As our busy summer vacation was winding down the drama began. Baseball season was an uproar of excitement as our Houston Astros, on a winning streak, were headed toward the World Series. August is my birthday month and on August 18th Kim took me to see two of my favorite singing groups, “Straight No Chaser” and “Post-Modern Junkbox” at the outdoor Cynthia Woods Pavilion in Houston. What a fun evening sitting in the 3rd row from the front for my early birthday present! My sweet honey is definitely the best! By the time my actual birthday on August 25th got here, the meteorologists on all the TV stations were giving updates on a Hurricane named Harvey that was headed our way. The evening of my birthday Kim rolled the grill under the breezeway between the garage and back door to grill steaks for my birthday dinner while rains started coming down. I told you he was the best.
My summer home project has been a work in progress since late June. The project involved transforming a bed of plants and weeds…oh, so many weeds…into a seating area paved with decomposed granite (DG). Positioned adjacent to our patio, the area had to be cleared of all the grass, weeds and plants. The job was too overwhelming for me so we paid a teenaged boy to do most of the initial clean out work. Kim cut down three ugly little trees, or maybe they were bushes. Point is, they had to go. Finally, all the weeds and overgrown plants were gone by August and before the storm hit. However, the month we had the patch of land cleared of vegetation, it rained and rained for at least two weeks not allowing the newly exposed soil to sufficiently dry so we could lay the landscape fabric and DG. So much mud! The, sun did eventually turn the mud back into dry dirt and we were able to pull up the last of the stubborn roots, grind the stumps from the three ugly trees and attempt to level the ground as best we could. Then, with wheelbarrows and shovels in hand, we hauled load after load of DG from the place where the huge dump truck rutted up the yard and unloaded it, to spreading and tamping it down over the prepared ground.
By now it is late August and Harvey is barreling down on us. We hastily scrambled to cover the DG we had barely finished spreading just days before. After covering it all with tarps weighted down by bricks, Harvey was downgraded to a Tropical Storm but still as damaging as if it had been a full out hurricane. Even though the wind was not as prominent as past hurricanes, the continuous downpour of rain caused bayous to overflow their banks and rush into homes. We are among those fortunate enough to have not been flooded. The small amount of damage we sustained was a leak around the chiminey which has already been repaired.
Much of the Houston area to the west and east all the way to Beaumont was flooded by record breaking amounts of rainfall. Many friends’ homes were flooded with anywhere from 2 to 6 feet of water causing devastation and loss. Many of them also lost vehicles. Schools delayed their Fall start dates until after Labor Day including the college where Kim teaches theater. He had already auditioned and cast the first play of the Fall semester and was ready to begin rehearsals.
A couple we have known for more than 40 years got almost 6 feet of bayou flood water inside their house which their insurance company determined to be totaled. They came to live with us for 2 months along with their sweet little cat. They lost most all of their furniture, TV’s, flooring, walls, but fortunately, had driven their car and truck to higher ground the night before the floods came into their home. They did lose a little sports car that wasn’t running anyway, but was completely submerged under water in their garage. The whole time they were living with us, Kim was trying to get back to teaching and play rehearsals. If you don’t know by now, rehearsals translates to “not being at home”. Kim had his own drama taking place at the college both on and off stage. As soon as the first fall production closed at the college, the following weekend it played in the park. While the play was going on in the park, a Haunted House, sponsored by the college theater department, was going up blocks away in an old house featuring several of the college students as ghouls in the community attraction.
During the weeks to come I was home helping our friends clean up salvaged dishes and their investment of literally thousands of vintage china pieces. The first day we washed dishes I had about six sweet volunteers helping with the task in our backyard. Wash stations with pans of soapy water and rinse water were set up on tables. By the end of the week, my dishwashing help had dwindled to an occasional person here and finally just to me. Dishes strewed out on tarps on the grass after being transported from their house to my garage. Many of the dishes sat in a mucky mire of nastiness in my garage awaiting their turn for a bath. After the first week I lost most of my wash help to get back to their jobs. The sister of the husband had traveled from her Austin home to assist with the cleanup. I was glad to have her help for 2 weeks of this time. Finally, it was down to my friend and I to try to finish the job. We washed, wrapped and packed boxes and boxes and boxes on top of more boxes, of dishes for almost a month. They rented a couple of storage garages to house the dishes and other salvaged belongings. Then, one day the last box left our garage and I was able to move my car back inside.
A camper our flooded friends had on their property was also totaled and the plan was to replace that camper with a new one to live in on their property. The house had to be stripped of all its walls, appliances and flooring leaving a skeleton standing on bare concrete. After two months of living with us, our friends’ insurance company paid the claim on their destroyed camper and they were able to buy a new one. With Halloween only days away, they got to move back to their neighborhood to live on their property in the new camper.
The college theater’s haunted house ran for three consecutive weekends leading up to Halloween plus Trick or Treat night. As I was passing out candy to costumed kids coming to my door, Kim’s next play at the college was already in rehearsals. At the same time, Halloween night, the Houston Astros were playing Game 6 in the World Series. I passed out Halloween candy wearing my Astros T-shirt and cap while watching the game on TV. Now, as we approach Thanksgiving, Kim’s second play of the semester is in performances for one more weekend. Auditions and rehearsals began this week for the Christmas show. Never a dull moment in theater.
After our friends were able to move back home, I took a week to clean house putting things back in order. Next, I volunteered to do some research on the play Kim was directing and create lobby displays. A couple of weeks spent working on the displays and I was able to set it up in the lobby by opening day. Whew! By the way, “A Year With Frog and Toad” turned out to be a very cute family musical. Under a bit of stress and “drama” Kim and his students were able to hit their spotlight and entertain with a smile. “The show must go on!”
Recently, I returned to my backyard project. I bought lovely flowers, a few small plants, put them in pots and placed around the chairs on the DG to give it an inviting vibe. The calming scene is being set to invite a person (mostly me) to sit with a drink and read or talk to friends. My old patio umbrella lights have mysteriously disappeared, so I’m using a string of lights Kim bought to use at the haunted house and adding some candlelight for ambiance will make my patio a stress-free zone. Having gone full circle from the time I started the backyard project, through the storm, out of town trips, rains, haunted houses, auditions, rehearsals, plays and props, I’ve returned to my backyard. To top it all off, the Houston Astros beat the LA Dodgers to WIN the World Series! Life is good!