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.)
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:
However, 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…
… 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.
It might be the weight of the shower head causing it to fall out of its haunted– eh, I mean holder. As for the Guy next door starting their own plumbing and bathroom decoration, I live in a much MORE terrible situation. They didn’t even install a real shower surround. Whoever lived in my tiny money pit decided they would slap on some fake sheets of 80’s gray plastic simulated tile and leave gaps between the shower head and faucet. So all that beautiful hard water runs between the walls, and I’m scared to death to see how much damage was done due to their ineptitude with measurements and calculations. Also, underneath that is textured paint walls and a bath tub that is rusting so bad (a portion of it slants to the exterior wall in one corner) that I fear I’ll go down with it when it finally crumbles like an egg shell. (Yep, it’s that brittle already)…. ugh! The hardships of living in a small money pit. My mom and I were going to fix it, but the overall cost was more than $800 just for a new bath tub and shower surround alone. Needless to say, I had to place white duct tape over the rusted out areas and we’ll likely be selling the money pit… I mean, house in “As-IS” condition.
One thing I dislike “tinkerers” and inept shoddy craftsmen that just ‘slap it together’ in one day and don’t think that their ‘work’ could cause potential damage and harm to the next home owner that moves in. And there’s nothing funny about a haunted shower head popping off and striking you at random when you least expect it either. Although my shower head is new and installed properly, It will spray water in that one weak corner and it just pools and collects. I always mop up the excess water every time, but know my doing so is likely all for naught. My bath tub will still rust and fall apart. Another thing I hate: druggies thinking they could do all the work themselves and the landlord approving of it! At least druggies lived in the tiny money pit years ago before I came along… that’s a nightmare and a possible reality TV show idea, yikes!
Loved your post Chatsworth Lady, 🙂 especially about tree poop too. I was nailed coming home one evening on foot… gross.
I’ve always wondered whether the true meaning of the acronym DIY isn’t actually Disaster In (future) Years! LOL Not always, of course … there are actually people who do know what they’re about … but in my experience every corner-cutting job by the previous owners end up having to be redone sooner rather than later. Not that I haven’t seen some really shoddy work done by the so-called professionals too!
Love it! 🙂 I I will have to write that down. I hear you on that. However, mine are usually dealt with at the verge of collapse simply because the problem was ignored by the previous renters (or they tried to do it themselves in most cases).
I would say definitely haunted, or the inch worms ganging up on you?
Nothing would surprise me at this point! 😉
I understand your irritation, but please don’t harm that oak! As you stated, they are excellent for birds and bugs. I do envy the flexibility of those inchworms. Do you think they practice yoga?
Oh, I can’t afford to remove any additional trees; when I bought the house I had to have 4 oaks cut down and I was lucky to get that job done for only $2000. One of the oaks was half dead and would have taken down all the utility (electric/phone/cable) lines running from street pole to house along with it; the other three were literally right next to the house and I could not obtain homeowners insurance if I hadn’t removed them. Ever since Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy the insurance companies have become very stringent in their requirements for issuing new-customer policies and the presence of big trees close to a house is now a problem.
Even with those four oaks gone, there are still EIGHT huge ones still on the property — this is only a half acre! — plus five on my neighbor’s side of the shared property line.The house across the street has five oaks along the street side and several more in the back.
My “never have again” comment was directed toward my next house purchase, meaning that I would not buy a house that had oaks already on it (or had more than what I could afford to remove, which at this point would probably be just one, LOL) or in a neighborhood like this one that has oaks everywhere.
I feel bad for finding this post so entertaining. I’ll apologize for laughing at your showerhead, but half the laugh is a memory of a shower head which used to do the same thing. It would wait until you turned the water on and was still cold, then it would drop down and make sure to give you a nice chillingly cold dose of face-spray on the way down.
… and my brother actually did stuff a pillow with oak droppings. Said it was like sleeping outdoors.
Oh stupid youth.
Sounds like a service niche might exist for Ghostbusters Plumbing, Inc.! 😉
Any time your brother wants to replace the stuffing in his upholstered furniture cushions with oak droppings, just send him on over here LOL
Such travails you have to endure – but your writing is witty, and fun. Good luck with these problems.