* * * Gatherings * * *
Jim Low
Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
web site: members.rogers.com/jimlow
Christmas 2004
18th Annual Message

Spare and Share Your Love
    Sparing and sharing time with those you love is the most valuable time we have. Sometimes, in the hectic pace of life, we wish we had more spare time. Spare time is not wasted time or something to put off until later. It’s the most valuable commodity we have and must make room for plenty of it throughout life. Whenever a child, grandchild, or a friend asks to spend time with me, I make the time. Everything else is on hold while I share such valuable time. Throughout life, my priority is to make time to share and spare.

Parent’s Revenge?
    Carrie completed her year of parental leave (Brian took some parental leave, too) and arrangements were made for Lily’s day-care. Of course, parenting is a full time job, even when you have another full time job. One day, Carrie called me after she picked up Lily and asked if I could spare time with Lily that evening while she and Brian went out. It seems they were exhausted and needed a break. She commented on how much work was involved and recalled both Eleanor and I worked at full time jobs. Her comment was “I don’t know how you and Mom ever coped with four!” It was only months later when Cheryl said exactly the same thing. I asked Cheryl if she recalled what I would say in frustration when all the kids wanted me to do a number of things at once. Yes, she did, and repeated what I often said so many years ago: “I’m sorry, but I only have four hands!”

Speaking of Children...
    Arlie Jean Khan, daughter of Cheryl and Jameel was born July 13. She is my third grandchild, and second child for Cheryl and Jameel. Everyone is fine now, but it was a harrowing experience, with Arlie being born a month early after Cheryl spent most of the the previous three months in hospital. I’m waiting to share my trips to the park with Arlie, but already get to help feed and change her.

A Day in the Park
    I was fortunate to share some wonderful time with two of my grandchildren on a fine summer weekend. Beside the usual highjinx around the house, we made a couple of trips to the park each day. I was pushing Lily in the baby swing and she kept pointing at the big swing beside her. I thought she wanted on that swing. But she kept pointing at it and saying "pa-pa" (her way of saying grandpa). I finally figured it out: she wanted me to sit in the swing. You should have seen us: swinging side-by-side with her laughing at silly “pa-pa.” The next day I was with Nolan in the Park. He kept pulling on me and saying “down, down” and then I realised he wanted me to build a castle in the sand so he could knock it down. I happily complied, undertaking this most important activity of life. Of course, on both days, Nolan and Lily got dirty in the sand and trying scary things to stress me out! I see in the news that some children were taken from a family, stating the reason for concern was the grandparent caring for the child appeared stressed out and the kids were dirty from playing in the sand. Seems to me that the official who made that call doesn't remember what it's like to be young or understand what it’s like to be a parent or grandparent.

Nolan’s Words
    As Nolan turned two, he was coming out with more-and-more words. Sometimes he was lazy and tried to get Cheryl and Jameel to do something for him, and just whine instead of asking. “Use your words, Nolan” they would say. One day, Cheryl, Jameel,Nolan, Arlie and I were in a restaurant where we have to order food at the counter. Cheryl was ordering the food. I was sitting at a table with Arlie. Jameel was with Nolan in an aisle. Suddenly, a couple came up behind them and the fellow was so large, he couldn’t get by without Jameel and Nolan moving aside. The fellow, who had the physique of a Sumi Wrestler, gave a rough “excuse me” as he barged by. Nolan pointed at the man and used Nolan’s Words to say several times in his loud voice for all to hear: “big man, big man...”

Luxuries of Life
    Retirement is great. I could live in retirement forever and work on all my projects. But an opportunity for a contract position came knocking at my door— dealing with both computers and astronomy. An ideal job for me? Well, if I wasn’t so keen on retirement, it would be. Too bad this didn’t come up years ago. I thought about it. I looked at my finances: I had enough for the necessities in life, such as telescopes, camping trips, and running around the world chasing eclipses. But I found there wasn’t enough money for a few luxuries in life, such as food, clothing, and shelter. So I took the opportunity of taking the work. It’s time I got paid for doing what I enjoy! On top of that, I can work from home several days a week. Some retirement projects are scaled back— for now. My work? I’m in software support for the Starry Night programs with Imaginova. They have an office in downtown Toronto and supply software and support for the world. The software is developed on the Macintosh and ported to Windows, and available for both platforms. Most of the questions come from Windows users. Mac users seem to be a more intelligent lot. ;-)

    The big astronomical event of the year was the Transit of Venus (Venus passing in front of the sun). I observed it at sunrise on June 8 overlooking Lake Ontario, joining a group of fellow observers from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). My activities with the RASC continue, observing when I can with my telescope, and attended the annual General Assembly of the RASC in St. John’s Newfoundland in July. I was a volunteer, along with others, at the David Dunlap Observatory and Ontario Science Centre on a few public nights, setting up my 10-inch telescope for visitors to view celestial objects.

The Shipping News
    I had a great visit with Jerry and his birth parents Ken and Betty Barry in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in June. Jerry continues to prove all of us wrong whenever he does his own thing against our advise. Not only did he succeed in finding a job in Newfoundland, but sometimes he even works at two jobs. While there, I was surprised to see many help-wanted signs in shop windows. Jerry must have single-handedly turned around the economy of Newfoundland. He still has his adventures, but things always seem to turn out okay. He bought his first car and had his first accident. He’s okay. It seems he was driving by a fish processing plant where a truck dumped a load of fish guts on the road, making it slippery. Only a Newfoundlander could come up with such a fish story. He’s now planning to buy a house in Corner Brook. fff  Jerry visited us in Toronto during August.

    Carrie and Brian sold one home and bought another . They moved during May... and June... and July. It was a lot longer than expected gutting the home to make it exactly as they wanted. They stayed with Brian’s parents while major work was done and have finally moved in. They hope to finish it by Christmas -- I’m not sure what year, though. After 30 years in my home I still say “it will be a nice home when it’s finished.” Hmmm... I wonder what’s in that trunk in the basement that hasn’t been opened since I moved here?
    Peter continues to rent a room from me and I try to keep out of his way, although we do share time together on occasions. Most of his time is shared with his girlfriend Kate. Peter is looking into more schooling. Kate is working towards being a veterinarian, but is taking a year off to work and do volunteer work with large farm animals.
    Retirement activities are still ongoing. During much of 2003 I scanned pictures of my children growing up and last Christmas gave each of them a photo album from the time they were born until they were young adults. Special thanks to Eleanor and Meredith for their help on this project. This year I completed copying old 8mm home moves to DVD with the expert assistance of my friend Blaise. In fact, Blaise did most of the work. I am currently scanning earlier family records for a family history project. I continue activities with a computer club and the astronomical society. My friends and family seem to enjoy my barbecues and my 11th annual “A Little Taste of Summer” barbecue will be held in early February.

The Grandchildren
picture  _________picture
    Arlie Jean Khan. Born 2004 July 13.     Arlie is so bewitching.

picture  __________picture
    Nolan Khan says:                         Lily Porter says:
    “Get busy building sandcastles!”        “Bring on the food!”

My first grandchild was born in 2002. Another arrived in 2003. Then the third in 2004. What will 2005 bring?

Have another Great Christmas
and may the New Year bring to you
richness and love to share and spare.

Jim Low

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