Miracles can happen any time of year, but the ones that sneak up on you at Christmas are the most special of all.
We wanted to visit my parents in southern California but weren't sure the aging 4Runner could handle the miles. Last time it made that trip, back in 2008, it gave up the factory clutch to celebrate reaching the 222,222 mark. Now it's nearing the next digit six-of-a-kind, and the clutch implant surgically installed back in 2008 didn't eek out as many miles as its predecessor. They just don't build clutches the way they used to.
The 4Runner is getting a little gray behind the ears, with touches of rust here and there, too. So we planned to fly. We frequently checked the rates, holding out for a potential deal, but prices took a steep jump after Labor Day.
So, on a wing and literally a prayer, we drove.
We had a lovely visit with The Lizard's extended family, my parents, my siblings and their kids, and my nephew's young family, including tiny little Lucy. And the trusty old 4Runner made the entire trip without a single whine! The Lizard doesn't always believe, but I'm still holding out hope for one of those jumping-for-joy 7,000,000-mile Toyota commercials...
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. (I have to think positive if I want this to happen. My car hears everything I say.)
Just a couple of days after we returned home, the basement sprung a leak.
As devastating as that was, it could have been SO much worse.
We discovered the new inland ocean the day it formed. We were able to save all my photos and all my craft magazines, which had been stored in cardboard boxes on the unfinished cement floor. We were able to rescue The Lizard's family photo albums, including a number of photos older than either of us. My paper journals, from seventh grade until my first home computer, were stacked high above the danger zone, literally, thank heavens. Most of the unused yarn stash was double-bagged within boxes; the contents stayed dry.
We lost all our cookbooks. Newspaper clippings from my former life were a total loss. So were a couple of boxes of fabric and three bags of bicycle stuff. Two PIGS bit the dust... Projects in Grocery Sacks. Paper sacks. Paper sacks with handles. Handles that completely separated as the sacks and contents dismantled in lift-off fashion when rescued from the muck.
And oh, the smell!!! Windows were thrown open in single-digit temps to air out the unbearable and provide a little of our precious warmth to the frigid outside.
It could have been much worse. It could have happened while we were gone. It could have required digging up of my garden. It could have cost a heck of a lot more than it did. Thank God for protecting our home while we were away.
Two days later, the 4Runner's electronic ignition began acting up. Here we go again! Yet, it could have been much worse. It could have happened while were were on the road.
We'd had a bit of a flood before we left, too. For the second time this year, we tried to prepare our indoor garden for ten days of neglect by rigging up ceramic drip systems that are supposed to keep the plants healthy while our not-quite-green thumbs are away. We'd attempted to use these contraptions before Ride the Rockies in June, and the drip technology was no match for summer's severe heat and drought. We lost nearly all the indoor "kiddos," including the last of my beloved clove trees.
We experimented a week before leaving this time to make sure the drip system wouldn't run out, and we were confident the temperatures this time of year wouldn't be as fatal as the hot coals of summertime. We came home from work on Day Two of the experiment to find all the gallon jugs had completely drained, flooding all the plants.
I hoped the deluge would keep the strong, mature plants from withering while we were away. Words cannot express the fear that raged through my core over the new little clove seeds, received fresh from Hawaii just two weeks earlier. Four of the 12 babies turned brown before we left. Would any of the eight remaining seeds survive? How, oh, how would I keep them moist for ten whole days?!?
I'd cut the tops off multiple milk jugs back in the spring to protect our newly planted outdoor garden from late-season snow. I'd saved the jugs just in case we need them again next spring. I wondered if I could keep my indoor plants alive by placing the sensitive ones inside converted milk jugs with an inch or two of water.
We arrived home after ten days on the road very late at night at the tail end of a brutal winter storm. The clove seeds were the first things I checked the instant I walked in the door.
Three of the eight survivors are sprouting!
We lost a rhubarb plant, a sage plant, a rosemary plant and the only tomato plant that survived the transition to indoors prior to the first freeze of the season. One of two baby neem trees had spider mites. Go figure! Vinegar to the rescue. The rest of the indoor garden survived!
The Christmas cacti were exploding with colorful blossoms. The lone habañero was slowly turning red. The new hoya (which replaced the mealy bug-infested one The Lizard had inherited from his father many years ago) had grown a whole 14 inches! Two poppies were about to bloom. The sleeping hydrangeas were still sporting a few green leaves. All the basil, cilantro, stevia, chives and little green onions were thriving.
Best of all, those three little clove seeds are standing their moist ground!
Christmas isn't even here yet, and we've received the best presents we could have wished for!