More COVID-19 Fun in the Garden and Other Activities

Our past six months have not been all about gardening vegetables or going to the farmer’s market or store to pick up food and supplies. We picked up wine orders at the wineries, stopped for breakfast or lunch at outdoor dining establishments, and even went to the dentist. We got much-needed haircuts too. There wasn’t much else we could do since museums and similar establishments were all closed. And then lightening strikes started fires all over the state, emitting ash and soot that hung over us like a scratchy woolen blanket.

Back in February, I never dreamed we would hunker down in our home without venturing out into the world for this long. At first we were told to shelter in place for two weeks, then it turned into a month, and then another month, and on and on.

When COVID-19 first hit, my son-in-law said, “We’re going to be dealing with the virus into 2021 and maybe even 2022. There’s no way we’ll be making the trip to Hawaii.” I didn’t believe him then. We moved our April trip to October. I was positive the situation would get better by fall. All my positivity was for naught. And here we are with no end in sight, just like he said, and our trip canceled again.

So here are a few things we’ve done during our lockdown besides gardening and fifth wheel trailer maintenance and renovations.

I was a little leery about going to the beach after seeing news reports of overcrowding and people flaunting social distancing and masks. At Half Moon Bay, I didn’t feel unsafe at all. Everyone kept their distance and wore masks while walking around.

Ocean waves chasing boy on shore
Grandson Jackson dared the waves to catch him
Shore bird on sand
The shore birds posed for photos
Red, yellow, and blue kite with red and blue streamers against the sky
Kites flew in the sky
Boy digging in sand on beach and woman wrapped in towel sitting in a chair
Towels kept my daughter and me warm while Jackson dug to China

Jigsaw puzzles kept us from the ever worsening news reports on some days.

Puzzle of old time gas station, old time cars, and trees in the background, cloudy skies, and eagle flying
Road Stop Service

When I heard our dentist was open and learned about their protocols, I didn’t hesitate to schedule my bi-annual appointment. My hygienist, protected by her PPE, met me at the door, took my temperature, and walked me to the room. Everything else was just the same, and I felt as safe as ever.

Dental hygienist wearing mask, glasses, protective plastic mask, blue gown, and green gloves
Dental hygienist at Andre & Judson Dental Corp.

We enjoyed outdoor dining for breakfast, lunch, or coffee and danish a few times. Bill’s Cafe serves breakfast and lunch.

Door entrance to restaurant, server in the background
Patrons not allowed indoors for dining
People sitting under blue and red umbrellas at tables
Ample umbrellas and extra set-ups in the parking lot made it feel like business as usual

At first we had to take our coffee and go, and a few weeks later patrons could sit outside and finish their drinks. But no hogging the table and pretending the coffee house is your office.

Peet's paper coffee cup, blue mask, Hawaiian style purse
A cup of coffee and danish for a quick snack

My favorite was lunch at Beeb’s Sports Bar & Grill at the Las Positas Golf Course in Livermore, where we grabbed a table on the shaded patio. The bonus was watching planes take off from the airport next door and the golfers practicing their putts before their tee times.

Restaurant building with water feature
Water feature outside Beeb’s
Parts of umbrellas, Edison lights, and a plane flying in the sky
The roar of airplanes filled the sky
Green golf course, trees, golf cart, and bench
What’s more relaxing than a green golf course?
Black bird with red on shoulder standing on a table
Watch out for the birds. They are aggressive and will steal your food if you’re not paying attention.

In Downtown Pleasanton, they block off Main Street every weekend to allow the stores and restaurants to serve their customers outside.

Blue cabana and tables and chairs set up on the street next to the restaurant
Setting up dining for the day.

A few family birthdays fell during June and July, so while practicing social distancing, we had barbecues, desserts, and good times.

Back of blue house, man cooking, deck chairs, and wrought iron table.
Jon cooking up baby back ribs
Plate, fork, and knife with lemon meringue pie
Our daughter requested lemon meringue pie instead of birthday cake
Man, woman, teen girl, and young boy on a couch with presents in foreground
Our daughter Laura, granddaughter Maya, grandson Jackson, and son-in-law Chris. Yes, you can use Christmas wrapping for birthdays during a pandemic.

And now, to continue with the gardening theme, we present photos of flowers and succulents growing in our yard. Jon enjoyed watering and trimming the plants, while I reveled in the opportunity to set up my tripod and take my time capturing images. When we’re traveling, my photography is more fly-by then a slow methodical approach.


Red rose bud closed
Red Rose Bud
Red rose bud opening
Red Rose
Peach colored roses on bush
Peach Rose
Red heirloom roses plus bee
Bees love the heirloom roses

Gerbera Daisies

Many gerbera daisies in a flower bed
Gerbera daisies multiply each year
Close up of gerbera daisy
A close up look of a gerbera daisy

Other Flowers

Yellow marigold flower
Pink and white geraniums
Red flower and green leaves
Shining Mandevilla (Mandevilla splendens)


Succulents in oval pails on bakers rack
The Succulent Collection
Succulents in an oval pail
Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum) sprouting flowers
Yellow ghost plant blooms
Ghost Plant Blooms
Blue rose succulent sprouting blooms
Blue Rose (Echeveria imbricata) sprouting
Blue rose buds on blue background
Buds of the Blue Rose
Blue rose blooms on blue background
Blue Rose Blooms

At the end of September, California’s COVID-19 cases and deaths are finally coming under control. I feared the opposite would materialize after the Labor Day weekend. Perhaps the fires and weeks under Spare-the-Air days kept people inside more than usual.

No one knows if we’ll continue to see an improvement in cases and deaths, or if we’ll go backward on the economic opening. Whatever happens, we plan to get out on the road more for at least a few weeks.

Coming up next is our maiden voyage in the fifth wheel after this long spell so we can try out all of Jon’s renovations. Destination: Pescadero, California.

Woo-hoo! The Farmers’ Market is Back

Woo-hoo! Pleasanton’s year-round Farmers’ Market opened May 9, 2020. We receive a delivery of vegetables and fruit every other week and supplement our fresh produce with quick trips to the market. But visiting the farmers’ market on Saturday was one of our weekly treats.

One thing I’ve been missing most is the fresh-popped kettle corn. When I heard the news, I planned all week how to keep myself safe. Blue skies and temps in the low 60s made it a perfect day for being outside. I left the house early to arrive before nine, the designated time for oldsters to shop.

Stella loved kettle corn when she came to visit

I pulled on my gloves and face covering, slipped my camera strap around my neck, and crossed the street. Where vendors usually occupied both sides of the street like in the photo below . . .

Will we ever crowd in so close again?

on this Saturday they only covered one side. Instead of the vendors all squished together, there was plenty of space in between. This left plenty of room for lines to form and patrons to pass through. An X inside a circle marked the spot for people to stand while waiting for their turn to make a purchase. I looked to the west . . .

Looks so strange to see all the masks

and then to east but “Eat the Best Kettle Korn’s” blue, screened-in tent was nowhere in sight. They must be around the bend.

People look like they’re dressed to rob a bank

Everyone wore a mask as was the rule. Even the policeman standing watch modeled proper behavior.

The Officer Knight looked like a bandit too

A vendor commented on how strange it was not to offer samples. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do besides stand there and wait for customers. Customers aren’t allowed to pick up the food or squeeze or pinch it to test its ripeness. Do not touch until you buy it.

Oranges and squash all bagged up and ready to go

Usually, there’s a person or several playing music and singing songs. There was no such activity this Saturday. Nor did I smell the aroma of popping corn or hear the corn kernels being stirred around in the metal kettle.

I’ll take a 3-pack, please

I turned the corner where the vendor booths continued the length of the parking lot. My shoulders drooped when I reached the end and realized there’d be no kettle corn for me.

No kettle corn as far as the eye could see

I’ll have to wait a little longer to satisfy my craving for the sweet and salty popcorn. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my 3-pack of red heart strawberries and cartons of blueberries and cherries.

Fruit on a Plate

Although our governor loosened some COVID-19 restrictions this week for local areas that meet certain criteria, our county and the Bay Area do not meet the requirements. We must abide by the more restrictive orders. The only prohibitions the health department loosened this week was for construction, real estate transactions, and some outdoor businesses and activities so long as they follow social distancing protocols.

To the delight of local golfers, the Pleasanton Golf Center at the fairgrounds opened the gates.

Ah, the sound of golf balls being whacked by a club

The familiar thwack, thwack, thwack is back for those who dare, however chipping practice is off-limits temporarily.

No chipping practice for you

That concludes my wrap up of the goings on in Pleasanton. How are things working out in your neck of the world?

Stay Safe

A Walk in the Park: Business Park, that is

Bernal Corporate Park sign overlooks Interstate 680

I was all set to write my next post detailing our 2016 travel adventure that took us to Big Bend National Park in Texas. Then I took a walk. It felt good to get out of the house and enjoy the feel of the sun on my arms, hear birds singing in the trees, and smell the fresh-mown grass and blooming flowers. I walked the half mile to Bernal Corporate Park where there is a concrete path that surrounds the park.

The first thing I see is a spiky green ball hanging from a tree. I wondered what it was while I snapped a photo.

Is this a conker or horse chestnut?

New growth on a redwood tree looked interesting too.

Future redwood limbs

I’m not sure what these long strands are in the photo below. They sort of look like Brussels sprouts stalks, except the balls look soft. Perhaps they turn into flowers. Although I’ve walked this path many times, I never once remember seeing these and the spiky balls.

Does anyone know what these strings are?

I often see co-workers out for exercise or otherwise engaged in a confab between two or more whenever I walk the path. This was Saturday, a day off for most. Except around these buildings, Saturday is usually still bustling with employees. This day I only saw people out for a leisurely walk, walking their dogs, or running.

Exercise equipment and benches for resting along the path
Flowering trees line the path
Cars usually pack Interstate 680 even on Saturdays. Not this day.
Reflections in the windows
Snapdragons and pansies, my favorites

In the photo below, water used to flow over the bricks into a pool at the base of the metal structure. It was turned off during the drought and never turned back on.

Art in the park

The sound of water flowing drew my attention to a courtyard. Water rushed over these two obelisks and splattered into a pool. Benches, tables under a cabana, and a full kitchen including a bar with taps would be a great place to hold a party. For employees who prefer working outdoors, there are even power towers, some of which include both USB connections and electric sockets.

Courtyard for relaxation and fun
Fully equipped outdoor kitchen
Plug in and charge away
Lillies in the grass

Need to work on your putting skills? Head out to the putting green in the courtyard.

Putting green

I can envision people gathered around the fireplace on cooler days and nights. I wonder if they have marshmallow sticks to use.

Got marshmallows?

The Pear Tree Café is closed temporarily. I never knew the restaurant was there. I must try it when they reopen. The photo of the Ahi Poke Bowl on their Factbook page looked like a delicious choice.

Hope Pear Tree Cafe reopens

There are charging stations for the electric vehicles that are so popular in the Bay Area. I’ve heard that nature is taking over since humans are stuck in their homes. It looks like spiders have already taken over after only forty days.

Spiders take over the world

As I worked my way back home, I saw this woman and her husband riding minibikes around the empty parking lots. The huge smile on her face told me she was having great fun. This is one way Pleasantonians can enjoy themselves when everything else is closed. I wished I could have joined them.

Hey, can I have a ride?

Below is a picture of my favorite part of the park. Meandering between buildings, a path follows a creek under mature shade trees. I always wished I could have had my office overlooking the creek when I was still working. It’s always a few degrees cooler there and refreshing to walk through after a power walk. I crept up on this gaggle of geese pecking around in the grass searching for food. Too bad I didn’t have my Sony with the zoom lens.

A gaggle of geese

Across the street from the business park, the Alameda County Fairgrounds and Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare prepares for the April 27, 2020, opening of a COVID-19 testing site scheduled to operate through June 27.

Testing anyone?

The building below is the off-track betting facility operated by the fairgrounds. Parking near the building is reserved for the facility. Out by where I took the photo, commuters use the lot to park their cars, then board a bus to ride across the bay to their workplaces. During the week cars fill the lot to overflowing into adjacent gravel lots. There are days the freeway crawls with semis and vehicles to the point it barely moves. I can’t imagine how bad it would be with the additional cars that fill these lots. For now, while most employees are working from home, the lot is empty.

Park and ride the bus from the off-track betting facility

On most Saturdays golfers sometimes have to wait for a spot at the driving range and a constant thwack, thwack, thwack can be heard. Unfortunately, the county health department classified golf as a nonessential activity during the shelter-at-home restrictions. I’m sure many people disagree with the classification and are jonesing to whack a bucket of balls for an hour or two.

No golfers at driving range during the lockdown

Energized from my walk and with a phone filled with fresh photos, I hurried home to write up this post to share. The 2016 Big Bend trip can hold for another week. Of course, there’s always the chance something else shiny and new will capture my attention.

Stay Safe