Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Getting acquainted with the area

Much to everyone's annoyance, the household smoke alarms went off several times, starting at 6.30am this morning, not because of any threat to life or limb, but a malfunction that prompts it to run in test mode and declaim in a thin electronic voice "Warning carbon monoxide" and "Warning - This is a fire drill" in both English and French. This put an end to any hope of a lie-in, so I was up early taking early light photos through the trees of the Purcell mountains on the other side of the valley from our balcony window. Then I went outside and took some close up shots of the house in its wintry guise. Then it was time for a local style breakfast of home made muffins with yoghout, blackberries and blueberries  washed down with dark roast black coffee.

I then sat at Rachel's MacBook Pro and wrote a letter to email to the 'Western Mail' in support of the newly opened temporary centre for the homeless and vulnerable in the old Custom House in Cardiff city centre. The move is getting some bad press from nimbys who'd like to exclude anyone without money to spend from our smart regenerated town centre. It'll be interesting to see if it gets printed.

At lunchtime, Rachel drove us all to Invermere for a gathering of Jasmine's pre-school group and their teachers in an old people's home, where they sang some Christmas songs to the residents. Rachel has been playing guitar and singing with the group, so she accompanied them for this delightful occasion. The children also did some Christmassy craft work at tables with small groups of residents, and many gave their completed decorations to people to hang on their doors. Rachel told us of how many local organisations she knew collected goods for Christmas hampers to give to needy people around them. It seems that compassion and solidarity are strong themes in social education, and valued just as much if not more than the individualism that so dominates much of life in our times.

After a snack for the kids, it was time to take them to their regular afternoon pre-school session at the Eva Joseph Family Centre, a place well designed and purpose built just outside Invermere for educational and social activities with young children in the area. At the 'show & tell' session, Jasmine introduced us as her grandparents all the way from Wales, and Clare taught the children how to sing Welsh nursery favourite action song 'Mi welais jac y do', which was great fun.

On the way home, I got to drive the Jeep, a six cylinder automatic - my first ever automatic, six cylinder American car with cruise control. Quite an experience for a lifelong small economy car man. Clare went out for some exercise, a walk up and down the gold course in her snow shoes, while I went out to fetch Jasmine from pre-school. Then I took Jasmine, eager to find her granny out on the snowy fairway, to see if we could track Clare's giant footprints in the not much trampled snow. We got about two hundred yards, then they seemed to stop. I wondered why she'd gone so far and then apparently disappeared. Minutes later she turned up, and told us that she'd had mechanical problems, a loose shoe joint, so she'd doubled back to do repairs, then went out by another route. Mystery solved. That was her first outing on snowshoes for ten years. I saw a couple out on cross country skis, and realised how good conditions were despite no pistes being prepared. I must get to a hire shop tomorrow!

After supper, a chance to look at the photos of the day, and commit these notes to the web, courtesy of the wireless dongle which affords better speed and bandwidth than the local land-line service can provide out here in the back of beyond.

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