Saturday, June 30, 2012

One Sweet Day: Face to Face with Honey Bees

Out in the Field with Honey Bees

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Homemade Honey Croissants

I didn't get to visit Tasmania or even go to Bakersfield. I passed on visiting honey shops state by state, across America, as one individual suggested I do. Nor did I fly, from bee farm to bee farm, around the world to meet beekeepers and their honey bees. Still, I did go out into the field like a forager bee, and it was my day to meet Italian and Russian honey bees face-to-face…

By 10 a.m., both Seth and Simon, my Brittanys, are dropped off at my vet's kennel for the day while I and my sibling set out on our way to Reno for a day of honey delights. My brother Bruce and I are driving from South Lake Tahoe. There aren't any beekeepers around the lake, probably due to the snow. I don't think the high altitude bothers honey bees.

Hidden Valley Honey
Like two disoriented honey bees, my sibling Bruce and I get lost in rural Reno. It is windy. My sinuses are pesky, complete with a headache and sniffles. At last, we arrive at beekeeper Chris Foster's home away from the feel of the city, and I feel a calm of country.

I am greeted by Chris Foster, one nature-friendly man who is a former director of molecular biology at a small firm. Nowadays, the scientist gone beekeeper and his wife, Karen, are busy living working with their prized possessions: honey bees. In the house, I am also welcomed by a German wirehair, a sporting dog that puts me at ease. Everywhere I look there are reminders that I'm visiting a beekeeper. Bee books, fresh fruit, and jars of honey are all over. Chris tells me that his alfalfa from the Nevadan desert area produces a thick honey that doesn't spoil.

The beekeeper on a mission to expand his 60 colonies to more than 200 explains to me that he usually extracts honey twice a year. Fascinated by the bee-to-honey process, I cannot help but be distracted by the living room window. Outdoors I see a large backyard with bees warming freely around supers (the white boxes bees live in). A constant movement and buzzing outside in the one-acre backyard has grabbed my attention.

I see bees flying hither and thither. I thought they'd all be tucked away in a hive. Funny, though, the dog isn't bothered by the insects-and neither am I. Chris insists honey bees are gentle creatures. I believe him. I'm beginning to sense that this day is not going to be a chilling Killer Bees! Or Swarmed sci-fi film sequel. Instead, I'm feeling a sense of calm like Lily Owens, a character who finds solace in the world of beekeeping in the film The Secret Life of Bees.

The night before, I watched the movie Outbreak (Kevin Spacey's protective gear tears and he's infected with a deadly virus). So, I figure, Why wear a bee veil? A bee could crawl up my jeans and sting me if it wanted to do it. I think, I didn't wear flowery perfume or bright colors like a flower. They'll ignore me. My brother passes on going outside. (He doesn't like scary movies or honey bees.)

I follow Chris outside. I walk amid the bees. I have entered Beeworld. I secretly wish that I, too, could nurture workers and drones-and queens. That's when he asked me to come face-to-face with his 25 new queens … but hey, I think, I am doing fine. No stings yet. Why push the envelope? I do not peek inside the containers of buzzing honey bees.

Back inside the house, we chat about local beekeepers. I am given taper candles, lip balm, and a jar of fresh local honey-with promise for helping my sinuses and allergies. Chris tells me that a lot of the honey he sells at the farmers' market is to people who buy the alfalfa honey to stave off allergies. I want to believe the honey bees that didn't sting me will be my saviors.

Bruce and I pick up the Brittanys, and by six o clock we are back home in South Lake Tahoe. When I walk up to the doorstep I see a big cardboard box with the label “Magnolia Honey.” I feel like a bee entering her hive. Outside my kitchen window I admire the splash of yellow wildflowers. And like a preserving worker bee I find the perfect wildflower honey recipe to take me abroad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meet the Healing Powers of Coffee Author!

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

On July 31, The Healing Powers of Coffee--my 5th book in the Healing Powers series--will be released and I am feeling perked up. Currently, I'm booking book signings, radio shows (both Live and Internet), and interviews for online and hard copy magazines. The fact is, people love coffee and I am the author of a new, edgy book for java junkies...

Barnes and Noble Bookstores

Cal Orey, Author of The Healing Powers of Coffee

Author Signings

Meet Cal Orey, author of the new book The Healing Powers of Coffee, the latest in her series on the healing powers of foods.
Cal will greet customers and sign copies of her books.

San Jose

 Barnes and Noble, Inc.
Saturday August 11, 2012, 3:00 PM
3600 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95117

Barnes and Noble, Inc.
Saturday September 1, 2012, 3:00 PM
6825 Camino Arroyo, Gilroy, CA 95020
(408) 846-5777   

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Brave One: Fighting Back--Un-leashed Dogs

The Writing Gourmet
My former feline Kerouac would tell me to  be  fearless..
Two days ago, my two Brittanys, sibling, and myself were attacked by an ownerless dog. The nearly 100 pound Pit Bull-Lab mix charged at my family. In retrospect, my fur kids allowed their humans to protect them. This is a good thing. If my canines had chosen to protect us the attack could have spun out of control. But my brother and I stepped up to the plate; thanks to our instinctive yelling and screaming at the dog  whose tail was up and growling and trying to take us all on--we escaped by telling the aggressive bully to go away. We survived...
On Friday, as a sensitive one, I went into sad, scared, and anger mode. I still am suffering post traumatic stress disorder. The next day, I realized every time an incident like this one (there have been several in a decade) has happened where I or my family is a victim--I fight back. I won each and every situation. I am relentless like a yellow Lab chasing a ball and begging its human to toss it again. Read: It's not over.
So, I contacted the police, Animal Control, the city, the place where the event happened, an attorney (who specializes in dog bites), a neighbor whose big dog was brutally attacked and bitten by an off-leash dog (she sued the negligent dog owner), dog trainer(s), and even a reliable psychic (I wanted to know why this dog acted out). As an intuitive, I will bet my Brittany duo (and toss in my beloved Siamese) that it was an irresponsible tourist's dog--not a neighbor's pooch.  (It's calm these days, thanks to all the "bad dogs go wild" adventures I tackled in the past.) So, it's a head's up to me that the fight has just begun since summer is less than one week away.
Keep in mind, I love dogs. Ironically, I have a new animal book due to be released next month. The publisher and I chose a handsome Siberian Husky for the front cover, a cat for the back. I have written articles for Dog World and Dog Fancy. I can tell you, any dog can attack a stranger, its guardians, a dog or cat. It's not always the dog's fault--it's the caretaker's ignorance not taking control of their companion animal. 
As a teen, I was taken down by two dogs when riding my bike home at night. They shredded my leg. I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. The result: A car stopped and a human came to my rescue. One doctor's visit later: A shot, blood tests, and I almost had to get a series of rabies shots. (I refused; luck was on my side. No "Old Yeller" ending.) But I still adore dogs. I am a dog person.
So no, I will not forego giving my fur kids their walks. I adore seeing that smile on their faces after exercise--just like when I walk and swim. No, I will not cower and be bullied by a wayward bully dog.  The bottom line: I'm in my pro-active warrior mode. I am going to continue to get a solid plan together and seek more authorities in my town and outside cities to get the right information to protect my rights so I can have peace of mind when I walk my on-leash boys. The fight has just begun. Bring it on.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Unleashed: People Need to Go to Dog School

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
A "Cujo"-type Friday a.m. wasn't my idea of a dog walk in the park!
This morning started off perfect. I woke up, fed my loving, human-dog friendly two Brittanys, brewed a cup of flavored coffee paired with cinnamon toast. Then, one shower later, I put the leashes on my dog duo, and flanked by my sibling we were off for a nice walk in an area that's safe. Within five minutes, a large 80-90 pound Lab-Pit Bull mix ran towards my two dogs, me, and my brother. The canine was off a leash. He growled at my older Brittany and ignited what could have been a dog fight. I went into drama mode (imagine shouting to the dog), as did my brother, and then the aggressive animal was ready to attack my brother, too! Imagine, mega noise from two well-meaning humans, no dog owner, and one big bully with taking us all on on its mind. It was a horrific event.
We did manage to escape--the four of us. (Sure, I wish I had a big German Shepherd or Dobie  at times like this. Read: My Britts do not know how to spell f-i-g-h-t. My youngest, Seth, doesn't know how to growl. It's true.)  My dog trainer (he taught him how to use the treadmill) loves the boys' sweet and even temperament and said "no" to training the boys to be aggressive. Plus, it would be absolutely no contest with a mean-spirited dog twice their size--like the one we encountered today.
Once home, and calm I began to make calls. Because I couldn't track down the dog (in a Stephen King "Cujo" type mode) with an AWOL owner.  (Where was the dog's human? Are they aware that their pooch is auditioning for a monster dog role?) Here I sit (after a swim) with my two dogs--oblivious of what could have taken place. I am dazed and confused--and one lucky dog, so to speak.
I was told by the police department that I can use a spray if a dog or the mean dog in question attacks us (again). But I was also cautioned to be sure we're being attacked. (How does that work?) Also, I was told to call the authorities while being attacked. (How does that work?) I only have two hands and two dogs (40 pounds each). Then, I was advised not to walk my dogs in the area of the happening. This occurred in a place where tourists come... and seem to think our town's leash law does not apply to them. Wrong. Bad human!
The bottom line: It seems to me, if my dogs were hurt it would be my problem.  I'm frustrated. This isn't fair. I'm a companion animal lover and this unleashed big bully ruined my day. I wonder what it will take for things to change and have the community take action. Meanwhile, I'm letting my sleeping dogs lie in peace but I'm in a human fight back mode. If that unleashed dog (we're hardly alone) attacks my two-legged and four-legged family again--I won't run away with my tail between my legs this time around. Count on it. (Tips on keeping the peace if Cujo comes after you.)
--A responsible dog lover

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's Coffee Time Year-Round

By Cal Orey
The Writing Gourmet
Today, at Lake Tahoe I'm feeling the warmth of pre-summer. My days of swimming at the indoor resort are limited as the tourists begin to swarm into the basin. Soon, it's to the outdoor pool and walking the dogs earlier than later. The windows are open, the fish aquarium lights are left on less, and the critters sleep on top of the comforters, not underneath. But my favorite premium fresh ground coffee (served hot) is still in my life...
In the a.m., my first treat (after feeding the Brittany duo), is brewing a fresh cup of java. Yes, I still bring it back with me to the king sized waterbed and tune into CNN and fetch e-mails. It's my time--coffee time.
These days, I'm booking a tour for my new book The Healing Powers of Coffee (Kensington, July 31). Sure, it could have been a cozy debut for winter but who doesn't like coffee in the morning, late  night, and iced coffee during hot afternoons. My book has you covered--all seasons.  To hold you over till next month, here's a fine recipe from a fine source from my fine book! (For a peek preview, with a click of your mouse, take a look at an excerpt in Elegant Living Magazine, pages 12-13.)

Seize the Day Cafe au Lait
* * *
2/3 cup low-fat (2 percent) milk
2/3 cup hot, brewed French or other dark roast coffee
2 teaspoons chocolate-flavored syrup
Grated chocolate, or freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

In a small saucepan combine the milk, chocolate syrup, and almond extract until blended. Bring just to a boil over medium-low heat. Pour the milk mixture and coffee simultaneously into a French cafe au lait bowl, or large coffee cup. Top with grated chocolate or freshly ground nutmeg, if desired. Served immediately. Makes 1 serving.
(Courtesy: Coffee Science Organization.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vinegar & Honey Rx -- Fat Fighters? Hope or Hype?

By Cal Orey
The Writing Gourmet

Today, I received a message that sour vinegar does not help you lose unwanted pounds. The messenger quoted a diet guru (ironically who carries extra weight)--yet I maintain a slim, fit 118 pounds, size 4, and I'm 5'5".
What's more, Dr. Louise Gittleman explains in my book The Healing Powers of Vinegar exactly how apple cider vinegar can help you to fight fat. It's the acetic acid. And yes, it can help to suppress your appetite so you'll eat less, lose more. And I dish out more ways--an entire chapter--on how ACV and other vinegars can indeed help people to shed unwanted weight.
But note, if you take vinegar and still eat junk food, consume too many calories, and don't get a move on--forget vinegar. It won't help. It's the entire package of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle--fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, poultry, fish, olive oil--that will get you slim and keep you there.
So, is The Healing Powers of Vinegar all hype? Nope. But it's not a magic bullet either. And I repeat this again and again in the book. What's more, personally I use ACV topically but I do turn to honey in baking and cooking. It's a healthier sweetener--you use less and that means less unwanted weight. The bottom line: If you turn to ACV, sweet raw honey, and fat-burning tea--especially green but calming chamomile is fine, too--you'll fit in those skinny jeans, like I do. No overweight fellow author can tell me that it doesn't work. It does. I'm living proof. Yet remember, it's a lifestyle not just vinegar that keeps fat at bay.