Grandma’s Quilt

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During the recent cold snap, when night time temperatures were near zero, I decided to throw on an extra layer of warmth. I grabbed Grandma’s quilt and laid it on top of the bed. That’s when I began to reminisce.

Grandma Arvilla passed away in 1962 of cancer. She was survived by Grandpa Archie, and four children, Betty, Dorothy, my Mom Jolene, and Charles. The story Mom told was that Grandma, a quilter, had made quilts for each of the daughters and a close family friend. Quite a few years back, Mom gave me the quilt she had, worn and quite used. It was probably made in the late 1950s when Grandma was healthy, which makes it at least 60 years old.

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As I ran my hands over the surface of the quilt, as if spreading it evenly atop the bed, I could feel the texture of the individual pieces of cloth, and the stitches applied by hand. The design is a Double Wedding Ring, and there is some symmetry to the choice of pieces of cloth, but the selection of pieces that make up each ring have no uniformity to them. On one ring, a pink might be next to a purple, but on another ring, the same pink might be next to a floral design.

The authority on quilts and quilting in our family, my wife Lin, says the quilt is definitely hand-stitched, even though the lines seem so precise. The fabric pieces could be pieces from clothing or even sack cloth. Remnants of clothing in a life that was anything but glamorous. The cloth could have come from a favorite shirt, or hand-me downs no longer used. The quilt reeks with love from the maker. From loving hands. From family history.

I can still picture that little frame house, sitting on a corner, with a dining room that was really more of a room for everything including quilting. Grandma’s quilt frame stood along one wall, and I vaguely recall seeing quilts-in-progress draped over its frame.

I don’t know how many quilts Grandma made. I know she made one and it is in my possession. When I lay under it at night, I sleep with its warmth and the love of family.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

Riding like there’s no tomorrow

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I was corresponding with a friend recently about motorcycling, and I mentioned that I’m riding now more than I did 20 years ago. “I’m riding like there’s no tomorrow.”

After reflecting on that statement, It gave me pause for thought.

I’m 68 years old. Is this ‘riding like there’s no tomorrow’ an issue? A symptom? Acting younger than my age? Fear of growing old?

Two riding buddies and I had this conversation recently during our Wednesday morning coffee meeting. “When do you think you will quit riding?” Frankly, I don’t see myself quitting. Not for quite some time. But, I realize that a time will come when I cannot ride the taller bikes like the V-Strom or the KLR. I already feel the struggle of swinging a leg over them. I have to mount them like a horse. Left foot on the foot peg like the stirrup of a saddle. Push myself up and swing the right leg over. I’m on.

So, why keep riding? I could go fishing. Or, I could load the fishing gear on the motorcycle and go fishing. I could travel more. Or, I could load some gear on the motorcycle and travel. I could clean the house … or … I could go motorcycling. Okay, I really don’t shirk my household responsibilities. I help clean the house. Then I go riding.

I have enjoyed the two wheel transportation ever since my dad brought that Lambretta motor scooter home when I was 15. It’s something about being in the wind, the out of doors, traveling to destinations near and far. For me, those rides are therapy. I call it helmet time. An opportunity to think things through outside of my household box. AND, I am so thankful for a spouse, my wife Lin, who understands the importance of motorcycling to me. She will often say, “Why don’t you take a ride.” And I usually do.

Yes, I am riding like there’s no tomorrow. But, I do have to wait for the snow to melt. Smile

See you on the highway.

Brent

A Reporter’s Notebook

What would we do without notebooks—the kind you actually write in?

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I often wonder if they are becoming obsolete. Everything is digital today or soon will be, and that is a detriment of our society, our culture.

The latest book I am reading is Digital Storytelling. It’s about “capturing lives and creating community.” Thousands of years ago, before there was a written language, we had oral storytelling. Even our religious books—the Bible, the Quran, etc., began as oral histories. Even what is considered the oldest story in the world, the story of Gilgamesh, from between the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a thousand years older than the bible, was an oral story before it was recorded on baked clay tablets in cuneiform characters—a very ancient “notebook.”

And now? We have digital storytelling. Digital cameras. Digital audio recorders. Computers, laptops and iPads. What has happened to the good old pencil and paper?

Here’s what a notebook does for me. It slows me down to gather my thoughts, and then to put them on paper. Impulsive thoughts may come and go, but they are always self critiqued. That’s when a good eraser comes in or lining out that sentence or paragraph.

There is a drawback, a negative to good old fashioned pen and paper. The difficulty is coming back to something I wrote sometime ago and trying to decipher my hand writing! When it’s no longer fresh in my mind, that scribbling can be terribly hard to read. Maybe I should have paid more attention to penmanship in grade school.

On the other hand, the benefits of a notebook are portability and reliability. It takes up very little space. A notebook operates consistently even if the user does not. It can be easily carried in a pocket, purse camera gear bag, briefcase or backpack. It requires no electricity nor a wireless connection. And perhaps the most profound use of a pen and notebook is that it is capable or recording the deepest thoughts of the user, if the user is willing to reveal themselves.

So, how did this post come to be? I wrote it in a notebook, and then transcribed it on the computer. The notebook came first. The computer allowed me to  publish it.

A good old-fashioned notebook! Don’t leave home without it.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

End note: If you have never read the story of Gilgamesh, do yourself a favor and visit your library. It is a wonderful piece of ancient literature, full of friendship, love and tragedy. Enough so that one episode of Star Trek Next Generation was wrapped around this ancient story, “Darmok” Season 5, Episode 2. It first aired September 28, 1991.