It was a surreal moment watching the Space Station fly over

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Screenshot of the ISS Detector app on my smart phone.

The night was perfect. Unusually clear sky. Stars shining brightly at about 9 p.m. The phone app, ISS Detector, had signaled the impending flyover of the International Space Station, and it was going to be almost directly overhead on an arc from horizon to horizon for about five minutes.

I stood in my backyard, phone in hand, watching the image of an approaching Space Station coming closer and closer to my viewing spot. And then, there it was rising above the trees, ascending into better view. It shines because its height above the earth is actually reflecting the sunshine off its surface.

Seven astronauts doing their space thing flying along at about 17,000 miles per hour, with all that technology and science. I am in awe to be able to watch such an event. It gets me every time, and this one was perfect.

About one mile away, workers and volunteers were still setting up for the annual Farm Club Antique Tractor Show. I guess tractors were still arriving and being moved into their places for display even at that hour. I could hear the deep chug of a tractor being moved, the kind of sound that only an antique tractor can make. It’s not a smooth whir of an engine, but a deep, single sound of an engine: chug…chug…chug…chug.

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Could this be the tractor I heard? It is an old steam engine tractor, the kind that sounds like what I heard, “chug…chug…chug.”

I listened to this tractor while watching the Space Station fly over, and it was such a contrast in technology. Overhead is this marvel of technology and science flying silently across the sky, and over at the farm, an antique tractor fills the air with its marvelous low-end mechanical sound. Viewing one and hearing the other was an observation in how far we have come as a civilization. It was surreal.

It is fun to watch such an event with others, to talk about that magnificent object flying overhead. We would have talked about the Space Station until it was out of sight. But, I was solo on this night. If there had been others, I might not have heard the antique tractor which made it surreal. Was being alone meant to be? Fate? Karma? Synchronicity? Perhaps.

I can’t wait until the next time the Space Station flies over.

See you on the highway. 

Brent

Dreaming of the Oregon Trail

For some strange reason, I awoke this morning dreaming of my 2012 ride on the Oregon Trail. It was a 6,000-mile, 21 day adventure. But, why this morning? Maybe I’m just dreaming of another motorcycle adventure. 

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Chimney Rock in Nebraska, a landmark for travelers on the Oregon Trail.

See you on the highway. 

Brent

Easter ride

It’s Easter. He is risen and all things are new again.

There is something about a motorcycle ride in Spring when the trees are turning from empty to green with early leaves and buds. The roads with no center line or any paint markings are a joy to ride. To explore. Occassionally, a beautiful red bud tree shows its shade of red among the green giving a wonderful contrast of those country roads.

Oh the joy of a springtime ride.

See you on the highway.

Brent

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