Posts Tagged ‘Willow Glen’

Willow Glen Lions Mixer at Chase Bank

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The Willow Glen Lions Club held its 2nd annual mixer, generously hosted by Chase Bank on Lincoln Avenue at Minnesota. Our service club was chartered just over a year ago but we have gotten quite a lot done in a short time.  Lions enjoyed meeting potential new club members who also want to give back to their community. We were all impressed when one of the bank managers ate a hot pepper from the snack tray in exchange for a $40 donation to Lions charities.

The bank building still displays its murals inside and sculptures and mosaics outside, despite recently changing hands. I wonder who the artist was? I was glad to see the murals in detail.

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

$1,453 Refunded for FEMA Mistake


Hooray! Today, after over a year of protesting, we were finally refunded the full $1,453 for flood insurance we had to buy because of a FEMA map mistake. Sometimes, you can fight City Hall and win!

On 7 July 2009, my husband and I received a letter from our mortgage holder that FEMA (the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) had changed their FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) such that our house was now in a high-risk SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area). We were required to buy annual flood insurance for the life of our mortgage loan because of FEMA’s map change.

Our house was built around 1930 next to the Guadalupe River, also known as the Lewis Canal in what is now the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California. The Lewis Canal is named after its engineer, Frank Lewis (who was husband to Martha “Patty” Reed Lewis of the Donner Party). The canal was built about a hundred years ago. The property line behind our house runs down the middle of the river and includes a steep embankment that rises five feet above ground level and then drops twenty feet to the river water.

How did the FEMA map of a hundred-year-old canal and eighty-year-old house change? FEMA maps used to be drawn on a plain background. Some clever person decided to take the old maps (as is – with no change) and superimpose the lines on a background of satellite photos. The resolution of the original map and the satellite map were different. The old map was drawn on square grids and the satellite photos were taken with a round lens – so there was some mismatch and alignment error. A flat picture of the round Earth will always have such errors.

The creation of the new map caused the mortgage company’s flood area determination company (LPS National Flood) to review the situation of the mortgaged properties which might be effected. Although FEMA’s new FIRM did not include any new information with regard to the relative location of our house and the river, the new picture’s misalignment appeared to make the line indicating our house touch the line of the river. That our house is ten feet from the edge of the embankment’s retaining wall did not matter. Taking the most conservative approach, the mortgage company required us starting immediately to pay $1,453 annually for flood insurance for the duration of the mortgage.

We talked with our mortgage company with no good results. We contacted FEMA with no good results. We contacted LPS National Flood with no good results. We talked with the insurance company with no good results. Everyone said that even though the new map did not correctly reflect the physical circumstances of our house and the river, the mortgage company could require us to buy flood insurance in perpetuity based on the map. We signed up for flood insurance and continued to fight.

We eventually hired J.P. Tanner of Scotts Valley to work with FEMA to correct their map. We learned in the process that hundreds of other San Jose home owners along the river were in the same bureaucratic map-insurance mess as we were. Eventually, in April 2010, FEMA issued a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) formally removing our house from the flood zone. It took until today for our mortgage and insurance companies to issue paperwork and send a refund check.

Pancakes for Charity, at “Hot San Jose Nights”

The Willow Glen Lions Club will be serving up pancakes at this coming weekend’s Hot San Jose Nights event – held in “Rodder’s Park” at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. All proceeds from pancake breakfast sales go to scholarships for children at Diabetes Society camp this summer. The Willow Glen Lions will also be collecting eyeglasses to be recycled – given to needy people at no charge.

Pancakes will be served July 10 & 11, 2010 Saturday & Sunday, 8-11 AM
Hot San Jose Nights just isn’t another car show, it is an event for the whole family

Entry: $10.00 or Lions Special Breakfast and Entry: $18.00
Contact Robert Cortez for group pre-purchase discount, Email:
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds 344 Tully Rd., San Jose, CA 95111

The Lions practiced cooking eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes at last night’s meeting – it was good!

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Hot San Jose Nights Event Highlights:

The Hot Rods Band, Joe Sharino Band, Elvis impersonator Rick Torres, Go Karts, Car Club Areas, Schoeppner Shows Carnival!, Nigel & Clive and the British Invasion, Bizzarro’s Collector Car Auction, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford Charity, CASINO, VendoRama indoors and outdoors!, Cruise to the Drive-In with actress Candy Clark from our featured movie AMERICAN GRAFFITI!, Swap Meet at the Fairgrounds

Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

Sweet Mango Replaces Siam Square

Long-time Willow Glen restaurant Siam Square Thai Cuisine is being transformed this week into Sweet Mango. Siam Square’s retiring owners recently sold the place to Cindy Liu who is remodeling now. Cindy told me to look for Sweet Mango’s opening next week. The new restaurant will offer a menu of Chinese and Burmese dishes. She said that if you enjoy the food at Green Elephant Gourmet restaurant in Palo Alto, you will like Sweet Mango.  Check it out soon at 1040 Willow Street, San Jose, 408-293-2268


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Image Copyright 2010 Katy Dickinson

Plants vs. Zombies

The best $2.99 I ever spent was on my iPhone version of Plants vs. Zombies.  This is a game which requires you (the suburban homeowner) to defend your back yard, pool, and eventually the roof from invading zombies of increasingly bizarre aspect and powers.  Your defense is garden plants: peashooters, sunflowers, cherry bombs, wall-nuts, potato mines, and other creative variations.

What does that have to do with San Jose?  At this time of year after the unusual amount of rain, it is easy to view my Willow Glen backyard as a battlefield with the plants (and me) vs. the snails and weeds.  My Matilija poppies, which are now extending their huge fried egg flowers enthusiastically into the branches of the almond tree, easily seem as odd as some of the plants in the game. The Nasturtiums are spreading as wide horizontally as the poppies are shooting upward. And my Aloe flowers look like orange explosions floating above the spiky plants below.

My daughter Jessica wrote a zombies blog a few months ago which referred to a 4/13/2009 New York Times editorial by Adam Cohen which says: “Monster stories are a projection of our collective anxieties — and that may explain why in the current economic downturn, zombies are starting to catch up with the long-fashionable vampire. … Zombie stories often end with a hearty band retreating to a small, secure space — a cabin or a shopping mall — and fighting for survival.”

When I clear my garden of weeds and snails, and when I clear my electronic roof of zombies, I feel like a heroic defender. Very satisfying.

Matilija poppies




Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

Lions in Egypt

The new Willow Glen Lions Club will have a table on opening day of the Willow Glen Community Farmers’ Market on Saturday, 8 May 2010 at The Garden Theater building, 1165 Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Willow Glen. Please come visit – we welcome new members!

The Willow Glen Lions Club is looking for a regular meeting location in or near downtown Willow Glen. The service club meets at 6 pm on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays monthly, currently at the Hobee’s in the Pruneyard, Campbell. Willow Glen Lions Officers are checking out a number of new location possibilities. Club Webmaster and Historian John Plocher was recently seen wearing his club shirt visiting fellow lions in Memphis and Giza, Egypt:

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

Top Nosh Cafe Opens in Willow Glen

While I have been working at the Diabetes Society on the top floor of the Garden Theater building in Willow Glen, I have also been waiting for the new Top Nosh Cafe on the ground floor.  Today it opened!  I was on my way across the street to Peet’s for some morning coffee when someone said that Top Nosh is now open and selling Espresso drinks for half off! The Peet’s on Lincoln Avenue usually has an all-day crowd inside and in front, complete with dogs and bikes. I have loved Peet’s coffee ever since I was at U.C. Berkeley, near where Peet’s was born.

Nonetheless, I went inside to see Willow Glen’s newest restaurant. The brown paper is indeed off the windows at last and Top Nosh is open.  I was delighted to find a friend behind the counter.  Yasmin Tyebjee is the CEO and Owner of the Top Nosh Cafe and a very good cook.  She is also the Mom of one of my daughter’s Middle School classmates.  Top Nosh serves breakfast and lunch and take out dinners.  Check it out!

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Images 2010 Copyright Katy Dickinson

Happy 50th Birthday Tim!

I have been working as the Summer Camp Registrar for the Diabetes Society on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen. A few days ago, someone came back to my cubie to say that a woman was at the reception desk wanting to register some kids for camp. When I walked up, Donna Miller introduced herself and handed me two camp registration forms plus an envelope full of checks. She explained that in her family the birthday boy collects donation checks instead of presents. It was Tim Miller’s 50th Birthday recently and he wanted his gift to go to the Diabetes Society. The envelope contained eight checks totaling $575! What a generous and charming way to celebrate a big birthday!

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Photos Copyright 2010 Katy Dickinson

Diabetes Society Camps Filling Up Fast

The Diabetes Society in Willow Glen is offering a great variety of educational and fun camping programs for Summer 2010 for kids, teens, and families living with type 1 diabetes. Because the Diabetes Society recently went through a fiscal restructuring, fewer camps are being offered; however, available camping dates and locations are filling up fast. For more information, check out the Diabetes Society web site.

Since 1963, the Diabetes Society has been providing public education and one-on-one consultations to individuals with diabetes. The Diabetes Society (1165 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 300, San Jose, CA 95125)  is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization with no regional, state, or national affiliations. Its operations are funded through donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, service clubs, special events, fees for service, and membership dues.

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Photos Copyright 2008 Diabetes Society

High School Speakers

The new Willow Glen Lions Club held its first annual high school speech contest on 21 February. For more about that event, read my blog entry called Willow Glen Lions Speakers’ Contest.

Our club champion, Sara Cois of Presentation High School in San Jose went on to speak at the Area-level contest, at the Saratoga Library. Here is Jim Isaacson’s description of that 5 March contest:

The contestant from the Willow Glen Lions Club contest, Sara Cois, competed very well with three other students but did not place first. The four contestants were very close in the scoring and gave interesting perspectives on the topic of “Universal Health Care, How Will it Affect Us?”. Their variations in speech styles added to the challenges the judges faced in scoring the contestants. Three speakers, including Sara, are Seniors and the fourth is a Sophomore. The speaker advancing to the Region 1 contest is from Leland High School and initially won at the Almaden Super Lions club contest.

…The next competition level, Region 1, Student Speakers contest will be held Tuesday March 23, 6:30 PM, at The Atrium at San Jose. All contests are open to all Lions and the public.

The Lions Youth Exchange Program and Lions International Peace Poster Contest along with the Student Speakers Contest are all efforts where Lions make a difference, and in addition, we are helping youth develop into adults who will also make a difference.

Pictures from the Willow Glen Contest

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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