Ischia’s Lemons

I love to write about the places I have been to and am lucky to have seen many. Even though this was quite a while ago, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. This picture was taken on a trip to Italy many years ago. This portion of the trip takes place on the island of Ischia. I entered a non-fiction writing contest with this story, ‘Ischia’s Lemons’ and got an honourable mention.

You can read it here, Ischia’s Lemons.

Healing with Words

I have been so busy with work, and kids, and avoiding my editing, that I haven’t really posted much here or anywhere. I have entered a few contests (more on that another time), done some content writing for a small contract, and had an article published in WordWorks Magazine which you can read below.

Healing with Words – WordWorks Magazine – Click Here

Exotic Cheese

I had a sassy, angry post ready to launch related to Covid, but am just so tired of it. Instead, here is another fun flash fiction entry I did a few months ago, I hope you enjoy it.

My husband was recently prescribed medical marijuana for various work-related injuries. He enjoyed experimenting with different strains.  Some were helpful for sleep, some were great for quelling anxiety, and others dulled his twisted sense of reality. 

He tried many methods of consumption.  Cooking with it and eating edibles was delightful if he didn’t miss the mark and take too much.  A good old-fashioned joint was preferred though he couldn’t roll very well.  Vaping was the easiest way. 

One night, he tried a particularly strong strain.  He had just fixed himself a snack and was looking at me through red swollen eyelids. 

“Mmmm… what kind of cheese is this?”  He asked while chewing too loudly. He was eating a cracker with a piece of cheese on top. Cracker was falling out of his mouth and onto the floor. “It’s so exotic and smokey.” 

“What cheese? I haven’t bought any new cheese lately.” I had groceries delivered to the house while I was at work. 

“That grocery order had cheese in it, I put it in the fridge yesterday.” The look on his face was slowly changing. Panic was spreading from his squinched eyes to his now-open jaw. “My throat is burning; this is very spicy!”  

Now concerned, I ran over to the counter where he prepared his snack. I picked up the package next to the crackers and it clicked. 

“You are eating artisanal soap!”  I wasn’t even halfway through my sentence before he was scratching away at his tongue and running to the bathroom to induce vomiting. I read the soap wrapper and it contained a few worrisome ingredients, including cedar and eucalyptus essential oils. 

I called poison control while he got busy throwing up. “I’m frothing!” He was extremely high and becoming frantic. 

“Don’t worry honey, it’s just soap, it does that.” 

“Poison control, how may I help you?” I went through the painful process of telling them my husband was so stoned that he decided to serve himself a slice of soap on a cracker and was now foaming at the mouth while trying to barf it out.  I was met with silence, so I quickly added, “There is eucalyptus oil in the soap and google says it is poisonous….” 

She assured me that the tiny amount contained in a sliver of soap would not be enough to harm him. It would likely cause stomach upset, and I should feed him something. When she added that he probably had the munchies anyway we both couldn’t contain our laughter. She thanked me for the giggle and hung up. 

After some more dramatics, frothing and barfing, my husband emerged from the bathroom.

“How are you feeling?” 

“Clean.  And hungry.”  With that, he made himself a sandwich, and I made sure to hide the ‘cheese’ in the process.

More than a Game Show

My first introduction to game shows was by my Grandmother, in the early 80’s.  I would lay on the floor of her trailer, in a forest of orange shag carpet.  She sat behind me in a beat up recliner smoking cigarettes with her hair in curlers, drinking reheated coffee and shouting out the answers.  We watched Bumper Stumpers, Let’s Make a Deal, Chain Reaction, Press Your Luck, The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy.  I was very young and rarely got anything right but loved this time and these shows.  

As the years passed and some of these games faded away, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy remained, and were my nightly routine.  I was very good at Wheel of Fortune, as word puzzles have always been easy for me, but Jeopardy was hard and I loved that.  There were some categories I would never get as they didn’t hold my interest, but other categories I kicked butt at.  If you were in the living room while I was watching and dared to speak when Alex was reading the question, you got the dirtiest of looks.

Alex was a huge source of joy for me.  So smart and so sassy.  I didn’t know if I had a crush on him, or wanted to be him.   I smiled as he threw his quips at the contestants when they answered incorrectly.  In later years his remarks seemed more canned or polite, likely due to the changing climate of political correctness.  I did adore the brash, biting Alex from earlier years.  He always made me laugh.

As soon as they allowed Canadians to apply to be contestants on the show, I applied annually.  You take an online test, that is fast and stressful, before moving on to the next step.  When you take the test, you have limited time to read the question yourself, think of the answer, and then type it and click okay.  This is far worse than shouting the answer at the TV willy-nilly.  I never made the cut, but never stopped trying either.  I knew being a contestant on the show would be stressful, but it was a dream of mine.  

I heard he was unwell and followed his story and kept watching.  I enjoyed the interview he did with his wife at home talking about their life, and his battle with cancer, and how he had lived a full life.  I forget how he phrased it but he said he wasn’t exactly young and had done it all.  I thought he was getting better but I know cancer is brutal and unpredictable.  It also took my grandmother.

I was heartbroken to hear the news this morning.  Alex inspired me to be the proud nerd I am today.  Saying he will be missed, is not enough.   

“My life has been a quest for knowledge and understanding, and I am nowhere near having achieved that.  And it doesn’t bother me in the least.  I will die without having to come up with the answers to many things in life” ~ Alex Trebek

Must. Water. Lawn.

Here is a wee story I wrote for a Flash Fiction Contest. It has to be less than 500 words and they give you 4-5 words you have to incorporate and sometimes a theme. These happen monthly, and they are a lot of fun.

Must. Water. Lawn, by Angela Douglas

I felt like I was floating.  Putting one foot in front of the other, slowly, methodically, and lightly.  I could see the grass blur past my bare feet, but could not feel the ground underneath them.  I looked up briefly and became dizzy, so I quickly looked back down.  Drifting, gliding, moving with a strange grace.

My speed slowed slightly when I reached the rocks at the top of the hill.  Although they were small in size, I could feel each object jabbing into the arch of my foot.  Why wasn’t I wearing shoes?  

I needed to move the sprinklers around the yard.  They were twisted, and tangled, and it was going to be a hot one tomorrow.  

My sight was fuzzy and unclear.  It was hard to focus on any one thing in front of me.  My other senses were heightened.  I heard every cricket, and smelled my sugary gardenias in the distance.  I could feel blood seeping from a fresh wound on my foot.  It was quite dark.  I could hear someone calling my name.  Or at least I thought I could.

“John!  John!  Jooooooohn!”

I turned to look in the direction of the voice, and I couldn’t make anything out at first.  I blinked a few times and it looked like a silhouette of my wife eating a sandwich on our front porch, hollering at me with her mouth full.  Now it looked like she was choking.  I turned to move toward her but my legs were stuck and then I hit the ground.

Splash splash splash – the sprinkler was gushing into my face.  I could see more clearly now, though it was still black outside.  I looked up and my neighbour Frank (who I hate) stood above me with his hands on his hips.  No wife, no sandwich, no choking.  “What on earth are you doing here?  It’s 3am.  Care to elaborate?”

I looked around and noticed I was outside of his barn, quite a distance from my house.  At three o’clock in the morning, stark naked, wrapped up in a band of sprinkler hoses.  All I could muster was “Err….I suppose I was sleepwalking?”

He sounded angry, but looked amused.  “Get back home before I call the cops!  Or your wife.”

He returned to his home and left me lying there, in his yard in the middle of the night.  I was wearing nothing but shame, face down with my bright white butt illuminated by the moon.

My First Post!

Welcome to my site and my first post.  I have been writing up a storm but you wouldn’t know it since I have been so quiet here and on social media.  The first one I will share, is also the first story I had ‘published’.  It’s very dear to me and is filled with TMI.  If you are not interested in reading birth stories, skip this page!  I entered both kids birth stories in this contest, and the below link is the one I got an honorable mention for.  The second one didn’t get a mention but is a lot more lighthearted than the first.  Also shared below.  Thank you for reading! 

Worth It – Johnny’s Birth 

The Potion – Gabby’s Birth, by Angela Douglas 

With my first child, I nearly died.  Looking back at the hospital records years later, it’s clear we were both in trouble.  I had pre-eclampsia and was induced early.  I had placenta accreta, emergency surgery, a long hospital stay, a severe post-op infection, difficulty breast feeding, and a heavy dose of postpartum depression.  That birth didn’t follow any plan.  I threw expectations out the window for this one.  My only plan was to get through it.  

With my first birth, I had a team of doctors and the one that was in the delivery room with me, I had never met.  This time, I insisted on a mid-wife.  I was terrified to give birth again, and I needed all the help I could get.

I knew from my first meeting with my mid-wife, Carolyn that things were going to be different.  I felt supported and heard.  This pregnancy was smooth.  No wild cravings this time around, my blood pressure was normal, and I felt great.  I worked right up until 37.5 weeks as planned and was as ready as I ever would be.

Three days after finishing work, it began in the middle of the night.  I was having a vivid dream that ended with a whisper in one ear, ‘wake up’.  My heart was pounding when I woke up and realized I was wet.  It was strange because I had gone to the washroom an hour prior.  Strange but not completely impossible.  It was when I rolled to my side and heaved into an upright position that more liquid was pouring out of me.  My water had broken.  I was thrilled.  Something natural was happening and it felt like a great start.  

I skooch-waddled over to the bathroom and let some more water come out into the toilet.  Mild contractions began.  I laid back down and cried a few tears of joy that this had begun on its own.

I remembered the midwife saying to call her right away if my water broke because it was my second child, it could come faster, so I did.  I also called my sister, who lived an hour away and told her to start making her way to us so she could look after my son when it was time.

My husband popped out of bed with one move when I told him my water had broken.  After he calmed down, we went downstairs to grab him a coffee while we timed the contractions, leaving my son to sleep.  It’s funny how peaceful it was.  So different than the time before.

Labour progressed slowly enough for my sister to arrive. I had told her to take her time.  My contractions were still coming but less consistent.   Eventually they stopped.  Completely. 

I called the midwife again and she said, in her cheery way, not to worry.  She suggested a long walk to get things going again.  We also tried everything we could google for ‘getting labour started’.  Several hours passed without success.  The midwife said she was on her way.  I was feeling defeated at this point.  Like my body had let me down somehow. Things started off so well.  

She said I had a decision to make.  Because it had been so long since my water broke and there were no signs of labour restarting, the hospital would want to induce me to reduce the risk of infection.  

There was, however, another option.  “The Potion.”  Before hearing about it, I said yes, with enthusiasm.  

“Wait a minute….”  She cautioned, “There are risks.  It doesn’t always work and can sometimes cause intense back to back contractions.”

In my opinion, anything was better than induction.  I was in.  The potion it is.

My husband went to the store to pick up the ingredients.  All but one key item that you cannot get at a store.  Carolyn went to her office to get that last element.

As soon as they were back. we mixed everything in the blender, adding 2 drops of her liquid last.  I took a sip while she was making notes in my chart and before she could say I had an hour to finish the drink, it was gone.  I drank it like it was a shooter at a bar, no time wasted.  

She let out a little giggle at my drink-slamming antics and prepared to leave.  “It can take a while to kick in, call me when things start.”

With renewed hope I moved around throughout the house.  I started to feel twinges again.  I set the timer on my app.  I was hungry and not allowed to eat when I was in labor with my son, so I decided to order some pizza.

Halfway through the order it became difficult to talk through the growing contractions.  I finished the call and went to have a bath.  

My husband noticed the pain increasing.  He followed me upstairs with the phone.  I sat down in a mostly empty tub waiting for it to fill.

I was experiencing active labor for the first time in my life and I was grateful.  I could no longer talk through contractions or focus on what my husband was saying.

He put the midwife on speaker just in time for me to hear her say, “Get her out of the tub, and head to the hospital.  I will meet you there.” 

It took a while in between contractions to get out of the tub, get down the stairs, and get some clothes on.  We threw some cash to my sister for the pizza I wasn’t going to eat and kissed my son goodbye.  It would be the first night I had ever spent away from him in his 18 months.  A flash of fear ran through me as I contemplated ‘what if’s’.  

I got into the car somehow and my husband’s skills as a police officer got us there in record time.  The only hold up was me grunting every time he had to tap the brakes during a contraction.  

It was late afternoon and the hospital was busy.  John pulled up to the emergency and I wobbled through the door, while he went to find parking.  I had to pause twice because the contractions were coming so fast.  I found a bench and eased down onto it.  A young girl and her mom approached me and asked if I needed help.  They went to admitting and came back with a nurse and a wheelchair just in time for my husband to return.    

Away we went to the maternity ward.  Timelines no longer existed for me.  I was getting ready for the main event.  I remember some paperwork, being on a bed behind a curtain waiting for my room to be ready.  I saw my midwife arrive and I also recall hearing someone moaning in pain.  I was later told that someone was me.

My room was ready, and the midwife was already filling up the birthing tub.  This hospital’s maternity ward was brand new and this was a rare and welcome surprise.

Getting undressed and getting in was rough, but once I was inside, and the water covered my bump, I could focus.  I began to feel powerful.  It was painful and intense, and though the small breaks were almost non-existent, I was able to channel and focus my pain.  I was gripping the sides of the concrete tub with a strength that was making the skin in my arms and hands turn white from the force.  I remembered noticing this, and noticing the roof, and then looking down.  I also can recall my husband’s face regarding me as though he had never seen me before.  

The midwife was in and out checking us while giving us the space to manage on our own.  I felt looked after and not alone.  

I was eight centimeters dilated and began to ask for interventions.  “Please just a tiny epidural, I don’t think I can do this.”  I began to panic when the breaks in between stopped.  

My husband and midwife looked at one another and she mouthed ‘no’ to him.  I was in too much pain to ask why, maybe they were honoring my wishes, maybe it was too late.

The contractions were now the intense kind she warned about.  I was wailing.  From a moan, to a wail, to what sounded like baritone screams.  They sounded like they were coming from someone else.  I looked down and I could see someone wailing, and concentrating, and squeezing a tub.

Suddenly I was back in the tub and my body was pushing.  I wasn’t doing anything.  I noticed my entire bump shift downward as I felt the pressure of my child trying to come out.  At this hospital, tubs were used for pain management, not for the actual birthing, so a flurry of activity began to happen around me, as my body pushed by itself twice more.

The water in the bathtub was draining, and I was getting cold.  I also had nothing on and began to feel self-conscious about my nakedness.  I saw some new faces in the room, and they were ready for me.  Now the task of moving this giant, wet, pained animal from the tub to the bed.  In between contractions with my body doing whatever it wanted to.

During this transition, my body stopped pushing.  A few minutes after laying down and being toweled off I felt the need to push again.

I was ready now.  Pain or no pain, my little girl was on her way out.  I wasn’t scared.  I followed Carolyn’s guidance, took a deep breath and pushed.  We did careful, guided pushing same as with my first birth.  

When the moment called for a big one, it was easy.  That pain didn’t bother me, and I didn’t have to push too many times.  I had to pause in some very uncomfortable positions, but when given the go ahead, one more powerful push and she was here!  Ava Gabriella Douglas.  Born at 718pm.  Weighing 8 lbs 4 oz, 2 weeks early, the day before Halloween.   

I felt elated holding her, looking into her eyes.  Success at last – I did it.  My body did it.  

Then I started to feel anxiety.  The placenta wasn’t out yet.  I handed the baby back to the nurse, and focused, and begged please, please let it come out.  One little squeeze and light traction from the midwife and it was gone.  Fully intact, with no issues.  I was crying now and only my husband knew why.  

Would I like to see it the nurse asked?  This time laughter cut through the tears as I said much too loudly, “No thanks, that thing tried to kill me last time.”  

Gabby was handed back to me, swaddled and content.  Once she settled, she latched on immediately.  She fed like a champ.  Another luxury I didn’t have last time.  I was literally beaming.  

I sent my husband home to relieve my sister and told him I would see him tomorrow.  I sat there alone with my daughter, feeling relief, pride and gratitude.  I gave her a kiss and we went to sleep.  That was my first full night of sleep in almost 2 years.

We were discharged before noon and settled in nicely at home.  Johnny met his little sister and went out trick-or-treating with his Dad and Auntie.  I stayed home and handed out candy with a baby in my arms, less than 24 hours after giving birth.  I was near death last time.  And this time I felt great.  My arms were sore from hulking out in the tub, and I felt like someone kicked me in the behind.  But I felt fantastic otherwise.  

What an extraordinary experience this was.  Having a midwife made all the difference.