba Buena, Native Revival, Elkhorn, Central Coast Wilds). It may also be available through nurseries whose stock comes from Suncrest, e.g., Payless Nursery at King & Aborn in San Jose.

When California designates an official state shrub, toyon will be the topmost contender because of its showy nature and widespread distribution (from Humboldt to San Diego counties). This native shrub imparts a sense of place to the garden, grounding it firmly in California. It is remarkably easy to grow, and demands little by way of maintenance once established. An attractive shrub with seasonal interest that also draws birds, toyon is an all-round performer.

Click here for a toyon photo.

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Master Gardeners in Our Midst

Look for their green thumbs

By Nella Henninger

The Master Gardener Program is coordinated through the University of California Cooperative Extension. The program is widespread not only in California, but nationally and internationally as well. In Santa Clara County, the training takes place every two years, the most recent having been completed last May. Once they have finished the training, MG's have many areas in which to use the knowledge for the benefit of the community. All activities have a research based and educational component. Several research and demonstration gardens, classes, speakers, school programs, tastings and a hotline to help gardeners in the community with their questions are all part of the Master Gardener Program.

Among the many Master Gardeners in Santa Clara County are a large number from our Eastside area. Jeanie Sunseri and I took part in the most recent class. Jeanie is a lifetime resident of the Eastside. She is a quilter, great cook, fulltime wife, mother and grandmother. Master Gardeners has enhanced her knowledge and love of ornamental plants and flowers and increased her knowledge of fruits and vegetables. Jeanie volunteers at the Master Gardeners' Nine Palms research garden.

I grew up in Campbell but have been an Eastside resident for the last 37 years. My husband and I live on four acres off Crothers Road and raise sheep, a donkey, chickens and keep bees. As a retired science teacher, I am especially interested in the biology associated with gardening. I also volunteer at the Nine Palms research garden and look forward to learning more and improving our garden.

We on the Eastside are so fortunate to have quite a few very active Master Gardener veterans living so close to us. Milli Wright has been an MG since 1989. Milli is the "GO TO" person for insect and plant ID. She coordinates the cut flower beds at Nine Palms. She has been especially interested in bringing back the native milkweeds that Monarch butterflies feed upon in our area. It seems to be working.

Mae Schrank and Deva Luna - aunt and niece - went through MG training together in 1997. They live on the family property on Mt. Hamilton Road. You may notice the National Wildlife Habitat sign on their gate when you drive by. Mae volunteers at Nine Palms garden and tends about 40, mostly elderly, chickens at home. She worked on a lovely potager (French kitchen garden) this summer. While she enjoys opera, her main interest is gardening. Deva is a landscape designer specializing in sustainable landscape and also teaches gardening through Santa Clara Adult Education. They have a huge vegetable garden and 87 different fruits and nuts growing on the property. Deva's interests include solar cooking, grafting, herbs, permaculture, edible flowers, alternative building, quirky garden art, and community building.

Bracey Tiede has been a Master Gardener since 1999. One of the most knowledgeable and active MG's around, Bracey has been an East Hills resident since 1992. You may recognize the name from her monthly Hot Topics in NNV. Bracey and husband Richard's garden is organic and mainly Mediterranean. It attracts many birds and insects that help keep the pests to a minimum. Bracey has served as chairman, project director, hotline guru, mentor to new Master Gardeners and briefly as coordinator of the whole program. She finds the things she learns and helping gardeners solve their problems rewarding and interesting.

We have more Master Gardeners in our midst - more in later editions of NNV.

Click here for the Master Gardener Web site and here to learn more about their “Nine Palms” San Jose research site, which is open to the public by invitation only.

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Resisting the Deer

And preparing for the Christmas Bird Count

By Schuster Thompson

There I was. Just looking out my window. Counting birds like I always do. Judy’s persimmons are ripe. It’s a good time to count the birds as they peck a hole in each one.

And then I saw him.

I don’t really like the deer in our yard because they scare away the birds. But, mostly, I just ignore them. And they ignore me as they eat our ivy. Live and let live, I say. Besides, they’re much too big. I like birds better – smaller, more fun to count, tastier.

There have been a lot of deer in our yard recently. The ones with the horns are chasing the ones with no horns. Judy thinks I don’t know what that means because the vet got to me at a very early age. Dr. Lu may have nipped my reproductive life in the bud (Judy doesn't like it when I say "butt") but I’ve got a good idea what it’s all about. (And Judy wonders why I hate to let Dr. Lu get his mitts on me!)

I don’t mind the snakes. Like the rattlesnake Judy found in the planter. Boy, you should have heard her scream. She’s so cute when she’s out of control!

But I digress. As I said, I was just looking out my window into the front yard. And this really big guy with lots of spikes on his horns lay down right under my window.

He stayed there for a long time. Just resting. I got a photo. You can see it here.

He was real quiet and didn’t scare the birds. I took a little nap – and then a longer nap – and he was still there. He must have been really tired. I think I understand why. The bucks (horns) have to chase the does (no horns). Whoever loses the race has to be “it.” And look all doe-eyed and run into the bushes. The does always lose. Then the bucks have to tag the does with their horns and call "ally-ally-in-free" and start the game over. Judy says the bucks are “horny.” Well, duh, any fool can see that!

Actually, I don’t care about that stuff. The red berries are getting ripe. It’s almost drunken robin season. And Christmas Bird Count time. I like this time of year.

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Inaugural City Hall Rotunda Event Draws Arty VIPs – and NNV

Acoustics and lighting leave much to be desired

Parade of Floats doesn’t float NNV’s boat

A few days after the official official grand opening of the new San Jose City Hall on Saturday, October 15th, there was another first-of-a-kind event in the rotunda. Several hundred “VIPs” massed under the big, beautiful, crystalline dome for an hors d’oeuvres and sweets event. There they “heard” several City Councilmembers speak - extolling the dedication and hard work of the History San Jose and San Jose Arts Commission volunteers, committees and commissioners responsible for the extensive photography collection hanging on the walls inside City Hall and the outdoor public art associated with the complex. Also, a number of committee leaders and one of the artists spoke expressing their appreciation of the untold hours of work which went into the finished product.

The quotation marks surrounding the word “heard” in the foregoing paragraph are, unfortunately, apt. Though the three hundred listeners offered their best ears to the speakers, very few words were intelligible over the din of the rotunda’s reverberating echoes. Speaker after speaker made the error of speaking toward, but not into, the microphone. All the audience could hear was garbled and strangled noise. At one point, a man in red suspenders boldly walked up to the speakers (who were standing on a ramp above the crowd) and shouted, “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU! MOVE CLOSER TO THE MIKE!” The speaker of the moment did just that, but just for a moment. Only one speaker got the picture and spoke into the mike.

So, it was fortunate that many chairs were provided for the assembled VIPs because it was a tiring, boring hour’s worth of listening to what might just as well have been a strange and foreign language. It was a relief when the drone stopped and the members of the audience were invited to guide themselves on tours of the indoor and outdoor photo and art installations. And, it was pleasant to be serenaded by the tinkling keyboardist who resumed his suave playing after the speechifying was over.

The large, mostly old, photographs which line the walls of a hallway near the City Council chambers are grand and represent large chunks of San Jose history. Many are photos taken at schools and work places with many, many faces looking into the camera. The detail of the photography is amazing. However, the display apparently was conceived for day-time viewing because, in the dim hallway lighting, it is difficult to appreciate the perfection. Lighting directed at the photos would enhance the exhibit enormously. Is it possible that such lighting got axed when it became obvious that some building expenses would need to be cut?

And, speaking of lighting, the outdoor art installation, the parade of concrete “floats,” is not illuminated at all – or at least the floats were not lighted on the evening of this event – even though one of the purposes of the event was to introduce the nearly complete public art projects. NNV wandered around among the floats which occupy both sides of South Fifth Street behind the City Hall complex trying to ascertain the themes by the light of dim streetlamps. Mostly what became evident was the extremely phallic nature of many of the float motifs. The themes are baffling without some signage giving clues about the concepts being depicted.

Just to give the parade of floats another chance to overwhelm, NNV went back during daylight two days later and took a look at the floats on North Fifth Street across the street from City Hall. Daylight reveals more tapered monoliths (read phalluses), exciting Majolica colors, outstanding tile work and charming details, but it all seems to be inappropriately whimsical (read goofy) for the gravitas of the City Hall and the enigmatic themes simply make one scratch one’s head and wonder. At the risk of exposing NNV’s Philistine roots, we’ll say give us the prosaic, non-phallic equestrian Fallon statue anytime!

Click here for photos from the new City Hall. Click here for our September, 2003, photo story on public art for the new City Hall, as inspired by Eric Carlson of Soft Underbelly of San Jose and Beyond the Pale fame.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletWhat is the community consensus on the new library’s signage?
bulletDid the parking lot at our new library ever open?
bulletWhat’s the latest scoop on the poop at the new library?
bulletWHAT is the story on that house at Clareview Avenue and Alum Rock?
bulletDoes anyone know what the surveying crews were doing on Alum Rock?
bulletWhatever happened to the lost chocolate lab?
bulletWhat was the large column of black smoke in the east foothills early in October?
bulletWhat is all this yellow powder in the air? Is it what’s making my allergies worse?
bulletIs it true that we’re going to have a Costco Store closer to us on the East side?

Q. What is the community consensus on the new library’s signage?

A. NNV can’t speak to consensus, but it’s become clear that at least a few folks would have liked to have seen the words “Alum Rock Branch” in letters of equal importance to the larger, all cap “DR. ROBERTO CRUZ.” However, design-wise, perhaps it’s better to have the contrast of the type-styles and size than it would have been to make them equally important. Since the writing is on the wall, it’s just a matter of getting over it and getting used to it, hey? Click here for photos of the signs and the new parking lot.

Q. Did the parking lot at our new library ever open? I tried to park there several times after it was apparently open - only to find the gate closed.

A. Yes, finally we can park on the south side (front) of the library. According to Library Director Nora Conte, it’s really ready now and library patrons are taking advantage of it. She thinks there are more patrons coming in now that the parking is more convenient. Should there be an overflow, people are still welcome to park in the Lick High School parking lot across the street to the north.

Q. The pigeon droppings problem at the Cruz/Alum Rock Library has certainly not abated since the library was finished in July. The grizzly goop even made Leigh Weimers’ Mercury News column last month. What’s the latest scoop on the poop?

A. Before ground was broken for the new library, NNV asked Councilmember Nora Campos’ staff why the wires couldn’t be put underground along the sidewalk on White Road. At the time we pointed out that Lick and Pala students were traipsing through the muck carrying germs and filth into the old library branch and no doubt into their homes and schools. The problem was even worse then because the sidewalk was very narrow and it was impossible to avoid the stuff.

Their answer was that they had tried to get the undergrounding done, but all they could do was add the project to a long list of utility wires which needed to be buried. But, they said it could be done in the next couple of years. Last week NNV contacted Francis Zamora in Nora Campos’ office and asked him what the status of the project is. He answered that the project is in the City’s five year plan for undergrounding utilities. This is scheduled to be "legislated" in 2007 and constructed in 2008-09. Meanwhile, the City has asked the Public Works Department to contract regular power washings of the sidewalk and have “FoamSpray” placed on the power lines to discourage the pigeon roosting.

With all the horror stories about birds as vectors for disease, it seems that getting rid of pigeon roosts in public places such as a highly traveled school-and-library-corridor would be highest priority, doesn’t it? Click here for a photo.

Q. WHAT is the story on that house on the southwest corner of Clareview Avenue and Alum Rock??? It looks as though it belongs 'way out on Rte 66 in the middle of the desert somewhere, what with all the vehicles and the trash around it. Are that many vehicles in a single yard even legal?

A. NNV put a call in to the County Planning Department to determine whether that house is in City or Country jurisdiction. It turns out it’s in unincorporated Santa Clara County so we called John Toth who responds to questions and complaints about properties here on the East side.

Ours must not have been the first inquiry! Mr. Toth said he’d been out to take a look at the property and, believe it or not, all the activities going on and all those vehicles which fill the yard and driveway are quite legal. Mr. Toth said that the owner is “very cooperative” for whatever that’s worth. When asked whether the owner had received proper permits for his building alterations - such as creating a two-story tall garage bay suitable for a large RV, Mr. Toth referred us to the building department. That call is pending.

Perhaps there is something to be said for allowing the City of San Jose to annex unincorporated County pockets such as that area of Alum Rock. Maybe that junky yard wouldn’t be allowed to blight the neighborhood if City restrictions applied?

Click here for photos.

Q. On October 17th there were lots of surveying crews all up and down Alum Rock Avenue. Does anyone know what they were doing? They're not thinking of widening the narrow part of the street above Kirk/Fleming, are they?

A. No. It turns out that they were part of a Santa Clara Valley Water District project “surveying from the mountains on the west to the mountains on the east” checking the subsidence of the valley floor. (Well, somebody has to worry about this stuff!)

Q. Whatever happened to the lost chocolate lab whose owners put up about a gazillion signs around the Alum Rock area? Did they ever find their dog? Did they have to pay out the $1,000 reward they offered?

A. Well, it turned out to be a very strange saga. It seems the dog, Guinness, disappeared from his own yard one day. The owners were distraught and did everything they could think of to find him. They visited every pound and shelter. They put up the signs. They had all their neighbors looking for him. They put out the large reward offer. Click here for a photo.

Nothing worked. However, rumors surfaced which linked the dog to some men who had worked at a neighboring house. The dog owners did some very creative sleuthing and traced the workmen to Redwood City. They actually went to Redwood City and challenged a man they heard might know about Guinness. (This would not be the recommended course of action – it’s just too dangerous to take the law into your own hands.)

The man admitted that he might just know the location of the dog and he arranged to meet the dog owners in a parking lot at a later time. The meeting came to pass, and believe it or not, there was Guinness, unharmed and ready to be driven home.

Did the owners pay the reward? Nope! And they don’t plan to.

P.S. There’s much more to the story and it’s NNV’s hope that the dog owners will elaborate sometime on the story for our readers. It’s a very exciting caper – and their experiences with the rescue agencies were hair-raising!

Q. What was the large column of black smoke in the east foothills early in October? Was there danger of an Oakland Hills type fire?

A. The smoky column was coming from a home that was burning on Sophist Drive high up in the hills north of Alum Rock Park. Luckily, the wind was not blowing. Both the house that burned and its next door neighbor had wood shake roofs. Had wind spread the fire and blown embers about, that whole area could have gone up in flames.

The fire started within the house - perhaps in the area where the chimney meets the roof. The roof was a total loss. Yes, a fire such as this one could start a major conflagration. The roads in and out of the area are similar to those in the Oakland Hills where fire responders had a difficult time reaching the burning homes. We can be very glad the Sophist fire happened on a very calm day.

Q. What is all this yellow powder in the air? It settles on all our outdoor surfaces looking like someone dusted the valley with sulfur powder. Is it what’s making my allergies worse?

A. According to Master Gardener, Milli Wright, the odd stuff is pollen coming from cedar trees, particularly Atlas Cedars which are blooming right now. Probably what’s stirring up your allergies is the pollen from male Chinese elm trees, according to Master Gardener, Bracey Tiede.

Q. Is it true that we’re going to have a Costco Store closer to us on the East side?

A. Well, it appears that we really might be getting one in northeast San Jose, not too far from the main post office. It will be across the street from the 99 Ranch and east of the post office on Hostetter. Actual address: 1705 Automation Parkway at Hostetter Road. Not exactly close, but closer than Senter Road or Coleman Avenue.

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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
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