Saturday, June 28, 2014

Life on Hold...Thank You Mercury Retrograde

By Cal Orey

“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.”

The serenity of Lake Tahoe is about to change

Welcome to the second Mercury Retrograde spell this year. It ends July 2.  I felt the "shadow" in the beginning of June And it comes back in October. Great. I can hardly wait. This time around I got slammed every which way, including delays to lack of communication, and it's not over. I'm counting the days--and simply reflecting on the absurdity of chaos. Less than one week and it's history.

A three week period in which the planet Mercury appears to be in backwards motion. during this time human beings experience many adverse effects, such as memory loss, loss of time, loss of items, loss of common sense. As for technology many unexpected glitches occur during this time, such as software crashes and emails getting lost --urban dictionary

Living in a Old Tahoe Style Cabin Has Its Ambiance
* * *

Let me count the ways how this pesky period  of planet Mercury and its wayward effects has affected me...
* The car accident--June 5, rear-ended by a 90-year-old woman driving on a suspended license.
* My on leash beloved pooch (in well-behaved mode) escaped a scary big bully dog attack last week at my fave beach.
I wish I had my black cat, a good omen
* Renewing my passport... Still waiting. Last time it arrived in two weeks. Now I'm told hold on for another three weeks.
* Trying to get the Healing Powers series in Canadian bookstores. It could happen or not...
* If the books don't get stocked in Quebec, I'm not sure if it's a sign I should detour my trip to another destination.  Another planet?
* Speaking of trips, due to confusion, thanks to Mercury, I have not pushed the button linked to the computer screen showing a fare to get to and from another country to book a flight as of yet.
* My home. Odd circumstances hint that I may be relocating or maybe it's just listening to the wrong people at the wrong time who don't really know if such is the case.
* Waiting for the insurance adjuster to come up with a fair offer linked to the accident that rudely affected my calm life and well-being.
* Book edits are in the works but I'm not working on them as of yet...I do sense they will arrive next week. This is probably a blessing.

And these are just a few of my favorite Murphy's Law happenings through the Retrograde. Not fun for Type A goal-oriented individual. "Chill"? What else can I do. But then, we have the sci-fi type Langoliers aka tourists coming up the hill for Independence Day kicking off the summer. Perhaps I should plan a getaway now to anywhere but here.

And so it goes. For those of you who don't believe in the Mercury Retrograde, I get it. I didn't believe either until all these things happened to me. Come October I will be prepared and in protective mode to avoid any delay, communication gone bad, computer crash or the unexpected.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Author Anticipates Novelty Coming...

By Cal Orey

Fantasizing about upcoming trip

As June wraps up, with the New Moon on the horizon, I find myself waiting for the outcome of where I go for a long overdue trip. It depends on a few things. For starters, friends and family note that I'm not going out of my comfort zone by revisiting Canada. "Why not fly to Europe?" Perhaps, one big obstacle is that we're talking seven hours versus threefold the time in an airplane. Sure, Spain or Ireland are still my back-up country plans...but I don't know if I can do a plane for 48 hours, let alone kenneling my fur kids even longer. Not a vacation.

Currently, online bookstores in Canada carry my Healing Powers series. My goal? I'm attempting the challenge to get the hard copy books into one of the big stores in Montreal. If this happens, I will see it as a neon sign that this is the place I will be visiting. And so I wait for Lady Fate.
Check out page 8

Speaking of waiting... My passport is due for delivery in the next week or a couple. I just discovered I need it to get back to the U.S. from Canada. I recall that now because when I was in my 20s I had no I.D. The authorities kept me, the hippie girl, captive for hours. Now all grown up, once I get my papers, I will book my flight--to wherever it will take me.  I contacted the shuttle bus people; they actually come to your home! And, I alerted the pet kennel and my vet. While I don't love the idea of leaving my companion animals behind (I usually take my dogs and cat) I will have peace of mind.

UNVEILING OF NEW BOOK  I sensed the new 2015 book catalog would be released any day. It happened. On page 8, The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated graces the page. The book is in the final stages of production. And this gives me something to look forward to for the fall and winter--along with a trip, a gift to me for my birthday.

So, I am in waiting mode: I anticipate a renewed passport, getting my Healing Powers series in a Canadian bookstore outside of the U.S. (the books have been translated in more than a dozen languages), booking  a flight, the proofing and release of my new book, fall and winter. It's a lot to look forward to but for now, I will chill and let the universe take care of it all. Will it be Quebec? British Columbia? Barcelona? Hotel ads pop up every day on my computer flaunting Montreal. Time will tell. But the airport shuttle guy wants me to book now...How can I do that when I'm not sure where I am going?  We wait.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Going to Europe or...Savoring Montreal, Quebec?

By Cal Orey
A few weeks ago, I began planning a much wanted trip to Europe. Getting my passport renewed was a doable challenge. It's in the works and should arrive within a few weeks. Next on the list was to book a flight to Rome, Italy. But then things changed... 

I did not know flying abroad would take more than a day. Flight times range from 21 hours to 31 hours. Going the distance via coach? Ugh. Who in the real world could or would do it? I'd feel like a sardine among hundreds. Team that with potential turbulence, no sleep, flight food, and jet lag. It's enough to make me stay home, go swimming, hot tub, and take the two boys--my beloved canines around the Lake or to San Francisco for diversity, pubs, culture and more.  But hold the phone. Montreal, Quebec could be almost-almost be like a little Europe!

Nah, if I stay home I'll always have regrets. But that doesn't mean I can't change my original plans. Sure, Dublin, Ireland is on the wish list but we're talking 17 hour and more flights and two layovers. Barcelona, Spain is also alluring if I didn't have to fly to get there. So, I got the idea to go back to Quebec. Decades ago I hitchhiked to the city and was hit by cultural shock. Nobody warned me that it was a French speaking province. The metric system was foreign to me. I escaped to Ontario which is more Americanized and I felt almost at home. I vowed to return to Montreal when I became an author...

So, here I am. With my 2nd edition of The Healing Powers of Olive Oil due out at the end of the year, the series working for me like good kids all grown up. I'm almost ready to click my mouse and book the flight to Quebec.  Twice but I was saved by a psychic network caller's phone ring. We're talking 7 hours to get there, awesome hotels, great architecture, good eats, and a taste of Europe. Well, today my vote is for Quebec...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Tribute to My Father--a Dog Man with Heart

By Cal Orey

The 20th century, a happy time for dad and mom
Today is Father's Day. Sure, my dad is in Parent Heaven, along with my mom, the love of his life, but that doesn't mean I'm fatherless. Jack is in my mind and heart--his spirit is around me despite the body is gone.
My dad taught me to be competitive, a trait required for authors

We had a love-hate relationship. We didn't see eye to eye on many things: politics, religion, and risk-taking. For instance, he was Protestant, I was baptized and confirmed Catholic. He was Republican, I was Democrat.  He wanted me to be a working dental assistant--not an author. He told me to write on weekends and get a "real" job for security. It was my mom that said, "You can always be a secretary, go to school and be a writer." And I did just that. But I see now my dad wanted me to be comfortable and not suffer from the ups and downs endured by authors in the writing world.

Moving on to the feel-good pleasures I will always be thankful to my father. Dad taught me how to swim and how swimming is a great exercise and way to chill.  As a little girl I remember going to a club in south San Jose with two huge pools, swim club to compete, a soothing Los Gatos lodge where we'd swim and sun all day. And now, I swim every other day at a resort pool and other spots year round. I give sincere thanks to him for this exercise for the mind, body, and spirit.

I love my father for teaching the healing powers of swimming

I have my dad's red hair, brown eyes
And that leads me to the wide wonderful world of dogs. Canines are another link to me and my dad. He was the one that got us a Boxer...a Dalmatian, Norwegian Elkhound, and Llasa Apso. I loved each one of these dogs. In fact, my bond with the dog followed me in my travels hitchhiking across America, Canada, and Mexico. Each day, now in the present, when I awake to my Brittany and Aussie, it's a link to my father--a dog man like authors John Steinbeck, Jack London,  and cartoonist Charles Schulz, three dog men (who reminded me of dad in many ways with their characteristics) whom I've written about in books and articles.

Moving on to men. My father picked up on my independent nature and feisty, masculine personality. I am outspoken and do not like to be told what to do. He actually forecasted that I wouldn't marry and the disease that took his life to another place. (Born on October 20,  he a Libra/Scorpio cuspy, was an intuitive, like me.) While I have endured three long-term loves I find myself balanced when alone (my father preferred a mate) but flanked by loyal companion animals.

Trees, water, a dog like our Norwegian Elkhound
My dad was creative. He landscaped our frontyard and  backyard complete with a patio. Both areas were like an oasis to me as a kid. Trees in the suburbs were probably the beginning of my love for the mountains... When I grew up I gravitated to forests--ended up living in Santa Cruz mountains and the Sierra, Lake Tahoe. Thank you, Dad...
Where I grew up, trees, cozy burbs

My sibling loves dogs, water, trees--like my dad
Sunday morning. I am alone. I am amid two dogs and a cat. I am a working author.  I have these things to thank my father for and one sibling. I know my dad and brother developed a close bond; sometimes sibling rivalry existed. But now, my brother and I are best friends. He's like my surrogate dad...and he, too, loves dogs, swimming, trees. So I've come full circle. Thank you Dad. Happy Father's Day. We love you now and always. I hope they have golf courses, infinity swimming pools, and dogs in heaven.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Week After...Rear Ended on Hwy. 50 Lake Tahoe

By Cal Orey

Back is stiff...Swimming, hot tub, heat, ice...
aura better. Trying to heal mind, body...

My Aussie sensed the driver who hit us was
 "off" and dangerous
I admit it. I have never been in a car accident. But last week changed that fact. After being rear ended at 5:45 P.M., I realize that I'm not invincible on the road. Ironically, I haven't driven a car for a long period of time (and it's not due to seizures and I don't drink). This oddity goes back to when I was 16 years old. In Driver's Ed, I, two other students were taken out to drive. My test was to master a winding road. Unfortunately, I flunked. And due to my lack of skill four of us including the irate instructor almost went flying down a steep ravine. He yelled at me. A lot. He vowed to never take me out driving. Not ever.

Pair that experience with the Driver's Ed films. You know the ones: Those graphic cautionary images of people in deadly accidents. Not to forget the horrific accidents I witnessed on Hwy. 17 on the way to the coast. Enough is enough. As a sensitive teen (one who sensed oncoming earthquakes and weather changes), I made the decision not to drive. So I ended up doing what lots of post-hippies did in the 20th century: boldly hitchhike (across America, Canada, and Mexico); ride a ten speed bike for keeping in shape and going to parks and fraternity parties; take buses, trains to college; book planes for book tours and vacations; and grab cabs anywhere they exist. 

Moving On... Fast forward to present-day. After being hit by a dazed and confused elderly woman who was driving with a suspended license for four years, I get it. Life as I know it can end any time, any day. It was a frightening ordeal and one I'd like to forget. But this week tossing the details again and again upon the request of authorities, the accident couldn't be tossed. The absurd accident is being scrutinized by an insurance adjuster.
The 90 yr old driver admitted to her ins. co. she rear ended us 
...she still drives 
 I swim, hot tub, use ice/heat to heal my aches and pains

Three doctor appointments, 10 attorneys later--I am exhausted--mind, body, and spirit. The diagnosis: Whiplash and post traumatic stress disorder. My body still feels like a truck hit it. Read: Stiff from neck to ankle. I walk like a 90 year old woman who has osteoporosis. I am sad, mad, and glad that I'm still alive's not fair. The elderly drives lives on and I hurt mind and body. 

Personal injury attorneys whom I spoke with fascinated me. I swear they wished I had a severe brain injury that affects my daily life. One was begging me to get a cat scan and MRI. Another lawyer was obsessed with my sibling's SUV. He asked me several times, "Are you sure it there isn't any body damage?" My brother's mechanic didn't find a scratch. But during my one week intensive crash course (pun intended) in Car Accidents 101 I discovered that you can get a bad whiplash at a low speed of car movement.  But my brain is still in working order and I don't need to search for the wizard of oz.
Zen is zen-like and I love him 

So, I continue to replay the drama complete with police and paramedics, not to leave out the potential stress of losing my two beloved canines who were hyperventilating due to the heat during the intervention on Highway 50 where it all happened. Recalling the details is not fun. My medical doctor, a general practitioner, talked me down and suggested counseling. He also told me that I survived. I have a life to live and focus on my trip to Europe not what could have been the outcome. And I'm doing just that. Also, I'm following doctor's orders: forcing myself to swim (easy while in the water, not so much after), walk my two boys every day (a chore, especially the Aussie who is pushing 50 pounds), and try to tune out the spooky rerun of the event.

Meanwhile, both my brother's and the driver's insurance company are on it--reviewing the case. It appears one of them will foot the bill for my medical bills, pain and suffering, and who knows what else. So, here I sit flanked by Zen (the Siamese kitty who helped lower my BP the night of the accident), Simon, who had a close call if he had hit the windshield (there is a dog god), and Skyler at my feet, who I held onto for dear life.

So, life goes on. I am resilient, as I told my doctor. I can cope with the experience and time will help heal but now I'm skittish when on the road. I will swim. I will walk. I will work. I will travel in a few months. The only thing that bothers me and I can't kick is, this woman--like so many elderly people--has a suspended driver's license and if she's caught driving again it's not a big deal. If she hits another driver or pedestrian it's not a felony. In my book it's a mortal sin. How can she sleep at night?  Shame on her. I am forced to deal with her selfishness and negligence by driving with a suspended license and making her problem my problem. It's time to put my life back together. I will survive. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Author's Dog Sensed Danger, Car Accident Hits Home

By Cal Orey

Skyler sensed danger; his name means
On Thursday, June 5, it was a warm pre-summer day at Lake Tahoe. My sibling, two dogs, and me finished our long, peaceful walk and headed to the pet store. On the way back home we were stuck in heavy traffic. An elderly woman in a white car stared at my 1 1/2 year old Austrian Shepherd. Skye (his name means protector) loves people but this time he barked nonstop at her. She was "off"... I said to her that he doesn't do this. She had a blank, vacant stare. No words. I was confused by my Aussie's warning...

My brother drove on and within a minute or two a loud crash rudely happened to our car, our lives. My strong senior Brittany Simon stumbled off the front seat and was headed for the windshield as my sibling also lost balance but kept the car from spinning out of control. I yelled, "Grab Simon" as I went into caretaker mode despite the shake-up. I, in the back with Skyler, held onto him but my head and upper body lunged forward (I hit my right cheek bone on the seat), and back I went hard onto the back seat. It all happened so fast. 

We were hit by another car; it felt like being in the Bumper Car amusement ride. I looked back and it was the same lady that Skye barked at. She looked dazed when I went into protective mom mode and shouted, "Pull over!  Pull over now!" I was scared. I was angry. I was in shock. My dogs were hot and panting. Cars were speeding by. Fight or flight syndrome kicked in (I wanted to flee and be anywhere but there) but my brother was concerned about the lady's well-being...

My 11 year old Brittany almost hit the windshield
He got out of the car and complained his back hurt, walked over to the woman who rear ended our car. She told my sibling that she was 99, shouldn't be driving because her license had expired for years. She wasn't alert. 

Amazingly, there was no damage to either cars. When my brother came back to me I was holding the back of my head. I said, "It ached." We agreed to call the police for her, the woman in the white vehicle who hit family.

Within five minutes several police cars and paramedics arrived on the scene. The drama was overwhelming for this sensitive one who lives and works in a serene environment. My dogs were calm but in need of water which I begged the men for but nobody had it except Gatorade! The authorities wanted me to go to the hospital. I was frightened. We were on a busy highway, all these uniformed men opened our car doors and I was holding onto my two boys' leashes. I was terrified. More words darted, "Let us check you." I didn't want to leave my fur kids. So, one paramedic began asking me questions.  "What year is it?" I answered, "1900." His eyes widened. We both were concerned. But he darted in a soothing voice, "That's okay. Let's try again." I passed the verbal questions.

After a grueling ten minute debate about taking me to the hospital I agreed to monitoring myself at home. "Yes, if I feel dizzy, nauseated, or have blurred vision I will go to the hospital." We were allowed to drive home after getting an Event card of the accident. My dogs were on their best behavior; both survived. It was a close call that could have ended up worse. But my head, neck, right cheek, and back pain kicked in more.

At home, my sanctuary, I went to the bedroom and put ice on the back of my head and heat on my back. I take pride in that my blood pressure is often under 120/70/57--a low heart rate because I swim, walk my dogs, eat right, and stay lean. But when I took my vitals it was 200/100/108. For two hours I couldn't get it down. I was scared. "What if I get the head injury symptoms?" and "What if I have to got get hooked up like ET, the alien in a fave film?" and "What if I lose my writer brains?" But I tried to chill and remember a college counselor once told me that most what ifs do not happen.

By 9 p.m. my blood pressure was good. I was still upset, replaying the accident over and over. I called the woman who hit our car and affected my health and loved ones. Her daughter answered the phone and was abrupt: "I don't know you. How do I know you didn't hit my mother? Do not call us again." In between her words I told her how I could have lost my bother, my dogs, my head hurt. She did not care.
I love walking my boys and seeing their smiles

So, an attorney returned my call. I saw a doctor in the morning because my head hurt badly. After a two hour thorough neuro and full body exam the diagnosis: whiplash with combined post traumatic stress disorder. I continue to replay the incident in my mind. More physical therapy next week.

We  filed a claim against the woman who has car insurance yet we were told her license had been suspended since 2011. She was not allowed to drive home; her car was towed away.  On Saturday I was informed the woman admitted to the insurance company people that she indeed hit our car. 

I sit here in bed with back pain. I haven't been able to work. Today, I won't walk my dogs or swim. My life has temporarily been put on hold. I am happy to be alive as well as my family but I am sad that this woman drove illegally, hit us and had made my life chaotic. One more thing:  If my sensitive Aussie ever barks at a stranger, you can bet my life on it I will listen and take action. He gave us a head's up that danger was ahead. I wish I had listened.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mediterranean Food Author Plans Trip to Italy or Ireland

By Cal Orey

EARTHSHAKING UPDATE: Mission accomplished. Passport renewal is now in progress. Lots of papers filled out, signed, stairs to climb (whew!), family history to recall, paid. Done! We wait for the mail. Italy or Ireland or? Having a Libra (The Scales) month ... less quakes in Dublin, more amazing food in Rome!

I am excited and doing the film "Flashdance" moves in my head. I have finally begun to spread my wings and feel that wanderlust spirit like I did in my freewheeling twenties. This week (due to a gift from a sponsor linked to my work) I am planning a late summer journey to the Mediterranean. This trip has been postponed too many times, too many years. I've lost count but I'm setting out all alone to once again find my "groove"... 

I do recall reading one of those  books entitled, "Traveling through Europe on a $5 per Day" and my pages were dog-eared. Sadly, my ex significant other said, "If you go, I will not be here when you come back." I stayed and enrolled in grad school. He left later, anyhow. And then, I was the starving wannabe magazine journalist, living from paycheck to paycheck. Not to forget the days of one too many companion animals to pick up and leave to Europe. And so I made due with my love of European cuisine--at restaurants, frozen foods, and now home-cooked!

In each one of my Healing Powers series books (it began with Vinegar and that paved the way to Olive Oil (and allowed me to meet Italian Gemma Sciabica, one of my mentors), Chocolate, Honey, even Coffee) published by Kensington Publishing Corp., I whine, "Everyone has gone abroad" and that includes my mother whom went by herself to Italy, Spain, and France. And now, it's my turn. It's time...

Tomorrow after my much anticipated morning swim and hot tub, I'm renewing my passport at a place nearby! The last time I left the country was in 1996: British Columbia. What's more, this time it's not Quebec (I did do that at 22 via hitchhiking with a pooch), it's Italy and I can see it, feel it, and almost taste it. It's going to really happen. Finally, my dream is going to come to fruition!

My last big goal happened 15 years ago. I relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Sierras. It was my vision to make the transition from magazine journalist to book author. One Healing Powers series later (with an underlying Mediterranean diet and lifestyle theme) my idea to go abroad is in the works!

Yesterday, in my rustic Old Tahoe cabin, I learned that it's cheaper to go pre-fall versus the summer. No shots needed because it's before flu season. No queasies because the skies should be calm unlike winter. No anxiety (despite all the spooky films I've watched from "Snakes on a Plane" to "Red Eye" because I feel like it's meant to be for me to get off the hill, go to Reno and fly away solo to the place I've been fantasizing about since I was a kid.

The worst part? I must leave my fur kids behind: one beloved Aussie, 1 1/2 years; one senior Brittany, 11 years; and one Siamese kitty, 5 years. But today I made the decision to board them at my vet's kennel. This will give me peace of mind. I will have my boys awaiting my arrival when I get home; a clean house full of love and new experiences and memories; and we'll all live happily ever after. So, it's my pre-birthday gift and before the 2nd edition to my Revised and Updated book release of The Healing Powers of Olive Oil. It's meant to be. But now is it possible to learn Italian this summer?