Plant a Garden

On one of my walks this week, I went by a house with a sign in the front yard that really caught my eye:

In case the lettering is too small to read, the sign says “Turn off the news and plant a garden.”

This is certainly a sentiment that I can agree with. Not that we should put our heads in the sand and ignore all of the news, of course, but I know that I seem to be happier when I limit my news consumption. I do a fairly quick skim through a couple of (what I consider to be) reputable news sources in the morning, and then for the most part ignore the news for the rest of the day. If something happens that I need to know about, I’ll learn about it the next morning, which is generally good enough for me. I figure that if something really monumental happens that I need to know about sooner, it’ll likely filter its way to me via some mechanism (a friend sending me an email, for instance) or I’ll get an alert on my phone. In the meantime, I’ll be out doing something productive: walking for my blog, working in my workshop, reading a good book, or, yes, helping in the garden (which is mostly my wife’s domain; I primarily work there at her direction, which is an arrangement that works well for both of us).

With the holidays coming up, there is a lot to take our minds off some of the things that might otherwise worry us. We got our tree this week from the Honey Bear Trees lot on El Camino Real in San Carlos; that’s the closest tree lot to our house. But I walked down Woodside Road this week, and noted that Honey Bear Trees has a really good lot at 955 Woodside Rd.:

They have some really large trees on this lot; if you celebrate the holiday season with a tree and are in the market for a live one, consider checking this place out. Oh, and don’t wait too long: one of the depressing things that I have heard in the news is that there are fewer trees for sale this year, so the lots may run out sooner than you might expect.

Also note that this may be the last year for Honey Bear Trees at this location, since both the space they use for their tree sales, and the small building to the right that is now empty but previously was a veterinary hospital, are slated to be cleared and redeveloped as an eight-unit for-sale townhouse development (this project was approved by the Redwood City Planning Commission on September 7, 2021; I wrote a description of the project back in March, at the end of my post From a Great Height). Exactly when this project will get underway, I don’t know: although the project was approved, so far there appears to be no record of a building permit having been applied for (much less granted). However, the fact that Compass Realty has constructed a website to sell the townhouses tells me that this project will be going forward just as soon as it can.

Prior to getting our tree, I had to empty out the back of our truck (we have an old Ford Ranger pickup that we use for runs to the lumberyard, to the garden center, and to the transfer station — and that we lend to friends for similar tasks). We have a fiberglass shell on the truck, and the storage space that makes is just too good to go to wasted. It has turned into the place where I toss Styrofoam™; once we’ve accumulated enough, we make a trip to Recology’s San Francisco Transfer Station in Brisbane, where they accept, at no charge, clean #6 Styrofoam for recycling. I had accumulated a fair amount (more than I’d like, but I can’t seem to entirely avoid the stuff) over the last year or so, and needed to dump it prior to picking up the tree. Thus, my wife and I went up there on Monday and put it all into the bins dedicated to that purpose. At the Brisbane transfer station, they have a machine that shreds the Styrofoam and then compacts it into large blocks, which they then send off to be turned into something useful. Although the machine wasn’t running when we visited this week, I took the following picture showing part of the machine and some of the large Styrofoam blocks that they’ve produced:

It is a bit of a trek, but I think it’s worth it not to be tossing this stuff into our landfills. While I hope that someone catches most of what is disposed by those who put Styrofoam into their trash cans (or recycle bins — you aren’t supposed to put Styrofoam into your blue bin), I don’t trust them to do so, and know that if I make the effort to take it to Brisbane, it’ll be property recycled.

Now that the tree is in our house (and the lights are on it), this weekend I’ll install the four strings of outdoor lights that we use to line the eaves along the street side of the house. Our display is simple, unlike some others, who love to go all out. I’m looking forward to seeing the displays this year, and hope to get over to Dewey Street (in Redwood City) and Eucalyptus Avenue (in San Carlos) where they regularly become a “Candy Cane Lane” of sorts during the holiday season. But outside of those streets, there are many, many other individual homes scattered throughout the Peninsula that will be decorated to an award-winning degree. And if yours is one of those, and is in Redwood City, be aware that the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Services department is once again running its annual Holly Jolly Home Decorating Contest: you can win prizes for your well-decorated home. First, second, and third place awards will be given to the “blingiest” homes (with the most/best lights); the homes that best exemplify the spirit of the season; and the ones with the best/most inflatable decorations. Finally, one home will be deemed the “Judge’s Favorite.”

According to the city’s website, “the Prize Bounty includes festive goodies and gift certificates from local businesses AND awesome yard signs to proudly display in front of your homes (bragging rights included, of course).” Judging will take place on December 20 and 21; the deadline to entry is Sunday, December 19. But don’t wait if you plan to enter: they are only accepting the first 50 entries (more than that would be too difficult to judge, I suppose). Oh, and I presume that the judging will take place in the evening, when the displays are best viewed. I would hate for a home like this to miss out…:

Homes are not the only things being decorated, of course. Downtown Redwood City is starting to show signs of the season. On Friday morning I watched a crew decorating some of the downtown lampposts:

I’m a little jealous that they are able to use a cherry picker to decorate; I don’t have such luxuries when decorating my own house. Ah, well.

I have to give thanks to the RCIA (Redwood City Improvement Association) for some or all of these decorations. In particular, this year they are responsible for this giant light-up ornament in Courthouse Square:

As you may be able to tell, you can stand in the middle of it — it’s that big — and have someone take your picture. Excellent for those of you who like to post pictures like this to the internet.

If you haven’t seen RCIA’s ornament in person, a great time to check it out would be on Saturday, December 4: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the Redwood City Downtown Business Group will be throwing Hometown Holidays, “a party to celebrate the holiday season, RAIN OR SHINE! Guests can enjoy a parade [at 4:30 p.m.], live entertainment, carnival rides, SNOW, Santa Claus photos, and more!” This is a free, family-friendly event, that includes a parade, play areas with snow for the kids, live entertainments, photos with Santa, carnival rides [for a cost], food and craft vendors [also for a cost, of course], and, at 5:45 p.m., the city’s annual lighting of the huge trees on the corner of Hamilton and Broadway. As well, there will be a handbell group performing holiday music inside (I believe; I guess they could be outside) the San Mateo County History Museum (which of course is inside the historic courthouse on Courthouse Square) from 1 – 2 p.m. on that same day. This concert is also free, incidentally.

Not everything is about the current and upcoming holidays, of course. As I noted, I took a walk up Woodside Road this week; I wanted to check on the status of the Hallmark House Apartments building, which was hoping to be open in the “fall of 2021” but now will apparently be completed by January 2022. I do have to wonder if they’ll be ready for move-ins before the end of this year, though: when I was there on Wednesday the landscapers were hard at work installing soil, trees, and plants around the second-floor outdoor sitting area, and the building itself, from outward appearances seems done:

I hope that the building’s 72 one-bedroom apartments, all of which are reserved for low-income residents, are as nice as the outside (they look good based on the pictures on the website, and they have some nice amenities, including air conditioning). The developer certainly did a nice job of rehabilitating this building, which has been uninhabitable since late 2013, when a fire rendered the building uninhabitable. For much of the time since then, the building has looked like this (I took the following photo eight years ago, in December of 2013):

I would have thought that all of the apartments in this building would already be leased, but there is a banner on the railing along that second-floor outdoor area stating that the building is now leasing, so perhaps not. Interested parties should either call (650) 365-2887, or head to the building’s website, at www.HallmarkHouseApartments.com.

Just down the street I looked in on the 10-unit condominium building being constructed at 910 Woodside Rd., which is where Thaibodia restaurant previously stood:

Nothing earth-shattering to report here; just steady progress. I do find this building’s garage to be interesting, though:

Notice how each unit has its own two-car garage. From the plans it appears that each of these garages will have its own door, in addition to the one that will close off access from the street to all vehicles except those that belong to the residents. This makes sense since in addition to the space for two cars, on this level each unit will have some amount of living space (either a bedroom/bathroom, or a family room and entry, or a combined family room/entry, depending upon the individual unit), plus a trash closet and a storage closet; internal garage doors will provide extra security for these private spaces.

Still farther along Woodside Road, I looked in on the office building being constructed at the corner of Woodside Road and Massachusetts Avenue, at 1390 Woodside Rd.:

Since I last visited there has not been a great deal of visible progress, but work was ongoing when I was there, so I know that progress is indeed being made. Note that although this is technically to be a two-story office building, in truth almost all of the ground floor space will be used for parking. Only the building’s lobby and some utility spaces — at total of 750 square feet — will be located at ground level, whereas the second floor will contain 11,250 square feet of offices.

That’s about it for this week’s post. Now that you’ve caught up on the latest in Redwood City, how about getting outside and doing some gardening?


The city just put out a new survey for its Transit District redevelopment project. The more of us they hear from, the better for the design. Thus, I strongly encourage each and every one of you to spend the five to ten minutes it takes to take the survey (you’ll find it here). The survey hints at a very interesting possible design for our new train/bus station; for that reason alone you might want to take the survey. In any case, for those wanting to know more, you’ll find background information on the project here.