Stroll into the past

Stroll into the past

To really understand something you should know it’s history. On my recent exploration through Santa Clara I came across a few opportunities to learn the city’s history.

The first one is the Stroll Into The Past, a seven station, self-guided tour behind City Hall. The stations start with the Ohlone, and move to the Mission and to the settlers that came, to being the center of the tech evolution. There is a good overview, and a lot of reading.

Santa Clara Brewery, 1890If you prefer a more visual approach, stroll over to City Hall and check out the photographs that are displayed in the hallway. Here, I learned that Santa Clara was once the home of one of the largest tanneries in the world.

To complete the historic overview I recommend the walking tour of historic buildings. The city of Santa Clara put out a map: ( , it has a lot of information about the houses and their architecture. On rare occasions, the Santa Clara Historic Home Tour is offered and gives you a glimpse into the houses. Jamison-Brown House, Santa Clara

Finally you can arrange a visit to the Harris-Lass House Museum, the last farm site in Santa Clara, and number 11 on your walking tour. This place is only open by appointment (408-249-7905, leave a message).

Where do you stroll into the past?

Jazz in the de Saisset

Jazz in the de Saisset

A new exhibit just opened in Santa Clara University’s Museum de Saisset: Jazz Greats. A loan from the Bank of America collection, the free exhibit is open until June 16th, 2018.

Poster of the exhibit Jazz Greats currently at the de Saisset, Santa Clara UniversityThere are two galleries filled with black and white images. In gallery I, among others, are pictures of a young Miles Davis and Billy Holiday. One that impressed me the most is an image of Dizzy Gillespie in France, showing kids how to blow up their cheeks. Gillespie clearly wins with the most volume

Gallery II greets you with jazz music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. An old record player is set up to have an authentic experience of the music. There are two couches in the middle. When you looked at the pictures of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, you can then relax with some coffee table books about jazz.

As a contrast. the other upper gallery is showing Michael Mazur’s illustrations to Dante’s inferno.

Ohlone hut from the permanent exhibit of de Saisset at Santa Clara UniversityDownstairs is the permanent collection. A historic résumé of the beginning of the mission and it’s interaction with the Ohlone and the evolution into the university.

The most prominent piece is a replica of an Ohlone hut. But you can’t go inside.

Overall a nice museum that is free with the option of giving a donation.

Where do you get your jazz?


Geek out with computer artifacts

Geek out with computer artifacts

Have you ever visited the ‘Birthplace of Silicon Valley”? The HP garage is a national landmark, at 367 Addison Ave, in Palo Alto. Unfortunately it does not offer a public tour.

Replica of the HP garage and workbench, StanfordIf you really wonder what it was like to work in the garage you should go visit Stanford’s Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center. On what they call the terrace level, I would refer to as the basement, is a replica of the HP garage and workbench. This replication illustrates the size of the workplace and feels like a homage to the first tech-founders out of Stanford. The chairs and the table inside weren’t part of the garage, but they are a great way to collaborate with fellow students and let your creativity flow, like Hewlett and Packard did back in their days.

Other artifacts in the Engineering Center include Yahoo’s motherboard, the geometric engine chip (necessary to render 3D graphics), the Intel 4004 (the first microprocessor) and NVIDIA’s first GPU (the GeForce 256). All on the first floor.

The first Google storage server, StanfordMy personal favorite is the first Google storage server (on the terrace level). The case is made out of Lego’s and it is said that Google’s affinity for primary colors came from the building blocks color scheme.

All these exhibits remind us that Stanford’s engineering department has a longstanding history of enabling successful companies.

Stanford Engineering HerosYou can pick up a copy of the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center self-guided tour at the computer kiosk located at the first floor lobby or in suite 135. One hour tours of the Engineering Quad are offered 3-4 times a week and require reservations (



What is your favorite computer artifact?

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

One of my first stops on a recent visit to Berkeley was Poetry Walk on Addison Street, between Shattuck Ave and Milvia Street. I love public art and curious things out of the ordinary. Putting poems on a sidewalk counts in my book as a creative showstopper.

Moment poem at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyIn 2003 the city of Berkeley installed more than 120 individual cast iron plates with porcelain enameled text on Addison Street. Robert Hass, former US Poet Laureate and a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, selected the poems that represent the history of Berkeley. The whole project was really a team effort, that got rewarded with multiple awards. (

Make Art, brick artwork, at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyThe first thing I noticed was that I was the only one admiring and stopping to read the prose. Some scaffolding prevented me from seeing them all.

From the Cold Mountain poems by Han-shan, Poetry Walk, BerkeleyA person cleaning the sidewalk got interested in one of Han-shan’s Cold Mountain poems after I told him I just recently learned about him. “He was a real person?” He asked. “Yes” I said and he looked again closer, reading the poem.



I also stepped into the tourist information center on Addison, and came out with lots of material about Berkeley to cover.

What poem would you like to see on this walk?


Berkeley Installs Three Tons of Poetry in the Downtown Arts District

Berkeley Poetry Walk Receives Downtown Berkeley Association’s President’s Award


Bowl on a lawn

Bowl on a lawn

Pauline explaining lawn bowling at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling ClubHave you seen my list of 50 things to do in Sunnyvale? Number 36 on the list (not in any order) is Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling. The club invited me and a group of my friends to come check out the game. Joe, a lawn bowl Hall of Famer, and Pauline were our coaches for a beautiful Sunday afternoon lawn bowling session. We learned all about the Jack (a small white ball) and the bowls that you roll at the Jack.

A game easy to learn – and hard to master. Joe, explaining lawn bowling at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club


Joe and Pauline were constantly helping and correcting us, but in a fun way. This sport is also relatively inexpensive. You have to join a club near you, but they usually let you use their bowls for a while to try out the right size for you. I think every club around the area has a drop-in policy where you can check out the game.


There are quite a few places in the Bay Area to try out lawn bowling.

Rossmoor Walnut Creek Lawn Bowling Club

Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club

Oakland Lawn Bowling Club

San Jose Lawn Bowls

Santa Clara Lawn Bowls Club

Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club

Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club

Santa Cruz Bowls Club

San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club


who is closest?Our whole group had a fun time, and we all agreed we would love to bowl again.

Thank you again Joe and Pauline for a great Sunday afternoon!


Have you ever bowled on a lawn?

Take a watercolor journey

Take a watercolor journey

The Foster in Palo Alto is a relatively new art space. Featured are watercolors from Tony Foster who chronicles his wilderness adventures in aquarelles.

Tony Foster's pop artFoster a trained pop culture artist turned to self taught plein air painter in hope of protecting the wilderness he depicts.

He journals his paintings with diary entries, little map pieces, and found objects or souvenirs. 

I was warmly greeted by Kathleen who introduced me to Tony Foster. His painting supplies are at the entrance to get an understanding on how a plein air painter works – everything has to be light! I also liked the map of the places that he traveled to and painted.

Christ in the Desert Monastery, Tree and Rock in a Blind Canyon by Tony Foster

Going into the exhibit I decided to take the audio tour with explanations from the painter himself and wander off by myself. I did not stick with the audio tour, mainly out of time constraints, but it is another reason to come back and experience the pictures in a different way.

I really enjoyed my visit and was surprised how well the space was used; it seemed like you could meander with pictures forever.

Have you heard of Tony Foster?

Mix-up your museum visit

Mix-up your museum visit

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is really five experiences in one.


Mysterious objects at the Heart Room of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and HistoryOn the first floor it has the Heart Room. A lot of knick knacks and mysterious objects that encourage you to start a conversation, with yourself or whoever is listening. You can even make your own booklet, with writer’s prompts, designed by the Young Writers Program.


If you climb the stairs to the second floor, you’ll notice the surfboards and some modern art. While it also offers changing exhibits, the floor itself is the home of the history museum. Santa Cruz’s history is well displayed in various sections, from the Native Americans, to the farm workers, to the Hippies, all who shaped Santa Cruz.


Toys in the exhibit: Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History The current exhibit: Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum runs until December 31st, 2017 and is a must-see! Understanding the system and the people behind the foster program was sad and eye-opening. Nevertheless they leave you with a plan on how to help and take action.


Ballooniverse created by Addi Somekh at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and HistoryOn the third floor you step into the Ballooniverse Addi Somekh’s space for balloon art. A small room with huge balloon sculptures. That made me smile. You can even make your own balloon hat in the hallway. On the opposite site is the Secret Garden, an outside area that lets you unwind and refocus.


Which experience do you prefer?

I promise you two rose gardens

I promise you two rose gardens

At the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose the smell is overwhelmingly luxurious.

Roses at the Municipal Rose Garden in San JoseNames like love song, white delight, jump for joy, sparkle & shine, passionate kisses speak to the traditional use of roses as a gift for the loved one.

Here you see a lot of people stopping and smelling the roses, taking pictures and wandering in awe. A perfect location for wedding photos.


Only 1.5 miles to the north, up Naglee Ave is San Jose’s Heritage Rose Garden. First I thought it odd to Roses at the Heritage Rose Garden in San Josehave two rose garden so close to each other. But the two could not be more different. There was no one else around when I explored the garden. So close to the street I thought the smell was fuel, but I only had to wait a few minutes to realize the the garden is on the flight path of San Jose airport and most likely the smell was kerosene. In between planes it is actually a quiet place and the amount of roses shows that the purpose of this garden is to preserve them. With almost 3,500 plants and 3,000 varieties from heritage to modern to miniature roses, this is an amazing experience. So, if you are a true rose aficionado this might be the place for you.

Where do you stop and smell the roses?

Hunt for wildflowers

Hunt for wildflowers

We made it out of the drought and one of the perks after a rainy season is the abundance of wildflowers. While the ‘super-bloom’ refers more to fields in Southern California, here in the Northern part are also fast amounts of wildflowers.

Edgewood park in Redwood City is offering a free docent led tour every Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. This popular event draws so many people that they offer a free shuttle from East Palo Alto over to San Mateo.

Wild flower at Edgewood parkI visited on Tuesday morning and walked by myself. It was a stunning hike, which starts out uphill but shady, and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Bay. Plus, I found more than 20 different wildflowers along the way. Some of these flowers are tiny, which makes me wonder if our store bought flowers are on steroids.

For your convenience, the Edgewood Park also has a web page dedicated to what’s blooming this month, so you can look up the names of the flowers you saw. Happy hunting!
What is your favorite place to see wildflowers?

Spot some hummingbirds

Spot some hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are among the smallest birds in the world. They get their name from the humming sound they create by beating their wings about 50 times per second. I have always been fascinated by them and they give me joy when I spot them.


Hummingbird at the Hummingbird trail at UC Santa Cruz ArboretumThe UC Santa Cruz Arboretum has a hummingbird trail where the plants in bloom are sure to attract the little birds. For $5 you can wander the grounds and learn about plants from all over the world. And if you like to see more flying objects, they also have a butterfly walk. Butterfly chart from the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum


Where do you spot hummingbirds?