Oaks have now surpassed the sweetgum to claim the #1 spot on my list of Trees I Never Want to Have Again. Yes, they have their good points: they are majestic, long-lived, and provide food for wildlife as well as fabulous home furnishings. But they do not belong in suburban neighborhoods (by suburban I mean areas like ours where the typical property size ranges from ¼ to ½ acre). Aside from the barrage of acorns which do a marvelous job of plugging up gutters and aggravating lawnmowers, and the dark stains on driveways and walkways from tannin-loaded leaves, there’s the massive pollen load. Now that the fusillade is finished, it’s time for all those strings of spent male oak flowers to drop. And drop. And drop. Everywhere. (Funny, I don’t remember installing a brown driveway…)

I got my car washed last Friday and revelled in three glorious days of automotive cleanliness – until Monday morning when my eyes were met by a vehicle that would have looked right at home in Miss Havisham’s dining room. I grabbed my battery-operated leaf blower because this was waay beyond the scope of brushing-off-with-hands. Next, the driveway. By the time I was halfway down its 45-foot length I could have stuffed a couch cushion with the collected mass of oak ‘strings’ clumped together like some huge mutant tribble. (I chose to not look at how much of it was covering the planting beds.)

Irritating Inchworms

Going to the mailbox is now an adventure because it involves running the gauntlet through the bungee-jumping event of the 2015 Inchworm Olympics. These small caterpillars – often called “inchworms” – wear two opposing team jerseys: a solid light green and a black/brown striped. They hang on thin sticky threads from every decent-sized deciduous tree on the property (which are mostly oaks, of course). According to Google these are the caterpillars of a geometrid moth. They are quite athletic; I watched one traverse the length of my mailbox in less than 30 seconds (their backs are in far better shape than mine) and then had to knock several of them off the mail that was inside the mailbox.

The inchworms, like the oak strings, are everywhere. I’m learning to thoroughly brush my clothing off before coming back indoors because otherwise at least a half dozen of them will hitch a ride inside and I would not particularly fancy finding one doing sprints on my pillow one fine morning.

The other day I forgot to de-caterpillar myself before getting into the car and I was “rather startled” (to put it mildly) when suddenly one dropped from my hat brim onto the front of my glasses. This is definitely not a Nice Surprise when one is traveling at 50mph, and my reflexive shriek was a good demonstration of my car’s interior acoustics. It’s amazing how LARGE such a tiny creature can appear under those circumstances!

The Haunted Handshower

My most recent skirmish with the Money Pit involves the Haunted Handshower. In the one functional bathroom there is a small corner shower. It turns out that this bathroom had been installed for the former owners by the Guy Next Door – always a bad sign – and apparantly none of these geniuses internalized the fact that a showerhead should not be installed in a location that aims toward the only opening through which a person can enter the shower. When I bought the house I never intended to use this shower because there was a perfectly good tub/shower combo in the main bathroom; yes, that would be the bathroom that has been gutted to the studs for a year now, as a result of a hidden leak and resulting mold, combined with lack of funds to restore same. So now I am stuck with using the corner shower until the other bathroom can be done which was supposed to have been done in February but because of the Winter From Hell… oh never mind, LOL.

Anyway, this is the showerhead/handshower which most of the time sits in its holder as it is supposed to do:
handshower AHowever, starting about two months ago it decided to randomly attack me for no discernable reason. I kid you not. I would place the handshower securely in the holder (normally I remove it only for hair washing) and it would from time to time unaccountably fall off, thereby striking me on my head, shoulder or foot if I happened to be still in the shower, but almost always just after I’d turned off the shower water. I say a Bad Word, glare at it, and replace it FIRMLY in its holder. It then stays put… most of the time. Mind you, this thing never comes out of the holder when I’m looking at it (this is the Watched Pot Never Boils Theorem in action). But there’s a 50/50 chance that within five minutes or so after the shower water is turned off there will be a loud *bang* which is the sound of the handshower crashing onto the shower floor. As a result of Sunday night’s crash, the back part of the handshower popped off when the impact broke an internal plastic clip on the back cover – hence the stylish rubber band.

Believe me, I have tried every method to figure out what is causing this thing to randomly jump off the holder. I have held it upside down for a full minute after turning off the water, to make sure there is absolutely no water left in either the hose or the showerhead, every single time. I’ve checked and doublechecked that it’s placed all the way snugly into the holder, every single time. The only thing I can think of is that maybe there’s some weird backpressure coming from the plumbing system now and again, but not every time, after the water is turned off… well, either that or the thing is haunted.

The other night it waited for at least fifteen minutes before doing its jump-off-the-cliff act which happened to occur as I was starting to fall asleep. Trust me, a loud BANG! heard in a dark house at almost 1 a.m. is not conducive to relaxation. I was 95% sure that it was the **** handshower again, but of course had to get up and check to make sure… just in case. After doing so, I informed the handshower that it could, if it liked, perform an act that would be a biological impossibility were it a living creature, followed by the statement that This Is War (although the Money Pit and I have obviously already attained that status quite some time ago).

Because there is no way to reconfigure the showerhead position without ripping open tiled walls, I resorted to creative trickery. Clearly the handshower is going to continue to leap off its holder to harass me, so the answer is simply to not put it onto the holder after turning off the shower. It’s too heavy for any suction-cup holder, and those don’t stick well to acrylic shower walls anyhow, so there must be a way to hang it on something else. And the answer proved to be…

handshower B

… a $3.00 clear plastic wreath hanger intended for use on doors. Because the top of the shower is tubular, I flipped it over from the ‘normal’ position to the curved end, and looped the handshower around the longer, rectangular part. This is a bit of a PITA because it means I have to replace the handshower on the upper holder before turning the water on for each shower – otherwise it acts like a hyperactive garden hose – but so far, so good and this relocation seems to have solved the problem.

Unless, of course, it’s haunted.