I wanted a shower head like my sister, Miss Priss, has in her basement bathroom. Being the odd relative, I am never allowed to stay on the main floor. I don’t mind being hidden away in the basement because I really like that shower head. It’s one of those fancy jobs with a hose wand that can be lifted out of the bracket.

Having suffered yet another birthday in late November, I was able to justify the purchase as a birthday present to myself. I further justified a new drain thingie and a new tub spigot because everything was 25 years old. Other than rust and an appalling lack of water efficiency, all of these parts worked fine. Except the drain but my plumber friend who came out to install all of these parts solved the drain problem to my everlasting joy.

Five days into playing with my new hose wand, I heard an ominous C-R-A-C-K. This was followed by water spewing from the area of the fitting where the new shower head attached to the shower arm. I won’t go into any details here because I had soap all over my body and the language wasn’t pretty. Suffice it to say that I wondered why I had messed with perfectly good parts. After I mopped and corralled the water, I got up on the edge of the tub to inspect my new Aqua Source shower head. It had split across the middle of the PLASTIC fitting. Made in China. Why is everything plastic and made in China?

shower head-5963
Can you believe this?


I took the offending shower head with hose wand back to Lowes for a refund. Returning to the plumbing department, I was tempted to sit in the aisle as I opened all their boxes of shower heads trying to find one that did not have plastic fittings. I decided against drawing that kind of attention to myself. Ultimately, I chose a Moen without the hose wand just in case the weight of the wand caused the fitting to crack. The Moen looked and felt like the fitting might be metal but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure. It’s a cinch the packaging never says a thing about fittings. It apparently does not occur to the manufacturers that it just might matter to us.

I did not want to ask my plumber friend to drive all the way from the beach just to install a shower head, so I decided that maybe I could install the thing. The instructions were very straightforward:

  • Remove existing shower head (I had already done this in order to return the cracked piece of crap to Lowes).
  • Hand tighten shower head to shower arm but do not over-tighten.

Additionally, it said thread tape was not recommended and thread tape has always been a source of major stress to me. Hand tightening sounded like it was within the realm of my skill set. No tools or genius involved.

However, just thinking about the installation caused me endless anxiety. It locked up my shoulders bad enough that I had to scurry off to my chiropractor. It took THREE days to work up the nerve to attempt the installation. Pathetic.

The hardest part of the installation was removing all that thread tape. I had to pick at it with an Xacto knife. The best part? The fitting didn’t leak after hand tightening. The worst part? It didn’t extend far enough from the shower wall. I had to shower inside my soap caddy. I tried to adjust it but it wouldn’t budge so I called on Poppie the next day. It took two hands but he fixed it. What a disgusting amount of drama just to get rid of rust and conserve a little water.


You’ve seen those tiny warnings on prescription bottles: “may cause drowsiness, “do not operate machinery.” I never particularly thought of them as common sense warnings for life — “if drowsy, do not operate machinery.”  Sigh. Momma always claimed I never had a lick of common sense and she’s probably shakin’ her head all the way up there in Heaven.

It started with two days of unseasonably warm weather in the 80’s. I got out there to do a little weeding in the vegetable garden as best I could with my crippled-up back. It took me two days to weed one and half rows, 28 feet in length, because every time I bent over, I couldn’t get back up. On one of those days, I ran some errands afterwards. I know I shouldn’t do things like this, but sometimes I do it anyway.

Around 4:00, I began to cook dinner for Poppie. Mind you, my fatigued muscles had not been restored by any sort of prolonged prone position or a nap. Not a good idea when you have chronic pain from an injury. So what does Ms. Fumble Fingers do? She dropped the manual, hand-crank can opener on the floor.

This is Exhibit A
This is Exhibit A

The handles might be fake stainless steel, for all I know, but the business end has some serious heft. I picked it up and set it on the counter to check later in case the fall warped the blade mechanism.

At dinner, I told Poppie I was so tired I felt a nap-before-bed coming on. I went home, looked at the messy kitchen and that can opener. I picked up the can opener to check the blade and it immediately plummeted to the floor, blade down. It landed on my left foot and almost cut off my pinkie toe.

I hope I don’t offend you with my ugly foot but I offer this photo as proof of my wounds.

This is Exhibit B
This is Exhibit B

I solicited sympathy by email and my sister, Miss Priss, who knows that things happen to me, had this to offer: “How big is your can opener that the blade would be LARGE enough to cut off your toe? That must be some kind of can opener!” Clearly, sympathy will NOT be forthcoming from the family so it would be helpful to me if some of you would also admit to doing stoopit stuff.

Best of Intentions

I had four days of work come up for the week of December 31st and intended to use New Year’s Day to get my blog ready for the New Year and post something humorous. Alas, my mother, who has been ill for two years, passed into God’s Kingdom New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. and I just haven’t been in a frame of mind to blog. Give me a few days for my sense of humor to return.


Thanks to all who sent me public and private messages of condolence here at the Southern Rural Route.

Momma’s memorial was held on January 9, 2013, at 11:00 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. My sister gave a wonderful, humorous eulogy and Rev. Dr. Timothy Roberts was equally upbeat.

Evie and her employer sent me two Meyer Lemon trees for Momma’s Memorial Citrus Grove.

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Patch of Pine Cone Ginger at the edge of the woods
Photographed 11/12/2012


Same patch on 9/19/2017


This tropical-looking plant is a Pine Cone Ginger or Shampoo Ginger (zingiber zerumbet) with a baby pine cone ginger in the background. It is native to southeast Asia but has spread around the world in tropical and subtropical climates.  An easy to grow member of the ginger family, it is hardy from USDA Zones 8 to 11 but sometimes grows as far north as 7b. It likes heat and humidity but prefers filtered shade to look green and healthy like you see here.

In late summer, green bracts shaped like a pine cone emerge from the ground on slightly shorter stalks. In Hawaii, its common name is “Awapuhi.”

Cream-colored flowers with a spicy aroma bloom from the bracts.

In late September, the pine cone ripens to red.

In Asia and Hawaii, it is used as a shampoo and is sometimes found in commercial shampoos. Remove the cone from the plant after it ripens to red. Gently squeeze the thick, sudsy juice into your wet hair as a softening rinse or shampoo. You’ll notice a ginger scent. You can rinse it out or leave it in. You can also use it to massage the skin.

When I was taking the photograph of the baby pine cone ginger, I had another one of those adventures that was not on my agenda. First, I had a long walk just to get to the woods. I live on acreage, remember? The gingers were in the woods because I got tired of them spreading in my flower beds. The pine cone ginger is not invasive but its rhizomes do spread and the plants take up a lot of room in the flower bed. In my opinion, the leaves grow every which-a-way in an unattractive manner necessitating their banishment from my flower beds. In the woods, they get less sun and they don’t spread as much.

I eased my aging hulk down on one knee so that I could photograph the baby pine cone and my shutter button refused to budge. I’ve been having some problems along those lines so this was nothing new but when it would not fire time after time, well, that was new. I turned the camera on and off more than once and one of those times I caught the flash of a message in the screen on the back of the camera. No CF card. Sigh. My friends are right. I’m S.O.S., stuck on stupid. The CF card was still in the computer.

 Ordinarily he was insane,

But he had lucid moments

When he was merely stupid.

— Heinrich Heine, German critic/poet

This necessitated heaving my hulking body back to a standing position and walking back in the miserable heat (Yes, Virginia, we’ve had a warming trend) to retrieve the card. Then walking back, yet again, to get down on one knee. Was it worth it? 

Weeds In My Paradise

Florida Betony and Dollarweed

The weeds found my plot of paradise, long ago, without benefit of the bug’s air traffic controller.

Stachys floridana was the most annoying for many years. It is also known as Florida Betony or Rattlesnake Weed because of underground tubers resembling the tail of a rattlesnake. Assuming, of course, the rattlesnakes in your neck of the woods are albino because the tuber is white. A member of the mint family, it is an invasive, year-round nuisance that really takes over in the winter. Not just the flower beds, mind you, but the lawn, the veggie plot, every available speck of ground. You can’t help but wonder what was on God’s mind the day he created Betony. Kinda makes you want to offer up a bribe, er, bargain. “God, if I planted a lot, and I mean a LOT of flowering plants and bushes in my garden, would you ease up on the Betony?” I came up with this bargain when I saw the bees feeding on it and figured that was His plan. It’s funny, but the more time you spend in the garden, the more you notice things going on that have absolutely nothing to do with your agenda for the garden.

Dollarweed, or Pennywort, is another pest we’ve had forever and ever. Clemson University claims it’s a warm season perennial weed. I got news for them, the stuff hikes all over my yard all year long. One of my Bible study buds just sent me a book, I Eat Weeds by Priscilla G. Bowers, which claims that “eaten raw, the new young leaves are tender and tasty.” This means I will never go hungry.

In recent years, we’ve been the recipient of new weeds we didn’t order. Strictly in the lawn, I have to assume these did not come from plant nurseries. That leaves birds doing a fly-by-pooping. Not a thing I can do about it, though, because Poppie regularly fills a bird feeder a few feet from his recliner.

Desmodium, or Beggars Lice, was one of our pooping gifts. The experts claim it blooms from May to August and that part might be correct but the fruit – the part that sticks to your clothing – continues right on into the winter. Do you know how hard it is to pick that stuff off of your air-conditioned shoes?

Asteraceae, commonly known as Fleabane, is the only weed with a redeeming quality. It has little daisy-like white flowers over a dense mat of very green leaves. Note the word mat. You wouldn’t want to leave your foot out there overnight because the mat would grow over it and you’d never find it.

At this point, the Beggars Lice and Fleabane are in the grass, but how long before I am the recipient of a bird gifting in my flower beds? Jeez Louise, the whole weed thing is completely out of a gardener’s control!