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.

and now my system is complete. My CDs are so much more fun to listen to without having to jiggle the bad connection to get it to work properly.


Not long ago I was looking at a flower bed I had put in many years ago. It’s only a little over a foot and a half deep, and about thirteen feet long, sitting between my front fence and the sidewalk. The flowers are nothing special, and didn’t take too much water to look nice until they would start growing too tall and lean over the sidewalk. Cutting them back would make them look horrible until they’d grow back only to drape over the sidewalk again. I think it was when I started taking frequent walks that I noticed what a pain they were to walk around, and wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a short metal wire fence to run along the sidewalk to keep the flowers from falling over. I wouldn’t need to cut them back as often and it would make the area look neater. Yes, a little thing, but an improvement.


I had earlier discovered Wayfair, a website with all kinds of home improvement stuff. I’d bought a couple of other things from them before. I found something that looked to be what I wanted and took the plunge. As it turned out, it was just the right height, it was easy to assemble, and had the look I wanted. It only took about an hour and a half to install, some of that because I had to move some of the flowers because their roots were in the way.


I just gave the flowers a quick trim. Pretty easy, and not as ugly, but getting them off the sidewalk in a more upright position is the real triumph. It was a little project, easy, but somehow satisfying. Things that work generally are.

The Little Things

I became a homeowner in 1977, the year my mother died and I inherited the house we were living in. The biggest challenge then was taking my mother’s house and making it mine. I had three years to do it but never fully succeeded. There were certain little things that I never would have done to the house that I simply didn’t think to undo. Wallpaper I didn’t like. Furniture I didn’t need. More yard than I wanted to keep up.


For a time, I thought I’d prefer selling the house and renting an apartment. Friends said I’d be crazy to do that. A house was such a great investment. After looking at a few apartments and what they cost, I decided my friends were right. But I really didn’t think I’d be in that house for long, and unless you think 3-1/2 years long, I was right. The auto industry for which I was working, went into a downward spiral and I laid Chrysler off before they laid me off. In mid-1980 I was off to the west coast.


My first assignment for PG&E was in Salinas, famous for lettuce and a line from the song “Me and Bobby McGee.” I figured I’d be transferred to the main office in San Francisco within about 2 to 2-1/2 years, so I looked for a house that wouldn’t suck up a bunch of time and money, and would retain its value. I had carpeting put in the living room, planted grass in a small part of the yard, had a retaining wall fixed, repainted the exterior, and that was really about it. Sure enough, I was called to S.F. in a mere 15 months. I managed to sell my house in Salinas at a substantial (and unexpected) profit having done surprisingly little to it other than the things I knew going in that I wanted done. The new grass was easy, and the painting was therapeutic. The wall and the carpet were done by others.


Then I moved to my current home in the booming metropolis of Kensington. It was love at first sight, and I’ve really enjoyed it. But when I look at it, it’s been lots of work. A fireplace rebuilt, rebuilding the back deck three times, painting or having others paint several times, trees removed, having the garage rebuilt. The roof had to be redone. I changed the front roofline then realized I hated the result and had it changed again. The fence had to be redone in part or the whole thing on numerous occasions. And on. And on. And on.


I’ve decided that a home can never be perfect. The big things can be daunting. Sometimes little things can be too. I recently talked about the problems I’d been having with my CD player which, though now obsolete, served me perfectly until it went bad and couldn’t be fixed. I finally found a used one on the internet, rolled the dice,

Last Update: March 7, 2022

The John Shinnick Web Site

Can't really see the fence, but the improvement from before its installation is clear. The sidewalk is happy!