* * Gatherings * * *
Learning from Children
web site: homepage.mac.com/jim.low
19th Annual Message
Life is a learning experience. Children are
wonderful teachers and we learn from them as they share their wisdom
with us. You think we teach our children? No way. They observe our
silly ways then teach us about life as it really is.
One early lesson was from my children, many
years ago. I discovered that children would never take the quickest and
most straightforward path from point A to point B. That would be much
too boring. They make it much more interesting, and discovered the
Children’s Theorem that “the shortest distance between two points is a
This is a fundamental law and never gave it much
thought until my grandchildren came along. I was with Cheryl and Nolan
when we went shopping for Nolan’s new shoes. Cheryl picked out two
pairs of suitable shoes, then gave Nolan his choice, as she had already
learned Toddler’s Law: “always give toddlers a choice.” After Nolan got
his way by choosing his shoes, he then insisted on wearing them. The
salesclerk asked Cheryl if she wanted to buy the protective spray. “No
thanks,” said Cheryl, knowing there was some at home and could spray
later. As we left the store, Nolan suddenly took a 90° turn and ran
to... you guessed it... a puddle. It was then that I learned the
Corollary to the Children’s Theorem: “the newer the shoes, the muddier
Nolan is becoming an astronomer just like his
grandfather. He knows the moon and stars. I always thought that I knew
the phases of the moon but Nolan taught me a new phase. He pointed at
the moon one evening and said “broken moon.” Of course, he was right.
It did look like a broken moon. To think that for all these years I
thought it was a crescent moon. Thanks, Nolan. I have informed the
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada that this is a “broken moon.”
Doing the Dishes—Jim’s way
In May, I visited my sister Penny, Niece Erin, and
great-nieces Cassidy, 6, Kennedy, 5, and Gelsey, 4, in Edmonton. Living
together they are known collectively as “The Davis Girls.” I enjoyed
time there with my great-nieces. A month after returning home, Penny
told me another learning-from-children story: Cassidy wanted to go out
and play immediately after supper. Penny said they couldn't go out
until the dishes were cleaned up and put in the dishwasher. Cassidy
said “Well, just do them the easy way.” Penny asked what she meant.
Cassidy replied “Like Uncle Jim—just wash them in the sink.”
Keep ‘em coming!
As I said last year: “My first grandchild was born
in 2002. Another arrived in 2003. Then the third in 2004. What will
Margaret Ruth Porter
born June 2; second daughter for Carrie and Brian. That’s four
grandchildren in less than three years. I’m enjoying my new teacher of
Sometimes Carrie gets a bee in her bonnet. It was
years ago when I discovered that one disturbs Carrie’s bee at ones
peril. But Carrie’s bee makes such sweet honey I wouldn’t want to
disturb it anyway. The latest buzz started when Peter and Kate moved
from my home to Guelph where Kate returned to university. Carrie
decided, justifiably, that my living and dining rooms needed
redecorating. Peter and Kate were still moving their stuff out of the
house when Carrie brought in her husband Brian, Cheryl’s husband Jameel
and others to work on my home. I dared to make one suggestion and
Carrie said she would take it into consideration but that she would
retain veto right. We went shopping for a new chesterfield and she gave
me a choice between two she picked out as suitable—she knows Father’s
Law—always give father a choice. In the end, she made my home into a
greatly improved living environment—much better than I could have
dreamed of doing. She did this in her “spare time” while raising two
girls. Thanks, Carrie. Keep that bee busy! “Now, Jim, about your
Cheryl and Jameel sold one home and bought another
so they have been busy bees with moving, organising, and redecorating.
It took a while to sell their house. The TV show “Take This House and
Sell It” took it on as a project and sent in a designer crew to fix it
up for sale. It worked, and the family was on TV.
Peter attended an auto show. Like a fool, he
actually entered one of those contests. We all know those are sucker
contests to get you on a mailing list, right? Well, he won a Smart Car.
He played with it for a few months and then sold it. Since he was
moving and wouldn’t be able to use my computer any more, he used some
money from the sale to buy a new, top-of-the-line G5 iMac.
...is where Jerry resides. This is the first year I
have not seen him since he moved there several years ago. We keep in
touch by telephone and email. He has a girlfriend, Kayla. Jerry is
currently working at the Telus store in Corner Brook Mall. We hope to
see him in 2006, as he plans a visit to Toronto.
In September and October there were four family
reunions. In September, “The Davis Girls” visited Ottawa for a Davis
family reunion and I met up with them. We had lunch with Penny’s son
George, his wife Alison and their son Nathan, now 8. *** The same
weekend, I drove from Ottawa to London to visit cousins Ann Stokes,
Bill and Irene Flinn, and Aunt Edna. *** The following weekend, I drove
to Cleveland to visit my Allman cousins, Sandy, Susan, and Nancy and
her husband Igor Dvorak. *** In October, I was in Cobourg to visit
cousins Ann, Bill and Irene again, along with cousin Barbara and Paul
Seguin. Visiting with relatives is a joy.
My priority is making myself available to learn from
my grandchildren. It is my good fortune that I am allowed such generous
time with them. Arlie, only one year old, can already outclimb me in
the playground. Both Lily, 2 and Nolan, 3 show me up in their gymnastic
classes. Amelia, at only a few months, already laughs at my silly
sounds and funny faces and can mimic my “raspberry” act.
Astronomy: Setting up my telescope at a few public
viewing sessions continued. I was in Kelowna, BC in May for the annual
General Assembly of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. I will be
in Libya for the total eclipse of the sun on March 29 next year.
My “retirement” includes continuing to do contract
work for Imaginova, the makers of the Starry Night astronomy software.
I provide e-mail and some telephone support for their products and most
of the time I can work from home. Since my hours are flexible, I can
have grandchildren over to nap while their mother goes out, and I
continue working while they sleep.
Genealogy: Scanning of selected family historical
photographs has begun and hope to prepare photographic stories of
various branches of my families. I have over 10,000 historical family
photographs, some going back before 1850. Going through these is a
lifetime project in itself.
Old? No way!
I turned 65 this year and got my Old Age security
card. Gee, I sure don’t feel old. It’s insulting that the government
calls me “old.” The card says “The holder of this card is in receipt of
a benefit under the Old Age Security Act. The Government of Canada
requests that this person be extended all possible benefits.” Okay,
folks, I want all possible benefits—whatever that means. Oh. I am
getting benefits. I have good health, wonderful children and fantastic
More pictures at: http://homepage.mac.com/jim.low/photos/index.html
Throughout the exciting journey of life we learn
from all of our
experiences. We savour each apple received; from each lemon we make
lemonade. We accept what life gives us; we cherish the wisdom gained.
The debate of recent years over marriage and family
values has been
enlightening. We learned to embrace the richness in a multeity of
families. Ours is certainly a modern form of extended family. My
children enjoy a medley of parents, stepparents and adopted parents.
They have many siblings—adopted, blood and step. There is spiritual
wealth in such an extended family: one learns from differences in
people. We learned to accept not only our differences but to celebrate
the wide diversity of humanity. We could ask for no better family value.
a very Merry Christmas
and may your life in the New Year
bring you more joy of learning.