1-24  The First Twenty-Four
25-48  The Second Twenty-Four
49-72  The Third Twenty-Four
73-96  The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120  The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-144  The Sixth Twenty-Four
145-168  The Seventh Twenty-Four
169-on  The Eighth Twenty-Four

49  Pure Michigan
50  Ah, Youth
51  Unlikely Friend
52  Golfballogy
54  Before/After Squared
55  Hawaiiana 1
56  Hawaiiana 2
57  Hawaiiana 3
58  A New Outlook
59  Hawaiiana 4
60  Crash Dummy
61  Dogs, Boards, Kids...
62  Photographic Treasures
63  Hawaiiana 5
64  My Comb is Crooked
65  Call Me A Doctor
66  Hawaiiana 6
67  Home for Christmas
68  Led By Words
69  Pono Bowls
70  Poppy Tour
71  An Invitation
72  Wunderkammer I




She was a newly divorced lady with apparently little interest in housework.  An uncontrolled teenage son lived with her.  She was anxious to get out from under the mortgage, taxes and upkeep of this house in the San Fernando Valley.  The house was definitely a fixer-upper, needing paint and repairs.  The yard was unkempt.  The filter in the 20x40 pool had failed and the water was black with algae.

So, what would attract us to such a spectacle?  Three bedrooms, three baths, a large family room, all on a half-acre lot, only slightly overpriced.  Located in a nice suburban area with schools, shopping, and freeway access nearby.  The required repairs?  We considered them a challenge that could be met with minimal time and money.

We made an offer that required the seller to install a new pool filter, deal with algae removal, and close quickly.  The offer was accepted.  We had been living in a motel with our son JR for several weeks and we were anxious to get into something larger.  So we moved in to a nearly vacant house and slept on the floor.

Most of our belongings were on a ship bobbing up and down off the coast of California.  They had arrived from Bangkok, but a dock worker strike prevented them from being unloaded.  We had put a few things in storage when we went to Bangkok more than two years ago, but most of our stuff went with us.

We retrieved our stuff from local storage.  It included a Hide-a-bed so we could get off the floor.  We had purchased a new crib for JR but otherwise made do with what we had.  It was convenient to have the place mostly empty so we could start the cleaning and repairing.  Eventually the strike ended and we took delivery of our stuff.

The company I worked for had a new contract in Virginia but not much going on in California, so after snooping around a bit there, I was terminated.  We had done well financially in Bangkok, so we decided that I would spend a few weeks working on the house before accepting a new job.  The house could really use the attention.

I did renew acquaintance with the poker gang I had been with before the trip, and surprisingly had three interviews set up by friends.  Even more surprisingly, that resulted in three offers, all anxious to get started.  So, we put off the house repairs and I went back to work.  We can always do repairs on weekends, holidays and vacations, right?

Preview:  There are not enough weekends, holidays and vacations in a lifetime to catch up with a genuine fixer-upper!


Tarzana house flat roof

^^^1971 I leveled the flat roof and added insulating board and then hired roofers

1980 With help from brother Bud, we put new cedar shingles on the peaked roof >>>

Pono, Bud, JR and Stuart



Here is the list of the major projects that had to be done:

o          paint everything inside and out

o          insulate attic and under flat roof of original house

o          fill low spot in flat roof and lay insulation board

o          re-roof house, pool house and pump house

o          replace some deck around pool

o          add some wooden side fence

o          insulate pool house

o          move door in laundry room

o          build pantry

o          build additional cabinets in kitchen

o          replace both water heaters

o          rewire for convenience

o          build play house

o          build 4x8 table for pool house


These were the ongoing tasks.  We had a gardener for regular maintenance, but these were considered outside of his responsibility.

o          trim trees, bushes, bamboo

o          clear needles and leaves from roof

o          maintain irrigation system

o          and of course, clean pool


Front of Tarzana house

Some of the house fixing up was done

Back yard of Tarzana house

Some pool and yard work was done

Some things were just too big for us to handle, so we hired or contracted help.

o          gardener

o          pool guy (for a while)

o          house cleaners

o          floor and cabinet tile in kitchen

o          floor and shower tile in baths

o          add covered patio in back

o          shoot the family room ceiling

o          run gas to pool house, add heater

o          refinish oak floors

o          carpet family room

o          make enclosed den/bedroom out of living room

o          re-pipe water system with copper (actually son JR did this work)

o          fence and gate street front

o          replace irrigation system


We put in 20 years on our project but never really achieved AFTER.  When Clae and I finally separated, it made little sense for me to keep the house since I was spending the work week away from home anyway.  Clae wanted to stay so thats the way we structured the settlement.  I had very mixed feelings.  I had put so many hours and so much effort into the house that it was almost a part of me.  On the other hand there were ongoing issues with it and things like the pool were a constant struggle.  However, nature has a way of dealing with these mixed feelings.

On January 17, 1994, at 04:31 in the morning, I woke up in my motel in Orange County.  Everything in the building was rocking.  I knew it was bad, but of course had no idea where the epicenter was.  I soon learned Northridge was the center of a massive 6.7 magnitude quake!  Northridge is quite near to our house in San Fernando Valley.  From work I called Clae.  The house was devastated.  JR just happened to be home so he was able to help Clae and the neighbors to secure their houses.  Everyone in our neighborhood was OK, but the houses were ripped apart.  I saw our house one last time soon after the quake and cried my eyes out.  All the work, all the plans, all the hopes and dreams and nothing much left but piles of trash.  Right back to BEFORE.



Kitchen after earthquake

Family room after earthquake



Kitchen was gutted

Family room was gutted


Pool after earthquake

House and belongings after earthquake



Pool was cracked, decks and fences gone

Plaster board, tile, dishes became trash


Fireplace survived but ...

... couldn't be saved



Fireplace didn't fall

but could not be saved


Fortunately, just a few years before the quake we had signed up for earthquake insurance.  That and a FEMA grant helped, but the damage was extensive and well exceeded our coverage.  Clae and I split the additional costs and Clae managed the reconstruction.  Ive seen pictures, but I never set foot in the new AFTER again.  Clae sold a while later.  Im not sure, but from Google Earth I think the original house has been razed and a new house replaced it.