Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stroke of Brilliance

The following piece of flash fiction was inspired by my father who suffered a stroke in his late 80's.  It left him paralyzed on one side and altered his personality, leaving him much less inhibited and prone to imagining things.  You may recognize someone you know.

Stroke of Brilliance

“Dad, are you awake?”

“Yeah, who’s there? Come on in.”

“It’s Lisa. I brought Cameron to see you.” The woman held the baby so the old man could see him.

“So you did. You remember I’m having twins next week.” The old man fiddled with the blanket. “Where’s your mother?”

“She’s coming. She stopped to get you a Dr. Pepper.”

“Ten, two and four. Three good times to enjoy life more.” The old man struggled to sit up.

“Here, let me raise your bed.” The young woman shifted the baby and pressed the button to adjust the bed. “Is that better?”

An old woman shuffled in, carrying a Dr. Pepper. “How are you today?” she smiled and kissed his scratchy cheek.

“I’ll be better when you give me that drink.” he smiled back at her.

“Cameron weighs 23 pounds now and he can almost sit up.” the young woman said.

“Grasshopper green is a comical chap.” the old man sang. “My twins will be big boys.”

The older woman ignored the remark. “Have you had a bath today? These pajamas don’t look clean.”

“I’m clean enough…” the old man started to say.

A knock on the door interrupted his answer. “Hello, Uncle Claire. May we come in?”

“Goodness, what are you two doing here?” the old woman asked the men standing in the doorway.

“Alvis had the day off so we thought we’d drive over and check on Uncle Claire. Hello, young lady. Is this your boy?” a tall, rough hewn man asked, grasping a tiny hand.

“Alvis, Joe. Good of you to come.” The old man shook hands. “How’s the family?”

“Fine. Everyone sends you their love. Sis fell and broke her wrist a while back but she’s on the mend.” Alvis said. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine but watch out for that little bear over in the corner.”

Alvis and Joe looked around in confusion. The young woman shook her head almost imperceptibly.

“What did you have for lunch today?” The old woman was trying to fix the awkward silence.

“Ah hell, they served coyote meat. Serve that crap most every day and think we don’t know it.” the old man grumbled. “Fools.”

Alvis and Joe shifted their feet. They tried again to make conversation. “How do you like this place?” Joe finally said.

“It’s okay.” the old man replied slowly, a faraway look coming into his eyes. “But you know, I miss the little things. Like being able to take a walk, or go fishing. Feel the sun and wind on my face. Play with the grandkids.”

The room became still and quiet, his words holding their hearts in a tight grip.

“But you know what I miss most of all?” the old man said. “Sex.”

The young woman stifled a laugh as she looked at the rigid backs of the two men at the foot of the bed. He’s lost most everything else, but gained comic timing she thought to herself.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hiking At 10,000 Is Not For Sissies And Other Lessons

My kids on top of Haleakala

My husband and I learned a few lessons this past Christmas during our surprise Christmas trip to Maui. We decided to surprise our kids (15 and 12) with the gift of a trip. Barry and I had been to Hawaii once before but I was barely pregnant with our first child, nauseous and hormonal. Barry had just torn his ACL ligament playing church league basketball and was on crutches. It is amazing how many people will push past someone on crutches to board an airplane. I guess they thought Barry was faking so he could board early. By the time we arrived in Hawaii near midnight, I was worn out and hungry. I started crying. I'm sure Barry was thinking about ditching me and finding someone else to take to the hotel. Overall, we had a good time but it was definitely not our best trip. There was a now legendary incident with a breakfast burrito on the flight home but in the interest of marital harmony, I can't repeat it.

Back to the present. On Christmas morning our kids opened a strange package with a plastic whale, leis and a guide book. Grace was immediatley thrilled when she figured it out but Cameron's face fell. Lesson number #1: your 15 yr. old son may not be happy to leave his first girlfriend for a week when they have plans for New Year's Eve. I was beginning to wonder if there was some sort of curse over us going to Hawaii but by the afternoon he allowed himself to perk up.

Indeed by the time we got to Maui, both kids were excited and having fun. Still, my son did text his girlfriend over 200 times a day but managed not to be obnoxious about it. (Lesson for you with younger kids: don't ever consider anything but unlimited texting plans.)

One day we drove to the top of Haleakala, a dormant volcano, to hike and see the views. Lesson #2: when a friend who has been to Haleakala in November tells you it will be cold at the top, listen to him, because it will still be cold in December and probably all year round. We thought that since we'd be at the top in the afternoon, the day would have warmed up. Very wrong. We were all wearing shorts and sweatshirts but the wind is wicked at 10,000 feet and you are above the clouds. We weren't going to miss exploring the volcano just because we were cold so we set out to hike a ways into the crater. Going down was not bad; after we got past the edge, the wind seemed less severe and the view was amazing. It was like being on Mars. Then the time came to turn around and hike out. Lesson #3: hiking at 10,000 feet is not for sissies. Almost immediately my chest began to hurt. Badly. I was going to die. The air is very different at 10,000 feet than it is at sea level where I live. The wind was now blowing in my face and my ears started hurting, despite my hood. To make matters worse, my nose began to run and I had no kleenex. Great. I was going to die up here and when the rescuers found me, I'd have a snotty face and dirty shoes and ankles from all the dust on the trail. Not the way I pictured my last moments at all. So I wiped my nose on my sleeve. It was that or drip. Lesson #4: a good mother carries kleenex and water when hiking; they come in handy. Of course, my children were not suffering at all. My daughter was bounding up the trail like a mountain goat, my son not far behind. I hated them at that moment for not suffering with me.

Maui really is a beautiful place and we did enjoy ourselves. We went whale watching, snorkeling and to a luau where we ate poi and squid. We ate great fish every day and even some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. Strange that I have to go to Hawaii for great Mexican but as a foodie, I seek out good food where ever it is to be found. Our last lesson: it is possible to have a great time with your teen aged children.

Having a great time with our kids - priceless

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Tanning Primer

A cautionary tale for women: Never let your husband be in charge of spraying on tan in a can. I never was a sun goddess even though most of my generation worshiped the sun but this year I thought a tan might be a good idea. I have severe reactions to anything that bites – mosquitoes, flies, fleas, ticks, chiggers, you get the idea. These bites itch for days and leave jumbo sized red welts. I am tired of people wondering what horrid disease I have so I decided a tan would camouflage the problem.
I went to the nearest we-have-everything-you-need-and-plenty-you-never-thought-of store and discovered tan in a can. Everything you need for the perfect airbrushed tan in an $8 can. You can even spray upside down, dries in five minutes, and in four hours, you have a beautiful, natural tan.
I decided to do this right. I told my husband he was going to help so he could spray all the hard to reach places. I showered, exfoliated according to directions, and hopped out, ready to be bronzed. My husband was not reluctant, indeed, he was eager to spray his naked wife with oil. He read the instructions but here was my second mistake: I should have gone over the instructions with him carefully and made darn sure he understood the consequences of messing up. Instead, I relied on his college education and doctorate to get the job done.
He began spraying and no where on the can does it say the spray will come out in an artic blast. It is really hard to be still when someone is spraying frost all over your naked body. I gritted my teeth and turned when needed. In five minutes I was dry and in my jammies, ready for bed. I was feeling gloriously tan already and congratulated myself on saving a bundle over a salon airbrushed tan.
The next morning I checked out my new tan. In the dim bedroom, I looked much browner. Wonderful. In the bathroom however, the truth was revealed in the bright morning light. My upper torso was pretty uniformly brown but my arms and legs were now stripped. On one arm, my tan ended abruptly at my wrist, like a sleeve. There were dark streaks down my shins and one white knee. White skin contrasted sharply with brown. I had to laugh. Mistake number three: Don’t attempt home beautification the night before leaving on a trip. Yes, in a few short hours we were leaving for a long weekend with my husband’s family. I could only hope his brothers wouldn’t notice my appearance or I’d be the butt of jokes all weekend.
A week has gone by and my canned tan has faded. Still hopeful and determined, I discovered tan in a tube at my latest shopping excursion. This time, I applied most of the tan, leaving only my back for my hapless husband. Once again, I leave in the morning to take my son to band camp. Hope does indeed spring eternal as I am confident I’ll be tanned and gorgeous, not spotted and clownish.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Articles - Top Ten Ways My Family Reduces Our Carbon Footprint

Top Ten Ways My Family Reduces Our Carbon Footprint - Articles

When we read about global warming, dwindling water supplies or endangered animals, many of us feel helpless to make a real difference. If we can’t afford solar panels to heat our home or buy an electric car, what’s the use? I believe there is plenty everyone can do to make a difference to the environment and even to your pocketbook. We all know about driving less or setting our thermostat a bit higher or lower according to the season but here are some ideas you may have overlooked.

1. Eat your leftovers. Throwing away food is such a waste not only of the food, but the resources used to grow that food and get it to your table. Once a week, have a leftover meal to clean out the fridge or take leftovers to work for lunch. This saves money and time on cooking, cleaning and energy.

2. Reduce your trash by putting food scraps such as peels, coffee grounds or eggs shells into a mulch pile. You will have less trash and improve your garden soil, particularly if you add leaves and grass clippings. Find the recycling opportunities in your town and recycle every can, paper, magazine, cardboard or piece of plastic you can. My family of four easily fits a week’s worth of garbage into our can while our neighbor of the same size uses three cans.

3. Don’t give cheap toys for party favors, Halloween treats, or school rewards. In a few days, these items end up in the trash. For children’s parties, give granola bars or crackers and a drink, or coupons for ice cream. I once baked sugar cookies, wrapped them individually and decorated each with a bit of ribbon. These were the medal awards at our Olympics party. Kids are bored with trivial items that break easily anyway.

4. Limit your family to only one individually canned or bottled drink per day or do without altogether. Drink milk, buy liter bottles of soft drinks, make a pitcher of tea, buy reusable bottles or add flavored packets to your glass of water. Individual drinks are convenient but we generate an amazing amount of garbage this way. Unfortunately, a large portion of these cans and bottles don’t get recycled.

5. Buy some inexpensive cloth napkins or small bar towels to use as napkins. They are easy to throw in with other laundry and you will not miss the paper napkins. Use bar towels to clean around the kitchen to cut back on paper towels. I use white towels to clean with and colored for napkins.

6. Sign up at any website that reduces junk mail such as greendimes.com or get off catalog mailing lists. So much junk mail is thrown away each day that it staggers the mind. Share newspapers and magazines with a friend or neighbor or at least recycle them.

7. Teach your children to be considerate and not wasteful at other homes. This is a big issue at our house with my children’s friends. I am appalled at the amount children waste. After groups of teens leave, my husband and I find unfinished drinks and throw away plates of half eaten food. When serving children, give small portions. It is better to give seconds than throw away food. Teach children not to waste paper, craft supplies, water and electricity. Explain that these things cost money that the family could save or spend elsewhere. Save scrap paper to use for grocery lists, notes, printer paper or drawing paper.

8. Many grocery or discount stores now offer sturdy, inexpensive canvas bags for customers instead of plastic. These bags are so much better than plastic bags that you will wonder why we didn’t have them sooner. They stand up in the car so groceries don’t roll out and they don’t rip open spilling food everywhere. If you still use plastic, please return them to the store as most will recycle them.

9. Pick up trash in public places, even if it’s not your own. When we are at the beach, we always pick up any trash before we leave. Doing the same thing in parks or your neighborhood benefits everyone, not just the environment, and shows pride in your community.

10. Educate your family on environmental issues. The more you become aware of how your actions negatively impact the environment, the more you can change those actions. Another very important way you can help is to keep up with legislation that impacts the environment both on the local and national level. Then communicate with your elected officials about what you feel should be done. It only takes a couple of minutes to email your politicians about their vote.

Fiction - The Stag - Fiction

The crash startled Edith from a sound sleep. She sat up in bed and listened as the sound of breaking and falling glass seemed to go on and on. It had to be the picture window in the living room; nothing else in the house was large enough to produce that much noise. Glancing at the clock that flashed 3:11, she eased out of bed and shuffled down the hall. Though she lived alone, she wasn’t afraid. No thief would brave the temperature and travel so far out of town in the middle of winter. It had to be something else.
In the strong moonlight, Edith saw the stag as she stepped in the room. It lay sprawled and gasping on the hardwood, a small dark puddle spreading under its head. By it’s labored breathing, Edith guessed it wouldn’t last long. She picked her way through the shards of glass and knelt beside its head. Reaching out her bony fingers, she stroked the deer’s fur as it gave one last shudder and lay still. Sorrow filled her and she spoke aloud, “I wonder what on earth made you leap through that window?”
As the cold crept through her nightgown, she shivered and wondered what to do. She hated to wake anyone at this hour but she couldn’t leave the gaping hole till morning. At eighty-one, she wasn’t up to dragging a dead animal out of the house or boarding up the window and there were no neighbors nearby.
Still weighing her options, she became aware of a strange mist beginning to rise from the stag’s corpse. At first, she thought the heat of the animal was rising visibly due to the cold air, but then the mist began to glow and twist.
Mesmerized, she watched as the mist formed into the shape of the deer, which lingered a moment then turned and leaped smoothly out the broken window. It bounded towards the edge of the frozen lake and stopped, looking back towards the house.
As Edith watched, a strange feeling grew in her mind that the stag was waiting for her to follow. An icy breeze filled the room and a bright flutter near the floor caught her eye. Looking down, she saw her gown glowing just like the stag. She raised her hand to her face; it had a transparent glow too. Realization flooded through her and with a smile, she went to join the stag.

Natalie sat sobbing on the sofa across from the picture window as the EMT wheeled the gurney away. The coroner patted her awkwardly on the shoulder, glancing at the sheriff for help.
“When Grandma didn’t answer the phone, I knew something was wrong. We talk every day…” Natalie trailed off.
“If it makes you feel any better, she died in her sleep. It’s always the heart.” stated the coroner.
“We should all be so lucky to die in peace,” added the sheriff.

Welcome to my site!

My name is Lisa Tedder and I write children's fiction, flash fiction, articles and a blog on healthy eating, exercise and other health related information. Please feel free to check out some of my stories and don't miss my other blog!