Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Inauspicious Start to Summer

Wow! Summer has finally arrived. Without a doubt, my absolute favorite thing about substitute teaching is summer. What can I say, summer break was the best thing about going to school. Now it's the best thing about working for a school.

I really expected that Monday, May 18, would be my last day to work this spring. But the district's scheduler called me to work both Monday and Tuesday at the middle school. The first day I subbed for the theater arts teacher. I've subbed for her several times this year. The problem with subbing for her is that she NEVER leaves a lesson plan. I just have to "wing it" to keep the kids busy. I got through the day by showing a movie, which is what most teachers were doing for the last couple of days of school anyway. The second day I subbed in the gymnasium for one of the coaches. Since it was the end of school, there was no equipment and the students didn't dress-out. That day was AWFUL. Imagine two substitutes and 75 to 100 students with nothing to do for an hour. Now imagine that seven times. We let those who were interested organize their own games. The rest of them spent their PE class sitting in the bleachers talking. It was very loud and very dull.

I've been looking forward those first few days of summer. I planned to spend the first day in my pajamas, watching television, reading, mostly doing nothing. Needless to say, when Wednesday morning came, there were other things I had to do. I was out running errands when my husband called to ask me to meet him at the emergency room. His mother had fallen and broken her hip.

Photo credit
She was in the emergency room for 14 hours. I was there 13 of those hours. They finally got her a room at approximately 11 p.m. Wednesday night. We spent the entire day with her on Thursday hoping to catch the surgeon when he made rounds. She was scheduled for partial hip replacement on Friday at 3 p.m.

I stayed home to get a few things done on Friday morning while Patrick went to the hospital. He called around 10 a.m. telling me to come right away because they were going to take her earlier than they planned. The surgery went smoothly and she was in recovery by 3 o'clock. They placed a prosthesis in the top of her femur with a new ball-socket similar to the illustration shown.

They got her out of bed and started her therapy the next morning. She's having a rough time with quite a lot of pain. She gets therapy three times a day which really wears her out. They keep her out of bed around four hours every morning. She's not eating or drinking very much. The doctor said he expects to keep her in the hospital for approximately 10 after surgery so she can continue to receive therapy three times daily.

We've cut back our visits to a couple of hours each day. We are just in the way when they are doing therapy. Patrick will be visiting either at lunch or after work every day. She has not wanted any additional visitors and refuses to answer the phone in her room. She doesn't want to talk to anyone and she certainly doesn't want anyone to see her. Personally, I think it's because her hair isn't done. We're going to check with the hospital and see if there is someone who will come in and do her hair. I think that will make her feel a lot better.

Today was the first day I was really hoping to sleep late and laze around this morning. Unfortunately, a couple of my husband's employees felt that it was necessary to call and text him around 6:30 this morning. So I was up early once again.

Hopefully, summer will get better.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

After the Storm

Down here on the Texas coast, we have hot, dry, windy weather most of the time. Our winters are mild and pleasant, but August and September can be brutally hot, especially when we are in a drought, which we have been in for the last couple of years. Generally, the only violent weather we deal with are tropical storms and hurricanes which develop from time to time. Every summer and autumn, all eyes are on the tropics as we watch every tropical weather system that develops. We've been lucky for a lot of years, we haven't had a major storm make a direct hit on Corpus Christi since 1970.

I was 16 years old when Hurricane Celia devastated my hometown. I have never voluntarily chosen to "ride out" a storm since that day. My parents lived about a mile and a half from the bayfront in a wood frame house when they decided to "ride it out." We spend about five hours huddled in the hallway of our house mostly on our knees, praying to be spared. It was the most horrible weather I have ever experienced. It was followed by 21 days with no electricity. No electricity in August in Corpus Christi is not a good thing. It was miserable.

Last Thursday evening a line of thunderstorms moved through South Texas. It was the closest thing to Hurricane Celia that I have ever experienced. The storm had straight-line sustained winds of at least 60 miles per hour and gusts around 75. The national weather service has now confirmed that there were 5-6 tornadoes as part of that system. One of those tornadoes went right through our neighborhood.

The storm started around 9:30 p.m. with rain and wind. By 10 o'clock water was coming into the living room under the back door and into our master bedroom through the weep holes. The rain was blowing almost completely horizontally. We could hear hail hitting both the patio and the storm blinds. We have hurricane blinds on all our windows and as soon as we realized how bad the storm was, we closed them down tight. At 10:30 we lost power as the storm raged outside. I had already lit candles and we had found our flashlights and had them ready. By midnight the storm had calmed a little and we decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later the electricity came back on and we had to get up and cut off the lights. Before we got them all off, the power went out again and was not to come back on that night.

We got up early on Friday. I had to be at work at 7:15 so there wasn't really much time to do more than assess the situation. There were mostly small limbs down all over the yard. By the time I got home from work on Friday at 3:30 p.m. our neighbors had cleaned up our yard and the electricity was back on.

We were very lucky! We have very little damage. Since we were at home, we were able to mop up the water as soon as it came in so there was no water damage. Our back fence was blown over, but only the posts were broken. Grandad and our neighbor are replacing them right now. We also lost a good part of our huge, 30 year old oak tree in the front yard. It was a house-warming gift from Grandad's parents when we moved into our house. The limbs at the top of the tree were snapped and blown back into the tree canopy. They did not fall on the house or the car or anything else. They remain in the tree, supported by other limbs. We have some tree specialists coming out tomorrow to look at what needs to be done and give us a bid. We expect to have that cleaned up by the end of the week. Some of my herbs were uprooted and we think we may have some loose shingles on the roof. We'll be having it inspected. But, all-in-all we were extremely lucky to have very little damage.

Almost every house in the neighborhood has major tree damage and almost everyone in the area lost part or all of their fences. There are a few houses with broken windows and trees that fell on roofs or vehicles. We drove around on Friday evening so I could snap some photos to share with you.

These are a few shots of our tree. The part that shades my swing in the front yard is completely gone before the tree is even trimmed.

The entire neighborhood is now lined with stacks and stacks of debris. It will take weeks (at least) for the city to pick it all up.

But let me say it again, we were very lucky. It could have been so much worse.