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.
This is the wonderful time of the year! Sallyat the Smorgasbord Magazine features my book, The Winding Road, at her Christmas Book Fair. Please head over to her blog to check out the book recommendations throughout the Book Fair.
Welcome to the Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair with a selection of books from personally recommended authors on my bookshelf I believe will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and for you.
The first book today is the poignant memoir by Miriam Hurdle…it is an inspiring read and I can recommend The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival.
About the book
In the summer of 2008, Miriam Hurdle was diagnosed with melanoma-an aggressive and invasive cancer in her internal organs. The survival rate before 2008 was low. Besides risking harsh treatments for a slim chance of survival, Miriam had hoops to jump through. By the time she received treatment at the beginning of 2009, her cancer had progressed from stage II to stage IV. It was a rough and uphill winding road. But alongside her was support and encouragement. Accompanied by the love of her family and community, this…
The theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #180 is Favorite Images of 2021
The year 2021 was a roller coaster. There were many excitements because we could resume doing things after being restricted for a year or longer. Those moments seemed serene yet felt like wanting to shout for joy. Those were my favorite images of 2021.
My younger granddaughter was born on March 22, 2020. California reinforced the restriction on March 14. I canceled my flight at the last minute to be with my daughter for her childbirth. By March 2021, the restriction of traveling eased a little. We wanted to be there for Nora’s first birthday. I booked the flight with premium seats so that we didn’t have to pass by many passengers. We were so thrilled to see Nora for the first time.
We spent Mother’s Day with my daughter every year except the year 2020. In 2021, we were with my daughter for Mother’s Day and had a wonderful time having three generations of girls together.
The summer of 2021 was my first-time raising Monarch butterflies and there were some casualties, but 20 butterflies made it to adulthood.
I booked a trip to Banff, Canada in August for our anniversary, but the border was closed. I canceled the trip, and we went to Santa Barbara instead. It was the first long trip since Covid.
We also wanted to take day trips to the beaches, but many beaches were closed during the pandemic. We eventually made a trip to Laguna Beach in September.
We missed Autumn’s 3rd birthday in 2020 but we were excited to go to Autumn’s 4th birthday party in September last year.
Last but not the least, we had a white Christmas with my daughter’s family and had fun watching the grandkids playing in the snow and making a snowperson in the backyard. Autumn helped to put the pebbles on to make the eyes and buttons and put the carrot on for the nose. Nora gave the snowperson a big hug.
There are three more hours in the year 2021 PST. I’m writing this post torecap our Christmas.
My daughter Mercy is my only daughter. When she was a small child, she received Christmas presents from us as parents and from her paternal grandparents. She also received presents from a few of our friends. Most of my family members are in Hong Kong and they don’t have the tradition of sending Christmas presents. In another word, there were few presents for Mercy to open. Her paternal grandparents sent one large present and several stocking presents. I did the same thing–had some large presents, and several small presents. Mercy had fun opening all the presents even though they were not from many people.
This Christmas, my husband and I spent Christmas with my daughter’s family. My granddaughters received so many presents from grandpa and grandma, aunts and uncles, parents’ friends. They opened some on the morning of Christmas day. We had to ask the girls to take a break, then opened some more in the afternoon. It took longer for the younger one, Nora, to open hers. She had to open some of them the day after Christmas.
Last year, when Autumn was three, she wanted to play with the new toys right after she opened them. It took longer for her to open all of them. This year, she wanted to keep opening them. It took longer for the two-year-old Nora to take off the wrapping paper. After she took the wrapping paper off, she had fun playing with the paper.
Several presents from Amazon came with gift bags tied with strings. Mercy and her husband Will only helped the girls to loosen the knots but let them untie the strings. The girls were eager to open the bags to see what they were inside. At some point, there were three pairs of hands trying to get a hold of the knot. Autumn was good at helping her little sister to open the bags but let Nora take out the presents.
The adults were sitting on the couches and on the floor while Autumn went under the Christmas to take out the presents. She handed the presents to the individuals to open them. For a while, the living room was full of wrapping paper, strings, bags, and boxes. New clothes unfolded and toy boxes opened. The excitement and laughter filled the entire house. During the lunch break, Mercy and I picked up the wrapping paper for recycling.
Whenever we visit my daughter, I offer to put Autumn to bed. On three nights, she asked me to read her five books, then colored four pages on her coloring books. The night before we left, Mercy and Will went on a date night. Autumn asked me to read ten books to her. I told her we wouldn’t have time to do coloring, and she was okay with it.
My husband, Lynton, and I arrived in Portland on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. It snowed overnight. We woke up to a blanket of snow on Christmas day.
After we opened the Christmas presents in the morning, they put on snowsuits and snow boots. My husband and I only had regular pants and boots on. There is a school across from Mercy’s house and we walked to the school playground to play in the snow. By the time we got there, some kids with their parents were there already. There is a slope from the upper playground to the field below. Kids and adults had fun going down the slope in their sleds. After they got home, they built a snowman in the backyard.
I didn’t do it on Christmas day because I didn’t want to get wet. But I went down on the sled the next day because it may not have a white Christmas next year.
It continued to snow for several more days. Many airlines canceled the flights to and from Seattle and Portland. They canceled hundreds of flights two days before we left. We have scheduled to leave on December 29th. We wouldn’t know if our flight was on time until the morning. I woke up every two hours to check the flight schedule, and the airline showed it was on time.
We had to leave around 6:00 a.m. I tried to call Lyft ride services to take us to the airport. I didn’t get a response for half an hour. Finally, one driver accepted the request and said he could pick us up in 19 minutes. It was reasonable, so I confirmed the request. When 19 minutes was up, there was another message showing the driver would be there in 21 minutes. We couldn’t wait any longer or we would have missed the flight. I woke up my son-in-law Will and let him know the situation. He got dressed in less than 5 minutes and took us to the airport.
What an exciting trip and fun Christmas we had. As soon as we came home, I booked our next trip to see them in six weeks.
“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol.
Back in 1843, in a small French town, Roquemaure, a man named Placide Cappeau was known more for his talent at writing poetry. A priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas Mass. He took his request seriously. Placide Cappeau began thinking about the birth of Jesus. With that inspiration, he wrote “Cantique de Noel.”
Placide was so pleased with how the poem came out that he decided it needed to be a song. Since he was a poet but not a musician, he turned to a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to see if he would set his poem to music. Adolphe was a famous classical musician who had composed many works all around the world, but he agreed to come up with music for his friend’s poem.
In 1843 or 1847, according to two different sources, he composed music to go with the beautiful words, and the song was performed a few weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer, Emily Laurey.
In 1855, an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, saw something in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name, all oppression shall cease.” This verse mirrored Dwight’s view of slavery in the South. He published his English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and the song quickly found favor in America, especially in the North, during the Civil War.
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Our church performed the Christmas Concert one year. “O Holy Night” was one of the songs at the concert. I was privileged to sing this piece. As part of the concert, I sang the first verse of the song. A friend sent me the mp3 of the music and I made it into a video.
I want to thank Robbie Cheadle, who inspired me to make this video. When I posted the information about my Messiah performance last year, she mentioned she would like to hear me sing.
I also want to thank Diane Wallace Peach, who created the trailer for my poetry book, Song of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude. She inspired me to use PowerPoint to create to presentation and insert the music to create this video.