Thomas Leverett - plays and writing
This part of Texas is so hot, flat, dry & windy that sometimes about all you can do is sit around playing music, but that's what I like about it; in fact I'm kind of attracted to places with horrible or at least changing weather. We've seen hailstorms, dust storms, drought, lots of rain, all kinds of things. But lately it's been warm and dry, so nice that we've taken to staying outside when school lets out, and spending every free minute at the playground. In the summer we felt the same way about the lazy river pool at the university. It means we get lots of fresh air, and sleep well at night.
This year our big news is that we've added two more children, Sierra and Ava, to the family; they came to us in late March and we adopted them in late October. They were born in nearby Brownfield, in a family with five siblings, but we are only likely to be able to keep in contact with one, though the rest are in the area. They've changed the nature of life around here, but everyone seems to have adjusted ok so far; even the cats and dogs have figured out what corners of what beds are still available, so they can get an evening nap and be fresh to guard us in the morning. Slowly, we are introducing the girls to the rest of the family, but that's a long process since everyone's so spread out. We did get them down to New Mexico in the summer, to meet Grandma & Grandpa and Aunt Margot, and we're going to Kansas in January to meet a few of their new siblings and nieces. I guess I have a few more "Are we there yet?"s to hear, and there's no better road to hear them on than that one. Here's what the kids are up to:
Josie, Derek & Layla (4) now live in Lawrence, KS, where Josie is a microbiologist and Derek is testing out the idea that Kansas City is a hopping place and has lots of work in the computer business. Layla is a spirited child.
Natalie, Ethan, Kenna (3) & Maya (3), and Nori...Nori is our latest granddaughter, born in March; we are happy to report that she's getting lots of attention, and will be coming with the family from Peoria to Kansas for a Jan. visit.
Eric & Jenn live in Santa Rosa, CA, where Eric works and does art. He left his construction job and is now working full-time with his best friend at Elysium Woodworks, which makes cutting boards.
Kylie, Josh, & Bayleigh (3) are expecting a little girl, our fifth granddaughter, soon. They are still living in Goreville, IL, near Carbondale, and Kylie tells us whatever we want to know about the SIU administration, as she still works there. Josh works for a computer company.
Justin moved from Atlanta to Portland, OR, with a long layover in Carbondale; he's making his way on the West Coast by working at a Starbucks and doing a paper route. He actually lives in Vancouver, WA, across the river.
Noah is getting ready to graduate from SIU, though that may actually be a year from now. He is majoring in Math and Education and is working for the SIU Foundation, raising money for a school that badly needs it. He is going on a trip to Israel this break but may still make it to Kansas to see the family.
Elias (13) has taken up the violin, with my full support, and enjoys everything about the orchestra experience except dressing up. He gets good grades, and plays Minecraft and makes YouTubes in his free time.
Corey (9) is adjusting well to having younger sisters; he watches out for them at school, and always has something to do. He plays basketball and other sports, and has lots of friends; he loves to visit Grandma and Grandpa in New Mexico and take them fried chicken.
Sierra (9) was on a soccer team that appreciated her fearless competitiveness, and made her goalie; they also played in a tournament in Midland. She likes horses, and loves to swim and play on the monkey-bars.
Ava (6) is doing well in kindergarten and has several BFF's, which is good, because you can never have too many of those. She also loves swimming and the monkey-bars, and was also on a soccer team.
Jen has found that university administration is not what she wants, and is stepping down from being chair. She's thrown herself completely into mothering two more daughters, and this is causing a need to simplify in other areas. But she's still very productive in her research, which is now about tiny houses and the simplicity movement.
Tom: I am enjoying Texas, mostly because I'm playing lots of music and I'm able to keep writing. My job with Texas Tech has me working 3/4 time, but it's unevenly distributed; it's three quarters in fall, half in spring, full-time in late July, and nothing for the first half of the summer. Music is by far the most satisfying thing I do; my band has some old guys who have played around forever, and who care more about playing bluegrass than about playing the big venues. I could try to become a famous Texas fiddler, I figure, but it's not necessary; when you have ten kids, you're already famous, and basically too busy.
At the playground, it seems like the girls are making up for lost time; they hang and swing with a passion not shared by the vast majority of kids, and will spend hours there on weekends, swinging, jumping, flipping, climbing, etc. They've been growing a lot, too, as if this is what they needed to get back on track. I finally decided that of all the things I could be doing, hanging around outside and watching benevolently is one of the best things I could choose, so I rearranged it so I could do that more or at least as much as possible. It's the same school Buddy Holly went to, though I'm sure they've changed playgrounds; we love it enough that, though we decided to move to a different house, we made sure it would be in the same district. The new house is about a knight's move away (two blocks down, three blocks over), and will have about the same amount of space, but will be arranged differently, will be quieter, and will allow Jen to work from home better; also, it's closer to the parks and the school. This moving will happen in January (which is apparently possible here); it is terrible, and messy, and after you do it you swear you'll never do it again, and that usually lasts at least a couple of years. We look forward to it, though, and think the new house will fit the family needs better. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all! Much love to family & friends!
2011 family letter
On a recent trip to New Mexico to visit my parents, who, in spite of precarious health, are still well, happy and together, I took long walks down an avenue that is near their house: to one side, past the university, down a long hill toward the Rio Grande, almost to the town of Tortuga; another night, the other direction, out into the desert, toward a large mountain, Tortuga Mountain, which now has a large “A” on it. Though I didn’t make it to my destination either night, I got a sense of the high mountain desert with its sagebrush and dry bushes, and was later surprised to learn of a religious group who walk the entire distance, from their town of Tortuga to the top of the mountain, annually, to do penance as part of the feast of the Virgen de Guadalupe. Some even do it barefoot, they say. Back in Illinois, I tried to find a parallel in my own life, but I’ve done nothing similar in years. Still my luck seems to be holding out pretty well. Three granddaughters were born in the family (see below), two just yesterday, all healthy and happy; a big faculty strike at the university wreaked havoc on our sense of “business as usual;” we took a long-needed family vacation to northern Minnesota; and, both of us got to see parents and at the same time keep up with professional conferences. Keeping up with kids & grandkids is getting steadily more complicated:
Josie and Derek I think are really loving being parents, and Layla Rose (now 1 ½ is showing signs of being very well-loved. They are in Seattle but we were lucky to be able to see them over Thanksgiving.
Natalie and Ethan Zeman just had twin girls, Kenna Jenae and Maya Leona, born yesterday (Dec. 14) in Peoria; their lives have just changed overnight!
Eric and Jenn are happy in Santa Rosa where Eric earned a BFA and a Class A truck driving license (you know, that day job thing).
Kylie and Josh Brewer had a baby Aug. 1; this would be Bayleigh, who is now four months old and who we see quite often since they are near Carbondale.
Justin is pondering graduate school while dishwashing at the local Thai restaurant, and we and especially his brothers consider ourselves lucky to have him around.
Noah is studying to become a court reporter at John A. Logan College and working at the same restaurant, also living in Carbondale.
Elias, 10, plays tennis and has a variety of other extracurricular interests.
Corey, 6, is doing well in school and has a very active social life outside of it.
Jen is now chair of Sociology, which brings an enormous load of stress (especially during the strike) with its salary, but she both likes the challenge and continues her research. She now believes that padded running shoes have been the curse of the runner, and is beginning to take her shoes off as she builds up her soles (and soul).
This brings me back to the people who climb Tortuga Mountain (or “A” mountain) every year, since the image of that mountain in the night stays with me even now, even with all else that has happened. Their religion seems to be a mixture of Catholicism and a local indigenous set of customs; but, it has caught on and thrived over the years, and people come from far and wide to fulfill their promise and climb the mountain. Second, the “A”, put on the mountain by the “Aggies” at the university, shines through the night even when it’s not lit up, leaving me to wonder if we’ve replaced respect for a large natural wonder like a mountain with worship of a lit up letter or, worse, a concept that is so familiar to university culture. Jen says that 40% of all university grades today are “A.” Is this the devaluation of the sacred?
In the seventies lots of restaurants had smoking sections and non-smoking sections, and being allergic to smoke I looked for the non-. But when a restaurant was always full like Hamburg Inn #2 was on Saturday mornings, I had to take what I could get and besides, I loved the smell of pancakes and cooked bacon and eggs. One day, when it was snowing hard outside, I couldn’t find the no-smoking signs because of the crowds of people, so I started looking for ashtrays on the tables to figure that out. I realized I would be lucky to get any seat at all, but fortunately I found a friend with a rare empty seat, and was able to join him.
My seat appeared to be between the smoking and non-smoking areas, but no matter, I ordered my breakfast and started talking to my friend, who was well into eating his. Fortunately my seat was facing the Linn Street window where I could see people coming and going; it was a lively mix. The Burg drew in the entire North side and that’s what I loved about it; there were poets, musicians, couples, people I knew, people I didn’t. Everyone got along well.
Often there were people waiting to get a table and since people often knew each other, they would have conversations across the room or would walk over and talk to each other about the weekend’s events. In an animated conversation one guy grabbed the ashtray off our table where we weren’t using it and took it over to where he was discussing a poetry event with someone. I remember wondering if this would change the boundaries of the smoking section.
I got my omelet, whole-wheat toast and home fries, and my friend started telling me about the actualists, a group of poets around town, some of whom I knew. Apparently they were a kind of anti-Writer’s Workshop. Whereas the workshop poets were academic and proud of it, he said, actualists believed that you shouldn’t have to know Greek mythology to appreciate poetry; poetry should be about everyday things that are accessible to everyone. Like an ashtray, he said, holding up ours, which the guy had just returned.
With that my friend paid his bill and left, and was quickly replaced by another friend who shook the snow off his boots and sat in his seat. The breakfast was delicious; the comment was lost in the clang of dishes and forgotten until later. Even now, I’ve never seen a poem about an ashtray, haven’t even seen an ashtray in many years. I remember the breakfast, though, I remember those well. But I admit some of the details are a little hazy.
2010 letter, Leverett family
Our town has its big parade in early December, and it's always very cold for the high school marching bands, not to mention the spectators who generally stand still on the side of the roads. This year we got a chance to march in it so I parked the car on the far end of it, and then walked backed through the parade to meet the boys and friends who were near the end of it. It's a lights parade so every float has lots of lights: the Shriners, the schools, the various churches, even the political groups. The parade would stop every once in a while, so a band could set up, or somebody could adjust something, and these moments I remember as frozen in time: the town watching, everyone freezing, the lights shining and reflecting in the night. If I stood there for long, though, the cold would catch up to me; I was grateful to keep walking.
You're not going to find out everything that happened in a single year, but we can at least give you some highlights; Tom & 4 boys went to New Mexico for a fantastic family reunion, Tom, Jen & the little two are off to California this Friday to see her family. By far the biggest news is Layla Rose Andre, born 3-11-10 to Josie & Derek in Seattle; Kylie and Josh are also expecting in July of 2011. Jen is in line to become Full Professor and probably Chair of Sociology; my job, however, is best left undescribed as anything but "all-consuming," though I still enjoy teaching. I also enjoy playing the fiddle and swimming.
Josie & Derek have a house in Seattle and Layla Rose is teething and almost walking; she's a character who will keep their hands full for sure. Josie is doing her postdoc in a microbiology lab and Derek works for Microsoft.
Natalie & Ethan live in Peoria IL, and made another fantastic Thanksgiving for us and others. Natalie works for the Social Security Administration and Ethan works for Caterpillar.
Eric & Jenn live in Santa Rosa, CA where Eric goes to school and works in construction. They are both still heavily involved in karate.
Kylie & Josh live here in Carbondale, ensuring that we will see this grandchild a lot. Kylie works for SIU and Josh is finishing school with a computer tech degree soon.
Justin graduated from the University of Kansas in May and is now working for the local Thai restaurant, Thai Taste, easily the best restaurant in town. He is not sure he will stay in Carbondale forever.
Noah graduated from high school and started a court reporting program at John A. Logan Community College. He can drive his Mercedes there, and that gives him some satisfaction. He also works at Thai Taste.
Elias is almost finished reading all the Harry Potter books. His 3rd grade classroom is half in Spanish and this has kept him busy; he also plays soccer and has an active social life.
Corey switched to a private school when we found that kindergarten wasn't working well, but he's very happy there, and it was through him that we marched in the parade. He does karate and also plays soccer.
Time marches on; parents get older, and the young are hit with the hard realities of making a life in a cold world. I should also mention that we've had a complete turnover in pets in the last five years; the two dogs (Cinder & Uma) and two cats (Pumky & Casper) we have now are entirely different from the half-dozen we had a few years back. As I look back on the year, I feel a little like I did walking past all those lit up floats: I stop, look around at everyone, suspended in time, and say to myself, for good or bad, this is where I am at this moment; we are grateful for friends & family worldwide, wish you all the very best for the new year, and hope to see you all again, as soon as possible.
Love, Tom, Jen, & family
This year October was cold and wet like November usually is, but November was the reverse, dry and warm; however, the big news was a huge ĎderechoĎ in May that blew over hundreds of trees, destroyed houses and caused the area to be out of power for about a week. We found out that Ďderechoí was a straight-wind, inland hurricane, although the dictionary didnít have it; for a while there, folks thought the weather couldnít be trusted.
For us 2009 also brought some closure to the ongoing construction that has haunted us since our roof caved in; we finally finished the upstairs, and have a vast, open and light-filled room that gives us awe and peace. Jen has been finishing a second book; this has taken most of the year and, made life challenging (So did the new dogs: Uma the destroyer and Minnie the piddleróbut Jen adores them both and assures me that they will mellow with age). I was invited to both Dominican Republic and Peru, related to ESL/EFL teaching, and took them both, having that lifelong travel itch; the long trips, and especially layovers in Miami-Dade airport, made me appreciate home more, and love the good life, which by the way doesnít include CNN. I also went to Denver (in a freak snowstorm), New Mexico, and New York; Jen got out to see her family in California, while we all, as a family, made it only to some high points in St. Louis and Kentucky, but had a good time in both.
Letís skip to the chase. Iím going to be a grandfather in late Feb./early Mar.; a little girl is expected in Seattle and will be showered, Iím sure, with love and affection. Hereís the rest:
Josie and Derek have been making their plans for the baby while working their jobs, she at a microbiology lab at the U of W, he at Microsoft. The baby likes the limelight; she kicks when the ultrasound is focused on her.
Natalie and Ethan live in Peoria, where she works for the US Social Security Depít and he will start a new job at Caterpillar soon. Ethan finished the Chicago Marathon this year, and they both enjoy the fruits of their pear trees and backyard garden.
Eric and Jen are living in Santa Rosa, CA; Eric has entered and MFA program. Both are active in the world of karate and competing at the national level (this year, in New Jersey).
Kylie and Josh live nearby in Carbondale. Kylie is now employed full-time at the university, and Josh has gone back to school in computer programming; both welcome the change.
Justin is set to graduate from the University of Kansas in May and is not sure what is next. He is in Israel at the moment enjoying a birthright trip; heís had a travel itch, I think, since he returned from France.
Noah visited Seattle in summer, recovered from a brief hospitalization in August, ran on the HS cross-country team, and is due to graduate, from Carbondale High School, in May. He has a part-time job at a Thai restaurant, and lives here full-time now; weíll keep you posted about the future.
Elias, 8, would like me to see all the best computer games, which he is finding out through his friendsí network. His 2nd-grade class is still giving his whole curriculum in both English and Spanish; this gives him some challenge. He played on a travelling soccer team and represented Carbondale in various regional tournaments.
Corey, 4, goes to both daycare and preschool, so he has two different sets of rules to master. In his primary job, growing, heís doing very well.
A young woman in high school asked me if technology made it more difficult to create and foster relationships in the modern world, and I said no; in my family at least, Skype has made it possible to actually see each other whenever we want, and weíre using the opportunity to plan a reunion. If the young are becoming socially awkward due to texting all the time instead of actually talking, I havenít noticed it, though I have noticed that ordinary driving through various street corners has become a little more dicey, due to cell phones and whatever people are doing on them; they could be taking pictures of me, for all I know. Of course Iím paranoid about technology endangering everything I hold dear, like the local paper and this Christmas letter, but itís allowed me to make and keep new and dear friends all over the world, and bring some back into my life, who I hadnít heard from in years.
That said, the world still seems scarier, even as it gets smaller. When I got way down to Peru, I was able to contact all my loved ones right away; I was stunned at how far away I could be, yet so close. Their weather was odd, but beautiful. The wind came from the east; their winter was our summer, and it was sunny, clear and gorgeous, day in and day out. They lived beneath three huge volcanoes and above an earthquake fault; anything could happen. I told everyone about the derecho and how we thought the weather was taking a turn for the ominous up in our part of the world. They agreed. Things are off down here too, they said; they couldnít explain exactly what had gone wrong, but they knew it. Either the world is taking drastic action to heal itself, or, itís just taking drastic action. But Iím home safe, and less inclined to travel. A happy holidays to all and a prosperous New Year; sorry if this is late; we did our best.
Dear friends & family,
To me the biggest news out of Illinois this year is not Obama, who was big, sure, or another governor being dramatically hauled off to jail protesting his innocence and trying to hang onto his power, but rather an earthquake, two tornado warnings, and three ice storms, all pretty much in the spring. Our own family is not producing the big headlines; we’ve lost a dog and two cats, picked up a kitty, and had a wedding and a graduation, but pretty much stayed here in Carbondale the whole year, no exotic trips to Europe or anything.
The earthquake was up by the Indiana line, but it woke me up, first I’ve ever experienced; it did very little damage way down here, but got everyone talking, especially about animals’ predictive powers and the possibility of a bigger one, on the New Madrid fault. The tornado warnings would actually be long forgotten, except that we have a new tornado shelter, dug underground out back, and used it, twice; also, during one of them flash floods washed out the center of town as I was driving through, and stranded me at the Walgreen’s watching water flood over our main street. The ice storms, all in the month of February, caused SIUC to close for three days (unheard of) and be severely criticized for not closing a fourth.
When I wrote last year a flat roof had caved in on our den, causing water to drip on the piano and computer at once; we resolved the situation by building straight up and making a second story, a cavernous but completely dry roost that is still uninsulated and unfinished. Jen loves to work up there, except in extreme weather, but the work on it has slowed down. Most of the actual building came in the spring, when we had the series of weather disasters; all during that time, workers were reinforcing walls, building straight up, putting in a new roof, and enclosing it. In other words, we never stopped living in the place, even when weather threatened us from all angles.
Josie & Derek report from Seattle that it is incredibly hard getting around the Midwest on their trips back to visit family; why does all public transportation have to go through Chicago? In Seattle, Derek now works for Microsoft, so he has great perks, but, like millions of others, has to commute across Lake Washington on a single bridge from Seattle to the Microsoft complex.
Natalie & Ethan had a large wedding in summer but now live in Peoria where Natalie works for the Social Security Administration and Ethan works indirectly for Caterpillar. They have a nice small house with lots of pear trees in the back yard which really speak to me.
Eric & Jen K. are going to school in Santa Rosa; Eric has transferred to Sonoma State, is working on a BFA and hoping to get into the MFA program.
Kylie & Josh live here in Carbondale; Kylie just graduated from SIUC, and will probably get a civil service job at the university so that Josh can quit his job at a factory and go back to school.
Justin turned 21 in Kansas in September, where he is a junior at KU; he came home last summer to work at a camp in the same location as his favorite childhood summer camp, but for exceptional children.
Noah, 16, is a junior in high school, and taller now than most of us. He spent a month of the summer at Camp Ben Frankel, where he now works; but this is enough of the summer to make it difficult for him to get a job, thus delaying his driving indefinitely.
Elias, 7, is doing well at a bilingual first grade where he speaks Spanish half of his days; he reads prolifically in English when he gets home. He also plays soccer on local teams and has an active social calendar.
Corey, 3, has become much more verbal, and loves to wear costumes whenever he has a chance. Potty training was big and in the end success came on election day (yes he can!).
Jen has been writing a book, this one about victims’ rights movements, trying to finish quickly before they make her chair of her department.
Tom responds to a grueling schedule by doing pop art and playing music, finding it impossible to read or write much with the piles of papers to grade.
As I write this, another ice storm is blowing in, but this one is much gentler; it probably won’t disrupt life as the three in February did. It’s only a rare one that really shuts things down, and who can predict those? When each one came in spring, we stared out the window unbelieving, seeing mostly what you see on the card, staying home from our schools and reaching back in the cupboards for things to eat. It may not be global warming, coming down to ruin life as we know it, forcing us into a hell of frequent and unpredictable weather fiascos, but may just be the regular severe weather cycles of the Midwest, doing their usual thing and hitting us in our turn. Jen says, of all the places in the Midwest to move, she had to pick one that was not on just one earthquake fault, but maybe several. Usually it’s pretty mild here, but anything can happen; it keeps us on our toes, so to speak, as another winter gets under way, and makes us think of our loved ones, spread far and wide; we wish all happy holidays, & a happy new year!
new year 2008
December 17, 2007
People in towns as small as Carbondale sometimes get started decorating for Christmas as early as October, and by now, the end of December, theyíre done with it; the stores are already bringing out their Valentine candy. But with a week to go, weíre still trying to finish the term and get started, hoping there are still trees left in town (more than once, theyíve run out). We were set back a little- a leaky roof, a sick cat, Tom's fall from a ladder- all came in December- but now, finally, weíd like to take a breath, welcome & introduce three new members of the family, and wish everyone holiday greetings.
The biggest news for us this year is that Jenís three grown children are all now married; weíve given up getting everyone in a single photograph. Justinís turning twenty in France now makes five out of our combined eight in their twenties, and spread out considerably. Details below:
Josie (29) and Derek are happy in Seattle, where she has a post-doc and he works for the man, Bill Gates, in some way or another. We expect them home shortly, but they have a whirlwind social tour whenever they touch ground in the midwest, so we wonít see them long.
Natalie (27) married Ethan Zeman in a civil ceremony in June, promising a bigger one in about a year, and then she started work on a PhD in Administration of Justice at Univ.-Missouri-St. Louis. She and Ethan, however, moved to Peoria, where his job is located and where they have bought a house. Ethan's father is a local math professor; Ethan's a big Illini and Cardinals fan. They have at least the intention of staying in the area; Peoria is about five hours away.
Eric (25) married Jennifer Kruszynski in Santa Rosa, CA on Labor Day weekend; Jen, Eli and Corey represented me and the older boys who had more trouble getting out of school. All reports from the wedding were good; they live in Santa Rosa where Eric goes to school and works. Jennifer is his former karate teacher and they have each won national awards for karate. We wish they were closer in case they produce our first grandchildren.
Kylie (22) married Joshua Brewer in the country between Marion IL and Goreville in November; I can verify that this wedding also was very nice. Good weather, beautiful bride, nice families, well-behaved children, everything seemed to work out. They live in Carbondale though Josh works in Marion; Kylie says she is a "super senior" at SIU, and they also will also probably stay in the area.
Justin (20) spent the semester in Angers, France, in a program sponsored by Univ. of Kansas and a program there; he left in early September and is coming back on Sunday. His youngest brothers miss him dearly. When asked, how is school, he says, fine, and it could be because he forgot his English, or it could be because heís been saying that pretty much for fourteen years. We eagerly await the full report.
Noah (15) has been playing video games, and some tennis, and enjoying a German class. He was Homecoming Prince- we didnít quite know how to take that. As far as we can tell, it didnít go to his head.
Elias (6) entered kindergarten, and that was a pretty big deal, especially since they speak Spanish half the time in this kindergarten, and he has learned that itís a pretty clever trick, for example, to sing the alphabet song in Spanish. Some of his classmates are people heís known all his life; others arenít; itís not the same school his older brothers went to, but it's challenging and interesting for him. He's moved through Cars and Batman, and now is seriously into Pokemon.
Corey (2) has learned to speak, so now we have to explain stuff to him. His older siblings are good at this. He has an active life at his preschool, where he has his own crowd of friends and lots of toys, and becomes immune to various local viruses regularly.
Jen got new administrative duties this year, and Tom suffers from her stress, but it's more likely the workload at SIU than the various weddings; she loves and approves of all the new in-laws. She also loves our new neighborhood and the house, leaky roof and all.
Tom started the year with a computer crash, but a weak dollar and the Saudi mission are keeping the ESL students coming, and it was busy year. The band produced a cd, with a song he wrote on it, but he tried to e-mail it and crashed a mail program and Safari in the process. Upon leaving work a week ago, the computer crashed again, this time more seriously, but, he went home, swept water off the leaky roof, and fell off the ladder coming down, requiring at least a dozen stitches and lots of rest and reflection. The worst thing, besides having to get up and finish grading, was having everyone assume heíd done it hanging Christmas lights..
A beautiful white snow has covered the town, making us wonder if travel arrangements will be difficult; it can be, here, when it snows even a few inches. One of our dogs, Lindy, died this year; she was a golden retriever, she loved this kind of snow, and she loved to wander around the woods. We're grateful that the rest of us are still here, including four cats and another dog, huddling under the remaining roof, but when it snows like this, we imagine her someplace where the snow is always fresh and white, and the woods go on forever. Someplace not too far away, we're sure.
Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year to all!