I’m so excited that Yvette Prior invited me for an interview on her Priorhouse blog. Yvette and I met and followed each other in this blogging community many years ago. She is enthusiastic and friendly. When I was formatting my debut publication, Song of Heartstring: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude, she kindly offered to look at my manuscript and gave me valuable input. We helped each other to spread the word about each other’s books. She read my latest book, The Winding Road, and wanted to interview me, not only about this book but also about other aspects of my life.
I invite you to head over to the Priorhouse to read about this interview. While you’re there, check out her book Lady by the River: Stories of Perseverance, which is an anthology with Yvette as the author and compiler. This is a valuable self-help book with stories contributed by nine authors.
Today’s Priorhouse Interview features MIRIAM HURDLE
MIRIAM: Hi Yvette, thank you for inviting me to share my book with your readers. I also hope to get to know your readers as they find out a little more about me.
Hello everyone. I am Miriam Hurdle. I grew up in Hong Kong where I finished college and worked for several years before coming to the United States for my graduate studies. After my schooling, I worked two years as a rehabilitation counselor, then went into education, taught for 14 years, and was in administration for 10 before retirement. In my retired life, I enjoy volunteer counseling, reading, writing, blogging, gardening, photographing, and traveling. I’m married to Lynton and we have one married daughter. My older granddaughter, Autumn, was born on September 28, 2017, and my younger granddaughter, Nora, was born on March 22, 2020.
PRIOR: Congrats on your blessed grandchildren – and for those readers who already follow Miriam’s blog, you know how cute they are!
MIRIAM’S MEMOIR: THE WINDING ROAD
PRIOR:Many readers might already know about Miriam’s memoir, The Winding Road. I ordered a paperback copy of the book to read because I wanted to pass it along to a widow friend who lost her spouse to cancer in 2022. However, my second cousin’s wife, Nancy, was recently diagnosed with skin cancer and so I am going to gift her a copy of the book too. I think she will be encouraged by Miriam’s journey.
Can you tell us a little about The Winding Road?
MIRIAM: I would love to share about my book, The Winding Road, Journey of Survival.
It is a memoir of my cancer journey between 2008 and 2009. Four of my close relatives had cancer, and three died from it. Cancer affects a lot more people than we realize. What I had was something terrible, but it is also a common disease. Yet my cancer experience had several layers of impossibilities, which further complicated the disease itself. Each circumstance pushed and expanded my limit of patience, faith, trust, and gratitude.
My healing journey taught me to let down my guard, show my vulnerability, and accept my being rather than doing.
“I woke up with the birds chirping, just like at the old house.” My husband said.
“The sound of spring.” The image of spring flowers appeared in front of my eyes behind my eye mask.
Lynton got up and opened the blinds in our bedroom. I couldn’t wait to look out the window. The gentle light green broke out of the bare branches in the front and back of our new home and in the neighborhood. In less than two months, the view on the street outside of our office had a makeover.
Outside of another window in my neighbor’s yard, there was a vertical tube birdfeeder with visitors flying back and forth between the feeder and the bushes. I looked over our backyard to search for a spot where I could put a birdfeeder. There are no bushes on all three sides of the yard. On the south side of the yard, there are four pine trees. Two of them reach into the sky. In purchasing our home, I mentioned to the home inspector that I wanted to plant flowers, fruits, and vegetables. He reminded me that the south side of the yard doesn’t get too much sun until summer. It may not get full sun even in the summer because of the tall trees. Oh, well, I was going to landscape the backyard, but it seems like I better observe my backyard before making planting plans.
Many organizations keep track of newcomers. I received two brochures, one is about the Pacific Northwest Native Plants and the other one is “Help Stop Invasive Plants.” My daughter pointed out to me that there are blackberry bushes behind the west side of our fence. I had seen the invasion of blackberry bushes. We hired a gardener to trim back the blackberries. I study the two brochures carefully to help me plan my garden. Many plants that grow well in my California home won’t survive in the cold here in Oregon. I have seen no hummingbirds in our neighborhood. There are hummingbirds in my daughter’s backyard, so I know it’s a matter of attracting them. I want to plant some flowers to attract hummingbirds.
The sight of the coming spring made me forget the dreary trip we had gone through less than two weeks ago. This is a quick update, not to worry you but to remind me to press on under difficult circumstances.
We went to California on February 17. We rented a car, stayed in a hotel by the Ontario Airport, and attended Lynton’s niece’s wedding on the 18th. After the wedding, we went to Fullerton to stay in a hotel close to our storage. The next day, Sunday, Lynton rented a 26’ U-Haul. Now we had a moving truck and a car. We could see that the moving truck was not big enough to hold everything from our three storage units. Mentally, we sorted out what to take and what to leave behind. I wanted to give some furniture to a thrift store or Salvation Army, but nowhere close by to accept furniture donations. In the press of time, we had to take them to the dump. Lynton rented a small U-Haul to take the discarded items to the dump. Now we had three vehicles.
On Monday, the day of loading, the four experienced moving helpers wasted no time in fitting everything into the 26’ truck, like fitting the puzzle pieces together. Everything we wanted to keep fit to the ceiling and all the way to the door of the truck. Everything we wanted to discard also barely fit all the way to the door of the small truck! Miracles!
We had two trucks and a car at the storage facility and needed to get them out of the gated area before 6:00 p.m. We needed to take the small truck to the dump before 4:00 pm and then return it to U-Haul before 5:00 pm. We had to drop off the rental car by 7:00 pm. By the end of the day, we should keep only the moving truck. Lynton was playing chess in his head and tried to figure out which move should go first. He tried to explain to me but finally asked me to take the car to follow him.
How would you do it from 3:30 to 7:00 pm to get the two trucks and one car out of the storage (by two people), take the small truck to the dump by 4:00 pm, return it to U-Haul by 5:00 pm, return the car before 7:00 pm, and keep only the 26’ truck when done? All the locations are within a 15 to 20 minutes’ drive! You’ll get a price by solving this puzzle!
We did it! Miracles!
We woke up at 4:00 am on Tuesday, February 21, and hit the road at 4:30 am to get out of Downtown Los Angeles to beat the commuters. We didn’t take breakfast or lunch breaks. Whenever stopping by to fill the tank, we grabbed some drinks and snacks. Lynton was full of energy and motivated to go through this trip and go home as quickly as possible. The drive and the weather were good until about 45 minutes before reaching Redding, California, where we wanted to spend a night. The gusty wind blew from the left side of the truck. I checked the weather app, and it showed the wind was 21 mph. It surely felt stronger than that. The fully loaded truck was swaying. I gripped the door handle and pulled it toward me as if I could pull the truck back from flipping over to the right.
Lynton concentrated on keeping the truck stayed in the lane. Did it come across his mind that, “How much longer?” I didn’t ask him. But I read him the info: wind – 21 mph, time to Redding – 30 minutes… We made it to Redding, checked into the Red Lion Hotel, and walked across the street to have dinner at the Applebee restaurant. We went to bed early to hit the road again before 6:00 am the next day. He wanted to get through Mount Shasta as early as possible.
After our California home closed escrow on December 7, 2022, we took two days to drive to Portland, Oregon. Lynton wanted to be familiar with the road to prepare for the moving trip. He expected to drive through Mount Shasta in the cold even though it’s only over 4000’ in elevation. The summit of Mount Shasta was gorgeous when we first entered the area.
As expected, it snowed. Further into the mountain, at 24 degrees Fahrenheit, the snow froze on the windshield. I turned the defrost into a full blast, but it didn’t melt the ice. There was no rest area or shoulder to stop for miles and miles. Even if we could stop, we didn’t have an ice scraper to take care of the windshield. The defrost helped a bit of thin out the ice for a few inches. Lynton ducked down, but could barely see where he was heading.
Again, I kept him informed of the weather and the distance to the next town. After about 50 miles, we arrived at the bottom of Mount Shasta. Lynton pulled the truck over at a parking lot. I walked across the street to a convenience store looking for an ice scraper. By the time I went back to the truck, Lynton took care of the ice on the windshield using a chisel in his tool chest in the truck!
The Southern Oregon part of the road wasn’t any easier. It snowed steadily for 240 miles from Ashland to Salem.
There was a heavy rainstorm for 46 miles from Salem to Portland. The rainstorm was worse than snow, with splashes and low visibility.
We finally pulled the truck onto the curb in front of our house. It was a huge relief that we got home safely. I made myself a cup of hot tea and looked out the window. About 45 minutes after we got home, it started snowing. I examined it for a few minutes. It looked like a mixture of rain and snow.
By 5:00 pm, I texted Mercy, “Is it snowing by your house?” “Yes, Mom. Autumn is in her ice-skating class. She and Nora will play in the snow when she gets home.
The news the next day reported that Portland got 10.8 inches of snow, the second highest since February 1943 when there were 14.4 inches of snow. Many cars got stranded everywhere.
We were thankful beyond imagination that we were spared from being stranded somewhere on the freeway with a big truck.
My daughter Mercy and her husband had an early Valentine’s Day celebration on Sunday. It was a Superbowl Sunday. My husband, Lynton, wanted to stay home to watch the Superbowl. I babysit my granddaughters by myself while Mercy and Will went on a dinner date. They stayed out until 11:30 pm. Mercy appreciated that we now live so close to them.
We moved into our new home in Beaverton, Oregon on January 10 this year. Our belongings are still in storage in California. Lynton’s niece is getting married in February. We want to attend the wedding. So we killed two birds with one stone, go to California to attend her wedding, and move our stuff to our new home on the same trip.
Have you talked with someone in an empty building? The voice echoes. When Lynton spoke to me from another room, I only heard muffled sounds. Nine out of ten times, he had to repeat to me.
It seems like I had a lot of free time living in an empty house, yet it was overwhelming with the projects we wanted to do with the house. It’s about making the house we feel at home. There’s a hardwood floor downstairs. The former owner seemed to prefer black color. The floor had stained the darkest brown. After several appointments with the flooring technicians, we went with the option of sanding off the dark stain and applying several layers of refinishing. It took several weeks from start to finish. During the sanding period, Lynton wore earplugs to reduce the head-pounding noise from the heavy-duty sanding machine. I stayed away from the house by running errands. The fume from the refinishing was terrible. I didn’t leave the house soon enough, and it burned my eyes. It scared me to see my dark red eye. It took two and a half days of applying eye drops to get rid of the red eye. We had the hardwood floor done in three phases. Lynton worked on his projects in the garage during the refinishing. I simply went to Mercy’s house for several hours. It’s finally done three days ago.
Talking about black, all the outlets and plugs for the entire house have black plates and yellowish switches. It’s a personal taste, but it’s not ours. Lynton stumbled upon an electrician who is a retired electrical engineer. We hired him to change all the switches and plates to white. There are 42 downstairs and 48 upstairs, and probably 10 in the garage. I’ve never seen 100 outlets and switches in any homes. Mr. Song did a great job changing them plus fixing any electrical problems.
The former owners had the interior painted ivory white before listing the house. Everything black or dark brown doesn’t blend in. The dark brown baseboard in our new home is not our preference. We just have to change them to white. The flooring technician could install the baseboard for us, but he didn’t have time to purchase them. We wanted to have the baseboards ready for him to install. Last week, Lynton and I went to the store to buy the baseboards. They are 8 feet long. Longer than our cars. We didn’t want to rent a truck for that purpose. He brought a handheld battery-operated saw to cut them into 5.5 feet and 2.5 feet to fit them in one car. While Lynton was cutting the baseboards in the parking lot, a police car was patrolling. He parked his car one aisle away and faced us with the headlights on a high beam. He stayed there until we finished cutting and loaded everything into our cars. The bright lights were a big help. I wished to thank him but didn’t. By the time we loaded the final pieces into the two cars, it rained. Mission accomplished in time.
Okay, downstairs has the hardwood floor. Upstairs has carpet. The carpet in the primary room is in decent condition but the other two rooms were well-used by the owners’ kids. Replacing the carpet seems to be straightforward. It took the least amount of effort to choose the style and shades and order. The installation will be on February 14, our Valentine’s gift.
The major remodeling is the kitchen. I did the preliminary measurement and sketched a layout, then picked a style between our old kitchen and Mercy’s current kitchen. I used a store’s Design Your Own Kitchen to program my kitchen. After the sketch was done, I sat down with a kitchen specialist to design our kitchen. It was time-consuming, but we’ll get the cabinet style, countertops, and sinks exactly what we want. It’ll take 10 weeks for the cabinets to arrive before the demolition and installation.
We took a 20-year span to do the remodeling for our old house, one project at a time. We now took 5 weeks to make our new home look familiar to what we used to have. But doing major home improvement projects in an empty house is so much easier.
On a personal note, our granddaughters visited us several times. They asked why they ate lunch in our office! We don’t have tables and chairs yet, but the office has a built-in desk. We’ve been doing everything in our office.
Mercy takes Autumn and Nora to the Beaverton City Library, which is 2.5 miles from our house. I meet them there for their Storytime. The girls go to the Oregon Gymnastics Academy, which is 5 miles away. The Emler Swim School, where they take swimming lessons, is 4.2 miles away. I went with Mercy and the girls to two children’s concerts. It’s wonderful to be so convenient for me to attend their activities and do things with them.
Mercy and I did our painting together last Saturday, just the two of us. We watched the demonstration on YouTube first, then followed the instructions to do the painting. It was a treat for us to do this mother-daughter project. It’s also a treat for Mercy to have a fun time without the distraction of the kids.
As I mentioned in the last post that our new home was originally a custom home. We love the layout. Our neighbor told us that two owners ago, the wife had cancer and passed away. The husband and wife gave up on the maintenance of the house. The husband of the last owners worked for Nike. I had never seen so many Nike shoe boxes in one’s garage and Nike sweatshirts in one’s closet. He and his wife were relocated by his company. I imagine they didn’t have a sense of belonging in this house. So it went for maintenance. We love this house and are happy that our agent negotiated a reduction of the selling price. We don’t mind making this home ours, even though I was overwhelmed with all the home improvement projects.
After we move our things to this home from California, we can gradually settle in and relax. I look very much forward to it and will have more time to visit you and your blogs!
We sold our home in Southern California. The escrow closed on December 7th. We drove one car with a small trailer carrying our important belongings and some essential items and left Orange County, California at 6:30 am on that day to beat the Downtown Lost Angeles traffic. People seem to get on the road earlier and earlier to get to work. At 6:30 am, traffic was bumper to bumper for at least 30 miles. I remember getting on the road around 6:00 am to be at work by 8:00 am. It seems people these days must start at 5:00 am or earlier if they work in the Los Angeles area. We took two days to reach my daughter Mercy’s home in Portland, Oregon.
We left California at 63°F and arrived in Portland, Oregon at 42°F. I bundled up the first few days. Eventually, my body got used to the cold. The weather got freezing the last few days. It was 21°F on Thursday, December 22nd and we woke up with snow on the ground on Friday. The grandkids had fun playing sleds. Lynton joined the kids sliding down the hills. The snow is melting this Saturday morning. We may not have a white Christmas tomorrow.
My daughter’s backyard
After we arrived in Portland, we started going to the home showings. We visited four homes and fell in love with one. By December 13th, we made an offer on one house. The escrow will be closed on January 10th. The home was built in the early 1990s and it was a custom home. The kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities are original. We got a break from the sales price to do the upgrades. It will be lovely when the improvements are done.
Our new home is about 18 to 20 minutes from Mercy’s home. The gym, nature parks, shopping, and our basic needs are within a 10 to 15 minutes drive.
We’ll move into our new home upon closing escrow. Lynton’s niece is getting married in February. So we’ll wait until February to return to California, attend Lynton’s niece’s wedding, then rent a moving truck to bring the rest of our belongings.
I’m over at Smitha Vishwanath, the blogger, painter, artist, and poet’s blog. She shared a heartwarming review of my memoir. Her review stirred up my emotions about my journey all over again. It brought happy tears into my eyes because I’m alive t share my story with you. Please go over to read her excellent review.
I want to thank Miriam for writing this book which is a real-life account of her battle with cancer in 2008. In the foreword, she says, ” Life is precious and it’s worth fighting for. If I died, my pain went with me, but I would leave pain with my loved ones. My life is worth living.’ This very honest, straight-from-the-heart line, sets the tone of the book and forms the backbone of her fight against cancer. It was this line that made me read on. It reminded me of my very recent brush with the hospital and how I felt when I was wheeled into the operation theatre. I thought, ‘Well if it ends, the pain is gone. But, there’s so much love to live for.‘
Miriam recounts her experience with the dreaded ‘C’- the chance identification of it, the subsequent tests, and adjusting her life so…