This year, my husband and I cancelled our trip to be with my daughter’s beautiful family. I know this social distancing is a temporary condition.
The State of California is in a worse than ever situation at the present. Many hospitals ran out of ICU beds. The news on Saturday, December 19, said that if someone had an accident or heart attack, the hospitals may not treat them because there were no rooms in the ER. Many families will suffer the losses of their loved ones to this horrible disease. We remember them in our thoughts and prayers.
The United States on Monday, December 14 administered the first shots of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to health-care workers, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s long march to bring the virus under control. Initial shipments of the second vaccine Moderna authorized in the U.S. left a distribution center Sunday, December 20 and the first shots were administered on Monday, December 21. About 20 million of people in the US will receive vaccination by the end of the year. Combining the two vaccines, there will be 400 million shots for 200 million people available by the end of July 2021. Help is on the way!
We look forward to a better, healthier, brighter, and shiner 2021!
Here are two more of my favorite Christmas music.
Winchester Cathedral Choir performed For Unto Us a Child Is Born from Handel’s Messiah
O Holy Night. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir
Stay safe and enjoy your beautiful holidays wherever you are!
Winter solstice 2020, the shortest day of the year and the official start of winter, is on Monday, December 21.
The science and timing behind a winter solstice
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position and the beginning of summer, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere in places such as Argentina, Australia, and South Africa. There, the December solstice marks the longest day of the year.
What causes the winter solstice to even happen?
Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth. As the Earth moves around the sun, each hemisphere experiences winter when it’s tilted away from the sun and summer when it’s tilted toward the sun.
Many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of longer days.
Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.
Many of the ancient symbolsand ceremonies of the winter solstice live on today or have been incorporated into newer traditions.
On the night of December 21, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages. They appear so closely aligned in our sky that they will look like a double planet. This close approach is called a conjunction. It’s happening just in time for Christmas — hence the nickname of the “Christmas Star.”
Through December 25, they will become even cozier. Look for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction low in the western sky for about an hour after sunset each evening during this time.
How to watch?
“On the evening of closest approach on December 21 they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon,” Hartigan said. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and several of their largest moons will be visible in the same field of view that evening.”
While these two planets may appear close, they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart, according to NASA.
Live events around the conjunction
If you miss this conjunction and want to see the planets with the same proximity, just higher in the sky, it won’t happen until March 15, 2080 — and then not again until after 2400.
In case weather conditions in your area aren’t agreeable to witnessing this celestial event, several livestreams will be available.
The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, will host a program beginning at 7 p.m. ET, showcasing live views through its telescopes. The stream will be on the observatory’s YouTube page.
The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will also share live views on its website.
This week, as we are approaching the end of 2020, Amy invited us to share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic.
I love travel. I know I won’t return to many places I had been and always treasure the experiences of being there and seeing those places. Yet if I must choose between travel and spend time with family and friends, I choose the latter. It is the relationship that makes the moments precious.
Our family photo which was taken in 2006. One young girl on the left got married a few years ago and now has a baby daughter. The other one on the left just got married last month. The three little ones are in college. Lynton’s dad, second from the right, died 12 years ago.
Eight years ago, we took our family trip to China and stopped by Hong Kong to see my family. Seven of us were in the middle of this photo, with my siblings and their families on the left and right sides. Will’s mom (behind Will, in green) died three years after the trip. My sister, third from right, died last year when we were in Hong Kong for my nephew’s wedding.
This is a group of my lovely lady friends celebrating Christmas in 2019. We missed each other tremendously.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley
Many of my friends and I were in this chorale last year singing in the annual performance of Messiah. The past weekend would have been the usual schedule for the performance. It didn’t happen this year.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George Moore
This precious photo was taken with my daughter Mercy and granddaughter Autumn last year. We cancelled our trip this year because the Covid cases were worse than when it started.
When I was teaching, my Christmas field trip was taking the students to watch the stage performance of The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. After I left the classroom, instead of driving to see the performance, I kept the tradition by watching The Nutcracker movie at home.
All the ballet pieces in The Nutcracker are beautiful. I chose two versions of the following dance.
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker (The Royal Ballet 2017) 2:39 minutes
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker (Bolshoi Ballet 2010) 3:31 minutes, the dance finished at 2:47 minutes
This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107, Ann-Christine invited us to look at the difference in the winter when we compare the Northern Hemisphere with the Southern Hemisphere.
The first time I saw snow was my first year in Portland, Oregon. It was in November. I walked along the hallway from one classroom to the next. My eyes glanced through the floor to ceiling window. A thin layer of white stuff drifting down in the air. I stopped and observed. Each layer above seemed to get thicker and whiter. I realized what happened and called out while jumping up and down, “It’s snowing. It’s snowing!” Some male students walked by and looked at me. Probably the last time they saw and heard of it was from their little kids.
When I finished school in Portland, I went on to Seattle Pacific University for my second graduate study. The city welcomed me with seven inches of snow. When the snow came to a pause, I put on my knee high, custom made leather boots and my leather gloves to make the first snowman. The leather gloves got hard and stiff after they were dry. My boots were fine, probably they were made differently.
Is winter warmor cold? I think winter is warm because it’s the time for events such as Christmas concert, Christmas light cruise, Christmas parties with family and friends, and my daughter’s birthday the day after Christmas.
One New Year, we visited my sister’s family in Vancouver B.C. We couldn’t go skiing in Whistler B.C. because the heavy fog came in. We managed going to a nearby mountain for my husband, niece, and nephew to do snowboarding.
Back home in southern California, our chorale started rehearsing for the Messiah concert first week of November, leading to the two performances before Christmas. This is the highlight of the year for me.
The adult fellowship group at church has many Christmas parties. One year we had a catering dinner at a deluxe retirement home. The chef built a gingerbread village every year. He made one gingerbread house at a time throughout the year and froze them. By early December, he assembled the village with a train track and an electrical train going around it.
The last two years, we went on the Christmas Light Cruise and watched the Christmas Boat Parade.
Two years ago was the first-time snow and Christmas met. My husband and I went to Portland, Oregon to spend the holiday with my daughter’s family. I saw snow before the plane landed and was so excited to have a white Christmas.
Most exciting of all during Christmas time is my daughter’s birthday on the day after Christmas. Here, Mercy opened the birthday card from her daughter Autumn.
Is winter warm or cold in your part of the world? I would like to hear from you.
It has been a challenging time for me since the beginning of November. I have an allergic reaction toward something, possibly medications. After having gone to the Urgent Care twice, Emergency Room twice, hospitalized for five days and seeing eight doctors, no doctor could pinpoint what happened to the constant inflammation of my skin. All they could say was to ask me to discontinue this and that medication. I will discontinue ALL my medications in less than a month. What a motivation for me to get rid of all the medications I have been taking. They gave me some treatments such steroids and antibiotics. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and was hoping not to miss all the celebrations in Christmas.
With great effort and determination, I gathered my energy and ensured a pleasant appearance; I managed to sing in one of the two performances of Messiah. I couldn’t sing in the first one because I was still miserable. Laying in my bed, I could hear the choir singing. My disappointment was no greater than my motivation. I quietly plead for good health the next day so that I could sing. Oh, what a miracle! I woke up feeling the coolness of my body. It was a great joy for me to spend hours to prepare myself. The photos showed my red face (with no make-up) from the inflammation. My friends in the audience were happy to see me.
Retirees singing to the retirees
I also got to sing in one of the two chorale concerts. I missed the first one when the group sang in a retirement home. The second one was as fun when we sang to the fellow retirees.
Precious group of ladies at the Christmas dinner
Joy to the World celebration
There were two Christmas parties I was delighted to go and had fun seeing my friends of thirty years. One was the ladies Christmas dinner, and the other was the adult fellowship Christmas party.
I haven’t seen the end of the tunnel yet. I’ll still must take a blogging break until my health is fully recovered. Until then, I wish you all
Miriam Hurdle is a multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories.
Music has rooted in her life. Being a soloist as a teenager led her to taking voice lessons and to have ongoing singing engagements. She continues to sing soprano in choral groups. Lyrics have a major influence in the natural flow of her melodic writing. She writes memoir in the form of poetry.
Along with her brother, she took photos when the films were black and white. Photography is still her enjoyable hobby. Drawing and painting were also fun activities as a child. Her favorite was to draw a Japanese girl with big eyes, long hair, small lips and chin. She resumed drawing and watercolor painting several years ago. In her poetry collection, Songs of Heartstrings, photos and paintings are included to illustrate the poems.
She earned a Doctorate of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California.