* * * Gatherings * * *
Jim Low

web site: homepage.mac.com/jim.low

Christmas 2005
19th Annual Message

Learning from Children
    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.

Children’s Theorem
     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 puddle.”
    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 the puddle.”

Broken Moon
    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 2005 bring?”
Amelia 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 life.

Busy Bee
    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 kitchen...”
    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.

Retirement Activities
    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 grandchildren.

My Grandchildren—My teachers
         Nolan Khan               Arlie Khan

           Lily Porter               Amelia Porter
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.

Have a very Merry Christmas
and may your life in the New Year
bring you more joy of learning.

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