It's been five years since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5, 2011. This week Old Palo Alto resident Catherine Debs, as she has in years past, put the finishing touches on a pair of trees at the intersection of Bryant Street and Lowell Avenue, decorated with ornaments celebrating milestones in the creative genius' life.
From oft-repeated quotes ("Stay hungry. Stay foolish") -- to product launch dates (2003, iTunes) -- to photographs (Jobs with his wife and children), the decorations honor the legacy of the man whose vision forever changed the face of not just the personal-computing computing industry but the way people relate to technology.
Debs, the former assistant chief of protocol for San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, said she was motivated to pay tribute to her former Old Palo Alto neighbor right after he died.
"I remember listening to the radio as I drove home near his house," Debs recalled. "I heard the news, and I immediately didn't believe it. I drove by the (Apple) store on University, and nothing was going on. They didn't know anything.
"When the news got out, the University Avenue store was decorated -- just like when Princess Diana died -- with flowers, notes. And I said, next year at this time, since he was our neighbor, we would honor him," Debs said.
"Steve Jobs was our (Thomas) Edison. He was a tour de force," she said of his nonstop inventiveness.
Debs' adornments on the maples follow prior bursts of creativity. She began festooning the trees, coincidentally, shortly after Jobs died; her first project was for Halloween 2011.
Since then she's hung giant firecrackers and fiery dragons for Chinese New Year, birdcages and bright pink flowers for the beginning of spring, and other seasonal objects.
Although bicyclists along Bryant Street whizzed by the Apple trees on Friday, one woman walking her German shepherd stopped to look. Stepping under the leafy canopy, she reached up to read the ornaments and reflect.
This is part of what Debs intended when she and a friend, lightscape designer Bernie Wooster, first conceived of decorating the trees: a way to bring neighbors together by giving them something to talk about.
This month, some of that food for thought comes in the form of Jobs' own words. In addition to the ornaments, a banner near the trunk of one tree observes: "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
A second banner poses a provocative question that Jobs, in a commencement speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005, said he asked himself every morning: "If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you're about to do today?"