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Shin the Homeowner (Prior)

Yeah, I own a house in the San Francisco Bay area.  I just missed the anniversary of the date I purchased it, Nov. 1, 1981, and I hope it isn't too upset with me.  Perhaps having a section of my website dedicated to this fine bit of paradise will make it feel better. Probably not as much as if I cleaned it up real nice, but it's a start.  

This section has grown to include the house, the yard, the garage, the car and environs.

Last Update: June 6, 2024

The John Shinnick Web Site

Back to the back. Yard that is. In yesterday’s round of weeding in which I started doing some serious cutting back of the dead shrub branches, I noticed that the bees were back. Despite their sorry state, bees still like my shrubs. Given their struggles over the last few years, not to mention my recent tolerance of them (even affection) it would be a shame to deprive them of the little bit of habitat I provide. Yeah, I’ll keep it going for another year or two. It’s a shame that I simply didn’t get along with the people who did my sidewalk better. There was so much more work they might have done for me.


As the photo suggests, I don’t have too much remaining of the weeds, but the paring back of the shrubs is somewhat new turf for me. Once the dead stuff is gone, I’ll likely want to cut back the remainder perhaps to half their current size. In the past, when I wanted to reduce them, I’d just use a hedge trimmer and lop off perhaps a foot or so. This time they likely need more, but I don’t want to go too far.


An apartment looks better all the time.

The Annual Battle Begins


We’re heading into June, and it’s once again time for my annual battle. My battle with weeds. We actually have had a relatively wet winter and had rain well into May. The result is a crop that just won’t quit, especially in back where thankfully, the Citizens for a Beautiful Kensington can’t see them. Tragically, they ‘re doing better than the five shrubs, three of which have more dead branches than alive. I meant to pare them back last year but never got around to it.


Many of the weeds are now over a foot tall. Fortunately, these tall ones generally pull rather easily, but the dead branches of the shrubs make it hard to get to them. So, the two projects have become one. I think I’m about four hours from being done with this phase of weeding. But then I’ll have to do what I’ve referred to as “stone weeding” that is, pulling the weeds from an area of about 200 square feet or more which is covered in stones. This weeding is very hard on my fingers.


I’m finding that this year I have new impediments to this annual project. My knees and my back simply don’t like it. My right knee is the one that I hurt earlier this year. The good news is that it’s now about as good as my left knee. The bad news is that my left knee seems to have regressed. I need to limit myself to fewer and fewer hours a day doing the chore. 


Further, I look at the increasingly barren shrubs and realize that I can bring them back to life with some care and (here it comes…) watering. I simply feel guilty watering plants. Despite a fairly wet winter, the drought is still a fixture here in California, and I would rather be part of the solution than part of the problem. Running artificial turf across my entire back yard from the garage through the end of the stones, is making more and more sense to me. Maybe break them up by adding some more stone carvings like “High Five” (read my story about High Five in my writing section).


For now, I’m just going to complete the current project, hoping my body holds together. I have other projects that compete financially with this artificial turfing. Like my bathroom. By the way, a quick follow-up on my last article covering my other projects, replacing my tub with a shower would indeed be favored by realtors. I’d likely do this as part of an overall remodel which is long overdue anyway.

Weeds below, dead branches above - My poor back yard needs some serious love.

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