Come, come again


DSC_0043When the sun is book-ended by cloud
and the kitchen lights are lit by 3,
when long-term plans are
no longer relevant after darkness falls,
when the evening hours outlast your novel,
and tones tint deeper than a glass of red can reach,
pour a bath, light a candle, soak
and say goodnight,
and sleep.

When sons are gone,
and daughters pending plans mean life apart,
when the stranger in your bed is you,
and friends are snowbirds, and birds
of a different feather,
and you cannot remember a particular song
that once called your soul awake,
pour a bath, light a candle, soak
and say goodnight,
and sleep.

When laughter is a needle skip on vinyl,
and joy is what you try to do,
when last week’s inspired thought is vaguely passive,
when mice leave their evidence on the stove,
and the dog paces, paces, with relentless sighs,
and you don’t know what to do, to do,
pour a bath, light a candle, soak
and say good night,
and sleep.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

And Spring, like a shock of hair falling lush
across the pale face of winter,
will come and wake you,
melt ice tears from your silent waiting eyes,
and kiss your forehead warm lipped like a lover,
and you will rise, dance barefoot
in the garden on smoldering grasses,
yes, you will dance again in golden dusk light come,
come again, yes, come.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones ~ Of Bugs and Bones, Part 2.


Dry-BonesCoincidence is the term used to describe two events which unexpectedly occur together in a way that makes one wonder if this is chance and simple happenstance, or is there a hand.  John Terpstra, Skin Boat ~ Acts of Faith and Other Navigations

The following year, after my first encounter with a ladybug at Seton House of Prayer, I returned to the retreat centre for what was becoming my spiritual practice of solitude and silence. I left the busyness of my daily routine, and, for a day, invited God into the silence, into the inner room of my heart. I have not yet found my journal from that visit to confirm the precise date, but my experience that day remains indelibly etched into my psyche.

In planning my time of solitude, I gathered my journal and pen, my Bible, spiritual books I was currently reading, my camera, some lunch, some layers in case the weather turned, a plain wooden box with an inscription, “Buddy ~ Forever Faithful, Forever At Rest,” and Buddy’s old collar. I carried a painful weight of loss. Buddy, my companion and muse, my gorgeous German Short Haired Pointer, had died not long before. I was not moving past his void in my life, and I thought I might be able to bring Buddy to Seton House, release his ashes there, and in that find some release for my deep sadness, find some solace from the God who again felt so distant to me.

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I drove to Seton House, unpacked my car, and moved into the Poustinia for the day, alone, with Buddy.

By now my solitude practice had widened to include several ways of contemplative and prayerful being, the stations of the cross, several walks with niches and statues of saints, a lovely woodland altar where one day I came upon a doe resting, a labyrinth, and a small chapel at the top of the property. I quietened myself in the Poustinia, fed by the views of my natural surroundings, read some scripture, prayed, journaled, and then took a walk to the chapel.

I felt broken, empty, so placing my body prostrate on the floor of the old chapel felt right to me, to lay myself down in a response of surrender to God and to my feelings, there, in an old wooden chapel, with a plain altar, and embraced by the forest beyond. I lay myself down. And when I opened my eyes and looked around me, I saw dozens of dead ladybugs.

My sharp intake of breath, as in the next thought vicious words drove into my mind;

This is you, Lesley-Anne! Dead. Empty. Dried up like these dead ladybugs. You are not worthy of flight. You are not who you thought you were. Rise up… I don’t think so. You aren’t going anywhere.

No, no, I cried. Tears, running down my face. No, that’s a lie! God does not speak this way. I am not dead or dried up. I am sad, mourning, and that does not disqualify me from anything. I recognized the darkness, the lies of the enemy of my soul. Thank you God that I recognized who spoke.

But I was shaken. I quickly left the chapel, made my way back to the Poustinia, as these thoughts, jumbled but memories of a certain story came to my mind;

And God took his servant to a mighty valley, full of dry bones, and he asked the man, can these bones live? (My own paraphrase and just enough to send me back to my bible with hunger to learn how God can make dead things live.)

For the next two hours I poured…poured over the scripture verses I found in the book of Ezekiel, poured out my deep anguish and despair over the death of my sweet dog, and the death of my spirit because of his loss. And I felt God asking me the same questions as were asked the prophet of old, And He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, You know! And in me a shift, a realization, a revelation, something opening me to the answer within my pain. God knew how he might take my loss and turn it from death to life again. So I prayed it out, anguished out a surrender of whatever was going to come from my pain, and I thanked him for my dog, for the love I had experienced, and I thanked him that he could make my dry, broken, mourning bones live again.

And then, my time was over, and I packed up my things, and I went back down the mountain, with everything I took up. And the plain wooden box with the ashes of my precious Buddy remain unreleased, instead gathered, to my bedside table.

And change comes, and life comes, more pain, more loss, more dry bones transformed.

My journey continues, and the mystery of ladybugs returns from time to time,

chance and simple happenstance, or is there a hand?” “You can decide for yourself if…[these events] together have meaning or are only interesting but ultimately random coincidence of events. If you decide they do have meaning this does not imply you know what that meaning is.” John Terpstra ~ Skin Boat

Like last week…but that’s another story.

On the way,

Lesley-Anne

P.S. If you missed Part 1 of this story, see Of Bugs and Bones, Part 1.

Life is a prayer, and God hears yours.


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Bench with a view, Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA.

It’s been 82 posts since I started my prayer blog… my online prayer journal. And I tell you this because what I will tell you next might surprise you. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel any closer or further away from God. What I feel is a more relaxed way of being. I now feel quite natural about writing God a note that could be an angry outburst or a thank you. But I don’t feel like I’ve tapped into a deeper way, nor do I feel enlightened. I just feel more… dare I say… peaceful, about it. And I thank God for that.

Prayer has haunted me since I was a young adult. In fact, one of my big hang ups leading me away from the church and faith was prayer… how one could justify whatever the outcome of prayer as a yes, a no, or a maybe. That really bugged me… God didn’t bug me, but the way people approached prayer did. I found prayer inconclusive, not to be trusted, and without proof. So, I walked away.

Fast forward 15 years to when I became a mom and with that life change came a renewed interest in the faith. That began a process of years of establishing a new way of living my life with God, healing the old painful ways, and acknowledging God in my life choices. But prayer, I stumbled over it, was embarrassed by it, was overwhelmed by feelings of prayer inadequacy. Did I believe prayer worked? Yes, but I also knew I was walking a thin line where I hesitated to ask for much, and remained privately understated when answers came. Did I have faith… yes. But prayer confused me, upset me, eluded me.

I have always hesitated when someone asks me to pray, I still do. I know me too well. Not only do I struggle with prayer, but I also forget. How can I have integrity in what I say if I make promises and don’t keep them. So, I am very conservative about offering to pray, and when I’m asked, I usually make a point of writing a prayer down right then and there so they know and I know I really did pray for them.

I’ve learned over the years that prayer and trouble with prayer is part of my life. When I try to have a dedicated prayer time, it’s hard. I get distracted. So I try to pray as things happen. If something comes to mind, I mention it to God. If something bugs me, I get it off my chest. If something is amazing, I say so. I’ve written my prayers. I’ve taken large chunks of time away to work through things with God in what could be called prayerful encounters. I’ve found God in nature and in music and in poetry and in people. And my response to any and all of these is, in my opinion, prayer. I still don’t ask for much, and I still need to put more emphasis on asking God to forgive me for all the stuff that stacks up in my heart. I can be a hoarder like that.

My prayer blog is just another way of living in conversation with God, God as purpose and passion and for and because. I want God in my life, in the details. And I want to share my thoughts and concerns with him because I believe that’s what he wants too. God loves me, therefore he cares about all the silly, angry, jumping for joy words I speak to him. And he has things to say back… but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

I share all this with you because maybe you are a bit like me, maybe you wonder and stumble and feel like a square peg in a round hole about prayer, and I’m here to say God knows and he doesn’t have a checklist for must do prayer this precise way. The Lord’s prayer (Jesus answer to his followers when they asked him how to pray) is found HERE the gospels, and is the ultimate prayer guide we can revisit often. But I believe there are other ways to talk with God. God is creative and open to your own creative way of welcoming him into your life, in the language that you understand.

Life is a prayer… and God hears yours.

Lesley-Anne, SDG

Stan, a story.


DSC_0120Stan

This story is dedicated to my neighbour Stan, who I didn’t know well, but enough.

In the end one of two things happen, you are either filled up or emptied out. Or maybe a wee bit of both. The culmination of the long race of life, and the finish line finally looming up ahead and you having no choice but to cross over, happens to all of us, or will happen, some day.

Stan was no different. 86 years old and 50 of those years spent in the same yellow bungalow with his wife. Apple trees out back, the old clothes line, the perennial garden lining the frontage clearly visible from the picture window where they sat most days, looking out at the world. I’d walk by with the dog, look up and find them looking back. I’d wave and Stan would always nod, not a wave, but an acknowledgement that went deeper.

His wife had one of those debilitating diseases, the ones that take and take and take until there isn’t much left. He cared for her at home, built a wheel chair ramp from the front path up to the door stoop, and kept his vow to love her in sickness or in health, until death. She died, her body emptied out of most things, including some dignity, and the pretty curve of flesh over bone, and her ability to do the personal things that he did for her. But full of his love, I somehow know that even though I can’t prove it is true. I noticed her absence before I knew for sure she was gone, saw him sitting alone in the window, her empty chair.

If Stan was ever outside his house puttering, he’d come over and chat to me. Just before Christmas one year as we were talking at the end of his driveway, I made an appointment with him, told him we’d be out caroling with our family and friends in a couple of nights time and would he be home? He said, “Yes, yes, you come by. I love to sing.” So we did. We detoured around to his place, me walking ahead and wondering if he’d actually be there. As if he had someplace more important to be than home. He was there. He opened the door, nodded to me, and then he stepped out onto the stoop and as we gathered around and began to sing, he closed his eyes and sang out in a strong and clear tenor voice. He knew all the words by heart. He stayed there and sang another carol with us until I was worried he’d catch his death of cold. “Merry Christmas, Stan,” I said. “Merry Christmas,” he replied. “And, thank you,” he said, as he opened the screen door and went back inside to his solitary life.

I never saw a for sale sign, just noticed subtle changes around the place, including a different vehicle in the driveway. I wondered if Stan had died. One day I was filling up my truck at the Petro Can and there he was, pumping gas into his car. “Hey there,” I said, “how are you?” He looked up at me, took a moment and said, “Well hello, I’ve moved.” “I was wondering about that,” I said, “I haven’t seen you around your place.” “I’ve moved into a Senior’s apartment,” he said, “it’s easier that way. I can get meals if I want them, and I don’t have to worry much about anything else.” “Good seeing you,” I said. “I just turned 86,” he said, “it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” I smiled. He nodded and went back to pumping gas.

The yellow house was knocked down a few weeks back. A new bigger foundation is in its place. It turns out I know who bought the old place. Another neighbour who knew Stan for years and saw the potential, the beautiful lot, the proximity to the beach. He and his wife tried to live in Stan’s old house for a few months. But it was too much for them, too many quirks. “There’s no insulation in it,” he tells me. “I had to cut a hole in the wall and stuff in an air conditioner last summer, it was that hot.” In the winter they noticed a problem with the plumbing, called Stan up, they knew him well enough to do that, just to ask him if he’d ever noticed anything. “Oh that,” he said, “If it gets below -10 you have to take a kettle of hot water and pour it over the step. Not the top step, but the next one down. And if it gets more than -20, sometimes it takes 2 kettles.” He’d lived like that for over 50 years, making adjustments, doing what needed to be done.

Stan died just before Christmas. Last thing I heard he was having stomach troubles. They found him in his apartment, sitting in his favourite chair, the same one I saw through the picture window in his old house. Stan had a stomach ulcer. He sat down one night and stayed there while he slowly bled to death. I hope he went without pain, but knowing Stan, he would have done something if it was necessary.

There are two ways in the end, either you are emptied out or filled up. Sometimes disease or other tragedy comes and takes everything, sometimes it happens quickly and way before you are ready to let go. But sometimes if you are lucky, the ending happens gradually over many years, your whole body filling up with life. And then perhaps you are almost ready to go, having done the best you can and almost everything you had in mind to do.

by Lesley-Anne Evans

Should you wish to share this story or any other posting here at Buddy Breathing, please do so by asking permission of the author, me. Thank you. And thank you for reading.

Recommendations…


DSC_0558I’ve been otherwise occupied, obvious from the date of my last post. I’m sorry. Not much in the way of blogging, or even new poetry writing. But a rich time of learning the history of epic poetic genius, and growing into new word pursuits presenting to me in my community. Awe-struck by it all.

Here are a few things I recommend to you in my latent absence, or in the intent of a poetic line/seed poem that is rooting itself in my brain, in the commendation of sparrows and lesser things;

1. John Donne ~ Holy Sonnets, specifically Death Be Not Proud.

2. Wit ~ Play by Margaret Edson, screen adaptation, starring Emma Thompson.

3. BBC Documentary on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

4. Take a course, push outside the comforting constraints of current circles, learn.

5. Self-knowledge. Dig in. Unearth. Make adjustments.

6. Forgive. Often.

7. Dive into Life. Abandon yourself. That most often requires slowing down.

That’s all my friends.

With love,

Lesley-Anne

Poem for a sunny Saturday afternoon


A predisposition to dark thoughts and negative thinking

Sad and worried old woman

Sad and worried old woman (Photo credit: SalFalko)

I’m convinced there are two types of people in the world

maybe more, at least two. Those who are care-full

glass barely at the half, wearing the gaze of others like a brand sear

the turning of heads like a slap, words spoken or withheld

a sieve with wide holes, draining.

And those who don’t.

(And if this is not true, please stop telling me

you don’t care what others think, stop saying

the world is tinted pink.) Please.

Because the rest of us, we do try

to begin with positive intent, wide mouths

and hearts open in rooms of strangers, for a fleeting hour

feel we’ve got it, found it, sweet notes lingering on

our tongues. We sing, sway tentatively to a song

we know we’ve heard some place before

then doubt what we did, what we saw, what we heard

wake tormented.  Should, could, didn’t do

walk weighted. Long for the lightness

of another world view. The one with the

all things working and all shall be well,

that view, fade to grey.

As if we wouldn’t choose

(our perception of) an easy burden

a way of sloughing off, dancing on, head high.

As if we clench our troubled thoughts in careful fingers

like small candles, barely lit enough

to cast a shadow as we shuffle home.

p.s.


Corn Snow

Corn Snow (Photo credit: ronsipherd)

Are you seeking God? I am. And I don’t think the seeking ever stops. God, to me, is kind of like a taste of something so good you want more, but when you have more, it’s still not enough. And then there are the times you can’t find God at all. And people might say, well, that’s because you moved, not God. Even so, you can’t hear or see him. Like the way the clouds put a lid over the Okanagan Valley, and you begin to wonder if the sun is really there, or ever was there, even though it was here just last summer for an extended stay. And then, the sun comes out! My relationship with God is like that. Is yours?

I went to church (a building at Spall and Springfield) yesterday for the first time in several weeks. I’ve struggled getting there, wanting to be there, making excuses why I couldn’t go and even did some digging beneath that to the real reasons why. They weren’t pretty or even rational, but they were a place to start. Last Sunday I spent some time at the church at Sarsons beach (a concrete table with a lake view) and there I worked through my excuses and some tearful asks of God, starting with asking him to forgive me for the ugly stuff in my head and heart.

I’m not saying going to church need be a marker for you, but for me it somehow is. To not go, means something. And to go, means something. Usually, if I ask God, and if I go listening and looking, I come away with some plain truth. Or something. A word. Or a sentence. Or just a feeling that my heart is a little more tender towards God and his kids that I am with day in and day out, beginning with God’s kids in this house.

So, yesterday I came home from church recognizing what…? Well, I guess recognizing that the message from the text in Romans 7 is applicable to me. That my struggle is like every man’s struggle with wanting to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing instead. That being a christian is not like taking a magic pill and having a wonderful life. It’s just not. That life is hard and bad things happen and christians like me do not have all the answers. And recognizing that setting time aside to sing and worship and listen and learn and thank and press the restart button is a good thing. Always a good thing, for me.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7, 24-25

How ironic that just a couple of hours later I was so angry at one of God’s kids living under this roof that I stomped upstairs to my room, slammed the door, cussed and stomped some more, and then returned to the kitchen to emphasize my mood with clanging of pots and banging of dishes. Amazing how noisy cooking can get when your mood is involved! Another one of God’s kids reminded me that I should maybe calm down. All this over my inability to pause, to consider, to put down my way and allow a suggestion of another way, just as valid and workable and better than mine.

Why do I tell you all this? I guess because I never, never, ever, want to give the impression of being anything I’m not. Maybe I might come across as having answers or even having the answer to a specific situation. That’s so not true. I have an opinion, I have a suggestion, I have lessons I have learned. That is all.

I know I’m repeating what I shared a few posts back, but I just want to make sure you hear me say the only hope here is God variety hope. God hope. Jesus hope. That’s it. I don’t offer anything else lasting.

So, does my position on giving ‘answers’ mean there are no absolutes? Absolutely not. But I will not sacrifice relationships for “being right” any more. I will present what I believe is true, and I will try to do so with kindness, with love. If you ask me hard questions, chances are I will not have a prepared shiny answer for you. I’m not gifted in apologetics. I’m not a critic. I might suggest you read something. I might suggest you talk with someone. If God would use my life and this blog to say something, then I am humbled by that. Greatly humbled.

God is what matters. God is interested in you. God wants to answer your questions, so, seek God out in the myriad of ways you can find him. It may be in the fullness of the natural world. It may be in music, or in the arts, or in a church, or in people. In serving, or giving, or learning, or solitude and silence.

Saturday I sat outside as the sun pulled back the clouds and shone it’s warmth on my face. I picked up a handful of snow, somewhat melting and compacted into little snow balls turning into ice balls… corn snow, I believe it’s called. And I held it there, sun glinting off the surfaces like little mirrors and I thought of those little balls of snow ice, how cold the melting in my warm hand, and what a sensual God, God is. How we can find him with our ears, our eyes, our fingers and our tongues… how everything is a miracle.

How the fullness of God, God glory, is waiting to be found in everything.

Tell me, where have you found God?

SDG, Lesley-Anne

For me, myself and I…


Some days I just need to hear myself repeat out loud and in ink the things that are good, so that I can actually believe it. And maybe the more I speak the truth, the more it is absorbed into my heart, mind and soul, to take the place of the sadness, the weight of living. Today is such a day.

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422. His ankle is sprained, not broken.

423. He is almost home… hang on just a few more hours.

424. The game was cancelled. I don’t have to drive in the dark and the snow tonight.

425. The man with the crutch who was there early and offered him the crutch… divine appointment.

426. They care so much for our kids at the school. So, so much.

427. He made us lunch. He made chicken noodle soup. It was so good.

428. There is blue out there… enough to make a shirt.

429. Hugs… nothing like them.

430. A gift under her tree for me.

431. Looking in your eyes. Seeing you looking back.

432. Christmas choral music… Messiah… sigh…

433. Twinkle lights.

434. I love you to infinity and beyond!

435. He tells me he is thankful for my baking and my cooking.

436. The apples clinging to the orchard trees in the dead of winter.

437. Silly movies… very silly movies. Laughter…

438. Realizing it’s about me listening, obeying, not the outcome.

439. Sharing the crosswalk with a sweet older lady… a brief conversation.

440. Saying sorry… getting nothing in return. Being OK with that.

441. Rest. Allowing myself rest.

442. Everything matters.

443. Everything is grace.

444. Thank you, Anne Voskamp, for getting me started. For lifting up my chin, whispering into my heart, affirming the need to speak thanks into being, for the miracles that happen. Thank you, dear Anne.  Perhaps one day we will cross paths this side of heaven?

445. A cup of tea as darkness falls…

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

midweek random ramble 023


emmy eyes1. A shout out and blogacious thank you to Robert Rife, author of the insightful blog Innerwoven and frequent forays into poetry at Rob’s Lit Bits (check both out, especially Rob’s transparent and vulnerable life story which he posts in segments, called “From Earth to Sky”). Mr. Rob Rife generously included Buddy Breathing in his list of “cool blogs”. Well, Mr. Rife, you are too cool for school too! And a great big thank you!

2. A beautiful boy named Jordan Unrau left this earth last week to be with Jesus. Jordan attended Kelowna Christian School with two of our kids. He was just 15. I can’t imagine what his family is facing now, what they have experienced in the past year, and yet there is so much more than pain in their story. Here is their blog called Jordan’s Healing, which contains the most profound expressions of faith I have ever encountered.

3. Decking my halls with a girlfriend is a brilliant idea. No more feeling sorry for myself that the family is less interested in the process than the result. No more pity. All light, all joy, all music and eggnog and girly conversation, and a beautiful end product that everyone can enjoy!

4. Started watching “Touch” on Netflix. Becoming attached to the character of Jake, and wondering what the world might look like through his eyes… if there is documented proof of ‘seeing’ in the way that is portrayed in the show? Might wonder only be visible to some? Hmmm…check it out. And, according to this article, Season 2 will be released Feb. 8, 2013.

5. I finally bought my airline tickets! I’m attending a workshop with poet Patrick Lane, on Vancouver Island, in January. I’m feeling a little scared and giddy at the same time. To learn from Patrick will be a landmark and a huge honour. To share my work with him, will take courage.

6. Facebook… I have to say I miss you once in awhile, but not as often as I thought I might. I’ve done great and wonderful things without you. Like, thinking without interruptions to post thoughts, fixing things around the house, organizing things around the house. writing, special projects, seasonal preparations, connecting with real people in real life, and I’m surviving just fine thank you very much. Still, I do like you Facebook, you just have this way of sucking the time out of me. Maybe it’s just me, but I think a little bit of you goes a long way. Maybe we’ll catch up again in January.

In all things, somehow grace enough.

Lesley-Anne SDG

midweek random ramble 022


It’s been a long time since I’ve rambled here… ranted, yes, but not rambled. So here goes, with seasonal thoughts of Christmas and snow and cold and inside warmth and preparing and stressing and singing and holiness and awe and wonder and sweet and varied moments with family and friends, all on my mind:

Frosty Footpath - winter snow

Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

1. overheard in the front hallway, “Well mom, are you trying to be in style, or to have your own individual style? hmmm… was there a commentary in there somewhere?

2. overheard in the car, “That’s just my old man strength.”

3. overheard on the airwaves through out the house, 24/7 Christmas tunes coming at us on the net… have you ever checked out the abundant free music available online?

4. so the local soccer supply store burned down the other night. We have had such great service from the manager there who always finds us the right fit and a good deal. I sure hope they find a way to open up again before too long. We’re so sorry Soccer X-Press!

5. sent out my first Christmas package by mail to family back east… but I still feel slightly disorganized and lacking in ideas… perhaps a little pinterest coupled with a good google search might inspire and help me with some new and creative gift ideas? After all, no stress, it’s still November right?

6. trying to increase the amount of veggies and fruits and reduce the amount of meat and carbs isn’t easy in a family where teens are hungry every 2 hours… just what do I feed them to fill them up?

7. loving the way Okanagan College offers personal attention to it’s students.

8. mandarin oranges, japanese varieties, miniature varieties, chinese varieties… many varieties are in stores now. Yummm!!!

9. Advent, meaning “arrival’ is something we have adopted into our family tradition. Four Sundays leading up to Christmas are rich with potential for celebrating the Advent… the pending arrival of baby Jesus, the promise of the returning Christ, and the incarnation (the God with us) in our lives. Did you know that Advent historically involved fasting, doing without in varying degrees leading up to the 25th, so when the big Christmas feast came at last, there was a renewed appreciation of the abundant favour and blessing of God.  I like that. The tasting and seeing that God is good.

10. seeking ways to inject my life/our lives with meaning is something I am always on the lookout for… so do you have any ideas for meaning-filled Christmas activities, any stories to share?

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio (Photo credit: dok1)

11. planning and anticipating carolling with family and friends… and the faint possibility that it just might snow while we are walking around the neighbourhood from door to door. Yep, I’m sentimental.

Peace, abundant peace,

Lesley-Anne SDG