What a week

Sunrise in Berkeley from the front steps
Sunrise from my son’s porch Thursday morning.

I arrived in Berkeley Saturday night to help my son for a week post surgery.

I called my husband repeatedly who remained at home. Normally, I talk to him lots of times each day when we’re apart. Even when he went into an office for work, we called each other several times a day. When I hadn’t heard from him in 20 hours — I was worried.

Finally, he called me back and he sounded horrible. He said his throat felt like razor blades and he was congested and had aches and pains.

He called his doctor for an appointment when he felt even worse. No appointments available for two weeks. You know where this is headed, right? He found a tele-med appointment and called me Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. — after his appointment. The diagnosis was Omicron. (Razor blades painful sore throat is the number one symptom.)

I was sitting in my son’s house with the kids begging me not to go home to my COVID-infected husband and house. They want me to stay. I’m sure my son and his girlfriend welcome my help, but don’t want me to catch the virus, either.

I’m terribly worried about my husband all alone in the state of Arizona with COVID. He’s already sicker than I remember him ever being.

We’ve been double vaxxed and boosted.

The kids received rapid tests from Amazon and they made me take one. It was the longest ten minutes waiting for the line to appear on the test.Two lines COVID, one line Negative. I cooked my son his slow cooking oats — waiting for the results to show.

Negative.

My husband works remotely from home. I’m home all the time. We’re together whenever we go out — at least this has been our standard operating procedure since COVID hit the country and we moved to a new state. How did my husband get it and not me?

I went back and forth on whether I should stay in California for a few more days, or whether I should take a flight back immediately. I finally decided to stick to the original plan and to take my noon flight home today. I’ll take a Lyft from the airport and move into the casita. Hopefully far enough away to not catch Omicron, but close enough to be there if my husband needs medical help.

What a stressful scary day. The other weird thing is when COVID hit so close, I felt like we had done something wrong. Like we’re guilty or dirty. I never felt that way with the flu or a cold. I think it’s because there’s so much politics going on with this virus.

If anyone in your family or close friends have gotten COVID, did they have a mild case or was it severe? How long did the symptoms last? Did part of your family get it but not everyone?

One of my favorite things to do…

…in Berkeley

Grocery shop.

That’s because of Berkeley Bowl, which opened in 1977 in a building that previously was home to Berkeley’s bowling alley. Berkely Bowl West, which is a short walk from my son’s house, is on Heinz Street in a building that housed a ketchup factory.

My first trip to Berkeley, our son and his girlfriend took us to see their favorite grocery store and to have lunch in the cafe. Now when I visit, I have to go to Berkeley Bowl. How often is a grocery store an attraction where you take your guests? At the airbnb I’m staying in, the owners list Berkeley Bowl as a must in “things to do.”

I’m hit with a wave of anxiety each time I enter, due to the abundance. There are so many varieties of everything that it can be overwhelming. Then, I settle down and enjoy the experience. Wandering through produce, seafood, meats, snacks, sushi and hot foods — with so many ethnic cuisines — there’s too much and I want to try everything. It’s an experience you should not miss, if you’re in Berkeley.

Outside Berkeley Bowl West with watermelons and fruit on display.
Outside the entrance to Berkeley Bowl West, one of two Berkeley Bowls.
Fruits at Berkeley Bowl.
A photo of a tiny bit of produce.
Wide variety of mushrooms at Berkeley Bowl.
Mushrooms. Have you ever seen so many types in one store?
I never knew there were so many varieties of chanterelle mushrooms — which are my favorite. I used to go chanterelle hunting with my mom in Washington state.
potatoes on display at Berkeley Bowl
Potatoes. My cousins have a potato farm. I wonder what they’d think of the varieties.

sushi grade fish at Berkeley Bowl
Sushi grade fish display. Also, I counted more than 10 types of salmon in the regular seafood section.
Deli sandwiches and caviar at Berkeley Bowl.
Deli sandwiches and caviar anyone?
Produce at Berkeley Bowl
Non organic produce as opposed to their organic produce section.

I miss the cafe which is closed due to COVID. I think there is take out, but I loved sitting inside with my kids having a bowl of chowder or something else amazing. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the area — and there are lots of amazing places to eat. I told my kids I could have breakfast or lunch there every day.

What’s your favorite place to shop and why? Do you have a place like Berkeley Bowl that you take guests to see? Are you seeing empty shelves? I haven’t seen any in Berkeley.

Sights and Sounds of Berkeley

Sunrise street view in Berkeley
The view walking from the airbnb to my son’s right before sunrise.

I’m in Berkeley staying a few blocks from my son’s house to take care of him post foot surgery. I hang out in the daytime with him, helping him do the things he can’t do himself.

fall leaves in Berkeley.
I love the color of fall leaves. We don’t see this in the Sonoran Desert.

I cook his oatmeal in the morning, walk to a local coffee shop to get a “pour over” coffee — whatever that is. I refill his water, make sure he’s comfortable and help him with whatever else he needs like hooking him up to his ice machine throughout the day.

His girlfriend and I go for coffee and breakfast for ourselves at a cafe my daughter and Waffles like best. We sit with them outside and chat in the morning sun. My daughter was exposed to COVID twice in the past two weeks. First time after her friend’s funeral, the test was negative. She doesn’t have the test results yet for the second exposure which happened at work. That’s why we meet outside and she sits at a table by herself where we talk and laugh and spend a tiny bit of time together.

Latte from Fellini's.
My latte is delicious and pretty.
Tree decorated with a face.
My son’s girlfriend and I noticed this decorated yard and tree on the way to coffee.

My airbnb is on the border of Oakland about six blocks from my son’s house. The first night, I was woken up to yelling, screaming, slamming doors and other frightening sounds between a man and a woman. The next night at 1 a.m., a car pulled up playing rap music so loud that it shook the bedroom window.

Angel's trumpets
Angel’s trumpets we saw on a morning walk.

The airbnb is spotless, somewhat spartan and has all I need. I’ve only been there in the dark to sleep. I arrive after dark and I leave in the morning before sunrise to walk to my son’s house. I’m left with a kind of creepy feel, since I haven’t been there in the daylight and I’m treated to mysterious sounds of the night. I’m sure broad daylight would erase that vibe.

yarn bombing, love on a stop sign.
I saw yarn bombing for the first time. “Why do they want to stop love?” my son’s girlfriend asked.
Waffles the Pug at a cafe in Berkeley.
Waffles at his favorite cafe. They know him by name and always give him a treat.

Have you been exposed to COVID or tested for COVID? Does it seem to you like more and more people are getting it? When you visit family and friends are you concerned about COVID and are there precautions you take?

On this trip, I wouldn’t have thought about COVID at all except for my daughter’s two recent exposures. Another strange thing was how busy the airport in Phoenix was. Seating was full at gates and groups of people were left standing or sitting on the floor.

Highlights from our weekend in the Bay Area

Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pug at Bettes.
My daughter’s pug Waffles at Bette’s Oceanview Diner. Bette’s is another must.
ping pong table in airbnb
Our amazing airbnb complete with sauna and ping pong table. The ping pong was nonstop with our kids.
airbnb luxe bathroom
My son hanging out in the ridiculous luxe bathroom in the airbnb. I could write a full post about this place.
morning glories in Berkeley
Down the street from the airbnb. Gorgeous neighborhood and morning glories.

Our son found the airbnb for us. It was half the price of a tiny hotel room. I can’t wait to come back. It’s the bottom floor of a two-story house in a gorgeous neighborhood and only one mile from where our kids live.

I haven’t been a fan of the Bay Area. I don’t like the homeless, the damp, the filth that one thinks of when visiting San Francisco. Fortunately, I didn’t see any of that the entire weekend. Only when we’d drive, I’d see the homeless encampments along the freeway and under overpasses. The problems exist, but not where we stayed. I think that’s part of the problem, the people who are in charge aren’t adversely affected and can look the other way.

I do want to go back. The weather, food, the airbnb and of course hanging out with our family was amazing. My view of the Bay Area has changed for the better. I can kind of understand why my kids want to live there.

What places have you visited that you never want to go back? Where are your favorite places to visit?

How long would you wait for pizza? Hint: It’s Cheese Board.

Organic early girl tomato, onion, feta, mozzarella, garlic olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and the cilantro,  jalapeƱo sauce to dip or pour on a slice.

One of the highlights of visiting my kids in Berkeley is pizza at The Cheese Board Collective. This place opened in the Gourmet Ghetto more than 50 years ago and has a line every single day it’s open. It’s incredible. They make one type of pizza per day. Period. You can order one full pie or half a pie. If you want to order ahead — the minimum is eight pies. The staff is cooking as fast as humanly possible, pizza coming in and out of the oven into boxes and out the door. They’re only open for hot-out-of-the-oven pizza from 5 to 8 p.m. Often, they close sooner than 8 p.m. when they run out.

The only issue we had with the visit to Cheese Board this past weekend was my husband. He’s not a stand in line and wait kind of guy. Usually one of my kids will do that and bring the pizza to their apartment, where we’ll devour it. My son’s girlfriend was working, my daughter was also working, so my son suggested we go to the restaurant and eat.

Line around the corner down the street for pizza.
Waiting in line for pizza. Many people in line enjoyed a glass of wine that they brought for their groups.

My son called and said, “Dad’s going to freak. Don’t rush over here.” Cheese Board was located between our airbnb and our son’s apartment, an easy half mile walk for us.

When we arrived, our son was halfway through the three- or four-block line, 25 minutes in. My husband said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”

“Don’t you want to stand and talk to your son?” Our son countered.

So we stood, talked and people watched. It’s quite an experience and the end result is sheer deliciousness.

Line down the street for Cheese Board.
Looking down the street.
Cheese Board, Gourmet Ghetto
They let only a few people in to the register at a time due to COVID. Eating is out in front at a few tables and benches or take out at your own home.
In front of the Cheese Board store.
Turning the corner onto the final block, these people are almost there!
Cheese board outdoor dining.
People sitting and standing outside to eat “at the restaurant.”
Memorial to Cheese Board Founder Elizabeth Valoma.
A memorial to the founder. The Cheese Board is a collective and there are no employees, only owners.
Photo of Elizabeth Valoma.
A photograph of the founder.

I got a call from my daughter on her way home from work. “There’s no pizza left, right?”

How long would you wait in line at a restaurant? How long would you wait for a slice of pizza? Do you have restaurants in your area that have a following like this?

Highlights of My Berkeley Week

I spent the week in Berkeley taking care of my son post surgery and hanging out with my daughter and my son’s girlfriend. I thought I’d have lots of time to write. I had two projects I thought I would make a dent in. Turns out I forgot about them all together. Between driving to the store for dry ice, ice, sweet cherries and walking to a local restaurant for chicken congee, I was out of time.

Hibiscus tree
This caught my eye walking to my son’s apartment.

I assisted my daughter as she replaced my son’s kitchen faucet. Boy, was I impressed she knew how to do that! I helped with laundry, trash and dishes duties. Plus, I helped my son with his sling, ice machine and meds and kept him hydrated and fed.

Pyeong Chang Oakland
A poster of a NY Times write up at the entrance of the best Korean restaurant I’ve ever been to.

The weather was gorgeous. I stayed in a cute airbnb that was one mile and a pretty walk to and from my son’s. I was two blocks from the Gourmet Ghetto, which is a fabulous place to eat. I had kimchee pancakes for the first time and the best Korean food I’ve ever had at Pyeyong Changand the best Thai food at Daughter Thai, both in Oakland.

blue door and chairs at airbnb Berkeley
The entrance to my airbnb.

Twice my son and I attempted to hike Indian Rock. The first time was too soon and he had been off pain meds for 36 hours. That was a painful walk back to his house for him — and me! We made it yesterday and the views were spectacular. But we thought wisely to skip the actual climb up the rock and instead opted for the viewpoint in the park on the ground.

Daughter Thai Oakland
Inside Daughter Thai — gorgeous restaurant and delicious food.

Now I’m sitting in the airport, ready to board my flight home.

Here are some more of my photos from the week:

My son and his girlfriend at Indian Rock Park.
Indian Rock Park Berkeley
View from Indian Rock Park of San Francisco.
Pug sitting for treat.
My daughter giving Waffles his morning treat at a coffee shop on our way to the airport.

Back to Mom duties

Flowers in Berkeley. My daughter took this photo.

I’m on day two of being a mom full time and it’s exhausting. Yesterday was surgery day. We (my son, his girlfriend and me) drove across the Bay Bridge to a UCSF orthopedic surgery center before 8 a.m. We got our son tucked into bed by 3 p.m. In between, my son’s girlfriend and I had a wonderful breakfast and walked around the hills of Mission Bay. Then we drove to Hayes Valley and walked around some more looking at cute shops, the Opera House, San Francisco Ballet and City Hall.

Another one of my daughter’s photos.

I’m loving the cool weather. I’m loving the scenery and spending time with my kids, his girlfriend and siblings.

More Berkeley flowers.

The tiring part was waiting for surgery and feeling relieved but exhausted once it was over and we knew it was a success. I’m staying in an airbnb a mile from my son’s apartment. I walk over carrying a handbag and my computer. I feel like a pack mule on the way back. Yesterday, I logged in more than 26,000 steps. Most of that was the walking around during surgery, but still.

The mom duties include filling the ice cooling machine that wraps my son’s shoulder. Helping him in and out of his sling, buying food. Handing him meds. Helping his girlfriend with dishes and laundry. She’s working as hard as I am. I wondering why it takes two grown women to take care of my son? It’s not really that hard, but just constant every 20 minutes or so. Way more than what I’m used to.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am SO THANKFUL my son wants me here. And that I get to help him! His girlfriend is so wonderful to be with, too. Plus, my daughter and I get to walk Waffles the pug and have time together, as well.

I’m posting pictures of some of the gorgeous flowers I’ve seen on my walks around Berkeley.

Berkeley flowers.