Thursday: The Depths of Sadness

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When Father Mark Brian, arrived at Kingcome Village, on the Up Coast of British Columbia, and met the indigenous population that lived there, he did not know, what he did not know, until he learned what he did not know, until he learned it.

One of those “things” he did not know, at first, is why, every time he looked at one of his “people” because they were his people, the sheep in his flock, there was no pretension about him, no ego to boost, no needs to be filled, he had to “come to know them,” as they were, as God would have had it, all along, that one thing was “The Depth of Sadness” that was in the eyes of all the Indians of Kingcome Village.

If you have never read Margaret Craven’s, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, I highly recommend you find a copy.

Tonight, I heard one of our women speak, for the first time, in our meeting. She has been sober a long time, almost twenty-five years. She came in, in her twenties, but the road to sobriety was LONG and ARDUOUS.

In the beginning we all laughed with her. Midway into the story, I stopped breathing. I could not take a breath, for the life of me. I was sitting on the edge of my chair, holding my breath, just waiting for the miracle to take place.

Because she really needed a miracle.

When we begin to drink, we do not know what we do not know. If we continue to drink and add drugs to that mix, there is certainly, MORE, that we do not know.

Not listening to warnings, or following rules, and doing everything that one can to circumvent the rule of good, sane, human behavior, is going to lead us into a jackpot that can’t possibly be escaped.

Bad friends, Bad boys, illicit behavior, drugs and alcohol do not have very good endings. I know this, from my own personal experience.

My friend tonight, had the jackpot of everything that was bad, in her life. Because she did not know, what she did not know.

We do stupid things in our youth, and many, do not survive their mistakes. I did stupid things in my youth, to Todd’s credit, and by the Grace of God, I did survive my past.

When a bad boy, becomes a bad marriage, what is the logical ending of this very bad scenario ? A BABY WILL MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER …

Hell, let’s keep drinking and drugging, have one healthy baby, born without a problem, and let’s add another baby …

Bring into this really serious bad situation, a couple of attempts to sober up, that fail, and four months into a second pregnancy, the husband activates an intervention.

Mom is now CIRCLING the DRAIN …

What, I don’t have a problem. IT’S ALL HIS FAULT …

Can you see where this is going ?

Pregnant, addicted and insane, people begin to PRAY for her second baby to be born healthy. Mom cannot, for the life of her, understand WHY her friends are praying for her baby, because in her words, She Did Not Have a Problem …

Luckily, amid this point she hits rehab, again. And walks through the doors, only to turn around and say to us, “Don’t you know who I am ?”

  • I don’t do rules
  • I don’t pay bills
  • I don’t pay rent, and I sure as shit
  • DON’T TAKE THE BUS …

How do you imagine this is going to end ? Not well, as I was hearing this story.

Still sitting on the edge of my chair, and not breathing, I had not noticed I was holding my breath, until the Miracle happened.

The right woman walked into our woman’s life and took her in, homeless, hungry, drunk and high, void of emotion, having lost her husband AND her children, she had no place to go.

My friend learned about rules, via the suggestions. She learned how to pay bills, by attaining welfare, thereby being able to pay her rent, TO this SOBER Woman. And she went to meetings.

Her sponsor told her to hit ninety in ninety. And better yet, take a newcomer chip every day for the first thirty days.

Back in the day … Her day, and back in my day … when we got sober, suggestions were not suggestions, per se, they were life savers. You either did them or you didn’t, because if you did not do as you were told, sobriety would never happen for us hard-headed, arrogant, entitled men and women some of us are, when we came into the rooms.

Newcomers today scoff every time we mention suggestions to them. They would rather eat dirt, then put forth the energy and commitment to the work sobriety entails, if you really want Top Drawer Sobriety.

The Miracle began to happen.

My friend did exactly what she was told to do, like I did, what I was told to do, from the very first day. Next April, by the grace of God, she will hit Twenty Five Years Clean and Sober.

Her kids, now in their twenties, never saw mom drunk. They were too young when she finally took her last drink. One of her sons, recently, asked mom to accompany him to pick out an engagement ring for his now fiancee …

Most women, in the rooms, could not possibly get how incredible this little act is, unless you have kids, that you were able to keep, having not lost them, indefinitely, due to your alcoholism and drug addiction.

Most of the women I know, lost big, having lost those miracles we call children.

But our woman, tonight, has the husband, who was there at the intervention, and she has her kids, THREE KIDS, now in their twenties, in tact.

Happy, Joyous and Free.

As she closed her share, I remembered to breathe. And I noticed my friends sitting to my right hand side, had also stopped breathing at some point.

I knew, for the very first time, in all my years of sobriety, those words that Mark Brian had to figure out for himself …

The Depths of Sadness, in his people’s eyes.

What he did not know, is what we all do not know, when we come in, until we hear another drunk, tell their story to us.

The Depth of Sadness …

Thank God for the rooms, and SOME of the people in them.

Monday: It’s COLD outside

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We are sitting at a freakish (-10c/w.c. -14c) It is bitterly cold. The first cold snap that has fallen on the city this season. People are in serious denial. On my travels tonight, I heard many of my friends say that they dressed for minor cold, this morning, because it was a bit warmer than it is at this hour. Temps dropped throughout the day and we arrived at the -10c by the meeting hour.

Folks were not properly dressed for COLD.

I had shopped for my Winter wardrobe a couple of weeks ago. I was prepared to brave the cold, as I see just what I can get away with “looks wise” with the proper layering and shoes.

The march towards the holidays has begun. The tree will go up later this week, as we need to shop for new lights and ornaments.

It snowed over the last 2 nights, and there is a fine sheen of ice covering the sidewalks around town. On the way out, climbing the hill from Place des Arts Metro station was a chore. People were slipping and sliding instead of having purchase of their boots.

We read from The Big Book on Monday nights. This evenings fare covered the topic of anger and resentment. Both, the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics, anger and resentment can kill us, or more likely, a stint with a bottle or two.

We’ve been circling around the inventory steps for a while now. Reading the before or after portions of the read, where the inventory is concerned.

This past summer I worked my last round of steps with my Spiritual Directors. The read tonight, mentions that if we hold resentments within, we rob ourselves of being in “The Sunlight of the Spirit.” And whatever we do not expose to the light, remains in the dark, for as long as life remains hidden.

This last pass at my steps I learned that I had to expose all of my resentments, because I had been holding back, a few tactical stones in my arsenal. Those stones, hanging on in my back pack were becoming too cumbersome and I had to let them go, in order to move forwards with my life.

I want my day in court. I want words to be spoken to me, because I was not the cause of all my families problems. People make choices in life, and that’s the truth. What happened when people made those choices, resulted in my conception and subsequent birth. I had nothing to do with those choices.

My parents like to say that I am the cause of all of their problems.

I’m not.

They owe me words. Apologies. Forgiveness.

I will never get that from them, and they will go to their graves, bitter and resentful. That has nothing to do with me, in the end. it is all about them and not me.

Being totally spiritually free is the key to sober success.

It has taken almost the whole of my sobriety to get here.

And it is about time.

Friday: Prisons

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There are those who suffer within prisons of their own making. In some cases, society has also built a wall around you.

“Therefore, when you members come into the world of A.A. on the outside, you can be sure that no one will care a fig that you have done time. What you are trying to BE – not what you WERE – is all that counts with us.”

Very few people, in today’s rooms, have experience with bringing a meeting Inside the walls of a prison. In the first years of sobriety for me, I participated in bringing meetings inside the prisons here in Montreal. If you have never reached beyond your comfort zone of safe and sober rooms, you are missing out on an experience that will change your life.

The topics of Prison, Suffering, Adversity, Sobriety, were on many minds tonight.

We all have our stories. And every story is important. Our stories, in the rooms are still being written.

A good friend of mine says that, once we relent, and say, We’ve had enough of existing in the prisons of our own making, and we accept the promise of what the book offers, a Spiritual Solution, that WILL change our lives, if we only allow the process to do its work.

Not many people want what we have to offer them. Many still battle within their own heads. Believing that they are good, that everything is just fine, as long as they “cut down” the drink or the drugs.

The holidays are upon us. The time of greatest misery for many in the rooms. Because we can’t just have ONE and be DONE. And hour upon hour the television shows us just what good a time the world is having around us, drinking and celebrating the season of goodness and gift giving.

This is the hardest time to get sober. I got sober in the month of December. it was not a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. But I persisted. And I won this round.

And in not so long, I will celebrate 16 years sober.

We’ve all experienced the furnace of life lessons. Even in sobriety.

Life is a furnace that continually tests us to make sure we earn our metal.

It gets better.

Yesterday my best friend went to work, having experienced a few days of down in the dumps drama and stress, got on his knees in the office and prayed.

Within an hour of those prayers being said to the Power Greater than Himself, his phone rang, and on the other end was the help he so needed and prayed for.

I told him, He had the number, he used it and called, and help arrived.

Just in time. As needed.

Help will always come when it is asked for.

 

Memory in Time – Thanksgiving

How the Grinch Stole Christmas courtesy Cartoon Network

“Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go …”

Tonight I heard a friend say about recovery, “I’m not sure what I really wanted to ‘recover’ from my past, but when I was drinking, at certain points, there was some fun, but that eroded away very quickly, after the first drink.” He went on to say that “there may have been a time in our past that we connect to in a way, we don’t connect to others, maybe that’s where recovery of time begins.”

I always hold dear a place and time in my mind’s eye. I go there often, because my visual of that location is clear and present.  The house in my memory is long gone now. The land was razed, the trees chopped down, and land appropriated by the drinking establishment next door, has shrunk the old family plot by half.

The house now exists only in my memory. Holiday’s were born in the homes of grandparents and aunts and uncles. I don’t have memories, young memories, of any place other than the homestead in my mind’s eye.

Later on, as I grew up, those memories are more fluid. Because as I grew up, we made family memories in the homes we inhabited later on. Holiday’s were special, as long as family cared for and loved each other. As soon as the “us versus them” reared its ugly head, memories became painful to remember.

And all I want to do is FORGET !

At a point in the timeline, there were three families who shared holiday cooking responsibilities. The biggest house, could hold the most people, so it became my step mother who provided the bulk of my teen age holiday’s.

Thanksgiving usually began early in the morning, with brunch at home, with the yearly Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The turkey would be in the oven by lunch time and the requisite football games would begin. So would the drinking.

Depending on the house picked for the dinner, people would begin to gather in great numbers, the open bar was a welcome event for all, the kids included, because my parent preferred that we drank at home, it was even encouraged.

At my step mothers house, the kids always ate at the kids table, off the kitchen, while we were younger. As we grew up, we would find our places at the adult table. That little kitchen table has many memories attached to it. But it was with great fanfare when we found ourselves seated with the adults for dinner, with adult conversation and the requisite adult drinking.

There was never a bad memory made at any dinner table. It was what happened after that dinner that was the problem. My father, the hateful man he was, every time we sat to eat a meal, would cringe at those seated at the very same table. Those “homosexuals” just made him sick. Add to that the fact that I could carry on a decent conversation with said homosexuals made my father’s blood boil.

Upon arriving home, he would beat me senselessly to make sure he beat the gay out of me, upon every occasion of sitting around that particular table.

Years would pass, as the abuse was heaped on me. Until one eventful Christmas, after I was diagnosed and headed for death, at my parents home in Sarasota, that my father humiliated me in front of all the guests at a Christmas dinner, that I vowed, then and there, never to darken my parents door or any table for any holiday ever after.

Twenty two years have passed since that memorable day. I remember it like it was yesterday, because the very next day, the family who sat at that very table and witnessed my humiliation, hosted me on their boat. And I explained what had happened and why.

I am not sure my parents kept that friendship going after that event. But there is the empty chair at their table now. I do not know what is worse, “Knowing you pushed a son away from home from that table intentionally, or that every year, the memory of me still exists in the minds of everyone who sits at that table. Or does it ?

Do they remember me ? Do they care ? Probably not. The last words my mother said to me many months ago, like the litany she spoke for years …

You were a mistake that should never have been born.

Nobody cares that I am not there, because to this day, nobody has come looking for me. We are not getting any younger, and in the idealistic part of my brain, I see adults coming to their senses and realistically, one day, that table would be full.

Alas, there is no love. So no love lost.

But those memories of the time I would recover for myself exist in my mind’s eye and in my heart, because it was there that love was born. True love. True compassion. True family connections that no living person can take from me, because those memories exist within me.

When I moved to Montreal almost seventeen years ago, I came with the hope of recovering memories connected to the maternal side of my family. I have a friend, Nigel, who is part of my recovery circle. Whom tonight, I handed a copy of the maternal family tree that goes back to the 1600’s.

We are hoping that his family tree, is, in some way, connected to mine. We shall see in the coming weeks, as they pour over the document I provided him with at the meeting.

Holiday’s are sacred times to build memory, to pay respect to those who came and went before us, to remember, those who gave us life and BEGAN holiday memories for us, while we were still too young to care or to know better of memory.

Grammy, Memere, Aunty Paula and all the other family who built the first memories for me, in their houses, are top of mind tonight. I remember you.

Holidays are a time for family and for love and for making memories.

Go Make Memories …

If they cannot be made for you, then start your own tradition in your own homes.

Do not go someplace that will only bring you misery and pain, and push you to want to forget than to remember.

Saturday: Brand NEW I-Phone 5S

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Last night, I went up to the church to set up. Had my music cranked, and my phone stuck in the waistband of my tights. Never a good idea.

At one point, my phone fell out of my pants and hit the stone floor, face down. Then it went BLACK. Big, Very Big BOO BOO.

I could not get it to turn back on. So I plugged the charger into the wall, and I got juice. I charged it for the hour we were sitting. When I unplugged the phone from the charger, the battery was ZERO.

Got on the bus, then to the Metro station, where I plugged my phone in, on the platform, to try to get juice. NO JOY !

Came home, plugged it into the wall, and Apple sent out an emergency update for the I-Phone X because of unresponsive touch pad and cold weather tweaks. The phone took the update and went on a feedback loop of on and off, on and off.

I was up half the night.

I went grocery shopping at 7 am in the morning, because IGA is open at 7 am on weekends. I never shop at 7 am. Went to McDonalds for breakfast. Came home, grabbed my phone and headed back to the mall to the Telus store.

They told me I had to go to the Apple Store for a diagnostic, which was free. I had an hour to kill before the 10 am opening.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Santa Claus Parade was cranking up to start at noon. Kids all over, screaming wining kids, in the bitter cold.

Got to the Apple Store with minutes to spare. Wanted to get there at the crack of opening to guarantee me a spot in line. Because there was a line, in the end.

Met with an advisor. Told him my predicament.

My I Phone 5S was a rehab unit hubby bought me last Christmas.

Did not tell them that.

They took my poor little phone in for major surgery. I needed to kill an hour waiting. Went for coffee, took in the Ogilvy Christmas Window and watched some parade goers on the sidewalk.

I got back into the line upstairs.

The tech guy said that the face plate of my phone had become detached from the phone, and that they believed it was the battery that had either exploded in the phone or was dislodged. In any case, they did not open the phone, nor attempt to repair it.

THE GOOD THING ABOUT THAT IS …

They were going to make me buy a brand new phone at $350.00.

But the tech had a brainy idea. He did some typing on his I Pad, and looked at me confidently. He said that if they opened the phone and YES, the battery had exploded, it would contaminate the repair department, thereby the whole store would have to be evacuated because of safety reasons.

Which is why they did not open it to begin with.

Apple has a guarantee that if a safety issue arose with a phone, that they would REPLACE said phone with a brand new model. And only charge me for the actual replacement and repair of the battery. And Not have to buy a brand new phone.

They sold me a brand new I-Phone 5S for $114.00

That is a savings of $236.00

Boo Yah !!!

Came home, cranked up the new phone, has a couple of conversations with Apple Care, and voila, my phone is backed up and restored with all my contacts, and music. The only thing I need to do now is reload my apps.

Happy Camper, Merry Christmas Everyone …

Friday: Personal Inventory

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The mail came this afternoon, and I was totally stoked to see my new Adidas kicks were delivered. Not sure if I will shop at this seller again, because of the drama surrounding their method of delivery. Suffice to say, they got here, in the end.

Weather warnings are up for the city tonight. Depending on where the wind blows from will either bring ample rain and freezing rain, or ample snow. If it snows, it will be the first snow of the season. Montrealers’ are feverishly trying to get their snow tires on, and mechanics Island wide are asking for patience.

People do not have any patience when it comes to critical motor services. They want what they want, when they want it, on their terms. Nobody thinks about the people on the other end of those services, they can only service one car at a time, across the city. Every mechanic who works on tires is suffering the scorn of the many, because they cannot work on ALL the CARS all at the SAME TIME.

People are merciless.

Tonight, we talked about inventories.

People who come to the rooms, and begin working their steps, eventually get to their first personal inventory in Step four. Working beyond that step, we encounter inventories in Steps ten and eleven. The foreign concept of “Personal Inventory” becomes familiar. And if we are diligent, going forwards, we learn how to do spot inventories at night before bed, and first thing the very next morning.

Some get it, many don’t.

It takes a long time to be able to learn how to make the steps sing in our favor. This is the honest truth. It took me a VERY long time to learn how to incorporate all the work, on a daily basis. And still, to this day, I am far from being perfectly able to do it all properly.

But my comments tonight, looked at the wisdom of those around me. Not everybody is at the same place, seeing that people I know are at various lengths of sobriety. The one common problem they share is this: People sure know how to take ones inventory. We are really good at taking each other’s inventory.

And my observations of my fellow-men and women is this: People who are LONG sober, who knew me years ago, have a set perception of me. In that, at some point I pissed some folks off with my acerbic observations of my fellows. They took those observations and took my inventory. And to this day, they LIVE in my inventory.

People are not kind.

People who are supposed to be LONG sober, are not very Sober. I know how those folks treat me in public, in front of others. Ignoring people is a common experience. People are judgmental and rude and obnoxious. I changed up my meetings not far back, and I watched people who live in former incarnation of me. None of them allow me to progress in their sober eyes. They see me one way, and that’s the way it goes.

I was involved with a second fellowship for a long time, working with a number of young people. Many of them worked steps with me, and are still sober today. At one point, I cracked in public, in front of my friends and fellows. My calm, serene, sober exterior cracked. And my friends took inventory, and decided I was then, an untouchable.

An entire community of people, sober a few years, decided that my emotional spit up was unacceptable. Beyond the understanding of people who did not know any better.

Today, many of those young people, still live in that incarnation inventory. There is nothing I can do about that now, and there was nothing I could have done about it then either.

We are very educated in taking each other’s inventories. And we are woefully unable to look at ourselves, and take our inventory at the same time, and see where we might have been wrong, judgmental and short with each other.

There is a learning curve there. It’s not up to me to point these things out to my fellows. I just have to go on with my life.

I worked very hard over the past two years to become the best incarnation of myself that I can be. Life is a fluid medium. Life is always changing. But people are unforgiving with each other, when they form a visual of you and at the same time, not allowing that visual to grow up and become better than we were when shit happened.

I’m not very happy, with my long sober friends. who aren’t really my friends any longer. Because of how they treat me in front of others. I am sure as shit, that I do not want to be like those people.

Most people don’t care for me, or my brand of sobriety. They look at me funny and openly comment that my routine sober functionality is not for them. My simple suggestions and the usage of ones phone is too much to ask of them.

I follow the same routine I learned sixteen years ago. That routine has saved my ass from insanity over and over again. I show up, early. I do service. I reach out.

It is too easy to be judgmental – it is too easy to be unkind. It is too easy to use the same excuse over and over that, effort is in short supply, because people like it Numb and Dumb with Simple Stupidity.

Nobody wants me to point that out. They’d rather I kept my mouth shut.

I am still sober, sixteen years later.

Because of friends who stand with me, every day.

There is a rule of Three, I heard a friend speak about:

  • There are those who will AGREE with you
  • There are those who will DISAGREE with you
  • And There are those who just DON’T CARE one way or another

I don’t have to please everybody, because of the Rule of Three. All I need to do in remember that not everybody is my friend, and that is their problem not mine.

It was a good night. with good conversation.

Grateful …

Thursday – What’s Going On ?

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The holidays have come to the city-scape. There was a huge kerfuffle this past Remembrance Day, here in Montreal, where a particular shopping mall had scheduled Santa coming to see the kids on November 11th … Remembrance Day.

People were incensed. Lots of people were pissed off because the mall would disrespect the memory of those who died in Canada’s conflicts, with Santa … On the same day.

Cue Indignation and Protests.

Santa came anyways.

Christmas decorations go up, as soon as Halloween is over. That was NOT the case this year. The street workers hung the lights on the street light poles last week, and they are lit tonight.

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The Alexis Nihon Plaza put up decorations over the past few days. This is the tree in the Atrium just outside the Canadian Tire. It spans two floors. And has hanging ornaments up above in the ceiling.

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We usually don’t put up the tree until after American Thanksgiving. It’s not Christmas until the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade goes off in New York City. Hubby wants to change-up our decorations this year, since we have not invested in new ornament nor lights in over a decade. We really need a new tree, but $300.00 for a fake tree at the Tire is just so cost prohibitive.

This week, I did some Winter shopping. I needed some new shirts, because my old Winter standard under shirts and Henleys are ripped and torn, and every year I just sew them back together after the Winter.

Have thread and needle – will sew …

I could not find the White nor the Green Henleys I really wanted, Gap shirts. I even went to Gap to see if they had them in stock. I saw a boy on the bus to Ottawa wearing one (Green) and I really liked the color, but I wasn’t going to ask him where he bought his clothing !

I was at Winners yesterday, and they had over stocked their Winter gear. I found a white Henley in the style I wanted, and it’s off white … I also found a couple of winter shirts in red and purple to go with my wardrobe. I need to be able to accessorize my tights collection. I found some BAUER hockey thermal gear (I don’ play hockey) at the Tire last week so I am set to go.

Last night I was searching my platforms for clothing. I usually comb Ebay and my assorted sites that send me email sales flyers. I’ve been looking for a purple long sleeve Under Armour shirt, on a particular site I shop at, and the shirts are cheap, but are on back order for three weeks, but shipping is a kick in the ass at $32.00 per item.

If the shipping cost MORE than the item itself, that’s a deal breaker.

Back on Ebay last night, I am always on the hunt for rare pieces that nobody else is selling anywhere world-wide. Hot Ticket tights are rare. And I’ve searched all over the world for stuff I see on Tumblr and Pinterest. They give you photos, but not necessarily a sales point to find them.

dynamics skins white

I was trolling the list when I came across a “RARE” Skins brand pair of tights that were white. They were authentic, and I carted them for a few minutes while I completed my scan. I ended up buying them because they came in really cheap. I paid a total of $40.00 U.S. plus shipping. After I completed the sale I thought about the item that I had just bought.

People selling on a platform don’t necessarily do their homework before they put an item up for sale, like, is it a “RARE?” Is anyone else selling something similar ? Is that RARE item available from the specific sales point (read: SKINS) ?

People tend to haphazardly list an item with no searches. And when that happens you can get away with a RARE for very little money.

This afternoon, I wrote the seller and told him he lost good money selling a RARE for little cash, when he could have sold that specific item for 4 to 5 times the price he sold mine at, and made some serious cash in his pocket. Because SKINS brand tights sales begin at $100.00 and go up to over $200.00 depending on where you are shopping and the exchange rate in either the Euro, the UK, or Australia. Plus shipping.

Today I ran errands all afternoon and took a power nap, before the meeting. I forgot one particular piece of information. I got up, sorted new clothes to wear, showered and coiffed, (I got my hair cut yesterday – it’s quite sleek now). I got dressed, and walked up to the bus stop, got on the bus and when I arrived at the church realized that I indeed forgot that: THE MEETING WAS CLOSED TONIGHT.

UGH – I hate Old Timers Disease.

The weather here is slowly moving towards Winter. Nights are cold, going down to minuses with a little rain. Which under the right conditions will turn to snow flurries, which leads to snow itself. We are still sitting in flurry territory this week.

That can all change depending on what direction the wind is blowing from.

Hopefully this year we might get a white Christmas.

More to come.