Sunday, August 2, 2015

Here Comes the Fall (Sort of)

By Cal Orey
Fall is on its way!
Years ago summer was my fave season. Nowadays, not so much. The back-to-school ads make me smile. I am in my countdown mode... 40 days, give or take and into pre-autumn we go. The thing is when you live at a resort town, like Lake Tahoe, off season is bliss. It means you once again have access to the stores, less crowded roads, resort pools, dog trails, the Lake, and quietude. Less vacation homeowner visits, loud noises, stray dogs, and then the season itself? 

Last Sept. Quebec was my destination
I love the crisp mornings and evenings. The change of colors, from trees to the sky, make me think I live in the Pacific Northwest (almost).  And, of course, I love to bake and cook in cooler temperatures as well as walk the Brittany and Aussie (double dense coat).  It's coming...
High Tea Time is Coming

Autumn with Aussie
PNW for tea and coffee books in late fall?
And this year I do not have to purchase firewood because of last year's drought. I've got enough wood in the garage and against the fence (all nicely stacked and dry). It's probably time to start stocking the pantry and begin pre-seasonal cleaning before I dive into the next Healing Powers series book: TEA! (HONEY, COFFEE, OLIVE OIL, VINEGAR, and CHOCOLATE are available now for the upcoming autumn season.)
Soup for fall, homemade is best

The world of tea awaits!
Yes, my pantry is chock-full of teas--all kinds--ready for me to sip and savor, cook, and bake with as I enter Teaworld. This topic excites me and I am going to go somewhere where the tea people live but still can't decide exactly where...perhaps more than one destination will suffice.

So, I wait and prepare for the season of all seasons... Pine cones dropping, the first fire in the old rock fireplace, cuddling up with two dogs and a cat, planning a getaway to use those flight miles I postponed, bringing out the cozy throws, flannel sheets, sweaters and jeans, and quietude. Bring it on!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Healing Powers Series Author Feeling Pre-Fall in the Sierra

Off season in autumn
By Cal Orey

As we are coming closer to August, and the second Full Moon of July, I feel the end days of summer are coming sooner than later. Squirrel sitings, a chill in the morning, fresh pine cones chunks on the deck, fall fashion on websites, talk of El Nino (writing about it for the September issue of Oracle 20/20 Magazine), and kids back to school on the 10th next month are some cues to me that my favorite season will be here early.
Honey and Muffins for Fall
Pre-fall baking and cooking with superfoods for my next Healing Powers book is on my brain. Chocolate Mousse and a Peach Tart with a special tea twist is on this weekend's menu. I have an ongoing love affair with muffins — a sweet and savory mini cake. These cuties don’t need frosting. Homemade muffins taste so much better than pre-packaged, store-bought types and are less pricey than the monster-size ones at Starbucks. The best part is, you can control and store the ingredients — including seasonal fruits and nuts, like our wildlife in the mountains do when storing up for wintertime--forecasters predict a wet season, and I agree.
These muffins take me back to my living on a shoestring days in San Jose as an undergrad student. One Sunday, my guy pal brought home apples he picked from an unknown neighbor’s yard. I had lots of walnuts his mom gave me in a care package. So, I baked a batch of apple nut muffins. In the morning, it was the usual trek to school to get West Valley College for a grueling day of back-to-back classes. That special day in my favorite creative writing class, I asked my professor the all too common question, “Do I have any talent? I want to be a writer.” She looked at me. She smiled. I waited eagerly for her response as if she was a psychic. She answered, “You should move on to SFSU. That is where you need to be.” I gave her an apple nut muffin and she gave me the incentive to move forward and get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Here I sit in my cabin and I am writing health cookbooks and articles. So, I have a soft spot for apple nut muffins from yesteryear and I’ve come full circle. This is a new, improved recipe for my muffins — a gift from me to you.

1/2 cup, packed, light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 brown egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup European style butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
2 capfuls of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice, not concentrated, with pulp
1 1/2 cups apples, peeled and cored and chopped (into small cubes)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A trip to the Northeast this Fall?
Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add flour. In another bowl combine egg, melted butter sour cream, and orange juice. Mix all ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts. Spoon batter with an ice cream scoop into muffin tins. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture and bake for 18-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
Once in the oven I felt these cakes would turn out nicely. After about 10 minutes I peeked. They looked like wholesome muffins. Once baked, I savored a warm apple nut muffin spread with a bit of whipped cream cheese or drizzle with honey. (I was going to add cream cheese icing but decided to ditch the extra sugar.) These fruit muffins make the grade as is. Enjoy.
Motto: Hard work and drive can pa
On July 26, tourists light for Sunday
y off whether it’s following your dream or making muffins.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey was offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) The Healing Powers of Coffee, Vinegar, Olive Oil, and Honey are sold at Walmart stores nationwide. The Healing Powers of Vinegar, 3rd edition is in production; The Healing Powers of Tea is in progress.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19 Meltdown for Author on Break

By Cal Orey

Today is Sunday, a day in the week that is usually a good one filled with fun and spontaneous outdoor activities with my dog duo. But on this mid-summer afternoon I find myself in a minor meltdown mood. Let me count the ways how this day tanked and it's not over but should be...
Boston in the Fall? Planning my
B-Day book research escape

1) The go-to Reno guy to repair my bed with a cosmetic tear has gone simply AWOL. Translation: The problem is back in my court. He flaked right after I sat outside on a log with fresh pine tree sap; ruined my favorite skinny blue jeans. A call to Victoria's Secret repaired my grief. RIP. I loved those jeans.

My attire for the next trip: Boston, Chicago or somewhere cold
with Tea People
2) That freshly painted deck is now on the back burner. My loyal sibling has been MIA since yesterday. (I had a dream last night where someone showed me a newspaper article that he was missing.) So, the job remains undone much like the bed...
3) Speaking of beds...  He is somewhere, someplace with an ex boyfriend (no label ever made it to the table) who wasn't good enough for me but is fine for him to have good times the way guy pals do. (Thank God for my two canines who can spell loyalty.) It's not that I care; it's that our dog day afternoon has been scratched. Howl.
4) Last night a weak moment hit me. After dishing predictions on a psychic network I decided to play the online dating site, similar to hitting the casinos. Yes, I snagged a live one: younger, cute, blond, Gemini...
I miss Monday morning in B.C. Tomorrow
it's to the outdoor pool.
5) This morning when I called per his request I was rewarded with an obnoxious jerk on the road. Remember, I'm intuitive. As he loudly confirmed he was driving out of town and on a cell phone the words I heard were like scraping your fingernail on a blackboard. Let me recount how it went: "Are you a homeowner? How many square feet is your home?" Hello? Still at a loss for words.
6) And it got progressively worse. "I date women of all ages. I'm seeing a 26-year-old. When he returns I got an invite to travel 100 miles round trip to meet him because this one will be too tired.  I need an aspirin. And so it goes. Happily single...just needed a quick reminder of the reason behind my status.
Getting ready to decide where to flee to for pre-fall
7) By now my sinus headache (or another quake is due from the one last night that rocked Truckee) is about 11 on 1-10 scale and 10 being a mega pain in the bum.
8) So what was going to be a productive, loving life day has turned into a ice pack on the forehead (right between the eyes), "I'm not thrilled" weekend and I'm praying for magical Monday.
9) Tomorrow has to be better... and this week promises a teeth cleaning, touching up those roots on the locks, and summer cleaning this rustic Tahoe-style cabin.
10) One positive thing...I just heard the sound of thunder. The weather gods have sent Pacific Northwest clouds, thunder, and hopefully rain this way. Perhaps I will shop online and figure out how I'm going to spend those saved up flight miles...
A Bonus: My fico score is still in good standing. Maybe I should break the news to the one I tossed back to the sea.  I need a nice cup of hot tea.  And then it's time to brush the dogs' teeth... count my blessings. Thank God I am single and in love with soulmates with paws. No questions asked. Oh, and my senior Brittany has papers and is a Gemini...

UPDATE: Bed man showed. Sitting on it now! Great job. No longer longing for a man (especially after the dude who wants to know the square footage of my home).  Planning a pre-fall escape. Mondays are my favorite day. Motto: Everything is temporary. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Author Departs Vinegar Land

By Cal Orey

It's official. I am leaving Vinegar Land tomorrow morning. My bags are packed, I'm ready to, and wishing I was off on a jet plane. (I may be sooner than later.) This time, however, I've been busy at work working on the third edition of The Healing Powers of Vinegar (Kensington). 
It's been fun. It's been challenging. It's been another experience. While I am done with this updated and revised edition I know too well that it will return with some notes from the editors. It's the way it's done. However, I also know that I'll have some time to exhale, regroup, and treat myself to lots of things that have been neglected...

Later this week a teeth cleaning. Both dogs have had their dental check-ups. The hair? Ah, it's about time to deal with those oh-so natural dark roots. And swimming? On Wednesday it's either back to the resort pool early in the mornings or to the outdoor pool. Decisions, decisions. 
And this old cabin I live in? Cob webs on the high beam ceilings. Raking is needed after the thunderstorms all last week. Summer cleaning. 

After working day and night (living and breathing a topic) for a lengthy time on a book project it's not uncommon for an author to get a surge of physical energy.  The thing is, writing is sedentary (after the research), and to stay focused often things that need to be done are put on the back burner. Also, staying balanced is a challenge because you enter another place--like Vinegar Land. But today, is a good day. For the most part, the project is done--or I will enter the land of over writing and editing (an editor once taught me that fact). I'm leaving the Vinegar People and regaining my life again. Caveat: I will be entering Teaworld once I find my balance.  A writer's work is never done.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Premonitions: Quakes, Big Waves, Rough Air

By Cal Orey

Before trip to Canada...traveling brings the kid out in me

I was booked for tea on Queen Mary; surf so
high people were warned to stay off the beaches
Tea Expo is in Las Vegas, June 2016
Flashback: In April, as an author of the Healing Powers series--I booked a flight from Reno-Tahoe International Airport to Los Angeles International Aiport. My destination was the World Tea Expo—the go-to convention for my next book, The Healing Powers of Tea (due next yr., finishing the 3rd edition of The Healing Powers of Vinegar).

Once planning my journey I received signs, hunches, and fears about leaving my home in the California Sierra. The sobering events that led up to May 5—the day of the event—unrolled one by one, and the odds of me going became more of a question: “Should I go?”  Vivid dreams, a nagging gut feeling, and eerie thoughts of possible happenings were hanging over me like a dark cloud.  Take a look at my premonitions before the trip to Southern California—and the end result…

A room with a view of the harbor, frolicking on
the beach, and tasting tea didn't happen
Rough Air to Southern California
The first warning was via e-mail. I got a message early April that the airline of my choice was changing the flight plan; putting me on two small aircraft—not one-- to Long Beach Airport. Due to the time change, I was issued a full refund. While sensing it was a cue not to go…I moved forward. I rebooked with another airline—bound to LAX—a larger airport, big aircraft to give me hope of less rough air.
I ended up adding an extra day to play at the ocean. The 15th floor hotel room overlooks the boat harbor. Being an avid swimmer, and water lover, excitement began to build. True, it wasn’t British Columbia or Quebec—places I traveled to in the past months--it was Southern California—my home back when I was twenty-something. While the flight arrangements felt right for a while, another shake-up in my plans of a perfect trip paid a visit.

Blindsided by Imminent Shakers…
Chatter about the debut of the San Andreas film on May 29 rattled my nerves. Californians were on edge that this was going to be the month of the “big one”.
Ironically, a swarm of small but felt earthquakes started in Southern California. It’s not that I haven’t experienced our Golden State’s shakers: I survived the 7.1 San Francisco earthquake in 1989; 6.2 Morgan Hill quake in 1984, and even a strong 4.8 jolt in Tahoe-Reno that I forecasted to the very day.
Not Vancouver, Canada but I used to live in
Southern California and was looking
forward to beach-going and tea
            But when news hit on April 24 that a 6.1 hit offshore British Columbia (where I was a month prior) and rattled the West Coast—that make me think.  Two days later, when a terrifying and deadly 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal (near the China border), the outcome and my Asian earthquake forecast for 2015—it was unnerving.

…and a Full Moon, High Surf, Wild Weather
Due to the earthquake drama, I felt being up high in a hotel room didn’t feel safe. And a dream of a tsunami woke me up one morning. Early May my nightmare was coming true in a strange way. Waves up to 18 feet offshore Southern California were the talk and made international news.  Headlines read: “Big Waves Hit SoCal Beaches; High Surf Advisory In Effect.”  Tourists and locals were warned to stay off the beaches due to the dangerous rip currents and dangerous conditions for swimmers. A Carnival Cruise Ship was not allowed to dock at Long Beach and was diverted to San Diego. My fun in the sun beach fantasy was fading…
…as the weather reports rolled in. Instead of the warm eighty degree weather that’s normal for May in Long Beach, the forecasts were for cloudy skies and rain. At Lake Tahoe the snow gods decided to make a cameo appearance. All this precipitation can cause turbulence on a plane leaving the mountains and landing near the cloudy coast. I felt uneasy about moving forward with my seaside tea trip.

The Last Forewarning
I announced via social media, that if a 4.0 magnitude earthquake hit Southern California during the week I was scheduled to go South—I’d cancel the trip. On May 4th, the day I was scheduled to travel to Long Beach, at 4:07 A.M., a shallow 3.8 earthquake rattled a wide area of the L.A. basin. And I awoke to snowy grounds at Lake Tahoe.
That evening, I got a sense to call the airline and inquire about the flight plan I had canceled. I was told two of the four aircraft I would be boarding were downgraded. That means you lose First Class status, cramped plane—not good for a super sensitive who dislikes crowds and commotion. I exhaled. My instincts were right.
Do I have regrets by tuning into my premonitions and canceled? No.  When I made the decision to tune into my gut instincts I felt a sense of calm. On May 5 UPS delivered a large package. It was full of teas from a major tea company—another indication a keen sixth sense can be a gift not a curse.  

2014 Prediction Hits
Here are a few of my predictions that panned out and happened on cue as noted last January in Oracle 20/20:
*The Indian Ocean and/or an Asian country (Japan or China) may be challenged by earthquake and potential tsunami(s). [Japan, 6.5, May 30]
*A tsunami on the West Coast—whether it is from Alaska, or Southern California, or even in the Cascadia Subduction Zone from British Columbia, Canada to Northern California may happen as it has before in past history. [Alaska, 8.5]
* Some bizarre weather events may surprise people in the Gulf States, including flooding from rainstorms. [April 20, Gulf States affected by heavy rain, flash floods; May 25, Texas flooding.]
* The drought in California will most likely continue but it will see some relief from heavy rainfall throughout the Golden State. [El Nino is reported by scientists to bring snow in the fall.]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Senior Dog, My Best Friend

By Cal Orey
Simon has been my muse for more than decade
Update: Simon's surgery went smoothly... He passed the blood tests. One small abscess above the back upper molar, and another small tooth--gone. Down to 38--dogs have 42. My boy survived the ordeal; we decided to leave him overnight to have peace and quiet (Aussie is 2 1/2 and will just want to play) in air conditioning. 
Tomorrow my soulmate with paws will be back home and in familiar arms... Exhale. 
Caveat: There was a "power outage" of sorts (which makes me wonder about watching out for what you wish for because it may come true). My computer was down for a day; taken to the computer gurus. Failing hard drive. But no god-like prediction to when it will go to computer heaven. One new computer for the TEA book is being built... A bit sooner than I had planned but the hard drive had three years of mileage on it. It's all about timing... 
And that brings me back to Simon. I got eerie images of him seeing the "white light" to be with my beloved Seth, his Brittany soulmate-- but he wasn't ready to leave Earth. And so we do live happily together as noted below in the original post. Life goes on...

Here I sit next to my 12-year-old Brittany and 2-1/2 year-old Aussie. Older dog, younger dog. I'm overwhelmed with memories, emotions, and racing thoughts. The rational me says: "Put it in perspective. A tooth gone bad, dental surgery on Thursday morning. Done. It could be worse." But as a journalist on the Internet I find myself playing the "what if" game.  I wish there would be a power outage until July 2...

The vet who has raised my pooch since 8 weeks old gave me the odds of a tumor. We agreed. Less than five percent. Overall, Simon is aging gracefully. He's been the healthiest canine I've ever owned and shared my heart and soul.  But at 12 when we are faced with surgery of any kind at this age it causes a reality check. 

None of us get out of here alive. We all have expiration dates. My dog is not immortal... And I am here but distracted. It's a challenge to go through the motions of the day and week ahead without worrying about the end result. Posting pics of puppy to adult and senior dog seem a bit too beginning of the end like the scenes in Marley and Me. 
A complete day, two dogs... balance

So, we wait. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and eye drops for eye allergies. Ironically, my scheduled dental cleaning is this Wednesday but I sense I'm going to reschedule. Too much drama. One procedure at a time. I usually stress about things, like this, that we cannot control. The upside, I caught it...hopefully it's just one molar we've been watching and it will be taken care of. End of story.  And we live happily ever after.

Do Cats Have ESP? (Super Soulmates with Paws)

What Kitty Knows
ESP, Superior Senses, and Feline Intuition

A cat with a track record of sensing oncoming quakes--
clingy with owner and vocal
(Excerpt from Super Soulmates with Paws)
Author of the 
Healing Powers series 
Whether it’s ESP, superior senses, feline intuition or a change in routine, your cat may sense danger, and you should know about it.
At noon on a stormy spring day in Austin, Texas, several household cats started acting strangely. “I was in bed watching the weather channel on TV,” recalls cat owner Janet Shon. “My cats wanted to hide underneath the covers.” The heavy rains and howling winds continued, causing panic in her house full of pets. Eventually, she put them into carriers to calm them, and took cover under the stairwell. “Usually, my cats don’t mind being in the crates during bad weather,” she says, “but this time, they were chatting nonstop and wanted to be next to me.”
Kitty is distant before earthquakes and vocal
            Several hours later, on May 27, 1997, an extremely rare and dangerous tornado (classified as an F-5), with winds measuring over 260 mph, touched down 40 miles to the North of Shon in Jarrell, Texas. Twenty-seven people died in Jarrell. Multiple tornadoes also ripped through the Austin area, killing two people. “It took the roof off the Albertsons’ store,” says Shon with awe. She and her cats survived without a scratch.
            What made Shon’s cats react in such a way? Some say it’s ESP (extra sensory perception), or a sixth sense. Others claim cats aren’t gifted, just blessed with well-developed or heightened senses—scent, sound and sight, that are far superior to our own.
            However you see it, cats have earned their supernatural reputation throughout history. In ancient Egypt, felines were worshipped as gods, and killing a cat was a crime punishable by death. Even modern society gives credence to the idea that cats “know” things. During World War 11, “British families found that their cats were the best warning system for impending danger,” notes Dale Koppel, author of Amazing But True Cat Facts. “They showed unmistakable signs that something was about to happen even before the air sirens were sounded. Their hair would stand on end, or they’d spit or wail. Some would head straight for the nearest shelter.”
            Many people who live through terrible disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, fires or earthquakes—believe their cats knew something before these disasters struck. But whether or not cats really predict danger is still an open debate. So, what will you do the next time Felix starts acting strange? Will you roll your eyes, or head for high ground? Read on and decide for yourself.

Sensitive Aussie acted out with a stranger--
minutes later she rear-ended our car
            “Cats have an extraordinary ability to sense imminent earthquakes, usually ten to fifteen minutes before they occur,” explains Ed Lucaire, author of The Cat Lover’s Book of Facts: A Felicitous Look At Felines. “They exhibit nervous behavior such as pawing or scratching at doors and windows, and above-average concern with the safety of kittens.”
            In fact, California Geologist Jim Berkland has turned to cats (and dogs) to predict other big earthquakes, such as the infamous 7.1 Loma Prieta, California earthquake of October 17, 1989, which rumbled through the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 seconds and shook Candlestick Park in the middle of the World Series. Sixty-seven people died and more than 600 people were injured. He believes some cats hold mysterious psychic powers as well.  


            So, what about hurricane warnings?  While scientists use wind patterns, barometric pressure, sea surface temperatures and other climate factors to predict hurricanes, fishermen watch their cats. In fact, cats have long been considered good luck on ships for their ability to ward off storms, sea monsters and ghosts. Europeans of the past centuries believed cats “knew” the way home and would reveal the direction by sleeping on the side of the ship that was closest to port.
            Gail Beecher, a veteran cat breeder from Needville, Texas, got a special warning before Tropical Storm Frances hit the Texas coast on September 9, 1998. Some of Beecher’s pregnant cats began to go into early labor. “When the barometer shifts during bad weather my cats always go into labor early,” she says. “I knew the storm was coming this way.” Wind speeds reached a maximum of 65 mph, and one person died due to the intense flooding of the Gulf Coast.
            “All cats are extraordinary sensitive to even the smallest changes in the weather,” writes Koppel who claims, “you can throw away your thermometers and stop watching weather forecasts on TV.” A resident of Kansas City, Missouri agrees, “I have noticed before a tornado (during thunder, wind, hail and lightning) animals do lie close to the ground and pant. The bigger and fatter the dog and cat, the more it seems to affect them. Also, they sometimes put their head on the floor.”
Dogs bark during thunderstorms, cats are vocal before
rainstorms; used on ships to alert fishermen
            According to Koppel, French fishermen watch their cats’ body language to get a weather report. “They watch their cats closely to predict weather changes,” he says. “Rain? Watch for your cat to pass her paw behind the ear during grooming. Windy? Your cat will clean her nose. Low tide? Wide pupils, of course. When will the bad weather end? When your cat twists and turns.”
            Sound silly? Perhaps not, says John C. Wright, PhD, certified animal behaviorist from Macon, Georgia, and author of Is Your Cat Crazy: Solutions from the Casebook of a Cat Therapist, who’s fascinated by it all. However, to be certain that this is a reliable weather source, Wright says, a group of cats and their body positions should be examined carefully in a weather study for conclusive scientific evidence. In other words, scientific studies are needed.


Neil Tenzer, DVM, of Miami, Florida recalls that his five cats felt Hurricane Andrew’s fury before it arrived on August 25, 1992, with winds of up to 150 mph. Amid the chaos of his family putting shutters on the windows and gathering canned food and candles, explains Tenzer, his cats grew curious and upset about the change in their environment. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this category 4 hurricane caused 58 deaths and approximately $27 billion in damage. “It’s not that they predicted the hurricane—but they certainly sensed it was on its way,” Tenzer says.

            A former North Carolina resident agrees. She was in the path of Hugo as the hurricane headed toward Charlotte in 1989. Hurricane Hugo passed directly over Charleston, South Carolina, on September 21, as a category 5 storm with wind speeds in excess of 135 mph and a storm surge of nearly 20 feet. Hugo caused 57 deaths on the U.S. mainland (mostly in North and South Carolina) and 29 deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to NOAA records. Total damage: $9 billion. “I had indoor cats and barn cats there,” she recalls. Apparently, her cats share the same reaction to all severe storms. “Barn cats always seem to find shelter well ahead of a storm.” 
            Some argue that extrasensory perception is really just super senses. In the case of earthquakes, for example, cats may be sensitive to the earth’s vibrations and sound waves right before an earthquake hits, says geophysicist Bruce Presgrave, from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colorado. Other people suggest that cats are able to detect minute shifts in the earth’s magnetic field or in the earth’s magnetic field or in the earth’s static electricity, which occur before a jolt.


During the Oakland Firestorm some cats fled for safety
beforethe fire damaged their homes
            Smell may play a role in why felines are often good fire detectors.  “For some reason or another, cats may be able to sense a fire or [perhaps notice] something different in the air before humans do,” says Lieutenant Edward Campbell, public information officer for the San Francisco Fire Department. “And that can contribute to why cats are able to get out of harm’s way before firefighters come to the rescue.”
            Indeed, cats have an acute sense of smell—60 to 80 million olfactory cells, whereas, humans have five to 20 million. Keen hearing plays a role in fire detection, too. A crackling fire can ignite a cat’s fight-or-flight response. Many indoor/outdoor cats fled for their lives to escapes the raging inferno, as the black clouds of smoke hung overhead on October 20, 1001, during the Oakland-Berkeley Hills fire. Twenty-five people were killed in the six-alarm blaze that ran wild for almost two days before it was contained.
            Ray and Carol Steiner of Bowling Green, Ohio, have their red tabby Manx’s good sense to thank. On an August morning in 1995, Carol’s three-year-old male cat, Ringo, acted as though he wanted to go outside, twice—but didn’t go out. Then, he made a “high-pitched meow,” says Carol that she interpreted as “follow me.” Ringo led Carol to the side of the house where there was a large bed of lava rock. Without hesitation, the cat began digging into the sharp rocks until his paws began to bleed. At last, Carol smelled the odor of gas and quickly sought help. When the gas department inspector arrived, he found the deadly natural gas leak under the rocks—a flame could have sent the neighborhood into a devastating conflagration.

            How did Ringo sense the impending disaster? “He noticed the difference in our behavior,” says Carol Steiner, who thinks the cat showed extrasensory powers. Both Ray and Carol had fallen victim to a host of ill health effects, such as high blood pressure and slurred speech—methane poisoning, according to their doctor’s diagnosis. Odorless natural gas is laced with a tracer, says Carol, which Ringo must have detected. “We were sleeping 19 hours a day,” she says. “Somehow he was able to detect that gas was the culprit.” So, was it ESP? or an excellent sense of smell? (To be continued)