Monthly Archives: July 2013

To My Fellow Drivers

…with whom I share the road…




to use, participate in, enjoy, receive, etc., jointly

I know that things crop up in life that make us take to the road and maybe not be as attentive or careful as we normally would be.

I watch car after car whiz past me and think maybe that guy’s wife is in labor now with triplets.  Maybe that woman’s mother was just taken to the hospital from an accident scene.  Maybe this is the first time that gentleman has been late to work in five years, and wouldn’t it be the day that important presentation needs to start on time!

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, think kind thoughts, be forgiving.  But sometimes it gets tough.  It’s hard to rationalize that 85 to 90% of the people on the road are in crisis mode in which it is crucial to move from A to point B in the fastest amount of  time, ignoring all traffic signs (speed limit!) and rules (yield, signal your intentions, leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you).

Traffic laws are put in place for a reason: for the greater good of the public at large.  Even if you feel you are an extraordinary driver for whom most traffic laws are not necessary and should not apply, most of the people around you are average and it is safer for them and for you, if you follow the rules.  The road is not yours, nor mine, nor anyone else’s.  We share (see definition above).  While you drive it is never only about you.  It’s about you and everyone on the road with you arriving at their destination safe and sound.

Honestly, there simply must be room on a three-lane, one-directional highway for me to do the speed limit.

It is my job to be safe and courteous to other drivers on the road.  It is not my job to facilitate the commission of a crime.





an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or tothe interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.
Photo by Penny Mathews

Photo by Penny Mathews

Speeding is legally prohibited.
All I would like to do is move from point A to point B at the posted speed limit. Do I do it in the left lane?  No.  I am polite enough to leave that for the criminals speeders.  Do I travel in the far right lane?  No.  People are exiting or merging with traffic, generally working their way down from or up to the speed limit.  I leave the right lane for the slow movers to make adjustments without another pile of steel and plastic riding the bumper.  I settle in the middle lane until I am close to my exit, and that, my dear driver with whom I share the road, is where I plan to stay while obeying the law.
So don’t come up behind me in the middle lane and flash your lights, tailgate or otherwise pester me to get out of your way so that you can break the law.  Move to the left (or to the right if you really want to mess up) and go around me to continue your criminal activity  or slow down.  It’s that simple. I am going to obey the law on my piece of the road and let other drivers do whatever it is they want to do on the other two-thirds of the highway.
Photo by Kevin Dowey

Photo by Kevin Dowey

I share. And I ask of you, my fellow drivers who share the road, is please do the same. 

Flying Safe

Photo by Klaus Post

Photo by Klaus Post

Log by Miriam Burnside, Aurora, Iowa
Close to the Solstice, Summer 


I decided I wanted to learn to fly when I turned 45 and found out my vision wasn’t what it used to be. I was afraid it would my eyes would get too bad to be accepted for flying lessons.

My field of vision was already too narrow. I was good at parenting. I had two sons and a daughter who I adored and who adored me, clear through those teen years that were supposed to be so terrible. Now they’re living rich lives, but not in mine. It’s time to cut cords and do something that will lift me out of the heaviness.I enrolled at Lansford Air Park. Just in time. The new session started today and I got in the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday class.Julian will flip out. Oh well.
Did Julian ever flip out! Won’t pay for a fantasy that won’t get used. Says this time I am on my own. Tomorrow I take over my friend Roxie’s part-time job, noon to four at the local florist shop. Roxie’s retiring. Isn’t that lucky! It pays just enough for the lessons.

And my instructor? Oooh, la, la. I’m already flying. It’s no wonder they make Mason wear that sapphire blue polo shirt. Their female students can’t stand the thought of quitting, I’m sure. Even the middle-aged, over-the-hill ones. Whether they’re really capable of flying or not.

I discovered today that I’m young inside still. Perhaps I can learn to enjoy my own company again.


Julian flew to Vancouver today for a business meeting and I wanted to say, “Won’t it be nice when I can fly you where you need to go?” But I didn’t. I wonder if I will ever fly him anywhere again.

The gardenias that arrived at the shop today were the most heavenly things I’ve smelled since new-baby-after-bath. One customer wanted boutonnieres and corsages made of them for a 50th wedding anniversary party. The scent made me drunk, I swear it did.

My imagination kept slithering back to Mason, even when I dragged it back to dinner alone tonight and chastised it to behave. My feet actually danced to the piped-in music that I thought I’d forgotten the words to. It was a pure out-of-my-worn-out-body experience. I knew I’d like flying. I just want it to be safe.
Photo by Roger Kirby

Photo by Roger Kirby

Even when my heart seems to be high on flying, I can ground my mind and I’m so surprised at how much technical stuff it can grab onto and process and remember. I read the text last night over my Lean Cuisine pizza and Zinfandel, and could have raised my hand on every question if I’d been brave enough.I didn’t even feel diminished when my boss told me the boutonnieres were all wrong and had to be redone. Will it ever be illegal to huff gardenia? I hope not. It makes for a lovely afternoon. I told him to dock my pay and let me take the ruined flowers home. I think I’ll press them.And figure out how to make up the lost wages so I can continue flying lessons.
FridayTwo things. Julian is staying an extra five days in Vancouver. To fish. I wonder how much that will cost?Before I knew that, I told the kids they could come for the weekend. Allie, James and Roger, all at once. How awesome, and unlikely, is that? I hope they can keep themselves occupied on Saturday. I didn’t tell them I wouldn’t be home and I thought Julian would be there.Saturday
Photo by Marcos Silva

Photo by Marcos Silva

Allie went with me to class. Mason didn’t mind her sitting in. Of course not. She’s trim, svelte, with thick long hair that curls to the envy of every woman I know.

Today I held my hand up for every answer.


A hospital in Vancouver called at four in the morning to say that Julian had a massive heart attack. The kids are all flying up with me.

Odd how this worked out. So glad I don’t have to fly myself up there. I’m coming Julian. On a wing and a prayer, I am coming. And I’m sorry for all those mean thoughts I had.


Julian, how dare you skip out! I don’t want to fly this life solo! Not yet. But I’m going to have to learn. I have this 24/7 class….


I didn’t know what I was doing at flight school today. I don’t even know how I arrived. Mason, easy on the eyes as ever, was acting young and stupid. I wanted to throw a book at him and tell him to grow up. I think I need a more experienced teacher.

Allie sent me to work after I broke down on the first phone call I had to make at home. She’s taking care of things while I play with baby’s breath and pretending it’s Julian’s.


Photo by cristi sava

Photo by cristi sava

The funeral is tomorrow. He’d planned it all out. I didn’t even know. I wondered if he’d planned mine as well. It pays to have a flight plan I guess, because I’m useless. My chest muscles are tight and rigid, making it hard for my heart to beat or my lungs to breathe. They do it anyway.

I didn’t go anywhere today.

Of course, flight lessons are cancelled for me tomorrow. I will never fly Julian anywhere. Ever. I will never fly.

Grounded is safe.


Thoroughly grounded. In every way. Funny, it does not feel safe.


“So what are you going to do now, Miriam?” What kind of stupid question is that? Am I supposed to know the answer?


Allie took me to lessons. Someone told Mason what happened. His eyes had that poor-you look that I see everywhere else. I didn’t want to see it here, but I supposed it is inevitable.

We flew today. I didn’t know we were going to, having missed the last class.



I couldn’t sleep. I was so afraid the phone would ring and it would be something wrong with one of the kids this time. I even knew it was a stupid fear, but there was nothing I could do.

Photo by ksvignette

Photo by ksvignette

So I took a blanket outside and spread it on the grass. Flat on my back I began counting clouds, since they hid the stars. There was a sweet heavy scent on the warm air. I couldn’t tell if the gardenias, baby’s breath and roses were real or imaginary. I drifted off wondering what it would be like to fly in a night sky. No more scary than this life, I’m sure.


The flower shop is dead today and all I could find to do was study for a class I’m not sure I can continue. Flight logs. How important they are past, present and future, and not only for the pilot that keeps it. Others learn from it as well. So they say.


Mason is a competent pilot. His actions and his thoughts are precise and directed.

I helped my boss with a centerpiece for a banquet table today. It was amazing to watch the jumble of stems become something coordinated and beautiful.

There is hope. I just have to continue what I’m doing. Can I let what I’m doing decide where I’m going?


Photo by margesil

Photo by margesil

The air at work was full of roses today. Yellow and white ones that looked like suns and clouds. Under their magic I found myself moving through my day and thinking about tomorrow. Mason in blue, can you still teach me to fly?

Allie called. She hung up sounding less concerned than when she started the conversation.


My flight plan. For now.
This day: Live it fully
This week: Plant a tree in remembrance
This month: Log as many flight hours as I can

The map:
Appreciate how Mason’s eyes match his shirt
Buy a Japanese maple, even though Julian always thought them impractical because the root system would ruin the septic lines. I’ll put a small one in a large planter.
Buy a large planter.
Know that Julian would love the end result because he loved me.
Keep a meticulous flight log.
Be grounded.
Grow wings.
Learn to fly.
This time I am indeed on my own.


When Roger called today I told him about my plans. He wondered how much it would cost. His father lives on….

Answers are coming to me. I am living. Moving forward, continuing on. It’s what I’ve always done.


James called right before I left for lessons. He wondered if it was a safe for me to be doing now. I told him I didn’t know.

Photo by Rob Bach

Photo by Rob Bach

Soaring is…indescribable. Take-off was smooth. Can’t believe I’m in the air this soon.

I don’t think I can give this up. I don’t think I should. After the time and money I’ve invested, Julian would flip out. Wouldn’t you Julian? Then there’s Mr. Blue-Eyes. And my daughter who thinks it’s wise to continue. Then there’s the simple act of flying. And keeping a log.


I believe my vision is improving.

~Written July 11, 2005

If You Haven’t Given Up On Me….

I am so ready to be back to blogging and all other things normal.  Although I continue to question the whole concept of “normal” anymore.

But here it is another Magnificent Monday and here is a tidbit that working through the trenches has taught me in the past couple weeks.

Spinal fluid–or more accurately–cerebrospinal fluid–is made in the brain then circulated around it and down into the spinal column. Produced at the rate of 500/ml daily, this fluid serves four major functions:

  • Provides buoyancy so that the weight of the brain does not impair its function by interfering with blood flow
  • Maintains chemical stability in the brain by rinsing metabolic waste from the central nervous system.
  • Protects the brain from injury when the head is jolted or hit
  • Production is reduced when blood delivery to the brain is difficult, reducing the pressure inside the skull, facilitating blood flow and delivery

Now I’m sure that’s overly simplified, and there are those who would say, “How did you get to be your age and not know that,” but I have never had a reason to know it before.  I do remember watching them do a spinal tap on my son when he was 6 weeks old.  I didn’t care where spinal fluid was made at that point or what it did.  I just wanted his to be okay.  It was.  Whew.

I was asked to come to a hospital last weekend where a friend of mine had been transported.  It turned into quite an experience on many different levels.  I was with her when they showed her the CT scan of her brain, and showed her where there was bleeding that was blocking the flow of that fluid from one of the places in the brain where it was manufactured.  All very serious and scary, but at the same time, a rather awesome thing to see.

And so there is my Monday tidbit from my seriously complex but wonderful world.  Hope your Monday was marvelous!

So Stuck

This really does sum things up at the moment.

So do I get credit for a thousand words?


Reaching Into the Archives

for a bit of fiction from about 5 1/2 years ago.  I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  Life is being…well…life….

I hope you will enjoy this while I’m still figuring out what’s going on with Moira at the beach.


This is from The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer, for the 17th day of the year:

Write a man’s first name
Another man’s first name
An age
Name a body of water
A last name
A setting

Use these six items like blocks and build a story. Start with: The last time I . . .
This is my post:

A man’s first name: Hudson
Another man’s first name: Porter
An age: 92
A body of water: Yost Lake
A last name: Reed
A setting: Railroad tracks

“The last time I will do this…” Hudson mumbled it under his breath, hearing it so that he would not forget. He needed to be fully aware of this last time. With so many other far more important things he’d missed the finale: the last time he picked up his son and held him in his arms; the last time he’d made love to Mabel; the last time he plunged a hoe into a garden of his own. This one he wasn’t going to forsake, as though there would be a million more to follow it.

Yost Lake was nothing like it had been. It had been a lake to him back then; now it looked more like a pond. He was fairly certain he was standing about where the tank and pump used to be that moved the water from the lake into the steam engine paused and puffing at the water’s edge like a tired runner, on its way across the prairie to more civilized parts. Now it was all civilized, criss crossed with wires and poles, scattered with rooftops. Back then there was nothing but the call of birds, maybe the slap of a beaver’s tail, the snort of his horse.

He turned around and looked over the lake toward the bridge on the county road. Off to the left the slap on the water was the flailing arms of children splashing one another as they plunged into the water. A screen door slammed on the building not far from the water’s edge. He could smell pepperoni. Probably cost an arm and a leg for a plain cheese pizza these days.

That was enough of a pause. Hudson dug into the pocket of his pants in search of the penny, nickle, dime and quarter he’d put in there. He pulled out a dollar–the new presidential one–and decided it would be appropriate to include that in his little fiftieth-childhood scheme. The gravel slipped under his feet as he scrambled up the embankment, so he slowed a bit. If Porter Reed saw him go down that would be the end of this little escapade. “Escape” was a better description.

Photo by Zan Tirrigin

Photo by Zan Tirrigin

Hudson found the rest of the coins and lined them up on the rail of the track, remembering how all those years ago his mother had warned him, sternly, this was illegal. He could see the wisps of her hair sticking to the sweat on her forehead, right above all those little furrows that crossed it with her worry. She honestly believed a police officer somewhere somehow would put her in prison because her son destroyed U.S. currency. Just like his children were sure they would latch him to the bed if he dared leave the nursing home under his own steam to do what he wanted to do. Ludicrous. People were so enslaved to rules and laws and regulations. All the fun was pressed out of life.

He stood straight to view his handiwork. The sunlight caught a bump or two from the money and shimmied across to meet the greater glare of the steel rails. Now to wait for the 3:00. The sun felt like it wouldn’t be long before it arrived. The heat pressed in on him without mercy but Hudson refused to look at his watch. Instead he imagined thick dark mulberries dangling from the trees overhanging the bridge, and lazy large-mouth bass sidling between the wet wood the held the pavilion out over the water. A slip of a boy walked backwards on a waterwheel that churned through the water, while the children on the stairs lifting up to it shouted for him to throw himself into the water below; they wanted a turn.

Photo by Ken Kiser

Photo by Ken Kiser

Over all the ruckus, Hudson believed it was his well-tuned, 92-year-old ear that caught the whistle first. After all, the wind was blowing from the west, and the train was coming in from there as well. He was king of the mountain right on the tracks, while the rest of them were in the hole formed by the lake. Soon though, they had all heard it, because the sounds started to diminish. Hudson scurried down from the tracks to the water’s edge, probably a little later than Porter would have liked, and stood lakeside as the line of energy and steel moved ever closer.

Suddenly it was there, clacking and buckling in that familiar rhythm, without the hiss of steam, huge and monsterous, but so familiar. The swimmers behind him counted the cars in unison. It was a long train, and he wondered how far he would have to walk to retrieve his treasure.

Finally the train passed. The children went back to their summer amusements. Hudson caught a glance of Porter before he turned to go back up the embankment, probably because Porter was waving at him to come back. If they didn’t hurry, someone might discover that his roommate’s son had been kind enough to bring him here. Hudson didn’t want that to happen, but he hadn’t come this far, nor climbed this high, to go back without his prize.

The coins were where he’d left them, but wide and misshapen, just like he’d remembered. He tossed them in his palm a few times. They caught no light now, harbored no shadow because they were too flat. He folded his fingers over them and started back along the bank to where Porter had parked the car. Hudson would show him the coins and then Porter Reed might also understand how precious a day in the sun could be when one’s days had all but roared past in all their rhythm and energy and had left behind a flat, misshapen image of what life used to be.

Savvy Tenant – Keep It Local-ized

Photo by Alan Witikowski

Photo by Alan Witikowski

Keeping track of and paying bills is one of those things you rarely practice till you have to do it. If you’re lucky like I was, you have parents who taught by example.  Still it can be a whole new ballgame when you’re keeping track of all the ends that you must make meet.  One of the easiest ways to stay on top of paperwork is to set aside a place for it and a time to take care of it.

Set up a mail center close to where you get your mail.  It can literally be right inside your front door.  Or if you go to the kitchen for a snack when you first get home, set the mail center up in the kitchen.  If you change clothes first, then the bedroom might be a better spot.

Everyone will establish a system that works best for them.  Some have started to deal with bills and payments electronically.  Others, like me, find themselves handling a mix of paper bills, some that can be paid online, others that require paper checks unless I want to pay a fee to handle them electronically, which I refuse to pay.  I’m rebellious that way.  So systems are going to differ from person to person.  But if you want an idea of how to get started, I can tell you how my system works for me and you can build your personalized system from there.

It all comes together here.  Or it should.

It all comes together here. Or it should.

I found a wire caddy that holds hanging folders.  I have one hanging folder for each quarter and individual folders within those hanging ones for each month within the quarter.  I also have a hanging folder in the front of the caddy labeled Process.

Along with my caddy, I have a shredder and a trashcan (need to get a combo) together at the desk where I open all my mail. I can stand in one spot and sort through, throw out what I can, shred what I need to and throw the rest in the process folder.  On those days when I am in a hurry with no time to even look at what came in, I throw it all in the process folder.

Nothing gets lost or misplaced or otherwise forgotten.

Notes and reminders will also make their way into my process folder.  Everything I need to pay, do, schedule, call, file or otherwise process waits patiently for me at home base.

Once a week (my day happens to be Tuesday) I sit down and work my way through the process folder.

So what are the monthly folders for?  I keep paid bills with confirmation numbers or copies of the checks in the monthly folders.  I also empty purse/wallet every week and toss receipts in the monthly folders.  Then I have them if I need to return an item and also to compare with my statements as they come in.

Once a month I try to go through the entire caddy and make sure I’ve filed things that need to be filed elswhere and I put tax-related items in a binder so that I have all my documentation in one spot at the end of the year.

Doesn’t that sound easy?  It is when I stay on top of it.  I’m not so good at updating the tax records regularly, but I’m getting there.

I am also trying to switch to an electronic program that will compile the tax records at the same time I pay the bills but I’m dragging my heals.  Which translates into: I haven’t quite pushed myself out of my comfort zone to learn a new, and probably better, system.


Photo by John Ridley

What about you?  Do you have any tips for handling the paper that comes into your home via the mail box?  What about keeping track of bills and payments electronically?  Do you have a system/program you prefer?

I’m always learning!

Flashback Fun

I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon and evening with two of my favorite people on the planet: my sisters.

That was then...

That was then…

I cannot count the hours we have spent talking and laughing and sharing life experiences: scary, fulfilling, precious and heartwarming. On rare ocassions we disagree, (rare now that we’re adults; my mom can tell you it happened more frequently when we were kids!) but we always work our way back to what is most important.  I cannot be thankful enough to have them in my life.


Then, too…

I can recall the most unusual experience I have had with them. Here is the story as recorded on June 5, 2009 on my old blog:

A Truth-Is-Stranger-Than-Fiction Thing….

I have to write this down because I’m still not sure I believe it happened.

Last night dh and I had tickets to see Bryan Adams in concert. (Just Adams, his guitar, his harmonica and the piano + player. It’s awesome, if you like a laid-back concert. If you’re a Bryan Adams fan, don’t miss it!)

We are making our way over a few pair of knees to find our seats and I hear a very familiar–or should I say familial–voice, and turned around to discover that we were sitting right behind my two sisters. Not two rows behind and several chairs over, but a row back and off by one chair: we were in 109 and 110 and they were in 110 and 111 in the row in front of us.

Mind you, my sisters live 80+ miles away from me, neither of the pairs of us knew the other had tickets, let alone what seats were assigned to those tickets, and there are 1400 seats in the Rose State Performing Arts Theatre–

My dh thought it was a set-up and that we planned it all along. It took some serious convincing to get him to believe otherwise, and I certainly understand that!

If I wrote something like that into a story, I know a red pen somewhere would tell me not to use such unlikely coincidences. But you know–they DO happen!


Then, but closer to now (10/24/2009). My baby brother is allowed to slip in every now and then. 🙂